This is going to be tough.
Now comes the point at which Buzz annually recounts some of the more significant events and people of the past 12 months in Dallas and makes fun of them. In the past, this has been fairly easy, as the months generally have provided a steady stream of ridiculousness. This year, as you can see by the accompanying chart, a sharp drop in the incidence of absurdity occurred sometime around mid-September.

You may have heard about it. It was in all the papers.

Suddenly, pundits tell us, we've become less frivolous and not as materialistic; we're now the sorts who are wholly unconcerned with the state of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt's marriage and more interested in world affairs. Our new heroes no longer come from Hollywood, but are firefighters or have names like Rumsfeld and Powell. We are a more serious people--like Canadians, or maybe Belgians.

After years of listening to our parents and grandparents drone on about how they confronted evil and won the Big One--as seen on A&E and available on home video for $69.95--it seems the time has come for us modern slackasses to step up and become the new Greatest Generation. Buzz should be off collecting scrap metal or rolling bandages or something. How can one look back on this year of recession, terror, loss and war and come up with 12 months' worth of simpleminded wisecracks about local news?

Well, it helps if you're an insensitive jerk. And, of course, there is the fact that Buzz gets paid for it, but we like to think that there's another, better reason. (Cue patriotic music.) Buzz can do it, by gum, because we're American. An absurd fascination with trivia is our birthright. Americans hold up the torch of freedom with one strong hand, but with the other we still flip through the latest edition of People. Donald Rumsfeld may be the new face of celebrity, but he's not the one bouncing on a trampoline with a come-hither look on his face in our favorite bedtime fantasy. Jennifer Aniston has made the occasional appearance there, however.

Great, tragic events are a bit like tent revivals that way. They can move the spirit profoundly, but not often for long. So we've all been waiting for the return to "normalcy." After looking back over the months, Buzz can assure you that we've always been there, as in "situation normal, all fucked-up."

The world may have changed, but Buzz hasn't. Sure, we'd love to take part in the new seriousness and patriotism, but wrapping ourselves in the flag just isn't an option. Horizontal stripes make us look fat. Besides, we figure that the odds of dying in a terrorist attack or coming down with the 'thrax are pretty long. Barring a sudden tobacco-related heart attack or car accident, we could easily live a long, long--depressingly long--time, which means we, and likely you, have some hours to kill in the meantime. You serious people can toddle off and do whatever it is you serious people do. Those of you who, like Buzz, are still blessed with short attention spans and not-too-particular senses of humor can while away a few minutes reading this. Don't worry, you latter bunch. If you think there's a dire shortage of goofiness in politics and news these days, just repeat the following: Laura Miller, Dallas mayor; Ron Kirk, U.S. senator; George W. Bush, statesman.

Still not sold? Want something better to do? Then Buzz suggests that instead you lie back, close your eyes and picture a verdant field on a warm spring day. There's a trampoline there. Someone is bouncing on it and beckoning you. Maybe it's Jennifer Aniston. Maybe it's Brad Pitt. Or just maybe it's Donald Rumsfeld.

You sick bastard.

January & February
A fine mess: In two incidents roughly a week apart, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is fined a total of $350,000--$250,000 for criticizing officiating, $100,000 for sitting at the baseline during a game against Minnesota, an infraction NBA officials deem "decorum not becoming an NBA owner." The amount brings the hotheaded Cuban's total fines for the season as of January to nearly $400,000. For its part, the NBA announces the hiring of new "chief of decorum" Judith "Miss Manners" Martin, who says that to dress up the league, players will now wear spats and kid gloves and that former NBA star and Dallasite Dennis Rodman will no longer appear in white wedding gowns. Instead, he'll confine himself to pale blue numbers "more befitting his personal history, poor dear."

Sky high: Fort Worth-based AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, announces a $3.5 billion bid to acquire financially troubled Trans World Airlines, creating one of the nation's largest "mega" carriers and adding nearly 200 planes to American's fleet. To service the customers for the new, larger airline, American announces that it will hire "three, maybe four" additional reservation agents, bringing the total number of people available to take customer phone calls to "a solid dozen, most days."

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams