Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Great Scumbolini™

I've been using the moniker "Scumbolini" for one reason or another for over fifteen years. Today it occurred to me I should Google the word "Scumbolini" just to see where it may have popped up over the last few years.

It hasn't. Let me clarify that. No one besides myself in recent Google-able history has used the name/term/word "Scumbolini" for anything, anywhere. It is unique to me. Therefore I hereby copyright it for now and forever. It is mine. Don't touch it.

Some have suggested that it is a perversion of "Thumbalina" since there is something of an obsession about her at BOT House. Nothing could be further from the truth. Scumbolini predates Thumbalina (well, our Thumbalina, at least) by many years.

And here's the story for posterity.

I never considered myself a huckster or snake oil salesman or wheeler-dealer, but in the early 90s I was looking for a way to make an extra buck or two.

I heard of a salvor (a person who salvages things) who stumbled on to a literal truckload of used, functional Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) from - of all places - CompuServe, a company long ago swallowed up by AOL. He had the product, I had the market (long story), the means to advertise to that market, and - most importantly - a way to deliver that product to the market. He wanted $50 each and I knew the market would consider $75 a sweat deal (a brand new UPS in those days was about $350).

Cut to the chase, this guy was a complete doofus. I had the market all charged up and ready to buy. I was even taking orders. He left the truck out one night and all the UPSes froze, popping the batteries, and ruining the lot.

A total loss, and a major embarrassment to me because I couldn't deliver the product. And of course he got stuck with a truckload of JUNK. A potentially great deal gone sour.

So anyway, this guy's name was "Tony Scambalone".

When I first saw his name on his business card I thought it was pronounced "SCAM baloney". That in itself nicely summed up the UPS deal.

However, he pronounced his name "SCUM -ba-loan".

I took his pronunciation and my own and came up with "SCUM baloney". From there it was a short hop to "Scumbolini".

Somewhat disrespectful, but the deal went so badly I didn't suffer any guilt over it. Still don't.
I never saw him again but I appropriated his mutated name for my own purposes over the years.

For all I know Tony is in that Big Salvage Yard in the Sky now.

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