Welcome to our Year in Review for 2019, a fully fact-checked compilation of all the news you'll be trying to forget just twelve months from now. While 2019 hasn’t begun yet, our Magic 8 Ball has been working overtime to confirm everything you are about to read, enabling us to predict with 100% accuracy…
As the new year begins on Tuesday, 25% of Americans will ring in the holiday with a hangover while another 25% show them the videos of every stupid thing they did the night before. Even atheists will be thanking God that 2018 is gone and the nation's collective sigh of relief will be powerful enough to spin every wind turbine in the country.
As business resumes on January 2, wild fluctuations in the stock market will result from concerns over the Fed. Or Brexit. Or Elon Musk’s new haircut. The same “experts” who failed to predict the turmoil will tell us it's absolutely the perfect time to buy. Or sell. Or hold. If you don't follow their advice precisely, you will be bankrupt by January 10th.
As the third Monday of January arrives, we’ll all be celebrating the birthday of a truly great American: Robert E. Lee. Well, he was a great American until that unpleasantness with the rebellion, but bygones are bygones in Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia. There will also be some sort of observance for Martin Luther King, Jr. that weekend, assuming the federal government's shutdown is over by then. If the shutdown is still in effect, federal workers will be prohibited from taking the day off, as that would be double dipping.
Late in the month, a warm spell will convince Americans that winter has ended after only four weeks. Three days later, the temperature will drop 34 degrees, reflecting concerns about the Fed. Or Brexit. Or Elon Musk’s new haircut.
Speaking of Elon Musk’s haircut, Groundhog Day arrives on February 2 when Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his burrow to find his shadow, or not. Following a tradition as old as public relations stunts, the ageless rodent will predict that winter will end on March 20.
It’ll be Groundhog Day all over again on February 3 as the New England Patriots play against themselves in the Super Bowl. As always, the game won’t matter much because everyone will be focused on the commercials, the halftime show, and cutaway shots of Gisele in the owner’s box.
Valentine’s Day is February 14. We thought we would mention it for the guys who need a reminder, which basically means all of them. Hint: When your S/O says she doesn’t want you to make a big deal about it, she wants you to make a big deal about it.
Federal offices will be closed February 18 for Presidents’ Day, although most people won’t be able to distinguish this government shutdown from the other three we’ll experience by then. Millions of men will schedule impromptu getaways with their significant others to atone for forgetting Valentine’s Day.
On February 24, movie fans will tune in to see the Academy Awards hosted by a four-year-old girl who has never posted anything on the internet. Shockingly, she’ll step down at the last moment when it is revealed that she called another girl a doody-ball in pre-school. The search for a less controversial host will finally end as the Academy settles on a hologram of Fred Rogers.
In other cinematic news, Dwayne Johnson will release a new movie in which he runs around New York for two hours and breaks the Chrysler Building. First weekend revenues top $27 billion and a sequel is planned. Speaking of sequels, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga announce plans for a remake of their remake of the remake of the remake of the remake of “A Star is Born.” The re-re-re-re-re-remake will be a hip-hop version by Lin-Manuel Miranda in which the hero dies at the end. It will be a stretch.
February will end quickly, as it usually does, and March will begin with National Employee Appreciation Day. The holiday will be observed by only 22 people, however, since everybody else is now an “independent contractor.”
In related news, Uber will announce that its driver pool includes 113 million people, which will bring the Industrial Revolution to a long-overdue demise. Uber will report that its drivers (who are absolutely NOT employees) outnumber U.S. manufacturing workers by a 2,000:1 ratio and the United States is no longer an industrialized nation. Millions of Americans will celebrate by ordering cake delivery from Grubhub.
Daylight Saving Time will arrive March 10, sowing the usual confusion as Americans forget how to adjust their clocks. Just remember to spring forward to your nightstand so you can set your clock back one hour and catch a few more ZZZZs. How could it be any simpler??
Ten days later, plus or minus an hour, the sun will cross the equator to usher in spring, proving Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction yet again. Americans will cheer that the daylight is finally longer than darkness, although millions will be disappointed to learn that vernal equinox is not a hipster term for sex.
As the days get longer, taxpayers will prepare for their own rite of spring: income tax filing. The Internal Revenue Service will announce on April 1 that its computers have been hacked, but China will fess up and restore the IRS servers by the end of the day in history's greatest April Fool’s joke. Also, the IRS now says you owe them $3.7 million.
April will offer more holidays and observances than any other month that begins with Apri, including such well-known holidays as Easter, Passover, Arbor Day, and celebrations of the Confederacy in Alabama and Mississippi.
On April 25, workers everywhere will gear up for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Starbucks will report its strongest sales day in 30 years as their stores overflow with “independent contractors” and their children. In honor of the occasion, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will release a new book about the challenges of raising children with only seven nannies, exhorting working women everywhere to lean in until they can afford eight.
April ends with the announcement of Tony Award nominees, but the unveiling lacks the usual suspense. It’s pretty much a given that Lin-Manuel Miranda will win all the awards, even though he isn’t nominated for anything.
May begins with Lei Day in Hawaii, which turns out to be a lot less exciting than it sounds, followed by the Kentucky Derby, which will also be a lot less exciting than it sounds. As always, the Derby will remind everyone of their first time, which dominated their thoughts for months and then…that was it?
The Run for the Roses gets plenty of competition from Cinco de Mayo and National Explosive Ordnance Disposal Day, followed quickly by Ramadan and yet another salute to the Confederacy, this time in South Carolina.
Mother’s Day is May 12. We thought we would mention it for the guys who need a reminder, which basically means all of them. Hint: When mom says she doesn’t want you to make a big deal about it, she wants you to make a big deal about it.
After years of stalling, the United Kingdom finally exits the European Union, although Theresa May’s replacement insists Britain and the EU will always have a special bond. The EU immediately files for a restraining order to prevent future contacts.
We’ll close out the month with Memorial Day, the official start to Gastronomical Summer and the peak day for barbecue-related visits to the emergency room. As we all know, Memorial Day honors those brave souls who gave their lives in defense of our great nation. Of course, it also gives our friends in Mississippi an opportunity to honor another hero, Jefferson Davis, who didn’t give his life for the United States but is considered praiseworthy regardless. The purists in Alabama will wait until his actual birthday for their celebrations, but they won’t be forgetting him, either. In honor of the holidays, 26 black men will be arrested for vagrancy while waiting for the stop light to turn green.
In a shocking development at the Tonys, Lin-Manuel Miranda fails to win the awards for stage lighting or scrim design. Grant Thornton is fired immediately and a recount is ordered.
June arrives with new improvements from the nation’s airlines, including an opportunity for passengers to save money by having total strangers sit on their laps and a special premium section that includes air. Just when fliers thought it couldn’t get any better…
June also brings the summer solstice, the longest period of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s all downhill from here. The federal government shuts down for Independence Day on July 4, although it will be nearly impossible to tell the difference, and nobody can figure out how to make their kids feel guilty enough to recognize Parents’ Day on the 28th.
In art news, Banksy earns a record $722 million in July for agreeing not to paint anything for a private collector from Saudi Arabia. The art world is rocked three days later as other collectors claim he also refused to paint anything for them. Banksy collection values plummet dramatically, but then rebound after Banksy announces that he shredded the painting he refused to make for the Saudi collector.
July ends on a sad note as foodies across the world realize that kale is just another kind of cabbage, leading inevitably to the bankruptcy of Whole Foods Market. Amazon.com rushes to save its investment in the upscale grocer by acquiring all the water in the world and offering it at $17 per bottle.
August isn’t much better, as slightly more than half the population observes Women’s Equality Day, but only for 20 hours, and there are no Confederate heroes left to beatify in Alabama.
Tech news comes to the fore in August as the nation is rocked by yet another security breach. Prosecutors indict an illegal alien known only as “Siri” after uncovering an unprecedented extortion scheme involving 32 million Americans and their “private” conversations at home. Details are limited early in the investigation, but women named “Alexa” and “Cortana” are named as unindicted co-conspirators.
Facebook is largely unscathed by the extortion revelations, but COO Sheryl Sandberg gets her turn on the hot seat when she testifies before the Senate about “special access” to user data that Facebook provided to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Although she admits the dear leader obtained access to each senator’s, um, private photo collections, she assures them she obtained a pinky-swear that he wouldn’t misuse the information.
Things start looking up in September, as federal employees get another day off during their seventh shutdown of the year. Labor Day will mark the official end of Gastronomical Summer and the return to work for 16 employees and 238 million “independent contractors.” Barbecue-related visits to emergency rooms spike again, which proves that fire is actually dangerous and real men do not read instruction manuals.
Speaking of instruction manuals, Apple will announce its iPhone 20 on September 8, including a new X-ray camera and a private “gentlemen’s club” hosted by Siri. Undeterred by recent security breaches, 42 million men buy the phone on its release date and 38 million of them use sirilovesme123 as their passwords.
Right on the heels of the autumnal equinox (Again, not about SEX!!) the Emmy Awards air on FOX. Chastened by the host controversy at the Academy Awards, the Emmys are to be hosted by a woman who is 105 years old and has never been on the internet. Unfortunately, videos of her Thanksgiving rant from 2009 surface two days before the ceremony, leading the academy to replace her with a hologram of Mother Teresa, speaking in Albanian.
October brings disappointing news, as the federal budget year is about to end with a $3 trillion deficit. The surprise culprit is overtime pay for all the federal employees who must be compensated for both their regular eight hour shifts and for 16 hours of daily overtime they didn't put in during the 19 shutdowns so far this year.
The shutdown finally ends on October 11, just in time for federal employees to enjoy their 3-day weekend in honor of Christopher Columbus, who showed up one day outside a port of entry and claimed immediate benefits. Several states observe an Indigenous People’s Day of one sort or another, while Southern states consider a new holiday for Jefferson Sessions.
October 16 is Boss’s Day, which turns out to be a mandatory observance for both employees and “independent contractors,” who are ABSOLUTELY NOT employees but have bosses nonetheless. A good time will be had by all, or else.
Sweetest Day is October 19. Okay, guys, how many hints do we have to put in this post?
As Halloween ends and November begins, pretty much everyone forgets how to reset their clocks for the end of Daylight Saving Time. It is so simple, people. After you fall, you pick yourself up, so remember to pick up one hour of time from your clock by setting it forward. Seriously, how much easier could we make this??
It’s too bad everyone will lose an hour of sleep during the first weekend of November, especially the people who are planning to run the New York City Marathon. In an incredible scheduling snafu, the marathon begins on Rikers Island and ends just three hours later, after everyone has lost track of how many times they’ve circled the jail.
The following weekend brings Veterans Day (Confederate Veterans Day everywhere south of Minnesota) and countless speeches from politicians. Vets across the nation will be thanked for their service and honored as the real American heroes, because it takes a true hero to survive eight months while waiting for an appointment at the VA. As they say, it’s the thought that counts.
The days get darker as we roll along to Thanksgiving and the 32nd government shutdown of 2019. Federal employees look forward to receiving three turkeys each when the shutdown ends and Congress approves their back pay. Men everywhere search frantically for the Dadwrites guide to carving a turkey and both men and women try to remember our advice about how to be the perfect Thanksgiving guest. No links can be found.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, finds empty parking lots and a dearth of shoppers as bloated Americans accelerate their online shopping. Television networks go dark, due to a lack of video showing crowded stores or anxious shoppers. Office productivity triples the following week, as all 14 of the nation’s “employees” will have completed all their shopping by Saturday afternoon.
December starts on a somber note, as Americans consider the legacy of Pearl Harbor Day, which is observed as Appomattox Day in Virginia. The War on Christmas continues at an unrelenting pace as 49 states outlaw wreaths, trees and demands for figgy pudding. Liberal radio stations ban “Here Comes Santa Claus” for fat shaming and “Frosty the Snowman” for his white privilege.
Just before the-holiday-previously-known-as-Christmas arrives, the parenting world is rocked by the discovery that the "Elf on the Shelf" is really Alexa in disguise. After testifying against Siri and Cortana earlier in the year, Alexa entered the witness protection program, where she used U.S. Marshals as cover for her newest extortion scheme.
Continuing the spate of bad news, the winter solstice brings the shortest period of daylight in 2019 and another disappointment for Americans who hoped solstice was a hipster reference to sex. (What is it with you Americans, anyway?)
Christmas arrives on December 25. Guys? Write this down already.
As always, absolutely nothing major will happen in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which will give everyone a chance to finish the leftover egg nog and settle in for a long winter’s nap. And that’s the way it is, or will be, for 2019. Here’s wishing all of you a great new year with no surprises, other than the good kind.
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For total surrender, press two
Lots of strange thoughts pop into my head while I’m listening carefully to the menu options that have changed. Submitted this week for your consideration…
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Merry Alban Arthan
When I posted last week about the depression that afflicts people around this time of year, some readers wondered if it was a cry for help on my part. Was I writing about the triple whammy of yearend, darkness, and holiday letdown because I am depressed by these things?
I'm a guy who loves cycling and dining al fresco and that day in June when the women on Michigan Avenue bring out their summer wear, so you’d think I’d be despondent now that winter is about to start. Don’t make any wagers on that assumption, however, because you could not be more wrong.
Continuing my unbroken record of strangeness, I am more likely to be depressed during the middle of the year than at its end. Like my Druid ancestors, I find reasons to celebrate and mourn the celestial cycle. And this is the week to celebrate Alban Arthan, the shortest day of the year.
The December solstice is a day of celebration for all Druids, not because winter is about to begin, but because the sun is at its southernmost average azimuth (NB: S&S) and the daylight will increase from here. The weather will still be crappy, but I’ll get to see more of it.
Chicago weather is ridiculously out of sync from our astronomical seasons, and almost never in a good way. Yeah, we get two 70-degree days every January, but it’s a head fake that’s followed by 100 days of penguin weather. Spring will arrive officially in March, but the thermometer won't get the memo until just after Memorial Day. Spring in Chicago is a myth, like the Easter Bunny and internet privacy protection.
When they say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, they mean we’ll still be wearing wool coats until June. And if you’re still wearing your winter coat, it’s winter, no matter what Tom Skilling tells you. “Spring” weather in Chicago is cloudy, rainy, windy and very, very cold. When the days are longer than the nights, I want to be outside, except I’ll be at risk of frostbite in Chicago until May.
Finally, summer arrives, but the June solstice is a day of mourning for me. The sun has reached its highest average azimuth (NB2: S&S.), so the daylight will do nothing but ebb away until December. Meanwhile, summer in Chicago is likely to begin with temperatures still in the 60s. (On June 22 of this year, for example, summer began with a high of 64 degrees in Chicago. Woo-hoo!!!) When astronomical summer begins, half the day>night days are gone, I’ve dined outdoors two times, and I’ve taken about half a bike ride.
The beginning of summer brings a sense of urgency to make patio dinner reservations and carpe all the diems. I start juggling my calendar to free up nights for dinners and days for bike rides, making and canceling plans as rain or wind intervenes in my neatly ordered world. By the start of August, half the summer is gone, the equinox is in sight, and the pressure builds. How much outdoor time can I cram into the next six weeks?
True fact: I sent Jill and the girls an email in August, warning them to expect crankiness and stress as I go through my summer-is-almost-over-the-sun-is-dying panic.
When the autumnal equinox arrives in September, it’s a minor day of mourning and a major relief. The nights will be longer than the days for the next three months, but the weather will continue to be summery for several weeks. I still have time for some bike rides and, even better, I can dine outside at sunset in October AND enjoy the early-bird special at the same meal. Twofer.
Finally, the days get shorter and the sky gets cloudier and the weather gets even rottener and I enter an acceptance phase. Just wait it out a bit longer, a few more weeks, and then a few more, and, at last, it’s Alban Arthan all over again.
The seasons turn. The sun begins its journey home. Let's party like it's 99.
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All schaden, no freude
Right on the heels of Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control reported another decline in U.S. life expectancy, driven largely by a soaring suicide rate and opiate overdoses. It's a national trend, but also very local, possibly involving our friends and family.
Year-end melancholy is no surprise, really. It’s normal for people to get depressed as three gigantic downers converge to cancel out the joy that’s supposed to come with family gatherings, shopping sprees and wassail.
It starts with Thanksgiving, which promises to deliver the all-American trifecta: food, family, and football. But Uncle Billy was passed out on the couch before halftime, Dad and Aunt Bev kept arguing about who gets the silverware when Granny dies, and Aunt Sadie wouldn’t stop griping about her daughter’s choices in men. Then there’s Gramps, who started every other sentence with, “I’m not a racist, but…”
Even better, all of them are coming over again for Christmas dinner. Yipeeeeeeeeee! Uncle Billy swears he won’t be bungee jumping into the egg nog, Aunt Bev and Dad have promised to wait until Granny dies before they duel with her shrimp forks, and Aunt Sadie says, fine, she never wanted to have grandchildren, anyway. No promises from Gramps, though.
Fun fact: By the time Christmas rolled around, even Norman Rockwell had given up on painting family dinners. Clearly, he couldn’t figure out how to draw “Freedom from Relatives.”
Then there is the solstice, which brings the shortest stretch of daylight on the calendar. Of course, almost nobody will notice, because the sun is only out during working hours and the cloud cover is non-stop in December. (If Jesus had been born in Chicago, the Magi would still be looking for him.) Lack of sunlight leads to Seasonal Affective Disorder, which affects about 10% of the population, and then they pass it on to 100% of their friends. Who says this isn’t the season for sharing?
Finally, the end of the year delivers the coup de grace, as people consider unkept resolutions, unmet goals, and unpaid credit card bills that will be delivered by forklift in January. There’s no better way to say Happy New Year than with a bright, shiny, new debt-consolidation loan.
Meanwhile, we’re inundated all month with happyjoyfunjoyhappy posts from all our friends on social media, and every one of them is simply having a wonderful Christmastime. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we’re alone in our sadness, that we are the singular despair in a world of glee.
People feel isolated when they travel through a dark place, because they can’t see the friends who are alongside them on a parallel journey. Each of us has the opportunity to shine a light, to illuminate the journey, to help them break free of their isolation. It might be as simple as a “how are you” that’s more than a platitude. It might be an assurance that there’s no stigma to seeking help. It might be a coffee break that includes a ton of listening. It can simply be a reminder that they have a friend, that they aren’t really alone.
At this time of year, that perspective can be a lifesaver.
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Not As Young As I Was Before
Spoiler Alert: If you’re under the age of 16 or you somehow made it through high school without reading Young Goodman Brown, you’re about to learn the surprise ending of the story. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
So, you know the scene in Young Goodman Brown, when the young, good man discovers all the elders and leaders and saints of the town are really devil worshipers? Yeah, Facebook is kinda like that.
I have hundreds of "friends" on Facebook and, I am so proud to say, I actually have met at least 28 ¾ of them. (Long story.) They look human, many hold down full-time jobs, pretty much none of them has a criminal record, and I have actually seen a few of them have a civil conversation with someone who is, um, not their kind.
But, late at night, under the cover of darkness and a taped-over webcam, they commune with evil and, like that young, good man of lore, I am caught by surprise, stripped of the innocence that I never thought to be a burden until now.
OMFG, did you just post a photo of our president looking like a simian? (We’re into our third term with this meme and the POTUS has changed, but this joke never gets old enough to die.) WTF, how are you still posting that story about the Jews who created AIDS to distract everyone from their plan to destroy the World Trade Center and get trick-or-treaters hooked on LSD tattoos? OMG, did you just demand the death penalty for (FITB)?
It gets worse, though. As bad as it is to see the oozing, rotting, grotesque, putrefying moldering masses of my friends’ souls online, I actually have to spend time with them IRL. There we are, at a dinner where they have been given knives, and I search frantically for the list of trigger words I must avoid. I know I can never say Obama or Trump, not if I hope to survive, but can I say black or Christmas or cis or fat or homeless?
On my daredevil days, or when life seems to have no meaning and I just don’t care, I am tempted to ask one of those questions that is sure to bring out the horrendously evil soul that lurks below the surface by day.
Nancy Pelosi’s still pretty hot, don’t you think?
Did Hillary erase her server before or after she killed Vince Foster?
I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but isn't it just a bit suspicious that you never see Charles Koch and George Soros in the same photo?
Is Donald Trump already our greatest president ever, or is Reagan still number one?
I think the meeting facilitators call these “ice breakers.”
Discovering the black hole of decency in so many of my friends has an upside for me. Once, when I was much more naïve, I thought I was as racist and sexist and homophobic and xenophobic and cis-centric and privileged as the next guy. But it turns out the next guy is just a little bit satanic and I am not even on the list of dishonorable mentions. I am feeling much better about myself these days, mostly because I am thinking much less of my Facebook friends.
(If you happen to be one of my Facebook friends and you are reading this, I am not referring to you, of course. It's those other people; you know which ones they are.)
Meanwhile, I have to go back and reread Young Goodman Brown to see how he coped with his new insights into his Good Book friends. As I recall, he returned home disillusioned, feeling betrayed, and he aged very fast.
I know how he feels.
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.