With 2009 drawing to a close, it is time once again to pause, reflect and attempt the impossible talk of divining a single thought that will smartly encompass the various events, quotes and ideas from the previous 12 months. And with that in mind, I'd like to share the customary suggestion I offer every year at this time: Well, thank God that's over.

With 2009 drawing to a close, it is time once again to pause, reflect and attempt the impossible talk of divining a single thought that will smartly encompass the various events, quotes and ideas from the previous 12 months. And with that in mind, I'd like to share the customary suggestion I offer every year at this time: Well, thank God that's over.

2009, like 2008 and 2007 before it, was pretty much the worst year ever, full of general unpleasantness such as continued and apparently endless economic turmoil for everyone who didn't get free bank money, over-fertile reality show pinheads, a group of adults fully comfortable with referring to themselves as "teabaggers," socialism, another Transformers movie, tons more global warming, a book by quittin' governor/death panel inventor Sarah Palin, the knowledge that White House security can be breached by blank-eyed blondes with bonus letters in their names, the bizarre and yet not at all bizarre end to the bizarre story of Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods' sexually explicit misspellings and a quote uttered by a befuddled manipulated 6-year-old boy that pretty much sums up everything better than I could anyway: "Um, you guys said that we, um, did this for the show." (Although "Keep your government hands off my Medicare," shouted by an unidentified scholar from Simpsonville, S.C., is a pretty close second.)


So, as an attempt to wrap up the year's colorful horrors before moving on to what will almost certainly be an even more terrible 2010, please enjoy these clever awards, designed to make you remember everything you sort of wish you had forgot:


Best Proof That The Cable News Channels Are Exactly Like You Think They Are: The floating non-saga of Falcon "Balloon Boy" Henne, who was actually never on a balloon at all, meaning we should probably come up with a new nickname for him, something like Falcon "Heartbreakingly Sad Prop For Desperately Needy Parents Boy" Henne. Yet for hours, the whole of the TV newsgathering world was, very literally, ground to a screeching halt by a large shiny object. If the health care debate could somehow involve maybe a treasure hunt, we could get somewhere.


Best Feud Between A Bland Country Pop Singer And A Rapper No One Liked Before Anyway: Taylor Swift should send 808s and fruitcake to Kanye West, who singlehandedly propelled her into the greater mainstream zeitgeist by depriving her of an extremely important acceptance speech.


Worst State In the Union, 2009 Edition: It would be tough to top South Carolina, whose governor vanished for five days in the summer to go smooch a lady, and gave us Rep. Joe Wilson, who shouted at the president during an important speech and made everyone laugh at him.


Proof That Music Reality Show Voters Don't Know Very Much: The year's biggest reality-singer stars, Adam Lambert and Susan Boyle, didn't even win their respective shows. Lambert of course lost to, uh, some boring dude with hair, and no one actually knows what show Boyle appeared on.


Biggest Disconnect Between Movies and Reality: The actual real-life saga of pirates off the coast of Somalia had very little swashbuckling, clever turns of phrase or Keira Knightley. It was actually just sort of awful and dangerous for everybody. Runner-up for biggest disconnect between movies and reality: "All About Steve."


Best Proof That Reality People Age Terribly: Nadya Suleman Octo-Jolie, who seems like she was around about 15 years ago already.


Pretty Much The Only Thing That Happened That Didn't Turn Awful At Some Point: We're going with the Hudson River landing by U.S. Airways pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, which, as of press time, did not result in a reality program, quote-fingers exclusive interview, trip to Argentina, his driving into a tree, commercial with Levi Johnston in it or anything terrible. And it is with this brief shining hope that we turn to 2010, ducking and covering our eyes.


Jeff Vrabel would like you to keep your government hands off my infrastructure, education system and sewers. He can be reached at jeffvrabel.com and followed at twitter.com/jeffvrabel.