“I’ve Just Won a Major Award!”

You mean, the lamp made out of a woman’s leg?

No, something better!

Honk Honk, My Darling has just won the inaugural “Book of the Year, Nontraditional Fiction” from the Chicago Writers Association !!! YAHOOOO!!

This is truly awesome! I am so overjoyed that the judges gave the nod to Rex (and indirectly Lotta, Bingo, Boots Carlozo, Jimmy Plummett, Pinky Piscopink, Happy Jingles and all the other kinkers of Top Town). While I will proudly proclaim “Nontraditional Fiction” to mean my own strange brew of whatever makes me chortle, it really is directed at e-books and self-published books. And that’s pretty cool, too, in this brave new world of publishing, to have made a splash.

Here’s what judge Robert W. Walker said in his release:

This novel packs so much humor on each page, combining humor and the solving of the case with a unique panache. The novel defies categorization and flies in the face of convention while at the same time using the conventions of humor and mystery, a rare find; a paradox that works.

Man, it feels pretty good to defy categorization, and then win a category.

The last award I won for writing was in 1981 for a couple of short plays I wrote while at the University of Michigan. While writing has been good to me over the past 15 years, it’s pretty darn nifty to receive an award like this, voted on by my ink-stained peers. The award ceremony will be held at the Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, on January 14. We’ll all be reading and signing, and it will be open to the public. Can’t wait.

(Damn, I think my snark engine is broken. That’s what genuine gratitude gets you. I hope this isn’t a permanent condition.)

Thanksgiving Ramble

I sat down today, fully intending to write up a blog post that people could read over this long holiday weekend. This post would be clever and erudite, but also ground-breaking. It would cement in the reader’s mind that, despite the comical trappings around here, I was someone to take seriously, that my musings were something to tap into on a regular basis, that any sliver of spare time spent here would be rewarding. And from a crass commercial angle, it would get me a little web traffic and remind readers I was still alive and still flogging all my e-books, especially Honk Honk, My Darling.

Sorry, gang. It didn’t happen. Whatever thoughts might have been pacing around up there in the waiting room, ready for their debut, have somehow vanished. Maybe they were in a pique because I’d ignored them for most of the month, and they were loath to be trotted out hurriedly like a kid reciting “Twinkle Twinkle.” Maybe thoughts of baking, cooking, hosting and running around locked the door on them and pretended the key’s been lost. Maybe the thoughts are stuck in the security line at O’Hare. Maybe I ain’t got a cogent thought to present in any interesting way, and never did.

I started a list of things I was thankful for, but that started getting a little mawkish. Besides, everyone else’s lists have been on Twitter and blogs all week. While it was nice to read them all, it pushed me closer to the idea in Matthew 6, about praying by yourself in a closet.

Is that in the spirit of the holiday? Who knows? One of the best things about Thanksgiving is that it’s a little amorphous in how you approach it. There are traditions a-plenty, but the idea of celebrating the day “properly” rarely comes up. There’s no blowback if you choose to spend it by yourself or with friends, whether you eat turkey or lasagna, whether you go shopping or watch slasher movies at home. It feels like a real Do-It-Yourself holiday, and since it’s the first one of the season, everyone is a little less anxious.

At least, that’s how I feel about it. Family tensions certainly arise, as crowds gather for the celebration (or as people tell their families that they won’t be coming). The Black Friday stuff makes me want to join a monastery, in the Marianas Trench. The Christmas commercials during the parades and football games are nauseating (I feel so inadequate that I won’t be able to give my sweetie a Lexus this year, with a big bow on the top!). Seriously, it takes A LOT to turn me off from watching a parade, but CBS and Macy’s have perfected a formula for it. So, opportunities certainly arise for tension, disappointment, regret, but I’ve somehow blocked them out. Perhaps I’ve learned a few lessons in life by the half-century point.

At least we’re not the ones traveling this year.

And double at least, The Detroit Lions aren’t an abomination now, so both football games might be worth watching.

And I get to watch my darling daughter singing in “Boris Godunov” again tonight at the Chicago Lyric Opera.

So I’ve got lots to be thankful for. And I thank you for reading this far. Have a happy holiday weekend, y’all.

Tea Party Fairy Tales: Aesop’s Fables #1

The Two Sheep

One morning two sheep were deciding where to go to graze grass.

“I think we should go up the mountain,” said the first sheep. “Not many other animals go there to graze, so there should be enough to eat. Besides, the view is very pretty.”

The second sheep said, “No, let’s go down near the river. The grass is very sweet and plentiful there, and we’ll be shaded from the sun and wind.”

“I don’t like that idea,” said the first.

“But I don’t like yours either,” said the second.

“Well then, let’s compromise. We can go to the broad plain that lies between the mountains and the river. It should have enough grass to eat, and the weather should be fine for both of us.”

“Agreed,” said the second sheep.

And as they set off down the road to the broad plain, they were both attacked and eaten by lions.

Moral: Compromise equals death