Pandemic Microbes, Dark Matter, China on the Moon: Your Weekend Reading

big baby bird in a sweater on a beach

Friday has arrived, with the swiftness of a desert tortoise crossing a state highway. Here is your recommended reading for the weekend.

    1. Mars. Scientists on the space station exposed two types of Antarctic microbes to simulated Mars-like conditions, and found that they’d probably survive if introduced to Mars.
    2. Science Fiction. Some lovely people are making a documentary about science fiction legend Ursula K. Le Guin. The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded them some funds, but won’t pony it up until the rest of the production costs are raised. So, Kickstarter to the rescue, of course.
    3. China on the Moon. In 2013, China sent a lander to the Moon, and took some stunning pictures with modern cameras. They also discovered a new kind of Moon rock. National Geographic has a nice gallery of the images.
    4. Pandemic. You may have heard recently of the Zika virus, a mosquito-born illness that might be causing a birth defect called microcephaly (small heads and brain damage), at high rates in babies born in Brazil. The link between Zika and these high rates of birth defects is not conclusive, but there is definitely something going on in Brazil.
    5. Only in Texas. That said, the Zika virus has now appeared in the US, but not through mosquito transmission. Texas has the honor of having the third known case in the world of sexually transmitted Zika virus, because of course we do.
    6. Cute and Deadly. On a lighter note, oh my gods I need all of these incredible vinyl toys from Shinbone Creative in their Thimblestump Hollow collection.
      They’re cute and terrifying, with deep, adorable eyes that could easily draw you down into a sweet, sappy doom of being disemboweled and eaten alive.
    7. Time and Dark Matter. According to Frank Wilczek, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the nature of Time probably has something to do with dark matter. I read this article three times before I really wrapped my head around the idea he’s getting at. It’s a great think piece, and my head’s spinning with the possible implications for time travel fiction.
    8. Humans are less special. A recent experiment indicates that ravens have a form of empathy, in that they can imagine another creature’s point of view.
    9. Horror. Have you heard about the upcoming horror movie Ava’s Possessions? No? How about Spirit Possessions Anonymous? Learn how SPA can help you with your demons in the video below, then go watch the teaser trailer.


Review: Hell Baby Killed Me With Laughing

hell-babyI am dead and writing this from beyond, having asphyxiated with laughter while watching Hell Baby. It was a good way to go, surprising, but good. I usually hate genre parodies (Scary Movie was not funny), but with a cast of comedians boasting the chops and dynamic to pull it off, I completely bought in.  The humor isn’t for everyone, so if you’re one of those people who can’t stand Reno 911 or Keye and Peele, you should probably stop reading and go watch a cat video.

Directed and written by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, Hell Baby is Amityville Horror hosts The Exorcist while The Omen watches the birth of Rosemary’s Baby.  This is a horror fan’s horror-comedy film.

Ripped screaming and bloody from the collective subconscious of the assholes who brought us Reno 911 and Darko Entertainment, Hell Baby casually sprays stereotypes of various societal bits every which way, and ruins your nice pants in the process. There’s a chain smoking Vatican swat team of buddy-cop exorcists who are total bad asses, sent to deal with the terrible Evil inhabiting a piece of shit boarded up old house in Some Poor Ass Neighborhood, New Orleans. That means I just saw a running gag about shrimp po’boys that was fucking hilarious. Oh Christ, this movie is nearly perfect.

They hit on an impressive range and variety of movie tropes, except zombies (unless Mrs. Nussbaum is even more horrifying than I initially realized. And now I will have nightmares with that in my head.).  

Even the gore is well done; I was impressed by those entrails dangling down the wall.  The acting is great; many of these people have been doing comedy together for years, and it pays off here with their rich chemistry.  The story moves at a fast pace and requires spot-on comedic timing.  The creepy old woman is probably going to traumatize you. Even F’resnel (Keegan Michael Keye) and his show-stealing antics can’t heal that wound.  Ugh…

This movie is exactly what would happen if Monty Python had manifested in modern day post millennial America, made parodies of horror films and had a few women in the troupe.

Hell Baby is currently showing in a very limited US release, but we managed to see it here in Texas because it is also available to stream on Amazon.

Do whatever you have to do to see this movie. If you stream it, throw a theme party, that’s what we did for this past Friday the 13th.  Homemade Devil’s Food cake stands between you and the path to glory, my friend. Turn Hell Baby into the hit it deserves to be.