Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spam email of the week

Here is the subject of this week's spam email. Are you ready? Because it's great. Are you sure you're ready? I don't think you are. Here it is.

Subject: Let's trade horses

Yes, let us do that. I don't know how you knew about my involvement in the North American horse trade, but I should warn you that I am very knowledgeable about horses so don't think you can pull one over on me. I don't want to go all "horse talk" here on our less informed readers, but: I have some dark brown horses and I'm looking for a light brown horse, any year. By the way, what is your name?

Dan "Patio" Dalton []

Oh, it's YOU, Patio?! Ha, ha ... should have known! Note to readers: Dan "Patio" Dalton is a guy I know from way back in the day. Dude used to hang out on mad patios. He's cool though. (He is NOT cool.)

Holla at me Patio, what's up?


My name is Mike.

Need some money-making ideas?


· October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have a great looking magazine you can sell around

First money-making idea: Exploit breast cancer by selling magazines. Cool. What else?

· The holiday season is coming; we have four magazines that tap virtually every merchant connected to the season:  Entertaining!, D├ęcor!, Gift Guide! and Tech Gift Guide!

Those are the four genre magazines the Wise Men gave Jesus in the manger, if I'm not mistaken. Again, sold. What else?

· Need some back-to-school fare? 

No. Also, school started here two months ago.

Check out Kid Scoop Weekly. 25% off through Friday

I'm not checking out anything called "Kid Scoop Weekly."

· Brides365™, our online bridal vertical continues to grow.  WCTV in Tallahassee, FL, just rolled out a rather innovative online promotion (hint: turn on your sound)

I went online to watch the innovative bridal vertical (?) that was just rolled out in Tallahassee, Florida, but I couldn't hear what anyone was saying. Then I thought, "Wait, did Patio leave any hints?" So I went back and checked, and sure enough -- had my sound turned down. On my computer. Duh. Watched again, it all made sense. I bought 18 wedding dresses.

So far these money-making ideas have cornered my areas of interest of: breast cancer awareness magazines, the holidays, back-to-school, and brides. I have to ask though -- are we going to trade any horses or what?

If you have bought any of the above – my thanks -- if you would like to trade some horses please give me a ring.

I will do that.

Best regards,

Dan “Patio” Dalton
Content That Works


This email ends with a caption that reads, "I look forward to your call," which points to a picture of Mr. Ed by a telephone. I am not even joking. Here is the picture.

"I look forward to your call."

Good night, everyone. That's a wrap.

Note: "Inexplicable horses" was an existing tag. I dare you to find another blog that can say that.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Trimming down my manly duties

One of the few manly things I used to be able to do was mow lawns. In fact, combined with my ability to cut hedges—with a hedge trimmer!—you could even say that “general landscaping” was an area of mild expertise. (One time I accidentally cut the extension cord I was using for the hedge trimmer with the hedge trimmer, nearly shutting off the power grid of our town.)

Our first place of residence when we were married was in a condo development in NJ, so I was not allowed to mow the grass there and instead had to pay for that service, and was therefore unable to prove that I was a good husband. I did, however, take the trash out a few times, and one of those times it was really, really cold outside.

Then we moved to Arizona and I discovered that I would not need to mow the rocks. Still, we had a plot of land of our own that included some plant life, and I was adamant that it would be my responsibility to maintain that land, like a good man would.

I toiled in the fields for many a fort night, and only came to rest when the sun would set and an honest day’s work was complete. Just kidding—I tried to pull weeds out of the rocks for twenty minutes one Saturday before giving up and buying weed killer that didn’t really work.

Also, back east I used to rely on a natural system whereby water would fall from the sky, but I soon realized that our plant life here relied heavily on an underground water disbursement system that seemed to be more “plumbing” than “landscaping,” and I am not good at plumbing. (Acceptable, considering my dad was a plumber-pipefitter for 35 years.) I came to know this system firsthand when, while attempting to plant a tree, I broke it in half with a shovel.

It was then I began to consider the possibility of hiring a person better at landscaping than even myself. In my travels I located a business card for a man named Vincente. Swallowing my pride, I called him and asked him if he could come to our house. He was like, “Okay. Today?” I was like, “Oh no, I mean, whenever.” He was there in 20 minutes.

It was love at first sight. I shook his hand (like a man), discovering that his hand was somewhat warped … from all the landscaping. I envied that. I didn’t even have to tell him what to do—I would just point at stuff and he would know. Watching him work—I watch him work from inside our air conditioned home, through the curtains so he can’t see me—was like watching a magician. Things it takes me the entire afternoon to do take him five minutes. He even knows how to use the blower thingee the right way, to where it actually gathers the debris instead of just blowing it to different spots. He also fixed our drip system, which apparently operates from a panel on the side of our home that I thought was owned by the city and that I wasn’t allowed to touch.

Vincente came over last weekend for some fall maintenance. He did such an amazing job, as always. I looked out to our backyard with pride at the end of the day, as if I had done the work myself. In a way I did. I found Vincente.

Not being able to landscape has left me with few ways to prove that I am a man and adequate husband. I still take the trash out though, and the recycling, even when it’s really hot. Hey, somebody’s gotta do it.

Note: This column appears in the 9/27 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/28 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Classic card of the week

Flipper Anderson, Sports Illustrated for Kids

I like this card because it reminds me of the days when, if a receiver did something completely special and out of the ordinary like HIS JOB, he would celebrate by raising his arms in the air in triumph instead of pretending to slit his throat or pull his pants down. RECEIVERS THESE DAYS AMIRIGHT? In fact, in my humble opinion, Flipper Anderson may have had the greatest touchdown celebration ever, and it came at the expense of my beloved Giants. In the '89 playoffs, the Rams and Giants ended regulation tied. Anderson scored the game-winning play on a 30-yard touchdown pass and Forrest Gump'd it -- he just kept running through the tunnel and into the locker room. If there is a better way to end a game, I do not know it. I mean, I do not like him at all because of that and I think he's the worst. But that was pretty awesome.

Anyway, 1989 was a good year for Flipper.

In 1989, Flipper had the best game ever by an NFL receiver when he gained a record 336 yards on 15 receptions against the New Orleans Saints.

Thirty three points on yards alone, 5-point bonus for over one hundred (only good once), one touchdown for six points ... that's a 44-point fantasy effort in our league. That's the kind of stuff you tell your grandkids about. It's a better story than Flipper Anderson telling his own grandkids about actually doing it, because--let's be honest--who cares?

He finished the season with 44 receptions and an NFL-leading average of 26 yards per catch.

In 1989 Flipper Anderson caught 44 balls for 1,146 yards! That is not even possible. That's almost three first downs a catch. For reference, one time Wes Welker caught 44 passes for 39 yards. True story. Almost true.

When he was a baby, his grandmother nicknamed him Flipper because he sounded like a dolphin when he cried.

Grandma Anderson: Awoken up from a nap. What's that noise? Are we at Sea World?

Mrs. Anderson: It's just Willie, he's crying again.


Mrs. Anderson: Stop trippin', mom.

Grandma: Oh Lord. Imma call that boy Flipper!

Mrs. Anderson: That's cute.

Grandma: No, I mean Imma call him Flipper forever, like until it sticks. When he's a grown-ass, professional man, people will call him Flipper.

Mrs. Anderson: I hope you're wrong.

Grandma: You watch. Ain't nobody remembering any "Willie Anderson" anyway. I passed six Willie Andersons coming up the stairs this morning. Flipper it is. Boy's gonna be famous.


In what city do the Los Angeles Rams play their home games?


Answer: Anaheim, California


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fighting the Disney-fication of our family

We’re not really a “Disney family.”

There are two main reactions people have when discovering this little tidbit about us. The first, and by far the most common reaction is, “WHAT? YOU DON’T LIKE DISNEY? HAVE YOU NO SOUL?” Even when repeatedly prompted for an explanation, there’s really nothing we can say to this group that will provide them solace, and the remainder of the conversation involves them trying to convince us we are wrong or assumes we have experienced some sort of childhood trauma. But you like Mickey Mouse, right? How could you not like Ariel? Have you HEARD her voice? Did you have parents growing up? The second reaction is a silent nod of approval, followed by a nervous surveillance of the area to make sure no one bore witness to the blasphemy.

It’s not that we’re categorically opposed to Disney—we’ve partaken in Disney-produced things before, mainly because it’s impossible not to since they run the world. I was just never really into it that much as a kid. I liked He-Man and Thundercats. And Woody Woodpecker. And sports (which are now owned by Disney). My parents took us to Disney World when I was in first grade—a major part of my Disney-based heresy is that I always confuse Disney Land with Disney World, which is apparently the worst thing a person can do—and all I can remember from that trip was that Epcot Center looked like a giant golf ball and that Florida is the worst.

My wife is a bit less indifferent. She steadfastly rejects the notion of a princess being vindicated through the love of a man, which is pretty much the basis for every Disney thing ever, no matter the modern twist. (And yes, she gets the extreme irony of me being her prince, valiantly saving her from a life of loneliness. She is going to kill me for writing that.)

Not being Disney-obsessed was mildly acceptable when it was just the two of us. But since we became parents of a girl, my wife has been fighting off “the two p’s” with a stick—pink and princess. Luckily for us, it seems our daughter shares our ideals. When asked last year what she wants to be when she grows up, she responded, “Fix cars and trucks … a pa-chanic.” And she’s stuck with that to this day. She also proudly wears Wonder Woman pull-ups to bed, and often wakes up in the morning to reveal, “Mommy, Daddy—I peed on Wonder Woman.” She’s the best.

(In all honesty though, who encourages their daughter to aspire to be a princess? Princesses don’t even do anything and we don’t even live under a monarchial form of government. It’s an outdated notion. Like a sheriff running an entire state. Yeah, I went there.)

Now, however, she is old enough to, sort of, sit through a movie. We began with "Ice Age III" -- IN the theaters, no less; big risk, but we survived -- which she liked. Then "Madagascar," which she liked even more. Last week my wife, since there were no more non-Disney movies left to choose from, reluctantly brought home "Tangled" from the library, which is an updated version of "Rapunsel." Sure enough our daughter was entranced. She had to go to the potty midway through the movie and while she was sitting there she started singing songs from the movie. Uh oh.

By sheer coincidence, or possibly not, a few days later our daughter received a late birthday present from my aunt and uncle. When I arrived home from work she was wearing a princess dress, carrying a purse, and walking around in plastic high heels. My wife wore a glazed, dumbfounded look on her face, as if everything she had ever worked for had been lost, each click-clack of the heels on the tile signifying a move farther away from the glamorous life of a female mechanic.

I’m not sure where this is going to lead, although I have already recommended the next family movie night involve "Die Hard." I think we’ll be okay as long as she doesn’t ever actually want to go to Disney Land, wherever that is.

Note: This column appears in the 9/20 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/21 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Spam email of the week


Note: this email feature today is not mine but was submitted by a fellow sir, my mom.

Dear Beloved,

We are gathered here today in the interest of reading terrible, pointless, junk emails. Should anyone object to this, please speak now or forever hold your peace. Or just, ya’ know, stop reading this. But don't do that.

I am sending you this mail in good faith.

Whew! For a second there I thought this mail—some people call it “email”—was sent in bad faith, and that reading it would ultimately waste my time.

I am Mrs. Marie Douglas a widow, currently undergoing medical treatment for cancer.

"Dear person I don’t know, my husband is dead and I have cancer. But enough small talk …"

My late husband was a contractor with servicing firm affiliated with Electric Authority. Many years before he died in 2006.

Wait, he worked for Electrical Authority before he died? Weird. Is Electrical Authority a thing? Like, some multi-billion dollar monopoly that controls all electricity everywhere? Granted, I realize this was sent in good faith, but just to be sure I Googled "Electrical Authority," and there is only an Electrical Safety Authority. I called them and was like, "Hey, did a Mr. Douglas ever work for a contractor with a servicing firm affiliated with you guys before he died in 2006?" They said, "I did not understand that question. Please dial '0' for the operator." Anyway, the point is, I believe all of this.

We had an account with a financial institution where we deposited all our assets and life savings worth (US$8.921M) for a fixed period. I have just been informed by my doctor that I only
have few months to leave due to the cancer illness.

Financial Institution: Thank you for depositing your $9 million with us. Please remember that this is only for a fixed period, and if you do not withdraw this money in six months, it will EXPLODE.

Mrs. Douglas: But I only have a few months to leave.

Financial Institution: Uh, you need to leave like, now. We are busy.

Mrs. Douglas: No, I mean, I am going to die in a few months.

Financial Institution: Oh. Well, better send out some emails.

Having known my condition that will not allow me claim the funds personally;

Oh, you can't withdraw money to pay for cancer when you have cancer. I forgot about that rule.

I have decided to nominate you as my beneficiary since the
financial institution have now written me that the length of time agreed upon to hold my funds is now expired.

Dear Mrs. Douglas,

We have been holding your money this whole time and you still haven't picked it up. We're not a piggy bank, ya' know. Since you can't pick it up yourself and risk getting cancer on it, as previously suggested, please find a beneficiary over email and get back to us. We have other money to hold here and are running out of room. Thank you.


Financial Institution

My desire and purpose is for you to
promote humanitarian works. I.e. assisting the less privileged and building orphanage homes in your country and to upset my medical bills.

This whole thing reminds me of the plot to Brewster's Millions, except this version is unfunny and weird. Build orphanages? What is this, the 1800s? I want you to build orphanages for the orphans, and please -- buy as much porridge as necessary! It also reminds me of the Destiny's Child song, "Bill, Bills, Bills," in which Beyonce laments how men are not able to pay her medical bills with her own money. Can you pay my bills? Can you upset my telephone bills?

Please assure me that you will act accordingly. I encourage you to email me for more information.

I imagine the other information is just specs for the orphanage, and not the fact that there's a small fee to access the $9 million so maybe I should just send over my credit card information immediately. Anyway, rest assured I have acted accordingly by having this email forwarded to me from my mom and then placing it on my blog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

To tip or not to tip for takeout, that is the question

I am not a person who obsesses over money. I try my best especially not to bring up matters of petty cash lest I come across as cheap or something. That said, sometimes the monetary issue at hand becomes a matter of principle and I am forced to voice my displeasure. Like when we spent almost $300 as a family to go see Cirque du Soleil at University of Phoenix Stadium and then had to pay $10 for parking even though the event was literally in the parking lot and there were no other parking options. They funneled you into this tiny section of an enormous, otherwise empty parking lot so they could steal your money. Before the show started I turned around to a dad in the row behind me and said, “Can you believe the park—” and before I could even finish he started going off worse than I would have, which made me feel better. After the show we got caught in a haboob on our way back to the car, which made me angry all over again.

But that was simply an occasion of a city or large corporation sucking the average person dry for every penny, which is … America, I guess. What I would like to question today has nothing to do with that, but is a rare instance of society being apparently unable to get on the same page. My question is this: Do you tip for takeout?

I have my own answer to this question, which is no, and which is the right answer. If we start tipping for food that we ourselves are picking up, then all boundaries of what constitutes a tip and what doesn’t are blurred. And I am already often very confused about when to tip. One time I tipped a crossing guard.

For years I lived safely and confidently under the notion that it would be absurd to tip for takeout. In fact, I can’t even say that it was a notion because it was nothing I have ever even pondered doing. I wouldn’t even be asking this question were I not second-guessing my own true instincts. Recently someone I follow on Twitter posed the question, “How much should you tip for takeout?” and I was like, “What is this person talking about?” Am I the crazy one? I’M PICKING THE FOOD UP MYSELF TO TAKE HOME TO MY HOUSE.

I have gotten takeout a few times since then, and now when I get my credit card receipt and see the line for “tip” I have this internal struggle. The angel on my shoulder says, “Don’t do it! Hold your ground! You’re steadfastness will save society!” But the other angel on my shoulder says, “I don’t know, man … what if they remember your frugality and spit in your food next time?”

So today I reach out to you. Please feel free to leave your opinion on the matter in the comments. If it’s revealed I am in the wrong, I will be willing to admit the error of my ways, but not really. What I really need is for everyone to reaffirm I am not going crazy. If you vote “yes” in the comments please specify that you work at a takeout counter. Thank you.

Note: This column appears in the 9/13 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/14 issue of the Peoria Times.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Spam email of the week

So there I was today, sitting around like a schmo and thinking, "I'd really like to invest in a charity, but which one? Argh, thinking about this is such a PROJECT!"

Subject:  PROJECT

I don't know this person who is emailing me, like at all, but he/she definitely wants to collaborate on a project, and I am game. My philosophy in life has always been, "Start the project -- ask questions later."

Beloved I am Deborah Mannings.

There is no better way to tug at my heart strings than to call me "Beloved." Whenever I get an email that does not immediately acknowledge that I am, in fact, loved by God, I don't even read it. I have never read an email before this one. Wish me luck!

Oh, by the way, this person who emailed me here is Deborah Mannings. The name on the actual email sender reads Sister Deborah Mannings, so she is definitely a nun, and I trust her. The actual email this arrived from is, so she is definitely, I guess, a Chinese nun named Deborah Mannings and also Chui Hung Lee who, besides being a nun, works at the Park Hotel Group, obvs.

I have a charity project to propose..

Two periods are perfect when you're like, "One period doesn't seem like enough, and an ellipses would be totally over the top." I like Sister Deborah Manning Chui Hung Lee's style.

(please reply via

Deborah Mannings is a narcissistic or lesbian Chinese nun who is also named Chui Hung Lee and who works at Park Hotel Group, but also has an AOL account. I can think of no better person to collaborate with on a charity project. I mean, I get so bored with charitable organizations that are "legitimate," or have "websites," or "public records." Pfft. It doesn't have to be that complicated. A few kids in Papa New Guinea are hungry? Send some money to a Chinese lesbian nun. Eliminate the middle man. Still, I suppose it would be helpful to know the logistics here. On to the proposal ...


Oops, that was the end of the email. I think I have to reply to debbielovesdeborah, subject: PROJECT, email content, "Yo, Beloved Debbie a.k.a. Chui Hung or whatevs..what's the dealio on this charity thingee? Hit me off with the power point so I can send you some $$$, holla."

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Dressed to kill, and to run

Last weekend my wife and I went out for a night on the town. It’s not like it was our first night out since becoming parents, but I’m pretty sure it was our first night out out. Like, we went to a club. Or a discotheque. Or whatever it’s called when it’s not PF Changs.

Of course this meant that I needed to dress nicely, and not my version of nicely. This is a struggle for me because there is really not much in my wardrobe that falls in between the formality of a suit I would wear to a wedding and my business casual attire for work. I thought the collared shirt with suit pants screamed, “I’m here to have fun, but I might get called into work at any second to file an expense report.”

I thought I had it figured out. I was feeling very good, very confident about what I had chosen to wear. I walked downstairs, proudly looked at my wife for approval, but she looked me up and down, frowned, and nodded her head no. I said, “What?” She nodded again. I said, “Okay, just tell me what you don’t like.” She said, “The shirt, the pants, the shoes … and the belt.” I hung my head in shame and headed back upstairs.

The shoes are really the problem. No matter how nicely I’m dressed, I prefer to wear Converse. By some miracle—or because I looked like a buffoon in my formal shoes—I somehow won out and was able to wear my Cons. I did, however, have to bring a pair of nicer shoes to keep in the car just in case I wasn’t allowed in the club with sneakers. I looked forward to being denied at the door, and telling the bouncer, “Hold on, I’ll go to my car and get my other shoes,” while my wife waited on the side, arms folded and eyes rolling.

I actually thought that was exactly what was going to happen because when we approached the club I saw the velvet ropes. I tried to focus because even at the bank I tend to go the wrong way in the velvet ropes. Do I stand here or here? Which part is the entrance? Are you on line or are you watching the ropes? I also was relieved to see that the husband of the couple we were out with was wearing sandals. He is my new best friend.

They actually checked our IDs. With a flashlight. I could have gone home right then and I would have been happy. Then there was the cover charge. My new best friend had discreetly paid the cover for all of us, so my wife and I were waved inside like celebrities. I felt as glamorous as Ashton Kutcher, or whoever is famous these days.

It was quite a scene. There were a lot of ladies wearing not a lot of clothes and a lot of much older dudes staring at them. Music blared while a DJ asked rhetorical questions like, “How ya’ feeling tonight?” I tried to maintain some level of blue-collaredness by ordering a Miller Lite.

It ended up being a great time, if only for the people watching. It was fun to get out and do something different and be reminded of what it was like to be cool and also disoriented. Around midnight I looked at my wife and through ESP we said to each other, “I wonder how the babysitter is doing.” We went home and as a means of extending the romantic evening, I ate three slices of pizza.

Note: This column appears in the 9/6 issue of The Glendale Star and the 9/7 issue of the Peoria Times.