It feels like, and maybe this is just me, but 2011 was a year everyone was eager to put behind them. Natural disasters, global revolutions, untimely deaths. Unfortunately, add a dash of apocalyptic terror and election exhaustion to that mix, and 2012 didn’t end much better than 2011. “There is nothing new under the sun” saith Ecclesiastes, and in that regard, here is a list of 2012 stories that were too short to post or slipped past the Mbird radar this year.

10. In the world of judgment and measuring up, there’s epicpinterestfail.com, where humble, average, normal people attempt to create the professional, photo-shopped recipes they find on pinterest. The results are, well, less than appetizing. Pinterest users upload their photos of the original recipe and their failed results, showing in great detail the chasm between the promise and the fulfillment. Pinterest’s longing-machine is working here on all four cylinders!

pinterest fail

9. Dog Shaming has to be one of 2012’s greatest exercises in the Law’s inability to engender change.  A frustrated pet owner and Tumblr editorial director hit a nerve when he posted a photo of his Dachshund, adorably looking into the camera, with a handwritten sign saying “I am an underwear eating jerk.”  After the initial post in August, the blog quickly became a confessional for frustrated pet owners across the world struggling with disobedient animals. The great joke being, of course, that dogs don’t comprehend their sins, and all efforts to shame them are futile at best. It’s worth a good half-hour of your spare internet time laughing at how unintentionally theological the blog can be.

http://www.dogshaming.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/tumblr_m90e36alQ01re4ne0o1_1280.jpg

8. Adding to the Mayan apocalyptic fury, 550 life-sized David Hasselhoff signs were stolen from Cumberland Farms convenience stores last July. My my, just what is the world coming to?

7. Here’s some “gold” from the Olympics: Felipe Kitadai, Brazillian bronze medalist in Judo, was so proud of his accomplishment, he wore his medal everywhere.  And let’s be honest, if any among us won Olympic gold, we’d feel the same way.  Felipe simply wouldn’t take his medal off for any reason, proudly wearing his bronze for himself and his country.  When Felipe returned home he made an exception to his medal rule–he would take the medal off when he showered.  Felipe cautiously and carefully took of his medal, gently laying it on a shelf in the tub to keep it from getting wet.  And it promptly fell on the floor, dented, and the medal loop that made the medal into a lanyard broke.  How delightfully symbolic of our fragile identities- even the short fall from the bathtub shelf can break them apart!  Although, according to the IOC, it takes less than $20 to get a bronze medal/token of self worth replaced, though a gold or silver would have cost hundreds!

6. And who could forget this Nike ad from the Olympics?  I guess you could say that it’s more populist than gracious, but I love its serious last-shall-be-first/Nazereth principle overtones.  In the midst of jaw-dropping athleticism as national champions clashed, this ad was brilliant, even if it still has some hints of a theology of glory.

5. Talk about your good shepherds!  Back in September, a sudden massive blizzard hit Iceland (yeah, it never snows in Iceland, right?), and it was estimated that thousands of sheep died because farmers couldn’t bring their herds in fast enough. But as evidenced by the youtube below, the good shepherds of Iceland left their herds and went to find the lost sheep. Even weeks after the blizzard, sheep were stuck under snow drifts, and farmers were digging them out. The video below shows sheep trapped for 19 days before being rescued.  It struck me as a worthy reflection on our own Good Shepherd- that even 19 days after the storm, He would still seek and find his lost sheep trapped feet below the ice. [The best bits are around the 2:22 mark]

4. Remember the viral sensation “Facebook Parenting- for the Troubled Teen?” Well, after the recent events in Newtown CT., this Feb. 2012, the video might be a little more gut churning than the original humor might have intended.  After parents discover their teenager’s disrespectful, unthoughtful, anti-parent rant on Facebook, her father takes a video camera out back and films himself giving her laptop (and her online social life) the Old Yeller.  Before he does it, he reads a prepared, expletive filled statement on camera to his daughter, shaming her in publicly in the same way she shamed her parents publicly.  It’s not necessarily grace-in-parenting, but I can’t judge- it seems as if parents of teens everywhere shared a brief moment of solidarity with the father in his frustration and, were I in his shoes, I might too.  But I’ll also say I’m glad my folks weren’t into the eye for eye, tooth for tooth, shame for shame, online embarrassment for online embarrassment parenting style.

facebook parent

3. Back in November, this fast moving upper & downer of a story popped into the social media radar. The photo below of a NYPD officer buying a homeless man shoes gave the internet collective warm fuzzies. And yet, if you’ve done any work with an urban homeless community, you know that their struggles are a lot deeper than their lack of footwear. So when this gentlemen without a home soon returned to the streets bare-footed, well, that story didn’t get as much press. Reports NYT:

“‘Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,’ Mr. Hillman [boot recipient] said in an interview on Broadway in the 70s. ‘I could lose my life.’ Mr. Hillman, 54, was by turns aggrieved, grateful and taken aback by all the attention that had come his way — even as he struggled to figure out what to do about it. ‘I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?’ he said. ‘This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.'”

2. Back in July, a man wrote his own obit a week or so before he died, taking the event to confess his unspoken sins publicly. Val Patterson self-identified as the funny guy, so you’re not quite sure if any of these confessions are honest or jokes, but it is likely the last paragraph is correct, and as a result, heartbreaking. We are all beggars, this is true. [Update: Turns out we didn't miss this one after all! But it's worth revisiting regardless]:

Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say. As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest. Also, I really am NOT a PhD. What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail. I didn’t even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters “PhD” even stood for. For all of the Electronic Engineers I have worked with, I’m sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered, and I always made you laugh at work. Now to that really mean Park Ranger; after all, it was me that rolled those rocks into your geyser and ruined it. I did notice a few years later that you did get Old Faithful working again. To Disneyland – you can now throw away that “Banned for Life” file you have on me, I’m not a problem anymore – and SeaWorld San Diego, too, if you read this…

My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me. Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill our lives with such happy words and moments. My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me. I feel such the “thief” now – for stealing so much from her – there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.

1. Why didn’t we write about “Gangnam Style” until now?  Probably because every time we tried, we wound up dancing.  PSY might be the greatest C list celeb on the market these days, but “Gangnam Style” is a thought out, well composed piece of self-deprecating humor.  To quote the pop star himself, “People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are—it’s only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are “Gangnam Style”—so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they’re not.”  You can see it in the music video too- in the opening notes, PSY is reclining at what looks like a sandy beach.  Turns out- it’s just a playground.  The horseback riding dance is as much a parody of upward mobility in South Korea as it is both fun and ridiculous.  The catchy phrase “Oppa Gangnam Style” is roughly the Korean equivalent of saying “Pappa is a super-fly hipster from Williamsburg NY- can you dig it?”  Gangnam Style is a horse riding, dance craze, Kpop parody of identity, insecurity, and the need to be perceived as affluent and cool.   It was my privilege to have this song played at my wedding reception this year.

Stay classy, Mbird!  Happy 2013!