“To refuse awards is a way of accepting them with more noise than normal.”–Mark Twain (also attributed to Peter Ustinov)
Thread update: Since last we visited the BLAHS (BLog Awards Handed out by Sackler) I have been”nominated” for three more blog awards myself. I used quotes around the term nominated because there are conditions behind accepting these particular awards. One must, depending on the award in question, “nominate” between five and ten other blogs for the award. (You’ve probably seen many a blog boasting one of these awards: Versatile Blogger Award, One Lovely Blog Award, etc.). See, the thing is, these amount to the blogging equivalent of a chain letter. If money were involved, it would be a Ponzi scheme; the math doesn’t work too well. If everybody nominated were to participate to the fullest extent possible, then within between ten and fifteen iterations there would be more awards handed out than there are people alive on this planet today. How else would I be cited for three of them in less than six months of blogging? (Yeah, my ego is big, but not that big.) Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate these other bloggers thinking of me, and will acknowledge them at the bottom of this post. But I don’t do chain letters, multi-level marketing or Ponzi schemes, so I chose to create more noise by not accepting them. (And at least my BLAHS are handed out one at a time, even if otherwise worthless).
Without further ado, the winner of BLAHS #2 is…
Ed Darrell of MILLARD FILLMORE’S BATHTUB.
What could be more appropriate? The first BLAHS went to The Blog of Funny Names. So why shouldn’t the next one be awarded to the funniest named blog I know, after the funniest named president that most of us have ever (or never) heard of? To be accurate, though, it’s not named after Millard Fillmore himself, but after one of the oddest hoaxes in American journalism history. It was promulgated by H.L.Mencken, who on December 28, 1917 published a story in The Evening Mail, stating that the date was the anniversary of the installation of the first bathtub in the White House by Fillmore in 1850. It was complete bunkum; yet to this day it has repeatedly been cited as fact–as this link recounts in detail. This account clearly proves that fact checking in journalism and history is not dead–it never really existed in the first place. Mencken intended the story as a joke, and was stunned that it was taken seriously despite several obvious fabrications. Fillmore’s hometown of Morovia, NY certainly has a sense of humor about the whole thing. They stage an annual Millard Fillmore Day which for years featured a bathtub race as one of the main events.
“Secondhand, commonplace, mediocre, undistinguished: these are the words that spring naturally to mind as one surveys Fillmore’s brief rise from obscurity and quick descent into oblivion,”–Paul Boller in “Presidential Anecdotes.”
Back to the award, though. Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, the blog, touts itself as “striving for accuracy in history, economics, geography, education, and a little science.” (Why only a little science, I have no idea). But who cares? Yes, the content is lively and interesting, but the name and premise it is based on is almost worthy of the award in and of itself. Congrats, Ed, and keep up the good work.
I promised to strive to find a completely useless prize for this award. I almost did it. I have fashioned a tee shirt and matching refrigerator magnet out of the logo which appears above. Not useless? Well, I figure nobody would actually want to show off this award, so the logo should do the trick. Yes, I know, the tee shirt could still be used as a dishrag. But short of a monogrammed piece of lint, this was the best I could think of; I’m also betting somebody out there will think of a use for the lint.
Three Blogs of Note
These are the blogs that nominated me for the awards mentioned in the preface at the top of this article. While I have chosen not to participate in these awards, I do appreciate their thinking of me–and I do read and recommend their respective blogs.
(Postscript: It occurs to me that H.L. Mencken was also the author of many great quotes, one or more of which is bound to turn up in one of these posts.)