The Sting (Part 2)

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Since this is the continuing 2nd part of a three-part series of posts, let’s begin with a brief recap from last time. Fed up with mountains of spam emails flooding my inbox each week, I decided to enact some good-natured revenge on the scam artists on behalf of all similarly afflicted email users.

The plan was simple. I would choose an email promising me riches beyond my wildest dreams, feign interest in what they had to say and in the process attempt to waste as much of their time as possible. I took inspiration for my mischief-making scheme from the likes of on-line videos such as this one –

By the time I’d finished, a total of 26 emails across nine days had been exchanged between myself and the not-so-bright fraudster at the other end. This person claimed to be female (something I’m pretty certain wasn’t true). Gender then would provide me with the angle I needed.

As our conversations across the days unfolded, I cranked out my very best ♥♥ ‘lonely hearts’ ♥♥ persona and managed to pretend to become totally besotted by this person. The aim was to gradually move our exchanges more and more away from the business side of things and more on to talk about ‘us’.  Part 1 can be found HERE.

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Now bring on Part 2

My Dear Glen,

I have seen your details, I will hand it to Mr. Badenhorst as soon as I am at work in less than two hours to start processing the release of your luggage to you.

Have blessed new day.

Yours Sincerely,
Ms. Catherine Bessant.

Badenhorst. Great name eh? I never did get to meet him put I pictured him in my mind looking something like this –

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I fully realize positioning the word SCAM not once but twice next to my mind’s image of Badenhorst does absolutely nothing to enhance his credibility but with a name like BADenhorst I figured he was kind of behind the eight ball from the beginning.

I  further gilded the honey trap with an encouraging follow-up.

Hi Catherine,

Things are moving along nicely.

Glen

Catherine then takes the time, God bless her, to wish me a swell day…

Hello Glen,

Mr. Anderson have completed all the necessary forms and waiting for some authorization. He will write you with more details. I don’t know if you have already heard from him, but expect to hear from him.

I hope you had a swell day.

Catherine. 

Time for me to shoot cupid’s arrow… (This is gonna get weird!)

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Hi Catherine,

‘Swell’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

Hearing from you is uplifting, exciting and right royal all rolled into one.

 Glen

Next came the following email from Big Daddy BADenhorst himself –

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Good evening Mr. Glen Donaldson,

My secretary Ms. Bessant has been corresponding between us because from you mail you prefer communication with her. You are at liberty to always communicate with her, but there are certain aspects of the transaction I must communicate with you in person that is why I am writing you now.

I received your contact details and have commenced processing of the release of the trunk box to you. 

Everything is working out well. So far I have completed the necessary release forms with our vaulting department and same have been submitted to the US International Airport Vaulting Headquarters here in JFK.

I have the money to pay the non-inspection fee and I am waiting for approval to make the payment as soon as that is granted. When that is done, I will pay the Non-Inspection fee and secure release of the shipment and notify you with delivery details.

I will let you know.

Yours Respectfully,,
Mr. Willem Badenhorst.
Phone. +1 (917) 473 0062.

NB. I will give you a call now.

Big Daddy Baddie may have signed off with ‘Yours Respectfully’ but things were about to turn sour between him and I (along with my dear Catherine)…

Willem do not, I repeat do not call me.

I will only deal with the beautiful creature known as Catherine.

 Glen

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The next day came this from ‘Kate’

Hello Dear Glen,

Thanks for this beautiful mail. I hope your day is going on well. It’s good to hear from you too.
Mr. Badenhorst asked me to call to reconfirm your number, but it was picked by a woman who didn’t hear me well. I tried sending you sms but it didn’t go through. Kindly reconfirm your phone number please. Especially the one you can use to receive text messages. 
He said he wrote you and got insulted, and so wouldn’t want to interfere between us again. I might as well be the one to make the delivery to you when the time is ripe.
Meanwhile approval has been granted for the payment of the non-inspection fee to facilitate the delivery of your consignment.
The fee will be paid before the end of this week since Mr. Willem Badenhorst will make up the money shortly and make the payment.

Kate.

Time to lay it on nice ‘n thick. The phone number is of course another falsie…

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When you permit me to call you Kate, I know the trust is building – like a geranium seed that may one day come into full bloom. I don’t mind admitting that checking my inbox for an email from you has now become a highlight of my day. There was a connection between us from the start so why deny it?

And who needs that big bad Mr Badenhorst when we have each other, right?

Glen

Call me on (07) 5656 9111 and don’t tell Badenhorst about us!

Just when things are starting to hotten up… it’s time to conclude Part 2.

Tune in next week for the concluding chapter when all will be revealed about Big Bad Baddenhorst, Dear Kate and the promised metal trunk containing the knee-slapping $4 million.

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Ps. On a completely unrelated note, hands up anyone who remembers that woeful Kevin Costner movie (and blatant Mad Max ripoff) from back in 1995, WATERWORLD?

I spied a collection of spoof movie posters recently all proposing one change to really bad movies that would have made them so much better. Considering I spoke in glowing terms about AQUAMAN back in January (HERE) I thought it only fitting to show you how with just one little modification WATERWORLD could have been so much better –

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The Sting

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If your junk email inbox is anything like mine, then like me, every week you too are forced to employ nothing short of heavy-duty earth-moving equipment to clear away the mountain of excrescence that has built up over the preceding seven days.

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You KNOW the type of ooze I’m referring to – emails from the ‘Healthy Hearing Institute’, the dodgy loan companies you’ve never heard of, the unnamed organizations offering everything from denture upgrades, military flashlights, home roofing deals and butt enhancement cream (ok, so I clicked on that one) to diabetic strips for cash, medical ‘cannabliss’, all manner of rubbish gift cards, as well as the stock standard bogus blood pressure alerts and naturally enough that old chestnut – weight loss products by the barrel full.

That’s nothing to say of the linguistically challenged red flags whose minimalist subject headings always read something like ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Good morning’ or the most annoying of all ‘What’s Up?’ (but never with a capital ‘W’). There’s regular droppings from Casino4You, Bitcoin and Huggle Hoodie Offer as well as the ‘Private Message for You’ type. The so-called ‘Russian Beauties’ who claim to want to meet me are pretty persistent as well.

Most conniving of them all however is the offal whose subject heading begins ‘Re:’, giving the impression they’re responding to a message you sent them.  I bet they think they’re so clever and maybe they were a couple of years back when that type of deception first appeared but really… that guile is so 2015 the dimwits really ought to have come up with something new by now. (Other tricks in their arsenal – the ‘ol CONGRAULATIONS! subject heading as well as the emails asking you to confirm an order for something you know you’ve never made).

There’s absolutely no point as well in me requesting the person who calls themselves ‘Backdoor 66’ to cease sending me the crude invites. ‘Cause every time I click  ‘Unsubscribe’ you can bet the house what I’m actually doing – according to the twisted logic at work within the vast scamiverse – is precisely the reverse ie. confirming my renewed interest in continuing to receive this blather.

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I got to thinking – and after ploughing through that rogues gallery roll-call of unsolicited detritus listed above I’m quite sure you’d agree – a little bit of payback was long overdue.

The plan was simple. I would choose an email promising me riches beyond my wildest dreams, feign interest in what they had to say and in the process attempt to waste as much of their time as possible. The blueprint for my ‘scam the scammer’ little rouse was the video I’ve included below. It goes for close to 10 minutes but if you can stay with it it definitely delivers on laughs and the slightly snide warm inner glow that comes with comeuppance.

Yeah, love even just the sound of that word… comeuppance!

 

In truth, the internet is littered with stories and videos of people getting their own back against admittedly not-so-bright scam artists. As always the first question is “Where’s the game?, something I ask myself regularly.

In the end, a total of 26 emails across nine days were exchanged between myself and the flippy fraudster I chose to engage. This person claimed to be female (something I’m pretty certain wasn’t true). Gender then would provide me with the angle I needed.

As our conversations across the days unfolded, I cranked out my very best  ‘lonely hearts’ persona and managed to pretend to become totally besotted by this person. The aim was to gradually move our exchanges more and more away from the business side of things and more on to talk about ‘us’.

And I’m pleased to say, things worked out quite well in this regard. A lot of time and effort was outlayed by this swindling shark for zero reward.

It all started with this unsought email I received from a person calling themselves Catherine Bessant

Hello Dear Friend,

I am Ms. Catherine Bessant deputy to Mr. Willem Badenhorst the head of luggage/baggage storage facilities at the John F. Kennedy International Airport, NY USA.

In our last withheld-package routine check at the Airport Storage facility, we discovered an abandoned Metal Trunk Box prior to state confiscation, and decided to electronically scan it and ascertain its content.
When scanned, it revealed US Dollar, but due to the extreme security and seals of the metal trunk box, we could not ascertain the amount it inside, but I am sure it wouldn’t be less than 4 million dollars.

If you are interested I need your prompt response in order to update your information in the general waybill ledger, and we will take care of the United States Non Inspection Fee of 3,200.00 USD as well as arrange for the delivery and handover to you to you. If you can be fair enough, you will part with 40% of the money to us for our effort, while you take 60%.

However, to facilitate processing and delivery to you as the recipient, I want you to provide your complete names, Phone Number and delivery Address to affect the official documents. Also include the name of the nearest Airport around your city.

As a result of the sensitivity of this deal, we will not transact with our official email account or phone. So send your response through this my private email address or through the email address of Mr. Willem Badenhorst williebadenhorst15@yahoo.com as he will be communicating directly with you as my boss.

We can get everything concluded within 5 working days upon your acceptance of the terms with an immediate feedback.

You can always call me on Mr. Badenhorsts telephone number: +1 (917) 473 0062 or drop sms if he is not available to accept your call.

Respectfully;
Ms. Catherine Bessant.

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I responded the next day with a ‘hard of hearing’ old-school clarifyer –

Hi Catherine,

How much did you say was in the metal trunk?

Glen

What followed was an attempt at what’s known in the trickster trade as a ‘handover’ to another person (supposedly higher up the clown-infested pecking order).

Mr. Donaldson,

please contact my boss Mr. Willem Badenhorst or I will have him contact you.
Phone: +1 (917) 473 0062
Email. williebadenhorst15@yahoo.com

Mrs. Bessant

I declined the offer to deal with someone else and so commenced my plan to bit by bit romantically connect with ‘Catherine’

No Catherine.

I prefer to deal with the likes of you.

Glen

Feeling like the fish may just have climbed on to the end of the hook and my plan was beginning to gain steam,‘Catherine’ appeared fine with this and replied in this long-winded fashion –

Good Evening Dear Glen Donaldson,

I have shown your mails to my boss and your desire to be dealing directly with me. That is fine by me since my boss is also fine with it. 

Thank you for your response and understanding. As I stated in the first mail you received, I will commence negotiation with the airport vault authority for the release of the withheld luggage to you since we are on the same page now.

The starting point is getting approval to pay the US Non Inspection Charges of $3,200 on your behalf. Inability to make that payment initially was the main reason the consignment was withheld by the Airport authority.

If approval is given I will pay the fee, and negotiate for the release of the luggage to you, and as soon as I am able to clear the major release requirements, I shall make arrangement for final delivery to you.

You have to assure me once again that my own share of the money as agreed will be given to me as I undertake processing the release of the luggage on your behalf.

You know it is easy to make promises in the absence of tangible reality, so please I want you to respect my part of this effort, while I promise to do my best to pay all the needed fees, and work out a plan to ensure I am with the delivery department when hand over will be made to you. If not, I will have to depend on your sincere magnanimity and charity to get my part. But I will do anything I can to be with the courier department when it will be delivered to you or even be with you before the delivery is done. I hope you understand.

Once again to ensure the full protection of our persons since it is only you and I that know the content of the box so far, I would respectfully request for confidentiality. I want you to keep the contents of our communication confidential since I will be retiring soon and wouldn’t want to end up risking my pension and retirement benefits, or lose this opportunity. So I would strongly advise you to be discrete as ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’.

You should provide your contact address, phone number and nearest airport for processing to commence.

Yours Sincerely,
Ms, Catherine Bessant; for
Mr. Willem Badenhorst

Use of the adage ‘loose lips sink ships‘ was the first of many unintended crackups from ‘Catherine’. In turn I replied with some false details of my own –

Hi Catherine,

This is starting to get exciting!

My details are as follows –

23 Orchid Avenue

Surfers Paradise 4217

(07) 56 57 6888

I would prefer to transact through the Gold Coast Airport.

Glen

Ps. With you 100% on the ‘loose lips sink ships’ thing and therefore agree with the decision to go via plane.

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And that brings to an end Part 1 of THE STING.

Tune in next week for the continuing adventures of Catherine, myself and the mythical abandoned metal trunk containing the even more mythical unclaimed $4 million.

Ps.

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I haven’t seen it myself yet but from the first-hand reports I’ve been getting from people who have, Nicole Kidman‘s new undercover cop movie DESTROYER is next level hard-core, gritty and downright ghoulish.

Last time I remember something being given the title DESTROYER was rock group KISS‘s fourth studio album back in ’76. That turned out well for those guys so let’s see how critical reception lands for Nicole.

Funny Bones

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Tomorrow is Jerry Lewis’s birthday.

The iconic comedian passed away two years ago at the age of 91.

As the cliché goes, he lives long in my memory.

His career as an actor, film director, stand-up comedian, producer and screen writer spanned eight decades.

I loved him as a kid and if I was to think back over my all-time favourite comedians, Jerry Lewis would come out on top from a list boasting the likes of Dave Allan, Woody Allen, Tim Allen, Richard Pryor, Benny Hill, Chris Farley, Don Rickles, Warwick Davis (all 107 centimetres of him), Mel Brooks, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Kevin James, Peter Sellers, Jack Black, Don Knotts, Martin Lawrence, Paul Hogan, George Burns, Jay Leno, Phyliss Diller and Peter Sellers.

Comedy is subjective. One person’s comedy mastermind is another person’s Adam Sandler. But for me, Jerry Lewis was King.

Not many people I know remember him these days so I’m happy to be the one to pay tribute. His films never seemed to get the full recognition they deserved (he failed to be nominated for a single Academy Award) and he was more popular throughout Europe and in particular France than he was in his native U.S.A. Many folk just simply didn’t ‘get’ Jerry Lewis.

Those factors made me love him even more.

As an adult, I’ve read enough stories about him to know I may not have liked him that much in real life. (Don’t click here if you want to remember Jerry fondly) That doesn’t diminish in any way my love for his films and performances.

On the eve of the anniversary of his birthday, here are my Top Ten Favourite Jerry Lewis movies

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As cruel as it was to relegate Lewis’s recognised masterpiece THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963) to second spot, my true heart belongs to the work of comedy genius he produced, directed and starred in 49 years ago WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT?

Lewis plays the role of Brendan Byers III, a rich playboy who forms his own privately financed army platoon during World War 2. He and his men travel to the front lines where the plan is he will impersonate and take the place of a German General just long enough to order a troop retreat.

In the clip below, Jerry Lewis as Brendan Byers is attempting to learn German in preparation for his impersonation of that German Army General. If nothing else, watching this scene should prove beyond any doubt that what makes me laugh may make you, well… not laugh. Or cringe. Or at the very least doubt my bona fides as a judge of quality mirth making material.

Here goes anyway…

Now that wasn’t so bad was it?

Here’s the other nine films that round out my list…

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And because I couldn’t find space for it in that collection here is a clip from another of my favourites THE DISORDERLY ORDERLY (1964) which underlines the case for why Jerry Lewis was a master of non-verbal comedy and what used to go by the name of ‘mugging’ (ie. contorting one’s ‘mug’ or face in the name of laughter – think Jim Carrey.)

The over-talkative patient in this scene being wheeled around by Lewis’s orderly is played to perfection by actress Alice Pearce (1917 -1966) who played the nosy neighbour Gladys Kravitz for three seasons of BEWITCHED (1964 – 1972).

This is hypochondria played for laughs…

Jerry Lewis appeared /starred in more than 60 films including his last, MAX ROSE (2016) as well as the documentary METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS (2011).

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If you’d like to get a sense of the esteem with which Jerry Lewis is held in the world of comedy by the likes of such professional funny men as Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy and Chevy Chase as well as film director Steven Spielberg, take a look at the trailer inserted below for the documentary METHOD TO THE MADNESS OF JERRY LEWIS.

Ps. I really have saved the best for last with this bonus clip.

It’s long at seven minutes but if you consider yourself a connoisseur of the art of comic timing and delivery then this time will literally fly. This scene is taken from the 1961 movie THE LADIES MAN.

Jerry Lewis plays the part of a young man who, fresh from a breakup with his girlfriend, swears off romance and then takes a job at a genteel, women-only boarding house.

In this scene he greets a gangster who has dropped by the house to see his lady friend.

Seeing this again reminds me of another aspect of Lewis’s films I always loved so much – the small band of sublimely talented character actors he surrounded himself with and used over and over in small roles in so many of his movies. The gangster in this scene is played by Buddy Lester (1915 – 2002) who appeared in five of Lewis’s films (four of which feature in my Top Ten listing).

Enjoy this.

Enjoy this as I unashamably wheel out the wobbly-wheeled cliche cart one last time and declare – ‘They don’t make ’em like this any more.’

They really don’t.

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Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything (Part 2)

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If gift giving was an Olympic 100 metre race I’d still be on the starter’s block gathering my thoughts by the time everyone else was huffing and puffing ‘hands on hips’ style down the other end.

That’s my way of saying handing over the perfect present to another person is something I’ve never been very good at.

This I admitted last week.

But buying a special something for that person who already has everything anyway is a whole next-level kind of difficult.

Difficult, but with the suggestions that follow, not impossible…

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You can never be too sure if you’re making a good investment with real estate here on Earth, so why not think outside the box? And by outside the box, I naturally mean outside the atmosphere. Clint Eastwood, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks and George Lucas are amongst the folk who all legally own an acre of Lunar land.

BUY ON LUNAR LAND.COM

 

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Hours of fun.  Apparently.

 

BUY ON AMAZON

 

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Drinking 8 cups of water a day is recommended. The only problem is water is boring. Not with this ‘smart cup’ it’s not. It uses three different senses to fool your brain into believing there’s a party going on in your mouth whereas in actuality it’s only plain ‘ol H2O.

BUY AT THE RIGHT CUP.COM

 

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With this gift your friend who  seemingly has everything can learn things about their home they never wanted to know. When mixed and sprayed onto an area, and illuminated with ultraviolet light, it will reveal the presence of blood or other fluids the naked eye can’t detect. They might not thank you.

BUY AT AMAZON.COM

 

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Everyone may well march to the tune of a different beat but with these percussion-enhanced duds you’ll be the head of the orchestra.

BUY AT DRUMPANTS.COM

 

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Don’t give that temperamental friend just the cold shoulder. Give them the entire whole body cold-therapy treatment you know they deserve.

BUY AT CRYOAU.COM

 

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Why not go ahead and make the day of the friend who assures you they want absolutely nothing on their special occasion. The ultimate in bullseye-hitting present giving.

BUY ON AMAZON

 

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If your friend has everything they need then they surely have plenty of things to stash away in this time capsule. Dig it up together sometime in the future and laugh about primitive life in the olden days when we used things like the iPhone 8. This model is waterproof and comes with a 200 year guaranteed life. A companion gift is your old skool metal detector so you can find where you buried it all those years ago.

BUY ON AMAZON

 

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One of the things that most people, especially little boys, did growing up was play in the kindergarten sandbox with bulldozers, backhoes and the like. So, unless they made a career out of it, there’s a good chance that the full scale version might just tap into some pleasant memories and unrealised ambitions. You can even buy a Season Pass for unlimited access to excavator, bulldozer and wheel loader heaven.

BUY AT EXTREME SANDBOX.COM

 

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This is the first of its kind, so your friend with everything will definitely not have this. Not sure if this robot chef will put on a temper tantrum if the almonds are not fully activated or speak condescendingly of the people eating its food, but it can probably be programmed that way if it pleases the owner.

SEE IT AT MOLEY.COM

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And then there’s this…

Regifting? Recycling? Or Neighbour Abuse?

You decide.

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 Ps. I’ve often dreamt of writing the greatest book in the world but it appears someone has beaten me to the punch. Not just ‘someone’ but renowned Victorian children’s author Matt Porter, who is certainly no stranger to the goings on around SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK  (Mind meld with Matt here)  has just released a new picture book called THE GREATEST BOOK IN THE WORLD.

And as far as book titles go this is definitely not one to be taken lightly! Here’s a little taste…

 

 

Gifts for the Person who has everything (Part 1)

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I admit it.

I’m really bad at gift giving.

I may have fantasized about the look of delirious happiness and surprise on a friend or loved one’s face after they opened my ‘perfect’ present to them, along with imagining their gushing response (“You really know me! This was so thoughtful!”) but in reality I’m a ‘gift-card’ cop-out sort-of-guy through and through and have been for many a year.

I can remember back to a time, however, when I briefly had the midas touch as a gift giver. Literally every present I bestowed on a friend would hit the satisfaction bullseye with the accuracy of Robin Hood. When you’re ten years old and growing up in the 1970’s, a $2 matchbox car or a $3 plastic cap gun was all you needed to be a dead-set friend pleaser complete with the wish-granting powers of an Aladdin-style genie.

These days as an adult it’s infinitely more difficult.

The odds are stacked against anyone with pretensions of being the sort of present giver who hits the high notes and moves the orchestra to fire up in appreciation. Afterall, your average adult by the time they’ve reached the age of let’s say forty, has acquired not only a whole house (possibly multi-storey) full of ‘stuff’ but a garage and backyard shed as well equally stacked to the ceiling with both life’s necessities and useless trinkets.

Difficult, but with this list as your inspiration, certainly not impossible.

Try these ‘out of the (gift) box’ ideas on for size…

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Apparently this stuff really works. Gross it may be but hey, beauty demands sacrifices. I prefer the activated charcoal masks myself.

BUY ON AMAZON

 

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Many, many people slaved away making these lollipops under great duress. Possibly the most satisfying flavour of all time.

BUY ON LOLLYPHILE.COM

 

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The Japanese may be famous for creating miniatures, but with this astronomically correct creation it would appear they’ve outdone themselves. Just a pity no one sends letters anymore.

BUY AT JAPAN TRENDSHOP

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I’ll freely admit to taking a special pleasure in popping the real thing back as a teenager. This is a simulation that approximates one of the truly simple pleasures of life. As addictive as popping bubble wrap but without the sound fx.

BUY ON AMAZON

 

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I don’t play golf but I do drink a variety of liquids. There’s a lot of people who combine the two while having a day out on the green. This quirky (ok, creepy and ridiculous) convenience device would make the perfect gift for just that person.

BUY ON AMAZON

 

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 Color the cat and dye the dog in nearly every color imaginable. It even comes in brown for some reason!

BUY ON AMAZON

 

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A true breakfast game-changer and one designed to leave a lasting impression.

BUY ON BURNT IMPRESSIONS.COM

 

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Cute, weird or somewhere in between?

BUY ON AMAZON

 

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When a mountain of ego like American rapper Kanye West says something outrageous like “I need a room full of mirrors so I can be surrounded by winners” can anyone deny their first thought is to give that type of excrescence the same treatment they’d give a Bachelor’s Degree or treasured training certificate and frame it? Well I can and you can but there are people out there who might actually consider it. And one of them might just be that friend who has everything.

BUY IT AT FRAMED TWEETS.COM

 

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To hell with the idea of a more huggable world! This is all about harmless revenge and releasing those feelings of angst upon a helpless inanimate object. Feels good or your money back.

For the friend who has everything eh?

Nah, it only SEEMS like that person has everything.

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Ps. What gift could you bestow upon someone whose latest movie has just won the Best Picture Oscar? Tough question to answer but there can be no doubt a director who’s capable of delivering the comic masterpieces (too complimentary you dare to suggest?) SHALLOW HAL and DUMB AND DUMBER is long overdue to receive their deserved place in the sun, recognition wise.

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Apart from his many movies, Peter Farrelly is also the author of the classic 1998 semi-autobiographical novel THE COMEDY WRITER about a young man who quits his sales job in New England and moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a comedic screenwriter.

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And since this concluding thread has been in praise of Hollywood ‘Man of the Moment’ Peter Farrelly and his many fine creative works, I will mention nothing of the at very best sporadically mildly amusing and definitely eighteen years too late DUMB AND DUMBER TO (2014).

Absolutely nothing.