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‘The Polka King’ Steals Hearts and Money in True Life Adventure

What if I told you there was a Polish immigrant in Pennsylvania, who fronted a Polka band, met Trump, George Burns and the Pope, and ran a Ponzi scheme that bilked people out of their life savings? “The Polka King” is based on the true story of Jan Lewan.

Jack Black’s portrayal of Jan Lewan is positive, upbeat, and American. Lewan does everything to make a dollar and to climb up the ladder of success, but it’s never enough. Then he hits on the idea to get investors for his career. Offering a 12% return on their investment, Lewan unknowingly embarks on a huge Ponzi scheme, and everyone is happy as long as they’re making money. He gets caught by the government and gets a warning, but the allure of easy money that can help him, his bandmates and his wife get ahead, is too much to resist. He continues with the scheme.

From the beginning of the film to the “Rappin’ Polka” ending, which might be the funniest moment of the film, “The Polka King” is baffling. It’s clear that what Jan is doing is wrong, but his heart seems to be in the right place. He’s just looking toward future success. How does something like this happen in real life? It can only happen in the movies, and sometimes in Pennsylvania – they have the pictures, newspaper articles and videos to prove it.

“The Polka King” provides plenty of fun and a little comedy. And if you don’t watch out for it, you might be hit with a dose or two of criticism of American Culture.

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Roger Ebert and What I Learned from the Nostalgia Critic about Living a Better Life

In the Nostalgia Critic’s tribute video to Roger Ebert, the Nostalgia Critic unpacks a lot of wisdom and lays it out for the viewer. What he sees in Roger Ebert is amazing, and what the Nostalgia Critic sees should be what we all strive to be.

The Nostalgia Critic’s greatest point about Roger Ebert, and by extension Gene Siskel, is that Ebert had a passion for movies. From the classics to animated films to the dreck released by Hollywood, like “Leonard 6,” Ebert was passionate about movies. When they were bad, he got angry about it. When they were good, he experienced great joy. These feelings and his expression of them were all a part of his love for film as an art and cultural signpost. The passion for film was a large part of what made him and Siskel so successful at a job that many would say is inconsequential. After all, “it’s just a movie,” but to them both it never was.

Passion is what makes us successful at life. Unfortunately, everyday life and its responsibilities can sap your passion. It can take what you love and tie it to money until your passion is squeezed out and turns to drudgery. Everyday life carries debts, worries and obligations that stymie and steal energy from your passion. It can even make your passion seem inconsequential, like the movies.

If you find your life is devoid of passion, seek out what brings you joy again and grab at it. Hold onto it and rekindle your passion because that’s what the human experience is about. When you are doing what you’re passionate about, you become a more creative and happier you.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

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Does ‘Avengers: Endgame’ trailer tell the whole story?

Marvel has misled us before with its trailers. They have shown clips that didn’t make it in the movie: Remember the Hulk in the Battle of Wakanda? It was in the trailer but not in the movie. Marvel has also created trailers that showed scenes from the first 30 minutes and nothing else. (I think it was “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”) They’ve kept entire stories under wraps, except when Tom Holland has spilled the beans, and apparently Holland didn’t get the entire script for “Avengers: Endgame.”

What if this is what they’re doing now? These trailers could be from the first hour of the movie leaving the last two hours under wraps while we all pontificate over the details.

What are we going to see? Two and a half hours of Avengers assembling? This isn’t a Lego movie, and we already did that in “The Avengers.” Two and half hours of Tony Stark lost in space? This isn’t a sequel to “Gravity,” and Robert Downey, Jr. is no George Clooney. Two and a half hours of a “Fantastic Voyage through Inner Space”? We’ve been to the Quantum Realm; Marvel wouldn’t take us there again for the same meta-reason Doctor Strange didn’t use his Dormammu-bargaining time loop with Thanos.

They have to show the Avengers avenging to pay off Tony Stark’s assertion that “If we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn sure we’ll avenge it.” So far, the Avengers haven’t done any avenging. They protected the Earth on two occasions. They have to recruit Hawkeye/Ronin. They have to get Nebula and Tony Stark back. They may face trip through the Quantum Realm. They may get transported through space by Captain Marvel.

But we’ve already seen them battle Thanos. We’ve seen them in their glory, even if they didn’t win, even if it was without Captain Marvel. We’ve seen them going after the Mad Titan. Marvel isn’t going to make a three-hour long film about something they’ve already done. A battle they win against Thanos can’t be any more exciting than the one they already loss. We might as well plug in the Battle of Helm’s Deep. If Marvel wants to score more than just the largest opening weekend ever, it’s going to need to do something new. The addition of Captain Marvel and some time travel mumbo-jumbo isn’t it.

Which brings us to the Endgame… The Gamemaster, Red Skull, ADAM from Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Collector are presumably still around. Any of these characters could figure into the plot, especially considering that Jeff Goldblum and Benicio del Toro are big enough names not to waste on a couple of cameos and a theme park attraction. Maybe there’s a villain we haven’t seen manipulating Thanos and events.

Where does the story go after Thanos? I doubt if a second meeting and subsequent defeating of Thanos will be satisfying enough to justify three hours of film, and if that’s the case and “Avengers: Endgame” is only about beating Thanos, it could have a short and financially disappointing theater run. Then again, what if that Hulk scene in Wakanda was filmed for “Avengers: Endgame”?

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The Problem with ‘the Single’ in Disney’s Movie Business

Disney movie tie ins

In his examination of Disney’s “Dumbo,” “Forbes” writer Scott Mendelson laments the Disney Company’s penchant for releasing big budget films that have already been made, including the live-action remakes of animated classics and the multiple sequels that Disney has released over the course of roughly the last decade, and while he acknowledges that the studios are in part to blame, he also lays the blame on movie goers. “The studios can’t responsibly green-light what they know audiences will not go to see in theaters.”

The Dollars and Sense of It All

In 1984, when Michael Eisner became CEO of the Disney Company, the top grossing movie was “Beverly Hills Cop” with almost $235 million and $316 million worldwide. Disney’s movie releases were in the tank and not making what they should be with a few exceptions. In 1984, Touchstone’s “Splash” opened at No. 1 on the chart and grossed over $69 million (Box Office Mojo) by the time it finished its run; it cost $8 million to make. The film was a huge success at the time, and it brought in about $62 million profit.

Eisner looked at the situation and decided that Disney and its movie making companies would make smaller budget films that would make money rather than hope for a summer blockbuster that could fail. They were going to hit singles rather than try for homeruns. In 1986, “Ruthless People,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “The Color of Money” were released with grosses of $71, $62 and $52 million making them the 9th, 11th and 12th highest grossing movies of the year. Eisner’s strategy was successful, and Disney carved out a niche with these low budget, over-performing types of films.

Flash forward to 2018 and the surprise hit (not Disney) “A Quiet Place.” With a budget of $17 million dollars, this is the type of film Disney would’ve happily made in the 1980s. The movie made $340 million dollars worldwide ($323 million profit). Marvel’s “Black Panther” cost about $200 million to make and brought in over $1.3 billion; domestically, it was the top grossing film of the year. It would take about three “A Quiet Place” size releases to make the same amount of profit as “Black Panther.” However, “Black Panther” was a surprise in its own way.

Marvel’s sure thing for the year was “The Avengers: Infinity War” – a sequel, which according to the just over $2 billion box office gross, you’re probably familiar with. The estimates for the cost of the film run between $300 million and $400 million. Even on the high side of the estimate, the film brought in $1.6 billion, or the rough equivalent of five “A Quiet Places.”

I understand these numbers aren’t exact. There are marketing costs to consider as well as what the actual theaters make, which is different depending on the country. However, the point is it doesn’t make any sense for a company that brings in $12.6 billion (2018 net income) to worry about $10 or $20 million, the budget of “A Quiet Place” for a return of only $323 million. As Mendelson pointed out, Disney had taken risks with “Tomorrowland” (profit at a scant $20 million), “The Finest Hours” (losses estimated at $20 million), and “The Queen of Katwe” (estimated loss of $5 million). These movies didn’t return enough profit to justify their existence.

Other Sources of Income

When “Star Trek” dolls were released and the series ended, the sales of the toys dried up as well. There wasn’t anyway to remind people about the purpose of the toys without the show. When “Star Trek: The Next Generation” returned the Star Trek universe to television, toy sales skyrocketed.

In 1983, Funimation released “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” after Reagan deregulated children’s programming. The show was designed to sell He-Man action figures. Once it made it on the air and He-Man sales sky-rocketed every toy company got involved in Saturday Morning Cartoons: “Transformers,” “Go-Bots,” “M.A.S.K.,” “Jem and the Holograms,” and “G.I. Joe” to name a few. Whether the show or the action figures came first is of little consequence, what mattered was that some of the cartoons were pulled from the air not because of the cartoons’ popularity, but because the toys lacked sales.

Disney’s synergistic approach to marketing means the media giant isn’t looking just at the movies. It’s also looking at what it can make from tie-ins. Dumbo’s new movie release, regardless of how it’s received, sells more stuffed Dumbos. Marvel’s movies sell more superhero action figures, Lego sets, and whatever else they put their characters on. These things all bring in more money. Disney princesses outsell Barbie now are a multi-billion-dollar market segment. Their inclusion in “Ralph Breaks the Internet” keeps them fresh, updates them for this generation and keeps the product moving. The Disney company not only needs to create movie sequels and remakes because they are smaller financial risks, but also because they sell more toys, products and Disney park experiences.

What’s It All Mean?

There’s no incentive for Disney to green-light smaller film projects, even if they become the next “A Quiet Place.” The movie industry can only stand so many new films before there aren’t enough movie-goers to see them all. Worse, people say they want new stories, but they only think they want new stories. Audiences still flock to their favorite characters and movie franchises because its an acceptable risk. To spend $10 to $15 on a movie that you may not like or know nothing about doesn’t make much sense when you know that Marvel (or DC or Pixar) has a release right around the corner.

Moreover, Disney can make more money from product friendly franchises that it can tie into its theme parks than it ever could from a movie that has to stand on its own two legs. This all becomes more problematic with Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox, and it’s looming control of 40 to 50 percent of the box office. The studios will have to schedule movies so they don’t cut into each other’s profits, which will mean fewer movies and fewer opportunities for a smaller film to get made.

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company.

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‘Unicorn Store’: Embrace Your Creativity

When Kit (Brie Larson) is kicked out of art school and moves in with her parents, she decides, is coerced into, taking a job with a temp agency that palaces her in a PR firm. Kit puts away her childish things and becomes a business women with a suit she borrows from her mom. She meets the VP of the company, and naive about his intentions, she accepts his invitation to work on a Mystic Vacuum account.

She rejects her initial drawings, a Pokémon meets vacuum amalgamation, and tries to go with more traditional representations of women vacuuming, which she draws on graph paper for added grown-upness. These mundane vacuums and their housewives earn her creepy boss’ approval, but they don’t work for Kit.

She finally gets an idea and recruits her work friend and the delivery guy to help her with the presentation. They come in at the end of the sexy woman, baby, selfie vacuum presentation, and pitch Kit’s idea with glitter, magic, creativity, love and enthusiasm. She has an original idea that would sell vacuums through the sheer differentiation factor.

The woman executive who is in charge of the Mystic Vacuum company thinks it’s too much. She likes the sexy woman with the selfie, baby and vacuum – an idea that says women can have it all, and one that is outdated and done to death. All of the other male ad execs express the same sentiment. So, it comes down to the boss, and Kit has hope.

The boss said earlier that the lack of creativity in the work place was killing him. He still chooses the woman, vacuum, baby, selfie by asking to be told more about the lingerie. Kit loses her job.

While the movie itself is whimsical and freeing, this particular commentary on creativity in the workplace is all too real. On average, creative people get fewer promotions and fewer raises than their less creative co-workers. They face ridicule for their ideas and blame when the idea fails while not receiving commensurate rewards when an idea succeeds. No matter what people say about creativity, most times bosses, teachers and coworkers want the comfort of the known and the safe.

For Kit, it’s all for the best. She seeks her own personal unicorn and finds her creative self and the support she needs to continue being creative. For creative people, it’s important to learn that many ideas will be rejected not because they’re bad or they won’t work but because people fear the unknown and failure, and every new idea carries a risk with it. Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but it can be better if you find people who love and support your work, even if they are relative strangers.

For more on creativity, get “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Order “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

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Thinking Deeply with the Nostalgia Critic Exposes American Culture and Identity

The Speakers’ Club at Satori School where I lead English Speaking sessions first introduced me, figuratively speaking, to the Nostalgia Critic. When I asked which topics they would like to cover before the Speakers’ Club ended for the season, the Nostalgia Critic was one of the right topics they chose. So, I started doing some research.

First, I filled out the contact form on Channel Awesome. I thought if the kids could actually talk with Doug Walker they would get more out of the session and enjoy it 11 times more (because Doug likes to go one step beyond) than if I conducted the session myself. I didn’t expect a response, but Doug did get back to me to tell me he was too busy to Skype, but he would be doing something special for the kids. And he did.

Then I started looking at the 12 seasons of videos he has done. I had to cull them by length and relevance. Speakers’ Club is only 90 minutes long, so I tried to find videos that were in the 20-minute range or less. Relevance was a little more problematic. I tried to stay away from videos that would most interest my class – the Batman ones – and find videos that would speak to the American culture.

The tribute to Roger Ebert, the video on originality, and Is Charlie Brown Christmas overrated? are the ones that caught my eye and ear. In these three videos, Doug Walker breaks down the reason why things are the way they are and how it affects the culture at large. His commentary shows that he has thought deeply about these subjects. He didn’t just dismiss them out of hand or accept them as they are, he went beyond to understand what it is that appeals to him, others and how they have altered America in their way. His M&M characters video shows the same amount of thought and research but was too long for inclusion in the Speakers’ Club.

The Nostalgia Critic is loud, brash and swears. Sometimes, he makes not safe for work jokes that are inappropriate for a younger crowd. However, he doesn’t just rip things apart – something that would be easy to do and possibly garner more video views. Instead, he applies his knowledge and research to whatever subject he’s discussing.

And what he’s discussing is the very essence of American Culture. He’s discussing the very things that made our childhoods and have thus made us Americans. He is discussing how we came to be who we are through our media consumption and what it means to us today. In short, his discussions touch the very core of our identities, and as such, his show is worthy of our attention. Dig into the Nostalgia Critic and find out who you are.

Books to help you think deeply: “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve your Creativity for a Better Life and World” and “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

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Speakers’ Club April 5, 2019: Music Groups

Speakers’ Club April 5, 2019: Music Groups

Rules:

Practice “Word Crimes”

Groups not singers; 1950s to 1980s.

Top Music groups of the 1950s – The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, The Platters, The Drifters, The Coasters…

Bill Haley & The Comets:

The Penguins:

Top Music Groups of the 1960s – The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Byrds, The Four Seasons, The Who, The Kinks, The Shirelles, The Drifters, The Four Tops, Martha & The Vandellas, Sam & Dave, Sly & The Family Stone, The Yardbirds, The Marvelettes, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Ventures, Jan & Dean, The Ronettes, The Band, The Velvet Underground, Junior Walker & The All-Stars, The (Young) Rascals, The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, The Righteous Brothers, Buffalo Springfield, The Chiffons, The Isley Brothers, Tommy James & The Shondells, The Turtles, The Shangri-Las, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas & The Papas, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Simon & Garfunkel, Janis Joplin/Big Brother & Holding Company, Ike & Tina Turner, The Jackson Five, Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention, Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, Sonny & Cher, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Van Morrison/Them, The Hollies, Steppenwolf, Herman’s Hermits, The Grateful Dead, The Beatles…

The Beach Boys: American Alternative to the Beatles; surfer rock:

The Rolling Stones: The Beatles alternative;

The Supremes: Diana Ross

The Doors: Jim Morrison, great for biking.

The Monkees: A TV Group that became a band. I got to meet Micky Dolenz at Salt Lake Comic Con!

Top Music Groups of the 1970s – Black Sabbath, Paul McCartney/Wings, Fleetwood Mac, Bee Gees, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, KISS, The Clash, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers Band, Aerosmith, The Ramones, Steve Miller Band, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Deep Purple, Three Dog Night, Temptations, AC/DC, Kool & The Gang. Doobie Brothers, Yes, War, The Guess Who, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Bad Company, Steely Dan, Electric Light Orchestra, Sex Pistols, Grand Funk Railroad, Kinks, Kansas, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, The Chi-Lites, America, Styx, Blondie, Jethro Tull, Foreigner, Moody Blues, ZZ Top…

Pink Floyd: Play “Dark Side of the Moon as an alternate soundtrack to “The Wizard of Oz”

The Eagles: Hotel California;

Queen: Legendary Freddie Mercury; great songs, terrible to bike to. Bohemian Rhapsody. https://youtu.be/fJ9rUzIMcZQ

Journey: Don’t Stop Believin’:

Heart: Two sisters, all heart!:

Van Halen: Not Van Hagar:

Top Music Groups of the 1980s – U2, Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, George Michael/Wham, Metallica, N.W.A, Rush, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motley Crue, The Cure, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, REO Speedwagon, Kool and the Gang, The Smiths, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Eurythmics, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Salt-N-Pepa, The Go-Go’s, Depeche Mode, Sonic Youth, Culture Club, Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, De La Soul, Chicago, Pixies, Simply Red, Thompson Twins, Dire Straits, R.E.M, The Pet Shop Boys, Whitesnake…

Duran Duran: The Reflex;

The Police: Sting;

Genesis: Phil Collins;

Beastie Boys:

Hall & Oates: Maneater;

The Cars: You Might think I’m crazy, Rick Ocasek;

Toto:

The Pointer Sisters:

The Bangles:

Men at Work:

Tears for Fears:

INXS

Scorpions:

The Talking Heads: David Byrne;

Huey Lewis and the News: Greatest band of the ‘80s;

Bon Jovi: Hair band; Livin’ on a Prayer:

B-52s: Rock Lobster:

Flight of the Conchords: Comedy group with multiple sounds

David Bowie Changes

and Major Tom

(Bowie’s in Space)

Pet Shop Boys: West End Girls

(Inner City Pressure)

Jemaine Clement MIB3, Tamatoa in Moana; Bret McKenzie

Minister’s Cat J

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‘Shazam!’ bring the popcorn and have some fun

“Shazam!” is a fun DC romp that shows DC can use humor on its superhero films. Sure, there are some scary parts (The monsters are U-G-L-Y; THEY AIN’T GOT NO ALIBI; THEY UGLY!), and 14-year-old Billy Batson uses his newfound adulthood for some nefarious purposes, one of which he rejects outright. Another he indulges in and commits a crime to go back for more. It’s played for comedy, so it works if you don’t think about it too much.

Zachary Levi is at his goofy, charming best, and “Shazam!” is a fun popcorn movie. If you remember “The Greatest American Hero,” you’ll recognize elements of the TV superhero comedy as Shazam tries to learn about his superpowers.

I saw this in Russian with my wife, who laughed far more than I did, and after discussing with her some of the things I didn’t catch, “Shazam!” may be a little deeper than a popcorn movie. That being said, it was fun, even if it has a deeper message about envy and family.

Apparently, there are some people, aka trolls, causing a ruckus pitting “Shazam!” against “Captain Marvel.” A small part of this stems from the DC vs. Marvel rivalry. Small minds have an issue with holding two competing theories in them, and it’s the same with this rivalry. You can like DC AND Marvel. It’s not either/or; don’t fall for the false dichotomy. In fact, if you like Indie comics and want to see more of them on the big screen, going to see films that are like the Indie comics you love will cause the studios to scour the nation looking for stories they can adapt, thus creating a larger market for the smaller IP.

A larger part of this trollduggery is the unfounded fear that males, and usually white males, have at being rendered irrelevant as the world changes. They lose a power that has been a birthright since before the U.S. was founded, and the act of taking that power away and distributing it so that all people have the same equality of opportunity feels like discrimination. What good are the movies if you don’t share them? While we could delve deeper into the psychology of this issue, I’m just going to let Zachary Levi take it from here:

Of course, if you still want to ring in on the Marvel vs. DC question, you can take our poll.

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My Niece, the Haunted Mansion and Fear

Niece and Minnie at Disneyland

When my oldest niece was about five, my mom and I took her on the Haunted Mansion. We went through the Stretching Room, down the Portrait Gallery and boarded the same Doom Buggy. As we rolled up the stairs and into the mansion, I was getting into it. The Haunted Mansion isn’t scary, but it’s fun to pretend it is.

So, I was taking everything seriously. The armor, the endless hallway with the floating candelabra, the chair that seems to be staring at you. Each new “horror” made me look more fearful. As we rotated to see the body trying to get out of the coffin, my mom hit me in the shoulder.

“Lighten up. You’re scaring your niece,” she whispered at me.

I switched the way I was looking at the mansion and laughed at its humorous elements. I kept smiling through the ride, and my niece had a great time. She wasn’t afraid of no ghosts.

Fortunately, the team of Claude Coats and Marc Davis helped to provide the elements of a frightening atmosphere and comic presentations. (Of course, there are plenty of contributions from other prominent imagineers, like Rolly Crump and his human-like furniture and wallpaper and the effects pioneered by Yale Gracey with Crump.) So, you can see the Haunted Mansion the way you want to. It is the creativity that the team put into the mansion that makes it a classic attraction that everyone loves.

For more on the Haunted Mansion and creativity, preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” You can also get “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve your Creativity for a Better Life and World.”

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

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One episode in: ‘Mars’ Proves We’re Not Ready to Be a Two Planet Species

Mars Rover

National Geographic’s “Mars” interchanges documentary footage with interviews from 2016 of the people trying to get there and scientists and authors who theorize what it’ll take with a science fiction story set in 2033 about the first manned mission to Mars. It’s a creative and ambitious attempt to get people interested in space travel again.

In the present day, the series focuses on SpaceX’s rocket building and failures. Interviews with Elon Musk are cut with scenes of rockets exploding and the SpaceX team reacting to the failures. Neil de Grasse Tyson has a small segment, and the author of “How We’ll Live on Mars” Stephen Petranek also makes his suggestions for successful colonization.

‘Mars’ celebrates humanity’s reaching for the stars while exposing everything that people will face, including the unknown, as they head to Mars. Humans are still in the infant stage of rocket control and production, even though rockets for transportation to space have been around since 1957’s Sputnik.

Sputnik, instead of inspiring an international cooperative effort, sparked a space race that sent Americans to the moon. It’s the international collective in “Mars” that’s still missing in real life. It exists in “Mars,” but in reality, the collective has yet to emerge. So, humanity is relying on Elon Musk, his SpaceX program and his ability to build a viable company in a capitalist society to send people to Mars.

SpaceX has already faced numerous failures, which is a part of the creative and innovation processes. They are attempting to do something no one has ever done. The failures and mistakes should be celebrated and learned from. They are the stepping stones to Mars. But what happens if SpaceX fails as a company? Who gets those records? Who will learn from the failures? If they stay with Musk or get lost in the dissolution of the company, those mistakes and failures are for nothing.

The 2033 depictions are entertaining, but given what we know now, 2033 is too ambitious of a deadline. With only 14 years left to get there and no infrastructure in place, the deadline will need to be pushed further into the future. At least, if we can judge by one episode.

Going to Mars is going to take more resources than one man has. Musk has the right intentions. He has the goal. The real question is how long his fortune can hold out while he pays people for failure after failure, and how much tie he’s willing to wait for success. At age 47, he’s got another 30 years or so left assuming an average life span. It may not be enough to get to the red planet. And the last unknown for Musk could doom SpaceX long before it gets to the end of its proposed road.