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Is There a List Inside You?

Columnist Bob Deakin takes a look at different national and local lists

Lists are a great marketing tool to draw viewers, readers and listeners. In recent years companies such as ESPN, Forbes, IMDB, TV Guide, Amazon, Rolling Stone and others have released lists of the top 10, 50, 100 or more of the best all-time in various categories. The attraction to lists, of course, is that people have their own ideas of what is best or top 10 or further, and if they disagree, the debate is on, and the interest too.

Yesterday was the prime-viewing day of the Super “Perigee” Moon, according to NASA, when the moon comes closest to the earth as part of its oval shape of orbit. It happens about every eighteen years, which inspired my favorite five songs with “moon” in the title:

Moonlight in Vermont
Blue Moon
Moon Dance
Moon River
Dancing in the Moonlight

Quite often lists are a vehicle for an upcoming TV show or a special edition of a magazine. Michael Jordan was voted #1 of the “Top 50 Athletes of the 20th Century” a decade ago, convenient in that he was still of playing age, Nike's (ESPN's biggest sponsor) biggest endorser and willing to help market the series of shows highlighting the list. Jim Brown and Jim Thorpe weren't on the payroll.

“How can you put Pulp Fiction in the top 10 movies of all time let alone the top 250?” one might argue, referring to IMDB's Top 250 Movies a few years ago. Shawshank Redemption was #1 and no movies earlier than 1957 made the list. Hmm?

Rolling Stone magazine put out its Top 100 Songs a couple years ago and the top ten list was full of classics like Johnny B. Goode and Good Vibrations. However, Like a Rolling Stone was chosen the number one song of all time and Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones number 2? How convenient.

In 2002 TV Guide named the “50 Greatest Shows of All Time,” in which the top ten was in line with some of my favorites with the exception of The Sopranos, which most people haven't seen. Unfortunately I'm not one of them and suffered through the boredom of a couple seasons of that. Here's the top five:

Seinfeld
I Love Lucy
The Honeymooners
All in the Family
The Sopranos

On a more local level I've come up with my top five list of favorite hiking trails:

Appalachian Trail in Kent
Tarrywile Park
in Danbury
White Memorial
in Litchfield
Lover's Leap State Park
in New Milford
Steep Rock
in Washington

There are even web sites dedicated to lists now including, among hundreds, the Top 10 List (predominantly British), Craigslist (predominantly fraud) and Angie's List, a fee-based service finder and even Timothy McSweeney's Lists of Tendencies (humor).

What are some of your lists? Do you have a problem with some you've seen? I hope so. Perhaps we can come up with a “Top 10 Un-debatable List.”

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