Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

       So as I've been going to the last two movies I've seen in theaters, I've felt the need to come home and decompress via blog. Maybe cause the principles are deep? Not really sure. I, Elon, Marie, and Teusink have just returned from the midnight showing of The Hunger Games. We'll see if this blog gets posted at the 3:30 AM time when it is being written!
       Little bit of background first...I read the book a little over a year ago, and loved it. Was not as fond of the next two books, though they were still good - I felt they delved too much into social/political commentary, which I am not as much of a fan of. Katniss is an amazing heroine - I found she was smart, clever, and I empathized with her character. She doesn't know how to make people like her, she's awkward, she's caring, she's strong - all traits I found endearing. So as the movie was coming out, Elon and I wanted to go see it - we had both read the books and it would be fun to do something like that together. We contemplated going to the midnight showing (which he first suggested when we put together that the date the movie came out would be while he was here visiting). Planned on going at midnight, but didn't get tickets. Contemplated it a little more and decided we didn't want to fight the crowds, so we would plan to go Friday to a late morning showing. Fast forward to today.
     It is a gorgeous 81 degree day. March has broken all kinds of Michigan weather records this year, which happily has happened during Elon's spring break! As a result, we have gotten to do many more outdoor, summery activities then I expected. So we decide to go to Lime Lake and go tubing. We spend several glorious hours in the sun (and I have tan lines to prove it, but not a sunburn - it's fantastic!). As we're packing up, the boys point out to me that there are what appears to be 4 tickets to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games that very night, abandoned on a picnic table. We were pretty sure they belonged to a group of teenagers who had been sunning themselves about an hour before. With no way of knowing who they were, and much ethical dilemma-ing on my part, I make a decision. My first thought was "Free tickets to a movie we already wanted to see!!" Then, "we can't just take them, they'll come back for them, and that would be stealing!" Then, "But I can't just leave them - what if they don't come back for them? They'll just be wasted!" So my solution was to take the tickets home, leaving a note with a rock on the picnic table that said "call this number if you are looking for your Hunger Game tickets". Sort of a ransom note, and I will admit to TOTALLY hoping they wouldn't call, but if I lost movie tickets that I was really excited about, I hope that someone would have been kind enough to try and help me get them back.
     The evening passes, and I call my Glee night buddies up and let them know we have tickets, and providing the owners did not call, did they want to go tonight? They enthusiastically agree, so at 10 pm, we head over to the theater. We have perfect timing, arriving just as the small line outside is allowed to move in to the theater. We get great seats, and settle down for the wait. At around 11, we decide to make a Meijer run for less over-priced snacks and drinks (yes, I will shamefully admit that I am one of "those" people who smuggle snacks in). At 11:40 we arrive back at the theater (having left Elon as a seat-holder) and get a phone call from Brean as we are heading in to the theater. "The people just called about the tickets" he says..."what do you want me to do?" At that point, I was pretty sure they were sold out, and we had just sat for an hour and a half to save seats. Plus, I really didn't want to disappoint these three other people who were with me, all excited to see the movie! What I REALLY wanted to tell Brean was the tell them that it was too late, that we were already there, or that he wasn't able to reach us. I was feeling very frustrated at the situation, but finally told him to tell them they could meet us at the front and we would give them the ticket stubs. Head back in to the theater, and low and behold, they have tickets left still!!! So we were able to keep our seats, and pass off the tickets to a very happy group of teenagers, about 5 minutes before the movie started. This was definitely not a story to get a pat on the back - it is a story to tell you that I struggle with doing the right thing a LOT of the time! So there you have it....little window into my soul. In the end, it was a nice feeling.
    So now on to the actual MOVIE decompressing! (if you are still reading this, I promise not to give away any spoilers!) I think the movie was FANTASTICALLY done. It kept the feeling of the book, and in some points even made the feelings more real then was felt when reading. The characters were well cast, and I felt it stayed pretty true to the book.
    My biggest struggle was during the first half of the movie, when they are going through the Reaping, and preparing for the games, my head just kept screaming "This is wrongboppers who were cheering and laughing, despite knowing it was a fictional story. It was an incredibly stark visual reminder of the power of people, and the damage we can do to each other.
    Once the the Hunger Games actually commenced, I found I was able to engage in the story, rooting for Katniss. The previous feeling of wrongness was not dissipated, but I was able at that point to enjoy the story for what it was...a story. And a well-told one at that. The pacing of the movie seemed a little rushed, but it wasn't too bad. I feel like if you haven't read the book prior to seeing the movie, there is a lot of character thoughts and back story that is left unsaid. I know they are usually not able to do that well in a movie, and people who hadn't read the book still loved the movie, so maybe it was better then I was thinking.
      So yes, I did like the movie. But it leaves me with questions, the wrestling of how to fix a world gone so terribly wrong. How to teach people to love, to figure out a different way to solve our battles that does not involve the bloodshed of either party? I am by no means a "peace at any cost" believer - you must stand for truth. And all of my mental puzzling has not come up with a perfect way. But I hope that maybe, someday, we can come up with a better way.
    On a slightly lighter note - teeny-boppers annoy me and make me laugh at the same time. The theater was pretty full, and we in our late 20's were definitely part of the "older" crowd (but by no means in our "middle age years" - never fear, Marie!). So this crowd of teenagers created quite the ruckus during the whole movie. There was lots of cheering, and clapping, and whooping, at some inopportune times of trying to hear the dialogue that followed the heroic action! I found it detracted from the moment and am curious to see if I like the movie even more after seeing it with my bookclub in a couple of weeks with a less enthusiastic crowd. (at least I assume it will be less enthusiastic, who knows!) I will say, it was kind of fun being surrounded by so much energy though! Probably while I'm still up at 4 am! :p
    So, blogger readers, what do YOU think? Did you like the movie? Did you read the book? Love them? Hate them? Wonder what all the fuss is about? I'd love to hear from you! I promise the next post will include a recipe (as this is a foodie sort of blog), but my brain is just too tired to pick one out right now! Until next time...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Herbed Chicken Nuggets

Hey blogger world! I am sitting here on a sunny Wednesday morning as Doofenschmirtz chases the sun spots that glance off Sully's collar, enjoying the quiet. It's been a stressful and busy last couple of weeks, one of the culminations being that my brother has come to visit! I am so excited that he is here (him being here was the busy preparation, not the the stressful part :p)!!! I've been a bit on the homesick side for Alaska these past couple of months, and it is so nice to have a little part of that brought to me. Some of the highlights so far - meatloaf (made by him - it was fantastic!), walking to the library to acquire books for the both of us, watching Sarah Palin's Alaska (and WHY is that a highlight, you may wonder...we watched it because since we are both from Alaska, everyone assumes we've seen it and asks us what we think. And we had never seen it! So we watched part of an made us laugh....), playing with the critters, and just catching up. One of the nice things has been that the weather has been sunny, and in the mid to high 70's all week so far. In the middle of MARCH! It's crazy.

All of that to say that hopefully the blogging sabbatical is done for now! ;) On to cooking! This chicken recipe has fast become one of my favorites, and has definitely worked itself in to our regular meal rotation as a quick and easy dinner that we usually have the ingredients for.


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, seasoned
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Trim any fat from chicken and cut into 1 inch cubes.
  3. In a bowl beat the eggs with the water and add the chicken.
  4. Combine the parsley, thyme, red pepper, bread crumbs, wheat germ, basil and ground pepper. Stir in the oil with a fork and mix well to distribute evenly. Pour seasoning mixture into a resealable plastic bag and the chicken pieces to coat.
  5. Place coated chicken pieces on the prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10 minutes, turn the pieces and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

The best part about it is that you can use it to fit your own tastes! I don't think I've ever actually made the recipe as directed - I just use Italian bread crumbs and whatever seasonings I feel like at the moment. (usually a lot of garlic based ones :P) Instead of cutting the chicken into nuggets (which I'm sure would be tasty, but takes more time), I have used chicken tenders, and have been quite pleased with the results! Just bake the tenders as directed on the package (usually 375 for 15-20 minutes). Serve with mashed potatoes and chicken gravy - it is fannnntastic.