Saturday, October 10, 2009



In a stunning development, Millard Fillmore Senior High School announced today that it had chosen Shawn Rabinowitz, an incoming junior, as next year's valedictorian. The award was made, the valedictorian committee announced from Norway of all places, on the basis of "Mr. Rabinowitz's intention to ace every course and graduate number one in his class." In a prepared statement, young Shawn called the unprecedented award "[expletive]ing awesome."

At the same time, and amazingly enough, the Pulitzer Prize for literature went to Sarah Palin for her stated intention "to read a book someday." The former Alaska governor was described as "floored" by the award, announced in Stockholm by nude Swedes beating themselves with birch branches, and insisted that while she was very busy right now, someday she would make good on her vow. "You'll see," she said from her winter home in San Diego.

And in an astonishing coincidence, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar for best picture will be given this year to the Vince Vaughn vehicle "Guys Weekend to Burp," which is being story-boarded at the moment but looks very good indeed. Mr. Vaughn, speaking through his publicist, said he was "touched and moved" by the award and would do everything in his power to see that the picture lives up to expectation and opens big next March.

At the same news conferences, the Academy announced that the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award would go this year to Britney Spears for her intention to "spend whatever it takes to save the whales." The Academy recognized that Spears had not yet saved a single whale, but it felt strongly that it was the intention that counted most. Spears, who was leaving a club at the time, told People magazine that she would not want to live in "a world without whales." People put it on the cover.

The sudden spate of awards based on intentions or plans or aspirations was attributed to the decision by the Nobel Committee to award the peace prize to Barack Obama for his efforts in nuclear disarmament and his outreach to the Muslim world. (The committee said next year it will honor a Muslim who reaches out to the non-Muslim world.) Some cynics suggested that Obama's award was a bit premature since, among other things, a Middle East peace was as far away as ever and the world had yet to fully disarm. Nonetheless, the president seemed humbled by the news and the Norwegian committee packed for its trip to the United States, where it will appear on "Dancing With the Stars."

--Richard Cohen

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