Year in review: The 2007 Whatsie awards

We’ve made it to the end of our second year with nary a hitch: Yes, a few writers have gone into retirement — only temporarily, we hope — but we’ve gained new ones, too, and had at least one prodigal daughter return.

Once again, we’re pretty happy with the amount of (mostly) good text we’ve accumulated, especially considering the fact that many of these pieces were composed on the fly.

We asked our contributors, commentors, and readers to put forward their favorite posts from 2007, to suggest the category that best describes the post and to explain briefly what made the post superlative. Thanks for all the responses we received. What follows are the results, which should serve as a guide to the Best of TGW in 2007:

Maybe it’s fitting that one of the first nominations to come in made reference to one of our 2006 navel-gazing posts. In the category of Best Impersonation of Linda Richman, we have Dave B’s “The Partridge Family were neither partridges nor a family.” The recommender writes, “This post really works because Dave’s text ends with the word, discuss.” To which one of our editors replied, “That would be Discuss! with an exclamation [point].” (Reviewing this post allowed us to see that in the last year we’ve doubled our regular readership.)

Most Squirm-Inducing Post: “Vignettes of discomfort,” by Literacy H. Dogfight, of which our reader writes: “Little whores! OJ Simpson! Parents bringing up masturbation! This post gave me nightmares.” A closely related nomination: Most Disturbing to the Squeamish and Oversensitive: “Do it clean,” by Bryan Waterman.

For Best Crime Post, one recommender suggests a tie between “Three, four, knock at the door,” by Stella, and “Ten things to remember when chasing down a burglar,” by Farrell Fawcett.

To counter all that squirming and criminality we have a nominee for Funniest Self-Deprecating Descriptions (That Made You Wanna Join Her in Gluttony): “Eat, pray, love .. and then eat some more,” by Wendy West.

Wendy also garnered a nomination for Best Final Line for her post “Sex Talk” — so nominated, our reader writes, because “The final line says it all.” And it looks like Wendy will also take home the award in the Omigod, I Was Totally Going to Write the Same Post, It’s Like We’re Sisters! category, for “Future Perfect.”

A number of people recommended TGW travel writing of various sorts. Nominated as our Best Travel Story we have: “Buenos Aires and the Bush daughters in heat,” by Farrell Fawcett. As Best Illustrated Travel Essay we received a nomination for Rachel Berkowitz, “Rome, Part 2: La bella figura.” Closely related/almost a travel post: Best Participant/Observer Study Report: “American dream” and “American dream part two,” by Stella. Stella also received nominations for Best Photo Essay for her posts “Stella on the island” and “Stella on a rainy island.” For Best Neighborhood Photo Essay we have Jen Mandel’s “Progress.” And for Creepiest Travel Post Illustrations, see Bryan Waterman, “Americans in Paris, part II.”

Under a broad “travel” umbrella we also have a nomination for the post Most Likely to Make You Gain 25 Pounds as You Wander the Lower East Side: “Sweet and cheap eats on the Lower East Side,” by Bryan Waterman, a post that was nominated in several closely related categories: Most Likely to Force Chubby Graduate Students onto the LIRR for an Afternoon of Walking in the City and Most Likely to Derail Any Diet or Hunger Strike. One lurker offers this thumbnail of the post: “[It] brings poor graduate student foodies great delight, dazzling readers with wondrous tales of inexpensive eats and treats to be had in lower Manhattan.” Another writer nominated the same post as Best Armchair Traveler Post, along with Bryan’s “Crab camp,” and asks: “TGW=the new CondeNast Traveler?”

Though it was spurred by travel, Bryan’s “Montreal Honeymoon Trail” was nominated not as a travel post but as the Most Moving Ode to a Lifestyle Not One’s Own, which, according to the person submitting the nomination, is “The only recorded instance in history of using Mormon pioneer heritage to argue for gay rights.”

Others nominated posts that kept their controversies closer to home. As Best Narratives on Difficult Interactions with Unknown People in the Neighborhood, one reader felt we had a tie: “Cold snap,” by Tim Wager, and “Would you rather …,” by Stephanie Wells. Our recommender writes: “Just when you thought it was safe to leave the house …”

A nomination for Most Sumptuous Photos: Josh Targownik in Lisa Tremain’s “No pressure.”

And for A Serious, Unsolved Conundrum: “‘Muah!'” by Wendy West.

Best TV-related Post: “Wired,” also by Wendy West.

A four-way tie for Most Interesting Questions Raised: “Respecting believers,” by Dave B; “Baby, it’s cold outside,” by Bryan Waterman; “You be bad,” by Literacy H. Dogfight; “Guns, germs, steel, and Oprah,” by Scott Godfrey.

Another tie for Posts with Best Photos of Younger Selves: “Town crier,” by Scott Godfrey, and “Sweet tooth,” by Jeremy Zitter. Our correspondent writes: “Scotty wins in the ‘hot twenty-something eye-linered rocker’ division; Jeremy in the ‘super cute little innocent looking boy’ division.”

“Town Crier” also received a nomination for Best Illustrations and another for Best Exploitation of TGW to Attract Women, though the same might have been said for Lisa Parrish’s “Georgians on my mind,” which received a nomination for Best Putting It Out There and for Most Like an Episode of “The L Word” (But Without a Gratuitous Sex Scene).

Speaking of Parrish, she received two nominations for Most Welcome Return (though one was phrased as Most Welcome Prodigal Daughter’s Return). Annie Walker received a nomination for Best New Voice. Both Trixie Honeycups and Dr. Cedar Cedarbrook received multiple nominations for Most Missed Contributor or, in Trixie’s case, Contributor Whose Postings Were Most Sorely Missed in 2007; Trixie also received a nomination for Most Anticipated Comeback of 2008. Pandora received a similar vote, though framed in the negative, for Most Saddening Retirement.

Best Playlist Theme: “Analogy edition,” by Lisa Tremain. Most Challenging Mix: E. Tan’s “Calculated negligence and everyday noise.”

Most Shocking Post: “End comment,” by Literacy H. Dogfight. In related categories, Most Startling Disclosure: “A Necessary End,” by Dave B, and Most Provocative: “Over the counter culture,” by Brooke Maury.

Best Narrative Development: “Physics is Phun,” by Pandora Brewer.

Best Title: “Talk yurty to me,” by Stephanie Wells, because “The title says it all.” Other nominees in this category: “Over the counter culture,” by Brooke Maury, and “Oscars, the Grouch,” by G-lock.

Most Groan-Inducing Title: “Jean Baudrillard: He’s ‘real’ dead,” by Scott Godfrey.

Best Linking of the Natural World to the Writer’s Personal Life: “When colonies collapse,” by Jeremy Zitter, tied with “Lone tree,” by Pandora Brewer.

Best Contemplation of One’s Own Mortality: “A necessary end,” by Dave B. Our reader answers Dave’s question: “Is fear of death a fear of myself?” with this: “Only your therapist knows for sure.”

As the post Most Likely to Bring Down the Nation-State One Renounced Citizenship at a Time we have “A country for old men,” by Brooke Maury, which was also nominated as Most Undercommented Post.

Best Guest Contributor (also nominated as Guest Contributor Who Should Forsake Unfogged’s Mineshaft and Write for TGW as a Regular): A White Bear, whose “I am, as it turns out, quite clean” revisited an old TGW haunt.

Most Interesting Topic Switch in the Comments Thread: “To live and ride in L.A.,” by Tim Wager.

Post So Good It Shut Down Our Site after It Received 20,000 Hits in One Hour: “10 ironies and truisms of the ER,” by Annie Walker. (This post was also nominated as Post Most Likely to Attract Suicidal Trolls. [ouch! — ed.])

Most Surprisingly Excellent Post That You Thought Was Going to Be Unbearable Because of Its Topic: “The garland briefer than a girl’s,” by Ruben Mancillas.

Best Videos: “I loved that tree, it was a good tree” and “Labor day in the Hamptons, 1987,” also nominated as Best YouTube Holiday Punt. For Best Video Playlist: Miller, “Eyes open eyes shut” and Farrell Fawcett’s “Best music videos of 2007.”

Best End-of-the-World Post: “Let’s Not Don’t Fear the Reaper,” by Farrell Fawcett.

Best Concrete Details: “Adios to ghosts,” by Wendy West, and “When keeping it real goes wrong,” by Ruben Mancillas.

Most Delightfully Random List: “Phthis and phthat,” by Lisa Parrish.

Best Self-portrait was presented to us as a contest: “Town crier” by Scott Godfrey vs. “Space place” by Dave B.

And so was The Arm Wrestling Award: Bryan Waterman’s Walt Whitman tattoo photo (“On seizing the Thursday”) vs. Tim Wager’s bruise photo (“To live and ride in LA”).

Maybe My Favorite Phrase of the Year: “In this breathtaking bit of euphemism …” (from Dave B, in “Reminder”)

In addition to the above idiosyncratic categories, several posts received nominations either as Favorite Post or as Post of the Year. They are (in no particular order):

(Also nominated as Most Moving Post.)

(One reader wrote: “A lovely, moving tribute to not only Capt. Taube but the neighborhood he made his own.” Also nominated for Most Meaningful Comment Thread.)

(This post also received nomination as Second Biggest Awwww … And Most Heartwarming.)

(This post also received nomination as Post That Most Put 30 into Perspective.)

(This post also received nominations as Best 80s Nostalgia and Best ‘Freaks & Geeks’ Moment)

And the post that received the most nominations for Post of the Year:

(This post also received nominations as Best Love Poem Disguised as a Post; Biggest Awwww … Without Being Sappy, Just a Great Use of Sentiment; and Post Most Likely to Make Me Wish I Were Married to Pandora. The last nomination came with the comment: “I want to be married to Pandora for twenty years! I want her to publicly, eloquently proclaim her love for me on The Great Whatsit!”)

Finally, here are the posts our authors think best showed their stuff in ’07. We’ll call these the Personal Best awards:

Dave B: “Against certainty”

Rachel Berkowitz: “Quest for fire”

Dr. Cedric Cedarbrook: “Tales from the office: Murray and Esther”

Scott Godfrey: “A special gift”

Lisa Parrish: “Georgians on my mind”

Stella: “And lashings of ginger beer”

Lane Twitchell: “No end of the things made of human talk” (Lane says, “The electronic hearth. Hermetically sealed. Indeed.”)

Tim Wager: “Cold snap”

Annie Walker: “Three patients, four families”

Bryan Waterman: “Crab camp”

Stephanie Wells: “Little ditty”

Wendy West : “Adios to ghosts”

Jeremy Zitter: “One day of junior high school in the mid-80s in Redmond, Washington”

So, dear readers … Disputations? Amendments? Additions to this (already too long) list?

Thanks, most of all, for reading, and have a great 2008.

17 responses to “Year in review: The 2007 Whatsie awards”

  1. PB says:

    To the TGW editors – I love this format, an evolutionary improvement over last year in tone and organization. The comments and interesting nomination titles almost compel you to link back and enjoy them all over again. I especially like the authors nominating their own best post – so often the writer’s perception and the audience is different – it gives a nice insight.

    I had already decided before this post to become the second prodigal daughter to return to the fold (Lisa – you got the goat party, I will settle for the slaughter of a chicken, maybe a little dancing), but my nominations for “20 yrs” made me blush in certainy. At the risk of true sap and sentimentality – I have truly missed your community, audience and my own partipation.
    Here’s to a new year of great sharing.

  2. Stella says:

    Welcome back Pandora!

  3. LP says:

    Yay!! Yay!!! Pandora’s back!!!

  4. LT says:

    Wowee. A girl goes on a honeymoon and next thing you know Pandora’s commenting again on TGW. What a great gift on the return!

    It was kinda strange to not be able to obsessively check this site while I was away…I wasn’t able to vote for myself either. Drat.

    I am happy to know (virtually and otherwise) this lovely and quite genius community of people. And therefore, I nominate The Great Whatsit as the best Greatwhatsit of 2007, indeed, of all time.

  5. Tim Wager says:

    “I had already decided before this post to become the second prodigal daughter to return to the fold”

    Oh, frabjous day, calloo, callay!

    Thanks for compiling the list, Bryan and Dave! And thanks to all the contributors and commenters who made nominations. What fun to browse these posts again!

  6. Dave says:

    Tim, you realize that if this were a Simpsons episode you’d be getting beaten up by Nelson Muntz right now, right?

  7. Tim Wager says:

    Oof! Ow! Nelson, please cease with your fisticuffs, or I will be forced to report your behavior to Mrs. Krabappel!

  8. cynthia says:

    I just wanted to say thanks to all the great writers, there are some great essays out there. Also thank you to those who respond to my comments. I appreciate it. I woud hate to think I was intruding. Everybody have a great 2008

  9. Scotty says:

    Cynthia: don’t be silly; of course you’re not intruding through your comments. I’m sure it’s intimidating to jump into the fray when you don’t know any of us. As a contributor, yours and everyone’s comments are always greatly appreciated. I hope you stick around.

  10. cynthia says:

    Thanks Scotty, I appreciate it. I love these posts. Yeah I thought maybe, Yes, I was intruding. Thanks for the welcome and I will be sticking around.

  11. farrell fawcett says:

    Thank you for all your work in compiling these nominations. You made this a very sweet post instead of a long list of things. I can tell a good deal of work went into it. You and Dave’s efforts never really get all the notice you deserve, but you two do so much to keep this running strong. Thank you, thank you. 2008 looks very exciting already!

  12. trixie says:

    bryan and dave,
    i have been meaning to express exactly what farrell did in the last comment.
    this post was really nicely done, and all the work that you do to keep this site going is much appreciated.
    looking forward to another great year.
    (and since we have started another project, i will be posting again in 2008 to document it)

  13. bryan says:


  14. So, what happens now? All the nominations are out, but how do the best ones get picked?

  15. bryan says:

    well, the reality is that we are only nominating. there is no voting. each post was the winner in its idiosyncratic categories. if you didn’t submit a ballot, you missed the boat! but you’re always welcome to continue the process in the comments section.

  16. Ah. Well, it just so happens that I did submit a ballot. My pick was Pandora’s “SPAM key circa 1971” as Best Lure for the Dormant Nostalgics. However, I wasn’t there for the whole year, and the mass of Post of the Year nominations say the same thing that I did in my ballot: I love Pandora. And her writing.

  17. Hmm. I never got that ballot when I went to produce the final list. So I’m glad you added the nomination here. Anyone else so moved can do likewise.