Everyone Wins

I’m a dope. If an acceptance speech was required or expected, I did not deliver one. The one time an award was given to me at a real awards ceremony, I dashed from my seat upon hearing my name, ran to the front of the hotel ballroom, paused long enough to collect the plaque (long since lost), looked at it long enough to see that my name was in fact etched on its surface, and dashed back to my newspaper’s table. The presenters were not looked at long enough for their faces to be retained in my memory.

I grabbed that thing as if I expected the membership of the New York Press Association to demand an instant recount. As if someone had clicked start on a stopwatch. It was not my plan to turn into Carl Lewis and hurdle the tables of our rival newspapers, but something snapped. It was 1997 and I still could run, but I lived a life in which I did not expect good things, so when good things came I was not “pleasantly surprised” as I like to be now, I was shocked into feeling like I was getting away with something that I clearly did not deserve.

I reprinted the column here in December; it was called “The New Wave“; the link is to it.
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Ten-Minute Answers

I do not know if “1874: First Impressionist Exhibition” is the all-time greatest name for a blog or the 75th greatest name, but it attracted my attention when it appeared in the blogging world a month or so ago.


Donald Barthelme

The creator usually illustrates her posts with works of art, paintings mostly, from the entire history of art, and is thus compiling a personal version of “The Story of Art.” This caught my eye, as it reminded me a bit of Donald Barthelme, and I think it also raised the bar for my website. (From the start, almost a year ago, I have included music and photos in here; an example: “Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty.”)


For the third time this week, The Gad About Town has been noticed and given an award, the Liebster award, given by one blogger to another. It is the second Liebster this year and I am very thankful to “1874: First Impressionist Exhibition” for the attention.

In the blogging world, there are some rules of etiquette in the form of paying forward the “Liebster” attention. Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
2. Display the award on your blog—by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget.”
3. Share 11 facts or things about yourself.

In no order: A. I spend too much time thinking about me. B. Strawberries are my favorite food, and I wish they had protein so they could be a complete meal for carnivorous me. C. Being in recovery makes every day feel like an awards ceremony. D. My love of the number 4. E. Yankees, Giants, Knicks, Rangers. F. When it is fall I think that spring is the best season, and in spring I think that fall is. G. Independent bookstores. H. “Too skinny” my entire life. I. Nascar fan, which no one expects. J. Have not yet owned an mp3 player. K. I want to see Mt. Everest but only see it.

4. Nominate bloggers you admire whose sites have fewer than 200 followers and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.

I am going to repeat something I wrote earlier this week. I have been participating for the last 10 weeks in responding to our WordPress service’s Daily Prompt, which has helped spur my most prolific period of writing since graduate school. (This prolific-ness is a good thing, too, because I am working on a terrific project, due out soon, with another blogger.) Most of the writers with whom I have been communicating regularly, several of whom ask me questions and give me applause every single day, I met via that service. My subscribers have doubled and so has the number of blogs that I subscribe to. Go to the Daily Prompt any day and you will see the several dozen blogs that I read and often like every day.

“1874: First Impressionist Exhibition” is one of the blogs to which I would have given a Liebster Award. A couple others: Joatmon14, A Body of Hope. The under-200 stipulation really is a great and understandable limit, but it truly is limiting.

But, you all get an award! Check under your seats and pass it forward if you would like to.

5. Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees 11 questions. These are the questions I was given. (This is like being interviewed and this is the part I am only spending 10 minutes on.)

1. What’s the best piece of advice on writing you’ve received?
My first version of any piece of writing is usually an example of over-writing, a case of stating things in a complicated fashion; this is almost always done for comic effect, and then I read it and realize that I am the only audience for the complicated version of the joke. Keep it simple.

2. How often do you write or work on writing (e.g. researching)?
Lately, every day. I was silent for a decade, so perhaps I am catching up on lost time. As I am working on a book, I know that these muscles need exercise.

3. Are you an atheist, agnostic, a believer or something else?
I believe that life is a force that goes on. I do not believe that there is a Big Boss in charge, or that my particular consciousness was around before me or will continue beyond me. But life, whatever that energy is, will. I have a higher power in my life, in that I believe that neither you nor I are figments of my imagination.

4. Do you think this affects your writing?
It has an effect on my outlook on life, so I think that it has an effect on my writing, certainly any personal memoir writing.

5. What’s your favorite book?
“The Secret Parts of Fortune” by Ron Rosenbaum.

6. Who is your favorite author?
James Joyce. Sometimes I think that I like Richard Ellmann’s “James Joyce” more than Joyce, but then I look at “Ulysses” again. Nabokov. I am reading Martin Amis’s newest, out last week, “The Zone of Interest.” Nonfiction: John McPhee.

7. What’s your favorite movie?
“The Maltese Falcon.”

8. Who is the awesomest person you know (or know of), dead or alive?
I am proudest of my sister, for reasons she knows. I can not take my eyes off my girlfriend.

9. How would you define creativity?
Making 2 + 1 = G. But not every time.

10. How long have you been on WordPress?
According to WordPress, since May 2013, but this blog went live in December after starting it on Blogger.

11. Do you write for a living?
Not at the moment …

The WordPress Daily Prompt for October 9 asks, “10 minutes. You and your keyboard (or smartphone. Or tablet. Or pen and paper). No pauses, no edits, no looking back: it’s free-write time!” And that is why my answers are what they are.