Best of 2011

This year began with me being bitten in the face by a dog and will end with me staring at a dwindling bank account and vowing to reform my questionable eating and exercise regimen before I suffer a coronary.

Yet, 2011 wasn’t all bad.

The one very good thing I did this year was create this blog.  I had toyed with the idea for some time, but I finally pulled the trigger for reasons I explained in the very first post on the Axis of Ego.

This is the 132nd piece published on this website.  That’s an average of about one new post every two-and-a-half days.  I’m happy the site has been that prolific in generating content during its first year.  Of course, since I was responsible for about 125 of the 132, the observation may be somewhat self-serving.

I present the following list of what I considered to be the best or most noteworthy items from the Axis of Ego in 2011.  A short explanation of each provides the rationale behind its inclusion.  I hope you enjoy one or more of these if you missed them the first time around.  Naturally, my anal-retentiveness compels me to list them in chronological order:

Miley CyrusMiley Cyrus: A Narrative Lyrical Analysis (2/1): This wasn’t even close to the best piece I wrote this year from a pure writing perspective.  It was cute and even funny, but it was simply me absurdly taking the lyrics to “Party in the USA” and converting them into formalized prose.  However, this list wouldn’t be complete without it.  This is the piece that got picked up by “Freshly Pressed” just a few days after the website began, turning the Axis of Ego into the second-fastest growing blog on all of WordPress for a few days.  It also generated — in two days — about one-fourth of the hits this website has earned in its entire history.  It also taught me the valuable lesson early on that there is only a weak correlation between the amount of effort needed for a post and the amount of notoriety that might come with it.  Needless to say, from a popularity standpoint, it was all downhill from there . . .

Fake Religion / Fake Apostate (2/21): This guest piece written by Mike Austin cast a skeptical eye toward the 26-page Paul Haggis exposé penned by Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker.  Specifically, Austin questioned whether Haggis’ defection from Scientology was a courageous stance or merely an expedient one that had little to do with Scientology’s belief system.

Obama, DOMA, and Myopia (2/24): If the Miley Cyrus piece represented a high-water mark for popular success (such as it was), this one was the zenith of critical success (again, to the limited extent allowed by an almost-unknown blog).  I discussed my concerns about the implications of a presidential administration announcing that it would refuse to defend in court an otherwise-valid piece of legislation.  Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic (and now of the Daily Beast) picked it up and linked to it the day it published.  That’s probably the greatest honor I’ve had to date.  Ok, so, maybe it was all downhill from here . . .

Robot History Month: Defending Our Freedoms (4/5): Robot History Month remains my favorite concept I came up with this year (with the “Awkward Moments in Entertainment History” being a close second).  Either you were on-board the RHM train or you wanted no part of it, but I loved it.  This article in the RHM series detailed the thankless tasks performed by military drones.

The Antisocial Network (5/12): In what is intended to be the first in an infrequent series, I looked back at a now-defunct website from the early years of the Internet Era.  Specifically, Justatip.com.  Sadly, the site no longer exists, and people under 25 almost certainly don’t remember it, but this article serves as a nice refresher for those of us who do.

The Artisan (6/29): If you can’t reconcile how someone who seems to be the opposite of a stereotypical wrestling fan in many respects can enjoy sports entertainment, this is a good place to start.

Portrait of a Cereal Killer (7/15): A fun, quasi-travelogue accounting of my horrific eating habits while on vacation in Chicago last summer.  The pictures alone are worth a look here.

An Abridged History of the Super Bowl Post-Game Show (9/8): This also wasn’t one of the better things I wrote from a pure literary standpoint, but I’m including it because of how time-consuming it was to create.  This was my first foray into using the VideoPress upgrade I had purchased for the site.  I was no stranger to video editing, but collecting all of the required clips from my own collection of old football games on DVD took a few days.  Therefore, it makes the year-end article.  If nothing else, it’s interesting to look back at just how primitive Super Bowl post-game shows were just a few decades ago.

No Apology Necessary (9/19): Netflix had a terrible year.  The nadir may have been the apologetic e-mail sent to subscribers apologizing for a slightly higher pricing structure in the future.  That apology was preceded (and followed) by whiny, entitled customers behaving as if they were emotionally and/or physically abused by the good folks at Netflix. My take on the whole mess — which got worse in the months that followed — formed the bulk of this article.

The Axis Of Ego Podcast: Breaking Bad Finale (10/11): Joey Bland stopped by again to talk  Breaking Bad, and we had an engaging, intelligent discussion about the final episode of Season Four.

What Commercials Have Taught Me About Myself (10/19): I really enjoyed putting this together.  This one was a look at how typical commercials depict men — especially husbands.  Spoiler alert: It ain’t pretty.  But at least it’s amusing.

How Things Used to Work (10/25): This was a good one.  I reminisced about the way communication and information used to flow in the days before the rise of the internet and pondered whether it was a net positive or negative.

Escape to New York and The Axis of Ego Podcast: Mick Foley, Survivor Series, and UCBW (11/28 and 12/12): These were the article and subsequent podcast detailing Mike and I traveling to New York for Survivor Series and to meet Mick Foley.  While both of those things were great, an unexpected highlight was the brilliance of UCBW.

Spooky Action at a Distance (12/16): This would be my personal selection for the best thing I wrote all year.  This one is the “writing sample” piece.  I try to reconcile Tim Tebow’s success in the NFL using a framework of quantum physics.  If you only read one of these (or you’re — ahem — a prospective employer!), please read this one.  If you only read two, read this and the DOMA article.

Well, folks, it was a good first year.  I learned a few things along the way, and I hope that I can continue to improve this site and come up with interesting or amusing ideas for content items and podcasts.  As always, thanks for reading.  I sincerely appreciate it when someone takes the time to read a piece I’ve written or listen to a podcast I’ve recorded, especially when that someone is not a relative.  No offense, fam.

If you’re interested in showing your support, feel free to follow me on Twitter or “like” the site on Facebook.

Thanks again, and have a happy New Year.

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6 Responses to Best of 2011

  1. Chad Dreyer says:

    I’m relieved that I read most of these gems, and excited to read the ones I missed. Congratulations on a fantastic first year, and for more commentary on what is sure to be an absurd 2012.

    • Tom Garrett says:

      Thanks a lot, Chad. That means a great deal. And, between the possible apocalypse and a presidential election cycle, 2012 is sure to generate a lot of absurdity worthy of comment. Thanks again. I really do appreciate it.

  2. Kristin says:

    Good recap! But I think your analysis of “Evacuate the Dance Floor” deserves a shout-out, too.
    And I hope the Netflix execs read your commentary about that fiasco. We stood by them, too — I love not having to buy DVDs anymore. We save a lot of money using Netflix–and their customer service is outstanding.

  3. Keith P. says:

    Can’t believe it was only a year ago you were sitting in that lousy little apartment in Dupont Circle, planning this blog’s launch (and also planning an immediate visit to Five Guys). Congratulations. Here’s to Year 2.

    • Tom Garrett says:

      Planning a launch and planning a lunch are never mutually-exclusive when I’m in the mix. Thanks for your help and support this year.

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