People are amazing, and the Tale of the Craigslist Scammer

People are amazing.

Today, we made a last-second, completely spontaneous decision to pack the Bartletts into the Buick and trek westward to Grand Forks for a day of shopping. We rolled into town about 10:45, far before any of the stores opened at noon, so we decided to have an early lunch at the Golden Corral buffet, thinking Helen would enjoy having a big ol’ spread of food to choose from. Forty-five minutes later, we were in the process of finishing up our meal that had been exactly the quality you would expect when considering it cost $22 for all four of us, combined.

Another family came in and sat at a table directly adjacent to us – a mid-20s guy with splotchy tattoos randomly dotting his arms, two small children, a baby, the woman who was probably their mom, and a couple that were probably the guy’s parents.

The baby was a cute, pudge-faced little boy, maybe nine months old, decked out in purple Vikings garb. He was smiling and giggly, and as Melissa, a mom of two, tends to do, she decided to smile at the baby. The male half of the “probably the guy’s parents” couple turned to Melissa and said “Take a picture. It will last longer.” Then he promptly adjusted his chair, moving from the side of table to a corner, so he had his back directly to her. Some jabbering back and forth with the woman we presumed to be his wife ensued, and after a few sentences the woman says “Well, if they want to stare, give them something to stare at.”

First, I don’t even know what that meant. What would they give us to stare at? A picture? Maybe he was going to do a dance for us? What does that even mean? Second, are you serious? People really act like that? Here is an adult, likely fully four decades past the point when the phrase “take a picture, it will last longer” should come out of a human being’s head in a serious fashion, immediately joined by another elementary-school contribution from his wife, berating my wife, and for what? For thinking the child we presumed was their grandson was cute? In a public place full of people? It was cartoon character behavior. We were completely floored by it, and even discussing it later were baffled as to what would’ve been an appropriate way to deal with that level of ridiculousness from other adults. I just cannot fathom the mindset of someone who would make a decision to act that way in public, in front of children, or, honestly, in front of anyone.

The best part of the story – Random Tattoo Arms comes back from the buffet with his plate of food, makes eye contact with Millie, and smiles at her. We should’ve told him to take a picture. Instead, we just quietly packed up the kids and got on with our day.

The Tale of the Craigslist Scammer

To cap our Sunday of insanity, Melissa had a nice exchange tonight with some perfectly nice people who were trying to steal money from us. A few days ago, Mel responded to a Craigslist posting from the Bemidji listings for a Yamaha GB1 baby grand piano — that was listed under “free stuff.” An email exchange led to the following story – guy moved to Florida, had bought this piano for his son, son died in a car accident a few months previously, he didn’t have anywhere to put it, wanted piano to go to a good home.

However, the piano was already in transit; a moving company, owned by a family friend, was taking the piano to put it in storage. We were provided with contact information for the mover, a Gmail address, and told that we could easily get the mover to deliver the piano to our home instead if we were willing to pay a transit fee of $300.

More email is exchanged, and finally Mel asks for a phone call so she can talk to an actual person. The call comes in within a few minutes; however, caller ID shows the phone number as being very unusual – it starts with 234, followed by another three-digit number, then six more digits. So, that’s not a U.S. phone number; we Googled it, and lo and behold, 234 is the country code for Nigeria.

Scam. Some more email was exchanged, and the longer it went on the more red flags were raised. Mel finally asked for the phone number of the owner of the piano, and the response was “why can’t you just contact him directly via email?”

Finally I did a Google image search for the piano, and found the same pictures that were in the Craigslist ad. They were in a Craigslist ad from Alaska, posted 12 days earlier than the Bemidji posting; the same post, with the same three photos. Further Google searches showed identical CL ads in many other places, from North Carolina to Utah and most points in between. Many other CL ads for free Yamaha pianos in cities all over the country were flagged for removal.

Mel texted the guy and said “I’m no longer interested.” He responded with a simple “OK.”

If it’s too good to be true, etc.

Comic review: Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe #7

Cobra Civil War: G.I. Joe #7
IDW Publishing
Street Date: Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Cover price: $3.99

Written by: Chuck Dixon
Pencils: Wil Rosado
Inks: (none credited)
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Shawn Lee

Cover A: Tom Feister
Cover B: Wil Rosado, with colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Cover RI: Trevor Hutchinson

G.I. Joe: Flint, Beachhead, Tripwire, Roadblock, Tunnel Rat
Cobra: Baroness, Major Bludd

Two storylines from G.I. Joe #6 involving Baroness and Major Bludd are advanced, and one is wrapped up in a nice, neat little package. There’s little new here – this issue offers a straight continuation of the two plot lines seen last month.

Baroness doesn’t get quite as much play here as she did last month, but she continues to be a solid and compelling character. One Joe makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his teammates from the BAT, and the team eventually has to take drastic measures to eliminate it. The confrontation is a solid action sequence, despite one amazingly cheesy piece of dialogue.

However, the BAT turns out to be so difficult to defeat that it will be a challenge for writer Chuck Dixon to justify using more than one of them in a fight against the Joes at any point in the future for this series; with what it took for the Joes to destroy a single BAT, it’s implausible to think they could defeat several of them without suffering massive casualties.

Bludd’s stalking of the Tuna comes to a conclusion in a nice, neat “Star Trek: The Next Generation”-shaped package, leaving the Joes narrowly escaping and down yet headquarters to Cobra.

Major Bludd’s success in this issue propels him up toward the top of the body count leaderboard, and the capital loss he inflicts upon the Joes is similar to Oda Satori’s destruction of the Pit. Based on the criteria given for the contest so far, he’s now contending for the lead and should be considered a legitimate candidate. We also get a bit more of a look at his sidekick, whom the inside front cover lead for this issue claims is actually named “Error 404.”

However, with two issues to go in the Cobra Civil War before the new commander is revealed in G.I. Joe #8, identifying a leader in the contest remains as difficult as it did eight months ago at the beginning of this event. This issue seems to wrap up Major Bludd’s role as a significant player in the contest; Baroness is still in play, and there are other storylines to advance or tie off in this month’s Snake Eyes #7 and Cobra #7, but there still isn’t a runaway leader in the contest.

Ultimately, this issue forces the storylines of the Baroness and Major Bludd forward, but is largely unspectacular.

Also of note, readers of the series are treated to what are possibly Rock ‘n’ Roll’s first lines in the series, although he did make at least one cameo appearance during Season One.

Wil Rosado is on art duties for the second consecutive issue, continuing his fill-in assignment for series regular Javier Saltares. The art is solid; as was the case last month, he draws a great Baroness, but most of the other characters seem stiff. There’s nothing about it that is bad, necessarily, and it’s still a welcome reprieve from Saltares. What we saw last month on this book is pretty much what we get here as well.

The creative team is the same as last month; Romulo Fajardo, Jr., is on colors (he turns loose a fun lighting effect on the Page 1 splash of the Tuna/Cobra dreadnaught) and Shawn Lee letters.

For Cover A, Tom Feister draws the Baroness chained to a jail cell wearing red-soled Christian Louboutin stilettos. Win. Interior artist Wil Rosado provides Cover B, and it seems to be a better fit for the previous issue, or even better, G.I. Joe #5, but it’s a solid image. The intriguing cover is Trevor Hutchinson’s retailer incentive; an airbrushed-look highly stylized shot of Scarlett. On its own it’s highly unusual, but will likely hold up well when displayed side-by-side with the other two retailer incentive covers this month of similar style. IDW’s done some interesting things with the retailer incentive covers lately, and it’s entertaining to see how they continue to push the envelope of what’s expected when you think of a comic book cover.

G.I. Joe: as many as 11 (Pokerface; 10 greenshirts) (Total: 46)
Cobra: 1 (BAT) (Total: 88)

Major Bludd makes a significant move forward with an indeterminate number of Joes killed; around 10 are seen dying. His body count would therefore increase to 12. You can make an argument that the BAT’s kills are attributed to the Baroness; if that’s the case, she’s up to 12. If these assumptions are correct, Bludd and Baroness would be tied atop the kills leaderboard with 12 apiece. Bludd thinks he has an advantage based on the asset he cost G.I. Joe, but as High Command told him directly, “this contest will not be determined by mere body count.”

The Terrordrome has a preview of G.I. Joe #7 here.