Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thoughts in brief

Blogging continues to fall to the bottom of the priority list these days, and for that I apologize. I have been thinking about you, though, and my mental list of Things to Blog is ever-growing. In the interest of actually hoping to get any of them to the "publish" stage, I'm foregoing the exposition and posting some thumbnails instead.

Here, then, is a run-down of what's capturing my attention lately:

1. Paul McCartney's upcoming album, Memory Almost Full: If early press is reliable, this album promises to be one of the highlights of McCartney's career. (I speculated in an earlier post that this might be the case, as there tends to be an inverse relationship between calm happiness in Paul's personal life and the quality of the albums he produces.) I simply can't wait to hear it. You can view the video for "Dance Tonight," the album's opening track, here and the Electronic Press Kit for the album here. Oh my, oh my, oh my.

2. Tuesday, June 5: This is a red-letter day because of the release of (see above) Memory Almost Full. It will be McCartney's first release available on iTunes (and is currently available for preorder), and it will be his first release on Starbucks' Hear Music label. Starbucks will be hosting "a global listening event" on June 5, in which they will play nothing but Memory Almost Full in their stores all day. XM satellite radio is getting in on the action as well, not only on their Hear Music channel (75), which will be airing special Macca programming on release week, but also by dedicating channel 120 exclusively to McCartney (with a special emphasis on Memory Almost Full) all day on June 5. If, like me, you have XM radio in your car, and if, like me, you have it programmed to notify you anytime Paul McCartney is playing on any channel, then you will have noticed today that your satellite receiver pinged every two or three minutes as every other channel on the dial advertised the upcoming June 5 radio event. It is, indeed, A Happening. And yes, I am taking the day off from work. Anyone want to meet for a cappuccino?

3. Good reading on parenting: A thoughtful reader pointed me toward this Op/Ed piece in the LA Times, written by Ralph James Savarese, whose new book Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism & Adoption is getting great early reviews. I wanted to read the book anyway; this article makes me want to read it soon.

4. Reality TV: I've outed myself on the reality tv thing before, so that in itself is not news. But, I have to say, last week was a one-two punch, as first Joey Fatone lost to Apolo Anton Ohno on Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday, and then Blake Lewis fell to Jordin Sparks on Wednesday's American Idol. Honestly, it took everything I had to muster up the courage to tune into the new season of So You Think You Can Dance on Thursday.

5. Good reading on writing: I have had this post on writing from Kristen at From Here to There and Back saved in my Bloglines account since she posted it two weeks ago. In it, she talks about her journey as a writer and her attempts to walk away from writing, which always result in her return to it. It speaks to me, I'm sure, because I am still mostly on hiatus from blogging and, it seems, mostly on hiatus from writing. I keep returning to her post to read a single line - a line that serves as some sort of homing device for me. "I come back," she writes, "because when I write, I am alive."

6. Eating my words: And while I'm writing about writing, I may as well 'fess up to this. Remember last fall when I angsted long and loud about teaching writing to first-year college students? Remember how I vowed that I would never do it again? Well, teaching must be a little like childbirth, because somehow no matter how painful the experience, it tends to have a way to make you want to seek it out again. I'm signed on for Round 2 this fall.

7. Beach weather: Summer has arrived early in our little neck of the woods, and Bud and I have been taking full advantage of it. I've got to say - after a long, cold winter, it really feels like coming home.

8. Harry Potter: I'm re-reading the series in anticipation of the July release of Book 7. I've been pacing myself so that I wouldn't finish too early, but now I've got to kick it into high gear, since it's nearly June and I'm only a few chapters into Book 3. Okay - anyone willing to make a prediction on the record here? Severus Snape: Friend or Foe? (Please support your argument.)


Phoebe Gleeson said...

Well, I say friend. But you haven't read far enough to see why that's quite a loaded question. So no supports from me for fear of spoiling it fer ya.

Drama Mama said...

Delighted to see a post from you, and hope you are doing well!

Advertising works! Our Starbucks has an ad for Memory Almost Full and I got excited and made a mental note to buy new CD.
Then I remembered that it is MOM NOS who is the Palmer Cartney fan; I am but a mere Beatles aficionado. All of your posts have made their way into my subconscious, apparently.
Made mental note to buy it anyway.

MOM-NOS said...

No, no, Phoebe - I've read the whole series. I'm just refreshing my memory in anticipation of the final installment. What's your theory?

bubandpie said...

Friend. (Ah, Mom-NOS, how I've been missing you!)

It comes down to the fact that both Voldemort and Dumbledore trusted Snape implicitly. One of them was wrong - and it's not Dumbledore. He may be dead (he IS dead, though he may have some kind of Obi-Wan Kenobi post-death-mentorship role to fulfill) - but he's not a fool.

Also, although Snape always has disliked Harry, his parting words book 6 are solid advice on how to defeat Voldemort: occlumency, not Unforgivable Curses. The only thing that even disguises his words is the contemptuous tone in which they are delivered, but that is consistent with what we've always known about Snape - he may be loyal to Dumbledore, but he can't stand Harry.

Dumbledore made it abundantly clear to Harry that he was ready to die - willing to be killed if necessary. Dumbledore did not see himself as pivotal to the defeat of Voldemort, but he did see Harry as pivotal - and, I suspect, he also saw Snape's cover in the same light.

The "hatred" in Snape's eyes as he killed Dumbledore was self-hatred, at carrying out what he had to do. Indeed, his behaviour afterwards seems to be that of a rigidly self-controlled man who is being devoured by grief and self-hatred.

The pieces are now in place for Voldemort's downfall: Snape will betray him, Wormtail will (Gollum-like) contribute in some way to his downfall, and Harry will carry out his destiny.

There. A five-paragraph essay for you. Did you see the ticker over at my place? You can download it from Mugglenet (?) and it counts down the days, hours, and seconds until book 7 is released.

kristina said...

Music and books and walks with one's boy: Some of the best things of all, no?

Steve said...

ok, i have never read one word of Harry Potter, so I guess that puts me in the "minority", but I've seen every American Idol so that puts me in the "majority" - where do I really fit? Who knows... anyways, you really like Blake better than Jordan? Please do explain.. :)

mcewen said...

Yes,my knowledge of Harry Potter, is merely rusty and could do with a good brush up.

Teal said...

I vote for Snape being friend, not foe. While he certainly isn't friendly, I believe that in the end, in spite of all of the negatives one can accuse him of, he will not be a foe. Why? First, I agree with bubandpie that Dumbledore believed Snape to be good, and that's good enough for me. Second, however, is J.K. Rowling's habit of borrowing names and details from real history. Severus was a Roman emperor who, while perhaps tough to take, ultimately did very good things for the welfare of the empire. We shall see...

California Girl said...

The official video for "Dance Tonight" is out on YouTube!

Fun! (And I love the mandolin!)

melody said...

Two of my sons by gift of adoption live on the spectrum, I also look forward to reading "Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism & Adoption". I just have to remember to purchase it.

As for HP, bubandpie stated my thinking better than I. But I could let my 12 yo explain his theory, but then your head would hurt like forever. My household is waiting impatiently for #7.

Anonymous said...

Snape = friend. I believe that Dumbledore's death was planned by Dumbledore himself. I predict that Snape will finally show his true colors in this last book. I hope so anyway. I cannot wait to get my hands on that book!

P.S. I love the Beatles and PM by association, very cool about Starbucks and his new album.

karen in CA

Daisy said...

Severus Snape, Friend or Foe? Answers must be insightful, complete, and supported with meaningful and relevant examples from the text.
I can see the scoring rubric now.
Meanwhile, I'm up to The Goblet of Fire -- the only one in the series that I don't own in print. I need to make a quick trip to the bookstore.

mumkeepingsane said...

Snape's a good guy. It's been pretty obvious (to me) all along. I have a bet with my husband and I'm confident I'm going to win.

We are eagerly anticipating the book's release.

gretchen said...

Man- I love you people. I've got goosebumps just reading about reading HP7. I have no theory- just love to hate Snape.

One of the student workers in my office is taking an English class next fall- Romanticism and Harry Potter or something like that. Come to think of it, I *can* take classes for free... said...

so good to 'see' you!

i am only just beginning Harry Potter as fluffy and i will be sloooooooowly going through the whole series. we're only at chapter 3 of book 1, so, no theories and no clue what you're all talking about!

yay to warm weather and having fun in it with bud!

and, i had the same thoughts in starbucks as drama mama when i saw the Memory Almost Full signs. i thought of you and heard e-sighing...

Jane Plane said...


I mostly agree with bubandpie's analysis, but I would add that one thing that makes Harry human instead of some kind of god-man is that he has consistently underestimated and misread Snape. So the "hatred" in Snape's eyes might not be hatred at all, self- or otherwise, but simply pain. I assumed Dumbledore extracted from Snape a similar promise to the one he demanded of Harry: When the time came, Snape must act as he promised he would, and finish Dumbledore in order to save Draco from having done it.

I am a vintage Beatles fan, and have never enjoyed post-Beatles work nearly as much, but I think the listening day idea is very cool.

And I, too, am looking forward to another season of So You Think You Can Dance? Dumb title, but great show.

Sam I Am said...

Have missed you, but I too understand, and blogging for me has had to take a backseat lately. Anxious to hear Paul's album too!!!!

lizziehoop said...

Snape is definitely a friend but even he is not sure where his loyalities lay. He was trusted by both Dumbledore and 'he who should not be named' and has always done his part to keep Harry safe while still loathing him and setting him up at every possible opportunity. He killed Dumbledore because he was asked/destine to do so and would kill Harry in a heartbeat if he could get away with it but ultimately I hope Snape is going to give his life to save Harry's.

The last book is going to be the highlight of my summer!

a mommy said...

Snape is friend. I don't know that "friend" is the best word for that, but you can tick me up on Budanpie's list of fans -- couldn't have said it better myself. Voldemort misjudges people, Dumbledore does not. I think that Dumbledore's belief in Snape will be rewarded because it is that belief that saved Snape. I don't think he's capable as a character of betraying that - killing Dumbledore is not indicative of a betrayal.

Mamaroo said...

I have to say that I don't know what to do with myself knowing that I won't be sitting down with a bowl of ice cream to watch American Idol tonight.

I have not gotten into the Harry Potter books, but maybe I will make the attempt this summer.

Glad to hear that you and Bud are enjoying the warm beach weather. We have been trying to do the same here.

Kim Stag said...

Snape - FRIEND. I think he killed D to KEEP an unbreakable vow he had taken long before he took the vow with Malfoys Mom. Can't wait for the book!!

Erin said...

I'm with the Snape=Friend folks. Bubandpie gives the reasons.

bubandpie said...

Jane Plane - "he has consistently underestimated and misread Snape." So true! Sigh. I love Snape - and I've never understood why Harry has so little interest in Occlumency, which seems like one of the coolest powers (and most useful).

MOM-NOS said...

Much as I'd like to prompt a rousing debate, I have to agree with the rest of you. I think Snape is a friend as well, for all the reasons you've mentioned. (Will no one argue the other side?)

Bubandpie, as for Dumbledore being dead, I have a series of thoughts bubbling in my head that have not yet congealed into a plotline, but they involve two basic points:

1. Dumbledore's beloved and trusted pet (and sometimes messenger?), Fawkes, is a Phoenix, who rises from the ashes on a regular basis, and

2. Harry and Voldemort both have wands made with a single feather from the same Phoenix.

Steve, without question Jordin is the better singer, but no matter how much Simon insists that Idol is a "singing competition", I have to disagree with him. (If it were merely a singing competition, no one would have stood a chance against Melinda.) It's a competition that involves singing, of course, but really it is an idol competition - a celebrity competition - a performance competition. And (in my humble opinion) Blake is far and away the better performer.

Both Jordin and Blake had EP's available on iTunes the following day, which seem to be selling equally well. I downloaded Blake's (which is a lot of fun), but haven't heard Jordin's. As much as I enjoyed her performances on the show, none of them were things I'd want to hear again and again. Not so with Blake's Bon Jovi cover. Or his Tim McGraw cover.

pickel said...

I WISH I had time to reread Harry Potter. I did that when each of the previous books came out.

bubandpie said...

Mom-NOS: I can see Harry dying and then rising like a phoenix (in book 7) better than Dumbledore, mainly because Dumbledore's death seems so necessary in order for the Voldemort/Harry showdown to take place. The phoenix has saved Harry once and may somehow do so again.

It seems to me that the series has insisted upon the necessity of death all the way through: when Dumbledore destroyed the Philosopher's Stone, it was with the knowledge that Nicholas Flamel woudl die - a kind of acceptance of that necessity. When Sirius died, his death seemed very un-deathlike, but again the books have insisted that death is real. Dumbledore is an old man who has lived his life and played his part, which was to prepare Harry for what he needs to do in book 7 - I can't see him returning now. Harry, though, is still a boy - perhaps he will need to use those phoenix-like powers.

painted maypole said...

I am also in the Snape as Friend camp, and completely with you on the Pheonix theory. I have thought the same thing. He even talks (in book six I believe, I have yet to start my refresher reread of the series, better get started, eh?) about how people are afraid of death, but they don't need to be, and that it's not truly the end. I am sure we have not seen the end of Dumbledore and his influence in Harry's life, but just what form that will take I do not know. And Bub and Pie put it beautifully that if Dumbledore trusts Snape, well, Dumbledore can't be wrong. I think Dumbledore knows Snape better than Snape knows himself, and that there is redemption for Snape and the things he has struggled with all his life.

Kim S. said...

Snape. Friend. My theory? Well, you DID ask! When Dumbledore begged him "SNAPE" just before Snape said the killing curse I believe he was begging him TO kill him to honor an unbreakable oath they had taken before Snape took the oath with Malfoy's Mom. Snape and Dumbledore's oath was that Snape would do anything to protect Harry, even if that meant killing Dumbledore. Can't wait for the next book. HOURS of ignoring the girls await. Making note to self, "leave out plenty of GFCF kibble and bottles of water so the girls eat while I'm reading."