Category: literature


We used to have a regular customer at the gas station who was an artist. He moved to the other side of town and we didn’t see him for a while. Then today (or yesterday, it’s after 3:00 AM as I’m writing this) he came in and said that he had a bunch of supplies and wanted to see if I was interested. I told him I was broke, and then he said he meant he was giving them to me. Evidently his mom took some art classes and then stopped, and now he has all this stuff. So he brought it by and my coworker and I divided it up. I snagged a canvas, a huge drawing board, a watercolor pad, a ton of pencils, an eraser, and some Sharpies. Not bad for free.

Hopefully my car will be finished tomorrow (today?). I called off at work, and I’ll take the bus to go get my car. Hopefully it will be ready fairly early in the day so I can try to get some stuff accomplished. In the next two days I need to get my pills from Target, bring some stuff back to the library, do some grocery shopping, pick up my stuff from the frame shop, and do my laundry. Add to that working on next month’s newsletter for the art supply store, finishing up a commissioned piece, and finishing up a few more pieces for my show. I can’t really imagine doing all of that on Tuesday, so having my car at a decent time on Monday will be a huge help.

My roommate picked me up from work tonight and mentioned that she was going with a friend to see The Hunger Games and invited me to tag along. As someone who hasn’t read the books, I’m really not sure what to make of the movie. I’m still processing stuff, and I’m way too tired to write a full review, but a few random thoughts…

  • The movie gives almost no back story, and as a result a lot of things don’t make sense. I understand it’s based on a book, and it’s part of a trilogy, but I shouldn’t have to read the books and stick around for the second and third movie for things to come together. If the movie can’t stand on its own then we have some problems here.
  • There was almost no character development, and the non-essential characters were reduced to sketches and clich├ęs. I understand this is mostly the result of cramming a novel into the time frame of a movie, but that reverts back to my first point.
  • While I think it succeeds as an action/fantasy story, it mostly fails as a dystopian scenario. There’s no consistency regarding how much disbelief one has to suspend for the story to work. Some things are very believable, whereas others are not at all. For a dystopian future world to be convincing, minute details need to work. The story as a whole works, but there were too many things that didn’t, which made it hard to go along with.
  • I totally don’t understand the style of dress and homes in District 12. I understand these people are poor, but they don’t dress poor. They dress like they’re from another era. It would make more sense to show them in simplistic versions of the dress of the day. Instead we have this world of gaudy costumes, and this pocket of poor people who dress like mountain folk circa the 1920’s. It’s as if the filmmakers were trying too hard to show that they filmed this in rural Appalachia, or to show that these people were poor, or whatever. But it ended up coming out of nowhere and seeming like a different universe. Without a detailed back story this makes no sense and comes off more as a not-so-sly nod to viewers in the mountains – “hey these are your people!”
  • There’s also no back story regarding the names. Why do some people have very odd names, while others are more normal? Again it’s all about consistency, and this story has very little, at least when it comes to finer details.
  • Possibly my biggest complaint – the camera work was HORRIBLE. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen worse work in a major motion picture. I get it when they’re in the woods, running and chasing and fighting. They want you to feel like you’re right there in the action. That doesn’t mean it’s effective, but I do get what they were going after. But in a scene that is a simple interior shot? Why do we need a shaky cam for that? And what’s with all of the out-of-focus scenes? It’s almost as if they were purposefully trying to hurt your eyes. This made it a very hard movie to watch without feeling seasick. With a huge budget and capable people behind the camera, I just can’t believe this was allowed to happen.
  • As for what I did like – the action. The sequences are very well done on all counts (except maybe the magical dogs – WTF is that all about???) and you end up genuinely caring about the main characters. I also really loved that the country is named Panem – Latin for bread.

So yeah, that’s basically what I felt. It was an enjoyable movie, but not one that was easy to watch, follow, understand, or accept. Based on conversations with my roommate and her friend and other fans of the books, I honestly don’t think a lot of these issues are addressed in the books. From what I’ve heard, they go into more detail, but not necessarily the details that would make things click for me. As a fan of dystopian literature, this seems like a paint-by-number attempt. I got the impression that the author and/or the filmmakers cobbled together a lot of elements of various dystopian novels, added in a tough female lead and a love triangle, and hinted at a bunch of other directions without actually going there. As entertainment it works, but when measured against other works in this same broad genre it just doesn’t hold up.

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The past few days have been somewhat interesting. Thursday, after the maintenance guy finally came to fix our leaky sink, I went for a little hike. I started on the Parkway, taking the little trail that begins at the Folk Art Center and connects to the Mountains To Sea Trail. Somewhere along the line I decided to diverge from the trail, cross a few roads, and basically wander, until I wound up in someone’s back yard. Fun times.

Evidently this is not the best time of year for an allergy sufferer to go hiking, as I woke up Friday stuffy and sneezing. I took a few big sneezing fits throughout the day and basically felt miserable. And then it rained. I woke up this morning feeling almost 100% better, so I’m guessing the rain washed away enough of the pollen for my sinuses to stop hating me.

Today at work was a pretty awesome day. I spent most of the day working on the True Blue newsletter, something I might start doing on a regular basis. It’s a bit more responsibility than I’ve had, and the interface is a bit clunky, but it’s actually kinda fun, and comes with a potential pay increase, so I can’t complain. In the afternoon the girl from The Chocolate Fetish next door came by and brought us a few free truffles, which were extremely good. On my lunch break I went to the park and checked out the “Really Really Free Market,” which as its name implies, is a market where everything is free. I snagged a book, “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.” I’m a big Douglas Adams fan, so this was a pretty good find. And if all that wasn’t enough, later in the day I got to assist what might be the most beautiful girl I’ve met since I moved to Asheville.

Come home to a good dinner and a little relaxing, I think it’s safe to say today has been a good one. Tomorrow is back to the gas station grind, and then a much-needed day off on Tuesday. That’s about it for now…

 

Time to pick a book…

Okay literary WordPress peeps… help me decide which book I should read next. Here are the choices…

  • Ernest Hemingway – The Sun Also Rises
  • Frank Herbert – Dune
  • Victor Hugo – Les Miserables
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky – The Idiot
  • other?

I currently have a few magazines and the collected poems of James Joyce to keep me busy until I decide on one of these. So let’s make it interesting. Comment and tell me which book you think I should read, and why. Assuming I actually get some comments, I’ll read through them and weigh your arguments and then decide. Whoever selected the winning book will get a special prize of some sort.

So who’s game?

 

“cool title”

Walking home from work I passed a few older (probably mid-60’s or so) people and overheard some of their conversation. One guy was saying how with his Kindle it’s just not the same, because as you get closer to the end of a book there aren’t as many pages left. One of the others agreed and said that it kinda ruins the ending because you don’t know how much longer you have and it could end at any time. Then another spoke up and said that it told you what percent of the book you had read and what percent you had remaining, but the first two agreed that this just didn’t cut it. I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit, and then add this to my long list of reasons why I prefer “real” books to e-books.

PS: I couldn’t think of a title for this blog and asked my friend Hannah, and she said “cool title” so I figured why not.

 

She had a very thin face like the dial of a small clock telling you the hour and the minute and the second, with a white silence and a glowing, all certainty and knowing what it had to tell of the night passing swiftly on toward further darkness, but moving also toward a new sun.

– Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451

Oh that Ray, always a hit with the ladies.