Tag Archives: winning

Un-honorably Un-mentioned

There it is, folded on the coffee table. The newspaper’s culture magazine. Their annual writing contest with all winner’s works printed inside, just a few feet away from my shaking hands.

I’ve submitted many times before, but feel this is the year I get published. I’m going to win because I took a chance. I didn’t send something I thought they were looking for. I do that every year. And lose. Instead, I sent an original, edgy, witty, and clever piece to the newspaper jurors. Adult Prose section, here I come.

newspaper photo for blog 004I open the magazine. Adult Prose First Place winner – not me. Okay. I wasn’t expecting First Place anyway. I turn the page. Second Place. Not me. You know, it would be nice, just once, if I won … anyway. I turn the page. Another writer has taken Third Place. But, wait – something new this year, the List of Finalists, names of writers whose works were considered extremely worthy but didn’t make the cut. If I’m on the list, some progress has been made.

I wiggle my index finger down the page of ten names. Mike Andberg is not among them. Who are all these people? I’ve never heard of any of them.

The Honorable Mention section. I flip the pages. Quickly. I have not been mentioned in the Honorable Mention section either.

I check the Teen section winners. I never mentioned my age in my submission to the paper. Who knows? Maybe they placed my winning entry in the Teen category by mistake. I check it. Twice. My name’s not there. Teenagers are already in the paper and they’re, what, fifteen? I’m how old?

I peruse the Kids category. Jesus. I mean, how good can these pieces be? I’m not included in this section (whether accidentally or deliberately).

I envision tomorrow’s newspaper folded on my coffee table. A giant apology. It was all a printing mix up. Excluded from the Annual Writing Contest winners was Mike Andberg’s glorious, witty, funny, unique, and cutting edge piece. It could happen, right?

I can only hope it wasn’t placed in Obituaries.


1 Comment

Filed under Blog, The Daily Thought

Sweet Spring, Sweet Surrender

"Maureen," 18 x 24. Conte stick on paper

“Maureen,” 18 x 24. Conte stick on paper



Flowers bloom. Love blossoms. And dreams get crushed. Sometimes that’s what happens.

Regardless, the power of spring’s beauty is such that hope springs eternal every year. Like this spring. And next spring. And every spring I’m alive.

A particularly sweet spring – my sixteenth – occurred many years ago. The thrill of love, art, girls and winning combined for a lifetime worth of boyhood passion and intensity all in one season.

I’m pleased to share that story with you from this excerpt in Chapter 5, “Artistry,” from my memoir, Maybe Boomer.

I liked art class. It was different, a looser, free-flowing experiment in sociability as well as art media. The teacher often asked Maureen, a classmate one year behind me, to sit in a chair so the class could draw her, giving me the opportunity to stare at her freckles, low slung bell-bottoms, long brown hair, and exotic eyes. One minute, I fancied she liked me as more than the casual friends we were, the next minute not. Her penetrating smile always lured me in, either to bang my head against the wall in frustration or to try to get closer to her yet again. I was beginning to understand why the world associated love and art as inseparable, beautiful one minute, unsettling the next.

In this class, learning to dabble in the love of art and the art of love occurred simultaneously, but the art of love took precedence. I hoped my fascination with Maureen might lead to something.

Of all things, the attraction resulted in winning a Gold Key from the National Scholastic Arts Organization for a drawing I did of her in class. Using a fancy Conte’ a’ Paris pastel stick, I sketched Maureen as she posed in innocent, chaste fashion, cross-legged on the floor, writing in a notebook situated on her lap. Apparently, I’d also succeeded in shading her supple lips and tight shirt-covered breasts with a considerable amount of feeling – it sure got the judge’s eye.

It was news of winning the Gold Key that got Maureen’s attention. That night, unannounced, she drove over to my house.

When she said she came by just to say hi, I was flattered.

When we proceeded to go out for ice cream, I was nervous.

When we licked our ice cream cones while parked alone in her car, I froze.

As we sat together in the front seat, looking out over the high school’s tennis courts, even my chilled hand couldn’t keep butter pecan from melting all over the motionless cone.  Despite my statue-like position, thoughts and feelings raced through my mind, and I became oblivious to any signals she was sending.

After thirty long minutes of only coming to know her car’s interior intimately, the right side of her face exclusively, and the uneasiness of love exactly, Maureen released me of my burden by reaching over and kissing me on the cheek. Oversensitive, thinking I’d been weak for not rushing the net to make the first move, I never recovered, never scored as much as a single point. Worse yet, I whiffed showing her any of my heartfelt affection. Forty-love; game, set, match.

If words failed me, if touching scared me, if my own emotions threatened me, at least my passion had been comfortably freed to touch her through the segue of art. The memory of her would surely live on, but perhaps my greatest thrill came in creating a masterful work of art from my own hands for the first time, one inspired by Maureen.  


1 Comment

Filed under Blog, Stories from Maybe Boomer

Patriots vs. Seahawks and Swords vs. Stickum

Coliseum 48bit 800 dpi 168Tonight’s Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale will be glitzy. Confetti will fly. Crowds will roar. Players will battle. Owners will … well … be owners.

But down on the field, football is brutal and violent. How savage this game is.

So, what’s the difference between the Super Bowl and vicious Roman gladiator fights of two thousand years ago?

Nothing. Well, one thing – death. Gladiators battled with swords until they or their opponents died. NFL players battle until the scrawny referee’s gun goes off.  (However, note that some NFL players will act dead to get a free injury time out, giving Coach time to figure out why the team’s been getting slaughtered.) Whether the game is played today or way back then, it’s all about competition, period. Modern football may not allow gladiator swords, but stickum, gloves and deflated balls may be. Anything to win.

What both spectacles have most in common is spectatorship. Believe it or not, two thousand years ago, just like today, fans were entertained by players bearing fantastic tattoos. Muscular combatants love to parade the fancy tattoos etched on their svelte, muscular bodies. Fat players wear tattoos, too, but get much less attention, the only difference that fat NFL players earn enough money to buy every tattoo parlor on the planet while fat gladiators were happy just to live for another day and another tattoo.

The significance of fans’ interaction with players can never be overlooked. When a gladiator was wounded, Romans heckled, “habet, peractum est!” (i.e., “He’s had it, it’s all over”). Similarly, tonight, New England fans will yell, “Ged ap ya bam ‘n stap fakkin’ it!” (expletives deleted). Fans will do almost anything to get into stadiums for the chance to dialogue with players. Unfortunately, many Romans weren’t even allowed through the stone turnstiles because they were gravediggers, actors or former gladiators. The NFL, however, will take anyone’s money.

Left-handedness is another aspect that has bonded these two sports. Fans were treated to the Coliseum’s special Left-handers Event, enjoying the slaughter of fighters, unable to handle moves and blocks suddenly coming in from the left side. Similarly in the NFL (Steve Young, Boomer Esiason and Mark Brunell aside), fans have adored watching millionaire left-handed quarterbacks get mauled and blindsided. Lefties never make good pro quarterbacks and only waste high draft picks, and thus deserve to be eaten alive.

Roman citizens discovered news of big upcoming matches by reading announcements on street walls. Today, unless in a coma, everyone knows the Super Bowl is coming. Entertainment between gladiator clashes included public executions right on the field.  Billion dollar commercials will be shown tonight that, if not funny, will feel as disastrous as watching an execution.

After a long run of popularity, Rome’s great games faded out in 432 AD due to the high cost of curing gladiators. Time will tell if the NFL will run out of money. My guess is the NFL will eventually pay such high insurance and litigation fees for decades of player concussions and injures that it will go bankrupt. Ouch.

Till then: “Aw farr Chys sak, ged ‘im aff the feel an brang in hiz sab!”





Leave a comment

Filed under Blog, The Daily Thought