I have long believed that when businesses fail, when shows flop, when plans go wrong, when products tank, and when people embarrass themselves, the most common cause is usually the fact that I wasn't first consulted. Had people simply had the good sense to discuss their plans with me, I could have dissuaded them from wasting their time, squandering their money, or ruining their reputations.
I could have told you that a musical version of the beloved film, Rocky, would not be a box office success. No one asked. I could have assured producers that the market for a singing monosyllabic pugilist would be lean. The musical-theatre-loving audience and the audience that can't get enough of competitive brawling don't tend to intersect much (unless someone says something disparaging about Stephen Sondheim, in which case there's no telling what may happen), so ticket sales were bound to be underwhelming. They were.
No one asked whether I thought the so-called "Brexit" would be a good idea. I don't know much about government, but when a change that would require such huge restructuring is given such a silly nickname, I'm inclined to believe the whole thing hasn't been fully thought through. Now, as they find themselves in a position equivalent to the morning after getting drunk and throwing your wedding ring in your spouse's face, at least some experts aren't so sure it was a good idea.
The owners of a very popular chain of New York sandwich shops called Lenny's recently spent actual US money to rename their chain Lenwich. Lenwich. Now that was stupid. The change meant paying for new signs, new print ads, new aprons and name tags, new cups, bags, and menus, redesigning their website, and who knows what else. And the Curmudgeon would gladly bet actual US money that not a single additional sandwich (or Lenwich . . . geez) was sold. I cannot imagine a potential customer saying, "I never wanted to go there when it was Lenny's, but now that it's Lenwich, I can't get enough!" I wasn't consulted.
I would have strongly discouraged Corey Feldman from launching a singing career. I would have talked the first man to wear his hair in a bun out of this foolhardy and soon-to-be-embarassing fashion atrocity. And I would have certainly advised Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner that navigating his/her way through such an enormous and extraordinarily personal life change in such a ridiculously public way wouldn't be the best way to go. I never heard from Bruce. Or Caitlyn.
When producers cast the movie version of Hairspray—a completely charming and life-affirming party of a musical—they made the baffling decision to cast the eternally awkward and charmless John Travolta (wearing way too much prosthetic make-up and padding) in the role of Edna, a role originated by the warm, witty, and wonderful Harvey Fierstein. As Edna's husband, Wilbur—a wacky, energetic oddball, diehard romantic, and joke shop proprietor—they chose . . . Christopher Walken. I don't know what to say about that. Had they asked, I could have helped them by pointing out the vast, gaping chasm between the characters and the actors being considered to inhabit them. (My choices, for the record, would have been Isaac Mizrahi and Eugene Levy.) There have been countless numbers of other casting errors I could have happily prevented. No one asked.
I knew that New Coke was a terrible idea, as were Segways, hoverboards, the Roomba, and the bizarre season of American Idol that inexplicably featured Ellen Degeneres (a brilliant comic and wonderful talk show host not remotely known for her singing expertise) as a judge. I could have told Jon Stewart it was a terrible time to retire, and also that, if he absolutely had to, the mediocre and foreign-born comedian Trevor Noah wouldn't have been the very best choice to replace him as host of an acerbic show about American politics.
And speaking of politics. Had voters had the good sense to consult me before voting . . . well, there's no need to elaborate. Let us just say it would be a different world indeed.
And what of the future, you ask? Well, the Curmudgeon sees a multitude of things that will inevitably and undoubtably result in deep, deep regret: robots . . . cloning . . . online banking . . . Siri . . . the vilification of spirituality . . . ignoring Al Gore . . . fluorescent lightbulbs . . . Rachel Dolezal (I don't believe we've seen the last of her) . . . Candy Crush . . . self-driving cars . . . And I could easily tell the misguided souls associated with these impending calamities that they're headed down the wrong paths. This I would gladly do free of charge, as a gift to society. The problem is . . . no one consults me.