The Lardy

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the second annual Lard Biscuit Achievement Awards! Round about every December, everybody just loves putting together their meaningless and self-important lists of the best and biggest accomplishments of the past year, so I'm getting into the act with my own awards ceremony that has utterly no significance to anybody besides myself. I don't care if anybody else gives a shit or not.

Without further ado, I hereby present the winners of the 2001 Lardies, bestowing the coveted and voluptuous golden trophy that honors only the most outstanding achievements in lardy goodness. The envelope, please...

Best Album of 2001

Field Songs Field Songs
Mark Lanegan

The Screaming Trees were far and away the finest band to emerge from the Seattle "grunge" scene, but you'd never know it from the minimal recognition they received. Since they broke up a few years back, Trees singer Mark Lanegan has continued with the soulful, acoustic-based solo albums he began recording in 1990. Field Songs, his fifth, is probably the best he's done to date. Lanegan's inimitable voice is in fine form, its paradoxical mixture of craggy grit and melodic smoothness as amazing as ever. You can practically smell the cigarettes and whiskey wafting out of your speakers. All the songs are beautiful, but my favorites are the elegant "Kimiko's Dream House" (which at first I misheard as "Chemicals Dream High"), and the uncharacteristically bombastic "No Easy Action," which could pass for a lost Page & Plant composition circa "Kashmir." While Lanegan's going strong and former Trees drummer Barrett Martin has been working with R.E.M. and Mike Watt, what the hell ever happened to the big, burly Conner brothers? Man, I miss those guys.

Honorable Mentions:
Days of Speed, Paul Weller
God Bless the Go-Go's, The Go-Go's

Best Movie of 2001

The Man Who Wasn't There The Man Who Wasn't There
Joel and Ethan Coen

For the second year running, the Coen brothers have nabbed the Lardy for cinematic excellence. Although I typically prefer the Coens' comedies, The Man Who Wasn't There is probably the most serious movie they've ever done. Oh, it's got flying saucers and pig rides and hilarious dumb-guy dialogue, but at its core this is a moving and tragic portrayal of the dark emptiness of one man's existence. Billy Bob Thornton is perfect as smalltown barber Ed Crane, who has spent his life in a passive daze, deeply discontent but unwilling even to complain about anything. In the course of the story, Ed finds the determination to act decisively on two occasions, for two completely different reasons. Each time, his deeds lead to horrible consequences for himself and those around him. It poses the troubling question of whether Ed shouldn't have just left his mediocre life the way it was instead of rocking the boat, a conundrum I can relate with heavily on a personal level. Plus, the movie is visually gorgeous, a black and white noir de force shot by master cinematographer Roger Deakins. With all due respect to that bearded, flannel-shirt guy with the outer space movies, I must admit that Joel and Ethan Coen are the best filmmakers working today. And yes, The Man Who Wasn't There is far, far better than that overrated Hobbit deal that came out this Christmas.

Honorable Mention:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Chris Columbus

Best DVD of 2001

The Phantom Menace DVD Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
George Lucas

Well, duh. I love this movie to pieces, and here it is on a 2-disc set that has just about all the extras any fan could reasonably ask for. At last we know what it's like to watch Star Wars at home in some way besides shitty VHS tape. Hell, this ain't just the best DVD of 2001, it's the best DVD of all time, so far. Go read my review if you want to hear more about it, because that's all I've got to say. Oh yeah, there is one little thing I'll add for all those who hate The Phantom Menace: Mesa tinken yousa can suck it.

Honorable Mentions:
The Complete Anna Nicole Smith
Lawrence of Arabia

Best Comics Series of 2001

Promethea Promethea
Alan Moore, J.H. Williams III and Mick Gray

Alan Moore is the old master of comics, and he's a sneaky one. Promethea started out like the rest of his America's Best Comics line, a frothy super-heroic confection that was clever and fun to read, but ultimately just empty calories. I've been yearning for him to get back to doing another "serious" epic like From Hell. But right under our noses, he's transformed Promethea into a thoroughly meaningful and literate work that will take its rightful place in the Moore canon. The concept of the book is roughly Wonder Woman combined with Neil Gaiman's Sandman -- the title heroine is the goddess of imagination, the embodiment of creativity. Her mortal alter ego Sophie Bangs transforms into Promethea not by uttering a magic word, but by writing a poem. This past year she has taken a magical mystery tour of the fantasy realms, a trippy travelogue serving as Moore's personal explanation of the Kabbalah, the Tarot, creation, the afterlife, the meaning of the universe, and everything. Some readers have complained that it's become too much of a long-winded sermon from Moore, himself a believer and practitioner of the magickal arts, but I find it fascinating. Promethea has influenced my own thoughts on creativity as an act of magic, a concept I will be exploring myself in The Lard Biscuit in 2002. And I must give props to the dazzling artwork of Williams and Gray, who have met the challenge of Alan's insanely intricate scripts most beautifully.

Honorable Mentions:
Love and Rockets Vol. 2, Los Bros. Hernandez
Outlaw Nation, Jamie Delano, Goran Sudzuka and Goran Parlov

Best Book of 2001

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Michael Chabon

I don't read a lot of contemporary fiction, mainly because I greatly prefer reading comics rather than prose. But I got interested in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay because the subject was comics. Although the novel was published in 2000 and won the Pulitzer, I didn't hear about it until it was released in paperback this year. Set in the 1940s, it's the story of writer Sam Clay and artist Joe Kavalier, a Golden Age comics team that's sort of a roman a clef of Siegel and Shuster crossed with Lee and Kirby. Cleverly playing off the notion that comic books are juvenile, escapist trash, Chabon presents Kavalier and Clay's hit creation called the Escapist, a Houdini-inspired master of escape and liberator of the oppressed. The book is packed with delightful obscure references for those of us familiar with comics history and lore, but its treasures are easily accessible for the uninitiated. Through his ornate and evocative prose, Chabon spins a heartfelt tale of fleeting happiness, lost love, severed friendships, and irrevocable decisions that define a person's life. It's also very funny. Kavalier and Clay has left me determined to find the time to read novels more often... even ones that aren't comics-related.

Honorable Mentions:
Berlin, Book One: City of Stones, Jason Lutes
Cloak of Deception, James Luceno

Best TV Series of 2001

Iron Chef Iron Chef
Fuji TV/Food Network

Yes, I know, the series actually ended in 1999, but this year we American viewers got to enjoy a bunch of never-before-seen Iron Chef treasures, some old, some new. First there was Food Network's big "IC3" weekend, featuring the grand 2000th Dish Special and the Morimoto/Flay rematch. The 2000th Dish battle supreme between Chen-san's Chinese dream team and Sakai-san's French all-stars stands as my favorite Kitchen Stadium showdown of all time, and was clearly the most exciting televised spectacle I enjoyed all year. I got so excited during Chairman Kaga's introductory spiel that I actually danced around my living room in quivering anticipation. Then this fall Food Network started airing the old episodes never shown in the U.S., dating back from 1994. At last we have learned of the culinary might of original Iron Chef Japanese Michiba, truly the most powerful of the Iron Chefs. With several years' worth of old shows and occasional new specials waiting in our future, all I've got to say is... Allez cuisine!

Honorable Mention:
24, Fox

Best Web Site of 2001

eBay eBay

This year I finally proved my theory that no matter what you're looking for, if it exists, and it's more or less legal, and if you're persistent enough, you will eventually find it on eBay. I obtained two of my most elusive Holy Grails of Anna Nicole Smith memorabilia, thanks to eBay: a giant poster from her first Lane Bryant modeling work back in the mid-'90s, and the October 1994 German Marie Claire featuring an exclusive photo shoot. Plus, I scored two rare "Making of Star Wars" video tapes, and some other cool items. It's no mystery why eBay has succeeded where so many zillions of other dot-com businesses have failed: eBay offers a powerful service that could not be performed in any other medium besides the Internet -- namely, serving as the ultimate flea market in the world -- and it offers the most fair and valuable deal possible to sellers and buyers alike. Once you get that eBay fever in your blood, by golly, you just can't stop. lardmeister (16) is one very happy addict.

Honorable Mentions:
The Judgment of Paris
TheForce.net

Hottest Chick of 2001

Susie Wilden Susie Wilden

My two top goddesses, Anna Nicole Smith and Mandy Barnett, were relatively inactive this year, so I faced the difficult task of selecting some other foxy lady who had it going on in 2001. After much deliberation, I have chosen British nudie mag model Susie Wilden. Susie started out as yet another boring, bony, bleach-blonde, big-bust bimbo, but after gaining about 30 pounds she has become a gorgeous womanly vision. I would add her to my Hot Chicks gallery, but I don't yet have enough pictures of her wearing clothes. "I weigh over 150 lbs. now and I feel great!" Susie said in an interview. "You know, I heard there's a few magazines I was in before that are saying I'm too big for them, but I don't care. To me, modeling nude has always been so much fun, whatever size I am. I think there'll be a lot of men that like the 'new me,' especially the extra inches I've gained!" Yes indeedy, that is correct.

Honorable Mentions:
Anna Nicole Smith
Mandy Barnett

D. Trull's Top Personal Accomplishment of 2001

Lard Biscuit Manor Lard Biscuit Manor

After several years of wanting to do it but fearing to do it, I bought a house. I finally got to the point where I was making enough money to afford a mortgage payment on a decent home, and I went for it. It was a scary decision, but man, I love my townhouse and I still can't believe I was lucky enough to get a place so cool. My advice to you apartment dwellers: if you've got the dough and you expect to be staying in the same area for a while, tell your landlord to take his rent and shove it. Being a homeowner kicks ass! And hey, when I'm 62, I'll have it paid for!

The 2001 Lard Biscuit Persons of the Year

The New York City Fire Department The New York City Fire Department

This is really no contest. It's fine to praise the leadership of Rudy Giuliani and the president and others in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, but the men and women of New York's Bravest are the ones who really deserve a hand. These people were heading up the stairs of the World Trade Center towers when everyone else was quite reasonably running down them. The department lost 343 of its members that day, including First Deputy Commissioner William Feehan and Chief of Department Peter J. Ganci. Thanks to their heroic efforts, almost all of the people in the towers who were on the floors below the impact points were saved. God bless the F.D.N.Y.

The 2001 Lard Biscuit Assholes of the Year

September 11 The September 11 Hijackers

Osama bin Laden has been getting all the attention as the now-confessed mastermind behind the attacks on the United States, but we can't lose sight of the fact that the events of September 11 would not have taken place without his sheeplike underlings who surrendered their free will and their lives to do the dirty work. And though bin Laden and his cronies may still be on the run, at least we can take some small comfort in the knowledge, or the hope, that those delusional, mindless, unconscionable fucks who obediently carried out those sick, twisted commands have been burning eternally in Hell ever since this thing happened.

The 2000 Lard Biscuit Achievement Awards

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