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Family valued - 4.19.06

Classics Illustrated: The Next Generation

We here at the Family Valued monochromatic bathhouse, mobile restaurant, and misinformed pressroom have randomly selected a 10-year-old from among the one immediately available.

When I was a youth, we had something called Classics Illustrated --- comic versions of great literary works.

Yeah. Graphic Classics are these books of really good stories by really good writers and they're excerpts and they're cool. I've read two of them and I have one here from the library. I had never actually read some of these authors' stuff, so now I like them. I already liked H.G. Wells because I've seen the movie War of the Worlds --- the old one. There's this one where they exorcised this old mummy's spirit and it's really cool. Hound of the Baskervilles had this big dog and it attacked people.

When I was your age, we heard tell that people would read the comic versions instead of the originals of some of these books.

The originals actually have more flavors to them and more feeling. You can imagine them a lot better that way.

But you like the Graphic Classics?

Because they have good stories. Now I like Bram Stoker a lot, for the Lair of the White Worm mostly just because it was so awesome. It was about this worm/snake monster and it ate people.

There seem to be a lot of large monsters consuming people.

Maybe people are just scared of those things. But I like being scared. I'm a big fan of horror and science fiction. I really want to get the other Graphic Classics, like Adventure Classics and Horror Classics and Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson. I really want to get a lot of them.

--- Craig Brownlie

New daddy diary, April 12, 2006

Tess, nothing had ever challenged my rejection of fate until you came along. Inevitability is a heavy weight that leads to an unending array of quandaries. I've always felt that we're all living in a chaos of choices made and not made, providing us many opportunities to deceive ourselves that the reality we've chosen was meant to be, or that the road not taken was a dead end and fate steered us onto the right path, the only path.

As much as I love your mommy, she knows I don't believe our relationship was pre-written onto some cosmic canvas. And she's cool with that. She'd casually agree that this life thing is a long string of cause and effect that gives our lives a context. And because we can occupy only one space and one time, that context often feels like destiny. That has always made sense to me. But you had to go and mess all that up, didn't you?

The first time you smiled at me, I was struck. But I was quickly told that it was "just gas." Within a few weeks your smile was driven by more conventional motivations. Tonight, you fussed your way back into my arms, and I held you right up to my face. I asked, "What can I do, peanut?" and you were suddenly calm. You smiled the purest smile I'd ever seen. It lasted. You reached for my face and said something in your wordless language. And I was struck again, by the feeling of my entire gestalt changing. This isn't supposed to happen, kiddo. It took years of thinking and reading to develop my rigid distaste for the idea of fate. You can't just squash all that with a cute and drooly mug, you know. No way that can happen. But there I was, smiling back into your face, past your gray eyes and into the great vacuum of unknowable things, wondering if perhaps I've been wrong all this time.

--- Brandon Heffernan