QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
Tag search results for 2014 Page 2 of 4

The Raid

I've been seeing people talk about the new Raid: 2. I haven't watched it yet, but the talk did prompt me to watch Raid: Redemption. I don't think there is a single plot point that is not cliche, but the very intense action keeps you well distracted from that. The perhaps most interesting aspect of this movie is taking the scenario of being behind enemy lines with no backup, and putting that in the tightly confined space of a single building.

It's a story of a police raid on a criminal enterprise. The cops start at 18 or 19 people, attempting to capture a crimelord on floor 15 of a large apartment building. The target has only force initially, mostly "spotters", but he has the ability to get reinforcements quickly from both internal recruitment (of residents) and external sharpshooters. Meanwhile the police — for plot significant reasons — have no backup options.

When the alarm is finally raised, after a spotter on floor five escapes, the situation gets nasty. Close fighting with guns, knives, machetes, and hand to hand under a variety of indoor conditions. When chopping a hole through the floor to jump down to an unknown situation is the best of your bad options, you know you have a lot of problems.

The DVD I watched had a lot of special features, a pleasant change from the barely any on many I watch these days. The package boasts "Over an hour", but some of that is putting the same intro/outro sequence on each of the six "video blog" segments. Still, it was good stuff, showing how the director works, how the filming was done (eg, the camera handoff between two DPs for the "hole drop" scene), and talking about budget limitations. In one of his interviews the director, Gareth Evans, mentions that the one vehicle they use on screen is a redressed piece of junk that needed to be push started. He had only one chance to film it getting destroyed.

Raid: Redemption was filmed on an estimated US.1 million budget in Jakarta. It gets a lot of mileage out of that budget. The budget for Raid: 2 is about US million, also in Jakarta. I imagine Gareth Evans found good ways to use the extra money.

Four bullets in five chambers.

The claycat version of the movie was one of the special features on the DVD...

on Youtube

I was reminded of J. G. Ballard's High Rise at one point

T-Rex and the Crater of Doom

T-Rex and the Crater of Doom
by Walter Alvarez

Walter Alvarez at wikipedia

Walter Alvarez (born October 3, 1940) is a professor in the Earth and Planetary Science department at the University of California, Berkeley. He is most widely known for the theory that dinosaurs were killed by an asteroid impact, developed in collaboration with his father, Nobel Prize winning physicist Luis Alvarez.

A couple of months ago I saw a recommendation for the Crater of Doom book, but I can't recall where. The selling point that worked for me is that it's a very readable book about the history of the theory that an impact caused the death of the dinosaurs. (And many other things at the end of the Cretaceous.)

I found the first person style grating at first, but then I either got used to it, or it improved. The book covers his first inklings of a theory developed in the late seventies until, a couple of years after the discovery of a suitable impact crater on Earth, the Shoemaker–Levy comet hit Jupiter.

Besides the process of formulating a theory from the confusing evidence the various scientists involved had, the book covers how the science of geology has evolved from this process. When geologists believed the world was around 6000 years old, the massive damage seen from shifted rock layers led to "catastrophism" theories to explain this damage. Upon a shift to believing the world to be much, much older (but before knowing how old), geologists switched to "gradualism" which held that except for the very start of the world, things moved slowly.

Plate tectonics was the major shake-up before Chicxulub, initially resisted by geologists until it was shown to also be a gradual change, and then more widely accepted. But gradualists didn't want to consider that the Cretaceous might have ended in a day, and instead countered with theories that put it as a 0.5 to 3 million-year event. The Deccan Traps were created by volcanic action over about that long at about that time in history.

With a crater found at Chicxulub, the ejected debris and evidence of materials shifted by a massive tsunami all layered neatly around it, and all precisely after the Cretaceous layers and before the Tertiary layers, gradualists had to recognize that there were still some catastrophic events impacting (pun unintended) the world.

The book is about 150 pages of main text, and another 50 of notes, most of the notes here are academic citations not asides about the text. A quick read that I found very informative.

6 parts iridium per billion out of 8.

An aside of my own: Chicxulub is pronounced cheek-shoe-lube, so "Chicxulub Crater" makes me think of that passphase generation method presented in (xkcd "correct horse battery staple", a passphrase I find myself unable to remember, in contrast to the last sentence of the comic). And the description of what the immediate effects of the impact would have been like remind me of several xkcd "What if" exercises, such as the first with the near light-speed baseball.

Final thought: has much different passphrase generation methods

Muppets Most Wanted

Good stuff, not great, but good. I think seeing Danny Trejlo and Ray Liotta (among others) performing "I Hope I Get It" from A Chorus Line during a prison variety show rehersal is alone reason enough to watch this movie. As might be expected from the previous sentence (or the word "Muppets" in the movie title), this film has a lot of well-known people in small roles and makes countless references to other movies / TV shows / Broadway shows.

You probably know if you will like this film or not already. Three out of four hours of an EU standard lunch break.

Final thought: whose wife was disappointed no song here equaled "Man or a Muppet"

Alternate ending with post-credits dialog for The Muppets (1979): watch on Youtub

And speaking of the Muppets, I watched this ~50 minute piece on the making of the show last week:

Making of the Muppets on Youtube

(There are multiple copies on youtube, I'm not 100% sure it was that link.)

Probably no big surprises for anyone, but good if you like that sort of behind the scenes stuff.

Final thought: Link Hogthrob being performed by Jim Henson was a minor surprise

Swiss Family Robinson

My opinion on The Swiss Family Robinson (the book) is that it is a load of crap.

SFR is based on pedagogical stories written by a pastor for his kids. The few characters who are not part of the family are one- dimensional villians. And except for the initial ship wreck, the family has no end of good luck. No other shipmates survive, but animals, guns, gunpowder, many tools, and other stores etc, are easily recovered from the wreck. Need to climb? Find some shark skin to make climbing gear. Need salt? Find a salt cave. Need meat? Find large mammals.

Anything following Swiss Family Robinson too closely is likely to be a lousy book.

Final thought: has no memory of watching any of the SFR movies