Archives for category: Hunger Games

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First it was The Hunger Games, and then it was Divergent and soon will be The Maze Runner followed by Jupiter Ascending. Dystopic Futures are taking Hollywood by storm.  I am fascinated by this new Sci-Fi phenomenon in Young Adult Fiction.  I am so fascinated that I wrote a book analyzing The Hunger Games called Blessed Are They That Hunger-Young Adult Fiction, America and The Bible http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-000705175/Blessed-Are-They-That-Hunger.aspx  (available Summer 2014 on Amazon, itunes etc).  But apparently, The Hunger Games was just the beginning.

I saw the movie Divergent yesterday.  Some are saying that it is a rip-off of The Hunger Games. There are similarities between the two films as well as the other movies that will be coming soon to theaters.  The similarity that strikes me the most is how dark, violent and hopeless they are. I wonder what it is about these dark tales of oppressive totalitarian regimes that resonates with today’s youth?

In my book, I detail how many of the themes in The Hunger Games are reflected in our current society.  As I watched Divergent and the trailers of the other movies that will be out soon, I hear a cry for help from the younger generation.

Like the characters in these stories, this generation was born into a society that they didn’t create.  They must live under a repressive government that scrutinizes and controls their lives.

They have many more regulations than I had as a young adult. I was surprised to learn recently that freshman college students are not allowed to have their own vehicle if they live on campus at a California University.  This was not the case when I was in school.   There were no curfews when I was in high school, no restrictions on how many friends my age I could transport or where.  There were not even seat belt laws.  I could drive to the mountains with my friends and their skis in the back of my dad’s pick up.

If the cops came to a party where there was underage drinking, they sent us home.  No one got arrested. No parents were held liable for the party.

The government is monitoring cell phones and internet use now.  These technologies were not available in my youth.

Today’s youth are also being raised differently than my generation.  They have more homework and scheduled programs and less time for free play.  Parents are accused of being helicopters in how they hover over every action and behavior their children do. Young adults feel powerless.

When I was a child I had very little homework and went “out to play” in the neighborhood until sunset when I knew it was time for dinner.  We played hide and seek all over the neighborhood and built forts in the woods and imagined all kinds of worlds. We flew kites in the fields and sometimes just laid on our backs and watched the clouds in the sky for hours, determining what shapes they made, while we made necklaces out of wild flowers.

Today’s young adults will be the first generation less likely to exceed their parents in economic security.

The characters in these movies are tired of being powerless and they take back their power-their inalienable right to be free.  Today’s young generation want to be free of a culture that imprisons them.

My hope is that like the characters in the dystopic movies, the young generation will bring back freedom.  The wars that have been fought and the lives lost to keep America free were in vain as we allowed our freedoms to be taken away in a quiet encroachment of the government- one law at a time. Those of us that remember that freedom can show them the way and fight to bring it back.

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CHADGod has a sense of humor.  To be more accurate God likes to humble me.

About a year ago, I wrote a yet-to-be published book called Blessed are they that Hunger-A Christian Responds to the Hunger Games.  My first chapter, called “We Hunger for Kindness”  is about the violence in The Hunger Games trilogy.  I explore the violence in today’s culture and its increase in today’s sports.

I end the chapter with a discourse about Mixed Martial Arts or MMA fighting, also called cage fighting.  At the time, I viewed this as the pinnacle of violence in sports.  I also included an excerpt from an article about a fight club on the East Coast that uses MMA fighting as a way to reach people for Christ.  I had a hard time reconciling this violent sport with Christianity.  After all, it was Christ who said,

But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. Matt 5:39

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matt 5:39-48

I was confident in my evaluation of the sport in my book.

My confidence dissolved one hot summer’s night while I was hanging out at a local restaurant with some friends.  It turns out my hometown is a base for one of the most famous MMA fighter’s in the world and his team of fighter’s  who are well on their way to world fame as well. That night the team was hanging out at the same restaurant I was.  There was a lot of buzz among my friends about the famous fighter and one by one they were introducing themselves to him and  getting their pictures taken with him.

I sort of knew who he was, but obviously wasn’t a fan of the sport at that time.  I didn’t make any effort to go out to meet him.  I happily stayed close to my friends and had some interesting discussions with them.  One of the friends I had made that night, left me with her valuables and as time passed I noticed she wasn’t anywhere to be found.  We were getting ready to take a group picture, and I was concerned about being responsible for my friend’s possessions.  I noticed that the friend she had come to the restaurant with was out on the patio sitting with the famous MMA fighter.  I went outside to see if she would take back her friend’s stuff.  I chatted with her for awhile and all of the guys thought I was pretty cool for watching her stuff and bringing it to her friend.  I realized my back was to the famous guy and thought I was being rude so I extended my hand and introduced myself.

I’m not sure what happened in that moment, but sometimes I am kind of a soul reader and I sensed a deep sensitive soul. He was interested in my involvement with the group I was there with and I told him about my “Hunger Games Book”.  I asked him about his career and how well he was doing.  When he told me he was #2 in the world, he seemed a little offended that I didn’t know.  This was embarrassing so I bowed out of the conversation and went back to my friends inside the restaurant.

When I got home, I googled the famous fighter and a few weeks later started following him on Twitter.  Little by little I got more interested in the local team of fighters and started following most of them on twitter as well.  I received a tweet once that said-Facebook where you learn to hate the people you know.  Twitter-where you learn to love the people you don’t know. I guess that is what happened.  The guys were funny and interesting and I became a fan.  I started watching the fights and only saw one that was gruesome and it didn’t involve any of our local fighters.  The guys from our local team appear to have a philosophy of get the job done without too much damage to yourself or your opponent.

I have had a few more opportunities to meet members of the local team and recently attended a press conference promoting a big fight that will be held here in town in a few months.  I got my picture taken with one of the guys at the conference.  So now I am a fan of a sport that only a year ago I condemned.  Now I see the sport as more than just a sport, but people dedicated to an art and to fitness and to each other.  In becoming a fan and communicating to the team, I have added more followers on Twitter and have had opportunity to promote my pursuits. It has been an interesting lesson in humility and judgment.

As Paul said in ‘1 Corinthians 9:22

 I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some-(even MMA fighters and their fans.)

sdcc 2013 catching fireIt was barely noon that Saturday as I sat in Hall H at Comic Con and  I had seen an incredible parade of celebrities that morning.  I thought I would be bored enduring the time until the Catching Fire panel, but I was on the edge of my seat to see who was next.

Next was the biggest surprise of all-Tom Cruise.  I know he is sort of controversial, but I have watched his movies since Risky Business and I have loved them.  He is definitely an icon in the movie industry.  His new movie ,Edge of Tomorrow is a sci-fi thriller.  Emily Blount is  in the movie and was also on the panel. Tom was very animated and kept interacting with the audience members. They had to try to get  his attention to make him participate in the panel.  Then they announced that Bill Paxton was also in the movie (major crush of mine woo,woo) and that he was in the audience with his daughter.  He stood up a few rows from where I was sitting and Tom insisted on bringing him up.  There were no stairs from the audience, so Tom literally grabbed Bill’s hand and pulled him up on the stage.  It was a little precarious for a moment and I thought he might not make it.  He joined the rest of the panel at the table and it was an exciting turn of events for me.Tom Cruise Bill Paxton

I couldn’t help but reflect on how San Diego Comic Con had become the Mecca for the movie industry and a preferred venue to present upcoming film projects.  I wondered how this humble comic convention had evolved to a prestigious who’s who of Hollywood.  I tweeted “Who’s minding the store in Hollywood?  Everyone is at SDCC!”

The next surprise was “I Frankenstein” starring Aaron Eckhardt-another heavy hitter.  I loved him in Thank You For Smoking  and of course The Dark Knight. The new rendition of the classic Frankenstein story looked interesting- a return to the original story of the Mary Shelley novel.  Aaron did some fitness training for the role and kindly flexed his biceps for us with the encouragement of the MC. He was looking good!aaron Eckhardt

There was a break before the Lionsgate panel which featured my reason for being there- Catching Fire.   I convinced my friend’s husband to trade seats with me so that I could be a few rows closer to the stage. Once I got settled in my new seat, I pulled out my McDonald’s salad and enjoyed my lunch.

I held my breath as the Catching Fire flaming Mockinjay symbol appeared on the screen.  There were rumors about which stars would be there, but no guarantee.  The crowd went wild as Lenny Kravitz, Willow Shields, Liam Hemsworth,  Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and the other cast members came to the stage.  All my favs were there!Jen josh sdcc 2013

After the cast was introduced, they went directly to showing the new trailer for the film.  It was so exciting to be the first to see it in an audience filled with other fans and with the cast as well. Then the cast was interviewed.  Jennifer Lawrence is so unassuming and hilarious.  She and Josh had some funny stories to tell.  She talked about a scene in the movie where she must give Josh’s character Peeta CPR.  She was crying and slobbering so much that she filled his mouth with snot.  She said that it was awful for her.  Josh interjected, “What about me? I’m the one who got covered in snot.” The audience roared with laughter!  They showed the trailer again after the interviews.sdcc 2013 Liam hemsworthWillow Lenny sdcc 2013

I was able to escape the Hall for an hour.  You were allowed a “Hall Pass” and would be readmitted as long as it was during the same panel that you exited on.  After the excitement of the Catching Fire was a panel on “Women who Kick A_ _”-not something I was interested in- so I took a break.  I headed to the Expo with hopes of seeing the Catching Fire cast signing autographs at the Lionsgate booth.  I did see a few of them there but not the main ones I was interested in Jen, Josh and Liam. The Expo was more crowded that day than my other visits.  The aisles between the booths were so packed with people that there was barely room to walk.  I had had enough after a few minutes and headed back to Hall H.

The “Women ” panel was just wrapping up.  I was tired but had to stay for the Marvel panel because I hoped to see Chris Hemsworth who plays Thor-the most beautiful actor of all.

I had no idea what the 20th Century panel was, but was willing to sit through it for the chance to see Chris.  What a shock to find out that the next film was Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman who was there in the flesh!  The trailer for the film was pretty exciting.  He spoke a little bit more about the film and then began telling us about his other film project X-Men Days of Future Past.  Then one by one the incredible cast came to the stage Patrick StewartIan McKellenHalle BerryAnna PaquinShawn AshmoreEllen Page, and Daniel Cudmore from X-Men and  Jennifer Lawrence,(again)James McAvoyMichael Fassbender, Nicholas Holt from X-Men:First Class.  Wow what a star-studded stage it was- Gandalf ,Captain Picard, Juno, Catwoman, and Gnomeo. I felt like I was in a dream watching all my heroes gather in one place.Hugh Jackmanxmen panel

We didn’t get to see any clips from X-Men days of Future Past but nobody seemed to mind.

Finally the last panel of the day came-or at least for me (Kevin Smith was the last panel-not a big fan of his).  We were all enthralled as Loki himself came to the stage (Tom Hiddleston in full costume)  He asked us to join his rebellion and the crowd enthusiastically agreed.  I must say he was more beautiful in person than I imagined.  This helped my disappointment at not seeing Thor.  We did get to see clips for Thor the Dark World so I did get to see Thor on the screen.  Unfortunately the battery in my phone was dead so I didn’t get a picture of Loki.

As the Marvel panel ended I packed up my stuff said good bye to my friends and maneuvered through the crowd back to my shuttle bus. The crowds on the sidewalk outside the Convention Center were so bad that I decided to take the stairway over the light train rail to Petco Park and walk on the other side of the rail and cross back to the Convention Center.  I’m not sure if I saved any time with my circuitous route, but I did make it to the shuttle bus finally.

I came back to an empty apartment because my friends had gone away overnight.  I had decided not to return to the Convention on Sunday.  I was exhausted and was ready to get home.  I was able to enjoy a nice relaxing evening and fell asleep to the sound of sea gulls, sea lions, fireworks and a foghorn.  What an amazing experience I had. I can’t wait for next year!

Jeff BridgesAt about 10 am Saturday morning, we walked into Hall H after waiting in line 71/2 hours (most of them spent sleeping on concrete at the San Diego Marina). As we ran the gauntlet of CC Staff they applauded us for making it into the Hall-(Really). We split up in confusion trying to find the best possible seats in the dark hall.  Text messaging ensued as we tried to determine the best place to sit.  I ended up in a row surrounded by young 20 something guys.  My friend and her daughter were in the row behind me and her husband was about 3 rows ahead of us.  The girl from Ohio was nowhere to be found.  The seats were pretty crowded because nearly everyone had some kind of camping gear with them.

Once our seats were secured we tackled one more long line-the ladies room. To manage the crowd there were lines painted on the concrete that we had to wind around. It reminded me of a cake walk at a carnival. Crowd control was managed everywhere!!!

It was surprising to me that with the huge number of people maneuvering all over the San Diego Convention Center, I never saw any kind of confrontation.  Everyone I encountered was polite and patient and I never heard complaints or frustration. So much for my preconceived ideas of the crazies of Comic Con.

I made it back to my seat and waited for the first panel. The lights went down as the MC introduced Warner Brothers.  Then they blew our minds as curtains were pulled back and two more screens appeared on the sides of the main screen so that the picture now wrapped around the room!ben barnes

The first movie that was presented was Seventh Son starring Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes(Prince Caspian).  The movie is a cool mythological epic story and Jeff Bridges plays Zeus.  So cool to see Jeff and Ben in person.  I did my usual tweeting the pics and hashtagging the names of the actors and the movies.  Ben Barnes Brazil Website tweeted me and asked me if they could use my pic and give me credit.  I looked it up a few days ago and it was pretty cool!

The next surprise was the cast of Godzilla.  Kerry Russell walked out another favorite of mine.  Then a bigger surprise as Bryan Cranston came and pulled off a rubber Walter White mask(his character in Breaking Bad).  The crowd went wild.  I didn’t know this until later, but apparently he was walking around the Expo in the Walter White Mask and no one knew it was him.  Everyone loved the mask and took his picture, but he didn’t reveal his identity until the panel in Hall H. We saw some clips of Godzilla and heard from the panel.Bryan Cranston SDCC

As I mentioned in my last blog, we really had no idea what movies would be previewed.  The only movie I knew I would see was Catching Fire and probably Thor the Dark World but all of the other movies I saw were a surprise. It was like Christmas morning each time a panel was introduced.

I didn’t want to leave my seat but nature called and I had to wade through the line again to the restroom.  I could hear that another movie was previewing and I tried to get back out to the Hall as fast as I could. I couldn’t really tell what the film was-something in outer space.  Then the lights came on and the panel came out and I realized it was the new George Clooney film Gravity.  George wasn’t there, but the other star Sandra Bullock was.  She is another fav of mine-(mind blown again!)

For most of the actors, this was their first experience of Comic Con. They were amazed by it, especially the response of the avid fans to seeing them and viewing clips of their upcoming movies.  Sandra Bullock said she tried to dress appropriately and was wearing a bright red knit dress that could easily be a super hero’s costume.Sandra Bullock

The Director of Gravity is Alfonso Cuarón.  His other films include Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of  Azkaban, and Pan’s Labrynth. His films are amazing.  He talked about the challenges of filming Gravity by creating the illusion of the anti-gravity of space. They created an acrylic chamber that the actors were suspended in by wires. The camera moved around the chamber to film them from different angles.  There were questions from the audience about the film Children of Men, which had a rough documentary style filming.  Due to some accidents in the process there was actually real blood splatted on the camera.  No wonder it looked so authentic.

More in my next blog…

 

SDCC interview 2After very long day I made it back to my friend’s apartment in Point Loma.  After all the excitement and some unhealthy eating I wasn’t feeling very well and made it an early night to bed.  I knew that if I had any chance of getting into Hall H on Saturday for The Catching Fire Panel, I would need to get back to the Convention Center very early in the morning.

The parking space that I had been using had “No Parking” signs between 3-4:30 am.  I figured I would park around 4:30 to get the shuttle.  I set my alarm on my phone for 3 am and fell asleep to the sound of seagulls, sea lions and fireworks.  I woke up at 1 with a sense of urgency to “Go”.  I know when God is telling me to do something and this was one of those times.  Strangely enough I felt rested after only 3 hours of sleep.  I dressed quickly in the warmest clothes I had brought with me, which were my black sweats and a long sleeved t-shirt.  I grabbed a couple of bottles of water and crept out of the apartment so I wouldn’t wake up my friends.

I knew I would be stuck in Hall H for the whole day in order to see all the panels. The convention food didn’t do well with me the day before so I made a stop at a 24 hour McDonalds.  I got a couple of breakfast burritos and a Southwest Chicken Salad to have later for my lunch.  I was learning Comic Con Survival skills!

I brought my large tote bag with the batman cape that was my registration package and the other tote bag that I had received as the Lionsgate swag.  I anticipated sleeping on the ground as I waited in line- they might be some protection from the wet grass.  I found some parking a few blocks from the hotel shuttle pick up without any restrictions .  It was now about 2 in the morning.  I put my backpack on (an old purple REI back pack that my daughter used as a book pack in 5th grade) and put the Lionsgate tote inside the Comic Con tote and strapped it on my back over the back pack.  I headed down the street my batman cape flapping in the breeze behind me.

It was a little creepy walking along down the street at that hour. I saw a car slowly pull into a side street and stop as though it was waiting for me.  As I passed I saw that it was a patrol car.  God had San Diego’s finest keeping guard over me.  The officer didn’t even question me-I guess the batman cape and my large Comic Con badge gave away my purpose for being there.

I didn’t have to wait too long for the shuttle and by 2:30 a.m. I was at the Convention Center.  I befriended a college girl on the bus who was also planning to camp at Hall H.  She was from Ohio and this was her first visit to big bad Cali.  We had to walk to the other end of the Convention Center because our shuttle left us off at Hall A.  There were people camped out on the sidewalk in front of the CC who were waiting for ballroom 20-a panel for Once upon a Time was scheduled on Saturday.Comic Con camping

By the time we made it to Hall H the awning-covered lawn area was filled with campers so we were directed to the line that began across the street and wound along the Marina behind the CC. I realized I would be sleeping on concrete.  We found the end of the line as we passed fellow campers in their sleeping bags, blow up mattresses and tents.  I was not very well prepared.  We took our spot near the ramp to the Ferry to Coronado Island and set up camp.  I put my tote bags down on the concrete and leaned against the railing.  I chatted with my friend.  She was waiting in line to see the Marvel panel with the hopes of seeing her favorite Tom Hiddleston.  I happened to look up in time to see one of my friends walking passed us.  I started calling out her name.  She was shocked to hear her name and even more shocked when she saw me.  It was another blessing coming my way.  We have known each other for over 25 years through our Mary Kay business.  I had no idea she was a Comic Con fan.  She had been attending Comic Con for 14 years!  Her husband had to wait until the parking garage opened at 5 so she joined us in line.

My stomach was beginning to hurt again so I laid down on my tote bag and was given a pillow and a blanket by my newly arrived friend who happily chatted with the girl from Ohio while I got a little rest. My friend’s husband found us a little after 5 and before too long the line was moving as we inched closer to Hall H while the sun rose over the San Diego Harbor.

My Mary Kay friend’s daughter joined us in line just as we reached the awning covered lawn.  We were about halfway through the line when I saw some commotion to my left and I heard my Mary Kay friend say “She is!  She is!”  There was a camera crew looking for Hunger Games fans and my friend let them know about me.me interview

Coincidentally I had just refreshed my makeup from the long night. As  I walked toward the camera I said ,”Yes I am a fan and I wrote a book about the Hunger games too.”  So they interviewed me and asked me how important is was for me to be there for the Catching Fire Panel.  I said “Important enough to give up my sleep.” They also asked me who were my favorite characters and asked me about my book.  It was awesome!! My friend told me, ” This is the reason you are here!”

My friend’s daughter took pictures of me being interviewed so I later figured out that it was the TV Guide Network.
The other publicity I got while I was there was thanks to Twitter.  I had just recently opened a Twitter account .  I quickly got hooked on Twitter and saw that it was a great venue for me to promote my books , my business and my new political interests.  I became a Twitter photo journalist while I was at Comic Con and got some retweets as well as posts on websites and added followers.

God has increased my sphere of influence so I can influence for Him.

By 10 am we made it into Hall H and were far enough in the line to sit in the second section of seats behind the VIP reserved seats.  I was not prepared for the excitement that was to follow.

More in my next blog….

sdcc ticket

Surrendering your life to Christ is viewed in such a negative light by most people who haven’t.  It is viewed as a burden or sacrifice by some that have.  But my life has been a great adventure as I have listened to the voice of my Shepard and He has led me.

My latest adventure was to San Diego Comic Con.  I became interested in Comic Con when I got hooked on the Twilight Saga books two years ago.  Twilight fans flocked to Comic Con and camped out overnight to be the first to see  clips of the latest installments of the Twilight Saga films premiering in Hall H.

My fascination grew to an obsession that led me to write my book Confessions of a Christian Twihard-My Life Lessons and the Twilight Saga. Each year I would watch the events at Comic Con ( sometimes in Live Streams on the internet by MTV) wondering if I would ever experience it.  I tried to get a fan table at SD Comic Con 2012 to promote and sell my book but the waiting list is about three years.

Last year I became interested in The Hunger Games Trilogy and its movies.  This interest led to my latest book (soon to be published) Blessed Are They That Hunger-A Christian Responds to the Hunger Games.  As I was in the process of writing my book, I met a friend from church who worked for Comic Con.  I knew that God might be opening the door for me.

At the beginning of the year, I heard that Catching Fire, the movie based on the second book of The Hunger Games Trilogy was going to be featured in a panel at  SD Comic Con. By this time I was a rabid Hunger Games fan.  I had completed my book and had a Hunger Games fan page on Facebook with over 300 fans worldwide (www.facebook.com/hopeforthehungergamesfans).  I followed the Hunger Games actors and saw there movies. I waited in the cold for three hours outside the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles for a chance to see Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Jennifer Lawrence, the actors from the Hunger Games, as they attended the People’s Choice Awards.

I should mention that my passion for my books is based in my love for Christ and a burden for those who don’t know Him.  The driving force in my writing is to spread the good news of Jesus.  It is a God given passion and He guides and leads me in my writing and to those who I can share about Him.

This Spring, my friend from church sent out a facebook message that she was selling comp badges for SD Comic Con. My hope grew that I would get to go.  I responded to the message and was told to wait for confirmation of the tickets.  The months went by and there was no word.  Finally at the end of June with just 3 weeks to spare I got the message that the ticket was in and it was a 4 day pass plus the preview night!

There were a couple of obstacles but faith sometimes means getting your feet wet before the waters part, so with three weeks to spare I needed a place to stay and transportation to the convention.  With 138k people about to converge on San Diego for Comic Con needless to say finding a hotel would be a challenge.

San Diego is my second hometown because I went to college there and lived there three more years after I graduated.  I also have friends that have moved to San Diego from other parts of the state and country.  I wasn’t sure who would let me crash at their place, so I sent out some messages. One of my best friend’s daughter responded that I could stay with her.  It just happened that I had reconnected with her after her grandmother’s funeral a few weeks before, so we were keeping in touch on Facebook.

She had recently moved to Point Loma which made it an easy commute for me to the Convention Center.  As I researched the SDCC website I later found I could ride shuttles from hotels on Shelter Island for free to the convention center.  Shelter Island was only about a mile from her home.  The provision of God was just beginning.

I trusted God about my transportation next.  I hoped to ride share with my friend that got me the ticket, but that didn’t work out.  The upside of that was that I would be able to spend time with some of my friends that live in the LA area on the trip and I could travel on my timeline.  God has blessed me with a wonderful car that I earned from my career with Mary Kay and my car is great on the gas.  Although I was stuck in traffic from LA to San Diego I got over 33 miles to the gallon.

After almost 11 hours on the road I made it to my friend’s house with enough time to spare to unload my car, freshen up a little, and head to Shelter Island to catch my shuttle for Preview night.

More in my next blog…..