• Pamela Froman

Most Shocking 2018

2018 has positively flown by and there were so many moments that defined the year. From political ups and downs to celebrity scandals, here are a few of the events and stories that made this past year unique!

The recreational use of marijuana is now legal. However you have to follow the rules. For instance, if you are 21 or older, you can buy and possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate and up to six live plants. If you are between 18 and 20 years old, you can buy and possess up to 8 ounces of marijuana and 12 live plants, but only through medical marijuana, which requires a doctor's prescription.

The Borderline Bar & Grill Shooting in Thousand Oaks was just one more in a series of shooting events that occurred this year. The tragedy left 13 people dead and marked the 307th mass shooting incident so far this year. The shots were fired during a weekly college night party and an estimated 150 to 200 people were in the bar at the time. #ThousandOaksStrong

Another tragic shooting was the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting. Armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and handguns, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing at least 11 congregants and wounding four police officers and two others. It was a rampage described as among the deadliest against the Jewish community in the United States.

Take a selfie, Mars! NASA's Mars InSight Mission touched down on the Martian surface in 2018. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It is the first outer space robotic explorer to study in-depth the “inner space” of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.

The International House of Pancakes is of course, best known for...pancakes. However in 2018 the chain restaurant decided to unleash a fun-loving marketing campaign where they re-branded from “IHOP” to “IHOb.” The restaurant's name change was an attempt to promote a new line of hamburgers, and boy did it get people talking. The company has now officially changed its name back to IHOP, but it confirmed via Twitter that it will still be selling its delicious burgers.

The midterm elections were a mighty force this year. Thirty-five of the 100 seats in the United States Senate and all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives were contested. In the elections, the Democratic Party won control of the House of Representatives and made gains at the state level while the Republican Party expanded its majority in the Senate. The election was characterized by high voter participation, as turnout reached the greatest level seen in a mid-term election since 1914. The elections also saw firsts for women, racial minorities, and LGBT candidates, including the election of the first openly gay governor, the first female Muslim members of Congress, and the first female Native American members of Congress. 

In terms of President Trump, a private negotiating session with Democratic congressional leaders turned into a bitter televised altercation over the long-promised border wall. Trump vowed to force a year-end government shutdown if Democrats refused to fund his signature campaign promise, saying he was “proud to shut down the government for border security.”

Rapper and designer Kanye West (and Mr. Kim Kardashian) publicly supported President Trump as part of a days-long Twitter rant. “You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him,” he said in the tweet. “We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent though.” The President responded three hours later, calling West's comments “very cool.” West also posted a selfie in one of Trump’s signature “Make America Great Again” hats.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un caught everyone by surprise when he raised the prospect of attending the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea this year. While it is not unusual for North Korea to take part in international sporting events, this one was different because of context and timing. The speech was quickly followed by an invitation from South Korea, fast-paced meetings and within weeks it was agreed the North would send athletes as well as a cultural troupe. The teams from both North and South Korea marched at the opening ceremony as one country, under a single “unified Korea” flag.

The #MeToo movement is staying strong. A Pennsylvania jury found Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, setting up the comic legend for the possibility of years of imprisonment for drugging and sexually violating a woman 14 years ago.

In June, actress and comedian Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist remark about President Obama's former black female advisor, Valerie Jarrett. Barr's tweet received a ton of backlash. In response, the actress deleted the tweet, claimed she was just kidding around, and then tried to blame Ambien for her actions. But it was too late. The tweet led to her show being cancelled and her agent dropping her.

In lighter news, a reboot of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy is on Netflix! The original Queer Eye worked to help straight men with problems like fashion, grooming, culinary, and home-décor. Underneath all of that, of course, was a deeper proposition – straight and gay men could understand and appreciate one another. On the new Queer Eye, they continue to support that idea.

Bye bye Geoffrey the Giraffe – or maybe not? While toy store chain Toys R Us announced they would be closing all 800 of its U.S. stores, a group of toy makers led by MGA Entertainment, the giant behind brands such as L.O.L. Surprise!, Little Tikes and Bratz have other ideas. They submitted a bid to buy Toys R Us' Canadian arm, which includes 82 stores. They are also looking into buying as many as 400 U.S. stores, which would still operate under the Toys R Us name.

The 2018 wildfire season is the most destructive and deadly wildfire season on record in California. In November 2018, strong winds caused a round of large, devastating fires to erupt across the state. This batch of wildfires included the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties and the Camp Fire in Paradise. The latter killed at least 85 people and destroyed more than 18,000 structures, and the former destroyed 1,643 structures, killed three people, and prompted the evacuation of more than 295,000. A combination of an increased amount of natural fuel and compounding atmospheric conditions linked to global warming is thought to be a contributor to both fires. 

The Super Blue Moon Lunar Eclipse in January was a truly spectacular celestial event. The Blue Moon passed through the Earth’s shadow to provide a total lunar eclipse. The full moon was also the third in a series of three straight full moon supermoons – that is, super-close full moons. And it was the first of two Blue Moons in 2018. So wasn't just a total lunar eclipse, or a Blue Moon, or a supermoon. It was all three – a super Blue Moon total eclipse – the first in 150 years!

Viral Challenges can be hilarious – but also dangerous. Point taken with the Tide Pod Challenge on YouTube. Teens started recording and sharing videos of themselves frying and “eating” the poisonous soap-filled pouches. YouTube stepped in and took action by pulling the videos from the site, but the damage was done. Tide Pod inspired pizza, doughnuts, sushi, and shots were created. Things got so out of hand that stores had to lock up their detergent displays!

We lost some truly amazing people this year:

Among the most prominent deaths of 2018 was Stephen Hawking. Hawking was a wheelchair-bound English theoretical physicist known for his groundbreaking work with black holes and relativity, and as the author of several popular science books including “A Brief History of Time.” Detroit’s Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, died in August from cancer. A true musical legend, she created a mesmerizing sound epiphany every time she took the stage. George H.W. Bush was a World War II hero and the 41st President of the United States. He saw the Berlin Wall fall and spent his final decades jumping out of airplanes just well, because! Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, passed eight months earlier. Another war hero and presidential hopeful we will miss was John McCain, who survived imprisonment in North Vietnam and a created a legacy of political courage that often defied party lines. The world of fantasy lost Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee, 95, whose creative achievement included superheroes like Spider-Man, the Hulk, Fantastic Four, Iron Man and the Avengers. Lee appeared in cameos in at least 37 movies featuring Marvel characters. And finally, comic genius Penny Marshall passed in December from complications of diabetes.

Love is in the air! Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin have been together for a while now, so naturally they're married, and have been since September! Even though they've officially confirmed their marriage, which happened at a courthouse, they still plan on having a religious ceremony. 

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry just got married – and now they are officially pregnant with their first baby! The royal bundle of joy is due in the spring.

Whether it’s acting on a set or packing bags at the local grocery store, it's all about an honest day’s work. Which is why former actor from The Cosby Show Geoffrey Owens was completely supported by fans when it was discovered he was working at a Trader Joe’s grocery store in New Jersey. The story went viral and several Hollywood notables and fans alike have come to Owens’ aid. Most notably, producer/filmmaker Tyler Perry offered the actor a job on one of his shows — and according to TMZ, Owens has accepted the gig.

2018 has been a doozy! So here's to the future – and the most shocking of 2019!

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