It was after dinner, about seven p.m. I had returned to my computer trying to decide, as I do every night, what I'd write about for tomorrow's ArtyFact (today's ArtyFact by the time you read this). As I normally do, I checked my e-mail to see if there might be some hot topic on the Paint-L list from which I could draw out a few paragraphs to keep my voracious readers subdued. I was skimming down through the address lines when I spotted a message from a company called Anthony & Associates. It looked for all the world like spam. I almost deleted it. Then I noticed the subject line, "SayIt Spring into Creativity Grand Prize Winner."

Needless to say, you won't be reading about any obscure Dutch still-life artists today. I couldn't write a decent bio piece now if my life depended on it. Anthony & Associates, by the way, seems to be one of those law firms that manage big giveaway contests. The message was in the form of a zipped file. I took a deep breath, scurried off to the bathroom, then started the download. The download time indicator said two minutes. I'm sure it was two hours. The file contained two legal affidavits (one for me and one for my wife) and a letter with the obligatory beginning "CONGRATULATIONS!"

Below that were the words: The Grand Prize in the SayIt "Spring into Creativity" Contest is a two (2) night stay for two at the winner's selection of any of the following (6) participating American Historic Inns (not to exceed US $1,000) and US $5,000 spending money: Monmouth Plantation - Natchez, MS; White Lace Inn - Sturgeon Bay, WS; Christopher Place - Newport, TN; Great Oak Manor - Chestertown, MD; Hope and Glory Inn - Irvington, VA; Agate Cove Inn - Mendocino, CA. If anyone knows of these inns, I'd appreciate any input in helping me choose. The prize does NOT include travel expenses so the California inn is probably out of the question. (I may be rich but I'm not stupid. I don't fly to California just to spend a weekend. I've got better ways to use the cash.) In addition to this contest, I also have a SayIt Father's Day Flash Animation card eligible for I think a $1,500 fourth place finish in SayIt's concurrently running "Cash and Coconuts" contest (Grand prize in that one is a trip to Hawaii and $1,000 cash). I've not received official word on this one though.

The winning card was the Flash Animation Mother's Day card I sent to everyone I even remotely knew Mother's Day weekend. It was one of the top five cards in popularity (number five, actually). From those, a panel of judges chose the winning card based upon creativity (30%), Originality (30%), and Design (40%). I'm not sure what the difference is between creativity and originality but I'm not in the mood to dispute the matter at the moment. If you'll excuse me now, I'm going to climb down off the ceiling, fill out some forms, look up a notary, and figure out how to break the news to my wife without straining any smile muscles.