2006-12-31

This muntjac is in the public domain (a svithe)

muntjac
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Although media has never been produced at the rate it is being produced today, media has for thousands of years been created and loved and then fallen into the public domain. The US Constitution provides for copyright and although I'm not an expert, I think that US law was among the first to take copyright somewhat seriously (somewhat). Although it was okay to rip off Charles Dickens, of course. (As well as anyone else who wasn't an American.) (And rightly so.) (Huzzah!)

Really, violation of copyright law is a grand American tradition--who am I kidding? But this svithe is not going to justify Kazaa or its ilk; instead it is going to talk about Sonny Bono--whom, I am sure you will agree, is a much more fitting topic for a svithe.

Sonny, as a Disney minion, rewrote copyright in 1998, making the law so endless as to be draconian. What people seem to have forgotten is that "the Congress shall have power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries."

But what crazy Sonny Bono did was make "limited times" meaningless--if it won't expire in my grandchildren's lifetimes, in what way precisely is it "limited"?

Anyway, this is a svithe, not a rant, so let me now soothe your aching souls.

The modern trends of copyright law are not very Christian, if you don't mind possible hyperbole. It is fair and right and just that a creator should be able to make a living off his work. But it is also fair and right and just that all art should pass into the public domain in a timely manner that all may be edified.

I'm reminded ofthe story of Ananais, who selfishly held on to his own property to the detriment of his fellow Saints (and himself, as it ended up).

Whether you consider genius a gift of God or not, I don't see how you can deny that its fruits have great potential to benefit everyone, not just the creator--and that to permanently withhold art is either cruelty or hubris.

IN OTHER WORDS, modern copyright law is creating a culture of greed and laziness and high intellectual fences with razor wire on top. Instead of great work (or even mediocre work) belonging to the public, it is being kept in closets and rented out for money by generation after generation. And the next time Micky Mouse gets close to the public domain, we can probably expect to see copyright law add another dozen decades.

I'm sorry. I keep trying to turn this into a nice analogy that we can apply to our personal lives, but then I lose track and get angry again. The fact is that modern copyright law is a reflection of modern culture: greedy, selfish, clannish. And we need to be aware of the culture we live in if we want to overcome it, and become a people who love and support everyone, who think the poor fellow with the sign is as worthy of our sympathies as our own blood. If we want to be Christlike, in other words.

>>sigh<<

I guess I'll start by trying to love Sonny Bono.....





last week's svithe

2006-12-27

If I knew how to count

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then I wouldn't have to bring my wife along when doing the following things:

. . . . scrambling four eggs.

- -- - walking eight blocks.

. . . . determining how many socks to put on.

- -- - giving one pancake to each sleepover guest.

. . . . eating a Tootsie Pop.

2006-12-24

Twas the svithe before Christmas

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend what we Mormons call a "convert baptism"--meaning an adult has looked into this wacky Mormon stuff, worked through it, and decided to join up by being fully submerged in lukewarm water. It's a big deal to us.

I'm always envious of those who decide to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as adults. Anyone who thinks becoming a Mormon must be a simple thing, is wrong. In a secular world, any sort of faith requires serious effort, and Mormonism is more demanding than most. But that's precisely what I'm envious of--that work.

Everything in life has come to me easily---not just my religion. I live in a land of plenty, and my comparative poverty would be manic wealth in much of the world. I attended a university for little personal expenditure. I've never spent months with zero possibility of income. I've never missed a meal because the possibility of a meal did not exist. And so forth. If I am now thirty and not rich beyond imagining, it is entirely my own fault. Every opportunity has been given me.

So for Christmas this year, I don't need any more gifts. I just need to recognize the gifts I have---and to stop using them as a crutch, and to begin using them for the betterment of my family (and the human family) in every way I can.





last week's svithe

2006-12-20

As long as I'm bad-mouthing Overstock, how 'bout I accuse them of racism?

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Many of you commented on my last Overstock-themed post that the company likely outsources its customer service to some place like India. After going back and rereading my previous exchanges with them, I'm prone to accept that argument.

In fact, what's surprising is that I didn't arrive at that conclusion on my own, given the reps' rather awkwardly polite prose style.

And then I realized: excepting "Jack", all the customer service reps had names that would generally be classified as somewhere between "very black" and "sambo"--which is where the accusation comes in:

See, I had been imagining a call center in the ghetto, giving some American citizens a leg-up into the middle class.

Instead, those names were being used to disguise a foreign-based workforce and the exportation of money that could instead have been in the ghetto doing some good at home.

Sneaky.

I wonder if it's true.

You snooze, you lose

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So Blogger is now announcing on my dashboard that they are all out of Beta. Personally, I think it's part of a plot to create rarity so I won't miss my chance next time, but I've spent so much of my life (100%) being too poor to afford the early-adopter lifestyle, that I can't feel too bad about missing a chance to do it for free.

Besides, being an early adopter just gives you a closet full of Beta tapes and Atari Jaguars.

And I've got enough of those already.

2006-12-18

"Golly! I sure do love that Overstock.com!" said the overjoyed customer....

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So, for the fourth time in a month, I've been online chatting with Overstock's customer service reps. I thought you might like to see this most recent one. (Pay attention, internet shoppers!) I would give you all the background information, but it'll just make me mad again. Besides, it's all explained here.


    Chat Information Welcome to Overstock.com's Customer Service Live Chat! You will be joined with a chat representative as quickly as possible. (2 to 5 minutes)

    Chat Information Welcome to Overstock.com Customer Service, you are now chatting with Jack.

    Jack: Thanks for visiting Overstock.com, my name is Jack, how can I help you?

    Theric: I'm contacting you about Invoice Number 3******2 ([PARTICULAR ITEM]) (my name is Theric Thteed, [MY ADDRESS], El Cerrito, CA 945**), which I returned. On 11/15 when I chatted with Peyton, Overstock agreed to refund not only the cost of the item, but also the shipping, since I never ordered it in the first place--it was sent by mistake. The cost of the item HAS been refunded, but the shipping ($5.30) was NOT. So I just want it sent. Thanks.

    Jack: Hi there, how are you doing today?

    Theric: Fine.

    Theric: I'm contacting you about Invoice Number 3******2 ([PARTICULAR ITEM]) (my name is Theric Thteed, [MY ADDRESS], El Cerrito, CA 945**), which I returned. On 11/15 when I chatted with Peyton, Overstock agreed to refund not only the cost of the item, but also the shipping, since I never ordered it in the first place--it was sent by mistake. The cost of the item HAS been refunded, but the shipping ($5.30) was NOT. So I just want it sent. Thanks.

    Jack: I am sorry to hear that you are not refunded for the shipping.

    Jack: I'll be more than happy to check that for you.

    Theric: Thank you.

    Jack: For security purposes, can you please verify the name and billing address on the account?

    Theric: Again?

    Theric: Theric Thteed

    Theric: [MY ADDRESS]

    Theric: El Cerrito ca

    Theric: 945**

    Jack: Thank you for verifying your name and billing address, Theric.

    Jack: I am sorry to let you know after reviewing your account I see here that the refund process is completed and the maximum refund is issued back to you.

    Theric: So I have to go through this whole explanation again?

    Jack: I am sorry, I am unable to do anything with it.

    Theric: Can I talk with someone who can?

    Theric: The only other explanation is that you can send me stuff all the time without me ordering it, and charge me when I ship it back.

    Jack: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

    Theric: That's ridiculous, don't you think?

    Theric: I want help with this issue.

    Theric: I really am not comfortable knowing Overstock can send me stuff I don't want, and I'll lose $5.30 everytime they do it.

    Jack: I know it’s been an inconvenience and I’m sorry.

    Theric: Don't be sorry. Fix it. Or get me someone who can.

    Theric: Otherwise Overstock is stealing from me. What else can I call it?

    Jack: Theric, you are an important customer and we appreciate your business.

    Theric: Please let me speak with someone with more power. I know this isn't your fault.

    Theric: Don't stick with the script--it's not capable of dealing with my problem.

    Jack: What best I can do for you is as an one time exception I'll issue back the shipping charges to you as in-store credit.

    Jack: Does that sound good to you?

    Theric: That's almost okay, but the issue here is that I am in a position of weakness---Overstock can take still take my money with this solution.

    Theric: The issue is that Overstock took something without asking and refuses to give it back.

    Jack: I’m sorry you’ve had an unpleasant experience. I hope you’ll give us another chance to demonstrate our commitment to excellent customer service.

    Theric: $5.30 isn't a a large amount of money---but the principle is huge.

    Theric: THIS

    Theric: IS THEFT

    Theric: Jack, can I speak with someone who can solve this problem?

    Jack: I apologize for the problem.

    Theric: Can I speak with someone, yes or no?

    Jack: Shall I go ahead and issue back the amount to you?

    Theric: Please.

    Theric: How would you like it if a company charged you for something you did not order, then refused to pay you back?

    Jack: Please give me 2 minutes, while I issue the amount back to you as in-store credit. Is that ok with you?

    Theric: NO.

    Theric: NO

    Theric: NO

    Theric: "In-store credit" means you are not giving my money back unless I agree to give you more.

    Theric: Which is ridiculous.

    Jack: Not a problem I'll issue it back to your credit card.

    Jack: Will it be ok to you?

    Theric: Thank you.

    Jack: Theric, as a customer service representatives, we are always committed to do the best to address any concern you have.

    Theric: And I would highly recommend suggesting to the higher ups that they let you do this much, much earlier. It's very hard to remember what I like about Overstock when all I can focus on is their circumlocutory refund policies.

    Jack: We value your time and money.

    Jack: Every customer is precious to us.

    Jack: Please stay online while I do that for you.

    Theric: Okay. Well, if that's true then I am frankly astonished you didn't just save my time and give me my money in the first place. Not to mention saying "I am unable to do anything with it" when that was not true.

    Theric: But that's all in the past now, right?

    Theric: Thanks, I'll check my AmEx page.

    [many minutes pass]

    Theric: How's it going?

    Jack: I am glad to inform you that I've successfully issued back the amount $5.30 back to your Credit Card.

    Theric: Thank you.

    Jack: However, this will reflect in your next credit card statement.

    Theric: That's fine.

    Theric: Thanks for your help.

    Jack: Though I had delayed you in replying, It is indeed very nice chatting with you, Theric.

    Jack: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

    Jack: You're most welcome.

    Theric: No, thanks. Hope the rest of your customers are easier tonight.

    Jack: Thank you. It was pleasure helping you.

2006-12-17

This svithe is totally gay!

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It's so funny you would say that
because just the other night I
was looking in the New Testament
for that scripture--you know that
one scripture?--the one where Jesus
says love one another but I swear
if a gay guy tries to hit on me
I am going to take my shepherd's
crook and go Roman on his sorry ---
I forget exactly, but you know the
one I mean, right? Where is it,
cause I couldn't find it. But
I know it's there!


Today's self-righteous rant is actually only tangentially related to homosexuality. In fact, they're just this svithe's macguffin--which is actually on charity.

See, here's the deal: What is it with these alleged Christians who seem to take such great delight in denigrating and demeaning and even attacking them whom they deem sinners? Because I looked in my New Testament, and all I could find was Jesus telling me to love the sinners too.

Also: Jesus telling me not to judge. So I can't actually say who is and is not a sinner--that's for him to decide.

of course, it's very PC for me to not judge homosexuals, but less so to not judge (for example) Nazis.

But if you're now expecting me to make a continuum with gay people on one end and Nazis on the other with a line down the middle telling us whom it's okay to judge and whom it's not, then you're about to be disappointed. And besides, that would be missing the point. Which is that there is no room in the gospel of Jesus Christ for hating people. Not even Nazis.

Not even gay Nazis.




last week's svithe

2006-12-15

Old School

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I'm at a high school and using Netscape® Communicator 4.76 (2000).

It's wild!

Everything's, like, totally screwed up!

Now I finally understand what people mean when they say to party like it's 1999.

They mean party like a crap browser that makes it impossible to communicate properly with your electronic homeboys!

What a stupid suggestion that is.....

2006-12-14

I love pumpernickel!

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The amazing thing about pumpernickel--as a sandwich bread I mean--is haw it acts as a catalyst in the most amazing reactions! For instance, the old classic: put two parts ham to one part turkey on pumpernickel and the sandwich will begin to wobble and smoke, and before you know it, voila! You have a bobcat sandwich!

I love pumpernickel!

2006-12-11

Please tell me

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Those of you who have recently switched to Beta, how painful/less was it? How much bother? How did it alter posting, templating, etc? Did you find it worth it? I'm considering it, but fear regret.

2006-12-10

The Ultimate Svithe Smackdown

Santa -v- Jesus

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Santa -v- Jesus

What did Jesus
ever do for
Santa Claus
on his birthday?
~Steven Wright




Last night the Berkeley Ward had their Christmas Party and, as expected, one Jolly Old Elf made an appearance. And as I watched the kids go up to see him, and I thought about the Amazing Feats allegedly performed by said Elf each Christmas Eve, I had the idea for a short story wherein it is learned that in order for said Elf to accomplish said feats, a yearly sacrifice of one child is required.

Then I remembered I just wrote a short story wherein Santa is murdered by a ten-year-old child and thought I had better hold off an any more Bloody Christmas Stories for a while lest people get the Wrong Idea about Theric.

Then I was talking to my good friend the Chemist and he was telling me that he has been trying to instill his Rational Ideals in his daughter S-Boogie (no relation), but she insists on being faithful.

"You know, Santa's just pretend, honey."

"No!"

I was one of the faithful myself, and my final apostasy from the Cult of Santaism may be the reason I now cover him in blood while carrying signs outside Santa Square.

You see, I didn't fully give up on Santa till high school.

Here's the thing: I knew Santa wasn't real like, say, I was real. I knew I could make up his history and that my version was as good as anyone else's. Ergo, Santa was pretend. And this I knew.

But I was also a possessor of Perfect Knowledge. You see, I saw Santa. I was, oh, eight? And I SAW SANTA COME THROUGH MY FRONT DOOR AFTER EVERYONE ELSE WAS ASLEEP AND PUT PRESENTS UNDER THE TREE WHILE I HID BEHIND THE HALL DOORWAY.

I still don't know how to explain it. It's one of my clearest memories of childhood. I saw Santa, and he was not my dad and he was not some old guy from church or a volunteer fireman or any of the other Santas I regularly saw. He Was Santa.

And so, notwithstanding all the evidence to the contrary, I believed.

I think this is why I have no desire to teach my child about this devious elf. Santa is dead to me. It took a long time, and now that it's over, It Is Over.

Someone once said to me--this was a couple years ago--that one of their sibs was confused when they learned Santa is a Big Lie because his/her parents had spoken of Santa in the exact same way they spoke of Jesus. Was Jesus a big hoax too?

I was raised to treat Santa as a religious icon. But only with Santa was I warned not to tell others he was Fake and thus Ruin Their Christmas. Denying Jesus was never given the same weight as Denying Santa. I'm sure this was just because only the notion of Denying Jesus was untenable, but how was a child to know?

It seems to me that two benevolent, godlike presiders over a single holiday is one too many. I don't know what rôle Santa will play in our house as the Big O ages, but I don't want there to be any confusion over which god is the god of Christmas.

Santa's just pretend, honey.

He wasn't at the manger.

Santa's just pretend.

. . . . .

Excuse me now while I go cry in my eggnog.



That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound the day I gave up on the fat bastard.





last week's svithe

2006-12-08

The occasion of one’s 400th post should really be savored and turned into a beautiful work of art

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Pistachio, ha! I think you mean PISTUPIDO!

Encore

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Grapefruit? More like GRA'FRUIT.

Misnomered wood grain

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Zebra wood? Since when do trees run away from lions?



Butternut indeed! More like Seventiesnut!



Cashew? Baby, I've eaten cashews and this is no cashew!



Banana, ha! More like green onion!



Coconut????? Do you think I've never seen muscle under a microscope before?!?!



Nectarine, eh? Very pretty. Very pretty PLASTIC!



Rubber? Now you're just getting silly.



Zebrano. On beyond zebra.... Numbskulls....

2006-12-07

If no news is good news....

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Then have I got some good news for you!

Behold:

No news.

I have no new news.

None.

None whatsoever.

I really hate to disappoint, but what can I do?

I have no new news!

Forgive me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But--

On the bright side:

At least the news is good!

So you have that.

Don't lose it.

2006-12-05

A special post just for all my tragic goth girl fans

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misery creepeth

I'm always getting letters here at Theadquarters asking why I don't do more posts devoted directly toward all my tragic goth girl fans. The short answer is that most of that sort of work I tend to get paid for and if you want to give me two hundred and fifty bucks and meet me half way . . . .

But today I am going to help these my friends out with a special post just for them.

I just picked up Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber after a seven-year hiatus and started reading again from the beginning and I have to tell you--you girls will love every page of this, from the bloody reenactment of the Bluebeard legend to the ravenous wolves at the end. I guarantee it.

But no doubt you have plenty of depressing and eyelinered prose and poetry already lying before you and are uncertain you can interrupt your literary itinerary for this 27-year-old book.

Then let me introduce you to the tale "The Lady of the House of Love." The lady in question is both Sleeping Beauty and a vampire, trapped in a castle surrounded by thorns, wanting something she cannot name and thus, instead of love, she can partake only of death.

I won't go very deep into this, but suffice it to say you will read the story again and again and never will you be satiated.

Much like the Countess Nosferatu.

The book is a work of wonder--the prose is beautiful and sad and like falling through Dream.

And it is all for you,

my Tragic Goth Girls.

2006-12-03

I Svithe

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Take a moment to step away from the computer screen and walk to a window.

Look out your window and find the natural world.

Maybe it's obvious--a mountain in the distance or the tree in your front yard.

Maybe it's a single spot of green growing through the crack in your neighbor's wall.

Perhaps you will have to open the window and listen for the song of a bird.

See hear? Hear it? Feel it?

That is your svithe.



last week's svithe

2006-12-01

These past few days

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1


I was with some third graders studying city wildlife Tuesday through Thursday and yesterday we all wrote poems about city wildlife. To prove to you that my improvved verse is always bad, and not just when it appears on my blog, I reproduce my contribution to the class effort here:
    Deer & Duck

    The deer jumped over my fence
    to eat the apples on my tree.
    He stood tall
    and proud,
    majestic.

    The duck found the pond down the street
    and stayed for weeks,
    telling jokes
    and hanging out,
    giving me hellos.

    I liked the duck and the deer.
    Too bad the cougar ate them.

2


Today I was with second graders. During "Sharing" (ie, Show & Tell), one boy said to the girl sharing, "Can I come over to your house and play with your toys and smell them?


3


What the teacher said

When I arrived this morning, the kids' regular teacher was there getting some things ready for me. She warned me of her students thusly:

"Some of these parents don't know how to say no to their kids because they have too many of them [kids]."

I don't even know where to start with that statement.


4


Part of today's plan was to watch The Wizard of Oz (1939) and fill out a worksheet regarding it.

Now, I hate that movie. I have for years. But today I was thoroughly entertained all the same. And the kids loved it, laughing and squealing and screaming--even through the sepia scenes. I was amazed.


5


Five is the third smallest prime number, after 2 and 3, and before 7. Because it can be written as 2^(2^1)+1, five is classified as a Fermat prime. 5 is the third Sophie Germain prime, the first safe prime, and the third Mersenne prime exponent. Five is the first Wilson prime and the third factorial prime, also an alternating factorial. It is an Eisenstein prime with no imaginary part and real part of the form 3n − 1. It is also the only number that is part of more than one pair of twin primes.

The number 5 is the 5th Fibonacci number, being 2 plus 3. 5 is also a Pell number and a Markov number, appearing in solutions to the Markov Diophantine equation. Whereas 5 is unique in the Fibonacci sequence, in the Perrin sequence 5 is both the fifth and sixth Perrin numbers.

Five is the second Sierpinski number of the first kind, and can be written as S2=(2^2)+1

Five is a factor of 10, so vulgar fractions with 5 in the denominator do not yield infinite decimal expansions, unlike most other primes. When written in the decimal system, all multiples of 5 will end in either 5 or 0.

Go Five!

2006-11-30

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, COFFEE?!?!?!?!?!

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I've mentioned that I'm reading Miss Misery by Andy Greenwald. What I haven't mentioned is that although it is often very good, it has also been laugh-out-loud ridiculously wrong as well.

One of the characters is a disenchanted Mormon teenager from Salt Lake (specifically, a gated community in South Jordan). I don't blame any fictionist for wanting to write about Mormons--we're a fascinating race. What other religion is assigned an entire state by the popular imagination? Not to mention those white-shirted missionaries, BYU Cougars, glowing temples and other mysterious and attractive curios that set them apart from Americana Proper.

But as a Mormon myself, I just can't take it when a fictionist who has been enchanted then proceeds to reveal an utter and astonishing ignorance of Mormonism.

At first it was a simple word choice, but it has now gotten out of hand.

You Mormons out there--see what you think of this scene:

Disenchanted Mormon teenage girl's parents come home early from a meeting at the temple that was supposed to last until eleven or ten at night. Here's what they're wearing:
    High-top sneakers, legs like ornery treestumps, and then...Roger Bortch, recognizable from his billboard, standing impressively at the foot of the stairs, his waxy blond mane golden in the bright light. He was wearing a blue and black Sergio Tacchini tracksuit and had a wingspan like an eagle; his think, sunburned neck gave way to rolling shoulders and muscular arms.... Gleaming in his left ear was a tiny hoop earring that fell somewhere between midlife crisis and pirate. To his right stood Mrs. Bortch, a tiny skeleton of a woman with a judgmental nose and Ashleigh's apple cheeks. She had a loud clattery doorknob earrings of her own and wore a gray sweatshirt that said MOMS RULE! in plaid stitching.
I repeat: They were coming from the temple.

Before I go on, I want to point out that I have tried very hard to accept the Mormon characters to this point. It's not hard to imagine that Utah harbors irreligious emo kids or parents who freak out over a daughter's innocuous if angsty poem. There's been silly stuff and wrong phrasing and so on, but a lot of it is dismissable because of the point of view we are experiencing it through. I very much doubt that people in SLC seriously claim the streets width is to accommodate Brother Brigham and his wives marching by side-by-side, but whatever. Also: a lot of his information comes not from the raised-Mormon girl, but from a guidebook which could very well be full of half-researched crap (ala Miss Misery).

Anyway, get what happens next: Daughter Ashleigh (believably Utah name) introduces our p-o-v as a BYU student. This is accepted even though he hasn't shaved in over a week. His age is explained away by being a grad student, fine, but the beard? Supposedly Roger Bortch is alumnus himself, or, rather, "a fellow BYU man."

The Bortches then, get this, invite this nice young BYU grad student in for coffee.

Coffee!

Okay. Um. Huh.

Maybe....

No.

Okay, with a lot of effort I can explain away the earring/sweatshirt/temple thing and I could even imagine that these allegedly hyper-righteous people fuel their daughter's Dr. Pepper habit by keeping the pantry stocked, but coffee?!?!

Let's pretend yes.

But to invite a fine upstanding BYU student in for a mug?!?!

It's too much.

Then the Bortches are appalled to hear our hero pretend to be in a grad program in creative writing at BYU (horrors!) and that he "did a mission" in New York City (double horrors!!!!).

I'm too tired to argue the first one--maybe earringed Jordanian hyper-righteous Mormons would be appalled to learn the Lord's University teaches creative writing; but to be shocked that there are missionaries in the Big Apple is too, too much. I take it Andy Greenwald hasn't heard that there is one of those mystical Mormon temples right there in Manhattan.

Sigh.........

I don't mind people writing about Mormons, I really don't.

But for heaven's sake, if you're going to do it, at least try not to make yourself an idiot in the process.

Coffee?!?!?!

Do yourself a favor--before studying up on blood debt (snort) or Mark Twain's visit to Brigham Young, take a trip to mormon.org or look for a Mormon to read your MS on craigslist or something and figure out what a 21st century Mormon actually looks and talks like. It can't be that hard. For heaven's sake, there are 42,000 of them right in your hometown.

2006-11-29

The Big O's Couvade Syndrome

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I am a creature without empathy. Apparently. The Big O, however, obviously has it in droves. Mom thows up, he throws up. He hasn't packed any pounds on yet, but then, neither has she.

I've never heard of a child getting sympathetic pregnancy before.

Sheesh.

What's wrong with me?

2006-11-28

Tales of an Accidental Bookmark

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A couple Saturdays ago, I attended a library sale and made out like a bandit. I've been reading ever since.

As a substitute teacher who walks to work, I am able to get a lot of reading in. For one of the first books I picked up, I grabbed a buy-me card for a LIFE book (this one) from the recycling bin and it became my bookmark, and has remained such since.

I like, with my bookmarks, to write on them which books they have graced--it makes for an interesting travelogue o' literature.

This particular bookmark has been traveling quickly, but it's not much to look at and doesn't have much open space to write down titles. It can't last long.

But here's where it's been so far:


Zombie
by
Joyce Carol Oates
50¢


Heavens. I have read, oh, three of this woman's short stories before and I had been duly impressed, but not until I read this portrait of evil did I realize how potent she can be. This book is cruel. I read it with my jaw agape and my face contorted in horror. It may well be the worst thing I have ever read. Q— P— is certainly the worst character.

Go buy your own copy today.

But only if you're willing to get a handgun license.


The Te of Piglet
by
Benjamin Hoff
50¢


Some time ago, someone (Master Fob?) lent me The Tao of Pooh, which combined my beloved Taoism and my beloved Milne. So to read the followup for only a kennedy-head seemed a good deal. And it was.

It has been some years now since I read the first of Hoff's books so perhaps this undercurrent ran through the first book also, I don't know. But I was startled every time his happy Taoist philosophy was interrupted by harangues against International Corporations or Powergrubbing Politicos or Treechopping Whatsits. Of course, these are topics Lao Tze would not have ignored, but they always caught me off guard. And sometimes overwrought The good news is, Hoff sees a return to Paradise around the corner, so that's good. Woo hoo! Paradise!

But both books are wonderful and I love Taoism and if you're interested, read Hoff's books. (Cuz there won't be any more.)

Just don't blame me if you move to the mountains.

(My Chinese history professor had that happen to him. Nice but struggling Mormon boy sent to BYU by his parents to get his priorities in order. Signs up for a class in Chinese history. Takes his camping equipment and abandons civilization to become a Taoist. Parents presumably displeased.)


The Poems of Stephen Crane
20¢


This is an old book, and my library discard has a cover in better shape than the one Amazon found to represent it. It's a great edition--the illustrations by Nonny Hogrogian are terrific. But really, all you really need is the poems themselves, which are excellent.

All I knew of Crane's poetry before today was, of course, War Is Kind. I also knew this one, but did not know it was Crane's.

War Is Kind is typical Crane. The man is the Great American Ironist. I gave him that name after reading this one on the heels of War Is Kind. He totally deserves it.

Yet he can also be sweet and deeply religious (although, generally, I imagine calling God cold didn't go over too well with his dozens of Methodist Minister cousins).

He is unbelievably modern. His work I can imagine being written by any twenty-something friend of mine who suffers from love or war or pain or worry or ambition....

But if I were Crane, I would be dead.

Think about that next time life seems hard.

-----------

I intended to retire the bookmark at three. But before I got home, it found its way into Miss Misery ($1).

Long live the bookmark.

2006-11-27

I kid you not!

.

So I just noticed that the Merrian-Webster website has undergone a redesign. Bully for them. But I am relieved to see their accidental sense of humor remains intact.

Go the website and look up joke. Read it to acquaint yourself with what joke means. Then click on the synonym kidding.

Now you really know what joke means.

2006-11-26

He Was a Carpenter (in an age of no power tools)
-----a svithe-----

.

He was a carpenter
in an age of no power tools;
no Black & Decker for him

His friends were fishermen
without power trawls
or fluorescent PowerBait

They did a lot of walking
walking
walkwalkwalking

As he healed the sick
and raised the dead
and fed the thousands

And then, finally,
allowed his own murder,
and raised himself from the dead

Then generalized salvation
for you and you and you and you and me

Which thing is power.






last week's svithe

2006-11-21

Never too late to learn how to distance spit

.

It's still not too late to play the game. And Robert Altman's death today certainly doesn't hurt his chances at a Best Director nod.

.

So today I enrolled in a distance-learning course (npi) in watermelon spittery. I hope to enter the East Bay championships next August. I really know nothing about the sport, but my first bit of coursework is all about strengthening the diaphragm and the lip muscles. The exercises they have me doing! This must be the first time I've had to contort my lips into such absurd positions since I was single and trying to get Lady Steed's attention from across the parking lot without alerting her roommates to my intentions.

One thing a lot of people don't realize about watermelon spittery is the money involved. Jake Jacobi, who recently won the Atlanta Open, took home something like $19 thousand in prize money. And that's just in Atlanta--their event is still in its first decade!

The East Bay event is officially 65 years old, but tradition has it being attended by Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce, which would make it substantially older if true. In fact, as I understand it, there were no watermelons in California when Twain was here. But the point is, the East Bay event is a storied institution and quite a respectable pursuit. At the elementary school I'm subbing at this week, the kids are spitting pumpkin seeds to learn the skills. It's against the rules (it can be a huge mess), but it would be like telling kids in other parts of the countries not to, I don't know, tip cows during recess or something.

I've actually been interested in spittery for a while--Tehachapi has had an amateur competition for a while at its Mountain Festival--but I had never really considered doing it myself until I learned that it's tradition for the Berkeley Ward to front a team to compete in the qualifying round, and that one or two guys or gals usually make it into the competition.

So I figured why not? Do it with some friends; no need for embarrassment. Sounds good.

But then I started looking online and finding different methods for improving spitskills and now I'm really getting into it. I've considered buying the weighted steel seeds to practice with that you can get on Amazon, for instance. Maybe I still will. Christmas, anyone?

But the point is, it's never to late to learn a new skill, which is a good thing to learn as I embark on my fourth decade of life.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've a book to read. I'm on chapter six: "Exercise Your Way to Precise Seed Placement Part Two: Spit Like Your Lungs Are on Fire ('cuz its hot to be tops)."

2006-11-19

Nonononono, thank you (a svithe)

.

I am grateful....
    for library sales;

    that sneezing is usually actually quite fun--since I'm going to have to do it anyway;

    that the world is filled with beautiful details;

    for the ability to make crap up;

    for today's cool breeze;

    for my sweet green shirt;

    that I can wear a tie to work;

    I'm an optimistic person;

    for a woman who thinks I'm borderline alright;

    for books to read;

    for great art;

    to be able to walk;

    for the magic of physical contact;

    to be able to express myself, given enough retries;

    for a son who is happy to see me;

    for the (temporary) end of diaper-changing;

    for the notion of forever;

    for parents who try to adjust their expectations the reality of Me;

    that I own a pair of orange shoes;

    that I'm not a picky eater;

    to have dreams;

    for weather;

    that our ward is stuffed full of strings players who graced us with Pachelbel's Canon which, no matter what the antipopulists say, is still a beautiful piece of music;

    for the kind people who've done kind things that I can file away for the times when I need those kinds of memories;

    that Moroni didn't give up when he felt weak;

    for genes that may keep me alive in spite of myself;

    that I can still think I'm one good-looking man even when I desperately need a haircut;

    to be a human jukebox--even if some songs seem to get stuck on endless repeat;

    for the Internet, which helps me keep in touch with so many people I otherwise might lose track of;

    for patience--especially that of others;

    for cranberries;

    for garlic;

    for the cuisines of Mexico and Korea and Italy and India and a bunch of other countries--some of which I've still to be introduced to;

    for the smiles of young children;

    that I suck at video games;

    that most sneezes smell good;

    for a faith that builds bridges in my mind;

    for the USGS earthquake reports online;

    to be able to laugh;

    for a lovely place to live;

    for easy freeway access;

    for love;

    for you.



visit last week's svithe

2006-11-18

Library Sales Rock & Roll

.

I'm listening to Hail To The Thief , which I just picked up for 20¢ at a library sale. I also got an REM album for the same price and Peer Gynt for 50¢ and a box full of books--all for under $20.

Life is good.

2006-11-16

What's keeping you from fabulous prizes?

.

Why haven't you played the game yet? Do you have a moral opposition to winning? A mortal fear of losing? Or is it because there are 16 rules?

Look, let me sum them up: copy and paste the categories into the comments / write in one movie per category (don't use any movie more than once) / feel free to skip any you're not sure about. That's it. It's easy. Do research if you want (this is a good place to start), just don't peek at others' guesses before posting your own.

Come! Join the party!

2006-11-13

Preseason Oscar Game

.

The year is coming to an end and awards season is beginning. But before you go out to see For Your Consideration, please play Thmazing's Preseason Oscar Game. Here are the rules:

1. You are only predicting that a movie will be nominated--not that it will win.

2. You may only make one nomination per award.

3. You may nominate a movie in only one category. If you nominate a movie in more than one category, only the first will count. (In other words, you can't choose Smokey's Momma for best picture and best actress and best director and best art direction. And if you do, only the best picture guess will count.)

4. The winner will be the person who makes the most correct nomination guesses.

5. In the event of a tie, the tied player who posted first wins.

6. Categories marked with an * require a name / song title.

7. Categories marked with an * can receive half a point even if incorrect. For instance, if you thought Orson Welles would be nominated for best actor for his work in The Spitball Factory, but he was nominated instead for his role in Daisies Are Wholesome Flowers, you will receive half a point. Similarly, if instead or Orson, Paul Newman is nominated for best actor because of The Spitball Factory, half a point. But if Paul Newman is nominated for The Spitball Factory and Orsy is nommed for Daisies, you still only get one-half point. You were wrong after all.

8. All entries must be posted in the comments of this post by the last minute of November 2006. Part of the preseason fun is the impossibility of having seen every movie eligible.

9. You may research your answers anywhere you like except in the comments section of this post. Looking at others' guesses before posting your own makes you illegible to win. Honesty must be your ruler.

10. You do not have to make a guess in each category to qualify. But obviously, the more complete your survey, the better chance you have of winning.

11. Don't rearrange the nominations' order. That'll just annoy me.

12. So here's what you do: the categories appear below. Just copy them and paste them into the comments box, then fill them in.

13. REMEMBER: NO LOOKING AT OTHERS' SUBMISSIONS BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR OWN.

14. After the real nominations come out, I will do the math and announce the winner.

15. The winner will get a cool prize.

16. Do your darnedest to beat Edgy.



--------------------------------------
COPY AND PASTE CATEGORIES THEN FILL 'EM IN AND POST 'EM
--------------------------------------

    Best motion picture of the year
    --------[title]

    Best animated feature film of the year
    --------[title]

    Achievement in directing
    --------*[title]

    Performance by an actor in a leading role
    --------*[title]

    Performance by an actress in a leading role
    --------*[title]

    Performance by an actor in a supporting role
    --------*[title]

    Performance by an actress in a supporting role
    --------*[title]

    Adapted screenplay
    --------[title]

    Original screenplay
    --------[title]

    Best documentary feature
    --------[title]

    Best foreign language film of the year
    --------[title]

    Best animated short film
    --------[title]

    Best live action short film
    --------[title]

    Best documentary short subject
    --------[title]

    Achievement in film editing
    --------[title]

    Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
    --------[title]

    Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
    --------*[title]

    Achievement in art direction
    --------[title]

    Achievement in cinematography
    --------[title]

    Achievement in costume design
    --------[title]

    Achievement in makeup
    --------[title]

    Achievement in sound editing
    --------[title]

    Achievement in sound mixing
    --------[title]

    Achievement in visual effects
    --------[title]



Keep in mind that you can nominate each movie only once. So if you're convinced Starbuck Diner will be nominated in both editing and visual effects, but have no idea what else will be nominated for editing. Nominate it for editing and pick one of your other choices for visual effects. Et cetera. Follow the rules and have fun. Glory awaits. Take it.

2006-11-12

Caught in the svithe

.

I mean, of course, the Gospels are exciting. I mean--sitting before Christ and being taught by him--what could be more exciting?

Well, how about Acts?

Here are the Apostles, but now instead of listening, they are speaking. They are being what their Savior told them to be, doing what He told them to do. Following His commandment to go forth into all the world and bear testimony of Him. They are doing it. They are standing in His place and doing and acting and behaving and being as He would, were He there.

And they are like us.

I find that exciting.




last week's svithe

2006-11-11

Saturday is a special day

.

It's the day we panic and realize oh crap we are totally not ready for Sunday.

2006-11-09

A few short items of business

.


The House
    So I am glad that the Democrats took the House. I had hoped they would. I'm concerned that they did as well as they did, however. The last thing we need is another cocky majority.


Kevin McCarthy
    I'm glad that my hometown helped send Republican Kevin McCarthy to the House also. He's one of the few politicians I genuinely believe to be capable AND a good person AND properly ambitious AND full of good ideas. I also think he is the ideal sort of fellow freshman to work with the new Democratic majority. I hope most of the new Dems are the same sort of aisle-reachers. It seems that way, but time will tell. (cf:cocky)


The Senate
    I'm much less thrilled that the Democrats took the Senate. I like having the halves of Congress split up. We'll see how things go.


Robyn Hitchcock
    What made him think I would dig hearing about my large intestive?


Speaking of....
    I have to take a crap.

    You probably should have just skipped this item of business. My apologies for not warning you.


The Sundays & Sunfall Festival
    What did I do right that such music is in the world for no other reason than to make me happy?


Also Alison Krauss
    Man alive! but that woman has a beautiful voice!


I fear Thmazing no more
    After I publish this post, I'm going straight to the Thtore and yanking the I fear Thmazing design from production. You snooze, you lose.


They who did not snooze
    My friend Myke and his wife (who I am too lazy to name) purchased I fear Thmazings last week, becoming the world's first true thashionistas. When you consider how valuable the Thtore's flagship design will someday be, I think we can rest assured that Myke & Wife will someday own the rest of Idaho.


Dumptruck!
    The design of Dumptruck!, the Thtore's newest design, is modeled after the wonderful Objection! tshirt worn by Paul Adelstein in the tennis scene of Intolerable Cruelty. However, the Dumptruck! design improves on Paul's shirt. First by making it a ringer rather than a plain shirt, then by adding a back to it. (Pictures to follow.)

    Dumptruck! can mean many things to the wearer. It may simply refer to your great love for heavy machinery; it may be a celebration of the joys of childhood; it may be your passive aggressive way to tell your fellow pedestrians just what you think about them.

    The Dumptruck! design is the first at Thtore to be drawn directly from a blogpost. Namely this one:

      Dumptruck! Dumptruck! : A Tale of Language Acquisition

      .

      Next to trains, the Big O's favorite thing is dumptrucks. But the word dumptruck itself is a bit challenging for him to say.

      Truck, for instance, has many different pronunciations in the Onacular, but the one we'll be discussing today is the one in which the tr sound becomes more of an f sound.

      Which creates a new problem as the mpf phoneme set is nearly impossible for his little mouth to form. As a result, he leaves out the p.

      So when we're walking down the street and a dumptruck passes by, and O yells, "Dumptruck! Dumptruck!", people tend to shake their heads and know exactly what kind of parents we are.


Dumptruck!
Dumptruck!

2006-11-07

Here we go!

.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

+splat+





crap
that's not how that was supposed to work

2006-11-06

But 100% Awesome

Art!.

Others have posted their Republican/Democrat personality splits, and I have followed their lead, taken the tests, and, according to this (highly unscientific) methodology, I am 8% of one and 8% of the other.

Which sounds about right.

Edgy has suggested the remainder may be Libertarian, and I think he is mostly right--I'm am voting for the Libertarian candidate for governor, after all--but as much as I love the Libertarian Party and what they stand for, I also starkly disagree with some of their positions.

I also rah-rah the Greens, while violently disagreeing with some of their positions.

I consider myself sort of a Green/Libertarian mix, which is a pretty worthless political viewpoint in America these days.

I would love to see a third party ascend. We shall see.

Anyway, I think I've settled on what I am voting for this election, and here is the surprising breakdown by party:

American Independent - 1
Democratic - 0
Green - 1
Libertarian - 2
Peace & Freedom - 0
Republican - 7

I am frankly astonished by how many Republicans I voted for, and how few Democrats and third-party candidates. Secretary of State, for instance, was a tough call, D/R, but I went with the Republican.

I think the reason my votes lean so heavily red is because I live in such a blue state. I imagine if I was voting in Utah or Indiana, these numbers would skew in a very different direction.

Anyway, my choice of a vote is usually a pretty good indication of who will lose a race. So it looks like the Republicans are about to get walloped in California.

Viva la Moderation!

Class hijinks!

.

So I've taken a time machine and returned to elementary school. The classroom I was in the last five work days even smelled like my old school, and although I didn't make anyone cry, the week was not a total loss: several girls had a screamitout during PE and cried all on their own.

The facts are plain: crying follows me whenever I wade into the affairs of children.

But since Wise Bloggers say crying is good, I feel like this must be part of the altruistic service we teachers are so famous for.

At any rate, the crying notwithstanding, students tend to love me--especially when I am playing the role of substitute. Basically, I think, because I don't care so much if they say "shamalamadingdong" and laugh and laugh. After all, I'm not vested in their year's progress--I'm just interested in all twenty-five of us surviving the day.

The problem, of course, is that this attitude of mine can spiral into their psyches like a wanderlust demon and lead to all sorts of shenanigans. Which is my clever and long introduction to the two new shirts in the Thmazing Thtore collection.

Thasionistas take note! These shirts are fitted!

In fact, this design only comes in fitted. Unless I want to pay a regular fee to expand my store's offerings, I am somewhat limited in what I can offer at any given time. Now, as previously stated, all Thtore designs are limited edition (look for I fear Thmazing to disappear later this week), but now things will become even more limited than previously anticipated.

The reason is simple (I'm not making money) and the reason behind that reason is twofold:

1 - Of all the tshirt buyers in the world, few have the requisite taste to purchase theriphernalia and

2 - Of the four products currently available in the Thtore, I am making a profit on only one (1) of them.

Anyway, on to the introduction of this new design:

It is called Class Hijinks and is the ideal design for people who have taught, been taught, or ever seen a school. Buy one for the educator/educatee in your life!

By popular demand, my personal logo now appears on the back of all new Thtore designs.



Hot coeds!So edgy!

Note on the provenance of this image:

I have mentioned before that I have a unique drawing style, but it would be more accurate to say that I have styles, none of which quite meets the rigorous requirements of normality (or good taste). But I flatter myself that those styles have an inherent interest, and my first book, that legendary sasquatch of literature, was to have been author-illustrated before.... But that's another story.

This illustration is one of the extant illustrations from that book.


2006-11-05

I Svithe America

allelujah.

So this week we vote. By we I mean all of you Americans out there. Get with it.

This year I have not received a sample ballot so I don't know what I'll be voting for, but I rest assured in the knowledge that I pretty much never vote for the winner anyway.

Lately I've been going through old notebooks and uncovering forgotten plays and short stories that I will be typing up and rewriting in the coming months. I have also found occasional religious notes which I will be cannibalizing now and then for svithey purposes, starting today.

Today's svithe begins with an opinion that most American Christians seem to hold and that Mormons worldwide accept as something close to a fundamental truth: God's hand was behind the founding of America.

Latter-day Saints feel so strongly about this because we figure that anywhere else in the world and at any previous time, we would have been wiped out by religious maniacs--and this is probably true. Religion has kind of an unpleasant record for killing people of differing opinions. And we Saints can't help but be different.

But the Land of the Free wasn't all peace love & tolerance either--plenty of early Mormons were killed/exiled/raped/pillaged/etceteraed by unpleasant neighbors, and since there was not yet a Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court found that the Mormons didn't really have much complain about re: Freedom of Religion since it was a state oppressing their religion and not the feds. Which states had a right to do.

Missouri weren't no Rhode Island, people, and Lilburn Boggs weren't no Roger Williams, neither.

America might have been the freest, most tolerant nation on Earth, but it wasn't all that free and tolerant.

So here's a question for you: Why then was the Church restored in America in the 1830s? Why not wait another hundred-fifty years? And then go to Amsterdam?

Or, why not start the Church in Tonga, which has displayed such a knack for turning out copious Mormons? Maybe the Saints would never had to deal with any persecution at all!

Why in the United States? Why 1830?

Yes, America 1830 allowed for a legal restoration, but that did not stop the citizenry from trying to wipe them out.

So what I propose is this: The gospel was restored in America in 1830 because there and then and only there and then could be found the correct and proper--the perfect mix of freedom and intolerance.

Okay, but why not in Tonga? Why not restore the gospel somewhere with a (hypothetical) 100% conversion rate?

Because the trials the early church suffered made them strong.

Could an always-had-it-easy Church survive devilish wiles?

I suggest it could not.

So let's be grateful for the sufferings of those who went before and let's continue to struggle for the cause of freedom and let's svithe out the vote.

2006



last week's svithe

2006-11-04

Apology

.

For some time I have been meaning to draft a statement of purpose for Thmusings (or at the very least a styleguide so people can figure out what the heck my name is), but I have never quite gotten around to it. One reason for this is I'm still figuring out what the rules are myself.

I have newly discovered one by breaking it. For breaking this rule, I apologize.

Thmusings has many posts that are non sequiters or absurdities and such I have no problem with--anyone interested in getting to know the Baizzerist should expect such madness from time to time.

But you should always feel comfortable in knowing that all such non sequiters and absurdities do not place the author and the reader on unequal footing. I never know any more about them than you do. Granted, we see them from different angles, but our knowledge of them is equal. They are what they are and that is all.

My recent post on Santa broke this rule. I was never quite comfortable with the post, but I became enamored with the line "Well, I finally killed Santa today" and had to post it. It was not until Silly Marie commented that I began to realize how unfair this post was to my readership. It referenced something that no one but Theric knew about and thus was unfair to post without explanation. I give you that explanation now:

In the spirit of Halloween, I checked out a short story collection that I have been skipping through and which, as a whole, has been pretty good. The collection includes a story by James Dorr that disappointed me, however. It was not well writ and was too obvious. But the concept was brilliant--a little boy with a grudge against Santa leaves him poisoned treats which kill instead his mother's boyfriend. Good: Kid who wants to kill Santa. Bad: "A Christmas Story" by James Dorr.

So I decided to coöpt this concept and write a better story. My story stars the real Santa, does not have a grudge-holding tot, and, I hope, is much more violent and horrific.

Note: as Lady Steed said upon learning of this story, there is something wrong with me

I made short work of the ~1700 word rough draft and was pleased enough with it that I mentioned it on my blog, but decided to do so in a mysterious, joycean way that embarrasses me now. To make up for it, here are the first five rough-draft paragraphs of "Out for Santa":
    It’s a make-believe world but no one knows it. Santa is real and is constrained by maintaining his seeming fancy. Parents always assume the other [parent] or some other brought that little extra and Santa knows exactly how much he can bring without causing suspician / and get away with it. Which means rich kids get much and poor kids get little or nothing and there’s nothing he can do about it and he hates it but that’s the way it is. He can’t risk getting discovered by those with the power to legislate and enforce and he is, after all, make-believe. Children belive he is real make-believe, but not that he is real—and thus it must remain. He wound’t have it any other way. And thus he is limited.

    The great paradoxes of Santa’s existence produced by logical sixth graders do not trouble him at all. Of course, he does not literally visit every house in the world in one night, but the millions he does? No problem. In and out, in whatever way seems most convenient, a hundred million times, all in one night. He is Santa, Father Christmas, der Weinachtsmann, Juletomten, Pere Noel--of course he can do it. The doing of it causes him not the least anxiety. The only thing that troubles Santa is how transient all his gifts are / prove / prove to be. How few lives he changes. How worthless his efforts are. But of course he does not stop. He cannot stop. He is make-belibe. And so many believe.

    He is Santa.

    Now. About Jimmy. There will never be as many Jimmys as there are people named James, but there are many, many people named James, mostly English speakers, overwhelmingly white, nearly all male. It’s a popular name. And a reasonalble number of them spend their younger yeards as Jimmy. Jimmy is one of these. He is six years old (too young—10? 12 too old), English-speaking, white, male. A typical Jimmy. He has freckles.

    Jimmy attended (attends?---might be good in present tense) fourth grade at Norvest Elementary and was a reasonably good student except he loved saying butt when the teacher’s back was turned. His friends all agreed it was hilarious. Jimmy was an intense dodgeball player but otherwise he did not behave in a way that would raise suspician. In the shouebox in the hollow below the dead elm tree in his backyard were the heads (are) of six squirrels, two chipmunks, three robins, six sparrows, a starling, and the nieghbor’s toy poodle.

2006-11-03

Fobday

.

It is much too late for me to be the first to note Ben Christensen né Master Fob né Ben Christensen's birthday, but it's not too late for me to weigh in on the pressing issue of whether his birth was worth the bother.

After much thought and consideration and careful exploration of opposing viewpoints, I am going to have to say yes. It was worth it.

Ben has recorded our history on his blog and I'm not feeling the need to be redundant, so instead I will simply state how excellent a best friend he makes and how ashamed I am that I did not know his birthday was today. He is a superior sort of human being and I'm glad to know I will be in his orbit for many, many years to come.

Happy birthday, pal.

2006-11-02

Well, I finally killed Santa today.

.

I suppose it was bound to happen.

And I guess it's not surprising it was me.

I'm just ashamed that I used a ten-year-old child as my weapon.

2006-10-31

For you, while you last

.

Hungry for your
Adam's apple,
Pointy-fanged creatures
Prostrate themselves across
Your path
Hoping you won't
Allow for their
Larcenous needs and will
Linger on your way
Only to be
Waylaid and wasted then
Eaten and
Enjoyed and fondly remembered as a
Nice-tasting fellow

2006-10-30

Th. Whore of All Blogylon

.

Ladies and gentlemen---

Boys and girls---

Friends of all ages---

I am selling out.

In a misguided attempt to bring my blogging from the realm of the purely charitable to that of the crassly commercial, I am introducing various doomed-to-failure propositions, three of which I am announcing today, October 30, 2006.


Pretending to be your friend while hawking for the enemy


I have not decided which company to align myself with (my original choice seems to deem me unworthy and so I remain standing at the wall, scoping out the hot corporations, considering whom to ask next), but at some point, all this friendly bantering I do about books, movies and music will in fact be peppered with specially formatted links that could end up getting me a percentage of every dollar you spend.

I anticipate this will make me about exactly nothing per annum.


Turning over precious real estate to people who see you as a pocketbook waiting to be opened


Sometime soon--possibly today, certainly by the end of this week--ads will start appearing on Thmusings. I've considered doing this for over a year now, and I'm finally going to do it. I'm not sure why. Unless it's the fortune in zeros I anticipate raking in.


Thmazing's Thtore


This will probably make me the least money of all, but I have to admit I'm excited about it all the same. The store design is weak and inconsistent (I haven't asked for Lady Steed's help yet), but the product will be consistently awesome. I present to you Thmazing's Thtore.

You may have noticed its link in the sidebar. That's new.

Unlike most stores on CafePress, Thmazing's Thtore will not be just a bunch of whatever left there to sit forever on the off chance someone will someday buy it. No. In fact, Thmazing's Thtore differs in several significant ways:
    1. I don't expect anyone to ever buy anything from this store. Except me. Because let's face it, everything in the Thtore will be awesome--just like me.

    2. The designs are all limited edition. Currently, we only have our flagship tshirt available (just in time to be too late for Halloween) (but what the heck! buy it for next year!), but two more designs will soon be available. Everytime I introduce or retire a design, it will be announced here. I imagine the average design will last four to six weeks.

    3. One word: awesome.
Like I said, I doubt this will be a money-making venture, but just in case you need an awesome tshirt....

Because let's face it: Tshirts available for purchase in the Thtore will make you cool. They will do this through one of three methods:
    1. A good tshirt will not only be cool to look at, but it will also make people looking at it think you are cooler than them because you know about something cool that they don't. My Don Hertzfeldt shirts do this for me. The Thtore's flagship shirt will do it for you.

    2. A good tshirt makes you look sly and ironic. We haven't any of those up yet, alas, but for those of you who are sly and ironic, worry not--we will meet your needs.

    3. A good tshirt shows your allegiance to what is good and right in the world. Will a Thtore tshirt do that for you? Like duh it will!
Anyway, I'm totally corporate now. Support me in this decision by wearing Thmazing Brand Apparel. You know you want to.

For the lady thashionistasFor masculine thashionistas

2006-10-29

The Economics of Svithing

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Living in Berkeley has many advantages. One of which is gospel discussions which are frequently intellectual as well as spiritual. For instance, one of the sacrament talks our first Sunday here was both excellent gospel instruction and a fascinating introduction to Japanese literature. I love that.

That week or the next, our elders quorum president, an economist, gave this lesson I will be attempting to recreate here.

I originally intended to make this my first svithe back, but that was when I thought we would be online months ago. Now time has passed and I am the only college graduate in America who hasn't read Freakonomics and we're going on months-old notes by an English major. I hope this turns out well.

This formula was created by Devin Pope (watch out--that link's a pdf) from an idea of Matthew Rubin's (that one too).

Note: This was easier to write in jpegs, but Blogger refuses to blow them up within the blog page without distortion. Clicking on any section of the rest of this post will open it into a new window where you should be able to more easily read it.


B. U. Got it?
Whew!
Up your insurance payout now!
It's fun to pretend.
Look out for the arrows!
Here they come again!
Darn that perception!
Keep in mind we're talking about perceptions here.
Just don't ask me to explain the GDP....




Visit last week's svithe

2006-10-27

I didn't buy a book today.
I especially did not buy Lisey's Story.

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I once again successfully visited Costco today without purchasing a book. I manage to do this with surprising regularity.

Just how many books we Thteeds own is uncertain and will remain uncertain until the Thteed collection is fully catalogued, but my guess is 3,000 volumes. Which is a healthy number. A number which is frequently supplemented with stacks of books from library sales and other such nearly free bibliorgies. The one thing I do not do however--no matter how strong the desire--is buy new hardbacks.

I love hardbacks.

I love new books.

I love buying a literary work and knowing its creator is getting a percentage.

I do not often act on these loves.

Even at Costco, where the books are dirt cheap (for new hardbacks, anyway).

I did not buy The End.

I did not buy The Ruins.

I am a good person.

Yes, I did buy Fragile Things, but Lady Steed was there and she let me buy it.

(She did not tell me till afterwords that this was now my "Christmas present.")

Books.
Books.
Books.
Boooooooooooooks...............

I like books. I read a lot of books. I have more books than I will ever be able to read. Yet I need more books. I need more books. I need more books. I need more books.

And I need Lisey's Story in hardback. Have you seen that thing? It's beautiful....



free bonus

2006-10-26

Theric takes on Wicked

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Occasionally, here and there, passions boil over regarding Wicked--specifically the book. I've often wanted to comment, but wasn't 100% sure how my memories of the book measured up to my original feelings on reading it. My memories skew positive--and reading The Wizard of Oz around the same time made me realize how vastly superior a product Maguire's book is. He took a crap book and a crap movie and made something worth reading.

But it was by no means all love between me and the book, but my specific complaints were lost to memory. Until now.

I recently unpacked my Utah-era notebooks, and amongst them I have found this [please note that I am transcribing my handwriting without checking spelling of character names, etc]:

a few thoughts after finishing Gregory
Maguire's Wicked, May 12, 2004 ~6pm


First, yes, I feel for Elphaba. But I feel more for Dorothy. Elphaba was lost to her misery and had abandoned happiness. Dorothy still had hopes of atonement , and melting Elphaba must have been unbelievably devastating, something that will haunt her forever. For though equally an accident as Nessarose's demise, the action that led to Elphaba's death was an action, a purposeful action.

Second, I now see The Wizard of Oz as a piece of propaganda. Nothing more, nothing less. I arrived at this view by struggling with the obvious differences between the two books. I wanted Maguire to create history by filling in the holes in Baum's outline of a story--to treat TWofOz as history, gospel, and make his tale w/o altering the original a bit. He did not do this, and I struggled in deciding how to feel about it. Finally I came down on Maguire's side, which required declaring Baum a propagandist. Anything which does not fit in this view, eg, emerald glasses, is signs of latent sedition. Q: Why then the trip to Glinda? A: Get Dorothy home; elevate Glinda. Q. Why? Is Glinda high up or symbolic in the new gov't?

Third, speaking of Glinda, she is very hard to read. She doesn't seem at all revolutionary, but has retained the peasanty pronunciation of her name still, after all the intervening years. There is much to her, but it's all deep, deep inside.

Fourth. I hated one line, and still do. With a passion. It's excision would improve the book noticeable. It is the line that expresses an absurd, false belief that there was too much history between Elphaba & Glinda for a pair of shoes to come between them. That's ludicrous. And, as events show, patently false.

Fifth, did you notice the homoerotic underflow? Between the two silly Shiz boys? Between Glinda and Elphaba? Just wondering if you'd noticed, and what you had thought.

Sixth, there are a few things I want to go back to Baum and check. 1) Boq's appearance. 2) Did the WWoftheEast set the spell on the axe? And I'ld like to know how many details in Wicked come from other Oz books--geography, tiktok men, etc.

Seventh, I don't know that Elphaba's supposedly desperate need for forgiveness was developed at all well. It did not seem to bother her as much as the story required.

Eighth, what was with that beast under the dock? And Yackle? And the dwarf?

Ninth, do you feel Maguire normalized Oz too much? Or that he oversimplified the geography?

Tenth, the clock lies, we know this. So why do I hope, weirdly, that the wizard is her father?--the point of believing it? And does she at all feel that way herself?

Eleventh, and last, what just are the connections between our worlds?