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Re: Harry Potter, a few remarks

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  • Steve Schaper
    ... As one of those hated Christians (there was another massacre of Christian youth last night in this country, the third, I think, in the past year), can you
    Message 1 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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      At 10:15 AM -0500 9/16/99, THEODORE SHERMAN wrote:
      >
      >I see no moral problems with the stories thus far, though I'm sure many
      >Christians will object to the magic/wizards/witches. (My
      >sister-in-law objected
      >to the "benign" portrayal of witches and magic. Sigh.) Rowling uses the wizard
      >world and Hogwarts (wonderful name, that) as a wonderful vehicle to
      >express the
      >same kinds of problems that exist in the Muggle world. In other words, her
      >fantasy follows Tolkien's comments in "On Fairy-Stories" that true fantasy is
      >predicated on the fact (and assumption) that things really are as
      >they are under
      >the sun.


      As one of those hated Christians (there was another massacre of
      Christian youth last night in this country, the third, I think, in
      the past year), can you tell me about the character of the magic and
      witches portrayed in the books? Is it fairytale magic, or is it a
      portrayal of actual neo-pagan religious practice? Are the witches the
      figures of fairytales, or wiccan priestesses? I haven't read the
      books, and I'm curious to hear a hopefully non-prejudiced analysis.
      ======================================
      It's 1999, where's Moonbase Alpha?
      ======================================
    • THEODORE SHERMAN
      I ll respond to Steve s questions, but first a reminder. My message in no way disparaged Christians; I simply said that some would object to the witches and
      Message 2 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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        I'll respond to Steve's questions, but first a reminder. My message in no way
        disparaged Christians; I simply said that some would object to the witches and
        magic. I don't know why Steve felt compelled to use the phrase "those hated
        Christians," but I wish he hadn't. I'm also a Christian--and I was initially
        predisposed against the Potter books because of all the publicity but also because
        CS Lewis had been compared in an unfavorable light to Rowling. I have found them
        thoroughly enjoyable; and I believe there is as much "morality" in them as in the
        best of fantastic fiction, though it may not be of any particular
        dogmatic/denominational/religious stripe.

        The magic, witches, and wizards definitely are not portrayed according to any sort
        of realism. I think the names, titles of books and spells, and the characters here
        clearly show that the magical aspect is purely fantastic. There is no neo-paganism
        in the books that I can tell. That's why I have no objections whatsoever. There are
        battles between good and evil forces, or between the Dark Arts and those opposed to
        them. I also see elements of love, sacrifice, loyalty, honor, duty, etc. in both
        stories--and these seem to be qualities/values that embodied by the "good"
        characters (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville, Albus, etc.).

        I hope this information helps.

        Ted

        Steve Schaper wrote:

        > From: Steve Schaper <sschaper@...>
        >
        > At 10:15 AM -0500 9/16/99, THEODORE SHERMAN wrote:
        > >
        > >I see no moral problems with the stories thus far, though I'm sure many
        > >Christians will object to the magic/wizards/witches. (My
        > >sister-in-law objected
        > >to the "benign" portrayal of witches and magic. Sigh.) Rowling uses the wizard
        > >world and Hogwarts (wonderful name, that) as a wonderful vehicle to
        > >express the
        > >same kinds of problems that exist in the Muggle world. In other words, her
        > >fantasy follows Tolkien's comments in "On Fairy-Stories" that true fantasy is
        > >predicated on the fact (and assumption) that things really are as
        > >they are under
        > >the sun.
        >
        > As one of those hated Christians (there was another massacre of
        > Christian youth last night in this country, the third, I think, in
        > the past year), can you tell me about the character of the magic and
        > witches portrayed in the books? Is it fairytale magic, or is it a
        > portrayal of actual neo-pagan religious practice? Are the witches the
        > figures of fairytales, or wiccan priestesses? I haven't read the
        > books, and I'm curious to hear a hopefully non-prejudiced analysis.
        > ======================================
        > It's 1999, where's Moonbase Alpha?
        > ======================================
        >
        > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
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        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

        --
        Prof. Theodore James Sherman
        6545 Dynasty Drive
        Murfreesboro, TN 37128
      • Steve Schaper
        ... Ted, It does indeed, thanks. Sounds like they are worth a read. I guess that the badgering that one can run into in other quarters, plus the massacre in
        Message 3 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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          At 10:49 AM -0500 9/16/99, THEODORE SHERMAN wrote:
          >
          >
          >The magic, witches, and wizards definitely are not portrayed
          >according to any sort
          >of realism. I think the names, titles of books and spells, and the
          >characters here
          >clearly show that the magical aspect is purely fantastic. There is
          >no neo-paganism
          >in the books that I can tell. That's why I have no objections
          >whatsoever. There are
          >battles between good and evil forces, or between the Dark Arts and
          >those opposed to
          >them. I also see elements of love, sacrifice, loyalty, honor, duty,
          >etc. in both
          >stories--and these seem to be qualities/values that embodied by the "good"
          >characters (Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville, Albus, etc.).
          >
          >I hope this information helps.
          >
          >Ted

          Ted,
          It does indeed, thanks. Sounds like they are worth a read. I guess
          that the badgering that one can run into in other quarters, plus the
          massacre in Fort Worth last night put me in a mood for my response,
          and I appologize for any offense.

          --Steve
          ======================================
          It's 1999, where's Moonbase Alpha?
          ======================================
        • Steve Schaper
          ... Diane, No probs, I had major trouble telnetting to Bix today. These things happen on the Net. Ted indicated the same as you. Sounds like they may be fun
          Message 4 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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            At 1:49 PM -0700 9/16/99, Diane Baker wrote:
            >From: Diane Baker <dianejoy@...>
            >
            >I'm just learning a new communications program so if things look wierd, I
            >apologize.
            >You ask about the witch-craft in the Potter books. Not to worry;
            >it's fairy-tale
            >level, not a neo-pag in sight.


            Diane,
            No probs, I had major trouble telnetting to Bix today. These things
            happen on the Net.
            Ted indicated the same as you. Sounds like they may be fun books, and
            I'm always glad to hear of more (if my bank account isn't) And, I'll
            have a better idea of what to say when people ask me about them,
            which is something that can happen from time to time. I still run
            into people surprised to hear that Tolkien was a Christian.
            Considering that the Silmarillion has a profound effect on my
            becoming one, I am saddened and amused at the same time.

            --Steve
            ======================================
            It's 1999, where's Moonbase Alpha?
            ======================================
          • Lisa Deutsch Harrigan
            After a bit of prodding, Little Harold has finally snagged the (still unread by me) copies of the books in the house. He s in the middle of Jeremy Thatcher,
            Message 5 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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              After a bit of prodding, Little Harold has finally snagged the (still unread by
              me) copies of the books in the house. He's in the middle of Jeremy Thatcher,
              Dragon Hatcher, but that is proving to be a very fast read, as in he doesn't
              want to put the book down. So I should have report soon on a child's eye view of
              the Harry Potter books.

              JK Rowling is having a major literary event, complete with signing of the new
              book in a few weeks here in San Jose. Harold's teacher has tickets for sale. We
              are getting one (which lets in a child with adult).

              Will send in a report.

              He's also asking for the Narnia books. Going to have to find the kids' copies,
              someplace in the older bookcases. Or buy him his own set (cheap through
              Scholastic Books). Yes, Harold has taken to reading Children's Fantasy. I'm a
              happy mommy!

              Mythically yours,

              Lisa
            • Staci Dumoski
              Hey, Lisa, Could you tell me more about the J.K. Rowlings event here in San Jose? I m local, and would be interested in attending. Thanks! Staci Ann Dumoski
              Message 6 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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                Hey, Lisa,

                Could you tell me more about the J.K. Rowlings event here in San Jose?
                I'm local, and would be interested in attending.

                Thanks!

                Staci Ann Dumoski Phantastes
                Editor and Publisher "The Fantasy Writer's Guide"
                editor@... http://www.phantastes.com
              • David Lenander
                Claire loved Harry Potter (the first) and read it in one day. She s currently reading her way through all of John Bellairs (except for the adult books, like
                Message 7 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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                  Claire loved Harry Potter (the first) and read it in one day. She's currently
                  reading her way through all of John Bellairs (except for the adult books, like
                  _Face in the Frost_, which I think I'll keep from her for a year or two,yet).

                  She'd like to read the next one, but I'm not willing to buy it in hardcover.
                  Unlike many of those on this list (apparently) I didn't think that highly of the
                  book. Very enjoyable, a quick and absorbing read, but it's popcorn for the
                  mind. Much is borrowed from several writers, especially Roald Dahl (and I would
                  say that Rowlings has a nicer imagination than he did), but I don't think the
                  first book (anyhow) has the integrity of the Dickens pastiche in _Charlie and
                  the Chocolate Factory_ or the sensitivity of _James and the Giant Peach_.
                  Similar books that are really much better books--at least for me--they stick to
                  the memory (instead of to the ribs) now when I can barely remember the Harry
                  Potter book, read only last year, (except for the badminton/soccor-in-the-air
                  game, which was a wonderful idea and marvelously portrayed), are the
                  Chrestomanci books of Diana Wynne Jones, especially _Witch Week_ and _Charmed
                  Life_. Jane Yolen also did a wizards' school book in _Wizards' Hall_, though
                  the masterpiece is Le Guin's _A Wizard of Earthsea_. (I'm sure I've read
                  others, but none come to mind immediately. There are many little books
                  featuring witch's schools, books that tend to get displayed in libraries around
                  Halloween). Le Guin's _Wizard_ isn't a fun and funny school story, though, like
                  some of these others.

                  I'd like to recommend the OTHER finalists for the Children's Mythopoeic Fantasy
                  Award this year, not only the winner, Wynne Jones' _Dark Lord of Derkholm_ which
                  is a wonderful story about the dynamics of a very unusual family of seven
                  children (don't be distracted by the framing plot device of a novelized _Tough
                  Guide to Fantasy Land_), but also _The Heavenward Path_, by Kara Dalkey, a
                  wonderful and even better sequel to the earlier book, _Little Sister_, set in
                  Japan where a demon befriends the Buddhist heroine; _Ella Enchanted_, by Gail
                  Carson Levine, which is far more than a retelling of "Cinderella," establishing
                  a whole secondary fantasy world on a fairy-tale premise and brings all the
                  characters to life in a very clever magical plot worthy of Diana Wynne Jones or
                  Margaret Mahy; and _The Squire's Tale_, by Gerald Morris, in which the author
                  attempts to rescue Gawaine from the Malory's calumnies in "Morte d'Arthur" by
                  telling Arthurian stories from a more Anglo-Saxon perspective, in the person of
                  a new character, a young, elfin squire for Gawaine, telling a story with
                  considerable grace, cleverness and insight. There is already a sequel, too.
                  In my opinion, all of these books were much superior to _Harry Potter_, in terms
                  of the writing and stories, and that's not to disparage _Harry_, which as I
                  mentioned, I much enjoyed, as did my 9-year-old daughter, Claire. I look
                  forward to borrowing the sequels from my public library or purchasing the
                  paperbacks. (I might break down if Claire keeps asking, but only if I can find
                  the bestseller on a really good sale).

                  I'd also put in a plug for some other recent books that Claire and I really
                  enjoyed, the _Boggart_ books of Susan Cooper, which I value over the overblown
                  and pretentious "Dark Is Rising" sequence, (though I have only praise for the
                  second and third books of the sequence, the title volume and _Greenwitch_), and
                  Claire seemed to enjoy Pullman's _Clockwork_, which is a fine tale in the
                  tradition of Tieck or Hoffman, though she stoutly insisted that it's not really
                  a *children's* book, the scene where the prince's heart was cut out was too
                  grotesque, apparently.

                  Responding to the message of <37E1414C.BDCBB80D@...>
                  from mythsoc@onelist.com:
                  >
                  > From: Lisa Deutsch Harrigan <lisa@...>
                  >
                  > After a bit of prodding, Little Harold has finally snagged the (still unread
                  > by
                  > me) copies of the books in the house. He's in the middle of Jeremy Thatcher,
                  > Dragon Hatcher, but that is proving to be a very fast read, as in he doesn't
                  > want to put the book down. So I should have report soon on a child's eye view
                  > of
                  > the Harry Potter books.
                  >
                  > JK Rowling is having a major literary event, complete with signing of the new
                  > book in a few weeks here in San Jose. Harold's teacher has tickets for sale.
                  > We
                  > are getting one (which lets in a child with adult).
                  >
                  > Will send in a report.
                  >
                  > He's also asking for the Narnia books. Going to have to find the kids'
                  > copies,
                  > someplace in the older bookcases. Or buy him his own set (cheap through
                  > Scholastic Books). Yes, Harold has taken to reading Children's Fantasy. I'm a
                  > happy mommy!
                  >
                  > Mythically yours,
                  >
                  > Lisa
                  >
                  > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
                  >
                  > GRAB THE GATOR! FREE SOFTWARE DOES ALL THE TYPING FOR YOU!
                  > Tired of filling out forms and remembering passwords? Gator fills in
                  > forms and passwords with just one click! Comes with $50 in free coupons!
                  > http://www.onelist.com/ad/gator1
                  >
                  > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                  >
                  > .
                • Diane Baker
                  I m just learning a new communications program so if things look wierd, I apologize. You ask about the witch-craft in the Potter books. Not to worry; it s
                  Message 8 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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                    I'm just learning a new communications program so if things look wierd, I
                    apologize.
                    You ask about the witch-craft in the Potter books. Not to worry; it's fairy-tale
                    level, not a neo-pag in sight.

                    Steve Schaper wrote:

                    > From: Steve Schaper <sschaper@...>
                    >
                    > At 10:15 AM -0500 9/16/99, THEODORE SHERMAN wrote:
                    > >
                    > >I see no moral problems with the stories thus far, though I'm sure many
                    > >Christians will object to the magic/wizards/witches. (My
                    > >sister-in-law objected
                    > >to the "benign" portrayal of witches and magic. Sigh.) Rowling uses the wizard
                    > >world and Hogwarts (wonderful name, that) as a wonderful vehicle to
                    > >express the
                    > >same kinds of problems that exist in the Muggle world. In other words, her
                    > >fantasy follows Tolkien's comments in "On Fairy-Stories" that true fantasy is
                    > >predicated on the fact (and assumption) that things really are as
                    > >they are under
                    > >the sun.
                    >
                    > As one of those hated Christians (there was another massacre of
                    > Christian youth last night in this country, the third, I think, in
                    > the past year), can you tell me about the character of the magic and
                    > witches portrayed in the books? Is it fairytale magic, or is it a
                    > portrayal of actual neo-pagan religious practice? Are the witches the
                    > figures of fairytales, or wiccan priestesses? I haven't read the
                    > books, and I'm curious to hear a hopefully non-prejudiced analysis.
                    > ======================================
                    > It's 1999, where's Moonbase Alpha?
                    > ======================================
                    >
                    > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
                    >
                    > GRAB THE GATOR! FREE SOFTWARE DOES ALL THE TYPING FOR YOU!
                    > Tired of filling out forms and remembering passwords? Gator fills in
                    > forms and passwords with just one click! Comes with $50 in free coupons!
                    > http://www.onelist.com/ad/gator1
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org
                  • Matthew Winslow
                    I m enjoying all this discussion of the Harry Potter books and have been meaning to jump in, but have been too busy today. Finally got the time. I ve read the
                    Message 9 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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                      I'm enjoying all this discussion of the Harry Potter books and have been
                      meaning to jump in, but have been too busy today. Finally got the time.

                      I've read the first two and just yesterday broke down and ordered v3 from
                      SFBC. (I say 'broke down' coz I'm in a 'no buy' zone right now till I get some
                      other book-reading commitments out of the way -- running out of room on my
                      bed-side table <g>).

                      The books feel to me like a cross btwn Dahl and Wodehouse -- but not the
                      Jeeves or Blandings Wodehouse, but the Wodehouse of the White Feather, the
                      early Wodehouse. And since I love Dahl and since I love the early Wodehouse
                      (no matter how poorly written tehy are), I naturally have been enjoying the
                      Potter books.

                      I somewhat agree with David Lenander that they're (so far) mostly brain candy,
                      but oh, what candy! These aren't circus peanuts, but Lindt chocolates. Sure
                      they add to the hips (or to the brain-fat), but they're worth it.

                      As to the points Mary brought up, I think one must immerse oneself in the
                      worldview of the Potter books and ignore the fact that we are Muggles. The
                      Muggles of the books are not *us* per se, but rather the backwards saps of
                      that fantasy world. I'm sure anyone wise enough to be a member of the
                      Mythopoeic Society would be a 'mud blood' at worst. <g>

                      --
                      Matthew Winslow mwinslow@... http://x-real.firinn.org/
                      "Be careful. You know what he's like after a few novels."
                      --M. Python
                      Currently reading: Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges

                      Not responsible for the following ad, but I've played one on TV.
                    • Steve Schaper
                      ... What is chrestomancy? I ve forgotten and I doubt my dictionary would list it. ====================================== It s 1999, where s Moonbase Alpha?
                      Message 10 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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                        At 3:20 PM -0500 9/16/99, David Lenander wrote:
                        >
                        >Chrestomanci books of Diana Wynne Jones, especially _Witch Week_ and _Charmed
                        >Life_.

                        What is chrestomancy? I've forgotten and I doubt my dictionary would list it.


                        ======================================
                        It's 1999, where's Moonbase Alpha?
                        ======================================
                      • Lisa Deutsch Harrigan
                        Hi This is what I know. It is being sponsored by Hicklebee s Children s Books in Willow Glen and the Santa Clara County Reading Council. Harold s teacher, Mrs.
                        Message 11 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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                          Hi

                          This is what I know. It is being sponsored by Hicklebee's Children's Books in
                          Willow Glen and the Santa Clara County Reading Council. Harold's teacher, Mrs.
                          Funke, is a member of the Reading Council.

                          To get tickets from Hicklebee's you needed to stand in a long line (some people
                          for days), to get a chance at a ticket. This is Star Wars on a a literary scale,
                          folks! It got coverage in the newspaper and on local TV and everything. For a
                          Book! Yeah!

                          The event itself is taking place at the Willow Glen High School (renamed
                          Hogwarts School for the occasion <g>) Cafeteria on October 28 at 6:30 pm.
                          Tickets are $20 and include a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
                          which J.K. Rowling will sign.

                          Major Note: They strongly recommend that you bring a child. This event is for
                          children. We adult fans must find a child is necessary. Rent a niece or nephew
                          or neighbor's kid if needed. But please bring a kid! Scholastic and the SCCRC
                          want to encourage kids to read, that is the function of this book
                          reading/signing.

                          Luckily, as a mom, I come fully equipped.

                          Mrs. Funke still has a few tickets. E-mail me privately if you want to go.

                          For those of you in the rest of the country, see if your local Children's
                          Bookstore is sponsoring a reading/signing. Scholastic seems to be working with
                          Children's Bookstores and Literacy Groups.

                          Yours in service to Fandom

                          Lisa


                          Staci Dumoski wrote:
                          >
                          > From: Staci Dumoski <unicorn@...>
                          >
                          > Hey, Lisa,
                          >
                          > Could you tell me more about the J.K. Rowlings event here in San Jose?
                          > I'm local, and would be interested in attending.
                          >
                        • Stolzi@xxx.xxx
                          In a message dated 9/16/99 4:32:33 PM Central Daylight Time, ... Hey, maybe YOU re a Muggle! Speak for yourself [superior smile] Mary S
                          Message 12 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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                            In a message dated 9/16/99 4:32:33 PM Central Daylight Time,
                            mwinslow@... writes:

                            > I think one must immerse oneself in the
                            > worldview of the Potter books and ignore the fact that we are Muggles

                            Hey, maybe YOU're a Muggle! Speak for yourself [superior smile]

                            Mary S
                          • Diane Baker
                            It appears you ve raised the little guy right;  Narnia s one I didn t discover until college. ...  
                            Message 13 of 17 , Sep 16, 1999
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                              It appears you've raised the little guy right;� Narnia's one I didn't discover until
                              college.

                              > Yes, Harold has taken to reading Children's Fantasy. I'm a
                              > happy mommy!
                              >
                              > Mythically yours,
                              >
                              > Lisa
                              >
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                              > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

                            • Stolzi@xxx.xxx
                              In a message dated 9/16/99 3:55:33 PM Central Daylight Time, ... of ... Hey David, I got it from the =library=! Precious few are the books I am willing to buy
                              Message 14 of 17 , Sep 17, 1999
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                                In a message dated 9/16/99 3:55:33 PM Central Daylight Time,
                                d-lena@... writes:

                                > I'm not willing to buy it in hardcover.
                                > Unlike many of those on this list (apparently) I didn't think that highly
                                of
                                > the
                                > book.

                                Hey David, I got it from the =library=! Precious few are the books I am
                                willing to buy in hardcover.

                                Scottishly,

                                Mary S
                              • THEODORE SHERMAN
                                I got em in hardcover at 40 & 50% off retail. I bought em at Sam s Club. Ted ... -- Prof. Theodore James Sherman 6545 Dynasty Drive Murfreesboro, TN 37128
                                Message 15 of 17 , Sep 17, 1999
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                                  I got 'em in hardcover at 40 & 50% off retail. I bought 'em at Sam's Club.

                                  Ted

                                  Stolzi@... wrote:

                                  > From: Stolzi@...
                                  >
                                  > In a message dated 9/16/99 3:55:33 PM Central Daylight Time,
                                  > d-lena@... writes:
                                  >
                                  > > I'm not willing to buy it in hardcover.
                                  > > Unlike many of those on this list (apparently) I didn't think that highly
                                  > of
                                  > > the
                                  > > book.
                                  >
                                  > Hey David, I got it from the =library=! Precious few are the books I am
                                  > willing to buy in hardcover.
                                  >
                                  > Scottishly,
                                  >
                                  > Mary S
                                  >
                                  > --------------------------- ONElist Sponsor ----------------------------
                                  >
                                  > GRAB THE GATOR! FREE SOFTWARE DOES ALL THE TYPING FOR YOU!
                                  > Tired of filling out forms and remembering passwords? Gator fills in
                                  > forms and passwords with just one click! Comes with $50 in free coupons!
                                  > http://www.onelist.com/ad/gator1
                                  >
                                  > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  > The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.org

                                  --
                                  Prof. Theodore James Sherman
                                  6545 Dynasty Drive
                                  Murfreesboro, TN 37128
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