American Idol x Lord of the Flies

So, The Hunger Games opened today, and my review won’t go to print until next Thursday, so I’m putting it up now. I couldn’t have written a book about this movie, but I stayed within my word count, mostly. Here it is.

Over the last ten years, Hollywood has been obsessed with turning young adult sci-fi and fantasy series into billion dollar film franchises, and not always successfully. For every Harry Potter and Twilight there have been movies like The Golden Compass and The Dark Is Rising. While the Harry Potter movies eventually became watchable, even good, the rest of the franchises have been cinematic porridge: mushy, dull, forgettable. Compared to all of these, the film adaptation of The Hunger Games is Citizen Kane. Based on the first novel in the wildly popular Suzanne Collins trilogy about a post-apocalyptic dystopia where former rebel districts must send teen-agers to an annual fight to the death, The Hunger Games is a relative, not actual, masterpiece. It is exciting, inventive, infuriating, weird, long, and ultimately very entertaining. Continue…

My essay on “American Idol”

Recently, I was talking with a 17-year-old boy about our mutual desire to front a rock band and our mutual realization that such a fantasy will remain just that. He articulated our problem quite well: “I love to sing, but singing doesn’t seem to love me.”

I had long thought that I’d be a good singer if I just learned how. When Rob and I were preparing to get married, I decided to ignore those who’d told me I was tone deaf (including a Tony-nominated music director) and sing to him at our wedding. I chose “When You Say Nothing At All,” Rob’s favorite love song. It was to be a surprise, and I had a secret lesson with my best friend Curtis, a songwriter and music wunderkind who told me that if I practiced enough, I could get away with the performance. (Obviously, he said I wasn’t tone deaf.) I got into the habit of singing along with Randy Travis’s version on my iPod as I walked to and from the subway every day. I convinced myself that I sounded great—some odd vibration in my jaw and skull led me to believe I was harmonizing with Randy. Of course, I wasn’t, and, thankfully, I chickened out at the wedding; I didn’t need to humiliate myself in front of all of my family and friends. And when I finally sang to Rob in the comfort of our own home, I sounded worse than the worst lambs-to-the-slaughter on “American Idol“.