If you came up to me five years ago and said, "The Jerx, Volume One is going to win the Tarbell Award," I would have said, "Are you having a stroke? None of those words make any sense to me."
"In the future you have a blog again," you'd say.
"And it's called The Jerx."
"No. The Jerx. With an X. (Don't ask how I know you just said it with a KS and not an X.) It's like a play on The Jinx."
"Oh, that's clever. That's much better than the name that was rattling around in my head for years that I thought I'd revive the site under."
"What was that?" you'd ask.
"Annemann's Oven," I'd say. "I heard he committed suicide by sticking his head in the oven. So I was going to call it Annemann's Oven. 'See what's cooking in Annemann's Oven.'"
"That's a little disrespectful."
"So, you have this site called The Jerx and you wrote a book called The Jerx, Volume One."
"Okay. What is it exactly? It's like my old blog? Like a book with a bunch of pictures of old magic manuscripts with dirty sounding names?"
"No," you'd say. "It's a book of routines and essays."
"Huh.... And it wins an award?"
"Yes. The Tarbell Award."
"It's the Magic Cafe's award for the best magic book of the year."
"I win an award on the Magic Cafe?"
"I'm not following. Did Steve Brooks die or something? I always was worried about his cholesterol. So he dies and the Cafe is taken over by someone in magic who's friendly to my work? Does Tyler Wilson buy the Magic Cafe or something?"
"No," you'd say. "Steve is fine. And I do mean fine." Letting me know you're not only gay, but you have wildly questionable taste in men. "He just allows the voting and doesn't interfere with the results."
"Really.... So what happens? I write a post and get everyone to go to the Cafe and flood the voting thread with votes for me? Completely invalidating the thing?"
"Well," you'd say, "I won't say that's something you don't consider at some point. But in the end you just decide to let it play out organically."
"And I win? That's great. I must be incredibly popular."
"No. Not at all."
"Aw, rats." I'd say. "Well, at the very least this suggests I might get a cover story in MAGIC Magazine."
"Yes, MAGIC Magazine. That immortal institution. How nice it will be to get a cover story there. That way, in 100 years when people are still reading MAGIC Magazine, perhaps they'll stumble over my old article in some back issue. Yes, that's all I hope for. A MAGIC Magazine cover story. Maybe a speaking spot at that year's Essential Magic Conference. Some support for a brand new idea I have involving weekly live online magic lectures. An appearance on whatever insanely popular Criss Angel show is on TV (so happy to know his star will never fade). A shopping spree at Hank Lee's. And perhaps a celebratory dinner with some of my magic idols: Tom Mullica, Irene Larsen, Paul Daniels, Aldo Colombini, and Montecore, the tiger who bit Roy's head off. That's all I ask."
"What's the problem?"
"Nothing. It's just... nothing."
"Well, this is great news. Obviously once I win I'll sell a ton more books and make a nice little return on my investment of time."
"Yeah, about that. You only printed a very limited amount and they're almost gone by the time this happens."
"Aw, fuck me."
So, The Jerx, Volume One won the 2016 award for Best Magic Book over on the Cafe. Please preface my name with Tarbell Award Winner in all future dealings with me.
I wanted to thank the people who voted, although awards—or for that matter, recognition of any kind—aren't really my scene, I'm just glad people enjoyed the book. If I'm proud of anything it's that the book probably sold less copies than any other book in that thread, and yet it got the most votes by a wide margin. A small group of ardent fans has always been more what I want than a broad group of casual fans.