'Tis the seasonthe season for obsessive types to try to boil down an entire year into a laundry list of memorable people, events, experiences and works of art. Here's our Top 10 Top 10 lists from Scene employees and friends.
Ten Reasons to Be Cheerful in 2004
1. Fattoush on Charlotte Avenue, next to the Jiffy Lube, which recently opened. Cops, stock brokers and contruction workers alike have discovered this fresh, wonderful and reasonably priced Mediterranean food. The real estate ain't premium, but the kibble is.
2. The Dogs of Babel, a first novel by Carolyn Parkhurst, is built on one of the most interesting fictional conceits I've seen in a while. This book, published in 2003 (my reading list is long; what can I say?), traces the reactions of an aggrieved widower, who mourns the suicide of his young wife. After wallowing in a filthy house for a while, he becomes determined to solve the mystery of her demise by trying to teach his dog Lorelei, the only witness to his wife's deadly leap from a tree, to talk. Funny and deeply touching all at once.
3. The tiny (no doubt pricey) 5.1 megapixel Sony Cybershot that my Dad gave me for Christmas. I plan to use it to catch all my co-workers in compromising positions. (This is your warning not to pull a John Wilder, people.) Perhaps next I'll get a Web site, where I can post said images.
4. The Adriatic coast, where I spent the best vacation of my life this year. Life will never get better than that.
5. Love, Actually. I'm a sucker for sentimentality.
6. My PowerBook G4, on which I'm sending this from my out-laws' in Texas.
7. Dr. John Lachs' philosophy class in the Vanderbilt Masters of Liberal Arts and Science program. If anyone is a walking example of why thinking optimistically is fruitful, it's the diminuitive, bald-headed Lachs, who's got a smile that will fill up a room. He had us read them for the sake of evenhandedness, but to hell with all those dead German guys who hated women. Schopenhauer, you suck!
8. Online shopping and free shipping. Christmas shopping in bed, clad in PJs and slippers with a cup of coffee, beats the freak show that is Opry Mills any day.
9. E.J. Mitchell, the new Tennessean editor. "A cool cat," as one of his employees recently put it. Amen. (But I'm still gonna be on your ass.)
10. Diet Coke with lime.
The Ten Most Attractive Nashville Indie Bands
10. The Clutters
9. (the now defunct) Forget Cassettes
8. The Hotpipes
7. De Dovo Dahl
5. Imaginary Baseball League
4. The Privates
3. The Pink Spiders
1. Rich Creamy Paint
Ten Reasons I Love Nashville
The year 2004 marked my first year as a Nashville resident. From making friends to seeing great live music shows, I consider it a success. When I first moved here I was skeptical of Nashville the cityI feared boredom and endless country music. Instead, I found a lot of cool people, a few big city perks and a lot more than country music to keep me occupied. My Top 10 selections are just a few of the reasons 2004 was memorable and why I'll be calling Nashville home next year.
1. The Pixies at the Ryman. Seeing the Pixies was my first visit to the Ryman. Though I had mixed feelings about the performance, just being in the legendary music hall was mesmerizing; it might even have been a spiritual experience.
2. Nashville Public Library. Sure, all my savvy friends have subscriptions to Netflix. Me, I'm addicted to the library's efficient request and pick-up service for DVDs. I may have to wait 6 months for a copy of the last season of Sex in the City, but that's okay. I'd rather be cheap than savvy any day.
3. Mike Doughty at 12th & Porter. This was the first music show I covered for the Scene and it embodied the best (cool performer, cool venue) and the worst (inane audience) of the Nashville music scene.
4. Slack. Whether these guys were slyly responding to a crazed drunk guy trying to get on stage, singing Christmas tunes for charity, or simply rockin' on stage (doing back flips!), they're the best local live music show in town.
5. Babies. Usually I try to stay away from these high-maintenance creatures but this year I was amazed by their sheer cuteness. I just haven't been the same since hanging out with cute baby Caden Jackson, born Feb. 12, and since I can't pick just one cutest baby I have to mention Scene progeny Abraham Marx, Jamie Ridley and Zack Rutter, who grace the Scene office with their cuteness from time to time.
6. The Dinner Club. I won't mention all the great friends I've made this year, but I will mention one group of women who invited me into their dinner club and have intrigued me with not only their love for homemade mashed potatoes (served with pasta and zucchini) but their ease at discussing everything from testosterone cream and farting dogs to matters of the heart without blinking an eye.
7. Calypso Café. I was really happy to find a wide selection of locally owned restaurants. I still have plenty to go, but thus far I designate Calypso Cafe as the best. Their Caribbean-esque food is different without being funky, and they serve the greatest vinaigrette dressing I've ever had.
8. 10,000 Villages. It took me almost the whole year to make it to this Green Hills non-profit gift shop, but when I finally did I found a treasure trove of eclectic gifts from around the world. I did most of my holiday shopping hereguilt-free.
9. All About Music & TV Event. By a fluke I was invited to this local music event, in which bands get to meet with music supervisors. I made friends, met lots of professionals in the music industry, and saw some great local performances by Jedd Hughes, Kristi Neumann and Sarah Kelly.
10. Nashville servers. For me it's almost always about food, but among many courteous servers one stood outa guy named David G. at PM, who was actually cheerful and helpful.
Ten Best Public Humiliations of 2004
10. George W. Bush's First Debate
9. John Kerry's Bird Hunt
8. Howard Dean's Screaming Fit
7. N.J. Gov. James McGreevy's Resignation
6. John Edwards' "Concession" Speech
5. Donald Rumsfeld's Unexpected Armor Question
4. Dan Rather's 60 Minutes Bush National Guard Story
3. Lindy England's Iraqi Prisoner Photo Sessions
2. Tara Reid's Wardrobe Malfunction
1. Janet Jackson's Wardrobe Malfunction
Ten Fashion Trends of 2004 I Wish Would Go Away
1. Anything Sarah Jessica Parker does
2. Necklaces and purses with letters/initials on them
4. Grown-out femme mullets (a la Ashlee Simpson)
5. Jeans made to look dirty
6. Ruffled miniskirts
7. Boots over pants
8. The 1980s look (see #3)
9. Velour tracksuits
Ten Things in 2004 I Liked (in no particular order)
10. The Killers, Franz Ferdinand and Maroon 5 (That last selection is in no way intended to be ironic.)
9. Kausfiles.com, Wonkette.com, ESPN.com's Bill Simmons.
8. That five-day stretch in August where the weather was unseasonably chilly and I felt like I was in upstate New York.
7. Vandy Men's Basketball's Sweet Sixteen Run.
6. Yazoo Pale Ale. Or the Porter.
5. Hilton/Lohan 2004
4. Play Ball! New ballpark for the Nashville Sounds looks like a done deal.
3. The Summer Olympics, particularly Meb Keflezighi's silver medal run in the Men's marathon.
2. The Shield; Desperate Housewives. (A spin-off idea: Desperate Housewives: Fieldstone Farms.)
1. Game 3, ALCS: Yankees batter and humiliate the Red Sox and take a commanding 3-0 Series lead. (For peculiar reason, my recollection of what happened afterward is foggy.)
Ten Movies I Saw in 2004 That I Wish I Hadn't
1. Blade TrinityActually, this one is a lie. This movie was so bad it was actually funny. Case in point: WWE wrestler Triple H carries around a vampire Pomeranian. Dracula has updated his look and now goes by the name Drake. He wanders into a Goth store, discovers that he's been commercialized, and promptly sucks the blood of the angsty teenage wiccan clerks. Oh yeah, and Parker Posey plays a vampire. Who came up with that idea? She's so tiny that the fake fangs barely fit in her mouth.
2. The Prince and MeI saw this sappy teenage chick-flick with three girlfriends FOR FREE and I still wanted my two hours back. This movie is proof that Hollywood makes too many films and has too few good ideas.
3. 50 First DatesAdam Sandler provides no useful purpose to society. He should have been shot long ago.
4. Team America: World PoliceGood idea in theory, bad idea in reality. Much like
5. The Stepford WivesThe 1975 version is captivating and intriguing. Frank Oz's remake ignores some fundamental aspects of the plot and only makes sense if you've seen the first film. The entire movie is hackneyed and monotonous. I saw it on an airplane and only finished it because I couldn't walk out without plummeting to my untimely death.
6. Along Came PollyThe blind ferret was funny but not funny enough. Shame on you, Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller.
7. The TerminalA sappy movie by Tom Hanks? That's unheard of!
8. Starsky & HutchOkay, so I laughed a couple times. And again, I saw it for free. But that's still no excuse. I can think of better things to do with my time than watch this movie. Clipping my toenails, for instance.
9. The Saddest Music in the WorldThis is the best movie featuring glass peg-legs filled with beer. But that's not saying very much.
10. WimbledonMediocre romantic comedy. The keyword here is "mediocre." When Harry Met Sally this is not. Also, who decided Kirsten Dunst could act?
Ten Good Things About 2004
10. A Ghost Is Born, Wilco
Good by Wilco standards, great by other standards.
9. Rubber Factory, The Black Keys
Two white guys from Akron that sound like the deepest blues from the Delta.
8. Riot on an Empty Street, Kings of Convenience
Most relaxing album.
7. The College Dropout, Kayne West
Most celebrated (hip/hop) album of the year, with good reason.
6. The Strokes, Nashville RiverStages
Best concert featuring an inebriated lead singer.
5. The Office: The Entire Series
The best movie of 2004.
3. Super Size Me
Nauseating documentary of ostentatious overeating.
2. Absolutely American, David Lipsky
Honest chronicle of life at West Point.
1. Positively Fifth Street, James McManus
Well-written account of high-stakes pokerthe game and the lifestyle.
Ten Great Books for Adults, 2004
1. Persepolis 2, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon)
Picking up where Satrapi's earlier memoir-in-comics left off, Persepolis 2 follows
14-year-old Marji as she leaves Tehran to attend school in Vienna, only to return to her homeland four years later. Satrapi is gifted with a keen eye for the details of daily life, but her real genius lies in her ability to portray the heartbreaking and humorous life of one girl and the life of her entire nation through deceptively simple comic illustrations and text that speak to any reader, no matter age or nationality.
2. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris (Little, Brown)
What can I say? It's David Sedaris. But if you need more convincing, his latest collection recounts experiences from his childhood to the present, incorporating his trademark ability to turn ordinary experiences into hilarious adventures at every turnand these stories seem to pack a little more heart.
3. A Sense of Place, by Michael Shapiro (Travelers' Tales)
Travel journalist Shapiro meets 18 of his literary heroes on their home turf, from Jan Morris's Wales to Frances Mayes's Tuscany to Simon Winchester's Massachusetts and all manner of places in between.
4. Candyfreak, by Steve Almond (Algonquin)
Almond's first book, My Life in Heavy Metal, was mainly about sex. Evidently a man of many vices, Almond's second is about none other than candythe actual stuff you eat. Almond, a self-proclaimed candyfreak, tours the last of America's independent candy companies and writes of theirand hisbittersweet love affair with sweets.
5. Like the Red Panda, by Andrea Seigel (Harcourt)
"What if one of the Virgin Suicides told her own story?" Who can resist a cover line like that? Jeffrey Eugenides' debut put him on the map back in 1993, and Like the Red Panda could do the same for 24-year-old Seigel. Blending cynicism and innocence, the story introduces Stella Parrish, a 17-year-old high schooler whose parents OD'd on designer drugs when she was just 11; now that she's down to her last two weeks of high school, Stella's deciding between Princeton and death.
6. Confessions of a Tax Collector, by Richard Yancey (HarperCollins)
Yancey answered a blind want ad in the newspaper that changed his life forever: he spent the next 12 years as an IRS revenue officer, mainly dealing with tax protestors (or those whom he calls the "Constitutionally challenged.") His insider's view of the tax system's Byzantine inner workings is like Office Space on crack.
7. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters, by Elisabeth
Robinson (Little, Brown)
Robinson, a former independent producer and screenwriter, manages an accomplished debutin epistolary form, no less. With basis in her own life, her novel centers on the relationship between two sisters, one with a flagging career in the movie business, the other diagnosed with leukemia. Both funny as hell and heartbreaking; Robinson knows how to work an audience.
8. In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Speigelman (Pantheon)
Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman (Maus) delivers one of the most provocative books of the season. Once again challenging the conventions of comics, Spiegelman offers a stunning account of what he witnessed in his own Lower Manhattan neighborhood on 9/11and what he witnessed on the greater political stage in the aftermath. Designed as an oversize board book, it features a series of broadsheet-sized color comic pages that echo the 20th-century's earliest newspaper comics.
9. Citizen Girl, by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (Atria Books)
The second novel from McLaughlin and Kraus (The Nanny Diaries) is a Working Girl for the 2000s, minus the shoulder pads and Cinderella-like ending. Girl has the same biting wit that brought Nanny and Mrs. X to life and made their first novel stand out in a sea of books written by and for young women.
10. Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home, by Ina Garten
Something about Garten makes you (well, me) feel like we could be best friends. Her latest book has recipes even a novice cook can followand better yet, they actually turn out tasty. The recipe for Rosemary Roasted Cashews was a hit at my house during the holidays.
Ten Great Books for Children's/Teens, 2004
1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Children's)
Just 10 years out of high school, Green has penned an honest, searing account (reminiscent of John Knowles' A Separate Peace) of one teen's life-changing experiences during his first year at boarding school.
2. The Librarian of Basra, by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt Children's)
On July 27, 2003, award-winning children's book author and illustrator Jeanette Winter was captivated by a story in the New York Times about Iraqi librarian Alia Muhammad Baker and her heroic efforts to save her library's collection from the approaching war. This story became the basis for her latest picture book, and just as Baker saved her war-stricken community's library of books, Winter has captured and preserved Alia's story with simple prose and her signature folk-art-style illustrations.
3. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!, by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books for Children)
In this hilarious follow-up to Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Pigeon finds a hot dog and can hardly wait to eat it, but a sly duckling enters the scene.
4. The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln, by Mike Reiss, illustrated by David Catrow
(Price Stern Sloan)
Simpsons writer Reiss and award-winning illustrator Catrow join forces for this tale of a boy who looks just like Abraham Lincolna resemblance that earns him a trip to Camp What-Cha-Ma-Call-It, "the camp for kids who look like things." The funniest bit comes at the end, when the boy's mother gives birth to another presidential-looking child....
5. Heartbeat, by Sharon Creech (HarperCollins Children's)
Newbery Medal-winning author Sharon Creech follows 12-year-old Annie through a pivotal yearher mother's expecting a baby, her grandfather's aging, and her relationship with her best friend Max seems to be changing. The book retains Creech's wonderfully rhythmic free verse, which she first employed in Love That Dog.
6. Ellington Was Not a Street, by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
(Simon & Schuster Children's)
Renowned poet Ntozake and acclaimed illustrator Nelson have collaborated on a moving tribute to a community of African-American visionariesamong them Duke Ellington, percussionist Ray Barretto, jazz great Dizzy Gillespie and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghanawho changed the arts and the world forever.
7. Kitten's First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow)
Henkes' 34th book for children introduces a memorable new character while showcasing a different style and black and white art. A perfect adventure for the very young.
8. Home, by Jeannie Baker (Greenwillow)
A striking wordless picture book that chronicles the transformation of a drab urban streetscape into a thriving neighborhood. Baker's detailed collages ensure repeat requests to read this treasure of a book.
9. Doing It, by Melvin Burgess (Henry Holt)
This teen novel follows the sexual misadventures of three teen boys who spend more time thinking about "it" than actually doing "it." It's also the basis for the ABC teen drama Life As We Know It, and just as Burgess's first teen-lit hit Smack sent ripples through children's publishing, Doing It stirred up just as much controversy.
10. Ida B.: . . . and Her Plans to Maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save the World, by Katherine Hannigan (HarperCollins Children's)
Katherine Hannigan's funny and moving first novel introduces Ida B. Applewood, a fourth grader like no other, who brings to mind popular children's heroines of the past like Anastasia Krupnik and Ramona Quimby.