To your left (volume two)


I've been delinquent on this project, but I can't let the whole week go by without an entry. So today: only one, the sole blogger confirmed in 2000, Silly Marie.

Silly Marie's Middle Drive
    And here we meet the first blogger whose precise year of corporeality confirmation is uncertain. I mention it for her only, but she is not the only one. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

    Silly is the wife of Brother Brass--my wife's brother. And we like her a lot. I mean, a lot a lot. Like, what the heck is she doing in Texas? That's a long ways away! She should come to California! And if she wanted to, she bring along that husband of hers as well.

    She started blogging just over a year ago and it's been good times ever since. Of all the posts I've ever read from anyone, I probably think of this one the most. Although I'm still a little leary of that new background color. I don't think it will last past too many new baby diapers, to be frank.

    But otherwise, all hail Celia, the Silly Marie.

Volume One, 1990 - 1999


Theric! Say it ain't so!


I was at Ross the other day and, long story short, picked up this book and read it.

The book opens from either end; one side has Maleficent on the cover and tells the Sleeping Beauty story with her as narrator. The other side lets the princess tell her version of events.

Let's get the facts straight here and now:

YES. I did read a book branded "Disney Princess".

YES. I read the entire thing.

YES. I liked it.

YES. I laughed my silly little head off. I am not exaggerating when I said it slew me. The book was really funny, people. And for $2.99, I really should have bought it. Shoot.

The real questions have to do with the writer, Kiki Thorpe:

1) Why didn't she write all these My Side of the Story books?

2) What's with the career composed of nothing but crap for Disney and Nickelodeon (et al)? You have skills, Kiki! Do something all your own! Put that creative spunk to work on a project that will give you a better royalty deal!

Also: you don't happen to live in the East Bay, do you?


Love me, love my svithe
Hate me, hate my svithe


Being a general optimist and having a high opinion of humanity in general, I sometimes forget that people hate me. People who hate Americans. People who hate whitie. People who hate Mormons. People who hate those who never get enough sleep.

These people necessarily hate me.

But I forget.

I just looked up "Mormon" on Google News; most of the articles were about that Romney fellow and many of those were about how some people just hate Mormons. What really gets me is good Christians who start frothing at the mention of Mormonism, but I'm not looking to pick a fight. Let 'em hate. Whatever.

The reason I was googling though was to find this article which recently ran in a local paper. The article's about how Mormon's are trying to be perceived differently--as less secretive for example.

It's a funny thing, being perceived as secretive, because we're really anything but. Those 60000 missionaries aren't out there making sure secrets get kept, after all.

Lady Steed recently told our neighbor what my forthcoming book is about (August! Start saving pennies now!), viz, Mormon kids at BYU. She said that she would be very interested in such a book because Mormons are so mysterious and secrety.


Well I guess we do need to be less secretive then.

I'm not about to make any huge pronouncements or groundbreaking suggestions, but I do wonder what sort of line is between Seeming Secretive and Overwhelmingly Proselytory. It is one-dimensional? An inch wide? Six miles?

Don't know. But apparently I'm still to one side of it.

last week's svithe


To your left (volume one)


I'm starting a series of posts on the bloggers I am currently linked to. We'll pick up at the top and work our way down. So. Without further ado.

Myke's Toad Spit Chronicles
    I met Myke in August 1990 shortly after moving to Tehachapi. He came up to me at church and asked if I liked football. I said not really. He said me neither. And so it began. Myke is referenced in the current version of my Official (so-called) Bio--and for good reason. He was one of the people I founded Antemoff Software with. Never heard of Antemoff? You're not alone, but that does not change the fact that the hundreds--perhaps thousands--of pages we cranked out developing stories for games preventing my creative life from stagnating during some pretty lousy high school years. And Antemoff did not die easy. As late as 1999 I was considering quitting school to make it happen.

    Myke's blog, however, barely deserves the title. He has posted exactly once, and that a long time ago. If it were anyone else I would have yanked the link by now.

    Start a real blog, bucko! The world needs you!

Lady Steed's After Happily Ever After
    Lady Steed was not the first of the people listed under 1999 that I met. But she gets first billing because I married her. Best decision I've made. And that's not just well recycled rhetoric; it's true.

    Myke and me's best high school teacher, Mr. Bill Richards, a confirmed bachelor of some years, told me that I had to get married. Had to. "I don't usually say that, Thteed, but you really need to get married."


    Perhaps because I am a gross incompetent and would likely have either starved to death or gotten lost in the desert by now were it not for the guiding hands of one Lady Steed.

    Not that that is all she is good for. Oh my no. Seven years of scintillating conversation, for instance. And more! more! more!

    But I think that might be enough for today. We wouldn't want to, you know, embarrass anybody.

Nemesis's Voice of Reason
    Nemesis was probably the first met of these three '99ers. In 2002 we would work together doing webdesign (pro bono) (which is to say, as part of a class assignment) for BYU's English Department. Oh, how we slaved! Only to have them scratch all our hard work a couple weeks later and hire professionals. The bastards.

    Nem was one of the first two bloggers I linked to and everything I said about her then is still true. If I were suddenly approached by some house to edit a collection of Best Blog Posts, the book would certainly be Nem-heavy. If you haven't been to her blog before, the time to start is now.

Miss Hass's Happenings
    Nem, Lady Steed and Miss Hass were all roommates back in 1999 when I first met them. So it should be no surprise that their place was among my favorite places in the entire world. Or that I overstayed my welcome on more than one occasion. For which I now apologize without quite meaning it.

    This summer they (and the rest of them) are supposed to let me make up for their largess by coming to our place for a week. This reunion is looking less likely all the time, which is a shame, but hey! we'll always have Provo!

    Right, Miss Hass?

more to come




(test completed)


Sometimes things press


Today's important topic is global warming which, as I am sure you---


Sorry. Global warming which, as I am sure you know, has come to the forefr---


Excuse me.

Global warming, which has come to the forefront of public consciousness through the efforts of Alb---


Albert Gore, who used to be---



Vice-president but these days---



Look, maybe we should just have this conversation some other---




Do you remember that one time?


Because I wish you would tell me. I've been trying and trying and I just can't.

It's so frustrating!


Svithe: In brief


Starting with Psalm One verse one:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

Links to:

Prov. 1: 10--My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

Links to:

Isa. 59: 7--Their feet run to evil, and they make chaste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.

Links to:

Hel. 12: 4--O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world!

Links to:

Heb. 3: 12--Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

Okay....something cheerful, maybe?

That linked to:

Gen. 6: 5--And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Hmm. Links to:

Gen. 8: 21--And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Yes! Okay! Let's stop there!

last week's svithe


Fourth Five Books Finished in 2007


20) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, finished March 16
    So. Contrary to what I may have led you to believe, I am not totally in love with this book. And Dave Eggers is more like himself than he is like me. And I think the reason people went nuts over this book, is not just because it is a good example of what it is (though it is), but because it was the first time they saw that a book written like this could exist. At least, that's my theory. ¶ I read the self-contained appendix and introductory fun before starting the bookbook portion of the book to build up steam and to believe I really could read it. And I have other posts in me in regards to Eggers and this book that I may or may not ever write, but yes. I did like the book. Yes. I do recommend it. Unless you don't like that one vulgarity that refers to sexual intercourse. Cuz it's pretty rampant. ¶ But at the end of the day, it's a good book and I liked it and Eggers is still invited--but now we have to meet after midnight. If that's okay.
    not quite a month

19) Batman: Gothic by Grant Morrison et al, finished March 13
    Batman: Gothic
    I like Batman. And I liked Morrison's take on Arkham. And I liked a couple things about this book. Alfred was pretty funny, for instance. But as a whole, ixnay on the othicgay. Ywhay? Because I just don't like the supernatural creeping into my Batman. Batman, though fantastic, needs to be firmly grounded in the natural world. To me, anything unnatural is a betrayal. It's weird that Batman and Superman exist in the same universe, but at least we can pretend Superman is natural. 300-year-old demon-monks, not so much.
    maybe a couple hours

18) Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, finished March 7
    Wild at Heart
    When I started this book, I had in mind joking about how it was the Christian, nonfiction Fight Club. And that is true enough, I suppose, but rather unfair all the same. Even though the parallels are many and varied, in the end, Fight Club is nihilistic and Wild at Heart is God-centered. ¶ Eldredge's points are easy to sum up, but difficult to sum up without slighting or making seem silly. In the end, for all the points I remain skeptical about, overall, I am a convert to his view of what God made men to be. ¶ The book is a good starting point for men to look at their own lives and see what is missing. (And it would be a great foundation for a brand of literary criticism.) I would recommend it to anyone without reservation. ¶ Although the recommendation might not be reserved, I would not ask anyone to take the entire book as gospel. From my Mormon perspective, I started picking out "false doctrine" on page ten. And sometimes he uses bad facts to reach good conclusions. Which is not something you see very often.... ¶ My brother Reb gave me the book for Christmas. And he gave one to our father and brother. He has a whole box of these books (from here?). He bought it because he was sick of lending his copy to someone who really needed it and never getting it back. I guess I can understand that. And I can easily see how this book could change lives. ¶ Rather than go on and on (which I could if there weren't fresh cookies in the other room), let me just say that this book is worth reading. I'm not suggesting you (or anyone) will agree with every word out of Eldredge's mouth, but his arguments are so compelling, they must have some element of truth. ¶ How much truth? That's not my job to say. But enough that I would say go ahead and read the book.
    under two months

17) Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald, finished March 7
    Short, fast, funny. Has a moment of horrific violence and lots of James Madison. And mini comicstrips ala Captain Underpants (illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds). That's probably all you need to know.
    under an hour

16) <50 Professional Scenes for Student Actors: A Collection of Short 2 Person Scenes by Garry Michael Kluger, finished March 6
    Scenes scenes scenes
    Another busy day at the office and another book picked off a teacher's shelf and read through. The scenes in this book are heavy with advertisers, crime scenes, interrogations, restaurants, cops and reporters. Most are pretty good. I would recommend it to another high school drama teacher as a source for scenes to assign. Other than that though, why would you need it?
    a couple hours


15) Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda, finished March 5
14) Frindle by Andrew Clements, finished March 1
13) Brain Wave by Poul Anderson, finished February 27
12) The Best American Comics 2006 edited by Harvey Pekar and Anne Elizabeth Moore, finished February 26
11) Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, finished February 15
10) The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ edited by Mormon and Moroni, finished February 7
9) Lisey's Story by Stephen King, finished February 1
8) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, finished January 26
7) Empire by Orson Scott Card, finished January 24
6) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, finished January 22
5) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, finished January 17
4) Superman Adventures Vol. 1: Up, Up and Away! by Mark Millar, finished January 16
3) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, finished January 12
2) Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, finished January 11
1) Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 10


The Ides of March


The Fobs just arrived for a visit.




Why I hate Dave Eggers


So I have finally picked up my copy of Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and am reading it. I am doing so because Master Fob is also doing so and liking the book and thinking I should read it because "it often makes me think of you [meaning me] . . . because of your zany style that Dave Eggers approximates well."

But see, I don't like Dave Eggers.

I'm not sure when I decided I don't like Dave Eggers. I believe I first heard about him in PRINT magazine, in an article about Eggers's line of books under the McSweeney's name. That article changed forever my ideas about book design and I wanted to be published by whoever that guy was.

Or I might have first heard of him when I first saw AHWOSG on the shelf when it was new.

Not sure. But I didn't make the connection between the two for some time.

By the time I ran into his books on such things as Squid and Giraffe, I was both delighted (because I loved their concept) and repulsed (because they were Eggers).

Eggers . . . .

And what of his book I'm reading now? It starts being playful, right on the copyright page.

Hey-- I wanted to do that---

The acknowledgments are more than a sterile list of names.

Now wait just a second----

And his tone swings wildly from breathless to absurd lies to pain.

He even has a humorous story involving a believed-to-be-stolen wallet and getting the cops involved.


And he had the galling nerve to publish his first.

The bastard.

See. That's what the problem is. I hate Dave Eggers because he's like me, and he dared to become successful by being me.

I've spent the last some years fighting publishers because my book Byuck is "zany." But even before I sent it out, I scaled it back so, so much. And it was still too zany!

But compared to AHWOSG, it's practically zany-free! Why can he get away with it when I can't!

I'm sorry.

It's not right to hate someone else because they are successful. I know this. I'm glad I've figured out why I hate Dave Eggers because it's a crappy reason and I need to knock it off.

He's a good writer.

I like his book.

Nice job, man.

And it's not like I'm a horrible failure. I finally found a publisher for that book and it should be out later this year.

That's good.

But it's still unnerving. Because what if he is better at being me than I am? What right then do I have to be me? For heaven's sake, the man's make-crap-up tendencies are deliriously like mine and he handles booksignings the way I intended to. It's weird. It's an outrage!

I want my soul back, Dave!


Actually, since I first started writing this post (delayed do to death of computer), I have successfully overcome my former hatred. The man's a mean writer and I appreciate that. And the more I learn about him, the harder he is to hate; he seems like a pretty nice bloke. He certainly doesn't seem like the sort of person who would hate someone for succeeding by being like him.

And hey--he used to live just up Marin from me. Maybe he would like to cross the bridge every other week and join Fob East Bay.

We certainly have openings.


a brief note regarding the last day of the first month of the new year letter


It's finally ready. We're printing now. Do we have your address?


(svithe) Mahogany Reign


So there I was. In a kindergarten class. We were going over the three-plusses. Three plus one is four. Three plus two is five. Three plus three . . . .

Then this one kid, Lucy, raised her hand and asked what the difference was between sines and cosines.

I tried to explain it, but she was having trouble grasping it.

So I tried another way. No luck.

I admitted that I wasn't so good with this stuff myself and had a hard time keeping them straight. Then I foolishly mentioned tangents.

At this point she pushed aside her worksheet with the dancing threes and the flamingo and rejected math now, today, and forever, her whole life. She called herself an amatheist and encouraged her classmates to follow her example.

If I can't understand this sine/cosine business(she said) then it is clear to me that the difference is false and imagined. And if sines and cosines are a lie, we must therefore assume that all math is a lie. Told to enslave us to life of adding and subtracting. Lie upon lie until we can no longer distinguish between the feel-good "truth" of one plus one equals two and the obvious untruth of what is a sine.

Her classmates nodded and began to push away their papers.

I argued. I suggested that just because they did not understand one thing, they should not throw away what they already knew. I pleaded with them, suggesting that in time and with effort, all things would become known.

My cries fell on deaf ears.

So I let them eat their snack, then we went out to play foursquare.


last week's svithe



No kindness goes unpunished
(an open letter to Tusk)


Dear Tusk---

Remember that post I wrote that mentioned Regina Spektor? And how you said she was awesome? And that you were totally going to buy me a copy? But Amazon America wouldn't take your pounds? So you were going to make something happen and send it through the mail?

Yeah. You're pretty much the best person I know.

Anyway, the envelope came in the mail today, noting the postage (£1.87) and the date of departure (03/03.07) on a neat, white sticker.

What was not marked on the sticker but which I was able to ascertain all too quickly was that one end of the envelope had been cut open and that the US Postal Service had stamped it with RECEIVED WITHOUT CONTENTS.

I'm not sure where to begin.

With how bummed I am?

By railing against fate?

The post?

Miz Spektor?

I feel a sort of guilt--as if this were my fault. I feel a sort of rage--although against what I could not say. I feel a sort of dread--lest this twist in the story drive you over some mental precipice. Not that I consider that likely, but it's just the way this story seems to be going.




I really like the color of pen you used to address the envelope.

Thanks again,

your unfortunate pal,


ps: sorry i don't know any welsh jokes to lighten the mood.....





I just read some statistics.

Seems children in "middle-income neighborhoods [have] multiple opportunities to observe, use, and purchase books (estimated at about 13 titles per individual child)...."

Thirteen?!?! Kids in middle-income families only have thirteen books apiece?!?!

I find this appalling.


But if you think that's bad....

How about for low-income children?

Would you believe 1 book per 300 kids?

1 book

per 300 kids.

In America.

Not good.

I read about this in the new issue of Costco's magazine. In the same article I read about Seussville. This site is connected to First Book and from either site, if you send an ecard, that's one more book they'll give to some poor kid.

So give books to kids.

And if you don't have anyone else to send a Seussian ecard to, send one to me. My address is on your left.


Third Five Books Finished in 2007


15) Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda, finished March 5
    Lady Steed gave me this book for Valentine's Day, and a very good Valentine's Day present it was. If only I could manage to be so apropos! Thanks, lover! ¶ Disclaimer: One could easily argue that this book does not qualify according to the rules I set up, but I'm including it anyway. Even if I skipped the Spanish parts. ¶ So I've been interested in Neruda since seeing Il Postino in, oh, 2001? Something like that. But I have never read more than a couple poems. In part, because I am always leery of literature in translation--particularly poetry. But I read this volume and I thought it was pretty good--though to claim only one of these twenty-one poems is of despair seems to put too bright a face on it to me. ¶ The best part of this book however, for me, was the illustrations by Picasso. ¶ I've always been a bit skeptical of Picasso, and while, sure, I can appreciate Guernica as much as the next guy, to me, Picasso was simply intellectual exercise. ¶ Not so anymore. I stared at some of the images in this book a long long time and was moved. Nice job, Picasso. Wanna hang out? ¶ Oh! And Neruda? You're no slouch either.
    a couple weeks or so

14) Frindle by Andrew Clements, finished March 1
    So people have been talking this book up for years, and today I found myself in a fifth-grade classroom, saw it and picked it up, noticed the 25pt type and said to myself, "Yeah. I can read this." And so I did, during Art and Lunch. ¶ And I loved it. ¶ I laughed a lot and was touched like so. It's the perfect little chapter book for any kid you want to grow up loving words, teachers, brilliance, chance-taking, self-trusting, and slyness. And what kid shouldn't?
    just over an hour

13) Brain Wave by Poul Anderson, finished February 27
    Here's the skinny: spiraling out from the core of the galaxy is an inhibitor field that slows down all electromagnetic energy. Humanity has discovered this because we have just left that field. For millions of years--over our entire evolution--we have been inside the inhibitor field. Now we are out and out mental processes are speeding up as a result. Within weeks pesky problems such as world hunger and interstellar travel are solved. Humanity is no longer what it once was. ¶ Telling a story like this is tricky. How, for instance, do you represent the communication of humans for whom modern language is obsolete? It's an ambitious project Anderson picked up here. ¶ I bought this book up last month (it was one of about fifty from my last library sale splurge) and took it with me on a walk because it is quite short and easily fit in my pocket. Poul Anderson is one of the grand old daddys of science fiction whom I feel an obligation to try out and see what I think. That this book failed over and over again and on so many basic levels is sad, but according to Wikipedia this is one of his first books, and I don't suppose I should lambaste him for being daring and biting off more than he had skill to chew in 1954. Indeed, I should wax Teddyian and congratulate him on that failure. ¶ So no, I did not like this book. Every time it looked to get good, it would again collapse. I cannot recommend it. But I have a longer, forty-years-younger, award-winning Anderson book on my shelf (from another library sale back in Utah), and although I am not anxious (coming off Brain Wave) to pick it up, I think someday I will.
    eighteen days

12) The Best American Comics 2006 edited by Harvey Pekar and Anne Elizabeth Moore, finished February 26
Best American Comics 2006
    First let me just admit that I don't share Pekar's taste and so, necessarily, I don't like everything in this book. Also let me say that I don't think Pekar was truly aiming for the "best" when he made his selections. However: none of that changes the fact that this is a pretty darn good collection. Of the thirty comics collected here, I want to focus on one, the absolutely incredible "RabbitHead". ¶ In my experience, when an artist decides to be innovative with form, their work tends to lose heart--it may be an excellent intellectual exercise, but there is no soul to it. Like, mm, say a Mondrian painting. It's an interesting exercise, but there's nothing to move the viewer. ¶ Incredibly, artist Rebecca Dart doesn't run into that problem. "RabbitHead" is, in terms of form, truly innovative, but the story--grotesque and surreal as it is--stabs straight into the heart. It's a moving read and worth the price of admission all on its own. ¶ Dart says in the contributors' notes: "One of my main criteria while drawing 'RabbitHead' was that I desperately wanted to create a comic that could only be a comic and couldn't be translated into another visual form." ¶ In other words, she has created a work of art that cannot be film or anything else. It is comics only. And comics' ability to tell unique tales is further evidence of their great worth. ¶ One last thing: I think it's worth noting that this collection contains the first R. Crumb tale I've ever liked.
    maybe two months

11) Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, finished February 15
    It took me about 30 pages to develop enough tolerance for this book to believe I could finish it. I did not start liking it till page 118, but that was immediately followed by my putting it down for a week because I could not bear to look at it anymore. Then I swallowed hard and decided to wrap it up. The tale managed to get quite moving . . . and then it was over; one story ended cleanly and satisfactorily, the other with a blunt butterknife. ¶ The book's scattershot manner makes it tricky to figure out who is talking and what they are talking about. This is not a complaint precisely--many people have said that about my own first novel--but it demands the reader to decide why the author is so slow with the clues: does he respect me, or does he hate me? Is he just full of his own cleverness? I am trying hard to withhold judgement on this matter for now. ¶ The book, as I mentioned, does get emotionally involving towards the end, but I have to admit I am not entirely certain how much of the credit should go to Foer. It might be impossible to write a story on this subject without yanking soul-strings--historically, we are still much too close to this horror to look at it dispassionately. So yes, Foer's book "worked," but how much this is to his credit is difficult to say. Perhaps after ruminating more I will have a better answer. ¶ Anyway, I although I will not not recommend this book, nor rebut anyone else's recommendation of it, neither am I its proselyte.. It is worth considering to read. That much I can say.
    about three weeks


10) The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ edited by Mormon and Moroni, finished February 7
9) Lisey's Story by Stephen King, finished February 1
8) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, finished January 26
7) Empire by Orson Scott Card, finished January 24
6) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, finished January 22
5) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, finished January 17
4) Superman Adventures Vol. 1: Up, Up and Away! by Mark Millar, finished January 16
3) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, finished January 12
2) Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, finished January 11
1) Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 10