Most Ridiculous Lists
...And the lists you wish you could have seen

We here in the Northwest love lists, especially top ten lists. They are as plentiful as the rain and cover everything from what to do to whom to do it with. And so what if they’re usually as dull and repetitive as the rain — they still lead the 11 o’clock news whenever Oregon makes it onto a “best places” list, which might explain why we generate so many of our own lists. There are lists of best parks, best donuts and even best Oregon wines (BrainstormNW, September 2006).

Of course top ten lists are nothing new. Probably the most famous Top Ten lists are on the “Late Show with David Letterman.” But by and large, they are a tool for lazy journalists to put forth quick and easy information with little or no added value. Lists are to reporting what a simple Q-and-A is to a biography.

So without shame or fanfare, we present our Top Ten List of the Most Ridiculous Lists of 2006.

Oh, and we couldn’t resist the temptation to add a few lists we would have preferred to see — with some information that really might come in handy.

1. “50 Things Every Portlander Must Do” — Portland Monthly, March 2006
Portland Monthly is prolific when it comes to lists, and in March they brought us a list of things to do in the Rose City and beyond. Some were unique, such as nude sun bathing on Sauvie Island and brewing your own beer — in both instances, I suggest you know your limits. Others were less imaginative, such as taking a cruise up and down the Willamette on the Sternwheeler. Do you really need to experience that big paddle wheel churning up the sewer overflow? However, they left out the one thing most Portlanders seem to be doing — moving to Vancouver.

Better reading? How about: Top Ten Things You Can’t Do In Oregon. Topping the list — walk two blocks without being asked for spare change, go to a Republican governor’s inaugural party, and afford a house.

2. “10 Ways to Keep Out of Court” — Oregon Business, June 2006
This handy list of ways small businesses can avoid legal trouble includes, “Know the Law,” “Hire an Attorney” and “Prohibit Discrimination.” I think this list could have been shortened to just one item: Don’t Break the Law.

Much more fun might have been: Top Oregon Scandals of the Year, featuring Emily Boyles’ public financing debacle and Elma Magkamit’s gambling escapades on the $1.4 million she stole from the city of West Linn. (Keep an eye on those ladies.)

3. “The City’s Sexiest Singles” — Portland Monthly, February 2006
This list is a catalog, really, of local singles up for bid at the Third Annual Singles Auction and Party. A charity fundraiser is noble, but bidding on people is hard for me to take. And who decides what is sexy? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we all agree on ugly. And I wonder, can you feel sexy knowing that you’re just one step above a livestock auction?

More useful information: Top Ten Places Not to Take a Date in Oregon, including a tour of the local sewage treatment facility, a visit to a rendering plant, or for a swim in the Willamette River.

4. “Hydro Hogs, Biggest Water Wasters in Portland” — Willamette Week, Sept. 27, 2006
Willamette Week produces an annual lengthy list of Portland’s upper crust movers and shakers and how much water they use. Details include the user’s annual water bill, the gallons of water used, and the market value and lot size of their homes. For example, Andrew Wiederhorn lives in a $7 million home on just more than two acres, or slightly less valuable and smaller than a federal prison. But according to Willy Week, he used 523,000 gallons of water. Shocking, but true. And we know these numbers don’t lie…they come from the Portland Water Bureau computers.

A more entertaining list: Top Ten Ways to Be Politically Incorrect. We suggest barbecuing a spotted owl, marrying someone of the opposite sex, or keeping score at your kid’s baseball game.

5. “30 Ways to be Green” — Seattle Metropolitan, October 2006
Twenty-eight slick pages share statistics and tips on how green Seattle is and how to be greener. They cover everything from recycling to constructing green buildings. Some tips are helpful, such as using fluorescent light bulbs. My favorite is how to lower your thermostat and stay warm — put on a sweater and drink whiskey. But if they wanted to walk the talk, they should have saved all that paper and just referred the curious to sister publication Portland Monthly’s article on the same topic published four months earlier.

Wouldn’t you rather read about the Biggest Hunks of Wood in the West? Topping this list are Timberline Lodge, the Spruce Goose and Tom Potter’s head.

6. “Oregon’s Most Admired Companies” — Portland Business Journal, December 2006
It’s an impressive list of (the same) big companies (every year) you’ve come to know and love (almost as much as they love themselves). Some of it is even useful and informative. For example, the most admired banking services company award went to Umpqua Bank last year for their fresh “retail” approach to banking. But some of the awards are confusing, such as last year’s award for Nike. Portland Business Journal cited their bold and aggressive moves and even greater potential under the leadership of their new CEO, William Perez. However, Perez resigned earlier this year. Oops. This list is getting smaller and smaller as more and more corporations flee Oregon.

Wouldn’t you be more curious about the Top Ten Worst Jobs in Oregon, such as the Oregon rain beetle counter, Erik Sten’s assistant or the PR person for Portland Public Schools?

7. “Don’t Toss It — 48 Ways to Fix It” — Portland Monthly, February 2006
This cover feature lists places and people who can repair or restore anything from lawnmowers to unwanted tattoos. This list is actually useful, if you don’t own a phone book.

Even more useful and necessary would be Top Things in Oregon that Need Fixing, including the legislature and Highway 217.

8. “Our City’s Top Dentists” — Portland Monthly, March 2006
This list makes for perfect reading while killing time in the waiting room. Portland Monthly packed this one with a mouthful of details, including top general dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons. And they include a table with information on the latest procedures and costs. The winners were voted on by their peers. For me the only criteria for judging a dentist are simple: Does he wash his hands? Does he give me enough nitrous oxide? And is he polite enough to avoid whispering, “Oh gross,” when he looks into my mouth?

Better yet, Oregon’s Most Recognizable Mouths. Erik Sten pops up on the top of this list once again, along with Lars Larson (you may not know his mouth by sight, but every Oregonian has heard it).

9. “Keep pint-size chefs safe while cooking” — Oregonian, August 1, 2006
It took two crack Oregonian journalists to put together this genius list of tips to keep your kids safe while cooking in the kitchen. They suggest supervising kids at all times, placing hot pots and pans away from counter edges, and avoid letting the children eat anything containing raw eggs (read: cookie dough). And my favorite, keep a fire extinguisher and first aid kit handy. What are they cooking?

Spice it up with Top Ten Trans-fat Foods Your Kid Will Enjoy: Krispy Kreme donuts, a supersized order of Mickey D’s French fries and frozen cheese sticks from Costco.

10. “How To” Book — Portland Business Journal, Aug. 18, 2006
This is no ordinary “how to” list. This is a book of how to. How to buy the right furniture. How to obtain a bank loan. How to motivate your staff. They even have tips on hosting a successful business golf tournament. But Portland Business Journal doesn’t confine their “how to” tips to one booklet. They include a “how to” in every issue. My favorite, published in their July 28 edition, offered advice on how not to hire a meth addict (the headline: “Don’t Hire Drug Addicts if You Want to Keep Your Business Secure”). That one features a powerful suggestion — give potential employees an honesty test and ask about illegal drug use. Because we all know a tweaker will spend countless hours rummaging through your trash to steal your identity and rob you blind, but they can’t bring themselves to lie on a test.

Just in case a bad apple slips through: Top Ten Reasons to Fire an Employee (may or may not be based on actual experience), which includes crashing the office network with an excess of downloaded porn and attempting to seduce the boss on a business trip.

By Dave Anderson

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