The Last Day of the First Month of the New Year


It won't surprise you to learn I have a project keeping me busy tonight. Got to try and finalize some text. Get some physical materials. If you have something I need, this is the time to get it to me.




The much heralded return to originality


Here I sit in a library next door to the school from which I am taking my lunch break. My current readin' book sits next to the keyboard so I can find my place while the next screen loads. Only to promptly lose it at that moment.

I am at work on a number of things.

I know what book I want to write yet, but it's a tricksy one, and one I'm loathe to attack without a contract.

I have been designing a handful of new shirts for the Thtore (see sidebar) (announcement coming later this week).

I am working on various web-based art that will delight the masses or kill them for resisting.


Yeah, so I am totally being creative and crap.

But that's not what the title of this post was referring to.


My goodness! but I can be an obscure bastard.

I certainly feel guilty about it, for though I may be the world's only Baizzerist, I am still antiartsyfartsy. It's a terrible existential dilemma to find onself in, but whachagonnado?

In my case, type:

asdjkasfdjkasbjtrugkb vkjibukrilu8w48vrkbbjkasv uhec

Which is lovely.


I am theric.


More sensible content coming soon. Perhaps as early as today.

Don't hold your breath enless you have some of that sweet liquid air. That stuff is awesome.


Can you tell when I am joking?


Can you tell when I'm joking?
When it's a joke?
When I'm joking?
Can you tell
Can you
Can you tell when
when I am joking
Can you tell
Can you tell when
Can you tell if
I am joking
I'm joking
Can you tell?
Can you tell?
Is it a joke?
Am I joking?
Can you tell?
Can you tell
Can you tell
Can you tell when I'm
Can you tell?


Stealing this week’s svithe


I'm feeling lazy. Here are a few thinkable thoughts pulled from semirandom locales:

    Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

    If the child sees that the parents are very happy because he has become knowledgeable, he starts gathering more and more knowledge. He starts forgetting the knack that he had brought with his life, that was inborn. By the time he comes out of the university he has completely forgotten one of the most beautiful things that was given by God to him: the capacity to wonder, the capacity to see without thinking, the capacity to contact reality without the mind continuously interfering, distorting.

    The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through the tears. The happiness for which our souls ache is one undisturbed by success or failure, one which will root deeply inside us and give inward relaxation, peace, and contentment, no matter what the surface problems may be. That kind of happiness stands in need of no outward stimulus.

    I swear by the pen and what the angels write,
    By the grace of your Lord you are not mad.
    And most surely you shall have a reward never to be cut off.
    And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.
    So you shall see, and they (too) shall see,
    Which of you is afflicted with madness.

    Last night I said to myself: tomorrow I will be good. Good? I wasn't any better than I was the day before. Now here is a new month, and I haven't yet thought out how to be more sensible, how to master my impulses and my temper. I am ashamed to be so undisciplined. I hereby resolve that with God's help I will be more reasonable. Today the day is nearly over and it isn't much, but for the rest of the day I will observe silence. Not talk, but answer politely. Not seek out conversation, but work on my shawl, which must be finished at least by day after tomorrow.

    The distinction between liberated, aspirant and bound subsists only so long as this Elixir of Experience is unknown to one. The enjoyer and the enjoyed, the seer and the seen, are merged in the non-dual, which is indivisible. The devotee has become God, the Goal has become God, the Goal has become the path; this indeed is solitude in the universe.

    True words aren't eloquent;
    eloquent words aren't true.
    Wise men don't need to prove their point;
    men who need to prove their point aren't wise.

last week's svithe


Puhsycho (now I am)

A boy's best friend is his mother.

Seeing Psycho on the big screen was an astonishing experience. I have seen that movie many many times--the first time at fourteen--and the movie has had an incalculable effect on how I view film, how I view terror, how I view art. I have read innumerable essays and articles and even books about it and yet seeing it last night, big, was completely new.

So many details I had never noticed before! Because although I knew where Hitchcock was hiding in Psycho, I had never been able to actually recognize him before. I had not computed that Marian buys her new car in Bakersfield. I had never realized how shocking the shower scene actually is, when viewed fullsize.

I could talk about Psycho for ages. And then go on and on about Hitchcock for several ages more. But all I really want to talk about right now is that I need to see more movies large. Vertigo, Marnie, North by Northwest, The Trouble with Harry, Shadow of a Doubt..... All of them.

And other nonHitchcock favorites too!


The Thin Man movies!


All About Eve!

And classics I've yet to see? Now I must see them huge!

The Maltese Falcon!

King Kong!


My life has just been ruined through enrichment.

Thank goodness the tickets are only $6 a pop.

King Kong


This is the end of the day that isn't when you thought it ought to be


Which is why the beginning of the day you feared would be when it shouldn't is occurring precisely when you through it mightn't but hoped it would and can now set all your terrors to rest in managed care.

Blessed relaxation.


Stone Soup Svithe


Someone in Sunday School made a fascinating suggestion today regarding the feeding of the five thousand. She said perhaps she was a skeptical soul, but she had always suspected that what happened with that miracle was this: people had been hoarding food, hiding it, hoping not to share, but as the baskets were passed around, the spirit of the meeting overcame them.

"This does not," she said,"offend my understanding of a miracle."

Nor mine. And I quite like this explanation.

I rather imagine Thomas Jefferson is feeling a tad hasty about now.

last week's svithe


Explanation of terms

Behold! Books!.

Since the last picture turned out so terribly, I thought I would try again and use the excuse to define what I mean by a book finished in 2007, which is what I will be chronicling this year.

Let's start with 2007: From the midnight beginning January first to the midnight ending December thirty-first, California time.

Finished: Regardless of what percentage of the book was read during 2007, I have to finish the final word during this calendar year.

Book: Ah, now here's the tricky one. This definition is subject to revision and exception, but here's my definition at present---a) No fewer than 100 pages; b) not a periodical. This definition, as you will notice, is entirely negative. But I assume we can all recognize a book. I'm mostly trying to keep myself from obsessively logging all the magazines and Sesame Street books I read by disqualifying them outright.

Anyway, that's it. This year I'm keeping track. I'm very jealous of the lists others made last year and wish I had some way of comparing my success with theirs--because I really have no idea how many books I read last year.

I wish I did.

Basically, I'm throwing my hat in the ring.

Poor thing....

First Five Books Finished in 2007


First Five, 2007

5) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, finished January 17
    At first I thought I would just set this book aside because I hated it so much, but I kept taking it with me place to place and getting through it bit by bit until I came to an appreciation of Waugh's style. I'm still not a huge fan of this particular volume, but for a book filled with emptiness I will at least give him this: he chose the perfect ending. And I have to admit this also--I may have been expecting Wodehouse, and Waugh's humor may not have aged well, but he still had a couple zingers. So good job, Waugh! But I still don't like your book.
    one monthish

4) Superman Adventures Vol. 1: Up, Up and Away! by Mark Millar, finished January 16
    Somehow the Big O, without any instruction from his parents, can identify "Superguy" and knows, for instance, that he can fly. We're not sure where he picked it up, but some how he's a fan. When we would go to the library, he would request a Superguy book, but neither of our libraries had one. So I put my head together with Master Fob's and he helped decide on this book for Christmas. But the Big O doesn't really like it. I tried reading it to him, but just ended up reading it myself. And so it goes. Note: Shortly after I finished writing this, O found the book and wanted me to read it to him, saying "I like my Superman book"--so pretty much I don't know what I'm talking about.
    two or three weeks

3) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, finished January 12
    I first read Bryson premission when I picked up a copy of Made in America by joining the Book of the Month Club. I. Loved. That. Book. I was not aware that Bryson was primarily known as a travel writer at the time, and the Big Deal release of A Walk in the Woods was my first inclination of his inclination. I was very interested in the book but did not buy it until it came out in paperback--which I did as soon as the paperback was available. Said paperback then sat on my shelf for several years during which I purchased and read the paperbacks Neither Here Nor There, Notes from a Small Island, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, and The Mother Tongue. I also picked up In a Sunburned Country about the same time as AWitW in hardback and enjoyed it very much--it's my favorite of his travel books. Still. I liked A Walk in the Woods a great deal, but if I ever edit a boxset of Great Travel Books, I'll represent Bryson with his Aussie adventure.
    about three weeks

2) Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, finished January 11
    Although I have read this book more than once in the past, this was the first time I read my very own copy, courtesy of Lady Steed and venerated Christmas tradition. The book is brilliant. When Scott comes to town signing copies of his new book, I hope to meet him.
    about a week and a half

1) Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 10
    I think I like Vonnegut best when he's apocalyptic--Cat's Cradle was my first overwhelming look at him and I think Timequake is his best book--but the flavor of disaster offered by Galápagos was right up there.
    two days

First Five, 2007


Bang Bang Bang


First of all, just let me say that Monday 23 might be the greatest album ever recorded. And thus Sunfall Festival requires your full attention, so listen up:


Since they recorded it after they won the $250,000 contract from GarageBand, many people (myself included, at the time of purchase) assumed that they had made the album with that money. Not so. In fact (as I learned when researching my Wikipedia article), they never even ended up taking the contract. But they did use the connections to get a highend producer to work with them on Bang Bang Bang, which I purchased as soon as was humanly possible after its release.

And as the nature of humanity, it could not live up to its predecessor. It was a good album, sure, but it was no Monday 23. And whereas the previous album made excellent use of a long empty space, Bang Bang Bang's big lull is pointless and annoying.

This weekend I may be wifefree, but by no means will I thus be chickfree. So I rummaged through our still unpacked boxes of cds and found Bang Bang Bang.

Lead singer Amy is high on my list of Great Chick Voices and so she has been accompanying my travails the last three days with Bang Bang Bang on endless repeat.

And no, it's not as good as Monday 23 (even the Beatles only have one album that can really compete), but it is an incredible album and you know what? I love love love Bang Bang Bang.

I should have written this post when I first got Bang Bang Bang and 23b in the mail, when I could go on and on and on about Bang Bang Bang's qualities and shortcomings (because it was all I thought about), but maybe this is better. I will just celebrate its excellence and let you buy your own copies and share in the goodness.

Just one question: Any idea when they're playing the East Bay?


I'm all alone today, so I'm making an experimental (and noisy) svithe. Forgive me.


So Lady Steed and the Big O went to see her parents this weekend so I could have some time to rewrite two short stories and Byuck, all of which need to get back to their new homes pronto (and hopefully stay there this time).

Yesterday, between bouts of preposition rearranging, I caught up with Master Fob. One of his recent posts inspired me to write about love, but the story I had in mind I'm not ready to tell, so I'm going somewhere else instead. But it's still related--just more more inspired by the fact that today I am alone.

It is bad to be alone. Or at least being alone all the time can't be good. For whatever reason, God made us social creatures. I may be somewhat less social than other people, but I am still human and I do like people. Most of the time.

Or at least I try to be inoffensive. But putting a bunch of wav files in this post certainly isn't helping.

And I don't suppose I will even write a very good post. I'll be too busy figuring out where to stick what to pay much attention to whether or not the whole thing is working. I screw a lot of things up this way. And yet Lady Steed loves me anyway. It's a funny thing about her.

Anyway, people.

Today in Sunbeams, we talked about how we are like Heavenly Father--how he made us like him.

I think it is an extremely safe assumption that God is a social creature himself. The world's a factory designed to make people he would like to spend eternity with. And one of the things I suppose we have to learn how to do is getting along with each other.

Um, actually, that's not what I was planning on talking about. This is a svithe--this'll be more about charity than---

I know, but---

No! No it's not! You aren't listening! Boy, if Lady Steed was here, she---

Ha, ha. Very funny. Let's be serious.

But it wouldn't hurt to talk about Lady Steed a little. After all, she loves me even though I have limited skills:

Because let's face it--brains and artistry just aren't that marketable. I'm not sure what employers want, but it's not that. And so she's a remarkable woman, to stay home and wisen up the Big O while I'm off wasting myself in the pursuit of lucre when we all know she's a much more marketable human being.

Actually, no. It's a three-day weekend. Ha ha!

Anyway, this is a svithe about sociality and leaning on one another and being with one another and helping one another and how that's good. Or it's supposed to be.

I actually feel very strongly about this, even if I don't really live up to it all the time. I feel it's important to help an old lady get her groceries into her trunk, smile at the people we pass on the sidewalk, prevent toddlers from running out onto the Beltway, know our neighbors. We need to genuinely care for the people around us--family, friends, neighbors, strangers; whether in our town or clear across the country. We need to love them all!

Um. Huh. I don't think....

Anyway, forget it. What it comes down to is this: We need people. You, me, God, everyone. And I'm happy to have some good ones in my life. One in particular who's coming home tomorrow. So, if you'll excuse me,

last week's svithe


Learn something new on even the most miserable of days


So I hate seventh graders and let's just leave it at that.

But one of my actually behaved students today taught me something interesting. There she was, doing her work in the midst of insanity, and she pulled out a jug of Vaseline.

"Do you want some Vaseline, Mister Mister?" (She called me Mister Mister.)

"No, thank you. What do you need all that for?"



"Yeah. You put it on your face and when you get hit it doesn't leave a mark."



Heading Back Home
episode iiiii
No more yellow car


In our last episode, we struggled to get inside the house. Now we're unpacked and I'm leaving home alone and it's time for


No more yellow car

Just as we were able to get home in excellent time, so did I have excellent luck finding the Oakland Airport for the first time ever. The signs were clear and simple and I found the rental car return with ease and the check-in process took under a minute. So long, rambunctiously yellow car! The nice National employee pointed me in the direction of the BART shuttle, which was half-a-hop away and just sitting there waiting for me.

The shuttle was not clearly marked as going to BART, but I asked the driver and he grunted something that seemed to mean yes. So I got on and sat down.

The posters inside the bus said that the bus had three stops: Terminal One (for all airlines except Southwest), Terminal Two (for Southwest) and the rental car place. But I had faith in my driver and sat down with my book and set to reading.

I made the full loop, from terminal to terminal to rental car place, and never once did the electric lady announce BART. Or maybe I just didn't catch it because I was chuckling at silly old Katz. Hard to say.

The second the shuttle pulled into the rental car place, I leaped off and jumped onto the next shuttle before it could leave. I asked that driver if his bus would take me to BART and he said yes, at Terminal One.

I listened carefully that time and the electric woman never announced BART. Which is one more reason why all electric women must die.

As I left his shuttle, the driver explained where to cross and how to leap and when to wiggle through in order to get on a separate shuttle that would then actually take me to BART and I thanked him and in no time I was making my relatively crazies-free way home on good old fashioned public transportation.

Getting off at the station near our home, I had the pleasurable experience of walking home in the cool Bay dark.

Ah, to be outside!

I had just spent twelve days stuck inside my parents' house then seven hours stuck inside vehicles and now it was wonderful just to be walking the sidewalks I had been walking every day since July and breathing cool, night air.

All by myself.

Me and the air and no one else.

It was lovely.

But not so lovely that I did not walk straight home and kiss my wife.


Heading Back Home
episode iii
House keys


In our last episode, we had a run-in with some smokey Slavs. Now it's time for


House keys

We made it through Livermore and other unpleasant-to-drive-through environs in record time and arrived in El Cerrito with the sun still high in the sky. We pulled our upsettingly yellow car into our driveway (to the consternation of the neighbors) and stretched in our seats in preparation for the Great Unloading.

Theric: Where are my.... Oh, that's right. You have them.

Lady Steed: What?

Th: You want to go unlock the door and I'll start getting stuff out?

LS: I'm not sure where my keys are.

Th: Well, that's fine--my keys are just in your purse.

LS: They are?

Th: Yeah.

LS: No they're not.

Th: Yes they are. I gave them to you while I was driving the van.

LS: Oh, that's right. Hmm. I'm not sure where I packed them.

Th: You packed them?

LS: Well, I didn't know I was going to need them!

Th: How else were we going to get inside?

LS: Well, I have my.....where are they?

Th: Oh wait--remember? I hid your keys away for your parents--so they could get in while we were gone. So they're still in the ***** in the ***** in the *****.

LS: No, they came and got them.

Th: But you told me your mom found her keys, so they didn't need them after all.

LS: Right, but they still got them.

Th: Why?

LS: So no one would find them and break in!

Th: What? Are you kidding? They're in the ***** in the ***** in the *****! No one's just going to find them! Besides, there's a bunch of *****s stacked on top of the *****! There's no way they bothered to get them!

LS: They won't be there.

Th: I'll check.

(Theric exits. Rummaging. Lifting. Moving. Grunting. Moving. Lifting. Rummaging. Possibly cursing. Theric enters.)

Th: They're gone. But the put the ***** back in the *****. Why did they put the ***** back in the ***** if there weren't any keys to put back in it? That's crazy!

LS: Well, it's better this way. No one broke in.

Th: No one would have ever found those keys.....

LS: I found your keys.

Th: Where were they?

LS: In my purse.

Tune in next time for Episode IIIII: NO MORE YELLOW CAR.


Heading Back Home
episode iii
The Albanians


In our last episode, we had just escaped from miles and miles of killer bees. Now it's time for


The Albanians

Go Eagles!

I try to be a self-aware person. I try to predict how my biases and prejudices will affect how I deal with people and to accommodate accordingly. Today, for instance, I subbed eighth graders and, as might be expected, I had an opportunity to get after a gaggle of girls. I started the getting-after-them process before I actually had noticed what they looked like, but as soon as their appearance crossed into my conscious mind I was wracked with guilt and had to fight to properly finish the getting-after-them which I had started.

You see, one of them was a pale redhead. Why exactly I am so tolerant of pale redheads is a mystery, but it seems to be a fairly new bias--one I certainly didn't have ten years ago.

Anyway the point is that I am aware of this bias and so I can be sure not to let any pale, redheaded, female students take advantage of it. Phew.

I'm afraid have some negative biases also. We'll get to one of these shortly.

We left the bees far behind and came to what might generously be called an outpost of civilization. Anyway it had some fast food joints and gas stations and truck stops and a Pea Soup Andersen's and we were hungry and our frighteningly yellow car was down to half a tank.

We fed the car first, then the Big O decided he wanted a burrito so we went to Taco Bell. This is where the Albanians were.

That they were Slavic was obvious. The men were wearing either leather or tracksuits. The women were wearing their fashionable clothes slightly too small. They were all smoking like Soviet smelters.

And, when we got in line behind one short, muscley, leather-clad man, he shot me an ice-cold stare that clearly said if I got in way of the arms deal about to go down here inside the Taco Bell, neither me nor any of my second cousins would live to see tomorrow.


And thus I realized that I am biased against Eastern Europeans. I don't mean to be--I don't even watch old James Bond movies!--but they're scary!!!

We knew they were Albanians, because the coat of arms was on the sleeve of one of the tracksuits---

Or perhaps other Eastern Europeans use that crest as well just because it's so cool. That could explain why we seem to be meeting so many Albanians lately....

Or maybe they're just watching us.....

Anyway, the Albanians--all forty-five of them--were obviously doing the tourist thing in America, and smoking in the parking lot then going in for Grilled Stuft Burritos then smoking in the parking lot is an obvious must for any tourist doing the tourist thing in America.

And they seemed like a happy and well adjusted bunch with happy and well adjusted kids. Just so long as I didn't look into their eyes. Because then all I could see was bloodstains on moldy concrete walls.


Tune in next time for Episode IIII: HOUSE KEYS.


Heading Back Home
episode ii
Pees with bees


In our last episode, we managed to get as far as picking up our viciously yellow rental car. Now it is time for


Pees with bees

Normally we head through Wasco when we want to get to the 5 from Bakersfield, but the rental car place is on Seventh Standard Road, so we just stuck to it and went straight to the 5 on it, which is generally rumored to be quicker anyway.

The 5 is the California autobahn but I restrained myself by using the cruise control. The 5 is also a soulless street. It's a shame the 99 isn't as speedy because it is much more pleasant a drive than the desolate (and sometimes smelly) wastelands that run alongside the 5.

If, by "wastelands," you imagined unpopulated nothingness, you are on the right track. It is unpopulated nothingness. Unless you include the hundreds and hundreds of beehives that just moved in. (Where the bees find sustenance is beyond me, but there are the hives, in clumps of three hundred.) And so when the Big O declared an immediate need to pee, there was nothing to do in this nothingness but take the next exit and find a reasonably private patch of dead brown and let him pee.

Except getting out of the car is suddenly fraught with peril.

I'm not afraid of bees. I'm thirty years old and have never been stung and have for years and years had a cavalier attitude about the critters and a fearless manner when dealing with bees and their pals the wasps and the yellowjackets and other stinging beasties. But suddenly the rules have changed.

Before I even turn the car off, the car is swarmed with dozens of bees desperate for a flower. And when the world's biggest yellowest beauty pulls up for their pleasure, who are they to say no? They are crawling around, probing about, looking for nectar, finding none. I'm not sure how we'll be able to get in and out of the car without bees finding their accidental way inside.

Somehow I manage to get O out without letting any in. I cannot say how.

For reasons I feel very strongly about but which I don't feel like getting into now, the Big O has not been trained in the art of peeing while standing. And there we are off the 5. Nothing to sit on. Down an embankment, off a freeway ramp. No toilet for the practical equivalent of a billion miles.

Solution: I hold him parallel to the ground so he may pee straight down.

Tangent: This morning I hear Lady Steed yell, "Oh, gross!"

The Big O has a tendency to pee sideways now and then. This morning he managed that trick and peed all over his leg. He grabbed a tissue and wiped off his leg. Then used the same tissue to wipe his nose.

Anyway, there I am, my arms outstretched, squatting on the ground--Lady Steed yelling down to me that ten or so bees are crawling on my back--the Big O's pants to his ankles, lying naked in my arms, supposedly pointing downwards.

Then he pees.

Now, I'm not a parent with a lot of gross stories, but here I am, in a hostile, insect land, my car under attack, my shirt under investigation, holding a peeing three-year-old, his pee suddenly appearing not down but straight to his right

directly away from me. Phew. That was close. That was not thinking, Theric. But lesson learned without a soaking. That's the best way.

What precisely Lady Steed was doing while I was helping the Big O is not certain, but when I got back in the car, miraculously bee free once again, I am informed that she needs things out of the trunk and that, if I will look, the hood of the car is now covered with our food.


Get out of the car.

Get into trunk.

Remove item.

Don't let any bees in!

Slip it through her door.

Don't let any bees in!

Get food off hood.

Accidentally squash bee in the process.


Don't bee corpses let off some chemical that pisses them all off?

As a former Kern County newspaper reporter, I know perfectly well that all bees south of Fresno (ALL BEES) are Africanized.


RIP, Theric.

We knew thee well.

Hurriedly slip food through Lady Steed's door.

Don't let any bees in!

Go around to the driver's door.

Jump up and down.

Shake shirt.


Slip inside.

Don't let any bees in!

Start car and drive off.

Get a couple miles down the 5.

Observe the beehives stretching to the horizons.

"Oh. You wanted to drive, didn't you."

"It's fine. Just keep going."

"Are you sure?"

"I said it's fine."

Tune in next time for Episode III: THE ALBANIANS.


Svithe: The Parable of the Drunk Driver


For behold, a man is like unto a drunk driver who, if he watcheth the line upon the road and strayeth not from its path, may well make it home without tragedy.

But, if he looketh at the pretty headlights of oncoming traffic, he will be attracted to them and end up killing a family of four that just closed escrow on their first home.

So it is with us.

last week's svithe


Heading Back Home
episode i
Packing the van,
Packing the car


So we spent twelve days with my parents, away from the wild worlds of El Cerrito and into the wild worlds of Tehachapi. And then we left. This is that story


Packing the van, packing the car

Lady Steed and I awoke early to pack up my parents' van. The problem was that, van or not, the thing isn't really meant to hold both people and stuff at the same time. So we struggled to fit all the stuff we brought and all the stuff that appeared over Christmas into a very small space indeed.

You see, we did not drive to Tehachapi; my sister drove us. And now we needed to get to Bakersfield to pick up a rental car for home.

And, you further see, we were not taking as few people as possible, but as many people as possible. Besides us three were my parents my sister my nephew. Total: 7. Available seatbelts: 6.

And don't forget all our junk.

So Lady Steed and I struggled and pushed and managed to get a rather astonishing amount of stuff into a rather astonishingly small space. Then we gave up and announced failure.

At which point my father walked outside and opened the back of the van and was covered in an avalanche of luggage and boxes and yarn.

Time passes.

We wanted to leave at eight, but knew we couldn't hope for better than nine.

But my dad, the master packer, gets everything in without removing seats and we're good to go by a little after eight.

By "we" I am by no means including everyone.

Then Mom remembers to send 32 quarts of homemade applesauce with us.

We unpack the van.

We pack the van.

Time passes.

We all load in. We use four of the available six seatbelts. After all, if we are going to die, we may as well die together.

We're only about fifteen minutes behind schedule to pick up our car as we approach Bakersfield. Then the pregnant lady decides we need oranges, so we pull off at Edison to stop at the Depot to buy 339 oranges in three good-sized boxes. Where will they go? Well, the pregnant lady holds one on her "lap" and the other two sit atop my father's outstretched legs, buckling his knees. And we get back on the freeway and speed ahead to Meadows Field where I have the opportunity to take several speedbumps at father-crippling speeds before we figure out where to get our car.

The car is a small car and ferociously yellow. Family members place odds on the number of tickets Theric will get over the next five hours. Thanks, family.

But everything fits easily into the car. Much more easily than they did in the van.

As we pack, our progress is observed by a handful of honeybees who think the car is a gigantic flower and search about for friendly stamen.

Car packed.

Hugs kisses etc.

This is a not particularly portentous beginning. Or so it seemed.

Tune in next time for Episode II: PEES WITH BEES.


The Damnation of Orson Scott Card


So. Orson Scott Card.

I should start by acknowledging that he and I have a lot in common, lest I be accused of ignorant favoritism. We're both Mormon, BYU alums, returned missionaries, a little snotty in our opinions, and strong in the faith that art and commerciality are not divorced.

That said, if you can respect my opinion, I believe that he is the best writer currently working in the English Language. I'm not saying he hasn't had misfires, but I don't see how anyone can read, say, Speaker for the Dead, and not agree that it is the work of a true master.

My first exposure to----

PAUSE: Sorry, but I can't decide how to refer to the man. OSC is silly. Card is overly formal. Scott is too personal. Hmmm. Well. What the hey. I'll say Scott.

My first exposure to Scott's work was not through his fiction however--I was aware of it (Ender's Game was my best friend's favorite book)--but had never read any. So my first exposure to his work was reading my parents' copy of A Storyteller in Zion, given to them by my beloved grandmother and, to the best of my knowledge, never read by anyone but me and my writer brother Wyote.

I have since read the book several times, have checked it out from more than one library, have purchased my own copy. To say that it has influenced my aesthetic sensibilities is to say earthquakes have influenced the landscape of my homestate. That book has been hugely influential, to the point where I can no longer be sure what my prior opinions were.

Anyway, I still haven't made it to the damning o' Scott, so let me move on.

One year Lady Steed and I purchased Sarah for my mother for Christmas. And she loved it. My sister Canary revealed last night that she despised the book because she found the characterization unrealistic. Fine criticism. Then she told us she dismissed Ender's Game also, this time because of language. That I can accept also, to a point, but this is where the conversation broke down.

I refused to dismiss an author that prefers honesty over an empty purity, but this was not a position easily defended. My mom took on Scott's "split personality", writing one thing for his LDS audience and another for his "worldly" audience. My father was similarly appalled that alleged Saints could justify even a single damn in their fiction.

The best defense, in my mind, is that an author's job is to tell true stories. But this is not seen as a tenable position by people who can't get over the fact that fiction is nothing more than a pack of lies.

So while they're happy for me selling my first book, and even though my work, as a whole, is remarkably clean, how long till I join the ranks of Mormon authors generally assumed to be apostate ne'er-do-wells who sold their soul for fame and glory? How long till I am diagnosed with a split personality and worldliness and evil? How long till I am damned?

At this point, if I were a student, I would delve into Storyteller and start quoting things like "There are three types of evil in relation to fiction: Evil depicted in fiction. Evil advocated by fiction. Evil enacted by fiction." or "The criticism always boiled down to the idea that I had shown ugly things on stage.... Didn't I realize that a true Latter-day Saint artist would not make his audience think of ugly or difficult things...?"

But I am not a student and I'm not trying to argue my point to absolute victory.

What I am doing is making something of a statement on where I stand. And this is it:

♦ - It is the responsibility of the artist to tell the truth (even within a pack of lies).

♦ - Sometimes telling the truth is not the pretty and feel-good thing to do.

♦ - I intend to tell the truth.

♦ - And if I go to hell, maybe I can hang with Scott, and we can tell each other stories.

The First Official Post of 2007


(california time)