Thursday, October 05, 2006

The McDonald's Awards

From James

First, at the risk of piling on, congratulations to Jackie on her McCavity award. This is a huge achievement and a distinguished award. Now we have at least two award-winning authors in our naked lot. Some years ago, Paul’s Florida-based fiction earned the John D. MacDonald Award—not to be confused with the McDonald’s Award, which is given only to franchise authors who keep churning out novels even after they are dead. Yay, team!

But wait. Maybe I’m on to something with this McDonald’s thing. Lest the world think we writers take ourselves too seriously, I think Jackie and Paul would (perhaps) agree that every serious and prestigious award should be matched by at least one silly and not so prestigious award. So, here’s a proposal. Naked Authors should start the annual “McDonald’s Award in Fiction,” the prize going to the best new work published under the name of a dead franchise author. Any nominees? Harold Robbins' "Heat of Passion" comes to mind. Any suggestions on the prize?

In other news . . .

This week is homecoming at my alma mater, the University of Florida in Gainesville. I’m not going. My wife is a graduate of rival Florida State, and she couldn’t care less that the Gator football team is battling for a national championship. It means nothing to her that this homecoming opponent is not the usual serving of East New Mexico State School for Retired Nuns, which UF usually trounces 72-0. It is ninth-ranked LSU against fourth-ranked Florida, which should be a great game. Oh well. I have my memories. See, a million years ago (1980), I was the “General Chairman” of UF’s homecoming celebration, which is a big deal at UF. Gator Growl, a spectacular pep rally in Florida Field the night before the game, has always featured a big name entertainer, such as Bob Hope, Robin Williams, or Bill Cosby. My year, it was George Burns. (Years later, I discovered that my agent got his start in the entertainment industry doing publicity work for George Burns—coincidence?)

I haven’t gotten back to UF much over the years, but I’m starting to reconnect. Part of that is because the alumni affairs office seems to think that I’m rich and famous enough to pay for a new auditorium, or maybe even a football stadium. I assure them that I’m not, and they assure me that they won’t stop asking. If only they knew how much private middle school tuition was these days. (You’d die if I told you).

Some day I do hope to repay the university in some way. Part of the reason ties directly to my writing, in the person of Sid Homan, an English professor at the University of Florida. For two years I was one of six students in a university of over 30,000 students who was lucky enough to participate in Sid's honors program for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. We wrote at least two papers each week, and Sid would select one to read to the class. It was the first time I'd ever heard anyone read my work aloud. It's amazing how embarrassing a bad sentence can be when you actually have to hear someone else trip over it. To this day, I never publish a sentence I've written without reading it first—aloud.

Except for my naked author blogs. I don’t read them aloud. In fact, I don’t read them at all. I do this with my eyes closed. Damn, I’m good. Thanks, Sid.


  1. I never have attended such things. (shrug) I'm not really sure why, but I suppose it's because I never felt as if I fit in with the people I was with.

    Woot on the award!!!

  2. If we beat LSU it will be a freaking miracle. Then we can lose to Auburn and Georgia and go back to claiming that UF truly is trying to focus on academics, not football.

  3. I like the idea of the “McDonald’s Award in Fiction,” but perhaps we should also include the best new work published under the name of a LIVING franchise author, which should expand the list of possible nominees. What would the trophy look like, I wonder.

  4. Or, it could be the best new work by a Living Franchise Author who writes as if he/she is dead....

  5. What a capital idea, Bob! An award for the living dead. I see movie rights.

  6. Great idea, James.

    I hereby nominate L. Ron Hubbard, Ian Fleming, and Robert Ludlum for the first annual McDonald's Award. There will be a cash prize, and if no one claims it, we'll have a party with the proceeds.

    Now, James, you hep cat, take us back to Gainesville, circa 1980. You're running Gator Growl and you get George Burns as the star attraction!!!!

    Not George Carlin?

    But George Burns? Why? Was Georgie Jessel booked?

  7. Bob's idea is way cool . . . but presenting an award to a living author who writes like a deadman has its, shall we say, logistical problems. . . . and Paul, you sound just like the nay-sayers who said George Burns wouldn't live till October when we booked him in the previous June! He was great. Try to picture this old man on stage in Florida Field, in front of 70,000 people, singing "I wish I was 18 again" as half the student body is belting back flasks of bourbon. A scene I will never forget!

  8. James, the GREAT idea does seem to have "logistical" problems. Is it possible to give a posthumous award to a "living" person....... Ludlum's books are hawked at every drugstore, grocery store, convenience store, and bookstore, from Miami to Seattle and from San Diego to Bangor........ I think one could stomach the "shame" of the award if it came with all the cash Fleming or Ludlum make.

    One can't help but agree with Paul about L Ron Hubbard.........guess I'll never reach "a state of clear."

    I'm trying to picture slugging down bourbon,along with 70,000 other ,er 35,000 other, inebriated "students," while watching the man who seemed like he'd NEVER die, sing "I wish I was 18 again." Sounds like it was worth the price of admission.

  9. Lest you think I am I Gator Hater, let me state for the record that I'm a Criminole Hater and hope they lose tonight to N.C. State.

    And for the record, I once portrayed Steve Spurrier in a long-ago skit at a literary event in Gainesville, f/k/a Hogtown. I didn't have many lines, but I did get to rip off my sun visor, stomp on it, and wave my arms maniacally.

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