Aitch-Bar

Two Almost Physicists With Almost Something To Say


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We Went to Paisley Park

We spent Thanksgiving in my wife’s home state of Minnesota this year. It was a really fun trip, between visiting her family in the snowy far north, photo-ops with giant Midwestern statues, and taking in some culture in the Twin Cities. The highlight of that culture part was definitely visiting the home of one of Minnesota’s brightest lights, the late Prince Rogers Nelson.

Paisley Park, his recording studio, base of operations, and home, opened to the public less than a month before we visited, on October 28th. It was only announced that it would become a public museum in August. It wasn’t clear how much preparation for turning it into a museum was done prior to his untimely death this April, but my wife observed that he was already basically living his life as a public performance, and there were already probably plenty of glass cases holding memorabilia around beforehand anyway, so it’s hard to know.

We went in the early evening on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Currently, they give tours most days going until 11 pm or so. When we got there, a guard stopped us at the gate to ask whether we had tickets. We didn’t, and he informed us that they can only be bought online, so we were turned away, and proceeded to buy them on a phone while idling in a nearby CVS parking lot. We idly pondered whether Prince had ever stopped there to buy Vitamin Water.

Tickets acquired, we were ushered through the gates and parked in front of this blurry purple wall.

Purple wall, purple wall

Purple wall, purple wall

Phones were not allowed on the tour, so I snapped the only other picture I was able to take:

Purple wife, purple wife

Purple wife, purple wife

Ironically, although they are extremely paranoid about phones, the only way to get in was to show them the QR code for your ticket…on your phone. After you do, they put your phone in a little “locked” pouch that they unlock at the end of the tour. I strongly suspect that they were already in use back in the days when he would throw massive parties here as well. I entertained the thought that Madonna had once been forced to use my pouch to lock up her phone when she came to an impromptu party/performance in one of the party/concert events he held for celebrities and cool people.

To start with, in case you’re not familiar, Paisley Park looks more like an office complex than a house. It’s a big white boxy structure on the corner of a ordinary street in the suburbs outside Minneapolis, in a pretty sparsely populated sort of place with occasional strip malls and empty lots. Here’s a picture I found on the internet.

boto-paisley-park-exterior

Unlike a normal house, it had the kind of glass double doors, HVAC, and other stuff that you usually see in commercial buildings. Which makes sense, I suppose, since lots of people work(ed) there in a professional sense, but it is still a little crazy that someone extremely famous lived here for nearly 30 years. Also, because there were multiple displays which looked like they were created for a museum, and yet, other things which we were told had been there for years but looked carefully presented, we frequently wondered how much had been changed for the public tours. Our assumption was “less than you would expect.”

Security was omnipresent. They were both gruff and jocular and I strongly suspected that they were mostly people who had already been working there and were now getting used to dealing with the public on a daily basis.

About half of the tour group was wearing at least some purple, and the makeup of us tourists was diverse in every sense—reflecting the fact that Prince was a rare artist who appealed to people from every background and walk of life. He really united people in a cool way.

While waiting for our guide, we were allowed to peruse the wall of gold and platinum records hanging up around the entryway. My brother-in-law noticed that a quote/drawing beside the doorway was clearly from a blown-up image, and you could see the sloppy pixelation (he asked about it later, it had been there for many years).  My wife was especially happy to find the platinum record (with accompanying platinum tape cassette) for ‘Batdance’. Across from these in a small frame was a condolence letter from the President that he and Michelle had signed in purple ink. I can’t find an image from it online, and I wish I remembered it better, but it probably included something like “‘A strong spirit transcends rules,’ Prince once said — and nobody’s spirit was stronger, bolder, or more creative” which is from a quote Obama made publicly at the time. It was characteristically eloquent.

Our tour guide eventually arrived, wearing, as all the guides did, a loose Prince-ish, purple shirt with long loose sleeves. I noticed that he had a Prince symbol tattooed on his forearm and wondered whether the folks leading the tours were chosen from local super-fans. (This article seems to confirm that they were.)

He ushered us into a large room with a kitchen on one side and doors going in every direction. The second level ringed most of it, and on the upper level there was a birdcage holding two of Prince’s doves. We did not witness them crying.

Via this site the room was much like this, but the doors with Prince paintings have been replaced with memorabilia displays and a pedistal with a Paisley Park model and his remains now sits in the center of the photo.

Via this site the room was much like this, but the doors with Prince paintings have been replaced with memorabilia displays and a pedestal with a Paisley Park model and his remains now sits in the center of the photo.

We were told that this is where Prince spent a lot of his time, and it was where he had given a famous interview to Oprah in the 90s. The kitchen was frequently used when the musicians were in long recording sessions, and also held a couch and TV where he spent nights watching the Timberwolves. In recognition of that, the TV was playing a recording of an old game. Despite the seeming incongruousness of it, he was an avid supporter of Minnesota sports, as people in the area can attest.
On the opposite wall (where the photo above faces), there were several inlaid displays with guitars and hand-written lyrics (in place of those pictures of him), and several small rooms with the same kind of thing, and some of his bonkers outfits (these were in most displays and they were always quite small). Another room held his relatively normal-looking office. The phone on his desk was purple.

A small replica of the Paisley Park building sat in the middle of the large room (around the end point of the arrow on his symbol, as seen above), and contained a small black box holding his remains. (My brother-in-law, a funeral director, mentioned that the box would have been far too small to hold the entirety of a cremation, so the rest of His Purpleness must be somewhere else.)

We were led into a large wood-paneled recording studio. Prince had been recording a new collaboration jazz album there less than a month before his death in April. The guitar he was playing was still there, as was the lyric sheet in his own handwriting. The guide played an unmixed section of one of these tracks. It was extremely funky. In the mixing room, the original drum machine used on Purple Rain could be seen. The guide also egged someone on into asking about a little door about 10 feet off the ground…only to reveal that it was just for storage. We were baffled why he was so intent on telling us this.

We then passed through a room with memorabilia from and screens showing Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge. It had previously held promotion offices and been set up for the museum. Half of the room was monochromatic in a nod to Cherry Moon, a black-and-white movie. Graffiti Bridge, apparently a spiritual sequel to Purple Rain, was mostly filmed in this building, something he asked us to keep in mind, as the scale of the production, from the film clips playing, was clearly made in a very large studio space. Where could this space be?

This led to a long hallway (I might be mis-remembering the sequence) with his various awards over the years in inset cases in the wall. We noticed that the Grammy award trophies apparently got larger at some point in the early 90’s and got to see an MTV moonman statue up close. It was a long hallway, and, unsurprisingly, there were many awards.

Next we saw another less ornate recording space where they had created a display which included one of his outfits, a motorcycle (seen on the covers of the “Purple Rain” and “Let’s Go Crazy” singles), and his Oscar from Purple Rain. Then an antechamber for a large concert space, where a strange piano sat among strange organic sculptures. They mentioned that it was one of only a dozen or so examples of this unusual pianos ever made, but not knowing the name for this unique instrument, I could only find this single photo online. From my angle, it was reminiscent of black sea creature.

prince-piano

Prince at his cetacean piano, via this site

This was the entryway into an enormous concert-space/airplane hanger. In about half of the room, outfits and instruments from various tours were arranged on platforms, as were some giant chairs. A concert video played on the distant movie-theater screen. This was where he threw private concerts. It was incredibly large, with a very high ceiling—it felt like they could have fit a space shuttle in here, and if Prince had wanted to, they probably would have. It was staggering to suddenly emerge into a gigantic mostly-empty room.

Our penultimate room was full of couches and large screens. Our guide told us that Prince would sit up on an upper-level walkway looking down over his parties from a chair–which was still present. The area below was full of intimate couch-tables that would belong in a small jazz club, and psychedelic patterns played on the walls.

Near the exit, a neglected wall held some of the offerings left by fans after his death. They seemingly scooped up what was left outside (signs, drawings, tickets) and arranged it in a tapestry of raw grief, with names and addresses still visible on printed-out tickets scrawled with messages of what he meant to them.  The flowers, cast about loosely on the floor, though dry, were not yet completely withered.

In this final area, a large flat-screen TV played his virtuoso Superbowl performance. In 2007, the Superbowl in Miami was played under heavy rain. As halftime approached, the organizers, worried if the weather would effect the show, asked him if there was anything they could do to help. His response:

“Can you make it rain harder?”


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“Movie” Review: 2012: Supernova

This poster is the most well-produced aspect of this film

This poster is the most well-produced aspect of the film

Two colons in the subject line? The review isn’t even underway and it’s already ruined. 2012: Supernova is another sanity-testing straight-to-DVD film-like-product by the Asylum Studios geniuses who have previously brought us such works as Boa vs. Python, HyperMoth vs. SuperLamp, and ExoFrog & EnormoToad. (Or whatever). It came out in 2009 to capitalize on the John Cusack 2012. The title of the movie has absolutely no bearing on anything that happens, the year is completely arbitrary. Asylum’s basic strategy is to make movies with titles similar enough to big-budget films that people doing searches in Netflix confuse the two, and when that’s your approach to filmmaking, the results are never far from miraculous. As such, they are sort of ‘facades’ of real movies, where they have titles and the characters in them look a lot like actors, and you have to assume that living people were actually hired to make the special effects, but you can tell that the paycheck these people get for it is essentially the only thing keeping them from borrowing their parent’s money in order to buy scratch cards for a living.

I was actually interested in this because the description sounds exactly like an idea I had for one of the only astronomical disaster scenarios to be unused in an action film: radiation from a nearby supernova threatens Earth. (And no, not in the idiotic way used in  JJ Abrams’ Star Trek that makes no sense). Problematically though, in real life, if we were hit by, say, a gamma-ray burst from a very nearby supernova, we’d get a neutrino signal a few hours in advance, the sky would get very bright, and then half the planet would just get blasted with deadly gamma rays for a minute or so, and then those people would die. Everyone on the other side of the planet would survive to gradually starve to death due to the mass extinction, or suffer fatal radiation exposure due to the depleted ozone layer. Sort of like The Road but more uplifting. And not a great situation for a movie, since there is almost no warning, and there isn’t really anything we could do about it before everyone was already dead. [Dara O’Briain’s breakdown of 2012’s apocalypse scenario is here, by the way, and it’s hilarious]

The first sign of a supernova apocalypse: meteors

The first sign of a supernova: meteors

For the purposes of a narrative, 2012: Supernova imagines that this supernova explosion is happening gradually and predictably, so our hero can have something to do. All the effects from astronomy’s only sudden and violent event occur gradually and take on completely inexplicable forms. The movie opens with a satellite in Earth orbit EXPLODING because an enormous bubble that expands out of nowhere destroys it. We then go down to Earth where an astrophysicist, Kelvin, waking up in his cavernous undecorated house. There are no photos or personal belongings anywhere— presumably this allows them to rent it out as a porn set on weekends. NASA has summoned him, the big scary thing is happening now, ahead of schedule, he needs to get to the base! And because there is impending disaster, he rounds up his wife and daughter, (who both appear to be roughly the same age), and packs them into his giant black science-SUV. They protest strongly despite the fact that there are now unexplained fireballs reigning down from the sky. Nonetheless, he refuses to tell them why it they’re leaving or what’s going on. Trust him, ladies, he’s an astrophysicist, OK? That is more than enough explanation for why you need to rush somewhere mysterious at a moment’s notice.

Continue reading


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A Speculative Account of the Transpiration of Events Culminating in the Publication of the Novel Micro

Michael Crichton reclines in his study, exhausted but satisfied. He has completed the first stage of what promises to be a highly-regarded novel; a lusty mix of speculative science, corporate intrigue, observations of the natural world, and horror. A framework is sketched. Characters are outlined: protagonists, antagonists, brain candy, cannon fodder. Three notes are jotted, one atop the other, in the lower right-hand corner. The first reads “Research plants.” The second: “Check basic physics.” And the third: “Need writing not to suck.” He completes the early ritual with a title page. Micro. He then secures the page and his draft notes to his abdomen with strips of duct tape. He dies two days later.

— —

Under the pale light of a quarter-moon, Richard Preston wipes a briny muck from his face as he digs under the grave marker of Michael Crichton. His pace is frenetic. The rumors still ring in his ears: a final manuscript, completed moments before his untimely demise, never having reached the eyes of any editor, never having been digitally transcribed, never found among his personal possessions. Taken to the grave. Richard Preston will have this story. Richard Preston will realize his dream of co-authoring a work with Michael Crichton. Richard Preston will ascend to greatness.

A thud. He has hit lacquered mahogany. He tosses the shovel aside and digs with bare hands, revealing his prize. He tears his shirt on a corner. He does not notice. The lid is opened. With assured purpose, he searches under the body, under the pillow, under the lining. He finds nothing. Panic rises. His frantic gaze then settles on the body. The burial suit is torn asunder. There: a stack of papers, secured to the abdomen by strips of duct tape. Richard Preston grabs at them, secreting them away in his waistband, hidden under torn shirt. In his mania, he tears the final bits. He does not notice a small piece of the lower right-hand corner left behind, hidden under a strip of tape.

— —

Richard Preston has retreated to his shack in the woods. The small room is lit by a trash can fire; smoke roils on the ceiling, escaping through narrow cracks in the thatch. The floor is naked boards. He is bent over a sun-bleached writing desk, poring over the notes. A rising despondency grips him by the throat. Where paragraphs should exist, there are only phrases. Where developed personality traits ought to be, there are only job descriptions. This is unlike any manuscript Richard Preston has encountered before. In fact, the manuscript reads like… draft notes.

The realization sweeps over him: Richard Preston must write words. He has dreaded this day for nearly eighteen years. He never intended to supply great stretches of narrative. The process of fictional composition is mysterious to him. One to whom it is not mysterious is Jezebeth, the demon of falsehoods. It is she who was the true author of The Hot Zone. For Richard Preston harbors a dark secret. Richard Preston is no writer.

Richard Preston is a wielder of arcane magicks.

He steels himself and reaches under his desk. He finds the old mason jar, and brings it to the flaming trash can. The top is discarded. Inside is a mixture of animal bones, widow’s tears, vulcanized rubber, and salvia. Eyes rolled back in his head, he recites a dark incantation and drops the brew into the fire.

— —

A lost child stumbles into the shack, finding Richard Preston face down upon the floorboards, naked, surrounded by aborted attempts at origami, unable to be roused. He steps gingerly over the prone form, avoiding a half-swan. He finds some food — a cabinet full of Triscuits, unpackaged and standing in stacks of twelve — and notices papers on the desk. The papers seem to be draft notes for a story. The child is intrigued. He won a writing award in seventh grade before running away from home. He spots something in the lower right corner: “Research plants” is scrawled just above a small tear in the paper.

He then notices a cardboard box in a far corner, decrepit with age and thorough with rot. He walks over to it and tugs at the top flap. The soggy material disintegrates, and a hundred unsold hardcovers of The Demon in the Freezer spill to the floorboards. He picks one up. It fills him with a sense of disquiet; he does not think of reading it. He turns it over instead. On the jacket cover is a picture of the author. He looks from the jacket to the man on the floor, and back again. He realizes that this is the Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone, inspiration for him to quit school in the seventh grade after realizing that a world with ebola is a world without meaning. Clearly his hero has come into a bad way. The child will help Richard Preston in his time of need. He returns to the writing desk, grabs the draft notes, and strides purposefully out the door, stepping over a half-tulip, heading for the library.

— —

The child returns to the shack, a stack of paper clutched tightly to his breast. Again he steps over Richard Preston’s sprawled figure. He sets the papers neatly beside the typewriter. He has combined an old biology report on rainforests with a character narrative framed by the draft notes. He has followed all of the notes that were on the page. He has followed none of the notes that were not. He stokes the trash can fire, bends down, sweeps aside a half-sailboat, and gives Richard Preston a kiss on the forehead. He walks into the woods. He is eaten by wolves.

— —

Richard Preston has taken an upright position. His head swims, his hands shake, and his stomach seizes. This is Jezebeth’s toll; he can feel the gap left in his abdomen where she burrowed. He is ravenous for Triscuits.

He crawls through a family of half-frogs to his writing desk to see what the demon may have wrought on his typewriter. He is surprised to find a very neat font, with nonuniform letters, line widths bound precisely to one-inch margins around the page. This is not at all like what happened last time. And it is theoretically impossible for a typewriter. Such is the nature of the dark arts.

He quickly tucks the new manuscript into an envelope; to gaze upon it too carefully before it enters the editing process would be to undo the work entirely. But he does notice a Post-It affixed to the title page, with what appears to be the hesitant calligraphy of a childlike hand. Creepy. He tosses the note directly into the trash can fire, sending its demonic machinations back to Hell. He then seals the envelope and gives his story unto the mail, addressed to HarperCollins. Richard Preston returns to the floor, the weight of destiny pulling him down. He sleeps.


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Back on the Wagon

I was recently inspired to shovel some coal back into the tender engine running the Xbox. I enjoyed an eight-month run as a member of society, but falling temperatures and a primal desire to trade physical exertion for coziness have won over. This is a dangerous time, life chronometer-wise, to take up hobbies of any creed or mode of dress. The barometer has fallen sharply, and a dark and turbulent stretch of thesis writing is on the horizon. The air smells of ozone and poorly-constructed sentences on the nature of dark matter. This is a storm that must be weathered with all vigilance. I have asked Siri for directions from my Current Location to employment at a grocery store; Route 1 is a slippery slope.

Thus it was with a distinct feeling of illogic that I laid monies for a new game. The vessel of vicariousness I chose was one called Dishonored. The choice was not made lightly, but, as with all major life choices, was the culmination of a search through every Internet there is, tallying those anonymous spirits which point apparitional fingers toward that thing you want to do and say “yeah dude worht it.” Not that they could have easily dissuaded me, as the promise of a game where freedoms with consequences are introduced has strong allure. I don’t recall ever finishing Red Faction: Guerrilla; I think I was too busy knocking holes in walls and then walking through them repeatedly, manic grin on my face, recalling the days of Nintendo when your environment was immutable. Being able to approach a task from any particular angle is not only liberating, but rewires some rat’s nest of dendrites near the front of the brain, forever changing the way one perceives the world. I hardly use the door to my apartment anymore.

Dishonored seems to be about rolling in human filth and eating food found in sewers, in a time of plague. I have on occasion been known to miss the point, but this is the aspect outstanding to me. There isn’t a single facet of the game which is not constantly turning around to you and saying “bro, outbreak, not a good day for whatever it is you want to do.” There are literally posters on walls reminding you. NPCs will not shut up about it. Rats abound. It hardly seems appropriate to be eating tins of fish out of dumpsters. The outrageous bit is that the game rewards you for this behavior by increasing your health, rather than immediately laying you out with the flux.

In between episodes of consuming trash, you are expected to perform acrobatic feats and, optionally, get into fights. I avoid the latter, for three reasons: (1) I am my mother’s son; (2) I’ve played Halo too many times to be enticed by the prospect of battle with belligerent Englishmen; (3) the game doesn’t want me to. I am frequently offered incentives for passing by an opportunity to rumble, be they in the form of ethereal Achievement Points, or fewer rats down the line (seriously), or 10% off my next meal at Pizza Pie-er. This means doing battle of a different kind, with the ill-conceived notion of “hiding” in video games. One typically hides by concealing about 50% of your body behind a thing, and that is considered close enough, because legs are really the indicator of a troublemaker. Occasionally some enterprising individual spots you anyway, despite your efforts and intentions, which I guess is supposed to be a life lesson. You start to take exception, before you remember that, in fairness, you were just kind of standing in a bush and expecting that sort of thing to be okay. Rightfully you should have been spotted about five steps into the level, and you have thus far been saved only by a high level of unprofessionalism amongst the computer-controlled gestapo.

Then you turn into a dog or something, and that’s cool.


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“Movie” Review: Boa vs Python (2004)

Someone donated this DVD to my girlfriend’s library, and since adding it to the collection would raise all kinds of alarm bells, she was given it to take home, to avoid suspicion. So last weekend we watched it Mystery Science Theater 3000-style with a couple of friends who are connoisseurs of this genre, and it seemed only fair to share my insights on it here. What to say about one of these straight-to-video creature-features that hasn’t already been said? You may ask “Why would someone actually need to review something so obviously terrible, and from 8 years ago? Don’t we already know everything we need to know about this alleged ‘film’ from the title?” My response: who the hell do you think you are, telling me what I can and can’t write about?! Do I come down to your blog and tell you to stop posting pictures of your goddamn two-year-old and what you had for dinner last night? Of course I don’t, so shut the hell up and read my synopsis of one of 2004’s finest Snake vs. Snake movies.

We open in York, Pennsylvania, a strangely specific location for somewhere that no one has ever heard of. Obviously, a Mexican wrestling match is beginning, and the citizens of York are going crazy as the pugilists are introduced. The Boa and the Python. This is foreshadowing. A cigar-chomping bigshot who looks like a non-name-brand version of Tom Cruise sits in the front row and orders “a box of raisinets.” He is clearly a player. He takes a call from some goons driving a shipping truck and yells at them to do something. After hanging up, the truck explodes, allowing an enormous snake to escape and dive into a sewer entrance.

Really?

Just now, one of my watching companions discovers that this was filmed in Bulgaria, as the words “24 Miles Outside Philadelphia” appear at the top of a screen showing what is clearly the Bulgarian countryside. It is convenient that they were able to find a location that so clearly resembles the treeless steppes surrounding the major city of Philadelphia in all directions. Because one of the most interesting things about Philly is the way that despite being the fifth most populous metropolitan area in the US, the urban landscape abruptly stops at the city limits.

We are at the site of the truck explosion and the FBI is investigating the scene. One officer walks up to another inspecting a body and asks if this is body #6. The second officer replies that it’s “parts of bodies #2, #3, and #5” even though it is clearly a single person. An obnoxious news reporter reports the news obnoxiously, his cameraman has an Eastern-European accent.

Hey, watch those corners

Now we see Tom Cruise 2 on board his magic plane. He owns a 747-size aircraft for his personal use. The inside is adorned like a tacky Greek Temple. His girlfriend gratuitously takes a bath using a giant carwash-style sponge. It’s only 9 minutes into this film, but we’ve already seen everything, we’ve seen it all. A snake slithers into the bath so she angrily stomps into the bedroom to yell at TC2, but it is impossible to listen to what she’s saying because these scenes are just excuses to see her breasts. In the course of the conversation she throws the snake on the bed only to later sit down on it, toplessly, having forgotten that she had just thrown a snake on their bed 30 seconds ago.

This is around when we look at the cast list. Several men are all bit character actors, the women are all former porn actresses, the rest are Bulgaria’s finest. The Carwash Sponge was in Playboy Wet & Wild VIII: Bottoms Up; so it’s no wonder she knew how to take a bath. It’s good timing to find this out as we shift to a spring break party around a hotel pool. A bunch of bros are having a breath-holding contest as a blonde lady who is obviously another former porn actress says that she has breath-holding experience from being a Navy SEAL and challenges a giant guy who is whatever the Slavic equivalent of a linebacker is. This makes him good at going without oxygen somehow. They get in the water, and after 30 seconds she takes off her swimsuit top off. This somehow causes the Bulgarian Bruiser to run out of air and swim up to the surface. So she wins through trickery…how does that help you hold your breath during a Seal mission again? People hand her cash for winning the bet and she reveals a surprising proficiency for handling wads of wet $20 bills (how did this bet work again?). Anyway, she has been summoned by the FBI dude and the next scene is them in a car in West Virginia. Despite taking a plane to get there, she hasn’t had a chance to change out of her bathing suit. She is brought to team up with the world’s greatest herpetologist. He is in possession of a giant snake, this is a world where being a reptile scientist means that you create giant freaky reptiles.

Marine Biologists got to get paid y’all

This is when they start talking about “her equipment.” Despite being ~25 and having already spent at least a few years ascending to the top of the Navy’s most elite and challenging force, she is also the world’s greatest neuroscientist, because she has managed to create a computer interface to an dolphin brain. A system that would allow you to see through the dolphin’s eyes, control their actions remotely— it’s such a remarkable achievement that it is hard to believe we don’t need to spend more than 10 seconds talking about it. Rather, it’s time to repeatedly belittle the World’s Greatest Neuroscientist by referring to her work as her “equipment” or “implants” over and over again. Also we need to install it in the freaky giant snake— it’s like the old saying goes: “the only thing that can kill a giant snake is a giant cyborg snake”

Now TC2 assembles the world’s greatest hunters to go down into the sewers. A surprising number of them, including the cowboy stereotype with a giant American flag on his truck, seem to hail from Eastern Europe again. What a funny coincidence.

Imitation Tom Cruise lights a cigar with his magic flame thrower

A bunch of pointless things happen for the next 40 minutes. TC2 and his hunting team searches for the snake in the dense woods surrounding Philadelphia. As the python draws closer to the city, more Bulgarians perish from its fury. The World’s Greatest Neuroscientist goes into the sewers with Giant Boa Man to track their snake. You can’t help but wonder whether all that stuff about snake surgery was not significantly different than putting a camera and GPS on a snake. The hunting team doesn’t realize that if shooting the snake with bullets didn’t work the first time, it won’t work the second, third, and tenth times. Tom Cruise 2 dumbly describes his hunting technique as “one shot, one kill”—despite multiple instances where we’ve seen volleys of bullets bounce off the snake. He then switches from guns to a flamethrower, which can’t make up its mind whether it’s the kind of flamethrower that merely projects fire, or the napalm-kind that sprays a stream of flaming gel— it keeps switching. The Python and Boa have sex in the sewer system and instantly lay a bunch of eggs. I don’t know anything about snake reproduction, and won’t insult your intelligence by merely looking it up on wikipedia, but any resemblance to things that could actually happen in reality has to be coincidental at this point.

Carwash Sponge meets her maker

Most of the people tracking the snakes get killed, and the former Navy SEAL (and star of Playmate Pajama Party) uses her breath-holding abilities, genuinely for once, to hide in some water while the python kills a bunch of people. Eventually, only TC2 and the Boa Implant Squad remain, and they head up to Philly’s hottest dance club— a dank, cramped bar with 15 patrons and 10 writhing fluorescent painted nude dancers. The python comes up through the basement, and as the army arrives on the scene, TC2 inexplicably murders about a dozen soldiers with his magic flame thrower. If his reason for doing this was a desire to kill the snake himself, he’s made a mistake, since he is now out of napalm. Suddenly, he decides to bend the laws of the universe by taking off his empty tank and shooting it. Despite being EMPTY it explodes in a magnificent burst of flame that blows away part of the building but doesn’t injure anyone standing 10 ft away from it. The python eats him anyway.

Boa Implant Squad chases the two snakes down to the subway (Philadelphia has a subway now?) and as the good snake and bad snake bite and wrestle each other, the Python gets hit by a subway car. CyberBoa slithers back into the depths of the sewers. After all this, the subterranean giant snake count remains at 1. Has goodness prevailed? We have all lost the ability to care. What part did the heroes play in saving the city? Well, I suppose they released an equally deadly snake into the sewers and got lucky. There. Stop asking questions.

A new day dawns over the suspiciously Eastern Bloc-style architecture of Sofia Philadelphia

Grade: H-
Like Kyopolou, a traditional Bulgarian relish made primarily from eggplant and garlic, this “film” is a gross-looking puree of ingredients so bland and pointless that you have to wonder why anyone bothered. Just as a Balkan dip won’t fill you up, Boa vs Python leaves you hungry for something more substantial, with a bad taste in your mouth, and yet, you knew what you were getting into when you minced the bell peppers and tomatoes.

Pointless.