Mysterious Post-it


Lad Steed recently read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and found in it a blue, lined Post-it.

In my handwriting, the note says
What does this mean? I do not know.

But I sure wish I did.


The Fob Bible: “Blood-Red Fruit”

The Fob Bible.

Satan and the snake had watched each other for a long time before either spoke. It was mid-morning—it was always mid-morning—and the breeze was pleasant and warm in the thick tangles of shining dark leaves. The snake, a long purple shadow, was hanging in negligent coils from a branch of the tree hanging with blue-spotted white flowers and dark red fruit. Her large head rested on her casually muscled form and she watched Satan, who was sitting on a rock in a dusty clearing, rubbing his shoulders where his large black wings sprung, grimacing from time to time and keeping a close eye on the snake.

It was Satan who spoke first, after his grimaces and rubbing had finished. “You are very beautiful,” he said.

The snake stirred, blinking. “How can you know what beauty is?” she asked. Her voice was low, and modulated. “Only the gods know that.”

Satan shrugged. “I don’t know how I know, snake. I only know that I know—and you are very beautiful.”

“Are you a god, then?” Her voice was cool and musical, like a brook, and she regarded Satan with cool eyes.

He laughed, leaning back into his wings and grabbing his knees. “Do I look like a god to you?”

“You look like half a bat,” said the snake as she eased down from the tree. “The other half might be monkey, might be man. You have more hair than the other two-legs in this part of the tree-place.”

“Not a god though. That’s a relief,” said Satan. He leaned forward slightly and studied her as she moved from under the shadows of the trees. “You are beautiful—look at you in the sunlight. You’re like a living bruise.”

“What part of creation is a bruise?” asked the snake.

“A very beautiful part.” Satan’s mouth twitched into a smile.


DB & Twilight

Twilight detail.

So Deseret Book no longer has the Twilight novels on their shelves (cf). Let's see if we can figure out why, shall we?

Leigh Dethman of DB issued a statement:
    Our top priority is to meet the needs of our customers, who increasingly represent a variety of viewpoints . . . . Like any retailer, our purpose is to offer products that are embraced and expected by our customers. When we find products that are met with mixed review, we typically move them to special order status.
So, top priority, meet the needs of an increasing variety of viewpoints.

And how do they do that?

By removing books from their shelves.

It sounds like "meeting the needs of an increasing variety of viewpoints" doesn't mean "providing the books for an increasing variety of viewpoints" but "avoiding offending an increasing variety of viewpoints."


My cynical interpretation of this is that DB cost/benefit analysis now, a year after the last books release, shows that being called a hypocrite for keeping these erotic books on the shelf is starting to outweigh the jillions of dollars they've been making selling them.

My noncynical interpretation is . . . . .

Actually, I can't think of a noncynical interpretation. If you have one, let me know? Thanks!


Swine svithe


In regards to last night's post (and keep in mind I'm writing this, like, five minutes after finishing that one), I want to tell you all I love you and since (as a young healthy male myself) I may not be long for this world, I thought I should write a sunscreen post.

First: That guy's totally right --- living in Northern California will make you soft. Look at me. I'm dead.

Second: Don't spend so much time worrying about one natural disaster that you fail to notice the one that actually will end up killing you.

Third: Smile. You could be where I am.

Fourth: To be more specific, enjoy the marvelousness of this great gift we call mortal life. For all the harping about this being a Fallen World, it's pretty damn great. Pretty voices on the radio, pretty clouds in the sky, pretty lettuce in the taco, pretty mote in your eye. It's a pretty great world. Be grateful.

Fifth: Pray. You may be next.

last week's svithe


Swine Flu: what the epidemiologist said


Tonight we had an epidemiologist and his wife and their kids over for dinner. The epidemiologist had to sit out on our porch for the beginning of dinner because of a conference call with other public-health officials throughout the Bay Area. And he was on another long call with officials statewide earlier today.

So the swine flu was the main thrust of our dinner discussion. And it looks bad.

From the epidemiologist I get the impression that officials were caught a little offguard by this flu. And that can't be good.

Here's the thing: any flu bug that jumps over from another species into humans and then begins transferring human-to-human is a pandemic in the making. And you don't have to be an epidemiologist to see that the human-to-human thing has totally started. It's rather obvious. But it's not the Scary Avian Flu so we're okay, right?

No. Not at all.

But we were expecting the pandemic to start in Asia, not Mexico. So, uh, what shall we do? It was supposed to come from birds, not pigs. So, uh, what shall we do?

Had half as many people been diagnosed with avian flu in California as have already been diagnosed with swine flu, the procedure was to shut down all schools, minimize all travel, discourage people from getting into groups. California would be as quiet as Mexico City is tonight.

But this started in pigs. And it appeared in Mexico! This wasn't what we expected!

So let's hold off.

The epidemiologist told us that by tomorrow they should have tested enough people in the state to know how to proceed. He suspects the only options are total lockdown or the good news that it's already on its way out.

But swine flu is killing the youngest and healthiest first. Sort of like the Spanish Flu did. This doesn't really look like frontpage news for Mexico City only.

So if you're feeling sick, stay home tomorrow. If you're running to the store tonight for ice cream, get all your groceries while you're there. Of course we all hope nothing happens.

But what if this is the virus we've all been waiting for?

Let's be safe.


Parsley and parsnips (rough draft of a sonnet I'm working on)


Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips

Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips

Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips

Parsley and parsnips
Parsley and parsnips

There. Now I just need to squeeze it into iambic pentameter.

(Poetry Month is fun!)


(Going home)


Getting out of this place
going home
shutting down this computer
going home
calling it a day
going home
ready for peace
going home
done done done done done

going home.


"I don't know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens."
(a conversation between theric and e.b.white))


I'm warming up my interviewing skills for a few things I'm lining up for A Motley Vision.


Th: Well, let's start with the big questions, shall we? How about the state of the world, eh?

EB: I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.

Th: That's probably true, I suppose. I do try to turn my lights off more and I did get out to Point Reyes last week. That's some impressive nature out there. But now that we got all the Earth Day junk out of the way, let's get to writing. I have to say you've put out some good things in your time.

EB: It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.

Th: The feeling's mutual, I assure you. Next thing you know we'll be exchanging Christmas cards.

EB: To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.

Th: True, true. So how can we arrange our lives to see through those wrappings, to find our joys?

EB: We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.

Th: And for you, it's stringing words in a row.

EB: Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.

Th: Well, yeah. I was just ---

EB: Writing is hard work and bad for the health.

Th: I'm not disagreeing with you here. I was just --- hang on, are you messing with me?

EB: Whatever else an American believes or disbelieves about himself, he is absolutely sure he has a sense of humor.

Th: Touché.


Well, that's all we have time for this week, folks! But we'll have to do this again real soon!


Some of the art I consumed for the first time last week on my spring break


"The Fear" by Lily Allen
    I was listening to KALX as I am wont to do and they played a song that I like to enough to look up when I got home and not only was it someone I had heard of before, it was even someone famous. This does not often happen on KALX.


    I love this song. For many reasons, but mostly her voice, the music and the lyrics.

    I was just thinking about how my darling dear dislikes my other Lilies, Lili Haydn (whom I like a goodly amount but I once made the mistake of comparing her favorably to Tori Amos) and Lily Holbrook (whom I like some---one song in particular---but who sounds like our children when they whine according to the Lady), and wondering if Lady Steed felt the same about Lily Allen. The answer: she likes her but can't take the potty mouth. Fair enough.


    I remember watching a news report about Wicked shortly before its first San Francisco debut six years ago and thinking Brilliant! That book would make a great play! And then it became the zeitgeist which totally turned me off, but that's just the way I am.

    And of course everyone went on and on about how great it was (including my parents which proved that all the sex was excised, meaning that, yes, the book was quite changed, like folks were saying).

    One thing I heard often was how awesome and unusual the music was and then people would play be a song and . . . it would sound like pretty much every other musical ever written. Not impressed.

    Anyway, this and that and I ended up going to see it this week. On the bright side, my expectations were so low it couldn't fail but impress me, right? On the other hand, I was so deep in the low expectations, could it possibly be good enough to pull me out and make me enjoy it?

    So I tried to like it --- I really did. And here's the results:

    1. It took Glinda a long time to win me over. I now know who Kristin Chenoweth is and all I could think for so long was that this actress was being Kristin Chenoweth being Glinda. Perhaps not fair of me.

    2. Okay, what's so great about these songs? The only really memorable one is "Defy Gravity" (it was also the source of about a third of the play's total clever lines). Although I should say that "Loathing" is way better live than prerecorded.

    3. The play actually follows the book fairly closely the first half (based on my old, unreliable memories) but comes to life in the second half when it stops worrying about the book and turns into a Broadway play. The changes made to include more Glinda and add a happy ending were pretty delightful, actually.

    4. The play is still a novel's worth of story, but it doesn't have time to treat all the necessary elements well, so it's like looking at a book of snapshots. You have to fill in a lot of gaps yourself in order to understand it let alone be carries away by it. Maguire's book is a complete world. Yes, made of bits from the books and movies but complete and whole in itself. The play is not. If you haven't seen the movie, you're screwed.

    So did I like it? Yes. A qualified yes, but yes. It was okay.

    It does make me wonder if I'm missing out. For instance, I was bummed to miss Urinetown and now I wonder if a) I should because if a by-the-numbers musical is okay-likeable, I might really like something genuinely different or b) it's hopeless and I should never waste money on Broadway again.

Red Eye and Cursed Wes Craven
    Wes CravenI'm pretty sure I've never seen a Wes Craven film before so it was a bizarre coincidence to have these two films in my possession this week.

    Red Eye is pretty good. I like it. Clever: stab the guy in the throat. I recommend it.

    Cursed is an unmitigated disaster. This is why I don't consume werewolves. It was written byKevin Williamson who was supposed to be so brilliant. So yeah. Forget all about that.

Sunshine Lies by Matthew Sweet
    Sunshine Lies by Matthew SweetSweet's 100% Fun is one of the great albums of my life. And it occurred to me a little while ago that hey---I've been growing and aging these past ten years and so has Matthew Sweet! I'll bet his most recent album will be the perfect album for me just like 100% Fun was then! So I bought it with the ten bucks Donna Hatch gave me plus eight more of my own.

    Unlike 100% Fun, this album did not become an immediate favorite of mine. Sadly, Matthew Sweet doesn't sound as much like Matthew Sweet as he used to when he was making 100% Fun and Girlfriend and Blue Sky on Mars. His unique voice is hard to recognize and his style of harmony is less on display. And that's a shame.

    But after three listens Sunshine Lies is starting to grow on me. This may turn out okay.

    In other news, Grant Lee Philips has grown up the same way I have. I like Mobilize even better more than Mighty Joe Moon.

And that's the spring break that was.


Temptation and Sin: The Parable of the SweeTarts
(a svithe)

SweeTarts from Wikipedia.

Last Monday I took in our car and while waiting, I walked down to Grocery Outlet and did some shopping. One delightful thing I discovered was little bags filled with a mix of Chewy Mini SweeTarts, Chewy Sprees and Shock Tarts. Brilliant!

When I was in high school, I used to buy rolls of SweeTarts, Sprees and Shock Tarts and mix them up in an old yogurt container I hid under my clean socks and underwear. When Chewy Sprees came out, I added them to the mix. Then, whenever I needed a sugar fix, I opened my drawer and surreptitiously removed a piece of candy.


Fastforward, oh, fifteen years, to last January and our shotgun trip to Tehachapi. I was driving and I was getting sleepy so, using a trick taught by a friend during a much-too-early-in-the-morning university class, I bought a box of Red Hots and snacked on them to keep me awake.

Now in April that box is still in the door of the car, although it was down to maybe four Red Hots left. So I filled the box with the mix of Chewy Mini SweeTarts, Chewy Sprees and Shock Tarts I had just purchased, thinking they would also last four months and serve to keep me awake during long drives.


I have already almost finished them. I cannot stop eating them. I eat them nonstop as I drive. My tongue is raw.

They are too delicious.

And they are right at my fingertips.

Oh.....they are so good......

last week's svithe


(new five)


030) Madman Atomic Comics Volume 2 by Mike Allred with Laura Allred, finished April 14

    crochet madman

    Brilliant. Some of his most fascinating work yet. I'll be interviewing the Allreds for Motley Vision in the next month or so and I'm reviewing this volume for Sunstone magazine, so I'm saving most of my thunder for later.

    You can, while you are waiting, check out my brief post on Fob Comics, however.

    under a week

Karen Voss 029) For a Good Time by K. Voss, finished April 11

    What to Do if Your Date Dies

      Being on a date with someone who dies is problematic, particularly when the time and place are not of your own choosing. Gentlemen callers rarely think about how irksome it is of them to die. There they'll be--robust and lusty--and then they suddenly fall, limp and noodle-like, putting a damper on the whole relationship. Inconvenient and embarrassing, it's apt to produce a ganglia of difficulties. But there are ways of handling the situation, especially for those of taste and good breeding who are willing to learn.

    As I understand it, Karen Voss wrote a column for a BYU newspaper back around the time I abandoned Idaho for California (just over twenty years ago). I haven't been able to run her current self down online (I would have to email some Karen Vosses to do that and frankly I'm not up to it. So I'm choosing to assume she's the film professor at USC. Why not?), but I did find a couple photos of her back in the day, so here you are: Karen Voss.

    Anyway, the book contains fifteen essays (columns?), not all of which are as excellent as the one I quoted above. But that one is excellent (although I have some editorial suggestions for a second edition, if you see this Karen, hon'), the one about different styles of waking up was very good----

    But here's the thing. I don't know if it's a matter of how well these have aged or if it's that they were originally intended to appear alone and not as part of a group, but the collection doesn't hold together as well as one might hope. (Literally, also. The copy MoJo lent me? The binding glue is completely gone. It's held together with a giant paperclip. I would not recommend taking this book on a bus.)

    In 1993, Ann Edwards Cannon, as president of the Association for Mormon letters, gave a battle cry for Mormons to write funny. Frankly, I think we're still a little lacking there. So to me, the Big Deal of this book is what the heck ever happened to K. Voss? Was she hit by a car? Did she just give up? Even worse, did she grow up? If you know (or if you are her), please contact me. Tahnkee. And with that, I'll leave you with her list of words that are guaranteed to make you a dinner-party sensation. (I recommend memorizing so's you don't have too squint so much.)

    Reminder, Voss: Lists of words cannot be copyrighted. Don't don't contact me via lawyer.

    compiled by k voss

    about three months

028) The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, finished April 11
    This collection was first published in anticipation of an upcoming film, so, as you might imagine, it starts old and ends . . . old. At least compared to the age of the Big O whose book it is and whom I have been reading it with. But he loves Batman. We started the comparable Superman volume first by over a month and we're still not halfway through it.

    How about from my perspective?


    Well, at that time (according to the foreword), most of the oldest strips were not yet republishable due to degradation (my how far we've come) and frankly, I wonder if they were forced to pick some older ones they might not have otherwise. Or maybe it's just that old comics were . . . .

    Anyway, of fifty years of Batman (at that time), these where the best they could find? Most were fine, sure, but only a couple really struck me as Excellent. And since those were among the latest published, I wonder if I'm just being timeist--?

    Anyway. A great book for introducing the younguns to the Batman.

    about six months

027) Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, finished April 6
    Shortly after beginning this reread, I ran across an article in which Bradbury explains that the book isn't about government censorship at all; it's about, mm, let's call it anti-intellectualism. I continued reading with this in mind and, frankly, I'm a little surprised that anyone has ever felt the government in Fahrenheit 451 was to blame. Clearly, it is not the government, but the people who have brought this great (stupid) evil upon themselves.

    On the bright side, the book is now much more applicable to my students (Clarisse's critique of her peers felt very real and accurate to them), but my First Amendment plans have become a little irrelevant.

    Bradbury's an interesting writer. The dreamlike poetics of his prose, for instance. His work is lovely but, in the end, I don't think it is great.

    Let me rephrase.

    It's not all great. He has written great and beautiful work. 451 is rather like a gateway drug in this sense. It introduces readers to great writing, makes it palatable, so when they find greater writing they are prepared and ready and able and willing. And so, in that sense, even Bradbury's lesser works perform a great service.

    Or would, if this were a world where people read books......

    maybe three weeks

026)Elegant Enigmas: The Art of Edward Gorey by Karen Wilkin (essay) and Edward Gorey (art), finished April 5
    This is a lovely book, nice to touch and to hold. But although I suppose it would work well as an introduction to Gorey, I would never recommend it as such. (Instead, if you want a crash course, buy one of the Amphigoreys.)

    This book is really meant for those who already admire Gorey and who will enjoy an academic and trivia-fun (but mostly pointless) essay on him and his work, and who don't mind seeing Gorey's pictures removed from their context. Gorey was ultimately a storyteller (even at his most absurd and narrative-free), and cutting out images denies him his place as one of America's preeminent masters of the comics form. But this is why I do not recommend the book for neophytes --- not a reason to for the experienced to reject it.

    In fact, this book is worth owning just for the envelopes he illustrated and mailed home to his mother while he was away at college. Those are great.

    The book is the accompaniment to a travelling exhibition of Gorey's work. Most (but not all) of the included works are shown here, but I would still love to see the show. Here's to hoping it hits the Bay Area.

    about a week


the first five, 1-5
the second five, 6-10
the third five, 11-15
the fourth five, 16-20
the fifth five, 21-25


My delightful afternoon with the theologians


Today I met Lynette and a few of her other friends (one mutual) to form a Mormon panel for the class she teaches at GTU on Mormonism. I went in to this experience without any very set expectations, but whatever my expectations might have been, the experience was even better. It was, shall we say, sensational to share my faith with a group of eight adults who have openness and curiosity and respect toward my religion. No one was trying to convert anyone else, no one was playing gotcha!, no one was trying to be the smartest in the room. Truly a great way to spend the afternoon.

I highly recommend sitting on a Mormon panel before a class of theological grad students to all of you Mormons out there. Very fun. I would do it again with very little prodding.

Me on Motley Vision


I am now official on Motley Vision rather than an occasional submitter. In light of my newness, my first post outlines some of my (ever-changing) attitudes toward the Mormon Arts.

Do stop by.


Easte Svithe 2009


Segullah keeps stealing my ideas. But in honor of the season, I will not get irate.

    We've decided to do eggs and bunnies on Saturday (to keep them away from Sunday) and so this morning I slipped into the boys' room while Lady Steed was "in the can" to keep them in their room until it was time.

    The Big O asked why.

    So I made up this, that it was representative of Jesus and the Resurrection and because of him we all will. But we have to wait for his say-so.

    You're welcome to use that if you find yourself in an Eastery pinch.

    Every opportunity, parents, is a teaching opportunity.

    Although I'll give you 5:1 he doesn't remember that anymore after the excitement of the egg hunt and 6000ccs of sugar. Alas.

last week's svithe


Info on the 99¢ Kindle version of Plain and Precious Parts


I have no idea what sort of competition we have in these categories, but here is this:

For the record, I still don't see this book as a parody. Nothing against parodies, I just don't see that as an accurate descriptor for The Fob Bible.

(Also: apologies for Blogger's blurring things. Should have uploaded this to Photobucket....)


Plain and Precious Parts
(a taste of the Fob Bible)

The Fob Bible.

On June 1, the long heralded, much slaved upon Fob Bible will be available for purchase as a striking hardbound volume.

But, as of today, you can read selections of The Fob Bible for free. (The one exception being the Kindle edition, which'll cost you a whopping 99¢.)

There are several nonKindleandthusfree options available. First, the online edition. Also, several versions for your ebook reader (EPUB, HTML, IMP, LIT, LRF, MOBI/PRC, PDF). The first review is in for the LIT version and the reviewer calls it "absolutely gorgeous!"

So taste the forbidden fruit today and ready yourself to be cast out of the garden on June 1, 2009.

Immediately following this comment, I'm going back to not talking about it anymore


It occurred to me yesterday during new Elder Anderson's talk what the "real" problem has been with Prop 8. I thought my muteness on this topic would last longer than five months, but this is, I think, notable enough to break my silence.

Not in my current ward, let me be clear, but in other areas of the state among otherwise good members of the Church, I saw something ugly appear in the wake of Prop 8. It was as if Prop 8 was taken as an excuse to cease thinking about charity and love for all our spiritual siblings, and to switch instead into the Natural Man vices of bigotry and fear and hatred. Much of the passion I saw against Prop 8 was not based in love for our fellow man (as described in a later talk by Elder Dallin H Oaks), but in unkind feelings toward The Other. Sometimes expressed in not very Christian ways. Even in testimony meeting.

Having realized this, I'm now prone to think that further attempts to move in this political arena may result in more damage to the souls of those within the Church than any good within or without.

Of course, I don't have the perspective of a watchman on the tower, but from the ground, I worry about the fruit that seems to be growing. I'm not making any proposals, just observations. That is all.






With my brother in town, we rigged his laptop up in the livin room to watch conference. Then we had no sound. So we used Lady Steed's instead. Which means I'm typing on mine. Which means certain letters may not appear (or may overappear). Readability may be affected.

Elder Robert Hales
    Debt. I'm pretty sure they told us so.

    The three most loving words: I love you.
    The four most caring words: We can't afford it.

    We can learn more from spousal communications how be become provident.

    Tithes are the foundation of provident living.
    Fast offerings (FO) ---
    Family councils re: resources.

    Delayed gratification.

    Whence cometh eternal joy?

    Feast upon that which perisheth not.

    The appetite to possess worldly things can only be overcome with

Sister Unknown
    (time spent fixing the letter J --- hopefully there will be no more strings of 20 to erase.....)

    my examples of respect, as a parent

    respect for others and love of God are close together

    I'm reverent for reverence is love.
    And so is the teaching thereof.

    “to make good internet choices”

    Reverence Invites Revelation

    titles as route to respect and reverence

    turn off your stupid cellphone

    working on reverence on a ward level

Elder Somebody
    Wait. What? I thought he was talking to the young women. And now it's the young men. I don't think I was listening closely enough....

    His wife is a student of successful marriage principles. Lucky guy.

    Sometimes she gives him books saying he only needs to read the underlined parts.

    Monson: The teaching of fundamentals is urgent.

    “use inspired questions”
    (examples in talk for us to look up later)

    quorum combining should be temporary

    (All three talks, so far, seem very developed-nations-with-large-Mormon-populations-specific)

    do homework to understand our duty

Elder AF Packard
    Holy Crap! They already called the new apostle? I thought that happened during the afternoon! Who's Elder Anderson? Geez!

    Sorry. I had to go set up a tent. Missed this talk entirely.

    But we did look up Elder Anderson on LDS Newsroom. Another businessman, from Idaho My brother knows him and says, also, “He's kind of a dork.”

Elder D Todd Christofferson
    Smiling through Destruction

    spiritual optimism



    new and everlasting covenant is John 3:16

    making covenants---how does it help us smile through hardships?

    knowing we are aligned with God gives us strength

    Paul's find of strength through weakness

    bestowal of divine power --- the ultimate in strength-through-covenants

    gifts of the spirit

    The Holy Ghost that testifies meaningfully when I testify inasmuch as I can

    Jesus + You

    through our covenants we can become a powerful instrument for good

President Henry B Eyring
    we all must deal with adversity

    feelings of 'unfairness'

    goodtimes can seem good and natural; so their passing can feel unjust

    distress can shake faith
    doubt can infect a generation
    then grow and spread
    and turn them against God
    to no faith in a god at all

    Heavenly Father and the Savior live and love all humanity

    he took upon him all that he might now how to succor his people according to their infirmities

    obedience when it is hard to do

    the Lord always suits the relief to those in need to purify them
    the inspiration to one of these may to do something enormously difficult

    widows and widowers

    even while in need we can bless those in greater need
    and never assume you are the one with the greater need
    because that is purely a matter of perspective
    so, what, are you a whiner?

    the atonement makes possible our being purified


Pr Uchtdorf takes over for Pr Monson on conducting duties


Accidental speaker announcement

Auditory stuff


Statistics * 2818 stakes * 348 mission * 622 districts * wards/branches 28109 * mem 13508509 converts 265593 * missionaries 52494 * new temples 4 * temples 128 * Daniel Ludlow died last year

Elder MR Ballard
    You're going to text your Conference talk? I thought you had to give that in the Conference Center?

    Prediction: this is the Edsel story

    Yes! I'm so smart!

    The lesson? When willing to listen and learn, some of lifes most important lessons come from our elders (lowercase e).

    interns shadow seasoned veterans
    rookies in professional sports sit on the bench
    new missionaries work with a senior companion

    "triggering things out"

    the fact that things come from old men past and present does not make them less valuable

    those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it etc etc etc (dooooom)

    you don't have to be LDS or even religious to see the patterns of history recorded in the Old Testament (plug: Fob Bible will soon be available) or the Book of Mormon

    the collapse of morality bringing disaster upon the people

    even in the relatively short time covered in the New Testament we see the pattern again and call it the Great Apostacy (plus a shoutout to midevielists)

    these things happen not when God turns his back on us, but when we his children turn our backs on Him

    our Restoration is like the totally greatest restoration ever --- we have science too --- science is awesome --- but public decency, whoo, the ways of God are taking a beating in the marketplace of ideas and Right and Wrong are concepts unpopular

    standing up for unpopular ideas is unpopular

    See the historical pattern?

    the voice of the Lord is clear and unmistakable

    agency: choice is ours:
    ignore the past and suffer?
    or, how much better, to follow the faithful examples of the followers of Christ

    That was confusing. He said "You don't have to be a Laman or a Lemeul." but I thought he was saying "You don't have to be a layman..." which I found odd as we do, in fact, have lay clergy and expect people to serve when asked. So, you know. Seemed weird. But he didn't actually say that, so there you go.

    how to take your spirituality to the next level
    no new technology for that
    the process is the same: obedience, prayer, service, scriptures.....
    which is why the lessons of the past are still important: they lead us to peace and happiness in the future

Elder QL Cook
    This mortal life can constitute a dangerous journey but the destination is truly dangerous.

    Stumbling blocks to faith
    The house of faith is big enough for everyone

    Dickens on ship with a bunch of Mormons, expecting scum. But they weren't! What the heck! They are, in their degree, the pick and flower of England!

    MSM hates, those looking close love. How it is to be a Mormon.

    We are seen favorably when we live the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    Reports often untrue unfair and harsh (not just to Mormons, but Christianity generally)

    what about the honorable open to faith but confused by bad doctrines?


    reconciling the doctrines of a loving god and the damnation of most of hunanity

    "'sometimes the found fault with me for wanting a more liberal salvation'" ---phineas

    Tennyson: nothing walks with endless feet, not one life shall be destroyed, when God shall make the pile complete

    How much better the Plan of Salvation actually is!

    This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

    notwithstanding the significance of our doctrinal differences, we refrain from criticizing other religions

    interview with Nigerian member --- his first favorable impression was that no one preached that members of other faiths were going to hell

    our goal is not just salvation for ourselves but for others as well

    the sublime destination --- not afraid of the arduous journey

    Come Come Ye Saints: and should we die before our journey's through, happy day, all is well

Elder Missedit
    more than merely recognizing faith as a gospel principle

    true faith is in Jesus Christ

    I totally recognize this guy's voice....

    do your children know that you know

    the greater the obedience, the greater the endowment of faith

    "the spiritual equivalent of a chemical reaction"

    personal righteousness is a choice

    a quality of faith as we focus, seen and felt in a valiant missionary etc

    the six destructive Ds - doubt (of fear) (inconsistent with divine identity) - discouragement - despair - distraction (a bad habit) - d - disappointment - a lack of scipline - discobedience - disbelief (to be past feeling) - (is this 6?)

    challenging times require greater spiritual power


    hope smiling brightly before us

Elder Hasanaccent
    (regularity of familial distractions on the rise)

    not how you die but how you live

    the lord hath given and the lord hath taken away blessed be the name of the lord

    which suffering caused me even god the greatest of all....

    the pavilion of thy hiding place....

    HWH: our faith centered on C? Then nothing can go permanently wrong.

    rains came down, floods came up
    ...upon BOTH houses

    faith prepares us to face adversity more confidently

Elder RG Scott
    because I love you I will speak heart-to-heart and without mincing words

    When a temple is close by, small things can then get in the way. Don't let them. You would not if you lived a week away.

    participate in all the different ordinances available

    What is more important? What can provide greater impact or joy? What better way to get some more happiness as a couple?

    Be worthy or prepare to be worthy of participation.

    A sealing ordinance is not eternal until sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Both must want it and be worthy.

    also: think about those poor dead folk

    What a oy it is to be able to participate in the work of the Temple!

    many were the blessings we received in the house of the lord permitting us comfort and oy in our afflictions
    without it would have been like walking into the jaws of death

    his wife died 14 years ago
    not to ask why, but to ask what can be learnt

    two dead babies
    born in the covenant

    when we keep the temple covenants we have made, then come what may we have to reason to feel despondant

    What a blessing.

    this is the work of the Lord
    Jesus Christ lives
    This is my witness.

Elder RM Nelson
    A heart surgeon to follow a heart-surgery story.

    the Lord's Prayer as model

    daily bread - food, religion (the Bread of Life)

    Amen = truly, verily

    (alphabetizing fruit)

    we should pray for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, thus it becomes a vital force for good in our lives

    such a thing as overdoing - fasting and praying till you die is no sign of wisdom

    the Lord will accept that which is enough

    (family debate: what is 'enough', how much variance within the spectrum of 'enough'?)


Ph2009 01

Ph2009 02

Ph2009 03

Ph2009 04

Ph2009 05

Ph2009 06

Ph2009 07


President DF Uchtdorf
    Today: Palm Sunday: Entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem as per prophecy

    mistaking the messiah

    The Good News

    hunger for meaning and purpose in life

    numerous new answers available in this world for the burning questions of our souls

    This is endemic. Really. I'm reminded of the common need to be newly in love, constant seeking leads to further divorce. And a failure to find real ansewrs to life's important Qs. Same disease, two different and horrible symptoms.

    recognition of imperfections in our lives
    desires to be cleansed of the depressin burdens of sin

    Baptism: convenant to take on the name of Jesus Christ and walk in his paths

    Holy Ghost

    these things take time, folks

    contant daily application of principles

    not like the farmer who plants corn in the morning and expects a crop in the afternoon

    Alma's seed

    setting foot upon the path of discipleship
    blessing immediately BEGIN to come

    knowing the seed is good is not enough --- we must then nourish it

    walking the path of discipleship indicates to OURSELVES that we're serious about this Jesus stuff

    discipleship is not a spectatorsport

    ours is not a secondhand religion - we need it firsthand

    don't even have to be well mannered to take that first step! (phew)

    Have Fath
    Seek and Ye Shall Find
    Knock and the door shall be opened

    be an active participant in ward/branch

    be on in marriage/family

    have a temple recommend and use it

    speak in earnest prayer

    be grateful for the Restoration

    embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ

    mistakes do not keep us from the Lord unless we choose to use them as an excuse
    we have ALL fallen short of the glory of God

    Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Father in Heaven loves us, even with all our flaws ... he refines us for the eternities(JBWIRLTHLIN)

    wherever you are now, come now to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ

    it is never too late

    to those who feel inadequate or that they cannot make up the time they've lost, bollocks --- we need YOU and YOUR skills NOW

    a living prophet authorized by the Lord Jesus Christ

    Jesus lives
    redeemed of the world
    the promised Messiah
    he will fight our battles
    he is our hope, our salvatin, the way

Elder Neil L Anderson
    The traditional opening for a new apostle.

    absolute certainty through the gift of the Holy Ghost: Jesus is the Christ

    testimony of the prophet

    here he asks for my brother's forgiveness and forbearance

    had to clarify that --- I thought he said "the Lord will shave the back" --- ends up he said "The Lord will shape the back to bear the burden"

    quote Emily Dickinson and the Lord will not let you forget that you are nobody

    He married an angel!!!
    Trying to become what she already thought he was
    (ends up angels are good marks for a con)

    kids and grandkids

    (I wonder if there's a template for these first-apostle-talk talks)

    implication: he didn't look at the FP or the 12 as examples before becoming a 70 (lesson: precision in speech is important)

    too sacred to recount

    the mantle or Wirthlin

    the keeping covenants in these days of destiny will be a badge of honor throughout eternity

    far more pioneers alive today than ever before (this is very true and worthy of note)

    our Father loves all his children
    we are not alone in sacrificing for a greater cause
    but we must not shrink from what is uniquely ours in the restored gospel of Chirst

Elder Steven (Stephen?) E Snow
    how to prepare for change:

    follow the prophets

    (missed two, sorry)

    be of good cheer

    (sorry---Elder Anderson got me to thinking and I was writing a secondary post I'm tentatively planning to publish tomorrow)

    pioneer story, 1847 (one of those pioneers)

    the annoyance of mission calls

    I looked and spit and took off my hat and scratched my dead and said Alright

Sister Barbara Thompson
    The Time Is Far Spent (love that song)

    His arm is sufficient


    strengthen our families and homes

    the look of our families varies greatly

    Hold to the rod!

    pray for the bishop

    praying in faith

    we will all be poor in some way and need the help of another -- are we not all beggars?

    vital that we serve each other

    huge tree! HUGE!!!!!

    sheez....I don't have a chainsaw....

    must be fixed in our purpose to grow and improve and increase

    screw satan

Elder JR Holland
    Easter Season Message
    for everyone but especially for those alone, who feel alone, or feel abandoned
    viz all of us at various times in our lives

    the Savior's solitary task

    abandoned by the crowds
    condemned improperly
    punished unrighteously

    exchanged for Barrabas, an ungodly 'son of the father'

    but what about Judas?
    wrenching to think that one of his special witnesses who sat at his feet and watched him heal could betray him for thirty pieces of silver

    his friends asleep

    Peter denying

    the women stayed close, but, essentially, he took this journey alone

    the most difficult, final moment of divine withdrawal
    was he intellectually and physically prepared, but not quite emotionally?

    He DID please His Father PERFECTLY

    probably he was never closer to his son than in the final moments, but, to complete the task, he did briefly withdraw
    that this perfect Son who had never done wrong could now how the rest of us feel when we commit such sins that the Atonement could be fulfilled when he knew what it was like to die spiritually as well as physically --- to be totally, obectively alone

    but Jesus pressed on

    against all odds and with none to help or uphold him
    conquered death
    brought joyous redemtion from sin
    through faith in the Father to whom he commited his spirit

    we must not reenact this acts of betrayal
    we must not leave him alone again

    let's declare ourselves to be better disciples, even when the path is lonely, whether times are good or bad

    at this Easter week let us stand with Jesus Christ in all times and all places, even unto death, even as he did

President Monson
    bad times, financially, morally; wars and disasters

    easy to be cynical or fearful
    IF! we focus on the bad

    today instead let's focus on our members of the Church

    not the Spirit of fear but of Power and Love and a Sound Mind

    "examples of numerous individuals"
    just three, today

    Condies travel some Scotland on a crummy boat
    in the world you shall have tribulation but fear not: I am not of the world

    light became dark
    depressed, dispondant
    then the gospel came
    I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life

    the end of an idyllic life in eastern Prussia
    1000mile+ walk to a new, forced home
    begun in late summer without food or money, only a testimony in the restored gospel and her four children
    temperatures dropped below freezing
    baby in her arms, oldest pulls wagone, feet wrapped in burlap
    snows arrive
    three-year-old daughter dies
    buried with a tablespoon in the frozen ground
    seven-year-old son dies
    her only shovel the tablespoon
    five-year-old son buried
    baby dies in her arm
    spoon gone
    digs in the frozen earth with her bare hands
    the temptation, in heartbreak, of suicide
    then, "Get down on your knees and pray"
    she ignores till she can't anymore
    she kneels and prays with previously unknown fervency
    nothing left but my faith in thee
    because your Son broke the chains of death, we will be together
    so although I do not wish to live, I will, that we may
    and thus she came to know that God lives
    and that she would be reunited with all she had lost

    the gospel will sustain us as we keep the commandments
    there will be nothing in the world that can defeat us

    Fear not
    Be of good cheer

    Heaven's blessings await us


Elder Dallin H Oaks
    the savior gave himself in selfless service and asks the same of us

    and so we do, to a large degree

    but this is not easy, to prioritize others over ourselves

    forget yourself

    not how many positions did you hold but how many people did you help?
    ----judgement day

    caring for families

    the mormon ability to unite in cooperative efforts

    What in the world could the explanation be???

    beware of prioritizing the opinions of the world

    sacrifice is out of fashion

    (I'm on ball-retrieval duty for the Large S which is minimizing my notetaking---it's a suckerball and his throwing it onto the window where it gets stuck)

    beware of entitlement

    selfishness/greed the source of our current financial difficulties

    whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap

    wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor
    we cannot do great things, only small things with great love
    ---mother theresa

    selfcenteredness retards spiritual growth

    going to church in order to think of others, not for myself (not to recharge me, but to recharge others)

    we are more filled by what we give, not what we get

Elder Bednar
    serving in the temple expands one's vision

    moving the temple to the center of our lives

    shepherding to the house of the lord

    (putting S down for a nap)

    from baptism to the temple, where the sheaves are gathered

    (back from S and eating a donut, not on the carpet, where this laptop is)
    (but he's been saying good things, drawing a line from baptism to the temple where we more fully take on the Lord's name)
    (definitely one to read again)

    protection available through temple covenants
    difference between temple checkboxers and dedicated temple worshippers

    raging from the adversary, from without and within

    blessings for time and eternity

    let the covenant you made with the lord burn in your heart like a flame unquenchable

    we do now and will yet face great challenges to the work of the Lord

    today temples dot the earth as places of sacred convenants and refuge

    the fire of the convenant will burn in all our hearts

Elder Stevenson
    Look, Grandpa. You are never lost when you can see the temple.

    only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness

    we can make our homes A house of the Lord

    a virtual tour of our home, using our spiritual eyes
    imagine walking in --- what do you see, what do you feel?
    personal gospel study space
    room for home improvement

    the building of spiritual mountains

    understanding of temple/family will draw you to family/temple

Elder Jose? Something?
    God's given us gifts necessary to help us navigate our lives to eternal goals

    (offtopic: I just realized that, with the exception of dedications, we never get to hear the prophet pray)

    what inspires us to do good comes from God

    GPS as extended metaphor --- brilliant, I can't believe I've never heard this before

Elder SomethingbutIwasstillworkingonthelastone
    search these commandments for they are true and faithful

    whether by mine own voice or one of my servants it is the same

    you may not like what the leadership says, but imagine it comes from the mouth of the Lord himself that He will disperse the darkness

    the authority of prophets

Elder L Tom Perry
    hey! I've driven along University Avenue near the mouth of Provo Canyon!

    lost sheep (literally)

    where is the shepherd? (was there a shepherd?)

    there is no substitute for a member-oriented missinoary program

    member missionaries are the shepherds

    stats on where we at

    memorized D&C4 . . . it's still in me somewhere. with prompting I can get through it

    told thrice to open our mouths


    seeking after the lost sheep

President Thomas S Monson
    good things are good

    bad things are bad

    choose you this day whom you will serve....

    temples - go often - we'll keep building 'em

    there we will find peace and increased resolve

    (it occurs to me that if we were as generous without expectation of recompense to the living as we are to the dead, things would be much different)

    prophetic blessing



On Thutopia:

On The Weekly Svithe:

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


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


Blankittyblankin Wordpress


I have two Wordpress sites I am now intimately connected with and I have to say that I can't stand Wordpress. It won't follow the code I ask it to follow, nothing is in a sensible location, they overcomplicated the simple and oversimplify the complicated.

Wordpress will make me crazy.

Fifth Five Books of 2009

the fifth five of 2009

025) Owly: A Time to be Brave by Andy Runton, finished April 1
    Too cute for its own good.

    like five minutes

024) Blue Beetle: Endgame by John Rogers and Rafaele Albuquerque, finished March 29
    Excellent. This may be the best mainstream, action, superhero comic I've ever read. It was genuinely exciting and emotionally involving and it even made me tear up. The moment where Jaime said Blue Beetles don't need superpowers, for instance, and some of the family moments. Then the nearly-all-in-Spanish issue was great too, even for a gringo like me. The postscripted translation was nice but not necessary.

    HOWEVER. If I have attracted your interest and you're now thinking "Okay. This is the one I will read." you are making a mistake. This book will not work fully without having read the first three first.

    Also: don't miss my Fobcomics post on Blue Beetle.

    three days

023) Blue Beetle: Reach for the Stars by Rogers, Torres, Albuqerque; finished March 26
    Excepting occasional minor missteps, this series just keeps getting better and better.

    two days

022) The Complete Peanuts 1967-1968 by Charles M. Schulz, finished March 25
    I love every one of these volumes. What more can I need from this life? And Schulz is a genius. Who else could make a handwritten "Now, what kind of question is that?" a night-after-night bellylaugh?

    about three months

021) Blue Beetle: Road Trip by various, finished March 25
    He's great. I've said more here.

    a week or so maybe two



You can now read “Saturday’s Werewolf” with your very own eyeballs


Here you are.

On the successful manufactory of aprilfoolsery


Thutopia is an interesting place. We produce a lot of nonsense here, as well as the occasional bit of thoughtfulness. But one thing we don't do is lie. With the exception of one special day a year. And successfully pulling this off is getting harder and harder every year.

In the good old days, even the most respected newspapers would pull massive hoaxes on April First (I'm sorry to report, however, that returning to a sense of play will not stop the coming Newspaper Apocalypse); these days? not so much. NPR always comes up with something dandy (yesterday: whale farming) and Google was in top form yesterday with CADIE.

That said, the enforced humor culture of the web is bringing back April's second-most sublime holiday back with such force that many people naturally assume any and every thing that first appears on April One must be a lie.

On top of that, there's the fact that many people have come to expect something from me this time of year. Last year some readers were disappointed that I added "Thapril fools" to the comments. They wanted to make fun of those who fell for it. (This is bad --- management.)

Which is funny, because as far as I know, no one has yet found the jokes in 2007's entry and 2006 is some time ago now.

So. With things being even more challenging, how does one craft a successful gag? Especially with my strict criteria of doing it on the proper day? I don't know, but here's what I tried this year:

1. Set it up days in advance.
    I didn't know what the story was going to be yet, but I hinted at it on Monday. But that required promising the gag on Tuesday, not Wednesday, and just-didn't-get-around-to-it-on-March-31 would have been muy suspicious. So when I learned WIZ was publishing my poem on Tuesday, that was a bit of deus ex machima for the prankster.

2. Start with the truth.
    The first eleven paragraphs are 100% true except the bit about me being sorry in the first paragraph. Everything else is gospel truth.

3. Provide corroborating witnesses.
    In my first Sunstone post I made a list of fellow bloggers and other respectables who were there. I did have to excuse them from witnessing the salient parts of my story and explain why they didn't know about it, but that was easier.

    I then also provided fake witnesses who are, I must admit, real people. I would like to apologize to Sunstone's Mary Ellen Robertson and Stepehen Carter for involving them.

4. Scatter more truth in with the lies.
    Even the lie-part of yesterday's post had large quantities of truth, such as the common points Stephenie Meyer and I share. (Here's another: good Mormon kids who write horror. I'll bet she's as surprised by it as I am. And another:)

5. Believable details.
    The girl may be a total fabrication, but she needs to read real. When I describe her, the details need to be believable and image forming. And since the "horrifying" part of this story is its sexual element, I need to introduce that as well, without pushing it over the top. This was hard, by the way.

6. Same old same old.
    Even though this story is overthetop and welllll out of my normal story matter, my tone and voice and style need to play EXACTLY how I usually tell a story. If they way I tell this abnormal story is abnormal to match the story, no chance of success. For this particular tale, that means the introduction of embarrassment and hesitation balanced with my usual fatalism when I tell potentially embarrassing stories (eg, tonsil tales).

So those are the basics. And good advice for other types of fiction-telling as well.

I do have a question for people.

Every year I have done this, I have indicated that the joke is a joke as part of the post. This year, with invisible text.

It occurred to me this morning that that text may NOT have been invisible for the hordes of you using readers. Was it?

And--finally--thank you all for being good sports. I know this post worked at least partially well because Mr Fob didn't realize it was a joke near the end and Lady Steed was upset at me for forgetting that I had NOT told her this story until she read the comments.

And, after your comments, I really really really do wish I had the video to show you. Because I would totally post it.


That much delayed Sunstone story, the horrifying one that I hope my students don’t hear


Sorry that I didn't post this yesterday. But hey! Fresh poetry should always be moved to the first place in line!

In order to understand this story you need to understand a bit more about my relationship with Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight books.

For a long time my emotions were mostly guided by mystification that books so widely considered to be poorly written could have been fasttracked to publication and zeitgeist. The usual result of such mystification is irritation, irritation that I can't catch a break when schmucks are making it hand over fist.

Then I read this by Mahonri Stewart and I realized that no matter the quality of Stephenie's writing (may I call her Stephenie?) she was a person and deserved kindness.

With this new prism of understanding, I began reading interviews with her and I have developed a great empathy for her. I can't say that we would be close friends but I do think I would like her very much should we ever meet.

Concurrent with this, I read Twilight and I'm sorry to say I didn't like it lots and lots. The baseball scene was terrific and it had some other high points, but overall it's kind of a morass. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

I was afraid this might happen, which was why I had waited so long to finally pick it up and read. I wanted to look at Meyer as a fellow LDS fictionist, untainted by formed opinions of her work that, I was afraid, would be bad. But I wanted to write something for Reading Until Dawn so I did. And all my worst fears came true.

Well, no. Not all my worst fears. Stephenie may not be a master of prose, but she has great ideas. Army of evil undead infants? Best idea ever? May be.

As I said at Sunstone in response to someone's question (and here we get closer to the story--sorry this is taking so long), as Anthony Trollope said, "Success is the necessary misfortune of life, but it is only to the very unfortunate that it comes early."

I'm afraid this may be where Stephenie finds herself. She has so much potential as a writer, but her first book was published nearly editfree and she's since become such a cashcow it's hard to believe anyone will ever edit her again. Or that they would take her seriously even if she asked them too. (Aside to Stephenie: I would be happy to give you serious, honest and copious criticism for your next book. You can even pay me if you like.) And so I fear she will continue to write but that her improvement will only be what she can provide to herself, which is necessarily less than how quickly one can improve with the help of a loving teacher.

This was essentially the comment I made.

After my session, a young woman came up to me. She had been sitting in the back corner and, although attentive, had not had questions after the presentations. (Perhaps because most questioners felt the need to preface their remarks with, "I've never read the books but..."?)

She introduced herself (I won't mention her name for what will soon be obvious reasons) and told me that she was not Mormon, but her father teaches a class on LDS history at Stanford and had payed to attend the conference, but was suddenly unable to attend due to a family emergency. (I'm hoping this is vague enough to prevent anyone solving the mystery of identity. I did change one fact to make it a little trickier.) Anyway, he asked if she wanted to take his place. She said no but looked at the schedule and decided to drive over to Cupertino for my event because she's a huge Twihard (her preferred term; don't blame me, you Twilighters out there). And Stanford, apparently, doesn't offer many academic papers on the subject.

Anyway, she was more interested in what my respondent had to say (specifically the comparisons between Stephenie Meyer and Joseph Smith which were, I have to say, quite interesting), at least at first, but then she went into my Trollope quote and my estimation of Stephenie's current writing chops.

I was worried that she might want to lambaste me for this estimation, but she was quite forgiving of my heresy. She wanted to talk more and as I wasn't totally excited about the following sections I said okay and we went out to the hotel lobby to chat.

We got into a conversation and her questions led me to talk about the similarities Stephenie and I share:
    We were both raised Mormon.
    We're both active Mormons today.
    We both attended BYU.
    We're almost the same age.
    We were both married while attending BYU.
    We are both writers of fiction.
    She lives in Phoenix and I love Flagstaff.
And so on. I actually came up with an amazingly long list, once I got going. To be honest, I was not being a very good conversationalist at this point. I was just rambling, placing one random fact next to another and enjoying how they then seemed to suggest significance.

Suddenly I realized we were silent and I glanced over to her. She had leaned quite a ways forward, the neck of her shirt drooping in a manner that For the Strength of Youth would certainly not a approve of. Her eyes were wide, the pupil and iris a black hole that was a little unsettling.

"And you're going to read her next manuscript?"

And I with, my casual and regular disregard for the truth answered, "Oh, sure, undoubtedly. You want me to email you a copy?"

Which was not really the correct thing to say, as it ends up. I don't know what people say about Stanford girls, but you can use this as a datapoint.

This is a little hard to say because it's weeeell outside my everyday experience, but she leapt out of her chair and into my lap and "kissed" my chin. I say kissed in quotes because I can't imagine this is exactly what she had in mind. Nor, indeed, what Hilton had in mind when they bought this particular armchair because it tips back way to easily. We fell backwards onto the rug and my paper's clip popped off and the papers went flying through the room. About half of them landed in the fountain (which is why, Cchrissyy, I couldn't show it to you). It took me a second to process having a twenty-year-old girl sitting on my chest, but I guess the young process things faster because she was gone before I started to stand up. One of the hotel workers helped me stand and gather what was left of my paper and clip it back together.

And this is why I was late to the Developing Personal Spirituality session.

This story, of itself, is bizarro and hard to make sense of (I didn't even tell Lady Steed until Sunday night), but if it had stopped there it would not be horrifying.

What makes it horrifying is the email I received Monday morning from Mary Ellen of Sunstone when I was halfway through writing Monday's post on the symposium.

You'll recall I mentioned that Sunstone will be putting some clips up on YouTube. I was under the impression that those clips would be exclusively from the This I Believe portion, but no. The camera guy also took a bit of footage here and there from other sessions (not mine) and some candid footage of people milling about.

He arrived late coming back from lunch and, "as fate would have it", was testing some settings by recording the lobby before rejoining the Sunstone throngs.

I'm sure you see where this is going.

So Mary Ellen asked me if I would mind them including the footage of the girl leaping upon me and, as she phrased it, "biting [my] face before sitting on it."

In my normal kneejerk First Amendmenty way I said, okay, but can I see it first? She immediately wrote back and said okay.

Then I thought better and called Lady Steed, then wrote Mary Ellen back to change my mind. But I have not heard back. (Unless you include the email with a video attached showing what appears to be the opening scene in a slapstick porno starring yours truly.)

So, for the record, I want to make this absolutely clear: I DO NOT, no matter what the evidence may suggest, encourage twenty-year-old coeds with low-cut shirts and no obvious bra to bite [my] face before sitting on it.

I hope that, when rumors about me begin to surface, you will correct them.

Thank you.