Friday, October 30, 2009

All FUCOPs Must Die


Most of you don't know this, but I work for a company that produces audio books for the blind for good ole Uncle Sam. It's a government program (which the Republicans were trying to cut a couple years back) that allows anyone in the country who is legally blind and/or physically unable to turn pages to receive a machine and check out audio books from any local library around the country. These are different from the audio books you get when you're on your lonely car trips. These are verbatim and unabridged and can range from your typical best seller to any genre book to nonfiction, histories, and medical texts concerning blindness, diabetes, etc.

I don't narrate these books myself. I review them--making sure there are no technical errors and that the narrator is coherent and correct and consistent. We reviewers sometimes move heaven and earth to make sure something has the correct pronunciation. We also make sure that the narrator is consistent with their pronunciation. There may be five different ways to pronounce a single word, but the narrator must choose one and stick with it the entire book.

It's not just about "pride in one's work." If the narrator is not coherent, correct, and consistent, the Guvmint might reject the book; and we'd have to go back and correct the errors. Sometimes, we even have to re-record the entire book. As an example of what a stickler Uncle can be, I once had a book rejected because the narrator pronounced the LA road, La Cienega, the Spanish way instead of the LA way. I knew the difference. I stay with my aunt on La Cienega when I go out to LA. But I thought that since the narrator was technically correct, I'd let it pass. The kicker was "La Cienega" only appeared once in the entire 450-page book (I know, I had to go back and scan the entire thing myself).

However, Uncle can be capricious. He can zap you for one word, or he can let HUGE mistakes run through an entire book and never catch it.

This inconsistency makes us reviewers even more the sticklers because you just never know. This doesn't hold true for a lot of the narrators, though. The better ones are sticklers, too. And, believe it or not, there have been heated arguments over the pronunciation of words that you wouldn't believe. One time, I thought I was going to get socked in the face over the word "Devereux."

But that only applies to the better narrators. I once heard about a study of workplace competence. It appears that the most competent people in any workplace are the ones who fret over their competence the most. The utter fuck-ups think they're the cock on the walk and can't be told shit. You can definitely see that rule in effect here when it comes to the narrators. It's the absolute idiots you can't correct, who will refuse to make corrections no matter how grievous, and who get morally outraged when you tell them they're wrong.

Such a person is exactly what I've been dealing with all week.

I am currently reviewing a book about a recent Supreme Court decision (I don't want to be too specific here--I don't want to get the book rejected). The lead attorney in the case has a foreign name which the narrator has repeatedly butchered throughout the book's entire 317 pages. And he is such a maestro with the cleaver, that he decided to butcher the name TWO DIFFERENT WAYS!!!

The FIRST pronunciation was so bad, I went searching for the guy's name and found it instantly on YouTube. Apparently, this attorney is also a legal scholar and is becoming less and less obscure every day. He has been on more than news show as a talking head.

This is a huge red flag for us. If Uncle can find the name really quickly, we know we have to change it.

I informed M. Talènt, and, of course, he got pissed. His first claim was that he called where this guy teaches and talked to him. When I said the guy's all over YouTube, M. Talènt then claimed that he got the pronunciation for the guy's voice mail. After I emailed The Guy and got his name's pronunciation directly from him, M. Talènt finally admitted that it was The Guy's assistant on the voice mail.

But none of that friggin' mattered. M. Talènt refuses to change the name. He is right (though horrifically wrong), and there's nothing I can do about it. Rejection be damned! And I can basically shove my need to do this correctly up my shit-eye!

Indignantly, I asked him which incorrect pronunciation he wanted to use for the book, since he pronounced it incorrectly several different ways. Missing my indignation (his was too loud to hear mine), he actually did choose.

So, for the past few days, I've been marking down each time he says The Guy's name. Mind you, The Guy was the lead attorney in this book about a legal case. In most of the book, his name appears 5-10 times per page. Each side recorded is about 88 minutes long. It usually takes me 1 1/2-2 hours to review each side. This is taking me about 3 1/2 hours each side. There are times when I have to stop three times per recorded minute to mark down M. Talènt's mispronunciation only to have him "correct" it to his preferred mispronunciation!

I'm getting carpal tunnel syndrome marking down page after page after page of "corrections" this whole time, fuming in the fact that this book will probably get rejected and dreading the fact that Uncle may very well not reject this book, further encouraging M. Talènt to continue his asshole-ish ways!!!

Finally having enough, I cursed to myself, "This festering unwashed cunt of putrefaction must die!!!"

Then I started ranting about all the other FUCOPs who've been pissing me off lately. The banks for taking my tax money and for refusing that fixer-upper wanted to take off their hands--just letting that could-be beautiful house rot! Dick Cheney for his constantly popping up like a herpes-laden jackass-in-a-box, criticizing Obama as though his the Bush administration didn't drop us headfirst into this clusterfuck our country's in. And Joe Lieberman for threatening to filibuster public-option legislation.

I'd like to get M. Talènt and all these other FUCOPs in a room and see just how good their health care is.


Cujo359 said...

That sounds very frustrating. I remember listening to a some documentary about WWII where the narrator consistently pronounced Kriegsmarine as though it were "Krieg's Marina". I shudder to think how he would have pronounced "Focke Wulf".

They should digitize all those audio books, and when someone mispronounces a word like that, just do a "global replace" afterward. That ought to sound pretty funny.

As for the idea that the people who are the most confident in their talent or judgment are often those with the least reason to be, I think we've been testing that idea the last decade or so. There's no doubt in my mind that it's true.

Grant said...

Is "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" a common refrain at your workplace?

How do you prefer your readers to pronounce versatile? template? Lately I hear a lot of people (and not just in New Orleans) say versatile with a long i sound and template with a long a sound. Neither is my preferred pronunciation.

boukman70 said...


You are most definitely right on that incompetence point. But in a perverse way I'm jealous of the Bushies. Could you imagine fucking the world the world over, never having any second doubts, and be able to be in bed by 10PM? Now, that's living.


Actually, we all just harmonize "Fuck you" over and over and over again. As far as "versatile" and "template" go, I must admit, I have no official policy. With my job, I've discovered that a lot of pronunciations that used to annoy me would end up being the preferred pronunciation. So, none of it bugs me that much.