Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday, May 31st, 2008:
Swedes and Stripes, and
the kids are alright
in Helsingborg

What I think:

Before I get into this, I'd like to share the end of my African scammer story that I wrote about last week. I'd gotten yet another e-mail after my last, somewhat convoluted, response. It read:

Dear Mr Mark Base,
Please i can't understand you and did not know what you mean by this mail, I ask you for your full informations so that i can give you the bank contact and you are now writeing to me what i don't understand, so please if you cab help send me your contact informations before i can send you the bank contact and the document ok.

Miss Ibrahim

Here was my reply to that:

Dear Miss Ibrahim, 

I'm sorry for any misunderstandings. My understanding was that you understood, but I guess I misunderstood. I can now say that I fully understand your misunderstanding.

Now that we understand each other, maybe you can help me to understand what it is you want from me exactly.

Correct me if I misunderstood but, in your last e-mail to me, you asked me some questions which, to the best of my understanding, I have answered. If you didn't understand the answers, I am sorry. It can be so difficult in this world to make sense of things, and we often lack harmony and understanding. There's no sympathy or trust abounding. I think we both understand that this is most certainly not the Age of Aquarius, if you understand what I mean.

I'm so glad that we now understand each other, and I look forward to hearing from you again, to find out why you have chosen me, a lonely Swiss man with a wife and twelve children, to help you to realise (and understand) the fate that has befallen you with the passing of your beloved Father, amen.

May Jesus live in your heart, and fill it with even more righteous understanding.

Understandingly yours,
Mark Base

Finally, I got "her" final e-mail:

You talk out of senses.How am i sure i have not gotten to a mad someone.
Keep Talking Rubbish Ok.
But do not be mad cos as i see i think soon you will go crazy.

That was that. But I couldn't resist getting the last word in:

I'm not crazy, just ask my camel, Stephen.

All the best in your quest to find the right person to help you.

It has been fun.

Warm and fuzzy regards,

Now on to the main post...

Although I'm certainly not a fashion-conscious guy (I always wear black), I do sometimes notice what other people wear. In Helsingborg.

I went to Hamnkrogen last night to meet up with a friend I hadn't seen for quite a while, and started to people-watch (as I do). It's nice here in Helsingborg, when the sun comes out. People finally decide to come out, shed their big coats, and proudly display their summer-wear.  

I've reported on the socks-and-sandals-as-office-attire thing way back in February '06 (wow, was is that long ago?!), and the show-off-your-underpants craze in February last year (over a year since then?!).

One thing I've always hated is those not-quite-shorts/not-quite-trousers (US/CAN: pants). Those are still around in abundance here. Oh look! Here are some guys with them on now: 
But what I discovered a while ago, and what was very much in evidence yesterday, is that many Swedes like stripes. For example, look at this guy (whom you'll notice is wearing both stripes and those short-trouser things):
Many Swedes will go for the casual v-neck, with a more understated contrast between the stripes:
Others will attempt a slightly more subtle, stylish approach:
Some will go to seemingly great lengths to disguise their affinity with clothing of the lined kind, by trying to camouflage their stripes with intricate patterns:
But they're not fooling us, are they? Oh no. Sorry Love, those are stripes.

This gentleman would probably try to have us believe that his shirt is actually plaid; perhaps his family's own tartan:
Nice try mate, but I'm not buying it. Even though some are going in different directions, you still have multiple sets of parallel lines, a.k.a. stripes. Deal with it.

Something else I noticed, quite by accident, is that the age of the Swede can sometimes be determined by the width of the stripes. Look at this photo:
As you can see, the chap (US/CAN: guy) in the foreground has rather wide stripes. The stripes adorning the upper torso of the man on the right are considerably thinner, while those that the older gentleman on the left is donning are very thin; barely perceptible.

But this is, of course, a grossly exaggerated generalisation (US/CAN: generalization). Have a look at this photo, in which a younger fellow knocks my theory down in one fell swoop:
Yes, he is wearing very thin, subtle stripes. But wait! Look at his hand - he has actually tattooed stripes onto his skin; albeit cleverly disguised as a skeletal hand. This pierced, goateed, tattooed (trust me) trickster is fooling no one with his sly and deceptive tomfoolery. He is a stripe addict.

At this point, six beers later, I decided that it was time to go home and get something to eat.

While walking towards the bus stop, I was absently looking at the photos I had taken, trying to decide how to formulate any hypothesis I may have, umm, formulated... or something. Look, I was a bit tipsy, OK?

While I was approaching, I looked up from the screen on my camera, and noticed a group of teenagers, a couple of whom posed in a silly way, thinking that I was about to take a photo of them.

So I thought, yeah why not?

No sooner did I raise my camera purposefully, letting them know that yes, I am taking a photo, when the lot of them jumped into what appeared to be an incredibly pre-meditated pose, in all of about two seconds flat. Look at this:
I thought that was pretty impressive, but not as impressive as when I walked a bit further, turned, and let them know that I would take another photo. The pose below took (I swear to your favourite deity) no longer than three seconds to strike.Amazing, isn't it? 

(By the way, have you noticed the stripes in the photo?)

I'm not usually into chatting with teenagers, but these kids were a good laugh, keen to practice their English, and an amusing way to kill a few minutes while waiting for the bus. 

Now I have nothing against stripes. If you're into them, more power to you, I say. I'm definitely not stripe-ist in any way (some of my best friends, etc.), but when people try to disguise their obvious obsession with them, it just gets pathetic and sad. Closet stripers need to be hauled from their checked closets, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it.

That's what I think.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday, May 23rd, 2008:
Scamming scammers from Africa from Helsingborg

What I think:

OK, so I haven't been the best blogger for the past year or so. I haven't provided my adoring public (of four people) with the regular, constant, entertainment they had come to expect from me.

And for that I apologise.

At this point, I really don't want to make any promises I can't keep, so I will say this: I will massage any grandmothers from Boise, Idaho, who see this blog entry and answer within the next two days (offer valid from May 23rd until the 25th, 2008). And I will make an effort to blog a bit more frequently. OK?

At this point, however, I would just like to share with you a little e-mail conversation I had with an e-mail scammer today, probably from Nigeria (in Africa), but I can't be sure. 

It touched my heart. You wanna know what it said? It said:

I am Miss.Hamiya Ibrahim the only Daughter Of Mr And Mrs Aziz Ibrahim from Ivory Coast.

I am an Orphan being that I lost my Parents. My Father was a serving director of the Cocoa exporting board until his death. He was assassinated by the rebels following the political uprising. 

Before his death he made a deposit of Eight Million USA Dollars ($8,000,000.00) With a BANK. This fund he intended to buy a cocoa processing machine. I want you to help me for us to retrieve this fund and transfer it to your account in your country or any safer place as you will be the beneficiary and recipient of the fund.   

I have plans to do investment in your country, like real estate and industrial production.This is my reason for writing to you. Please if you are willing to assist me, indicate your interest in replying soonest.   

Thanks and best regards. 

Dearest Miss Ibrahim,

And this is what I replied:

Dearest Miss Ibrahim,

It would be my great pleasure to help you with this.

All I ask is that you tell me:
- how you got my name,
- what country it is that you are thinking of investing in, and
- The names of all four members of The Stranglers, BEFORE the original guitarist left the band.

If you are unable to comply with this simple request, I must assume that you are insincere, and will kindly ask you to go directly to the fiery depths of the Netherworld.

With warmest regards,
Mark Base

I thought that was the end of it. But no.

I got a further e-mail. The audacity level was brilliant. Take a few moments, and 
look at this: 

Dear Mark Base,

I thank you for answering my call,How are you today hope all is well.I must tell you that i benefit noting to be insincere with you since i know i this problem with me before i contacted you to see that this money which i inherited from my late father is save and be invested by you in any country you may like to invest this money on my behalf...

This money in Question was Deposited in this bank with my name as next of kin and as only child by my late father so i have all evidence and prove to tell you that i have this money in the bank deposited with my name by my late father..

Because of what i am passing through,Coupled with the problems giving to me by the relatives of my Dad i decided to get in contact with you so that you can give me the assistance by contacting the bank as my late father's foreign business partner so that they will tell you how and when my money will be transfer to your account but that should be after when i have received your contact Informations to enable me Introduced you to the bank as my late father's foreign business partner before i will now give you the full contact information of the bank for you to contact them
on my behalf for the transfer of my money to your account..

Some more questions for you please,

1. Are you married, tell me more about your family?
2. Can you manage the funds for investments in your country after its transfer?
3. Tell me a little about economic regulations, taxes etc in your country?
4. Can you send me an invitation to come to your country after the funds transfer?

These few questions is not meant to embarrass you, but because I have to be sure of certain things, before making any further moves on this issue.
God bless you.
Yours Miss Hamiya Ibrahim.

And so, I had to answer with this:

Dearest Miss Ibrahim,

Although I am disappointed that you were unable to name The Stranglers' original members (for your information, they were Hugh Cornwell on guitar, Jean-Jacques Burnell on bass, Dave Greenfield on keyboards, and Jet Black on drums), I feel that your sincerity shines through like a bright star on the horizon of my existence.

I thank you for contacting me again, and I am happy to answer your questions, even though I do indeed find them a little bit embarrassing and extremely rude, in the most loving and beautiful way that you can imagine in your most vivid and colourful dreams.

I am married. I have twelve children, and I have named seven of them George, after the late great George Harrison, the guitarist of The Beatles (who were the best Country & Western band since the Sex Pistols - don’t you agree?). Georges number 3 and 5 are not very pleased with being called George, as they are girls, but they are happy that I don’t beat them if they call themselves Georgina instead.

I manage money very well. I’m an expert in money laundering and tax evasion, and have been blessed to be able to use my talents with the names of my twelve children to further my necessary greed-mongering. I sometimes wish that fewer of my children were called George, as I feel that I could have made more than my $400,000 a year if all my children had different names.

The tax regulations in Switzerland (my home country) are quite strange and complex. Each year, I have to provide the government with proof that I have helped people in either Yugoslavia, Australia or Guam with their tax returns, and also answered a minimum of seven e-mails from African nationals asking for money. But I have no problem with this, as my cousin Bruce Schmidtski is a top-class top-class Australian-Swiss-Yugoslavian accountant with connections in high places in Guam, and he helps me to establish which requests are sincere, and which are scams.

Once I see that glorious cash in my account, baby, I will definitely send you loads of invitations to come to my home country. And not just for you, but for six of your closest friends as well. This in on the condition that they don’t mind being called George.

If you are like me, and enjoy the sound of cuckoo clocks in the morning, then I think we can do business.

I like you, and I trust that your request is an honest cry for help.
Please get back to me with more details, so that we may make further progress on our already burgeoning financial relationship.

May God appear in his best underpants for you.

Love and peace,
Mark Base


At this point, I'd like to thank you for your patience. I will be back shortly, with more concrete stories of Swedish underpants (but not of concrete underpants in Sweden - that's my secret) and more pub toilet reviews.

In the mean time, I hope that the Swedish government does something about those horrible topless girls we keep hearing about. We need more.