Thank you Hollywood, don’t call me, I’ll let you know

When it comes to anything to do with the moon, the planets, the sun, astronomy, cosmology, astrophysics and most especially anything to do with space exploration, I’m a complete slag. On the discovery that ice deposits had been found inside the forever shadowed edges of polar craters on Mercury, my knees went all weak, and an involuntary cry of “Oh you are a beauty” escaped my trembling lips.

Once you’ve got ice, you’ve got water, which with a bit of chemical cleaver work means you’ve got hydrogen and oxygen, which means you’ve got most of the the basics you need for an extended stay off planet, so enjoy your new domicile. In the case of Mercury, a tube of 20,000 factor sun block cream might prove to come in surprisingly handy.

People who know me and are still intrigued by their Morlock friend’s curious obsession about space, toss me tips about such goodies like bones thrown too high into the air, which I leap at hopelessly or hunt down after landfall in the long grass like a madly enthusiastic doggie. Let’s face it, every well-rounded personality needs some sort of mania. That’s mine, I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is, so deal with it.

The latest tip was there was a great new sci-fi movie out called Stowaway about a flight to Mars. Great stuff! Hollywood make crap sci-fi films at the best of times, the last decent one being Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, but that was seven abominations of desolation years ago for the genre. Before that, you’ve got to go back to 2001 A Space Odyssey in ’68, with a brief stop at 2013’s Gravity. Mebbe Darkstar in ’74 deserves an honourable mention, but you’d have to share my peculiar sense of humour on that one. It’s been a sequence of long gruelling commando crawls across burning sands between one dry oasis after another in the intervening years.

Okay, it’s game on. Time to be entertained and with no distractions. Work the pre-flight suspension of belief checklist prior to take off. Everybody out of the house but me? Check. Landline unplugged? Check. Mobile off? Check. Computers powered down? Check. Leave any deliveries around the back Postit note stuck on the front door for the moron delivery guy? Check. Carrier turned about and heading into the wind? Check. Steam catapult fully pressurised? Check. Back thrust wall up and locked? Check. Jets near full thrust and spitting diamonds? Check. Flaps set for takeoff? Check. Brakes on hard and holding for the go light? Check.

Okay, I’m hot to trot and ready to rock, hit the tit!

With one click of the play button, it’s a big daddy whoosh pushing me back into the old fart’s command armchair complete with imaginary buttons on the armrests like in Star Trek and we’re hurtling down the deck, doing the traditional dip out of sight below the prow before miraculously climbing back into a Lord be praised reappearance, and then we’re on full military reheat and heading skywards.

Yessss. It’s a flying start, we’re straight into the launch sequence. Lotsa shaky camera work, low end bass thunderous engine noises and flight control sending them on their way with the usual breakup radio comms relaying all of Earth’s best wishes to them on their heroic and historic endeavour. Yeah, corny I know, but I’m in it already.

At this point I have to give you the starting price about this blog, or the SP as it’s known in wagering circles. There’s a reason its motto is a Lagrange point in life. It’s because it’s written by me, Pointy, outgoing, engaging, a cinéma vérité observer of life’s eccentricities and unfortunates, a good listener, basically harmless when he’s not being entertaining, hopeless, hapless, too often slightly drunk but still despite it all a determined believer in some things.

Long ago in the single digits of my life, someone I liked and trusted did me an injury and I’ve still got a long, wide and ugly scar of white skin the length of one of my shins they gave me. It healed gradually but not one single hair ever grew on that white barren patch of my integument. That day, Pointman was born and not a single one of those nice adjectives I’ve used to sketch myself applies to him. He doesn’t have any doubts, uncertainties, hesitations, complicated thinking or anything that might slow down his react time. Two bangs centre body mass and a final tap to the noggin just to be sure.

He’s done and dusted and already stepping outta the room before some of the already lifeless bodies have actually hit the floor. Unlike me, he has no fears and has watched over me ever since. I’ll walk that last statement back a bit. The only fear I have is that one day I might become exclusively him and I’m beginning to suspect the only fear in the world he’s got is that silly old me might have been right all along. The compromise, the tug-o-war between those two totally conflicing personas manifests itself as the Legrange point in most creative things I do.

However, I always pay attention to his whispers in my ear because he never sleeps, is always on overwatch and his track record is sickeningly bloody perfect, which is why when I want to just relax into some pure brainless couch potato entertainment, the last item on my checklist is always – Pointman switched off? Check. Lordy, if only I could do that simple thing.

Anyway, back to Hollywood’s latest effort to thrill and entertain me. A three man crew on what I know would be a two year trip on closest planetary approach, but it’s Hollywood science so I’m gonna give it a break. Just work on your suspension of belief Pointy and pop some of that popcorn into your gob.

Unbidden and unasked for, Pointman whispers into my right earhole. Not a three man crew but two woke wimmen and a wimp. Two year mission. With that combination, what’re the odds one of them would be handbagged to death within the first two months?

Listen, just leave me alone, I want to watch this thing. Let’s give it a chance.

I can see what the bugger means though. A lesson I’d learnt from him long ago and became automatic had already done its thing. Always quick scan everybody in the room even before you’ve got all the way into it. Triangle formation shot. In front, butchy looking woman showing some red shift outta the cougar zone, to her left yet another Buffy the vampire slayer knockoff with huge eyes, no nose but two cute dimples left by the cosmetic surgeons where most normal people have nostrils and to the right, some slanty-eyed wimp who from the worried look on his face is already working on excreting an uncomfortably large brick.

Butch, Buffy and Mankini man, the sly voice in my ear suggests as target designations. He’s that kinda guy. You gotta love him but he’s right of course. The really irritating thing about him is that it’s as if he’s inside my head, reading my frigging mind or something and I just can’t work out how the hell he does it. Ignore him, be a bigger man, and he’ll just go away in the end.

Alarm bells start going off in the cock-less cockpit and Butch starts stabbing buttons on the 747 sized console before her, but like seriously – let’s take a little reality check here. Can anyone actually pilot a three stage rocket once the blue paper has been lit and everyone else of sound mind has retreated to a safe distance of about two miles from it?

Anyway, Butch stabs enough of the myriad of buttons arrayed before her while all the time her forefinger is for once usefully deployed hovering over the abort button rather than up elsewhere. When you’re in mid launch, atop of something that explosive, pulling seven or nine G’s while mad insatiable and unstoppable LH2 is getting it on with her stud LOX, someone somewhere might just find your roasted jump boot with a mote of your DNA still inside it after you press that particular escape button.

Butch manages to save the day from whatever and they finally reach orbit. Buffy leaps out of her seat, losing all the safety harness stuff in less than one second flat. She embraces Butch with a “That was FANTASTIC” hug of I am woman, I am powerful. Butch shrugs the girly adulation off – meh, all in a day’s work, but they both turn to look at Mankini who’s busy barfing into a sick bag. Poor little dear, but that’s just the way those silly men are.

A knowing but we are women and strong smirk expression #4 is exchanged between Butch and Buffy. I don’t need bloody Pointman’s acute perspicacity to know how this one would work out in any simulation of reality. My money’s on Mankini being the one who’s going to get unceremoniously bundled out of an airlock in a month or so, if not sooner.

I’m waiting for Point to say something, anything, so I can bite his head off, but he remains smugly quiet. Bastard.

They dock. Butch pulls herself strongly in zero G along some tunnel from the capsule. Buffy follows bearing a backpack probably containing her packed fruitarian lunch lovingly prepared by her woke Mommy between buy and sell orders on the pork belly futures market of the NYSE. Behind her comes Mankini, who seems incapable of carrying the same backpack as Buffy, even in a no gravity situation. She offers to help him and he gratefully shucks it off and gives it to her. She forges womanfully ahead bearing both. Mankini heaves an exhausted sigh of relief at being rid of such a killing burden.

Kerrrist, talk about labouring the message about how useless men are.

They start to settle into their two year mission. Butch scowls gruffly at various screens and stabs buttons decisively. Buffy lugs assorted large aluminium boxes around the place while Mankini wanders around inner space with a worried look on his face and a clutch purse in one hand. He’s still getting over the mild peril experience that nearly shattered him.

Buffy spots him in distress and whizzes to his aid. Anything I can get you? No, I’m good. Perhaps a beer? No, he snaps back. He’s nearly in danger of raising his voice to her but that’d be a useless gesture as she’s already turned her back on him and is on her way to lifting yet another heavy box. Cue quickie shot of Buff with condescending smirk #1 plastered across her noseless face at her brilliant skewering of poor weak Mankini, who by the battering he’s already had ten minutes into the movie is starting to look like Saturday night’s used condom found in an alleyway the next morning.

Still no news from my nemesis whom I’m aware is always watching but this time I know he isn’t one careful yard into the treeline or behind some protective stone wall, but rather sitting atop it, grinning, something horribly complicated and large calibre across his lap which in his hands could take the dangling bollocks off a young and carefree mosquito buzzing away at a distance of anything up to one and one half kilometers away. Your choice Sir. Left or right bollock?

He’s out in the sunshine, a glass of Wild Turkey in one hand and a smoke in the other. Oh Lord, why did I ever give up? He’s just enjoying the show except in this case I’m the show rather than the Hollywood woke abomination I’m by now madly determined to find at least one bloody redeeming quality in. It’s looking pretty bleak on that front.

Things munch along indifferently until Butch spots a tidy blob of blood on the floor. She whips out her screwdriver which just happens to have exactly the right Pozidriv bit in it and unscrews a roof panel. Out drops some unconscious black dude and she leaps backward in horror. Mr Stowaway, I assume. None of your two fingers on one of his carotids to see if he’s still alive after a nine G launch that didn’t manage to do anything more than squeeze a drop of blood out of a presumed hole in him, nor the even more puzzling question of how he managed to screw the panel back in place after he’d carefully hidden himself away in the ceiling crawl space.

Barely twenty minutes into the thing, I give up and use Messrs Martin & Baker’s patented escape mechanism. Eject, eject, eject! I’m suddenly high in the sky drifting gently downwards to Earth. Having carefully prepared the ground, I’m still determined to be entertained. He may have his Wild Turkey, but I’ve got a vintage bottle of Templeton’s whiskey in the tall cupboard in the kitchen. On reflection, I recall I’ve also got a DVD of The Long Riders somewhere in the house. All I have to do is A) Find it and B) Remember how old tech like a DVD player works, especially as I know the remote has been safely cleared away into some unlikely location in the Twilight Zone by Ayesha.

I know why you turned it off at that point.

It’s him again and he’s trying his hand at subtlety. He’s not very good at it. From the front and planting a tomahawk directly between your eyeballs is more his style. Determined to ignore him, I discover the remote orphaned DVD player has a hidden panel that drops open to reveal a selection of buttons with Sino-English symbols on them. Figure out which one means open, which one is close and which one is play. After that, all I’ve got to do is some experimental HDMI swapping of leads on the back of the huge interociter thingy in the living room before a picture appears. It doesn’t, so to Hell with it. I give up.

Gowon then, tell me why I turned it off.

It’s because you knew that when Mandingo fell out of the ceiling, it’d be yet another white man free Hollywood movie.

What about Mankini?

I seem to remember someone raging about a little yellow slanty-eyed bastard who was trying to kill them just before they bloopered him into oblivion with an M79.

He’s right of course, but how the fuck does he know stuff like that about me?

I catch up with the young whipper snapper who pointed me at Stowaway in the first place and we have some words, as they used to say in the East End.

Sorry, it was a joke. I thought you’d get it.


Did you really last twenty minutes into it? Seriously? I was out of it well before ten.

He probably was too, and he’s being kind to me – I’d bet he barely made five minutes into it and he’s a slightly nerdy astronomy type who’re not ordinarily famed for their aesthetic sensibilities but definitely know when they’re being mankinied. It’s probably just me. I’m getting old and slow unlike young Master Edward Whipper-Snapper who’s in the early rungs of that 25-45 high disposable income bracket beloved of by most retailers. Like the rest of us, he won’t be spending much disposable income on the current Hollywood product. It stinks.

The deeper story is that Hollywood having worked very hard to make itself culturally irrelevant, is being tuned out by most white men of any age.


Related articles by Pointman:

Am I still on that feckin’ planet?

The steady-state environment delusion

Sleeping with the enemy.

Click for a list of other articles.

6 Responses to “Thank you Hollywood, don’t call me, I’ll let you know”
  1. Margaret Smith says:

    I agree completely and I miss those handsome young men. I didn’t like women being shoved into ‘damsel in distress’ parts like useless bits of love-interest but things have gone over the top now and well into the improbably zone. For instance I have never understood why women would want to be on the front line in combat. War is what men do and I’d let them get on with it. That said, there were successful women in the WW2 French underground using German men’s chauvinism against them.
    That film sounds horrendous and all space fantasy (i.e. interstellar travel) has to involve magic so should be fun and definitely not ‘woke’


  2. barkerjim says:

    I am amazed that you talked yourself into watching it. Just the stowaway on a trip to Mars caused my eyebrows to twitch.


  3. philjourdan says:

    I do not consider “Interstellar” to be a great SciFi movie. YMMV.

    However I also do not consider 2001 to be a great one either. The story is great! But the movie lacked depth.

    Dune was close. It tried to follow the book, but you cannot do that in a 2 hour movie.

    About the closest I can come to a good “SciFi” movie was Childhood’s End. As it was a series, at least it captured most of the essence of the book. A fantastic book! But it did sour the wine with its derivations. I will never know why Hollywood hacks think they can improve on a Master writer’s work.


  4. Simon Derricutt says:

    Pointy – the mechanics of flying to Mars could well change fairly soon, since there’s some interesting (and somewhat outrageous) physics being tested at the moment. You might find it interesting to see and maybe dig deeper.

    If this ends up proven and working, it should be possible to lift off without needing a rocket or reaction-mass, and the trip to Mars could be days rather than the odd year or so.


  5. Doonhamer says:

    Once, long long ago Toni Collette acted in a good film. Muriel’s Wedding.


    • Pointman says:

      She also turned in a great performance in the movie About a Boy as the deranged, loving new-age mum of some kid whose only terror in life was not stopping his crazy mum committing suicide.



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