The Best of the Best

the dangerous business of calling something “the best”

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Ian Kloster

What is the best thing about the Chippewa Valley? The people? The landscape? The hot beef sandwiches at Ray’s Place on Water Street? Even in a small-ish place like the Chippewa Valley, the concept of “best” is so relative it’s basically meaningless.

There are so many different variables. There is so much overlap. There are so many great things here that were never meant to be compared to something else. How can you really compare our bands to each other? How can you compare our painters to our sculptors? How can you compare our many fabulous happy hour spots? Impossible.

Theoretically, adding awesome to awesome equals more awesome. But in general, over-comparisons muddle things up and the essence of what makes one particular thing great is easily lost.

You must be careful when comparing two awesome, but very different things. They might start mashing into each other in strange and unexpected ways. Before you know it, the stuff you like starts to meld together, forming a giant blob.

Your favorite foods meld into a culinary freak show. How about a tasty spaghetti burger? You want some Pad Thai donut holes? Chicken fried yogurt, anyone? Try the dark chocolate egg salad!

The activities in which you love to partake become a dangerous jumble. You might do the Sunday morning crossword puzzle while cross-country skiing. You might have to do your nature photography while your speed metal band rehearses. You might home brew a ship in a bottle. You could snorkel-quilt.

Cinematic champions do battle for your approval, leaving a slew of collateral damage. Batman fights with Indiana Jones. The Goonies tussle with the A-Team. Doc Brown arm wrestles Ferris Bueller. Rambo slap-fights with Luke Skywalker. Daniel LaRusso ends up crane kicking Teen Wolf during a high school basketball game!*

Total, soul-shattering anarchy.

Maybe it’s not that bad. Theoretically, adding awesome to awesome equals more awesome. But in general, over-comparisons muddle things up and the essence of what makes one particular thing great is easily lost.

*Eighties, anyone?

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