Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Can o' Spam

I'm so fond of those vitally important messages that flood everyone's computer "In" boxes that I've begun something of a collection of my favorites. Since I never open the actual messages, all I have to go by are the few words that accompany them. I note they fall into categories, and I present some of them here, exactly as I received them, and with my immediate reactions:

Category 1: I wouldn't touch these with a ten-foot pole

"Want your babe to moan loud?" ("Babe"? Didn't "babe" go out with "groovy"? I think the word "chick" is a lot cooler, man! Shows you're really with it and hip. And the answer is still "No!")

"Wanna meet?" (Uh, thank you, but I'll pass.)

"Become superman...return life to your rod!" (What do you mean, "return"?)

Category 2: The Carrot and the Stick

"create yourDestiny and obtain twenty grand. --folks all around the nation are rushing to join us, working for 1 just hour and......" (Oh, yeah, I can look out my window and see folks around the nation rushing to join whatever in hell it is you're peddling.)

"Crime Scene Investigators Wanted" (By whom? For what?)

Category 3: Nice almost had me

"Everything's cancelled today." (Now that one I liked. I didn't open it, but I liked it)

Category 4: Riiiight

"Transform yourLife by obtaining 10000 without anyStrings attached. Right from the Gov, gain stupendous...." (10000 what? "The Gov"? The governor?)

"Re: Half-priced Houses: 3-4-5 Bedroom-Forclosures from 128/month" (Care to pick out the operative word in that sentence?)

Category 5: Long-lost pals

"Saying hi, Chrissy from myspace :)--hi there its been like a month or something since we last chatted and I was...." (Uh, try more like forever, Chrissy, and no, I would not like to buy your nude photos.)

Category 6: New words

"Do it now. Taking these blue pilules is like drinking from an infinite spring of endurance and desire...." (A "pilule"? What the hell is a "pilule"?)

Category 7: Irresistible Intrigue

"Hey! mgrprm zspu 2 piekvnr; cpiqcej! ewbxk....." (Well, that's a real inducement to open the thing.)

Category 8: The fine art of subtlety

"good stuff--for your meat muscle" (What a charming euphemism!)

"Do it now. --Be her mighty night predator" (Her? Oh, Charlie, are you barking up the wrong tree!)


I'm saving all of the above to open and carefully peruse shortly after hell freezes over.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back...and bring a friend. And I'd be pleased to have you drop by my website ( from time to time.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Let's face it. We are increasingly a society of eunuchs.

Lily Tomlin's wonderful character, Ernestine, the telephone operator, sums up much of what has led to this situation with her classic line: "We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company." This attitude is shared by fully 95 percent of all corporations and businesses upon whom our lives depend, and the endlessly repeated assurances that "your call is very important to us" while you sit on hold for 45 minutes is nothing but bullshit. The worst thing is that the company knows it is bullshit and, like Ernestine's employer, they simply don't care. Why should they? What can you do about it, anyway?

My nearest supermarket is a large Chicago chain, Dominick's, and I've been shopping with them since I moved back to Chicago. There is a large one near my friend Norm's, with whom I stayed when I first arrived. It's a good store, and I like it. However, the one closest to me is located adjacent to DePaul University. It's a much smaller store and it is patently obvious that the corporation uses it as a dumping ground for outdated products. Because it is located near a university and its customers are largely college kids who, it is highly unlikely, even realize there is an expiration date on anything (including their own lives), the company rightly assumes they'll never notice they're being ripped off.

I have complained to the manager at least six times about the fact that their dairy products are, 80 percent of the time, either past their "sell by" date or within one or two days of it. The manager listens patiently each time, assures me that it is all purely coincidental, that there is absolutely no conscious effort on Dominick's part to try to pawn off older products at this particular store, and sends me on my way.

Yesterday while shopping there, I saw a product I'd not seen before....a packaged coffee flavoring, which I decided to try. This morning, as I fixed my coffee, I opened the package and took out one of the six packets. Looking for the calorie count, which I always do since I need all the calories I can get, I noted "Expires: 01-19-09." I plan to return it to the store, and I will again speak to the manager, who will apologize and again assure me that it was purely coincidental. And I will once again be sent on my way, fuming. I'm thinking of asking for the name and address of Dominick's C.E.O. and writing him/her. But we all know where that will lead, don't we?

Ours is increasingly a society in which the individual is constantly made aware that he or she is totally at the mercy of whatever greed-driven whim strikes those too powerful to be affected by what anyone thinks. The feeling of being totally, utterly powerless is frustrating, and too much frustration can easily lead to madness. Is it really any wonder that people wander around with loaded weapons (thanks, N.R.A.!!) finally venting their frustration by shooting people at random?

So I will ask for the name and address of Dominick's C.E.O., and I will write him/her, and though I know full well it will either never be read or will be viewed through the glazed eyes of total indifference, doing something is better than doing nothing. And I hold the romantic's hope that if enough other people actually did let those in power know they're sick and tired of being shat upon, there might actually be hope for change. Perhaps pigs can fly.

When is the last time you felt taken advantage of? When's the last time you were treated rudely or ignored by a sales person? Or had poor service in a restaurant, or been served cold or overcooked food? But more importantly, when is the last you did anything about it? When is the last time you asked to speak to a manager?....Think, now..... Exactly. There does come a time when we get what we deserve, and every time you allow yourself to be treated poorly without saying something....well, I'm sorry, but you get what you deserve.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back, and bring a friend. (And I'd be pleased to have you drop by my website at from time to time.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Because my generosity---and modesty---, is legend, and because I am truly appreciative of the fact that you follow these blogs, I have decided to share with you (yes, you!) the astonishing largesse which the fates have just bestowed upon me. Because I am still so overwhelmed by my good fortune and giddy in anticipation, I shall simply reproduce here, in it's entirety, a just-received email which explains it all:



I am a Director of World Bank Development Programme {WBDP VISION 2010} Africa region, and my name is Dr.George Mbeki, from South Africa. I am currently on official assignment in Nigeria.

As an officer of the World Bank we are not allowed to operate foreign bank accounts or handle private business operations.

Hence I am in search of an independent foreign partner to assist in the re-profiling of the US$36 MILLION. Specifically, you will be required to:

1. Front as the beneficiary of the funds.
2. Assist in the transfer of the funds into a bank account provided by you.

As you may wish to know, the US$17 MILLION accrued from the US$1.5 BILLION recently approved by the World Bank Group for various development projects in Nigeria. The contract projects have been successfully executed and this excess fund of US$17 MILLION is floating in a suspense account. It will take only a few days to complete the transfer to your account and the business is completely risk free.

After the transfer, 45% of the US$17 MILLION will be your share. 10% will be set aside to reimburse expenses {if any} incurred during the transaction. 45% will be for me.


If you are interested, pls immediately the following particulars:

1. Your full name and address
2. The name of yor company and address
3. Your direct phone and fax numbers.
4. A bank account where you want the fund transferred  into.

Reply to my confidential email address:

Yours faithfully,

Dr. George Mbeki


If you wish to go into this once-in-ten-lifetimes opportunity with me (I have no doubt but that it is a genuine, totally legal proposal since Dr. Mbeki assures us it is "risk free," and I trust any representative of a foreign government implicitly), please contact me immediately via email. And please, no need to thank me. It's the least I can do.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back, and bring a friend.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I have never considered myself...or been considered by anyone else to arbiter of taste and refinement. I to this day consider my mother's allowing me, in junior high to paint my bedroom chartreuse and maroon the ultimate example of a mother's love. But I do know schlock when I see it.

I realize that one man's schlock is another man's idea of exquisite taste, and that's fine. Elvis paintings on black velvet, those adorable little figurines of cherubs and little children with huge, sad eyes standing on a little pedestal with "I Wuv You!" on the base, those innumerable "Starving Artists" paintings cranked out in under four minutes....they may not be my taste, but no matter.

I also don't mind crap as long as it doesn't pretend to be anything but crap, but spending an hour watching television---especially those channels without major network affiliations and therefore dependent "not sold in stores" products and those execrable infomercials---demonstrates Mammon at his worst. I'm sure you have seen the "Obama Chia"s now being peddled on commercials around the country. It's surpasses crap and reaches for blushingly embarrassing. I beg your pardon if your dining room and kitchen windows are lined with those adorable little Chia llamas and sheep and whatever....that's fine. But excrement coated in candy is still excrement, and it is with the sales pitch accompanying this particular pile of dung to which I object totally. It should, in my humble and always reasoned opinion, have the ad agency who came up with it banned forever.

So there's this clay head looking somewhat like our president, see, and you soak it in water and in a few days, weeks, months or years, depending on how much of a green thumb you have, you get a clay head of our first African American president in a huge, green afro. Even that, astonishingly inappropriate example of bad taste that it is, would be marginally tolerable were it just plunked out there in any store with sufficient lack of shame to carry it. But no; they have spent Lord knows how much money pitching it to "show your support for our nation and our new president." Oh, for the love of God, have these people no shame? Just how low will the purveyors of this crud sink to get you to part with your money? (That was a rhetorical question, since we all know that is a pit without a bottom.) And why hasn't the N.A.A.C.P. been screaming bloody murder?

I have new respect for the Walgreen's Drug Store chain, which yanked Chia Obama from their shelves.

And then there is the offer of the small "jewel-encrusted, silver" (plated) cross of the sort generally sold by street vendors from open cases atop TV trays. When you hold the cross up to your eye....and why anyone would want to do that is also a can read The Lord's Prayer through a little magnifying window. Just what the world has been waiting for! Again, this tawdry gee-gaw would be okay were it not promoted on TV and in magazines in the reverent tones reserved for anticipation of the Second Coming. The inference is that if you do not rush out and buy several ("they make excellent gifts"), you are a godless heathen. And it comes in its own little box with....and this for me is the clincher....a "Certificate of Authenticity"! A what? What "authenticity" is it certifying? That it is totally worthless?

Oh, I know, I am being cynical again. I know there are good, dear people who take pleasure in such things, and I do not mean to criticize them. I do mean to criticize those manufacturers and advertisers for whom the only motive is money. Their utter hypocrisy and greed in preying on the innocents they see as as easy targets. Is shameful.

And I am sure, were those responsible to read this blog entry, they would cease their disgraceful money-grubbing immediately. Of course they would. (Watch out for the flying pigs.)

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back, and bring a friend.

Monday, May 04, 2009


It bothers me deeply that I seem to spend more and more of my time being angry. I am, it seems, far more frequently angry, and that anger often escalates into full blown fury. I received a notice from my cable/internet service provider telling me that in their constant efforts to provide even better service to me, their valued customer, they are raising my already-astronomically high rates by yet another "$5 to $6" (care to guess which it will be?), and are in the process of "reorganizing my service package" (read they will be cutting the number of channels I receive), but will be offering a "new" package plan, which I have no doubt, will include exactly the same channels they will be cutting from my regular service at an even higher rate.

Postal rates going up again in May? Gee, that's really a shame. Go find yourself another post office.

I titled this blog entry "Screwed"? My, what a harsh and crude thing to say. Have I no couth? Not when I feel I'm being screwed, I don't. And if you think for one minute you're not being screwed either, just look back over your shoulder at the long line of companies, corporations, agencies, banks, credit card companies and "service organizations" all standing in line behind you, waiting their turn.

And the fury comes from the fact that there is not one single thing I or anyone else can do about it. It will be exactly the same as when I complained to my insurance company that my rates rose by 10-15 percent every year, regular as clockwork--as a matter of fact, I suspect it WAS clockwork. ("Oh, here it is March. Time to raise our premiums.") They, of course, being in business only to serve their customers, were extremely sympathetic. "We understand completely, Mr. Margason. Please feel free to find another insurance provider." The fact that every other insurance company raises their rates exactly the same amount at exactly the same time has nothing at all to do with it, of course. And far be it....FAR, I say....from me to in any way suggest that reps from every insurance company get together at some $900-a-night hotel and engage, over champagne and caviar, in a good old fashioned game of collusion. Collusion is illegal, and we all know that. So of course they would never consider it.

It is the same with credit card companies. If I as an individual were to loan you $100 and charge you 29 percent interest, you could sue me for usury. But credit card companies do it with impunity and no one....sues a credit card company.

When I lived in northern Wisconsin, on the border with the U.P. of Michigan, every time there was a boost in the price of oil, every single one of the eight gas stations in the area would raise their prices by the exact same amount within ten minutes of one another. The fact that the gas in their underground tanks had already been purchased, and the barrels of crude oil with the higher price would not make it to the refineries for weeks if not months in no way dissuaded anyone.

And out of curiosity, when is the last time you saw prices other than the volatile gas pump prices come down once they are raised? And you can have no doubt that if they could have gotten away with it, we would still be paying $4.95 per gallon. (Of course that will never happen again. No, never.)

Oh, Lord, I truly, truly do not like to be this way. I want to see the good in people. I honestly believe that there are companies out there who occasionally look beyond the bottom line. But they are harder and harder to find and I cannot, at the moment, think offhand of a single one.

The anger rests, again, in my feeling of utter helplessness. I know all this fury is not good for my mind or my body, but I seem increasingly unable to deal with it without venting it through these blogs. I do appreciate your bearing with me, and the fact that you do suggests I may not be totally alone.

New entries are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back....and bring a friend.