Sure, there are a lot of reasons to hate this time of year: the cold, the crowds, the consumerism, the humiliating hat head.
But look on the bright side and you'll find ... the Fourth Annual Nothing Personal Readers' Choice Awards!
It's our chance to pause and look back together on the celebrity high jinks of the year that was -- to point and laugh, to snicker and snark. It's also your chance to show the people of the world how wickedly hilarious and hilariously wicked you can be as you hand out the dubious honors to a host of hapless Hollywood types. (Check out last year's awards.)
Me? I'll be there to stand supportively behind you, smile and nod as you award the virtual statuettes and help the overwhelmed and teary "winners" off the stage.
So, before I push the metaphor entirely too far, let's take a second to go over how the whole thing works: I pose a series of questions in this column. You think about them long and hard, or not at all, and answer as many as you like by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, Dec. 18. (Please use the subject line "READERS CHOICE 2002.")
Then I'll pore over your responses, pluck the ones I find most interesting from the pile, print them in a column on Friday, Dec. 20, and -- voil` -- the Fourth Annual Nothing Personal Readers' Choice Awards.
So flick the holiday cookie crumbs off your keyboards, and let's get to it:
1) In 2002, Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton headed to Splitsville scant moments after loudly proclaiming their undying love for each other. One possible reason for their split: differing priorities after Jolie decided to adopt a child. Which continuously cooing celebrity couple do you suspect will unceremoniously part ways in the year ahead, and what will precipitate the split?
2) In 2002, Russell Crowe mixed it up with a New Zealand businessman, a British award-show producer and countless others -- before deciding to take a timeout, go home and recover his senses in the company of his family, friends and livestock. Which celebrity bad boy/girl do you think is most due for a Crowe-like trip to the timeout chair -- and what do you think will prompt the retreat?
3) In 2002, Whitney Houston finally 'fessed up to a heap of addictions, though she'd rather we not use that word to describe her penchant for pills, booze, sex and various other things. Which celebrity do you think is ripe to make a similar public confession of addiction and what will he/she confess an addiction to?
4) In 2002, Winona Ryder was convicted of swiping pricey duds from Saks Fifth Avenue. Which other celebrity do you most suspect of landing on the wrong side of the law in the coming year -- and what do you think he/she will stand accused of?
5) In 2002, Christina Aguilera transformed herself from girlish bubblegum pop star to supertrashy dirrty girl. Who do you think will undergo a similarly drastic transformation in the year ahead and what will he/she change into?
6) In 2002, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck went from costars to lovers to fiancés in no time flat -- and Nicolas Cage and Lisa Marie Presley went from lovers to spouses to ex-spouses even more quickly. Which celebrities do you think will hook up to make unlikely yet strangely compelling duos in the upcoming year?
7) In 2002, Michael Jackson dangled his baby off a Berlin balcony. Which celebrity do you think will shock the world with similarly wacky parental behavior in the year ahead, and what will he/she do?
8) In 2002, we saw the frightening rise of celebrity reality TV, with everyone from Anna Nicole Smith to Liza Minnelli and David Gest cashing in -- or at least trying to cash in -- on the Osbourne phenomenon. Which celebrity would you most like to watch go about their daily lives on TV -- and what would you hope to catch him/her doing?
9) In 2002, Susan Sarandon expressed a wish to be honored by the state of New Jersey by having a highway rest stop named after her. Which celebrity would you most like to see honored by his/her home state and what would you have them name after him/her?
10) In 2002, Moby got beaten up by an angry mob (OK, by three guys, who maybe had mace) -- and (rather pathetically) blamed himself for inviting the beating. Which celebrity do you suspect is cruising for a bruising in the coming year?
Bonus question: Which celebrity should get this year's special award for paying most cloying, continuous public tribute to his/her spouse?
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Miss something? Read yesterday's Nothing Personal.