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the mp3 way: spam; spam, sausage, spam, spam, spam, bacon
By Jon Newton, p2pnet.net
(more articles from this author)
2001-04-05
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SSEYO's KoanMusic is really intriguing, and very offbeat. It's interactive audio technology which delivers incredibly small, but very playable, custom sounds on wireless devices and web pages. In other words, it's a perfect subject for this column. But before heading over to the SSEYO site on April 1, I had my usual early morning routine: address my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter's most pressing concern (today, she wanted to know if her old tin turtle REALLY enjoyed the lettuce she'd left out for it last night) and answer urgent emails.

I also had to take the garbage out - in other words, trash the SPAM which had accumulated overnight.

I have a few tunes on mp3.com and because mp3.com is, among other things, a launching ramp for unguided missives, April 1's junk included various items which had arrived via my mp3.com web page. In effect, they promised to Take me to the Stars - for a small fee, of course. (Look what you've started, Mikey.)

There was also an offering telling me that if I'm in debt, I can go even deeper by borrowing up to 125% of the value of my home; a few ideas on how to "Retain ALL your hard earned money"; and an email informing me that Minister Charles Simpson has the power to make me, "a LEGALLY ORDAINED MINISTER within 48 hours!!!!" and inviting me to "BE ORDAINED NOW!" Whooooo Boy! This thing came from a firm called Internet Information Services, apparently based in Billings, Montana.

Then I started thinking.

SPAM? I remember SPAM. When I was a kid in England, we ate it. I didn't like it much but plenty of people did. So, since Sounni told me I could, in this column, explore the Outer, as well as Inner, Regions of CyberSpace, I thought I'd put KoanMusic on hold and see if SPAM's still around. And Lo! - it is.

http://www.spam.com is the official Hormel web page and there I learned that SPAM was born in 1937 when it was called Hormel Spiced Ham. The company offered a $100 prize for a better name and landed SP(iced)(H)AM. Anyway, the Hormel company is extremely sensitive about its star product and in its legal & copyright info section, you'll find:

"Use of the term 'SPAM' was adopted as a result of the Monty Python skit in which a group of Vikings sang a chorus of 'SPAM, SPAM, SPAM . . . ' in an increasing crescendo, drowning out other conversation. Hence, the analogy applied because UCE was drowning out normal discourse on the Internet."

From Monty Python's 'The Final Rip Off' (NOT on the Hormel page ; ) -

Man: Morning.

Waitress: Morning.

M: Well, what you got?

W: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, sausage, spam, spam, spam, bacon, spam, tomato and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; (vikings start singing in background) spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam.

Vikings: Spam, spam , spam, spam, lovely spam, lovely spam.

... and so on

More from the Hormel page: "We do not object to use of this slang term to describe UCE, although we do object to the use of our product image in association with that term. Also, if the term is to be used, it should be used in all lower-case letters to distinguish it from our trademark SPAM, which should be used with all uppercase letters."

The late Jim Henson's production company has felt the wrath of SPAM - the official one, that is.

"In February 1996, Henson plans to release the film Muppet Treasure Island which features Henson's widely popular cast of puppets known collectively as the 'Muppets'," says a legal document on http://www.tourolaw.edu/2ndcircuit/january96/95-7977.html. It goes on, "A number of additional characters have been created for this production, among whom is Spa'am, the subject of this litigation.

"The similarity between the name 'Spa'am' and Hormel's mark is not accidental. In Henson's film, Spa'am is the high priest of a tribe of wild boars that worships Miss Piggy as its Queen Sha Ka La Ka La. Although the name 'Spa'am' is mentioned only once in the entire movie, Henson hopes to poke a little fun at Hormel's famous luncheon meat by associating its processed, gelatinous block with a humorously wild beast."

The above was the opener in an appeal from a New York US District Court judgment denying Hormel a permanent injunction against Jim Henson Productions that would have precluded the use of 'Spa'am' in Henson's then upcoming film, and related merchandise, as, "an infringement and/or dilution of Hormel's trademark in the luncheon meat SPAM". The appeal failed.

In the meanwhile, SPAM and Spammers is/are everywhere.

There's SPAM: The Movie, for example - the, "experimental indie British Horror Film conceived and shot in just three weeks". The web site's at http://www.angelfire.com/movies/spam/.

Then there's John Nagamichi Cho's deeply moving SPAM Haiku site at http://pemtropics.mit.edu/~jcho/spam/sha.html.

There, it's stated, "SPAM, that mysterious food product, has spawned a post-modern, cross-cultural literary form: the SPAM haiku, or SPAM-ku (technically SPAM senryu, although the definition of haiku has been broadened by the Matsuyama Declaration). This WWW site was created so that anyone who comes under the influence of this enigmatic porcine muse can share his/her poetic epiphany with the rest of the world. Even if you are not inspired to contribute to the archive, you can browse through and marvel at the works of genius that SPAM has motivated in others."

Want to see a SPAM-Ku?


Hush! Sit quietly.
That sound you cannot hear is
SPAM not opening.

Finally, so as not to wander TOO far off the audio digital track, when you get to the official Hormel SPAM page there's music. Or I should say muzak. It seems to be the same short phrase repeated over and over, ad nauseu .... I mean ad infinitum.

And somehow, it makes you think of, well, SPAM.


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