Their names and faces dominate the news: Mel Gibson, Heidi Montag, Jesse James, Lindsay Lohan. And then, just like that, they're gone, only to be replaced by Wesley Snipes, LeAnn Rimes, or Jake Pavelka.
But all those names and incriminating circumstances can run together.
So before 2010 rides off into the sunset, let's return, shall we, to a few of the notable people, things, and even events of the year — and not all of them bad. And just to make this exercise in pop culture memory a little more challenging — calling it an exercise in fun may be a stretch — match the photo of person/place/thing with the description of his/her/year below. (Answers at the bottom of the page.)
1. Mel Gibson
2. Lindsay Lohan
3. Dr. Laura Schlessinger
4. Tony Parker
5. Charlie Sheen
6. Wesley Snipes
7. Jesse James
8. Brett Favre
9. Randy Quaid
10. Simon Cowell
11. Conan O'Brien
14. The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
15. Jake Pavelka
16. LeAnn Rimes
17. Heidi Montag
18. Bret Michaels
19. Bristol Palin
20. Justin Bieber
21. Tiger Woods
MATCH 'EM UP:
A. I preach self-responsibility on the air. Then I said something that shouldn't be said on my radio show or anywhere else 11 times. The subsequent outcry caused me to announce I was quitting my show at the end of the year. Starting Monday, you can hear me on Sirius XM satellite radio.
B. I fought the law and the law won.
C. Things I learned this year: Incriminating phone texts can and should be deleted.
D. I was one of the top names in Hollywood. After my latest racist rant was revealed to the world by my ex-wife, I'm now toxic, which is why my second comeback film was delayed until spring.
E. Less than a year ago my wife was thanking me for having her back. Then I cheated on her behind her back and she divorced me.
F. I scuffled with my then-wife. I went to rehab. We got divorced. I trashed a room at a posh New York hotel and threatened a porn star. But I still have the No. 1 sitcom.
G. Things I learned this year: Incriminating phone texts can and should be deleted. Also, sometimes it's best to stay retired.
H. I treat rehab stints like a revolving door. Too bad my film work isn't as interesting as my personal life.
I. I actually made more news than my politically minded mother for a few weeks this fall on a popular network TV dance contest. The show's judges weren't big fans of mine, but the audience was, keeping me around for a second-place finish ... just like my mom.
J. I was a brilliant, maddening, funny, sad, and strange trip the likes of which TV audiences had never seen. Fans couldn't wait for me to end. Now that my network run is over, though, I will be sorely missed, as will a few remaining unanswered questions.
K. I got the shaft from network execs, as most everyone knows. Fortunately, Chevy Chase and Dennis Miller still hold the record for shortest run as talk-show host. Now, look for me weeknights on basic cable.
L. I was once considered a great character actor; I've been nominated for an Oscar and Emmys. Now my wife and I are running from the authorities, skipping bail, and trying to avoid the “Hollywood star whackers.” And you thought Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie's Island Adventure was my low point.
M. I was a bright spot in an otherwise politically divisive year. My rally on Oct. 30 at the National Mall was a sensible call to order on both sides of the political aisle, an event meant to entertain, poke fun at blowhard pundits, and remind people to — GASP! — think for themselves.
N. I served as a role model for girls everywhere who feel uncomfortable about their bodies by having 10 plastic surgeries in one day.
O. I make young girls squeal and cause teenage riots. Even worse, my shaggy 'do is cool. And I'm only 16. It's called “Bieber Fever” and not even more cowbell can cure it.
P. I made a reality TV show a must-see event and helped make stars out of unknown singers. But I sensed a good thing was coming to an end, so I split, with plans to return in 2011 with my own talent show.
Q. Things I learned last year and still regret: Incriminating phone texts can and should be deleted.
R. I was scoffed at by critics who said I was hardly a game changer, and mocked because of my name. One cable news anchor joked my name reminded her of a feminine product. I got the last laugh. Nine months after my debut, I'm arguably the most successful new-technology launch of all time.
S. I had a bitter break-up with a Bachelor contestant that made for some juicy gossip and a much-talked-about reunion special. Then I danced with other stars. Look for me early next year on a real soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, as opposed to my life in reality shows.
T. I'm lucky to be alive, my doctors tell me, after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage. I've since gone on this year to win season 3 of The Celebrity Apprentice and score a new VH1 reality show, Bret Michaels: Life as I Know It.
U. I used to be the young country singer with a voice to make Patsy Cline smile. Now I'm all grown up, divorced, and forever known as “the other” woman who helped wreck a marriage. Talk about being “Blue.”
A. Dr. Laura Schlessinger
B. Wesley Snipes
C. Tony Parker
D. Mel Gibson
E. Jesse James
F. Charlie Sheen
G. Brett Favre
H. Lindsay Lohan
I. Bristol Palin
K. Conan O'Brien
L. Randy Quaid
M. The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
N. Heidi Montag
O. Justin Bieber
P. Simon Cowell
Q. Tiger Woods
S. Jake Pavelka
T. Bret Michaels
U. LeAnn Rimes
Contact Kirk Baird at