The Forty Best Records of 2013

There are twice as many as last year! That’s because this was a pretty good year, all things considered. Please note: these are in absolute order by quality, and anyone who believes anything different is clearly and obviously wrong. Also notice that both Talib Kweli’s excellent Gravitas and The Thing’s Boot came out too late for me to figure out where they would be. Also please note that this year there are three Liz Harris albums. At this rate by the end of 2014 this blog will consist at least 50% of entries that read “Liz Harris Liz Harris Liz Harris Liz Harris”. Anyway.The fifty best songs of the second half of the year will go up in the next few days.

1. Tim Hecker – Virgins
2. Kanye West – Yeezus
3. Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven
4. Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap
5. Bill Callahan – Dream River
6. Jason Isbell – Southeastern
7. My Bloody Valentine – mbv
8. Grouper – The Man Who Died on His Boat
9. El-P & Killer Mike – Run the Jewels
10. Pharmakon – Abandon
11. Travi$ Scott – Owl Pharoah
12. Xiu Xiu & Eugene S. Robinson – Sal Mineo
13. Merzbow, Balazs Pandi & Mats Gustaffson – Cuts
14. Bottomless Pit – Shade Perennial
15. The Underachievers – Lords of Flatbush
16. Rich Kidd, Tona & Adam Bomb – Naturally Born Strangers
17. The Sadies – Internal Sounds
18. Boris – Praparat
19. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris
20. Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol 3: To See More Light
21. Willis Earl Beale – Nobody Knows
22. Melt Banana – Fetch
23. clipping. – midcity
24. Raum – The Event of Your Leaving
25. The Future of the Left – How to Stop Your Brain in an Accident
26. Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – What the Brothers Sang
27. Various Artists – Saint Heron
28. Grant Hart – The Argument
29. Danny Brown – Old
30. Low – The Invisible Way
31. Jesu – Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came
32.  Death Grips – Government Plates
33. Russian Circles – Memorial
34. The Dead C – Armed Courage
35. Dan Friel – Total Folklore
36. Eluvium – Nightmare Ending
37. C. Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee & Lasse Marhaug – Wake Up Awesome
38. Body/Head – Coming Apart
39. Slow Walkers – Slow Walkers
40. Don Trip & Starlito – Step Brothers 2

Who The Fuck Listens to This – What The….

2013 was an auspicious year for long-dormant bands returning. My Bloody Valentine’s mbv came out after twenty-two years and turned out to be just fantastic. David Bowie made a record – as a surprise – that stood out as the best thing he’s recorded in decades. Boards of Canada were only gone for seven years, but it still came as a happy surprise when Tomorrow’s Harvest rolled through the gate. Hell, even the Avalanches stirred a bit more than they usually do1. 2013, in short, was the year to come back.

Black Flag is the kind of band that people devote themselves to slavishly – even in 2013, it wouldn’t be too hard to find a clatch of kids who knew their work as well now as that congruent set of kids would have in 1980. And, although I find myself listening to them less these days, I was deeply into them as an adolescent, to the point where when they pop up on Pandora stations or my iPod, I’m still surprised with how well I still know that work. So really: the answer to the titular question of this post should ostensibly be: me. I the fuck would listen to this. But wait, there’s more.

Black Flag existed, originally, for nine years. In that time, they released six studio albums, 9 and a half2 EPs/singles3, three compilations (only one of which is a traditional best-of, and it came out right after their first full-length album) and three live albums. Their career also divides itself neatly along the axis of a lawsuit from Unicorn records: before Unicorn they were a hardcore band that was moving in a heavier and heavier direction, after Unicorn they were a heavy metal band who was moving away from hardcore. In their hardcore period they ran through four singers – Keith Morris (now in OFF!), Chavo Pederast (now known as Ron Reyes and, well, more on him in a minute), Dez Cadena (who moved to guitar eventually4), and Henry Rollins. It’ll matter, so a bit more on the singers: Keith Morris was unquestionably the greatest hardcore vocalist there’s ever been, and “Nervous Breakdown,” the lone Black Flag release he sang on, is the best hardcore had to offer, and one of the best punk records in general ever made. He left because he wanted to party more (as noble a reason as any), and formed the Circle Jerks, who were never as great. Ron Reyes replaced him and spent their first tours (and also the Jealous Again single) doing a Johnny Rotten impression that, over time, became a Keith Morris impression. Dez Cadena replaced Reyes and brought down the vocal tone, which paved the way for then-fan Henry Rollins to replace him and finish out Black Flag’s run (bear in mind, Rollins was their fourth vocalist in four years – this all happens before 1981).

They also went through seven million drummers and a small village’s worth of bass players.

Henry Rollins’ capability as a screamer and willingness to be more musical meant that the Black Flag that made Damaged was a band that was just about to leave the subgenre they’d created. And then, rather than document their progress through prolificacy as they had been, they got sued by Unicorn records for boring contract-related stuff and spent three years not releasing anything, at which point they made their remaining five studio records (as well as the two live records and a handful of EPs) in two years. The first record back, My War, is a fantastic sludge-metal record that had to be sold to a hardcore crowd (which, in 1984, was basically the same as it is now: authenticity-obsessed, unwilling to spend time on things that were unfamiliar, and very young), and they move from there to the decidedly-less-essential, while also trying to produce their records to take advantage of Rollins’ burgeoning celebrity and get some airplay. Generally speaking, the last couple of Black Flag records are kind of a disaster.

Then the band broke up, and their maestro and constant member, Greg Ginn, who wrote all of the songs, invented a pretty unique way of playing the guitar, and ran the band and its label up from literally nothing to a place of notability, with SST records especially going on to be quite a big deal in the mid to late eighties5, would go on to be in a dozen or so bands, releasing records regularly through the ensuing couple of decades. The records (most of which I haven’t heard) are generally said to represent a series of diminishing returns, and have precious little to do with Black Flag except for the occasional presence of Greg Ginn’s guitar, which still basically sounds like that.

Then there were the bubbles: for awhile it wasn’t uncommon to hear about bands having to sue SST for any royalties, for the ownership of their back catalogs, and for all sorts of other malfeasance. I’m not aware of anyone who dealt with SST records who has anything particularly good to say about them. Then, in the oughts, Henry Rollins put out a benefit record for the West Memphis 3 that featured a bunch of Black Flag songs, covered by Henry Rollins and an assemblage of fans and former Black Flag members, that Greg Ginn tried to stop, and then publicly bitched about while he went on tour with the first Black Flag reunion – him, Dez Cadena, Robo (the second-best drummer) and C’el (the fourth-best bassist). This is the point at which it became clear that Greg Ginn continued to believe that Black Flag was still whatever group of musicians he assembled to perform the songs he wrote.

And then, last year, when FLAG (Bill Stevenson, the best Black Flag drummer, Keith Morris, the best Black Flag singer, and Chuck Dukowski, the best Black Flag bassist) toured, Greg Ginn sued them for using the trademark that he owned. He lost his injunction, and this is where the story became interesting.

In their first existence, Black Flag was pretty unquestionably Greg Ginn and whatever group of musicians he assembled to perform the songs he wrote6. Then, at some point, people decided they were not interested in what Greg Ginn was calling Black Flag anymore. And in this way, he had become hoist by his own petard – he had moved a band that he started from its origins into far weirder and more original realms, and people (y.t. included) had decided that they really liked the band that they could slam-dance to.

It’s not definitely for sure that Greg Ginn made a new Black Flag album himself just to put something out there to try to stem the bleeding that was coming from him losing control of his own property, but it certainly starts to look that way.

So onto the scene at the end of 2013 rolls a record with the Black Flag name and logo on it. After nearly thirty years of chasing his weird, erratic muse around – and, for whatever else can be said for Greg Ginn’s post-Black Flag career, his Spartan work ethic is second only to his restlessness – he’s made an album that is neither fish nor fowl.

He’s recruited former singer Ron Reyes (Keith Morris having been sued, Dez Cadena thrown his hat into Morris’ ring by also touring with FLAG, and Henry Rollins long having been persona non grata in the life of Ginn). Shortly before the record’s release, Reyes was again kicked out of the band onstage7 and replaced by a guy who’d sung some My War-era material in the first reunion. The bass on the record is also played by Ginn, and the drums are by a guy named Gregory Moore who, honestly, is fine. He probably won’t come up again.

So, after a couple of advance singles that hinted that this was not going to go well, and into the storm of bad feelings toward Greg Ginn, we get this record. And now it’s time to talk about the music.

It’s…really not very good. Black Flag was marked by their willingness to be moving toward something – the place that any hardcore band that succeeded as a band8 was in not sounding like they were treading water, which was boringly common – What The… isn’t moving toward anything, nor is it particular moving away from anything. As much as Ginn’s career is marked by him being completely uncaring to what people feel about his actions, it’s that very inability to understand his audience that makes this record such a mess.

See, it’s not just a boring Greg Ginn record – there’s dozens of those, and they’re without merit. It’s not even that it’s a boring post-vitality record by a nostalgia act. There are hundreds of those (many of which are even by Black Flag contemporaries), and are similarly not very much worth bothering with. It’s that there’s clearly an aspect of it, here, that’s bent on recapturing some of that Black Flag-ness. It appears that Ginn tried to enter into the mindset of the Greg Ginn that made “Jealous Again” and write twenty-two (no, really) songs that were just like that.

Its length is the primary part of its problem. An EP made of “To Hell and Back,” “Outside,” “Blood and Ashes” and “Shut Up” wouldn’t have been a good record by any means, but wouldn’t have been so damned bewildering. As it is, the record just goes on and on, covering the same ground over and over. People who are tuning back in to see the name dusted off and revived (perhaps expecting something like Swans’ unexpected resurgence, or even Mission of Burma’s post-reunion period of greatness a decade ago, or, hell, even something as good as the Feelies reunion) are going to be stymied by the fact that the decades of not being in Black Flag have taken their toll on the people in the band that were, and that these songs don’t work as old Black Flag songs. People who are tuning in to hear the new Greg Ginn record – because, for god only knows what reason, they want that – are going to be disappointed that they’re left with this weird semi-baked concept.

It is, in fact, the opposite of the last couple of Swans records. Gira didn’t get together any more old Swans than Ginn has here. But he made records that seemed like they would have been made by the same band, regardless of who the people making the records were specifically. But the first-run Black Flag would never have backtracked this hard, even if they did revisit their old sounds for whatever reason, and it’s not pushing enough buttons for it to work for nostalgia purposes.

So who the fuck would listen to this? If there is someone out there who somehow hasn’t been turned off by Greg Ginn’s ridiculous, petty public behavior, who is able to invest something into him revisiting a style of material he hasn’t written since the Reagan administration, and who is, on top of that, somehow able to listen to a straight-up-and-down hardcore record again, then I guess this might be for them.

1 sigh
2 the minuteflag EP consists of Black Flag and the Minutemen playing together
3 wikipedia says seven and a half EPs, but Nervous Breakdown and Jealous Again were actually originally released as four-song singles, so I’ve chosen to just combine them this way here for simplicity’s sake.
4 and who now plays guitar for the Misfits, who are doing an excellent job of not being a big enough deal to count as baffling – the alternate-universe version of this piece would talk about how there’s nothing wrong with staying a nostalgia act
5 before basically collapsing under the weight of Greg Ginn’s greed and inability to deal functionally with people
6 albeit with help, principally in the early days from Dukowski, who wrote a lot of the band’s more enduring early material, and in latter days from Rollins
7 NB: that means he was kicked out of the band onstage twice. Once in 1980, and once in 2013. Please stop rejoining Black Flag, Ron. It’s making people sad.
8 a complete list of hardcore bands that succeeded as bands (and what they were moving toward): Black Flag (metal), Minor Threat (stadium rock), Redd Kross (power pop), Void (an accident in a train yard), Husker Du (minor godhood)

The 2014 People’s Choice Awards, Part 3

Favorite Thriller Movie
OH MY GOD WE’RE OUT OF THE TELEVISION CATEGORIES. Seriously, I’m so happy I could cry. So. A Good Day to Die Hard unaware self-parody masquerading as self-aware metaparody, RED 2 was self-aware metaparody, that managed to basically rewarm RED. White House Down was a rip-off1. The Call got made, which is a testament to someone’s ability to convince someone else to do really stupid things, but doesn’t bode well for the rest of us.


Favorite Horror Movie
It seems the People’s Choice Awards are playing a game with their movie categories whereby there’s only one non-objectionable nominee, so they’re basically gaming out the winner. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a movie that I thought was a joke until it actually happened. The world needed another Insidious as much as it needed another remake of Carrie. The Conjuring kind of had promise that it largely wasted after its first half hour. Mama was pretty good.


Favorite Family Movie
Alright, there’s more than one non-objectionable movie in this category. Unfortunately, there’s also The Smurfs 2 and Percy Jackson: What Part of the Books Can They Possibly Be Adapting After The First Movie Ruined the Story They Were Telling?. That won’t do.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Oz the Great and Powerful, mainly because 1) I’m feeling biased against sequels, whatever the merits of Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University may have been and 2) I think I’m the only person that liked that movie

Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress
At least three of these women are more famous for being comedic actresses2, which I guess means the category is actually “favorite movie actress that either made predominantly dramatic films in 2013 or else is just actually nominated for the one anyway”. Which means that, no matter, what, it’s not Amy Adams. Halle Berry’s filmic contributions to 2013 were the impossidumb The Call and the execrable Movie 43, so I’m not even sure what she’s doing being nominated for anydamnthing. I didn’t see Gangster Squad, so I don’t know how Emma Stone did in 2013 dramatically, but she is also the second cast member of Movie 43 to be nominated for a People’s Choice Award. That’s got to make for nice dvd-cover-copy. Oprah was in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Sandra Bullock is Sandra Bullock.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Oprah Winfrey. Not only she a good actress, she’s also not Sandra Bullock!

Favorite Dramatic Movie Actor
Well, at least they aren’t all comedians. One of them even sang! No one should win any awards for The Great Gatsby in any form, let alone in that blaring eyesore of a film, so that’s Leo out. I have no idea what Chris Hemsworth was nominated for. Rush? Thor 2? General Handsomeness? Each of those seems unlikely. Well, except for that last one. I have to assume that Channing Tatum was nominated for his earth-shattering performance in GI Joe: Retaliation. Ryan Gosling was in Gangster Squad with Emma Stone, which means that Gangster Squad has had as many people nominated for People’s Choice Awards as Movie 43.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Oh, it’s Ryan Gosling. There was never any getting around that.

Favorite Dramatic Movie
Gangster Sqaud wasn’t nominated, though. Ah, well. I don’t have to say what I think of The Great Gatsby again, Lee Daniels’ Naptime was a good excuse for people to pretend to think about things that, really, they should already be thinking about wrapped up in a boring-ass shell. Prisoners and Captain Phillips are both textbook examples in how to miscast the lead of your movie.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Gravity, because space is pretty and I’m all for pissing off Neil Degrasse Tyson.

Favorite Comedic Movie Actress
I really like that the actors and actresses (at least according to the People’s Choice Awards website) are nominated sort of “in general” rather than for a film. It opens it up, theoretically, to people who do more than one movie a year. Unfortunately, it’s not very often that someone does, say, two dramatic movies or two comedies in the same year. I say that even though I just spent the last two entries deducing which single movie got everyone nominated. Yep. Anyway. The Bling Ring had a great score and I kept getting This is the End confused with The World’s End, which is not actually Emma Watson’s fault, but I’m still going to deny her the award on those grounds. It’s probably not ok to give Jennifer Aniston a People’s Choice Award for comedic acting in a movie in which she plays a stripper, after having not given her one for performances where she, y’know, doesn’t. Scarlett Johansson adopted an accent. Wee. So that leaves us with the ladies of The Heat.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Melissa McCarthy, because she should win all the awards forever.

Favorite Comedic Movie Actor
We need to start by throwing out all of the cast of The Hangover III, because seriously guys. Stop it. Oh, also Adam Sandler on general principle. That leaves us with Chris Rock and James Franco. I like Chris Rock more in general, but he’s nominated for Grown-Ups 2. Ew.


Favorite Comedic Movie
Throwing out the obviously-terrible movies to start, I feel I also have to say: I am literally as much in favor of a naked Jennifer Aniston as anyone else. But We’re The Millers is still a sweaty, bad-weird movie. I love Paul Feig, and have nothing but positive feelings toward The Heat.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: But the winner is Instructions Not Included, mainly because there just aren’t a lot of mexican movies nominated for stuff, and also in the hopes that it launches Eugenio Derbez into a Robert Benigni-style fame spout.

Favorite Action Movie Star
I must say, one of the things that heartens me about the current state of people that are in action movies – if not the actual state of action movies themselves – is how hard everyone is trying. Oh, the characters are still people who put no effort into their massive heroics, but the actors themselves continue to do things that are interesting, instead of settling back into a classic-action-star sort of deal like, say, anyone who was in The Expendables or whatever. Anyway, I hope to be able to award this one to Vin Diesel next year3, but can’t really get behind his Riddick movies. Robert Downey Jr. did a pretty brilliant thing with Iron Man, and is currently beating it to death in film after film, which, I suppose, is nice work if you can get it, but is it really what we want to be rewarding? Hugh Jackman is doing something similar with Wolverine, but that’s also compounded by the general beat-to-deathedness of Wolverine The Hunk of Intellectual Property – he’s not doing anything worse for the character than Marvel has been doing for pretty much the last twenty years nonstop. Brad Pitt will win nothing, ever, for World War Z. Fuck that.


Favorite Action Movie
Ah, the all-sequel category. This is exciting. Star Trek Into Darkness was a nice movie that failed to hold up after I was done watching it. Fuck World War Z again. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the Wolverine because 1) X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a legitimate clusterfuck and 2) I did not need to watch those people make a movie set in Japan. Iron Man 3 makes me wish that people would wait until they had a third idea to make a third movie.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The Fast and the Furious 6. Because I like Vin Diesel, and also, y’know, the Paul Walker thing.

Favorite Movie Duo
Guys. There are so many categories. I know that I’ve watched the People’s Choice Awards before – or at least I think I have – and I don’t think I remember it being six hours long, but holy shit. Anyway. Favorite Movie Duo has Sandra Bullock in it twice. Which is fine, because she’s actually at her best when she’s the other half of a duo, especially when one of the duo isn’t trying to shtoink her. She’s, like, the anti-Gwyneth Paltow, who I kind of like but who doesn’t really do “duo” very well. We’re the Millers continues to get nominated for stuff! This confuses and frightens me! Star Trek Into Darkness continues to not be very good, and I think Karl Urban/Chris Pine or Zachary Quinto/Zoe Saldana are better pairings! That leaves us with the aforementioned duo of Sandra Bullock.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I think it should go to Sandra Bullock and Sandra Bullock, because I think that I’d like to remake The Heat as a movie about two cops trying to figure how to get back to Earth and one of them is terminally wacky!

Favorite Movie Actress
This is the Favorite Comedy Actress category with Emma Watson replaced by Gwyneth Paltrow. Since Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t deserve to win it, just go read that category again and pretend like I made new jokes about all of these people.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Still Melissa McCarthy

Favorite Movie Actor
I mean, the real problem with having ninety thousand categories is that it does get somewhat redundant at a certain point. I’m just saying. Here we are at Robert Downey Jr. (again), Hugh Jackman (again again), Leonardo DiCaprio (again) and Channing Tatum (again). I mean, we’ve also got Johnny Depp this time, but I think he’s hit his limit for awards you can win for “talking in a weird voice while wearing white face paint”

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I guess it’s Channing Tatum again, but seriously. At this point can’t we just start re-running bits of the broadcast already made?

Favorite Movie
Now, wait. There are actually good movies nominated for stuff in other categories. What the hell is this shit, People who Choose? Ugh. Anyway, the estate of Corey Monteith must be absolutely furious that Paul Walker went and died so much closer to awards season, given how huffy they got over his death package earlier in the year. Expect to see much nonsense about the subject. That said, Fast & Furious 6 is the sixth movie in a series, and shouldn’t win anything. There are two animated movies in the favorite movie category, which is pretty cool. I guess one of them could win. Lord knows they’re more deserving than Star Trek Into Darkness and Iron Man 3.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Given that this is the last category, the winner is me for not having to think about the same seven people over and over again anymore.
1 unless the other movie (Olympus Something or Other) was a rip-off, in which case I’m still blaming White House Down because it’s here to blame.
2 you would shake your head so damn hard if you knew how long I spent trying to deduce if Sandra Bullock was, in fact, more famous for comedies than dramas. Seriously. The things I do for you people.

3 the likelihood of his Groot being a winner is pretty low, but the rumors are that he’s also playing Thanos (!)

The 2014 People’s Choice Awards Part 2

Favorite New TV Drama
Man, the list of nominees really blew up here. Uh. There’s like fifty shows in this category, and I’ve seen most of them, and most of them are terrible.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I guess it’s Sleepy Hollow

Favorite New TV Comedy
It must just be every mildly-successful tv show that gets listed in these categories. I haven’t seen The Crazy Ones (despite Robin Williams) or Mom (despite Allison Janney), so obviously those can’t win. Sean Saves the World and The Millers should get to share an award for criminally wasting talented casts. The Michael J. Fox Show and Super Fun Night never seem to get out from around their respective stars. Dads is straight-up terrible shit. Trophy Wife and The Goldbergs are both fantastic shows, but only one of these shows starts Joe Lo Truglio.


Favorite Series We Miss Most
Dexter’s ending made no one happy, so nobody misses it. Breaking Bad’s ending made everyone happy, so there’s no reason to miss it. The Office and 30 Rock were both limping pretty badly by the end – do we really want to revive that? It also isn’t Fringe. Because reasons.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: As much as I like the idea of having a category to honor a tv show that we’ve lost, I also have to say: very, very few shows have gone off the air and left the idea tha there could have been more to them. The series I miss the most is Community. Or the 30 Rock that I fell in love with. Or Dead Like Me. Can we just give the award to Dead Like Me?

Favorite Streaming Series
Oh man! We’re in the big time now! They’ve really reached legitimacy when there’s a People’s Choice Award for it! That’s true of both streaming series and bromances1. Anyway, my favorite streaming series is Burning Love, and that wasn’t nominated, because the people whose choices these are are stupid. It isn’t Losing It With John Stamos, I’m afraid I haven’t seen House of Cards, and I didn’t finish Orange is the New Black, all of which says that…well, that I haven’t watched them. I suppose that’s the problem here. On the one hand, I love Between Two Ferns. On the other hand, Arrested Development is an institution.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Boy oh boy did I just have a long argument about the merits of AD vs. those of BTF. I can’t make the choice. So I guess the rightful winner is Burning Love.

Favorite Late Night Talk Show Host
Alright, I can’t make this the third category in a row where I decide someone that wasn’t nominated should win, even if the rightful winner is actually Pete Holmes. On the other hand, I don’t actually care.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I suppose it’s Stephen Colbert. Anyone who can stay in character for almost a decade is doing some pretty impressive work.

Favorite New Talk Show Host
My devotion to picking the rightful winners of awards at shows I care little about, in categories that I care even less about, has taken me to some pretty crazy places. And now here I am, looking at a list of people who, I guess, have talk shows that started recently, and having another category that should be won by Pete Holmes in which Pete Holmes does not appear. Why do the Choicing People hate Pete Holmes? It just doesn’t seem fair. Anyway, Aresenio Hall isn’t a new talk show host, even if he’s hosting a new talk show. Jenny McCarthy is a fruitbat, although it does bring to mind that Chris Hardwick is also hosting a show, and would also be a better choice for winner of this category. Bethenny Frankel is awful, Ross Matthews’ show always looks like it would make me sad, and we have another winner by default.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Queen Latifah, by default.

Favorite Daytime TV Host
Man, this is the long, dark talk-show-host time of the soul here. Alright. Any time I have to remember that Dr. Phil exists I want to cry. Rachael Ray’s talk show is dumb, but at least she doesn’t serve everything in it out of gravy boats2. I have nothing interesting, funny, or even worthwhile to say about Steve Harvey except that I’m glad he’s found something to keep him doing stuff, because I generally like him. I have even less to say about Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, although I like that they would have to share the award.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Ellen Degeneres, and I’m perfectly ok with that.

Favorite TV Movie/Miniseries
Man, FX has really convinced people that each season of American Horror Story is its own separate miniseries. I had forgotten about The Bible entirely. What a shitshow that was. That doesn’t win any awards for anything ever, considering it was probably only nominated because of the worst kind of people. The sooner we start ignoring fake-terrible fake-zeitgeist-y fake camp like Sharknado, the sooner it will go away. Behind the Candelabra had some great one-liners and some great gay sex in it, but that’s not really enough to win the award, and the bits between the gay sex and the one-liners was….less than great. The White Queen was written by Emma Frost, which is an enormous coincidence3, and is officially the most interesting thing I know about that miniseries.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: American Horror Story, unless Emma Frost managed to put a scene in The White Queen in which Taissa Farmiga kills a bunch of zombies with a chainsaw.

Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress
Welp. I don’t watch Beauty and the Beast, and I definitely don’t watch The Vampire Diaries, so in a shocking upset, this award does not deserve to go to Kristin Kreuk or Nina Dobrev. So sad. I like Tatiana Maslany as much as I like anything on Orphan Black, I like Emilia Clarke significantly less than I like most things on Game of Thrones (which I still don’t like very much), and it’s really hard to parse anything that takes place in the field of sff television. Ugh.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I guess it’s Ginnifer Goodwin. But there’s no way I’m going to be happy about that.

Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor
Ian Somerhalder has had quite a career in tv shows that I’m kind of ambivalent about. Except the Vampire Diaries. I am in no way ambivalent about that. I think Supernatural is dumb, if bubbly good fun (and actually, that might be enough to do it right there). The dude from Arrow is the worst part of a terrible show.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I guess Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki together are, like, a People’s Choice Award worth of good.

Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Show.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: The people who say that science fiction doesn’t work on television. I don’t know if they actually exist, or if they only exist in the demented arguments of Firefly fans, but if they are actual people, then I think I’m starting to agree with them.

Favorite On-Screen Chemistry
I have to assume, given the context, that what we’re talking about here is romantic chemistry. I also have to assume that all of the attendant Breaking Bad jokes are off limits, since Landry4 and Jesse aren’t nominated. I guess that’s what the same-sex categories (up next) are for. ANYWAY. Romantic tension is my least favorite kind of tension, so I’m calling this category stupid.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Whatever cocktail of uppers/downers/brain obliterators enables the cast of Grey’s Anatomy to still go to work every day.

Favorite TV Gal Pals
The first draft of this was a joke about Kat Dennings brontosaurus boobs. I deleted that and now am writing this. I hope you people appreciate everything I do for you. Anyway, this category is basically a perfect storm of shows I don’t watch. Even Glee fans don’t like Glee anymore, I’m kind of amazed at Grey’s Anatomy’s longevity5, but I just gave it the last category, and how far does being old get you, really? I didn’t know The Big Bang Theory had a character named Bernadette? Penny’s the blond one and Amy is the physicist, so Bernadette must be the… garbage truck driver? Sports fan? Person who reads books? I don’t even know.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Well, I didn’t come up with anything derisive and/or dismissive to say about How I Met Your Mother, so I guess it’s Robin and Willow.

Favorite TV Bromance
These categories are bananas. Apparently, Castle is Nathan Fillion’s character’s name. If I weren’t allergic to Nathan Fillion, I might even have watched enough to know that, but I am, so I haven’t, so I don’t even know who Ryan and Esposito are (neither of them is Nathan Fillion’s character, though). Similarly, Supernatural seems to appeal to the “young people who like soap operas on the internet” crowd that I’ve never really trusted the taste of6, so I’ve been wary (although I recently discovered that The Tick’s Ben Edlund is involved, so maybe I’ll turn out to be wrong) of watching it, and I don’t know anything about Sam, Dean and Castiel. The world is at some kind of Neil Patrick Harris saturation point, and I can’t in all good faith encourage that. Glee is still dumb.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I feel like I’d pretty happily hang out with Jim Parsons and Simon Helberg, and perhaps The Dude From Roseanne would even have some good stories about having been on Roseanne. So I’d give it to the actors themselves, because I still don’t like their show.

Favorite TV Antihero
It just makes the whole thing seem so…tawdry. I’m all for Breaking Bad getting all sorts of praise, but god damn do I not want Walter White’s character reduced to “anti-hero”. That’s would be like referring to the funny and talented Kat Dennings as the “framing device for television’s best gal pals,” which is something I would not ever do. ahem. Bates Motel was a dumb idea that I can’t even get behind enough to try out, The Walking Dead remains a shitshow (and also – Rick? And not Darrell? You people are nuts). Jaime Lannister was a yutz in as far as I’ve read in the books (which is, I think, the first three?), and I can’t imagine they’ve done much to fix that on the tv show.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Well, we’re left with Dexter, which is a win in two ways: one, it’s another award for Michael C. Hall, because he simply did not get enough of them for Six Feet Under, and it’s also a way to twit Dexter fans, as apparently the last season of Dexter was something they didn’t like7.

Favorite Cable TV Actress
I am entirely derailed by seeing that that is really how Courteney Cox really spells her first name. How did I never notice that before? Dear lord. Are you guys tired of me saying a show I haven’t watched looks stupid? Oh wait, you can’t hear me ask that. Obviously, Pretty Little Liars looks stupid, and I haven’t watched it. And, since I’m neither a pedophile nor a coma patient, I presume I won’t be watching it any time soon. Rizolli & Isles provided many a funny punchline for Doug Loves Movies, and that’s about the extent of my knowledge about it. Claire Danes is insulting counter-terrorism and the mentally ill simultaneously, which is pretty impressive.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Maggie Smith, who really Maggies it up at that Abbey.

Favorite Premium Cable TV Show
The word “premium”’s use to mean “reward” is actually its initial use – it comes from the Latin roots prae and emiere and, weirdly enough, it was apparently originally used in its “this is good shit” meaning to advertise butter. Unfortunately, the story of how it came to mean “tv channels that you have to pay extra for on top of the extra you’re already paying for cable” – which is, if you think about it, the opposite of the word’s original meaning in every sense, as it’s neither free nor particularly good – is not as interesting as that bit about the butter.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: oh, right. Probably Girls, since Homeland went to dumb in a right hurry.

Favorite Cable TV Drama
So in this category we have: not Upstairs Downstairs (Downton Abbey), not Gossip Girl (Pretty Little Liars), not the Lion King (Sons of Anarchy), not Monk (White Collar) and not A Good Television Show (The Walking Dead). I think, y’all, that it’s time to start supporting better television.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Nogoddamnbody. And we should all go to our rooms to think about what we’ve done here.

Favorite Cable TV Comedy
Television comedy is always better than television drama, for reasons innumerable (not the least of which is that comedy is almost always better than drama in most media). That said, this is also a pretty poor turnout. Cougar Town squandered a lot of potential, no matter how much Abed liked it. Hot in Cleveland wasted slightly less – although still a considerable amount of – potential, but also wasn’t really ever expected to be anything other than….whatever it ended up being. Melissa & Joey tries really hard. Psych and Awkward are both impressively long-running for how limited their premises seemed.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I don’t know, maybe we should just….shut down a bunch of cable channels? Or, like, force them into a room until they can come up with something better? They’re getting outmaneuvered by networkd comedies, which was supposed to be the thing that didn’t happen. Yikes.

Favorite Competition TV Show
There are still so many of these! Alright. I get The Voice and The X Factor confused with each other. One has Adam Levine and the other has Demi Lovato, right? I mean, and some other judges also. America’s Got Talent is a fine idea in practice, but has a terrible judging panel and is entirely too long, in terms of number of episodes per season. I feel like I don’t even have to mention that it isn’t going to be Dancing With the Stars, right?

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: MasterChef. It’s tight, it’s interesting, it’s a real hoot, and also a kid that looks exactly like Julia Child won their weird Juniors season.

Favorite TV Crime Drama
Oh my god, the television awards portion of this is fucking interminable. There are so many categories! Why do we need all of these categories? Crime drama, then. Uh.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Honestly, are all of these even different shows? Jesus. Which one’s got Ted Danson on it? I like that one. Y’know, theoretically. Because I like Ted Danson.

Favorite Actress in a New TV Series
You know how sometimes an actress plays a role that is so fixed in your brain, such an indomitable part of something that you enjoy, that it becomes hard to watch them in other things? But not in a bad way – just in the way that they so embody a character that forms a big part of your day-to-day enjoyment, so when you see them in things you think “oh hey, that reminds me of this other thing that I like so I’m basically going to like this now.” Right. Well, Sarah-Michelle Gellar and Allison Janney are both nominated in this category. But I don’t like Buffy and I don’t have any particular attachment to the West Wing. Super Fun Night is embarrassing with or without Rebel Wilson, and Anna Farris remains Anna Farris.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: FINN’S MOM! Even though Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is pretty execrable, Finn’s Mom is on it8!

Favorite Actor in a New TV Series
It’s kind of depressing how many of these people are actually long-weathered veterans. Unfortunately, the least-veteran of these people is on The Vampire Diaries, which manages to be the worst vampire show in this list. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is trying really hard with Dracula, which had a very silly first couple of episodes (I hear it’s gotten better). Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams probably have a bunch of these things already.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Andy Samberg, because he’s much, much funnier than I would’ve thought on Brooklyn Nine Nine

Favorite Dramatic TV Actress
Man, Law and Order: SVU is even longer-running than Grey’s Anatomy, which is just ridiculous. As fun as all of that is, it’s also hard to get excited about lauding Mariska Hargitay (who is boring) or Sandra Oh (who’s been the most affable part of her show for a long time) for doing the same thing for a very long time. Similarly, Pauley Perette has been playing variations on basically the same character for, like, fifty tv shows in a row now9. Stana Katic is on Castle! Lots of people are on Castle! Everybody is on Castle! I don’t know where to go with this category!

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Mrs. Coach’s hair again! It’s on a TV drama! It deserves two awards! Exclamation points!

Favorite Dramatic TV Actor
Seriously, though. The entire cast of NCIS is nominated for awards. What the hell is happening? YOU DO NOT WIN THIS AWARD, MARK HARMON. YOU DO NOT. You can probably repeat the same sentiment for Patrick Dempsey INRE: Grey’s Anatomy, because I don’t have anything more to say about Grey’s Anatomy. I like Kevin Bacon a lot, but I’m not very interested in The Following. I also like Superman Jesus a bunch, but unfortunately, he’s up against probably my favorite television actor in the history of acting on television.


Favorite Network TV Drama
Ser. I. Ous. Ly. Grey’s. Anatomy. So if any of you have been paying attention this far, you might expect that Mrs. Coach’s Hair will win this category, but you’re wrong. I have literally no end of good things to say about Parenthood. It’s actually on my television as I write this. It’s so good, y’all.


Favorite TV Comedy Actress
Jane Lynch and Melissa McCarthy are two of my favorite comedic actresses period. Unfortunately, they’re both on awful shows. Handily, this also eliminates Lea Michele. The contrarian in me wants to say it’s Zooey Deschanel because she’s managed not to do anything impossibly irritating, but then I remember that that fucking Siri commercial was only a year ago.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Have you noticed that these get less and less analyitical as they go? They totally do! Anyway, it’s Kaley Cuoco because I can’t think of a reason it shouldn’t be other than that I don’t like her show, which is somehow working for Lea Michele and not Kaley Cuoco. There needs to be another season of Louie this year so that I have Pamela Adlon on standby for these categories.

Favorite Comedic TV Actor
Why are two of the nominees in this category from Glee? Jesus, that’s depressing. It’s almost as depressing as the rest of this category.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: I’ve basically run out of things to say about Jim Parsons and Neil Patrick Harris, so I guess it goes to Jesse Tyler Ferguson, for no particular reason actually.

Favorite Network TV Comedy
Alright, I’m going to go ahead and say that this Glee thing is either an enormous failing on my part – I seriously thought the damn show barely existed, let alone was going to win popularity contests. Is this because the dude died? Because if it’s because the dude died, that’s terrible. Anyway. It’s not Glee, it’s not 2 Broke Girls, it’s not The Big Bang Theory, it’s not How I Met Your Mother, and it’s not actually Modern Family.

THE RIGHTFUL WINNER: Like, two minutes of dead air. Jesus.

1 Foreshadowing!
2 see, because on her cooking show, all of the non-metal items in her line of cooking vessels looks like a gravy boat. It’s so frigging weird to watch her pour, like, potato chunks from the gravy boat she baked them in into the gravy boat she’s going to serve them from and then watch her pour gravy on them from…a pan. EVERYTHING YOU DESIGN IS MADE TO LOOK LIKE A GRAVY BOAT. This is a very specific gripe.
3 in the pre X-Men: First Class days, in the X-Men Comic Books, Emma Frost actually had a code name – she was the White Queen, just as Sebastian Shaw (also stripped of his supervillain name) was the Black King.
4 whose real name is, in fact, Jesse. MORE FUN WITH NAMES.
5 NB: This is not actually a value judgment on the show, which is probably fine, and which I think I’ve seen three episodes of. I’m just surprised that it’s still happening. It’s been on forever.
6 This is the same group of people that kept Smallville on the air and who complain about Firefly not being on the air despite, y’know, not having watched it when it was.
7 Nobody tell them the whole damn show was terrible.
8 she was also, apparently, in some episodes of Two and a Half Men, which puts my entire earlier thesis to bed.

9 what is it about crime procedurals that draw women with fantastic names?