"17 Facts About Angels"


Hooray for me.

I received an honorable mention from the Irreantum Fiction Contest, and two judges have contacted me saying I made judges cry. (Frankly, I think making Angela Hallstrom cry is a good life goal. So let's add that to my list and then check it off.)


I like James Goldberg and I think he's an incredible writer. But the rules of engagement require that I now treat him as an enemy.


My friend Karen Rosenbaum picked up some prize money as well. I first met her when she edited my story "The Widower" for Dialogue. I've since moved into her ward which, I suspect, makes our ward the best represented in the Irreantum contest. Berkeley Ward pride! Yay!


See the full list of winners here.


Classic Svithes: Eccelsiastical Svithery



As you may have noticed, I have not been on top of my weekly svithing lately. In order to resolve this issue, I plan on dipping into the archives and bringing back svithes you a) probably haven't read and b) even if you did read it, you don't remember it. This week I'm bringing back the first classical svithe.

This svithe is apropos because today in Sunday School we discussed Ecclesiastes which, as you should know if you do not already, is awesome.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Eccelsiastical Svithery


Someday I will go through the book of Ecclesiastes and write a long, long essay--maybe even a short book--on why I love it so much. Someday is not today, but I feel like touching briefly on its themes so I'm going to go ahead and do just that. For I am a wild-eyed libertarian.

What drives me crazy is how people dismiss Ecclesiastes as a bunch of pessimistic drudgery. Not so! First of all, people who say that don't really mean pessimism at all--they mean fatalism. Like here:
    . . . and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.
Trees fall.

Where they fall, there they are.

This is not pessimism. And it's not precisely fatalism either. If anything, it's kind of taoey. The message here is relax. Don't worry about things you can't control. The tree fell? So what? The tree fell and there it is. Move on. Only worry about what you can control.

Following immediately after Proverbs as it does, with all its maxims of be good be strong be able do your duty do your best do more et cetera, Ecclesiastes is a breath of fresh air. The Preacher is not relieving the Bible-reader of any responsibility, but he is giving permission not to despair when things don't turn out just right. Yeah, you should follow the good advice in Proverbs, but you know what? Even when you do,
    . . . the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
And that's frustrating. If I work the hardest, shouldn't I get the heftiest reward?

Sure you should. But it doesn't mean you will. And that's why the Preacher is always going on and on about vanity and death. Not because he's depressed or "pessimistic"--but to remind us that placing all our eggs in the basket of brilliant mortal success is nuts. Because we can't control that success.

What can we control, then? Is anything we do of worth? If I can work all my life and die a pauper, what's the point?
    Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment . . . .
In other words, the point is to forget about these short term rewards--what Jesus terms "that which moth doth corrupt and which thieves can break through and steal"--and let's just do the best we can and stop worrying so much about consequences. After all,So forget about the wind and the clouds and just do what you can.

That's not pessimism. That's a relaxed realism and I dig it.
    Rejoice . . . and let thy heart cheer thee . . . walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh . . . . Remember now thy Creator . . . .
And he will remember thee.

original "last week's svithe"

last week's svithe


Demonstration of The Letter L


Luh luh luh lollipop.
Luh luh luh lasagna.
Luh luh luh languid.
Luh luh luh leisurely.
Luh luh luh laughable.
Luh luh luh lethargic.
Luh luh luh lackadaisacal.
Luh luh luh Lenny.

El el el Paso.
El el el Elah Elahin.
El el el The El.
El el el Legos.
El el el Legolas
El el el Letter L.


Seventh Five Books Finished in 2010


035) Utah: Sex and Travel Guide by Calvin Grondahl, finished August 10

I'm disappointed by this little collection of panel cartoons. Most of the stuff could be transplanted to any other locale and much of the rest to most any other locale. Plus, so many divorce jokes! Why so many divorce jokes? And not particularly funny divorce jokes, but bitter angry divorce jokes.

Which is not to say that this book doens't have its laughs. And Lady Steed, who was just flipping through it, likes it much more than I do. So there's that.

not long


034) E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon, finished August 9

I read the introduction to this book, set it aside for a few months then took it with me to Comic-Con where I read all but the final tale --- mostly while homeless.

The book is great. It offers one of the world's few good unicorn stories (they do exist!), some gay aliens (they do exist!) and a dizzying variety of voices and tones.

I finally have, after a year+'s hiatus, returned to read the last story and the timing is tremendous. It provided the sword to cut through the Gordian Knot for a project I'm currently working on.

Thank you, Mr Sturgeon!

If you're looking for genre short stories which prove genre's worth, this is a good place to start.

about sixteen months


033) The Complete Peanuts, 1971 to 1972 by Charles M. Schulz, finished August 6

Holy moly! What a cliffhanger!

Sorry, but this volume ended in the middle of the story, and the next volume's sitting there waiting for me on that shelf right over there, so I'm going to go grab it if you don't mind.


about five months


032) I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, finished August 6

The second book finished in Experiment Kindle (and another pdf, this one very difficult to read) is also the most riveting book I've ever read.

(It's also a complete ripoff of me. Take one part "Happy St. Patrick's Day" and two parts my aborted reluctant teenage sociopath and you've got IANASK.)

I haven't had this much fun in a book for a while, and I can't remember the last time I turned pages so quickly. Everytime Lynsey took the Kindle to read Persuasion I wanted to, well, kill her. (I am not a serial killer.) (One will do me fine.) (He said hahahumurously.)

One of the most deeply flawed heros of all time, John Wayne Cleaver, is a kid that nature would have be a serial killer. He's trying to avoid that fate, but when a killer shows up in his hometown, the only way it can be stopped is if he kills him himself. And to do that, he must release his inner monster.

Great book. Don't miss it.

two or three weeks


031) Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent, finished July 26

(You can tell I have not yet fully joined the future because I feel obliged to mention that I read this on a borrowed Kindle.)

The Kindle I'm borrowing has a bunch of these Clone books. I picked one at random to be my first Kindle experience. Rogue Clone is not the first in the series and I do not know how typical it is, but, honestly, it wasn't any good. It had good moments, but as a book it does not hold together. It was several stories smashed randomly together, ending more, it seems, for the convenience of the author rather than for the pleasure of the reader. Because let's be honest. While I could come up with convoluted artistic justification for this book's quirks, ultimately they are errors and failures because the book claims no purpose beyond entertaining a reader. So I didn't ask many things this book. But cohesion and good sense were two of those few.


Previously in 2010 . . . . :

030) Servant of a Dark God by John Brown, finished July 21
029) Drink Me, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog by James Goldberg, finished June 9
028) Out of the Mount (tentative title) edited by Davey Morrison, finished June 8
027) Madman Boogaloo! by Mike Allred, Mike Baron, Bernie Mireault, Steve Rude; finished June 2
026) The Education of Robert Nifkin by Daniel Pinkwater, finished May 22
025) True Grit by Charles Portis, finished May 21
024) Old Man's War by John Scalzi, finished May 15
023) Pandora's Nightmare: Horror Unleashed, finished May 13
022) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished May 11
021) Look! It's Jesus!: Amazing Holy Visions in Everyday Life by Harry Choron and Sandra Choron, finished May 9
020) Travels in the Scriptorium: A Novel by Paul Auster, finished May 5
019) Suburban Folklore by Steven Walters, finished May 4
018) The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, finished April 30
017) Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns by George Burns, finished April 20
016) The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, finished April 15
015) Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction edited by Angela Hallstrom, finished March 24
014) The Best American Comics 2009 edited by Charles Burns, finished March 22
013) Icon: A Hero's Welcome by Dwayne McDuffie and MD Bright, finished March 17
012) There's Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson, finished March 15
011) Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. Finished right at midnight between March 13 and 14
010) Teen Titans: Year One by Amy Wolfram et al, finished March 7
009) The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book One by Bill Watterson, finished March 6
008) Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories by Thomas Lynch, finished March 5
007) Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo by Erik Craddock, finished March 2
006) The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, finished February 23
005) Missile Mouse 2 by Jake Parker (MS POLICY), finished February 5
004) Heroes of the Fallen by David J. West, finished February 4
003) Still Life in Milford by Thomas Lynch, finished January 19
002) Rapunzel's Revenge by Hales Shannon Dean and Nathan, finished January 16
001) Mormoniana by Mormon Artists Group, finished January 13


Patriotism compels me


Yesterday was President Obama's birthday.

Sorry I missed it, man! Hope it was awesome!




Yesterday Lady Steed and I were able to go to the temple, which is not something we get to do that often these days, what with small children who aren't allowed inside. Although that's actually one of the draws. But our ward provided babysitting and off we went.

That was good, though I think (at least for me) temple attendance increases in meaningfulness with frequency of worship. But it still made for a great start to the day. (After that we and the kids fed ducks so, you know, best day ever?)

Today was Fast Sunday. Only the Big O and I were at church as son-number-two had thrown up in the night. Perhaps that lack of baby-wrangling explains the glory of that meeting. I have not felt as moved spiritually by a sacrament meeting in a long time. Testimonies shared --- including a few related to the previous day's temple trip --- slipped right into my heard, and I felt like I was bleeding love. Actually, that sounds like a bad thing. It wasn't. It was a good thing.

In the second hour we talked about Ahab and Jezebel and Elijah --- the most epic portion of the Old Testament (sadly reduced to but one week). Miguel Sanchez taught and our discussion of the widow and her son moved me in ways it never had before. Perhaps because I was thinking of other young women I know who've lost their husband and then things get worse. Or perhaps because Miguel observed that she was probably a Phoenician --- the enemy.

Then, third hour, I taught. I talked mostly about Sam Brannon (I relied primarily on these two sources: Bagley, Campbell). For a few reasons.

1) San Francisco has a rich Mormon heritage. For a while, the town was mostly Mormons. It's good for us to know that.

2) Sam Brannon had a fascinating life.

3) He's dead, so we can feel free to try and learn lessons from him without offending him.

The discussion went all right, but ultimately, I feel like maybe ending the day on an apostate wasn't the best cherry for the sweet spiritual Sunday that had been August 1.

Ah well.

Next time I'll have an alternate lesson prepared on William Prows. Just in case.

for the previous svithe, also related to pioneer day