Friday, September 25, 2009

fun and games with email scams

The following text is an email exchange between myself and "Joan", a mysterious fan of my "creative artworks" The point of this scam is that she will send me a bogus money order for more than the price I ask, then request that I send the difference back to her. A week or two later, the bank would call and tell me the money order was a fake and I'm now out whatever amount of cash I sent to her.

I'd love to have you think that the idea of messing with the heads of those who send email scams is my own, but, alas, it is not. But my hope is that Joan will email me back and I will post any future exchanges we have about her desire to have my "creative artworks hanged in So. Africa".

Joan Morgan wrote:
Good day to you.

I am so excited that I came across of your work on internet search,I am interested in purchasing these creative artworks from you.....................

I am also so excited that i came across your your email in my box called Comcast. My creative artworks are very special and mean much to me, big gladness they do you too .................

Mary and jesus Discuss Spring,Guradian eastern standard time,Sketch for the conversation,Lost in the garden

At first, I thought you were offering me your blessing and then I know - no - this is the name of my precious artworks, and I had a big laugh.

Let me know their various prices.and how much discounts are you going to give?

The prices vary from big to very big to big big big. The discounts are small to smaller to smallest.

I will be happy to have these selected artworks hanged in our new home in South Africa.

Then you will want the big big big price ones.

As well, I want you to take out the shipping cost.

Yiu have much Kindness in you.

I have been in touch with a shipping firm that will be shipping other house decoratives.

That is a handy thing to have. I, too, have shipping firm, but my house decoratives don't need to go anywhere.

We are traveling from our Dallas home to our new apartment as soon as possible.

Then you may want the big big big big price art work.

On Paying for the artworks,I will be glad to pay you with a Money Order or Cashier`s check in US funds that can be easily cashed at your local bank,

That is so good because that is a way of giving me your money that feels good to me. My computer people say always trust Money Order or Cashier's check in US funds that can be easily cased at my local bank

please let me know on how to proceed for the payment of the creative artworks.

You can contact me at my home in the US. I was suspicious of you desire for my creative artworks, especially because you want Guardian eastern standard time,but when i see Dallas I know you must OK.

I will await your advise on how to proceed.

I am confused.I think it depends on where you want to go.

Have a wonderful day.

how not can I when I know I get to sell my creative artworks for a big big big price? should I come to your home? I want to see So Africa (Dallas, not so much).

Take care,
Joan Morgan

Monday, April 27, 2009


#1. The building I work in houses the Somerville Council on Aging. They have accessible vans that shuttle senior citizens to and from the facility for meals, exercise classes, lunch, and a weekly bingo extravaganza. Because we all use the same elevator (I'm on the third floor and they are on the second floor) I've been watching this parade of the elderly as I take my smoke breaks for over 8 years and now and recognize the regulars. I know when one has been out for awhile, which ones are always cranky and sniping, and who always has a smile, no matter what daily pains they are enduring. Of all of the centers events, nothing pulls them in like Friday bingo. They start shuffling in at 10:00 for the 1:00 start to "get a good seat". Many use canes and walkers and a few have those scooters that are advertised on t.v. as being "free to most Medicare patients" (I heartily doubt that).

Part of me is glad to see them each week, but I must admit that my heart sinks if I am distracted enough to forget that a smoke break between 2:45 and 3:15 on a Friday will intersect with their mass exodus. And woe be to the person who comes between one of these ladies and their elevator ride. Even though they all seem to recognize me and often share light conversation in the elevator, they become aggressive and hostile if I've directed the elevator to go up to the third floor when they get on at the second floor and want to go down. Although the elevator is small, they pack into it and can take a full five minutes to disembark, occasionally pausing directly over the door frame as they try to decide where they're going to park while they wait for their ride or to catch their breath from the all the hubub of the days activities.

#2. How can you dislike a ritual that includes bouncing balls, flashing lights, free crap prizes, waves of blue hair, and the surreal sound of the caller, chanting "O-se-ven-tee-fiiive .... Ooooo se-ven-tee-fiiive"?

#3. In Massachusetts, it's often called beano, which is the original name, based on the fact that beans were used to mark the numbers when it first appeared in the States in the 1920's. Edwin Lowe spotted the game being played in Florida and took the idea to New York, where he produced his own variation of it. In the 1930's, he hired Carl Leffler, a Columbia University math professor, to create cards with enough number variations to keep the percentage of simultaneous winners low. One of the web sources says that Leffler subsequently went mad, a bizarre addition to Bingo lore and, with apologies to Mr. Leffler, I hope it's true.

#4. My mother was obsessed with church bingo and played it religiously (pun intended) for about 3 years. On occasion, my sister and I would go with her, Kathy with her flask of Southern Comfort (her addiction ode to Janis Joplin) and me with a joint or two. The rituals surrounding the game were ironically pagan-like for a catholic church sponsored function. My mother and the other ladies would flirt with the priests and preen for them, sniping over who had received more direct conversation with Father than the others. They would fight over a favorite seat, divine which were considered "lucky spots", and bring objects for luck, lining their totems up just so around their cards. In between the games, the priests would walk the aisles, selling lotto punch cards, a 60's predecessor to scratch tickets. I loved it, but for all the wrong reasons. Kathy and I, drunk and or high as we were, could never keep up with the fast pace of the games, so I would often just sit back and watch my mother , who could play 10 cards at once. She was angry when she lost, elated when she won, spending her winnings immediately on more cards for the next game or lotto punch tickets, where you punched out the hole and unfurled it like a tiny scroll to reveal the number on it, hoping it matched the card. She was a joy to watch. Her devotion to her rituals, the precise nature of her technique, and the orderliness of her process was my first inkling that my mother had a touch of obsessive-compulsive disorder, something that I've seen become magnified as the years pass.

#5. I've been trying to weasel me and my camera into the Somerville Council on Aging weekly bingo game for several years. I asked the director once if she thought it would be possible and she frowned, saying I'd need to get the OK from all of the participants and she was doubtful that they'd allow it. The closest I've come was about a year ago, when someone donated a new bingo machine to the center and they agreed to let me take pictures of it during setup. Once in, I recognized the woman behind the machine as one of the old-timey regulars and asked if she'd mind appearing in a few of my photos. When I was finished with her and the machine, I wandered for a minute and took a few pics of the cards. I've since used those photos in several collages, such as "still life #14" and "mystic river dreaming of mother".

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Five things about five Tina's

My full name is Tina Louise Charlotte Riedel.

tina sinatra being kidnapped by a crazed joan crawford #1. Tina Louise Sinatra

My mother will tell you that I'm named after Frank Sinatra's daughter, Tina Louise, and that I should be glad for that, because the alternatives were not pretty - Camille, Bernadette, and Paul. Actually, they were so sure that I was going to pop out with a penis that they didn't bother to pick out any girl names. They considered Paula, but it didn't fit. So they argued for a week about a name. Finally, my mother proposed Tina Louise, in honor of that good catholic and patron saint of all nameless little Italian girls, St. Francis Albert Sinatra.

tina louise, the actress, with a classic 50's come hither look#2. Tina Louise

My father, were he still alive, would take you out of my mothers' earshot and tell you that he let her think that, but that I am, in fact, named after his favorite mid-50's soft porn pinup from the "gentleman's magazines", Tina Louise. Yes - the "three hour tour" one. It had a sort of twisted logic to it when you consider that they'd already used up all of their good name ideas and had started pilfering from the notorious and famous (ask my sister, Grace Marie Antoinette, or my brother, Steve Lawrence). Thankfully, Eydie Gorme Riedel was never on the table.

#3. Tina Riedel

As a friend recently pointed out, Tina Riedel is a fairly common name. I'm not the one in St. Louis, MO or Attica, NY. I've never donated over $1,000.00 to the Riedel Theater in NJ nor been associated with the Max Plank Institute (though it would be fabulously fun to impersonate this one. I'd give a lecture about how all artists should be given honorary doctorates in physics, based on their advanced knowledge of what lies underneath all things.) Finally, I'm not living a double life and jetting off to Scottsdale, AZ for the latest Meetup of the L Word group.

#4. Tina Louise Charlotte.
the weezilgrl herself, buying that ticket to heaven
My third name, Charlotte, is immediately recognizable by any other catholic (or ex-catholic, as the case is with me) as my confirmation name. This has to be a saint's name (thank god there are a bazillion of them) and you have to study up on them before you're confirmed. They are rarely chosen, however, by the child. Why did my mother choose Charlotte? Because the name she wanted, which was Charlie, was going to be a little awkward. Charlie was my mothers' childhood friend who lived across the hall from us after he was released early from prison to care for his dying mother. He'd been arrested for embezzling $100,000.00 from the company where he was an accountant. He was also my introduction to flaming queens. Even before his mother died, he was making plans to re-paper the apartment with red and white flocked wall paper (red and black in his bedroom), which he did shortly after her death. Despite his obvious preferences, my mother had a huge crush on him and her eyes would tear just talking about him. At the age of five (notice how I slipped that number in?), she told me she wished that she had never married my father and had married Charlie, instead (imagine that you hear Supertramp's "Dreamer" playing in the backround). When the opportunity came, 5 years later, to honor him, she did by choosing Charlotte, telling me that she would have liked it to be Charlie, but knew that wouldn't fly. Charlie, and my family's relationship with him over the years, could be it's own blog. I was 16 the last time I saw him. He was suffering from arthritis and had a treasure trove of drugs that he gleefully shared with my then-boyfriend, brother Stephen, and me while we drank, smoked a joint, and chatted about the good ol' days.

#5. Riedel

I'd love to believe that I'm related to the Riedel Glass dynasty in Germany, but I'll never know for sure. My grandfather was Christ Riedel and my father was Christian, just as the founder of Riedel glass is also Christian, but it's a stretch. But I have a better story than that for you about my last name. When I was 10, we moved out of Cleveland's' inner city (East Cleveland) to South Euclid, a suburb that had a large Jewish population (I was eventually named an honorary shmata sister by my friends in high school). My mother had grown up in Cleveland Heights, my father in South Euclid, and during the war, my mother was hassled for being Italian, my father, who actually dropped out of school in the 8th grade, for being 1/2 German. On the morning of my first day of school in South Euclid, my mother and I had the following conversation -

Mom: I'm so worried that you children will be picked on. I've decided to change our name.
the probably-not-my-rich-relative George Riedel
Really? Can you do that?

Of course we can. If all of you tell your teachers your new name, everyone will start to call you by it and it will just be so. Riedel (pronounced ree-del) is too German-sounding. Tell them your name is pronounced Rye-dell. They'll all think you're Jewish.

So, from that day forward, we were the Riedel (Rye-dell) family, with my father remaining the lone Riedel (Ree-del). To this day, I can tell when someone was listening during English class because they pronounce my written name the correct way, the German way, as Ree-del. You may have thought that the mangling of the english language came from lazy companies propagating bad spelling, like Donuts, but you'd be wrong. Blame it on paranoid little Italian girls who grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.