Posted by: Brad Nixon | August 18, 2010

One Blog With Not So Much Spam in It

If you don’t recognize it, today’s title is taken from a skit by Monty Python. The Pythons knew that spam was funny. Of course, in their hands, everything was funny, including the Spanish Inquisition and a dead parrot. But there were six of them and only one of me, and given the net effect of gestalts and all that, I probably can’t be one-sixth as entertaining, especially since I don’t have a funny accent or Terry Gilliam’s wacky graphics or George Harrison backing my movies. Oh, I don’t have any movies. Well.

In the 30 years or so since Monty Python created their famous “Spam” routine, of course, spam has come to mean something different to us cyberspherians. Irritating, annoying, threatening and offensive, spam is part of the dark side of the cyber world. Yet, nearly every day I get a laugh out of spam. Maybe not an out-loud laugh like I get from a favorite Python routine, but  at least some amusement. Like you, I’m jaded with the worn trivialities of everyday e-mail spam, offering us medications from Canada, and all sorts of other less-mentionable goods and services. (How good can Canadian pharmaceuticals be, after all?) These endlessly yammering messages ceased long ago to have even the remotest ability to entertain us. But launching this blog has widened my exposure to the vast, undifferentiated mass of mindless hucksterism, amateur and professional (and, judging from the messages, mostly amateur) that pervades the Internet. Fortunately, WordPress provides a pretty good filter from whatever mysterious forces behind the curtain run this place, meaning that I only have to adjudicate a little of it and almost none of it shows up for you to see.

It’s a reminder to us all that any time we launch something into the bottomless pit of the Internet, something bad might find us and bounce back to bite us — diving in coral reefs in the South Pacific is supposed to be wonderful, but there are moray eels, too. Spam is the moray eel of the Internet. Be careful!

It’s amazing what will show up. It’s kind of like Groucho’s “secret woid” on “You Bet Your Life:” mention the secret word and unknown hacks everywhere in the world have devised parsing engines to detect that word and try to sell something into that tiny, infinitesimal niche on my blog.

Recently I mentioned souvenir key chains in a blog, and I got a message and a link to some site suggesting that we could procure all sorts of key chains and change wallets, suggesting, in addition, “Then supply each girl with a gift card for that cosmetic counter.” (The fact that very few of the spam messages one gets actually make sense suggest their origin in foreign countries or their creation by a non-intelligent computer program.)

I occasionally write about construction matters, and that has garnered some very interesting offers for a wide selection of great products, including a full array of extruded plastic construction pipe. Another offer was so good, I almost approved it to appear on the post as a comment, because after I had written about trash cans, a note came through offering a wide variety of bins and barrels in volumes measured in liters (those Canadians, again, you betcha).

My post on “My Megastore” elicited an offer to garner “Benefits By Freddie Mooche. The largest building service workers union in the U.S.”

Mysteriously, the post on Water-Gazers got TWO messages from online casino-related sites in German. Here they are, with translation by Google: “Lustig, ich hatte garnicht gedacht das das *wirklich* so funktioniert. Komische Welt.” (Funny, I thought it was not at the * really * work that way. Comic World) And the second one: “Irgend ne Ahnung wie sehr das verallgemeinerbar ist?” (Any any idea how much that is generalizable?)

And, puzzlingly, somehow a site named “22 inch car rims” found me via the “Jamming” post with the delightful inquiry, “wats up man hows it going” (no punctuation). If I knew how to reply, perhaps I would’ve.

Even more entertaining, though, is another category of data the blog system captures: the search terms that individuals used to find my blog entries. I wish I had kept a more thorough record of them. I’m going to copy them all down from here on out, because I know some gems will pop up, and we’ll all get a laugh. Some are odd, some are rather obviously pathetic attempts, probably students scrambling for data for a paper, and other are flat-out weird.

One person was obviously desperate to find something about roofers in Ohio, and kept turning up my blog titled, “Left Uncovered,” in which I wrote about how roofers in California can leave roofs uncovered for the night with (relative) impunity.

Another individual has been planning a party, because they found Under Western Skies by typing in, “funny poems for inviting.” What they got was my bit about National Poetry Week in which I took the title from the final line of Borges’ “Lines Written in a Copy of Beowulf”: ‘Inexhaustible, Inviting.’ Well, it was about poetry, and it had the word ‘inviting’ in it. The search engine can find, but it cannot always differentiate.

Two apparent students were looking for a quote about a places they called “Perseopolis” and got my post in which I quoted from “Dr. Faustus,” “Is it not passing fair,” etc. At least they probably now know how to spell “Persepolis.” I mentioned the title of the work, but not the author, so I hope they found some other way to determine that Marlowe wrote it.

One thing these student inquiries tempt me to do is to include a warning on the “About” page, something to the effect of, “If you are a student writing a school assignment and you use any two consecutive words from any of my writing, you are violating my copyright. My lawyers are on their way to your house at this moment to arrest you. Delete what you’ve stolen from me and never visit this blog again.”

Another search: “Lava rock structure in Florida handmade” (post: “Rocking“) I’m guessing this person was looking for the Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida, which is not lava (there’s no lava in FLORIDA!) but oolitic limestone: (I found it right away with the much simpler search terms “florida rock structure”)

Someone far more astute than I was looking for “Cerro Pedernal chert quarries” (post: “The Counselor off-roads it“). Well, they were disappointed, probably. I mentioned that ancient natives quarried chert there, but I had no details that would help them write their paper.

And, finally, the utterly baffling one. Here’s the search string: “sf bay area soul harmony” I have no clue what they were looking for, nor can I tell which one of my posts turned up as a match. I have no doubt that these searches and links will continue to arrive. I’ll keep track of the interesting ones and report back.



  1. OK, after posting this entry, if you get a bunch of searches for the whereabouts of Oolitic, Indiana, just tell ’em it’s west of East Oolitic.


    • You made me look! I didn’t know there WERE such places, but now we all do. Thanks. Plenty o’ limestone there, CUTTER!


      • And, if anyone’s reading this, DO look up Oolitic, Indiana in Wikipedia. They excavated the limestone for the Empire State Bldg. near there. There’s a hole whose equivalent mass equals …. THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING!


  2. And I see on my atlas Oolitic is just down the road from Cincinnati, IN.


  3. So here I am in the middle of a novel when the story goes to Indiana. The character, a Canadian stone cutter, is hired away by a company in Indiana. Said character talks about the Indiana limestone that is to be used for the Empire State Building. And now I read about Indiana limestone in my brother’s blog with comments by our Dad and another brother. Weird.


  4. Of course!


  5. “sf bay area soul harmony” must be from the time in the early 60s when the Temptations and Aretha Franklin left Motown and headed west. Or not.


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