Strange things did happen here

This week has left me all over the place!   I feel like I haven’t been in at all in the evenings, and even though I’ve been getting enough sleep, I just feel wrecked.  I don’t think December is going to be much better – ugh, bring on January.  The good news is, it’s mostly been fun stuff!

Monday

Mockingjay This blurry photo really encapsulates how excited i was to be at the cinema on Monday (and also because I was rushing to get into the screen).  I had read so many reviews that started “Mockingjay is the worst of the series” so I wasn’t expecting this one to be as good as Catching Fire, and in a way it wasn’t.  But it was a very different film, it was so dark, so intense, so claustrophobic, and even though I knew how it would end, I was breathless through the last third.  Oh god, there was a small part of me that thought “maybe they’ll change it, maybe Peeta will be ok” but DAMN JOSH, he killed in that scene.  I was super happy that Effie had a role, and one of my favourite scenes was the one between her and Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman was so great).  I missed Finnick and Haymitch – there wasn’t enough of them.

And I don’t think I need to go into how amazing Jennifer Lawrence was.  Because she was.  No one else could be Katniss but her.

My thoughts are still all jumbled, and as I’m sure you can imagine I was ridiculously emotional throughout the film.  Pretty much anytime someone did a District 12 salute or Rue’s whistle, I started bawling.   The next 12 months are going to feel very long.

Wednesday

Uni Wolverhampton

Wednesday was a day of trains – 6 hours worth of trains to be precise.  Boy, did I feel tired and grimy when I got home.  I travelled up to the University of Wolverhampton for a meeting with some other institutions and it was crazy productive.  It’s probably one of the most worthwhile things I have attended this entire year and is genuinely exciting (if you do what I do.  Which isn’t exciting).  Also, it made me so jealous of the professional services staff at Wolverhampton as their office is amazing.  They all had fancy filing cabinets!  I only have a crappy cupboard!  I’m so bitter.

I didn’t get to see anything of the city as I jumped straight back on the train afterwards and it was a little cold and grey.  I got covered in mud on the way to and from my local station though as I had to walk around the pond – I was desperately trying to wash some of the dirt off my shoes before going into the meeting as I must have looked a mess.  Ever the professional career woman.

Thursday

Jim Meets Ruby

Last night was spent in one of the lecture theatres at work with Husband, watching (technically) a colleague and Humanist hero of mine, Jim Al-Khalili, interview Ruby Wax.  As part of the University of Surrey’s Mental Health Awareness Week, Ruby had been invited to talk to Jim as part of the “Jim Meets…” series.  I was really looking forward to this, as I have very recently read Ruby’s book on mindfulness (Sane New World) which has some amazing insights that have genuinely changed how I work through stressful situations.

She shared more of these insights in the interview, and expressed how she wants to strip away the stigma around mental health issues.  She’s right – when something isn’t right in the mind, it’s not just a mental issue but a physical one too and can affect everything about a person.  She compared the use of medication for depression to insulin for diabetes.  You wouldn’t tell a diabetic person not to take it, so why limit the use of drugs for depression?  When someone has something ‘physically’ wrong with them like a broken leg, they get cards and sympathy.  Why not when someone has something wrong in their mind?

She spoke about the Mindfulness in Schools movement and I wish I had been taught it at school.  As Ruby pointed out, before we start teaching children about history and space and what’s ‘out there’, they need to learn what’s inside their brain and how to regulate themselves.  I think this is worth a million times more than anything else they can learn.

It was such an interesting evening and good to see Jim in the flesh – I don’t have much interaction with academics (although I have seen him once before on campus filming for something) and as a Humanist, I am always really pleased to see a bit of exposure for the president of the British Humanist Association!

I’m just tagging this post, and am most amused that it features a tag for the Hunger Games, and Jim Al-Khalili.  HA!

Yeah, let’s celebrate mediocrity! That’s fantastic.

Skates

This past weekend, my dreams of becoming a roller derby hotshot were laid to rest, as I travelled up to Derby with friends to try out skating.  Bearing in mind I can barely walk in flat shoes without falling on my arse, I somehow believed I would get to grips with skating, and would be swooshing round the rink gracefully in no time.

It didn’t quite work out like that.  I strapped on the above boots, which belong to the ever lovely Triterrortops from Coventry City Derby Dolls (also known as my good friend Nikki) and shuffled over to the edge of the rink which was swarming with speeding children and a couple of old ladies who were much better at skating than I could ever be.

Pathetically, I managed one length of the rink.  NOT EVEN A LAP.  Nikki told me where I was going wrong – looking at my feet was sending me off balance and making me want to topple forward.  Off the rink, I tried to skate whilst looking ahead, and I was relatively successful at that, but I became so self conscious that I couldn’t brave going back onto the rink.  I am sure no one cared that there was a dorky 32 year woman stumbling around but I became convinced that I would fall and everyone would turn and point and laugh.  This is despite the fact that people were falling all over the place without a care in the world.  My fear of being embarrassed is far greater than my fear of breaking my butt.

So my derby career is over before it started.  Shame really.  I’ll stop trying to come up with a creative derby name.

The weekend fun continued into the next day after spending the night at the Triterrortops/Wrecks Merriment household, where some of us went into Coventry for a fried breakfast followed by a showing of Catching Fire.  It was almost the opposite of the first time I saw it – an practically empty screen with a mostly silent crowd.  But my reaction was still the same – almost uncontrollable sobbing.  My BFF asked on the way home why I get so emotionally invested in films and I just don’t know.  I guess I’m just an emotional nutcase.  Needless to say, I loved the film as much on second viewing and CANNOT WAIT for the Blu-ray release.

Aim higher in case you fall short

Hunger Games

Last night, I saw Catching Fire, which was the third new film I’ve seen at the cinema this year (Mild Concern should be worried that I’m going to start stepping on his toes).  I bloody loved it.

I read all three of the books on holiday in Malta last year, getting so desperate when I finished the first one that I almost instantly dragged Husband into the nearest mall to buy the next two.  It was my first proper foray into the world of YA, a world that I’ve since immersed myself in.  The first film was a little disappointing which I think is the general consensus, but I have grown to love it.  But I don’t think it’s a surprise that I love the second one even more.

The costumes, the visual effects, the world – everything felt bigger and more mature.  The opening scenes over the woodland just looked epic, and the colours were beautiful.  District 12 looked haunting in the snow, and they made the Capitol feel intimidating instead of impressive (a very nice touch).

Jennifer Lawrence was flawless as Katniss, as was Josh Hutcherson although I did miss certain scenes from the book between the two of them that didn’t make it to the film; the reluctant friendship that built up on their tour and the unrequited love that Peeta had for Katniss (awww!).  I unconditionally love Peeta and knowing what’s coming up for him is almost too painful to think about.  Elizabeth Banks broke my heart, as did Lenny Kravtiz, and Woody Harrelson was wonderful.

I wasn’t initially sold on Sam Clafin as Finnick, a character who I enjoyed in Catching Fire and adored in Mockingjay, and I know the internet was quite mean about him, but I think he did a great job.  The utter desolation Finnick experiences in the Jabberjay scene was depicted so beautifully by Sam and he completely won me over.  Jena Malone was also equally brilliant (and had great hair) and I’m sad we didn’t get to see more of her.  Every time Johanna cursed the Capitol, I winced.

It was so great to see such a faithful adaptation to the book.  The addition of scenes between President Snow and Plutarch Heavensbee, despite not being in the book, were a welcome departure from the original story which expanded the world beyond Katniss’s point of view.  The film was quite long, but it didn’t feel it as the pacing was spot on, so I can understand why certain scenes didn’t make it to screen.  They could easily make two films out of Catching Fire (although conversely, I can’t see how they’re going to make Mockingjay into two films, but we’ll see).

As expected from me, I cried pretty much constantly, from the moment District 11 showed their support on the Victory Tour, to the very last shot of Katniss.  It was a mistake to wear eyeliner.  It was emotional, gripping, tense and incredibly satisfying.  Now, excuse me whilst I book my second viewing…

 

My Comic Con haul

I’ve been horribly addicted to YA books since reading the Hunger Games last year.  I took the first one on holiday to Malta, not realising I’d be finished with it by the second day so I then had to find (what felt like) the only book store on the island to buy the second.  Only I accidentally ended up buying the third – oh, it’s a long story.  When I was done with the adventures of Katniss, I carried on through the YA dystopian genre, eventually finding myself at Divergent by Veronica Roth.

Again, I got horribly addicted, completely falling in love with the characters (especially Four).  What was fun about getting into Divergent was that the last book in the trilogy hadn’t been released yet so I couldn’t gorge myself on the whole story all at once, although the wait for the third has been excruciating.  I suddenly realised that we’ve booked our road trip for the week Allegiant comes out in October, but it’s ok – I’ve Street Viewed the area that we’ll be in on the 22nd October and there is a Barnes and Noble on the same street as our hotel.  PHEW!

It was so exciting to hear that they’re making a film, and even more exciting to hear they’d be promoting it at San Diego Comic Con.  Not that I would be going to Comic Con (I think I’m too old to queue for that long) but my lovely Rach was, so I charged her with elbowing people in the face to get to MERCH!  And she got me some good stuff.

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Badges!

I’m super excited that I got a Dauntless badge.

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Tattoos!

I might wear one the next time I see my parents to make them roll their eyes.

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Iron on patch!

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GIANT BAG!

And I made Husband get in the bag for scale.  I have literally no idea what I’m going to do with it but I do need to pick it up off the floor as I’ve already tripped over it once and probably broken my toe.

March now please!!