Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

March 10, 2014 at 10:34am

Nerd Alert! "The Empire Striketh Back," South Sound theater, "Cosmos" debut ...

Space nerds across America sat down Sunday to watch "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey," a long-anticipated reboot of a classic Carl Sagan series about the universe.

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Standing up in the Milky Way, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.


Theater geeks have plenty to keep them busy this weekend, as Neil's Simon's dramedy Chapter Two treads the boards at Tacoma Little Theatre, while The Man of La Mancha (a musical retelling of Don Quixote) tilts at windmills for Tacoma Musical Playhouse. I'm seeing both, between performances of 12 Angry Men at Lakewood Playhouse, so expect reviews soon. Meanwhile, a beautifully acted production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof continues at Harlequin Productions. This is the time of year when local troupes announce their upcoming seasons, so I look forward to passing that on to you in an upcoming summary.


It's a fine day for Blu-ray and DVD shoppers, with American Hustle, Frozen and Saving Mr. Banks all hitting shelves the same day. Each is fantastic, but only one stars the lovely and talented Adele Dazeem. If you're a Terry Pratchett fan, his new Discworld novel Raising Steam is in stores, as is William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back, a faux-Elizabethan sequel by Ian Doescher. You could also give Pierce Brown's debut adventure Red Rising a try. It's been marketed as a YA novel, but it's a straight-up SF novel for adults. I'm enjoying it and look forward to its inevitable sequels.

Now let's talk Cosmos. You did watch that first episode, right? I mean, I practically begged on my knees. I was able to procure a screener of the pilot, but I saw it too late to review it for Nerd Alert. (Instead, my glowing endorsement is posted on "Carv's Thinky Blog," www.ChristianCarvajal.com.) This week's episode, airing on Fox Sunday, March 16 at 9 p.m., is called "Some of the Things That Molecules Do." If you miss it, it airs the next night on Nat Geo and lots of other Fox-affiliated cable networks. Is it about chemistry? Yes. I imagine. I don't know. No one else does, either, because critics got the first hour only.

Incidentally, that colorful nebula in Cosmos's opening titles is a retouched view of the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), a cloud of dusty gas lit by the ultraviolet emanations of a dying star 650 light-years from us. It's an awesome phenomenon, really - a star very much like our own sun has burned through its store of hydrogen, and now it's collapsing into a dense ball the size of the earth. How dense, you ask? (Pretend you asked.) Think tons per teaspoon. It'll burn through its helium soon, before moving on to heavier atoms such as carbon and nitrogen. Eventually it'll sputter into white dwarf status, then fade away entirely. An ignominious fate, don't you think? It'll happen to our own sun some five billion years from now. The brighter they burn, folks, the harder they fall. Sigh ...

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may your Cosmic Calendar always be full.

Filed under: Nerd Alert!, Olympia, Theater, Screens,
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