Paul the Octopus: An oracle who also has eight legs? This year, it wasn't a fairy tale. During the World Cup, Paul the Octopus, a magical German mollusk, made believers out of doubters by correctly predicting the outcomes of eight of the championship's matches. Before each game, Paul would be presented with snacks from the competing countries, and the snack he consumed first determined his pick. Alas, he won't get a chance to charm soccer lovers again. Paul died in October of natural causes, but not before being immortalized on T-shirts and an iPhone app.
Jimmy McMillan: With facial hair that fierce, and nicknames like "Papa Smurf" and "The Black Hulk Hogan," Jimmy McMillan was destined for stardom. No matter that he ran for governor of New York this year with minimal political experience. His battle cry, "The rent is too damn high," resonated far and wide among strapped New York City residents -- well, until it was revealed that because he serves as the maintenance person for his Brooklyn building, he doesn't pay any rent at all.
The Chilean Miners: The world watched as they emerged from a mile underground, sooty, sweaty, and full of spirit. But the drama didn't stop when the tenacious 33 saw the light of day. One set off a battle between his mistress and his wife. Another became the classic comeback king: the miner who ran in the New York City marathon.
Eyjafjallajokull: Hard to pronounce? Yes. Annoying? Even more so. This spring, the Icelandic volcano made a lot of people mimic its colorful spelling when they exclaimed things like "Fqwer7*!" after learning that their flights to and from Europe had been delayed or canceled because of ash clogging the air for thousands of miles.
Larry Platt: Not since William Hung has an "American Idol" reject won so much by getting booted from the show. "General" Larry Platt hit a nerve with his "Idol" audition that featured his anthem about appropriate lower-body wear, "Pants on the Ground." Key lyrics include, "Lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground." Though Simon Cowell stopped him from entering the competition's gilded gates, Platt scored online fame and a guest spot on "The View," in which he gave an impassioned rendition of his signature song.
Isaiah Mustafa: 2010 saw any number of Web sensations, none more seductive than Mustafa, "The Old Spice Guy," who sauntered into our collective consciousness after his Super Bowl commercial debut. "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" turned Mustafa into a virile, viral icon, setting off a YouTube viewing spree, a host of follow-up videos, and an Emmy for best commercial of the year. Even Oprah Winfrey bought the hype, declaring "that commercial has women everywhere wishing their guys looked and smelled like this." Next year, Mustafa plans to transition from hawking body wash to acting in movies and films, in which he may or may not wear a shirt and smell good.
Tom Selleck Waterfall Sandwich: Not all of the Internet memes (quickly spreading trends) of 2010 were flesh-and-blood. Many involved amalgams of video and photographs that gained steam thanks to their sheer absurdity. Case in point: SelleckWaterfallSandwich.com, a blog that features exactly what it suggests -- photo mash-ups of "Magnum P.I.", cascades of water and bread with meat.