Now that Angel’s over, I just might have to sneak some time on the company plotter.
Last night I watched the series finale of Angel.
I’m not an avid TV watcher. I have certain shows I watch - CSI, Survivor, Alias - but I don’t usually get sucked in to a show. I mean, if last season of Survivor was it, I’d just move on with life. I was a fan of the whole Buffy thing ever since the original movie, though, and I watched the Buffy TV show from beginning to end, all seven seasons. There’s a certain sci-fi soap opera need that’s filled in me by Buffy. Long about the time the writing in Buffy started to wane, they brought in the Angel spin-off series, and I was an avid watcher of that for its entire five-year run. Angel was a little edgier, and while some of the stories weren’t as cool as others, they tended towards the sci-fi (while Buffy seemed to veer off towards the soap opera).
When Buffy ended, the show had sort of reached its natural conclusion. They had fought all there was to fight, and the characters had come to sort of a point where they needed to move on. The way they ended was perfect - a big bang, the end of one story and the beginning of another chapter in the characters’ lives as they rode off into the sunset.
With Buffy over, I was glad to have Angel around to continue that mythos - the characters crossed over from Buffy, the universe had continuity… it was like Buffy never ended, it just had a sequel. An even better sequel, because the shows remained compelling and the characters were always changing it up. You never knew what was coming next. Kind of like when the X-Files was still good. Remember that?
After five years of Angel, they ended it last night. And while I’m not an avid TV watcher and don’t generally get sucked into shows, I was really sad to see them go. It’s like seeing an old friend leave for the last time, never to return except in the photo album you occasionally flip through. I’ve read through a few message boards and a lot of people (including Jenn) were disappointed in how the show ended, but I really wasn’t. The gang went out fighting the good fight, trying to stop evil, and while it was left open-ended as to whether they survived or not, I’d like to think they did.
Q: If there’s never another Angel adventure, where would you say we’re leaving this character?
A: In battle. Battle for his own self and battle for humanity, pretty much. Striving for excellence and continuing the good fight, whatever that good fight is.
On an even larger scale, the end of Angel is also sort of like closing a chapter on my own life. It’s sort of sad that people can define times of their lives with television shows, but look at all the Friends watchers out there. The TV in today’s day and age is more than just entertainment. I think we spend enough time with the characters in our favorite shows that they become like family to us - sort of indirect voyeuristic acquaintances. When they go, it’s like losing that friend. Ever have a pet fish when you were a kid? Remember what it was like when it died? Pretty terrible, right? I think it’s like that. So the end of Angel marks a sort of end of an era for me. It’s not going to hinder me from functioning or anything, but it’s still sad.
So, thanks, Joss, for the years of entertainment, for the friends you created and the universe you opened a window to, just for me. I anxiously await the next great adventure.
Troy is a sort of historical fiction deal telling about, well, the battle of Troy. You know, that whole thing with Helen of Troy - er, Sparta - and Achilles and all that. Go read The Iliad if you don’t know that story, or maybe take some high school history.
So I don’t need to explain the story to you any more than I would need to explain the plot of something like, say, Titanic. Helen of Troy? Check. Ridiculously huge battle scenes? Check. Trojan horse? Check. Achilles heel? You got it.
All that’s left to discuss is what I thought.
Brad Pitt plays a pretty good Achilles, though I couldn’t help but see Val Kilmer as Madmartigan from Willow. He was a reasonably believable fighter; I liked him. I admit I kept waiting for someone to cut his heel in every battle, though. Maybe knowing too much about the plot of a movie isn’t such a good thing.
Diane Kruger (no, I don’t know her, either) played Helen. Now, I thought Helen of Troy was supposed to be some major legendary beauty. Granted, they explore some more political reasons for the Trojan War here, but that doesn’t change the fact that, while Kruger is sort of cute, she’s no legendary beauty.
Even given all of that, I could have just settled back and watched an epic battle, but when Briseis, the cousin of the Trojan prince (played by Rose Byrne, who was just as good looking, if not better, than Helen), has a knife at Achilles’s neck, then he spouts some “wisdom-riddled” one-liner and she basically flips over onto her back and they do it. What?! Sorry, folks, you lost me there. This isn’t some Bond film, so I can’t just let that go. If I wanted cheesy sleeping with the enemy, I’d go rent that.
I’m glad I saw it, but more from the perspective of “three hours at a movie is way better than three hours at work.” I’m glad work paid for it, too. Had I put in my $8, I’d have been pissed off.
Like my coworker sitting next to me said during the film, “Hey! There are people in that horse! Don’t let them in!”
Save this one for the dollar beer-and-pizza theater. You’ll thank me later, when you’re drunk and stuffed with pizza.
I’ve been working on the same project at work for about three months now and I’m well beyond the burned-out point.
You might think that sounds a little bit attention-deficit-disorder, and maybe you’re right. See, the thing is, I work in the IT organization. While that doesn’t afford me the paycheck that I might see in a product development role, it does lend itself to project flexibility - you can do a different thing every week (sometimes every day!), so you don’t get bored. (It does become a little problematic when there are too many things to do because the context-switching between 50 different things takes its toll.)
What I’m working on now is a product-related project. I’m the only full-time developer devoted to the project, and at the outset of the thing, I didn’t know anything about how our product functioned internally… and I sort of liked it that way. Now I’m three months in on one of those typical “too many requirements, not enough time” deals and after a couple of really long weeks in there and more patience-taxing situations than I care to recount, I’m spent. I mean, seriously burned. I’ve lost the caring that I had at the beginning for the elegance of a solution and I’m starting to fall into that “just make it work” stage, which is not something I’m proud of but is what happens when you’re tired of it all.
It wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t come off a nine-month bender working on another hardcore “too many requirements, not enough time” project. Finish up one, move right to the next.
I have learned something about myself, sort of keyed off a colleague’s desire to “thank me for my patience” when things are going awry. My patience is like money - there’s a finite amount of it, and it gets “stored up” between taxing situations (maybe pun intended). When a difficult situation comes along, I spend my allotted patience on it and then build up again for the next situation. This project has my patience bank tapped out. Like a cat burglar broke into my patience vault and raided every last bit of it.
Why’s it such a grinder? What’s different about this project than every other project? Let’s do a little post-mortem before the project is finished, shall we?
Requirements: If you’re building a product, you’d better know what you want. Don’t call the developers until you have an idea and can start laying out requirements. When you ask the developers how to deliver the requirements, listen to the answer, then follow it. If they say they need screen shots (because use cases can be sometimes inferred from screen shots or mock-ups), don’t hand them an Excel spreadsheet with lists of prose. Crafting a user interface from prose is like trying to be a police sketch artist… in code. It doesn’t work so well.
Moving Targets: When you’re working on a large project, particularly in a new technology, you need to minimize the number of moving targets in the scenario. If the SDK you’re working with is going to change, you need to at least have firm requirements and a stable development machine to work with. If the development environment is going to change, the SDK needs to remain consistent and the requirements have to be pretty solid. If the requirements are going to change, the rest of the technology needs to be reasonably stable. I’ve got a situation where the SDK is changing, the requirements change, the development environment isn’t the most stable, and the whole concept I’m working in is new to me, so I’m trying to learn it while all of that’s going on. More structure = more productivity in cases like this.
Resources: Every company is running lean nowadays, so it’s no surprise that when someone goes on paid time off there can be bumps in the road. That said, it’s probably not a good idea to schedule a three month project with lofty goals and allocate only two developers, one of whom hasn’t used the technology before and one of whom will be gone for a full month during the middle of the project. Doesn’t work so well.
I could go on and on about this sort of thing, but we’ve all read The Mythical Man-Month so we all know the pitfalls of this stuff. (Oh, and if you’re into that sort of book, Peopleware is a great one.) Let’s just leave it to me being frustrated and tired (I wake up tired, I go to bed tired, I’m tired all day long).
Man, I’m glad my blog is back up. How else am I supposed to vent?
I’m reading the back of the “Yogurt & Green Onion” flavored Kettle Chip bag right now and it says, as the “descriptive phrase” on the back:
“Our Yogurt & Green Onion Kettle(tm) brand potato chips impart a farm fresh flavor of creamy yogurt and green onion.”
Holy shit! I thought they’d taste like cheddar cheese! I’d best take these back!
I think Kettle Chips has a position open for a copywriter. Maybe I should apply.