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Personalities of the Recession: Your Guides to the Crisis

Inspired by AIG? Humored by unemployment? As humbling as the economic crisis has been, some creative characters have managed to find inspiration amid the wreckage of the economy and their personal lives.

Here are four personalities of the recession and their colorful, sometimes hilarious, interpretations of the crisis:

Scott Moore

THE RECESSIONIST PAINTER

AIG is a pig!

No, really, I’m not making a political statement. In Scott Moore’s painting of the crisis and its key players, AIG is represented by a vintage piggy bank.

Moore, a California painter, does a lot of vintage postcard-style paintings, so a piggy bank was a natural fit to represent AIG and other financial institutions. In addition to piggy banks, he also used vintage cars and globes to represent various companies, from Bank of America, Citigroup and AIG to General Motors and Chrysler.

The painting is the size of a large area rug, representing the enormity of the crisis. All of the company-labeled objected are floating in the sky — a fitting style for how surreal this crisis sometimes seems. The setting is grounded in rolling chessboard hills, representing “the financial ‘game’ that seems impossible to play,” Moore wrote in documenting the genesis of the painting on his Web site.

The central figure is a dapper man trying to reel in a giant piggy-bank kite with AIG on the side. Yeah, I think we can all relate to trying to hold on as our personal finances seem to float away!

Check out Moore’s blog about how he created the painting at www.scottmooreart.com.

THE WALL STREET POET

Portfolio, portfolio. Wherefore art thou portfolio?

After a 30-year career in financial journalism, Michael Silverstein turned his penchant for plucky prose on the market and soon, like Clark Kent to Superman, he became “The Wall Street Poet.”

His poems are amusing but informative, a rhyming lesson in market madness, done in varying styles from Walt Whitman to William Shakespeare. They include: “The Last One Out the Door,”“The Battle Hymn of the Stock Trader”and "Cash, Cash, Wonderful Cash.”

In one eerily poignant post, he warned:

This market's gonna crash quite soon,
Though I'm not sure just why.
It might be war, or debt, or oil.
The tipper? Take your pick.
I can't predict exactly, but ...
I'm saying: "Get out quick.''

On cash, he wrote:

Stock markets may tumble, bond issues default
Home prices are quirky, they can somersault
Gold’s upward eruptions, they come and they go
Derivative products, you just never know
Cash, cash, wonderful cash
You can flash it or stash it, there’s no pain with cash.

To read more of Silverstein’s financial prose, visit www.WallStreetPoet.com.

THE STAND-UP ECONOMIST

A priest, a rabbi and a Fed president walk into a bar.

Have you heard this one?

Yoram Bauman has a PhD in economics and teaches at the University of Washington, but much to his father’s chagrin, he’s chosen to apply his high-priced education to stand-up comedy, billing himself as, “The world’s first and only stand-up economist.”

He explains how the conversation went down:

“You can’t be a stand-up economist, there’s no demand!” his father told him.

“Don’t worry, Dad,” Bauman replied, “I’m a supply-side economist.”

“I just stand up and let the jokes trickle down!” he quips.

He does live shows across the country but also posts videos to YouTube, including one titled, “Mankiw’s Ten Principles of Economics, Translated,” which has been viewed over half a million times.

In a bit he performed last month, he admits that no one can really explain the financial crisis but perhaps a string of metaphors will help: “When the music stops, everybody’s looking for a chair … but Rome wasn’t built in a day … and we don’t even make chairs in America anymore! … In any case, it’s too late to close the barn door after the black swan has already left … What I’m trying to say is that it’s fourth and inches but it’s hard to push the ball across the goal line when there’s a perfect storm in the red zone. So, you do the math.”

Hey, in this economy, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry!

Read more at www.standupeconomist.com.

GIRL ON THE BRINK

What’s a girl have to do to get a job around here?

Facing unemployment is emotionally grueling, as Ann Powers, a divorced mom in D.C., found when she lost her job as a marketing director of a nonprofit organization.

She now blogs as “Girl on the Brink,” leaving no stone unturned — from Buddhism to the homeless — to help get her through, leaving a trail of hilarity in her wake.

Her deeply personal posts explore romance, family relationships, bargains and random musings — the gritty side of unemployment that often gets lost in a pile of sterile statistics.

“The blog fuels my ego,” Powers told the Newark Star-Ledger in a recent interview. “It gives me a sense of worth again.”

Like Bauman, she’s also taking a stab at stand-up comedy. Having lost both her job and her lover within a few months, she had a bright idea: “If employers can have job fairs, then why can’t I have a date fair?” So, she contacted all of the men interested in her from dating site Match.com and invited them to a recent stand-up gig.

Hmmm. I can’t imagine anything going wrong with that.

To find out how it all turns out, visit www.girlonthebrink.com.

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Questions? Comments? Write to ponyblog@cnbc.com.

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