Agile Update – Week 51

Last week was Christmas week, which made for a busy week but I still managed to get things done, including a fair amount of writing. I wrote three posts on WordPress: my weekly Agile update (though it was late, and not posted until Wednesday), a review of Season 3 of The Batman, and an opinion piece about Abrams comments about women and Star Wars. I also reviewed Doctor Who Millennial Rites on GoodReads. See the widget on the lower right corner of this blog to read my review. Millennial Rites was the last of the Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures that I have in paperback, though I do have a few more to read in e-book format. I feel both very accomplished to finish off reading my collection of the Doctor Who Past Doctor and Missing Doctor Adventures, but at the same time I will miss them.

In the professional development sphere, I read, took notes, and did the chapter review for chapter 26 in my A+ review book. I attended class on Tuesday and did two labs, turning in the sheets for credit. Because of the holiday, we did not have class on Thursday.

Last week my Mom and I finished our Christmas shopping, then did the wrapping of presents on Wednesday. On Thursday (Christmas Eve) we went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for Christmas. Because of the wind storm on Wednesday night – they had no power, which meant no heat (the furnace has an electric starter and electric blower), and no running water (a pump for a private well requires electricity). But, oddly enough we made the most of it. My brother cooked the ham and turkey breast on the grill outside (it was oddly warm). We opened presents. My sister-in-law was able to use her gas stove top by manually lighting it (carefully) so she cooked the potatoes that way, and mashed them the old-fashioned way. I even got to play a round of my brand-new Doctor Who Clue game with the twins, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my Mom. In short, it was a lot quieter, no distractions, and it made for a very happy and enjoyable holiday – even though it was also cold and dark. I went to Christmas Eve services with my parents at the Dominican center (a Catholic Chapel). It was a very nice service, if a bit long.

Overall, for a holiday week last week was very nice. I was glad to get three posts done on WordPress, though I didn’t have time to do a movie review. I also completed one book review on GoodReads, but didn’t get my next graphic novel review done. Still, overall, it was very successful.

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The Batman – Season 3

  • Series Title:  The Batman
  • Season:  3
  • Episodes:  13
  • Discs:  2
  • Cast:  Rino Romano, Alastair Duncan, Danielle Judovits, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tom Kenny, Mitch Pileggi, Adam West (as Mayor Grange, uncredited)
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers (Animation)

The third season of The Batman brings in a teenaged Batgirl and Barbara Gordon’s father, Commissioner Gordon. Batgirl’s origin involves her friend, Pamela Isley, who becomes Poison Ivy in the opening two-parter, then returns towards the end of the season. Yet, despite the new characters, The Batman just doesn’t tell the classic and memorable stories of Batman: The Animated Series, nor does it have the out there humor of Batman – The Brave and the Bold. The Batman is simply very flat.

The third season features stand-alone episodes with stand-alone villains such The Ventriloquist and Scarface, Gearhead, and the usual suspects of Joker and Penguin. Hugo Strange is in more than one episode, but his story isn’t strong enough to make the season compelling – especially not when compared to other versions of Batman.

“The Laughing Cats” has Batman and Batgirl working with Catwoman against Joker who in turn is stealing rare Black Siberian Leopard to sell to a hunter who lives on his own private island and gets his jollies hunting rare, even nearly extinct animals. Although it was great to see Batman working with Catwoman for a change – they have no chemistry in this series. And they could have done more with the greediness of the hunter, rather than emphasizing the maze escape in the second half of the half-hour episode.

“Brawn” has Joker stealing and using Bane’s “strength enhancing” pump (for Venom, which isn’t mentioned) but whereas a Joker with Bane’s size and strength should have been fascinating – it just makes Batman look like a bully for “beating-up” the normal-sized Joker at the end of the episode.

“Gotham’s Ultimate Criminal Mastermind” – has Hugo Strange compiling the criminal psychological profiles of all of Gotham’s criminals in Arkham, plus his own warped psyche into a super-computer, named D.A.V.E. (Digital Advanced Villain Emulator) to “help” police solve crimes. DAVE escapes immediately, goes on a crime spree, then deduces who Batman really is. Batman defeats the super-computer of course.

There’s nothing disastrously wrong with The Batman Season 3, but there’s also nothing particularly memorable about it either. It’s just very flat.

Agile Update – Week 50

Last week was very successful personally. You’ll see why in a moment.  I only wrote two blog posts – my regular Agile Update, and a movie review (that project plugs along). And for writing I also reviewed one book, a graphic novel actually, on GoodReads. To read my review of Fractures, see the GoodReads widget on the lower right corner of this blog. Last week I attended my vet’s retirement party. It was open house style, so very brief, but it was nice to be able to stop by and say hi. I also went to my Gentle Yoga class – last class for the year. The class was awesome, and I’m going to miss it.

Much of my time last week was spent filling out paper work for, dun dun da: my new job! I had an interview on December 14, which ended with a verbal offer – subject to background and security checks. On December 22, I received my official written offer and accepted the position. Apparently, the checks are still on-going, but as of now I’m scheduled to start Jan 4. I haven’t really talked about every job I’ve applied to over the last year, or every phone interview, or even the in-person interviews I’ve had – partially to avoid jinxing anything, and partially because I just kept getting so discouraged and disgusted with it all. But I kept track of everything in Evernote, and in my Agile notebook. And if one of my unstated goals was, “get a new job”, I have now accomplished that goal. I’m starting as a Knowledge Base Writer, and will be transferred to the call center position in February. The KB Writer job is no benefits but the call center is full benefits. And training for both is paid. (Actually, the KB position is just on-the-job training, but it should be very similar to my previous technical writing job, and things I’ve done on this blog – like correct HTML.) I’m so happy! And not a moment too soon, because my situation was getting pretty desperate.

I also worked on my A+ class – because for this job, I still need to be certified, the sooner the better, and I think I really need to be done by the end of January. Which means in January I’ll be working full time and taking the equivalent of a full part-time course load because of the way the class meets (3 hours twice a week, that would equal six credits if it was an accredited college course). So January will be very busy, and I fully expect my favorite shows to sit on the DVR until at least the weekend and maybe until February. On the other hand, some shows are taking a Winter break anyway.

In terms of my class, I read chapter 25, took notes, and did the chapter review for my A+ class. I attended class both days. I did three Transcender exams, one in the classroom. I also turned in the chapter reviews for 23, 24, and 25 – which put me ahead of schedule. I just need to keep up the pace so I can finish the book, and review and study until I feel confident about passing my A+ exam. And since I’ve already been hired, I don’t have to also worry about going broke, not getting a job, not being hired, or having to wait for months to get into the next wave of hiring and training.

Tumblr Fans React to JJ Abrams Remark about Women and Star Wars

First, read this from Tumblr:  Brilliant Commentary responding to Abrams comments that women didn’t like the original Star Wars but they will like the new one.

Here’s my original comment:

Yes – exactly. This is the second time I’ve seen a male director pull this type of frankly sexist bs *while trying to sound politically correct and ‘accomodating’ in the same breath* – and while my natural optimism wants to put it down to ignorance not arrogance – I’m beginning to see sexim in Hollywood is far from dead and often worse than in the 1970s. In *Star Wars* for example, though it’s Luke who introduces himself with “I’m Luke Skywalker I’m here to rescue you.” It’s Leia who does the rescuing once they get the door open. This is WHY Luke’s line always gets a laugh.

And you’re right – it was ***women*** who wrote the fanfic, and the novels, organized the clubs and the conventions – and now, yet again women’s role in cultural history is being ignored and swept under the rug and the director claims it didn’t happen? No. Just no! I saw Star Wars in 1977 – I was 8. Perfect age for a fantasy SF film like that. And I DO have a problem with an ignorant sexist diector claiming I couldn’t possibly have been there because “girls don’t like Star Wars” and it’s arrogant of him to say “we must change Star Wars so girls like it” – but not adding like realistic characters or say having a woman direct it.

Now if you’re a long time reader of this blog – you’ve probably noticed I’m a bit of a Tomboy (as my mother, bless her heart, used to say). I like geeky things – geeky boy things: Star Trek and Star Wars, Doctor Who and Lord of the Rings, SF, Fantasy, Computers, Comics (especially Batman), and Technology. Moreover, a lot of traditional “girl” things bore me: makeup and perfume, high heel shoes, fashion, and Disney. Well, except Once Upon a Time – because OUAT is awesome. But still. I feel completely comfortable with “boyish” interests, even as an adult woman. The only time I get annoyed – well it’s there’s two times, actually.

One is when someone – male or female (but, let’s be honest – they are usually male, because right now there is a growing cadre of “girl geeks” out there, especially on-line. Have you met Tumblr?) tells me I can’t be interested in something because it’s “for boys” or “it’s too complicated for mere girls” that, frankly, gets me as mad as Bruce Banner on a bad day. I get angry. I see red. And I often make an utter fool of myself until I can calm down and point out that yes, it’s perfectly OK for me, a mere woman, to like Batman (or in this case Star Wars) especially as, at this point, I’ve seen various versions of, definitely in the case of Batman, Batman from three or four decades now.

And second, is when someone challenges me on a subject I know exceedingly well simply because I’m female and “therefore I can’t possibly know anything”. This can be overt or implied – it still, well, gets me very angry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a guy insult my knowledge of computers, or Social Media, or personal technology, because as a “girl” I couldn’t possibly know anything about it. Same goes for my knowledge of film and the film industry. Or comics – the ones I know anyway (comics are a huge field of popular culture knowledge.)

This vid is just so perfect!

In terms of Star Wars itself – not only growing up with the movies, seeing them in the theater, waiting just waiting for the occasional theater revival and re-showing (I’m old enough to remember life before VCRs, much less before DVDs and DVRs). I was eight when I saw Star Wars or SW A New Hope as we now call it (I saw it under it’s original two-word title). I had to wait for SW: The Empire Strikes Back and SW: Return of the Jedi. After Jedi, I read dozens of the tie-in novels. I remember the hype around the new trilogy (Episodes 1 – 3) and being so disappointed. I haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet, but I am looking forward too it (finally got tickets – I’m seeing it on Boxing Day). But Abrams is the second director I’ve seen who justifies adding women to his movie, not by saying, “Well, the universe includes women, and obviously the Star Wars universe includes women, so of course, this movie includes women,” but by patronizingly saying that “well mothers and daughters won’t see it without a girl”. Um, first, so women can only be “mothers and daughters”? I guess women can’t be scientists, CEOs, writers, or anything else? Really?

Honestly – not a big fan of The Hunger Games, but I saw Mockingjay: Part II with my mother, and my Twitter comment was “Good film for mothers and daughters to see together”. Because it was – very much a bonding film. I won’t get into the issues with the plot, and the apparently non-canon ending here, but yeah – Go see it with your Mom.

Now, getting back to Abrams. First, one thing about Star Wars – the original trilogy (Episodes 4-6) was that Leia was a very strong character. Han was a great protagonist, much like Rick in Casablanca (a film I saw years later). The rest of the cast was terrific. I loved Mark Hamill in Star Wars New Hope as a kid – as an adult I prefer him in SW: Return of the Jedi, but I’ve seen him in other roles too, and he’s a terrific actor. And his Joker is fantastic. I think as a young girl, Leia was the character I identified with, Luke was the guy I wanted to be, and Han was the guy I wanted to date.

But the other important aspect of Abrams comment is that he completely ignores the women who created Star Wars fandom, just as they had created Star Trek fandom and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. fandom. Oh, and by the 1980s, at least in the US, there were plenty of women in Doctor Who fandom too. Abrams is sweeping a whole group of intelligent, talented women under the rug as if they never existed. Just like history often ignores the contributions of women. That just can’t stand, and Abrams needs to be taken to task for it.

Will I ignore the film because of one interview? Of course not. Will I follow the story? Maybe.

But I’m still looking forward to seeing Star Wars The Force Awakens.

Wayne’s World

  • Title:  Wayne’s World
  • Director:  Penelope Spheeris
  • Date:  1992
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Cast:  Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“I’ve had plenty of ‘joe jobs’ – nothing I’d call a career. Let me put it this way – I have an extensive collection of name tags and hair nets.” – Wayne Campbell

“Sometimes, I wish I could boldly go where no man’s gone before, but I’ll probably stay in Aurora.” – Garth

“Aren’t we lucky we were there to get all that information? Seemed extraneous at the time.” – Wayne

Wayne’s World  felt very much like a 1980s movie to me when I re-watched it, so I was surprised to see the copyright date as actually 1992. The story is about two best friends, Wayne and Garth, who live in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The two have a local public access TV show that they film in Wayne’s basement called, “Wayne’s World”, and the film was developed from the Wayne’s World sketches on Saturday Night Live. However, in the film, the clips of Wayne and Garth doing their Wayne’s World show are the least successful parts of the film (they are very dated, and often fall flat).

The strength of the film, the part that shines, and still works, is that it’s a buddy film. But whereas most “buddy films” are cop films – Wayne’s World is about these two guys, good friends, who are into heavy metal music, and not taking life too seriously. The film also continuously breaks the fourth wall, as usually Wayne, addresses the audience directly. Garth, normally the quieter and shyer of the two – also, occasionally, addresses the audience. The film even features the occasional subtitle that comments on the action, such as “Oscar Clip”. The constant breaking of the fourth wall gives the film a surreal quality and an avant-garde edge. But that doesn’t mean the film is overly serious. Quite the opposite – it’s very, very funny. It’s also filled with clips of great music, and a lot of singing (almost exclusively cover versions of popular music).

The basic storyline is that Wayne and Garth have this cable access show, Wayne’s World, that they put together every week, more-or-less as a hobby, though Wayne, at least, would like to do Wayne’s World as a career. One night, Benjamin Oliver, an unsavory ad exec is flipping channels and he sees the show. He thinks it’s the perfect vehicle for his biggest client, the owner of a chain of video arcades called Noah’s Arcade. He wants to move the show to a cable network, have Noah’s Arcade sponsor it, and use it as a vehicle for, essentially, half an hour’s worth of advertising for the arcade. Benjamin’s plot works in that he gets Wayne and Garth to agree to his contract, though when Wayne gets on set he blows up and refuses to do product placement (in a hilarious scene in which at least half a dozen different products are prominently placed and used). Benjamin meanwhile sows discontent between Wayne and Garth, and gets Wayne to think his girlfriend is cheating on him. But it all works out in the end (well, in the third alternate ending).

But the film’s point isn’t really the plot. The characters, Wayne and Garth, and their close friendship – a friendship that is threatened but recovers – is at the heart of the film. Also, the idea of personal happiness being more important than money or what others call success is a subtext of the film. Yet, at it’s heart the film is just very funny – and enjoyable to watch. Wayne and Garth’s personal optimism and infectiously happy outlooks make the film enjoyable to watch. The frequent music, covers, and sing-alongs add to the fun.

Overall, one of the oddest things about the film might just be the frequent anachronisms. The entire set-up, the “Wayne’s World” cable access show is something that barely exists now. However, a real-life Wayne and Garth these days could easily do their own show on youTube, or create a regular podcast. Wayne and his new girlfriend, Cassandra talk on landline phones that include a cord. Benjamin’s client owns coin-operated video arcades. The famous, and awesome, sing-along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” starts with Wayne putting a cassette tape into the car’s tape deck (though later Wayne, at least, upgrades to an external CD drive). The film doesn’t so much look dated as have moments of, “Oh, yeah, that’s how we used to do things.” Though, it’s Garth who mostly correctly describes how he will bounce the special “Wayne’s World” episode featuring Cassandra’s performance off several communications satellites (which Garth mentions by name/number) – today such dialogue would be simplified to “bounced off several satellites”) to Mr. Sharpe’s limo to get her a  record contract. Even the three endings reference older films, such as Clue. It felt at times, like a window into the past.

Overall, I found Wayne’s World to be enjoyable to re-watch, mostly because it was just so happy. Wayne and Garth’s attitude towards women notwithstanding (Garth continuously talks about women as “babes” but can’t get up the courage to talk to the pretty blonde he keeps spotting in their neighborhood.) It some ways the film was also like an updated American Graffiti in that it portrays a time and a place, though it’s less serious in content and tone. Still, it’s fun, just plain fun.

NOTE:  I normally don’t mention DVD menus, but this one with the cable access opening is funny. Also, there are a number of hidden features on the menu (which looks like a cable TV on-screen guide).

Recommendation:  See it
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  When Harry Met Sally…

Agile Update – Week 49

Last week I concentrated on professional development pretty much to the exclusion of all else. Consequently, the only post last week was my weekly Agile Update post. I also did manage to go to my Yoga class. However, I’ve been working on getting not simply caught-up but ahead in my professional development, namely studying for my A+ certification. Last week I read three chapters in the A+ text, took notes, and did the homework questions. Usually I only do two a week, so that puts me actually ahead of where I should be. I also attended my class on Tuesday and Thursday. We also have a new testing tool, called Transcender. I’ve used it before, though this seems to be a different version than the one I used. Anyway, I did four Transcender tests, and managed to figure out the problem with them not going to my instructor. I also took a test on Thursday in class and received a 92% which is a passing grade. Yeah.

Overall, it was a successful week, though I was mostly concentrated on getting ahead in my studies for my A+ certification. I still managed to write my weekly Agile post and I also managed to attend Yoga for the first time in two weeks! That’s a good result.

Agile Update – Week 48

I was thinking I did really well last week, and looking over everything that I accomplished – yes I very much did. I wrote three blog entries last week. The first post was actually a discussion of the “Women in STEM” panel at Chicago TARDIS, as a woman who’s interested in computers, technology, and geeky topics – further development and encouragement of girls to consider STEM fields and support of women entering or attempting to enter STEM fields is an interest of mine. On the one hand, I see encouraging items on a regular basis – from Google’s “Girls who Code” initiative to the hundreds of Twitter accounts focused on women in business, the Arts, and STEM. On the other, I still routinely see discouraging words from male gatekeepers who “don’t want girls” in their field (rarely is it put that strongly, but the sentiment is still widely there). I also wrote and posted my regular Agile update – so I had two posts on the same day, which is something I rarely do. Finally, I watched and posted reviews of a movie to my Blogger movie review blog as well as here on WordPress.

I also did some personal things such as starting my Christmas shopping on CyberMonday (The boxes arrived in the same week – Woo hoo!). And I talked to a self-publishing house about turning my year’s worth of Agile Update posts into a book. At this time, using a self-publishing house seems much too expensive. However, I’m just in the very early stages of getting my experiences with using Agile for personal and professional development onto paper. Literally. So watch this space.

In terms of exercise, I was able to go to my Gentle Yoga class last week! Woo hoo! First time in two weeks. The class was busy, and included new people. I enjoyed it very much. Also, good news, although the class ends on December 16 – it will pick-up again in January. It even looks to be the same time and day of the week. Woo hoo!

Class – and Professional Development

Lots happened – as I realized I was a week behind. Sigh. Apparently, my vacation week wasn’t a vacation. So I read and took notes on chapter 18 in the A+ book. I also did the chapter review homework pages. So, when I went to class I was able to turn in chapters 16 – 18, but not chapter 19 because I hadn’t finished it by the first class day (I go twice a week). However, the day after class I read and took notes on chapter 19, and did the chapter review exercises – plus turned it in during the second class of the week. So, I was on time for the week, just not the day. Also, last week I read and took notes on chapter 20 and 21 and did the homework chapter reviews. It’s done. So I can turn it in on time. We are now doing completely different types of tests – both an in-class test and an at-home transcender test (which is a type of testing software). Well, I did horribly on the new test in class. But I re-took it at home without distractions and did much better – a 96%. Yea!

Last week my Twitter account went to 400 followers. Yea! Another personal goal reached. My next goal is 425, though over the last few days my Twitter account has gone up and down a lot, though not by much. I’ve noticed that plus-or-minus five to ten followers on any given day or even time is the norm for Twitter. Part of it has to do with fake accounts (hint – if you check a new “follower” and the account description promises 1000s of followers for real money, and the feed is full of advertisements – you don’t want them as a follower anyway.) And I’m sure there are other reasons for the fluctuations as well – that are never personal, or something to worry about. I’m just excited to increase my following so fast!

Twitter_400_Followers

So last week was excellent. Not only did I get a lot done – but it wasn’t solely in a single area. This is important to me as I sometimes tend to over-focus in one area of my life at the expense of other things. I also found that for my professional development, as things get busier with holidays and other Things That Must Be Done – doing a small amount daily is just as good or better than spending all day on a single task (such as reading/taking notes/studying a homework chapter). I also feel there is nothing to beat myself up over – which is a good feeling.