Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: The Power of Belief

world-religionBelief is a funny thing. When most people talk about belief, they’re usually taking about believing in things that are intangible; things like religion, a cause, or a greater good. Belief is often closely tied to faith. It’s a bit strange to talk about belief in terms of something we can touch or measure, because that kind of belief requires a simple glance over the evidence staring us in the face. It doesn’t really take any effort on our part to agree that something is true when a scientist or other expert has done all the work for us. The more interesting kind of belief requires some component of faith. A large part of faith is believing in something greater than oneself. This sort of belief is crucial to some of the most popular stories in fantasy and science fiction, from Peter Pan to Doctor Who to Serenity to The Hunger Games. It’s this kind of faith in something greater than oneself that gives true power to the characters in these works.

Spoilers for all three Hunger Games books, Doctor Who, and Serenity below.

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Catching Fire Review

This weekend, Catching Fire, the second in the trilogy of movies based on The Hunger Games books, finally made it to theaters. I had been really excited to see this movie, and I liked it enough that I certainly wouldn’t mind going back to watch it a second time. That said, I didn’t love the movie nearly as much as I thought I would.

I was first introduced into this series with the last movie. I liked the first movie a lot more than this one, probably because I watched it before reading its book, whereas here I did the exact opposite. I think that doing this only worsened my opinion of the Catching Fire movie.

Spoilers ahead.

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Congratulations, you’re a Tribute!

As we all wait (and wait and wait and wait) for Catching Fire to open in theaters, we Hunger Games fans need something to occupy our time. In lieu of reading the book again, which I feel will just lead to more disappointment when the movie ends up changing details, how about we get up, get out, and volunteer as tribute in a fun, non-lethal version of The Hunger Games? Get your friends together and try out this playable version created by some campers at the summer camp I work for.


The Hunger Games- Cornucopia

  • Large Playing Space- We used a Dek Hockey court as our arena, but any large space will work such as an open field, a beach, or even some sparse woods
  • Obstacles/Barriers- If you’re using a flat playing field you’re gonna want some cover, so set up whatever kind of barriers you can manage which will be large enough to hide behind. We used stiff yoga mats set up on their sides but you can use just about anything. Perhaps some folding chairs with a sheet draped between them or a sheet of plywood propped up with sticks. Get creative! If you’re playing in the woods the trees would make excellent cover.
  • Ammunition- For our purposes dodge-balls worked perfectly, but depending on what you have at your disposal/how seriously you want to play this, you can use almost any kind of ball. NERF guns would be a pretty excellent addition, if available. Please be safe though and don’t use real weapons. I don’t want to turn on the news and see someone took a spear to the chest (or an arrow to the knee) while playing a live version of The Hunger Games!
  • Players- The more the merrier! If you have an even number I suggest making teams  of two and assigning districts, but if you have an odd number feel free to adjust accordingly.
  • Paper, Pencil, and Container- For the Reaping. Write down each player’s name on a slip of paper, fold it in half, and place it into a container of your choosing in order to randomly select teams.

Game Play

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Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon): 2013 Edition

Those of us here at LGG&F are back again and working tirelessly to compile and vote on this year’s top 10 canon and top 10 fanon pairings in Geekdom. Last year’s list can be found here.

Now onward to see who made to this year’s list!!

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Sexualized Saturdays: All Women Want is a Date and Nothing Else

So I don’t know how many of you may have noticed, but most fictional women seem to be motivated by one thing: makeup.

Okay, and men.

Obviously I may very well launch into a post on why that’s not true. But instead, let’s also talk about why it’s a damaging idea. So let me start this off with a quick backstory on myself. I’m a nerd. I’m an asexual nerd who never felt the need to seek out a man. I only got a partner eventually because Lady Geek Girl all but super-glued my current boyfriend and I together. But as you can all imagine, it was quite a rough ride for a while. And though the two of us have been dating for almost six years now, I had never been keen on seeking a partner out beforehand.

I just wasn’t interested in it, but I felt as though I would never be happy without a guy, because according to every movie I’ve watched ever, a guy is what I needed. Lord knows, as a woman, I can’t take care of myself, so I need a man to make me happy and to provide for me.

Furthermore, believing that not wanting a partner made me the odd one out and having a skewed frame of reference from the media, I simply didn’t understand other girls growing up. Sure, I had my geeky friends and they all had the occasional crush, but I honestly believed that every other female our age talked about nothing but boys and makeup, which also made me feel as though being a non-nerd girl was very dull.

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Fanfiction Fridays: The Secret Room

Today I bring you a Hunger Games fanfic written by tumblr user feeding-geese, titled “The Secret Room”.

The fic is set after the events of Mockingjay, so if you haven’t yet finished the trilogy get off the computer and get reading! Good God, what are you doing with your life? this fic will contain major spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Trying not to give too much away, since the whole premise of the story hinges on a spoiler, essentially this story tells of Katniss and Peeta coming to terms with one of the character deaths in Mockingjay. This death tore my heart out of my chest and was dealt with a little too succinctly in the book for my taste so I really appreciate this author addressing the aftermath in more detail and how these two characters get through it together.

The story is written as a first person point of view, like the novels, but from Peeta’s perspective rather than Katniss’. I’m often put-off by first person narratives (I’m still a little surprised by how much I enjoyed the books themselves) but I think feeding-geese has done a good job with the style and, much like Suzanne Collins, manages to really get the reader invested in the character through its use.

I’m not only happy with the fact that this story addresses some of the lingering problems left unresolved by the books, but even more so with the way these problems are addressed. The author has kept the characters well-drawn and true to their personalities so that this feels like a very natural continuation of the story by a writer who has a firm grasp on the source material. I can perfectly believe Peeta and Katniss in this scenario and one of the things I most appreciated was that the story, though dealing with the love between Peeta and Katniss, does not get overly romantic. Believe me, I love fluff, but the relationship these two share is pretty far from fluffy so I love that the story didn’t try to make it into something it’s not.

This is one of the first Hunger Games fics I’ve read and I’m very happy with it and look forward to more, from this author and others.

[Also can I just say how great the Peeta/Katniss shipper names are? Everlark almost literally means Eternally Happy and then there’s the giggle-inducing Peeniss. This may become one of my favorite ships for those reasons alone.]

The Second Quarter Quell

This is probably something that should have been a Web Crush, but you know what, I just found it despite its popularity—over four million views on YouTube—and felt the need to share with all you Hunger Games fans. You know, on the off chance that you haven’t seen this yet.

Warnings for bloodshed and dying children.

If the video’s not working, you can find it here.

Web Crush Wednesdays: The More I Arty

It’s Web Crush Wednesdays again! This weeks Web Crush is the awesome tumblr blog The More I Arty! Hooray!

The More I Arty is an awesome art blog and pseudo comic series done by Lily Mitchell and Paul Harasiwka.

This blog has it all, from Avengers-themed drinks, to hilarious Thor and Arrested Development mash-ups, to awesome conversations between Katniss and Sarah (from the Labyrinth). And finally, as their name suggests, some awesome little Sherlock comics.



This is a blog that every nerd should save in their favorites. I hope you all enjoyed this week’s Web Crush!

Sexualized Saturdays: Peeta Mellark

After I finished reading The Hunger Games, I had a lot of feels. However, pretty much the last thing on my mind was shipping (a new and shocking development). And so, although it doesn’t surprise me that the dichotomy developed, I don’t really feel like I belong to Team Peeta or Team Gale. (Can I be a rebel and be, like, Team Johanna?)

Even when there were romantic moments, the books were just so much not about romance that I didn’t have any desire to go deeper into it. But I digress.

This Sexualized Saturdays is about the wonderful, the tortured, the naïve, the boy with the bread and the crush: Peeta Mellark.

Now as far as sexuality goes, I’ll put it upfront: I think Peeta is irrevocably straight. He may not have had a chance to experience any non-hetero attraction what with having a crush on Katniss for, like, his whole life, so there’s always potential that he’s not a pure Kinsey 0, but I really don’t think so in this case.

So Sexualized Saturdays usually focuses on discussing a character with (at least arguably) a non-heteronormative sexuality, so why did I pick Peeta?

Peeta is interesting to me because of the way he performs his sexuality. While Gale is all about blowing stuff up and killing the bad guys, Peeta presents a different schema for a male lead—he is sensitive and artistic; his skills are the sort that are traditionally relegated to female characters: defense, camouflage, hell, cake decoration, and he holds a crush for Katniss unspoken for a decade—but no fan I know has ever accused him of being less of a man for doing these things. In fact, the Team Peeta cohort is expansively and massively huger (from what I can tell) than the Team Anyone Else groups. The thing that’s cool about Peeta is that he represents a role model that says that regardless of sexual orientation or stereotypes, sticking with your talents and being honest and true to yourself are the most important things. And that’s a nice break from the messages being sent by other franchises.

The Odds are Ever in Favor of ‘The Hunger Games’

Lady Saika: So The Hunger Games made its big-screen debut this weekend, and as I am the only member of this blog who’s both read the trilogy and seen the movie, MadameAce has conscripted me into doing a review with her. This breakaway hit story about children brutally murdering each other in an arena translated well to the screen. (PS—Spoilers abound.)

MadameAce: Well, everything she just said isn’t entirely true. I have read the books, or you know, the first two pages of them… Yeah, I wanted someone who knew what was going on to talk about this with me. I personally cannot really comment on how well the translation was, but as an outsider to the fandom until now, I thought the movie did a really good job, and I wasn’t confused by what was happening.

Lady Saika: I’m always worried going into movies about books I liked, because, well, you never know what they’ll change, how true they’ll stay to the story, or how well the actors and the sets and what-have-you represent the images you have made in your head. Case in point: the Percy Jackson movie, the Eragon movie, need I go on? But I was honestly thrilled with the movie adaptation. So much of the stuff in the books happens in Katniss’s head, but the film translated that into actual scenes (for example, we actually see Haymitch talking up the sponsors, or Caesar explaining the Tracker Jackers to the audience).

MadameAce: Being completely new to the story, the presentation of everything Saika just mentioned and more allowed me to both follow the story and get involved in it. Had Caesar not been shown explaining the Tracker Jackers I would have been left wondering how the hell a bee sting can cause hallucinations and swelling that quickly unless everyone in the future is just that allergic. The only other option to this would be to have Katniss do a voice-over, and I’m really glad that didn’t happen. Unlike books, movies cannot be told from one person’s perspective—I’m talking to you, Twilight—and whenever they try to do that it doesn’t feel right. It’s very much a third person omniscient setting. We, the audience, and especially us newer to the story, needed all the scenes with Caesar and everyone else away from Katniss to understand what was happening. I can’t help but compare this to the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, where I sat there grateful the whole time that I had read the books, because otherwise I’d have had no idea what was going on or why I should care about any of it.

Lady Saika: I was personally grateful for Jennifer Lawrence. She really just nailed Katniss. The character of Katniss was one I loved in the books—she’s badass, she’s pragmatic toa fault, she stands up for what she believes in, and she doesn’t really give two shits about relationship drama. She’s a breath of fresh air in the fiction that’s popular among teens, and I was thrilled with her portrayal of the character.

MadameAce: In a world dominated by male protagonists, Katniss really is a perfect example of a strong female character. All too often I see female protagonists having no qualities outside being female, and yeah, the authors, writers, directors, etc. will try to make them badass, while missing the mark. Yes, Katniss is capable, she can take care of herself, she looks out for others, and she can sure as hell loose an arrow and hit a target, but that’s not what makes her a strong character.

Katniss doesn’t lose sight of the big picture. When Haymitch tells her to play up the romance, yes, a certain part of her grows to like Peeta, but she doesn’t give into it in light of everything that’s happening. She sets her goals and then she goes toward them. What I love most about her is that she doesn’t give into the game and she finds a way to beat the system. After watching her go through all of this, I couldn’t help but wonder how things would have changed if Rue lived, because knowing Katniss, she’d save her too if she could.

Lady Saika: Speaking of Rue, her backstory was one of the few things they left out that I was sad about. Although her character is still certainly relatable and likeable in the movie, the book’s glimpse into her former life in agricultural District 11 helped you sympathize more with her as a well-rounded character who dies (rather than just being the cute kid who dies). However, just as in the books, Rue serves as the most constant and poignant reminder that the Hunger Games are a barbaric, unfair, brutal, and cruel institution.

MadameAce: The world at large seems to have a very mixed view on the Hunger Games themselves. Katniss needed to be from a poorer district in order for the audience to sympathize with her. We don’t like the idea of children being forced to fight to the death—or at least I don’t, and I hope most of you agree with me—and it’s the people from the poorer backgrounds that truly see and fear what the Games are. They struggle to survive, and one of the ways they can do that is by putting their names into the draw more times in exchange for food. And when they’re called as tributes, it’s a death sentence. The looks on everyone’s face just lets you know that they don’t expect the tributes to come back alive.

The Capitol itself seems all but oblivious to the woes of the districts. Yes, some districts, like 1 and 2, train their children to fight and don’t have to worry about having their names put into the lottery numerous time due to their wealth, but the people in the Capitol don’t even view the tributes as people. They treat it very much like a show for entertainment, because to them, that’s exactly what the Hunger Games are. At one scene, when Katniss first enters the Capitol, she sees two little children playing with swords, and it’s all fun and games to them. The really hideous woman whose name I cannot remember tells both Katniss and Peeta to be happy because they get dessert and the other tributes don’t. Very few people seem to realize just how cruel and barbaric this practice is, and the ones who do are either survivors from previous years or their personal trainers who have to watch their students die over and over again.

And the people at the Capitol say numerous times that this is to remind the districts of their failed uprising and stop it from happening again. But in actuality, it’s been so long, the Hunger Games probably do more harm than good to the country’s unity.

LadySaika: MadameAce is spot-on. Katniss’s respectful treatment of Rue’s body shows the Games’ viewers that she thinks of her opponents as people worth mourning rather than targets. The Capitol refuses to re-air that scene in reruns because it does incite the viewers in the districts to greater discontent (although it’s not like they were excited about the Games anyway) and as far as full-out rebellion (particularly in Rue’s home, District 11).

Furthermore, although the Capitol uses the Games as a trump card over the districts, guaranteeing their loyalty, after nearly seventy-five years of Games they are out of touch with their victims. The movie also did a good job of showing the brutality of the kids killing each other without it becoming too horrifically gory, but in a way that still shows the disconnect between the rulers and the ruled and forces the viewer to feel objectively uncomfortable (I’m reminded of Katniss watching old Game footage on the train and Caesar’s voiceover saying “Here’s that magical moment when a Tribute becomes a Victor”—as a boy finishes braining another kid with a brick.)

The districts as they stood after the original rebellion had no choice but to let the Capitol take their children; however, their resentment towards the Capitol has grown stronger just as they have recovered their strength over the years. By the end of the movie they stand strong enough to rise up against the Capitol. All they need is a spark—and now they have the Girl on Fire, who spit in the face of the Capitol and refused to play its Game. The ending of the movie is final (the film could definitely stand alone if the producers were to decide, perhaps because they hate money, to discontinue the series) but it is also uncertain—even Peeta and Katniss don’t know what will happen when they get home, and the adults are certainly on edge, because nothing like Katniss’s victory has ever happened before.

The next installment in the trilogy, Catching Fire, doesn’t start filming for a while yet. But they’ve done a tremendous job adapting the first movie, and I now trust them enough to say I look forward to seeing what they do with the next two books.