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Mockingjay

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Novel Ideas is back! At least for this week. The plan had been to get this episode up around the time the movie was released, so expect a lot of hedging on estimates of when new episodes will be released. Adding context makes comments about having more content up by the end of the year more understandable, more amusing, and a bit more shameful. At any rate, here is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, perhaps you’ve heard of it? If you listen, you will hear discussions about PTSD, the morality of war, weaknesses of characterization, and-dare I say it?-feminism. Not to mention messing with the shippers, different varieties of tridents, the curative power of babies in fiction, and why Gale is the worst.

If the audio quality seems off, we recorded and mixed this on a new rig. So Gabs is present via the power of the internet rather than the power of sitting at a table and may sound like she is present via the power of two tin cans linked by a string. Our apologies. Expect more of it. Eventually.

The music bump is “Back on the Streets Again” by the always timely Tower of Power.

93 – Mockingjay – The Bad Guys Would Eat Its Meat

Our ratings:

Ben: 8/10. A more mature story than the first two with less action, but more interesting discussion points.

Gabs: 7.5/10 Peetas. (And zero Gales because he is terrible.) The book has some issues, but damn it, it’s trying.

 

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Angels in America

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Our drama push continues this week on Novel Ideas with Angels in America by Tony Kushner, a very long two part play about… AIDS, maybe? This is a massive work, resulting in a longer than average episode where we mostly thrash about and try to figure out what various fantastical occurrences actually mean. In this episode, we discuss change, reluctant prophets, conservatism, and homosexuality. We also talk about why Tony Kushner won’t be appearing on the podcast, stupid alternate titles, chewing down a tree, and try to figure out what’s up with Joe. In the angelic realm alone, we examine the sexual habits of angels (always banging), the genitalia of angels (many and varied), and how angels maintain creation (mostly via jizz, as it turns out).

The music bump is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” not merely as yet another one of Ben’s terrible attempts at humor, but also because it actually appears in the play, though perhaps not in a traditional context.

Angels in America – Angels Be Crazy

Recommendations:

A very lengthy play (actually two plays) that is rather confusing to read at times because it’s supposed to be staged. Still has some power and effect though.

Gabs: 7/8 angelic vaginas.

Ben: 8/10 bouquets of phalli.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

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We apologize for the lengthy interregnum, it was so long that we had to look up a new word just to describe it. Or possibly we just have trouble getting our act together sometimes. At any rate, Novel Ideas is back with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, a story of a woman’s personal journey to self-realization. Listen to the episode to hear our conversation about dialect, ambition, feminism, and race. We also talk about white history professors, bees, how rabies works, and kickass deathbed scenes.

Quick scheduling note: We’re trying to post an episode for John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War next week, followed by our year in review episode for “Season 2” of Novel Ideas. There is likely to be a couple more missed weeks after that as Gabs gets married and goes on her honeymoon. Or maybe Ben will post something highly self-indulgent while we’re waiting. We’ll have to see.

If you have any comments or questions about anything we’ve talked about in the past year, please let us know! Also, if there’s anything you were hoping we might talk about outside those books, also let us know. We’d like to find some interesting and slightly different content for the end of the year episode if we can.

The music bump this week is “Janie Runaway” by Steely Dan, after our plucky protagonist.

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Too Dignified for a Mule Funeral

Recommendations:

A 20th century classic that is commonly assigned in school with a lot of conversation worthy content. A little tough to read due mainly to the use of dialect, but also rather short.

Gabs: 7/10 for literary value, 5/10 for ease of reading.

Ben: 5.5/10 because I liked it more than I didn’t, but just barely. This one felt kind of like assigned reading.

Codename Verity

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Novel Ideas returns with Codename Verity by Elizabeth Wein. This episode was recorded several months ago to buy us some breathing room if we ever needed it. As it turns out, my time issues effect editing more than reading and recording, so I believe having this episode available has prevented zero missed podcast weeks. Good intentions and all, right? At any rate, listen to the episode to hear us talk about World War 2 tropes, friendship, homosexual undertones, and torture. We also discuss improv skills, Handsy McHandsfuck, shipper distractions, and experience our own brief distraction.

The music bump is “Beautiful Friendship” as performed by the Hanna-Fontana band. It has nothing to do with the thing the name sounds very similar to…

Codename Verity – What Do You Call A Female Bromance

Recommendations:

It has been several months since we read this one, so we’re forgoing numerical ratings this week, but I can sum things up thusly:

Gabs: Thought it was good. Actually features several strong female characters in a setting where women usually aren’t featured.

Ben: If it’s about spies, I like it; if it’s about friendship, I don’t like it. Except I might like it anyway.

Beloved

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Novel Ideas wraps up Banned Book Month with Beloved by Toni Morrison, a story of escaping the past against the background of slavery. This book is a rather difficult read, as it written non-traditionally, shifting points of view and tenses and using some modern literary techniques that don’t get used often in popular fiction. In this episode we talk about some of those challenges, as well as gender and publishing, slavery, the context of infanticide, and the difficulty of escaping the past. We also discuss “enlightened” slave owners, weird sex, whitepeople, and our need of a professor to help us decipher the text. This book was a rich topic for discussion, we hope you find this episode interesting.

The music bump is “Freedom” by Charles Mingus.

Beloved – Not A Dead White Guy

Recommendations:

Gabs: 6/10 as an enjoyable book, 8/10 as something you should read.

Ben: I might not go as high as 6/10 for enjoyability, but it was a pretty powerful book. I’m also going to say 8/10 as something you should read.

Harry Poddercast Roundtable Part 1

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Welcome to the concluding episode of the Harry Poddercast Extravaganza, our roundtable discussion of the entire series. Or perhaps Harry Potter is just too huge to be disposed of so easily. Turns out, we can’t end it in a reasonable length of time. This is Part 1 of our roundtable, with Part 2 going up later today, or possibly tomorrow morning. In this episode, we primarily discuss characters and issues related to characterization. We talk about love, choice, angst, imperfection, redemption, and some of favorite/least favorite characters. We also discuss Game of Thrones, Parks and Rec, why you shouldn’t mess with old ladies, and Neville being Neville. There’s also a noticeable, but hopefully not too distracting, amount of whiny dog in the background from time to time. Sorry about that, he just wanted in on the action.

The music bump is “One Last Time” by Dream Theater, because I like to make them look like liars. Filthy, filthy liars.

Recommendations:

The books are already read, so if you’re listening to this, we hope you know exactly what you’re getting into!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

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The portion of the Harry Poddercast Extravaganza that involves specific volumes of the series draws to a close with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. In this episode, we discuss why anyone listening would need a spoiler alert, love, redemption, hubris, character flaws, and realism within a fantastical world. We also discuss Neville’s giant brass balls, love again, the Ron-Hermione shiptease, the stupidity of Death Eaters, and name issues. We’re not quite through yet, there will be one more massive episode where we sit around a table with some friends and break down the entire series. It has been recorded already, and it is exactly what we thought it was going to be. Long, mostly.

The music bump is a departure from the Potter related music of the previous six episodes, but is thematically appropriate. It is “Love Has the Power” by Toto, though I’m reasonably certain they weren’t referring to magic.

Recommendations:

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