Posts in Category: Become What You Are

Nigerian 419 Scam: Chinese Edition [SFX: Stereotypical Gong]

CITIC Building, 14th Floor,
B section 19 Jianguomenwai Street
Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

Dear Partner,

Good day, firstly, I apologize for sending you this sensitive information via e-mail instead of a Certified mail/Post-mail. This is due to the urgency and importance of the information. I humbly crave your indulgence to read this e-mail with all seriousness of purpose because this project is based on Trust, confidentiality and sincerity of purpose in order to have an acceptable meeting of the minds. I am a forty eight years old (48) lawyer. My name is Mr. George Yao, a solicitor and personal attorney to an expatriate and a consultant with an American Oil company, PENNZOIL (Now deceased) He died in the Tsunami disaster on 26th December 2004 while on vacation in Thailand.

Six years ago, My Client successfully executed a contract for the Government of China {PRC} worth US$15.3 million dollars. A part payment of USD9.million dollars was paid to my client, while the balance of USD6.3million Dollars was still unpaid before my client died in the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster. However, all my efforts to locate the possible next of kin proved abortive. Until his sudden demise, He was not married and was 40years old.

NOW THE CRUX OF THIS E-LETTER is that the new Minister in Government is fully paying all foreign Contractors who have successfully executed their contracts and my client is among those benefited in this first quarter payment schedule which has already been deposited in his bank. As his personal attorney/Adviser, his bank has officially notified and instructed me to forward particulars of my client’s next of kin within the next 14 official working days so that he/she can be paid the outstanding USD6.3 Million dollars otherwise his payment will be diverted to the government coffers account as unclaimed bill.

Since I have been unsuccessful in locating any of his relatives, I decided to contact you for a deal so that we can work together as a team to remit the money to your account as my client next of kin since I do not want to seat and watch my client hard earned entitlement to go astray, it will be easy for us to achieve because you are of the same last name and color like him. Although I know that a transaction of this magnitude might make anyone apprehensive but I would like to assure you that I am proposing this project to you with the best of intensions. As a lawyer, I have the expertise to secure all the necessary legal documents that will be used for this claim. All I require from you is your honest co-operation to enable us see this deal through. I guarantee that this transaction will be executed under a Legitimate banking arrangement that will protect you from any breach of law. Upon successful conclusion of this project, you will be compensated with 40% of the total fund, while 60% will be for me.

If you are interested to work with me in this deal then kindly reply strictly to my email with your personal Mobile number/telephone for effective communication and oral clarification on how to proceed next thanks

Mr.George Yao
{Legal Adviser}
Tel: +86-10-63626140,
M/B: +86-13556147126

I love this e-mail because (1) it exploits the tsunami, (2) it turns wealthy China into the focal point of exploitation, (3) it contains the phrase “Legitimate banking arrangement” (a lower-case “l” is so bourgeois), and (4) it reminds me of a song.

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Take Elder

Long-time readers are well aware of my obsession with old-man tendencies. There was a time, long ago, when I did interesting things with interesting people. There was a time, even longer ago, when people mistook my long hair and seething anger for coolness. But I’ve always felt like an old man. Hormonal rage and teen angst masked it temporarily, as did the alarming social life I developed during college and abandoned almost immediately afterward. The only things that have ever led me to willingly go outside are confusion, anger, and desire to have sex with women who have little to no interest in a guy who would rather be at home, in a flannel bathrobe held together by patches, reading Dickens in an easy chair, a pair of half-glasses perched on the edge of his nose. I hid from that, but now I don’t give a fuck, even though I probably should.

My sister once observed, with frustrating astuteness, that I always seem “sorta bored.” This is absolutely true. Everything bores the shit out of me, unless it’s something I really dig, and I don’t dig pretty much anything my peers do. I don’t like being around a lot of people, I don’t like mood-altering substances, I don’t like attending events celebrating or paying homage to people I don’t know and/or things I don’t care about (read: everything)… All right, this list could go on forever. The list of things I enjoy is much shorter: books, movies, TV, music, one-on-one conversations, caffeine, and beating off. Keen readers will note the majority of these are passive, solitary activities. But some of them, particularly going to the movies and beating off, are vaguely youthful activities. And, as I understand it, if I finish on my face, it’ll add a youthful vibrance to my skin.

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No Happy Endings

The other night, Tarini and I spent awhile talking about my novel. She’s read about half of it and has a pretty good idea of where it’s going, since she lived much of the second half alongside me, so she understands that it’s going to get worse for the characters before it gets better. So, she made a suggestion: maybe I should incorporate my new relationship into the story, to end on a more positive note.

She didn’t know I’d already written the last chapter, months ago, and have geared the entire storyline of the second half toward that miserable chapter, in which it becomes pathetically clear that our narrator and protagonist has learned nothing and will continue to make terrible decisions motivated by selfishness, greed, and crippling low self-esteem.

That’s actually one of the few ways in which I differ from the character I’m writing. The entire novel, I’ve come to realize, is a way for me to both come to terms with my twenties and leave them happily behind. It has forced me to relive moments of my life I never wanted to revisit, but I’m finally processing it all, and that’s extremely helpful in moving forward. I don’t think it’s unusual to look back with rose-colored glasses, wanting to make the same mistakes because all we’re thinking about is the good, and before we remember the bad, we’re plunged cock-deep into a rerun of our lives. I’m spewing my reruns onto the page while a spectacular new season of my life unfolds—and you won’t believe what I have in store for November sweeps! (Hint: I have nothing in store.) Maybe that’ll make this novel solipsistic, navel-gazing bullshit, but why should I let that stop me? If nothing else, it’ll be more entertaining than Eat, Pray, Love.

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Dirty Shrimp

Those unfortunate souls who read this blog regularly know that I’ve had issues with mental age. Maybe, subconsciously, this has something to do with turning 30 on Saturday. In fact, it’d pretty much have to be subconscious, because until my family started ribbing me about the big three-oh, I thought I was turning 29. (That’s how much I care about my actual, physical age.)

Stephen Colbert said something relevant last week, to the effect of “A recent study shows happy people live 30% longer. Sure, but for depressed people, it feels longer.” That about sums it up.

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The Cocoanuts

I’ve thought a lot about Florida over the past couple of weeks. This might sound like an unfair generalization, because it is one, but I’m of the opinion that it’s the worst state in the union, by far. Worse than Alaska. Worse than Texas. Because Florida contains three types of people: elderly retirees who can’t drive, criminals hiding from outstanding warrants and/or child support payments who can’t drive, and rednecks more likely to form a sex cult or private militia than do anything useful with their lives who can’t drive. I wouldn’t want to live there. I wouldn’t want to raise a child there. I don’t even want to visit as a tourist.

But there’s that little, nattering voice in my head that can’t stop thinking about it. My special lady feels she needs to move there for her career. I happen to disagree with this opinion, but it’s not my choice to make, and I have no right to talk her out of it. So what would happen, this voice wonders, if I went with her?

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The Sickness

My special lady bailed on our choir rehearsal again last Monday. She seemed fine on Saturday, although she’d been sick the week before. She texted me a few minutes before the rehearsal to let me know her cold had transformed into a sinus infection. I have a history of dating comically dishonest women, so forgive me if my first thought was, “Bullshit.”

I mean, I wanted to believe her, but after our awkward Florida conversation and wheel-spinning date on Saturday, it would not have surprised me in the least if she bailed on another choir rehearsal because, in addition to our mutual agreement that the experience was not as enjoyable as either of us had thought it would be, she wanted to avoid me.

“Nah,” I told myself, “we barely see each other during choir rehearsals, anyway, so I can’t imagine she’d stay home just to avoid me.”

But maybe she would. She wouldn’t let me come over on Saturday, which seemed like a bad sign, but as always, she had a pretty reasonable explanation—one of her job leads had sent her a particularly lengthy application, which she wanted to get done so she could e-mail it to them before Monday. She had a busy Sunday, so she had to work on it on Saturday night. But when she told me she didn’t get around to finishing the application until Monday, Saturday’s reasonable explanation started to reek of bullshit. And if Saturday’s excuse was bullshit, couldn’t Monday’s be the same?

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Breakin’ Up

I knew it was over about three hours after my last new post. My not-so-special lady’s text glared at me like a polished turd (100% possible per Mythbusters): “Could you please bring my Doctor Who DVDs to rehearsal tonight?” She didn’t know how jammed my Mondays are—work, then straight to therapy, then straight to rehearsal, with a dinner of granola bars in my car in the Harper College parking lot—but luckily, I’d had the DVDs sitting in my car for weeks, since I expected to see her much sooner than this.

It’s weird when something seemingly innocuous feels like the worst possible omen, but her behavior over the past few weeks left little room for doubt. The part of me that wanted to believe she was just sick and everything would return to relative normalcy as soon as she got better grew smaller and smaller with each new sign that she was preparing to end things.

“Why not just put it out of its misery?” I asked myself. When I got to rehearsal, she seemed pretty normal, though—chatty and pleasant. She even seemed to forget she asked me to bring the Doctor Who DVDs an hour earlier. I wanted to put a hash mark under the “Innocuous Message” column, and she made it easy to do that, so I let her.

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I spent years (too many damn years) writing overlong synopses for terrible movie scripts. One place I worked for demanded a minimum of two pages, which might seem pretty short for a 100-page screenplay, but keep in mind that most movie stories can be described in fairly specific terms in three paragraphs. Also keep in mind that nobody ever read the synopses, which made the process even more galling. Even when I got used to it, I still dreaded it.

Now, I’ve found a potential publisher for my novel. They asked first for a “synopsis,” which made me write a quick, enticing paragraph. Then, they asked for a “plot outline,” and I realized they wanted something much more specific, akin to what I used to write.

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Virginia Tech Tribute: Revisiting Cheerfully Obscene Satire

The latest shooting at Virginia Tech reminded me of arguably the most depraved, cheerfully offensive thing I’ve ever done. I don’t really get off on offending people, although it is sort of funny. I just have a really demented sense of humor and enjoy skewering popular culture.

It started with R. Kelly, who quickly produced a tribute single to shamelessly promote his new album, Double Up. The very idea made me laugh, especially when I heard the song and realized it had nothing, really, to do with Virginia Tech (aside from some spoken-word lip service paid to the victims and survivors in the preamble).

I thought, “How would Girth exploit this tragedy?” I’d already written the disturbing gun-control “rapcore” anthem, “Gangster Lovestick,” which seemed an appropriate song to revisit and repurpose under the guise of a “tribute single.”

It got worse when Seung Hui Cho’s writings were leaked. I had little choice in the matter: I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ridicule terrible writing in which serious emotional problems were more than apparent. In an act of satire that involves a song describing a woman masturbating with a gun barrel, maybe it’s amazing that I find Girth’s answer to Richard McBeef more offensive and terrible. I look at it the same way I look at any act of terrorism: if we can’t mercilessly ridicule the aggressor, they get their way. (That’s why I loved Four Lions.) So, here’s a little reprint of the Virginia Tech tribute piece from May 9, 2007:

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