Rising unemployment, wage freezes, foreclosures and other economic miseries dominated the headlines in 2010.
Someone still must have money, though, because there was no shortage of entertainment options in the region.
And the right lineup had no trouble attracting ticket buyers.
Well over 1,000 girls - and their mothers and at least a few guys - stood in line for hours at Eastwood Mall in Niles and paid $25 for an autograph ($40 for a photo) with ''Twilight'' actor Peter Facinelli.
Even though tickets to see Elton John topped out at about $140, they were sold out in minutes for his May 1 show at the Covelli Centre (and ticket brokers moved plenty of seats for well above face value). A few hundred people paid even more for a glimpse (and little more) of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood when he came to the Butler Institute of American Art for the opening of his painting exhibition in September.
A higher admission fee for the summer concert series at the Warren Community Amphitheatre didn't keep the bowl and the surrounding grounds from being full whenever the sun was shining and the right band was on the stage. And for the first time in recent memory, the Warren Civic Music Association sold out its subscription season months before the first show at Packard Music Hall.
Elton John's Covelli Centre performance might have been my favorite concert of 2010 if deadlines and computer/
Internet problems hadn't limited me to seeing only six songs. Instead, it was nice to see Alice Cooper a couple months before he was selected for the next group of inductees for the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame.
And here in Warren, Fins to the Left provided the perfect soundtrack for a Fourth of July weekend bash at the Warren Community Amphitheatre, and those Jimmy Buffett songs sounded even better with Coral Reefer Band members Michael Utley and Robert Greenidge joining the tribute band (the contributions of former Coral Reefer harmonica player Greg ''Fingers'' Taylor turned out to be less valuable).
Still, nothing could top nearly three hours of electric and acoustic Wilco when the band played Pittsburgh's Carnegie Music Hall in April.
There was plenty of great theater to be had as well. I'm glad PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland took a break from the musicals that dominate its Broadway series to include Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play ''August: Osage County,'' but actor Molly Galano and director Robert Dennick Joki delivered just as much of an emotional wallop in the more intimate confines of the Oakland Center for the Arts in Youngstown with the drama ''Wit.''
And while I missed the Youngstown Playhouse's sold-out run of ''Chicago'' in September, the community theater proved what it could do with a crowd-pleasing musical with its production of ''Curtains'' earlier in the year.
Local audiences also got to see some well-conceived productions of classic stage literature, whether it was Moliere's ''Tartuffe'' at Kent State University Trumbull Campus or Shakespeare's ''Twelfth Night'' at Trumbull New Theatre and a bloody ''Macbeth'' at the Playhouse.
I can't wait to see what 2011 has to offer.
Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org