With the most-hyped New Year's of the 20th century (or was it the 21st?) now behind us, mental health experts say we should expect to see a higher-than-usual number of people with the post-holiday blues. Certainly the highest number of bummed-out people in this millennium, so far. Think of the disappointment--all the worrying, all the preparation, all those bags of freeze-dried beef stew--and nothing bad happens. What a letdown!
* But besides the Y2K cataclysm that never was, the other source of this depression must be the multitude of "best of the century" lists--best movie, best athlete, best novel, best actor, best show, best song, best kitchen utensil, best this, best that, and on and on. These lists are fine for people who like their apples and oranges in a single bowl. But other than serving as fodder for innumerable arguments over cocktails, these subjective lists really serve no useful purpose, except to irritate.
* Time magazine selected Albert Einstein as the Numero Uno Person of the Century from its list of the "100 Most Important People of the Century." Check it out at http://www.pathfinder.com/time/time100/. And this is not solely an American obsession. For example, the French magazine Le Parisien selected Alfred Hitchcock as the Most Influential Film Director of the 20th Century. Taking this superlative idea to the other extreme, Time also ran lists of the best (or worst) "Phonies or Frauds of the Century" and the "Worst Ideas of the Century."
* Using a more objective criterion (cash register receipts), the Recording Industry Assn. of America proclaimed those lads from Liverpool, the Beatles, the Artists of the Century with 106 million albums sold; Garth Brooks, Top Male Artist, with 89 million albums sold, and Barbra Streisand, Top Female Artist, with 62 million albums sold. Now, that's a whole lot of freeze-dried beef stew.