Once upon a time two humorous senior citizens, Stanley and Sherry, were too lazy to record their fabulous philosophical world-shaking conversations – or to make their laugh-out-loud video, or that over-stimulating radio tape. They were their own Tex and Jinx but without ambition. But one day they hit on the perfect scheme. They figured that with a little stimulation, they could get the FBI to record all their conversations for free. And this is how they broke out of the FBI underground into national television.
You've seen one burka, you've seen them all!
Stanley and Sherry deliberately send each other a suite of emails spiced with subversive terrorist fascist armament words repeated frequently. Before they could say: “Ready! Aim! Fire!” the FBI instantaneously sets up surveillance headquarters at the bottom of the hill where Sherry lives. They put up a little trailer/office by the marsh in back of McDonalds off Highway 101 in Marin County, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. They don't seem to know that this is a favorite camping place for displaced Americans who live in their cars and whom the local police tolerate up to a point. It is only a matter of time before an SUV-driving Marinite complains and the FBI themselves will be spooked out.
From their vantage point they are able to tune into conversations from Sherry's house, tap her computer and phone lines, and observe exits and entrances. They follow her around Marin on errands, etc. Meanwhile, Sherry and Stanley are thrilled that they are being recorded and archived. It's a whole multimedia production company for free, at least until Bushwack rescinds the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act.)
The other day, as she always does, Sherry leaves home when the Brazilian house cleaners arrive. They don't speak English, so Wayne and Bill, the FBI agents assigned to the case, hearing the foreign language, call in a Spanish translator. The agents were very aroused by what they are hearing and believe a huge shipment of explosives from Brazil via the Panama Canal will be off loaded near the Golden Gate Bridge. But after the Spanish translator arrives, she has to call in a Portuguese translator. Only then do Wayne and Bill find out that Murphy's Oil Soap and Bon Ami Cleaner are not code words for chemical weapons. (Although there's a thought – to dissolve the chemical warfare agents in bottles of Murphy's.)
To wait out the three hours while the Brazilians tidy the house, Sherry goes to Fort Baker which is just under the Golden Gate Bridge. The agents’ huge Black Suburban has followed her and parks about sixty yards from where she is sunning herself on the rocks. The agents seem to be spying with an 18th century nautical spyglass, but this could be her imagination running away with her. She is doing the crossword puzzle and reading the paper. On the way home, Sherry stops in MacDonald’s at the bottom of the hill. By the time Wayne and Bill enter, Sherry has already been served and suddenly there’s a long line. The agents wait and wait and wait. They get impatient and go to the front of the line and flash their FBI badges. But no one who works here speaks English, or cares about these big rude men, and the agents are sent to the back of the line.
Sherry leaves and goes home. The house cleaners are gone; every room is immaculate; but she notices a tiny pile of sawdust near the computer. She feels around and drilled into the baseboard behind a low piece of furniture she finds a listening bug. "This is too good to be true," she thinks. Now they can feed the boys in the trailer anything they can think up. She immediately telephones Stanley on the tapped land line and tells him the whole project is moving along successfully. He wants to come over and have a long conversation that will be recorded but she has to go to the Supermarket. Sherry hangs up but before she leaves, she shouts out: “Hi Boys. I’m going to buy SWEET POTATOES.” That’s code for burka.
About three weeks later, Stanley receives a call at his house from Nightline (and another from an MTV station he had never heard of) to come for an interview. Was he willing? "Sure," says Stanley. "What are we going to talk about?" The producer says: "What you've been doing lately." Stanley is surprised. Why would they want to talk about Chernovograd?" he asks. "What's Chernovograd?" they reply. "Is that the site of the next terrorist attack?" And they laugh out loud. But Chernovograd is simply the village in the Ukraine where Stanley, after two years of research, has located the marriage certificate for his paternal great parents.
Completely confused, Stanley hangs up thinking this is a crank call. But the producers call back with this explanation. Apparently the FBI agents were addicted to the frequent conversations of Sherry and Stanley. They had stopped watching TV and DVDs and just waited for the next installment. Meanwhile, in their spare time, they had sent tapes of the calls to their friends in other stake outs and these guys (and women) had sent them to their friends and so on, until the material – obviously never copyrighted – had finally appeared on the air and on You Tube and Sherry and Stanley were on their way to stardom, thanks to old Uncle Sam and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.