Posts Tagged Awards

2018 Darwin Award Winners

Saturday, January 12th, 2019 | Permalink

First, a note of explanation. The Darwin Awards are a tongue-in-cheek honor, originating in 1985 which recognize individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions.

According to Wendy Northcutt, who helped formalize their creation, the annual award commemorates individuals who, in the spirit of natural selection, a term coined by the naturalist, Charles Darwin, “protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”

Let’s start with the honorable mentions: 

–The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat 
cutting machine and after a little shopping around, submitted a 
claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence 
sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the 
machine and he also lost a finger.. The chef’s claim was 
approved. 

–A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his 
car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to 
find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her. 

–An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from 
serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked 
how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was 
simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving 
train before he was hit. 

–A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the 
counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash 
drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the 
register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the 
cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the 
counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer… $15. 
(If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a crime 
committed?) 

–Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He 
decided that he’d just throw a cinder block through a liquor 
store window, grab some booze, and run. So, he lifted the cinder 
block and heaved it over his head at the window The cinder block 
bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him 
unconscious. The liquor store window was made of Plexiglas. The 
whole event was caught on videotape. 

–As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a 
man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, 
and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the 
snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. 
They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief 
was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a 
positive ID. To which he replied, “Yes, officer, that’s her 
That’s the lady I stole the purse from.” 

–The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked 
into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 5 A.M., flashed a 
gun, and demanded cash.  The clerk turned him down because he 
said he couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. 
When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren’t 
available for breakfast… The frustrated gunman walked away. (*A 
5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER) 

–When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home 
parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more 
than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very 
sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A 
police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal 
gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home’s 
sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to 
press charges saying that it was the best laugh he’d ever had and 
the perp had been punished enough! 

And the winner:

When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended 
victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber 
James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He 
peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it 
worked. 

Thanks go out to Bernard Karon for passing along this much-deserved recognition.

Grrr! Another year without a Nobel Prize

Saturday, October 15th, 2016 | Permalink

gettyimages-156038135-6ea6b50095eaa7c2418424f95b8308f49dceeb55-s900-c85Ah, shucks! No early morning phone call rousing me from Morpheus’ embrace to proclaim I was this year’s recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Not that I was expecting one, mind you. Like the vast majority of people who scribble down their thoughts for a living (or for the hell of it) in hopes someone other than their wives, mothers or significant others might take time out from their personal dramas to read them, there seems many authors who, due to reputation, readership, or gross sales, stand in line ahead of me for the award. After all, if Maya Angelou, Don DeLillo, and Salman Rushdie hadn’t received the award, who was I to butt in ahead of them?

Not Bob Dylan, that’s who! It isn’t jealousy (of course not) or that he’s undeserving (you tell me), but what he writes doesn’t fall within the strict canon of literature. Oh, I know post-modern academics have assaulted the walls of the canon ever since my days as a graduate student in English. In the process they’ve broadened the scope of Literature recipients beyond the Anglo-European nexus to include Naguib Mahfouz (Nigeria), Octavio Paz (Mexico), Nadine Gordimer (South Africa), and Kenzabauro Oe (Japan). But for every Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) or Gabriel Marcia Marquez (Columbia), there are plenty of other writers of all nationalities and ethnicities working in traditional genres (fiction, poetry, memoir, etc.) who deserve the recognition a Nobel Prize confers.

So, why Dylan? Some of it is timing. Though he was a singer/songwriter in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Dylan appeared on the pop culture scene during the last gasps of the Big Band Era, the ascension of rock n’ roll, and America’s  rediscovery of its folk music. As the country endured the paroxysms caused by the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, feminism, and political assassination, Dylan was right there with his harmonica and frog voice to mumble how “the times they are a-changin'”

Nostalgia for what one critic calls “the kinds of lyrics [which] affected nearly every child of the ’60s” are much of what allows the Swedish Academy’s secretary, Sara Danius, to justify Dylan’s inclusion as no different from the ancient Greeks whose works often were performed with music. “Bob Dylan writes music for the ear,” she’s quoted, “but it’s perfectly fine to read his works as poetry.” All of which is fine so far as it goes, but it seems unfortunate that word smiths associated with Tin Pan Alley such as Cole Porter or Irving Berlin or more recent (and throaty) singer/songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waite haven’t benefited from the Academy’s critical largess.

But why stop at rewarding lyrics of one brand of music or one form of expression? Spoken word and rap/hip-hop artists such as Marc Smith and LL Cool J or Jay Z have much to say about the human condition as experienced in America. If relevance and notoriety are motivations for the Academy broadening the definition of literature for recognition, one relishes the prospect of Kanye West rushing the stage during an induction ceremony to dispute the Academy members’ selection.

And why limit the selection to human forms of communication? Surely, out there somewhere anthropologists, zoologists, and linguists are scribbling down the clicks, squawks, and other noises that make up non-human communication. Somewhere there’s a Clever Hans, Washoe, or loquacious porpoise whose recorded reflections upon the faunal condition have yet to be made public. In the near future, a grammatically apt descendant of IBM’s Watson might be eligible for the award though it would have to share it with the creator of the algorithm that enabled it to write meaningful prose.

It appears that any future expectation of Nobel recognition will have to come from some diluted literary genre or lesser field of study. A screed on the benefits of trickle-down economics or the effectiveness of meridians in Chinese medicine in curing warts may be the ticket to final recognition by the Nobel Academy. It surely won’t come from writing the prose or poetry associated with traditional literary endeavor.

What do you think?