The List: Discuss what's in and what's out

Jan 03, 2013

Washington Post writers Dan Zak and Monica Hesse were online Thursday, Jan. 3, at 12 p.m. ET to discuss The List, Style's guide to what's in and what's out in 2013. They welcomed your additions, dissent and clown questions.

Welcome to 2013. Before we start, Monica and I would like to open with a heartfelt message: Last year's List was really, very, irrefutably spot-on. Just clairvoyant to an extreme. We predicted the collapse of Groupon (Groupon / Coupons), the sidelining of Tim Tebow (Tebowing / Hunting the God particle), Jessica Chastain's ascent (rave reviews for "Zero Dark Thirty"), and the explosion of Pinterest. And 11 months in advance we called the election (Drama / Obama) and Kate Middleton's pregnancy (Pippa's bum / Kate's uterus). So we will now receive your glad tidings. Oh wait, some of you seem to be unhappy. Here we go:

I'm fairly sure Hank Stuever isn't terribly interested in passing on his genes, but I think if he was up for fathering children, he'd wish they'd be like you both.

Much like Athena, we sprung fully formed from Hank's head.

While #HTTR is an appropriate IN comment for this football season, Please note that George Clooney is always in, and never shall be out, as long as he does cool things like make movies like "the Decendents", the "Stare at Goats" thing, the one where he is the lead singer of the "Soggy Mountain Boys" and the one where he mikes up and makes Tilda Swinton give up the goods. If he made Transformers movies, then he'd be out in a minute, but he doesn't. And I'm a guy. Dig?

No no. Your brain is not working strenuously or diabolically enough. In order to understand why Clooney is OUT, you must look at who we carefully chose to be IN. That would be Eva Longoria, the newly-minted co-chair of President Obama's Inaugural Committee. Clooney is not OUT based on his acting choices. He is OUT because someone else has unseated him as the most politically active celebvocate-in-chief. Dig?

George Clooney will never, ever, be out. For shame.

See above question. And I agree with you. Clooney will likely never be OUT. He gets good movies made, and does it with style.

I'm bummed that Iberico is out. It hasn't been that long that we could get Spanish ham here in the states. On the other hand, I have always loved country ham, so I'm good with that being in.

If you love ham, there is really nothing to be disappointed about with this item. Additionally, here is a secret: Even when we say something is OUT, it is still technically legal to eat it.

So is that 1600 Penn show starring the guy from Book of Mormon supposed to be any good?

We initially had "1600 Penn" as an "IN" (replacing Veep). A smart television person we know encouraged us to remove that item. Read into that what you will.

The Hollywood Reporter raved about it. That's the only rave I've heard.

What do you think is the most obscure item on the Out List and what is the most well-known item on the In List?

The dining-scene item -- Charleston / Bentonville -- is pretty obscure. We were going to do Ermagherd! / Ermabombeck! -- just for laughs -- but decided that was beyond obscure, and quite nonsensical. We do try to have a bunch of "gettable" items. St. Germain / Sherry is pretty straightforward.

I really, really miss Ermabombeck on the List. I think we all would have been better for it.

OK Cupcake, so if memes are out, what will we chat about during our regular weekely WashPo discussions now???

Seriously, guys, how often do we stay on topic as is? (Hey everyone who's not already a regular -- Come by Wednesdays at 2 for the weekly chat.)

Hasn't Tetherball made the list several times over the years ? It seems real familiar to me and not just cause my friend Gary had a tetherball setup back in the '60's.

It might have made an appearance at some point in the List's 35-year history. Trends ebb and flow. In the first decade or so of the List, red wine and white wine traded places every other year. 

Another item that has been called "OUT" at least a dozen times on the List? Lists.

Your list stinks! /reads it every year

I think...this is...a List form?

How dare you out Costco?

I went to the new one last month. The Joe-Biden one. It took us forever to get to it. We could see it -- shining on a hill -- but couldn't find the access road. We eventually did, after driving halfway to the Beltway on Route 50. The employees are lovely, but I'm always on the verge of a panic attack in there. Plus, there was, like, a $25,000 ring in a display case right when you walk in. The place is confounding.

Who was the greatest List writer?

Good God, man, are you trying to get us killed?


The honest and truthful answer is that every List writer has brought some of their own personality to the Lists they write. Nina Hyde's were probably the most useful -- and therefore maybe the most eagerly anticipated. I think Hank is probably the List-maker we look to most for inspiration and guidance. What Would Hank Do? I ask myself that almost every List day. And sometimes I ask Hank directly.

OUT: YOUR, as in the possessive form of you. IN: YOUR, as in "you are" or "you're", because so many get this wrong, we might as well dumb down the grammar. So now on Twitter, blogs, message boards, etc., "Your a moron" will be a gramatically correct insult.

That's the spirit. If you can't change people's grammar, just change grammar itself.

Why must we be forced to work in the constraints of a binary system? Can it not be that an entity could be a third option? Maybe it is so benign it is neither? Or maybe it it so blindingly hot that it is Inneringly In?

This might be my favorite List chat question ever. You're right about the OUT / IN binary system: It is constraining. Life is about nuance, about gray areas (which we mention even in the intro to the List this year!). But with so much noise in the culture, sometimes it's useful to pare everything down. The purity of The List is its greatest trait. If we were to have two more columns -- say NEITHER or INNERINGLY IN -- well, let's just say that enough people have trouble with just the OUT and the IN.

Do convection cooktops need a downdraft?

I don't know, but now I want to write a screenplay called "Downdraft," starring Kurt Russell as a retired firefighter with Alzheimer's who always feels a chill in his nursing home dining area.

* Costarring Tommy Lee Jones.

I've never understood why he is considered so hot. He's an overage Peter Pan who won't settle and he doesn't even look that good (and I don't think Brad Pitt is worth the drooling over either.)

I was with you for the Clooney screed. I cannot get behind your Brad Pitt blindness.

Clooney throws his weight behind projects of substance. He is a decent actor and a better producer. Plus, he has the right attitude about being a celebrity and operating within the Hollywood bubble.

Dan said: " It took us forever to get to it. We could see it -- shining on a hill -- but couldn't find the access road. We eventually did, after driving halfway to the Beltway on Route 50. The employees are lovely, but I'm always on the verge of a panic attack in there. Plus, there was, like, a $25,000 ring in a display case right when you walk in. The place is confounding." Is it the vodka speaking or is that sarcasm?

As someone who knows Dan well, I can affirm that that is Dan speaking.

Monica: This word is very, very Out.

Nuh-uh. Because I just used it. (So did the OP, which is why I repeated it. Ironically. Must I explain all of my jokes to you?)

Her Royal Fetus vs. Kimye's future spawn: Who wins in this playground brawl? (Blue Ivy will be above it all, of course.) Also, Dan Zak, you are my hero, and I would like to be friends with you.

I don't know what Kimye is and I don't care to find out. (I do know, but I want to pretend I don't; we shan't talk about It.)

The last and only heroic thing I did was scrub a pesky vodka stain out of a leather ottoman that didn't belong to me. It took four hours, and I had help, but by God I did it.

I will be friends with you. What do you like to do for fun?

What is the most low hanging fruit on the list?

It should be different for everybody, if we've done our jobs right. Some of the fruit has already fallen off the tree and is lying on the ground, mouldering.

Notice how Monica uses the British spelling of "moldering."

Take it one step further and include the common misspellings of moron... "moran", "moroon", etc.

Just once I would like someone to call me a maroon on a day when I'm wearing a festive new shade of lipstick.

(I am communing with Her Royal Fetus. Or Foetus, as the case may be.)

I was reading Snow White to my daughter, and what sort of prince would kiss a corpse on the lips with the hope of re-animating her?

A necrophiliac prince? Or Prince?

Lists of In and Out shall never be Out. By definition, if someone ever lists that Lists of Ins and Outs are Out, that is a List of Outs and thus the Lists remain In.

You, dearest chatter, are a genius. We will employ this adage against every critic.

people get so worked up about The List? I mean, it's funny and a sort of humor I think either you get or don't. But, some people have such fiery hatred for it. Good to see Hank on the Mockumentary...miss reading him!

He'll be back soon!

People take the List very personally. I think a lot of the "This List is stupid" emails that we get are actually saying, "This List makes me feel stupid, because I don't understand or agree with some of the items."


The secret is that you're not supposed to get some of the items. You're supposed to look them up, think about them, digest them. And -then- you're supposed to write us an email saying how dumb we are.

Can we add some really obnoxious hipster-type culinary items to the Out list along with Iberico ham? Like Kale (I love me some kale, but seriously, EVERY restaurant needs a kale salad?) and the idiotic word 'foodie'? Blech. Even Sietsema has pretty much banned that one.

On our list of discarded items was Kale chips being OUT. But we couldn't find a good IN. Any suggestions? Also, foodies are insufferable. You're canning? You've got a terrifying "mother" Kombucha blob in your basement? Great. Get away from me.

Sorry Monica, but Dan is my new favorite Post person because of this statement. Dan, can you please join Monica's weekly chats? XOXO.

Fear not, I shall win you back over on Wednesday.

I had never heard of Buress, but he reminds me a lot of Mitch Hedberg. As a fan of pickle juice (of COURSE you'd never throw it out, silly people), the concept of flicking it on sandwiches for flavor is fabulous. BTW, I've decided that asking questions in a Q&A is out, so, um, like, uh, yeah.

Buress was also a cameo master, as well as a writer, on "30 Rock." We think he does weary-man-in-contemporary-America with more verve than Louis CK, who lost our affection when he accepted his Emmys in September with grace and humility instead of with a satirical bow-and-arrow drawn at Hollywood.

I have nothing to add other than that whenever we were despairing over the state of the List this year, Dan and I would immediately re-watch the pickle juice routine, sometimes followed by the Beast Jesus skit on SNL.

Looked waayyyy better when he was younger. George Clooney is at least still attractive.

George Clooney looks like my dad. So I find the whole attraction rather creepy. (Yes. My dad is married. Back off, beasties).

THIS IS THE FIRST I'VE HEARD OF THIS. I'm getting Monica to show me a pic right now.

1) Mr. Zak, I have it on good authority many, many people are hurt by your Costco listing. Maybe, if you had gone with an experienced Costco shopper, you would have had a better experience. 2) Mason Jars have been around a long time and are great alternatives to simple glassware - without them, we would have no jams, jellies, or moonshine... how can the goblets of moonshine every be out?

1) The phrase "experienced Costco shopper" is frightening.

2) True. But every restaurant has them now. Over it. (You know what I'm kinda wishing we'd say was IN instead of growlers? Sippy cups. I'd like sippy cups in every restaurant.)

Exactly how does one go about taking someone/something to Chinatown?

It's on the green/red/yellow line. One stop after Metro Center.

Wait one sec. I'm going to find an indignant chatter on which to perform this act...

What's out: trying too hard (e.g., continuing to publish an annual in/out list filled with we're-cooler-than-you ephemera)

And yet here you are, allotting precious minutes of your life to shooting a spitball at us. Lay down your sword of irritability and join us in the verdant fields of Listdom.

While Hannibal Buress is undeniably amazing (and at The Hamilton in Feb!), Louis CK is still at the top of his game. Couldn't you have found another comedian to take his space as OUT? On the other hand adding "Discovering Saga" got big ups from me. LOVE that book. Insanely great.

The top of your game is often, sadly, precisely when you are OUT on our list. 

The person who left the comment about as long as there are cats, there are memes, attributed to Thomas Paine? I have totally stolen that. I just wanted him or her to know. ~Thomas Paine

Correction: This is now my favorite List chat contribution.

The chat is young, Dan. Plenty of time for this one to be unseated.

I for one do not want to live in a listless world. What was the item in the list that caused the most fighting/arm-wrestling/discussion in a mature fashion between you two?

We originally had an item on our list that placed RGIII as OUT (Kurt Cousins: IN). We took turns talking ourselves in and out of that item for two weeks straight before finally deleting it and liberating ourselves from the anguish.


There are some items on the List that I know Dan allowed me to keep in only because he likes me, but I won't tell you what they are. (Guess!)

It pains that we have Bilbo Baggins IN. I dislike hobbits. But Monica convinced me that the aural combination of Honey Boo Boo / Bilbo Baggins was irresistable. I think one of my friends came up with that one though. The dark secret of the List: All the items come from coworkers and friends who are sharper than us.

I'm not sure what would replace these items but agree/disagree that the following hot 2012 items are on their way out: GIFs, Public shaming of idiots/bigots on Twitter, Beard Rock (Mumford Sons, Avett Brothers, etc). Also, I'm glad I missed the whole Meggings trend and stuck with pants throughout 2012.

We were way early on calling GIFs OUT. We called them out two Lists ago, and they really hit big this year. Oops we're geniuses?

OUT: Me :(

I love you.

Weak, Dan. Weak.

I'm still trying to learn how to play Munchkin

I kind of don't want to Google "Munchkin" because I'm afraid of what it might be.

I'm kind of Googling Munchkin right now.

...anything "..... cliff" in.

IN: Cliff Huxtable.

But only in the right sweaters.

shaved heads and long hair - there is like no in between anymore. Whats in and what's out?

Interesting observation. Guys (myself included) are really overdoing the long-on-top, short-on-the-sides look; I suppose we're trying to have the best of both worlds?

Monica, were you wearing glasses in your old picture? I feel like something's missing in your new photo. You look gorgeous, by the way.

Monica is normally gorgeous, but she has an extra glow because she's fresh off a book leave, during which she was busy preparing to be The Next Big Thing in young-adult fiction. She might even make the List herself next year.

My old picture is, and has been for quite some time, a hideous representation that is not at all what I look like. Normally this doesn't bother me, because I like getting emails that say, "You look like a Keebler Elf, Elf Girl," but since Dan looks so dashing, I thought I would actually provide a non-horrendous image.

What has been your favorite In/Out combo of all time?

When we were going over old List in preparation for this year, we came across one Marc Fisher did in the mid 1990s.  OUT: Touched by an Angel. IN: Touched by Michael Jackson.


I don't think it's the best item ever, but it did make me burst out laughing unexpectedly.


It's really impossible to answer. Different items gain or lost resonance depending on what else is happening in the world. During Dan's and my reign, there is a special place in my heart for OUT: Inception IN: The fourth hour of the Today show. 


If you don't get it, it's completely stupid. If you do get it, it's brilliantly hilarious.


Fisher also had an amazing final item on his his 1998 List:

/ Alzheimer's disease.

It had no OUT, purposefully! Very rebellious and controversial. I'll keep thinking. Y'all can plumb the archives by clicking on the drop-down menu on the List page. Let us know your all-time faves.

as long as you never stopped using it.

Say it with conviction, my brother.

He's like a poor woman's Jayson Werth.

Oh snap. By the way, Werth was IN on The List two years ago. More evidence that we're clairvoyant to a fault.

Paul Ryan was a fan of hand-fishing. Is this more Lamestream Media political bias?

I did not know Paul Ryan was a fan of hand-fishing. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to unintentionally support your distrust of the media.

is one zip code away from a mullet.

Is it? Or is it, like, 15 to 20 zip codes away?

It's in a different time zone, really. And there is no party, in the front or the back, affiliated with this haircut.

This has been in for a while. So much fun.

IN for you, maybe. Not IN for America. Get ready for some filthy fun, fellow citizens. You'll all be playing it by April.

Food Depot made the WaPo list of what's in. It's only located in Baltimore. Is it worth the trip from northern Va?

It better be. It's on The List for Pete's sake.

No! How else will I feel superior to complete strangers if you dumb down grammar?

Do an annual OUT/IN List.

Navel - Not a typo? I must be 'out'.

Not a typo! Click on the clink!

I wish the list had included links or descriptions of all the pop culture stuff that I no longer know. Also, George Clooney will never be out.

Are you kidding me? The online version of the List has links to practically every single item, which I know because Dan and I inserted them all with our own exhausted fingers. If there is an item that is not linked, and which you do not understand the reference to, please send me your address so that I may drive to your house with a printed out dossier explaining the IN-ness of said item. I will do that. I am that dedicated to your understanding. 

So are innie bellybuttons in or out? What about outies? Apologies if you have addressed this critical issue in the past?

We have. Innies are always IN. Outties are always OUT.

I get that you think that Longoria is now celeb campaigner in chief, but that's just crazy talk. She may be more active, but she's a B-lister at best. It doesn't get much more A-list than Clooney; A+, actually.

The celebvocate spectrum is entirely different than the fame spectrum. They inform each other a very minimal amount. People. This is Celebritology 101. 

You sing the praises of the accuracy of last year's List (well done); what item(s) on this year's list are you most nervous about being off the mark? Has the list ever been dead wrong before? P.S. The ring at the DC Costco is $125,00, not $25,000.

That ring! I mean who?! I mean what!? I can't process it and I'm breaking out in hives.

After offending all of Tumblr by calling Joseph Gordon-Levitt OUT, I am really hoping that Scoot McNairy has a good year.

It's impossible to tell if any List is dead-wrong, because any item may be proven true years down the line.

We err on the side of belligerantly insisting we are right, even in the face of impossible odds.

I think the reason for such impassioned reactions isn't just "this List makes me feel stupid," it's "this List makes me feel old." The List makes us feel un-with-it. And it makes even 23-year-olds feel that way. Or at least I imagine it does, since I am personally way, way on the other side of 23. Now you kids get off of my lawn.

But we like running through your sprinklers.

Santa brought me a Lytro for Christmas. I'm very excited to be "in". And the camera is pretty darn cool too.

I am so happy for you! For both reasons!

I bet you guys collect a lot of OUTs from Heim.

Actually, we furnish half of our OUT column by just observing Joe operate in his day-today life. (Hey, who remembers when Heim and I were two-thirds of The Three Wise Guys? I was in my early 20s then.)

I'm sorry, but you don't have a link to "unripened green," just for starters. Monica, I'll be waiting in the driveway so you don't have to get out of your car.

 It's obvious that "unripened green" is a color, right? I mean, we're not talking "states of apple ripeness."

Google "emerald" and "Pantone." There. Happy?

The New York Times Magazine has The Meh List every week with a bunch of items in that dull IN/OUT middle ground--eg, Office Secret Santa, unsalted peanuts.

If we had to add another column to our List, it would be titled MEH, and it would be filled, every year, with only The New York Times. I now await a call from our Personnel office instructing me to be more cordial to our competitiors. Did we mention that anything we type in this chat is not technically endorsed by The Washington Post?

Dan loves all forms of all media, everywhere. Also, I have never met Dan, I do not know him, and I will disavow him if asked.

Monica, my dear, if you show up with a bottle of red wine and a riding crop -- oh wait, that's probably out, too.

We already told you. Fifty Shades of Grey was 2012. Everyone needs new kinks for 2013.

When was it popular to hoard like it was the apocalypse among a crowd of overweight people in sweatpants?

It was very in for two groups of people. The first, which you described, and the second, which shopped there ironically.


Also, everyone from the Midwest, where I am from. Decent, attractive people who just want to buy 64 rolls of toilet paper at once.

Mullets, Mohawks, Soul patches, Van Dykes. Has there ever truly been an IN for men's hair?

The Jesse Katsopolis is always IN. Very Wham!-y.

But since you've mentioned Hank, next time you see him, can you ask (beg?) him to do a follow-up on Christmas in Frisco? I just read Tinsel over the holidays and found myself worrying about the people he talked to as if they were lost relatives.

Hank has been gone for a long time, on leave in Montana, teaching journalism to the youths (read his blog for a recap). But he promises us that he'll be back in the newsroom by the end of the month. Speaking of Tinsel, y'all should read.

My Ex - Still Out, or can he be recycled back to the In column?

Well, "getting back together" is IN, but your ex is kind of lame, right? Forget him.

Monica's new picture definitely in. Whoever took the old one clearly didn't like you can gave you bad lighting.

Wait til you see this photo of us and Bieber. Now if I can only figure out how to attach it...

out Kony 2012, In KONY 2013? Or is there another despot we can rally against?

We did have a conversation about including Joseph Kony on one of our polls, but went with Pink Slime instead. (Insert obvious joke about pink slime being an improvement over Joseph Kony in every way).

We actually wanted to include "Texts from Hillary" instead of "Pink slime," but pulled that item because we weren't sure what was going on with her brain.

Monica - Wasn't grammar a thread on your last 2012 chat? I also remember an argument over "Just Deserts" (yes, it is spelled correctly with one 's')

I enjoy a good grammar thread as much as the next fun-loving girl.

Out - buying toys for poor children In - sending toys to well-off children who went through a ver traumatic event, but toys won't help them get over the deaths of their friends and teachers And, yes, I am embarassed that it is true. I think the reports were that 60,000 toys were sent to Sandy Hook.

Dan wrote an article on this very topic.

And what happens if you're wrong? Do you ever go back and say "I was wrong, mullets are still in somehow" or something l like that?

We know what's going to be IN by emailing every smart person we have ever met, by harassing all of the cool people we know, by reading every magazine in Barnes & Noble, and by having deep, prolonged discussions about the matters of the universe. 


As I mentioned before, we are never wrong.

I never got on the tofu train, but I've been eating bugs (albeit whilst aslumber) for years. What sort of condiments should I use for a better experience? Thanks for your help, A Curly Haired Astorian

Artisinal DDT.

Oh, whoops! Sorry--I read the online version, but it was just a list with no links. Will go back and look--clearly, I missed something.

The items that are bold have links (A good 80% of the items are bold).

Yes, but Jen has left the Post, so there's nobody to provide a basic Celebritology education.

This is true. Sigh.

A friend posted a link to the List on Facebook. So hopefully you'll go viral (is that phrase In or Out?).

"Viral" is not as OUT as "innovate" or "disrupt."

Also: Is your friend George Clooney? Because that is probably the only way The List will go truly viral.

I stand by my Clooney > Longoria statement. I work for the USG, and I can tell you without a second's hesitation who would get more staff trading in favors like Kleenex in order to sit in on the meeting/hearing/event/whathaveyou.

Understood. Did we ever tell you about the time Brad Pitt visited the newsroom? It was an unseemly display of squeeness by some very hardened journalists.

We were very professional. (I stood behind him in the elevator and touched his sleeve).

Thank you for including CAH. I bought them for my brother-in-law for Christmas. Even though I hadn’t heard of them prior to his request, seeing CAH on the IN list made me feel tangentially associated with cool, which is the closest we’ve been in years.

You are welcome.

A dear friend of mine and decided that if Mayans are decidedly OUT, then this ushers IN an era of Mermania (and I ain't talkin' about manfish).

2013: This time, for MEEEEEEEE.

Why is that chain the go-to for membership club store references? No love for BJ's? There is always Sam's Club too. Or does that get into a Walmart/Tar-jay thing?

Look, we can't re-invent the way things are. We just comment on what we see.

In - The Emancipation Proclamation

I feel like some hyper-conservative-media operative is setting us up with this one.

Nah. It's just Daniel Day Lewis's publicist again. (We get it. Your boy will get an Oscar.)

... is always OUT.


Can you please put "Doing things to be Ironic" on the outlist. Is there a more pointless and embarrassing reason to do anything? And I'm getting tired of people thinking I'm bring ironic when I'm not or think I'm wearing ironic t-shirts. when they're just regular t-shirts to me.

It's so out that we don't even need to say its out. Obviously.

But is Monica being ironic with her answer?

But I think bourbon would be fine.

I prefer to drink my bourbon from a hollowed-out gourd.

We're wrapping up (with one more note from Monica forthcoming), but here is us "with" Bieber. May this image carry you through 2013. DZ, MH & JB

Thank you for joining both of us in this highly informed forum. Want more of us? No? Too bad.

Dan and Monica are both on Twitter, and we also co-run Style's Tumblr.


Or, to berate us in person, come to the Newseum this Saturday at 2:30, when we'll be chatting live about the List.


And then we're done. Until next year. 

In This Chat
Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

Read the The Web Hostess Archive .
Dan Zak
Dan Zak is a general assignment reporter based in the Style section. Previous assignments include Seattle for the 2010 mid-term elections, Louisiana and Mississippi for the BP oil leak, Sunset Boulevard for the Vanity Fair Oscar party, Iraq for the final months of the U.S. military presence, the White House for official and casual pageantry, profiles of the famous and non-famous, and rural Virginia, exurban Maryland and non-federal Washington for the odd feature story. Previously covered southern Maryland for the Metro section and co-bylined the Three Wise Guys humor column. Joined the Post in 2005, after stints as an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a city-desk reporter and obituary writer at The Buffalo News. Born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y.
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