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Sitting here, playing Bejeweled & a weird random thought came to me.

In the Harry Potter universe, what happens to kids who flunk out of the wizarding schools? What if they cannot, no matter how hard they try, pass the OWLS? Do they get to keep being wizards & practice magic, or do they get stripped of their wizarding abilities & turned into muggles? Do they end up as food vendors or customer service agents? Can a wizard in the Potter world be too stupid to use magic?

I mean, IRL America we have public schools & private schools. Usually if you flunk out of public school they hold you back, but there's a limit. Most of the mentally deficient kids end up in Vo-Tech or trade schools, or they hit the legal drop-out age & do exactly that - drop out, get a job. Usually at McDonald's. In private schools, there's probably a higher incentive to keep kids in school as long as possible, mainly because of those big fat tuition checks, but I imagine there's a limit to what will and won't be tolerated as well.
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My attempt at crossposting didn't work. Blegh.



30th Day of the 30 Days of Books Memes: What am I reading now?

Currently, I've got Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Fall of Atlantis at work, and Terry Pratchett's The Color of Magic in the bathroom. The Fall of Atlantis is pretty standard MZB stock. Lots of secret black rites and incestuous goings-on. The Color of Magic travels between my bathroom & bedroom. TCoM is actually painful to read for me right now because I want to bust out laughing on every other page, and my throat hurts, and laughter starts me off on a coughing fit. I don't know why I've avoided Prachett's books all this time.

My favorite bit, so far involves a seedy wizard describing his traveling companion to an infamous pair of scoundrels: ..."Let's just say that if complete and utter chaos were lightning, then he'd be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armor and shouting 'All gods are bastards'...". This is my style of reading. My inner Coyote is pleased.

In honor of my new journaling home, I'm going to make good on my 'free Tarot reading' promise. On Sept. 12, 13 & 14 I will perform short (meaning 3 - 7 cards) readings for my fans and friends. Formulate a question & either post a comment here, on the crosspost to LJ, or PM it to me. Let me know if you want me to share your reading w/the world or if you'd like a private response.

I have the following decks to choose from:

The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot

Classic Rider-Waite - and I do mean Classic - I found one published in 1971 on e-Bay to replace the deck that mysteriously disappeared.

The Medicine Cards - more of an oracle, less of a fortune-telling thing

The Tarot of the Dead - since Samhain/Hallowe'en/Dia de los Muertos is right around the corner, I have to admit I'm kind of looking forward to getting to know this deck better.

The H. P. Lovecraft Tarot - I cannot be held responsible for anything these cards tell you. Io! Io! Cthulhu F'taghn!
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Day 29 – Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)

I bawled like a freaking baby during Dumbledore's funeral. I was also upset when Kay Scarpetta's intern got a smallpox-like virus in Unnatural Exposure. He did not deserve that in the least bit.

As far as satisfying deaths... Fornis' death at the hands of Occula in the Streels of Urtah, from Maia by Richard Adams.

The last question )
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Day 28 – First favorite book or series obsession

My first favorite books were Dr. Seuss. I could read Dr. Seuss over & over & over again. My parents couldn't afford to buy a lot of books when I was little, but I would check out every single Dr. Seuss book from the library about once a month & read them voraciously over the course of a week or so. There was also the Berenstein Bears, Richard Scarry - I loved the fact that his towns & machinery looked like real things, not just geometric shapes piled on top of each other in house-like forms; and the Serendipity books - those were a favorite of mine because they featured winged horses, unicorns, and freaking cute bunnies. When Jody went into the Army, I would get care packages from her - she started getting me Cicely Barker's Flower Fairy books - those were probably my first introduction to plants that did things other than decorate a garden or end up on my plate. I may actually have to recollect those.

Looking at some of the more recent books published by the Scarry estate, it's sad to see the minute details have been 'dumbed down'. I even had the 'Puzzletown' play set based on Richard Scarry's world. It had pressboard panel houses, cars, little plastic people (who were anthropomorphic animals - my favorite was an earthworm who drove a car that was a hollowed-out apple), and all could be set up on these green plastic grids in different formations. It had expansions - different parts of town could be added on. I used to combine Lincoln Logs & Legos, along with a wide assortment of little plastic animals & dinosaurs, into the towns. Fantastic stuff :)

The last 2 questions )
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Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

Ghost and Steve's friendship in Poppy Z. Brite's Lost Souls. It's beautiful.

Day 23 – Most annoying character ever

There have been so many, where I've just wanted to smack the pages. So many characters that have made me want to holler, "STFU already!" I can't remember any of them. I hate moony girls and toadies. I know a few people who loved Trashcan Man from SK's The Stand but he annoyed me, as did that guy who was released from prison shortly before dining on a fellow inmate's leg. Quit whining already. Hate whiners. Little Ease from Imajica was pretty fucking annoying, too, to the point where I'll only skim the pages featuring him whenever I re-read the book.

Day 24 – Best quote from a novel

Ok, so it's not from a novel, it's from a short story. But still...

“This is my country”, Coyote answered, with dignity, making a long, slow, sweeping gesture all around the vast horizon, “I made it. Every goddamned sagebush.”
- Ursula LeGuin, Buffalo Gals

Day 25 – Any five books from your “to be read” stack
American Gods - William Gibson
Naked Lunch
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Something by Charles de Lint
The Dome by Stephen King

Day 26 – OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending

Hideaway by Dean Koontz. This is the one that set me off on deus ex machina & a lifelong hatred for Dean Koontz. Spoiler ) WTF?

Day 27 – If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!

Priestesses of ancient Goddess cults. I'm a sucker for priestesses and Goddess cults.

The last 3 questions )
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Day 21 – Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

Hmmmm... what is the greatest love story ever written? A love that transcends life and death, a love that stretches across continents, across universes. A love that truly stands the test of time.

Of course, it's Pie and Gentle from Imajica. Taylor and Clem's comes in at a pretty close second.

Looking at my shelves, I don't have a lot of what could be considered 'romance' novels. Granted, there are relationships in my books, but many are fleeting and most are doomed. Some are strange - like Christine - a love story between a man and his possessed car. None of them really stick out, though. The characters in most of the books I read are destined to make history, not love.

The rest of the questions )
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Day 20 – Favorite kiss

There is only one notable kiss in all the books I've ever read. That which takes place between Buttercup and Wesley in William Goldman's The Princess Bride. It was infinitely better in words than in the movie.

The rest of the questions )
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Day 19 – Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)

I don't pay much attention to book covers. Le gasp, I know, some serious artwork goes into some of them, people spend a lot of time planning them, they play into the whole marketing of the book, etc. Obviously, ya gotta put something on a cover. 99% of the time, it could be completely blank & just have the title and author's name on it and it'd make as big an impression on me as those ones that wrap around from the front to the back & are done by someone moderately famous. I never cared much about album covers, either (yes, I am old enough to remember not only records, but the importance of album cover artwork) except for the Eagles' album with the eagle skull on it that scared me endlessly when I was a kid.

The ones I do enjoy are mostly on mass-market paperbacks, where the cover has a cut out that displays a small portion of the inner leaf, and when you open the cover, the bigger picture is usually vastly different than what's seen on the outside. Like the Flowers in the Attic books.



The inside cover of the second edition of Stephen King's Misery was a classic, too.



What I enjoy more than book covers are maps on the inner cover page. It's been a source of much frustration that libraries usually deface the maps to glue or otherwise fasten the book jacket to the inside of the books, thereby rendering half the map unreadable and unreachable. I like maps, especially ones of fantasy lands, places with no equivalent locations to earth. I'd love to have a map of the Imajica. I also like prehistoric maps, trying to figure out where modern landmarks are in comparison to where they might have been.

The rest of the questions )
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Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book

Spangle by Gary Jennings. It opens with a group of Union soldiers talking about the Civil War, at the end of the war. They are getting ready to go home, some to see if they still have homes remaining. They are tired, many are heartbroken, it is cold and drizzling rain. They share coffee, tobacco and experiences. They talk of going to 'see the elephant', a euphemism for combat. The next day, two of the soldiers who lived nearby enough one another to share the journey home are resting, and one looks up to literally see an elephant.

I like moments of absurdity and surrealism in books. Weird moments that pop up in daily life. What could be stranger than two American soldiers in the southeast seeing an elephant bathing in the rain under a bridge?

The rest of the questions )
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Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)

This is a toughie, too. All of the 'what is your favorite...' questions are tough. It's so hard for me to pick favorites. I love anthologies of short stories, especially dark fairy tales like the Snow White, Blood Red series edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, as well as the Year's Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy collections. I enjoy most of Stephen King's short story collections... and of course, H. P. Lovecraft.

Oh, wait... I do have two that top the list. Ursula K. LeGuin's Buffalo Gals & Other Animal Presences and 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories edited by Isaac Asimov. Coyote stalks all throughout Buffalo Gals, and the Short Short Stories are mostly hilarious - and usually less than 2 pages. My favorite is probably the one about the sign at the end of the universe. It says "˙dn puǝ sıɥʇ".

The rest of the questions )
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Erg, I fucking suck. I didn't get up today until 6 freaking thirty, it's almost 8 & Rob's still in bed. The dog is still in bed. Going back to a graveyard shift is too easy. My lower back is kiiiillllling me.


Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)

It is always so hard to pick just one.

Day 15 – Your “comfort” book

The Tao of Pooh is the book I turn to, time and again, whenever I feel battered and bruised. Pooh himself is very comforting - the bear of Very Little Brain.

Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry

I have become completely enchanted by Rumi.



The rest of the questions )
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I keep getting behind on this...

Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)

My absolute, all-time favorite childhood book is... The Velveteen Rabbit, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, Where the Wild Things Are and Quetico Wolf. I cannot choose between them. All of them sit on my bookshelf today, although they are not the same books from when I was a kid. Quetico Wolf was in my third grade classroom, & the rest were in the library.

It took me a Helluva long time and considerable effort to get ahold of Quetico. I had to find the publishing house & write to them to have them forward my request to the author's agent to locate a copy that was still available for sale via special order. Holy crap. At least they just charged me the cover price + shipping/handling. They could have been dicks & charged a finder's fee. It's simply illustrated with line drawings in blue, black and white, very stark. It's a big contrast against the lavish illustrations in The Girl Who Loved... & Wild Things. WtWTA is so lush and has so much depth, and TGWLWH just makes me want to get all the pictures tattooed on me, line drawings full of rich earthy colors. And the stories... oh, the words.

As far as the 'YA' section, there were a few books I read - all pure fantasy. Meredith Pierce's Firebringer series, Clare Bell's Ratha books and this other book about a boy who lived with otter-like creatures & fought some kind of wyrm. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of that book & can't find any references to it online anywhere. One of the best things about YA books was the vast array of sexual scenarios couched in these rich fantasy worlds. Cat sex, unicorn sex, otter sex, wyrm sex - but no one ever questioned it because hey, they were marked 'YA', not Playboy. No wonder I've got this thing for dogs & horses & bears oh my - all I ever watched as a kid was nature programs on PBS & got all my sex ed from unicorns & talking cats.

The rest of the questions )
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Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times

If I enjoy a book, I will re-read it, over and over and over again. Watership Down gets read about once a year, so that's about 28 times so far; Imajica about once every 2 years, so that's 12 times so far; Jonathon Livingston Seagull is on a 5-year cycle, along with Illusions, so that's 6 & 5 respectively. As far as entire series go, it would be Hitchhiker's Guide, Clan of the Cave Bear & the Immortals by Piers Anthony. There's also a lot of non-fic that I will re-read - namely books on Vodou & medicinal herbology. The Vodou books are read straight through, the herb books in chunks, drips and drabs.

The rest of the questions )
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Day 11 – A book that disappointed you

Clive Barker's Sacrament. I think it might have been better if Barker had just left out the more fantastic elements & written it as a dark romance. Steep & Rosa were kind of copy/pasted into the book, they didn't feel organic or part of the greater story. They seemed a little too much like Boris & Natasha, or some other evil villain duo. I didn't get to know the protagonist well enough to feel sympathetic towards him, or feel much of anything at all - I think I felt sorrier for his boyfriend having to deal w/his mood swings than I did for the main character when he got mauled by the bear.

It was just a meh experience - I struggled through it, hoping it would get better, but it never did. Clive Barker owes me about 4 days of my life back.

Speaking of which, Anne Rice owes me like, 3 weeks of my life back for Feast of All Saints. Oh my fucking Gods, but that book sucked. It was possibly the most boring thing I've read in my entire life, including algebra textbooks. I read it right after Cry to Heaven and had high expectations for it, but it was just a miserable read.


The rest of the questions )
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Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. It was my first cyberpunk book, and I wasn't too sure about all the high-tech babble in it. Up until that time, I'd been mostly a horror & fantasy reader. I stayed away from hard-core sci-fi because, honestly, Isaac Asimov bores me to tears. That and I can't do the math or understand anything beyond basic physics. The only above-basic physics thing I fully grasp is the slingshot maneuver (aka, the 'Wile E. Coyote on a Rocket' maneuver).

I read Snow Crash mainly because [livejournal.com profile] spyral_weaver73 suggested it to me. "How can you not like a book where the main character is named Hiro Protagonist?" I read it through the first time for the sheer humor - I mean, c'mon... Hiro Protagonist? A bad guy with the words 'Poor Impulse Control' branded on his forehead? Traffic surfing pizza delivery? Then I read it again for the virtual reality world surrounding the characters. The implications of that universe were staggering. They still are - and we're getting closer to living our lives purely online every day. Cloud computing is not a new concept, and I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to it or if it terrifies me. It's amazing to me that I've grasped more about the cloud idea through books like Snow Crash and Mona Lisa Overdrive than I got out of five years of school.

The rest of the questions )
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Day 09 – Best scene ever

That's a toughie. Ask me about my favorite scene from a movie, no problem (it's the opening to Goodfellas, in case anyone's wondering - which has my favorite opening line from a movie). I don't tend to separate out scenes from books. I let them flow together in a tapestry of words. I'm standing here looking at my books & cannot think of a single definitive 'scene' that stands out more than any other.

I must meditate on this.

The rest of the questions )
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Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once

This is a hard question for me to answer. No two people have exactly the same experiences in their lives, so how can I say that everyone 'should' read a certain book.

I can make a generalized exception in the case of religious texts. I'm not talking the Left Behind series, either. I'm talking about the Christian Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Satanic Bible (if you want to know about LaVeyan Satanism, anyway), etc. If you want to know what people honestly believe, if you want to know what your pastor is talking about in his sermons, if you want to know why people are knocking on your door at the buttcrack of dawn on a Saturday to tell you 'the good news', pick up one of the books. Read it. Read a few different versions of it, different translations. Don't fall into the habit of letting other people interpret these things for you - pick up the books, read them and make your own decisions about them. Decide what the words mean for you in your own life. Decide for yourself if it's valid or bullshit.

I don't know if it's because I'm Pagan, and Pagans seem to be interested in these things, but it seems like ever since a fateful day in 2001, religion is becoming more of a turning point in politics and global communication. It can either be a schism to tear the world apart, or we can start looking for the common ground and become united, if not in direct beliefs, but in experiences. You don't have to be Christian to be a decent, ethical person. You don't have to be an atheist to believe in the scientific method. You don't have to be Pagan to respect the planet you live on, and you don't have to be Mormon to understand the importance of community. Until people are willing to expand themselves beyond what they have had other people teaching them, no one will ever realize that.

The rest of the questions )
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Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise

I piss and moan about Deus ex Machina (for anyone who isn't sure, this means 'God from the machine'. It started in Greek dramas, when the hero was in a completely unsolvable situation. A chariot or some other machine would be brought out on stage and a God (or Gods) would sweep the hero out of harm's way. In modern literature, it can be as simple as an uninvolved person interrupting an evil mastermind to, uh, the flu. I'm going to continue to bitch about it because it's a cop-out, just not right now.

Another one that gets to me is when the book ends just like it begins. Stephen King, I'm looking in your direction. You seriously pissed me off. Not quite enough to stop reading your books, but damn. 20 years and you give me that crap? What the fuck, man? You're still writing books, so obviously your idea supply has not run completely dry. In a way, it's worse than 'it was all a dream', or someone seeing the future and then coming out of their trance to see nothing has changed and everything's a-ok again. Even an ending where the main character dies a noble death is better than what you did to your Constant Readers. Did our ill-fated hero truly deserve that?

The rest of the questions )
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Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time

I do believe I answered this on Day 4. In the past two days, it hasn't changed :)

The rest of the questions )
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Day 05 – A book or series you hate

Oh, these are easy. I hate Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard. Hate, hate hate it. I try to be open-minded, accepting and tolerant. I feel bad when I cannot be tolerant. I'm a Pagan, one of the most misunderstood and maligned alternative religions out there (mainly because it is so hard to define, and even Pagans call each other non-Pagans. I mean, c'mon people, wtf? Can we get a little unity here?). I even study Vodou, which makes many of the non-sacrificing and 'harm none' crowd shun me. I should be able to gracefully accept and tolerate those with beliefs radically different than my own. I should be able to accept their right to believe as they do. I fail miserably with Scientology. I think it's a Dangerous Cult. I think the followers of Scientology are Major Whack-Jobs.

I've read a couple versions of the Christian Bible. I've read a translated Koran, and a translation or two of the Torah. Read the Bhagavad'gita. I can't say I enjoyed most of them, but I found them interesting and enlightening. But I cannot, for the life of me, get more than a few chapters into Dianetics before I get disgusted with it and put it down. I keep thinking to myself, "I cannot believe that people actually believe this crap!" The other thing about it is that it's just poorly written. I can handle bad sci-fi, but not poorly written bad sci-fi. It seems to be written at the same level as a D&D manual.

"As far as a series that I hate, hands down it's The Belgariad by David Eddings," she said acidly. Venomously, she stated, "The characters are cookie-cutter fantasy role types." One day, Rob asked, "Will you just read them, so you can tell what I'm talking about?" She replied, cuttingly, "Sure, if they actually count as real books!"

It's like, ok ok, I fucking get it. The female lead is a bitch! Get over it! Fuck! Not every verb needs an adverb!

The rest of the questions )

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