[Web producer's note: Chris Patyk was, until somewhat recently, the co-host of the morning show on 92.9 FM back when it was called the Mountain and not a station rocking a Lady Gaga song every 20 minutes. He's quite the pop culture savant, so I asked him if he'd like to reflect back on the past twelve months.]
2011 was a year for the present participle.
A year of (in no particular order of importance) 'occupying,' 'planking,' and 'Tebowing.' And no list of 2011's present participles wouldn't be complete without, 'Winning!' On the other hand, let's throw that out with my novelty vial of tiger's blood I bought from eBay user 'SheenMachine.'
Let us reflect on a few choice 'participles':
'Sexting': When New York Representative Anthony Weiner tweeted a lewd picture of himself to a college student it was one of the great political scandals of the summer. Sadly, he didn't help the public's view of Congress. First he denied it was his wiener, then he admitted it was and stepped down from public office. On the bright side, he launched many of the greatest penis jokes since the Bobbitt incident of 1993. And for proof true love knows no bounds of human decency, we had proof of Weiner's worth as he and his wife welcomed a baby boy last week. Mazeltov!
'Dying': Osama Bin Laden. Steve Jobs. Kim Jong-il. Amy Winehouse. The guy from 'Touched By An Angel.' They all died. Many of these deaths were reported over Twitter ("Tweeting!") and some were bigger than others. Let's face it, we're going to be talking about where you were when you heard Bin Laden died for decades.
(Sidebar as to where I was: I had a wicked case of food poisoning. I was passed out for hours and woke up to the news in the middle of the night. I had to check my chin and do the 'ol 'grey beard safety tug' to make sure I didn't wake up in some twisted Rip Van Winkle-esque future.) While doing some crack research on this piece, it was announced the most Googled death of 2011 wasn't any of these folks mentioned. Nope. It was the guy from 'Jackass,' Ryan Dunn. Yes, you can say it, "So a guy from Jackass beat out two world-class Jackasses." We really have some explaining to do for our stupidity as a culture. (Please note: 'the world-class Jackasses' referenced are Bin Laden and Jong-il. Not Winehouse or the 'Touched by an Angel' guy. Steve Jobs, as you all know, is a saint.)
'Googling': Yes, the most Googled death was Dunn, a man famous for having his hairy body super glued to a piece of wood and riding his bike into cacti - and not all at once, mind you. But as we learned from 'Highlander,' there can be only one and the most Googled query was a teenager from Anaheim, California named Rebecca Black.
Black unleashed a video in March and became a worldwide trend on Twitter. The video was for the song "Friday." Initially, I had hoped it had something to do with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, but remember, this is Anaheim we're talking about. The song, like an STD, was catchy and annoying. Overnight, Black became a viral video superstar. Later this year, she released a follow-up, "Person Of Interest." It did not match the success of "Friday." If anything, "Person of Interest" described anyone with a creepy obsession with all things Rebecca Black. Yes, I know, I've opened the floodgates in the comment section.
'Annoying': If the game show '$20,000 Pyramid' were still in production, one could use, "Kim Kardashian" (or any of the others), as a clue and the response would be, "People Who Are Annoying." This was the year of "America's Royal Wedding." Yes, that's what some media outlets called it. Frankly, if this was our country's 'Royal Wedding,' deport me. The nuptials of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries cost $10 million, was a two-part E! network special and ended in 72 days. Many cried, "Publicity Stunting!" I cried, "Thank you Jesus! Thank you for showing the world this is a sham!" While that may seem to be an awfully short time to be married, just wait a minute. Sinead O'Connor announced this week she was ending her marriage after only 18 days, which is only slightly longer than the "seven hours and 15 days" she outlined in "Nothing Compares 2 U."
'Cheating': Hard to believe this was the year of Arnold Schwarzenegger admitting he fathered a son 14 years ago with the family's housekeeper, Mildred Baena. (Yes, she was everything a woman named Mildred would live up to: Not hot.) We also saw Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore separate after rumors of infidelity. And this happened after Kutcher joined the cast of "Two and a Half Men" replacing Charlie Sheen. (Is that set built over a hell mouth?) Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain put his campaign on hold after several women accused the pizza magnate of harassment and philandering. We really dodged a bullet there, didn't we? We could have had a man in the White House who quoted Donna Summer's song from "Pokemon: The Movie." Seriously, he did.
What present participles do I wish for us in 2012? How about a few that move us forward as a country and culture. Words like "working," "innovating," and “creating” are a few that come to mind. Frankly, words that don’t describe any of the Kardashian girls.