The List

Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 2, 2008; 1:00 PM

Post feature writer Hank Stuever was online Wednesday, Jan. 2, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss, defend, 'splain and otherwise chit-chat about The List-- the Style section's 30th annual read on what's out and what's in for the new year. He welcomes not only your questions (and your passionate dissent) but your additions to what should be in or out in 2008.

A transcript follows.


Hank Stuever: Welcome, my little squirrels, to an hour-long chat about The List, the Style section's annual read on what's in and what's out. I'm here for your questions, your feedback, your wha-hunh?'s. I'm happy to post your own contributions of what's OUT and what's IN for 2008. We do this every year, and yes, it always provokes a lot of head-scratching. Let's go, shall we?


Washington, D.C.: Hank -- I loved reading your list and thought out-ecotourism and in-staycations was great. I have actually planned a week-long staycation this month but didn't know it was a "thing" and am wondering what I should do with my week off. Not use my car, shut off the electricity in my house, and take photos of birds and squirrels in my backyard?

Hank Stuever: Staycations are the best. I like to have a little bit of a plan for them, so the entire week doesn't unfurl with limitless reruns of "Clean House." (Which it would.) Book some massages, hair cuts, etc. Have a lunch date or two. See movies. But mostly STAY. Figure out how many hours you want to spend reading magazines, versus reading a good novel. Be a cat.


Oreo pizza: Hank, did you try the Oreo pizza and the double chocolate chip cake? My co-workers and I ate the Oreo pizza this year, and it was the worst thing we've ever put in our mouths: chocolate crumbs and Elmer's glue on cardboard. Absolutely inhuman.

Hank Stuever: I admit I have not actually eaten the KFC cake, but I did get a nibble of the Oreo pizza last year and wasn't absolutely horrified. I was just looking for something WORSE sounding than Oreo pizza and my editor friend Leslie said the KFC cake should give any sane person pause. She thinks it would have a chickeny undertone. Like when they have a Taco Bell and a KFC in da same house and everything really does taste like everything else....


Bethesda, Md.: You're going to take a lot of hits on this one, but sex replaced by naps? What's up with that? Wishful thinking in an overpopulated world? I'll check back for my answer, after my siesta...

Hank Stuever: I'm going to go ahead and say that this is the year for some really hot naps.


Alexandria, Va.: Miss Manners will always be "in."

Hank Stuever: See next question....


SanTana, Calif.: The Mexican here. Gracias for your kind inclusion of my Reconquista-promoting columna! But lemme Ask an Okie: how on Earth did you come to this conclusion? Too mucho pulque on Monday?

Hank Stuever: Welcome, Mexican!

For those of you who are still not getting that item (Out: Miss Manners/In: !Ask a Mexican!), you really should check out that column, which runs in a bunch of alt weeklies. He's exploring a whole new frontier in social etiquette and answering questions we all want answers to, in these contentious build-a-wall-Ron-Paul times.

Speaking of, anyone got a good Ron Paul-related OUT/IN suggestions? I couldn't quite make it work...


Wheaton, Md.: What D.C. street corners have bibimbap vendors?

Hank Stuever: There's one at 14th and L currently. The Food section people were all about this item for the List, based on some recent efforts to diversify the food carts...


Washington, D.C.: Hi, Hank!

So how did your 2007 'In' list hold up? Anything on there that caused head scratching last January 1, but turned out to be spot on?

Hank Stuever: I dunno, let's look ...

I think I was onto something about Keith Olbermann being in a moment, and his ratings went up, and it was pretty good until he fell further in love with the sound of his own voice ... by the end of year he'd become a blowhard.... I was right about Dane Cook being OUT ... I was really wrong about Rasputia, the character from that Eddie Murphy movie "Norbit" (or Norbert?) which landed with a thud... I was right about Zicam swabs being IN, wrong about Fall Out Boy being OUT (that album got released and was good, I thought ...)


L.A.: Thanks for making the LIST clickable this year.

Hank Stuever: Thank our smart friends at!


Arlington, Va.: You have made my year by putting Terps "OUT" and Hoyas "IN."

Hank Stuever: That's a relief. I wasn't sure if that was going to cause an uproar, or, at the very least, a burning sofa on my street.


Annandale, Va.: What's the deal with squirrels on the list? I just moved into a new house with some crazy, wild squirrel action in the backyard. Does this make me hip?

Hank Stuever: This makes you very hip. People think I'm joking when I say squirrels are IN and meerkats are OUT. Let me happily explain: There is a major squirrel moment coming. All these bloggers in Manhattan are fascinated by their urban squirrels -- there are baby squirrel rescue societies, people keeping notes on behaviors and populations, etc. I am just waiting for everyone to start wearing squirrel t-shirts. I predict by the end of 2008 someone will have a six-figure book contract to write about the lives of squirrels, and if that someone isn't named Foer, it will be someone who knows the Foers. There will be a squirrel Pixar movie before it's all over.

Those meerkats are done, however, ever since Flower got bit by the snake and died....


Ron Paul/Ru Paul: Hi Hank: One or the other of Ron Paul/RuPaul must be in or out, don't you think? For the first few months of the campaign every time I heard Ron Paul's name I thought of RuPaul. But you never see them together, so maybe they are the same person....

Hank Stuever: Keep trying!


Chevy Chase, Md.: For years, I have only been able to understand a minute fraction of the list. Previously, I had attributed this lack of understanding to my own lack of knowledge of popular culture; however, I consider myself to be a pretty well-informed in this area and I only grasped a handful of the references made in this year's list. Conversations with friends and family members have revealed that they also share my puzzlement. The contents of the list seem to be deliberatley obscure, especially considering the wealth of pop culture references that could be made. Do you intentionally include obscure items in the list?

Hank Stuever: I get this question every year, though yours is more polite than some of the email and those on the comments board, so let me give you my shortest answer, and then maybe later in the chat I'll give a longer answer:

If the List contained things that were easily recognizable, it wouldn't be much of a List. It is not intentionally obscure. It is, however, probably best enjoyed by people who are really engaged in the buzz of things -- all things. The other 364 days of the year, we in the newspaper business spend a lot of time, between commas, explaining references and concepts to readers who might not get them, if not outright deleting things that we fret readers won't get. The List is the day we don't do that.

Also, you can look up more than 90 percent of the List. Thanks to our friends at the web site, you can click on a lot of it, and get a definition.

The List honors the idea of a NEWspaper, which gives you a sense of what's NEW.

Editors all the way up the chain agreed on Monday, when they read it, that this List was more accessible than the last few....


Privacy for candidates: Hi Hank -- the top item on your 'out' list (Mormon undies) raised an urgent question. How do the presidential candidates take care of personal needs such as laundry, when they are on the road? They obviously want some modicum of privacy, and in our celebrity-crazed culture, just handing over bags to random hotel staff seems a bit risky. Yet I find it hard to picture Mitt or Rudy spending a couple of hours at the local laundromat in Des Moines.

Hank Stuever: gDiapers


Anonymous: I think with Dane Cook, people just realized he wasn't actually funny to begin with no matter how loud he tried to get...

Hank Stuever: Dane Cook pinatas: IN.


Herndon, Va.: Why, Hank, did you feel the need to pick on the poor Meerkats? Don't you know that they've had a very difficult year? With the loss of Flower, it was a miracle that they were able to survive the harsh Kalahari. They'll always be 'in' with me.

Hank Stuever: I loved that show until I couldn't take any more of the false cliffhanging between commercials. Every snake except the one that killed Flower always wound up slithering away, but only after a commercial break. Finally, I just got skeeved out by the meerkats after much devotion. I suddenly realized how awful they are. Squirrels, everyone. Squirrels.


Detroit, Mich.: Curse you for pointing me to Scrabulous. Curse you, curse you, curse you.

Hank Stuever: Scrab on, friend. We're here for you when you need an intervention...


Dallas, Tex.: Thanks for resurrecting both Miles Drentell and the nap (can you resurrect a nap?) Both deserve their spots on The List. But I'm not ready to bow to the persimmon. Perhaps you can enlighten me.

Hank Stuever: I think the persimmons thing came from some interview I was reading with a starlet, Reese Witherspoon, I think, and I went out and ate some and thought hmmmmmm, the List.


Squirrel T-shirts: The one shown here is one of the most popular items sold at this hipster boutique outside of Boston. News and Press Scroll down just a bit for the squirrel playing the drum.

Hank Stuever: See? See?


Washington, D.C.: Ron Paul hype HOT; Ron Paul actual poll results NOT -- or at least it will be by tomorrow night.

Hank Stuever: There you go. That's working for me.


SanTana, Calif.: On a non-Mexican note: are ustedes just getting Vietnamese in the D.C. area? Banh mis are SO 2001 -- at least here in Orange County, Calif.

Hank Stuever: Well, that's one of our favorite tropes in Washington, to go on and on about how behind we are. And we won't do it, the New York Times is always very happy to have one their DC bureau people write something for the Travel or Styles or Food section about how we're suddenly getting just a teensy weensy bit sort of cool. Which is maddening.


Rockvillle, Md.: Is there a correlation between the number of items on the list you don't know and your age? Every year I feel more and more out of the loop - or is it just that you make the list more and more esoteric every year?

Hank Stuever: Well I get older every year and I know for a fact that I have to work harder to write and compile and truth squad The List. If it was really about what I like, people would only be watching "Cops" reruns and trying to get their boyfriends to pop their backs. (And by "pop my back" I mean pop my back.)


Asheville, N.C.: Forefoot striking running shoes are not nearly as in as mid-foot strike shoes...and ChiRunning which tells you how to run with a mid-foot strike and without hurting your knees...but you guys were amazingly close...

Hank Stuever: Thanks! I'll check out the shoe, but I won't start running. I had an item I was working on where I was trying to make "people talking about running a marathon" is OUT ... what's IN?

_______________________ The List


Washington, D.C.: Indiana Jones in? I can see if he was not being played by someone old enough to witness the original internment of the arc of the covenant. Ageist? Sure, but bring on a young, sexy Indy for 2008!

Hank Stuever: I share your concern, but the good news, the movie takes place in 1957, so at least they aren't trying to get us to believe that he's still young and it's still pre-WWII.


Hank Stuever: Brief interlude for some history!

This is essentially the 30th year of Style's in and out List. The first one ran on New Year's Day 1978, written by the late, great Nina Hyde, who was Style's fashion editor, and her assistant Jura Koncius. (Jura now works in the Home section, and claims to have been but a small child in 1978. We'll check the child labor laws back then...)

The next year, there wasn't a List, but there was a page and a half of "Cliches we're tired of from 1978" that looked a whole lot the List to come. The following year, for 1980, Nina had locked into her format, which we still honor. She died in 1990. The fabulous Martha Sherrill (always in, but no longer working at the Post) advanced the cause, followed by others: Cathy Horyn (now at the NYT), then Robin Givhan (you know and love her, yes you do), and even Marc Fisher did it a time or two. I've been at it since 2003.

Here's a blast from the past, dialing back 25 years: The 1983 List, which ran on Dec. 30, 1982. Where were you back then? I was a freshman in high school in Oklahoma -- can't get much more unhip than that...

Producer Rocci, can you please attach the pdf for our (possible) enjoyment?


Kansas City, Mo.: People talking about running a marathon: OUT

People talking about knee and hip replacements: IN


Hank Stuever: That's pretty good! Thanks!


Dane Co, Okla.: Dane Cook was in? When? He's a poor actor, not very believable except in frat-boy parts. His comedy isn't that funny. He just says things that are just beyond the line of funny to the point they aren't. He's that kid in every class that tries too hard to be the class clown that everybody laughs at. Not because he's funny, but because he's not.

But after hearing recent converstaions between his demographic, I tend to think that America is just getting dumber and dumber and that, in fact, to these people, he really is a God because they just aren't that "real-life smart".

Hank Stuever: The Dane Cook pinata explodes! Grab the ... whatever would spill out of a Dana Cook pinata ... entrails!


Washington, D.C.: How about...IN: first-time marathoners going on and on about having "run" one (when they actually walked 50 percent)?

Hank Stuever: hee hee

_______________________ The List (pdf) ( Post, Dec. 30, 198)


North McLean, Va.: Here's the question that all long time readers doubtless have. Is this list getting more obscure with each passing year, or am I just getting really old?

Hank Stuever: Another forlorn response...

Here are some items that I cut. (I usually have about 300 pairs in the first draft, and have to get it down to fewer than 90...)


Three sizes of steak on the menu/Three sizes of wine on the menu

Dog books/Dogs

Ryan Reynolds/Channing Tatum

Urban Outfitters/Garage

'80s clothes/'80s novels

Sending relatives to the Spy Museum/Sending relatives to Madame Tussaud's

"Crazy Sexy Cancer"/"Weeds"


Box stores/"Chain-free" shopping malls

Sundance/Art Basel

Ticketmaster/Live Nation


Condo buildings with orange bricks/Condo buildings painted pink

"Bionic Woman"/couldn't come up with something here -- was considering Elizabeth Edwards as in, but no ...

John Travolta in "Hairspray"/Meryl Streep in "Mama Mia!"


Coral Springs, Fla.: Hi Hank,

I've been a fan of the list since I was old enough to read The Washington Post and me and my family would go over it each and every year and it's great to see that the list is as old as me! My fav entry for this year: Staycations are in! I have been living in South Florida for the past three and a half years and this has to be one of the best places to go on "staycation." Staycations in D.C. rock too and I usually go there when I visit my parents. Fun way to learn about your community and save money. This year's vacation: Key West! Cheers and good luck in 2008!

Hank Stuever: Thanks, Coral Springs!


Berkeley, Calif.: I'm disappointed in the few TV-related ins/outs this year. What gives?

Hank Stuever: I feel like we had a lot! What would have as OUT and IN? Don't say Friday Night Lights or Heroes or anything that would have been on the 2006 or 2007 Lists.


Arlington, Va.: I've always thought a nap was HOT! And must say I was so glad to see that CRYBABY made your in list, being the musical theater queen that I am, however, saddened that THE VISIT starring CHITA RIVERA and GEORGE HEARN did not make it.

Oh well, how about a game of scrabulous?

Hank Stuever: More input...


Indianapolis, Ind.: I was surprised to see any kind of jeans mentioned on your "in" list. Isn't denim strictly for old ladies who play bingo and classless tarts?

Hank Stuever: Not bingo, Bunco! I think jeans are dying a death, and I think that all future movies about the 2000s will always feature a gag about our jeans, in a Real Housewives of Orange County way....


Scrabulo, US: Will you be my Facebook friend so I can play with you? And so my kids can be even more amazed by my page and therefore even more IN...

Hank Stuever: I haven't Scrabbed yet, but I'm going to.


Virginia: Why is REI out? Was it just used to counter Lululemon? I'm not sure about the new place, but REI has always been at the top of my list...their product guarantee is unbeatable, and they do a lot to give back to the community. What gives?

Hank Stuever: REI = Zzzzzzz.

I think Lululemon, though, is a prime candidate for OUTage in 2009. It will fizzle. REI will always have its, um, customer base...


Cleveland, Ohio: OUT: people talking about running marathons

IN: people talking about running the Western States 100 ( Western States Endurance Run ( Wikipedia))

Hank Stuever: That's a good one.


Hank Stuever: Maybe one last question or two ... meanwhile ...

Thanks for the fun chat, everyone. Thanks also to all my sources, all year long, in the newsroom and way, way beyond the newsroom, who come up with fantastic ideas for The List. It's one of my favorite things that I get to do in this job, and it has the added bonus of making a lot of people upset. Wheee!

I wish everyone the very best 2008, free from exploding ARMs and pregnant celebrities and disastrous weather. You're all IN as far as I'm concerned.


Washington, D.C.: OUT: Pirates, ninjas, and zombies (please!)

IN: Prospectors.

Hank Stuever: YES! (This is a reference to There Will Be Blood, and I can't wait for that.)


511: OK. I'm in for a staycation. but I need a house with a pool.

Hank Stuever: Me too.


Placitas, N.M.: Running a marathon is out, but running your age is miles, kilometers, or for the real wimps, minutes...

Speaking of wimps, you are showing so much maturity in finally admitting that hiking the Continental Divide.

Your sister, of course.

Hank Stuever: Hiking the divide is in. Waiting in station wagons for people to hike the divide is out.

_______________________ This concludes today's discussion with Hank Stuever. Thanks for joining in.


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