H. L. Mencken

sorabji.com: Words: H. L. Mencken

By semillama on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 02:55 pm:

    I just came across this quote:

    "It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry."
    H.L. Mencken

    The next book on my list after I finish Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" is Mencken's "The American Language." Looking forward to it.

By Nate on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 04:26 pm:

    i want to read gravity's rainbow. i've read the first 50 pages six times now.

    have you read other pynchon?

By kazu on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 04:37 pm:

    I read gravity's rainbow a long time ago.
    it's worth it once you get past the first
    100 pages or so.

    i've read the crying of lot 49 which is
    good starter pynchon and V. also i
    ncredibly good.

    God, it's been about 6 years since
    I've read pynchon. i miss those days

    pynchon-kundera-vonnegut were my
    unholy literary trinity for a while.

    Shit. Now I want to put off my school
    work and read something else. Although
    the book I am presenting this week, *The
    Body in Pain* by Elaine Scarry is excellent
    and I highly recommend it.

By Nate on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:56 pm:

    i've read crying and vineland.

    i just finished murakami's 'wind up bird chronicle' which was really neat.

By agatha on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:45 pm:

    I LOVE HIM. Did you read "Wild Sheep Chase?"

By kazu on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:14 am:

    oooh...he sounds great

    p.s. i'm reading THREE faulkner novels this semester

By Platypus on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 03:15 am:

    Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.

    That man is a God. GOD!

By agatha on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 03:36 am:

    Can someone please assist me in finding a powerpoint background that isn't hideous? Thank you.

    Haven't read Hard Boiled Wonderland yet, but I intend to.

By semillama on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 10:33 am:

    There's a part in Gravity's Rainbow where the American character is getting fed all these atrocious British candies, and I was almost in tears, I was laughing so much.

    It probably helped, though, that our soon to be ex-employee from Canada had actually brought in Wine Jellies his mom had sent him from home and he gave us all some. He raved about them, but everyone else was like, "These are horrible!"

By Nate on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 11:49 am:

    that was my first murakami. i'll definitely be reading the others.

    turkish delight? i think that's what it was. chocolate covered rose flavored coagulated snot. nasty british nasty.

By Platypus on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 05:20 pm:

    Our grocer has a "British Foods" section, across from the Mexican foods. So you have Fry's Orange cream facing off with tamale wrappers. Anyway, there's usually a lot of strange British candy, and I've found my new treat--jellied babies.

    That's right folks.



    They come in all colours of the rainbow and are the most repulsive things I've ever tasted. They have this odd grainy texture, which combined with the fact that they look like little fetusi (fetusus?) makes them truly revolting.

    I also like that right next to the British foods section is where all the varieties of spam are kept. There's a solid shelf of Spam in all varieties.

    I also really like Louis des Bernieres, his south american trilogy is screamingly funny and great and in many ways reminds me of this place. Here. With all these people.

By semillama on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 06:56 pm:

    Jelly Babies - favorite snack of Doctor Who.

By Gee on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 10:24 am:


By semillama on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 12:33 pm:


By The Watcher on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 01:05 pm:

    I still can not believe I've lived in the Baltimore area all my life and I haven't read a single H. L. Mencken book yet.

    I've got to do it one of these days.

By Nate on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 01:22 pm:

    have you watched any john waters?

By J on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 02:07 pm:

By The Watcher on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 06:59 pm:

    I've seen a few John Waters movies.

    It's fun seeing all the places you knew when you were growing up.

By Platypus on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 08:38 pm:

By V on Friday, September 24, 2004 - 09:07 pm:

    Hi,The Watcher,watch for the troll,90% of my postings are not me,my best wishes to you and your wife.

By semillama on Monday, September 27, 2004 - 10:45 am:

    Wow, V. That 90% figure explains a LOT. How come you never mentioned this before?

By V on Tuesday, September 28, 2004 - 08:06 am:

    piss off troll

By J on Sunday, October 3, 2004 - 01:09 pm:

    I saw A Dirty Shame last tue. it was showing at 2:30 p.m. we had to park in underground parking and it took forever to find the area we were to park in.Made it just in time for the movie (missed the trailers) and had no problem getting a good seat as counting us there was all of 8 people in the audience.Well kids what can I say? It was hilarious,in a really sick and twisted way,it reminded me of his old days,I'm talking some sex crazed man fingering a pound of hamburger at the supermarket,some really bizzare fetishes are all on display and the end of the movie a new fetish was inspired.I will say that 4 out of 8 walked out at some point during the movie,leaving the whole theater to just us and another couple.The soundtrack was really bizarre.

By kazu on Sunday, July 17, 2005 - 11:23 pm:

    I just finished *Wild Sheep Chase* this evening. I
    finished *The WInd Up Bird Chronicle* (which I got
    Sem for his birthday) over the fourth of july.

    good good good stuff.

    next up: *hard boiled wonderland and the end
    of the world*

    of course, that's in between exam reading.

By droopy on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 02:04 am:

    i read "wind-up bird chronicles" a few months ago. i really loved it. but for some reason i haven't been able to commit to a book lately. i've been living off short stories.

    i recently bought:
    the collected stories and poems of e.a. poe
    the collected stories of ray bradbury
    the collected stories of jorge luis borges
    two collections of philip k. dick stories

    "wind-up bird..." makes me think of another book i've always wanted to read: "at swim-two-birds" by flann o'brien.

    every winter i make plans buy gallons of vodka, make a big pot of cabbage soup, and read nothing but russian novels. but i never get around to doing it. maybe i'll do it this winter.

By kazu on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 09:09 am:

    "at swim two birds" is good.

    i've never been able to finish it, but that's becuase of
    me, not the book.

By patrick on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 12:44 pm:

    i read a short story by Harlan Ellison recently that I enjoyed. I've been absent from reading of late because I feel perpetually tired and just want to sleep.

By dave. on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 02:24 pm:

    which story, patrick? i went through a major harlan ellison phase. i had all his stuff except maybe some obscure british publications.

By patrick on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 02:26 pm:

    Commuter Problems.

    Its from the Ellison in Wonderland book.

By droopy on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 03:00 pm:

    one of the stories in one of my pkd books is called "the story to end all stories for harlan ellison's 'dangerous visions'". it is one paragraph.

    i read my first william gibson book a while ago - "pattern recognition". i liked it, thought it was an entertaining read. a few cyber-punks i've met disagree with me.

By dave. on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 03:23 pm:

    i don't recall that one specifically, but i recall the collection.

By dave. on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 03:26 pm:

    i haven't read a book in a few years. and yet, i read all the time. fucking internet.

By platypus on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 08:58 pm:

    Droop, have you read "the elephant vanishes," which is a collection of Murakami short stories? It's some fine reading.

    I just finished reading Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince, which was, in my opinion, pretty damn good. Certainly Rowling's best effort so far. I actually read it twice because I had to redigest some of the stickier bits.

By Nate on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 11:23 pm:

    i've read the first two chapters. it seems to me the quality of her writing (mechanics) has declined? it may just be the first few chapters kind of thing.

By droopy on Monday, July 18, 2005 - 11:50 pm:

    i read the first two potter books because someone gave 'em to me. their appeal was lost on me. i was never big into the witches wizards elves etc. thing. also, i can't stand english kid's books. it's always about escaping boorish poor or middle-class society to a place in society. potter goes to the oxford-like school, dickens characters always end up under the wing of some benevolent character of good breeding.

    i was brought up on twain, london, and poe. dammit.

    i know of "elephant", platypus, but haven't gotten around to buying it. you know why i picked up "wind-up"? i was in a bookstore to redeem a gift card from christmas (i make people get me one every year). i was looking through the murakami section out of curiosity. i picked up "wind-up" out of curiosity and read the first page and thought "shit, i've read this before!" years before i'd had a subscription to "the new yorker" and they'd printed the first chapter of the book as a short story (this was before the translation came out), so i picked it up. i remember reading another murakami story in "ny", but i can't quite remember it now.

    murakami is also part of an "asian writers" kick i'd gotten on. it had something to do with needing to read things that seemed far removed from my own experience. these were three favorites:

    "the gangster we are all looking for" - le thi diem thuy
    "spider boys" - ming cher
    "waiting" - ha jin

By platypus on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 01:41 pm:

    Murakami actually has had a lot of stories published in the New Yorker. It's rather neat. I miss my New Yorker subscription now.

    I went through a huge asian writers phase a while back. I also got really into Tanizaki and Oe, who are both worth reading. (I think "Some Prefer Nettles" may be one of my favourite books ever.")

    Nate, I think that Rowling's writing has never been superb, but that the plot in Half Blood Prince is better than any of her previous books. Perhaps this is simply because it's winding towards the end and she can't afford to be such a tease anymore. Certainly everything that I predicted would happen did, but not in the way I expected it.

    I'm not actually sure why I find the books so compelling. Something about them just captured my imagination, I suppose. And a lot of other people's as well...

By heather on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 01:42 pm:

    i always thought that the quality of rowling's writing was pretty
    low and was actually getting a bit better

By Nate on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 03:36 pm:

    no, i agree that rowling's writing has never been great. certainly, these are books to read for plot. but it seems like she's trying harder or something. adding sentence complexity?

    i don't know. it has been awhile since i read the last one, so maybe i'm just at a different place as a reader. focusing more on mechanics for some reason.

By Antigone on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 04:42 pm:

    She's making the writing more sophisticated as her audience gets older.

By platypus on Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 09:11 pm:

    She's also making the plot more sophisticated. Half Blood Prince has has the most complexed and layered plot I've seen yet--there's a whole lot of stuff going on and all of it turns out to be important.

By Spider on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 05:31 pm:

    I liked it. Snape's still my boy...I have Dumbledore's faith in him. I liked meeting Narcissa and seeing Draco cry, though it still bugs that no one has learned to listen to the kids/Harry when he says trouble's brewing.

    In my experience, I'd rather read a book with great ideas and clumsy writing than a book with good writing and awful ideas (see "The Dive from Clausen's Pier" -- GOD.).

By Cat on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 09:12 pm:

By kazu on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 09:34 pm:


By agatha on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 10:03 pm:


By Antigone on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 11:06 pm:

    Sigh. You caught me.


By jack on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 11:47 pm:

    holy shit. exhibit #10 billion that self-obsession has no correlation to self-awareness. familiar, yet amazing.

By jack on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 11:54 pm:

    and that comment applies to many of the response posters as well as the original loser.

    in a way, it's amazing how much people identify with icons/avatars/ringtones and the like.

    but it also makes absolute sense, of course.

    pardon me. i've got to wash my jet fighter now.

By platypus on Thursday, July 21, 2005 - 11:58 pm:

    And here I was assuming you had founded this Cat.

    Admittedly, the Harry Potter opening party I went to also had a costume contest, which was won by a child who obviously had wealthy parents who could afford an exact replica of a Griffindor uniform. But it was well done. Alas, children must learn about classism early, as all the young girls dressed up in cloaks made of bedsheets were shunted aside for the little sprog. But he did resemble H.P. an awful lot.

    And what's up with Hermione in the movies being wicked hot? The fact that she's 15 makes it all the more awkward. Because she is. Wicked. Hot.

By agatha on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 01:17 am:

    She is pretty hot.

    I can't imagine hating anything so much that I'd join a message board just to talk about it.

    Back to the literature thing: has anyone read "White Teeth" by Zadie Smith? LOVE. IT.

By Antigone on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 01:23 am:

    I'll bet she founded this, though.

By agatha on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 01:24 am:

    Also, this is probably really old news for you all, but if you haven't read "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," you should do so immediately. Michael Chabon. It's SUPER.

By platypus on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 01:55 am:

    How about "Sacred Hunger," by Unsworth? It's superb. I just re-read it, actually.

    Right now I am reading "Made In America," which, like all Bryson, is excellent and funny and informative all at the same time.

By droopy on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 01:57 am:

    i read 'kavalier and clay'! it's one of my favorites. i remember telling spider about it, but i don't think she was interested.

    i've been meaning to tell my cousin richard about it. he likes comics.

By kazu on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 08:42 am:

    I got Kavalier and Clay for Sem for Christmas.

    I'm still on *hardboiled wonderland* which is going
    really slow because I have all this exam reading to do
    during the day.

By semillama on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 09:14 am:

    If you really like K&C, check out the Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, available at your local friendly comic book store.

    Wil Eisner's last work was doing an issue of the Escapist guest starring the Spirit.

By TBone on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 11:42 am:

    That made my day.

    Also, is it ok for a guy to admit that Hermione is hot too? I just want to check before I commit myself.

    I'm reading "Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town" by Cory Doctorow. I really liked his book "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" so I decided to check his newest out. It's great.
    The cover calls it "I miraculous novel of secrets, lies, magic -- and Internet connectivity." The main character is the son of a mountain and a washing machine.

    I like that Cory Doctorow releases his books in free downloadable form the same day they're released in bookstores.

By Spider on Friday, July 22, 2005 - 07:17 pm:

    Heh. I don't remember not being interested, but I guess I wasn't.

    I just finished Elizabeth Kostova's "The Historian," which was good, and appropriately full of history. I liked that the main characters were all either students, professors, librarians, or Dracula.

    And since I went to De Smet, SD last weekend, I am re-reading all my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I have a life-long crush on Almanzo.

By Spider on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 03:23 pm:

    I'm still thinking about Harry Potter, and I have a rather thick-headed question to ask you who have read the last book.

    Why do you think it was called "...and the Half-Blood Prince"? Why not "...and the Horcruxes" or something?

    I mean, I understand the importance [HBP] played in the book, especially at the end, but why not have all that in the book *without* the textbook and the whole HBP mystery-identity? What did that teach us about him that we couldn't already guess? Why all that emphasis and attention spent on a facet of a character that didn't really reveal anything new about him? (Except that we indirectly learned some scant things about Lily Potter in the process.)

    It puzzles me. Not in a good way.

    And I'm sore because I just read an interview with JKR in which she implies it's wrong to think that Snape is good after all, and if that turns out to be true, I'll throw out all my books, because that would be incredibly stupid of her. Oh, look, he's evil, evil, evil, wait...maybe he's...no, he's really evil. What a terrible decision. Please don't go that route, JKR.

By TBone on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 04:21 pm:

    Good points, and I have no answers. I'm going to take to the streets if she pulls a "Harry was right all along" stunt regarding Snape.

    But I don't think that's the case.

By Spider on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 05:15 pm:

    See, but she says in a very recent interview:

    MA: Oh, here’s one [from our forums] that I’ve really got to ask you. Has Snape ever been loved by anyone?

    JKR: Yes, he has, which in some ways makes him more culpable even than Voldemort, who never has.

    -- http://www.quick-quote-quill.org/articles/2005/0705-tlc_mugglenet-anelli-3.htm

    Culpable of what? I hope she means culpable of just being a jerk and not of being EVIL, or else I'll...be very unhappy.

By platypus on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 08:01 pm:

    MA: OK, big big big book six question. Is Snape evil?

    JKR: [Almost laughing] Well, you've read the book, what do you think?

    ES: She's trying to make you say it categorically.

    MA: Well, there are conspiracy theorists, and there are people who will claim -

    JKR: Cling to some desperate hope [laughter] -

    ES: Yes!

    MA: Yes!

    ES: Like certain shippers we know!

    [All laugh]

    JKR: Well, okay, I'm obviously – Harry-Snape is now as personal, if not more so, than Harry-Voldemort. I can't answer that question because it's a spoiler, isn't it, whatever I say, and obviously, it has such a huge impact on what will happen when they meet again that I can't. And let's face it, it's going to launch 10,000 theories and I'm going to get a big kick out of reading them so [laughs] I'm evil but I just like the theories, I love the theories.

    mugglenet interview read the whole thing (three parts), it's awesome.

    Spider, I've noticed that Rowling's titles are rarely integral to the plot. They relate to things in the plot, and foreshadow other titles, but aren't necessarily crucial. The half-blood prince does address a theme in the books, though, doesn't it? It's interesting that most of the titles represent objects/places (sorceror's stone, chamber of secrets, goblet of fire) or ideas, such as the order of the phoenix. Only the prisoner of azkaban and the half-blood prince were people. Both of whom appeared evil on the surface...

    That said, I think it's *really* important that Snape is the half-blood prince. We learned a bit in Order of the Phoenix about Snape's childhood (miserable) and school years (miserable). In this book we learned a lot more.

    Snape is a compelling character because you always get the sense that he doesn't belong. Now we have a better idea why--especially in Slytherin, people have very fixed ideas about wizarding geneaology. So Snape and Tom Riddle have a lot in common, in that both are not pure-bloods. I think that's really important. I think also that Snape had a deep need to prove himself because his perceived inferiority, and that is perhaps why he became so adept at potions, dark arts, and legilmancy.

    I'm not convinced he's evil yet. I read a great editorial that suggested Snape was on Snape's side, and I think that's a good way of putting it. I think that the tower scene was crucial in many ways--Snape really was in a do or die situation. I get the sense that neither he nor Dumbledore wanted Malfoy to turn into a murderer, and also that Malfoy wouldn't have murdered Dumbledore anyway. So here Snape arrives, seeing Dumbledore in theory alone, as Harry is hidden, and he's forced to make a choice--his life or Dumbledore's, essentially. Maybe he really was evil. Maybe he wasn't, and he thought he would be more valuable to the order as openly "out" against them. Maybe he was simply too afraid to die. Note that he is enraged by Harry calling him a coward...

    I think we learned some very interesting things about Snape and Lily in this book, even if all of them weren't obvious. One thing, which I think was obvious before, is that Snape is a really, really intelligent person, and probably not one to be underestimated. I doubt Rowling would have spent this much time developing such an interesting and complex character only to throw him away like this. Maybe she's just setting us up for Harry to kill him and then find out he was good after all...

By platypus on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 08:02 pm:

    Oh also, I have a lot of faith in Dumbledore. If Dumbledore trusted Snape, there's got to be a reason. I really don't think he would have been that shortsighted.

By Spider on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 09:23 pm:

    Yes. Yes!

    Do you think you could find that editorial and link to it?

    Seriously, if Snape turns out to be on the side of good in book 7, he will be the tragic hero of the series in my eyes.

    *He comes from an unloving, abusive family
    *he's brilliant at potions and creating spells
    *he's unattractive
    *the popular kids humiliate him
    *[maybe he's in love with Lily, who ends up marrying his chief tormentor]
    *he joins the Dark Side but then spies on them for Dumbledore, at tremendous personal risk -- no wonder he hates being called a coward
    *[maybe he's made an Unbreakable Vow to Lily or Dumbledore to look after Harry]
    *he's got Harry to work with, who looks (and, to Snape, acts) just like the asshole James
    *Sirius called him juvenile names as an adult (seriously...that was lame)
    *nobody loves him
    *nobody *likes* him
    *nobody trusts him but Dumbledore, who won't explain why
    *he kills the good guy [because he was compelled to], and now everyone is after him, but even after doing this, he still doesn't hurt Harry, he still remains his teacher, scolding Harry for not being better at the nonverbal spells
    *[he will probably die defending Harry, who will finally come to respect him only after Snape's death]

    Dude.....I love him.

    And you're right -- it was important to see how adept he was at magic even as a teenager. Even Harry isn't creative like that, making up his own spells and potions and things. I think Hermione has made up her own jinxes, but Harry needs to get on the ball.

By heather on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 - 10:00 pm:

    harry pretty much sucks most of the time

    i hate when there is a clean line between good and bad, as if
    that is really true and that is why the later books are becoming
    more interesting

    like how cool would it be if dumbledore killed someone and
    made his own horcrux, but he probably has to be out of the
    picture for harry to get off his ass

    i can't believe that i want to say things about this

    we always loved snape, didn't we? and i thought she was trying
    to lead us down the path that voldemort was also the half blood
    prince but then really, woohoo it's someone else that is super
    clever and never gets any recognition

    and by culpable doesn't that mean he is more responsible for his
    behavior as voldemort is pretty much an emotional child?

    why isn't hermione ever tempted by anything the least bit

By platypus on Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 01:11 am:

    She was clear from the beginning, actually, that neither Harry nor Voldemort were the half blood prince, because people kept asking her in interviews. And then they would ask if Tom Riddle was the half blood prince, because they thought they were being crafty.

    I love reading her intereviews. She's quite witty.

    I'm also glad to find someone to nerd out with over Harry Potter here, because all of my friends are being slowpokes and NOT FINISHING IT. Come on people, it's a 600 page childrens book, this should not take this long.

    There's a decent editorial exploring Snape's relative evilness here. For some reason I can't track down the article about Snape being on Snape's side, which is a pity, because it was rather good. Ah well, it will come to me.

    Heather, I do agree with you about the gray areas. I think a great weakness of the earlier books was the black and white nature of good and evil, and she's really been better about showing her readers shades of meaning. I also get the sense that Harry may engage in some pretty nasty activities in book seven, forcing her readers to consider evil acts for the greater good.

    I was also glad to see Ginny develop a bit more, although I would have liked to see her become a stronger character. I've never been a huge Ginny fan, but I feel like she's really coming into her own now. I also highly doubt that she's going to let the gleesome threesome swan about in search of Horcruxes without her.

    And whatever happened to Viktor Krum?

By platypus on Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 01:15 am:

    Also--does anyone else think it's highly entertaining that the people desperately hoping for a Harry/Hermione hookup are sending hatemail to Rowling? I mean the poor woman has done a damn good job of indicating which way the chips were going to fall...

    I mean, really, when people are writing things like this "So please, use this forum to let her know the way you feel about her comments, or point out how, why and where she went wrong in her development of the characters, or simply discuss how she will have missed a golden opportunity to tell one of the greatest love stories ever told." You know that people are taking the books a tad too seriously.

    Goodness gracious.

By TBone on Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 12:31 pm:

    I hate to go down this path because I think it makes me sound desperately optimistic, but I suspect that Dumbledore isn't really dead. His comment about how Voldemort couldn't kill you if you're already dead started the suspicion.

    I think that when Dumbledore and Snape were overheard arguing, Dumbledore was telling Snape that he had to out himself as a Voldemort supporter. He may have even told Snape that he would have to publicly kill Dumbledore.

    And Slugworth's three potions: Two of them played important parts in the story. Polyjuice and Felix Felicis were important, but what about the Draught of the Living Dead?

    Anyway, maybe this is just obvious to everyone else. I thought of Dumbledore having a Horcrux too. That would be interesting.

    If I was writing a series and being interviewed between books, I think I would generally hint that the shallowest interpretation of events was, in fact, true. It would drive people nuts, and would be the surest way of not giving anything away unintentionally.

    I'm not sure if Ginny will be able to join them on their adventure. She won't be coming of age next book. Harry may have felt better about pulling a Spiderman and telling Ginny that they couldn't be together for her safety, but I don't think it'll do any good. I'd sure like to see her in a more adventuresome role, though.

    I thought it was interesting that we didn't see Voldemort at all in this book.

By heather on Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 02:23 pm:

    i don't get the point of reading interviews to try and figure out
    what is going to be in a book. just read the freakin book.

    dumbledore as obi-wan.

    how can the creator of a book or whatever go *wrong* about
    developing it. what assholes. i hate people.

By platypus on Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 03:07 pm:

    TBone, that's an excellent point. I had sort of spaced on the draught of the living dead thing but now you've got me thinking.

    The burial scene was quite interesting--is it possible that Fawkes came to take Dumbledore away and left a firey diversion behind?

By Karla on Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 08:26 pm:

    I thought it was interesting that Harry has come to the decision that he must go after Voldemort alone, in spite of Dumbledore's advice to include his friends. He also told Harry that his capacity to love is what sets him apart from Voldemort, but what is the first thing H. does after D. dies? He dumps Ginny. He can be such a dumbass sometimes. I suspect that Harry will die in the last book. I think he and V. will both die and it will be the end of the Magical world. But maybe not.

By heather on Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 10:38 pm:

    why would it be the end of the magical world?

    do you think it's not real?

By Karla on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 11:02 am:

    It's just a theory. I think it'll be the end of the magical age (similiar to Lord of the Rings) that culminates in a cataclysmic war in which both sides (good and evil) cancel out each other and the muggles come into power. Of course that would be derivative, so maybe not. I hadn't considered the possibility that the whole thing might be a dream or delusion. That's certainly a possibility. I just can't see Rowling wrapping this thing up with Harry killing Voldemort and everyone living happily ever after.

By Spider on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 01:37 pm:

    I don't think Dumbledore would have a Horcrux, because you have to murder someone to have it (and turn to the dark side).

    But I, too, had my attention caught by the mention of the Draught of the Living Dead....also, I read someone's comment that the Avada Kedavra curse does not (as far as we've seen) cause someone's body to fly back in an arc (as Dumbledore's did) but just makes you crumple to the floor. (I don't have any books with me to check the accuracy of this statement.) But if it *is* accurate....makes you think, anyway. However, JKR has said repeatedly that in the magic world, dead is dead, and I think it would be a cheap ploy to have him out of the picture just long enough for Harry to save the world without him, and then, surprise!

    Platy, I think it may be a testament to the firmness of my conviction that Snape is not evil that I hard time following that article's arguments on the first read. Because I'm convinced that in the overall scheme of things, it would just be really stupid to create a character that is so thoroughly evil-looking when we meet him, and then we slowly get hints that he may not be evil (or may have reformed), and then he turns out to be truly evil after all. What is the point? What is the lesson that that could teach?

    During my first reading of the early "unbreakable vow" chapter, it was immediately evident to me that Snape was not aware of Voldemort and Draco's plan -- everything he says to Narcissa is vague and (to my reading) calculated to get information out of her. (Not quite as blatant as saying, "Oh, yeah, I know they've been meeting, but can you tell me where? I've forgotten." but along those lines.) And this was before I knew Snape's loyalty was questionable -- in that chapter it was clear to me that he is putting on a front for the two sisters and agreed to the Unbreakable Vow to save face (ridiculously risky and dangerous as that is.)

    And it almost defies belief that Dumbledore would have allowed him in the school if he was truly evil all this time. I know we get the message in book 6 that even smart people can be deceived and that Dumbledore's alleged weakness is that he always believes the best in people, but a), is that really such a weakness? Only to a cynic, I would say. Instead, it's Dumbledore's strength that he can look beyond a dark facade and see the light that remains underneath. And b), dude...this is Dumbledore! Snape may be an accomplished Occlumens, but surely Dumbledore is more powerful than he? Right?

    Dumbledore has said (or it's been made clear) that he has an "ironclad" reason for trusting Snape. What could this be? His sob-story about seeing the evil of his ways and repenting is *not* ironclad, even for a trusting man like Dumbledore. It's got to be something like an Unbreakable Vow or something. Maybe it was that Snape was in love with Lily, so when Voldemort killed her, it turned Snape against Voldemort for good. Or Voldemort killed whoever it is who had loved Snape (his mother?). (See, this, to me, is an ironclad reason -- you can see how someone doesn't recover from that.)

    But I have to admit, upon second reading, the article you linked to, Platy, is mighty persuasive.

    And speaking of fools' hopes, I find Ginny pretty boring and would really like to believe that Harry dumping her means we won't be seeing her in the next book. *sigh*

    Karla, you are right on about Harry's dumbassed-ness regarding his need to go alone. A long time ago, I read some commentary on fairy tales that said it's usually the case in legends that heroes do things on their own while heroines get help from their friends. (And, I have to point out, this was a pro-heroine text, the point being that several heads are usually better than one.) So I'm counting of Harry finally seeing the error of his blinkered way.

By heather on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 06:16 pm:

    the living dead thing is just a sleeping potion, no? how would it

    from the wee website:
    "Avada Kedavra
    The Killing Curse. It requires a strong bit of magic behind it; the
    incantation alone is not enough for the spell to work. When cast
    effectively, Avada Kedavra kills instantaneously, producing a
    blinding flash of green light but leaving no mark on the victim's
    body. There is no way to block or counter the Killing Curse, and
    the only people ever to survive it are Harry Potter and Tom
    Riddle. Avada Kedavra is one of the three Unforgivable Curses
    and its use against another human being is punishable by a life
    sentence in Azkaban."

    so, yeah, why did he go flying? who knows

    but i also don't think that dumbledore would be dumb enough
    to get to that horcrux and find it wasn't real. no way. never.

    anyway, the idea that the "magical world will end" or "it was just
    a dream" are really dumb cop-outs for any writing, in my

By heather on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 06:22 pm:

    i'm sorry that everything comes out all wonky, i don't know how
    to fix it

    also: when i said reading interviews...etc was dumb i was not
    referring to any of you

By TBone on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 06:38 pm:

    The end of the magical world seems a bit extreme. It was very much appropriate for LOTR for a number of reasons, but it would be pretty bizarre for the Harry Potter world.

    Harry isn't the absolute pinnacle of goodness in the magical world. He's just some kid who was protected by the love of his mother. This last book made it clear that he is Voldemort's antithesis not because of some special property of Harry's, but because Voldemort made it so through his own belief in the prophecy.

    I think the Draught of Living Death would be very useful for faking your own death. Perhaps that's what he drank in the cave where they got the locket.

    Might it be possible to cast on spell while saying the words to another? We know Snape is very skilled. Maybe he said Avada Kedavra but really cast a blow-him-off-the-castle jinx.

    Anyone else think maybe Harry's the 6th Horcrux?

By heather on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 10:31 pm:


    i did think harry was a horcrux

By lapis on Friday, July 29, 2005 - 11:14 pm:

    the scar?

By platypus on Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 12:04 am:

    Yay TBone! So do I, I must not have mentioned it up there. He's totally the Gryffindor Horcrux. So does he kill himself, or...yeah, that's going to be very interesting. And I really don't think he's going to go it alone. Not after Dumbledore told him to share everything with his friends. I believe that Harry still has sort of low self esteem, and imagined that his friends would abandon him or something. And the way the book ended--it seemed clear to me that they would be together wherever they were--on the hunt for Horcruxes, at Hogwarts, whatever.

    I would like to see more of the DA, though. I adore Luna and Neville.

    Spider, I really have to agree that I don't think Snape is ultimately evil. I think that would be a total cop-out and Rowling doesn't really write that way. I also believe that the iron-clad reason is more substantial, and that we will learn more about it in the next book...and that it may, perhaps, be related to the huge something about Lily Evans that we are supposed to hear about. I also got that faking it read on the Spinner's End chapter, and that chapter further proved to me that Snape is brilliant at manipulating people and controlling situations.

    I also kind of hope we lose Ginny. I always kept a thin hope for a Harry/Hermione pairing, and I do think Ginny is getting much better, but something about her just...irks me. I think being the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter might make her important in some way, though...And I don't think she's going to permit him to dump him. A big theme with her seems to be her frustration at not being treated as an equal because she's younger, and I imagine she will be pushy in the next book about getting in on the action. Plus, she is a damn good witch.

    I was stoked to learn more about non-verbal spells in this book. I was hoping to learn more about the process of creating a spell (I am thinking of Snape's invented spells here, especially).

By platypus on Monday, August 1, 2005 - 04:16 am:

    Furthermore, another rather intelligently written editorial on Snape can be found here.

By TBone on Monday, August 1, 2005 - 03:20 pm:

    I was hoping to learn more about inventing spells, too. I've thought a lot about what that process would be like.

By Nate on Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - 12:52 pm:

    so, given what we know of the unbreakable vow, that kind of rules out snape doing anything but killing dumbledore, doesn't it? unless that wasn't in fact malfoy's mission. if snape didn't kill dumbledore, he'd be dead himself.

    then again, dumbledore may have found a non-evil way to cheat death.

    sometimes i think that snape is tony soprano to voldamort's junior.

    if snape turns out to be actually good, that would be SO FUCKING CLICHE. i hope he's the mastermind.

    i do think harry is a horcrux. why else would he be so protected from death for so long? it would have been easy to take him out over and over again.

By Nate on Friday, January 5, 2007 - 01:23 pm:

    "the gangster we are all looking for" - le thi diem thuy


    i bought this book back when you said it was one of your favorites from your asian writer kick. i lost track of it (physically) for awhile, and found it yesterday. started reading it. i'm about halfway through it now.

    it is quite good, isn't it.

By sarah on Friday, January 5, 2007 - 04:37 pm:

    i so need a good book to read right now.

    finished Long Way Down by nick hornby on the plane ride back from hawaii. it was lent to me strictly for beach reading while on vacation, and in any other circumstance i could not see myself otherwise finishing it. not that it was bad, it just wasn't that good.

    i did what dave does at the end of every year - make a list of the books you read that year.

    not in any order:
    time traveler's wife
    a spot of bother
    human stain
    satanic verses (re-read)
    eleanor rigby
    the kite runner
    afghanistan: a military history from alexander the great to the fall of the taliban

    perhaps i should try Running With Scissors, so i can read it before the movie comes out.

    unless someone has a better suggestion.

By droopy on Friday, January 5, 2007 - 08:25 pm:

    i liked it, nate. there's something about asian writers - the brevity and quietness in the way they write. very evocative.

    i can't even remember what books i read this year, but i notice a couple of asian writers i left off that list up there:

    'grass soup', by zhang xianliang (actually a memoire; think a chinese primo levi)
    'hunger', by lan samantha chang

    there's another book i've heard good things about: 'a thousand years of good prayers' by yiyun li.

    right now i'm reading 'wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the west', by gregory maguire. it's the book the broadway musical is based on. it's not something i would've bought for myself, but i got that book and two others by him for christmas. i have to admit, though, that i've really gotten into it. anybody else read it?

By agatha on Friday, January 5, 2007 - 11:26 pm:

    I tried to listen to "Wicked" on CD, but it didn't sustain my interest. There were elements that were interesting and I liked the overall concept, but ultimately it bored me.

    Sarah, the movie is already out, but you should read it anyhow. He's one of my favorite writers. Did you get my scrabble email, by the way?

    You should also read "The Celestial Jukebox." It was my favorite book from the last third of 2006.

By agatha on Friday, January 5, 2007 - 11:27 pm:

    Oh, did we talk about "Kafka on the Shore" yet? It also ruled, and was also by Murakami. In the meantime, my hold for Lawrence Block's "Hit Parade" just came in, and I'm looking forward to reveling in the trashy hard boiled-ness of it all. I have a Lawrence Block crush.

By Nate on Friday, January 5, 2007 - 11:58 pm:

    i see they made a movie out of 'perfume'.

    it doesn't look as good as the book.

By agatha on Saturday, January 6, 2007 - 01:27 pm:

    I'm unfamiliar with that book, although it looks interesting.

    Spidey, are you going to ALA midwinter? Nelly and I are going to maybe have a meetup.

By Nate on Saturday, January 6, 2007 - 03:13 pm:

    what is ALA?

    ooo, librarians huh.

    perfume is an excellent book. i highly recommend it to anyone. don't watch the movie first. don't even watch the trailer, if you haven't already.

    i started writing my second novel. i think.

    i need to get back into murakami. i want to finally read gravity's rainbow. i have his new one coming to me.

    along with a three more cormac mccarthy books, and 'the echo maker'.

    plus my queue of books my mom gave me for christmas.

    and i have to be careful what i read, or i risk getting esoteric.

By kazu on Saturday, January 6, 2007 - 05:12 pm:

    I listened to Wicked this year. It was just okay. I also read Kafka on the Shore, which I enjoyed but not nearly as much as The Wind Up Bird Chronicle or the one about the end of the world.

    I have no time to read novels. I listened to Shalimar the Clown on the Thanksgiving drives between Atlanta and Columbus. I am currently listening to Freddy and Fredericka.

By wisper on Saturday, January 6, 2007 - 07:28 pm:

    Perfume is an amazing book. I'm giving the original German version to a friend so he can tell me if it's as witty and wonderful as the english translation.
    The movie looks just okay.

By sarah on Monday, January 8, 2007 - 02:08 pm:

    ooh yes, the celestial jukebox. thanks! the reading list is starting to form.

    this weekend i got my hands on What Is The What by
    Dave Eggers.

    kazu, have you been able to sneak in to any of Rushdie's lectures?

By kazu on Monday, January 8, 2007 - 04:55 pm:

    He hasn't done anything yet.

    He is teaching a seminar this semester but I doubt I will be able to sneak into that.

    Then he's got a public lecture coming up, which I will probably go to. I really hate big lectures, however, and try to avoid them.

By sarah on Monday, January 8, 2007 - 05:19 pm:

    thought this would interest our libriarians. this library is quite close to my house (about 3 miles away) but we have one even closer. please keep in mind that the american-statesman is a hunk of crocodile dookie and the article may be very poorly written.


    Local librarian receives New York Times award for service

    Librarian began programs for immigrants by reaching out to bring neighbors inside.

    By Suzannah Gonzales
    Monday, January 08, 2007

    When she became the managing librarian there in 1997, Stephanie Neely said, the Little Walnut Creek Branch was going through a rough patch.

    Problems with transients. Circulation not what it should have been. No materials for Vietnamese speakers at the branch library near the corner of Rundberg Lane and North Lamar Boulevard, the heart of Austin's Vietnamese community. Only about a dozen Spanish-language children's books.

    "I was in the fortunate position of going no place but up," Neely said.

    And up it went.

    The library now has more than 1,000 Vietnamese-language books, DVDs and videos and about two or three times as many materials in Spanish.

    It has basic, volunteer-taught computer classes in English, Spanish and Vietnamese and a new immigrants center with citizenship and immigration information and materials.

    The New York Times was impressed with Neely's work and granted her — along with 24 other public librarians out of more than 1,300 nominated from across the country — one of its Librarian Awards for "outstanding public service."

    Last month, Neely, who now is the managing librarian at the Ruiz Branch in Southeast Austin, attended an awards ceremony and reception in New York, where she received a $2,500 check and a plaque.

    Neely, 61, started working in the Austin library system in 1986 as a telephone information clerk at the central library.

    She worked her way up, doing stints at the former Windsor Village Branch and the Spicewood Branch before landing at Little Walnut Creek. She received the Distinguished Service Award last year.

    "I take this symbolically on behalf of my colleagues," Neely said of the Times award.

    She is modest, too humble even to discuss her accomplishments during evaluations, said Karen Baker, Neely's supervisor and an 18-year colleague who nominated her for the award.

    "I'll just sign it," Baker recalled Neely saying. "Don't even tell me. Just let me get back to work."

    "She puts in way more than 40 hours," Baker said. "It's hard to get her to go home."

    Neely, who was born in Idaho and has been a library user since she was a child in Foxboro, Mass., said she likes to be challenged and needs a lot of intellectual stimulation. She's interested in incorporating technology into libraries and holds two master's degrees: in education and library science.

    After noticing the large Vietnamese population around Little Walnut Creek and in an effort to draw more people inside, Neely talked to local business owners, buying Vietnamese-language material from them. She also worked with schools and nonprofit groups and got involved with the North Austin Civic Association, attending its meetings and creating its first Web site, even though she didn't live in the area.

    "The only way is to go out and find them," Neely said. "Let them know you're there. Let them know what you have to offer."

    "She put a friendly face on the library, just a welcoming presence," said Linda Moore, president of the association.

    Neely also has helped start Talk Time, a systemwide program for people who want to improve their English skills, and Discusión Española, a program at Ruiz for English speakers who want to practice Spanish, Baker said.

    Neely buys Asian, Spanish and English as a Second Language materials for Ruiz's collection and is the Asian language collection specialist for the library system, Baker said.

    "You know the best thing we could do?" Louis Mandle, 83, a Little Walnut Creek patron, recalled once asking Neely, who introduced the retireeto computers and helped him set up an e-mail account.

    "Clone you. We'll have 15 little Neelys just like you."

By agatha on Tuesday, January 9, 2007 - 01:00 pm:

    That's a great story. We have a talk time program at our library, but we have trouble getting people to show up consistently. I teach the computer classes. That's big fun, especially watching older folks struggle with the mouse.

By agatha on Sunday, January 14, 2007 - 07:07 pm:

    Yo, Nelly! Email me.

By kazu on Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 01:19 am:

    I'm reading Murakami again (actually, I'm reading non-parenting, non-dissertation books, which is very exciting). Currently, I am reading Norwegian Wood and I think I will read Dance, Dance, Dance after that.

By agatha on Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 12:46 pm:

    Thanks for the thread resuscitation. Good stuff! Norwegian Wood was... eh. I liked it okay, but I expect more from him and that one didn't bring it for me.

By kazu on Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 03:44 pm:

    I like it. It won't be my favorite. But I like that, so far, it's just a story about a guy and his friends/acquaintances without a lot of BIG STRANGE stuff.

By Nate on Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 05:19 pm:

    I'm reading dance dance dance right now.

    I liked Norwegian wood. you definitely have to hold it apart.
    if you crave wind up bird, wood disappoints.

By The Watcher on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 04:32 am:

    I have got to read something by Mencken one of these days.

    To much to read so little time.


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