Sleepy Hollow Review: Ichabod is Back!

17 Sep

Sleepy Hollow

Fox has been promoting the heck out of it’s new fall show Sleepy Hollow. I’m sure at one time or another you’ve seen a preview this summer. After being inundated with SLEEPY HOLLOW SLEEPY HOLLOW SLEEPY HOLLOW, I felt compelled to tune in last night and give it a spin.

Quite a large segment of the media consuming population is probably familiar with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in some shape or form. The pilot episode opens with a quick rehash of the legend with Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman.  And when I mean quick, I mean a whole two minutes. We quickly establish our “modern day” protagonist in Police Lieutenant/recently promoted Sheriff Abbie Mills.

Where things get interesting however is in the new elements that Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci weave into the show. Both of them have been responsible for some of my favorite viewing in the last few years — Fringe, Alias, Now You See Me. The Headless Horseman isn’t just some guy who got his head beheaded — he is the first of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Ichabod is the First Witness, with Abbie being the Second, and the two must work together to keep the Horseman from getting his head and then summoning the other three Horseman.

The acting felt stilted at times, but both leads had chemistry. Pilot episodes are sometimes filmed months ahead of the rest of the season so hopefully things will smooth out in the first few episodes. The one thing that really irked me was the police procedures. I definitely wouldn’t describe this show as a procedural. Abbie is almost laughable as a lieutenant. A person of interest who is being transferred for a psychiatric evaluation would never be allowed to ride shotgun. Even on the way to the car she does not have custody of Ichadbod’s person. Maybe they discussed that this was a way to show that she didn’t see Ichabod as a threat, but I found myself rolling my eyes. That being said, the Pilot kept me entertained enough that I will be sticking around for next week’s episode,  “Blood Moon.” TEN MILLION and counting have watched the pilot episode, so I think a few people would definitely have to agree with me.

 

Productivity versus Procrastination

11 Sep

I know a lot about procrastination. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. But I feel like I need to equivocate that statement by saying that I also know a lot about productivity.

Last week I spent a full day in a training seminar about change in the workplace, stress, and productivity. I learned a lot but I felt like I already knew a lot too. Productivity has always been a field that interested me, not just at an academic level but also at a personal level. I wholeheartedly embrace my Type-A personality and will admit I can go a bit overboard on the organization front. But at the same time I sometimes choose to ignore things when it would better suit my needs to be completing that task right away.

I find that meandering my way though different disciplines in university taught me some very diverse skills in the areas of procrastination and productivity. Once September hit I was a full-fledged productivity responsibility champion, but found that by the end of the semester my procrastination tendencies would start to seep back in. Here’s how I have learned how to deal with this double-sided coin:

1. Write It Down

Ever since junior high I have been meticulous about keeping a planner/agenda/to-do-list/what have you. I have since made the move from paper and pen to a hybrid between my iPhone and a Moleskine Weekly Planner. A lot of people might say that having both is a bit redundant but I am a visual learner. I find I remember a lot more of something when I am writing it down rather than typing it into a screen. By integrating both into my system I also end up not worrying about always having my planner physically with me. The Moleskine is more about long range planning, especially with its handy lined right side pages, whereas my iPhone is more about what I am specifically doing that day.

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2. Prioritize

This is one of my key things. I always rank my tasks in categories of what needs to get done when. Email my boss my weekly status report? DO ASAP. Make up the Halloween Potluck sign up sheet? That can wait until later in the month, if not October. I also always write down due dates, appointments, etc. as soon as I am made aware of them that way they can’t slip past me. The number one thing I get asked about regarding my prioritizing system is “What’s with all the markers?” I will confess. I am obsessed with color coding things. One day I came back to my desk to find that someone had rearranged my markers out of rainbow sequence. My reaction:

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3. You Can’t Get It All Done Today

In the last little while I have really learned to embrace this philosophy. If you tried to get every single thing done every single day, you’d have no time for relaxation or fun. So I choose two or three things that are top priority but can definitely be accomplished within the day’s timeframe. It allows me to get things done, but without the stress of “IT MUST BE DONE NOWWWWWWWWW.”

4. Know Yourself

And by that I mean, know what your bad habits are. My number one bad habit is that I just want to do nothing when I get home. If I sit down on the couch, it’s game over. So I try to do as much as I can as soon as I get home from work. Then by the time dinner is on a roll I’ve gotten most of what I wanted to get done and I can then re-assert my love of the PVR and catch up on some TV, read a book, or simply spend hours on Wikipedia looking up arcane subjects like panda reproduction (even with all our scientific advances we still don’t know how it works!), the nuances of Final Fantasy characters, and what exactly sarin gas can do to a human being.

 

There’s a lot more out there than what I’ve outline above. I’m a frequent visitor to lifehacker.com and hackcollege.com and hanging out on productivity boards on pinterest. Let me know if you’ve got some other methods that work for you!

Triple Bladed Sword

20 Jun

I’ve started contributing to a Science Fiction Fantasy blog entitled Triple Bladed Sword.

Triple Bladed Sword is run by the esteemed steampunk scholar Mike Perschon who is currently a professor of literature at my alma mater, Grant MacEwan University.

I encourage you to check out the diverse postings over there. My most recent contribution was on the first appearance of Tauriel in the upcoming film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

I’ll still be posting here but I’ll be using my nerd powers for good by contributing to such a dynamic blog as Triple Bladed Sword!

We Were Promised Jetpacks: The Summer Sci-Fi Blockbuster Scene

27 May

Lately I’ve been thinking about something that Douglas Coupland talks about in his novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture called “Now Denial.” Now Denial is “the only time worth living is in the past and that the only time that may be interesting again is the future.” Ever since I was a child I’ve been obsessed with sci-fi. I followed the Europa report closely. I lamented Pluto’s planetary downgrade. I took Astronomy in post-secondary even though it did not fit in with my Arts degree. Heck, I even follow the Mars Rover on Twitter and insisted we take a side trip to NASA when we were last in Florida.

The first herald of the summer sci-fi blockbuster season was the Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion. Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness have opened in the past few weeks to big numbers, and we are still waiting upon the releases of After Earth, Pacific Rim, Elysium, and Riddick.

But if you check out the box-office numbers, Fast and the Furious 6 is set to out-pace both Star Trek and Iron Man domestically and probably internationally.

Here’s a pseudo-list of what I want in the summer sci-fi scene:

Ask Hard Questions or Be A Fun Ride
A lot of the time the sci-fi genre gets a bad rap for being predominantly espacist in nature. To me, the hallmark of a sci-fi text (whether it’s made out of paper, celluloid, or e-ink) is that it asks hard questions. Questions like why are we here? Who made us? Are there other beings out there? Are we actually going to destroy our planet? Our humanity? The way in which sci-fi answers these questions varies. But at it’s core, I want sci-fi to do either of two things: ask the hard questions, or be a fun ride. Ten points to Gryffindor if the text manages to do both.

World-Building Sense-Making
For Pete’s sake, all I ask is that the world-building make sense. This is pretty self-explanatory, but crucial, at least to me. If the runaway success of Inception is any indicator, you don’t have to dumb a text down just to make it more accessible to audiences. If you have a convoluted plot-line, all it has to do is make sense, and they will come (I’m looking at you X-Men: Days of Future Past).

SFX
The special effects must be rip-your-face-off, blow-your-mind awesome. This is sci-fi we’re talking about. However, I could do without the recent trend of the overuse of lens flare *cough*J.J. Abrams*cough*.

Character Development, Character Development, Character Development
We need believeable characters. And not just WHITE characters. This is where and why the Fast and the Furious franchise is still popular after all of these years. It’s got the action, some would say no plot, but there are both female and male characters with diversity. The females aren’t just there for eyecandy, they are equals with the male characters, and are given their own characterization and backstory.

Star Trek had a good thing going with the alternate timeline. How would Kirk react without a father figure? How would Spock react with no home when Vulcans populate the original series? I haven’t seen the new Star Trek yet, but I can guess where the plot line is going. We need new and diverse characters (protagonists AND antagonists) or else the genre will end up like many others — stale, outdated, and with severely lowered box office numbers.

Modern Friendship and The Cult of Accessibility

16 May

Are We Still On For Lunch?

Are We Still On For Lunch?

Dear readers, colleagues, coworkers, friends, and family,

I know we’ve all done it — you’ve received a text, an email, a facebook wall post or message — and you’ve ignored it for whatever reason. You’re in the middle of a movie, or out for dinner, or in the middle of a big project at work.

In the age of social media, we’ve basically thrown privacy out the window. Everyone is a little bit too accessible. There are always new invitations or notifications pending: Facebook, Twitter, G+, Instagram, Vine, the list goes on and on as we add and join more social media.

So sometimes I let my notifications pile up and then I clear them off the screen. I don’t even take a peek. Sometimes I’ll even go as far as to turn on the wonderful “Do Not Disturb” function on my iPhone (It really is a great function — if anyone calls more than twice, the call goes through as it may be an emergency).

But then minutes or hours later when I do have some time to go through them, I make sure I get back to anyone who took the time to reach out to me. So here’s where I get to the crux of my post for today: If everyone is making such a big deal about how accessible they are, why do so many people have trouble taking the time to reach back?

I don’t know how many times when I have texted a friend or even *gasp* called them, and I have received no response. It’s frustrating. It sends me into a spiral of anxiety. And I know that like me, you could be in a movie, at work, spending time with your kids, or doing any other number of countless things. But when 24, 36, 72 hours go by and I haven’t heard back from you? Then it’s time to send a follow-up call, email, text, or what-have-you.

I’m sure this has happened to you all as well. After the follow-up contact, you get the “I’m so sorry! I’ve just been sooooo busy!” Cue the eye roll here.

Because we have all made ourselves so accessible with social media, we all should be able to step up and accept accountability for being so accessible. It’s like how McDonald’s advertises that they are now open 24 hours; you would not be a happy camper if you made your way down to the local Mickey D’s and found them to be anything but open 24 hours.

I for one am making the change starting today. I’m taking the leap and turning on my read receipts on my iPhone — a leap which some of my colleagues and friends have already made, whether they started out with BBM or any of the earlier incarnations. When the read receipts were first introduced I found myself questioning a friend as to why they had chosen to opt in to the receipts. She explained it in the following way:

If someone took the time out of their day to text me a “what’s up?” or “I miss you,” I want them to know that their time matters. I want them to know that I got their text and that it matters. If I don’t reply, I feel like I’m telling them that my time matters more than theirs. It doesn’t.

In the age of social media, where you have all of your “friends” in one handy little list, you can easily lose touch with those friends. You figure “I can chat with them at any time, we’re friends on Facebook!” This has been said many times elsewhere, but this is where social media is hurting us. It is in the day to day personal interactions amoung friends, family, coworkers, colleagues, and even strangers.

So if someone reaches out to you today or tomorrow or two years from now. Be accountable. Sometimes all they’ve been wanting to hear is an “I missed you too.”

In Defense Of The Things I Like and How That Translates Into The Classroom

22 Apr

I just spent the last few days reading Tess of the D’Ubervilles. I was asked why. Then I moved on to Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy Series. I was asked why. I read Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. Asked why. Was reading the Wikipedia entry for The Uncanny Effect. I was asked why.

My questions to my enquisitors — “Why do you want to know why?”

I receive blank stares. Their response, “Is it for school-related research? Is it for a new job? Did someone ask you to research this?” Depending what they are asking me the answer can range from yes — reading many YA novels will hopefully help me out when I get a position as a high school English teacher — to no — I’m just curious. What astonishes me is the response I get back from people. They are absolutely astonished that I would “waste” my time on some of these things.

I currently hold a position at the Royal Alberta Museum staffing the admissions desk. A major part of my job is answering questions regarding past, current, and future exhibits. This past weekend I answered a visitor’s question about the current exhibit. I fired off some facts and had my coworker turn to me in surprise, “How did you know all of that?” 

I actually went into the exhibit and read about it.

It boggles my mind that people aren’t more curious about things. I’m inquisitive by nature, I used to (still do!) drive my parents insane with the amount of questions I ask. I will spend three hours researching a topic that I came upon tangentially on the internet. I will go to the bookstore and purchase books at random from the non-fiction section because their subject matter caught my eye. I have read the majority of J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium including the many volumes of the History of Middle Earth and The Silmarillion. I have read some of the correspondence between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway during their heydey.

Why? Because I can. Because it interests me. I’ve had more than a few people suggest that I may have A.D.D. And maybe I do (which would explain a lot).

But whether I enjoy the occassional Miley Cyrus song, the bombardment of twitter, LOLCats, gifs, the Wikipedia random button, viral youtube videos, and television shows broadcast by a certain network *cough* The CW *cough.* Or if I like to play jazz, read research articals out for peer review, peruse the New York Times, or only watch the news, does it really matter? I enjoy all of those things. Among many, many other things.

So when I am in a classroom and I hear a student or teacher tell someone why they shouldn’t be interested in what interests them, it really bothers me. You are taking a golden opportunity to interact with the student or with your class on a base level and wasting it. Everyone likes to talk about what interests them. So to create a dialogue with students, friends, coworkers, anybody — I always try to ask them about their interests. It gets them talking, and engaging, and interacting with one another, which often doesn’t happen if you just stand up at the front of the classroom and lecture at them.

Technorage and How To Avoid It In The Classroom

14 Feb

RAGEPRINTHi, my name is Brittney and I have technorage.
We’ve all experienced it. You have a presentation planned and the peripherals aren’t working. You go to update your iWhatever and it won’t sync. You try to roll down your automatic window in your car and it won’t budge.

And you feel angry towards the technology you are attempting to use, the very technology that is supposed to make your life easier, not harder. I’ve even gone so far as to anthropomorphize the machinery that is the source of my ire, speaking to the printer at work, “Why don’t you like this flavor of paper?!” or yelling at Siri when she sends me in the wrong direction — except most of the time she talks back.

In a few days I am leaving on a one week vacation for a good friend’s wedding. I am one of those plan ahead types. So I have been compiling lists of the music and ebooks I want to download to take with me. I spent two hours last night trying to update my iPhone. It wouldn’t sync any of the songs I had recently downloaded. It wouldn’t even transfer the songs I downloaded from iTunes to my iPod Nano. It kept giving me an error message that the iPhone/iPod couldn’t support the format the song was in. Everything is in MP3. So I double check the formats. Yep, MP3’s, every last one. So I head to Google. Apparently it’s a common problem. All you have to do is select the problematic songs and creats an AAC version. BUT STILL. Syncing should be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezey.

So I rant and rage and then when I find the solution I feel silly for such behaviour. In the comfort of my own home it is one thing to display such behaviour, but when you are in front of a class of impressionable students, a different course of action should be taken. So this is where the first obvious rule of technology should come in. Test the technology out first on your own before using it in front of the class. You should be making sure that you are familiar enough with the technology behind the curtain so as not to have a fit of technorage in front of your students.

And then she taught!

A journey through the nooks and crannies of Secondary Education with a lady who sometimes misplaces her maps.

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KATERINA ANDREA

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