Saturday, April 22, 2006

A Better Way to Suck the Energy Out of Humor Posts

Wherein I heed someone's admonishment, and also rip off other bloggers' shticks

Bill provides a brief history of series of comedic blogging gold, and concludes with:

4. I suck all the energy out of those posts by creating a numbered list.

I now complete the task I began in Bill's comments, namely to explain how to really suck the life out of this thing.

If Bill had REALLY wanted to suck the energy out of these posts, he should have put his numbered list in a PowerPoint presentation, complete with animated bullet points, embedded Excel tables, pie charts and bar graphs. (Nothing kills interest like a bar graph. Bar graphs killed the Ross Perot Presidency before it even began.) But everyone knows that you can't just put together a one page (hereafter board) PowerPoint presentation (hereafter deck) - a deck requires at least two boards. And once the deck has two boards, it needs both a table of contents board and a title page.

And now that you have four boards, it will be necessary to schedule a review meeting with your immediate supervisor. At this meeting, your deck will be mercilessly shredded, and you will be given a large number of edits.

Once these edits are complete you will meet with your supervisor's supervisor. S/he will also have a large number of edits for you to do, most of which will completely undo the prior round of edits.

At some point during these two stages, you will realize your deck is incomplete. Appendices are needed! You can't have a deck without appendices! Go back and add one week's work to put together a suitably dense and incomprehensible set of appendices.

Now you're ready for the big meeting with the junior VPs. But before you can have a meeting with the VPs, you have to find a time that is open on all of their calendars. This will require the work of several secretaries working for several days. Eventually a time will be found sometime next month - during the time you've scheduled your vacation. Naturally you cancel your vacation.

Finally the big day arrives. You and your two supervisors show up in the executive conference room. (No one will admit it, but the reason for the delay in scheduling was so that the junior VPs could get THIS ROOM. The senior VPs had kept it tied up for the previous month. But this room is great! It overlooks the lake, and the woods on the other side are so restful in the late afternoon sunlight.)

The meeting starts off well enough. You get through the title page with no problems! (This is not always the case. At last year's budget meeting the wrong SVP's name had been on the cover sheet. A whole division of Finance was figuratively crucified and literally RIF'ed before even getting to the table of contents.)

You're quickly waived through the TOC ("Got it."), and now you get to start on point 1! You are feeling flush with excitement, having gotten to actual content! You WILL be successful. You WILL be initiated into the Pharaohs, complete with a car coat and the blood initiation.

But before you can firmly establish a groove, it happens. Some executive draws you down into the appendices before you can get to point number 2, and now you may never get out of the weeds. In fact, you may never even get to mention that there might be points three and four. (The exec would cut you off right after you said "And now for bullet point number two...." with some inanity about how do these bullet points compare to the plan from two years ago to more effectively manage energy draining exercises. You are experienced enough by this point in time to know that if you're going to Hell, you may as well have a road map so as to avoid some of Dante's lesser punishments. There's no need to get drawn into the company's new paper reduction policy and how your list will effect the total paper usage of your division. You may as well get right to some cause-of-change analysis. Having done this, you will unexpectedly be blindsided with a question about how your list will affect the proposed labor management strategies and org-structure changes proposed for the upcoming fiscal year. This being the first time you have heard of these changes, you will have no response. Your supervisor's supervisor will then throw you under the bus. You will be saved, however, when two VPs start arguing about the difference between cost savings and cost avoidance, and the other VPs start perusing their Blackberries. Your job is safe. -- In the spirit of Lubosh Kavalek annotating Timman-Langeweg, Wijk ann Zee 1975, I dedicate this parenthetical comment to XWL, who started this madness, and his hat.)

Eventually, after the meeting had already run an hour past its allotted time, the JVPs will have to abruptly leave when a SVP starts a fire drill by sending everyone a cryptic message that labor negotiations have failed in the Mid-West, and a brain storming session will commence immedeiately. (The mystery is that your company has no locations in the Mid-West.)

Promises (a.k.a. threats) will be made to re-schedule the meeting to finish discussing this matter as soon as time can be found on all the executives calendars. Your schedule will be ignored for this purpose, and since Murphy's Law still applies, the new time (three weeks in the future) will be during the time of your rescheduled vacation.

Eventually the second big day arrives, but right before the meeting starts, it's cancelled. You are now doubly crestfallen, as your wife served divorce papers that morning for having repeatedly ruined her family re-union. But the good news is that your list and PowerPoint presentation have been approved for use: you may now post them on your website! You have now successfully killed any and all momentum in the comedy thread. Long hours have been poured into this project, great sacrifices have been made, your life-blood has been poured into the project, but that sweet feeling of success makes it all worthwhile. Aaahhhhhh!!!!!!


[Afterword: In the writing of this piece, it was necessary to make cuts for story flow, even though to the experienced eye these cuts will have damaged the verisimilitude of the story.

A brief paragraph about footnotes (and whether numbers, lower-case letters, or upper-case letters should be used) was deleted.

A lengthy section about the need to bring in outside consultants had to be cut because of difficulties in explaining the bidding process.

Three paragraphs on the proper editting of appendices was removed purely from boredom.

It also became necessary to remove an even lengthier digression about the need to get approval from the legal department before the presentation can be released to the public. Explaining the ins and outs of this Machiavellian process proved quite challenging. To any proposed action, corporate lawyers instinctively say "No!" In this manner they hope to cover their Merkels in case the company goes belly-up. No one wants to go before Grand Inquisitor Torquemada without being able to attest to the utmost extreme peity.

Therefore getting a legal department to actually agree to anything requires imagination, stealth, fortitude, and trickery. One needs to maneuver carefully, so as to get the attorneys vigorously disagreeing with each other about why they should deny your request. Eventually, one needs to make just the right suggestion to one of the junior attorneys at just the right time so that he will mistakenly take your position and say "Yes." He will eventually be shot down by senior attorneys of course, but this is not the point. (It is important to get a junior male attorney to agree with you for reasons that will become clear.)

Once he agrees with you, but before the senior attorneys shoot him down, it will be necessary to trick him into putting it in writing. To get him to make this mistake, one should send him an email while he is in a staff meeting. Junior attorneys often make the mistake of replying via Blackberry while distracted. Staff meetings are perfect for this purpose.

Once he has put his opinion in writing you can proceed to the next step. A key to the legal group sectretary's desk will be required, so as to steal the signature stamp of the junior attorney. (Never EVER use the stamp of a senior corporate attorney for this purpose. It draws unwanted attention, and it removes the ability of the senior attorneys to scape-goat an underling should anything go wrong. These people draw on Dark Powers, and they're not to be triffled with by a mere corporate functionary ordinaire.)

Obviously, as this brief outline of the cut passage demonstrates, this subject is deserving of its own treatise, and should not be sloughed off in a story about PowerPoint presentations. I hope to give this subject a more proper treatment at some later date.

(signed) SM Icepick
April 22, 2006
Bimini, The Bahamas]


Stab Master Icepick is a noted author, crank, and fringe-dwelling lunatic. He wears an exceptionally large boot (just one) and has written several best selling books including the semi-autobiographical works De-Caffeinated, De-mented, De-Linked: Life as a Guerilla Blogger, and MASTHEAD about his experiences as an itinerant catch-phrase author. He currently lives with his wife and two cats in Bimini, The Bahamas, working on the 2nd revision of his seminal 5-volume work A Little Kink: The Role of Midget Porn in 1980s Network Television.

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