Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Tree 2010

Every year, it seems, we do a different theme for our tree. This year, my son was able to help a little more, and he's also getting old enough to understand about Christmas. So it was lots of fun to come up with a theme he could appreciate: Candyland! We did a tree based on all those yummy treats found on a traditional gingerbread house, complete with garland that looks like frosting. Hubby and son put up the tree, then Hubby strung the lights, and while the little peanut napped, Hubby and I decorated the tree. When the peanut woke up, he was thrilled, and even more so when he got to help put the train underneath it and then play with the musical snowman sitting under it. So we now have the 2010 tree, the Candyland Tree:

Next year, we do a tree with the hubby's favorite pastime: fishing! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there who'll be spending tomorrow with the ol' turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. If you're on the road, be safe, and if you're hosting dinner, be sure to save me a plate! Yum!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Movie Review

*Beware Spoilers - Do not read if you don't want to know details!*

Went to see HP7.1 last night, or as anyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows it, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One." After the initial "wow" factor wore off (I didn't see it in 3D, by the way, but I bet it's good that way), I can safely say I rate it a 4 out of 5.

The movie opens with some wonderful detail on things we haven't yet seen in the Potterverse, most notably, Hermione's home and her parents. (Her room is so ORDINARY! It made my Muggle heart happy to see it.) We then get a look at Ron in his non-Hogwarts habitat, and also Harry in the now-vacated Dursley home. We only get a glimpse of the Dursleys as they scoot out of there, so my hoped-for semi-resolution with Dudley was absent.

The first real alteration of plot was that, rather than keeping Hedwig in her cage, Harry lets her loose before their departure from Privet Drive. Hedwig later swoops in to attack a Death Eater as he tries to curse Harry when they're escaping, and instead of dying trapped in that owl cage, she dies a hero (I cried, even though I knew she'd die, fifteen minutes into the movie--poor Hedwig, but such a heroic scene!)

We meet Bill Weasley in this movie, scarred from his werewolf attack by Greyback in the previous book (not shown in the previous movie). It's only briefly mentioned, and people who haven't read the books might be wondering how the heck Bill and Fleur wound up together and engaged. The movie does operate on the assumption that you have read the book, and haven't been living under a rock for the past ten-ish years where the Potterverse is concerned.

From there, the movie passes quickly on to the rest of the plot. They added a few scenes which I found awkward, but which will certainly make the Harry/Hermione fans happy. I see the reasons why they added these scenes, but I didn't care for them. After Ron's departure from the trio (er, now a duo), there's a new scene of Harry dancing with Hermione in an effort to cheer her up. There's a point during this scene where there's a clear attraction to Hermione on Harry's part, which she quickly cuts short. Later, you can see Harry having a moment of residual attraction, and she does the same. Hermione's all Ron's, and she knows it even during Ron's absence. After Ron's return, things go back to book, but the unfortunate problem with these added scenes, is that when Ron goes to destroy the locket Horcrux, the vision of Harry and Hermione intertwined actually has some validation, rather than being all in Ron's head. (Quite a racy scene, if you want the truth--there art the Harry/Hermione fans happy, again.) Romance-wise, there's much less Harry/Ginny feeling in this film than Harry/Hermione. That's too bad, because Ginny is then reduced to a convenient love interest.

Ron! Let me say how awesome Rupert Grint was in this movie. He stole the show, as far as I'm concerned, even if he wasn't in all of it. He's huge, too. Ron must be eating his Wheaties, because he towers over Harry and he looks like a tank. And he's got acting chops, that Rupert. Great, great work!

I really felt that, for the most part, HP7.1 felt more like a checklist of plot points than a cohesive story. The problem with cutting the book in two (it ends when Voldemort gets the Elder Wand) is that you don't get the beginning-middle-climax-end of a typical book or movie. This is just beginning-middle, and it feels just as unfinished as it sounds. The movie ends on a down-note, and I feel it would have served the story better to release the entire two-part film with an intermission, a la "Gone With The Wind."

In spite of all that, it's still a rocking good movie, and the kids of Harry Potter have grown into handsome/beautiful young adults. Again, I give it four of five, and I look forward to Part Two (still a disappointing half a year away, sigh)!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Public Speaking / RWA E-Pub News

Public Speaking

Anyone who knows me knows I have some funny pet peeves about the English language. I have no problem with slang and vernacular (like "ain't"), but they have their place. And it's not in the professional forum. There, the rule should be Handle With Care.

Yesterday I was listening to National Public Radio's news, and the deejay was speaking with an (if I recall right) ex-Senator regarding the Arms Treaty. The ex-Senator pronounced the word nuclear as "noo-kyoo-lar" something like fifteen times, and each time she did it, I cringed. This is a serious subject, and a person clearly familiar with the importance of nuclear weapons talks. One might consider how one sounds in such a situation, if one wants to be taken seriously--right? (The deejay, incidentally, said "nuclear" properly during this talk, and that didn't stop the ex-Senator from mis-pronouncing it. Which brings up another discussion point on listening skills, but that's another rant.)

What does this mean to you? Well, sooner or later in your professional career, you will have to write--or speak--publicly. Always, always think about the structure of your words, and if you're speaking, their pronunication and proper use. Language is fluid, and it should evolve--but proper English hasn't changed all that much in several hundred years. If you're hanging with your pals at a casual party, go ahead and use "ain't" if that's in your vernacular. If you're speaking (or writing) in a professional forum, make sure your words reflect that.

Handle With Care.

E-Publishing News

RWA has announced in the Hot Sheet from its November 13-14 meeting that they will be limiting their list of non-Vanity/non-Subsidy publishers to "those that have been in business for at least three years and are currently acquiring romance." This widens their playing field for non-Vanity/non-Subsidy publishers, but RWA hopes to keep its list of said publishers limited to those that have a track record. For more info, check the RWA website.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

B&N To Launch NOOK In Color

The new gadget currently making waves in the world of eReaders is Barnes & Noble's NOOKColor eReader. Where before we could only get our data in black and white, the NOOKColor will feature display in - you guessed it - color! You can click the link to learn more about it. It features a 7-inch color touchscreen, which is Way Cool. Hold onto your pants. It won't be long until we are using those dandy touch computers they have in the lab in "Avatar."

I still have my concerns about this summer's announcement that the Barnes & Noble chain has been put up for sale, but it's likely that with the release of this new NOOK, B&N is hoping to stay on top of the digital book revolution. To which I say, go for it! Where else can I sit down with thousands of books and a cup of Starbucks?