May We Movies?


personal dvd collection
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

This is not a good movie. Entertaining to watch? Sure. But it doesn't make a lot of sense. Clearly, they did not put the best people on it. (That girls been wrapped in her quilt for two weeks??) Which is a shame because the concept's not too shabby. And if they were old, it could have set up some pretty interesting sequels. [See sequel, below, for more comments.]

But of course, these movies are happy to pick and choose what they remember from the previous iterations. I guess before we could watch movies whenever we felt like it, we just had to take their word for it.

The most bizarre moment, however, was that final moment lifted straight out of Gone with the Wind.

And if the music was iffy before the denouement, this moment's music turned a mystifying choice into a laughline.

personal dvd collection
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)

This starts off as a pretty good wolfman movie. The hair-growing effects are better and Lon Chaney wields the pathos like a machete. Then the Frankensteins get involved and...the rest isn't quite as good.

(Telling: This movie came out of eight days before the year anniversary of the previous installment's release.)

Bela Lugosi's version of the creature is unintentionally comedic. I thought that might change one they brought him to full power, but no such luck. It doesn't help that the makeup makes him look like a cross between Herman Munster and Grandpa Addams.

Also---anyone else notice that no female character's ever played by the same actress twice?

Or that the head village meanie looks like my Face in Hat cohost?

Apparently, the creature was going to speak and be blind ala what Ghost set up, but they thought Bela's voice was too inadvertently amusing. That, and the fact that Bela was old and exhausted and the role was thus played by possibly four different people, help explain why the face just isn't consistent.

Maybe it wouldn't have been good, but I suspect the all-Bela version of this film would have been better.

That's the attitude, guys!

Like Father, Like Son (2013)

I don't know what I expected if it wasn't this. Just...more and less? more emotional impact without seeming so long?

It's a heart-wrenching scenario---maybe impossible not be be running the numbers of one's personal life instead of giving the film your full attention, at least on first viewing.

What do you do when you discover your six-year-old was switched at birth?

I couldn't figure out what, thematically, the film was about making even metaphors with big flashing signs (those cicadas) confusing.

Yeah. The more I think about it, the more certain I am this film would approve with a second viewing--I'm starting to see how all the pieces fit together and how they might make an artful collage rather than sorted piles.

But I also think it'll feel just as long the second time. Maybe even longer?

I'm guessing I don't find out.

personal dvd collection
Shanghai Noon (2000)

It's sort of a Jackie Chan film (with less consistently excellent action) with a lot of elements (besides just Owen Wilson) lifted from Wes Anderson movies (though hardly as sharp throughout). So it's no surprise I loved it so much in 2000 and can't quite love it as much now.

Still. The oldest two had a riot watching it and I had fun too. You can still, having had filet mignon, enjoy a salisbury steak.

Shoplifters (2018)

Thought-provoking. Complicated. Unsettling.

There are lots of reasons to disagree with me, but this covers a lot of the same ground as Parasite but I don't think it was saying at all the same things. Both have, as surface text, that poor people are awful and will do whatever they can get away with. But that movie provided a big fat subtext blaming the rich. That doesn't happen here. This is about found family; that about birth family.

The connections to the directors previous film (Like Father, Like Son---see above) are also striking. Similar themes, very different things said about this.

Here, the found family is awful in many on-paper ways, but they are wonderful in others. And when the get found out, no one can understand or believe in what they had. And so it is dissolved. (Society would have dissolved it anyway, but this gets back to the eat-the-rich themes this film studiously avoids.)

The actress playing the little girl is astonishing. Not her alone, but she's so little and has to play such a nuanced role and does it so well. Maybe we can praise the director for this as well?

Sigh. I need time for another viewing before film club. It's a lot to unwind.

personal dvd collection
Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Yes, it's merely a teaser when it comes to the riches offered by the novel (and misleading---I realized on this watch that IT is why I say a stupid wrong thing every time I teach the book), but it provides riches all its own in the editing, camera work, music, interactions, and Keira Knightley's face.

We watched it to mark the end of the AP test. Turn out was so-so but that's fine. I saved the chat! but I'm not sure it's really appropriate for me to share that with you. You?

personal dvd collection
House of Frankenstein (1944)

Okay. This is a dumb one. There is a beautiful symmetry to Boris Karloff now playing the mad scientist (and he's great) but most of the rest of the movie is ... not.

The first act involves bringing Dracula back to life (with an actor so similar to Karloff it was a while before I could be sure it wasn't him) and then killing him off. It could have been a standalone Dracula film. Instead, it's a random addition to a Frankenstein film. (But it's not really a "Frankenstein" film either, in the sense of a monster film [he barely gets more screen time than the Bride in her eponymous film]---it's a Doctor Niemann film.)

Anyway, Lon Chaney's great as usual even though the movie respects him less than usual. The only kindness is letting him die. Though the accompanying tragedy is unclear since apparently they can't show blood in 1944? I guess?

Yeah. For completists only.

personal dvd collection
Be Kind Rewind (2008)

This film wants to be the American Cinema Paradiso and it does have some moments that come close. It's also a Micael Gondry film and it does have moments of visual wonder but nothing like, say, Mood Indigo or Eternal Sunshine.

I think, ultimately, and I don't like saying this, but, ultimately, I think what's wrong with Be Kind Rewind is it wants to be an intensely American movie but it was written and directed by a French guy and it doesn't gel American.

Another issue might be that Gondry's largely playing it straight here. Sure, there's a magnetized Jack Black but outside that, the madness is kept within the sweded movies. This movie wants to be taken seriously to the point that it can never quite become itself. I don't know what that self might have been and I don't know who to blame.

In the end, it's so close. So close.

The Great Dinosaur Discovery (1976)

While technically five and a half minutes too short for inclusion on this list, I loved it too much to ignore. And who could blame me? This "highly acclaimed landmark film broadcast nationally" about the discovery of new and giant dinosaurs at Dry Mesa Quarry by a BYU professor and his gang of diggers. It's both thrilling watching the disovering happen as it happens, and laughing at some of the dated filming choices---and gasping at some of the dated paleontology practices.

Anyway, this old dinohound thought it was great. I loved it. And the watermelon scene alone was worth the time spent.

(Unanswered question: who's the dude with the pipe?)

Amazon Prime
Fences (2016)

Lady Steed's first time watching!

Not under ideal circumstances, I'm afraid. Kids, daylight, etc. But she was wiping tears away at the end, so the film worked its way through all those barriers.

I can't imagine not crying there at the end. Not from "Blue" on out.

It's just the right thing to do.

personal dvd collection
Frankenstein (1931)

Now that the seniors have realized they're all passing no matter how little work they do, they're not even showing up for a just-for-fun movie. I may need to rethink my film-unit plans....

But hey---watching a movie with three people's also fun!

And this way, everyone who made it to the end said they liked it. Perfect 100% feedback!

It really is a lovely movie. The sets, camera, and Karloff being the most magnificent portions.

personal dvd collection
Fantastic Mr Fox (2009)

The baby's been asking to watch this for a while and an excellent article I read made me realize she was overdue.

So, anyway, I love this movie. We didn't see it in theaters because the trailers made me skeptical about the animation. But the animation is great! And the vocal performances / writing combo is barnone.

It's a movie I can watch infinite times.

Don't leave me on a desert island with electricity, a dvd player, and just one movie; but if you must, maybe this one?

personal dvd collection
Bambi (1942)

Baby suddenly remembered she loves Bambi and so she got this put on today. She's sneaky, too. After Bambi's mom got shot, she rewinded it just just before the first time she was shot at. I was confused for a moment---there are no flashbacks in Bambi!!(?)!.

I know I've said this before, but I just really love this movie. The colors are amazing. Because the cartoon characters---though largely pretty realistic---look like normal cartoon characters it can be easy to miss the richness of the work behind them. And how did they do the look of the fire from above the island? Were the backgrounds wet paint they manipulated between exposures? It seems like the most likely explanation, but I don't remember hearing about such a thing. (And it's been >15y since I've watched the special features.)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)

We THOUGHT we were starting the Genndy Tartakovsky series, but then this weird, awkward CGI started---which is not what I thought it was supposed to look like. And at times it was a pretty good Star Wars movie. And at times it was not. (It was hard to get over the awkward animation and the oft-awkward voice acting.)

I mean---it was fine, but as the credits kicked in and Genndy Tartakovsky's name was not the first...nor the second...nor the third...nor any of the names, I realized, "Ah. Okay then." and "Why did I spend all this time?" and eventually the sinking realization that what I really wanted to watch does not seem to be streaming anywhere online. What a terrible, terrible feeling.

It's kind of amazing that the Genndy Tartakovsky series was a) 17 years ago, then b) followed up by a 2008 theatrical film I have utterly forgotten existed that c) was followed up by a second tv program of the same name that d) lasted more than twice as many seasons and e) is now considered Star Wars Canon while d) the Genndy series is not! How is this even possible? let alone reality?

Such a strange, strange, strange, strange, strange world we live in. It's almost like some god out there has set as his goal ruining Star Wars and every time someone does something compelling for that universe someone else must come along and...lessen it.

Ratatouille (2007)

It's been so long since we've seen this that our thirteen-year-old has no memory of it. I still think it's pretty much just okay, although the emotions from the cook for the critic till the end are sound and maybe even great. Although every once in while you remember there is no way---none!---rat hairs are staying out of the food---and that lessens the potential impact. I mean: rats.

I think my favorite part of the movie (outside the physical comedy, which is hard to compare) is the critic's change of heart which was not an easy thing to pull off at all, let alone so thoroughly and well.

So it's a good movie and I'm sympathetic to those who consider it top-tier Pixar. I don't, personally, but I don't have any real complaints. Ultimately, they tried to pull of something ambitious (rats+food=good) and we should always celebrate that, even if it's just a double and not a home run.

And isn't that what Ratatouille's about?

A Spaceman in King Arthur's Court (1979)

Note: the original theatrical title and the title under which it appears on Disney+ is the inferior Unidentified flying Oddball which I find appalling. The UK release was titled The Spaceman and King Arthur. The later American rerelease (I'm unsure of the year) got the title I knew it by from the VHS tape I assume we recorded off the Disney Channel.

This is the second movie in a row Lady Steed walked out on because the concept was just too ludicrous. She's not wrong, but the hero's naive charm (five parts Matthew Broderick to one part Tom Petty) keeps the movie alive. (Incidentally, he will go on to direct a host of Happy Madison movies, two of which I have seen: I liked one [but haven't seen it in almost twenty years]; the other was so abysmal I'm still suffering.) In another universe, he went on to become the next Dean Jones.

Anyway, it's fun to think how this fits into history. 2001's ten years old, Star Wars two, Monty Python and the Holy Grail four. I don't know just how much dialogue this film's interested in having with those films, but definitely some. I'm glad to say I got some jokes this time I had not gotten before (mostly Winston Churchill stuff).

The plot has some minor holes and betrays a late-'70s urge to be 'edgy' (most obviously with the robot's Playboy), but for a dumb movie aimed at a broad audience, it's still pretty good. The interplay between Arthur and Gawain is nice for instance, and all this era's live-action Disney---no matter how terrible---has great slapstick.

Amazon Prime
The Fighting Preacher (2019)

This must be the funniest devotional movie I've ever seen. Because it is a devotional movie. And it is funny. The film has a guileless charm that makes it not really matter if it's a "great" movie or not (it's not) because it is good, in every sense.

I do wonder how it reads to a nonMormon audience---it makes no real effort to cater to an outsider audience---usually a good thing---but sometimes it nudges the audience (like how many times the camera lingers on a minor character with no lines, one "Elder Gordon Hinckley." The fun facts in the closing credits are great but some of them will no make sense if everything you know about Mormonism comes from this movie.

I quite liked the book it was based on and the whole family enjoyed this film. It's a swearfree delight, and you know there's an audience for that.

personal dvd collection
Duck Soup (1933)

It's still so fresh and modern. There's a reason modern cartoons behave like this, and it's not just because the Marx Bros. are their great-great-great grandfathers.

It's because they are also their fathers.

personal dvd collection
Rushmore (1998)

Beautiful and joyful and subtle. The camera tells jokes and the music debates and the details are layered like a cake.

What else would you be quoting?

personal dvd collection
A Hard Day's Night (1964)

If you had asked me three days ago if I would laugh more at Duck Soup, Rushmore, or A Hard Day's Night, I would not have guessed the Beatles to win that race. Maybe it's just because this is the film I've seen the fewest times, but still! Impressive, Beatles! Well done!

The film is brilliant of course---it invented the future as much as the other two---not just in comedy, but in style and attitude and---more than other other two---use of music.

It's also a great film for making you feel part of the group of friends the movie is about---like early Scooby-Doo. You leave Hard Day's Night friends with Beatles; you could fist bump them on the street.

It must have been quite the experience in 1964.

personal dvd collection
The Iron Giant (1999)

Is this a flawless film? I think it might be. I really can't point to anything wrong with it. The characters, the dialogue, the structure, the allusions, the emotional content---all perfect.

One thing that occurred to me this watch---I think for the first time---is that Jennifer Aniston is really good and I think I've only ever thought that watching The Iron Giant. Maybe every other time I've seen her I've been too distracted by the fact that it's Jennifer Aniston? Or maybe I've only ever seen her in https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0343135/?thmazing?

(I just checked and that is wrong. I've seen Storks [irrelevant], Bruce Almighty [barely remember it] and, of course, Office Space [which she is good in, but it's not, like, a huge role or anything].)

persoal dvd collection
Fluke (1995)

I haven't seen this since it was in theaters back in 1995. I was recently our of high school and, I'm guessing, assigned to take my siblings to a movie. I assume this because I don't think I was interested in dog movies (and just look at that poster). https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118570/?thmazing comes out two years later (meaning my mission was bookended with dog movies in theaters with my siblings) and it ticks all the dog-movie cliches so well I basically haven't watched one since.

This, however!

I was so blown away by its atypicality in 1995 I couldn't see its flaws (or maybe it's just because I was so young), but I was staggered by the originality of Fluke. Unfortunately, all remember about the film in 2020 is its two great innovations, so it's perhaps a bit too easy for me to see all the stuff wrong with it (it may also be that some aspects of the film just haven't aged as well as a body might hope).

I'm happy to say the rest of my family had the ??!?!?!??!?!?! experience I had in 1995.

I wonder what my kids will think of it in twenty-five years...?

The Strongest Man in the World (1975)

The kids picked out one of the old Medfield movies from the Disney+ library---one I'm fairly certain I haven't seen before. (Related: how long until Disney+ releases a Medfield tv show?)

It's dumb and its fun and it has some racist music cues, so, you know, that's what it is. Because you've seen Disney movies from the era, you already know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, who are the sycophants and who are the saps, who are the heroes and who'll just be in the way. Disney, 1975!

Previous films watched


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Irreversible Pillar of Hermana America's Quarry (books)


033) Irreversible Things by Lisa Van Orman Hadley, finished April 27

What a marvel.

Impossible to categorize, but a marvel.

Is is fiction? Well, it won a fiction prize, didn't it? Or is is a memoir? Depends on how strict we're being. Is it a collection? You bet. These will all stand on their own. Is it a whole thing? Unquestionably. It builds and grows into one coherent work of art.

I picked this up because of its AML Award nomination, my hearing that there was a lot of debate as to which category it belonged to, and general agreement it was a thing of beauty.

It was not cheap, for all that.

But worth it. I can't remember the last book I read so quickly and enjoyed so much. A similar event occurred recently, but it didn't quite rise to this level.

Some facts:

Part one covers early childhood until her family left Florida for Utah when she was eleven.

Part two covers adapting to Utah through becoming a mother in middle adulthood.

The book plays with form like no one's business. There is a madlib behaving in ways madlibs do not behave. There is a choose-your-own-adventure that questions the entire purpose of choose-your-own-adventures.

There are stories close to twenty pages. There are tiny stories. Here are two of my favorites:

The mother is, aside from the protagonist, the main character. And she is a hero like few I have read. I admire her so much.

I love the whole family. I don't think I will ever be able to write a book about my own family, but, if I do, I hope it is as loving and generous as this one. And with just as much cleareyed honesty.

UPDATE: This book won an AML Award on May 2, "Special Award in Literature."
two days


034) Pillar of Light: Joseph Smith's First Vision by Andrew Knaupp and Sal Velluto, finished May 3

My copy arrived horribly damaged, so it's heading back home (to the graveyard) on tomorrow's brown truck, but rather than waiting for the replacement, went ahead and read this copy.

It's good. For some reason I expected it to be a bit longer, incorporating as it does all known sources, but the comics-portion of the book is only 26 pages long. Made in Sal Velluto's classic 80s/90s style (perhaps seen most famously in Black Panther) and some late 2010s-style too-much-Photochop colors by scriptwriter Knaupp (whom I don't know), the visuals are arguable a bit over-the-top. Honestly, I was braced for them being waaaay over-the-top, but they're not that much. At the end, where they talk about the steps in making the comic, I rather wish they had stopped the colors with the flat step (and maybe tried out not inking Sal's gorgeous pencils?), but I know that my tastes are maybe the not the most commercial.

Anyway, as I said, it was good. I'm glad it exists and I'm a bit curious now about other titles from this publisher which, previously, I mostly knew for reissuing the Allreds' Golden Plates (and possibly releasing some previously unpublished??).

Definitely worth checking out. Certainly the sort of book grandparents want to send grandchildren.
not long


035) Hermana by Becca McCulloch, finished May 13*

A day or two ago I finished rereading Doug Thayer's essay about "serious" Mormon fiction. My feelings about the essay, while largely positive, remain conflicted. I thought of this essay---and specifically its claim that the novelist it's prophesying "will probably be a woman"---as I finished Hermana. The little I know of McCulloch's biography puts her in Thayer's imaginative ballpark, and this novel is a very nice opening salvo should she prove to be one of our greats.

Hermana is a melodrama---but I don't mean this as a pejorative, nor do I mean to imply that its emphasis on emotional beats preempts development of character or anything else. But thinking of the novel as a melodrama I think allows us to celebrate what it does well.

And it does do things well.

Looking for something else recently I ran across Scott Hale's warnings to missionary-fiction writers. Scott's read a lot more missionary fiction than I have, but definitely I have read enough to know these bits of advice are accurate. I am ignorant enough, however, that I won't be able to tell if ol' Becca's followed, oh, #2: "You stand a better chance of writing a good Mormon missionary story if you take the time to read Mormon missionary fiction written by other writers first."

(#2, incidentally, is why I won't write missionary fiction. I just don't know. It's also why my opinions here may not be as informed as you might like.)

I suspect so, however. I at least have never read a missionary novel that starts with arriving in the field and ends* one year in. Which was a daring but sensible choice and provided a satisfying denouement that otherwise would have been impossible.

Although... *it actually does not end there. An additional chapter (let's call it an epilogue) picks up to bring her through her last day and her arrival at her home airport. This chapter has some beautiful writing and wraps up an ongoing metaphor in a lovely way, but I'm not sure it makes the book itself better. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't. This is the sort of thing a vigorous discussion between writer and editor could have resolved in such a way that I wouldn't be bringing up the issue right now, but alas.

The lack of an editor is plain throughout this novel. 'Tis our modern plague. The prose is melody and propulsive and worthy of our good report, but small errors abound from wrong-pointing apostrophes to people with their arms full picking things up to someone whose head is already lying upon a shoulder lying a head upon a shoulder. (The reliance of heads upon shoulders also suggests more work for an editor: push the writer to find more business for characters to do.)

But these are little things. Perhaps this book will sell enough copies to justifying a Tenth Anniversary Special Edition with the addition of big lizards in the desert and the subtraction of these little goofs.

The basic arc of the story takes our hermana from the low that sends her on a mission to a realization that she is what God wants as part of his "motley army---perhaps the only kind God ever assembles" (224).

The emotional highs and crashes of the novel that led me earlier to label it melodrama largely make sense---especially considering this is narrated in first person. Perhaps a more distant narrator could have navigated our hermana's highs and lows with more gentleness, but as she is lifted to peaks and then crushed beneath them, her narration follows her feelings. Some readers will probably find that difficult, but it makes sense. (Whether first-person was the right choice is a different argument and one you are not prepared for, not having read it yet. Another example is Hermana Lewis's overuse of the work "misogyny"---inappropriate for a third-person narrator, but it makes sense in first-person and tells us a lot about how many tools she has on-hand to navigate her world.

The lyrical prose, the smart constraints on time, the honesty of emotion, and the elegant deployment of spiritual elements (an essay in itself) make this a significant entry in the Mormon-lit scene---even if it does no more than announce its author's presence and make us look forward to her next.
at most two weeks but I think I rushed through it much more quickly than that


036) Best American Comics 2017 by Ben Katchor, finished May 19

I have a love-love-hate relationship with the books, and Lady Steed talked me out of buying them after this one. I got one every year from the first until this one.

Without the pressure of another one in the pipeline, my drive to read this one diminished and I'm just now finishing it.

Some of the best comics I've ever read came from BACs previous. Also some of the worst trash. As Chris Ware made explicit in the introduction to the year he edited, the comics royalty tapped to edit these books make a real effort to show everything that happened in a year. Less 'best' and more 'broadest'; while I applaud the idea and sometimes it results in impossible jems being included, it also results in some weird crap that, while it's nice it's getting attention it would not otherwise get, might not reasonably meet the criteria implied by 'Best."

That said, I love my shelf with all these books upon it. Even when they are not beautiful or compelling, they are interesting and sit nicely together.

Even though this book was the usual mishmash, I'm sad that I don't expect another.

Maybe...now that I'm a couple years behind, I can buy the next one used and save twenty bucks, but continue collecting?

**Send More Shelves**
almost thirty months


037) "Q" is for Quarry by Sue Grafton, finished May 22

This is a bit different from the other Alphabet books because it's based on an actual unsolved mystery the Santa Barbara police department is still taking tips on. (Grafton paid for the exhumation and forensic sculpture you see here.)

Kinsey hooks up with a couple other gumshoes here---a retired deputy and a STPD lieutenant---who both are playing chicken with disease and old age and want to solve this mystery that's been hanging over them (the deputy in particular). It's a nice change of pace for our hero and it balances the grind of running down clues with the thrill of discovery and conclusion. Kinsey also due to a quirk of geography, learns more about her own family. I'm still excited to see how that plays out. Onward to "R"!

I genuinely do not know the elapse. Perhaps a couple months?





For reasons I can no longer recall, we bought Patrick the Stripping Warrior. And it's great! Honestly, probably the best LDS-themed picture book I've ever read. It's about a rambunctious kid who intends to "be reverent" at sacrament meeting and fails and fails and fails. Then he has a moment of paying attention, hears about the "stripping warriors," turns a new leaf, then interrupts sacrament meeting the most ever by stripping down to his underwear and a tie around his head to declare his newest bestest good intentions.

The book is written with an economy of words; simple, repetitive pacing (in the best way); and real characters that are easily to empathize with and laugh with (at). It's a great picture book! You should get it.

Amazon tells me that I purchased Cinderella CTR the same day. Perhaps because it's from the same publisher? I have a vague sense that I already knew Patrick was a winner and was buying it for that reason, but also picked up this second book just to support a nascent LDS publisher (Halemark Picture Books) and because I am an optimist. (Ends up there was at least one other book they had put out, but I just found that out tonight.)

I hate to speak poorly of the dead---especially a great guy like Rick Walton who not only wrote many great books but was also a selfless mentor to many, but this book is a disaster. It includes a couple great innovations, but trying to combine a fairy tale with LDS culture/theology has resulted in a feminist nightmare. It'll really make you take your local Mormon feminist more seriously, let me tell you.

(Aside: although I've owned the book over eight years, I've never read it. When the 3yrold found it tonight, it took me a while to even process its existence. I think we never read it because the boys never cared [I think the baby chose it because Girls on the Cover---score one for representation] and when I opened it up, it was just too dern wordy for my taste in picture books.)

To simplify, let's just go through the story. You know it. What's Rick doing with it? (Some of which he might not have done in the final draft had he been working with a larger company with a better editing department and not just good intentions?)

So we start with mom and dad, respectively, the very best ward activity director and very best Relief Society Enrichment leader ever. (Cinderella herself is on some medieval basketball squad, an innovation of the illustrator's.) They both die in a tragic merry-go-round accident and Cinderella is sent to live with a very, very, very distant relative (both in blood and geography). She's not allowed to bring anything with her, but no one notices her CTR ring.

So far, so good. I like the ditching of the stepmother angle, in part because it redeems the father. Then we get to some traditional awfulness from the three women she's now living with. The text succeeds in making them ridiculous as well as horrid. So far so good.

Actually, no! This was the first upsetting thing, and the sole upsetting thing that I fullstopped reading to talk to my daughter about.

After we're informed of the awful crap Cinderella has been subjected to, we read
But Cinderella did not complain. Her parents had taught her to do her best, no matter what the situation, and that all would be well in the end. When she as tempted to rebel, she would look at that little ring on her finger, remember her parents' advice, and get back to work.
Nononononononono!!! Sometimes standing up for yourself and rebelling IS the right thing, Cinderella! You deserve better and you have the right to say so and act for your benefit!

Cinderella stays up late to work on her dress from scraps (although her, um, new mother?, laughs every time Cinderella hints she would like to attend the ball, she's never said no, so Cinderella can proceed without being disobedient. (Phew.)

And that's what she does. After they leave, Cinderella gets dressed (and, in contrast to the days of makeup the other two younger women have been layering on, "touche[s] herself lightly with makeup") and walks barefoot to the palace.

This is my favorite innovation in the book: no fairy godmother. I suppose you could argue that character is a powerful woman ergo feminist etc etc, but I like this self-contained Cinderella much better.

When Cinderella arrives, the prince sees her and is immediately struck:
She glowed. And that smile, so pure. And that dress, so simple, so modest, and yet so elegant.
That made me laugh. And that leads to a possible semiredemption one could argue for this book. Maybe it's satire? Some of the future lines I'll complain about definitely might be.

But: I don't care.

This is a book for young children (honestly, this is a book for young girls) and they're not going to see satire if satire indeed is what it is. (Which I doubt.)

Anyway. Let's move on.

Somehow, her relations not notice her dancing with the prince most of the night, which is fine if problematic given the rules o' Cinderella (the story, not this version of the character).

The prince is a decent person and they have a lovely time. He's the first to notice her ring and inquire of its meaning. Then,
When the clock struck eleven, Cinderalla ... remembered something her father had told her. "The Spirit goes to bed at midnight."
So she takes off running. The prince, having failed to ask her name, sends guards after her. But
Cinderalla could run and not be weary, and the guards could not.
One guard, bent over panting, is smoking a cig. The other has somehow not spilled his glass of bourdeaux.

See what I mean? Is that satire? Is this a sincere attempt to teach principles? It's clearly humor, but What Kind of Humor Is It? I don't know. I'm just grateful there were no cupcakes at the party.

Anyway, the prince sets off, asking everyone woman in the country what CTR stands for. After the "sisters" guess "Catch That Rhinoerous" and "Cats Taste Rotten," the prince "[turns] to leave and then something [makes] him stop." So he asks are there any other young ladies, yada yada.

So the prince asks her to marry him and, this is good, Cinderalla says, "Whoa! We've just met!" The prince, "stunned," suggests dating. She says have her home by twelve. And then we'll get married!
"I can't do that," said Cinderalla sadly.

The prince was double stunned. "But...why? Why? I love you already, and I know you will learn to love me."

Cinderella looked at her ring, and then explained to the prince the kind of man she planned to marry, and where she would marry him.

The prince was crestfallen. He was not that man. The palace was not that place. But then he smiled. "May I at least take you out for pizza and a movie?"

"I would like that," said Cinderella.
Anyway, they had a good time. "But did they live happily ever after?" Oh, ho, ho. If she becoming queen and he becoming "the second best Ward Activity Director ever" doesn't answer your question then you are bad at reading!

And this gets to what this book does best and worst all at once.

There's a lot of respect for the reader. The text doesn't shout out the Mormon Elements---it lets its readers read between the lines.

But that element lets a lot of the book's problematic elements---elements concurrent in Mormon culture---pass by unremarked upon, even confirmed and reemphasized.

Ultimately, Cinderella CTR is a paean to flirt-to-convert. Cinderalla uses her feminine wiles to get both a baptism and a temple marriage to a rich guy.

(Snide comment: this book must have been a big hit with the Mormon girls whose babydaddies were getting MBAs when this book hit shelves.)

It's a wildly disappointing book. Parts of it are fresh and smart and fun (the illustrator does much work here, herself), but the less-so parts are so much less so, I rather feel we need to get rid of this book before it pollutes our daughter with sex/religion equivalencies and iffy notions of what being a strong woman entails.

Which is a bummer. A failure of editing, methinks, and one that results in such a gaping missed opportunity, one can only frown and sigh and think of what might have been.

[posted unedited: complaints/corrections welcome]




I'm in the process of finally (finally!) bringing thmazing.com back to life, so this should be the final placeholder bibliography!


•Byuck (Strange Violin Editions 2012) *buy*

•Perky Erect Nipples (Antemoff Ebookery 2015) *buy*

Short stories
•Armageddon, Burning, And, Hell (The Looking Glass 1994)
•Afterlife (Quantum Muse March 2006)
•The Widower (Dialogue Paperless June 2007, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Summer 2009) *read offsite*
•The Oracle (Nossa Morte February 2008)
•Happy St. Patrick's Day (Arkham Tales May 2009)
•Blood-Red Fruit (with Danny Nelson, The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•How Long Till Two Times (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•Along with the Rainbow (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•Solomon's Reprise (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•Them Bones Them Bones Gonna—Walk Around (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•Ezra's Inbox (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•The Avon Lady (Pandora's Nightmare 2010; Faed 2015) *buy*
•17 Facts About Angels (Irreantum Fall/Winter 2010) *buy*
•Davey Dow and Lala (Wilderness Interface Zone October 2011) *read offsite*
•The Legend of Boitown (Scars.tv May 2012; Children, Churches and Daddies August 2012; the Mission (issues) May–August 2012; After the Apocalypse: Prose Edition February 2013) *read offsite* *buy*
•Lovely, Fearful Symmetry (Surreal Grotesque Magazine June 2012) *read offsite*
•Swallowing Bones (Windmills 2012 Ninth Edition)
•Stars Were Gleaming (Sing We Now of Christmas 2012) *buy*
•Maurine Whipple, age 16, takes a train north (Everyday Mormon Writer October 2012; forthcoming in a Mormon Lit Blitz anthology) *read offsite*
•The Dancing Monkeys of Blackpool (Windmills 2012 Tenth Edition
•Bearing Testimonies of Death (Lowly Seraphim 2013)
•Laurel Wistian and the Adventure of the Dangerous Mice of Dr. Mortimus Alexander Fitzbottom, PhD, AlcD (Midnight Movie Creature Feature 2 March 2013) *buy* *read offsite*
•Do Not Open Until Christmas (Carol of the Tales and Other Nightly Noels 2013) *buy*
•Out for Santa (When Red Snow Melts 2013) *buy*
•The Great Mormon Novel of the 21st Century (Antemoff Ebookery 2013) *buy*
•Yes, Snow White Ate the Apple. It Was a Suicide. (MicroHorror January 2014)
•Then, at 2:30. . . . (365 Tomorrows February 2014) *read offsite*
•A Laurel's First-Night Fantasies (longlisted in Mormon Lit Blitz 2014, Dialogue Summer 2016) *read offsite*
•All Right, Have It Your Way – You Heard a Seal Bark (365 Tomorrows January 2015) *read offsite*
•An Excerpt from But Very Little Meat (Modern Mormon Men February 2015) *read offsite*
•The Naked Woman (Pulp Literature Spring 2015, Faed 2015) *buy*
•Angry Sunbeam (Mormon Lit Blitz May 2015; performed as part of Thorns & Thistles June 2019; forthcoming in a Mormon Lit Blitz anthology) *read*
•The Swimming Hole (Redneck Eldritch April 2016) *preview* *buy*
Duties of a Deacon (Dialogue Fall 2017) *read offsite*
Stanl33's Silver Spaceship (longlisted in Mormon Lit Blitz 2018)
The Prophetess of Mars -or- the Modern Prometheia (Press Forward, Saints April 2019) *buy*
Devin in My Bedroom (Imps & Minions August 2019) *buy*
A Mouse's Tale (forthcoming in The Tertiary Lodgers from Alternating Current Press)

•After Chadwick (Antemoff Ebookery 2015) *buy*

•Chores (From the Asylum June 2007)
•Morning Walk, Spring 2009 (Wilderness Interface Zone March 2009) *read offsite*
•Maher-shalal-hash-baz (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•Gomer (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•My Latest Trip to the Berkeley Botanical Gardens (Wilderness Interface Zone February 2013) *read offsite*
•Rifflection: “To His Mistress Going to Bed” by John Donne (Psaltery & Lyre May 2013) *read offsite*
•Completely Static Account (3by3by3 June 2013)  *read offsite*
•Goal Stunning Goal (3by3by3 June 2013) *read offsite*
•God (Psaltery & Lyre July 2013) *read offsite*
•A Hymn for Mother's Day in Long Meter (first accepted to be published as part of "Our Mother Who Art in Heaven" in A Mantle of Stars December 2013; first published on A Mother Here) *read offsite* *buy*
•Sponsored Funeral (Quantum Fairy Tales May 2013)
•Amtrak to SAC (Psaltery & Lyre July 2013) *read offsite*
•Being a High-School Teacher Is a Great Disguise (Psaltery & Lyre August 2013) *read offsite*
•Accidentally Deleted (Quantum Fairy Tales October 2013)
•Overall Free (無μ November 2013)
•Rifflection on the Climax of “The Monkey’s Paw” (Passages of Pain, Lyrics of Loss February 2014) *buy*
•In Memoriam: B (Passages of Pain, Lyrics of Loss February 2014) *buy*
•The Young Amateur Imagines the Editor’s Pen, ca 1997 (Passages of Pain, Lyrics of Loss February 2014) *buy*
•Enough Is (The Poet's Haven March 2014) *read offsite*
•Solstice (Boston Literary Magazine March 2014)
•The Fiberglass Giraffe in Davis, California (Epigraph Magazine April 2014) *read offsite*
•Some seduction this— (Psaltery & Lyre July 2014, After Chadwick 2015) *read offsite* *buy*
•Jesus Fishing the Styx (Psaltery & Lyre August 2014, After Chadwick 2015) *read offsite* *buy*
•After Party (Psaltery & Lyre October 2014, After Chadwick 2015) *read offsite* *buy*
•Creator (Psaltery & Lyre November 2014, After Chadwick 2015, MCI Poets May 2020) *read offsite* *buy*
•If I had a Book of Mormon Broadway show (LDS.net [now Third Hour] Poetry Contest Finalist February 2015) *read offsite*
•Vulnerability / Intimacy (Quatrain.Fish 2015, After Chadwick 2015) *read offsite* *buy*
•Sheep (have poetry) (After Chadwick 2015, forthcoming in Wilderness Interface Zone) *buy*
•Appreciation to the first poet (After Chadwick 2015, forthcoming in Wilderness Interface Zone) *buy*
•Doline (Califragile September 2017) *read offsite*
•El Niño (Califragile September 2017) *read offsite*
•If Joseph Smith Had Been Born in California (Dialogue Fall 2017)
•Domestiku (Dialogue Fall 2017) *read offsite*
•Sonnet—for Solstice (Dialogue Fall 2017) *read offsite*
•Working Theory (American Journal of Poetry January 2018) *read offsite*
•Sixth Mass Extinction Event (Califragile May 2018) *read offsite*
Joseph and Emma Grow Old Together (Mormon Lit Blitz 2018) *read offsite*
Girls Gone Wild (Queen Mob's Tea House August 2018) *read offsite*
Sex with Tina (Queen Mob's Tea House August 2018) *read offsite*
•This Poem, If Accepted, May Cost Me $250 Million Dollars (Poets Reading the News February 2019) *read offsite*
•Reading May Swenson (Inscape Fall 2018, winner of the Fall 2018 Inscape Poetry Prize) *read offsite*
•Sweater (Dialogue Summer 2019) *read offsite*
•New and Everlasting (Dialogue Summer 2019) *read offsite*
•Bed(s) (Inscape Fall 2019)
•The squirrel that sits atop our bookshelf (Freshwater 2020) *read offsite*

•Sunstone 160 (editor, September 2010) *read offsite*
•Mormons by the Bay (SF Weekly Dec. 12–18, 2012)
•Inappropriate Book Illustrations Redeemed through the Glory of Dance (Red Fez February 2014) *read offsite*
•Served: A Missionary Comics Anthology (editor, 2018)

Essays and Criticism &c.
•Living Literature (flashquake Spring 2007)
•Saturday's Werewolf: Vestiges of the Premortal Romance in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Novels (Reading Until Dark April 2009)
•Saturday’s Werewolves: The Doctrine that Makes Stephenie Meyer’s Lycanthropes Golden Investigators (Sunstone Magazine December 2009) *read offsite*
•How to Get Over It (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*
•Communion with the Small (Wilderness Interface Zone July 2009) *read offsite*
•The Ambiguity of Excellence: Kazu Kabushi’s Daisy Kutter (Fantasy Magazine December 2009) *read offsite*
•Foreword (foreword to Cetera Desunt by Danny Nelson 2010) *buy*
•Space Opera 101: Jake Parker’s Missile Mouse (Fantasy Magazine March 2010) *read offsite*
•Annie & Kah Leong Poon (Mormon Artist April 2010) *read offsite*
•How to Become a Mormon-Comics Snob in Five Easy Steps (Sunstone Magazine September 2010) *read*
•Why Church Artists Owe Ric Estrada a Thank-You Card (Sunstone Magazine September 2010) *read*
•Pow! Zot! Amen!: Mormon Theology in Michael Allred's Madman (with Stephen Carter, Sunstone Magazine September 2010) *read*
•Ain't No Such Thing: Moving Beyond the First Series of The Lonely Polygamist Reviews (Irreantum Fall/Winter 2010) *buy*
•Orson Scott Card (Mormon Artist December 2010/January 2011) *read offsite*
•Monsters and Mormons and the Deseret Book (Monsters & Mormons 2011) *buy*
•The Bold Spirit of Bryan Mark Taylor (introduction to 200 Paintings by Bryan Mark Taylor 2012; introduction to Bryan Mark Taylor: Cities by the Sea 2013) *read offsite* *buy*
•Connecting the Generations through Disco: A review of David Clark’s The Death of a Disco Dancer (Irreantum 14.1 2012)
•Mormons in Comics (Mormons and Popular Culture: The Global Influence of an American Phenomenon 2012) *buy*
•Marital Matters (Antemoff Ebookery 2013)  *buy (free)*
•What if Mickey Mouse Isn’t Mormon? (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Summer 2013) *read offsite*
•Our Mother Who Art in Heaven (published as an introduction to "A Mother's Day Hymn in Long Meter" in A Mantle of Stars December 2013) *buy*

•Luisa Perkins (Mormon Artist November 2013) *read offsite*
•Steven L. Peck (Mormon Artist November 2013) *read offsite*
•Denise Gasser (Mormon Artist February 2014) *read offsite*
•Seriously—Why the Hell Can't You Be More Like the Nelsons? (Sunstone Summer 2015) *read offsite*
•A Cluttering of Symbol and Metaphor (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought Summer 2016) *read offsite*
•. . . then he was like, “Mind if I hang out here for a while?” (foreword to The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Part Two 2017) *buy*
•Foreword (foreword to States of Deseret 2017) *buy*
•Something Outside the Temporal (Whale Road Review Fall 2017) *read offsite*
•Fertility (forthcoming in Revising Eternity: Latter-day Saint Men and Twenty-first Century Relationships from University of Illinois Press)
•Recent collections, in three movements (forthcoming in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought)
•Dear the Last Time I Carried You Back to Bed (forthcoming at Rejection Letters)

•Saturday's Werewolf: Vestiges of the Premortal Romance in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Novels (Sunstone West Symposium March 2009; Life, the Universe and Everything Symposium February 2010)
•Mormonism and the Arts: Mormon Fiction (Berkeley Institute of Religion December 2009)
•Funny Papers: Sunstone’s Comics Issue (Sunstone West Symposium March 2011)
•Rehabilitating Nephi Anderson, a Mormon Norwegian-American Writer Lost to Assimilation (part of the panel "Nephi Anderson, Mormonism's Norwegian-American Novelist" at the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study conference May 2013) *report*
•Mormon Culture and Comic Books (Salt Lake Comic Con September 2013) *view*
•Mormonism & the Arts: Poetry (Berkeley Institute of Religion October 2013)
•Mormonism & the Arts: Fiction, literary (Berkeley Institute of Religion November 2013)
•Mormonism & the Arts: Fiction, sf/f (Berkeley Institute of Religion November 2013)
•Monsters & Mormons: Reclaiming the Peculiar (Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience April 2014)
•Representations of Mormons and Utah in Comics (Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience April 2014)
•Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century (Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience April 2014)
•Mormons in Comics (San Diego Comic-Con International July 2016)
•Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry (Bay Area Mormon Studies Council May 2018)
•Latter-day Saint Life and Literature (Stanford LDSSA Friday Forum January 2019)
•Welcome (Association for Mormon Letters Conference 2019)
•A Month of Sundays: LDS Poets Read from MoPoWriMo (Association for Mormon Letters Conference 2019)
•President's Remarks (Association for Mormon Letters Conference 2019)
•Mormons Making Comics (San Diego Comic-Con International 2019)
•The Past, Present, and Future of Literature by, for, and about Latter-day Saints (LDSPMA Conference 2019)

•Fuzzy Vision, Straight Aim (The Looking Glass 1994)
•Balaam's Sin (The Fob Bible 2009) *buy*

•President-elect (Association for Mormon Letters August 2016 – 2018)
•President (Association for Mormon Letters March 2018 – 2020)

Peculiar Pages
•The Fob Bible (primary editor) *buy*
•Out of the Mount: 19 from New Play Project (publisher only) *buy*
•Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets (initiator) *buy*
•Monsters & Mormons (co-editor) *buy*
•Dorian: A Peculiar Edition with Annotated Text & Scholarship (editor) *buy*
States of Deseret (publisher) *buy*
Seasons of Change: Stories of Transition *buy*
Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry (publisher) *buy*
Served: A Missionary Comics Anthology (editor and co-publisher with Mike Laughead Illustration)