I love lists.
Specifically, those end-of-the-year, beginning-of-a-new-one lists. What's in, what's out. What were the biggest stories of last year, what to watch for in the coming one. Which celebs went through which stations of their particular crosses: who married, divorced, got arrested, gave birth, adopted or died.
I love 'em for their found poetry — all these disparate events and people, tossed together simply by accident of the calendar. This is particularly true of news stories, I found, when I asked one of our baltimoresun.com gurus to find which articles on the website got the most hits in 2010.
Most clicked-on doesn't mean most important, of course, and some stories get a big boost because they're linked to other sites or come up on popular searches (say, for long-missing Aruba vacationer Natalee Holloway).
Still, the list provides a snapshot of topical obsessions and how they can swing wildly from one day to the next. Readers clicked on both the serious and the trivial ("Two dead after standoff at Hopkins," "50 Cent Weight Loss for 'Things Fall Apart'"), the national and the local ("Vulnerable Dems seek distance from Obama," "Ravens picks send their stock soaring"), the sad and the heartwarming ("Toddler contracts sexual disease," "City homeless donate $14.64 for quake victims").
Before we get too far into another year of new headlines, I thought I'd turn some of the past year's most-viewed stories into not just found poetry, but, you know, the rhyming kind. Herewith, 2010, for better or verse:
The biggest story, by far, was the snow,
In February, so much more than our usual inch or so.
Crews plowed, neighbors shoveled and still,
Mounds of it clogged Towson to Federal Hill.
The impatient groused as life came to a halt:
Where are the plows, where is the salt?
Til the guv demanded, "Stop already," in a statement,
"With the 'Scrape my street down to the pavement.'"
As usual, crime filled the headlines, a la "The Wire."
Of shootings and other mayhem, readers never tire.
Even as stats show crime on the decline,
It still outrages readers when the victim is canine.
Poor Bear-Bear, the husky shot in a Severn park
By an officer fearing a bite worse than a bark.
While 2010 was a year of elections, here and beyond,
Only one story produced more than a yawn.
A robocall by Julius Henson, he an ol' political brawler,
Hired by Bob Ehrlich the once and, he wished, future gov'nor.
No need to vote, "relax, everything is fine," said some lady.
But Doug Gansler opined, this seems pretty shady.
The other pol to draw clicks was the one-time mayor,
Sheila Dixon, now a convicted embezzler.
She accepted a deal to resign, expressing no rue,
Instead declaring, "Your honor, those things are not true."
Fightin' words, but in truth the ones from this year we prefer
Were those about Baltimore's best facial hair.
"Your 'stache is the jam," chirped the Bieber.
(Justin, of course, my dear reader.)
It was John Waters' lip bling he viewed so merrily
That he drew one on himself, temporarily.