Rock and Roll Baby!!!!!


He's wild and crazy! He makes you get to your feet and dance! Check out his flying fingers!

You think this is hot?

Just wait till he sets the piano on fire during the encore!


Because I am unethical, excerpts from three recent submissions to M&M


A poem from JJames:


    We are going to show you the
    fastest way to make money at

    Can you picture yourself
    working from home and and
    filling out short and simple
    online forms for fast and
    easy cash?

    Getting paid for the easiest
    work imaginable? What's more,
    what if you could do this all
    while sitting at home in your

    Interested? Click here:

A poem from Mark (one name, like Madonna):

    Hei Friend
    WorkAtHomeInc on lähettänyt Sinulle linkin Evianetin nettisivuilta

    Klikkaa ja tutustu tarkemmin:


    We are going to show you the
    fastest way to make money at

    Can you picture yourself
    working from home and filling
    out short and simple online
    forms for fast and easy cash?

    Getting paid for the easiest
    work? What's more, what if you
    could do this all while
    sitting at home in your pajamas!

    Interested? Click here:

A poem from John Hainley:

    Hi Friend,
    What if I told you in the next 42 days
    you could bank $32,376 on the Forex
    market, give yourself the financial
    freedom you've always desired, even if
    you've never made a single trade on
    the Forex market before?

    What if you could then replicate this
    success, over and over again,
    completely on autopilot, and then
    help your family and friends do the same?


    And what if you were handed the same 'gift'
    that I was given that has since netted me
    a day job killing $177,432.55 since just
    April 17 this year?

    If this excites you, like it does me,
    then this will really take you over the
    giddy edge...

I really like the experimental flavor of these poems, although I'm disappointed they are all so similar. I'm not sure which to pick. Which's your favorite?


If, by their fruits ye shall know them, then this is Satan's Book of Mormon commentary

Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1- First and Second Nephi.

In this episode of Rejected Books, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon Volume 1 --- First and Second Nephi by Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet.

Now, as a bit of full disclosure, I've always felt a bit of a connection to Robert Millet as he was once my stake president. I can't remember if I ever actually spoke with him or not, but still. He's my guy.

Or was.

Until I read this book.

Lady Steed and I, since the beginning of our marriage, have read scriptures together nearly every night, usually the Book of Mormon. We've been through it so many times now and in so many ways (once we read it, for instance, in the order it was originally translated) (some chapters we read, switching turns when we hit commas) that we were getting desperate for ways to keep it fresh. So I decided we needed a thoughtful and thought-provoking and conversation-starting commentary. After asking around and looking around I discovered that the field of Book of Mormon commentaries was rather lacking in excellence. The best seemed to be the Millet/McConkie books so I bought volume one used on Amazon and we started in on it early 2009.

Fast forward to June. We are painting our bedroom and in the process of moving things out, our scriptures and the commentary get stuck in a box. We are so relieved to no longer be suffering through that awful awful soul-sucking book that we don't bother to find our scriptures for a couple months. We, who read nearly every night our entire marriage, stopped reading scriptures because of Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon.

To quote Moroni of Book of Mormon fame:

Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil [and] whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

This book is evil.

There. I said it. And I mean it.

This book is hollow and worthless. Perhaps, being generous, 10% of its words are helpful in a study of the book of Mormon. The rest is repetition, bloviation, self-promotion, obviosity, and filler.

The only reason we stuck with it as long as we did is 1) I had paid for it and 2) if we stayed on pace, we would finish it in one year and then I could slam it online, and we would never have to think about it again. (At that point, I did not have the Rejected Books series to slam books I would not finished.)

So what sin exactly does this book commit?

Well, there are many as I hinted above, but mostly it comes down to this: Having very little to say and hiding that lack in complex syntax, $64 words, repeating the obvious, and making extradoctrinal arguments treated as gospel truth. Yes, there were moments where they might quote a bit of Talmadge that was insightful or a line here that was interesting, but for each moment like that, there were twenty entries which just rewrote an elegant phrase of phrase of scripture, turning its ten words into 300 and cutting its message in half. Reading this commentary deflated the beauty and spiritual value into a couple of guys listening to each other talk.

The purpose of this book is not to draw you unto Christ, but to impress you with the brains of Millet and McConkie. And how do they intend to do that? By breaking every rule George Orwell gave us as regards good writing. To riff on his rules, changing them into rules M & McC's obviously hold dear:

1. Slip in as many tired metaphor as you possibly can.
2. Never use a short word if you can fit in six or seven long ones.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, hide that fact by building a new paragraph around it.
4. Never use the passive unless it'll make you sound like a pompous blowhard.
5. Assume that scientific words and jargon will make your audience think you are smarter than them.

Any book that claims to offer insight into doctrine but instead offers smoke, any book that claims to deepen your understanding of scripture but instead drives you away from scripture, any book that serves more to aggrandize its author's reputations than what it allegedly celebrates, any such book is a bad book.

Having finally written this rejection of Doctrinal Commentary, I can now get rid of it and my life will improve. I hope our scripture-study habit eventually recover fully from this attack upon them.

One last note before we go. I apologize for not transcribing some examples from the book for you that you might judge for yourself, but every time I opened the book with that intend I was flooded with anger and irritation and I felt sick to my stomach. So feel free to investigate my claims on your own, but be cautious about actually inviting this thing into your home.

The end.


3rd 5 Books : 2010

Static Shock Vol. 1: Rebirth of the CoolThe Days are Just Packed (Calvin and Hobbes Series)Icon: A Hero's Welcome (New Edition)
The Best American Comics 2009Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction


Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction edited by Angela Hallstrom, finished March 24

full disclosure: i received this title as an advance reading copy from the publisher

You can read my minireviews of the individual stories here, but now it's time for a brief review of the work as a whole.

It's good. It's not perfect by *my* standards, but I was never so unreasonable as to imagine it might be. Anyone who buys a collection like this and expects to be gaga over ever single page is nuts. Some you will like, others you might not.

A bigger question is quality. And the quality is generally very high. There are, I'll admit, a couple stories by authors that I think have hornswaggled the reading public, but hey. I'm famously cranky. I get to say things like that.

This collection both turned me off writers I had been dying to read and turned me on to writers I had never heard of before. In my opinion, that makes this collection a rousing success.

I have interviewed the editor for Motley Vision and written a longer review for there as well.

The Best American Comics 2009 edited by Charles Burns, finished March 22
This year's volume was good. Some good stories, some meh stories. Nothing I anticipate still talking about this time next year, but nothing I was angry had been included. My general complaint about the inbreedy selection process continues. Though one of the few Crumb stories I've ever liked, I still can't quite believe it was one of The Best Comics of its year. I would like them to choose as editor someone far from the groove previous editors have come from. Whether that's from the Neil Gaiman end of things or the Randall Munroe end of things I don't really care. Just someone unexpected, given previous years' choices.
almost three months

Icon: A Hero's Welcome by Dwayne McDuffie and MD Bright, finished March 17

I was aware of Milestone back in the heady 90s (I even have some Milestone trading cards) but I never took them seriously until Mr Fob's review last year. So I borrowed it from him. (He also lent me a Static volume which I liked better. See review below.)

From his review:
    In the early nineties while other writers were following in Frank Miller's footsteps, making superhero comics more "mature" by adding more violence and crudity, Dwayne McDuffie was creating a superhero comic that actually approached adult themes with maturity beyond that of a hormone-charged adolescent--and managed to do so in the context of a genuinely fun story.

All this is true. And as the hours pass from finishing the story, I am more and more prone to give the story props for what it does well. It's good to see a superhero story deal with issues like institutional racism and teenagers contemplating abortion, but as I was reading it, I was equally underwhelmed with moments of clunky dialogue and art. Some of this was unavoidable --- it's not easy to create ex nihilo an entire complex world the likes of a DC or a Marvel without expository dialogue and other suchlike crimes.

So let's laud Milestone generally and Icon specifically for its successes. And mourn its loss primarily for imagining what might have been, had it survived into a new century.
a few days

There's Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson, finished March 15

The Big O was so enamored of my complete Calvin and Hobbes that I found an old paperback from the garage and gave it to him. We rushed through it and are reading it again. So I may not be listing it again, but I think it's safe to say, even if this six-year-old doesn't understand half of that that six-year-old says, we have witnessed the birth of a new fan.

about a week, probably less

Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. Finished right at midnight between March 13 and 14

I remember when Milestone started releasing comics like Static back in the early Nineties. I never bought one because something about Static's X cap just looked like a prepackaged cliche. In fact, it wasn't until Ben's recent review of another Milestone title that I first took any Milestone property seriously. He lent me that title and threw this one in too, which I ended up reading first.

Static (incidentally, I know most people associate the word with electricity but really --- doesn't that seem like a bizarre name for a superhero?) is in high school (in the great tradition from Spider-Man to the new Blue Beetle) and is in the same class of excellence as those two. He's so far from the Stereotypical Black Teenager to almost be the Stereotypical Black Teenager on Opposite Day, but the writers have wit and panache and pull it off.

There's some "social" undercurrent to some of the story lines, but ultimately it's just a teenager with powers fighting bad guys and hiding his secret from his parents and liking girls and so forth. Plus a huge amount of characters to be introduced because this is a new comics universe.

In fact, a lot of story happens between the two stories collected in this volume. I don't know the real-world history of Milestone or this character well enough to explain it, but it's startling. Fortunately, the change in artist served as a good signal that things had changed and instead of being off-putting as a change in artist mid-book generally is, this one was a good move. Didn't hurt that the second style seemed a better fit anyway.

One last comment: Something that randomizes Planck's Constant as an explanation for superpowers? Has to be the most ludicrous bunch of pseudoscience concocted yet by comics writers.

So good job, guys!
(under a week)

Previously in 2010 . . . . :

First Five



The Big O is on the Brewers this year for Little League. I'm awful glad we missed the opening-day parade --- obviously, violence was about to break out when this photo was taken:

This photo shows O on April 10, reading to run from first. Isn't it all about baseball? No more riots, please. Just baseball.

photos by molly brown


Svithe: Thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom


I'm taking this line out of context, so I'm not giving a reference, but it's scriptural and you can find it yourself if you want. Suffice it to say that although I am misinterpreting scripture, I'm pretty sure I'm actually wresting it to my salvation.

Thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom.

While I am trying to make more efforts to swing my pendulum from the God-expects-me-to-do-things-myself extreme to the God-expects-me-to-listen-up-and-do-what-he-says extreme (or, more accurately, to find some accurate middle ground), I will never stop believing that a successful pass at mortality requires figuring paths out and executing them on our own volition. Not separate from God, mind you, but through our agency. Our own ability to think and to choose.

Which, as a writer, explains why I like that line so much.

Thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom.

Because it's a slothful and not a wise servant who has to be compelled in all things.


Thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom.

last week's svithe


Monsters and Mormons


Wm Morris of Motley Vision and I are working together on a new anthology of pulp called Monsters and Mormons. Read more about it at Motley Vision or Peculiar Pages. Then get your skilz in order and write us something.


Moses und Aron (a svithe posted to late to attract much response)


Exodus 7:1 And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.


Moses und Aron

by Will Bishop
(in The Fob Bible)

And so it was that God gave us Aaron
for Moses was slow of speech
and didn’t look right in a business suit,
for we yanked on his bulrush-bred beard
and mocked him,

mocked him, the man who would that we might meet God,
lab-coated, sulfury-smelling and steaming-mad down from Mount Sinai.
The master of the shape-shifting serpent pen—
rejected, returned the manila envelope,
advised to apply at the library.

And so it was that God gave his genius to Aaron,
the great dilutor, p.r. man of the Pentateuch,
to trim that burning bush into topiary
and punch-up the prose with a little sports metaphor,
and a little golden calf.

And so it was that we came to prefer the spokesman
while the prophet was buried in an unmarked grave
and was not permitted into our Promised Land,
where we would burn the fat of rams
and would ask God for a king.


What's the deal here?

last week's svithe



At longoverduelast, the Irreantum 11.1-2 fiction review


I've had the latest issue for months. Weirdly, the first thing I did was read all the essays. I never do that. Yet when I came to a story, I would skip it. Why? I don't know. I was just in to the essays. I liked the reviews, I dug the critical essays, the personal essays were okay (except for Patrick Madden's; I've had it with that guy; most smarmy essayist ever).

Perhaps the reason I took so long to start on the fiction was that the first story in the issue was Orson Scott Card's "The Elephants of Poznan" which I had just read in his new collection. In fact, I still haven't reread the entire thing, but that's not because it ain't good. It's probably my favorite scifi Adam and Eve to date. And I've read more than a few, let me tell you.

The reason, after finally starting the fiction, that it took me so long to finish was because I couldn't take a deep enough breath to start another Darin Cozzens story. I've now read three stories of his and they've all been good. Not great, but he's talented at putting words together and there is nothing "wrong" with his stories. In fact, I've been treating my aversion to him as something akin to a psychosis on my own part. My favorite work of his (the one that appears in Dispensation) involves someone who is breaking free of his current situation. My least favorite (from a previous issue of Irreantum) involves characters going nowhere. In the middle we have this story which, like the previous two, concerns rural Mormons.

I have a strong connection to rural Mormoniana myself. And I'm wondering if my issue with Cozzens is much like that a child of immigrants might experience, embarrassed of their parents fobby accents.

This story, "The Treading of Lesser Cattle," is about a woman --- 69 years old, if my math is right --- in the process of waking up one morning (a nice twist on the it-was-only-a-dream thing) and reviewing her life to date. The writing, in aping the dreamstate, sometimes gets clunky, but overall the whole thing is quite successful. And the fact that I spent most of the story mourning that she married the rancher is was got me on the self-analysis kick. But the ending was sweet and honest and true, no matter what my own biases might prefer.

The big story this issue must be Larry Menlove's "The Path of Antelope, Pelican, and Moon" which took the AML award this year. Sigh.

Don't get me wrong. It was a well written story and I loved that it pushed the realms of proper reality via visionary Navajos. Really, the story was fine. My main issue comes from the fact that I am currently readingThe Fast Red Road: A Plainsong by Stephen Graham Jones --- a novel that takes the visionary Injun thing so far that I can never dip into anything mildly magicalrealismy again without thinking about Jones's book and thinking huh, well, it's nothing like that plainsong. So perhaps I am unfairly biased on this one as well.

Let's move on to "Cheddar." The author, joshua foster [sic], has been on my mind since he and I were the only two fictionists to ever be featured in Dialogue Paperless. I've read a few of his stories since then but this one is my favorite. A drifter feels remorse after robbing a poor Rexburg couple. Having now read Dispensation I know that this story is even more solidly in the traditional Mormon literary tradition than I at first realized, but I don't like it any less for that.

The remaining bit of fiction, and by far my favorite, is the excerpt from Charmayne Gubler Warnock's Nightshade. Perhaps this is a new tradition in the making, but this mix of mental illness and devils is terrific --- perhaps not as good as Jack Harrell's "Calling and Election", but it is utterly unfair to compare them. They could hardly be more different, even if they do both touch on mental illness and devils. Also, this is just a clip from a longer work. Which longer work I am anxious to read. Everyone help me in pressuring Warnock to finish it up.

So how did this issue compare to the last couple? The average quality is high, but the total quantity is low. But the rest of the issue made up for the paucity of fiction. The photographs were great..... I'll tell you this: I'm keeping my subscription and I'm anxious for another issue to arrive in the mail. Giving them my money is the highest vote of confidence I can give.


Black-&-White literacy


Today my mother-in-law introduced the Big O and Large S to The Little Rascals and they laughed themselves silly.

I've tried showing black-and-white films to my highschool students and many of them cannot readthe screen, claim they get headaches trying, and basically whine that they can't tell what's going on.

Don't let this happen to your kids! Introduce them to B&W while they're still young!

a public service message from thutopia





I'm caught totally off guard by President Monson speaking before a second song. Slow down, there!

He's talking about new converts and helping in disasters et cetera. Humanitarian Aid as part of the welfare effort.

I'm forced to wonder if this is a response to Glenn Beck....

Also, more temples. Payson Utah doesn't have quite the same ring as Bolivia, does it?


Temple ordinances.

Francis's broken hip.

The story of the Monson who converted her parents.

Wow. He's really waxing nostalgic today. He's even breaking character.

Boyd K Packer
    Correlation as function of priesthood--? 180 years since priesthood restoration, and still a tiny fraction of the Earth's billions. "I include the sisters because everyone needs to know what's required of the brethren"? I think I smell this conf's controversial quote. Boy headed to Vietnam who went away sorrowing, yet did what the prophet said. Nice tale. Abbreviated ending. (I'm engaged in preventing my children from throwing playdoh around the house.) I the lord am bound when you do what I say . . . . The adversary more interested in attacking the home than church meetings.

I think I'm skipping Twitter this year. It's overpopulated by #ldsconf-hashing. Can't possibly keep up and still even half-listen.

Sister Beck
    I love Sister Beck. Mostly because she's good at starting discussions online. We need to avoid the desire for greater ease. Alas, I fear that is true. Listening and reacting to the Spirit the greatest thing to learn in this life. Important to be daily with scriptures and prayer. (I really need to do better at revisiting these talks after the weekend. It's hard to type and listen and parent small children all at the same time.) as the women of the church as seen as distinct in happy ways.....

Bishop McMullin
    Discord and Disaster Are Everywhere! I forgive you, brother! I cried, With all my heart! I had never known God's love as intently as I did then. How do we know our path of duty in time of Crisis? We pray. Pray always lest you play into temptation. (I think my quoting ability is pretty shabby today.) It's as important to be guided by the Spirit when praying as to be guided by the Spirit in receiving answers.

Wilford Anderson
    Parley Street in Nauvoo. Quotes from the happy hopeful homeless as they walked through horrors. (Been reading a lot about happiness research lately and it's true: the obvious things aren't the things that make us happy.) products of faith in the lord HOPE faith comes from obeying the commandments "Does anyone in this room have a problem with the plan of salvation? Well? Do ya punk?"

M Russell Ballard
    Lots of girls in the Ballard family. Girls, your mothers adore you. Even if they don't have a Facebook page. Listen to your mother, trust her, respect her, etc. Untie her.... Throughout the history of the world, women have been instructors of moral values. consistent message whether mother/daughter or father/son

Pr Eyring
    The Perilous Journey Home needing rescue as teenagers / need for a strong spiritual foundation doesn't take a formal calling in primary our youth can be brought to heaven . . . in a noncreepy way


Elder Perry
    preparation from overpreparation never wasted parenting among the most powerful things for the good of society home as insulation from the outside

    Oct 6, 1536 - Tyndale killed for translating Bible (Lost some stuff. Safari crashed (Apples......) and Large S threw a big tantrum. But I'm back now.) bringing the gospel to all people in their own language

Elder Aoyagi
    (Thank you, Twitter, for supplying that spelling.) (so much chaos at home right now I'm catching very little of this) His conversion from Buddhism. popcorn seeds in a bottle

    pilot crashes into the lake about 100 yards from where he crashed last year as they keep the commandments, blessings will follow interesting how many examples of lousy older brothers and excellent younger brothers are in the scriptures --- how do we interpret this in terms of directing us to THE Elder Brother?

    word choice in the Word of Wisdom Invite children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon. Clarity of BofM's teachings. plainness that they may learn discussions on BofM let parents listen to observe and teach children youth of all ages --- even infants --- respond to BofM; I have baby; will test Here are this three main points (thx again to twitter): 1. Reading and talking about BoM, 2. Bear testimony of gospel truths spontaneously, 3. Invite children to act and not be acted upon Parents need to be ready to catch spontaneous opps to teach Now we're getting to inviting kids to act. We are agents to act, and not merely be acted upon. Parents are not in the business of handing out fish. Which is why on take-your-kids-to-work day, I let them go and I just stay home. Good FHEs not caused by people who package crap for sell. spiritual discernment and inspiration from these three habits are something --- good I presume

Elder Holland!
    The Pornography Talk Sure hope I don't have a porn problem since I spent this whole talk stopping fights and changing diapers. "The only real control in life is self control." A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So. Watch your step. "You shouldn't be serving tea anyway." Best conference joke of recent memory. Why? Great setup. Remember the symbols you take with you. Let's work a little harder at always remembering him. Like, that he hath borne our griefs. charity comes from the grace of Christ himself "el diablo" --- to connect to "the diabolical one"? to take the edge off the naming for a primarily English audience, but still with a word they are apt to recognize?



Pr Uchtdorf
    Bombing a statue of Jesus. I think I can smell some Easter symbolism coming up. "You are my hands." Not what I expected. Very nice. Humanitarian aid Tasting the sweetness of the gospel led canned-food Saints to being saved also In our zeal we can confuse sin with sinner. (And preference with sin, I might add.) talk and poetry and song means nothing till accompanied by action Christ removed himself from the crowd.

Richard G Scott
    I remember the last time Easter and Conference coincided --- 2001 or '2 --- and there was very little directly on Christ Jesus proper. This time, we're off to one two. vital that we learn what we can about the atonement family again; teaching therein seems to be the theme this time around He Lives

Donald Hallstrom (possibly two Ls)
    Uh oh. Dead baby story. Uh oh. Revenge story. Destruction of the entire family's spirituality. Uh oh. More dead babies. And the mother. This time grief turns them to the Lord. Wow. Lots of dead babies in this talk. Without sorrow we cannot know joy. Implication: it's worth it. guy who fell away because his name was spelled wrong v. those in Liberty Jail the very jaws of hell . . . shall give thee experience and be for thy good Joseph's confidence in overcoming constant opposition based in his somethingsomethingsomething the Lord

    (sounds like Megan Mullaly) another talk about the responsibilities of parents to teachers teach the children we as parents the angels sent to teach the children (ahhh)

QL Cook
    holiness of sacrament meeting tsunami in Samoa

Thomas S. Monson
    of all the facts of mortality, none is so certain as its end If a man die, shall he live again? man with a brain and a mind and a soul --- should come to an end to understand the purpose of death, we must understand the purpose of life from our preexistant state onward the perfect example for us to follow telling the story of the final hours of Christ's life ------>story, even oft repeated story, is still great teaching So if a man die, shall he live again? He shall. We know by the light of revealed truth. darkness of death etc can always be dispelled by the light of revealed truth Jason opened his eyes and sat up and said NEVER in a loud resolute voice. called to serve their missions together on both sides of the veil in our hour of deepest sorrow we can receive profound peace he is not here for he has risen (I thought the both-sides-of-the-veil line was cheesy, but apparently it was a hit)

direct a smooth segue into the choir singing He Is Risen


Elder Nelson
    more family more Jesus (POWER OUTAGE) striving to make a family tree for all God's children

Elder Hales
    re:theyouth duty to rising gen influence of parents who understand the hearts of their children it's not the food but the interaction that feeds the soul (family dinner) youth cannot walk on borrowed light long

Bradley Foster
    mothers...... (if you only read one story from conference......)

    happiness dependent on how we react to adversity immunizations as metaphor for earthly tribulation

    redeeming Martha making priorities leaving the Holy Ghost on the shelf

    Haitians v Nephites

Anderson o' the 12
    the is the age in which the devil has a big budget so do our kids know Jesus's message as well? spirit of the lord accompanying late-night conversations (feel free to use this out of context) his name be praised for ever and ever

President Monson
    We're all here because we love the Lord, we want to serve him. we leave more determined than we came Study the messages in the month to come. Thanks, folks.

General Conference Svithetaculars at Thutopia
176.0 176.5 177.0 177.5 178.0 178.5 179.0 179.5 180.0


General Conference Svithetaculars at The Weekly Svithe
176.0 176.5 177.0 177.5 178.0 178.5 179.0 179.5 180.0

last week's svithe - thutopia
last week's svithe - weekly svithe


Suck on this, Sherlock!


Not so often I get to post an obnoxious email and respond to it on my blog, but even given that rarity, this one is special. Unlike spam from fictitious British lawyers or cease-and-desists from large multinational corporations interfering with a money-making operation that wasn't making any money anyway, this letter comes aimed directly at my current project, Monsters and Mormons which I'll be coediting with Motley Vision's Wm Morris.

The email was sent to the submissions address for Peculiar Pages (which, I might add, was not in the prerelease linked above, and so someone had to go looking for it) and looked like this:
    From: Dana Peter Klun Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 4:51 PM Subject: Pending Copyright Infringement, Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Attn: Peculiar Pages legal dept. From: Dana Peter Klun, Assistant to the Assistant Administrator The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate, US Offices 408 Debruce Road Livingston Manor New York 12758 All of us know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the most read author in the world. To this day, Schools and Universities ask for permission to use his work to teach students how to write better. In addition, officially licensed interpretations of his work and major characters continue in popularity around the world, including the current novel series by Laurie R. King and the recent film from Warner Bros. Pictures which has made over .5 billion dollars already this year so far. These and many other projects share one thing in common: Those in charge of those projects contacted The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate, US Offices before they commenced the project to arrange proper permissions and payments prior to beginning work on their projects. This shows respect for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his creations and also respect for their own derivative works. According to the submissions guidelines for "The Monsters & Mormons Anthology" as listed on your A Motley Vision websites by author William Morris, "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [used] Mormons as stock villains in the early days of genre fiction" and that this would be used as a starting point for works you intend to collect from participating writers. I need not remind you that in the US, the Sony Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1997 (105th Congress, 1st Session H.R. 604) has extended the renewal term of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works among others for an additional 20 years. This means that all works published after December 31, 1922 are protected for 95 years following the date of publication. For further information see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c105:HR.604. The characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Professor Challenger, Brigadier Gerard and the Hound of the Baskervilles among others (including villains) are trademarked by the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate. Use of any character or any book not in the public domain for any purpose whatsoever is prohibited without a license from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate. While we are understandably perturbed that you would begin a collection based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle without consultation with us and while we are within our rights to take further action, we are still willing to assume good faith on your part and to discuss with you various payment options for legitimately incorporating the artistic legacy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into your own artistic attempts. Although there has been some legal confusion in the past as to who has stewardship over Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary legacy, do not think that we lack the legal rights or moral fortitude to proceed against you should we feel it necessary. More information on our legitimate claims can be found at http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/TheEstate/index.htm. We thank you for your prompt consideration into this matter and will expect your reply by Friday April 9, 2010 (ten days from now) before our New York offices close at 5 p.m. I look forward to resolving this with you in a mutually beneficial manner. Sincerely, Dana Peter Klun, Assistant to the Assistant Administrator The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate, US Offices 408 Debruce Road Livingston Manor New York 12758

I'm not even sure where to start with this. Maybe with the fact that this will not be a derivative work of Holmesiana? Or that we haven't actually issued submission guidelines (coming soon though, Doyle Estate be d****d!)? Or the whole irritating irritatingness of the entire letter?

Or maybe I'll take this as an opportunity to talk about how much I think the Bono Act was a huge mistake.

I think I'll refrain though, and for two reasons. 1) I haven't consulted with Wm yet (ergo, this is only appearing on Thutopia and not on AMV or PP). 2) I like that mustachioed man's literary legacy. And besides, if anyone would get into haunting, it would be an old occultist like Conan Doyle.

And so I am withholding decision-making for now. Advise me. Stop me from being rash if rash I be.