Books by James Baar

 

The Real Thing and Other Tales is a mosaic of short narrative fiction attempting to refine golden reality and salvation from leaden spin.  The 28 individual tales pieced into the mosaic move forward in four phases: Fog and Spin, Icy Water and Cold Turkey, Signs and Portents, Epiphanies.

The tales probe many of the same ancient dilemmas:  free will, corruption, perversion of truth, God and chance, honor and risk, hinges of history.  Art and fakery emerge as a major leitmotif.

The cast of players is broad: old and new warriors, politically correct academics, princes, pols, saints, nukey-boat commanders, nerds and quants, spies.   Scenes shift across the last two millennia from Rome to Chartres to Venice to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre;  from the ruins of the Twin Towers to the ruins of  Berlin.; from  the mid-Atlantic floor to Manhattan and the old  woods of  Upstate New York.

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Two veterans of the Golden Age of Advertising tell the story of how the great American Advertising Magic Show became a  $250 billion business, doomed itself in an ocean of corporate  funny money and now struggles to be born anew.

But Wait! There’s More! (maybe) starkly describes and illuminates with biting humor this important business evolution  through the colorful behind-the-scenes history of the creation, growth and destruction of the nation’s  seventh largest advertising agency.

In an epilogue, the book appropriately recalls lexicographer Samuel Johnson’s definition of advertising — promise, large promise — and  suggests a possible return to advertising’s Golden Age arising from the current splintering of media and audiences along with  major advances in knowledge software.

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Flim-flam artists, imperial CEOs, Wall Street piranhas, impatient mobsters, smarmy pols, five-star spinmeisters and assorted mountebanks abound in Ultimate Severance, a highly satirical and imaginative novel that provides a public relations guidebook to the “reality” of spin and humbuggery in the 21st Century.

The novel tells how the “language of happiness” combined with a little inventive mobster muscle can be used to solve the diciest of take-over challenges including the permanent exit of inconvenient corporate leaders.

Some of the players: Marvin Runnymede, ethically relaxed CEO and master spinologist,  of a financially challenged giant PR agency, Trotter Pugg Mitchell ; Joey “Lasagna” Lazzarano, a major boss  in the NY mobs; Congressman Burt Bondi-Mondumo, a  dedicated foe of the slave trade; Tennessee Lonnie Deem who plays guitar at state funerals; and Willie “the Doctor” Aspelino,  aka,  Dr. Asparagus.

Joey, with some technical support from Dr. Asparagus, manages to arrange for  justice and the American Dream to triumph.  At least, they triumph  as much as one might expect under the circumstances.

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This wild and satiric tale of big business and sleazy political derring-do has been called one of the funnier business novels ever written.

International Coagulants, a conglomerate octopus,  is bleeding around the world from massively poor business decisions. But a cast of questionable characters are determined to save it  for a variety of questionable reasons even as they undercut each other for control.  The date: the late ’70s.  It could be this morning.

J. Wigglesworth (“Wiggy”) Pratt, IC’s CEO,  a thirsty “Roman senator with silver hair, great dignity and blue but somewhat fishy eyes,”  tries to save his job and the company with a series of  smarmy  new ventures and a secret deal with Major Ibn Mamoud, an elegant Levantine representative of the Sheik of Sharm who owns  Yankee Properties, Inc.

Meantime, Ward Winchester Read, Wiggy’s arch rival who looks like a cross between Jack Kennedy and a frustrated battle tank commander, plots a takeover from exile in a plush non-person suite in the IC Tower in New York.

There are multiple plots, slippery maneuvers, betrayals and stumblebum conniving all swimming in a thick marinade of spinspeak and cant.  The IC Tower itself is besieged by a private IC army of social dropouts recruited under a government contract to serve as peacekeepers in Third World countries.  The stock market swings insanely, folly is loosed and the  world wanders  toward cataclysm.   A final surprise resolution comes decked in yards of euphemism and offers at least a  visionette  for tomorrow.

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Do you believe that no matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it is still a pig?

Do you feel that you are always swimming in presidential campaign snake oil?

Do you suffer from hourly chronic bamboozlement at work, at home, during drive-time?

Do your children, friends and neighbors talk a language that only sounds like English?

Then “Spinspeak II, the Dictionary of Language Pollution” is the book for you

Spinmeisters today are everywhere. They seek to befuddle you by polluting our language, gussying up and diddling down our everyday words, moving familiar signposts, changing the maps in our heads. Our words – the gold standard coins of rational thinking — are being debased.  Spin rots the mind.

This dictionary uses facts and mordant humor as a linguistic scalpel to help restore rational thought.   Skeptical exposure is the solution wherever the fog of spinspeak roils communication. The mind you save with “Spinspeak II” could be your own.

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And Still  More     James Baar Books Website