Saturday, February 19, 2011

little known fact #3

Little Known Fact Background: I'm 98% certain that everyone who regularly reads this blog actually knows me.  But sometimes I like to dream of a time when I'm famous for these ramblings and folks will flock here and pore over the archives of my early days.  So I'm starting a new series (maybe) that will help those future fans (who truly are the imaginary readers I reference so often) get to know the real ellen--because you know, I've been doing such a first-rate job of not talking about myself up until now.  And perhaps, some of you who are actually acquainted with me will still learn something from these "little known facts."

LFK3:  I take it as a personal insult when the internet fails to provide me with information.

Lately I have found myself in frequent conversations about how we lived before the internet.  Usually these discussions crop up when someone whips out their phone to do a bit of fact-finding when we can't remember some movie or song or person or piece of trivia.  The conclusion I often come to is that in my pre-internet life my expectations were different.  I didn't expect to be able to lay my hands on any piece of information whenever I wanted, so I was more comfortable with not knowing answers or relying on my imperfect memory for the answers I needed.  But that's not how I live now.  In my world these days, there's nothing that the internet can't tell me, and I consider any evidence to the contrary highly offensive.  Knowing this background, let me share a story of how the internet recently nearly failed me.

I used my day off Friday to catch up on a backlog of DVRed shows that I've been neglecting thanks to the now-completed obsessive Harry Potter reread. As I was watching this week's 30 Rock, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to place the guest star who played Anders, the Martha Stewart-recommended Swiss prostitute.  (Man alive, that show is ridiculously hilarious--or maybe ridiculous and hilarious.)

I immediately recognized him as someone I should know from other shows/movies, but I couldn't think of what those shows and movies were.  I could distinctly remember a conversation with Peep Becky after watching him in a movie many years ago wherein she dubbed him "the poor man's Paul Rudd," but I couldn't remember what we'd seen him in that sparked that discussion.  Eventually my irritation with my own forgetfulness took over my life.  At first I had wanted to remember on my own, but I soon conceded that I would have to let the internet help me.

IMDB was my obvious first stop.  Unfortunately they were only listing one guest star for the episode, and it wasn't my guy, and no one (at that point anyway) had started a discussion thread about the actor.  So I next tried the 30 Rock page on the NBC website, but they didn't mention the name of the elusive guest star either.  A viewer had posted a comment on the episode recap asking who the actor was, but at the time I was searching, no one had responded.  Various Google searches yielded recaps and other bits of trivia about the episode but not the identity of this guy.  I even googled the poor man's Paul Rudd thing hoping that Becky and I weren't the only ones to ever notice that the two actors look alike.  That's when I truly began to feel that the internet was letting me down.  I felt adrift in a world which no longer made sense, but I refused to give up.  I began to try to picture the guy in other roles trying to stir my memory to recognize him. 

During this mostly-fruitless exercise, I thought I recalled that he was in Band of Brothers.  Don't ask me how I thought of this because I've never seen Band of Brothers, but it was the best lead I had.  I looked it up on IMDB, but there were so many cast members listed that I lost momentum before I worked my way down the whole list.  The thumbnails didn't immediately yield recognizable results, and I wasn't even really sure that he was in it after all, so I gave up that route of searching as a bad bet.

My next step was to text Becky to see if she could remember "the poor man's Paul Rudd," but a second after I sent the text, I realized it was after midnight in Ohio.  Sorry again, Beck, for being such a rude, late-night texter.  As I sat around feeling guilty for the inconsiderate lateness of the text, I finally realized that the credits for the 30 Rock ep itself would list his name among the guest stars, but I had already deleted it from the DVR.  And that's when the internet starting playing nice again.  I brought the episode up on Hulu and skipped ahead until I found the credits.  I was fully prepared to have to look up each guest star listed, but 30 Rock handily lists guest stars with their character names, so I found Eion Bailey almost immediately. 

Big satisfied sighs of relief here.  So all that was left to do was look through his filmography and feel every sort of embarrassment that I hadn't remembered what I recognized him for.  Most recently he was on the USA series Covert Affairs, which I watched last summer.  He also spent a season or so playing an intern on ER.  I felt especially stupid for not realizing that one.  And sure enough, he was in Band of Brothers, so if I'd stuck with that search method, I would have found him eventually (though his IMDB profile photo doesn't lend itself to easy recognition in the thumbnail size, in this girl's opinion).  And finally I found the movie that had sparked that conversation with Becky long ago:  Center Stage.  Once I saw that, I was amazed that I hadn't recalled in vivid detail because we love that movie.  And finally I was reminded that he did a very memorable turn as part of the hyena pack that eats the principal in Buffy.  How could I have forgotten that?

And for the record, there are multiple discussion threads on his IMDB that refer to the fact that he looks like Paul Rudd, so it's not just Becky and me.

In the end, the internet did come through for me, but it was very rocky there for a while, and I will admit that I'm still disappointed in how my life was almost ruined by the unhelpfulness of my most reliable friend.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

sometimes i'm surprised by the things i care about

A couple of weeks ago I was minding my own business when cousin, scholar, theologian, #1 blog fan left me a voicemail wondering if Al Green should really be included on any list of the top five greatest love songs.  Apparently everyone on the radio asserted that he should, and CST1BF disagreed, or at least thought he should disagree.  At that time, he requested my thoughts on this category of music.  My immediate response was to write it off.  I'm quite terrible at such lists, and I don't especially favor love songs.  But then I started thinking about it, and I couldn't stop until I'd done some research and some list making of my own.

I think greatest lists are difficult for me for a couple of reasons.  First I'm not objective enough to separate my personal favorites from any sort of empirical standard of excellence.  And even if I give up on that and just go for detailing my favorites, I'm still fairly horrible at picking favorites partly because I'm indecisive, partly because I always have a nagging feeling I'm leaving out something important I haven't even thought of, and partly because I suspect that those items that don't get picked for my list will feel sad and neglected and left out, and I just can't live with that on my conscience.  But CST1BF keeps nagging, and I hate to see my research go to waste, so here I am posting about great love songs.

The interwebs provided a jumping off point with several lists from various sources, but it soon became clear that my idea of a good love song didn't necessarily mesh with the lists, and I began to see the need for categories, so that's how this will be organized.  There will be some overlap, and several songs that could appear in multiple categories, but I'll stick 'em where I think they belong.  Also CST1BF asked me for a list of five, so I'm claiming all these lists have five songs in them whether they actually do or not.  I can't cut any more, so you'll get the number you get.  I'm going to attempt to link all my selections to youtube versions.  I'm quite certain based on my experience in the research process that some of the videos that people have made to accompany the songs will be fairly horrible, but I wanted you to hear the songs in question, so please just listen and don't judge the song by the video.  One final warning before I start naming names:  any term such as great, greatest, best, etc. that may be used is strictly my opinion which I admit isn't worth much at all.

5 Best Country Love Songs

I may have mentioned previously that I was raised on country music in my rural upbringing, and for many years in my youth it was my preferred genre.  These days I don't particularly have a favorite genre, and I don't currently listen to country music, but what I do know about current country tells me that nothing's come along lately that could topple any of these songs:

"Something that We Do" Clint Black:  Robyn does an extremely awesome Clint Black impersonation, but I've never seen her try this song.  Maybe I don't want to because I really love it in a serious way, and her impression is far from serious, unless you count being seriously hilarious.  Under normal circumstances I would, but not when it comes to this song.

"Where've You Been" Kathy Mattea:  I sometimes have mixed feelings about story songs, but this song makes me cry.  It's so sweet.

"I Believe in You" Don Williams:  This song doesn't need me to say anything about it.  That's how phenomenal it is.  I kinda wanted to include the Don Williams song "You're My Best Friend" too, but I thought that might be overkill.

"I Will Always Love You" Dolly Parton:  Say whatever you will about Whitney, you will never convince me that her version can touch this one.  Dolly owns this song.  She wrote it about Porter Wagoner (HI!), and that's sort of precious enough, but then in Best Little Whorehouse when she sings it to Ed Earl, it's heartbreakingly perfect.  As you'll see in these lists, I prefer my love songs to be a bit more happily ever after, but I'll make an exception for this song any time.

"It Was" Chely Wright:  I feel like people are going to question this choice, but I love this song.  It's so strong, maybe even forceful.  And in the music video (which I've been careful to link to here), she cries the most gorgeous tears imaginable.

"One Friend" Dan Seals:  To be clear, the word love does not appear anywhere in the lyrics of this song, but it's an achingly beautiful description of love, and I'll dare anyone to say otherwise.

5 Best 80s Love Songs

Though country music ruled where I'm from, pop music of the 80s is an intrinsic part of the soundtrack of my childhood as well, thank in no small part to having teenage siblings during those years.  There are probably tons of songs from this decade that can stand on their own on any great love song list without qualification, but I think sometimes the complete 80s-ness of their sound holds certain songs back, but I can't stop loving them anyway.  Here are my five favorites that scream 80s.

"Time After Time" Cyndi Lauper: I'll be the first to admit that I don't 100% get the words of this song, but I still love it and think it's beautiful.  So there.

"Crazy for You" Madonna: I'm not necessarily a huge Madonna fan, but I'm crazy for this song.

"Eternal Flame" The Bangles:  Do you remember that episode of Gilmore Girls from season 1 when they go to a Bangles concert?  And they sing this song?  If Madeleine and Louise weren't interrupting with all their drama, it would have been perfect.

"Faithfully" Journey:  These days Glee has made Journey such a thing that I almost left them off the list, but my affection for Journey (thanks to my moma's slight obsession with Steve Perry) is so long and far-reaching that I knew I couldn't leave them out.  And I've always liked "Faithfully"more than "Open Arms," which is probably the more obvious Journey choice.

"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" Starship:  We used to tape episodes of Friday Night Videos, and my moma still has some of those VHS tapes at her house, which are enjoyable as much for the vintage commercials as the videos.  But I can remember this video from that era, and this song still stirs warm, fuzzy memories from my childhood.

5 Most Overplayed Love Songs that I Love Anyway

I almost called this list guilty pleasures, but I don't think I should feel any guilt or shame for loving these songs.  I think that most of these are songs you hear quite a lot because they are so great, but since familiarity breeds contempt, it's easy to discount them simply because they're everywhere.  The ubiquitous nature of several of them makes it feel like putting them in the actual "greatest" list is a cop-out.  Thus I've created this "overplayed" list.  And don't worry--despite my secret love of Peter Cetera's voice "You're the Inspiration" will not be appearing here as a favorite.  Even I have my limits.

"Your Song" Elton John:  I've always loved this song, but I'll admit that Moulin Rouge intensified my feelings towards it.

"Can't Help Falling in Love with You" Elvis:  He is the King, after all, so of course, he needed some representation here, and I think this is his best love song.

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" Simon & Garfunkel:  When other people sing this song, it's the worst kind of cheese, but I do have a vast affection for the original version.

"I'll Be There" Jackson Five:  Michael Jackson was a brilliantly talented man.  Crazy as all get-out, but talented.

"Maybe I'm Amazed" Paul McCartney: Yummy, yummy song.

5 Great Love Song Duets
I originally only had four lists, but they kept growing longer and longer, and I began to notice that they were starting to choke on duets, so I culled a few from those other lists for this special category.

"Endless Love" Lionel Richie & Diana Ross:  This song could just as easily fit in the overplayed list, but it's brilliance as a duet even outshines the fact that it's played out. (I first linked to a live version where Lionel had an especially impressive afro, but the sound on it was tinny, so I chose instead a series of Disney clips set to this song.  It's precious.)

"I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"  Aretha Franklin & George Michael:  I love this unlikely pairing, and I love this song.

"After All" Peter Cetera & Cher:  Peter Cetera is the voice of 80s love songs, so feel proud that I was able to get him down to just one mention ("Glory of Love" was on the 80s list until really close to the end).  This duet is the reason I own the movie Chances Are (on VHS).

"Always" Atlantic Starr:  Of course, the most famous rendition of this duet was by Peeps Paige and Becky at Fall Getaway 2007, but my love for this song goes back to the original Atlantic Starr version. (Finding a decent video of this one was more difficult than picking the songs themselves.)

"Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" Anne Murray & Dave Loggins:  This was my moma and the Popster's wedding song, so even if it was awful it would remind me of the blessing that their love has been to our family for the past couple of decades.  But Anne Murray's voice is so delicious, and the song is far from awful.  

My Vision of the 5 Greatest Love Songs
Categories aside, these are the best of the best (of the best, SIR!) for me.

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" Roberta Flack:  Let the record show that I do possess at least a little objectivity, which is to say I didn't just flip through my own music collection and pick songs I own or listen to constantly.  I know this song and like it, but definitely don't own it or count it as a favorite, but I think objectively it's a tremendous combination of powerful lyrics and a hauntingly romantic melody.

"You've Got a Friend" James Taylor: (I specifically chose this video for JT's long flowing hair.)  I'm beginning to see how these choice I'm making say a lot about what I think is important in love.  This is definitely one of those cases.

"Love Never Fails" Brandon Heath:  This is the newest song on the list, and it's possibly a bit chancy to place a song that's only three years old among so many others that have stood the test of time, but its inclusion demonstrates the power that this song has for me.  The lyrics are just beautiful and perfect.

"I Love You for Sentimental Reasons" Nat King Cole:  This man's voice was made for love songs.  "When I Fall in Love" lands on all sorts of greatest love song lists, but I think this one is a better love song.

"I Will" The Beatles:  I had a bit of work narrowing down the list to just one Beatles song, but this one is my favorite of their love songs.  Feel free to argue the case of your preferred Beatles tune below.

"God Only Knows" The Beach Boys:  I am not above admitting that this song came to my attention primarily because it's played during the closing credits of Love Actually.  I've been sort of surprised how many movie connections these songs have for me.

Well, the good news for CST1BF is that I didn't include Al Green.  The bad news is that it took me over two weeks to still not be able to fully answer the question.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

a guest post from flat stanley

There was a largish envelope in my mailbox when I got home Monday night.  Inside I found Stanley, who came from Bird by way of Nana.  So far he's been a delightful houseguest, and we've had such fun together, that I asked him if he'd share with my imaginary readers here all of our adventures.  He very politely accepted.  Take it away, Stanley:

Thanks, Aunt Ellen, it's great to be here with the loyal fans of the opinions.  And of course, I can't say enough nice things about the good time you've been showing me.

Monday night I came out of the mailbox so late I thought we'd probably just introduce ourselves and turn in for the night, but apparently Aunt Ellen keeps much later hours than Nana and Popa because she hadn't even had dinner yet.  She let me cut up some vegetables for a salad, and we even had an apple dumpling for dessert. 
Aunt Ellen has new bedding, and I got to be one of the first people to see it.  She even had a small pillow just right for me, but she still wasn't ready for sleep.

We read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for a while.  We were very close to the end, so it was really exciting even if I didn't know exactly what was going on having missed the first 750 pages or so.

Her roommate Jess came home from work while we were reading, so I got to meet her.  She said I could call her Reginald, but I'm not sure why.

The next morning, I got to go to work with Aunt Ellen at the library.  Right off the bat, she got me set up with my own library card!  (I think she had to bend a few library rules to do that.  I hope she doesn't get in trouble.)

I got to play on the computer a bit--this cool computer has lots of games, and a touchscreen, but the headphones were really heavy for me.

I also got to meet the snowman I'd heard so much about.  What a nice guy!
 She let me pick out a book and showed me several books about my own adventures.
 I decided to read about the time I went to space, and Aunt Ellen helped me check the book out.

Back at her desk, she introduced me to some friends who were just my size.

Aunt Ellen does a lot of work at her computer, so I mostly just hung out and read.  She did have a class of kids come in to check out books from a nearby school, but she was so busy with them that I just stayed out of the way.

When we finally got home, I was worn out, so Aunt Ellen cooked dinner without me.  She let me have free rein of the remote while she was busy.  I watched the Disney channel, of course.

All day at work folks were talking about a big snowstorm that was supposed to hit on Wednesday morning, and we found out before bedtime that lots of schools and even the library had already decided to call a snow day, so we were excited to get to stay at home and have fun the next day.

Aunt Ellen says that she woke up and couldn't go back to sleep at 5:40 this morning, but she let me sleep in.  She woke me up around nine so we could have breakfast burritos.  I ate mine so fast she didn't even get a picture.  I promised I'd help her do dishes later if we could go out and play in the snow.  She was worried about me being too cold.  Nana made me a coat when I was in Kentucky because it was so cold, but I still needed some warmer gear, so Aunt Ellen made me a hat, scarf, boots, and mittens!  Isn't she a great aunt?
She was still a little worried about me, so she also wrapped me in plastic wrap.  It was a bit hard to breathe, but at least I stayed dry. 
 We set to work working on a snowman, and I wanted to make him flat like me.
Didn't we do a great job?  Aunt Ellen helped a lot, but Reginald just stood around mostly.
I also made a snow angel, which is harder to do you than you might think when you're flat.  It was still snowing and getting heavier.
Aunt Ellen and Reginald decided to take a walk up the street just to look around, but since the snow was nearly as tall as me in most places, Aunt Ellen left me to play safely on the porch.
It was really coming down out there!  We were soon ready to come inside, take off our wet things and warm up.  Aunt Ellen let me have hot chocolate with as many marshmallows as I wanted--and I wanted lots.
 We decided to spend the rest of the afternoon inside, so first we played some games of Uno.  I was just about to win when Aunt Ellen played the draw 4 wild card, but I was a good sport.
Later I wanted to do something crafty, so Aunt Ellen tried to teach me how to knit.  I started out doing all right, but then something went wrong.

Luckily Aunt Ellen managed to get me untangled.  She started getting sleepy in the afternoon.  I guess her early morning was catching up with her, so she let me play spider solitaire while she took a nap.  I think I improved her win percentage by quite a bit.  She needed the help for sure.
That's what we've been up to here.  I was worried that this post would be too boring compared to the clever, sophisticated posts that Aunt Ellen's readers are used to, but she assured me that people kept reading through those boring vacation diaries back in the fall, so I think we're safe.  It's been great to be here.  I secretly hope we get another snow day tomorrow, so Aunt Ellen and I can have even more fun together!  If the roads clear up, she's threatening to take me to Uncle Shane's.  Thanks for reading!

And thank you, Flat Stanley for your guest appearance.  Good luck in your travels.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Seasonally-appropriate poetry:

Wintry weather nears--
More menacing than last time.
Snowpocalypse Eve.

Snow days fill my soul,
but I won't get my hopes up--
burned by that before.
Phil said spring would come
Guess the weather is balmy
in Punxsutawney.

Run on bread, milk, eggs.
Attention Kroger shoppers:
French toast goes with snow.

One piece of advice
if Snowmaggedon finds us:
turn into the skid.

Fear not, faithful fans,
Snowfallocaust may provide
guest post tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

if my yahoo account were an archaeological dig . . .

I got my first email account back in 1996.  It was a hotmail account that I let lapse during an era when I didn't have internet at home, and I didn't want to maintain both work and personal email accounts.  But right before I left that job in 2003, I realized how dumb it was to have let my personal account go, and I signed up for a yahoo account and forwarded a few emails I didn't want to lose from my work account to the yahoo account.

In real life I have definite packratish tendencies.  I still have a collection of letters and cards I exchanged with long distance friends during high school, and in that same file are a few printed emails from my college account that I didn't want to leave behind.  Sometimes when I think about that hotmail account I lament that I let some good things slip into the internet void, but I still have a fairly long-reaching anecdotal history of the past nine years in my yahoo account.  No, I don't save every email.  In fact these days, it has to be pretty dang special to earn a spot in the "keeper" folder, but things do make the cut.  Sometimes when I need to be reminded of a particular fact from my history or if I just need to read something special, I can turn to the keeper folder for some heart-warming nostalgia--or occasionally some heart-breaking memories. 

I've been rereading Harry Potter lately, and yesterday I started Order of the Phoenix.  I can never think about year 5 at Hogwarts without remembering my initial reading experience and the email that it generated.  Because I came late to the Harry Potter love-fest, Order was the first book on whose release I actually had to wait, and I unknowingly started a tradition that I would maintain through the book 7.  This morning when I was in the shower (where I do my best thinking), I thought it would be a hoot to publish that eight-year-old email (one of the earliest in my keepers folder) and share with my imaginary readers my very first thoughts on the book. 

I originally sent this message to family members and Peeps, and it was written so near the release of the book, I assumed people wouldn't have had a chance to finish it yet, so it is virtually spoiler-free.  It comes from a time in my emailing history when I was staunchly opposed to capital letters.  In the same vein, I used brackets instead of parentheses because they don't require the use of the shift key.  In my youthful exuberance, I also made sort of a disorganized mess of this email.  I considered correcting that for your viewing pleasure here, but it wouldn't be a true snapshot of  twenty-four-year-old me.  And what kind of archaeologist would I be if I prettied up the details of the dig? 

let me begin by saying that i couldn't exactly remember who all were harry potter addicted, so if you haven't read the books, this might be a little boring for you [actually, might be boring even if you do read the books].  my point is, my feelings won't be hurt if you get bored and stop reading.
so here's the run-down on the last twenty-four-ish hours of my life.  i got to books a million at about 11 last night.  even with my advance purchase voucher, i knew there'd be a line.  i ended up with a pretty good spot and had the good sense to grab a dave barry book off the shelf to read in line so that i could avoid making eye contact with the crazies and have a buffer for the cranky kids--it was approaching midnight after all.  so i was out the door of b-a-m by three minutes after midnight, which i thought spoke very highly of the faithful employees who were snatching and scanning vouchers and bagging those books with a speed that was impressive given the hour and the fact that they had been there with tv camera crews and all the crazies and cranky kids for way longer than i was.  anyway by the time i drove through at backyard burgers [a person with goals and a thick book and who hadn't had supper needs sustenance after all] and got home and got myself focused, it was at least 12:30 when i removed the book jacket [i hate book jackets, by the way] and hugged [yes, hugged] the 870 page volume to me.  then i dove in with both feet [no, i haven't touched the book with my feet].  sometime after three, my master plan broke down, and i convinced myself that the book would not disapparate [ha] if i slept for a while.  when i woke again it was almost nine, and i blinked once and picked it up again.  so anyway my point is this:  i read all day.  at one point i tried to eat ice cream [the only food i could find in my home that required no preparation], but it wasn't easy to do one-handed, so i sacrificed it for the good of the cause.  i was successful in drinking mt. dew as that is generally a one-handed task.  i finished the book at approximately 10:40 p.m. and embraced it again after a solid thirteen and a half hours of continuous reading, and about sixteen and a half of total time.  
so here are my reactions that in no way give away any plotlines in case you are worried:  i love harry potter, not just the books--harry himself.  i actually stopped periodically through the story and thought to myself that i have a crush on a fictional character.  anyway before i sat down to write this email, i tried to decide how this book held up against the other four, and i had to agree once again that at least for me, they get better as the years go by in that the more this story develops, the more i get drawn in and the more i love it, but is the order of the phoenix a better book than any of the others?  not exactly.  i have always known when i read harry potter that it's just one piece of a seven book story, so i know that when i get to the end of the book, it's not the end, so i'm okay with the fact that not all the loose ends get tied up in neat little bows, but that doesn't mean i don't like bows.  ultimately the last three books [especially goblet, and now, order] to me suffer from empire strikes back syndrome.  i'm wrapped up in the story, i know and love the characters, i know the relevant history, so reading the books and seeing more of that story develop is a joy, but getting to the end of what is available for me to read at this point and not having a happily ever after is always kind of a bummer.  luke's just found out darth vader is his father and had his hand cut off, and han solo is frozen in carbonite and on his way to jabba the hut.  it's a dark point in the story, and you know it's going to have to get better, but you don't have the benefit of being able to sit down and watch jedi [for those of you who aren't star wars fans, i apologize for the extended analogy].  still i love it, and i'm wondering how long i'll make myself wait before i read it again. 
now if you'd like to know in very vague generalities what i thought about specific aspects of the book, i'll get to that.  first i'm sure you all know that in this one, somebody important dies.  no, i'm not telling who, but let me say that it's a big deal, and i hated it, but if you've talked harry potter with me before, you know that there was no one important that i felt was expendable.  still in retrospect, after i stopped crying, i think that if someone had to go, this was the best choice.  in other news, there's the usual frustration of harry not telling some big person everything that's wrong so they can help fix it, though there are extenuating circustances that make it a little more bearable this time around, and frankly, the idea of him being able to handle things on his own at fifteen is much more plausible than it was when he was eleven.  my urge to keep him safe and protected is not so strong anymore, so i can handle the scooby gang not running to a real wizard this go around.  at the end of goblet i sobbed for harry because he was just a little boy, and he didn't have a mom to hug him up and baby him, and admittedly part of my sobs at the end of order were for the same reason, but book five really mans harry up.  he's not a baby anymore, and that came through in a big way for me in this book.  and i think if i go on anymore, it will ruin aspects for you, so i'll stop.
here's my final plea:  if you've read the book, write me back!  i'm dying to talk to someone about it.  if you haven't read the book, get off your butt and do something about it--i'm dying to talk to someone about it.
love to all, ellen

I can say that almost eight years later, I have the same intensity of feeling for this book and this particular reading experience.

I have a few more gems in my keepers folder (perhaps even some that don't pertain to Harry Potter) that I'll look at sharing in the future.