Happy Birthday!


One year ago today we bought our first car together and we bought it new. One year later it has 6493 miles on it. The first cd it ever played was the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Show Your Bones (a gift from Purple Petra. Today it has Lisa Loeb's Camp Lisa in the player (though we were listening to KQED).

Happy birthdays also to my brother-in-law, J.K. Rowling, Dean Cain, and Satan.




My first day in San Diego for Comic Con, I had several hours to kill before I could meet up with my group and get in to the Con. So I walked over the the library and read some comics. Such books in this and the next five are marked like this:



070) The Juggler of Our Lady by R.O. Blechman, finished July 22
    SDPL Maurice Sendak loves this book. I thought it was okay. Maybe you had to be there, in 1952. I'm not so sure it holds up. Nothing about it seems particularly fresh or original today. Juggling for Mary just a bit

069) Waterwise by Joel Orff, finished July 22
    SDPL Beautiful, short, black&white meeting of old friends, perhaps for the last time, during a moment liminial for both, in which they merely float. Peppered with flashbacks and dreamy metaphors, this is a quite lovely book. not long at all

068) The Saga of the Bloody Benders by Rick Geary, finished July 22
    SDPL As I suspected, The Bloody Benders is the best of Geary's Victorian Murder series that I have yet read. It ended up being an apropos choice as Geary's art graced the official Comic Con publications I would be carrying around the rest of this week. The Benders were a serial-killing family of which I knew nothing before reading an excerpt of the book in the most recent Best American Comics. I think my unfamiliarity with the tale added to my enjoyment, but Geary's straightforward reporting and distinctive art are always a pleasure in and of themselves. not much

067) 10 Books That Screwed Up the World (And 5 Others That Didn't Help) by Benjamin Wike, Ph.D., finished July 21
    Wiker starts, before getting into his ten, with four "Preliminary Screw-Ups. He doesn't like Machiavelli, Descartes, Hobbes and Mill. And while he has fairly reasonable reasons for not liking them, his rhetoric got harder and harder to stomach. He rails like an am radio host and even when his logic was unassailable and even though I almost always agreed with him, I was put of by his disdain. And, basically, for all their other intellectual and moral sins, the great sins of these four in Wiker's opinion (and all the authors in the book) is that they are atheists. Atheism is the true evil on display in this book. (I will say, having read this book, that I can now make the obvious rejoinder when people say they don't like religion because it has killed so many people, viz. atheists like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc, were the greatest butchers in human history. So giving up on god doesn't really seem to have solved any problems.) Anyway, I was just about to put this book down when he started mentioning Nietzsche and then he drew me back in. See, unlike the other authors in this book, Wiker respects Nietzsche. Why? Because Nietzsche doesn't shy away from any of the amoral implications of atheism. And so while Wiker is happy to agree with Nietsche when he calls himself the Anti-Christ, he respects his intellectual integrity. Some of the authors Wiker goes for are easy targets --- I mean, is there anyone left who really takes Freud or Kinsey or Sanger seriously? And others, like the essay on Darwin's Descent of Man, were actually quite enlightening. It's interesting how my high school textbooks made pains to say Darwin wasn't in favor of eugenics when his statements to the contrary are methinks-the-lady-doth-protest-too-much at best. And I had no idea Margarent Mead's work was so . . . shaky, shall we say.* Anyway, if you can put up with his overthetop rhetoric this is a nice place to start. Just don't expect evenhandedness. The author Has An Agenda and is not afraid to push it. (But I still don't think Utilitarianism as commonly understood is such a terrible thing.) couple weeks

066) We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson, finished July 11
    We Are the Ship Nelson's paintings are what he is (rightly) known for, but the text in this book is also excellent. He made the brilliant choice of writing in third-person plural, from the point-of-view of the players which works marvelously. The characters are heroic and the hyperbole can bump up against itself (Cool Papa Bell was so fast, no catcher could stop him from stealing; Biz Mackey had such a strong arm, no one could steal when he was catching), but that's okay: This is baseball. It is the American sport, people with heroes who are larger-than-life by definition. Why do think baseball 'roids make us so much madder than in any other sport? couple 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
the ninth five, 41-45
the tenth five, 46-50
the eleventh five, 51-55
the twelfth five, 56-60
the thirteenth five, 61-65


Comic Con, homeless style


I'll post a few more things about Comic Con here and at Fob Comics (and maybe even AMV if my idea holds up to scrutiny), but first, since it seems to be what everyone is asking me about, this: Being Homeless in San Diego.

Is quite nice, actually. It's, mm, maybe 75° even at four in the morning. And the only people walking by are perfectly pleasant.

Here's what happened: I shacked up in a crowded hotel room with a topnotch group of guys. The hotel room was twice what I expected, but split among nine people, really not that expensive. But still: No way I was paying for a hotel on my own. And everyone else left a day before me. So what to do?

Obviously: Sleep on the street.

Curiously, everyone else thought this was a crazy idea, from Lady Steed to those who were leaving me behind. But what was crazy about it? I'd been out and about as late as two in the morning. The part of San Diego we were staying in seemed safe as pie. Why not?

One thing I wondered about was why, in a city peopled with plenty of homeless, did I see so few in this part of town. And so I worried that I would see plenty of patrolling policemen. But I didn't. So I'm left wondering why the homeless vacate the part of town where I hung out all night. Especially when their constant presence just a few blocks away made those streets reek of piss in the early morning hours.

My plan for avoiding trouble was this:

    Sit somewhere out of sight, but not in a manner that makes it seem I am hiding.

That was it.

That and, as current events show is helpful, be white. A pleasant looking white boy such as myself, let's face it, is much more likely to get away with one night of homelessness on the steps of the court.

From Google Maps (corner of State and F, if you're interested):

San Diego
San Diego

I spent several hours here, mostly writing in my skethcbooks, but also reading a couple Theodore Sturgeon stories. While here, I saw, maybe, six people walk buy, all well-to-do folk on their way to or from restaurants. Also, I watched a security guy part his truck and head in to the government building across the street.

I was going to sleep here, completely out of sight and under a low palm, but it smelled like cat pee and, as I came to realize, was loaded with cockroaches

I spent the bulk of the night here, doing some more writing, mostly. Saw a handful of people walk past. Saw one of SD's bike taxi's showing some old people the sights.

This is where I slept from a little after two till a little after five, on this bit of elevated concrete.

All these spots (save the roachy one) were well lit, making it easy to keep myself busy with words. The few people who saw me, weren't bothered by me. And the building itself was lovely.

Overall, for a three-hours-sleep night, it was quite a pleasant night. It did get cold for maybe half an hour around 10, but otherwise, balmy and kind.

Love you, San Diego!


Unlucky 13th Five


note: two of today's authors are featured in my post today for motley vision


065) Hooper Haller by Dean Hughes, finished July 18
    I first read this as a child, borrowed from my grandmother's personal library. I remember nothing of what I thought of it then. My grandmother has since passed away and this passed into my own library. Not because of the Big O's baseball obsession (he wasn't walking then) but because I had taken a class from the author and he had served as an important mentor to me. Anyway, because of the baseball obsession, I chose this book to read to the boys. Eldon Haller is from small town Hooper, Utah (near Ogden) where he was a master of the mound for his high school baseball team. He's drafted by the Royals and heads to Kansas City. Hughes is a notable writer of baseball books and the game scenes crackle. Biggo loved those. But the parts about the girl or Eldon's existential crises or buying a car or flying on planes or sitting my a stream or somebody's little brother dying? Not nearly so good. Which is why it took us so long to finish. One-sitting picture books are still the lit of choice around here. Because it took us so long (and because I had to reread the games scenes and read the rest while trying to play catch at the same time), I really don't know how good this particular book is. But it certainly wasn't bad. I would read its sequel. But if you're considering reading a Dean Hughes YA book (and don't particularly care whether it's one of the DB-published ones), may I recommend Millie Wilenheimer and the Chestnut Corporation (funny and about money) and Family Pose (serious and about hotels)? months

064) Stay by Moriah Jovan (MS POLICY), finished July 15
    My faith that I put in Moriah after reading The Proviso was justified. This book is good. Parts of it are excellent. And it's still only a draft. It still has explicit sex (though not as much) but you should have no other qualms about checking this one out when it's released in a few months. Congratulations, Moriah, on a great book. Keep 'em coming. MS POLICY one month

063) The Question: The Five Books of Blood by Greg Rucka et al, finished July 14
    A fairly interesting idea based on a beloved character, but disappointing. Basically, there is a religion of crime whose sacred work stars Cain and Lilith and, yeah, doesn't pay off. Too bad. about half and hour plus a couple minutes the next morning

062) Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi, finished July 13

061) Gravity vs. the Girl by Riley Noehren, finished July 11
    Before I started this book, I thought I would compare it to this book, which, though I haven't read it, is a Minx (and I've reviewed several) and has, at least on the surface, a similar conceit. But Good as Lily's just gonna have to wait for me to read it because this book deserves much more than comparison to an unread comic. Gravity vs. the Girl by Riley NoehrenGravity vs. the Girl is that rarest of beasts: the Good Comic novel. I don't know why this beast is so rare. There is no reason on this earth that comic novels shouldn't be excellent. But they rarely are. Most comic novels I've read have inconsistent character development, bad plotting, di ex machina, and other grievous sins mostly born of laziness. The worst this book does is misspell Macauley Culkin. Anyway. Back to the conceit. (I'll let the backcopy do the heavylifting.) "Samantha Green has just spent an entire year in her pajamas, and she is beginning to regret it. What's more, she is haunted by four ghosts that are former versions of herself. First up is the overachieving and materialistic attorney, who is furious with Samantha for throwing away the career she worked so hard to build. Second is the lackadaisical college student who is high on life but low on responsibility. Next is the melodramatic teenager, who is consumed with her social standing, teal eyeliner and teased bangs. Finally, there is the scrappy six-year old, whose only objective is to overcome gravity so that she can fly." That's all you need to know about the story. Now I'm going to spout some stuff that will hopefully make you think I'm smart or at least Mormon and then I'll close by suggesting you read the book. In order for Samantha to move forward with her life, she first needs to move backwards, giving the text a chiastic structure that is understated and quite successful. Even after I began to see how things were unfolding, the final ghost's raison d'être was strong enough to justify its role as the entire book's foundation. I'm impressed by the book's cohesiveness. A game like the one Noehren is playing here is easy to screw up but there are no false steps here. And when the book offers lessons it does so in an honest way --- as opposed to most comic novel's that feel a need to preachify to excuse their funniness. BEING FUNNY IS NOT A CRIME. This book knows that and feels no shame in making you laugh. So refreshing. It closing up with an epilogue even Edgy could love that provides unusually perfect bookending. And although there is nothing explicitly Mormon about this book, it's clean enough to recommend to my mother. So no one here will feel the need to feel betrayed. Anyway. Buy your own copy. about three weeks


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
the ninth five, 41-45
the tenth five, 46-50
the eleventh five, 51-55
the twelfth five, 56-60


Two Delightful Things to Start Your Week With


For my brother, further evidence that he is dead wrong when he says celery has no flavor, this delightful part of my Wednesday lunch:

Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray

For Jack Black, who still refuses to play Paul Revere in my new all-star revolutionary comedy, this evidence that he is perfect for the role:

Paul Rever

and free bonus, don't miss my to build a fence, online for the first time since 2002!


The Wentworth Svithe


If John Wentworth had never asked Joseph Smith about Mormonism, would Joseph Smith ever have written the Articles of Faith?

And if he had never written the Articles of Faith, how would our self-perception differ today?

The AofF as originally written:

    We believe in God the eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

    We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

    We believe that the first principle and ordinances of the Gospel are: (1) Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; (4) Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    We believe that a man must be called of God by prophecy and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

    We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, viz.: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.

    We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.

    We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

    We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

    We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this [the American] continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul, We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

last week's svithe


Kiki Thorpe revisited


Do you remember Kiki Thorpe? Of course you remember Kiki Thorpe. But you are still skeptical of her skill? How could you not be.

But now I have a further witness of her skill.

She has been tapped by none less than Pixar to write their tie-ins.

(ps to pixar: i'ld like a job too)


Short fiction (and because I am feeling expansive, nonfiction) of the new Irreantum


So the new Irreantum arrived this week and, as I did last time, I'm going to review the fiction. This time I'm also going to review the nonfiction (as fiction) because, as William pointed out, it's not always easy to tell the difference.

Long in the Tooth by Joshua Foster
    I felt this story a great deal. I felt the creation of the characters was topnotch and the society described was tactile and real and the dogs too breathed. But then . . . I don't think Foster knew what his point was. Or if he did, he decided not to include it in his final draft. Which was upsetting. It's hard to read a great piece and then arrive at the end in a lurch asking myself was the purpose of it all was.

Faithful by Angela Hallstrom
    This is just one part of Bound on Earth that I've already reviewed. What I found curious this time was how, when part of a novel, I overlooked its sins of overexplanation (which, when part of a novel, they should have bothered me even more), but I could not this time. But it is still an excellent story. The crescent rolls, so perfect. A lovely tale.

I'll Be a Stranger to You by Cara Diaconoff
    This needed a rewrite. It's loaded with unclear antecedents and ambiguous tags and inconsistent time structurings. Its depiction of Moscow is vivid at times, but the human characters are not at all and some elements are hard to accept as nearing truth (depictions of missionaries, notably). It's nice to see a story that attempts to deal with homosexuality in a Mormon setting, but I've read much better. I've told Ugly Swan to enter the Irreantum fiction contests. Why won't he listen to me?

The Memo Box by Heidi Tighe
    Everything that's good about this story and everything that's not are summarized perfectly in its first line: "On the day that Sister Jenkins killed her husband, my mother got another package in the mail." It's a perfectly structured, textbook-clever opening line melding the literary everyday with the literarily violent. Then it gets into domestic dissatisfaction etcetcetrc with a child narrator way too wise for his age etcetcetc. In other words, it's a fantastic story --- that we've heard about a zillion times before. Which is a shame. Because there's nothing actually wrong with it. Yet I can't sing its praises.

The Mesa by Oliver Welch
    Although another typical piece of literary [non]fiction without any surprises, by really nailing the ending, "The Mesa" becomes something more than the previous tale. And I think it might be the first bit of good rez [non]fiction I've read from an outsider's point of view (meaning the character, not the writer although, as it ended up, these were the same).

Two Things by Russ Beck
    I loved this story. It was fresh and clever and fun and in another setting I could have loved it without reservation. But its last line emphasized the reason I can't give myself over to it completely, viz. it's one more story in this issue that's about people on their way out. And frankly, this heavy a percentage of such tales in one issue of Irreantum disengages me and makes a story as good as "Two Things" feel tired when it isn't.

Outside by Shawn P. Bailey
    This one's good too. Doesn't quite stick the ending, but the up-to is pretty good. It makes an interesting counterpoint to the previous story and ends the mag nicely. Narrated by a falling(fallen?)-away about this relationship with a dying. But all the same it manages to be interesting and fun and new (overall).

So, speaking of Overall, overall, the last issue was better. But this issue by no means dashed my hope and faith. I still feel Irreantum is a promising and marvelous source for Mormon literature. And I encourage y'all to submit.

Especially you poets. Four of the nine poems in this issue were reprints. If that means they're not getting enough good poems, then SHAME ON YOU POETS. Yeah. You heard me. Submit.

And subscribe. (That goes for all of you.)

(see also my comments on the essay by bwjorgensen in this same issue)

The Erotic in LDS Lit
Part X: Reengaging the Unengaging Jorgensen
(who won't engage me)


Before I get started, it's been a while since I've written one of these posts, so let me brielfy review my Erotic in LDS Lit posts so interested new readers can get the lay of the sexy sexy land:
In the new issue of Irreantum is an article by Mr Jorgensen, star of Part II as listed above, titled "Reading About Sex in Mormon Fiction --- If We Can Read". Yay, right?

No. Not yay. I'm sorry to say this new article of his is borderline pointless. As Tyler described it, it is "kind of condescending". Jorgensen's working assumption seems to be that no one in his audience has ever ever ever considered the possibility of "sex", "Mormon" and "fiction" appearing in the same sentence. So I suppose I should recognize that I and my fellow Thutopians must not be his target audience. But still. What a boring, pointless read this was.

Taking figures provided in the article and doing some basic arithmetic, I can figure that ol' Bruce is now about 65 so maybe he has old-man interwebz ignorance, but I wish he had recognized his grandfatherly role in this discussion and brought some innovation to bear instead of delighting in rehashed tired thoughts. (And on top of that he driveby insults Anita Stansfield and her readers. Come on.)

For Mr. J's information, since he and Levi appeared in Dialogue lo these many years ago --- or even better, since I responded to them last year --- there has been plenty written on the subject. Just at my ehome-away-from-ehome, Tyler and Laura have both initiated fruitful discussions; and, although I haven't followed them as closely, similar angles have been attacked on some of the even-bigger Mormon blogs. So just mentioning sex isn't enough to make you cutting edge anymore.

What I wish is that he would hop online and read up and then engage us in discussion. Because the discussion has matured. We're not in 101 anymore. We're ready to engage in graduate work.

So engage us.


A word from our sponsor


Without Lady Steed I would probably be moping about all day. Watching Up together today reminded us of that as we wept through the whole dang thing.

Then we ate ice cream at Fenton's and cured ourselves with a sugar-and-fat high.

This is our tenth Bastille Day married making next year our tenth anniversary with many more to come.

I'm looking forward to it.

By popular demand, my rock cartoon:



Mr Thteed in his natural habitat


Two students kept track of my humanity this year, then after graduation emailed me their typed-up notes. Sometimes I was CLEARLY misquoted, but as a whole, this is what it's like to me in my class. I've changed Proper Nouns but left everything else as they sent it.

LHHS 2009 Mr. Thteed’s first AP Lit Class



(the side ways smile face that failed at life)
Drops dry eraser on the floor

“What ever Visitor 1 wants Visitor 1 gets.”
“It’s curious they’re property looks exactly the same.” (When Mr. Thteed drew a picture of Darcy and Lady Catharine’s house.)
“There’s their little best friend necklace, it’ll never go together again.”
“Oh lady De Bourg she makes my heart beat faster.”
On Board “B + J 4ER”
“I believe in smiling”
“I don’t know how your suppose to tell them apart”
“It’s like the circus coming to town but you get to marry them.”-upbeat
*got Mr. Thteed to sing a song like twinkle twinkle

Wrote: personity said “personality”
“gu, glu gla”- couldn’t talk
“Darbies estate”-Darcy’s estate
“Driving me bananas! I feel so much better now, it’s like I can go on with my life.”

pen running out of ink so Mr. Thteed *stabs at paper*

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this but if you keep your napkin clean you have eternal life.” W/ Visitor 1’s cake for Danny’s birthday to fool Mrs. Otherteacher
“Just for reference if any of you fail the AP test we’re going to blame it on them.” – points at the door Visitor 1 and Visitor 2 just walked out.
“HE’S DARCY! You can’t say no to Darcy!”

On Board “Partay”

“We get out at 1:30 today right?” everyone says “2:30” because the clock says 2:05

“He just wants a friend. I have no one to talk to.”-voice
“O Good! Story time.”
“Hhh, Arg, Urr”

“Mr. Thteed here.” –in an unusually deep voice

“O master.”-Imitating Igor

Wrote: forgiveness said, “It’s forgiveness with an X through it.”

“O My God! This marker stinks more then any three markers put together. If I start to act crazy take the marker away from me.”

“He tells Mr. Darcy”- Whops wrong book.

“du du dadu” –he has his own theme song. HIS OWN THEME SONG!!!!!!
“This is not America where only 30% of the population votes! Everyone vote.”
“Fact I won’t be grading these this weekend because I’ll be going into the city to watch ‘Watchmen’ on the Imax.”
“No because you and your ‘evilness’ (hand motions like Mr. Burns) might give it away”
“That is a terrible, terrible thing.” (the picture of the two circles on being Victor the other the monster and they were drawn really badly)
“The great and noble Steve where you’d be a Stevey rather then an abbey. I’m totally making this up.”
“I’m not going to ruin it for you, but guess what he’s in jail.”
“I lived in Korea.” –That’s cool
“My editor told me to use this word but I think he’s full of crap.”

“ring, ring”-phone “Who in the world could that be? Hi? Hi.”- Mr. Thteed
“Quotation marks for poems, underlined long, it won’t effect your grade but in your freshmen year of college you turn it in and it gets thrown back in your face, you blame me and then I get something I don’t want in the mail. And would wish I would talk to you about this RIGHT NOW, so quotation marks for poems and Underlines for titles.”

“Wait we’re not at the end of the book?! Excuse me then I was thinking ‘What is WRONG with these kids!’ So excuse me today is WEDNESDAY! Oh god, and here I was thinking, we’d, hell we’re doing this tomorrow. *erase stuff on board* I thought I forgot about if for Wednesday but TODAY IS WEDNESDAY!”- Mr. Thteed Scribe1 talking to Scribe2, “Ari are you going to write that down?” “Yes, I should write that down.”- Mr. Thteed Wrote: Wed on the board. “Excuse me I think I’ve been in a time warp or something today. Wednesday ..”-Mr. Thteed


“Now in 2006…. Wait what year is it now? 2009!”
“Wow! 5 arrows, very fast.”

“(about screw which kept white board from sliding) Scribe1 touches the screw and it fell out. “Maybe you should just take the screw out.”-Scribe1 and hands it to Mr. Thteed “What! How’d you do that? I’ve been fiddling with it all week!”- Mr. Thteed “I just touched it.”-Scribe1
“Or you can keep it and make a paper mache donkey.” (with the prompt essay)
“blackness, mysterious blackness.”
“I can’t wait for this test to be over, I’m going to eat a cheeseburger.”
“Party!”-Scribe1 *few seconds of nothing* “Naw let’s not.”-Mr. Thteed

“Pay really close attention to what I’m about to say… Oh snarkle.”
“I don’t want to mislead you because that’s not the way I roll.”
“I’m pretty sure 5+5+5 doesn’t equal 17, you better all vote next time.” “16, getting closer.” “Oh you guys suck!” (only 16 people voted again)

(doing haikus) “No, wait a minute, I can’t be old already I’m just about to… be a go-go dancer. WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG???”

“I was absent all day but came back for fourth block.” (because we’re that cool!)

“What’s my first name? Mysterious that’s what the Mr. Stands for.”
“He talks so well I wonder if Mr. Walter Dean Myers slipped the kids something.”

“Just like in one vomit.” *hand motions*
Wrote: Hey! (I that looks like Z with a dot on top) could kill her! {basically I could kill her}
“It’s not hard to imagine he said.”-Mr. Thteed quoting Mr. Thteed
Wrote: Richard Cory
Rich Dick

“What word did you always want to ask but knew Student 2 would look at you funny?”
“I often obscure the meaning in an unfair, unkind way, but I never lie.”

“We talked about it yesterday. O’ you weren’t here yesterday screw you!” to Student 1

“Welcome, welcome, welcome, I’m Mr. Thteed. Welcome to AP Lit.”
“Have you guys seen my rock cartoon? Ok we’re going to watch it today because it’s awesome!”

“So during 3rd block we were hit with an unbearable smell of fish. It was horrible, deadly.”
“Stuffy noses wouldn’t have helped you during 3rd block.”
“What was I going to say….. curse you Scribe1!”
“Any Lemony Snicket fans here?” Scribe1 raised her hand. “What’s the name of the last book?” *silence* “The End was the name I was looking for.” (not sure if that’s the title Mr. Thteed said but that’s the name of the last book)
“GET OUT YOUR BOOK! YOU DON’T HAVE YOUR BOOK OUT!” (shouting match between Scribe1 and Mr. Thteed) high pitchedness

“That seems like an awful waist of time…. Ok let’s do another one of these!”
Wrote: Way authors’ style realsx “That’s how everyone will say reveals in the future!”

“Don’t just blink at me. Who has the poem? What! No one.”
“Homeless?”- Mr. Thteed “Ominous!”-student

“Oodles and gobs of time”
“It doesn’t really make any sense. You should see a doctor.”
On Board: What to do today: AP -----------PANIC
“We have another book we were going to watch, hehehe…”

“I completely and utterly trust you. Don’t Get Me in Trouble!” “I’m going to brake a window.”- Student 3

“Exactly! I can’t tell the difference between old English and Yoda.”

“You do not understand it’s importance to me.” (the granola box with the questions)
“Hey that’s not funny” (before- “maybe when reading ‘To be or not to be’ you question suicide”)
“Ode was not on out list. WO! That’s crazy!”

“You have to have smoked to get it.”
“We were suppose to give one to Student 4”-Scribe1 “Well, what we’ve just learned is that I’m an English teacher.”-Mr. Thteed (there was a left over book)

“Do we have to return these to you?”-Student 3 “Wo, No, keep it. Give it to your children!”- Mr. Thteed
Drew a smilie face on the board. “In what way does that look like a face? Really.”

“It’s like a time machine.” Mr. Thteed (about my picture of Student 4 from Japanese class that morning.


It’s not 100………..
Sorry no pictures or doodles added.

late svithe: The Two Lenses of Priesthood and Charity


At Church yesterday Sunday School was on Priesthood and and Rs/Ph was on Charity. Juxtaposing these two made me realize that here we have two all-important doctrines. Nothing matters without the proper priesthood and without charity, you are nothing.

In many ways, these two facts seem contradictory.

OperationAs my favorite sociologist said in elders quorum in response to Peter ("And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins."), the emphasis on charity shows that life is not a game of Operation with strict rules and if you touch the sides then BZZZZZT! you're out. That's not the way God rolls.

I agree with this. It's charity that matters. Charity burns away sins in the sense that when we have charity we are less likely to commit them, but in our continued imperfection, as Peter said, charity can also cover them up.

(Charity, it's worth mentioning, is the pure love of Christ). I suspect that as we develop it ourselves, we are able to tap more directly into the Atonement. But this is just a speculative aside.)

So back to priesthood, which seems more exclusive as we Mormon generally speak of it. But is that perspective correct? Yes. And no.

God loves all his children and wants them to have it all. And priesthood is God's power. And wouldn't he use his power to these ends?

And so while the god of Mormon belief is a bit strict on his ordinances, it's not BZZZT! you're out. This is why we're so big on proxy ordinances. It's about love and expansion of that love and giving the gifts of God to all. (Or, more accurately, offering the gifts of God to all. We're not big on making anyone do anything.)


Okay, I need to get on with my day. Please clarify my thoughts for me in the comments.


last week's more sensible svithe


A heartfelt apology to all my beloved Thutopians


It would be easy for me to blame my lax blogging of late upon my travels and travails, but I will not attempt to pass bux, as it were, and will instead note my sins and speak of how you can enjoy them.

1. Sunday I let some guy named McKay guest svithe instead of writing one myself.

2. Today, instead of posting here, I have a short essay called "Communion with the Small" appearing on Wilderness Interface Zone.

3. Tomorrow instead of posting here I am posting on Motley Vision: "Too sacred for public consumption -or- Disgusting the prophet’s wife". To (partly) make up for my neglect, you may read that post ahead of the typical AMV stopperby by coming here at 1am tomorrow morning for a link. This way you can read the post several hours ahead of its official posting time.

I hope you will someday find yourself able to forgive me.




Special Guest Svither David O. McKay on the confluence of testimony and duty


Since President McKay was on the butt-end of a little good-natured ribbing last week, we here at Thutopia thought it might be nice to let him share a story with us today.


One day in my youth I was hunting cattle. While climbing a steep hill, I stopped to let my horse rest, and there, once again, an intense desire came over me to receive a manifestation of the truth of the restored gospel. I dismounted, threw my reins over my horse’s head, and there under a serviceberry bush I prayed that God would declare to me the truth of his revelation to Joseph Smith. I am sure that I prayed fervently and sincerely and with as much faith as a young boy could muster.

At the conclusion of the prayer, I arose from my knees, threw the reins over my faithful pony’s head, and got into the saddle. As I started along the trail again, I remember saying to myself, ‘No spiritual manifestation has come to me. If I am true to myself, I must say I am just the same “old boy” that I was before I prayed.’

The Lord did not see fit to give me an answer on that occasion, but in 1899, after I had been appointed president of the Scottish Conference, the spiritual manifestation for which I had prayed as a boy in my teens came as a natural sequence to the performance of duty.

last week's svithe


The 12th Five Books, 2009 (kimball, wowza, beedle, ted, dud)


060) The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy, finished July 1
    I am very sad to learn that Elaine Dundy died last year. Because I liked her book and her afterward, not three years old, is very charming.
      The Dud Avocado
      Dear Mrs Tynan [her married name], I don't make the habit of writing to married women, especially if the husband is a dramatic critic, but I had to tell someone (and it might as well be you since you're the author) how much I enjoyed The Dud Avocado. It made me laugh, scream and guffaw (which incidentally is a great name for a law firm). If this was actually your life, I don't know how on earth you got through it. Sincerely, Groucho Marx.

      I liked your book. I liked the way your characters all speak differently. My characters all sound the same because I never listen. [Ernest Hemingway]

    (It was the first one that finally got me to pick up the book.)

    So this novel has been called the world's first chicklit, and there's a lot to that, I suppose. Sally Jay Gorce goes to France and madcappery results. It took me a good number of pages to get into it, but I finally did and I quite enjoyed it.

    It's a first novel, which brings up the ol' how-autobiographical-is-it question. She says, "When people ask me how autobiographical the book is I say, all the impulsive, outrageous things my heroine does, I did. All the sensible things she did, I made up."

    In the intro by Terry Teachout says it's full of sentences she wishes she had written. Her examples all come from the beginning of the book, but mine come mostlyn later and some could be construed as spoilers, so tread carefully.

      And I remember a little later wondering why things always turn out to be diametrically opposed to what you expect them to be. It's no good even trying to predict what this opposite will be because it fools you and turns out to be the opposite of that, if you see what I mean. If you think this is geometrically impossible all I can say is that you don't know life.

      - - - | - - -

      What a world, I thought. Nothing but sex as far as the eye can see.

      - - - | - - -

      Larry was right. What was the use of remembering? If it was unpleasant, it was unpleasant. It it was pleasant, it was over.

      - - - | - - -

      We looked at the menu. "Hah! Avocados," he said, brightening. "How I love them. Cheer up, my little avocado," he said to me, pinching my hand. "You know, these American girls are just like avocados. What do you think, am I right, Max? Who ever even heard of an avocado sixty years ago? Yes, that's what we're nowadays." His avocado arrived and he looked at it lovingly. "the Typical American Girl," he said, addressing it. "A hard center with the tender meat all wrapped up in a shiny casing." He began eating it. "How I love them," he murmured greedily. "So green--so eternally green." He winked at me.

      "Stefan, please. . . ."

      "No, it's true. And I will tell you something really extraordinary, mes enfants. Do you know that you can take the stones of these luscious fruits, put them in water--just plain water, mind you--anywhere, any place in the world, and in three months up comes a sturdy little plant full of green leaves? That is their sturdy little souls bursting into bloom," he finished off, well satisfied with his analogy.

      - - - | - - -

      It's not real, I'd say over and over again. It can't be real. Judy lying in the hospital, probably dying. Larry pimping and theiving and beating up girls. Me in jail. How did it happen? We're all nice people.

      - - - | - - -

      There was a letter from Uncle Roger. I held it in my hand awhile, breaking into one of the cold sweats that had formed such an integral part of my temperature in recent days [...]

      - - - | - - -

      "Sally Jay," he said earnestly, "promise me, promise me you'll never try to kill yourself."

      "Oh I promise, I promise," I assured him, stretching lazily, feeling utterly euphoric. "The world is wide, wide, wide, and I am young, young, young, and we're all going to live forever!"

    I don't know that I agree with Teachout that this will be one of the books that survives to become Literature, but it is a fine book and chicklit lovers could do much worse.

    at most a month

059) Letters from a Nut by Ted. L. Nancy, finished June 21
    I've been wanting one of these for a decade so thanks to my brother Schmett for the great Christmas present. Some of these letters are impossibly funny.

    If you're not familiar with the Letters from a Nut books, Ted L. Nancy sends strange strange letters to companies or famous individuals and engages them in bizarre correspondance. For instance, writing Greyhound about traveling by bus dressed as a gigantic stick of butter. That sort of thing.

    Anyway, you probably don't need to buy your own copy, but next time you're in the Devil's Den, pick one up and read until you're laughing so hard they kick you out.

    Return next day.


    just under six months

058) The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling, finished June 21
    I'm only sad there were merely five. They felt like true old tales and I consider that high praise indeed.

    perhaps two weeks

057) Lowboy by John Wray, finished June 16
    I took this book home from the library because of this line from Kirkus Reviews on the back: "The opening pages recall Salinger's Holden Caulfied, but the denouement and haunting aftertaste may make the stunned reader whisper 'Dostoevsky.' Yes, it really is that good."

    Now there's no love between me and Holden, but the journey from Salinger to Dostoevsky was too intriguing not to take up.

    Final analysis? Great book. I loved it. I'm still not sure about the ambiguous ending --- Dostoevsky or not --- but overall, I give it to you highly recommended.

    (Note to New York writers who want to show off how well they know their city. Read this book. See how the city is a character in the book? See how Wray isn't just showing off how Newyorky he is? See how the reader cares where Lowboy is, and not just that the writer knows where Lowboy is? You should all take a lesson.)

    Lowboy is a schizophrenic kid escaped from the hospital so he can save the world. He is in the world and the world is in him and both are getting hotter and if he can just let the world out ---

    The book makes me feel like I understand shizophrenia in the way The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time helped me understand autism and Bound on Earth being bipolar. And I must say: schizophrenia is the worst.

    (Movie aside: too bad del Toro's so busy --- he would be perfect.)

    Anyway, good book. Pick it up.

    about a month

056) One silent sleepless night by Spencer W. Kimball, finished June 14
    President Kimball recounts a insomniac night filled with pain and memories in a New York hotel. Large type and copiously illustrated (watercolors by Sherry Thompson) and lots of whitespace = very short book indeed, even at only 63 pages. Although by no means a great book, it is an interesting book in terms of structure and concept.

    Anyone familiar with the Kimball Story probably knows how he thought his usefulness was over when he had his vocal cords removed. Watching him autobiographicize the past during his recovery offers an interesting perspective, complicated by the fact that the book was actually written almost twenty years after his silent sleepless night an four years after becoming president of the Church. Makes me wonder what his motivation was. I'll have to ask him someday.

    about seven months


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
the ninth five, 41-45
the tenth five, 46-50
the eleventh five, 51-55