Some of us rounded up our favorite things from 2013. It was supposed to be 6. But we did what we could. Hopefully there will be more things in 2014 worth loving!

Brandi Rinks

1.  1372 Overton Park

1372 Overton Park

1372 Overton Park has been a part of the Memphis music scene in various ways over the years (most notably as Elvis’ dojo and home to members of Lucero), but most recently it filled the venue gap left in the time between the Hi-Tone’s closing and subsequent reopening in the Crosstown Arts area.  No stage, dimly lit, in a constant stage of renovation, 1372 was just a big loft in an area that can tolerate some noise, but really what else do you need?  Some of my favorite shows of 2013 happened at 1372, a venue so bare bones that once I brought soap for the bathrooms just so there would be some. It closed not long after opening, but in the brief time it was open it familiarized show-goers with the Crosstown area and hosted a lengthy and impressive list of bands including The Men, Night Birds, Tenement, Ex-Cult, Manateees, Data Drums, The Heavy Eyes, Tanks, Nots, Water Liars and more. Sometimes I still miss taking a purse full of booze to hang out in that crumbly space that has so much history, but 1372 Overton Park has a way of coming back in one form or another, so I’ll remain hopeful.
2. Fried Chicken
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I stopped eating meat about 15 years ago, making my meatless pledge before I even had my first driver’s license. My soft-heartedness for animals made me stick with it throughout college, a summer abroad, and all of my 20s, but for a plethora of reasons ranging from being sick of beans to vitamin deficiencies to four doctors told me to, this year I decided to try eating chicken. It was a heart-wrenching decision, but once I started back in OH LORD, YOU BETTER HIDE ALLLLLLL THE CHICKENS, Y’ALL. You try to take that last piece of Gus’s Fried Chicken from me and I’ll fight you like a starving junkyard dog while I place a call-in for some Uncle Lou’s to have for dessert.  I feel terrible about it, but at the same time I feel AWESOME about it.  Damn you, complex human emotions, damn you.
3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Ryman
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For my birthday I begged my boyfriend to take me to see Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at the Ryman in Nashville. The only tickets we could snag were in the very top corner and had an “obstructed view” disclaimer, but I didn’t even care because NICK CAVE, Y’ALL. As soon as he came on I was shaking like a meemaw with the sugars and tears started uncontrollably rolling down my cheeks. I’ve never been religious so I was like WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, but basically I turned into one of those people in church raising their hand to Jesus and becoming overwhelmed with his grace, but Jesus was Nick Cave and the church was the Ryman and the choir was the Bad Seeds and the hymn was “From Her to Eternity” and the holy water was bourbon and coke.  Amen.
4. Okkervil River’s “The Silver Gymnasium”
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I have a big thing for both nostalgia and albums that carry a heavy sense of time, place, or reoccurring characters, so Okkervil River’s latest album might as well have been custom made just for me. Set in lead man Will Sheff’s childhood hometown of Meridian, New Hampshire, during the 1980s, the album is so time and place specific that it comes with a paper map marking the location that inspired each song. “The Silver Gymnasium” is sentimental without being cloying, reminiscent and personal but not to an exclusionary level, and crafted with the same literary style as previous Okkervil River releases. I’ve listened to “Pink Slips” more than any other song this year, and this album just came out in October.  As a companion to the album the band also released a 1980s style video game featuring 8-bit versions of the songs, and a code to download a special EP if you beat the game. As if all that wasn’t enough, Sheff is planning to make a short film based on “Down Down the Deep River,” which will be filmed in his hometown and use child actors of the area. (Overachievers take note, you’ve been outdone.)
5.  Manateees Singles
Manateees 2013 Singles
Manateees are without a doubt one of the best bands in Memphis and those crazy kids put out four singles this year, all of which are essential and on small labels that are doing great things.  Hopefully a full-length is on the way in 2014!
Smoke that Bird” on JKSHK
Destruktor” on Tic Tac Totally
Cat Food” on Goner Records
Out for Booze” on Pelican Pow Pow
6. Time Warp Horror Movie Drive-in
Shocktober
This year for Halloween Memphis’s Drive-In Theater  teamed up with Black Lodge Video and Mike McCarthy to host a Shocktober Time Warp Horror Movie marathon which ran dusk to dawn and screened Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead 2, Return of the Living Dead, and Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill!  There were bands playing during intermissions, tee-shirts and prints for sale, and a coffin to get your picture taken in! Hopping between friends’ booze and snack stuffed cars to hang out while NMES plays on the big screen? YES, PLEASE.

R Dear

Craft Soda

This is one of the only times you’ll hear me refer to a soft drink as soda instead of pop!

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The older I get, the more friends I accumulate that nerd out over craft beer, either brewing their own or becoming serious connoisseurs of the local variety. I like beer, but I don’t think too much about it. Good beer is great, but I un-ironically drink cheap beer just as much if not more.

Sometime this summer I started craving offbeat flavored pop and discovered a revival of old school craft soda makins’. I make a point to try new brands and flavors when I can, but I’d really love to make my own. I’ve read up on how to do it, but it’s more complicated than I thought with different carbonation methods. However, this thing just came out and I hope I get one for…. next Christmas! I look forward to major corporate brands catching on to this bandwagon in a few years so they can ruin it like they ruined bacon.

Go! by Chip Kidd

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I purchased this as a Christmas present for my 6 year old son, even though it is clearly for children over 10 and I had ulterior motives of reading it for myself. He probably won’t be fully interested in it for awhile, but it’s there when he’s ready.

I first heard about this book from an interview with Chip Kidd on  the Design Matters with Debbie Millman podcast and was really amused about this project. Although it’s intended to introduce the concept of graphic design to kids, I think that anyone and everyone would benefit from reading it, to either spark their own interests in design or better understand how much design touches them in everything they consume. Having had an interesting year of change in my career, it refreshed my own definitions of design, reminding me what I was there for.

Ladies on the Internet

I have mixed feelings when there are tributes to Women of “Topic.” On one hand, it grinds my gears that it has to be specialized, on the other hand I’m happy to see some respect going out to them. I don’t ever see serious non-parody lists of the Best White Dude Musicians, or Funniest Guy Comedians, or Strongest Male Politicians, or Smartest Men Scientists. That aside, there were lots of women that made the internet a better place this year.

Jammie D is the funniest person on Vine.  Birthday Salad is the most creative person on Vine. (Take note, I think Vine is best for funny and/or creative people, which explains my lack of activity.) Mikki Kendall started a hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen, a dialogue of racism in mainstream feminism that has completely re-shaped my perspective. Hyperbole and a Half returned to the blogsphere with a poignant but hilarious rendition of depression that resonated with me to no end. Megan Amram is so funny I could pee my pants and if you don’t follow her on Twitter you are straight crazy. Rookie Magazine flourished in a way that makes me pine for its existence in my impressionable youth and I have no shame reveling in it in as an adult.

So ladies, you make my internet.

Memphis

I feel kinda dumb posting this because half of active Hexbeat members are from Memphis and I wanna seem cool, but I can’t help that most of my best memories from this year happened in Memphis. In most southern or midwest record shops I’ve been to, the local bin is a modest section, but in Memphis it’s a hoot trying to browse through anthologies of musical history that originated there. I went to shows in several other towns and ain’t no show like a Memphis show, y’all. Hell, we took a belated “honeymoon” and rang in 2013 in Memphis and it was the BEST NYE EVER. I finally went to Graceland and my husband and I totally cried. The original Hi-Tone closed and I got to witness the last show. Some of the best people I’ve met and kept around were because of Gonerfest.

Every time I visit it gets harder to come back home to Fayetteville.

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The Public Library

I’ve been called a bookworm since I started reading when I was 4 years old. Somewhere in adulthood, my reading habits changed, drastically narrowed to academia while in college, and then regulated to publications pertaining to the design industry after college. (And the trashy blogosphere.) This year I tossed aside my fear of some very dated overdue fees at my public library (I don’t know why I was scared of them) and now I go almost every Saturday. It might seem trivial to others, but in this tech age (and yes, I’ve read e-books!) I so greatly appreciate being able to return to this amazing place with thousands of real books I can touch and smell and borrow FOR FREE! Please, start going to the library, I don’t want libraries to ever go extinct.

Mister Dear

Events

There were a number of notable events that blew my mind in 2013. Superbolide Meteor explodes over Russian city Chelyabinsk causing a huge wave of destruction. Whether you are a religious person or not Pope Francis started off his new position in the Catholic church by being a total badass and doing some pretty un-pope like things. The world of 3D printing had me mesmerized and feeling like I had just emerged from a bomb shelter after 50 years into a super science fiction world. The printing of an operable gun didn’t surprise me as much as printing food or the ability to print medical grade spare parts for humans. Freaky future here we come!!!

Killer Rock-N-Roll!!!

Music is always one of the most important things in my life, and 2013 offered a few mind blower and foot movers. The release of Oblivians “Desperation” was one of my faves! It had my feet tapping constantly.  I will never forget the last show at the Hi-Tone with The Barbaras and Oblivians. The Barbaras opened with a wild “Sid & Marty Krofft” themed set of ridiculous costumes, killer rock-n-roll, and puffy cotton ball clouds. The crowd went completely nuts as Steven Pope in the persona of a weird cloud wizard shoved everyone around and kept everyone riled up. Then of course Oblivians set up and tore through a set of old and new tunes finishing with some DJ action and a total dance party that lasted for quite a while after the bands had stopped playing. You should feel bad if you missed it. It will go down as one of my all time favorite shows. Other great shows included the high octane psychedelic rock-n-roll unit Lantern in Fayetteville, getting to see Manateees a few different times, a whole bevy of great bands at “This will kill you” fest in Dallas, and a number of bands during Gonerfest 10. The Blind Shake’s set totally killed me! Cheap Time were great! The Hemingers blew me away. Cuntz left an impression like few others in recent years.

Space is still the Place!

Col. Chris Hadfield became one of my heroes for being such an all around cool dude with his thoughtful documentation of his life on the International Space Station (ISS) during his 3rd and final expedition studying low gravity effects on human biology. My stepson and I watched all of the videos of Chris undergoing very simple experiments, playing music,  and answering questions about what it is like to live in a zero gravity environment. He’s my nerdy Mr.T of the final frontier. After spending so much time watching ISS video feeds the film “Gravity” blew me away with its ability to make you feel as helpless and isolated as Bullocks character trying to survive in a completely alien zero gravity environment.

Jumbo Magic Hot Dogs, Fried Chicken Livers, & Whoopie Pies

I have a real problem with thinking that I need an arsenal of snacks with me at all times while I am traveling. It’s pretty hard for me to pass up buying highway gas station/truck stop fare when stopping for gas or a leg stretch. I have been known to blow excessive amounts on beef jerky, fried chicken livers, Zapps’ crawfish chips, and the like. One mind blower for me in 2013 was “Whoopie Pies”. I somehow managed to live for 40 years on this planet, in the South, without ever once having been exposed to one these excessively sweet terrible things. The cashier even said, “Bless your heart! You ain’t a real Southern boy..” as I bought their “one of a kind” Jalapeno-cornbread whoopie pies.

An Arkansas girl living in Memphis, TN. I love pugs, live music, slasher movies, and absurdity. Send me photos of your favorite hot dogs.

Miss Dear reads too much. Her personal brand is glitter and her favorite accessories are bruises from shows. She is still quite torn up about David Bowie. You can often find her taking pictures of her precious cats or at a dive bar being mediocre at karaoke. She's a PacNW native that loves the South.

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