A Nightmare on Wino Street

“If I were King of the Forest, Not queen, not duke, not prince.
My regal robes of the forest, would be satin, not cotton, not chintz.
I’d command each thing, be it fish or fowl.
With a woof and a woof and a royal growl – woof.
As I’d click my heel, all the trees would kneel.
And the mountains bow and the bulls kowtow.
And the sparrow would take wing – If I – If I – were King!
Each rabbit would show respect to me. The chipmunks genuflect to me.
Though my tail would lash, I would show compash
For every underling!
If I – If I – were King!
Just King!
Monarch of all I survey — Mo–na-a-a–a-arch Of all I survey!”
If I Were King of the Forest, music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Yip Harburg.

the cowardly lionThere is a literary legend that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in one sitting after a horrible nightmare that followed a night of drinking and ghost stories while on holiday. And in the movie in which the above song quote appears, Dorothy Gale of Kansas is knocked unconscious by debris from a tornado and then proceeds to experience a Technicolor dream that is part wonderful adventure and part terrifying nightmare. Last night I experienced a little of what both Mary and Dorothy did. Or was it really all just a dream? How could it have been? You were there, and you…and you!

Lest anyone become alarmed, I was not hit in the head by debris, and even if I had been, my skull is far too thick for much harm to come to me. My dream was also not caused by ghost stories; not even a zombie apocalypse film (Amy claims she gets pummeled as I fight them off in my sleep, and is trying to declare a moratorium on them). There may, however, have been a bit of drinking involved prior to Morpheus showing me the following amazing and horrific vision.

In my dream there was no group, or even a single person, who recognized and rewarded wine bloggers for all the many wonderful things they does. Can you imagine? Luckily for all of us that is not the case in the waking world! Nevertheless, it was thus in the world of my feverish chimera. As you might imagine, a man of my high moral character and integrity could not let this injustice stand and I set out to put things right.

As I bravely stepped into the void, girded by the righteous knowledge that I was making the world a better place the first indication that all was not going to be cookies and milk in my nocturnal mission occurred. A voice hissed softly in my ear, “Imagine how good for you and your blog it would be to start giving out these awards. You’ve always imagined yourself as above them all. You could become the gatekeeper for the entire community! Only someone as wonderful as yourself can be counted on to keep the barbarians on their proper side of the gate.”

Scary scarecrowHorrified, I turned in circles trying to determine whence the voice originated. To my dismay I saw not a soul save a raggedy old scarecrow, surrounded by dozens of drained wine bottles and hanging by the side of the road. It was then that I noticed that I was walking alone on a dusty road surrounded by menacing corn fields. I’ve read enough Stephen King to know this isn’t likely to end well, but I trudged on through the dust thinking of how best to rectify the lack of awards for deserving wine bloggers.

Trying to ignore the words of my unseen tormentor, I began to think of how to most fairly deliver these awards unto an anxiously waiting wine world. Obviously I would have to be as transparent as possible if I wanted these awards to credibly represent an entire community. Especially given the fact that the community had in no way indicated that they wanted me to represent them in the first place. But if I were truly open and honest about the process and kept it about the community and not about myself, how could they reject me?

Then I remembered the words that had been whispered into my ear. Perhaps I had wrongly attributed malicious intent to that voice. Perhaps it was truly the voice of reason? There really are barbarians at the gate, you know, and since my heart and motives are so utterly pure it might be possible to both protect and reward my fellow wine bloggers at the same time. A lesser man might not have been brave enough to step out onto that tightrope, but a lesser man probably was not born to be The Gatekeeper.

But how to involve the community that I wanted to save from itself? People don’t like being protected against their will, even if it is in their best interest. Then a brilliant idea came to me; I would allow the community to nominate sites to be considered for the awards, but not pay any attention to how many nominations a site got, one person is as good as the opinion of fifty. That provided the added benefit of allowing me to manipulate the process for the good of all. The gate must be protected, and I would need allies to pull this off.

That led me to thinking of how best to use those allies. The obvious choice was to have them assist me in the judging, but how to protect us all from charges of cronyism? While wholly committed to complete transparency in these awards to ensure that they actually mean something, I decided that only secrecy could give these awards the openness that they deserved. The gate is safe so far.

Now I needed to find a way to further protect my sensible, if seemingly contradictory policies. Our first line of defense would be to eliminate the most egregious barbarians out of hand. No one will miss that riffraff and my allies will do their best to marginalize them should they dare to question me. No one would dare, would they? I am brave and courageous and doggone it, people like me!

Once I, *ahem* we have provided a safe list of nominees, it would be time for the people to vote. But just to be safe, the voting of the judges would outweigh that of the people. After all, WTF do the people know? Most of them are barely better than the barbarians clamoring at the gates. These awards are far too important to let them actually have a voice. God forbid!

It was about this time that I noticed that despite becoming quite tired from walking down this old dusty road it appeared that I had made no progress on my journey at all. The scarecrow was still just over my shoulder. I couldn’t be certain, but it appeared to me that his appearance had changed. His stitched smile now looked like a leering maw, and his button eyes had taken on a shark-like lifelessness. Had his arms looked so skeletal before, and is he pointing at me now?

Shaking these images from my head, I returned to my planning.  How could I expand my circle of allies, thereby helping deflect the slings and arrows of the barbarians? Having come this far, despite the scarecrow’s proximity saying otherwise, I couldn’t let these little details slow me down.  Then, as if I had stumbled on it like a stone in my path, there it was. I would allow my handpicked nominees to also be judges. How *@&%ing smart am I? Maybe I deserve an award!

Just as I was about to figure out how I could manipulate things to allow me to give myself an award, perhaps by nominally giving over the process  to another group who agreed to play by my rules, Amy thankfully shook me awake.

As I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, she asked, “Want to hear something hysterical? I am going to be a judge for the 2011 Wine Blog Awards!”


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