The Cele Garrett Award


Named in honor of a cuester who caused a mail loop that sent about 250 messages to each subscriber, the Cele Garrett Award honors cue-l users who inadvertently send personal messages over cue-l, turn on their e-mail reply function or otherwise make technical (or tasteless) errors over the Internet. This page was last updated May 2010.

Winners of the Grand Gold Cele Award
Best Blooper of the Year

1999 Jeff Lott, Swarthmore College
2000 Jo Parris, Idaho State University
2001 Cait Anastis, Kent State University
2002 Mark Davis, UCLA
2003 Lyra Halprin, University of California, Davis
2004 Paul Pegher, Denison University
2005 Ed Cohen, Notre Dame University
2006 Tom Columbus, University of Dayton
2007 Nancy Bartosek, Texas Christian University
2008 Mansi Bhatia, San Jose State University
2009 Lynne Bonenberger, Ohio State University


The real Cele Garrett holds the Grand Gold Cele Garrett Award at the 2001 CASE Editors' Forum held March 14-16 in Washington D.C.

For more Cele-foolery, please see Steven Ricci's The Celexicon.

The Cele Garrett Award--A Brief History

CUE-L was originally, back in the dark ages when Beth Grubb was still an editor, Chuck Luce still lived in Connecticut, and editors forums only attracted 30 people.

Cuesters clamored for a digest feature. "We want our CUE," they said, "but we only want it once a day. Kinda like vitamins."

Despite having "technological" as our middle name here at Michigan Technological University, we did not have a digest function activated on our mailing software (that being majordomo, which I've always thought would be a great title for a list owner: Majordomo Woodbeck here.).

Enter Bob Fisher, former editor at Lehigh, who checked with ListProc, MajorDomo's cousin in Bethlehem (PA, not Judea). ListProc software DID have a digest feature and NEW and IMPROVED! archival functions. And, Lehigh didn't care (or Bob didn't tell them) that this list owner would be more than 1,000 miles away in the wilds of Michigan's scenic and snowy Upper Peninsula. Although claiming it was a coincidence, Bob left Lehigh soon thereafter and is rumored to have started a quotation-generating business, called "Quick Quips" with Duke's Sam Hull.

So now CUE has a winter home in PA and a summer home in MI and mail is received at both. Soon thereafter, CUEFuhrer Woodbeck closes down the MTU list, telling stragglers to enlist at Lehigh or Else! Or so he thought.

Enter one Cele Garrett, who innocently leaves her post at PBS for, undoubtedly, a well-deserved vacation. She ingeniously sets up her e-mail package to automatically respond to messages she receives, so Ken Burns will know why she doesn't answer his e-mail immediately.

Unfortunately, Cele's accomplice (we believe his name is Timothy McVeigh, but our lawyers are still in Denver) sends a message to CUE's old address at and that list -- dormant these many months -- comes to life. McVeigh's (or HIS accomplice) message goes to distributes the message to the old CUE list, including many longtime subscribers and Ms. Garrett. Her e-mail package doesn't know it isn't Ken Burns calling and sends out her "I'm on vacation" message. THAT message goes to CUE. Cuesters receive it, including Ms. Garrett. Her computer again tells us she is on vacation. Which goes to the CUE list. ETc. Etc. Etc.

What we have here is, what us old-timers used to call an Endless DO-loop. Message begets message begets message begets message. It is more confusing than an Old Testament lineage.

Hundreds of messages pile up in CUEsters' mailboxes while they (and the list manager) sleep.

Just as with the Whos in Whoville, the CUEsters raise their collective voices: MAKE IT STOP....MAKE IT STOP.....WE ARE HERE....WE ARE HERE.

And that, as they say, is the rest of the story. Or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

Dean Woodbeck, Michigan Tech University


Original E-Mails Creating the Cele Garrett Award

Sent: Friday, October 17, 1997 12:09 PM
To: College & University Editors

Some of you may remember the old days when CUE was located at Michigan Tech ( It has been more than a year since we moved. But, I left the address intact in case people sent mail there inadvertantly. It was my understanding that any mail to would simply come to me.

Bad assumption.

Some of you may have had the good fortune to participate in an endless loop on Someone at activated an auto-respond message. You know, one of those "I'm out of the office" things (I detest them). So, someone mailed to and the message bounced from an old address. The autoresponder responded. That message bounced. The autoresponder responded. Etc, etc, etc.

Took one of our computing folks all morning to restore my mailbox after literally thousands of messages.

My apologies to those of you that this affected. This IS NOT related to the "real" cue-l address:

Please do not mail to Well, actually, you won't be able to, because we're nuking the old address.

On the good side, I did go golfing at lunch and shot a 39...


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 15:12:08 -0700 (PDT)
From: Thomas Griffin <>
To: College & University Editors <cue-l@Lehigh.EDU>
Subject: Re: CUE bounces--The Cele Garrett Award

Dear Cuesters,

We cannot let this moment in cue history pass without some way of commemorating its momentous impact on our e-mail accounts. Therefore, I propose that we arbitrarily and unofficially award, on a periodic basis, the Cele Garrett Award to honor harmless blunders in cue that bring a smile.

For example, we could honor cuesters who send personal e-mail to the whole list (Terry Maurer--are you listening?).

Or we could honor cuesters who turn on their mail acknowledgement program and bombard us with messages that, yes indeed, Mary Beth Reynolds of the University of Swiash actually did receive a cue-l message.

Or we could give the award to outrageous flame artists who cause hundreds of readers to unsubscribe due to the content of their posts (such as when Bill Cannon suggested duplicating a mug shot of Rush Limbaugh with a naked man and a cigar...)

I think we should have two winners for the first Cele Garrett Award: Chris Nordfors at Seattle U for sending e-mail to the old cue-l address and--of course--Cele Garrett of PBS for being such an idiot with her automatic "I'm on vacation" message (how many other lists will she screw up before she gets back in mid-November???).

Tom Griffin
Columns Magazine
University of Washington


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 15:27:14 -0700 (PDT)
From: Beth M. Grubb <>
Reply-To: cue-l@Lehigh.EDU
To: College & University Editors <cue-l@Lehigh.EDU>
Subject: Re: CUE bounces--The Cele Garrett Award

> and of course--Cele Garrett of PBS for being such an idiot with her automatic
> "I'm on vacation" message (how many other lists will she screw up before
> she gets back in mid-November???).

Great idea, Tom. Cele Garrett will become known as the Typhoid Mary of the Internet. Poor girl. Hope she's having a nice vacation. Won't she be surprised when she gets back and discovers she's become an icon?


Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 15:33:35 -0700
From: Chris Nordfors
Organization: Seattle University Publications
Subject: Re: CUE bounces--The Cele Garrett Award

Thanks, Tom . . . I'm touched.

I'd like to thank all the people alaong the way who have made this award possible: My co-conspirator, Cele Garrett, and the fine folks at PBS; Beth Grubb, without whom I would never have experienced the joy that is cue-l; all the little people in campus IS departments across the country; and of course, my parents, who taught me to fear technology.

Hi, Mom!

Chris Nordfors
Seattle University

Explanation from Cele Garrett Herself
on the Award and What Happened

To all cuesters,

Cele Garrett is alive and well and living in Washington D.C. I have prodded our most famous former cue-l member to recount her version of the infamous mail loop. If you missed Dean Woodbeck's explanation, several years ago a mail loop put more than 250 messages into each cue-l subscriber's box, causing havoc with the list. To commemorate the meltdown, we established the Cele Garrett Award given to those on the list who make an Internet faux pas. But we never knew what happened to Cele. I tracked her down at the development office at PBS. Here is her version of the events in response to my initial query--Tom Griffin


I'm thinking I may know the source of my "renown." (Tell me if I've got it right.) A few years back I subscribed to a listserv (something like cue-list?). I unsubscribed after about 6 months. Then, awhile later, I took 3 months off for maternity leave (and of course had an auto-reply). When I came back there were a million messages flooding my email from cue-list with my auto-reply each time, along with a very nasty message from PBS's system admin. How my name made it back onto that list, I'll never know but I wasn't too popular, I'm sure. The only thing I could think of is that the listserv "crashed" or something and the person overseeing it used an old list of email to rebuild it and my name was on it. (sigh........)


I informed Cele of her fame--including her award and even e-mailed a scan of the statue. This is her response to the news.


Okay, okay--I have a sense of humor like everyone else but, once again, I feel compelled to defend myself by saying I SIGNED OFF ON THAT LIST MONTHS BEFORE GOING OUT ON MATERNITY LEAVE!!!! I don't want to be classified as your typical clueless email user but I guess it doesn't matter now--my name is already tarnished!! It was interesting to read your explanation of how the old list get revived that one time. I knew it was my auto-reply message that caused the problem but I couldn't figure out how I got put back on the old list. And now you tell me this incident has lived on two years later. So, as far as ever getting hired for a university writing position, I am left with a feeling akin to "I'll never work in this town again!" At any rate, glad to have lent my *good* name for ridicule and the statue is lovely. Considering going into the witness protection program, I remain sincerely yours,

Cele Garrett

BTW, my nickname Cele is pronounced "seal" (like the animal); it's short for Cecile.

Cele Update, April 2009
Kim Link-Wells from Georgia Tech University reports that Cele Garrett is still alive and well:

Here's the scoop. Cele is working in PR for a company called Whitecoat Strategies. She was with a group putting on a "biotech boot camp for journalists" here in Atlanta last week. Her co-workers were quite shocked to hear an award was named for her and demanded explanation. She reluctantly told the story, including her appearance in Washington, where I believe she's still based. Her mouth fell open when I told her the award now sported Mardi Gras beads and had recently made a trip to San Francisco. She said, "I can't believe they're still doing that." Cele's colleague turned to her and said, "I can't believe you never told me about this." The Cele sighting was the most exciting part of boot camp.