Harry pitter potter:

Barnes & Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

touts 360,000 preorders both on

and

off-line.

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

is somewhere at 300,000 -- or so it was a few days ago. I can't even believe I'm sucked into this craze, but why should my kid be any different? The good news, if these books have legs, is that we have an autographed edition of the first book. Picked it up at a local kids' bookstore in Glen Rock, N.J., two years ago after it came out, when nobody knew who J.K. Rowling was or what Harry Potter was. She was an unknown, reading excerpts from her book at my son's school earlier that day. He was so taken by the story, that he just

had

to go out and buy a copy at the store where she was signing autographs. (Or will this be like

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

... and years from now

nobody

will ever care! Any collectors in the house wishing to opine?) ...

Yahoot:

DBAlex. Brown

downgrades

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

. Stock is off. Was bound to happen. Nexxttt! Bulletin: As I write this

Larry Kudlow

is on

Squawk Box

saying that in the wake of so many dot-com disasters: "I hope investment bankers take their advisory role seriously ... and ... tell (prospective IPO) clients there has to be a biz plan ..." Oh, Larry,

dream on!

... Bizarre, how bizarre: If you haven't heard about the silly hoax regarding

Salomon Smith Barney

and alleged arrests at the securities firm in the wake of Jon Joseph's downgrade of the group yesterday, go back and read the string of posts by me and Cramer on the

RealMoney.com

Columnist Conversation. While it highlights the danger of message boards, it also underscores the temperament of this market.

Ding-dong: Is that what

Avon

(AVP) - Get Report

investors will be feeling like a few quarters from now? From the latest 10-Q: Inventory days rising. Operating cash flow falling. The best financial makeup can't help cover

that

kind of glaring trend. ...

Finally ... I've always said that if companies are going to get in trouble they had better hope they had treated their employees well so they don't go squealing to somebody like

me!

when things go wrong. (How do you think I've come up with some of these stories?!) Same should go for the way they treat their customers. In

all

the years doing this, I've never heard from so many disgruntled customers as I have from those who've done biz with

Computer Associates

(CA) - Get Report

. My little comment the other day that CA is a company investors love to love prompted one reader (we'll keep him anonymous to protect his job) to write: "I have probably negotiated more than $25 million in deals with CA over the past 10 or so years. Believe me, it is never a pleasant experience. I could tell the sales force was under intense pressure to close deals last week. All I will say is their efforts to articulate new product vision and benefits have left much to be desired. ..." Obviously not a happy camper. Now, of course, I'll probably get inundated, simply inundated, from happy CA customers. Go ahead, inundate. ... In the meantime, I gotta go out and snatch up a copy of

Scream 3

, so when we see

Scary Movie

it'll mean something. (Saw most of the others ... plus the Halloweens ... need this one to finish the series!) Saw

The Perfect Storm

a few days ago. Now I know why I don't fish. ... and why this is it for me until the next edition of ... The Hotline.

Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at

herb@thestreet.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.

Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.