Thursday, October 29, 2015

Harvest Guide: Cutting, Trimming, Drying, Curing

"Marijuana will lose approximately 75 percent of its weight during drying due to water evaporating from plant matter. Buds dried too fast will be frail and may start to crumble. Keep humidity between 45 and 55 percent in your drying room to prevent this and to help keep aroma and flavor locked in. Buds are done drying and ready for curing when stems snap when bent rather than just folding over. Air exchanges during curing should occur every four or five hours with curing bins left open for 10 minutes at a time."
High Times:
If a grower can consistently examine trichomes and keep accurate time records from the start of the flowering photoperiod (12/12 light cycle), then it should be no problem for the grower to begin flushing out the grow medium in preparation for the harvest.

There are various methods by which even the most amateur grower can tell when buds are truly ripe for the picking. The simplest and quickest way to know is by examining the pistils, or long hairs, that cover the plant’s buds. At the onset of flowering, these pistils are white and stringy. But as the flowering period comes to an end, they begin to turn color, first from white to orange and then again to a dark red or brown. These color changes signify the maturation of the buds; however, the color and time frame may vary significantly across different varieties of cannabis.

As with pistils, trichomes also begin to change color as the buds mature. But in this scenario, a grower wants to harvest buds before they get too dark in color. Even a subtle amber hue in these glands could mean that cannabinoids have begun breaking down and decomposing, which means less potent pot. Using a magnifier between 50x-100x, advanced growers look for a creamy or milky white color in trichomes that tells them it’s time to harvest.

The Two-Step Flush
The last two weeks of flowering should be spent getting rid of any built-up nutrients in the growing medium, a process called leaching, or flushing. By removing all access to nutrients, the plant begins to consume its stored food reserves. These reserves are nasty compounds that we don't want in our smoke, such as sugars, starches and various other elements. Harvesting plants that still have these undesirable elements present will only result in a harsh smoke and terrible burnability.

Flushing should begin about 14 days before harvest by stopping all nutrients and using only pure water to feed the plants. By providing no nutrients, you force the plant to rely only on what is left in the growing medium to feed on. The actual act of flushing is achieved by over-irrigating the medium until the nutrients inside are dissolved and washed out the bottom of the container. The best way to do this is with a two-step flush technique. (The process is an easy one.)

 First, flood the grow medium with a heavy dose of water and wait a few minutes to allow all of the salts (nutrient buildup) to break down. Then add more water to chase out the first dose. By waiting a few minutes after adding the first dose of water, you're allowing enough time for the water to dissolve the salts. As salts decompose, they can be effectively flushed out by the second dose. Traditional leaching usually employs only the first flush of water, which isn’t always adequate for complete dissolution.

A few days after flushing, you should notice signs of nitrogen deficiency. The leaves will go from dark to light green, eventually turning completely yellow. Another sign is a reddening of the leaf stems, starting at the center of the leaf where the blades come together.

Test your flush by snapping off a leaf and tasting the juice that flows from the stem. If the taste is bitter, there's still plenty of food in the plant's system. When the juices are clean and taste like pure water, the plant is clean enough for harvest. The bitterness is from nutrients and other chemicals that you definitely do not want in your smoke.

Dry Air = More Resin
 One final flush should occur a day or two before harvesting, with the final 24 hours of the garden’s life being spent in relative dryness. This last deluge should be done with fresh water and can be a single or a two-step flush, depending on how much fertilizer was applied previous to the final two weeks of flowering. This will be the final watering your plants ever get. In doing this, you help ensure that the plants will begin to slowly dehydrate as you approach harvest, which in turn will aid the plants in their final hours of resin production.

Some gardeners even like to allow their medium to go bone-dry before harvesting. The idea is that resin production seems to skyrocket if the medium is allowed to dry before harvesting, but this isn't due to dry medium – it's due to dry air.

When the relative humidity in the garden is low, your resin production will increase. This is a natural response cannabis has to dry air, an attempt to protect itself from hot, dry conditions. Marijuana resin actually has one of the highest UV-resistance ratings in the plant kingdom. The resin reflects light, preventing the buds from getting sunburn. (This is also why it's so easy for helicopters to spot marijuana from the sky; it glows when seen through UV-sensitive equipment.)

Lowering the humidity in the room on that last night before harvest morning will ensure increased resin production, without having to let the medium go bone-dry first. Additionally, some growers like to subject their gardens to prolonged dark periods of up to 24 hours just before cutting, claiming they notice spikes in resin production. This is all right as the low humidity will cut down on light uptake anyway, plus it helps to make sure liquid foods within the plants drain down to the root zone.

What Time of Day to Harvest?
Timing the harvest is paramount to the final quality. Harvest your precious buds in the dark, just before the lights normally come on. If possible, do not allow the plants to see direct light as long as their roots are attached. Direct light on a plant will draw up stored starches and sugars from the root system.

"When the resin glands or trichomes (on your buds) are about one-half turning a milky white or amber in color (versus clear or translucent), and the small hairs have begun to turn orange, brown or reddish in color, it is then almost time to harvest your weed. You have a window of 5-7 days for peak harvest and potency. I will tell you, the more amber the trichomes have turned, the 'stonier' the pot will likely be. This is why I recommend harvesting when about 1/2 of the resin glands have turned amber in color - be patient, and be sure of what you see."

Harvest & Manicure
Most indoor growers begin taking off the large fan leaves about a week before actual harvest. This is a good idea, especially once these leaves begin paling from green to yellow in color. Continue your harvest by taking off all leaves not associated with the buds and then move on to trimming off the smaller sugar leaves. Look for leaves with little resin coverage first and then move into the interior of the nuggets. It’s easier to remove leaves within the buds once they have dried out a bit, but that adds extra time and a second round of manicuring. By turning buds over and getting to the underside of smaller sugar leaves, it becomes easier to snip away at the stem and remove the entire leaf. Many growers like to only trim off leaf edges that come out of buds, leaving an aesthetic shape to the bud with the heavily resinated portion of the sugar leaves still intact within the buds.
Once the plants are cut, trimmed and manicured to perfection, it is best to hang branches upside down on strings strung across open spaces to get maximum air flow over your buds. Keeping buds on the branches does slow the drying, as the branches do retain some water however, this is the easiest way to completely surround buds with dry air without using drying chambers or machines.

Drying for Taste and Burnability
Now that you've harvested and are ready to dry and cure, you will want to preserve as much of the vibrant color and taste of your herb as possible. Buds should hang dry for five to seven days at the ideal temperature of about 70ºF with 50 percent humidity. You want to get most of the water out of the buds in those first days and then slow the process down for another week or so during the curing process.

At four to five days into the dry, the tips of some buds might be dry enough to pluck off and sample. After the buds have gone through their full cycle of drying, we want to slow the whole thing down and draw the rest of the moisture out very gradually. This is the curing process.

What’s the Cure?
If your herb is harvested correctly, there is very little need for long cures. Long cures are needed to make harsh herb smoke smoother. If you start out with smooth, clean herb, there's less need for long cures. Most buds should be cured and ready to smoke in less than two weeks after the drying period. Expert growers who harvest properly can complete curing in five or six days, but a good average can easily range from 10 to 14 days.

Inexperienced growers often tend to get impatient and only cure for a few days, but this can be a costly mistake when it comes to potency. Allowing the buds to cure evenly, which means drying at a slower rate, removes moisture within the buds so that all the THC can be converted in its psychoactive form.

The curing process evens out the moisture levels in the herb. You want the same amount of moisture in the center of the buds as you do on the outside of the buds until they are almost totally devoid of fluids. Completely drying the herb too fast can trap moisture in the middle and not allow for a proper cure.

For the curing process, you want to put the half-dried buds into air-tight containers. Inside the container, the buds will become evenly moist, inside and out, as they begin to “sweat." You can check to see if your buds are sweating and releasing moisture by gently squeezing them between your fingers to see if they feel damper than they did a few hours before sealing them up. Glass jars with rubber seals and lockdown lids are the best option for curing, but for large amounts of harvested buds, you’ll need something much bigger. Tight-sealing rubber or plastic bins are the best option for large quantities of buds but many growers feel these containers impart a plastic-type taste onto the buds. This can be offset by adding a small slice of lemon or orange peel to the bins toward the end of your cure.

Once the buds are again evenly moist, open the containers to let the moist air exchange with fresh air. Air exchanges are essential to the curing process. Not only do they prevent condensation from forming in your curing bins, but the fresh air is drier than the air you just allowed to escape from the container. The moisture still trapped in the herb will again slowly escape and moisten the new, fresh air. Open the container several times a day to exchange the moistened air with fresh air to slowly draw out the moisture in the buds. Eventually (again, one to two weeks) the moisture level in the herb will be at the right level to stash away and, of course, smoke!

"Roughneck is a hybrid Centennial Seeds bred from Jamaican Lambsbread and the Purple Rhino IBL. The result is a powerful Sativa-dominant hybrid that expresses beautiful purple hues and a delicious, somewhat savory bouquet. With its heavy Sativa influence, the effects are very strong and markedly stimulating. Roughneck is reccommended appropriate for: pain, focus, mood elevation, appetite suppression. The plant is easy to grow and very productive. Examples of Roughneck have tested >22% THC. Flowering time: 9 - 10 weeks."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

HarvardX Neuroscience Series: Poetry of Perception

Part 1/8: Poetry of Perception from HarvardX Neuroscience on Vimeo.
"The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one." Erwin Schrödinger. An eight-part series on representations of perception and sensation.

Words by Walt Whitman
Animation by Sophie Koko Gate
3D Floater Animation by Tomas Kemp
Narration by Peter Blegvad
Sound + Music by Oswald Skillbard
Produced by Nadja Oertelt

Part 2/8: Poetry of Perception from HarvardX Neuroscience on Vimeo.

"Both artists and scientists strive, even if in different ways, toward the goal of discovering new uniformities or lawful regularities." Hermann Helmholtz

Words by Emily Dickinson
Animation by Hannah Jacobs
Narration by Anna Martine
Sound + Music by Oswald Skillbard
Produced by Nadja Oertelt

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

John Lennon in I Met the Walrus

The Atlantic:
In 1969, then 14-year-old Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon's Toronto hotel room with a tape recorder and probed the English singer about the state of the Beatles, their dwindling American fan base, and the meaning behind his music. In 2007, the conversation was animated by James Braithwaite and turned into a short film, I Met the Walrus, which went on to win an Emmy and be nominated for an Oscar. 

Braithwaite is represented by Machas, a creative consultancy based in London.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Nathan Fielder's Nathan For You

"It's weird. I don't really have goals. I just try to make sure I'm enjoying what I'm doing. Once I start to get sick of it, the next thing becomes obvious. The genesis of me wanting to even pitch a TV show was that I'd done these three minute segments on this show in Canada. I had done so many in that format that I wanted to try and make a full 20 or 30 minutes funny. That was my challenge. Now that I've done 16 episodes of this show I do wonder if I could make an hour and a half funny. I do have a desire to do that, but at the end of the day I just want to be funny and feel excited about whatever I'm working on."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tooco's Short Film Genesis

The Atlantic:
The Argentinian artist Francisco Miranda, aka Tooco, has an exceptional eye for intricate design—and it's apparent in this surrealist short film, Genesis, that he calls "a voyage through the creation of life...from the tiniest cells up to the huge universe." Miranda worked with the graphic designer Guillermo Daldovo on this piece, and is represented by Machas, a creative consultancy based in London.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Drake - "Hotline Bling"

Rolling Stone:
Since Drake debuted the song on OVO Sound's Beats 1 radio show in late July, the track has proved to be a smash hit. "Hotline Bling" recently climbed to Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100, which makes it Drake's second-biggest pop hit to date, almost pushing him towards his first-ever Number One hit. The track has often been called a remix of the rapper D.R.A.M.'s tropical "Cha Cha." While Drake has never confirmed that "Hotline Bling" is a remix of "Cha Cha," the song does contain a sped-up sample of Timmy Thomas' "Why Can't We Live Together."

"Hotline Bling" has also become a popular track to cover for other artists. Everyone from Nick Jonas to Erykah Badu have either covered the song live or recorded it to distribute online. Badu's remix in particular reimagines the song from her perspective and interpolates not only her own single "On and On" but her ex-boyfriend Andre 3000's hit "Ms. Jackson" as well.

In today's pop world, the true measure of a song's impact is how many tributes it inspires — vines, dance routines, covers, memes — and "Hotline Bling" is a runaway success by this standard, as well. The track has spawned numerous alternate renditions and remixes (including Seth Everman's wacky Nintendo-fied take).

Rolling Stone:
On the track, Iman Shumpert raps about his new contract, his flair for flashy plays ("I know they love that highlight reel/That's why they focus on the Jumbotron"), and the Cavaliers' painful loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

The Cavaliers guard is no stranger to the rap game. Heading into the playoffs last season, he recorded "The Offs" for the quest to end Cleveland's championship drought – but alas, the team came up short. He released another track soon after inking a $40-million deal to stay with the Cavaliers in the offseason, this time about life back in Chicago and the downside of having millions to one's name. And, unlike essentially every other NBA player who ever fancied himself a rapper, Shump actually belongs in the booth.

Producers BC Kingdom and Jonny dispense with Drake's treacly organ sample in favor of a minimal series of steel-drum-like blobs. These combine with Mila J's vocals — husky when they're low, breathy when they're high — to give the song an unexpected sensuality. This version sounds more like a come-on than an expression of angst: a notable transformation.

Badu is probably the most unexpected artist to enter the "Hotline Bling" fray: Most of her competitors are young singers looking for an easy way to generate additional interest. Badu comes at "Hotline Bling" from her typically idiosyncratic perspective -- "you used to call me on your cell-u-lar device at night." She then interpolates one of her first hits, "On and On," and sneaks in a reference to her ex-boyfriend Andre 3000's work in Outkast ("forever ever?").

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Courtney Barnett - Live On KEXP

Courtney Melba Barnett (born 3 November 1987) is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist from Melbourne. Known for her witty, rambling lyrics and deadpan singing style, she attracted attention from the North American and UK music press in October 2013 with the release of two EPs and well-received performances at the CMJ Music Marathon. At the latter event, Barnett was mentioned by both Rolling Stone and The New York Times as a standout performer.

Barnett received international critical acclaim in 2013 with her second EP, How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose. "Avant Gardener" from the album was named 'Best New Track' by Pitchfork Media in 2013. Barnett combined these two releases into one, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, released internationally on 20 May 2013 via House Anxiety/Marathon Artists. It was named the album of the week by Stereogum. The track "History Eraser" was nominated for the APRA Song of the Year.

Barnett’s debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, was released on 23 March 2015 to widespread critical acclaim. Barnett leads the number of nominations, with eight, for the ARIA Music Awards of 2015, including for Breakthrough Artist, Best Female Artist and Album of the Year for Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Present Moment.

...a similar version is also attributed to Alice Morse Earle and Babatunde Olatunji (and Albert Einstein)...

Experience Project:
"The past is just a memory. The future is just an idea. Reality resides in the present."
"The past is history--the future's a mystery...the here-and-now is a gift. That is why they call it 'the present.'"

DMT Metal:
"The past is only a memory, the future is only a vision, so look well into your present moment for IT is the only place One will ever BE."

Good Reads:
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
― Mother Teresa

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past."
― Thomas Jefferson

“The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.”
― Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”
― Alan W. Watts

“The past is a ghost, the future a dream and all we ever have is now.”
― Bill Cosby

“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“Past is dead, Future is uncertain; Present is all you have, So eat, drink and live merry.”
― Peter O’Toole, paraphrasing Albert Einstein in a Charlie Rose interview

“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”
― Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

“It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one.”
― George Harrison

“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware... Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

“The future depends on what you do today.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“The future starts today, not tomorrow.”
― Pope John Paul II

“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.”
― Albert Camus, Notebooks 1935-1942

“The present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”
― Nikola Tesla

“The present changes the past. Looking back you do not find what you left behind.”
― Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”
― John Green, Looking for Alaska

“The past was gone and the future had yet to unfold, and he knew he should focus his life on the present…yet his day-to-day existence suddenly struck him as endless and unbearable.”
― Nicholas Sparks, The Choice

“No time like the present, a thousand unforeseen circumstances may interrupt you at a future time."
― John Trusler, Proverbs Exemplified, 1790

Quote Garden:
"With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"One problem with gazing too frequently into the past is that we may turn around to find the future has run out on us." ~Michael Cibenko

"If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is." ~Author Unknown

"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness." ~James Thurber

"We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it." ~John Newton

"If you have one eye on yesterday, and one eye on tomorrow, you're going to be cockeyed today." ~Author Unknown

"Trust no future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act, — act in the living Present!
Heart within and God o'erhead."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Psalm of Life

"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly." ~Buddha

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Chuckie Nugget's Yeezer is Ridiculous

Daily Dot:
If you have, at any point in your life, counted yourself a fan of either Kanye West or Weezer, you should probably check out Yeezer, by a Pennsylvania producer going by the handle Chuckie Nugget.

While West is off plotting his 2020 presidential run to stop tyrant billionaire Donald Trump from getting a second term in the Oval Office and Weezer continues its descent into the depths of dorky dad rock, Chuckie Nugget has discovered something elemental about both artists, something that fuses their music together in a way that has no right to work as well as it does—they're all huge goobers.

Both West and Weezer have always had the air of nerdy kids trying, with varying degrees of success, not just to appear cool, but to bend the arc of coolness toward their own particular obsessions. If Taylor Swift had bested Kiss at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards instead of Beyoncé, Rivers Cuomo would have been the one to grab the microphone and let her finish. Well, to be fair, there's no way he would have actually done that, but you can imagine him fantasizing about it in his head.

What's great about Yeezer, especially for the large cadre of Weezer fans who haven't been particularly enthusiastic about their last decade or so of output, is that the addition of West into their newer songs is done in a way that highlights how the band's strengths have remained, in many ways, consistent from Pinkerton through today. Cuomo and co. can write one hell of a hook when they want to. Similarly, it shows how tracks from 2013's Yeezus have an strong undercurrent of winking, populist fun under a façade of austere, high-art seriousness.

Take, for example, “The Girl Got BLKKK,” which combines West's “Black Skinhead” and Weezer's “The Girl Got Hot” from 2009's much maligned Raditude. The bedrock of Weezer's shout-along hook renders West's instantly iconic floor tom fill and machine-gun rapping—which read as an attempt at sonic violence in their original context—into a neon-colored, release-the-confetti dance party.

On the album's Bandcamp page, Chuckie Nugget implores listeners not to buy his album and instead just to download it for free—undoubtedly for legal reasons. Keeping the album free is a way to keep the uncleared samples inside the realm of fair use. Instead, the producer urges listeners to “buy the newish Weezer album, or tell Kanye to release SWISH.”

More information:
» Inverse: 10 Bold Predictions for Kanye West's SWISH

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Adulthood (Video)

Papadosio: "Mesmerizing, Spellbinding and Genre-Defying"

Boulder Theater:
Mesmerizing, spellbinding and genre-defying: With their fourth full-length studio release Extras In A Movie, Papadosio reveals a striking cinematic cornucopia of sounds: orchestral, electronic, organic, acoustic, psychedelic and celestial. The 16 selections that comprise the song cycle are concise and structured – launch pads for the improvisational excursions that are a hallmark of the band’s celebrated concert performances.

“The writing process was a challenge for us, to see if we could integrate some songs that were shorter than five minutes,” notes the band. They envisioned the title Extras In A Movie as a concept connected to themes of interpersonal interactions and relationships.

Hitting virtually all major and secondary U.S. music locales and select festivals across North America, Papadosio tours on a massive scale but maintains a close intimacy with their fans. With the new project they are expanding their collective stylistic palette. “We like to have a lot of colors,” they explain. “We’re starting to push that envelope in the way we want to go – to give the people who are at the shows more of a variety of emotions. We don’t have filters. We record what’s happening.”

Originally from the creative collegiate hotbed of Athens, Ohio, the band is now centered in Asheville, North Carolina. Not that they are homebodies as they clarify. “For the past five or six years we’ve done maybe 150 dates a year and have been gone for 200 days. We were cutting back a little, but now with the new project the number of shows is about to go way back up.”

Extras In A Movie balances Papadosio’s celestial sonic ambience with an organic edge and multiple guitars, both electric and acoustic. “A lot more guitar in general,” they say. “ That’s something new with this record.” What also distinguishes the new music is the prominence of their vocals. Extras In A Movie opens with a dense, harmonic introduction titled “The Last Leaf” and across the span of songs emerges subliminal echoes of prog-rock forefathers like Jethro Tull, Yes and Genesis.

Trippy titles abound: “Gazing the Great Oscillator,” “Moon Entendre,” Anima Mundi.” Noting that these designations often come late in the creative process, if the band can’t find a suitable name, they might invent a word. “Obove” is such a creation. In the lexicon of Papadosio it is a term that references “an over arcing emotion.”

While the band gleefully dismisses observations on their collective intellect, an exegesis of their themes indicates complex underpinnings. A new song, “Therian” was inspired by archeological cave paintings depicting creatures that are half-beast and half human. “Bypass Default” is a treatise on being nagged by all of the earth’s problems, and is appropriately discordant. “The Wrong Nostalgia” includes a take on modern radio with the line “Who sold these assholes on the airwaves?” -- lyrics with an edge and a bite.

It is the band’s wish that Extras In A Movie will enchant loyal fans and introduce new audiences to the Papadosio universe. “Our intention is to give people music that can be themes in their lives so they can connect to the music. To provide them with a place to hang out so they don’t feel weird in what they are thinking -- to give their brains and their hearts a home.”

Extras In A Movie, Papadosio’s self-produced fourth full-length studio album, will be self-released October 2, 2015.

Cue XL
Smile and Nod
Bypass Default
New Love>
The Sum>
Find Your Cloud XL
Gazing the Great Oscillator*>
Moon Entendre*
E: Snorkle

More information:
» Setlist: Papadosio at Boulder Theater Oct 3, 2015

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Martian

"Dariusz Wolski’s dazzling 3-D cinematography often shows people dwarfed by the immensity of their surroundings: Watney by the mountains and craters of Mars, the Hermes crew by the infinite blackness of outer space, even the NASA engineers huddled together under their enormous, and too often useless, screens. But the animating humanism of Scott’s film is irreducible. It’s a wry tribute to the qualities that got our species into space in the first place: our resourcefulness, our curiosity and our outsized, ridiculous, beautiful brains."
The Martian is a 2015 American science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. The film is based on Andy Weir's 2011 novel The Martian, which was adapted into a screenplay by Drew Goddard. Damon stars as an astronaut who is incorrectly presumed dead and left behind on the planet Mars, and who then fights to survive. The film also features Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in supporting roles.

Producers Simon Kinberg began developing the film after 20th Century Fox optioned the novel in March 2013. Drew Goddard adapted the novel into a screenplay and was initially attached to direct, but the film did not move forward. Ridley Scott replaced Goddard, and with Damon in place as the main character, production was green-lit, and filming began in November 2014.

Filming lasted approximately 70 days at Korda Studios sound stage in Budapest, Hungary, one of the largest in the world. Wadi Rum in Jordan was also used as a practical backdrop for filming. Wadi Rum had been used as a backdrop for other films set on Mars, including Mission to Mars (2000), Red Planet (2000), and The Last Days on Mars (2013). Ridley Scott chose to film The Martian with 3D cameras. Around 20 sets were constructed for The Martian (where 70 were built for Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings and over 100 for American Gangster). Actual potatoes were grown in a sound stage next to the one used for filming. They were planted at different times to be used to show different stages of growth in the film.

Andy Weir avoided writing Watney as lonely and depressed in his novel. While Watney's humor is preserved in the film, Scott balanced it against visually depicting the character's isolation in the inhospitable territory. Damon said he and Scott were inspired by the 2003 documentary film Touching the Void, which featured trapped mountain climbers. Scott also expected to film Watney as a Robinson Crusoe, a character in full isolation, but learned to film Watney differently since the character would be self-monitoring his behavior under the watch of various mission cameras.

Forbes‍ '​s Peter Himler said American astronauts had traditionally been used by public relations to promote commercial products, starting with the drink Tang. Himler said it "came as no surprise" that NASA astronauts in the International Space Station were reported by The Guardian and CBS News as having read Weir's novel and hoping to see the film on board the ISS. NASA participated in the marketing of the film despite its lack of involvement with previous films. Though it turned down a request for Interstellar to be screened on the ISS, The Martian was screened on board 402 km (250 miles) above the Earth's surface on September 19, 2015, and also at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral on October 1, 2015.

"Watney turns the Hab into a self-sustaining farm in The Martian, making potatoes the first Martian staple. Today, in low-Earth orbit, lettuce is the most abundant crop in space. Aboard the International Space Station, Veggie is a deployable fresh-food production system. Using red, blue, and green lights, Veggie helps plants grow in pillows, small bags with a wicking surface containing media and fertilizer, to be harvested by astronauts. In 2014, astronauts used the system to grow “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce and just recently sampled this space-grown crop for the first time. This is a huge step in space farming, and NASA is looking to expand the amount and type of crops to help meet the nutritional needs of future astronauts on Mars."

What I’m concerned about is the way in which a mission to Mars is portrayed in the book and film. It looks a lot like an Apollo mission to Mars, and in 2015 that’s a problem.

From outward appearances, almost all of the hardware is NASA hardware. All of the important decisions are made by NASA people. There isn’t a whiff of commercial space in the film. Not a SpaceX, nor even a Boeing. It’s all NASA. (Not that NASA isn’t great. It is.)

Moreover of the six astronauts in Mark Watney’s crew, five are Americans and one German. NASA’s mission to Mars is nearly American only. (I’m American. I love America.) This might all be fine except for the fact that it isn’t 1969.

It’s 2015. The world has changed. Spaceflight has changed. And NASA isn’t going anywhere without private and international partners. It simply can’t begin to afford an Apollo-like, go-it-alone, brute force mission to Mars.

A few years ago SpaceX began flying cargo supply missions to the International Space Station. By NASA’s own estimates it would have cost the agency six or eight times as much had it developed that capability through its traditional spacecraft building methods. NASA is slowly privatizing, but if it is to reach Mars any time in the 2030s it must do so more rapidly.

Another big problem for NASA is that White House leadership changes every four to eight years. NASA has been on its “Journey to Mars” for four years or so now, but that could very well change with the next President. He or she might think the moon is a better first stop, or could scrap the Mars program entirely.

NASA needs stability to accomplish long-range goals. That means it must enter into long-term plans with major international players, which would force the White House and Congress to honor those deals over decades. Unfortunately there is, as yet, no international consensus that NASA and its partners should go to Mars. Many want to go to the moon first.

To be fair, in an interview earlier this year, The Martian’s author, Andy Weir, acknowledged much of this. Moreover, in the film, China’s space program actually saves the day with a spare rocket to deliver supplies to Watney on Mars.

But I’m afraid the public will see an all NASA crew landing in all NASA vehicles on Mars, and assume all is well on our happy little journey to Mars. It unfortunately is not.

For the curious: Ares 3 launched on July 7, 2035. They landed on Mars (Sol 1) on November 7, 2035. The story begins on Sol 6, which is November 12, 2035.

More information:
» Modern Farmer: "Fact-Checking The Martian: Can You Really Grow Plants on Mars?"
» Washington Post: "It's sci-fi, but The Martian has real science in it"
» Houston Chronicle: "As NASA Seeks Next Mission, Russia Holds the Trump Card"