Svithe on Wards


Today's sacrament-meeting topic was
The ward's role in bringing me to Christ.
My role in bringing the ward to Christ.
The following is (roughly) my opening remarks.
[having dismissed those who presented the sacrament to the congregation]

The sacrament, of course, is the reason we come here, the most important thing we do each week, as we've been told.

When asked however, what the most vital thing to do is if we're feeling spiritually worn, the most common correct answers are daily individual and family prayer, daily individual and family scripture study. No one suggests that before brushing your teeth and crawling into bed that we pause a moment to bless an individual dose of bread and water for ourselves.

Consider the prayers we hear each week. The bread for instance is blessed for "all those who partake of it"---not for me. as I partake of it.

Clearly there are some things we must do together. Somethings that gain value by being done by a community, by a ward family, rather than by individuals....

previous svithe


Should Obama pull a Reagan here?


So Scalia is dead, darn it. And now President Obama has the Constitutional responsibility to nominate a replacement and the Senate has the constitutional responsibility to advise and consent. Shockingly, Republicans are promoting a bonkers notion that Obama should just let the next president make the nomination. Cruz at the debate claimed that it's been eighty years since the Senate's confirmed a Supreme Court nomination during an election year---which will make his next Reagan Cult meeting pretty embarrassing when they remind him about 1988.

I was not a SCOTUS fanboy in 1988, but I imagine that no one suggested Reagan should just wait for the next president to nominate someone. The last Justice who died while still serving on the Court was Rehnquist, and Bush made a nomination and saw it consented upon in, like, a month. But let's pretend the Senate didn't want Reagan to nominate someone before he left.

I don't think that's true, but it's easy to pretend because before the Court voted in Kennedy, they voted down Bork. This is where we get to Obama's opportunity to go full Reagan (although, given what we know now about Reagan's mental state during his waning presidency, if this was anyone's actual plan, it maybe wasn't his).

Obama could this Tuesday nominate a wildly unconsentable candidate like Pam Karlan. She will get eaten up and spat out then run over a few times with an old garbage truck. Then Obama can nominate someone like Sri Srinivasan or Jane Kelly who were, at their previous Senate advise-and-consents, voted in with 97-0 and 96-0, respectively. Maybe it's not putting someone as liberal on the court as Scalia was conservative, but it's likely enough to tip the Court and hard to imagine the Senate being able to call that second nominee unacceptable after beating Obama down publicly the first time.

Anyway. It's an idea.


Poetry out of the present, week three

The realtor failed to mention the spiritual sinkhole beneath our home
before we signed here and here and there and once more on this one
to trade one third of our income these next thirty years for a home
surrounded by the dying and the absent. Someday we we’ll no longer be
the youngest couple on this street and the land shall flow
with milk and honey and, more to the point, wifi, letting evil find easier passage
through our lives rather than taking up residence a thousand feet
from our front door, signaling the lost and the angry of our wired world that
here is the hell from which thy demons came.


On Jane


With the popularity of this new feed's listing of the introductions of female characters in scripts, I decided to look at my current draft of a script and see how well I'm doing in comparison....:

Seventeen-year-old JANE1 is standing against it, looking at the camera. She is thinnish and tallish, the child of a black mother and a Cambodian father. She is dressed in jeans and a tshirt. The tshirt has a drawing of Emma Smith and the caption UR MORMON CHICK. Even though it is clearly cold outside, she seems hot, as if she's been carrying boxes.

JANE2 at first seems to be the typical teen-movie perfect blond. She is seventeen, thin and wearing a 50s-style dress in a fascinating modern print; her hair is long and, like everything about her, kempt. Yet on closer examination, she'll prove to be a nerd, not a trophy, and her face will more emotive than beautiful. She, like the other two, is carrying a coat or other warm clothing to put on over what she's wearing.

JANE3 is built for strength. She looks like she could maybe make her high school's football team. She is dressed well, but it doesn't look like it was her idea.

JANE4 is heavy but wears her weight with confidence--she clearly thinks of herself as voluptuous rather than fat. She is dressed well, and means it, but unlike JANE2 who provides an aesthetic to be seen from afar, JANE4's appearance is more a dare to come closer. She's a year older than the other three girls but could pass as a decade older if she wanted.

JANE5 is tall. Her hair is long and unstraightened. She's obviously tired after a long day but her demeanor suggests she's used to running at full charge.

JANE6 seems young to have grown children, yet she does. She dresses in an aggressively 50s-housewife fashion, but these dresses do not completely cover the tattoos on her upper arms, legs, chest, back. Her demeanor is so conservative it feels radical.

JANE7 is working at her desk.

JANE8, a blond girl who looks like the new-and-improved Stepford-student non-hipster version of JANE2 is standing beside JANE3, unexpectedly, as in a horror movie.

JANE9 is JANE2's older sister. She is a stay-at-home mom and, while dressed up, looks exhausted.

JANE10 is obviously trying to be the town badass.

Hmmmm. I'll let you tell me how I did, but I'll tell you what it makes me feel: sad I'm not spending more time with them. But scripts are hard to prioritize when the money ain't comin' through.


Lost Songs: Everything She Wants


One thing I'm fascinated by is how little Lady Steed's and my respective knowledge of '80s music overlaps. She knows George Michael's solo work (I don't); this song was just on the radio and she had never heard it before. I know country and saccharine; she knows new wave and hair bands. We do overlap here and there of course (Bon Jovi, natch), but not a lot.

How horrible not to know this song! (And holy crap: this song is really long.) As Lady Steed points out, it has no proper chorus, just an wordless bit between parts where a chorus would normally go. It's still a fully hooks-laden song however, just like folks want now, even though it's about as transgressive as, I don't know, "Hey Jude."

Which are strange observations to have now. As a kid, this was a song I simply loved. It was one I hated to interrupt, one I wanted to listen to all the way to the end. I think what holds up is the almost minimalist use of '80s extravagance---everything's reduced to a series of beats with soaring nonsense and hardluck overlaid.

Or, you know, whatever.


Practicing (attempting?) occasional poetry, week two


Wife crashes her own funeral, horrifying her husband, who had paid to have her killed

February 5, 2016

Surprise! I’m still alive!
In olden times, when your brains were out,
you died. But do they now rise again?
Which of you have done this?
You cannot say I did ought.
I stand here. I see her.
This is more strange
than any murder—
I do forget.

Surprise! I’m still alive!
But do not muse at me, my most worthy friends.
Give me wine! Love and health to us all!
Let us drink to my dear wife, Noela,
whom we miss. And do not see.
Would she were here!
Quit my sight, fiend,
your flesh is cold,
marrowless. . . .

Surprise! I’m still alive!
Take any shape but hers, and my nerves shall yet—
Cold breath gives shape to the heat of deeds. . . .
Hence, horrible shadow! I am free of you!
Hence, unreal thing—! They too see?
Credit not my strange self-abuse
to being steeped in her blood.
I am her man! Sit still,
bloody Noela. I—


AML AWARD: fiction nominees


As you may recall, all I really want in life is an AML Award. This dream cane true in 2011 when I was awarded an editing award for the Sunstone comics issue. As is the way with humans, however, I then discovered I was not satisfied. I still wanted one, but in my true field: fiction.

Well, this year I'm taking a step closer, having been shortlisted. Shortlisted, I might add, against some incredible competition. In fact, the entire list of fiction nominations in all three categories is a Venn diagram of great writers and good friends, with plenty of people in the middle.

Let's start with my category, short fiction:

Remainder” by Spencer Hyde
Someone new for me to discover! Delight!
The Naked Woman” by Theric Jepson
I'm quite proud of this story but it never occurred to me it might interest the judges. I know who one of the judges is and I'm immensely flattered that a writer of his quality thinks well enough of my story to nominate it, notwithstanding its lack of explicit Mormon content.
Absolute Zero” by Scott Parkin
I haven't read enough of Scott's work. I take this as an appropriate upbrainding.
An Immense Darkness” by Eric James Stone
Eric's willingness to participate in Monsters & Mormons was one of the major immediate lendings of legitimacy to the entire project. I haven't read this one, but it's online, so I'll get on that.

Short-story collection:

Dark Watch and Other Mormon-American Stories by William Morris
I love William, I have this collection, have read much of it in the past, but haven't read it straight through yet as a collection.
Wandering Realities: Mormonish Short Fiction by Steve L. Peck
I love Steven, I have this collection, have read much of it in the past, but haven't read it straight through yet as a collection.
Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Wives by Karen Rosenbaum
I love Karen, I have this collection, have read much of it in the past, but haven't read it straight through yet as a collection.
Seriously. They could not be nominating three people I admire more.


The Agitated Heart by J. Scott Bronson
I've been hearing about this book for years. I didn't know until just recently that it was finally available.
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
I think I have an ARC of this book. I haven't started it yet because I was lent another Correia book by a friend which I . . . am having a hard time getting through. Maybe this one would've been a better place to start.
His Right Hand by Mette Ivie Harrison
I like hanging with Mette on Twitter. Here's my take on the book.
Sistering by Jennifer Quist
Her fist book was one of my favorites of recent history so I bought this as soon as it came out. Still haven't read it though . . . .