Friday, November 29, 2013

The Strange Case Of The Layaway Plan - Chapter 3 (or "Mounting Debts 'R' Us")

... and then came something so insidiously horrifying that it's worked its way into becoming a notorious modern day plague, courtesy of Kiefer Reef's devious machinations: 

The Advance Payday Store

This guy. Mastermind money maker extraordinaire ...

Adding to the legacy of his great-great-great-great-great-great-not-so-great grand uncle Sean Pawn, this was Kiefer's response to layaway's steady decline over the years. Jump into your car and head on over to your local advance payday store for a loan just about guaranteed to put you in hock over your ears. The ultimate "gotcha." The easy way to quick money ("No credit problem too big for us!") Because, really: Don't all of us need to pay 60 points on the dollar in time of need?

All you need do is waltz into one of these money shops, tell them what you need, practically sign (in blood) on the dotted line and you high-step out of the joint with cash in hand, happy as a lark.

Better yet ... who needs a car? Log on with your trusty computer and do it from the comfort of your own home while still in your skivvies.

The ages-old stand-by marketing plan:
Smiling beautiful people. Congratulations - you've got the public hooked ...

Yes, clever as well as insidious. Kiefer had it going on when he came up with this little plot, expanded over the years nationwide with thousands of stores which keep his fortunes not only maintained but growing healthily. Even more brilliant was his initial marketing plan to bring the throngs in - showcase attractive Beautiful People smiling away as they wave a handful of cash. Talk about being distracted by shiny objects ...

Clark noted Kiefer's twisted machinations aren't too much for The Unbelievables to handle ... and, really, they're not. It's simply a matter of educating the public at large. (Mainly with a "Hey, buddy: Are you insane? You might have your problems in the monetary department right now as you see them, but trust us when we say they'll escalate tenfold if you step foot in this joint ...")

The majority of the time we're successful in steering unsuspecting regular Joes from these places. But the public mind is an interesting turmoil of emotion and self-gratifying need - its going to do what it wants, common sense be damned. If they want instant money, dad gum it, they're going to get it. "This establishment is a legal place of business! Don't tell ME I can't go in there and get what's coming to me!"

Yeah. They get what's coming to them all right ... in the form of a speedy lesson.

Kiefer Reef, backed by free enterprise. The criminal mind is a dark, thorny, treacherous, evil place ...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Strange Case of the Layaway Plan - chapter 2

Kiefer Reef is the great-great-great-great-great-great-not-so-great grand nephew of Sean Pawn, the inventor of, you guessed it, the pawn shop. Here's how that went:
SP: You there, peasant. You are starving and smell of cholera and filth. Yet you play so beautifully upon that lyre. Sell the instrument to me for a gold farthing and get yourself some food and bathing.
PEASANT: But kind sir, the lyre is my only earthly possession.
SP: Hmmm, well, sell it to me anyway for a farthing and get yourself some food, bathing and gainful employment. I will allow you to retain ownership rights to the instrument but will keep it in my care until such time that you can re-pay me and regain possession of it.
PEASANT: So you take my property until I pay you back your farthing and then return my property to me?
SP: TWO farthings.
PEASANT: How am I to earn two farthings?!?
SP: I shall rent you use of the lyre and you will travel about the land, playing it at street fairs and festivals. I shall retain a portion of the proceeds, as well as additional fees for booking, marketing, merchandising and future works, such as recordings when they are invented. PEASANT: Okay, THAT sounds like an implicitly fair arrangement. Deal!

Yes, he also invented the recording industry at the same time.
Anywho, young Kiefer came to view the layaway concept as a genteel rip-off of the Pawn business model, and as such, a direct threat to his empire. What he did in response was horrible, but not too much for The Unbelievables to handle, as Michael will explain on Friday!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Strange Case Of The Layaway Plan

One of the great things about America is the sheer variety of crap one can buy from its retailers. Forget about all the good stuff - delve just a fraction below the surface of normalcy and you'll find all manner of junk just waiting to be purchased by you, the average citizen. And it's not hard to find either - if Walmart or Target don't have it, then CVS or Walgreen's will. We all have those hard-to-buy-for relatives and acquaintances. We've all done the Secret Santa thing. These are two examples of things you don't want to spend a lot of time or money on. So at this time of year (the holiday season, that is - the most wonderful time of the year) nothing comes in handier in these less-than-prosperous times than layaway. You know, layaway - you select a whole cart full of rubbish, take it to the little jolly elf at the back of the store behind the dingy desk, they add it up, you pay a fraction of the cost upfront and they'll hold all that dross for you till about a week before Christmas when you are expected to come in and actually settle your bill and take it off their soiled hands. Time was, a lot of big stores used to do it. Now, it's only KMart. And KMart is the tip-tops when it comes to absolute trash disguised as products. Take a look at this selection below. First there's the pseudo exercise products...

Then there's the handy-dandy kitchen gadgets....

I have no idea.

'Tool' is right.
Then you have the leisure products...

Um, FYI, Schmendrick, you already see in HD.

I actually quite like this one.
The techie crap...

And the just plain inexplicable.

And the beauty part? You could get all of these things and more and put them on layaway. Not just in KMart, but everywhere. But not any more. No no no. And this troubled us Unbelievables to no end. We had noticed the diminishing numbers of stores where layaway was available, so when in 2008 or so Wal-Mart finally said adios to the layaway plan, we knew something serious was afoot. It all came to a head when we received an anonymous letter with the photo below attached with a cheap staple. 

The letter simply read, "This is the guy you seek. His name is Kiefer Reef. He killed layaway and hid the body....." which we thought was totally, like, weird, but we investigated the tip straight away. What we found was shocking. I'm sure Michael and Clark will be more than happy to fill you in on the deets later in the week. Till then... ciao, dudes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Denouement of the Double D Dilemma

For the life of us, we couldn't figure out what was going on with Michael. What had its insidious hooks in him and who was behind it? Through much hard work, keen detective-ing and a veritable pile of thoroughly kicked asses, we were able (as always) to get to the bottom of it. Turns out it was this guy:
Mac Ramey, would-be international fashion criminal.
Ramey was using the Double D's and the allure of their hot pants to implement his grand plan to destroy not only the world of fashion but the entire garment industry by having people make their own clothes of yarn and rope and string. As the designer of these "fashions" as well as the single largest shareholder in this company...
...he stood to become a very powerful and wealthy man. With Michael incapacitated, Jeff and I turned to Ulf, the Unbelievadog to help take Ramey down before he could fully carry out his fiendish plot.

Good boy, Ulf. Good boy.

Good thing too, because if not, you all would have been walking around in stuff like this:

As for Michael, we never did find out what actually took such firm control of his mind but thanks to years of ongoing therapy, we have our partner back. Unfortunately, he is still prone to relapse. So if you ever see him out and about wearing these...

Um, there's no wallet in that pocket...
...please call us immediately.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Double "D" for Devilishly Devious

Ah yes, the Double 'D' Dames. Well do I remember that party. 

We were immaculately attired as always.
What we did not know at the time about Demi, Dorna and Dani was that they were just three of a very large group of delightful-looking siblings.

Demi, Dorna and Dani on the left, Dixie, Denise and Davina on the right. In the middle is Mom - Darlene. Here they are pictured at the family bar (read: front for a criminal hideout), Darlene's Sip-n-Dip Tavern, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, And yes - the hot pants are important.
What Michael failed to notice while he was under Dani DLish's foxy-mama spell was the hotpants. I mean, of course he'd seen the hotpants. How could he not? But what he hadn't noticed, and what Clark and myself had noticed, was that they always wore hotpants. And Michael, naturally, was not complaining, because, well, he liked (still likes) hotpants. Who doesn't?

But this fact raised a small flicker of suspicion in Clark's mind as well as mine. What if the hotpants were just a diversion? What was that strange fabric they were made from? And of course, the more involved with her Michael became, the more we were attuned to the fact that this was unusual behavior for Michael. It was not like him - he was more of a love 'em and leave 'em wanting more kinda guy. James Bond had nothing on Michael's record. It was not unheard of for Michael to take two Unbelieva-hotties out for dinner, then to the disco, back to the hotel, drop them off at home, then meet two more for breakfast at the Huddle House and bring them back to his room at the base. So for him to stick with one gal for any length of time was in effect a sea change.

But despite our suspicions we stuck by Michael and trusted him. We knew if there was anything funny going on with the hotpants or the boots or anything at all related to those Double "D" Dames that was not kosher, it would eventually become obvious. So we carried on as normal, until the fateful day when it all went horribly wrong, and we were very nearly exposed and taken down. 

I'll let Clark do the honours in unravelling this case. Till then... ciao.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Demise Of The Unbelievables

Time line: August in the 1970s.

Just prior to the Unbelieva-Base being completed, Clark, Jeff and I decided it would be a great idea to  throw a welcoming open house party at our headquarters.

Think about it: What other crime fighters would go out of their way to toss a major bash at their very own headquarters?

Better: What other crime fighters would toss a bash with fellow colleagues invited but our foes being given access as well?

That's right. It was something unprecedented in the annals of crime fighting.

You know the old saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer? That was always in the back of our minds.

Not to let our adoring public be left out in the cold, we made the event even more special and exclusive by holding a drawing where 150 Regular Joes could attend ... if they were lucky enough to draw a winning ticket.

Needless to say, it was a hot time at the Unbelieva-Base in grand old Stiletto Flats, Nevada.

Little did we know, however, there was an unsavory element that would raise its slumbering head and become a major player in our list of foes. At the time, we had no idea the lovely ladies ("Hello, Ladies!") who would come to be known as The Double "D" Dames would shortly reveal themselves to be some of our most nefarious adversaries.

It was their wily ways, their subtle charms, their curvaceous curves and their convincing small talk that would ultimately win us over.

(l to r) Demi, Dorna and Dani - The Double "D" Dames

Demi (later known as Dx), Dorna (D3) and DLish (Dani) were winners allowed access to our open house party. At first, they were nothing but giddy at being a part of the festivities. And we befriended them openly at the time. We knew they had their eyes on us from the start, but we would find out later it was all a ruse, a social scam to gain access to our crime-fighting prowess, our groovy fashion superiority and the adoration of our fans and friends everywhere.

It might have been our charms that attracted them originally, but it was their greed and jealousy that would ultimately become their downfall into Ne'er-Do-WellDom.

I'll admit: I was taken by Dani (who I would later rename "DLish" for reasons I'm certain you can surmise simply by taking a look at her in the photo above) from the simple fact of her pleasant demeanor and outwardly enthusiastic playfulness. She didn't mind when I went pantsless (most days), she was a terrific cook and I never saw here without pep in her step and an ultra-bright smile.

Of course, it was the metaphorical door I opened that set the wheels in motion where these three were concerned. Blinded by the Dani's bright light, I let my guard down and, unknowingly, let a developing criminal element into our midst.

Luckily, Jeff and Clark were not as taken as I was with them ... and especially with Dani. They'll fill you in on the web of intrigue that came about ... 

... and what almost became the demise of  ... The Unbelievables ...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Beware The Double "D" Dames

"I'm sure Michael will let you know about some of our lesser-known evil-doers," Jeff said in Wednesday's post.

Fat chance of that.

Here ... let me show you why:

"Oh, Jeff! Those are some delectable-looking whipped potatoes you have there! I completely forgot it was Tuesday!"

"I really like a man who poses next to his vintage Corvette! You're sassy and confident in equal measure, Clark!"

"Wow, Michael - I didn't know an ascot could be so attractive!

Do those exclamations sound like the machinations of lesser-known evil doers? Heck no! They're some of the most insidious commonalities we Unbelievables must shoulder day in and day out ... and gladly.

And you'd think, by the innocence of it all, there wouldn't be any underlying or ulterior motives. But let's be realistic: There are always underlying and ulterior motives when you're making small talk ... and especially small talk that comes off as throwaway. It's the most dangerous kind of small talk around.

That being said, there is no one group of Chatty Cathys more dangerous than Dx, D3 and DLish, Better Known as the Double "D" Dames. Their devious, daring and double-talking ways have often perplexed The Unbelievables at every turn, opening doors to chaos and monkey business with every turn of a phrase.

Want proof?

"Jeff! I just love you!" Dx was caught saying to him at a chance encounter once. "You're so handsome! Much more handsome than Clark or Michael! You've always been my favorite!" 

"Clark! I just adore you!" exclaimed D3 to him during a gathering of the Annual "Spies and Good Guys" convention last year. "You're so handsome! Much more handsome than Michael or Jeff! You've always been my favorite!" 

"Michael! What wavy locks you have!" DLish was heard to say over a PA system while we were at a parade in our honor some time ago in Durham, North Carolina. "You're so handsome! By far you are my favorite Unbelievable! Jeff and Clark don't come close to having what you've got!" 

(You can see by far DLish is the one with the real chutzpah, as proof of her stating the above in clear earshot of Jeff and Clark.) 

Now ... put all this personal attention together and you can see how these web-weaving foxy mamas could inject devious shenanigans into their sugar-coated praises.

Of all the villains out there, all the wily, underhanded ne'er-do-wells wandering about near and far, these three just might be our greatest foes.

Jeff and Clark have documented and categorized more than a few of our lesser foes this week (seriously ... how can you not like
Accordion Toting Dude ... ?!?), but the Double "D" Dames are more than a handful, not to be trifled with. 

Tune in next week to find out why ...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

They Can't All Be Super-Villains

Naturally there are villains, fiends, crooks and ne'er-do-wells that aren't exactly what you'd call master criminals, or indeed master anything. If anything they are flies in the ointment. Lint on the shoulder of your double-knit sweater. Here are a few that we have encountered during our dazzlingly illustrious career as crime fighters...

The accordion-toting dude above is known simply as Accordion Toting Dude. His crime? Playing the accordion when it's not wanted, which is most of the time. Not that we are particularly down on accordions per se. But you know when you're watching a movie or TV show and something dramatic or suspenseful happens and there's a musical stab or sting to increase the tension of the dramatic moment? Well, this guy would listen in on people's conversations, sneaking up on them all quiet like, and then produce a dramatic and tense accordion sting when the moment arose. Except the trouble was that (a) an accordion's dramatic sting is not quite the same as a full orchestra doing it, by any stretch of the imagination, and (b) it was incredibly irritating. We got wind of this, quickly grabbed the offender and shipped him off to Ballard, WA where that kind of behaviour is not only acceptable, but encouraged (just like eating lutefisk).

Karen Steinberg was a Noo Yawk Jewish American Princess who desperately wanted to be a Sindy doll, going so far as to have plastic (ha!) surgery in order to look more like her favourite toy. She even changed her name by deed poll to Sindy Dolly Steinberg, and affected a stiff-legged walk and glazed expression (although that was due to lots of Botox). So what did she do wrong? Well, holding up most of the major department stores in New York City and using the ill-gotten gains to pay for her cosmetic enhancements. She's now doing hard time in Sing Sing, and is due for parole any time soon, but when?

You might recognise the above as Valentine Warner, TV chef. And you'd be partially right. The guy on the left is Valentine, but on the right is his evil twin, Pan-fried Percival Poncey Warner. He's responsible for some seriously terrible tweets against his brother, some fake personal appearances as Valentine, and generally acting the goat. So we put him somewhere where he can prove his usefulness - he's now a top chef at a Carl's Jr. in San Jose, CA.

Other people are even more trivially annoying.

These two guys have bad suits and their computer doesn't even run Windows! We put them to work at a shake shop.

A bunch of aggravating cosplay numpties. Get a life, and maybe a girlfriend, dudes.

Joachim van Sturgen has a nasty habit of badly impersonating famous soccer players like Mata at important matches and getting thrown out of the stadium. We put him to work at a Verizon store.

This innocent little chap is a crook if ever I saw one. He stole my bucket and spade at Camber Sands when I was just an anklebiter. Then mum took us home and I never saw this guy again. But what a creepy bonnet!

Well, that's just a few of our small-time nemeses. Anyway, I'm sure Michael will let you know about some of our lesser-known evil-doers. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

No end to the fiendish villains we face

Q: What's more evil genius-y than people with enormous heads (like Simon Bar Sinister or Megamind)?
Q2: What's creepier than twin girls (like in The Shining)?
A: The combination of both of those horrible things.
Ladies and gentlemen, behold Fiona and Fetlana, The Fivehead Twins (not to be confused with the Klumpmasterflash Twins).
Proof that they're creepy? They're 35-years-old in this picture.
Starved for attention ever since their starstruck mother (also a villain in her own rite, the henious Stagemom whose catchphrase, "Who wants to be the next Dana Plato?", instills terror in all those who hear it) failed to get them steady work as child actresses, the Fivehead Twins concentrated on training their enormous brains to emit mind control over others. They succeeded in developing a technique that would actually display subliminal messages on their foreheads like an image on a movie screen at a drive-in movie theatre, albeit slightly smaller. Over the years, the messages they've attempted to inflict upon the general population include, "DEAD ROCK STARS CAN'T BE WRONG; HEROIN IS GOOD!", "SAVE TIME; TEXT AND DRIVE!" and "CALL (904) 633-2000 FOR JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS SEASON TICKETS". We've battled them for years, always coming out victorious, always by simply making them wear hats. We've gone so far as lining them up with legit advertising jobs (Fiona was named employee of the month once by Anheuser Busch) but they always seem to stray from the path of good back to their evil ways.
Of course, there are many more minor-league menaces out there. The guys will share some experiences with them later this week.

Friday, November 8, 2013

He's Just The Mail Boy

Really, Michael? He's just the mail boy? Oh no, my friend. He's soooo much more than that. When you think of whom we might have ended up with as mail boy, he's a shining example of a model employee. 

I mean, look at some of the people whose resumes have ended up on our desk over the years, begging for a chance to work alongside their favourite international crime fighters...

Who do you think you are, bud? 

Sure, these fellas sure know their sticky notes. But seriously, would you trust them with anything more than that?

Um... no.

Sharp threads, but... no.

Kip is nothing short of a blimmin' miracle worker, the way he expertly handles our not inconsiderable incoming mail day in and day out...

Kip's average daily workload.
Some of the items of mail he's had to deal with would make your head spin. 

Some of the above happened to contain makeshift explosive devices. Oh yes, there are plenty of evil-doers out there who'd be glad to see the Unbelievables blasted into smithereens. But Kip heads them all off at the pass, frequently risking a permanent maiming in order to protect your protectors, world. You could say he's doing the planet a giant favour just by sorting our mail. He's a certified bomb expert, having trained with the incendiary division of the Eagle Scouts when only a lad. So he can spot a poorly disguised bomb a mile off. 

Clark (who is just angry at Kip for knowing more about something than him) suspects that Kip makes these bombs himself and mails them to the base so that he can then 'find' and 'defuse' them in order to make himself look good and appear invaluable. but, seriously, what kind of nutballs does he think Michael and myself are to employ someone so unhinged?! The very thought.

Kip also managed to uncover something that we had long suspected. You know when get a package delivered that has gotten somehow 'damaged' in transit, and there's a little apology note from the Postal Service with it that states at the top "WE CARE"? Turns out that this was not the first draft. Kip discovered one of the too-honest originals that must have been attached to a package by mistake. Here it is...

Kip, we tip our hats to you. You keep us safe from postal harm.