1. Joss Whedon.
2. People Who Make Stuff, whether practical, fantastical, or both.
3. Guys who got our backs: Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi, Jim C. Hines.
4. Seeing Amy Acker and Alexis Densiof together in Much Ado About Nothing.
5. The Marvel Universe.
6. Tom Hiddleston and Cookie Monster.
7. The Hubble Space Telescope
8. Arrow and Canary smiling at each other during fight scenes.
9. Being a guest for the first time at a con – Thank you, Convolution!
10. Kid-appropriate comic books.
11. Saga – not a kid appropriate comic book!
12. Seanan McGuire and Mira Grant.
13. Seeing SFWA change from within – keep at it!
14. N.K. Jemisin and Saladin Ahmed, whose books and twitter feeds challenge and delight me every day.
15. Reading Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams to my daughter at bedtime.
17. The steampunk bamboo biplane in Tai Chi Zero.
18. Field Trips.
19. Blood Donors.
20. Blue collar workers – they make the world I live in. Thank you.
22. Scientists, mad or otherwise.
23. Writers who support their fellow writers.
24. Natalie Portman, for her “Be the next Jane Foster” program.
25. BAMF Girls Club.
26. Kickstarter and Etsy.
27. YouTube videos that make me smile.
29. Having too much to read.
30. Geek Girl in Love readers!
This month’s Hidden Hero is Grace Hopper, who lived from 1906 – 1992. Who’s Grace Hopper, you say? Oh, she’s just did some programming – by which I mean among other things, she was instrumental in the development of COBAL. I can’t come close to understanding her computer work, but here’s what I gather – one of the most significant reasons that people can tell a computer to do things other than numerical calculations is that Grace invented the language with which to do so. Also, she spent a little time in the Navy – by which I mean, she was a Rear Admiral. Grace’s nickname was “Amazing Grace” and seldom has a nickname been better earned.
Here’s a rundown of Grace’s computer work. This comes from wvegter.hivemind.net. During WWII, Grace worked on Harvard I, the first large-scale computer, as well as the Mark II and Mark III. She was the first female computer programmer – not counting Ada Lovelace, who programmed the very first computer, which is another story in and of itself.
Grace then went on to develop the first compiler. I am so computer illiterate that as far as I can tell this blog is delivered to your computer in the dead of night, by elves. But my limited understanding is that a compiler is basically a program that allows a human being to enter commands into a computer in a programming language that is human-friendly, with those commands then being translated into programming language that is more computer friendly. Among other things, it means that you don’t have to give commands to your computer in binary code. Grace was instrumental in developing COBAL (Common Business Oriented Language).
Grace Hopper achieved a rank of Rear Admiral and retired at the age of 80 to become a senior consultant at Digital Equipment Corporation. Amazing Grace is credited with having polarized the term “debugging” a computer, a term she and her colleagues used after they found an actual bug (a moth) in the Mark II. Here’s a few quotes by this amazing woman:
A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and try new things.
It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.
You manage things. You lead people.
wikiquote has more of her quotes, with the sources listed, and a little more context about the quotes.
If you really want to know about Amazing Grace Hopper, you HAVE to check out this cartoon from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Here’s one teeny panel to lure you in. READ IT! DO IT NOW! Sorry, I was having a moment – it’s really funny! Here is link: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2516
Friday Book Club is going on a bit of a vacation, but we will be back in January with a three-month series that features humor writing. If the last series, Gothic Literature, made you mopey, then January should perk you right up.
Our January book will be: Thank You, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse.
This classic British comedy is the first full-length Jeeves novel, and what a joy it is, as the unflappable butler, Jeeves, has not one but two upper-class idiots to take care of. Thank You, Jeeves was published in 1934. I’m still waiting for the final Jeeves installment, which I’m sure will come any day now: Jeeves, Put Down that Uzi!
The February Book Will Be: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
I can’t imagine humor, or science fiction, or…well, anything, without this delightful book. The Guide has been a radio show, a TV show, and audiobook, a hollywood film, a stage play, and of course a trilogy consisting of five books (not a typo). Follow the insane adventures of Arthur Dent, Earthman, as he travels though space with his friend Ford Prefect, fellow earthling Trillian, the two-headed party boy and President of the Galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox, and the eternally depressed robot Marvin (“Life. Don’t talk to me about Life”).
And for the Grand Finale: 700 Sundays, by Billy Crystal
700 Sundays is a change of pace, from wacky madcap British comedy to bittersweet autobiography from one of America’s most beloved comics. In this book, Billy Crystal talks about the family and friends who supported and inspired him.
So, start reading now, and join us back here for Friday Book club, starting January 3rd!
In this week’s very special episode of S.H.I.E.L.D., we learn about the lasting effects of trauma. We find out that not everyone on Asgard knows everyone else, and we discover yet again that it’s very important to watch this show all the way to the end.
First of all, I’m writing this late at night and off the cuff – please excuse any typos. Late night blogging is never my friend. Also, this is short.
Second of all, this movie had three great moments, and they are all very spoilery, so I’m not going to talk that much about this actual episode.
Here’s the great moments:
1. Inspired guest casting. This show really brings it in terms of hiring great guest actors. Every minute with the professor, played by Peter MacNicol, was delightful. I shall say no more.
2. The theme of trauma. Grant’s memories are freaking awful. Child in peril trigger warning alert. Meanwhile, Agent May takes the episode to a whole new episode with her own reaction to traumatic memory. In every episode , there’s at least one line that makes me unwilling to give up on the show. Her line, “Because I see it every day” is the line that keeps me going this week. Fantastic.
3. The last one minute and thirty seconds.
Right now the only current TV shows I’m watching are S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow, and I vastly prefer Arrow. Arrow is a ridiculous show, yet it’s deeply satisfying, because it knows exactly what it is. Arrow is so ridiculous that at in one episode Ollie swings from a rope-like object (Tarzan style) to whisk a girl out of danger not once but twice. Twice in one episode. Once, without a shirt. With every second that I watch Arrow, I feel dumber and happier.
But Arrow gets us deeply invested in its soapy characters in a way that SHIELD (I’m bored with including the periods) has yet to manage, and it moves the plot along with every episode – not in tiny increments, but in large steps. Every episode ends with a question answered (Who is Canary?) and a question asked (will Ollie reveal her identity now that he knows it?). The cinematography allows it to do a lot with a little, and the fight scenes are excellent. Arrow is a soapy, silly, fun show and it knows it and it delivers fun, soapy, superhero derring-do and surprisingly realistic character development every single week. If it’s not your cup of tea, you’ll know right away and never waste a moment of your time on it. It delivers what it promises to deliver.
SHIELD does not seem to know what it’s doing. We’re now in episode eight and the show still hasn’t kicked into gear. I enjoy watching it, but I don’t think about the show in between episodes. It’s still just “OK” and I’m getting a little pissy about it. Every episode has some interesting stuff going on but not enough to make any particularly wonderful episodes. The next episode is supposed to be May-centric, so I live in hope.
If you are like me, you have a few days left until you are surrounded by family. Family everywhere! Which is…GREAT! Or, if you are not with family, you are either weeping into a plate of mashed potatoes or dancing a happy dance – it’s really all a matter of perspective. Regardless, here is your quick guide to two geek-friendly movies that you can drag your bus load of relatives to, or see by yourself (no sharing popcorn, yay).
What it says it is: A romantic comedy about time travel.
What the script says it is: A movie about father/son relationships, and about growing up.
Action level: Zip. Nada. No explosions at all.
Romance level: High, but not as high as the ads would have you think. Most of the romance stuff happens in the first half of the movie.
See it with: Your parents and your grandparents.
If they can handle: Swearing, a little bit of partial nudity (cute and comedic, not super sexy), non-explicit sex.
Avoid it if: You have daddy issues and/or have recently lost a parent. I bawled the whole time. Tim’s father is the one we all wish we had or that we all hope we’ll grow up to be (those of us who identify as fathers, that is). Quite good for a cathartic cry but unless you want your cathartic cry to be public, see it by yourself if daddy issues are your thing.
Capsule review: This movie is funny, touching, and sweet. I giggled like a maniac and cried like a baby. But it is also deeply flawed. It doesn’t work as a time travel movie, because the rules are broken at the filmmaker’s whim. The time travel is strictly a poetical device. It doesn’t work as a romantic comedy, because the focus is only one character, Tim, and all other characters are strictly subordinate. Despite its flaws, it’s quite a lovely movie about learning to appreciate an “extraordinary, ordinary life”.
You can find a a full-length review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
Thor: The Dark World
What it says it is: A movie in which Thor has to save the universe from dark elves.
What the script says it is: A character-based comedy/drama about how Thor has to redefine his role and his relationships after the events in The Avengers.
What we (the audience) thinks it is: Loki 3. Let’s be honest, folks.
Action level: Huge.
Romance level: Medium.
See it with: Your siblings and your cousins. Your friends. Yourself, if you are stranded on Thankgiving and want to escape into fun and excitement for a while. Your grandparents will think it’s weird.
If they can handle: Violence, some death, minimal gore. It’s just a smidgen more graphic than The Avengers. There’s minimal swearing, a shirtless scene (of Chris Hemsworth), no sex. Might be too scary for little kids.
Avoid it if: You would have to see it with people who think superhero movies are lame. Who needs that attitude when you want to kick back and watch Loki run amok in peace? This is another movie about family issues, and it involves estrangement and loss although it never gets so angst that it stops being fun.
Capsule review: This is a fun movie with both humor and pathos and some romance. The dynamic between Thor and Loki adds emotional stakes to the visual splendor and the clever climatic fight scene. The over-arching plot, about evil elves, is ridiculous and serves purely as a device to keep the characters we care about running around and interacting. Loki steals the show, as usual, but praise is due to Chris Hemsworth as well who grounds the whole enterprise and has some good snark of his own.