Svithe: on sacrifice


I've been thinking about sacrifice and it came up in Church today. In particular, I often come back to this statement from Joseph Smith:
    "Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation."

Being interested in salvation myself, I have to recognize a necessary corallary, viz. If I am not willing to sacrifice all things I will never have the faith necessary unto life and salvation.

I'm reminded of Lamoni's statement:
    O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day.

I like to broaden the traditional definition of sin. I think I often broaden it beyond its true scope, but I do it anyway because I find it helpful to me.

Am I willing to give away these sins?
    The sin of waiting till the last second because I know that effort will still be sufficient to impress people.
    The sin of needing to be clever.
    The sin of thinking I don't have to serve here if I served there.
    The sin of doing enough--or even more than enough--but not all that I could possibly have done.
    The sin of self-importance.
    The sin of typing silly lists of sins and calling it self-analysis, pretending it will make me a better person.

Those might be a pretty good place to start.

last week's svithe


Believe it or not, THIS COMB IS NOT NEW!!!!!

(not a new comb)

Yes, friends! That's right! It's not new!

I can hear you asking yourselves, "Thmazing, sir--how is this possible? I look and I look but I can see no evidence of built up grease and dead skin on the teeth. I don't mean to impinge your honor, Thmazing, sir, but I just don't think I can accept your statement.

Well, friends, I understand your amazement. I myself before just last week would have considered a comb as sparkling and clean as this to be factory-fresh or as impossible and a seventy-foot unicorn, but I can assure you on my good thname that this is not so!

It's true! While the government would have you believe that such clean-combness is impossible without the aid of nuclear-grade cleaning materials available only at your finer military bases, I can assure you this is not so. Friends, difficult as it is to believe, I have cleaned this comb without any harsh chemicals likely to destroy all carbon-based life!

Now, if you're like me, and I know you are, you yourself have struggled to clean a caked-up comb yourself. You tried Q-tips and forks and your own blessed fingernails, but all you did was take well organized grime and make it horrible to look at. Then you either threw the comb away or tried again. Hours later, you put back on the shelf and tried to forget its foulness so you could someday use it again.

Friends, no more! I am hear to save the day and your combs!

The miracle solution came to me as I was about to pack my comb for a trip. I saw the built-up filth on the comb teeth and had a revelation. This comb has teeth--what else has teeth? Why, I have teeth! And how do I clean between my teeth? Floss! So I grabbed some floss and....

Well, friends, the rest is history. History and big clumps of a couple years' worth of hair oil and decomposed skin cells falling in a flurry of furry clumps into my lap.

A miracle friends! And this is just one example of how thgenius of Thmazing's Household Hints can help you! Just send your order along with $29.95 (Only $59.95 for two!) in the comments section of this blogpost and Uncle Thmazing will be making your life easier in no time flat.

With floss!



"And Jeremiah Is in Prison"


Some time ago I suggested that I might be writing a short story on the ole blog here, going through the drafts in public. The story I had planned to do this with, however, did not get started until this last week. And, inconveniently, those early words were written out longhand.

Still, the concept of the experiment remained interesting: How will my writing process differ if I know that someone may, at all time, potentially, be reading (maybe). A lot? A little?

The whole thing is ridiculous though. What makes me think anyone would want to read all the crappy early words? Who do I think I am? Neil Gaiman?

Anyway, I started typing those first few thousand words, but then I was distracted and started typing new words. Most of which are also pretty terrible, but after plenty misstarts, I think I've finally found the story's beginning.

Before I share it with you, I want to say a couple things (and by "a couple," I mean "several."):
    1. This whole process means that there is no magician-and-audience here. The beautiful polished works that I usually produce (other than on Thmusings, of course: repository for whatever the crap happens to fall from my fingers) this is not. This is rough-draft stuff. Even if these 700 words are the first that have a fighting chance at making the final draft, they're still far from polished.

    2. The story I'm writing bears only a fleeting resemblance to the proposed story linked to above. Levi and Ammon, for instance, are gone. Replaced by brothers Hemn and Djed who don't hardly even appear in this excerpt.

    3. Much of my efforts so far have been in finding the story's beginning. But in all these false beginnings, I have learned much about the paths the story should follow. In fact, most of the story's all outlined in my head. Just most of the stuff actually written down isn't that great. Yet.

    4. But I do like this beginning. Taking the opening back a few hours was, if you don't mind my saying so, brilliant. Much better to see this scene than to have two people talking about it. Duh.

    5. Here we go (enjoy):

The rays of the late summer sun cracked through the dusty doorway as the couple knelt with their children to say a prayer on behalf of their beleaguered prophet. The father’s dirt-caked toes dug into the floor of their home as he listened to his oldest pray. “And Lord please help us love our neighbors, even when—”

Even when. This was the hard part. Her father cracked his eyes to peek through his lashes at his faithful girl. She seemed to have love enough for the even-whens. How were children so able to love. She was thirteen—almost old enough to wed—but still so much a child in her smiles and hope and faith.

Beside him, his wife leaned in a little more and he bent his head to rest it on hers.
The girl finished her prayer and helped her little brother stand. She took him into their homes second room for bed. As he watched them leave, he was torn between love for them and the oppressive loss that there were only two. These were not good days for keeping children alive.

The orange bled into purple. There was not oil to spare for a light. The father was about to suggest sleep to his wife when he heard voices outside, in that strained tone of the naturally noisily struggling to be quiet. A glare of torchlight flashed through their tattered door then a fist ripped down the rotted cloth. In a moment, soldiers flooded the room—six, ten—more people than had even been in their tiny home before, that much was certain. The soldiers were yelling but the father couldn’t understand any of the words. He was shouting at his daughter to stay in the other room as he pushed his wife behind him. Soldiers yanked her from him and she was passed arm to arm and out the door. He yelled, inarticulate, and rushed forward. A huge fist caught him in the throat and he fell to his hands and knees, his breath sounding like mice. He was kicked under the chin and fell to the ground. One soldier next to him gestured at him, his spear scraping the ceiling, brown chunks raining down on the prostrate man. He struggled to wipe the dust from his eyes, to sit. A foot to the ear and he gave up, and just lay prone, waiting. He could hear the shortened breath of his daughter, the muffled tears of his son. He could hear his wife not at all.

The soldiers parted and a man in temple robes entered. He looked at the fallen man as if he were a weeks-old fish. “Mm,” he said. “You are David? A follower of the traitor Jeremiah?”

David coughed and struggled to speak.

“Stand him up.”

Two soldiers grabbed him and jerked him upright. David swayed unsteadily for a moment, then shook his head. He looked up from under his mussed hair and looked at the priest.

“I am David. And a follower of the God of Israel.”

“Yes, yes. And you lick the toes of Jeremiah. I can tell by your response. You will come with us. Secure him.”

A thin rope pulled around his wrists, cutting into his skin. A second rope around his waist held his arms to his side. Then a rope just above his knees.
The priest turned and left and, after a sharp poke between his shoulder blades, David followed him. As he left his home he looked about wildly for any sign of his wife, but nothing. “Miriam!” he cried.

“Shut up.” Someone smacked his head with a spear.

Curfew had fallen with the sun, but the soldiers’ footfalls attracted the beginnings of a crowd anyway. One pair of eyes stood out from the crowd. The face was too black to be visible, but David would know his friend and brother Hemn anywhere. “Find Miriam!” he cried again, straining the remnants of his voice.

The priest stopped. Without turning around he said, “Split his tongue. Perhaps it will quiet him. And if not, he can obviously use a nice quenching draught of blood.”
David’s face was grabbed and his jaw forced open. A knife thrust between his teeth. Pain and the sense of drowning. A forced march and blackness.


An open letter to the RIAA regarding my personal morality


End home taping now!So I just returned the new Jenny Lewis album to the library, which returning caused me great pain. I loved that album. Loved it.

So why didn't I just copy it, you ask? Good question, RIAA!

Because I just don't think it's okay. That's why. It's stealing. I agree with you on this point entirely. Almost all the music I own is original factory-pressed hardcopies. Granted, I bought a lot of them used, but there's nothing wrong with that, RIAA, is there? Is there! Thank you.

I should admit I once used Napster, back when it was still illegal. Following that one time I was on Napster however, I ended up buying several albums as a result of the two cds I burnt. Some of which I never would have discovered otherwise. I'm just saying.

But as a whole I'm opposed to illegally copied music. In fact, I even deleted my library-stolen Little Willies album before writing this post. Just because it's been bothering me for months.

My morality is not all clean though. I admit I bought pirated tapes in Korea and I don't seem to have a problem when people giveme pirated music. They can go to your special RIAA jail--not me. I'm innocent.

(Note to ethicists: I know, I know. Just try to forget you ever read that paragraph.)

So. I check Cat Power's awesome album out from the library and love love love it. I do not copy it however. But when P**** burns it for me? No problem. I listen to it all the time.

Anyway, piracy is bad. I don't do it. I hope this clears things up.

Please let me know if you have any more questions.






Fox Bunny Funny 055) Fox Bunny Funny by Andy Hartzell, finished June 16
    I love the art of creating an entire book without any words. And this was was unexpectedly affecting at times. I recommend it. Without words, it won't take you long.

    before leaving the library

Where did I leave my glasses? title= 054 Where Did I Leave My Glasses?: The What, When, and Why of Normal Memory Loss by Martha Weinman Lear, finished June 15
    My apologies to Katya. She went to all that effort to recommend some nonfiction to me and, well, I can't remember where my copy of Boggs is. Ever since Lady Steed rearranged the books, apparently, it's been somewhere other than where I think it should be. And the rest of her list? I never remember to bring it to the library.

    Which makes this book so apropos, I suppose. According to the book, Science Agrees that middle-age starts at 45. Well, I can't find my glasses now. Or Boggs. Or a whole lot of things.

    I checked out this book mostly to make Lady Steed laugh and hear her tell me, yep, you need that. I would probably skim the interesting parts, but mostly I got it so my wife would laugh at me (does that sound desperate?). But I ended up reading the whole thing. Well, not reading reading, but I did "read" the whole thing, even if it was in a way that means it'll never sink into my longterm storage. Crap.

    Is that ironic?

    Anyway, the book was interesting. Lots of fun science and anecdotes. Breezy.

    Oh, and if you want to share your own "Most Embarrassing Memory Lapse", Lear is working on a second book now and she wants to know. Email WhereDidILeaveMyGlasses@hbgusa.com. Or, you know, leave it in the comments here. Even better.

    about couple weeks but i don't remember exactly

The Mystery Guest: an account 053) The Mystery Guest by Grégoire Bouillier, trans. Lorin Stein, finished June 14
    I can't speak with authority on the original French, but in translation, Bouillier is a lovely writer with his page-long sentences and little refrains. All the same, if this book hadn't been a mere 126 pages, I don't know that I would have finished it.

    It's 1990 and the woman who up and disappeared on him four years ago calls up, apropos of nuthin, and invites him to a party. Bouillier recounts his thoughts through that call, through the party, through moments over the next fourteen years; he draws analogies and parallels between himself and space probes; defines himself with the aid of wine bottles and novels and turtlenecks.

    This book was evolutionary for me [sic]. It has reshaped my thoughts on what memoir can be, in terms of voice and scope and purpose. And if his first book, coming out in translation this fall, is as short as this, I think I may well read it.

    four days

Spuds 052) The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer, finished June 10
    Fun read. I hadn't read any of Mr Colfer's better known books and I needed something to read on the way home from the library that wouldn't get added to the stack. Enter evil librarian. (Isn't it always the case?)

    maybe half an hour

Bones 051) Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood, finished June 10
    I should note that many of my comments here should not be generalized to Margaret Atwood's entire oeuvre but confined to this book; I do not choose, however, to demarcate between which should and which should not. So ha.

    She sure can be a ponderous writer, can't she? She'll take a harmless little joke and force it to be a deep consideration of all things human. Each and every comma screams I AM GREAT ART! I'm not joking: the punctuation is clearly arranged to effect a sense of Importance.

    Atwood is impossible to discuss without mentioning feminism. So much of so much ends up being on the battle of the sexes, with the men never coming off to well, even if they do tend to win. But I wouldn't have you dismiss it as that kind of feminism because that would be taking it too far. Sometimes. Sometimes it would be taking it about the right far.

    None of which to say Atwood isn't a fine artist. I like a lot of her work and some of the bits of this book-of-bits I liked as well--or at least appreciated. Sometimes that's all you can really ask of me.

    (All of which reminds me: I want to reread The Handmaid's Tale......

    couple weeks