Monday, October 17, 2011

"You'll Think of Something"

Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh, is my favorite book of all time.

I've loved it for so long now that I can barely remember a time when I didn't love it -- although that's crap, because I perfectly remember the summer when my cousins and I (who were all staying with our grandparents) were so psyched to see the first Nickelodeon movie.

(That's right. I found out about my favorite book of all time because Nickelodeon turned it into a movie.

Shut up, okay? I was eight. And I went to a church-school where I had a lot of "Jesus fiction" thrown at me. And the local librarians were not all that friendly. And I was painfully shy. And it had barely been a year since Dad died.

So I was somewhat sheltered.

Anyway, the movie is excellent even though the Robinsons aren't in it.)

Honestly, I don't remember precisely how old I was the first time I read the book. What I do remember is that, at 297 pages, it actually seemed long. (I was mostly reading Animorphs and The Hardy Boys, which tended to weigh in at a max of 150.) Since that first time, I have read it at least once a year.

When I was in third grade, I took the VHS to class and we all loved it. For a hot minute, everyone in Mrs. Judson's class had a composition book full of notes about each other. After a while, we were all forbidden to bring our notebooks to school unless we wrote nothing but nice things (this was a very wise decision on her part, since she had seen the movie) -- so I, the trendsetter, started leaving my notebook at home and racing to fill it at the end of every day. Not that I was full of not-nice things to say about my classmates, but I was determined to write the truth, since I had seen the movie.

I was twenty when I accidentally found out that the author, who died in 1974, was sort of well-known among the lesbian community of the day. Which, it being the seventies, was not a particularly well-known community.

It's not nearly my favorite of all time, but one movie I like rather a lot (somewhat in spite of myself) is Definitely, Maybe. A scene that stands out is the one where April explains why she loves Jane Eyre (which I have never read) so much, and that she rereads it every year because "every time it's different; it teaches me new things." For me, Harriet the Spy is exactly the same way.

Probably the most annoying thing about Depression is that, for longer than I'd care to admit, I stopped reading. Being a lifelong bookworm, this made me feel rather out of sorts. Once I did start to deal with things and feel like myself again, I was eager to get back into books. Naturally, this one was my first choice.

Okay. I'm not really sure what my point is. I had a dream about the book and the movie last night, but it wasn't very clear (my dream also included The Incredibles 2 -- which could have been called Violet to the Rescue! -- and Ponies and boys and boys with Ponies and guacamole and fingerless gloves).

I guess what I'm getting at is this one scene in the movie that's always resonated with me. It does not appear in the book, because in the book Ole Golly just sends Harriet a letter (at her parents' request; personally, I don't think Harriet put two and two together until years later), which . . . isn't all that interesting to watch . . . so, in the movie, she physically comes back for a visit and they have a chat and she says (note: this isn't quite verbatim),

"You're an individual, and that scares people."

Harriet, bless her, wants to know, "So what am I supposed to do?"

"You stay true to Harriet and accept the cost."

Ole Golly then admonishes that Harriet is eleven, so it's time for her to start writing something other than notes.

"Like what?"

"You'll think of something."

So . . . that was my point, I guess. Kind of.

Also, in case you missed it, I just stumbled upon the answer to every social quirk that's been getting on my nerves lately: I'm an individual, and that scares people.

"People" can suck it. I'm AWESOME.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So I Read The Hunger Games

NOTE: This post is going to be 100% spoiler-free!


I've been interested in this trilogy for a while, so I was pretty hyped when I got book one from the library. When I actually read it, though, I really only started out of boredom.

Several hours later, I finished it. (Seriously, it's that difficult to put down.)

I thought, Now I feel bored out of my mind again.

I thought, I should've got all three books from the library at the same time. Really could've planned that a little better.

The next day, I went to the library's website and requested books two and three. They each had about fifty requests ahead of mine, but I figured that maybe, just maybe, all of those people were tearing through them as quickly as I had torn through the first.

The day after that, neither list had gotten any smaller, and both books had been requested by at least four more people after me.

"Alright," I said, "this is why Amazon exists."

So I had the entire trilogy delivered to my mailbox for about $30.00.

Honestly, I'm still kind of in shock. It's been less than twenty-four hours since I finished the final book (which, like the first, I read cover to cover almost without stopping).

First off, I can't believe this series is marketed to children. I mean, okay, the main character is "only" sixteen years old, but the story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where twenty-four children -- twelve boys and twelve girls -- aged twelve to eighteen are selected at random to be thrown into an arena. Where they fight to the death. On TV. The goriest bits of the "Games" are mandatory viewing. Our hero volunteers -- not because she has any desire to be killed or any desire to kill, but to take the place of her younger sister, the one person in the whole world who she's sure that she loves.

In the arena, as I said, the kids kill each other. They snap each other's necks and throw spears into each other's stomachs and shoot each other with arrows.

Clearly, this is the sort of fare kids should be reading.

I don't know, though. I mean, I'm not saying NO kids anywhere should ever read any of the books -- I'm living proof of the fact that, when parents do forbid their kids to read a certain series, that just makes the kids want to read that certain series even more -- I'm just saying that they are aimed at middle-schoolers. The oldest of whom are two years younger than Katniss. Who is plagued by nightmares even before she enters the Games. Because Panem, which used to be North America, is a police state and things are THAT bad. (Note: Katniss is one of the most badass characters in the entire series, and she still has nightmares.)

I'm just saying, if you're thinking of giving the books to your son/daughter/grandson/granddaughter/niece/nephew/godchild for the holidays because you know for a fact that he or she likes books, you should REALLY do a little research before wrapping them (you might even want to read them yourself) and ask yourself if the kid in question can handle them.

(I was reminded a lot of Animorphs, actually -- which, interestingly, was also published by Scholastic -- although I have to say that The Hunger Games are even worse, since the war that the characters find themselves caught up in is not against aliens. It's chilling because it could actually happen.)

The names are quite fun. If you know a bit more about etymology and/or ancient Rome than I do, you'll no doubt be amused. For example, the Capitol slaves who can't talk because they've had their tongues ripped out? They're called "Avox."

There is a love triangle, because of course there's a love triangle (actually, now that I think of it, that might have something to do with why Scholastic chose to market the books as "children's" literature). Now, normally, love triangles piss me off by default -- my reaction is usually something along the lines of YOU STUPID BITCH YOU HAVE TWO HOT GUYS WHO ARE BOTH COMPLETELY IN LOVE WITH YOU AND YOU CAN'T JUST SHUT UP AND PICK ONE?! UGH I HOPE YOU GET EATEN BY PANTHERS OR SOMETHING -- but this one was actually very intriguing. Also, it was resolved the way I hoped it would be.

Even though Josh Hutcherson (swoon) is playing Peeta, I'm not sure if I'll be seeing the movie. I mean, I'm sure it'll be amazing, but . . . the books really are so violent -- the second is worse than the first, and the third is worse than the second -- that there's no way the movie can possibly get any rating lighter than PG-13 purely for violence and disturbing images (and possibly even gore). Which, you know, is good because it means they're staying true to the source material, but my point is that, while I enjoyed the story and wanted to see it through to the end, I was simultaneously seriously disturbed (see above, re: children killing each other on national TV). And that was bad enough to read about, you know? I'm quite a fan of action and violence and girls with axes and all that, but . . . humans killing other humans? Yeah, that tends to make me a bit squeamish.

That said, I haven't been reading any interviews in-depth or anything, but even from the little that I have absorbed, it sounds like everyone involved in the movie is going to be amazing. Particularly Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.

I won't go into too much detail because it's painful for me to talk about, but the books are set in a world where most people are starving and it's not uncommon to grow up and live and die without ever having enough food. So I kind of felt guilty about going to the grocery store.

There was one more point I wanted to make, but it escapes me now. Maybe it'll come to me in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"A Friend is Someone Who Knows Your Secrets and Loves You Anyway"

So I finally wrote Jeremy another letter (it's only been a little more than a week since the last time, but trust me - it felt longer).

I feel better than I've felt since Friday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"He Lives in You"

Every single year (except for last year, which I think we can all agree was just a little bit weird -- although, at the time, it seemed to be weird in a good way), I write my dad a letter for my birthday.

It makes sense in my head, okay?

This year, for the first time in a good long while, the bittersweet exercise is going to be quite a bit less "bitter" and quite a lot more "sweet."

I have this image in my head of him giving me an empty box with a note that says:

Hey, Bud --

24, wow. That makes your mom and me pretty much decrepit! Please be sure to find her a nursing home with a decent cafeteria when the time comes, probably tomorrow.

I couldn't decide what to get you (nothing seemed just right), so I figured I'd just remind you of something yet again because, even though you've finally figured it out, I know it's something you still need to hear occasionally:


I hope it fits.

-- Dad

P.S. Enjoy the empty box, sucker!

That's my dad.

I love him.