Thursday, July 30, 2009

Wordless definitions: Naptime

Awwwww, aren't they cute? I wish I had time for a nap, but I have a few details to manage before we leave for vacation on Saturday: review and invoice a job, do the laundry, get my haircut, donate blood, shop for supplies, pack for the trip, update the SCBWI website, leave instructions for the cat sitter, make sure Boy packs, clean out the fridge.... Good thing I'm going on vacation, I'll need it just to recover from the preparations. If I can manage, I may leave a few funny pictures to post automatically while I'm gone. If not, this blog may be quiet for a while. But I haven't really had any time off this year (one of the disadvantages of working from home, you're always at work) so keeping my faithful readers* entertained is not high on my priority list. So I'll be back in about ten days, hopefully with more pictures and stories to share.

*all six of you, half of whom will be at camp with me

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More science, please.

Something rare happened the other night: Boy and I looked at our TIVO list, saw the second part of a miniseries, and looked at each other and said, "delete this, right?" It's a rare thing, because I almost always will stick with a story to find out the ending, even if it's poorly written/acted/filmed. Sometimes it's even fun to watch something trashy, in that so-bad-it's-good way. Boy and I call these kinds of programs "Cheesy goodness," and apply that label most often to disaster movies.

Ah, disaster movies. We can't get enough of them. My excuse is that I'm a child of the '70s, and grew up in a time when disaster movies were enjoying unprecedented popularity. The Towering Inferno? Loved it. The Poseidon Adventure? Ate it up. Earthquake with Sensurround*? I still remember feeling the seats in the old Michigan Theater shake. Boy, of course, is a boy. When he was little, he was fascinated by disasters; destruction was even better than construction. We watched a lot of Discovery Channel; if there was a volcano/tornado/hurricane/earthquake/meteor strike, he was fascinated. There was a renaissance of sorts of the disaster movie in the late '90s, so we watched them all: Deep Impact, Armageddon, Volcano, Dante's Peak ... so cheesy, but such fun to watch all the destruction!

Television networks believe that summer is the best time to dump their cheesy disaster flicks, which often look like an episode of the Love Boat, with all the network's various series stars showing up to take parts. In 2004 NBC aired 10.5, about a super-duper killer earthquake, and followed that up two years later with a sequel, 10.5: Apocalypse. We wallowed in the cheesy goodness. It was stupid and totally predictable, but that was part of the fun.

So we were excited this summer when not one but two (because of course no television network comes up with anything original, or if they do they soon kill it) miniseries were scheduled to air about big space objects hitting the earth. The first one aired on ABC; called Impact, it featured a celestial object striking the moon, sending big chunks our way. It got a little out there when it turned out the object that hit the moon was a brown dwarf that made our gravity go crazy, but overall it was just as advertised: cheesy goodness. I'm willing to suspend disbelief quite a long way as long as I get lots of destruction, with scientists predictably saving the day.

Our first sign that NBC's earth-meets-space-object miniseries, Meteor, might not be up to even our low standards came in the very first shot: a large, rocky object sailing through the darkness of space, trailing gas and making whooshing noises. "Hey," Boy said, "that's dumb. There's no air to carry sound in space!" I snorted and kept watching the first pieces of meteor hit in California overnight. Things went boom! Yay! I kept watching, between increasingly ridiculous predicaments facing a various characters—a couple of which had nothing to do with the meteor—as over the next ten hours of story as all the meteor pieces kept hitting in the same town in California.

Okay, I'm willing to suspend disbelief to a certain point, but you're telling me the scriptwriters couldn't be bothered to incorporate what Copernicus discovered in the 16th century, that the earth revolves around the sun and rotates on its axis? (Thus meaning that any meteor fragments would be land at different points the earth, "traveling" like the sunrise.) By the time the ingenue scientist had survived running out of gas, having her mentor splatted by a van, encountering thugs who had taken over a police station and tried to rape her, and being imprisoned by border patrol, only to have the car taking her and her vital data to safety be struck by a meteor-ignited gas hauler, I'd had enough. If there isn't any science in your science fiction**/disaster flick, if you're going to treat me like I'm really that stupid, I can't be bothered.

Good thing Wipeout is on tonight; Boy and I will watch something mindless that doesn't insult us.

*Sensurround, aka souped-up subwoofers, was pioneered in Earthquake, actually winning the film an Oscar for best sound.
**Don't get me started on the atrocity that is Total Recall. I could rant for days on the errors in that film.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Photo of the Week--7/27/09

We had a full day to spend exploring the area around Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, before leaving on our cruise to Antarctica. We took a taxi to a ski lift which took us up to the Martial Glacier. Being early summer, there was still quite a bit of snow on the glacier, although there was enough meltwater to create lovely streams running down the mountainside. Quite a nice way to get acclimated to the southern season, I think.