Simply Irrational

Tomorrow is the 14th day of March, 2015. In American notation, we’d call this 3-14-15. Twice, at 9:26 AM and PM (3.1415926), I will go out of my way to be irrational. You should, too.

I’m giving serious thought to inviting some folks over to discuss mathematics, chaos, irrationality, magic, and science. Ponder that pi need only be expressed to 39 digits past the decimal in order to accurately calculate aspects of the size of the universe, yet the digits go on and on and on. Eat circular food. Apply circular logic to complex problems. Perhaps we’ll even discuss tau (τ, or 2π) and hope that one of us is passionate enough about irrational numbers to spark an irrational debate.


Promotional picture from Neil Blomkamp's film, Chappie

Promotional picture from Neil Blomkamp’s film, Chappie

I don’t see a whole lot of movies in the theater. For the most part, I find the seats to be uncomfortable, the room to be unpleasant, and the other people to be distracting. I dislike that I cannot pause the show to go have a smoke or get a refill, that the theater is kept at a temperature I find difficult to endure, that the other patrons are allowed to wear perfume–and all this after I’ve been charged a $10 entrance fee and another $10 over-packaged concessions.

Theaters aren’t really my thing. I’m more of a Netflix guy than a United Artists guy. So it’s unusual that I actually take time off to do that.

It’s much easier to work myself into that when the entrance fee isn’t mine to provide, and I’m being brought to the event by my boss, who demands I charge the hours I’m missing from work to the corporate account. And also he bought V.I.P. tickets (those exist?), which offered much better seats than the common peasant enjoys.

So, I met Chappie.

Neill Blomkamp is, without a doubt, a talented storyteller. This is the second film of his I’ve seen (this and “District 9”), and he clearly has a particular method to his madness. For the most part, his main goal of looking at childhood through the lens of science fiction is met. The genre is at its best when examining the topics we take for granted today through the eyes of a non-human. Steven Spielberg tried to have this same conversation with the audience in “A.I”., but did not succeed in nearly the same capacity as Blomkamp has with “Chappie.”

Where Blomkamp tends to stumble is when he decides to tell more than one story. He very artfully creates this wonderful character in Chappie (voiced & motion-captured by Sharlto Copley), explores how the very first artificial intelligence might explore sentience, then asks the audience to care about the two murderous thugs (played by the two member South African band Die Antwoord) who become his surrogate parents when his creator has to go back to work. And also there’s an ex-soldier engineer (Hugh Jackman) who has to act villainous without justification or escalation. And Sigourney Weaver is there, too, in the most wooden performance I’ve ever seen from her. And there are other villains, but they’re opposed to the murderous good guys–other gang members, one of whom is owed twenty million dollars (for reasons) by our Mommy and Daddy Die Antwoord.

So in the end, you just root for Chappie and his creator (Dev Patel), who are absolutely the only innocent people in the film, and who are treated to the absolute worst in humanity without any reason.

I sound more critical than I feel. I enjoyed the film, overall, and I’m glad I didn’t really have any expectations–and if you plan to see it in the theater, I’d recommend you do the same.



Dr. Kila Marr, from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5, Episode 4, "Silicon Avatar"

Dr. Kila Marr, from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5, Episode 4, “Silicon Avatar”

I’ve watched Star Trek my whole life, and The Next Generation series almost non-stop since it first went on the air. Every week a new episode came out, we’d have the TV on during dinner to make sure we didn’t miss anything. It was a thing I remember fondly from my time living at home.

Probably wasn’t until a couple years ago that I noticed this “veteran” (Geordie LaForge makes this analysis of her abilities just a few minutes after this scene) of 24th Century Federation technology, Dr. Kila Marr, spent a good deal of time analyzing a cave by pointing her tricorder at herself.

I was really, honestly hoping that the new enhanced version (formatted to HD, remixed sound, etc) would’ve corrected this error.


Saturday Diversions

Got a pair of cooking shows that you simply must watch. No actual cooking was harmed during the making of these videos.

These two women kept me in stitches for the entire six-episode first season, and I am dying to see what they get into next.

I have found Richard E. Grant to be highly watchable in all shows I’ve seen of his (I admit a certain guilty pleasure regarding the classic comedy Hudson Hawk with a devastatingly handsome Bruce Willis), and this show, Posh Nosh, is no exception. A clever send-up of the high-class cooking show, starting with a most pretentious fish and chips. All eight episodes (this was made in 2003) are available on YouTube.