District 9 is the Best Sci-Fi Flick I’ve Ever Seen

See title.

District 9 is the first sci-fi movie I’ve seen in recent memory that wasn’t a (multi-)hundred-million dollar money shot.  I’m looking at you Transformers 2!  Strangely if you didn’t know that the film was produced on a meager $30M USD budget, you wouldn’t know.  It’s that good.  From start to finish the polish never wears off, but that’s just the thing:  It’s not really polished at all.   I mean the effects look superb but the gritty, realistic style remains consistent throughout the duration of the film.

First of all, the relationship between the humans and the prawns (what they call the aliens) really draws you in.  The pain and sympathy I felt for the prawns was tangible.  I really felt bad for them.  There was an obvious commentary about Apartheid equating the prawns to the native Africans that really is very thinly veiled.  Set in the slums of Johannesburg where the prawns have been isolated, it doesn’t take much effort to imagine how many millions of native African people are actually living like that today.

One of the biggest pieces of imagery on that tip was at the gates to District 9 itself.  At base the gates are two large statues of a human and a prawn holding hands with their arms raised in an arch over the entrance.  Across the bottom of the gates is a motto that says “District 9:  Paving the Way to Unity”.   Oh the irony!  Get it?  Because the aliens are being oppressed?  Oh nevermind…

If you are close enough to see this, you are fucked.

If you are close enough to see this, you are fucked.

And then there was the ALIEN WEAPONRY.  Holy shit, y’all.  I think the best weapon was probably the arc gun which basically shot a lightning bolt which upon hitting the target made the target explode like a hot dog in a microwave.  There were missiles and machine-gun style weapons, some sort of sonic blast gun and I think even some lasers (pew pew), but it was all about the arc gun, dude.  Seriously.  I giggled like a school girl whenever someone on-screen was vaporized into pink mist or a burst of guts.  It was just so awesome.

The aliens are being oppressed so that we can get at their weapons.  The catch being that the weapons are bio-activated by their DNA, so we humans can’t use them.  It gets interesting when the main character (Wikus) encounters some black goo (there’s more to it, but I don’t want to ruin it) that slowly starts turning him into a prawn.  This allows him to use the alien weapons and thereby makes him the target of the powers that be and also our unsuspecting human/alien hybrid hero.  See the twist developing there?

If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading… NOW.  I have some questions and observations that you might consider to be spoilers:

  • WTF is the black fluid?  It’s clearly used as a fuel, but it also happens to modify your DNA to turn you into a prawn?  I’m sure glad gasoline doesn’t have that side effect.
  • Does it affect all DNA or just so happens to affect humans in this way?
  • Those questions, and the fact that the prawn hero, Christopher, insists on returning in three years to “fix” Wikus in the scene where he is returning to the mothership are clearly setting us up for a sequel.
  • The movie closes with Wikus having fulling transmuted into a prawn.  Will we see him again?  Will he regain his humanity as promised by Christopher?  Will there be more exploding guts?  I fuckin’ hope so, bitches!
All in all, what an awesome flick!  I have been gushing about it for days now.  It was non-stop excitement, awe, disgust, horror, sorrow, and mostly fun.  Sadly, no sideboob, but that’s ok.

Based on the fact that the movie made over $37M USD in its opening weekend, I have a strong feeling we’ll be paying a visit to District 10 sooner than later.

Quaker’s Original Oatmeal Tastes Like Original Crap

I would so kill for some of this right now.

I would so kill for some of this right now.

Strolled into work today at zero-dog-thirty, which I think translates roughly to “seven-thirty-four” in human terms.

Waltzed into the kitchen to make myself a bowl of Maple & Brown Sugar flavored oatmeal only to discover in horror and shock and also awe that there was nothing but Original flavor left! The place where there is normally an even distribution of each flavor was clandestinely filled with Original flavor by someone who I’m sure is of ill repute.  As if I wouldn’t notice!

That’s when panic set in.

“Is there a plot against me?”

“Are they trying to get me to quit?!”

I checked all the cabinets, rifled thru the packets of Original and after doing that four or five times, concluded that if I was going to eat breakfast this was my only chance. So made myself the usual double helping thinking, “Ah, fuck it, how bad can it be?” How bad can it be indeed!

Please God, make it stop.

Please God, make it stop.

I proceeded to my desk, ate a big bite, and found that it’s like spooning mouthfuls of mushy, wet toilet paper into my face. Sustenance must prevail!!

No way can I do this. This shit sucks! Who eats this crap?! Because that’s what it is. Crap. I needs my maple & brown sugar!! But I’m so hungry… UGHHH…

This isn’t breakfast.  This is punishment!

Python List Comprehension for Dummies

So I code a lot. I code in Python a lot. You might say I love Python. I might say you’re right.

One of the most powerful things about Python is its ability to iterate over ANYTHING as if it were a list. Lists, tuples, dictionaries, and even strings can all be iterated quickly and elegantly. Python also introduces a concept known as list comprehension which allows you to do rather complex filtering of list contents within a single statement.

To illustrate how awesome and powerful list comprehension is, let’s start with a basic example that is NOT using it:

>>> mylist = [1,2,3,4,5]
>>> for item in mylist:
...     if item % 2 == 0: print item, 'is an even number.'
...
2 is an even number.
4 is an even number.
So, let’s assume that we want to identify all even numbers inside of mylist, and put them into a new list called evens the old-fashoned way:
>>> mylist = [1,2,3,4,5]
>>> evens = []
>>> for item in mylist:
...     if item % 2 == 0: evens.append(item)
...
>>> evens
[2, 4]
Why the old-fashioned way sucks First things first, the empty list called evens had to be declared ahead of time. This is because when we looped thru the list called mylist using the for statement, when the if test is performed on each item we have to reference evens by name to append() the even numbers to it.

Why list comprehension rocks With list comprehension, the logic that isolates the even numbers and the declaration of the list that will capture this output are compressed into a single statement:

>>> mylist = [1,2,3,4,5]
>>> evens = [i for i in mylist if i % 2 == 0 ]
>>> evens
[2, 4]
The logic is encapsulated in [square brackets] indicating that the output will be a list. The list comprehension itself is the logic between the brackets that determines what will be in the list that it spits out.

So list comprehensions at their most basic level allow for compression of code and streamlining of logical statements. Advanced usage of list comprehension can get pretty silly, but then so can nested loop statements.  It supports nesting as many statements as you can throw at it so longs as they are syntactically correct.

If you find yourself coding shit like this:

>>> losers = ['Joe','Jim','Jon','Jen']
>>> for u in losers:
...     if u.startswith('J'):
...             if u.endswith('n'):
...                     if u != 'Jon':
...                             print u
...
Jen
Then maybe list comprehension is for you:
>>> [u for u in losers if u.startswith('J') and u.endswith('n') and u != 'Jon']
['Jen']
No offense to anyone named Joe, Jim, or Jon.

Alive in Joburg? Welcome to District 9!

Maybe you’ve heard about District 9?  You know, the documentary-style sci-fi flick about aliens who have come to earth as refugees that is being produced by Peter Jackson and is coming out on August 14th?  Yeah, that one.

Just so we’re clear, a few days ago I said I popped no less than 17 boners during the 7-minute trailer at Comic-Con.

Ok so now that we’re clear, what you probably didn’t know is that the director, Neill Blomkamp, was a virtual unknown whose only notable work was a 6-minute short called Alive in Joburg. During the District-9 panel at Comic-Con, when he was describing the motivation behind the project, Peter Jackson said that he had seen this film on YouTube and knew that Blomkamp would be the one to direct his next film.

So, check it out:

Pretty fuckin’ awesome, right? Obviously it has umm… EVERYTHING to do with District 9 and is the direct influence for it. Considering that the budget for D-9 is only $30M USD, I think it’s 117% awesome how the concept of the original short has been expanded and improved upon.  The short is shot in the same grainy, documentary style and doesn’t make use of absurd effects to get the point across, but it’s not done in a way that looks cheap.  The emphasis on the tangible drama of aliens living in South Africa as refugees, vs. focusing on douchebags with laser rifles is a stray from the norm these days, and I am all about it.

Don’t get me wrong, there WILL be douchebags with laser rifles in District 9, but it’s not at all like anything you’ve seen before.  Not to mention that it’s being backed by Peter “Motherfuckin'” Jackson.

I will now leave you to your boners (or their female analog, whatever that may be).

p.s. There are a lot of secrets in District 9.

Feeling Fine. I SAID FINE!

We had company in town for four days and it was fun, but disruptive. That’s pretty much always the case. It’s like life goes on hold for the duration of their visit.

That’s what is weird. You’re having a good time enjoying yourself and the company of the people close to you and you don’t want it to end, but at the same time you can’t wait for them to leave. I guess it’s part of that fantasy world you live in when you’re suspending the crap that really needs to get done (like work or laundry or scooping the cat shit) so you can show them a good time and have a good time yourself.

You know because when they leave fun time is over and it’s back to reality. Just the same your friends know that when they leave they have to do the same damn thing. Not counting the long-ass flight back to wherever they came.

Something to think about.