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Shanghaied Into Watching 2001–a Remedy

Dear Tom Harley: My husband is a science nerd. He found out I have never seen 2001–A Space Odyssey and now he is going to make me watch it with him. What can I do?”


Dear person: You are probably sunk. About the only thing you can do is spoil it for him.

When he makes to explain how the caveman throws the bone in the air and it cuts to a spaceship (if they’re smart enough to club rivals senseless with bones, then it is ALL SYSTEMS GO!  for evolution—next step, the stars!) tell him, “Duh. Everybody knows that.”

When he explains how they painstakingly painted all the star scenes, ask “Why didn’t they just use Google maps?”

When you first hear Also Sprach Zarathustra, say, all excited, “That’s the music they play when there’s a car or mattress sale!”

When the beacon on the moon lets out a shrill blast, before he can explain its significance, say: “Whoa—a signal to the stars! They better go track that one down!”

When HAL catches the two astronauts planning to pull his plug, say: “What a boring movie! They should have put an intermission here so we can catch some shut-eye.” This will spoil his joy at telling you that there really was an intermission at this point when the movie was released.

When Dave blasts though space without his helmet, say: “What a load of horse manure! They should put out a flyer if they think we’re going to buy that!” This will spoil his excitement at explaining that on opening line they did hand out a flyer to the effect that research was that for brief moments one can survive that way. [probably fake news]

When HAL says he is afraid, say loudly: “Oh—suck it up, you big baby! If you can’t do the time, then don’t do the crime!”

When Dave enters the laser light show, say to your husband: “Are you still toking up at your age?”

When your husband begins to explain why Dave ends up in an 18th century parlor, say: “It’s because they planted the beacon centuries ago and haven’t been around for awhile. Duh!”

When the monolith appears at bedside and then the baby looks over the earth, tell him to pack because you just got off the phone with Elon Musk and he’s agreed to send you both off on a mission to trace the beacon he just found in Utah. He has updated the computer and has assured you that it probably won’t kill anybody at all.


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