Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Become A Pirate

All you need to become a pirate is to learn to say “Arrr-bi-trahz” with your head cocked to one side, your left eye squinted and a perfect leer plastered all over your face. Just don’t look at yourself in the mirror when you do it. They tend to crack.

Actually there is a fine line between true dastardly pirate-ness and legitimate arbitrage. Sometimes it’s only the line between being in jail or out of jail. But not everyone bothers to know the difference.

The main element required for a successful arbitrage is information. For better or worse, provides a piece of that very information.

You can go to the website and type in an ISBN number. Within 24 hours you know exactly what price The Textbook Game will offer to buy back your book.

Next you, the astute student, go online and find an amazing steal of a deal. Quickly doing the math, you realize that you will still make money if you overnight the book to yourself. Finally you bring it to The Textbook Game to resell for a higher price.

But that’s a lot of work. It’s even easier if you already have the textbook sitting in your dorm or off-campus location and can just pick it up and carry it over and sell it. You can even go online and see who will get you the better deal? The University Bookstore, or The Textbook Game? Want to know who wins every time? Why don’t you find out!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Arbitrage. Now that’s a fancy word! I like to say it slowly and roll it around in my mouth. If you say it with a nice grating sound, it even makes you sound like a pirate.


It even means something sort of piraty. Find goods sold at a low price in one area, buy them and transport them to a high price area for re-sale in order to reap the profits. Theoretically this only goes on for a short time before everyone figures it out and starts doing the same thing. Then the low prices go up because demand is higher and the high prices come down because the supply is higher. And then you have that fancy economic term called “equilibrium.”

But before the equilibrium comes the “arr-bi-trahz.” (That’s so much fun to say!)

It’s a word Gonga loves saying. But he probably has no idea what it means. He’s still working on picking up the day-to-day lingo required to represent The Textbook Game on the street. He doesn’t need to know fancy terms like arbitrage. (Yes, I am working very hard to develop his character while I wear his suit.)

Yet Gonga has been a first-hand witness to attempts at arbitrage, even though he may not have recognized it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Mission

Oh I hate the mission. It is the most horribly challenging difficult thing I have ever tried to do in my life. The shin-kickers only make it worse.

I’ll try to stop whining. However, you must know that self-control is one of those things I have always struggled with. And the mission requires inordinate amounts of self control. Not just once a year during some grand event, but every single day.

And today was no exception. I was walking past Speaker’s Circle the other day and was challenged by a green man. I wanted to pummel him so bad. It would have made a great scene! But “Gonga” wouldn’t do something like that. And the mission light started flashing inside my head.

“Remember, remember, remember.”

Sometimes it’s hard to make friends with the random green men in Speaker’s Circle. But the mission makes it worth it.

What is the mission? Well, like I said earlier...

My purpose is to protect people from the face-smashers.

All people.



Even the ones who come up and kick me in the shins for laughs.

I put that in italics and centered one night when I was feeling very poetic. Doesn’t it look like a poem now! Sometimes I’m brilliant at 2 AM.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Shin-Kicker

I suppose everyone has them. Those random people who walk into your life, kick you in the shins and calmly walk out again. My problem was that my shin-kickers didn’t always walk back out

I was in my Gonga suit during finals week of last semester, standing on Lowry Mall just opposite Memorial Union on the MU campus. It was cold, so for once I wasn’t sweating that much, which was nice. It was ten minutes before the hour, which meant that exams were just letting out and crowds of students were streaming past.

I passed out flyers as fast as my numb hands would allow, muttering something like, “Sell your books back to The Textbook Game.” It was a half mumble, half gorilla howl which I had been perfecting over the last weeks as I developed Gonga’s character.

A college kid with dark curly hair and glasses paused in front of me as I fumbled to pull the next flyer off the stack. His white teeth flashed as he suddenly swung his foot back and aimed a kick straight at my shins. I jumped backward, but not soon enough. His white and black track shoes connected sharply with my shins.

“Hey!” I shouted, forgetting about the gorilla voice.

The boy had already turned and plunged back into the crowd, laughing hysterically.
I teetered on the edge of charging after him, grabbing him by the back of the neck and putting him into a full nelson until he explained why in the world he decided to kick me. That’s when self control snapped in.

“He’s not the enemy,” a little voice soothed me. “He probably thought your gorilla suit would pad your shins more than that.”

“Hold it right there!” the voice in my head shouted. I had taken a running step after the kid. “Cut it out and simmer down!”

I listened now, fists clenched at my sides, the flyers forgotten. “Remember the mission.” I told myself. “Remember the mission.”