Saturday, June 13, 2015

Movie Review: Project Almanac

This is your basic time travel movie. High school friends build a time machine based on one of their father's plans which are found in a secret hiding place. The entire flick is shot from a video camera that someone conveniently has with them at all times.  Scenes sway, shift abruptly, go in and out of focus, and take on on strange angles.  I'm amazed we don't get any video of someone in the bathroom going potty but that'd make it an R rated flick.

Of course, they think of novel ways to use their new found toy such as winning the lottery. I wish I'd thought of that. They also come up with some rules like don't change things in the past that can alter the present. But rules are made to be broken and obviously these kids didn't see the movie The Butterfly Effect. Hey, they got a time machine so things can be fixed. Not! Situations go from bad to worse to wish I had never opened the secret door where the plans were hidden.

You should be able to figure out the ending to this one unless you are totally new to time travel flicks. I'm not going to spoil it here.  Sorry to say, I did figure it out.

Two things I liked about the movie is how the father kept the plans hidden.  Trap door in the floor had electromagnets that kicked on when the basement lights were turned on. Of course, the unusual thunking sound of the magnets turning is what first tipped the kids off. Interestingly no one discovered this in the ten years that the father had disappeared. But maybe they don't go in the basement a lot.

The second is...hmmmm! I guess there is only one thing.

I give this a sad two star review.  Here is trailer.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mysteries of the Internet, or Advertising with a Surprise

Here are some advertising ploys that irk me.

Magically Opening Ad
CNN had this issue for a while when they updated their format recently, though they seem for the most part have changed things but other sites are using this tactic.  Basically the website opens and there is something interesting to click on.  In the case of CNN it's a headline news article. Just as you click, an ad opens at the top of the page. Yep, the click coincides perfectly with the ad's appearance and instead you're on your way to some webpage that promises to improve your retirement portfolio or take you to your dream vacation.

Jumping Web Page
This one works the same but is more devious.  Typically it is some bizarre news item such as Sea Monster Washes Ashore or Man Finds One Million Dollars in Basement.  Going to this website puts the promised article out there, but just as you read a few lines, some advertisement link is added causing the article to jump to a new location. You scroll down to get to back to what you were reading and another ad opens.  This usually occurs two or three times.  The timing is perfect and keeps the ad in the forefront.

Top Ten Things...
I like these but there is a challenge. To maneuver through the ten items requires clicking a right arrow.  Scattered in the neighbor hood are other click buttons that deceptively look like they could work too, But no!  Click the wrong arrow and off you go to new and interesting place. Added into these sites is the slow-go factor.  Click the correct arrow button and a lifetime passes before you get to the next picture which gives you plenty of time to peruse the sidebar ads.

Can't Close It
You find something that sounds interesting and click the button.  It takes you to the site that obviously is selling something. You click the back button or try to close it. And a box pops up: "Are you sure you want to leave this site?" Of course, I understand fully the the function of the back arrow, but savvy web surfers know to click some type of acknowledgement can download malware. Task Manager can in most cases close the browser, but what a pain.

The Deceptive News Article
This one is popular on AOL.  Buried in the legitimate news articles is an ad link.  This Can Get Rid of Wrinkles or Plan Your Dream Vacation.  Now in all fairness AOL sometimes adds in small print somewhere "advertisement". But no guarantee.

What irks you?

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Bootstrap Paradox

"--All You Zombies--" is a short story written by the late, great Robert A. Heinlein that explores the ultimate time paradox. I love a good paradox.  Time travel stories in themselves are a great topic to explore. The bootstrap paradox is one where information from the future is passed to the past which leads to changes in the present and ultimately the future where it got passed to the past in the first place. It's like the chicken and egg question. Which came first? In this case there is no answer.

In Heinlein's story, a man in a barroom tells the bartender a story starts when was a little a girl called Jane. She was born in 1945 and abandoned at an orphanage, grew up awkward and ugly, and finally met an older man who seduces her. Jane becomes pregnant and has a difficult delivery by Cesarean. She receives the news that due to difficulties in the birth, the doctors performed a complete hysterectomy. But they also learned she had a set of male organs and with surgery and hormones, Jane becomes John, the man in the bar telling the strange tale.  Another blow to Jane is that her baby is kidnapped. The bartender explains he is a time traveler and takes John back in time to when he as Jane met the stranger to kill the man. Of course, John falls in love with Jane his younger self, seduces her and she become pregnant, thus making him the older man. Meanwhile the bartender travels ahead in time to the hospital and kidnaps the baby taking it back to 1945 and abandons it at the orphanage. The story become the Bootstrap Paradox where a future event is passed to the past creating the present and ultimately its own future.

The story was made into movie recently with Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook. Predestination explores the Bootstrap Paradox staying remarkably close to Heinlein's story.  Here is a trailer.

Some quotes too from the movie.

" What if I could put him in front of you? The man that ruined your life. If I could guarantee that you'd get away with it, would you kill him?"

"Here you are at the beginning of your new life. It can be overwhelming knowing the future you're about to create. Knowing the purpose of that life. You know who she is. And you understand who you are. And now maybe you're ready to understand who I am. You see, I love her too."

"You'll have to make tough choices. You'll influence the past. Can we change our futures? I don't know. The only thing that I know for sure is that you are the best thing that's ever happened to me. I miss you dreadfully."

A great story and a great movie for all you time travel aficionados.