Hunger Games Review

I was first introduced to The Hunger Games by a co-worker. I had seen the books before as they lined the shelves of my local Wal-Mart but it never occurred to me to even try reading the books. Then I heard about a movie being released. Suddenly the books, that I had no intention of reading, became a phenomenon that was getting increasingly more difficult to ignore. So I picked them up. I should preface things by saying that whenever anything becomes a part of pop culture, I become leery of it ( I still refuse to touch anything Twilight.) Most of the time things that become over popular aren’t really that good. Harry Potter might be the exception to the rule. The story of The Hunger Games is about a post apocalyptic society ( formally America) called Panem. America was subject to a rebellion which ended up in annihilation. As a result, Panem is formed. In this society, Panem is divided into 13 districts and each district is known for a different product that they contribute to the society. A totalitarian government is formed and, as a punishment to Panem for the rebellion, each district must offer two of their children each year( one male, one female between the ages of 12-18) to fight to the death in what is called The Hunger Games. Only 12 of the districts compete and the competition is televised. Each person is chosen in a raffle of sorts during a ceremony called The Reaping. A person can have their name entered into the raffle multiples times. Each person can be entered multiple times if they buy tesserae( extra rations in exchange for their name being added into the raffle).

If you haven’t read the books, and plan to, you should not read this next part. The main character of the story is Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old female who is taking care of her family after her father dies in a tragic mining accident. Her mom decides she is emotionally unable to handle the stress of the loss and ‘checks out’, forcing Katniss to take care of her younger sister Primrose. The story begins with Katniss meeting her best friend and semi-romantic interest (Gale) in the woods where they go hunting together. Hunting is forbidden by the Capitol of Panem and is enforced by giant space ships that patrol the skies and abduct people that are doing it. The prisoners are taken to the capitol where their tongues are removed and they are forced into becoming servants to the rich. It is a Reaping day and both Katniss and Gale are worried about the games( Gale’s name is in the lottery over 40 times). After hunting, Katniss returns home to her mom preparing her youngest daughter for the Reaping Ceremony. She is 12 and it is her first Reaping. Katniss assures that Primrose will not be chosen because her name is only in the Reaping once. And of course she is chosen. In order for Katniss to protect her sister she volunteers to take her place in the Hunger Games. The boy that is chosen is Peeta Mellark, who is also 16. We learn later that Peeta has a crush on Katniss and, as a result, both Peeta and Katniss are forced to pretend to be star crossed lovers in order to keep themselves alive.

There are other characters in the series that have important roles but in order to make this sound less like a summary of the series and more like a review, I’m going to skip introducing them all. As a review to the book and movie, I want to start by saying that this is a Young Adult series that should not be marketed to kids in any way, shape or form. The idea of children killing children should be shocking and disgusting and parents that are incensed that this book is in school libraries have a legitimate concern. That being said, it is marketed for young adults. There is no doubt in my mind that the author intended her series to be a pointed commentary about reality TV and the shocking violence in schools but I’m not sure that kids would understand that distinction. The books are brutal and violent and evoke strong emotions. As an adult, I found myself appreciative of the irony and satire that blatantly poked fun at the audacity of reality TV, but as an uncle I found myself concerned that children are reading this series. So what did I think of the Hunger Games movie and book? Both the book and movie do an excellent job of showing how TV distorts reality and also does a great job of pointing out the disgusting things that society determines is acceptable. The book does an excellent job of reminding us that teenagers are fickle and adult emotions can be confusing to younger kids. But this is where I’m conflicted. Spoiler alert…….in order for the book to be brought to life, the director had to find a way to allow the books’ main audience to be consumers of the movie without making it Rated R. In some ways, I think this is where the movie fell short. While the movie did plenty to show us the absurdity of the games, it used a shaky cam technique to portray the violence of kids killing kids and, as a result, the violence didn’t pack the same emotional punch the books had. While I completely understand that it had to be done to keep it at a PG-13 rating, I don’t think the movie did enough to tick us off. In fact, I’d have played on the controversy even more to make the movie even better. Strange decisions were made in what was not included in the movie. For instance, in the book, Gale and Katniss witness a girl being abducted in the woods and later Katniss sees her at the Capitol as a mute servant whose tongue was removed. In addition, in the book, Katniss and Peeta are chased by dogs that have the faces of the other kids that were killed. Both of those instances serve as reminders that we are supposed to be incensed and Katniss as well toward the Capitol. We get that Katniss is upset that she is participating in the barbaric games but we lose the glimpses at just how low the Capitol is willing to stoop to terrify these children and punish them. They also made the budding romance between Peeta and Katniss too easy. In the book her indecision about Peeta borders on annoying, while in the movie it’s not really touched on enough.

As far as the acting goes, I thought the boy who played Peeta was spot on. I also thought that Woody Harrelson did a great job at playing the deeply disturbed and drunken mentor for Peeta and Katniss. I also thought Stanley Tucci was great as a TV commentator and Lenny Kravitz was also great as their stylist. I’m still on the fence on Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of the Heroin I guess her performance seemed wooden to me.

All in all, I though the movie was good. Could it have been better? Yes, but at the cost of losing its target audience. Satire should be unapologetic. The book was. The movie was not. I’d give it 3 stars

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Favorite CD’s this year

My five favorite cd’s of the year

Every year about this time people put out their best of lists. Usually those lists are filled with things that I’ve never heard of. It’s also usually full of ten things too but I don’t have 10. I have five.

People who know me well, know that music is one of the things I love the most. This year I heard some pretty amazing music. Below are my five favorite cd’s that I heard this year for the first time. In descending order

5) Until We Have Faces- Red

I first heard this band about 4-5 years ago and while I liked them, I didn’t love them. Let me say this: their latest CD rocks!!! Red is one of those bands that has a fairly unique sound, in that the heavy guitar laden songs are mixed with a string section that plays with equal intensity and is both haunting and beautiful. The band is a Christian band and although their songs ring with the truth of the gospel, they don’t try to preach Christianity. In fact, their songs are mostly about finding God in the midst of pain and desolation. If you love hard rock/emo music you should definitely check this CD out

4) Sigh No More- Mumford and Sons

This CD is very different than the last and although it was technically released in 2010, i just started listening to the CD within the last 6 months. Sigh No More is definitely an acquired taste but is is easily one of the best CD’s I have ever owned. The CD is full of what can only be described as Irish folk music with banjo added in. The lyrics are written with care and are full of wisdom way beyond the years of the vocalists singing them. The CD has some of the best vocal harmonies you will ever hear and the richness of the vocals is worth buying the CD for by itself. The Cd has elements of spirituality in it but it can also be profane at times. If you don’t like the “F bomb” in your music then you will not like the song “Little Lion Boy”. It is the only song with profanity. What makes the CD different is that it’s not about sexual innuendo and meeting people in bars. There are songs on this CD that talk about a person’s character. I highly recommend this.

3) Vice Verses- Switchfoot

To this day Switchfoot has my favorite CD of all time. When Beautiful Letdown was released I didn’t think it could be outdone. It has. Vice Verses marks the return of a band that many thought had broken up. This is easily their best effort to date. The CD mixes blaring guitar riffs with motivational lyrics that encourage the listener to live life to the fullest. However, there are also songs on the CD that talk about the struggle people face when trying to be a good person but failing. “The War Inside”, the third track on the recording, is the best song they have ever recorded. Other highlights on the CD include “afterlife”‘a song about not waiting to the afterlife to come alive and “dark horses” which asks the listeners to not count the band out. Great music with a great message

2) All At Once- Airborne Toxic Event

Although this CD has been in my player more than any other this year, I was not able to say it was the best of the year. I love, love, love this CD!!! And honestly, it had to grow on me. The band’s first single off the CD,” changing”, is really one of the best songs of the year and is about a relationship that goes bad when a significant other is always expecting change out of their partner but doesn’t see the effort put into the relationship. The CD shows a diversity that not all bands are capable of showing. The CD starts off with two songs that have an 80’s new wave feel to them that keeps your toes tapping and singing along with the CD. It slows down throughout the CD and almost has an Irish folk music sound to it in parts. For all the parents out there, the fifth song on the CD drops an “F Bomb” but it’s quick and almost unrecognizable. One of the best ways to enjoy their music is to watch them perform it. There are many different performances on YouTube and each is very impressive. This is an excellent CD

1) Wasting Light- Foo Fighters

When Nirvana existed, I couldn’t have cared less about Dave Grohl as a drummer. Nirvana was always one of the most overrated, talentless bands of the90’s, in my opinion. However, when Nirvana broke up due to Curt Cobain’s suicide, the Foo Fighters formed. I can’t say that I’ve ever been a huge fan but this CD has changed my mind. Why? There are a couple reasons. The first reason is that while the songs on the CD are pop oriented with an edge, they don’t rely on cheap synthesized gimmicks to hook their listeners. Pop music these days is too packaged, smooth and polished to showcase any real raw talent. Not the case here. A second reason I’m more than just intrigued by this CD is how it was recorded. Digital recording has become the standard of the recording industry. And, although digital may provide a clearer sound, it can sometimes sacrifice the rawness of the recording and take away it’s edge. Wasting Light was recorded analog and only converted to digital to get it on the discs. It is is edgy, high octane music at it’s best!!! The lyrical and musical writing is superb and there isn’t a bad song on the CD. If you like hard rock guitars with pop sensibilities you should rush out and buy this cd. It has been nominated for 6 grammy’s this year. It deserves all of them.

My Christmas list

I think it’s that time again
That special time of year
Where we all look inside our hearts
To find some Christmas cheer

And I’m not sure what to ask for
That I can find under a tree
Cause everything I’d like to have
Are things that you can’t get me

I’d like to fall deep in love
Without feeling I’m at war
But I’d really like to find someone
That’s worth fighting for

And I’d like to wake with purpose
Instead of roaming through my day
I’d walk with greater confidence
And put my past away

Don’t want to mourn what might have beens
But reach for higher ground
And gladly show off to the world
Exactly what I’ve found

And for you I want prosperity
Or maybe peace of heart
And may the Lord bring together
Everything that’s torn apart

Before we say goodbye right now
There’s something I’d like to say
I hope that you are given all the joy
That you brought my way

You’re not around

Maybe I still don’t know what I’m feeling
But you’re still swimming deep inside my head.
Maybe I just feel like I’ve been sinking
By listening to almost everything you said

Maybe I was hoping for a moment
That I could have helped you through your pain
But you would rather stand there in your darkness
While I was trying to save you from the rain

Chorus:
And it’s true I haven’t smiled as brightly
And I miss the way you used to make me feel.
But I’ve been hearing that it might have just been fiction
And it hurts to think that none of it was real
And it’s true I have slept a little better
Knowing that I’m not the one you’re letting down
But for the bad I still remember good times
That’s why I notice when you’re not around

Maybe I don’t know just what you’re thinking
If you ever have thought of me at all
I would have rather been there for your hard times
But you’d rather that I watched you fall

Maybe I was looking for a moment
When everything just fell right into place
Maybe I was hoping that I’d find you
Without that sad look that’s on your face

Repeat chorus

Put my money where your mouth has been

Broken windows
In a house that’s mostly standing
Hold on to love
When it proves it’s too demanding
I’ve seen your face
When you’ve all but given up
I’ve lived your life
And I know it’s not enough

Breaking mirrors
In a house that’s mostly broken
Hold on to words
When you prove to be outspoken
I’ve seen your soul
In the light and in the dark times
And I don’t know
Sometimes it’s hard to draw the lines

But if I put my money where your mouth’s been
What will I find that I can put all of my trust in?
If the house is standing but it’s all in disrepair
What will I find if I want to visit there?
And if I put my money where your mouth’s been
Will I find a place where your heart is in?
And if your heart is there will I want to stay?
Or will I find a place where you’ve chased us all away?

Sinking floors
In a house that’s mostly drowning
Hold on to love
When all hope of life is shrinking
I’ve seen my soul
In the light and in the dark times
And I don’t know
If I’ve made it through the land mines

Leaking rooftop
In a house that’s mostly dying
It lacks the strength
So I guess I gave up trying
I’ve seen myself
And the messages I’m sending
Hold on to dreams
Of a perfect happy ending

So if you go and put your money where my mouth’s been
Will you find true grace or find a place of sin?
If my house is standing but it’s never been a home
Will you want to stay or be left all alone?
And if you put all your money where my mouth’s been
Will you find a place that happiness has lived in?
If my heart is there will you want to stay?
If you came to visit what are the things you’d say?

I’m tired

He said
It’s the strangest thing
Remembering
how it all just fell apart
Deep in my vault
I guess I placed the fault on you
But that won’t get me through
It’s just a lie a lie of my heart

He said
It’s the strangest thing
Remembering
How I need control
Deep down inside
Where I need to swallow pride
Give some rest to my weary soul

Cause I’m too tired to fight it
Way too tired to reignite it
Just need some room cuz I’m moving on
And I’m way too tired to argue
Way too tired to try to hate you
It’s when I’m tired I’m finding I am strong

He said
It’s the strangest thing
Remembering
How we just walked away
Deep in my tears
My insecurity and fears
I wish I knew just what to say

He said
It’s the strangest thing
Remembering
How I somehow lost control
Deep down inside
I need to learn to swallow pride
Give me rest to my weary soul

Cause I’m too tired to fight it
Way too tired to reignite it
Just need some room cuz I’m moving on
And I’m way too tired to argue
Way too tired to try to hate you
It’s when I’m tired I’m finding I am strong

Grow up

This is by far the best thing I’ve ever written. I wrote it a long time ago but I still love it.

I saw Micky Mouse
In his house
He was running around in his underwear
I saw Peter Pan
With a joint in his hand
He was smoking like he didn’t care

ain’t that Snow White
She pickin a fight
With a man she call the prince of her life
And Tinkerbell
Saying what the Hell
As she threatens me with a knife

When did we all grow up and not know where we’re going?
And haven’t we looked at ourselves
Instead of the stones we’re throwing?

Ain’t that Elmer Fudd
Making Bambi venison
As he kisses Bugs Bunny goodbye
And Donald Duck
Saying my life sucks
As he goes in the back and gets high

Or Kermit the Frog
Living high off the hog
This really hasn’t been his best day
Or three blind little pigs
in their dresses and wigs
That really want to show you the way

When did we all grow up and not know where we’re going
And haven’t we looked at ourselves
Instead of the stones we’re throwing