I recently read a very interesting biographical note, appearing beneath an editorial cartoon. I think it may lead me to modify similar taglines I include with some of my own creations. Here’s what it said:
Rick McKee is the staff cartoonist at The Augusta Chronicle. In 2006, McKee was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Along with everybody else.
The best thing about the Time Magazine honor is that if you like it, you can use it too! (And, you don’t even have to append the final sentence.)
Creating standout biographical footnotes is quite a skill. Sadly, it’s widely underappreciated. I think that’s because most of the ones you see are utterly colorless. Here’s a typical example of the drab bios that we often see:
John Smith is a free-lance writer from New York City. He has also had an article published in the Bronx Borough Advertiser.
I’m a bit more into this subject than most, since as the editor of an online journal I produce these for each issue’s contributors. I’m pretty straight forward—highlighting whatever part of their past or education is pertinent to the particular piece. I do get a little more playful when writing my own bios though, occasionally mentioning obscure trivia. (Hopefully it still possesses some remote connection to the article or poem I’ve written.)
The whole subject got me thinking about titles in general, and biographical accolades in particular. I have received some honors that are trivial: “Thespian of the Year at North Kitsap High School in 1972.” But I have also received some accolades of significance: “Speechwriter for two United States Air Force Chiefs of Chaplains.”
However, when I think about my various “titles,” it’s not the ostentatious ones I’m most proud of . . . it’s the intimate honorifics.
I can live without Lieutenant Colonel, Chaplain, and even Reverend. But I’d prefer to hold on to husband, dad, son, and pastor. (The difference in significance between “pastor” and other clerical titles will be the subject of a future essay.) Oh, and there’s another title I cherish: “Friend.”
I echo the familiar sentiment of C.S. Lewis when he wrote in a 1935 letter to Arthur Greeves, “Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, ‘sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends.’ I know I am very fortunate in that respect.”
Returning to 2006, when you were honored as Time’s person of the year, I thought you might enjoy seeing the cover of the issue which proclaimed the fact.
After reading the “small print,” I suppose if you don’t have a computer, and haven’t joined the “Information Age,” you may not be included in the award. But then, if you weren’t “connected,” you wouldn’t be reading these words now . . . so, please feel free to begin adding that great accolade to your résumé!
Robert Stroud is a journeyman blogger who lives in a remote forest and was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006. He is presently awaiting the blanket award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to the myriads of dedicated bloggers who have transformed the Information Age.