Meet Jane Austen

.This doctored photo is further proof that I, Theric, am awesome.

In my desperate search for shorts to wear at my new job, I compromised my standards and finally caught up with the now decade-old style of leggings with ginormous pockets. I quickly became enamored with said pockets when I learned I could keep my wallet, keys, eyedrops, chapstick, sunglasses case, miscellaneous papers, etc in them and not carry a bag with me.

After the first day on the job, I learned I would also need a book to help fill the hours.

I could fit a standard trade paperback but could not then button the pocket, and my ability to carry both a standard trade paperback and all my other paraphernalia was doubtful. What's a Theric to do?

Enter the Devil's Den. A while ago they were selling these small, well-made hardbacks of classic novels with ribbon bookmarks built in (perhaps they're still there). I picked up four of them, two of which were quite skinny.

I started with readingThe Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, a volume I had never read before. But I finished it yesterday. So...on to skinny book two....


I should admit I have never gotten around to reading any Austen before. So I suppose it's time. And Persuasion was recently plugged on some blog (Nem's? Katya's? Can't remember; don't want to look and hap across spoilers.) in such a way as to make it quite appealing. So no problem! A perfect book to pick up!


For those of you not 100% vested in my life, let me remind you that I am now a Burly P.E. Guy. Coach Theric, they call me. (Coach Theric!) I'm not sure, but I don't think Jane Austen is really appropriate reading material for Burly P.E. Guys. (Coach Goat is reading Catch-22, for instance.)

But I took it today anyway.

And it's pretty good so far. I love Anne and want to strangle her sisters and have gotten over the heavy exposition and am certain the Captain feels the same way (as Anne, not about the exposition).

But I've lost all my P.E. cred.

Wuss Theric, they'll be calling me next week.

It's probably more accurate anyway.


A time for outrage


Now the administration has taken things too far.

According to today's New York Times, acting only on evidence no greater than a single wire-tapped call and an extrapolation of their inadvertent involvement in drug smuggling, the White House has determined that puppies are a viable terror threat and is using such allegations to justify these recently uncovered behaviors:

George W. Bush: Calls puppies disrespectful names and threatens to make them an alternative fuel source.

Donald H. Rumsfeld: Yanks puppy tails. Plays fetch with puppies and WMDs.

Alberto Gonzales: Tries oral arguments out on puppies before appearing before the Supreme Court.

Condoleeza Rice : Bathes in the blood of puppies to maintain her healthful glow.

Former White House guard Steven Millhause is quoted as saying, "Puppies go in but they don't go out."

Now, I've thought long and hard about this, and I've finally come up with three valid uses for puppies (1, 2 and 3) but this stuff's beyond the pale.

Get involved. Write your congressman.




I'm am not alone in my infrequent posting of late. Glancing at the list to the left suggests that half my blogging pals have also become more reticent of late. Therefore, as a public service to all of us, I present Thmazing's List of Ways to Be a Prolific Blogger:

Thmazing's List of Ways to Be a Prolific Blogger

1. Have no qualms.
    Qualms are kind of like morals in that they slow you down. Get rid of them!
2. Don't rely on sense.
    Simply put, if you have to make sense, you will not be prolific. Get over it.
3. Create crap.
    There are dozens of websites dedicated to helping you learn what sort of vegetable you are, which pirate you would like to make love to, and which screenwriter would best butcher your life. I admit I have not taken full advantage of these websites, but you should. You'll never have to think again, yet you will still be the most prolific blogger on the block.
4. Be shortwinded.
    Why tell a story in one post when you can serialize?
5. Steal.
    Copy and paste is a beautiful thing.
6. Make lists.
    I swear. Easiest road to prolificity ever.

The Sibs


Though my no means am I about to provide a Cicadian breakdown of my family, since they have started coming up, I feel I had better give them some blogonyms. Here we are:

1. Theric, m
2. Canary, f
3. Reb, m
4. Braj, m
5. Giggles, f
6. Wyote, m

Sibs, the blogosphere.


Madness creeps


It sneaks along

it comes up

it taps your shoulder

then it runs away.

Madness creeps

It sneaks along

it comes up

it taps your shoulder

then it runs away.

Madness creeps

It sneaks along

it comes up

it taps your shoulder

then it runs away.

Madness creeps

It sneaks along

it comes up

it taps your shoulder

then it runs away.

Madness creeps

It sneaks along

it comes up

it taps your shoulder

then it runs away.

Madness creeps

It sneaks along

it comes up

it taps your shoulder

then it runs away.

And then it has you.

Madness creeps


A visit to Vegas


In my mind, shallow thing that it is, we went to Vegas last week to visit Cousin Sbook and his dear wife Mrs. Sbook, but the truth is, I went to Vegas because I lost a bet. With traffic that is. My trip was the most recent in the series of disasters that began with a bruised thigh. Let's get that part of our trip out of the way first:
    We arrived in Vegas late Thursday night. I arose reasonably early the next morning and drove to the courthouse, a nice new building. I had to take off my belt when I went through security because, as they wrung from me during cross-examination, I am not an attorney.

    Parking had taken hideously longer. I spent, gosh, half an hour? driving around looking for a parking spot. I finally resigned myself to taking a two-hour spot, loading up the meter, and hoping it would be enough time and I could leave Vegas without an further ticket to add to my collection. Having made that decision I lucked out with a free two-hour spot, parked, crossed my fingers, walked to court.

    After passing though security, I was nearly immediately in the traffic portion of the building. I took a number from a lady who said, "This is a municipal one--they go quick. Hurry over to the windows." And she was right. Before I got five paces my number was called. I sat down, pled nolo contendere, paid $280, learned about traffic school, and was gone. I easy spent five times more time looking for parking.
Anyway, the Sbooks.

It is to my everlasting regret that we Thteeds did not whoosh over to the reasonably nearby Sbooks with greater frequency (eg, more than twice, say three times). Few indeed are the people I like more.

(And besides, we could have rendezvoused in December when Vegas does not burst thermometers at 117° [121° in Baker on our way home].)

I could go on and on about the Sbooks, starting with their excellent book collection (their library), the kangaroo paw on the wall you can make wishes on, their taste in films (can you say, "Y'know, for kids!"), their darling daughters, etc etc etc.

Granted, there are some mysteries remaining about them--what happened to their children's schwas, for instance--but these miss the point.

I suspect that family ties can bind our souls tighter than distance or time can ever undo. This theory is not born out with all my cousins, alas, but since Cousin Sbook became a military man, I have seen neither him nor his five times. However! I still consider it completely fair to call him one of my best friends.

Granted, we have a lot (a lot) in common. But I have much less in common with his sister and her husband, yet consider them top friends as well.

There is some complicated math going on here that I can't unravel, but though I may not be able to find my way backwards to the formula, the answer to the equation is clear: Family is forever. Not Vegas, not 117°, not driving reticence, not three years, not a thousand miles can diminish our relationship. They don't allow for much growth, to be sure, but Sbooks and Thteeds are a match all the same. Everytime we meet them I am reminded of this.

But I hate that I need such reminders.

I hereby resolve to remember.

(Don't let me forget.)


Svithe: Acceptable sacrifice


My brother Braj came home from his mission on the fifteenth, and watching him adjust to America has helped me remember my own homecoming nine years ago. After arrival, I immediately became horribly ill and so most of the details of those first few back-in-America months are lost to me. But I love seeing him--how he is the same person (often in surprising ways), yet he is also more.

One thing I do remember was sitting on the plane in Cheju, having just said goodbye to all my Cheju friends and my now former companion and knowing it was all over. There is nothing like Too Late to make one wonder how close to 100% one's efforts were--to analyze what more could have been done. I was sitting on the plane, praying, worrying over the worth of my two years of service when a song came into my head. It wasn't a hymn. It wasn't approved listening at all. It was a song off a tape one of my Korean friends had on endless repeat in his car to learn English. The tape consisted of American standards and classics of soft rock sung by celebrity fakes. The song in question was "My Way" as sung by a phony Frank Sinatra--a song I had never heard before my mission. And as strange it may seem, that anthem to individuality was the Lord's expression to me that he accepted my service--and that it was given in my way made it acceptable. That what he had wanted to me to do: to be a missionary my way. The Lord didn't want some guy to do some stuff, he wanted me to do stuff and to do it my way. That meant a lot to me. That means a lot to me.


At age 78, Mary Alice Hansen
    found herself serving as a host in the Church Office Building, as well as a worker in the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center.

    She served in both capacities many times during the week for several decades until one day, when she was 99 years old, she fell and broke her hip and wrist. . . .

    Sister Hansen returned less than three months later--walking without a cane. Sister Hansen continued to serve until she was released May 18 at age 102.

Well, Theric? What have you done lately?

Last week's svithe

Visit The Weekly Svithe


Two post special: Theric P.I. & Adulthood


Theric P.I.


I am boldI got a job teaching summer school at a high school I can walk to from our apartment. When I got the job, it was for English 9 and World History. I chose those out of options that included Algebra, Life Science, Physical Science, and I don't remember what else. I was cool with all but Algebra--I can't imagine teaching a year of Algebra in three weeks.

I can't imagine teaching a year of Algebra.

How does one teach math?

Anyway, then I got a call and my schedule was changed to English 9 and English 11.

Then it changed to PE.

So now I do six hours of PE a day, in tandem with three other teachers and hundreds of students. I'm sure I'll blog more about this later, but so far, in two days, I have accomplished the following:
  • Sunburn
  • A one-act play
  • Half a short story
  • A whole new skill set, namely, yelling, sarcasm, jerkiness and lording it over
It's a pretty awesome job.



I am beautifulSince I am now teaching PE (of all things), I am, for the first time, coming to school without a tie. This tielessness has corresponded with a very surprising thing: no one thinks I'm a student.

I don't quite know what to think of this.

My best (and most favored) theory is that over the past year of professional teachering, I have learned to comport myself as an adult.




Enjoy this double posting of Thmusings. It is quite likely I will not post again until svithetime. See you then!


Enema in my mouth


As a child, I was always proud to still have my tonsils. Especially since they were naturally oversized and shocked every doctor who saw them. And especially because my siblings didn't have theirs. Nyaa!

In high school, in my medical terminology class, I learned a bit more about tonsils and how they are sort of the immune system's advance scouts, looking for diseases Theric may foolishly be ingesting. Go tonsils!

The one downer to my tonsils has always been that they get sore and pus-filled and this seems to make me sick.

Shortly after getting married, I finally figured out that it wasn't pus down there, it was food, caught in the cavernous pores of my tonsils.

I saw an earnoseandthroat doctor about my tonsils last week to ask for help in getting my tonsils cleaned up.

He took a look down my throat, tchtched, and said those were some mighty big pores down there.

It ends up everyone's tonsils are porous, but some people's tonsil pores are little, like on the palm of their hand, and other people, like me, have crypts. Yes, crypts. That's what they're called, crypts. So when I'm swallowing food and it's being pressed past my tonsils--the TSA of my temple--chunks of hippie food are setting up camp in my crypts and festering and making me sick.

Stupid hippies.

Anyway, the good doctor had some advice for me, viz, to go to the pharmacy and buy an enema bag with a longish hose and wash my tonsils morning and night for the rest of my life.

So I went to the pharmacy. Then another. Then another. Then another.

At each of these pharmacies, all that was in stock, in the enema section, were single-serving-size enema squirt bottles. When I talked to the pharmacists about my needs, they looked at me like I--or, more accurately, my doctor--was insane. Wasn't I worried about asphyxiating myself? Drowning? Dying???

Well, yeah, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Y'know?

Finally I asked the last pharmacist where I should look next. He recommended the locally owned Burn's Pharmacy.

This pharmacist also considered selling me a straightjacket instead, but had what I needed, namely a hot water bottle with a long hose and various, frightening, white plastic attachments designed to hook into rectums, vaginas and other generally plastic-nozzle-free environments.

I use none of these attachments.

But I do hose down my throat morning and night with a minimum of death.

  • My wife says I smell better.
  • My doctor says I already show vast improvement.
  • A lifetime of happiness free of feces-smelling cheese-curd-looking food particles hopping onto my tongue at inopportune moments (so far).

Seems worth a little life-threatening hygiene, wouldn't you agree?


    All or nothing


    One good thing about being me is that I have no allergies. I've always felt bad for you poor schmucks who spend pollen season in a snotty haze. It is true that I have constant trouble breathing and often sneeze without provocation (the two are not related), but at least it's not allergies. That must suck.

    Anyway, our sweet teacher insurance ends this month, so I thought I would go in and get my tonsils checked out (more on that later) and my nasal cavities looked at for polyps or misshapen bones or whatever might be causing my breathing problems.

    Today I went in for a second appointment and had 102 holes stabbed in my arms (I was counting--and never mind if the doctor's records say 116) and learned I am allergic to all the weeds in the southwestern United States, all the grasses in the southwestern United States, most molds, three of the five tree families in the southwestern United States (including a severe allergy to oaks--POP QUIZ: Guess what tree my hometown is widely known for?) and, get this, cats--POP QUIZ: Guess how many cats my family has owned in my lifetime?


    One reason I had always known I wasn't allergic to anything was this: my symptoms were constant--I didn't react to, say, driving past a field of alfalfa POP QUIZ: What crop colored the hills at my granpa's ranch?, so I obviously wasn't allergic. Simple. It's either that or I'm allergic to everything, haha! and I'm not allergic to everything, haha!

    So now that I've learned that I am one of the miserable, allergic schmucks aforementioned, I have to decide how much I care. It's taken me this long to even bother to ask a doctor about my nose, and if I can survive twenty-nine years without antibody-building shots or daily Claritin, why should I start that hassle now?

    I'm getting one prescription of drugs and we'll see if it makes enough of a difference to bother switching to an allergy-free lifestyle.

    In the meantime, I still need to tell you about my tonsils. But first, please excuse me while I go shove this douche bag down my throat.


    A mildly cheesy acrostic svithe


    Sabbath comes once a week and is the occasion in which I attempt to honor God in some bizarre, thericular way by svithing, The.

    Vernacular scripture came about a few hundred years ago and opened up religion to schmucks like me--without this innovation, svithing wouldn't exist.

    Internet allows us to communicate with people quickly and easily and svithily, The.

    Today--there is always a today--and today's today is beautiful (if I look hard enough) and wonderful (in some way)--as is every today--like today, for instance.

    Hardiness is a trait I admire, but since physical labor for God would likely kill me, instead I am a hardy, weekly svither.

    Everything in this world testifies of God's goodness to us--therefore everything is worthy svithe material--therefore I still have a long way to go--therefore I'll see you again next week--on the flipsvithe.....

    Last week's svithe


    1. Braj; 2. Bday


    1. My brother Braj is currently en route, Manila to Bakersfield. We will be there to meet him.

    2. After which, in honor of the successful completion of twenty-six years of life, Lady Steed and I will be going to LA to see the Getty and the neon museum and whatnot.

    See you later.




    I can't do it. No matter how much I may blog, at the end of the day, I need my paper!!!!!


    Dumptruck! Dumptruck! : A Tale of Language Acquisition


    Next to trains, the Big O's favorite thing is dumptrucks. But the word dumptruck itself is a bit challenging for him to say.

    Truck, for instance, has many different pronunciations in the Onacular, but the one we'll be discussing today is the one in which the tr sound becomes more of an f sound.

    Which creates a new problem as the mpf phoneme set is nearly impossible for his little mouth to form. As a result, he leaves out the p.

    So when we're walking down the street and a dumptruck passes by, and O yells, "Dumptruck! Dumptruck!", people tend to shake their heads and know exactly what kind of parents we are.


    Svithe and svithe alike

    .My close personal friend, Lao Tzu

    Alma taught that
      the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have....
    Alma, of course, meant that the Lord gives everybody all the truth they can handle. A jerk might go nyaa-nyaa and say he has all the truth and everyone else sucks. But, in fact, even we Mormons who claim to have "the fulness of the gospel," do not claim to have all the truth. See, while we believe all that God has revealed, we also believe all that He does now reveal--and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things.

    Truth is like a Venn Diagram, except it includes one, great, all-encompassing, infinite circle, with little circles inside it. I believe that God gives different circles of truth to different individuals and groups all the time. Any group or individual that forgets they can learn from another will fail at many of life's most important pursuits. Without the humility to learn from others, we cannot love, we cannot grow, we cannot become. Whether that learning comes from a friend, a stranger, a rival, or God, we must be willing to admit we do not know; we must want to learn; we must listen and believe.

    Yes, yes, yes, we must also be able to discern between truth and deception, but if we don't assume the possibility of truth, we will never find it. We must assume that true and false are both possible.

    Being a good Mormon, this is the point where I show you where to get a free Book of Mormon. But most of my readership is Mormon already, and to you, my friends, I suggest listening. I'm going to work on developing the humility to listen, myself. I'ld like to learn some more stuff. And besides,

    Lady Steed insists on it.

    Further reading: 1 2 3 4 5

    Last week's svithe

    View a complete list of known svithers at The Weekly Svithe



    .I don't care who you are, that there is funny!

    I don't know how the Big O got wind that Cars was coming out soon, but somehow he did. Not that that's why we went. We would have gone anyway. It's a Pixar movie.

    Let me say that again:

    It's a Pixar movie.

    And it certainly lived up to the Pixar name.

    But let me start by talking about the trailers, including a host of crappy-looking, same-same-looking animated movies from Sony and Nick and you name it. They are all the exact same movie. Just with varying degrees of crappy animation.

    Then the promo for Ratatoille (Pixar's next film) comes on. The difference is astonishing. Here is a movie with quality, I can tell already. The animation is sharp. The voices aren't handy celebrities, but actually match the characters and their film. And the humor? Yes, I see a rat eating something gross. But the execution raises it high above the deer-in-a-bra I saw six minutes earlier.

    Then we saw One Man Band and loved it. The audience clapped. This is not six bucks down and poop out all memories the next day; Pixar makes art.

    So! Cars!

    I have to admit talking cars are a little weird. This may not ever become my most-watched Pixar film. But I nearly cried as James Taylor sang and we watched a Route 66 town be passed by the freeway and turn to dust.

    I already hate the death of small-town America, but no movie has made me cry over it before.

    And yes, Pixar hires celebrities. But Owen Wilson was perfect. And Paul Newman--he could live comfortably doing voiceovers alone, I know it. What a voice! And even Larry the Cable Guy managed pathos as well as a trademark line or two. The voices were the right voices--not mere marquee weight.


    Mr Lasseter? If you're reading this, I would cut off my right arm to work in your story department.

    Wait. No. Maybe not. Maybe not my right arm.

    But make me an offer. I'll say yes.


    Anyway, O loved it. I loved it. Lady Steed loved it. My parents loved it. My sister loved it. Her friend loved it. We laughed our heads off and nearly cried and were honestly moved.

    I knew enough about the story's premise to fear Lasseter's big return would be his least movie, but no no no. I don't know how, precisely, you take talking cars and give them limited time together and create meaningful, believable relationships----but I'ld like to learn, Mr Lasseter-----but they managed. And editing is a mystery to me too.

    Hitchcock said film is the artform whose medium is time, and watching Pixar seems evidence of that. The perfect pause for a joke to work. Done. The hold that moves the soul. Done. The cut that tells you not just where you are and the time of day but the state of mind and heart and the meaning of life. Done.


    Anyway, I gush. But they deserve it.


    I remember reading about Joe Ranft's death last year and hurting for his Pixar colleagues. I, of course, never knew him. I heard him on the DVDs and I knew some of what he did and I enjoyed his Heimlich, but I didn't know him.

    I wish I had. I wish I could have mourned him as a friend and not a fan.


    Anyway, Cars is great. Go see it. Go see the best writers and animators do their stuff.

    I love animation. And I love this animation explosion, even if the market is being flooded with crap.

    But all is not dark.

    We have Pixar.

    And me. I'm between gigs at the moment, Mr Lasseter. If you're looking, I'll make myself available.

    Meeting Stupid


    (Yesterday, Lady Steed, the Big O and I had the pleasure of driving to Santa Clarita and meeting Stupidramblings. As Stupid cherishes his blogonymity even more than we do, potentially identifying portions of this post have been edited out.)

    Stupid is staying in ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ because he will be attending a ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ for work. He works for ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡--the same job that ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ once had, in fact. He likes his job, so that's bully for him. It also offers him the added benefit of meeting the Thteeds, which is a job perk everyone wants but few people get.

    Stupid lived in the same ‡‡‡‡‡ as we did for the entire time we were in ‡‡‡‡‡. In fact, we know many of the same people. ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ I've mentioned before, but he also knows the ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡, and ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ and ‡‡‡‡‡ and no doubt many others.

    Stupid never ‡‡‡‡ a ‡‡‡‡ until he was ‡‡ which I find to be remarkable (and surprising given current interests such as ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ and ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ that he's so focused on these days).

    His wife is ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ and an ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ to boot. And since they will be ‡‡‡‡‡‡ a ‡‡‡‡ in about ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡, they have been working a lot on ‡‡‡‡‡‡ up a ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ for "‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡." How cute!

    Stupid is anti-‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ and pro-‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡ and hey! it was nice to meet him
    And after this brief but ‡‡‡‡‡‡-filled introduction, I hope you feel like you have met him too.




    Hahaha!!! Hahahaha!

    Boy, if you could've seen your face!


    Hoo, oh hoo, oh hooo....


    Heh heh heh....

    That was great....



    Reading a Very Small Book, 2004

    One of my favorite painters is Brian Kershisnik. I was still in Provo when the MOA got their paws on a huge Sleeping Musicians (there are multiple versions of the painting). And in an astonishing show of good taste, the Ensign has started using his paintings to illustrate stories and just to show off good art by Mormons (two of my favorites may be seen here).

    Anyway, Kershisnik doesn't associate with any particular "school" and I think that is part of the reason I like him. His stuff is always immediately recognizable. And I love the balance between sobriety and fancy--the stuff of important dreams.

      In a sense more profound than I can say, I don't know what I am doing. When people learn that I am a painter and ask me what I paint, I have difficulty answering. Usually the inquiries are seeking only the short answer and must be embarrassed or annoyed at my stumbles and what must look like attempts to conceal something. I, acknowledged only to myself that I was just stalling for the arrival of a clearer understanding until the reality of my authentic ignorance finally became clear to me....

      My current conclusion as to what I paint is that I don't know and I'm trying to be more at peace with that awkward reality. I do not mean by this that I think I am a bad painter, I am in fact, one of my favorite painters. No one's artwork moves me as often to tears or laughter, insight and revelation, ecstatic discovery, and joyful or fearful views of the truth as does my own.
    I think I would like this man.

    (visit him)


    Lucky Number Seven Thousand


    According to SiteMeter, I should have my 7000th visitor before I wake up tomorrow.

    Via los Thmusings!

    Hat Update


    Since these pictures were taken yesterday, the flap of a top that was left blew off in the wind.

    Lady Steed says it's time for me to buy my new hat....


    Svithe: An open letter to my missionary brothers


    I have two brothers currently serving as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I will usually mail them my svithes. This week, however, I am svithing you their mail.


    Hey, Elders---

    The family had me present the scholarship and I did so in full bowtie regalia. I now own three bow ties. I haven't decided how I feel about them. It takes a certain sort of person to pull off a bowtie with aplomb and I've never been sure I am such a person. We're finding out.

    We talked about Ruth in Sunday School today. Now I totally want to go gleaning. And you guys should keep in mind, too. For when you get home. It looks like a great way to meet chicks.

    I guess Canary'll be moving to Flagstaff in a few months, after her sojourn in Nauvoo. My, that girl gets around!

    So I read a fascinating article on Slate about meat. The guy who wrote it is a meat-eater himself, and he's not suggesting we give up meat tomorrow, but ---

    So as time goes on, we're learning more and more about the intelligence and capabilities of animals. And the more we learn, the less appropriate it seems to be chopping them up and sticking them in our mouths. I think that is true. But we were built to eat meat and although it is possible to be healthy without any meat whatsoever in your diet, it's tricky and certainly not what our genes expected when they were building us in the womb.

    Anyway, science is a wonderful thing. You have heard, of course, of them growing human ears on the backs of rats and human organs inside pigs and other marvelous things for science. You have also heard of the marvelous things genetically tricked-up bacteria can poop out of their genetically-tricked up bacterial bottoms. Well. Let's put two and two together. Or, in our case, medicine and meat.

    Scientists abroad are already working on getting stem cells to produce material for chicken nuggets (which shouldn't be that hard, given that chicken nuggets are just processed bird fat anyway). Now, a wonderful steak straight from the test tube is still, oh, decades off, but I think this is a good thing.

    First, cows. Cows! Cows are terrible for the environment, spewing forth their methane fumes day and night and trampling acres and acres and eating all that grain (and on and on). Cows are messy things.

    Second, killing. God, yes, gave us animals to eat, but when lions lie down with lambs, those lions are still going to need the occasional lamb chop—even if Sean is his buddy now. Same goes for Jimmy Dean. He still'll need his sausage. So let's grow them in a petri dish, shall we?

    I think God is perfectly okay with us killing cows and so forth. However, I think he is also okay with us finding a way to get those proteins without killing anything. In fact, I think he would approve of it as a good thing.

    And now, since I'm already rambling and considering changing this into a svithe as well as a letter to my brothers, I think I'll just go on a few more tangents before wrapping up.

    Tangent One: Frankenfoods.

    First, we gotta be careful with genetically modifying things. And we must be sure to preserve the planets genetic diversity. But if we can make a rice that will save lives, people who protest the rice as evil are shortsighted, charity-free jerks. And you can tell them I said so. Anything can be turned to evil. The internet, for example, has my blog on it. (That was a joke. Please pause here to laugh.) But to suppose that something so powerful can only be evil is to be astonishingly cynical and to never invent a better toaster.

    Tangent Two: Killing animals.

    We were given animals to eat. Eating the living is awkward. Eating things that have died of ebola is unsafe. Therefore killing animals is fine.

    But killing Laban was good too, because there was no other way. The Israelites were essentially ordered to commit genocide, because that was the ways things were. Lots of screwy things are right in certain situations. I think massive slaughter of animals is pretty much in that club. I think we're being provided a way to move past it.

    In the meantime, though, can I have that drumstick?



    (ps: i wasn't kidding -- are you gonna eat that?)

    (pps: work hard, have fun, rock the suburbs, do good; love you)


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    Last week's svithe


    Finding music I like! Exclamation point!


    Today I worked. Then I stayed at work and did my homework. Then I checked blogs and, on a whim, went to Amazon and punched in Neko Case and Roseanne Cash and then the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Amazon is about the only way to listen to music here as everything else is blocked. So I would hit Listen to All and hear thirty second clips from the songs on the albums.

    They were all good, but I ended up listening to those seven minutes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs over and over and over again. What a great voice!

    I've read a lot about the band in our free Rolling Stone subscription and I knew the mag liked them, but guess what? I do too.

    After listening to it the forty-seventh, I hit the button to listen to related music and guess what? I like other artists I've been reading about too. I like Cat Power. I like Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins. I like the New Pornographers. I like Wolf Parade and Built to Spill and the Raconteurs. And I like other bands I hadn't read about: the Sounds, for instance. Sufjan Stevens.

    Add this to my interest in My Morning Jacket and We Are Scientists and maybe it's time for me to be hip again. Who knows how long I'll have the chance?


    Two Corollaries


    Those who can't teach, must therefore do
      I am a good writer, and any mettle-worthy English teacher needs to be able to mould good writers.

      Moulding good writers does not appear to come naturally to me. In large part that is due to the second corollary, but we'll get there later.

      I think I might be a better teacher if I taught something other than my forte. I'ld probably be better off teaching history, for instance.

      Or just getting out of this entire crazy profession and writing for a living. I don't know.
    A good student doth not a good teacher make
      I was a pretty good student. Frustrating to many of my teachers, but overall good.

      Much of that goodness was engineered by my choice of classes, of course. I often wish I had studied something totally outside my natural skills. Learning the exciting field of mechanical engineering, for instance, would have stretched me. Studying English was too intuitive, too natural, too inborn, too easy.

      Because it was just unearned skill that made me a good student, I haven't actually learned crap in years. I just play the same old lousy game and call it good. And it is good. But when I have never had to learn how to become good, I have no idea how to teach becoming good.

      "What do you mean you can't write an earth-shattering conclusion?!?!" I might ask in shocked abhorrence. "Why not? Art thou not human? Hath not a human eyes? hath not a human hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If you prick a human, do they not bleed? if you tickle them, do they not laugh? if you poison them, do they not die? and if you put a pen in their hands, do they not write wicka strong essays with wicka strong conclusions?"

      My great problem is--since I have always looked at academic writing as a fun hobby--I have never examined it with the cruelty I have examined fiction, and so I find it difficult to explain or to teach.

      I suppose when I take a class in writing pedagogy this will change, but....

      It might not. Like I said: I haven't learned anything in years. I don't know how to apply myself to study and learn.

      The fact is, I am a terrible student. And if I can't do student, what in the world makes me think I can teach the doing of student?

    Note: this post is not born of a particularly bad day or anything of the sort. In fact, these are issues I've been thinking about for a long time. These are where they stand at the moment. I am continually considering and revising and rethinking and trying to figure out just what the heck I want to be when I grow up. I need to hurry. I turn thirty this summer.

    Answer key


    First off, class I really want to compliment your knowledge of death and Shakespeare. Our lowest score was 75% and everyone else got a 91.66666666666666666% Of course, only three of you managed to turn this rather simple assignment in, so the rest of you FAILED.

    Anyway, there was one question that stumped everyone--even those with otherwise perfect scores: Lady Montague.

    Now, Lady Montague does not die onstage, but she does die. All we know is what Lord Montague slips in during the final scene:
      Alas, my liege, my wife is dead to-night;
      Grief of my son's exile hath stopp'd her breath:
    (Now, any decent feminist critic would suppose she was actually lost to spousal abuse, but that argument's for another course.)

    Watching the Zeffirelli and Luhrmann movie versions did not poison your wells as much as I had feared--most of you remembered that Shakespeare killed off Paris, for instance, even if they didn't. Good job.

    Anyway, here is the key:

    Lady Montague b. died by sadness at Romeo's banishment.

    Lord Montague d. DIDN'T DIE.

    Lord Capulet d. DIDN'T DIE.

    Lady Capulet d. DIDN'’T DIE.

    Benvolio d. DIDN'T DIE.

    Tybalt, a. Romeo killed him.

    Romeo, c. he drank poison.

    Friar Lawrence d. DIDN'T DIE.

    Mercutio, a. killed by Tybalt while defending Romeo's honor.

    Paris, a. killed by Romeo.

    Juliet c. died by stabbing herself in the breast.

    Prince g. DIDN'T DIE.

    Incidentally, class, isn't it interesting, what a difference a dramaturg makes? Rewatching the Zeffirelli version made me feel the friar should be held criminally responsible for this whole mess, but Luhrmann made me feel he was merely a failed hero, an honorable if pie-in-the-sky idealist. Huh.

    Anyway, Nem, JB, Miss A--have a Laffy Taffy. I'll see the rest of you after class.


    The Shame of Philip Roth


    Exhibit A

    Exhibit B

    Note the publication dates of each and then tell me how you feel.

    (answer key to the quiz coming tomorrow)