Friday, October 25, 2013

"Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam! Wonderful spam!"

HALLIE EPHRON: Recognize the line? It's from a Monty Python Flying Circus sketch. A waitress at a restaurant that serves food with spam in everything repeats the word ... over and over ... until the Vikings (there are Vikings) start to sing.

Apparently that routine is somehow connected with our use of the term SPAM for all those unwanted emails, though the connection is entirely too complicated for me to follow. I think you need to be British to get it.

But I do, actually GET IT. These days seems like my computer gets served a steady diet of the stuff. But it's like body odor -- if your computer no longer had it, it would probably be dead. And Spam has been known to inspire at least one Red writer (see: Hank's PRIME TIME for a secret message in spam).

I've gotten pretty good at spotting it. So, to the spammers of the world I offer some free (FREE! FREE! FREE!) advice. If you're trying to get me to open your email:
  • DO NOT send me the same message four times
  • I don't know anyone named Benny, Nick, George, Paul, or Wong Yong
  • And avoid these subject lines:
Hi there,
Hello there,
Hello Good News
Hey Dude!
Awesome Offer
Hello! This is new and fresh and everybody wants it
C'ash Ca'sh Cas'h
Beautiful bold lashes
Weight Loss
Sexy Girls
Russian Brides
Final notice
Do you have advice for spammers? What tips you off? Have you been fooled??

And if you're curious about the original Monty Python sketch, you surely aren't busy enough -- here you go!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Sorry! Speech-to-text error fixit:

    Hallie, I love that Spam bit in Hank's PRIME TIME.

    If you have gmail, have you noticed the daily Spam recipes in the Spam folder?

    My great-grandmother Troy used to make a Spam and pineapple bake that she served with yams.My grandmother made a hash that was a Sunday brunch favorite or Saturday supper with beans.

  3. I, too, love the secret message in spam thing, but that's the only spam I enjoy!

    Most of the subject lines listed are great tip-offs; also the strange sender names . . . if I don't recognize your email name, I'm not looking at your email.

    My AOL email automatically dumps most of that stuff into the spam folder, but there's always some of it in my New Mail folder. [This morning it's "FindBride9012"]. I am ruthless at dumping the spam stuff and am pretty good at spotting it.

  4. Thanks for my early morning giggle. I love Monty Python, I also liked spam sandwiches when I was a kid. Now - not so much!

  5. Almost every day I get an email announcing that there is a new user who has registered with my wordpress account (my website,

    What new user? what??? spam spam spam spam spam

    Even my very savvy hub got phished with an email allegedly from his webserver host, saying he had to log in again.

    These people should be tracked down and punished!

  6. Every once in a while someone real's message gets put in SPAM which means I have to keep scanning the list before flushing. Subject lines are the quickest way to spot non-spam.

  7. Someone out there must think I want a job because I get a lot of those emails (is that a hint?) I still get the occasional Your money is waiting for you! and hot chicks email. Sometimes I want to look at them just to see what stupid thing they think people are responding to...but then..uh...I'd sort of be responding..wouldn't I?

  8. Mail Chimp said I was a spammer for asking my AOL contacts if they wanted to receive future emails from author Jack Getze. My own list? They said it can't be YOUR list -- too many people said no -- so you're a spammer. I was banished! But... but.. it was my own AOL list. I'm still getting over it. :(

  9. I got a spammer who asked me if I wanted a "relation for friends and not sexual." MollyC

  10. My e-mail address is gender neutral, and for some reason the spammers have decided I am a man looking for cheap levtira (sic) and vigara (sic), Swiss and luxury watches, girls looking for a threesome, Canadian meds, and secrets to female seduction.

    I also get messages addressed to "Hey, mighty man" and "Hallo well-hung stud."

    Are there men out there who actually fall for these?

    I delete them about twice a day (just in case a legit message is in the spam folder). I think I average about 40 per day.

  11. PS WHAT is "six sigma"? Who would take training in it from a spammer?

  12. Spam is an ever increasing problem and I hate it.

    I agree with Hallie, subject lines are the easiest way to spot it.

    My filters do a pretty good job, but you still have to glace at it in case it catches something important (which it has in the past).

    These folks should use that time for something more productive - like READING.

  13. My Yahoo spam filter does a pretty good job of sorting out the junk. At work, however, I inherited an email address that is almost as generic as info@ and has been used on everything we sent out for the past fifteen years. I clear the spam filter daily because it also somehow catches about half of the emails requesting information from our own website. I delete more than 100 spam every day, sometimes closer to 200. Easily half are in Chinese characters. I sort by subject so they're easier to skim through. Until this week, they were the usual "someone has posted something about you", "get a free gift card to", and "pleasure your girlfriend" messages, but they just took a turn from suggestive into pornographic. Is anyone still stupid enough to click on a message with slang for gender specific body parts in the subject line?

  14. Six sigma is an engineering thing. One of my daughters learned about it at an Explorers engineering camp at General Electric when she was in high school. It is basically a methodology, as I understand it, which is to say, not at all.

    My server must catch most of the spam before I get it; except for my Gmail account, I rarely see any these days.

    On Facebook, though... "Hello, pretty", "I noticed your beauty", "Looking for a relationship".

    Delete, delete, delete.

  15. "Hey, mighty man." I am stealing that for a story.

    Last week I had to send mail from one of my mail accounts to another. They all landed in spam. First time I spammed myself.

    Lately I've been getting email from banks telling my account is messed up. Never the bank I use, however. They are not even clever about it.

  16. Ramona, I'm laughing hysterically! You spammed yourself!!There should be a name for that. Auto-spam?

  17. "Please contact me." I hate that one.

    And "congratulations." That one is a double-edged sword. My spam filter has decided "congratulations" is spam. Thanks so much--and, often, it is.

    But sometimes--if you're lucky--it's not. In which case you might MISS the announcement of your real, say, nomination for a nice thing.

    As well as the congratulatory notes for said announcement. Oh, well.

    And thanks, Hallie. Yeah, I am pretty proud of that plot in PRIME TIME, I must say!


  18. Oh Hallie, you're hit on one of my favorite topics! I think my favorite line is "This is not spam!" Really? You've got to be kidding me. That's like, instant delete button. :D

  19. Terry - I've gotten that one, too. Almost anything with an exclamation point is spam.

  20. My tip is a Mac computer and gmail. I don't get any spam.

  21. I want Ellen's spam!!! Well, not for me personally, but you know what I mean...

    I actually liked fried Spam when I was a kid. Hard to believe now, but that was a treat.

    As for computer spam, I have very good filters so almost never get it. Except on my public FB page, where I get "I saw your pretty smile..." Yeah, right. Delete.

    Hallie, thanks so much for the Monty Python skit!!! Hadn't seen it for years. They were so wonderfully insane.

    Oh, and as a note, I don't know if most Americans know why Spam was such a big deal in England. For years under rationing Spam was the only meat you were likely to get. The Python crew will have grown up on Spam, and egg and Spam, and Spam sandwiches....

  22. If I don't know the return address, I don't open it and just delete it.
    Gmail does a good job of getting rid of my spam.
    We did eat Spam when I was a child during WWII. And I used it occasionally when I first was married but since it has MSG in it, I don't bother w/it.

  23. the very mention of spam as a meat product makes my stomach churn . It is well named for spam as in e.mails as it is evil. Horrible stuff I was made to eat as a kid in England during the war.. Spam was the "go to" when the last of our rations were gone' Ever had spam and dried egg pie?

  24. Anon: Spam and dried egg pie? Mmmm.

    Denise: I have a mac and gmail. You must have good juju.

  25. Hallie, you can adjust your gmail spam filter. Maybe that would reduce the amount in your inbox. I have very little spam in my inbox, but I check the spam folder in case some non-spam gets sent there. It happens sometimes when friends put spammy sounding subjects on their email.

  26. Just checked my spam folder: 18 messages, most for penis enlargement (one mentioned cockzilla). Also, lots of stock "tips." Like you'd take a recommendation about penny stocks from an unknown spammer. I guess hope springs eternal among spammers.

  27. Oooh, among the 49 spams this morning (103 yesterday) in my spam folder was this one, should anyone want to use it for a story: "Aloha, cool cowboy."