Pick Up Another Epic Page Turner
So as you finish the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, you wonder, "What should I read now?" It's hard to compete with J. K. Rowling's 4,000-plus pages of magical thrills. She has done a brief follow-up called Tales of Beedle the Bard, which offers the full versions of some of the fables Harry learns about in Deathly Hallows. But there are only seven copies of Bard worldwide. (Amazon.com bought one for almost $4 million and has posted pictures and synopses on its site.)
Instead, keep an eye out for The 39 Clues, due in bookstores in fall 2008. That mystery series for kids is scheduled for 10 books, plus Internet and card collector games. —Kenneth Terrell
Go a Little Daffy
"What's up, Doc?" Well—for starters—Feb. 26, 2008, will mark the 100th birthday of animator Tex Avery, the man who invented Daffy Duck and gave Bugs Bunny that famous catchphrase. Avery died in 1980, but the characters he created and perfected at the Warner Brothers studio most likely will live (and laugh) forever.
It's appropriate that the feisty fowl would perhaps be the animator's most beloved invention. Avery fought against the realism in animation practiced most notably by Disney and let the characters go jaw-droppingly crazy instead. If you need a refresher, try the DVDs of Looney Tunes Golden Collections, Vol. 3 ($65), which features classics such as Robin Hood Daffy and Duck! Rabbit! Duck! —Kenneth Terrell
Upgrade That Old TV Antenna
After Feb. 17, 2009, most broadcast TV stations will shut off their analog signals, which perhaps 20 million U.S. homes without cable or satellite still use. But Congress will help you pay the $50 to $70 cost of converting old TVs for the new digital signals.
Each household can get two $40 coupons toward the digital converters. But the feds will mail the coupons on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications can be submitted starting Jan. 1, 2008, at dtv2009.gov or by calling (888) 388-2009. The coupons start going out in February, meaning you could enjoy crystal-clear digital TV a year early. —David LaGesse
Knit a Sweater, Hipster Style
Somewhere on the way to kitsch, knitting suddenly became cool. Witness a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal in December on "Sock Wars." A variation on the game Assassin, popular on college campuses, Sock Wars players essentially pair off in face-to-face death matches, racing to knit a pair of socks: Last one to finish is "killed."
Such competition is probably more pressure than most people are looking for, but there are other ways to dig into the edgy side of your grandmother's hobby. Books such as Anticraft: Knitting, Beading, and Stitching for the Slightly Sinister by Renée Rigdon and Zabet Stewart offer a start, with projects like "belladonna sleeves" and "pop art skulls" pillows. —Kenneth Terrell