2009 Year in Review

Last year, I enjoyed putting together a post documenting my favorite posts of the year and thought I’d do so again. For you newer readers, this can function as an Unlikely Words primer. This year’s post took a lot longer as I had to go through about 550 posts compared to around 150 last year. What were your favorite posts of the year on Unlikely Words. Let me know in the comments.

2009 was a big year for Unlikely Words. I set a goal at the beginning of the year of increasing daily traffic 5.5 times from where it was during 2008. The year was rounding out well and we were on track to miss the goal by about *this much*. However, thanks to the amazing viral success of the Jersey Shore Nickname Generator daily traffic is set to increase 20 times from where it was in 2008. From a visual perspective, we finally pulled the trigger on a long talked about site redesign. Emdash did a little customization of Derek Punsalan’s Grid Focus theme and incorporated 3 logos designed by Unlikely Words favorite, Chris Piascik.

In 2009, I continued tracking plastic bag bans around the world and reviewing, in 3 sentences or less, all of the media (movies and books) I consumed. There’s a backlog of about 40 reviews that need to be written and/or posted, and I’m trying to think of a creative way to get these out. There were several posts about Michael Lewis and the movie version of ‘Money Ball’, and I remain saddened by the lack of a ‘Liar’s Poker’ movie. I post about Michael Lewis so much because people are interested in what he has to say, but he doesn’t keep a blog to make it easy to find what he’s saying. This applies to Chuck Klosterman, as well.

Sharks made their customary frequent appearances (including this post about a hero shark fighting dog). This spring, I even got an opportunity to interview George Burgess, one of the foremost shark experts in the world. I also had the pleasure of interviewing 2 of my favorite rockers Blake Schwarzenbach of forgetters and Ben Nichols of Lucero, as well as author Davy Rothbart and ‘V’ Creator Kenny Johnson. These conversations were a lot of fun and I hope to interview more folks in 2010 who are equally out of my league. (Though, according to this LinkedIn rejection, everyone is out of my league.)

I, of course, talked a lot about Television this year, including many posts about Mad Men and The Wire. Lost is a show that I don’t LOVE, but end up posting a lot about, mostly because the stuff the fans create is so awesome. You all really seemed to enjoy Everything Tracy Jordan Said Seasons 1, 2, and 3 as well as Everything Don Draper Said Seasons 1, 2, and 3. I was shocked to find out Jericho Reruns Get More Viewers Than Mad Men, but the concept of cell phones killing the sitcom makes sense when you think about it. “24” received more words than it deserved, but I had fun liveblogging it, and will probably (oh, crap) do it again this year.

Some projects I was relatively proud of: The Tiger Woods Mistress Generator, a study on the idea of an official state sandiwch, and then writing to every senator and representative for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts asking their opinion on making the Fluffernutter the Official Sandwich of the Commonwealth. I did an Appreciation of Rickey Henderson on the occasion of his induction to the Hall of Fame, conducted an Unscientific Survey of Books People Love Annoyingly and Books People Hate, compiled 208 Facebook Status Messages from the 24 hours of Obama’s inauguration, created a 10 part Free Barcelona, Spain Travel Guide, and in Marshmallow Peeps On the Internet, I collected practically every single website of note about Marshmallow Peeps. Plus, I answered What a Zombie Looks For in a Woman.

My favorite vandalism of the year, along with my favorite effort by young people, interview by someone else, cat video, urban wildlife sighting, fan made music video, Mad Menspoof, movie posters, Boston music video, character assassination, single serving site about bad art dedicated to Barack Obama, and picture of Smart cars parked sideways.

This is a fake list of Reasons I Gave When Asked, “Why Are You Growing a Mustache Again?” and a real List of Facebook Usernames I Wish I Had Gotten.

Here are a few cultural events that I reviewed: forgetters at Great Scott, Lucero at The Middle East, Ann Coulter vs Bill Maher Debate, Shepard Fairey at the ICA, Al Gore at the Wang Center, Karl Rove vs James Carville, and blogger day at Taza Chocolate.

Did you know that there’s No Apostrophe in “Veterans Day”, You CAN Eat Quinoa during Passover, or anything at all about Patriots’ Day? RCN started a DNS redirect, but here’s How to Opt Out, The New York Times killed itself and the bacon meme at the same time, and Allessandra Stanley Had a Bad Day. James Brown Saved Boston, McLean Stabbed Mingus, Buddy Rich Yelled At His Band, and Susan Boyle knocked it out of the park. David went to the dentist, The Roots watched 2 Girls, 1 Cup, ESPN featured the Konami (Contra) Code, Matt Lauer hit a deer, ON HIS BIKE, and the internet cheered the cultural impact of 1984 (the year, not the book).

Michale Jackson had mad pull at one point, but then, a proposed auction of his stuff turned into an allegory of the economy. (Another allegory of the economy? The Snot Boogie Rules.) Media is changing, “Twitter is a media/marketing vehicle disguised as a social network”, I missed how big of a deal Snuggies would be this year (only four million sold as of the end of January).

In June, my little cat dude, Charlie, died and it about crushed me. If you’ve read this far, you may as well check out that post if you want to read about him. Except for that, 2009 was a great year on Unlikely Words. I hope we have as much fun next year.

2009 Year in Review

Best Books of the Year?

The Omnivoracious blog on Amazon compared their year end top 100 books list, with the New York Times 100 Notable Books and Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2009 to get a composite of the best books of 2009. There were 11 books that were on all 3 lists this year, plus 2 that were not on the Notable 100, but were on other NY Times lists. For what it’s worth, there were 13 last year and 11 in 2007. No women authors made the cut, only 2 novels, and 2 graphic novels.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
Born Round by Frank Bruni
Cheever by Blake Bailey
Columbine by Dave Cullen
Fordlandia by Greg Grandin
The Good Soldiers by David Finkel
The Lost City of Z by David Grann
Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford
Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan (not in NYT’s 100 Notable, but in their best cookbooks list)
The Jazz Loft Project by Sam Stephenson (not in NYT’s 100 Notable, but in their Gift Books list)

Best Books of the Year?