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Monday, December 26, 2005 - Page updated at 01:11 PM

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NOTE: December's most-read stories will be complete after the first of the year.

Most-read features stories on seattletimes.com

Our top 20 and month-by-month top five features stories for 2005.

OVERALL MOST-READ STORIES

1. Got room for one more?

For about as long as she can remember, Debby Cantlon says, friends and strangers have brought her animals in need: injured crows and blue herons, sick raccoons, all manner of critters needing nursing back to health.

2. Friends with benefits. Buddies. Booty calls. Is this what dating has become?

We met outside the Queen Anne post office. Bob (as I'll call him) was a thirtysomething personal trainer, new in town, recently divorced, and inspired by the day's crisp sunshine. After a few minutes of pleasant chitchat, he handed me his card; not wanting to be found guilty of the infamous Seattle slap-down, I quickly reciprocated. Two hours later, Bob called.

3. Home prices take off in tight market

An abundance of buyers and significant shortage of sellers had King County home prices shooting up last month, with the median price of houses and condos sold on the Eastside hitting $400,000 for the first time.

4. Pornographers embracing iPod

When Apple Computer unveiled the video-capable version of its popular iPod music player this month, it trumpeted the fact that users could download Pixar short films and top music videos, along with recent episodes of "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."

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5. Rich teens newest lovers of luxury goods

When Sydney Ramsden complained she didn't have a purse for her 13th birthday dinner at Manhattan's 21 Club last year, her mother bought her a black nylon bag — a $230 Prada "pochette."

6. One little bump, and now we're all hung up on sex

Awhile back, an article popped up on the Comcast home page suggesting 10 things every single girl needs, including tottery high heels, CDs you hate but will make guys think you're cool and a sexy picture of yourself to hang on your fridge to impress dates. Which made me wonder: How did this sex thing get started?

7. A New York critic sizes up Seattle pizza

When it comes to pizza, I pine for that mythical slice: the perfect pizza of my Philadelphia childhood. That yeasty crust was thin enough to fold over (not that I'd want to; that was a New York affectation), yet sturdy enough to hold the unconscionable amount of "extra cheese" I'd always order.

8. Quarters for your thoughts: Readers share their designs

When we asked for your two cents' worth on the design of the new Washington state quarter, the ideas came pouring forth like the jackpot from a nickel slot. More than 100 readers sent in drawings or electronic renditions of their ideas, and more than 100 of the more artistically modest sent in word descriptions.

9. Wonder what that fetching guy is really like? Take a good look at his dog

If Wendy Diamond were a character on "Sex and the City," she'd have Carrie's wit, Samantha's black book and Charlotte's affection for a pampered pooch. And she'd still be looking for Mr. Right, natch.

10. Will rare redheads be extinct by 2100?

She was just walking down the street with her sister, in her old neighborhood, when an elderly woman stopped her car in front of her and called out, "I love your hair! It's so beautiful!"

11. Check your baggage: It's the men's turn to offer dating complaints

If many women over 40 find the dating scene a dark continent, older single men have their own news to share: It's not all that great for them, either.

12. Curious about your cat?

Animal behaviorists Dr. James Ha and Ellen Leach answered a selection of your cat questions. He is a research associate professor in the psychology department's animal-behavior program at the University of Washington and she has a degree in psychology/animal behavior and is the founder of Behavioral Resources For Cats.

13. Springfield's advice to Seattle on Monorail: D'oh!

Hello, I'm Kent Brockman. On Jan. 14, 1993, "The Simpsons" debuted the episode "Marge vs. The Monorail." Since then, it has turned out to be an animated example of art imitating life - or vice versa.

14. He's a bad dog, but is it really his fault?

" 'Bad' is a human concept," I overheard someone say at a dog park. "Dogs aren't being bad, they're just being dogs."

15. Consequences of casual sex

Some therapists call it "emotional anorexia," or learning to exist without relationships. A potential result of poor parental bonding, it's among the reasons for the apparent rise in casual sex, says Dr. Douglas Weiss, author of books such as "Intimacy: A 100-Day Guide to Lasting Relationships."

16. Staging a Thanksgiving feast, from Act 1 to finale

In the culinary production titled "Thanksgiving" all the table's a stage and all the guests merely waiting for the players. This month you'll find those players vying for attention everywhere you look.

17. Questions on sex? She has answers

Carolyn "Libbey" Livingston (nurse practitioner and Ph.D.) is someone you can tell your secrets to. And we're not talking co-worker crushes or that teeny little fib on your taxes. We're talking S-E-X. As a licensed sex therapist, she's been advocating good sexual health and working with the in-her-opinion-shouldn't-be-taboo topic for nearly 25 years. In other words, she knows her stuff. And she's willing to share it with the whole class.

18. Flipping real estate ... without getting burned

In December, Paul Galasso quit his Costco management job to join his wife, Evelyn, as a full-time real-estate investor.

19. Shoes on! This trend stinks, and my feet are cold

More people are asking house guests to remove their shoes before they come in their homes. What started as a largely Asian custom has become more mainstream, and piles of shoes by the front door commonplace. But is that a good thing? Two writers take a stand.

20. Scientology: What it really is and isn't

Tom Cruise's high-profile trashing of psychiatry should come as no shocker to anyone familiar with his religion. Scientology's position regarding most of psychiatry is comparable to official Catholic teachings about abortion.

MOST-READ STORIES: JANUARY

1. Curious about your cat?

Animal behaviorists Dr. James Ha and Ellen Leach answered a selection of your cat questions. He is a research associate professor in the psychology department's animal-behavior program at the University of Washington and she has a degree in psychology/animal behavior and is the founder of Behavioral Resources For Cats.

2. Bad cat ... bad! A picture of pure distaste for humans

If something horrible happened to Jim Edgar early in his childhood to make him distrust all cats, he says he's successfully managed to repress the memory.

3. The inner workings of your cat

Answer Your Cat's Question Day is Saturday, one of those made-up notable events. Out of fear that cats' questions about us would be on the critical side, we decided to instead ask two local experts questions about cats — and then open the floor to you.

4. The new pearls: think Bush twins, not Barbara

Definitely not Grandmother's pearls. Gone is the stuffy and formal reputation the luminous gems once had.

5. An impolite society needs an introduction to etiquette

Chivalry — etiquette, civility — is often said to be dead: Vice President Dick Cheney hurls an expletive at a U.S. senator; Teresa Heinz Kerry tells a reporter to "shove it"; public-address announcers commonly must remind sports audiences to remove their hats for the playing of the national anthem.

MOST-READ STORIES: FEBRUARY

1. He's a bad dog, but is it really his fault?

" 'Bad' is a human concept," I overheard someone say at a dog park. "Dogs aren't being bad, they're just being dogs."

2. Foods claim slimming powers - so an expert weighs in

In a magazine ad for milk, actress Stockard Channing holds a glass of the white beverage while a printed message below extols milk's ability to "help you burn fat and lose more weight than cutting calories alone."

3. A dwelling on the cheap - you supply the land

With median home costs now exceeding $250,000 in many places around Puget Sound, it's hard to believe that a house — and a brand new one at that — can be had for $100,000 or less. Is there a catch?

4. Die-hard DIY Divas

Welcome, fellow crafters! Today, we're making a quilt about the "explosion of cool" in the crafting and Do-It-Yourself movements, patching together answers to common questions: "Why now?" and "What's knitting got to do with martinis?"

5. From tapas to barbecues, newbies offer a mouthful

A wide world of restaurants still in "grand-opening" mode are offering menus with specialties ranging from Spanish tapas to Brazilian barbecue, Puerto Rican empanadas to New York- style pizzas. Once the debut-dust settles, I look forward to lifting a fork — or a slice — at the following newbies. You, on the other hand, may be less inclined to wait.

MOST-READ STORIES: MARCH

1. Questions on sex? She has answers

Carolyn "Libbey" Livingston (nurse practitioner and Ph.D.) is someone you can tell your secrets to. And we're not talking co-worker crushes or that teeny little fib on your taxes. We're talking S-E-X. As a licensed sex therapist, she's been advocating good sexual health and working with the in-her-opinion-shouldn't-be-taboo topic for nearly 25 years. In other words, she knows her stuff. And she's willing to share it with the whole class.

2. Dumbfounded by your dog?

Animal behaviorists Dr. James Ha and Kathy Sdao answered a selection of your dog questions. He is a research associate professor in the psychology department's animal-behavior program at the University of Washington and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. She has a master's in comparative cognition from the University of Hawaii, is a former zookeeper at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and owns Bright Spot Dog Training in Tacoma.

3. So all we have to do is eat like French women and we won't get fat?

Dining in a foreign country — watching what locals relish, trying new things — is fundamental to travel. It can be the whole reason for making a trip to places where the food is good.

4. Mexican haciendas becoming hot targets for Americans

Onward, the Mexican land rush. Lured by beachfront vistas, quaint colonial backdrops and a historic construction boom, thousands of Americans are heading down Mexico way to snap up vacation homes, retirement villas and investment properties.

5. Hunting for Easter brunch hot spots?

Easter Sunday brings out the brunch bunch: in droves. Got reservations? Well, get on it!

MOST-READ STORIES: APRIL

1. Home prices take off in tight market

An abundance of buyers and significant shortage of sellers had King County home prices shooting up last month, with the median price of houses and condos sold on the Eastside hitting $400,000 for the first time.

2. A New York critic sizes up Seattle pizza

When it comes to pizza, I pine for that mythical slice: the perfect pizza of my Philadelphia childhood. That yeasty crust was thin enough to fold over (not that I'd want to; that was a New York affectation), yet sturdy enough to hold the unconscionable amount of "extra cheese" I'd always order.

3. Friendship keeps them afloat

Sometimes, if you look down to the deep end of Evans Pool in the Green Lake Community Center, you will see a man swimming. He is not the fastest man in the pool; he does not leave anyone in his Speedo'ed wake, nor does he lift his head at the end of the lane, like an otter, to take one last breath before executing a perfect flip turn.

4. "Authentic" Jewish deli to debut; Seattle cooks compete on "Iron Chef"

Hey, you! The guy with the deep voice who's been calling me for years, kvetching incessantly (if good-naturedly) about the lack of "authentic" Jewish deli food in Seattle. Well, guess what, pal? If I'm to believe the pre-opening pitch, we soon should have reason to kvell.

5. Chomsky: It's time to take back our lives

Noam Chomsky is a prodigious generator of books, articles and speeches, who has been talking about politics and world affairs since he was a kid. He made his living as a linguistics professor at MIT and achieved world renown in that role, but his name is stuck in the back of all of our heads because of his ubiquitous political commentaries over the past half-century.

MOST-READ STORIES: MAY

1. Will rare redheads be extinct by 2100?

She was just walking down the street with her sister, in her old neighborhood, when an elderly woman stopped her car in front of her and called out, "I love your hair! It's so beautiful!"

2. Flipping real estate ... without getting burned

In December, Paul Galasso quit his Costco management job to join his wife, Evelyn, as a full-time real-estate investor.

3. He's a good dog, fantastic dancer

People who see the Internet clip of Texas-born Carolyn Scott performing a song from "Grease" with her golden retriever Rookie are riveted to the screen. Thousands have sent her e-mails, many saying they cried with joy.

4. Bringing bliss into the bedroom

Admit it. We're a society of weary heads. Given the pace of modern life, most of us are racing the clock from the moment we wake until we hit the pillow at night.

5. Investors fed up with stocks are scooping up property

On Valentine's Day, the first of about 600 hopefuls began to line up for a three-day vigil outside the sales tent of a Boynton Beach, Fla., developer, to try to nail a condo.

MOST-READ STORIES: JUNE

1. Shoes on! This trend stinks, and my feet are cold

More people are asking house guests to remove their shoes before they come in their homes. What started as a largely Asian custom has become more mainstream, and piles of shoes by the front door commonplace. But is that a good thing? Two writers take a stand.

2. Going toe-to-toe over no-shoe policy

More people are asking house guests to remove their shoes before they come in their homes. What started as a largely Asian custom has become more mainstream, and piles of shoes by the front door commonplace. But is that a good thing? Two writers take a stand.

3. Word-of-mouth sample sales feature high-end products at bargain-basement prices

In-the-know bargain hunters regularly get invited to special events where they snap up designer garb and brand-name products at prices up to 90 percent off retail. They're called sample sales. And here's how you can get in on the deal.

4. Isn't it time to kick flip-flops to the curb?

Why is it that, day after not-quite-summery day, otherwise practical, savvy, street-smart and generally tasteful women insist on slipping slabs of rubber on their feet and slapping around the city? Yes, I'm talking about flip-flops, that utterly irrational fashion trend. Why won't they go away?

5. A Bellevue Trader Vic's

I thought my neighbors Tom and Barb Robinson were the only Trader Vic's-ionados willing to travel the globe for a Tiki Tiki Puka. They've been crying into their pupu platters — eaten elsewhere, unfortunately — since "Trader Vic" Bergeron's Polynesian palace closed in Seattle's Westin hotel back in 1991. So, as it turns out, have Werner and Rosanne Sondheim of Bellevue.

MOST-READ STORIES: JULY

1. Quarters for your thoughts: Readers share their designs

When we asked for your two cents' worth on the design of the new Washington state quarter, the ideas came pouring forth like the jackpot from a nickel slot. More than 100 readers sent in drawings or electronic renditions of their ideas, and more than 100 of the more artistically modest sent in word descriptions.

2. Springfield's advice to Seattle on Monorail: D'oh!

Hello, I'm Kent Brockman. On Jan. 14, 1993, "The Simpsons" debuted the episode "Marge vs. The Monorail." Since then, it has turned out to be an animated example of art imitating life — or vice versa.

3. Scientology: What it really is and isn't

Tom Cruise's high-profile trashing of psychiatry should come as no shocker to anyone familiar with his religion. Scientology's position regarding most of psychiatry is comparable to official Catholic teachings about abortion.

4. Restaurants, diners just want to have sun

It's summer in the city, and let's be honest: Who wants to be inside when they could be outside soaking up those all-too-rare rays of sunshine?

5. Many fans eager for new Harry Potter book, while others have moved on

Harry Potter is growing up, but not as fast as some of his fans.

MOST-READ STORIES: AUGUST

1. Here's a good yarn: Knitting fans keep eye on the ball

No one hawked skeins of cashmere in the 300 Level at Safeco Field last night. But oh, think if they had. More than 1,600 baseball fans blissfully knitting. The crack of the bat. The feel of soft, supple yarn in hand.

2. Bold bedding from West Seattle's Sin in Linen

Sandy Glaze spent months coaxing skeptical manufacturers to produce fabric printed with racy blond pinups for her one-woman operation, Sin in Linen.

3. Waste not, want not? The truth about food going bad

True or false: You can leave coffee in the pot and drink it the next day.

4. Cobblers, crisps and crumbles to warm the heart

The fragrant fruit desserts known as cobblers, crisps and crumbles are in a class of their own. They're much easier to make than pies because there's no bottom crust to underbake or stick to the pan. And they have all of the intense fruit flavor that makes pies so universally loved.

5. "Somebodies" share their keys to success

Physicist and Washington native Douglas Osherhoff never really had much self-confidence, but his work earned him a Nobel Prize anyway.

MOST-READ STORIES: SEPTEMBER

1. Lessons in restoring a Craftsman

Kristen and John McPherson knew it was the one. The couple got as far as the front door and knew they had found their dream home: a 1926 classic Craftsman in historic downtown Snohomish.

2. Readers ask: What's your favorite Italian restaurant?

"What's your favorite Italian restaurant?" Ask two friends — or 20 — and chances are they'll tell you about some "great little place" close to home. One that's owned by a guy named, say, Salvatore, Lorenzo, Gaspare or Mauro. Ask me what's the best Italian restaurant in Greater Seattle (everybody does!) and I couldn't name one. But I will point you in the direction of some of my favorites — and the talented people behind them.

3. Popular Web site MySpace attracts teens, but some parents concerned

Browsing MySpace.com, with its bikini-clad pictures and graphic language, was enough to convince Jeff Allen to say "no way" to his daughter's request to join friends on the hugely popular social-networking site.

4. Thanks to stylist Rachel Zoe, Hollywood's red carpet has taken on a new pattern

At some point over the past few months, it began to feel like an assembly line: Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan ...

5. Porn: It's here, it's there, it's everywhere ...

An elderly woman seated next to me on a recent flight asked about the books I was carrying. I showed her "Pornified" and "Female Chauvinist Pigs," both bristling with bookmarked pages. I hurriedly explained the books were about pornography, not actually the smutty stuff itself.

MOST-READ STORIES: OCTOBER

1. Got room for one more?

For about as long as she can remember, Debby Cantlon says, friends and strangers have brought her animals in need: injured crows and blue herons, sick raccoons, all manner of critters needing nursing back to health.

2. Pornographers embracing iPod

When Apple Computer unveiled the video-capable version of its popular iPod music player this month, it trumpeted the fact that users could download Pixar short films and top music videos, along with recent episodes of "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives."

3. One little bump, and now we're all hung up on sex

Awhile back, an article popped up on the Comcast home page suggesting 10 things every single girl needs, including tottery high heels, CDs you hate but will make guys think you're cool and a sexy picture of yourself to hang on your fridge to impress dates. Which made me wonder: How did this sex thing get started?

4. Check your baggage: It's the men's turn to offer dating complaints

If many women over 40 find the dating scene a dark continent, older single men have their own news to share: It's not all that great for them, either.

5. Readers share their tales of workplace champs — and chumps

Bosses. We love them, we hate them ... but mostly we hate them. At least that's the story from our readers, whose tales of awful bosses outnumbered good-boss stories 6 to 1. Perhaps these victims of screamers, control freaks and taskmasters have more of an urge to vent; or maybe we think complimenting the top dog is a job for toadies.

MOST-READ STORIES: NOVEMBER

1. Rich teens newest lovers of luxury goods

When Sydney Ramsden complained she didn't have a purse for her 13th birthday dinner at Manhattan's 21 Club last year, her mother bought her a black nylon bag — a $230 Prada "pochette."

2. Wonder what that fetching guy is really like? Take a good look at his dog

If Wendy Diamond were a character on "Sex and the City," she'd have Carrie's wit, Samantha's black book and Charlotte's affection for a pampered pooch. And she'd still be looking for Mr. Right, natch.

3. Staging a Thanksgiving feast, from Act 1 to finale

In the culinary production titled "Thanksgiving" all the table's a stage and all the guests merely waiting for the players. This month you'll find those players vying for attention everywhere you look.

4. War blog rings true for many

Back in February, one month into his stay in Iraq, writer Michael Yon almost ended his attempt to chronicle the war in an online blog. He lacked the backing of a newspaper, magazine or book publisher, and grew weary of the risks of life in a combat zone as he embedded with U.S. troops.

5. Freak-dancing fallout: Time to change the tune

"Ms. Sheppard, do you think we're sluts?" Mary slid into her seat and asked the question that, as it became apparent, had been on the minds of many of my freshmen students that Monday morning a couple of years ago. They knew I had chaperoned the high-school dance on Friday night and had had my first exposure to "freak dancing."

MOST-READ STORIES: DECEMBER

1. Friends with benefits. Buddies. Booty calls. Is this what dating has become?

We met outside the Queen Anne post office. Bob (as I'll call him) was a thirtysomething personal trainer, new in town, recently divorced, and inspired by the day's crisp sunshine. After a few minutes of pleasant chitchat, he handed me his card; not wanting to be found guilty of the infamous Seattle slap-down, I quickly reciprocated. Two hours later, Bob called.

2. Consequences of casual sex

Some therapists call it "emotional anorexia," or learning to exist without relationships. A potential result of poor parental bonding, it's among the reasons for the apparent rise in casual sex, says Dr. Douglas Weiss, author of books such as "Intimacy: A 100-Day Guide to Lasting Relationships."

3. Mayday! It's the Dave Barry Gift Guide

Hark! Do you hear that sound? It's "Frosty the Snowman." For the eighth or ninth time today! And that thud? Why, that's Dad, falling off the ladder. And if you listen really, really hard, you can hear, softly in the distance, the sounds of shoppers trading punches over parking spots at the mall. No doubt about it: The holidays are here!

4. How to survive holiday gatherings with your political-opposite relatives

It was talk about Ronald Reagan that almost sent Patricia Loera, a Democrat, huffing out of the car. She was with her brother Joe, driving home to Ellensburg. A pair of college students on winter break.

5. Putting the X in Xmas: Crossing names off your holiday-card list

Holiday greeting cards, industry sources say, first appeared in Germany about 1450. Which, by our calculations, means it was probably November 1451 when someone first asked the thorny question, "Honey, should we drop the Schultzes from our Christmas-card list this year?"

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