Mockingjay Part 1 Review

Last night a few friends and I went to the Carmike Theater in Mt. Zion to see Mockingjay Part 1 and I was especially satisfied. I have read all three of the Hunger Games Trilogy books, and I read cliff notes of Mockingjay before seeing the movie so that I could brush up on a few details.  I am well-informed about the book material and am equipped to judge the movie based on accuracy as well as any other avid fan.

The movie stayed extremely close to the book, so much so that I’m about to make a controversial statement in the world of book-to-film adaptations: I think the movie was better than the book. There. I said it. This is also true of Catching Fire. I love the books, but the second and third books were not as good as the first. They felt more rushed. I also feel that the content of these books plays better on screen than on page. There is so much action and drama that it is more exciting to see on the screen. I hope nobody hates me for this opinion.

Anyway, no matter if you love the books or have never read them, this movie is a must see. It is about two hours long, and is captivating from start to finish. I highly recommend it.

Bitter Thanksgiving

Aside from it being extra nippy outside, in less than a week we all will be traveling home to celebrate Thanksgiving. However, I cannot help but notice that statewide, we are one of the few schools who get less than six days of vacation. Not only is this not fair, but Millikin faculty actually VOTED to have our break be this short. Some faculty in revolt have cancelled classes because even THEY would like the longer break. Students still have to stay though even for their Tuesday night classes. That means that if you’re a student who lives out of state like me, you have to leave Wednesday morning. You spend half of the day traveling, so you get even less of a break than everyone else.

Rumors say the break was shortened so that we could have a more even semester with the spring, but there are less holidays in the spring. This makes no sense to me and yes, this might be an angsty rant but shouldn’t the students have SOME input on the break schedule since WE are the ones paying to go here? Even if it wasn’t the entire student body, maybe just the Student Senate could give its input. I believe since we elect students on Student Senate we should trust them to make the right decision. By having these random two days of classes next week we are being cut off from having four more days of break. Are these two days of classes really going to make or break the semester?

When we come back from Thanksgiving Break on December 1st, we will have two full weeks of classes and then finals to end out our semester. I personally would like to skip my November 24th and 25th classes but that would hurt my grade.

Despite my angst there is nothing we can do at this point. The calendar is set in place five years in advance. So doing something now could help out the future generations of Millikin but not ourselves. I’m hoping that you agree! Just know that you’re not alone in your bitter cold feelings about this weather and this upcoming break.

Slow-Cooker Thanksgiving Sides

Cut down on kitchen chaos by reducing the traffic in and out of your oven with these slow-cooker Thanksgiving recipes. From stuffings to casseroles, you’ll be amazed by which Thanksgiving classics you can prepare in a slow cooker. These four easy recipes will save you time and money during America’s favorite holiday.

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Slow-Cooker Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Pecans
Slow-Cooker Sausage Stuffing
Slow-Cooker Sausage Stuffing
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Slow-Cooker Green Bean Casserole

 

Slow-cooker Home-Style Mashed Potaotes
Slow-cooker Home-Style Mashed Potaotes

These recipes can be found at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/thanksgiving/thanksgiving-sides/slow-cooker-thanksgiving.page-5.html

 

 

8 Delicious Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers

Leftovers are a given after every Thanksgiving meal. But instead of using that turkey for boring old turkey sandwiches, here’s a few creative ways to spice up those leftovers.

Here’s a little breakfast to start your Black Friday off right
1. Stuffing, Bacon, and Egg Cups
breakfast

For a leftover-full lunch try this:
2. Quesadillas with Chutney and Brie
quesadilla

This is a leftover meal that may possibly be better than the original:
3. Turkey Tetrazzini
turkeytetrazzini

Take it south of the border with these:
4. Turkey Enchiladas
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and this:
5. Turkey Posole
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For a little something unexpected try these:
6. Mashed Potato, Cheddar, and Chive Waffles
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And if  you must have the quintessential turkey sandwich, make sure it’s one of these:
7. Paleo Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwichpaleo

8. Turkey Sandwich
turkeysandwich

Recommended Otome Games For American Players!

Since the creation of Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and even older games like Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, gamers have been introduced to a romance system in video games. While it’s not hacking and shooting through enemies, romance has become an important part of many games.

Otome games completely utilize this romance system, giving female gamers the virtual boyfriends they’ve always wanted.

Otome games are dating simulation games where the player has a multitude of male characters to romance and ‘have a relationship’ with virtually. It has become a growing phenomenon in the West, coming from Japan’s gigantic success with the games with their audiences.  Japanese companies have slowly started to localize their otome games, bringing the fun to America.

Never played one? Here are 5 recommendations of otome games you can play on your smartphone, handheld console, or computer!

  1. HAKUOUKI ~DEMON OF THE FLEETING BLOSSOM~
Hakuouki ~Demon of the Fleeting Blossom~

Hakuouki takes place in the Edo period of Japan, adding a romantic twist to a historical moment in time with the infamous rogue samurai group, the Shinsengumi. You play as Chizuru Yukimura, a women disguised as a man searching for her father who has disappeared. You become witness to a dark secret and are forced to live with the Shinsengumi; in exchange, they assist in helping you find your father. With six unique romantic interests, each time you play is a new experience with a touch of historical teaching. This game is playable on PSP.

2. MY FORGED WEDDING

My Forged Wedding

My Forged Wedding is an otome game for your iPhone/Android from the company “Voltage Inc”. This story revolves around you coming to the city and needing a job. Your uncle offers to help you find a job in exchange for you helping his friends (who are all conveniently around your age!). How? By choosing one and pretending to be their wife for a month! Will this fake love blossom into true love? Play the game and find out!

3. DANDELION -Wishes Brought To You-

Dandelion -Wishes Brought To You-

This game (available on Steam!) is a heartwarming otome game with a very strange intro. You play as Heejung and you find a basket of cats and rabbits in your room. Things get even stranger as they suddenly get human forms! With a strong and believable main character, we have an experience that any woman can relate to: not knowing what to do in life and how to deal with romance.

4. CINDERS

Cinders

Everyone has heard of the story of Cinderella. Cinders, also available on Steam, is a game that takes that story and gives it many more possible endings. You play as Cinderella and, through the game, you are given multiple choices. Instead of Prince Charming, you have other romantic choices and different ways to make the story your own. With amazing art, this game is a definite game to try.

5. SEDUCE ME

Seduce Me

Seduce Me is an up-and-coming otome game for PC/Mac/Linux where you are caught in a stream of supernatural conflict alongside love and your future. You play as Mika Anderson, a high school senior who has just inherited her grandfather’s large estate. As you move in, however, you are greeted with the wounded bodies of five men who you later learn to be Incubi (“Demons who consume and use sexual energy of humans to survive”). With six men AND TWO WOMEN to romance, the story will be revealed to play (completely free) on Christmas Day! You can play the demo (also free) right here!

Decatur’s Top Five Places to Walk, Run, or Bike

From various road courses to scenic views, Decatur has many paths for getting some miles in. Whether you are an experienced marathoner or a casual walker, the various locations around Decatur offer the ability to go as far as your heart desires. Local runners have access to indoor and outdoor facilities, parks and trails, and Decatur was named a 2011 Road Runners Club of America “Runner Friendly Community”.

running

(Image from momentumptnp.com)

1. Fairview Park: Decatur’s biggest park Fairview offers miles of pavement for long runs, plenty of grassy areas for trail runners or cross country runs, and lots of hills for upping the tempo and working on your stride. The beginning of the paved trail starts on the corner of Oakcrest Ave and Fairview and goes through the park where you can break off and take the route of your choice. The trail leading north takes you along Stevens Creek all the way to Greendell Park. The route leading south will end up at Rock Springs Conservation Center, Kiwanis Park, or all the way to Lincoln Park depending on your route.

stevens creek

(Photo from traillink.com)

2. Rock Springs Conservation Center: Rock Springs also offers a great paved bikeway and cross country trails to suit all. “This bikeway connects Rock Springs Conservation Area, Fairview Park, and Kiwanis Park with a paved, 3.74 mile, 10-foot wide, handicapped accessible trail for hiking, bicycling, dog walking, roller blading, running, walking, and more” (Macon County Conservation.org). The bike trail starts right off Nearing Lane and ends inside Fairview Park.

rock springs

(Photo from Joe Hardenbrook, flickr.com)

3. Millikin University: Millikin offers both indoor and outdoor facilities for runners. Partnered with the Decatur Indoor Sports Center, the facility offers a 4-Lane 200 meter track and a fitness center with treadmills and bikes for cycling. The outdoor track is located at Frank M. Lindsay Field right next to Griswold Physical Education Center on campus. The facility underwent renovation this past summer with a new turf field and resurfaced track.  Lights and a new scoreboard were added as well. “The 8-lane, all-weather track and field events area can host track meets of any size. In July of 2000 and 2001, Millikin hosted the USATF Youth Athletic Championships on the track and in May 2001 and 2004 the Big Blue welcomed the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships” (athletics.millikin.edu).

frank m lindsay

(Photo from athletics.millikin.edu)

4. Nelson Park/ Lake Decatur: This is one of my favorite routes in Decatur. I love the scenery around the lake and often times find myself staring off into the distance at the houses, boats, or various attractions around Decatur. This route starts down by the newly renovated pier by the Beach House along the docks and trails to Lost Bridge Road.  Follow it to Country Club Road where you can take a left and see Scovill Zoo and The Children’s Museum. Get on Route 36 and take it down to S. Lake Shore Drive, back to the start. This route is roughly 4 miles and is very enjoyable to run.  Running along S. Lake Shore is not a bad option either as the road has been cut off to through traffic to make it a runner-friendly path.

sailboats-on-lake-decatur

(Photo from tripadvisor.com)

5. Forsyth Park: This park covers 75 acres and is Forsyth’s largest park. Located off West Weaver Road in Forsyth which is right outside of Decatur, this park has four separate off-street parking lots, wooded and open bike path areas, and walking trails. The park features spacious areas of open fields for cross country running or sprints. The park has public restrooms, benches, and water fountains . This is a great spot for whether you are looking to do a tempo run or just log some easy miles.

These are some of the most accessible places to run in Decatur but the sky is the limit on where your path may take you. You can view interactive maps and detailed route options here.

The Devil’s Carnival – Next Stop: Heaven!

“Give me two Alleluias and an Amen!”

The Devil’s Carnival, the indie-developed cult classic dark musical, has gotten many reviews, both good and bad. For a 55-minute movie, The Devil’s Carnival has a lot to offer the audience. It is both comedic and tragic and will play on things we don’t usually think about when it comes to Heaven and Hell. While this movie sets up Hell’s intention to start a war with Heaven, the latest trailer from Darren Lynn Bousman and Terrance Zdunich features the second installment of the carnival ride, The Devil’s Carnival: Alleluia!

“In THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL: ALLELUIA, Lucifer exacts a plot against Heaven, but God and his agents are ready for battle.”

This trailer gives us a lovely glimpse into the dark yet entrancing world of Heaven with Adam Pascal as our musical guide through the almost two minute trailer. As soon as this was posted, hundreds of people voiced their excitement. With a cast including Adam Pascal (Rent), Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas), Ted Neeley (Jesus Christ Superstar), Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), and David Hasselhoff (Baywatch), many people are extremely excited about this long-awaited installment to the series. This movie has been pushed back so many times because of financial issues and timing, there’s no wonder people are bouncing in their seats.

There is no public date yet, but there’s no doubt that this ride will be one we won’t forget.

Alex From Target: The Trending Nobody

If you haven’t heard already, there is a new phenomenon going on throughout social media. Alex Christopher Lebouf, a grocery bagger for Target, had his picture taken by a 15 year old teen named Brooklyn Reiff. She then turned his picture into a meme and Alex became an instant sensation throughout social media. Now, tons of people have begun to rave over him because of his charming good looks at such a common place like Target. Alex’s fame has increased immensely since then because of the hashtag #AlexFromTarget. He gained over 300,000 followers within an hour of the photo going viral. Many people have also even made spinoff memes about him like Dequan from Staples, or Steve from Starbucks.

B1fDPFsIcAEnZl0

The most interesting part about this phenomenon is that this boy has risen to fame by doing nothing. The promotion he received was done by another regular teen. This concept alone is one of the main reasons why Alex from Target is such a hilarious phenomenon. He has been seen on The Ellen Show and has even had huge news sources cover him like CNN, Buzz Feed, and Times.

In a way this should almost make our society question what we deem to be “famous” today. There are tons of other examples of famous nobodies throughout our society. For instance, Kim Kardashian is a huge icon, and not because of all the hard work that she has done. She simply became famous for being famous. The same goes along with Paris Hilton as well, whose family is the one that deserves the praise for their hard work, not her. The only reason why Alex from Target is interesting is because he’s a common boy. This story is so popular because it makes it seem like anybody can become famous.

alex-from-target-appears-on-ellen

Movies To Get You into The Christmas Spirit

Holy crap! Christmas is in less than two months! Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Black Friday has become a bloodbath that starts on earlier and earlier every year. We just survived midterms and still have to get through finals week.

Getting into the holiday spirit may be at the bottom of your to-do list, but it’s a good excuse to just sit back and relax. Here are some films to get you into the holiday spirit!

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This is the perfect movie to help you transition from the Halloween spirit to the Holiday Spirit. Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween, discovers Christmas Town and tries to understand a new holiday.

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Pieces of April (2003)
This is not a movie about Christmas. Katie Holmes plays the black sheep of her family and in an effort to reconnect she invites her entire family to her apartment for Thanksgiving Dinner. Her family reluctantly attends and spends the entire trip tying to remember happy moments with their daughter. While April encounters every kind of disaster in trying to cook Thanksgiving including finding out the day of that her oven does not work. This dramedy is one of the few movies based on the first holiday of the season and is highly entertaining.

poa10

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Jim Carrey plays the misunderstood Grinch in this Dr. Seuss classic adapted for the big screen. Cindy Lou Who wants Whoville to recapture the true meaning of Christmas. She seeks out The Grinch, a hermit who is feared by all the townsfolk to help the town remember the true meaning of Christmas. After the people of Whoville don’t welcome him back, the Grinch plots to steal Christmas.

dr-seuss-how-the-grinch-stole-christmas-movie

Elf (2003)
Buddy The Elf is a human raised by an Elf. After creating chaos one too many times up in the North Pole, he is sent to the real world in search of his family and true identity. This movie is whimsical and full of laughs for everyone.

ELf

Christmas Vacation (1989)
In this installment of the National Lampoon, The Griswold family encounters a series of insane disasters during a large family Christmas. From being blinded by Mr. Griswold’s Christmas light display to the incineration of Aunt Bethany’s cat, this movie is a nonstop laugh fest and true Christmas classic from the 1980s.

National-Lampoons-ChristmasVacation-image-national-lampoons-christmasvacation-36345007-1280-720

The Holiday (2006)
This Christmas rom-com stars Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz as two professional women who both experience guy problems right around the holidays. In a desperate move, the women decide to trade homes for the holiday season to get away from their problems. Completely over love these women reluctantly fall for local men in their new locations and find out their lives aren’t completely over. Filmed in the countryside of England and sunny Los Angeles, this film is a cozy portrayal of two Christmases.

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A Christmas Story (1983)
Its Christmastime in the 1950s and all Ralphie wants is a Red Ryder BB gun. He sets out on an adventure to convince his parents (especially his mother), his teacher, and even Santa himself that this is the perfect present.

Ralphie

Home Alone (1990)
Macaulay Culkin stars as an 8 year old troublemaker who is accidently left behind while his family flies to France for Christmas. He then must defend his home against two idiot burglars while his mother rushes back home to reunite with her son. This movie, with its crazy but brilliant booby traps and two burglars who won’t give up, makes for great entertainment that isn’t necessarily all about Christmas.

home-alone

The Polar Express (2004)
Adapted from the classic children’s book. A young boy who doubts the magic of Christmas and Santa waits up on Christmas Eve in hopes of hearing a sleigh or reindeer on his roof. To his surprise he hears something louder: the roaring engine of the Polar Express. He boards and is taken to the North Pole with other children and receives a special gift that makes him believe in Christmas again.

Polar Express

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
No list of Christmas movies would be complete without this film. James Stewart stars as a kind but frustrated businessman who plans to commit suicide on Christmas Eve. He is visited by his guardian angel Clarence who is determined to stop him from ending his own life by showing him what would have happened if he never existed. After seeing all the love and good he had brought the people in his life and realizes that life is a gift.

Wonderful Life

What movies are you watching this holiday season?

Dragon Age Keep – The Story Before The Inquisition

If you are an avid gamer and know Dragon Age, chances are that you have played Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2 in preparations for the upcoming Inquisition on the 18th of this month. However, if you haven’t had the pleasure of playing either or both of the previous games, Bioware has a quick solution for you!

Recently, Bioware released Dragon Age Keep, an online tapestry and interactive experience for the Dragon Age series, in open beta (which basically means “it still has bugs, but we’re releasing it to the masses to find them and fix them!”).

What is Dragon Age Keep? Basically, it is a quick way to ‘play’ Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2 and build the story that happens before the timeline for Dragon Age Inquisition even starts. You are presented a tapestry covered with blocks that represent key points in each game, including the relationships you’ve had with your companions and the status of your character as well as the games’ available expansions.

Dragon Age Keep Tapestry

If you haven’t played DAO or DA2, this may seem VERY confusing, but once you actually fiddle around with the blocks in the tapestry, you will slowly see the main points of the games on your tapestry.

Hero Selection – Dragon Age Origins

You start by choosing your hero. There are 24 preset characters (male or female, human/elf/dwarf, warrior/rogue/mage) for DAO and six (male or female, human only, warrior/rogue/mage) for DA2. If you have played the games, you can import your characters into the tapestry, select them, and the tapestry will adjust to the choices you made in game. If you choose a preset character, then you start off with a very basic storyline. Either way, you then can change the choices in the story to your preferences.

The Arl of Redcliffe Arc – Dragon Age Origins

For example, here is a small story arc titled “The Arl of Redcliffe”. In this section of the tapestry, you see the key events that happen during this arc. If you click on one of them, you get a question and a choice along with a description of the choices available.

Choice 1
Choice 2
Choice 3

Now, once again, if you’ve played DAO/DA2/Both, these choices have been made for you, but if you choose one, it affects other choices that happens in the game. The great thing is that the tapestry will stop you from confirming your choice and show you the changes that would have to be made in order for your current choice to make sense.

Once you’ve made all of your choices, you can watch your entire tapestry play out for you in an interactive video that plays right in the browser. The video is narrated by a character from Dragon Age 2, Varric Tethras, and he goes through the main story of both Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2, referencing your choices and building the video experience from your tapestry. During some major points, the video gives you the option to change your choice, changing the story midway through Varric’s narration.

At the end, you are brought back to the tapestry and have the option to rework your story, save the tapestry, and/or start a new one. When Dragon Age Inquisition comes out, you can import your tapestry to Inquisition as game data to give you the pre-set up storyline for your game experience. Depending on what your heroes did in the previous games, the world of Thedas (the setting for the Dragon Age series) will change one way or another for better or worse.

If you intend to play Inquisition, regardless of if you have played DAO/DA2, I highly suggest signing up for Dragon Age Keep and playing around with the many options you are presented with. With hundreds of ways to start the story and even more ways to end your Inquisition, the choices and experiences are endless.

Me? I will play my first run of the game by bringing the stories that my two favorite personalized heroes (Michaela Cousland from Dragon Age Origins and Mahali Hawke from Dragon Age 2) left behind for Thedas.

Inquisition comes out November 18! To try out the Keep, go to the website and sign up!