Just got back from seeing The Martian, the movie mentioned
two posts back. I’m going to show a serious nerd streak here, but I am what
I liked it.
I liked it. I didn’t love it.
I went into it knowing that it would not be the book, but I was made
a little optimistic by the fact that almost everything in the trailers I saw I remembered
as being in the book. It mostly delivered, tho parts were confusing.
One of the things that is really good about the book is the technical accuracy, while
managing to be a gripping story with drama and suspense. The movie couldn’t have all
that in it, but it went into some of the technical stuff and then did it so badly that
it removed me from the moment.
The other thing I hated was that characters seems to be doing things they weren’t
technically supposed to do. Some of this was just because I knew who said which
lines in the book, and in the move someone else said it. This is minor.
More major is when character roles get mixed up because the big name actor has to have
specific lines, and be the one to save the day. This is standard movie crap and is a
standard gripe of mine. Lewis has
to save Mark at the end, because Jessica Chastain is the biggest name in that scene.
Teddy has to
be the one doing all the new conferences, and gets most of Annie’s good lines, because
Jeff Bridges is the biggest name in the earth part of the movie. Never mind
Beck is the EVA specialist, and Annie is the media relations person. I suspect
that the only reason Teddy didn’t fly up and save Watney himself was because they’d
already made a big deal about the distances and times it took to travel to Mars.
The book doesn’t suffer from “the biggest actor is always better at something than
the person that’s supposed to do it”, because it is a book. The movie does, and I
don’t think it needed to, or should have. I have this same complaint about movies
that don’t come from books, or come from books I haven’t read.
The acting. Matt Damon did a good job of being the optimistic smart-ass from the
book, without being unreasonably happy at all the things that happen to him that
aren’t all that happy. Everyone else delivered, for the most part too.
I am often of the opinion that Matt Damon is right only for certain roles. When
I found out he was cast as Mark Watney for this movie, I didn’t think he was the
right actor. But having now seen the movie, I gotta say: he was perfect.
Ridley Scott made an absolutely beautiful movie. The whole thing was visually
awesome. I also feel like this was the first good movie Scott has made in a while.
Despite the nit picking I do below, I think they did a really good job of removing
aspects of the story in the book to get this to fit into a movie and still be faithful
to the book. We didn’t need the hydrogen scare, or all the time Watney spends in the
detached airlock. The pop tents and all the ways they are used wasn’t needed. It
would have taken a mini-series to do the whole trip to the Schiaparelli Crater, with
the dust storm and the roll-over, and I didn’t miss any of it at all in the movie.
I also liked that Watney just would sit and look at the scenery in his suit, or sleep
under the Rover, even tho in the book it is stated that hey only has 1500 hours of
EVA time. This departure from technical accuracy made me smile, and identify with
Watney all the more, because I would totally blow my EVA time looking at the scenery.
Let the Nit-Picking Begin:
For the most part, it had the things in it that had to be in it. But some of
of what to keep and what to drop for time confused me. There were things
that worked really well in the book, that didn’t work at all in the movie.
The “Fonz” joke didn’t work at all in the movie. There was no sign saying “Aaaayyy”,
and you can clearly see his face, making Annie requesting a picture of his face a
really buy Jessica Chastain as a misson commander, but otherwise I think she did a
The explosion from his attempt at reducing hydrazine was actually two things in
the book combined in a way that made no sense in the movie. He said the explosion
was from the
oxygen coming from his mask, but I don’t remember him wearing one. Even if he had
been, making water by reducing the hydrazine and burning the hydrogen requires
oxygen in the atmosphere, so a little more coming from his breath wouldn’t cause an
explosion he wasn’t going to have otherwise.
Having said that, I agree the “Great Hydrogen Scare of Sol 37” was too technical to
be in the film. As much as I liked that explosion and his log entry about it, I
would have skipped the whole thing for the movie, and just let him make water without
Why did he have to cut a hole in the rover and make a balloon? In the book it is
because the life support equipment is too tall to fit in the trailer rover. In
all that stuff is outside on the back. They could have left that out completely.
The only possible reason to have it would have been for him to kill Pathfinder with
the drill, but they didn’t do that either.
For that matter, why is “hab canvas” really obviously just plastic sheeting? They
couldn’t come up with something more “canvas-y” looking?
Why does Hermes, a nuclear-powered spacecraft, have
enormous solar panels? It doesn’t need any, it has a reactor for power.
They even mention sealing off
the reactor room when they blow the VAL. Who wasn’t paying attention here.
There was enough drama in the recovery at the end without Commander Lewis having to
horn in on the operation because “I’m not losing another crewman!” I wish the movie
makers could have just trusted that part and let Beck to the job he was the best
I also thought actually doing the “Iron Man” thing was bullshit. There was no
need for it. Again, they should have trusted the story.
Sadly, despite Ridley Scott’s incredible scenery, he doesn’t know how to use 3D any
better than your average movie director. Nothing is added to this film by it being 3D.
The Outright Bad
The character of Annie Montrose was butchered. I understand that you can’t have a
strong female lead dropping f-bombs all over the place and still get a PG-13 rating.
But she could have still been a strong character.
Venkat Kapoor from the book, a hindu, was renamed “Vincent Kapoor” for the movie
and made the son of a hindu and a presbyterian (or was it protestant) in the movie.
In this day and age, when we are trying to
foster acceptance of multiculturalism, this change smacked of giving in to assholes
and bigots. I was not amused, and don’t care that the movie makers don’t want to be
Technical Stuff Even The Book Got Wrong
The two things I know about are:
The atmosphere on Mars is so thin that no sandstorm is ever going to be strong
enough to tip over a MAV, or cause a communication dish to get ripped out and
fly thru the air. Yes, things will get dark and solar panels get covered in dust.
No, they don’t don’t show up as a massive wall of evil coming over a distant
“Hab canvas” would not rip and launch the airlock like a cannon. The stuff would
be designed to give slowly, as a small hole that just gets bigger over time if
not taken care of. The air pressure in the hab would not be enough to move anything
as heavy as the airlock assembly. A rip would just vent all the air around it.
Two Things The Movie Got Right, The Book Got Wrong
Rovers were flatbed “trucks” in the movie. This makes sense. The rovers had no cargo
capacity in the book. Watney had to improvise shelves and stack stuff on the roof in
the book. The pre-supply modules
were landed softly, but would have been scattered around a ways. The crew would need
some way to carry everything back to the site. A flatbed, a trailer, and a crane would
At JPL, they would have totally used the mock-up of the Pathfinder to figure out how
to use the camera to communicate. It was never mentioned in the book. Tho maybe, it
was cut for word count.
2022 Update: Turns out, Irrfan Khan, a legendary Indian actor was supposed to be Venkat.
He had to drop out at the very last moment due to a prior commitment, leaving
the producers in the lurch. They were looking for anyone, male, female, white,
black…. anyone to fill the part. Thus we got Vincent Kapor. ↩
“The Martian”, a book by Andy Weir about an astronaut, Mark Watney, stranded on
the planet Mars when his crewmates leave him for dead in an abort due to a savage sandstorm.
I enjoyed this novel a lot. Weir makes Watney an entertaining character. He’s a
smart-assed, good-natured, optimist who refuses to give up. The science is as hard as it
gets, and is actually exciting at times, when things blow up, roll over, or pop.
I am very skeptical this movie would, or could, be faithful to the book. Which
is a shame. But the first non-teaser trailer came out this weekend, and I recognize
almost everything in it as being in the book. So maybe, just maybe, this movie will
be good. Maybe great.
The teaser trailer:
The official trailer:
And another “First Look” thing:
A couple of random thoughts about this:
They can’t put everything in the book in the movie, there just isn’t time for that.
Hopefully, when the science explanations are stripped out, the book gets short enough
that enough of it stays in the movie to make it a faithful re-telling.
I’ve re-read the book a few times now, and I find myself way more interested in the
Earth side of the book. Maybe because I only need the science and solutions Watney
comes up with explained to me once. Also maybe because Watney is so involved in what
he’s doing, the sense of wonder and amazement is better communicated by Mindy, Venkat,
and the rest.
Real Chicagoans do not to to Geno’s for pizza. It’s a tourist trap.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, a Brit of Nigerian decent, was cast as Venkat Kapoor, an Indian.
In my mind, while reading, Venkat sounded to me like a US native of Indian descent. We
never really get this verified, tho at one point Venkat does say he’s Hindu. Still,
this casting choice seems odd to me.
Anyway. Here’s hoping. Movies have been scarce and have mostly sucked, the last
Updated: Changed videos to new “official” trailers.
Right now, what I want is not world peace. I don’t want everyone to love and understand
each other. I don’t need an end to war. Right now, what I want is a dozen Krispy Kreme
glazed donuts. Then all would be right in the world.
The Squarespace account expired yesterday. So I’ve updated DNS and re-pointed
www.munged.org to this version of the site. The change should only be noticeable
if you happened to be reading it when it changed. Or remember what the site looked
like on SS.
The other change is that it was trivial to import all the old blog posts from
previous blogging systems into this. At least the ones I still have. Most
posts are dreck, but even the new ones are dreck, so I’m still running about
I’ve read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut’s books. I hated them, mostly. But his theme of
“what to do with useless people” is going to become a very import problem for our
society in the next 20 or 30 years. Probably sooner.
This isn’t just truck and taxi drivers. As online stores like Amazon start to
deliver purchases to you faster than you could get to the store to pick them up
yourself, people will be out of retail jobs as well. Factories are already getting
more and more automated. When Apple announce they were bringing some manufacturing
back into the US, what they didn’t say was that almost all of it was going to be
A massive percentage of the world’s population is comprised of people who’s sole
talent is that they can follow directions. Automation will take those jobs slowly,
but surely. The US has a long history of self-reliance, and limited socialized
benefits. The transition to a population largely unemployed will be rough.
Big upgrade today for the Apple devices around Wook Central.
Yosemite 10.10.3 on the Macs. iOS 8.3 for iPad and iPhone.
This isn’t the “Apple Watch” update, that already happened with iOS 8.2. This was
about security and bug fixes. On the Mac it was also about the “new” photo management
app that in a fit of imagination
Apple has renamed from “iPhoto”, to “Photos”. It now matches, in name and icon, the
photo app on iOS.
“Photos” has been working on upgrading my “iPhoto” library to the new “Photos”
library for about a half hour now, and there’s only about 500 photos in it. If
every Lightroom upgrade took that long, they’d each be a two-day process.
No real changes I can see other than that. Which is okay with me.
I “cut the cord” on cable TV about 5 years ago, and have not regretted it.
I cut it because Time Warner compresses almost all channels way more than they need to.
Most channels look horrible with video compression artifacts and jitter.
Cable TV wasn’t worth the extreme money charged for it. It was an extra $120 bux I
could do something else with every month too.
But I did miss out on some shows I did watch. Most of them on HBO. Bill Maher I
usually enjoyed. I watched the Sopranos when it was running. A couple of others.
HBO announced “HBO Now” last month with Apple, and it went live today or yesterday.
I signed up for the free trial, and I can’t imagine I won’t keep it when I have to
pay for it.
Signing up via the Apple TV didn’t work. But I downloaded the iOS app, and signing
up that way did work.
I’d planned on a semi-serious attempt to put all the DemiCon and related photo galleries
back up at WookPhoto, since that’s really what it is there for. I was also going to
re-process all the photos before putting them up, because some of them really got no
love originally. I know more now too, about how to make them look better.
But then Cities: Skylines came out. It was covered by Slashdot, as having sold 500,000
units in the first week. Having once been a fan of Sim City, and hating the most
recent version, I decided to check Skylines out.
I am so addicted, it isn’t funny. Sorry, everyone, who wanted to see the photo
In just a few short works, there’s even a modding community sprung up, and asset
creators have gone nuts for this game too. Gula, who says they were a level creator and
artist on SimCity, has created Gula’s In-and-Out Burger that can be placed in
game. You know I’ve got those all over all my cities.
Yeah, so not so much a literal “first post”, first post. More of a first post that didn’t get copied
from some prior
version of some prior blog. The kind of “first post” you get when you’ve set up a new account at a new web host,
and have to type something into it as a test.
This site is hosted via GitHub’s Pages. The docs that make
it up are stored in a github repository, and from there show up on a web site via
Jekyll and related technologies. It has the main advantage that it is
free, and the secondary advantage of being easy.
Supposedly easy, anyway. It would seem I’ve traded the complexities of Squarespace for
the complexities of having to follow filename and markdown formatting guidelines by hand.
Squarespace is really nice,
and generated a very pretty web site with minimal work. But the behind-the-scenes stuff is
way more focussed on how things look, than generating actual written words. It gets in
To use github pages, I need to create a text file for each post. Formatting of the pages
can be done via Markdown. I do this
on my computer, commit the changes to the local git repo,
and then sync the repo with github. Github magically notices the changes (if I do it
right) does the Jekyll thing and
re-creates the site.
This might not actually be any easier in the end. Or this might be just what I need
to make it so I can do this again. Or or, I might not be able to actively blog ever
again, because Facebook ruined me. I have until my Squarespace subscription
expires towards the end of April to figure this all out.
I had to stop and figure awk out again. I used to be almost ok with awk, but it’s
been a while.
I have a bunch of files from previous incarnations of this blog. I want to
add redirects from the old “munged.org/saga” locations to the new Jekyll
There’s a whole ‘nother decision about maybe just specifying a permalink
in the source files to put the resulting html files in the /saga/ directory, so
they show up where they used to. All my testing says Jekyll doesn’t have a
problem with posts scattered all over the place via permalink.
But I kinda want to “move on” on this one. Plus, this is also how I’d put in
the permalink variable in all the files anyway, so this work is not a bad thing.
And, I enjoyed dipping my toes in this again. What the hell, ya know?
I’m going to only add lines to the files
I want to add the new lines just above the second ‘- - -‘
The files must otherwise not be modified
The lines I need to add are:
Where ‘1’ is going to be a record number from the Moveable Type system. I have
files with ids as high as 507.
I’m adding the mtid just to keep the ID number around. Right now, it is part of the source
file name, but I want the data IN the file for safety.
For awk, I need two rules: one to write all the lines into the result file, and
another to add in the new lines before the second ‘- - -‘. The two rules are:
First, we select all lines with three dashes where the record number is greater than
1, so we select the second such record. Then we write the new lines into the file.
The variable “id” has to come from the awk command line. Finally, we write the line
out to the output.
The order is important. Since I want the new lines before the ‘- - -‘ AND I want
the ‘- - -‘ in the output, I have to trigger on the ‘- - -‘ and add the new lines before
“print $0” writes the ‘- - -‘ line out.
My blogging activities started shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11th,
2001 happened. On November 12th American Airlines flight 587
crashed on takeoff from JFK. I was in London for work that week, and
my voicemail pretty quickly loaded up with family asking where I was and if I was
okay. I was, but I didn’t have a mobile phone that worked in the UK, so I had no
way to listen to them, or respond.
I decided I needed a way to let my family know where I was, so they could have
some idea of the chances of me being in some major catastrophe. The US was kind
of in the mindset at the time that catastrophes were something that were going
to be a fact of life from then on. Planning on and around them didn’t seem like
an odd thing to be doing.
The sensible thing, looking back, would have been to use a shared calendar
somewhere on the web, and give my family access. I have no idea why
that didn’t seem like a good idea 13 years ago.
Instead, I started posting on a website my comings, goings, and whereabouts, in
a “web journal” format. The site was static; I wrote the first html pages by hand
using the vi text editor.
After editing by hand for a while, I moved to using Dreamweaver. The site was
still static, but Dreamweaver allowed me to edit in WYSIWYG, and send the
resulting files to the web server with the push of a button.
Even that’s a pain tho, so I moved from there to using Moveable Type.
Munged.Org was based on MT until about 2009 or so. I made almost 500 posts on
that system before I joined Facebook.
I joined Facebook in 2008, and started actually participating in 2009, and that
killed any blogging I might have continued doing.
I hadn’t been writing in the blog much anyway, because I was travelling so
much. My time all went to dealing with trying to live a life in hotels
and airports. But while the shiny lasted, FB was a lot of fun, and my friends
turned out to be interesting, creative, hilarious, people.
The idea of writing a blog wouldn’t die tho. Sometime since 2009, I set up a
WordPress blog on the same web server I’d had the
Moveable Type blog on. I didn’t post much. Those posts I did make are gone,
because when I finally took that site down, it doesn’t seem I managed to save
I also tried Tumblr for a while. Again, not much went up there, and none of it
saved when I stopped using it.
I even upgraded Dreamweaver again at some point, and was going to do a static
web site again. I never got that attempt to the point of having it show up on the web.
Last year, in April of 2014, to be precise, I created a web site with Squarespace.
Munged.Org is there as I type this. Hasn’t been much going on over there, tho.