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Monthly Archives: October 2014

I’ve had 2 glasses of wine, Mr. Max is trying to synthesize a Halloween costume out of household items, and there are 3 loads of urgently-needed dirty laundry congealing in the basement. Despite these facts, I’m honoring my commitment to Lena Webb to post a brief write-up on The Purge 2: Electric Boogaloo Anarchy. If that isn’t deep friendship, I dunno what is.

We (Me, Lena, and Mr. Max) watched this “movie” during a weekend getaway at my parent’s cabin in rural New York. The purpose of rural vacations is to do as little as possible, and pay-per-viewing a bad sequel to a bad movie I never saw (and don’t plan on ever seeing) embodies the best kind of lazy hedonism.

How was it? It was $6.00 well spent. Despite being a cheese-fest, The Purge 2 did not disappoint. The basic premise — continued from the first movie — is that the government allows one Murder Day per year where people can legally go open season on each other. Apparently this is supposed to make the world better or end poverty or something?

There’s a mom and daughter, who we call Not Rosario Dawson (AKA Rosario Dawson, but cheaper) and a… well, the daughter character wasn’t memorable enough to give a funny name.

Despite the whole murder-is-legal today thing, NRD and daughter don’t act very worried. As the sun sets, Mom is making a salad and I think the daughter is doing homework? I feel like I’d be, like, huddling or something. Or at least listening to The Smiths.

Then we meet this indie divorcing couple, who make NRD and daughter look super prepared…  by going grocery shopping at DUSK (!) on All Murder’s Eve. We call the girl Etsy and the guy Gluten Allergy because you know why. They get hassled by some street hooligans who sabotage their car so they have to escape on foot.

You just HAD to go to Trader Joe’s.

Last but not least we meet our rough-around-the-edges hero: Sean Penntel.

He’s angry and broken, but he’s got a gun and a car so everybody hangs around him for protection. Then they lose the car for a reason I can’t remember and have to scamper around the city on foot avoiding roving bands of gangs and stuff. They go to NRD’s friend’s house but the people there are having affairs with each other and start legal murderin’ so they leave. (Mr. Max pointed out that they probably could’ve hid in a dumpster all night and been fine. But they don’t do that because MOVIE.)

Eventually they all get captured by some bounty hunters and auctioned off to rich socialites for, NOT JOKING, an indoor human hunt. The whole thing becomes super derivative of The Hunger Games. Then Sean Penntel fights back and some resistance group that was only mentioned incidentally comes and rescues them all, well except for Gluten Allergy who was killed for being too big of a wuss. Then Sean goes to finish his secret mission, which was to kill the drunk driver who killed his son. He decides not to do it because ETHICS and then a government guy comes to kill him because he’s too anti-purge. The credits roll over some heavy-handed images of American flags and stuff and it’s supposed to be deep and message-y.

And then we all went home.

“Wholly shit” is a bit harsh, but I wanted the word play. I think most “computer movies” are hilarious, and old ones are the best. War Games was made in 1983, thirteen years before SkiFree would blow my mind. The trailer was irresistible, so I went for it.

Things are looking “post-apocalyptic” (read: “dusty”) and now two men are in an air force base and it’s business as usual. Their business is extremely boring. Is that Leo from West Wing? YES!

“I’m shocked that I’m in this movie too!”

They are decoding something with *laminated* code keys. The secretary must be super bored too.

“Rotate launch key to set” Their technical talk is boring to the max. And yet they are launching some giant missile and clicking all the switches… except ONE. They’re like fuck it, I don’t care, we’re going to DO this. Leo is sweating. His co-worker just started pointing a gun at his head because he’s not turning the LAUNCH KEY. WHY?

“You didn’t drink when they said ‘War Games’!”

That might be the most exciting thing that happens. This is starting to smell like Internet M*A*S*H. There’s even a helicopter, and I wish I was hearing “Suicide is Painless” right now instead of these “edgy” trumpets.

Matthew Broderick is in this. Is he related to Betty Broderick? I’m just musing as the credits roll forward, boringly.

Big doors that are like 6 feet thick and sound an alarm when they’re open are a big part of this movie. 2 big door shots so far.

I thought this was supposed to be about an internet whiz kid? It’s just boring old people and big DOS screens.

It was only a test?! Everyone was pissing their panties, sir. They wanted to see if the people could actually turn the key to start a nuclear missile attack, and Leo totally failed. Hence the gun. One guy says he wants the president to make the call, but then COMPUTERS will do the rest. Specifically, the War Operation Plan Response, or, WOPR. It thinks about World War III constantly. It plays WAR GAMES (DRIIIIINK!). It has already fought World War III as a game! It estimates damage, counts the dead…. Basic DnD shit. We are arguing that men should be replaced by computers now. Obviously these real live men have problems with this. They’re going to float it by the Prez and see what he thinks. We cool?

I bet she’s looking forward to men being replaced with WOPRs.

Ah. NOW we meet boy wonder, playing Atari in an extremely 80’s arcade. Running to school, LATE, entering biology class where a bunch of catatonic kids are going over a test. Computer boy, David, is sassy as you please. Equally sassy classmate Ms. Jennifer Mack was talking and got busted. Now she has to answer a question about nitrogen fixation! “Why do nodules attach themselves to the root?” (I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works) She says “LOVE!” NO YOU TRAMP, IT’S “SYMBIOSIS.” Next, “who first suggested reproduction without sex?” David has an answer.: “YOUR WIFE?!” Daaaaamn.

David is now in the principal’s office for obvious reasons, life hacking by looking at post-it notes and remembering information. I’m guessing it will help him woo this sassy Ms. Mack. It’s after school and she’s picking him up on a moped type thing. She’s got the kind of nerd pants a girl has when she is very serious about being a nerd.

“I can tell by your pants that you will like my boring life.”

She’s going to his room, which contains shelves worth of antiquated hardware. “You’re really into computers, huh?” Uh oh, he’s hacking high school and changing grades! She got a D in Home Economics because she’s not a real lady because she’s a nerd! She doesn’t want him to change her grade because she has MORALS. She is super turned off and is leaving. EPIC FAIL.

Meanwhile, back at the airbase, Leo is shaking his head at some baffling machines.

Back at home with David and his family. He is looking at a brochure that speaks to him because it’s computery and there is Are You Afraid of the Dark music. All bad movies seem to have AYAOTD music! Dad (who was definitely in M*A*S*H) HATES the corn because it’s RAW. Mom likes it crispy. I agree with mom. David escaped the table and is pulling some fiendish shit on the phone, conning his way to some information regarding that brochure, and is HACKING.

Ms. Mack is back and seems to have decided she wants him to change her grade after all, in an attempt to win his computer dong. Maybe I was too harsh about the pants. The computer is dialing numbers with the last number going up by 1 each time. He’s mansplaining modems. He already CHANGED her grade! He gave her an A! Aw yeah girl. He’s trying to hack them to Paris? Making fake airplane reservations. Lame. She’s trying to show him her tits by leaning in with an unbuttoned blouse, but he is too computer retarded and cannot sense the nearby tits. She literally has half her blouse open. He just wants free games.

“Why. Won’t. He. Look. At. My. Tits.”

…and some of the free games are WAR GAMES (DRIIIINK!)

Now we are in a very technical looking place with a few nerd boys scattered about. Ms. Mack has to wait outside because the nerd boys can’t handle a GIRL. David is basically an 80’s computer version of Mark Cherry from Arrested Development. A nerd tells another nerd “remember how you told me to tell you if you’re acting rude or insensitively? You’re doing it right now.” Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, bitchez. Clearly I missed the whole point of this scene.

Back in his room, David is hacking without his shirt on and I am unokay with this. Bad “Airwolf” music. Baby Broderick chest. Everything is bad right now. There are no pictures available of how bad this is. I am alone with this badness; it is all mine.

Ms. Mack is a power runner. She comes to visit David and he is still shirtless. She’s sweaty in a vaguely alluring way, but seems to have given up on trying to tear David’s eyes away from that glowing screen. He is showing her that computers, by connecting wires to chess pieces (haha wtf), were able to LEARN. Dr. Falken, a clearly amazing wizard of a man, did this way back (10 whole years ago) in the 70’s, and Mack has extremely forward professor hots for him. He had a son and his password is… his son’s name! Now we are hacking like the dickens. “We’re in!” (a phrase that must be uttered at least once per computer movie). Falken’s intelligent computer is chatty and wants to play a game of chess, not war. But David wants to know about this “Global Thermonuclear War” game– chess later! “Fine” says computer.

I PROGRAMMED YOU A SHIRT.

They are playing WAR GAMES (DRIIIINK!) now and he’s on the side of the Russians. They want to blow up Las Vegas first, then they went straight for Seattle. Interesting priorities.

So, I rented this on Amazon. Using money. I don’t remember what happened, but I didn’t finish the movie within 24 hours and I just can’t justify paying another $3.99 to do so. I hope that the rest of War Games contains the following:

– Leo punching Dr. Falken (who clearly wizards his way into the situation somehow) in the face. Or, maybe more ideally, Leo punching a computer.

– San Francisco getting blown to smithereens, like it does in most action movies. In a computer action movie it would especially poignant and thought-provoking.

– At least 4 more big doors.

– So many bad Russian accents.

– Mack ending up with Dr. Falken’s son as her boyfriend, even if he’s just a password. She should end up dating a password.

– David ending up in COMPUTER JAIL for thermonucleating the world. And for shirtless hacking as a pre-pube.

During my undergraduate education I worked in labs that imaged pond scum using confocal microscopy, studied estrogen receptor ligands in rats whose ovaries I removed, and  used yeast to show how errors in the center of the Central Dogma, RNA processing, can potentially lead to the mutation of its parent gene. Then I worked in a poxvirus lab at the CDC for a year, optimizing an old immunodiffusion technique for use as a hassle-free diagnostic tool for monkeypox in the DRC.  In graduate school I rotated in a cryo-electron tomography lab because why not?  It certainly wasn’t my cup of tea, and I ended up in a lab that used fruit flies to investigate the neural mechanisms and genes in involved in thermo- and chemosensation; I worked with maggots. I dropped out of the lab and the PhD altogether, rolling up my MS and sticking it in my back pocket.

As is clear, I got to do a lot of cool stuff– but nothing was as cool as this machine is:

Yes, yes it is

Is that the sound of me not doing any actual work?

I’m currently back in the bowels of Brandeis, preparing the needs of a 177-student intro to biology lab techniques. It’s a required course if you are pre-med. Suckers. A couple of the labs they are doing require that they make serial dilutions to measure transformation efficiency, and select for cells that have taken up the antibiotic resistance-confering plasmid DNA. That means their bacteria will need a nutrient-rich substrate, both with and without antibiotic, and that’s where I come in. But really, it’s where PourMatic comes in.

It’s like something Picture Picture would show you and Mr. Rogers, am I right? It makes me so excited I said something as dumb as “it’s the tits!” I don’t even know that means but it seems pretty sexist so I’m sorry I said it. But it can pour 320 agar plates in, like, 5-10 minutes!

You saw how it works, and now you can see the kind of freedoms the PourMatic allows for.

If this were an infomercial, we would also have footage of a scientist trying to pour 320 plates by hand– slopping the hot molten agar around, burning herself, lighting her hair on fire with the Bunsen burner necessary to sterilize the pipet for each plate, running out of room on her bench, knocking shit over and then looking at her plates the next day and finding the surface coated in a thick mold.

And then we cut to 7 years later and she hasn’t gotten her PhD yet.