Looking for something else, I found this. I don’t remember writing it, or posting it, but it reminds me of a strange, rarified experience that ended when that place just just seemed to evaporate one day.
On November 18, 2007, I posted the following silliness at Journalspace:
I am sure by now all of the People of Earth are aware that the Screen Writer’s Guild is on strike. The men and women who write scripts for your favorite television shows and movies are refusing to write anything unless they get a teeny, tiny share of the billions of dollars Hollywood producers are paid.
You may see this as a terrible thing. How many reruns can the human mind stand? But I see this as my big chance to finally become a Hollywood writer. I am hoping that producers are desperate enough to seriously consider my ideas. Here are some of them:
SURVIVOR CHINA/BIG BROTHER: Takes place in a Mainland Chinese supermarket. The contestants have to eat what they find there. The last contestant who doesn’t die of food poisoning, lead poisoning or from ingesting industrial solvents wins.
THE BIG STICK: Imagine two people in a room. One of them is hitting the other with a big stick. This idea is a sure winner. Violence sells. Americans love violence. And the best part is that it doesn’t require any writers. There is no script. Just a room, two people and a stick. Maybe a chair. Talk about your “high concept.”
THE JUDGE MANN SHOW: Retired Judge Mann makes a statement, and for the rest of the show a panel of legal experts and mental health professionals debate whether the statement has a sound legal foundation or whether it is a manifestation of a psychotic episode.
THE PERSONAL HYGENE HABITS OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS: Who doesn’t want to watch Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt’s brushing their teeth? I sure would.
THE PADRE CADRE: Just like the Mod Squad from the 1970’s, but with priests. A group of priests, rabbis and Imams secretly solve crimes, many of them supernatural in nature. The main characters might also have faith-inspired super powers, like walking on water, summoning forth locusts (to confound the bad guys) or moving mountains.
THE SENATOR AND MR. VIVA: A California State Senator is forced by humorous circumstances to share a Sacramento apartment with “Mr. Viva” – a professional male stripper. Even though the Senator and Mr. Viva lead very different lives, they are nevertheless united by their paranoid fear of Government surveillance.
MY THREE SONS OF SAM: In this sit-com, a single father is raising three sons, each of which is a serial killer taking instructions from the talking family dog, Sam. Hijinks ensue.
SHOOTIN’ UP!: Three heroin addicts keep pursuing hilariously complex hare-brained schemes to get enough money for their next fix. In the pilot episode, the addicts impersonate the lost relatives of a dying rich old lady, only to learn after her death that she gave all of her money to her cat. Each episode always ends back in the abandoned house where the show begins with the three addicts going into withdrawal as the audience laughs and applauds. Fade to black.
TALKING BEER BOTTLE ISLAND: Something for the kids. This show is just like Lidsville back in the 1970’s, except that the characters are talking beer bottles with personalities to match the kind of beer they are. For example, Lone Star is a Texan, Bud is king, and Sam Adams is an American revolutionary. Fun for the whole beer drinking family.
GASPAR THE FRIENDLY SKULL: In this kid’s show, Gaspar is a friendly, disembodied floating skull. Gaspar is sad because all of the children are frightened of him and run away every time he floats up and says “hi!” The show teaches tolerance for disembodied skulls and acceptance of Día de los Muertos festival activities.
Speaking of tolerance, there is a growing television market catering to homosexuals. They even have their own cable television station – Logo (which is Latin for “logo”). Even though I am not gay, I am confident I can write for this new, important television, underserved market. Here are some of my ideas:
OKLAHOMO!: Brokeback Mountain revealed to the straight world how much gay people are fascinated with cowboys. My idea is basically the exact same thing as the musical Okalahoma! except that the direction emphasizes the homo-erotic tension between Curly and Judd. As the audience watches the plot unfold, they slowly realize that Curly loves Judd and is pursuing the beautiful but clueless Laurey because Curly is in denial of his true sexual orientation. The song lyrics “brand new state…plen’y of room to swing a rope!/ plen’y of heart and plen’y of hope” will take on a totally new meaning.
HOMOCIDE: Just like the detective drama Homicide but everyone in the show is gay – and fabulous.
GAYLIENS: Closely based on the classic TV sitcom My Favorite Martian. Set in the 1960’s, Uncle Martin is flamboyantly gay guy from Mars. Martin’s “nephew” knows it, but this being the ‘60’s, none of the straight people in the show realize it – even though Inspector Brennan often suspects “something is up.”
I am going to send these ideas to every Hollywood producer out there, and maybe, just maybe, I will get my lucky break.
However, in the meantime, I will heed my wife’s advice to “keep my day job.”
She never supports my dreams.
Reading the foregoing – for the first time in nearly five years – was bitter-sweet. Seeing what I was capable of only a few years ago was sweet. Talking Beer Bottle Island? Could I be any funnier? But concluding I am no longer the person who wrote this piece, that I’ve changed in five years, that my creative powers, the glee that bubbles up, or used to, doesn’t quite do that anymore left a very bitter taste. I’m not the grinning imp I once was. Heck, now that I think of it, I haven’t perpetrated a complex practical joke for longer than I can remember. When did I so thoroughly and unequivocally grow up?
Then I thought about it and decided that if I could revise the original I would add one more idea, one more perfect television show:
SAY YES TO THE MESS:
My wife watches three television programs I detest – The first is Say Yes to the Dress, a program that follows a bride on her quest to purchase a wedding dress. I admit the sales staff’s invariably successful attempts to massage the ultimate sale to a level higher than the family’s “budget” is interesting. Anyone who has ever worked in retail sales would admire the skill used to squeeze more money out of bride’s family for what amounts to the purchase of something that will only be used once. But otherwise the program features people readily indulging in six of the seven deadly sins and watching it leaves me feeling unclean.
The second television program my wife enjoys – but that I hate – is House Hunters. In this program, wealthy people who want to purchase a home consider three gosh real estate prospects, eventually arbitrarily settling on one of the three.
The third television program my wife enjoys – but that I find horrific beyond my ability to articulate – is Hoarders. This television show is about people who accumulate so much “stuff” that their homes become unlivable – and often vermin infested. They are “hoarders” living in their own private circle of hell devoted to their endless worthless possessions and broken refrigerators and freezers filled with rotting produce and meat.
Although I hate all three programs, I love the idea of combining them into a show with the working title Say Yes to the Mess. Imagine a television program where hoarders go and visit the homes of other hoarders and consider swapping their disgusting homes for the disgusting homes of other hoarders.
I’d watch that show. Wouldn’t you?
Yep. I’ve still got it.