"Award-Winning Accountant"

2009
Feb
1

wendelloscar-200x257It’s awards season, so I’ve been using this here picture as my avatar at Twitter, which, appropriately enough, has gotten a rather twittery reaction.

I was asked “Is that a REAL OSCAR?” Yes it is, and that should be Oscar TMAMPAS, since The Academy (which I think is also TMAMPAS) is rather anal-retentive (and otherwise assholish) about protecting its meager intellectual property.

“Is that YOUR Oscar, and if not, whose is it?” Well, it was technically the property of the company that physically made the awards way back around 1980, as one of a few extra units they held onto each year to make available as replacements in case a properly awarded Oscar is stolen (and not recovered within a reasonable amount of time) or damaged (I’ve heard that difficult Hollywood divorces can result in big awards getting run over by bigger SUVs). And no, The Academy will not allow you to get a replacement if yours is confiscated as evidence because the real-life CSI found blood traces on it.

Anyway, I was an employee of that trophy-making company – actually of the parent company which would buy troubled small manufacturers of interesting stuff and either rebuild them into prosperity or shut them down – I did Payables Accounting for 3 manufacturers of very different things, including the trophies and potting soil. So I paid bills for purchases of valuable and non-valuable metals as well as truckloads of Peat, Bark, Perlite and Vermiculite. (I love the word Vermiculite, and the related term Vermiculture… I should have made myself a career in Vermiculture… but I digress) And at one Christmas party a Vice President In Charge of I Never Figured Out What got one Oscar TMAMPAS out of the very secure vault between the plating vat and a big bin full of Bark (yes, the diverse divisions shared factory space) and allowed the happy workers in the front offices to be photographed with it. The final picture, which was poorly lit and made me regret not getting a haircut the week before, is one of my more coveted possessions that is currently in a storage locker in Burbank (which is an even longer story than this one).

Also in that storage locker is a genuine, never-awarded Golden Globe award and the story behind that is (I hope) even more interesting. As I said, the parent company bought and sold small manufacturing businesses (I went to work weeks after they had sold off Flexible Flyer sleds) and the layout of the offices changed accordingly. An effort to squeeze in one more company resulted in the instillation of a wall that took away more than half of the front reception area. As a result, the largest decorative item in the reception area, a trophy case containing samples of many of the company’s custom awards (but NOT the Oscar TMAMPAS) had to go, and that same Vice President made an executive decision to distribute the trophies around the office as decorations in various employees’ cubicles. Did you know there was an Arthur Murray Award? Its design, based on A.M.’s logo of two abstract dancing figures in silverplate was rather beautiful, (since downgraded to an engraving on an acrylic arch) but that was not the one I wanted. Apparently, I was the only person in the office who recognized the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Golden Globe. I asked for ‘the one with the globe on top’, got it, and used it as a paperweight for several months until I found a better job elsewhere and when I packed up my desk, the paperweight went with me. I felt so naughty, but other trophy case outcasts had already been broken, discarded or taken by the cleaning crew before that and nobody really cared.

Since then, I have actually had the opportunity to write about the Golden Globes for MSNBC.com where I mentioned nothing of my own award (for obvious reasons – in fact, why am I fessing up to it now?)

By the way, the trophy division’s output was not just Oscars and other exclusive designs. If you got a bowling trophy with a little figure of three pins skewed at different angles sometime in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was probably molded at the same place the Oscar TMAMPAS was. Their catalog of figures for local trophy shops to throw together included a number of barnyard animals, including a sawed-off back half of a horse (when you’re giving somebody a trophy for being a horse’s ass) and the same pig that was on the “Silver Sow Award” which was the coveted possession of “WKRP’s” Les Nessman. At the time, I was still writing jokes for radio disc jockeys in my spare time (after my spectacularly unspectacular brief career on the radio), and one of them offered me a free pass to a radio convention being held in L.A. (a production company with 12 employees got 20 passes with its convention floor booth). I put 2 and 2 and 2 and a couple more out of right field together and came up with a small scale money-making idea. I got a dozen of the pig figures mounted onto marble stands and sold them at the convention as “Official Silver Sow Awards”. Several friends in the business said I should’ve had more made, but none of them were willing to buy one themselves, so I kept my initial order low… and sold 8 of the 12. At least two of the remaining Silver Sows are among my less coveted possessions in that storage locker today.

And to answer one more question, in my accounting position I had access to some but not all of the information as to what they are made of, and based on what I knew in 1980, if you sent one to Cash4Gold, you wouldn’t get all that much.

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