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NEAL CONAN, host:

And an update on a story we're following here today at NPR News. A NASA official says it's likely that there will have to be several days of troubleshooting before the space shuttle Discovery can be launched. He says a Sunday launch is still a possibility, but a remote one. Stay tuned to NPR for the latest on this story as it develops.

We're still two days off from the worldwide release of "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Fans are finding numerous ways to endure the wait. Some are spending their time figuring out which Hogwarts house they would be sorted into. Translation for the uninitiated: Hogwarts is the school for wizards in training. Each incoming student must go through a ritual that involves donning a magical and very verbal hat which decides which house or community that student will live with while he attends the school. Here's how it went for the hero, Harry Potter.

(Soundbite of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"; music)

Mr. LESLIE PHILLIPS: (As the Sorting Hat) Hmm. Difficult, very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind, either. There's talent, oh, yes, and a thirst to prove yourself. But where to put you?

DANIEL RADCLIFFE: (As Harry Potter) (Whispers) Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin.

Mr. PHILLIPS: (As the Sorting Hat) Not Slytherin, eh? Are you sure? You could be great, you know. It's all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness. There's no doubt about that. No?

RADCLIFFE: (As Potter) Please, please, anything but Slytherin, anything but Slytherin.

Mr. PHILLIPS: (As the Sorting Hat): Well, if you're sure. Better be Gryffindor!

(Soundbite of cheering and applause)

CONAN: So which house do you belong in? Your choices are Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. Give us a call; we'll help you decide. Our number is (800) 989-8255. And we'll have some help deciding. Noah Reese is creator of the Hogwarts Elite Web site, and he is with us now by phone from Plymouth, Pennsylvania.

Good of you to join us today.

Mr. NOAH REESE (Creator, Hogwarts Elite Web Site): Hi.

CONAN: So what sort of personality goes into which house?

Mr. REESE: Well, we'll start with Gryffindor. Someone who is bold and passionate and outgoing would go into that house, whereas Hufflepuff is someone who's loyal and hard-working. Ravenclaw is someone who likes to learn for the spirit of learning. And Slytherin is someone who's ambitious and subtle.

CONAN: And underachievers and guys who don't like to hang out, they don't count?

Mr. REESE: No.

CONAN: They would get--I gather the word for that is squibbed.

Mr. REESE: Well, in the community I run they would.

CONAN: What's the community you run exactly?

Mr. REESE: A Journal community called Hogwarts Elite. It's--LiveJournal is a series of online bloggers, and this community--people have to fill out an application and then they're sorted by the members of the community into one of the four houses.

CONAN: Well, we're gonna have a little test of this process. We're going to be joined by listeners who are curious about which Hogwarts house they might end up in. And we'll ask them some questions, or you'll ask them some questions, Noah. Let's begin with Matt, and Matt's calling from Charlotte, North Carolina.

MATT (Caller): Hello?

CONAN: Hi, Matt.

MATT: Hi.

CONAN: So, Matt, you're a young wizard on your way into Hogwarts. What are you personality traits?

MATT: I'm smart, athletic and brave, I guess.

CONAN: Brave? Well, Noah Reese, is that enough for you, or do you need to know more?

Mr. REESE: Well, it depends on--Do other people perceive you as brave, or is it just your own personal judgment?

MATT: Other people do.

Mr. REESE: OK. Most likely you would be a Gryffindor, but there's a lot more that goes into it than that. Not everyone is black and white.

CONAN: Well, what are some of the other questions you might ask?

Mr. REESE: What do you think your top five characteristics are? What house do you not want to be in?

CONAN: Ah, which do you--Matt, do you not want to be a Hufflepuff?

MATT: I don't want to be a Slytherin. They're bad.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: That's all right. So he doesn't want to be a Slytherin. Does that factor in how?

Mr. REESE: Well, sometimes it's how they answer the question more so than what they say that tells a lot about a person.

CONAN: Ahh. In what respect? I mean, are there people angling to try to maneuver their questions to get into one house or another?

Mr. REESE: Sometimes people do that. Most of the time the members catch on and try to give them an accurate sort without the push.

CONAN: Uh-huh.

Mr. REESE: But it's more so--like, someone can say that their top five characteristics are stereotypical for, say, a Gryffindor, but it's the way they write it. They could have a more analytical aspect of the writing and end up sounding more Ravenclaw.

CONAN: Hmm.

Mr. REESE: It's more so how you write it than what you present.

CONAN: Well, Matt, provisional Gryffindor, thanks very much for the call.

MATT: OK. Bye.

CONAN: And I hope you like the book when it comes out.

MATT: Me, too.

CONAN: We're talking about the new "Harry" Potter book and about the Hogwarts Elite.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's get another caller on the line with Noah Reese. This is Tazim(ph) (pronounced tah-zeem). Am I pronouncing that correctly?

TAZIM (Caller): Tazim (pronounced tah-zim).

CONAN: Tazim in Jackson, Michigan. Go ahead.

TAZIM: Hi. I was just wondering what house I would belong in.

CONAN: OK. And again, I think we're beginning, Noah, with what five characteristics would describe your personality.

TAZIM: OK, I'm terribly loyal, extremely generous, very shy, introverted and very loving to the people that I love.

Mr. REESE: Yeah, you would definitely be a Hufflepuff.

TAZIM: Oh, great. Thank you so much.

Mr. REESE: That's not necessarily a bad thing.

TAZIM: No, no, it's a good thing. I mean, I didn't say thank you so much in a sarcastic way but a good way.

CONAN: Thanks.

Mr. REESE: Those five traits just scream Hufflepuff.

TAZIM: Thank you so much. I appreciate you taking my call.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

Mr. REESE: You're welcome.

CONAN: Now it's interesting--our earlier caller suggested that they didn't want to be in Slytherin because, well, they're bad. They don't come off too well in the books, but as I understand it, they've kind of gained a reverse cache of sorts.

Mr. REESE: Yes. We--in the community, we try to go more on what the traits would really be as opposed to what they're seen through Harry, Harry's perspective...

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Mr. REESE: ..and so we don't go by stereotypes. And since the Slytherins in the book have a stereotype of just being evil, we try to avoid that by showing that they're not.

CONAN: And--well, there's also some people who like the reputation of being a little bit evil. They would like to be in Slytherin.

Mr. REESE: Yeah, most of the times when someone applies who's like that, the members can kind of smell it as fake and they'll end up not accepting them.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line, Nicholas. Nicholas of Redwood City, California, is our newest Hogwarts initiate. Nicholas, what are your five top personality traits?

NICHOLAS (Caller): Well, I'm very outgoing. I like to talk. I have a lot of friends. You know, like, I like, you know, taking walks and stuff and being with my friends. I don't like being alone. It scares me.

CONAN: Hmm. Gregarious then.

NICHOLAS: Do what?

CONAN: Gregarious. You like being with people.

NICHOLAS: Yeah.

CONAN: OK. Any ideas on that, Noah?

Mr. REESE: Does--do you like school?

NICHOLAS: Not really.

Mr. REESE: Do you play sports?

NICHOLAS: Well, if the school makes us, I do, but not on my own.

Mr. REESE: You kind of seem like a Gryffindor.

NICHOLAS: I'm a Gryffindor?

Mr. REESE: Yeah, I think so.

NICHOLAS: Cool.

Mr. REESE: Yeah.

CONAN: Nicholas, you looking forward to the book?

NICHOLAS: Yes, I am, actually.

CONAN: Uh-huh. So sometimes some books anyway you'll read eagerly.

NICHOLAS: Yeah.

CONAN: All right. Good luck.

NICHOLAS: Thanks.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

NICHOLAS: Bye.

CONAN: And let's see if we can get one more in before we run out of time. And this is Calvin, Calvin calling from Plymouth, Minnesota.

(Soundbite of radio chatter in the background)

CONAN: And you have to turn down your radio, Calvin.

CALVIN (Caller): Oh. Hi. Hi. It's Calvin from--it's Calvin.

CONAN: Yeah.

CALVIN: My personality--I was listening so you--my personality traits are I'm very generous--I am generous. And--sorry, I'm hesitating.

CONAN: Because you've got your radio on, Calvin. You got to turn it down.

CALVIN: Yeah. OK. I'm kind of hesitating because this is really cool. I'm generous, I hate horror movies, and it's--and I love science and math.

CONAN: Science and math. A student then. What about that, Noah?

Mr. REESE: What do you want to be when you get older?

CALVIN: I want to be a physicist.

Mr. REESE: I kind of think that you would be a Ravenclaw.

CALVIN: OK.

CONAN: OK, Calvin, now you have to turn down your little brother.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CALVIN: OK. Bye.

CONAN: Bye-bye, Calvin. Thanks very much for the call.

And as I understand this process on your Web site, once people are sorted they earn points for their team. How do they do that? They do that in the books, obviously.

Mr. REESE: Well, once they're admitted to the community, there are about maybe 10 different contests running at all times and there's essay contests, fan fiction contests, trivia contests, graphics contests, and they can earn large amounts of points just for participation.

CONAN: OK. Noah Reese, thanks very much for joining us. And it's hogwartselite.com. Is that the...

Mr. REESE: No, it's on LiveJournal.

CONAN: Uh-huh.

Mr. REESE: It's livejournal.com/community/hogwarts_elite.

CONAN: OK. And we'll get that Web site address up on our Web site later today in case you didn't scribble it down fast enough. So check out our Web site later today and--well, you still have hours before the book comes out. Noah Reese is creator of the Hogwarts Elite Web site.

This is NPR News.

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