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Syd
Posted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:26 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12714 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Spacewalk aka The Age of Pioneers is a 2017 docudrama about Alexei Leonov, Pavel Belyayev and the Vokshod 2 mission on which Leonov became the first person to do a spacewalk. The Americans have announced that they are going to have an astronaut do a spacewalk in several months, and the Russians want to beat them despite the Vokshod not being quite ready for prime time. Thus we have a space mission from hell, including most famously Leonov's space suit overinflating while he's spacewalking, making it impossible to enter the airlock. (Leonov cuts off communication at this point, panicking everybody, but, as he explains, if he went through protocol, he'd have been dead by the time mission control figured out to do.) He vented his spacesuit to enter the airlock only to discover the outer hatch hadn't sealed* and he had to turn around in the airlock, requiring venting even more air from the suit.

That's just one of maybe a dozen near-catastrophes that make me think Leonov and Belyayev died half a dozen times during the mission, and after when they make a manual** landing in Siberia and nearly freeze to death while the Soviets try to figure out where the hell they landed and whether they survived the landing. [Hint: Leonov was a consultant on the movie.] I suspect some of this is overdramatized, but maybe not. It was definitely a difficult mission, in some ways comparable to Apollo 13.

This is a nicely done movie which is considered a box-office bomb in Russia despite grossing considerably more than it cost to make. Basically, it didn't make back its advertising and distribution budget. Generally, it was well-received by critics and I recommend it.

Also included on the DVD is a discussion with the real Alexei Leonov, who is very engaging and full of information that didn't make it into the movie. He really looks and acts like an older version of the person who played him. Leonov died in October 2019 and was much missed by space enthusiasts.

*This was supposed to be automated but the automated system didn't activate.
**This was supposed to be automated but the automated system didn't activate. See what I mean about the space mission from hell?

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bartist
Posted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:25 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6759 Location: Black Hills
When people talk about differences between the US and Russian space programs, the anecdote that's stuck in my mind and seemed to nutshell everything nicely was the one about pens. NASA spent millions of dollars to engineer a pen that would write in microgravity.

The Russians used pencils.

Count me among those who will watch Spacewalk. Thanks for the recommend.

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Syd
Posted: Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:59 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12714 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
bartist wrote:
When people talk about differences between the US and Russian space programs, the anecdote that's stuck in my mind and seemed to nutshell everything nicely was the one about pens. NASA spent millions of dollars to engineer a pen that would write in microgravity.

The Russians used pencils.

Count me among those who will watch Spacewalk. Thanks for the recommend.


NASA went with space pens because graphite dust and pencil tips are not good for spacecraft. (Among other things, graphite conducts electricity and is flammable.) Russia adopted the space pen a few years later for the same reason. I don't know if they made their own or bought them from Fisher. By the way, the million was spent by Fisher, not NASA, to develop the ink and they surely made their money back since they were also a cultural item.

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gromit
Posted: Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:59 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8900 Location: Shanghai
...


Last edited by gromit on Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:01 am; edited 1 time in total

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gromit
Posted: Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:00 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8900 Location: Shanghai
The US military uses graphite bombs to short out power stations, transformers, power lines, etc.

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bartist
Posted: Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:15 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6759 Location: Black Hills
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/jun/17/robert-altmans-20-best-films-ranked

A list that I've seen only half the movies on, which makes it useful to me. Putting Nashville and Mrs Miller at the top engenders some trust. I don't know how I missed The Company, given that I like both dance and Neve Campbell. Some of the ones I've skipped were ones I was warned off of, but wonder if I should have risked them anyway, e. g. Popeye. A film I truly never imagined spotting on a "best of" list. The Player I think I just didn't get on first, and only, viewing in 1992, so maybe worth revisiting?

If no exploding pencils have disabled your computer, I would welcome any thoughts on Altman.

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gromit
Posted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 2:17 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8900 Location: Shanghai
I really don't get much out of Altman films. I have troubling connecting or getting involved with them. Altman mostly just gets a shrug out of me.

I think Nashville is weirdly overrated, though I like what it was trying to do. McCabe & Mrs. Miller gets a big shrug from me. And I've seen both of those 3 times, trying to see what the pull might be.

The Long Goodbye is maybe my favorite of a lot of films I don't care much about -- a shaggy tale with good supporting catwork. I was thinking maybe Atlantic City would be my 2nd favorite, but seems that was a Louis Malle film, and I probably confused that with Altman's Kansas City, which I might like.

M*A*S*H has a terrible pace, really drags and is an unfunny chore.
I rewatched Thieves Like Us somewhat recently, and it's very Altman , and I vaguely liked it, but sort of forgot it as soon as it finished.
Really my favorite Altman might be Tanner '88, at least the first few parts, then it gets a bit repetitive and kind of loses its momentum.

I'd like to see:
Come Back to the 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
Kansas City
Popeye
O.C. and Stiggs
Vincent & Theo

Though, as with much of Altman, it's entirely possible I've seen some of those and just forgot.

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gromit
Posted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 2:31 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8900 Location: Shanghai
Btw, Altman's movie set for Popeye still exists as Popeye Village on Malta. It's become a family friendly tourist park. I was in Malta in late Feb 2020, just as the CV-19 virus outbreak kicked off in Northern Italy (and Iran). We were in Malta for the Carnival and didn't get out of the capital Valletta much, and didn't really consider Popeye Village, though it would have been (somewhat) interesting to see perhaps.

Food was really good in Malta, and everything seasoned nicely with lots of herbs. All the service workers were from every corner of the globe -- can a globe have corners? -- Argentina, Angola, Ukraine, Nigeria, Lithuania, Philippines.

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bartist
Posted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:05 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6759 Location: Black Hills
OC & Stiggs is pretty awful, and I think is considered by many to be Altman's least successful film. IIRC, Jbottle and his alter ego Oilcanboyd (not the current Oilcan at Elba, btw, who is a friend who lives in Missouri) used to write whimsical paeans to the film and insist that it was a must-see for film buffs. Knowing that it was likely my leg was being pulled, I sought it out and have regretted it ever since.

Malta sounds like a good destination. And some zoologists believe that it was the earliest place that wildcats were domesticated. I figure any place Mediterranean will have pretty good food.

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Syd
Posted: Fri Jun 18, 2021 10:51 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12714 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
I rather liked Popeye, partly because I absolutely loved the look of the village, which looks like some towns in Maine. I'm happy to know it still exists And of course if you had to pick any actress in the world to play Olive Oyl it would have to be Shelley Duvall.

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gromit
Posted: Sat Jun 19, 2021 5:12 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8900 Location: Shanghai
An interesting bit of trivia, the Maltese language is primarily derived from Arabic. Maltese folks told us their language is about 70% Arabic-based. I would have thought it was related to Italian or Latin.

The Knights Hospitalers ran the show for some time under special dispensation from the Pope. Setting up one of the first modern hospitals, cliffside with 6 or 7 stories, most underground, and boats could row in patients. They basically standardized the Venetian 40 day quarantine.
(We couldn't take the tour, because some computer giant had rented it out for two days, and the day we were there they were dismantling and carting all their junk out).

Then The Knights Hospitalers decided it was more lucrative to join the Crusades as fighters -- rebranded as the Knights of Malta -- instead of just treating the wounded and sick. The magnificent St. John's Co-Cathedral -- more lavish than any church I've ever seen -- attests that their kill-and-pillage strategy worked out well for some.

There were a number of historic/horrific battles for Malta, mainly Christian Europeans v. Muslim Arabs. During one long and brutal siege, the Arabs started floating dead Maltese on wooden crosses into the main harbor to unsettle the Maltese, who responded by using captured and killed Arab heads as cannonballs. Very tasteful.

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gromit
Posted: Sat Jun 19, 2021 5:13 am Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8900 Location: Shanghai
Malta is actually 3 islands, with the tiny middle island home to something like 10 people and named after the coriander that proliferates there.

I'm not sure I've heard that about cat domestication. I always thought that dated back to Egypt. I think Malta did have a problem with cats wiping out lots of bird species, especially the ones who lay their eggs in the sand.

We actually travel the world feeding outdoor cats and birds (and sometimes dogs, horses camels . Our Robin Hood tactic is to swipe cold cuts and sausages, etc from the hotel breakfast buffet and feed the street felines we run across. Bread for the birds. It's often a nice way to meet some locals. I can't recall the cats in Malta. Probably because we stayed in two apartment rentals -- one was a big old mansion we had to ourselves -- so we didn't have any buffet or hotel to pilfer. While the noisy, crowded Carnivale probably kept most cats under wraps and out of the city center.

We ran into and fed plenty of cats in Cyprus, our next stop.
One thing peculiar, I expected to fly some small plane the 2 hours from Malta to Cyprus, but we wound up on some enormous Emirates jumbo jet which was largely empty. Kind of a mystery why such a huge intercontinental-style plane was making little island bunny hops across the Med. The inflight entertainment was top-drawer, and I wound up watching the first hour of The Last Black Man in San Francisco. I would have been able to fit it all in, if I had realized right away that the movie selection was really good.
The plane was real comfy and nearly empty, and I was enjoying a good film -- I wanted to stay on longer.
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As for Mediterranean food, I'd agree for southern Europe and Israel, where I've been, but I didn't care for the food in Morocco. I don't like couscous much -- pasta disguised as rice isn't a good idea -- which is a staple there. The stew-like tagines were okay, but I got tired of them after 2 or 3 gos. I was mostly happy when I could get pizza there.

Another problem is almost all of the vegetable dishes are cold, and my #1 health rule is not to eat cold food in developing countries (including China where I live). As a vegetarian, I had the same dilemma in Turkey and got through unscathed, but Morocco handed me a bout of food poisoning which meant that I wound up essentially missing Casablanca -- except for a Chinese restaurant and Rick's Cafe -- where I was laid up for a full day.

I've never been to Egypt and somewhat itchy to get there, despite it being back to a repressive military regime. But I assume I'd run into the same issue of cold vegetable dishes. I don't think vegetarianism has made much of a dent in the Muslim world.

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bartist
Posted: Sat Jun 19, 2021 8:25 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6759 Location: Black Hills
gromit wrote:
Malta is actually 3 islands, with the tiny middle island home to something like 10 people and named after the coriander that proliferates there.

I'm not sure I've heard that about cat domestication. I always thought that dated back to Egypt. I think Malta did have a problem with cats wiping out lots of bird species, especially the ones who lay their eggs in the sand....


I misremembered the Mediterranean island. It was Cyprus.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/oldest-known-pet-cat-9500-year-old-burial-found-on-cyprus

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Syd
Posted: Sat Jun 19, 2021 9:21 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12714 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
There's also a hypothesis that the Egyptians may have domesticated cats independently although they may have heard about the cats of Cyprus and decided it was a great idea. It's likely that they heard about writing in Mesopotamia and developed their own system which is why hieroglyphics don't look much like Mesopotamian writing styles.

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bartist
Posted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:14 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6759 Location: Black Hills
The reboot of The Invisible Man is loosely based on the Wells novel, and takes gaslighting and stalking as its major theme. While I can't fault Elizabeth Moss's performance (lots of terror and ruined eye makeup, until she turns the tables on her invisible abuser), the conclusion seems to land too easily on a vicious and cold revenge.

Tip for anyone seeking to ruin an invisibility suit: carry oil paint, not latex, with you. Harder to wash off quickly.

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