Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, August 31, 2007

There's always a Buffalo angle. Glenn Gould's secret lover was Cornelia Foss, the wife of Lukas Foss, who was the conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic at the time. Gould is such a classic Canadian-- I can't imagine an American classical musician being a national obsession 25 years after his death. Maybe it's time to see "Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould" again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Senator Larry Craig says he isn't gay, and I'd have to say that he is probably right. "Lame, stupid things aren't gay. Only cool, excellent things are gay." Poor Senator Craig is merely another creepy Republican, no doubt filled with horror and self-loathing. His own self-hatred saves the rest of us-- and particularly actual gay people-- the effort.

I used to wonder about the Log Cabin Republicans. What could they be thinking, being gay and members of a political party that viewed them with loathing? It is tempting to joke about it, but I can't bring myself to do it. I'm exhausted by the Republican Party's apparent ability to exist with its own contradictions. They are the party of fiscal ruin and invasive, intrusive privacy policy. They are religious zealots who lead lives that utterly contradict the moral rules they insist that the rest of the world must abide by. If you told me that in Republican families abortion is mandatory I'd shrug and say, "Well, sure." I'm hard pressed to think of a single thing that Republicans say they stand for that isn't belied by their actual policies. Maybe Rudy Giuliani is the perfect guy for this bunch: he dresses in drag, his family hates him, he lived with a gay couple when his wife threw him out because of his serial adulteries. He seems to have the base just about locked up.

Ironically, it is possible that Senator Craig may live in one of the few places where he might get away with this denial. Slate's Bruce Reed is far more familiar with Idaho politics than I ever want to be, and recalls that back in 1982 Craig called a press conference to deny involvement in the House page sex scandal. There are 535 elected officials on Capital Hill-- most of them know better to call attention to themselves by denying stuff.* "Idaho is the Don't-Show-Me State". Voters have been content to know that Craig is Republican; anything else would be too much information. If you want to know why we chose to live in our own private Idaho, this case seems like a pretty good reason," Reed says, and that makes a certain kind of sense. Frankly, I hope he hangs on-- even if he isn't gay, he apparently is cool with same sex relations, and the Senate could use a few more people who feel that way.

*The paradigm, I'd always thought, was Virginia's Senator William Scott, who called a press conference to deny that he was the stupidest man on the Hill. Senator Craig has outdone Scott for dumb. If Larry Craig denied having feathers at this point, I think we could justifiably assume he is a pillow.

CLA's adventures can be followed on Jonesing. EGA advises that she'll be keeping a paper journal for the time being.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

That's my Uncle Chet Carlin on the front page of the Arts & Leisure, in a pretty good article about the sacrifices some actors make to pursue their art.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

  • To the Happy Valley yesterday, to get CLA set up at New York's Public Honors College. She is tripled, which is vexing her, and she is living in Jones Hall, which is a source of cognitive dissonance for me. In my time there Jones was the sole all-men's dormitory, and enjoyed the sort of reputation you might think would come from that distinction. It's all about location now: Jones residents have less of Geneseo's famous hill to climb, and are right behind the library.
  • .I expect it will be an easier transition for CLA than it was for us-- we spent far to much time fussing around. Setting up the room, mercifully, was not something we could get too involved in; with three people in such close quarters there are a number of decisions to make, and I was able to persuade A that we should absent ourselves. That still left the trip to Sundance for books, and setting up a checking account, and lunch, and a last minute trip to Wal-Mart for some last minute stuff. It all seemed calculated to prolong the process, although whether this was a scheme by A or CLA I couldn't venture to say.

    It was roaring hot, and there is a fair amount of construction still going on, but the campus looked beautiful, and the whole town was set up to welcome the incoming class. There were balloons on the parking meters; the bank had sandwiches and granola bars to tide over the queued students; Sundance had a big cooler full of bottles of ice water. Much has changed, but the change that I found the most interesting was Sundance. In my time it was owned by a hippie named Barry, and run by his hippie posse. They had a storefront on Main Street, papered with tattered Grateful Dead posters, and full of Carlos Castaneda books and tarot cards. There was also a school-run bookstore in the student union, and about half the faculty ran their text orders through it. It now appears that Barry has taken over the whole show, and even runs the store in the union. They've turned the old Gentleman Jims- formerly a bar with a cover charge that I therefore never went to-- into a textbook annex, and the whole process was simple and streamlined. It's still full of Dead posters, but they are framed, and it is still staffed by hippies, or at least dudes with beards and attitudes. It is still a model of capitalist efficiency. I'd be interested in the backstory. Did Barry just squeeze the school out? Did the school go to him and ask him to take over the operation? Is Barry still involved, or is he sitting in a hot tub outside his yurt by Conesus Lake, contemplating the good life?

    It was not a kindness to prolong our departure, but we finally left. We have packed CLA off many times, but this time it felt more final. Camp, or a summer with the Student Conservation Association is a different thing.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    I see him too seldom these days, but whenever WBFO's Program Director Dave Benders and I get together we swap titles of books that we've read recently that we wish we'd written. I imagine everyone has a list of "They stole my idea" titles; some of the books that neither Dave nor I got around to writing quick enough include Sarah Vowell's "Radio On", "Sonata for Jukebox" and Ashley Kahn's "The House That Trane Built:The Story of Impulse Records". I actually haven't read the last one yet, but I am a big admirer of Kahn's earlier two books on the making of "Kind of Blue" and "A Love Supreme", and I've thought for years that an overlooked way to talk about the history of American music would be to explore the history of the record labels that distributed so much of it. It's been done, of course-- search for "Motown" on amazon and you get 5,503 hits-- but Kahn is almost certainly after a lot of the same answers I'd like to learn about. I mention it because I ran across an interview with him, talking about the book, in which he makes an observation that is similar to something EGA and I chatted about a bit as we traversed the Midwest last Friday. Talking about the experience of an Impulse! album Kahn observes: "Impulse predicted where album packaging was going in general, and understood that the album listening experience was more than just putting vinyl on the turntable -- it also included sitting down with the cover to read the liner notes and look at the photographs.... One of the first photographs in the book is of David Crosby of the Byrds and his brother Ethan sitting on the couch in photographer Jim Marshall's apartment in San Francisco in 1965 -- just as the underground rock scene is beginning -- and the two of them are pictured listening to the music while Coltrane's Ballads album is open on his lap. That photo says one thousand words -- it expresses what our listening experience with Impulse was."

    A CD booklet doesn't reproduce that, and mp3s have eradicated the artifact from the experience of music altogether. I feel that loss acutely. I have vivid recollections of my first experience with a lot of the vinyl I own. I can tell you about how I first listened to Patti Smith's "Easter", for example, or where and how I listened to my first Thelonious Monk side. (It was a "Best of" collection that started off with "Mysterioso", with liner notes that compared Monk to, I think, Leonard Cohen. My pal Lee had given it to me, and I was in my dorm room in Livingston Hall the Tuesday before Thanksgiving my sophomore year...) Then there were all the children's albums, "Cinderella" and the like, with slick paged, elaborately illustrated stories in the gatefold that you lay on the floor and gazed at as the record played.

    The CD, which was 25 years old last Friday changed that forever, and it seems a pity to me. In a funny way the artifact focused your attention on the music, and prevented it from becoming wallpaper. That's how music should be listened to, attentively, and although my iPod shuts out other sound, the experience of recorded music in the 21st Century is more often than not a component of the multitasking that consumes our daily lives.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Michigan is talking about pushing its primary back to January 15, which would mean that New Hampshire would hold its on January 8-- and the Iowa caucus would be pushed back to the first week of January, or the last week in December.

    The conventional wisdom is that the effect of this all would be to place greater emphasis on raising early money, although it is hard to see this as a change in emphasis. It seems to me that an alternate scenario might be to de-emphasize Iowa and New Hampshire. Neither is demographically very representative of the rest of the country, and Iowa's significance in particular is a comparatively recent event. Jimmy Carter got a bounce out of Iowa, and after that people started paying attention, but if they hold their caucuses in the week between Christmas and New Years I think turnout will drop like a stone.

    On some level I like the idea of the smaller states running their delegate selection process up front, but realistically the notion that the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire are "politics on the retail level" stopped being true some time ago, and now even the Iowa straw poll is a big media deal. It would be pleasing if Iowa and New Hampshire rolled themselves into irrelevance.

    Monday, August 20, 2007

    To Bloomington over the weekend, to help EGA set up housekeeping. She has always prided herself on her independence, and a component of her independence has always been a strong sense of thrift. All summer she had diligently worked garage sales, Buffalo Freenet, and other, similar resources to accumulate kitchen supplies and whatnot, and in the end she had enough worldly goods to fill a Chevy Express van and the back of the Volvo. We caravaned across the Midwest(there seems to be more Ohio than is absolutely necessary)and arrived late Friday. Saturday morning, after an appalling breakfast (the place was called the Golden Coral-- I'm thinking that a good rule of thumb is probably that it is never a good idea to eat or buy clothing anywhere that is named for an animal storage facility) we went bed shopping, then met the realtor at the apartment. The rest of the day was spent unloading, unpacking, assembling flatpack bookshelves and bureaus, and making forays over to Target as various needs became apparent. Target was a trip, full of parents with their kids, sweeping the shelves into their carts. Many, if not most of the parents were togged out in IU garb-- baseball caps, golf shirts, flip-flops, you name it-- and it was clear that they were themselves Indiana alum, thrilled to have their offspring attending the Athens of the Hoosier State. (I was disguised as one of them, having had the foresight to purchase a baseball cap on our earlier visit.)

    We got her squared away with remarkable efficiency, working steadily through the day, and although living room seating is an unfilled need as yet the place seems well-appointed and comfortable. All summer EGA had stressed over the notion her accumulation of worldly goods might make her appear frivolous, a very typical EGA thing to worry about. Her thrift means that she is not inclined to accumulate things anyway, and what little she knew of the roommate suggested that she is a Serious Person who probably scorns materiality. Her field is Medieval Philosophy, and while EGA was at IKEA, the roommate was studying Greek. They met when the two of them were visiting the department over the Spring, and the roommate proposed that they find a place if they both decided to attend. That sort of take-charge approach impressed EGA, who capably handled the actual finding an apartment phase that followed, but would have felt awkward taking charge of the inter-personal interaction. "I suppose we should talk about what qualities we're looking for in a roommate," EGA said at the time. "What would be a dealbreaker?"*

    [* Guarantee: Dialogue= hearsay. No accuracy is implied.]

    "Someone who I couldn't take seriously as a scholar," she replied. I don't think this is something that EGA might have come up with --she was looking for something more along the lines of, "Someone who leaves dishes in the sink," but she reckoned that her scholarship would probably withstand scrutiny. In any event, it turns out that the roommate exceeds even EGA in the spartan lifestyle contest: she arrived late that night with her mother and two sisters, a KitchenAid mixer, and a pallet to sleep on, like Benton Fraser. The family, who all seemed very high-energy, and quite pleasant, got up early the next morning and immediately set about rearranging the kitchen, I guess to set the mixer off to its best advantage. They were every bit as busy and diligent about their work as we had been the preceding day, and I have to figure that two such similar people, from such similar families, will get along pretty well, once EGA overcomes the shame of sleeping on a mattress, like some kind of princess or something. CLA departs at the end of this week.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Rest in peace, Scooter. Baseball will always sound like Phil Rizzuto to me. Per King Kaufman, Vic Raschi once said his best pitch was any one the batter hit Rizzuto's way, a story I particularly like because during the "The Bronx is Burning" days I was a student in Geneseo, where Raschi owned a liquor store. That's the only World Series ring I've ever seen on someone's hand, and it was a jolt the first time I caught a glimpse of it and realized who the guy that was ringing me up was.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    One of the last things I anticipated when we moved from Brooklyn to Buffalo was the lack of urban anonymity that characterizes life in the Queen City of the Lakes. In our last Brooklyn apartment, where we lived for nearly a year, I saw our downstairs neighbor exactly once, from the back. I liked it that way, and I am sure he did too. It was a walk-up, but we'd have pretended that we didn't see each other if there'd been an elevator, too. It has been 17 years, but I'm still a little surprised at the degree of interaction that folks at this end of the state reckon is appropriate. I've come to appreciate it, I guess-- it is mostly friendly, and well-intentioned. Maybe it is a little pathological to buy a newspaper from the same person every day for years and not know his name, but there are still moments when I'm taken aback by friendly and well-intentioned. I've managed to reach the point where I say "good morning", or waive when we drive by a neighbor. I'm a friendly guy, but getting a phone call about the color we are painting our house still comes as something of a surprise. Dylan, of course, retreated to Big Pink after his motorcycle accident. In "Chronicles" Dylan describes how he moved to Woodstock because he was seeking privacy-- I guess that's too much to expect when you live in a pink house. The funny thing is that the color isn't really the issue-- when we painted the last time we went with a slightly lighter version of the staid blue the house had been when we moved in, and what we heard was, "Are you really going to go with that?". It's not the color, it's the need to comment, and although I suppose the comments are made in a kindly spirit, you know what? We like the color, we think it'll look cheerful, and it is solidly in the tradition of old Victorians like ours. I actually would have liked something a little closer to Big Pink, but A. dialed it back a little. When it's done, I'll post a picture. I can't wait to see it in the snow.

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    The Iowa straw poll is one of those silly season events that doesn't really mean much, unless it does. It seems to me that Mike Huckabee may well come away from Ames with an upgrade to dark horse status. McCain is bound to hang on for a while, running an Al Sharpton style campaign with no money. It is inevitable that Rudy will blow up, just a matter of time. Thompson is going to have to fish or cut bait pretty soon-- I see Huckabee's appeal as similar, and he has got a little mo' now. Mitt is looking like the guy the old school Republicans are going to back,, and he has the dough at this point, but old school support and dough don't always get it done with the Republican Party. Ask John Connally. Or Phil Gramm. It is possible that Romney's LDS beliefs may sink him, and if that doesn't, it is also possible that his apparent lack of any other core beliefs will do the job. Or maybe the animal lovers will rise up. I think this is anybody's race at this point. Can the man who pardoned Keith Richards do it? Let's put it this way-- I think pardoning Keith was a better move than voting to authorize the Iraq war.

    We have spent the summer in the car. To Lake Placid yesterday, to drop CLA off at a pre-semester wilderness program that the English Department is running. She'll have a great time-- it's day trips, being run out of the hostel, so her recent back country experience should stand her in good stead. For the rest of us, however, it was a 12 hour drive for a sandwich at Charlie's. Pretty good sandwich, but even so. Next up, Bloomington, this Friday.

    Saturday, August 11, 2007

    We went to "Othello" at Shakespeare in Delaware Park the other night, and I've been mulling it over. In general this is one of my favorite things to do on a summer night, even though the ground is always hard, and the air is full of humidity and insects. Shakespeare is just that good, and if the performances tend to the over-broad, well, sometimes that's because an actor needs to go that way just to make the sublime language manageable. "Othello" isn't a play that gets done all that often, it seems to me-- at least here in the States the racial thing adds layers of meaning that were certainly not what were intended originally. Although the same is also true in "The Merchant of Venice" it may be that we are better equipped to take the "quality of mercy" speech, and the "hath not a Jew eyes" speech at face value than we can anything the unfortunate Moor says or does. Poor Othello never quite manages to get past one stereotype or another-- he is a noble heathen, and a dupe; a brave general and a jealous lover given to violence. It is easy to see why Desdemona falls in love with him, but because we see from the beginning that his strength is is weakness we can sympathize, but never completely identify. Jolie Garrett, one of the two Equity members of the cast, does some nice work here, in a part he's probably wanted to take a crack at for some time now.

    Iago is a different story. It is easy to relate to Iago. The world has been unfair to him, Othello has been unfair to him. Neither the world nor his general have appreciated his intelligence. Who hasn't felt that way? Tim Newell, a regular in this company, comes up big in this production-- I'll think of him as Iago henceforth, the way I think of Paul Todaro as Tybalt. I was also pleasantly surprised by Rebecca Elkin's Desdemona-- she is the daughter of Saul Elkin, the founder and artistic director of the program, and the director of this production, and she has been appearing on the Delaware Park stage pretty regularly for a while now. Up until now she has been solid enough so that you could say that nepotism couldn't have been all of why she was casted, but in this she was so good that I had no problem believing she could have given the best audition. She was convincing in her adoration, and in her consternation. Convincing isn't easy in a part like that-- or in Shakespeare generally, if it comes to that.

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    "Surrogate's Court is where the estates of those unfortunates who perish in the borough are handled, and its judges regularly name private attorneys to handle such tasks as examining wills and selling property. In other words, the court is a much-prized feeding trough for political hacks." Tom Robbins on the state of the Brooklyn judiciary. In a phrase, as crooked as a dog's hind leg. Hey, I didn't say it was anything new.

    The Art of Jazz series is looking ambitious this year: The Carl Allen – Rodney Whitaker Project; The Tord Gustavsen Trio; The Lionel Loueke Trio; James "Blood" Ulmer; The Vijay Iyer Quartet; and The Russell Malone Quartet. As usual, some I know, and some I've never heard of. The ones I know are all artists I've been interested in seeing for some time, and the ones I've never heard of I trust Bruce Eaton on. I'm pleased to see that Jim Santella is slated to give a pre-show talk, too. Dick Judelson-- "Dr. Jazz" has been involved with this program from the start, but more WBFO involvement would be a good thing for both the Art of Jazz and WBFO. I'm also excited by the fact that the slate has an international flavor again this year. Bruce has turned Buffalo into a jazz destination, at least for the artists, and that is a pretty cool accomplishment.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Joe Conason nails it: "While health care is a highly complex matter, the reason that other countries can afford to cover all of their citizens—while spending a smaller portion of their national income than we do—is fairly simple. As a study by Physicians for National Health Program revealed, more than 30 percent of health care costs in the United States represent corporate profit and useless paperwork. Roughly 20 percent goes to insurance companies alone, which burn enormous amounts of money finding ways to deny care to their policyholders. Multiply those costs for profit and “management” by the numerous insurance companies with which every hospital and doctor must cope simultaneously, and the result is an ongoing nightmare of corporate bureaucracy and paper-shuffling waste."

    Doctors make a lot of money. Interestingly, most people do not believe that they make too much money-- they do work hard, and they do possess specialized knowledge. The thing that a lot of doctors point to when the fact of their relative affluence is pointed out is that their training is extremely expensive, and they are obliged to start their professional lives under a lot of debt. (The fact that this is true of most college-educated people is glossed over. Doctors have more debt, sure, but also are compensated at a rate that comfortably compensates for the discrepancy.) A lot of docs will also point out that they pay big dough for malpractice insurance, but that is a bogus argument-- they never talk about what percentage of their overhead goes to malpractice insurance premiums, and in any event, that's really just overhead.

    We could solve all of these problems quite easily by socializing the works, including the cost of medical education. I'd be prepared to move medical malpractice litigation into a system that works like worker's compensation, and it seems fair enough to me that the cost of training our medical professionals should be borne by society as a whole. It actually already is pretty heavily subsidized. I suppose the health insurance industry would be pretty unhappy about it, but what have they ever done for us? I don't propose abolishing private health insurance-- if people want to purchase additional coverage over a particular minimum, why not?-- but basic health care should be a social welfare benefit for everyone, the way it is for veterans, old people, poor people, and members of Congress. Would that be a two-tier system? Sure, just like we have now, only with universal coverage, instead of a two tier system in which over half the population has essentially no access to health care at all.

    Because I value my professional independence, I am not proposing that doctors become governmental employees. I merely advocate for a single-payer system, with mandatory participation by all physicians for the first ten years of their post-training practice. After that, if they want to opt out, or have a side practice run on a private insurance fee basis, g-dspeed. Naturally participation by any hospital that receives any sort of governmental funding would be obligatory. I suppose you might assume from this that I hate doctors, but I don't, really. I hate that they surrendered their profession to the insurance industry, but it is not as though they simply signed it over. It was more like the camel's nose, a little at a time, until there wasn't any room in the tent any more, and although there are a lot of doctors who are good businessmen, not many doctors went into the healing arts with that as their goal. Nobody really likes the present system, except the insurance industry that profits from it. Doctors carry more overhead than they want, and patients can't get the care they should be receiving. Employers have to pay premiums, which eats into their bottom line.

    The system we have now has wrecked the country's industrial base. Our glamor profession gets the blame, but so-called "tort reform" is looking at the wrong end of the problem. It is debatable as to whether high insurance rates are caused by litigation-- the insurance industry seems to do pretty well as a whole. Occasionally a carrier fails, but I recall a conversation I had with a clever underwriter in Zürich a few years back. "If I can't figure out a way to write it so that we can both stay in business," he said, "Shame on both of us." The fact is that what drives the cost of liability insurance up is that the cost of health care in the US is out of control-- and the way that the risk is spread is colossally inefficient. Single payer eliminates this, and spreads the risk over the entire society. Maybe it's Red Communism, but socialized medicine has given Europe a huge competitive advantage, and it's past time we stopped pretending that the existing system works.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    LexisNexis was kind enough to send me a review copy of "Civil Litigation in New York" by Oscar G. Chase and Robert A. Barker, of NYU and Albany Law, respectively). As it happens, I am acquainted with Professor Chase through the New York Bar Association's CPLR Committee-- with the committee's chair, David L. Ferstendig, he is an editor of the Weinstein, Korn and Miller CPLR Manual. The CPLR, a lovely statute that I have enjoyed for years, is in their DNA, and the casebook is terrific. It's a challenging field, far more volatile than federal civil practice, and the book navigates it well. In particular, the text's treatment of the two areas of New York civil practice that are of special interest to me is very well done-- the section on discovery is clear and articulate-- not something that is easy to do in this context. And the discussion of Brill v. City of New York, a frequent topic at CPLR Committee meetings, captures the issues nicely. I hope they sell a ton of them-- but I also think that $99 bucks is crazy money to charge for a book that has a half-life of six months. The original edition came out in 1986, a happy time in which many CPLR issues seemed pretty much settled. The Second Edition came out in 1990, and the Third six years later. The Fourth Edition appeared in 2002, so you can't say that they rush the thing, but let's be realistic. Students take New York Practice, at UB anyway, in their senior year. At the end of the semester they'll be lucky to get half price at the bookstore. The book has next to no value as a reference. It's really just another illustration of the way that LexisNexis and West hose lawyers. They take material that is in the public domain, tart it up, and charge premium prices for it. As a work of scholarship, "Civil Litigation in New York" is a fine thing-- a solid tool for the instruction of a complex area. If I taught a full-blown course in New York Practice it is probably the text I would use, if it were half the price. Unfortunately, David D. Siegel's New York Practice hornbook is half the price-- and has ongoing usefulness to a practicing lawyer. I don't like the teaching style using Siegel moves one towards-- responsive reading from a treatise is how European lawyers are trained, and I have always felt that it tends to stifle creativity. Because I remember what a bite books were to my budget, I teach from materials that I put together myself and post on-line, but doing that for an entire survey course on civil practice would be a pretty heavy load for someone like me that practices full-time, and teaches for kicks. LexisNexis should suck it up, and sell the damn thing between soft covers for thirty bucks. For that kind of money a lot more people would be willing to use it-- and the students that had to buy it wouldn't feel like they'd been screwed.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    It's early days yet, but based on present form it looks like Hillary Clinton will probably win the Democratic nomination, and should roll in the general election. It's not so early that New York Democrats aren't sizing themselves up in the mirror and thinking that being a senator would be pretty sweet, but I haven't seen anything about who plans on having a run at it. The way it would go would be that when HRC resigns her seat, Elliot Spitzer picks a replacement-- and then there'd be an election scheduled for the following November. Presumably Mark Green would run, since it is an election and there is a rule that says he has to run for everything. Andy Cuomo might want to have a whack at it, but there is an Albany dynamic at work there which might trip that up. Al Sharpton likes to run for things, too. There are a lot of congresspeople who might want to move up, but right now New York Democrats have pretty enviable seniority in the House, and it would be a high stakes gamble to risk that.

    This would be an interesting time to be a dark horse, but it would take money and delicate diplomatic skills. You would want to be anointed by the Clintons, but since Spitzer gets to make the call, you would have to have a foot firmly planted in that camp, too. I don't know who is out there that meets that description, but I guarantee there are people out there working it.

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    We came to Harry Potter pretty early on-- CLA was at exactly the right age, and we might have even started off with the British edition of "Philosopher's Stone". I recall reading about the fact that there were versions with a more grown-up looking cover so that adults could read it on the Tube without worrying about looking silly. My brother, GJA, was working for Scholastic Books at the time as well, and maybe that's where we got the leg-up.

    We've pretty much always gone the Amazon route for the new releases, although there was at least one time when we drove around trying to find a store with the books in stock. We had to get multiple copies, so that all three daughters could read it at once, and for a while we were ordering a copy of the British editions, so that we'd get the more interesting slang expressions. We did Amazon this time for CLA, because she is off doing trail maintenance in the Maine woods. The rest of us were in Holland, Michigan the evening before the release, retrieving LCA from her Terpsichordian sojourn, so we had a look at a midnight Potter Party. I didn't stay-- there were too many Muggle children-- but EGA and A hung in, then EGA stayed up until 4:30, getting pretty close to the finish. LCA caught up in the car on the drive home, then they finished the next day. A brought it on our trip west, and handed it off to me when we took off for opposite coasts.

    As is obvious from the posting I've been doing here, there has been a fair amount of airport time being logged lately, and I've been counting the number of copies of "Deathly Hallows" I've seen. It's been steady, but not overwhelming, which suggests that what I'm seeing are mostly people who have had the book passed along to them after the person who had been waiting for it like Christmas had finished. Not everyone-- yesterday in John Wayne International I saw a woman standing next to the wall, holding the book to her chest and sobbing.

    For the most part people have been pretty good about not spoiling it. My sense is that all over the world people have read it, then excitedly handed it over so that when everyone in the group has finished it can be discussed, and re-read. And that, in the end, my be the answer to the question I've had since about the third or fourth book came out-- will this series be something that people who grew up reading read or pass on to their own children? At some point I began to find the books a bit over-blown, in need of editing. I think, though, that I was mistaken, and that Rowling was being generous with detail because by writing in that way she was giving the reader an opportunity to revisit. I am a big fan of re-reading. For me one of the subtle joys of having children has been the opportunity to re-read some of the things that I'd loved-- to introduce those books to my daughters, and see them be shaped by them in the ways that they shaped me. I think there is a good likelihood that a lot of people are going to do that with the Potter books, too. They have been a phenomenon-- I'm glad I saw a bookstore party-- a sort of midsummer, occasional Halloween that has occurred five or six times and will be a childhood memory for a generation. I'm glad I hung on for the ride even after I was so sick of Quiddich that I couldn't stand to think about it. They're pretty good books, and I imagine my grandchildren will think so, too.

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