Category Archives: writing

a good kick in the blog-pants

I find my spam comments in-box incredibly inspirational and I’m disappointed in myself for having forgotten to check it for such a long time. Clearly this is the reason for my silence over here! One of them, at least. I’ve been blogging over on my food blog pretty regularly lately but I’ve got a funny problem that’s disproportionately affected this one, apart from the usual moods and illness and day-job stuff: My w on my keyboard is broken. I snipped that one from a recipe for mango pickle I happen to have open in another tab. I’ve become adept at scavenging for this letter. Needing a big one is much more problematic but I incidentally mentioned Edith Wharton on my food blog the other day so at least that’s there if I need it. I could simply buy a replacement keyboard, of course, but I’d like to get a . . . hmm . . . cord-free one that I can use in connection ith shit alongside both my big desktop computer and my iPad, and I’d like to research my options a bit before buying. A tedious little project, as I’m not very interested in shopping for things like this. Then I noticed that blog-friend A beguiled slim alien (that is not really his name) is making lipograms and naturally I thought, suppose I never buy a replacement? At the very least I should give this more time to see if I can use it to my advantage.

My spam comments inevitably push me to reconsider things in this exact same manner. They are consistently inventive in language usage and often very funny too, and I find the combination irresistible and inspiring. Seriously, if you don’t have a blog, think about starting one solely for the purpose of harvesting spam comments. Here are the ones I have at present (after discarding the useless and irredeemably dull ones, the ones that are just links and the ones about SEO something blah blah):

Lunar Camel Co. spam comments

Lunar Camel Co. spam comments part 2

Click either image to enlarge. I’ve blurred the email and IP addresses because even spammers have a reasonable expectation of privacy there.

So many ideas and lessons! The fact that they’re about hard-on pills, escorts, and headphones also, I admit, tickles my blogger parts. They generally are this flavor. I like to think there is a subtle but discernible hint of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll around here and apparently there is. If my spam tilted more in the direction of moms earning $2000 a day at home I’d feel a need to do some inner searching. But back to the ideas.

1. Addled syntax can be super-exciting. It tends to lose something if made intentionally, but that’s all the more reason to practice and to experiment and to learn to cover your tracks. Being nimble, spontaneous-seeming and intentionally playful is damn hard to pull off in part because none of those qualities should be obviously being pulled off.

2. If you’re going to blog about topical topics, bring a fresh perspective to them. Zombie attack jokes are very cheap at the moment. The paranoid edge to the zombie references in my spam here is genuinely off-kilter in a manner that’s hard to fake, and that makes them more intriguing. Alongside the doom and gloom in both of them is a strange vision of something transcendent: “an unexpected getting” and “a good unsuspected becoming.” I believe both are meant to evoke innocent people placidly minding their business, but if so there is a curious sense of transit on their part, a sense of movement amidst their calm, and an implication that the actions being talked about have not stopped occurring. It’s a challenging idea to get one’s mind around and, I think, an interesting one.

3. An under-used bit of vocabulary can pack a big punch if thoughtfully deployed. I’m talking about the use of “devilry” in the last one there, the Slendertone link. Very nicely done.

4. Flattering your reader can be embarrassing for both parties but that doesn’t make it a bad thing. I take a small but genuine pleasure in thinking of myself as “an overly skilled blogger” and “thus cool,” even if it’s only robots and jaded, spotty Uzbeki teens saying so.

5. Being mysterious but not coy is tricky but should be attempted. To say that “[c]ertain 3 areas in this article are definitely the very best” but not specify the areas doesn’t cut it for me, but there’s room for improvement.

6. An unaffectedly simple question can have a devastating effect. The one inquiring about my method(s) for making my blog froze me in my seat because I truly have no idea. Surely this commenter didn’t mean coding, surely he or she meant something more nebulous? But those aspects of it are not any less opaque to me than they are to anyone else. I’m going to try not to get hung up on this at the moment and focus on making use of some of these other lessons instead.