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Oct 23, 2023

Quibbles and Bits: Bedbugs in Paris, Hacking in Vegas

Today’s two-fer—at no extra charge!

By Ed Goldman

SIX-LEGGED BEDFELLOWS—While the phrase “bedbugs in Paris” doesn’t have quite the panache as “Jefferson in Paris” or even “Quigley Down Under” it certainly evokes some wholesale imagery. 

“Jefferson in Paris” starred Nick Nolte as the only Jefferson our country embraced before George and his wife “Weezie” in “The Jeffersons,” a spinoff of “All In The Family.” It focused on a Black couple who “finally got a piece of the pie,” according to the show’s peppy theme song. 

Edgy Cartoon

Stragglers on a train

Meanwhile, “Quigley Down Under” was a very satisfying western starring Tom Selleck and his yet-to-be-Shinola’ed mustache as a sharpshooter in Australia.

“Bedbugs in Paris” is not, alas, an animated romp from the talented gang at Pixar. Instead, it’s an urban plague in the fabled City of Lights that includes the little bastards riding on the Metro, right alongside French commuters and tourists who initially claimed they wanted to discover the “real” Paree—but shortly thereafter bribed their hotel’s concierge to find them a driver armed with a mallet and industrial-size containers of Raid laced with Agent Orange, all the while struggling how to say “cost is no object” in a new language. (For future reference, it’s le coût n’est pas un problème.” Never say this to a French waiter.) 

“Just 10 months before the opening of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, the French capital is battling an invasion of bedbugs,” reports CBS News. “The tiny pests were first reported in hotels and vacation rental apartments across the city during the summer. Then there were sightings in movie theaters and, in recent days, there have even been reports of bedbugs crawling around on seats in both national high-speed trains and the Paris Metro system.

“One metro train driver was dismayed to find some of the unwelcome guests in his driver’s cabin,” according to the report.

Typical Frenchman attitude: When it comes to the customers, “laissez-faire.” When it comes to his own comfort, “taint fair!”

HACK ME NO QUESTIONS—Someone managed to hack into the MGM casino recently, thoroughly disrupting the gambling Mecca’s own routine of robbing its customers.

According to various accounts, the hacker(s) demanded a hefty ransom to not interfere with MGM’s long-established fraud operation, also called gaming or entertainment, but MGM boldly refused to pay, incurring about $100 million in costs. That courageous move could amount to “as much as two days’ worth of revenues,” says this column’s gambling advisor, Sven Kamahl Evan, whose ancestry is Swedish, Hindi and Irish. “My friends call me the U.N.,” Sven quips.

Sven says he used to be a compulsive gambler but now considers himself a “merely psychotic oddsmaker. The difference is that I have no skin in the game.”

“Does that mean you never bet anymore?” I asked him.

“Of course not,” he gently ripostes. “I just don’t use my skin as chips anymore.”

Fearing the details might nauseate me, I ask Sven to elaborate on the “wonderful world of wagering,” which he says will also be the name of his instructional video on how to do a play bow for “the house” to confuse the croupiers, dealers and cocktail servers—provided he can win enough money playing pinochle with retired circus monkeys to hire a film crew, writer, director, makeup person and Best Boy. 

“I’ve never known what a Best Boy does but as a bi-curious individual in transition to whatever gender offers discounts this week I’m sure I’d need him to be on-set.”

When I explain to him that a “best boy” is merely a lighting technician or “grip”,” Sven‘s shoulders slump noticeably. “One can dream,” he says wistfully before his voice trails off and is replaced by heart-wrenching sobs. I want to reassure him but remember just before I pat his shoulder that our chat is taking place on Zoom. 

“Consider yourself cyber-comforted,” I say.

“I worship you,” he says, extending a single finger to indicate his monotheism. Or so I gather.

I ask Sven if MGM should have paid the ransom. “I wish it had,” he answers. “I can sure use the dough.”

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).