Top Five Reasons Never to Do a Top Five List


With the economy tanking, literacy flagging, scalps balding, and my Mountaineers viciously knocked out of the NCAA’s, what else is there to do but cantankerously write something that goes fundamentally counter to the tide of popular culture? Seriously, what else is there to do? Nope, all those ideas are dumb.

The only thing to do in such situations is to look for some catharsis in contravention of contemporary convention. Therefore, here I fix my pen to this parchment and make my case: Top Five Reasons Never to do a Top Five List.

1. It’s overdone. I mean, how many top five lists were done on Facebook alone yesterday? (I’m looking at you, Mister Doctor Travis Prinzi, author of Top Five Things I Like About Harry Potter.) Some people are revealing so much about themselves in these things that they may get their identity stolen. And without your identity, who will you become? Unidentifiable? People won’t be able to identify with you. Come on, do something original like starting up a chain e-mail with threats of serious harm if it is not forwarded to ten people and promises of amazing results if it is. Add some pictures of (an unbiblical, wimpy) “Jesus” crying over some tragedy like he is so sorry this happened there was nothing he could do…and some puppies.

2. Like there’s ever exactly five reasons to do anything, or list anything? It’s so imprecise. I usually have my favorites in increments of 11, in keeping with a football team’s legitimate quota of bodies on the field. If I list any more than eleven I immediately flag myself for illegal participation.

3. I don’t know beans about anything, so why should anybody care about my “Top Five Huggable Moments in Care Bear lore,” or my “Top Five Five-foot-five NBA players?” And incidentally, do you know where the expression “He doesn’t know beans about…” came from? It hearkens way back to the time when you were deemed educated if you could count to five using beans. If you couldn’t do it, you didn’t “know beans.” If you could then you were able to do business in an agrarian market. Boy, I’m sure glad we don’t have a rural, agrarian market-base now. Man, this urbanization of people, centralization of power, industrialization of markets, and homogenization of culture is really working out great!

4. It’s unfair to the overwhelming majority of us so-called creative types who are so depressed half the time we strongly prefer to do “Bottom Five” Lists. It’s just prejudicial. Against weirdos. And we Weirdos are considering forming a special interest group and hiring a lobbyist and asking for bailout money and for free merit badges and free mortgages and free range chickens. Weirdos of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but what’s left of our sanity.

5. It gives people the illusion that a bunch of people care what their top 5 of anything is. Sometimes it truly is interesting. I actually would like to know what “Ron Block’s Top Five Favorite Books He Read Yesterday” are, but that’s the exception. If a guy is willing to read one hundred books a day and still have time to play music like that, then I’m interested. But does anybody care what my top five reasons to eat Famous Amos cookies are? Does anyone want to know anything about me? Once you get past the Essential Questions (1. What’s your favorite color? 2. What do you want to be when you grow up?) what else is left to know? Is my insistence on promoting my own top five list an unwanted advance, an arrogant presumption? I mean, who would promote themselves so shamelessly?

This concludes my top five-reasons never to do a top-five list. Can you think of more? Or would you like to brazenly reject my thesis and place in the comments section your very own top-five list of…well, anything?  Or we can skip that and go straight to the good stuff:

What’s your favorite color and what do you want to be when you grow up?

Now forward this post to ten friends and watch the blessings pour in. But let me warn you, if you do not forward this post to ten friends and likewise warn them to do the same, then I will hack into your e-mail account and do it myself. While I’m there, I will probably steal your identity.


  1. m a t t

    Top five reasons I’m thankful for this post:

    1. It was funny.
    2. It made me laugh.
    3. It made me laugh a lot.
    4. I really needed to laugh today.
    5. …

  2. Loren Eaton

    Top five reasons to never again post the cosmic-Jesus-crying painting:

    1) It’s hackneyed.
    2) It’s maudlin.
    3) It’s only moderately well composed.
    4) It’s more broken (theologically speaking) than Humpty Dumpty.
    5) I might very well spontaneously combust.

  3. Aaron Roughton

    A ninja.

    Of course these are also identity verification questions and answers on all of my important accounts. Thanks for tricking me into posting them.

  4. Don Smith

    My top five list has many more than five grandchildren on it!
    I was so impressed with your post, well, to quote another famous artistic redneck, “I you wasn’t my son, I’d hug you.”

  5. Julie

    Well, since you asked, “lets get down to de niddy griddy”
    My favorite colour is light tan
    and I want to play bollyball while serving de Lord and playing with poopies when I grow up

  6. Ron Block



    Like all of your posts (except the serious ones), ridiculously funny.

    I remember when a friend first signed up with AOL. He would say, “You know, I don’t CARE if Madonna even EXISTS! I don’t want to know ANYTHING about Jennifer Anniston! But there it is, on my welcome screen, and now this crap is taking up room in my brain.”

    I don’t read a hundred books a day. I’ve told you a thousand million times not to exaggerate.

  7. Tony Heringer


    I had Villanova in 1985, that’s about the only 5 I could think of. Blue but maroon also vies for the top spot and to paraphrase Jimmy Buffet “I’m growing older not up.”

  8. Stacy Grubb

    What about how Top 5’s are unfair to people who have a difficult time picking favorites? If I tell you my favorite color is purple, it makes me think of blue. And I like blue. Might blue be my favorite? Yes, blue is my favorite color. Blue, afterall, reminds me of summer skies and summer is my favorite season. It’s easily in my Top 4, at least (take that, Top 5 List!). Because when I think about it, Spring is pretty awesome the way it’s so exciting when it’s not winter, anymore. In true weirdo fashion, I can say without hesitation that winter is my least favorite. That’s the best I can do. And my least favorite thing about Spring is the inevitable allergy attack that creates a blockage from me and that spot in my brain that sometimes makes me make sense. I’ve forgotten why I started this. Oh yes. Because my favorite color is purple. Must.Blow.Nose


  9. S. D. Smith


    You guys are all funny. Aaron really made me guffaw. I’m glad you guys have no better judgement than to appreciate the post. I took it from some one whose identity I stole.

  10. kevin

    Jesus should never be airbrushed… it feels wrong to even have to say that.

    The first day Facebook made the recent layout change, I got on and saw: “What’s on your mind?” Lacking self-confidence as I do, I immediately typed “… is wondering if anybody really cares what’s on his mind.” Within 30 minutes, I received several serious “I do!” responses.

    I immediately threw up.

    I too, like blue. I used to like black until I realized that it is the absence of all color, and as such, cannot be my favorite color.

    I would very much like to be Bob Dylan. A less haggard one, but Bob Dylan nonetheless.

  11. Robert Treskillard

    What about “Middle 5” lists? Can we do those? That way everyone can be vague and non-committal. Blandness. Kind of like German food, all white.

    Am I supposed to be able to taste salt?

    Hmmm… maybe there’s something in the Bible about that…

    (Okay, so I like the puppy!)

  12. Richards


    Don’t worry, black is only the absence of color when your medium is light.
    When your medium is pigment on canvas, white is the absence of color.

    The primary colors of light are red, green and blue.
    The primary colors of pigment are red, yellow and blue.

    With light, the combination of red, green and blue makes white.
    With pigment, the combination of red, yellow and blue makes muck.

    Hope you feel better about black now.

  13. whipple

    Geez, I can only come up with three reasons why I feel compelled to make silly comments on internet posts.

    Back to the drawing board.

  14. becky

    Top 5 Reasons I Don’t Have a Favorite Color:

    5. Commitment phobic: don’t want to commit to just one color.
    4. Don’t want the other colors to get jealous.
    3. Having a favorite color is self-absorbed. Favorite colors are usually ones that flatter us–look good with our skin tones or bring out our eyes. I’m above all that.
    2. Christians, as we know from a previous post, are not supposed to play favorites. I love and respect all colors equally.
    1. Color is a gift from God. Our world could have been made in shades of gray, or our eyes could have been made without the ability to see color. Why would I limit myself to one of God’s gifts, when He has given me more than anyone can number?

    I’m too old to remember what I wanted to be when I grew up.

  15. Pete

    Is plaid a color? And I never wanted to grow up. So far, so good.

    That’s why no one ever expects top five lists…

    I suggest a story contest where the tale must include a Cosmic Jesus, a six-fingered hand, and a puppy.

  16. Charlotte

    Top 5 reasons I go to the Rabbit Room:
    1) Posts like this
    2) It’s on my bookmarks bar
    3) Some of my favorite musicians write for it
    4) I like reading when I’m bored (or procrastinating) or even when I’m not bored
    5) People post fun comments on posts

  17. ginger

    I have 2 favorite colors. Green & purple. They keep switching places on my favorite list.
    I don’t think I will ever grow up, though some (my kids) think I already have. I always wanted to be a wife & mom, so I have accomplished that goal, to an extent, anyway. Being good at it? A life-long process.
    I am totally with you on #4. And thanks for shamelessly promoting yourself. I now have a new blog to read. Excuse me…

  18. John Armstrong

    You are a funny man. I happen to like lists such as “Best albums of 2008 by depressed singer-songwriters”. But how could you make that list into a top 5 by leaving off countless other artists?
    In response to your question . . .forest green, a jedi.

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