Monday, April 11, 2016

"Failure Theater"

This may be stupid, but…

“How many of your posts could you have started like that?

I don’t know, maybe all of them.  But this one ranks noteworthily “up there” in the precarious, “I don’t know about this” department.

In the olden days, during the summer when the regular TV series were not airing new episodes, networks would occasionally broadcast what was known to insiders as Failure Theater.

In the name of “We don’t throw anything away that we can clear a little profit off of”, Failure Theater – I forget what they really called it, but it probably wasn’t Failure Theater – was a compilation of that network’s produced pilots that were deemed not good enough to make it onto their upcoming Fall Schedule.  Me and the Chimp?  My Mother, The Car?  Those two made it onto the Fall Schedule.  So you can imagine the quality of the series that didn’t.

The following is my version of Failure Theater, meaning in this case post ideas failing to reach blogatorial fruition.  In that respect, since, these fragmentarial notions are more akin to renowned playwright Neil Simon’s habit of starting a play but if it did not “go the distance” sliding the truncated effort into the proverbial – or, who knows, even actual – desk drawer, the only difference being that if I wasn’t “feeling it”, I would pull the plug after the “notes scribbling” juncture, saving myself time, aggravation and printer paper.

I offer today, examples that seemed like good ideas at the time but, upon revisited consideration, weren’t. 

Beginning with the following.

On my “Thursday Walk” once, I noticed that the vast majority of the parked cars I passed were painted white, black, gray or silver.  This got me wondering whether these less than flamboyant color selections reflected an illuminating understanding of our current cultural state of affairs. 

The problem was I could not for the life of me imagine what that illuminating understanding of our current cultural states of affairs might be.  So I was unable to write the blog post.  (Still, whatever happened to cars painted bright yellow, turquoise, purple and chartreuse?)
You’ve heard people say about some supremely improbable occurrence, “You could never write that!”  By which they really mean – though they don’t know it – “You could never sell that!” because in actuality, you can “write” anything; you just need a writing implement and a receptive, smooth surface.

To exemplify the curious paradox that truth is sometimes demonstrably stranger than fiction, I imagined a meeting between a film studio executive and a screenwriter pitching a presidential campaign scenario pitting a female candidate for president –

STUDIO EXECUTIVE:  Soft and squishy, right?

WRITER:  Tough as nails.  And militarily “hawkish.”  

against a rabble-rousing populist.

STUDIO EXECUTIVE:  Pulled himself up by his bootstraps.

WRITER:  No, he’s a billionaire.

The trouble with that one was that, after that encouraging setup, I had nowhere to go.  I had described our current political situation, wherein truth is indeed stranger – and less commercially acceptable – than fiction.  The question then was,

Now what?  (The screenwriter conforms to the conventional template?  The executive capitulates to the screenwriter’s vision?  {Yeah, right.}   The executive tosses the screenwriter out of the window?)

I could not come up with a blog-acceptable “Now what?”  So,

No can do-um.
To promote physical wellbeing, I began including, among my other nutritional supplements, a daily capsule extracted from mushrooms called Cordyceps.  Was it recommended by my doctor or a licensed nutritionist?  No, it was recommended by my piano teacher.  That’s right.  To combat illness and effectively ward off the “inevitable”, I am taking serious medical direction from my piano teacher.

Ha-ha-ha – the things we do stay alive and healthy.  (Somebody said, “Californians consider death to be an option.”)


The stuff appears to be working.
“Optimists are happier people.”

Writes the pessimist blogger, offering an example of an “optimist” I ran into, a woman so transparently desperate to remain upbeat, as I reported to Dr. M, “She was giving optimism a bad name.”  

A selective example?  Of course.  But being a pessimist, what else would you expect?  Rendering the “finished product” unfinished, as it would inevitably be, albeit delightfully written, boring, predictable and “Blehhhh.”
“Owing to the inescapable determinism in our brain wiring, people wired for “addiction” deserve neither punishment nor blame for that addiction” – we already knew that, but here’s the conversing new wrinkle – “People not wired for addiction deserve no pats on the back for “their remarkable will-power.”

My ultimate reaction?  Judgmental, superior and “Zzzzzzzzzzz…”

And possibly scientifically incorrect.
Also something about how the performers of the past used to be more versatile.  Pointing me towards one "things used to be better" post too many.
Showcasing these failures may seem to you to be a valueless exercise.  (And unnecessary filler.)

Let me respectfully disagree. 

By chronicling these “close but no cigar’s”, I have provided a professional’s perspective on “The Writer’s Struggle.”  Exposing my “Reject File” to public scrutiny, I have also demonstrated that I actually – in case you were wondering – do have standards.  I have further endeavored to provide rationales for why the fishies I threw back were unable to make the grade.  

Oh yeah…

And I have substantially cleared off the top of my desk. 

Hey, I’m happy.

Proving that pessimists have their good days as well.

Wait!  Maybe I should write about that.


Sayeth the pessimist, closing the door with his signature “Final Word”.

1 comment:

Wendy M. Grossman said...


...the black/silver/white car thing is because people will very seriously tell you that the resale value of your car down the line will be enhanced if you buy those colors. They are actually the *worst* possible colors for cars. All three show the dirt horribly. Black gets much hotter in the summer. White and silver are invisible in snow (not that you have this problem). Silver is invisible in fog and on dark days. Black is invisible at night.

The *best* car colors for visibility in the maximum variety of weather conditions are chartreuse, brilliant orange, and school bus yellow. Which is why school buses and taxis are that shade of yellow.

So I guess what it illuminates is what the promise of a little money means to people in our society. (And, of course, the fact that these colors are made in disproportionate amounts, so if you want a car quickly, that's the color you're likely to get.)

Not that this helps you at all.

I would be curious to know what Cordyceps is doing for you that you class as "working". If you mean it's "working" in the sense of warding off doctors, I can accept that. :)