The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, First Thoughts on a Sad, Familiar Song

When I first started using The Hunger Games in my college English 111 courses, it was an obscure little book, and I was the only one in any of my classes who had read it before the first day. But times have changed over the past Hunger Games': All about the new 'Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'decade. I still use the book in my classes, mainly because I have not found anything else that works so well. In that time, movies have been made(with some of my students as extras), popularity has swelled, and my students who don’t pay attention to my constant harping on the importance of the number three in the trilogy (they are confused by four films), keep saying they want a “fourth” book. Instead of spoiling the beautiful symmetry of the original trilogy, the master Gamemaker herself brings us a prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is both its own special sort of creature and a perfect companion to the original trilogy.

If you haven’t yet read Suzanne Collins’s just-released prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, fear not, spoilers won’t crop up until after the break, but, if you have read the novel already, or don’t mind the spoilers, join me for a quick round-up of first thoughts, using the three major elements of the title, Snakes, Songbirds, and Ballads, but in reverse order (why? There are many reasons, actually, but I may fall back on the old excuse that I am an ornery mountain woman with excessive book learning). There will be many more posts to come, but we’ll start the dance here.

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Let the Hunger Games Begin, Again!

Image result for new hunger games novelJust last month, we were wondering what Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games Trilogy (among other achievements) might be up to these days. ‘Whatever Happened to Suzanne Collins?’ It turns out, she’s not just been playing sudoku or puttering in the yard (or imitating her creations to tramp through the woods or bake).  We have been hoping that she was writing. Earlier this week, the formal announcement came that confirmed our hopes but which also confirmed some of the fascinating metatextual concerns that have always run under the trilogy: concerns about artistry, yes, but also concerns about control and gamesmanship. Collins is set to roll out a new addition to the story of Panem, a prequel, since, of course, the Games Trilogy is just that, a trilogy, three books, no more, no less, emphasizing the triptych focus so central to the story. Set 64 years before the Games that Katniss and Peeta “win,” this new offering will doubtless cover the Dark Days, renew and continue interest in Collins’s work, and make Hollywood Gamemakers giddy with delight. [Read more…]

A Groundhog Throwback! Revisiting Posts of the Past

Apparently, since the groundhog did behold his shadow, six more weeks of winter are on their way. Quite honestly, the groundhogs where I live could see the shadow of Elvis and we’d still be lucky Image result for groundhogtoImage result for groundhog day movie get off with only six more weeks of ice melt, mud, bitter cold, and static electricity that could easily torch a Zeppelin. However, in the spirit of things, since today is Groundhog Day, references will abound to the Bill Murray film about maximum déjà vu. It is also Thursday, which has become the day to post pictures of the past. In honor of those two  events colliding, I thought it would be fun to re-visit some past posts that I really enjoyed writing and which, since they were some time ago, some of our newer Hogwarts Professor readers might have missed. So, turn that alarm clock back a few years, Mr. Murray, and let’s relive a few past posts that may ignite new conversations!

 

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Once More into the Games, Dear Friends, Once More! Mockingjay Part 2 Flies into Theaters

The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-2-Final-PosterFor the past four years, a wonderful local theater, the Yancey in Burnsville, has graciously hosted the readers of Mayland Community College for our own showing of the newest installment of the Hunger Games film adaptations. On Friday, November 20, once again the theater played the movie just for us, and, as we took in this, the last of the films based on Suzanne Collins’s remarkable trilogy, I once again toted my notebook and pen (along with lots of tissues) to collect my thoughts to share with you here.  So, the pieces are in place; the countdown has begun. Let’s enter the arena, one last time, to see how the conclusion of this epic and complex tale survived its journey to screen. (Fair warning: this detailed review contains major plot elements.)

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Mockingjay Flies Higher than Earlier Installments

On November 21, in our now-annual trip to the wonderful Yancey Theater to see the latest installment of Hunger Games film adaptations, the Mayland gang was joined by a fantastic group of high school students from Avery High School. Thanks to their teacher, the incredible Hollie Greene, I was able to speak with the students about the book’s symbolism before they joined us in the theater. Seeing the film this time was not only a great experience because of our high school friends, but also because this movie, much more so than the previous two, often delivers the goods when it comes to grasping the deeper meaning. Though no film is perfect, and a film based on a book is always fraught with changes readers don’t like (the students sniggered at the shirt I wore, proclaiming simply: “The book was
better”), Mockingjay part 1 has some elements that make it, undeniably, the best adaptation of the trilogy so far. Join our conversation with your thoughts if you have seen the film! If you haven’t, I’m not holding back on the details, so be warned! [Read more…]