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Take actions to reduce post-holiday stress -3/2/2015, 9:16 AM

Breeding costs in cow/calf operations have changed -3/1/2015, 4:49 PM

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Phillipsburg DCF worker honored by governor -2/27/2015, 4:49 PM

City starting burnout Monday -2/27/2015, 4:31 PM

Hays in running for hometown showdown -2/26/2015, 1:39 PM

Local forum set for March 24 -2/26/2015, 10:29 AM

Sharma advancing MIS surgery for HaysMed -2/26/2015, 9:23 AM

Lenten retreat March 14 in Hays -2/25/2015, 11:50 AM

Spring 2015 continues enrollment growth at FHSU -2/25/2015, 10:57 AM

Rose Garden hosting special event March 9 -2/24/2015, 11:32 AM

Gloria 'Daniel-izes' dessert -2/24/2015, 8:14 AM

Breaks might help post-holiday depression -2/23/2015, 9:55 AM

Upcoming farm bill and grain price projections -2/22/2015, 5:26 PM

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Birthday -2/19/2015, 8:59 AM

Extension offers advice for passing down farm or ranch -2/19/2015, 8:59 AM

A smile is friendly magic -2/18/2015, 4:56 PM

'Fifty Shades of Grey' is only slightly painful -2/17/2015, 8:44 AM

An easy-to-make, tasty food treat -2/17/2015, 4:18 PM

There are several ways to deal with post-holiday blues -2/16/2015, 9:22 AM

Kochia control in early spring for fields in wheat -2/15/2015, 2:37 PM

Business Briefcase (Feb. 15, 2015) -2/15/2015, 2:37 PM

Clubs and meetings (Feb. 15, 2015) -2/15/2015, 2:27 PM

A mother-in-law's example of faith shows transformation -2/13/2015, 9:26 AM

Birthday -2/12/2015, 9:08 AM

Elevate your marriage during National Marriage Week -2/12/2015, 9:08 AM

Taking time to have a little laugh during life's busyness -2/11/2015, 8:51 AM

Lions Club convention March 7 in Hays -2/10/2015, 4:10 PM

HaysMed welcomes new pulmonologist -2/10/2015, 1:35 PM

'SpongeBob Movie' is what you make it out to be -2/10/2015, 9:01 AM

Remembering Valentine's Days from years ago -2/9/2015, 10:07 AM

Signs can be revealing while recognizing depression -2/9/2015, 10:06 AM

Clubs and meetings (Feb. 8, 2015) -2/8/2015, 4:26 PM

Business Briefcase (Feb. 8, 2015) -2/8/2015, 3:32 PM

County Extension has farm bill information available -2/8/2015, 3:31 PM

Kansas 4-H Foundation names new president/CEO -2/5/2015, 3:32 PM

Freezer-ready slow-cooker meals can be safe and delicious -2/5/2015, 9:36 AM

Community Bulletin Board (Feb. 5, 2015) -2/5/2015, 8:15 AM

Youngsters look back through generations on KS Day -2/4/2015, 8:15 AM

Dealing with illness, vaccines through the years -2/4/2015, 8:15 AM

'Project Almanac' misallocates its resources -2/3/2015, 9:48 AM

Church services a busy time -2/3/2015, 9:47 AM

Many things can cause post-holiday depression -2/2/2015, 9:13 AM

Business Briefcase (Feb. 1, 2015) -2/1/2015, 4:32 PM

Nex-Tech names a studio space in Hammond Hall on FHSU campus -1/30/2015, 3:47 PM

Castle Rock Casiono Resort submits application for project -1/30/2015, 3:47 PM

Dreiling/Schmidt radiation oncology receives accreditation -1/30/2015, 10:13 AM

Moran gains seat on Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee -1/30/2015, 9:54 AM

Bible is playbook to super life, not Super Bowl, victory -1/30/2015, 8:23 AM

Moran gains seat on Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee -1/29/2015, 2:02 PM

Extension offers regional estate planning workshops -1/29/2015, 9:36 AM

DeBakey Heart Institute sponsoring CPR training -1/28/2015, 1:46 PM

Hays Academy of Hair Designs sweeps competition -1/28/2015, 12:06 PM

Hospital restrictions in place at HaysMed -1/28/2015, 10:25 AM

Battling the flu -1/28/2015, 10:06 AM

Comedian, author Rainn Wilson coming to FHSU -1/27/2015, 1:37 PM

Serving up a unique treat with frogmore stew -1/27/2015, 9:12 AM

DeBakey Heart Institute sponsors coffee, conversation -1/26/2015, 11:04 AM

Many can suffer from seasonal disorders -1/26/2015, 9:50 AM

Clubs and meetings (Jan. 25, 2015) -1/25/2015, 3:05 PM

Winter, spring options for winter annual weed control in wheat -1/25/2015, 3:05 PM

Bishop from Ghana visits area -1/23/2015, 7:47 AM

Eating well while spending less actually is possible -1/22/2015, 9:55 AM

One of 5 finalists for FHSU provost position withdraws -1/21/2015, 11:36 AM

Away from home, and longing to be back in Kansas -1/21/2015, 8:44 AM

New Year babies abound at Rooks County Health -1/20/2015, 1:37 PM

'American Sniper' hits its mark in U.S. theaters -1/20/2015, 9:31 AM

HaysMed leads patient safety program -1/20/2015, 9:22 AM

HaysMed joins trend, expands Point of Service collections -1/19/2015, 1:46 PM

Couture-Lovelady assigned to House Rules Committee -1/19/2015, 11:22 AM

Watch out for effects of post-holiday depression -1/19/2015, 8:38 AM

Save some trouble, get agriculture leases in writing -1/18/2015, 3:14 PM

Clubs and meetings (Jan. 18, 2015) -1/18/2015, 3:13 PM

-1/18/2015, 2:00 PM

Hays to host Western region farmers market conference -1/17/2015, 3:23 PM

Community Bulletin Board (Jan. 17, 2015) -1/17/2015, 3:14 PM

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Senior Companion honored -1/14/2015, 2:49 PM

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For Your Information (Jan. 13, 2015) -1/13/2015, 1:37 PM

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Community Bulletin Board (Jan. 12, 2015) -1/12/2015, 8:47 AM

Clubs and meetings (Jan. 11, 2015) -1/11/2015, 4:00 PM

Calling all precision agriculture geeks -1/11/2015, 3:51 PM

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Halls of Ivy -1/9/2015, 4:00 PM

Hays Recreation Commission calendar -1/9/2015, 4:00 PM

Regional farmers market vendor workshop Jan. 30 in Hays -1/8/2015, 9:18 AM

Community Bulletin Board (Jan. 8, 2015) -1/8/2015, 9:18 AM

'Into the Woods' strays from the path -1/6/2015, 9:48 AM

Orscheln acquires building in Abilene -1/5/2015, 3:41 PM

Strategies can help stepfamilies through holidays -1/5/2015, 8:46 AM

Community Bulletin Board (Jan. 5, 2015) -1/5/2015, 8:46 AM

Make New Year's resolutions that stick -1/2/2015, 9:44 AM

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SPOTLIGHT
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'Catching Fire' burns brightly

Published on -11/26/2013, 11:29 AM

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There's a very simple formula to how drama works. In Act I, you introduce the characters and the problem. In Act II, the problem grows and envelops the characters -- stifling any chance of victory. Then, in Act III, the good guys usually win.

That basic outline is the structure almost all stories follow. My personal favorite is Act II. When things get darkest, you get to see who the characters really are or what they can really do.

When it comes to trilogies, I find that I almost always like the second movie the most. "The Empire Strikes Back," "The Two Towers" and "The Dark Knight" are my favorite installments of their respective franchises. Reassuringly, "Catching Fire" is shaping up to be part of that mighty company.

Before writing this article, I reread my review of the first "Hunger Games" movie, and I'm inclined to think I was a little generous. I liked "The Hunger Games," but I was far from awed.

My biggest problem was the distance between the main characters and the overtones of the world at large. By virtue of its place as an Act II story and its cinematic execution, "Catching Fire" tells a more tightly woven tale.

"Catching Fire" not only made me believe in the world I was seeing, but it also made that world grand in scale and intimate in heart.

The story of Batman fighting gangs of thugs while single-handedly saving Gotham is ultimately secondary to the story of an emotionally broken Bruce Wayne turning his inner demons on the society that spawned them. Similarly, "Catching Fire" succeeds where "The Hunger Games" failed in that the heart of the story is a young girl finding herself the unwilling symbol of a revolution instead of a kid being thrown into a ring with a bow and a love triangle.

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" should be a crowd pleaser any way you slice it. While it's certainly not a varsity member of the "Empire Strikes Back"/"Two Towers"/"Dark Knight" team, it can very comfortably play first string on the junior varsity team.

5 of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at Fort Hays State University Foundation. james.gerstner@gmail.com

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