Barbara's Random Thoughts

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

REAL title for HP #6

The real title of the sixth Harry Potter has been released, and it's not HP & the Pillar of Storge. And I'm glad.

From Publisher's Lunch again...

The rumor/hoax about the title of Harry Potter 6 took on a lot of momentum before being denied, and then the real title was indeed found on JK Rowling's web site. The book is called HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE. (The prince is neither Harry nor Voldemort.)

The CNN article is here.

Rowling's response to the "leaked" title:
A "rumors" section of the site had included a post from fans Monday that the new title would be "Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storge" but Rowling dismissed that idea on the site, saying, "I am trying very hard not to be offended that anyone thought this was possible."

Another posting in the rumor section said that the title would be "Harry Potter and the Toenail of Icklibogg" to which Rowling responded, "Well, if you believed the Storge one..."

Heh. Toenail of Icklibogg.

Thanks to Kristy, who texted me to ask if I'd heard about the title...and prompted me to read today's Publisher's Lunch.
| posted by Barbara | 8:59 PM |

Monday, June 28, 2004

Harry Potter

From today's Publisher's Lunch:

Harry Potter fan sites are vigorously debating whether a "hidden" posting on J.K. Rowling's site reveals the true name of book 6 or is just a red herring. The posting from the author, dated July 1, says, "The book is growing so fast, I could swear Filius has put an Engorgement Charm on it; an editor's nightmare! I promised myself not to exceed the length of Order of the Phoenix, but every day that passes makes that undertaking more difficult." It also proclaims, "The title of Book 6 is: Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storgé."

Read the article here, and info on why the leaked title might be a hoax here.

I hope it's a hoax. "Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storgé" sounds kinda dumb to me.
| posted by Barbara | 8:22 PM |

Thursday, June 24, 2004

I'm such an ass.

An email I just sent without carefully proofreading:

Hi Julie,

I'm filling out an ISBN request to ass the website for Environmental Ethics. Do you have a pub date for this?


Yes, folks--I said I'd like to ass the website. Ass?!? I think I meant to type "assign." Moments like these make me glad I have a sense of humor. And glad that I was emailing someone on my team, and not an author or a reviewer.
| posted by Barbara | 1:07 AM |

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Quote for the day

"I also believed, with Aldous Huxley, that it takes just as much work to write a bad book as a good one, and that whoever made the effort deserved, at least, a kind word--even if the kindest words one could muster were 'please learn to spell, punctuate, construct a sentence, think coherently, find some other way of making a living.'"
--Rayanna Simons, "Slush," in Editors on Editing
| posted by Barbara | 2:19 AM |


Here's a particularly entertaining review of Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven: "...sportswriter-turned-pop-religionist Albom has one more cute little lesson for us unenlightened masses to gobble up and gag on."
| posted by Barbara | 2:18 AM |

Friday, June 18, 2004


You who live in heaven
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth
Who are afraid of being left by those we love
And who get hardened by the hurt

Do you remember when You lived down here where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after You had flown away
Well I memorized every word You said

Still I'm so scared I'm holding my breath
While You're up there just playing hard to get

You who live in radiance
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that's not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then

Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep
And don't see the blood that's running in Your sweat

Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You're up there just playing hard to get?

And I know you bore our sorrows
And I know you feel our pain
And I know it would not hurt any less
Even if it could be explained

And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I have figured this somehow
All I really need to know

Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can't see what's ahead
And we can not get free of what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret

I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here
Where I'm lost enough to let myself be led
And so You've been here all along I guess
It's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get.

--Rich Mullins, "Hard to Get"

I first heard that song when I was in college and I loved how honest it was. Often when I ran across a song that resonated with me like that, I would think about maybe singing it at church the next time I was signed up for a solo. And I remember thinking that this particular song wasn't "appropriate" for church. How sad that is--somewhere I unconsciously absorbed the idea that public worship had to have all the questions answered, all the doubts assuaged, and be tied up in a nice shiny happy package. My public Sunday morning reality excluded doubt and sin and being less than a "perfect" Christian.

The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Oh, for an honest community of faith where we acknowledge that sin and pain and hurt are real, that people will disappoint us, and that sometimes we will even be disappointed in God. Doubt does not mean denial, and questions are a part of faith.
| posted by Barbara | 7:25 PM |

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Take a look at my new desktop here.

| posted by Barbara | 9:06 PM |

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


speak and spell
You're a Speak & Spell!! You nerd, you. Just
because you were disguised as a toy doesn't
mean you weren't educational, you sneaky

What childhood toy from the 80s are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
| posted by Barbara | 8:55 PM |

When memoir goes too far

I know very little about Kathryn Harrison, described in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as "the leading literary self-exposer in this tell-all age."

I did, however find the following quote very amusing:

"The reader response with Harrison no longer is: We're With You Through Your Traumas. It's more: Get on With Your Life and Keep Something Secret for a Change."
| posted by Barbara | 7:37 PM |


Anyone out there want a Gmail account? I just got three more invitations. Send bribes my way. If anyone's even reading this...
| posted by Barbara | 5:47 PM |

Monday, June 14, 2004

Bowling & Reading

That's pretty much what my weekend consisted of.

On Saturday, I went to a birthday party for a friend from work, where I spent most of the afternoon hanging out with a bunch of married couples. I was literally the only single person in attendance for the first half of the party. That was kind of interesting. After the afternoon of snacking & playing games, we headed to Palo Alto for bowling...with the lights out and the disco ball and blacklights on. Very fun.

I must say that I am proud of myself for going bowling and enjoying it. Usually, I hate bowling because I really, really suck at it. My scores were 44 and 67...look at how I improved! I did not, however, win the prize for lowest score of the evening. If there had been a prize for most entertaining bowling style, it would have certainly gone to Anne. More fun to watch than words can describe. =)

And as to the reading...

I finished reading Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, and I really enjoyed it. I was worried that it would be cartoonish, more of a spoof. It isn't. It's much more serious and really pretty good. There was a focus on art that I didn't expect, and I liked the way Maguire used the artist and the paintings in the tale to mirror the obvious themes of beauty and appearance. The theme of art and the Dutch setting reminded me--oddly enough--of Vreeland's Girl in Hyacinth Blue and Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring.

I also started reading Purple Hibiscus and I'm loving it. Powell's had a review of it a while back, and it caught my eye, so when I came across it at the library last week, I had to check it out. On Saturday, there were times when the conversation lagged, and I found myself thinking longingly of Purple Hibiscus and wishing I could be reading it at that moment.

It's narrated by a young girl whose father is an obsessively strict Catholic. He holds the family to impossibly high religious, academic, and personal standards. The father refuses to associate with "heathens"--a category which includes his father. The book reminds me a lot of Achebe's Things Fall Apart--it echoes a lot of the same themes, exploring the conflict between Christianity and the Igbo culture and traditions--but it's told from the opposite perspective. It's making me want to re-read Things Fall Apart. Though I don't agree with some of the undertones that suggest all religions are equally valid, this is an excellent book and offers a lot of material worth exploring.
| posted by Barbara | 11:40 PM |

Mildly disturbing

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of my high school graduation.

Not disturbing, but worthy of mention: yesterday was also my sister's 12th wedding anniversary.
| posted by Barbara | 11:18 PM |

Thursday, June 10, 2004

My week so far

We had a fire at work on Monday. No, really. The hillside next to my building caught fire. The hillside that's literally right next to the corner of the building where my desk is located. The power went out, the fire alarm went off, and we all got evacuated from the building and eventually sent home early. We even made the newspaper! Well, sort of:

The South County Fire Authority and the California Department of Forestry on Monday battled a half-acre grass fire in the Belmont Hills, at Davis Drive above Water Dog Lake and behind Ralston Intermediate School.

South County Fire Battalion Chief Dan Belville said the fire started at about 1:52 p.m. when wind caused two electrical lines to touch, resulting in a spark that ignited the vegetation below.

About 1,600 PG&E customers lost power. One business was threatened, but saved by fire crews.

One business = my work. We were threatened, but saved! Woo!

Also of note: I'm moving. Not far, and not till August, but I'll soon be packing up my belongings yet again. I went to look at a house in Palo Alto on Sunday with Julie F. from my small group at church. She's moving there in July, and they need one more person. I decided Tuesday night that I was gonna go for it, and the girls let me know yesterday that they want me to move in. I'm excited about the possibilities of what I can do with the $300/month I'll be saving on my rent! Though I'm a bit reluctant to give up the independence of living alone, I think it'll be good for me. And Julie and I have plans to decorate. This is gonna be fun!

What's not going to be so fun: moving all my stuff just 4 days after I get back from Wales. Heh.
| posted by Barbara | 8:33 PM |

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Fun with Left Behind

I came across a link to this article in a recent Publisher's Lunch email. The fifth author to be discussed is Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the Left Behind series. There are so many comments to make about this excerpt that I'm not sure where to start. But here we go:

Speaking at a seminar on Christian fiction, Jenkins struggled to explain the phenomenal success of the series.

Yeah, well, I struggle to understand the phenomenal success of the series.

"I like to think it's the great writing," he said, laughing.

I'm laughing, too. But probably for different reasons.

"It continues to astound us. Because it's so many millions, we're way past the point where we feel like we should take any human credit for it. I mean, I don't want to sound too mystical, but we feel like God is in this, and it's a message that we feel like he wants out there."

Ok, back the truck up there. Because the book has sold so many copies, God must approve of the message? Wha--? God's behind the success--and the message--of all best-sellers, eh? That makes perfect sense.

The most challenging thing about writing Christian fiction, he said, is balancing the desire for realism against the expectations of religious readers.
"I don't use foul language myself, but I hear it, and I think I could reproduce it, and it might be realistic," Jenkins said. "But you weigh that against a hundred stores that say, 'We're not carrying that because it's got this word in it,' it's just not worth it."
Then there's the problem of keeping the standard of quality that readers of the series have come to expect.

I can't imagine that it's difficult to maintain the standard of quality that the series has demonstrated so far. Mainly because "quality" is not the word that I would use in reference to the series.

"You try not to think about the fact that a certain number of millions of people are waiting for the book," he said. "The pressure is, I could write a mediocre book and my career could be over tomorrow. I could sell two or three million because people are waiting for it, and then they go, 'I thought this guy could write.'"

Or, you could write a mediocre book and sell tons of copies. Like you've been doing for the entire series so far.

Ok. That's the end of my literary snobbishness for the day.
| posted by Barbara | 7:52 PM |

Anna and Oprah--again


Ms. Winfrey's selection of "Anna Karenina" was notable in several ways, not least because she has not read the book.

Read the article here.

And then there's this, from the Literary Saloon. They quote a rather scary description of Anna Karenina from Oprah's site:

An extremely sexy and engrossing read, this book tells the tale of one of the most enthralling love affairs in the history of literature—it truly was the "Harlequin Romance" of its day.

Please excuse me while I go away and scream at the idea of comparing Anna to a Harlequin Romance.
| posted by Barbara | 7:12 PM |

Friday, June 04, 2004

It's a Good Morning

Soon after I got to work this morning, our Editor in Chief came around all the EA's cubicles and let us know that there were free leftover bagels outside the Executive Board Room, if we wanted some. Mmmmm, bagels.

Now that I've enjoyed a cranberry bagel with cream cheese, I'm settling into the morning with a nice cup of tea.

And...I will be seeing Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at 6:30 tonight. So, SO excited.
| posted by Barbara | 6:53 PM |

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Thoughts on church-hunting

There's a great post at Jeffrey Overstreet's blog about rating churches. Go read it, then come back here. Go on!

What's that? You're back? Ok. So that post was kind of a springboard for a lot of thoughts. Having written what's below, I feel like there's so much more to say that I didn't even touch on--about the balance between reaching people and at the same time not losing track of the church's purpose of worshipping and serving God. But anyway, that's a digression for a later date. Here we go.

I wholeheartedly agreed with what Overstreet had to say. But I found myself thinking, "But what about when you have to evaluate a church?" It really got me thinking about the process of finding a church. Because when you're looking for a church, you have to evaluate; you have to come up with some sort of selection criteria--whether consciously or not.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I'm not the church-hopping type. I've always been pretty committed to my home church. If there was something I felt was lacking, I got involved and tried to make things better, rather than packing it in and moving on to another church.

I've gone to a total of four churches in my whole life. Del Mar Baptist Church: the one I was born into. Sedge Fen Baptist Church: my family changed churches because we moved from California to England. Green Hills Baptist Church: we changed churches because we moved from England to California. And now, Peninsula Bible Church: because I moved to the Bay area.

Church-hunting didn't sit well with me when I first moved here. For one, I didn't like going alone to new places where I knew no-one. But the other thing that bugged me was that I was church-shopping and not really worshipping. I would enter every worship service or Bible study with a critical eye; looking for what I did and didn't like: were the people friendly, did I like the style of worship, how good was the sermon, and so on. I felt like an outsider on most of these church visits--in part, because I was new--but also because I felt like I was standing back to evaluate and, yes, to "rate."

I don't know if you can look for a church and escape this, but it bothered me. Maybe it's my own personality--I often fight against being too critical. But looking back, I wonder if one of the reasons I settled on PBC was that I was tired of being an outsider and a critic and I wanted to be a worshipper again.

I have loved the teaching at PBC. Pretty much every pastor I've heard speak has been excellent--challenging me as they offer Biblical truth. YAF is a great group of people, and I appreciate that PBC has a ministry focused on people in my own demographic--something I felt I was really lacking at Green Hills. At first I wasn't too enthralled with the worship at PBC, and that's actually one of the things that kept me visiting other churches when I first moved here. But the teaching brought me back and the fellowship got me to stay.

When I moved here, I needed to find a church that was right for me--a church that fit my church background, my stage in life, the type of teaching I connect with, the style of worship that was comfortable for me.

Yes, the point of going to church should never be self-serving or me-oriented. That's not what the church is about--it is about God and His pleasure--not our own comfort or preference. But I can't help but think that some kind of honest evaluation of various churches is necessary--especially by those who are genuinely looking for a place to worship and learn and fellowship.

However, I agree with Overstreet--I should never evaluate a church based on the quality of its snacks. Cute single Christian guys, perhaps...but snacks, no.
| posted by Barbara | 9:12 PM |

Email exchange

This morning, I got a call from our production manager, who was wondering where a certain preface was. I hadn’t seen it, so I emailed the authors to see if they’d sent it to our assistant editor, who’s on vacation this week.

Thus ensued the following exchange, edited to protect the not-so-innocent:

From author to me:
We didn't do a preface! Simply forgot, I guess.

How's about I take a shot at it today and tomorrow - send you a draft asap, and we aim to have it done by Monday?

From me, to production manager, with a forward of the above email:
Well, whaddaya know? They forgot.

From production manager to me:
Preface? Oh, golly. Well, maybe there should be a preface. How about a preface?

Gee, OK.

Have I mentioned how much I love the people I work with?
| posted by Barbara | 9:01 PM |

The Song Reader by Lisa Tucker

I was initially very intrigued by the concept behind this book: the idea that you could figure out people's problems by examining the song lyrics that run through their heads. It ends up being more than just that idea--there's more of a story here than I expected. And in the end, I really enjoyed the story Tucker built around the concept that drew me in.

The characters were well developed--especially the teenage narrator, Leeann, and her older sister Mary Beth (the "song reader"). The story of their family drew me in and kept me reading. It did feel like a first novel in places--there were times I felt the imagery or situations were a little too obvious. But overall, it was a quick, good read. Kristy--I think you'd really like this one.

And a side note: I'm trying to be better about blogging on what I'm reading. Maybe at some point I'll double back and write about Girl in Hyacinth Blue. I definitely recommend it.
| posted by Barbara | 1:42 AM |

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Oprah strikes again

I can't believe I'm blogging about Oprah's Book Club. Apparently Anna Karenina is the latest pick. I must say I'm pleased to see she's selected the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation. When I studied Tolstoy at Chapman, this was the translation we used. My professor said it was the first time he'd taught Anna Karenina--he'd been reluctant to do so because he hadn't found a decent translation until this one was released. Of course, the skeptic in me wonders whether Oprah's Book Club selected this translation simply because it's the most recent.

Here's what makes me laugh, though. The cover of the book--thanks to Oprah's nice thick self-promoting book club wrap--looks to me like it's been censored. When I was reading this particular translation of Anna for my Tolstoy class (before Oprah slapped her logo on it), people were always commenting on the cover. It's actually a woman's bare knees, but at first glance, it appears to be either breasts or buttocks. This confusion in the image is no doubt intentional. But the placement of this new purple wrap promoting the book club is just so handy. Covers that flesh right up so no-one has to give it a second glance. Way to go, Oprah's Book Club.

If you check out Oprah's site, you can see the "uncensored" version of the cover image.
| posted by Barbara | 1:12 AM |