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7:32 AM
Q: What's the meaning of a pink carnation, as mentioned in these songs?

SQBSeveral songs mention pink carnations. "A White Sport Coat (and a Pink Carnation)" by Marty Robbins A white sport coat and a pink carnation I'm all dressed up for the dance A white sport coat and a pink carnation I'm all alone in romance (...) A white sport coat and a pin...

8:03 AM
Q: What's with the reference to "Alice in Wonderland" in Nalo Hopkinson's "The Reverse Cheshire Cat"?

MithrandirNalo Hopkinson's "The Reverse Cheshire Cat" is obviously making a reference to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, with the Cheshire Cat. The two protagonists enter a shop named "The Reverse Cheshire Cat": The weather-blasted chipboard sign over the diner read “The Reverse Cheshire Cat.” The...

8:59 AM
@Randal'Thor that would be me, but "good at answering story-ID questions" is a bit too much honour. Hoi @gerrit!
@gerrit did you search the oeuvre of well-known authors, and if so, were you able to exclude them? If so, that would be useful information.
@SQB Hoi! No, I didn't, but that's a good idea.
Any idea if it was a well-known Dutch (childrens) author?
@SQB No clue at all, unfortunately.
Also, any way we might figure out if it was a Dutch original or a translation?
I don't know how to figure that out either.
Very few clues :(
9:09 AM
And where/when did you read it? In school?
I assume I read it at home and got it from the local library. I read most of my books at home, and if we owned it, I would have seen it since my childhood. I don't suppose the library can give me a list of books I borrowed between 1993 and 2000 :)
Yesterday, I did some online searches with the terms "kaarsen", "donker", "koning (sometimes also including "troon"), but to no avail.
Nah, too general, as I found out yesterday.
@gerrit So you read it between those years? I'm currently editing your question; I'll add that.
@SQB I've just edited that in so we'll have an edit conflict now.
No prob, I'll figure that out.
9:13 AM
@ChristopheStrobbe I tried that too. I think it's quite possible that a relatively obscure book published in the 1990s or possibly (much) earlier has very little internet presence.
@gerrit Yes, that was also my conclusion.
In another childhood story identification quest, it took me a while to figure out that I had read The Dorset Squirrels (in Dutch translation), I ultimately found that one through a forum post on goodreads.com.
In that case I knew it must have been an English original, due to the nature of the story.
I wonder if online newspaper archives offer a feature to search specifically in the book review pages.
"Please enter your library card bar code and pin number in order to access this database." :(
@gerrit did I do okay?
I removed the spoiler markdown, because it's not much of a spoiler anyway and a bit distracting.
I tried to move the information about type, date, and language upfront, then the plot, then additional details.
@SQB Yes, thanks.
10:04 AM
Q: Why does the narrator quote a letter by a young footman near the end of Le Côté de Guermantes?

Christophe StrobbeNear the end of Le Côté de Guermantes, the third volume of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, comes back from a visit to baron de Charlus and finds a letter by a young footman to a friend lying on the table. He assumes that the footman has forgotten it there before retiring to bed. The nar...

@gerrit after excluding a couple of well-known Dutch children's books ("Koning van Katoren", "De Brief Voor de Koning", "Sleutelkruid"), I get a lot of Christian books. How likely is it that it was a Christian children's book?
@gerrit not this one, I presume?
@SQB I don't remember anything Christian in the book.
@SQB I came across that one in my search, it seems unlikely it would have been that one.
I'm 99.9% sure that's not the book I'm looking for.
My searches also keep turning up Koning van Katoren and De Brief Voor de Koning, both of which I have read and which are very different books :) also for a bit older kids I think.
I've posted another version of the request on goodreads.
10:26 AM
I'm currently pursuing Virgilius van Tuil by Paul Biegel; perhaps it's one of the stories in there. I'm still getting a very Biegeliaanse vibe from your description.
Oh, I'm quite sure the story was published in a standalone book and not part of a collection, I'll edit that into the question.
Lot's of things I can still try: goodreads.com/topic/show/…
No, I understood that, but it's not unusual to see a story from a collection being published on its own.
Often the other way around, of course: first published on its own, then collected later on.
Maybe. The story would age quite well.
2 hours later…
12:07 PM
Our questions-per-day average is now at 3; we had 2.1 QPD eight days ago. The Nalo Hopkinson challenge has helped; 10 questions so far.
The Michael Ende challenge in March also reached 10 questions, but then The Neverending Story had spawned a film.
2 hours later…
1:47 PM
@SQB Well, I checked and it's your top tag on SFF, with nearly 50 answers at an average score of 10. That's gotta count for something :-)
(amusing side note: "hoi" sounds rude in English, so I did a quick double-take before realising it's presumably Dutch for "hi")
@Randal'Thor that just means we have a lot of story IDs over on SFF, which we do indeed.
@ChristopheStrobbe We've had a few 10-question challenges, but that's the highest number we've ever had since the very first challenge at 12.
Now if I were one of the top users in [story-id] — but I don't believe I am.
The #20 is at a score of 529, while I'm at 461. Not too shabby.
And more than halfway to a silver tag badge.
@Randal'Thor Why does “hoi” sound rude in English?
1:56 PM
@Bookworm @Mithrandir I'm tempted to call this a "that's the point" question - since a lot of the story revolves around the main characters' curiosity over exactly the question you asked, maybe the point is just to make you wonder about it as they did. But probably there is some connection to be riddled out there ... I need to reread the ending of the story and understand it better.
@gerrit It's a not-very-polite way of getting someone's attention. "Hoi, you, over there!"
@Randal'Thor I've never heard that.
Hm, maybe a British thing.
Or maybe the English speakers around you are more polite ;-)
I've never even seen it used in what I read.
You only read about sophisticated people.
> Ahoy-hoy!
@Randal'Thor Isn't that usually transcribed as "oy"? (But in Dutch, "hoi" is OK, it's merely informal.)
@Randal'Thor I think the site was much more active at the end of 2017 than now. New SE sites go through some sort of "honeymoon phase", which begins to wear off after a few months. They start with a a lot of activity, and that gradually decreases. This is reflected both in QPD numbers and in chatroom activity. At least, that's my impression.
2:14 PM
@ChristopheStrobbe The commonest spelling I've seen is "oi". To my English ear, "hoi" is slightly ruder than "oi".
@ChristopheStrobbe Now that you have over 5k rep, you can check actual data for that ;-)
@Randal'Thor I see. Well, since I never say "hoi" in Dutch, there isn't much risk of me saing "oi" in English. :-)
When I look at site analytics for the period 6 Feb 2017 - 31 July 2018, there is a clear drop in voting activity after 5-6 weeks. February 2017 must have been the strongest month in both question and answer submissions and voting.
After that, there were still many ups and downs, but the level of Feb 2017 was never reached again. There was a peak in the second half of July 2017.
We reached a very low level at the end of January 2018. We reached a peak in traffic in mid April 2018 which did not translate into more submissions or votes.
The analytics don't take comments or chat room discussions into account, though.
2:33 PM
February 2017 was very soon after the start of the site; I think the private beta period extended into February. We had an incredible amount of activity in the very early days, which trailed off as it does on many sites.
Peaks in traffic may correspond to Lit questions hitting the HNQ list.
I suppose there is no way to find out which questions reach HNQ Walhalla.
Often it gets mentioned in here.
A way of seeing HNQ history is a frequent meta feature-request, but maybe we've created our own informal one in chat :-)
2:48 PM
You'll know when your question has reached HNQ :)
@gerrit They don't always get ridiculously high votes and views. Would you have guessed that this went HNQ, for instance?
@Randal'Thor Yes; it's by far the most viewed question in the past days, 6× more views than the nr. 2 and 20× more than the nr. 3.
Fair enough.
3:25 PM
I never thought this was on topic here: How to travel with paperback books without damaging them?. (Found while browsing chat archives.)
@ChristopheStrobbe I don't remember if we had a meta discussion about those questions or if people just started asking them and nobody closed them, but yeah, our scope apparently includes care of physical books as well as the stories within.
This is the only relevant meta I could find.
There are a few that I can answer based on my own experience.
3:41 PM
@ChristopheStrobbe Oh! That's a good question, I've had that problem too. It annoys me only when it's library books, but then most books I carry are library books.
And not only with paperback books. I've had old library hardcover books with bad bindings fall apart (further) in my backpack.
@b_jonas Where I live, library typically have sufficient protection, at least for the cover. The difficult issue is preventing bending etc.
I see. I recently had a hardcover from the library where some of the sheets almost came loose. It was already in a bad state when I borrowed it. (It was Le Guin's Tales from Earthsea.)
@ChristopheStrobbe Sure, they eventually send the book to a book binder that replaces the cover and patches the other problems. But that keeps the book out of circulation for months, and I feel guilty for damaging what is not my property more than it's necessary.
The library does expect some wear on the books, but if I can reduce that in some way that doesn't hinder me too much, I want to.
I still feel bad when it's my book, but less so.
I respect books, in their physical form. And I really like the scene from Inkheart where this comes up. Basically, one of the main characters is a professional book binder, and his son has inherited his love of books. So when the son sends him a distress letter on what he recognizes as a sheet torn from a book, the father immediately gets worried, because he knows that the son wouldn't do that unless he was in really big trouble and no other choice.
Books are my favourite handheld devices :-)
@b_jonas Son? I thought Mo only had a daughter.
Has it been too long since I read Inkheart, or is this a Hungarian gender error?
@Randal'Thor Maybe it was a daughter. I don't remember.
3:50 PM
Meggie, the main character?
@Randal'Thor Yes.
Definitely a daughter then :-)
And yes, she's a daughter.
Sorry, I got confused. I read Drachenreiter right after, and that one has a male child protagonist.
I'll have to get another of Funke's books when I go to the library next time, because I loved these two.
5 hours later…
9:14 PM
Q: What’s up with Slothrop the paedophile?

fundagainSexual child abuse features centrally in Gravity’s Rainbow. While the sexual abuse of children is certainly a valid topic for a novel, I have become more and more disturbed by Pynchon's handling of Slothrop and Bianca. While I can justify the centrally themed child abuse in Lolita and Finnegans W...


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