THE HUNGER GAMES

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If you’re the sort of person who thinks it’s cool to force young people to kill each other for sport . . . well, The Hunger Games is going to seriously mess with your mind, because, as Facebook friend Robert Dunlap observes, it condemns that sort of thing in no uncertain terms.

This is a way of saying that The Hunger Games is platitudinous tripe — like a film that soundly and earnestly condemns Nazis and the holocaust.

Still . . . it can’t be dismissed quite that easily.

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And that’s because it revives and gives new life to the image of Diana the Huntress, with her impeccable, potent virginity and her skill with a bow and arrow.  The Greeks were canny and wise — they created the image of Diana for a reason, because they knew that civilization could not depend entirely on the unfailing competence of men.

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They understood that times like our own might arise, times in which male competence might be hard to come by — and they wanted to reassure us that female competence would not vanish, that it would be there to take up the slack of male collapse, if it had to.

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The image of Katniss Everdeen’s prowess with the bow is thrilling and consoling, even in this dreadfully bad movie — as the image of Diana the Huntress was thrilling to the Greeks and to other cultures through the ages.  If the survival of our species, if the vitality of our civilization, were dependent solely on the competence of men, life would be a dodgy proposition at best.  But women have got our backs — Katniss and the Greeks assure us of this, and of the fact that all will be well in the end.

A THOMAS EAKINS FOR TODAY

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Cowboys in the Badlands, 1887.

Eakins based this painting on studies he made during a ten week trip to the Dakota Badlands in 1886, following his dismissal as an instructor at the Philadelphia Academy Of Art.  He was dismissed for presenting totally nude male models to female students at the academy, and went West to recover his spirits.

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TWELFTH NIGHT

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I’m drinking my last egg nog of the season, about to unplug the lights on my Christmas tree. My 63rd Christmas has all but come and gone, which is 63 more Christmases than anyone deserves — enough to last me forever.

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GOD BLESS IT

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“I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore . . . though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, ‘God bless it!’”

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