Wednesday, November 30, 2005


I must say, I've been a terrible blogger this year, haven't I? It's alright, you can tell me. It's not intentional; I just don't think there's been enough interesting things happening to me lately, and when they do, I forget to write about them, or I put it off for a few days and THEN forget about them.

I can't believe it's fucking December already. I still remember the struggle of trying to sum up last year! How can time have passed so fast? I don't think I had THAT much fun this year. In fact, this year was kind of bad.

But let's change topics. Hopefully, this month will see the return of our modest little radio show, although the name keeps changing every other day so I won't bother. But we still have the same exciting time slot of Friday nights at 9, so all you social butterflies should be listening in!

Also, the Fully Booked/Neil Gaiman contest, possibly the worst-kept non-secret of the season, should be formally announced any day now. I got to talk to Alex NiƱo the other day, that was cool. He was really nice, and it was funny because he didn't even seem all that interested in the contest; he wanted to talk about the local comics industry immediately. And I had to tell him that there really isn't one; I got word that even Atlas Komiks has stopped operations and are looking for a buyer.

I found myself judging this John Lennon Essay Contest for Fully Booked. I didn't even know it was ongoing. I tried to get out of it, saying that they should let the Itchyworms! judge it because they're the biggest Beatles fans I know (besides the De Dios clan), but somehow that didn't work. It was awkward for me because I am not the biggest Beatles/John Lennon fan. I mean, I love the music, but never read books on 'em or anything. One or two docus on cable, maybe, the interesting bits, you know how it is. Basically, I know about as much as the average observer of popular culture. Which meant that I couldn’t tell if someone’s encyclopedic laundry list of Lennon factoids was accurate or not. So I said to myself, OK, I'll judge this thing based on the writing. As I should, of course. The writing should convince me of what they're trying to say, and impart the feeling of significance/impact that Lennon has had on their life (a theme of the contest is that it must be personal). And mostly, it didn't. I should've expected some subpar entries, but some were just slightly embarrassing. I found myself wondering if my college Philosophy teachers felt like this; knowing that the essay in my hands contains entire paragraphs that serve no point other than to make the essay longer and thus give the illusion of content. The 2 longest essays are not finalists, for example. In fact, I somewhat felt they should get punished for making us judges have to waste so much more time on their essays.

The most difficult part was judging the essays written by people who were not necessarily exceptional writers, but were genuine die-hard fans of Lennon. Part of me felt an obligation to them since they were the fans, you know? It felt like they deserved the award, but their writing just didn’t do anything for me sometimes. Other writers ignored the theme of the contest: they wrote about Lennon but not themselves, or wrote about themselves being a Lennon fan without the unique impact he had on their lives. In this case, being a fan was not going to be enough.

But thankfully, what I feared did not come to pass. In the end, it wasn’t a case of choosing the lesser of bad essays. There were enough good ones that there were several hours where the people in 2nd and 3rd place would exchange positions. There was a clear winner: it was a brave piece, in my opinion, well-written, with a definite fan lurking underneath (thank God).

Should I get into teaching, I hope I don't have to encounter too many bad papers.

No comments: