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First, a quick note to Brian MacGregor, winner of this year's "Best of Savannah" cover contest. More of Brian's colorful work can be found at www.brian-macgregor.com

In previous “Best of Savannah” polls we divided up the counting -- so-and-so does this category, while someone else does this one, etc., and then we’d count the votes by hand. This year we figured most of the entries would be online, so I volunteered to tabulate them all and oversee the process.

What we didn’t figure on was the massive amount of people who waited until the very end to vote. Most of those people mailed in their ballots by the April 30 deadline, which means they got into the office after we thought we were finished. There was much high-fiving and “cool!” until we realized someone would have enter that data into the system in order to count it all.

And then there’s the matter of spelling. More on that in a minute.

The online ballots are easy to count -- just leave it to the computer, let it do what it does best. But we still had to enter the handwritten votes. Luckily, News Editor Linda Sickler and our classifieds department (David Dukes, Kelly Stahl, Kim Hudson and Lisa Hill) rolled up their sleeves and started typing like crazy to get all the data entered.

So, having (foolishly?) volunteered to tally up the votes once they were in the system, I started going through the entries and that’s where things got really interesting.

I work with computers every day. Yes, they’re very powerful and useful, but they’re also dumb. Rock dumb.

You see, while a computer can crunch numbers like nobody’s business, it can’t understand that different names can be the same thing. Thus “St. Joseph/Candler” and “St. JosephS/Candler” are different, and counted as different votes. Throw in all the possible ways that a person MIGHT spell Saint, Joseph or Candler and the various combinations of those different spellings, and you see where this went.

This also explains my newfound love for Ben Tucker. Not only is he a great musician, but his name is so easy to spell.

While a bit tedious and taking way longer than I expected, it was fascinating to see all the different possible ways to spell something and the off-beat or jokey answers. Some of you were having way too much fun with this.

First off, Savannahians love to eat, the food categories being consistently top vote-getters. Y’all are also into festivals, care deeply about neighborhoods and churches, where you bank and what you want to listen to on the radio.

The most amusing answers came for “Best Hookup Spot,” which included “Starland Dog park,” “Yahoo Personals,” “My bedroom,” “under the Tybee bridge,” “Stogies bathroom,” “Wild Wing’s bathroom” and my personal favorite, “outside McDonough’s.” Considering that Blaine’s Back Door Bar is around the corner, you wonder if there was star-crossed romance.

There was one entry for “Married 50 Years.” No clue on whether that was pride or despair.

There was also a some distance hating. Any category which involved the Islands or the Southside produced at least one “too far to drive” comment.

Someone thought the Best Bartender should be “The little white girl at Bay St. Blues.” Oh,that one.

Wasabi’s, a sushi restaurant, was voted for Best Mexican, which left me scratching my head for sometime.

For Best Buffet, someone voted for Lady & Sons, because “Wife works there, only one I eat.” Love permeates everything, I guess

For Live Music Venues and Indie Film Venues, several people snarked, “We have those?”

Yellow Cab, besides being a taxi, is also one of the best places to give birth in Savannah. Go figure.

Another oddity was that people, almost to a rule, voted for Best Vet by the name of the center, while any other doctor was referrred to by name. Maybe we all need to get closer to our vet, at least so we will know their name.

Some of the categories probably just caught people off-guard. For instance, for Best Hair Stylist there was a lot of “Amanda at so and so,” which sounds reasonable, until you found out the salon in question has two Amandas. Lucky the winner this year was clear, in both name and number of votes.

For best church, several people commented that “Jesus said not to pick favorites.” Good point and hopefully the big guy will forgive us.

Naturally for Best Conservative and Best Liberal, there were comments of “None” or “They’re evil” or “Wrong.” Nice to see we can all get along

Though we’d all like to see this entry for Best Cop: “The one who gives warnings instead of tickets”.

As for Best Blogger, someone thinks it’s the “the 69 year old man stabbing his 72 year old roommate over a bottle of gin,” which was actually a Blotter item from a few weeks back. Meanwhile another opines that “blogging is bullshit” -- which, if you read blogs, sounds exactly like someone commenting on a blog.

All in all, interesting answers and a few surprises for the winners. Next year though, can someone else count the votes?

Brandon Blatcher is Art Director/Production Manager and occasional ballot counter of Connect Savannah. He can be reached at artdirector@connectsavannah.com

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