By Johnny Heller

There are lots and lots of awards out there that the serious award hunter can aim for. In time and with dedication, one could easily have a house full of awards that could be used to brag to friends or to hold open doors or to keep papers from flying off one’s desk due to breezes (likely caused by people quickly leaving your award filled home).
Today many school children are given awards for having successfully shown up to the school where they are supposed to be anyway. If you play on a primary school team, you generally get an award even you suck. (And if you are picked last or spend your time in right field, looking at airplanes flying overhead and sucking on blades of grass while contemplating your belly button, you probably do suck.) Frequently school teams don’t even keep score so no youngsters ever learn to deal with bad things like “losing” or “winning”….or “life”.
There is a politically correct movement afoot that insists that everyone deserves to be treated equally regardless of the fact that none of us are exactly equal. That isn’t even what we mean by equality. Being equal under the law and being treated equally fairly by the government regardless of one’s race, creed or color doesn’t mean we are, in fact, actually equal. We aren’t. I, for example, cannot throw a football like Tom Brady regardless of how much air is in the thing. I cannot run as fast as Usain Bolt or play tennis as well as either Williams sister. We are not equal. And if I ran against Bolt or played tennis against Serena, I would not deserve an award even if I showed up on time.
Of course if you only give awards to people deserving awards, you risk making the people who don’t deserve an award feel badly about themselves. Gosh. How sad. And letting one group of kids who soundly defeat another group of kids know that they kicked ass is also a bad thing? In sports, as in life, there are winners and losers and everybody needs to know about both feelings because life -real life – not micromanaged youth — is about both things and everything in between.
But I digress. Back to our subject.
There are all kinds of awards. There are trophies and medals and certificates and cups and rings. And if you actually work hard on a thing and do a wonderful job and get an award from an organization or group with a keen understanding of the work you did and a reasonable ability to compare your work to another’s in the same field, that’s great. Good for you! Understand, however, that getting an award does not necessarily mean you were really the best or that others feel the same about your award as you do.
For example: acting awards, writing awards, directing awards and any award that deals with creative arts and creative artists are controversial by nature. How can I or anyone say that Monet is “better” than Gaugin? How can I say that Simon Vance narrating a mystery is “better” than Scott Brick narrating a history? Clearly, if both are up for whatever year’s Best Damn Male Dude Reading Out Loud Award, one of them has to win. But does giving the award to the winner mean that he was better than the loser? Is it even possible to compare the two different genres at all? Last year, was Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne “better” than Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper or Benedict Cumberbatch? I don’t know. They were all marvelous. And what about the films and actors that were equally marvelous and didn’t get an Oscar nod at all? What about Kevin James in Paul Blart- Mall Cop 2 or Ryan Reynolds in any piece of crap he’s done? Shouldn’t they be at least mentioned for an award?
The short answer is NO. They both pretty much suck all the time. It’s a given. But I promise you that there will be people who disagree with me. People actually went to the ticket window and paid real money for Mall Cop 2. They did it. Why? – part of a 12-step program involving inhuman punishment? Who knows? – the point is, and this is the take away here, so get your highlighter — everything is subjective in the world of awards.
I’ve been nominated for a bunch of Audie Awards and I’ve won some too. And, of course, I’ve lost as well. Does that make me a loser? Well, on the nights I didn’t win – yes. Yes of course it does. But only in terms of actually winning the award that night. What if I hadn’t been nominated at all? Would that make me a loser? Nope. Because I wasn’t in the contest. But I don’t think there can ever be an actual winner in awards for creative arts because creative arts are, by nature, completely subjective. If I don’t win an Audie, does it mean that I didn’t do a good job on the book? NO! If I am not nominated for a particular book, does it mean that I didn’t do a good job with the narration? NO. Last year David Wilson of Crossroads Press hired me to record The Education of Little Tree…one of the best things I’ve done — certainly work I am proud of. We entered it into the Audies competition and it didn’t make it. It wasn’t nominated. Does that make it a bad audio? A bad performance? Of course not.
I am saying all of this because there is a lot of talk on the Facebook these days about Awards, and whether one group is worth being part of, or not. And the answer is – if you want to win an award, you need to enter the awards contest and you have to pick the category and adhere to the rules regardless of your feelings about the rules or the categories. If you feel that an award from one group has no value to you or to the world you work in, don’t bother with it. If you feel that there is some value and you would really like a big trophy, then go for it. But remember if 6 people are up for 1 award, 5 people will be losers. (I learned that in 2nd grad math and I never got an award for it.) Also remember that if only 1 person submits in a given category, that person is pretty much a shoe-in for the award but not for the bragging rights. Right now I would win the award for the shortest guy in the room, on the couch, writing a blog. (I am alone so I have an almost insurmountable edge.)
And let me make one last point …or twelve.
Winning an Audie or getting an Earphone from Audiofile Magazine or a Publishers Weekly or Booklist Award for your work on a title is a wonderful heady thing and you should feel proud and swell but you need to keep perspective. There are only so many reviewers of quality out there and they don’t have time to review every book written or narrated. They can’t. Some titles get picked for review and some don’t. While it is true that Audie winners and nominees are almost always very good actors who are equally deserving of an award, it is also true that some other very deserving actors simply don’t get nominated AND it is also true that some actors aren’t very good and have no business thinking about awards and nominations at all.
If you win an Award – a SOVA, an Audie, an Earphone, an Odyssey – will you get more work? Will it directly lead to more offers? In a word – no. It may not even lead to more awards. Don’t forget – Hallie Berry won the Oscar for Monsters Ball and three years later the Razzie (for worst actor) for Catwoman. Winning an award is a great thing and a forever thing that you will always remember fondly, but it does not guarantee you work. The only thing that guarantees an actor continued work is continually providing good acting and being professional.
And that requires another blog.
Now let me leave you with news of an award that you never ever want to win and can never win twice no matter what – highlights from the Darwin Awards (The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who
accidentally remove themselves from it…)
2004 -An Italian named Fabio had quit his job as an ostrich farmer to drive trucks, and in his spare time built his own spy gadgets.
In a pub with friends, he produced his latest invention: a single-shot pistol cleverly concealed as a pen. To prove it worked, he pointed it at his head and clicked the button. It did.
2006 – A 33-year-old man was found stabbed to death in his own house in Leicester, with no indication of a struggle and no suicidal tendencies.
But an inquest solved the mystery: ‘Darren’ had bought a new jacket which he believed was stab-proof, but he had wanted to test its abilities.
2009– In South Carolina, USA, a man spray-painted his face to disguise himself during a robbery – and then died from the fumes.
2013- The death of a man who fell down an elevator shaft at Tampa International Airport last year was ruled accidental – if one considers forcing open the elevator doors, jumping toward the cables, and wrapping your arms and legs around them to slow your descent ‘an accident’.”
Chad Wolfe, 31, arrived at the airport with his girlfriend only to be found dead at the bottom of the shaft the following morning. Security camera footage showed him drinking from what appeared to be a mini bottle of liquor. Another camera shows him trying to climb a small tree.
2014-Two men in Rotterdam, Netherlands, were killed in what seemed to be another contest of machismo.
One man lay down on the tracks, waiting for the train to pass overhead, while another simply kneeled down next to them with his head in the way of the train.
Eyewitnesses told the Dutch media that they had been daring each other about how long they could wait until a train reached them.
EAT SH*T! TOKYO… Ex Adult Film star and (current) chef, Ken Shimuzu wanted to create a new flavor of curry. He carefully studied all the flavors available and settled on crap. Unko (poop) curry is on his menu and is served to the guest in a toilet shaped bowl.
While no actual feces are used in the preparation, and while no one really wants the dish, and while a survey showed that most respondents would never even set foot in the restaurant, Shimuzu is still the proud creator of poop curry. It is probably worth noting that during his film career, Shimuzu specialized in eating actual poop. So, this curry is probably a step up for him.
YOU WANT THOSE DONE HOW? BRIDGEPORT NJ…A woman ordering wings in a New Jersey Pizza restaurant was offended when she received her order and her receipt which had the cooking instructions printed on it. It said she wanted her wings “Fried Hard like a Black C*ck”.
While management apologized the receipt writer seemed unconcerned. “Wings?” he asked. “I thought she said rings! Besides, that’s how I like my wings. You know fried. Hard. You know like a black guys’ uh…umm…I didn’t graduate high school you know…”
PARROT TAKES THE 5TH. RAJURA, INDIA…Indian police detained and questioned Hariyal the Parrot after the bird was accused of shouting obscenities at 85-year-old Janabi Sakharkar. Sakharkar is embroiled in a land dispute with the parrot’s owner who she claims taught the bird to swear at her.
Police inspector P.S. Dongre told reporters that Hariyal the parrot refused to speak even when confronted by Sakharkar. Later Hariyal told For the Hell of It staff, “Listen – I know my rights! What? I gotta talk to these piss-ant coppers? Kiss my parrot ass! I ain’t no stool pigeon! I’m a damn parrot! Bastards.”

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