Rantman’s Notebook Archives

Here’s a list of all the “Rantman’s Notebook” posts I wrote between 2002 and 2006. Links will be activated as the articles are restored to the site.

Halloween is Good for You.
More Super-Simpsons and an Election Note…
The Geekiest Thing Ever!
Marketing: Threat or Menace?
Getting Political
We Get Mail
Muppets R.I.P.
Old Ladies in Red Hats
2005 Geek Movie Guide, Part 2
2005 Geek Movie Guide
Super Bowl 2005
Rant-Man’s Book Club
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Sky Captain
Totally Obsessed, or Why I Hate the Internet
Unintentionally Funny
Howdy, Duty!
The Scarlet Dragon
Thanksgiving 2003 Movie Review
Oddly Enough
We Get Mail
I Quit!
The Circus Leaves Town…
Scamming the Scammer, Part 3
Got Your Poodle Hat?
AARGH! More Customer Service Horrors.
The Return of Rant-Man.
Dead Pool Update.
The Scamming Continues.
Scamming the Scammer.
Ding Dong, Saddam is Dead…
Fool Me Once…
Quoth the Raven
“Today’s War is brought to you by Doritos.”
Customer Serviced Part 2 and other tales
Customer Serviced
Nature Boy
Vegas in Daylight
Caller Ten, Call Now
So You Think You Know Everything?
Some Friends of Mine.
A Nation of Wimps.
I See Stupid People.
Dead Pool 2003
Forgetfulness, Mr. Blackwell and Dwarf Pitchmen
Happy New Year!
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
The Smartest Man You Never Heard Of.
Thanksgiving With the Skanks
Geek Bonding
Lamenting the Family Channel; We get mail
Real-Life Superheroes
Gravity is a Harsh Mistress
Attack of the Funsuckers
Clowns and Other Aberrations
Ticking People Off
Hell’s Jukebox
The Good Old Days
How Did You Know THAT?
A Rilly Big Shew
Ya Gotta Laugh
Talkin’ ‘Bout Your G-G-Generation
High School Reunion
Geekfest 2002
I’m Sick.
Feeling Melancholy
America, Home of the Fun
But I Don’t Like Spam!
Father’s Day
Summer Camp for Geeks, and the Dubious Appeal of Julia Roberts
The University of Rude Awakenings
Harry Potter and the Disk of Secrets
Stray Thoughts
Have You Had Your Irony Today?
Everybody Knows…
What Are You Looking For?
Mickey, Chuck, Pee-Wee and Me
It’s Still Rock & Roll to Me
Your Tax Dollars at Work
Torment of Roses
Picking on the Oscars 2002
Word Power
Britney Spears Nude!
I Come By It Honestly
The Glue Wars
Will You Take a Check?
The Bonsai Cow and Other Strange Tales

Sky Captain and Star Wars

Sky Captain and Star Wars

Relax, I’m not going to write a review. But I happened to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow last weekend, and it got a lot of thoughts percolating. A lot of them came together, ironically enough, while listening to some people who are in a dither over the movie that Sky Captain most reminds me of, Star Wars.

Before we get to that, let me make a couple of points along the way. First off, as far as I’m concerned, the first one is called Star Wars, and it’s the first one. I’m not going to call it Episode IV or A New Hope or anything else. Second, I’m not going to ever use the words “mythology” or “canon” in reference to any of the Star Wars industry. It’s a movie, not Holy Scripture. No, I’m not being snobby. When George Lucas made Star Wars, it was obvious his intent was to capture the flavor of the old Republic serials. The fact is, if you went to the movies on a Saturday morning in 1941 and saw, say, Tom Tyler in The Adventures of Captain Marvel, nobody ever referred to the individual episodes by their titles. Episode 6 is never called “Lens of Death,” except by the same kind of annoying OCD types who worry about how the cartoons fit together with the comic books. Feh.

Getting back to the topic at hand, Sky Captain is very much like Star Wars; where Star Wars was a love letter to Flash Gordon, Captain Blood and Jack Kirby’s entire career, Sky Captain harkens back to the older Buck Rogers, Blackhawk, the Fleischer Superman cartoons, and a big serving of Steranko’s “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” with passing references to King Kong and the Land That Time Forgot.

Both films were primarily intended to entertain. They’re fun, exciting romps. You know all that noise Lucas made about having plotted out the whole epic before they ever started filming the first movie? Hogwash. It’s obvious from the films that came later that he’s making it up as he goes along. He never intended for Star Wars to become this lumbering beast. Princess Leia is a classic fairytale princess in distress. That’s what she was intended to be, and that’s what she was. Then the Star Wars “universe” began to be constructed by obsessive fans and avaricious marketing weasels. Once that happened, and Lucas was charged with the care and feeding of this licensing machine, he started having second thoughts; a princess means a monarchy, and monarchies are bad. Being stuck with the fairytale princess and wanting to be “responsible” in the material he’s cranking out, Lucas was forced to come up with a concept that baffles the mind and offends the logic: a democratically-elected princess who rules an entire planet at the age of 14. Nonsense. If Lucas had plotted out the entire story before he made Star Wars, Leia wouldn’t be a princess, C-3PO would have recognized Uncle Owen (or at least the planet he was built on), and George Lucas would not be constantly putting out new “Special Editions” with corrected footage to plug the logic holes he keeps making. He shoulda quit while he was ahead.

Over at CBR, one of the regulars, Noah Johnson, recently explained his theory about the more recent Star Wars films. With his permission, I quote (note, some sensitive souls may take issue with his use of language; take it up with him):

No, you want to know why Star Wars is going to hell? Because we finally pushed Lucas too far, that’s why. Think about it. You’re George Lucas; you’re this crazy kid who wants to make movies. So you do a couple, and they do okay. AMERICAN GRAFFITI makes a mint, which buys you the credibility to go ahead with this wacky idea like if Kurosawa shot a Flash Gordon serial about WWII, and hey, it actually comes off.

And then your life is over. Your life as George Lucas, filmmaker, has ended. Your job title is now Official Bitch of Star Wars. You think Doyle was sick of Holmes? You think Sting is sick of “Roxanne”? Nothing. They are NOTHING compared to how sick of Star Wars Lucas was by the mid-90s. No matter what he does, no matter where he goes for two damn decades, there’s some malodorous fanboy in his face going “George, whenya gonna do the first trilogy, George? Huh George? Is it gonna be cool, George? Will it have Han Solo? Will it, George? Han’s my favorite!”

Finally, one storm-ripped night a decade ago, watching Skywalker Ranch security drag off a 350-pound man in a T-shirt reading BOBA FETT LIVES, Lucas made his mind up. “You little bastards want the first trilogy? You little soul-sucking, life-destroying geek parasites want the first fucking trilogy? I’ll give you the first trilogy. Oh yes, I’ll give it to you.”

Lucas’s mission in life is now to ruin Star Wars for all its fans, because he hates it and he hates us. Thus, first we get the Special Edition, in which tiny changes make the world unbelievable, the pacing and structure weak, and all the characters colossal pussies. Then Episode I is released, and Operation I Hate You All hits high gear.

It’s not just that Episode I is bad, though good lord it’s bad. It is quite deliberately designed to infect the head and make it impossible to enjoy the original movies any more. Deliberate, massive continuity gaffes keyed to powerful scenes in Episode IV sap the emotional intensity of watching it again. The legendary Jedi, whose myth is so key to the power of the original trilogy, are revealed as frauds, their mystical connection to the universe reduced to a few point-and-click superpowers, and those don’t even work right half the time. The vast, sweeping universe introduced in STAR WARS is revealed to be about the size of your average suburb.

Episode II is designed primarily to destroy Lucas’s most memorable creation: Darth Vader. Nobody anywhere disputes that Vader is one of the finest cinematic villains in the history of the medium. His first entrance still stands as a seminal moment in American film. But now we learn that Darth Vader is really a smarmy, whiny little jerkoff with a rattail, who is possibly the worst lover since the invention of sex. Now when we summon to mind Vader’s terrifying visage, we hear in the back of our minds Anakin whine “I want to know if you’re suffering as much as I am” and oh god, we are, we are.

Expect Lucas’s dramatic and public suicide right before the release of STAR WARS EPISODE III: FROM HELL’S HEART I STAB AT THEE, in which we’ll learn that Yoda is a child molester, Luke is actually a random orphan passed off to Anakin as his son, and Han Solo spent his early adolescence being rented out to sailors by his pimp, Chewbacca.

Because Lucas hates them, and he hates us. And he has the power to act on that hate on a scale we can only dream of.

Which brings me to Sky Captain. I fervently hope and pray that the creators of this film have heeded the lesson of Star Wars. They don’t need to go back and tell us the origins of all these things, they don’t have to make a sequel that takes us through the next decade. If they have a brain in their heads, they will leave well enough alone. It’s a fun movie; it doesn’t need to become a religion. Make a sequel if you must. Heck, make two. But whatever you do, don’t ever start referring to your wacky little alternate history as a “mythology.” That way lies madness.

So why do I care about this? Because I like the movie. Like Star Wars before it, this is a movie that intellectuals and artistic poseurs are going to flat-out hate. Those guys live for deconstruction. They want a movie they can dissect, full of subtext and hidden meanings. It also helps if the movie is deliberately obtuse, ironic, fatalistic, and maybe a little preachy. It should stop dead so a character can lecture on environmental issues or the oppression of women or the Evils of Capitalism. It should also contain a few snide cracks at the people too stupid to get it, i.e. the ordinary normal person. Ideally, it should have some shock value, or “challenge the societal conventions,” in other words be deliberately offensive so as to provide an excuse for the contempt heaped upon those yokels who are offended by the stuff that was added specifically to offend them. (Yeah, that’s a rigged game; so what? Welcome to pseudo-intellectual posturing 101.)

Sky Captain will disappoint those people. But anyone with a bit of joy, fun, wide-eyed wonder and optimism left will enjoy this movie. It has no sermon to deliver, no message to impart. Its goal is simply to entertain you for a while, and at that it succeeds admirably, if you’re the type of person who can be entertained by giant robots, laser guns, dinosaurs, a plucky reporter, or the occasional amphibious airplane. There’s nothing to deconstruct here. The late Lawrence Olivier appears here because it’s a nifty idea, not because somebody’s got some point to make. What I like about it is, there isn’t one single moment where the filmmakers smirk and wink and remind you how silly and childish all this is. They don’t apologize for the outlandish notions they toss out like popcorn. Rather, they embrace the nutty ideas and celebrate them, hauling ideas out and shouting “isn’t this COOL?” and making you want to shout a big “yes” in response. It is cool. It’s optimistic and fun, and I hope somebody has the good sense to not suck all that fun out for the sake of turning it into a safe and politically-fashionable cog in the marketing machinery.

If anybody starts talking to you about the Sky Captain Mythology, do me (and yourself) a favor and punch them in the head. A lot. Thanks.

Rant-Man’s Notebook: The Scamming Continues…

The Scamming Continues…

Last week, we left off with Earlene’s husband Homer (named for Homer Simpson, of course) getting into the act with an angry e-mail to Dr. Steve. Let’s see what happens…

Now, some of you might be bored by this kind of nonsense. If so, just skip this week and we’ll be back to our regular nonsense next week. We’re going to set up a separate section for our scam-baiting activities, so you won’t be bothered by it in this space again. Okay?

(If you missed last week’s installement, you can find it here. This week we have multiple personalities conversing, so it could get a little confusing; I’m going to color-code the correspondence to make it easier to follow. Dr. Steve’s messages will be in Green, Earlene’s will be in Red, and nephew Jimmy’s will be in Blue. My comments will be in black italics. Clear? Good. Let’s go.

The nephew gets involved:

Wed, 17 Apr 2003 1:55 PM

Dr. Steve,

My aunt Earlene called me about a loan yesterday. After I insisted she give me more information, she gave me your e-mail address and explained about the money transfer that you want her help with.Later she called me again and said that her husband found out about it and is trying to ruin everything. She asked me to take over the process for her so she can keep Homer from getting his hands on the money, and I agreed to do so, because Homer is a jerk.Please send all future correspondence to me, and I will pass it to Earlene for you. You might want to say something to Homer to keep him from getting suspicious.Please let me know what you need me to do and I’ll take care of it.
Jim MacQuarrie, Earlene’s nephew

That ought to stir the kettle a little bit. And sure enough, next morning, here comes an e-mail:

Fri, 18 Apr 2003 08:12 AM



Thanks for your message and the contents were well understood. Infact, Mr Homer wrote to me and his words were very harsh, he informed me that he has thrown Earlene out of the House, he even accused me of trying to steal his wife, I cried all night and I have been in sober reflection because I cannot guess right the state of Earlene conditions now.

Please Jimmy, tell me the situation of Earlene, she is more precious to me more than all the amount in Federal Reserve Bank and I am more concerned about her health.I will surely write to Homer to calm him down as you have suggested just to avoid further suspicion, but I will not involve such a harsh Man in my business, take note of this.

As regards to the transaction, I have already concluded all arrangement with Earlene before the intervention of Homer, but notwithstanding, God’s time is the best. I have the faith that Earlene will surely tell you to contact me because She has told me much about you, so when Homer came into the matter, I was not shocked because I know that the Almighty God I am worshipping will not let Earlene down.

The bank here has started the activation of the account for Earlene and the Lawyers are just waiting for the USD$1,250 to be sent to them as the opening balance to activate the account which Earlene promised to send to the Lawyer yesterday before the intervention of Mr Homer.

Please, all you need to do now is to arrange for a way to send the USD$1,250 immediately through WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER or MONEY GRAM to the Lawyer here. This is the fastest way of sending and receiving Money World-wide, they operate everyday, so you can go to your nearby post Office or bank and make enquiry on where to send the money through the above mentioned means. When you send the money to the lawyer, all you need to do is to send the information of the sender to me including the Control Number, question and answer Code for onward transmission to the Lawyer. The particulars of the Lawyer is as follows:- MR CHIDI STANFORD NJOKU.
TEL: 234-1-7741741.

Please Jimmy, I need your urgent response immediately to know the situation of Earlene and about the information passed to you herein. My direct telephone number is 00 234-1-7754429, so you can call me at any time.

Thanks and God be with you.

Yours Sincerely,


A few minutes later, Homer gets a reply:

Fri, 18 Apr 2003 8:26 AM



I am in receipt of your message of 16th April 2003 and the contents were well understood. To be precise, I have never intended stealing your wife as you suspected, all my correspondence with Earlene your wife has been purely on Christianity because we worship in the same Assmeblies of God Church and my introduction of business to her. If she has linked me up to you, I would have as well communicated with you in the same manner, though we are still in primary discussion of the matter before your intervention, but I dont mean bad for your marriage.

I am still a Married man with kids, so how do you expect me to take your wife?. You have a trustworthy Wife in Earlene, so dont chase her out of your house because of annoyance, it will not please God. I am on my kneels begging you not to throw her out of your house and if you have done so, please call her back for christ sake and I wish that you will understand my plight.

I wish you God Blessing and happy Easter.

Thanks and best regards,

Yours Sincerely,


At this point, I actually had some doubts; what if this guy is on the level, and here I am playing with him? So I decide to take it easy on him for a while. First “Jimmy” responds:

Fri, 18 Apr 2003 10:03 AM

Dr. Steve,

Please, it’s Jim, not Jimmy. I’ve been trying for years to get my family to stop calling me that, but it doesn’t do any good. You know how families are.

I think Earlene is getting Homer to calm down, so don’t worry about them. I think they’ll work out their troubles.

Now, about this business proposition: As I understand it, Earlene was setting up this account through you so that you could make a large money transfer into a foreign account. Is that correct? I understand why she would have to do it that way because of her computer problems and having to keep it from Homer, but I don’t have those problems, so I don’t see why I need to open another bank account when I already have one. Can’t you just transfer the money directly to my own account without going through all the trouble of opening a new one? Especially if it takes $1250 to open an account over there; it only takes $100 here.

If this will work as well, I can just send you the deposit information for my bank account and then we can proceed to handle your fund transfer.



Then about 10 minutes later, Earlene replies to Dr. Steve:

Fri, 18 Apr 2003 10:18 AM

Dear Mike,

It’s me, Earlene. Everything is okay now with me and Homer. We had a long talk, and we’re going to work together o help you with this money thing. I’m glad Homer is helping now–he read all your e-mails and he understands a lot better than I do about what you’re trying to do with the $35 million. You must think I’m awfully dumb, don’t you, I mean offering you $20 like that. I thought you needed me to give you money, not that you wanted to give ME money. LOL as they say.

Anyway, Homer and I are writing this together, and we will both help you get your money. i’m sorry if I said anythign improper to you about a relationship. Don’t worry about it, this crisis has brough Homer and me back together.

One thing I have to tell you is that I think my nephew is going to try to cut us out of the deal. He got real excited when I explained it to him, and he’s always been greedy. So don’t do any business with him, he might try to rip you off. But because of that, I’m not goign to be able to borrow any money from him I think, so Homer is going to borrow the money from his 401k plan. It might take a few days.

Thank you so much for helping to save my marriage and for being such a good friend to me, and for promising to give me all that money.


Earlene (and Homer)

OOOPS! I accidentally sent that one from “Jimmy’s” address by mistake. Time for some damage control. I wait a few hours, then reply….

Fri, 18 Apr 2003 2:14 PM

Dr. Steve,

My aunt and uncle were over here at my house this morning to discuss the loan that they wanted from me, and I let Earlene use my computer. After they left, I looked and found that she had sent you an e-mail from here. I read what she sent, and was shocked that she would say I would try to rip you off.

I think that shows how untrustworthy she is. She drinks, you know and sometimes it affects her judgment, and she says things that aren’t right, like that I would try to cheat you. It’s not true. I have only your best interests at heart.

Homer probably put her up to it. That guy is such a jerk.

Anyway, let me know if my bank account will work for this transaction.



I’m sure I blew it; he’ll figure out it’s a hoax now. Next afternoon, Homer & Earlene have an answer…

Sat, 19 Apr 2003 12:44 PM



I am in receipt of your message of 18th April 2003 and the contents were well understood. I was in the best of my happiest moment when I received your message confirming that both of you has come back as a Family. I have been praying for the TEEL Family and I am ensure that God is going to manifest in your lifes. You know the story of Abraham and Sarah, so nothing is impossible for Jesus Christ, you know how he raised Lazarus from the Grave, the same miracle will work in the Life of MR HOMER TEEL & EARLENE TEEL, in Jesus name


As regards to your efforts, I am happy that Mr Homer is involved, therefore, I will have nothing to do with Jimmy, even if he write to me I will tell him to contact you first, though I replied his last message to me, but I will not proceed with him again. Please, try as much as possible to ensure that the money gets to the Lawyer before Tuesday next week, it will surely be an advantage to the procedure of the payment.

I am looking forward to your positive news.

Thanks and God Bless.

Yours Faithfully,


Ah, but the plot thickens when Jimmy gets an answer:

Sat, 19 Apr 2003 1:46 PM


Dear Jim,

Thanks for your message of 18th April 2003 and the contents were well

understood. The reason for opening an account here is because the money in question will be drawn from our Central Bank of Nigeria by Certified Bank Draft and will be paid to the account that you will open in the new bank, it is from this bank that the money will be re-transfered directly to your account, it is the way it is done here when it comes to Contract payment to avoid conflicting issues with the Authority here.To deposit such big amount of money you dont need to open the account with USD$100, besides, Lawyer’s fee are included in the USD$1,250 requested because it is the Lawyer that will give the bank all the necessary documents and References for the activation of the account.

I know that you dont have enough knowledge about the plans of the transaction, that is why you are feeling in that manner, but I appreciate your questions because it is good for one to ask questions wherever he needs clarification.Until the account is opened, then you will start to understand the procedures of the transfer.It is left for you to decide whether to co-operate with me and do what you were asked to do because I dont mandate anybody to do business with me against his interest. This is my direct telephone number 00 234-1-7754429 in case you need to talk to me. Remember that I cannot do anything with you without the knowledge of Earlene because it is through her that I got to know you, therefore, I advise you to do the same.

I wish you the Best of Luck and God Blessings.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr Michael Steve.



Dear Jim,

I was about sending the above message to you before your recent message came, then I decided to give you this reply altogether. Thanks for your message and the contents were well understood. I am apologizing for the comment made by Earlene and I am really sorry for the misunderstanding between you and her Family, please, ensure that the problem is resolved immediately. As far as I am concerned I am ready to do business with you but you have to abide by the conditions of the transaction not doing things on how you feel. The way things are done in USA is not the way it is done here. If you are ready for us to proceed in this business, send a copy of your Scanned photograph passport to me, including your bank information, telephone and fax numbers respectively and ensure that the USD$1,250 is sent to the Lawyer to enable him go to the Bank to activate the account.

You can always talk to me on phone number 00 234-1-7754429, so you can call me for more clarification as soon as you receive this message now.

I wish you the best of Luck and God Bless.

Yours Faithfully,


I let him stew for a while, then finally get back to him Saturday night…

Sat, 19 Apr 2003 8:32 PM

Dear Michael,

Homer’s out for his bowling night, so I have a few minutes to respond to you privately. I’ll delete my message from my sent file before he gets home, so be sure you don’t quote me in your next reply. It’ll be our little secret.

Homer is a disgusting rotten pervert and I can’t wait to leave him. I’m going to apply for my passport tomorrow, and as soon as I have it, I’ll get on a plane to Nigeria. Which airport should I fly to, and can you meet me there? I don’t care if you’re married as long as you love me and I believe you do. Oh it will be so sweet to be together, and with all that money. I forget, how much of that 35 million did you say you were going to give me?

Is there any way you could send me some money now so I can get my passport and buy the airplane ticket? Homer is getting a loan from his 401k to open the bank account- he explained to me how that money can’t be traced back to you or you will get in trouble, but couldn’t you send me the money for the passport and plane? It should be about $1200, so we would be even.

I’m planning my escape now. Soon, no more Homer, just my 7 foot tall African hero! Oh how sweet it will be.

Love you so much,


P.S. Not a word to Jimmy, either. He’s not really like what I said before, Homer made me write that, but let’s keep him out of it, okay?

I hope he doesn’t notice that Jimmy and Earlene always respond within a short time of each other…

Sat, 19 Apr 2003 8:54 PM

Dr. Steve,

Okay, I’m confused: do I have to go through Earlene or not? I’d rather just do the deal with you and keep her in the dark, okay?

Now, let’s go over it again, okay?

If I understand it correctly, there is $35.5 million sitting in an account, right? And you can’t get it out unless you have an account to transfer it into that can’t be traced to you, right? If I set up the account and help you do the transfer, you’ll give me 35% of it, 5% goes for expenses, and the remaining 60% is for you and your friends, is that right?

Okay, here’s the thing. If anything goes wrong, I’m the one that will go to jail, right? I have to lie to bank and government officials in at least two countries, which could put me in prison for 20-30 years. This is not some ignorant little redneck lady you’re dealing with now.

You know if Earlene and that idiot do it, it will all get screwed up. This is a really critical deal and it could go very wrong. According to my research, the Gross National Income of Nigeria was US$290 million in 2001. That means this transfer you want to make represents about 12% of Nigeria’s economy. Don’t you think the government will notice that? This has to be handled delicately if it’s going to work at all. You guys think a few little bribes are all it will take? Even if the Nigerian government is that stupid, you can bet the US tax people will be all over it. Remember, the internet was invented by the US Department of Defense; do you really think they don’t keep an eye on it?

You’re just begging for trouble, sending out stuff like this in an unencrypted e-mail. Lucky for you that Earlene brought me into it or you’d all end up rotting in prison. I’ve been in the computer industry for a long time, I know what the risks are, and 35% is not enough for it. I want 50% or the deal is off.

Awaiting your response,


I don’t hear from Dr. Steve again until the next morning, which happens to be Easter Sunday. Meanwhile, a friend of mine has decided he wants to play too, so he’s sent a note to the good doctor. We’ll check in on him another time, but the fact that he gets an answer confirms for me that this guy is a criminal and deserves whatever he gets. So with a clear conscience, I wait for a response from Mikey.

Sun, 20 Apr 2003 07:18 AM

ATTN: Earlene

Dear Earlene,

As directed by you and Homer, I would only have something to do with Jimmy on your direction. I am asking you to have patience now till the completion of the business which is going to take few days as soon as the account is activated in the bank, then you and Homer will have enough money to get your passports and even visit Nigeria, therefore, I urge you to keep your cool and ensure that you stay in Harmony with your husband, Homer. For Jimmy, I will handle his matter carefully. Please, encourage Homer to hasten up with the arrangement and let him have some words across to me so that I will know the development.

I wish you the best of Easter and God Bless.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr Michael.

Jimmy gets another e-mail not long afterward. You have to admire the guy’s persistence!

Sun, 20 Apr 2003 08:14 AM


Dear Friend,

Thanks for your message of 19th April 2003 and the contents were well understood. I assure you that this business has no side effect now and in future, all the necessary documents as regards to the payment are much in place, therefore, no risk is involved. The step we have taken in this business is to ensure that the money is not questionable here and in USA, so going to jail is out of the point in this business.

As regards to the percentage, I have agreed with my colleagues to give you 40% instead of the initial agreed 35% and if the present percentage is not good for you, I am sorry that there is nothing we can do about it, then we can start looking for another person. No matter the circumstances, atlast, I will still ensure that a normal percentage share is given to Earlene and the Husband no matter who must have carried out the transaction with me, though I might not even mention the name of the person to them to avoid complications.

If you agree on the percentage share, all you need to do is to send a copy of your passport photograph to me through E-mail attachment, including your telephone and fax number, full address and Bank information, i.e, Name of your bank, its address, Account number and the beneficiaryâs name, telephone and fax numbers of the bank respectively, including the Swift / sorting code (if any). Also, ensure that you make the necessary arrangement to send the USD$1,250 to the lawyer so that he can start the process of activating the account in the bank. Like I informed you in my message of yesterday, you can always reach me on my direct telephone # 00 234-1-7754429 at any time if you need an urgent information.

Advise urgently.

Thanks and God Bless.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr Steve.

Since it’s Easter, I ignore Dr. Mike for the day. Monday morning, we’ve got mail.

Mon, 21 Apr 2003 12:55 AM


Attn: Mr Jim,

Dear Friend,

How was your Easter?. I expected you to give me a reply to my message of yesterday, but all my expectation was in vain, How is Earlene and have you heard from her?. I am still expecting your message on the required datas.

Advise urgently.

Thanks and God Bless.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Michael Steve.

Mon, 21 Apr 2003 12:57 AM


Attn: Mr Homer & Earlene Teel.

Dear Friends,

How was your Easter Holiday?. I hope that you guys enjoyed it very well?. If so, thanks to Almighty Jesus. I sent a message to you yesterday which I am yet to receive a reply, so please confirm if that message was received and let me know the update.

I am waiting for your urgent response.

Almighty God be with you.

Thanks and remain blessed.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Michaels.

Time for some drastic action….

Mon, 21 Apr 2003 4:34 PM


I need your help. I’ve applied for my passport, but it will take a couple of days to get it. Once I have it, I want to come to Nigeria. I need to leave as soon as possible, and I will bring all of our money with me in cash. We have about 20,000 in our savings.

The reason is, I have to get out of the US as soon as I can. There’s been an accident. On Sunday, while I was preparing our easter dinner, Homer and I got into a big fight over this money thing of yours. He yelled at me and said I had almost messed up everything by falling in love with you. He yelled and yelled and even slapped me for being a stupid woman. Finally I couldn’t take it any more. I was standing there in the kitchen crying and he was screaming at me for involving my nephew in our business and I couldn’t take it any more. The ham I had been slicing was there beside me with the knife on the plate and Homer came at me to hit me again and I stabbed him in the throat to make him shut up. I stabbed him over and over and the blood sprayed all over the kitchen. Finally he was dead, so I dragged him into the spare bedroom and wrapped him up in a plastic tarp.

I called in to his work this morning and told them he was sick and wouldn’t be in for a few days. I think I have about a week before anybody gets suspicious, and by then I’ll be long gone.

What is the name of the airport in Nigeria that I should go to? Will you meet me there? Please help me, your my only hope.


Well, that ought to shake things up a little.

Tue, 22 Apr 2003 5:28 AM

Attn: Earlene.

I received your message and the contents were well noted. I don’t believe you killing Homer, over an argument?. What for?. It is against God’s wish. Homer’s money is not important when he is dead. If it is true as I don’t believe it, if it is true all you need to do is to fly out of USA and go to any Island Country near your Country and stay there for the time being. Take your passport with you . Our Country has strong tie with USA and such things will not be accommodated here. I am not happy at all with the present news.

I am confused and has nothing to say about the present situation. What you should do now is to delete all correspondences between us to avoid involving yourself into more problems. Coming here will not solve the problem now, it will increase it, therefore, look for another Island or Country nearer USA to accommodate yourself now till the matters goes down. I am not happy with news now, so I am feeling seriously bad.


Dr Michael

He sounds worried! Woo hoo!

Tue, 22 Apr 2003 10:47 AM

Dr. Steve,

My Easter was fine, thanks for asking. I was at my mother’s house. She’s Earlene’s sister. We didn’t see my aunt on Easter, because Homer doesn’t like to go out much, so they have holidays at home and their mobile home is too small for them to entertain in. Just as well, my mother can’t stand Homer anyway.

By the way, have you heard from my aunt lately? I tried to call her yesterday, but there was no answer.

Getting back to business: I should have all the bank information you need pulled together today. I had a computer failure yesterday and just got your e-mail this morning.


I wait a few hours, then send this one:

Tue, 22 Apr 2003 3:20 PM

Dr. Steve,

Okay, I think I have everything you need now. My passport photo is attached, and here is my information as you requested:

telephone: 760-762-9103
fax number: 413-778-1103
full address: 632 Mergberger Rd., Rundfunk, CA 91275

Bank information
Name of your bank: Grand Fenwick Savings & Loan
bank address: 345 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101
Account number: 86-7-530-9

I don’t have the bank’s phone or fax numbers here, but I’ll get them when I go there to make the $1250 transfer.

The 40% percentage is okay I guess.


I have no idea who this guy is; I did a Google search for passport photos, and he was the lucky winner. All the info I gave is totally bogus…

telephone: a payphone at a rest-stop off Highway 58 in Boron, CA.

fax number: an e-fax number I set up; it goes to my e-mail.

full address: a nonsense address I stole from a friend.

Bank name: Grand Fenwick is the country in “The Mouse That Roared,” a great book and movie.

bank address: address of the Bonsai Cow, currently a vacant lot under construction.

Account number: 86-7-530-9 I slay me. It’s “Jenny’s” number, 867-5309. Oh, you know, the Classic Rock song. “Jenny, I got your number, I’m going to make you mine…”

I’m fairly certain I’ve gone too far. He’s going to check on the bank information for sure and then my game is up. Besides, I think he’s done with Earlene, especially after her next e-mail…

Tues, 22 Apr 2003 10:56 AM

You bastard! I was depending on you to help me in my time of need. Homer is dead and I don’t know what to do… my god what have I done.. I killed him and its your fault, I killed him for you. he was going to ruin everything and take your money. I don’t know anybody in any other country I can’t just pick up and go to cuba or wherever, you’r the only person I know outside the US and I need you to help me. Rescue me like you said you would, you told me you loved me, was that a lie??? Now you want me to delete all our e-mail so nobody knows it was your fault. You selfish bastard, I hope you burn in hell for what you did, just the way that I will for killing him. I hate you so much.

Well, I guess I set him straight. I got a response within about half an hour.

Wed 23 Apr 10:11 AM

ATTN: Mrs Earlene.

Dear Earlene,

Your message has been received and the contents were well understood. I thought that you were making a joke by saying that you killed Homer, I don’t believe it and I am confused on what to tell you because nothing has been prepared here to accommodate you, even the money you are talking about has not yet reached your hand, so how am I going to cope with the money arriving there. Why I suggested that you should leave to another Country before preparations will be made for you here is to ensure your safety, because coming directly to this place now will not help matters.

I have not in life believed that such misunderstanding could occur between you and Homer to that such a tragedy extent. Like I have informed you, the best thing you should do now to move to another Country and from there I could make necessary arrangement for you because the situation now is very impromptu and I cannot handle.

Take my advice and let me know your opinion. Why I asked you to delete your mails is just for your own sake, it has nothing to do with Homer and you, afterall, I was still replying you and him.

Let me know your situation.

Thanks and God be with you.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr Mike.

Better see if he’s cut me off yet…

Wed 23 Apr 10:47 AM


I’m sorry I called you names, I’m just so upset, and I need you to help me. You might be right about what I should do, I did a search with that google thing and found out that Belize has no extridition treaty with any other country so if I can get there I’ll be safe. My passport should be ready tomorrow and then I’ll go to the bank and get the money and then go to the airport. I will fly out of the Ontario Airport, but I need to figure out what airline to fly, I don’t think I can get directly to Belize from there I’ll have to change planes at a bigger airport I think.

I will take your phone number with me and when I get to Belize I’ll find out how to stay there for a while and then I’ll come to nigeria. I’m sorry for being mad it me, I thought you were abandoning me now that I screwed up everything by what I did to Homer. I couldn’t help it, Homer was so awful to me, he used to beat me up sometimes and yell at me about everything, and he kept me practically as a prisoner at home, checking up on me all the time and listening in on my phone calls, he was a horrible monster and I’m glad he’s dead. I didn’t kill him over this money thing, it’s been building for about 15 years, I just never had the courage to do it before, I was afraid of going to jail and I didn’t have any way to get out so I stayed and took it. Now its over and I can make plans for my life and I want to be with you..Can I be your girlfriend in nigeria? Your wife doesn’t need to know. In the bible, didn’t Solomon have somethign like 300 wives and a lot of girlfriends? I know its not the best thing but it’s not that bad. Not a s bad as murder anyway. Please tell me you still love me.



Holy cow! This guy never gives up!

Wed, 23 Apr 2003 4:42 PM

To: earlene@monkeyspit.net



Dear Earlene,

Your message of today has been received and noted. Your trip plan is in order and you should make it as quick as possible and get me informed wherever you are and I will get in touch.

Thanks and God Bless.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr Michael.

About two minutes later…

Wed, 23 Apr 2003 4:41 PM

To: jim@comicbookresources.com

Subject: URGENT



Thanks for your message of today 23rd April 2003 and the contents were well understood. Your request is not wrong, I will send a copy of my international passport to you by fax tomorrow because I dont have scanner machine now, but if I get one in any internet cafe here, I will try to send it to you from there.

Your request will be in your hand tomorrow morning, so please try your best to ensure that you arrange for the sending of the money to the Lawyer tomorrow because I dont want anything to delay the activation of the account this week.

I will get back to you tomorrow.

Thanks and God Bless.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr Michael.

Time to yank the chain a little more:

Wes 23 Apr 2003 5:56 PM

Dr. Steve,

After I wire the money to you, how long will it take to conclude the

transaction and give me my share? I’m going to need a lot of money very

quickly. My aunt Earlene is in some really big legal trouble that I can’t go

into now, and I need to help pay for a lawyer. It’s a real mess, but I can’t

talk about it. If this transaction is going to take more than a few days to

wrap up, then I might not be able to wire the $1250. Please let me know soon

so I can decide what my options are.



Dr. Steve is possibly the stupidest scammer on earth:

Wes 23 Apr 2003 7:40 PM


Dear Friend,

Thanks for your email and the contents were clearly noted and well understood. Infact, i was very shock when i heard you say that your aunt was in big problem, please explain because i was not happy hearing such words ok.

As per your question, as soon as we receive the money today, your account will be activate latest by monday the money will be in your account.

I have told you that i m’ going to send you my international passport and contact address by tomorrow you don;t have any problem ok.

Thanks and God bless.

Best regards.

Dr.Michael steve.

And that brings us to the present moment. Here’s my next e-mail to him, which I’m sending out in a few minutes

Wes 23 Apr 2003 5:56 PM

Dr. Steve,

I can’t say a lot, because the lawyer told me not to say anything to anybody, but here’s what was in the newspaper this morning:

Adelanto- An Adelanto man was found murdered in his home yesterday, and his wife was arrested a few hours later while attempting to close his checking account. Homer Teel, age 47, was discovered by a Gas Company employee who noticed a foul odor while taking a meter reading. He looked through the window and saw what appeared to be a body wrapped in plastic sheeting, and called police.

An alert was put out for his wife Earlene, age 44. Monday morning, Earlene had called Teel’s employer and told them he was sick and would not be in for a few days. At the time of her arrest, she was at the Adelanto branch of Grand Fenwick Savings and Loan attempting to withdraw $19,000 from Teel’s checking account. Packed suitcases were found in her car, along with her passport and a printout of an online reservation for a plane ticket to Belize.

That’s all I can tell you now. Sorry to involve you in this family mess.



And now we wait…

The fun concludes in Part 3!

Be sure to check out our other Scam Baiting pages at The In-Box!

Rant-Man’s Notebook: Customer Serviced Part 2, and Other Tales

When last we spoke, I was waiting not-so-patiently for my new computer to be delivered. Here’s what’s transpired since then. Last Wednesday I called the company (IO Sales of San Jose, CA, doing business online as eDOT Direct, though they also call themselves Advanced Vision) and asked where the computer is. They told me it would be here on Monday the 17th, and I told them that if it wasn’t I would cancel the order. That’s where we left off.

So Monday, there’s no computer. About 4:45 or so, I call them again, and talk to an argumentative young man who tried to explain to me that February 25 to March 17 is only 14 days. Never mind that they never told me it would take 14 days; actually, on March 6, the woman I spoke to told me it would take three days. In any case, the guy was so thick-headed I found myself yelling at him. I started to say something, and he cut me off with another mealy-mouthed excuse, so I said “I’m the customer; that means I’m right!” I was really fed up with them.

Here’s a tip if you work in customer service: don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. This idiot actually tried to tell me that the delivery was delayed because they had to verify my credit card, so it was my fault. He didn’t want to discuss the fact that it took them 11 days to figure that out, and then a week later forgot that they had already done it. He kept saying “we didn’t do anything wrong.” I told him that they hadn’t done anything right.

He ran through his excuses again and told me to be patient, that the Mac would be delivered “tomorrow or Wednesday.”

“I’M CANCELLING THE ORDER!” I screamed into the phone. He told me that I would have to pay the shipping charge for returning it. I told him that I certainly would not, that I would dispute the bill with the credit card company. I told him that their company has the worst customer service I have ever encountered in over thirty years, and that they ought to be put out of business.

He yelled back, “you should be out of business too, you stupid idiot!” and hung up the phone.

I called up my credit company and spoke to a very nice and helpful woman in the dispute resolution department. Told her the whole story, informed her that I had cancelled the order, but that I believed the company would fight the refund, so I wanted to get it on file immediately. She put me on hold and called the guy at IO Sales/eDOT/Advanced Vision/whatever other dubious name they operate under. Eventually she came back and told me that the guy had assured her the computer would be delivered on “Wednesday or Thursday” (gee, he told me Tuesday or Wednesday; truth-impaired or what?), and that I should just refuse the shipment and they would take it back. She also promised me that she would put a note in the file and make sure I got a full refund from them, with no shipping charge.

It was so nice to talk to a competent person who knew how to do her job instead of that fly-by-night incompetent who’s probably operating out of his garage and wouldn’t know customer service if it bit him on the butt.

The saga continues. Meanwhile I’m still shopping for a Mac.

In other news…

We have a new addition to the household. My oldest daughter had spent the last couple of months browsing ads online, finally finding one that caught her interest. She wanted to meet this one, so she answered the ad, and then I had to drive her (and the rest of the family) about 50 miles in the rain to meet him. His name is Duncan. That’s a good beginning, since my great-great-great-grandfather was named Duncan. It seemed like a good sign. He’s young, but very friendly and outgoing, and the whole family was immediately taken with him.

So what’s he like? Well, he’s black, about average size for his age, very intelligent and completely charming.

He’s nine weeks old, and he’s a labrador retriever.

Two of our cats took refuge inside the floorboards in the bathroom we recently demolished and only came out today. The third one set about laying plans for an assassination the moment he laid eyes on Duncan.

So far it’s interesting.

Before we drove to East Pootwaddle to pick up the dog, I led a five-mile hike for the Boy Scouts through the city of Sierra Madre, a wonderful little town best known for serving as the setting of the 1956 movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” It still looks the same. We assembled in a parking lot not far from where the pods were distributed, and the rain began to pick up. I told everybody that we could reschedule the hike if they wanted, that we didn’t have to do it in the rain, but that if anybody wanted to hike, I would lead it despite the rain. A few people bolted for their cars, but 22 of them decided to go for it. We were thoroughly drenched by the time we finished three hours later. My jacket finally dried out yesterday.

So, no, I do not have enough sense to come in out of the rain. But you knew that, didn’t you?

Rant-Man’s Notebook: Scamming the Scammer

I get a lot of e-mail. If I go a day without checking all my addresses, I’ll usually have upwards of 60 e-mails piled up the next morning, not counting the stuff that gets zapped by the Spaminator.

One of the e-mails that I get a lot of, aside from offers to refinance my house or sell me viagra, is the famous Nigerian 419 letter. (419 is the section of the Nigerian criminal code that covers fraud.) These are the letters where some poor soul in Africa has found out about a pile of money sitting in a dead account somewhere, and they can only get it out by transferring it to a foreign bank account, and may we please use yours? Naturally, if you agree to this preposterous proposition, they will empty your account. Worse, there have been reports of people falling for the story and flying to Nigeria to collect the money, only to be kidnapped and robbed or murdered.

Like most people, I routinely deleted these letters. But about a week ago, while checking out the referral logs (a backstage part of Monkey Spit where we can see how many visitors we get, what pages they’re looking at, what site they linked from, etc.) to see where people are coming from, and in following the links I found myself at the Ebola Monkey’s Page (note, this site is not appropriate for children) and a whole new world opened up to me. The Ebola Monkey calls himself a “scam baiter;” he figures that every minute of the scammer’s time that he wastes is a minute when the dirtbag isn’t scamming somebody else. It’s a public service.

So of course I couldn’t wait to try it myself. In the tradition of 84 Charing Cross Road, and other great works of literature that used the device of recording correspondence, I present a conversation between one “Dr. Michael Steve,” A would-be scammer from Nigeria, and “Earlene Teel,” a middle-aged woman of my own creation. Enjoy.

It all started when I got this e-mail:

Sun, 06 Apr 2003 1:59 AM

DIRECT E-MAIL:michael_st20022000
TEL/FAX 234-8034-009050

Dear Sir,


I am DR. MICHAEL STEVE, an accountant with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). My position is very sensitive. I am married with children and holds degree in Accountancy and Business Studies. I am due for retirement any moment from now, after many years in service. I require urgently you unreserved assistance in providing me with safe and reliable BANK ACCOUNT with full details viz: Name and Address of the Bank, telephone and fax numbers of the Bank including the Beneficiary’s name anywhere in the World where I can transfer the sum of USD$35.5 Million only. The purpose of the transfer is to take care of my retirement by investing in variable business your might deem fit to advise.

Since the inception of the present Government, series of contracts have been awarded, based on this, the above sum (USD$35.5million) has shown in record as surplus of some of the over-invoiced contracts carried out in the last developmental quarter. Presently, I have arranged for the money to be kept in a coded bank account the with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) until I am able to source for a reliable Expatriate partner whom I can present as the Beneficiary of the funds. You will take the status of the contractor who executed the contract and I will arrange the supportive documents for the transfer.

35% will go to you for making available to us a company or personal Bank Account Number, giving me your unreserved assistance and keeping strictly the rules of this transaction until transfer of the funds is effected 5% is for any contingencies and all miscellaneous expenses incurred during the course of the transaction, procurement of vital documents, tips and all expenses including telephone/fax bills, taxes and bank charges must be reconciled upon confirmation of the payment by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). 60% will be shares between me and few colleagues whose help will be highly needed throughout this period in question.

Everything about this transaction is real, the money is Clean, after putting in so many years in service, it is only normal for me to take good measures to secure my period in retirement. I have put in resources and time to bring this transaction to this level, which means that it represents a lot to me and hopefully with help from you, in just a matter of weeks, it shall come to mean a lot to you too as we meet in your country to celebrate to enable us commence effective process to finalize this matter.

Thanking you for anticipated co-operation.

Yours sincerely,


Well. Looks like we got a live one here. Let’s put out some bait and see if he takes it. So I invented Earlene Teel. I borrowed her first name from somebody I knew in college 20 years ago who wouldn’t go out with me, so this is payback, and her last name came from a guy I know who lives in Texas, and was chosen because it sounds a little rednecky. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Sun, 06 Apr 2003 9:55 PM

Dear Dr. Steve,

That’s funny; my OB/GYN is named Steven, and I call him Dr. Steve! It makes it almost seem like I already know you. But oviously I don’t since you called me Sir. I’m not a sir, I’m a ma’am. My name is Earlene Teel.

Your e-mail has me a little confused, I’m not real sure wnat you want me to do. I don’t have no 35 million like you’re talking about, so I don’t see how I can help you. I’d like to help you if I could, I like to help people… I think God wants us to help people. So tell me how I can help you and I’ll do what I can and God will bless me for it, right?

Are you a Christian? My faith is real important to me, and I hope yours is too. The reason I ask is I just reread your letter again and in all that talking about this money with 60% this and 5% that and I don’t know what all, you didn’t say anything about tithing. You know that the tenth part belongs to the Lord and you need to give it to Him. Remember what Malachi 3:10 says– “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

Anyway, I hope you are well and that you get this money thing straightened out. I know how hard it is to get by when you don’t have enough to make ends meet. But God always provides if you trust Him.



DING! We have a winner! Michael Steve is eager to make a deal…

Thur, 10 Apr 2003 5:18 AM

Dear Earlene,

thanks for your immediate responds for assisting me on this mutual business may God bless you.

Infact, i feel happy when i saw your message.Before we proceed, i will like to introduce my self to you. I am an accountant working with NNPC, am married with three children.So, i believe that God almighty father we serve will guide and protect us in this business.

As per the money we need to secure the documents from our variouse ministries here in Nigeria and the document will be send to you as the original contractor who execute the contract. Now, i need your name and your address or where you work so that we can use it to obtain the documents.You don’t need to have any bias mind towards this business because it’s 100% risk free.

I will be sending you my international passport so that you will know whom you are dealing with and you as well send me yours ok.

As soon as the money is transfered into your account, i will now arrange my family to come over for the sharing of the money and i will also look for lucratic business that i will intent to invest part of my money into.so, please i know you will handle this business with trust and believe you will not deny me as soon as the money get into your account. Send me your telephone number and your fax number where i can get in touch with you so easy.

Looking forwards to hear from you.

Thanks and God bless.

Dr. michael steve.


As I figured, he jumped on the religious angle. He’s going to make himself out to be the most righteous man since Enoch; surely such an upstanding man of God couldn’t possibly be a crook, right? Let’s find out…

Thu, 10 Apr 2003 7:27 AM

Dr. Steve,

How nice to hear from you. I think I should tell you a little more about myself since you were so good as to tell me about yourself. I’m 44 (but I look 35), married with no children (Homer wasn’t able to have them after the war wound), and we live in a mobile home park in Adelanto, California. That’s out by the Roy Rogers Museum. Do you like Roy Rogers movies? I think he was a great man, and good lookin’ too. Homer works at the prison as a guard, and I run a little antiques business and sell things on Ebay. Not a lot of money, but we get by.

Now, about this money, I’m still not real clear on what it is I’m supposed to do to help you. And you still haven’t said whether or not your going to tithe on this money like I asked you before. What church do you belong to? Do they teach tithing? If not, you need to get yourself into a good Assemblies of God church with a strong preacher to tell you the Word.

Anyway, I don’t have a passport, so I can’t send you that. I can scan a picture and send it if you want to see what I look like. I have a real cute one here. I also dont have a fax machine or anything like that, and I cant send you my phone number, because Homer always answers the phone and gets real jealous if its a man calling. He always thinks I’m cheeating on him, and its just not true! Well, there was that one time with the box boy at the Stop n Shop, but that was years ago and you would think he would be over it by now. I mean really!

So I think we should just keep this to email for the time being, cause Homer hates teh computer and wont go near it at all, so he never knows what email I’m getting or from who. He’s kinda dumb that way, but I love him anyhow.

Now, like I said before, I don’t have no 35 million dollars like you talked about in your first note, but I can send you maybe $20 if it will help you out of this jam your in. But I would think that an accountant like you wouldn’t have no money troubles. Are you a doctor of accounting? Or are you like a medical doctor, because I have this itchy thing on my arm that I’m a little worried about. Can you tell me about it?

Well, that’s about all for now. Thanks for writing me back, I love to have pen pals.



I thought this might have been too much; there’s no way he’s going to buy it. But lo and behold, here he comes again. Now at this point, I have to remind you not to feel sorry for this guy; he is the scum of the earth. He steals from little old ladies. He’s trying like hell to steal from Earlene right now. Do not feel sorry for him. He more than deserves whatever I do to him, okay?

Mon, 14 Apr 2003 7:45 AM

Attn: Mrs Earlene.

Dear Earlene,

I am in receipt of your messages and the contents were well understood. First of all I want to tell you that I am not a Medical Doctor, but a doctorate degree holder in Accountancy. Again, I want you to understand that my contact with you is a divine connection, because I was born into Assemblies of God Church, my Father is one of the Key elders that brought this Church to my Communication, at present I am still worshipping at Assemblies of God Church, No 3 Metropolitan College Road, Isolo, Lagos, Nigeria, it is a big Assembly here and the Reverened Pastor is a Man that God has been using to bless us and preach his Gospel in the right direction. Your suggestion that all our communications should be through E-mail to avoid the interference of your Husband is duly welcomed by me.

If you dont have any international passport, it is still okay, what you will do is to Scan your picture and send it to me, I will do so as well, besides, the USD$20 you want to send to me is not the problem, but to secure the USD$35.5 Milllion involved in this business that I am introducing to you. The USD$35.5 Million I am talking about is a Commission realized from a Contract executed by a Foreign Company in our Corporation (NNPC), but as civil Servants we cannot claim this money on our own without presenting a Foreign Partner as the claimant, that is why I wrote to you so that we can present you to claim the money here. This USD$35.5 Million is in a bank here, all you need to do is to open an account with the bank here and when the account has been activated, the USD$35.5 Million will be deposited in that account, then the fund will be transfered from this bank account to any of your bank in USA or any other place, then myself and other two colleagues involved in this business will come over to USA to receive our share because we intend investing our share in USA. As an oustanding Born again Christian, I understand the essence of paying tithe and it should be done accordingly when the money arrives to you. I hereby give you the datas of the bank now so that you can contact them for the account activation, thus:- FIRST CITY MONUMENT BANK.You will be required to open the account ONLINE, therefore, I hereby forward the WEBSITE of the bank to you so that you can contact them immediately for more information, the website is www.1stcitymbank.com When you open the aforementioned site, CLICK on ONLINE BANKING, then another page will open for you, then CLICK on “YOU DONT HAVE AN ACCOUNT? OPEN ONE NOW,CLICK HERE”. and another page will open again for an ACCOUNT OPENING FORM”, then fill the empty spaces as contained therein, after-which you will finally CLICK on the SUBMIT Column and send the filled information to the Bank and as soon as they receive your information, they will contact you immediately with more details on when they are to effect your transfer.

You should ensure that you always get me informed with your regular communication with the bank because I can only know the progress through you, hence I will expect you to confirms to me that they have given you the account number as soon as it has been activated. If you need further information, please dont hesitate to get in touch with me immediately.

Thanks and Best Regards,

Yours in Christ,

Dr Michael Steve.

Mon, 14 Apr 2003 2:22 PM

Dear Michael,

May I call you Michael? Dr. Steve just sounds so formal, and I think we’ve become good enough friends to just use first names. I’m so glad to hear that your a good church-going man. Its so refreshing to find one these days. When Homer and I started dating, he told me he was a christian, but after we got married I figured out that he was lying. He only went to church when I asked him to, and now he doesn’t go at all. The Bible says we’re not supposed to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, so I’ve been thinking about leaving him, but I didnt want to be alone.

After you get this money, are you planning to stay in the usa? I really think we have something of a relationship developing here. But there’s time enough to talk about that later.

I tried to set up that bank account like you asked me to, but I couldn’t get it to work. It said that my “browser” is too old and doesn’t support 128-bit encryption, whatever that is. I think they mean my Netscape, or it’s because my computer is really old and its a macintosh that my nephew gave me so I could get email. Its really slow, but the new ones are so expensive. I’ll call my nephew and ask him if he can help me get this set up for you. He’s a good boy. His name is Jimmy and he’s my sister Bobbie Sue’s son. I’m sure he can help me, but I might have to tell him about the money. Is that okay?

One more thing about this money, it sounds like maybe your not supposed to take it if you have to go through all this stuff to get it, asking me to open a bank account for you and all that. Is this stealing? I mean I’m flattered that you asked me. Homer thinks I’m too stupid to handle money. I swear I’m beginning to hate that man, especially since I found you.

All my love,


Surely the photo will scare him off. I have no idea who this person is; I thought about what names might have been popular around 1958 or so, settled on one, typed it into Google’s image search, and found this picture. She has nothing to do with this, so if you know her, let me know if she has a sense of humor. If not, I’ll apologize.

Later on Monday, I got another piece of scam-spam. This time it’s a fake lottery, so I worked it into the narrative…

Mon, 14 Apr 2003 3:55 PM

My darling Michael,

i can’t stop thinking about you. I hope you liked the photo I sent you. My nephew Jimmy scanned it for me. Please send your picture soon.

Good news! I won a lottery! I got this e-mail today. It says I’m not supposed to tell anybody yet, but i trust you. Funny thing is, they want me to give them my bank account number so they can transfer the money to me. Won’t that be funny? Do you think the bank people will be surprised if I get a transfer of $2,500,000, and then get another one with the $35 million you’re sending! I bet the teller’s eyes will pop.

As soon as I get this lottery money, I’m leaving Homer and coming to Nigeria. Won’t that be great?



Here’s the e-mail about the lottery:



REF:OYL / 26410660038/02
BATCH: 26/00919/IPD

Dear Sir / Madam,


We are pleased to inform you of the announcement Today, 13th APRIL 2003, of winners of the BANK GIRO PROMO LOTTERY THE NETHERLANDS, INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM held on 6th January 2003.

Your name is attached to the ticket number 0233-0148-1733-326; with serial number 5073-22 drew the lucky numbers 43-11-44-37-10-43, and consequently won the lottery in the 3rd category.

You have therefore been approved for a lump sum pay of US$ 2,500.000.00 in cash credited to file REF NO.OYL/25041238013/02.This is from total prize money of US$50,400.000.00 shared among the Seventeen International winners in this category. All participants were selected through a computer Ballot system drawn from 25,000 names from AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, AMERICA EUROPE, NORTH AMERICA and ASIA as part of international promotions program, which is conducted annually.


Your fund is now deposited with a security company insured in your name .Due to the mix up of some numbers and names. We ask that you keep this award strictly from public notice until your claim has been processed and your money remitted to your account.

This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming or unscrupulous acts by participants of this program. We hope with a part of your prize you will participate in our end of our year high stakes US$1.3billion international lottery.

To begin your claim, please contact your claim agent:


E-mail: vlanghouth@consutant.com. For due processing and remittance of your prize money to a designated account of your choice. Remember, all prize money must be claimed not later than 30th April 2003. After this date, all funds will be returned as unclaimed.

NOTE: In order to avoid unnecessary delays and complication, please remember to quote your reference and batch numbers in every one of your correspondences with your agent.

Furthermore, should there be any change of your address, do inform your claims agent as soon as possible. Congratulations again from all our staff and thank you for being part of our promotions program.



Tues, 15 Apr 2003 3:44 PM



I am in receipt of your message and the contents were well understood including your scanned picture, I will surely send mine to you immediately but that will be in my next correspondence because I dont know how to do it myself, so I have to go to a nearby internet Cafe to do it for me. I have developed alot of interest in you because there are alot of things that holds us in common, I wouldn’t go too far now. I am not just a church goer, but an outstanding Christian from Birth. You should understand when someone is born into Assenblies of God Church, he or she should be a discplined person as you should know that the doctrines of Assemblies of God Church differs from what the World is doing now.

If Homer has been deep in Christ, he will not watch a day past without talking to God. Anyway, lets go straigth to the point. It could have been very excellent if you have communicated with the Bank by yourself instead of involving Jimmy as you would not want your Husband to know about the business because whatever two people hears is no more a confidential issue, therefore, in my own opinion I would have advised that Jimmy should be left alone in this aspect of the bank. What you need is an updated Computer or you go to any nearby Internet Cafe around your city to do the browsing.

Concerning the Lotttery issue, I will advise you to forget everything about it because it is doesn’t work, I have been deceived in Spain before through the same process. How do you think that you can win a lottery in Amsterdam, it is a bullshit story.

The business we have in hand is what matters for now and if everything goes well we are sure to meet soon, you can as well fly to Nigeria any time you wish because I am here for you. I am a tall handsome Man of 7 Feet, so everything you need in a Man is complete in me, but not that I am encouraging you to abandon your Homer. I have arranged with a Lawyer here now to open the account in the bank on your behalf, so what he needs from you is a scanned passport Photograph and some opening balance amount for the account, and I forgot to ask the lawyer how much it will cost to open the account in that bank, I will do so tomorrow and get back to you.

The Bank will need two references for you to open the account, that is why I involved the Services of the Lawyers to do so since it has been very difficult for you to link up with the Bank through your internet PC.

I informed the Lawyers that the account is being opened in your name, so they believe that you are in charge of everything, so I am acting as if I am just there to assist you. I am not stealing this money, but if I dont take the money as it has come my way, others will take it, that means that I am a foolish Person. With such amount available I will pay my tithes and help the needys, buy a carnal Man will just use it for his personal enjoyments. It is good for the Children of God to be rich rather than devilish peopel, read Isaiah 45 Verse 2 & 5, Jeremaiah 33 verse 3, Phillipines 4 verse 6 & 7.

If you cannot connect to website of the bank now, all you need to do is to arrange for a coloured passport photograph and send it to me, give the full name and address you would want them to use in opening the account. Any address you provide for the opening of the account will be alright for it and then I will inform you tomorrow how much it will cost to activate the account in the bank.

I want you to be happy always and be joyful to almight Jesus. I will arrange for some of Video crusades here and send it to you through any courier Service because I know it will uplift your faith more. We dont do anything here than to worship God because Life is not easy in this Third world Countries as it is in America. I will appreciate your urgent response to this message. Thanks and God be with you.


From: Steve.

Tue, 15 Apr 2003 4:04 PM

Sweet Michael,

I’m glad you liked the photo.

Don’t worry about Jimmy. i haven’t told him anything at all. I had him scan my picture for me and I asked him about how I can get a better computer. There aren’t any internet cafes around here, I live in the middle of the California desert a hundred miles from anywhere. I hate it here, but Homer took this job at the prison after he got out of the marines and now I’m stuck here. At least I was stuck here until I got the e-mail from you. you’re my lifeline, my rescuer. As soon as this money thing is done, I’ll be able to get away from the loud stupid oaf.

What about you? Are you going to leave your wife and children, or am I just a fling for you?

Anyway, I’m waiting to hear back from Jimmy about the computer (don’t worry, I won’t tell him anything, and anyway, he hates Homer and never talks to him) since I can’t get to an internet cafe. And like I told you before, I don’t have a passport, so I don’t have a passport photo to send you. I’ll try to find out where to get one. I’ve never been out of California, so I’m really excited about going to Nigeria! Do the people there like Americans? I know some countries don’t especially with all this war stuff.

Maybe you could loan me the money to get the new computer, and then I can pay you back when we get this $35 million straightened out? IS that possible?

You’re really 7 feet tall? Wow! I want to see your picture, I want to see what my hero looks like!

Love always,


Wed, 16 Apr 2003 10:13 AM


My Love!

Thanks for your instant response to my message and the contents were well understood. It is terrible for one to be stucked in a particular place for a longer time, it is makes life very boring, you will be out of that mess soon. It is nice that you kept the entire information out of Jimmy. As far as I have found true Love anything can happen to my marriage, all I need is my happiness and to respect the Word of God. We shall come to that aspect later. As a matter of fact, the Lawyers has completed the necessary documents for the opening of the account on your behalf with First City Monument Bank and all that is required from you now is to send to them an opening balance of USD$1,250 to activate the account so that the USD$35.5 Million can be deposited in that account before it will be finally wired to USA. The Lawyers believe that the money belongs to you and they are expecting this USD$1,250 to be sent to them from USA to activate the account in the bank, so it is not advisable for me to make it known to the Lawyers that I am part of the money, in this case, if you dont have USD$1,250, please look for somebody to give you a Loan now and send it to the lawyer here now so that they can activate the account in the bank to enable us deposit the USD$35.5M. We hope to pay the Loan back on Tuesday next week with an interest on top and then you can go to any good shop to buy a quality Computer for your use.

We want to ensure that the account is activated tomorrow because without its activation, the USD$35.5 Million cannot be received by the bank. You will send the USD$1,250 to the Lawyer through WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER OR MONEY GRAM, it is the fastest way of sending money world-wide and it will be received in a hours time afters sending it. All you need to do is to send to me the name, Control numbers and question & answer code of the sender and the amount sent, as soon as it is received here, the Lawyer will pick the money from the western Union Money transfer or Money Gram Office here and pay it to the bank for the activation of the account. Go to your post Office or any nearby Bank to you and enquire from them the Western Union Money Transfer or Money Gram office in your city, they will explain to you. This is the particulars of the lawyer for the purpose of sending the USD$1,250 to him, thus:-


I have gone to a nearby internet cafe around my city but they told me that their Computers are on repair because of Virus problems and they have asked me to come on Friday morning for the scanning of my picture which I will forward to you as soon as the internet cafe is in order. I am very happy with you and will not wait longer to meet you.

I wish you the best of luck and God Bless.

Yours Love,

Dr Michaels.

Wed, 16 Apr 2003 10:34 AM

Dear one,

I’m trying to borrow the money from my nephew. I hope he’ll give it to me today. Then I can set up this account and do that money transfer thing for you.

Once that’s done, I’ll be able to be free of Homer and I can come to you.

I’m so glad you warned me about that lottery being fake. If I had given them my bank account information like they asked, would they have been able to take my money? That’s terrible.

I’ll e-mail you again as soon as I hear from Jimmy about the loan.



Wed, 16 Apr 2003 2:46 PM



I am in receipt of your instant reply to my message of today 16th April 2003 and the contents were well understood. I will be very glad and grateful if you can get the money and send it to the Lawyer today as I earlier specified to you because we need to conclude everything about the account activation by tomorrow morning (our Time) to ensure that the money in question is credited to the account for onward transfer.

We will pay an interest on the money borrowed, so that is not the problem. I am urging to meet you soon. This is my direct telephone number 00 234-1-7754429 incase you need to talk to me anytime, you can give me a short call from a public phone just to tell me some nice words.

My almighty Jesus will grant you eternal joy and happiness.

Stay well and keep yourself clean. I am expecting your urgent message.

Thanks and Good Luck.

Love from,

Dr Michael.

Keep yourself clean??? Time for a change of players. Next up is Earlene’s husband Homer.

Wed, 16 Apr 2003 2:57 PM

What the hell is this?

My name is Homer Teel and I want to know just what the hell is going on here. I thought my wife was acting wierd shutting down the computer every time I walked in the room so I made her show me her email and she told me all about you. Typical foreigner tryin to steal my woman. Well okay you can have her!!! I’m throwing the stupid tramp out of the house so you probally wont be able to email her anymore but I went through all the notes you sent her and if you want somebody to help you get this money out of that bank youll have to deal with me, got it? Ill set up an account and let you know when its up and then youll give me the money right?

You arent going to give me any crap about it either and you aren’t going to steal my wife either!!!


I wonder how long I can yank this guy’s chain?

Try it, it’s fun!

Rant-Man’s Notebook: A Nation of Wimps

A Nation of Wimps

If you’ve been reading the Stella Awards (no, not that stupid collection of urban legends you got in your e-mail; the TRUE Stella Awards, published by Randy “This is True” Cassingham), you know that we’ve got a real problem in this country with people blaming others for their own stupidity. If you’ve been reading my babblings for a while, you probably remember my comments about the Funsuckers, the people who run around sucking the fun out of everything. We’ve got a real problem with people thinking they should be protected from every conceivable hazard. I think I’ve finally figured out a part of the reason why.

No, it isn’t the lawyers. Yes, trial lawyers eat their young, and the personal-injury leeches who show up on late-night TV promising to get you millions of dollars for being an idiot are the worst of the lot, but tort reform isn’t gonna fix the problem. Besides, do we really want to ask lawyers to fix the problem? Do we really think they will? No, it’s much deeper than that, but let’s start with one little source of the problem.

The problem is we are becoming a nation of wimps. Used to be, if you did something stupid, somebody would say “ooh, that looked like it hurt. Did it?” If you admitted that it did, they’d say “Won’t do that again, willya? See, you’re smarter now. You learned something today.” And that was the end of it. Not anymore. Now, you don’t even get the chance to do anything stupid, and if you do, the pile of safety guards and protective gear you’re using will keep you safe, even if it does prevent you from using the thing properly. But that’s just another symptom. Why are we becoming a nation of wimps?

I suspect that part of the problem is people waiting longer to have kids. Back when I was a kid, people started their families when they were in their early 20s or even younger. Now they’re waiting until their 30s and 40s. But how can this matter? Consider this: when you and your friends climbed up on the roof to jump into the pool, or fought duels with pointy sticks, or played Evel Kinevel on your Schwinn Stingray bikes, your parents were either oblivious or unconcerned; kids will be kids. Ah, but the little old ladies… they had a problem with it. The grannies in the neighborhood went into fluttering conniptions, terrified that you would Fall And Break Your Neck or Put Someone’s Eye Out or Start A Fire. Fortunately, the grannies and other little old ladies had no power. All they could do was twitter and fret while you collected battle scars and stories.

The little old ladies were in their 40s, 50s and 60s…. the same age as the mothers of today. The people who would have been grannies and granpas in the old days are moms and dads now, and that makes all the difference. They’ve forgotten what it was like to be a kid, and they’ve collected a couple of decades of horror stories, and gotten set in their ways, and they’ve slowed down–they can’t keep up with their active tots, so they have to slow THEM down.

My wife works in the after-school program in an affluent community; the kids are the children of scientists, university professors, lawyers, doctors, people in the entertainment industry. These are not stupid people. They’re smart, successful in their careers… and completely paralyzed by fear and worry as only little old ladies can be. There’s one kid, a bright, healthy, active, normal kid. His parents make him wear a helmet to school. There’s nothing wrong with him except that he’s been saddled with parents who are SURE he’s going to end up with a massive head injury. They have a whole shopping list of things he’s not allowed to do; basically anything that looks fun. Fortunately for him, the school staff has more sense than that, and he gets to participate in the normal activities despite the parents’ paranoia.

My bride told me about this, and I thought about it for a while, and finally I asked her how old the parents are. In their 50s. When I explained my theory to her, she told me that all of her most difficult parents are over 40, and all of her most difficult children have parents over 40. I think the kids are difficult because they’re being smothered to death.

But the bigger problem is, these overprotective worrywarts are smothering the rest of us as well. it’s not enough for them to make sure that they don’t eat junk or breathe cigarette smoke, they have to make sure the rest of us don’t either.

Another parent I know told me about a time when she organized a field trip to a museum. One of the parents was completely stricken with terror at the prospect of driving into the city. Not because she’s afraid of driving on the freeway or anything like that; no, this one was petrified at the idea that her kid might see a homeless person. “What will I say?!!?!??” she cried. The idea of having to explain the concept of poverty to her pampered and sheltered little angel practically unhinged her. She thinks she’s doing her kid a favor.

My mom once told me it’s easier to put on shoes than to carpet the world, but these people haven’t heard that. Plus, they compensate for depriving their kids of any kind of character-building risks by indulging them with luxuries. In other words, they are systematically raising a generation of soft, weak, frightened, impatient, spoiled, materialistic, dull-witted, apathetic, selfish children, who will age but never mature. Hothouse flowers. The real world will crush them like daisies.

The upside is, kids like mine will have no trouble taking over the world.

The Smartest Man You Never Heard of

This week I got to spend a few hours burning CDs for the Mount Lowe Preservation Society, Inc., which reminded me how interesting that place is. So I’m gonna bore you with some details.

The reason for telling you all this is that there are probably some places near you that are every bit as interesting as Mount Lowe, build by people every bit as interesting as Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe, and you probably don’t know about them either, and maybe this will nudge you to go find them. Aside from that, there’s the fact that T.S.C. Lowe is probably the smartest man you never heard of.

Thaddeus Lowe was born in New Hampshire in 1832. His family was very poor, to the point that he was handed over to a neighboring farm as a child, there to work as a farmhand. While working to earn his keep, he noticed that clouds at a certain altitude always moved east at a consistent speed, even when clouds at lower altitudes were moving west. From this he reasoned that there must be an air current that traveled in that direction consistently. He figured that if a person were able to get to that altitude, the wind stream would carry him across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. He determined to try it, and that began his interest in ballooning. At 11, he ran away from the farm and made his way to Portland, Maine, the largest and closest city to the area, 100 miles away. It took him two years to reach Portland. The main reason he left was that the family he had been given to refused to allow him any schooling. They had no books, and considered him a servant with too much to do to waste time filling his head with idle nonsense like an education.

Eventually, after working as a cobbler and other jobs, Lowe became the assistant to a traveling showman named Professor Reginald P. Dincklehoff, who performed an exhibition of science and magic. Part of the show involved the creation of hydrogen by putting metal filings into sulfuric acid, then using the gas to make soap bubbles that remained in the air until they popped. A couple of years later, he bought out the show, eventually earning enough to settle in New York and pursue more formal studies in science, especially ballooning and aeronautics.

By 1857 he was earning his living as a balloonist. Along the way, he experimented with various ideas to help in his plan to cross the Atlantic. One of those was the altimeter. Soon orders for his invention from across the country kept a crew of workers busy.

Later, while using the portable hydrogen factory that he had invented to inflate his balloons, he noticed that the compressor tended to freeze over. Most people would have tried to find a way to prevent that. Lowe instead decided to find a use for this discovery, and invented refrigeration, eventually becoming very wealthy from the patents he held, which included the refrigerated steamship and refrigerated railway car to transport perishables, and the ice companies he established.

In 1861, Lowe flew his balloon on a 900-mile journey from Cincinnati to South Carolina, arriving a week after the fall of Fort Sumpter. He was arrested as a Union spy, but convinced them of his innocence. Upon his return to Cincinnati, he was contacted by President Lincoln, and was commissioned as an officer, deploying his balloon to observe Confederate troop movements. The Air Corps he founded eventually became the U.S. Air Force. During this time, he came up with the idea of launching his balloon from the deck of a boat. This way, he could sail down rivers and ascend closer to the enemy in unexpected locations. So he invented the aircraft carrier. He also brought along the newfangled camera and took photos of the terrain, inventing aerial photography.

After the war, Lowe pursued his ice business, expanded into gas production, and made a lot of money. By 1887, he moved to Pasadena and “retired.” That is, he shifted his attention from the gas and refrigeration businesses and on to astronomy. First, though, he needed a place to put all the money he’d made (he was on his third or fourth fortune by this point), so he founded Citizen’s Bank, which is still in operation.

Upon hearing that a New York observatory was surrounded by too many lights and becoming unusable, he agreed to rebuild one atop Echo Mountain in the foothills above Pasadena. This led to his becoming one of the founders of the California Institute of Technology, or Caltech for short. While making preparations for the observatory, Lowe met David McPherson, an engineer, who had a plan for an incline railway to ascend the mountains. Lowe agreed to build it. In 1894, he built Echo Mountain House, a 12-room hotel at the top of the mountain. Later this expanded to an entire resort, including a zoo. The railway continued on for another four miles or so to Mount Lowe (formerly Oak Mountain) and Ye Alpine Tavern.

Between 1893 and 1936, an estimated 3,100,000 people rode the Mt. Lowe Railway to these destinations, which became the most popular tourist attraction west of the Mississippi, the Disney World of its day. Among these visitors were Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, along with all the glitterati of the day.

Unfortunately, the railroad and hotels cost more to build than they brought in. This depleted Lowe’s fortune, and the final length of track, intended to reach the peak of Mt. Lowe, was never built. Lowe died in 1913, and the railway was sold to the Huntingtons’ Pacific Electric Railway Company. It closed down in 1937, and today only the foundations of the buildings remain. You can read all about it at the page I linked above.

At some point along the way, Professor Lowe took his young granddaughter, Florence Lowe Barnes, to an airshow. She was fascinated by the planes, and eventually became a pilot herself. You might have heard of her. She was better known by her nickname, Pancho Barnes.

Anyway, I was burning CDs of music composed about Mt. Lowe: The Mount Lowe March, Pacific Electric Trolley Waltz (two versions), and The Echo Mountain Schottische. If you want to hear them, go to the Mount Lowe Preservation Society’s music page and give a listen.

There, now you know something you didn’t know before. Ain’t knowledge grand?

Rant-Man’s Notebook: The University of Rude Awakenings

You know how they keep doing these public-service ads on TV where some celebrity with the IQ of kelp tells you to “stay in school”? Well, let me tell you, brother, this is one time when the kelp is giving good advice. Pull up a chair, and Uncle Jimmy will tell the tale of the lessons I learned in what I call the University of Rude Awakenings.

Education wasn’t what you’d call a priority in my family. My dad got his high school diploma when I was in the second grade. He had quit school to help support his family after his dad had died, since he was the oldest of the nine kids, and then Uncle Sam sent him a big howdy from the Selective Service, just in time for the festivities in a little place called Korea. Mom’s family had moved a few weeks before the end of her senior year and she decided to go get a job instead of enrolling at a new school. By age 19, she was married. They had five boys, of which your humble scribe is number two. Of the five, precisely one actually graduated high school in the usual manner. That would be me. All my brothers dropped out, though a couple of them went back and got the diploma later. Matter of fact, education was such a low priority that my mom was the only one in the family to even show up for my graduation.

So anyway, about a week before the end of my senior year, I have a meeting with my guidance counselor, a woman I had never previously laid eyes on. Sort of a debriefing. “So, what are your plans?” she asks.

Plans? I’m supposed to have plans? “Uh, I don’t know,” sez I, “I think I’m supposed to try to go to college or something.”

She lets me know as nicely as possible that I’m an idiot. I was supposed to apply to colleges months and months ago. Maybe I can go to the community college.

Meanwhile, I’m supposed to get a job.

I had successfully avoided working during high school by pulling down the occasional gig twisting balloon animals for parties, parades, malls, etc. Occasional wasn’t gonna cut it any more. So I went to the local mall and got a job at a restaurant. Balloon animal twister on the weekends, busboy/dishwasher during the week.

Kids, stay in school.

The boss was okay, but the assistant manager was a toad. He had a habit of punching busboys’ time cards out early while they were still cleaning, so that he would appear more efficient to the management. Then, while we finished cleaning, he and the cooks would hit the restaurant’s beer tap, smoke dope, and try to seduce the waitresses. I got out of that job by breaking my leg.

My next job was sculpting little clay animal figures; bunny rabbits, mice and monkeys. I designed the monkey for them, for which I made a whopping $50 bonus. They sold hundreds of ’em at about 8 or 9 bucks each. The sculptors made 50 cents each for them. After a couple of months in that job, I was living in an abandoned car behind a chinese restaurant and mooching off friends.

I finally got hired on by a shop that printed t-shirts and banners. My job was to take whatever the customer brought in and turn it into something we could print. They might have a sample to duplicate, but more often they just had a crude scribble or a vague description of what they wanted. We also did embroidery there. They advertised in biker magazines, and bikers around the world would write in and order patches for their jackets.

One day a group of Hell’s Angels® showed up at the shop. They dropped by to point out that their “colors” were registered trademarks and could not be reproduced without permission. “Oh, and by the way, if we ever find out you’re making anything that looks like Hell’s Angels® patches, we’ll come back and burn down your building. Have a nice day.”

After a couple of years of that, I made my way through the newspaper business, then into supermarket ads, back into silk-screen, then into a real design studio, back into silk-screening again, and finally, after going back to school for a while, into the comfy job I have now. With a couple of interesting detours along the way.

Detour 1: Telemarketing. Fraudulently selling gems as an investment over the phone to old folks, stealing their retirement money. Fortunately, I wasn’t any good at it, so I never made any sales. I lasted a month, until my friend who had given me the job (a Vice-President at the company) was set up to take the fall for the crooks who ran the place and went to prison for fraud.

Detour 2: More silk screening. The place I worked at printed t-shirts, ceramics, plastics, signs, whatever. I set up artwork for everything from a thimble to the side of a truck.

Best part was the smell. We used a lot of special inks for vinyl and mylar, and the solvents for them included Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Xylene, Toluene and Benzine, among others. I literally lost my sense of smell for 15 years as a result of the 17 months I worked there. MEK is a solvent so nasty that if you get it on your hand you can actually taste it. It absorbs into the skin and travels through your bloodstream. It causes brain damage; stuttering, loss of vocaulary, loss of memory. Xylene is the most toxic substance you can buy without a permit. It’s the solvent in the really nasty smelling Marks-A-Lot markers. Causes cancer. Toluene and Benzene are both highly toxic and can cause permanent heart damage. And that doesn’t even include the darkroom.

Even today, I generally don’t notice odors at all. I have to concentrate on it, or I don’t smell anything at all. Saves my wife a fortune in perfume.

Even better, the employees had to race each other to the bank on payday. The first 3 or 4 people to get there could cash their checks; everyone else had to wait until the boss put more money in the payroll account or their paycheck would bounce. If you didn’t slip out for an early lunch on Friday to run to the bank, you were stuck until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Finally the state tax board came in and locked the place up. Seized all the assets for non-payment of taxes. That was two weeks before Christmas; my first kid was almost a month old. Of course the boss hadn’t been paying the unemployment people either. A miserable six months of abject poverty followed.

Another shop I worked at was so flakey that the Marshals used to show up about every six weeks or so to collect judgments for people who had sued us. This company did (or tried to do) a lot of licensed merchandise stuff, but they were really bad at it. For example, while I was there, they had an opportunity to go after a property that I thought was going to be pretty hot, the first Batman film. They decided to pass on it, because they had been burned by their last venture into film tie-ins. They had printed a pile of shirts for a Bill Cosby movie called “Leonard Part 6,” a movie that was about as good as the new Scooby-Doo flick looks. It tanked. So they passed on Batman. Har!

Most of my co-workers were convicted felons and/or wannabe rock stars. The most marginal people on Earth are in the screen-printing industry.

It’s a reasonably cheap business to get into (you can start in your garage), it’s easy to learn, and if you’re smart you can make a decent profit. Being smart in this case means hiring people under the table, not paying taxes, shirking all EPA and OSHA regulations, and generally being a weasel.

I’m glad I got out, or I’d be a weasel today. I think it’s contagious; adapt or perish. That’s why Amway reps are all the same.

One thing I learned from all this is that if a job is crappy in all other respects, then it most likely pays badly as well. I get paid a heck of a lot more for sitting on my butt in an air-conditioned office than I ever got for standing on the corner in a chicken suit.

Kids, stay in school…or you may find yourself enrolled in the University of Rude Awakenings.

Rant-Man’s Notebook: Stray Thoughts

Despite the fact that this column (for lack of a better word) is titled “Rant-Man’s Notebook,” there’s no actual notebook involved. I’m far too lazy and disorganized for that. This thing would be a lot easier to write if there actually were a notebook. All through the week, I think of stuff that would make a good column, but then when I sit down to write the bloody thing, all those ideas drop out of my skull like confetti and I’m left staring at a blank screen, grasping like a drowning man at some semblance of an idea, until finally my wife will walk past and say “I thought you were going to write about….” She will then casually toss off the last three or four ideas I mentioned to her.

No such luck this week.

What you’re going to get instead is all the stuff I’ve thought of that’s worth mentioning, but isn’t worth a whole page.

Last week, I wrote about the school principal in San Diego who conducted a thong-check at the school dance. As if to underscore that, I read this week that Abercrombie & Fitch, the current arbiters of all things cool, have introduced a line of sexy thongs for six-year-olds. And that they can’t keep them in stock. The underwear, which has suggestive slogans printed on it, is selling faster than the stores can keep up. What do you want to bet that the parents who were outraged at the school’s thong-check are the very same ones buying thongs for their kindergartners?

Abercrombie & Fitch today announced that they are teaming up with Toys R Us to introduce a new A&F brand line of toys and playsets. First up is the “A&F Li’l Slut Stripper Pole and Dress-up Kit.” What little girl wouldn’t want her own real stripper pole? Made of solid brass, the pole is strong enough to climb and spin around. Other items include the Junior Crack Whore Dress-Up Set.

This week, I had to send a large box to a friend. Naturally, the question of a return address came up, and after a few minutes of thought, I came up with the perfect one. Yesterday, my pal was obliged to go into his apartment building’s office and get the package, and the whole staff was very curious about it. The label? “Lingerie for Him …for the discriminating transvestite.” I got an e-mail from him: “Bastard! You will pay!”

I don’t know about you, but that kind of reaction makes my whole day.

Who IS that blonde woman in the Old Navy ads? The skinny one with the long hair. She bugs me. Back in the olden days, commercial spokespeople had some manners. They’d introduce themselves before they launched into their pitch. “I’m Rula Lenska, for somebody-or-other’s coffee…” Okay, so I had no idea who Rula Lenska or Anna Maria Alberghetti were, but at least I knew that I wasn’t supposed to instantly recognize these strangers.

It’s really irritating to me when some generic bimbo pops up on the screen and starts chatting away as if I’m her bestest pal and she has to share this exciting discovery with me. I find it intrusive. She’s presuming upon a familiarity that doesn’t exist. I feel like I’m supposed to recognize her; what’s the point of an endorsement from somebody nobody knows? That’s the problem; the ads are structured like an endorsement ad, but instead of having Sarah Michelle Gellar and her weird eyebrows, they have this blonde woman projecting a false authority and presuming that her opinion will somehow convince us to run to the nearest Old Navy store and spend all our money on the basis of her good advice.

I can’t be the only one who hates the new prosecutor on Law & Order. Ghaaaaad, is she awful! She’s got the charisma of a dish towel. Somebody please tell her to blow her nose. She sounds like she’s got a cold. She can’t act at all; she recites her lines as if by pavlovian response. The show comes to a grinding shuddering halt whenever she comes into a scene. I assume she’s the producer’s girlfriend or something. Blecch.

Remember a while back when I wrote about my run-in with the Rose Parade people? It’s finally concluded, and there’s a helpful tip for you. My brother-in-law finally went to court, and his public defender boldly decided to bully him into a plea-bargain. The guy really didn’t want to argue the case; it’s too much of a stretch from his usual role of negotiating probation for crack whores. Despite the fact that he had several pages of precedents and legal analysis in hand and a slam-dunk open-and-shut case, the weasel wouldn’t fight. He told Marc (my brother-in-law) that he was going to get one delay and continuance after another and drag the case out as long as possible until Marc gave up and accepted a plea on a lesser charge just to get the thing over with. After considering all the work-time he’d already lost and how much it would cost to stick it out, he said “to hell with it” and pleaded to a disturbing the peace charge. His fine and penalties came out to about $300. Mine was only $100, and I was actually guilty of something.

Let this be a lesson to you. When you go into a courtroom, there is nobody in there (except maybe the judge) who cares at all about truth or justice. The prosecutor’s job is to get convictions. the public defender’s job is to get cases off the calendar and make sure you don’t have any basis for an appeal. Period. The only person looking out for you is you. Prosecutors like plea bargains because it gets them convictions without them having to actually prepare a case. Same for PDs. Even if you are actually innocent, they will both push really hard for you to plead to SOMETHING just to get you through the system. They will also threaten, intimidate, bully, harangue and harass you into taking the plea. If you don’t, they will try to grind you down through delays. If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, get your ass to the library and prepare your own case. You’re better off arguing in your own defense than putting yourself in the hands of a public defender who refuses to defend you. You can also get through the system a lot faster if your “defender” isn’t trying to impede your case.

It sucks, but it’s true. The court system is utterly dependent upon fear and tedium. Don’t let them grind you down. If you really are innocent, do whatever it takes to get in front of the judge and say so. The public defender will NOT defend you, period. That’s the fact, Jack.

You’ve heard people say “you’re on my shit list.” Years ago, a friend of mine came up with an idea to actually start a Shit List.

It works like a chain letter: when you receive the letter, it will have a list of six people’s names and addresses. Copy the letter, but remove the first person from the top of the list and add somebody you despise to the bottom. DO NOT put your own name anywhere on the list!!! Mail your copies to six of your friends. Now, the important part: grab a half-dozen Zip-Lock sandwich bags and go to a local park where people walk their dogs. Turn a bag inside-out and put it on your hand like a glove. Find a fresh lump of doggy-doo, and pick it up with the bag. Turn the bag right-side-out over the pasture pastry. Put the bag on the ground and gently step on it until it’s squished flat and all the air is out of the bag. Do this carefully to make sure that the poo doesn’t go out past the seal. Seal the bag. Repeat the procedure until all six bags are full. Take the steaming packets of used Alpo home and put each one in a mailing envelope. Mail one to each name on the list.

If everybody who receives a letter does this, the people on the list will each receive hundreds of pounds of stinky-doody in their mailboxes. They will all know conclusively that they are on SOMEBODY’s Shit List.

NOTE: I’m not endorsing or encouraging this practice, and I’m in no way responsible for any consequence that may occur if anybody actually does it. I merely mention the idea for informational purposes.

That’s enough of that. Maybe this week I’ll get a notebook and actually have an idea for an actual rant next time.

Carry on.

Rant-Man’s Notebook: Have You Had Your Irony Today?

Most people aren’t sure what irony is exactly. God knows Alanis Morrissette doesn’t. Ask somebody to define irony, and they invariably say, “I can’t really describe it, but I know it when I see it.” Of course you could always just grab the dictionary and see how our buddy Mr. Webster described it, but what fun is that?

Okay, fine. Irony defined. There are a few different definitions to choose from; the word derives from a Greek word meaning “dissembler” which is a nice word for liar. The original meaning derives from a teaching method of Socrates, in which one pretends ignorance and willingness to learn from another, so that the other’s false notions will be conspicuously displayed as a result of “innocent” questions. Since then, the definition has expanded; a simple definition would be comic incongruity; when the actual results of an action turn out to be the exact opposite of what was intended, that’s irony. Going back to Alanis’ song for a moment, “rain on your wedding day” isn’t ironic, unless you happen to be the weather man. Here are a few examples of irony for you, starting with the most recent…

ITEM: The vice-principal of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego was worried about a fad called “freak dancing” that was occurring at the school dances. Freaking is an exhibitionistic dance style; the participants, especially the girls, dance in a very suggestive manner, sometimes lifting their skirts to display their thong underwear to their partner. Well, Ms. VP wasn’t going to have any exhibitionism going on at HER school dances! She decided to take measures to prevent freaking; she conducted a thong inspection, requiring the female students to lift their dresses and show that they weren’t wearing thongs. She also made some girls unbutton their blouses to prove they were wearing bras. Ms. VP made the girls show off their underwear in front of the male students; in some cases she actually lifted the girls’ dresses herself, giving the boys an eyeful of the very thing she was trying to prevent. She says she did it for the girls’ safety. She doesn’t understand what all the outrage is about. Parents are demanding that she be fired for invasion of privacy. I think she should be fired for being too stupid to be a teacher.

ITEM: About 10 years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union was sued for $42,000 for violating somebody’s civil rights. True story. The ACLU sponsored a public meeting on police surveillance techniques. An off-duty police officer decided to attend. When he was recognized as a police officer, he was thrown out of the meeting, which was open to the public. Since he was discriminated against on the basis of his employment, he sued and won. (Note: When I told this story to a friend, he was very offended and took it as an attack on the ACLU. It wasn’t; I just thought it was funny that the guardian of civil rights would violate them.)

ITEM: What was it that allowed Japan to go from defeat to economic dominance of the world in a mere four decades? The answer, of course, is electronics. The Japanese electronics companies created innovative new technologies that have driven the economy of the western world for the last 20-odd years. What was the key component that fueled this creative tidal wave? The transistor. The transistor was the building block of modern electronics, and led to the invention of the microchip. But the transistor was invented in America; how did it become the catalyst for the Japanese resurgence? We sold it to them, but that’s not the irony. The irony is, we sold it to them because we didn’t want to develop any products that would compete with our existing ones. Seriously. Western Electric sold the rights to the transistor to Sony because they didn’t want to put any products on the market that would compete with their vacuum-tube radios and televisions. They thought the Japanese would just use it in toys.

ITEM: You’ve heard the story about how George Washington’s men froze at Valley Forge in the icy winter of 1779; did you ever wonder why they were freezing? They froze because the new uniforms for the Continental Army weren’t ready in time. The uniforms weren’t ready because the buttons weren’t ready. The buttons weren’t ready because the congressional committee in charge of choosing the design for the buttons couldn’t agree on what they should look like.

Isn’t it ironic?