The 24 Movie

When a popular TV show ends, it’s not unusual for fans to be promised that a movie will be forthcoming.  Sometimes it happens (think Star Trek, for example) but often it doesn’t.  Deadwood fans were told movies would happen, but they haven’t.  (More’s the pity!)

It’s looking more and more like 24 will actually make it to the big screen.  Kiefer Sutherland — excuse me, I mean Jack Bauersaid this past weekend that the movie will begin filming this spring.  He added that the movie will pick up about six months after the end of the series and, like the TV show, will follow the characters during one 24-hour period.  The plot will involve the scowling, cranky, indomitable Chloe O’Brian, ace computer hacker and one of the most original TV characters ever.

There’s always trepidation when a favorite TV show gets the movie treatment.  Sometimes the gist of a TV show gets lost between the small screen and the big screen.  Twin Peaks was (for the most part) a great TV show; the movie wasn’t.

Let’s hope that the 24 movie is able to capture the frantic pace, the constant conspiratorial twists, and the rapidly mounting death toll that made the TV show so enjoyable.  And who knows?  Maybe we’ll get to see something we haven’t seen before — like Jack Bauer coming out of a bathroom.

The Perils Of “Wine Product”

One last point about our New York City adventure:  it taught me a valuable lesson about carefully reading the labels on unfamiliar food products.

We were buying food in the little market near our apartment.  I looked for a bottle of wine and there, in the beer aisle, were a few bottles.  Not much of a selection, and it was a label I didn’t recognize — Chateau Diana — but I reasoned that you cannot properly celebrate the holidays without wine, so I bought a bottle.  After we got the stuff back to the apartment and Russell arrived, he chuckled and explained that we had not bought wine, but instead had purchased something called “wine product.”  New York City residents are clued in, but I’d never heard about it.

Apparently “wine product” exists because the law in New York City doesn’t permit grocery stores to sell real wine.  “Wine product” skirts that law and allows markets to sell a wine-like substance.  New York law describes “wine product” as “a beverage containing wine with added juice, flavoring, water, citric acid, sugar and carbon dioxide, not containing more than six percent alcohol by volume (typically referred to as ‘wine coolers’).”  How many bottles of “wine product” are purchased by unwitting tourists, like us, who are unaware of this nuance of New York law?

After Russell filled us in, I went out and bought some real wine that we enjoyed during our visit.  However, because I was curious, and because I hate to let things go to waste, I did drink the “wine product” one evening.  It was harmless and instantly forgettable — which I guess is the point.  Next time I’m buying wine in the Big Apple, I’ll be wiser.

Unlocking The Aging Secrets Of Lazarus Long

What makes some people so long-lived?  In the classic science fiction story Methuselah’s Children, Robert A. Heinlein postulated that extreme longevity could be achieved by genetics.  Encourage long-lived families to mate with each other, and in a few generations you would produce the ageless Lazarus Long, who lived well past the age of 200.

Now researchers, too, are looking at the genetics of longevity.  Recently maps of the genomes of two 114-year-olds — 114 years! — were published, and scientists are examining the data, trying to figure out what has made the two so amazingly long-lived.  So far, the answer is:  who knows?  The supercentenarians don’t seem to have different genetic structures, or genes that perform different functions.  Yet, somehow, they have lived far longer than the average person.

Obviously, there is an environmental component of extreme age.  If you live in a war zone, or a disease-ridden area, you are less likely to live a long life. As time passes, however, genetics plays an increasingly significant role.  The super-old don’t experience dementia.  They don’t have problems with cardiovascular disease, or Parkinson’s disease.  They’ve managed to avoid other diseases and conditions that routinely fell individuals who make it past 80, too.  But what is it that they have that others don’t?

Figuring out whether there is a genetic key that allows people to live longer is likely to be a focus of medical research in the future.  If drug companies will spend billions developing allergy medication and sexual performance drugs, what would they spend to discover a drug that approximates the effect of special genetic conditions of supercentenarians and allows humans with “average” genes to live super-long lives?

In the meantime, the rest of us will just hope that we inherited the genetic secrets of our most long-lived ancestor.