Archive for March, 2009

    The younger son, Jack, is in the market for a good used car (his first) and found one on the internet from a Private Seller. I called to get directions. The voice on the other end was some flavor of middle eastern, delivered in heavy accent. “Is very good car,” he said confidently, “very good car, yes. Very good.” I asked him if he would accept a personal check. “No check, no… cash only…. no check… cash!” he verbally hammered back. I think I caught his drift. He wanted the legal tender. Fair enough.

    I got directions from him and asked if the address was his home. “No, not my home. Place of business.” So we set a time when we would drive out to the Personal Seller and see his “very good car… cash only.”

    Jack and his parents crawled through early rush hour traffic to the place of business in Buford, Georgia, a goodly haul north. We eyeballed the addresses carefully looking for the Personal Seller’s “place of business.” Well, get a load of this– his place of business happened to be  a used car lot! What an incredible co-inky-dink! World, you are one funny place.

Scum of Earth discovered in Buford, Georgia

Scum of Earth discovered in Buford, Georgia

    We approached the car as our Private Seller approached us. “Is nice car, yes?” he said as we stared at the 2004 Acura RSX that sported a body that was the metallic equivalent of a 15-year old boy with acute acne and a jones for gobbling sugary and greasy snacks. “Can I take it for a test drive?” I asked (the car was a manual and Jack didn’t know how to drive one– yet). “I get key,” Private Seller said scurrying to a beat-up trailer.

    I opened the door and sat in the driver’s seat and noticed a hunk of plastic missing from the steering column exposing a cluster of wires. Jack sat in the passenger seat and noticed a hole in the dash where a radio once was, and a big crack in the plastic of the passenger side door. Private Seller was back toot sweet and handed me the key. I inserted it in the ignition, turned and… nothing. No engine turning over, no pistons pumping, not even a click. Silence. Quiet as a mime in a library.

    “The battery’s dead,” I said (I’m no mechanic but I know when the doohickey won’t start it’s usually the battery thingy).

    “No problem. We jump car. Wait one minute,” Private Seller said as he ran to the trailer. Soon the hood was popped and he hooked up a portable battery booster and instructed me to turn the ignition. I did, the car wound up and started. I immediately noticed the fuel gauge warning light was illuminated. “Hey, it’s almost out of gas,” I said. 

    “No problem. Is good for 30 miles, easy. No problem,” he said confidently. I nodded my head thinking but of course, ‘is good car’ and fuel is merely suggested, not required. I went to fasten my seat belt and the belt stretched maybe eight inches. 

   “The seat belt’s broken,” I said.

    “No problem. We fix. Get new seatbelt, no problem. We fix seatbelt. Make like new.”

    “Right,” I said. I put the car in reverse and we began our test drive; me driving, Jack passengering. The car drove fine, the brakes seemed O.K. I didn’t punch the engine for fear of running out of gas. I told Jack the car model was a good one, but this particular car was not a good choice. Not to be critical, but I’ve always believed a car should start. Jack stubbornly agreed this might not be the one. We returned to Private Seller’s “place of business” and he was anxiously awaiting our review. 

    “What you think? Is good car, yes?” he asked like a proud papa as I got out of the car.

    “It drives O.K.,” I said, “but it needs a lot of work– the driver’s side seatbelt, the radio, battery…” Just then Jack crawled out through the driver’s side door. “What are you doing, Jack?” I asked.

    “My door wouldn’t open,” he replied. I continued my punch list of problems.

    “And the passenger door  doesn’t work…” before I could say anything else, Private Seller pointed at my car (a 2005 Acura RL) in the parking lot .

    “Look at car you drive,” he said accusingly, “of course this car not going to be as nice as that car!” His tactic worked, I was confused, I didn’t know what his point was–– that I shouldn’t expect luxuries like engines that start on command, radios, operating seatbelts and passenger doors. “I fix all for $700 more,” he said confidently. 

    “You’ll fix all the problems for $700?” I asked.

    “I fix everything. No problem. You want car, I fix– $700. You want car? ”

    “Let us think about it,” I said herding the family back to our car, the one that starts, has seatbelts, doors that work and a radio.

    “Is good car,” I heard him shout as I shut my door.

    I’m happy to report that on March 23, 2009, The Lint Screen had its 10,000th hit, meaning Lint has been served to over 20,000 eyes, providing some of those eyes are not covered in eyepatches. My blog stats report I have minimal readership among pirates, but I do pretty well with shoulder-perching parrots.

    10,000 hits in just over eight months– not too shabby. With any luck, the next 10,000 will happen in eight days.

    To get the ball rolling, here’s a classic TV spot that certainly deserves a good gander and some swing time:

    I’m sure when this spot originally aired it didn’t have that ugly url plastered on it. It’s crass– like putting a Pepsi logo on the Mona Lisa’s face. But still, ain’t those chimps something!

    Thanks for catching Lint. Please share the Lint experience like bad germs.

Being bad has its rewards

Losing gobs of money has its rewards

    Americans own 80% of some company called AIG, which I believe stands for Assets Instantly Gone. We’ve taken almost $200 billion of our taxpayer money and shoveled it into this black hole that has lost trillions.

    Now these same inconsiderate American taxpayers are bellyaching because the brainiacs running AIG were paid a paltry $165 million in bonuses. We’re mad as hell and we want our money back!

    What a nation of ingrates we are!

    It takes brains, skill and dogged determination to mismanage funds the way these devoted AIG fatcats did. They did this all without much government oversight or regulation.

    Now many of the same politicians who accepted financial industry lobbyist funds in election support, then passed laws to deregulate the industry so that companies like AIG could engage in risky speculation, are griping and finger pointing saying that AIG gambled foolishly and came up snake eyes. They say AIG is so enormous, we have to bail them out. Then these politicians get angry because AIG bigwigs are giving themselves a bonus bump for losing at the craps table.

    Hey, if we want them to continue their excellent work, we’ve got to pay the piper. This kind of money-flushing costs money! 

You've got to pay the piper, babes!

You've got to pay the piper, babes!

     If we don’t reward these people, if we tried to once again place government regulations in place that would restrict risky speculative gambling schemes, this company could actually make money! 

    And if that happened,  politicians wouldn’t have a boogie man to blame after they approved the bailout, our tax money would be spent on things that benefit society at large and our children and future generations would not have to live under the burden of gigundo debts to pay back. How’s that supposed to teach them character and grit? 

    $165 million is a drop in the bucket for all the benefits we receive from our AIG. This is our company, let’s do the right thing. 

    Maybe we should consider giving them raises, too.

 

 

He chased the snakes, now he chases the blues

He chased the snakes, now in honor of him, we chase the blues with green beer.

    I got my under-under-under graduate degree from St. Patrick’s Elementary School in Hubbard, Ohio. It was back in the days when nuns scoured classrooms in search of children under the influence of Satan. They wielded rulers of punishment and itched to dispense swift corrective discipline to evil wrongdoers. I still have the red palms to prove their mighty swings.

    At St. Pat’s, St. Patrick’s Day was a big deal. Although the student population was probably 80% non-Irish kids, everyone wanted to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. I was Irish on St. Paddy’s Day, and pretty much every day, and I resented these freeloaders hijacking ‘our’ holiday. All the Italian and Slavic kids sported lots of green on St. Patrick’s Day. In protest, I never wore green on the sainted day.

    “Hey, Scullin,” Bobbie Vespucci would accost me dressed in green necktie and shamrock lapel pin, “you’re Irish, right? Where’s your green?”

    “I don’t have to wear green,” I’d say coolly, wishing I had a shillelagh to clobber his skull, “I don’t have to pretend to be Irish–– I am Irish.” This would cheese off all the wannabes in their green. I’m sure they’d have liked to pummel me until I wore red dripping down my shirt. Let’s face it, nothing is more threatening to kids than the one who won’t succumb to peer pressure (“you’re all jumping off the cliff? No thanks, I’ll pass.”). Rebelling was a beautifully Irish thing to do.

The wearin' of the green, it's enough to make you vomit green

St. Paddy's celebration is enough to make you vomit green.

    Today I still rebel against St. Patrick’s Day. You won’t find me in some faux Irish pub trying to swim upstream through the sea of oppressive flesh to get my jar of Guinness. I shant drink the black love until the foam seeps up my gullet and back up my gob (your body’s subtle way of saying it’s “FULL”) and have my innards projectile onto some stranger’s Timberlands. It’s amateur hour, the whole St. Paddy’s Day bar-hopping-pub-crawling-beer-guzzling-puke-encrusted-shirt affair.

    St. Patrick’s Day has grown in importance and popularity thanks to the marketing efforts of beer companies and booze distillers. The holiday is now an alcoholic tidal wave that the masses gladly surf. As an adman, I don’t begrudge these marketers anything (I do have contempt for the florists and greeting card people, though–– the shameless money-grubbing hucksters). St. Patrick’s Day has grown in popularity because adults just don’t seem to have much fun anymore. At least not sanctioned fun.

    Like Halloween, St. Pat’s is a holiday where it’s fine for adults to get silly and let their inhibitions down (the liquid courage comes in handy). It’s Christmas without the presents. The growing popularity of St. Patrick’s Day proves that society is pretty uptight and could stand to let off some steam.

    Maybe we need to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day year ‘round. This doesn’t mean we have to get blasted and stumble home. But perhaps we could loosen up, have a wee bit of the fun a wee bit more often, without beer companies telling us it’s time to do so.

    Maybe we could not be so slavish to our Blackberries or iPhones. Perhaps we could try and resist being in a perpetual state of frantic pandemonium; dodging deadlines and covering our arses with voicemail and e-mail crumbs.

    Imagine actually slowing down a tad, not living by a self-imposed over-scheduled schedule of kiddie activities and obligation to our TIVO as it gathers gobs of entertainment for our escape from reality.

    Imagine stopping, for just a moment, breathing deeply and exhaling slowly. Maybe stretching, sitting and doing nothing but letting your mind wander (a free range brain is a beautiful thing).

    Indulge, babes. Take a nap. Call an old friend. Write a letter and thank an old teacher, mentor, client or associate. Listen, actually listen to some of your favorite music. Re-live those moments of your life when you heard those songs for the very first time and let the movies of the past play inside your head. You don’t need popcorn or Junior Mints.

    Visit the priceless vaults of your memories. They’re yours and they pay handsome dividends over time.

Rebel, what a beautifully Irish thing to do

Rebelling against the norm-- what a beautifully Irish thing to do.

    St. Patrick earned his chops for chasing the snakes out of Ireland. This St. Patrick’s Day, try to chase some of the snakes out of your hectic life. Enjoy your life more.

    Stop running full bore trying to keep up with your life. Slow down and enjoy your life and all those in it who make it worth living. Try and celebrate with them more often, not just on the sanctioned holidays but every day.

    That’s my message of good cheer–– given like a nun whacking your sweaty palm.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day–– I raise a pint to ye.

    I’ll be the one not wearing green. Cheers!

 

Madoff Found His Cell Lacking Character, Style and Gold

Madoff Found His Cell Lacking Character, Style and Comfort

    Now that 70-year old Bernie Madoff has been tucked away in prison for up to 150 years (which is not a life sentence given that Madoff sold his soul to live forever), the notorious swindler is in a new legal battle with John Thain, ex-Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch.

    Madoff found his closet-sized jail cell “pretty confining” so he hired Thain to decorate his new crossbar home. “John has an excellent eye,” Madoff said at the time he secured Thain’s services, “I know he’ll give me something that doesn’t feel so ‘prison-y’.”

    Thain, who was lambasted with bad P.R. earlier this year for spending $1.22 million in corporate funds to renovate two conference rooms, a reception area and his office (the tab included a  $35,000 commode and $1,400 wastebasket), recently opened an interior decorating firm called Johnny T’s Fab Designateria. He was excited to have Madoff as a client.

Thain is know for 'Style on a budget'

Thain is know for 'Style on a budget'

    Two men met in Madoff’s luxurious New York apartment over three weeks in February discussing the project. “I told John I was on a strict budget, my legal fees are outrageous. I said to him, I said, ‘Johnny, you’ve only got $100 million to play with. I know that’s less than $2 million a square foot but I need something really nice on a tight budget. Please give me something cozy. Maybe a gold-plated commode with emerald-encrusted T.P. holder, a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed that vibrates and dispenses Chteau Latour Pauillac 1990 or some other fine wine, maybe some dangling beads to separate the cell and make rooms look bigger and a rec area with a sequoia pool table or platinum ping pong table. Johnny nodded his head and said ‘No prob, Maddy, I gotcha covered, babe.”

Madoff says he feels like he's "in prison."

Madoff says he feels like he's "in prison."

    Thain proceeded to bill Madoff $50 million for partial payment and got down to work. Madoff felt confident he was in great hands for the next 150 years of confinement.

    When Madoff showed up to his new home recently, he was shocked to discover no gold commode, cool dangling beads, rec center or fancy wine-dispensing bed. His cell was standard issue bland with a couple boxes from IKEA stacked on the bed. Taped on the boxes was an envelope with a note from Thain and an invoice for an additional $50 million. The note read, “Dear Bernie: Since the budget was pretty tight, I got you a GLUR, RHEA, KRIG and FIIR decorating systems from an exclusive little Swedish company I’ve recently discovered. When you put these together, I think you’ll see your cell will take on a more palatial feel. You’re gonna love it babe! Please see about expediting my final payment. I’m a little strapped for cashola and the Swedes are leaning hard on me for their money. Thanks, dude, rock on rockstar! Johnny T.”

    Madoff feels like he’s been cheated and has contacted his lawyers to sue  Thain. Mr. Madoff is most upset that he cannot correctly assemble his fine Swedish furnishings. “There’s always like three parts left over,” a frustrated Madoff said throwing a small allen wrench against the wall.

    Thain could not be reached for comment.

    I read somewhere “Ask and ye shall receive.” So, I’ve asked just about everyone I’ve ever met for $16 million and some cashmere socks. So far, no takers.

    However, in my “About da Blog” section of this website, I asked if anyone had pictures of squirrels dressed as blacksmiths. Lo and behold, someone did– a bright young man named Scott Day. Here’s the goods.

A squirrel's work is never done.

A squirrel's work is never done.

Who wants rabbit stew?

He's either a blacksmith or a dentist.

 

Horseshoes, anyone?

Horseshoes, anyone?

    Scott even tells the story of these intrepid rodents @ http://wookielove.blogspot.com/

    Thanks, Scott, you’re my hero de jour. Thanks worldwide interwebs, you delight me. If anyone else has some snaps of squirrels dressed as blacksmiths, fork them over and I’ll happily share them with the universe at large.

    By the way, anyone have $16 million and some cashmere socks to spare?