I will always have some fond memories of 2012: Chik-Fil-A, Pussy Riot, Santorum... And this was a year in which so many thoughtful politicians felt the need to share their beliefs and moral convictions with us, the American public. Rep. Todd Akin explained the mysterious workings of the female reproductive system. Our very own State Rep. Bob Morris warned us about those radical feminist lesbian Commies, the Girl Scouts. And Richard Mourdock enlightened us all on how God feels about rape pregnancies (which, according to Akin, can't happen in cases of "legitimate rape" anyway). These brilliant men have set the bar so high it's hard to imagine any politician surpassing their level of wisdom in the coming years.
In the summer Olympics (the one that actually counts), the USA won more medals than any other country. Employment numbers are slowly rising. Marijuana and marriage equality laws are changing. And once again, legendary American hero Joey Chestnut is the world champion hot dog-eater. So, yeah, while other nations have 99 problems, America is BACK, baby!
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, 69, announces that she will marry for the third time, adding, "No, I'm not pregnant." Mitt Romney wins the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Citing an increased threat posed by nuclear weapons and climate change, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists advance the hands of the "Doomsday Clock" ahead one minute: five minutes to midnight. The cruise ship Costa Concordia crashes into a reef off a small Italian island, leaving dozens dead or missing – cowardly captain Francesco Schettino becomes the most hated man in the world. Aretha says the wedding is off! Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords resigns. Indiana's Dan "Worst Congressman Ever" Burton announces he will not seek a 16th term – finally! Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking turns 70,boxing's greatest legend Muhammad Ali also hits 70, and unstoppable, unflappable actress Betty White turns 90.
Indianapolis: Best. Super Bowl host city. Ever. Screechy Hoosier rocker Axl Rose turns 50. Rick Santorum comes from behind and pulls out a win in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado. A Canadian study states that marijuana users are twice as likely to cause a vehicular crash – be careful, stoners! Washington becomes the 7th state to legalize gay marriage. "The Simpsons" airs its historic 500th episode. Vigilant legislator Rep. Bob Morris (R-Ft. Wayne) refuses to honor the Girl Scout's 100th anniversary, explaining that "a small amount of Web-based research" has led him to believe this "radicalized organization" supports abortion and homosexuality; soon-to-be-Ex-Rep. Morris added that 47 out of 50 Scout role models are "feminists, lesbians or Communists." February 29: in Utah, Louise Estes gives birth to her third consecutive Leap Day baby, tying a record set in the 1960s.
Maryland makes same-sex marriage legal. Proto-punk rocker Lou Reed turns 70. Tornados rip through five Midwestern and southern states, killing 39 people, including 14 deaths in Indiana. NBA giant Shaquille O'Neal (Shaq, Superman, The Diesel, Shaqmu) turns 40. Indy's MVP, Peyton Manning, and the Colts agree to part company. Three hundred nude bicyclists ride through Lima, Peru, to call for safer conditions for cyclists. Old-school comic genius Carl Reiner turns 90, Aretha turns 70, and speedy driver Danica Patrick hits 30. Hoosiers enjoy record 80 degree temps in the final week of the winter that Mother Nature forgot. Former V.P. Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney gets a much-needed new heart.
Rick Santorum gets out of the Republican presidential contest. George Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Douchebag singer Axl Rose declines his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Guns N' Roses. Huge surprise: weirdo mass murderer Charles Manson, 77, is denied his 12th bid for probation (luckily for him, he's up for parole again when he's 92). America's Oldest Teenager, Dick Clark, 82, joins all the now-gone musicians who appeared on American Bandstand up in rock 'n' roll heaven. At least eight Secret Service agents are fired for consorting with prostitutes in Colombia prior to Pres. Obama's upcoming visit. Country music legend Loretta Lynn and legendary deejay Casey Kasem turn 80, classy singer Barbara Streisand turns 70, and high-larious actor Seth Rogen hits 30.
Newt drops out of the race. Indiana's most respected statesman, Senator Richard Lugar, loses to Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock in the Republican primary. Vice President Joe Biden says he is "comfortable" with gay marriage; President Obama comes out in favor of gay marriage shortly afterwards. Mitt Romney apologizes for his seemingly anti-gay "hijinks and pranks" in high school, which he doesn't remember anyway. Speedy skater Apolo Ohno turns 30, brilliant comedian and filmmaker Bob "Bobcat" Goldthwait turns 50 (see "Sleeping Dogs Lie") and iconic actor Mr. T hits 60.Mitt earns enough delegates to cinch the Republican presidential nomination. Dario Franchitti wins his third Indy 500.
Ailing former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak, 84, is sentenced to life in prison for his role in the deaths of protesters in 2011. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wins his state's recall election. TIME recognizes Indiana's own David Simon of Simon Property Group as the highest paid CEO of a public company – his estimated hourly pay is $44,000. Sir Paul McCartney and Beach Boy Brian Wilson turn 70. Corrupt local financier Tim Durham is convicted of multiple counts of wire and securities fraud. Despicable pedophile Jerry Sandusky is found guilty. Larry Bird resigns as president of the Pacers. The Affordable Health Care Act (derisively known as "Obamacare") is upheld by the SCOTUS.
America's greatest living national hero, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut, scarfs down 68 hot dogs in 10 minutes for his sixth consecutive victory at the July 4th Hot Dog Eating World Championship at Coney Island. Surprising absolutely no one, CNN's Anderson Cooper reveals that he is gay. Curvy, vivacious actress Sofia Vergara turns 40; actor and cultural icon David Hasselhoff turns 60. Record high temperatures and drought relentlessly punish Indiana and much of the U.S. The International Red Cross declares that Syria is in a state of civil war. Holy Pee-wee! Beloved comedic actor Fred Willard, 72, is arrested in a Hollywood adult movie theater on suspicion of committing a lewd act. Twelve are killed and dozens wounded when a heavily armed 24-year-old man opens fire at a crowded theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight showing of the latest Batman movie; the shooter is taken into custody. North Korea's Kim Jon Un, aka: "L'il Kim" gets hitched! Ground-breaking TV producer Norman Lear turns 90.
JULY Bonus: culture wars! Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy outs himself as a firm opponent of gay marriage – boycotts plus internet and TV hilarity ensue. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gives $2.5 million to help pass a same-sex marriage referendum in the state of Washington, saying, "This is right for so many reasons."
Folksy humorist Garrison Keillor turns 70, comedic actor Steve Carell hits 50 and old-school rapper Kool Moe Dee turns 40. Mitt Romney picks Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate. USA!! USA!! – America wins more medals in the Summer Olympics (104) than any other country and swimmer Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympian ever with 19 medals in his career. Tough gig: three young women of Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot are sentenced to two years in prison for performing an anti-government "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral. Throwing his hat in the ring for "Biggest Political Idiot of the Year," Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) explains in an interview that in cases of "legitimate rape" the female body can "shut that whole thing down" to prevent pregnancy – brilliant! Paul Reubens (also known as Pee-wee Herman) turns a dapper and silly 60. Hurricane Isaac shortens the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where Clint Eastwood delivers a bizarre, Abe Simpson-like rambling speech.
The Dems put on a good show at their convention in Charlotte, NC, including a classic Bill Clinton speech. The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans are killed when attackers, purportedly angered over an anti-Muslim film produced in the USA, storm the American consulate; violent demonstrations spread to more than a dozen Middle East and N. African countries. Quirky singer/songwriter Fiona Apple is busted in Sierra Blanca, Texas, after a Border Patrol dog sniffed out a small amount of marijuana and hashish on her tour bus. Following Mitt Romney's leaked "47 percent" remarks, polls show Obama with a slight edge in key swing states.
Mitt puts up a strong debate performance in the first of three presidential debates; Obama's performance is described by pundits as under-rehearsed, rusty and restrained. The war in Afghanistan enters its twelfth year, with 2,000 U.S. military dead. Ultra-extreme athlete "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner successfully skydives from 24 miles high in the stratosphere, reaching a peak speed of 834 mph (Mach 1.24), faster than the speed of sound. A reinvigorated Barack Obama evens the score at the second presidential debate/town hall; the third and final debate is a draw.Indiana's Fever wins the WNBA championship! Indiana Republican senatorial candidate Richard Mourdock explains in a debate that he does not support abortion in the case of rape, saying, "Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something God intended to happen." Superstorm Sandy devastates the NE coast, hitting NYC and New Jersey particularly hard; the storm claims more than 100 lives in 10 states. Local monster keyboardist Kevin Anker turns 40, as does rap icon Eminem. The Chili's red hot bassist Flea turns 50, Indy philanthropist Christel DeHaan turns 70, and comedian/social activist Dick Gregory turns 80.
The RHCP's singer/songwriter Anthony Kiedis turns 50.Barack Obama is re-elected as POTUS; in Indiana, Joe Donnelly (D) wins reelection to his Senate seat and Mike Pence (R) is elected as our state's governor. OMG! The Bieb and Selena Gomez break up! A massive explosion in a south-eastside Indy neighborhood obliterates several houses, damages dozens more and kills two people – the investigation soon turns into a possible criminal case. Gen. David Petraeus resigns as Director of the CIA after it is revealed he carried on an extra-marital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Missiles are fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel; the Israelis in turn unleash their own military might and assemble troops on the border. America's funniest fake newscaster, Jon Stewart, turns 50; V.P. Joe Biden turns 70. A ceasefire is declared between Israeli and Hamas forces. The U.N. upgrades the status of Palestine to a "nonmember observer state." Local mega-swindler Tim Durham is sentenced to 50 years in the slammer for the $200 million investor rip-off perpetrated by his ironically named company, Fair Finance.
Rock 'n' roll legend Little Richard hits 80 – Woooo! My big ol' dog Louis (part Lab, Husky, Chow, Rottweiler and pig) turns 15. Washington becomes the first state to legalize recreational use of marijuana. The U.S. unemployment level drops to 7.7 percent, a 4-year low. The last major news event of the year (before my deadline) is also the saddest. Still so sad and painful in our collective national memory that I don't believe I need to tell you about it. Children are what make Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza special – I hope all our readers end the year with a few extra hugs for their kids, family and friends.