The Beanstalk


by David N. Townsend


September 8, 1999


The Top 100 Everything of the 20th Century (Pt. 2)

Here, now, is  the second installment in this List of Lists, the Inter-continental Awards Ceremony that has everyone buzzing (well, the flies in my room, anyway).  Join in the fun, as the anticipation builds.  We're ranking the Top 100 of all things in all fields of human interest and endeavor from the 20th century.  Last week we had #s 100-76.  If you were looking for your favorite Haiku poem or Polo match, and it wasn't in that group, who knows, maybe it's ranked even higher than you think?  (Don't count on it.)

So, let's keep moving, on to:

More of the Top 100 Everything of the 20th Century

75.    Air Conditioning.  Ask people in Louisiana, not to mention Indonesia, if this little invention made a difference.

74.    Israel.  The newest oldest nation on Earth; featured in some minor tiffs along the road to legitimacy.

73.    "Star Wars".  The movies, the books, the merchandise, the video games.  Earned approximately Infinity dollars.   Made geekdom socially acceptable (almost).

72.    Marie Curie.  Discovered (and eventually died from) Radioactivity.  Actually, that happened in 1898, but she and her hsuband won the Nobel Prize in Physics for it in 1903, and she went on to win a second Nobel, for Chemistry (only person ever to do that), in 1911.  Her daughter then also won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935.  Nice genes, Marie!

71.   Cable News Network.  Owns exclusive franchise rights for all new Wars over the next 20 years.  Stay tuned.

70.   Agatha Christie.  Sold more books than God . . . no, wait, the Bible actually did better, but she comes as the second best-seller for the century.  And at least she explains everything in the end.

69.    Duke Ellington.  The band leader extraordinaire; everyone's favorite jazz musician.  (Apologies to Louie, Charlie, Coltrane, Ella, et al.)

68.    Cellular phones.  Rapidly taking over the world, like locusts; soon we'll have them implanted in our ears.

67.    Charles Lindbergh.  Flew an airplane (q.v.) across the ocean, something that currently happens about 150,000 times a day.  It's like becoming famous for being the first guy to skip a rock on a pond.

66.   Heart transplants.  Not much consolation to the donors, but a pretty huge miracle for those with a weak ticker.  (Gold-digging heirs probably didn't like it so much, either.)

65.    Coco Chanel.  Invented perfume.  No, invented hot chocolate.  Actually, she revolutionized women's fashion.

64.    Pink Floyd, "The Wall".  The zenith of rock music as art, expression, theater, poetry, commercialism, even political anthem.  Deal with it: it's that great.

63.    Automatic Teller Machines.  Dispensers of "Yuppie Food Stamps" ($20 bills).  Made possible 24-hour pizza shops, many other vices.

62.    Mao Tse Tung.  Hey, there's 2-billion people in China, right?  And this guy single-handedly transformed 3,000 years of imperial history.  So that ranks about a 62, don't you think?

61.    The "F-word".  Profanity really came into its own in this century, and sometimes there's just no freakin' other way to friggin' express oneself in this fogged-up world we live in.

60.    Women's suffrage.  I've never understood why a word that sounds like "suffering" means the right to vote.  Maybe with choices like Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, there's a point, after all.

59.    Radio.  Used to be entertaining, before the invention of Talk.

58.   Katherine Hepburn.  Who knew when she played "A Star is Born" as a kid how prophetic that was?  The best.

57.   Polio vaccine.  You don't want to know how sad this disease used to be.

56.   L.S.D.  A different drug for a different ailment:  Reality.

55.   Sony Corp.  How the Japanese really won in the end (in alliance with Toyota, Nissan, Panasonic, etc.)

54.    Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Perhaps "One Hundred Years of Solitude" is the appropriate theme for the whole century.  Or maybe he's just its greatest writer.

53.    The Russian Revolution.  Brought an end to an oppressive empire, launching a new era in global geopolitics.

52.    Breakup of the Soviet Union.  Brought an end to an oppressive empire, launching a new era in global geopolitics.

51.    Andrew Lloyd Weber.  From "Jesus Christ, Superstar" through "Cats" and "Phantom of the Opera," the unchallenged giant of the modern Broadway musical.


A few surprises, huh?  You didn't remember that all of these great things or people happened in the 20th century, did you?  (What?   They didn't have CNN during the Civil War?) Haven't been brushing up on our contemporary history notes lately, have we?

Well, you can only imagine what's coming next.  What even more spectacular moments and accomplishments from the fields of entertainment, science, art, politics, and sociopathy await in the third installment?  And then, what could possibly be included in the Top Ten?  As the beloved Casey Casem would say, we're countin' 'em down, and we won't stop until we hit Number One.  Come on back next time.


Recent ramblings:             

Be thoughtful, or the kid gets it (1/18/99) Over the hill and far away (2/28/99) The Top 100 Everything of the 20th Century (Pt.1) (8/31/99)
Do I really need to hear about Dead Babies at six o'clock in the morning? I have the humble honor of reporting to you from the far side of my 40th birthday, which occurred a week ago . . . You've seen the lists, the tributes, the polls, endlessly and everywhere as we approach the false bottom of the Millenium.

(Click Elsewhen for the complete list)

  1999 David N. Townsend

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