Tis the season when the journalistic profession takes some time off from serious reporting to look back on the Year That Was, pick a category of interest, and assemble a tidy list to sum up the best/worst the year had to offer. I admit to being one of those guys who eats these lists up. It gives me something to argue about (“I don’t care how good you thought Winter’s Bone was…Toy Story 3 was waaaay better”), reminisce about (“Whatever happened to that Ground Zero mosque?”) and, in the case of music, something to pirate download that I may have missed.

But being the coal-hearted cynic I am, I look back at 2010 and think of it as the year of “could’ve been.” There seemed to be tons of things to look forward to this year, but they all came and went with a “meh” that has slowly gestated into a hardened wad of disappointment. And like the Tiffany song of the same name, the year of “could’ve been” still haunts me, even if in the end it was all sentiment and bombast that signifyied nothing.

“What a wonderful holiday sentiment, CroutonBoy! Thanks for bringing us down!” say the loyal supporters of DadCentric. “But wait,” says CroutonBoy, “let me explain. What’s GREAT about this time of year is the prospect of renewal. From the debris of past mistakes rise the seeds of future greatness! Each of these offers a cautionary tale which we should pass to our children, and hope for better things is already there!”
Still with me? Well if so, than read on, true-believer, and let’s recount that which bummed us out the most in 2010:

Disappointment #1 – Lost

Totally-Lost-Finale_320 You may not have been one of the millions like me who stuck with this show through six seasons and countless mysteries, red herrings, and head-spinning plot twists, but for those of us who did this show served as a necessary corrective to the ongoing dreck of Dancing With the Stars and Two and a Half Men. As the shows mythology became more and more convoluted, twisting in upon itself like an origami swan, none of us who tuned in week in and week out really thought everything would be resolved. But neither did any of us think it would unspool in such painfully unsatisfying way. So they were all in purgatory? Victims of two inexplicably powerful brothers with mommy issues? And everyone was fighting over a fountain with a literal cork in it? And Sayid ended up with Shannon? SHANNON??? LAME!!!

To wash the taste out of your mouth, may I suggest….the Old Spice campaign. Talk about something that entertained week in and week out! Granted, it didn’t require the commitment to narrative that Lost did, but for sheer creative ingenuity that actually listened and responded to its fans, this was the best thing on TV this side of Sophia Vergara’s bosum. And the ending, unlike Lost, was brilliant. Silverfish hand catch!

Disappointment #2 – Every New Apple Product

Ipad-420×0 If the iPod and iTunes were Apples Star Wars, and the iPhone was Apples Empire Strikes Back, then this year was Apples Return of the Jedi. Are we so slavoringly enamored to the sweat beneath Steve Jobs’ nipples that we can’t see mediocrity, however beautifully packaged? It’s a new iPhone that’s boxier and less-reliable! Apple TV, now with less storage and resolution for a fraction of the cost! And the iPad, gleefully bringing the frustrations of virtual typing and auto-correct to a lap near you! Not that these products sucked, per se (I bought all of them) but Apple has set a pretty high bar, if I’m going to shell out that kind of coin on a gadget it better damn-well change my life. And unless the 600 hours I spent getting three stars on every level of Angry Birds counts none of these products even came close.

To auto-correct for this may I suggest….a Snuggie, a Shake Weight, and a box of Huggies Little Movers Jeans Diapers. You can get all three for about $70, and the combined entertainment value is worth several multiples of that. Proof positive that American ingenuity is alive and well, if also probably designing for Wal-mart. And dammit if we don’t use that Snuggie every night…

Disappointment #3 – Iron Man 2

Iron_man_2_007 My opinion of Hollywood is already pretty low. I can usually smell the garbage they’re peddling months in advance. Every sequel smacks of artistically bankrupt writing committees and cynical attempts to squander fan good-will for cash. Occasionally a truly clever movie can penetrate can rise above the stench like an Inception or Toy Story 3 or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but for each of those there’s an awful Clash of the Titans, Jonah Hex, or Alice in Wonderland 3D. What makes Iron Man 2 so disappointing was that its precursor actually had the balls to buck that trend. It was witty, exciting, perfectly cast, and downright enjoyable to the end. So when the entire crew re-upped for the sequel and they announced Mickey-freakin-Rourke was the villain fanboys like me suspended our misanthropy and lined up in anticipation of what should have been a cracker-jack thrill ride. Our reward? Zzzzzzzz. Everyone on screen looked as bored as everyone in the audience, and I never cared a bit what happened to anybody. And with that, yet another childhood icon is destroyed.

To blast this from your memory may I suggest….firing up your Xbox 360 or Playstation 3. For my money, the most immersive story-telling, the most creative ideas, best developed characters, and most thoughtful observations are accessible via a controller and a TV screen. Those of you who played through the stunning Red Dead Redemption, the best western since at least Unforgiven, or felt their heart race at the end of Mass Effect 2, know exactly what I’m talking about. These are fully immersive entertainment experiences bursting with creativity and heart, and they keep getting better. They may not be for the whole family, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking Katherine Heigl movies are either.

Disappointment #4 – Barack Obama

Obama_lightsaber To quote the Onion, “Barack Obama – Either Doing His Best In One of The Most Difficult Times In American History, Or Hitler.” I don’t think he’s Hitler, but I used to feel a lot more confident that he was “doing his best” than I do now. How many times this year did it seem more like the government was the kids arguing in the backseat rather than the adults holding the wheel? I don’t think he should get blamed for the oil spill, or raging unemployment, or rising healthcare costs, but at the same time I never felt like he was doing everything he could have done to make those better. Part of that involves actually doing things, and part of that involves convincing us that those things are the right things to do, and I got none of that this year. Dude, I know this is a hard job, and the dickwads in Congress and on TV aren’t making it any easier, but you were preceded by a one-dimensional imbecile and he at least seemed to believe in the shit he was peddling. You’ve got two more years, buddy…I’m rooting for you, but you’d better go back and watch some campaign videos to remind yourself of who you were supposed to be all this time.

To align with a different world power may I suggest….Facebook. To quote the Onion in the same issue as above: “Mark Zuckerberg – Gotta Hand It To The Little Fucker.” Have a hard time keeping up with friends? Facebook can help. Find email clunky? Facebook will replace it. Too busy doing “work” during the day? Try running a farm. We may resent the government for controlling our lives, but we seem to have no problem giving up our privacy and individual liberties to a six-year-old company. Why? Because it perpetuates the illusion of allows you to maintain control over your network. And because it’s the only way I remember birthdays. Why don’t you help me do that, Department of the Interior?

Disappointment #5 – Every sports role model

Lebron(4) I hope that someday, when I’m considering a couple of job offers, I can have an hour long show on a major network devoted to the my ego the decision, during which I’ll take all the good will I’ve earned among my friends, family and colleagues and treat it like a baby treats a diaper. Or maybe I’ll lose my concentration for an entire year because my wife busted me for having an affair, which of course never happens to the young, talented, and fabulously wealthy. Or maybe, if I’m feel like I’ve accomplished everything I need to in life, I’ll drag my ass off the couch to submit myself to a 17 week long beat-down by 300 lb men to tarnish my iron-man legacy, but not before send some pictures of my dong to a sideline reporter. Because THAT is how you score with the ladies. Yeah, you guys are all awesome. Thanks for the memories.

To even the score may I suggest…watching either of the two following videos. One, from the Super Bowl in February, got me all misty, like Costner at the end of Field of Dreams. The other, which will likely go down as one of the five most viscerally enjoyable sports moments I’ve ever experienced, recounts a certain stoppage time goal against Algeria in the World Cup this year, as seen through the eyes of fans across America. Pure gold, and a reminder of why we put up with the rest of the ass-clowns in the first place.

I hope this walk down memory lane serves as a reminder of a few happy things going into next year. First, that despite all the high-profile fails of 2010, there’s still lots of creamy goodness out there if you know where to look for it. Second, that we aren’t mindless automatons that will put up with just any old crap, and can send a message of our own, as Nancy Pelosi and the makers of the Sex and the City sequel have learned the hard way. And finally, as the new year dawns, that all this shall be forgotten, just like Kate Gosselin’s divorce and whatever the hell Kanye West and Taylor Swift were feuding about in 2009.

May the promise of 2011 inspire us all, at least until the next Real Housewives of Montana incarnation airs.