The Flop Factory

I must have been ten or eleven when I got my first record player. Dad rolled his eyes and prophesied, “That thing will be nothing but a constant expense for you.” He was right. My music addiction would become a costly habit. With albums running close to four bucks and singles at a dollar, I was forced to make hard decisions at the record bin. Which two new songs would I play over and over till the vinyl gave out?

Like every other kid who ever picked up a guitar, I dreamed of being a music star. After all, how hard could it be? If people with names like Mick, Ringo, and Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. could make it, why not Russell? Unfortunately, that dream sputtered and crashed before it ever got off the runway. Now, I dream of mediocrity and revel in the pure, unadulterated bliss of being an underachiever—proving that dreams can indeed come true—providing you have the right dream.

If you’re new to Friday Flash Fiction, the fairy of sweet dreams who casts pixie-dust over all our prose is Olive Cattree Wisoff-Fields. If you’d like to participate in this exercise in madness, head over to her blog for step-by-step instructions. To view the FFF  Hollywood Squares Authors Block click here.

copyright - Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“Wow, I’ve never been in a recording studio before. Have you released a lot of top-ten songs like that place in Detroit?”

“Well, not exactly.”

“But you do have state-of-the-art audio components and a bevy of the worlds’ greatest studio musicians, right?

“Well, not exactly.”

“I bet your mixing engineering is a master at over-dubbing to achieve that rich, full sound like those guys in New York.”

“Well, not exactly.”

“What are the chances of my record breaking into the Billboard Top 40?”

“Not good. This is the Flop Factory. Hitsville USA is the studio next door.”


My apologies to Hertz car rentals – Well, not exactly.

Friday and Saturday I will be Ozark Creative Writers’ conference in Eureka Springs. This will slow down my response time on replying to comments and reading your posts, but I promise I’ll get to them as soon as possible.



39 Comments on “The Flop Factory

  1. Nice post, Sam Phillips of the Flop Factory.

    The name Ross Bagdasarian was familiar to me, Russell, so I clicked the link. Now, insert a downbeat. I HATE that Chipmunk Christmas song so much, I could practically run through a wall to change the station whenever it comes on. But, when I was five or six I loved Witch Doctor.


  2. Dear Russell, Two dollar a week allowance in the 4th & 5th grade equals one single hit, an afternoon matinee at the Ozark theater, popcorn, coke – then broke. Those were the days! Leslie Gore, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” You do throw a heck of a party yourself! LOVE YOUR STORY – brings back really good memories! Cute references and the Chipmunks were not my favorite either – but unfortunately, it has turned into a classic for Christmas. ALVIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good story! Nan 🙂


    • I took care of 5,500 chickens for my $2/wk. That gave me enough funds for one 45, a chocolate malt, and two packages of baseball cards. I’m not sure $20 would buy that much in today’s market.


  3. Russell, I so look forward to your stories each week, not just because the 100 words are wonderful, but your introductions are fabulous. Thanks for making my day.


    • I appreciate that, Alicia. Some people have accused me of trying to get a two-for-one deal on FFF days, but I only post once a week so I try to make the most of it. I’m flattered that you find my introductions entertaining. I work at it. 🙂


  4. As always, Russell comes up with a inventive and very enjoyable tale. I always look forward to them LOL and the introduction – what a hoot 🙂

    P/S You were paid for looking after the chickens???? When I was a kid my parents owned a poultry farm with 5,000 chickens–from day old chicks to old boilers (a bit like me). I worked before and after school and one year had 6 months off grade school to run the farm on my own when my Dad was in hospital and my mother had a slipped disk (not the musical sort). Pocket money didn’t exist in our house.


    • My dad milked 25 cows twice a day. The milk went to a Kraft cheese plant in Bentonville. The calves had to be bucket-fed a milk substitute, which was one of my other chores. My parents tried to teach us kids how to handle money (what little there was). I got $2 a week, plus a bonus when the chickens sold and every few years Dad would give me one of the calves. In hindsight, I was very well paid.


  5. Dear Alvin, (Simon and Theodore),

    I’d stay away from the Flop Factory. Funny but not promising musically. And now I’ve got that playing in my head. We had the 45 of the Christmas song…me I wanna a hula hoop. And one more thing, oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla bing bang. Thanks for all those memories.




    • Dear Olive,
      Connie got a new hula hoop a few years ago. She is quite good at it. As for Alvin and the Chipmunks, I’d rather hear fingernails scraping across a chalk board.
      Give my best to Brutus,
      Sam Phillips, Jr.


  6. Ha, the Flop Factory! So funny, Russell. I think many musicians have had the unfortunate experience of signing with them. They can work miracles in the studio nowadays, but this place still exists. How do you ever come up with Rochelle’s names? I hope you’re keeping track of them all!


    • When Cream recorded the song “White Room” in 1966 they had 4 channels to work with. Today, it’s virtually unlimited.
      It’s impossible to keep up with all of Olive’s aliases. That’s why it’s easier to just give her a new one each week.


  7. Yeah, I knew a lot of kids with a record collection that would break your heart. A lot of them had older sibs, so I guess they inherited a lot of stuff. Have fun at the conference!


    • I entered a few contests at the conference, won a few honorable mentions and first place in the humor category (I must have been the only entrant).


  8. Oh dear! It might behoove our poor hero to rebrand himself–and put a better foot forward next time he shows the talent around his digs.

    Fun story, Russell!

    All my best,
    Marie Gail


  9. There’s a great line for us: dreams can indeed come true, providing you dream of being an underachiever. Flop Factory sounds like just the place where you and I can reach out for the brass ring and totally miss it. (BTW, I like Alvin and the Chipmunks and Ross Bagdasarian and his alter ego David Seville. Annoying? No, classic!)


    • Yes, Perry there is hope for guys like you and me. It’s called Lowered Expectations. Somehow, I don’t think either of us have to worry about making the cover of Rolling Stone.


  10. 🙂 Love it. The repeat of ‘Well, not exactly,’ is so well timed – could imagine this conversation so clearly.


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