Being known for good taste has some merit, I'm told by those who have it. And there's nothing wrong with having integrity, either.
But it's how often you're quoted in ads that makes or breaks your career and reputation as a critic.
Which is why I was feeling so blue the other day that I dropped by the Museum of Blurbs to see what could be done about my own miserable situation.
"I'm tired of this anonymity," I told the archivist on duty.
He did a fast computer check. "This is highly unusual," he remarked. "I've seennothing like it before. We have you nowhere in our files. That means you're totally blurbless."
"Being totally blurbless is a disgrace," I said. "Why am I never quoted in ads?"
"To be quoted, you have to write something nice," the archivist explained. "Or at least write something that can be interpreted as being positive."
"I don't know how to be positive," I said. "And nice is out of the question."
"Not a problem," the archivist replied. "We can do it for you. For a small fee, you can rent blurbs from us. Our blurb catalog is second to none. Believe me, we can take care of all your blurb needs."
I was immediately flushed with hope. "You can do that?"
"We do it all the time. Probably half the blurbs you read in newspaper ads or see on television come from us. Our most popular rental currently is, 'I laughed so hard that I sneezed all over myself.' "
"Gosh, I see that one quoted all the time."
The archivist said his personal favorite was, "I was so moved that my tears flooded my house, ruined my expensive wall-to-wall carpeting and nearly drowned my cat."
"Yours?" I asked.
He beamed. "Yup."
"And, 'I sobbed so profusely that my ear wax came out'?"
"I hate to boast," he answered.
"Plus, 'A triumph of the spleen'?"
He nodded with a trace of smugness.
"And don't tell me: 'A performance as big as a goiter'?"
He nodded again.
I was curious. "There's one I'm seeing lately that I'm just wild about. 'I was so scared that I dirtied myself and everyone around me.' "
"Could I rent that?"
He went to the computer. "Sorry, it's checked out. There's always a bit of a run on our hottest numbers right before a televised awards show."
"Oh, you mean the Academy Awards on ABC." I explained that I could really use some blurbs for my review of tonight's telecast, but even better some Oscar blurbs for this morning's column so that they would be in print in time for ABC to use them immediately after the show.
"Again, not a problem," the archivist said. "We have a blind blurbs section for use in reviews written before the fact. I think some of these will do nicely for you."
I returned to my office, and within the hour had been faxed a list of career-making blurbs for tonight's telecast, which I incorporated into this column, confident that ABC will be using them immediately:
* "I was awake throughout!"
* "The Oscarcast wasn't to be missed if you wanted to see it!"
* "It was there!"
* "To see it was to view it!"
* "It ran from start to finish!"
* "All the cameras were operational, and then some!"
* "I'm not mincing words. It was exactly what I expected!"
* "A real treat for those who liked it!"
* "It started promptly at 6, setting a standard for punctuality that will be hard to beat!"
* "As soon as it was on, baby, you knew it!"
* "When it was over, baby, you knew it!"
* "It aired from start to finish!"
* "Two thumbs!"
* "Gowns galore!"
* "It stood every bit as tall as it was!"
* "It was one for the book!"
* "Beyond a doubt, one of the season's programs!"
* "Every second of the evening was filled!"
* "I'll recall it as long as I remember it!"
* "Words fail me!"
* "The ending was a show-stopper!"
* "Definitely thumbworthy!"
* "When it was over, I applauded!"
* "If you like sex, this show did nothing to diminish your ardor!"
* "All the experts said Billy Crystal would host, and he didn't let them down!"
* "You fastened your seat belts, and they stayed fastened!"
* "I turned it on and watched!"
* "I saw it, I heard it, I still can't believe it!"
* "It makes my list of this year's programs!"
* "It was undeniably, unquestionably on the air!"
* "Millions saw it!"
* "Every award had a recipient!"
* "A triumph of scheduling!"
* "Beyond a doubt, the evening's best award show!"