Mockingjay 2: Cry, Cry, Cry

Self can’t believe it.

She can’t believe IT’S OVER!

She caught the 1:20 p.m. screening at the AMC Loews almost directly across from the Lincoln Center, a few days ago. Only a block away from Alice Tully Hall, where Dearest Mum once played (when she was still a teen-ager). So ironic that self hasn’t yet been to a concert in Alice Tully Hall but here she is sitting in AMC Loews with a bucket of popcorn on her lap, anxiously awaiting the final film in The Hunger Games franchise. But ever since Niece Georgina recommended Suzanne Collins’s trilogy to self, self has been on a Peeta kick. Yes, her favorite character in The Hunger Games isn’t Katniss, it’s Peeta. And it’s always going to be Peeta. Forever and ever and ever .

J-Law, you were awesome! Every time the camera zoomed in, your facial expressions were so on point! Thank you for your portrayal. Now there’s talk of making a pre-quel with some younger actress. Ixnay! Self would much prefer a sequel: with you again.

Woody Harrelson, you were equally great!


And so were you, Elizabeth Banks! That scene where you bid Katniss good-bye, decked once more in your Capitol finery (How could Effie get away with dressing like that in District 13? Wouldn’t Coin have frowned on that kind of extravagance?), self found it so affecting.

It was nice to see Philip Seymour Hoffman’s smirk, one last time.

Although she didn’t initially agree with the choice of Donald Sutherland to play the role of President Snow, boy did he kill his part in this final installment. That conversation he has with Katniss near the end, when he says he doesn’t believe in waste, the part where he makes Katniss start questioning Coin’s motives, that part was made infinitely more believable because of Sutherland’s trademark sardonic delivery.

OMG, Finnick’s death was worse than it was in the book. Because it was so — graphic. And he was calling out to Katniss. And self almost couldn’t bear it.


JENA. JENA MALONE. Talk about the perfect Johanna. Mockingjay Part 1 suffered tremendously from her absence. But she was back! And self loves Jena/Johanna. Truly loves her.

P.S. Julianne Moore as Coin — her pupils had a disconcerting tendency to go all to black, and she looked like a soulless witch. Which, self guesses, was the point.

Tallies: One super-hot Galeniss scene, at the very beginning. Unfortunately, instead of pressing his advantage, Gale mopes. And mopes. And mopes some more. And, honestly, if self were Katniss, she wouldn’t have waited for Peeta. Even though self is Everlark to the max, if Liam were hanging around all the time, being all loyal and supportive, she would not blame Katniss at all for switching affections.

J-Hutch, if only there were more of you Not-Hijacked. If there was one flaw she saw in the film, it was that the end didn’t allow enough time for the “growing together” of Katniss and Peeta. Self was waiting for it, she was waiting for the voice-over narration, she ached to hear J-Law’s throaty voice say “Peeta and I grow back together.” But it was not to be.

There’s a scene where hot Peeta is bent over planting primrose bushes while Katniss sneaks up behind him. The camera starts zooming in on — ahem! Never mind. But no, F-Law was extremely respectful and provided no more than two or three seconds of  J-Hutch bent over. Please!

Not even the teeniest hint of anything in the end, just that cuddling thing K and P do, then — babies! Toast babies!

Ugh! Not enough time in the end! The end! The end!


Still Thoughts

WordPress changed their editing Dashboard (and self didn’t know about it until she tried to stick a post to the front of a page)

Moreover, she still has to figure out how to attach thumbnails.

But, as Humphrey Bogart’s character says in the immortal Casablanca, “the problems of . . . little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

Paris happened.

Here is self, back to reading Master Shih Cheng-Yen’s Still Thoughts.

Still Thought # 36: Even though reason is on one’s side, one must be forgiving; even though justice is on one’s side, one must be well-spoken and humble.

BTW, self loved Spectre very much. Daniel Craig’s age is showing, but he still looks mighty fine.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Victory Can Only Come After Struggle

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, VICTORY, posted on Friday morning. Right after that came news (from Twitter; self’s news always come from Twitter) about the Paris attacks.

It seemed very ironic, that the photo challenge urged us to think of the positive. The terrorists made that all seem like such a travesty.

Nevertheless. Nevertheless.

Here are some pictures that self needed to look at today. Reminders of the positive.

The inaugural issue of Irish lit mag Banshee was celebrated at the most recent Cork International Short Story Festival, in September. Self was so glad she attended the launch:

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

It is a perilous venture, the field of literary magazine publishing. But the young women who edit BANSHEE prove that the dream never dies.

One of the most life-affirming and redemptive characters of recent fiction is, in self’s humble opinion, the baker of The Hunger Games. She only caught the symbolism today: Hunting doesn’t feed the belly, doesn’t sate it, to the degree that bread does. In the purported love triangle of the trilogy, there was never really any other choice for Katniss: Peeta Mellark rocks.

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Self will mourn the passing of this franchise when the final film opens on Nov. 20. J-Hutch, you did a great job bringing Peeta Mellark to life!

Finally, one of self’s favorite reads in 2015 was Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond issue, which included a haunting short story by Lucy Jane Bledsoe. Self brought the issue with her to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, this past summer. Whenever her writing energy flagged, reading a bit from the Crab Orchard Review never failed to revive her inspiration:

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Several of the contributors from the West Coast & Beyond issue will be participating in a panel during AWP 2016/ Los Angeles, end of March.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Irish Women Playwrights/ American Film Actors

In late September, self was in Cork, Ireland. The Cork International Short Story Festival was happening. One of the featured readers was American writer Kelly Link.

Self attended Link’s reading, held in the Triskel Art Centre, a converted church.

There were many, many wonderful things that happened that night, not the least of which was meeting Kelly Link and getting a signed copy of her new collection of stories, Get In Trouble.

Self struck up a conversation with another woman who happened to be seated directly in front of her. Turned out the woman was a Dublin playwright who had come to Cork simply to attend the short story festival.

The woman and self exchanged e-mails. She made self promise never to blog/tweet about her, or reveal her name. Self gave her solemn promise.

And then she roamed the internet, looking for the woman’s plays.

She found an article by Eileen Kearney, in Colby Quarterly, Vol. 27, Issue 4. It spans the Twentieth Century up to 1991. Many new Irish women playwrights have emerged since 1991, of course, but here was a start.

And, just to show you how playwriting is very deep in Ireland’s bones, a national women’s playwright competition sponsored by The Irish Times drew 188 plays in the first year alone.

Here are the playwrights mentioned in the article (Self will never reveal which of these belongs to the woman she met in Cork last month):

Geraldine Aron * Mary Elizabeth Burke-Kennedy * Marina Carr * Anne Devlin * Mary Halpin * Anne Le Marquand Hartigan * Jennifer Johnston * Marie Jones * Harriet O’Carroll * Christina Reid * Carolyn Swift * Dolores Walshe

Dear blog readers know very well how much self loves plays. She went to Galway simply to catch Star of the Sea there. In April, she went to Minneapolis for the AWP Conference and caught a performance of Joe Dowling’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Just last week, self caught Cal Shakes’ King Lear, with Anthony Heald.

When she was a college student, at the Ateneo de Manila, she wrote plays, and acted in them, too.

Her love of movies is deeply connected to her love of plays, her love of theatre.

Perhaps, if self finds time, she will post about the three movies she has seen this month: The Martian, Pawn Sacrifice, and The Walk. Each of those movies features these American actors at the very top of their game: Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire, Peter Sarsgaard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Usually, come the end of the year, the Oscar contenders get trotted out by the movie studios. And usually, a number of Oscar contenders will feature British actors like Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch. Or Australian actors like Russell Crowe.

Self thinks it is wonderful that the American actors are so dominant in this fall’s movies.

But, she digresses. She has to get going. Perhaps more, later?

Stay tuned.

“Snowpiercer” the 2nd Time: Murkiness and Mayhem

First time self saw this movie was in Mendocino. She downloaded it from Netflix. It was January.

Nah-ah. Chris Evans, bearded and in knit hat, scowling. Okaaay. Role didn’t need to be played by Chris Evans. Anyone of sufficient height and bulk and scowl would have done quite nicely.

Little did she know that she’d be watching it again just nine months later, in far different circumstances. She still doesn’t love it, but it is interesting.

Tilda Swinton is just so weird. She’s weird-looking, and she is totally fearless. Self has seen her in The Deep End, in We Need To Talk About Kevin, in Constantine (playing the earthiest angel ever) and now in Snowpiercer, where she is downright repulsive, with big horsey teeth and spittle flying out of her mouth as she shrieks against the rebels. Granted, this character would not be everyone’s cup of tea. But Tilda plays it with — wit? She actually pulls off a line that goes something like: “Because of those stubborn rebels, 74% of you will die.”


Jamie Bell is in this movie. He is one fine actor. In the scene where an enemy holds a knife to his throat, and Chris Evans, his buddy, has to choose between saving Jamie or going after Tilda Swinton, once it becomes clear which way Chris Evans will go (and we all know there is only one way Chris Evans will go), the change in his features is remarkable.

If this were a normal science fiction thriller, Jamie Bell would have a look on his face something like, “Atta boy, Buddy! Go for the Kill! Don’t bother with me! I’m ready to offer my life for the Cause!” But the look on his face once he realizes he’s been given up, is actually — sad? So sad. Which is actually how self would look, if she knew she was going to die in the next few seconds.

Self also loves the bizarre classroom teacher played by Alison Pill.

In one scene, Chris Evans yells “Fire!” and we have no idea what that means. Then, a little boy starts running from the back of the train with a lighted torch, cheered on by a crowd of people. He hands off the torch to what appears to be a one-armed man. Self wasn’t sure if this runner was really a one-armed man, so she kept following this figure as he raced through the murky depths of the cinematography. When she was finally convinced that the man running indeed had only one arm, the torch was passed on to a really handsome, buff dude who might have auditioned for Fifty Shades of Grey. What? What is the meaning of these three successive runners? The child, the one-armed man, and buff dude? Since self has seen 300, she is well-prepared for this last runner to die (It’s called The Astinos Trope. There, she made something up. Just this very second). But, confounding all her low expectations, he actually makes it all the way to the end and manages to throw a knife and inflict the first wound on Tilda Swinton (Unfortunately, it hits her on the leg and is not fatal)

Also, there is the obligatory (ever since Saving Private Ryan) close and intimate fight scene, where two men arm-wrestle for a knife at close quarters, and the one whose side we are on loses. And the knife goes in very, very slowly. And it’s so terrible.

Self is so glad she didn’t see this movie in a theatre. She might have walked out. Like she did after 45 minutes of Far From the Madding Crowd. But since she’s watching it on a TV screen, and she has access to her laptop, it is able to engage her attention.

And she’s ended up writing a long post when all she wanted to do was toss something off.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WSJ on Fan Films: Ready for the Next Parallel Universe

It’s no secret to self’s dear blog readers that she loves fan fiction.

Loves it.

When she finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy, she was so disappointed that there would be no more.

Since self is a very stubborn soul, she went roaming the World Wide Web and stumbled on

That was two years ago. She’s been committed to Everlark (Katniss Everdeen + Peeta Mellark pairings) fan fiction ever since.

She recently went ga-ga over another trilogy, Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. After finishing the last book of the series, Clockwork Princess, she scoured the fan fiction universe for Wessa (Will Herondale + Tessa Gray pairings).

Much to her dismay, there was hardly anything. (There were a lot of Jem Carstaris/Will Herondale pairings, though. BWAH HA HA!)

Then, she finished yet another trilogy, The 100. Her favorite character was Glass, who wasn’t even in the CW television adaptation, boo. Again self went scouring the fan fiction universe: there was nothing, zip, nada on Glass.

Tragic, so tragic!

A week ago, self bought a copy of The Wall Street Journal. There’s an article by Will Friedwald which is about Fan Films.

Fan Films are, Mr. Friedwald writes, “independently produced movies using familiar characters from iconic science-fiction and superhero franchises.”

“In the digital era,” Mr. Friedwald writes, “fan films have grown to the point where the best of them are not only incredibly sophisticated, often employing professional talent, but worthy of competing with the official product.” Many of the Fan Films, Mr. Friedwald continues, are better than epic studio disasters like Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds starrer, 2011).

“There’s only one rule governing so-called fan films: They’re not allowed to make a profit.”

And that applies also in the fan fiction universe.

There are authors of Everlark fan fiction who have so completely channeled Jane Austen that they can produce Everlark that sounds exactly like Pride and Prejudice (Self knows because she is a teacher and she has taught Pride and Prejudice)

There is something so pure about the field of fan fiction. There’s one story she likes, Katniss Everdeen Demonhunter, which is set in Hoboken, NJ. You can actually read KED just to find out what modern Hoboken is like, self kids you not. And if you ask the author for Hoboken restaurant recommendations, she will come right back at you. That’s how self discovered that Hoboken, NJ is a really cool place.

Another of her favorites, Synth, is better than I, Robot. Seriously. It features a cyborg named KTNS-12, a scientist named Beetee, and a Junior Scientist named Peeta (And Junior Scientist Peeta is simply adorbs, clucking like a mother hen over KTNS-12). Perhaps the author of Synth is simply a bored high school student who’d rather write her imaginary universe than prepare for her biology final. If she is, then self is here to tell her that she can always write, if all else fails.

(Self just remembered one more Everlark fan fiction: Katniss is a fan fiction writer. The title of Katniss’s story was something like District 12 or The Hunger Games or something self-referential along those lines. Peeta is her beta. They have such good chemistry, they are so — symbiotic. Peeta’s beta-ing makes Katniss’s fan fiction so much better, so much more appealing to readers. So of course one day they arrange to meet. And, well, you know, Everlark happens: WOOT HOOT!)

Friedwald goes on to examine two areas where the fan film universe is particularly rich: the Star Trek universe, and the Batman universe. And he tosses off film titles like Batgirl: Spoiled and Batman: Death Wish.

Star Trek, Friedwald maintains, is “the galactic epicenter of fan fiction and films.” It’s a universe dreamt up by geeks for other geeks. It’s why the characters of Big Bang Theory are the way they are, and why J. J. Abrams and Josh Whedon have such huge followings. No one gets rich doing this, and so it is a pure realm, where people like self can gambol to their heart’s delight.

Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal) Reviews “Z For Zachariah”

All three characters, being human, are flawed, but in one case the flaws reveal themselves through an explosive episode of not-so-convincing behavior — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal, 28 August 2015

Here’s the backstory:

It’s of course self’s faaaavorite kind of story: post-apocalyptic.

Margot Robbie plays Ann, a beautiful woman (great casting, there) who lives with her dog Pharaoh in a secluded valley that has miraculously evaded the effects of nuclear radiation. She is joined, first, by Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor), “clad in a radiation suit.” Shortly thereafter Caleb (Chris Pine) materializes.

Faster than one can say, LOVE TRIANGLE, Ann learns that “the notion of blessed sanctuary is no more plausible after Loomis wonders aloud about what could explain it (He figures it’s got something to do with the wind, or the lay of the land.)”


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Mistress America”: Sooo New York

Greta Gerwig is beautiful! Why did self not ever realize that before?

She doesn’t usually find blondes (other than J-Law) very expressive, but just watch “Mistress America” and you’ll see what self means.

In the movie, Gerwig plays Brooke, the muse for a budding writer at Barnard named Tracy. Tracy is much smarter than Gerwig’s character, despite the fact that Gerwig plays a woman 10 years older. Yet Tracy needs Gerwig to light a spark under her.


It’s a very New York movie. The characters all look like they could actually live in New York. They’re not particularly good-looking or anything (despite the fact that all the glossies make the streets of NY look oh-so-glamorous). Brooke, Gerwig’s character, is not a native New Yorker, which is why she obviously will not last!

Memorable Voice-Over Quote:


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self’s Biblical Revisionist “The Ark” (Local Nomad, Spring 2015)

The theme of the Spring 2015 issue of Local Nomad (edited by Filipino American poet Jean Vengua) was: KILLING GROUND.

Jean solicited a story from self; the short story she sent Jean was “The Ark.”


She wrote the story after watching Darren Aronofskly’s wild and fabulous “Noah,” starring Russell Crow and Jennifer Connelly.

  • Cruelty, he taught his sons, was essential.

Animals of all kind fascinate self, she’s not sure why.

Here’s an illustration from a children’s picture book called, simply, The Ark:

Illustration for Children's Book, THE ARK

Illustration for Children’s Book, THE ARK

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


Self was going to post about why TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY, but instead she’s decided to post about her wholly self-indulgent Everlarkian FEELZ! Can you believe the last Hunger Games movie is only three months away?

Trigger Warning: Emo Coming Up! Lots and lots of Emo!

Photo # 1:  Peeta, AKA Capitol Mutt, aka The Boy With the Bread, as incarnated by J-Hutch:

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark (Hi-jacked Capitol Peeta Mode)

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark (Hi-jacked Capitol Peeta Mode)

Of course, self would just love to have this entire post have only photos of Peeta, but — Not Fair. So, here’s unctuous Talk Show Host Caesar Flickerman:

Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Game Show Host Extraordinaire

Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Game Show Host Extraordinaire

And, the piece de resistance:

The Girl on Fire Herself: A Design Notebook Sketch for THE HUNGER GAMES

The Girl on Fire Herself: A Design Notebook Sketch for THE HUNGER GAMES

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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