Best Cat 2013 | Tardar Sauce (a.k.a. Grumpy Cat) | People & Places | Phoenix

We tried to see Grumpy Cat in person once. It was awful. And we say this only because the famous frowny feline of Internet fame wound up canceling. "Good," as we're sure she would say. The viewing was supposed to happen during an appearance by Tardar Sauce at last year's Great Southwest Scooter Fiesta in Gilbert before owner Tabatha Bundesen, who resides in the Valley, nixed the "interview" due to an overwhelming amount of media appearances at the time. And things haven't slowed down since. For the three of you not familiar with Tardar Sauce's backstory, the renowned sourpuss suffers from feline dwarfism, which causes her famous frown. Bundesen's brother posted a photo of Tardar to Reddit a year ago on a whim, and overnight fame ensued. The Internet found its newest hero, and Grumpy Cat's frown became the face that launched millions of memes. And make no mistake: Grumpy Cat was the biggest meme of 2012. (Sorry, Bad Luck Brian.) And this year looks to be even bigger. She's everywhere — on TV, in commercials, even in her own book. A movie reportedly is in the works, as is "Grumppucino" iced coffee beverages with her now-iconic mug on the label. And now a Best of Phoenix plaque to go along with it. Wonder what she'll say? Oh, yeah, that's right.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Cans are the best package for beer. Easier to ship and recycle, faster to cool, better at protecting the beer from sunlight and oxygen, shotgun-friendly — the upsides abound. Also numerous are the reasons we selected AmeriCAN as this year's best fest. The beer, of course, is a big one, with our city's best canned brews touching aluminum with stuff not available in our state any other time, like offerings from Sixpoint Brewery out of New York, 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, and Florida's Cigar City Brewing Co. This year's venue — the open and shade-providing Scottsdale Civic Center — is another. Even the people pouring the beers, usually volunteers uneducated on their products, were improved, as the festival sponsors at SanTan Brewing Co. decided to recruit members of the Arizona Society of Homebrewers and the beer geek community at large.

Bigger isn't always better but, not uncommonly, it is more fun. Every April, the Scottsdale League for the Arts puts on a weeklong culinary festival that draws thousands of attendees to dozens of events. It would take a team of rabid foodies to get to them all, but that's part of the beauty of this giant festival: You get to pick and choose what you see, eat, and experience. Prior to the 35th annual event, the organization hosted a Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner that brought an all-star lineup of chefs to the Valley. And during the week, we indulged our sweet tooth with Country and Sergio Velador's brutti ma buoni, an Italian-style cookie, at the Chocolate and Wine Experience; ate more burgers than we can count at the Burger Battle; and boozed it up at the Shaken and Stirred cocktail party at Searsucker. The organizers saved the best event for last, though, and after our memorable meal crafted by chef Josh Hebert at Posh's table at the Best of the Fest dinner, we're already looking forward hungrily to next year.

Several generations of Valley art lovers have cut their creative teeth at this huge spring festival, where juried exhibitors from all over the country sell wares from paintings to sculptures to handcrafted toys and jewelry. In recent years, local food trucks have appeared on the scene, and with outdoor entertainment and a kids' craft section, you can indoctrinate a new generation and make a day of it.

Georganne Bryant's been throwing her annual Crafeteria for only a few years, but it's already become a Phoenix holiday tradition, with good reason: No one curates a finer selection of Valley-based artisans than Bryant, whose stores Frances and Smeeks are testament to her impeccable taste and championing of the local scene. We look forward to seeing old friends, meeting new artists, and getting most of our Christmas shopping done in one fell swoop. How many days till Crafeteria?

No one would have blamed the McDowell Mountain Music Festival crew for throwing in the towel. Twenty-twelve was, after all, a bruising year for festival organizer John Largay and his staff: Last year, the festival competed against the massive Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in relatively nearby Indio, California, as well as Country Thunder in Florence, and MMMF's venue, the Compound Bar and Grill, closed its doors.

But rather than take 2013 off to recuperate, Largay and company came back hard. Real hard. The 2013 installment of the festival featured its best lineup ever, with the Roots, the Shins, Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, Umphrey's McGee, JGB, Dr. Dog, and more offering the most satisfying take on the festival's particular fusion — indie rock meets jam band — in a new and improved home, Margaret T. Hance Park in the heart of Phoenix.

Always quick to incorporate Phoenix bands, MMMF hired locals like Kongos, Ladylike, and Jared and the Mill to perform on a large side stage in the shadow of Burton Barr Public Library, near local artisan vendors and plenty of food and beer outposts. Smartly avoiding the festival crunch by hosting the festivities in temperate March, MMMF 2013 felt like a breath of fresh air for the festival and its attendees, and it worked out: MMMF has signed on for another edition of the festival in Hance Park in 2014.

Every city should have its own independent film festival, and even we were surprised by the talent at this year's Phoenix Film Festival. The weeklong event at Harkins Scottsdale 101 featured limited-release films — ranging from horror and sci-fi to comedies, love stories, and dramas — from all over the country. The best part was the post-screening Q&As with directors, actors, and producers, which gave Phoenicians a chance to mingle with up-and-coming talent in the movie industry. It's well worth the money to splurge for a full-event pass for $150, so you can hit up every movie. A further splurge to become a VIP pass holder ($250) will get you first access into every movie. However, you can also purchase single movie tickets for $12 if you just want to see one or two films during the week. Next year's event is slotted for April 3 through 10, and we can't wait to see the talent it brings to town.

When indie film buffs and cult classic connoisseurs want to see their cinema on the big screen, there's no cooler destination than downtown Phoenix's FilmBar. The Roosevelt Row film house, which doubles as a bar, caters to a less-mainstream crowd of movie watchers, offering a selection of foreign, independent, old, new, and local films that might otherwise be hard to find in Phoenix. When the screen goes black, the evening carries on in FilmBar's low-lit yet colorful front-of-house lounge, where First Friday patrons and the nightly theater crowd can socialize over live music, DJs, and the bar's selection of craft beer and wine. Whether they're sipping imported beers in the lounge or watching imported films on the screen, locals can agree that FilmBar is a petri dish of Phoenix culture.

In the age of online streaming, movie-watching has become an all too casual affair. For most of us, seeing the latest flick boils down to a Netflix account, microwave popcorn, and a pair of threadbare sweatpants. Which is why if we're going to put on real pants, we're going to go all out with our movie-screening experience. At Scottsdale Quarter's luxury iPic movie theater, filmgoers can feel like Hollywood VIPs with reserved spacious leather seats, craft beer, a self-serve wine bar, optional in-theater service, and an extensive menu of substantial theater fare like filet sliders, firecracker shrimp, and cheesecake brûlée. Guests can even enjoy some pre- or post-show entertainment at iPic's conjoined Tanzy restaurant or its stocked bar, Salt. For filmgoers who love convenience as much as they do the finer things, admission to the iPic theater is a high-value ticket well worth the purchase price.

One of the most important assets to any good movie theater is the popcorn. Super Saver Cinemas 8 has great popcorn. Oh, yeah, and tickets are just $3 every day except for Tuesday, when they're only $1.50. There are eight movies running at any one time, ranging from children's fare to horror flicks. So, if you don't want to pay about $10 per ticket, just wait a little while and you'll be able to catch that movie you've been wanting to see without destroying your weekly entertainment budget.

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