2017 was a terrific year for the Clearing out the Clutter staff (the current erosion of democracy notwithstanding.) We continue to look for new stories to tell, and we are grateful as always for those of you who take the time to stop by and hang out with us. Clutter had visitors from all 50 states and 80 other countries this year. Some came by for the news, some were Doctor Who fans, others wanted to talk about the Boston Red Sox, mental health, or other subjects, and everyone enjoyed the coffee!
As 2017 winds down, we debated whether or not to publish a "best of" list this year. It's hard, because there are so many articles we'd like to highlight, it would take you until the end of 2017 to finish reading them. The final decision was to highlight a handful of posts which we were pleased about and that give a representative sample of the year in review for Clearing out the Clutter:
This story was written for an audience of one, namely, yours truly, but there was also a larger message. Being faced with the removal of the adored tree, based on a demonstrably false premise, was devastating, and it felt like the world once again telling me what I could go do with myself. Fortunately, my advocacy skills haven't completely disappeared, and I eventually convinced the powers-that-be to change their minds. You have to fight for those you care about, otherwise, what are we doing here?
They did still prune it back more than I expected, and it's made a noticeable change at Clutter Headquarters. However, a skinnier tree beats no tree every time. For once, when I asked the world for a miracle and for it to demonstrate that it's not as cold and mean of a place as it sometimes seems, the world delivered.
Writing book reviews was a real highlight of 2017, and we couldn't pass up the chance to read an explanation of how trees are social creatures who have a lot going on even when it looks like they're just standing still. Our respect for, and love of, the Clutter Tree grew even more after this fascinating book.
Before the awfulness of the Trump administration hit its stride, we offered this tongue-in-cheek strategy for how the Great Pumpkin could turn things around. It's scripted like something out of Monday Night Raw, which we thought Trump would appreciate, given that he's a WWE Hall of Famer. However, it's too late for this plan to save him now, so he needs to be sent packing. We'll hold on to this post in case we ever apply for a job with the WWE.
Noel Monk's, Runnin' With The Devil: A Backstage Pass To The Wild Times, Loud Rock, And The Down And Dirty Truth Behind The Making Of Van Halen, was named one of Rolling Stone's best music books of 2017. It's a behind-the-scenes peak at the early years of one of the all time great rock bands. Of course we had to review it! That post was so popular, we were then able to follow up with an interview with the former Van Halen manager. Monk could not have been more generous with his time, and as you'll see in the interview, he was not shy about sharing his opinions about the band!
Chris Cornell's death was one of the great losses in music this year, and the fact that he committed suicide hit close to home. This was one of the most difficult posts to write this year. I couldn't stop wondering what had been going through Cornell's head while he was on stage for the last time, which felt a little ghoulish. When I sat down to write it out, each paragraph felt like a jungle I had to fight my way through to figure out where I was going. Once it was posted, the response was overwhelming, as Soundgarden fans also shared their grief.
Another uncomfortable post. The argument that the judicial system is inherently incapable of dealing with suicide cases generated more passionate debate than anything else we posted this year. It's doubtful that any views were changed, but it was a thoughtful and respectful conversation.
I've always loved reading TV recaps of my favorite shows, and this was the year that we decided Clutter should join the fun and review Season 10 of Doctor Who. We tried to make the recaps similar to a bonus commentary track on a DVD. It's not so much a play-by-play of the entire episode, as much as pointing out interesting features here and there and asking questions about where the story leads. There's one more recap to write, once the Christmas Special airs, and then sadly, we've apparently got about a year to wait until Season 11 begins with new star Jodie Whittaker. However, you can be sure the recaps will resume!
Speaking of the new Doctor...
One of the bigger surprises this year was the news that the next star of Doctor Who will be a woman. Some would argue it's long overdue. We're excited about the new approach, and the second half of this article stands as our rebuttal to the trolls who have worked themselves into a lather about the Doctor becoming female. As we wrote in this post, if you're that angry about it, you've missed the point of the show, so don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Just a short reminder for those of us who hate change that there's nothing we can do to stop it, so perhaps we shouldn't waste to much time and energy being anxious about it. (Something which is admittedly still a work in progress here.) Perhaps the previously-mentioned Doctor Who "fans" should also take a look at this.
An awkward trip to the local Dunkin' lead to this funny exchange. Abbott and Costello would be pleased.
I'm nothing if not a huge Boston Red Sox fan, but the winner was the last thing on my mind when Dad Clutter and I went to a Red S0x - Houston Astros playoff game in October. (Of course, it didn't hurt that the Sox ended up winning.)
12) My Birthday List
If memory serves us correctly, this post was inspired by several Monty Python skits, and it includes a wonderful meltdown at the end.
That's the list!
On behalf of the staff, thank you all again for your time and support. Here's to more stories in 2018!
The brains behind this operation. (pic via Clearing out the Clutter)