Looking for a Fight

Hold on to your butts, people – this isn’t one of my better posts.

A man in New Jersey came to Milwaukee recently to visit family.  They ended up at Atwater Park in Shorewood.  This stretch of beach is all that separates some impressive bluffs from the waters of Lake Michigan.  In September of 2010, it acquired a sculpture called Spillover II created by artist Jaume Plensa.

The sculpture itself is a man in a crouched position staring out to the endless waters of the lake, and is comprised of a jumble of letters welded together.

Artist posing with his work

I think it’s a very interesting piece of work, especially when lit from below.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s a stunning piece of work.  One that makes you think.  On the very surface of things, you have a hollow man, sitting on twisted legs, staring for all time at the unbroken horizon of our planet.  Man is hollow compared to the panorama that is the Earth.

The figure has no face – suggesting it could be anyone – you, me, the random guy in a mankini sunning himself on the sand…

And the figure is illuminated from within, suggesting the hollow within houses a light (or a soul, if you will) that is barely contained by the tangible makeup of our bodies, yet shines out from that thin and fragile shell.

I can see man – all humans – constructed of letters.  The very building blocks of our language, our ideas, our dreams, our nightmares.  Everything that we are – broken down into a random jumble of 26 formulaic symbols.  We are all built and interact with each other through a complex arrangement of these 26 icons (in the English Language).  Think about how amazing this is.

26 icons – 36 if you add the numbers 0-9.

Our entire civilization is built with only 36 building blocks.

Language. Mathematics. Arts. Sciences. Religions. History. War.

Everything that the Human race is – is built with 36 tiny building blocks.

My mind.  Is blown.

So why is this man from New Jersey so incensed about this sculpture?

Hateful Sculpture in Milwaukee Needs to be Scrapped | Matt Sweetwood.

This is a clear cut, real-life example of not being able to enjoy the beauty of the forest because the damn trees are in the way.  He got up close and personal with Spillover II, and started connecting the jumbled letters together to come up with anti-Semantic messages.

Naturally, he claims it is deliberate, because the math says so.

Have we become so jaded in this country that we can’t view anything anymore without finding some cause to bitch?  That we have to examine, in minute detail, every piece of expressionism until we can find the ‘hidden meaning’ within – and assume that it’s a hostile one?

For some reason…I have a companion thought about a red coffee cup…

The message of hate you see in Spillover II, Mr. Matt Sweetwood?  You’ve created it with your own avarice.  Set it aflame with your post.  And given it life and breath with your vehemence.  The Shorewood council has ordered the sculpture taken down to be ‘fixed’ thanks to your paranoiac hatred.

The only thing that needed to be ‘fixed’ was your interpretation of the piece to begin with.  You found this message of hate because you wanted to find one.  Focus on hate and negativity, and that is what will be gifted you.

If you read this post (and I hope you did) you’ve now seen my interpretation of Spillover II.

Have we learned something?

One of my favorite games to play with letters is to take a random word, and figure out how many other words I can make out of it.  It can also be fun to occasionally find hidden swear words in the ‘find-a-word’ puzzles in the paper.

In case you haven’t learned anything from my post, here’s a random pile of letters – I’m sure there’s a message of hate somewhere within it…

Browsing the Spam Filters

One of the blogs I regularly I follow is Notes from the U.K. 

Ellen has a wonderful sense of humor I find brightens my spirits, even as her irrelevant photos make me want to nip out and go wander about with my camera.  Being a US-born person now a landed immigrant in the UK gives her observations of life, the universe, and everything a take I find energizing.

The other day – she took a lively trip through the search terms that people use to find her blog.  I’ve seen others get a good laugh over some really bizarre search terms in the past, and spent considerable hours pawing through the back-end of WordPress trying to find where in the T&T this information is located.  I’ve come to the conclusion (accompanied by a bit of cussing and swearing) that Google is my reader’s browser of choice.

Google doesn’t publicize their search terms for privacy, or good-press, or just to piss me off, so most of my view-able search terms come up as ‘unavailable content.’


But – because I dug around in the back-end of WordPress, I did find a comparable nugget for inspiration:     The Spam Filters.

Let’s stop for just a moment to consider the evolution of Spam…

Before the little cans appeared with their bright blue labels, there were six-pound blocks of canned pork luncheon meat sold to deli-counters.  The shrewd business-people who owned the deli counters bought the huge steel-encased bricks and sold their customers paper-thin slices of the stuff.  These slices were then properly wedged in-between chunks of bread, garnished with assorted vegetables and condiments, and happily consumed by everyone from John Q. Public and his family to the guy who John shared his sandwich with at work.

See – John’s friend’s wife was a lush, and couldn’t be arsed to rise in the morning to pack the poor fella a lunch…But John was just the kind of good hearted guy to not like to see a coworker go hungry.

I guess enough people liked the deli meat to encourage Hormel to make single-family servings of the stuff, thus cutting out the deli counter and selling direct to the consumer.

The meat business is cutthroat…


Wives did what wives will do when offered up a new, cheap, and not-needing-refrigeration protein source (other than John’s friend’s lush wife – who spent her evenings in an alcoholic haze) – they came up with recipes and served up their concoctions to their families, who ate it with relish (and potatoes).  Cans of spam were officially a thing in the US.

Then some upstart German started lobbing bombs around, and spam followed the warring men of WWII to infect the globe.


Meat that could travel like an average pair of boots or clip of ammunition was huge in the eyes of those paying for mobile army units.  They bought the stuff by the ton and shipped it to the brave men fighting for Life!  Liberty! and the Pursuit of Happiness!  across the pond.   The profit margins of Spam and other canned meat products exploded – followed soon thereafter by the bowels of those selfsame brave fellas overseas who were forced to choke down the stuff at every meal.

You eat anything 3x/day, 7 day/week, 365/year – you’re going to end up loathing it – even if you remember it fondly from the family’s dinner table.

You’re going to resent every spam-filled plate of rations served.  Detest the stuff in every Spam-scented burp.  Hate it as you breathe in the noxious emissions of a barrack full of men full of Spam-gas.  Despise it as you strain your Spam-clogged bowels in the latrine.

War is Hell…

So once the fighting was all done, and our fine men returned to a life that didn’t involve blood, boots and bullets…spam sales plummeted.  The stuff was shoved from the middle of the plate to the side of the plate and further – into the garbage cans of suburbs everywhere.

It’s had a bad rap in the US since.  I remember hearing all through my childhood that SPAM stood for either “Scientifically Produced Animal Matter” or “Squirrel, Possum And Mouse.”

So is it any surprise when the interwebz came along with the barrage of cheap advertising flooding email inboxes everywhere, that the word SPAM would come to symbolize detestable crap shoved on you unwillingly and un-asked-for?

loathing a foodstuff spans generations…

I can attest to the general feeling of disgust when faced with the little cans of potted meat in the grocery.  I had spam…once.


Granted, it was a generic brand (I believe ‘TREAT’ was on the label), and it was roughly cut by a cheap pocket knife into ragged, uneven slabs that were then shoved between day-old white bread.  There might have been some cheap American cheese tossed in there, as well.

Must resist the urge to gripe about American ‘Cheese…’

The thing was consumed in haste, mostly because we only had time for a very quick eat before we had to rush off to something or other, and I discovered if I swallowed the chunks more or less whole the taste was largely concealed by the bread.

What I remember most vividly about the meal was the way the stuff squished in my mouth before slithering down my esophagus, coating my teeth and tongue in a glistening slug-trail of jellied fat and grease with every movement of my jaw.

I just made myself queasy…

If they consider this stuff a luxury item in Korea – they can have mine…

Buuuuut – to get back on track:  Looking at the spam filter today – I find 7 responses that have yet to be deleted from the system.  Most of them are blatant porn sites.

I’ve got a couple of gushing (pun intended) responses from youjizz, one from xvideo, and one glowing reply from porn.  At least their user names all dead-nutz honest about what they’re peddling.  I have to say:  I appreciate that bit of honesty.

Sadly, the honesty curls up into a little fetal ball and rolls under a conveniently-placed rock once we get to the actual content of the messages.

youjizz is by far the most affluent:  he (it’s easier to assume…) has incorporated me into his own blogroll, has been motivated by my postings to get his own website, and would LOVE to donate to the continued fine writings of the T&T (if only he could find that elusive ‘donate’ button!)

xvideo visits the T&T every weekend, because he likes the enjoyment (yea…I’m a bit afraid of that one…)

and porn?  Ah…such high praise and worship!  He will digg my blog and recommend to all of his friends!

But I can’t forget Zulma – who is at work surfing around on my blog on the new iPhone.  I’ll bet he’s got a sweet deal for me 😀

aIMG_3563 center frame

I’ll let the spam filters handle these guys, and go out drinking with John’s friend’s wife.