Friday, April 14, 2006

Paging Mr. Banquet . . . Call for Rutabaga R. Banquet . . .

I've written before about finding Dadaist poetry in the subject lines of spam emails--phrases like "minstrel camping," "imbroglio typographer," and "actinium messiah" designed either to evade spam detectors or provoke curiosity in the recipients. Now the spammers have moved on to a new strategy: concocting weird and comic sender names, also apparently generated by some kind of bot randomly scrolling through a dictionary. The names always have the same form: two unrelated words separated by a middle initial. Here are some from today's inbox:

Applejack Q. Poets
Tropic T. Relocated
Transacted U. Hysteresis
Suggests G. Stalwarts
Rutabaga R. Banquet

Aren't these great? One's first reaction might be to describe these monikers as "Dickensian," but on reflection they sound more like the names of characters played by W.C. Fields and Groucho Marx--names like Larson E. Whipsnade, Hugo Z. Hackenbush, Otis B. Driftwood, Eustace P. McGargle, Mahatma Kane Jeeves, and Rufus T. Firefly. (You get partial credit for knowing which names match with Fields, which with Marx; full credit for being able to name at least five of the movies involved.)

Is everyone else getting the same kinds of loopy messages? Even more important, does anyone think this is actually an effective strategy for getting the emails read?

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