What's that smell?


Lady Steed is growing tired of reading to the Big O out of his dictionaries.

"Can't we just read a story!" she cries.


The most important announcement to be made on American soil since May 16, 1860

Friends! Thromans! Fiddlesticks!



My name is Theric.

I have been alive for, oh, about thirty years now and in that time I have never once done the following things:

1. Trampled a kitten to death while wearing golf shoes.
2. Trampled a kitten to death while wearing moonboots.
3. Trampled a kitten to death.

I feel these facts give me some credibility.

About five years ago, I, by grace of my friend Myke, owned the domain name theric.com, a useful thing to be sure. But I was an ignorant fool and did not know that domain-name ownership expires and, one year later, was claimjumped by some dirty British company which has done nothing with a URL that was, to me, was so very very valuable.

So I have gone and gotten myself another domain name.

A better domain name.

A totally rockandroll domain name.

Yes, I, Theric, am now the proud owner of....

who IS that masked man?

All are welcome at Thmazing.com.

For I am Thamzing.

Thmazingly welcoming, that it.

So come on over.


Nobody’s making you read this svithe


I was struck by one of the Divine Miss A's recent posts and I want to riff a bit more on the comment I left her.

She said:
    . . . . it's hard to negotiate with "role." I am the teacher. A position of authority . . . . I constantly am asking myself, "Is this okay to say?" Take religion for instance. Before class students were having a discussion about a friend that was investigating this religion that most people refer to as Mormonism. I pretty much kept quiet, just because I know that religion in schools can be a sticky subject (particularly in this community) [note: Miss A, like me, is Mormon]. That is, I kept quiet until they called it a cult. And then I felt the need to at least tell them a couple of things. Not preaching. Just setting the record straight. I was scared to death, though, that I was going to get called on the carpet. I'm always trying to negotiate my role.
I said:
    In one of my credential classes I was told that admitting the existence of religion should pretty much get me fired.

    I decided that I'll have the same policy for religion that I have with sex: I give straight questions straight answers and I tell people to shut up when they need it.

Now to elaborate on this topic of religion and schools.

What I said in that class was that if a kid asked a question about religion versus science I would answer it with a discussion on epistemology and the different ways we have of obtaining and understanding knowledge. I believe that answer would allow me to be honest without promoting or denigrating either religion or science.

Ultimately, the point I was trying to make is that students deserve straight answers from their teachers and that we should respect them enough to give them to them.

Ultimately, the point made by my teacher is that I should pretend religion does not exist lest I get fired. Because not getting fired should be my highest aim in life.

I guess this is what Pope Pius X was worried about a hundred years ago--that the legal separation of church and state would result in a divorce between sense and sense in the name of sense. (The pope was reacting to changing French law--and within a year of his encyclical, it was a crime in France to wear a crucifix to school, so I guess he wasn't underconcerned.)

What I see now in America's schools is that divorce of sense from sense in the name of sense--a creation of a purposeful ignorance and it disturbs me. What good is an education if that education will be purposefully cut off from large sections of human knowledge? Why should the only religions legal to discuss be ones that died out >1500 years ago? The logic is bewildering. I understand and deeply agree with bans on proselytizing on school campuses, but to tell a teacher they cannot answer a simple question because to do so undermines Western Civilization? What is that all about?

It is impossible to understand the human family without at least addressing religion. Science and religion may in fact form a truly distinct dichotomy, but you cannot similarly divorce the understanding that comes from religion when you read Romeo and Juliet or The Scarlet Letter or My Last Duchess or The Inferno or even The Little Prince. You cannot divorce religion from history without rendering it nonsensical.

You cannot divorce religion from humanity. Even humans without religion define themselves by its absence.

What is this svithe about? Am I calling for instating religious indoctrination in America's high schools?

Are you kidding?

All I'm saying is that we can't terrify teachers if we want them to teach. We can't threaten them if we want our students to be with teachers from whom they can learn.

What I'm saying, if you read very closely, is that we should trust our children with knowledge. And we should trust the people we pay to deliver that knowledge.

What I'm saying, is that we should not be afraid.

Not parents, not teachers, not administrators, not legislators and least of all not students.

Nobody made you read this svithe.

Yet are you any less human for having read it?

last week's svithe

visit the redesigned weekly svithe




So the Big O and I got back from the grocery store and made some rich chocolatey Ovaltine and turned on the radio. I let him pick the station and he settled on Michael Jackson.

The end.



By virtue of being tagged, here we go:

1. I am not French. Nor do I speak French. Even though I took quite a bit in high school. When I started learning Korean, all my French surged back, only to finally die forever.

2. I am not a fish. Not literally or metaphorically. Or olfactorily.

3. I am not at a loss for words. I have the astonishing knack of being able to spew crap whenever I please. Of course, crap being what it is . . . .

4. I am not particularly prone to exercise. In fact, I can't be certain that losing two knees is worth saving one heart. Do the math, people!

5. I am not certain that Idaho is better off without me. I like to believe it is, but I am pretty awesome and Idaho could probably use me . . . . I try not to think about it.

6. I am not going to establish a human colony on the moon. Sorry Mr. Rutan. But I have other plans.

I'm going to choose my six people to tag via the next blog button, starting on Tusk's site:

1. Mike

2. Tom Goodman Hey! Tom! How funny! I was just at your Phlog yesterday--glad to see you're still posting somewhere! (and what a bizarre coincidence....)

3. Pako Los

4. Wdc

5. Serge

6. Her Vain-Ness




Wow. You look good. I'm not just saying that. You look really really nice today--of course you always do, but today . . . . I don't know. But it's different. You look really terrific. Whatever good is coming your way, you totally deserve it.


Go get 'em, tiger!

Yee ow.


Overheard in Oakland


The Big O: I want some more onion, please!

Theric: Eat some more ice cream first.


The state of the svithe (one year later)


This is the one-year anniversary of my inaugural svithe. Now, granted, there was a stretch of some months wherein we did not have internet access and so svithing was put on hiatus, but still, it has been a year.

So much to say....

First, I want to update my definition of a svithe to reflect current usage:
    Svithe: a spiritually themed blogpost on a blog generally less concerned with spiritual things. Also, must be called a svithe to really be a svithe.
I think that's accurate. But, since the word has left my care and has made its own way in the world, it needs more of a wikidefinition--so feel free to alter it to make it more accurate.

Second, self-evaluation:

My personal goal when I started svithing was simply to set aside one day of blogging in seven on the altar of Better Things. Although some of the svithes have been shameless copouts, I have not missed even one Sunday when we have had internet at home. In the future, I will try to adjust the proportion of copout svithes to decent svithes in decent's favor, but overall I feel pretty good about how things turned out. Accomplishing goals is not something I usually do.

Third, known svithers:

A number of people have taken the concept of svithing and brought it into their own homes. As part of my fifth svithe, I wrote that "The problem of course [with svithing] is that I am one person. What if more people would, now and then, write something the only purpose of which was to spread faith and beauty? Or to ask questions of eternal import? Or to spread heart-wrenching but patently false stories about baby angels? ... a witness or testimony ... [or] lists of unanswered questions that weigh on the mind, a tally of hopes and fears, a desperate cry for understanding from beyond, a simple statement of heartfelt fact."

To me, svithing was never meant to be jingoistic, but an opportunity for honesty--and honestly addressing or discussing God (or doubt) (or the Great Fish Named Boolah)--no matter one's feelings toward him (or her) (or it) (or them).

To my joy, a number of people have found svithing to be worthwhile--and some have even made it a regular practice. In many ways, I want to divorce myself from the origins of svithing lest people think svithing=Theric rather than svithing=Who I Am & What I Think.

Thankfully, that has not happened. The following is a list of people known to have written a svithe none of whom--or so it appears to me--have been pandering for Theric's favor (which, let's face it, is worthless anyway) but instead have been writing from somewhere personal and all their own. This is relieving and satisfying. And makes for much better reading.

Behold, the known svithers:Fourth, the future:

I will keep svithing every Sunday. I will continue devouring every other person's svithe I come across with the ravenous hunger of a bear who has slept through honey season. (Please keep me satiated. I am hungry.)

Fifth, today:

Today I am happy. Sure, I'm tired and no, nothing remarkable happened, but I feel the world is a good place all the same.

My opinion--often expressed--is that God hopes we will be happy. And for all my friends in the ether, that is my hope for us too. May we all be happy.

I'll see you next week.

And all next year.

last week's svithe


So am I better or am I worse than what once I would have been

Theric who?.

I was on fire to write this post earlier tonight, but I was also starving, and now three hours have passed. Plus some.

The nature of blogging is such--or, rather--the nature of my manner of blogging is such that I write when it is convenient rather than when I am inspired, and then I publish rough drafts. Not a good method for the professional writer, but then, I don't do this for money. If I did, you would all be in debt right now. So you see what kind of a person I am. Which is good because I am too close to the subject matter, and thus do not know.

Anyway, sorry. Off track already.

I finished reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated this afternoon and when I post the Third Five Books you can read my take on it, but now I just want to talk about matters of style. Because Foer's book is dripping with style.

When I was in high school, I wrote hyperclever stuff like Foer and his much-heralded contemporaries without realizing I was on the cutting edge. Later on, when I got more serious about my craft, I started toning down my native quirk--in large part because I reached the conclusion that I was more interested in pursuing art rather than veneer, which sounds harsh (or cocky), but please understand what I mean: art divorced from humanity is an enjoyable exercise, but hollow and empty and ultimately good only for footnotes.

I reached this conclusion in part because I read somewhere (not here, though this is the guy I heard it from) that style is not something that should be developed, but something that should be tamed. Everyone already has style. The trick is to keep it from overcoming the other elements of good literature and ruling over one's art like a drunken Nero.

So to speak.

This is the point in this post where I hasten to explain that I am not accusing Foer of sacrificing all else for the development of a Wicked Cool Style. I don't know the man. And my first novel, like his, makes use of fractured narrative and multiple povs, like his. Thus I cannot dismiss him as a charlatan without allowing others to so dismiss me. But I do wonder how willing he is to reign in his cleverness when it is damaging his story.

I'll mention this a little more when the Third Five get posted, but for now, no more on that.

The issue referred to in the title is one of generation.


1977 Jonathan Safran Foer
1976 Theric Thteed
1975 Zadie Smith
1974 Nicole Krauss
1970 Dave Eggers
And so on.

These are the writers who are my contemporaries and perhaps I am being bitter and jealous at their success--a possibility I would like to air now so we can forget it and move on. Because what the title refers to is whether or not turning thirty prepublication has been good for me.

Here's the thing. The two years off I've mentioned helped me step away from my Style First! way of writing fiction. Which I think was good--after all, Style First! is incredibly easy. It is no problem to blow bubbles. It's making the bubbles tell stories that's challenging.

In my current pursuit of my craft, I vary widely from stories that I try to tell style-free to stories that are experiments-in-style and, thus, worthless as anything other than experiment.

(Perhaps I am too cruel to those tales.)

Essentially, though, I have taken OSC's advice (as usual, it's all his fault) and seen my obligation as an artist as this: to remove myself from the art as much as possible--let it move away from home, live its own life.

In some ways, a purposeful development of style is selfish to the extreme. It is a refusal to let the art stand on its own merits and be recognized for itself. It is insisting it always comb its hair the way you did it the morning of its first-grade picture....


I do not know what kind of parent I am. Too few of my children have gone out into the big world, and until I see how they stand on their own, how can I know? For a parent is as only successful as its adult children alone in the big city; an artist only as successful as its art when experienced by strangers and skeptics.


In a related story, I want to here thank Lady Steed.

While this post is all about whether or not I am a better writer for having taken so long to finally get it together, professionally, the fact that I am getting it together at all is a tribute to her.

While I have always fancied myself an island, in fact, I rely a great deal on the grace of others. And for all the praise and acclaim I have bumped into now and then, no one ever had the faith in me as a person, as an adult, as an artist, as a lover, as a soul that she has. With her faith in me, I have accomplished things I never could have otherwise. Without her I would still be collecting dusty rough drafts that wait forever for Someday.

Whatever I finally accomplish, it will be because she believed it was possible.

This is worth mentioning here because it is too late for me to be the New Guard or the Hot Young Thing. This is my fault entirely. But, without Lady Steed, I may never have sold a book at all--let along at the still reasonably young age of thirty. And yes, the publisher is small, and yes, they are niche, but the book is good. Quite good. It tells a worthy story though it is demonstrably Thericonian, it is never so at the expense of the reader.

In short, I am on artistically sound footing, if I can be judged a fair judge of that. And whether where I am is better or worse than if I had somehow sprung like Athena onto the scene at 21 probably does not matter and is certainly not something I should stress about.

Besides. I may be wrong. I may, in fact, totally suck. Wouldn't that be the kicker?


Oscar Wisdom Frothing



And I thought last year was bad....

This year I have seen only four of the nominated films. Pretty pathetic for a wannabe cinephile. (Although I have recently seen both Psycho and King Kong on the big screen, so gimme some cred for that.)

Because my not-having-seen-very-many is understood, I am going to collapse my wanna-sees in with my have-seens.

Small = haven't seen
Italics = wanna see
Bold = really wanna see
Underline = really really wanna see
Red = gotta see


Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)
The Black Dahlia
Blood Diamond
Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Children of Men
Curse of the Golden Flower
The Danish Poet
Deliver Us from Evil
The Departed
The Devil Wears Prada
Éramos Pocos (One Too Many)
Flags of Our Fathers
The Good German
The Good Shepherd
Half Nelson
Happy Feet
Helmer & Søn
The Illusionist
An Inconvenient Truth
Jesus Camp
Iraq in Fragments
The Last King of Scotland
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Children
Little Miss Sunshine
The Lives of Others
Marie Antoinette
Monster House
My Country, My Country
No Time for Nuts
Notes on a Scandal
Pan’s Labyrinth
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
The Prestige
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Queen
Recycled Life
Rehearsing a Dream
The Saviour
Superman Returns
Two Hands
United 93
West Bank Story


Incidentally, although I liked Cars, it's far from my favorite Pixar film; I thought Pirates 2 was lousy; Little Miss Sunshine was a very good movie, but I really want to believe better films were made this year; and Monster House was pretty good, but with all the animation in 2006...was it really one of the three best? Then alas for Hollywood '06!


Music, Talents, Wyote, Today, Futurity, Svithes

Gimme! Gimme!

I have joined the church choir. This is not a particularly interesting fact to anyone other than my parents to whom it should give great joy. For all my failings, the one thing my parents always believed I could do and do well is sing. And so when I very purposefully left that particular skill behind it was heartbreaking to them. But I haven't sung now for many years and am only finally ready to come back.

The consequence of so long an absence is, of course, a serious erosion in talent. Which I expected and even wanted but is still frustrating. I am used to being the one the director can count on to sight read, learn the notes on the first pass, stick to the proper notes when everyone else is screwing up, etc. Not so anymore.

A fair question is why did I purposefully lose these skills. But I'm afraid I haven't a very satisfactory answer. My honest reaction is to blame the party of the first part (meaning of the preTheric contract), but that's not really fair (though it may be correct). Blame also relies on my sickandtiredness re: getting roped in to sing.

In other words, I was lazy, felt misappreciated, and simply wasn't that into it.

But I still love music and so, all these years later, I am back.

This seems apropos because today my brother Wyote, who recently returned from a mission, spoke today to his congregation about this and that and frankly I don't quite know what but I'm sure it was good.

He and I were chatting earlier this week about the craft of writing. Like me, Wyote is a writer, and it is my goal to get him to success much more quickly than myself. In our chat he told me that he has "started work on [his] first post-mission writing . . . [and he's] kinda rusty."

I understand. I too left writing behind during my mission, looking at it as one more thing laid on the altar. Then I came home and had to relearn everything I had once known.

Where I'm headed is this (and here comes the svithey part): There is a difference between letting talents decay for selfish reasons and allowing them to decay while doing something of greater importance--an importance not centered on the self. In both instances skills do decay. But I have no grand expectations of ever being a singer again--that is nothing I deserve. And the road back will be long and rocky--if I ever even make it.

But that example means nothing to Wyote's writing. God gives us talents and expects us to make the most of them. But he is not so capricious as to punish us for sacrificing to him. Forget about it!

God did not make us to fail. When Elder Russell M. Nelson visited our stake recently, he said that each of us was created to be successful during mortality. Implication: we are given everything we need and can expect to be given everything we will need.

So long, I suspect, as we don't squander what we already have.

Let that be a lesson to me.

last week's svithe

ps: whoever visited here from the fobcave at 10:15:48 am on a Mac using Firefox was my 15000th visitor as measured by SiteMeter--which counter is severely behind, sure, but that's still cool and you're still cool


I love the rock and roll (etc)


For the Grammys this year (I doubt I'll be watching, but I still have a jones for blogging about awards shows), I thought I would comment on selected items from Rolling Stone's top fifty albums of 2006.


Here we go.

    1 Modern Times
      "Thunder on the Mountain" kicks off with a salty old Chuck Berry riff, stretched out into a six-minute lust letter to Alicia Keys, and things only get weirder from there. Dylan hasn't sounded this frisky since John Wesley Harding in 1968, and like that underrated masterpiece, Modern Times is a groove album disguised as a poetry album, leaning hard on the rhythm section. Dylan breathes fire while his current road band beats up on some tough blues and country licks: the Muddy Waters stomp "Rollin' and Tumblin'," the Irish parlor ballad "Nettie Moore" and the mean Slim Harpo strut "Someday Baby," which as an iPod commercial became the closest thing to a hit single he's had since the Traveling Wilburys. Where can he go from Modern Times? Anywhere he goddamn wants.

I'm still trying to decide which Bob Dylan album will be my first. The man isn't making it any easier on me.

    3 Rather Ripped
      Their mean age now up to forty-eight with thirtysomething troublemaker Jim O'Rourke gone, indie's gray eminences made a light, simple, terse, almost-pop album. Granted, the guitar hook on, for instance, "Do You Believe in Rapture?" wouldn't sound so lovely if they and all their progeny hadn't long since adjusted our harmonic expectations. But who better to play to our expanded capacity for tuneful beauty? The vocal star of Rather Ripped is Kim Gordon, breathlessly girlish at fifty-three as she and her husband evoke visions of dalliance, displacement, recrimination and salvation that never become unequivocally literal.

I would like to hear this and see if maybe I can finally palate them Youthers. If you follow.

    4 Return to Cookie Mountain
      This Brooklyn band's major-label debut comes with David Bowie's seal of approval -- the Thin White Duke contributes vocals to "Province." More important is the fact that you can hear Bowie so clearly, nestled into the distinctive vocal blend of Kyp Malone's police-siren falsetto and Tunde Adebimpe's R&B tenor. The deliberate enigma of TV on the Radio's art rock has given way to a spacey magic, especially in the dark drone and drive of "Wolf Like Me," which sounds like the Bowie of Low -- with a pair of Arthur Lees at the mike.

I can't not be interested in these blokes after all the hype. But I think I'll wait a couple years before I make any effort to hear what they sound like. Let my high expectations come down a little.

    6 The Greatest
      Chan Marshall faces up to death and despair on a record that justifies every lofty claim her devoted fans have always made for her. On The Greatest, she cuts deep soul with Memphis session men, which brings out the country in her Georgia-bred voice on hard-won ballads like "Could We." Ten years after her first great album, What Would the Community Think, she sounds like she's just getting started.

I've heard just enough to know Chan is a woman with a voice, and I can't think of anything more exciting than that.

    9 Blood Mountain
      When it comes to metal, subtle is just another word for not trying hard enough. So glory be to Mastodon for piling it on like there's no tomorrow, in the most acclaimed, most innovative, most iron-tusked and just plain heaviest metal album since Metallica ran out of gas. The lyrics go over the top with warrior-fantasy mythos, full of lion slicers, ice gods, ogres and dwarves, not to mention something about "the sheep's- head curse." These four Atlanta dudes grind it out fast or slow, or leap between math-prog tempo shifts without losing their sense of primal paranoid thunder.

Metal must be the most boring brand of music there is. Everytime I try to give it a chance, I get bored to tears and turn to something more interesting. And I fully expect to hate Mastodon as well. But I have to admit that I would give them a chance. I keep doing this for metal. I never learn. But what I keep hoping is that someday I will find something worth listening to. Could it be Mastodon?

    11 Continuum
      Mayer's sixth disc made one thing clear: Homeboy has his shit together. Continuum is Mayer's most assured album yet, channeling familiar gifts -- fluid guitar-playing, sexy white-boy croon, strong tune sense -- with more subtlety, more focus and less lady-baiting cheese than ever. The result is a breezy pop-rock record that surrounds supremely crafted songs like "Vultures" with soul like "Gravity" and weightier stuff like "Waiting on the World to Change."

Now, I like John Mayer as much as the next guy, but what in the world does anyone need with two discs of John Mayer?

    13 Pearl Jam
      Pearl Jam's best studio album in a decade is like Vs. with politics -- iron-rock riffing and a lyric righteousness forged in real battle. "World Wide Suicide" and "Army Reserve" don't just protest the Iraq War and its disastrous consequences. These are songs about universal accountability (you need two sides to have a war) and the still-revolutionary power of individual dissent. "I will not lose my faith," Vedder sings on "Inside Job," a climactic fusion of Zep and Seventies Who. Now that's classic rock.

I like avacados.

    14 American V: A Hundred Highways
      The man in black was dying when he made this record, and he did not hide the truth of his condition. It is shocking to hear Cash fight to stay on pitch in "If You Could Read My Mind." But there is a deep strength and dignity in his performances and in the wisdom of songs such as Hank Williams' "On the Evening Train." V also includes the last song Cash ever wrote, "Like the 309," on which he growls and cracks wise like a guy on his way to a party instead of his last reward.

And I like Johnny Cash.

    15 Wolfmother
      This wild-haired Australian trio flattened crowds all year with organ solos, 'nad-crushingly tight pants and riffs heisted from Zep, Sabbath and the Purp. Andrew Stockdale brings the Ozzy-Plant screech, the lyrics are true metal poetry, and when "Joker and the Thief" hits its power-drive climax, there isn't a bat in the room with its head still attached.

This band totally perplexes me. Other than the lead singer's mango hair, what's to like? They are supposed to be New and Original and Exciting and a Throwback to a Lost Era, yet "Joker and the Thief" sounds like all the other crap on the radio. Can somebody explain this to me?

    16 Food & Liquor
      "Now come on everybody, let's make cocaine cool/ We need a few more half-naked women up in the pool": Fiasco's debut is smart, ballsy hip-hop both backpackers and Jay-Z fans can love. The A-list production helps: Kanye pumps "The Cool" full of dark funk, and the jazzy "I Gotcha" has the best Neptunes beat the Clipse didn't get.

This guy sounds clever. I like clever.

    20 The Black Parade
      This New Jersey band's third studio album is the best mid-Seventies record of 2006 -- an ingenious, unrestrained paraphrasing of the over-the-top glam theater of Queen and classic Alice Cooper. The relentless message of Parade is: Life sucks, and death is no great escape. But My Chemical Romance rev up the pathos with an arena-ripe panache that ensures their trip to the mausoleum will run right through Madison Square Garden.

I don't hate very many songs, but I hate the title track to this album. I'm sure it's partially to blame to why my return to commercial radio was so short. Because I hate this song. And it's s'dam'pop'l'r. Ick.

    21 Begin to Hope
      On Begin to Hope, the Russian-born New York singer-songwriter offers her thorniest collection so far, building on the poetic, eccentric, piano-based style that won her so much acclaim for early records like Soviet Kitsch. Her vocals are intense, whether she's singing dark love songs like "Apres Moi" or urban-single vignettes like "Summer in the City" ("I went to a protest/Just to rub up against strangers"). The bigger production augments her songs instead of drowning them out -- although it's hard to imagine what could drown out Spektor.

Now we're talking. I've only heard a couple songs from this album and read a couple sample lyrics but I ready and willing and able to fall in love with Regina Spektor. Somebody buy me this album!

    22 Night Ripper
      One remarkable fact about Pittsburgh DJ Gregg Gillis: To date, he hasn't been sued. On his virtuoso mash-up record Night Ripper, Gillis uses hundreds of unlicensed hip-hop, pop, rock and dance samples. The bedfellows are strange: One short stretch strings together Neutral Milk Hotel, Juelz Santana, Panjabi MC and Sophie Friggin' Hawkins. But he also blends them into something coherent and sublime, like when Biggie's "Juicy" blends with "Tiny Dancer."

I don't think I'ld like this, but I'm willing to give it a try. Because even if I don't, I'm sure it will still be somewhat interesting.

    23 The Crane Wife
      Real life seems light-years away from the fantastical murder ballads and desperate-love stories that singer-guitarist Colin Meloy wrote for his band's major-label debut. In the title suite, a man marries a bird, then literally works it to death. The soldier serenading his pregnant wife in "Yankee Bayonet" is already quite dead. But the union of arcane folk and Eighties Brit pop on the Decemberists' indie albums is pumped up here with electric guitars, prog-rock bravado and even Seventies funk in the Elmore Leonard-like tale "The Perfect Crime #2."

To the best of my knowledge, this may be about the only illegally copied album I own, but before I go out and rob a liquor store, I just want to say So Far So Good.

    24 The Information
      The Information is the best of both Becks -- the sample-delic warrior of Odelay and the confessional troubadour of Sea Change. Beck has wily fun with loops and historical references in songs like "Soldier Jane," a compact blend of droning sitar, John Lennon-like vocals and star-shine electronics. But there is a moving clarity to Beck's cleverness, summed up best in the gentle shimmy of "Think I'm in Love." When he sings, "I think I'm in love/But it makes me kind of nervous to say so," it is the sweet, plain-spoken sound of a loser about to reverse his fortunes.

Don't tell Lady Steed, but I already have a copy of this.

    28 Broken Boy Soldiers
      The Raconteurs are a side project that rocks like a main dish. Jack White brings the raw garage-rock aesthetic, Brendan Benson shows pop sense and brightens the vocals with heavy-Badfinger radiance, and bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler nail it all down with elementary muscle. The album's only drawback: Everything here -- especially "Steady, as She Goes" and the closing glam-Zeppelin blues "Blue Veins" -- sounds even better live. Maybe they should have cut the album after the tour.

It starts with the best song of the year then moves into Beatlesesque harmonies and other freaking awesome stuff. It took a few listens to get into but it was most certainly worth it. Theric recommends.

    29 We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
      The stories in these songs are as old as the Oklahoma Dust Bowl and sixteenth-century Scotland. But the truths and lessons of natural disaster, war and citizenship are as immediate as New Orleans, Iraq and the midterm elections. These big-band treatments combine Dixieland brass, cantina accordions and barn-dance fiddles and feature Springsteen in rough but vintage jubilant voice -- as if John Henry himself is hammering those spikes through the stage at the Stone Pony.

I'm not going to listen to this because I want to like it but fully expect not to. How's that for openminded?

    30 Robbers & Cowards
      The Cold War Kids' debut wasn't quite the best indie-rock record of the year, but it might have been the most original: all cracked, soaring croons and shambling story-songs about alcoholics, killers and other shady characters, courtesy of L.A. boys doing Seventies-style rock with a dash of Southern gothic.

A music/design collective? Guess we Thteeds should be getting into this.

    31 Like Father, Like Son
      New Orleans' Cash Money Records may be past its heyday as a hitmaking cartel, but with Like Father, Like Son two of the label's biggest names were able to reinvigorate a familiar sound: thick, exuberant drawls about guns, cars and girls backed by locked-in, hard-charging bounce.

Don't be gross.

    32 Supernature
      So you thought they stopped making dance-pop records like this in 1988, when the Eurythmics started to slow down? Or in 1998, when trip-hop hit the wall? Goldfrapp exist beyond time and space, in a metropolitan interzone of sleek computer beats and dark melodies and after-hours club-slut ambience. First lady Alison Goldfrapp's sex-robot vocals hold it it all together -- when she sings "Ooh La La," it sounds like a threat.

I keep forgetting Goldfrapp isn't from thirty years ago. What does that mean?

    34 The Eraser
      Major Thom managed to keep his first solo album a secret until just before it dropped -- the reason, he explained, is that he didn't want to raise any questions about whether Radiohead were breaking up. The sound recalls Kid A's quiet glitch-tronic moments, in disarmingly straightforward verse-chorus-verse tunes. But even in morose ballads such as "The Clock" and "Atoms for Peace," Yorke's steely intelligence shines through.

Yes, yes, yes. Of course I'm interested. Sheesh.

    37 Alive and Kickin'
      Topped only by Nonesuch's Our New Orleans 2005 among Katrina records is an old man's album recorded in and around 2000. Like the levees, but with far better follow-through, these tracks had to await the disaster before they got the funding attention they deserved. The sense of irrepressible fun that made Domino the biggest African-American rocker of the Fifties is replaced by a reflectful calm that never turns blue. Rhythmically it's so astute you can only assume his reflexes are as sharp as ever.

Hey! Look! It's Fats Domino!

    38 10,000 Days
      The pointlessly elaborate packaging (the 3-D specs just give you a headache) contradicts the no-gimmicks fury of everything else Tool does, to obsessive perfection, on Days -- and that includes actual songwriting. Even at seven and six minutes apiece, respectively, "Vicarious" and "The Pot" are packed with clever twists on instant-hit-single kicks: Adam Jones' nagging, grinding guitar riffs; the catchy, mounting-fear stammer of drummer Danny Carey's odd time signatures. That's more than enough to leave you seeing double.

I've never liked Tool. And I frankly don't care if they're geniuses.

    39 The Tragic Treasury
      These songs, aimed at the precocious youngsters who jones for the gleeful gothic gloom of the Lemony Snicket novels that have made sometime Magnetic Fields sideman Daniel Handler very rich, are of a thematic piece. Perfect for Stephin Merritt's melancholy baritone, they also satisfy his appetite for rhyme. "The world is a very scary place, my dear," Merritt intones. "It's hurled and it's twirled through outer space, I fear." Comedy album of the year.

I like these songs. But listening to fifteen at a time must do something unhealthy to one's brain. Don't you think?

    41 Friendly Fire
      As the son of a Beatle, Sean Lennon certainly has the right to make music in his father's mode. Indeed, Sean's boyish, nasally voice is a near-spittin' image of his dad's Rubber Soul-ballad croon. But there is also a lot of the Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson and Brazilian tropicalia in the disciplined sparkle and feathery distress of Friendly Fire. Actually, the most overt Beatlesque moment on this record is the bottlenecklike effect of the lead guitar in "Spectacle" -- it sounds like George Harrison's spirit dropped by to say hi.

Sean Lennon's first album has been on my to-buy list for, um, ten years now? But I really haven't had a chance to pick it up yet. So, STOP CRANKIN OUT THE ALBUMS SO FAST, LENNON!!!!!

    44 Show Your Bones
      The New York mod squad's hotly awaited second disc is a triumph: dark, spooky, lithe, broodingly sexy, with Karen O venting her heartbreak and libidinal heebie-jeebies into post-punk tunes with a new kind of goth-cowgirl twang, and Nick Zinner deploying a fresh array of vampire guitar-noise splatters. Bonus: "Gold Lion" made it onto Pants-Off Dance-Off, the ultimate rock & roll desideratum of 2006.

I once spent an entire afternoon listening to the sample clips from this album on Amazon over and over and over and over again. Is that so bad?

    45 Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
      For the country-rock fan who wonders why they don't make them like they used to, Case brings her smoky voice (Emmylou Harris meets Liz Phair), rootsy band (featuring members of Calexico and the Band's Garth Hudson) and cryptic songwriting, as in the scary "Dirty Knife."

Before ever reading about this album, I saw it in a Target and almost bought it simply because is has the blankety blankest most awesomest album artwork ever. That the music also good is just sop much gravy.

    46 You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker
      The outlaw-country king of Texas pays loving tribute to the state's songwriting queen. Nelson played many of the songs on this album in his youth, on the way to his own songwriting fame, and he revisits them with such affection and Texas-dance-floor authenticity that you can almost smell the sawdust.

I feel guilty for not drooling. Sorry, Willie.


And that's that.