Great movie! The Martian
Boy, have you guys seen The Martian? Holy cats!
I watched it on DVD a few days ago and was glad I didn’t see it on a big screen or, heaven forbid, in 3D. I’d have had a heart attack and not be here to write this at you.
There was a moment about 45 minutes in when I hoped against hope that this would be a boring movie. Everything was going so very well for Our Hero — at least as well as things can go for a man stranded alone on Mars, believed to be dead. But he was so darned resourceful and good-spirited about his plight that I just wanted the best for lost astronaut Mark Watney (played perfectly by Matt Damon). He was somebody H. Beam Piper might have dreamed up — only with more emotions. So resourceful and good-humored I almost dare apply the word “plucky.”
Anyway, no … things were doomed to go Not Well. And Very Not Well. And oh-so-scary-damned Nice Try But. Still, I had no idea they’d go SO SO Very Not Well that I’d be clutching-tee-shirt, jumping-up-on-arm-of-couch out of my wits with suspense as the movie’s brilliant characters jolted from bad to worse to solution to … not.
And most amazing of all, these worse-than-roller-coaster thrills were from a hard-science movie. From a novel by a total nerd.
Okay, it was a nerd movie directed by Ridley Scott and featuring a stellar supporting cast: Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Jeff Daniels, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, just for a sample. So fabulously done. Still, a nerd movie. A science movie more concerned with trajectories, velocity, calories-per-sol(ar day)-before-death, and other mechanics of space exploration and survival than with crew romances (though that, too, in a cursory way) or muscle-headed captains who always get the girl.
Also this is a movie that understands politics. Its most principled and effective characters have to engage in outlawry to break through well-intentioned, but wrongheaded bureaucracy. They also engage in so many acts of human intelligence and ingenuity that the movie could be banned from socialist societies, even if all its characters are government (NASA and other) employees.
I haven’t been so just-plain-rattled by a movie since I can remember.
It “helped” that I was watching it during the worst windstorm of the winter, and one whose winds came from odd directions and did odd things. While I was rooting for the repeatedly doomed Mark Watney and his brilliant pals, large branches were crashing down from a couple of my trees and my trash barrel was blown up against, then over, a small fence, taking the top of said fence with it.
It was just a little split rail stacked fence. Took five minutes to repair the next day. But that wind was coming down off the hill, which is opposite the place it usually comes from. Acting very freaky altogether.
I’ve hated wind since I was a little girl. It affects me on a viceral level I can do absolutely nothing to overcome. When bushes and cedar branches are slapping and scratching at the windows, I’m on edge. If it goes on more than a couple of hours, I get a little weird. With the Ought-Seven storm, where we had hurricane velocity winds (category 3) for 30 hours and I was living on an exposed ridge surrounded by young trees, I was numb for three days after.
One thing that did help this week — a lot. The roof is solid and sound and dry, thanks to you. I reminded myself of that all that howing night and into the next howling morning.
The wind was indeed freaky in its effects. Some streets barely had a twig down. Turn a corner and whole limbs. Places in the woods I found largish trees broken across my path. Other places barely a branch out of place. Not much roof damage, but one woman half a mile from here had enough shingles torn off or flipped up that she needs a new roof.
She just bought the house last summer, knowing it was a fixer. She’s been doing a great job on it, cosmetically, but she had to have known all along that the roof — which sags in the middle — was playing a game with time. She must be heartbroken and stressed, thinking about a re-roofing job this soon.
Ask me how I know.
More lousy weather. And life in general.
The dreadful NorthWET weather (so aptly described by The Oatmeal, H/T Dana) has flattened me. It’s just rain. But this winter is exactly the way people imagine northwest winters to be. It just never stops. Or worse, it stops, the sky turns brilliantly blue, and by the time you dress and get the dogs on leash, it’s le deluge. This morning it was shining when we got into the car. By the time we reached a good spot for an off-leash romp in the woods, it was hailing. Hailing.
I whine. It could be worse. Much worse. Obviously. Nevertheless, Winter Without End has worn me down. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed.
I do get out. I make myself be productive. In the evening I look back and say, “That wasn’t a bad day.” I don’t believe in yielding to depression. But yesterday I just. Couldn’t. Do it.
Oh, I got up and got my tea and when I got bored with a sudoku book, I cracked the computer and played freecell solitaire. The dogs got fed. The dogs got walked (after we stayed in the car five minutes to let the hail abate). The last hour of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince got watched. But I could not make myself move enough to be productive.
I’m down to finishing details in the new bathroom and was trying to plan the trimming of the door. I trim all my doors the same: either 1 x 4s or 1/2 x 4s with wooden rosette blocks affixed to the corners. So it wasn’t rocket science. I even already have the rosettes, which I got en masse from some guy on eBay who makes them. But I couldn’t for the life of me think my way through that door framing.
Now, in some ways, that’s an effect of depression, that loss of the ability to organize and motivate and even think out the simplest problems.
It’s a lot easier to fall into that state at the end of a long winter.
On the other hand, as a writer I’m familiar with that dull, dimwitted, miserable state coming before creative breakthroughs, so I remind myself it’s not as depressively doomy as it seems in that moment.
In the case of the door trim, I was trying to make myself work with some medium-density fiberboard (MDF) I picked up at a contractor’s garage sale last week. Six pieces for $1. Enough to trim two doors and have some left over. How could I not use such a fortuitous bargain, when it’s going to be painted and nobody but me will ever know it isn’t wood? Even in a bathroom it would be okay as long as I gave every surface, including the back, a good coat of paint.
But when I finally crawled off my soft leather sofa of pain and started pulling some old brads out of the ends of the MDF, and they came out with brown, cardboardy fuzz-balls around them (because MDF is nothing but compressed cardboard), I knew why I couldn’t. It’s just not a worthy material for this job. And I knew why I’d been in such a funk all day. Because I had to work myself to the point of knowing, without doubt, that I needed to go to the lumber yard and buy that lovely clear hemlock to do the job right, even if I was going to paint it over and nobody would ever know the quality of material under there. And I couldn’t inform my conscious mind that I was working on the problem because the conscious mind is sometimes a PITA and sometimes simply has other things to do.
Sometimes door trims for a dollar is a great thing and a coup to crow about. Sometimes, OTOH, cheap junk is just cheap junk. Use it inside a closet or something. Sometimes you just have to go out and pay the price for things that matter. And sometimes you have to go into sudoku mode so your brain can think about it without being bothered.