THE TRAGICALLY unhip among us still think that the topic of conversation is hit records or college football teams whenever Top 10 is discussed.
But insomniacs or the intellectually enlightened know better.
Here are the Top 10 things you need to know about the real Top 10 list:
10. They appear nightly, save for reruns, on "Late Night With David Letterman," (broadcast on Channel 2 at 1 a.m.), thanks to the show's head writer, Steve O'Donnell.
9. The only hard and fast rule that O'Donnell lives by when creating the Top 10 list is "We do nothing horribly, horribly offensive to God and man. Otherwise, almost anything goes."
8. The concept was only supposed to live for a short time, but four years after the first list, the Top 10s have become so popular that a collection of them have been published (Pocket Books, $8.95).
7. Neither O'Donnell nor Letterman are bound by convention. The lists have appeared from the tops of moving vans, from the giant scoreboard at Yankee Stadium and the message board in Times Square.
6. Letterman has not always been the messenger of mirth. Steve Martin once delivered a Top 10, and recently the ever elusive Warren Beatty issued the "Top 10 Pet Peeves of Dick Tracy."
5. The lists are from a fictitious "home office" that has wandered all over the country, landing in such hamlets as Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Lincoln, Neb., and Scottsdale, Ariz.
4. The home office site that has been best received by its neighbors is the current spot, Lebanon, Pa., which has showered the Letterman staff with bologna and other foodstuffs in gratitude for the recognition.
"They have gone crazy over this," said O'Donnell of the town of about 25,000. "But when you go crazy in Lebanon, Pa., that's like sending off packages of pretzels to friends and relatives."
3. A list of the staff's favorite Top 10s include things overheard in a General Electric research lab, Dan Quayle's National Guard duties, Bigfoot's pet peeves, fears of Snuggles the Fabric Softener Bear, and goofy audience drivers-license photos.
2. One of the lists that was not permitted on the air was the Top 10 signs that would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley was rehabilitated enough to be released from a Washington mental hospital.
"One of the things we wanted to do was an item that read, "Already has been signed up by ABC to do harmonica solo at Ford's Theater tribute to Ronald Reagan," said O'Donnell. "We couldn't get across that we were trying to poke fun at the absurdity of the notion that he had been rehabilitated at all."
And the No. 1 thing you should know about the top 10 list:
If you don't watch them every night, Letterman and his staff will come to your house and make fun of you.
And now, from the home office, atop Calvert Street, in the city that time forgot, comes:
THE EVENING SUN'S TOP TOP 10 lists:
GEORGE BUSH'S TOP TEN STRESS BUSTERS:
10. Menthol rubdowns from Sununu.
9. Calls Mike Dukakis and asks if "Lou Zer" is there.
8. Makes Secret Service agents ride bicycles into White House pool and tapes it for "America's Funniest Home Videos."
7. Two words: Malt Liquor.
6. Takes off pants and sits on picture of Dan Rather.
5. Picks up hitchhikers on the Beltway and tells them about his grandchildren.
4. Gives the First Lady the "Ol' Presidential Pardon," if you know what I mean.
3. Relaxes with Mayor Barry.
2. Tosses horseshoes at Quayle's head.
1. Has Barbara tell him again and again how he's overcome the Wimp Factor.
TOP TEN REASONS THE BRITISH LOST THE COLONIES:
10. Hard to shoot straight with sissified powdered wigs falling in your eyes.
9. Wanted to just lose New Jersey but got carried away.
8. Colonists on steroids.
7. Spent too much time guessing who's gay in the Royal Family.
6. Their diet: tea and crumpets. Our diet: Raw squirrel meat and whiskey.
5. Serious problems with snuff abuse.
4. Lots of painful poking accidents trying to put on those pointy hats of theirs.
3. We had Batman.
2. Wanted to get first draft choice.
1. Uninspiring battle cry: Let's win this one for our swishy inbred monarch.
TOP TEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT BEING A REALLY DUMB GUY:
10. Never have to sit through long, boring Nobel Prize banquet.
9. Pleasant sense of relief when Road Runner gets away from coyote.
8. General Electric executive dining room has great clam chowder.
7. Get to have own talk show with Canadian bandleader.
6. Seldom interrupted by annoying request to "put that in layman's terms."
5. Stallone might play you in the movie.
4. Can feel superior to really really dumb guys.
3. Maybe get to be vice president.
2. Already know the answer when people ask, "What are you an idiot?"
1. Fun bumper sticker: I'd rather be drooling.
TOP TEN WAYS GADHAFI CAN REGAIN TITLE OF WORLD'S MOST INSANE LEADER:
10. Eat his own foot in front of Newsweek reporter
9. Hijackings every hour on the hour
8. Put inflated surgical glove on his head at press conference
7. Buy stock in Eastern Airlines
6. Go on cross-country car trip with Joe Piscopo; ask "Do you do impressions?"
5. Continually ask himself "What would Curly do?"
4. Appoint Quayle vice president
3. Open a retail electronics store and sell stuff at prices so low he's giving the stuff away.
2. Marry Cher
1. Try the McRibs
TOP TEN IRAQI NICKNAMES FOR GEORGE BUSH:
10. Sherry-swilling yacht monkey
9. Satan's lambada partner
7. Four eyes
6. The-never-had-anyone-close-to-Marilyn-Monroe president
5. Pork rind-munching goofball
4. Yale-educated father of five (Okay, they're not all so bad.)
3. Nancy Reagan's dress dummy
2. Trust fund weenie
1. Mr. Scared-of-Broccoli
SADDAM HUSSEIN'S TOP TEN HELPFUL INVASION TIPS:
10. Don't phone ahead.
9. Start with something easy like France.
8. Make sure everybody uses the restroom before your armored columns rumble across international borders.
7. Don't feed the raccoons at KOA campsites.
6. Nerve Gas: Don't leave home without it.
5. If Nightline calls for an interview, make sure Ted Koppel's doing show, not Forrest Sawyer.
4. Take along a gift for your host for example, a puppet regime.
3. Point out that people liked the British Invasion of the '60s.
2. Plenty of change for tollbooths.
1. Don't just race through a country. Take some time to smell the goats.
TOP TEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT GEORGE STEINBRENNER:
10. His pink slips have smiley faces on them.
9. Never considered hiring a guy in a chicken suit.
8. Exhales carbon dioxide, which is needed by plants.
7. Except for maybe six or seven times, never fired a manager on Christmas.
6. Every day for past 17 1/2 years, he has left flowers on the grave of Babe Ruth's favorite hooker.
5. Always accepts charges on phonecalls if you have damaging information on a million-dollar player.
4. Will eventually die and go to hell.
3. Isn't some foreigner from Canada who comes to this country, makes tons of money every year as late night band leader and then doesn't pay one cent in taxes.
2. He personally blew up those inflatable bat souvenirs before each home game.
1. His stepping out of the limelight and giving his son Hank a chance to be hated.
TOP TEN REJECTED TITLES FOR REAGAN'S MEMOIRS:
10. Still hazy after all these years
9. Fall asleep anywhere, anytime
8. How to make love to a shrewish, domineering First Lady
7. Those parties at Mayor Barry's
6. Hey at least I didn't pick Quayle!
5. Nancy Reagan's autobiography of Ronald Reagan
4. 1001 Sam Donaldson jokes
2. What? I'm not still president?
1. Hey Hinckley pardon this!
TOP TEN HUBBLE TELESCOPE EXCUSES:
10. The guy at Sears promised it would work fine.
9. Some kids on Earth must be fooling around with a garage door-opener.
8. There's a little doohickey rubbing against the part that looks kind of like a cowboy hat.
7. See if you can think straight after 12 days of drinking Tang.
6. Bum with squeegee smeared lens at red light.
5. Blueprints drawn up by that "Hey Vern!" guy.
4. Those damn raccoons!
3. Shouldn't have used GE components.
2. Ran out of quarters.
1. Race of super-evolved galactic beings are screwing with us.
TOP TEN SIGNS YOUR KID IS A LOSER:
10. Neighborhood kids trade and collect his teeth.
9. Sobs uncontrollably every time he sees that "Hey Vern" guy.
8. Constantly using the phrase "Okie-Dokie."
7. Turns you in to mall cops for parking in handicapped slot.
6. Turned down for date by Cher.
5. Tries to start the wave while watching game on TV.
4. Pesters Eddie Albert at "Green Acres" conventions.
3. When he grows up, wants to be "just like Dave."
2. Is U.S. vice president.
1. Tends to sit in the backyard and eat crickets.
Now, it's your turn. From your home office, give us your top 10. And to make it even easier, we'll even give you a choice of categories to select from:
TOP TEN THINGS OVERHEARD DURING A CONVERSATION BETWEEN WILLIAM DONALD SCHAEFER AND HILDA MAE SNOOPS
TOP TEN MOST RECENT ENTRIES IN SALLY THORNER'S CHECKBOOK
TOP 10 PET PEEVES OF THE ORIOLE BIRD:
Send your best lists along to TOP 10's, The Evening Sun, Accent Department, 501 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD, 21278, or fax them to (301) 332-6666. We'll publish our favorites in a few weeks and send them along to the big man himself and plead with him to run them on the air.