In Hawaii I read the first two Harry Potter books, and now I'm barreling into the third, finally tossing aside my long-standing opposition to getting involved in this particular cultural phenomenon. I'm enjoying the books. I'm not loving them. I don't think they're the greatest thing to happen to the world since chocolate donuts. I don't think they're revolutionizing the literary universe forever. There's much in the books, from what I've seen so far, that is derivative and/or formulaic. I still like Chuck Palahniuk better. I do, however, hope that J.K. Rowling ends up richer than Oprah. We had dinner with some friends last night (I ate sushi!) and I think one of them put it best: "I like Harry Potter books. They make me feel smart."
DON'T READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE BIG SPOILER IN THE LATEST BOOK.
But the real point of this post isn't to come out as a nascent Harry Potter fan. The real point is this shirt, a relatively recent offering from perhaps my favorite online merchant that I've never actually purchased anything from. When I first saw that the shirt was for sale I thought it was a dumb idea, since anyone who would really be upset about learning that information from a t-shirt probably read the whole book the day it came out anyway. But the T-Shirt Hell newsletter still contains vicious and distraught e-mails from people whose lives have been ruined by visiting the site, and that's comedy.
A similar phenomenon unfolded at Something Awful, where the mercurial title of the FYAD forum was changed to "FYADumbledore Dies Because Snape Kills Him" the day the book came out. Very quickly the forum began to fill with threats of murder and suicide.
These are the little bits if inconsequential assholery that make my bellybutton tingle.