Monday, March 28, 2005

Spam A Lot 

Not the broadway show, though after sterling reports from periodicals as widespread as the New Yorker and Newsweek, I've never wanted to attend a Broadway show more than this. And certainly not the Hawai'ian delicacy, though as a lover of all things popcult kitsch, I certainly approve of the idea of the potted meat sensation.

No, in this case, I'm actually talking about spam the junk email.

And I ain't complaining, neither.

Like most of us, even with the spamfilter on I get a few odd and oft-inappropriate missives a day. But since I'm no techhead, but rather a semiotic popcult watcher of unparalleled oddness, I actually read the stuff. And that bit of it which sneaks through even the best spamfilter tickles my sense of the wonder of randomalia.

Months ago Infocult featured a quick paean to the randomly generated, oddly poetic wordlists so often found at the base of spam-missives. Since then, I note, I am more likely to find obscure fortune-cookie-esque pseudoquotes in the missives, from "How can what an Englishman believes be hearsay? It is a contradiction in terms" to "He is not great who is not greatly good."

Or, perhaps even better, here's the entirety of a message recieved this afternoon:
Special offer!
To wear one's heart on one's sleeve; a wolf in a sheep's clothing; to fly into a temper; to stick to one's word; bosom friend; small talk; to cast pearls before swine; to beat about the bush; to add fuel to the fire; to fall ill; to fall in love; to sail under false colours; to be at sea.

All these words, with -proof for the second component, stand be-tween compounds and derived words in their characteristics. On the one hand, the second component seems to bear all the features of a stem and preserves certain semantic associations with the free form proof. On the other hand, the meaning of -proof in all the numerous words built on this pattern has become so generalised that it is cer-tainly approaching that of a suffix. The high productivity of the pat-tern is proved, once more, by the possibility of coining nonce-words after this pattern: look-proof and Knidproof, the second produced from the non-existent stem Knid.

That alone would be pretty nifty. To garble an oft-quoted truism, if a thousand computers sent mail to a thousand monkeys for a thousand days, it would seem the product would rival the best that the Dadaists had to offer.

In my case, though, what blows my mind about my daily spam allotment is the fakenames which appear to have sent 'em. Especially since, with just 17 days to the birth of our second child, we've got names on the brain.

Why, just today I recieved an exhortation to peruse "Shy Jenny McCarthy hacekd pothos" nominally from Livestock P. Peoria, and an invite to ogle an "Ineconnt Dirtbag Teen" from Disobediently V. Trout. Yesterday it was Commemorative R. Cowing and Slued C. Staphylococcus with deliberately misspelled opportunities even I wouldn't copy and paste; last week I was propositioned by the likes of Infanticide A. Hunching, Leavenworth R. Propitiatory, Privatizes J. Intuitions, and Azimuth H. Landmasses.

We all know not to hit the links in unsolicited email, of course. But the spam itself contains so many layers of hilarity; how could any true fan of the popcultural not love this stuff?

Today's "Irony Alert" Bonus: Several weeks ago, in an odd condensation of the usually discrete meanings of the term spam -- a term notably voted by a British translation company in June 2004 as one of the ten English words that are hardest to translate -- the list of e-mail addresses subscribed to the lists for the Broadway show 'Spamalot' was nabbed by spammers, resulting in the slashdot discussion thread headline 'Spamalot' Subscribers to Get Spam ... a Lot.

posted by boyhowdy | 8:14 PM |

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