Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Alien Cinematic Universe

Recovering from my hernia operation I watched a lot of movies from the library and kept up with the habit. New stuff or previously unseen, favorites, and also some second chances. Two of those second chances were Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Both were stinkers with some good parts and the redeemable parts are why I rewatched them. Because I am a tinkerer of masturbatory parts I had to somehow reationalize the bullshit of these two films. 

Not that the prior 4 alien films (I'm ignoring AVP for now) aten't problematic but didn't need a rational backstory. Item: soon after the original alien came out, I'm in a bar with my coding geek coworkers and we got to talking about the weird Alien movie and the convoluted way the alien reproduced. I pointed out that parasitism is a vast and highly lucrative evoluionary niche, but the way the facehugger huged faces would suggest design. Too specific of  a vector, and Ridley Scott confirmed that aliens are designed.. These things are bioweapons. Multiply that in the movie Aliens .

The Alien franchise also inhabits the same universe as Bladerunner (and a 1998 Kurt Russell movie called Soldier} with replicants of those films being organic and eventually synthetic like Ash, Bishop, David and Walter and Call. This connection to Bladerunner/Soldier confirmed that humans had FTL transport, massive (fusion?) power generation to move gigantic shit around the stars. The other commonality is artificial general intelligence, which is far huger than mere fusion power. You see, once you have such a substrate, like a Universal Turing machine, you can run any conscious software that you like, human or alien. Couple it to a material insturmentality and you have protean technology. The only thing scarier is giving this access to life forms, input and output tailored for whatever by what looks like a black goo. (Per Sir Ridley, the black goo can only infect animal forms not plant. Its a rationalization to keep the human protagonists being eaten alive by the grass itself when they set off the lander).

So the black goo is the real villain here. Eating everything in its path to satisfy its objective function. In all the movies, there is no will or intent from this stuff except to spread. David, the android from the 2 prequel movies, is the designer of the xenomorph, but he is using another being's workshop and tools (the Engineers). 

Alien Covnenant is a glorious mess, but it solidifies where the prequels end and the first Alien begins.

What is harder to explain is that humans (per Prometheus) are engineered. In that movie, we see the replicant version of the Engineer species, the Space Jockeys, giants 8 to 14 feet tall. They are not androids, but biological replicants just like Decker and Kurt Russell's character in Soldier. (The story of Soldier is how the synthetics were favored by the corporation over "obsolete" replicant soldiers) 

As biological replicants, and unlike synthetics, they are vulnerable to the black goo, which is why the planets in Prometheus or Covenant are not the Engineer home or colony worlds. They were military bases. Go back and look at the Covenant footage when the Juggernaut docks and before David bombs them all with goo, they have the look of soldiers and airmen at Tinian welcoming back the Enola Gay from bombing Hiroshima. And then the goo hits the fans.

The alien world in Prometheus was both Area 51 and a strike base for the Engineer race, clearly. The hubris of humans to waltz in was well depicted, arrogant stupid little monkeys.

In the confrontation scene between awakened Space Jockey and Weyland, Sir Ridley tells us David asked the alien "This man wants to know if he can have more life".  The Space Jockey carresses David's hair, and then picks him up and rips his head off. The Space Jockey is enraged because their black goo weapon had sent back dolls. What the fuck am I going to do with these things as ground troops? Cancel the whole batch.

Can you blame the guy? We were supposed to be super weapons like the xenomorphs.

Where does this leave us?  The first and last question of this whole film series is why the goo? Who is the Eneny that so frightens them they create this doomsday goo? I can't see it being a rival facion of their own species. At this point you can throw in the AVP universe and suppose the Predators are their enemy but I think not.

There's something scary out there, if you think about it. Way scarier than jump scare monsters. In future Alien movies, here are known facts. 

1 David is still alive and has a planetary laboratory on Origa 4 or whatever. 
2 The Engineers are out there and they are still at war with some Enemy.
3 The Enemy is out there as well
4 Earth is a legitimate target to the section 51 crowd.

Friday, August 4, 2023

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I took the summer off to get an umbilical hernia repaired. Leave it to an American to take time off from work for a medical procedure and then call it a vacation. Meanwhile all my friends and acquaintances are on vacation and I'm eating a toasted cheese sandwich.

Eight weeks on from the operation and I still have tender spots but I'm heading for heavy lifting. I've babied myself for seven weeks and hit the gym last week, so this is week 2 of I assume 9-10 weeks of trying to get to my remembered peak at 60 when I was a fucking animal.

I remember once at the gym this kid, big muscle kid in his 20s asked 'scuse me sir but how old are you? 60, I said.  60!!! Dude you are my hero.

We Kurmans are naturally muscular so I was a fucking animal from 17 on anyways. But I had a schedule at 60 I started at 20: two upper body days, two legs days, core and kettle bells on Friday. Run every day. In my 20s I was a werewolf. Now I'm a silverback, longer to heal and recover. Intermittent fasting got me from my pre-op fat slob weight of 224 down to current 214. I see no shrink of the belly but what would I do without my fat anyway?

I took a fitness evaluation and I got superior (for my age). I walk almost everyday and try to get in at least 2.5 miles. My resting heart rate is 64. My suspicion is I'm gonna be an old Norwegian fisherman and hit the high 90s. I can't afford that. 

Aside from the VR and animation, I've been looking at AI art, and what I like is not the AI and the prompts so much as the centaurs. Centaurs, the people using the AI to make stuff. There is still uncanny valley, a seeping in of nightmare realities in the images and videos. Now that artists are using their own images and prompts to embellish, I've seen some neat stuff. I like where it is going. Motion picture and TV wise, my prediction is the public will want authenticity at some point and we see more practical effects and a big revival (with the help of AI) of light weight sets, now self-assembling sets what with the robots. Perfect for quick change in the theater. What you tihnk theater is going away? Ha! AI and robots are supergay, perfect for the theater. Folks get tired ot all the CGI magic.

A hugre impact now already is editing, and AI is all over that.

Directing a picture is just creating a camera roll. The editor makes the picture. A kickass centaur film editor, or team, can give you some kickass editing. Already been happening.

LK-99 anyone? I'm still waitng for more replications since the procedure is published and simple. So far, not good for room temperature, but they got superconductor at -160C, not bad and way above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen. A chinese lab has got magnetic levitation, but no one yet gets both. This copper-doped lead apatite is polycrystalline, so it is possible there is a pathway matrix that works, perhaps like a lead lined highway with copper bumper guards, that they need to isolate. 

The Korean papers said superconducting as high as 60-90C, which is the high one hundreds which makes this discovery not just astounding but ready for hard, dirty work. And wouldnt' it be ironic if the call for lead caused us to clean up all the tainted lead sites, and buried cable and pipe,  to make superconducting circuits, wire and cable?