Nevertheless, throughout the year there were a few personalities that helped us cope with it all. Either by getting us to stand back and look at the big picture or by redirecting our attention entirely, we found these personalities to be oases in the middle of a desert haboob (shown here). Perhaps because it was such a rocky year on so many levels, it only enhanced the springs of wellbeing the following people/personalities had t0 offer. And even after such a year, we hope to keep coming back to them for insight and diversion.
10. Wes Anderson, director.
While not 2008 specific, Wes Anderson flicks are always a welcome refuge from the world. His movies can be enjoyed and interpreted on so many levels. They can be enjoyed for their humor. They can be disected for their character development. They can be put on in the background as a sort of white-noise to help to relax.
9. Bill Simmons, espn.com columnist/podcaster.
Basically, he's the only reason to go to espn.com anymore. His columns, while fewer and farther between these days are well supplemented by his podcasts. When we need to get some information on the NBA, sports gambling, 80's movies, or Corey Haim, we turn to Bill Simmons.
8. Nate Silver, Fivethirtyeight.com
This site became an hourly obsession. So maybe this doesn't really count. But remember that time right when McCain started to pull even with Obama in the polls? And the spectre of Sarah Palin as VP (or worse) was real? Well, Nate Silver helped us keep our cool and not go overboard (we went overboard anyway). His model of political polling and results kept showing an advantage for Obama by not being swayed too much by daily (and post-convention) swaying. And of all the political forecasters, fivethirtyeight proved to be the best one out there in determining both the popular vote and the electoral college.
7. Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
Don't laugh. The times we went to church as the election neared were times of calm in a political storm. Church served as an insolation from the insanity of the Sunday talk shows. So a big thanks to Jesus for helping us have a needed, if brief, Sabbath from politics on Sunday (side note: and thanks to Mountain Standard Time, the football games started right when we got home!).
6. Joan Walsh, columnist for Salon.com.
During the Democratic primary, she was a sole voice of reason on the left. Remember how much Hillary and Obama Democrats hated each other? Or at least, they were supposed to? And remember how there were all those stupid news spots about those "Hillary voters" who were so hurt they would never vote for Obama? Well, Walsh maintained that we all needed to calm the fuck down (we're paraphrasing here). She was critical of both candidates and both campaigns, and reflected honest insight that most pundits missed. This was also true one the general election started. While the cable news shows (side note: having access to cable news for the first time in years was not a good thing this year) were spouting blather after blather, Joan Walsh pointed out the things that we think the American people picked up on. For example, while the cable news shows were talking about how "competent" Sarah Palin looked during the VP debate and how she "held her own," Walsh and the voting populous noticed the calloused response she had to Joe Biden's story about his late wife and for the LOVEOFGODSTOPWINKING!!!!!! She deserves a big "thank you" from DMS and a bit of recognition for being the only pundit who consistently got it right.
5. Tyler Florence, Tyler's Ultimate, Food Network.
Thank you to Tyler Florence for showing us how to make the Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs, the Ultimate Soup and Sammy, and countless other amazing dishes. We took refuge in the kitchen after watching Hardball or something (*shudder*). Boy Supercomputer would sit in his high chair and eat while we got to make a delicious dinner, often involving bacon in some form or fashion. Quality time to be sure.
4. Tina Fay, fake Sarah Palin; Sarah Palin, Republican Vice Presidiental candidate.
My God, 30 Rock is a great show, but the Palin routine will never be topped. Easily the best political satire from SNL ever. It was so effective that I think most people think Palin actually said "I can see Russia from my house." What's amazing though is how little they had to change to make it funny. If you look at the Katie Couric transcript, there are parts where SNL just cribbed the real Sarah Palin word for word. So maybe we should add the Real Sarah Palin to this spot.
3. The Yankees/Mets/Rays. While the Rays were a great underdog story, is there anything more enjoyable that either a Mets or Yankees collapse? In the absence of a good Indians team, this really helped us out a lot.
2. Sarah Vowell, author, and voice of Violett Parr, the teenage daughter fron The Incredibles.
From Take the Cannoli: Stories From the New World, describing a trip up the Trail of Tears while listening to Chuck Berry:
"But at the same time, I am an entirely American creature. I'm in love with this song and the country that gave birth to it. Listening to "Back in the U.S.A." while driving the Trail of Tears, I turn it over in my head -- it's a good country, it's a bad country, good country, bad country. And of course, it's both.1. Jon Stewart / Stephen Colbert, fake pundits.
When I think about my relationship with America, I feel like a battered wife: Yeah, he knocks me around a lot, but boy, he sure can dance."
Not sure what more needs to be said here. But we would spend an hour every Monday through Thursday night watching these guys after a day of being saddled with too much. And after we would finish watching them, we would go online and watch some more.