Monday, April 27, 2015

Tanks For the Memories

AKA, "Dash experiences DABDA" (the Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief/loss--denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.)

Okay, another new favorite episode of pony.

-REFERENCES, REFERENCES! We had that distinctly Abbott-&-Costello-y bit about Clear Skies, Open Skies, Everywhere, & Fluffy Clouds (cool designs & voices for those characters, too)...Dash's Grinchy grin when she gets the wonderful, awful idea to stop winter from coming...and of COURSE, "Winter is coming." Well played, Hasbro. Way to reference GoT in a manner that should (hopefully?) sail right over the heads of any kiddies who might happen to be watching. ;-] I had said that, too, during the song--"Face facts, Dash. Winter is coming!" Just couldn't believe they did it.
-We learn more about how the change of seasons works in Equestria (from autumn to winter, anyway.) The weather is all on us Pegasi. B-) Maybe more of us should have names without any form of "sky" or "cloud" in them...
-WHAT AN EMOTIONAL EPISODE. Most of them end on an upbeat, comedic note, but this one was saddish. At first Dash just seems bound and determined to deny the obvious because she's looking forward to doing all kinds of awesomely-fun, primo wintertime stuff with Tank. But her concern for him is touching, and this was supposed to be their first winter together. Suddenly she learns that they'll never be able to enjoy her favorite season (good choice there, btw) together because he's got to go bury himself underground, and they'll be separated for months. She feels kind of betrayed, even though she knows it's not his choice to burrow in the dirt and leave her for a little while. And she thinks preventing winter will be doing him a favor. Now that is loyalty--trying to prevent the seasons from changing for your friend's sake. 8'-| Her seemingly infinite waterworks aren't too far off of what mine'd be, faced with the prospect of not seeing one of my woof-woofs for a whole season. At least in her case, Tank knows what's happening and isn't being left somewhere without understanding why. It's his instinct, and he can't ignore it. For a moment I wondered whether RD would pull a Sandy Cheeks and try to cram in as much makeshift winter fun as possible before Tank headed off.
-Rainbow Dash solo. YES. And it was beautiful. ;u; Not another "Awesome As I Wanna Be" sort of tune, although I do love that one.
-"DO I LOOK ANGRY?!?" *rageface* >8-( "No, no, of course not, not at all, Dashie!" *sweatdrop* ^.^; XD *squiggey Applejack lieface*
-"You too?!" "Nope, I'm good." "I'm mostly sad because you're not sad!" "Me?! What about Applejack?!" "APPLEJACK CRIES ON THE INSIDE, TWILIGHT!" "It's true."
-"You're using the word! Oh! She's using the word!" ^w^
-Tank's PJs and slippers, omfg. Gotta get Ulla some slippers made in my image. Plus some ingenious flight gear.
-CLOUD WALL. PINKIE PIE WALKED THROUGH DASH'S BEDROOM WALL. BROKE RIGHT THROUGH IT. While Dash was feeling so "whatever." Time to get a second, non-hibernatory pet! That scene was so good. Dash's wailing sobs would make a good .gif to express feels of extreme sorrow. I liked how Twilight pushed Applejack forward like, "Go on, Honesty." AJ clearly felt awkward. xD But as soon as Fluttershy joins in the weeping, Pinkie and Rarity can't help topping off the heap of bawling equine emotional wrecks. Then when Dashie says, "Oh, Tank...I'm sure gonna miss you," and they lean their heads together...MANLY TEARS, THEY HAVE BEEN SHED. *,-,*
-Disguising yourself as an employee and causing a chaotic catastrophe--another Lucyesque move, Dash. I applaud you. And another "What have I done?!" moment for you. However, even if you were willing to try and use that arduous method to bring about winter every year, I'm not sure you'd be able to recreate that precise series of events.
And yes, winter=water.
-Question: They do have a legit veterinarian in Ponyville, right? I mean, Fluttershy is more of a holistic animal nurturer/whisperer/daycare-type-person than anything...she isn't a licensed vet...and Spike may be an expert on BEING *a* reptile (same family, yes; very different genera & species), but...geez guys, find an actual vet. (And I could hear the Pinkie Pie in Flutters' voice on the "teensie-eentsie-weentsie" line. ;)
-Believe I spied Sprinkle Medley, Sunshower Raindrops, & possibly Strawberry Sunrise among the backgrounders.

ETA: Some reactions to the midway-point of GoT, Season 5: "Kill the Boy"...ooh, even the episode titles giva ya the chills!

Whole fam seems to agree: Daenerys>Team Stannis>Boltons >P< BLEHCK!! Especially on Ramsay, one of the most despicable sleazebag creeps right along with the late Joffrey...although the "How can you tell she's pregnant? How did you find it?" was pretty funny.
Stannis scored a couple points in my book with that "fewer" (he literally echoed me.) And "Keep reading" was good advice to Sam (<3!)  But still: GO DANY GO. <333 "If I give everyone what they deserve, I'll have no one left to rule." XD Good point. Best line!! Or one of 'em. Tyrion can always compete. (Damn, those two should be unbeatable once teamed...) 

Hoo, boy, look what's a-comin'. Stannis vs. Roose, a Meereenese wedding, Brienne & Sansa (hopefully--and also maybe some Pod-training!) 8-O
The show will go on forever at this rate, though, and I think we're already halfway through S5...XD What will come first, book #6 or Season 6?!? I keep waiting for the major, major stuff from book 5, and now we finally got Tyrion on a boat with the Stone Men attacking (the whole boat sequence in the book is rather lengthy, and involves his dwarf THAT coming?) What happens to Cersei should be as satisfying to watch as it was to read. But man, ever since Brienne Vs. Sandor, it's felt almost like anything goes! Because there are still two unfinished/unpublished books of source material, even the readers are liable to be surprised at any moment. I hope Varys shows up with Dany soon, because he rocks (and seems like a more fun traveling companion than Jorah. No offense, Mormont. I still like ya.) D-'8 at the ending, as usual...
Shippin' Missandei & Grey Worm! ^u^
Love Davos & Shireen together, awwww...hehee. Her mum don't know nothin' 'bout her own daughter. ;p

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 ~ ****, 2 thumbs up

[really, really, really long review/commentary]

Mandatory spoiler alert--this is more of an in-depth, analytical synopsis/response suitable for those who don't mind being spoiled, or have already seen it & read the novels.

I've recently become a big fan of this series, and I was very highly impressed with this film. It's a change of pace from the prior two, but I absolutely love it when a great epic story gets darker, deeper, and more intense as you go. The Hunger Games is a truly worthy successor to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (let's just forget that Twilight even made the attempt.) And this is the start of Act II*, where all heck begins to break loose and you can sense that the proverbial fan is about to get hit big-time. [*Or perhaps Act III if this isn't a musical--what do you mean, this isn't a musical?! That was all in my head?! Confound it...]

Having read the brief criticisms of Part 1 (virtually all claiming that "nothing happens," "there's no action, they just talk," and "Katniss spends the whole time moping or whining over Peeta"), I had to wonder how it was possible that such viewers had seen the same film I did. Maybe it's an attention/memory-span thing. Overlong? Hmm. Had I not been watching on the floor, I'd have been edge-of-seat riveted. I didn't want it to end, and would have much appreciated an extra half-hour.

The worst thing about it is the agonizing wait for Part 2 (currently a 7-month one...aurgh!) All I can say there is that the next one had better deliver, by being the mind-blowing, explosive, fast-paced, 3+-hour extravaganza promised by the buildup of tension and ever-increasing stakes of the third installment. Of course, readers are aware that there is simply no way to be prepared to witness certain, er, upcoming events...but let me put it this way: Complainers about Part 1's "slowness" will be pleading for its sweet mercy again come November.

Additionally, the split was completely necessary. Although the third book isn't significantly longer than the others, it simply contains too much for a single film. It was possible to condense the Games and everything leading up to them twice...but to go from Katniss not wanting any further part of a rebellion, to the end, in one shot...the scale's just too great. Too much takes place. How rushed, undeveloped, non-informant, overwhelming, and "way too easy" it'd feel if they attempted this as a single movie. Several hours, and probably an intermission, would be needed anyway. (Hrm, maybe a THG miniseries or something is in order...or at least graphic novels?)

Just about every cast member gives a noteworthy performance. They and the director seem to truly "get" the characters and what makes them tick, which comes across in interviews as well as the films. So, we rejoin our protagonists in District 13--yes, the one thought to have been completely obliterated three-quarters of a century ago. In truth, this militaristic district has since been more or less thriving in a subterranean fortification. They're austere, but for a self-sequestered, long-thought-extinct district, they've got some fairly impressive high-tech weaponry (even nukes.) Which is because they used to be the Capitol's weapon designers. 

Our main character, the former celebrity, is wounded, damaged, and hurting. She and Finnick are in fear for their loved ones, Peeta & Annie, who were scooped up by the Capitol following the Quarter Quell. The leader of 13, a stern and enigmatic woman by the name of Alma Coin, wishes Katniss to be groomed into the Mockingjay symbol--but only once convinced that she, rather than Peeta, is the right "Chosen One" for that position. For a bit Kat's very reluctant to get on board, but eventually agrees to comply if her personal demands are met (and the demands, including their delivery, are terrific.) From the start, all she's wanted was to protect her loved ones and herself--not to spark rebellion or incite civil war, not the responsibility of rallying a nation, and certainly not to start keeping a "personal kill count" that's escalated into the thousands. "Why, oh, why didn't I run away with mah two bois, Prim, and Mum when I had the chance?!"

She takes a devastating trip back to her now utterly demolished native district, 12, to take in the ruins and skeleton-littered rubble. (And also to bring back some stuff from her house, including Prim's disagreeable cat, Buttercup.) 9.15% of the population survived (you did your best, Gale. Well, sort of. You DID conveniently "forget" about Peeta's family.) Anyway, speaking of whom...early on we can tell that the Katniss/Peeta/Gale "love triangle" isn't going away, but luckily no one else really pretends that it should be their main focus, or take precedence over what's going on in Panem at large. Plus, I'm sure most of us could see where that was going before we finished reading.

For most of this film, Katniss' main job is to star in "propos"--propaganda commercials for the rebel cause. She's introduced to her film crew, of whom the most endearing member is a bearded ginger Avox named Pollux. The rehearsal scene is humorous, as it becomes rapidly clear that this scripted Katniss is one awkward, stilted actress (it's fun watching J-Law pretend to be bad. Also cute to see Effie trying to be all supportive and encouraging, but with a look on her face that says, "...Crap, this isn't working.") The girl's only hope of being taken seriously is to witness firsthand situations that'll evoke genuine feeling and passion, so she'll be spurred into saying something she really means.

One such situation is a visit to a District 8 hospital full of badly wounded folks, where she has to lie about losing the baby she never conceived. When the place is bombed and destroyed, Katniss is spurred to deliver the kind of powerful, inspiring monologue her group was looking for. It's turned into a "Join the Fight" propo and broadcast, and she's become that galvanizing figurehead. Other key action sequences include the killing of Peacekeepers by a bunch of District-7 lumber workers, and the explosion of a dam that knocks out power to the Capitol. So, lots of explosions for those who can't get enough of them--but they're explosions with a plot-advancing purpose. Oh, and the "Hanging Tree" song? Very haunting. J-Law's got a real nice voice.

One advantage of the film is the fact that we get to periodically pop into the Capitol to see Snow. Ahh, Snow. Calculating, speech-making, frozen-hearted, public-execution-ordering, Everlark-shipping Snowy. Sutherland does a fantastic job with this guy, whose first name says it all with its last four letters. He's got a couple of close confidants called Egeria (neat name) and Antonius, who're nice touches. So, after deciding on the right word for those against him ("radicals"), he expressly and officially forbids association in any form with the Mockingjay symbol. Friendship with Katniss Everdeen now amounts to treason, most grievously punishable. (Note what his granddaughter does as he issues his declarations.) Snow really does appear to wish that he could, as Johanna Mason suggested, simply throw all these people giving him grief into the arena and kick back with a big ol' bucket of buttered popcorn.

Meanwhile, Peeta is repeatedly interviewed by a more serious (but still groovy-looking) Caesar Flickerman. At first he's an honest voice of reason, pleading for diplomacy and peaceable behavior. By the third broadcast, though, he's starting to look rather poorly and say things that make him sound like a traitor to his friends. Is he under some form of duress, or
perhaps brainwashed? We can tell that something unspeakable has begun happening. The fact of the matter is that the poor boy's being hijacked--the government pulling its own sadistic form of Clockwork Orange on him, until he's classically conditioned and reprogrammed into the perfect anti-Katniss/Mockingjay basketcase-slash-weapon. Egads!

At the end of one transmission, Our Peeta breaks through and issues an urgent warning--13 is being attacked! You'll all be dead by morning! Sheet! What follows is an intense evacuation scene in which everyone descends massive staircases further down into the earth. The extra few minutes afforded them by Peeta make the difference, and nobody is killed; they weather the explosions that rock the fortress in an even danker, drearier, oxygen-reduced bunker environment. They stay there longer in the book, but the scene on film is just as good, providing an appropriate sense of stifling, suffocating claustrophobia down there. Prim revealing that she's being trained as a doctor, easy amusement at the teasing of Buttercup with a light...and speaking of those two, Prim has been called an idiot for going back to save the cat. I can't take that view, since there's no way I'd ever have left my dog behind.

So, as Katniss & Company rise from the depths no worse for wear, she's consumed with thoughts of Peeta...and decides that she wants to drop the whole Mockingjay thing, because keeping it up will result in his further torture and alteration. Coin sees that it's time to get bread-boy over here--along with Annie and Johanna, per the agreement. Gale is the first volunteer for this recovery mission, which proves suspiciously easy. Dun, dun, dun.
Skyping with Snow, Katniss tries to nobly offer herself in Peeta's place, but is shot down. There's a horrible moment where she thinks she's lost both of her best male friends, and potential love interests, at once.

Beetee is the invaluable "tech guy" on the team, without whom their messages wouldn't be able to reach an audience--and Katniss wouldn't have any explosive or incendiary arrows in her quiver. Finnick is broadcast giving a shocking expose; he reveals scandalous facts about the prostitution/selling & objectification of Victors, and the reason behind the "He drinks blood?!" bit in Catching Fire (big secret: Snow poisoned his way up the ladder of power, allowing himself to develop permanent bleeding mouth sores to avoid suspicion. Hence the fragrant white roses that are his signature, calling card, and favorite way of communicating with Katniss.) Aside from perhaps Snow's own immediate family (perhaps?!), no one is ever truly safe from his wrath. Everyone is at his mercy, and most of the characters are victims.

Mercifully, the film doesn't end on "the strangle," and the reunion of Finnick and Annie (*preferred ship name="Annick") is adorable. The actual conclusion to Part 1 involves a neck-braced, red-eyed, horrified Katniss, a thrashing, isolated Peeta, and a heck of a speech from Coin. She talks about justice and never giving up the fight, how they are now all "one people, one army, one voice," whom will "become an alliance to be reckoned with." She foreshadows the first segment of Part II--they're going to set out to conquer the government's principal military facility in the mountains of District 2. Dun, dun, dun...! *shiver* (Nooo, you can't stop now, things are just heating up!! Graah!)

Now Philip Seymour Hoffman, rest his soul, was the perfect Plutarch Heavensbee--a highly "creative" gamemaker, now working with another president to engineer a different sort of game. He's genial, persuasive, and capable of skillful manipulation. Julianne Moore struck me as ideal casting for the part of Coin; she pretty well nailed it. Natalie Dormer comes in fresh from another epic story about a game in which "you win or you die," but sports a considerably different look from Margaery Tyrell: She's Cressida, the partially-shaven and tattooed film crew leader. All in all, the additions to our core cast are solid.

To me the most fascinating character is Effie; physically and emotionally, her arc is dramatic (though not in the simplistic, sudden way most people assume)--and Banks continues to play the role hilariously, heartbreakingly well. 

     So, the girls of "Team TEAM" (Trinket+Everdeen+Abernathy+Mellark) were, wisely or not, uninformed of the plot beforehand. Now they need to be brought up to speed, filled in on details, and come to grips with the grim realities of Panem's current state--in order to make their choices.
    At first the little refugee feels imprisoned, worried, and alone in this extremely strict, confined, dank, uniform, and monochromatic society, where the simplest things are disallowed. (She's actually accustomed to some of that, but in different forms; this kind of exposure to a society like 13 is a bit of a shock.) Loath to be seen--especially bare-faced & wig-free in her baggy, admittedly less-than-flattering regulation jumpsuits--
and insistent on covering her hair with a large bandanna, she hides in her quarters until Plutarch comes to see whether he can coax her out. He quickly confirms what she already knew--that she has officially and voluntarily relinquished that privileged, more sheltered life she's known. But now, Thirteen seeks to recruit both Katniss and herself, as the "face of the revolution"--a savior of sorts--and adviser thereto. They can be irreplaceable parts of this movement whose time has come. Of course, she's initially hesitant and unsure--but soon she's in. She won't be the one to break up the team that was basically her idea in the first place.

So she lays it on the table for Katniss, literally: The aim is to restore democracy to the nation. (Bring back 'Murica, perhaps? Doesn't sound toooo bad right about now, eh? Y'all can be signers of a new constitution, and reserve rights for the people in the precise numerical quantity of "hella"...) Effie shows Katniss the Mockingjay suit design sketched by their old friend Cinna, who was so brutally beaten to death before Katniss' eyes immediately prior to the Quarter Quell. They've got the suit ready for her, if she'll accept. It was definitely a good call making the guys able to get Effie away from the Capitol early on, so that we get to see her in action alongside the rest of the gang, rather than waiting for the reunion near the end of Part 2. Even hearing a gritty account of her off-screen experiences would be less satisfying than this development.
    It makes sense that they'd want her, if possible, over simply kidnapping the less-useful cosmetic prep team trio (whose primary book scenes were there to hammer home the disturbing, foreboding similarities and parallels between 13 and the Capitol, Coin and Snow...which I anticipate being even more evident in Part 2.) As it is, they're still trying to mislead those who don't already know what's up (aka, those who didn't read/don't remember the books well)...throw them off the scent, if you will...;) She's a good substitute for a somewhat extraneous and similar "Plutarch's assistant" character; even if a few of the retained comedic lines seem forced, they work thanks to skillful acting. And it all means a whole lot more coming from her--someone who genuinely cares about Katniss, who also knew and cared for Cinna.

Still relatively vivacious, chirpy, and a little bit sassy (like her friends!), Effie always has been pretty good about trying to optimize lousy circumstances. She tries to give her confidence a slight boost (and incidentally make her utilitarian jumpsuit look some 75% cooler) via nicer, somewhat chic-er styling and combinations of such elements as a headwrap-bandanna (gangsta!), her own shoes, a glovelet, bangles, rosy-tinted glasses (yes, underground; suh-wag! xD well, I guess the lights down there are pretty harsh & glaring), the tunic/poncho/cape over the thick grey leggings (& stirrup pants?), or a black sweater draped over her head (possibly borrowed from a certain, *ahem*, "associate??") Grey becomes the new fuchsia, or...something...and she adapts. (Quite well & quickly, it must be said, for someone used to a more extravagant culture and suddenly being asked to join in an incredibly dangerous war effort in one of the most austere places imaginable. She's got some spunk, not to mention the purest of hearts.) It's fun to see her get a wee bit creative with more limited materials. Gotta hand it to Coin for apparently figuring it best to just let her get away with the minor additions/tweaks/modifications, so long as she wears their stuff and basically blends in. (I mean, you can take the girl out of the Capitol...) [I could & have gone on for ages about the significance and symbolism in Effie's costumes, her development/progress, and so forth; that's for my Hayffie/THG documents. Oh, Effs, you're beautiful--no matter what you've got on your outside.]
Effie's also tougher than one might have thought--but then, "Fe" IS the chemical symbol for iron. As the film progresses and her eyes are opened to some cold hard truths, we see her coming to embrace a new identity--as revolutionary, full-on rebel, wind beneath the wings of the Mockingjay.
    As always, Effie does her very best to be as helpful as possible. Her trust in Plutarch seems to increase, but it still remains to be seen how much faith she's got in Coin to lead them. >;p It really is nice to see her so much earlier than in the text, where she's imprisoned and we don't know what's happening to her, which is worrisome--indeed, for a while Katniss believes that she may well have already been executed. (Thankfully she survives, with help from Haymitch and Plutarch, but remains enshrouded in mystery. Katniss mentions the potential need to let Coin know that she was on their side.) Like the author, I'm delighted that we finally get more of her, but I do honestly have to hope that they're able to somehow address the original situation--for the sake of unity, completeness, and blank-filling. There are just ever so many possibilities, honestly, for how everything could go, that I almost don't even want to think too much more about it...and yet I do...and yet I don't...because I'll most definitely go mad long before November.

And then there's my other favorite--good ol' Haymitch, who's experiencing some difficulty and displeasure of his own in adjusting to total sobriety...but managing, and
doing a darned good job of dealing with it. (After all, it's mandatory in 13, but he chose this; running a revolution calls for a clear head.) While Effie hides, he's being "dried out." But he and she act just like protective, proud parents toward Katniss. (It's the Capitol-bred Jabberjay, the wild mockingbird, and the resultant mockingjay!) There's a very cute scene in which he basically takes on the role of a teacher at a digital blackboard (*wipes screen clear* "Hope that wasn't important"--lol!), and Effie is the eager (and a bit titillated) little teacher's pet. They share a somewhat surprising, delightfully flirtatious & funny/adorable moment, and...oh, yeah, Hayffie confirmed for my new OTP. Each light-heartedly but (finally!) publicly, openly claims to prefer the other this way--closer to their real and genuine, natural selves...a raw, "just you", perhaps it's for the best that they've been stripped down & laid bare like this. Divested of their usual fronts--his liquor and her masks ("over-the-top, wild" outfits, hairstyles, and makeup)--it's almost as if they're being reborn, so that their truest selves can begin to emerge more fully than before. I really do love those two; they are just full of surprises. And after all, "like you better" implies what we already knew: that they've truly (like-)liked each other all along. ;D (What an understatement "like" is!!)

More philosophically...there is always a very real possibility that a second rebellion will fail, leading to unprecedented levels of oppression, suffering, and destruction. There's the fact that civil war will inevitably cost thousands (possibly millions?) more innocent lives...the chance that one bad system will be replaced with another...that the world will be plunged into sheer chaos...or indeed, that mankind in "North America" (or whatever they now call this continent--is it all just "Panem," like Australia?) will be essentially annihilated. On the other hand, the big picture is becoming clear. Snow's evil is unchecked, his "peace" maintained at high costs. It isn't simply about abolishing the games anymore. The games ostensibly exist to protect an established system of law and order that's neither peaceful nor just; it may in fact be corrupted beyond salvation. Those who would like to see change for the better may finally be faced with a feasible opportunity at last, if enough citizens can be persuaded as help dismantle the oppressive establishment board by board, saw the (NON-MAHOGANY!!) tables of tyranny in half, etc...even if some do have their own personal agendas as motivation to overthrow Snow. 

With regard to the overall series...I like each book and movie so far. I found the first two books to be approximately equal in quality to their adaptations. Both versions have their strengths; I adore how the movies bring these characters and the story to life, but naturally, the books provide a lot of "bonus" scenes you wish could have been depicted on film. I appreciate how faithfully the source text has been followed, and was able to thoroughly understand and enjoy the first two movies before being compelled to read, in order to glean all the information that had to be omitted. The premise itself is intriguing, and the characters have that magical quality of seeming very real. I have to share, however, in the general consensus that Mockingjay is the weakest book of the trilogy.

It's by no means a bad book--just not, in my opinion, as good as the first two. It necessarily has a bit of a different structure, and a larger scope. The bones of it are great. However, it felt as if the author were uncertain of how to handle this section of the to play it out, and especially, how to wrap it up. I got the sense that perhaps she just wanted to get it done and published. It's still, of course, a more than worthwhile read. The benefits are all the additional details which explain or provide insight. They're often the things that don't translate well to  the audio-visual version because they'd require a narrator, or would bog it down too much. Still, they do make you wish that they could be included in a brochure with the film, to inform or remind viewers of what's not seen or heard onscreen!

While few gory details are spared, many others are. Surely the YA reading level has something to do with the frequent feeling of rush, vagueness, and glossing-over. The ending and bittersweet epilogue are particularly sparse and, frankly, on the *really* depressing side. I understand that by that point, our narrator is drained and burnt out, and hardly bothering to learn or share much with us. That helps to explain the extreme lightness of detail, which almost seems like a setup for subsequent elaboration. But it's tough on such detail-oriented fans as myself, who must always know absolutely EVERYTHING. Readers are left with so many burning questions and ponderances (we didn't even learn the names of the Everlark children until later on.) And the matter of whom or what ultimately took out Snow is one of about nine hundred things it'd be super-swell to know.

Basically, these characters and this story are worthy of Harry Potter- or Lord of the Rings-length books, and I felt distinctly unsatisfied after all that the story had done to me. "That's it? So open-ended? It feels as though we should be waiting for another." With Part II of Mockingjay, I'm not asking for a future that's all sunshine and rainbows; that'd be totally unrealistic --I just very much hope that things are fleshed out for us in a much more satisfying manner. The brief summation we got barely gave a taste of the "new world order." Overall, the book is a blend of strengths and weaknesses--a great many strong, very well-written passages, interspersed with lesser bits.

So the benefits of this film, which covers almost the first half of the book, are numerous. For one thing, we're no longer 100% locked inside Katniss' head--seeing only what she sees, knowing only what she (thinks she) knows, and receiving everything exclusively through her point-of-view filter. This forces one more than ever to think well beyond the text itself and--as per usual with first-person narrators, especially of the YA variety--keep some salt grains handy. Don't take everything for gospel. Yes, we remain tethered to Kat throughout the film, but are at least allowed to see a bit more so long as it relates directly to her. All in all, the film provided a better perspective and made the story more engaging, exciting, suspenseful, and thrilling. It permitted greater development for everyone else, and flowed well from plot point to plot point. There's nothing hugely wrong with it, and they again made up with various excellent scenes for the things that had to be left out. At the same time, I could have used another 20-30 minutes, since I was pleased with the way that it actually expanded, enhanced, elaborated--and in some ways improved. Of course nothing is perfect, but the cast and crew make valiant efforts to approach perfection.

Changes made from text to screenplay were largely wise. I think there's just enough wiggle room and space for revision to think that even we readers can expect some (hopefully awesome) surprises. Yet, I believe we should continue to anticipate the core plot and major events and developments remaining intact (e.g., I'd see little reason to hope for the sparing of doomed people or to fear a survivor biting it.) So far, Mockingjay is still proving a powerful and effective story with a large scope and intriguing war commentary.

The biggest omissions from the source material include Madge, Darius (aka 'the cool Peacekeeper'), Bonnie & Twill, Peeta's prosthetic leg, Katniss' hearing loss, explanation of the use of fallen tributes in creating mutts, and an explanation of the mockingjay's origin (well, the latter was a deleted scene that didn't work.*) Oh, and the fact that arena mutts can be created from like, slightly-resurrected dead tributes--but that concept would've been understandably difficult to get across to a film audience. Would've been awesome to see, though.

At first a couple of those seem like fairly significant points, but ultimately, their removal isn't of tremendous consequence. The story isn't really too hurt without their mentions; it's not hard to accept that a lot of important things do have to happen off-screen and/or go unaddressed. The films succeed by, for the most part, leaving out only that which isn't totally crucial and can be concisely summarized, touched on, or implied in some other ways.

*Because Plutarch wouldn't require an explanation of the species, soooo.......although I totally see why they discarded that, I wish it could've been worked in somehow. Idk how, because it's just a known thing in their world, so how do you reveal it without breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience...maybe someone could be heard explaining it to someone young enough not to know yet, or whatever. Even if Madge had made the films, she wouldn't have explained it... :/ (Again, that brochure wish...!!!) The films merely convey the sense that the Capitol didn't really care for mockingjays all that much, for some unprovided reason.
Certain deleted scenes were removed for clear reasons (too contrived or silly/goofy/out-there or what-have-you)--while others can be assumed to have happened, basically as filmed, but simply couldn't be fit in for one reason or another, or didn't add enough to the movie to be as necessary as the rest. In the director's estimation, anyway.

THG Images w/ My Captions/Descriptions [1 album+5 subalbums] 
MJ1 Costuming Concept Art 
THG Zodiac Chart 
Hayffie Board 
More-Than-Hayffie Board 

Cutie Map: Parts 1 & 2

Well, now that I've got save this kinda junk...the Season 5 premiere of FiM was exceptional!! (And GoT returns in two days!! Gaaaahhhhh, my Throny-Brony tinglies are being thrown into maximum overdrive!) Anyhoo. Yeah, that was a mature two-parter; I feel as if adults would get more out of it than kids. The theme was an amalgam of every dystopian tale you've ever been made to read in middle or high school, plus some you may have read voluntarily. "Someone's been reading Ayn Rand," I had to think.

So, Twilight's new home (supposedly we're getting an emotional goodbye episode to the old treehouse library with the secret science lab underneath?? Oh, maaaan!!)...the magical map...hope Spike didn't actually kill Pinkie's family by crushing their miniature representatives. (Because what if the map is like the Hunger Gamemakers' virtual arena models, and Twilight can use it to control the entire country...?! Aiight, I needa get THG off the brain for like, five minutes. Can I do that? I have no idea.) The map is clearly possessed of a mind/magic of its own, though, too, so I don't know how much control Twilight will really have.
Sooo, Spike's spending guy-time with Big Mac now? How cute. xD

"Maybe it's just your new home, and there ain't nothin' more to it than that!" Yeah, I love how easily AJ can accept being plopped into a new home--or rather, a FRIEND being plopped. 'Magine her reaction to getting plucked from Sweet Apple Acres!

And then...road trip time! To Creepyville! Thanks a lot, Map...but at least you don't chant your name 14 times before sending us off to some lame dump? (I can appreciate Dashie's constant disappointment over the lack of anything interesting or exciting.) That is, until Pinkie Pie evolved into Donphan and used Rollout; it was super-effective!!

Now, whether it's fruit bats, or Discord, or a peacefully brainwashed village...Fluttershy always seems to be the odd one out with her opinions. Because she wants to be so very understanding and sensitive and accepting and welcoming toward everyone--sometimes inordinately so. But at least she's no longer afraid to share her viewpoints, whether she's agreeing with everypony else or not.
But straight away, Pinkie gets a gut sense of distrust toward the whole seemingly normal, quaint town because all those giant grins and plastered smiles feel unnatural and off-putting to her--the queen of happification. The residents are walking around acting more like robots than ordinary ponies. Pinks be like, "Don't'cha be starin' at my flank, creeper! I'm-a quote Hamlet at y'all freaky faces!" Gotta love her expressions of disapproval. Logical Twilight notes the most obvious sign of the place's unusual nature: Everypony's got an equal sign for a cutie mark. And the same exact equal sign, no less.

Starlight Glimmer's hair DOES resemble Aria Blaze's, but I assume that if the Equestria Girls characters are going to show up in the series, then the Dazzlings...well, actually, would they still be sirens now? Or just turn into normal ponies? Oh, the ponderances! Answer them, show! I think I'm leaning towards them being ponies--but they regain their musical abilities on a normal level (i.e., good singers who don't cast evil spells by singing.) Duuuurrrr, where was I...? Oh, right. Hasbro, if you ever need any entry-level studio folk with Media/Film degrees, PLEASE do hit me up. It'd be a dream come true.

Yes, I greatly like the way they melded all of their inspirations into one--the town, the song, the individual characters that we meet...all very effective. I mean, I just recently saw The Giver, which was excellent. (Not to mention how I couldn't help noticing that Meryl's Chief Elder and Julianne's Coin could be sisters...'specially with the severe-looking sheets of possumy-grey hair...xD)
Sugar Belle with what I'll bet are probably the worst muffins in Equestria (talk about your baked bads!)--soon as she told them to meet her inside, it was like, "OOH, SHE A REBEL, HUR-HURR." 

I like the teal Pegasus' design. (And Sugar Belle's--but holy wtf, she looked NOTHING like her former self while de-marked. I didn't even recognize her.) Party Favor & Double Diamond are cute, too. I absolutely loved "In Our Town." (Which is a nameless town, apparently. Well, that seems rather fitting. The residents distinguish themselves in nothing BUT name, and if Starlight took that one step further, you'd HAVE Anthem!) Anyway--musical tours, whoo!! The lyrics are awesome. I particularly liked the anti-competition verse sung to Rainbow, as if they know her (well, by now everypony in Equestria SHOULD know her...and the rest...but how much of the outside world are these residents ever allowed to glimpse?) "You can't have a nightmare if you never dream."

"When the rest of Equestria sees that a princess gave up her cutie mark to join us, they'll finally understand what we're trying to accomplish." ._. You scare me, lady. Is she for real?! "WE ARE BORG. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED. RESISTANCE IS FUTILE." Free-thinking, individuality, and uniqueness must become exactly like every one of us, or we can never be friends...

The way Starlight forced the one mare's mane into the standard braided pigtails...that was like whoa. 

And also, my obsession compels me to view her and the town as sort of the MLP counterpart of Coin and District 13, although Maud Pie bears a greater physical resemblance. xD Oh, Maud, how I adore you. You understand the obsessive. :'} I mean, even old Alma's not that whack, but just the idea of non-regulation clothes/hairstyles. (Although the town and its female residents do also call D12 to mind somewhat, especially with that common hairstyle.)

"We have...cloaks. And...muffins." Oy. XD Loved the dialog outside the (sorry excuse for a) bakery. "That and two bits'll getcha a cup of cider." My dad uses that old coffee line. And Pinkie's "What? I'm hungreeeee!" *slumps onto table, staring at Twilie* Adorable!
"I think we're being watched." "What makes you say that?!"
"I've accidentally eaten cardboard tastier than that!"
In the basement, the trio starts advancing on the mane six, trying to fake us into thinking they're either going to break into a malevolent "B-Movie Show"-esque song or steal their cutie marks right then and there. But no--they just want to talk about how dream of having theirs back, but don't dare to actually even request it. Nope, the actual trap is later, and (GODDAMMIT, PINKIE) far from being a glorious experience, the Cutie-Unmarking actually looks to be a rather painful, miserable process. Obviously they all succumb to Starlight's enforced lifestyle eventually, but thank Celestia (literally, I suppose) that our heroines are here to save them all from continued BS! 'Cause it starts working pretty quickly. Their colors become subdued, Rarity thinks hideous drapes are nice, Pinkie loses enthusiasm for fun, and so forth. 

"Meh, sorta...more pleasant than fun, I guess..."

"Oh, even tweets don't make sense anymore!" But Fluttershy, most never did!

Oh, the suspense when poor "easiest convert" Flutters was put on the spot!! And the constant auditory indoctrination/propaganda over the loudspeakers was great.
"...all that our little village has to offer." ...which ain't much! Unless you like revolting muffins, burlap cloaks, and bare, primitive cottages!

"Everypony is equal--but some ponies are more equal than others."
Turns out, of course, that Madame Dictator's conformist bullcrap rules don't apply to her. That is some powerful-ass magic she's got, to literally be able to steal one's identity and force them to live under false harmony. I mean, when you can take away Applejack's ability to countryism...! People are getting both "Communist" and "Nazi" from Starlight (not to mention cult leader), and frankly, they just bent the spectral line so that both extreme ends met and became one.

I'm gonna hazard a guess here that Starlight's never been appreciated for who she is, so she worked at developing magic that would permit her to become a leader to those she could convince of her peace-through-sameness philosophy.

Absolutely love the balloon-animal cutie mark/talent/binoculars/bridge. And the chess mark, and a few others in the vault (lollies! Puppy in a party hat!) Anyways...'kay now, I can only assume that we haven't seen the last of Starlight. Villains rarely make singular appearances, and thus far we have a nice roster going on the League of the Reformed...will she join? Will Twi's wise words get to her at all and start working their magic? She gon' tink 'bout it? And the most obvious question--where the hay'd she go? They didn't even try to follow her through the cave system, so, guess we'll just have to find out somewhere down the line. Even if it's in a comic.

-Pulsating cutie marks; "My cutie-butt-sense is tingling!" xD Well, that oughta be useful. And potentially annoying. AND WAS THAT DIAMOND MINT AT THE END, WTH, SHE MOVED INTO THAT STILL-NAMELESS TOWN?? ...Aiight, whatever...time for some "Friendship Is Witchcraft," "The Mentally Advanced Series," "Rainbow Dash Presents," & .MOV series, because they are all impossibly hysterically hilarious. 

Eta: Just saw Feeling Pinkie Keen yet again, and thought this:

Spike: Can you DO that? Can you explode twice?
Primrose: NO.
Katniss: Mother of fuck, the only reason I volunteered and started up this whole godforsaken mess in the first place was to protect that little shit-luck charm. x____x

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Frozen Fever & Cinderella (2015)

Frozen Fever: Absolutely adorable!! I loved everything: Olaf's hilarity (especially his inability to read/spell), the cuteness of everyone and the long-overdue sisterly bonding that the little books have been trying to show...the Snowgies, Oaken's singing and his awesome mobile kiosk (including its own sauna!! How amazing)...bouncing the bike down the staircase, Sven's insane cake-slicing power, etc., etc. "Making Today a Perfect Day" (or whatever the official title'd be) was a catchy, cute song that carried the "Anna's birthday" plot well. Poor Elsa, of course--but it ended sweetly. And by that, I of course mean Hans' comeuppance. Okay, so it was a very mild comeuppance for his crimes; I'd have expected Elsa to, realistically (not that Disney would wanna be too explicit about it) recommend his execution or some more torturous fate than manure-shoveling...but all the same, it suits the guy. A shitfield of shitpiles is an appropriate environment for him (Shiiiit Pickle, Shit Pickle-Pickle-Pickle!), and it should prevent him from ever being able to attempt such treachery again. A shitty punishment, plus an added insult from Elsa (unintentional, unless she has absolutely extraordinary aim? Well, either way, I'll take it!) Also: Sequel confirmed. Yes. Yes, my designs on world domination are coming together splendidly...this, Finding Dory (!!!!! asdfghjtyujhgfc!@#$%^&*!!!!)'s all so momentously, mind-blowingly exciting and wondrous. DRY BANANA HIPPY HAT!!

Cinderella: This was a great adaptation of the fairy tale! Well, it followed the storyline of the beloved Disney classic--rather than the original tale, as in Into the Woods. The line about one stepsister threatening to claw the other's eyes out made me think, "Foreshadowing?!" But, no. The most violent and unpleasant this movie was going to get was its display of Lady Tremaine's outrageously abusive cruelty...and her in all her cold, heartless, total ratchet bitchness.

The beginning had the sweet, peaceful, golden serenity of many a romantic British film. (Cinder)ella at least got to enjoy a lot more of her young life this time, with both parents around, than the animated one did. Oh, the sadnesses, though! First her mom, then her dad, then the prince (Kit)'s dad...'twas almost too much to bear. I feared my tears might stain my petticoat (seriously!!) No, for real, it was very, very 'motional.

The "animated real animals," especially the mice, were delightful...though I wonder what made them change Jacques into Jacqueline. But no matter. Big old tubby Gus-Gus stole the show. Obviously they were robbed of the ability to sing, dance, and make dresses, so their role as "Cinderella's funny little furry friends" became simplified. The biggest thing I missed because it WOULD have fit into this live-action version, however, is Bruno the hound dog.

What else did I love? Ella's successful plea for the stag's life! Because the royal hunting party was just out mindlessly "doing what's done," primarily for recreation...certainly not for survival. The fact that she briefly encountered and got to know Prince "Kit" Charming on a meaningful level prior to spending more meaningful time with him at the ball. (Not that I find animated!Cinderella's true love unbelievable, but the elaboration here is especially good for the benefit of those who scoff at the prince falling so quickly for with the beautiful but random girl.)

The dynamic within the castle changed significantly. Derek Jacobi played a great king--not all comedically rotund and bombastic like the animated one, but still with enough good humor (and dat facial hair that I found somewhat reminiscent of King Goofball)--even in the face of his impending death. (*le sob!!*) He believably comes around and changes his mind, insisting that his son wed the mystery girl from the ball. Awww. The power of Cinderella's pure goodness! Now, the character of the Grand Duke...I know him as the scrawny, slightly bumbling, but sincere and noble man from the classic. Here, his role became a shady fellow willing to make dishonest side deals with Tremaine. Always on Kit's side was the newly-introduced character "Captain" character, who knew all along how things ought to be play out, and helped ensure that they did exactly so. (Oh, and I'd remiss to omit the deliriously funny portrait-painter. Nice little addition there!)

I honestly found Lady Tremaine to be even more attractive than Cinderella, but that hardly matters (or is perhaps appropriate), because the victor of the external vs. internal beauty match-up would be clear from light-years away. I'm very sorry that she lost her husband, and that her new one would never love her the way he loved his first wife or his daughter...but there was too little room for sympathy. She made no attempt at deepening her relationship to Cinderella's father, or bonding over their mutual losses; she cared only for the man's wealth. She then made the gentle girl's life a veritable 24/7 hell, deliberately seeking to destroy what was so good and pure and innocent in her because she so resented it. But then, that ending! Wow. "I forgive you." No stronger way to show that Cinderella has triumphed, unequivocally, and without sacrificing who she is. It makes one wonder to where Lady Tremaine whisked her daughters off, when they were apparently never seen again. Did her inability to break Cinderella and turn her into a miserable wretch have any effect on that woman? On her daughters? Ever? Were they capable of change? I'd suspect that the stepsisters would be more pliable in that regard, being younger...and also products of their mother's upbringing. It's no wonder they were such insufferably nasty, selfish, snotty, repulsive brats. Still, I love-love-love the Anastasia/Baker redemption story in the animated sequel and prequel, which also seems to lead to Drizella questioning her mother's ways.

I DID enjoy the stepfamily, actually. Their costumes--always pink for Anastasia and yellow for Drizella, with fun bold patterns, and the shades of chartreuse and green on Lady Tremaine. I really adored their clothing. Of course, they were supposed to look garish and out-of-place in contrast with Cinderella's light, frilly, more countrified and little-girlish dresses and colors. (It was almost like the difference between Capitol citizens and, say, Primrose Everdeen...although Cindy's impressive estate would make the Victor's Village homes look humble.) The stepsisters were fun, really. Their Disney-film names and even corresponding colors stayed, but they chose not to cast actresses "uglier" than Cinderella. Which was a good move, because again, it allows for greater emphasis of Cindy's inner beauty, which should be the deciding factor for the prince. Drizella's still a singer on Lucy Ricardo's level (aka, "bull moose pulling his foot out of the mud"), and Anastasia's portrait-drawing skills are...well, honestly, superior to what most people's would probably be, even with her kind of leisure time to practice. It still wasn't as flattering an image as I'd have liked, either.

The dress-tearing scene I expected to be a bit more violent (as the animated one is a swirling horror show that reduces the entire thing to rags), though it was still shockingly evil. However, the ball itself's a grand spectacle--from the palace to the costumes to the dancing.

Helena made such a wonderful Fairy Godmother that I almost didn't even miss our beloved grandmotherly "Bibbidi-Bobbity-Boo" one. Her transformation into "youth and beauty" from a haggard old crone brought to mind the Witch from Into the Woods. ;) The lovable footmen lizards and coachman goose (yep, most definitely a goose!) underwent highly creative metamorphoses, retaining some of their original species' traits even in human form. 
(But Cindy, how is it that you're unacquainted with cantaloupe?!?)

My favorite lines included (possibly paraphrased):
"Just because it's what's done, doesn't mean it's what should be done!" Cindy's an idealist, but how VERY true.
"This is perhaps the biggest risk any of us will take: Being seen as we truly are."
And of course: "Have courage, and be kind." That's a great deal summed up in five simple words. 
I very much like the song "Lavender Blue," as well. (Burl Ives! <3)

When I heard that some feminists had denounced and protested this movie, I was...well, maybe "surprised" isn't the right word. I'm absolutely a feminist (or humanist/egalitarian, whatever your preferred term for someone who believes in simple gender equality!), but I can understand that the fairy tales involving more passive, demure heroines are not inherently bad or damaging. Their morals are very bit as valid and important as those of later stories featuring more headstrong, aggressive, independent-minded, or "badass" females. There's no one right way to be a girl; "Cinderella" does not for a moment purport that all women should strive to be just like its heroine. Cinderella is a single individual person. One may perceive "weaknesses" and flaws in her, but that is true of any good character. You can see her as someone who just accepts what life throws at her without a fight or a stand of any kind, slaving away pointlessly for her abusers until she's rescued by a man. Still, she does do what she can to seize the opportunity for happiness when it presents itself. In the pursuit of her dream, she doesn't just toss her hands up and surrender, leaving it to someone else to come along and "save" her. She does take action; it just isn't the "epic badass" kind.

          Her ability to remain a kind, sweet, merciful, loving person in spite of her suffering and torment is a testament to tremendous inner strength. A weaker person would have been broken by it--possibly even become a malicious, cruel, embittered monster herself. One could wish for a more proactive role model than Cinderella, yes, but she is not a poor one. Unless you idolize a "Mary Sue," any character you choose is going to have faults one wouldn't want a young girl (or anyone) to emulate. In the end, it's more than obvious that Cinderella & Kit are destined to be the fair, just, righteous, yet merciful rulers any fairy tale or real-world kingdom would desire. 

And frankly, every female character doesn't have to suddenly be "the strong, tough, cool, kick-ass girl." Because while those are great traits to have in a well-rounded character and I do tend to love that type, nowadays it eventually turns into the same boring one-dimensional token thing inserted over and over again. Because feminism. Your female audience oftentimes winds up identifying with the more varied male cast anyway. (The mostly-male-with-a-girl-or-two-tossed-in character cast format is commonplace.) We're getting better about the whole bogus idea that female-led or mostly-female casts can only appeal to female audiences, while the opposite appeals to everyone...but 'tis still an issue.

Bottom line: The new ones may be great, but the animated classics are the bomb-diggity-shiznit forever and ever. 

"No matter how your heart is grieving, 
If you keep on believing,
The dream that you wish
Will come true..."

Reacting to: "Reading With a Vengeance" (The Hunger Games), & a little free Kindle book (on the subject of THG)

READING WITH A VENGEANCE--THE HUNGER GAMES: THIS. PERSON. Is the Angry Video Game Nerd of books...holy schnikies. Her chapter-by-chapter reactions to The Hunger Games are as difficult to stop reading as the books themselves. I have to say that, in my view, maybe half the observations/questions/critiques are easily understood or addressed from within the text & films or by extrapolating, and drawing logical conclusions without being forced to assume too many unknowns or make too many unlikely leaps. The other (roughly) half? Are completely legitimate, valid criticisms. The blog was an entertainingly worthwhile read, for sure.

I mean, this person LOATHES the fucking shit out of Katniss. And Peeta. And sometimes Gale. I'm talking hates, despises, detests, reviles, abhors, holds these guys in contempt! She tears the main characters to shreds every couple of paragraphs. In the case of Katniss...I think these books are just plain too short and simply-written to give us EVERYthing we would want or expect to see, especially when you're looking THIS deeply into every last little line and detail, and nitpicking to such a degree. We're meant to assume--*I* assume!--that Katniss IS feeling badly about bad things, well about good things, etc. Her apparent lack of thought or feeling throughout most of the books is, I believe, intended to be filled in by the reader's vicarious emotions so that the text can focus on forging ahead to the next event or scene. We have to determine which things are merely Kat's opinions at the time, which things are being objectively described as opposed to admired or judged or what-have-you, which things are being described the way some non-Katniss person would (e.g., the "sexy" theme was chosen for Glimmer, so it wasn't really Katniss implying "slut" there), etc., etc.
I'm not saying this extreme reliance on the reader's hoped-for intuition is a good thing, or a great way to much as I admire Collins for bringing us these characters and this world, I still concur that there are great many ways in which the books could have been improved. (Which would inevitably have involved lengthening them significantly.) The third one, especially, is lacking, and bespoke some uncertain, tired, incomplete authorship.

*Yet the vengeful reader asserts that Kat has a Mary Sue-ish quality in her indefinable "spirit," a vague "extra-super-special-snowflake-ness" that allows everyone to be floored by her incredible awesomeness without her actually doing anything of particular worth on her own. It just naturally makes her the center of the universe so that absolutely everything has something to do with her. It elevates her above everyone else so she can judge them, and tell us highly questionable things (but for the sake of simplicity, she turns out to be right about certain stuff even when that seems unrealistic. That's the phenomenon known as "Magic Knowing Powers." Of course, it always pays to be skeptical of a first-person narrator's unproven assumptions, but that's especially true in this case.) She protects herself and the few people about whom she cares, but somehow no one has ever before performed any of her simple, yet oh-so-"special" acts. I have to admit that this "trope" of making the young hero out to be so superior and extraordinary is a little annoying. However, Kat sort of does have her own "side" in Mockingjay; there are almost as many "sides" as there are people. (Although that could also be referring to GoT, eh? Or even our reality.)

Obviously the majority of fans and main characters love Katniss, and that includes me...but again, I can like her without disagreeing with this blog. The writer did a good job justifying her reactions.
There were only a few little bits I didn't quite understand (e.g., the thing about "explaining would be well-intentioned but wouldn't really help you," or some such? Was kinda like, "In what sense? Y'mean the overall scheme of things? Yeah, that's true...could've been troublesome itself, but still, some simple explanation or no reaction would have been waaay better than what she did. Which was just totally bratty, childish, & immature. She made no point other than to reinforce the negative image of her fucking district." Not to mention that the previous year's reaping resulting in two such similar tributes, & Katniss happening to know what she says she knew about them,
was quiiite coincidental as being reaped the same year as your crush's little sister? Heheh.)

As a flawed heroine, Katniss is somewhat more believable and realistic as a person...and the fact that she DOES come off much more like a lower-middle-to-upper-poor-class typical American teen than someone who's almost literally been on the brink of starvation, endears her readily to TONS of folks in this country who can find her relatable. (One thing that stood out to me, too, as making her "starving" claims seem very dubious was her disturbance at being able to count her ribs after the 74th Games. Plenty of us who've definitely never experienced near-starvation can do that, so the fact that she normally can't told me she couldn't really be that underfed.) I can buy that she's been there once or twice, but not on any kind of regular basis.

Another excellent point? Katniss is heavily biased toward males. She is much more willing to give them credit, or the benefit of the doubt (oh, she gives dudes all kinds of praise!), to speak well of them, to forgive them--whereas she's extremely judgmental of other females. Her only female friend from home, whom she barely acknowledged as such, turned out to be so inconsequentially unimportant that she could be eliminated from the films, and there was no sense of anyone important having been cut. Katniss receives the almighty pin (about which she indeed gives not a single fuck for the longest time) from another bit-part woman, and it's totally fine. The author didn't intend to create a dichotomy of wonderful, saintly males and females who're useless, heinous bitches. Yet the more times this came up throughout the commentaries, the more it did seem to have kind of been the case--a male counterpart being shown as the stronger, kinder, gentler, smarter, more capable, more understanding, whatever...or at least...the more likely to be praised by our narrator.

Katniss IS also largely reactive rather than proactive. Following her initial act of volunteering (which I believe was only spontaneous because she hadn't bothered to think of the remote possibility of Prim's single slip coming out as being literally possible), Kat isn't really responsible for a whole lot else. It all comes down to her support network, the people doing things for her, and then the people forcing her to do a whole long series of stuff that just falls into place in her favor or gets handed to her. Essentially, it's destiny; the stars align and fate thrusts her into her roles. One good point: Her renegade "solo" mission to sneak in and kill Snow cost numerous lives in horrible, horrible ways, which were ultimately meaningless. Finnick, Boggs, Messalla, etc. I get it--that's war. That's what happens. Those people went along willingly, aware of the risks. Still, the mission was fruitless because everything would have worked out exactly the same had Kat not initiated it. The guilt born of those deaths, on top of every other person she directly or indirectly kills, must be a huge part of what haunts her in the future.

Also? Yes, the rumors of starvation and soul-crushing poverty would appear to have been slightly exaggerated...;p Because as pointed out repeatedly, none of the facts point toward the Everdeens or Hawthornes actually being THAT badly off. There are all kinds of inconsistencies regarding what they have access to at home--discrepancies between what Katniss says at one point or another. And evidently, enough other district folks aren't at the point of "Things couldn't possibly get any worse & I have nothing to lose but my miserable life," either. They're fucked over, no bones about it; basically bent over and fucked right up the ass by Snow, but...yeah. (Oooh, there's a painfully accurate mental image I didn't need. Thanks, gutter-mind.) For anything of that to make sense, you've got to accept what you're given, read between the lines, and find ways of reconciling whatever apparently doesn't make much sense. Then there's the thought that it may not have occurred to Katniss to use her newfound wealth to elevate District 12 & aid others in need, because she simply continued to reap the rewards of victory herself.
Katniss harps on 12 being the "worst" district, and everybody else seems to agree or corroborate that notion--but we don't actually get to see or hear much about the rest, except for a few perplexing statements about 11 in CF.  
Truly starving people can't mine for coal Games stuff, or...pretty much anything some point...including wouldn't make any sense at all to literally let that happen to many district residents! C'mon. Hell does the Capitol want with weak, inefficient workers to help support their lifestyles? And ain't nobody gonna watch boring-ass games for mostly really weak, frail, or sickly people.
Peeta enjoys decorating fancy cakes, so he naturally puts those on display even though they surely don't sell like hotcakes. It must do something to spruce up the bakery. 

Gale is characterized generally as a disrespectful dick (though defended when she does agree with him over somebody else), and Peeta as an inconsiderate creep. Most fans who don't care for Gale see him as either a) the third-wheel "hottie" who nonetheless lacks Peeta's irresistible adorability, and/or b) the squirrel-killer who eventually becomes a callous, belligerent warmonger and STILL isn't as adorable as Peeta. Again, too extreme a viewpoint for me, but I don't NOT see where they're coming from. (For all intents & purposes I'm "Team Peeta," and prefer both him and Finnick to Gale.) Now, is it a little cliche that Katniss falls "in-love-for-real" with the sweet, darlin' bread-boy who's loved her all along? The baker over the butcher, who's done a great deal for her but is more reticent about "those" feelings? Well, perhaaaps. But, there is a major theme here of "faking" and then eventually being "real."

The first big shock came when Cinna was disparaged--"Someone doesn't like Cinna?! How can this be?!" All right...yes, he should have tested the flames prior to putting them on the kids. Yes, it was just another happy accident that he got assigned to District 12. (The Games employees evidently don't get a choice of district.) Yes, technically all he did was design some hella-swag outfits and then get murdered before we could find out more about him. (Sunuvvagoddamnbitch.) He's a stylist, and damn good at his work. He's also a good and sympathetic man, and had a calm way of putting Katniss at ease so that she immediately felt more comfortable with and trusting of him than the rest of the group. Fashion turns out to be a pretty formidable (not to mention fabulous!) weapon in this story, so what he did in giving Katniss a symbolically anti-Capitol/Snow/government/Games/whatever statement WAS significant despite being "just clothes." Indeed, he paid for it with his life, because CoriolANUS won't stand for that kind of attempted insubordination. People need to be made examples of, dammit. Don't fuck with the Snowman. 
[Additionally: When they say "the Capitol," you do have to use context to determine whether it's in reference to the physical location, its general populace, or the government seated there. And as for the citizens' "accents"--hmmm. Yes. If that's the way they've spoken since childhood, then for them it's just only sounds strange/"affected" to Katniss because it isn't what she's used to hearing, but regional accents aren't "affectations." Not unless they're constantly changing their manner of speech in response to new trends and to spice things up, or something. But really, who d'ya think you are to define "normal?" ;p And DO different districts have different dialects/accents??]

Haymitch...well, he's by turns praised and criticized (also harshly.) Much was made of the fact that alcoholism shouldn't be taken lightly or joked about, and neither alcoholism nor PTSD is at all realistically portrayed in the story. I may agree on the PTSD count especially, due to the diagnostic criteria failing to be met. Haymitch's booze problem was clearly not intended to be something SO dooming that he would be incapable of managing or overcoming it with the proper motivation (e.g., learning to love and care for others again.) I really do not believe it was intended to accurately represent all cases of alcoholism one might experience in our world. We're to take it seriously enough to sympathize with him (and he is my favorite along with Effie), and grasp that he's not a comic relief character...yet, there's apparently juuust enough room there for "Lol @ the drunken slob"-type jokes nonetheless. Because they've been around forever, and this freakin' story needs all the levity it can get. xp

Concerning the prep-team trio, I reckon we're supposed to regard them with pity, as if they're pathetic little children. In a sense they are, as they have little say in most things and little development. They kind of just follow along with the crowd. Superficial and self-centered the three may be, but they have a good amount of sensitivity as well. They seem a bit on the underdeveloped side mentally and emotionally, though, so they don't much know what to do with their feels except to get occasionally weepy. But they still probably deserve a little more credit than generally given (they looked kinda interesting in their briefest-of-the-brief movie cameos, eh? The blue hair had to be Venia...) AFTER all, how many of us have trouble holding all of OUR feels?! The feels largely generated by this godforsaken series?!?! As the "nerd" pointed out, there's no shame in crying/expressing emotion. So to portray that as more the domain of the "self-indulgent" Capitolites than the "stoic" district folk is kinda uncool. (Nothin' wrong with stoicism, either, of course.) Oh, and then there's Caesar--whom you almost want to believe really does have your back, and sympathy, and a desire to "help you out"...but...ultimately the blog is probably right. The guy is a consummate entertainer whose only real concern is putting on a good show by any means possible. He knows what works. When he seems all nice and friendly and helpful, or shipperish, you really want to like him. But he's sort of...neutral as far as you're concerned. Not your enemy, but not truly your friend. We never see him off-camera, though. So what sort of a person is he truly? Is his apparent fondness for the tributes sincere, or just all in the name of good entertainment? I'm getting more of the latter vibes, but maybe a bit of a's tough to dislike him, at any rate...and the bulk of the animosity in this fandom must be reserved for Snow & Coin. [Brilliant idea from a kooky fanfic: Snow dumped Coin, and that's why she's bent on overthrowing him and taking his place. No one dumps Alma Coin and gets away with it.]

Oh, and as for ignoring or animalizing the random, nameless, ignored, or neglected characters who "don't matter," well...I'm not sure why it would be bothersome to have an animal name? Or a plant one, for that matter? Humans are animals, after all (and probably one of my least favorite species, frankly. ;p)

The ONLY characters this Angry Hunger Games Nerd seems to fully like are Johanna, Effie, and Paylor. And I like all three of them, too, so that's good. In fact, this gets at some of the absolute best points the AHGN made: First of all, defending the career Tributes and the districts that set up career systems. It makes sense not to regard them as villains. On the one hand, the careers are made out to be excessively brutal, merciless, and warlike--the "vicious Pit Bulls" who relish the stalking and painful murders of weaker tributes. Still, like everyone else, they're products of their environment and upbringing. They've readied themselves for this deadly competition so that no 12-year-old Rues or Prims will have to go rep their districts.* (For them it may be the glory of battle and whatnot that motivates rather than any sort of altruism, but STILL. The career-volunteer system does make sense, since you have no choice but to send two people one way or the other.) And the fact that the careers stick together isn't *necessarily* an indication of scorn or malice toward the rest (although it apparently is, most of the time.)

*Now, with enough good sponsorships, excellent training, and perhaps the right allies, someone like Rue could've stood a chance--still a small one, maybe, but a chance. Prim? Well, she might be better at "making friends" than Katniss. And her affinity for natural remedies and suchlike would be a strength...small size, good for hiding and getting into tight places?... :/
And the person's constant defense of Effie was perfect. Spot-on. Like, THANK YOU. We're supposed to buy that she's really just some daffy bimbo tasked with following Katniss around to nag and annoy her?!? Gtfo. Eff that shit, no pun intended. There's more to her than meets the eye. Right from the get-go, she is the one working her ass off to do everything in her power to give Katniss & Peeta the best possible shot...even before Haymitch gets off HIS ass to help HER like he's supposed to. (As opposed to being a surly bastard who basically says, "Prepare to die, kids." xD Even though he's also a very sympathetic and likable person, ultimately.) After the reaping, she's not "just doing her job" as expected of her; she's putting maximum energy and effort into trying to assist and protect the tributes entrusted to her. And she's not going above and beyond the call of escort duty like that for her own health, honey (although getting "promoted" to a more favorable district surely wouldn't have hurt, she thought...) Much of the stuff she focuses on IS important--it just seems silly and frivolous because of the way the freaking games are set up.  She didn't design them, but she knows how they work. (So yeah, you should pay attention while she's trying to HELP you, rather than spiting yourself just to be a bitch to her.)

She's used as a cog in the system--basically a slave to the Capitol despite her privileged lifestyle, having to serve as their pretty little puppet. No wonder she's paranoid about any of them actually uttering anything that could be construed as even borderline treasonous, and tries to kind of channel her anxieties into a neurotic, almost OCDish approach to doing her very best for the kids.

They ridicule her every chance they get, but she deserves the opposite. So she got pearls and diamonds mixed up or some such--give the gal a break! Her shitty job puts a metric fuckton of pressure and stress on HER. (Not to mention that her education might well have been a little bit lacking in some regards...;p The Capitol's supposed to have all the best everything, but heh...and uh, I'm not a seafood fan either...;p Some of the people to whom she said it probably don't even know about pressure metamorphosing one substance into another, anyway.

Anyhow. Yeah. That was just right-on. She does manage to keep her composure remarkably well most of the time--and manages to keep up that cheery, bubbly, optimistic, enthusiastic persona of hers as best you could ask a sincerely goodhearted and sensitive person to, under terrible conditions. Consider the kind of mental & emotional fortitude required for that sort of reaction formation (i.e., expressing the opposite of what you feel as a coping mechanism.) But oh yeah, Effie's a girl and she wears wigs, and wigs are stupid, and "the book does everything but call her a slut," so also, fuck feminism! Amirite?!? HELL NO. THAT'S A SHITLOAD OF FUCK IS WHAT THAT IS, JERKFACE. (Pardon my French, Eff, but it all needs to be said.) The blog was just rad.

Everything is harshly criticized down to the minutest detail: the logic of Panem's government and the Games and districts, their structures and populations and functioning every step of the way, how Snow maintains power and effectively oppresses...the narrative and its "cheating" in order to make itself work...the economy and the plausibility of D12 having only 8-10K residents given its distinct segments...the weaponry and survival skills, with the author's apparent cluelessness/lack of research in those areas...

I myself wondered about Panem's population. It covers most of North America, so the districts are fairly massive...most must be approximately twice the average size of a Canadian province or territory? Something like that? And the population must be large enough to prevent inbreeding, since each of the 13 districts (plus the Capitol) are pretty much closed-off from one another.
    "All of my hate, book. All of my hate." xD I love the snarkastic, enraged tone even when I'm not totally in agreement with what she's saying. I like the books, I like most of the characters; I don't share that critic's level of was extremely entertaining to read. And there is a goodly amount of constructive criticism that can be thrown at the series, if only because you WANT it to be as awesome as possible. The vengeful critic, though...seemed to be able to muster up naught but utter loathing for these books! There was so little of which she approved--in concept, description, or execution.

Yet if we can try to look at it and envision all the potential improvements being made, then perhaps, we can all be happy...^^''

Now, the real question is: Why did they insist on editing the very ending of Mockingjay? Here is the original:
"But there are much worse games to play. For example: Hong Kong '97, Big Rigs, CrazyBus, Desert Bus, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Master Chu & the Drunkard Hu, 
Universal Studios Theme Parks Adventure, Plumbers Don't Wear Ties, anything made by LJN, and so forth. The ones where you'd rather tear out your brain stem, carry it into the middle of the nearest four-way intersection, and skip rope with it, than play them for longer than ten minutes." Personally, I believe this powerful passage should have been left alone. 

And...I just realized what a real 'Hunger Games Nerd' would be: someone who's studied every single year of the event and knows every last detail about each tribute and how things went down. Y'know, like the nerd who can identify obscure details of a sci-fi show or comic by episode/issue number and date. ;p 

ALSO, I really can't believe that they haven't made a video game yet. On the one hand, it'd probably be criticized by some as cheapening a serious story...not to mention the fact that movie-based games generally suck ass. On the other, much of the time video games are already about senseless violence and mindless killing of "innocent" virtual people. This wouldn't be much worse than, say, GTA. And if they did it to full potential, all the elements are there: Create a custom "OC" tribute (choose your district, name, age, skill, whether you got reaped or volunteered, etc.) or play as one of the existing characters. You go through the training process, honing your skills and learning new abilities...doing the dress-up part, being interviewed, trying to win sponsors, learning about your competition, etc...then of course you get into the arena, where your strategies are put to the test. All of the many, many variables affecting how things go would make for a totally different experience each time. You win, you get your victory tour and become a mentor. 

Multiplayer mode? Absolutely! Ally with your friends, betray them, or just immediately try to kill their asses? Up to you! The characters would of course have stats...e.g., their strongest skills to begin with, and physical traits. Like in a racing game. (There are the big powerhouses who tend to be slower-moving and less maneuverable...the lightweights with high speed, acceleration, and agility, but less brute power, and who can get out of control more easily...and mid-weights who fall in between and may have more average ratings on most stats...) Also, the idea of it being an online game so that you could play with 23 other real people instead of simulations is great. It doesn't even have to just focus on the games themselves; you could play as a character at home, or play out the events of Mockingjay...there is a whole lot of potential here.
OR, they could simply take the characters and insert them into any other typical sort of adventure or racing game, for fun. 

Some MORE noteworthy points from the "Dragon Quill" Hunger Games critiques...which were apparently an earlier draft of the "Reading With a Vengeance" ones?:

-Omg! XD;; 'Peeta is a creepy, manipulative, useless, immoral asshole who thinks with his dick.' As is Gale. Okay, so I like them...well, I like Peeta more than Gale. But I don't loathe them the way this critic does, even though many of her specific complaints ARE valid. Okay, honestly, her breakdown and reactions make them look almost as horrible as the whole Edward & Jacob mess, which is just--such a feat because thinking of Twilight Sparklevamps and THG in conjunction pretty much makes me want to crack up. (Twilight Sparkle, on the other hoof...? No, no, no, don't even let me get sidetracked onto pony here!!)
    And Katniss? Oh. Lawdy. She was still blowing up at her every few lines. x3 "Hypocritical, sueish, heartless, lying, unobservant, clueless sociopaaaaaath!"

-The exceptionalism. Yes. Katniss has to be from 'the shitty district.' So much that happens is unique to her experience; it's never happened before, no one's ever thought of or tried it previously. Things magically fall into place and get handed to her by others. The universe revolves entirely around her, and absolutely everything relates to and depends on her. No one else is complete without relating to her in some way. (Even Prim, who's such a catalyst and motivating force, is basically a setpiece...the movies, among many other important things, humanized her a bit more.) Everything bad that happens to her is THE. WORST. POSSIBLE. THING. (Until the next worst-possible-thing occurs.) Everything is always complaint-worthy, no matter how many contradictions and inconsistencies arise in those complaints. (Let's face it: There are plenty of places where Katniss and/or the narrative is inconsistent and/or doesn't make much sense!) And everything bad that happens is only really bad insofar as it's bad for Katniss. When Katniss does something it's fine, it's great--but when someone else does it, they're subject to criticism and shaming and ridicule. She'll gush on and on over how resplendent Cinna makes her look, then claim to be bored by "girly" topics. Yeah, there is admittedly a LOT of all that stuff throughout!

Katniss was largely given the values of a contemporary American, somehow, despite living decidedly NOT in contemporary America. Sure, there are some obvious comparisons to be made, but by trying to make everyone identify with the narrator, they're kinda being let off the hook as far as critiquing their society's similarities with the Capitol. Y'know? Uh-huh...

-The massive confusion regarding how the economy works, as well as the system of it would be practical when each district is exclusively responsible for the production of necessary goods/ Snow could've expected the system to be effective...the origins of Peacekeepers, the population and gene pools (indeed, red hair is very rare, so one would not expect redheadedness to be mentioned as many times as it is! ;), etc. All of the factual errors regarding weapons, a million examples of logic and feasibility and plausibility and practicality being thrown totally out the window (such as regarding the raising of animals and plants.....) All of the, "Why don't they [insert smart thing here]...??" Of course, as I pointed out, this takes place a few centuries in the future, so we can't assume that all plant life will have remained precisely the same as we now know it. And there are ways of working out or explaining away many of the "issues" brought up, but hell, if you're going to analyze the shit out of literally the entire books, you may as well dig into every last little thing that strikes you as "wtf"ish. 

-And yeah, the districts that train Careers--why exactly is that looked down upon, exactly? Those kids are depicted as bloodthirsty brutes who can't wait to get in there and start slaughtering helpless 12- and 13-year-olds, tearing them limb from limb,'s better to LET the little ones be sent, rather than prepare certain willing volunteers who'll stand a good chance? Hrm. Yeah, good point. 

-Some of her ideas for rewrites of the books--so that she would find them good and conveying better messages--aren't bad ideas, I will say. They do involve less retconning of stuff. And tallying up the male vs. female characters, she still noticed all the crappy unevenness: guys who are praised and exalted, perceived as good and righteous and capable, given full credit for the successes of females, and so on. Girls who are belittled, judged harshly, useless, mentally ill, evil, phony, less attractive than Katniss, or undeveloped cardboard props. That aspect improved in Catching Fire, but was still a shocking issue every time the critic ran up another tally...! "Well, damn."

-She really loves Johanna, Enobaria ("Dude, she ripped someone's throat out! Who wouldn't want to read about her? That's awesome!!"), and some of the really minor characters who pop up briefly and then vanish. HUZZAH for her defending Effie at every turn, too! She didn't even perceive Effie as being excessively fixated on manners and propriety, so much as "Katniss you are being a huge dick to someone who's doing everything she can to help you! She knows what she's doing in this respect and you should pay attention!" I mean, at first Katniss views her as annoying and daft, but she does eventually realize that the image she projects isn't the real her...and they do bond, they do become much more sympathetic to one's just that on the whole she's treated pretty darn unfairly. Don't worry, Effie, you're pretty much best pony and we all love you. (Worst is obviously Snow, but Coin gives him a run for his money.)

-I guess it's good that we don't get a pathetic black-and-white portrayal of *all* Capitol citizens as stupid, stuffy, silly, wasteful, arrogant, shallow, selfish, callous pricks, and all district residents as angelic. It is abundantly clear that there's plenty of cruelty and/or callousness right within 12; those who could do something to help others (including Katniss, Peeta, Gale) don't appear to. Even when they become filthy stinkin' rich, somehow it never occurs to them to do what they're supposed to and use that for bettering the lives of those around them. Tres bizarre. 

-Omigosh. CINNA THE BESTEST AND MOST WONDERFULLEST PERSON EVER. Aiight, I do love him, but I can't deny enjoying these critiques nonetheless! True, he tested the flaming outfit ON the wearers, risking covering them in third-degree burns. He was a great designer practicing his craft. At the same time, he was another one who liked Katniss on a personal level and genuinely wanted to help her make a good impression. His act of defiance in creating the transformative mockingjay gown (and designing the suit) was definitely audacious. Very gutsy. It doesn't seem like all that much, but it was essentially suicide because he had to be aware of the likely outcome of that. 

          Still the reviewer has a more than fair point every time this comes up--the more you're walloped over the head with how magically awesomazing and naturally super-duper-special a person is, the more you're inclined to...maybe not like that person so much. Or at least be more skeptical and critical of them. Especially when they aren't actually better than many of the others mentioned. 

-She takes issue with the various actions that are declared to be "defiant" or "rebellious" or "making the Capitol look foolish" or whatever, and to some extent, you do simply have to take Katniss' word for how Snow & Co. viewed them. 

But...what's wrong with some of the names--e.g., Purnia, Finnick (aka Duke Devlin) or Plutarch (aka Patriarch?) They are all real names, and most correspond to relevant historical figures or meanings. They're not THAT bad. xD Sure, Fulvia sounds too similar to "vulva" to be pleasant, but still. Greasy Sae is the lady's widely-known nickname; Katniss doesn't tack on "Greasy" as any sort of put-down. 

Mankind has clearly not by that point evolved near the "utopia" of Star Trek, but they do have some space-agey advanced technologies. Decent start. I suppose. 

And, well, yes--Snow is the ultimate evil. Everything comes down to his orders, his boundless tyranny and cruelty. (Oh, and of course the group that voted three-quarters of a century ago to create the Hunger Games in the first place.) However, it's more than arguable that Coin is even worse because Snow at least makes no bones about how dangerous it is to defy him. Coin pretends to oppose him but really just wants to replace him with more of the same--only with her in power instead. Appeasing those who weren't satisfied with the immeasurable bloodshed of the war that just transpired and demanded more unjustified killing by instating "just one last" Hunger Games would have been indefensible. Surely there were people like that, whose anger would have been sated only with the blood of all Capitol dwellers, including children. With Coin out of the way, however, there's virtually no chance they would've had their way.

          Voting "yes" on that proposition was a calculated risk, taken in order to eliminate this equally treacherous new leader...however, those who voted "yes" honestly wanting it? Oh, for shame. 3: I are disappoint, peoples. Truly. "One more" Games for vengeance? Really? We don't foresee an endless cycle there?

KATNISS THE CATTAIL: This book is well-researched, educational, and, for most characters, illuminating. Each given and/or surname connects the character with numerous concepts--historical figures from Rome or elsewhere, Shakespearean characters, saints and religious/Biblical figures (dude, Peeta is Jesus), meanings and ideas and associations with certain plants or animals, symbols, definitions of words that have been used as names, etc. Many of the entries are highly enlightening, with truthful parallels drawn. Most character names have been so perfectly selected and applied that you wouldn't believe how well the ideas and meanings behind them represent these people. It's brilliant.

The section on symbolism is almost as interesting--again, several entries are insightfully well-written and summarize much significant information related to the many inspirations behind THG. One would learn a great deal from this compilation. 

The main problem with the something I may be able to forgive by remembering that, in its introduction, the author made it clear that we'd be examining the meanings in terms of how Katniss perceives her fellow characters. After all, the entire series is experienced through her eyes, so that made some sense. I was still very dismayed at how grossly unfair and shallow a look was given to Effie--who is actually one of the deepest, most complex and intriguing people of all. Again, this may have been due to Katniss' perceptions...or at least, her earlier ones...although even by series' end, though the two are deeply bonded, she still wasn't being fully fair to her. Which is probably due to their separation and Effie's fate being so enshrouded in mystery. (Guh, why? Enlighten us, final movie and DEMANDED sequel. You have sooooo very much to tell, as a matter of fact.)

Yet there are later passages in this book--whose overall level of detail and analysis make that shortcoming a real surprise--that appear to negate this superficiality! So I didn't exactly know what to make of it. The author was either deliberately going with Katniss' first impressions, but ultimately knows better and just isn't telling you s/he does...OR truly failed to pay any attention to this one person, while seeming to have a decent understanding of several others. Anyone who honestly believes in "looking beyond the surface" ought to have the deeper perspective. To dismiss her as being exactly what she first appears just suggests the understanding of a four-year-old. I mean, I've said so much about her because there's so much to say--invoking psychoanalysis and freakishly accurate comparisons/references to other characters, stories, and songs--so that cursory entry just struck me as dishonorable.
(Like others who've tried to write academic-type HG material, this author did have a right talent for oversimplifying and giving inappropriate amounts of credit--very UNlike the 'Reading With a Vengeance' critic!!)
        Regarding the entry: That full name is very fitting to her; it sets her apart by being Greek rather than Roman, and the fact that she goes by a nickname differentiates her as well. With the saint story...well, thankfully it's not an exact parallel! I mean, just flat-out refusal to participate in the "sacrificial ritual" could've resulted in her being dead years ago--or maybe an avox, which is scarcely better. Or even IF she'd been able to bow out gracefully (how doable is that without some really "good," believable, compelling reason as judged by the powers that be?) and take up some other occupation, then she'd have become basically irrelevant...but still no difference would've been made. She'd have been swiftly replaced, with somebody who might or might not have tried as hard for them as she did. Something, even if pure stubbornness or the increasingly futile hope of advancement, had her staying and refusing to give up on the tributes. Though being "stuck" with 12 must have sucked, maybe something compelled her to keep on trying to help the underdogs. And victory is that much sweeter when your team was considered a long shot at best, or hopeless at worst! 

         And as for being like, thrown into a ring with a bear?! (Um, can you say Game of Thrones? Brienne & Jaimie? "Bear & the Maiden Fair?" First thought. Holy shit.) Well...whatever the hell happened, Collins evidently liked her too much to let her be actually martyred like her namesake. ("Thank you for your consideration." *sarcastic bow* Would that you'd liked Finnick and Prim and everybody else as much...;p) Anyhow, the meaning ties in as well--the idea of being polite, well-mannered, well-spoken, speaking well of others...and the word "euphemism" meaning a "nice," tasteful, polite term for something vulgar, crass, unpleasant, or bad (what with her having to try to put the most positive spin possible on the annual kiddie death match! o,-,o) Like most of the others, it fits and makes good sense.

P.S. No color is "unnatural." So far I think blue roses are the only ones that are unable to be grown naturally...whether in the ground or in a greenhouse, which is just as legitimate a gardening method...and they're still incredibly beautiful. So lighten up, yo. We may eventually end up with a rose variety that's naturally blue. For now, they can just remind us of pleurosis and The Glass Menagerie. I like that. (The play, I mean. Not pleurosis.)

The Gospel According to "The Hunger Games" Trilogy:
VERY limited, indeed. I'm glad I read this little essay for free, because it gave the impression of having been written by CCD teachers who maybe skimmed The Hunger Games once without putting much thought into the text, or the films...and perhaps referred quickly to Wikipedia summaries of the characters in order to come up with a "Bible study guide" tool based upon a popular series. I'm sorry, guys, but there were basic errors, false attributions, meaninglessly vague or confounding statements, and tenuous or faulty "parallels" throughout. As mentioned--Rue sacrificing herself for Peeta? What? Rue was a temporary friend/ally to Katniss in the arena, but she got speared. To what were they referring? Reducing Peeta & Gale to Katniss' two potential boyfriends is another tired, shallow observation made in superficial "analyses" of this story. Peeta ultimately "wins" her because she needs the gentle, kind, loving, optimistic boy who favored diplomacy over war...whereas Gale had become too aggressive and indiscriminate for her comfort. The question of whether Coin had used a bomb of his and Beetee's design to kill Prim and those other children would forever nag at her. 

And when they compared Effie to Judas, I really wanted to hurl my phone at the wall. I would expect a fifth-grader to be able to grasp how deeply she cared for the tributes entrusted to her, how hard she worked on their behalf, refusing to accept their deaths as a foregone conclusion despite their hailing from an "underdog" district--even when Haymitch was being next to useless as a mentor and she had to light fires under his bum. She has a lot in common with Peeta, while Katniss is more similar to Haymitch. I loathe any write-up that dismisses her as weak, dim, shallow, uncaring, etc. Supreme comprehension fail on one of the most fascinatingly complex characters--but yeah, let's just write her off in two or three sentences because it's easier not to look beyond the surface. 

"I ignore things that challenge me!"
-Applejack in "Friendship is Witchcraft: Foaly Matripony"