Standing on the brink of a new year, let's look back at all the things that happened in the past 12 months, the things that surprised, confounded, enraged, frightened, delighted and amazed us -- the events that most of us never could have predicted when we rang in 2012.

-- Joan Morris

We didn't know that ...

1. Sadly, violence would take so many lives and shatter many more as we experienced not one but several mass assaults at public places, most notably the Aurora, Colo., theater and the Connecticut elementary school attacks.

2. The United States would teeter closer to that "fiscal cliff."

3. Gay marriage would become more mainstream with additional states voting to allow the unions and several television shows featuring same-sex couples in prominent roles.

4. We would show our ultimate diversity as "The Walking Dead" surpassed many broadcast shows in terms of ratings and the sappy song "Call Me Maybe" became the ubiquitous song of the summer.

5. The leading money-raiser from breast cancer research and awareness, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, would get on the wrong side of public opinion when it withdrew funding from Planned Parenthood, which provides free and low-cost breast exams. Pink in the face, the organization quickly said "Never mind" and restored the funding.

6. We would say goodbye to so many of our music and film stars and celebrities: Whitney Houston, Etta James, Davy Jones, painter Thomas Kinkade, newsman Mike Wallace, Dick Clark, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, football great Junior Seau, Richard Dawson, Ray Bradbury, "Moesha" star Yvette Wilson, Rodney King, writer/filmmaker Nora Ephron, Andy Griffith, Ernest Borgnine, Fannie Farmer cookbook author and local legend Marion Cunningham, Kitty Wells, Celeste Holmes, Sally Ride, Michael Clarke Duncan, Sherman Hemsley, Chad Everett, Marvin Hamlisch, Ron Palillo, Phyllis Diller, Arlen Specter, George McGovern, Larry Hagman, Hector "Macho" Camacho and jazz legend Dave Brubeck.

7. Hue Jackson's once promising prospects as Oakland Raiders coach would end in a losing record and a firing. His replacement wouldn't do much better. But oh, those San Francisco 49ers!

8. A whole bunch of politicians would go a bit nuts trying to explain the mysterious female anatomy and its superpowers to stop impregnation during a rape and all sorts of other things women had no idea they could do. Women later revealed their real superpowers in the voting booth.

9. Quarterback Peyton Manning would trade a horseshoe for the whole horse, finding a return to glory with the Denver Broncos after the Indianapolis Colts dropped him as damaged property.

10. We would be reminded again of the racial divide, perhaps highlighted at its worst in the shooting death of an unarmed black Florida teen by a member of a Neighborhood Watch program.

11. "Hunger Games" wouldn't go hungry for an audience, setting records before it even hit the theaters.

12. The hopes for the start of the professional hockey season would melt away.

13. "The Hobbit" would return in spectacular fashion.

14. Abraham Lincoln would be the most popular Republican the GOP had, plus he hunted vampires.

15. President Barack Obama would win another term.

16. Britain's Queen Elizabeth II would become something of an idol when she played opposite actor Daniel Craig in a "Bond" sendup that had the queen seemingly sky diving into the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.

President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would battle for the White Office, which would end in a not-all-that-close win for the
President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would battle for the White Office, which would end in a not-all-that-close win for the president.

17. If that weren't enough, Queen Elizabeth thrilled her subjects with a jubilee to mark her 60 years on the throne. Stand back: She's going after Queen Victoria's record of 63 years, seven months and two days.

18. The U.S. Supreme Court would validate the constitutionality of most of President Obama's health care plan and change the pejorative "Obamacare" into a rallying cry in the election.

19. It was a veritable celeb baby boom, with Beyoncé, Jessica Simpson, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, Adele, Claire Danes and Snooki all giving birth to future stars.

20. We'd say bye-bye Octomom and hello Tanning Mom as the most ridiculed mother in America after the excessively tawny Patricia Krentcil was accused of allowing her 5-year-old daughter to get burned inside a tanning bed.

21. The much anticipated Facebook IPO would seriously flop as investors failed to "like" it.

22. Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards would be acquitted on two charges he used campaign donations to cover up an affair and love child.

23. Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky would be convicted of molesting young boys that were part of a second-chance charity he was involved in, sending him to prison.

24. Ending speculation that began before the couple even exchanged wedding vows, Prince William and wife Kate would announce they are preggers.

25. We would suffer a moment's panic that the Mayas were right and the end of the world was near when little Honey Boo Boo redneckognized our world.

26. Baseball great Roger Clemens would be acquitted on charges of lying to Congress about steroid use.

27. Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would write his life story, and it would turn out he isn't a cyborg; the Kennedy clan remains unconvinced.

28. Years after we said goodbye to the Ewing clan, "Dallas" would return to the airwaves.

29. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes would implode, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would talk happily ever after, and Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart would do a little of both.

30. Although some would suspect a Jedi mind trick, George Lucas sells the "Star Wars" franchise to Disney, which has plans for making more movies. We just hope these won't make us gnash our teeth.

31. We would learn that "Fast and Furious" isn't just a movie and video game. The plan to track criminals in Mexico by selling them marked guns would go terribly wrong.

32. We would still be talking about Amelia Earhart's disappearance more than 70 years later.

33. Scientists would announce the discovery of Higgs boson, the so-called God particle, and we would be Googling it trying to figure out what it meant.

34. The world would go virtually visual with the rapid rise in popularity of Pinterest and Instagram.

35. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps would win gold at the London games but not as many as we expected. We'd be satisfied, however.

36. U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas would defy odds to win the women's all-around gold medal, but all anyone wanted to talk about was her hairstyle.

37. An attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, would kill Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans and would eventually derail the hopes of United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to become the new secretary of state.

38. The 2012 football season would begin with replacement referees, who soon would make us appreciate the usual guys we hate. After too many bad calls, the NFL would reach an agreement with the regular refs, allowing them to return to the field immediately.

39. Between the 99 percent and the 47 percent, we wouldn't know where we ranked.

40. The San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's would both make it into the postseason, but it would be the Giants who would, after making us sweat, go on to win the World Series.

41. Superstorm Sandy would put out the lights on Broadway and wreak havoc on the East Coast.

42. Mr. Nuts, a Fremont cat, would gain national attention by predicting the loser of the presidential election using a litter box and nature to determine the future.

43. An extramarital affair and a plot that had a whiff of "Fatal Attraction" would end the career of the CIA director, David Petraeus.

44. Kevin Clash, the actor who voices Sesame Street's Elmo character, would resign amid allegations of sex with underage boys.

45. Lindsay Lohan would find a legal way to make a spectacle of herself, starring in the horrible "Liz & Dick" made-for-TV movie. She would soon revert to form with a slew of legal troubles.

46. "Fifty Shades of Grey" would dominate our list of secret reading pleasures.

47. We would all learn what "Gangnam Style" is, even if we couldn't pronounce it correctly.

48. NASA would be cool again with the success of the Mars Curiosity mission.

49. Boy bands would come screaming back into vogue, thanks to One Direction.

50. The world wouldn't end. Turns out the Mayas just got tired of making calendars. We could relate.