Thursday, February 22, 2007

Avaricious Poetry

Warning: Off-topic babbling and musing follows.

The unpraised -- and perhaps kudos unworthy -- spammers may reflect this era's stream of consciousness poetic artisanship. A scan of the titles in my spam buckets is often amusing and even thought-provoking.

Any given weekend, the spammers off from their jobs or studies try pathetically to entice us to open their offerings. I have seen estimates that they can profit even if they get one out of one hundred of us to look at their spam and one of a thousand of those to give them money.

Perhaps, but let's consider the literary and theatrical aspects.

On a few accounts and a mail reader with several others, my spam filters catch almost everything. I have these set to hold messages for a week. A couple of times a month, something I want -- generally with a link or two embedded -- ends up in one of these bit buckets.

I am paranoid about email. I never open anything that is clearly spam. Also, even for my sister and other angel-loving types, I don't open inspirational videos, PowerPoint presentations or even JPEG images -- nothing that can hide an executable.

For my slightly twisted amusement, before deleting these, I can scan down the amusing fictive senders and subjects.

Try as they might, spammers can't seem to rise to the level of refrigerator magnetic poetry or even to Dave Berry's standard of that's a good name for a rock band.

A couple of years ago, the subjects seemed to make a (dis)honest effort to trick you. The sender had a common WASPy name (Susan or Charley) and the subject was something like they were expecting you for dinner or such.

Recently though, there are a lot of single-word subjects, apparently generated from an English-language dictionary, or a random, nonsensical phrase or text captured off the Net. Consider:
  • irrefutable
  • petal
  • harpoon agitate
  • stealth packer (actually a candidate for Dave Berry)
  • truth acute angle
  • brandenburg unary
  • engineering inconsistent
Gertrude Stein might have been inspired by some of this.

Petal. Petal. sleepwalk we talk and walk Irrefutable latch. Heigh ho, Oakland. talk and walk

In the main though, rhymers would have to collect many weeks of such gems to assemble even a short poem. The blank verse folk would have an easier time, but verbs are hard to come by.

Instead, the free-association sorts can revel in the subjects just for the stimulation. Consider:
  • Be sanhedrin of salty
  • bed logo
  • by proscribe the marjorie
I consider these small gifts, offerings left by the demented, scattered freely about in the off-chance they will find a home.

It was like a moment last weekend when the family left the Chestnut Hill multiplex (I recommend Pan's Labyrinth) and I noticed a folded sheet of stationery on the pavement with visible writing showing through. I felt the compulsion of my youth to pick it up and voyeuristically enjoy that offering. I can control myself now, most times, but did note it to a son to see his response. He was indifferent to that personal artifact and strode on.

He also can ignore the subjects of spams.
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Post-Storm Visitors

Flocking, fluttering wrens, the bully jays, cuneiform-tailed magpies and a few plump tits showed no fear of me this morning.

The crusty, frigid and just nasty residue of yesterday's storm -- glory be that NStar didn't fail us again -- filled the rhododendrons below, the beech above and the forsythia beyond with eager patrons of the feeder. Proof of their hunger to get energy to heat themselves came when I pounded on the window.

Many stayed put while I loosened the storm window to get to the feeder. The sleet had coated the outside and made a gelid epoxy. I ended up with a huge screwdriver as a wedge and a rubber mallet to operate the slides on the window.

As you might suppose, the roundest patrons were first to the feeder and were hovering within reach as I closed the window.

Other regular visitors did not risk life, limb or lemon to gather deposit bottles. These modern gleaners are extras on the urban stage. The old man who arrives after dark, driving what my grandfather would have called a flivver, is part of the night shift. He is considerate and quiet at his task. If I am putting recycling at the curb when he comes, I greet him and he responds, but nothing more.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is a small kindness we can do, one that costs us very little. As with Ruth and Naomi, such gleaning can be significant to those who must do it.

Woe to those who tell me they resent the bottle gatherers. We place our deposit bottles in separate bags for the ease of our evening visitor. If he passes with $1 from us, a quarter elsewhere and another $1 down the block, it is the preponderance of the small -- negligible to us and together meaningful to him.

On this nasty morning, it doesn't hurt anything to hold back the deposit-bottle bags for a week.

The best side-effect of this is that when we take the little care required for our visitors, we often think of other small favors to do.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Good Hands

After a two-day visit to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, we noticed a Mike Ball Insurance sign on the way out of town. Had it not been pouring and pelting, we would have stopped in to amaze each other by the (slight) coincidence.

It's been awhile since I posted any other MBs here. I'll try to be more regular.

Other than his online affiliation, State Farm, I can't find much about him. He looks like a very pleasant sort.

He has long hours on Wednesday -- until 7 p.m. Otherwise, it's 9 to 5.

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