Ah, Poor, Ignorant Others

digital drawing

The Royal We

We wish the world would so improve as to fit with us in our groove,

But while we grandly sit and wait, and yammer and pontificate

On all the failings, all the fuss of people being unlike us,

So stupid and so retrograde as to be differently made

And to espouse another thought than the superb one that we’ve got—

How troublesome! Noses aloft, we deem them worthy to be scoffed

And cringe in horror that they’d dream of doubting that we are supreme—

All ills, in fact, could be foregone if others could be counted on

To shape right up and so improve as to fit into our great groove.

Foodie Tuesday: Rinse and Repeat

You all know what a fan I am of leftovers and ‘repurposed’ ingredients. Most of the foods I’ve been fixing lately have been a continuation of that tradition of mine, especially because it’s been a particularly busy time around our place. We’ve had the usual spate of spring concerts and recitals, more than the usual number of social and business-social events at home and other places, and planning and preparation for a large quantity of upcoming happenings. The garden’s been coming in at top speed. I’ve been trying to clean house more seriously than I had in a long time, because it’s really overdue and I’d love to sell off and give away a lot of underutilized Things. Oh, and I’m trying hard, really I am, not to fall behind with my writing and artwork.

That latter means, naturally, keeping my blogging current, but in addition it means working on two art commissions—one a super-fast turnaround project I just got a few days ago. It also includes attempting to continue with the development of several books to follow up on the one I published in January.

I’m neither complaining nor bragging, just stating a truth that is pretty much like the daily one facing the majority of people I know, each with his or her variations on the details. And it reinforces my attachment to quick, simple, reusable and flexible ingredients and dishes more than ever. Today, for example, I made and froze what will (I’m certain) be a delicious potato side dish for later this week, when friends are coming over for a casual dinner visit. I used a combination of a smashed microwave ‘baked’ potato, a handful of chopped and mashed leftover french fries—good hand cut ones from our favorite old school steakhouse—a handful of crushed leftover potato chips, and enough leftover pimiento cheese from the batch I made for our party the other night to make it all into a cheesy potato casserole. I had some crisped bacon in the fridge, so the casserole is topped with that for the finish. It doesn’t look like so much yet, being in the freezer and all, but I’m expecting to enjoy it quite a bit, along with whatever else I manage to put together for the occasion.photo

Confession: I got an itch to do something trendy, despite being so rarely trendy myself, and I made a lattice out of the bacon. Silly, but kind of fun. And if one is going to wrestle with trying to cook a little in the midst of lots of real life busyness, shouldn’t there be a little bit of silly fun involved? No, wait: a lot?

 

Now that My Hair is Longer

It’s interesting, this growing out my hair after about fifteen years of having it fairly short. Suddenly I’ve got wavy hair, and it not only looks different from the super-straight short stuff I had but I kind of like it better now that it’s got white hairs streaking through it here and there. Go figure. Still, that doesn’t make the following poem true. Just sayin’.photoLady Samson

 Her hair’s grown long now; does this signify

She’s stronger yet somehow, or then, have I

Mistaken this adornment so hirsute

For something that a person more acute

Would recognize as only pretty hair?

I’ll ponder it (and hope not seem to stare)

Until a sign arises that this length,

If only by its beauty, gives her strength,

For anyway, I oughtn’t give a fig

E’en on discovering that it’s a wig.photo

For Ourrrrrrr Boisterous Friends

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I humbly make my contribution:

digital illustration

How d’ye like the swash o’ my buckle?

All Hands on Deck

(and If You Ain’t Got Both of Yourn, Git Along Up There Anyhow!)

Methinks the parley perilous with pirates gaudy, garrulous,

spectacularly scare-ulous, with too much time to spare;

That’s when the day gets dicier, the swordplay sharply spicier,

and nastily not-nicier linguistics fill the air,

For pirates, though a jolly sort, think keelhauling the keenest sport,

‘n’ walkin’ the plank, starboard or port, a fine means to such ends;

So watch your tongue (and your nose ‘n’ ears) when a peg-legged, cutlassed cur appears

and he with his Hook-fist henchmen nears, for they are risk-fraught friends

Who’ll trim the hedges about your garden without so much as a beg-yer-pardon,

then trim you to size without regardin’ your nat’ral breadth or height;

So parley with care, and watch your purses, as well as the strength of your pirate curses,

or fall beyond reach of the leech‘s nurses ere day drops into night.

All this aside, and despite the urge a pirate may feel as a dramaturg,

he might invite you to join the surge toward a pleasanter thing to do:

Join with his crew, ye smirkin’ smarty, drink and be merry and join the party,

and dance and laugh like a loon most hearty, and talk like a pirate too!digital illustration

Image/Self Image

digital illustrationBeauty is in the Mirror of the Beholder

Brenda, trendy modernist, zips through her ultra-racy home

Her super-powered vacuum on a wave of pearly foam;

Her sexy subatomic voice, her skirt of crisp chiffon,

Her to-the-minute kitchen wares, her wildly brilliant spawn,

Her microscopic facial pores, her savvy in her biz,

Convince nobody that she’s great, but make her think she is.

Hot Flash Fiction 7: The Scientists’ Children

It was pretty rare and indeed a little suspect back in those days that both husband and wife were scientists. That the Cruikshanks, odd ducks each one, also both taught the Modern Sciences at the local normal school only opened them to further scrutiny and whispering. So when Rupert’s distant aunt died and left him her desolate hardscrabble farm and its rickety frame house at the dead end of the worst road in a dry, mean county, husband and wife packed up their trunks, borosilicate retorts and all, and moved right out to that far frontier, disappearing as though in a puff of salty dust. It was only some years later, when they began to appear in search of provisions at the nearest town’s dry goods emporium with their two remarkable young children in tow, that folk in that region began to guess that perhaps the inexplicable strangeness of the Cruikshank life was not lessened, let alone ended, by any means.digital collage

I Won a Zillion Dollars! SERIOUSLY???

photoScams are as old as human interaction. I can only assume that among the first hunter-gatherer people wandering this great globe there were some who quickly discovered that if they used certain diversionary or distracting tactics or played the Needy card even when they’d just been gnawing on a good fat hunk of food, some softhearted other would hand over his or her hard-earned goodies. The more purportedly sentient and sophisticated we get, the more elaborate the flimflam. Bamboozling and outright fraud and thievery are well honed skills among those so inclined. And we who live in Bloglandia know better than most what rich tillage is available for such nefarious labors if the tricksters and crooks are even the least bit techno-savvy.

As a blogger I am the not so proud owner of a spam filter that scoops up as many as several dozen phishing and monetary theft attempts in any single day. One of the aspects that makes me especially irritated is the irksome knowledge that unlike promotional and advertising spam–tiresome enough–scam emails offer no possible way for me to Unsubscribe from their persistent and pernicious pestering. If I should be so foolish as to respond with an angry Unsubscribe letter of my own, and yes, of course I’ve done it just to let off steam, odds are astronomically against there being a human at the other end of the equation rather than the helpfully designed automation that considers any reply a positive one and an invitation for further encouragement to Send Money to the phisherman or woman on the other end of the hook, line and sinker.

Bad enough that I should have to waste my time cleaning out multitudes of junk emails. I know, too, that sending along any evidence of this sort of thing to any kind of authorities is futile, and of course the perpetrators of the intended crime also know it full well. As soon as there’s the slightest hint of danger, such lurkers dart off to new pseudonyms and reroute their emails, disappearing without a trace until the next move is necessitated, leaving a wake of idle dalliances and false promises broader than any black widow‘s.

photoThat comparison, though, is apt enough, since the intent is to play upon vulnerable people’s sympathy, greed and loneliness just far enough to get them to surrender the largest amount of cash and personal information the con artist can manage to accrue before leaving like a sneeze: at high velocity and with the victim left covered only in his own shame and sorrow. That these scams work best against the elderly, the young, the inexperienced and the poor is certainly one of the greatest of sins committed by Scam Scum. The amount of creativity involved in developing their villainous schemes, while it could of course be put to higher and kinder uses, seems to me to be lessening with the ease of perpetration offered by anonymous technology.

What quickly became known years ago as the Nigerian scam, for example, has veered only so far as to another part of an equally fictional version of Africa, as my current roster of letters almost always references Benin rather than Nigeria–but the rest of the content remains constant. Plug in new names and change two or three of the variables, and surely someone, even one who knows by now to be wary of references to Nigeria, will respond, and all’s well in the world of easy money. Those who use the cloak of putative widow- or widower-hood, political or religious persecution, or just plain blind trust to approach strangers and ask for help in securing and using massive funds do the very same. I can cite in particular one ‘Mary Mohomed’ who has continued to send me variations on her theme of pretend benevolence repeatedly, even under the same name, claiming an intimacy with me that even in my dotage of 50+ is hilariously impossible to believe of a total stranger. ‘She’ and her obvious relatives ‘Mrs. Rose Daniel’, ‘Mr. David May’, and ‘Mrs. Grace Ike’, along with numerous others–remarkably friendly Doctors, Ambassadors and (lest I be suspicious) officers of various trustworthy government agencies here and abroad, all love me and care for my welfare so deeply that they are willing to seek me out without introduction and invite my participation in ever so many worthy causes, all to be remunerated beyond-generously. And all for a teeny, tiny, infinitesimal, nominal, negligible fee on my part to get the party started.

Now, I will admit to a certain level of entertainment inherent in reading these letters, if and when I occasionally stoop to do so. Besides the intriguing effort to vary the plot line (a transparent practice that results in the virtual equivalent of visible panty lines or the Mad Libs sort of method certain serial novelists are said to use to rework one story into multiple books) email scam letters are loaded with typos, bad grammar and incorrect usage that, while it perhaps does reflect badly on the current state of language in the US and other English speaking locales, often provides hilarious unintentional asides. Today’s prizewinner in this phishing derby is the following letter, which clearly presumes that I would believe that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has an interest in seeing that I, an unknown but obviously well loved citizen of the Bureau’s own country, receive a sum of money won at random (yes, without my even trying) outside of its own jurisdiction from a lottery in a country not named and the coffers of a generically named pretend gaming Company, and discovered by, I am supposed to suppose, the purposeful working of the Bureau’s own fantastic newfangled machine whose purpose is apparently to monitor activities that are, again, outside of its purview. If that isn’t catchy and convoluted enough for a really cheesy Movie of the Week, I don’t know what is. But I’m glad I’ll have my $2.4million USD handy now to fund the making of said movie. Thanks, FBI! So glad it’ll only cost me $96 of my own money up front to get all of this in perfect order.

Anti-Terrorist And Monetary Crimes Division
FBI Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Federal Bureau Of Investigation
J.Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, Nw Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
http://www.fbi.gov

ATTENTION: BENEFICIARY

This e-mail has been issued to you in order to Officially inform you that we have completed an investigation on an
International Payment in which was issued to you by an International Lottery Company. With the help of our newly
developed technology (International Monitoring Network System) we discovered that your e-mail address was automatically
selected by an Online Balloting System, this has legally won you the sum of $2.4million USD from a Lottery Company
outside the United States of America. During our investigation we discovered that your e-mail won the money from an
Online Balloting System and we have authorized this winning to be paid to you via INTERNATIONAL CERTIFIED BANK DRAFT.

Normally, it will take up to 5 business days for an INTERNATIONAL CERTIFIED BANK DRAFT by your local bank. We have
successfully notified this company on your behalf that funds are to be drawn from a registered bank within the world
winded, so as to enable you cash the check instantly without any delay, henceforth the stated amount of $2.4million USD
has been deposited with IMF.

We have completed this investigation and you are hereby approved to receive the winning prize as we have verified the
entire transaction to be Safe and 100% risk free, due to the fact that the funds have been deposited with IMF  you will
be required to settle the following bills directly to the Lottery Agent in-charge of this transaction whom is located in
Cotonou, Benin Republic. According to our discoveries, you were required to pay for the following,

(1) Deposit Fee’s ( IMF INTERNATIONAL CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE )
(3) Shipping Fee’s ( This is the charge for shipping the Cashier’s Check to your home address)

The total amount for everything is $96.00 We have tried our possible best to indicate that this $96.00 should be
deducted from your winning prize but we found out that the funds have already been deposited IMF and cannot be accessed
by anyone apart from you the winner, therefore you will be required to pay the required fee’s to the Agent in-charge of
this transaction

In order to proceed with this transaction, you will be required to contact the agent in-charge ( Mr. Nicholas Smith )
via e-mail. Kindly look below to find appropriate contact information:

CONTACT AGENT NAME: Mr. Nicholas Smith
E-MAIL : revnicholassmith1@yahoo.com.tr
PHONE NUMBER: +22996334110

You will be required to e-mail him with the following information:

FULL NAME:
ADDRESS:
CITY:
STATE:
ZIP CODE:
DIRECT CONTACT NUMBER:
OCCUPATION:

You will also be required to request Western Union or Money Gram details on how to send the required $96.00  in order to
immediately ship your prize of $2.4million USD via INTERNATIONAL CERTIFIED BANK DRAFT from IMF, also include the
following transaction code in order for him to immediately identify this transaction : EA2948-910.

This letter will serve as proof that the Federal Bureau Of Investigation is authorizing you to pay the required $96.00
ONLY to Mr. Nicholas Smith  via information in which he shall send to you,

Mr. Robert Mueller
Federal Bureau of Investigation F B I
Yours in Service,Photograph of Director
Robert S. Mueller, IIIRobert S. Mueller,
III Director Office of Public Affairs

And if you believe all that, I give you free of charge this magnificent bank vault in which you too can store all of your wealth. Enjoy!photo