Tuesday, July 16, 2002

We finally had to discontinue correspondence with our friend Kabongo Kabila. It just wasn't fun anymore. He wasn't making much sense. Observe this message:
Mr Scott Patterson :
thanks for your mail, please i want us to exterblish a contarct befor i give you Mr Jacks e mail, i have to sent you a document regarding the fund that is certificat of deposit.secondly i don,t want a sutiation
were by you will cheat me in this business that is why we have to enter an agreement .
befor this week ends i will sent you the document .please give me your banks account number and your telephone number both home and your office.
awaiting your reply
Kabongo Kabila.
Not only was Kabongo talking nonsense, he made us a bit nervous with his mention of the mysterious Mr. Jacks. Who is Mr. Jacks? We assume he is an African warlord, easily angered and not to be trifled with. The last thing we want is to be left holding "the document" when Mr. Jacks comes calling! So with a few more polite queries, Kabongo starts asking for the goods:
Mr Scott Patterson :
thaks for your mail, please i want both of us to establised a contarct by haveing your home address and your phone and fax number secondly i will like to have your bank particuler to me forward your name to the company as the benefiary i will sent you a document. i personaly i don,t have Mr Jack e mail but i will ask for it when i gate it
i will sent it to you immidiatly.

Kabongo Kabila
The spelling, grammar and syntax were really getting to me at this point. It's hard to continue to estarblish these contarcts with Kabongo and Mr. Jacks. Do you think Mr. Jacks even has a first name? I'm guessing he's a one-eyed goon with one of those canes that actually comes apart, revealing either a sword or a gun - best to maim, not to kill, as more money or information can be extorted over time and intense pain.

The fun continues:
Mr Scott Patterson

Thanks for your mail sent to me , i need your bank aticulers so that i will us it to preperd the setificat of deposit which i will sent to you.and all so the company as the beneficiary i gote the email of Mr Jacks is mtbalewa@presidency.com i think he is in position to give you any infomation you need and please i beg you with the name of God that what ever discaustion you make with Mr Jack please you let me know about it secondly this is the amount US$25,500,000.00 (Twenty Five Million Five hundred thousand United states of America. i hope you will be abel to stand it .
my regard to your family.
Kabongo Kabila.
Got that everybody? Mr. Jacks' email has been revealed. Send him a note if you dare, but I don't advise it. You may find yourself hunted by mercenaries from Congo, or at the least, get a flood of junkmail. In our last note to each other, Kabongo mentions that he will move the money via diplomatic cargo. That clears that up! Well, we had to decline the offer, and I haven't heard from Mr. Kabila since. I'm gonna miss the old guy. Kabongy, I like to call him. I think we had a thing going. If you're ever in Congo, drop him a note for me. And say hi to Mr. Jacks. He might let you come home with one of your hands!

Monday, July 08, 2002

After a lull in the action, River City News is ready to come back out of hiding and begin reporting the news of our times again. There's nothing like starting a new website and then immediately going on vacation, right? This reporter was called away to the city that never sleeps, but is happy to report that New York City did, in fact, offer sleeping opportunities and general at-rest moments of reflection.

New York is always a cool place. Once again, I am somewhat baffled by the stereotype of "rude" New Yorkers; while I think I know what people are talking about, I just don't see an extreme difference between most New Yorkers and anyone else who lives in a big city. But enough subjective rambling, let's talk about the trip.

There was the beach, the trip to the bar that plays Waylon Jennings, talk of corn-on-the-cob, music, Central Park on a glorious Sunday afternoon, gay pride parades in the West Village, freestyle rapping on the subway, and a complete avoidance of Ground Zero on my part. I saw the news, I know what destruction happened. I felt no compulsion to go see where the buildings once stood. That's a personal choice. It's not a state of denial for me; more like a decision not to visit the scene of a terrible car crash. It's all real enough without a firsthand look.

Lots of things happened while I was away. It rained for a week in Austin, and we are still getting scattered showers. This is unheard of, but you won't hear me complaining. If my house floods, however, you can expect some whiny bitching headed your direction!

We received some interesting reader mail from one Kabongo Kabila. Now, we recognized the last name right away. Kabila - isn't that the guy who got assassinated in Congo this year? Bingo! Or should we say, "Bongo!" Kabongo, that is. What a name. I'm pretty sure that, if this correspondence has no further effect on me whatsoever, I will, at the very least, have a fleeting thought about naming my first son (or daughter) Kabongo. Now, the introductory letter:

I wish to introduce myself to you first. I am Kabongo Kabila, the
second son of the former president of
Democratic Republic of Congo, who was murdered by one of his bogy(sic)

That's it.. that's where the letter just abruptly cut off. This looked serious, so we decided to respond:
Please, tell me more. Why have you contacted River City News?

Luckily, our message made it through, because Kabongo urgently replied:
thanks for your mail .
please i need your help by geting this fund out from the security
company .
because i can no travel to any part of the world now .
best regard
Kabongo Kabila

We were worried that something like this might happen. So rest assured, we have urged Mr. Kabila to provide more info, and we are prepared to dip into our River City News International Assistance Fund (RCNIAF) to get the ball rolling. As soon as he is ready, River City News will send all relevant financial information, routing numbers, social security info, etc. - whatever is necessary to help Mr. Kabila get out of this trying situation in Congo. We'll keep you posted!

On another subject, those into spiritual oddities and otherworldly parapsychology etc. etc. should check out our latest feature in River City: In Too Deep for an interesting account of an out-of-body, and in this case, near-death experience. We'll publish something like this from time to time just to give you something to dream about.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

World Cup Soccer absolutely rocks the body. How could I have denied the power of this sport for so long? This is coming from a person who never expected to say "soccer" and "rocks" in the same breath. Perhaps I need to explain.

Nothing will replace, in my mind, the thrill of American football at playoff time. That is a rule. But World Cup soccer is the next best thing. The games are exciting, the fans are insane. The competition, after the first round, calls for one-game single elimination showdowns. No seven-game series garbage.

What other sport is so world-encompassing? Every continent, excepting antarctica, is pretty much fully involved. Brazil is about to play England in a huge match. Korea just shocked Italy; Africa is represented by Senegal…The U.S. faced-down Mexico on even footing (as compared to the Olympics, where we humiliate countries in sports like basketball, with the single goal of inflating the bloated American ego).

I would say this is unifying, in a way. Of course, countries that hate each other aren't going to kiss and make up during a soccer game. But it may be the solitary passion, or culture, they can claim in common.

A sport without television timeouts is a treat. The diehard soccer fans in the U.S. have always lamented the fact that this country treats soccer about as warmly as curling, while the rest of the world embraces their ball-kickers. I say let's keep it this way. Soccer is doing just fine around the world, with or without us. Do we really need America to get its claws in this sport? We'll end up with penalty boxes, bonus kicks, 2-point goals, 4-quarter games, and timeouts, timeouts, timeouts (commercials, commercials, commercials). Don't forget inflated player salaries, bargaining agreements, free agency and holdouts. Forget all that. Go Senegal. I can't find you on the map, but your jerseys look pretty cool…

Monday, June 10, 2002

The idea is pretty interesting, actually: The group, or agency, is called Found Money.com, and the notice comes from their Unclaimed Funds Department. If you have no idea what I am talking about, read our front page at River City News. The very idea of such a firm brings to mind images of suit-wearing, hard-working, bespectacled accountant-types frantically making calls and running through the office, occasionally with a "whoop! - I found another unclaimed thousand, boss!" rattling down the hall. The office manager is no doubt a tough, no-nonsense guy. "Track down who it belongs to - NOW!" he roars, and five people jump on the phones.

Or they fire off emails, hoping desperately to locate the people who have left so much money unclaimed. A thousand here, a million there - the numbers add up, dammit! And until Found Money.com had the guts to step forward and start getting to the bottom of this mess, the unclaimed cash was just rolling around in Swiss bank accounts, or perhaps in untouched inventory somewhere. That diamond mine in New Guinea just busted open again; there are riches to be claimed.

We at River City News hope desperately that Found Money.com has matched us with an unclaimed fortune. After all, their unsolicited e-mail asserts that more than 30,000,0000 people have unclaimed money out there - somewhere - that they don't know about. What we don't know about is exactly what kind of a number is 30,000,0000 - is there a comma in the wrong place, or is that an unclaimed zero? No matter, it's a lot of people. And, for investment sake alone, I think we've got a winner in Found Money.com. I'm pretty sure that the next time I want to buy some stock, a company that is sitting on millions in unclaimed riches is a great place to start.

By the way, check out longtime pal Harrison Pak's moving account of his struggle with e-mail and identity. Go to River City: In Too Deep. Thanks, Harrison!

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Every once in awhile, you have one of those really good weekends. Not great; I didn't go anywhere or do anything out of the ordinary. No drive to the country, no parties, no camping.. didn't even go to the park. But I saw an outstanding movie and happened upon some outstanding CDs. The movie was Insomnia. Being a devout Pacino fan, it was only a matter of time before I was going to drag myself to the theater to see it. What I got was so much more than I could possibly imagine. A review will be coming soon.

And then, I took in one of those bizarre moments that only presents itself once every now-and-again. That is, to be witness to something truly weird. I'm talking about the Holyfield/Rahman boxing match on Saturday night. I rarely watch boxing, which makes it even weirder that I saw this with my own eyes. What all of us watching HBO saw Saturday night was a medical disaster, or so it seemed, unfolding before our eyes. First, one guy head butts the other. Next, a knot immediately starts shooting out of the victim's (Rahman's) forehead. Between rounds, the trainer, who is obviously not a doctor, began working on this "knot" (which was quickly taking on a life of its own). Finally, the fight had to be stopped because this thing was approaching the size of a second head. Honestly, this grotesque, bulging thing looked like somebody's knee growing out of his skull. What was it... what was in there? Was it blood? I have to know. And I have to wonder why the fighter wasn't collapsed on the floor. What I saw looked life-threatening. And who says boxing isn't perfectly safe/crazy?

Get a look at this ridiculous bump on espn.com.
See another view on BBC Sports.

Friday, May 31, 2002

The headline today jumped out at me: "FBI eases restrictions on domestic spying." I could hardly contain my excitement! I started to break out my wiretapping equipment and "bathroom cams" when I realized that this easing of restrictions probably relates to the FBI spying on us, not us spying on each other.

Earlier this week, I had been struck by some international news. "NATO names Russia 'Junior Partner.'" What the hell is that? Sounds like a job that daddy, president of the Cracker Factory, creates for his pimply-faced 18-year-old son. How honored the Russians must feel. Once a great superpower that managed to make us mess our pants because they put a little aluminum ball out of space, now they're a "junior partner" with a special plastic badge and U.N. decoder ring.

On to a reader letter:

Excited reader and longtime pal Bill Paulk writes:

The writing, as always, is pithy and imaginative. However, the site itself is suffering from lack of technical support. I tried to email you from the site--one time it took me directly to Yahoo!'s main page, and the other time it just said "dead link" or some other IT jargon.

Editor's comment: Well, monkeyballs. It seems our telephone support staff and I.T. team have been on vacation (or are they on strike?). But I cracked some skulls and the problem has been fixed.