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November 22, 2004

Open thread 32
Posted by Teresa at 04:01 PM *

A kamikaze sea urchin sails over his head, squeaking.

Comments on Open thread 32:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:07 PM:

Bells! Bells!

#2 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:18 PM:

Y'know, I read WHAT WOULD BUFFY DO? a few months ago, 'cause I couldn't resist the title. I wasn't looking for spiritual guidance, but I've got to say, somebody who was could do a whole lot worse than Buffy as a moral guide.

#3 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:29 PM:

They could do a lot better, too. The character of Buffy makes a lot of mistakes and does non-trivial damage to the people around her--not that this is a shock, given that she's (1) a teenager (2) with superpowers.

If you want a real "moral guide" from among that ensemble of characters, I'd say your better bet is Xander.

#4 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:31 PM:

Catie, I've recommended it to several people. Sometimes as a deliberate subversion, because they're big Buffy fans who *I* think need spiritual guidance...

And people always think I'm making it up when I talk about the Great Vowel Shift. Thanks for linking to something that PROVES I'M NOT LYING.

#5 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:33 PM:

Whoops, I misread. I think the BOOK is a pretty good source for spiritual guidance. I thought Catie meant the series, not the character, even so.

One of the great things about Buffy (the series as opposed to Buffy, the person) is that all their actions have consequences. Do something bad, it comes and bites you, episodes and episodes later. And people don't just forget everything by the next episode like they do in lesser series.

#6 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:40 PM:

Patrick: A freind of mine believes almost the opposite about Xander. She points out that Xander tends to duck the final responsibility for a problem and let Buffy handle the actual troublesome parts. I don't know if I buy it, especially since the "troublesome parts" tend to require superpowers, but there it is.

#7 ::: ben ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:45 PM:

Grist for the mill?

http://www.storysouth.com/fall2004/shortshorts.html

#8 ::: ElizabethVomMarlowe ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 04:48 PM:

The thing I like best about the Buffy-verse is the way it often takes the whole community to save the world. Including book geeks and donut runners. I see this in Firefly too.

#9 ::: Jakob ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 05:11 PM:

Two questions that I'm sure the commenters on this weblog will be able to answer:

Is the halo as an artistic signifier of divinity of Christian origin? I was in the Louvre a while back, and saw a 3rd-4th century AD mosaic of what I thought was two saints with haloes. It turned out they were in fact Neptune and Venus. As Christian art was already producing be-haloed icons and the like at the time, were they influenced by an older Roman tradition, or vice versa?

And the question the second:

I managed to get a copy of our beloved hostess's Making Book at the (wonderful) Fantasy Bookcentre here in London. I was interested to see that in the essay 'on copyediting', Teresa made the point that proofreader's and copyeditor's marks were distinct. What is the difference? Here in the UK, the British Standard (BS 5261-2) would suggest that proofreader's marks are simply a subset of copyeditor's marks. Is this simply British perversity, or can someone enlighten me?

Ta,

-Jakob

#10 ::: Anne KG Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 05:12 PM:

I will be taking the role of Buffy in a Rocky-style cast version of the musical episode of Buffy at Penguicon this year. I doubt my shoulder, which I injured in February, will be in good enough shape to do the flips, but we'll do much of the choreography. I do find myself wondering if the person playing Giles will actually end up throwing anything at me onstage.

Hopefully not sea urchins...

#11 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 05:13 PM:

Music of the sort that might appeal to those reading this:

http://www.jonathancoulton.com/

Sample lyrics:

(From "Skullcrusher Mountain")

I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you
But I get the feeling that you don't like it
What's with all the screaming?
You like monkeys, you like ponies
Maybe you don't like monsters so much
Maybe I used too many monkeys
Isn't it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?

(From "Mandelbrot Set")

I hate the Peano Space and the Koch Curve
I fear the Cantor Ternary Set And the Sierpinski Gasket makes me want to cry

(Apologies to those who have seen me promoting this on my livejournal. It's just that I like it, not that I have any connection to the site, the musician, or anything of that sort.)

#12 ::: Seth Morris ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 05:47 PM:

Two quick comments, one disguised as question:

Any chance of ever getting a full RSS feed instead of/in addition to the "just the first line" version? I miss so many posts because I'm not always online when I'm reading my aggregator.

Also, at least one of my comments here or on Electrolight recently dissapeared/failed to post. I don't know if it was caused by a) my error, b) a technical issue, c) me inadvertently breaking some rule of etiquette, or d) an unholy combination of all three.

If it was a, go ahead and laught at me. It it was b, please be advised. If it was c, I apologize. If it was d, feel free to kick me while I'm down.

#13 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 06:00 PM:

My wife rewarded my dedication this quarter in spite of multiple family emergencies and a Major Medical Crisis by purchasing Half Life 2 for me after my last final exam was completed.......


It's been a while since a video game just left me in awe.... the game is drop dead GORGEOUS. The story's a bit sparse in parts, but the physics in the gameplay make up for it....

#14 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 06:14 PM:

I actually would have to agree Xander's a good example, if any single character is.

But ultimately, I would have to say it's the group as a whole that should be considered the good example. Everyone's got their part, and their own way of dealing with screwing up (or their friends' screwups), and the cohesive unit (when it is) is a marvelous example of what can happen when you really have friends you can trust.

Which I am thankful to say I do.

#15 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 06:15 PM:

Spines held in trembling anticipation
as it hurtles towards the unprotected neck
of the sushi-ko.

#16 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 06:51 PM:

For the record: I haven't seen a complete episode of Buffy. My wife started following Angel in the 3rd season, and we acquired the DVD sets for completeness purposes.

#17 ::: JamesG ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 07:07 PM:

The Buffy series officially lost me when they had the musical episode. My wife teased me unmercifully for enduring the entire thing. She insists that it is one thing to watch Buffy and quite another to enjoy musicals, but never the two should mix.

#18 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Alter S. Reiss:

Or, to make the hotlinked version, for the sake of the pretty pictures:

I hate the Peano Space and the Koch Curve
I fear the Cantor Ternary Set And the Sierpinski Gasket makes me want to cry...

#19 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 07:28 PM:

Seriously, a genuine Journalist emailed me needing the answer ASAP, so I posted it on Open Thread 31, and the thread was replaced by this new one:

"I'm trying to locate a story about football players who seize control of a stadium and machine-gun the fans for vengeful fun. Probably 1950s in Galaxy. Do you happen to remember it?"

I swear that I've read this in an anthology, too. But where? *sound of brains being racked*

#20 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 07:41 PM:

Otaku Barbie is so wrong in so many different ways. I want one! No Cosplay Ken, though.

#21 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 08:12 PM:

Jonathan's pal writes:

"I'm trying to locate a story about football players who seize control of a stadium and machine-gun the fans for vengeful fun. Probably 1950s in Galaxy. Do you happen to remember it?"

This is probably not Norman Spinrad's "The National Pastime," a Seventies story concerning the invention of a "combat football" league to feed the fans' appetite for violence. (No, not those fans.) But I mention it, just in case.

#22 ::: Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 08:29 PM:

Jakob, as the guy who's Buffyed out, I'm glad to answer your question: Halos, like much Greek, Jewish, and Christian iconography, were borrowed from the Persians, the world power before Alexander and no slouches through their Parthian incarnation. Ahura Mazda was identified with light, so the halo could've come from the monotheistic phase of the religion, or, more likely, it's a sign of being blessed by Mithra, the sun god who became Ahura Mazda's son and helper in the later polytheistic phase. (Don't get me going on Mithra's virgin birth and his rising from the dead, or the existence of Spenta Mainyu, the holy spirit who completed the later Zoroastrian trinity, or the presence in Rome of a male Mithraic cult in Rome that was led by a "Father," or Pope, or Constantine's interesting merger of the worship of Mithra as Sol Invictus and Jesus.

Remember, God works in mysterious ways.

#23 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 08:31 PM:

A kamikaze sea urchin sails over his head, squeaking.

I bought this yesterday, and read half of it waiting for the Giants game to come on. What an extremely odd book. Fun, though.

"The obvious place to look is a center of personal and social decay."

"What, Los Angeles?"

#24 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 09:11 PM:

Seth, if you or anyone else had a comment fail to post, chalk it up to predictable glitches as we shake down our MT3 installation. If all else fails, send it to pnh@panix.com and I'll personally wedge the comment in with a crowbar.

#25 ::: Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 09:19 PM:

Jonathan Coulton, yes, yes! I can confirm for Alter that the stuff that isn't free is also fabulous. Some of my favorites are the off-kilter love songs, like "First of May" and "Millionaire Girlfriend". The first of those rhymes "in flagrante delicto" in a lovely ode to outdoor sex; the second is about a married man's search for a millionaire girlfriend who will make his life complete -- "when I finally find her, I'll get permission from the wife".

That line about ruining a pony has become part of my household's idiolect.

#26 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 22, 2004, 09:47 PM:

BUFFY may not be a great spiritual font, but it's a great show to watch with a pre-adolescent or early adolescent daughter. The conversations which have arisen therefrom have been fascinating.

(And I'm still trying to wrap my head around Eliza Dushku (Faith) as a nice Mormon girl. Hmm.)

#27 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 12:32 AM:

[tangent] I definitely remember posting at least one entry on a knitting topic somewhere about the group called "Wrap With Love" that asked, about 2-3 years ago, on a local ABC radio breakfast programme if any of the listeners could help them by either donating knitting yarn or knitting some squares or help them sew the squares into wraps, which are sent to different places as charity. This evolved into a whole community effort, culminating in an annual early-morning "knit-in" at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation HQ in Ultimo (Sydney). In the second year they had a webcam, and a "knit-in" was held in several towns around the State (New South Wales) and in both they posted photos of the event and of wraps (or rugs or afghans) on the ABC website, as linked above.

Except I can't find that post - hence the links & summary above. This post was a follow-up, with something of a variation on the theme. You may have noted the Made with Love by a Liberal group(s) in the USA, with a sort-of similar idea.

Tie Quilt for the NSW Cancer Council.
Angela Catterns, Monday, 22 November 2004: Back in May we had a email from a listener, Julia, asking for help ...

"I am a quilter and have a group of six fellow quilters that meet at my house every week. We offered to make a Queensize Bed Quilt using Mens Ties as the main fabric ... If ... your listeners could mail any Ties (clean) we would be most grateful...
Any ties we have left will go into making quilts for kids at Westmead Hospital in their Quilts For Keeps Program. They are always wanting quilts for older kids especially boys."

the project is now complete and the tie quilt has been donated to the Cancer Council for their fundraising auction next year.[/tangent]
Back to Buffy & sea-urchin haiku.

#28 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:31 AM:

I have been reading a book called "In Search of the World's Worst Writers" by Nick Page. I was skipping around in it and doing pretty well until I hit the entry for Amanda McKittrick Ross (who is rated as worse than MacGonagall!) Her prose is amazing and horrifying, but it's her poetry that's messed up my head: she wrote a typical-of-the-period WWI poem called "A Little Belgian Orphan," and as I read it I realized it can be sung to "Bell Bottomed Trousers."

Ugh.

I'd rather be stuck singing "Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me" to "The Yellow Rose of Texas" for the rest of the year than be stuck with this piece of slop for the rest of the week...

#29 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:44 AM:

I have a question here that's a bit odd, but perhaps someone can steer me in the right direction: if it were a general firearms question I'd ask our hostess--unless it involved black powder shooting, which my sister is an expert at.

Anyway, the pocket knife I was given for my 21st birthday was stolen awhile ago and it's turned out to have been in production for only a couple of years and they *NEVER* end up on eBay. (It was the model known as Kershaw Pocket Jewelry--it had a beautiful fake tortoiseshell handle, which is probably why it's gone away.) I need advice on a good pocketknife for the times I don't need all the stuff on my Gerber Multi-Tool, since my current temp job has me opening the Gerber up twelve times a day. I was considering a pocketknife kit, but thought I'd ask here first: there are some pretty *creepy* knife fans out there, and this is one of the least creepy places on the WWW that I know of...

#30 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 02:45 AM:

Incidentally, since the upgrade to MT 3 I notice that posting goes much faster.

#31 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 04:47 AM:

Your best folding knives are your Buck Ranger or your Buck Folding Hunter. IMHO.

#32 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 06:14 AM:

Chad - which book is this? Sounds like it might be worth a read.

Madeleine - are you saying that the actress is Mormon, or another character she's now playing?

#33 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 07:03 AM:

Wow, the Death by Overwork link -- which is pictures of well-dressed Japanese businessmen =deeply= asleep on public transportation or on the sidewalk (or worse, at the base of a stairway or in one case on an actual street) is the most disturbing set of photographs I've seen since running across Weegee's photographs taken with an 'invisible' infrared flash. There's something so different about photographs taken without the person's knowledge -- not just that it's intrusive, but that it captures a person as they actually are, instead of how they present themselves to others.

#34 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 07:49 AM:

Chad - which book is this? Sounds like it might be worth a read.

It's Bad Magic by Stephan Zielinski. It's got one of the best taglines ever: "There are some things people weren't meant to know. Some people know those things anyway. Sucks to be them."

I finished it last night. Definitely worth a read.

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:07 AM:

Jakob, copyediting and proofreading marks are like two dialects of the same language. Copyediting marks are used to mark up double-spaced typescript; i.e., the manuscript. Proofreading marks are queer and crabbed, and are used to make corrections in tightly set lines of type.

Say you need to insert hyphens at four places in a single line. If you're copyediting, you write in what looks like an equals sign at each spot. (We use an equals sign to mark hyphens.) Just above the line to either side of your marked hyphen you put little marks like parentheses turned sideways (curve up, ends down), indicating that the hyhphen shall lig up -- that is, that there shall be no space between the hyphen and the adjacent words. However, if you're doing the same thing in a typeset line, each inserted hyphen is marked with little caret, ^, just below but infracting the baseline of the type. If there are no other corrections on that line, what you'd mark in the margin would be the equals sign with the caret under it and the ligs above and to either side of it. Outward from this would be four slants, ////, meaning "do it four times," and beyond that would be a circled PE, EA, or AA, to show who gets charged for that correction.

It only seems complicated when you have to write it all out.

#36 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:14 AM:

Paul, Eliza Dushku (who played Faith) was raised Mormon in Massachussets.

David, I gather that Movable Type 3 does a better job of running various housekeeping processes in the background while returning control to the user more quickly. Certainly from the administrators' viewpoint that appears to be true.

#37 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:45 AM:

Paula, just wait until I get up the courage to post the third link I got from Isaac. As he said, it makes you want to wash your eyes out.

Will, I don't think you want to plant a flag on that particular piece of terrain. All I'll say is that it doesn't come as news to me, and I'm not worried about it.

Mad, it makes perfect sense to me. I may be imposing my own reading here, but it seems to me that she has a real appreciation of the joys of Being Bad.

Whoops, time to run, one-on-ones today.

#38 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:53 AM:

If you want a real "moral guide" from among that ensemble of characters, I'd say your better bet is Xander.

ick. Maybe season 1 Xander, but it's all downhill after that. I'm probably biased because I'm a Spike redemptionist. Although I thought Angel got to say the best "moral value" line, something like: "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do."

(Don't get me going on Mithra's virgin birth and his rising from the dead, or the existence of Spenta Mainyu, the holy spirit who completed the later Zoroastrian trinity, or the presence in Rome of a male Mithraic cult in Rome that was led by a "Father," or Pope, or Constantine's interesting merger of the worship of Mithra as Sol Invictus and Jesus.

But that sounds fascinating -- please do go on.
And what do you think of the assertion that Constantine's conversion to Christianity was politically motivated -- under One True God it made sense to have One Emperor.

#39 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 09:33 AM:

Catie Murphy writes :"Y'know, I read WHAT WOULD BUFFY DO? a few months ago, 'cause I couldn't resist the title. I wasn't looking for spiritual guidance, but I've got to say, somebody who was could do a whole lot worse than Buffy as a moral guide."

Back in late 2001, a serious paper was released which used Buffy as a guide to how the US should respond to the threat of chem/bio weapons.

http://www.csis.org/burke/hd/reports/Buffy012902.pdf

Biological Warfare and the "Buffy Paradigm", Anthony H. Cordesman, Arlegh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies. September 29, 2001

#40 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 09:38 AM:

It is incredibly tormenting to have to skim comments in fear of finding something spoilery. (Started watching Buffy this year--midway through S4, midway through Angel S1).

I may be perverse, but so far Faith is my favourite character. (Note: I've seen "This Year's Girl," but none of the ones after it.) Maybe because the ways in which she's messed-up remind me of myself at a younger and stupider age, if I'd been rather more reckless. (Or braver, take your pick.)

I think the deeply asleep Japanese businessmen should get together and confer with the deeply asleep Korean businessmen on the Seoul subway...

And Chad-person, is _Bad Magic_ really truly out, or do you have your hands on an ARC? *hops up and down impatiently* I wonder if I can coerce my in-laws/husband into letting me borrow a car and ransacking searching the local bookstores for it! Want to read! Want to read!

*ignoring the fact that she has something like 50 books to ship home from this in-law sojourn alone*

#41 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 10:09 AM:

Will: I think C.S. Lewis had the perfect answer to that one: "So much the better for the pagans." Or the Zoroastrians in this case.

#42 ::: Rod ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 10:56 AM:

But where would a sea urchin get a Mitsubishi Zero, is what I want to know.

#43 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 11:22 AM:

There's an interesting article today in the Wash. Post (may need bugmenot.com) regarding two guys who are trying to put together tours of Va. Civil War sites that tell the stories of the black soldier who fought in the war.

Yoon, it's possible that Chad got the last _Bad Magic_ at Borders, as their online inventory shows it as "order" at both Clifton Park & Albany. Don't know about B&N, though.

#44 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 11:34 AM:

"Maybe season 1 Xander, but it's all downhill after that. I'm probably biased because I'm a Spike redemptionist."

I'm not following this; I don't see where the contradiction is.

#45 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 12:18 PM:

For folding knives I strongly suggest looking at A.G. Russell - he's seldom the cheapest place to buy but he does have a good guarantee. I'd say the Buck 110 is belt knife rather than a pocket knife.

My carry is Russell's original one hand knife which perhaps sacrifices a little in the blade steel (AUS-8 rather than a super steel) but is both handy and a conversation piece. For pocket jewelry of course the William Henry line or for costume jewelry one of Lone Wolf's reborn Paul Knives with an exotic onlay.

#46 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 12:35 PM:

A Buck 110 Folding Hunter is what I carry in my right hip pocket.

#47 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 12:42 PM:

For a nice all-purpose pocket knife, you can't go wrong with the Spyderco Delica. Good ergonomics, good price, wonderful blade geometry, and lightweight as well.

Also good choices in that range: the Benchmade mini-AFCK; the Benchmade Griptilian; the Spyderco Calypso Jr. Lightweight; the Kershaw Ken Onion Leek.

And a good place to buy them -- www.knifecenter.com.

#48 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 12:55 PM:

I've always thought Xander was the secret point of view character of the series: he's the Everyman who never quite gets used to the weirdness, and who has the moral center. He doesn't shirk responsibility -- he rises to the occasion, except for that marriage thing (which I thought was non-canonical, and I stopped watching about then anyway, feeling that the series had lived beyond its lifespan). He expresses the trepidation that his comrades don't always have the wit to recognize, but that's not failing to live up to responsibility: that's setting the stage for true bravery.

Spike's redemption, and Angel's, are both very interesting, but in both cases, the fact that the series went on obviously longer than originally planned eventually dulled those stories.

The success of a series is not a good reason to prolong it indefinitely. I really think a series should be thought out for a defined period, and shoujld be ended when it was originally meant to end, no matter what happens. If you want to go on, you should design a new series, also with its ending defined and planned for.

#49 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 12:56 PM:

I'm not following this; I don't see where the contradiction is.

Short answer: Because Xander was always mean to Spike.

Longer answer: Spike redemptionists rooted for Spike becoming good through his own actions and choices (which he did, thanks be to Joss). Xander always seemed to go with the (cough*Watcher-propaganda*cough) view that soulless means unreedemable. The way he conducted himself with Anya also icky. For a lot of Spike fans, it had sort of racist (demonist? humanist?) undertones.

Going back to the question -- is "good" something you are or something you do?

(Although I admit I loved the slashy goodness of Spike and Xander sharing a basement in season 4. :) )

#50 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:00 PM:

Oh, I get it. Well, yes. I wasn't saying that the character of Xander is perfect. But he is notably unselfish at some very costly moments.

I certainly agree that one of the appealing things about BtVS is the Spike arc, and the way it avoided all kinds of easy moral pitfalls.

#51 ::: Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:01 PM:

Teresa and Jo, no flags here. Just passing along what I've read. My concept of God is big enough to include the possibility that the Catholics have it right, and part of getting it right was using the best bits from other sources.

Mayakda, to be precise, Constantine didn't convert until he was on his death bed. Whether that meant he saw the light then or he just wanted the priests to quit bugging him, who knows? Before then, he essentially said, "Look, Mithra and Jesus are names for the one god, so you Christians go worship on the Invincible Sun's day and quit disturbing my empire."

The "many names for the one god" approach also goes back to the Persians. Cyrus, a Zoroastrian that the Bible calls a Messiah, could tell the Jews to build (or rebuild, depending on your take) a temple to the one true god under the name of Yahweh, and he could tell the Babylonians that he conquered them to restore the rule of Marduk, another name of the one god-- It's definitely smart politics. And good religion, if you ignore the element of force.

#52 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:06 PM:

I don't even have a copy of Bad Magic. This is what comes of having a book's pubdate fall right in the middle of moving office. The author got his boxful before I ever saw one, and the one I did see was earmarked for someone else. I have faith that there's a carton of them around here somewhere.

Bruce, the world's worst writers don't get published, and few of them are as amusingly bad as Amanda McKittrick Ross or William McGonagall. In the meantime, if you can't get Ms. Ross's poetry out of your head, Longfellow's Excelsior goes very nicely to the Underdog theme song.

If you asked me a question about firearms, I'd refer it to the same person who answered your question about knives. But Jim, for all his many virtues, is not as big a knife junkie as I am. So: what are you looking for in a knife? How big, how durable, how pretty, what are you going to do with it, and what's your budget?

Connie, what I found most disturbing about the photos was the sheer helpless exhaustion. It's the kind of thing you read about soldiers doing in the vicinity of battle, falling asleep in their tracks the moment they stop moving. That shouldn't be happening to prosperous white-collar employees when there isn't a major emergency in progress. It speaks volumes about social pressure to demonstrate one's devotion to one's job.

Mayakda, Whedon has an obvious urge to redeem all his characters, and he's very solid on the long-term interconnection of action, habit, and personal character. In the Buffy universe, doing good takes a lot of work, and redemption is a long slow process, but the deck is stacked (slightly) in your favor, because creation is inherently good. Being seriously evil takes commitment. An evil character who interacts with creation (usually in the form of his or her fellow creatures) can be seduced, backsliding into good. Thus Spike, clear back in the second season:

"We like to talk big. Vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' That's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got... dog racing, Manchester United. And you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here."
I think my favorite theme of his is that no matter how grim the circumstances in which you find yourself, or how little you're at fault for being in them, if you respond by becoming a monster, you're still a monster.

#53 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:24 PM:

Teresa:

The world's worst writers can still be wonderful people. To my family, familar with his work and backstory, William McGonagall was a "great soul."

It goes beyond his lack of awareness that his work lacked literary merit, though it sometimes had the advantage of being timely (in a blog-versal way).

He was convinced that he was a Great Writer, and was immune to others who suggested a lack of agreement with his Unique Artistic Vision.

People played cruel jokes on him. For instance, he was told that the Queen desired a Command Performance from him. Impovershed as he was, he walked from Scotland to England, only to find that he'd been duped.

But these did not dampen his cheerful spirit, let alone slow his writing. To me, this is a sign of a very healthy Self Image, which I would not consider pathological.

There is also a chapter about The World's Worst Actor in that book about people who were once famous, but about whom almost nobody today has a clue. Dang, what's that book's name? It's wonderful. The most famous painter in the world, bankrupted by P.T. Barnum...

#54 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:28 PM:

Longer answer: Spike redemptionists rooted for Spike becoming good through his own actions and choices (which he did, thanks be to Joss). Xander always seemed to go with the (cough*Watcher-propaganda*cough) view that soulless means unreedemable.

Spike ultimately came to the same conclusion. And he could NOT, ultimately, be redeemed without one; remember his attempted rape of Buffy? That's why he went off to get his soul back. Once he had it, he could at least try to be a decent person; all his efforts -- and they were mighty -- failed before that.

Only trouble was, he didn't realize how much having a soul hurts.

#55 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:46 PM:

On haloes.

Living persons get square halos. Dead persons get round ones. God the Father gets a triangular one. Haloes are usually gold. The only time I've ever seen a black one represented was on Judas Iscariot.

#56 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:53 PM:

And Chad-person, is _Bad Magic_ really truly out, or do you have your hands on an ARC? *hops up and down impatiently*

It's a real, finished book (complete with strange academic appendix), but it was the only copy they had on hand at the Wolf Road Borders. I was actually pulled partway out from the shelf, as if someone had left it that way to remind them to pick it up, but nobody hollered when I took it, so it's mine now.

If you decide to go looking, I'd recommend trying Flights of Fantasy in Latham (http://www.fof.net/), which is probably the local place most likely to have it. The Wolf Road B&N is another possibility, but the Niskayuna B&N and the Clifton Park Borders are both terrible.

#57 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:55 PM:

Re: Spike and Xander

Of course, let's not forget that Xander has also tried to rape Buffy--back in the episode where he was possessed by the spirit of a Hyena.

He has also lied to her--most direly when he fails to tell her that Willow is going to try to put Angel's soul back--an action that contributes to Buffy's having to kill Angel and send him to hell.

I think that some of the anti-Xander backlash (with which, I confess, I sympathize) is because some fans feel that what Teresa has aptly characterized as Whedon's being "very solid on the long-term interconnection of action, habit, and personal character" tends to fall apart when we get to Xander.

#58 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:56 PM:

completely non sequitor, and perhaps someone has posted it already, but this is an interesting red/blue map.

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/

non sequitor 2: I thought halos originated from keeping birds from roosting on statues.

non sequitor c: what's this red button do?

#59 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 01:56 PM:

I wasn't saying that the character of Xander is perfect. But he is notably unselfish at some very costly moments.

I'll agree with that. He had some knee-jerk issues, but he was, for the most part, the heart of the group.

I think my favorite theme of his is that no matter how grim the circumstances in which you find yourself, or how little you're at fault for being in them, if you respond by becoming a monster, you're still a monster.

I quoted that just because loved reading that. Exactly right.

to be precise, Constantine didn't convert until he was on his death bed
Will, wasn't it common (then) for converts to delay baptism until the deathbed so as to enter heaven washed clean of all sin?

But granting he didn't actually convert until his deathbed, while he lived Christian bishops became powerful political figures due to his sponsorship. I guess here's the question -- how come he didn't pick Mithraism to be the state religion then? Why bother syncretizing with Christianity? I guess that's one of those "we'll never know" things.

#60 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 02:17 PM:

Can one speak of his soul back in which case is it the soul of William the Poet xor Spike the Vampire, non-exclusive or or both simultaneously in one soul?

Some say Spike went off not necessarily to get his soul back; sounds a lot like Robert Graves there - is the Jossverse as much a mixture as Grave's tales?

Is the Vamp an invader or is it Jekyll and Hyde duality (doppelgangers seem to have a duality too?)?

Is the Vamp more like being slug ridden (similar amusements in the uncut version too) in Puppet Masters? See e.g. where Mary/Aluquere while hag ridden apparently resists while fighting Sam/Elihu - does one have a moral obligation not to kill the slug ridden or is it euthanasia or self defense?

This question comes up particularly with respect to Spike. Spike had a long time quest to make his people/toys destroy the bodies of their loved ones (more explicitly in the comic books).

For myself I can't think of the series as a series that jumped the shark at any particular point.

Although a given arc could be quite entertaining the "she turned on her left side" kind of world building continuity puzzles seemed to me to have contradictory incluing and annoying retconning

(granting the good foreshadowing but I suspect that was accomplished with hindsight not foresight)

so I mostly take the stories as rep company or shared universe or quantum cat variations on a theme.

Be quite interested to hear more from folks who are happy with the cannon/mythology to the end or up to a point or between 2 points.

#61 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 03:06 PM:

Barbara Goss just asked me:

"[I'm] trying to locate a title published in the 70s i believe ... "last breath" maybe? the world is about to end, literally ... something happens at the last minute and the "clock" is reset ... i think the book ends with a tire being burned on a beach ... good grief, that's not much to go on, is it? i work with teenagers ... my brain is dead!"

=================================================
Where one begins by burning books
One will end up burning people.
--Heinrich Heine
=================================================

#62 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 03:21 PM:

Souls are tricky things to pin down in the Buffyverse. By folklore, vampires should be soul-less, yet Buffyverse vampires aren't the automatons we might expect. Quite the contrary, even newly risen vampires can have distinct personalities.

And then there's the matter of the Slayer soul. Pre-Faith, I understood it to be passed on from slayer to slayer at the moment of death, yet not displacing the new slayer's original soul. But with Buffy's first death the slayer-soul got passed on, and yet remained with Buffy. Truly ineffable.

Thanks to the BBC's eccentric programming of the last series, I never quite caught the explanation for how all potential slayers got awoken, but I guess it had something to do with the post-Faith realisation that souls could be split.

So it seems likely that in the Buffyverse, souls, while immortal and intangible, are not unchangeable. That they may be split, combined, or even stored in jars without losing their efficacy. (Soul preserve, anyone?)

I wonder how well this accords with Christian -- or any other religion's -- stand on soul metaphysics?

#63 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 03:26 PM:

conundrum:

I've written a short story about book-burning. One of my lines reads:

"If they're burning books now, they'll be burning people next."

I hadn't heard of Heinrich Heine until this open thread.

What do writers do when they encounter something like this?

#64 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 03:27 PM:

My working theory is that all the claims about souls propounded by all the people and factions of the Buffyverse are, in different ways, wrong.

As I said, one of the pleasures of the storyline is the way that what we had previously taken as metaphysical givens so frequently turn out to be somebody or other's self-serving dogma.

Mind you, I'm not trying to make a multi-author collaboratively-written TV show live up to greater claims for metaphysical coherence than such a thing can bear. But I do think Whedon had in mind from early on that a lot of things we're initially told would turn out to be wrong. TV is actually well-suited to this particular flavor of dramatic irony.

#66 ::: Andrew Debly ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 03:43 PM:

Hello,

I have checked many publishers' submission guidelines but haven't seen any reference to British vs. American English.

Would a manuscript written in British English be at a disadvantage when submitted to an American publisher? My guess is that the quality of the manuscript is all that matters, but I'd like to get know for sure.

#67 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 03:47 PM:

Speaking as an acquiring editor, I couldn't care less whether a submission is in "American" or "British" English.

The only times it matters are when the idioms of one are put inappropriately into dialogue spoken by the other, with no plausible justification. But that's easily fixed 99.99% of the time.

#68 ::: Andrew Debly ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 03:58 PM:

A reply in under five minutes! Now that's service. :)

Just as I thought. Quality is what counts. (And I should have double checked my previous post for errors. I'm lame.)

Thanks, Patrick!


#69 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 04:06 PM:

Tangentially, while looking at Mr. MacDonald's Buck links, I found this:

United Lord Of The Rings Fighting Knives of Legolas Scabbards

#70 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 04:09 PM:

But where would a sea urchin get a Mitsubishi Zero, is what I want to know.

There are plenty of them at the bottom of the Pacific. Getting them to fly again is the tricky part, but they don't need to stay up for very long...

#71 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 05:01 PM:

*sigh*

Why do all the interesting forums eventually spin off into Buffy threads?

I'm going to back the Buck knife supporters. I've loved the Buck folders I've used, and my BuckTool is still my favorite Multitool (although the new SwissArmy's that integrate USB drives are very drool-worthy). I've also carried a Frost Bulldog mini-folder with a fossilized walrus tusk handle in my wallet/pouch for 12 years, and it's been an awesome little knife. Sadly, the scrimshawed warrior maiden holding a flail on the handle is almost worn to invisibility, and I'm not sure if my abilities are sufficient to resurrect her.

#72 ::: Jenett ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 05:03 PM:

As we've gotten into editing questions, I have one, and would be most grateful for any advice.

I've been working on a non-fiction book (esoteric non-fiction, specifically about research in the general Pagan community and how to do it better.)

[Note: The organization of said book owes something I can't explain to Elise Matthesen having handed me Making Book while I was in the middle of writing it, and telling me firmly to read the last essay. I couldn't for the life of me tell you exactly why it made it a better book. I'm just glad it did.]

I'm in the editing stages now, and have a copy of the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style coming home with me this weekend from work.(I work in a well-stocked private high school library as a paraprofessional.)

How best to use it? Start at page 1 of the book, and look through the MoS for anything I have questions about? Start at page 1 of the MoS (skipping the parts that obviously have no immediate relevance) and work through the book?

I'm particularly trying to sort out consistency with things like referring to other chapters, the whole email/e-mail, web page/site term preferences, and punctuation.

My parents were English and raised in the UK respectively, and while spellcheck programs catch the assorted British spellings I still use, I know I do non-American things with my punctuation at times. I just can't always tell when.

So, wise people with editing experience, how to make best use of my time? (I'll gladly listen to other editing advice too.)

#73 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 05:09 PM:

People who want to check the on-shelf availablity of various books at physical Borders bookstores can go here.

Bad Magic is outstanding.

#74 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 05:38 PM:

Some of the "variable" constants in Buffy/Angel continuity just throw me out of the story.

Vampires eating ordinary food: a tremendous big deal for Angel in the episode where he becomes human for a day. (Rediscovering the pleasure of eating chocolate is an important signifier of what it means to be "alive" rather than "undead.") Eating is nothing at all for Spike. He drinks beer and scarfs cheeseburgers all the time.

Moral consequences of acts such as murdering a human being are also variable. Oz shrugs his shoulders, gets into his truck and leaves town. Faith (a bad girl) has the full majesty of the law thrown at her and goes to prison. Willow (a good girl in temporary plot difficulties) gets sent off to "magic-addiction recovery school."

As far as I can see, the mystical reason why Spike redeems himself and becomes ensouled is that Sara Michelle Gellar requests Joss Whedon to make him a romantic interest. When James Marsters is signed on to become a regular character, they put the chip in Spike's head, allowing him to be more charming-Brit-bad boy than soulless monster. "William" is developed and retconned, as necessary, from that point, because expanding Spike's humanity proves to be a tremendously popular and successful plot development.

Granted that the writers and actors mostly pull all this off with aplomb. But, for me, there's an overarching feeling of arbitrariness about both the Buffy and Angel series. Individual episodes have powerful emotional overtones, groups of episodes sometimes convey specific existential ambiance.... But if you try to take both series as an integrated continuity, the metaphysics and moral implications are more fragmented over a seven-year run than Batman over a fifty-year run.

(Comparing the mythology and moral structures of Buffy and Batman might make an interesting panel item -- how writers succeed and fail in tinkering with continuity for the sake of individual stories.)

I agree that Xander is probably the most consistently-developed Buffy character. He throws himself at evil, when confronted by it, simply because he believes it's the right thing to do. This gets stronger and stronger over the entire run.

#75 ::: Dru ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 06:09 PM:

A note on the Borders bookstore availability marker. From various chain location and Borders employees, the availability is not actually tracked in real time, but is supposedly an indication of liklihood that the book would in the course of normal events be stocked.

Perhaps less of a crap shoot that normal, but just something to keep in mind.

#76 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 06:21 PM:

A kamikaze sea urchin sails over his head, squeaking

With friends like these, who needs anemones?

#77 ::: Pookel ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 06:22 PM:

However, if you're doing the same thing in a typeset line, each inserted hyphen is marked with little caret, ^, just below but infracting the baseline of the type. If there are no other corrections on that line, what you'd mark in the margin would be the equals sign with the caret under it and the ligs above and to either side of it. Outward from this would be four slants, ////, meaning "do it four times," and beyond that would be a circled PE, EA, or AA, to show who gets charged for that correction.

If I ever needed a reminder that copyeditors and copy editors are not the same thing, this was it. I used to want to make the transition from newspapers to books someday, but the more I hear about book copyeditors, the less appealing the job sounds.

#78 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 06:44 PM:

"If they're burning books now, they'll be burning people next."
Recently ran across that same quote in Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke (highly recommneded YA, btw).

Why do all the interesting forums eventually spin off into Buffy threads?

Because BTVS is such a morality Roscharch test? Plus -- James Marsters and Eliza Dushku ...

#79 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 06:47 PM:

A kamikaze sea urchin sails over his head, squeaking.

At first reading, I thought that this was a scene from the new Spongebob Squarepants WWII epic, Tako! Tako! Tako!

#80 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 06:53 PM:

Jennett,

First of all, are you editing the book yourself? I mean editing your own book yourself? Wow. Is this the pre-submission editing stage? (Meaning, you don't know who's going to publish the book?) If so, then a lot of this answer is probably moot.

May I strongly recommend that you re-consider this notion, and offer to trade services with an editorially inclined friend? It's really a good idea to have a second, fresh pair of eyes look at the writing.

That said, if you're determined to do it yourself, here's my thinking:

I use Chicago (or New York, which is less comprehensive but friendlier) as a reference, similar to the way I use whatever dictionary I'm using that day. I would not recommend starting at the beginning and continuing until I got to the relevant bits because, well, you probably don't need to know about The Parts of a Journal (Chapter 1, 1.138—1.191).

I might recommend reading most or all of Chapter 2, Manuscript Preparation and Manuscript Editing, which will probably answer a lot of your other questions. Chapter 2 does rather assume an acquired MS., but it's a good overview of the process and of the responsibilities of everyone involved.

Remember, if the MS hasn't been acquired, and you're planning on having it published by a traditional publisher, then it's going to get copy edited professionally. So at this stage you should be polishing up the writing, and doing your best with the spelling and usage, in the knowledge that good writing will speak for itself, and that most publishers don't care if you use their preferred spelling for website. If the book is destined to be self-published, then it's still not a great idea to edit it yourself. It's very, very difficult to see your own typos.

If you're really, really determined, I'd suggest taking a copy editing course—one of the weekend-type ones—which will give you an overview of what to look for in terms of commas (series and otherwise), which vs. that, ellipses, compound adjectives, and other issues of editorial persnickityness. Then when you come to one of these issues in your manuscript, look it up in your style guide of reference (Chicago in this instance), make a note of what it says, and impose that choice consistently.

Use a dictionary for spelling. Choose one dictionary and use it for every word whose spelling is debatable. Once you've made a spelling choice, impose it rigorously on every instance of that word.

The thing about copy editing is that consistency is about as important as correctness. Possibly more so.

The thing about CMOS is that it tries to cover all the bases. Which can prove a bit befuddling.

#81 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 07:20 PM:

The thing about CMOS is that it tries to cover all the bases.

Well, yeah...you got your pMOS and your nMOS in there...

#82 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 07:52 PM:

Lenny, I would have to submit that the moral consequences of the three murders are variable because so were the circumstances, but I also would argue all three cases involve self-redemption, which is sort of a big theme in the Buffyverse.

Oz killed a fellow werewolf who was trying to kill his girl. He didn't just 'shrug his shoulders and leave'; it caused him to, in great agony, realize he couldn't trust himself around humans because of the wolf inside, and go off -- leaving the one love of his life -- to try to learn how to control it. This may not be legal penance, but it's penance nonetheless. (And how many courts are you going to find who understand werewolves?) He then firms up this desire for self-redemption by voluntarily giving up his girl forever when he realizes that the strong emotions surrounding her are not going to allow him to maintain control.

Faith killed numerous people, not just one, which already makes her different, though I think she's only doing jail time for one (they do leave it sort of up in the air). Excepting that first manslaughter, her murders are mostly pre-meditated, not crimes of passion; she's clearly depicted as enjoying the kill in certain scenes. On the other hand, she chose to turn herself in and go to prison in part so someone else wouldn't get imprisoned for her actions, which brings us back to that self-redemption thing.

Depending on whether or not you want to believe the magic-is-a-drug thing, you could argue that Willow was both not in her right mind due to grief and not in her right mind due to drugs. I'm still not sure how I feel about the 'power makes you do things you might not' theme but I at the least could understand "you killed my one true love, you must die"; it may not be right, but it's understandable. And the person she kills is a multiple-murderer himself who has slowly escalated the level of his crimes, not some random innocent person, which makes it easier for people to understand. So possibly that's why people have an easier time dealing with her after than you'd think. Certainly, if you do buy into the "went completely batshit from power and grief" explanation, then counseling is more apropos than jail time would be, though in her case I think the self-redemption thing falters a bit; I don't care for how they handled her reactions after.


"As far as I can see, the mystical reason why Spike redeems himself and becomes ensouled is that Sara Michelle Gellar requests Joss Whedon to make him a romantic interest."

You have some interesting vision. I see that Spike going off and getting his soul back (which wasn't his intention when he left) was being led up to for 4 seasons. Even discarding everything about love and attraction and the Slayer, there's one important other factor that makes it make sense: Spike's rivalry with Angel.

I'm not going to say there's zero inconsistency in the Buffyverse by any means (250 episodes on two shows with how many writers?) but I think there's more than people like to give it credit for, particularly when it comes to things like this.

But having said all that, it does bug me that Angel can't enjoy food but Spike can.

#83 ::: Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:17 PM:

Mayakda, there's some question about the Roman custom for baptism in the fourth century. What's most interesting to me is that the bishop who baptized Constantine on his deathbed was an Arian.

Also, my apologies for being unclear. Constantine didn't get rid of Mithraism; he helped it merge with Christianity. The Edict of Milan didn't make Christianity the official religion or get rid of paganism; it just made the official day of worship come into line with the Mithraic choice. Constantine's coins still read "Sol Invicto comiti" and he kept the Mithraic title of High Priest. You can find a fair look at Constantine and Christianity in Wikipedia's Constantine article.

The merger of Mithraism and Christianity helped me understand something that had always baffled me about Catholicism. Jesus said, "Call no man Father." Given that, how do you explain the Pope? Once you know that the highest Mithraic rank was Pater, it becomes clear.

#84 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 08:17 PM:

That Angel can't enjoy food but Spike can is, however, entirely in character for both of them.

Great post from Tina. I have a pile of respect for Lenny Bailes, and I'm not going to get into a twist over a TV show, but I really have to say that Lenny's descriptions of several critical plot developments are, well, let's just say we watched very different shows.

There are a lot of things to criticize about BtVS, but when you start by characterizing Oz as having "just shrugged his shoulders and left" ... As someone said to me in a different conversation recently, I didn't know my eyebrows could go up that far.

#85 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 09:11 PM:

On halos:

These seem to be descended from a common element in religious imagery in the old Middle East: in the Hebrew Bible the term used is 'anan (also used in Ugaritic texts) which is related to words for cloud, mist, and smoke, but is associated with divine authority and refers to the same thing as the melammu of Assyrian and the aegis of classical Greece. (The word is used of the pillar of cloud/fire in the Exodus, for example.) This is frequently depicted in sculpture and bas-reliefs as a winged sun-disk both in Greek and Middle-Eastern traditions. This becomes the halo in later art.

So the halo is derived from pre-Christian roots, but they seem generally spread over the east of the Mediterranean world, not just Rome.

#86 ::: Jenett ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 09:52 PM:

Jennie:

Thank you for the help!

This is pre-submission editing. I've got other people reading it, and commenting, but I know that (because of my background) I've got bunches of minor inconsistencies in spelling (easy to fix) and punctuation (not so easy because I notice it less.)

I want to clean up as much of that as I can. And if I'm going to clean them up, I might as well do it while picking a variant for a specific reason. (Which may include "I like that one better and it's perfectly acceptable.")

There's also the factor that several of the esoteric publishing houses don't have the best track record for editing. I can't tell from my perspective if the well-edited ones started that way from the author, got good editing from the house, or whether the house tried to edit the poor ones and got firmly told "No! Not my precious manuscript." by the author.

[I have guesses, naturally, in some cases. And realistically, it's almost certainly some combination of all three depending on other variables. But getting the manuscript consistent to the best of my ability in advance seems like a good idea.]

The thing about CMOS is that it tries to cover all the bases. Which can prove a bit befuddling.

That part I'd noticed, yep. I've got a good idea which bits are most likely to be relevant. Don't worry, I wasn't planning to read it cover to cover. (Well, not right now. I'm one of those people who reads dictionaries, too.)

#87 ::: Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 09:59 PM:

The thing about CMOS is that it tries to cover all the bases.

Well, yeah...you got your pMOS and your nMOS in there...

No, no! CMOS doesn't have bases, it has gates, and it exposes lots of them. TTL covers all bases. And don't get me started on ECL....

(The NixonFET: an obsolete three-terminal device with an unimpeachable source, an economic drain, and, of course, a water gate)

Jordin (EE Geek Jokes V/I Us) Kare

#88 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 10:43 PM:

Patrick:

You're right that I mischaracterized the response Oz shows in that Buffy episode by saying that he "shrugs his shoulders and leaves." I should have said, simply, that the entire Buffy gang gets a pass as far as further responsibility (or involvement) in the external world after one of them commits murder. The same thing happens with Willow's act of murder. When Faith becomes a murderer, it's a different story: corpses, police departments, and external karma are inescapable. I'm willing to buy the internal destructive burden of karma that Giles assumes after his act of murder, but the aftermath doesn't ring true to me with Oz or Willow.

As far as Giles' murder, I just feel that he made the wrong decision for a hero living in our world (where you need to watch out and guard yourself from the dangerous siamese twin without murdering the innocent half). In the world that Whedon invents, populated by an unstoppable killer god, the moral calculus may be different. But I hate the implication that comes across: "sometimes you have to shoot through an innocent body to protect your family from the killer behind it. It may unnerve you, but you just have to do it."

#89 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 10:45 PM:

My regular pocket knife is a wretchedly sturdy job of no certain parentage from a road store in the middle of West Virginia.

Most to the point, it's folding, has a point, and both a serrated and smooth part to the blade. It was also cheap enough that I don't feel badly about some of the things that I do to it - and it isn't kept at the razor sharpness of my multi-tool (really - it's not an advantage to open boxes with something that sharp...).

#90 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 11:23 PM:

"sometimes you have to shoot through an innocent body to protect your family from the killer behind it. It may unnerve you, but you just have to do it." I thought Donald Hamilton did that one well: for Matt Helm and for Mac. Granted the innocent moved at the last minute but Mac's last words on the subject were well done.

#91 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2004, 11:37 PM:

With friends like these, who needs anemones?

Hurt. Hurt. Hurt.

As far as Giles' murder, I just feel that he made the wrong decision for a hero living in our world (where you need to watch out and guard yourself from the dangerous siamese twin without murdering the innocent half).

I believe Giles' last line before doing it is "Yes, well, they're heroes. You and I are different." Or words to that effect. In other words, he's saying he ISN'T a hero, and that's why he can do what must be done. And it really WAS necessary. There was no other way. And the vic didn't give a flying frell about anyone but himself.

I shed no tears for that.

But then I'm easily manipulated by good television. The other night, watching an episode of Law and Order - SVU, I actually cheered when a man shot a ten-year-old kid through the heart. Granted, the boy had smothered the man's son by shoving gravel down his throat, and done it on purpose for fun, and was very likely to do it again when he got out of juvie in 8 years, but I still found my reaction disturbing.

#92 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 01:03 AM:
As far as Giles' murder, I just feel that he made the wrong decision for a hero living in our world (where you need to watch out and guard yourself from the dangerous siamese twin without murdering the innocent half).

Except by that time, Dr. Ben wasn't innocent anymore. He had already sold Dawn to Glory.

#93 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 01:38 AM:

One of my favorite lines about microcircuit materials was "Gallium arsnide has been the material of the future for the past 30 years" (said by a senior coworker back in the 1980s).

I thought ECL had mostly gone away years ago, its place taken by advanced silicons structures and silicon-germanium, and other materials... I'm not up on current materials, last time I was following it was when I was doing electronics industry market reseach a decade [eeep...] ago.

#94 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 02:23 AM:

Dunkin' Donuts update...

I found one backed up against Mall Road in Burlington a few days ago, on the north side of Mall Road between the Middlesex Turnpike and a street east of Middlesex Turnpike [we're talking eastern Massachusetts here, never depend on there being an accurate street sign--first there has to -be- street sign, before accuracy comes into play! Street signs have a habit of disappearing early and often when put up, if put up] that's west of the building that's a Kohl's that originially was a Bradlees [yes, the building was built to be a Bradlees] before that chain went out of existense. It's the last street heading west on Mall Road, before the Middlesex Turnpike. Between that street and the Middlesex Pike there are stores. There are parking lots with roads in it between the two streets--actually, the parking lot and roadway are bounded by the street I don't know the name of, which runs from Mall Road nortwest up to the Middlesex Turnpike, so the three roads, the Middlesex Pike, Mall Road, and that whatever-the-name-is road, bound a parcel of land full of parking lots stores. One of the drivable paths through the parcel is parallel to Mall Road and north of it, and there is a parking lots and a north-facing stripmall between it and Mall road. The stores include a Newbury Comics, I think a Taco Bell, Other Stores, AND, apparently, a Dunkin' Donuts--which didn't used to be there. I noticed the sign on the back wall of the strip mall last weeek. I don't know when it moved in, two tenants ago Softpro which was a computer and scienc/engineering bookstores, in that space I think. On the west side of the stripmall are more stores, which some of which face easst, and some face south. North of them, across from drivable road, is a Tower Records facing ast and some other stores facing east north of the Tower Records, and east and north of them, facing south, is a Staples, and to its northeast is an entrance on the road I can't recall the name of

The Dunkin' Donuts is about 1.3 miles west of the Readercon Hotel--which is not less than the distance to the Dunkin' Donuts on Cambridge street past Burlington Center.

There are Still More Dunkin' Donuts in the area, there's one on Washington Street in Woburn, the exit east after route 38 where the Stop & Shop had a Dunkin's Donuts in the store. The Washington Street on is south of 128, in a commercial/industrial/stripmall area, on the west side of the road, sort of across the street from a Staples... Uh, yeah, the Staples is maybe four miles from the Staples in Burlington. But the Staples on Washington Street in Woburn is in Woburn, in a commercial-industrial area, whereas Burlington is office buildings and shopping malls and a hospital. "Van de Graff Drive" is on the -other- side of 128 in Burlingon than Mall Road is, named for the person who invencted the accelerators that used to be made there. There long ago was a building that said "High Voltage Engineering" and "Ion Phyiscs. The building was demolished some years back and an high tech office buildings built on the site, which have houses successon of failed dotcom industry businesses or dotcom-related businesses... the sign "Genuity" is still on one of them. "Genuity" was what the Internet Webhosting business the Verizon spun out, that before NYNEX and Bell Atlantic merged and renamed itself Bell Atlantic, before NYNEX or was it Bell Atlantic and GTE merged and renamed itself I think to something else, before GTE bought out BBN [Bolt Beranek & Newman, the company that built the switches and did the R&D for the ARPAnet, that over time/mutated evolved and split int systems than included the Internet, and BBN over time started providing commercial ISP and webhosting servies.... Anyway, Genuity went banktrupt and out of existence quite a number of months ago. There used to be industrial--as in hardware manufacturers--businesses in Burlington, but conversion over into retail and software and bank buildings and Lahey Clinic and empty buildings where the previous owners or tenants of buildings vacated the premises and in various cased evaporated as opposed to relocated. Digital Equipment Corporation and I forget which other minicomputer manufacturer had had facilities in the area--oh, Hewlett-Packard bought out Apollo, which had been in Chelmsford, and moved from there to Burlington. But there was at least one other minicomputer maker which had had a facility in Burlington. EG&G had been in Burlington originally, GCA which had been a big name in semiconductor processing equimpment had been there, RCA had been there with a manufacturing piece of its defense hardware business (before GE bought out RCA and then started getting out of hardware defense contracting other that e.g. jet engines)... Sum bucked the trend, a few years ago it decided to consolidate its east coast US operations and put up a big complex in Burlington, I don't know if there's any hardware done there, I suspect not.

Anyway, the business mixes have definitely changed over the years.

#95 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 03:09 AM:

Bruce, regarding clasp knives: when I was a system administrator opening boxes on a nigh daily basis, I picked up a Camillus 886. (It seems the line has since been renamed-- now they're calling the knife that looks like the old 886 a "Large deluxe lockback (#9)." They have a web site at camillusknives.com . For the purposes of this note, I'm going to say 886, since I've never picked up a new #9 with my own hands-- but it should be the exact same thing.)

The 886 has the distinct advantage that unlike a lot of Spyderco's stuff, it doesn't look high tech and evil. Whip out a Centofante III FRN to open a box, and the people around you will snicker and/or blanch-- and may well ask if there are any testosterone-related issues you'd like to discuss with the nice psychologist down in Human Resources. Spyderco makes fine knifes-- they just look like the sort of thing a poseur would carry.

Now admitted, the Camillus 886 does not have a pocket clip or a hole in the blade to assist opening. (I still carry mine in the leather sheath it came with.) On the other hand, let's get real-- it's a BOX. It's not going to run away if you lose a few seconds opening the knife. (Knives for self-protection is a can of worms I don't want to open; in the unlikely event anyone cares what my opinion is, send me email.) Also, if anyone says you can open an 886 or knife of similar design one handed, they're not lying-- I do it myself-- but for the only way I know how to do it, one failure mode is bad and the second potentially catastrophic. (Step one: hold knife by blade, snap wrist to whip hilt out until it locks. Screw this one up, and you throw the knife across the room. [It's probably not open, though-- otherwise, I'd never do this when other people are around.] Step two: flip knife in air and catch by hilt. Screw THAT one up and you can stab yourself in the hand.)


On another note: thanks for the kind words, all. In particular, y'all should note that James Macdonald has been godfathering Bad Magic for years out of nothing but fondness for the text and the kindness of his heart. If ever you want to see her eyes roll, corner TNH and say, "So I hear there's a story about your temporarily misplacing the phone number of this guy who sent you a manuscript you pulled out of the slush pile..." Mr. Macdonald is the hero of the tale. Bring popcorn.

#96 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 03:33 AM:

My heart sinks. As Mayakda pointed out above, the line I wrote in my short story comes from the book Inkheart. Which I did read (+ loved). I honestly thought when I wrote the line in my short story that it was original, but Inkheart must have lodged itself in my subconcious.

What do I do? Change the line in my story, except it is one of the main turning/focus points.

Does this happen to writers often? I am writing my first book. Since I started I've been reading as much as possible to get a feel for what works and what doesn't, and what is already out there. (As well as hanging out at places like Making Light to learn how the publishing world works).

My friend Peet, who wrote a lot, rarely ever read books because he wanted his work to be completely original.

I feel quite sick about it. Does this happen to writers often? Or is my poor memory just biting me in the ass?

#97 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 05:43 AM:

(Back to Buffy):
I think the difference in police involvement has less to do with the "in gang" than the circumstances of the murder, again. In Veruca's case, I'm not sure how it was handled, but I would guess that 'mauled by animals' was the verdict and therefore no one suspected a murder charge. In Willow's case, a wanted murder suspect disappeared off the face of the earth; no body = no murder.

Faith's manslaughter of the deputy mayor got police involvement because he was the deputy mayor and because the Mayor wanted to get rid of the slayers. The involvement of police down in LA during the later Angel episodes also suffered from intervention, a combination of Wolfram and Hart ratting people out and Kate being a little too perceptive. I don't think it has anything to do with the fact she wasn't in the In group so much as: Faith? A little conspicuous.

#98 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 08:02 AM:

My take on opening boxes is that this is what disposable razor knives are for.

This is in part because I have unreason in my heart, concerning the proper treatment of any knife one will be troubled to sharpen; it's in part because getting tape adhesive on a folding blade isn't the best thing to be doing.

My normal pocket knife is the MEC own-branded Swiss Army default consumer widget. The actual knife lockblade knife is some Swedish thing, bought at a little kiosk in a shopping mall in Ottawa, and a bit on the heavy side, but then again I've had it for twenty two years and it isn't showing much in the way of signs of wear, and I've used it to cut down sapling trees. (The lanyard isn't showing signs of wear. I like stuff like that.)

I don't carry it around these days, since I'm being so thoroughly urban in my habitat, but I still know where it is.

#99 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 08:03 AM:

Quick note on knives... I strongly recommend lock blades. In the 70s Girl Scout knives were not lock blades, and I almost cut the tip of a finger off. (And the only person I can blame for not teaching us proper knife safety is my mom, who was our troop leader.)

My Kershaw that I always carry is a lock blade, and although it doesn't fit into my pants pocket well (women's pants have ridiculous pockets), I always wear a jacket, and it fits fine in any jacket pocket.

#100 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 08:08 AM:

Elese -

Constantly.

I wouldn't worry about it. (Then again, I have been known to give characters lines of Shakespeare dialog entirely on purpose.)

#101 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 08:18 AM:

Elese, I think it depends on what kind of story you're writing. If your story takes place in this world, just make the characters quote it. If it doesn't, you can still use the quote at the beginning of the story or of the section as a touchstone, an epigraph. (If it's at the beginning of the section, the other sections should probably have them, too, for my taste.)

It is perfectly okay to reference other people's work in your work. It's best if you know you're doing it, though. Your friend Peet may feel purer for not having been influenced by other fiction, but he's making it more likely that he'll come up with something that's already been done to death and just won't know it. Editors won't have his reading list on hand. They won't know if he has never read Lois McMaster Bujold's books -- if he has a hyperactive miniature scion of a noble house on a backwater planet with too many other common points, they'll roll their eyes, mutter "Vorkosigan ripoff," and move on with their lives.

He's also making it more likely that he's not learning from other people's mistakes or their successes. Seems like a bad idea all around, to me.

#102 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:11 AM:

On opening lockblade knives one-handed:

First, play with the knife a lot, until the action is easy and smooth. Then, holding the handle, snap your wrist. The blade flies open and locks. Back when I was a boatswain's mate, sometimes you had to open your knife one-handed, because you were holding on with the other hand. Bosuns spend a lot of time playing with their knives to get the spring just right.

(You can also get an accessory that slips over the base of the blade, that puts a thumb-lever on the side, allowing you to swing the blade out that way. But that's cheating.)

#103 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:21 AM:

What's most interesting to me is that the bishop who baptized Constantine on his deathbed was an Arian.
Imo Arianism is a lot easier to understand then the trinity thingy; I'm sympathetic to it myself.

You can find a fair look at Constantine and Christianity in Wikipedia's Constantine article.
That was a good read, thanks.

The merger of Mithraism and Christianity helped me understand something that had always baffled me about Catholicism.

On a somewhat similar note, finding out that Mary is in some ways conflated with Isis actually makes me feel more kindly toward the worship of Mary. Like they are keeping a tradition alive.

And on a completely different topic, as a Renault fan, I'd been hoping that Alexander (the movie) would be something to look forward to, but reviews are coming out and they are all saying it's execrable. Boo. Now I need another movie to watch this weekend. Already saw the Incredibles. Any suggestions?

#104 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:47 AM:

Teresa said: no matter how grim the circumstances in which you find yourself, or how little you're at fault for being in them, if you respond by becoming a monster, you're still a monster.

My much-mourned partner was a big fan of West Side Story, so when it had a professional production in Sydney (at the Capitol, which is special for other reasons) for the first time in some decades of course we went along. There was a line I'd forgotten about, which made me so angry it was really hard not to jump up & remonstrate, but they would have tossed me (us?) out, and I didn't want to miss the rest, and upset my partner.

DOC (shopkeeper): What does it take to get through to you? When do you stop? You make this world lousy!
ACTION (a gang member): That's the way we found it, Doc.

So; you make it worse!? If theres any moral thing I hold, along with "Do as you would be done by", there's the goal of Denis Healey's definition of socialism or social democracy: "An obstinate will to erode by inches conditions which produce avoidable suffering; oppression, hunger, wars, racial and national hatred, insatiable greed and vindictive envy." -- tho' I may extend the suffering to be avoided to a broader realm than merely human.
Some suffering is virtually unavoidable without having a "With Folded Hands") (Jack Williamson story about ultimate 'Nanny State') world.
Why in hell make it worse?

#105 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 09:55 AM:

James: I hadn't thought of a Buck, probably because of a double mental block on the subject. While in college my room was broken into while my roommate and I were asleep (NEVER use WD-40 on a squeaky dorm door) and my Buck was stolen, after which everyone delighted in telling me how brittle Buck blades were. Then, after my dad's death, I inhereted a Buck he bought when he had to go out into the woods with some prospectors in Eastern Washington and I promptly put it away somewhere around here because I didn't need a folder the size of a Metro bus. Enough folks praise them that I'll have to give them another look. Oh, and on the one-handed opening process for lockblades: you use the same proceedure on a Gerber Multi-Tool to get the pliers to snap out from the body before you use it--they don't do that out of the box.

Clark: hadn't heard about Russell knives. The FeatherLite One Hand Knife looks interesting, and the Abalone Interframe Folder on their seconds page looks promising as well. Unfortunately, after three years of unemployment the William Henry and Paul Knives models are a bit out of my pocketbook range.

dsr: I'll have to think about the Spyderco, a friend has one and swears by it but it scares hell out of me whenever she flips it open and starts sawing away. The Leek looks good, is certainly affordable as long as you don't get the titanium version, and the build quality on my little Kershaw predisposes me towards the company's products. The Benchmade models are interesting as well.

Teresa: Thank you(?) for the Underdog/Excelsior! cure--that's stopped McKetterick Ross dead in her tracks. (And I *know* the worst stuff doesn't get published--you should have sat through some of the writing classes I've attended. On second thought, I'm glad you didn't--you don't need flashbacks of Gamera kidnapping children into Heaven at 2:00 a.m. any more than I deserved to get them. Or the memory of a professor asking "But why does your protagonist *stay* with the pinheads? Is pinhead sex better than regular sex?")

That's right: you were the person at Worldcon that let me know about the little folding knife that looked like a peach (that my wife won't give back), weren't you? O.K., here we go. My budget right now isn't big--say in the $30-$80 range. I'll be using it for general pocket use: wrapping tape, cardboard, paper, Tyvek, et. cetera. Since this stuff tends to dull a blade fast I'd get a Boye Dendretic Steel model if I could find one for an affordable price, but it seems that he retired and sold all his stock to his daughter who etches images on the blades and ups the prices $300 per knife. I may have to look at one of his Dendretic Cobalt models for sailors instead: I'm not thrilled with them but they *are* available. Durability is good: I've had knife blades snap on me in the past and thanked all the deities you care to name that I wear polycarbonate lenses in my glasses. Pretty is nice but usually more expensive, and as long as I'm temping instead of being employed full-time I'll have to give up looks for functionality. (DAMN Kershaw for dropping the psuedo-tortoiseshell handles and making my little knife a collectable.) I've been considering one of the kits at http://www.knifekits.com/store/s-pages/kk_store_1mainframe.htm?kk_products_folderkits_main.htm~smain such as a pre-release DDR3 Button Lock and supplying my own handle scales, but it's larger than the pocketknives I've carried in the past and I don't know enough about steel to tell if AUS8 is a *good* thing or a *bad* thing. I also considered the kits available at http://linvilleknifeandtool.com/prodserv.htm since folks said good things about them on various newsgroups, but somehow they just don't appeal to me even though they're certainly competitive in price.

Skwid: haven't been able to track down an image of a Frost Bulldog yet. Are they still in production?

Stephan: I know *exactly* what you mean about the Spyderco. I'll think about the Camillus 886/#9--it's not as spiffy looking as the Leak is, but it looks as if it'll work a long time and wear well.

Graydon: My dad required extensive hand surgery because of a defective disposable razor knife--I'm not thrilled with them. Similarly, a co-worker once had a Leatherman blade close on his fingers followed by interesting surgery. That's why my Leatherman is in retirement in favor of my Gerber Multi-Tool: the blades on the Gerber lock in place.

Michelle: I've always carried a lock blade (except for the Leatherman) for good reason: see my comments to Graydon above.

#106 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 10:17 AM:

mayakda, why not come on over to Oz. We won't see The Incredibles until sometime January 2005, so you'll be able to look forward to it for well over a month :)

Oh, and re knives: For some few years now, it's been illegal to carry a knife about your person in New South Wales. You can be stopped and searched, then fined - or at least have it confiscated. If I'm taking one home from a shop, or out to a sharpener, it has to be all wrapped and boxed up. Makes it tricky to carry around a little tool set type attachment, but it is still possible, with work.

Having had experience of being in an enclosed shopping centre & an underground lecture theatre during blackouts, I tried to always have a small torch [flashlight] with me, but it could be awkward. The new lightweight, non-fragile LED keyring-sized lights, which use very little battery power have been a real boon. I'd like to have one that'd pass for jewellery so I could have it about me always, like my housekey.

#107 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 10:25 AM:

[Wow, finally, something I'm vaguely competent to write about]
Sum[sic] bucked the trend, a few years ago it decided to consolidate its east coast US operations and put up a big complex in Burlington, I don't know if there's any hardware done there, I suspect not.

Well, there used to be a significant amount hardware development there until about May when Sun did a RIF, laying off, among others, essentially everyone in design team I worked in. I think there is still some hardware development there. I wouldn't know (as I no longer work there). But I doubt it's as much as was there before.

#108 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 10:38 AM:

mayakda, why not come on over to Oz. We won't see The Incredibles until sometime January 2005, so you'll be able to look forward to it for well over a month :)

You know, Oz & NZ are on my list of "places to visit someday", but never thought of using that as a reason. Heh.

As far as the blades discussion goes, don't carry one, but if I did, I would want a blade that made an ominous "snick" sound when opened. Otherwise, where's the thrill? :)

#109 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 10:53 AM:

Bruce --

I generally use a Stanley linoleum knife for the purpose; the plastic body things are, I quite agree, a serious hazard. (The ones with metal blade channels are OK, and I carry one for light box opening duties as required.)

My general view is that all folding or sliding blade knives are fundamentally fragile and shouldn't be used for any kind of heavy work.

Then again, the smallest general purpose knife -- not counting the drawknives or the cooking knives or the carving knives as not being, strictly, general purpose -- I own that doesn't fold is a French colonial machete with a wide scramasax blade form, so my biases do tend toward the jointing-an-aurochs and splitting-kindling sorts of tasks.

Oh, and about the Russell knives? They're the sporting half of Grohmann, who make kitchen knives. I have a number of those, which are excellent.

#110 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:04 AM:

mayakda wrote:

As far as the blades discussion goes, don't carry one, but if I did, I would want a blade that made an ominous "snick" sound when opened. Otherwise, where's the thrill? :)

If you want a nice ominous "snick" without a knife, the keys for VWs and Audis make a lovely "snick" noise :) So do the switchcombs :)

The pocket knife that I carry has one of the handy little nobbles that makes it easy to open one handed - the only device that I snick open is my gerber multi-tool.

On the "absolutely lovely piece of steel" side of things, I'm profoundly fond of this, but it's not exactly something you could - or would - want to take to work on a regular basis.

#111 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:07 AM:

Mirrorshades Aesthetics Department:

Math can be beautiful, and can explain everyday phenomena.

Fingerprints In The Sky Explained By 'Beautiful Mathematics'

"A group of physicists has published the most compact and elegant explanation of one of nature’s simplest phenomena: the way light behaves in the sky above us.... patterns of polarisation of skylight, explained in broad outline by Lord Rayleigh in 1871, using elliptic integrals – a type of mathematics with deep geometrical roots, often described as beautiful."

"The blue sky seen through polaroid sunglasses gets darker and brighter as the glasses are rotated..."

#112 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:08 AM:

Graydon wrote:

Then again, the smallest general purpose knife -- not counting the drawknives or the cooking knives or the carving knives as not being, strictly, general purpose -- I own that doesn't fold is a French colonial machete with a wide scramasax blade form, so my biases do tend toward the jointing-an-aurochs and splitting-kindling sorts of tasks.

I continue to lust after one of these, although I don't really do enough rough work to justify having one. I suspect it would look oddly like a toy in your hands.

#113 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:28 AM:

Anent halos: In my undergrad atmospheres class back in the l/a/t/e P/r/e/c/a/m/b/r/i/a/n/ early 70s the professor claimed that the whole stylized representation of the halo around someone's head comes from a rare atmospheric phenomenon called the "glory." (Note for Jon Post: I think the prof was Andy Ingersoll.) Someone silhouetted against clouds (which, yeah, means you have to be on top a mountain or something, with a nearby cloud or fog bank behind) will appear limned by bright light. What's happening is that water droplets along the line of sight send some of the sunlight back almost the way it came, due to a near-total internal reflection in the drop. (It's easier to explain with a drawing :)

Anent opening knives one-handed: Out here in the wilds of northern Nevada switchblades--i.e., spring-loaded folding knives--are perfectly legal. I usually take one when I'm in the backcountry. It _is_ kind of surreal; push the button--THWACK!--and then just cut your salami or cheese. Make sure you've got a firm grip, though; it's embarrassing, not to mention potentially hazardous, to have the knife flip out of your hand when it opens! They didn't mention _that_ in West Side Story... More Hollywood license, no doubt, kinda like Clint Eastwood hitting running targets with one shot from a handgun.

I don't take it into California, though :)

#114 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:40 AM:

Graydon, Mris - Thanks, I'm feeling better about it now. I think I'm just going to write the story as it needs to be written (it's almost finished). If at the end, the line still needs to be there, I will reference it somehow.

#115 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:44 AM:

Xeger -

I have (relatively speaking) small hands, but those box tools are quite a bit smaller than you may be thinking from the picture. Noteably heavy, speaking as someone who has moved boxes of them in the warehouse - they're a single, thick forging - but not actually that big; same sort of size range as the typical short handle two pound sledge.

The related article of which I am very fond is on this page, item C; the steel the Granfors people use will rust, but it will also hold a shaving edge after being repeatedly slammed through dry white ash.

#116 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:51 AM:

Patrick, I always figured that the apparently inconsistant approach to soul metaphysics in the Buffyverse was really down to Plot Expediency. Still, it's fun to try and make some sense from the clues we have, whether there's a solid theoretical background or not.

As for the Spike/Angel food inconsistency, does anyone like the idea that Spike is bulemic? That is, he or any vampire can eat normal food, but they can't keep it down? So when Angel says he "enjoyed" eating like a normal human, maybe it wasn't just the chewing and swallowing, but the digestion that gave him pleasure? Angel strikes me as being fastidious enough not to think that the taste and feel of real food outweighs the sensation of having to get rid of it afterwards via the emergency exit, as it were. Spike, on the other hand, might get a bit of a kick out of it....

#117 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 12:00 PM:

I feel strangely moved to confess to have seen in all perhaps half a dozen episodes of Buffy, and that being some years ago. It's now in reruns, isn't it? Not sure. I'm decidedly out of the loop.

Michelle, I bookmarked that DaffyDuck link. funny stuff. Thanks.

#118 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 12:11 PM:

Mayakda - about Inkheart: do you remember where the quote about book-burning is? I wanted to go back and see how closely it matches what I wrote (if it is word-for-word or acceptably different), but I can't find it. I'll keep looking, but if you remember please let me know :)

#119 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 12:24 PM:

More on the glory: Moderns get a chance to see it more often. Next time you're on a plane, check out the plane's shadow against a cloud. It's rimmed by light.

I managed to see a ground-based glory one time that I can remember, at Orycon a few years back. I was on a bridge over the Columbia River, with the sun behind me. Although I was in full sunshine (remarkably, for Portland :), there was a low layer of fog over the river, and my shadow on it was nicely limned. (No special revelations accompanied the sighting, though :)

#120 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 12:27 PM:

On heresies: I just need to pass on the opinion of the Bishop of Oxford, as recounted in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists: "The Holy Ghost is just a creepier version of Christ."

Is that a heresy? Does it have a name?

#121 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 01:26 PM:

I have been reading the knife discussion here with great interest and much wistfulness, for I am Not Allowed to Own Bladed Weapons.

I used to own two penknives. Both were gifts. I buried one and threw the other away, and I mourn them still, but I have a history of cutting myself and I came to the conclusion that it was better for me to get rid of the blades. If I'd been thinking more clearly, I would have given them to someone who'd take good care of them (such as they were), but I wasn't in a place where that was happening.

#122 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 01:34 PM:

Yoon - I have a similar history and have just made it a year without incident :)

Congratulations on getting rid of the penknives (even though you mourn them now), it's a great step to make.

#123 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 01:44 PM:

Steve Gillett:

Theophysics: So that's why Moses had his vision on a mountain top. And the Greeks had Mount Olympus. And so forth.

It's not name dropping when someone else mentions a name first (Andrew Ingersoll) and I can say: hey! I shared a house with him and some other grad students and undergrads -- a sort of Academic Commune, with the house owned by the university. The social interactions were so fascinating to me that I got a novel manuscript out of it.

Biggest tactical problem in communes has nothing to do with sex or drugs or money or what background music to play on the stereo. It's about whose turn it is to shop, whose to cook, and whose to clean. Whoops -- under the reign of Emperor Bush II, this is likely to be outlawed by Constitutional Amendment, or something.

#124 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 02:05 PM:

To Jon Post--

"Theophysics." I like that!

Yeah, I'd kinda remembered your knowing Ingersoll.

And as far as commune conflicts: of course, if you're in a Regular Household issues such as cooking, cleaning, shopping etc. never arise. Nope. Not possible... :)

#125 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 02:45 PM:

about Inkheart: do you remember where the quote about book-burning is?
Happen to have it lying around. Chapter 17. Elinor says it, when Capricorn starts burning the copies of the book.

#126 ::: John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 03:00 PM:

Quick aside—this being an open thread. For Thanksgiving Treat (and I'm especially thinking of you, Mary Kay), try this:

The Stoli Doli (made popular by Capital Grille)

If you don't want to marinate your own fresh pineapple slices, then:

2 oz. Stoli
1 oz. Cointreau or Grand Marnier
2 to 3 oz. of Dole Pineapple juice.

Basically, this is a Cosmopolitan with the Cranberry Juice replaced by Pineapple Juice.

But they go down nice and easy—and being Vodka tend not to encourage hangovers as badly as Gin or the old sour mash.

Happy Thanksgiving to all....

:)

#127 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 03:21 PM:

Graydon, A.G. Russell does sell the D.H. Russell (Grohmann) belt knives, but I think their folder is a bit bulky for office use. For me, the primary selling points of A.G.'s One-Hand Knife are its slim profile and truly ambidextrous opening and closing.

Apart from the use of 440C for the blade, the Benchmade Griptilian line is also a great southpaw-friendly office knife.

-j

#128 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 03:22 PM:

Mayakda - ta, I was looking later on for the quote but was convinced it came from Elinor. I loved Inkheart too - It's a wonderful book for bibliophiles :)

#129 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 04:14 PM:

Steve Gillett:

"Numbers, construed in the generalized sense of the whole mathematical corpus, surely now rule the roost in theoretical physics. Despite the recent maunderings of physicists on what might be termed THEOPHYSICS, despite metaphysical arguments as to whether it is we or Nature who writes The Grand Books of the Universe (Galileo's words), quantification has not yet exhausted its potential." [all caps by blogger]

from "Why Does a Public that Hates NumbersPut Up with So Many Numbers?"
by Philip J. Davis
[book reviews]

See also: "Other ways of making light" thread:

nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/005568.html

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2004, 10:18 PM:
Andy Perrin and CHip:

Except from the point of view of the photon. To a photon, the 8 minutes or so it takes to leave the photosphere of the sun and fly through space until it impacts your skin (or retina) is, as Saint Albert Einstein says, zero time, as the trip is at the speed of light. From the point of view of Theophysics, the principle of Contagion applies, and Action at a Distance, and your skin (or retina) is now entangled with the sun. Or something. ** waves wand and rolls eyes **

Plus Google will find you stuff that's even weird compared to my mutterings...

As to "Normal Households" versus communes, there is usually a parent in a "normal household" who wields decisive authority. Communes, as opposed to cults, are often more loosey-goosey anarchical. In anarchy, the question of dishwashing becomes acute. We solved it by having a strict rotation. Then we had to amend the algorithm, because one person loved to cook elaborate and delicious French meals which literally used ALL the pots & pans & measuring cups, which was a burden on that evening's cleaner. Fortunately, worldcon programming has proven that overdetermined problems can be satisficed. Plus you can bribe someone to take your turn in the barrel.

#130 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 04:24 PM:

Several years ago, I found a Schrade cliphanger-style knife in the park across from my house--it seems to be an older version of what the folks at www.schradeknives.com call a Viper. It's got a serrated section on the blade [great for packing tape with monofilament], a handy bump on the blade for one-handed opening, and a no-slip handle. It can only be considered good-looking in terms of form follows function, but it's been a workable knife.

Given some of the people who come through that particular park, I admit my first thought was to wonder if it had been used in a felony. At least while in my hands it's led a quiet, law-abiding life.

#131 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 05:12 PM:

Lots of the folks who carry Buck 110's on their belts will work the joint with oil and assorted grits. There's a belt clip for the 110 that unfolds the blade as the knife is removed. Some of the tactical folders with pocket clips are designed to drag open as the knife is pulled - gives a fine in your face fast draw knife.

I find it convenient to close the Rusell One Hand one handed, I suppose the lock could be overridden but not unexpectedly.

Sure is a tradeoff between toughness and edge holding - for lots of cardboard I'd be tempted by one of the metal/ceramic hybrids - straight ceramic is too tricky I hear. My only experience is in the kitchen reserved for slicing tomatos. Any experience?

The steels would all be so much tougher just a little softer. Randall's are (or were) noticeably soft by modern edge holding standards and do just fine in the field.

For a tough fixed blade knife I'll go with Morseth laminated - hard center with soft layered on both sides. I've never tried it but I've heard Mr. Russell say that he's routinely (QA not using) bent them double in a vise - they delaminate and are otherwise damaged but keep some structure. When she was alive my wife carried what he called his sleeve knife (jr. fixed blade boot knife) and found it quite satisfactory. It would look right at home with a cuticle pusher next to it. Gerber used to make Mark 1's with a mirror polish 440C blade and assorted fancy handles - David Yellowknife style - the Gerbers would look right at home with a stapler as a deskset in a briefcase too.

The A.G. Russell Woodswalker with leather hip pocket or kydex neck sheath is a nice, inexpensive fixed blade office knife that is occasionally offered in super steels.

#132 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 05:58 PM:

mayakda: And on a completely different topic, as a Renault fan, I'd been hoping that Alexander (the movie) would be something to look forward to, but reviews are coming out and they are all saying it's execrable.

Not to mention some Greeks threatening to sue over the movie suggeseting that A was bi. Funny, I thought that was as settled as anything that far back in history can be....

Boo. Now I need another movie to watch this weekend. Already saw the Incredibles. Any suggestions?

Is Stage Beauty still playing in your area? Or if you're looking for something less art-oriented, my wife says that National Treasure was good mindless fun. I also likes tI; the only other thing I've seen recently is I [heart] Huckabees, which may be stranger than you're looking for -- I'm still not sure whether I liked it.

#133 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 06:37 PM:

Bruce, I couldn't either, but I suspect it may be some several years older than the 12 years that I've carried it. It was a gift from my mother, who picked it up in an antique/second-hand shop. So I put up a picture here:

Frost Bulldog

It's hard to tell from that picture, but the back of the blade has a nice concave surface towards the front that's perfect for resting a finger or thumb on. In all the time I've had it it's only needed sharpening a couple of times. Great little knife.

It doesn't look like it's in production anymore, certainly. Really, they don't look to have much of the same quality in their current line. Sad.

#134 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 07:10 PM:

I spend most of my time at home and I have real separate tools here. I keep a small Swiss Army multi-tool in the car in case I need it while I'm out.

The weird one is the pocketknife/almost-multitool that's in my desk drawer. Without my intention or permission, I acquired a Dun & Bradstreet number a while back. This brought me *tons* of junk business mails, plus one company that mailed me three things they thought I'd like to buy as gifts for my customers. The first was a pen that wouldn't write. The second was a desk clock that lost a couple of minutes a day. The third was the knife thingie. I can't open any of the blades. I can get the corkscrew & phillips screwdriver open because they're out of the case and I just keep pushing my thumb in until they fold out. One side of the thing has little rubber dots so you can hold on to it better, but that still doesn't work for me. Now, I'm weaker than a lot of people, but I can use my SA knife without any problems. I figure a knife that can't be opened goes with a pen that won't write and a clock that doesn't keep time.

(I have days I'm shaky enough I can't use kitchen knives, but I'm pretty good at knowing when those days turn up, so I haven't cut myself badly in quite a while.)

#135 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2004, 11:05 PM:

I can't resist it! I have to say it!

           
HOLOTHURIANS UNTIE!!!!!


#136 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 12:49 AM:

Paula said: Dunkin' Donuts update... I found one backed up against Mall Road in Burlington

I guess the police had cornered it there until it turned over all the Boston Cream and Apple Crumb donuts.

Bruce Durocher said: A co-worker once had a Leatherman blade close on his fingers followed by interesting surgery. That's why my Leatherman is in retirement...

Hmmm, all the blades lock on my Leatherman tool. The most inconvenient thing about it is that you have to half open another tool to release the lock and close any open blades.

#137 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 01:13 AM:

Might or might not want to support Tim Leatherman - he made a lot of his usual customers mad by endorsing and supporting John Kerry.

#138 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 04:32 AM:

A kamikaze sea urchin sails over his head, squeaking

With friends like these, who needs anemones?

With fronds like these. This is one of my foundational marital puns, from our first date at the aquarium (the other, for the record: points at eel. Look, that's a moray).

On seaweed and rice
Kitamurashiuni
and such otter treats

#139 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 04:37 AM:

I'm still going to buy the Wonderfalls DVD when it comes out, even though Tim Minear supported Bush.

Which brings us back to the question of what would Buffy do?

Last month, a bunch of us put together a fundraiser for Kerry's legal warchest (grump grump why isn't he using it) and Alyson Abramowitz got Joss himself to participate. This spawned some debate within Buffy fandom as to if Buffy would vote Red or Blue.

And one pro-war blogger did attempt a counter-protest by inviting pro-war/pro-Bush Buffy fans to write essays as to why they think Buffy would vote for Bush.

Now I would find it quite plausible that Buffy would be for Bush, until Willow and Xander had a sit-down with her, and pointed out the similarities between the ass-kicking she got from The First, and that unpleasant business in Iraq.

#140 ::: Jax ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 05:26 AM:

On the Buffy/Xander morality.

I just realized that I think there are a few takes on this, depending on what characteristics you're judging.

I tend to be more on Buffy's side with this. First, I think Buffy was more consistent with consequences. She didn't use magic or her powers for the wrong reasons and she understood the smallest of tweaks could have dire consequences in the universe. Remember Xander's love spell that nearly got him and Cordelia killed? And then in "Once More (again?) With Feeling" it turns out Xander was the one who used the charm to call the music demon (or whatever he was). Those might be small examples, but they show Xander didn't always think through conseqences like Buffy did (or, had to because of her mission). I don't recall Buffy ever seeking out the easy, less moral way (I could be wrong on this so I'm sure I'll be corrected if I am).

On a larger scale, Xander's treatment of Anya at the altar has already been mentioned here and could be offset with Buffy's self-destructive treatement with Spike in Season 6, but when Anya becomes a vengeance demon again and later in season 7 decides to slaugher an entire fraternity, Xander can't understand that Buffy has to kill Anya (rightly so, just like she had to kill Angel). That's the only time, by the way, that it comes out that Xander lied to Buffy about Willow trying to reinsoul Angel, but that sort of goes right past Buffy. Not only does Xander not understand it, he basically condemns Buffy for being spiteful. So his hatred (and jealousy) of Angel and Spike is okay and somehow just and Buffy's responsibility to slay Anya is somehow wrong (according to Xander) and spiteful?

The biggest you-people-are-crazy moment for me was toward the end of season 7. I know a lot of people don't consider BTVS exists beyond season 5, but the way it ends is just as important as the way it ran. Here we have Buffy, teenage girl/young adult, who has died twice, been shot, had her ass kicked from here til Sunday, and saved every single person in the scooby gang more times than anyone could count...and the first bad idea she has in defeating The First is met with...shunning her? The people she loves the most, the people she's saved the most (Giles, Willow, Xander, and that whiny, squealy, annoying Dawn) kick her out of HER OWN HOUSE because she's no longer "part of the team." Only for Faith to replace her and do exactly the same thing. And, what bothered me about that is that one-eyed Xander now has apparently forgotton his previous we-all-owe-Buffy-our-lives speech and jumps on the get-the-hell-out-of-your-house bandwagon by not putting a stop to the mutiny. I would have understood if they simply refused to go along with her plan and she sulked off somewhere to think about things, but the uneeded drama of kicking her out of the house was, well, uneeded.

The show isn't called Buffy and Her Gang of Vampire Slayers. Without Buffy, the gang wouldn't be. And that they could forget that so easily (even her own sister kicking her out of the house...god, I just want to strangle Dawn!) because Buffy's decision caused harm/death to some of her crew (who would ALL be dead anyhow if it weren't for her protecting them up until that point) is beyond me.

Oh, well, uh, there's my rant. I'll just go check on my Thanksgiving pies.

#141 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 05:55 AM:

Jax, the gang's kicking out of Buffy was pretty much set-up by the First's undermining propaganda, I thought, not to mention the minor victories (e.g. the continuing deaths of potential slayers) the First kept scoring against Buffy.

Plus, I have to say, Buffy's "We'll do it my way because I'm right" attitude at the time was a little bit unpalatable to me. She needed a bit of a shake-up, IMHO, though the vote of no-confidence probably went too far.

#142 ::: Roz Kaveney ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 07:29 AM:

Re: Angel, Spike and food.

I always thought that the whole point about this was that Angelus, and thus Angel, was closer to the Master and the rules of the Order of Aurelius than Spike ever was. The Master saw being a vampire in quasi-monastic terms - vampires were supposed to be evil and not do human things like live in comfortable apartments. Angelus absorbed much of this from Darla, even when he revolted against it in much of his behaviour, and persuaded her to join him. Angel, on the other hand, has learned to cook somewhere along the line - because part of his family thing with the AI crowd is cooking breakfast for Cordy, and Wesley getting a plate of food is the sacramental acceptance of him into Angel's group. Food is a human thing for Angel - preparing it for humans is part of his way for being with them, but eating it is something he reserves for when he is human.

Spike never swallowed any of the Aurelian ideology. So food is one of the ways he signals his determination to get the best of both demonic and human worlds.

There is a further point, though - it is not clear that food provides vampires with nourishment or that it tastes especially interesting compared with blood. What is noticeable about Spike is that the food he likes is spicy, hot, crunchy or greasy, or preferably a combination of the four - it is sensation as well as taste that he gets from it. Which fits, somehow.

I think too much about these things.

#143 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 09:50 AM:

Does Jonathan Vos Post know about this? Should he worry?

From The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Religion, Literature, and Art, under the entry for Epicurus:

"He died of calculus, after terrible sufferings."

#144 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 10:44 AM:

Trying to tease a consistent system of metaphysics from a long-running multi-author collaboratively-written commercial storytelling enterprise is a mug's game, but hey: that doesn't stop us out here in the real world.

It always seemed to me that the soul in Buffy had to have multiple parts. Voodoo supplies a good working model—in Voodoo, the human soul is divided into three parts: the petit bon ange, the gros bon ange, and the espirit (or maitre tet). The petit bon ange is "you," basically: the seat of your consciousness, house of your memories, the thing that desperately needs coffee to get started in the morning. The gros bon ange is granted to you from on high: your conscience, your sense of duty and justice and balance—but also the thing with feathers; the thing that sits up and thrills when, say, Beethoven's Ninth hits its stride. The espirit (or maitre tet) is your mojo, your gumption, your oomph, and is frequently one of the loa, or aligned with one, or occasionally replaced by one.

Which is not to say that the Whedon crew read a lot of Maya Deren—but it's clear that the "soul," as it's used in the show, is a sense of balance, proportion, right and wrong, that's separated from your more traditional identity: your sense of self, your memories, your continuity—or, at least, in the process of becoming a vampire, the two are split apart. Under the Voodoo model, you might say the gros bon ange has been removed (sent on to heaven) and replaced by a gros mal ange (a demon). Your petit bon ange remains; the strength of one's espirit perhaps explains why some vampires are wisecracking toffs right out of the crypt, and others are little better than shambling zombies.

What I loved about Spike's arc was how it subverted everything we were being told about souls and redemption—even that little model up there. According to Angel and the Watchers (and to slip back into the I stress non-canonical Voodoo model) it didn't matter what your petit bon ange got up to, if it was being ridden by a gros mal ange: you were evil, full-stop. Unless and until someone said some mystical words and waved a hand over a glowing something-or-other and swapped out your gros mal ange with a gros bon ange—and then, heck. No matter what you had done or would go on to do, you were back on the side of the angels. —Wee bit Calvinist for my tastes. So Spike: sure, he had the chip in his head, but that's what enabled his petit bon ange—his self, or the only self that matters, really, at least to my selfish idea of who I am and what's important to me, which is why I've never taken much comfort in the idea of reincarnation—anyway, his petit bon ange gets to tussle with his gros mal ange on something of a more even moral battlefield. And it took a long hard road and he backslid (a lot) and no one ever really believed him but still: he was, slowly but surely, demonstrating that what was important to doing good wasn't having a "soul" (for that particular value of soul) but instead doing good. That he did good in spite of the gros mal ange riding his back, rather than because of a gros bon ange filling him up, makes his fight far more, well, I suppose heroic is a good enough word.

(No, you don't need the Voodoo to reach that conclusion. But it does make the math come out nicely.)

And then they went and spoiled it all by having someone say some mystical words and wave a hand over a glowing something-or-other and swap out his gros mal ange with a gros bon ange. —They had reasons for doing what they did, and made some good points along the way (which is why I account the "Just Say No" episode as the unforgiveable crime of sixth season, and not what they did to Spike), but still: it subverted their subversion, reinforcing that essentially unfair Calvinistish doctrine. Which, since Whedon and co. had a suitably dark and arms-length view of the Powers that Be, was not an unreasonable way to run things. (The world is unfair, it seems.) Still. One did so want Spike to stick around as a bit of grit in the system; a thumb in the eye.

One of the (very) few saving graces of Angel's fifth season is that it did its level best to revert the subversion: just because you were touched by grace was no guarantee; there are no Lordly Elect, and there's always work to be done.

The other thing about the Voodoo model is that the espirit and the gros bon ange are both "outside" you, from the larger world or community or spirit-life or whatever you want to call it: gifts given to you, and returned by you upon death (though I'm probably doing some distressing damage to the concept by so privileging the petit bon ange with the sense of identity). So there's a couple of models of what might happen when a girl is called as a Slayer: the death of the previous Slayer could release the specific gros bon ange, that then finds the next in line, swoops in, and replaces her gros bon ange with itself. (Except, of course, it's darkly hinted that it isn't really a bon ange. But it is quite, quite gros.) —Or it could be a matter of espirit, which to my mind works better: girls are marked as potential Slayers from birth, after all. They're born affiliated with the Slayer spirit; the death of the previous Slayer merely awakens the espirit of the next, giving her the mojo and the gumption and the oomph (and the Slayer strength and reflexes) to get the job done. The big finale merely awakens all the currently dormant Slayer espirits at once.

But now I have to go take the butternut squash out of the oven and get the yeast underway. So.

#145 ::: Jax ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 11:23 AM:

NelC wrote: Plus, I have to say, Buffy's "We'll do it my way because I'm right" attitude at the time was a little bit unpalatable to me. She needed a bit of a shake-up, IMHO, though the vote of no-confidence probably went too far.

Yeah, I agree with you that she needed a wake up call, but having her sister stand up to her in such a ridiculous and unnecessary manner went too far. The gang essentially turned their backs on her when they would have done better to simply tell her they weren't going to follow the game plan until x happened. Which would have set Buffy brooding and possibly exiting anyway, but it wouldn't have been the ungrateful banishment it turned out to be. JMHO

#146 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 11:44 AM:

Various:

Kip: aaarrggghhhh, feeding metaphysics to people before the big Sludgefood Fest of the USA?! MORE indigestion!

Dunkin' Donuts--when MIT hackers [the old definition, not the debasement by jackass narcissistic journalissts] put a campus cop car on the top of the Great Dome some years ago, next to the dummy figure in uniform, was a box of Dunkin' Donuts. The campus police said that the stereotype was accurate.

Other:

Would one be likely to be disappeared into a legal black hole by the S/t/a/s/i N/i/g/h/t/w/a/t/c/h s/e/c/r/e/t p/o/l/i/c/e neocon extremist Republican dictatorship goon squad if taking an effigy of Schmuck and hacking it up in commemoration of e.g. Dionysian rites or scapegoating? [The account of scapegoating is that the goat was essentially -smashed- into the rocks down the hils, thrown from the heights with force onto rocks below. I wonder how accurate the translations are that Schmuck claims he reads and if there is commentary by people who were -familiar- with the rite as it was practiced... I have major doubts about it.]

Schmuck can't be gotten at to be tarred and feathered -personally-, however....

#147 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2004, 10:00 PM:

Clark E. Myers noted that
"Might or might not want to support Tim Leatherman - he made a lot of his usual customers mad by endorsing and supporting John Kerry."

Tony Maglica of Maglite is a pretty heavy-duty Republican supporter, and Chuck Buck (of knife fame) goes out of his way to tell his customers that God is the senior partner in the firm.

It's an interesting question: how should a corporation's ideology affect the customer's attitude toward their products?

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


#148 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 05:20 AM:

I just wanted to stop by and wish a Happy Thanksgiving from me in Australia. This site is one of my favourite daily reads, and I get a lot out of it, so thank you, Teresa and Patrick, for providing such a marvellous forum.

#149 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 07:39 AM:

Happy Turkey Digestion to all who need it. Meanwhile, this was the only place I could think of to post this link to a photo gallery of art dolls made by a woman in Japan; they're lingeringly beautiful, yet creepy (or vice-versa), in some sort of no-man's-land between Sargent paintings and Lolicon.

#150 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 10:00 AM:

I am looking for a book I read in the 60's. It was a disaster book like "Day of the Triffids". The content was about experimental dogs, cats, rats and mice receiving advanced mental abilities and the ensuing world disaster when the experimental animals escape and breed true. I believe the animals were called Padget's or Paget's Pets or some variation. I am unsure of the book title.

Can anyone help? I would like to reread this novel.

-- Pete Holden

#151 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 02:10 PM:

Talking of lost books, I saw a review of a book a few weeks ago which would be a perfect Christmas present (for anyone, really), if only I could find the review or the remember the right title. It's something like, "The Care and Feeding of Dinosaurs", or maybe "Dinosaurs: An Owners' Manual" -- except it isn't either of those -- and the conceit is about dinosaurs as pets. ("Dinosaurs as Pets"...? No, that's not it.) Anybody have a clue which book this is?

#152 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 02:43 PM:

Kip, thank you for that. Very interesting. I ran a short-lived SFRPG campaign a while ago, kind of Buffy crossed with Bubblegum Crisis, and I had to address the status of AIs, androids and uploaded humans vis-a-vis possession of souls; if I ever start it up again, this bit of theory will come in very useful. Thanks again.

I hope the squash came out okay.

#153 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 03:03 PM:

In re the Getting at the Multitool Blade Problem, the margin is too small -- no, the heck with that. The Leatherman Wave is designed so that the drop-point and saw blades can be opened one-handed while the main tool is closed; both lock back. Otherwise, it's a conventional Leatherman -- open to reveal the pliers, other tools inside the handles (where they're no easier to get at than one expects of multitools).

Of course, the new gen of Swiss Army Cybertool has a USB flash drive built in, which is exactly what you want in your Derek Flint Pocket Arsenal. That and Tempest. (The game, not the protocol.)

#154 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 03:30 PM:
Talking of lost books, I saw a review of a book a few weeks ago which would be a perfect Christmas present (for anyone, really), if only I could find the review or the remember the right title. It's something like, "The Care and Feeding of Dinosaurs", or maybe "Dinosaurs: An Owners' Manual" -- except it isn't either of those -- and the conceit is about dinosaurs as pets. ("Dinosaurs as Pets"...? No, that's not it.) Anybody have a clue which book this is?

A quick Google on +"dinosaurs as pets" +book shows it to probably be How to Keep Dinosaurs.

#155 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 07:13 PM:

For Pete Holden via J. Vos Post: the book you're trying to remember is most likely _The Fittest_ by J.T. McIntosh, from 1955.

http://www.scifan.com/titles/title.asp?TI_titleid=21550

#156 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 07:31 PM:

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

-- Anonymous 9th-century Irish monk
(On display near the Book of Kells, Trinity College, Dublin)

Back from my week in Ireland. Happy happy.

#157 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 07:43 PM:

Thanks, Dan, that's sorted out at least three Christmas presents for me.

Didn't actually occur to me to try Google, probably didn't think I had enough specific words to make a useful search.

#158 ::: Ambar ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 08:40 PM:

Xeger --

I fell in love with this. Now I own it. But, as you say, not something I can carry about in my pocket.

#159 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 09:47 PM:

J. Greely --

Way back up there -- clarification appreciated. I was conflating my Russells.

#160 ::: Sally Beasley ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 10:25 PM:

Steve, thank you for that poem. Now I know where the name of the cat comes from, in Robert Carter's The Language of Stones. Which I've recently read, and which impressed me as the first book I've ever come across which was really like Tolkien in its use of language - as opposed to the all-too-common cover blurb which compares a fantasy book or trilogy to Tolkien, and is often a sign that one should run screaming in the opposite direction.

#161 ::: Mary R ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2004, 11:44 PM:

They are getting closer.

Stopped at the Iroquois rest area on the New York State Thruway (westbound, just before tica). Thought I'd pick up a magazine. Went back to the shop. No magazines, no paperback novels, just a floor to ceiling rack of "Inspirational Reading." They are getting a letter from me.

They expect only Christian drivers on the
New York State Thruway?

#162 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 12:23 AM:

Mike Ford wrote,

Of course, the new gen of Swiss Army Cybertool has a USB flash drive built in, which is exactly what you want in your Derek Flint Pocket Arsenal. That and Tempest. (The game, not the protocol.)

Does that mean that someone goofing with it gets their tool cut off and tempest-toss'd?

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

And I found yet ANOTHER Dunkin' Donuts in proximity to the Readercon hotel-- take the Winn Street exit, which is a mile or less east of the 3/3A exit which the hotel is on the northwest corner of the intersection of--Winn Street is the next exit east after US 3 south/3A north, otherwise know in Burlington and "Cambridge Street. Take Winn Street south--going north on Winn Street, is the long way to get to a Dunkin' Donuts I mentioned before (Winn Street's northern terminus is Cambridge Street in Burlington slightly more than a mile north of the hotel). A few hundred feet south from 128 (I-95, or if you want a name, the Yankee Division Highway, but good luck actually FINDING a sign or reference that's functional that ever mentions that!) on right hand side of the road, is another of the ubiquitous Dunkin Donuts, which I think is in Woburn, not Burlington (Massachusetts cities and town tend to be at most 36 square miles in area, if you've been driving for a while and are still in the same locality, you're been traveling on street than have go you going in loops).

I happened to notice it yesterday on the way to my uncle's house.

[I wonder just tedious I am getting with this stuff.... elephant-grape-sine-(Dunkin' Donuts)... [crossing Jonathan's charging mammoth Math Geekery with purple fried dough]

#163 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 01:56 AM:

Pangur Bán— This poem is from the margins of the Reichenau Primer, now at Benediktinerstift St. Paul im Lavanttal (Kärnten) - St. Paul in Carinthia. The Irish is roughly ninth century, and it was likely scribbed by a scribe in a moment of whimsey. It's sort of crammed in in a bit of blank space at the bottom of the page. It's been translated many, many times. Pangur is "cat" and "bán" is "white."

It's one of the poems that made me want to learn Irish.

#164 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 03:38 AM:

To Lisa Spangenburg anent "Pangur Ban"

Thanks for the info about a nice poem. Question, though: In modern Scots Gaelic "cat" is just "cat." Presumably it's ultimately a loanword from Latin, perhaps by way of English.

Is "pangur" an older loanword (as suggested by the initial "p")? Did the Scots at some point just supplant an older word by borrowing the English one?

(I got interested in Scots Gaelic after hearing the Scottish folk-rock group Capercaillie in the mid 90s--not, to be sure, as exalted as a medieval poem! :)

#165 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 05:30 AM:

Paula Lieberman wrote:
[I wonder just tedious I am getting with this stuff.... elephant-grape-sine-(Dunkin' Donuts)... [crossing Jonathan's charging mammoth Math Geekery with purple fried dough]

Well, I don't think he's a topologist-- he'd be able to tell the difference between a donut and a coffee cup.

#166 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 07:33 AM:

"For Pete Holden via J. Vos Post: the book you're trying to remember is most likely _The Fittest_ by J.T. McIntosh, from 1955."

Also titled (in pb) The Rule of the Pagbeasts.

#167 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 08:58 AM:

Lisa Spangenburg wrote:
Pangur Bán— This poem is from the margins of the Reichenau Primer, now at Benediktinerstift St. Paul im Lavanttal (Kärnten) - St. Paul in Carinthia.

Cool, thanks, that's more information than I'd seen on the display. I Googled it when I got home and found other translations as well, but the one I posted was the abridged one that was on the wall in Trinity College (and helpfully copied out in their brochure). It's the coolest poem about writing I can remember coming across, and this blog was the second or third thing that went through my mind on reading it. >8->

Of the Book of Kells, I will say only that pictures don't come close to doing it justice. What you miss is the incredible texture of the pages, the shine and thickness of the animal and mineral inks. That's when it sinks in that an astonishing amount of money and very intense years of labor went into crafting the book, and the whole enterprise only makes sense as an act of pure love.

#168 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 09:11 AM:

In modern Scots Gaelic "cat" is just "cat." Presumably it's ultimately a loanword from Latin, perhaps by way of English.

Naw. It's English from the Germanic side, (unattested) kattuz. Whether the Romans borrowed it from the English and then the Irish from the Romans, or the other way 'round, I don't know.

Calligraphing and illuminating a verse from that poem, in Irish, was my apprenticeship application project in the SCA. My calligraphy was OK - sorta - but the illumination was terrible. Never did get really good at that part. (Or the calligraphy part, either, to be honest, but I was marginally competent at that, a level I never attained in illumination.)

#169 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 11:38 AM:

Damn, damn, damn! After all the good advice here I decided to do some searching on eBay for pricing. I decided while there I'd look at *every* listing for "Kershaw knife" on eBay and found my old pocket knife being sold in a bundle with two similar but smaller versions. An auction which I lost by $1.00. Damn!

#170 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 11:50 AM:

Xopher said, re "cat:"

"Naw. It's English from the Germanic side, (unattested) kattuz. Whether the Romans borrowed it from the English and then the Irish from the Romans, or the other way 'round, I don't know."

Webster's (Merriam-Webster's 7th Collegiate ed., 1971) claimed that "cat" is from "a prehistoric NGmc-WGmc word probably borrowed from LL _cattus_, _catta_," but perhaps they're not the most current ref. (I _did_ check :) Certainly German _Katz_ shows that the borrowing, if such it was, occurred before the High German sound shift.

#171 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 12:06 PM:

Skwid: thanks for posting the photo. It looks good: too bad it's no longer available.

John: A friend of mine has a friend that owns the cane from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, which I humbly submit beats the 83 functions of Derek Flint's lighter all to hell in the style department. My friend has been trying to arrange to measure it and build a copy for some time: if he pulls it off I'll let you know...it wouldn't be as cool as owning one of the working "Twin Hannibal 8's" (one of which can be rented if you're in L.A.) from The Great Race, but it's close.

Larry: My Leatherman is an older, non-locking type, which is why when I attended the surreal first-ever Gerber Factory Parking Lot Sale I bought Gerber's Multi-tool, which has a locking mechanism for the blades. And developed a different perspective on ancient Asian grandmothers and the crime problem in Portland--but that's another story...

#172 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 12:42 PM:

This week is the last of the Beading For a Cure auctions -- bracelets, necklaces, my evening purse, a tote bag, and a pig that comes with jewelry.

http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQgotopageZ1QQsassZbeadingforacure

#173 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 01:02 PM:
And I found yet ANOTHER Dunkin' Donuts in proximity to the Readercon hotel

You've missed at least one - from the hotel, turn left, go to Middlesex Turnpike, turn right, go until you see a Citizen's Bank on the left, and the Dunkin' Donuts is in the mostly-dead strip mall behind it.

However, I have to ask - why track down every DD near the hotel? Is there such a shortage of mediocre doughnuts outside the Boston area that all the con attendees are going to rush out to find one?

#174 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 02:11 PM:

First, I seem to have screwed up my post on "Pangur Bán". This is likely due in part to my laziness in stealing from a post I made elsewhere, and modifying it on the fly.

Pangur is the name of the cat. The name the cat is called is . . .

Pangur is indeed a loan word, like all Gaelic words with initial p. It's known only as a name for cats, though not always male cats, but it's probably derived from the Greek or Latin word for panther. Which of the two languages is the one responsible for "pangur" is not likely to be resolved any time soon, since it's been debated since the 1920s, with equally scant evidence either way.

In fact now that I think of it, there's oddities about cat names and references in early Manx, and Welsh, too. There's no question about English "cat" though; it's from *kattuz, in proto-Germanic, and there's cognates in early I.E. languages as well, so says Pokorney, and Calvert Watkins agrees, here.

But part of my fascination, aside from the fact that it's a super poem, is that it's one of those things that only exists as a marginal gloss, of the variety known as doodle. It's on a leaf of the Pauline epistles, though I forget which bit, There's a bit of evidence (in the form of corrections) to suggest that it was written on the fly, and slightly edited as it was being written. It suddenly makes that anonymous scribe a living person.

#175 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 03:28 PM:

Thanks, Lisa. “Cat” was in the Lesson 1 vocabulary, as in the example sentence:

“Tha an cù dubh ach tha an cat bàn.”

so I wondered! I’ll also update my mental etymology for “cat.”

Have you heard Capercaillie? There's something decidedly surreal about electrified Gaelic lyrics... Some are electric renditions of traditional songs, a la Steeleye Span in English, but others are contemporary original compositions; e.g., "Breisleach" ("Delirium"), the title track of the eponymous (in English) album, ca. 1995. It's probably not as good as "Pangur Bàn"--it's just a schmaltzy love song--but it's saved by (a) being in Gaelic; and (b) Karen Matheson's vocals.

Of course, there are a number of bands (e.g., Altan, Clannad) doing similar things in Irish, although perhaps with a bit more traditional emphasis.


#176 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 04:38 PM:

Steve Gillett asks if I like Capercaillie.

I do. Quite a bit. I also like Altan, and Steeleye Span (I've been collecting versions of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer), and much of Clannad, though Enya is a bit iffy. I've been pleased to see some of the smaller labels like Rounder, and Green Linnet, and Folkways appearing on iTunes. In terms of the more modern Celtic music genre question, it's one I've been wrestling with for a while, without a lot of success. I've been trying to write a review for Greenman Review of a Celtic/Eletronic/Techno cd by Paul Mounsey called City of Walls for an indecently long time now, II very much like the album, but I lack the non-Celtic, non-Early Music genre knowledge to properly pigeon hole it, and I suppose that difficulty is a good indication of Mounsey's innovation.

#177 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 05:42 PM:

I was always partial to Runrig.

#178 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 07:12 PM:

Lisa Spangenberg wrote:

>I also like Altan, and Steeleye Span (I've been collecting versions of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer),

You must have Fairport Convention's version of "Tam Lin" off "Liege & Lief" then, with Sandy Denny's vocals, also Tempest's on "Serrated Edge," and Tanya Opland's "True Thomas", off her "Renaissance Fair" tape.

I've been collecting versions of "John Barleycorn."

Steeleye Span's been a favorite of mine ever since I first encountered them in the mid-70s, on a tape I heard in Chinle, AZ, in the middle of the Navajo reservation(!) I was visiting a friend there who was a teacher in the ESL program. She spoke fluent Finnish, and she'd gotten the job because since she had demonstrated fluency in a non-IE language, they figured she could learn Navajo. (Turned out she could.)

#179 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 07:14 PM:

I realize that this is fairly off-topic, and therefore apologize, but this is an open thread and I thought some folks here might get a kick out of this:

http://www.vidlit.com/agent/agent.html

#180 ::: Jason ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 07:15 PM:

Come to think of it, given current (and past) linguistic discussions, this one might be worth looking at, too:

http://www.vidlit.com/yidlit/yidlit.html

#181 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 08:09 PM:

Robert Carter's The Language of Stones

Sally Beasley: Your description of this book piques my curiosity, but neither Powells or Amazon seem to know it. Have you gotten the title or author slightly wrong?

MKK

#182 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 08:43 PM:

My favorite version of "Thomas The Rhymer" is by Ewan MacColl on an album of unaccompanied ballads. The tune he uses is a variant of "Searching For Lambs," completely unrelated to Steeleye Span's (which is another entry in the long list of possible settings for "Jabberwocky").

In addition to all the electro-folk already mentioned, I'll put in a good word for Boiled In Lead, Mr. Fox, and Trees.

#184 ::: Sally Beasley ::: (view all by) ::: November 27, 2004, 11:32 PM:

Mary Kay:

Robert Carter's The Language of Stones is a British publication. I don't know how it got to Australia, in fact! I found it in my local library, but amazon.co.uk has it listed. I think I'll be ordering a copy from them, or getting my brother to buy it for me as a Christmas present.

#185 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 01:56 AM:

Dan Blum: However, I have to ask - why track down every DD near the hotel? Is there such a shortage of mediocre doughnuts outside the Boston area that all the con attendees are going to rush out to find one?

The point is that DD's are an odd icon of Boston navigation. (Also applies to New Jersey, although there it's often accompanied by the phrase "and then there's this light.") I don't think I've ever gotten metro Boston driving directions that didn't mention a DD and at least one missing sign. ("Well, everybody knows it's Mass Ave, so why should there be a sign?")

#186 ::: Walt Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 09:01 AM:

Steve Gillett wrote:
> Have you heard Capercaillie? There's something decidedly surreal about electrified Gaelic lyrics...

I'll also throw in a good word for electrified Swedish... Especially the group Garmarna

See http://www.noside.com/Catalog/CatalogArtist_01.asp?Action=Get&Artist_ID=14 for information about them, with links to some videos so you can hear the music.

#187 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 10:25 AM:

Steve Gillet: mine was The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000.

BTW that * before the word means "unattested," i.e. it's a reconstruction via soundchange etc., and hasn't actually been found in any written source. I just put 'unattested' before my citation rather than explain this.

#188 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 11:14 AM:

My favorite version of everything is whatever Ewan MacColl did with it. Ewan MacColl had the most beautiful voice in the world, and he knew exactly how to modulate it to impart emotions and elusive ideas into it and always sound genuine.

I think the largest number of his records are with A.L. Lloyd, who was the slyest, cleverest, bawdiest ever. And then a lot with Peggy Seeger.

Besides traditional songs, he wrote topical songs: his song "The Manchester Rambler" people think is a folk song, and his song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" people think comes from Johnny Cash or 98 degrees or Roberta Flack or something.

He also produced wonderful radio plays about working class stories with authentic interviews and music interspersed with stuff he'd written for the purpose. Hot things. They've been published on CD -- google, google, on TGopic.

another guy the US banned from its shores for many years because he had politics.

Button pushed. I imprinted on the man's voice in early childhood, and I rarely meet anybody else who knows, I guess because I don't travel and he's another guy the US banned from its shores for many years because he had politics.

#189 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 12:21 PM:

And to tie him to the electric folk thread, Boiled In Lead did a very fast version of "Go! Move! Shift!"

#190 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 06:53 PM:

For variations of John Barleycorn, Heather Alexander put it to a new tune (Interrupted periodically by a slowed down version of a jig/reel), which I liked in spite of having occasional doubts about that kind of re-setting. (I nearly blew my top when I heard my boyfriend's father's church do the lyrics to Amazing Grace to a crappy monotonous pop-rock tune. Of course, Steeleye Span - and most non-Carthy members working solo - do it often, or throw in choruses where none were before, but they've *earned* my trust over a goodly bit of time. If I heard they'd reset Amazing Grace, I'd still give it a listen. It wouldn't be crappy monotonous pop, to be sure.)

But the best version I've heard of John Barleycorn so far is Maddy Prior's solo, off her newest studio album Lionhearts, which unfortunately has one of her weakest song cycles on it; I usually like the cyclical work. But the standalone songs make up for it.

I wasn't blown away by Capercaillie until I ehard the album Beautiful Wasteland, which... well, it isn't what you'd expect from a group sometimes doing Trad Irish Celtic, and sometimes doing New Age Irish Celtic.

Garmarna; yum yum yum. I've spent the past month switching between Oysterband (due to Post election blues) and their Hildegard Von Bingen, which is stunning.


To veer off topic a bit (Though some of the relevant groups hardly change), everyone here knows Winter/Christmas music is Boney M, Bing Crosby, and stale horrid mall music... except when it isn't. I've been trying to amass a collection of the really good stuff - anybody have suggestions? So far my top pick is Heather Dale's This Endris Night, which beat the Carnival Band by a landslide. This year's shameless Christmas music pick-up was the Blind Boys of Alabama (Another mixed bag, but it seemed a fair risk for someone addicted to vocal harmonies).

#191 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 07:15 PM:

If I may be so bold: I just put up a collection of Christmas tunes (one recorded per year for the last twelve years) at my site:

Let Nothing You Dismay

The style varies wildly from year to year, but I'm pretty sure no one would describe any of it as "mall music." The folkiest numbers are "Cherry Tree Carol" and "Down In The Forest."

#192 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 07:23 PM:

Maddy Prior has done a Christmas collection, and there are some Christmas songs on the Watersons' "Frost and FIre."

But the best Christmas song ever -- not a carol, but a ballad (in the story telling sense, not in the weird pop music sense) -- is Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family" and is it a spoiler to say what the best line is?

I don't understand spoiler phobia but I try to respect people.

Here it is in ROT-13, just in case it is a spoiler and somebody cares:

"Fvfgre'f oblsevraq jnf n Zrkvpna/Jr qvqa'g xabj whfg jung gb znxr bs uvz/gvyy ur fnat Sryvm Anivqnq"

The reason it's the best line is because of everything it reveals about Texas culture, for good and bad.

#193 ::: Walt Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 07:33 PM:

Lenora Rose said:
> If I heard they'd [Steeleye Span] reset Amazing Grace, I'd still give it a listen. It wouldn't be crappy monotonous pop, to be sure.)

The Blind Boys of Alabama set Amazing Grace to The House of the Rising Sun on their album Spirit of the Century.

Short sample available via Amazon, at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000059MEM/ref=m_art_li_3/002-3467593-4606420?v=glance&s=music
or, for a shorter URL,
http://tinyurl.com/5zyka

Walt

#194 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 08:41 PM:

Y'all know about Traffic's version of John Barleycorn, right?

#195 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 09:06 PM:

For Christmas, I'm fond of Stop the Cavalry and also of Joan Baez's Noel album.

#196 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 09:16 PM:

Non-muzak Christmas music?

Well, there's the Barra MacNeils "Christmas Album", The Irish Descendants "The Gift", and Loreena McKennit's "To Drive the Cold Winter Away" -- very traditional carols -- and "A Winter Garden", which is short (five tracks), but has a version of "Good King Wencelas" I like a lot.

#197 ::: Nancy ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 09:17 PM:

There's a sort-of-local band around here (Western New York) that does Jon Barleycorn with a different electric guitar solo every time. The band is Kilbrannan; a friend of mine said they were close to traditional, but the fiddle was taken out and the electric guitar put in. The guitar player could (I think) front for any 80s rock band one could choose.

I've been to many shows, and own all their albums; they are a great band, and also a bunch of nice people.

#198 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 10:10 PM:

The Barleycorn versions I've got are:

Steeleye Span's (from Below the Salt)
Traffic's (from John Barleycorn Must Die!)
Heather Alexander's (from Wanderlust)
Golden Bough's (from Celtic Music) (similar to Steeleye's)
John Renbourn Group's (from Live in America) (somewhat similar to Traffic's, except for Jacqui McShee's vocals!)
Wayne Erbsen's (from An Old-Fashioned Wingding) (instrumental)

all in a nice .mp3 playlist!

Just goes to show there's no such thing as a "canonical" version of a trad song...

Thanks much to everyone for all the suggestions--

#199 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2004, 10:45 PM:

Connie H. and Bruce Arthurs:

Re: Padgets's Pets or Paget's Pets
[paperback title]

Thank you so much for the information. I have been looking for that title for a long time....

I am a retired high school counselor...

Thanks a bunch, the internet is a truly wonderful thing, thanks to VP Gore, I suppose.

-- Pete Holden, Science Fiction/Fantasy Junkie

#200 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 02:03 AM:

For anyone who knew about it (and we had friends from as far away as Toronto and the Los Angeles area), the Wilson "Bob" Tucker 90th birthday tribute went well. I think we've decided that maybe doing an annual event in Bloomington, IL may be a good thing for him and us (he can't travel, we can...) I sniffed as much Beam's Choice as I could stand for 'smooths,' and generally had a good time (a lot of people want a time machine specifically for going back in time, convincing the young Bob to like something better....)

The drive home was 'special' because of stupid people. But that's another blog entirely (my LJ--tomorrow/today (29th)). All that counts is we got home safe and sound... in 12 HOURS.

Paula

#201 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 06:37 AM:

Anent Walt's recommendation of Garmarna, I will add a heart-felt "amen!", and a recommendation for the Swedish/Finnish electrified music of Hedningarna and Gjallarhorn, and (in a somewhat more traditional vein) Loituma and Värttinä (both in Finnish), and Ranarim (in Swedish).

Also, Eläkeläiset!

#202 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:40 AM:

For lovely Gaelic electric folk, seek anything by Mary Jane Lamond. Her album Suas E' includes electric guitars, spinning wheels, and spinner's choirs.

#203 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 09:54 AM:

Current 93 did an interesting version of "Tamlin" that can be found on the compilation SixSixSix: SickSickSick. David Tibet's voice is an acquired taste, so don't go for this one if you prefer your balladry melodic or pretty, but it is a properly unseelie and terrifying take on it. (Similarly, C93 do a version of "O Coal Black Smith," the song Steeleye Span recorded as "Two Magicians," with an original tune and their distinctive Apocalyptic Folk aesthetic.)

Steve Gillett, you're missing the In Gowan Ring peformance of "John Barleycorn," found on Exists and Entrances vol. 4. It feels a bit like a cover of the Traffic version, but B'eirth's vocals are so lovely it's worth the price of admission. (In Gowan Ring should be on the CD changer of every lover of pseudo-medieval folk anyway; start with Hazel Steps Through a Weathered Home and work back from there.)

#204 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:27 AM:

My woe continues: we tried the Borders in Clifton Park and the Borders in Albany and a Waldenbooks in somewhere-or-other-mall and no Bad Magic to be found. We were running out of time (the father-in-law was watching the baby and he was probably going to kill us if we took any longer than three hours--and we'd spent an hour getting lunch) or I'd've checked Flights of Fantasy, too, and others. Wah!

Leaving for WA today, so I guess I can check the B&N and Hastings in Richland after we recover...but I did try, I did!

#205 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:38 AM:

Nah, the best John Barleycorn is by the Watersons.

(but the best experience is to sing it yourself, to people who've never heard it before)

#206 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 12:18 PM:

I have versions of JB by The Johnstons, Steeleye Span, Maddy Prior, The Young Tradition, and Traffic. Surprisingly (at least I'm surprised), my favorite is the Traffic version. I find it really evocative. The YT come in a close (harmony) second, and the Johnstons have an interesting Irish take. I don't like Maddy Prior's arrangement, and I don't like Steeleye Span's tune.

Sounds as if I need to get Frost and Fire. I'm not sure why I don't have it already, considering how much Watersonia I already own.

#207 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 01:50 PM:

I haven't heard other versions, but it seems to me that if you like the Traffic version of JB you're in it because it's an early manifestation of jazz fusion as much as you're in it for renditions of traditional music. That whole album interested me for that reason.

#208 ::: regina ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 02:34 PM:

holiday music recommendation: 'Winter Dreams' by Navajo flutist, Carlos Nakai is unusual enough that it gives freshness to familiar tunes and the unfamiliar ones are just as haunting and lovely.

Highly recommended.

#209 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 02:42 PM:

I had never thought of Traffic as fusion, but I guess I can see it. In any case, they don't usually do much for me. "Low Spark" is pretty good, but other than that it's just JB that I like. I'm not even sure I've heard the rest of that album.

#210 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 02:50 PM:

Renbourn and McShee were both members of the Pentangle, which did everything from traditional folk tunes to (acoustic) jazz and blues. Their album Sweet Child (ca. 1970), in particular, is a lot jazzier than their earlier ones.

The Renbourn Group version of JB uses Traffic's minor-key tune and darker lyrics, but they sing it kind of as a round, with McShee's vocals lagging the male voices by about 2 measures (! - it does work). Talk about fusion, too-one of the accompanying instruments is a sitar.

Btw, if the Pentangle hasn't already been mentioned in this sub-thread, it probably should be.


#211 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 03:30 PM:

I forgot that I have the Renbourn Group version on cassette (i.e., not in iTunes). Like the Steeleye Span version, although to a smaller extent, I consider it a dud from a group I usually like. It's just a bit too stuffy.

I think Basket of Light is the best starting point for Pentangle--it seems more fully baked than Sweet Child, and the blend of folk, jazz and early music is pretty seamless. Gotta have "The Trees They Do Grow High," though.

#212 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Mr. Walters, I guess I was really referring to the balance of that particular album. JB itself may not have been fusion, but some of the other material, particularly "Glad," strikes me as a synthesis of jazz/rock.

#213 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 05:27 PM:

I just want to recommend "Bob" which was just added to Particles today. I watched over half of it before I caught something important about the lyrics....

Here's the URL again (trimmed):

http://...videoid=u_wierdalyankovic_bob

#214 ::: Walt Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 05:42 PM:

No one seems to have mentioned Jethro Tull's rendition of John Barleycorn yet (from A Little Light Music). It's more rock-oriented than the Steeleye Span version; I can't compare to any of the other versions mentioned in this thread because other than this one I seem to have only Steeleye Span versions.

cd: Thanks for reminding me of Hedningarna, Gjallarhorn, and Värttinä; I have some of their recordings, too, but I haven't listened to them as much as I do Garmarna. I should rectify that situation. And thanks for mentioning the other Scandinavian groups as that gives me some more to try.

#215 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 06:26 PM:

If you're looking for a traditional recording of John Barleycorn, John Langstaff did one some 40 years ago -- no accompaniment at all, just solo baritone at a death-march tempo. Certainly closer to the way it would have been sung. (No, I can't name the album; it was \many/ moves ago.)

#216 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 06:27 PM:

I just want to recommend "Bob" which was just added to Particles today. I watched over half of it before I caught something important about the lyrics....

Here's the URL again (trimmed):

http://...videoid=u_wierdalyankovic_bob


Might there be a version somewhere for those of who don't have Windows RealPlayer. And who don't WANT it. She asked wistfully?

MKK

#217 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 06:55 PM:

If you just want a version of RealPlayer that doesn't report back to the RealPlayer mothership, the one that's downloadable from the BBC's website can't "phone home." As I understand it, Real was forced to come up with such a version or lose their BBC contract. Notice that Real doesn't publicize this...

#218 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 07:32 PM:

and now for something completely different...

Her Majesty, now (as of last week) nine, warmed up with the Chronicles of Narnia over the summer, whipped through the Series of Unfortunate Events and is coming to the end of such Harry Potter as there is.

Likes: wordplay, elegant writing, characters she recognizes as real.

Also likes: Goosebumps (I blame her grandmother).

We only have the four books in the Wrinkle in Time series and the rest of the Terry Pratchett oeuvre* to go before we're set adrift in a sea of licensed characters (which she thinks are cool because we turned off the cable and she doesn't get to watch them). At her current rate of consumption, this will take her through about half of her Christmas visit at Grandma's house.

Turnoffs: dystopian world views, bullies winning.

Help.

*Hat Full of Sky is amazing.

#219 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 07:41 PM:

I don't usually listen to music because of the season, but the things I like that are Christmassy are:

Handel's Messiah, A Soulful Celebration (the music is re-interpreted as soul, with some famous soul/gospel singers for the soloists)

And three from Ensemble Galilei (which is usually instrumental):

A Winter's Night
Following the Moon*
Ancient Noels

*The title song of this CD is one of my favorite pieces of music.

#220 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 07:49 PM:

Looking at my list of books from fourth grade for stuff you have't mentioned that I liked (some of which I now like less):

Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books
The Hobbit
E. L. Konigsburg (From the Mixed of Files, etc.). I read everything by Konigsburg I could find.
Joan Aiken (Wolves of Willoughby Chase and sequels)
Rawlings The Yearling

#221 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:01 PM:

julia -- Hat Full of Sky is effing brilliant.

Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books should be in your list. In about a year, the first three Earthseas. Some Pinkwater for rebellion -- Lizard Music is a good start, IMO. Aiken's short stories are better than her novels, which is saying a lot.

If you want more recommendations, just let me know.

And, to change the subject yet again:

Does anyone here know the first usage of the term "arc" as in "story arc" as in "a plot item that will not be resolved in the current story but will be Important in future stories set in this universe"? It's an interesting usage, and I
would not like to see its origins get lost.

#222 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:05 PM:

M-RH-M should take in Daniel Pinkwater's books for older kids, such as the Snarkout Boys adventures. I believe these are collected in the two Pinkwater novel collections.

Her cousins are getting a wallop of Pinkwater this Christmas. The two Mush books, and Looking for Bobowicz. (sp?)

#223 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:31 PM:

She has one Pinkwater omnibus, but I'd love more. We're all about Larry the Polar Bear around here.

Tom - please, if you have any. We've finally convinced all the mommies whose birthday party circles we're in that bookstore giftcards are acceptable birthday gifts/party favors, so we have a mother-daughter outing to Books of Wonder and the Barnes and Noble at the Citicorp Center coming up.

#224 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:37 PM:

How about Diana Wynne-Jones? I've only read Dogsbody, but I thought it was outstanding.

It might be for children a little older than nine, though.

#225 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 08:42 PM:

julia - I can second all of the recommendations above, as well as particularly recommending "The Second Mrs. Giaconda" from Konigsburg.

I bought the Prydain books a few years ago, as they were some of the few books that I had read repeatedly at that age and did not own, and was astonished. I realized upon the re-reading (undiluted by subsequent rereading in the last 20 years or so), that that was when I learned that word, or crystallized that concept, or...

She may be too young for the "His Dark Materials" series, but they are excellent as well - I would recommend reading them yourself (if you haven't already - John and I both read and enjoyed them greatly a couple of years ago).

#226 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 09:26 PM:

Julia: As she seems to like series, you could try the Cairo Jim/ Jocelyn Osgood books by Australian Geoffrey McSkimming. Not published in the US yet, but you can probably get the first couple of titles from amazon.com. There are 15 books so far and they seem to be enduringly popular with 9-11 year old Australians.

#227 ::: Jane ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:00 PM:

Julia: There's more Madeleine L'Engle beyond the Wrinkle in Time. She'd probably like the Vicky Austin series (Meet the Austins, Arm of the Starfish, Ring of Endless Light).

Elizabeth Enright, Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away. Perhaps also her Melendy family books, The Saturdays, Four-Story Mistake, Spiderweb For Two, though they aren't fantasy.

Is it time to introduce Heinlein's juveniles? Or maybe she should wait another year.

#228 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2004, 10:18 PM:

Wow.

I spent the longest time trying to find The Four Story Mistake when all I could remember was that I really liked it and that Oliver used to pretend he was a fighter pilot shooting down purslane in the victory garden.

I thought L'Engle had just written the four about the Murrys. Cool.

#229 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 12:19 AM:

Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, + Stowaway to the MP and Mr. Bass' Planetoid by Eleanor Cameron

Five Children and It, Phoenix and the Carpet, Story of the Amulet, by E. Nesbit. (Also The Story of the Treasure Seekers, The Would-be-goods, The Railway Children)

The City Under the Back Steps by Evelyn Sibley Lampman

Finn Family Moomintroll (+ sequels and prequels) by Tove Jansson

The Ship That Flew by Hilda Lewis (this one is OP, hard to come by, but good).

#230 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:06 AM:

For Her Majesty:

Edward Eager wrote seven magic books, in roughly this order (somebody correct me if necessary):
Half Magic
Magic By the Lake
Knight's Castle
The Thyme Garden
Magic or Not
The Well Wishers
Seven-Day Magic

The first two are set in the 30s, the others in the late fifties-early sixties, about when they were written. Really excellent books. And witty.

If she's whipping through books, maybe the Phillip Pullman books (the Golden Compass, the Subtle Knife, the Amber Spyglass) will be accessible for her. If she's a regular nine year old reader save them for next spring or summer or maybe even the fall. They're pretty deep.

Everything by E. Nesbit. Especially The Five Children and It.

The Box of Delights, or When the Wolves were Running, by John Masefield.

Anything by Ransome. I think you start with Swallows and Amazons.

Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest books, and Mairelon the Magician, and The Enchanted Chocolate Pot.

You could also do worse than the Scholastic historical series -- "Dear America," diaries of girls in different periods, and one about young women in different periods (mostly queens and such, I think), and one that's the stories of boys in different periods. The American Girl books are another series which is much better than you'd think something written to such a tight formula could be.

Also, for historical novels, there's anything by Doris Gates -- probably Blue Willow, but you might be able to find Little Vic.

For stories about normal kids mooching along through life having weird little adventures and quirky ideas, there's nothing better than Gary Soto -- the stories are set in mostly-Hispanic Fresno, very downhome.

Anything by William Mayne. Especially The Grass Rope. Or A Swarm in May. She should read It when she's in the worst throes of beginning puberty -- find it for her when you can see the whites of its eyes. I read it to each of my children, and I think it's part of the reason we have always gotten along so well. It's about a poltergeist, kind of, and making peace with your unreasonable elders.

You can't go wrong with Jane Yolen either.

The book of Ella Enchanted is quite different from the movie, and wonderful, and you can pretty much trust Gail Levine to deliver (I thought the movie was pretty good, and I got over the disappointment that it wasn't the book pretty quickly, but the ways the book is better are pretty important -- and I'm not dogmatic on this book v movie stuff)

Oh, yes. Anything Pinkwater. Anything at all. There's a certain repetition of theme and character and plot detail, but these are things that bear repeating.

And well, I'll probably think of some other things later. I was nine when I read Maxim Gorky's Autobiography, and the Henrik Ibsen plays and Bertolt Brecht and Black Boy: but those were fortuitous things, and I haven't really pushed any child to read them.


#231 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:26 AM:

oops. I had my post on hold while doing other things, and posted without checking to see what else had arrived while I was out. So that's why the repetitions, and it looks like I wasn't listening. I wasn't.

#232 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:27 AM:

Lcy Kemnitzer: "Maddy Prior has done a Christmas album"

Do you mean besides the four with the Carnival band? I have two of the four.

On Books:

There are several L'Engle books about the Murrays, if you count the next generation on. One other is in the same time-travelling vein (An Acceptable Time), and a few that branch out into other veins of YA (The Arm of the Starfish, Dragons in the Waters, The Young Unicorns, A House Like a Lotus). I can't currently remember which all I'd recommend for a nine year old, though; some are quieter stories.

O.R. Melling?

Diana Wynne Jones has written books for almost every age of children. She'd probably love Archer's Goon or the 5 books in the Chrestomanci series (Which are more standalones in the same universe than the usual trilogy style fare - four novels, one story collection).

I was about that age when I got into Robin McKinley, though the first three times I read the Hero and the Crown, the places where it was out of chronological order puzzled me. Her more recent work (Deerskin and Sunshine) = NOT for kids.

Susan Cooper? If you skip the last couple of pages of the last book, the Dark is Rising Series stands up fairly well. (My favourite is Seaward, though)

#233 ::: Adrian Bedford ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:36 AM:

Julia--you could also try Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence. I only read these in recent years and enjoyed them very much. I think a voracious nine-year-old would enjoy them likewise, perhaps even more.

#234 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:46 AM:

On slashdot, a book review of 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of D&D.

Keywords: role playing games, histories; histories, tragic; layout, bad; editing, bad; worse, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad and

For bonus points, every slashdotter gets to chime in with their funniest home D&D experiences.

#235 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 02:25 AM:

There's also The Hobbit.

Diane Duane's Wizard series.

I actually like Mary Poppins, but I suppose those are for younger readers.

I cannot squee enough over Robin McKinley or the Susan Cooper books. Nod.

#236 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 02:34 AM:

Lucy: I believe that your listing of the Eager books is correct except that he wrote Knight's Castle before Magic by the Lake (and the first four should be read in publication order for best effect).

Tom: The first place that I can recall seeing "story arc" talking about TV was in discussion of a crime show called Wiseguy.

#237 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 03:16 AM:

"Knight's Castle" does precede "Magic By the Lake." I left the Eager books off my list (although they all sit fondly in my memory) because of Neil Gaiman's observation, awhile back, that they didn't hold up to rereading as well as he thought they would. I'm pretty sure that the Nesbit "Five Children" and Cameron "Mushroom Planet" books hold up pretty well.

#238 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:16 AM:

Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" -- it was my daughter's favourite book, lightly bowdlerised as her bedtime story when she was five.

I have to second the Lloyd Alexander "Prydain" books. They're also excellent for reading aloud: good characterisation, making it easy to find voices for each.

And for a change of pace, Susanna Clarke's recent novel "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell" would be superb.

We had fun with George MacDonald's "The Princess and the Goblin" and "The Princess and Curdie", but I can see they're not to everyone's taste.

#239 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:47 AM:

Definite seconds (thirds) for most of these, and a few notes to myself to look for books at the library.

Looking at my children's book collection, I'd like to add a few favorites to the list:

The Westmark books by Lloyd Alexander

One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes, though I'd warn her that he uses a great many words to mean things that they don't in our world.

The Green Knowe books by Lucy Maria Boston--actually, make this just the first two: Children of Green Knowe and Treasure of Green Knowe--the later books are very different and not as good, IMHO. They may be a little young--the protagonist certainly is--but I don't think drastically so.

Little Sister and The Heavenward Path by Kara Dalkey.

Whatever Peter Dickinson seems age-appropriate. The Changes trilogy (The Devil's Children, Heartsease, and The Weathermonger) might be a bit young, and Tulku might be a bit old, but they're all good.

Most of Donna Jo Napoli's books, though I admit to being biased because she was my thesis advisor. I think her older books (Stones in Water, For the Love of Venice...) are a little better stylistically, but I'd hold off on them for a few years...

The Old Kingdom books (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen) by Garth Nix, though Sabriel is much the best of the series. Mister Monday and its sequels look like they'll be pretty good as well, but some of his other stuff (Shade's Children and the Seven Towers books) is dreadful.

Some of John Steinbeck could be good if her reading is up to it--I read The Red Pony at 9, and Travels With Charley would be good as well. The reading level is higher than 9, but the themes on those two are compatible with 9-year-old sensibilities.

Cynthia Voigt is quite good, but her stuff should probably be put off for a few years. I tend to think of them as more teenaged in terms of subject matter.

#240 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 08:02 AM:

Those who like Harry Potter would do well to check out Sherwood Smith's "Wren" books, starting with Wren to the Rescue, which have newly been republished after far too long out of print.

#241 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 09:30 AM:

For more of the ordinary-kids-having-adventures type of story, Astrid Lindgren's Bill Bergson series. A bit hard to come by, not as twee as her Pippi Longstocking series, but worth finding. Set in Sweden, so there's a bit of cultural difference to keep it from being too ordinary.

And if she likes "real characters," try Anne of Green Gables. I regret not encountering Anne until I was in my late twenties. Also _A Little Princess_ by Burnett -- maybe _The Secret Garden_ as well, but I liked the characters in _A Little Princess_ better.

For over-the-top "elegant writing" that will warp her own writing style for months afterwards and drive her teachers nuts, Eddison's _The Worm Ouroborous_ -- I think I read it around age 12 or 13 the first time. If style is what she likes, she'll love this.

#242 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 09:34 AM:

Off-topic, I know; but did anyone follow the link to "The Poetry Workshop and its Discontents" by Briggs Seekins.

I finished a MFA in creative writing this year, and thought I had done good. But this is true, all true, and now I am ashamed.

#243 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 09:46 AM:

Lenny Bailes wrote:
"Knight's Castle" does precede "Magic By the Lake." I left the Eager books off my list (although they all sit fondly in my memory) because of Neil Gaiman's observation, awhile back, that they didn't hold up to rereading as well as he thought they would.

From an adult viewpoint I can agree with this -- I introduced my wife to one of the Eager books last year (I think it was The Well Wishers) and she couldn't get more than a couple of chapters in. All the characters were too nicey-nice for her, with barely a hint of conflict.

But when I was ten or so, they were amazing. I still have images in my head from those books, like the girl becoming the six-foot-tall knight in Knight's Castle, or the whole gang becoming turtles (I think that was in Seven Day Magic.) And for a nine-year-old discovering them for the first time, I don't see that lack of reread value is really going to be a problem.

#244 ::: genibee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 09:53 AM:

Some of these are seconds (or thirds), but for Her Majesty:

Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising Sequence, also Seaward
Diane Duane's Young Wizard books, particularly the first two
Suzy McKee Charnas (?) The Bronze King
I only had the first two Green Knowe books, but I loved them and reread them to pieces
I was a fan of the original Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Three Investigators, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden, and Dana Girls books - some more dated than others, but I enjoyed them a lot
Karen Kushman - Catherine, Called Birdie, and The Midwife's Apprentice
Garth Nix, Sabriel
Robin McKinley, Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword
I loved the Astrid Lindgren Pippi books, but I especially loved her book Ronia, the Robber's Daughter
Cornelia Funke, The Thief Lord and Inkheart

#245 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 10:43 AM:

I remember reading a book called "The Machine" in the 70's but I can't remember the author's name. Can you help me?

Thanks,

Barbara McCartney

#246 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 10:49 AM:

(Gee, when I tried to edit out an unneccessary space, I *did* have to type this stuff all over again. Growl.)

Though I haven't tried to reread him, I loved Edward Eager's books as a kid (around the time they were new!). And Diana Wynne Jones is a must.

I have a slew of Xmas/winter CDs I bought to counteract holiday radio treacle. They include: The Chieftans, BELLS OF DUBLIN (with guests including Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithfull, and the McGarigle Sisters, so folk purists may hate bits of it); 3 by The Christmas Jug Band (including Dan Hicks), UNCORKED, MISTLETOE JAM, and TREE-SIDE HOOT (with "S.A.N.T.A." to the *rock* tune of "Gloria"); The Edlos (male acapella quartet), WINTERSONGS; Turtle Island String Quartet, BY THE FIRESIDE (wonderfully eclectic, as are most of these CDs); and Robin Williamson, WINTER'S TURNING. Some of these date back to the '80s/early '90s, so you may have to search hard, but all are worth it.

#247 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:07 AM:

The Albion Band did a lovely Christmas album, and if you can find Weddings Parties Anything's album "They Were Better Live" they did a wonderful song called "Jolly Old Christmas Time". Not safe for work, though.

Strong seconding of Tove Jannson, though possibly a little young. Eager is good, but is second-rate Nesbit. Nesbit's the real thing. Dickinson is one of my absolute favorite authors for his ability to get inside the heads of different characters, but I couldn't read him until I'd figured that out -- the one that opened him up to me was "King and Joker", which I think a precocious 9-year-old might actually enjoy. "Time and the Clockmice, Etc." might be another good intro. Nobody's mentioned Penelope Farmer yet ("The Ear, the Eye and the Arm" is quite nice). David Wiesner is for for folks either younger or older -- there are a lot of those. Has Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth" gotten pushed yet? It's a lovely book that stands up to several re-readings.

Thank you David G. Any other sources on "arc"?

#248 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:11 AM:

I can't believe nobody's mentioned "The Phantom Tollbooth," by Norman Juster. My first copy fell apart through reading too many times, and I'm now on my second. I also remember tremendously enjoying "Quest for a Maid," by Frances Mary Hendry. It's like Macbeth on a smaller scale, as seen through the eyes of an average nobleman's daughter.

I'd actually recommend waiting on the Vicky Austin books, if Madeleine L'Engle is her taste, simply because they're much more teenaged in themes.

Seconding the Enchanted Forest recommendation, though. I still love these books; if she's into wordplay and inside jokes, then she'll probably love how this series plays around with fairy-tale tropes. I'd recommend skipping the last book in the series, though; it feels tacked on, and Daystar's kind of whiny. I wish I'd seen this thread when I was at home for Thanksgiving; the bulk of my bookshelves are YA novels.

On the Christmas music thread: I'm fond of the Broadway Cares - Equity Fights AIDS Christmas collections. Nothing like Broadway musical casts singing things like "Deck the halls of our Winnebago" and "For the first day of Christmas, the Phantom gave to me - a mask!"

#249 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:37 AM:

Sincerest gratitude. I imagine this could keep us going for quite a while.

I've compiled your recommendations and those of my LJ friends list here if it would be of use to anyone to have them all in the same place.

Lloyd Alexander was the most popular recommendation, with E. Nesbit, Phillip Pullman, L'Engle and Tamora Pierce following pretty close behind.

#250 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 12:24 PM:

TomB pointed us to Slashdot's review of the D&D anniversary book. It has this line, which I found wonderfully evocative:

"As a tribute, this book is the equivalent of a handful of cellophane balloons released from the rooftop of a children's hospital just before noon on a Sunday, with Kool and the Gang playing on a cassette deck nearby."

With a paper plate of organic vegan ginger-snaps nearby, no doubt.

#251 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 12:29 PM:

Julia,

I second the Hobbit and the Garth Nix "Sabriel" series, although at that age I really had a lot of trouble with the Lord of the Rings, and so didn't reread them until college. (For years I thought something was wrong with me because I didn't love Lord of the Rings)

If she likes mysteries, I think I started reading Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie around that age (the Miss Marple books were what I was partial to)

I also recommend folktales: Joanna Cole's "Best-loved Folktales of the World" was my favorite. Also good is Jane Yolen's "Favorite Folktales from around the World" and I highly recommend everything I've read from the "Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library"

You might also look for a good collection of Greek and Roman myths, which I have always loved.

#252 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Late as usual, but here are a couple of recommendations that may not have emerged unless there are other ex-Australians lurking hereabouts:

Patricia Wrightson, esp. The Nargun and The Stars (see here for other titles)
Nancy Cato, Nin and the Scribblies

Others that spring to mind: Paul Zindel (e.g. The Pigman), Knulp (Hermann Hesse).

#253 ::: Kathy Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 01:39 PM:

Steve Gillett wrote:

"Someone silhouetted against clouds (which, yeah, means you have to be on top a mountain or something, with a nearby cloud or fog bank behind) will appear limned by bright light. What's happening is that water droplets along the line of sight send some of the sunlight back almost the way it came, due to a near-total internal reflection in the drop. (It's easier to explain with a drawing :)"

The same principle is at work in the retroreflective materials used in highway and road signs.

#254 ::: Pookel ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 02:14 PM:

I've compiled your recommendations and those of my LJ friends list here if it would be of use to anyone to have them all in the same place.

I have no excuse for needing this list, with my first child not due until April, but there have been such wonderful recommendations here that I'm going to keep a copy for myself just because.

I notice Jeff Smith's Bone is on the list, which I'll second, and if she does enjoy graphic novels, I'd add Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo series. They feature an anthropomorphic rabbit samurai in 17th-century Japan and are generally historically and culturally accurate, as well as entertaining. They're not manga; Sakai is an American of Japanese descent, and they're written in English. There's some violence, so you might want to check them for appropriateness first, but I think they'd be OK.

My husband stopped by while I was writing this and wants me to add:

Clive Barker's The Thief of Always; Abarat
William Goldman's The Princess Bride

The Thief of Always is the favorite book of both my sisters-in-law, since my husband got them to read it when they were kids.

#255 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 03:02 PM:

I'm running up against a problem with Agatha Christie (and Dorothy Sayers and pretty much all the golden age british mystery writers I can think of)

On the one hand, I gobbled them down like popcorn when I was a kid, while on the other, when I reread them more recently I noticed that they were kind of, well, racist and antisemitic.

I don't know if I want her identifying with heroic characters with such unheroic worldviews (or at least, not for a while).

All the same, I think she'd probably enjoy the stories.

#256 ::: Kathy Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 03:14 PM:

Another entry for the "John Barleycorn" collection: Bok, Muir and Trickett on "And So Will We Yet."

#257 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 03:30 PM:

Julia:

I agree with lots of the recommendations above, especially Susan Cooper, Diane Duane, Edward Eager, and Tamora Pierce (I am even now reading the final book of the The Circle Opens quartet).

Some other recommendations:

Black and Blue Magic by Zilpha Keatley Snyder - I read this one as a child and carried only vague memories of it until finding it again recently. About a boy whose summer experiences with a potion that grows wings change him.

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth. An egg hatches and a triceratops emerges. I remember this one fondly, but have no idea how it holds up.

Hatching Magic by Ann Downer (my edition is via Scholastic). A mage comes forward five hundred years to find his wyvern and her just-laid offspring. Pursued by his evil rival through time, a story ensues.

Found this site in the course of trying to remember Black and Blue Magic, and it's got lots of good ideas on it: http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~aahobor/Lucy-Day/Menu/Index.shtml

#258 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 03:50 PM:

Oh!

In addition to the ones I posted to your LJ, I'd like to also add Carl Hiaasen's Hoot. None of his other books (not for a nine-year-old, anyhow), but I do recommend that one, and it sounds like it fits her tastes.

#259 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 03:53 PM:

Pookel--I was just skimming through looking to see if Thief of Always had been mentioned, and I'm thrilled that it was. No one ever knows what I'm talking about when I mention it.

It's dark, but I handled it just fine at an overly sensitive 11 or so. I'd throw it very roughly in the same pile as Wrinkle in Time--spooky undertones and space/time strangeness. The most distinctive thing about it was it was the first book I read that I didn't feel like I was being talked down to. As such, it threw me for a wonderful loop.

Also, Harriet the Spy, the perfect nonfrilly girl hero.

#260 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:00 PM:

Julia:

I'm late, too.

My son Dylan turned ten in August.

He counts many of the titles mentioned above among his favorites, including the usual suspects (Narnia, Potter, Lemony Snicket, Pullman); he absolutely loved The Thief Lord (so he'll be getting Inkheart for Yule) and Coraline. He is reading the Susan Cooper series now.

Here is something I haven't seen above (although I may have missed it, and I'm sorry if it's a repeat): Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion. Dylan resisted my suggestion that he try it at first ("Cloning sounds boring, Mom"), but one chapter in and he couldn't put it down. He has now proclaimed it his "favorite book ever."

He also likes the Artemis Fowl books, but sort of in the same way he likes the Goosebumps books; he told me he thinks they aren't "deep enough," but that they are funny and sometimes he likes a break from things that are "harder."

A question: We read Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents together, over the summer, and Dylan loved it so much he was sad when it was over! We are now wondering which Pratchett to spin him toward next. Thoughts? Best Pratchett, Maurice aside, for ten-year-old boy?

Thanks for compiling the list, by the way, as I've socked it away for future reference. It's funny how many of these books are on OUR bookshelves that we haven't shared with him yet!

#261 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:04 PM:

I didn't see Coraline go by here -- another quite marvelous read-aloud book, with a very spunky heroine. Neil Gaiman.

#262 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:13 PM:

I'm going to have to update it soon.

The Bromeliad Trilogy is lots of fun, and if he isn't put off by a heroine who's a girl, Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky are wonderful.

I haven't been able to find a copy of the Johnny books, but I've heard good things about them.

HM also liked Equal Rites and Witches Abroad, but there again there's the possibly-offputting-for-a-10YO-boy factor.

I bet he'd love Rincewind.

#263 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:32 PM:

Another kid vote: My much younger (10 and 12) sisters like to read books by Avi, who I haven't personally read but they can't get enough of.

And a related question: I've got a 11 year old cousin that's writing comic books. Beautifully drawn, funny stories, overall really impressive for her age. I'd love to encourage her with a holiday gift that goes beyond Garfield, but my graphic novel experience begins and ends with Maus.

Any ideas for boundary-expanding yet age-appropriate work that can be had at a reasonably well-stocked comic book store?

Bonus points (for me) for strong females.
Bonus points (for her) if there's a dog.

#264 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:33 PM:

julia:

Thanks for the tips.

I don't think he would be put off by a girl heroine--he really liked Coraline, and related to her just as easily as he does Harry Potter. He's starting to get to that anti-romance-but-not-really age, but if he would be put off, that's probably an even better reason to have him read more stories with a female protagonist. Plus, if it's funny, it's going to be a winner, no matter what.

Although I wonder--after all of the Artemis Fowl books, he tried The Wish List, and couldn't really get into it. I don't think he's finished it yet.

Another thing we've been doing lately is going through the Year's Best Fantasy & Horror for short stories that aren't too inappropriate for his age level. We read one in the Sixteenth annual edition--of course now I can't remember either title or author--but it was about a composer (first name Maurice? I think) and Pagodas in the French countryside? He loved it.

#265 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:45 PM:

Someone said there were four books in Diana Wynne Jones's Chrestomanci series. That would be Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Wizards of Caprona, Witch Week, The Merlin Conspiracy and the book of short stories, plus the one that's rumoured to be just over the horizon.

#266 ::: melissa ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:45 PM:

What a list of books... The Westing Game is a good book.
When I was 9ish I was devouring Trixie Belden (which are currently being reprinted) and Nancy Drew. (I read a bunch of Christies at this point as well) All the Baum OZ books as well. Goodnight Mr. Tom.

I've always loved D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths - and my 10 yr old's copy is falling apart from her re-reading.

I'd give you a list of what my 10 yr old is reading, but she's in a heavy Japanese Manga phase. I think this list is great - maybe I'll get her reading a bit more varied again.

(When I was 11 or so, I tried to read through the Children's Library in my home town over the summer. I read approx. 50 books a week that summer...)

#267 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:50 PM:

I enjoyed Kipling so much when I was a kid, but he has similar problems when read from a modern/adult viewpoint.

Seconding Tove Jansson.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder is also one of my favorites.

#268 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:51 PM:

These may be more appropriate for boys, particularly ones aged 45-60, but I just found a site devoted to the original Tom Swift texts online. It's amusing to read the titles (His Motorcycle! His Submarine Boat!).

#269 ::: Pookel ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:55 PM:

Kimberly:

A question: We read Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents together, over the summer, and Dylan loved it so much he was sad when it was over! We are now wondering which Pratchett to spin him toward next. Thoughts? Best Pratchett, Maurice aside, for ten-year-old boy?

I'd highly recommend the Johnny Maxwell books, although they don't have quite the same tone as Amazing Maurice, which is darker and more fantastical. The Johnny books are more typically teen-boy-adventure stuff. I thought they were great, though, and I read them for the first time as a 25-year-old woman.

TChem:

Any ideas for boundary-expanding yet age-appropriate work that can be had at a reasonably well-stocked comic book store?

Bone and Usagi Yojimbo have both been mentioned (er, by me), but they'd be appropriate for her age and easy to find. No dogs, but Usagi has an entertaining pet lizard. And the female characters are not bad, albeit secondary. My husband also recommends the graphic novel version of Stardust, but we couldn't think of anything else. There is some mention of sex in Stardust, and one somewhat suggestive drawing. It's probably OK unless her parents are picky.

#270 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:56 PM:

Oops, I was responding to julia's comment:

On the one hand, I gobbled them down like popcorn when I was a kid, while on the other, when I reread them more recently I noticed that they were kind of, well, racist and antisemitic.

and somehow thought that was the end of the posts.

Glad to see someone else mentioned Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

#271 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 04:58 PM:

Mind expanding and age appropriate, and non-fiction to boot:

Scott McCloud's _Understanding Comics_.

#272 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:01 PM:

julia wrote:
I'm running up against a problem with Agatha Christie (and Dorothy Sayers and pretty much all the golden age british mystery writers I can think of)

Dorothy Sayers? Really? Do you have any examples?

I've been digesting most of her work over the last few years, and I was actually surprised how modern some of it was. Drug dealers, lesbian old ladies, selling one's soul for advertising... I'm trying to think of a case of racism (as opposed to culture shock between town and country), but except for mocking the Russian nobility a bit I'm drawing a blank.

#273 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:10 PM:

Pookel:

Thanks! It might end up being a Very Terry Yule at this rate. Dark and fantastical is good; teen-boy-adventure is also good, though, and anything an adult woman can enjoy at the same time is wonderful. I can't get Dylan too many books--every time I think, "well, THIS one will keep him busy for awhile," he just devours it.

Now, though, I have to make ready for his other big interest--his hockey game--and maybe finish up a little bit of real work before I leave the office...but talk about books gets me all shivery and is far more interesting than document review...

#274 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:19 PM:

On generalities, I'll second Pratchett's Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky. Also, have you considered any of the classic SF? Heinlein's juveniles may not be socially orthodox today, but as cool stories they have great staying power. And when I was a kid I must have read Asimov's Fantastic Voyage at least ten times. If this was a boy we were shopping for I'd recommend Harry Harrison's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers, which is pretty much the ultimate wish fulfillment story for kid geniuses.

Also, TChem wrote:
And a related question: I've got a 11 year old cousin that's writing comic books. Beautifully drawn, funny stories, overall really impressive for her age. I'd love to encourage her with a holiday gift that goes beyond Garfield, but my graphic novel experience begins and ends with Maus.

McCloud's Understanding Comics is an excellent choice if you think she's ready to take a technical view to her craft. (If not, she'd likely find it boring, though she might discover it again several years later and go "Aha!") Of graphic fiction, it's a little hard because so many of the pinnacles of the field -- Sandman, Watchmen -- have themes that might seriously disturb an eleven-year-old (or the eleven-year-old's parents).

If I had to pick a single choice, I'd recommend Bone by Jeff Smith. The story is kid-safe without being entirely light and fluffy, the art uses a wide variety of techniques that a young artist might learn from, and best of all, the entire series is now available in a 1300-page one-volume edition for the astonishing price of $27 (on Amazon). In price-per-page terms, this has got to be one of the best values ever to exist in comics.

#275 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:29 PM:

Well, not so much the racism in Sayers, although there's more than one suggestion that to be scottish or welsh is to be Not Quite, and this is one example of the kind of thing that bothers me about the way jews are portrayed in her books. It's also discussed here

There are sympathetic jewish characters (one of his friends marries a jewish woman) but there are also a number of references to moneylenders (only the lower kind) being assumed to be jewish and jewish characters looking unpleasantly, well, semitic.

It's odd, because given the sophistication of a lot of her work (she was very insistent that it was a disservice to Jesus not to recognize the importance of his judaism), I would have taken it as being an ironic comment, except that the source of it is Lord Peter, who is the sum of all virtues in every other way.

#276 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:32 PM:

Tom, re: "arc"

I believe it was in common use in the soap opera world long before Wiseguy.

#277 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 05:33 PM:

I wrote:
If I had to pick a single choice, I'd recommend Bone by Jeff Smith.

And thinking about it some more, if I got to recommend others, I'd put forward the Elfquest series -- it's cheesy, but it's fun, and there sure is a lot of it -- and Castle Waiting, which is short but sweet and may very easily appeal to an intelligent girl of that age.

These are all black and white and somewhat fairy-taleish. For balance, I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a modern splashy full-color sort of graphic novel, possibly in the superhero mold, that would appeal. The closest I can think of is Alan Moore's Promethea, but I have to confess I never read all of it, so I don't know if there's anything after the early sections that might be deemed inappropriate by a worried parent.

#278 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 06:25 PM:

Has anyone mentioned Andre Norton's classic SF from the 50s and early 60s? (i.e., before the Witch World took over) I discovered them in 7th grade, so maybe they're a couple of years too old yet, but I devoured all I could find. (I've even had my teenager read a few, and once he gets into them he devours them too. He's at the age that if _Dad_ likes it it's not a recommendation :) She also had a number of well-done historical novels (e.g., Shadow Hawk) in that timeframe. Norton also commonly had strong female viewpoint characters back when that was at best eccentric in SF and at worst a threat to getting published.

They're at least as good as Heinlein's, which I discovered about the same time, and not so grating politically, if a bit more rubber-sciency.

#279 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 06:26 PM:

Julia, people have mentioned most of mine, but I'll give my favorites anyway:

Pratchett
Diane Duane -- the Wizard books, and the two Cat books
Pretty much any Diane Wynne Jones (the book Howl's Moving Castle is coming out as a movie!)
Patricia Wrede's books

If you think she'd like Gaiman's Stardust, send me your address and I'll send you my copy. I thought the illos were very nice.

#280 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 06:28 PM:

Promethea is indeed fabulous but as it picks up speed it becomes more and more Definitely Not For Kids.

Comics kids will like, though: Mark Crilley's Akiko. Depending on tastes and temperament, I think probably Girl Genius,--can I get a confirmation, somebody? Or a refutation? I adore that book. Jay Hosler's Clan Apis (about the natural history of bees, as seen by a worker named Melissa) and The Sandwalk Adventures (about Charles Darwin and the development of his Theory of Evolution, as seen by one of the mites living in his eyebrows) are both delightful, and may give her ideas about how the medium can be used to convey nonfiction information. Yes to Bone and Castle Waiting. Leave it to Chance is really fun and has a Spunky Girl Detective who fights pirate ghosts and werewolves and has a pet dragon. Skeleton Key, maybe--one thing she'll enjoy as a creator is watching Andi Watson's art refine itself over the course of the story--it starts out, well, as early work, and blossoms into something lovely and fluid by the end. Everything I've mentioned here has been published in softcover collected editions.

As an additional holiday gift, consider a $5 Junior Membership to Friends of Lulu, an organization that seeks to bring more women and girls to comics, both as readers and creators. Actually, one of the things you can find on their website is a list of good comics for all ages, so you might try them out.

#281 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 06:31 PM:

And, as long as we're talking about children's books, last week's WashPost review on the movie "Alexander" had the continued inside head of:

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Movie

#282 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 06:43 PM:

While I'm thinking about it, my list was heavy on the black-and-white stuff, too, and I never suggested a good superhero alternative. Try the Batman Adventures and Batman & Robin Adventures collections. They were done with the visual style of the animated series and contain some lovely all-ages gems of superhero writing.

#283 ::: regina ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 07:14 PM:

Ummm....I seem to remember that I stopped reading Elfquest after the first one because there was incest or something as unsavory going on. Not sure I would recommend that to a 9 year old.

#284 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 07:35 PM:

Marilee -- Howl's Moving Castle is coming out as a movie from the best director of animated children's films alive, Hayao Miyazaki.

#285 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 07:56 PM:

Julia, I think my favorite discussion of what to do about bad old ideas in good (or bad old books) is in Should We Burn Babar? by Herbert Kohl (he concludes that we shouldn't, but that we should engage the bad stuff).

I started reading Huckleberry Finn to my son when he was seven, then left it till later, so we could have had some conversations about language and times and mores and sarcasm and satire before he had it. But I just plain didn't like the Babar books, except for Babar and the Wully-Wully which was my son's favorite for a long time (long enough for him to give us this email address based on a misspelling of the name of the King of the Rhinos -- ritaxis for Rataxes).

#286 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 08:38 PM:

I hadn't thought of Mark Crilley in a couple of years, but he was once the founder of a history/bio book club to which I belonged at Yahoo. He was pretty darned modest about Akiko, but he's apparently been persuaded that getting his own website is permissible. You can find samples of the comics there.

#287 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 10:18 PM:

TChem:

If all you're looking for is graphic novels, I could bury you in suggestions. Most of them would be manga.

From the non-manga front, I would most strongly recommend a CrossGen title, Meridian. There is quite a bit of permanent death, so it may be a bit heavy for an eleven-year-old. Certain story elements have different impacts in different mediums, so death in literature doesn't get my radar up, while death in pictures does.

Hmm.

Anyway. I recommend that particular series because it's colorful with very eye-catching art (though I've heard the art described as Disney-esque). The heroine of the story inherits a set of powers the same day her father dies. It's about her learning about the extent of her abilities, making tough decisions and standing on her own two feet for the first time in her life. And the heroine gains the ability to fly early on, which is an appealing ability.

If you are interested in manga suggestions, here's a smattering: Rumic Theater by Rumiko Takahashi, Fushigi Yugi by Yu Watase (recommended 13+, just to warn you), Kodocha by Miho Obana and, for cute fluffiness, Tokyo Mew Mew or Zodiac P.I..

There's a good reason manga is catching on so well with younger girls, by the way. It's the most serious piece of merchandise I've seen marketed straight at them.

#288 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:31 PM:

Glad also to see Z. K. Snyder mentioned - she made a huge impression on me, growing up. I still prefer her supernaturals, like Black and Blue Magic and Season of Ponies (and "almost supernaturals," like The Headless Cupid and the very creepy Witches of Worm where the Magic Thing is never quite explained away entirely) over her more mainstream content books. This is an author who never forgot what it was like to be 11-13, and the results are gorgeous.

If Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is a little deep for the target age, you might try some of his "younger" books. I picked up a copy of Clockwork last year, and it's the perfect little YA horror story. *shivers*

Someone mentioned Patricia Wrede's "Enchanted Forest" books - are those the same as what I know as her "Dragon" books, starring the uppity, smart princess who went looking for a dragon to kidnap her? Those are AWESOME.

Another young reader friendly Robin McKinley book is Beauty (not to be confused with Sheri Tepper's book of the same name, which is a bit more adult). It's a lovely retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" that made me laugh for pages at a time.

My husband and I are starting on Garth Nix's "Mister Monday" for our sporadic spousal read-aloud nights. I find it a little on the deliberately-written-for-younger-readers side myself... Are the Sabriel books similar in tone?

#289 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:32 PM:

Not really any other suggestions to make, just comments on some of the suggestions thrown out here:

I adored the Princess and the Goblin and the Princess and Curdie. But avoided At the Back of the North Wind.

Nomie: The reason the fourth Enchanted Forest book, Talking to Dragons, feels tacked on is that actually it was the first book of the series Patricia Wrede wrote, and something like her second novel ever. If you read knowing that, the third book (Searching for..?) shows the marks of being slightly forced to get to the right ending so Daystar could go out and do his thing in his time. (The fourth book was also somewhat rewritten to retrofit a few discrepancies that cropped up inevitably along the way - I know because at one time I owned the older version).

And I never could figure out though why Cimorene couldn't just tell the five year old or six year old Daystar the whole thing, take him to the shield, and say "Here, if you want to get to the castle, you wave the sword here, like this." The excuse that he has to be grown up, never told, and have to figure it all out on his own is... hogwash. A bit of handwaving disguised as a plot point. Doesn't fit with the other common-sense solutions Cimorene comes up with elsewhere, and it's thrown in too late, like at the end of the book.


Jonathan Shaw: Actually, the Merlin Conspiracy is a Magid book (along with Deep Secret), and not a Chrestomanci book. The rest of your list is right, though.


Regina: there's some open sex. There's homosexuality and polygamy in the Elfquest books, one scene that can be read as an orgy (though that's the wrong cultural context) and one of the villains gets into some very nasty domination games, both sexual and non-sexual. Most of all this is left implied to a level a fairly mature child can handle. It's certainly not one for every parent to offer to their kids. As a nine-year old, I'd have probably been disinterested in those parts. But I believe some of the fans writing them over the years have been eleven and twelve and unfazed.

#290 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2004, 11:44 PM:

McKillip -- Riddlemaster of Hed and its companions.

#291 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 12:16 AM:

Lenora Rose: Last time someone told me I was wrong in this forum I humbly accepted correction, only to have TNH wield metaphoric cudgels against my corrector (the subject was the correct spelling of minuscule). This time, I'm probably wrong, but as soon as I get home from work I'll check The Merlin Conspiracy. I may well have dreamed Chrestomanci into it: I could swear he turned up towards the end and had wise things to say about the elephant. But I was definitely wrong with one of the other titles: Caprona had Magicians, not Wizards.

Here's an interesting thing: within hours of my mentioning the Geoffrey McSkimming books some way up thread, someone visited my blog from a Google search on "Cairo Jim and Jocelyn Osgood". Not so surprising, but my visitor had apparently had to click through five pages of Google results before reaching the reference to me. Of course it may have been coincidence, but it seems that when folks round here follow up a reference, they do it thoroughly!

#292 ::: Steve Burnett ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 01:47 AM:

Julia:

I'll second several of the recommendations for Her Majesty, especially Duane's Young Wizards series, Alexander's Prydain stories, McKillip's Riddle-Master of Hed trilogy, and some of the Heinlein juveniles.

(sennoma, I've never been to or from Australia, but I remember reading and liking _The Nargun and the Stars_ when I was young enough to appreciate it. Good to know someone else remembers it, thank you.)

As a new contribution to the thread that I didn't spot earlier, I'm slightly surprised no one's yet mentioned Sheila Moon's _Knee-Deep in Thunder_.

#293 ::: julian ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 01:55 AM:

I read the Tintin books when I was a kid. (More accurately, I learned to read on them, at age 4.)

I don't know if I could find a more racist bunch of bilge outside of a KKK pamphlet, nowadays. I look back at them and kind of wince.

(I can't imagine what the Babar books'd be like for me, nowadays. I haven't read them since I was about 7.)

My mother essentially sat down and pointed out which were stereotypes, why, and where they came from.

I don't think that Sayers, in particular, is something a 10 year old's really old enough to read, but (as Lucy says) engaging the questionable stuff can't ever start too soon, in my view.

Sayers, in her mysteries, had a bunch of anti-Semitism, but she was also extremely class conscious, to a degree I consider problematic, and I recall a scene in Busman's Honeymoon where the Scottish guy was stereotyped just as badly as the Jewish guy. (Which excuses neither, but anyway.)

#294 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:24 AM:

Lenora Rose is correct. The Chrestomanci does not make an appearance in the completley different multiverse of The Merlin Conspiracy.

#295 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:34 AM:

To completely change the topic (I doubt HM would enjoy what I was reading at 9)

I scored a copy of Bad Magic at the B&N in Pacific Place in Seattle last night. Other Seattleites be advised there was still one left on the shelf. I haven't had a chance to start reading it yet though.

I've been mulling over the idea of a meet-up for Seattle area readers-of and comments-on Electrolite and Making Light. Is this a good idea or am I sad and pathetic?

MKK

#296 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:58 AM:

David Luckett, I don't think you need to be ashamed of your MFA, even though most of what Seekins says about the poetry biz rings true. There are things about writing that can be taught in classrooms, and things things that can't. Your MFA indicates that some of the time you put into learning the teachable stuff passed while you happened to be in a classroom. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, especially since your comment indicates that you know better than to mistake your credential for a halo. No credential can prove you've learned the things that have to be approached the hard way, or that you've lucked into the wild talent--and no credential proves you haven't. If the poems you wrote during your schooling look inadequate to you now, then write more, different ones. Why did you pursue the MFA in the first place? Presumably because you intended to keep writing. So keep writing.

MFA programs are easy rhetorical targets, because we all know there are things that can't be taught. Billy Collins is an easy target, because he's a popularizer who had the misfortune of happening to be Poet Laureate when 9/11 called for a heavyweight. But I wouldn't wish the world rid of Sherry Fairchok's kickass debut, The Palace of Ashes, just because it had its roots in an MFA thesis, and I am prepared to confess in front of witnesses that I once heard Billy Collins perform a poem (mixed in with his usual stand-up comedy routine in poetry reading drag) that woke my mortal dread.

#297 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 03:05 AM:

For what it's worth, there is a good bit of sexual content in Girl Genius -- not explicit, and not anything that would raise a palpitation with the typical Buffyphile teenager, but you can't follow the story without being aware of who is, was, and is not (yet) sleeping with whom.

And The Phantom Tollbooth is by NorTon Juster. As is The Dot and the Line: a Romance of Lower Mathematics, though there you are really better off with Chuck Jones's film version.

Not that I know anything about this. I don't write children's books. I have pseudonyms who write children's books, and I wrote a book once that a number of well-meaning people mistook for a YA, but given the people I know who do it well, my trying would be that peculiarly hypertrophied form of hubris known as hudibris.

#298 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 03:08 AM:

Mary Kay, why do you think the two are mutually exclusive?

(Kidding! It was just too good a snark to resist. Sorry.)

#299 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 05:37 AM:

Just a quick note to say that Michelle's BIG GIANT SCARY LETTERS (also noted by <quails> me) seem to have relaxed & gone back to normal. Good stuff - thanx.

Apropos of nothing much; a strange phenomenon seems to have happened to (in?) the breakfast cereal of Australia: E.T Movie Collectable - limited edition nutrigrain "A single nutrigrain remarkably alike" to E.T. (pic) (Also around at this listing -- they must be less rare than expected. (Alas, only available to ship to Australia.)
Well, it's a change from the BVM, whether on toasted cheese or Aussie seaside fenceposts. Almost certainly no link to the series of cetacean strandings in this area over the last week or two.

#300 ::: Sally Beasley ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 07:33 AM:

Julia:

Another late post, with more recommendations for Her Majesty:

Anything by Tamora Pierce, who has written lots of series.

Dave Luckett's Rhianna books (admittedly, I'm biased!) published in the US by Scholastic as The Girl, the Dragon and the Wild Magic, The Girl, The Apprentice and the Dogs of Iron and The Girl, The Queen and the Castle, with truly vomit-worthy covers IMHO.

Any juvenile book by Diana Wynne Jones.

I second Garth Nix, particularly The Keys to the Kingdom series. She might find Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen a bit inaccessible. Our son did, even when a bit older.

I second the Heinlein juvenile recommendation, and the E. Nesbits, and the Patricia Wrede, and the Patricia Wrightson.....
*stopping now*

#301 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 07:41 AM:

Marilee - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day was one of my childhood favorites. Turns out that Alex Viorst is now a banker (can be seen on ads for his bank which deal with their loans to rehab low-income housing).

TChem - your cousin is most likely too young for Joss Whedon's "Fray," (IMHO it's probably too violent, though there's no sexual content - but then again, what do I know of the preteen set?) If you get a chance to page through it and judge for yourself, you will hopefully be able to give it to her at just the right time.

#302 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 07:53 AM:

and "almost supernaturals," like The Headless Cupid and the very creepy Witches of Worm where the Magic Thing is never quite explained away entirely

Oh, me too, me too. The thing I like about Zilpha Keatley Snyder (well, a thing) is that the world is full of strange and wonderful things -- and they're not the strange and wonderful things the characters expect. Magic and skepticism can combine. It's neat.

It's probably wholly futile to recommend Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpe books, because they're mostly out of print as far as I can tell, but I adored them as a kid, and when I reread them as an adult, they were still funny (and had references I didn't catch when I was 8).

I also agree that the last 2-5 pages of the Dark Is Rising series do not count as canonical. Clearly a printer's error. (The other alternative is that the Light is a bunch of rotten bastards and I hope Will turns 16, goes rogue, tracks them all down in their little Celtic paradise, and wreaks havoc on their smug asses.)

I think Diana Wynne Jones is perfectly appropriate for a 9-year-old, and I only wish I'd had them when I was 9. Don't know why I didn't.

I was happy to have books of mythology at that age. My love affair with the D'Aulaires' book of Norse mythology was considerably before 9 (5 and 6, I believe), but there are less picture-book-y volumes out there.

#303 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 09:07 AM:

*can resist YA topic no longer*
Great recs here. I think these haven't been mentioned yet:
Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom are lovely for that age, imo.
Also sadly out of print is "Mischief in Fez", can't recall the author, a real oldie, but if you run across the 1963 or 1964 Grolier's Junior Classics set, it's in there.
The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea and The Wierdstone of Brisingamen (and probably anything else) by Alan Garner.

#304 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 09:29 AM:

Oh, maykada, now I want to look up "Mischief in Fez"! I remember that extract in the Junior Classics Set (our was Collier, not Grolier), and I loved the illustrations! Scurrying to World Cat and ILL now... Okay, it's by Eleanor Hoffman, written in 1943. Djinns, wicked stepmothers, gazelles and fennec foxes -- yep, sounds like fun. Time for a revisit.

#305 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 09:44 AM:

Rose in Bloom made me sad. Poor Charlie.

I always wondered why it was OK for Rose and Mac to marry when they were first cousins, weren't they?

#306 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 09:49 AM:

Mris: I agree with you about Diana Wynne Jones. I know some of her books existed when I was 9. I checked publication dates, and she'd been published widely since I was 2 years old. Somehow, I never stumbled across her work until now, and I never would have, if not for Studio Ghibli (which gives me another reason to adore them and all they stand for).

She must not have been carried in my local library. I must research whether that is still true of my hometown, and do my best to rectify it if it is.

Just because I was deprived until now doesn't mean all of the young readers from that geographic region have to be!

#307 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 10:03 AM:

Right, Collier, not Grolier. Thanks for the correction, Janet!

#308 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 10:26 AM:

Good point on GG, John. I hadn't thought of its sex angle beyond Agatha periodically waking up in public places after sleepwalking in her (rather frilly and demure) Victorian undergarments. But it's true: the book does expect a certain worldliness in its readers.

#309 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 10:36 AM:

Oh boy, Alan Garner. How could I have forgotten? Check out "Elidor," "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen," its sequel "The Moon of Gomrath", and anything else by him that you come across.

#310 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 10:53 AM:

Sorry for the duplication -- I accidently posted this first on "The Holy Spirit Gets Around" thread, rather than here, as a recommendation of classics that youngsters can sink their milkteeth into:

The Invisible Man
by H. G. Wells
Kessinger Publishing, 140pp, £15.95
ISBN 141916757X

Reviewed by Bryan Appleyard

"Between 1895 and 1898, H G Wells wrote four science fiction masterpieces - The Time Machine, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. Then, as now, SF was seen as not quite respectable by literary types. The vile George Bernard Shaw sneered at Wells, and even his own literary patron, W E Henley, told him: 'You could also do better - far better & to begin with, you must begin by taking yourself more seriously.' In our day, Margaret Atwood has turned her nose up at SF, preferring to call the novels she writes 'speculative fiction', a truly toe-curling piece of petty snobbery."

"The ratio of bad to good SF novels is about the same as that of bad to good literary novels, but, for some reason, SF is always judged by the output of its most inept practitioners. In truth, a form that has produced, among others, Stanislaw Lem, J G Ballard, the Strugatsky brothers and, above all, Herbert George Wells has nothing to apologise for...."

"... It came as a shock when I subsequently discovered that Vladimir Nabokov regarded H G Wells as a master, describing him as possessing a genius denied to his contemporaries Henry James and Joseph Conrad...."

"... If that isn't enough, the book is also full of comic scenes constructed with a Marx Brothers-like ingenuity and moments of poetry that leave you dry-mouthed and gasping...."

Bryan Appleyard's new book "Aliens: why they are here" will be published by Simon & Schuster next March.

This review first appeared in the New Statesman.

#311 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 11:06 AM:

Forgot to add -- Riddle-Master of Hed seems a bit much for most 9 yo's. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld would be a better McKillip to start with, imo.

#312 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 11:12 AM:

All:

Thanks so much for all the comics recommendations. The ones I don't buy myself (and the "check with the parents first" ones), I'll pass on to my aunt.

#313 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 11:14 AM:

Good News and Bad News.

The Bad News is that the monsters at Woodbury (an unpublishably illiterate student-abusing Chairman with no Ph.D., and a malicious hardly-published Dean) have already hired my part-time Math Department replacement, who does not have my teaching experience, popularity with students, or scholarship.

The nominal reason (clearly pretextual) is that the scab worker has a Master's Degree in Math (overlooking that my B.S. in Math was almost entirely from graduate-level courses at the world's #1 science university, my M.S. was in mathematical computer science, and my Ph.D. dissertation was Mathematical Biology). Still hoping for the supportive academic VP (himself a fellow scholar) to somehow save a job for me. Today I get a paycheck, maybe my last. We are looking for ways to avoid losing our home.

The Good News is that I got a bunch more pages accepted by the editorial staff at the prestigious On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, now giving me 57 different pages of original material (and/or significant comments) posted, with about 10 more submitted and still being evaluated at AT&T Research.

Take a look at a rather startling discovery I made about Semiprimes and Triangular numbers, which yields 4 small numbers -- "too few" for a page on their own, and therefore inserted as a comment in a related page to which a coauthor and I were already extending:

Integers not expressible as the sum of a prime and a triangular number.

I'm hoping that this record of over one publication per week in Math [in 2004] will help me to find a job where love of the subject, love for students, and internationally recognized research will count for me, rather than against me by petty, jealous losers.

Welcome to December, and hoping that it is a month of joyous holidays for all of us,

Best,

Jonathan Vos Post
Soon-to-be Ex-Professor

#314 ::: Magenta ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 11:20 AM:

Another recommendation:

"The House with a Clock in its Walls" by John Bellairs, with illutrations by Edward Gorey, and in general, anything by Bellairs. And, of course, anything by Gorey.

#315 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 11:37 AM:

Jonathon, have you considered high school?

There are high schools where the ability to teach higher math is a major plus . . .

#316 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 11:42 AM:

JVP, that sucks. :(
Good luck. I hope you find something really, really excellent.

#317 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 11:44 AM:

Seconding, enthusiastically, the rec for Abarat (and its sequel, the second of an eventual four). The prose occasionally stumbles, but the story (and the world) is relentlessly wonderful, and gets big bonus points for having a tough, resourceful heroine. (As well as for mentioning the author's same-sex partner on the bio page, which seems pretty ballsy for a YA title.) Don't bother with the unillustrated mass-market edition; the dozens of gorgeous paintings are half the fun.

Oh, yeah, and for Thief of Always, while we're at it, though it's a much spookier sort of book than Abarat; Coraline fans will probably like it as well. Get the one with Barker's illustrations, if you can.

Not as sure about Riddle-Master, which is a book I'm deeply in love with, but I tried it first at about nine or ten and it didn't quite hold my attention. McKillip's prose is wonderful, but can be a little dense and poetic, and may feel like too much work to unravel for a pre-teen.

A teenager looking for graphic novels can do worse than Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin books, now up to three volumes. IIRC, they have some strong language, and there's a bit of disturbing violence, mostly offscreen; also, the occult is presented in a more-or-less positive light, if that's an issue. (And they're sort of quietly subversive as well. Parents don't really come off looking good in Naifeh's world.) But Courtney's another smart, interesting heroine, and a lot of the stories look at the pros and cons of being an antisocial misfit, so there's some good stuff in there for a teenage reader to connect with.

#318 ::: Britta ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 12:23 PM:

julia:

A late post on the subject of books for nine year olds. I don't think anyone has mentioned Monica Furlong's books "Wise Child" and "Juniper" yet. "Wise Child" in particlar is one of my favorites- the writing is excellent, and it has one of the more believable child narrators I've come across. A third book just came out, posthumously, but I haven't read "Colman" yet and so hesitate to recommend it.

Michelle Magorian's "Good Night Mr. Tom" is another one that I first found around that age and loved.

I'll also second "The Enormous Egg", which holds up very well upon adult rereading (actually, I may have enjoyed it more as an adult; I know I didn't get the McCarthy references as a kid).

It may be a bit young, but I'll mention Palmer Brown's "Beyond the Paw-paw Trees" anyway. It's out of print and unfortunately hard to get, but I know my home library has a copy. You might get lucky.

Lois Lowry's "The Giver". (Another Newberry winner, to add to the ones that have already been mentioned here. You've probably thought of this, but going straight to the list of Newberry winners is a good bet- they've had a terrific assortment of books over the years.)

TChem:
On the graphic novels front, you might take a look at the Courtney Crumrin books by Ted Naifeh. They're somewhat dark, and the main character is not an especially nice person, but my guage of what is actually appropriate for an 11 year old is not good. I suspect I would have loved them at that age. The art style is odd and very distinctive.

#319 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 12:42 PM:

Oh boy, Alan Garner. How could I have forgotten? Check out "Elidor," "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen," its sequel "The Moon of Gomrath", and anything else by him that you come across.

Red Shift, while brilliant, has some graphic violence. I wouldn't recommend it for a nine-year-old. The Owl Service is probably for teenagers as well.

#320 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 12:46 PM:

JVP, in case you didn't know, you can get the job listings from the Chronicle of Higher Education in your area as an email every Friday -- go to http://chronicle.com/jobs/, do a search, and "create a search agent" to save it. You don't have to be a subscriber. I still get it to keep up with what's going on. Best of luck.

#321 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 12:47 PM:

On childrens' books, and since Lindgren has been mentioned, her absolute best one is The Brothers Lionheart.
A fantastic tale which also takes in some serious stuff in a very thoughful way, death, afterlife, happiness. Powerful stuff.

#322 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 01:17 PM:

For the graphic novels branch of recommendations:

Andrew Willett mentioned Jay Hosler's Clan Apis and The Sandwalk Adventures, which reminded me of Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe, which seems to be up to three volumes by now (I've only read the first two, plus some of his other books). Being history, they've got all kinds of nudity and violence, but they're educational and entertaining. We had the first volume when I was a kid, and I quite liked it.

#323 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 01:35 PM:
On childrens' books, and since Lindgren has been mentioned, her absolute best one is The Brothers Lionheart. A fantastic tale which also takes in some serious stuff in a very thoughful way, death, afterlife, happiness. Powerful stuff.

I actually thought the death/afterlife treatment was a bit glib, but I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading the book on that score.

A few people recommended Heinlein juveniles without mentioning specific ones, which I think is a minor mistake. I definitely would recommend them for a 9-year-old (I started reading them, and SF in general, when a friend gave me two of them for my 8th birthday - thanks, Steve Russo, wherever you are), but not all of them. Specifically, I would recommend

  • The Rolling Stones
  • Red Planet if you can still get the original version, not the more recent unedited one
  • Starman Jones
  • The Star Beast
  • Between Planets
  • Time for the Stars

And I would not recommend:

  • Rocket Ship Galileo, at least not for a girl, since it's such a period boy's adventure story
  • Space Cadet, ditto
  • Podkayne of Mars, because I would expect a modern girl to dislike it
  • Tunnel in the Sky, because of the sex and violence. Actually I probably read this when I was 9, and I will let my son read it at that age, but I gather that sort of thing bothers some people more than it does me.
  • Farmer in the Sky, just because it's a bit dull. At least don't give it as the first Heinlein she gets.

Those not mentioned (Citizen of the Galaxy and probably a few others I am forgetting) would be fine but not my first choices.

#324 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 01:42 PM:

I see that I was beaten in my Bellairs rec by 2 hours.

Howl's Moving Castle (Hauru no Ugoku Shiro) is not only out in Japan (and announced for here, with localization staff starting to get announced -- the director of Monsters, Inc. will direct), but like other recent Miyazaki films has blown the hell out of JP box office numbers: first weekend opening

I've seen the trailer (linked here ), and it's wow.

#325 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:06 PM:

Completely irrelevant question:

Some time ago I stumbled across a website selling *very strange* stuffed animals -- rabbits with three ears, bears with no heads, siamese thingies, plush animals with real chicken feet attached to them, and so on.

I think I may want to get my brother the "strange animal of the month" subscription for Christmas.

But there is a problem. All my Google-fu has failed me, and I cannot find this site. I think it *might* have been a Particles link, so I figured I'd ask here. Does anybody have any idea what I'm talking about?

#326 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:27 PM:
Some time ago I stumbled across a website selling *very strange* stuffed animals -- rabbits with three ears, bears with no heads, siamese thingies, plush animals with real chicken feet attached to them, and so on.

Is this your card?

For the record, Google produced a news story linking to this given "+stuffed +rabbit +"three ears"."

#327 ::: Bjorn ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:32 PM:

I see what you mean about 'glib' but one thing it did for me was it certainly set me on the way on *not* believing in the afterlife. Which I'm suspect might actually be her goal.

#328 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:35 PM:

On graphic novels: I recently read Persepolis I by Marjane Satrapi and it was amazing. Possibly a little too scary for children, but it would count as educational.

I also discovered The Golden Compass (vol. 1 of His Dark Materials) just recently and liked a lot of things about it, but overall the portrayal of the female characters really disturbed me. Does anyone have any thoughts on the subject?

#329 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:42 PM:

On knives -- I am very happy with my Schrade Old-Timer. Good quality blade, nicely balanced, feels good in my hand.

#330 ::: regina ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 02:57 PM:

I didn't notice, and forgive me if I've overlooked the mention, but Neil Gaiman's The Books of Magic is the only one of his graphic novels I would feel comfortable giving to a 9 year old. I am a dear fan of Sandman but that is not appropriate for young ones. However, The Books of Magic is scary in parts.

And for something completely non PC, I adore Booth Tarkington's Penrod. Written at the turn of the last century, set in deep southern Illinois, it is a wonderful depiction of life as a hyperactive and imanginative 11 year old boy. There's racism of course, but it was the times. And there can be good discussions about it. Tarkington's writing skill is so fine. I go back and read it just for scenes like the 'gotcher bumpus' one at the boy girl dance. Or the one where his older sister's boyfriend gives him dollar to keep him from pestering them and he goes to the fair and spends it on enormous amounts of food.

#331 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 03:14 PM:

Dan -- boy, you're fast! Yes, that's exactly it. Thanks a bunch!

#332 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 04:10 PM:

Uh, Booth Tarkington is an Officially Beatified Indiana Author, and that is the equilibrium state of the books. Which are certainly excellent, but if you grow up there you Know About Their Special Indianianishness. Tarkington is thus elevated, along with A. B. Guthrie and George Ade and even Kurt "Are you a Hoosier?" Vonnegut, but not, of course, C. L. Moore.

Indiana's other nickname is "The Crossroads of America," and we all know what you bury there.

#333 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 04:35 PM:

I'm underimpressed by the Newberry list. The Giver especially doesn't hit the spot for me. Probably for the same reason I never liked A Wrinkle in Time as much as I'm supposed to. I just have a hard time giving the author my acceptance for the premise that the big threat is to squash people's imaginations. And I have a hard time giving the author my acceptance for the corollary that the Really Good People are Inherently More Imaginative or some Damned Thing.

Straw men, I guess, is my feeling, and it was when I was a kid, too. I felt preached at, and worse, I felt preached at in some trivial way that didn't make sense.

(I think I was willing to give people some slack if they wanted to preach at me in ways that I personally found enlightening, amusing, exciting, or confirming)

#334 ::: Dan R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 04:45 PM:

Lucy:
(I think I was willing to give people some slack if they wanted to preach at me in ways that I personally found enlightening, amusing, exciting, or confirming)

I've been too timid to admit this tendency in the presence of those I disagree with, but it sums up much of my experience of political discourse. It is so easy to see the slack given by our opponents, so hard to see that given to those we support.

#335 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 04:49 PM:

I notticed upthread some folks looking for some interesting and unusual seasonal music and so I thought I'd direct anyone interested to Dark Noel and Excelsis, two compilations of various electronic arangements of traditional christmas music, as done by Dark Wave, EBM and Goth bands. Lycia's cover of O Little Town of Bethlehem is especially haunting and beautiful.

#336 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 06:50 PM:

Regina, Gaiman's Stardust is an illustrated fairy tale. Much too derivative for me, but the illos *are* very nice.

#337 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 07:15 PM:

YA comments (still useful, I hope):

Strong yes (and surprise they took so long to come out) for Phantom Tollbooth and Coraline.

Watch out for labels on DWJones; most of the recent stuff is not for 9-year-olds but may not be marked as YA-to-adult. The older Fire and Hemlock is excellent YA (her take on Tam Lin) but might be heavy for age 9. Good un-mentioned: 8 Days of Luke.

I loved Cameron's Mushroom Planet when I was 8-9 but found it very weak recently; YMMV. (Also very boys'-adventure.)

Five Children and It is also a movie, with Branagh as the dotty uncle. I saw it a few weeks ago; no idea if it will be generally available or how good the adaptation is, but I liked the result.

I've found all Bellairs a bit dry -- maybe too bound to the 50's. Try one and see. (This does \not/ include The Face in the Frost, which I don't think makes any YA concessions but may be readable young (I found it at 23).)

Picky point: The Arm of the Starfish is not an Austin book; the lead shows up in the Austin universe later, but this one is Meg and Calvin a generation after Wrinkle. Still good reading; may be adult for 9 (I was ~12) due to whiffs of sex&violence, but a better orientation than the others -- speaks to responsible action rather than devotion.

#338 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 07:40 PM:

For my money, A Wind in the Door is deeper, richer, scarier, more compelling, and all-around much better than Wrinkle. A fine case of the sequel surpassing the original, and you can start with Wind - I did - and not miss anything of consequence.

#339 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 07:44 PM:

You guys are great.

Jonathon, I second the suggestion that you check out high schools - in the suburbs around here, a high school math teacher who was qualified to teach advanced AP courses to the aspiring Ivy Leaguers and MIT students (or, to be more accurate, generally to the aspiring parents of Ivy Leaguers and MIT students) could pretty much name their own price.

Even in NYC, where the pay is much lower than in the suburbs, the starting salary for a teacher with a doctorate is about $65k, with terrific benefits and about three months a year off.

In a completely unrelated literature question, I've been reading a lot of Martha Grimes lately, and I've been wondering - we're clearly supposed to admire Melrose Plant for being quixotic enough to give up his title.

The thing is, he wasn't quixotic enough to give up the money or the estate, and he's just as little entitled (as it were) to them.

Does that bother anyone else?

Don't mind me, I'm just so enjoying talking about books...

#340 ::: Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 08:53 PM:

I second the Heinlein juvenile recommendation, and the E. Nesbits, .... and the Patricia Wrightson.....

also Helen Cresswell, Eleanor Cameron, Alan Garner, Diana Wynne Jones, Peter Dickinson (The Kin is genius)

and Philip Pullman's four (I think) connected books about a girl in the 1880s-90s, The Ruby in the Smoke, The Tin Princess, er, uh, sorry I can't recall the other titles ...

... and I must admit that I absolutely hated A Wind in the Door by L'Engle, found it didactic and heavy-handed, although A Swiftly Tilting Planet was terrific (but maybe too advanced for age 9)

... and Rosemary Sutcliff when the reader gets a little older!

#341 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 08:54 PM:

First, thanks for the Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer covers; couple there I didn't know about. And PNH--thanks for the sequel link. Y'all might want to check out www.tam-lin.org.

Second, Books for Her Majesty.

Much as I love the Riddlemaster of Hed, I'm not sure it's likely to be enjoyed by even a bright nine year old. I'd say much the same about Susan Cooper's Rising of the Dark books, though I'm less sure of them. I loved the Nesbit books as a child--I literally read my copies to pieces--but found them a bit difficult to swallow now, largely for reasons of racist attitudes. They bothered me a bit as a child, but now I notice things I didn't then. I notice similar issues in Sayers, but it's less blatant there; I can hardly stand to read parts of the Elwsyth Thane "Williamsburg" series now, though as a teenager I found them interesting.

I liked Secret Garden and The Little Princess by F. H. Burnett as a child, but can't stand either now--too syrupy. I notice the Laura Ingalls WIlder books don't seem to be read much; possibly because of the television series.

#342 ::: Stephan Zielinski ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2004, 10:12 PM:

David, regarding the MFA thing: think of the MFA experience as a really long writing exercise-- like writing a book-length Hemingway pastiche. Now that you've dwelt in the belly of the beast, you're eminently qualified to avoid all the mistakes people with MFAs but no clue make.

I'm allowed to say this because I'm pretty sure that off in the afterlife, Leonard Michaels is going to start gagging before he gets more than a page into Bad Magic. I learned a hell of a lot from him... but that doesn't mean that what I decided to write matches what he thinks of as Great Stuff.


Incidentally, there's symmetry there, at least. After Sylvia came out, I asked him what it was about. "The experience of the 1960s," he said.

"Ah. Hot topic, the 1960s," I said. "Took you a while to get some perspective on it, huh, Lennie?"

He gave me the same dirty look I gave him when he rolled his eyes after I said I was going to write science fiction, and we got on with our lives.

#343 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 12:28 AM:

Re: YAs, Gordon Korman's Macdonald Hall books (hysterically funny Canadian boarding school stories); they're out of print here, but Amazon.ca has them all.

Also, Daniel Hayes, _The Trouble With Lemons_ and sequels.

If she's into mysteries, ISTR Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael mysteries as being good from when I was that age.

Rifles for Watie (Harold Keith); _loved_ this one when I was a kid, though I don't know how well it's held up.

The Gammage Cup (Carol Kendall)

Elizabeth George Speare: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Sign of the Beaver, and the Bronze Bow

Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson)

I can't believe nobody's mentioned From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg) yet. I haven't read nearly as much Konigsburg as I ought, but The View From Saturday is lovely.

Number the Stars (Lois Lowry)

As someone else upthread said, you could do worse then just go through the Newbery Medal/Honor List.

#344 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 12:37 AM:

And for something completely different, and very much the end of an era:

Mike Horvat appears to be attempting to sell his fanzine collection on eBay.

With the amount of effort he's put into cataloguing it, I'd think he could talk to the folks who bought Terry Carr's collection, as much of what he has here should supplement that very nicely....

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=6937952143&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT (from Neil Rest on SMoFs...)

#345 ::: Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 12:42 AM:

Sally Beasley calls to our attention:

Dave Luckett's Rhianna books (admittedly, I'm biased!) published in the US by Scholastic as The Girl, the Dragon and the Wild Magic, The Girl, The Apprentice and the Dogs of Iron and The Girl, The Queen and the Castle...

Well, don't I feel silly. As if the prolific Mr. Luckett needs any encouragement from little me!

#346 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 01:02 AM:

More book thoughts:

Much as I love The Phantom Tollbooth (it's one of my top three comfort books, with Silverlock and Stranger in a Strange Land), I would wait another year or three before giving it to Her Majesty. She'll love it the more for having the background to appreciate more than half the jokes and puns, rather than having to go back and rediscover them later. (IMO)

Another author whom I have NOT read but who was a childhood favorite of a beloved ex of mine is Gerald Durrell. They're not SF/F, but focused on the world of nature, particularly zoology. Perhaps someone else here can expand on the recommendation. (A decent short bio of Mr. Durrell can be found here, along with a bibliography.) (For that matter, I'm interested for ME, as all of her Durrell was in storage, and I didn't get a chance to read it before she left.) Thanks.

#347 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 01:16 AM:

(another big Durrell fan here, though I haven't gotten hooked on his brother Larry!)

#348 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 02:58 AM:

Sarah,

My wife sometimes does things I wish she wouldn't. I love her to quite an ungainly degree, but she still sometimes does things I wish she wouldn't.

I did that creative writing master's for two quite unworthy reasons. I always knew them, but Mr Seekins rubbed my nose in it. Funny how we can conceal things from ourselves, but his essay has the searing honesty that demands honesty from its readers. I did that degree 1) because it didn't cost a cent. The university was so pleased to have an actual published writer in its program that it automatically waived all fees. The understanding was that anything I had published during my program would be listed in the credits claimed by the faculty. This really should have set alarm bells ringing in my mind, but it didn't, because 2) I yearned, and yearn, for respectability.

Those are unworthy reasons. Looking back, I'm damned if I can think of anything I learned. I'd have done the actual writing anyway, and on the one occasion when I attended the dreaded workshop, it was, um, not helpful. It was presided over by an academic/poet who plainly regarded the very consideration of the market as being in the same general moral category as pimping one's eight-year-old sister. Even so, I ended up doffing my hat and taking my sheepskin and feeling pleased with myself.

I don't feel so pleased now. And I still wish that Sally had not mentioned my stuff here. I can only ask all present to take my word that I did not put her up to it, did not even mention the string to her.

#349 ::: Lia Pas ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 05:26 AM:

for Julia and Her Majesty:

At the age of nine I was going through books like a wildfire myself - Lord of the Rings, Dune (though maybe that was a little later) - but my favourite series was the Dragonsinger series by Anne McCaffery (sp?). Gave it as a gift to a nine-year-old girl a few years ago and she loved it!

#350 ::: Elese ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 06:32 AM:

I have a few recommendations for Her Majesty (living in England I did a double-take when I first read your email :) that I haven't seen mentioned here:

Philip Pullman has some wonderful books for younger readers (His Dark Materials is fantastic, but it may be better when she's a bit older). I highly recommend:

Count Karlstein
The Scarecrow and His Servant (just out)

I was surprised not to see any mention of the Charlie Bone books by Jenny Nimmo. The title of the series is The Children of the Red King. Three books in the series have been published so far (5 are planned):

Midnight for Charlie Bone
The Time Twister
The Blue Boa

The titles are slightly different in America though:

Midnight for Charlie Bone
Charlie Bone and the Time Twister
Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy

I kept away from Charlie Bone for a long time. They were plugged as 'if you like Harry Potter you'll love Charlie Bone' and the description on the back of the first book made it sound too derivative of Harry Potter.

However, they are fantastic. Same genre as Harry P., but very different. Clever, imaginative, and I found impossible to put down. I especially love the idea of the Pets Cafe where you're only allowed in if you bring your pet with you.

#351 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 06:50 AM:

I'm a little baffled at the idea of things that are published as children's books or YAs being too old for a 9-year-old and waiting a year or three. I enjoy YAs again now, but when I was 11-12, I had no interest in them and was immersed in grown-up books.

I'm not saying that no 12-year-old ever reads YAs or ever should read YAs. I'm just saying that it depends really, really a lot on the individual kids. I read The Dark Is Rising and The Phantom Tollbooth to rags when I was 9. I wouldn't have wanted to get them later than that -- I couldn't have given them my full, rapt attention if they were competing with grown-up stuff. (Now YAs can compete with grown-up stuff and sometimes win. But I wasn't old enough for that when I was 12.)

#352 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:40 AM:

Regarding a child being "possibly too young" for the Moomintroll books, I think that at least the first books in the series are totally appropriate for a child old enough to pay attention to a story which is not primarily pictures. "Finn Family" (specifically the chapter in which Thingumy and Bob come to Moominhouse) was the first such non-picture story that Sylvia was willing to spend time on, at 3 1/2. That was 9 months ago and she still loves it, and also "Comet in Moominland" (Sniff is her favorite Moomin character these days) and parts of "Moominsummer Madness". I would hold off with the later books (particularly "Moominvalley in November") till quite a bit later.

#353 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:40 AM:

Mris, I'm not sure about that. I didn't read, frex, His Dark Materials as a young adult (since I'll be 43 in March, that would have been difficult), and it did, indeed, command my full attention. (As did The Dark is Rising, which I also didn't read as a child.)

My son, who's 13, read them within the past year or two, and they engrossed him thoroughly, just about as thoroughly as Lord of the Rings did when he read that at age 9.

#354 ::: Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:43 AM:

Oops -- rereading the comment I realize Mr. Whitmore is saying that the Moomin books are "possibly too young" for a 9-year-old child. I don't really think that's true either but it is certainly more plausible than my previous interpretation of his comment.

#355 ::: Dan Blum ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:52 AM:
Those [Heinlein juveniles] not mentioned (Citizen of the Galaxy and probably a few others I am forgetting) would be fine but not my first choices.

Except I forgot Have Space Suit, Will Travel, which is one of my favorite Heinlein juveniles and should really have been at the top of the recommendation list. I swear, my memory is getting worse each day.

#356 ::: Steve Eley ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:55 AM:

Laura Roberts wrote:
I also discovered The Golden Compass (vol. 1 of His Dark Materials) just recently and liked a lot of things about it, but overall the portrayal of the female characters really disturbed me. Does anyone have any thoughts on the subject?

I'll give it a shot, if you're willing to elaborate. As I recall, there were two main female characters: the protagonist Lyra, and the antagonist Mrs. Coulter. Both are brilliant, charismatic, powerful leaders, at the very top of their social spheres. Of course Lyra's an extraordinarily gifted liar, though she uses it for good; so is Mrs. Coulter, and she uses it for evil. In fact lying is such a fundamental part of the characters that Truth itself becomes a quest item, embodied in the alethiometer. Another of Lyra's gifts is that she can interpret the alethiometer when others can't, so she really gets both traits; thus, she bears the burden of free will in the story.

You've also got a tribe of arctic witches, extraordinarily powerful, basically Amazons who can fly and use magic. Their personalities are somewhat extreme, and not terribly interesting, but I saw them primarily as a contrast with the armored polar bears.

What exactly about the female characters bothered you? Was it the lying? They certainly weren't shown as weak or subservient; nor, except for the clear villain Mrs. Coulter, as morally flawed.

(Well, they weren't weak in this book, anyway -- in future books I did find myself intensely disappointed by both characters, but I won't give you any spoilers. Suffice to say that I thought The Golden Compass was one of the best fantasy books I ever read; The Subtle Knife was edging toward mediocre; and I couldn't stand The Amber Spyglass. Others disagree with me, of course, and I wouldn't discourage you from reading them and deciding for yourself.)

#357 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:57 AM:

Gerry Durrell, yes! Wonderful stuff (MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS is still well worth reading, and kids should get a kick out of him too.) Somewhere in my very early teens, I was hooked on "The Alexandria Quartet" (non-genre fiction) by his brother Larry, but that may have just been the start of my fascination with Decadent Cities books. *Not* for 9-year-olds, at any rate.

#358 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 10:08 AM:

Oh, reagarding reading material for younger readers, no one has mentioned a subscription to Cricket. My parents got me a subscription when I was five, and I think we kept it until I was a teen. I beleive that they now have a magazine for older readers as well (Cicada?)

I *loved* Cricket--everything from getting something in the mail that was just for me, to the new stories to read every month.

#359 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 10:25 AM:

Most of Roald Dahl's books are probably better encountered when younger than nine (although good to reread at any age), but Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator and Danny The Champion of the World are supposedly "for 9-12 year olds", and are very good.
I loved Gerald Durrell's books as a child (and still do). My favourite was My Family And Other Animals, about Durrell as a child living in a villa on Corfu just after the second world war with his extremely eccentric family, and studying the wildlife. Lots of funny moments, lots of luscious description of the island, its people, and its animals. The books about his career capturing animals for zoos are also very enjoyable (he later became a great advocate for conservation, and his zoo on Jersy is one of the pioneers of captive breeding and release into the wild).

Are the Asterix books graphic novels, or just comics? They're excellent, either way.

I second most of the other recommendations, especially of Diana Wynne Jones. Has anyone mentioned the Oz books, or Anne of Green Gables? Montgomery does tend to lapse into sentimentality about the wonders of being Poetic and Seeing the Beauty in Life, but her characters are worth it. I still recall Anne dying her hair green with a mixture of joy and horror.

#360 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 11:23 AM:

Michelle, she's just graduated from Spider (their 6-9 YO magazine) to Cricket and National Geographic for Kids, courtesy of her grandmother, and yes, she's always thrilled when it's mail for her.

#361 ::: Nick Brooke ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 11:28 AM:

Leon Garfield. Most memorable (to me) for some period London pieces ("Smith" & "Devil-in-the-Fog") and retold Greek myths ("The God Beneath the Sea" & "The Golden Shadow"). Dirt cheap on Amazon.

#362 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 11:58 AM:

A few times people have mentioned books they enjoyed as children but didn't as adults -- and it sounds like they're giving this as a reason to maybe not give them to kids. I'll just let that sentence stand there -- my objection to that should be obvious.

As for THe Secret Garden being "syrupy" -- I don't see how you can get that from actually reading it. The protagonist is not nice, and when she becomes more relaxed and less frantically rude all the time, she's still not really nice. The only objection I had when I reread the book to my daughter was that annoying boring mystical part toward the end along with the assertion that some people are just -- more. Burnett is weird like this, it runs through her other books too. But they're all strange and marvelous adventures and I'd certainly tell a kid there were more of them.

A friend of mine urged all the Gene Stratton-Porter books on me, but I unfortunately couldn't stand them.

Regarding old-time, casual racism in children's books -- this is a real and annoying issue. When E. Nesbit uses charicatures in her books, they're the surface presentation of real people with real motives, dignity and consequence -- so with my kids, I explained that her descriptions were weird because she lived in a time and place where she never interacted with people that much different from herself. But I couldn't do much for the Little House books: she was accurately and uncritically putting to the page the opinions of her own parents and grandparents, who you will realize if you reread the books were among the people who homesteaded on Indian land and expected to be protected while they did it -- because of course they, being white, had the right to live any damned where they wanted to. As historical documents, the books seem to hold up well. As entertainment, well, they're creepy, and not in a good way.

Which reminds me of some other books I forgot to mention:

The Watsons go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. It's a wacky-family story with added goodness of momentous history in the background.

Bud, not Buddy also by Christopher Paul Curtis. Orphan kid in the Depression: his long-lost father was a jazz musician, and he takes off searching for him: finds other jazz musicians and hears stories. "Just happens" to be black.

let me repeat here Little Vic by Doris Gates, in which the spoiler has to do with race.

I enjoyed A Saddle for Hoskie by Elizabeth Pack, an ordinary-child-strives-for-achievement-and-acceptance story in which the child "just happens" to be Navajo. Googling, I can figure out that she was an innovative teacher on a Navajo reservation, and that she wrote another children's book, but I can't find the title.

I was going to recommend Prince Prigio which is Andrew Lang's own children's story but I see a lot of references to online editions and no print edition, though I thought that it had been reprinted. And of course the color fairy books, which are printed in a kind of irritating small type but I didn't notice when I was a kid.


#363 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 12:05 PM:

Julia, my 14-year-old got Muse as a gift subscription several years ago; she adores it, and the 11-year-old has started reading it, too. It's a Cricket-format magazine about history, with glossy pictures and critical thinking. Great stuff.

#364 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 12:16 PM:

Hold it. Hold it. It's just come to my attention that I've been maligned. I did not simply misplace the phone number. The one I had stopped working. I only say this because I did, in fact, phone every listing for "Zielinski" in the Bay Area. However, it is also true that Jim Macdonald has been godfathering that manuscript out of the purest and most readerly of motives.

Some books have normal luck. Others are jinxed, or blessed, or have cover luck or sales luck. A few have odd luck all along the way. And in that last category, Bad Magic beareth away the palm; likewise the laurel wreath, the blue ribbon, and the brass ring.

#365 ::: Charles Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 12:31 PM:

On a side note, if anyone is still chasing down "Bad Magic" in the Boston area, Pandemonium (the SF specialty shop in Harvard Square) had at least a couple of copies in as of yesterday evening. More details at their web site -- where those so inclined can also order on line.

#366 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 01:38 PM:

Thanks to the several people who've responded re Gerald Durrell; tracking down a copy of My Family and Other Animals is underway.

Lucy: We've begun reading the Little House books with our six-year-old, and we use material that has issues as "that was then, we know better now" fodder. Another book that's got casual racism that we still read to him (though I think he's going to want to reread it himself later) is The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden. It was a hard choice as to whether to read that sort of book, but in both of these cases, we decided the extra effort to discuss attitude changes was worth it.

#367 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 01:54 PM:

*smacks self in forehead*

Can't believe I didn't think to recommend Gerald Durrell! Everything he wrote, from the descriptions of animal collecting trips (Two in the Bush, The Bafut Beagles, The Drunken Forest) to novels (Rosie is My Relative, The Talking Parcel) and collections of short stories (Fillets of Plaice) -- it's all wonderful, and suitable for any age. There's a short bio and a bibliography here.

For a 9yo, I particularly recommend the stories of his own childhood (Garden of the Gods, My Family and Other Animals, The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium, Birds Beasts and Relatives), which I still enjoy today, and The Talking Parcel, which I loved when I was about nine but have not reread since. Durrell has a strong prose style and a dry wit, and is a dab hand at marvellous description of the natural world. As befits a naturalist, he excels at detail. His deep love of all creatures great and small shines through in all of his books, even those not ostensibly about animals.

Obdisclosure: Durrell is a personal hero of mine, and his writing is one of the reasons I became a biologist. That's the kind of impact he can have on a young mind. I can't recommend his books highly enough.

#368 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 01:56 PM:

See? Told you I was always late. Bruce, you won't regret it!

#369 ::: Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 02:19 PM:

Was going to apologize for posting so late and veering off-topics. But what's an open thread for?

Per cool Vancouver artist Caterina Fake (at http://www.caterina.net) we learn that a cool Western Massachusetts artist named Alida Saxon (AKA Seian) has designed ... a simply beautiful, one-of-a-kind, no-you-can't-have-one Monopoly game mapped via Lord of the Rings.

Marvel at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/seian/1782135/

Not clear if you get to chant "Do not pass Gondor" ...

#370 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 02:31 PM:

Fans of My family and Other Animals, among which I number myself, might also enjoy Farley Mowat's The Dog Who Wouldn't Be and Owls in the Family, and the short stories of Anglo-Indian Ruskin Bond.

#371 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 03:01 PM:

Bruce opines: Much as I love The Phantom Tollbooth (it's one of my top three comfort books, with Silverlock and Stranger in a Strange Land), I would wait another year or three before giving it to Her Majesty. She'll love it the more for having the background to appreciate more than half the jokes and puns, rather than having to go back and rediscover them later. (IMO)

I think that depends a lot on the child; sometimes it's a kick to revisit something and find things you've previously missed. (Frex: if you're old enough to have seen Rocky&Bullwinkle when new, when did you catch each of the jokes in the name Boris Badenov?) I'd say this applies especially to Tollbooth, which has so much in it.

Mris: I'm a little baffled at the idea of things that are published as children's books or YAs being too old for a 9-year-old and waiting a year or three. I enjoy YAs again now, but when I was 11-12, I had no interest in them and was immersed in grown-up books.

I hear you -- IIRC I was 12 when I completely stopped borrowing from the young sections of the library -- but "YA" covers a lot of ground. (I'm not sure how old you are; did the category even exist when you were 12?). Some parents, even relatively frank/liberal ones, can find some of the A in YA more than they want to try to explain to age 9. Certainly this is shifting (and has been for a long while -- a ~40-years-ago Time story on teenagers observed "If Booth Tarkington wrote Seventeen today, he'd have to call it Twelve."), but pointing out gray areas is worthwhile when making recommendations for anyone you don't know extremely well. I read Fire and Hemlock at 34 and still remember the emotional jolt; a nine-year-old might miss all of it, or pick up enough to be disturbed, or cope. (cf. Gaiman's observation that kids love Coraline where adults are creeped out by it.)

Lucy: A few times people have mentioned books they enjoyed as children but didn't as adults -- and it sounds like they're giving this as a reason to maybe not give them to kids. I'll just let that sentence stand there -- my objection to that should be obvious.

Yes, there's an obvious cause to object -- but I think it's wrong. A book that read well to one person 20, 30, 40, ... years ago may have been very much of its time (cf my comment about Bellairs); today's nine-year-old has a very different cultural background from what I, or my peers, or any of my contemporaries had at that age. Or such a book may have caught the specific reader in a way that it wouldn't catch other readers; if it fit my psyche then but fails now, could not some other (more perceptive?) nine-year-old also find the flaws overwhelming the good? I expect all of us still have long-held guilty pleasures, but I think it's valid to note the things that might not ever be pleasurable.

Tieing together the last two comments: it's possible that children today are not just more worldly than I was but also have a better-developed sense of Story. (I don't associate with children nearly enough to know.) Note specifically HM likes "elegant writing" and "characters she can recognize as real".

wrt former pleasures, I see \nobody/ has mentioned Andre Norton. Is she unbearably old-hat? Perhaps not the more recent stuff, and perhaps not the earliest work for \Her/ Majesty -- it took a while for Norton to figure that girl leads could sell. And somehow most of it now reads as overloaded with description -- but I remember loving those strange visions at age 9-10. Ice Crown might work for HM. My old favorite is Galactic Derelict; the prequel (as I blank on the title) may be too dark.

And I wish I could think of a non-YA Pratchett that would work for age 9, but they're tangled/referential enough that I can't pick one. Soul Music has its points, including a lead of the right age (i.e., somewhat older than HM), but it has even more references than usual. Maybe just try her on Equal Rites and see what she thinks?

#372 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 03:30 PM:

Further suggestions for HM's reading:

Pamela Dean's The Dubious Hills and maybe her The Secret Country trilogy.

Patricia McKillip's The Changeling Sea and The Book of Atrix Wolfe are good bets for this age.

#373 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 04:23 PM:

Bruce, I didn't have too much trouble with A Cricket in Times Square because it was like Nesbit -- stereotyped imagery but real people with dignity under all that.

CHip, sometimes, sometimes not. Sometimes the reason we don't enjoy something as an adult that we enjoyed as a kid is because it has been obsoleted by changes in culture. But sometimes it's developmental. And sometimes they're in a category like Heinlein's "funny once" category (only not necessarily funny). I think it's worthwhile to try to sort out what the problem is.

Ronit, I adore Pamela Dean's books, but they're not for most nine year olds. Eleven or twelve at the earliest I think. Because of the kind of thinking in them.

By the way, today is the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster and I can't take my attention away from it for more than a few minutes. I've committed linkage over at Electrolite.
And finally, now for something completely different, but delightful:

the best version of "The Internationale" ever. I have it looping away on my computer right now.

#374 ::: Mris ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 04:34 PM:

Mris, I'm not sure about that. I didn't read, frex, His Dark Materials as a young adult (since I'll be 43 in March, that would have been difficult), and it did, indeed, command my full attention. (As did The Dark is Rising, which I also didn't read as a child.)

Yeah, I was captivated by His Dark Materials, too, and I read them starting at 21, but I went through a period when I was simultaneously too old and not old enough for some children's/YA. Not everyone will ever be too old for YAs, and not everyone who gets too old for them will ever get old enough for them again, but that was my experience. I had a period when I needed to demonstrate (to myself and adults) that I didn't have to stay in those boundaries any more. There's a big difference between being able to enjoy books from a given section of the library and being limited to reading only those books.

And yep, CHip, YA did exist when I was a kid: I'm 26.

I've run into many, many parents who weren't giving their kids books the kids could handle and love because the parents were convinced the kids weren't old enough yet. I've known many, many more of those than kids who were scarred by reading a book too soon. I taught first grade Sunday School my senior year of high school and got one of my kids hooked on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but my folks and I had to talk her parents into it, because they thought it was too difficult for her. It may have been too difficult for her 9-year-old sister, but it wasn't too difficult for Mal. So whenever anybody gets into whether kids are old enough for something at a given age, it makes me nervous. If kids aren't allowed books that excite and challenge them, something else will take their attention and wander off with it, in some cases permanently.

I also know kids whose parents have talked them into being scared of various movies/books that otherwise might not have bothered them at all. A thirteen-year-old may not like the first Harry Potter book, but I don't think she should be too scared to read it.

#375 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 05:19 PM:

_I'd_ mentioned Andre Norton! :) And one of the things I liked (and [guilty pleasure] still like) about her classic stuff is the description. She has very few peers, at least for me, in evoking the feel of an alien world, and I remember responding to that strongly when I was ~12. The different worlds in _Galactic Derelict_. The first view of Astra in _The Stars Are Ours!_ Janus, especially in _Judgment on Janus_. And so on...

Poul Anderson was another such world-evoker, and James H. Schmitz at his best; but there are very few others indeed. Heinlein and even Hal Clement aren't even close, IMHO. Too much of the CRC tables still flavors Clement's prose...

As for "finding out that girl leads would sell"--I suspect it may have been a matter of her _editors'_ finding out. My impression (based on hit and miss reading in the history of SF) was that a strong female lead was perceived as a story-killer in The Bad Old Days.

I've also heard that few people realized that Norton herself was female back in those days. She chose her pen-name subtly; evidently few picked up on the difference between "Andre" and "André". At least she didn't have to hide behind initials completely ("A. M. Norton"?), as did C. L Moore...

The Time Traders ("Ross Murdock") series consists of:

The Time Traders
Galactic Derelict
The Defiant Agents
Key Out of Time

and there's been a recently written sequel that, alas, just doesn't fit. Too much has changed in the last 35 years. They're period pieces...but then, so is Nesbit! And Norton was explicitly anti-racist (e.g., using Native American characters) long before it was Politically Correct. In fact, I believe that _Star Rangers_ (a.k.a. _The Last Planet_), published in 1953, has been interpreted as a civil rights allegory.

An early one with a female lead that I can think of off the top of my head is _Ordeal in Otherwhere_.


And on a different note--

Obviously, the follow-on to _Cricket_ must be _Locus(t)_.

(Dodging frantically, he makes his escape...)

#376 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 05:53 PM:

Hmm... It's been awhile, so maybe there's something I'm not remembering that would make it innapropriate for a nine-year-old girl, but I absolutely loved The Once and Future King. I think I read that book more often than The Hobbit, and would probably be perfectly content reading it again today.

What I like about it is that it changes writing style and genre throughout the course of the four books, so that you start with fantasy, move on to adventure, then romance, then tragedy. I think I was about twelve the first time I read it, and I remember this sense that I had changed and grown as I progressed from wizards and talking animals to adultery, betrayal, and death.

Besides, what other single novel can count among its non-literary progeny such diverse films as Disney's The Sword in the Stone, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the musical Camelot?

There's also a posthumously published epilogue called The Book of Merlin, in which the talking animals return to help Arthur in his dotage. It's not really necessary, but if you like the novel, it's nice for completeness.

#377 ::: Mary Aileen Buss ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 05:54 PM:

Fans of My family and Other Animals, among which I number myself, might also enjoy Farley Mowat's The Dog Who Wouldn't Be and Owls in the Family,

I can second those. Also Sterling North's Rascal and, if you can find a copy, the long-out-of print I'll Trade You an Elk by Charles A. Goodrum (his father ran the Kansas City Zoo during the Great Depression--hilarious stuff).

#378 ::: Tracina ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 06:15 PM:

Returning to the Buffy discussion (am I really doing this? I swore I'd never do this):

Joss holds Spike to a different moral standard than any other character I can think of on the show, at least on the topic of the almost-rape. I understand why he does it--he's spoken about it several times, and I agree that "he rapes her and she loves him" is stomach-churning--but it leads to some weirdness in terms of what's forgivable and what's not.

I mean, Spike tried to kill her lots of times. That's not unforgivable; other people who tried to kill Buffy and whom she later loved and/or trusted include her mother, Angel, Willow, Faith, Kendra, Anya, and Andrew. Nor is Spike the only one who tried to rape her--so did Xander. And given the pattern of Spike and Buffy's interactions to that point--again and again she tells him no, absolutely not, she doesn't love him, no, and then she has sex with him--there is a chance that he didn't know that she actually meant no *that* time until she kicked the crap out of him. But Joss was adamant that Buffy *would not* have a sexual romantic relationship with Spike again after that.

Why it's okay for Buffy to love and desire Angel after he tries to kill her, but not okay for her to love and desire Spike, makes me scratch my head. It seems to be the same logic that means that showing lovemaking will get your movie an NC-17 rating, but showing decapitation will get it a PG rating.

#379 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 07:03 PM:

I love the moomintroll books at 41, although sometimes I can't decide whether I identify more with Moominmamma's determined utilitarianism or Moominpappa's angst.

Her favorite character is Little My. Fear her.

#380 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 07:19 PM:

Not to change the subject or anything, but I wanted to mention that the United Church of Christ, of which I am a member, made the news.

See, they came up with the idea of showing a commercial, the way the Mormons used to. And they paid to show it on all the major networks and a lot of the cable networks. And then NBC and CBS took one look at the actual commercial and balked. They've refused to air it.

The refusal the air a commercial, of course, is news, and the publicity from this has probably made up for the loss of market.

If you want to see the commercial, it's at http://stillspeaking.com.

The controversy, by the way, is in the implication that the UCC accepts gay couples into its fold.

#381 ::: sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 07:26 PM:

Ooooh, yes, Andre Norton! All the Forerunner stuff, how I loved it -- I think that was my introduction to sci-fi/fantasy.

And that brings to mind CJ Cherryh, whose website seems to offer a wealth of material -- including a bibliography, but a better one is here. Cherryh does "new worlds" and "first contact" as well as anyone, I think -- she really gives you the feeling of exploring an alien world in her best books (I'd recommend the Company Wars series and any of her novels or collections).

#382 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 08:15 PM:

Alice, you'd think that all religious denominations would be horrified that the message of God's love is controversial and should not be given (paid) time on the public airwaves if George W. Bush disagrees with it.

On the other hand, we've seen so much evidence that people in this country think that all the punitive government action they're voting for will never, ever affect them that I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

#383 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 08:50 PM:

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Seconding the recommendation of Barker's Abarat - I adored it, and when I finished the first book, I turned right back to the first page and started over. It reminds me sort of The Wizard Of Oz, but a version in which Kansas remains relevant and Auntie Em eventually gets invited along for the ride.

Funny thing was, it had been staring at me from across the Boulder Bookstore's children's book section (fave hangout) but from a distance the painting of Candy on the front cover I kept mistaking for Alice Cooper. Go fig.

It so made my day when I discovered the second book was out! I'm afraid that what the previous commenter had to say about the writing being clunky at times holds doubly true for the second book, though, and there's a bit of repetition to sit through where bits of backstory get relayed character-to-character multiple times... but the story itself, and the world it's set in, keep me in a forgiveable mood for these sorts of quibbles. I mean, I wanna go there. You know Disney's got the movie rights already? Release date in 2005, supposedly? Yeah. Crossing my fingers that they do a decent job. I'll be sitting there watching through my fingers with apprehension.

Oh, and has anyone mentioned Michael Ende's Neverending Story or Momo? These also get pride of place on my bookshelf.

#384 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:05 PM:

Mris:
So whenever anybody gets into whether kids are old enough for something at a given age, it makes me nervous. If kids aren't allowed books that excite and challenge them, something else will take their attention and wander off with it, in some cases permanently.

Case in point--Dylan is ten, and I've been surprised often enough now that I rarely underestimate his ability to handle a book. I'm definitely more concerned about him not being excited and challenged than I am about him being disturbed or warped. If he doesn't find a book challenging, he'll just want to watch television or play videogames all afternoon. If the book holds his interest, though, he won't remember that there is a television in the house. There are limits, of course, but we tend to age him a few years when looking at recommendations.

Also, when books seem too challenging, we just read them together and he asks me when he doesn't understand something. I feel very lucky that he'll still cuddle up with me on the couch, and I'm not above using difficult reading material as a crutch to keep that going for a couple more years.

Steve Eley: Re His Dark Materials--I agree, and I think Dylan would too. He was a bit bored by The Subtle Knife, and I suspect he skimmed whole chapters of The Amber Spyglass due to disinterest. He had to ask more questions about The Golden Compass, but was fascinated by it and could not put it down.

#385 ::: Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:12 PM:

Um, and thanks to everyone for the great recommendations. So much for the Yule "budget" this year, I think.

And we bought Abarat on a whim at the bookstore four months ago and haven't got to it yet (because we bought too much at one time), and now I'm going to have to get right to it when I get home.

#386 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 09:46 PM:

Nicole - The Abarat movie (trilogy!) is slated to be written by John Harrison, who did the screenplay for the Dune miniseries. I thought he did a pretty decent job with that, so I'm optimistic.

There's lots of discussion of the project in the lengthy interview here.

#387 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2004, 10:47 PM:

Steve Gillett wrote;

I've also heard that few people realized that Norton herself was female back in those days. She chose her pen-name subtly; evidently few picked up on the difference between "Andre" and "André". At least she didn't have to hide behind initials completely ("A. M. Norton"?), as did C. L Moore...

Unless I'm completely confused, Andre Norton initially wrote under "Andrew North" - which goes well beyond hiding behind initials.

#389 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:16 AM:

Charles Goodrum (who is not as good as Durrell, but fun) was also the director of the Congressional Research Service when I worked there in the early 70s. In person quite like Robertson Davies -- very intelligent and likeable.

#390 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:48 AM:

An old favorite set of books I should revisit sometime: the "Great Brain" books by John D. Fitzgerald.

#391 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 01:09 AM:

I don't know about other people, but when I talk about appropriate ages for a book, I'm not talking about challenge. I'm talking about developmental relevancy. And it's really a vague thing, especially with intellectual kids -- a book can be relevant to a kid all out of expectation. But there are generalities, things we know from experience the greater number of nine year olds are likely to take to heart and make their own, and Cherryh for example is not it. I adore Cherryh but I expect that her work is going to resonate for more teens and adults than children.

When I make age recommendations about a book, it's not "hide this book from the kid till they reach this age," it's "well, a kid this age is more likely to grab on to this other book."

Doubtful books -- I believe in buying them for yourself and leaving them around: that way the kids will pick them up when they're ready. Most of the "grownup" books I read as a child were just kind of there and I stumbled over them.

#392 ::: Steve Gillett ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 01:47 AM:

xeger asked:

"Unless I'm completely confused, Andre Norton initially wrote under "Andrew North" - which goes well beyond hiding behind initials."

Only the "Solar Queen" series was originally published as "Andrew North", and it wasn't her first publication by any means. Her first SF story, as I recall, was _Star Man's Son_ (a.k.a. Daybreak - 2250 AD), which was published in 1952. "Andrew North" was probably some weird marketing gimmick (c.f. Isaac Asimov as "Paul French".)

#393 ::: Sally Beasley ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 03:19 AM:

On books for children:

I can't believe I forgot The Last Unicorn, by Peter Beagle. That's a book that a nine-year-old will probably enjoy - but she'll still enjoy it when she's much older.

It looks like all the other ones that I couldn't believe I'd forgotten have been mentioned by someone else already, though.

#394 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 08:01 AM:

In person quite like Robertson Davies

Green with envy, I think.

#395 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 11:39 AM:

I think all of Peter Beagle's books are great. And to chime in on other recommendations: the Moomin books and the works of Diana Wynne Jones - yes, yes, yes!

On The Phantom Tollbooth, I loved it as a kid even though I didn't get a single one of the jokes. My incomprehension made it so perfectly surreal. And when I finally learned, for example, that "jumping to conclusions" is a normal figure of speech, I was just blown away.

Now, after digressions:

Steve Eley responded to my comments on His Dark Materials:

I'll give it a shot, if you're willing to elaborate. As I recall, there were two main female characters: the protagonist Lyra, and the antagonist Mrs. Coulter. Both are brilliant, charismatic, powerful leaders, at the very top of their social spheres.

It's interesting you should say they are at the top of their social spheres, because I didn't see it that way at all. They are both lone women in a world of men. Does that empower them, or make them tokens?

Lyra is the boss among other children, but in the grownup world, what power does she have (until she learns to read the aleithometer)?

As for Mrs. Coulter, Lyra's father says at the end of the book that she tried to achieve her ambitions "first in the normal way, through marriage" (!!!) and then when that didn't work, she turned to religious politics. However, it appears that in Pullman's alternate universe, women are not allowed to join the priesthood. She couldn't become Pope (or whatever it's called) - she had to attain power in back-door ways.

In this alternate universe, many things are different from our own, in some cases beautifully so (the daemons are very cool), but gender arrangements are not changed.

[Lyra] bears the burden of free will in the story.

How much free will can Lyra have, when it is constantly repeated that she is the fulfillment of a prophecy, and in order for her to fulfill said prophecy, she must not be allowed to know what she is doing?

The character herself is stubborn, cunning, feisty, all the rest of it, but in the end it seems like she was only a passive agent. And the insistence that she must remain "innocent" really bugged me.

You've also got a tribe of arctic witches, extraordinarily powerful, basically Amazons who can fly and use magic. Their personalities are somewhat extreme, and not terribly interesting, but I saw them primarily as a contrast with the armored polar bears.

The witches are a very interesting point. They are female, but they are not human (which to me implies that females are not human.) They are, compared to humans, practically immortal, and it's generally stated that their concerns are not human concerns. I also thought it was significant that we never see them come down to earth. They just float up in the air, ethereally. They are not like real people.

What exactly about the female characters bothered you? Was it the lying?

One thing that bothered me is that Lyra is depicted as almost purely "good and innocent" (except for the lying), and that Mrs. Coulter is depicted as completely evil. The one thing they seem to have in common is the lying. Aside from that, there are hardly any shades of gray.

Finally, it seems like Mrs. Coulter (was he aware of the existence of Ann Coulter when he wrote the book?) is so completely evil that she causes the laws of plot continuity to bend around her. There are two particular incidents:

When she opens that metal box with the buzzing creature in it. We've already been told that it is indestructible and malicious - it's determined to kill somebody. It attacks her, and then a few scenes later she suddenly reappears. There is no mention of her being injured and no explanation of how she dealt with the thing. Is this because evil is just plain omnipotent?

Her appearance at the very end of The Golden Compass is similarly unexplained and almost gratuitous. How did she get up on top of the mountain, after Lyra crossed the only bridge, which then collapsed? And she doesn't do anything once she's there to advance the plot either. The whole kissing-and-fighting scene is interesting, in a train wreck kind of way, but mostly it's just a distraction.

I'd really like to read the other books and find out what Pullman does with these characters and worlds. But my experience with this book was half enjoyment and half repugnance. It's quite an experience, swinging back and forth between those two emotions every few minutes.

#396 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 12:34 PM:

Lyra is most definitely not pure and good and innocent. She leads a gang of violent children: she steals, lies, manipulates, and bullies: she's good enough, in the grand scheme of things, but she's no angel.

#397 ::: Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 02:47 PM:

Lucy said,

Lyra is most definitely not pure and good and innocent.

Yes, but compared to Mrs. Coulter, doesn't she come off as the good one?

I don't mean that Lyra is 100% pure and good - the characterization is much more nuanced than that. It doesn't seem like she thinks of herself as pure/good/innocent either. But there is a clear distinction made between good and evil, and Lyra is on the Side of Good.

Once the adventure gets going, all her trickery is devoted to the cause of rescuing the children and (she thinks) her father. And none of her childish pranks can be compared, in moral terms, to Mrs. Coulter's schemes.

As for "innocent," I mean that in the specific sense of "she is not allowed to know what she's doing or why she's doing it," according to the terms of the prophecy. Maybe "naive" or even "deluded" would be a better term.

#398 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 02:56 PM:

The most disturbing part of Dark Materials is when the father does the human sacrifice thing. (I think at the end of book 1?) Was anyone else completely squicked by that?

The only other squickier moment I recall as a reader of YA was, I think, the incest scene in The Dancers of Arun (Elizabeth Lynn).

#399 ::: Michael Turyn ::: (view all by) ::: December 03, 2004, 10:58 PM:

Grid bless you for recommending Bad Magic. It's a little annoying in a very few places, but it is something-great-on-each-page good.

I'll never think of totem animals in the same way ever again....

#400 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 10:05 AM:

mayakda (or other): did that 'father does human sacrifice' seem like some sort of Abraham/Isaac reference? I don't know the Dark Material books, though I've heard of them, so am not sure if they'd be making references to some of the old stories.

#401 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2004, 11:40 PM:

Okay, so a new Open thread has started - but I wanted to answer a comment in this one, and the discussion didn't seem to have carried over.

My experience, when I was a kid and given a book that was too "old" for me went one of two ways:

1) I didn't get everything that was going on, but the parts I did get were so interesting and full of neat people that I didn't mind missing a few clues the first time through.

2) I put the book aside in disinterest and didn't read it again. When hearing it praised as a more mature person, I could remember only being very NOT impressed with it, and continue to avoid it.

On the few occasions I have finally bowed to recommendations and reread a book in this category, it has occasionally happened that I was right - and sometimes that I said, "What was I thinking!?" The Lord of the Rings was one of these. Trying to read that at 9 years old was, for me, a mistake. I made it through at 13-14, but then avoided it again for many many years after, for residual effect of the first attempt at reading even after I'd successfully read and enjoyed it. And it's kept me from Kipling.

So when I mention a book might be too old for a certain person, I'm mostly thinking of that residual distaste effect, not of "inappropriate subject matter". (One of the "picture books" I most loved to flip through as a kid was a science book on the stages of pregnancy. I was fascinated by the pictures of single cell turning into something recognizably human. Oh. and the patterns of hair follicles. Sexual references to do with the act itself and how it's done still went over my head - I wasn't the least interested in how the body parts fit together).

#402 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2004, 12:33 AM:

No, the father in His Dark Materials isn't at all like Abraham. I have lots more to say about it but it's sort of spoilerish I think (considering that I don't care about spoilers at all myself I'm sort of smug about how much care I take for the sake of those who do). Suffice it to say it isn't exactly human sacrifice, and it isn't exactly a religious thing, and while there are angels and stuff, they aren't anything like you'd expect.

#403 ::: EmilyB ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2004, 02:00 PM:

Laura Roberts wrote:

On The Phantom Tollbooth, I loved it as a kid even though I didn't get a single one of the jokes. My incomprehension made it so perfectly surreal. And when I finally learned, for example, that "jumping to conclusions" is a normal figure of speech, I was just blown away.

My experience was similar. I'm glad, though, that I had read it before we had to read it for school (in sixth grade, IIRC). What I remember most about reading it that time was the teacher chiding us for not having looked up the term "short shrift". I certainly believe that if you don't understand a word or phrase, you should look it up -- but none of us even realized there was something there to understand. (It flew over my head without registering, and I feel comfortable saying that I was the most widely-read student in the class).

#404 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2004, 03:02 PM:

Lenora Rose, if you're still looking for Christmas music... Rockapella's Rockapella Christmas (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00004WJDN/qid=1102708304/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i2_xgl15/102-8470682-8203301?v=glance&s=music&n=507846) has a couple of lush and beautiful arrangements of old standbys, a few neat originals, and an amazing danceable version of the Grinch song ... go to the Amazon listing to hear a snippet!

#405 ::: Serge sees SPAM ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2010, 10:26 PM:

You want cheeky? Bend over.

#406 ::: Lee sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2010, 02:24 AM:

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