Archive for the ‘Science’ Category




Here’s a movie with some personal relevance to me.  It’s not like I recognized much in THE SQUID & THE WHALE as familiar – Brooklyn is part of my family’s history but it’s not where I personally grew up, my family is smart but not remotely this pretentious, and none of the dramatic specifics of the story have much at all to do with my own upbringing – but the significance of the unusual title turned out to have a whole lot to do with my memories.




THE SQUID & THE WHALE” refers to something that is familiar to any kid who grew up in and around New York City – the “Clash Of The Titans” exhibit in the Museum of Natural History’s Hall Of Ocean Life, wherein a giant squid grapples with a sperm whale, miles under the ocean’s surface.  In the movie, Jesse Eisenberg’s character suggests that he found this exhibit to be scary – I of course loved it.  I definitely preferred the humongous blue whale that hangs suspended over the center of the hall – I would ‘tempt fate’ by standing under it, wondering how the heck that big monster could be held up by such tiny strings.  (I loved learning about animals as a kid, but I preferred to leave physics and engineering mysterious.)




So it’s not the most immediately awesome title, but it carries a subtle evocativeness that I really appreciated.  Writer/director Noah Baumbach was very clever to choose a title that so serves so blatantly as a metaphor for the central conflict of his movie, but by obscuring its meaning with such a specific reference.  The movie is equally smart and thought-provoking; I’m sorry that it took me all this time to get around to seeing it, but I’m glad that it was so worthwhile once I finally did.  The performances by the young actors, Owen Kline and the now-deservedly-ubiquitous Jesse Eisenberg, are startling and brave.  Laura Linney, as their mom, is always good, and so is Jeff Daniels, one of the most quietly versatile and unfairly underrated actors anywhere in movies.  Even Anna Paquin is good in this movie.  I also really liked the sunny, autumnal NYC photography by Robert Yeoman, on loan from THE SQUID & THE WHALE‘s co-producer Wes Anderson.




If you’re like me and you held out this long, check this movie out.  It’s deeply personal and at times EXTREMELY uncomfortable, but somehow it’s still accessible and palatable because it gets to some really universal feelings.


And that museum looks so great on film.


Squid Vs. Whale



THE SQUID & THE WHALE is playing today at BAMcinématek as part of their series, Brooklyn Close-Up.







It’s Shark Week, so here are my top ten favorite shark facts, most of which come courtesy of The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey.

10. Great whites suntan. Their hides start out already dark on the top, and can be made darker still by the sun. Great white sharks are only actually white on their undersides. (I guess if you have the cojones to get under one, you can name it whatever you like.)

9. At 8 inches long, the deepwater dogfish shark is likely the smallest shark, and most likely the kind that Ice-T has in his home aquarium.

8. The largest shark to ever have lived is likely the megalodon, which was over 3 times as big as the largest great white. Luckily, extinct.

7. The largest shark on earth is the whale shark, which can grow to 60 feet long. Whale sharks only eat plankton, so quit whining.  Dolphins are meaner.

6. The only sharks who have ever attacked humans are the Great White shark, the Tiger shark, the Bull shark, & the Great Hammerhead shark.  Every other kind of shark (and there are over 400) is virtually harmless to human beings.

5. In millions of years, the single greatest threat to sharks has always been us. And the nasty, disgusting things we do to our oceans.

4. Still scared of sharks?  Look at it this way:  Statistically speaking, you have better chances of getting hit by a car, getting arrested, or hooking up with Kim Kardashian (learn to dribble first), than of being attacked by a shark.

3. Weirdest things ever found inside the bellies of great whites: A buffalo head, a man in a suit of armor, a reindeer, and Mario Van Peebles.

2. Shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone. The only fossils they leave are teeth — that’s why we don’t know how big they can get.

1. Sharks have been on the planet for more than 420 million years.  Trees have existed for 360 million years.  Do that math: Sharks are so old they predate TREES.

That’s some pretty badass science right there.

You’ve heard about the Jesus Fish?

I hereby submit the Jesus Shark.

More of this kind of behavior on Twitter:  @jonnyabomb