Morris Goldpepper rides again

by Henry Farrell on July 21, 2010

Scammers with a little bit of a sense of humor. Found in our spam filter this morning when doing the usual clean-up of crap that has accumulated overnight (asterisks added by me)…

bq. HELP! I’m currently being held prisoner by the Russian mafia x***z p**s enlargement xyzrxyz and being forced to post spam comments on blogs! If you don’t approve this they will kill me. x***z p***s enlargement x***z They’re coming back now. Please send help!

Bonus points for anyone (other than Cosma Shalizi and Nielsen Haydens) who can identify the reference in the title without looking it up.



Walt 07.21.10 at 11:37 am

It’s a reference to that weekend that Cosma Shalizi and the Nielsen Haydens spent together in Vegas?


LizardBreath 07.21.10 at 11:42 am

“Make me teeth, imprisoned Goldpepper!”


chris y 07.21.10 at 11:59 am



The Raven 07.21.10 at 12:11 pm

It was a story about Maurice Goldpepper, who was trapped in a fortune cookie factory. Don’t remember the author, though–Avram Davidson, perhaps?


Cosma Shalizi 07.21.10 at 12:13 pm

My dear Walt, I have no idea to what you could possibly be referring.


ajay 07.21.10 at 1:27 pm

Or “MS. Found In A Chinese Fortune Cookie”

Actually it made me think of the sf short (Langford or Stross or someone like that) about the uploaded human whose trust fund craters, and has to make money as a sentient spam filter to keep himself online…


the next Prescott Niles 07.21.10 at 1:27 pm

Not entirely easy to look it up, as apparently Goldpepper’s first name is actually spelled “Morris.” An easy mistake to make (I’d imagine) given that’s how “Maurice” is typically pronounced in Ireland; most Americans, of course, pronounce it the way Steve Miller does.


Henry 07.21.10 at 3:32 pm

Corrected. I would love to be able to say that this was a cunning ploy on my part to deter Googlers rather than a straightforward boneheaded mistake. As well as pronouncing “Maurice” correctly, Irish people pronounce the surname “Moran” so that it sounds like “moron.” For some inexplicable reason, Americans with that surname seem to have coordinated on an alternative pronunciation. I imagine the same is true of Germans with the name “Boehner.” I’ve always wanted to do a TV interview on the Republican Congressional leadership so that I could pronounce it with the German oe sound, get corrected by the interviewer, and reply that if I had a name like Boner I’d be trying to get people to pronounce it Baner too.


Henry 07.21.10 at 3:34 pm

And Lizardbreath gets the prize – the Raven is mostly right, but Goldpepper is imprisoned in an alien denture factory (where he makes ill-fitting dentures with the hidden message so that it will come to the attention of the executive committee of the American Dentists Association or somesuch).


Walt 07.21.10 at 3:46 pm

There are some memories no amount of booze can erase, Cosma. Trust me, I’ve tried.


roac 07.21.10 at 3:56 pm

If I were Bill Gates I would put some serious money into a foundation devoted to republishing people like Avram Davidson. I recently came across one of his later novels (Peregrine Primus) in a thrift store, and was reminded after forty years just how impossibly erudite and funny the guy was.

(Unfortunately it was also clear why he died broke — he was just not that good at telling stories. This one book has more good ideas than most writers come up with in the course of a career, but he burns through them so fast the reader just can’t keep up.)

(Incidentally, on reading this post it occurred to me to wonder whether the Coen Brothers were thinking of Goldpepper when they incorporated the dentist who found Hebrew letters on the backs of patients’ teeth in A Serious Man.)


mds 07.21.10 at 5:30 pm

My dear Walt, I have no idea to what you could possibly be referring.

Hold on, Professor Shalizi. Are you claiming that events occuring while in Las Vegas are not to be referred to upon departure from same?


Cosma Shalizi 07.21.10 at 6:13 pm

10: That is why we have ether.


John Quiggin 07.21.10 at 8:21 pm

I guessed the fortune cookie story also, but Western hemisphere time imperialism means I didn’t get to post my answer first.


Ebenezer Scrooge 07.22.10 at 1:56 am

As long as the Republicans refer to the “Democrat Party”, I’m going to keep pronouncing Mr. Boehner’s name as “Boner”. It’s dreadfully junior high school, but then again, so is the Publican Party.


Salient 07.22.10 at 1:08 pm

Are you claiming that events occuring while in Las Vegas are not to be referred to upon departure from same?

Even more sinisterly, almost all events occurring while in Las Vegas cease to have occurred upon departure from same.* The wavefunction backscatters all along the city boundary.

[*] notable exceptions include marriages, impregnations, adoptions and childbirth


Josh 07.22.10 at 1:34 pm

Roac, He was great at telling stories; novels, not so consistently. But I’d argue that Peregrine: Primus and The Phoenix and the Mirror are awesome in part because they’re in a genre that you don’t expect from paperbacks marketed as sf.

There’s a good number of reasons why Davidson died in poverty: the midlist collapse, which eliminated the income of so many genre authors, would be a biggie, but he also had some self-sabotaging behaviors. He tended to promise sequels and never deliver; and he refused to let German-owned conglomerates publish his work.

Thanks for having made my day with this reference, Henry.


Theophylact 07.23.10 at 7:08 pm

And the original story (in Galaxy, if I remember rightly) had Don Martin illustrations!


Theophylact 07.23.10 at 9:16 pm

But there is also a marvelous story by Cyril Kornbluth, “Ms. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie”…


skidmarx 07.24.10 at 9:31 am

But that has only a Diagonal Relationship to the Answer Henry was seeking.


Mike Schilling 07.25.10 at 1:07 am

There’s a sequel called “Dr. Morris Goldpepper Returns”, also first published in Galaxy. It is, alas, not nearly as much fun.

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