Tom Scoville, the guy who wrote the wonderful Silicon Follies serial for us back in the day, and who once created the Silicon Valley Tarot deck, is back with another appealingly oddball project: The Metrosexual Tarot.
As part of a recent cycle in the arms race between spam senders and spam filters, the spammers have begun raiding the English dictionary for random obscure words to seed their subject lines, helping evade intelligent filters like SpamAssassin. Thus I am seeing some of their messages. And I have to say, though I am no happier at receiving their e-mail than anyone else, and have less than zero interest in the herbal viagra and penis patches they are peddling, the random verbiage in their subject lines sometimes catches my fancy.
Perhaps spam is, as my colleague Sumana Harihareswara has proposed and chronicled, a kind of folk art. Consider some of the recent examples I’ve culled. These are juxtapositions of words that might inspire a new generation of band names, or spark a screenwriter’s imagination. Herewith, the subject lines, and my attempt at interpretation:
— A TV engineer daydreams of romance
— Paper money is always at risk
— No baptism please, we’re Jewish
— Headrests in need of some thoughtful rearrangement
And my favorite:
aerogene flagstaff phantasy haze
— special effects smoke generator deployed for Jimi Hendrix Arizona gig!
Art is so much a matter of projection, anyway. The Rain Parade had an album title, “Emergency Third Rail Power Trip,” which struck me — when, as a resident of Boston in the mid-1980s, I purchased the LP — as a psychedelic word-poem about electrocuted megalomaniacs. When I moved to San Francisco I discovered its more prosaic origin, as a utility sign posted near the BART tracks.
WEEKEND UPDATE. Sunny Sunday keep you away from the news? Here’s what you missed:
My enthusiasm for Tolkien’s world took root at an early age when I fell in love with the map of Middle-Earth. So this bit of spoofery made me smile. Why, if only the Fellowship had had the aid of an online trip planner, they’d never have gotten trapped in Moria! (OK, before you LotR fanatics correct me, yes, I know Moria wasn’t on the original trip route, etc. etc. Just a joke.)
This is cool: Mark Hoback of Fried Green Al-Qaedas is sponsoring a “Spam Deconstruction Contest” — and the judge is none other than Bill Griffith, the amazing creator of Zippy the Pinhead. (If there is a character anywhere well-suited to the appreciation of the finer points of spam, it would be Zippy.) Entries are due Aug. 26. Full info here. Prizes, too.
When I went to work for the old San Francisco Examiner back in 1986, I worried a bit about the prospect of connecting my career with a Hearst paper. What helped sell me on the Examiner was that it ran Zippy every day — at that time (and perhaps still?) a rarity among U.S. dailies.
The Total Information Awareness program may have removed its ominous logo from its Web site — but you can still get your TIA-insignia T-shirts, teddy bears, mugs and thongs! Hurry, though, they’re going fast (into detention)!
Don’t miss this week’s Ruben Bolling comic, nicely flaying the Wall Street Journal “Tax the Poor” meme.
OK, by now regular bloglodytes have seen this link a million times. In case you haven’t, though, I’m going to cycle it once more into rotation: It’s — how to describe it? No description is really apt. Soy-sauce-superhero-Flash with-cheesy-but-great-pop-music anime-samizdat! I dunno. See for yourself. Then check out this translation of the lyrics, courtesy Tom Tomorrow:
Funky that guy is Kikkoman.
Soy sauce is good for the body.
There is also a sterilization action.
Our old colleague Bill Wyman — formerly arts editor here at Salon and now at the Atlanta Journal Constitution — always took his share of ribbing for the name he shared with a certain bass-playing Stone. But this takes the cake: A lawyer for the other Wyman sent Bill a cease-and-desist letter for using his own name. Bill used the opportunity to write a funny piece.