Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Happy Hunger Games!

During my first year of teaching, one of my very favorite students introduced me to a book he was reading.  I assured him - as I always assure students who recommend a book to me - that I would add it to my "to-read" list.

That "to-read" list does exist, but at the rate it is growing, I'm not likely to ever finish it.

But as I watched him as he read it, and as I watched as he convinced his friends to read it, I became increasingly interested.  My co-workers and I went on a trip to Texas, so I purchased the book from Wal-Mart for the plane ride.

Maybe you've heard of it?

It just so happened that I wasn't able to sit near my co-workers on the flight (dang it, Southwest and their unassigned seats), but I didn't even care as soon as I started reading that book.

Oh my goodness, it was good!

Our trip went on, and I was able to put the book down, but as soon as we were back on the plane, I was reading again.  And on the drive from Kansas City back to Lincoln, I read again.  And when I got back home, I had to read until I finished.

I love a good page-turner, and I hadn't read one like this in a long time!

After I read it and the two other books in the trilogy (after having to wait several months for the release of Mockingjay), I began converting my friends.  I was rather successful, if I do say so myself, and I loved finally having people over the age of 12 with whom I could discuss the books!

When I found out it was being made into a movie, it was even easier to get people to read the books.  "You have to read the book before you see the movie," is a statement that is hard to argue with.  Each day, my students and I would check the cast list to see if anyone new had been added and to express our excitement or disdain for the actors who had been cast.

The movie was released at midnight on Friday, and I had been planning to attend for months.  In fact, on the first day of school this year, I told my students that my current favorite book was The Hunger Games, and I informed them that I would not be coming to school on March 23rd because I was taking the day off to go see the midnight premiere.

I am a woman of my word.

I went with two friends from church and two friends from NASC.  My church friends thought to dress up as tributes.  I'm jealous I did not plan in advance to do the same.


Kelli's boyfriend gifted her a Hunger Games t-shirt, of which I am also jealous.

We met for dinner, and my friend Grace came prepared with printouts of Hunger Games-inspired drink recipes.  Our poor waitress and bar tender must have been so frustrated with our outlandish requests, but they were able to create everything we asked of them.

Grace also made us District 12 cookies, which were delicious!

It was a little cold and rainy outside, so we stayed inside as long as possible.  We passed the time by reading the Hunger Games issue of People and discussing our concerns and predictions for what the movie would be like.

At 9:30, we decided to head to the theater, as we found out that the line was already wrapping around the block.  It ended up being perfect timing because just as we got in line, the theater was starting to let people inside to form lines there.

It was already past Grace's preferred bed time, bless her heart.

We passed the time by playing cards and eating snacks.  In no time, we were allowed in the theater, and we had no problems finding seats.

Oh, that movie was so good!  Maybe not quite as good as the book - no movie ever is - but, it was pretty closely correlated, and it was very well-done.

The movie is violent.  It's kids fighting to the death, for goodness sake, which is not normally something that would interest me even for a minute.  But I thought that the movie was a good portrayal of the survival storyline, rather than the storyline of death, and the killing scenes that were in the movie were tastefully done.  My words don't do it justice, so you'll just have to read the book and see the movie for yourself.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Viva Las Vegas!

I have always been pretty vocal about the fact that I am the kind of person who could go her whole life without ever going to Vegas and be perfectly fine.  I'm not big on either drinking or gambling, so I didn't really see the point in going.

But when two of my co-workers proposed a quick trip over Spring Break, I found it impossible to say no.  Not because it was Vegas, but because it was a chance to get away.  And by the time Spring Break rolls around, I feel the itch to go somewhere, just for a bit.

And so, we headed for Vegas!

We got checked into our hotel, The Palms, and the first thing we did was take a nap.  I wish I was lying, but that actually happened.  We were exhausted.

We eventually woke up and got ourselves ready to go out.

We gambled for a bit before heading to Cirque de Solei.

Pretty amazing show.

A show that was not very amazing was the show at Treasure Island that we watched after we left the Cirque de Solei theater.  Very cheesy.

After that, we went back to our hotel.  I was in bed by midnight.  Yes, I am a party animal.

The next morning, we slept in a bit, then got up to walk the Strip and to go shopping

First, we watched people getting married on the ship at Treasure Island.  Not exactly the most classy of occasions, but whatever works for the couple, I suppose!

There is so much to see along the Strip!

There are also, well, some interesting people to watch along the Strip...

After walking and shopping and walking some more, we decided to go lay out by our hotel's pool.  Unfortunately, we returned to a hotel that was being transformed in preparation for MTV filming their Spring Break.

So, instead, we took a nap.  A really long nap.  Are you sensing a theme of this trip?

Then, we got up to get ready to go out again.  Our plan was to go back to the Strip to see the water show at the Bellagio and to then go to the old downtown - Fremont Street.  The Strip looks completely different at night!

The water show was awesome!  The bus ride to Fremont Street was not.  Somebody threw up on our bus, so we had to evacuate it, wait on the sidewalk for what seemed like hours, and then get on a later bus.  It ended up being a ridiculously long process, but we did make it!

By this time in our trip, I had gambled away all of $6.00.  Yes, I am quite the high roller.  In this building, I sat down at yet another penny slot machine and watched my twenty dollar bill waste away, one penny at a time.

To spice things up a bit, I hit a button that said "MAX BET," and crazy things happened.  Yin Yangs and pandas all lined up in the best kind of way, and I ended up winning 176 free games!

So, I sat back and watched as the video machine played for me 176 times.  Although boring, I will not complain about leaving $86 whole dollars richer than when I walked in.

And on that note, my Vegas gambling was finished.  I just couldn't wrap my head around throwing money away and having nothing to show for it.  Also, Courtney randomly developed hives while this whole free game thing was happening, so we had to leave to go get that taken care of.

And that was pretty much our trip!  We went to bed, woke up, and got on a plane.  It is worth noting that one of the first people we saw once we left the Omaha airport to head back home to Lincoln was this guy:

Good ol' Nebraska.