Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I've read "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," and my review is below. It contains spoilers. But before I get to that, I'll share an interesting Potter-related press release I came across.

Interesting study from MU released today: Apparently, Rowling's portrayal of journalists doesn't affect college students' perceptions of journalists.

You know... Rita Skeeter, Xenophilius Lovegood and the like. One's a fame-obsessed chronicler who alters the truth and uses unethical methods to get the story, the other publishes the wizarding world's equivalent of the Weekly World News. When those two characters aren't mentioned, the media seems to be in the pocket of the government and/or mired with incredulity. Rowling's books are not very kind to journalists.

At least doctoral student Daxton R. Stewart was careful to ask more than 650 non-journalism students on the MU campus how they felt about journalism and if it was really as horrible as Rowlings portrayed. Of course, the results came back in favor of the media. Note how the press release refers to "first year students," not "freshmen." How Hogwartsish.

But why does this release suggest that media are a little wounded Rowling's treatment? First of all, it's hard to find ANY fiction that is kind to journalists.
Nothing against Stewart's study, which is no doubt interesting. But Rowling's portrayal is hardly unique, and nothing compared to the fictions about journalists spoken often by many talk-show radio hosts (despite the large amount of content newspapers provide their shows).

Secondly, and more importantly, Rowling isn't very kind to many careers and vocations. Look at her treatment of government officials: Both of the Ministers of Magic in the seven books are detestable, and it's hard to find anyone in the Ministry, other than Arthur Weasley, who makes us admire a position with the state. Barkeeps and/or restaurant owners aren't exactly role models. Bankers? They're goblins. Even authors get a bad rap. Remember what happened to Gilderoy Lockhart?

We in the media tend to do our share of navel-gazing. If we're bent out of shape about Rowling's treatment of journalism, then we're probably a little too sensitive.

Here's a message for those who predicted Harry lives, and those who predicted Harry dies: You're right! I predicted back in December that Voldemort would hunt Harry and that the book would focus on the construction and history of Hogwarts. Wrong and wrong. I can admit it.

I can also admit loving this book. Since I am a Potter fanboy, I can forgive little quibbles, such as all the confusion over the wands, the excessive angst over Ron leaving, the cheesy way he came back, the emo-style burial of Dobby (contrasted with the "whatever" treatment Fred Weasley's death earned) and the weird, hurried way the war at Hogwarts started.

One of the main gripes seems to be over the epilogue, "19 Years Later." For fans wanting to say goodbye to Potter, this was a hurried shove out the door. What happened? Did he become an Auror, a teacher at Hogwarts, the star Seeker of the Chudley Cannons, the new editor of the Daily Prophet? All we know is that he still dislikes Draco Malfoy, he married Ginny and -- most importantly -- he lives happily ever after. It's likely that Harry's life turns quite dull after destroying the greatest dark wizard of all time, leading Rowling to believe that "Harry Potter and the Numerous 401(k) Rollover Forms" is a story best left untold. BUT GIVE US SOMETHING, FOR THE LOVE OF MAD-EYE!

The epilogue (here I go with unbridled speculation, AGAIN) leads me to believe that Rowling will not stop writing stories about the beloved wizard.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Sure looks that way, according to this picture from this week's Christian County Headliner News. The story is about an upcoming rubber-duck race. The photo looks like it could feasibly be about this movie.

That, class, is the reason news photos should not be doctored. Good Photoshopping is invisible. Bad Photoshopping is hilarious, awful or both.

Full disclosure: I used to work for a sister newspaper of the Headliner, so here's my guess of what went wrong: The photo was actually a photo illustration, with text placed on top of the photo once it was imported into layout software. And the Web site's layout doesn't show cutlines or identify who took the photos (huh?). But, only the photo was updated to the Web site. I haven't seen the printed edition to verify this, but I'll find out. Editor Donna Osborn is one of the best in southwest Missouri, and I can't imagine this running on the front page on purpose.

Still, it's a hilarious picture by itself.

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A Carthage student is appealing his suspension over a gun-related incident. Susan Redden writes the story in today's Globe.

In a nutshell: Junior Stefan Hukill fired an Airsoft pellet gun at a friend in May. He was on Main Street in Carthage, his gun was clear plastic with an orange tip and fired a little rubber ball. The incident happened during lunch, but Carthage has an open campus for lunch.

The junior will effectively stay a junior: He has been suspended a full year for the incident. Hukill thinks that's too harsh -- especially for an incident that didn't warrant any criminal charges.

The Carthage school board went into closed session to discuss his appeal, despite pleas from Hukill's attorney to keep the appeal public. I understand that the board was within its rights, but just because governments CAN close certain things doesn't mean they SHOULD. If Hukill was wishing public exposure, it should have been granted. Instead, the Carthage school board appears to have egg on its face.

Is this an over-reaction by the board fueled by Memorial Middle School, or is there more to the story regarding Hukill's behavior? What will the board decide?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I can see my grammarphilic friend Red Pen Inc. cringing over that headline, and how it uses a made-up word.

Only, it's not. "Ginormous" is in the 2007 edition of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, along with "sudoku," "crunk," "hardscape," "perfect storm," "Bollywood" and "nocebo." Strangely enough, the definition of "crunk" doesn't say anything about an awful-tasting energy drink pimped by a Southern rapper.

Now, if only M-W would designate "grammarphilic" as a real word...

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Thursday, July 05, 2007


The Mailbox will be off on holiday for a few days. I don't plan on posting, so check back around July 16. I'll bring y'all back some seashells.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Happy Independence Day. I can think of no better way to celebrate our independence than by thanking our forefathers for the First Amendment's freedom of speech and reminding everyone about the freedom of information.

On this day, 41 years ago, a brilliant piece of legislation was signed into law. Ending a trend of the government hiding its business from the public, the Freedom of Information Act allowed people to know more about their government, their taxes and what their elected leaders did in their name. Since then, states have followed up with their own versions. Missouri has its own Sunshine Law, and every citizen should be familiar with it and FOIA.

You'd think that with the advent of "e," information would be even easier to access. Not always true in some cases. Wired presents a wrapup of the top five wins and losses for FOIA dealing with electronic means. Sure, Wired pats itself on the back, but the story is a handy reminder of what our government thinks applies. Then again, a Wired blogger says how he really feels about the act.

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Monday, July 02, 2007


Dagnabbit. I got tagged for another vicious meme. This one: "Eight things you'll regret asking about." So I have to write about eight things that are deep, dark, TMI blurbs of info? Fine, Ron. But I'm not telling them about the photo shoot using clothes from Town and Country.

~ I am scared to death of bees, hornets and anything stingy, even though I wasn't stung by one (four, actually -- plowed through a nest of bald hornets; they weren't happy) until I was 33.

~ I am a huge gamer: I spend way too much time playing and collecting Pirates of the Spanish Main.

~ I am completely awed by my girlfriend and her capacity to care for others. I feel like I take advantage of her, because I don't feel like I could ever love her as much as she loves me.

~ I grew a beard because a girl broke my heart.

~ The next girl I dated I treated like absolute horse manure, because I wanted to break a heart for once.

~ I once asked the president of the University of Missouri about relations between Mizzou and Mo. State a year after the name change -- in a room filled with journalists and graduates of Mizzou.

~ I met Joe Satriani, got his autograph and blubbered like a moron. When I heard him play "Flying In A Blue Dream" live, I cried.

~ I have Reggie Bush's autograph on my Saints helmet.

Alright, Sniderman, Randy Turner, Secret Drinker and Red Pen, Inc. Your turn to dish.

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