Flash Fiction #170

Zor and Zam

PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior

ZOR AND ZAM

A business meeting – the bane of office life, always scheduled for the least inopportune time of a roomful of busy people.

You could be on the phone or computer, actually achieving something, but had to massage egos to justify your budget.  Basically it was a ‘Mine’s bigger than yours’ contest.  There was always one guy who had to show how important he was, by missing it.  Some came late – “Did I miss anything?”  Some had to leave early – pity the poor executive secretary who had to co-ordinate all this.

What if the boss gave an office meeting…. and nobody came?

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Click here to listen to The Monkees sing about two petty kings who tried to have a war, but nobody came.

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If you’ve read Rochelle’s offering, (And if you haven’t already, you WILL, Right!) click here to listen to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tell the story of Bo Jangles.

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Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Friday Fictioneers

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It’s Just A Made-Up Word

Dictionary

(Some) people ask, “How can I get a word into the dictionary?”

A six-year-old Canadian boy from British Columbia is being credited with creating one. He was out with his mother in the car, when she stopped at a STOP sign. Not only did he read the word, but he did what I often do.  He read it backwards, and got the word ‘pots.’  Precocious little prick – reminds me very much of a young Archon.

He asked his mother what the word was for a word that formed another word when read backwards. She didn’t know, so she said they’d ask his Dad when he got home.  He didn’t know, so he asked a friend of his who was a teacher.  He didn’t know, so he asked the school’s English teacher. She didn’t know, so she contacted a friend who worked for an on-line dictionary.

At each level, the interest became more intense. After some research, it was realized that there wasn’t such a word.  It couldn’t be ‘anagram’, which describes words formed by scrambling the letters – getting ‘tars’, or ‘tsar’ from ‘star,’ instead of ‘rats.’  I can get six words from his four-letter sign – stop, spot, pots, post, tops, and opts.

It couldn’t be ‘palindrome’ which describes a word, phrase, or entire sentence which reads the same way, backwards or forwards, like – Able was I ere I saw Elba, or A man, a plan, a canal, Panama.

During the golden days of radio, I listened to a station which ran a contest. They wanted a word, and gave out audio clues.  The first was the gentle sound of a babbling brook, and a man’s voice saying, “I’m going to paddle down this.” After a couple of days, they added the sound of a tolling bell, and the man exclaiming, “Time for lunch!” A couple of days later with no winners, they added a male voice saying, “That’s your plane coming in, right there on the screen.”

Finally, someone guessed ‘palindrome’, the first time I’d heard it. The voice was going to paddle a ‘kayak’, have lunch at ‘noon’, and watch his plane on ‘radar.’

This little boy is credited with creating the word ‘levidrome.’ I don’t know how precocious he is, but even Young Sheldon, spun off from Big Bang Theory, would have trouble building a compound word from pieces of Latin, a foreign, and dead, language.  I suspect that he had a little bit of help.

‘Levi’ in Latin means left, and ‘drome’ is a course or path, so it indicates a word which is read towards the left. It doesn’t hurt that Levi is also the boy’s Jewish first name.

Canadian actor, William Shatner, (whose German surname means, “chewer of scenery,” in English) contacted Oxford Dictionary after the family had been in touch with Merriam Webster, which told them that a word has to be commonly used before it can be added to its dictionary.

Now, an editor at Oxford has responded with a video, saying many clever and useful words are created every year, but a word can only make it into its dictionary if lots of people use it over a long time. The editor says that plenty of people are uttering ‘levidrome’ early into Levi’s campaign, which is impressive, and staff will decide in about a year whether its use is widespread enough to get the word into the dictionary.  Their search engine might even sieve this post.  C’mon people, let’s all use it.

I’ve got a word for the precious little pr…ecocious, and it ain’t ‘Triviana!’ Stop by again soon, when I’ll have a bunch more words that are already in the dictionary.  😉

The Rewards Of Radio

When I was a child, we had a radio, AM only, an old Stromberg/Carlson with a large crack in the top of its one-piece Bakelite plastic case.  It had a loose connection, and sometimes stuttered or cut out.  A good whack on the top usually got it going again, but obviously someone had been a little too enthusiastic with a thump.  It had a copper wire which ran out a window to a steel stake in the ground, to use the earth as an assistant receiver.  We even paid a “radio licence fee” for several years, for the right to listen to free, open broadcasts.

Since my father was a part-time entertainer, he listened to it a lot, to hear songs he could use in his once-a-week act.  Later, we got a better radio/record player combo, and I heard much Big-Band sounds, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, The Ames Brothers, and soundtracks from musicals.  As the Fifties wore on, Rock-and Roll replaced Swing.  Dad listened to radio less, and I listened to it more.  By the time I got married in 1967, Canada’s Centennial Year, we owned a radio which was turned on as soon as someone reached the living-room in the morning, and didn’t get turned off till we watched TV, or went to bed.

I didn’t “listen” to radio, so much as absorb it.  Hear the same song by the same artist a thousand times, and I could soon “Name That Tune” in two notes.  Radio stations began running phone-in contests, to prove to advertisers how many people listened to them.  Finally, my head full of useless trivia became useful.

Actually, the wife was the first one in the family to win something from a radio station.  Pre-Tim Horton’s, a local small doughnut chain offered a dozen high-quality doughnuts to the first person to tell how they were invented….and we were off.  As addicted listeners, we were often able to take a shot at a radio contest.  Sometimes you had to be the correct-number caller, but if we got through, we usually had the right answer.

A brash young DJ came to town, and started on the over-night show.  I often called him at the station, to alleviate his, and my, boredom.  I was the one who called him to show where the mistake in Billy Joel’s song, You’re Only Human, was.  The first Friday night I let my son accompany me on my security job, the young DJ jokingly held a “Guess The DJ’s Lunch” contest, at three in the morning.  My son’s phone-in stab wasn’t even close, but it was amusing enough to get us the chance to meet him in person, for a restaurant breakfast in the morning.  We showed up at a store-opening remote broadcast, and he named us on-air, and described us as “the two-man motorcycle gang.”

The local station was supposed to have run a series of give-aways of tickets for the premier showing of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie, Commando, but forgot to schedule it.  On the Friday afternoon, they suddenly revealed on-air that they had 20 four-packs, for the first people who showed up at the station.  My motorcycle zipped me downtown, and parked easily, while I ran upstairs.  The four of us got to see Arnie mash, crash and bash.

 I was mowing the grass in the backyard one afternoon, when I saw the son hanging out the French door, with the phone to his ear with one hand, and waving frantically to me with the other.  The radio station was offering free tickets to the Michael Keaton, Batman movie, to anyone who knew where Bill Cosby went to university.  The son didn’t know, but he immediately dialled, because, as a Cosby and comedy fan, he knew that I knew, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA.  I never stopped cutting grass as he won a night out for us.

As interested in music and radio as I am, the son attended a broadcast-arts course at the local community college, just in time to see automation and syndication scuttle his chances for work in the industry.  He doesn’t even remember what the contest was about, but does remember calling the local Pop AM station one day, and winning a VHS tape, and 12-inch action figure (It’s not a doll.  It’s for boys.) of the kids’ movie, “Indian In The Cupboard.”  Not age-specific for him, he turned them over to his appreciative nephew.

I called in and won an evening for four at a newly opened water-park on the edge of town.  That semi-conscious music osmosis came in handy again, although the question wasn’t really that hard.  The guy who won his four-pack the day before I did, said that the song they referred to had the phrase, “Sorry Baby” in it about ten-thousand times, so that’s what he guessed.

After contaminated water killed 7 people in Walkerton, ON, a benefit concert called Watershed was organized to help survivors, and raise awareness.  On the fourth and last year it was held, I managed to win two tickets, and drove the son 75 miles, to roast in a ball park for an all-day show.  There were a total of 11 acts, the third last of which was Teri Clark, a well-known female Canadian Country singer.  She was followed by Joe Cocker, who was older than I was, but pumped out more energy than I ever could.  We wormed our way right up front to see Joe.  The finale act was the great Canadian rock band, The Guess Who, who made an afternoon of sunburn well worthwhile.

As my grumpy-old-dudeness ossifies, I understand why my Dad turned off his radio in his later years.  “They haven’t written a decent song since before Disco!!”  “What’s Disco Grandpa??”  I used to haunt the second-hand record, and then CD stores.  “Have you ever heard of the Greg Kihn Band?”  Now, what little music I listen to is available for download from the net.  Excuse me; I have to turn my hearing aid….ah, Assistors, up.