Funny to Serious: five increasingly svithey thoughts


1. I have had a problem of late, starting short stories that are lol funny and then, the deeper in we go, seeing them get more and more serious till they feel like Russian novels, only sadder.

2. Humor as a career choice seems to be something that people develop a shame for. And I don't know why. Theseadays we see it most clearly in actors such as Jim Carrey. What's wrong with the funny?

3. I was looking for a Joseph Smith quotation this morning and I discovered that although he accused himself of youthful levity, later in life folks remarked on how levity-free he was.

4. Goats.

5. Humor is an essential part of life. Even Jesus knew this. (You can't tell me the friends-of-Mammon crack ain't funny.) But I suppose there's a time and a place for everything.

a crummy church sign

last week's svithe


Read “The Widower” in the company of brilliant insightful people


Man. Should have saved that Irreantum post for Monday.

Anyway, one more for today. While you're waiting for The Fob Bible release party to start, head on over to Motley Vision where my very own "The Widower" is this week's Short Story Friday short story. Read it up, leave a comment, discuss, enjoy.

Hup! hup!

Fob Bible Release Party! Live! Tonight!


Stop by any time after six pm! Exclamation point!

The stories I will not be submitting to Irreantum


I try to enter Irreantum's fiction contest every year although I don't always get something done on time and often end up sending in something half-baked because I couldn't get my act together. Here are three stories--one from last year, two from this--that I intended to submit but that never quite got put together.

    I have a theory that a great genre story will do well in the Irreantum contest, but the only genre fiction I ever finish seems to be horror and the only LDS example, The Oracle, had the Mormon written right out of it during the first draft. This story was a deliberate attempt to write and LDS sf/horror story. A missionary couple in Africa travels from village to village digging wells. In one town the discover a horrendous Dr Moreau-esque operation by a multinational corporation that is killing and horribly mutating children. I think I couldn't finish it primarily because I hadn't done the research on well-digging missions. Without that basis, the rest of it couldn't gel.

And their (formerly) virgin brides throw themselves from the spires of the temple into the murky waters of the great Salt Lake
    This one I hope to have ready for next year. It had too much silliness to write out in order to finish on time, but I love its title and its characters and its chiastic structure. "Maxwell knew well how well these damn Mormons could talk people into crap." How's that for an opening line?

An Atheist Girl Marries Outside the Faith
    Frustrated with "Brides from the Spires" I started thumbing through old notebooks and found a page of notes from c. 2003 with this title and a few lines of dialogue between the girl and her father. And it was funny. I decided to give it a shot and I quickly made progress on the tale, but as I proceeded, the story got less and less funny and more and more racy and I was less and less sure how to end it. I worked on it again last night and added 1000 words but got no clearer sense of where to end it. I just need to let it sit a few months and then come back to it. Maybe I can submit it next year. If, you know, I ever finish it. And it's any good. You know. Those sorts of things. Responsible writer stuff.


Aren’t bonobos those apes that have constant recreational sex?
Why would you name pants after such a beast?


I need new pants. I've reached the same point Ralph Waldo Emerson had when, in an address to the Harvard Divinity School, he famously said, "I'm sick to death of crap pants."

I know exactly how he feels.

Not that all my pants are "crap" pants, but I would be okay with some genuinely nice pants. Pants that are comfortable and look decent. I'm not out to become a matinee model, but hey---I wear a tie every day. The pants should be part of the package.

So I saw an ad in Wired that caught my attention and flitted over to Bonobos to check out their wares. And very cool wears they are, if they carry corduroys in these sweetdogallelujah colors:

bonobos costly apparel

Let me swiftly assure you that their pants come in more sensible everyday colors as well, but 1 I love corduroys and 2 cool pants, guys. I will not be copying that belt buckle, but that doesn't affect the coolness of the pants.

But let's say I bought those three pairs up there. I'm now out $374.


Um. I'm a teacher.
    If you are a public school teacher, a fireman, a public servant, a nurse, or any other profession where you've chosen to serve rather than to earn as a first priority, then you may qualify for a Bonobos Band of Brothers discount.

    We'd rather live in a society where school social workers earn just as much as commercial lenders, and people who save lives don't have to work all their lives to save. We don't love Ayn Rand, but we respect some of her ideas. We aren't avaricious investment bankers, but we did work in finance. Essentially, we'd like to make our products a bit more affordable for people that have consciously chosen a career that is less lucrative.
But I wonder, for the price of my application essay, can I really get a discount that puts these threads within my price range?

And if so, can I really feel good about buying orange pants under such circumstances?

These are the ethical questions educators struggle with every day.


Why to buy from Peculiar Pages

The Fob Bible

Buying The Fob Bible directly from Peculiar Pages rather than Amazon or ordering it thorugh your local Barnes and Noble, Deseret Book, or CC'offee Books means that LDS Humanitarian receives nearly double the money. After printing and publisher costs, all proceeds go to LDSH. For a direct purchase, this comes to $6.65, or about 6.65 measles vaccinations. Indirect purchases only clear $3.40 per book.

Save kids! Buy direct!


Svithe: The Parable of the Bay Bridge


And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
    Romans 11:5-6

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Ephesians 2:8

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
    James 2:17

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
    2 Nephi 25:23

Today in sacrament meeting we had a trio of excellent talks based around that final scripture, and the reconciliation of grace and works. All three were excellent, but I have to say the description of grace as being omnipresent in Creation and the basic truth of our relationship with God is most likely to be most helpful to me.

To sum it up (since I have been told this will not appear online and thus I cannot link to it) is that God always offers grace and we either choose to accept it or reject Him. sorry I can't be more eloquent. I should have taken notes.

Anyway, today's svithe is also about grace and, I think, offers some help in reconciling what sometimes seem to be opposing viewpoints in scripture. I'm going back to the idea of grace being what saves us from our sins etc etc and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves etc etc.

Like most folk, upon first hearing of the Parable of the Bicycle I was quite taken with it. But over time I've grown dissatisfied. Given enough time, the little girl could indeed have bought the bike. A better one even.

So I've come up with this as a stopgap parable:

    FOR BEHOLD, works is like unto three bucks. And when I man haveth it he can take his car across the Bay and into San Francisco. Not because the bucks can accomplish such a marvelous task, nor could it ever, nor could a man with three million times that amount drive his car across that great expanse.

    For that can only be accomplished with the big Bay Bridge, which no man can build by himself.

    Grace is like unto that bridge. It is great and it is mighty and it bringeth the man's car into the City, something no man can do by himself.

last week's svithe


If, looking at this image, you think there’s a chance, however slight, that you might lose all respect for me, you’re pro’bly right.


Arkham Tales #3

Books, 41-45 (2009)


What we got here is a Mormon epic poem followed by four comics: DC, DC, DC, then Cypher which is also reviewed here.

045) Love and the Light: An Idyl of the Westland by Orson Ferguson Whitney, finished May 20
    So I did it! I actually read an Orson Whitney poem all the way through! And a 122-page one, at that! How about me?

    Having spent so much time this year thinking about the premortal romance in Mormon literature, that element of Love and the Light is what struck me first. I have probably about a hundred lines on that subject which I copied out into a notebook, but here's a glimpse of what's here:

      "Dawn of love?" Nay, thus the simple,
      Reckoning not with things eternal...

      All things great have preexistance,
      And a claim on life hereafter.
      Be this true of human being,
      Why not true of human loving?

    Whitney very clearly is teaching that God sealed our protagonists together before time began. Which I find unsettling, frankly. For all its lipservice to agency, this book doesn't seem to really accept it.

    The foreword states that "The reader, while absorbing the romance, will partake necessarily of the instruction." And what instruction it is!

    But let's start with the romance. The tale is told by the fated couple's mutual friend, but he is not much of a character. He's less that Walton in Frankenstein.

    The two major characters (all characters are nameless) are a) Harvard-educated lad, erudite, wise, spiritual; a teacher; converts to Mormonism about halfway through and b) brilliant, atheistic, lovely; a teacher; slips deeper into antigodness; (SPOILER!) miraculous conversion near the end as she lies almost dying.

    For the modern reader (the book is 91 years old --- I had to cut some pages to read the whole thing --- love my library), this book has much more to trouble that the agency question however. The concept of foreordained love drives the man to such a degree that he becomes a borderline stalker. I found him rather creepy in all honesty. He was so distasteful that I found myself rooting for her atheism, which I'm quite sure was not Whitney's intent. And her arguments were not the scary blasphemies the text asked to believe. Yes I live near Berkeley, but I think even to a less desensitized person, her arguments are not chillingly evil or whatever.

    Then there is the jingoistic rahrah depiction of the wars in Cuba and the Philippines as the author accepts that America is on God's side in these battles. Check out this footnote:

      81. Ingrate Rebellion (p. 108) The deliverance of the Philippine Islands from Spanish rule was followed by the rebellion of the Filipinos against the Americans, their deliverers, who succeeded in quelling the insurrection and restoring order.

    Not a lot of nuanced internationalism there.

    Having realized he'll never have his blaspheming love, he mourns the loss of she was supposed to be his eternally. Then, when she is forced to abandon her athiest ways after being converted by a remarkable vision, "a gift from God, he claimed her." What choice did she have? After falling at the feet of Jesus and begging entry to heaven she is told they "[turn] back all imperfection / With thy mate thou mayest pass . . . / But without him never---never!"

    Other stuff:

    The book is written almost entirely in trochaic tetrameter which can get plodding if one reads too much at once but as a whole is fine.

    Even though it made me laugh and gasp for the wrong reasons at times, there are moments of transcendence (cf). I liked, for instance, the first halves of Harvard Boy's talks before he, inevitable, took things too far.

    This is classic Home Lit --- writing intended to instruct one in the ways of faith. I doubt it would work to that end with a Mormon audience, but as an artifact of an era, it is readable, enjoyable and just the right length to carry around for a few days.

    four days

044) Tales Of The Batman: Tim Sale by Tim Sale and some motley group of writers, finished May 17
    So everybody loves Tim Sale's take on Batman enough to take all his pre-Long Halloween work and bundle it all together for consumption.

    I had read one of the stories before and it was pretty good. As are all the stories here. But the art really is good. I can see why Sale's so popular. The cover gallery in back was particularly nice.

    Batman by Time Sale

    about four days

043) Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street by Ed Brubaker et al, finished May 13
    Did you know? Apparently Selina Kyle decided to run for mayor of New York, then bit the big one. Tragically, Catwoman died shortly thereafter. I hadn't heard. Tragic. That they would both die, and so close to each other.

    Or did they?

    Of course not. Let's not kid ourselves.

    Catwoman: The Dark End of the StreetThis volume could be called Return of the Catwoman. It contains two stories. One starring a PI who runs her down but lets her go. The second chronicles her move from thief to vigilante. Although don't let the word "vigilante" put you in mind of, say, Batman. Catwoman is interested in protecting the otherwise neglected (eg streetwalkers), and she has no qualms about stealing to fund her efforts. So she's something different from the Boy Scout.

    Anyway, nice book. I love tales told from nonsuper povs and I love the dancing art of Darwyn Cooke and Mike Allred. So I loved this book. Best of this batch of loans.

    two days

041) Aztek - the Ultimate Man by Grant Morrison), Mark Millar, Keith Champagne, Steven Harris; finished May 11
    Ended totally in media res with a thousand balls in the air. What a pisser. I mean---even with a silly costume and background the creative crew got me involved and caring about this guy and the plot thickened and thickened and then---

    That was it. No more. Goodbye. End of story.

    less than a week

040) Cypher by Brad Teare, finished May 7
    I've been emailing Mr Teare lately for an interview and so i finally got around to reading this book which I think I was vaguely aware of back in the Nineties but which I only really became attracted to last summer when I was working on my Survey of Mormon Comix.

    Mr Teare tells me he has material enough for ten more Cypher volumes and I must say it's a shame their not in print. First, his woodcut (scratchboard?) style is great. Second, his composition style is topnotch. Third, his weirdness is so refreshing. It's not pointless weirdness which we see way too much of. Most things labeled surreal or postmodern or dada or whatever are grade-a crap. Not Cypher. He takes the weirdness of weird comics and turns it to something lovely, of good report, praiseworthy.

    Someone get this man a publisher!

    two days or about twenty-four hours


the first five, 1-5
the second five, 6-10
the third five, 11-15
the fourth five, 16-20
the fifth five, 21-25
the sixth five, 26-30
the seventh five, 31-35
the eighth five, 36-40


A patriotic couple of days


Yesterday I voted. I had no idea what the crap most of those props would have done and they all went down exactly as I expected. For the record, I voted yes on all, not sure if that was right but knowing it made no difference.

Today I, for the first time ever, showed up for jury duty. Three cases were slated for trial. All three defendants copped a last minuted plea rather than sit before the Fearsome Theric. How they knew I was there I do not know.

So I'm doing my share at keeping the Constitution alive and well.

You may thank me in the comments.


Couple-Creators: Brad and Debra Teare


Today posts the first interview in my Couple-Creators series, Brad and Debra Teare.

I've also interviewed Mike and Laura Allred and I plan to post theirs next week.

Plus two more in the pipeline! Good stuff!


The rumormongering svithe


So I know, I know: my stated purpose in svithing is to spread Truth and Beauty, but the news that President Obama has tapped Utah's Governor Huntsman (Mormon) to be the new ambassador to China is just too good to not tell whoppers about --- especially since, as far as I know, no one else has started any baseless speculation yet.

And I don't mean that Obama thinks without Huntman Utah will elect a democratic governor because ha!ha!ha! that's crazy. No one would believe that.
    So did you hear that after talking with Obama, he got a call from President Monson?


    Yes! And he's getting all sorts of secret instructions in the tunnels under the temple!


    Yes! And he's being trained in Preach My Gospel!


    Yes! Because he has diplomatic immunity so he can say things like Like Most People We Believe in a Supreme Being as many times as he wants!


    Yes! In fact, Obama's cool with it to --- he thinks its a great way to get back at the Chinese diplomats for all their unpaid parking tickets!


    Yes! And the secret basement under the embassy that the last guy kept stocked with fine Scotch will be filled with Chinese Books of Mormon!


    Yes! And Huntsman will give them away as tips when he eats at restaurants!


    Yes! He's already taken the picture of his family that he's going to stick in the front!




Don't lie, kids. It's not the right thing to do.

(ps: if, postambassadorship, Huntsman gets called as a General Authority, I'm totally running this post again.)

last week's more serious svithe


And so shall they choose to believe in Atlantis -----


I never believed much in Atlantis --- not like I did in Nessie. But I just watched a fascinating show on PBS that, whether Atlantis is ever found or not, shows that disappeared civilizations on a massive scale is hardly unusual.

I had never heard, for instance, of South America posed as a possible site for Atlantis before, and the evidence is hardly strong, but did you know that the ancient Egyptians put tobacco and coca leaves in their mummies now and then? Ends up the oceans were much more porous in ancient times than we realized.

And an awful lot of South America's been destroyed from time to time. And massive civilizations existed in more places than we knew even ten years ago.

In many ways, I felt like I was watching a documentary on Book of Mormon archaeology. (Put that in your Egyptian pipe and smoke it.)

But mostly, it made me realize that we really know so little about anything and as soon as people start talking confidentally about us knowing anything (but especially the future or the past), it's time to nod our heads and walk away.

We'll know more tomorrow than we know now.

And we better not be too secure in our wrong opinions.



The Fob Bible: “From the Desk of Baal’s Secretary”

The Fob Bible.

Hello? Yes, hello? No—I’m sorry:
I’m afraid Mr. Baal is not here.
An emergency? From where are you calling?
Out near Mt. Carmel? Well, I fear
Mr. Baal is engaged and he can’t get away
from all of his business at hand.
It’s a lot of work—well, you try being
the recognized god of the land.


Bright things on the horizon


1 is for Mary, 2 is for Jane
3 is widows, 4 is for pain
5 for when jolly, 6 for when gay
7 to make the whole world go away


Giving in to my sudden need for instafiction


Good gravy, man. What are you doing with that dog?

What did we say about saying good gravy.

I only said it was charming and made me sound British.

No. We said it made you sound like an idiot.

J----- turned back to the puppy who was falling over his oversized feet in hopes of getting his attention. It was horrible, J----- felt, what he was about to do to this dog. And the dog seemed determined to make him feel the full measure of guilt.

So what are you doing, anyway.

I'm testing the explosive you built for me.

On a dog?

Why not a dog? This certainly counts as neutering.

Generally neutering doesn't involved utter destruction.

Well do you have a better suggestion? My kids had a dog. Squirrels are hard to catch. People strike even me as unethical.

But your goal---

Yes, but for practice? Unethical.

Ch-----frowned. Working with these types always left him feeling dirty. He watched as J----- rubbed the powder into the puppy's fur then poured the detonator onto the linoleum.

Ah man, not in my kitchen.

You said surfaces should be unscathed.

Should be. This isn't the most precise method you're using here.

J----- shrugged and pulled a bag of jerky from his back pocket. He tore the top off and pulled out a length of meat. He waved it over the puppy whose hips collapsed from too much wriggly anticipation, the tail whipping back and forth too fast to follow with the eye. Then he tossed the jerky under the table and the puppy took off after it, immediately passing though the detonator. A puff of white smoke and horrible howl.

Geez, J-----! My neighbors are going to hear that.

J----- just watched as the white smoke turned to gray to black until a pile of smoldering bones and ash lay in the puddle. He walked over to the sink and grabbed Ch-----'s sponge mop. He pushed the remains and no mark was left on the linoleum.

Amazing. You're really outdone yourself.

I don't know why you can't just trust me.

J----- snorted.

Okay, okay.

I'll need the full order by Friday?

Friday? You said June!

Can you do Friday?

I'll need some motivation.


I guess that'll do.

See you then.

Aren't you going to clean up the mess?

But the screen door was already swinging shut.


Sickly Svithing on Mother's Day


So I'm home sick on Mother's Day. Lady Steed left me with the baby so she could better enjoy sacrament meeting. Right now we are watching music videos. I know, I know. But we both love this one. We'll probably have watched it a dozen times by the time I finish this svithe.

Anyway, I don't usually do terribly matricentric posts on Mother's Day, but this year the time has come.

Last month as part of her daily poetry project, Darlene posted part of "The Lanyard" by Billy Collins. It struck me so deeply I made it part of my Mother's Day present to my own mother and I bought the book for Lady Steed.

Anyway, in respect for the same copyright laws Darlene aimed to repsect, I'm going to copy only the same portion she did. A link to the entire poem is at her blogpost linked to above.

I thank God for Mothers.

The Lanyard
Billy Collins

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.

last week's svithe


five books --- fcbd edition


Saturday, as I'm sure you observed, was Free Comic Book Day. But because of tball we arrived at celebrations too late to take full advantage of the bounty.

Fortunately, Ben lent me a quantity of his DC library that day, and Comic Relief had a big table of books for around a buck, so even if I didn't bring much free loot into my personal library, it was a good day.

Here are five books from that day (others will be forthcoming). No bonus points for guessing which one was Ben's.

040) My Faith in Frankie by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew, Marc Hempel, finished May 5
    I knew as I read this book that it came from the same inkwells as Re-Gifters. What I didn't realize is that it was the same writing as well. In fact, skew Re-Gifters a little older, add some sex and supernatural elements, and a blind man could see that they share the same genesis. Read more by clicking the picture below.

    My Faith in Frankie

    an evening

039) Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg, finished May 5
    Not as good as the first, but not bad at all. (read more)

    Janes in Love

    two days

Batman R.I.P. 038) Batman: R.I.P. by Grant Morrison et al, finished May 4
    This book gave me unsettled dreams the night after I finished it. If that's sounds like a recommendation, take it as one. But you'll need to read at least the prior two collections to hope to make sense of it (1 and 2 and a bonus)

    So for all the ballyhoo, there is no body for either the Joker or Batman and, as we all know, no body means no death. So there you go.

    Although the free copy of Blackest Night makes me quite uncertain as to Batman's health. When did he get lasered by aliens exactly?

    (Also: I'm in love with Beryl. I want to see her with Robin more often.)

    But did I like this book? Yes I did. Nice Batman story. But not one to read to the kiddies. Oh my no.

    three days

037) 1000 Steps To World Domination by Rob Osborne, finished May 4

036) 110 Per¢ by Tony Consiglio, finished May 4

    from 110 Per¢
    Whar's she goin? Why to read my review of course. Click her to follow.



the first five, 1-5
the second five, 6-10
the third five, 11-15
the fourth five, 16-20
the fifth five, 21-25
the sixth five, 26-30
the seventh five, 31-35


Fight Clubs


Nothing makes their existence seem more necessary than a room filled with 14-year-old boys.


Making the bigtime


I finally got into Mormon Times! Specifically its "Today in the Bloggernacle" feature:

    Comic trailblazer: I loved the phone call transcripts interspersed in this fascinating account about the "Father of Mormon Comics." But Ric Estrada didn't like that designation, wanting instead for everyone to "Call me 'Trailblazer.'" Click to learn about this "first LDS artist in the history of comics." Cool!

In my continued quest for narcissism...


...I have blogged about Lady Steed and myself today at Motley Vision.

Late svithe: Saving spiders


This morning as I was drying off after my shower, I noticed a spider hanging a few feet off my towel. I tried to shake him off, but his web held, so I grabbed the web and dropped him in the sink.

As I continued drying, I noticed that the slope of the sink was such that he could not get out. Even using old toothpaste spit for traction he fell short of the top.

So after I hung my towel back up I chased him with a piece of toilet paper until his web caught on it, then I shook him off behind the toilet.

I don't kill spiders anymore. I don't even transfer them outside unless Lady Steed insists. The connotation of a spider in our home is that there are also many smaller unseen critters roaming about. Spiders are predators. If there was nothing to eat, he would not be here. By removing the spider, I'm letting the ittybitty population go unchecked. And since I don't know what those ittybitties are, I choose to assume that I would rather the spiders eat them than let them overrun us.

Where's the svithe in this?

I believe that spiders are one of the things that we, somewhere deep in our genetic code, instinctively fear and hate. But why should we?

When I reexamined my relationship with spiders, I realized that the spiders' goals coincide with my own. If my house was ittybitty-free, the spiders wouldn't come inside. So if they're here, it means they are doing me a favor.

Thank you, spiders.


last week's svithe


Ric Estrada


Anyone who had been following my Ric Estrada posts on AMV might wish to know that he passed away Friday morning. If you knew Ric personally,
    Viewing: May 8, 2009 from 6 to 8pm @ 1390 N. 2876 W. in Provo, UT
    Viewing: May 9, 2009 from 9:30 to 10:30am just prior to the funeral service @ 1390 N. 2876 W. in Provo, UT
    Funeral Service: May 9, 2009 starting at 11:00am @ 1390 N. 2876 W. in Provo, UT
    Interment: Provo Cemetery immediately following the service


Seventh Five (Hallstrom, Baker, Batman, Superman)


035) Mendoza in Hollywood by Kage Baker, finished May Day
    This is the third novel of The Company by Kage Baker but the first I have read. I first became aware of Kage Baker's The Company in 2002 when I was subscribing to Asimov's. Part of the reason I let that subscription lapse was because most of its content was lousy. But Baker's Company stories were terrific and I loved them. I put In the Garden of Iden (the first of the novels) on my Amazon Wish List and then never got around to actually buying it.

    Last year a parent donated the second and third books in the series, but not the first, so I was paralyzed. This year I decided so what if I don't start at the beginning? and picked up the third volume, this one, which had the more interesting title. And I began to read. And, generally, to be disappointed.

    Now it's been almost a decade since I read the short stories and it may just be that my tastes have changed in that time. But I think what we have here is a concept that works best in small doses.

    Let's talk concept.

    Dr. Zeus and The Company have invented immortality and time travel. Problems: time travel: only can go backwards from your present, not into the future; immortality: it's not really all that great and people don't really want it (although why this is, I cannot understand). So The Company, whose goal is "to make money and improve the lot of humankind", finds orphaned kids in the past, makes them immortal, and puts them to work. So Mendoza, for instance, was made immortal four, five hundred years ago in Spain and has been working as a botanist ever since, saving rare endemic plants so they can, in the future, be used to cure cancer (or whatever).

    Speaking as a fellow writer, the concept is brilliant. You can dig into brilliant characters while placing them at any point in time and space. You want Mendoza in Civil War-era L.A.? Done. Wherever you want her. It's a great trick. Kudos to Baker for coming up with it.

    So how can this concept not work at novel-length? Good question. It's quite the mystery.

    One problem is that Baker loves her research too much. It was fun to read about the immortals watching a salvaged copy of the full nine-hour Greed, but an even long blow-by-blow of Intolerance was too much (although now I want to see it). And this is a science fiction novel about cyborgs so it's hard to parse the fiction from the nonfiction, eg, all the stuff about Catalina Island. Which, as a reader, I find frustrating.

    All that said, although I have no intention to read more Company books (too many books in the world to read them all), I would not rule out one of the short-story collections. And I am a little sad not to learn the solution to a few of the mysteries posed in this novel. But so it goes, so it goes.

    two months

034) All Star Superman, Vol. 2 by Grant Morrison, and Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant, finished April 22
    This ended very nicely. I still don't see myself reading lots of Superman in the future, but All Star was very much worth my time.

    Also worth noting, the intros, instead of being blind effusion, as is normal in these collections, actually made thoughtful remarks that helped me read more intelligently and with a deeper sense of what Grant hath wrought. So don't skip them.

    two nights

Quitely's Superman 033) All Star Superman, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison, and Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant, finished April 20
    So I tend to find Superman rather boring. And I've seen All Star around, but the art looked . . . meh. But then I got a reprint of the first issue at Free Comic Book Day last year and I was plenty impressed.

    Then Ben lent me this and I like it much.

    For instance: no way you would think this Clark Kent might be Superman. Good.

    If you must read Superman, try this.

    one evening

032) Bound on Earth by Angela Hallstrom, finished April 19
    This is the book that took best novel at the AML awards and, by the time you read this, probably best novel at the Whitneys as well. In other words, this is the Mormon novel of the moment.

    Bound on Earth by Angela Hallstrom

    So how is it?

    It's good. It's very good.

    Due to a recently developed personality disorder I can't be ecstatic about it, but it is indeed very good.

    Skinny: A series of connected short stories about the Palmer family stretching over a hundred years (but mostly within the last thirty) told from several point of views, male and female, young and old.

    I've been hearing a lot about How Feminist! this book is, but I'm not sure what people mean by this. It can't be in the pejorative sense because I don't feel like the men are demonstrably more "mortal" than the women. So I guess I need someone to explain that to me.

    twenty-four days

031) Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul by Grant Morrison and colleagues, finished April 18


the first five, 1-5
the second five, 6-10
the third five, 11-15
the fourth five, 16-20
the fifth five, 21-25
the sixth five, 26-30