“The Martian”: My Own Planet Idaho

Martian Potatoes!

1000 potato, 2000 potato, 3000 potato, 4! Here a potato, there a potato! Potatoes, potatoes galore!

My son and I went to see The Martian two weekends ago, partly because we were both interested and partly to make up for how we “celebrated” his 21st birthday back in August by seeing Fantastic Four. I felt I owed him a do-over (and then some), and I’m glad Ridley Scott’s uplifting vision of Matt Damon, interstellar potato engineer, more than compensated for our last cinema visit.

America’s #1 film for four straight weeks doesn’t need any input from me, but one of Midlife Crisis Crossover’s myriad uses for me is to catalog my movie-going experiences. If I saw it in theaters, it gets an entry sooner or later. And thus it is written.

Alternate titles for this entry include:

“Red Planet, Green Thumb”
“The Astronaut Farmer”
“The Distant Gardener”
“Spuds Mechanics”
“The Tuber Whisperer”
“Old MacGyver Had a Farm”
“Mars Needs Ketchup”
“The Low-G All-Carb Diet”
“Taters Gonna Tate”
“Healthy, Wealthy and Fries”

Continue reading

MCC Request Line #7: “Take Shelter”

Michael Shannon, Take Shelter

Hey, wow, it’s a supposedly recurring feature everyone forgot because it stopped recurring!

Dormant but far from nonexistent, the Midlife Crisis Crossover Request Line is always open and accepting recommendations from MCC fans for stuff I can or should read, watch, or experience and then relay the results here, whether it’s high art or deep hurting. Today’s suggestion was offered a while back by British film reviewer Natalie Stendall, whose current home is at Writer Loves Movies.

Our feature presentation: the 2011 indie drama Take Shelter, starring Man of Steel‘s Michael Shannon and Academy Award Nominee Jessica Chastain. Writer/director Jeff Nichols would later go on to greater acclaim with 2013’s Mud, which signaled the beginning of Best Year Ever for its star Matthew McConaughey.

But before Mud…there was General Zod going mad in a quiet little town.

This way lies madness! Or doom! Or both!

“Zero Dark Thirty”: What Price the Pursuit of Earth’s Most Wanted?

Zero Dark ThirtyAfter seeing Zero Dark Thirty as part of my annual Best Picture nominee binge, I exited the theater with just one thought on my mind: I’d hate to be a guy trying to start a new country in this day and age.

It’s a fun daydream, wondering what it would be like to find a deserted island no one’s yet claimed, plant a flag, invite a few friends to be charter citizens, and then declaring yourselves the new sovereign nation of YourNameHereLand. You build at least one impressive building to house your government. You write your own constitution that justifies everything you’ll ever want to do and lays down basic ground rules to protect you from any future jerks who emigrate inside your borders or grow up inside your school system. You figure out how your economy should function, discern your people’s industrial skill sets, plan for necessary imports, form relationships with all the right countries, fill out the proper UN forms, and you’re off and running. You could probably find how-to guides on the Internet that fill in your knowledge gaps, complete with instructional YouTube videos. How cool would that be?

Long-term answer: sooner or later, not very. Continue reading

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