The Hunger Games – A Review

I can think of only one other movie during which I could barely eat popcorn.  It was The Passion of the Christ, and I was so riveted to the events transpiring before me on the big screen, that it was tough to eat popcorn.

And tonight was the second time a movie was so compelling, I could barely think of eating popcorn.

If a movie distracts me from food, it must be good.

So, if you’re like me and have not yet read the books, the basic premise of the film is that a drawing is held, children are chosen to compete in the Hunger Games, and that’s about the last time your arse is going to see the back of your seat – you’ll be planted firmly on the edge.

I want to say, having not read the books, I was a little afraid I might be missing something, but as far as I could tell, they did an excellent job of condensing the book into two hours.  I had no trouble following the story, and the movie has really motivated me to read the books.

There is no way you could pack more emotion for the characters than they did in this film.  From the start, you are rooting for Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), the movie’s heroine.  She is at once a fierce competitor and a compassionate caregiver.  You love her from the first scene.  Hell, ten minutes in, I wanted to BE her!  Josh Hutcherson is the perfect Peeta, Katniss’ male counterpart.  I alternated between feeling my heartstrings tugged and wanting to toss him off of a cliff.

They expertly lay the ground work in the film, so you get a complete picture of everything, and then the pace is fast and furious.  You may want to consider that if you are seeing the film in IMAX – there was at least one case of motion sickness during our showing.

Another warning – if you’re not familiar with the books, the goal of the competitors in the Hunger Games is to eliminate the competition.  This does not mean spelling bigger words, check mating, or claiming all of their checkers.  Please be cautioned that this may not be a movie you want to take young children to – although there were dozens of them at the theater tonight, all of whom were familiar with the books.  I’m waivering on whether or not Eilis is old enough.

There are two fabulous performances by Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci.  Woody Harrelson is especially memorable in his portrayal of Haymitch.

I cannot give this movie enough thumbs up – not even if I had a few spares.  This was a movie I would gladly see again.

European Wax Center Lawrenceville, NJ – A Review

The only body parts I’ve ever had waxed are my eyebrows and my chin.  It hurt – as in, my eyes watered every single time I waxed my eyebrows.  Waxing anything else seemed like it might be out of the question.

I started talking about waxing my legs a few weeks ago, when I realized that people weren’t asking me to join their reggae bands based on my musical talent but because of the dreadlocks on my legs.  I can never find time in this busy Mom’s life to shave anything, and finally, fear of winning “Best in Show” at Westminster convinced me that regardless of how painful it might be, I had to be waxed.

My friend Amy offered to go with me to a waxing place near her in Lawrenceville, NJ.  European Wax Center is located in the Mercer Mall, right off of US 1, and not too bad of a drive from South Jersey.  I pondered and considered and finally figured that if I ended up incapacitated, spring break was a good time to go get waxed.  I called Monday morning, my first day of spring break, and they were able to get me in Monday afternoon – awesome!  I checked with Amy, who I was going to drag out there with me, but because she is a far more productive member of society than I am, she was working 🙁  I thought for a minute about just waiting, but I knew if I didn’t go, I’d psych myself out of going at all.  So I went.

The front part of the facility is neat, clean, and the receptionist was friendly.  The only thing I didn’t like is the sales pitch at the desk about their packages.  At least wait until I’ve seen if I ever want to be waxed again before you try to have me sign my life away on a package.

After a few minutes, Adriene (yes, she spells it that way) called me back.  The room itself is sparse at best.  A cushy table, a small chair, and the waxing station.  But honestly, what else do you need?

Adriene was super friendly.  I was there for a Brazilian wax, legs, eye brows, and chin, and she quickly told me we’d get to know each other, as we’d be there a while!  My eyebrows were done almost before I realized it.  No pain, no cloth – just a thick application of their French import wax and it was done in a second.  Awesome!

She did my chin several times.  I do not like facial hair, so I am pretty diligent at removing the hairs on my chinny chin chin.  As a result, there really wasn’t enough to wax.  She kept trying, though, and did get a few stragglers.  It seems I may have to grow a ZZ Top beard, though, in order to be successfully waxed.

When she got to the Brazilian wax, I was freaking out.  She was soothing, comforting, and reassuring.  It was nice to know she hadn’t killed anyone, nor had anyone fainted under her careful hand.

While the Brazilian wasn’t entirely painless, it was absolutely way less humiliating than I expected.  Adriene was professional and warm, and she talked through the whole thing so you were distracted from any feeling of awkwardness or discomfort.

Adriene didn’t sell anything, although she did mention the products she was using.  I ended up buying the two things she used on me, plus one other so I could get the 20% discount they were offering on the purchase of three products.

I don’t think the prices were unreasonable.  The Brazilian was $42, and I’ve seen them as high as $60.  Eyebrows were pricier than they charge locally at the nail salon (they’re $7 – $10 here, but $16 there).  Everything else seemed within a reasonable range, although I admit, many of these were first time waxings for me.

I would definitely go back to European Wax Center – and even though they are opening one in Cherry Hill, Adriene certainly makes me want to go back to Lawrenceville.  Well, that and the Woody’s BBQ restaurant in the same mall AND the close proximity to my friends Amy and Anthony.  Definitely worth a return trip!

European Wax Center 609-275-8000

Mercer Mall

3371 US 1, Lawrenceville, NJ

Brazilian Wax – Who Thinks Up This Stuff?

I have this amazing friend Gary who does videos for Walt Disney World.  In the videos, there’s always Rob, an innocent bystander who warns Gary not to do the action he is about to perform.  This voice of reason always advises Gary not to do something potentially stupid.

I do not have a voice of reason in my house.  And I’m on spring break, so I’m supposed to get drunk and do crazy things.  So when the subject of a Brazilian wax came up, I found myself in the car, driving up to central Jersey, signing it at the European Wax Center.

So, for those that are unfamiliar, a Brazilian wax, it basically eliminates all of the hair from you, ummmm, hooha.  Some women opt to leave a “landing strip”, and I’ll leave to the imagination which my preference was.  Hot wax is applied, and then it’s ripped off, along with the unwanted hair.

Where is Rob, MY innocent bystander, when I need him?

If you read all about Brazilian waxes before you go to the salon, or watch some of the YouTube videos that are available, you may reconsider the whole thing.  You’ll see women, in hysterical laughter, as they lay on waxing tables trying not to cry.  You’ll read about infections, Jersey trying to ban this type of waxing, and, of course, mentions of Sex and the City, the show that apparently popularized the Brazilian.

Don’t believe everything you read – or see – on the web.

Is there pain involved?  Okay, well, yeah.  I mean, let someone yank hairs out of your vajayjay and you’re going to feel something.  But is it as bad as I expected it to be?

Not really.  Don’t tell my husband, because I expected to be able to milk this for about a week.

Yes, you’re going to experience some pain.  But I would say it’s not unbearable in any way.  And they tell me the more you do it, the less it hurts.  The hair becomes finer and more sparse, and there’s not as much “yanking” that goes on.

Things I learned today – take a Tylenol about an hour before you go.  That will help with the discomfort.  The longer your hair, the more yanking there is.  Yanking does not mean it feels good.  The top of the “V” hurts more than you think it will.  The lower bits hurt way less.

The tech that did my wax had seven years experience, and she was good.  I had to strip from the waist down (and don’t expect your tech to step out and allow you that last shred of dignity while you undress – they don’t), and lay on my back on the table.  You put the bottoms of your feet together, with your legs splayed out like butterfly wings.  You’re gonna be wishing you were at the ob/gyn office about now.  There’s no being modest if you’re going to get this done.

And then, as if there’s not enough humiliation, they do your behind.  There are various ways they make this happen, but mine was done while on my back, legs up in the air.  And the further down you go from the top of the “V”, the less it hurts.  Seriously.

The result – nice 🙂  I’m super impressed by how clean and comfortable this feels.  I’ve been bikini area shaving for years, and this is WAY better.

I already have my next appointment, so you know it couldn’t have been TOO bad!  Or else the endorphins are clouding my ability to make rational decisions.

Where’s that bystander again??

Movie Review – John Carter

If there’s one thing Disney knows, it’s how to make a movie with a princess.  The focus this time, is not so much on the princess but on her savior, John Carter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ywY6XLj258&feature=fvst

I admit, I’m not a fan of this genre.  The quick rundown on the plot is this:

Civil war soldier finds himself transported to Mars, hooks up with a race of martians that eventually wants to kill him, and on the road back to Earth, he meets a princess, falls in love, and realizes there may be room for one more on the red planet.

I do not recognize any of the actors in the movie – this may or may not be a good thing.  I did, however, keep looking at the John Carter (actor Taylor Kitsch) and thinking he was Johnny Depp in the days before he met Tim Burton.

This is action packed.  John seems to piss off a lot of people in this film, and he goes from one battle to the next.  He nearly gets eaten by blind white apes (for those that think I’m referencing my husband, shame on you – but funny!), almost killed by a ticked off time traveling Holy man, and narrowly escapes execution by the martian creatures that remind me a little like something I’ve seen in Star Wars.

The movie is entertaining.  But it’s not without it’s problems.  John Carter himself is completely flat.  We learn through flashbacks that he’s lost his wife and daughter, but he buries them with as much emotion as you have flushing a carnival goldfish down the toilet. We know that he was in the civil war, and at some point he wanted out, but there’s no story here that we’re really interested in.  And I don’t really buy him as a civil war soldier.  He doesn’t seem all that impressed by the things he discovers on Mars – like he just saw those same things on TV while watching Stargate or something the week before.  We know he falls in love with the princess, not so much because he expresses it but because he won’t go the hell home, even after he knows he has the power to do so.

The characters all look like characters you’ve seen in other movies.  After you get beyond John Carter resembling Johnny Depp, you think he looks a lot like Hercules in some scenes, Braveheart in others, and maybe even Tarzan in a few.  Princess Dejah, who can’t be called flat because of her rather prominent, ummm, hair is a main character, but I have to say, she’s so uninteresting that I’m surprised I remembered her name without looking her up.  And at the end of the movie, the characters I favored most were the supporting characters of Sola and Tars.

If I was rating the movie on a five star scale, I’d probably give it three.  Do I think it was a complete waste of time and money?  No.  Would I buy the DVD?  No.  It was a nice way to spend an afternoon, but this is definitely not a movie you’ll walk away from blown away.

Let’s Gossip – Should Kim Kardashian Keep Her Wedding Gifts?

Awww, true love!  Remember that bazillion dollar wedding that took place not too long ago and lasted ten minutes?  It was between the bootylicious Kim Kardashian and that tall white guy.

Obviously, because the Kardashians only know people who are, like themselves, incredibly, filthy rich, there were some very generous wedding gifts offered to the beautiful bride and whatshisname.  I’m sure there were all the usual things – a crockpot, a toaster, a Mr. Coffee – you know, things that you would buy for the brides you know.  But is the former Mrs. I Needed the Money a Wedding Would Earn Me For My Reality Show entitled to keep the gifts?

According to the jilted jackass that married Kim Karda$hian, no.  He believes that since the marriage was a sham (which, of course, he had no knowledge of), she should return everything.

According to Emily Post, they get to keep the gifts.  Who would want Kim Kardashian’s used bath towels?  Her electric can opener?  The sterling silver toilet paper roll holder?

To soften the blow for all those poor suckers  generous loved ones who are out the big bucks they spent on the buy 1, get 1 for a penny JC Penney down pillows, Kim has donated TWICE the value of each gift to her favorite charity (stop it, those of you thinking it’s the other Kardashians!).  Not the gift giver’s favorite charity, mind you, but one near and dear to Kim herself.

I’m on the fence.  I kind of think if the wedding took place, she gets to keep the gifts.  At least the ones from her family and friends.  And Whatshisface should get the kitchen towel ensemble his family gave.  But, at the same time, I hate that she was able to pull off such a bogus wedding and benefit from it – although it’s not like she needed anyone to buy her anything.

What do you think?  Send them back?  Keep them?  Should the donation have gone to a different charity?

Talk amongst yourselves.

John Carter – In Theaters March 9

Coming this Friday to a theater near you, John Carter.  No one tells a story about a princess and her knight in shining armor quite like Disney.  This movie looks like it will be no exception.  The difference this time?  This is a story like no other Disney has told before.

 

 

And here’s a bonus!

7 Deuce Sports – Kinesis Should be a Four Letter Word

So, I haven’t spoken much about wanting to get back into shape, because it seems every time I mention it, something goes horribly wrong with my health.  Since embarking on a healthier lifestyle, I’ve fought two rounds of MRSA, kidney stones, kidney failure, and finally, this past August, Septic Shock that literally had my life hanging by a thread.  Whew – no wonder I was looking for the comfort of Ben and Jerry after all that!

Since the start of the spring semester in late January, I’ve added exercise into my routine three times a week by way of a healthy walk to and from campus from the student parking lot.  No much, but figure about a mile a day, three days a week.  And that doesn’t count the walking around on campus.  And I carry a big backpack.  Uphill.  Both ways.  In six feet of snow. Not an enormous accomplishment, but I’m down three pounds.  Go me 🙂

In the meantime, Brighid began working at 7 Deuce Sports in Medford.  Owned by former Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle William “Tra” Thomas, this incredible facility is primarily an athletic training center.  Many area sports teams – from about sixth grade on up – go to the center for the state of the art programs they offer in the cutting edge, 7,000 square foot facility. One of the programs offered at 7 Deuce Sports is the kinesis training.  I know, right?  What the hell is it?  When Brighid said, “Do you want to go with me for Kinesis?” I thought she said “Knishes”, and without thinking why the heck anyone needs a knish at 5:45 in the morning, I jumped at the opportunity.  I am not one to pass up a good knish.

Imagine my shock and surprise when there were not only no knishes at 5:45 this morning, but a Mom couldn’t even get a bagel, a doughnut, or a hot coffee!!

Kinesis training, for those of you who want to know, is basically a butt kicking strength and conditioning workout of every muscle in your body.  You do an hour long rotation among the various exercises, which included rowing, crunches, even cardio.  Brighid had promised me the trainer today was the kind and gentle Joe, (kind and gentle may be a stretch for this certified strength and conditioning specialist), but when we arrived, she had no choice but to warn me that the coach conducting today’s class would be none other than the three time Pro Bowl selection, Tra Thomas himself.

Well, of course, I immediately asked where the snack room was when we arrived, only to be told by Mr. Thomas that snacks would be put out later.  I guess they didn’t want powdered sugar from the jelly doughnuts on the equipment??

My first effort wasn’t bad.  And, of course, having done the Curves gym workout (where you switch machines every minute for 30 minutes with a minute break in between each one), I felt like I knew the drill.  Uh-uh.  At the end of the second rotation, beads of water began pouring profusely from my forehead and down my back.  What the heck was that?  Did I not towel off well enough after showering this morning?  No matter.  The sip of water I drank on my way into the gym, before Brighid warned me I might not want to drink any water?  Yeah, it was trying to find it’s way back out through my throat.  During a switch in exercises, I politely excused myself and debated whether running for the ladies room would cause my nausea to come to a head, making me throw up on the floor, or should I walk all dignified like and pray I didn’t puke on the way?  I made it to the ladies room in time to have the wave of nausea pass, and I splashed a little water on my face before talking myself into NOT heading to the car and going back to class.

I’ll admit, I couldn’t keep up as well as Brighid.  Or the uber in shape gym bunny.  Or even the other normal looking mom. But I did WAY better than I expected.

7 Deuce offers individual training, the Kinesis classes, TRX and GFX classes, sports training, technique training, and a variety of other fitness programs.  Best part?  You can go in as a “free agent”, like I did today.  You don’t have to commit to anything – just pay $20 for the class (there is a significant savings to purchase a block of four or more classes, but there is no pressure to do so).

The facility is immaculately clean, bright, sleek, and not nearly as intimidating as I expected.  I have asked Jim for a block of classes for my anniversary next week instead of refilling my coffee card, and I hope that by my cruise in June and my sister’s wedding in July, I fit into the clothes in my closet!

7 Deuce is on Route 70 in Medford, NJ.  You can call and schedule a class or get information at 877-7272-FIT.

Kinesis Machines at 7 Deuce Sports, Medford