To visit Martin's writing website, press here.

September 22, 2009

political statement

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. (H. G. Wells)

Every sixty seconds, thirty acres of rain forest are destroyed in order to raise beef for fast-food restaurants that sell it to people, giving them strokes and heart attacks, which raise medical costs and insurance rates, providing insurance companies with more money to invest in large corporations that branch out further into the Third World so they can destroy more rain forests. (George Carlin)

Corporations have been enthroned….An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people…until wealth is aggregated in a few hands…and the republic is destroyed. (Abraham Lincoln)
Our own dystopia, too, can only be detected from the outside - by “outsiders” who did not watch too much TV when they were young; who read a few good books and then, perhaps, had a Satori-like awakening while hiking through Mexico or India; who by some lucky twist of fate were not seduced by The Dream and recruited into the consumer cult of the insatiables. (Kalle Lasn)

Made you look, again.
Didn't I?

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Does this guy know how to spell?
Jeff: You mean the 'trials' business?
Mutt: Shouldn't it be the Roy Rogers salute?
Jeff: Yeah, well, he's perverse. Did you guess his name?
Mutt: I tried 'Elvis'.
Jeff: Did you win?
Mutt: Not even close. It was 'e' short for electronic, as in e-mail.
Jeff: E-male is more like it. Elf-a-male, Ha ha ha ha.
Mutt: Yeah, right. He's a virtual Studs Turtle. Ha ha ha ha.


September 18, 2009

religious statement

There is divine beauty in learning, just as there is human beauty in tolerance. To learn means to accept the postulate that life did not begin at my birth. Others have been here before me, and I walk in their footsteps. The books I have read were composed by generations of fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, teachers and their disciples. I am the sum total of their experiences, their quests. And so are you. (Elie Wiesel)

The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer -- they think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer. (Ken Kesey)

Zippy the Pinhead by Bill Griffith at

The Freight and Salvage Coffee House at

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor at

Made you look.

Happy trials, Martin

September 4, 2009

After introducing myself, in a C.V. sort of way, maybe I should talk about something else. Something of import. Coconuts, they're imported.

I don't get blogging. What could I write that anyone would want to read? Outrageous opinions or wise pronouncements: I'm fresh out. I'm not that funny, and I don't have any secret information. And if you want to read what I had for breakfast you're wasting your time.

Maybe that's what a blog is, a challenge. I dare you not to waste someone's time. I dare you to be interesting. I dare you to get read. Find a purpose for this empty space. Find a purpose for the empty space of the 77.5 years you might or might not get (slightly higher for females). Life is a blog? Oh, come off it.

Or maybe it's a gift. One of the wishes a genie would grant you. When in 6,000 years of history has anyone had a forum like this? An opportunity. Anyone on earth so inclined can read what I say, right now. That's scary.


Who's there?

Opportunity. (only knocks once)

I know. A blog is a hole. Go ahead, fill it.

Oops, maybe a deep hole six by three, a grave. Go ahead, fill it.

Or a whole hole full of gravy. Jump in and pull the rest of the hole in after you.

Mutt: Hey, man, what's the 'E' stand for?
Jeff: What?
Mutt: The 'E', y'know, before his name. What is that thing?
Jeff: Uh, I think it means he has a first name, but don't use it.
Mutt: So what is it?
Jeff: Guess.
Mutt: Screw you!

Please excuse Mutt's smuttiness and enter the E. contest, ten points to the first person who guesses what the E. stands for. Twenty points for the best lie.

Happy trials, Martin

title coming

I was visiting my cousin Drimay at Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel, and while I took a nap after lunch, she set up this blog for me. It seems a little too intimate, like inviting people into your bathroom, but I'll try to overcome my misgivings for the sake of communicative experimentation.

Somehow I got the impression that a blog is for bragging (another thing I have misgivings about), so here goes.

But first, a thank you to my parents, grandparents and teachers (examples: John Griffin, Phyllis Estes, Arthur Joquel, James Freeman, with a special mention to creative writing teachers Charles Clerc, Sam Hinton, Twilo Scofield, Ken Weisner, James D. Houston and Ben Percy) for having instilled in me a love of learning. If you read wikipedia for fun you know what I mean.

As a scholar and teacher, I am an interdisciplinarian. That means I'm interested in connections and interactions between disciplines like language, literature, music, history, folklore, education, and American culture in general. Probably my obsession with my homeland comes from having lived and taught in Italy for thirty years. I have also taught Vietnamese refugees and in Zimbabwe, Egypt, Mexico, and California, including my first job at 16 teaching juvenile prisoners to read.

I graduated from Fresno City College, University of the Pacific, San Francisco State University and San Jose State University. I also attended (summers) University of California Santa Cruz, Sacramento State University, Foothill College and College of the Redwoods (Mendocino Coast Campus). And I've done research at Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, Fresno State University and University of California Davis.

From all this study came a number of academic articles, some practical some theorical, with titles like: “The Dreary Life of the Cowboy,” (winner of the 1998 EdPress award for best feature article in a U.S. academic/pedagogical journal) “Paul Bunyan between Scylla and Charybdis,” “Dressing the Skeleton,” “Was Tom Jack?” “The Music Changed at Fort Wagner,” “Storytelling and the Art of Teaching,” “Ending the Yarn,” “Factlore, Fakelore, or Folklore,” “The Poet Lariats,” “The Hellenic League Plays in the New World,” and “‘Tally Ho!’ or ‘There goes the little son of a bitch’.”

I also wrote the non-fiction books: Hear America Sing, You Tell ‘Em Jack, Writing the English Essay, Singlish, and Oltre Stelle e Strisce. (available from the author)

Besides this non-fiction, I've always done creative writing. For the last decade I've dedicated myself to it almost exclusively, producing three novels: Avvocato Ottavio Faranda di Rocca Ginepro, Heal Thyself, and The Basement Tapes (currently unavailable). Right now I'm working on a novel called The Hundred-Year-Old Senora. I've written much and published little: poems, musicals and plays, short stories, songs.

Hopefully, this 'going public' aspect of blogging will help me decide to dedicate the necessary time to sending out things for publication instead of keeping them in my basement.

I will also consider publishing right here.

So have I told you who I am? No, just hiding behind a mask, one of several. Better luck next time.
Happy trials, Martin.