by Trey Nosrac
I have always believed that writing advertisements is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes… Philip Dusenberry
“Trey, why did you do something so stupid?”
If I had a dollar for every time that question has fallen on my ears I would not be driving three Lithuanian tourists to the airport in my Prius.
My answer for the poetry contest is the same as it was in the 10th grade for the great poultry caper. Assistant principal Dowler barked the question at me after Alan “Weasel” Wilson squealed that I was the culprit who placed a live chicken above the plastic drop ceiling in Mr. Marshall’s science class: “It seemed like fun and I wanted to see what would happen.”
The Creatine poetry contest is fun and we will see what happens. Reading the entries has been interesting and occasionally hilarious. Some may scowl at such tomfoolery, but my motto is that a dash of lunacy never hurts. Well, thinking back, the chicken escapade did result in a somewhat draconian paddling.
In horse racing, which appears often as a rather grim business, humor, diversion, sarcasm and farce can be useful. They can help within our little outpost and they can help us reach the big wide world.
Harness racing publications, websites and handicapping sites are not exactly the National Lampoon or Mad Magazine. But if you notice, silliness plays well in other venues: The New York Times crossword puzzle is mandatory for many readers. Dancing monkeys and talking horses are used to sell products every day. Borowitz satire pieces spice up political discussion. Clever cartoons are a huge draw for the stately New Yorker and the first pages that many newspaper readers visit are the comics.
Each day, we spend more time with Flo from Progressive and the Geicko lizard than some relatives. Super Bowl ads are basically a comedy review. Most advertising is as silly as silly gets — for a reason. Businesses know that consumers tend to like brands that use humor. Making someone smile is always tricky. You just have to have a thick skin to write it or publish it. You just have to let humor fly and not over-analyze. As Mark Twain said, “Trying to figure out why some things are funny is like dissecting a frog. You’ll come up with the answers, but the frog always dies.”
Dead frogs or not, in advertising, humor that grabs attention and improves the image of the product. If you ask the average non-horse racing fan about our wonderful sport, they do not visualize laughing and fun people – which is a shame because we have a lot to offer.
This poetry contest in HRU is a bit more than just nonsense, it was meant to be a little funny business and a bit of a real challenge.
This whole thing started with a conversation. My harness pal, Eddie “Shady” Laski, opined, “I’m telling you man, after the first wave of buyers who love your sire, it must be damn near impossible for a breeder to sell other breedings. There are way too many stallions out there, way too much competition, and way too few customers. If you don’t have an ace, that game is impossible.”
Some of us hate it when somebody says that something is impossible. That word triggers a reflex action that makes us sit up and say, “Oh yes, I can.”
My adventure began at Los Gringos Loco Mexican Bar and Grill on a snowy Taco Tuesday. Equipped with a pitcher full of frozen lime margaritas, a salt rimmed glass, and my iPad, I waited for my muse. Instead of a muse, Shady Eddie showed up to dive into my pitcher and offer some consultation. After a little guesstimating before the third pour, my first ever equine marketing plan was conceived.
My basic starting positions were:
A. People enjoy fun activities.
B. People enjoy good deals.
C. And if you do not get the attention of your audience, you may as well be speaking in Swahili to an empty swamp.
My vehicle for creating Creatine attention was to fashion a contest tinged with humor. People enjoy entering contests, especially when they have nothing to lose. Those who summon up the courage to try are curious to see other ideas. The entire process is social and has the potential to spread. Also, the mere thought of a grizzled horseman writing poetry makes some of us smile.
Contests have long been a workhorse in the attention game. Years ago, people solved a riddle and sent away for a Captain Marvel decoder ring. Today, contests and trivia are used as clickbait. Poetry contests are especially popular. Not only do you create a contact list, but if the sponsor charges a $10 entry fee, gets 1,000 entries, and pays a $1,000 first prize, those calculations indicate that running poetry contests might be a better gig than driving for LYFT, writing or trying to sell a stallion breeding.
Ours is a real contest, with real judges and a real prize. A somewhat astonishing 52 poems were dropped into the entry box! They covered the ground from quirky to serious to funny to clever. Apparently, the harness horse racing ranks do have plenty of potential poets. We also have many folks who would love to send their mare to the Creatine court.
The names were removed and the poems were hermetically sealed and given to a panel of poets from the Medina Country Writers Club. At this very moment, the semi-professional poets are selecting their top three to send to Adam at Diamond Creek.
Exactly what will happen with the poetry silliness is yet to be seen. What success will the newest semen salesman have with this madness? Will some of these poems make you laugh, wince, smile or sigh? Will Trey entice some customers to take a good hard look at this fine stud and fill the pages in Creatine’s book?
Stay tuned. On Feb. 5, the winner, our inaugural Harness Horse Racing Poet Laureate, will be announced. At that time, more serious horseplay will be unveiled.