Hunger Games Trilogy

I had the recent misfortune to finish reading the three books in the Hunger Games Series.  Before reading further, if you have not read them and you plan to stop reading now.  Final warning.

********Spoiler Alert********
I started reading them because they came recommended by many of my friends and family.  The first book was even mildly entertaining, if not very original.  The characters had potential and there was the possibility of getting to know a dystopian future with lessons to learn.  Ends up, the author was creative enough only to write the same book three times changing only the location and the names of the people killed.
And killing she did.  The author seemed to delight in finding new ways of describing death and killing.  The first book is not too graphic but each book after finds the author going deeper and deeper into a the dark impulses in her brain.  Also, I knew going in that kids would be killed, I just had no idea a person could enjoy writing so much in such detail about the pain and suffering.  I felt sad that the author could not find a better way to tell her story.
But then, she’s not a great story teller.  Each book is essentially the main character Katniss going through the games teaming up with people and killing others.  All the while we’re stuck in her adolescent head worrying about her feelings for two boys and not grasping her own worth.  One may argue the books were written for a younger audience; however, the level of violence depicted would only be suitable for someone over 17 by which time the reader should ready for 3 dimensional characters rather than poor stereotypes.  They should want a rich world and plots that don’t have huge gaps. 
The plot gaps were worse than the tedium of reading the same book three times.  Somehow, this is the only nation left on earth since the rest of the planet is polluted beyond habitation.  There is technology enough to have flying machines, tv, holo-maps and control of remote weapons of fantastic capabilities, but no satellites to make any of that possible.  They can create impossible biological creatures of mixed DNA fabricated to kill only, but somehow they can control the creatures.  Finally, there is the gaps in logic that are required just to move the story along.  Every time you think it’s bad the author makes it worse.  The final scene where the author just starts shooting kids and blowing them up, then inexplicably all the characters seem to lose their sense of sight and good judgment resulting in the killing of Prim, the younger sister that started the whole thing off.  My eyes rolled so far into my head I could see my brain shrinking from how useless that plot point was
It seems to me the author simply could not decide who she wanted to be; a young adult writer like Eoin Colfer or a horror writer the delights in killing main characters like Stephen King.   She could not decide if her main character was strong or constantly self doubting.  The only points that came across loud and clear is decadence, TV and wars are bad.  I just found these books to be worse.

Google + No More

I decided to ditch Google +.  I felt it was more than I wanted to keep up with and I really did not keep up with it very much.  I think I gave it a fair shot, labeling my friends, getting followed by strangers and putting all my other Google services at risk since I did not feel the need to use my real name.  I like the fact that it is there and pushing FB to make improvements, but there is no real benefit to me using it.  Maybe when Google finally achieves complete world domination and forces everyone to get a Google ID, I’ll relent.  But until then I’ll keep it simple posting to my three blogs and FB.  :^)

My Fellow Americans…

I decided to listen the the President’s address on jobs, though I don’t normally tune into this sort of thing.  I was impressed with the plan he laid out and was hopeful that some progress might be made.

Of course, I knew what the reaction would be.  The republicans are so very predicable.  Rather than come up with a plan, they want to whine about how all the poor rich people will get hurt if this plan goes forward.  Poor hedge fund managers would have to pay their fair share of taxes instead of the incredibly low capital gains tax.

I understand the rich already pay more under our graduated system.  I also know they have plenty of money to purchase people to shelter much of that money to avoid pay those taxes.  Rich people, and certainly rich banks, do not create jobs. They don’t build schools.  They don’t build hospitals, or roads or pay off the unusually high debt it takes to go to school.  They buy opulent things or stash their money in banks (that got bail out money) to make loans to the plebeians that worship the rich and try to act like them by buy junk they don’t need.

The nation needs to work and updating our aging infrastructure is a good way to do that.  I encourage you to write to your Congress Critters and tell them to pass the plan or present a better one.  Not sure who your representatives are?  Here you go:

Congrats! You made it! Now what…

How many of us have worked hard, REALLY hard, to get to some point, achieve some goal only to actually make it?  We find ourselves at the end of the long road of single minded devotion faced with a very large open field that spans in all directions as far as the eye can see.  There might be a lot of trails, but no defined roads.  Mostly likely the road you were just on is gone, since there is no going back.

That is how I felt upon hearing my predecessor was finally retiring and I was given the accounting department.  I have two people working for me and a lot of expectations to live up to.  Until now, I was a task guy.  Each day I had a stack of tasks to do and I’d get them done.  I am very good at making things more efficient, making daily tasks quick and easy to finish.  Now I am expected to take those tasks and delegate.  At the moment, I can just teach the task and work out future procedures to pass on.  However, at some point I will need to teach others to work out the problem.  This is not something I have done a lot of, but it looks like my new challenge.

It seems like the old way of doing things was to learn a job and make yourself invaluable my making sure no one else could do your job.  That way, no matter how incompetent you were, it would still trump other peoples’ ignorance.  My philosophy is to see just how much I can get off my plate and into the hands of others.  I think it would be very hard to teach my way out of a job, and I am still very good at problem solving, so the end result should be a group that just gets better.  I suppose we’ll see what kind of teacher I am.

So, here I am in the middle of a wide open field.  I think I’ll head left for a while and see where that goes.

…but Wade is such a nice guy.

With the news of Wade Philips being canned as the Cowboys head coach, there has been a lot of talk about whether it was fair or even a good idea.  One of the most often used reasons was that Wade was such a nice guy.

A nice guy?  Really?  Being a nice guy is great if you are a greeter at Walmart.  Being a nice guy is really useful when you are doing phone surveys and being a nice guy will probably get you a few friends.  But Wade was a head coach for a bunch of over paid, muscle bound prima donas.  Testosterone does not respond well to weakness and lets be candid, in the male dominated world of sports being nice is seen as a weakness.

Now I’m not saying they need to be Oakland Raiders, mean and dirty underhanded.  You can still be a class act and not be nice.  You need to be tough, stand your ground and take no excuses.  All I saw from the Cowboys has been a lot of talent running around on a field.  No direction, no cohesive plan.

The Cowboys need a leader.   A Coach.  Yes Coach, no Coach, right away Coach!  A guy that will be tough on his players and not accept excuses.  A coach that does not allow failure to go on and on in his coach staff.  

I’m sorry Wade lost his job.  Like Jimmy Johnson, he was probably a victim of the GM over management  of the team, but that just illustrates the point further.  A tough coach would not care about his managers ideas.  He would work his team hard and get results.  He would sit out the underachievers for a little bit and let their egos stew on a second or third stringer getting some play time.

I hope this is a wake up call for all the other staff (You hear the footsteps don’t you Garrett?).  I hope the team understands they are largely to blame as well.  Finally, I hope for a tough head coach that will get this team moving in the right direction.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time

I just finished watching Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.  I had high hopes for a fantasy action thriller based on a game I played years ago as a kid.  The movie had a lot of promise but failed to deliver on many points.  Technically it is not well done.  The camera is jerky during intense scenes, the CGI looks like it was done by the local community college and the world is way too plastic and cardboard to get you in the moment.  The characters are flat, the British accents are very distracting and the director really likes scenes with people alone in high places while the camera whirls around them.  Being a Disney film, there are no mothers or any really useful female characters.  Even the female lead comes across as half baked, overly proud an in need of a man to save her.  I wish I had something nice to say about the movie, but it just had no redeeming qualities.