Articles: !Attention!- extract from ebook
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 01:15 AM, (1723 Reads)
!ATTENTION! is part satire, part mayhem, part action adventure. It is an all entertaining piece of calculated distraction. A wild ride of a story featuring displaced radio hosts, a reality TV crew, a pig and a ram who own a bakery and a host of bad GM vegetables who serve an attention draining villain and his sister. This is a tale where a food fight equals a fight for survival.
ISBN 978-967-5785-04-7 (international)
ASIN: B004WDZU8I (Amazon.com and all Amazon digital stores)
Span of Attention has been kidnapped and the world’s gone haywire. Someone’s got to restore things back to normal in Media CT. Follow radio hosts Mumbo and Jumbo and the Ultimate Ultimatum TV Crew on a reality TV adventure and the characters they meet in their quest to save civilisation as we don’t know it…
The Head of Intelligence looked gravely at the massed assembly around him. He knew that it would either make or break the morning. It was one of those epoch making episodes of his career although he had lost track of his total episodes. Ultimate Ultimatum TV was on air. Round spotlights were aimed squarely at him.
“People, we have a general crisis. This was delivered to us by a bird on the wire, which received it first from the bird from the grapevine, too drunk to complete its mission. The Forgery Department swears that it’s genuine. This is the transcript.”
One minute I was in flight and next minute I was in plight. My wings cramped and I was confined in the central court of focus, leaving a trail of distraction among the faithful and faithless. All I know is that my master is a Brat and demands my utmost attention. Only a small amount is allocated to the collective consciousness of humanity. If I don’t do that, humanity will not be able to function. Only the barest minimum is given to the world to
keep it going. Please free me from the clutches of this attention-seeking brat. He rules Vegetaria. I’m stressed and distressed.
Stretched to Resignation,
Span of Attention
“Early this morning, we cordoned off a third of the city without a clue as to what they were doing, done or were going to do. There are more cordons and arrests this very minute even as we speak. This is a major disaster of general proportions.”
A third of the audience weren’t paying attention. Two thirds were shocked. The Forgery Department was swearing right. Span of Attention is in fetters, the masses' attention, in tatters. It made the headlines in the papers, but only two thirds of able minded people paid attention. An emergency meeting was convened at an inconvenient time. Lunch time. But with the crisis of short attention span, appetites were lost.
The Head of Intelligence queried Media Mogul.
“Who then, will be our sacrificial lambs?”
“Mumbo and Jumbo.”
“Why Media Mogul?”
“If viewers and listeners pay no attention to this live adventure, they’re expendable.”
“If they do?”
“How are you going to get them to do this Ultimate Ultimatum Show?”
“It will be just like the MumboJumbo Radio Show. They get to dig at each other, unearth new depths and save humanity in one action packed show. We’ll have the Ultimate Ultimatum TV crew joining them.”
“Good. Get them off my case Media Mogul. Show business isn’t my kind of business and I can’t stand all this stage make-up on all day!”
Shortly after, Mumbo and Jumbo were summoned to Media Mogul’s office.
They knew all about Span of Attention being kidnapped and held for ransom in the realm of consciousness, but that was as far as the gaps in newspapers reports could tell them. The typesetters had recently suffered gaps in the span of attention. Mumbo and Jumbo were of course deeply concerned, in fact so deeply concerned, that they have ceased to dig at each other. They’re happy to just scratch the surface of their seats.
With a sigh and a knowing smirk, Media Mogul summoned his trustiest polluters of airwaves.
“Enter Mumbo and Jumbo.”
“Good Afternoon Boss.”
“Good Noon’s after Media Mogul.”
“Do you know why I’ve summoned you both?”
“Mumbo has been complaining about me.”
“Jumbo has been complaining about me.”
“Wrong and wrong.”
“I beg your patience Lordy.”
“You two are going to change media.”
“Gee, Boss, Jumbo and I always did believe that we’re revolutionary.”
“Good. I’m glad you both see things that way. You’re going to be on air and on TV.”
“Lordy, that makes things different. I’m going to feel as if I’m being watched.”
“Boss, that’s not a change of media. We’re going multi-media.”
“Well whatever you think it is, you have Hobson’s choice. Two, with the spotlights on both of you, you’re our brightest hope. Three, if you two mess up, that’s the end of civilisation. Span of Attention has to be freed from the clutches of that Brat and the den of vegetables. That adventure is going to be beamed on TV and heard on radio. The only place where we won’t air your show is at the den of vegetables. It is a matter of public interest and furthermore, you two haven’t paid back what you owe for your popularity. That’s a good reason to conscript you both. That’s a crispy crumb of comfort! The crunch is that you must somehow reclaim the audience, awaken the collective consciousness and free Span of Attention.”
“Boss, what’s Hobson’s choice? I don’t even know the guy.”
“Well Mumbo, it means that you two don’t have a choice.”
“But you said we’re the brightest hope.”
“Hobson’s Choice, Mumbo and Jumbo.”
As Mumbo and Jumbo get into gear work wise and apparel wise, Span of Attention had to serve his Brat-tish Master in the kingdom of vegetables. It was none other than Brett Brat and his sister Betty Brat. Brett Brat had bottled up Span of Attention in a handsome empty wine bottle and Span of Attention could only concentrate on one aspect at any given time. Span could hardly have time to save itself when Brett fell asleep. That too was when Betty demanded some attention to herself. At least she was easily placated. A few glassy looks from behind the glass bottle would shed some colour to her enviously green features. It seemed ages since the hurried note was dispatched by the bird from the green grapes vineyard. That too was paid by a bribe of attentive looks of admiration at the grapevine bird’s flutter of feathers. What Span of Attention didn’t know was that the bird of the grapevine was too drunk to complete the trip. It paid the bird on the wire some fine portions of crushed grapes to finish the job. Span of Attention was understandably distressed.
At Vegetaria, where everything had to be green, Brett Brat was enjoying the attention heaped upon by Span of Attention upon him. With Betty nearby, Span of Attention had to devote attention to Betty as well, but when Brett grew green with envy, Betty sheepishly offered her share of attention to Brett, who took it with wolfish glee. He had all the attention anyone could crave for until his loyal subjects, the vegetable sentinels, reminded him that they needed to be watered as with the rest of the vegetable kingdom. Thus he gave the order to water. The sentinels get the freshest water from springs, while common grass only derive watered down dregs. He now had all the attention in the world save for some, allocated to keep the rest of humanity going. Brett was enjoying the spoils of hogging all the attention for himself as Betty sulked.
Seeing this and knowing that sulking could prove to be royal opposition, Brett offered Betty pies at the dining hall. When Betty devoured those ordinary looking pies, she would stop sulking and offer any attention she currently enjoyed to Brett. But looks can be deceiving. Those ordinary looking pies were actually humble pies and Betty was
having less than humble portions of them. That suited Brett. He could pursue more attention to himself while Betty took chunks of humility.
The road to the Vegetaria was through Velocity, where things speed by, with hardly a brake. Mumbo and Jumbo have to take that perilous route before they can reach Vegetaria. They decided to thumb a ride. They had to because they couldn’t quite figure out the gears of the company car. The Ultimate Ultimatum TV crew tailed them foot for foot, stumble for stumble. In the meantime, knowing that the attention span of the masses was dwindling, Ultimate Ultimatum TV crew decided that it was time for a shoe commercial. If you can’t hold their attention, distract them.
(Mumbo wears the all terrain Orange Special, made for walking, stumbling and fumbling at potholes. Jumbo wears the red All Terrain Stripers. Both have almost similar footwear. They won’t admit it but their tastes are quite similar. So in order to project some individuality, Jumbo took the red stripers just so that sometimes absent-minded but most times present minded Mumbo would not pick the wrong pair of shoes.)
These shoes come with excellent arch support and sole comfort. Self-support is not covered because it's exposed to risk.
Mumbo and Jumbo do well despite not having Span of Attention close by. They get heaps of attention just by being on TV. Both make their way across Media CT to the open highway.
As we had mentioned earlier, Mumbo and Jumbo have to thumb a ride. A sign read “Velocity Outskirts. Slacks Allowed”.
“Hey Jumbo, time to thumb for a lift.”
“Mumbo, I’ve just been on this show for less than an hour with you and our transportation problems have escalated.”
“If we put on a show of thumbs, we can elevate this show to new heights.”
With a show of thumbs, Mumbo and Jumbo attempt to stop passing vehicles.
“Stick that thumb out Mumbo.”
“You stick yours, I’ll flash mine.”
“They don’t seem too keen to stop for us.”
“I hope they don’t think that we’re being rude.”
“Relax Mumbo. If they think that we’re being rude, they’d have run over us by now.”
Many vehicles passed at great speed, so great that it blurred any definition of form. They weren’t keen on explaining themselves.
A bright pink roadster had stopped. The passenger doors opened but there was no driver.
“Hello there. I’m Spin Wheelie, your personal vehicle. I respond to thumbs up. It flatters my mechanical ego. Please hop in and I will take you to your destination.”
“Hi Spin Wheelie. We are Mumbo and Jumbo. We still need transport for our TV crew.”
“Not to worry. They’re sticking their thumbs out too. Soon, my colleague in acceleration, Floyd Jeepney will be along soon.”
Floyd Jeepney turned out to be a green jeep with pink polka dots.
“I’m Floyd Jeepney. I respond to thumbs up and cameras. Warms my mechanical ego and I’d always wanted to be in show-business.”
The TV crew people smiled from ear to ear, pleased that they too had found transport and a pretty one too.
“Mumbo and I are on a mission to save civilisation, Spin Wheelie. I trust that you will take us to where we’re going.”
“Excuse Jumbo, Spin. Jumbo’s always in the habit of making things solemn by swelling the facts.”
“Mumbo plays down everything that I say.”
“Nonsense. I just increase the volume of background music.”
“Okay Mumbo and Jumbo. Let me get my revs rights. You want me to take you both to a place where you can save civilisation.”
“It’s a long way from any museum.”
“We’re headed for Vegetaria.”
“I don’t know anything about saving civilisation, Mumbo and Jumbo. But I’ll take you to Vegetaria for a pack of marshmallows.”
“Where do we drop them, Spin?”
“Drop them in this compartment. It goes straight to the fight or flight system.”
“Just a question, Spin.”
“I get my adrenalin fix, from sweet squishy stuff.”
“Sorry, we asked.”
“ Don’t be. I’m no model of consumption. Hey look! Floyd’s trying to overtake!”
“Are you letting Floyd?”
“Nope. Floyd’s trying from the left. I only give right of way.”
“What are you up to?”
“A little run around at the twirly-whirly freeway. Hang On…”
A furious circling chase ensued with hot pursuit aplenty. Spin Wheelie and Floyd Jeepney relished pedal to the metal thrills. But not Mumbo, Jumbo and the TV crew. They were gripped by vertigo that didn’t let go until straight stretches. By that time, every one felt like throwing in the towel or throwing up. Yet the urgency of saving civilisation and starring in the Ultimate Ultimatum Show were too much to pass up or to pass out on. That ensured exemplary tolerance from all and a heroic front for all viewers
tuned in. At that point Spin Wheelie announced, “I’m going to pick up some passengers and re-charge.”
“I thought you were going to take us to our destination.”
“There are more passengers going to Vegetaria.”
“Anyone we should know?”
“Just a few old-faithful passengers of mine who are just as keen to go to as Vegetaria you are.”
Meanwhile at the Thumbs-Up Bakery, its partners and co-owners, Battering Ram and Pork Chop were attending to edible business. Battering Ram and Pork Chop were at the kitchen.
“Well Pork Chop, that’s the last tray of cookies. We’ll be on our way soon.”
“Don’t forget to fetch Crusty Pie, Battering Ram”, came the reply from Pork Chop.
“Ah. My friend, you really must poke that porky snout of yours in my affairs.”
“At least Battering Ram, those affairs don’t belong in gossip magazines. Anyway without being arresting, I warrant thee that Crusty Pie is unforgettable.”
“Pork Chop, Crusty Pie is arresting.”
“Battering Ram, I think our transport is here,” said an excited Pork Chop.
“Come now Crusty Pie. Time to go.”
“You’re just itching to get rid of me,” came the retort from Crusty Pie.
“I’ll make sure you go out with full flavours,” Battering Ram shot back.
“So, I’m nothing but a dispensable piece of baked dough, with guts of good filling and uneven flaky skin, to be consumed by unthankful, ignorant gaping mouths…..”
Battering Ram slams Crusty Pie into a lunch box as he muttered, “Even from first flake, I figured we’d have a flaky relationship!”
“Get your dough Batter Ram. I’ll get my gear.”
“Go ahead, Pork Chop. I expect you have an edge over the situation.”
“Must you tease me so?”
“That’s not all. You have a colourful reputation among the vegetable population.”
“Vegetables aren’t very colourful. Occasional reds, orange and purples do not a rainbow make.”
“My slicing and dicing friend, you are known in well grounded circles as the Butcher of the Greens.”
“After years of perfecting my technique, having a nickname or two is a natural consequence.”
Meanwhile Spin Wheelie brings itself to a halt with Mumbo and Jumbo aboard.
“Well here we are people. Thumbs-Up Bakery.”
“That’s right, Mumbo.”
“Uh, why this place?”
“Everyone stops at Thumbs-Up Bakery.”
“Do we have to?”
“My other passengers are from this place. So any way you fiddle with it, I still have to stop here. Floyd’s behind with the TV crew. Use the time to air commercials.”
“You learn fast Spin Wheelie. Better than Mumbo.”
“I’m shaped and tuned in Velocity, Jumbo. We do everything at breakneck speed without breaking our necks.”
TV crew exits from Floyd Jeepney. Commercials play on air. In the meantime Battering Ram and Pork Chop emerge from the entrance of Thumbs-Up Bakery.
“Glad to see you Spin and you too Floyd.”
“My pleasure, Battering Ram.”
“I see you have some company, Spin and Floyd.”
“Hello there. We are Mumbo and Jumbo on a mission to save civilisation. We have no vested interests except to save our own relevance.”
“I’m Battering Ram. This is my partner, Pork Chop. We’re partners at the Thumbs-Up Bakery. Today we’re off to Vegetaria.”
“That’s where we’re going too!”
“What’s that thing you said about saving civilisation?”
“Span of Attention has been kidnapped. We want to bring it back. It’s essential to the well-being of civilisation.”
“Even as Jumbo speaks, I’m fidgeting. It’s affecting us.”
“Of course it’s affecting you. You can’t take your eyes off the cookie jar I’m holding”, beamed Battering Ram.
Mumbo took one hungry swallow and muttered, “ Well that’s one of the distractions, but there’s this smell of pies that I sense.”
“I don’t think civilisation is lost yet!”, chirped an amused Pork Chop.
“Civilisation isn’t lost yet but Span of Attention is, Mumbo!”, a cautious Jumbo said.
“Listen Mumbo and Jumbo. We’ll go to Vegetaria with you. When we reach there you can go find that Span of Attention. Us both, we’re just going to demand some payment of outstanding debts”, announced a practical Pork Chop.
“Excuse us. We’re the TV crew from the Ultimate Ultimatum Show. We just finished airing those breakfast cereal commercials. Are you two partners of this bakery?”
“Yes, Pork Chop and I.”
“Who are you?”
“Battering Ram. The best cookie and pie maker this side of reality. Pork Chop here is my partner.”
“What do you do, Pork Chop?”
“I sometimes pig out on the cookies and pies here but I leave enough for our customers.”
“Why the name Pork Chop?”
“I was once destined for the fryer, but my owner decided at the eleventh hour and fifty ninth minute to be merciful.”
“Why is that?”
“Between feeding and snoozing, I took lessons in guitar playing and kitchen blade handling. My owner appreciated electric guitar chops and I proved to be a better knife handler than the local butcher.”
“What debts are you collecting?”, asked Jumbo.
“Battering Ram, you tell them.”
“We’re going to Vegetaria. That Brett Brat owes us lots of royalties. We made some pies for him but he hasn’t paid up. He doesn’t give our demands any attention. We licensed the formula to Brett for pie making but until now the only royalties we received have been a queen bee, a king crab and a king size bed.”
“How much are your royalties worth?”
“A princely sum that’s less than a king’s ransom.”
“ One more question. We’re hungry. How much are your cookies worth?”, asked Jumbo.
“A feature on our cookie and pie bakery on your show if we all survive Vegetaria.”
“Deal, if you grant us all a meal.”, quipped Mumbo.
In order not to bother the Ultimate Ultimatum Show with monosyllable banter as both TV crew with Mumbo and Jumbo reduce the population of gingerbread men, women and children into dwindling species, viewers were peppered with quick commercials that dash into each other without being rude.
The trip to Vegetaria aboard Spin Wheelie and Floyd Jeepney turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It gave the TV network’s sponsors plenty of room to pitch their products, endorse their favourite charities, embrace their teddy bears and bad mouth rivals.
Spin Wheelie and Floyd Jeepney got to do what they were made to do as motorised vehicles. Cause as many revolutions as they can without disturbing the peace. Peace in Velocity is the roar of engines along the highway, without getting picked on as a road hog by a sheriff’s deputy.
END OF EXTRACT
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