about this blog

This blog documents my staying at home and writing (and the subsequent whatevers to that writing). It also serves as an online journal for friends and family. It is more-or-less guaranteed to be sans intérêt to most anyone else.

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2006 Reading List

Being a list of books read during the current year.
· Peter S.Beagle: The Last Unicorn
· John Christopher: The Pool of Fire
· Ayerdhal, & J.C.Dunyach: Étoiles Mourantes
· Haruki Murakami: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, A Wild Sheep Chase, Kafka on the Shore, South of the Border, West of the Sun, After the Quake, Dance, Dance, Dance
· Michael Chabon: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
· Jonathan Stroud: Ptomely’s Gate
· Ayerdhal: Consciences Virtuelles, Mytale, Balade Chroréïale, La Bohème & L’Ivraie, L’Histrion, Sexomorphoses
· Philip Pullman: The Broken Bridge
· Frédéric Lenormand: Mort d’un Cuisinier Chinois, Madame Ti mène l’Enquête, Le Palais des Courtisans, L’art délicat du deuil
· Jonathan Coe: The Accidental Woman
· Arthur C.Clarke: Rendez-vous with Rama, The Fountains of Paradise
· Arthur C.Clarke & Michael Kube-McDowell: The Trigger
· Arthur C.Clarke & Gentry Lee: Rama II, The Gardens of Rama, Rama Revealed
· Angie Sage: Septimus Heap Book 1 - Magyk, Septimus Heap Book 2 - Flyte
· Ian McEwan: Amsterdam, Atonement, The Innoncent
· Roddy Doyle: The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van, The Woman Who Walked into Doors, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
· Christopher Fowler: Disturbia
· James Morrow: Towing Jehovah, The Eternal Footman, Blameless in Abaddon
· Laurent Genefort: Omale, Les Conquérants d’Omale, La Muraille Sainte d’Omale, La Mècanique du Talion, Une Porte sur l’Ether, Les Chasseurs de Sève, Le Sand des Immortels, Les Croisés du Vide, Les Engloutis
· Melvyn Burgess: Redtide
· Terry Pratchett: The Carpet People, Night Watch, The Last Hero
· Tobias Hill: Underground
· Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
· Helen Fielding: Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason
· P.D.James: Cover Her Face, A Mind To Murder, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, Innoncent Blood, The Skull Beneath the Skin, Death in Holy Orders, The Black Tower, Shroud for a Nightingale, Death of an Expert Witness, A Taste for Death, Devices and Desires, Unnatural Causes, A Certain Justice, The Murder Room
· Lawrence Block: The Burglar who thought he was Bogart, Out on the Cutting Edge The Sins of the Fathers, In the Midst of Death, Time to Murder and Create, A Ticket to the Boneyard, A Dance at the Slaughterhouse, A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Devil Knows You're Dead, Everybody Dies, All the Flowers are Dying, The Burglar in the Closet, The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza, The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams, The Burglar in the Library, The Burglar in the Rye, The Burglar on the Prowl
· Orson Scott Card: Enchantement
· David Brin: The Kiln People, Postman, Uplift War
· Ian Rankin: Resurrection Men
· Justine Larbalestier: Magic or Madness
· Margaret Atwood: Surfacing
· Michael Connelly: The Black Echo, The Concrete Blonde, Trunk Music, Angels Flight, A Darkness More Than Night, City Of Bones, Lost Light, The Poet, Blood Work, The Lincoln Lawyer
· Herbert Lieberman: The concierge, La Nuit du Solstice, Le Vagabond de Holmby Park
· Eoin Colfer: The Opal Deception,
· Jasper Fforde: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots,
· Ian Sansom: The Mobile Library - The Case of the Missing Books,
· Alexandra Marinina: Black Note,
· Faye Kellerman: Stalker,
· Jonathan Kellerman: Blood Test, Monster, Doctor Death, The Murder Book
· Sue Grafton: D is for Deadbeat, E is for Evidence, F is for Fugitive, M is for Malice, N is for Noose, O is for Outlaw, P is for Peril, Q is for Quarry, R is for Ricochet
· Nouvelles des Siècles Futurs, An Anthology compiled by Jaques Guimard & Denis Guiot


Reads from 2003 are here.
Reads from 2004 are here.
Reads from 2005 are here.
 

2006 Film and DVD List

Being a list of films viewed during the current year.
· Good Night, and Good Luck, George Clooney
· Pompoko [Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko], Isao Takahata
· The Pacifier [DVD], Adam Shankman
· Millions [DVD], Danny Boyle
· Truly Madly Deeply [DVD], Anthony Minghella
· La Double Vie de Vèronique [DVD], Krzysztof Kieslowski
· Layer Cake [DVD], Matthew Vaughn
· Ice Age: The Meltdown, Carlos Saldanha
· Natural City [DVD], Byung-chun Min
· Garden State [DVD], Zach Braff
· Volver, Pedro Almodóvar
· Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan
· The Ladykillers, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
· Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michel Gondry
· Tideland, Terry Gilliam
· A Cock and Bull Story, Michael Winterbottom
· Flightplan [DVD], Robert Schwentke
· Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Gore Verbinski
· Casino Royale, Martin Campbell
· X-Men: The Last Stand [DVD], Brett Ratner
· Superman Returns, Bryan Singer
· Nanny McPhee [DVD], Kirk Jones
· V For Vendetta [DVD], James McTeigue
· La Science des Rêves, Michel Gondry
· Infernal Affairs II [Mou gaan dou II] [DVD], Wai Keung Lau, Siu Fai Mak
· Infernal Affairs III [Mou gaan dou III: Jung gik mou gaan] [DVD], Wai Keung Lau, Siu Fai Mak
· A Tale of Two Sisters [Janghwa, Hongryeon] [DVD], Ji-woon Kim
· Mirrormask, Dave McKean
· Labyrinth [DVD], Jim Henson
· The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [DVD], Garth Jennings
· National Treasure [DVD], Jon Turteltaub
· The Weather Man [DVD], Gore Verbinski
· Bandidas [DVD], Joachim Roenning, Espen Sandberg
· A Bittersweet Life [Dalkomhan insaeng] [DVD], Ji-woon Kim
· Babel, Alejandro González Ińárritu
· The Fountain, Darren Aronofsky
2005 Film and DVDs are here.
 
life
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Gloves for the Hangman

In a roundabout turn of circumstances I today learnt that Ted Walker, the poet, is dead.

Nadja is now busy in her second internship as part of her training to become a judge. She is currently working at the Legal Publisher, “Dalloz, where, she informs us, she is readying material for their blog. So I hopped over and found her first post. And just underneath was a piece about the judicial statute [is this the correct term? the judicial personnality perhaps?] of animals. This in turn referred to the recorded cases when animals have, in France and in the past, been tried for what we would consider human crimes. Including murder.

Ted Walker based a poem on one of the documented cases, and this appeared in his book, Gloves to the Hangman which my mother gave me many years back.

We were familiar with Ted’s work, and even met him a few times. He attended Steyning Grammar, in Steyning, Sussex, as I did too. Although not at the same time. He was then the sponsor [or titular figurehead] for the school’s annual poetry competition. I have no idea how one judges poetry competitions, and am inclined—reflecting back on my efforts—to suppose that perseverance was at least a major criteria. Ted Walker also performed the occasional reading at the school that I also attended, not only because distractions were rare…

One of my English Lit. teachers—with whom I somehow seemed to often cross swords, if not pens—also published poetry, and held Ted Walker in high estime. Some part of that estime must have seaped through our bended napes*, and I have subsequently followed and enjoyed Ted Walker’s work. Which is why my mother gave me the book.

So today, seeking the reference to that specific book [which is far away from me at the moment] about the pig’s hanging, the first reference that I found in Google was Ted Walker’s obituary from the Guardian.

An obituary is a curious affair, resuming a person’s life in under a hundred lines. But the very fact that it exists also says something… How many obituaries are still unwritten?

[*] School regulations stated that a boy’s hair [yes, we were the first year to be ‘mixed’] could not encroach on the nape of his neck—this was in the mid-seventies when shoulder length hair was quite normal. There could be no real reason for the rule, so we decided—in all logic and common sense—that the knowledge dispensed by our wonderful teachers was in fact imbibed through the back of the neck. Thus explaining the need to keep this area clear of interference.

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life
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fifty books

There is a meme circulating around the web that seeks to incite people to read 50 books in the coming year. This is a great initiative, and I’m all for it. In fact I would like to do the same.

If you have noticed my reading lists along the side of this [infrequent] blog, then this might strike you as curious. Last year, according to that list I read in excess of 120 books. In fact, I have probably forgotten to note about 10-15, and my total is nearer to 150, than 50.

So why seek to read 50 books in 2007? I think it is because I read too much, if that is possible. Since the beginning of this year, I have been demolishing two to three books a year. Again. Perhaps I should be spending some of that time doing other things. Like writing.

Let’s see.

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life
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That’s life

I have been a wery naughty boy. In fact, because I have a stinking headache, and am preparing to go and lie down instead of working, because working at 2 mph, is probably worse than working at all—I’d say that it is so bad I am currently in a zone of neagtive productivity and tomorrow I will have to unwravel the little I did manage today—and to make things worse, I’m now typing terrible run on sentances in the blog that I haven’t updated since June. That’s life for you.

But this is not why I am a very naughty boy.

No, sirreee.

I am a naughty boy because, as said daughter told me the other day on the phone, I haven’t announced my unbounded joy to the world that my daughter is now a Judge.

So much so, I was going to entitle this post “My other daughter is a judge” [This was designed to be a reference to those stickers that appeared on beat-up cars in the 70s and 80s proclaiming, “My other car is a Prosche”. Or whatever.] But I dropped this idea because the aforementioned daughter might not appreciate being referred to as ‘the other daughter’ [which I can understand], and so would telephone me to complain. AH, the things you have to do to get your daughters to telephone you…

Theoretically parenthetic asides aside. My eldest daughter is an English Teacher, and quite happy with her lot. And so, the secondest has just been accepted into the ENM which is the French National School for Judges. Technically, I believe, for the first two years she is an Auditor, but she gets sworn in at the end of the month, and has already had her robes [and hat] prepared for the day. The youngest daughter—for the moment still at school, and having just started playing with career choices, currently wants to be a chef. We’ll see.

What is wonderful for Nadja, is that she has worked towards this for years. Whenever we tried to approach her during, more or less, the last decade she always shooed us off, quite firmly, saying that she was studying. Which, it seems, she was. And today all that has paid off.

I won’t be going down to Bordeaux to see the ceremony, not as a way of sulking for having been spurned, but because they have limited invitations to only two people each, and she is taking her companion, Philippe, and her mother. But I will be with her in spirit, every inch of the way.

Big hugs to you all.

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life
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home news from abroad

Well here we are then… Flat is strangely quiet, but that could be because The Cat is asleep and no longer throwing herself at windows with gay abandon in attempts to catch flies. No, the flat is quiet because I am all alone while Ludivine has gone off to Thailand for three weeks.

Of course, last night I had a weird thought: she hasn’t gone to Thailand at all. All this is an elaborate pretense, organised with Magali’s complicity [perhaps even at her instigation], and Ludivine will sudenly appear again like at eleven, possibly with magali in tow to act as a witness, expecting to catch me on the hop with all sorts of wicked sexy creatures. Far from this. In fact, at eleven I was mopping up the kitchen in my underpants as the bodum exploded when I pushed the plunger down to filter the coffee. Greasy coffee grounds dripped down the walls, water bubbled over the heating plate and through the cracks onto the shelves below, gradually puddling around my bare feet. I didn’t even have the presence of mind to grab the leaking remains and dump them in the sink. Instead, I’m grabbing tea towels and dish clothes and trying to damn the brown rivers flooding over the kitchen top. I suppose that I wasn’t too awake. And having coffee pots explode isn’t really an everyday occurrence so I wasn’t prepared for it. I’ll know for next time, anyway.

So Ludivine is in Thailand. I mean, do people really go to places like Thailand? How can you even be sure that such a place exists, and is not just some elaborate fiction? [This sort of ties into a childhood fancy that places didn’t exist until you visited them, and even then they were hastily built up in preparation for your arrival. I think that I grew out of this around the age of eleven, but somehow, deep down, it seems to touch something and the idea is always hovering about below the surface. Especially when people are trying to persuade you to go to strange exotic places. And this would explain why all these places look different: they use local labour.]

Of course, it didn’t help to borrow Bridget Jones – The Edge of Reason from the local library yesterday and have to read her adventures in Thailand. Ludivine, if you’re reading this: do not touch the local produce, lay off all offers of magic mushrooms. And especially beware of all sexy Harrison Ford look-alikes. Even if they are not international drug dealers. Although that is a good enough reason in itself.

Stop press: mail arrived. Ludivine arrived safely. And now I know something else about Thailand: the keyboards don’t have accents. In fact, they don’t seem to have apostrophes either. The mail looked a bit like a text message sent with all thumbs from a mobile phone. But the essential was understandable. She’s in Thailand, in the rainy season. Hmm. Like Bridget Jones that.

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work
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mogWerks

My latest project mogWerks has gone online. There is another part here for the open source activities. Please feel free to drop by, say hello, and recommend us to your friends.

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life
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little known facts about cats

Cats and Mindwaves

Cats emit two different sort of mindwaves. Humans are quite sensitive to the first type, technically known as the come – over – here – right – now – and – stroke – me waves. Unfortunately—and all cats will tell you this—Humans are less sensitive to the second type, technically known as I’m – bored – of – being – stroked – and – you’re – making – a – bad – job – of – things – now – just – leave – me – alone mindwaves. And I’ve got scars to prove it.

Opposable Thumbs

Cats do not have opposable thumbs. This means that they have trouble opening the freezer. This also means that it is highly unlikely that The Cat opened the fridge and ate the last of the ice cream, however much she wanted to do. It is much more probable that it is a crotchety old man, even though he protests and blames The Cat.

Retractable Claws

The Cat, unlike Humans, has retractable claws. But this means that, again, unlike Humans, The Cat can’t push her claws out to clean them with a nail file. This might explain why The Cat has caked blood under her claws, and why she leaves stains on light-coloured surfaces.

Cats and the Web

As cats are responsible for human civilisation—according to Boris Cyrulnik, they pushed humanity to create housing so that they could get close to the radiator—they also inspired the creation of Internet so that they could communicate using all the pictures of themselves that people post there. (Incidentally, this is why cats watch TV, they think that it is the Internet and are waiting for the cat pictures to appear).

PS. Cats are probably the only quantic animals [see below], which also explains their affinity for the Web which was, you will also remember, developed at the CERN, an international center for research into quantic physics. See, it all comes together.

Sharpening claws

The ultimate elegance of all cats is to ignore the scratching post that you will buy it when the cat starts clawing up the furniture, as The Cat has no wish to destroy this hideous new decoration, preferring to continue with the ones it has already broken in.

Schroedinger

The Cat that has managed to hide itself in the dirty linen basket can be alive or dead. You cannot know until you open the basket and examine everything. Without an observer, does the cat exist at all? This is one instance of quantic behaviour by cats.

But, the real enigma is: Is the cat that has managed to hide itself in the dirty linen basket just asleep, or is it patiently ripping up all your delicat undies and favourite shirt that just happen to be in there…

Cats Falling

It is said that cats always fall on their four paws. This is not true. In fact, cats—being quantic animals [see elsewhere]—re-arrange the world around them as they fall in order that their paws meet the ground. In this instance, the distance that they fall is directly proportional to the time it takes them to rearrange the world, and not to any vague human notions like distance, gravity, mass, etc.

This also explains why the idea of building a perpetual motion machine through the means of a slice of buttered toast fastened to the back of a falling cat is doomed to failure. Buttered toast is not known for its quantic properties and so the cat will always win out.

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life etc.
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Quick Notes

Having just updated the sidebar of films and books, I just wanted to say a couple of words about some of the entries there…

Millions, which we missed at the cinema, has finally come out on DVD, so we jumped on it when I saw it on the shelves of the local Video Club. It was—quite simply—more than well worth the wait. It has overtones of Toto the Hero in that it treats the child’s word with a straight-forwardness, no talking down, attitude. It has overtones of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in the way that the digital effects weave themselves into the fabric of the story, rather than taking it over. As these are films I also love, it comes as no surprise that I loved this too. In fact, I’m probably going to rent it again just for the pleasure and the fun.

The other really notable [and pleasurable] event was reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. The novel is a delight to read, with punchy wisecracking sentences that do full justice to the subject matter. However, I found the tone rather dry and emotionless, a little deadpan, until—suddenly—the elastic snapped, literally, in a marvellously ridiculous scene on the Empire State Building. [It should be noted that the whole novel is wonderfully preposterous, but this is the device that, precisely, renders it and the characters so real.] And the emotion poured out, made all the better/worse but that clever smart prose. I cried and cried and cried after that.

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home
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News of The Cat

The Cat invented a new game yesterday.

She drops a hair clip at my feet. I have to pick it up and throw it across the room for her. She pounces on it, then picks it up in her mouth, pads back across the room and drops it at my feet. If, by any chance, I don’t promptly pick it up and throw it again, she starts eating and scratching my papers.

Cats take the business of training humans very seriously.

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films
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2005 Film and DVD List

Being a list of films viewed during 2005

· Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki
· Finding Neverland, Marc Forster
· Possession [DVD], Neil LaBute
· The Edukators, Hans Weingartner
· The Nightmare Before Christmas [DVD], Henry Selick
· Constantine, Francis Lawrence
· Star Wars IV: A New Hope [DVD], George Lucas
· Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back [DVD], Irvin Kershner
· Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi [DVD], George Lucas
· Final Destination [DVD], James Wong
· Donnie Darko [DVD], Richard Kelly
· Men In Black II [DVD], Barry Sonnenfeld
· The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson
· The Gathering [DVD], Brian Gilbert
· Insomnia [DVD], Christopher Nolan
· The Bourne Supremacy [DVD], Paul Greengrass
· Scooby Doo 2 [DVD], Raja Gosnell
· Horus [Taiyo no oji: Horusu no daiboken] [DVD], Isao Takahata
· 3-Iron [Bin-jip], Ki-duk Kim
· Steamboy [DVD], Katsuhiro Ôtomo
· Spiderman 2 [DVD], Sam Raimi
· High Fidelity [DVD], Stephen Frears
· Ghost World [DVD], Terry Zwigoff
· Bandits [DVD], Barry Levinson
· Collateral [DVD], Michael Mann
· Stars Wars III – Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas
· A Simple Plan [DVD], Sam Raimi
· Sin City, Robert Rodriguez, et al.
· No Blood No Tears [Pido nunmuldo eobshi] [DVD], Seung-wan Ryoo
· The Mummy Returns [DVD], Stephen Sommers
· Time And Tide [Seunlau ngaklau] [DVD], Hark Tsui
· Wonderful Days [DVD], Moon-saeng Kim,
Park Sunmin
· Oldboy [DVD], Chan-wook Park
· Chronicles of Riddick [DVD], David Twohy
· A Series Of Unfortunate Events [DVD], Brad Silberling
· Kung Fu Hustle [Gong Fu], Stephen Chow
· Matilda, Danny DeVito
· Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tim Burton
· War Of The Worlds, Steven Spielberg
· Identity [DVD], James Mangold
· Hostage [DivX], Florent Emilio Siri
· Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [DVD], Chris Columbus
· Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Doug Liman
· The Island, Michael Bay
· Die xue shuang xiong [The Killer] [DVD], John Woo
· The Jacket, John Maybury
· Danny The Dog [DVD], Louis Leterrier
· The Transporter [DivX], Louis Leterrier
· The Brothers Grimm, Terry Gilliam
· Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Steve Box, Nick Park
· Equilibrium [DVD], Kurt Wimmer
· The Corpse Bride, Tim Burton, Mike Johnson
· Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow [DVD], Kerry Conran
· Free Zone, Amos Gitai
· The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Tommy Lee Jones
· Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Mike Newell
· The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Andrew Adamson

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rant
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Small Thoughts about ‘The Half-Blood Prince’

Curiously this was the book that I read the most in 2005, and I can’t really understand why…

I started reading the Harry Potter books when The Goblet of Fire was released in French, and I decided that I should perhaps read that one before Kim. I quickly read through the first ones, and then GOF, which, I’ll admit, shook me more than a little at the time, what with the sudden death of Cedric Diggory at the end. Even the intrusion of the Death Eaters at the Quidditch World Cup was rather scary, containing elements of the rise of fascism in Europe. In fact, the whole “pure blood”, “Death Eaters” and Voldemort business does seem to have very clear fascist overtones, and can be considered heavy matter for children’s reading. Not that I think children’s reading should be sanitised, just that it is a good idea, as a parent, to know what one’s children are reading, and to be ready to accompany them, and to answer questions.

As a reader, I still have problems with J.K.Rowling’s books. It is clear that she has built a solid and convincing world, a sort of mirror image of a certain type of children’s fiction—I’m sure that C.S.Lewis, for example, would feel perfectly at home in the Houses, and boarding school environment, that is Hogwarts. However her writing is leaden most of the time, her pacing is generally pretty off: both in Order of the Phoenix, and HBP, one has the feeling that she has to get some much of the backstory out of the way first that the climax is suddenly rushed. And the whole hunting-the-Horcrux-in-the-green-cave episode in HBP is a complete non-sequitur that reminds me of John le Carré’s The Honourable Schoolboy, when Jerry Westerby disappears off on a wild goose chase into the wilds of Indochina in a fascinating diversion that brings nothing positive to the story except echoes of Joseph Conrad, even if it is beautifully done.

Probably the thing that I retain most from JKR’s writing is that a strong plot, a coherent world, and credible (and complex) characters are more important than a developed or elegant style. Sure, that would be a bonus, but it is surely better to get the books out and read, than to get them perfect. I also get a very strong Dickensien feel from the books, particularly the descriptions of food, of gatherings, and the naming of characters.

I approached HBP with trepidation. I had heard, as a lot of others had, that an ‘important’ character would die. I did not believe that this would be Dumbledore, and, each time I have read the book, invariably, I found myself crying at his burial scene.

I have no qualms about revealing now that Dumbledore dies for two reasons: one, most of those who intend to read the book, have already done so, and secondly, to say that revealing he dies will ruin the book is, frankly, rubbish. This is not a whodunit. A book is not the ‘answer’ at the end. A book is the shared journey through the pages. In fact, were I working on the screen adaptation of the novel, I’d start with the funeral, and us the ceremony to recap the contents of the book, just to get the false suspense out of the way. Why he does [if he does..] is more interesting that the blunt statement: Dumbledore dies.

However, I am assuming that if you are reading me, you have either read the book, or you have no intention of doing so, so consider this a spoiler warning.

I read HBP a fourth time because JKR stated in an interview that Books 6 and 7 could be taken as two halves of the same book, and that there were a lot of clues as to the last tome inside this one. So I went hunting. This is what I find…

Harry and Ron are probably the most developed characters. This is normal. Harry is the hero, and Ron and the rest of the Weasley’s are his substitute family. But we have quite a bit of backstory on a few other characters, and that is interesting.

We know a lot about Snape, surprisingly enough. While it is logical that Book 6 provided Voldemort’s backstory, Book 5 provided Snape’s, with HBP filling in a few blanks. I will be quite clear: Snape is my most favourite character in the films, and I believe that Alan Rickman’s interpretation is masterful. Where the Snape in the books is sallow, dirty, and ambiguous, Rickman’s performance has majesty, menace personified (it is lucky he can fit so much into so little as his lines seem to get shorter and shorter in each film), and a voice that would make a statue tremble as he calls out its name. But, the major question is, Is Snape guilty?

My answer is no.

I base this on an overheard conversation that Hagrid reports to Harry.

From the Bloomsbury UK children’s edition, page 380:
“I dunno, harry, I shouldn’ta heard it all! I—well, I was comin’ outta the Forest the other evenin’ an’ I overheard ‘em talkin’—well, arguin’. Didn’t like te draw attention to meself, so I sorta sulked an’ tried not ter listen, but it was a – well, a heated discussion, an’ it wasn’ easy ter block it out.”
“Well?” Harry urged him, as Hagrid shuffled his enormous feet uneasily.
“Well—I jus’ heard Snape sayin’ Dumbledore took too much fer granted an’ maybe he—Snape—didn’ wan’ ter do it anymore—”

The conversation peters out with Harry and Hagrid trying to determine what ‘it’ was. So why put this in? It is obvious that JKR wants us to understand something. At the time we are lead to believe that this is probably searching Slytherin for evidence of Malfoy’s misdeeds, but why? To set us on a false trail.

Dumbledore knows he is being overheard. He is, after all, a most powerful wizard and he could easily (and silently) cloak the conversation. He knows Hagrid is there, in the same way that he knew Harry was under the Invisibility cloak in The Prisoner of Azkaban, and he knows that the conversation will be reported to Harry. He also knows that, when the time comes, it is necessary for Harry to know this. For if Snape ‘kills’ Dumbledore, it is on Dumbledore’s specific orders.

Go reread the chapter of the killing and you will see, quite clearly, that Dumbledore is reminding Snape of his duty and his engagement, not pleading for his life. But why?

[note I have just found a site that supports my theories, go see dumbledoreisnotdead.com ]

Dumbledore knows that only this ultimate sacrifice can allow a number of things to come to pass… What are these things?

One, and probably the most important, is to protect Malfoy. Dumbledore is, before being one of the most powerful wizards of his time, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, and as such, he has a duty to protect his charges. At this point Malfoy has not committed the irreparable; in fact, he has serious doubts, and Dumbledore uses his last breath to encourage the boy, and show him that there is hope, that all is not inevitable, he can resist, and the Order will assist him. We saw from what Moaning Myrtle told us, that behind the façade, Malfoy is not at all at ease with what he has got himself into. Dumbledore offers him hope and forgiveness. In my opinion, Malfoy’s dilemma should be central to Book 7, as Harry will need allies in Voldemort’s camp.

The second point is precisely that: Who, after he has ‘killed’ Dumbledore, can ever doubt that Snape is the most faithful of Voldemort’s followers. Snape will be confirmed as the closest helper of the Dark Lord. Ready to help Harry, although Harry will probably not realise this until it is too late, blinded as he is by his hate for Snape. I expect Dumbledore’s portrait—sleeping peacefully at the end of HBP—to provide some explanations here, even if Harry doesn’t want to believe it.

Finally, Dumbledore, through his love for the school and for Harry, had to protect Harry. Why did he freeze Harry? Snape noticed that there were two broomsticks on the tower. He knew, or guessed that Harry was there under the Invisibility cape, but did nothing. He didn’t kill him either as Harry chased him through the school grounds. Dumbledore, making the sacrifice, like Harry’s mother before him, shows that Good Magic will always be more powerful that the Dark Arts.

And we should remember that Dumbledore’s familiar is, after all, a Phoenix. Expect surprises here… No, he won’t rise from the dead, but he will be back in Book 7.

But can Harry really beat Voldemort?

Voldemort is supposed to be the most powerful practitioner of the Dark Arts. He has mastered spells that Harry can’t even imagine. He has returned from the dead, and is quite prepared to do that again, and again… yet Harry was unable to attack Snape, or even perform a summoning spell, while frozen under the cape. And this boy thinks he can defeat the Dark Lord?

He will need help from Ron and Hermione, probably from Ginny as well as we know she has a strong character and a good way with hexes, and I doubt that she’ll let Harry let her go. And her parents will be horrified. Even more so as most of the Weasley children will probably come down on Harry’s side: don’t forget that while Fred and George love their work and a good jape as much as the next person, more than just monetarily, they feel they have a debt to Harry. After all, it was he they chose to give the Marauder’s Map to, not to Ron… (I fear Luna and Neville will also help, as they’re like that… Good loyal friends. I also fear for them, as it is likely that they could be the first victims.) Snape and Malfoy will have their parts to play, and without this combined assistance Harry will not be able to vanquish Voldemort.

But will Harry die?

JKR has stated quite clearly that there would be seven books and that’s all. The easiest way to make sure of this is to do a Conan-Doyle and to kill off your hero. (Well, at least he tried.)

I don’t think Harry will die. He will lose his scar, I’m pretty sure of that. But he won’t die, and neither will Voldemort necessarily. I see Voldemort as being banished into a non-life, trapped forever inside one of his part lives, one of his Horcruxes. This would be a far greater ‘punishment’ for his actions than just dying. Perhaps Sirius Black and the curtain in the department of mysteries plays a part in this banishment…

If Harry does live, I’d rather like to see one more book. A sort of “Twenty Years After”. When, rather than danger, Harry, Ron, Hermione and the others have to face the fact that they’ve grown up, that they have children of their own and jobs and responsibilities to the wizarding community, and all that that brings with it. It would be a fitting ending for this saga that having year by year watched the heroes and villains grow from children to adults, it also accompanies them onto to the next generation.

Well, I can wish.

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Well, I’m Back

Oops. That was fifteen days being cut off from the net, just when I wanted to put up all my end of the year information. No thanks to my ISP for thoroughly ruining things there. The time to disentangle myself and get a new provider… Here I am again.

Even so, I haven’t posted for some time.

Let me reassure my reader. I am here. I am still, more or less, alive. And I have news.

I’ll probably post some small pieces in the coming days, just to fill in and catch up. But here’s the new year material.

First of all, best wishes to all for the coming year. As it’s already upon us, you already have an idea of the flavour, I just hope that it will be full of good warm things if you like that sort of thing (and cold slimy stuff, if you prefer that).

For myself, the end of the year means reviewing the goals I set myself for 2005, as well as archiving my reading and movies lists.

Goals

Probably the most important was getting something published. This I didn’t get done. I did have hopes that the (non-fiction) idea that I floated would come to fruit. It didn’t. After being hummed and hah-ed for about two months, I was told that the project didn’t fit in with the publisher’s planning schedule. Fine. I’ve put it aside, and might come abck to it later. For the moment I am too occupied with ZeBigProject to work on it. ZeBigProject will become public in about two weeks, so I’ll say no more for the moment.

Reads

I see that I managed to read about 120 books this year. These varied in size from Philip Pullman’s Lyra’s Oxford, to Philip K.Dick’s complete short stories in 2 volumes. I didn’t count books that I started and abandoned—there were a couple. Nor books that I read more than once. For example, I read the last Harry Potter four times [looking for clues—coming soon], as well as a couple of Ian Rankin books. I also read online, magazines, and what not. As well as some of Kim’s books. All in all, it means I managed at least 2 books a week. This is a good thing, and I plan to keep to the rhythm of two a week. I’ll archive 2005 soon, and set up the 2006 list.

Films

This year’s offering was dominated by Fantasy and Asian movies I think. Fantasy I think reflects the renewal of this genre as special effects have made more things possible. Asian movies seems to reflect that that is currently where the good new cinema is happening. Quite frankly, this year no French film has stirred me to say, Hey I’d like to see that! But a lot of Asian cinema has. And I haven’t been disappointed. There’s also a good mix between blockbusters and art films—thanks to our local cinema’s very reasonable prices, 3,90 a seat, sometimes cheaper for children’s films.

This Year

Well, we have ZeBigProject launching in a couple of weeks, and that means lots of preparation and work. But I would also like to finish another novel this year. It’s only in writing them that I’ll get better… Died keeps floating back, Pirates is half written, and I have another— Dragon’s Teeth—sitting as notes on my bedside table. Perhaps if I decided to get up a hour earlier each day, and just write for an hour each day, and see how it goes.

[to be continued]

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the Big Project

I suppose that I’d better give an update so that Mum doesn’t think that I’m ill, or have fallen over in the kitchen to be devoured by The Cat.

News: I am still alive.

Ok, now that’s over and done, what’s there to say? Book project is on hold. The editor finally got back to me: no-one has time to read the proposal in detail, get back to you later. So I shelved that and hit The Big Project. Which is currently lying drying on the floor! Let me just say that Stupid Cats, coffee, and important documents written with fountain pens do not mix. Lucky for me, about half was written with a ballpoint, but a couple of pages did get badly sploshed, and had to be delicately wadded down with kleenexi. I am vastly annoyed. And Stupid Cat is still in the bathroom.

About a month ago now I sent Juliet out to beta readers. No news back. This morning, I also dragged out the last revision of Bill to have a look at the last few corrections that need doing in that. I’ll probably attack that after lunch today. Then I can generte a pdf and send it off to Matt to try out on his kids. Again, more waiting.

Oh, and Tammy has passed me on a blog baton, that I have been scribbling away at and will, at some time, complete and post.

So now, back to the table, and a bowl of hamster food, to advance things on The Big Project.

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