Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Glittering prizes

One of my newer readers, JES of Running After My Hat (a G.K. Chesterton reference and a Coen brothers reference - hard to resist!), has kindly nominated me for a Superior Scribbler Award (please follow the latter link to find the post on The Scholastic Scribe which initiated these awards last October, and maintains a list of the winners to date).

Ah yes, it's a 'meme' (not a real meme, of course, but a blog-meme), and I'm not awfully fond of them, as I've curmudged before.

Therefore, while I gratefully accept the compliment myself, I am not going to lobby too forcefully for any of my blog-friends to take up the chain-letter element of the award (passing it on ad infinitum.... or at least until every blogger in the world has received the award; I'm so lucky to be nominated only three months into its existence!).

Anyway, the 'rules' of the Superior Scribbler Awards are as follows:

You do NOT talk about Fight Club.

(Oh, sorry. I'll start again.....)

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!

Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Finding five "bloggy friends" to recommend for this award in turn is quite a problem for me. My online reading is mostly confined to fairly serious, newsy blogs focused on business, education, technology, and the media. They're all really content-focused, not the kind of literary outlet which the Scribbler Awards are seeking to honour.

I also fret that I may be something of a blogger "kiss of death": most of the other blogs that I have from time to time developed a fondness for over the past few years have suddenly died, disappeared, or gone into long periods of hibernation.

Amongst my blog friends.... Leah and Tulsa used to write very stimulating blogs, but have both now retired (and deleted the blogs, I think). The Artist keeps an excellent blog, but is diffident about her writing abilities and insists on treating it as a 'friends and family only' affair. My old university chum Tolstoy maintains one of the most diverting blogs on the Net, but it's entirely composed of photos, video clips, and links from elsewhere; he rarely contributes more than a caption or two himself. The notorious Mr Brendan O'Kane, one of my occasional drinking buddies out here in Beijing, writes very entertainingly from time to time; often, however, he goes for months without posting anything at all (he's much more regular, I believe, on his Chinese-language blog, which is highly praised by those who can read it; I, however, cannot, and am therefore hardly in a position to recommend it for this award). The lovely OMG (my adviser/translator whenever I take it into my head to post something about Spanish literature) is about the best writer I have so far discovered out there in blogland - but, since she got 'a proper job' last year, her blog posting, alas, has slowed to a feeble dribble. And JES, of course, is already a winner (nominated by the English writer, Kate Lord Brown)

Amongst the 'China blogs' I like.... Kim of EastWest Station is a smart chap and writes well, but only seems to post once or twice a month. Mutant Palm is the best 'China blog' out there, but, I fear, its author Dave is too dauntingly earnest to appeal much to the general reader. Will Moss of Imagethief (the man who seduced me into this whole blogging lark in the first place - first it's reading, then it's commenting, then it's wanting to write one of your own: oh, it's a slippery slope!) is quirky and offbeat enough to have much broader appeal; but his blog is already one of the most widely followed in China, so I really don't think he needs any further plaudits from little old me.

Oh, but I have to choose someone.

All right then, here goes.

I'd better start with my friend Jeremiah's Granite Studio. Like most people who struggle under the burden of 'a proper job', his posting suffers rather from the feast-or-famine phenomenon; but it's worth setting up a feed to his blog so that you can be pleasantly surprised - and occasionally overwhelmed - when new posts turn up (and don't forget to check out the comments, which are often just as thought-provoking as the posts themselves). He's an historian who specialises in the late Qing Dynasty period here in China, so most of his writing is about Chinese history (though he covers more recent events and the distant past as well as the narrower field of his coming-along-nicely doctoral dissertation), but usually with a leavening of humour, and often interspersed with more idiosyncratic personal material. Today's reprinted post on the leading Chinese writer Lao She (February 3rd is the 110th anniversary of his birth) is a prime example of his output.

I'd also like to give a shout out to Stuart and Found in China, a blog that is just about to turn one year old. I happened upon it shortly after he set it up, but then - what with all the distractions last year - I failed to get into a regular reading habit with it. Since he is a Brit of similar age to myself, and similarly suffering through the psychic sausage-grinder that is the education business in China - I really should have been more supportive. He reminded me of his existence by graciously leaving me a couple of comments on here just recently - and is immediately rewarded with a Superior Scribbler gong! You see what commenting can get you? Seriously, though, his blog's a tremendous read, and I'd like to go back over a lot of the posts I missed last year. Just yesterday he provided a definitive summation of the trials of teaching English in this country, a post that is worthy of an award all on its own.

Then - since nobody else seems to have nominated her yet (although I feel sure several of her online entourage must be on the brink of doing so) - I will nominate the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Moonrat, whose Editorial Ass blog is a fund of magpie web-pickings, humour, and wise advice to aspiring authors (and published authors, and readers, and human beings generally). Yes, it's mainly a blog for people interested in the publishing industry, but.... no-one should live in ignorance of those two outstanding wits of our time, Robert The Publisher and The Rally Monkey. And Moonie's post a month ago on the vice of "overwriting" should be required reading for all of us who, er, try to write.

I'd also like to nominate OMG, in the hope that it might goad her into getting back into a more regular writing habit this year. This post about learning to play golf with her father and this one about a visit to the hairdresser's are two of the best pieces I've ever read in a personal blog (but both from over a year ago).

And finally..... I couldn't of course forget Tony of Other Men's Flowers, my happiest blog discovery of the past year. The cranky old so-and-so is a bit of a cheat in some ways, since many of his posts simply reprint amusing pictures, or quote from other blogs or newspaper articles (or dictionaries or encyclopedias), or recycle humorous pieces of his own that he wrote long, long ago, or...... Ah, but we forgive him, because it's all such splendidly amusing stuff. And, when he can be bothered to write, he writes quite beautifully. Watch out for his comment-threads, too. Many of his commenters are his own creations; but his online fan club is such an eclectic mix of eccentrics and polymaths that it can be difficult to differentiate between the fictitious and the merely improbable. This early post of his, brilliantly illustrating the useful French concept of l'esprit de l'escalier, is a particular favourite of mine (I am diligently working my way through his 5 years' worth of archives).

Well, there you have it. My congratulations to these deserving winners (and my thanks for all the entertainment they have provided me). If you would like to pass on the compliment to others of your circle in like fashion, you are most welcome. No pressure, though.


JES said...

Like you, I'm not much of a meme-passer. It's too much like sharing a disease. I didn't know but suspected you might feel that way. (And right after posting this comment, I need to read your curmudging -- previously unseen -- on the subject.)

The interesting thing about this one is its packaging as an award. Which makes it damn near irresistible to pass on to others, since you can't be said to have accepted it otherwise. After all, who wants to turn down an award?

I'm looking forward to checking out your nominees. If you recommend them, they can't be all bad, eh?

Froog said...

No, they are all - in their very different ways - most excellent. I hope you'll enjoy them. Five I could do. Any more than five would have been a problem...

I'm trying to check out all of your and Kate's winners too.

Froog said...

By the way, JES, does this count as a 'dual award' for Barstool Blues too?

I like to think that much of my best stuff, and certainly my most personal stuff, is over there, but it does get significantly less traffic and very, very few comments. I am an anxious father, concerned about sibling jealousy between my blogs.

JES said...

In truth, I very seldom visit the Barstool. Not out of... uh... teetotalitarianism, Lord knows, and when I have visited there I've always been entertained.

My sense is that the award goes to the Scribbler, though, not to the Scribbled. So sure, feel free to share your earnings with both heirs. I doubt that the trustees of the Superior Scribbler Foundation would step in the way of a family relationship!

Froog said...

Double happiness, as we say in China.

Elizabeth said...

I"m sure you didn't really mean to call OMF's Tony "a bit of a cheat" did you? After all, he makes a very humble claim for his editorship of his "miscellany" gleaned from writings real or virtual. I find it scintillating, enlightening and unmissable.

Tony said...

Froog: A kind thought, but we cranky old so-and-sos don't do memes.

Elizabeth: Now that's what I call a friendly comment. If only we were both free I would ask you to marry me.

Tony said...

It is clear that I don't fit into this Superior Scribbler thing at all. Is it possible to cancel my nomination and delete all reference to OMF?
I would be very happy if you can do that.

Froog said...

Elizabeth, I was only teasing the old grouch. I meant he was "a cheat" by the standards I try to set for myself, by the pattern the majority of bloggers follow, which is to write almost entirely personal and original stuff. His original stuff is so good, I wish there were a little bit more of it.

Tony, by all means decline the honour. As I said, I don't like the 'meme' element of it either.

Unfortunately, I really don't think I can delete your nomination (long story - but this post is, for some reason, riddled with Blogger-bugs; it took me bloody ages to get it straightened out in the first place, and I am terrified that if I open the 'edit page' it will all get screwed up again).

You're surely not worried about 'undesirables' showing up on your blog from here,are you? I mean, I've recommended you before (and included links to your blog or to particular posts of yours several times), and you seemed quite pleased. This is a tiny, tiny, very obscure blog: I only have two or three dozen regular readers - and they're all very nice people, really.

Tony said...

No, I don't worry about uninteresting comments turning up; with a glance at Comment Moderation I can select the comments worth publishing and the rest (only a few dozen a month including comment spam) are then easily disposed of with a click or two.

omg said...

Why thank you, Froog. I'm sincerely touched. At the same time, perhaps I should nominate you for "Guilt-Tripper of the Year." I have to say, though, perhaps your dastardly plan will work. I'd really like to get back to the writing. I fear that it would all be posts complaining about my "proper job" so that's something that has kept me from it of late. Well, that and television, and a general need to step away from the computer for at least four hours a day.

Since I haven't read any other blogs in about four months, I have no one else to nominate for the award. But let's keep our fingers crossed that guilt will drive me to write more often. After all, it drives me to do most other things in my life!

Froog said...

Great to hear from you, OMG.

I hope you will get back into a writing habit. I think I've said to you before that I believe it to be possible to write about work without making it too specific or self-indulgent: you can 'anonymise' the details to protect the guilty (and yourself), or make general observations on the problems of dealing with bosses, colleagues, teamwork, deadlines, routine, etc. And it really sounds as if you need to vent!

I also worry about spending too much time at the computer, since such a lot of my work involves writing or editing (or e-mailing people to try to turn up new work opportunities). Luckily, I am an early riser and a 'morning person', so I usually have an hour or two at the beginning of the day to indulge my Net addictions before I start feeling guilty about my lack of productivity.

Sorry to add to your burden of guilt. I'm not a big fan of guilty myself - but, if it gets the job done.....