Tron: Legacy: The Phantom Menace: Fully Loaded.

Dear Reader,

I find myself sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, eyes fixed on a terrible tragedy.  That tragedy is a movie called Tron: Legacy.

I could enumerate all of the horrible choices that were made in the story, the screenplay, the directing, the visual design, etc.  I could do that.  But I won’t – my neckbeard isn’t nearly thick enough for that kind of endeavour.

Instead, I will say this:   (SPOILER ALERT)

Jeff Bridges turns into a new age yogi or guru or hairy monk.  He wears a robe-like suit-like garment.

It has a bowl

A bowl.

Yes, a bowl. If I were the kind of guy who defends crappy movies, I would point out that all of the “people” living inside the computer have a similar bowl-shaped socket on the back of their garments.  It is meant to hold an dinner plate identity disc that stores your memories, yadda yadda, and doubles as a weapon.  It’s basically a soul frisbee.  Everyone has a soul frisbee.

Except poor old Jeff Bridges.  I’ll spare you the hoary

“OMG I was betrayed by my own clone and I guess I’ll go be a space Buddhist and wear a robe thing and OMG I hope my son shows up and reminds me of who I was and some guy stole my soul frisbee and now I can’t play Frolf but I hope I can get my soul back and maybe a game of hackeysack”

plot since it’s not germane to the point I’m trying to make.

My question is this: Why does his monk suit have a bowl?  It had a bowl.  On the back, for the soul frisbee.  I get the part about him being inside the computer and that everyone else has a frisbee socket, but he must have made the monk suit himself or at least ordered it from a tailor who takes neon water as payment.  But at what point is he sitting on his computerized bench with a needle and thread thinking “Wait, this thing needs a bowl.” ???

You’re supposed to be the messiah to all of these two-dimensional characters (in 3D!), so surely you can give yourself a pass on the soul bowl garment requirement.  Perhaps he didn’t want to stand out.

Jeff Bridges in his white monk suit.

I don’t want to look out of place here in this world of electric soul frisbees.  I’d better put a bowl on my monk suit.

While trying to wrap my massive head around this question, I had an epiphany.

Tron: Legacy is the Phantom Menace of Tron movies.  Lots of money and effort spent on the CGI side, but the screenplay was given such little attention that it was launched into the sky when CGI jumped on the teeter totter.

This movie is a candy bin of horrors in the bulk food store of bad ideas, but it’s “Cash or Debit ONLY” and I’m $2 short of hobo bait, so I will leave you to ponder what I am calling “The Monk Suit Bowl Conundrum“, a mystery of such depth that it would require a diving bell full of Agatha Christies to discover its foundation.  Puff puff.

[Review] Space Shuttle: Final Countdown

Watching a show on eqhd about the Space Shuttle..  Shows the life of the Space Shuttle program from the design years of the late 60s and 70s to the retirement in 2011.

It’s made for a general viewing audience, so don’t expect any real insight or analysis.  It offers a simplistic overview of the shuttle program, but at least it’s pretty.  I liked that they included lots of interviews with actual astronauts and NASA staff.  I would rather have had them narrate the whole thing.

It’s worth a look, but I have a laundry list of quibbles:

  1. The clips of the Challenger break-up had explosion sound effects dubbed in.  I found that to be disrespectful, cheap, and totally unnecessary.  It’s as though the break up of the launch vehicle and death of seven astronauts wouldn’t be enough to hold someone’s attention.  This isn’t a World’s Greatest Disasters show, folks.
  2. The narration was tedious.  The voice was an edgy bass that had the cadence and inflection of a movie trailer narrator.  “In a world…”, that sort of thing.
  3. The suggestion that the possible loss of Columbia and astronauts Young and Crippen during STS-1 would be the greatest space tragedy in history…  so the loss of the three cosmonauts on the first Salyut mission was/would’ve been less tragic?

Hail Columbia!

Image of Shuttle Columbia launchI must confess that I’m a space nerd.  It’s an affliction I’ve had since I was four or five years old.  Rockets, satellites, astronauts, cosmonauts, freeze-dried ice cream, the works.

When I was a kid, my Dad traveled to the USA quite frequently on business.  It just so happened that some of his trips were to Texas.  To a nerdy space kid like me, the word “Texas” equated to “Houston, Texas” which equated to “Johnson Space Center“, NASA‘s Mission Control.  I don’t recall if my Dad came up with the idea or if I nagged him mercilessly, but either way my Dad, my Mom, and I made two trips to JSC.

It was heavenly.  We toured the buildings, ate authentic NASA cafeteria food, spotted astronauts, took stereotypical tourist shots (Dad peering into the nozzle of a giant Saturn engine), and felt like a part of the whole operation.  We even picked up some NASA patches from a gift shop and my Mom sewed them onto a pale blue jacket of mine.  It looked like (to my mind) a real astronaut jacket for going around the town and impressing people.  I wore it everywhere.

As I got older, I gradually discovered the realities of the Shuttle program and the ugly nature of political compromise.  It was like going to Disney Land as a kid, then realizing as a teenager that the guy in the Mickey costume lived in a bachelor apartment on a steady diet of mac and cheese.  The romantic view was gone.

So, on to the point of this post.  I am the King of reminiscence.  I love to watch old documentaries and movies that remind me of how I used to feel.

Well, today I happened to be flipping through the TV channels and saw “Hail Columbia!”, a documentary about the launch of the first Space Shuttle, Columbia, in 1981.  The film was released in 1982, so it is full of the feelings of hope and possibility that pervaded at the time.  Watching it gives you the feeling that something great is happening and that we’ll all be living on space station in a decade.

I highly recommend that everyone watch it, nasaphiles and normal humans alike.  It’s in IMAX, but it also shows up on HD channels from time to time, and is available on DVD from Amazon.

Czech it out.

 

TV’s Miles O’Brien: Real Person!

Miles O'Brien headshot from PBS

A real person.

You may know Miles from segments on CNN or PBS – he’s the go-to Science Guy (other than Bill Nye) for stories about rocket launches and other fun stuff.  Having only been exposed to his talking head role, I never envisioned that he was a “real person”… you know, able to drop pop culture references, use naughty language, etc.

Well, check this out:

Miles O’Brien.  Science guy.  Using the word “douchebag”, referencing Spın̈al Tap, discussing a show about meth cooks.

Excelsior to you, sir!

Video source:  boingboingPhoto source:  PBS

MST3K on YouTube!

Damn you, Internet!  I’m actively trying to do useful things with my life, and then YouTube shows me a pile of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and RiffTrax clips.  Time sink++.

For the uninitiated, MST3K and RiffTrax take horrible movies and add snarky/funny comments to the audio.  It’s like a strange drug that transports you to a nerd movie night.  MST3K was mostly older B- and Z-movies, whereas RiffTrax takes on recent releases (Twilight, The Dark Knight, the Star Wars prequels, etc.).

Here’s a taste.  The first hit is free.