Entries for the Second Annual Numéro Cinq Aphorism Contest are officially closed. As usual with NC competitions, the adjudication now splits into two streams. While the ancient & sapient judges retire to their secret meeting place (the NC travel agent found a very cheap hotel with a beach view in Libya—cases of Talisker had to be shipped in), you, the people, yes, YOU! get to choose the People’s Choice winner.
This is always a joyful and entertaining aspect of the contest judging. You get to read the entries, comment and vote or vote with commentary or just comment on the generally high quality, the wit, the arrogance, and the intelligence of the entries.
The official entry list is here. PLEASE VOTE IN A COMMENT TO THIS POST (NOT ON THE ENTRY LIST).
Helpful hints on judging literary contests can be found here! This is the actual handbook used by the official NC judges.
Read the entries, kick yourselves for not having entered this esteemed and wildly popular competition (if you didn’t), and place your votes in the comment box beneath this post.
You have one week (April 1 to midnight April 7) to place your votes!
Don’t forget to actually read the entries before voting!
And please quote the entry and the name of the author you vote for.
RUNNING TABULATION OF VOTES
Gary Garvin’s “blue dog” 1 vote
John Webster’s: If you speak of heaven, you underestimate eternity. (or something like that.) 1 vote
Peter Chiykowski When someone says, “It’s a free country,” he is usually misunderstanding the difference between exercising civil liberty and being an asshole. 1 vote
Peter Chiykowski for: There’s no ‘condescending prick’ in ‘team’. 1 vote
Steven Axelrod’s “Money doesn’t buy happiness, but donations are appreciated”. 1 vote
Sarah Braud: You know you’re in trouble when you envy the girl in the “before” picture. 1 vote
Prophetic preachers aren’t. (John Webster) 1 vote
Richard Hartshorn “If the shoe fits, you still have growing to do” 4 votes
Axelrod’s “People say ‘Good Question’ when they don’t know the answer.” 1 vote
Jonah Glover’s apple eating aphorism 1 vote
Richard Hartshorn “If you can’t say something nice you’re probably watching Dancing with the stars” 1 vote
The fuzzy math of bad writing: rounding off any thought to the nearest cliche. (Steven Axelrod – putative King of the Aphorisms) 4 votes (a couple of votes strayed to the wrong post, but I think I found them)
Axelrod: Doing does it. 2 votes (2 votes placed on the entry list by mistake)
Axelrod: The essence of modern alienation: a man crossing to the shady side of the street on the first sunny day of spring, to see the screen of his smart phone. 2 votes (also misplaced on the entry list, I think)
Axelrod: When in doubt, watch the horizon and wait. 1 vote
Sarah Braud: Arrogance: often wrong, but never in doubt. 1 vote
(As of midnight April 7)
As Nancy Bauer points out: Nothing is ever easy. And I certainly don’t envy the judges their job this year. But it is good to have judging guidelines you can sink your teeth into (unless, of course, you’re a vegetarian). I’ve always wondered what withers were.
To be honest, I only got to page four of the guidelines before nodding off but I did see the note about saying something about each pair. In that regard, I’d say it’s a toss-up between Jake for “If she scans your face then she could care less” and Jonah Glover for “Trying to have a conversation with a pig is a boaring tusk”. After due consideration, Jonah’s outrageous pig puns may actually even be an aphorism while Jake’s is just more of a taunt, so I’d have to say Jonah gets the award for having the biggest pair.
Having eliminated Thomas Mann, Oscar Wilde, Ambrose Bierce and Dorothy Parker for being dead and ignoring the criteria of being shallow or having smoother barrows or sickle-hocked legs, because I didn’t get that far in the manual, I’ll get right down to picking my overall best in show.
And my Blue ribbon goes to…
Peter Chiykowski for: There’s no ‘condescending prick’ in ‘team’.
To me this one cuts to the heart of any athletic pep talk I ever had – when the heat of locker room emotion eclipses any rationale thought and the niceties of the original aphorism or platitude go completely by the boards as we try to get to the raw meat of the matter. (I know, the mixed metaphors are totally running wild here, but all I can do is misquote Yogi Berra: If people don’t want to read my review, nobody’s going to stop them.)
John, Thanks for voting so promptly.
Just to be clear: For the contest, the aphorism has to original, not a quotation. All the quotations from famous or infamous authors are by way of being excellent examples but not official entries. E.g. Thomas Mann did not officially enter the contest.
On the other hand, being dead does NOT automatically eliminate you from contention. It would be quite possible to have entered the contest before the March 31 deadline and then die the morning of April 1. Your entry would then receive full consideration and you would be eligible for first prize. Just saying…
re. your comment on the guidelines re “saying something about each pair” was perhaps a too literal reading of the handbook text. a) many things come in pairs, b) I think the handbook meant the term allegorically.
You’re very new on NC, so I wouldn’t expect you to be completely up to speed on these “higher concepts.”
I appreciate the clarification. In truth, I didn’t really think Thomas Mann had entered the contest. Because he’s, well, dead. Like really dead, dead.
But the clarification helps. Should I be on my death-bead next March I won’t hesitate to expend energy on a few pithy aphorisms. Who knows, I might just win and completely turn around an otherwise pretty gloomy situation.
See now, that’s the true NC spirit. 🙂
Actually, Mann did try to enter, but my SPAM filter kept flagging his aphorisms. I didn’t find this out til it was too late.
Interesting to see that Steve Axelrod is using his position at Salon.com to campaign for votes.
Of course, mounting a publicity campaign to influence judges, the press, and the public at large is a time-honoured literary tradition. Many NC voters will be swayed (most NC voters are in a continuous swaying state), but the NC judges are incorruptible and/or oblivious.
Now if Steve could just get the people he is sending here to vote in the right place. Just saying…
I love a time honored tradition ::cough:: and am voting for Steven Axelrod’s “Money doesn’t buy happiness, but donations are appreciated”.
I can’t be swayed NC!
Can contestants vote? If so, my vote is for Sarah Braud:
You know you’re in trouble when you envy the girl in the “before” picture.
Yes, of course, contestants can vote.
Hell, it’s a free-for-all. You can even vote for yourself. In the past, people have changed their votes, voted for more than one entry at the same time, and voted for 2nd, 3rd and 4th place even though there isn’t any such thing. This is democracy.
Throwing elections is a long standing American tradition. But actually, I was just trying to drive some traffic here. Come for the aphorisms, stay for the Edward Abbey essay, the Keith Maillard memoir, the Nancy Eimers poems …
Just ribbing you, Steve. I appreciate the link. And I appreciate your prolific aphorism-machine-brain which seems to speak in balanced contrasts.
I like two, among whom the first prize spoils should be equally divided (or each gets 1/2 of a vote, depending upon the wisdom of the judges):
Prophetic preachers aren’t. (John Webster)
The fuzzy math of bad writing: rounding off any thought to the nearest cliche. (Steven Axelrod – putative King of the Aphorisms)
I hear that there is money involved if you vote for an Axelrod Aphorism and since money seems to buy happiness after all and since I could use a little cheering up, my first choice is “The fuzzy math of bad writing: rounding off any thought to the nearest cliche.”
My other first choice is: “An aphorism is a blue dog tripping through the snow” by rgg. This one has so much going on it is hard to know where to start.
And my (possibly) final first choice is: “If the shoe fits, you still have growing to do” by Rich Hart
Additional first choice votes available for a modest contribution to my Talisker fund.
Wait a minute – there’s money involved for joining the Axelrod Bloc? How does one tap into this slush fund?
FYI … it’s all Monopoly money. But you can buy some excellent utilities and railroads with it. Plus, I hear there’s some pretty nice property available on Baltic Avenue, right around the corner from the Boardwalk!
I heard a rumor that the winner gets DG’s voice on their home answering machine.
I vote for this one:
When in doubt, watch the horizon and wait.
The fuzzy math of bad writing: rounding off any thought to the nearest cliche.
John Webster’s is just so Nietzschean, it gets my vote:
To speak of heaven is to underestimate eternity.
My vote goes to Peter Chiykowski
When someone says, “It’s a free country,” he is usually misunderstanding the difference between exercising civil liberty and being an asshole.
I also vote for Peter on “When someone says it’s a free country”–how could I not? And if it can count, I throw in my second vote for Sarah B and “the girl in the before picture.”
Ah-hem. The people are watching. Tally as of noon April 4 missed two first place votes – the blue dog & tight shoes. 🙂
Ooops. Thank you! I didn’t count the blue dog because I firmly believe that Gary is joshing. 🙂
He may well have been joshing, but I for one took it as a most serious entry. It is a “terse, pointed saying” … but as your comment illustrates, we are left pondering the author’s intent…”to provoke thought and argument” ….or to gain a cheap laugh?
But wait! Are we not thinking and arguing?
OK, we had this argument last year. I intend to keep submitting blue dog every year until it wins.
I vote for Peter’s also: When someone says, “It’s a free country,” he is usually misunderstanding the difference between exercising civil liberty and being an asshole.
(its just so true)
John Webster’s: If you speak of heaven, you underestimate eternity. (or something like that.)
I’d like to cast one vote per each Steven Axelrod aphorism because I want him to dedicate his aphorism collection to me. How does one pick just one? But if I must, I’ll choose the one that captures my fancy just now, for its visual appeal:
The essence of modern alienation: a man crossing to the shady side of the street on the first sunny day of spring, to see the screen of his smart phone.
It’s now up to the new folks from Salon to vote for the rest.
My vote is for Richard Hartshorn “If you can’t say something nice you’re probably watching Dancing with the stars”
If the shoe fits, you still have growing to do.
I like Hartshorn’s “If the shoe fits…” also — it puts a nice spin on the expected.
I vote for Jonah’s.
I have always been amazed by my father’s ability to eat the “last apple”.
My one talent in life.
I vote for Hartshorn’s “If the shoe fits…”
I’ll drop a vote for Axelrod’s “People say ‘Good Question’ when they don’t know the answer.” If everyone was aware of this statement, teachers far and wide would be in trouble.
Okay, two votes:
Steven’s “cliché” aphorism and Sarah’s about arrogance.