Generational shift


When I was a little boy in Montpelier, Idaho, the friend I probably played with the most was redheaded Jeremy Peterson who was my same age and lived directly across the street.

We had many good time together, Jeremy and me, but there was one striking difference that grew only more striking as we aged: Only one of us was a sports guy.

So Jeremy would come home from Little League practice (he was brought up from Pee-Wee early; I abandoned Pee Wee early) and would want to teach me fielding skills.

"Grab it like it's a bag of candy!" he would shout. "Throw it away like it's a bomb!"

I had a hard time getting into it. I missed being cowboys and shooting our cap guns.

Anyway, the years pass--twenty-plus--and I become a father with a preternaturally talented sports guy for a first child.

now his thing is baseball, but he also shows the knack for football,
hockey, basketball, soccer and golf*. And today he got to go visit the Dude and he insisted
on bringing his bat and ball.

But here's the thing: the Dude doesn't get the whole it's-candy-/-it's-a-bomb thing. So I feel for him. His friend's coming over and all the guy wants to do is play baseball.

Why don't we play trains anymore???

Ah, those halcyon days of choochoos....

I hope they're having a good time.






percy no more




Today we blessed the Large S in sacrament meeting and it reminded me of one of the most beautiful descriptions of what it means to be Mormon. I thought today I would simply pass it along. Margaret Young is a highly regarded LDS writer and after the PBS special, people were interested, so she wrote.

And people were interested! I've been surprised how many people watch PBS.

Anyway, here is her reply. I thought it really nailed the LDS experience in a lovely way.

If you can nail things in a lovely way....


last week's svithe


To your left (volume six)


    Cicada was the first blogger I had never met (but who had boucoup online social capital) to laugh at my jokes and link to me. Ergo, I owe her my fealty. Don't tell her though because her needs are totally out of my league. Hoo!

    I don't know if I should say anything at all about editorgirl because I like her too much to say only a little and I don't want to obligate her to read a lot and, well, she should really be working on her thesis.

Ambrosia Ananananananas
    Brozy gave me a book. Brozy gave me a book. Brozy gave me a book.

    I love love love Brozy!

    I first met her at her apartment where she had cake and strawberries. This is also where I met editorgirl, incidentally, and a couple other people coming up ahead in this volume including

    who is so smart I get scared sometimes. Thank goodness he married someone not scary in Brozy. Not that she's not smart, but she's not scary. These things are not, contrary to popular believe, mutually inclusive.

J "don't call her jessica" B
    was also at that party with her hubby Lunk, who blogs at the same link.

    They, like us, now live near the Bay and we've gone for ice cream together. And this time--bonus!--they didn't totally make out in front of us.

    Love you guys!

    Daltongirl is who I want to be when my kids are hers ages. Only she's a girl.

    Or actually, you know what I really want? Her husband's hair. It's what I've wanted since high school, but mine is stubbornly colored. It probably won't change until Lady Steed's freaked out about me getting old and she'll make me dye it.

    I'm going pink.

    It's startling to me, given how long we've known each other and through so many different venues of knowing, that I have actually only met Edgy once--at a Fobbian Blog Party. Unbelievable! He outreads me, is a renowned editor, and knows the alphabet.

    I am ashamed.

    I'm not cool enough for Firstmango or Secondmango. So I'm awful happy that the man with the hair likes me.

    Wait. Kirsa changed her name. I just remembered.


    I gotta fix that.

    And then assign her a brandnew personality.

      met Chuck Norris.

      made me laugh.

      sat on the floor for long periods of time.

      prayed for my burning soul.

      been absurdly cool and fun to hang with.

      stubbornly insisted on being one of the scads and scads of people on this list who refuses to move to the Bay Area and eat ice cream with me.

The Franchise
    All he cares about is winning Settlers of Catan. And you can tell him I said so.

    Need a reason to party? Absent can give it to you. That seems like recommendation enough.

    She's marrying Yarjka. Neither of them are posting. Draw your own conclusions.

The Gundos
    They're in Hawaii right now.


    They are ALWAYS in Hawaii.

    Pretty much everyone I know is jealous.

    Thank goodness we're all good Christians.

    Stupid is consistently hilarious. What he's not consistently is posting and he had danged well better feel guilty about it because it makes me sad.

    You're making me sad, Stupid!

    On the bright side, Stupid bought the Thteeds barbeque once. That was awesome. Awesome is the opposite of sad.

    So I guess if you won't post any more frequently, Stupid, you should buy us more food. That's always acceptable.

    Also: Love the First Mate's room. Still.

Volume One, 1990 - 1999
Volume Two, 2000 - 2000
Volume Three, 2002
Volume Four, 2003 - 2004
Volume Five, 2005

Check it out! I finally finished off Voldemort!


delicious dark wizard


Check, check, check (21-40)


(....continuing on the AFI's new 100 greatest american movies list....)


21. "Chinatown," 1974.
    I read a great book about Hollywood and the movies a couple years ago and Chinatown was a movie the author dwelt on quite a bit. So I'm totally excited to someday maybe getting around to watching it. Totally.

22. "Some Like It Hot," 1959.
    No one is going to deny this movie is entertaining, but I don't understand the love people throw at it. What's the deal? It's a couple guys in drag! And Marilyn in a really hot dress! This is Great Art?!?!?!


23. "The Grapes of Wrath," 1940.
    Um, I've driven by the Keene Ranch many times. And yeah, the history here affects my home county pretty heavily. But no, I just don't care. I don't know if I ever will.

24. "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," 1982.
    Am I the only person of my generation who thinks this movie is totally overrated and not worth my time?

25. "To Kill a Mockingbird," 1962.
    A good movie, certainly. Haven't seen it in years, but would not mind seeing it again.

26. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," 1939.
    Claude Rains rocked Casablanca and he rocks this movie as well. Jimmy Stewart rocked Vertigo and It's a Wonderful Life and he rocks this movie as well. This is the American Dream--not in a monetary sense, but in a Raise Hell in the Bureaucracy sense, which is every bit as powerful a dream.

27. "High Noon," 1952.
    Holy smokes, have you seen this movie??? It is awesome. Gary Cooper can kick your dad's trash! And not only that, but he's so...quiet. noble. good. Not many heroes like him.

28. "All About Eve," 1950.
    This movie deserves all the love it gets and more. If you haven't seen that girl sneak into Bette Davis's life, you cannot imagine how awful life can get. This is one of the few movies I am absolutely opposed to remaking, no matter that the story is excellent and a new generation should see it. You cannot remake perfection. Not even for boucoup box office.

29. "Double Indemnity," 1944.
    You know this movie, right? Well, you should--it does mention Tehachapi after all. If you ever get tired of Barbara Stanwyck being nice (if such a thing is possible), check out her evil side. And if you only know Fred MacMurray from his flying-cars days, check out his noir side. This is dark and dirty and the sort of evil it's nice to come home to.

30. "Apocalypse Now," 1979.
    Haven't seen it. Really want to, but I still haven't really forgiven Joseph Conrad for the things he did to me in high school. You understand.

31. "The Maltese Falcon," 1941.

32. "The Godfather Part II," 1974.
    Like the Godfather, I got it....I just haven't, you know, bothered to watch it yet. Don't ask me why. I don't have an excuse. Please don't kill me. Or my horse.

33. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," 1975.
    Good movie. Jack's great. The nurse is evil. Billy is heartbreaking. The ending is horrible.

34. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937.
    You're about to read me make a point I'll be making again on this list, which is this: This movie does not belong on this list and was not put here because of its own merits. This movie appears on this list where it does as a representation of the entire art of animation. And that is offensive. As if animation does not deserve to compete fairly with these other films instead of being corralled up, the represented by a single film! It's ridiculous!

    Anyway, Snow White isn't even that great. It's just the first that ever there was and it was a huge blockbuster in its day. Arguably more tickets sold to see Snow White on its initial run than any other movie ever (possibly excepting Birth Of A Nation (off the new list--no doubt due to its blatant racism) and Gone with the Wind). So yes: it's a wildly important flick.

    But it's really not that great.

    And the reason it's here really ticks me off.

35. "Annie Hall," 1977.
    Ah, Woody Allen. My man! I love this movie, buddy. I don't know if it's my personal favorite, but I do love it and it is probably your best. Glad to see it on the list.

36. "The Bridge on the River Kwai," 1957.
    I'm just not that into POW movies. So even though Alec Guinness is in this movie, I probably will never see it. I just can't imagine he'll be all that hilarious in a POW movie. Aren't they usually downers?

37. "The Best Years of Our Lives," 1946.
    I don't know anything about this movie other than Myrna Loy is in it. Ergo it is the greatest movie ever made.

38. "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948.
    I have no idea why I have not seen this movie yet. I've been desperate to for years.

39. "Dr. Strangelove," 1964.
    I saw this movie in high school and the only part I really liked was when Keenan Wynn shot the Coke machine (serves 'em right). I didn't find Peter Sellers funny in any of his roles. Knew too much about the plot coming into it. Was a teenager.

    People I respect say I should try it again now. That I'll probably like it.

    They're probably right.

40. "The Sound of Music," 1965.
    Watched it every year as a kid and always liked it. But that's a lot of watches and I just can't feel anxious to see it again. Not yet. Not yet....


What's in a name?
(a late july svithe)

biggo and largesse.

We have not settled on a blogonym for Child the Second, but I am going to try a naming system on for size as part of this post. This naming system requires a renymming of Child the First, so be prepared.


We've had a hard time with this because we are desperate to keep the name from indicating he has a subservient or secondary status to Biggo. So names like Squeaky and Sidekick, which had a lot going for them, were rejected. (Although if you heard this kid nurse...you might insist on calling him Squeaky anyway.)

I'm reading a book now all about preventing sibling rivalry and this not-comparing issue is a big one with them. So we didn't want to peg the new guy with a name that would always make him seem like a baby. Because the way Biggo's blogonym has stuck to him, well, who wants to be Nursing Squeakers at fifteen?

All of which brings me back to possibly my favorite Elder Holland talk, which I have svithed before. In summary, my brother's success does not mean I am a failure. And we want to pick a name that proclaims that.

So far Biggo has been very loving and 42-month-old responsible towards his little brother Largess, and I hope that will prove a lasting trend. they'll need a true ally to deal with their wacko father after all. Biggo is already embarrassed of me, telling me to stop singing already, et cetera.

Family is a beautiful thing--the best. I'm glad my sons have each other. I hope they are always friends. All the way to eternity.

last week's svithe


Check, check, check (1-20)


The AFI has released a new Best 100 list (in case you hadn't heard). Once upon a time, Lady Steed and I used the last list as a source of evening planning. I'm going to be examining over a series of five posts how our efforts to be filminstas has been going by applying our filmic experiences to the new list:

1. "Citizen Kane," 1941.
    We watched this a few years back and were underwhelmed. But we feel bad, oh gods of film, so we picked up this schmancy restored two-disc version which has since been sitting unopened on our dresser ever since. But we're going to open it soon. And watch it. And love it. We promise.

2. "The Godfather," 1972.
    I picked up the entire trilogy for $5.87 back in oh-four (several copies, actually, but I sold the others for about $30 a pop--which is how much they cost new now. And, um, yeah. Haven't watched any of them yet. Heh. Heh heh.

    But hey! We did watch the $1 copy of FFC's Dementia 13 we picked up at Target!

3. "Casablanca," 1942.
    So I borrowed this movie from work. The first time we watched it, it was like dejavu because I knew every single line from this movie I had never seen.

    I did not know if I liked it or not.

    I watched it 1.5x more that weekend.

    We've since bought our own copy and it's one of my favorite movies. If you have never seen it yet, see it now.

4. "Raging Bull," 1980.
    Scorsese, right? Boxing, right? Maybe someday.

5. "Singin' in the Rain," 1952.
    It's a sad truth that we only have this movie on VHS because this movie is awesome. Really. And as I get older, the two scenes I used to fast-foward through only get better.

6. "Gone With the Wind," 1939.
    You know, I'm not sure if I've ever seen this? I sort of have a policy against seeing three-hour films unless I really really want to see them.

7. "Lawrence of Arabia," 1962.
    Like this one. I really really want to see this one. But on the big screen. Or HD.

8. "Schindler's List," 1993.
    I'm ashamed.

9. "Vertigo," 1958.
    Good that this film moved so far up the list. Bad that it's still not number one. Worse that I missed a chance to see this on the big screen earlier this year.

    I want to replace our copy with a sweet Criterion Edition, but there isn't one yet.

10. "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.
    Okay. If you can't say anything nice....

    I rewatched this movie (not my choice) earlier this year and it was actually pretty compelling. Stupid in different ways from the stupid book it was based on and probably more compelling. Though I still despise the ending.

    We still have a copy because you cannot be culturally literate in America and not know this movie. But I'm must more excited to watch our copy of the racist version (alleged) and see if all the fuss is warranted.

11. "City Lights," 1931.
    Seen it. It was good. Eleventh best movie of all time? Eh. Maybe eleventh most important, but that's not the same thing, is it?

12. "The Searchers," 1956.
    Good ole John Wayne, showing up in the top twenty. It's entirely possible I saw this at the grandparents' as a kid, but I don't remember.

13. "Star Wars," 1977.
    Well, yeah. Duh.

14. "Psycho," 1960.
    Psycho changed my life. But I've mentioned this before (here and here, for instance.)

15. "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.
    Never all the way through. Someday, I swear. If I can just get past those dang monkeys....

16. "Sunset Blvd.", 1950.
    In high school. I would probably appreciate it much more now.

17. "The Graduate," 1967.
    No. Like the songs though.

18. "The General," 1927.
    The Big O and I went and saw this together at UC Berkeley and we both loved it. His favorite part? Were the train falls off the bridge into the river. (What else)?)

    Note: Had you any idea that movie's based on a true story?

19. "On the Waterfront," 1954.
    Again, not since high school and, well, boxing

20. "It's a Wonderful Life," 1946.
    Everyone who loves this movie please raise your hand.

    There's a bunch of men with rifles waiting outside for the rest of you.


Free like a Fish


    Where suspicion fills the air and holds scholars in line for fear
    of their jobs, there can be no exercise of the free intellect. . . .
    A problem can no longer be pursued with impunity to its edges. Fear
    stalks the classroom. The teacher is no longer a stimulant to adventurous
    thinking; she becomes instead a pipe line for safe and sound information.
    A deadening dogma takes the place of free inquiry. Instruction tends to
    become sterile; pursuit of knowledge is discouraged; discussion often
    leaves off where it should begin.
      Justice William O. Douglas,
      United States Supreme Court:
      Adler v. Board of Education, 1951


Well. It's Wednesday. What have you got to say about that?


On trash and the joys of living in the future


Just a block away in the next county, the garbage collectors are on strike. So the city of Albany--a high-end place to live, with its excellent schools and manicured lawns--has not had its trash collected for a couple weeks. And these beautiful neighborhoods, which the Big O and I just walked through on our way to the park, stink like a well managed dump.

Poor Albany.


Seven Years Hitched


Did you happen to catch Sesame Street this morning? Maria and Luis were trying to celebrate their anniversary in the park with a quiet picnic, but they kept getting interrupted by people singing about laughing or staging impromptu game shows or hulaing. Yeah.

Saturday was our seventh anniversary and Lady Steed spent it sick in bed. Not that it mattered--it started with my parents in town and included the Big O and I gone much of the day on vital errands. Et cetera.

By the time Lady Steed was finally cognizant and not fully baby-involved, it was time to go to bed to collapse in sleep. We still haven't, you know, exchanged gifts or sly glances or anything of the sort.

Last year's anniversary?

We moved.

When we first were married, I could foresee no excuse not to make each anniversary an occasion. So far, not so good.

But inconveniences and practicalities obscure the greater point: that we are married and love each other and are going strong.

Lady Steed is woven into my person like gold on a blue ribbon and I need her.
Lady Steed defines my being like sun falling on newly sprouted clover and I love her.

It sucks--it really really sucks--that we couldn't go to, oh, Prague on Saturday, but we are together and one and we love each other.

I love you, love.

And with luck I'll be home by seven.

Maybe we can, I don't know, sit on the porch and share a peach or something. That would be nice.



'...something that helps shy people make that secret connection...'.

It seems to be a requirement that to be Mormon, one must be gregarious. It's not really, but us introverts can sometimes feel a little sinny, if you know what I mean. We're not doing the best job with Proclaiming the Gospel or Perfecting the Saints. So if we lack the necrophiliac tendency (that's a joke), what are we to do?

On one hand, we should try to be more outgoing anyway--it's good for us. And besides, since when is quietude an excuse to let people make their way merrily to hell (note: I'm having fun with hyperbole tonight)? Am I so jealous of my little dark corner that I sill not ever walk outside it?

I'm not sure where this is coming from. Yes, I do not often enough act in an outgoing manner. No, I do not stress about it that much. Nor enough, shall we say. But I probably have bigger things to worry about.

But then again, if Peter or Paul were shy and had let that overwhelm their call to preach what then?

Ah, but they were called.

I think with me, I'm a fine calling magnifier, but I'm not much of a callingless magnifier. (I apologizer for the Mormon-heavy vocab for those who are not.) I believe firmly in sinning on the side of doing to much, but I don't necessarily act according to that conviction.

That's a lot of what this svithe was about, and it made the point better, probably, and without all this whining for which I apologize.

So that's enough from me for tonight. Maybe I'll--I don't know--go blow a trumpet from the rooftop or something.

last week's svithe


Tenth Five Books of 2007


The Ruins by Scott Smith
50) The Ruins by Scott Smith, finished July 13
    Appropriate to finish this Friday the 13th...hadn't noticed that before.... ¶ So this book was pretty good. But unsatisfying. I had heard and read so much about how this book is gripping from the moment it begins and never let goes that I was in total suspense from page one--but only because of those reviews. Without them, I never would have guessed that this book was going to be so terrifying. And it was pretty terrifying. I can't look at our pumpkin vines growing across the driveway in innocence anymore.... The make me nervous. ¶ The book was good enough I still want to read his first, but it wasn't all I hoped it would be. Perhaps if I had read it quicker, the necessary ending would not have occurred to me ahead of time. But perhaps if the book hadn't been so willing to let me set it down and not pick it back up, I would have read it quicker. ¶ If you're looking for a scare and you're headed to Mexico, read it now. Otherwise...whatever.
    two weeksish

Favorite Stories by the Reys
49) Favorite Stories by Margret Rey, illustrated by H.A. Rey, finished July 12
    It occurred to me with the Big O's return from vacay today (as he immediately had me read a couple stories from this book) that a) this book qualifies for this list and b) I never included it when I first finished it. So I'm including it now and, even if it qualifies numerous times, I'm never including it again. Partially because I just don't like it that much and I regret talking Lady Steed into letting me buy it. ¶ See, heres the thing--these stories have terrible morals. Sure they're whimsical and fun, but their moral underpinning is just awful. Behold-----Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys: If you want friends, you need to let people take advantage of you; and no matter how humiliating it may seem, you must like it too. Elizabite: Adventures of a Carnivorous Plant: Violence is hilarious. Pretzel: All he has to do is find the right stunt, and the studly guy will always get the girl. Katy No-Pocket: It's important to have the best stuff so you can be better than everyone else. Spotty: Racism's not bad, but it is kind of a bother. Whiteblack the Penguin Sees the World: Stealing will impress your friends.
    a couple weeks perhaps

Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
48) Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins, finished July 2
    Far be it from me to be disagreeable, but I, unlike the rest of the world (eg, notably, Edgy and 'sposa), really liked this book. Yes: nothing happens. Yes: the writing is like a goofy experiment. Yes: the method for assigning the appropriate title was scattershot. No: it's not perfect. But yes, I liked it. ¶ No one in their right mind would want to be a teenager again, but it did have some halcyon elements that finally dissipated with adulthood. This book has preserved them--bottled them--for your consumption. ¶ But seriously: check it out from the library--you don't need to buy it. ¶ Thanks to Lady Steed for making me read a book Edgy had made me talk bad about all this time.
    two possibly three weeks

Flight Volume Three edited by Kazu Kibuishi
47) Flight Volume Three edited by Kazu Kibuishi, finished June 27

Nobody Is Perfick by Bernard Waber
46) Nobody Is Perfick by Bernard Waber, finished June 14
    Okay. Let's be frank. This book is nothing more than a series of depressing stories for children. Are you into that? Then you're into this. Nuff sed.
    a day


045) First Paragraphs: Inspired Openings for Writers and Readers by Donald Newlove, finished June 12
044) The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking, finished June 11
043) Dune by Frank Herbert, finished June 9
042) The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels by Thomas Cahill, finished June 8
041) The Roald Dahl Omnibus by Roald Dahl, finished June 6
040) Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo, finished May 31
039) The End by Lemony Snicket, finished May 23
038) The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962 by Charles M. Schultz, finished May 22
037) The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket, finished May 21
036) The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket, finished May 18
035) The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, finished May 15
034) Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, finished May 14
033) Chip Kidd: Book One: Work: 1986-2006 by Chip Kidd, finished May 9
032) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, finished May 7
031) The Complete Peanuts 1959-1960 by Charles M. Schulz, finished April 25
030) Devils & Demons edited by Marvin Kaye, finished April 23
029) Talk Talk Talk: Decoding the Mysteries of Speech by Jay Ingram, finished April 23
028) Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, finished April 20
027) The Long Chalkboard: and Other Stories by Jennifer Allen and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, finished April 19
026) Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, finished April 19
025) Frank by Jim Woodring, finished April 12
024) The Complete Concrete by Paul Chadwick, finished April 3
023) The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde, finished March 30
022) Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, finished March 28
021) Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller et al, finished March 23
020) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, finished March 16
019) Batman: Gothic by Grant Morrison et al, finished March 13
018) Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, finished March 7
017) Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald, finished March 7
016) 50 Professional Scenes for Student Actors: A Collection of Short 2 Person Scenes by Garry Michael Kluger, finished March 6
015) Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda, finished March 5
014) Frindle by Andrew Clements, finished March 1
013) Brain Wave by Poul Anderson, finished February 27
012) The Best American Comics 2006 edited by Harvey Pekar and Anne Elizabeth Moore, finished February 26
011) Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, finished February 15
010) The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ edited by Mormon and Moroni, finished February 7
009) Lisey's Story by Stephen King, finished February 1
008) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, finished January 26
007) Empire by Orson Scott Card, finished January 24
006) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, finished January 22
005) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, finished January 17
004) Superman Adventures Vol. 1: Up, Up and Away! by Mark Millar, finished January 16
003) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, finished January 12
002) Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, finished January 11
001) Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 10