There are about seven minutes of the movie Encounters at the End of the World on the web. I have viewed them all. If the rest of the movie is like those seven minutes, then it may be a particularly accurate sample of what life is like in the US Antarctic Program. At least, it seems accurate compared to a sample of my experience.
For instance, the part of the movie where they put the dive gloves on Henry Kaiser - I can vouch for that. I have also put gloves on Henry Kaiser before a dive only nobody was there filming at the time. But it was just like the movie.
Henry produced the movie Encounters at the End of the World and his friend Werner Herzog directed it. So if it winds up in wider distribution, everyone can have a pretty good accounting of what life is like if you're hanging out with Henry in Antarctica.
This may or may not interest people.
The tag line for the movie is: "At the end of the world, things get weird."
I think this has already been explained to you.
By the way, other noders have been to McMurdo station. They don't come around here very much anymore. I have a suggestion as to why that happens.
After the ice, things shift in relative importance. Noding, for example, may fall off one's list of regular items to conduct. In its place may land something like: scanning the skies for clouds shaped like rabbits.
Part of me is suggesting to everyone I know to find and see that film. And then the other part of me is hoping everyone nods at me and then avoids it.
The part that wants people to see it is hoping it will provide a shared experience. Then people can say: "Oh, that's what it was like. I thought it was something else."
And I can say, "Yes -- see? That's what it is."
It's not any kind of heroics or bravery. It sort of - one day you're at Safeway deciding on whether or not you need another pint of Ranch-style Salad Dressing. And if you're a pint of salad dressing low - should you spring for the "Newman's Own" brand or the "Hidden Valley Ranch"?
And then a few days later you're standing on top of Hjorth hill with a mil-grade box of telecommunications equipment and a survival bag, a couple thousand feet above the frozen surface of McMurdo Sound, surrounded by kilometers of rock and ice, thousands of miles from civilization, watching the helicopter recede into the distance knowing there is no way you could survive a climb down, so the helo has to come back or you're dead, thinking - "Damn, I should have gone for the Newman's Own."
And then the other part of me is hoping Herzog didn't get any footage of the GAs getting trashed on government subsidized booze and using a game of naked Twister to initiate an orgy.
Because then I'd have a lot of explaining to do about things I had no part of. This is the way it works in our world. One is easily branded for all known events that have happened close to a locale at which one once resided.
"You mean you didn't know there was a crack house next door?"
"That was before I moved in. Now there's new people there. The Baxters. Bob and Shirley."
"Come on. You must have gone over there. Hey - wait. You did! You told me you went over there. You must have -- how did you avoid developing a dependency? Or did you go cold turkey?"
"Really, when did you stop with the crack?"
"Wait. It was Ranch dressing. The Baxters. I needed some and I went over to ask Shirley about if they had any."
"No offense, and I fully appreciate your bravery in beating your addition, but maybe we shouldn't see each other so much any more."
"It was Hidden Valley. She gave me the whole bottle but I only used a tablespoon. I gave the rest back. Honest, it was nearly a whole bottle."
"Denial isn't pretty, my friend."
So if Herzog's got any naked ice scrapers in his movie I'd have to explain:
"Hey, I was the guy in the corner sipping really bad coffee repeating over and over, 'I'm married, honey,' and, 'are you sure nobody's got a camera phone?'"
Or maybe I could just nip the thing in the bud and say, "Okay. Alone on the ice, naked twister with three female post-doc biologists who haven't even seen a male human in months -- really -- what can I say? It was great but I only did it once. Surely you must have done that at some point in your life so you know what I mean. Can we move on?"
But the film is rated "G" so there's probably none of that.
I did watch the film trailer. There's a scene in which my friend, Karen, is squeezing herself into a USAP issue duffle bag.
When I most recently saw her I asked if she was in the Herzog movie, and I think she told me about the duffle bag scene.
And I'm pretty sure I said, "And you wanted people to see that?"
And I'm pretty sure she said, "Got any more of that Armenian brandy?"
And I'm pretty sure I handed her an orange juice glass full of it.
Me and Karen and the blonde haired girl all have stories published in a certain Antarctic anthology. I generally never talk about it, because I really don't want to have to answer any questions about that story they printed. The problem is the stories grow in people's minds and expand to things you never intended.
Like, if someone were to say to me: "Come on - you were lying when you said you didn't sleep with those post-doc biologists. Tell the truth."
I'd have to say, "I'd prefer not to answer any questions about that story," because if I say, "no, it didn't," I won't be believed. A heterosexual man, namely me, alone in a tent hundreds of miles from the nearest other person with some drunk randy women, a major Antarctic storm looming on the horizon -- well you'd have to be nuts or a robot not to succumb to temptation, and I don't look crazy or metallic enough to resist. And if I said, "Yes, it did," people will presume something worse than sex with three women happened that I don't want to talk about.
So really, it doesn't pay to be a writer, sometimes.
But, I think Karen's story is true and so is the blonde haired girl's.
I have a lot of other things to write about but I can't get them onto paper, physical or electronic.
Like I saw that Genesis reunion concert. Like the blonde haired girl and I went to China and a couple other countries. Like the great father's day I had with my kids kayaking out to the otters. Like how lucky I am the blonde haired girl sleeps in my bed with me at night.
But these are other things to be written another day when my music comes back.