Tuesday, Jan. 2, Noon ET

Debating 'The List'

Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 2, 2007; 12:00 PM

Post staff writer (and "List" czar) Hank Stuever was online Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007 at noon to discuss The List, the Style section's annual compendium of what's in and what's out.

A transcript follows.


Hank Stuever: Hello, and Happy New Year everybody. You can use this hour to get on my case about Style's annual List, or, better yet, add some Out/In items of your own. Or veer wildly off topic -- I get paid the same either way. (Zero.)

Some of you stuffybritches are already sending unhappy "I've never heard of any of this stuff" comments, which I'll post. My only response to that, really, is that if you'd already heard of everything on The List then it isn't much of a List. Google is your friend (and owner, probably).

This is Style's 29th or 30th annual List, I'm not sure. It started small, on the inside, as a way to fill the Style section void between Xmas and New Year's, and grew into a New Year's thing. Nina Hyde, who was fashion editor for many years, started it. She died in 1990 and it continued on, and got stranger. I'll post one of Nina's Lists later in the hour if you want to get out the shoulder pads and Stu-stu-studio mousse and reminisce.

Okay, I'm pushing the go button now ...


Annandale, Va.: I asked for, and received, a ping-pong table for Christmas. Does this mean I am just too cutting edge??

Hank Stuever: Absolutely. Ping-pong is showing up everywhere -- in clubs, in commercials, in fashion spreads. It is coming out of the basement in a big way.


Laurel, Md.: I've never even heard of half the things on the "Out" list, let alone the "In."

What does that make me, "Left Behind"?

Hank Stuever: You and the other sinners.


Washington, D.C.: Happy New Year! The List creates great chatter on New Year's Day parties, so you should be proud of that. Unfortunately, most of my friends have to scratch their heads about many of the items. Do you hear that a lot?

Hank Stuever: Yes. But hey.


N.Y.: I'm not a contrarian, but aren't In/Out Lists out, too?

Hank Stuever: Not this one.


Alexandria, Va.: Mr. Stuever, what was the basis for stating Penn State was "out"? Penn State is an outstanding university.

Hank Stuever: Isn't it, though. But how about that Boise State yesterday?


Bowie, Md.: Why is eBay going out? I do all my shopping there.

Hank Stuever: All your shopping? I have a resolution for you in double-oh-seven: leave the house. Our malls have never looked lovelier and I should know.

Okay, okay, a real answer: eBay no longer tantalizes. It's become the 7-Eleven of Web shopping. I like what 1stdibs is about -- I'm all about something else, something new. Of course, the real in thing now is to just go shopping in a fake universe, with fake money, where you have to watch real advertising. Is anyone out there really doing this?


Anonymous: Is there a gay bias on your list, or is my hetero status alone not the reason I didn't know most of what you were talking about?

Hank Stuever: It is just one of your problems, I suspect.


E & 12th Street, NW: Men's Vogue? IN? I think not! The magazine where for 3 out of 4 issues (they only have had four), the first ad is almost a duplicate of the front cover image. You may have wanted to consider "Fantastic Man" instead. It's beautiful, from the paper it's printed on to the old-school photo choices.

Hank Stuever: That's a good one. I just heard about Fantastic Man from a very fantastic man. Too late for the List.

You know who really digs Men's Vogue? Our Ms. Givhan. She is a reliable phantom menace when it comes to making the List.


Fairfax, Va.: For a moment I was horrified to see Tim Gunn's photo on the "out" side of the layout, but then I looked closer and realized he was not in fact being "outed" (pun intended) but was in fact being glorified for his fabulousness. But shame on the art department for scaring me like that!

Hank Stuever: I know! I keep wanting them to scooch him up into that dead space in the Style flag so that it would be more clear that he is looking down on the whole mess, worried and Godlike. Because that's how I think of him. I could go on and on about how much I admire Tim Gunn.

Okay gang -- keep sending your own ins and outs.


Cleveland Park: Thomas Quasthoff!

He's been on MY list for a few years now. Glad to see he's made yours.

Hank Stuever: He sure can sing.


Tenleytown: Hank: Do your colleagues drive you crazy asking you for explanations? Who was the most befuddled? My candidates would probably be Weingarten and Fisher -- who is still probably trying to figure out the 1990 list.

Hank Stuever: I like it when they go "whahhhnnhuh?" I would say, especially now, one would not pace around the Style section complaining about how unhip he feels.


Los Angeles: Hank I don't think Kiki and Herb are out at all -- especially in light of Justin Bond's performance in "Shortbus." But tossing them out will definitely give Kiki something new to complain about in song. In fact you may even become part of their act -- so brace yourself!

Hank Stuever: The last time I saw them at Wooly Mammoth (2005?) if felt really stick-a-fork-in-it done. Plus everyone is raptly in love with "Grey Gardens" now and Christine Ebersole. Out, in.

I like "Shortbus," though. I was surprised. I will throw down with Justin Bond when and if the time comes.


395 South: Driving nude?

Hank Stuever: You don't?


D.C.: I was given "I Like You" by Amy Sedaris this year and will be hosting a craft-party inspired by the book. Now that's she's on the IN side people may actually come!

Hank Stuever: I would love to be invited over to her house. And I don't even like crafts.


Indianapolis: Gee Hank,

Thanks a whole lot for making me feel like a geezer Midwestern hick.....I had NO IDEA about 90 percent of what you were talking about. I guess that means I was "out" about 15 years ago.

Hank Stuever: But I'll bet you've heard of Google. Go, learn, love.


Houston.: Antlers? Again? Will the '80s never end?

Hank Stuever: We've got another five or so years of '80s left, but how soon do you really want to go '90s? That way lies Hammer pants.


Washington, D.C.: Out: Renovating your 100-year-old house.

In: Restoring your 100-year-old house.

Hank Stuever: Okay


Washington, D.C.: Out: AOL Instant Messenger

In: washingtonpost.com online chats

Hank Stuever: They'll like this over the river.


Athens, Ga.: Boy, I guess I'm "in"! I chose a moissanite stone for my engagement ring four years ago. The few people I have told are shocked how beautiful it is!

Hank Stuever: You big faker! Rock on!


Augusta, Maine: I agree with "Heroes" In, but "Battlestar" Out? Wouldn't "Lost" have been more appropriate as Out?

Hank Stuever: I feel like "Lost" is double-out. I would never miss an opportunity to tick off a bunch of sci-fi fans, either.


Bethesda, Md.: Can we take a vote among Post readers as to whether the list stays or goes? I would certainly vote "go." It's one of the most obscure, trite attempts at hipness I've seen anywhere. It's unworthy of your great paper.

Hank Stuever: How can it be obscure and trite? I vote stay.


Laurel, Md.: Does someone from The Post go back to last year's list to see if the Ins were actually more popular than the Outs, subsequent to their publication?

Hank Stuever: It's been my pleasure to do The List a total of six times, including the last five years, and yes, I go back and look and gauge how it went all the time. The I got super crazy and went and re-read them in the microfilm back to the late '70s.

Wrong is not necessarily wrong. It's daring.

Speaking of old Lists ...


washingtonpost.com: The List, 1987 edition

Hank Stuever: Here's what we ran 20 years ago...


Fairfax, Va.: Are video games the future of fashion?

Hank Stuever: The hunh? The whah? This question makes me sleepy.


Columbia Heights, D.C.: As you create The List, are you lobbied by publicists, PR people, etc., to add their clients? Conversely, how much backlash do you get from people insulted that they or their clients have been deemed "out"?

Hank Stuever: Not so much. In some years, yes. This year only a few tried that. I haven't had any flaklash yet this year.


Washington, D.C.: Out: Being comfortable with your obesity

In: Eating right and exercising

Hank Stuever: Maybe more something like in: Buying yourself two airline seats.


D.C.: Just an example, there is a rule that if you were old enough to wear the fad the first time around and it makes a comeback, you are tool old to try it again! I went to the Levi's store in Georgetown a few weeks ago and the young salesperson tried to talk me into purchasing the 514s, a.k.a. stovepipe skinny jeans. I told him that I owned a pair in 1985, my senior year in High School so there was no need to try them again. And on mannequins they wore VANS! What's next ? SHOULDER PADS? Happy New Year! From a happily married 40-year-old still nursing a crush on Belinda Carlisle!

Hank Stuever: In general, I agree with this rule, but when we tell you skinny jeans are in, we don't mean in the Jerry Seinfeld-with-big-white-Reeboks way. I think today's kids are really working the '80s stuff to their benefit. The mall is crawling with Joey Ramones and Pat Benatars. Yay! I don't have to play. I'll just sit here with my Auntie Anne's pretzel and watch, wishing it was an Orange Julius.


Downtown D.C.: Hey, Hank! I'm so glad you recognized "How I Met Your Mother"! The show's stayed completely under the radar, but the episode with Robin Sparkles and the slap bet has to be one of the funniest 1/2 hours I've seen in a while.

Hank Stuever: Yes, yes.


Bethesda, Md.: What are stovepipe jeans?

Hank Stuever: They are really skinny jeans. Think of a stovepipe. Got it yet? There used to a dance song (UK, probably) that references something being "drainpipe trouser-tastic!" -- today's jeans make me think of that.


Back to the Future: Is it wrong that I look at that List and think I'd like to see 1987 back?

Hank Stuever: Not at all, Fawn.


RE: Last year's list: Ha! That's fun. Nice call on "out" for WiFi and plasma TV screens. Oops.

And Razr phones just won't go away even on two years of out list.

Good calls on "in" for Colbert and Carell

Hank Stuever: It's called a limb and I go out on it.


Silver Spring, Md.: You're au courant on the Disney tween beat with the "Cheetah Girls" and "HS Musical 2." Glad to see my small children are more hip than me. Sigh.

Hank Stuever: That's what they're here for.


Columbia, Md.: Actually sci-fi fans sort of agree with you regarding "Battlestar." They've seem to have lost their way (hahha, get it?). For gosh sakes they've had a boxing/flashback episode already. Which is usually a sign that the writers are looking for filler material.

Hank Stuever: All shows now lose their way, don't they?


Bethlehem, Pa.: You seem to have an error on this list.

T.I. to replace Jay-Z should instead be Nas. His beats is bumping.

Hank Stuever: So you say. Thanks.


Gainesville, Fla.: Was John Krasinski's inclusion on the "in" list, in opposition to Zach Braff, a reference not only to his appeal as a star on a smart NBC comedy but also a reference to his upcoming directing and writing debut in the adaption of David Foster Wallace's "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men" (a comparison to Braff's "Garden State")?

Hank Stuever: Exactly, yes. Thanks.


Just wondering...: So, Hank. It seems you are free on Tuesdays at noon. You might recall this Weingarten guy who had a regular chat then, before he went off the deep end, babbling about how much "work" he had. Now would be a great time to take over his discussion -- a bloodless e-coup. What do you think?

Hank Stuever: I could never.


Arlington, Va.: I'll give your lists credit for their esoteric, obscure and arcane references, which are edifying, but I'm not sure the effort to understand them is worth the payback. I really enjoyed the lists of years ago, which were much more accessible, insightful, and above all, humorous. I suspect these edgy, "underground," avant-garde lists are increasingly irrelevant for most of us observers of mainstream culture.

Hank Stuever: Another possibility, one too hurtful to really mention, as to why you enjoy the "lists of years ago" better ... well, I won't even say it.


Bowie, Md.: Why is 1987's In on the left and Out on the right?

Hank Stuever: Nina used to flip it every so often, I think one year she realized it had more upswing if you did it out first, in next. Then it flipped back. I think it sounds better, reads better, with Out first, In second. There are disagreements about that, still. When I'm deposed, it may flip again.


WDC: I spent most of the past year working on my Devil's Horns. Did they go Out but not make the list? I'm dying for a bon bon!

Hank Stuever: Have the bon-bon. Wasn't devil horns on the List TWO years ago? You might as well give up.


Washington, D.C.: Out: Improper language: "His beats is bumping"

In: Proper English: "The gentleman's musical composition is superbly divine."

Hank Stuever: In your world.


Rochester, N.Y.: Is there a specific market that reflects the list? For example, here in Rochester, it seems we're stuck on The List, 1993.

Hank Stuever: Hey, that was a good list!


New York, N.Y.: In the words of Conan O'Brien when asked about Lindsey, Paris, and Britney - "I wish they would just go away."

Enough is enough - they should be out, and I know who should be in - Olive of "Little Miss Sunshine" - she is it and she should be in.

Hank Stuever: Britney in particular defies in and outness. She is either out being photographed, or in where she can't be seen, until it occurs to her that she needs to be out, without panties.


Annapolis, Md.: Judging by what I've seen, people are more comfortable with their obesity than ever. Just look around when you travel -- people who should not be eating anything but fiber-rich, low-calorie foods are cramming as many fried calories into their mouths as possible. (I just got back from a week-long drive across the U.S., and I think I might have lost weight just because seeing what other people were ordering at diners, fast-food places, etc., and what they looked like, made me lose my appetite!)

Hank Stuever: I love how going to the airport now entitles one to a Cinnabon. You're right, but not tasty.


New York City: Hank, congratulations you on another fantastic year of The List. It's daring, as always, as well as dead-on.

My question, a technical one: Does "In" mean more of "What's In, As Of Right Now" or "What The Public Will Be Into This Year"? That is, is The List reportage... or prognostication? I suppose one answer is that it can vary depending on the trendiness of each reader -- but I'd like to know -your- intent behind it. Thanks.

Hank Stuever: That's a good question. I would say it breaks down a little like this:

40 percent of items I want to reflect the Right Now, This Minute

25 percent I want to look ahead

20 percent I want to just try to be weird or funny

10 percent I hope make people spittin' mad

5 percent come from Len Downie


Pittsburgh: What took so long to put David Sedaris on the "Out" list? He shoulda been there from the very first moment he opened his whiny little yap on NPR. No one gives a flying leap about his conviction that he has a God-given right to foul the air everyone else breathes in order to feed his self-indulgent nicotine addiction.

Hank Stuever: Augusten Burroughs, ladies and gentlemen.


395 North: I will if you will.

Hank Stuever: Sorry, that would be 1,500-mile commute for me just now. But you go right ahead.


Alexandria, Va.: I think you should do a permanent In list. Like "The Simpsons" -- that show has moved into the "always and forever good" column. Always and forever Out would be tougher, as who would have predicted that Paris Hilton would go from a spoiled, vapid rich girl to a spoiled, vapid rich girl PAID MONEY to show up at parties? So it might be risky to put someone on the Out list for fear they might be resurrected. (Also included in the who-would-have-thought column, Nixon, who went from scum to lauded for days after his death.)

Hank Stuever: Nope, we put The List on fishwrap for a reason.

You still think "The Simpsons" is great?


Washington, D.C.: We miss you in the Style section these days. Where have you been?

Hank Stuever: Lots of questions like this one. Babies, I am here for you, in spirit. But I have chosen madness, which is also called "book leave." That's what some Washington Post writers do when we feel that we're just not neurotic enough -- that there is some greater unhappiness that eludes us and must be sought out.

Ah, it's not that bad.


Gaithersburg, Md.: In 1987, Katharine Hepburn was out? I was only 11, but did I miss something? Was it ever possible for Katharine Hepburn to be anything but "in"?

Hank Stuever: Oh, no, I like that one! By '87 she was a tedious bore. An old poop.


Bowie, Md.: How can Hugh Jackman EVER be out?

Hank Stuever: Yes. Too many cartoons.


Bergenfield, N.J.: Where does Kevin Federline stand on this list? I'm thinking something like:

OUT: K-Fed as a real person

IN: K-Fed as an ironic celebrity

What say you?

Hank Stuever: He stands somewhere way over there.


Adams Morgan, D.C.: Beg to differ on David Sedaris. In a recent New Yorker, he wrote a simply brilliant, and poignant, story about his coming out. Few other writers manage to balance bitter with sweet like he does, without sounding whiny.

Hank Stuever: A Sedaris fan.


Bethesda, Md.: Speaking of the airport -- remember when people used to get dressed up to go to the airport? Will that ever be in again, or does dressing down have something to do with all the gorging at the airport? After all I typically raid the refrigerator while in my socks.

Hank Stuever: We got thisclose to having to fly in paper hospital gowns.


Fairfax, Va.: Re: Washington, D.C.: Out: Improper language: "His beats is bumping"

In: Proper English: "The gentleman's musical composition is superbly divine."

Hank Stuever: In your world.

You missed the reference, Hank. For shame. Dave Chappelle = In forever.

Hank Stuever: Yes, shame on me.


Perth, Australia: How dare you praise "Heroes" at the expense of "Battlestar Galactica"? Has the world gone mad, or are you just following shows based on their Nielsen ratings rather than relevance and topicality? You'd think that someone writing for The Washington Post would know better.

Hank Stuever: A Battlestar fan.


Washington, D.C.: Dead on about Amy Sedaris...I think most people skim over how truly brilliant she really is! But I like her that way...sort of "undiscovered and weird"...if she became commercial she would immediately be moved over to the Out list, no?

Hank Stuever: Yep, life is hard that way.


Hank Stuever: Designers, I'm afraid your time is up.

Thank you for all the questions and feedback. I work on The List all year -- feel free to send suggestions anytime. Happy 2007. So long!


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