I got my very own

I got my very own copy of a venerable Nigerian “419 Fraud” message in my inbox this morning, asking for my help in landering $26 million bucks from illegal oil deals. Whoo boy, I can’t wait until my ill-gotten gains start rolling in!


Excerpts from the message are below:


STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL
ATTN: PARTNER,
Through some discreet inquiries from our Chambers of
Commerce, you and your organization were revealed as
being quite astute in private entrepreneur….
…This business involves the remittance of US$26.5
million (Twenty Six Million, Five Hundred Thousand
dollars) only into your bank account from our apex
bank where this fund has been lying idle in a suspense
account. The money accrued through deliberate
over-invoicing of old project executed for the
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation by some
foreign firms…
…We have worked out this scheme to benefit us along
with any foreign partner who obliges us the materials
and channel to transfer out the fund into his/her
nominated account with a view to travelling down to
meet you thereafter so that we can have our share…

The deal is that I call Nigeria, in a sweat to get my taste of this pile of cash, and start forking over “Transfer fees” and other money. I know a woman in the Secret Service who, until recently, was assigned to the Nigerian fraud team. Now that she’s off, it’s all going to hell!

I got my very own

I’m going to have to

I’m going to have to be a lot nicer when writing about the Martinez Academy of Arms in the future. I went to watch a class last night, and it has to have been the friendliest martial arts studio I’d ever been in. Yes, I could have started up a conversation about Babylon 5 or Star Wars card games with anyone in the place, and yes, Maestro Ramon Martinez does use “Maestro” in his name, a practice which I equate with a non-MD calling themself “Doctor”, but, they were really nice.


Plus, the weapons were absolutely beautiful. The foils I’ve seen at other fencing schools are unexciting chromed metal, with about as much panache as an extendable blackboard pointer. These foils, however, were handmade, with blades from Italy and (in most cases) antique hilts and pommels. I held a dueling rapier from the 1880s that gets used every day in practice, and it was really cool.


There’s enough old-school “academy of arms” schtick here to film a Cyrano movie, too, with Spanish phrases to say for each move: “ti ti!” to advance, “ti ta!” to retreat, “zut!” on a lunge. It sounds kind of embarassing written here, but it works in the studio. The whole dangling-wrist thing seemed okay there, too.


My only hesitation is that it’s a big commitment of time (3 hours a class!) and money ($25.00 a lesson), and I’d only be able to go once a week. So I’m gonna check out the Ukranian Cyborgs on Thursday evening.


I haven’t met the Fencers’ Club teachers yet, so I can still poke fun.

I’m going to have to

It took some cojones to

It took some cojones to walk into the New York Fencers Club for the first time yesterday, even if I do say so myself. First of all, I had terrible clothes. I know, guys aren’t supposed to care about that stuff, but I suspect that’s crap. Also, I live in New York, for chrissakes. So I was not happy about taking the subway in a stupid pair of cotton kung fu pants that are gathered at the ankles, with a really stupid pair of Nike Air Tailwinds that I bought because I succumbed to the clerk’s reverse snobbery at the running shoe store about how I should get these shoes for the cushioning even though they look really dumb.


So I walk in, feeling stupid, and the place is full of wiry sixteen-year-olds, and suddenly I realize how long it’s been since I was really and truly out of my comfort zone. I’ve been taking kung fu for about six weeks now, but I did a lot of martial arts in college, and I know the cliques pretty well, so that wasn’t too scary. I’ve been doing some ballroom dancing with Kate, too, which can get pretty comical, but I’m used to that too, I guess. So suddenly, I’m dealing with a Genuine Introvert Moment.


I lived, of course, though I did not triumph: I finally talked to one of the Ukranian coaches, who told me that they couldn’t find a teacher for the Sunday Adult Beginner class, so there were no Sunday classes. I pointed out, huffily, that their website advertises the Sunday class, and they should take the ad down, but everyone just looked at me blankly. So I hauled down my colors and beat a retreat, Air Tailwinds squeaking on the linoleum floor.


Tonight, I check out the Martinez Academy of Arms, despite the direct and impassioned pleas I have received to the contrary:


  • From Tiffany Potter-Chiles: “At the
    MARTINEZ ACADEMY OF ARMS, Andy Baiman’s hair alone
    would leave me laughing so hard I’d trip and end up with an epe´┐Ż
    up my nose.”
  • From Kate: “OH MY GOD! Cyborgs– please!! Go NOWHERE NEAR the Freaky Freaks!!!!! I am warning you!”

It took some cojones to

I had an epiphany while

I had an epiphany while watching the pilot of the new WB Superman prequel, “Smallville“, the other night. The epiphany was this:


In the movies, and on TV, rich people always prance around their mansions with fencing outfits on, fencing with each other. They then tear their masks off either angrily (foreshadowing: the character is evil, and will do whatever it takes to get what they want), or with a big shampoo-commercial cascade of hair (foreshadowing: the character is a spoiled bombshell who kicks a huge amount of ass.) In “Smallville”, young Lex Luthor tore his mask off in style #1, naturally.


Here’s my theory about why the fencing scene is so popular: A fencing scene shows the oak-paneled interior that the location scouts worked so hard to find; it shows the rich asshole in question being combative, which always is useful for foreshadowing, and it’s cheaper to film than a horseback riding scene. (Plus, with the full-face masks, directors could use body doubles for the actual fencing. I bet that doubles come cheap, and I bet they have their own equipment. Plus, you don’t have to teach the lead actors to ride horses, or try to find an exterior shot full of rich-person grass and trees.)


So, needless to say, I’m gonna take some fencing classes in the winter, so I can eventually prance around my study, tear off my mask angrily, and throw my foil so hard that it sticks in the wall.


Should I take the “real” swordfighting classes, that teach historical fencing (no namby-pamby electrical vests)? Or the sporting variety of fencing? The sporting type of club probably has fewer members who are also in the Society for Creative Anachronism. Kate has been teasing me mercilessly about all the new SCA friends I’ll make, and about what a good time I can have wearing floppy velvet hats to the Renaissance festival.


Maybe the best way to choose is to look at the faculty. I need your help! Take a look at the faculty at both clubs, and let me know what you think. I’ll go take classes at the school you choose!

I had an epiphany while

I’ve been remiss in my

I’ve been remiss in my Blog postings, so I didn’t write about the karaoke bar that the legendary Todd Pugsley took me to on Friday night. Actually, his new girlfriend Phong took both of us. When I hear the phrase “karaoke bar”, I think of a Jersey-style pub setup, with a microphone machine next to the pool table, and where folks with tight acidwashed jeans and cheap bomber jackets get up to sing “Livin’ on a Prayer.” This place was completely different — a front desk, a small bar, and a long hallway with doors on either side. Behind each door, a room — maybe 10′ by 12′ — holding a low table, industrial-strength stereo, wraparound couches, and two big televisions.


The room was crammed with young Vietnamese undergraduates in party dresses, and their boyfriends in black turtleneck sweaters and leather Vanson jackets. Far from singing Jersey’s Greatest Hits, they were concentrating on ballads — Air Supply and Journey. The computer would identify each song briefly by number before showing the title: “65-002”, and the biggest karaoke junkies in the room would say “oh, I love this song!”, because they knew them all by number as well as name.


I sang. Guns ‘N Roses, because I don’t know the words to “Endless Love.” It was embarassing. ‘Nough said.

I’ve been remiss in my