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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What A Buzz

Business Dictionary

These are the latest buzzwords to add to your
corporate vocabulary.

Blamestorming – Sitting around in a group
discussing why a deadline was missed or a
project failed and who was responsible.

Seagull Manager – A manager who flies in,
makes a lot of noise, shits over everything
and then leaves.

Blowing your buffer – Losing your train of
thought.

Salmon day – The experience of spending an
entire day swimming upstream only to get
screwed and die in the end.

Chainsaw consultant – An outside expert
brought in to reduce the employee headcount,
leaving the brass with clean hands.

CLM – Career-limiting move – Used among
microserfs to describe ill-advised activity.
Trashing your boss while he or she is within
earshot is a serious CLM.

Depotphobia – Fear associated with entering a Home
Depot because of how much money one might spend.

Adminisphere – The rarefied organizational layers
beginning just above the rank and file.
Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are
often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to
the problems they were designed to solve.

Dilberted – To be exploited and oppressed by your
boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the
geek-in-hell comic strip character.
“I’ve been dilberted again. The old man revised
the specs for the fourth time this week.”

Flight Risk – Used to describe employees who are
suspected of planning to leave the company or
department soon.

404 – Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide
Web error message “404 Not Found”, meaning that
the requested document could not be located.
“Don’t bother asking him…he’s 404, man.”

Generica – Features of the American landscape that
are exactly the same no matter where one is, such
as fast food joints, strip malls, sub-divisions.
Used as in “We were so lost in generica that I
forgot what city we were in.”

Keyboard Plaque – The disgusting buildup of dirt
and crud found on computer keyboards.

Ohnosecond – That minuscule fraction of time in
which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG
mistake.

Percussive Maintenance – The fine art of whacking
the crap out of an electronic device to get it to
work again.

Prairie Dogging – When someone yells or drops
something loudly in a “cube farm” (an office full
of cubicles) and everyone’s heads pop up over the
walls to see what’s going on.

Telephone Number Salary – A salary (or project
budget) that has seven digits.

Umfriend – A sexual relation of dubious standing
or a concealed intimate relationship, as in “This
is Dale, my…um…friend.”

Yuppie Food Stamps – the ubiquitous $20 bills
spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when
trying to split the bill after a meal:
“We all owe $8 each, but all anybody’s got
is yuppie food stamps.”

 

 

Book Review #8

I recently picked up a library book for the son.  When I saw it, I asked the librarian to check that it had not, in fact, been reserved by someone else.  It just wasn’t his style.  It was about words, and language, and communication.  It looked like something I would read.  In fact, I had 25 pages read by the time he received it.

word exchange

The Author – Alena Graedon

The Book – The Word Exchange

The Review

The story is set in the perhaps too-near future, when the printed word is down to its last gasp. Smartphones, PDAs and tablets have all morphed together, into an emotion-reading, electronic device called a Meme.  They can call you a cab as you ride down in the elevator, or order you a lunch at the first tummy rumble.

Unfortunately, dependence on them has caused loss of focus and memory, especially of language.  It was amusingly sadly ironic that, the day I began reading the book, the Scott Adams’, Dilbert© cartoon shown below was printed.

Dilbert

The book-jacket is printed with lines and rows of seemingly random letters, like the data streams in the Matrix movies.  Close examination though, shows the occasional word, like local, bash, or asking.  Starting near the end of the top line, several lines, with no spacing, of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky are printed. “Brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe all mimsy were the boroves and the momeraths outgrabe.”

The story revolves around a daughter trying to find her boss/father, the editor of the last Dictionary to be printed in North America.  This author writes as I might – if I had an iota of inspiration and creativity.  The plot is none too deep, or believable, but she sprinkles bright and shiny words everywhere, like bits of crystal.

Within the first chapter, she has used proclivity, risible, perspicacity, sinuous, evanescing and nimbus.  One dark word among the others was verbicide – the destruction of language.  When people begin experiencing aphasia – loss of words – some passages resemble the Jabberwocky, above.   Later, she forms the neologism, Creatorium, for a place where new words and usages are produced.  She breaks the book into 26 A to Z chapters.

A for Alice, to whom Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty says, “A word means exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less.”

B for Bartleby, a scrivener, or public secretary.

C for Communication.

D, I would have thought would be for “Dictionary”, but she made it Diachronic, a term referring to etymology, what words used to mean, why they mean what they do now, and what they are changing into, for the future.

The book comes in three segments, titled Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis.  It resembles a “found footage” movie like The Blair Witch Project.  It is footnoted, almost like a technical article.  The bottoms of pages are littered with thoughts, feelings, and explanations to the reader, almost like Shakespearean stage asides.

The heroine’s name is Ana, except it isn’t.  It’s really Anana, which is a palindrome, reading the same backward and forward.  Her father told her that the word means gentle, kind or mild in Swahili, face, in Sanskrit, lovely, in Inuit, and harmonize, in Gweno.  If you add an S to it, to make more than one of her, she becomes ananas, her father’s favorite French fruit, pineapple.

Menace is provided by The Word Exchange, the titular corporation which is buying out and eating up all print and on-line dictionaries.  Their Memes cause people to lose more and more of their language skills, but offer to “remind” you, for two cents a word; cheap now, but what will they charge when they have a monopoly?

A situation was described in the book.  I had heard of it, but halfway through the book, I got to experience it.  Coming soon, to a telephone near you, the heuristic call.  What sounds like a real, live person, is actually a computer, with a voice synthesizer, preprogrammed responses to almost limitless conversational branches, and the ability to understand key words and voice intonation.

A TV anchor’s voice, full of false bonhomie, says, “Hi!  My name is Bob.  How are you today?”  Being polite Canadians, we reply, “Fine thank you.”  Bob says, “That’s great!  I’d like to sell you a cell phone plan.”  Or maybe you say, morosely, “I’m terrible!  My Grandmother just died.”  Bob says, “Oh, that’s too bad.  I’m really sorry, but you’ll want to notify family and friends.  I’d like to sell you a new cell phone plan.”  No matter where the conversation goes, it always ends at the cell phone package….unless?

The guy in the book says, if you recognize the call, you can have fun with it.  “How are you?”  “Left-handed.”  And listen for the half-second as the computer resets itself.  “Can I sell you a cell phone package?”  “Carsick yaks, blueberries, nude skydiving, virtual monkey wrenches!”  If you supply enough non-sequitur comments, you can fugue the computer, hanging it up until a tech clears and restarts it.  Hell, I think I’ll start trying that with real live people.

Like the Synchronic Corporation’s motto in the book says, The Future is Now.  It’s time for us to put down all our electronic crutches, throw open the window and yell, “I’m mad as Hell, and….what was the rest of that?  Ah, don’t bother.  I’ll look it up.  Won’t cost much.    😕