Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Spam In The Place Where You Live

OK, I've had enough. Who decided I need this many credit card offers, emails with the subject "Hi" from people I've never heard of, phone calls asking for donations ... and heck, I'm a woman - do I need offers for male enhancement? Ugh - what cosmic spam list did I get on this week? And this is with our house being on the Do Not Call list (http://www.donotcall.gov in case you, too, are suffering under the strain of nonstop phone calls - just don't register under an email address you plan to use a lot, because I have heard they grab that and you'll get e-spammers from then on).

First, I should tell you that I am on the phone eight hours a day. The last thing I want when I get home is a pushy telemarketer trying to pick my pocket. They seem to enjoy giving vague non-answer answers to "Who's calling?" and "What do you want?" Someone somewhere must have incorrectly told them that the longer they keep me on the phone, the more likely I am to say, "Sure, let me empty my wallet for YOU, buddy."

Don't get me wrong. There are many worthwhile charities to which I am willing to donate. After 9/11, I sold a ton of collectibles and donated part of the profits to the Red Cross - and that came to a nice chunk of change that I was more than happy to give away. I've done some other, smaller things too, for charities I believe in - but the difference is, they don't keep calling me and nagging me to do so. Telemarketers turn me off, whereas I have a good friend who seems to enjoy scaring them into never calling her again. (Maybe I should take lessons.)

There is no government agency to stop junk mail at this time, though there is a way to get on a regulated list with your address that prevents junk mail for a time. (Through the Direct Marketing Assn, I think, but don't quote me.) The feds really ought to get on this, though, and stop this unnecessary killing of trees and manufacture of plastics that will never be used. (I'm a tree hugger, yep.)

Anyway, it was reaching the point where I had to vent or explode. So there you have it. I live in Spamville this week. :P

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Mom and I are big Harry Potter fans, so my kind, wonderful, considerate, also HP-fan DH watched the peanut while Mom and I had a night out and saw the movie.

Wow. This is the best one yet, folks, and I risk the wrath of Potter-book purists by saying it may even be better than the book! (Sorry, JKR, but "Phoenix" was my least favorite of the series.) It has managed to retain Harry's emotional upheaval of "Phoenix," the book, while trimming down to the essentials for movie format. Some things have been changed or omitted, of course (no time for Quidditch in a movie like this - yes, Weasley is our king, but he'll have to keep his crown offscreen).

But if you're anything like me, this movie will leave you stunned and speechless. It's got everything. Furthermore, the soundtrack is a beautiful mix of the first movies' wonder, and Goblet's unsettling darkness. Best one yet on that, too, I think.

In short, go see this movie. Twice. And maybe twice more. Buy popcorn to throw at Umbridge when she comes onscreen.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Predictions

For years, I willfully ignored Harry Potter. But people talked about him. And talked about him. And ... you get it. By the time "Azkaban" came out, I caved in to curiosity and bought all three books. I stayed up really, really late every night reading. JK Rowling reached out and Super Glued my eyes to the pages. Mom read them, and then I suckered my husband into it. ("Read page one, honey, I dare you.") He now reads them more often than I do. This is Mr. I Hate Reading Anything That Isn't Muscle & Fitness.

What makes these books so gripping that kids (and adults) who hate to read are turning onto them in a frenzy of midnight book parties? The shipments need security guards--SECURITY GUARDS--to protect them from theft by anxious readers. JKR, can I borrow your life for a while? :) "Half-Blood Prince" is one of only two books that have ever made me cry ("Where The Red Fern Grows" is the other), so you can imagine how eagerly I await "Deathly Hallows."

Which brings me to the point: my predictions for book seven. Who will die? Voldemort, surely. You don't write seven books about fighting the good fight and not let the heroes win at the end.
But not without cost. My bet is on one of the Weasleys. If it were me, I'd choose Percy or one of the twins. What more heroic act than for self-centered Percy to realize the error of his ways and die defending his family? And could you get much more tragic than taking only one of the twins and leaving the other?

I DON'T think it'll be Hagrid, and I'm sure she'll let Harry, Ron, and Hermione live. (Unless she wants a storm of hate mail from her readers.) Likewise Ginny. The girl's got moxie, and I get the idea she'd be the last one standing if the whole world blows up. Plus, being a romance writer, I'd really, really hate it if Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione didn't come through OK.

Who's R.A.B.? Well, for various reasons, I'm 90% convinced it's Regulus Black. JKR doesn't just deus ex machina her way into a plot twist. She leaves clues, couched in wording that makes a reader gloss over that part and come back to it going "HEY!" when she reveals her surprises. And for an ex-Slytherin, ex-Death Eater to be the pivot-point for Voldemort's downfall? This is just tooooo good.

Speaking of which ... Snape. Dumbledore trusted him. I trust him. Nuff said.

Enjoy the wait, and I might see some of you at the bookstore on July 21st when we find out the answers (and in the meantime, "Phoenix" is out on the 11th to whet our appetites)!