On Common Interests

I listen to The Dan Le Batard radio show every day on my phone. Around noon my Podcast app refreshes, and I get all 90+ minutes, sans commercials. I’ll plug it into my car and listen as I go to lunch, or when I go for a walk in the afternoon, or while I clean and make dinner after work. Every day, I never miss a listen. I genuinely love these people for making me think, for making me laugh to the point of tears, for giving me a respite from an endless stream of #HotTaeks that come my way every day, whether I’m looking for them or not.

I was thinking about this last night as I listened to the day’s episode. For years, Dan and the guys have read emails, texts, and tweets from people who complain that the show isn’t talking enough sports, not bringing on enough coaches and athletes, or generally doing the exact opposite of what every other sports radio show is doing.

“Real great show, Dan! One of the best NCAA Championship games ever, and your entire guest list today is a damn ZOO KEEPER to talk ANIMALS. [bleep] OFF!”

…forever followed by:

The guys had me rolling last night. YOU DON’T GET THE SHOW is now officially an in real life thing.

“Dan, my seven year old daughter heard me listening to the show and asked me why I would do that. Hit her with a YOU DON’T GET THE SHOW.”

“Dan, was at a stop light when the person in the car next to me heard you guys yelling, ‘GO KILL A DRIFTER! GO KILL A DRIFTER!’ and he looked at me weird. I told him YOU DON’T GET THE SHOW.”

This morning, Awful Announcing ran a glowing piece on “the premier sports radio show going“:

There are plenty of choices in sports radio land. Many are terrible. The search for something informative, entertaining, and different can seem like a hunt for a $2 bill. Your limited choices generally fall into these categories of show that takes itself way too seriously (looking at you, Mike Francesa), show that’s flavorless (looking at you, Mike & Mike) or show with scalding takes simply meant to incite (looking at you, Colin Cowherd).

Sometimes this audial onslaught can make you lose faith in humanity. You’ll want to gouge your eardrums out with a rusty spoon after all the name-calling, unfunny jokes, and manufactured arguments over who/what is to blame for your team’s misfortune.

The Dan Le Batard Show is a respite from this mind-numbing drudgery. Sure, Le Batard is polarizing and delights in being the guy many people despise. But his show is (thankfully) the antithesis of virtually every other sports radio program out there. He is fearless, humorous, and enlightening whether the topic is race, the NCAA’s exploitation of student-athletes, or disagreements with his employer, ESPN.

To me, these 90 minute daily podcasts are the very definition of perfection, provided you’re the type to regularly listen to sports radio or even just like hearing entertaining people say fun and interesting things. But every once in a while I’ll see my intelligent, sports loving sister re-tweet something from the Mike and Mike show, her preferred choice of daily radio, and I’m  reminded of the depressing fact that no one I personally know listens to these geniuses. I’ve tried to get friends and family to tune in, turned on the radio when I’ve been driving and gestured as if to say, “See! These guys are amazing!” only to get blank stares at best, hostile revulsion at worst. They don’t get the show. They don’t love what I love.

There couldn’t be anything less surprising about this sobering fact. No one loves what I love. No one I personally know, that is.


 

This last week a girl I was seeing (hanging out with?) and I decided we were gonna stop doing whatever it was we were doing. She recently got out of a relationship and wasn’t ready for something serious, I’m old as shit (35, she’s 24) and don’t really date around anymore. It was a disappointing, if inevitable conclusion that I saw coming since the first night we got together.


*editor’s note: I fucking loathe Rob and High Fidelity. One of those movies you loved in college and regret now with every fiber of your being as an adult. Chasing Amy and Garden State, looking at you two motherfuckers too.


 

The beauty of social media, and Twitter specifically, are the communities that form. Post enough about any one thing, and you’re gonna end up meeting people online that share your same interests. Eventually you’ll start referring to these communities with proper nouns.

Brewers Twitter
Game of Thrones Twitter
Black Twitter*

Soon you’re getting to know these people, both online and in real life. I’ve been to weddings of folks I got to know only because we both loved the Milwaukee Bucks. I got into a long distance relationship with a girl in Milwaukee because of Wisconsin Cooking Twitter (yes motherfuckers that’s a thing). One of my dearest friends in the world is a woman I only know because three years ago she Fav’d a tweet I wrote about Keith Whitley. I sent her a bunch of books when she was pregnant, she sent me a shit-ton of delicious crawdads.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 3.29.41 PM

*I am not a member of Black Twitter but it seems dope

I’m incredibly fond of so many people I’ve met on Twitter. There are some that I would do anything for at the drop of a hat, and we only know each other out of a mutual admiration for Prince music. Prince Twitter, y’all.


I leave people behind. That’s what I do.

I’ve moved, by my count, 24 times in 35 years. When it happens, I don’t keep up with the people I met. When I left high school I never went home to visit a single person. Ditto college. I’ve met some amazing people and had some of the best years of my life with friends I made in my 20s as I’ve bounced around from job to job, town to town, and I don’t even keep up with these people on Facebook anymore.

There are moments when I ask myself whether or not I’m missing out of an essential part of life, those friends you spend your weekends with watching sports or weeknights you get together for playing video games or checking out the latest episode of Mr. Robot. But those people don’t exist anymore for me, outside of nearby family. Once you hit a certain age, the only people you meet are those at bars and those you work with, and I work with people that are hella old.

So I’m on Twitter every waking moment of the day, talking with people I’ve mostly never met, bonding over our mutual love for stuff that a lot of people probably believe  doesn’t matter.

And I love it.


One night a couple weeks ago the recent girl and I got back to my place. She sat down on my couch and noticed Twitter on my open laptop. She knew that it was a thing I was into, one because I was always on it, and two because I told her. I didn’t tell her why specifically, because who gives a shit. But she made a comment and gave me a look that was essentially, “Really? Twitter?”. This is the reaction I get from 98% of the people I know in real life (shouts to Eliza, Adam and Beck). I’ve tried over the years to explain to friends and family how amazing it is to get instantly breaking news, how much more aware you are of the world you live in, how fewer baby photos you’re forced to see than on Facebook.

It doesn’t work, and I wasn’t surprised that night that she thought my interest in it was stupid. She checked out during an episode of You’re the Worst, talked through The Usual Suspects, and when she wanted to play me music she played Bieber and Florida Georgia Line.

Nobody loves what I love, but especially when they’re 24 years old.


A day after I told this girl that I was checking out of whatever it was we were doing, I was depressed. More so than I usually am, as someone who’s been diagnosed with clinical depression. I took two days to be self-destructive, drank more than I should have, and slept a lot less. Despite knowing almost immediately that it wasn’t going to work, there’s still always going to be that sliver of hope when you meet someone new that they’re going to be one who loves you and all your weird shit. She wasn’t going to be that, and it stung, because she really is a fantastic person. But some differences are way too much to overcome.

Three days later I was over it. Five days later I’m happy to have known her and she isn’t on my mind.


I hold out hope. Not just for meeting that person, but for people in general. I know that there are folks out there who live and die by who the Bucks draft and sign in free agency, who get disturbingly excited for Shane Black films, and would rather spend a night sipping whiskey by a campfire than going to the trendy bar with hundreds of people. If you got this link from Twitter, there’s a chance it’s you.

Hopefully we’ll meet one day. Life’s too short not to share our weird shit together.

An Ode To My Favorite Genre Of Music

Yesterday UPROXX briefly set the internet on fire when they posted this, a NCAA style tournament to determine the Most 90’s music:

This isn’t a terrible effort! It definitely captures the music that comes to mind when you think of the 90s, with one key exception:

WHERE IN THE HELL IS GARTH FREAKING BROOKS?

Or Alan Jackson or Reba McEntire or Dwight Yoakam or Confederate Railroad?

Where is the 90’s COUNTRY?


I grew on country music because, frankly, it’s the stuff my folks listened to and I didn’t have much of a choice. Keith Whitley, George, Patty, Vince, Garth. I remember saving up chore money so I could buy my mom CDs by The Judds on mother’s day. Every summer before my teenage years we’d make our way to Eau Claire, Wisconsin for Country Jam and Cadot, Wisconsin for Country Fest. One year I met Hal Ketchum as I was leaving our hotel; my mom and I lost our collective minds when he spotted us in the crowd later that evening, tipping his hat to us during a song. I remember having dinner with Nicki Nelson of Highway 101 because my mom won a radio call in contest. My sister became something of a sensation in the family because she could identify songs on the radio only a note or two into a song. I can still remember her blurting out, “JOE DIFFIE PROP ME UP BESIDE THE JUKEBOX!” from the backseat of the car.

She was, like, three years old at the time.

When I hit my teenage years I stopped seeking out country music to listen to. Out was Little Texas, in was 2pac and Naughty by Nature and Westside Connection and DMX. Later came punk and Fat Wreck and Nitro, a phase that lasted a solid decade.

But despite not owning any country albums or keeping the radio dialed to country stations for a solid seven years, I still know all the hits because of my folks. I still generally liked it.

But it wasn’t until I hit my 30s when I really was able to appreciate the country music from my youth. Why? Two reasons.

The first was the rise of patriotism in main-stream media. After 9/11, letting everyone know just how much you love Jesus and the good ol’ U.S. of A. and your pickup became normal. Singing about how the Middle East was going to get their collective asses blown back to the stone age was officially a thing.

I blame Toby Keith.

And my commie pinko liberal tree hugging ass hated it. Patriotism…cool, whatever. It’s when you make it your brand I have a problem,  and it seemed like every country artist I grew up loving couldn’t wait to make a song about how much they loved this country and Jesus, i.e. The Dude Who Created It.

So I tuned out.

But there was another reason why I could suddenly appreciate the old Garth Brooks or Vince Gill or Trishia Yearwood or Tanya Tucker songs of my youth:

Bro Country.

From Wikipedia:

Bro-country is a term for a style of mainstream country music originating in the second decade of the 21st century. It is a general term for styles of country music taking influence from 21st-century hip hop, rock, and pop. Many “bro-country” songs are about partying, attractive young women, consumption of alcohol, and pickup trucks.

Look, the country music I grew up on was depressing as hell. You wouldn’t even have a difficult time convincing me that it had a negative effect on my emotional growth. The overwhelming majority of the songs I listened to were about the loss of love. How can you not be completely messed up listening to hundreds of sad songs in your formative years?

What I didn’t hear was rapping about who in the hell knows what and singing about red solo cups. I definitely didn’t get a distinctly rapey vibe in these tunes.

I mean, just look at these two awful motherfuckers.

But this is what the genre seems to be these days. Last summer I went to Country Jam for the first time in 20 years, and stuff like this was all I heard when I arrived. Then a drunk girl puked on my shoes and threw a wedding ring at her equally drunk as hell husband.

Yes, I’m old and out of touch and get off my damn lawn, but you can have all of it.

But enough about frat boys and their date-rape soundtracks, let’s celebrate a time when the music was about something great:

Being completely miserable!


First, your playlist. This may be my greatest contribution to mankind:

*this playlist was 300 songs. then i realized it only took 200 when you embed it. cutting 100 songs was not easy

Now, not all songs here are from the 90s. I included a band I loved quite a bit that didn’t arrive until 2006, The Wreckers. That they only made one album is a tragedy. 

I also included 80s hits from The Judds and Keith Whitley. 

A notable omission is Garth Brooks, because he won’t let his catalog appear on Spotify or Youtube. This is a terrible move. THERE ARE MILLENNIALS WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD “WHAT SHE’S DOING NOW”, GARTH.

OBSERVATIONS

Holy Shit Did These Folks Crank Out The Hits

Like, you knew back then that Vince Gill and George Straight and Reba McEntire were monstrously successful. But then you look at their lists of songs and holy hell Reba had 93 singlesShe had 24 that reached #1.

MJ is the GOAT and he only had 11.

But it isn’t even powerhouse artists like Reba that could say they were massively successful. A guy like Clay Walker (really good!) but never someone you’d consider a massive star cranked out enough singles that you could legitimately fill in a greatest hits album and leave a couple off because of time restraints.

It’s totally dumbfounding. You know who Joe Diffie is, but it isn’t until you fire up Spotify that you realize HOLY CRAP I KNOW EVERY WORD OF LIKE A DOZEN OF HIS SONGS AND I NEVER OWNED A SINGLE ALBUM OMGGGG

Toby Keith Wasn’t Always Terrible

I still remember when Toby Keith came out in ’93. I was 12 years old at the time. He was immediately huge with Should’ve Been a Cowboy, and followed it up with about seven years of really good ballads. Dude had an awesome voice and came out with killer sensitive tunes that were, like everything at the time, totally depressing. I LOVED THEM ALL.

To this day when I’m listening to country music he’s the guy I’m likely to sing along with in the car or in my apartment doing laundry or cleaning the dishes. I know my neighbor can hear my belting out Wish I Didn’t Know Now from time to time and I REGRET NOTHING.

Top Five Toby Keith Songs When You’re Terribly Depressed Because Your Love Life Is A Dumpster Fire:

5 – You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This
4 – He Ain’t Worth Missing
3 – Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You
2 – Who’s That Man

1 – Wish I Didn’t Know Now

Then the 2000s happened and he turned to shit.

Music Was Hella Punny

That may be my biggest takeaway, putting together this playlist. It wasn’t something I realized at the time (because I was 12) but oh man if you had a pun you could make it into a country song.

Patty Loveless: Timber I’m Falling in Love:

Travis Tritt – Here’s a Quarter (call someone who cares):

Joe Diffie – Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox If I Die

Joe Diffie made one or two of the decade’s most incredible songs, but he also made the punniest songs in music history.

Best Music Video To Feature Luke Perry As a Bull Rider

Underrated Artist That Still Holds Up Surprisingly Well

Mark Chestnut. Of everyone on this list, he’s the guy I’m least likely to hit skip on when he plays. Every damn thing he released is solid and still worth listening to today.

Top 5 Mark Chestnut Songs I’m Probably Going To Listen to Tonight:

5 – Goin’ Through the Big D
4 – Too Cold At Home
3 – I’ll Think of Something
2 – Ol’ Country

1 – Almost Goodbye

Song Tragically Ruined By An Ex-girlfriend

Clint Black – Like the Rain

NOT COOL, LEAH.

Artist Worth Being Super Happy For

Ty Herndon, who came out last year. Good for you, dude!

The Criminally Underrated

Hal Ketchum, no question.

You would think a guy who had 5 albums and 16 singles in the 90s could qualify, but this is someone with a legendary voice. I’d put it up against anyone other than the next person on this list. He was amazing.

The Voice You Would Kill Numerous People To Have

It’s Vince. Of course it is.

He didn’t have the volume of George Straight or the peak that Garth Brooks had (though still pretty dope with 14 albums, 49 singles) but absolutely no one will ever match his voice.

He’s the guy that I’m singing in the shower but only because the sound of the water masks how obviously inferior my sound is to his.

The Other Voice

…belongs to Alison Krauss.

Look, she’s almost got a voice that would make this heathen believe in angels. It’s perfection.

Speaking of that song, the original is responsible for the most depressing country music of all-time…

The Truly Sad

It’s Keith Whitley.

On the morning of May 9, 1989, after a weekend of drinking and partying, Whitley awoke and spoke with his mother briefly on the phone. He was then visited by his brother-in-law Lane Palmer, and the two had coffee and they were planning a day of golf and having lunch, after which Whitley had planned to start writing songs for Lorrie Morgan and himself to record when she returned from her concert tour. Palmer departed at approximately 8:30 a.m., informing Whitley to be ready to leave within an hour. Upon returning, Palmer found Whitley face down on his bed, fully clothed.

The official cause of death was determined to be acute ethanolism (alcohol poisoning),and Davidson CountyMedical Examiner Charles Harlan stated that his blood alcohol level was .47 (the equivalent of 20 1-ounce shots of 100-proof whiskey[10] and almost five times the then Tennessee level of .10 legal intoxication limit, and nearly six times the current .08 legal limit to drive). Whitley was 34 years of age.

Fuck.

The Top 10 Favorite Country Songs That Are All Super Depressing (Non-Garth Division)

I know you’re super interested in finding out the songs that ruined me for a good decade. Here they are!

10 – Sawyer Brown – All These Years

9 – Keith Whitley – Don’t Close Your Eyes

8 – Dixie Chicks – You Were Mine

7 – Faith Hill – Let Me Let Go

6 – McBride & The Ride – Sacred Ground

5 – Travis Tritt – Tell Me I Was Dreaming

4 – Vince Gill – Pocket Full of Gold

3 – Joe Diffie – Ships That Don’t Come In

2 – George Straight – I Can Still Make Cheyenne

1 – Little Texas – What Might Have Been

My Favorite Chapter (probably)

Today on Gawker they have their 50 Best opening lines in literature. 

I don’t know if this is my favorite but it’s the first one that came to mind:

and it’s a story that might bore you but you don’t have to listen, she told me, because she always knew it was going to be like that, and it was, she thinks, her first year, or, actually weekend, really a Friday, in September, at Cam-den, and this was three or four years ago, and she got so drunk that she ended up in bed, lost her virginity (late, she was eighteen) in Lorna Slavin’s room, because she was a Freshman and had a roommate and Lorna was, she remembers, a Senior or a Junior and usually sometimes at her boyfriend’s place off-campus, to who she thought was a Sophomore Ceramics major but who was actually either some guy from N.Y.U., a film student, and up in New Hampshire just for The Dressed To Get Screwed party, or a townie.

It’s from “The Rules of Attraction” by Bret Easton Ellis. It’s one of my favorite books and I’ve read it a half dozen times. I read it, give it away, realize I want to read it again and give it away again. That’s the cycle that’s occurred a half dozen times since college.

Anyway, it’s good.

Here’s my favorite chapter, it contains no spoilers. It’s told from the perspective of Sean Bateman, younger brother of the infamous Patrick Bateman. He’s one of three main characters (all in college) in the story and the three of them switch perspective on a chapter to chapter basis. This is Bateman telling us about a girl:

Sitting in class, staring at the desk, someone’s carved ‘Whatever Happened To Hippie Love?’ I guess the first girl I kind of liked at Camden was this hippie I met my Freshman year. She was really stupid but so gorgeous and so insatiable in bed that I couldn’t help myself. I had met her once, before I fucked her, at a party off-campus my first term. The hippie had offered me some pot and I was drunk so I smoked it. I was so drunk in fact and the pot was so bad that I threw up in the backyard and passed out in some girl’s car who had brought me. I was embarrassed but not really, even though the girl who drove was pissed off since I lost it again all over the backseat of her Alfa Romeo on the way back to campus, and was jealous since she could tell that the hippie and I had been making eyes at each other all night, and had seen the hippie even kiss me before I left to throw up in back.

I really got to meet her the following term when another person I knew when I first came to Camden (and who had been a hippie but quit) introduced us at a party at my urging. I cringed, mortified, when to my shock I realized I had been in the hippie’s Intro to Poetry Workshop my first term and this girl on the first day of class, so high her head looked like it was on springs, like some doped-up jack-in-the-box, raised her hand and said slowly, ‘This class is a total mindfuck.’ I dropped the class, disconcerted, but still wanting to fuck the hippie.

This was the Eighties, I kept thinking. How could there be any hippies left? I knew no hippies when I was growing up in New York. But here was a hippie, from a small town in Pennsylvania, no less. A hippie who was not too tall, who had long blond hair, features sharp, not soft like one would expect a hippie’s features to resemble, yet distant, too. And the skin smooth as brown marble and as clean. She always seemed clean; in fact she seemed abnormally healthy. A hippie who would say things like, ‘None of your beeswax,’ or commenting on food, ‘This is really mellow chili.’ A hippie who would bring her own chopsticks to every meal. A hippie who had a cat named Tahini.

JIMI LIVES was painted in big purple letters on her door. She was constantly stoned. Her favorite question was ‘Are you high?’ She wore tie-dyed shirts. She had beautiful smallish firm tits. She wore bell-bottoms and tried to learn how to play the sitar but she was always too stoned. She tried to dress me up one night: bell-bottoms, tie-dyed shirt, headband. Didn’t work. It was extremely embarrassing. She said ‘beautiful’ constantly. She didn’t have any goals. I read the poetry she’d write and lied that I liked it. She had a BMW 2002. She carried a bong in a tie-dyed satchel that she had made herself.

Like all rich hippies (for this hippie was extremely wealthy; her father owned VISA or something) she spent a lot of time following The Dead around. She’d simply split school for a week with other rich hippies and they’d follow them around New England, stoned out of their minds, reserving rooms and suites at Holiday Inns and Howard Johnsons and Ramada Inns, making sure to always have enough Blue Dragon or MDA or MDMA or Ecstasy. She’d come back from these excursions ecstatic, claiming that she was indeed one of Jerry’s long lost children; that her mother had made some sort of mistake before she married the VISA guy, that she truly was one of ‘Jerry’s kids.’ I guess she was one of Jerry’s kids, though I wasn’t sure which kind.

There were problems.

The hippie kept telling me I was too stiff, too uptight. And because of this the hippie and I broke up before the end of term. (I don’t know if that’s the real reason, but looking back it seems weird that we even bothered since the sex was so good.) It came to an end one night when I told her, ‘I think this is not working.’ She was stoned. I left her at the party after we made out in her room upstairs at Dewey House. I went home with her best friend She never knew or realized it.

The hippie was always tripping, which bothered me too. The hippie was always trying to get me to trip with her. I remembered the one time I did trip with her I saw the devil: it was my mother. I was also sort of amazed that she even liked me in the first place. I would ask her if she’d ever read much Hemingway. (I don’t know why I asked her about him since I never had read that much.) She would tell me about Allen Ginsberg and Gertrude Stein and Joan Baez. I asked

her if she had read Howl (which I had only heard about through some crazy class called Poetry and the Fifties, which I failed) and she said, ‘No. Sounds harsh.’

The last time I saw the hippie I was reading an article on the postmodern condition (this was when I was a Lit major, before I became a Ceramics major, before I became a Social Science major) for some class I failed in some stupid magazine called The New Left, and she was sitting on the floor of the smoking section, stoned, looking at the pictures in the novelization of the movie Hair with some other girl. She looked up at me and giggled then slowly waved. ‘Beautiful,’ she said, turning a page, smiling.

Yeah. Beautiful,’ I said.

‘I can dig it,’ the hippie told me after I read some of her haiku and told her I didn’t get it. The hippie told me to read The Tale of Genji (all of her friends had read it) but You have to read it stoned,’ she warned. The hippie also had been to Europe. France was ‘cool’ and India was ‘groovy’ but Italy wasn’t cool. I didn’t ask why Italy wasn’t, but I was intrigued why India was ‘groovy.’

‘The people are beautiful,’ she said. ‘Physically?’ I asked.
‘Yeah.’
‘Spiritually?’ I asked.

‘Uh-huh.’

‘How spiritually?’

‘They were groovy.’

I started liking the word ‘groovy’ and the word ‘wow.’ Wow. Spoken low, with no exclamation, eyes half-closed, fucking, how the hippie said it.

The hippie cried when Reagan won (the only other time I’d seen her cry was when the school dropped the yoga classes and replaced them with aerobics), even though I had explained patiently, carefully, what the outcome of the election was going to be, weeks in advance. We were on my bed and we were listening to a Bob Dylan record I had bought in town a week earlier, and she just said, sadly, ‘Fuck me,’ and I fucked the hippie.

One day I asked the hippie why she liked me since I was so different from her. She was eating pita bread and bean sprouts and writing on a napkin with a purple pen, a request for the comment board in the dining hall: More Tofu Please. She said, ‘Because you’re beautiful.’

I got fed up with the hippie and pointed to a fat girl across the room who had written something nasty about me on the laundry room wall; who had come up to me at a Friday night party and said, ‘You’d be gorgeous if you were five inches taller .’

‘Is she beautiful?’ I asked.

She looked up, bean sprout stuck on lower lip, squinted and said, Yeah.’

‘That bitch over there?’ I asked, pointing, appalled. ‘Oh her. I thought you meant that sister over there,’ she said.

I looked around. ‘Sister? What sister? No, her,’ exasperated, I pointed at the girl; mean-looking, fat, black sunglasses, a bitch.

‘Her?’ the hippie asked.

‘Yeah. Her.’

‘She’s beautiful too,’ she said, drawing a daisy next to the message on the napkin.

‘What about him?’ I pointed to a guy who it was rumored had actually caused his girlfriend to kill herself and everyone knew. There was no way in hell the hippie could think that he, this fucking monster, was beautiful.

‘Him? He’s beautiful.’

‘Him? Beautiful? He killed his fucking girlfriend. Ran her over,’ I said.

‘No way,’ the hippie grinned.

Yes! It’s true. Ran her straight over with a car,’ I said, excited.

She just shook her lovely, empty head. ‘Oh man.’ ‘Can’t you make distinctions?’ I asked her. ‘I mean, our sex is great, but how can everything, everyone be beautiful? Don’t you understand that that means no one is beautiful?’

‘Listen, man,’ the hippie said. ‘What are you getting at?’
She looked at me, not grinning. The hippie could be sharp. What was I getting at? I didn’t know. All I know was that the sex was terrific.

And that the hippie was cute. She loved sweet pickles. She liked the name Willie. She even liked Apocalypse Now. She was not a vegetarian. These were all on the plus side. But, once I introduced her to my friends, at the time, and they were all stuck-up asshole Lit majors and they made fun of her and she understood what was going on and her eyes, usually blue, too blue, vacant, were sad. And I protected her. I took her away from them. (‘Spell Pynchon,’ they asked her, cracking up.) And she introduced me to her friends. And we ended up sitting on some Japanese pillows in her room and we all smoked some pot and this little hippie girl with a wreath on her head, looked at me as I held her and said, ‘The world blows my mind.’ And you know what?

I fucked her anyway.

Thing that is undisputedly better than sex.

It’s 10:50 am. I just got home after spending the night with family at my folks’ place. We were supposed to have the traditional Christmas eve dinner and gift opening and drinking and cards and such. Mostly it didn’t happen. My brother has the flu and didn’t travel, meaning the little baby wasn’t gonna be in attendance. That’s a blow too big to recover from so we’re delaying Christmas a week and trying again next Wednesday night.

No big deal.

But anyway, there was still a little traveling involved and spending the night on a coach and not my bed and since I was only gonna be gone about 20 hours I didn’t even pack a bag or change of clothes.

I got back to my apartment just now and like any normal person would do I put on my sweats and most comfortable tee and hopped on the couch and for some reason I was immediately reminded of a passage from the Chuck Palahniuk novel, Choke: 

The problem with sex is the same as with any addiction. You’re always recovering. You’re always backsliding. Acting out. Until you find something to fight for, you settle for something to fight against. All these people who say they want a life free from sexual compulsion, I mean forget it. I mean, what could ever be better than sex?

For sure, even the worst blow job is better than, say, sniffing the best rose . . . watching the greatest sunset. Hearing children laugh.

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a hot-gushing, butt-cramping, gut-hosing orgasm.

Painting a picture, composing an opera, that’s just something you do until you find the next willing piece of ass.

The minute something better than sex comes along, you call me. Have me paged.

This. This is better than sex. Or an amazing meal. Or seeing the ocean for the first time after a long drive. Or anything, really.

Getting home after holiday traveling, almost regardless of distance or time away, putting on comfortable clothes and gearing up for a day of not dealing with anything holiday related is literally the best.

Aaron Rodgers and the 4th Quarter Failings

Today, ESPN Insider writer Scott Kacsmar takes aim at the Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers in particular) over what he believes to be Rodgers’ failures in the 4th quarter over his career.

He writes:

Trailing 34-30 with 3:47 remaining on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers had a chance to lead a game-winning touchdown drive to help the Green Bay Packers escape with a victory in Cincinnati. With the stage set for a classic finish after a wild game, this should have been a legacy-growing moment for the player many believe is the best quarterback in the NFL, right?

Not so fast. The Packers are just 5-24 (.172) in games when Rodgers had the ball in the fourth quarter, trailing by 1-8 points. Five comebacks in 29 tries? Tony Romo, considered by some to be a choker, led five comeback wins in the 2012 season alone. Among active starters, only Cam Newton (2-16) has a worse record than Rodgers.

He has numerous passing records, both a regular-season and Super Bowl MVP, but this is the one area on the résumé that continues to be a sore spot for Rodgers. Sunday was one of his worst finishes yet.

This time, while the drive was long in plays (13), it ended at the Cincinnati 20 after Rodgers’ pass was tipped on fourth-and-5. That was the third tipped ball of the drive, as the Packers’ offense ended the game with two interceptions, a fumble returned for the go-ahead score, and this turnover on downs.

These close-game failures have been the hush-hush hallmark of coach Mike McCarthy’s otherwise successful tenure as Packers head coach. While the blame should be distributed everywhere, why are we not looking at the quarterback more?

I’m going to trust that Kacsmar has his numbers correct. I know many have attributed two of the Packers close losses to Rodgers when it was Flynn that played all or the majority of the games against the Lions and Patriots in 2010, but I’ll give Kacsmar the benefit of the doubt here.

I take issue with anyone directly attributing a win to a quarterback in football, just like I scoff at the idea of pitcher wins and losses in baseball. These are team sports and teams win and lose ballgames. The pitcher and quarterback may influence the outcomes of these games more than other positions, but the whole idea of attributing these players wins and losses simplifies what is usually very complex.

Kacsmar seems to understand this is a team sport, and he address this later in the piece:

Of course, some of the 26 losses speak well for him. He has put Green Bay ahead seven times in the fourth quarter when trailing, only for the team to go on to lose the game. The defense is certainly deserving of blame for this.

Green Bay has allowed 20 game-winning drives since 2008, which is third-most in the league over that span. Last season, there was the Hail Mary to Seattle’s Golden Tate on that game’s final play. In Week 1 this year, Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to a 28-24 lead, only to watch Colin Kaepernick and the Niners score the game’s last 10 points for a San Francisco win.

While it’s been a team problem, all quarterbacks have close losses in which the defense failed them. The difference — in comparison to Rodgers — is that they always seem to have more wins, too.

I’ve watched every one of Rodgers games. I don’t think he’s perfect, but I do think he’s been as good or better than anyone else since he became a starter. In that timespan, I’ve never gotten the impression that Rodgers wasn’t clutch, but I was curious as to the circumstances in these close games that the Packers were losing.

Here is what I found out:

21 total losses in games decided by seven points or less


Game Team Score at the start of the 4th Did the Packers tie or take the lead (Y/N/# of times) Final Score Final Offensive Possession (4th/OT)
1 Atlanta 10-17 Yes 24-27 TD
2 @Tennessee 10-16 Yes 16-19 OT Punt
3 @Minnesota 24-21 No 27-28 Missed FG
4 Carolina 21-21 Yes (Twice) 31-35 Int.
5 Houston 7-13 Yes (Twice) 21-24 Punt
6 @Jacksonville 13-7 Yes 16-20 Int
7 @Chicago 17-10 No 17-20 Missed FG

2009:

Game Team Score at the start of the 4th Did the Packers tie or take the lead (Y/N/# of times) Final Score Final Offensive Possession (4th/OT)
8 Cincinnati 21-28 No 24-31 False start
9 @Minnesota 14-28 No 23-30 FG
10 Pittsburgh 14-21 Yes (twice) 36-37 TD
11 @Arizona 24-38 Yes (twice) 45-51 OT TD/Fumble

2010

Game Team Score at the start of the 4th Did the Packers tie or take the lead (Y/N/# of times) Final Score Final Offensive Possession (4th/OT)
12 @Chicago 10-7 Yes 17-20 Fumble
13 @Washington 13-3 No 13-16 OT Missed FG / INT
14 Miami 10-13 Yes (twice) 20-23 OT TD / Punt
15 @Atlanta 10-10 Yes 17-20 TD

2011

Game

Team Score at the start of the 4th Did the Packers tie or take the lead (Y/N/# of times) Final Score Final Offensive Possession (4th/OT)
16 @Kansas City 7-9 No 14-19 TD

2012

Game Team Score at the start of the 4th Did the Packers tie or take the lead in the 4th (Y/N/# of times) Final Score Final Offensive Possession (4th/OT)
17 @Seattle 6-7 Yes 14-12 Punt
18 @Indianapolis 21-19 Yes 27-30 Missed FG
19 @Minnesota 24-27 Yes (twice) 34-37 TD

2013

Game Team Score at the start of the 4th Did the Packers tie or take the lead (Y/N/# of times) Final Score Final Offensive Possession (4th/OT)
20 @San Francisco 21-21 Y 28-34 Inc.
21 @Cincinnati 30-21 N 30-24 Inc

Here are two things that immediately jumped out at me:

1 – 66% of the losses included Packer scoring drives that resulted in a tie game or a Green Bay advantage.

and

2 – 57% of the Packers final possessions in the 4th quarter were scores or missed FGs.

Note: there were two instances in which the Packers final drive occurred with under five seconds on the clock. I instead used their previous possession)

On Sunday at Cincinnati, Rodgers had one of his worst games as a professional. It wasn’t a good look for him, throwing a costly interception late and finishing the game with two balls batted down.

But I don’t believe that the narrative should be that he’s un-clutch or worse, he’s costing his teams games when the score gets tight late. The evidence will actually show that more often than not he’s put his team in position to win the game.

One quick note regarding the absurdity of stats

This will be brief.

Joe Posnanski recently wrote about the absurdity of some stats, and it’s worth your time.

In it he makes a particularly good case for killing the error and I’m definitely with him to a certain degree.

But I’m not here to talk about that. My ire today is for another prominent statistic for another prominent fuck-up in another prominent sport: the interception. I love football, but there isn’t anything more dumb to me about the sport than punishing a quarterback when a receiver fucks up.

I watch a majority of the games on Saturday and Sunday with my younger brother, a former quarterback and current coach. Over the years we’ve grown to loathe the idea of an interception more and more, because often times the situation isn’t cut and dry. Maybe the WR ran the wrong wrote and the ball sailed into the arms of a defender that wouldn’t have made a play on the ball otherwise. Maybe a RB or OT blows a cut block and a pass is batted into the air, landing right in a lineman’s lap.

Or maybe a WR simply doesn’t catch a perfect pass and the ball ends up in the hands of a defender.

NOPE

That was a pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jermichael Finley. As you can see, it was placed about as perfectly as a ball can be: out in front of the receiver, eye level and on-time.

Finley bobbled the ball, it ended up into the arms of defensive back Eric Reid of the 49ers and the stat sheet will say that it was Rodgers that fucked up.

This happens all the time, and it drives me nuts.

How are we, in 2013, still penalizing quarterbacks for the fuck-ups of others. How do we not have a stat for this? Why aren’t drops that lead to picks a “thing”? Hell, why aren’t drops listed in (typical) stat-books at all?

Not all interceptions are created equal, but they’re going to shape the narrative all the same. It has to stop.

A Matter of Taste

Twitter has completely changed the television viewing experience. If you’re on it, you know what I mean. Whenever a BIG TELEVISION EVENT happens, Twitter lights up and it’s impossible to avoid because everyone is writing about the same thing.*

*as I type this a dozen people on my Twitter list bitched about Ryan Seacrest at the NFL game.

Good luck avoiding spoilers. When a show airs you’re interested in watching but NOT THAT SECOND you have two choices:

1 – Just shut Twitter down for the night
2 – Live with the chance that someone is going to spill it because they forget not everyone is watching live

I’m an Option One kind of person. By now I know enough to go Twitter dark on such occasions.

But even if you happen to avoid spoilers and the HOLY FUCKING SHIT YOU GUYS DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT WE JUST SAW kind of tweets it doesn’t mean you’re completely shut-out on the discussion. The popular shows become part of INTERNET CULTURE. Don’t watch Mad Men or Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones? You’re going to feel like the loser in the classroom because that’s all THE INTERNET wants to discuss the following day.

Now. If you aren’t on the Internet regularly? If Twitter to you is just a stupid word and it’s just a bunch of people sharing what they’re eating? If you’ve never read a blog or a board? You could be forgiven for never hearing about Breaking Bad. The Red Wedding is meaningless.

But this blog post isn’t for you.

Battlestar Gallactica

I don’t watch most shows live. It’s actually pretty rare. But I do generally keep up with the big ones within a day of them airing since becoming old enough to pay for my TV services.

There have been exceptions, though, and giving in and binging becomes the only possible option because INTERNET BUZZ is just too overwhelming. Sometimes I give in and I’m glad. Prior to the final season of Battlestar Gallactica the hype was huge and I got caught up before what ended up being one of my favorite series finales ever.

But other times? Other times I get Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad, the final season, is happening right now. The finale is in a few weeks. It promises to be a BIG TELEVISION EVENT. Over the last month or so we’ve been getting articles on where the show ranks among the all-time greats, and if you’re to believe the critics and the rabid fanbase you’re going to see it right at the top of the list.

I gave it a shot, sort of, once before. Back in season two I fired up the pilot, fell asleep and forgot about it for three years.

It was only after the Internet Hype hit critical mass that I gave it another go. Whether I liked it or not, I would watch three seasons.

I did, I liked it…kinda. Not really.

A mark of a TV show I’m likely to love is based on some really basic criteria:

• Does it invoke emotion? Does it make me laugh? Does it piss me off? Does it shock me? Any kind of emotion is a good thing. Furthermore, am I emotionally invested in the characters or the story?

• Am I going to want to randomly re-watch an episode six months or six years from now?

• Does it have characters I can either identify with or root for?

• Is it memorable or is it forgettable?

Breaking Bad fit none of the above. I gave it three entire seasons, and what I got were awful characters, a glacial pace and forgettable (if not repeated) plot lines.

I didn’t give a shit about anything I was watching.

A character dies? Fuck it, I didn’t like them anyway. Something bad happens to Walt? He’s a shitty person so fuck him. It isn’t funny, it’s light on the BIG EVENTS, every episode rolls together because it’s closer to one 10 hour movie as opposed to a series of episodes with their own individual mini-stories.

I gave it three seasons. I peeked ahead to see if I was going to miss out on anything Earth shattering. Nope. Season five sounds like the exact same boring shit with the exact same boring and deplorable characters.

I gave up.

I’m a firm believer in there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. Like what you like. No, scratch that. LOVE what you LOVE. Get totally invested in what you want, embrace it and make no apologies. If someone gives you shit? FUCK THEIR INSECURE ASS.

Breaking Bad isn’t for me. I don’t think it’s a bad show and I can see why others may love it (I guess) but it doesn’t hit any of the notes that make for great television according to my checklist.

Update: After the INTERNET HYPE got huge, I watched the final three episodes of Breaking Bad. I loved them all. They were brilliant and amazing and incredibly entertaining. Do I regret skipping season 4 and most of season five? HAHA NOPE.

Look: if anything in the first three seasons was anything close to the final three episodes, I would have kept going. There wasn’t.

So…what does?

the_west_wing_rank

YOU SAID IT, PAL.

Let’s make us a list. God knows I love them.

Coming up with a list of my favorite TV shows wasn’t incredibly difficult. For one, I didn’t even really start watching a lot of TV until my mid to late 20s. There was the rare show that got my attention during college, but they were few and far between. It only took me a handful of minutes to come up with every show I’d watched enough of to have an opinion on.

I’m gonna rank ’em. Let’s freaking roll.

The NOT YET

I will eventually watch these. I have no opinion on them yet:

• Downton Abby
• Boardwalk Empire
• Dollhouse
• Bob’s Burgers
• Modern Family

People seem to like them quite a bit and I’ll give them all a shot.

The MEH

These are shows I’ve watched over the years that I’ve watched enough to have an opinion, but lost me. Might have happened after a season, might have happened after three. But one way or another I gave up and I doubt I go back.

• Mad Men
• True Blood
• Parks and Rec
• Louie
• The Killing
• Girls
• Eastbound and Down
• The Sopranos
• Dexter
• Californication
• The Tudors
• Six Feet Under
• Weeds
• Breaking Bad
• Entourage
• Nip/Tuck
• Homeland
• Gossip Girl
• The Walking Dead
• How I Met Your Mother
• Community
• One Tree Hill
• Heroes
• Friday Night Lights
• The Office
• Chuck

A lot of people love a lot of these shows. In most cases I get why. But I lost interest in all of them.

The REALLY PRETTY GOOD

These shows are good. I’ve watched every episode. They’re just not my favorites:

• Lucky Louie
• Lost
• Cheers
• California Dreams (YUP. GOING DEEP ON THIS ONE)
• MacGuyver
• The Wire
• Damages
• The Simpsons
• Sleeper Cell
• Seinfeld
• Coach
• The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
• The Shield
• NYPD Blue
• Rescue Me
• Smallville
• 24
• Invasion
• House
• Jericho
• V
• The LA Complex

Some of those were tough to leave off. I grew up on Coach, Fresh Prince, Seinfeld, Cheers and MacGuyver. 24, House, Lost, NYPD Blue and Smallville were great for binge watching. The LA Complex, V, Jericho, Sleeper Cell and Lucky Louie should have gone on for a lot longer than they did. You really need to watch these shows if you missed ’em.

Seriously. THE LA COMPLEX. It’s insanely twisty and every episode has a cliff hanger. Watch it.

The NOT YET.

These shows may be worthy of rank at some point. They’re still going on and I love them but I need to see more:

• Pretty Little Liars
• New Girl
• Once Upon a Time
• Revenge
• Hannibal
• Haven
• Arrow
• Person of Interest
• The Newsroom
• Hart of Dixie
• Scandal
• American Horror Story
• Castle
• Shameless
• Suits
• Veep
• White Collar

Of the ones on this list, Hannibal, Arrow, The Newsroom and Pretty Little Liars are the best bets to become all time favorites. BECAUSE TWISTS AND STUFF.

Here is THE RANKING.

Alright, folks. Let’s do this.

the RELIABLE COMEDIES

34 – Scrubs
33 – Will and Grace
32 – Family Guy
31 – 30 Rock

Pick an episode out of a hat and I’ll find myself laughing at some point. Nothing groundbreaking or too amazing, but having a show you can rely on for consistent LOLs is hella huge.

Karen Walker is my spirit animal.

The BINGE WORTHY

30 – It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia 
29 – The League
28 – Cougar Town
27 – Psych
26 – Better off Ted

MOAR COMEDIES.

I will legitimately laugh my ass off if you flip on one of these shows.

Better Off Ted was lightning in a bottle that deserved more seasons.

Psych, Cougar Town and Always Sunny have overstayed their welcome, but they’re all hilarious and perfect lazy Saturday Netflix material.

The DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA

25 – The Practice
24 – Sons of Anarchy
23 – Game of Thrones
22 – Justified
21 – Nikita

All of these shows have issues. I don’t really care so much because when they’re good they’re REALLY FREAKING GOOD.

I know you’re not watching Nikita. You’re missing one of the best, smartest most twisty spy thrillers to ever hit TV.

The Practice won’t be the last David E. Kelly appearance on this list.

And Art is the best.


The CRIMINALLY ABANDONED

20 – Veronica Mars
19 – Sports Night
18 – Reaper
17 – Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
16 – Firefly

Fuck.

To hell with every executive responsible for killing these shows before their time.

Everyone knows Firefly and Sports Night and Veronica Mars were great.

I’m here to beg you to see the critically slammed Studio 60 and the basically never watched Reaper.

Studio 60 has all the heart a TV show could ever hope to have. It will make you cheer, tear up, grin like a bastard and break down. No, it isn’t funny in the way it had to be. But it packed so much into so few episodes that there’s absolutely no wasted episodes. It also wraps up nicely.

As for Reaper? Reaper is a Kevin Smith creation way the hell ahead of its time. If it had been on any other network it’d be considered a comedy classic. Ray Wise and Tyler Labine steal ALL THE SCENES. You can finish the whole series in days and when you do you can feel free to thank me.

The TRACY MCGRADY DIVISION

15 – Ally McBeal
14 – Fringe
13 – The OC

These shows had peaks as good as anything I’ve ever watched. They also had massive lows. Ranking these shows was tough.

I obviously love The OC and have written a few thousand words explaining why. I could justify Fringe in my top five if I had too. It was the perfect sci-fi drama when it was on and it was as close to cinema on network TV as you’ll get. Ally McBeal? At its best it was hilarious with a lot of heart. At its worst it was cringe inducing and it really fell apart at the end.

But the highs carry these shows. When I think of these shows I think of the really great episodes and the memorable characters. I don’t think about the terrible final seasons of Fringe or Ally and I’ve blocked season 3 of The OC from my memory. IT DID NOT HAPPEN.

The SENTIMENTAL FAVORITES

12 – Saved by the Bell
11 – Ducktales/Rescue Rangers/Tailspin/Darkwing Duck
10 – Wings

Elementary school, every damn day.

These are the shows I grew up with, no way in hell I’m leaving them off my list.

That Disney two hour block was amazing. Have there been four better consecutive shows in TV history? NOPE. If I ever have kids, they’re growing up on this stuff too.

Fun fact: my 29 year old brother will still regularly flip on Wings and Saved By The Bell on Netflix. Not even gonna hate.

The UNDERDOG

9 – Happy Endings

Seriously, where the hell did this show come from? And why didn’t anyone watch it?

No (live-action) show packed so many killer lines into every episode. Every spoken word was meant to be hilarious. Good luck figuring out who was best. They were all amazing.

THIS SHOW MADE ELISHA CUTHBERT HILARIOUS.

The GENRE TV TO END ALL GENRE TV (ALMOST)

8 – Supernatural
7 – Spartacus
6 – The Vampire Diaries
5 – Battlestar Galactica

You all can keep your Breaking Bads and Mad Men and Sopranos. I like my TV fantastical. I want regular every day characters put in situations you won’t ever see in real life.

Supernatural is a show that’s simply hurt by its staggering amount of episodes. Do you realize that it just finished season eight? That they’re going to shoot ten? There will be over two hundred 45 minute Supernatural episodes by the time the show wraps up its run.

TWO FREAKING HUNDRED.

I could put together a full season of absolutely amazing Supernatural episodes that would rival the best shows ever put on TV. When it was great, it was the best thing that no one watched. If you’re looking for something special, check out the later half of season one and don’t stop until you finish season three. It’s an amazing run.

Then it fell off a cliff. There was the occasional really good episode but they got scarcer and scarcer and eventually the show went off the rails and I gave up. I’ve heard good things about season eight(!) but I’m skeptical.

But still, it was an amazing show when it was at its best.

Spartacus is incredible. Game of Thrones gets all the love for those that like their shows incredibly violent and incredibly naked, but Spartacus blows GoT away in both. The villains are better, the heroes more relatable and more human, the drama more entertaining. Game of Thrones is great, but when its bad it seems like its trying to move chess pieces around on a board. Spartacus doesn’t waste episodes like that. It’s a show that leaves your balls in your thought when it’s not showing them on-screen. Seriously, this is as progressive a show as we’ve seen, maybe ever. Lotta dick.

The Vampire Diaries are a joke to those that have never given it a shot. It gets swept up in the tween vampire wave (HEY TWILIGHT FUCK YOU) when in reality it’s a violent, mature, often funny show that doesn’t skimp on the HOLY SHIT moments. I like shows that leave your jaw on the ground. TVD has that in spades, whether it’s killing off main characters or bringing back ones you thought were long dead. It doesn’t mind screwing with its mythology and it’s got serious wit.

And eye candy. Lots and lots of eye candy.

Battlestar Galactica was The West Wing on a star ship. Pick a social issue and it tackled it. There were twists and cliff hangers in almost every episode. There were mysteries that lasted multiple seasons. The jaw dropping moments were common. I can’t get anyone I know to watch it because ROBOTS IN SPACE but that’s their fucking loss.

The FUNNIEST TV SHOW EVER

4 – Archer

“I don’t like cartoons.”

Do you know how many times I’ve heard that? THREE. It happened all three times I tried to get my friends to watch the funniest thing on TV going right now.

You cannot watch Archer and not laugh. It is not possible. I’m leaving this in the hands of the GIF GODS. (via UPROXX)




THAT ISN’T EVEN FROM A FULL SEASON (DUH) AND THERE ARE FOUR OF THEM AND SEASON FIVE STARTS SOON SO YOU CAN TOTALLY CATCH UP.

The JOSS WHEDON DIVISION

3 – Angel
2 – Buffy The Vampire Slayer

These two shows embody everything I love about TV. That list of requirements above? They check off every one:

• The proverbial BIG THINGS happen
• They’re witty with smart dialogue (it’s Joss Whedon, so of course)
• They hit every social issue out there
• You can’t help but become completely invested in the characters
• You will lose your shit when those characters die

Yea, your favorite character? DEAD AS A DOORNAIL. And I loved the shows for it.

There were always consequences in Angel and Buffy. Nothing ever went unpunished, and no one was ever happy for long. Whedon was notorious for making his audience love a character and when things were looking up, after seasons of struggles and happiness was in sight, he’d pull the rug out from underneath the viewer.

And those moments were devastating. Even on repeat viewings I don’t believe what I’m seeing.

Now granted, things weren’t always terrible for our heroes. Both shows, Buffy in particular, were really really funny. It was a show for smart people who like quick dialogue. Angel was darker and almost noir and less optimistic. Not surprisingly, the finale (which was perfect) was a depressing hour of TV. R.I.P., world.

Both shows are essentially perfect. Smart, funny, sexy, mind-blowing, heart warming and heart wrenching. You’ll scream and laugh and be pissed off and sad and confused. If you’re looking for two shows to bring about an emotional response, it’s Whedon’s two masterpieces. There isn’t much else you could ask for in television or movies or books or music…any media. This is almost as good as it gets.

The Best. Ever.

No way I’m justifying this selection in a couple paragraphs and I’ll be writing more down the line.

But The West Wing is the best show of all time.

The O.C. is Ten Years Old

The O.C., as of today, is officially ten years old. Do you remember where you were when its pilot debuted? NEITHER DO I! I was in college and since it was in prime time I’m just gonna assume I’d been drinking.

But while I wasn’t on board initially, by the start of season two it was my favorite show. Hell, it might have been my only show; I didn’t watch much television back then.

There have been a lot of great things written on the show today. Obviously Danger Guerrero at UPROXX was going to have a post. This interview from Alan Sepinwall is huge and great. I managed to score a 32/50 on this quiz at Vulture. The O.C. had a lot of fans back then, and I think it’s only grown in appreciation with time. If you’ve seen the show, you know why: it’s funny, it has heart, it’s filled with outrageous situations and it’s filled with hella attractive people. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend picking up the DVDs. Fuck you, Netflix Watch Instantly.

Even with all the great reading material out there today regarding this great show, I couldn’t let the ten year anniversary pass without sharing some thoughts of my own. I may even have enough for an old school Ten Things:

1 – It made me realize that there’s no shame in liking what you like.

Some people never have to hide their relative embarrassment over their personal tastes. They like what they like and they have no problem if the entire world knows.

I wasn’t one of those people.

Maybe you’re a friend of mine and you’ve long known I have a soft spot for 90s boy bands and 80s hair metal. Maybe you knew me as a college senior when I wouldn’t click past a rom-com on cable (“YOU’VE GOT MAIL” IS CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED). Maybe you’ve seen what’s currently playing in my iTunes via G-Chat when I’ve gone entire afternoons playing Taylor Swift, Prince and Kelly Clarkson and I didn’t care if everyone on my contact list knew about it.

The guy I am now, the one that doesn’t give a shit about what people think, wasn’t who I was in 2003. Nope, back then I listened to my music with the door closed and the speakers down, mindful of what people in the dorms would say or think. Then The O.C. happened and my attitudes about such things started changing.

Like I said above, I don’t remember the exact moment I started to love The O.C. I do know it happened at some point during the summer between my senior and super senior year of college. But I came back to college that fall determined to get my roommates on board, and that’s exactly what happened. I took some shit initially for being hooked on a show whose primary target was teenage girls, but within weeks of playing the show up, every Tuesday night in our college house was was reserved for The OC. We debated the girls, laughed at Seth and bought the DVDs. Nothing to watch? Marathon session of The O.C.

All of the sudden my pop culture interests were less taboo. Other people like the same weird shit as me I relalized. No longer were my tastes in music and TV and movies something to hide, they were a fundamental part of who I was. I wore my interests (the weird and the normal) as a sort of a badge of honor, and have ever since.

2 – The music.

If there was one way to convince your friends to watch The O.C. that didn’t involve the ridiculous looking cast, it was the music they featured during every episode.

Just take a look at this list. I mean, holy shit, right?

I went a good decade-plus having never flipped on FM radio. The music I listened to was a result of friend recommendations, music message boards and soundtracks.

Oh, and TV shows. Nothing, certainly back then and perhaps to this day, has ever had a better soundtrack than The O.C.

The list I linked to speaks for itself. If you’re the kind of person that likes modern rock and pop that you didn’t necessarily hear on the radio (at least that’s how it was in my small college town), you were going to find new tunes you loved during every episode. Not all of it was from complete unknowns, but you did get a lot of new artists looking for exposure. The O.C. helped launch a lot of artists in the music industry.

My top ten favorite songs from the series:

10 – Silversun PIckups – Lazy Eye
9 – Liz Phair – Why Can’t I
8 – The All-American Rejects – Swing Swing
7 – The Alkaline Trio – We’ve Had Enough
6 – Placebo – Running up that Hill
5 – The Killers – Mr. Brightside
4 – Nada Surf – If you Leave
3 – Puddle of Mudd – Away from Me
2 – Ryan Adams – Wonderfwall
1 – Jeff Buckley – Hallelujah

3 – It’s legitimately hilarious.

I’ve grown to love some good comedy on TV. Archer, Happy Endings, Cougar Town and The League are among my favorite shows to watch and they’ll have me laughing like a bastard, week in and week out. But those shows all fit the 22 minute sitcom mold. The O.C. was a 44 minute drama that could regularly make you laugh with its crazy good wit.

Honestly, the wit was the best thing about the show. I like smart, quick characters that say the right thing at the right moment more often than not. It’s why I love Sorkin. The O.C. gets it right in the form of characters that make you wish you were a little quicker with your one liners. I’d watch the O.C., and steal just about every line I could remember.

They were usually said by this guy…

4 – Seth is the fucking best.

Seth Cohen is one of my two or three favorite characters in television history. The awkward nerd with the one liners and ability to get the girl in the end was the dude that other awkward dudes wanted to be.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9sKCxbuN14&w=420&h=315]

Never change, Seth Cohen.

OH. AND SPEAKING OF…

5 – Anna > Summer.

Anna is better than season one Summer, and THAT’S NOT EVEN REMOTELY FUCKING DISPUTABLE. Sorry, Mr. Guerrero.

Let’s just recap who Summer was and what she did prior to Anna leaving Seth’s life forever:

• she doesn’t even know who Seth is despite his efforts, repeatedly gets his name wrong
• uses Seth’s crush as a way to get invited to a party, ditches him to hit on banker bros
• dumps Seth prior to Cotillion when she thinks she can get a better date
• won’t acknowledge she’s friends with Seth when it actually does happen
• gets hella jealous only when Seth choses Anna, tries to break them up
• generally acts like a spoiled twat for the majority of the season

Ugh, Season One Summer was shitty.

MEANWHILE, Anna is the girl love you to hang out with. She knows all the best bands, likes the same shit you do, helps you out with other girls until you realize that she’s the one who’s totally perfect.

Team freaking Anna forever, man.

6 – You can thank The O.C. for Olivia Wilde, you ungrateful jerks.

That said, Anna didn’t take the title as the top reason for red blooded hetero boys and lesbian gals to turn in. It wasn’t Summer or Marissa either. Nope, that title goes to Alex, a lovely young lady played by total newcomer Olivia Wilde.

Alex

Look, I’m not saying it wasn’t easy to get my friends hooked on this show, but I’d be lying if I said having the bisexual Alex as a key cast member in season two hurt the efforts. She was jaw-droppingly hot. She dated both Seth AND Marissa, and it lead to one of the series best moments. You will want to watch this, ya’ll:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-F6WjTm_z0&w=560&h=315]

Side note, I’ve always found it hilarious that in the video there’s a bottle of J&B just sitting there on a teenage girl’s shelf. Solid choice.

I like to think that it was her role on The O.C. that directly lead to her becoming one of the biggest stars on the planet. Mischa Barton, the other girl in that video, did not go on to superstardom. The reason is obvious now, but back then…

7 – Holy shit, Mischa Barton couldn’t act.

Look, I didn’t watch a lot of TV. I blame my lack of TV viewing experience to explain the fact that back then I didn’t have a problem with Mischa Barton’s character Marissa. It was only after I rewatched the series years later that it was almost painful to watch her try and act. Holy shit she’s awful.

This revelation will be especially noteworthy to my college friends from back then (HI GUYS IF YOU’RE READING THIS LET’S GET DRINKS AND CATCH UP AND STUFF). I, um, had a thing for miss Marissa Cooper. I may or may not have mumbled to myself whenever she’d show up on screen, annoying my friends. She was a damn goddess. Guys, despite the acting issues, she alone makes the show worth watching.

Still can’t act, though.

8 – The fourth season was great.

The first season of The O.C. was amazing.

The second season had some amazing episodes, but signs of erosion were there. Critics opined that they burned through all their ideas too soon.

The third season is where the show went completely off the rails. Good god it was terrible. The audience lost its following, writers stopped doing recaps, people moved on.

Then a weird thing happened: the show got really good again, and nobody watched.

I’m a West Wing nut. I’ve seen the Sorkin era episodes a minimum of ten times over the last ten years. They were spectacular. But when he left the show, the writing got bad by West Wing standards and most people have to add the caveat that when discussing TWW’s greatness, you only speak of the first four seasons.

But those that stuck around know that at the tail-end, in a shortened final season, The West Wing rebounded with some of the best episodes and arcs in series history.

It’s the same story with The O.C.. The last season is legitimately great. They graduated past cliched high school bullshit, gone was the criminal low life element they used in the third season to add drama, the characters were now adults and dealing with more mature plots lines, TAYLOR TOWNSEND DIDN’T SUCK AND WAS TOTALLY ADORABLE.

9 – It was completely ahead of its time.

If there’s a hint of resentment I may have regarding The O.C., its that it came about ten years too early.

TV today is aided greatly by social media. It turns everything you watch live into a social event. Don’t believe me? Log onto Twitter during Mad Men or Game of Thrones or Archer or virtually any sporting event. Appointment TV plus Twitter means you’re never watching anything alone. The world is watching with you (or it seems that way) and you’re able to get real time opinions on everything.

The O.C., in 2003 and 2004, was appointment TV. It was a show loaded with snark and humor and plot twists. It was the kind of show that the Twitter generation could eat up and discuss for days. I can’t even imagine what the online reaction would be to it today.

Guys, what I’m saying is we should all re-watch The O.C. and comment about it on Twitter, basically.

10 – The Best Episodes (according to me)

You have to start from the beginning. You can skip the third episode where Ryan’s mom gets drunk and embarrasses him, but other than that you should watch the whole series. Once you’ve done that, I’m confident you’ll agree with my rankings:

5 – Pilot – Welcome to the O.C., bitch.

4 – The Ties that Bind – Season one finale. CLIFFHANGERS GALORE.

3 – The Countdown – Ryan botches it when Marissa says I love you and it’s totally hilarious. Oliver’s dreams get smashed on New Years. Fuck Oliver, he sucked.

2 – The Dearly Beloved – An important cast member is buried, another one is shot, hella big cliff hanger.

1 – The Rainy Day Women – Seth finds out about Alex and Marissa, Summer makes her choice re: Seth, Lindsey finds out who her father is. It’s pretty much the perfect episode of TV.