Review 2003:
What was the best thing which happened to you in 2003?

My baby boy Storm Alexander was born 7/18.
Drew Curtis, Fark

Probably the birth of my niece, Victoria, in May. She's the first offspring of me and my siblings, and I was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing this brand-new person whom I just knew, in some deep-down visceral way, belonged to me, was a little bit a part of me. I never expected anything like that. Plus, she kinda looks like me, which is neat. I can't wait to be a bad influence on her as she grows up.
MaryAnn Johanson, Film Critic, FlickFilosopher

Taking my boy to Disneyland for the first time. What a treat to see it through his eyes!
Greg Mariotti formerly of The Uncool: Cameron Crowe Online and cigarettes & coffee.

A couple of hours spent roaming the rockpools at Marsden (between Sunderland and South Shields) in July was the best moment of my year. It was a perfect summer's day and I was with my friend Suzy, her 18-month old son, Luke and my dog, Maxa. There was hardly anyone else there. It was Luke's first time on the beach and he was fascinated with everything - the sand, seaweed, water, stones, little crabs and Maxa's ball. There was lots for Maxa to sniff and her ball carried far when thrown, bouncing beautifully on the wet sand. I will remember it for years to come. A perfect moment.
Denise Raine, Librarian, The Henry Moore Institute

The best thing would have to be the fact that, my oldest brother, who was involved in an accident with his motorcycle, exactly a year ago, is still recovering. He suffered severe injuries to his skull and wasn't expected to survive at all. After 8 months of treatment, and nothing but hopes and prayers, he recovered speech and some movement. In a few days we'll have him home for Christmas.
Celeste Lanari, PR Manager, Geotecnica S.R.L

Doctor Who coming back? Hmmm. Probably going to Paris to celebrate my 30th birthday. Having been once before when I was about 13, my previous memories of this great city consisted of turning up early in the morning, having a croissant, trying in vain to persuade my dad to stop at the interesting looking comic shop, and then getting a seriously bad case of the shits. However, there was one other memory that almost literally stood out from that first trip - the Eiffel Tower. Not that I am particularly bothered about it most of the time, but I found that when I was actually in Paris it seemed to beckon like a siren. The same was true on the return visit. Consequently on the actual day of my birthday, my girlfriend and I made it to the top of the tower and were able to look out over the city on a scorching hot day, and mentally hum Dudley Simpson piano music (well I did anyway). It was nice to tie such a specific memory to what is - I suppose - a genuine milestone in my life.
Jack Kibble-White, Off The Telly and TV Cream

Celebrating my 40th in London among friends. A very happy moment.
Caroline van Oosten de Boer, prolific and Whedonesque

Following our move to Portland Oregon in 2002, 2003 as been a year of settling into our home, and the change has been just wonderful. Almost every day I still think to myself "wow, this is so cool! I don't live in Los Angeles anymore!"
Miles Hochstein, Documented Life

Living in Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, Romania.
Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, Photographer, Leaf Pile

There are a few things that I did in 2003 that I'm pretty chuffed with, but if I'm going to be pedantically semantic about it, the best thing to happen to me this year was my trip to New York in October. I had been planning a two week holiday to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle in July, but that got cancelled when my life imploded. Later in the year a friend of mine, Stuart, decided that it would be cool to go and see Eddie Izzard play at the City Center in New York in October. He booked the tickets and the hotel, and sorted out the travel arrangements. All I had to do was pack and turn up. It was, without a doubt, one of the best weekends of the year, and not entirely because it was the first time I'd left the country in 14 years. New York is just an amazing city. Manhattan took my breath away. I loved it, loved every last second of it. Even if we did stay in a hotel which really should have been called 'The Nylon Plaza'. And, of course, Eddie was spectacular. Dressed in a skirt and bodice with his very own chicken fillets, he looked utterly gorgeous as he always does. I laughed so much I was in danger of rupturing a spleen or other anonymous organ. It was an absolutely awesome weekend.
Suw Charman, Chocolate and Vodka

I went to Vienna to give a keynote speech at the Blogtalk Conference. It was my first trip to Europe, and I've always wanted to go.
Rebecca Blood, Blogger and Author

The best thing which happened to me personally was ... Spending 3 weeks travelling round Spanish Villages in the heat wave in August with Julie, my girlfriend, and getting a hugely enviable tan and achieving a much needed state of total relaxation. I then had to return to work but was over the moon to hear I had won a trip (5*, all expenses paid) to Montreaux, Geneva. I went, I ate, I drank, I even danced a little at a Sveedish DISCO and made a few valuable contacts within the business.
Ben Birtwistle, Fine Art Printmaker and 'financial advisor'

I don't know exactly how to answer the 2003 questions -- my entire year has been spent either in Iraq or stuck on the Jordanian/Iraqi border or in Amman (the world's dullest city) or waiting out the U.S. invasion of Iraq in Cairo -- and it's been such an obsession (I'm filming a documentary series in Iraq now) that I haven't really been able to think about anything else.
James Longley, Documentary Filmmaker, Gaza Strip

At the beginning of the year I didn't dream that my answer to a question like that would be a trip to Leeds. I'd all planned to go to London, finally see Shakespeare's Globe and Tate Britain and see a movie at the Odeon Leicester Square. But weird finances caused a change in those plans. But I'd never really gotten over my time at University, forever thinking about how I could have done better, enjoyed the experience more, have more stories to tell. But ten years later, standing in the university hall and outside the two houses that followed I realized that actually it was exactly what it should have been, for me. If it had been all lovely I might have left with an inability to see the big picture and would missed those pieces I really did enjoy. I might chide myself for not going out on this night or that night, or following my heart instead of my head at other times, but perhaps what followed could have scared me away from taking the risks I took later as a reaction to my timidness then and missed these later experiences. I mostly learnt that everything balances itself out .... eventually ....
Stuart Ian Burns, feeling listless

Well, I have to throw out the first pitch and say "the health and well-being of my family." It's corny - but true. That, and the return of Opus to the comic pages. Where HAS he been for the last 10 years?
Steve Safran, Executive Producer, NECN: New England Cable News & Columnist,
Lost Remote

Continued to live in a peaceful country, without fear of being blown up in a restaurant, kidnapped, stopped at a police check, tortured, shot as I stood outside my house; in a country that has clean water, clean streets, clean air, and grocery stores filled with food; a country that enjoys a great standard of living because it's political system, while not perfect, is by far the best.
Mike Brown, the pepys project

That's easy: it's a tie between two things. The sharp pointy one with the time stamp: I got married, on June 28th, to my long-term partner. The long blunt thing that took forever: I finally gave up the day job to devote my time to writing fiction.
Charlie Stross, Writer, weblog

My freelance career really taking off so that I can finally support myself purely on the money I make from writing. I was particularly chuffed when my writing started getting syndicated to Russia and the US, cos it's cool having articles published in countries I haven't even been to.
Emily Dubberley, Founder of cliterati and Dubberly

Have to say, seein' the credits for my Santa Baby in Party Monster.
Cynthia Basinet, Entertainer

My best moment in 2003 was sitting in my kitchen and listening to Who Wears The Trousers going out on Radio 4. It took me over a year to research and write. It was my first solo series commission and I was very happy with how it turned out. It was, in every sense, a job well done.
Emma Kennedy, Actress, Writer and Comedienne

Working with Sir Derek Jacobi.
Jason Haigh-Ellery, Producer, The Audio Adventures of Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions

There are many, but recording with Terry Hall for his new album was a definite highlight.
Eva Katzler, Singer

Being invited to contribute to the BBC's 100 Greatest sitcoms programme. Tragically, nothing came of it, so my robust and eloquent defence of the peerless Love Thy Neighbour will remain unspoken to the Great British public. Bah, humbug!
Cameron Borland, Off The Telly

A number of lovely commissions I got towards the end of the year. I'm now working largely on my own stuff, and entirely on material I enjoy, which is very satisfying, and makes up for a bit of a creative desert this summer. I also found editing the Bernice anthology Life During Wartime really satisfying.
Paul Cornell, Writer, British Summertime

Probably my first solo book, Join Me, coming out - and then the fact that people liked it. Apart from the reviewer who said 'this is a pointless book by a pointless man', which made me laugh so much tea came out of my nose.
Danny Wallace, Writer, Join Me

A high school kid in Maryland sent me the term paper he wrote on Spellbound. Man, a term paper has never given anyone such pleasure. Left me feeling proud and weird and tingly.
Jeff Blitz, Filmmaker, Amateur Magician, Spellbound

I got some more writing work, and might even get paid for some of it one day. There is more to me than being an office bod after all (please god). I also found a tenner in Asda on a day when all I had in the world was £10. My personal fortune doubled in a day.
Nick Jones, Web Editor, National Museums Liverpool

I got to see my grandma again. She's 93, I hadn't seen her in twenty years, and to reconnect with her was just the greatest gift. Drinking wine in my mother's stuffy basement, with all of my uncles and aunts, listening to stories I'd long forgotten, and stories about her early life that I'd never known; it was like something out of a movie, and it may have been the best time I've had in decades, let alone 2003. I get all misty just thinking about it. She is an amazing woman who has lived a interesting life and I love her so madly. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Kat Sagbottom, Headmistress of the Sagbottom Home For Wayward Girls

I survived.
Rowan Kerek, Editor, The Collective

New input:

After more than a year of being unemployed, working for no money and doing jobs you didn't go to uni for, the best thing was that I finally found work, which I'm really looking forward to. I am moving to Scotland next week and I have no idea what its gonna be like.
Kristina Perner, Audiopark

Tomorrow: In general, which one thing in 2003 will have the most lasting consequences?

Review 2003: Introduction.

One two. Two zeros. One three. Reduced to its bare bones, the figure 2003 isn't all that special. In fact, nestled between the palindromic 2002 and the multiple friendly 2004 it's quite dull really. At the turn of the year it seemed to lack significance as well. With the debates over the true millennium and the disappointing tragedy of the time that followed, it's not hard to see why few people even thought anything truly significant would happen this year. On a personal level, with all the excitement of the Commonwealth Games and Paris behind me this would be the morning after the wild night before, in which reality again took the place of fantasy and I would be enduring the ongoing grind of work.

But this first complete year of the weblog has been busy, talking about events happening globally and personally. The world has again, at first hand, watched cause and effect in action, choices and actions piling on top of one another to the extent that our news programmes are a patchwork of anger and mayhem. The writing here has mixed the elation of the lifting cloud of the past with the crushing realization that my future really starts next year and I'm going to be making choices which could effect the rest of my life.

The perfect time then to take stock, pitch camp and consider the future. Unlike previous festive seasons where I've written about the many things I've been drawn to during the year I thought I would let the people I've met online or whose work I've written about and enjoyed over the past twelve months talk about how it was for them. I sent each contributor five questions and I'll be publishing their responses in the days leading up to new leap year. Their answers are often funny, usually startling and incredibly poignant. They prove that no matter how mundane you think your life is sometimes, someone else, somewhere else is doing something incredible, and that you're just waiting your turn. I hope you enjoy this stroll through the recent past and if something sparks your interest or you want to offer your own answers you can email at the usual address, feelinglistless (at) btopenworld (dot) com.

Tomorrow: What was the best thing which happened to you personally in 2003?
That Day Apparently there is this festival called Christmas. Everybody is talking about it. Sounds like it could be big. I hope everyone enjoys the thing while it lasts. It could take at least a year to happen again ...
Radio That said, I prefer the BBC News over everyone else (well I'm a very contradictory person) so I'm interested to see that Radio 4's The Today Programme is getting some guest editors including Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Professor Stephen Hawking. I hope they also get to present a bit as well -- listening to Hawking is always a mesmerising experience.
TV Quick TV pick. A friend recommends you watch The Young Visiters on BBC1 on Boxing Day. It apparently features a standout performance from someone called Sally Hawkins (who was previously in the Mike Leigh film All or Nothing.) Looking forward to it.
TV The day was only marred in fact by the smirksome attitude throughout the day of some presenters to this story of a man who was eaten by a crocodile in Australia. For example, at 2pm after the delivering the news, Philip Hayton turned to the sports presenter and asked (and I'm paraphrasing) 'So are there many crocodiles in the Premiership?' Erm hello, a man died. In a vicious attack. While his friends could do nothing and watch. And you're not Chris Morris. If this is the new-look BBC News 24, can we have the old one back please, they seemed kinder for all the technical hitches ....
Life My first full weekday at come in months true to the last couple of days felt like a Saturday (see previous post). Watched In The Bleak Midwinter Watched the documentary about The Sex Pistols, The Filfth and the Fury. My friend Chris visited with my first Christmas presents (thanks Chris!). Just a nice, relaxing post work, pre-Christmas day.
Life This has been a working weekend with an early morning start. Here I am, then, at 10:27 uttery shattered and thinking about going to bed. The other problem is that it feels like mid week -- a Wednesday, so I am totally confused. Tomorrow should then feel like a Thursday, and since, like Arthur Dent I can never get the hang of Thursdays that should be a great start to Christmas week.
History The title is utterly evocative. George Washington: Patriot, President, Planter and Purveyor of Distilled Spirits.
Music Another one for the long list of pointless cover versions. Amy Studt covers All I Wanna Do by Sheryl Crow and somehow manages to sap all of the cool out of it. Loses even further points by setting the video in a diner even though the narrative of the lyrics is all about a bar -- in other words they like the chorus, very catchy, but all those other lyrics are just filler. Actually they're the point of the song. [link requires Real One]
Buffy(ish) For anyone registered with The New York Times here is an interesting piece about fan made special features for DVDs, in this case the Joss Whedon series Firefly. At one point, the man himself having viewed the fans efforts said he once thought about putting out a rival commentary for Alien Resurection (for which he wrote the original script) but thought better of it in case he got sued. Shame. But there is some milage in this no doubt. [via Whedonesque]
Film Steve Rosenblum has been working in film editing for nearly twenty years, and with exception such as X-Men he's collaborated almost exclusively with Ed Zwick, he of Glory, The Siege and of course thirtysomething Here he talks to MovieMaker Magazine about that collaboration and working on the new film The Last Samurai, and proving my long held belief that editors hardly ever look at the script:
"I read the script and I may refer back to it a couple of times during the editing, but I hardly use it at all. I’m a disaster on some levels to script supervisors. My assistants use their notes all the time, but I don’t because the things I’m interested in are not whether the actor matches what he did previously; you can always find ways around the technical problems. The emotional through-lines are really what editing is about—and storytelling is really what it is. It’s sort of musical storytelling."
He also makes seemingly non-sensical point about The Matrix and character -- then I remembered Reloaded and let it go.
TV Yet again, TV Cream dredge up that great television you wish you'd seen from the past. In their bumper Christmas newsletter hamper, we have the following, The Curious Case of Santa Clause:
"Part of Channel 4's very first Christmas line-up, this little known oddity was written by former The Good Life mastermind Bob Larbey.And amazingly it was actually quite good. The peculiar show took a 'wry' look at how a modern day psychiatrist might regard the mental state of one Father Christmas. For once appearing in a role that wasn't Dr Who, Worzel Gummidge or a chat show guest bemoaning the fact that Dr Who was never as good after he left the show and toasting the fact that 'The Ghosts Of N-Space' as "number one in the hit parade!", Jon Pertwee filled the role of the psychiatrist, and for some reason elected to play him as a stereotyped New York 'shrink'. Thankfully, though, the audience was spared his previous habit of continually referring to other characters as 'mac' while playing Americans. Interestingly, Larbey apparently wanted to call the show "Is Santa Schizo?", but was overruled by C4 who felt it was in rather poor taste. Who'd have thought it?"
I know. That sounds exactly like the sort of title they would give a show like that now. You could do worse also than check out the Off The Telly Festive Television section for a more scholarly approach to the schedules ooking as far back as the 1970s...

The Tv Creamers also offer their formula for creating the perfect Christmas number one, which The Darkness would do well to read, now that something which is actually quite good from a year old film has unnaccountably been crowned this year. The Pop Idols at number five. Avid Merrion at number four despite treating us to a cut price version of the video to Perfect Day with a whole raft of minor celebs (and Bob Geldof (?)). Would someone like to explain to me how John Leslie can go from wanting to sue Mark Wright for libel a year ago to hugging and dancing with him in this promo. That's hatchet burying of the highest order...