Tag Archives: Gravity

Let’s go to space

I would totally go on a really long space mission. You know, given the chance, like if they needed volunteers, “Calling all Americans! We’re looking for one patriotic spacefarer to help NASA explore the cosmos!” they’d obviously be making cold-calls because the mission would be too intense, even for trained astronauts. I’m not talking dangerous. Just long. A very time-consuming, extended mission.


But seriously, I’d definitely be up for it. Put me on that spaceship and let’s blastoff. I don’t care about Gravity. Do you think I’m that easily scared off by a George Clooney movie? And it’s not even a George Clooney movie, it’s a Sandra Bullock movie, but I didn’t want to come across as sexist, implying that the most non-scary element of that movie was the lead, Ms. Bullock.

But I’m not scared. Remember that scene where a piece of space debris ripped a hole right through that guy’s head? Come on, that didn’t look that realistic. Start fitting me for a spacesuit already. Can mine be blue? Like midnight. Like space blue. Even though space is black. But like a spacey navy blue, with yellow stripes around the wrists, and a golden-tinted spacesuit helmet.

What’s the hesitation in sending a crew of astronauts to an asteroid, to Mars? What are all of the professional astronauts scared of, cosmic radiation? Space madness? What else could astronauts be worried about? Claustrophobia? A debilitating loss in muscle and bone mass? Actually, that’s probably be the one thing that really creeps me out, that of my own body slowly disappearing right before my eyes, just because I don’t have any gravity to keep everything fresh.

But whatever, I’ll still do it. I’ll just clench my muscles, all of them, constantly. That’s got to be good for something right? And I’ll just make sure to do plenty of space jumping jacks. Even without gravity, that’s still got to be pretty tough, extending your arms and your legs out, it’s got to get tiring eventually. I think I just solved the whole no gravity problem. Someone should get a message to any astronauts currently in space: do some space jumping jacks, like a thousand of them.

Or even better, they could get some sort of a mechanical suit that does the space jumping jacks for them, so they could put it on while they’re asleep. Even better than that, you could just heavily sedate anybody in space and then program that same space jumping jack mechanical suit to do all sorts of crazy exercises, space pull ups, space Insanity.

Or even much, much better, let’s just sedate all of the astronauts, the whole time that they’re in space. Wait, no, while that would work for really long voyages, the idea has already been explored in pretty much every space movie, like Alien, like Event Horizon. By the way, if you’re wondering what I was talking about earlier with space madness, watch Event Horizon, that movie was scary as hell.

Man, I actually think I took this thought experiment a little too far, I’m pretty scared now, not of space, I think I’d still be down for some space, but of Event Horizon, I’m telling you, that movie is terrifying. It’s like, while they’re all asleep, the spaceship passes through some dimensional portal to hell, but you don’t know it, because they’re still in the hell dimension, or something came back with them, and then the captain pulls his eyes out.

Jesus, some things cannot be unseen. I was like twelve years old when I saw that movie, I was alone in my bedroom, it started playing on a movie channel late at night. I was like, oh boy, I love sci-fi, I love Star Trek, this movie should be great. And here I am, a grown man, sitting here writing about how he’d be a great pick for an extended space mission, and I can’t even get through the whole thing because I’m still a little scared, every night before I go to bed I pull the covers up really tight, all the way to my neck, I try not to think about Event Horizon, but I’m telling you, if you haven’t seen the movie, watch the movie, and then you’ll know about the panic that I’m grappling with on a daily basis.

But regular space, come on, this isn’t sci-fi, it’s real life. And I can’t think of a better candidate to be a real life civilian astronaut. So NASA, if you’re reading this, and if you’ve been contemplating a civilian astronaut campaign, but you’re not sure about how you’d get it started, don’t bother. Just pick me. I’m your guy. Let’s go to space.

Movie Review: Gravity

The trailer for Gravity had me hooked. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are doing a spacewalk on the ISS when some sort of debris storm destroys everything. We see both of them floating away, spinning, totally adrift in space. Gravity: the words crash down on the screen, plain white text on a black background.


My palms were sweaty after only twenty seconds. I mean, I don’t have much astronaut experience, no zero-g training or anything like that, but here’s something I’ve given considerable thought to. This whole concept taps into something universal, whether lost at sea or buried alive, what would it feel like knowing that certain death is all but imminent, but you still have to be awake and struggling for a while until whatever it is that’s keeping you alive stops working?

And that feeling, not being able to unclench my fists, squirming in my seat, the movie doesn’t waste any time taking you from a routine Hubble telescope repair job to, “Astronauts: This is Houston. Get out of there now!”

Unfortunately, the movie never unclenches to allow even a little bit of blood back in once in a while. After only a quarter of the way through, I was in physical discomfort, my body and soul overwhelmed by pins and needles. I guess there wouldn’t be a lot of time for pause or reflection if you really were running out of oxygen and spinning untethered away from your only means of escape, but man, it was really hard to sit still through all of that.

And it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. In each moment, there’s really only one action to be taken care of at a time. Because everything’s taking place in the unforgiving void of outer space, each action is a zero-sum game, live or die. So it’s like ten excruciating minutes of getting a hold of a rope. Do it or die. Then it’s ten painful minutes of tying a knot. You better tie that knot, or you’ll die.

There’s a very clear goal, somehow not dying and finding your way back to Earth, but there’s no direct path to success. And so there’s really no pace, it’s just calm for about two seconds, and then everything gets ratcheted up to eleven, and that’s where it stays, the needle constantly threatening to bust through the red.

It was a little too much. Like, I’m sure the story would have been enough to evoke those grand ideas of life, the fear of death, what it means to be without hope, or eventually to be able to let go. But everything is spelled out. Let’s zoom in on this miniature statue of the Buddha to convey an image of serenity amongst chaos. Or the little dialogue that peppers the film will be random statements about life being a wild ride. George Clooney throughout the entire movie is half The Fonz (“Now that we’ve got some distance between us, you think I’m attractive, right?”) and half wise philosopher (“You need to let go!”)

Parts of it were cool. The concept is definitely scary, especially considering how this is all within the realm of like actual science. You know, I’m saying that from a non-scientist’s point of view. Maybe a real scientist would watch Gravity and be able to spot several gaping plot holes. But I was looking for them, and I couldn’t see anything. Russian lettering on the escape pod, check. Tears are cried outward and away from the face in the absence of gravity, check. Yep, everything made sense.

Except, and this was a pretty glaring error, at least I thought it was, but there are several scenes in which the astronauts either have to screw something in, or screw something out. Each time, I noticed that the screws and levers and knobs, everybody turned them left to tighten and right to loosen them up. Doesn’t this go against the whole “lefty loosey, righty tighty” rule? Or does this for some reason not apply in outer space? Was everything designed backward to prevent regular people from someday hijacking the equipment?

I don’t know. But other than that, it was a cool movie. A little two-dimensional, but cool. And short. I’m a lot more forgiving with movies that don’t knock my socks off if they’re under an hour and a half long. Whatever, I can allow myself to not be one hundred percent entertained for under an hour and a half. But that’s it. Any longer than that and I’m pissed, like, “Oh my God, this was so boring, and so long.” But not Gravity. It was short and sweet. Or short and just a tad sweet. Let’s go with short and OK.