Thursday, February 23, 2006

Bless Its Bald Little Head

Earlier this week, Donna and I learned that VIDEO WATCHDOG had won the "Best Magazine" Rondo Award for the fourth year running. I had more than half talked myself out of imagining that a fourth win was possible. I had made public statements about how it was time for some other magazine to win, to "spread the wealth" and so forth, but as the voting deadline approached, I realized that I wanted this win very much. Especially now. This latest Rondo comes as a reassuring show of support at this particular time, when we're publishing at half our usual frequency and pulling in half our usual income. As it is, our win was a close call, with Jim Clatterbaugh's MONSTERS FROM THE VAULT only 16 votes shy of taking Rondo home. I believe Jim published only a single issue of MFTV last year, so that's a huge show of enthusiasm for his work, well-deserved of course, and I hope he's appreciative. In the meantime, we're looking forward to adding a fourth Rondo to our living room mantel... and our third, which we're told is being mailed to us soon. Come what may, Donna and I will always be proud of this winning streak.

It's one of those weird quirks of the voting process that the people's choice for Best Magazine somehow failed to win any of the magazine-related categories, like Best Article or Best Cover (sort of like when a movie wins Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor and Actress but not Best Director), but what are you gonna do? Nevertheless, I was happy to see that Bill Cooke placed second in the Best Article competition with his "Universal's Other Monsters" in VW #118. I'm disappointed that Charlie Largent, who produces as many or more wonderful monster-themed magazine covers per year as anybody, has yet to win a Rondo... but, hey, Vladimir Nabokov never won a Nobel Prize for Literature, either.

There's another category in which I've personally had a four-year streak, and that's coming in Second Place to Tom Weaver in the Best Writer category. Tom appreciates the irony of this, knowing full well that he's principally a researcher/interviewer; he asks questions and transcribes tapes. My feelings about losing four times in a row to Tom are softened by the fact that he is a first-rate writer and scholar, as his books UNIVERSAL HORRORS and POVERTY ROW HORRORS ably prove... and because Tom says that he voted for me, which I suppose makes me the Best Writer's Best Writer. Oh, well... there's always next year, as Susan Lucci says.

In another bit of voter turn-out weirdness, while Tom appropriately shared the Best Article Rondo with Bob Burns for an "as told to" piece appearing in STARLOG, my sole nominated article "Renfield: 10 Buzzing Performances" (probably one of my best pieces in VW's 15 year history, and one that I felt was sure to satisfy those folks who bellyache that there isn't enough classic horror in VW) failed to make the list of runners-up at all, nor did Video WatchBlog show in the Best Website category. To have earned my high ranking in the Best Writer competition, I can only surmise that people must think I am one heck of a letter writer.

All of these inconsistencies go to show one thing: it's a mistake to take awards -- any award -- too seriously. David Colton, who founded the Rondo Awards, did so as a means of celebrating all the good works that are done each year in the service of classic horror fandom. That's why the ballot sometimes shows as many as 26 nominees in a single category; it doesn't set a critical standard so much as leave it to public opinion. If you point out the sometimes indiscriminatory nature of the Rondo ballot to David, he's likely to say, "I just want it to be fun" -- and he has a good point, or at least the right attitude. With 26 nominees in a single category, it's almost a miracle that anybody wins with more than a handful of votes... This aspect does need some fine-tuning, I think. But occasionally something happens that reminds us of why the Rondos are such a good idea, after all.

This year, Stephen D. Youngkin won the Best Book Rondo for THE LOST ONE: A LIFE OF PETER LORRE -- and this, in a year when KING KONG was sweeping the Rondos and when many tie-in KONG books were released. This is the sort of result that makes me proud to have voted. Also, the wonderful MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES won in the Best Independent DVD category, and its producer Joe Busam won the coveted Monster Kid of the Year Award.

Joe happens to live in my hometown and we and our wives had a nice Rondo celebration dinner last night. (Sushi! Martinis! Saké! Fried shrimp heads! Shared reminiscences of Channel 12's 12 TALL TALES!) Joe, a professional animator, is the very essence of a Monster Kid, much like category winners Bob Burns and Larry Blamire before him. He brought into the world a product that serves as a common bond between all of us who grew up in the Monster Boom years, and our Significant Others, who may not understand the appeal of monsters but are nevertheless captivated right away by the sense of make-believe celebrated by MKHM. Without the Rondo Award, how could something this special and this specialized be acknowledged and celebrated?

It should also be noted that MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES is just the sort of project that might never have existed without the example of community evident at the Classic Horror Film Boards, an outgrowth of Kerry Gammill's cyberzine MONSTER KID. (Kerry and Tim Lindsey are responsible for designing, sculpting, and manufacturing the actual Rondo Award busts themselves.) So, whichever way you look at it, the Rondo Awards are not only rewarding works of excellence, they are now inspiring them.

Let me wrap this up by sending out my congratulations to all my fellow Rondo winners, my fellow runners-up, my fellow nominees -- and, most of all, to everyone who has contributed articles, reviews, or artwork to VIDEO WATCHDOG over the past year. You've all helped VW to become and remain the award-winning magazine that it is.

You can find all of the final Rondo voting results here.

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