Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Wrath Of The Downton Abbey Fans

Two Films On Period Drama Collide; Sparks And Explosions Fly

Los Angeles (AP) For several years, the period drama Downton Abbey captivated audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Set in the 1920s and telling the story of the lives, both upstairs and downstairs, in an English manor, the series developed a loyal audience as it wove the tangled stories of the aristocracy and those working for them against the backdrop of history. Creator Julian Fellowes, esteemed by the audience for his work, has been carefully developing a feature film following up the series and featuring a number of the characters from the series. The film is due to be released in September. This reporter, who watched one episode once and was bored out of his mind, will not be taking it in (editor: you don’t have a mind!)

And yet another Downton Abbey film saw seen the light in 2015, opening to savage reviews by critics. Downton Abbey: Blowing Up The Abbey was brought to life by director Michael Bay, known for a series of logic ignoring, explosion prone, loud and noisy preposterous films (editor: drop dead! Michael Bay is a great director!) such as Pearl Harbor and the Transformers franchise. This reporter, unfortunately stuck with a grouchy editor with anger management issues (editor: shut up!) and who doesn’t respect restraining orders (editor: what did I just say about shutting up?) has been condemned to doing stories his cranky editor knows he won’t like (editor: burn in hell, you jackass!).

The Bay take on the franchise didn’t feature any of the series cast. Nor was it filmed at Highclere, the setting that doubled for the manor in the series. Strenuously refused by Lord and Lady Carnarvon to allow filming, Bay instead rendered his version of Highclere in a CGI form and had sets built to resemble the interior. It was a production plagued by problems, delays, and death threats by fans who were furious by what Bay might do to their beloved franchise. Fellowes and fellow producers Gareth Neames and Rebecca Eaton stressed that Bay had swindled his way into making his adaptation, and officially disavowed the project.

None of this mattered to Bay, who never met an explosion he didn’t like (editor: you’re just jealous of a great movie auteur like Michael Bay!). His cast was mis-cast to say the least. Nicolas Cage played Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham. Shia LaBeouf played Matthew Crawley, the heir. Betty White had been cast as the Dowager Countess. Megan Fox appeared as Lady Mary Crawley. Jon Voight took the role of Thomas Barrow. And Steve Buscemi appeared as the valet John Bates. Any effort to use British accents was ignored in a film that went out of its way to have Jon Voight kick King George V in the ass before sending a freight train into runaway mode and destroying the manor. The film nonetheless did big box office among Bay fans, while attracting the wrath of actual Downton fans, who protested outside of showings.

“500 million dollars,” Bay said with a smirk when reached at his offices at Digital Domain this week. As always he looked himself- the casual clothing, the three days of stubble, the disheveled hair, the dimwitted grin, the vacant eyes suggesting nothing much was going on in his head (editor: shut up! Stop disrespecting Michael Bay!) “Let’s see those boring-ass idiots Fellowes and company make five hundred million out of their little film.”

Dame Maggie Smith, having had returned to her popular role as the sardonic Dowager Countess, has always been less than impressed with Bay. “He is an odious little troll, a self-absorbed waste of oxygen, a buffoon, and a bloody fool. And that’s me being kind,” she told this reporter from the set of the new film.

The new film, having largely wrapped up its filming time at Highclere and reunited much of the cast, gives hope to the fans of the series who were so incensed by the Bay adaptation. Penelope Hampshire, president of the Downton Abbey Worldwide Fan Association and a professor of history at Oxford, admitted in a phone call that the devoted fans of the series were outraged at the time. “You take an uncultured nitwit like Michael Bay and let him loose on something we love so dearly, what do you expect? Oh, certainly, for a time there was a bounty on his head, but that just reflects how strong our feelings are for the series. Yes, the bounty on him is long gone, but that doesn’t mean all is forgiven. Frankly, if he was clinging to the edge of a cliff and calling for help, I might be inclined to step on his fingers.”

For a last word on the matter, we turn back to Bay himself. “Oh, sure, I wish them all well. Let them make the five grand a bunch of old grannies will pay to see the movie in the first weekend before it closes to abysmal numbers. That’ll give me a chance to start production on a sequel. I’m thinking of setting it in World War Two and calling it Downton Ruins. Luftwaffe bombers, people! Luftwaffe bombers!”

In the opinion of this reporter, Michael Bay is nuts. (editor: restraining order be damned, I will end you.)

This reporter would like to point out that his cranky editor has just threatened his life yet again. Surely this qualifies as a violation of that restraining order (editor: you are dead, man! Dead!).

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Extortionist Internet Scammers Ploy

My previous post with the return visit of ye olde internet scammer (otherwise known as homo sapiens scammeritis annoyingus) reminded me of a story that came out in the news last month. It seems the traditional Nigerian scammer had stepped up their game, at least on face value. Actually it's more along the lines of instead of fishing for suckers, this gang of internet scammers went to another level with extortion attempts. Businesses and organizations across North America received several versions of the same general ransom demand email mixed together with a bomb threat in mid-December. Police investigated, but found no trace of explosives. It's thought that the people responsible might be behind a sextortion scam last fall. What follows was one of those emails.

Good day. My mercenary has carried the bomb (lead azide) into the building where your business is conducted. My mercenary built the explosive device under my direction. It can be hidden anywhere because of its small size, it is impossible to destroy the supporting building structure by this explosive device, but if it denotates there will be many wounded people.
My recruited person is watching the situation around the building. If he notices any suspicious activity, panic or cops the device will be blown up.
I can call off my man if you make a transfer 20,000 usd is the price for your safety and business. Transfer it to me in Bitcoin and I assure that I have to withdraw my mercenary and the bomb will not detonate. But do not try to deceive me – my guarantee will become valid only after 3 confirmations in blockchain.
It is my Bitcoin address: [redacted]
You have to solve problems with the transaction by the end of the working day, if the working day is over and people start leaving the building the bomb will explode.
Nothing personal this is just a business, if I do not see the bitcoin and a bomb explodes, next time other companies will send me more bitcoins, because it isn’t a one-time action.
I will no longer log into this email, I monitor my wallet every twenty minutes and if I receive the money I will give the command to my man to get away.
If the bomb explodes and the authorities see this email We are not a terrorist society and don’t take responsibility for explosions in other places.

And so like your standard internet scammer, our extortionist shows some of the tell tales. English clearly isn't his first language (you think?). After all, denotate is not the word you were going for, champ, it was detonate. Unless you're suggesting that your explosive device is a past participle. There's the phrasing that doesn't read like it's being written by someone with a command of English, and the issues with punctuation. Honestly, who uses the term mercenary and 'recruited person'? And 'terrorist society'? Someone who's using Google translate, that's who. And yet unlike the usual internet scammer, this sort isn't dangling the promise of big bucks out there for a sucker to bite at. No, this one's making a threat about setting off explosives unless you go through with his extortion demands. Could it be frustration over people not buying the scam emails?

Actually not likely.  Some of the news stories I've seen on the matter since have suggested that the scheme originated in Russia, to which I would say, wow, no kidding. Russia is a sort of wild west of criminal activity these days, overseen by the Godfather of St. Petersburg, Tsar Vladimir himself, who's spent years systematically looting his own country and making himself obscenely rich (not bad for a retired KGB operator, huh?) through all sorts of ill gotten means. When he's not doing silly photo ops to try to overcompensate for his shortness of stature.

It makes you miss the not really so bad old days when we had our little Cold War going on. At least the Soviets were dependable. Even if it was mutually assured destruction and the threat of all out nuclear war, you knew that nobody was going to be foolish enough to actually launch anything at the other side. Not so much these days, as recklessness seems to rule the day and their side has the sorry excuse for a chief executive in the Oval Office by the fine hairs, so to speak. And Russkie hackers are out there interfering in elections, social media, financial markets, and now in their spare time might be sending bomb threats (for non existent bombs) to every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there. Or Kate, Vickie, and Mary out there. 

Boris? Can I call you Boris? No? Well, I'll call you that anyway. I'm sure Tsar Vladimir (Vlad to his friends, but oh, wait, he doesn't have any friends, because Putin doesn't trust anyone) might have told you and your comrades that this was going to work. Instead, not a bitcoin was sent. All you did was disrupt businesses and organizations with badly written email bomb threats that were as empty as the space inside your head.

This much I'll say- compared to this kind of incompetent buffoonery, the regular internet scammers like The Blessed Reverend Mary Goodlife Nbatu are a blessing. Not that I'm suggesting she start sending more emails with promises of fake riches. No, I'm just saying that given a choice between putting up with her and putting up with you, I'd put up with her. 

You? I'd suggest you add some lead azide to your vodka, down it, and see what happens.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Night Of The Undead Internet Scammer

You can tell them over and over again to drop dead, to go away, to take a hint and hold their breath for an hour. And yet they never listen. I speak of course of the internet scammers and spammers who send us emails that get shunted right off to junk, or try to spam our blogs. One particular post in my photoblog, for instance, is routinely targeted by endless spammers (and since it's an older post all the comments must be screened by me). I don't know what it is about that post that attracts their attention- it's a routine spring walk around in the vicinity of Parliament Hill and taking in lilacs. And yet it does. The other day I noticed one short comment- "thanks for sharing your thoughts on how to relieve headaches." 

There was nothing in that post about relieving headaches. The only headaches I get are from putting up with spammers, who in my personal opinion should all be chained together and dropped into the Marianas Trench. Yes, spammers (and scammers), I went there. You should be dropped into the ocean, chained together. Awake, alert, and knowing precisely what's about to happen to you, knowing you're about to descend into the deepest part of the ocean. 

On a related note, I sometimes visualize my idiot ex-brother-in-law in the same position.

Anyway, this brief attempt at ye olde internet scammer (aka homo sapiens scammeritis annoyingus) surfaced in my junk email the other day.

I am Feliciano Bermudez ,i got my loan of $750,000 from this firm. Are you in need of a fast and legit loan? if yes kindly contact: for more info today. Name: Country: Required quantity: monthly income: Loan Duration: get back to us by email: 

Where to begin? Well, how about the name. Feliciano Bermudez. Wow, did you pick that one out of a hat? A Cracker Jack box prize? A pin the tail on the donkey game that went wrong? I'd say it sounds like a fake name- and in your case it actually is- though I see from looking about online that there are actual Feliciano Bermudez names out there (complete aside: you poor bastards).

We see some of the usual tell tales: spacing issues, capitalizing things that don't need it, while not capitalizing others- after all, when we use the word I to refer to ourselves, we don't write it as "i."  Our friend with the totally fake name uses the word 'legit' to describe this loan. Because that instills me with confidence.

While our friend doesn't employ some of the other standard tell tales of a Nigerian scammer- the long drawn out story of the widow/ daughter/ assistant/ concubine of the former president/ prince/ minister/ general that we so often see in these things, and while it's shorter than you would usually expect, there are a couple of other things I'd like to touch on (aside from that ridiculous name, because had it been real, this Feliciano Bermudez would have gotten the shit kicked out of him every single day on the school yard).

Feliciano claims that he got a loan of three quarters of a million dollars from this totally fake firm. Well, first, he doesn't write like the sort of person who can pay back three quarters of a million dollars, as I've pointed out already. And second, he can't seem to keep his story straight from beginning to end. Is he claiming he got a loan from these people or is he claiming to be one of them? Because by the end of it, he's saying, 'get back to us by email'. 

Us? So which is it, Feliciano? Is it 'this firm' or is it going to be 'us'.

Your so called firm is a fly by night operation of internet scammers at the far end of a long line of fake email addresses with one objective: to score a few hundred dollars off of someone dumb enough to buy this scam. 

For the rest of us, it's just the sort of thing to make us roll our eyes when we check our junk email. And perhaps use it for blog fodder.

Do us all a favour, Feliciano.

Give yourself a few deep papercuts.

Then go for a swim.

In waters infested with great white sharks.