Chooch Firsts TV

Review of Doctor Who: The End of Time

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m going through and watching the new Doctor Who series, starting with the Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston). Through a series of fits and starts, I was finally able to watch the two-part Season 4/David Tennant finale. It was utterly compelling, although I felt some bits were over-wrought. Even still, Tennant’s ease in the role made it utterly enjoyable.

I feel that the story with the initial focus was a bit more convuluted then it needed to be, even for a finale. First he’s facing The Master, then a sidestory with the “We’re Not Cactus” salvagers, and a business magnate that wanted his daughter to be immortal each throw wrenches into the storyline, and finally the long-dead Time Lords are fighting to come back into existence smack dab on top of Earth by twisting reality when The Master was eight years old. At least I think he was eight, feel free to correct me on this point. Oh, and now we know how the Weeping Angels were created.

After we get past the big climax against the Time Lords and The Master, The Doctor is celebrating his unexpected survival because the prophecy that has haunted The Doctor the entire episode, “He will knock four times and then you will die,” appears to have been wrong. Suddenly, you hear a quiet *tap*tap*tap*tap*. David Tennant freezes, then beautifully conveys the painful and chilling realization that Wilfred is knocking four times on a glass door. He instantly knows that to save Wilfred’s life he must sacrifice his own, which he does as he can not leave the loyal, courageous and humble man to his death. Mind you, he had a surprisingly human rant, but then he saves Wilfred.

Through an extensive chain of events that The Doctor goes through as his “reward” before dying, he visits the companions and other travelers he’s had since the series re-started. To me, it seems that his reward is taking actions that he normally wouldn’t have to extend or better the lives of those he loves. Martha and Mickey, Rose and her Mum, Captain Jack, and Sarah Jane and her son are all visited and have their futures altered by The Doctor. One of my two favorite encounters was his delivering a lottery ticket to Donna on her wedding day, which was purchased with money he went back in time and borrowed from her own father. (Hello, goose bumps!) My other favorite was when he visited a descendant of Joan, his love interest from my favorite episode, (two-parter) “Human Nature” / “The Family of Blood.” (Forget goose bumps. Hello, tears!)

Was it overlong? Possibly. I harumphed to my husband, saying, “What the what? Eccleston didn’t get this kind of fan fare!” My husband agreed while informing me that not only was it Tennant’s farewell, but it was also Russell T. Davies’ saying farewell to The Doctor. As a well-loved writer for the series, and a major force in the series coming back in the first place, it was closure for all the stories that had been left unfinished. I also remembered that Eccleston only did one season, while Tennant did four seasons. With that in mind it makes sense, until you remember that when he dies he will regenerate. His body will change, but he comes back. I happily forgive this, since I didn’t have to see the Daleks or Cybermen again.

Since finishing Season 4, I’ve also watched:

Doctor Who: The Infinite Quest (2007) – Animated and well done, although I really and truly missed the depth of the human actors. The animators did a great job, but are limited as to what they could convey and it wasn’t nearly as enticing as what The Doctor was able to share with just a lift of his eyebrow and twinkle in his dreamy eyes. (What? He’s sexy!)

It was fantastic to see what they were able to do without the limits of the physical world, and I feel they fully explored the possibilities. The story itself was good, although not mind-bending, and one of my favorite elements was during the opening title sequence, where the now animated TARDIS is bouncing along the time vortex in place of the “real” TARDIS as we’re used to in all the other opening sequences. (Hat tip to Chooch for noticing it.)

My favorite part was in the DVD extras – a behind-the-scenes look at the audio recordings used for the episode. A heap of fun that I highly recommend you take the time to watch.

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor (2008) – A mostly fun and light-hearted story that ends, as is typical, with a touching story. And Cybermen, natch. I’m such a sucker for stories involving kids.

And the TARDIS (Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style), as opposed to the TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space) we know and love? Simply brilliant.

Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars (2009) – Another beautifully enacted story showing The Doctor’s eternal struggle with what he should do (based on the laws of time) and what his conscience screams at him to do. This time, he mixes things up with a heart breaking, yet oddly uplifting ending. Cheers for Captain Brooks calling shenanigans on “The Time Lord Victorious.”

I’ve got Season 5, Disk 1 at the ready for immediate consumption, but I think I’ll let this soak in before I watch it.

5k 5k Exercise Health No Whining Weight Loss

Cipro Concerns for Runners

In December, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and was prescribed the antibiotic Cipro in order to knock it out. I didn’t find out until later that it is a medication that has some cause for concern for folks that enjoy high impact activities, such as running. There is evidence that tendon damage can occur after taking it, which caused me great concern as a runner. In fact, in 2008 the FDA told “companies that the drugs must now carry “black box” warnings alerting doctors and patients that the drugs can increase risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture in some patients.” Black box warnings are the sternest warning issued by the FDA, and it covered the entire class of fluoroquinolones (cipro included).

Digging in and researching, there are the typical conflicting reports. Running forums detail every degree of injury and nearly all suggested waiting out activities until anywhere from 2 weeks to six months after cessation of the medication. The greatest concerns were for those that were on the six week treatment duration. My treatment was only ten days, but I was still very concerned about rushing back into running after having not run for a month at that point.

I decided to give myself a month before hitting the pavement again, just to ensure that I don’t add to my list of injuries and health problems. I’m paying for it now, as the total of two months break from running has me huffing and puffing on short distances. Still, I am confident that I did the right thing, and am being cautious and gentle as I ramp up to longer distances. I’m not concerned about my performance having decreased, with what I learned that I’m capable of last year.

There is a lot of information out there, so if you are prescribed the medication you should do your own research to see the newest information and to make the best informed decision you can. I just wanted to let you know of the concern in case, like me, you weren’t told when it was prescribed to have the option of requesting another antibiotic. Corticosteroids may provide protection, but I’m not interested in taking steroids because of other issues that may arise from them.

I have big goals for 2011, and I think being cautious while pushing myself to reach them is the best way for me to proceed.

Happy trails!

Friends No Whining Too Long For Twitter Twitter/Facebook

Are Lengthy Twitter Debates Costing You Followers?

Let me start by saying that people should say anything they want in Twitter. It’s an open forum, so let your freak flag fly! I’m just hoping to enlighten those that may not be aware of the negative impact that long debates on politics, religion, ninjas vs. pirates vs. zombies, paper vs. plastic, or any other debates that are held in Twitter can have on your Followers. If you’re here for social interaction like me, you may not care. If you’re here pushing a product, project or other agenda, you may want to pay a little attention.

Yes, they may Unfollow because they disagree with your opinion. To this, I say “Meh.” People frequently disagree on topics, and you shouldn’t change your stance to please others nor should you say things you don’t believe. If they are that offended, you likely have so little in common that it’s no big loss.

More importantly, you are filling their Twitter stream with something they may deem either uninteresting or too controversial for them to want to join in. And at some point, you may begin lecturing or shouting down as others join in your debate. Let’s face it, debating a controversial viewpoint is exciting, isn’t it? It likely leads to more debate, too, filling your Followers’ stream even more with flotsam and jetsam (in their eyes). And more. And more. And more. And more. And more. And more. And more. And more. (Tedious, isn’t this?) And more. And more. And more. (Get the point?) And more. And more. And more. And more.

I believe that Twitter is a fine place to have conversation and have now been doing it for almost four years. (Yes, I’m a late-comer.) But as I recently posted in my own Twitter stream, I do feel very strongly that some discussions are far bigger than Twitter accommodates. Truncating your specific opinion down to 140 characters frequently leads to unintended interpretation, inflaming discussion and causing even MORE tweets to further explain your point. Add to that tweet count the people you are debating and it gets a unwieldy pretty quickly.

Allow me to give you two alternative options:

  • Why not state your opinion in a blog post and link it to your Twitter stream with a brief statement of your stance. People will then flock to your site to debate or agree with you in the comments. And who doesn’t love that? You and your fellow debaters will have more space to clearly state their points, and an understandable discussion can take place. Plus, your site stats will go up. Win-Win!
  • If you have a really hot debate going, why not take it to email or Google wave (Wave’s still around, right?)?

Either step will go far in maintaining good will with your followers, in my humble opinion. My finger gets mighty twitchy over the Unfollow button, and this is one of the main reasons.

Don’t have a blog? Create one! It’s easy as pie to do, and who doesn’t like pie? And you clearly have a lot to say, so why not create your own place to say it. Besides, these debates are lost in the Twitter timeline almost immediately. Create your own blog and you have it forever. And it’s pretty damned interesting looking over your blog a year later to see what you’ve written.

Now, this next suggestion may incite a few folks, but this is my space and my opinion and it’s not one that I alone hold. (Especially those of us that do not enjoy passionate political or religious debates in public venues.)

Realize that, for nearly every person you will ever meet, most views are held so personally that a Twitter or Facebook debate won’t change anyone’s opinion. Especially something like the recent Arizona shootings which sparked passionate debates with primarily political facets. You may be right, eloquent and impossible to disprove, and you still won’t change most people’s opinions.

Like most Twitter users, there are people that I Follow that are real world friends or acquaintances and there are people that I Follow that I’ve never met. In the case of the latter, it’s entirely likely that I’ll Unfollow them if they repeatedly debate and fill my Twitter stream to the point that I struggle to keep up with actual friends’ lives. And in the case of the former, I have (on very rare occasion) Unfollowed. It takes a lot for me to Unfollow an actual friend, but I have done it. After all, people can be very different in Twitter than they are in real life and it shouldn’t destroy friendship if you aren’t compatible in one or the other. At least in my humble opinion.

More often, I remove them from my Tweetdeck column so I can skip their debate until it’s over. Sometimes I remember to add them back, sometimes I don’t. A lot of folks very quietly use this sort of filtering in Twitter and in Facebook, as it’s less contentious than outright Unfollowing or Unfriending someone.

For those passionate debaters, you may not care if you are filtered out or Unfollowed, and I say more power to you! I just thought you should know the possible reason if your Follower count is lower after a lengthy and contentious debate.

Flame on!

Breast Cancer Family Mom No Whining Soulful

Five Years in the Blink of an Eye

My beloved mother passed away five years ago today. She spent the last two and a half years fighting for her life against breast cancer and her body was destroyed in the process. It was an ugly battle, but at least she was given a peaceful end. There was no pain or fear as she was carried away while she slept with her son watching over her. It was supposed to be my night with her, but he really wanted to stay that night. I’m morbidly jealous not to have been with her at the very end, but also grateful to have gotten caught up on sleep. It was a wrenching and traumatizing day as I tried to comfort the kids and family, helped finalize her pre-planned funeral arrangements, cleared out her room and contacted family members. Praise Baby Jesus for Chooch, is how I can best sum it up the months before and after her passing.

Today I honor the memory of her life, but to be honest it’s easier to do on her birthday. I frequently get flashes of the ugly stuff, but not as frequent as it used to be. I’ve forgotten some of the finer details, which I’m grateful for and don’t explore. Some things are better off forgotten, after all, especially since I was her primary caretaker for the last five months of her life. Ugly stuff that can’t be unseen, but is finally starting to fade.

It’s hard watching someone you love so much waste away slowly. The only good thing about having as much time as we did with it looming was that there was no “unfinished business” left behind to haunt us. She adored and was adored. Friends, family, co-workers and neighbors all came together for her and she knew it. There is only peace and love surrounding her memory, and for that I’m grateful as she certainly deserves such an honor.

Much in the same way I took back my anniversary in November, I’m taking back today as well. I will not “grieve” in the traditional sense. Five years is long enough for that, as I know she would tell me. Instead, I’m taking this as a Day of Power. I’m challenging myself to do something that I’ve been afraid of doing, for my own personal reasons. It will take bravery and confidence, two things I traditionally lack but I’m trying hard not to let that stop me. And as I look back at how much my life has changed since she started looking over me in a different way, I know she’s proud of me. Proud of the bravery I’ve demonstrated, the positive changes I’ve made, and the woman I was and am evolving into.

I take my inspiration from this photo of my mother from the day of her high school graduation. I never saw this photo while she was alive to ask about it, but to me she’s embracing her future as a woman of power. She certainly did her best to raise me as one. I’m slower to it than she was, but I’m getting there.

Love you forever, Pocket Mom.

Convention Attendance Cool Links / Clicky Linky Firsts TV

Fave Doctor Who Episode (Eccleston -> Tennant)

It was partly geek shaming that motivated me to finally start watching Doctor Who. You know what I mean, the taunting and teasing that occurs when one is uncovered as not having knowledge of a particular corner of The Complete Geek Experience. For most things, I could care less of such judgment and am amused at the presumption that I MUST partake AND worship it in order to attain or maintain “Geek Cred.” Again, I could care less of my Geek Cred ranking/rating. I’m like Cartman. I do what I want.

I started watching the newer incarnations about 3 months ago. The final determining factor was being told not to bother starting further back than when Christopher Eccleston took over the role. I love him, so went ahead and dove in. Surprisingly, at least to me, my favorite episode does not include him.

“Blink” aka the Weeping Angels episode is the one I keep hearing about as the BEST EPISODE EVAR!!!! And I’ll grant you, that is one finely crafted, shiny-whiny episode. It is, quite literally, haunting and goose-bump-raising moments are scattered throughout. In spite of that, the light presence of the Doctor himself in the episode, with his brooding and burdensome role in the Universe, keeps it from being too heavy and dark. For being so spooky, it’s down right charming. And it’s clearly an episode that has resonated with fans, as I’ve already seen Weeping Angels costumers at conventions with their beautifully executed creations.

Weeping Angels
Weeping Angles seen at Farpoint Convention, Feb 2010

Still, it is not my favorite episode, which I was able to easily compare since it was immediately after what I have deemed my favorite episode.

“Family of Blood” is episode 9 of season 3, and is the second of a 2 parter. The first part, “Human Nature” sets it up beautifully and I was immediately pulled into the story. The characters are compelling and the acting superb. Without going too deep into spoiler country, you get a peek at another of the many burdens carried when you are the last known Timelord. It is absolutely wrenching to watch as David Tennant, Tenth Doctor, masterfully demonstrates the pain of having to choose between the life and love he wants and the life he’s destined for. It’s something I would have expected earlier in the series, at least the newer ones that I’ve watched. Maybe it was covered with one or more of the previous 8 Doctors? I don’t intend to go back and watch those, so if you know then please share in the comments below.

I won’t go into greater detail, but I urge you to give the series a try. It’s pretty family friendly, fairly campy and the aliens appear almost harmless and silly looking. (Except for the Racnoss. I didn’t like that spidery thing, no sir, not one bit.) It’s crucial that you start with Eccleston if you want to understand how Rose Tyler and others tie in during later seasons. If you do decide to skip his Doctor, you won’t be completely lost but you will lose some fantastic details and inside jokes.

The writer of both “Human Nature” and “Family of Blood” was Paul Cornell, and the only other episode I see attributed to him is “Father’s Day” during the first Eccleston season (as the Ninth Doctor).  This was also a great episode, so I’m not tremendously surprised. I found it to also be a great pull on the heart strings as Rose has to go back and witness a very painful experience in her life and decide whether or not to change it. I’d love to see more written by him, although it doesn’t appear that he will anytime soon. He has written several Doctor Who novels and comics, as well a few episodes of Robin Hood (2006) among many other things.

There are also a few Doctor Who specials. There seems to always be a Christmas special, and 2010’s was fantastic. Michael Gambon added to it as only he can. I also just watched “Waters of Mars” and all I can say is that I’m glad I’m not a Timelord. Heartbreaking life.

Of tremendous interest to (now fellow) Doctor Who fans is that Neil Gaiman has written what is currently scheduled to be the third episode of the upcoming sixth season.

Although I started watching them months ago with Chooch, I finally mainlined them by myself in the last 2 or so weeks. I finished Seasons 1 through 4 via Netflix streaming, Season 5 I’ll have to get via Netflix by mail. And while I’ve seen several episodes featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, I’ll still watch the entire season in order since I wasn’t really paying attention to detail. I plan on being up to date when the sixth season starts.

So, why don’t you tell me in the comments –  Who’s your favorite Doctor Who? And which is your favorite episode from Seasons 1 through 4?

AFI's Top 100 Movies Movies

A Review of “Sunrise” (AFI Top 100 #82)

This movie was released in 1927, and while it is easily the oldest movie I’ve ever seen it’s not the oldest movie on the AFI Top 100 Movies list. Since it’s almost 84 years old, I’ll not worry about spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

The description is precisely accurate, “A married farmer falls under the spell of a slatternly woman from the city, who tries to convince him to drown his wife.” Yup, that’s what happens. Slatternly is my new favorite word by the way, so consider yourself warned.

Along with womanly wiles, as hubby accused her of using against the simple Farmer, the City Woman briefly performs a bizarre and herky-jerky dance that had her “girls” flying around. This is apparently what finally convince him to go along with her plan for him to murder his wife, sell the farm and move to “the City” with her. Clearly, the Farmer is imbalanced as he attacks the City Woman when she suggests the murder, then later moves to kill his wife, then acts threateningly to a man in the barbershop, then attempts to choke the City Woman to death. The only time he does not stop himself is the last time, when he only stops because he is interrupted with the news that his wife survived a near-drowning during a storm. Can you say irony?

The actors in this silent film do a wonderful job of expressing their emotions and inner struggles, and the director does an equally spectacular job showing us what is going on beyond the action. For instance, the ghost images of the City Woman as the Farmer is trying to decide whether or not to kill his wife beautifully convey both his imbalance and inner conflict.

Yes, some of the more emotional scenes are over-acted, but that is to be expected in a silent film much the same as theater actors must exaggerate their movements more than film actors to convey the scene because of the distance from the action to the audience.

We watched Side A, which was the “Movietone Release.” Side B was the “European Silent Version.” We compared the two briefly, and the only two differences appear to be that the text cards are in English or German (?) and the European version has music and effects over the opening credits while the Movietone version does not.

What I learned from this movie? A plate of bread does not heal all pain. At least, not in this movie. Had it been made after the low-carb/no-carb diet craze, the Farmer may have won his wife back even earlier.

1929 Academy Awards®
  • Best Actress: Janet Gaynor (Farmers Wife)
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Art Direction nominee

The next movie is Spartacus, which is another movie I’ve been avoiding.

No Whining Soulful Uncategorized

Motivation and Gratitude

I’ve been channeling my energies in a different way in the last four or so years. It’s a trend I intend to continue as it has worked out well for me and those in my life. I thought I’d share my process, as I’ve been putting a lot of thought into how I can prioritize future endeavors. The plotting we’ve been doing has resulted in a lengthy list, far too much than can actually be done.

I used to try and take on all things that were expected of me, to varying degrees of success. I was routinely overwhelmed and the stress impacted daily life enjoyment for myself and to the loved ones in my presence. Anxious, over-extended and exhausted I had to make a change as I found that I was growing resentful and found little to no enjoyment in my accomplishments. Part of the need to take so much on was due to insecurity and a need to find approval from those that I was jumping through hoops for, part of it was in trying to fill the void left by my Mother’s far-too-early departure, and there are other parts that I haven’t even tried to examine. The end result is that changes were made, and while there is tremendous guilt, there is also less stress and more enjoyment in my accomplishments and life in general.

Besides putting my energy into where I see the greatest critical need, I also focus on the gratitude returned to me. Yes, it’s selfish, but this blog is a place where I strive for honesty, so why dress it as something it’s not? No one likes being taken for granted, and it happens far too often in our society. When we get a need met, we tend to assign that person to the task eternally, whether or not the person wants that eternal role.

Let’s be clear – I’m not talking tit for tat. That is typically obligatory reciprocation. I’m talking about the satisfaction and pleasure I get from any acknowledgment of effort immediately makes the effort and expense worthwhile, whether a loud squee, sincere and heartfelt “Thanks” or a quiet “You rock.”

For example, I was told during an employee performance appraisal that I received top marks and if he had the budget available I would have received a large cash award. Obviously, the money would have been lovely, but the verbal and documented kudos lifted my spirits and I happily continued to bust my ass.

As another example, in my goofball way I went slightly overboard at a get-together and felt a little silly for it. I felt tremendous pleasure when a young attendee told me, “This is a fun celebration!” The sparkle in his eyes and the way he said it made it clear that it was a spontaneous and genuine statement. Forget the “Thanks,” those five simple words had me floating amongst the stars!

As an aside, I certainly hope that I spread around sincere thanks to those that are important in my life. I’d hate to think that I withhold that from the great many people that make my life so rich, since I get so much joy from hearing. I do intend to try harder to ensure that I vocalize gratitude as well as making sure I express to those that I value just how much they mean to me. It only takes a moment, after all, and doesn’t cost a thing.