If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Since I'm trying to build an active community of readers, I do realize the writing-focused posts can be a little cold. I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone (I hate that expression) by personalizing as well as expanding my base with a list I'm calling "People at the Top Of Their Game." Here, I'll be plugging some of my current favorite people in the media at the moment, which'll hopefully balance my criticisms in other posts with insight into what I enjoy. This probably won't be weekly, for I don't watch TV or see movies right when they air/hit theaters, but I'll update it as often as possible.
10. Matt Damon
I've yet to see The Adjustment Bureau, though I've heard surprisingly good things despite marketing bad enough to score "unbearable" on AV Club's "Tolerability Index." But, the main reason why actor Matt Damon made today's list is his recent no-punches-pulled interviews in which he expresses his rightful disappointment in the Obama Administration, going as far to say that the president "rolled over to Wall Street." These comments aren't exactly surprising for the guy who narrated Inside Job and starred in the underrated The Green Zone, but it's refreshing to hear a celebrity gives intelligent justification for his/her political beliefs rather than a simple endorsement or rejection of a party leader, which often ends up being advertising instead of honest discussion... *ahem* Oprah.
Best quote: "You can't wait for a leader."
9. Ben & Jerry
Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream has owned my freezer for the past couple months, turning me closer to a neurotic single mom more each day... without the mom part. Their superb limited edition flavors, such as the mouthwatering Snickerdoodle, would be enough to earn them an honorable mention. But it's their MLK Award-winning social and environmental activism that puts them in the Top Ten and the hilarious late night war they started last week that keeps them current. You can read all about the activism in the links provided, but I want to talk about the latter because it's easily the funniest host war since last year's Rally to Restore Sanity. Not only do Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream and Jimmy Fallon's Late Night Snack sound delicious and creative, but the joke about Jimmy Fallon laughing through all his SNL sketches was biting and hysterical.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Ice Cream Fight With Jimmy Fallon|
Best line (from The Colbert Report): "The Daily Sherbet with Jon Stewberry."
8. ?uestlove & The Roots
It wouldn't have been fair for me to put The Roots on the list for the masterful How I Got Over from last year, so thankfully drummer ?uestlove kept current by curating the newly remastered Fela Kuti vinyl boxset, featuring all the studio albums from the Afrobeat pioneer. My library only has the soundtrack to the Fela! musical so my broke self was long deprived of hearing Fela's music in it's original form, and wow is it a step up (no offense to the musical.) Each album is full of socially conscious music that'll make you swing your head and think with it (not unlike The Roots), too, probably inducing dizziness. Good luck with that. It's totally worth it.
Best Song: "Water No Get Enemy"
7. Patton Oswalt
I can hardly think of an instance where Patton Oswalt is off his game, except when he promotes his specials with the same jokes each guest spot, though that's not his fault. Anyway, the thing that puts him on the list today is his latest book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, which is a superb read. In it, he mixes autobiographical excerpts ranging from his love of R.E.M. (a likely contender for next time's list) to the start of his stand up career with sections of often vulgar humor. My favorite part is of the latter category where Oswalt pretends to peer review an insane film script idea that easily bests Karl Pilkington's idea about a lesbian brain romance from The Ricky Gervais Show. Buy it.
Best Chapter: "Zombie Spaceship Wasteland," where he explains how all characters fall into at least one of the three eponymous categories, include Darth Vader, whom of course conquers them all.
6. Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour
What more needs to be said? Anderson Cooper (and his news team) gets the facts and easily make Anderson Cooper 360 the best hour on CNN. The show's coverage of the Japanese tsunami was impeccable. As for Amanpour, this was basically her month. The interviews she's gotten with Gaddafi and his son as well as the hilarious interview she gave with The Colbert Report (and her cat counterpart Amanpurr) were essential to understanding the crises in Libya and Egypt.
Best quote: "My people love me." - Moammar Gaddafi
5. Felicia Day
Felicia Day, creator of the hit webseries The Guild, has been on a roll, just completing the fourth and best season of her show so far as well as nabbing a writing/acting gig for a Dragon Age webseries. She's been a favorite of mine since Dr. Horrible, which I'm sure isn't a unique experience; but it's great to see her practically dominating internet geekdom as she rightfully should be.
Best line: "I think I should focus on being pregnant" - Clara, after starting a sprawling business investment with Tink.
Nashville native Tristen recently released her debut album Charlatans at the Garden Gate, which is essentially a collection of haunting folk songs that those legions of Youtube amateurs with acoustic guitars could only look at and ask themselves, "What the fuck am I doing with my life?" It's that good.Comparing her to the usual suspects, like Gillian Welch and Laura Veirs, is reductive but it does give you an idea of the league she's already joined with just one album in. The only complaint I can level at the album is that it ends right as it's climaxing; but Tristen's been so generous to her fans, offering free music and promotional items, that the experience doesn't really end there. Another must buy.
Best Song: "Wicked Heart"
3. H. Jon Benjamin/ Jessica Walters/ Kristen Schaal
H. Jon Benjamin is the link that joins the three by voicing the lead character in both FX's secret agent office comedy Archer and FOX's fast food family comedy Bob's Burgers. With both shows being gems of late night animated humor and unrivalled wit, I should probably be including the writers on the list. But, for me, what elevates both shows is the line delivery which is done beautifully by these industry pros. Kristen Schaal, whom most know from Flight of the Conchords and Toy Story 3 adapts his childlike voice to an actual (cartoon) child, a trickster named Louise, who's bound to bring the bring down her father's restaurant for her own amusement (it's less sinister than it sounds... or is it?) And Arrested Development alumnus Jessica Walters plays Archer's mother, determined to set her idiot playboy son straight despite being just as flawed. These roles play on each of their strengths and elevate their respective shows tremendously.
Best Line: "You looked like Angela Davis had a love child with Sweet Lou Dunbar." - Sterling Archer referring to Lana's past afro in the show Archer.
2. Craig Ferguson
Before a few weeks ago, I wasn't huge fan of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I was still fuming from Leno's infamous betrayal of Conan and pretty much turned the TV off after every episode of Conan's fairly new TBS series. However, these past few weeks, while being handed ample material to play with, such as Charlie Sheen's meltdown, have done little worth noting. Then here comes Craig Ferguson, who never feels any pressure to elevate his show beyond it's miniscule budget and, just like that, he cleans house with his competition. Speaking of Sheen, with all the hype surrounding his Piers Morgan interview, it's really Ferguson who's been delivering the goods in that field. He brought Wanda Sykes's guest spot to level of her appearances in Curb Your Enthusiasm, and even broke Aaron Eckhart out of his promotion-only attitude when he came in to advertise Battle: Los Angeles. Ferguson seems to be host to beat this season as he's more concentrated in having fun instead of necessarily trying to be fun. And when Ferguson's enjoying his day job, you know something's up.
Best Line: "Balls" - Geoff Peterson, as always
1. The Wisconsin Protesters
Nearly a month in and the should-be-historic protests in Wisconsin still aren't getting the media attention they deserve. To be fair, the aforementioned crises on foreign soil are full-scale military conflicts, but the fact that even people who'd normally side with the Wisconsinites' cause are still buying into Republican bullshit about teacher salaries even being a factor in the national budget deficit is a sign that this isn't being covered enough. The effects of the decisions being made in this state will no doubt have a lasting impact on the entire country, so it's incredibly relieving to see people and even normally cowardly Democrats standing up to the problem at its source. Here's where you can donate.
Best moment: Michael Moore being right without being manipulative for once in his career.