Spam Poetry by Omarah Martinez

Make Use of Gal Gaga!

Indeed, I shall.

Submitted by: *

Thailand vacation x    
Submitted on 2013/05/03 at 1:30 am

Constantly handle it up!You realize
as a result drastically regarding
the following matter,

produced my family
personally accept it by
numerous a variety
of facets.

It has the
for instance
individuals aren’t engaged
until it is
actually think about

make use of Gal gaga!

Your very own things

Constantly handle it up!

*Editor’s Note: The author’s submission via Akismet was originally one block of text; the breaks into lines of poetry were added by me. I like to think that I was merely serving as midwife to bring Omarah’s creative vision fully to life.

In Which the Gecko Barks About Books

A Cub Scout Reading and Writing Merit Badge. I was never a scout -- or a Weblo *snigger* -- but if I was, I would have had this badge.A Life Less Ordinary? Check. But It’s Books and Writing That Float My Boat

I suppose I have lead a life less ordinary – not a fantastic life, or one worthy of particular note, no — not the stuff of books. But I’ve taken roads less traveled that have taken me far away from my MidWestern, suburban American roots. Such is the life of a journalist with a penchant for wanderlust, I suppose.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, when left to my own devices, two of the things I like to do are read books and write about books, which one can do anywhere. Perhaps I should have minored in journalism and majored in English back in college — fewer reporter’s notebooks and more books.

But then it’s journalism that set me on those Bobby Frost paths less traveled (a metaphor I’ve employed befor). I sometimes wonder if it was my experiences as a journalist that gave me wanderlust, or was it an inherently restless nature that was subsequently fed/exacerbated by writing gigs? I suspect the latter. Maybe it was a book that I read as an impressionable child.

*cough* Tolkien *cough*

In any event I do know – unless we assume the depressing idea of fate and predestination – that were it not for my travel experiences as a journalist — namely a month spent in China — I doubt I would have ever pursued a career in teaching ESL as a means of living abroad. Whether that continues to develop into some sort of second career, or not, remains to be seen. But if it does, it will always be an offshoot of my first career in a very direct way.

I need to find a faux pen and ink drawing of a keyboard; I think that would be a more apt symbol than ye olde feathered quill and ink. But I suppose it’s irrelevant at this point; I do what I do. And lately, in my free time, as the quadriceps tendon snafu settles down, that’s been reading and writing (but no arithmetic) — reading books and writing about books.

I don’t want to repeat myself too much though; let it suffice to say that Barking Book Reviews has gotten a lot of attention from me as of late; most recently it was to review the latest from one of my favorites: The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, by Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Consequently, Barking Book Reviews has been getting some interesting attention from without, which you can read about on my quote-unquote professional site.

As I note there, where will it lead, if anywhere? And to what end? I don’t know. But here’s to hoping it continues to be unexpected and a bit out of the ordinary.

Confessions of a Compulsive Bibliolater

A blurry pile of books: too much bibliolation and you'll go blind. Check it out. I don’t just sit around in front of the computer whining into the cold and uncaring electronic ether about my torn quadriceps tendon. I also sit in front of the computer and prattle on about books.

Other people amuse themselves with Angry Birds and Facebook; I amuse myself by writing book reviews and other whatnot about books. To each their own. Everyone needs a hobby, and this one keeps me off the streets, and is somewhat slightly more legitimate and socially redeeming than spending that time playing video games (another thing with which I’ve been known to fritter away my precious life’s days).

And gods know I’ve had plenty of time for reading, as of late. So if you have any interest in old-school science fiction, namely Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, or just want to see what floats my literary boat in general – science fiction being just one wave upon those waters – just one aspect of many within my bibliolatrous enthusiasm – check out Barking Book Reviews.

Which may soon be renamed Confessions of a Compulsive Bibliolater.

Because I’m a bibliolatin’ sumbitch. I can’t stop with the compulsive bibliolation. Day in, day out. Even now, at age 43, sometimes I do it two or three times a day. But I’m not a biblioklept; I duly pay for my habit.

Cross Posting Love: Barking Book Reviews

The Gecko's Bark presents: Barking Book Reviews -- pretty slick, huh? So I’ve pledged myself posting something here every day — well, at least five days as week. But between my new book review site, Barking Book Reviews, and my so-called professional site where I pontificate about WordPress (among other things), Jeff Chappell dot com, both of which I just got up and running recently, I’ve neglected the Gecko’s Bark.

It’s been an interesting few weeks for politics and cycling, to be sure; I’ve got some catching up to do. Tomorrow.

In the meantime, it’s time for some cross posting love — some blogasmic cross pollination. Here’s a sample from the latest on Barking Book Reviews, a review on Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City:

At it’s core, if we strip it of most of its fantastical elements, Zoo City is a arguably just a crime drama – a so-called hardboiled thriller. Or so some blurb writers might have us believe – as well as whoever wrote Lauren Beukes’ Wikipedia entry. But even without the element of mashavi manifested as animals that criminals must bear as they go about their daily lives – imagine Hester Prynne having a scarlet ibis flapping along behind her throughout Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter – Beukes’ second novel is more than just a well-written thriller set in the seedier side of present-day Johannesburg.

Beukes, a self-described recovering journalist, has obviously put her Fourth Estate skills to work and put together an entertaining and rich yet subtle commentary on prejudice, culture and society interwoven with a work of gritty or realistic urban fantasy. Indeed, Zoo City owes more to Gibson and Gaiman than Tolkien and Lewis, to be sure. It’s also a credit to Beukes as an author that a work that could have  easily been formulaic and derivative is actually original and eminently readable.

Argh, I just spied a needed copy-edit in that quote and needed to go fix it. Show me a writer who edits his own copy, and I’ll show you a someone who has a damned fool for an editor.

Anyway, good stuff, no? To read the entire Zoo City review, follow the link above or head on over to Barking Book Reviews. Barking … Gecko’s Bark … get it?

Living in the Future is Cool

Okay the Internet is great and all, but where the hell is my Jetsons car? So, I don’t have the jetpack or the flying car that as a child in the ’70s I imagined I would have in the far-flung future of the Twenty First Century. Nor am I a colonist living on Mars, or even Moonbase Alpha, and 1999 has come and gone.

Nevertheless, living in the future is cool. I’m hardly the first person to make this observation, and I’m sure everyone who has witnessed dramatic changes in their lifetime have made similar observations. Imagine a woman who grew up in the 1870s seeing automobiles become commonplace by the time she reached middle age.

You could go back even earlier; imagine the soldier thousands of years ago marveling at the iron weapons that had replaced bronze. I’m sure the caveman who grew up freezing his butt off in a cave as a kid thought having a fire to warm his bones in his old age was pretty damn amazing.

The other day I was writing a post for this other Jeff Chappell Website, drawing a parallel between a small but ultimately tragic flaw I inadvertently introduced into some PHP code and the tragic flaws of Shakespearean characters. Why? Because I can; it’s just sorta my thing – Shakespeare, parody, etc.

Anyhow, I found myself trying to recall a quote from Hamlet. In the not-so-distant past I would have had to go to the library and peruse a copy of the Bard’s tragedy; I used to have my own copy but it got lost in a post-collegiate move from one geographic location to another with a box of other books. I probably would have ended up rereading most if not all of the entirety of Hamlet to find said quote – all told it would probably have taken several hours of an afternoon or evening to find said quote. If I were lucky I might have found it in a book of quotations of course, saving myself an hour or two.

Space 1999's Moonbase Alpha: maybe Shakespeare would have set a tragedy on the moon, had been born later -- much later.But, fortunately for me, I live in the freakin’ future. Three minutes spent Googling and I had the Hamlet quote in question, which you can read if you follow the link above. Then I perused the Wikipedia entry for Hamlet, looking for related artwork, and learned out all about the history of the play’s production over the centuries, learning things that I hadn’t learned in various high school and college English classes. In fact I think if you printed it out line for line, the Wikipedia entry on Hamlet is probably longer than the play itself.

I wonder what the Bard would think of having all this information at his fingertips? Probably that living in the future was pretty damn cool.

On the other hand this begs the question of what Shakespeare would be today, if all other factors in his life were – relatively, heh – equal. Would he still be a playwright? Would he self-produce his plays, record them and put them upon Youtube? Would the mediums and technology available today fundamentally change the plays and sonnets he produced?

One wonders …

Farewell to Denis Dutton, Arts & Letters Daily Founder, Editor

author and Arts & Letters Daily founder and editor Denis DuttonI just learned today that the founder of Arts & Letters Daily, Denis Dutton, died December 28. I confess I didn’t know who he was until after I spied “Denis Dutton, founder of ‘Arts & Letters Daily,’ has died” on Boing Boing. But I have been a long-time reader of Arts & Letters Daily.

Until I moved abroad at the beginning of this year, I usually consumed A&L Daily just that, daily, along with my cubanos at my local coffee shop, after I had checked my email and the news headlines. I can’t remember how I discovered A&L at first, but was pleasantly surprised to find it: a website resembling a newspaper broadsheet from a couple centuries ago, with links to interesting, thought-provoking articles covering all aspects of art, culture and politics.

Something other than porn, Matt Drudge, Gawker, and Lolcats. No way!

I never really gave much thought to operated it. By the time I discovered it – apparently Dutton started it in 1998 – it was owned by the Chronicle of Higher Education; I always just assumed it was some eggheads there that operated A&L Daily. Dutton continued to run A&L Daily after the Chronicle purchased it in 2002, hand-picking all the linked content, and writing the headline links and blurbs that appeared on the site – apparently right on up to the moment he died of cancer a few days ago.

I was surprised to learn that A&L Daily – such an astute observer and aggregator of … well, arts and letters, of all things on the Internet, that I was surprised to learn that it was founded and run by a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand who is, or rather was, 24 years my senior. How cool is that? As I naturally ponder age and death at this time of year, it is comforting to learn that age doesn’t have to equal irrelevancy.

But then, as I’m learning from the New Yorker and other sources, Denis Dutton was a pretty hip old guy. As I ponder the future and what I want to do in it, I’ll take his life as an inspiration.

Just last year he published a book that attempts to elucidate a Darwinian theory of art – an apt subject for a professor of philosophy and the curator of Arts & Letters Daily. I think The Art Instinct will be the next book to be added to my Kindle.

Wherever you now dwell, Mr. Dutton, you have my thanks, for entertaining me with A&L Daily, and now for the inspiration. Godspeed.

As for Arts and Letters Daily, his Dutton’s colleagues at the Chronicle of Higher Education have pledged to carry on. While I have faith, of course it won’t be quite the same, I’m sure, without Dutton behind the keyboard.

“I’m quite illiterate, but I read a lot.”

I’m sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.

J. D. Salinger: 1919-2010. Say hello to Somerset Maugham, would you?And so you die, and the world is left just a little more wanting than it was before, or so I feel — even though you were in this world but not really of it, I suspect. Strange that I should be so saddened by the death of someone that I never met, who wrote a handful of books and short stories before I was born. But like so many youths, you spoke to me through Holden — here was someone who wasn’t phony (to use Holden’s term); here was someone who actually understood. In a world overwhelmed with bullshit, here was a sliver of truth. And unlike so many youths who go on to acquiesce to or otherwise be absorbed by the seemingly inherent phoniness of adulthood and maturity, you carried the banner until your death at 91. You retreated in the face of overwhelming odds to your “cabin in the west” much like Holden yearned to do, choosing solitude over surrender. You fought the good fight in your own way until the end; for this, I salute you.

It was a very stupid thing to do, I’ll admit, but I hardly didn’t even know I was doing it.

You never sold the movie rights to Catcher in the Rye; never let it be raped and ransacked by Hollywood. You never let it be cheapened for the quick, easy money. You never sold it out — cliché, I know, but nevertheless for this I am ever thankful (unlike myself and so many others, you learned from your mistakes). So I shudder to think what might happen to your creation now that you are gone. Who will protect Holden from the phonies now? Who will pick up your banner now that you have dropped it?

I recall your daughter writing a nasty memoir suggesting that you were an awful father; I never read it, but suspect that you probably were. That doesn’t change the esteem I have for you as an author. I wonder if your survivors are already talking to Hollywood about the film rights to your work; the thought both saddens and angers me to no end. I take solace in the fact that your works won’t be in the public domain until 2080, long after I’ll be dead myself. If you were smart — and I suspect you were — then Holden is safe for the next 70 years, at least, whatever your heirs might do.

Goddam money. It always ends up making you blue as hell.

If they do defile your work while there is still breath in my lungs, I for one will not see it; Holden will forever remain as he is pictured in my mind’s eye. And since I find myself here in Sai Gon at the moment — you’d be amused to know that I should be studying this morning, but instead I’m sitting in a cafe wasting time writing this — I will burn a joss stick in your honor this evening. Perhaps I will even make an impromptu altar to you, if I can find an illegal, xeroxed copy of Catcher In the Rye mixed in between copies of Lonely Planet Thailand and the latest Dan Brown defecations that can be found among the “book” sellers (and hookers and pimps and “masseurs” and drug dealers and motorbike taxi drivers oh my!) that haunt Pham Ngu Lau by night. These two things are the least I can do for someone that gave me such a gift as Catcher.

J.D. Salinger 1919-2010

An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.

Interstitial Chevette

the cover of William Gibson's All Tomorrow's PartiesThe wind tugs at her hair, longer now than when she lived here, and a feeling that she can’t name comes like something she has always known, and she has no interest climbing farther, because she knows now that the home she remembers is no longer there. Only its shell, humming in the wind, where once she lay wrapped in blankets, smelling machinist’s grease and coffee and fresh-cut wood.

Where, it comes to her, she was sometimes happy, in the sense of being somehow complete, and ready for what another day might bring.

And knows she is no longer that, and that while she was, she scarcely knew it.

William Gibson, All Tomorrow’s Parties

And it was ever thus. We can never go home again. We must keep moving.

On the Road at 3 a.m. with Bobby and Beth

I heart Beth Orton.What is it about the open road at night — nothing but moon and starlight, the hum of tires on lonely asphalt, and the occasional snippet of summer insect song through an open window as I drive along — that soothes my restless soul?

What is it about the humid, warm wind rushing through my hair and over my face as the soft, silky voice of a British siren whispers in my ear through the windy din, that brings peace to my restless heart?

Even with no particular place to go, and the knowledge that I’ll have to turn around and point myself towards “home” eventually, well before the dawn comes — what is it about this suspended, sublime moment of sound and motion that brings solace?

Is motion, even with no destination, a balm for restlessness? Does it hearken back to the comfort of floating in the dark, warm comfort of the womb? Or is there some primordial memory imprinted in my deoxyribonucleic acids that recalls what it was like to constantly be on the move, a nomad whose very life depended on movement? Or does it hearken to something even farther back, some distant recollection etched in the molecules and atoms of my being: that of constantly cruising through dim, newly-formed seas from birth until death, the wind of the highway standing in for the flow of salt water over my bony, smooth flesh?

What is in me, that the only times I seem to feel truly at peace, the only time that I feel truly at home — at peace with myself and the world — is when I’m headed away from it? It hasn’t mattered where home has been, or who might be waiting there — doesn’t matter which side of the continent, rural or urban – it’s always been this way. What is in me that always seems compelled to see what’s over the next hill, or the next horizon — that is sometimes compelled to just leave at a moment’s notice? That only feels content on a bicycle, car, or plane that’s pointed away from where I’ve been?

These are thoughts that flit through my mind as Beth Orton croons to me of love, death, and loss at 3:30 a.m. on a random highway headed west. Central Reservation has to be one of the best road albums ever, but then it’s very name speaks of the road. I eventually stop at a Waffle House in the middle of Nowhere, Indiana, to get something to eat, and there were two gentlemen in there having breakfast before beginning their respective work days. One was a public school janitor; I couldn’t suss out what the other guy did.

I couldn’t help but think that here were to guys, probably with houses and the corresponding mortgages, families, and responsibilities. They couldn’t decide to take off and hit the road on the wrong side of midnight on a weekday, just because they felt like it; just because it felt good to be moving. And here I was, a guy more or less the same age as these two, only marginally employed thanks to the current economy, with no healthcare — but no bills or other responsibilities, who could just take off at a whim.

And I think how I wouldn’t trade places with either of these two guys, how I feel sorry for them, although they don’t seem like they were sorry for themselves (but then who knows what lurks behind their eyes).


Now, the magic spell of the road is broken as I point the Subaru back toward home (there’s that strange word again). Now my mind races ahead of the car, the voodoo charm of motion having warn off — scattered, smothered, and covered by a chance encounter at a highway restaurant. Now I think of my father, and how sometimes, when I was a kid, seemingly at random (but almost always on a weekend), he would ask if I wanted to go for a car ride — no destination, no particular reason; he just felt like driving. This most often took place when I was a child, but sometimes it would happen even after I had grown into an adult, on up to the months before he died.

Did he feel that restlessness? Did I inherit it from him? Did he ever find himself hurtling down some isolated highway in the small hours before sunrise, the warm, somewhat sultry voice of a woman he’s never met his only companion, and find a brief enlightenment? Did he regret choices that kept him from being unfettered, from being able to take to the road whenever he wished? Did he miss the freedom of his postwar, post-collegiate self, the gleaming red Studebaker taking him whither he will? I recall his stories of those seemingly idyllic days, and I wonder.

Or does it come from my mother? She of the Northern Irish and Scottish blood, the blood of poets, blood that waxes and wanes across centuries, sometimes in thrall, sometimes free — bending but never breaking, sometimes turning the other cheek, sometimes gladly turning to fight (blood that now flows in my veins)? A depression-era child that watched cancer claim her father only a few short years after she was born, did she ever find that the familial ties that brought comfort then only brought chafing and constraints later in life? Mother that kept a copy of Rand’s The Fountainhead buried on her bookshelf amidst family photos, myriad self help books, bibles and dusty old encyclopedias — a copy that she quietly replaced after I took it home to the Great White North to finish reading, having discovered it on my first Christmas home after college.

There was more to her than I ever knew.

Am I more like them than I ever realized? Is my instinctive fear of life’s metaphorical anchors and chains inherited? Did they feel restless in the small hours of the night? What recourse did they have if they did? They were always there when I awoke as a child — was I a tie that binded them?

Sometimes I rue having been an accident, a gynecologist’s miscalculation, having been born so late in their lives. It seems like I barely got to an age — and if there is any blame to bear for this, it lies with me — where I could appreciate my parents as fellow adults, as distinct human beings — and as friends — before age, infirmity, and death claimed them. On one hand, I’m almost ashamed to say that in one sense I feel free now that my father is gone; there is nothing keeping me here now and I’m truly free to wander whither I will (if I only I had that sweet Studebaker). On the other, I’d pay anything — oh, I’d pay dearly and gladly — for more time with both of them, even just a precious hour or two.

I heart Robert Frost, too. Of course there is no one to ask, now, about these existential 3 a.m. questions  — no one to ask when I wander in the dark, why I wander in the dark. Why I only feel at peace when I do. Why it is only motion that ever drives away the vague angst that settled in my gut in my teenage years — as it seemingly does for everyone — and never left me.

But then, does it even matter? Should it matter? Perhaps, sometimes, it is best not to wonder why we wander, why we travel through the woods on a snowy evening, or whether we will be seen by the land owner. Rather, we should simply revel in woods that “are lovely, dark, and deep,” living in that moment, not worrying about the promises to keep and the miles to go before we sleep — there is time enough for that in the still, sterile light of day.

Ole Bobby Frost, he knew a thing or two about angst, restlessness and 3 a.m. There must have been some Irish or Scotts in the woodpile somewhere in his family history, I’ll wager.

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

No, Not Even Close

J. D. Salinger is no John Hughes.Okay, so far today (well, it’s still today to me, as in Thursday, but I suppose that technically, it is Friday and has been for nearly six hours … ah, the joys of being marginally employed AND telecommuting) I’ve read and or heard people compare John Hughes to no less than Chekhov and Salinger. I have only one thing to say about that. Several things, actually — more than several. And here they are:

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. And finally, just let me emphasize … no. Not. Even. Close.

Look, I’m sorry he’s dead, okay? Death sucks; I’ve had a ring-side seat for it a few times now, so trust me on this one. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Really. But he apparently went quick, no lingering in a hospital being poked and prodded and toyed with like a lab rat, only to have his suffering prolonged. So there’s that. And he made it to 59. Okay, that’s well under par for Western standards, but for much if not a majority of the world, that’s a ripe old age; most people in Asia and Africa are damn lucky to see 59 years.

Nope, not a John Hughes movie. And I realize his fans were legion; I guess I’m the only Gen X’er who made it out of the ’80s thinking that his movies were at best, okay, and at worst, sucked ass (in a bad way, as a girl I used to date would say — ah, I still carry a torch for you, Brandy). This is the man responsible for the Home Alone franchise, after all. Okay, for all of those people that will accuse me of being negative, I’ll say this: his movies were better than Armageddon or anything touched by Jerry Yuckheimer; the Breakfast Club didn’t make me want to stick a fork in my eye. And I really liked Say Anything . Oh, wait, yeah, that was Cameron Crowe, wasn’t it? Your Honor, the defense rests.

Okay, in all honesty, there are a few pieces of the Hughes oeuvre I genuinely like: Vacation. That’s good stuff (he was the writer but not the director on that one).  Ferris Bueller had a few moments, granted.  And the fact that he authored The National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody with P.J. O’Rourke way back when almost makes up for the Home Alone franchise. If you find this in a used book store, buy it; you won’t be disappointed. And then send it to me; I haven’t read it since my j-school days in college.

But please, comparing John Hughes to Anton Chekhov or J.D. Salinger is like comparing the Monkees to Mozart. I don’t care how much 16 Candles or any of his other flicks tickled your angsty adolescent fancy. Just because they may have explored some of the same issues and themes does not an apt comparison make. The Monkees made a few clever pop tunes — I even liked “Pleasant Valley Sunday” — but Mozart was a musical genius. And this wasn’t some moron on an Internet chat board or some random wall posting on Assbook. I quote from the Associated Press story:

A native of Lansing, Michigan, who moved to suburban Chicago and set much of his work there, Hughes rose from comedy writer to ad writer to silver screen champ with his affectionate and idealized portraits of teens, whether the romantic and sexual insecurity of “Sixteen Candles,” or the J.D. Salinger-esque rebellion against conformity in “The Breakfast Club.”

Anton Chekhov. NOT John Hughes in the '70s. No. The Breakfast Club is nothing even close to or remotely resembling Catcher in the Rye. No. Not. Even. Close. Although I guess Chekhov did kinda look like John Hughes. Of course, maybe they’re somewhere in the next world, knocking back vodka and Chekhov is saying “No really, I thought it was an apt comparison. I’m flattered, really.”

Or not.  In any event, it’s getting light out, and birds are chirping. I should probably go to bed.