austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes

At the risk of sounding like I'm complaining about fame -- at least, the very special, limited, restricted sort of fame going along with the finalist status in the humor contest -- I have got a curious little chore I'm not quite sure how to do. The society asked for information to be used in the event I'm one of the top four finalists, in particular, a short biographic sketch which they would prefer to be humorous and then a list of some local newspapers which would be interested in my placing -- if I should place -- on the grounds that I'm local to them and therefore interesting.

Even the second half of that is a challenge: I just don't read any local newspapers. Partly that's because no matter when I get up my parents have tossed today's paper in the recycle bin so it's easiest not to worry about it. Also, even if they hadn't done that, the only good comics page locally is The Star-Ledger, which my parents stopped getting because the delivery person couldn't be bothered to reliably deliver it. The Star-Ledger at least has pretensions to covering the entire state, so whether they'd find (say) my fourth-place finish in a small essay contest interesting is a mighty good question. Are there more local papers? I dunno, I never see them. Maybe the Straits Times would be interested for the perverseness of it. (Come to think of it, Today, the free daily tabloid, has printed stuff from my blog before; perhaps they would like to know.)

But the biographical sketch is no less challenging. I know I can fill about 450 words a day with anecdotes, but that mostly covers up that my actual life is really, really dull: I went to school, went to graduate school, got a degree in an obscure intersection of mathematical fields, taught in Singapore for four years, and I want an academic job. There's not much to make that interesting. And the request to be humorous if possible ... well, there's not a lot of ways to make a short biographical sketch funny, and most of those which exist were done really very well by figures like Robert Benchley himself. If they want it, there's nothing honorable to do but provide, I suppose, but it would be so much easier if I could just be dull about it rather than try to dress myself up.

Trivia: The last Portuguese fishing ship to work the Grand Banks without engine power was the Anna Maria, which sank in a storm in 1958. Source: Cod: A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World, Mark Kurlansky.

Currently Reading: The Final Circle of Paradise, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.


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