odds and ends

Boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve written an Odds & Ends!

I just finished reading Mockingjay, the third and final book in author Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy of novels. I encountered The Hunger Games on audiobook last summer on a car ride from Ohio to New York and Ellen and I just loved listening. While we were in New York, we were actively looking for reasons to drive from Point A to Point B, just so we could get another dose of Collins’ dystopian mesh of Battle Royale and Project Runway. For the uninitiated, The Hunger Games takes place in a future where, for political and social reasons, children are forced to compete in a grand, gladiator type battle wherein only one survivor walks away.

Truly, I was not looking forward to Mockingjay, as I felt Catching Fire, the second book in the series, was a little soft. Catching Fire featured the kind of thing I hate when I sit down to a sequel of any kind; namely, twisting and bending the story over backwards to get the characters into a situation similar to the one they faced in the first story that was successful enough to warrant sequelizing. After finishing Catching Fire, I was very worried that Collins was going to amp up the love triangle between protagonist Katniss Everdeen and her two potential suitors, Gale and Peeta. The love triangle aspect always rang a little false to me, like something added in the wake of Twilight’s big “Team Edward/Team Jacob” wake than anything organic to the story.

I should not have worried. Catching Fire merely set the stage for what will likely go down as being one of the most somber and serious portrayals of war in any young adult literature this decade. Mockingjay is, in a word, BRUTAL. Wonderfully, deliciously brutal. Characters you love are tested, and not all succeed… many of their outcomes will wrench your heart. Collins has always excelled at writing action sequences, a skill that’s so paramount in YA lit but is also sorely lacking in many of the books I’ve run across lately. She telegraphs these sequences with genius- you can visualize everything, from the character’s movements right down to the smoldering cinder and debris.

Anyhow: Mockingjay. I liked it!

………………………………………………………………..

After wending her way through three seasons of Veronica Mars over the summer, Ellen has moved onto another terrific mid ’00’s TV series cut down well before its’ time: FOX’s Firefly.

I’m never ahead on most trends, but I will say this: I was one of the eight people who watched EVERY episode of Firefly when it originally aired on broadcast television. I really enjoyed the show, but it was clear from the get-go that this was going to be another in a long line of high quality series that FOX had absolutely no clue what to do with. Firefly died and undignified death on Friday nights, when the only people who were home were dateless wonders such as myself.

Watching Firefly a second time with Ellen, I’m struck with what a shame it is that the series sputtered out and died so soon- the actors are impeccably cast and it’s clear that executive producer Joss Whedon and his writing staff were laying a lot of groundwork for future seasons that would never come to be. A pity.

I’m wondering now if the time is right to introduce Ellen to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The problem with getting her into that show is aspects of Buffy have aged about as poorly as you’d expect a late ’90’s teen drama would. Still, she’s been exposed to Joss Whedon in his prime… AND the best rip-off to adapt the Buffy template for its own purposes (sorry Veronica Mars, I love you but it’s true). I’m going to try to have Ellen give Buffy a shot later this month.

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