a sparkling new year to you all.

may we present round two of the non-2008-music-related top ten lists…

Top 10 Easy Pasta Dishes by stella marrs
Note: I do not give amounts- it’s cooking!
All start in a large cast iron pan. (Except #9)
For these recipes, the sautéing starts with a generous amount of the best olive oil. Sea salt, fresh ground pepper, organic pastas, fresh basil, and Romano or Parmesan cheese are the defaults for the most satisfying results.

1. The Syracuse. Caramelize onions, add can of whole tomatoes, add brown sugar- cook for many, many hours. Finish with garlic and fresh basil toward the end.
2. Fresh Roman. Mushrooms browned in olive oil. Thyme, garlic, parsley, pepper. Tossed into linguine with olive oil and lemon.
3. San Francisco. Sautéed garlic and bitter greens and hot pepper flakes, tossed with linguine and chopped anchovies. Splash of balsamic at the end.
4. Ancient Rome. Sauté red pepper flakes and garlic and breadcrumbs until golden. Toss with spaghetti.
5. Easy Italian. Sautéed garlic, red pepper flakes and broccolini. Add sliced black dried olive bits and lemon juice when tossing with the pasta.
6. The Olympian. Sauté tofu. Add a splash of soy sauce at the end and leave in pan on low. Add straight to the cooked linguine in this order and tossing after each addition: olive oil, sea salt, mustard, brewers yeast, and hot sauce. Top with the golden brown tofu.
7. The New Yorker. (Breakfast at midnight) Cook bacon and crumble it into a big bowl. Add several eggs, shakes of paprika, snips of parsley, lots of ground pepper. Add the just drained pasta and mix and toss, toss, toss. Extra cheese on this one.
8. The Portlander. Caramelize onions and red peppers and garlic. Add a well-rinsed can of white beans and basil and parsley. Finish with a splash of balsamic.
9. The Northwesterner.Cooked linguine gets coated with sour cream, capers, finely minced white part of the green onion, and smoked salmon.
10. The Buffalonian. Sauté garlic, onions, and sliced Italian sausage. Add a can of tomato sauce. Finish with oregano, basil and Franks! (A local hot sauce)

Top Ten things (in no particular order) that helped me survive 2008 by john woo / the magnetic fields
1. Nephews
2. Sigma DP1
3. Capilene
4. The Economist
5. Lonely Planet
6. Free Wi-fi
7. LIRR beach packages
8. Press 195’s pork sandwiches
9. Woorijip’s hot buffet
10. Earbuds in a pocket of every jacket I own

Top Ten Books About the Lost Generation (in no particular order), or, How I Spent 2008 by lisa “cf” levy
1. Malcolm, Janet. Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
Gertrude and Alice and Janet Malcolm and Nazis and the vagaries of Stein scholarship and the ABT Cookbook and those hints about S/M and odd Leo Stein and what it is like to be so convinced of your genius that nothing and no one can really touch you, and nothing really matters but the work. Could not be better.
2. Douglas, Ann. Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s. New York: FSG, 1995.
One of the best histories ever written, Douglas covers New York in the 1920s with astonishing breadth while spinning a number of impressive thematic plates. She writes about jazz, Freud, Fitzgerald, anthropology, railroads, hardboiled fiction, advertising and photography with style and panache. A book study, to use, to be cowered by, and to emulate. The bibliographic essay alone is so good I weep. I tremble at the thought of her next book, about America in the Cold War (and her previous one, the Feminization of American Culture, which argues for the intellectual and spiritual collusion of the clergy and female authors in the 1890’s to remake gender roles, is also fantastic).
3. Wilson will write better books than Axel’s Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930 (1931. New York: FSG, 2004), but this is really the book that made him as a critic. Far from perfect, but brash and a nice reminder that even Bunny Wilson was once young.
4. Page, Tim, ed. The Diaries of Dawn Powell, 1931-1965. South Royalton, VT: Steerforth Press, 1995.
She shoved herself into the Lost Generation photo in Esquire as a joke, but her diaries have the same sensibility as all the folks who were “there” (and were her pals later on anyway) with a lot more color. Also instructive to see how the other half lived–that is to say, a woman burdened by a loutish drunk husband and a son with Down’s Syndrome who really had to write for a living. Pair it with one of her novels for some levity–I love A Time To Be Born (1942), a parody of the life of Clare Booth Luce–or just admire her for doing what Dorothy Parker never could, just keep at it when all the odds were stacked against her.
5. Time for the hard stuff: ease into Stein with The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and then, only for the intrepid, get the Dalkey Archives The Making of Americans. Follow Malcolm’s lead and rip the book into portable pieces. Stein would have been delighted.
6. Your reward is a visit to the Fitzgerald’s. No biography is better than Scott on himself, so get thee a copy of The Crack-Up and ride the ride again. No one has written his own rise and fall any better—poignant, but honest. Nancy Milford’s Zelda is a landmark in feminist biography and it holds up damned well. Her character is as rich as any in biography before or since.
7. Now that you are in the party/crash mood, I highly recommend a whirl with Harry Crosby via Geoffrey Wolff’s brilliant Black Sun (Black Sun: The Brief Transit and Violent Eclipse of Harry Crosby. 1976. New York: New York Review Books, 2003). It’s got everything–sex, drugs,suicide pacts, astrology, murder, jazz, gambling, shell shock, a burning hatred of Boston, whippets, and solid rants against previous theories about the era. You won’t be disappointed.
8. Next is an introduction to a couple of my favorite Lost Generation characters, Gerald and Sara Murphy. The first book, Calvin Tomkins’ Living Well Is the Best Revenge, an expansion of his New Yorker piece about them, is too slim and evasive.
9. It will leave you wanting more, and there are two easy ways to get it: one is Linda Miller’s Letters from the Lost Generation (Letters from the Lost Generation: Gerald and Sara Murphy and Friends. Expanded Edition. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002), and the other is…
10. Deborah Rothschild’s essay collection assembled for the exhibit about the Murphy’s that travelled across the country in 2007, Making It New: The Art and Style of Sara and Gerald Murphy. You will only regret that you live in a time where the dollar is weak, artists are so often silly, and style is something relegated to–sigh–magazines and the upper reaches of your digital channels, with the world “life” shoved ridiculously in front of it. Once upon a time style was a matter of some urgency, life (especially given the stakes of a war that was supposed to end all wars) was supposed to be lived to the hilt, and money was incidental, not the point of a day’s work but a byproduct of it. My wish for 2009–for all of us–would be to try and keep these ideas in our consciousness, if not as our goals.

Ten best lines from New Kids on the Block songs by emma straub
1. “Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.”
2. (Heavy sigh)
3. (Softer sigh)
4. “(sigh) Sounds good to you, don’t it?”
5. “Huh!” (Accompanied by a pelvic thrust)
6. “Girl!”
7. “Ooh, girl!”
8. “Didn’t I blow your mind this time.” (Okay, fine, it was a cover.)
9. “We’re five bad brothers from the Beantown land.”
10. (Heavy breathing, due to dancing in unison.)

Family Movie Night in the Davol Household: 10 Most Recent Films Watched by sam davol / the magnetic fields
1. Home Movie (2002)
2. The Way Things Go (1987)
3. The Best of The Electric Company (1971)
4. The Films of Charles & Ray Eames: Powers of Ten (1977)
5. Wild Wheels (1992)
6. Top Hat (1935)
7. The Life of Birds (1998)
8. Creature Comforts: Season 1 (2004)
9. That’s Entertainment (1974)
10. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live in New York City (2001)

“With our tape recorders and our disheveled girl friends” (three lists by shawn belschwender)

Pre-Eliminator ZZ Top in order, from most awesome to least awesome
1. Tres Hombres (1973)
“Soundin’ a lot like they got House Congressional / ‘Cause we’re experimental and professional.” – Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers. I thought this song was an ode to being a numbskull, until I Googled the lyrics. I’m not sure what “got House Congressional” sounds like, but “experimental and professional” exactly describes themselves.
2. Rio Grande Mud (1972)
This thing opens with an ode to a thirteen-year-old girl (“Francine”) which is only right in rock ‘n roll. It is wrong in every other context. This thing contains “Just Got Paid” and the instant good time that is “Bar-B-Q.”
3. ZZ Top’s First Album (1970)
“And soon we’ll be all breathin’ out of tanks
if somethin’ ain’t done about the squank.” – Squank
I can’t think about pollution without imagining it how they painted it so graphically, as monstrous “Squank.” So where’s their Nobel Prize? They wrote their own “Brown Sugar” that is pretty crazy-good. About a minute and forty seconds in, it kinda blows up and rolls over you. This album doesn’t have the hooks and the hits, but it’s hard rocking from end to end, with only “Old Man” as the speed-bump.
4. Fandango! (1975)
“Ladies and gents, the fantastic ZZ Top!” Every DJ set, mixed tape/CD and playlist should kick off with this sample from the live “Thunderbird” on this album. Why don’t yours?
5. El Loco (1981)
I enjoy the whipcracks during “Party on the Patio” and the space guitar solos throughout, and even some of the tiresome car/lady analogies (“I Wanna Drive You Home”) they’re partial too. But really, this thing is less like a collection of solid songs than a space guitar delivery system. Like boogie guitar solos NASA would produce. Try “Ten Foot Pole” if you don’t believe me. As everybody knows, NASA had a space center in Houston, so it all makes perfect sense.
6. Degüello (1979). This is better than Tejas, but it still kind of bores me. “I Thank You” is the best, “Manic Mechanic” the worst.
7. Tejas (1977)
The only Tejas I know is the one they remixed with the 1980s-era mechanical drum sound. And it doesn’t bother me. I mean, I guess they had to do something with this thing, although it’s not as terrible an album as I’d expected it would be. It’s actually not bad. “Ten Dollar Man” my fave track here. Oh, it’s probably to do with whores and pimps and brothels, you know.

The Best American Film Critics, in order of birth
1. Cecilia Ager (1902 – 1981). The only Ager I can find is contained in an anthology edited by Phillip Lopate, called American Movie Critics. I would love to read more. Wrote extremely witty short film reviews for PM, and entertainment pieces for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Described Joan Crawford in The Last of Mrs. Cheyney as having “deafening poise.”
2. Otis Ferguson (1907 – 1943). Wrote for the New Republic, was killed in WWII. See The Film Criticism of Otis Ferguson. “I never again expect to see so much ham crowded into one smokehouse…” – Ferguson on A Tale of Two Cities (1936). Wrote a great piece about the experience of attending a movie in the 1930s before start times were listed in the newspapers and everyone showed up whenever they just felt it, and climbed all over you to get to an empty seat. I would put Ferguson, Pauline Kael and William Pechter in my Big Three of favorite film critics.
3. James Agee (1909 – 1955). See Agee on Film.
4. Manny Farber (1917 – 2008)
“One of the desperate facts about being part of movies today is that every thirtieth word might be ‘Truffaut-Moreau-Godard,’ a depressing, chewed-over sound, and that a heavy segment of any day is consumed by an obsessive, nervous talking about film. This is often a joyless sound that couldn’t inspire anybody, but it suggests that modern moviegoers are trying to possess the film or at least give it a form or a momentousness which it doesn’t have.” Farber’s “Afterthoughts” on the 1968 New York Film Festival, describing a time long-gone. From a collection titled Negative Space. Was a painter, had painter’s eye; famously championed B-movie directors without being an auteur knucklehead.
5. Robert Warshow (1917 – 1955). The Immediate Experience: Movies, Comics, Theatre and Other Aspects of Popular Culture. Is good on Westerns, Gangster films, and Charlie Chaplin. Also, decimates Arthur Miller (The Crucible, Death of A Salesman).
6. Pauline Kael (1919 – 2001). Everything of hers is worth reading, even the collections of her work that cover movies in the 1980s. Don’t settle for that giant anthology. Hunt down all her collections. The best writer of this bunch.
7. William Pechter (b. 1936)
“Liza Minnelli, singing, is, not to put too fine a point on it, the ne plus ultra of tastelessness, a load of loud-mouthed showbiz schmaltz. Like her predecessors in the tradition, Minnelli isn’t a singer but a belter; she doesn’t sing a song, she sells it; and whenever she opens her mouth to sing, in Cabaret or out, it’s strictly Las Vegas. To say that a little of Garland (outside her movies) or Streisand or Minnelli sends me rushing for the antidote of some Irene Kral or Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday is unfairly to load the comparison; one need hardlly go to jazz to find a musical style and level of musicianship to use as a stick to beat Minnelli’s and Streisand’s with. The fact is their music is less musical than histrionic: every song becomes either a big, get-happy production number or a miniature tragedy. Nor is it a question of unfairly judging one style by the standards of another. The Garland-Streisand-Minnelli style, trading as is does in trumped-up emotions, is, in itself, an artistically corrupt one.” – 1972. There are two collections of his work, Movies Plus One and Twenty-Four Times A Second. My second favorite film critic, after Kael.

The three greatest non-fiction books in the world, according to me:
1. The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The “Red” volume. Depressing. Walks you through your arrest by the Cheka. For no reason at all, other than maybe you were ratted out by your neighbor while under torture, just to make the nut-stomping stop.
2. The Gulag Archipelago Volume 2, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The “Black” volume. “None blacker.” Volume 1 ends by warning that everything is about to get worse, and he’s not kidding! I had to put together a Marx Brothers film festival (staying roughly in the time period covered) to lift my spirits. Early Warner Brothers cartoons and Marx Brothers films: the only antidote to this crushing volume.
3. The Gulag Archipelago Volume 3, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Volume 3. The “White” volume. Thrilling, and yes, depressing. Describes revolts in the prisons of the Gulag, as well as escape attempts from them. Where could anybody escape to, in Soviet Russia? Nowhere, you coddled, candy-ass Westerner. Solzhenitsyn’ description of his exile, after 8 years in the Gulag, and the day, early in his exile, when they learned that Stalin died, are some of the best sections in all three volumes.

Some of my favorite quotes. As you can see, Gulag made him cranky!

“Pride grows in the human heart like lard on a pig”

“Both in the camps and in exile, whispered rumors of an amnesty flourished. People have a remarkable capacity for pig-headed credulity.”

Tape Recorders and Disheveled Girl Friends (!!!)
“The majority of young people could not care less whether we have been rehabilitated or not, whether 12 million people are still inside or are inside no longer; they do not see that it affects them. Just so long as they themselves are at liberty, with their tape recorders and their disheveled girl friends.”

“But then, only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career.”

“A human being is all hope and impatience.”

Quoting I.S. Karpunich-Braven, a brigade commander in the civil war: “It is not enough to love mankind – you must be able to stand people.”

(dear readers, please post your lists in the comment box!)