Svithe: (psalm98)


O sing unto the Lord
a new song; for he hath
done marvellous things:
his right hand, and his
holy arm, hath gotten
him the victory.

    The Lord hath made known
    his salvation:
    his righteousness hath he
    openly shewed in the
    sight of the heathen.

      He hath remembered his mercy
      and his truth toward the
      house of Israel: all the ends
      of the earth have seen
      the salvation of our God.

        Make a joyful noise unto
        the Lord, all the earth:
        make a loud noise, and rejoice,
        and sing praise.

          Sing unto the Lord with the harp;
          with the harp, and the voice
          of a psalm.

            With trumpets and sound of cornet
            make a joyful noise before
            the Lord, the King.

              Let the sea roar, and the fulness
              thereof; the world, and they
              that dwell therein.

                Let the floods clap their hands:
                let the hills be joyful together

                  Before the Lord; for he cometh
                  to judge the earth: with
                  righteousness shall he judge
                  the world, and the people
                  with equity.
last week's svithe


100 Books for 2009:
(The 20th Five Books of 2009)


100) Nightwing: Year One by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, finished November 22
    You like Dick Grayson? Well, I liked this book. It was a nice look at how he went from Robin to Nightwing and if you, like me, have someone who will lend you such books, it's worth a quick read.

    two evening which may or may not have been sequential

099) Witch Baby by Francesa Lia Block, finished November 20
    I'm pissed off right now. I wrote probably a thousand words on this book and my relationship to it and the first book in its series but all that has now, three days later, disappeared from Blogger. I've never had this happen before and I am mad. I was quite pleased with what I had written.....


    Well, here are the basics.

    I picked this book up because I had been wanting to reread Weetzie Bat because reading that book was a revelation I thought I meet need to have again. But here's the thing: you can't "rehave" revelations. They come once and either you get it or you don't.

    Weetzie Bat revealed to me a portion of my Baizzerrist self that I had not seen in years. Not with real depth since high school. That book turned a key and let out that portion of my writerly soul that finds beauty in whimsy and humanity in lightness. It's a different perception of the same world. And that discovery of myself allowed me to finally understand a book I had been starting and aborting over and over for the last four years.

    Geez, I'm mad. I'm just not getting into this.

    Anyway, reading Witch Baby at first was unsettling, because I wasn't having the experience I had with Weetzie bat. But about three quarters through I realized: the reason Witch Baby didn't read like my book was because I wasn't aping Francesca Lia Block's style --- she had merely opened the door back to my own style.

    Blah blah blah. It was all very good, I assure you.

    Anyway, WB1 was about luck to joy to luck with occasional downturns for flavor, whereas WB2 is about sinking deeper and deeper only to discover at the end that redemption had always been there.

    Also, it was much more obviously "YA" --- can't say if that's because I knew it was this time or I was just less rapt or it was . . . whatever.

    There is nothing worse than rewriting after losing something written.

    four days

098) The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Rip Van Winkle The Spectre Bridegroom by Washington Irving and condensed and adapted by W.T. Robinson and K.R. Knight, finished November 8
    My parents gave this volume to the Big O for Halloween last year and we read it for Halloween this year. The adaptation is breezey and fine and the illustrations by Alastair Graham move the story along rather than get in the way. For a series of classics kept desperately cheap (printed on the back: "SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE $5.99 YOUR PRICE $2.50"), Dalmatian Press has done a fine job. Really, unless you're morally opposed to abridged classics, these hardbound cheapies seem pretty dandy.

    One warning: the back does include this copy:

    Reading a classic story when you are
    young opens your heart. Reading a classic
    story again---anew---when you are older fills
    your heart to the brim.

    Never forget that.

    a month

097) Green Monk by Brandon Dayton, finished November 7
    The date listed was for my first reading which led to this review on Fob Comics.

    I just reread it now, November 20, and I am vastly more impressed than I was the first time. This is an excellent story. I don't retract some of my quibbles, but this book is worthy and deserving of your close attention. Plus, it's cheap. Support an indie cartoonist. Click that link.

    just minutes

096) Push by Sapphire, finished November 5
    This book is short and the opposite of sweet.

    If you're not familiar with, it, Push is the story of Precious Jones (now a movie) and how she was raped (and raped and raped and raped) by her father and molested by her mother and then things got worse.

    Naturally, this is a story of redemption and of how this beleaguered girl comes back from below zero. No surprise there. And it earns that redemption.

    When I started this book I was impressed by the way Sapphire wielded style. The book's in illiterate first person. Here's the first paragraph:

      I was left back when I was twelve because I had a baby for my fahver. That was in 1983. I was out of school for a year. This gonna be my second baby. My daughter got Down Sinder. She's retarded. I had got left back in the second grade too, when I was seven, 'cause I couldn't read (and I still peed on myself). I should be in the eleventh grade, getting ready to go into the twelf' grade so I can graduate. But I'm not. I'm in the ninfe grade.

    This worked for a long time (relatively speaking --- it's a short book). The brutal ugly language reflects the brutal ugly story of Precious's childhood. But about a half or three-quarters of the way through, I realized that Sapphire had slipped into gimmickry.

    Now, I could make excuses for her. Precious's writing gets better as she learns how to write and we can't exactly expect someone who couldn't read at all until they were sixteen to have a great grasp of literary devices, but then this is fiction and too much verisimilitude makes me wonder if the author's out to lunch. How many times are you gonna have Precious write the same word three times for emphasis, huh Sapphire? (It probably doesn't help that I'm rereading Love That Dog Dog Dog right now now now which does the same thing over and over and over over over again.) And then when you sample another character's writing and she does the same thing? I start thinking you don't have that many tricks up your authorial sleeve.

    Anyway, the book is about truly horrible things, but it rings true for a lot of kids around here. It's been the book du jour for a few thousand jours now. One kid saw me with it today and told me his mother made him read it a couple years ago (he would've been twelve or thirteen) and several girls have been passing copies around.

    So I'm glad I read it for the social aspects, but this much hell in one tiny book is hard to take, even if the writing her beyond complaint.

    Thank you, ma'am, but I believe I've reached my incest quota for the year.



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
the fourteenth five, 66-70
the fifteenth five, 71-75
the sixteenth five, 76-80
the seventeenth five, 81-86
the eighteenth five, 86-90
the nineteenth five, 91-95


Svithing borrowed words (Pallas Athena)


My brother, Pallas Athena, wrote an interesting post this week. He doesn't post often, but when he does he's always provocative and worth reading.

This post wended its way from a fire-based metaphor he doesn't like to a completely unrelated fire-based metaphor he does like. It has a number of points I want to reply to and they're all religiousy and it'll end up being rather long for his comments section and I don't want to be accused of trying to take things over on his properties.

That said, I am going to quote large tracts of his post, so if your reply is more to him than me, you might go to the original to comment.

    A couple weeks ago, my family attended church with a co-worker of mine. I am familiar with the church, and admire the pastor. I have heard him preach on the radio and listened to some of his sermons online. I see him as a man of God and have a lot of respect for him. When we went, it was a refreshing experience. Everyone seemed excited to be there, I mean really excited. It was an hour and a half long service of which the first twenty minutes and last twenty minutes were spent standing and singing along with the rock band on stage. In between the music was an interesting sermon though it seemed somewhat shallow (unfortunately not from the normal Pastor - he had swine flu :( ). There were people sitting beside me, in back of me and in front of me with their Bibles out and note pads, taking notes. Not counting my wife, I can not remember the last time I saw anyone take notes in a Sacrament Meeting.

    My kids enjoyed the standing and singing to the electric guitar, drums and keyboard. I did too, I must confess. The feeling of inclusion was very apparent. The place was packed. The converted school bus was out front after it had made its rounds picking up people from all over town. No one I saw was dressed up, everyone looked and felt comfortable. After the service everyone was hanging around talking enjoying each others company. We had to rush out to make it to our own service.

    Upon arriving at our church there was a noticeable difference. Looking around, no one seemed excited to be there. Everyone was dressed up and there was a bit of stuffiness in the air. Sacrament Meeting was a bit of a different experience. The closing hymn was “The Spirit of God” – one of my favorites, but I wasn’t singing, it is hard for me to sing that slow.

    I spent a lot of time that day, and since, thinking of the two churches. Comparing them. I have attended many different churches but this presented an interesting contrast rushing out of one to make it to the other. I decide to try and come up with three words to explain each of the two churches and here is what I came up with.

    Other Church: Excitement, Enthusiasm, Sugar Rush

    My Church: Dull, Duty, Depth

    First my explanation of why I chose those words for the other church. There was no one there that I could find that did not seem excited to be there. From the youngest kids to the ushers to the old ladies, there was an air of excitement that permeated the entire space. Not just excitement but also enthusiasm. The people attending seemed genuinely enthused about the Lord Jesus and what he had done for them. But it also seemed a bit like a sugar rush, an inrush of current if you will, but not a lot of substance to hold onto that rush.

    Now, the words for the mormon church. I can not remember the last time I have been to a church meeting that was not dull. Not to say the messages were not good, but they were dull. There is a sense of duty in the church, duty to show up, duty to sit quietly, duty to do what you’re told, and you just do it, all of it. But there is depth, the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored by Joseph Smith has no end. One can take it as far as they wish, which I might add, is a large part of the problem.

    The Church of Jesus Christ has all the restored keys and proper authority to accomplish the purpose of life on this earth. Because of this they do not need enthusiasm or excitement. The other churches do not have all the answers. They have Jesus and they have the Bible. Arguably, that is enough, but there will always be questions and gaps. They fill these with their excitement and enthusiasm. The mormon church does not need excitement or enthusiasm, they have “the truth”.

Lotta things to say here. The first is the issue of visiting other faiths (which the Sistas also recently posted on) which I for one am certainly in favor of even if I never actually do it. I think it's good to introduce our kids to other's worship. And for several reasons: they'll be more open to others, others will be more open to them, all the good things that may proceed from both those.

As a missionary, incidentally, nothing seemed to build good will like nonflamboyantly visiting other churches. Good stuff.

Another point: I enjoy Catholic radio. Even if I may not align perfectly with their doctrine, I find worth there.

But now to the real point: the dullness of Mormon meetings. Which leads us to our second quote.

    So to go back to the lame analogy and expand it to this example; the other church is like a dry tumbleweed. When lit it creates a large fierce flame which has no substance. The mormon church is like a nice hardwood log. Once it is lit, it is not going out, it will put out lots of heat, and will burn a long, long time, but will never give you the excited, enthusiastic flame of a dry tumbleweed.

This analogy has its charm. Probably offensive to tumbleweeds, but there you go. And it's apt in many ways.

But let's get to the main thrust of this analogy.

    I have had many discussions with my wife since this experience and I have not been able to figure out, how could excitement be brought back into the church? The church is not growing near as well as claimed. Even though we frequently sing "All is Well, All is Well", I think there is a strong argument to the contrary. I cringe everytime I read 2 Nephi 28, is that not what I hear from the pulpit of the church? The church does not need to compromise any of its core beliefs or underpinnings to do this, but it needs excited members, enthusiastic members. I can not get it out of my head...if the members of my church had the excitement and enthusiasm the members of the other church had, oh, imagine...

This is a really great thought experiment for us to engage in. Not just what would happen, but how can we get there?

This discussion of mine's been a little anemic because I'm holding the baby and I can't think and type at the same time without two hands. So let's just look at my post here as an advertisement for my brothers. You should read his anyway because I skipped the paragraph about Emma. And she sound hot.

Go forth.

last week's svithe


The Great Remark


I find it impossible to predict which bonmots my students will be impressed by. I say snide offhanded things all the time, but once or twice a year I will say something that will get such a large reaction that the entire class will be thrown into an uproar as they all tell the kid I was talking to that I sure got him that time. But I can't see a difference between one remark and the other --- at least, why one remark should be so clearly superior in their minds.

Here's today's example.

Boy, 17, knocks the ice-tea bottle of girl, 15, off her purse and onto the floor. I tell him to pick it up.

Boy: She called me a bitch!

Me. And then you proved her right.

I mean really. That's all it takes?


Signs of Time


Frank Buckles is the last surviving American veteran of World War One.

Some time a few years ago I realized that I had not met nor scene a WWI vet in a long, long time. In fact, my only memory of WWI vets was as a child, Independence Day, packed into the Paris Tabernacle in the heat with a mass of respirating bodies and sun blasting in and no air conditioning or even fans and having to sing patriotic songs and, amazingly, not dying of heatstroke. Up on the stand, local veterans, including WWI vets in their light green uniforms, their heads dropping, their bodies falling, sitting and nodding in the immense heat. In retrospect, I'm surprised I never saw one of those ancient men expire during that shindig. It was a sweat and CO2 factory.

But it didn't hit me until adulthood that the ancient men of my childhood would not be the ancient men of my adulthood. Every single one of those old vets is dead now, and WWII vets are starting to look as old as they did. And then it'll be my parents. And then it'll be me. And then I'll be gone.

One aspect of mortality that I find fascinating is how I am constantly being surprised when reminded that I am mortal.

What evidences of the March of Time have caught you off guard?

(Besides that one last Easter Egg discovered in September, I mean.)


Saturday's Werewolf Redux


A more pop-friendly version of "Saturday's Werewolf" is appearing in the issue of Sunstone coming out at the end of this month; a miniversion of that version is up now on their blog, here.

That version has already been given a healthy bit of rediscussion by John Morehead of TheoFantastique, here. You should, you know, check it out.


Svithe: In dialogue with Richard G. Scott


Richard G. Scott is an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His words are taken from his recent talk To Acquire Spiritual Guidance.

Theric: So sometimes I'm not sure what my goal is with all this svithery stuff. It's a little presumptuous to put myself up as some sort of spiritual guide. But if I'm doing it only for myself, why do it at all? Besides, some of these things are born more of desperation than anything else.

Elder Scott:I share an experience that taught me a way to gain spiritual guidance.

Theric: Great.

Richard G ScottElder Scott: One Sunday I attended the priesthood meeting of a Spanish branch in Mexico City. I vividly recall how a humble Mexican priesthood leader struggled to communicate the truths of the gospel in his lesson material. I noted the intense desire he had to share those principles he strongly valued with his quorum members. He recognized that they were of great worth to the brethren present. In his manner, there was an evidence of a pure love of the Savior and love of those he taught.

Theric: I assume it turned out well?

Elder Scott: His sincerity, purity of intent, and love permitted a spiritual strength to envelop the room. I was deeply touched. Then I began to receive personal impressions as an extension of the principles taught by that humble instructor. They were personal and related to my assignments in the area. They came in answer to my prolonged, prayerful efforts to learn.

Theric: Right. Ultimately, we all find out own way to commune with God.

Elder Scott: As each impression came, I carefully wrote it down. In the process, I was given precious truths that I greatly needed in order to be a more effective servant of the Lord. The details of the communication are sacred and, like a patriarchal blessing, were for my individual benefit. I was given specific directions, instructions, and conditioned promises that have beneficially altered the course of my life.

Theric: I can believe it. Really, the schmuck talking matters a lot less. Listening to, say, me, should be no more than a catalyst. That's a chemistry term. I'm not sure if you know it, being a nuclear physicist? But anyway, what I was originally talking about is that I worry that my motivations might not be purely, ah, pure. But you probably have a story for that as well?

Elder Scott: Subsequently, I visited the Sunday School class in our ward, where a very well-educated teacher presented his lesson. That experience was in striking contrast to the one enjoyed in the priesthood meeting. It seemed to me that the instructor had purposely chosen obscure references and unusual examples to illustrate the principles of the lesson. I had the distinct impression that this instructor was using the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his vast store of knowledge. At any rate, he certainly did not seem as intent on communicating principles as had the humble priesthood leader.

Theric: Oo. Yeah.

Elder Scott: In that environment, strong impressions began to flow to me again.

Theric: Really!

Elder Scott: I wrote them down. The message included specific counsel on how to become more effective as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I received such an outpouring of impressions that were so personal that I felt it was not appropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location, where I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as faithfully as possible. After each powerful impression was recorded, I pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately expressed them in writing. As a result, I made a few minor changes to what had been written. Then I studied their meaning and application in my own life.

Theric: Wow.

Elder Scott: Subsequently I prayed, reviewing with the Lord what I thought I had been taught by the Spirit. When a feeling of peace came, I thanked Him for the guidance given. I was then impressed to ask, “Was there yet more to be given?” I received further impressions, and the process of writing down the impressions, pondering, and praying for confirmation was repeated. Again I was prompted to ask, “Is there more I should know?” And there was. When that last, most sacred experience was concluded, I had received some of the most precious, specific, personal direction one could hope to obtain in this life. Had I not responded to the first impressions and recorded them, I would not have received the last, most precious guidance.

Theric: I don't even know how to reply to that.

Elder Scott: What I have described is not an isolated experience. It embodies several true principles regarding communication from the Lord to His children here on earth. I believe that you can leave the most precious, personal direction of the Spirit unheard because you do not respond to, record, and apply the first promptings that come to you.

Theric: I---could certainly do better at that. May I pull out the I-have-small-children excuse here? Or is this just a matter of me not asking sincerely enough?

Elder Scott: Impressions of the Spirit can come in response to urgent prayer or unsolicited when needed. Sometimes the Lord reveals truth to you when you are not actively seeking it.... However, the Lord will not force you to learn. You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you. As you make this a practice in your life, you will be more perceptive to the feelings that come with spiritual guidance. Then, when that guidance comes, sometimes when you least expect it, you will recognize it more easily.

Theric: Well, thank you, Elder Scott for stopping by. You're welcome in Thutopia anytime. Just stop staring at me. Please. Any closing thought?

Elder Scott: I testify that you can personally learn to master the principles of being guided by the Spirit.

ThericL Elder Richard G. Scott, ladies and gentlemen!

last week's svithe


No better way to spend your Armistice Day


Oscar Madness

click to play


Brief sum-up:

You don't have to watch movies to play. I see way too few movies myself. Don't be intimidated. Do some web research.

Cool prize for the winner.

Don't read others' entries before you post your own.


And your odds are good, by the way, only a couple entries so far.

Only 20 days left to play!

My Elna Baker interview is finally up on AMV!


At long last. At long last.





What do you suppose my email was about?

Goodle Adwords

First EVER Scoop!
(an award for Chillygator)


The Scoop Award hereby awarded to Chillygator.

To qualify for this award, Chillygator:
Silvery Gallery

Your very own tasteless award to post prominently on your own blog!

And the best part? This award is unique to you. It's more exclusive than a Nobel!

So rock this scoop!


Do I want to accept this or not?


It's a much prettier award than most blog awards:

Premio Dardas Award

Here are the rules:
    1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link [Moriah Jovan].

    2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. [!]

    3) Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award. [Yeah, right.]
What we seem to have here is a serious case of award inflation. If I pass on this award according to these chain-letter rules, soon the world will be peopled with Premio Dardas Award winners.

Moriah showed some of this ambivalence as well, just passing the award on to the first eleven (11) blogs that came to mind.

Now, the criteria for worthiness:
    ....acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It’s a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.
Ah. The award is intended to promote community. Okay. Well that explains why we want everyone to have one. We can be a community of award-winners. Awesome. Because when everyone's an award winner....

Anyway. Why be a spoilsport?

To make the choosing process easier on me, I decided roughly half people I know, half people I don't know, all people who've posted within the last five days. Stopping when I get to nine. Because ten is a big commitment.

In alphabetical order:Those of you offended for being left out, please leave a comment. I'll make a special award just for you.


S is for Svithe


S is for Sunday, the day that I write
V is for Vacuous, a curse that I fight
I is for Intellect, a party to please
T is for Telling, of faith in degrees
H is for Humble, to welcome the Dove
E is for Everything, proof of God's love.

last week's svithe


11th day in a row posting


I'm not purposefully attempting NaBloPoMo, but geewhiz, it seems a shame to stop now.....




Happy birthday, Mr Fob.

Now you are 30.

(ps: i got the package yesterday --- thanks! and yes, wednesday comics are veddy cool!)


The Metaphors of Dr. Caligari (a halloweeny svithe)


This is part of my irregular series of posts wherein I take a post I want to write and jam it into a svithe-shaped box.


Part of our regular Halloween decor is placing on old tv in our big front window and playing a Halloweeny movie. The first year we did It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, then Nosferatu, the White Zombie and then, this year, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari:

At one point in the evening I was left home alone. As we don't get that many trickortreaters and as the weather was pleasant, I started the movie over then went outside and watched it though the window.

I bought Dr. Caligari some years ago for a buck somewhere, but never did get around to watching it (a common theme in my movie-related posts, I know). So this was my first time, interrupted now and then by trickortreaters and by my responsibility to the pizza I was cooking and then, just as the climax was hitting, by the return of my family.

One of the elements I was most looking forward to in the film was the German-Impressionist set design, the buildings offplumb and the walls lurching in ausettling ways. And all the triangular doors and trapezoidal staircases were cool, but they didn't affect me in the right way. Decades of Dr Seuss have trained me to view the skippywhompic as whimsical rather than threatening. And I think that's a shame. (Not whimsy, but exclusive whimsy is the shame.)

Dr Caligari

I think the arrival of sound may have limited film's potential in some key ways. The dreamscapes of films like Caligari or Nosferatu or Vampyre don't transfer well to a world where a line of dialogue may be expected to explain away the absurd shape of a jail cell or the stripes of black in the villain's white hair.

In a world of sound, things may not be merely unsettling.

In a world of sound, we expect an explanation. And that which is explained is weakened, because the rational mind is allowed to pretend the celluloid world too is safe and rational. Lame.

Anyway. Time to svithify. Here are some potential metaphors we can apply to the above. Please help me choose the most fit.

Yeah. And a righteous Halloween to you to....

last week's svithe