A Travesty of Justice: Judging the Dessert Contest

A few days ago, the CEO’s executive assistant stopped me in the hall, and asked if I would be a judge in the company dessert contest.

Would I! I love dessert. I live for desserts. I’m old enough to have achy joints, but I still haven’t lost my sweet tooth. I immediately asked everyone I knew if they had magistrate’s robes and a powdered wig, and watched “Perry Mason,” “LA Law,” and “My Cousin Vinnie,” though Marisa Tomei’s leopard-print camisole and teased hair did distract me from the subtleties of jurisprudence.

Not only that, this was some kind of honor! I mean, chosen to judge desserts. Could I put such an honor on my resume? Could I switch careers? You might scoff, but I’m thinner than Paula Deen, and I don’t look live I’ve been snacking on amphetamines, either. And have you heard Rachael Ray moan when she really enjoys eating something? That noise is positively indecent, somewhere between the grunt of Monica Seles hitting a backhand, and a water buffalo in rut.

Today was the day of the contest. I arrived at the anointed hour, and surveyed the table of desserts. I’d even brought a pad of paper and a pen to rank to record quantitative dessertliness. Because I am a serious dessert judge.

But before I could cogitate, ruminate and deliberate, the executive assistant appeared. She pointed to a flat dish cut into rectangles and topped with shredded stuff. “We’ve declared this one the winner.” She put a small piece on a plate, cut it in half, and added, “I want to make sure you agree.”

I ate a mouthful. “That’s a darned fine cake, but–”

She cut me off. “Good. It’s the winner.”

I stood there, dumbfounded. But what about the Kahlua cake, the one-drop cookies, the  fruit-tarty thing, or the lemon pie with a great deal of meringuey stuff? What about the context? The science quality judging matrix and the secret balloting? What about due process for those other desserts?!?

Didn’t matter. The executive assistant was the amica curiae, and had signed the writ. That cake was the winner.

But she wasn’t done. Then grabbed the other half of the piece of cake off my plate and popped it in her mouth, leaving me with a quarter of a piece. (That’s a photo of it at the top.)

Outrage! Mistrial! This is a mockery of the rule of law! Etc.

By the time I finished lunch, most of the other desserts were gone, and I was pretty full. I tried some of the Kahlua cake, but I’m tough like a Bulgarian figure skating judge, and found its texture wasn’t as good as the an oatmeal-coconut-cake-something-something the hyper-efficient executive assistant had proactively declared the winner.

Onward the wheels of justice turn, I guess. Also, if you need a judge for your BBQ or dessert contest, drop me a line.

Because now I have experience.

Friday is Tiara Day

A writer named Susan Adrian held a contest on her blog last week. She declared Friday the 13th as Tiara Day. Put a tiara on your Twitter avatar, spread the word, get a chance to win books. Since I just won a book a few days ago I didn’t need another, but I couldn’t resist the chance to muck about on Photoshop:

I got your tiara, rainbow and unicorn right here, bitches.

Magic Number of the Day: Six

6.pngToday I saw two (count ’em) two contests, both of which asked people to write something in six words or less.

In the TreeHugger + Smith Six-Word Memoir Contest, Treehugger (blog) and Smith (magazine) “challenge you to define your green life in just six words.”

In my unhumble opinion, this is stating it all wrong. I don’t want to hear about someone’s green life; if they’re living green, or even trying to, more power to ’em. I’d rather direct my righteous impatience at all the ungreens:

  • Stop driving your f—ing SUV.
  • Don’t idle when dropping off kids.
  • It ain’t Christmas. Turn lights off.

And today I read in the Freakonomics blog, they’re running a contest to “write a six-word motto for the U.S. of A.”

I’m too tired to bother coming up with those. Besides, there were 1,025 responses to the post last time I looked.

All this hexalogomania (like that? it’s sorta Greek) stems from a rather clever book by the founder of Smith magazine, Larry Smith, called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Freakonomics gives him props, despite his egotistically eponymous magazine name, and Treehugger’s cosponsoring.

(And while we’re digressing about names, it’s not actually “Smith” magazine. It’s “SMITH” magazine. All caps. The hubris! Don’t know if it’s a good magazine or not. But if it commits crimes against Standard Written English like that, here’s a hint: I’M NOT SUBSCRIBING.)

Nonethelessandsuch, I like the idea of boiling a message down to a tight word count. I used to do that as an editor, and found it excellent practice. The old adage “If I had more time, I would have written less” doesn’t exist for nothin’, y’know.

The Webby Awards made a name for themselves by limiting award acceptance speeches to five words, and in this age of information overload (my Google Reader has 1,000+ items), why not make it pithy?

Besides, I recently entered a writing contest where I entered 100,632 words, and we all know how well that went.

PS – The headline has six words (6)

Aren’t I special? No, I’m not. (6)

At least I’m not named SMITH. (6)

The Amazon Contest Changes Its Look


I’ve been obsessively checking my page on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, to see if any reviews have come in. Last night I noticed that Amazon has changed the way it’s presenting the contestants.

Prior to last night, the works in general literature were on 11 pages, and hard-coded as a table. Now they come out in rankings that can be sorted by bestselling, price, avg. customer review, and publication date.

Which is good and bad. Bad, because every time I gave someone a navigation path based on their former layout, it’s no longer valid.

But good in a way, because I had the somewhat heartening news that my book was ranked 55th out of 425 entries by customers. Strangely, I’m right next to a book called “Between.” What are the odds of that?