More Top Ten Lists

Top Five Words the Right claimed during the 2004 Election (Amy H. König):

1. Values (Google's #1-ranked response). 2004 Election Definition: To be a person of "values" means you support limiting the civil rights of gays and non-whites, preferably by amending constitutions, state or national, because plain old laws aren't good enough.

2. Life (Google's #7). 2004 Election Definition: To be a "life"-affirming person means you are against a woman's right to choose, and that you would rather let people live in extreme pain and die young than let doctors get their hands on a few microscopic fertilized cells.

3. Family (Google's #1). 2004 Election Definition: 1. To be a "family" person means that you are against the separation of church and state, and do not believe in freedom of religion or religious tolerance. 2. Groups composed of a married white male and female with two or three biological children who go as often as possible to Disneyland.

4. Morality (Google's #1). 2004 Election Definition: A "moral" person is one who favors censorship and who is against freedom of speech.

5. Freedom (Google's #7). 2004 Election Definition: If you love "freedom," you support preemptive war declared on non-white, non-Christian countries by any means necessary. Naturally, you are against "freedom of religion" (e.g., religions other than Evangelical Christianity), "freedom of speech" (e.g., voicing anything resembling doubt or concern about GWB's policies), and "freedom of the press" (eg, showing pictures of soldier's coffins on television). These things have nothing to do with freedom per se, and if you are in favor of them, you must be a terrorist!

How did we let these words come to stand for the things they apparently stand for? How can we show people that this is all wrong and backwards and upside-down?! How can we resignify these words?

Top Ten Silly and Embarrassing Names I Seem To Have Given To My Cat (JS):

1. Hans Blix
2. The Honorable Hans Blix
3. Blixy
4. Blixatron
5. Bobby the BobCat
6. Bobby Ganoush
7. Bobby Lou "The Cat" Ganoush
8. Fluffy Little Man
9. Fluffmeister
10. Giant Little Tiny

Top 10 Favorite Cats* (Linda Liang):

1. Miss Babs Johnson
2. Louis
3. Yoda
4. Oliver
5. Domino and Sammy
6. Gus
7. Digby
8. the t-shirt express cat at 81st and Broadway
9. Biscuit and Biba
10. Lucy and Desi

* I've never met The Rhombus or the Honorable Hans Blix!

Top Five chocolate sources for baking (JS):

1) Valrhona Guanaja (Bitter Dark 70%)
2) Valhrona Cariabe (Sweet Dark 60%)
3) Callebaut Bitter (70%)
4) Callebaut Semisweet (51.8%)
5) Sharffenberger Dark (70%)

Top Ten Ways of Getting Chocolate into the Mouth (JS):

1) plain truffles from la maison du chocolat. fuck!
2) chocolate cake spiked with cayenne and hot cinnamon
3) a fluffy chocolate layer cake with whipped cream frosting
4) the truffles I make with valrhona caraibe coated in dark cocoa
5) the truffles I make with guittard semisweet flavored with anise and covered in poppy seeds
6) chocolate pot de crème
7) hot chocolate
8) Joseph Schmidt Dark Almond Bark
9) Dolfin Milk Chocolate with Cinnamon
10) Anything Valrhona

Top Ten Crap/Bizarre Jobs I have undertaken (Lou Reynolds):

10. Regularly taking down hardcore porn from a technical school in Denmark, much to the disgust of the, oh so liberal, Scandinavians.
9. Cleaning an extractor fan whilst standing on a freezer full of frozen, human body parts in a Cancer research institute, as an Iraq and Russian threatened to switch the fan’s power back on.
8. Waitressing whilst on amphetamines.
7. First day ever as a caregiver, trapping a client’s bum-bag in his boxer shorts whilst toileting, and thinking I had given him a hernia.
6. First day at another care job, eating a hearty breakfast and then having to conduct a bowel extraction on client.
5. Getting severe sunburn whilst fruit picking and then having to sit thru my G.C.S.E. maths exam with my skirt tucked into my knickers.
4. Asking a bunch of little kids I was teaching at an International school, to draw me a picture & 80% of them produced porn.
3. Teaching in a severely run down school, listening to an exploding car and preying it was not mine that had just been torched.
2. Whilst teaching in a prison, testing out what it is like to be locked in a cell (horrible) and being recognized by the guard with the key, as the girl who stole her boyfriend 14 years ago.
1. Foolishly drinking Jack Daniels whilst on antihistamines, going to work the next day as a chambermaid, entering a room, vomiting, cleaning up, going to next room, vomiting, cleaning up, going to next room, vomiting, clearing up…(16 times!)

Top Ten Reasons European Films Have It All Over American Movies (Kevin Grandfield):

1. European films start where American movies end. (Note 1)
2. Nothing blows up. (Note 2)
3. The characters are more likely to be like you. (Note 3)
4. Not everything is perfect. (Note 4)
5. Foreign accents are sexy. (Note 5)
6. Foreign settings are better. (Note 6)
7. They make fun of Americans. (Note 7)
8. Religion is cultural and historical, not ideological. (Note 8)
9. Characters act like grown ups; even the kids. (Note 9)
10. You just know they're drinking better coffee/wine/beer. (Note 10)

Notes:

1. American movies are like back-stories to foreign ones. I saw the much-loved and much-hated Sideways defended by one movie critic as having a hopeful and mature message because it ended with Giamatti's character knocking on Virginia Madsen's door, and he had never reached out to anyone before. Is our culture so bereft of empathy and common sense that this qualifies as a revelation or even a noble gesture? To people in Europe, this would be a given, and we would be presented with a movie about a relationship between a guy who never previously opened up and the woman he opened up to. Think of the American public's clichéd view of European films: they're only about "relationships." What actually HAPPENS to Giamatti and Madsen because of their decisions? That's what interests me. But in American movies, like in American nightly news, there are no repercussions for your actions.

Another good example is 1997's Kolya, which actually won an Oscar in the U.S. for best foreign movie. The press release touted it as a tender story about what happens when "a confirmed bachelor is left as guardian of a little boy." This might be as it appeared to Americans, but it was a full 36 minutes (I think I timed it back then) into the 105-minute film before he gets the boy! Before that, we are shown his life, his character, the situation that leads to him being left as guardian. In American movies, these details would have been (a) left out, (b) given as back-story, or (c) summarized in about 5 minutes.

2. When's the last time you saw with your own eyes an explosion not on a screen? In Terry Gilliam's Brazil, Jonathan Price gleefully reacts to killing someone because he thought the person was a terrorist, and Kim Griest looks at him and asks, "Have you ever met a real terrorist?" It's a good question for today's paranoiac mood.

3. Everybody is middle class. Everybody rides the train. Other countries have social policies that keep people more in society, more in public, more in touch with the masses. There's more human interaction to watch and therefore to give context to the characters at the heart of the story. And those characters seem more easily related to because they do things that average people do, like ride the train. In America, movies are all about the standout individual (Rambo, Rudy, etc.). Standout individuals have nothing to teach everyday schmucks like me. They are fantasies and not portrayals of possible realities.

4. Less than perfect-looking people get laid. Cedric Khan's film L'Ennui (reviewed in these pages) shows an overweight girl who likes to have sex and then leave and (as astute reviewers have noted [OK, ME!]) this drives her philosophy professor lover to madness. She's perfectly happy with her bodily existence and needs, but he who looks for meaning in everything goes crazy.

It rains. In Benoit Jacquot's La Fille Seule (A Single Girl), the main character is a hotel maid, and when a guest asks if Paris is always cloudy and depressing, she responds nonchalantly, "oui." In The Commitments, two characters have a nonchalant conversation in the middle of a torrential downpour.

5. They are!

6. Not only are European ancient ruins and modern design more attractive than America's, they also come with more history behind them. Maybe because of that, directors show more of the city or countryside in which the story takes place. They use tracking and panning shots. It's not all headshots. Some American movies might as well be the nightly news.

7. Though not a movie, Monty Python's sketch showing the American general asking, "Do we have any statistics on how badly we scared them?" points to a cultural attitude that is so identifiable that it is very funny and scary at the same time. Americans have an inability to laugh at ourselves. You can only laugh at something if you have distance on it, and we are so steeped in our own culture not only daily but whenever we turn to other media that we don't have the necessary distance to see our foibles and laugh at them. (h2so4 excepted!)

8. All American art is a morality play. The white guy in the white outfit on the white horse always rides away victorious. The lessons of European films are grayer. Christian principles do not dictate the outcome or even terms of discourse for the fictional situation being explored.

9. I watched a French film called Young Werther at the Chicago International Film Festival a few years back. My friend who also saw it asked what I thought. I said, "The kids talked like grown-ups, which I didn’t believe for a minute, but I love the French for expecting them to." A third grader in that film said to another, "I don't know why I don't love [your friend], but I don't." That reflects a sureness of personal desire and an understanding of the vagaries of attraction far beyond many American adults.

10. Don't even start with me about Starbucks, microbrews, etc. I have tasted for myself.

Top ten places I have thought would be good places to move to (Heidi Pollock):

1. Any Boat
2. Moscow
3. Austin
4. Northampton. MA
5. Martha's Vineyard (anywhere east of the stoplight)
6. New Orleans, LA
7. Dublin (Ireland)
8. Sunnyvale, CA (shoot me now!)
9. Millbrook, NY
10. Flagstaff, AZ

Top 10 Favorite See's Candies (Linda Liang):

#34 Caramel
#7 Almond Square
#6 Butterscotch Square
#46 Milk Pattie
#8 Milk Bordeaux
#28 Mocha
#14 Dark Almond
#22 California Brittle
#13 Milk Almond
#43 Walnut Square

Top ten surfs, 2004 (Jeff Matt):

1. Coal Oil Point, first winter swell in Ventura county's '04-'05 season.

Overhead lined up point break with ultimately unmakeable tube sections. For a while I was the only one at the pier on a longboard. Like everyone, I was obliterated trying to hang on in the barrel longer than I ought. As someone paddling out said as I collected my board (and lumps) after a longish barrel, "Piping!"

2. Maria's, Puerto Rico. Second week of Feb.

What more might be said of head and a half reef break in warm water on a new board made just for the trip? Oh yeah, baby. Baby! Ahhhh.

3. Unnamed point break, Puerto Rico.

Pre "Swell of the Trip" and a harbinger. Only one out, trunks, so what if it lasted only a half hour before the tide wrecked it? So what if the reef was full of vana on the inside? So what if it was cloudy? Score!

4. Unnamed reef break, Puerto Rico.

Again alone, entering the water by light of the setting full moon to find the ocean warmer than the already balmy air. The paddle to the break was maybe three-quarters of a mile and the view to the shore was of empty tropical coastline, no buildings, the road kept close by foliage. The surf a powerful seven foot, lefts and rights, glassy as an oil spill. So what if I had to answer the call of the "traveler's malady" in the line up? The tide was outbound and there were more waves for me!

5. Little Maria's, Puerto Rico.

Tiny surf, no one out but me and the lady half, essentially alone. She didn't stand but bounced in prone on quite a few. Until I hit her board on a "family wave" on the way in, a perfect session.

6. Montara, San Mateo County.

Out on a day at Montara's maximum ride-able height with Pete. Just like we were in high school again except cold and grey. The fist day that justified breaking out the short board in some time- I had forgotten how fun the chip is. Then that damned shark investigated us- so we took off. But not as fast as you would think, close-out barrels are magnetic to human flesh....

7. Pescadero, San Mateo County, two and a half hour bodysurfing session with Pete.

I had forgotten how much fun bodysurfing was! I had forgotten how much salt water a sinus cavity holds! So much fun, reminiscent of Sandy Beach with close-out tubes that kept open inside for a while, taking drops that were obviously going to be Phyrric in their accomplishment as sand and kelp shreds forced their way into facial orifices with the force of suburban rioters at the Gotcha Pro. Yes!

8. Ocean Beach, fist swell of the '04-'05 season.

New mini-gun, fast as hell. Easy paddle out. Pushing double overhead on sets. Met someone in the line up who had long been a familiar face. Stayed out long past the conditions' deterioration just because.

9. & 10. Ocean Beach October & November madness.

Surfed a couple strings of day after day and just beat. Exceptionally fun and hollow head high surf, off shore winds, relatively light crowds and one wave that stands out in memory; it sucked up and went perfectly vertical while the shoulder ahead of me suddenly went perpendicular to the wave face!? I ended on a flying kick out, landing flat on my back from such a height that I wondered why I hadn't hit the water yet. Subsequently I was recognized in the parking lot as the flying guy by a nice older gentleman watching the wave orgy. Go figure. Surfed many days alone and with Pete, Jeff, Dave and Peter.

11. Impossibly long longboard left-hand barrel (squatting, all 6'2"), San Mateo County.

Sometimes local spots surprise even after years of a relationship that might generously be called "codependent". Leashless trim, glassy, barefeet, if only the rest of the damned rubber could be taken from the equation.

10 worst things girls actually said to me in 2004 (David Wollock):

1. it looks so small and cute right now.
2. you're kind of metrosexual, aren't you?
3. you're very appropriate for me.
4. i fucked [your friend].
5. um, you can stop now.
6. i love dating writers. they're so...funky.
7. you're apartment...it's clean. what happened?
8. you're so nice.
9. are you almost done?
10. do you ever feel jealous of how successful [your friend] is?

The BEST news-worthy story that actually made mainstream channels (Colleen Pearl):

Evangelical Christian mauled by lions after going into their zoo pen to preach the good word; upon being swiped, he responds by telling said lion that Jesus would forgive it if it committed itself to Jesus.

Top Ten Reasons to Study the Law (Laura Schattschneider)

10. The law is legible.

9. This means, in part, that by studying the law you can earn some money.

8. This also means, in part, people who are not studying the law at least think they understand what you are doing by studying the law. To someone who has spent years answering the question "what literature are you comparing?" this is refreshing.

7. This also means, in part, you become instrumental to the larger picture of the world's getting and spending.

6. The law can be hard to understand. It is good to challenge one's understanding regularly. A person's reach must exceed her grasp, et cetera.
5. Studying the law means thinking about the rules that contain human interaction within a peaceful, if often adversarial, framework. Thinking about these rules, day in and day out, provides you with the capacity to make meaningful suggestions about how to change them when it becomes clear they do not work. Or, you can make them work only for your clients. Your choice.
4. That is, studying the law means one can no longer be in a state of denial about money, nor about survival, for which money stands. Survival is a daily struggle for all people, everywhere.
3. Thinking about the rules of the struggle to survive, day in and day out, means that you develop the ability to make this struggle more fair. Alternatively, you develop the ability to make the struggle a priori a failure for some people at the expense of others. Your choice.
2. If you have the ability to make the struggle to survive more, or less, fair, you can do much good for others. You can also do much harm. Your choice.
1. The law is power, writ large. How you wield it, once you have studied it, is up to you.

Top ten hairs on my body (Keith Petersen)

1. 2.

3. 4.

5. 6.

7. 8.

9. 10.