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Originally published at An Island Where No One Lives.  Adapted and edited for inclusion here.


Note:  From late December of 2004 through mid-January of 2005, I began finding little bits of things tucked at the bottom of spam messages.   Here is a compilation, with commentary, of some of what I found.


December 29, 2004

Just got a spam email in one of my accounts; normally I just delete without reading (which is the best thing to do) but I was curious who it was addressed to, so I opened it up.

Inside was the usual promise that I could start my own business and earn money. Well, thanks, I never realized I could do that. But then, after the pitch (and the "Click here to be removed from our mailing list" link, which you should never, ever click on), there was this curious addition:

As he spoke he felt himself gently but firmly pushed from behind and, losing his balance, he plunged headforemost from the roof and whirled through the intervening space toward the sidewalk far below. Terrified though he was by the sudden disaster, the boy had still wit enough remaining to reach out his right hand and move the indicator of the machine upon his left wrist to the zero mark

Immediately he paused in his fearful flight and presently came to a stop at a distance of less than fifteen feet from the flagstones which had threatened to crush out his life

Strange, huh? To me, it looks like whoever is cranking this stuff out is bored our of his or her mind, and is trying to write short stories (or movie treatments, maybe) just to keep from going nuts.

I wonder how widespread this sort of thing is. As I said, I don't read spam, and I'm not tempted to start because of this, but it is a kind of weird glimpse into some unknown realm.

December 30, 2005

Here's another little bit of a story, tucked away at the end of a spam message.

If this goes on, Mr Joslyn said to his son, when breakfast was finished, I shall be obliged to send you away for your health.
I think of making a trip this morning, said Rob, carelessly
Where to?

Oh, I may go to Boston, or take a run over to Cuba or Jamaica, replied the boy.

I'm thinking this one was written by the same person who wrote the last bit I posted. The style is kind of similar, as is the lackadaisical approach to punctuation. Still, seeing it again is kind, in a way.

Much as I dislike spam, this sort of thing makes me feel sorry for the poor folks who are forced to grind it out. You imagine some sweaty hothouse, workers hunched over keyboards pounding out drivel about medicine, mortgages and marital aids, and every now and then sneaking in some bit of the novel they're working on. One imagines it is their only joy, in a dark joyless world.

Here's another bit, but this is obviously from another author:

man had apparently been hunting, gotten lost and stopped a couple of hunters to ask for directions.
HewereMurray, was visibly unhappy with the test results, the government deracialize 7 eras 1 frettingcombatter dromotropic seven times more likely to develop the problem when they were vibrated as the burning coal entered
Watkins supervisor, Tyrone

This guy sounds like he's been taking too much of that cheap medication you hear so much about. I wonder if "Watkins supervisor, Tyrone" is the author's signature? Supervising Watkins must be one heck of an important job.

January 01, 2005

Well, it's a brand new year and the weather is beautiful. Let's hope this is a good portent.

Here's today's spam story.

He had become somewhat accustomed to passing the night in the air and now slept remarkably well, having no fear of burglars or fire or other interruptions that dwellers in cities are subject to.
One thing, however, he should have remembered: that he was in an ancient and little known part ofthe world and reposing above a sea famous in fable as the home of many fierce and terrible creatures; while not far away lay the land of the dragon, the simurg and other ferocious monsters
Rob may have read of these things in fairy tales and books of travel, but if so they had entirely slipped his mind; so he slumbered peacefully and actually snored a little, I believe, towards morning

I've always liked H.P.Lovecraft and it sounds like this guy does too. This story is a little better formed, a bit less random than the others. I didn't even read the spam in question, but I think it was about sex enhancements. Maybe those guys' sweatshops are a little more relaxed, so he could concentrate on his grammar and punctuation. It's a theory.

January 4, 2005

Not much on the spam front lately, which is pretty nice to be quite honest. This is the only thing of recent note:

this site has quickly become the must visit crab-shed

Which I suppose is a good thing to know; should the urge to visit a crab-shed become overwhelming, I'd like to know the best one to go to. Wouldn't everyone? One assumes that sort of information is not readily available in most travel books.

I forget the original purpose of the spam that coughed this up, but then, I don't really read these spam things. I just jump to the end to read the latest chapter. Will Ted and Donna ever find happiness together? Who was Ralph's mysterious benefactor? Is Julia really Kurt's mother?

I don't expect to learn any of those answers, but you know, I just can't help but keep hoping!

January 10, 2005

Not a lot of interesting spam stories lately, here's a roundup of some of the miscellaneous notions, bits of stories, turns of phrase, and such from spam writers. As always, I ignore the main body of the spam and just skip to the end, where the interesting flotsam accumulates. Here and there I have separated scrunched words and made the paragraph formatting a bit easier to follow, but otherwise these are presented as is.

First of all, a rather confused list:

backtraces 7 bath soap 8 depots drug pulverizing editorials

...[singing] five Golden rings...

He then continues in a more sensationalistic vein:

killings have stunned Exeland, a village of 219 people about 135 miles northeast of Minneapolis. top managers. Two months later, Watkins was banished to an empty office without a telephone line, according

Well, if Watkins was responsible for those killings, I should hope his punishment would have been a bit more severe, but you can't have everything, can you? I sure hope Exeland isn't surprised when the killings continue.

Our next spammer decides to be slightly topical, in sort of addled way.

Even in the distant Caribbean, one of the region's largest New Year's Eve celebrations on the British territory [we need a concluding verbal phrase, like "was under way" or something.]

He also admitted he was fairly worried about the potential for Iranian influences in the Iraqi election, now set for Jan. 30. on the campaign trail. "You catch colds," he said, "you catch the flu, you catch this, you chancellor of the exchequer

From worrying about international events to worrying about personal health, to worrying about whether he is addressing the Chancellor of the Exchequer--this guy lets worry run his life.

Our third spammer returns to fiction with this brief extract.

He climbed up the stairs and the ladders again and looked out the little window in the belfry. Then he examined his map of Europe.
I believe I'll take a run over to Paris, he thought.

This could be an interesting story about an international playboy. I bet in Paris, he encounters some kind of baffling, terrifying force which makes him assume the mantle of a dark avenger of the night. This could be a rough draft of the new Batman film! That reference to a "belfry" clinches it. You read it here first!

Spammer number four also wants to work on short stories, but can't seem to decide whether it's an action-adventure yarn or a continuation of L. Frank Baum's "Oz" books:

He was just falling asleep when a tremendous din and clatter nearly deafened him, and set the whole tower trembling
So, if you can find a way to fix it, we'll be much obliged to you
Ozma can do it, easily, replied Dorothy
It was the midnight chime Rob clutched his ears tightly, and when the vibrations had died away descended by the ladder to a lower platform

Make up your mind, Number Four!

Number five spammer seems to have economic and cultural incentives on his mind.

raise them instead. Higher prices may make some Americans think twice about how much to spend over the

Just like Finnegans Wake, he drops that thought and immediately picks up another, but watch out! There is another thought on biology heading toward this one and the collision makes them fuse into something a bit less comprehensible:

Although meat is a source of protein, it has very low levels of calcium, in blood clotting, muscle contraction and transmission of nerve impulses.

This could be educational, if we could figure it out. Actually, I suspect that between "Calcium" and "in blood clotting" it is supposed to read something like "calcium; calcium is used " etc. However, I don't want to put words in this guy's, er, mouth, so next time he sends us the thrilling conclusion I'll try to post it here.

Oh, and by the way, I have read Finnegans Wake, from beginning to end [sticks tongue out].

Our final spammer is an older example, and I apologize if I've posted this earlier, but heck, if they can't check their spelling, grammar and sentence structure, why the heck should I check my own archives? A man has to eat, and sometimes he has to eat hot lead!

man had apparently been hunting, gotten lost and stopped a couple of hunters to ask for directions.

All well and good, eh? Sounds like part of an adventure held in the Great Outdoors. Or perhaps the aftermath of a crime, or some such. Then things take a turn--a more sinister turn:

He were seven times more likely to develop the problem when they were vibrated as the burning coal entered Watkins supervisor, Tyrone Murray, was visibly unhappy with the test results, the government

The latter part of this shows Mr. Murray unhappy with the test results, and he starts to worry about the government before he's mysteriously cut off, mid-sentence. They...they must have got Mr. Murray! Those fiends, will they stop at nothing?

I should say they seem pretty unstoppable. Look at the heinous experiments they're doing in the first part: trying to find out how likely "Watkins' supervisor" is to develop "the problem" when he was vibrated, while burning coal is injected into him! (Turns out the answer is seven.) This sounds like something out of The X-Files.

Well, that's enough spam for today, after all, it is not good for you to read spam. You should never read spam, you should just delete it. It is okay for me to read it, as I am a professional and I am taking all due precautions. Look, I am even wearing the gloves this time.

January 11, 2005

Little on the spam front lately, which is oddly...unsatisfying. Having spent several years dealing with spam by firm application of the Delete button, and suddenly finding something of interest in it, it's a bit weird to actually look forward to it. No, it's not just weird, it's stupid! I should stop being stupid. Note to self: stop being stupid. (I may have to work on this quite a while.)

Here, in the meantime, are some of the latest bits.

Here's someone's assessment of a problem which quickly becomes an overheated word assemblage exercise, with a particularly vivid conclusion:

that is very elusive, very, very hard to identify, and at the same time, you know, youre destroying deformed2blockprinted6common prayercircumcisionblindpunch

"Prayercircumcisionblindpunch" sounds like some kind of Kung Fu fighting style. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it is, or if it soon will be. If you could work the name of the genitals in there, it would be a great name for a band as well. Also, include Frankenstein.

Some spam fiction has sequels. Remember the bit in our previous anthology entry, about the guy being awoken by the clock-tower, while characters from Oz flitted about his prose? Well, his story had a previous entry here.

I suspect the bit below is supposed to come between that bit, and the clanging clock bit  (Note:  This extract was previously seen on January 1st.  Just like real spam, it is repeated below just because).

He had become somewhat accustomed to passing the night in the air and now slept remarkably well, having no fear of burglars or fire or other interruptions that dwellers in cities are subject to.
One thing, however, he should have remembered: that he was in an ancient and little known part of the world and reposing above a sea famous in fable as the home of many fierce and terrible creatures; while not far away lay the land of the dragon, the simurg and other ferocious monsters.
Rob may have read of these things in fairy tales and books of travel, but if so they had entirely slipped his mind; so he slumbered peacefully and actually snored a little, I believe, towards morning

Note the subtle entry of the narrator in that little "I believe." Cool, eh? Well, no, but you know what I mean.

I imagine the little fragment about the guy in the belfry is also a part of this story. Could be. Someday I'll assemble them into a coherent order...or perhaps it can be an exercise for you, the reader. Grades will be assigned based on originality, neatness and proper use of resources. Please have your work handed in before Friday. Since it's such a beautiful day out today, class is dismissed fifteen minutes early. Go out and play!

January 12, 2005

Wednesday's Spam is Full of Woe.

Well, not really "woe," but then, not much full of anything else. In addition to what's below, there were a couple of other things, but nothing terribly interesting so I forwent them to bring you this lone example. Spam writers: you need to work on your ideas if you want your submissions to be considered for publication. Simply being a novelty longer enough.

Okay. This one has the effect of being a written-word equivalent of scrolling the dial on a radio (now there's an idea for someone's experimental novel).

his previous marriage. This year, her ex, David Heagy, 58, a satellite imagery engineer, is

But suddenly, we lose interest in this unknown woman and her marital status, and go here:

enthusiasm in this area, and a lot of trials were underway. I think this is going to slow things
The developments are particularly distressing because a large boddy [sic] of evidence indicates the drugs could provide significant benefits aside hexads 2 free love 6 duci dawkfelicific

"Free love," huh? I know where your mind's at, pal. And I'd say the evidence definitely indicates something about the drugs, all right.

But you gotta love that word, "dawkfelicfic." It sounds like it describes something geeks do to ease their geekiness to higher levels. Having a Tron pillowcase is dawkfelicfic.

Me, I'm wondering what's going on with Rob in that bell-tower.

January 13, 2005

Like blogging, hidden spam fiction seems to so common now that it's not always interesting. Out of four messages today (good thing no one knows my email account, or it would probably be ten times that) only two were of interest. One of them, however, was extremely interesting.

Let's deal with the other, not so interesting one first.

It was not immediately clear late Saturday whether Johnson was still alive when he was pulled from leader.

Well, what kind of shape was leader in? No one seems very concerned about him. The whole thing reminds me of that guy from Total Recall.   Quato, I believe his name was.


We finally set up the tables and chairs so people could get medical care from the of workers, freeing up plenty of room.

Well, it's nice to see that people are out helping other people. But how does setting up tables and chairs free up room? Seems to me like that would fill more space. Of course, that's probably why my grades were so mediocre in school--I just couldn't wrap my head around the proper use of logic.

Ultimately, the guy in charge of determining what shippedconsultants2duckhearted6directoratescourthousescoal- fired

Well, it's a shame that the guy in charge of...of...of all that got fired. Post holiday layoffs, I bet; it's the same everywhere. How much does it cost to ship a consultant, I wonder. And what makes a director "duck hearted"? (I know, I know--it's because his "bills" are so big! Ha ha ha ow ouch ow stop hitting me, I'm sorry I said that! I won't make jokes like that again!)

Finally, we come to today's story. This is actually intriguing. With any luck, we'll get more chapters the way we did with the story of Rob in the clock tower.

Finally he said: I'm afraid I couldn't support your weight long enough to reach any other land. It's a long journey, and you'd pull my arms out of joint before we'd been up an hour

Their faces fell at this, but one of them said: Why couldn't we swing ourselves over your shoulders with a rope? Our two bodies would balance each other and we are so thin and emaciated that we do not weigh very much

Now this is interesting. Who (or what) is this person who can carry people, but not for long distances? He talks about "arms" rather than "wings" so, is it someone who is good at jogging or what? If he's some kind of giant, who can stride like a titan across the land, he's kind of wimpy one if he can't carry two "emaciated" creatures for an hour. Maybe he's a giant with really tiny arms. Maybe he's a friendly tyrannosaurus rex! Whatever, it definitely lights a spark under the imagination.

And the other guys, who come up with this ingenious "swinging rope" thing to help out (truth to tell, it doesn't sound like it would help much. It sounds kind of more tiring than the other). Who are they, and why are they so emaciated? Usually that's a result of being starved, right? So are they escaped prisoners, creatures from a more fragile world than ours, mutants, elves, hobbits, sea anemones, or what?

As you can see, this raises many interesting questions. It certainly paints a vivid if hard to grasp world. I'd really like to see more.

Crap. What I am asking for is more spam! How did I get into this mess? How does an interesting, innocent hobby result into foaming, churning madness?

I bet Lou Reed asked the same questions when he started writing all those drug songs.

January 13, 2005

A Documentary about Spam Fiction Harvesting

It occurs to me that it might be interesting for you to see what I'm looking at when I harvest these spam stories. So here is a screenshot from my email account, with the hidden spam fiction tucked away at the bottom. Names have been blacked out because I don't like the idea of sticking folks' names into my blog without asking them. And asking them, "Hey, can I use your name in a story about spam?" would probably result in the answer, "No."

This is a pretty large file, so be patient. If you're on dial-up, like me, you might want to just skip it altogether. In fact, you might want to just go outdoors and enjoy the weather. Or maybe there's a movie you want to watch. I'm sure the dog or cat would enjoy some attention, spouse too if you have one of those. The point is, you don't have to click on this picture just because someone put it on the internet. You can do anything you want to do. Within reason and the limits of legality, always understood.

Oh! Almost forgot the picture.

Where I find hidden spam fiction.  Click to open in a new window.



Shortly after this, I discovered that the story that was making its way to me in bits and spurts was a work by L. Frank Baum, called "The Master Key."  That seemed to deflate a lot of my enthusiasm for this project, since what I was reading was not someone's desperate attempt to enliven his spam-churning chores, but more likely the result of some computer malware burrowing through a random work of literature on a zombie machine.   Since mid-January of 2005, I have stopped reading spam and have no desire to resume.


December 2004 - January 2005.


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