Move over, Oscar - introducing the Golden Shovel Award

Yes, the Oscars are over, and as usual, rewarding entertainment was not found in entertainment rewards. The English Patient pulled a Schindler's List, Frances McDormand pulled a Villanova, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. pulled everyone two minutes into commercial time. I strongly suspect one billion viewers tuned in just for the cleavage - the Nielsens must have dropped ten points when Nicole Kidman appeared in a high-cut evening gown. Ah, well. There's always Jenny McCarthy.

The Oscars did inspire me, though. Recognizing excellence with public awards edifies our community. It spurs us to strive and to achieve, to push the outer envelopes of our precious talents. Thus, for the sake of community and mankind everywhere, this column hereby announces the first annual Golden Shovel Award.

The Golden Shovel is not an ordinary honor, nor does it praise an ordinary skill. You see, talent comes in many forms, and I've decided to join the recent drive for "diversity" by appreciating one special form. This isn't dance, or music, or even acting. No, ladies and gentlemen, the Golden Shovel Award celebrates a different art - the art of bullshitting.

Applicants for the Golden Shovel must demonstrate unparalleled cluelessness compounded by excessive ambiguity. Submissions will be judged on a lack of the four C's: candor, clarity, character, and conciseness. Bonus points will be awarded for use of the following words: diversity, dialogue, issues, information superhighway, move forward, facilitate, and utilize. Double bonus points go to the phrase "for our children," and any entry that produces the glazed look of Ginger from Gilligan's Island is an automatic semi-finalist.

In another novel move, affirmative action will be used in final decisions. Instead of punishing applicants for being white and male, however, this column will penalize government officials and anyone affiliated with the Administration building. Hindering these masters of bullshit allows students and less experienced applicants an equal opportunity.

That said, let's look at some candidates.

The first applicant is obvious. I love him, you love him, we all love him - President Bill Clinton. This slippery savant can wiggle into any political stance on the wings of emptiness. Even with the government handicap, his entries are extremely impressive. Who else can make $200,000 a year, raise taxes, and still claim to "feel your pain"? Take this submission on Bosnian policy: "No one can say it worked, so I decided we're going to do what we said we're going to do with the UN, or we're going to do something else." Did you hear that, folks? He'll do what he said, or he'll do something else! A true visionary.

But strong opposition stands in the way: Dan "the man" Quayle. He may have candor and character, but his lack of clarity is awesome. Just look at his entries. "I love California; I practically grew up in Phoenix." "It's time for the human race to enter the solar system." "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure." "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is." Automatic semi-finalist. 'Nuff said.

Competing with these two heavy-hitters are other well-known applicants. Take Bob Dole: "I don't know that smoking is addictive. Some would say milk is addictive." Yeah, that would explain the bruises on the milkman's arm.

Discussing the peace process, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "We can not solve all the problems right now, but we can create a different basis of dialogue." This is a strong entry with bonus points for "dialogue" and a complete lack of comprehension. This one's great, too: "A line of communication has been opened." He finds the telephone and it makes national news. Unbelievable.

Of course, to truly build community, hometown applications are strongly encouraged. Several entries have already been filed, and the competition is stiff.

Susan Wilson-Sanders, director of university animal care, spoke on animal rights: "It's so easy to hear a biased opinion." Right on. We need more unbiased opinions.

Another student offered this pearl: "Everyone should be a non-conformist."

Gilbert Davidson, displaying excellent promise for his new job as ASUA president, selected this entry: "I want to move forward (bonus!) as a student body and have everyone feel they were a part of it." I know I feel more like a student now. How 'bout you?

Even our President, Manuel T. Pacheco, submitted this entry on activities: "A lot will attend, but many will not."

The field is intense, but there's plenty of time and untapped talent. The Golden Shovel Award will be awarded before semester's end, and I wish all prospective applicants the greatest of luck. Cook those neurons. Butcher those thoughts. Go for the gold.

Mark Joseph Goldenson is a freshman majoring in psychology and molecular and cellular biology. His column, 'Gold Standard,' appears every Friday.

By Mark Joseph Goldenson (columnist)
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 28, 1997

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