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You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: 3/18/12 - 3/25/12

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie...The Odds are Definitely in its Favor

This was at the Rave theater near Cordova Mall in Pensacola.  Someone had a good time making this out of posters.
Today I did something very anti-social.  I went BY MYSELF to a movie.  I can't remember the last time I did that.  I just didn't feel like coordinating with anyone else.  I knew I could go on Friday while the kids were at school and I didn't want anyone to stop me.

I had been drooling to see The Hunger Games movie for about a year.  Probably because I read the trilogy about a year ago.  For the past 12 months, I discussed with the GeekMoms on our message board every time photos from the film shoot, posters and trailers were publicized.

The excitement was pretty palpable by the time I bought my ticket this morning at a theater in Pensacola.  I had to haul out that far because that was the only place in 50 miles offering showings before noon.

Not counting the midnight showings, of course...but I couldn't do that last night, Dave was TDY and just got home today.  If he was home I might have gone.

(Warning: contains some slight spoilers)

The movie was phenomenal.  The crew did an amazing job recreating the grey physical and emotional demeanor of District 12 (Appalachia/coal country).  When Effie Trinket (played by Elizabeth Banks, who you might remember from Zack and Miri Make a Porno), the Capitol representative assigned to the District 12 tributes, steps onto the stage to draw the names, she and a flag of Panem above her are the ONLY splashes of color in an otherwise grey and brown world.

The scenes of the mountains, coal mines, the train, the Capitol and the over-the-top appearance of those who live in the Capitol are all very well done.

Being that I knew the story well, I could mentally fill in the blanks with what WASN'T being shown in the movie (they couldn't cover everything, you know).  For example, even though it wasn't shown, I knew Katniss had a hard time finding water in the first several days.  They just skipped that part in the movie, she was contentedly filling her canteen in a pond within minutes of the start of the games.  To be honest, it wasn't a huge part of the story...except to provide some time setting.

The minutes before Katniss stepped into the "tube" that transported her up into the arena were amazing.  Numerous closeups of Kat shaking like a leaf.  Her eyes convey fear unlike anything I've ever seen in film...not even Carol Ann Freeling!  You're scared right along with her.

Rue's death.  Oh my goodness.  It's a VERY emotional part of the book, and the film paid that scene every respect it deserved.  I got slightly teary eyed when I read the book...I bawled during the movie.  Less Rue's death itself, but when Katniss puts three fingers to her lips and then raises her fingers to salute the cameras...and the reaction of District 11 (Rue's home district).  WOW!  Yeah, I'm glad I had plenty of napkins leftover from my concessions.

The film was entirely shot in North Carolina.  Asheville, Concord, Charlotte and part of several National Forests.  The scenery is stunning...

When I posted to Facebook about seeing the movie, I got a couple of inquiries about whether the movie was appropriate for their kids.  It's rated PG-13, and the crew worked VERY hard to keep it that way.

My two boys want to see the movie.  They've seen enough of the trailers on TV, and a couple of Jacob's friends have already read at least the first book.  I said "No" to them.  I MIGHT read the book WITH them later this year.  I haven't decided yet.  I know Jacob can handle it, he seems quite resilient when it comes to delineating what's real and what's not real.

I can't say whether you should take your child to the movie outright, but I will offer my perspective:

  • I read the book before I saw the movie.  The book's descriptions of the violence, the freaky genetically-engineered creatures and the heartlessness that you feel for those in the Capitol are MUCH more vivid than what's shown in the film. 
  • The "bloodbath" in the first two minutes of the actual games is very graphic in the book.  But the cinematography during that scene is done such that you can't actually see much at all.  In an attempt to capture the chaos that Katniss is experiencing, the camera is very shaky and does a lot of quick pans.
  • You WILL see several of the tributes get killed.  Those scenes aren't gory, though...just sad in some cases, brutal in others.
  • The romance/love triangle is really played down.  A couple of kisses, but the dialogue and emotions that Katniss are feeling isn't at the forefront of the story.  The thrill of the hunt is definitely the priority here.

Let me point you to two reviews written by GeekMom colleagues today.  They also offer similar perspectives.

GeekMom review by Amy Kraft.
GeekDad review by Kathy Ceceri.

There's definitely some drama going on between the incredible craze The Hunger Games has caused...alongside the huge flop that is Disney's John Carter.  This article offers some insight to how The Hunger Games' producer Nina Jacobson ironically used to be co-president of Disney Motion Picture Group.  I wouldn't be surprised if The Hunger Games earns more this weekend than John Carter's worldwide totals so far (as of this writing, about $180M).

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Break Road Trip 2012, Part 3: Visiting Old Friends, Meeting New Friends!!!

One of the things I'm guilty of is trying to balance visiting friends with every trip we take back to the Northeast.  You know who you are!  There are many of you I haven't been able to see in YEARS because we're trying to see other friends.

Now that I'm a GeekMom, there are a dozen+ ladies I want to meet on my travels.  I can't wait to meet more of you!  I'll be in the D.C. area (again) and Long Island by the end of the year....

On this trip, we got to meet up with old friends from Nebraska, North Carolina, and we got to meet up with new GeekMom/GeekDad friends.

While we were in WV, we drove out to Centreville, VA and met some friends for dinner.

Poor Timmy was sick so he stayed at my parents while the rest of us met the Folzes near Washington,  D.C.  We were neighbors in Nebraska and you might remember these boys from Cub Scout pictures and from our trip to the Ashfall Fossil Beds in summer 2010.  The kids picked up right where they left off -- and we grown-ups had a great time catching up.  Dave had so many questions for Nick about his Pentagon commute.
We met up with Don, Maryann, Joey and Johnny at a BBQ restaurant in Durham.  We are so grateful that they made the drive -- on a school night! -- out to see us!

Maryann looked FANTASTIC!!!  I felt so underdressed next to her :-)

Maryann took this nice picture of all four boys actually sitting still!

The following day, I headed over to Southpoint Mall in Durham to pick up a long-awaited iPhone 4S (whoo hoo!) and we had a chance to meet up with our friends the Warlicks for lunch in the food court.

Strike a pose!

I had taken about 50 pictures of the boys playing at this fountain with my new phone. But then I had some syncing problems when I first plugged it in...I lost those pictures.  But Wendy sent me everything she had on her camera, thanks!

I was so excited to finally get to meet a fellow GeekMom author in person! We had an invitation to visit one of the GeekMom editors, Natania Barron and her husband, GeekDad writer Michael Harrison. For Natania, Michael and me, it was like old friends seeing each other after a long while, since we talk so much via Facebook, Twitter and our GeekMom discussion boards. But for Dave, he was getting to meet them and talk to them for the first time. We had a fun time enjoying Greek food for dinner -- Natania made it all! -- and the kids enjoyed a game of Zombie Dice with Michael.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Break Road Trip 2012, Part 2: North Carolina

This picture was taken minutes before we headed to our truck and started our drive home.
After hooking up the lawn mower to our truck in WV, we headed back down I-81 and U.S. 29 towards my sister's house in central North Carolina.  I blew through her place -- stopping overnight in each direction -- driving to and from NY last summer, but this time we get to spend a few days in the area...and this was Dave's first trip back since we moved away in July 2008.

My sister and I always have great times when we get together.  We often stay up late and talk talk talk until we're falling asleep on each other!  We discuss books, movies and music and catch up on gossip.  I didn't take any pictures, we sat at her kitchen table and folded origami cranes while we talked.

The kids take off like a pack of wolves and only need grownups' attention when they're hungry or hurt.  It's actually rather relaxing, believe it or not.

My dear sister made us a cake!

We enjoyed a picnic lunch at a new park in Hillsborough.  Several of us took runs around the 2/3-mile-long track that circles the park.

The little ones played on the playground.


Running, complete with iPod!

Dave liked this park: check out the view he had of this NC Amtrak train!  He on the small hill on the right side of this picture, also photographing it.

Wouldn't you know it -- we had scooters and helmets in the truck!  The kids took turns riding around.

Time for an iPod break.


My sister's boys have a trampoline on their property. My boys couldn't get enough of it!

My sister kept the boys while Dave and I had a morning to ourselves to browse Trader Joe's and Southern Season in Chapel Hill.  Money was spent.

Southern Season: These are just jams and jellies!

Dave was enjoying the fun wine section.

Cake decorating supplies!!!!  I bought some non-pareil cows.  I don't have immediate plans to make a cow-themed cake, but you never know....
I've taken enough pictures of Trader Joe's -- I feel like a dork when I do it.  But I did photograph this beer that we used to get.  We elected not to attempt taking alcohol across NC/SC/GA/AL/FL.
Before we hit the road on Saturday for a partial drive home, we enjoyed watching my oldest nephew's soccer game in Mebane.

One more post is forthcoming about last week -- all the other friends we had a chance to see on this trip!  Stay tuned!

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Spring Break Road Trip 2012, Part 1: West Virginia and a Circus

Last week was the kids' Spring Break.  The family headed up to West Virginia to visit my parents, thanks to their offer for us to take their riding lawn mower.  My Dad bought it 1-2 years ago, but they don't use it much.  I guess they felt sorry for us with our larger-than-necessary lawn...which I discussed last year when I measured how many miles I had walked to cut my lawn with our 22" wide mower.

We drove a VERY long day on Saturday.  Thanks to some Choice Hotel loyalty points, we got a free hotel room in Roanoke and were at my parents by Sunday at lunchtime.

My parents had arranged a nice surprise for the boys: a trip to the circus!

This is a circus that set up in a gymnasium.  Small, but for the kids, it was a lot of fun!

The Walker Brothers Circus travels around the eastern United States.  It's a very small operation, with the ringmaster taking our tickets at the front door, and the acrobats selling concessions when they aren't actively performing.  The entire event is very small, unlike the larger Ringling Brothers circuses, so there were several chances to personally interact with the performers.

Ever see those free tickets at local grocery stores?  That's the type of circus we went to.

The boys enjoyed the bouncy house before the circus, and the assorted acts.  My parents got them cotton candy and toy light sabers.

Waiting for the show to start.
He loves cotton candy!

The ringleader blew fireballs!

This is Gianni -- balancing on tubes. 

A hula hoop act.
I was having a hard time with the camera from the distance we were sitting, so I stopped after this point.

The rest of our visit, we relaxed and hung out.  Dave and Timmy went to the Baltimore area to visit one of Dave's friends' train stores, and he met a friend for lunch.  Jacob and I spent a day shopping with my Mom, which was fun.  Jacob desperately needed some new running shoes, so he was stuck with us girls for the day.

We also drove out to the Washington, D.C. suburbs to visit some friends for dinner, but that's for another post.

Timmy and my parents all got sick during our visit.  That was pretty icky, unfortunately.

Mid-week, we loaded my parents' lawn mower on a U-Haul trailer and made the drive down to North Carolina, where we visited with my sister.

Parked at a Cracker Barrel on the way down to central NC.

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