Two Almost Physicists With Almost Something To Say

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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.

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Saturday Morning Breakfast Ramble

Do you Tweet? I do not Tweet. I phone. I blog. I face. I chat. I tube. I snap. I lick. I golf. I do have a Twitaccount, originally obtained so that I could unlock extra Angry Birds levels. I’m not really sure what I’m expected to do with it other than that. I keep it so that I can follow two things, or people, or whatever Twittererers are: TNG_S8, and wekriskross. That is essentially my universe, triple distilled, served in a chilled tumbler. Not a tumblr. That’s another thing I don’t have or understand.

Speaking of folks who fail at jumping on social media bandwagons, I enjoyed watching CNN’s version of the presidential debate. The opinion indicator taught me that undecided Colorado women voters really enjoy higher education, while men sometimes like it and sometimes hate it, but both sexes generally enjoy spoken words, or maybe just buttons. As long as we’re adding future tech to our heads-up displays, I strongly advocate remote sensing of both candidate’s vital signs. Next to that, animated waveforms and needle indicators that flicker wildly, like we’re in some kind of Science Room. Below that, real-time stock indicators soaring through record highs and lows in response to candidates’ reactions to being asked questions about things. In the lower right, a mini-map showing terrain we’ve already explored, and all of our own units in green, and other units in red. In the center can be a pop-up box that tells me when the dryer is finished. CNN should either do this or redirect effort into fixing global warming or curing cancer, but no more half-measures.

And speaking of half-measures, last night was that night that one sees Taken 2 for some reason. The name alone sets off warning bells. This is not Scream; I feel that the appropriate action for a movie which tries to take itself seriously is to come up with a title other than “Sequel.” And Liam Neeson does take things very seriously, though nothing moreso than getting a driver’s license. Whatever the fuck that has to do with anything, we shant know. Here are some thoughts and spoilers in list form.

  • Liam Neeson either won or lost all of the fights; it’s hard to tell since the cameraman seemed to also be brawling with some unseen assailant, or perhaps simply his or her own personal demons
  • Liam Neeson learns things by reading books, and, if you want, you can borrow them
  • In Istanbul, it is acceptable to run over any number of people while plowing through a bazaar
  • In Istanbul, it is acceptable to throw grenades anywhere you please. If you destroy a reservoir holding clean water for a building full of people, +5 points
  • In Istanbul, it is not acceptable to abuse taxi services
  • It is customary to enter the US embassy by way of driving through the cardboard guard shack. People may shoot at you. If your car is made of metal, you will be okay
  • If you have just entered the embassy after leaving half of its host country a smoldering ruin, that is fine, those things happen. Recent history has taught us that people in the Middle East have great respect for our embassies
  • The door is actually open for Taken 3. If there is no Kraken, Ryan will flip the fuck out

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We Pick Things Up…

Taking a month-long trip to a location 6,000 feet above sea level may lead to thorough desiccation of the body, but fortunately it doesn’t have to mean loss of muscle tone. Twenty eight years ago an egg was fertilized; this egg eventually produced Carlos, who would end up tracking down cheap second-hand free weights and a bench, and arranging them on a mat in our cellar. I try to attend religiously. Atrophy and mountain lions are the largest persistent threats in this area. The former, leading to a condition colloquially known as “physics body” or “the N-body problem,” is preventable in principle. The latter is not. After dark we huddle in the cellar, admist our weights, and pray that they only take our livestock this night.

If I could pass one wisdom nugget to the world, it would be to always read the label on protein mix before laying down monies. I ended up with a tub of a pink something, flavored with antibiotics and a hint of strawberry, which seems to be a mix of equal parts anabolic steroids and cocaine. The instructions recommend that body builders actually go eat other sources of protein, suggesting to me that their product foregoes this ingredient altogether. Normal humans: Add 0 scoops to milk and consume with eggs. Bane: Add 1-2 scoops to five tablespoons water and force down. Then consume eggs.

Friday night was the night for The Expendables 2: The Expendening. If you haven’t seen, The Expendables is based on the true story of a group of friends dealing with the realities of middle age, during which the world around them reflects on itself as they attempt to define what it is to have lived a “good life.” A masterfully constructed metanarrative draws themes from a rich body of works in psychology and classical literature. The first movie won two Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

We showed up 30 minutes early for the movie–an unprecedented show of force for a town of 10,000–and proceeded to stand at the head of a non-existent line for another 20 while the previous showing finished. Upon entering the theater I consumed a king-size bag of Whoppers and the world started to move much too slowly. My review of the movie is somewhat colored by this experience. There was not nearly enough action, and when there was, the guns did not spew bullets fast enough. Stallone enunciates too much. Chuck Norris told too few Chuck Norris jokes. Schwarzenegger isn’t old enough. More. More, damn you. This is escapism; I need a movie that doesn’t resemble my everyday life.