Tag Archives: Mockingjay

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!!!

Happy St. Valentine’s Day to all those who follow Thoughts on the Edge of Forever!! Here are some clips and photos to make the day a little more romantic…. 😉

First up, the theme music from one of the best romance films ever…!!!

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Wedge and Iella Antilles

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Jagged Fel and his wife, Jaina Solo Fel

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Marriage of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade

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Jessica and Luke Cage – plus their daughter, Danielle

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And now, the piece de resistance….

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HAPPY ST. VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!

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Horatio Hornblower, the TV Series

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Generally, when I find a film based on a book, I try to read the book as well as watch the film.  This is what I did when I learned that Howl’s Moving Castle began life as a novel; I read the book.

Sometimes I enjoy the book and film equally, while at other times I enjoy the book more than the film.  This is the case with the Hunger Games trilogy.  The cinematographers for the films did not do the books true justice on a number of levels – and there was no need to make Mockingjay into two films.  No need at all.

There are times, however, when I prefer what I see to what can be read.  In the case of the Horatio Hornblower television series, this is what happened.  Though I may someday read the books, I think that I will probably always enjoy the TV series over the novels.

I first saw the Hornblower series when it aired on PBS’ Masterpiece Theater.  I do not remember how old I was.  I know I was young enough not to understand some of what was said or implied in certain cases.  There is nothing wrong with that, of course; I enjoyed the adventure and got the gist of the important dialogue.  For a child, it is enough.

The novels starring Horatio Hornblower were written by C. S. Forester in the 1930s and possibly into perhaps the 1950s.  They star the fictional hero Horatio Hornblower, a young captain in His Majesty’s navy.  Forester eventually worked back from Hornblower’s position as captain to show how he rose through the ranks, and this is where the television series starts.

In the late 1700s, after America has won her independence from Great Britain, Horatio Hornblower becomes a midshipman aboard His Majesty’s ship, the Justinian, in order to pay a debt that his father owes.  The captain of the Justinian is a friend of Dr. Hornblower, and so he accepts Horatio as a midshipman with facility.

The day he gets aboard the Justinian is a wet, grey day.  Having never been aboard a ship before, Horatio has a little trouble holding down his dinner and throws up when he is introduced to the other midshipmen aboard the vessel.  Two of these – an older man named Clayton and a man about his own age, Midshipman Archie Kennedy (Jamie Bamber) – soon become fast friends with the seventeen year old Hornblower.

Aside from this incident, Hornblower finds the world of the navy to be pretty decent.  At least until the most senior midshipman, a bully named Jack Simpson, returns to the Justinian.  Simpson is about thirty and still a midshipman; at the time, a midshipman could start out as young as eleven.  The senior officers tutored the midshipmen in the arts of seamanship, tactics, and navigation until they could earn the rank of lieutenant.  Unfortunately, Simpson is as dumb as a stump when it comes to mathematics.  He could not navigate a bathtub, let alone the oceans.  Worse, he is a bully and a coward, and he takes out his frustration at being forever a midshipman on the other, younger midshipmen, who are all terrified of him.

All except for the new midshipman.  Hornblower is not afraid to stand up to Simpson, which is bad enough.  But when he also proves to be far and away the best at mathematics aboard the Justinian, Simpson turns up the heat on him.  Life aboard ship becomes almost intolerable, and when Simpson insults Hornblower during a card game, the young midshipman decides to try and rid both the ship and the navy of this scourge by challenging him to a duel.

His challenge shames Clayton who, knowing Hornblower will lose the match, knocks him out and takes his place.  Though he wings Simpson, Clayton himself is badly injured and dies of his wounds not long after.  The day he dies is also the day King Louis XVI is beheaded in France, leading England into war with the French Republic.

This leads Hornblower, Archie, and the other Midshipmen to be transferred to His Majesty’s ship, Indefatigable.  The Indefatigable was a real ship, commanded by the real Sir Edmund Pellew, the captain of the frigate within the film series and the books (played by Robert Lindsey to perfection in the TV series).  Pellew tells Hornblower in no uncertain terms that he does not think much of a man who lets others fight his battles for him, before ordering him to take part in no more duels while he is aboard the Indefatigable, or “the Indy,” as the crew calls her.

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In the meantime Hornblower is given command of Simpson’s division from the Justinian.  This division crew consists of Styles (Sean Gilder), a brawler who tends to leap into fights at the first opportunity; Matthews (Paul Copley), an experienced seaman and the senior member of the group; Finch, a small man who is at least as old and seasoned as Matthews, and young Oldroyd.

Hornblower finds the crew chasing down rats in the hold and betting on Styles’ ability to kill them.  Styles doesn’t do this with his hands but with his teeth; his hands are tied behind him and he has to catch and kill the rats with his mouth.

This sort of sport is not allowed aboard ship, of course, and Hornblower makes it clear that while he commands their division, Matthews, Styles, and the rest will not play these games anymore.  Not long after this the Indy captures her first French prize, but Hornblower is not above deck for the engagement because a member of his division is injured in the fight and he helps take the man down to sickbay.  He later distinguishes himself in battle, after a fashion, earning Pellew’s interest.  But Hornblower’s happiness aboard the Indy is dimmed when, coming to the rescue of a sinking British ship, he himself ends up helping a bedraggled Simpson to safety.

The episode reaches its climax in another duel between Hornblower and Simpson, which Simpson does not walk away from.  For this reason, in the U.S. the first episode of the Hornblower series is called “The Duel.”  In England it is known as “The Even Chance.”

There are eight episodes in the Hornblower series.  Starring Ioan Gruffudd as Horatio Hornblower, this was my first introduction to the actor.  Later, when he was tapped to play Mr. Fantastic in the Fantastic Four films, the first words out of my mouth on seeing him were, “That’s Hornblower!”  And so it has remained.  Whether he appears in 102 Dalmatians or the latest remake of The Jungle Book, the first words I say on seeing him are, “There’s Hornblower!”  It is lucky for me that he loves the character so much!

I enjoy the first four episodes of the Hornblower series more than the last four.  There is a joi de vive they have which the following four lack.  For this reason I prefer them to the sequels.  Still, whichever half of the set you enjoy more, you ought to try the series if you have never seen it before.  It is well worth your time and, no matter the cost, it is a great investment if you purchase it. 😉

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One Life: A Human’s a Human, No Matter How Small

Mockingjay

I think that Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over. Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences. – Katniss Everdeen in Mockingjay (Emphasis added)

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This week there have been and are going to be several marches for life protesting legalized abortion across the United States. If you are pro-choice and believe abortion is okay, you should remember something very important: you were once a twenty week old “lump of cells” in your mother’s body, too.

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We all were. We were all three day old cells carried by our mothers’; we were all eight month old unborn babies – except for those of us who were born premature. Then we were brought into the world even earlier. And you know what? We all – eventually – looked like this when we were born, premature or otherwise: healthy infants.

Image result for babies Did you ever think about babies who were born premature, readers? They were born before they were, as the cliché goes, “viable outside of the womb.” But are we going to argue that these premature infants are not human beings? If so, we are lying to ourselves.

This means that the argument that the “fetus” to be aborted is just an unfeeling lump of cells at these stages is very unscientific. Premature babies are not unfeeling lumps of cells, are they? They can cry and move, make faces, and need their diapers changed just like healthy babies born nine months after conception.

At twenty weeks, one of the favored stages for an abortion, the baby has a head, arms, legs, and can make facial expressions, not to mention move around. A woman can hear and feel the baby hiccup sometimes at that point, too. Three days after conception, a heartbeat can be detected from that single cell which will grow into a baby.

To say this argument over abortion is about a woman’s right to control her body is silly. Yes, a woman has a right to control her own body. But does she have the right to control the body of the person she is carrying? Has no one stopped to ask that question?

Why is a baby that is wanted, or “planned,” referred to as a baby while in the womb, but a baby that is unwanted or “unplanned” is spoken of as a “lump of cells” or “tissue”? If the latter is true, then there should be no joy for a couple when the pregnancy test comes back positive and no sorrow when a woman suffers a miscarriage.

Yet this is what happens. Why the societal dichotomy?

Maybe you should ask yourself this very important question, too, readers: What if my mother had aborted me?

You would not be here to read this if that were the case. You would either be zapped out of existence, dissected in utero, or “harvested” and your body parts sold to the highest bidder. What if your mother had decided to abort you? Do you want to help abortionists do that to the next Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., or John F. Kennedy? Do you want to continue to support infanticide?

Think about it, readers. Think about it harder than you have ever thought about anything else in your life. This is not a battle with a fence to sit on. This is a battle between life and death. Which do you choose?

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The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen

The Hunger Games

It has been a long time since there was a post here about a character in The Hunger Games. This article focuses on the lead character for Suzanne Collins’ trilogy: Katniss Everdeen.

Truth be told, Katniss drives me crazy. She is as thick as a fence post six ways from Sunday. Yes, she is skilled at hunting and surviving. She was a child who was forced to grow up quickly in order to protect and support her family. That is not my problem with her. My problem with Katniss is that her ability to read people is seriously lacking, and this is a survival skill everyone should practice. Her inability to understand others is a severe handicap which Katniss never quite overcomes as she works on surviving the deadly situations she finds herself in.

To avoid being too harsh, it is true that plenty of people in Katniss’ position would be unable to see the labyrinthine plots the chess players are weaving on The Hunger Games’ board. Often we are unaware of the webs others spin around us, or which we spin about ourselves when we “practice to deceive.” But that does not mean that some people in Katniss’ role would not be able to make a few educated guesses about the whats and wherefores of the forces at play in their lives.

Katniss does not appeal to me as a character. But her position in the world of Panem is hard to misunderstand. Like people in North Korea, or those who Russia kept in the Siberian gulags, the people of Panem live in cordoned off regions. These areas are prison camps. In The Hunger Games, they are known as Districts.

There are Twelve Districts at the beginning of the trilogy. Originally, there were Thirteen, but after the first rebellion against the Capitol, District Thirteen was destroyed by the government. This was also when the Capitol began the Hunger Games. In the annual Games, two children within the 12-18 age range are selected by lottery to be “tributes” in the arena. There are always two from each District; one boy, one girl. These two then have to face not only each other but the other twenty-two tributes in a televised battle to the death. The last child standing is the winner.

The winners receive enough wealth to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. They never have to worry about starving to death. But their children are still put in the lottery – the Reaping – and neither they nor their families will ever be free of the Capitol’s tyranny.

As an example, the dashing Finnick Odair, a Victor from District Four, was used as a sex slave by the politicians and rich citizens of the Capitol. Johanna Mason apparently refused this path with her characteristic vehemence; so the government killed her whole family to make an example of her to the other Victors. Haymitch Abernathy, who won his Games and embarrassed the Capitol in the process, lost his mother, brother, and girlfriend to “accidents” the government had staged.

These three Victors were free of the threat of starvation. They were not free of the dictatorship which was the Capitol.

At the start of the trilogy, Katniss understands that openly calling out the government on anything puts one at risk of swift retribution. But to her, the Capitol is a relatively distant threat. Living in the poorest District in Panem, District Twelve, Katniss’ hatred for the Capitol simmers under the concerns of daily survival for herself and her family. Ever since her father died in a coal mine explosion, she has had to provide food, clothing, and the other necessities of life for her mother and baby sister.

But Katniss’ attitude toward the Games is stood on its head when her sister, Prim, is Reaped for the seventy-fourth Hunger Games. Desperate to protect the only person she knows she loves, Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place in the Games. Since she is sixteen, she can volunteer. Anyone over eighteen or under twelve is, by law, not allowed to volunteer to take a lottery winner’s place in the Games.

Through her experiences in the Games, both in the first book and during the next two novels, Katniss grows to understand the extent of her enslavement and that of her fellow citizens to the government. She has survived for four years by hunting and gathering, yes. In that regard, she is not dependent upon the “generosity” of Panem’s government.

But she and her sister are still under threat of being Reaped for the Hunger Games until they turn nineteen. So are thousands of other children, in and out of District Twelve. Katniss’ own vow never to marry, so she can avoid sending any children she would have to the Games, is not a vow everyone in Panem has taken. After a point, they simply cannot make this vow and keep it. We are supposed to “be fruitful and multiply,” after all. (Emphasis on supposed to, people!)

Up until her sister’s name is called at the Reaping, Katniss’ feelings toward those taken for the Hunger Games are, basically: “Sucks to be them.” Once Prim is chosen, however, Katniss is shaken from her detachment toward the Games’ bloody results. She has seen the Hunger Games broadcast into her home since early childhood. She knows what would happen to her sweet, innocent younger sister in the arena. Prim could not hurt a fly without crying over it. She would die on the first day of the Games.

Katniss will not let that happen.

Catching Fire

But the event which totally snaps her once detached distaste for the brutal, retaliatory punishment from the Capitol is the death of her ally, Rue. From District Eleven, Rue is the same age as Katniss’ sister. Despite the racial differences between the two, Katniss instantly feels attached to the younger girl for her habits, which mirror Prim’s. This attachment is made most obvious when the two become allies in the arena.

This is the reason Rue’s death infuriates Katniss. If she had watched Rue die on the television, she would have shrugged the event off. Having spent a few hours with Rue in the arena, and having watched her prior to entering the Games, Katniss has no such reaction to the younger girl’s death.

Rue’s death is Katniss’ turning point. She “buries” Rue with flowers, restoring the little girl’s humanity with that one act. To the Capitol, Rue was just a number, a face in the crowd. She was an expendable slave killed to keep the rest of the herd in line. They did not know her and they did not care to learn about her as a person.

Rue was a twelve year old girl with five younger siblings, loving parents, and more friends than you could shake a stick at. She protected and looked out for her siblings. She sang to the mockingjays so that the people of District Eleven would have a beautiful end-of-harvest-time alert each day. Rue was a gentle, sweet, loving little girl.   She was athletic and had a wide knowledge of healing plants. In another world, she would have had a future so bright it would blind most people.

The Capitol took that away from her. They chose Rue to be a piece in their murderous “Games,” along with twenty-three other children. They murdered a sister, a daughter, a little girl with enormous promise so that they could keep their power.

With Rue’s death, the Games stop being games for Katniss. For a while, the Games were simply another survival routine. Make it out alive, and her family would live as well.

Rue’s death changed the game. Peeta being in the game at all changed the rules, too. Katniss felt she owed him for inspiring her to work to survive. She owed him her life. How could she repay him by taking his? Her best hope for the majority of the first book is that someone else will kill him so she does not have to do so in order to clinch the win.

The Capitol drove everyone in the Districts to, and kept them on the brink of, starvation for one simple reason: to control them better. In situations like that of the Districts, a number of people start maintaining a “look out for number one” policy. A survivor of the North Korean prison camps revealed he turned his own mother in to the camp authorities to be killed so he would have more food to eat. The Hunger Games are based on a similar principle. Their aim was to keep the people of Panem so self-interested, so determined to protect themselves, that they could be herded about like sheep or cattle.

Katniss Everdeen is no sheep. She is more like a wolf. Out to ensure her life and the lives of her ‘pack’, Katniss’ aim is to survive deprivation at all costs. But this attitude was not confined simply to herself and her family. When she came home from hunting, Katniss sold some of her gains on the local black market. Indeed, this was mostly to earn the money she needed to get the non-edible supplies her family required, not to mention pick up other necessities or treats at bargain prices.

But it also helped her community. Other people, such as the Mellarks, benefited from the meat she brought back to the District. The Mayor of District Twelve had a fancy for fresh strawberries and was quite willing to ignore where they came from. In Catching Fire, Katniss makes sure to throw her Victor’s money around as often as possible. Guaranteed by law to never be poor again, Katniss does her best to shower coin on those she knows need it most. Her regular clients at the black market Hub do not turn her down, recognizing her generosity and accepting it.

Where Peeta is a man whose eye is on the future, who looks to the spring that always follows winter, Katniss is different. She was born with a soul of fire, the fire one builds in winter to keep alive during the coldest months of the year. When the day is at its coldest, when the night is full of threats, this is when “the Mockingjay” burns at her brightest.

This, of course, brings up an issue other people are always harping on with regard to Miss Everdeen. Yes, Katniss killed a great many people. Her nightmares from the arena are understandable. The arena was a stage set up by the Capitol politicians. She had to defend herself in order to survive the seventy-fourth Hunger Games but her opponents, the proxies of the government, were mostly her age or younger. She was not fighting trained troops, partisans, or paramilitary agents; rather she was facing other children, most as desperate as she was herself.

In the war which plays out in Mockingjay, things are different, though Collins does not distinguish the difference. This is exhibited best by Katniss and Gale’s indiscriminate firing on people in the Capitol near the end of Mockingjay.

Mockingjay

Killing another human being is not and never should be fun or considered so. Gale breezes past this “red line,” as demonstrated by his virulent hatred toward the Capitol and its supporters/denizens with his determination to kill every Capitol supporter he can. In the process he embraces terrorism, along with President Coin, as they stage a compound attack against civilians and resistance medics. (These are yet more points which are against him.)

But Katniss finds herself in the opposite position, blaming herself for the deaths of all the soldiers on both sides of the conflict, even when she was not there. This is foolish, since the war was coming anyway. Katniss just happened to be the stand-in for the spark which ignited the war. If it had not been her, it would have been someone else. It is that simple.

Killing in self-defense or to protect others is a terrible thing. However, it is not murder. (Dean Koontz agrees; read some of his novels.) In a just war, a soldier fights to defend himself, his fellow soldiers, and the people back home. If he has a family, they and the soldiers he fights beside will be the ones he cares for most. Such a man is not fighting and killing for the hell of it, as some “experts” like to claim.

The war the Districts waged against the Capitol, though it was a civil war, was a just war. And even just wars are hell, because killing is never fun. However, the only way to be freed of the Capitol’s control was to fight for it. President Snow and his cronies were not going to grab a gun and go shoot at the Mockingjay themselves. They would need spines to do that, and they did not have those. Only cowards kill children, and President Snow and the other Capitolites running the Hunger Games were all cowards.

President Coin was, too. She bombed helpless children and Primrose Everdeen because it was useful to her campaign. That is evil of the highest order.

So Katniss’ nightmares are largely overplayed in regard to her part in the war, in this writer’s opinion. Her nightmares about the arena are more understandable and permissible, to my mind.

On the whole, I appreciate Katniss Everdeen. I do not like her, but no one said that affection for the main character was mandatory. The Hunger Games trilogy has a great importance for today. We stand “on the edge of a knife,” as the Lady Galadriel told the Fellowship when they came to Lothlorien. “Stray but a little” and we end up in the universe of Panem.

Getting out of that trap will be uglier by that point than climbing back to a just society ever will be. Which would we rather have, readers – a just society, or a civil war for our very freedom?

I know which I would rather have.

The Mithril Guardian