‘Outland,’ or When Science Fiction Becomes Sordid Reality


Representaive blecch, from “Outland.”

Representaive blecch, from “Outland.”

I came across, again, the film “Outland” the other day. I remembered this as an average piece of science fiction that tried to ride the coattails of “Star Wars” in the early 1980s. And I wanted to remember its having compelling qualities, like “Blade Runner,” which came out a year later. Certainly the movie’s star, Sean Connery, is worth watching.

Sadly, I’m not sure the movie holds up after 30 years. What struck me was how the criminal conspiracy at the heart of the plot seemed so commonplace. Perhaps it was less so at the time? It is hard to remember what we were all thinking back in 1981.

Sean Connery holding his spot in line for the toilet.

Sean Connery holding his spot in line for the toilet.

The story goes like this. Sean Connery is a space cop, or something. Really, he is dressed like a modern-day retiree: cheap hat with garish patch on the front, bright white tennis shoes, etc. The first time you see him head to toe, you expect to next see several blue-haired women push past him in a rush toward a restroom.

But let’s call him a space cop. His post is a mining complex on one of Jupiter’s moons that is owned by a big, I guess, multigalactical corporation or whatever. And after a while, Mr. Connery’s character grows suspicious about a series of mysterious deaths.

Really, the deaths are more spectacular than mysterious: they’re suicides by explosive decompression. Indeed, this is less a space-bound police procedural than the indulging of a gruesome science-fiction fetish.

When Mr. Connery’s character takes a closer look (spoiler!)… Continue reading


On the end of the football


…half of the settlement amount will be paid over the next three years, if the deal is approved, with the balance paid over the next 17 years.

via N.F.L. Agrees to Settle Concussion Suit for $765 Million – NYTimes.com.


Last Week’s News: [Expletives Not Deleted]

English: Director Werner Herzog at a press con...

Werner Herzog. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the spirit of Internet immediacy, here is a review of what I was reading online last week.

From my 119 subscriptions, over the last 30 days I read 6,028 items, clicked 329 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 14 items.

The Ever-Elusive Michael Vick

8:29 PM John
I like how Vick said this, and no one told him he is an idiot: “I’m a firm believer in God, and I believe in karma,” said Vick…

8:32 PM Samantha
karma, for him, will be a bitch. …Idiot

…There, I said it!

The formerly disgraced quarterback Michael Vick, when speaking to prospective N.F.L. rookies on Monday, displayed a rhetorical agility far greater than any head-turning juke he performed on a football field. Vick was addressing the league’s so-called rookie symposium, apparently as a designated bogeyman, having spent nearly two years in prison after being convicted for his role in an appalling dogfighting racket. As Vick put it:

That’s bad. You dont want to end up that way.

via Michael Vick orders NFL rookies not to count on second chances | NFL.com.

Most media outlets took the new and improved Vick at full, fantasy value (ranked No. 19 in 2010!), describing his talk as candid and powerful. My own thinking was tackled by Vick’s assertion (in the same sentence!) that he is “a firm believer in God” and “in karma.”

He only looks angry. (From “Creation of the Sun and Moon” on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo.

I do not mean to endorse spiritual world views in this space, let alone promulgate my own, such as they are. But it does seem like part of the overall bargain that such views have a semblance of internal consistency. Vick’s seeming ignorance of the monumental clash between the monotheistic first clause of his comment and the polytheistic second clause is enough to cause serious, if only mental, injury.

To be fair to Vick, that dualistic mind-set jibes well with the rest of America, which seems to have no difficulty or compunction picking and choosing from among the bible’s many inconsistencies and contradictions, and then spending all evening watching TV programs about aliens, bigfoots and other supernatural oddities.

Vick goes on, as if cracking into a busted dialectical play. Vick warns that “if you don’t appreciate what God gave you,” “he’ll take that away from you.” In Vick’s case, of course, it was the federal government that took away what God “gave” him, not God himself, but the record in Scripture is not exactly clear. Some of the time, God takes it away from you even if you do appreciate it (Job 1:1). And some of the time, God just squares up his shoulders and goes linebacker all over you (Genesis 32:24-5).

The rest of Vick’s speech is a jumble of stale platitudes, not surprising from a football player but faithfully, disappointingly, reported by The A.P. and the N.F.L., among others: “You’ve got a lot of learning to do, a lot of life to live…”; “Your friend can’t make you do something you really don’t want to do if you’re strong enough to say no”; “Trust yourself”; “Once this is over, it’s over”; “Enjoy the ride.”

The best part, probably, is that most observers took Vick’s central message to be that rookies should not count on second chances. Apparently, that stems more from Vick’s notion of karma than whatever prison-Christian heresies he has adopted. Second chances are, or so I have read, a bedrock of Christian theology.

Also on the End of Football

…in a recent appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” the Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw said he believed that concern over head injuries would cause football to be eclipsed in popularity by soccer and other sports within 10 years.

via With Fears About Safety, Football Faces Uncertain Evolution – NYTimes.com.

On the End of Football

If Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest, it is similar to the way former Chicago Bears great Dave Duerson ended his life. …so that his brain could be examined for symptoms of CTE chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a trauma-induced disease common to NFL players and others who have received repeated blows to the head.

via NFL legend Junior Seau found dead at his California home | Shutdown Corner – Yahoo! Sports.

On the Long, Slow Decline of the N.F.L.

Easterling joins a growing number of former NFL players who have killed themselves in recent years, including former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson and former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Terry Long.

via Former safety Ray Easterling death ruled a suicide – NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN.

Stop Wasting Time!

Despite being a copycat league, most NFL teams don’t do it while the best teams and the best quarterbacks — Tom Brady and Peyton Manning — kill people with it every week.

via The Future of the NFL: More Up-tempo No-huddle | Smart Football.

Stating the Obvious

…at a time when the Saints seem to have become the symbol of all that is wrong with the game of football, there are other players on other teams saying and doing very similar things.

via Saints not the only ones straddling the line between football and assault | Shutdown Corner – Yahoo! Sports.

So, there are, now, more than 50 lawsuits against the N.F.L. related to head injuries, which takes in more than 800 defendants. Which is not yet 10 percent of the pool of retired players. Which means more lawsuits are sure to come.

From this, it is obvious that, if it is not already happening, insurance liability is going to become an onerous financial constraint for organized football. These pressures are sure to have a crippling effect, beginning with youth programs, extending through all levels and leading eventually, inexorably, to the N.F.L; the result will eventually be fewer teams, fewer players and fewer great performances.

I read a comment the other day in which someone said the former Saints assistant Gregg Williams was “done” in the N.F.L. That may only be partly right.

Maybe football only regresses to a level of popularity akin to the N.H.L. of the past decade. The real game changer will be the bloodthirsty American sports fan. I ask, How popular is the N.F.L. going to be if, in the future, “60 Minutes” starts doing news features on Hall of Famers like, say, Tom Brady, who sit glumly in rooms full of trophies and vacantly gum their oatmeal?

See also:

Theres money in injuring star players, and money will always win.

via Is it even possible to play a version of football without some Gregg Williams-style crazy in it? | Shutdown Corner – Yahoo! Sports.

On the End for the N.F.L.

There are now over 850 former players­­–roughly 854–involved, a small fraction of the thousands of former and retired players that could potentially join the lawsuits.

via NFL Concussion Lawsuit Tracker: #39 | NFL Concussion Litigation.