Archive for the ‘lessons-learned’ Category

After abandoning broadcast television in favor of re-watching DVDs of beloved shows from the past, spoilers became a non-issue for many years.

When I began to want variety and branched out to DVDs of series I hadn’t seen, I found myself in uncharted territory. My previous experience following a new show on the Internet involved waiting after each airing for some industrious fan to write and post recaps, reviews, etc. Now, extensive episode guides are already available online… and I need them more than ever, because I usually watch with my family, and we tend to miss critical exposition because one of us is talking.

The big disadvantage — as you may have guessed from the theme of this entry — is spoilers. Of course, I know to avoid common sources, such as summaries and commentary for episodes I haven’t seen. But I’ve found spoilers lurking where I never suspected, to the extent that viewing an entire series unspoiled is proving to be quite a challenge.

If you, too, are discovering a show after its original run, be aware that spoilers can pop up in seemingly innocuous places:

  • Fanfiction. When I’m concerned about spoilage, I diligently avoid fanfiction for the topic in question. Fanfic writers are often inspired by key events, and synopses of the fics can be very revealing: “This scene takes place after Jojo’s death at the hands of Zulu.”
  • Fan videos. The montage could contain pivotal scenes, such as the main guy character proposing to the main girl character.
  • Facebook. A double threat, not only from friends’ comments, but also since Facebook might recognize the series as one of my interests and supply commercials for the current season — even though I’m several seasons behind.
  • Overambitious “wiki” episode recaps. In an effort to be thorough, they cross reference to future events: “We see Susie again in season four when we learn she has a long-lost sister.” Even their link designations can share too much. For example, I knew a character’s amnesia wouldn’t last long when my options included, “For the character briefly known as Jezebel, click here.”
  • Google image search. I was looking for a screencap of a fight between three characters, and displayed among the search results was a fan-made graphic of one of them, captioned with “R.I.P.” and the year.
  • Actor biographies. The dossier could reveal the character’s exit or return by providing appearances by year, season, or specific episodes.
  • Articles about the stars. A photo of a smiling couple is captioned “Sylvia out on the town with her TV husband.” But — d’oh! — their characters’ marriage is a very recent development. Hope all of that website’s viewers are caught up on their TiVo!
  • The main page of major news websites. If I watched Game of Thrones, it would be maddening that so many “news headlines” rehash the happenings of the latest episode. (No doubt those sites aim to up their link count using GoT‘s popularity.) Even if they warn of plot talk, very often there’s a telling screencap with the headline.
  • Amazon product reviews. I was about to place an order, and the featured review began with, “This was my least favorite of all the seasons.” Maybe that’s not a true spoiler, but such a verdict might predispose me to dislike it before even I’ve seen the first episode.
  • DVD covers for later seasons. When a would-be cliffhanger has a main character in jeopardy, I’m anything but on edge: “No worries. They’re still pictured with the cast for the final season.” (Okay, I confess. I actually like this bit of foreknowledge. My life’s hard enough without having to fear for the safety of my fave characters!)
  • Episode descriptions on DVD packages. Having written similar summaries myself, I understand how tough it can be to strike a balance between providing details for those who are looking for a specific scene, and ruining key surprises for the rest of us. As a public service to DVD Blurb Writers, here are two examples that, IMHO, land solidly in the latter category:
    (1) “After a failed battle with Xolor…” If the opening scene is a battle, we know how that will end. :thumbsdown:
    (2) “The team falls victim to a smooth-talking con man, and Sam must save the day.” … manages to give away the entire episode in one sentence! :thumbsdown: :thumbsdown:
  • Forums about other shows. Curious to know what fans of Program A had to say, I ventured to read one short thread, and I spent the next several seasons dreading the series finale of Program B because of one of the comments. Happily, in said finale, the plot twist that commenter condemned played out extremely well, in my opinion. Even more happily, I learned that exposure to TMI doesn’t necessarily negate any future enjoyment… although I’d still prefer not to take any chances.

With my eyes now opened to the plight of the “spoiler-phobic,” I realize that I need to post warnings with the episode information at my various websites. In the meantime, remember that, when it comes to having your viewing surprises spoiled, the only safe search is NO search!

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a year in review – 2012

Posted: December 30, 2012 in lessons-learned, review

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Visited Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, received a security deposit back from an apartment, added cinnamon while brewing a pot of coffee, ate at Cheddar’s and Zaxby’s, saw a film 4 times in the theatre (3 at non-dollar shows), saw a film at the theatre while I had the DVD of it at home, walked laps on a rubber(?)-coated track, attended an outdoor wedding, changed the flapper on a toilet, and fed kittens who lost their momma. 😦
Health firsts: was diagnosed with mild Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, took a fake (“PE”) sudafed, got an EKG, had an IV, took Tums, then took Tums regularly, and had a strange “aura” headache in which my right eye was filled with light for about 15 minutes.
Food firsts: made – from scratch! – vegetable soup, chicken salad, chicken broth, and salmon loaf.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2012, I planned to work at not being so sensitive and to try to stay positive while looking for a new job. I’d say that overall, I succeeded at both.
For 2013, I want to make more nutritious food choices and walk more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No – thankfully!

5. Where did you travel?
I took an overnight trip to the east side of Mississippi.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2013, that would be awesome. (It seems like I write that every year, and the lack of progress on it is starting to get depressing…)

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 21st, because of all the hype and hysteria

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I started early moving things out of my apartment, which gave me ample time to work them in to the stuff already at mom’s, in a reasonably organized way.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Twice I did nothing when I should’ve done something, and I will regret both for a very long time.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Both! The mystery ailment that started last year continued, though it finally showed signs of improving. Plus, in March I had the worst broken nail I’ve ever had; no details, but it was bad.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I found one shirt that I really like, and it was on clearance. Woo hoo!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The people who hired me and my sister!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The so-called medical professionals who repeatedly failed to diagnose both me and my mother

14. Where did most of your money go?
A new roof, with medical bills second

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Avengers movie

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Maybe Train’s “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” because one of my first real-person crushes in a long time ended badly.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? Content
Older or wiser? Wiser
Thinner or fatter? Thinner. I changed my diet because of my “mystery ailment,” and I’m down to the smallest weight of my adult life.
Richer or poorer? Poorer, because I was unemployed for half of the year

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Avoid fatty food and sweets, because my “mystery ailment” seems to calm down when I do

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Been affected by others’ rampant negativity

20. Did your heart break?
Nearly every time I watched the news 😦

21. How did you spend Christmas?
First, Mom and I watched our 2010 Christmas videotape while I recorded it to DVD. Then I set up our two video cameras – one old, one new, both really cheap – to capture the opening of the presents. Alas, the new cameras batteries died after 10 minutes, and the old camera was being temperamental, doing that thing it does where it records video with no sound. Anyway, we had a delicious lunch that included Yum Yum Muffins made with a banana supreme cake mix. I computered a bit and visited some blogs that I hadn’t been to in a long while. In the evening, we watched the cheesy classic Babes in Toyland, the 1986 version.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I have to work, but it’ll be pretty slow because nearly everyone else is taking vacation. Later at home, the fam and I will probably watch some DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Thanks to hulu and DVDs, I enjoyed getting reacquainted with Gilligan’s Island, Hunter, Designing Women, My Two Dads and The Greatest American Hero.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Vegetable tacos from a local Mexican restaurant. Fish tacos at Ruby Tuesday. Aloo Mutter from the Indian restaurant. Chocolate cheesecake with chocolate cookie crust from a certain grocery store.

25. What was the best book you read?
“Be Anxious For Nothing” by Joyce Meyer. I can’t say enough good things about that book!

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The first time I heard “Drive By” by Train, I was pretty much obsessed with it. I couldn’t get enough of it. I’d replay the vid over and over at YouTube. My “fever” finally calmed down… but I still like it. A lot.

27. What did you want and get?
Jobs for me and my sister!

28. What did you want and not get?
For my sister’s job to be as fantastic a fit as mine is for me

29. What was your favorite film of the year?
Films Seen This Year and Really, Really Liked: The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,
Films Seen This Year and Liked: The Dark Knight Rises, Men in Black 3
Films Seen This Year That Weren’t Quite What I Expected: Puss in Boots, Madagascar 3

30. What did you do on your birthday?
I got up very early and headed off to work in the rain. For lunch, I went to Cracker Barrel and treated myself to two helpings of their yummy macaroni and cheese. I ate supper with the fam. Since I knew work would take up most of the day, I opted to skip my usual b-day shopping trip. Instead, I started shopping weeks earlier, casually looking for things. As I found them, I tucked them away in my closet and then “opened” them after supper, to show the fam.
FYI, I made a slide show to commemorate the day; the first picture (in a series of nine) is here:
chezannegallery.shutterfly.com/1084

31. What would have made your year more satisfying?
If our mini-garden had produced more vegetables. After months of watering, weeding, mulching, etc. I don’t think we got ten tomatoes – and we only had one green pepper the whole year.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
For the first time since way back when I was a student-trainee person, I’m able to wear jeans regularly at work. So I get to be comfortable while wearing what I think is most flattering on me. Yay!

33. What kept you sane?
“Be Anxious For Nothing” by Joyce Meyer was SUCH a help!

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
A movie character: Loki, from The Avengers

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election… reminded me why I diligently avoid talking/thinking/caring about political matters.

36. Who did you miss?
Caren, from my old job

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Having started a new job, I met a lot of people, and really, they’re all a great bunch of guys. (I’m very diplomatically avoiding picking any one as the best, in case they ever read this. 😉

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
My job, and so far it’s change for the better. I can’t recall a job before that’s been such a great fit with both what I can do and what I like to do.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Whatever problems you’re facing, a negative, fast-forwarding-to-the-bitter-end attitude only makes it worse. Try to find some perspective.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“It takes a little time, sometimes, to get your feet back on the ground. It takes a little time, sometimes, to turn the Titanic around.” ~ Takes a Little Time, Amy Grant

How to Ruin a Movie Sequel

For those Hollywood people who are considering an attempt to cash in on a previously well-received movie (or TV show, book, etc.), I offer the following suggestions. IF you want to completely ruin your production, that is!

* Take an interesting concept from the first movie, and then run it into the ground with overexposure. (Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions)

* Undo something really good that happened in the first movie. (Miss Congeniality 2)

* Remake the first movie rather than building on it. (Beverly Hills Cop 2)

* Or, change everything so that it’s nothing like the first. (Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3)

* Continue the story when you really should’ve stopped with the first one. (multiple offenders, including Grease 2, Speed 2, Men in Black 2, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey)

* And in your rush to produce the sequel – and strike while the brand’s iron is still hot – settle for a weak storyline. (again, multiple offenders, including Ocean’s Twelve, Legally Blonde 2)

On the other hand, I found this post that considers what makes a good sequel – and I quite agree!
http://faerye.net/post/what-makes-a-good-sequel

Five Life Lessons From High School Movies

1) “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” – Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez)
THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985)

2) “If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn’t be a human being. You’d be a game-show host.” – Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder)
HEATHERS (1989)

3) “Just because you’re beautiful doesn’t mean you can treat people like they don’t matter.” – Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (1999)

4) “Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter… All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.” – Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan)
MEAN GIRLS (2004)

5) “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick)
FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF (1986)

(found at: Yahoo movies)