Thursday, January 29, 2009

You're a Bad One, Mr. Skunk -- II

Needless to say -- since there's a Part II -- I lost the pool.

Witness the totally oblivious (to my reply) response from Shidi Amusa:

Dear brother,
Thank you very much for your respond to my proposl, I want to assure you that we are going to confir this fund in your acount before 14 bank working days,I got your email adress in the chamber of comerce internet departmen in my search for a parter that will assist me to actualize this my goal,i am a staff in African Development Bank as the auditor general in the accounts department...(yada, yada...note that his business title has changed already).

Anyway, he went on to tell me about how none of this was illegal, et al, and then asked again I fill out a new application to this African Development Bank, with a new Director of Foreign Remittance (Mr. Alhajiissaka Seeukabukaungabunga Usman, a real nightmare for a Wheel of Fortune letter-turning maven, but I digress), applying to the bank as a next of kin to the faux-dead person with the multi-million dollar faux bank account.

Okay, fine...if Shidi Amusa can read as good as a high school senior from the Chicago Publik Skools, let's see if his alleged bank and Mr. Alphabet Soup there, is just as (il)literately-gifted. Thus, the part of the application that with certain unalienable embellishements:

AGE: 7 or so DOG YEARS
ACC NO: (number I borrowed from another scammer)
SWIFT CODE: (ditto)
TELEPHONE: (a 900 sex line number I found online)
FAX: (ditto)

I apologise for my late application, as it followed my next of kin in getting killed and buried, but we managed to dig up the relevant facts required, dust them off and present them here without the odors of decay from the coffin. Now that this is done and some problem we have now settled and I strongly believe that my application will meet your urgent and favourable consideration, or you can shove it up your ass sideways.
Yours faithfully,
Myra Manes

I found myself wondering if I shouldn't get a second chance at that "will they or won't they answer" pool, using the same choice as heretofore.

*Buzzer* ... it's good that I didn't go with the same choice again, as Shidi was back within a couple hours:

Mr. Manes, bellow is the bank E mail form you send me the contents of I well understand. plaese sent this data to bank at once for process. Thank you.

He didn't notice that I sent the same thing to the bank in the same email. And as for his "the contents of I understand well" .... *smirk* ... *snicker* .... *chortle* ... *snort* ... *giggle* .... *guffaw*...*ROFLMAO*...

And you wonder why I do this?

After a couple days, I get this follow-up from Shidi (while the "Bank" is comparatively silent on the 'application'):

Myra my brother, i read well your reply and understand the contents (no, he don't). it as you say is festive time and so bank may not get back on you untl the next week. please to reply soonest at there convience to move long the thing.

A short "why, SOITENLY, nyuk nyuk!" reply, and I settle in to wait on the 'Bank'. Who might have a reader/comprehender a tad sharper than the plastic butter knife than is Shidi Amusa. Then again, or not, as I get this from Alhaj Usman, now bearing the title formerly borne by Shidi Amusa:

Mr. Manes,
it is with regrets to inform from you of the lost of your next kin but to lets to you know your application has been revewed and is in order to us here. time is off essent so you are instruct to contact our manager of fees and process, Ibrahim Bello, use of same email with bank, to receve from him processing payment instructions to Western Union soonest. I am await your afirmative reply.

Somehow, I'm thinking that the banker is (full) of the same *stuff* as Shidi, reading his business email. Within an hour or so, I also get a follow-up admonishment from Shidi:

Myra, when you del with bank it is impotant most that you be discret to use of my name! they not to know me in part of this with you okay.

Notta problemo, me thinks aloud, as I write a response calculated to just plain f*** up everything:

Mr. Ibham Bellows, African Development Bank & Dystrust: hey, spare me the condolences on my dead kin. He was a pervert and anthill molester, and did shameful things with tree stumps and door knobs, too. Sick bugger he was. Better off daid. Now, 'bout this Western Union crap...I HATE Western Union. They so totally f***ed up a transaction I had to send money to bring my pet rock home from a farm in Ohio, now I hear the rock is in Liechtenstein! What kinda crap is that? I want assurances from your bank and the fella what got me started here, Shidi Amusa, that your Bank won't bollix this matter up (uh, bollix means f*** up in English. I don't know what your tribal translation is). Shidi seems to know next-to-squat about what he's doing, so you and Alhaji Putzcamel better have your skeeters wired, so we can git this h'yar done with a minimum of obfuscationality, 'cuz I ain't got time to waste on this h'yar. I've got patients to sexually rehabilitate, and they pay me $250/hour! So tell me where to send the fees with Money Gram, and we'll git 'er done, y'hear?

Oh, SH**!!! I wasn't supposed to mention Shidi Amusa's name in here! Camel sh**! Forget I mentioned Shidi Amusa! Never mind that name! Sh**! I did it again!! I hate when that happens! Whatever you do, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, Shidi Amusa! Oh, batsh**, I DID IT AGAIN! My bad, my soooooo bad. Just forget any mention of your employee, Shidi Amusa. DOH!!! Somebody stop me before I say Shidi Amusa again! Dang! Double-dawg dang!!

I dun went and screwed up absolutely nothin', but the bank and Shidi wanted me to think I had (first, the Bank):


We are put this tranation on hold as you reveal to us involment of a bank employee, Shidi Musa, who he know is not to be so involve with transaction of this kind. we are to let you know when we complte our review of transaction to proceed.

And then this from an allegedly aggrieved Shidi:

Manes, why you do me to this??? i tell you of secretsy, and you bring to mention of my name in bank on deal!!! you are not smart to do to me lik this!

If only he knowd how many things I ain't smart about, 'cept when it comes to bein' a smart ass:


You told me not to USE your name, but you didn't say nuthin' about MENTIONING it! Here in the decadent West, name-dropping is synonymous with networking and brown-nosing, neither of which applies here, but I digress. You have a high-falutin' title there in the bank, and I reckoned that MENTIONING your name would grease the skids to get things moving like a good bowel sculpture after a glass of Metamucil. It's not my fault that you weren't supposed to be involved in this; after all, you did tell me it was all perfectly legal and all. If it's so legal, why are YOU in trouble now? Hmmmm? Tell me that, Sir Error of Syntax! Answer me that 'un! After you answer me that 'un, tell your bank to get off their deposit slips and let's get to the rat killin' h'yar, as my dead friend Rooster Cogburn liked to say between shootin' bad guys daid.

Sadly, Shidi didn't answer that 'un. Nor did the bank. Guess they both decided that I'm a bad 'un, Mr. Skunk ;-)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You're A Bad One, Mr. Skunk

Yawp. Shore am. Taking advantage of a poor, ill-educated scammer like this. You'd think that in the light of a New Year, I'd of made a resolution or two regarding being more kind and compassionate to my fellow humans of this fragile orb.
I sorta did. I just didn't include dumber-than-dumb-animal scammers. Especially when they're so dumb, they don't realize they had a pail of manure throwd on 'em, and eagerly proceed with their scam on the manure thrower.
Witness this letter I got just before the advent of the New Year, from revealingly-named Shidi Musa, with the header of FILL THIS FORM BELLOW can call me on this nomber...(followed by a foreign phone nomber):
Dear good friend, I am banker by profession in BURKINA-FASO, WEST AFRICA and currently holding the post foreign remittance director in our bank. I have the opportunity of transferring the left over funds ($25,2 Million Dollars) of one of my bank clients who died along with his entire family. Please if you are intrested contact me for more explaination on how we will commence on the transaction. and you fill this form and send to me please

1) Your Full Name....................
2) Your Age...............................
3) Marital Status......................
4) Your Cell Phone Number.................
5) Your Fax Number.................
6) Your Country........................
7) Your Occupation..................
8) Sex........................................

Best Regerd......................MR SHIDI MUSA
After sharing this spelling gem with a couple of my fellow bloggers, I -- in the guise of Myra Manes -- crafted a "give the gift of proofreading and factuality in advertising" reply to Shidi, reckoning that once he read it, that'd be that:
Shidi, Shidi, Shidi...*sigh*...I realize you come from a backwards nation on a backwards continent. There's nothing wrong widdat. In degrees of perception, and advanced alien culture probably looks at us h'yar in the USofA as a backwards nation on a backwards continent, particularly if they're dyslexic, but I digress.
BUT...your letter is pathetic. A first grader in Iowa could do better. A high school senior in Chicago, probably not. But either way, YOU can do better. And I'm here to help you. I have -- as a gift to you in the New Year -- undertaken to re-write your letter, correcting the spelling, the presentation, and the factuality therein. I can guarantee you that if you use my corrected format in your future endeavors, it'll look better, while working as effectively as The Clapper would have during the Roman Empire. Thus:
Dear good Friend,
I am a goat-poking, egg-sucking, lower-than-snake-spit scammer by profession in BURKINA-FATSO, WEST AFRICA, but playing as a banker and currently faking the title of post foreign remittance director in our bank. I have the opportunity of trying to convince you that I have access to and the ability of transferring the leftover funds ($25.2 Million Dollars) of one of my bank clients who I want you to believe died along with his entire family, in circumstances so heartrending, you'll tearfully agree to help me help myself to your wallet.
Actually, the real person and his family are living in a luxury condo on the island of Malta, paid for by HAMAS, but I digress.
Please, if you are interested in allowing me to give you the business in this tawdry fiscal chicanery, contact me for more explanation on how we will commence my f***ing you over on this fake transaction, meant to enrich me at your expense.
Fill out this form with complete and accurate information, so I can steal your ID and sell it for additional cash in my pocket, to other characters of the same dubious antecedence and anal-sex-with-stuffed-animals proclivities that I have and enjoy. Fill it out completely and send it back to me, so I can wow my fellows in this fly-infested Internet cafe, and we can chalk you up as another "mugu bites the dust":
1) Your Full Name
2) Your DOB and Age
3) Your Full Address
4) Your Social Security Number
3) Marital Status
4) Your Cell Phone Number
5) Your Fax Number
6) Your Country
7) Your Occupation
8) Sex
8a) How Often
8b) With Which Gender/Species
After sending this off, one of the aforementioned blogging chums of mine asked me if I wanted to get into a pool as to whether Shidi Amusa would reply? My response was, "my pool choice is no reply".
Next up: Part II -- The Dead Pool

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fitness At, plus 23

*Updated from the archives*

At 4:45am on Sunday morning, a (non) milestone is reached. A simple 'tick' of the biological clock (which could easily be mistaken for joints cracking).


As the title here implies, is fitness at 52 myth or mirth? For some, "fitness at 52" is a bit of both. For others...well, just look at Jack LaLanne, well into his 90s and still able to whip a good many of those half his age.

Being a couple years past the official "half-century" mark in the early hours of Sunday, January 25, I delve back into my own life style war over fitness, using my own personal experience as benchmark. Note that this is me talking about me, so any of y'all who choose to take some kind of silly, self-absorbed offense or infer something agin yourself herein can stuff your objections at the border of New Mexico (or wherever fits). That's, I say that's a little bit of non-apologetic "bite me" on the non-politically correct road to official curmudgeondom, in case anyone wuz wonderin' or missed it ;-)

A friend of mine -- a former boss, long retired -- had a slightly differing philosophy on exercise and fitness from my own. To him, the human heart had only so many beats in it, and it was silly to waste them on anything that didn't bring the same pleasure as an ice cream anything from Baskin-Robbins.

Granted, there's probably something to that. However, if I tried his philosophy -- and I did for a short time -- I'd need a hydraulic lifting system just to get out of bed, and an OSHA-mandated backup alarm to avoid bowling over kids and small-to-medium pets as I ponderously waddled from Point-A to Point-B.

So I still exercise, though not with the vigor of years past. And it shows, as my chins are starting to look like a phone directory in Little Chinatown. Try as I might, I just don't have the Jack LaLanne.exe in my program files.

But I still have a gym membership and force myself to use it periodically. Over the years, I've tried several different gyms and fitness formats, including a home regimen and the Baskin-Robbins option. Most have helped to some extent, but chronology, gravity, and double chocolate Rocky Road are tough things to overcome.

Some years ago, I was a member of the Holiday Health Clubs, in a northwest Denver 'burb. I went with a regularity that neared religious: three times a week minimum, in sickness or health, awake or asleep. Nothing kept me from my appointed workouts. Not only because these periods were a break from the toils of suburbia, or a poignant calm in the storm of Life; not only did I find the workout energizing, purifying and cleansing for mind and body.

The female scenery was THAT GOOD.

But to keep myself out of trouble, I exercised. I did many of the machines there, and usually managed to culminate a rigorous weights-and-aerobics routine with the customary dry heaves and muscle spasm, signifying that I was done for that session.

Even after I moved from that location to a more southwesterly 'burb, I continued to journey north, minutes and miles out of my way, to maintain the regimen.

The female scenery was THAT GOOD.

However, being a creature of convenience (aka, lazy), I eventually decided I need a more local facility. And I found one, a few blocks away. But the original thrill was gone. The motto of this new place was "get SERIOUS, train HARD, get BIG". Much of the clientele there took it as gospel. I quickly found myself -- 6'2", 215 lbs at the time -- to be a waif in a sea of muscle mass. I would have been undersized there in a Batman outfit. Or Abrams battle tank.

As for the 'scenery', it definitely wasn't Holiday. Gawking was not a wise option. When in proximity to the few females who patronized this facility, I exercised in self-defense. I'd long ago resolved never to date a woman who could body slam me. And here, the most petite specimen I saw there could have done it with one pec flexed (I used to recall that part of the female anatomy looking much different).

Before long, I'd lost the 'thrill' of being dwarfed at the NFL Offensive Line National Forest, so I resorted to jury-rigging exercises at home. I could do push ups, for example. They were much easier when done laying on my back. To keep working toward those washboard abs, I did volumes of abdominal crunches, though I never really thought it'd be good if anything in my abs went anything other than 'squish'. And for my legs, I 'sat' against the front door for as long as my legs could take it. Great for the thighs and posterior, I'd been told. I could go for hours in front of the TV like that, long as no one removed the chair.

After some months of this underwhelming regimen -- supplemented with the Baskin-Robbins curls -- I went into my mid-40s pushing 250 lbs. I started notice hippy-looking folks with Greenpeace stickers, shadowing me. It became as annoying as the whale song they blared at me.
Gradually, I rebounded and shed 40 lbs and the Greenpeace groupies, by finding another gym with all the right equipment and incentives.

And yes, the female scenery was THAT GOOD.

Nowadays, I stay with it often enough to sort of hold the weight between 230-240 lbs. I do note that the Earth's gravitational pull is increasing, coupled with some weird inclinations toward torsotic mass migration to the south, probably the result of all that AlGore phony-baloney global warming crapaganda. And the urge to go hit the gym after a 10+ hour shift at work seems to fade in the first whispered "park it h'yar" from my easy chair.

Still, even at 52, I manage to bestir my carcass and go exercise now and again. I do it 'cuz it's good for me, it keeps the old wreck afloat, knocks the rust off, etc.

And the female scenery there is THAT GOOD.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


From da pranks-at-work files...

Even new to a job, I just couldn't resist applying a good-natured "tweak" when I saw the opportunity.

In 1987, I was promoted from the facilities Security Department at a Fortune 500 company, into the Corporate Security (field investigative unit) Department. It was quite a departure from what I had been used to, but I was determined to measure up to the level of confidence the department manager had shown in promoting me (in the top right photo, the boss, center; the person on his left was my prank co-conspirator, on his right, yos' truly..back then).

A promotion that came even though he knew I had an ornery streak. One he figured to control.

Among the senior investigators already there, it was common knowledge that the boss -- Nick -- had a habit when he got exasperated: he'd whip off his glasses, and with the palms of his hands, practically rub both eyebrows out of his forehead, before verbally laying into them about some transgression or other. It was a habit that the guys delighted in triggering. For example, use of the words "telephonically" and "predicated" in an investigative report would get a pretty fair eyebrow rub going. New to the department, I was clued into this trait early on.

And it wasn't long before I earned my first "browser".

Nick was a funny guy: serious as he appeared to be (he fit the text book appearance of a Sicilian Mafioso or a hulking Russian commissar), he was basically an easygoing, big-hearted pushover. But on some things, he was adamant in his dislike of. And one thing on which he was adamant: he absolutely loathed the caution lightbar that rested atop the facility Security vehicle.

His staff knew it, as did I, from my prior days as a facilities Security shift supervisor.

One day, shortly after I'd been promoted, he ordered the manager of the facilities Security Department to remove that gaudy eyesore from atop the Security SUV (a full-size Suburban). Grudgingly it was done, and stowed in a spare equipment room.

I and my co-conspirator knew early on that something had to be done with the lightbar. Especially after the first time that I saw Nick's personal vehicle -- a Dodge pickup truck with a camper shell.


I knew what I had to do: mount the lightbar on Nick's truck. And you thought my death wish came from chasing tornadoes (I wasn't even doing that at this time; that screw-loose practice came later).

On the appointed day, I arrived early and placed the lightbar in an electrical room adjacent to the central elevator parking access on the roof (Nick always parked on the roof). A creature of habit, Nick would arrive two hours later, saunter in to see what was up, grab a cup of coffee, and head back to the roof for a cigarette.

It would be a tight time window.

At about 8:30am, Nick arrived and parked in his usual spot. As he was entering the building via the southern elevator core, I was entering the electrical room on the central core. The lightbar was retrieved, and placed strategically upon the roof of his truck. Then I snuck back toward my office.

Having noticed my absence on arrival, Nick inquired of my co-conspirator as to my whereabouts; he covered my tracks by saying something about "picking up something from the Audit Department" for him. A satisfied *grunt*, and Nick sauntered off to the coffee station.

Slipping into my office, I buried my nose in a training manual and pondered where I might want to be in about 20 or so minutes, which is what we figured would be about the time the "browser" would erupt. Nick settled that for us: he invited me, my co-conspirator and a third investigator to join him on the roof.

The third investigator -- aware of the set up -- had the presence of mind to sneak along a camera.

It was a very pleasant spring day. We exited the central core, and stood around on the roof, taking in the view while Nick sipped his coffee and indulged his nicotine habit. My now two co-conspirators were chatting about this and that, and I was biting my lip, trying not to burst out laughing at the sight about 100 feet to our right.

At about that moment, Nick cast a glance in that direction. And stopped. Stared. Did a double-take. Then the stammering imitation of Capt. Wallace Binghamton (McHale's Navy) began: "Wha..wha...WHAT IS THAT?"

He began walking toward his truck, staring intently; my bit lip was threatening to burst. The other two were staying back wearing irrepressible grins. Nick walked to within 10 feet of his truck, his stare ever more intense. Then he turned, glancing back at us and sputtering, and then centered that ponderous glare...on me.

"YOU! HERE, NOW!", pointing at the asphalt in front of him.

With the greatest of difficulty, I kept a straight face as I approached the now red-faced Nick.

*Gesturing toward the truck* "WHAT IS THAT, YOUNG MAN?"
" looks like a lightbar, sir".
"Sitting on that truck".
"Well boss, I reckon you'd have to ask the owner about that.."
"Really? That's YOUR truck, Nick? I didn't know you had a lightbar on your truck. I thought you hated those things.."
"Uh...letting people know you're official?"

*off came the glasses and thus commenced my first triggered browser, whilst my two co-conspirators were convulsing a few feet away*


I and one co-conspirator did, but not before the other one snapped a photo of it, along with a photo of Nick pondering what he was going to do with me and whom he considered my #1 co-conspirator (see above).

After the color returned to his face, Nick just stood there, sipping his coffee and smoking his second cigarette -- I think he inhaled the first one whole, when he saw the lightbar -- and pondering how he could make our collective lives miserable that day.

"Guess I need to find something extra for you to do, to keep you out of trouble, eh?" he growled in mock-menacing way as he stubbed out his cigarette.

"Uh, not really, boss. It was no trouble putting it there, really". That triggered a second browser, to the delight of my co-conspirators.

True to his word, Nick did find something for me to do that day; along with my co-conspirator who Nick accused of "having a bad influence on the lad".

Regretfully, I don't have the picture of the lightbar atop Nick's truck: the only extant copy of it -- shot with a Polaroid -- was presented to Nick when he retired in December, 1988.

By then, I think I was approaching Eddie Rickenbacker's score as an "ace" in the *browser* department.

Monday, January 19, 2009

PETA's "Unintended Consequences"

PETA kills me. And probably wishes they could.
A few years back, I chastised them in a letter over their first anti-fish (and usual Thanksgiving 'eat tofurkey') campaigns. A letter sent under the guise of the "Veggie Avenger" (and here in the blog, somewhere).
Apparently, PETA -- staffed by a few well-meaning sorts, and an overload of crackpots -- doesn't appreciate hearing from anyone whose pot appears to be as cracked, if not moreso, than their own.
I am putting that theory to the test yet again. This time, over their ridiculous campaign to stop people from fishing and eating fish. How? By dubbing fish "sea kittens", and targetting kids for this campaign. Yes, targetting kids. Crass, shallow crapaganda, to make kids cry and get all sad-eyed to their parents, to stop hurting "sea kittens".
Taking the kids thus affected to see the movie Jaws might snap most of them out of it, but I have another notion.
I know this campaign's been out there for a spell now, and my response to them probably wasn't anything they haven't already heard. But since old, repackaged ideas that have flopped like carp on hot asphalt (see what I just did there?), don't dissuade Democrats from dressing and redressing them up again and again, I figger I can send them yet another version to, at the least, amuse them. And at the most (I hope), piss them off. I'm sure they're still ducking and covering over their "mom's breast milk in place of cow's milk" flop...pun might have been sorta intended there (and I missed few of them in my blog response on that one).
At any rate, here's the letter I dispatched to PETA's Norfolk, VA, HQ, and addressed to their 'volunteers coordinator':
Re: Sea Kitten Campaign
I will admit, right up front, that I have not been a fan of PETA or their campaigns, though you almost won me over on the "Mom's milk instead of cow milk for ice cream" gambit.
But leave it to a five year old, to begin to sway me.
My young niece had apparently been exposed to some of your "sea kitten" campaign, when during a trip to our local store, she became almost hysterically tearful when I selected a box of Van de Camp's Frozen Fish Sticks to put in my cart. With those big brown, tear-filled eyes, she begged me not to "help hurt more sea kittens". Grudgingly -- I love fish sticks, but just couldn't say no to those sweet little tear-filled eyes -- I put them back. Now I'm my niece's hero.
It got me to thinking.
I meet with a group of guys every Thursday night. Our passions are drinking, bowling (in the fall and winter) and fishing (in the summer). At our last meeting, I spoke of your campaign...and almost got booed out of the place. But THEN, I hit them where I had been hit: with their daughters, nieces and granddaughters. I spoke of my experience with my little niece. And for a couple minutes, you could have heard a pin drop. Twenty guys, in ages ranging from their mid-30s to their 60s, pondering a momentous shift in philosophy.
At a pivotal moment in the shifting sands of opinion, one of our more bright members came up with just the campaign variation calculated to sway more red-blooded, strapping, meat-eating men to ease the fears and tears of our cherished little ones, and flock to PETA's banner.
Save the Sea Pussies.
It turned out to be counterproductive, as that night, twenty guys -- me included -- went and emptied the frozen fish section at our local market. I mean, hey...guys love eating pussies. We're just that way, right?
Somehow, that momentous shift in philosophy slid right back solidly into status quo. I think it's sometimes referred to as the "Laws of Unintended Consequences".
At any rate, nice try, PETA...but I think this one's gonna go the way of "mom's milk in place of cow's milk for ice cream". Though, I would have been tempted to volunteer for collections, but I digress.
(my real name and address)
Whaddaya think? PETA replies, or not? Part Nuthin' if they don't....Part II, iffen they do (and it's printable).

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Politically Correct Stock Show

It's January, 2009, and the annual National Western Stock Show is doing it's thing in Denver. A foundational part of which will be the "world's best indoor rodeo" (so I heard it billed, anyway).

At the same time, another annual event will occur: the annual PETA protest against the rodeo, and demands by the animal rights activists that the rodeo be scrapped.

Fat chance, right? far. But in the new age of political correctness (aka, the Democrats in charge), a few more tentacles of PC are working their way into the mainstream, resulting in the the NWSS Executive Committee being rumored to be considering alternatives, in a vain attempt to appease the PETA crowd. The same crowd that wants mother's milk substituted for cow's milk in ice cream.

Sounds like they be needin' somethin', alright, but I digress.

At any rate, some of the ideas for future National Western Stock Show politically correct entertainment events under consideration are (but haven't been limited to):

- Cowput: bulls will compete to see how far they can kick a 180 lbs cowboy, without getting any chewing tobacco on their hooves. Furthest, cleanest 'put', wins (possible PETA objection: "but the bulls will be exposed to second hand chew").

- Wyoming Fencing: sheep will get to help cowboys through the barbed wire fence with speed, style, and cowboy facial expressions counting toward total score. Highest score and most excruciatingly embarrassed look on a cowboy's face, wins (possible PETA objection: "but the sheep might get cut by the fence").

- 50 Meter High Hurdles: a calf is partnered with a cowboy; the cowboy runs the course, while the calf follows alongside, applying the cattle prod to 'help' his pardner over the hurdles. This event may be expanded to include relay teams (possible PETA objection: "but the calf might trip and fall with the cattle prod, and put their eye out").

- Texas Two-Slide: horses will throw their riders who must, belly-first, land in a specially-marked area of fresh, 'pre-fertilizer', sliding to a stop therein. Longest throw/slide wins (possible PETA objection: "but the horse might strain a muscle throwing the cowboy").

-Bulliards: one bull, ten cowboys in the arena. During the 30 second time limit, the bull must 'contact' each cowboy to score points. Knocking one out of the arena scores double. Knocking two or more together scores triple points. Cowboys cannot leave arena until time limit expires, or propelled (possible PETA objection: see "contact with second hand chew" aforementioned).

-Moocowrena: call it choreographed line-dancing with a twist: 12 cows, 12 cowboys, 12 cattle prods. Teams of 36 (12 of each). Best choreographed and electrifying performance (as rated by the audience, based on uniformity of moovement and cowboy facial expressions) wins (possible PETA objection: "but the cows might get shocked if a routine goes bad").

-Badmutton: a team event with three sheep, one cowboy. Cowboy must be kept aloft for a full 10 seconds (possible PETA objection: see the aforementioned "contact with second hand chew" complaint).

-100 Meter Barrel Relay: a bull will be pardnered with one cowboy; the cowboy gets into the barrel, which the bull then rolls, butts, pushes by any means as fast as possible to the halfway mark; the cowboy then gets out, and sprints back to the finish line. Bulls are allowed the option to two 'cattle prod assists' to their pardner on the second half (possible PETA objection: manner of moving the full barrel might injure the bull; and the "contact with second hand chew" complaint again).

-Farting To the Oldies: cowcestras from across the country will perform timeless classics -- Wagner's Ride of the Mookyries, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Mooveture (complete with simooolated cannon fire) and Glenn Miller's In The Moooooood -- using nothing but choreographed flatulence. Sponsoring ranchers will provide suitable quantities of carbon offsets, payable to the AlGore Scamalamadingdong Globull Warming Fund (no PETA complaint on this one just yet, depending on their analysis of the pre-concert feed).

I'm sure that our progressive friends in PETA will have many more brilliant ideas and suggestions, destined to make the National Western Stock Show an event you'll soon wonder aloud about, "WTF?".

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The X (Skier) Files

From the website archives...
Yes, I live in Colorado. No, I don't ski. That's not a typo.

It wasn't always thus: I had my first experience with skis in the early 1970s, shortly after leaving the non-comparable ski country that was NE Iowa. I had a cousin who was an experienced skier, and he convinced me that I could pick up the sport without the time-consuming nuisance of lessons, just by following his few tips on what to do and not.

He shoulda been a used car salesman.

His theory of my trainability took a hit with my introduction to the T-bar lift, as I wasted me, him, and about a half-dozen others as soon as I got on it and did exactly what he told me not to do. But my cousin was, if anything, patient, especially when it came to exacting revenge: he convinced me I'd do just fine on the 'blue' slope, and to the chair lift we went.

Mounting the chair lift was a piece of cake; dismounting it was another thing entirely, as I skied off it and right into the side of the shack that powered the lift. The snort I heard behind me had nothing to do with him "blowing his nose", as he sleazily tried to claim he was doing at the time.

With a cocky "you'll get the hang of things by the time you get down", he was off, confidently to-and-froing his way across the slope and out of sight. And he was right: by the time I got down, I had mastered (a) falling (b) scattering gear all to hell and gone (c) collecting the scattered to hell and gone gear and (d) repeating the entire sequence, again and again. I finished that run by trying to use a tree as a braking device, and finding it had none of the 'give' of a tackling dummy.

I walked down the balance of the slope, with the sound of birdies singing in my ears; curiously, they were nowhere to be seen. But those weird stars were...

I didn't make a second attempt to discover the joy of skiing until the latter 70s, when a Methodist youth group I belonged to took a ski trip to a different resort. Once again, I eschewed lessons, at the urging of my cohorts. They needed entertainment, and I was chosen as it. I musta missed the drawing for that 'un. At least this time, I avoided the T-bar episode, and instead got caught on film doing a maneuver that resembled a big cloud of snow and my gear going in all different directions, like Charlie Brown after a pitch from the mound. I can thankfully say today that the photo what caught that is some place I'll never have to see it again.

Under the theory that third time's proof of a real gullible idiot, I made a skiing sortie with yet more friends who needed cheap entertainment and picked me -- again, I missed out on the drawing -- as 'it'. Sticking to my MO of "I don' need no stinking lessons", I didn't take any. But I had learned a few things. Key of these, in the words of Clint Eastwood, "a man's got to know his limitations". And I did: I stuck to green slopes. Clad in a garage sale lemon-yellow snow suit -- prompting loads of "yellow snow" quips -- I amazed my friends, the Ski Patrol and odds makers in Vegas, by not falling once on my first run of the day.

I only needed the next run to bring me back to the realities of gravity and the fact that the ground doesn't give like the body does. An audible "he's back in form!" drew a sorta under my breath "a**hole!" in reply, and a determination to make that my last snow divot for the day.

I began the first leg of my third run perfectly, if one doesn't count the several "whooooa"s and crazy-legs imitations that marked my almost cashing in a perfect run. Then came a directional faux pas: at the junction of the green slope and something more nefarious, I took a wrong turn. After a short distance that didn't look familiar, I found myself at the top of an incline that looked distinctly ungreen. The length of the slope was or so yards. The downward angle was or so. From my vantage point, it looked more like a 50% slope. But there I was. So with a "what the heck", I went for it.

For about 30 yards.

Then, as I attempted to make a turn to the right, my left ski kept going left...and the binding didn't break away. I biffed with some velocity, and wound up tumbling and sliding down most of the rest of the slope, coming to rest at the bottom, with a nice debris trail marking my elongated divot. At which time I realized my left ankle would brook no more weight on it, far as skiing went.

And there I lay -- a distinct, disheveled patch of yellow snow -- knowing the mirth my current situation would generate when my friends found me sometime after my picture appeared on a milk carton. Before the carton could go to the printers, however, two skiers came by and one rocketed off to the nearest Ski Patrol call box, while the other made the mistake of asking me how I felt: "with my hands". She didn't make that mistake twice.

Presently, the Ski Patrol and a segment of my party showed up: the Ski Patrol loaded me on one of their medical toboggans, while my smirking friends cleaned up my debris field and made token efforts to act concerned, while biting their lips to the point of almost drawing blood. About the time that the Ski Patrol had me strapped in and was about to get me on my way, someone yelled, "Hey! Who's got the camera?".

I waited until the toboggan was starting to move to yell, "I do!". Securely tucked in my coat pocket, where with me strapped in, it was out of reach of one and all. For all the laughs that day, the last laugh appeared to be mine.

Nyah nyah.

It's been 25 years since I last donned skis and wrought havoc on a slope in Colorado, and that's just fine. In the words of the group America, "memories don't die, but with time become hazy". I find that there's some truth to that, too: Colorado Ski Country USA no longer uses my picture as a catch-all warning sign for slope hazards.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chinese Astrology and 2009: Part IV (of IV)

Your patience with the three previous columns
is now to be rewarded, as I present the Chinese astrological outlook for 2009. I also take this moment to acknowledge and thank Neil Somerville for helping me -- albeit, unknowingly on his part -- with invaluable research required to provide you with the following. Not that I couldn't have done it without consulting his invaluable source Your Chinese Horoscope 2009; like some current-day journalists and the editor at the NYT, I could simply have made up almost anything.
At least this way, it's ethical and somewhat, if marginally, plausible.
Please bear in mind that regardless of what you read and interpret herein, the journey down any particular life path is not necessarily inevitable, and that which is written herein, is not cast in stone. If it were, my computer monitor and what's left of my desk would be resting on my feet. An important distinction to keep in mind as you ponder the possibilities, opportunities and stouter furniture in the New Year:
OX: you can look forward to a pretty good year, no bull. Career prospects favor grazing ahead with confidence, but not bullishly so. As for love, it's a year to work on listening and communications, steaking decisions based on reason and not emotion. Well-basted decisions are best to marinate a good outcome.
TIGER: a fair, if challenging year, awaits the Tiger. Take care not to gloat when you gain the upper paw. Modesty and helping others helps yourself to extra portions of good fortune. In careers, it looks to be an average year, but can be better as long as you don't fail to pounce on opportunities that come within your reach. In love, a tumultuous year is foreseen; be particularly wary of "those questions" changing their stripes. They don't.
RABBIT: despite the popularity of Jack the Rabbit on the Frontier Airlines commercials, it looks to be a year of bad karma for the Rabbit. Exercising patience and hopping with the flow will minimize the negative, particularly in career matters. Avoid wolves in any clothing. As for love, arguments and tension may multiply like....Rabbits. Communication is key; use those ears as they were intended, and listen.
DRAGON: a lucky year lies ahead, one where industrious Dragons can work on dreams and ambitions on a large scale, particularly on the career front. In love, be sure to keep business and pleasure separate, or things might get too hot for you.
SNAKE: a good year to wind up in positive territory, assuming the Snake remains flexible to change. Career matters could be bumpy at times, but with patience and confidence, you'll shed any problems with relative ease. With love, it may prove a disappointing year, but if you remember that, "if it looks like a garden hose, it probably is", you'll avoid being laughed at on a blind date.
HORSE: a splendid year with mounting excitement lies ahead. Career matters will be off at a gallop, but avoid short cuts, or good fortune may not last furlong *ducking boos and throwd horse shoes* In regards to love, the marriage harness beckons willing and single Horses.
GOAT: it can be a good year for Goats, long as they don't get too headstrong about change. Avoid butting into unfamiliar situations, using the same approach, and milk your patience for better times and opportunities. In love, don't try to ram your preferences home.
MONKEY: a fair year ahead for the Monkey. A year wherein career conflicts can prove an 800 lb gorilla, but with a little less impetuousness, you can avoid them driving you bananas. In love, listening and learning are the keys to grooming a vital relationchimp. Fiscally, a year of practicality is the ticket over that of a free-swinger.
ROOSTER: it's your year to rule the roost. In career matters, you're well perched for opportunity; avoid getting too cocksure of yourself, though. In love, being who you are will give you plenty of reasons to crow about driving the chicks crazy. But don't lose your head; you can still wind up in the soup.
DOG: it will be an uneven year for the Dog, as some unburied bones of contention await resolution. In career matters, dig in for a rough ride, but don't flea when life becomes an itch. A good year to take a moment to ponder where you're about to put that cold nose, and avoid fetching home something untoward.
PIG: a year of status quo for the Pig. Careers -- especially those involving travel -- will give you ample chances to bring home the bacon, long as you don't get too sloppy in execution. In love, things won't be a boar, but avoid running your chops too much when listening is all that's needed.
RAT: it can be a lucky year for Rats, long as one keeps an eye open for traps. In career, keep on building that ne(s)twork of social contacts for business and pleasure. In love, cut back on running with the pack a bit, slick back those whiskers and indulge in some moonlight and hooha, whatever that is.
And there you have it (?), the definitive outlook for 2009. So go forth and remember: each and every one of us has the power to change the course that our particular horoscope suggests. In the end, your own efforts, dedication, ambition, perspicacity and perseverance will ultimately determine how many of those words you need to look up.
To one and almost all, Happy New Year! And if you believe you're one of those few born under the sign of Gorkus, still sucks to be you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Chinese Astrology and 2009: Part III

Leaving behind the obfuscation of Part II, I now
delve into the five elements within the Chinese horoscope, which serve as moderating influences on the specific signs. Those elements are: earth, wind, fire, flatulence and run-like-hell.
I'm kidding, I think. Actually, they are wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
According to ancient beliefs, the elements follow each sign in twelve year cycles, as they might in real life. That is to say that first comes the wood, which is consumed by fire and converted to the earth, from which metal is derived, which later melts into water, drawing a suit from the EPA and questions as to metallurgic antecedence. Or something along those peculiar lines, when lawyers and enviros get involved, digressing further than I'd intended.
At any rate, each element holds specific significance for each astrological sign. What it is, danged if I know, but that's what the dubious source for my research said. So and for example, if you were born in 1960, you'd have characteristics of the Metal Rat, and you'd be wise to avoid magnetic mouse traps. If you were born in 1969, you'd display characteristics of the Metal Rooster: whatever else that means, you'd make a splendid weather vane.
At present, we are in the cycle wherein the element of earth is predominant. Thus, the earlier reference in Part I to it being the Year of the Earth Ox. The Chinese New Year for 2009 will begin on January 26; until then, your respective sign falls under the influence of the Earth Rat.
With that, I now proceed to half of what you've been waiting for: a bit of a general personality profile for each sign. And in the finale, Part IV, I'll conclude with the astrological forecast for your sign in 2009:
OX: others tend to look at you as a leader; you sometimes find yourself wondering why. Perhaps it's the methodical, plodding nature you tend to project, or the fact that you're good with your While you can tend to be bright and an inspiration to others, you must guard against sometimes becoming bullheaded. Not easy, I know. You're prone to periods of stubborness, but this lets others know you're not easily buffaloed into compromise. Your most compatibull mates would be either a Snake or a Rooster; life with a Goat, by comparison, is just continual locking of horns over one thing or another.
TIGER: you have a sensitive and emotional side, which you may manifest in ways others consider heroic and appealing, unless you're clawing the curtains and furniture. You are at once admired for your candor and feared for your aggressiveness. You need to be wary of impetuosity, so that you don't become the rug that gets pulled out from under you. Compatible mates can be found with the Horse or the Dog; the Monkey might make a good primate, but not YOUR mate...*rimshot*
RABBIT: yours is a popular personality. Promiscuous, affectionate, your circle of friends tends to multiply, like your family. Yet, with a tendency toward the bashful, you seek peace through your life, when you're lucky enough to avoid real and animated predators that your business and personal life seem to attract. Despite these occasions, yours is a life that requires you to hop to it to meet all your family, business and social obligations. Compatibility in life's hutch is best with a Goat or a Pig; avoid misery in your personal life, especially that hen-pecked feeling, by not marrying a Rooster.
DRAGON: all that you are and dream are on a grand scale. Despite a reputation as occasionally foolhardy and hot-headed, you attract those who admire your spark of passion. Then again, you do have tendencies toward the eccentric, having a different view of styles and trends (for example, not being much of a knight person). Your best compatibility with a life mate is -- since there's no Donkey here -- a Monkey or a Rat; a poor choice would be a Dog, as two bad breaths are worse than one.
SNAKE: you are blessed with much wisdom, and when you choose, you can turn on the charm. You're a romantic, but must be careful not to glide into places and situations before gaining acceptance. Somewhat vain at times, you're thin-skinned about your appearance and quick to strike out when put upon, stepped upon, etc. Strong on intuition, you like to go on your gut instincts, though you become easily rattled if it fails you. Compatibility is best with an Ox or Rooster; the Pig, on the other hand, will get under your skin and root out the worst in you.
HORSE: you have the capacity for hard work others find admirable. There's no end to what you can accomplish when spurred to action. You also have appeal with the opposite sex; on the other hoof, you demonstrate sides of selfishness, impatience, and find it difficult to ride out demanding situations. You claim to be independent, but deep inside you like to be saddled with relationships. From a mate standpoint, you're better off hitched with the Tiger or Dog; the Rat will leave you skittish, and you'll bridle at the thought of even carousing with one.
GOAT: frequently misunderstood at the outset, your preference for working behind the scenes and initial social timidity can give way to your charming and elegant side, warming others to you, when they find you aren't as buttinsky as they thought. Given to being materialistic and at times, pessimistic, you don't find it easy to be the "life of the party", but your ability to eat almost anything makes you popular when it's time to dispose of leftovers. In compatibility, you would mate nicely with a Pig or Rabbit; avoid the Ox to prevent head-to-head arguments.
MONKEY: a very intelligent and witty soul. Even when uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings, the Monkey's charm and wit make it easy for him/her to swing doubters to his/her side. Though, the discomfort a Monkey sometimes feels can sometimes lead them to act like they have a chimp...chip on their shoulder. Monkeys must also guard against excess opportunism, and acting like a baboon at the expense of others. A Monkey's best mates are the Dragon or Rat; Monkeys would do well to avoid Tigers, or other Monkees wanting to do a reunion tour.
ROOSTER: hard-working, shrewd, and opinionated. Seen by others as eccentric and cocky, the Rooster doesn't hesitate to crow about their personal achievements. While Roosters do have an altruistic and compassionate side to them, they don't like to display it, afraid they'll be seen as over easy. For the Rooster, the Snake makes a fine partner, and the Ox is fine as partner or perch; due to years of bad blood over the Easter Egg controversy, a partership with the Rabbit is totally out of the question.
DOG: loyalty is the Dog's seminal foundation. Those who count you as friend know they won't be let down, provided you're house-broken. Dogs do have a tendency to worry a great deal, and aren't always mindful of their sharp tongue and worse breath. Still, a Dog can be most fetching in social and family environments, even as inside them, there's always a tug-of-war over a Dog's decision making and how it might affect others, at the expense of the Dog. Good partners are found with the Tiger and Horse; on the other paw, a Dog will get burned with the Dragon.
PIG: you harbor a noble and chivalrous air about you. Your friendships are frequently life-long, though in marriage you seem to wallow a bit befuddled. You're tolerant and honest, but can be easily duped by those who aren't. You aren't one to hog the spotlight, though you are known to ham it up a bit now and then. Your root to happiness with a mate is found with a Rabbit or Goat; whatever you do, don't marry another Pig, or get yourself entwined with a Snake bearing apples, especially around BBQs.
RAT: you tend to be exquisitely imaginative. You also have charm, when not being used by a vampire for escape purposes. To the one you love, your generosity knows no bounds; on the other hand, you are known to have a quick temper, critical nature, and you can be an opportunistic little pri...jerk. Still, you enjoy running with the crowd, and wouldn't have it any other way. Your most compatible mate in life would be either Dragons or Monkeys; with a Horse, you're liable to get your feelings hurt or stepped on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chinese Astrology and 2009: Part II

If I haven't yet confused you with Part I, let me finish that task with Part II, as I start with a brief precis of the horoscope, and then delve into Chinese astrology.

The horoscope is a diagram of the heavenly bodies, showing the relative positions of the sun, moon, stars, planets and other sensuous curves at a given time. Astrologers prepare an individual horoscope using the person's exact time and place of birth, throwing in winds, tides, barometric pressure, antecedence, dealer prep and options. Incorporated with the zodiac, astrologers claim to be able to predict an individual's future and advise him/her/whatever on the courses of action or decisions open to them. When wrong, they blame Republicans, and insist that more money will fix everything.

Signs of the Heavenly Bodies in a horoscopial sense include the Sun, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Mazda, pre-bankrupt GMC, Cadillac, Angie Harmon and Shania Twain. Amongst today's more politically correct, required flexibility lends itself to substitutions of any of the above -- particularly the latter two -- for gender preference.

Speaking for me, screw political correctness and I'll stick with Angie and Shania, but I digress.

As noted in Part I, Western and Eastern astrology took something of different tracks approximately 1800 years ago. Despite that, Chinese astrology shares the core philosophy that a person's destiny is linked to their moment of birth.

In ancient China, astrological secrets were originally deemed too weighty for the ordinary person, thereby confining the secrets of astrology to the Emperor's Court. To study astrology ouside of the Imperial circle was tantamount to audible flatulence in church.

Expansion of the vast empire changed that belief, as flatulence was recognized to be pretty normal in a society built around eating bean sprouts. Similarly, the view of astrological secrets became more open, and became seen by the elite as a means of maintaining ordered society, by way of ritual and ceremony. Thus, the Chinese people began to be educated about astrology about 1,000 years ago through Ming Shu, meaning "footwear made of priceless pottery".

Under the Chinese astrological teachings, a person's hour, day, month and year of birth constituted the "Four Pillars of Fate". A person's destiny could be told, based on how their birth date(s) corresponded to the Four Pillars, the twelve astrological symbols (coming up), and fortune cookies from Fast Tommy Wang's Four Pillars Chinese Restaurant (delivery within four mile radius). The Four Pillars of Fate were instrumental in determining who could marry whom; even in death, one's funeral could not be held until the Four Pillars were "favorably disposed" toward it.

Don't know if that pun was intended or not.

The Chinese system, like its Western counterpart, has twelve astrological symbols (the Chinese shake their inscrutable heads at Gorkus), but each symbol represents a year, rather than a month in the Western version. The twelve year cycle of Chinese astrology is roughly based on the twelve years it takes the planet Jupiter to orbit the sky. And the progression, from one year to the next, falls irregularly, being based on the lunar calendar, when a new year begins generally between late January and mid-February.

When Ming Shu was first introduced to the peasants, the twelve symbols were represented as "The Twelve Earthly Branches", and were presented as abstract numeric concepts, difficult for the peasant to grasp. Just imagine several hundred million "Duhs".

So one enterprising Chinese prince, pondering the problem, the next year presented the concept more uniquely, as "The Twelve Playboy Centerfolds". About half the population got it, while the female half let them have it with the dinner wok, beginning another tradition that's for discussion at another time.

Shortly thereafter, the numeric branches and dented woks were mercifully replaced by symbols of animals, to better help the peasantry with their understanding of astrology and a marked reduction in concussions to males of the species. According to one legend, Buddha sent out an invitation to all the beasts in the land, but only twelve accepted his invitation. To each attendee, Buddha bestowed a place upon the astrology chart, one befitting of the animal's strengths and weaknesses. To those who failed to RSVP, Buddha sent a William Shatner's Greatest Singing Hits CD.

Like Ma Nature, it didn't pay to blow off Buddha.

The twelve animals that answered Buddha's summons were, in their order of arrival: the rat, the ox (bull), the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat (sheep), the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig (boar). As aforementioned, each animal brought its own unique strengths and virtues to the chart, as well as its own weaknesses-- much as the humans -- being foretold by the chart.

Finally, as a guideline for the upcoming horoscope and astrological forecast for 2009, I will conclude Part II with a few examples of the Chinese years, as applied to the horoscope. For example, if you were born between January 31, 1900, and February 18, 1901, you were born in the Year of the Rat, and are older than running water. The next Year of the Rat fell between February 18, 1912, and February 5, 1913.

Upcoming examples for each year are:

Rat: February 7, 2008-January 25, 2009
Ox: January 26, 2009-February 13, 2010
Tiger: February 14, 2010-February 2, 2011
Rabbit: February 3, 2011-January 22, 2012
Dragon: January 23, 2012-February 9, 2013
Snake: balance of 2013
Horse: 2014
Goat: 2015
Monkey: 2016
Rooster: 2017
Dog: 2018
Pig: 2019
Pet Rock: 20...uh...Seymour, I said edit, not fantasize....

In Part III, more on the particulars and characteristics of the horoscope symbols.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chinese Astrology and 2009: Part I (of IV)

I originally did this four-part series in a build-up to Y2K, and followed it with updates in '03, '05 and '06. All of which showed my accuracy to be at least as good as that of The Weather Channel.
Granted, The Weather Channel doesn't predict astrology, just weather. They do marginally better at the latter than the former.
I don't do so good at either, but like a politician who thinks he/she can manage the auto industry better than the private sector, I can delude myself and keep trying.
So here I goes agin...with the New Year underway, the Chinese Astrological New Year is near upon as well. Granted, not everyone I know believes in that kinda stuff. After years of emails from, I'm not much inclined to go along with a lot of it, either. I mean, if they're so psychic, whey are they bothering to get me to go to a website they oughta know I'll never visit?
Still, focus groups and poll studies indicate a lot of crap, including that a large number of folks take astrology seriously. So has the history of Man.
What is astrology? According to one impeachable source, astrology is "a belief in the occult influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs". It is a mix of human and natural observations, coupled with astrological observations. It is a centuries-old practice of trying to divine present and future events. It has roots in astronomy, meteorology, mathematics, philosophy, mythology, mysticism, extraincremenetalsupercalifragalisticinstrumentalationism, and a sign of probably too much drug and alcohol use in the 1960s. It's also an opportunity for a sharp entrepreneur to create and sell those entertaining placemats to Chinese restaurants.
Originally, astrology was linked to astronomy and regional religions. Over the centuries, astronomy developed in some Eastern venues, a separate identity as a recognized science, and religion developed a separate identity as a spiritual science, and future something for the ACLU to campaign against. Meantime, astrology failed to attract recognition as a formal science in the Western world, achieving more of an occult following and status as a divinatory art, rather than as a recognized science with good pick-up lines at Grog-Oh's Watering Hole.
Astrology refused to be so easily dismissed, however: modern Western astrology can trace it's theoretical and practical roots to the ancient Chaldeans and Babylonians, dating around 2,000 BC. Astrology served these civilizations in an attempt to make practical applications to human affairs from astronomical observations and calculations, especially regarding agriculture and sports betting.
Astrology was a vital agricultural tool back then, in that the movement of the sun, moon, stars and planets, and their correlation to times for crop planting and harvest, were crucial to the survival of ancient civilizations. From these beginnings, later civilizations developed the calendar and the collander: one for keeping track of the seasons, and the other for straining veggies.
Astrology went in different directions, East and West, at some point. In the West, astrology went on to gain popularity during the 13th Century, when courts of royalty began including jesters, whom sometimes doubled as royal astrologers and press secretaries. Among the more famous of Western practitioners of astrology was Nostradamos, the one time court physician to Charles IX of France. His quatrains, publised by Weekly Old World News in 1555, have been widely studied and repeatedly cited as the foreteller of a variety of major events in the centuries since.
Cynics like me are are quick to note that Nostradamos never picked a correct Superbowl or Powerball winner, but I digress.
Eastern practitioners stayed more traditional, as will be noted in Part II.
Two key components of astrology are the zodiac and the horoscope. The zodiac is defined as "an image symbolized by a series of mythical beings or animals, representing specific celestial constellations". This image is further described as "an artificial belt, encompassing the constellations on the celestial sphere, extending 8 degrees on either side of the ecliptic". To put it more simply, I have no idea what I just quoted.
The zodiac is subdivided into 12 (or 13) equal sections, which bear the name of particular zodiacal signs. Each section is "traversed successively by the sun in its annual motion, constituting one calendar year". This, I can understand without simplification.
Depending on one's birth sign within the zodiac, one would inherently have or display traits attributable to one's specific sign. In Western astrology, there are 12 such recognized signs, with a disputed 13th sign according to a few practitioners. In Eastern, or Chinese astrology -- on which I'll begin to focus in Part II -- a different set of 12 animals are represented.
In the West, the standard 12 signs of the zodiac are Aries (the Ram), Taurus (the not-yet-bankrupt Ford), Gemini (the pre-Apollo capsule), Cancer (liberal ideology), Leo (a former writer for US News & World Report), Virgo (the Virgin), Libra (the French bra), Scorpio (a bad-tempered land crawdad), Sagittarius (the aging problem), Capricorn (Goat with bad hooves), Aquarius (sung by the Fifth Dimension) and Pisces (a fish seeking PETA protection). And for those who believe in the controversial 13th sign, there is Gorkus (two buzzards colliding in midair). For those believing themselves born under this sign, I can simply say it sucks to be you.
More on the Chinese version of astrology and horoscopes in Part II.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year, Same Baaaaad Skunk

Yawp...that's me.
It's 2009, and I'm still dealing with a few of my endless retinue of scammers from 2008. But here's how another couple of "cull downs" went, proving that in '09, I'm still a baaaaaad Skunk.
First, the photographs: the bikini-clad one is "Olga Bessanova", a Russian woman from Perm, Russia (so she says), who wrote to me (and gawd knows how many others), and decided that I -- aka, Jerome "Curly" Howard -- was the man of her dreams.
All her dreams are of $100 bills jumping a fence and landing in her purse/wallet, I reckon.
The other gal -- also purportedly a Russian named "Sveta", who had a shorter run with U. R. Phulovit in the "send me money, honey" game -- is here for reasons more anatomical. Which will be 'splained here in a mo'.
The usual routine: "Olga" sends out her email(s), and plays the beautiful-but-frustrated unmarried Russian woman, who seeks a husband who isn't like all Russian men: "always to be drunk and abuse the woman physically". Her wish is perfectly understandable. No woman should want to be with an abusive, drunk Russian doof. Or any abusive, drunk doof, period.
At any rate, one of those emails winds up in one of ol' Skunk's email boxes. From which, it got forwarded to his "dead Curly" box for response. And Olga latches on to "Curly" like a fly to a fresh meadow muffin. After a total of almost 100 emails -- 35 of which were my replies -- Olga is totally "in the love of" Curly, and has been in touch with a Russian "travel agency" to arrange for her trip to the USA, to marry Curly.
Let's forget he's a dead and buried comedian for a sec; it's the principle of the thing. She says she wants to come and marry Curly, and live a dream life in the USA. But what she really intends, is to get "Curly" to send her $900 to complete her needed funds for a "visa and airline ticket", which is actually meant to go to her and/or her handlers, whatever particular scam ring she's working for. And once she has that, she's done with poor ol' Curly.
If she's even a real "she".
Well, as I demonstrated in a prior episode -- How To Cull A Mocking Herd -- there's more than one way to shed a GUDD*. One is, tell her she's been trying to romance a corpse. Another is the "rodeo sex" ploy. Still another, tell her "I ain't got no money, honey", and watch her disappear faster than sheep from an Islamofascist "Martyr's Favorite Virgins" convention.
And then, there's taking a page from a woman's own playbook: How To Totally Freak Out A Guy. One of the worst questions a guy can ever be confronted with by the love of his life is one that Eve first dropped on Adam, shortly after the snake thang turned domestic bliss absolutely wonky: "Is my butt getting fat?". A guy has a better chance of running blindfolded into a minefield and surviving, than he has of coming up with the right answer to that 'un.
So"Curly", took that page, and re-writ it a tad. First, Olga's last email to Curly:
My love Jerome, I am very strong on you I miss. I wait from you for your letter that confirmed to me the money I need to come on you! All my ideas are only about you! I impatient to wait!
So now Curly makes use of that re-writ page from the playbook, and the two photographs above:
Dear Olga,
It is sometimes difficult to write a letter like this, and say to someone like you some potentially unpleasant things. But I owe you the same degree of honesty that you've given me all this time.
I have met someone new. Her name is Irina. She is like you, from Russia. But she is here, on a six month visa or mastercard, I forget which. You, however, aren't here. You're there. In Russia. See what I just did there?
Irina is here. You aren't. Irina works where I do. You don't. And Irina has fallen for me. Okay, so you did, too, and first.
Well, I fell for you, and first. But now, I fall for Irina. She's here. You're not. Do you see a commonality developing here? No? Well, there's more. The most important part.
Irina is young; and so are you. Irina is beautiful, and so are you. Irina is unmarried, and so are you. But now, we come to two key differences: Irina is here, and you're not. The other difference is -- and this is critical, Olga, very critical in the final analysis -- Irina's butt is only a third as big as yours. See the comparative photos I attached to this email? Undeniable. You have a bigger butt than Irina.
Why is this critical, Olga? Because over here, women ask men a potentially volatile question at some point(s) in a relationship: "is my butt getting fat?". Olga, yours already is. Irina's isn't. If she asked me that question tomorrow, I could answer it honestly with no fear of retribution or having my manhood whacked off. But with you...there's no waiting for it. You're already at the "uh...yes" stage.
So sorry to break it to you this way even when I'm really not sorry at all. But I am sure you can find another man who prefers a big fat ass like yours, and will no doubt be happy to buy you a nice, fashionable back-up alarm for it, like OSHA over here requires.
It's been nice meeting and falling in love with you, Olga. But Irina wins, because she's here and you're not. And her butt isn't near as big as yours.
After receiving the average of a couple emails a day from Olga, this brought the communications to an abrupt halt, with a one sentence reply from what I reckon is a thoroughly-pissed Olga:
you i wish no more to write from to me.
I know it was the "butt" thing. Baaaaaaaad Skunk.
* Geographically UnDesirable Dame
And now for the other "cull": Anastasia Tretiakova. She, too, was corresponding with Curly, after her heart was broken by Jack N. Ewehoff (though, while using the very same photos and first name with Jack, her last name was Melatakova). She finally arrived at the moment where she was hot and ready to travel to spend the rest of her life with Curly -- her "one and only truest love" -- but she was short the money for her travel visa and airline tickets. Yawpski. About $900 USD short. Yawpski. But Anastasia was sure that Curly would come through for his truest love.
Instead, Curly shot her the following email on December 17:
Anastasia! Sh**!!! My wife found our correspondence!!! Damn damn damn!!! You must not write to me anymore at my email address. Write to me instead at (I gave her an alternate I use for scammers), and I will try to get this taken care of quickly! Love, Curly
Apparently, Anastasia -- or his/her handlers -- read that, and pulled the plug, as I got no more emails from Anastasia.
So I decided to take a stick and prod the bear, on Christmas Eve:
Anastasia! Darling! Great news that has nothing to do with Geico! My wife is gone! We can again make to bring you here, so we can start our wonderful life in America! I write to the travel agency for instructions! Soon, darling! I love you, Curly
On the morning of December 26, I find this terse reply from Anastasia:
You not tell me of married to wife. I am hurt very too much to this learn. How am I believe you now that you no longer have wife? I want much you, but there is doubt. How I believe you? Money is needed to get back to my trust, Jerome. This will tell me of your sincerity to me.
Trying to make herself sound properly "aggrieved", while hoping to retrieve the game...and the $900. Doncha just love "true" love?
So here's how I aim to "get back to her trust"; by telling her how Jerome "Curly" got rid of his wife:
Darling, you must trust me on this. She is gone. And it was so easy, really. For the longest time, she is wanting me to move piano from upstairs spare bedroom down to the family room. I procrastinated, because piano is very heavy and awkward. But when she find our emails, she is very, very mad, and so I wait a couple days and, to make peace, I tell her that I will move the piano. This somewhat mollifies her. So we move piano from spare bedroom to master bedroom, and out onto 3rd level patio deck. From there, I rig up a block and tackle pulley thing, to lower piano to ground. I have her go to ground to "guide" piano, while I "lower" it. Right when she grabbed ahold of the rope, I "accidentally" let go of my rope -- because I get "stung" by bee, I tell police -- and she and the piano met at second level.
Tragic, yes, but I never like piano, anyway.
So now you can come, and we can be together! I'll even buy you a new piano! Love, Jerome
Not another woid since ;-)
New Year.... Same Baaaaaad Skunk.