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On the Mark, Episode 14: Not One For a "Best Of" List

July 6, 2009

Hello everybody,

This is an early edition for this week, as I need to get it out of the way so I can focus on work for a change. Sometimes I do actually lay awake at night with a brain that won't turn off . . .

Last week you got another Episode 11 by mistake, which explains why this one is called Episdode 13 (and there is no Episode 12). Mark that down as one of the top 10 blunders in the history of the “On The Mark” franchise.

Speaking of top ten lists, every once and awhile I stumble upon one of those “Best of All Time” or “Worst of All Time” lists in a magazine or on the Internet. The one that I have personally referred back to the most is the American Film Institute’s 100 Best Films of All Time. I use it when I pick movies to borrow from my local library. It’s my way of trying to be cultured, I guess.

But by and large, I’ve decided that these sort of lists are pretty much a joke. Granted, sometimes I’ll see something on one of these lists and decide to go check it out. And by doing so, I have expanded my horizons. Which is never a bad thing.

But the funny thing is, these sort of lists are instantly picked apart by everyone after they are published. Mainly, it’s because a person or a select group of people are creating the list in the first place, and everybody has their own tastes.

Then when you start reading lists like Rolling Stone Magazine’s “Greatest Guitarists of All Time” or “The Greatest Albums of All Time”, you start to realize that this whole list-making enterprise is truly one of the biggest wastes of time of all time.

For example, "Rolling Stone Magazine" has Jimi Hendrix as the best guitarist of all time. No surprise there, as a lot of people would agree with that ranking. I’m not going to knock that selection.

But follow my logic with the following antecdote, to show how screwed up these "Best of All Time" lists really are:

Did you know that Jimi Hendrix used to rave about Terry Kath’s guitar-playing abilities from the group Chicago? (I know, you don't care, but there is a point to all of this.) Chicago opened for Hendrix when they were getting started about 40 years ago, and Hendrix was quoted as saying that Terry Kath was an even better guitar player than himself.

So if the greatest guitarist of all time thinks someone was better than him, you’d think that the guy would be somewhere on the all-time greatest guitarist list, right?

Nope. Terry Kath isn’t even in the top 100. Listen to some of the early Chicago music, and the dude can play (sadly, he accidentally shot and killed himself in the late 1970's).

So you can take that "Rolling Stone" list and throw it in the trash. You’d think the number one dude’s opinion would account for something. After all, he of all people ought to know who is a great guitar player . . .

But I digress. Back to useless lists. How about David Letterman’s nightly Top Ten list, which hasn’t been funny in about . . . oh, never.

They've got lists for just about everything. And even lists about nothing. They’ve got lists for the best roller coasters, the best and worst-dressed celebrities, the best players of all time in each sport (and the worst draft selections). Let’s not forget the best and worst presidents, the best zoos in the world, blah blah blah.

You’ve even got people listed on both the best and worst lists – at the same time.

For example, they say there are two kinds of people: Those who LOVE Neil Diamond, or those who HATE Neil Diamond. So he’d be on both the best and worst lists for 70’s pop artists, for sure.

To make matters worse, there are different versions of each of these lists, as they are published by thousands of people every day. It is a multi-quadrillion dollar industry, this list-making business. On a slow news day, at least 47,323 columnists out there will trot out some inane list in order to get paid for doing whatever it is they are supposed to be doing.

I wonder who makes the creators of these lists an expert at anything, to be qualified to make up any sort of list in the first place? They have about as much authority to make a list as the fish in my aquarium. Is there a degree in List Making that we can see to validate their expertise in these matters?

Indeed, where is the list for “The Best Lists of All Time?” That way, I can decide which list is the best one to refer to. So I won’t get bad information from a bad list.

Furthermore, what is the best list I can use to refer to for the worst lists of all time, in order to avoid the worst things on those lists?

And what is the worst list for worst lists, so that I am not looking at the worst list for the best list for the worst lists of all time?

Got that straight?

So with that in mind, I’ve decided to create a few lists of my own. To which you will instantly become more of an expert than I am, and you’ll think that I’m an idiot for my various selections. Because everybody’s a critic, lemme tell ‘ya . . .

If you feel that you must fight me over my selections, please note that I struggled with these choices, exerting every fiber of my being to come up with the most comprehensive group of lists possible. Complete with ironclad documentation to support my rankings . . . OK, it took me five minutes, but I still had to think about it really, really hard.

And I will be publishing a modified list of these lists with each passing ten years, to keep things current for a new generation of readers . . . Well probably not, but it sounds good.

And without a doubt, you are certainly welcome to create a list of the best and worst lists of the best and worst lists that I have just created:

Without further ado, drumroll please . . . . . Here are my lists:


The Best Decades During My Lifetime:

  1. The 60’s: I don’t remember the 60’s, as I was born in 1968. Hence, it was one awesome decade! Memory loss is bliss, baby!
  2. The 70’s: Any decade that has a movie like “Star Wars” in it will get high grades in my book.
  3. The 80’s: Ronald Reagan was a pretty cool president, when you stop and think about it. Not as cool as the “Star Wars” movie for a nine-year-old boy, though. Hence the lower ranking. "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Wrath of Khan" were early 80's, so this is a close one to number 2. That and the learning how to drive and graduating from high school stuff makes this a decent decade.
  4. The 90’s: All the music made after January 1, 1990 suddenly got very bad. Not sure why. And a bunch of other crazy stuff happened in my life.
  5. The 00’s: Too many years going without various things, during what is supposed to be the prime time of my life. Use your imagination what those things would be. My single friends will know. And my married friends probably know even more so . . . heh, heh, heh . . . .


The Top Four People Named Elvis:

  1. Elvis Presley: Gotta give the King of Rock and Roll his due.
  2. Elvis Costello: No clue who he is, I think he’s a singer or something.
  3. Elvis Grbac: Played football. Or should I say, he tried to play football.
  4. St. Elvis of Munster: One of the most famous Irish bishops of the 5th Century (I didn’t make that one up, trust me).


The Best Michael Jackson Songs:

  1. The one at the end of the “Free Willy” movie. No clue what it is called. But it has a choir in it, and killer whales are swimming in the ocean.
  2. We are the World: “We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who will make a brighter day, so let’s start givin’ . . .” Just makes me want to find some poor kids in Africa, and hold hands and sing while swaying back and forth. Michael co-wrote the song, but a bunch of famous people sang it. As a kid at the time, I remembered thinking, “Who’s that weird old dude who sounds terrible at the end?” I would later find out that it was Bob Dylan. Whoever that was.
  3. I’ll Be There: From The Jackson Five. “Just look over your shouldas, honey!” Followed by a trademark Michael Jackson whoop. Back when Michael was a cute kid.


The Best “On the Mark” episodes:

  1. Standing in line at the grocery store causes brain damage and emotional problems.
  2. The world is burning up, and we’re all going to die! And it’s Grandma’s fault.
  3. Dogs are planning to take over the world.
  4. It's all downhill after turning nine years old.
  5. The last episode I write before I die (hopefully not anytime soon). Print it off and save it when that day comes, as it might be worth something someday. In three thousand years, space aliens will find it in the rubble of our destroyed civilization and believe it to be a document of some cultural importance. That, or the ravings of a demented, deranged mad man. It’s all open to interpretation.


OK, now for some "Worst" lists:

The Worst Days of My Life:

  1. January 15, 1968: Going through that scary tunnel and out that small hole was pretty traumatic! My mom was screaming, and the whole experience scared the crap out of me! Actually, it’s been downhill pretty much ever since.
  2. January 22, 2003.
  3. There are many others, but no time to list them.


Worst Toilet Seats I’ve Ever Owned:

  1. The purple one that was padded. Ewww, padded toilet seats are just a bad idea . . . especially on a hot, humid day! And who buys a purple toilet seat?
  2. Actually, 2-10, as this one is a nine-way tie: All of the various toilet seats I’ve bought from Wal-Mart.

I have no clue why I keep buying those pieces of junk. Those Chinese don’t know how to make them like they used to. I think they make them from a rice/paper mache concoction. Heck, they don’t even have toilet seats over there . . . they just do their business in the middle of the rice paddy fields, and keep on picking rice (an obtuse reference to Bill Cosby’s comedy bit about childbirth). Only an idiot buys a toilet seat from a country where they don’t even know what those things are actually used for . . . No, those are NOT oval picture frames, Wong Wei!

(DISCLAIMER: No Chinese were harmed in the making of that last paragraph . . . All events and people represented are fictituous, and any similiarity to real events or people is purely coincidental.)

So there are my lists. There are others, but I just wasted an hour or two of my life that I can’t get back, due to making those lists. Definitely this will not be on the list of the Top 10 Hours of my Entire Life.

And this episode might end up on your "Top 10 Worst Five Minutes Wasted in Your Entire Life" list. Sorry about that. Remember, you are getting this for free. For what it's worth.

Now for a video or two.

Back to Terry Kath and Chicago; check out a song that makes my list as one of my favorite songs. Definitely in the Top 20, for sure. It makes me want to go out and do hippy stuff . . . ok, maybe not. But I still love this song. It’s not the best musical version of this song, but I like the video because it is vintage 1970's (and the picture quality is actually quite good):


For a bonus video, here’s that cool Michael Jackson song from Free Willy. To be honest, the song and video give me goosebumps. I was never a fan of his, but I must admit the guy had talent. RIP.


That’s it for this week, folks . . . one of these days my brain is going to run dry, and you’ll call this the “classic period” of “On the Mark.”

Just remember.


Take care,




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