For Sam Smith, 1984 was a lousy year, and almost anything that may happen in 1985 will be better. Smith runs the Progressive Review, a 10-times-yearly tabloid in Washington that used to be called the D.C. Gazette.

In his current edition, Smith deplored "the current tendency of journalists to write interminably of their troubles and illnesses," then wrote interminably of his own troubles and illnesses.

Metro Scene has an enforced brevity, so we'll condense: Smith pinched a back nerve last April while weight lifting. He was able to publish the next two issues of his paper with a computer terminal that let him punch even when lying on his side.

He went to a family event in Wisconsin and had some further physical problems. Then he returned to Washington and found that someone had broken into his office and stole his computer and other office equipment, a major feat since the burglary required someone tiny enough to squeeze into a very small window space. It was, a detective told Smith, "someone they called Spiderman who could climb in anywhere. . . . "

Well, anyhow, Smith closed up shop and went to Maine for the summer, had some physical problems there, then returned to Washington to publish two editions of his paper. One day he went to work and found that a 6-by-8-foot section of the office roof had collapsed.

"Oh, well, I told myself . . . my luck has got to change," Smith said.

So what's next? The tire on his car was flat. He tried to change it. His back went out again.

"So here I am, lying on my bed preparing yet another issue of the Review with a [computer keyboard] propped against my knees. . . . There is no moral here, I hope, and if there is a message, damned if I can find it. But I wanted you to know that if things are more erratic than usual around here there are some extenuating circumstances. . . . "