The prestige associated with the Stump-Bertoni Prize for Excellence can only be matched by the paucity of its monetary value. Hence this appeal.

In a stunning upset that in retrospect appears inevitable, has been awarded The Stump-Bertoni Prize for Excellence for the second year in a row.

For those cave-dwellers who snoozed through’s first triumph in this gilded competition, permit me to bring you up to speed. Then as now, the battle for this cherished trophy (metaphorically speaking – the S-BP lacks sufficient funds for a memento commensurate with its prestige) was fierce, extending both of its eponymous founders to previously unknown limits.  

The final ballot was determined by leg wrestling over Stump’s furious protest; he cogently argued that this sort of bias against the vertically challenged has no place in a free society. Bertoni imperiously overruled Stump’s evermore strident complaints, citing a lack of legible documentation, tardy submissions and a tendency to perspire copiously when provoked. 

This year’s competition was no less fraught. Debates raged into the night, fueled by Beaujolais chez Bertoni and Bud Light at Baron von Stumpf’s.  (The added “f” is a recent affectation meant to boost social status among German-Americans.) Ultimately, squashed the vigorous PR campaign launched by its competition, which consisted of a watercress sandwich reportedly made by Martha Stewart, a chintz settee once sat upon by Cher, a menu from Elaine’s signed by Hannibal Lector, Elon Musk and a tin of Portuguese sardines. In the final analysis, the sardine tin’s attempt at a violent disruption of the proceedings left the ballot box unguarded long enough for to score its brilliant coup.

No other entity, real or imagined, has won a single S-BP, much less two.  This record may well stand for all time, for if the rumor mill can be trusted, Bertoni and Stump have hit a rocky patch in their relationship.  What were once terms of endearment, such as “my little lickspittle,” “funny frog-face,” “fetid homunculus” and “pustule-poo” no longer have an uplifting lilt to them. By all appearances, the rift is irreparable.

But let us not dwell on what we cannot change, but instead focus on your shortcomings. As a recipient of this Revelation, you are part of a vast community whose constituent members are incredibly cheap. Despite belonging to the most well-to-do slice of the demographic pie, many of you persist in not paying for services for which we do not charge. I hope you can sleep well at night, knowing that I can only dispense a five-year-old Armagnac as my regular nightcap. I can barely gag it down.

Rousing Conclusion Meant to Open Your Hearts and Wallets 

Why do I prattle on about the granting of a distinction of which most of my Dear Readers and Dear Listeners are presumably already well aware? Because I’m not finished yet, duh.

It’s not that I want your money, really, it’s just that I’ve grown rather dependent on small transfers of wealth from your accounts to mine. Even my membership software has been moved to donate, helpfully double- and triple-charging existing members to make up for any shortfall.  (This actually does happen, but not by design. I’m not that clever.)

I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “You’re a big disappointment.”  It is in this spirit that I am obliged to remind all of you who have never paid me and probably never will, that I teeter on the brink of insolvency.  If you are the proprietor of a Realskiers Test Center, I can send you an invoice so lovely it’s suitable for framing once a remittance is en route.

Because I am keenly self-aware and a high functioning empath, I can feel the suffering you’re enduring that only sending me money can alleviate. (In this way, the Pontiff of Powder conducts his affairs like any other highly structured and totally incorporated charitable institution.)   I feel it’s appropriate to point out that something like a third of the real estate on the home page is devoted to elaborate, heart-felt appeals beseeching my brethren to send me a small cut of your dubiously earned shekels on an annual basis.  In a couple of clicks, you can help save a life more purpose-driven than your own.   

How can you refuse? (I’ll give you a moment to recover command of your emotions.) Not only do I make myself available to answer subscribers’ queries year-round, I produce ungodly amounts of product reviews and commentaries that I can assure you are unique to  Nowhere else on earth will you find all these words in exactly this order, which is why it must be preserved.

Allow me to leave you with this compelling thought: where else can such a small divestiture unlock a similar torrent of highly qualified opinion from the world’s only two-time winner of the Stump-Bertoni Prize for Excellence? 


 Just because you’re not already an esteemed, dues-paying member of, don’t be too hard on yourself. (You almost certainly have more serious behavioral tics to attend to.). If you’re taking a new medication, it’s perfectly normal for you to forget to send me $24.95 for new members and only $19.95 for those who re-enlist.  I would expect your condition to stabilize shortly after I receive your membership dues. 

It’s not every day one receives recognition on this Rushmore-like scale, so humility obliges me to accept your accolades, plaudits, donations and encomiums with a snort of that beastly Armagnac.  If we all pitch in together, pool our resources, as it were, on a very small and tasteful scale, I’m sure we can do better.

This photo is completely unrelated to the subject matter at hand, but is redolent with charm and symbolic of mankind’s triumph over adversity. From the left, the ultra-talented Tina Vindum, Warren Witherell’s Athletic Skier; Kristi “Magic” Brown Lowell- the epitome of style; my child bride, Stephanie, whose B&W photos are world-renowned; and Susan Standteiner, one of my original Snow Country ski testers who still rips.