Friday, August 1, 2014

"Well, That Was Interesting"

I’m in the “Home Stretch” of yesterday’s blog post entitled “Circus Freude”, typing manfully away, sensing lunch just over the horizon.  Leftover… something good.  I could hardly wait to dig in.

Suddenly and without warning – which could be the definition of “suddenly” – I reflexively peer up at my computer screen and, to my dismaying shock and amazement, I am greeted with this:

“If there were an award for “Hypersensitive Overreaction”, I’d be a “Certifiable Finalist.”  I apparently over-identify with failure.  I view success, ot with exultatio but wit relief.
I ave to stop writig ow.  Tree letters o m computer have stopped workig.

I mea it!”

Have you ever seen anything like that in your life?  I know I haven’t.   Moments before the “Finish Line” and my computer starts spouting gibberish! 

PHANTOM KRAMER:  “Gibberish, Jerry.  Gibberish!  (THEN, CONSIDERING)  Well that's an interesting word.”

What did this catastrophe remind me of? 

When I was sixty, I unexpectedly contracted mono.  The telling symptom that propelled me to the Emergency Room was my alarming inability to access certain words.  I kept saying “thing” instead of the word I was looking for, which refused stubbornly to come to mind.

“Get me the thing,” I would anxiously repeat, when I meant “Get me the thermometer”, the word “thermometer” having scarily disappeared from my vocabulary.

Yesterday, my computer seemed to have contracted a similar malady, except that instead of words, my Mac “desktop” was suddenly incapable of reproducing certain letters.

Three of them, to be exact.  It remembered the other twenty-three, plus the punctuation, numbers and parentheses.  But it was eerily silent concerning “h”, “n” and “y.”  (A problem since repaired, or I’d have been unable to write any words that include “h”, “n” and “y” today.  Apologies for giving away the ending.  But you’d have probably figured that out yourselves.)

There I was, nearing the end of my First Draft of “Circus Freude” when disaster inconveniently intervened.  It felt like Pompeii at the start of the eruption, a few roof tiles tumbling ominously to the pavement before, in this case it was feared, an entire alphabet came crashing to the ground! 

Three letters now; the others, inevitably, to come.

The next part is important, although perhaps only to me.  (But you can listen in, to see if you identify.)

To me, this disconcerting insurrection – wherein my fingers pressed down certain keys and, though called to action, the corresponding letters refused adamantly to appear – felt like a serious emergency – resisting writing this but failing – Is there any other kind?

It was not a serious emergency.  I was currently eleven blog posts ahead.  So it was not like there’d be nothing for you to read the following day.  And yet, comsidering my emotional agitation and accelerated heartbeat, it felt exactly like something earthshattering was at stake.

“Oh, my God!  It’s over!  I will never write a blog post again!” my panicked reaction seemed to imply.  Though the reality was nothing of the kind.

Were I to calmly assess the situation, I would shortly, if not instantly, apprehend that there was a malfunction in my keyboard which needed merely to get repaired or replaced, a feat I could easily accomplish later that day and be happily back in business the next.

But that was hardly the way I played it.  I flew instantly into “Def-Con Five.”

What was I going to do!?!?! 

I’d been impeded from completing my day’s work!  (A disaster!  I had always completed my day’s work!)  There would inevitably be further drafts of “Circus Freude” required.  How could I possibly complete them when three of my alphabet letters had gone irretrievably A-W-O-L?

Adrenalinitically distressed, I immediately flew into hastily considered action.  First, I kept retyping the departed letters, hoping they would magically return. 

They did not. 

I then tried rewriting my First Draft using replacement words that would assiduously exclude the missing letters.  That didn’t work either.  It turns out, in the general selection of vocabulary, you are ineluctably hogtied without “h”, “n” and “y.”  In that last sentence alone, I’d need replacements for “general” (no “n”), “selection” (again no “n”), “vocabulary” (no “y”), “ineluctably” (no “n” and no “y”) and “with (no “h”.)

PHANTOM KRAMER:  “It’s hard, Jerry!  (APOPLECTIC)  I’m at my wit’s end!”

Stymied in my efforts, I finally gave up, deciding instead to decamp to the Apple Store, seeking the restoration of my keyboardal status quo.  In the end, I bought a new one.  (A less than exciting resolution, but it immediately solved the problem.)  (Sometimes life is simply not that dramatic.)

But get this!

The guy who rang me up at the Apple Store confided that he had once been confronted with the very same problem, though to a somewhat lesser degree.  Writing a paper due the following morning, his computer refused to print the letter “e.”

Did he panic?  Apparently Nosiree Bob.  Instead, he brought up another document, from which he “Copied” and then “Pasted”-in the inaccessible “e’s”, thereby successfully completing his paper. 

I don’t know about you, but, to me, that guy is a genius!

Wrapping up with a “Life Startlingly Imitating Art” story, back in 1988 I wrote a Family Man episode in which sitcom writer “Shelly” complained to his wife that, while writing a Cheers episode, every time he pressed the letter “n” on his typewriter, he inexplicably got “g.”  The unavoidable consequence?


                    BAR REGULARS


That’s pretty much the same thing.  Only funnier.

Which marks the difference between comedy writers and mere chroniclers of events. 

We “tweak” reality for comedic effect.

Still, when fabricated fiction echoes an occurrence a quarter century in the future, it makes you wonder if time is indeed chronological,

Or rather something we actually know very little about. 


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I'd have thought of the copying and pasting. But in my house there are at all times spare keyboards and spare laptops that can be pressed immediately into service.

As for Defcon 5...I don't know why they did it this way, but Defcon 5 is the lowest state of readiness. Defcon 1 is imminent nuclear war. (See So you probably meant Defcon 1.

Both of these persnicks come to you courtesy of 20+ years of technology journalism. :)

Glad your computer's recovered. But 11 blog postings ahead! You'll never make it as a writer if you can't procrastinate better than that.

Falken said...

Defcon 5 might be to reboot. Defcon 1 is when you start writing the missing letters on your screen w/a Sharpie. Just having to buy a new keyboard has to be the 2nd easiest solution tho so I'm glad it didn't cost you a few hundred for a new Mac-chine.

The copy/paste solution is so simple I'm pretty sure I wouldn't think of it, either.

Suddenly I remember what I've been forgetting to ask. Did your tenure on Taxi coincide with Carol Kane's? If so, any Carol Kane stories you can share? She certainly gets a large share of 'unique' characters to portray.