Dan’s Top 100 Everything: Honorable Mentions, Part 2

We are now two thirds through Dan’s Top 100 Everything, which means that it’s time for the second round of Honorable Mentions!

I described the first round of Honorable Mentions as “things that didn’t make the list because they placed just outside the top 100.” You may think that’s the very definition of an “honorable mention” — and you’d be correct if I was a super organized thinker.

This second set of Honorable Mentions are things that I thought of AFTER I started my Top 100 that I might have placed in the Top 100 (or things that got cut from the list thanks to changes to the list after I started writing it).

Most of these have still ended up “honorable mentions” in the traditional sense. But I’m also using this opportunity to replace a few of my initial Top 100 entries with stuff I thought of afterwards.

And after this, I am promising to myself that I won’t revise the Top 100 again… well, at least in 2014. (I’m not taking annual revisions of the list off the table!)

So here is the next set of Honorable Mentions, ordered from “least honorable” to “most honorable” — plus a few selections to replace current Top 100 entries.

Didn’t Make The 100

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Better Off Ted

In my mind, this is the closest we’ve ever come to replicating Arrested Development — and not just because Portia de Rossi is a lead. This wacky political satire has a similar cartoonish density of jokes and disdain for its pathetic characters.

But where Arrested Development built an intricate web of inside jokes that made each episode more compelling than the last, Better Off Ted was content to be more traditionally a sitcom. No obsession with continuity (unfortunately).

When the jokes are this good, it’s hard to complain, though. Basically everything scientists Phil and Lem do is gold, but Phil’s recurring “scream” always had me doubled over. The story about the cameras that can’t detect black people might have been the show’s best. (Of course the best thing the show ever did was make so many fake commercials, which served the bit of Seinfeld’s standup, framing and outlining the episode — but way funnier.)

My biggest complaint is that the second season sagged a bit in the laughs-per-minute department and that the unresolved sexual tension remained unresolved. Oh well.

Still, only a few shows have made me laugh harder than BoT during the last five years, and all of them are somewhere on this Top 100.

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John Williams

You’d think with all the praise I’ve given John Williams throughout this Top 100 that I’d have found a spot for him. But I think the shoutouts he receives in my Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park entries are probably indicator enough of how highly I view this Williams: I think he’s the best film score composer, period. His themes are certainly the most iconic, and I never tire of listening to them.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Soundtrack)

…And on that note, I’ll dub Hans Zimmer/Klaus Badelt soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean my favorite individual soundtrack of the past fifteen years. It’s not particularly varied or complex, but the five or so recurring themes are mind-blowingly energetic, catchy, and beautiful. This is an out-of-left-field masterpiece that has become somewhat iconic. I put it on loop when I want to focus. (Its backstory is worth reading, too.)

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Watchmen

I had Watchmen pegged for a spot initially, but some eleventh hour additions and shuffling resulted in it getting the axe. Too bad — Watchmen is a damn masterpiece, probably my favorite “superhero”-related graphic novel I’ve read (and one loved by pretty much everybody who reads it). It’s so dense with great storytelling and clever twists on the superhero story model that it almost defies description.

Watchmen is definitely worth reading, and it was one of the first “comic books” widely praised as a work of art worth dissecting (TIME picked it as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century.) The biggest complaints people come up with are “it takes itself kind of seriously” and “that squid thing was kinda random” — both of which are true, and both of which are like complaining that the Rocky Mountains are jagged:ee that’s the entire point, and the entire marvel.

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The Dillards

Thanks, dad!

I don’t know if I ever would have thought to seek out bluegrass on my own (it makes me wonder how many other genres I’d love that I gave them half a chance).

But my dad has been a fan of the Dillards — an influential and extremely talented bluegrass group that formed in the ‘60s — since he saw them on Andy Griffith. He passed them on to me. These guys are virtuosic on instruments like the fiddle and mandolin, hitting notes at an absurd rate.

(Fun legend that may or may not be true: The Dillards were rejected by some labels when they sent in demos to try and get a record deal because the labels thought they had sped up recordings — that nobody could pluck the instruments as quickly as they could.)

There are probably a dozen Dillards songs I know by heart, and I’ve listened to their 1963-1970 discography several times through. If you’re curious, just hit up There Is a Time, which has all the important tracks — including a GOAT version of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” — and is pretty much perfect from front to end.

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Huey Lewis and the News

About three years ago Huey Lewis would have been a lock for the list, maybe even a lock for the top fifty.

But now? I can think of about ten songs I really love by Lewis. I rarely listen to him except for a few tracks. Sure, “If This Is It” never gets old, and who doesn’t love “Power of Love”? But a half dozen tracks don’t make a Top 100 artist, as much as I love and defend The News.

Ask me in a few months, after I’ve had a couple beers and listened to their greatest hits album again, and I’ll probably say they should have made it. Huge band for me when I was a kid.

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AllMusic

Well, look at the title.

All. Music.

That seems the goal of the AllMusic Guide, to have a review of every album ever.

It’s a site that I find both extremely useful and tons of fun. I can, and have, spend hours perusing its archives, reading artist biographies, and making lists of albums I really should listen to some day. Some of the writing is brilliant, some of it is okay, but the sheer scope of the site’s archive makes it bewildering.

So, why is this just an honorable mention, while Rolling Stone and The AV Club each make the list? The truth is… I don’t really have an answer. In some ways, the generously-ranked AV Club is a lot less useful than AllMusic. I couldn’t even tell you for sure which one I spend more time reading. If not for the Earn This inspiration component, AV Club could very well rank neck and neck with AllMusic.

What about Rolling Stone? Is Rolling Stone any more meaningful to me than AllMusic? I’m scratching my head on that one, too. I don’t feel strongly enough about it to boot Rolling Stone, but I also would say that, if I made it again from scratch, AllMusic would probably be in the Top 100, and Rolling Stone would be out.

AllMusic feels less like a “thing” than either RS or AV Club, but I’ve included other publications, so I don’t think I’d exclude it on that grounds, either. Oh well.

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Green Day

On the one hand, I’m a massive Green Day fan. I listen to them a lot. Very few bands have had more inspired melodies and pop-rock compositions over the past 20 years. Billie Joe is a fantastic vocalist, perfect for Green Day’s style. Their career is fascinating and awesome, full of crazy twists and reinventions.

Maybe my favorite sentence ever written for Earn This came from Grant’s fantastic Green Day retrospective:

“Green Day’s contradiction can be summed up as such: they give a shit—about the world around them, with or without Bush in office—and don’t give a shit—about people’s expectations for them, about their genre’s constraints, about their history.”

On the other hand, I feel weird calling myself a “Green Day fan” because there are only about thirty tracks I ever listen to, and aside from about three of their albums and the tracks on International Superhits, I can’t really tell you much about the details of their discography.

I love Green Day, and I love the idea of Green Day, but not QUITE enough for them to crack the Top 100. (Warning and Stop/Drop/Roll will forever be underrated, though.)

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NaNoWriMo/A Masterpiece Collection

What is a thing?

I wrestled with that question several times as I put my list together.

Should I include, say, The Washington Redskins? No, sports teams are out. Waku Chicken? No, food and restaurants are out. I gradually eliminated categories and items from my list this way.

One troublesome one for me to figure out: People.

People aren’t “things,” I decided, except as a grouping of their art. Yet I’ve kind of broken that rule by talking about the person as much as their work in my Louis CK, Bill Simmons, and Roger Ebert posts.

But there are two specific items I went back and forth on as to whether they are “things”: NaNoWriMo and A Masterpiece Collection. If things, they both definitely fall into the Top 100, but I landed on the other side of the fence: They are not things.

NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, is probably best described as a “program” or “movement” to encourage aspiring writers to write a novel in one month (held November every year). The specific goal is 50k words.

NaNoWriMo is a full package of a web site, a social network, a blog, and word count-tracking software. It’s also an “attitude” and an “experience” that have had a major effect on me. If you’re at all interested in writing fiction, I encourage you to check them out. I am a three-time “winner” — i.e., I’ve hit the 50k mark in one month three times.

The second thing nixed for “not-being-a-thing” reasons is A Masterpiece Collection which is… well… a collection of masterpieces. It’s a playlist of about 150 pieces of classical music arranged in alphabetical order of the composer. You can find places that stream it and also places where you can download it via torrent.

I wavered several times on whether to include A Masterpiece Collection. It opened up the world of classical music to me, introducing me to the most popular works of many composers. Because it’s just a playlist of assorted, otherwise unrelated tracks that some guy put together, I ultimately voted against its thinghood, though.

(For the record, Drafts that included these as things had NaNoWrimo in the 40s and A Masterpiece Collection in the 60s.)

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Made the 100

Because each of these are now a part of the hundred, I’ve written individual posts for each of them, which are linked to here. The old posts will be “retired” to Honorable Mention status.

Enlightened → #99 (Retired: Suburban Legends)

Why I missed it the first time around: I didn’t even start watching this show until after I’d started writing the Top 100. And I didn’t finish the show until a couple weeks ago.

Space Jam Remixes → #97 (Retired: Carter Finally Gets It)
My Cousin Vinny → #92 (Retired: Doctor Who)

Why I missed them the first time around: I had both initially pegged as a Top 100 entry, but they lost their spots following some shuffling and last-minute additions. I always meant to find each one a spot, but all of the sudden I was up in the 80s and 70s and couldn’t justify booting something else. So here I am, going back to knock out slightly less worthy entries. (Vinny probably could have ended up as high as the 70s, but 92 will have to do for now.)

The Spectacular Now → #91 (Retired: These Are Jokes)

Why I missed it the first time around: When I put the list together, I had the book just missing out. A few weeks into the list, I watched the movie and knew I’d made the wrong choice leaving it out. If it were easy for me to rearrange the order of the list right now, I’d proably bump this up to the 70s or so, but I’m fine with #91. Let’s give it a year to make sure it’s really an all time favorite and I can bump it up next time I revise the list.

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Dan S.

Dan is the editor of Earn This. He co-founded the site in 2009.

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