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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jupiter DIRECT... Just thought I'd give props to the webmaster of NASAWatch.com for summing up how I myself feel about a rocket that’s been discussed on space-related message boards for the past few years: the Jupiter DIRECT, or just 'DIRECT', launch vehicle. I’m not gonna go into any technical detail about DIRECT (since I would essentially be promoting this fantasy rocket if I did), but the way some of its supporters—or ‘fanboys’ according to the NASAWatch webmaster, Keith Cowing—fawn over this vehicle on online message boards (particularly that of NASASpaceflight.com) would make you think that DIRECT was God’s gift to human spaceflight.


If there’s (currently) one good thing that came from President Obama’s plan to scrap the Constellation moon program, it’s that NASA will have to rely on commercial launch vehicles to send astronauts into space...taking a ‘shuttle-derived launch vehicle’ (SDLV) like DIRECT out of the equation. The only SDLVs that I would've supported were the ones NASA was developing before Obama changed its plans: the Ares I and V rockets. I would totally be annoyed if NASA gave serious thought to building a contraption that was conjured up by some chump on the Web. The way that several space fanboys talk about DIRECT is analogous to the way lots of movie fanboys (I’d include myself in this group, admittedly) talk about upcoming summer blockbusters: Getting into serious discussions about what they want to see and hope will be in the film...to the point where they start accepting rumors or ideas that are posted online as fact...and then realizing at the end that the powers-that-be in Hollywood created a final product that is totally far from what the fanboys visualized.

Case in point with that final (long-ass) sentence in the previous paragraph: The next Batman film. Type in ‘Batman 3’ on Google, and you’ll see rumors about Johnny Depp playing The Riddler, or Philip Seymour-Hoffman portraying The Penguin. Admittedly again, I’ve been guilty of writing fan fiction about the next Batman flick a few years back, but according to the NASAWatch article linked to at the top of this Blog, at least I would never write letters to Warner Bros. and/or plan to picket outside this studio to make the executives go with my ideas.

(If you’re too lazy to check out that NASAWatch article, it's about how the creator of DIRECT proposed to conduct a protest rally outside the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and sent letters to White House officials and other folks in Washington D.C. to influence space policy)

To end this entry... When it comes down to it, space advocates can keep harping on about a launch vehicle that they want to see become a reality, but NASA—like filmmakers working on the next Hollywood tentpole flick—will come up with its own rocket when the time (and money) comes. Fanboys on spaceflight and film message boards should realize that 97% percent of the time, an idea that they’re concocting online will remain just that: an Internet concoction.

That is all.

An artist concept of a 'Jupiter DIRECT' launch vehicle.

PS: That final 3% would be fanboys providing input on such movies as 2002’s Spider-Man (Peter Parker having biological webshooters instead of mechanical ones), 2006’s Snakes on a Plane (Samuel L. Jackson saying "motherf**kin" a couple of times in the film after it wasn’t originally in the script) and Transformers 2 (a ‘Pretender’ robot—played by Isabel Lucas—being included in this movie).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

HUBBLE 3D theatrical movie poster.

HUBBLE 3D... Last Saturday, I drove down to the California Science Center in downtown Los Angeles to watch the new IMAX film...which contains footage that was shot by astronauts during the Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission (flight STS-125) last year. It was a great documentary! It’s always awesome to see and hear a majestic space shuttle launch on a 7-story-high IMAX screen, and I enjoyed the visual FX that was used to bring several Hubble images of the cosmos to 3rd dimensional life. The scene depicting a primordial solar system being born in the Orion Nebula was the best one.

A screenshot of astronauts training for the Hubble servicing mission (shuttle flight STS-125) in HUBBLE 3D.

This is the 5th space documentary that I’ve seen on IMAX. Other flicks include Blue Planet, Destiny in Space, Space Station 3D and Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D (the last two of which I saw during my trip to NASA's Kennedy Space Center last year). A non-space documentary I saw on IMAX was 1998’s Everest...which was narrated by Liam Neeson. Speaking of narrators, the only gripe I have about Hubble 3D was Leonardo DiCaprio doing the voiceover. Stick to acting, Mr. DiCaprio. He seemed as out of place talking about space exploration as Tom Cruise did in Space Station 3D (Mr. Katie Holmes did the narration for this film). Where’s Morgan Freeman (or Neeson again, for that matter) when you need him?

Other than that, I’d totally watch Hubble 3D again...and I’ll even buy it on DVD when it gets released. Two thumbs up.

A screenshot of astronauts working on the Hubble Space Telescope during STS-125, in HUBBLE 3D.

All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures / IMAX Filmed Entertainment / NASA

Monday, March 29, 2010

24 logo.

THE DAY IS AT AN END... I just found out that FOX is gonna cancel 24 after this season (Season 8...or Day 8) ends. On one hand, I’m sad to see this show go. On the other hand, I’m relieved...since I’ve been taking Monday nights off from work for the past 5 years to watch Jack Bauer kick terrorist ass. I wonder how much money I would’ve made if I worked Monday evenings between mid-January and late May since Day 4 aired (in 2005)? Hmmm.

Anyways, I’ve read online that a feature film for 24 may be in the works. That would be awesome. Of course, that kinda spoils the finale to this season in that it would clearly mean that Bauer doesn’t bite the dust at the end of the day. That's obviously good news...unless the movie is gonna be a prequel. And before you ask (not that I’d hear the question), I DO think this season is going pretty well so far. It started off slowly, but the episodes are becoming more intense. Go Jack!

Jack Bauer will be saving the world for his 8th and last time on TV.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Rob Corddry and John Cusack freak out over a hot tub in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE... I saw the new comedy flick today, and if you like movies like this one and She’s Out of My League, then you’ll enjoy it. I happen to like these kinds of films, so I enjoyed it! Haha. Craig Robinson (of NBC’s The Office) and Rob Corddry (of...Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay) crack me up, and John Cusack plays his usual role as the level-headed goofball who still happens to get the hot chicks. Speaking of hot chicks, there were many in Hot Tub Time Machine: Lyndsy Fonseca, Lizzy Caplan (of Cloverfield and...HBO’s True Blood. Nice. Google ‘Lizzy Caplan True Blood’ to know why this is nice), Collette Wolfe (who was also in last year's Seth Rogen film Observe and Report), Crystal Lowe (who was in an episode of TV’s Supernatural), Julia Maxwell and Amy Esterle. In case you’re wondering how I know all these names in the film, thank the person who invented IMDb.

John Cusack and Lizzy Caplan share a moment in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

If there’s one lame little gripe I have about the film, it’s that why would Craig Robinson and his friends go into that hot tub when it was in dilapidated condition moments before? Wouldn’t they have found it odd that after finding a dead raccoon in the empty Jacuzzi upon arrival at that ski resort, it’s suddenly filled with warm, bubbling water? And they nonchalantly enter the water without questioning this abrupt change? Hmm. Anyways, as I said before...this gripe is lame. It’s like pointing out why Ricky Ricardo didn’t leave or bitch-slap Lucy after all those screwball moments she had in I Love Lucy, or how Ben Stiller didn't feel that, um, piece of bodily-fluid land on his ear after "floggin’ the dolphin" in There’s Something About Mary. Because they’re freakin’ comedies! That is all.

UPDATE (April 1): Actually, here's a more specific I Love Lucy example: In that episode where Lucy (after getting into a huge fight with Ricky over who forgave first in a previous argument) is wrapped up in bandages inside her bedroom to pretend she was hit by a bus, and Ricky and Fred Mertz stage a fake fire in the apartment so that Ricky can come in and rescue Lucy, and all will be well between them... Wouldn't Lucy have asked a loud "WHAT THE F**K?" when she exits the bedroom, only to see that the apartment was completely unscathed? Wait to think things through on your plan, Fred. And by Fred, I mean the show's scriptwriters.

Collette Wolfe is propositioned by Rob Corddry in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

Craig Robinson and Co. pretend they're Russians to get out of a sticky situation in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

PREDATORS.

PREDATORS... Check out the newest trailer to this Robert Rodriguez-produced flick...which is the latest installment in the classic sci-fi action/horror franchise. I first saw this preview in front of Repo Men last Saturday. Speaking of Repo Men, Alice Braga—who was Jude Law’s main squeeze in that movie (and also the gal who both saved Will Smith's life and almost got him killed in 2007's I Am Legend)—will also be in Predators. So will Topher Grace, Laurence Fishburne and Adrien Brody. Interesting cast... Well, except for Grace. This film looks like it has potential. I never saw any of the two Alien vs. Predator movies, FYI. I'm pretty sure I'm not missing out.

Predators comes out in theaters on July 7.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

VMS Eve and VSS Enterprise lift off on their first captive carry flight in California on March 22, 2010.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY... Yesterday, Scaled Composites’ White Knight II (a.k.a. VMS Eve) and SpaceShipTwo (a.k.a. VSS Enterprise) took off on their very first "captive carry" flight from an airfield in California’s Mojave Desert. This 2-hour, 54-minute flight started what is scheduled to be a year-long series of airborne tests for the private spaceliner. If things go well, SpaceShipTwo will begin suborbital flights into space in 2011...and the vehicle should begin ferrying paying customers 68 miles above Earth later that year, or early 2012.

If I was one of those 300+ lucky SOBs who already shelled out $200,000 to ride onboard the Enterprise, I’d totally be more ecstatic. But I didn't, so I won't. But these vehicles sure are cool.

A close-up of VSS Enterprise attached underneath its mothership.

The VMS Eve and VSS Enterprise in the wild blue yonder.

The VMS Eve and VSS Enterprise soar above California's Mojave Desert.

The VMS Eve and VSS Enterprise about to land at Mojave Air and Spaceport in California.

All images courtesy of Virgin Galactic / Scaled Composites

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lisa Simpson meets the First Lady in last night's episode of THE SIMPSONS.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT... 1.) What would John McCain have done (in terms of the whole health care reform issue that apparently reached a climax last night) if he got elected? 2.) What was up with that whole Michelle Obama arse-kissing fest on yesterday's episode of The Simpsons if she didn't even do her own voice (Angela Bassett supplied the voice of the First Lady)? And 3.) Kogi chicken tacos are good. You’d have to live in Southern California to know what I’m talking about.


Eating a Kogi BBQ chicken taco.  Yum.

PS: I voted for McCain in ’08...so really, what would he have done?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

REPO MEN.

YESTERDAY, I saw the gory action thriller Repo Men (starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker), and I’m still pondering about how I feel about the ending. Was it a neat twist? Or was it totally f**ked up that the audience was watching a friggin’ dream during the entire final half of the movie? This reminds me of that one Family Guy episode where Stewie finally manages to kill Lois...only for us to find out that this was actually happening in a fantasy Stewie had while wearing a pair of virtual reality goggles. And Brian the dog told him afterwards that this plot device was cheating the audience, much like how the ending to the final episode of HBO's The Sopranos screwed over the fans (I never watched the TV show...but I heard that this episode concluded with a cut to black in the middle of an intense scene). What were we talking about again? Oh yea— Repo Men was okay. I wait for the day when people can actually get ear transplants (like in the movie) that come with a built-in socket where you can plug in an earphone. You heard right.

Stewie and Lois battle it out in a 2007 episode of FAMILY GUY.

I also watched She’s Out of My League (for free, that is). I like how the screenwriters took advantage of the whole "romance flick ends with guy and girl making up at an airport" cliché by actually having the main dude (Jay Baruchel...best known for his role as one of Seth Rogen’s douchie friends in Knocked Up) work at an airport. This movie was a’ight as well... Alice Eve and Lindsay Sloane are hot. ‘Nuff said.

Kirk (Jay Baruchel) and Molly (Alice Eve) discuss hockey in SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shakira looking amazing in her new 'Gypsy' music video.

VIDEO OF THE DAY... Check out this hot music video by Shakira for her song "Gypsy". Not to sound presumptuous, but it seems like some airbrushing was done on that see-thru outfit she’s wearing...just to make this clip PG-rated. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then oh well.
Shakira looking amazing in her new 'Gypsy' music video.

The lucky SOB who gets to be touchy-feely with Shakira in this video is Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

All 9 'Merlin' engines ignite on the FALCON 9 rocket during a hotfire test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 13, 2010.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY... Since a flawless first launch of this rocket would somehow validate President Obama’s (crappy) decision to cancel the Ares rockets and the rest of NASA’s Constellation moon program last month, just thought I’d post up pics of the successful "hotfire" test of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle yesterday. The hotfire test involved the ignition of all 9 Merlin engines that comprise the first stage of the rocket. The engines fired for only 3.5 seconds, put presumably this was enough time for SpaceX to verify whether or not its newest vehicle (SpaceX's other one being the Falcon 1 rocket) will be ready for a maiden flight that is currently scheduled for April 12. We shall see.

FYI, an on-time launch of Falcon 9 on April 12 would be pretty symbolic...since Columbia ushered in the space shuttle era with the liftoff of STS-1 on April 12, 1981...and Falcon 9 will be ushering in a new age of commercial spaceflight to—low earth orbit. But not to deep space. That’s NASA’s job assuming it gets proper funding from Obama and Congress starting next year. Most likely not.

All images courtesy of SpaceX / Chris Thompson

All 9 Merlin engines ignite on the FALCON 9 rocket during a hotfire test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 13, 2010.

All 9 Merlin engines ignite on the FALCON 9 rocket during a hotfire test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 13, 2010.

All 9 Merlin engines ignite on the FALCON 9 rocket during a hotfire test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, on March 13, 2010.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A screenshot from the IRON MAN 2 theatrical trailer.

IRON MAN 2... Check out the newest trailer to this upcoming blockbuster, which comes out in theaters on May 7. This trailer was released online right after the Academy Awards last Sunday. War Machine is lookin’ cooler and cooler with each new footage that gets released...though it’s a bit odd that Scarlett Johansson doesn’t speak at all in this preview. Hopefully her dialogue will be as good as she looks in Iron Man 2, though that may be asking for too much. I liked her in Lost in Translation and The Island though.



Below are my customary screencaps from the trailer, in case you couldn't tell.


Screenshots from the IRON MAN 2 theatrical trailer.
Screenshots from the IRON MAN 2 theatrical trailer.
Screenshots from the IRON MAN 2 theatrical trailer.
Screenshots from the IRON MAN 2 theatrical trailer.

Images courtesy of Marvel Characters, Inc. / Paramount

Thursday, March 11, 2010

HUBBLE 3D... I’m lookin’ forward to this new space documentary, which gets released in IMAX theaters next week (on March 19). The trailer below was first shown in front of Avatar at IMAX (or should I say, "fake" IMAX) screenings last December. Kinda weird seeing NASA documentaries being advertised at regular AMC theaters and whatnot...but I'm glad America's space program is getting this kind of exposure.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

A U.S. Army bomb tech is on the move in the 2010 Best Picture winner, THE HURT LOCKER.

82nd ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS... Congrats to Kathryn Bigelow and the rest of the crew behind The Hurt Locker for tonight’s 6 Oscar wins, including one for Best Picture (duh)! Pretty much the only Academy Award that Avatar truly deserved was for Best Visual FX...which it received. And props to Christoph Waltz on winning the Best Supporting Actor award for Inglourious Basterds, and Sandra Bullock on winning an Oscar for The Blind Side. She won a Razzie Award (for All About Steve) AND an Academy Award on the same weekend. Good for her.

Kathryn Bigelow holds the Academy Award trophy that she won for Best Director on THE HURT LOCKER.

Did District 9 win anything tonight? No? Oh well. It’s still kewl in my book.

Christoph Waltz in his Oscar-winning portrayal of Nazi SS officer Hans Landa in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.

Sandra Bullock shows off the Oscar trophy that she won for Best Actress on THE BLIND SIDE.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) peeks into the rabbit hole in ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND... I watched Tim Burton’s latest flick today, and with the exception of some moments (most of them towards the end) in the movie, I was disappointed. After being immersed in the awesome world of Pandora that was created by James Cameron in Avatar, I was underwhelmed by Burton’s depiction of Wonderland...possibly because the visual FX in Alice in Wonderland was pretty poor. I read an article late last year about how Burton was in a rush to complete this latest reincarnation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale in time for opening weekend... I didn’t know he was in that much of a bind. Just watching this movie made me realize that Avatar should at least win the Oscar for Best Visual FX tomorrow.

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

Acting-wise, there was nothing special to note in the film. Johnny Depp’s portrayal as the Mad Hatter pales in comparison to his funny portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies...despite the bizarre look Burton gave to the Hatter in this flick. Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean, there were lots of moments in Alice in Wonderland where I (and most likely a couple of other people in the theater audience) couldn’t hear or understand a damn thing some of the characters were saying (some of this due to Danny Elfman’s music score playing essentially nonstop throughout the movie). This problem was also prevalent when I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006 and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005. These two flicks were also let-downs.

The Mad Hatter and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) watch as Alice marches off to battle in ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

Helen Bonham Carter’s portrayal of the Red Queen was the one positive thing that stood out from Burton’s movie (FYI, Carter and Burton are domestic partners in real life. Just thought I’d share). It might be attributed to her huge honkin' head in this film. Mia Wasikowska, who plays Alice, is very attractive...but performance-wise? Think Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace to know what I’m about to say.


The March Hare in ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

One last note... What’s up with that song that played during the end credits of the movie? It totally didn’t suit the film. To give props to James Cameron again: At least he was shrewd enough to have Celine Dion incorporate James Horner’s main love theme from Titanic into her song "My Heart Will Go On", and again have Leona Lewis incorporate Horner’s love theme from Avatar into her song "I See You" (which, admittedly, still seemed out of place at the end of the sci-fi epic, haha). And Linkin Park and Steve Jablonsky collaborated on the score for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen...with the song "New Divide" being the main music theme for the Michael Bay sequel. Anyways. That is all.

The characters of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.  Looks like the White Queen is trying to cop a feel.

Monday, March 01, 2010

IMAGE OF THE DAY... The Mariana Trench (the deepest part of all of Earth's oceans): to scale, that is. Courtesy of the I Am Bored website. 'Cause you know, I was bored when I posted this. Click to enlarge.

The Mariana Trench...to scale.
I-Am-Bored.com