A Few Good Mensch: How The Jews Saved Earth, Again, in Independence Day Resurgence

The original Independence Day was about a lot of things: stinky alien corpses, Will Smith hitting things, the White House exploding, Data from Star Trek getting possessed, unspoken words between lovers, families reaching across distance, and nerdy Jews.

The two main characters were a studly action star and… geeky, scraggly, hairy, fussy, introverted Jeff Goldblum.

Independence Day was mostly considered “Will Smith’s summer movie this year.” People said “Did you see the new Will Smith movie?”, not “Did you see the new Jeff Goldblum movie?”

It’s surprising, therefore, that Independence Day: Resurgence is a Jeff Goldblum movie. While there is a “Will Smith” character (a similar-looking actor who plays his adopted son from the first movie), he’s hardly on screen at all.

The franchise’s sequel-switcheroo changes everything. It even changes the way I think about the original. 


To briefly summarize Independence Day Resurgence:

On the 20th anniversary of the attack, the aliens return. They want to kill us again.

The aliens blow up our satellites and most of our defenses. They wreck our landmarks. The odds look bad.

The president gives a rousing speech. Humans rally. There’s a fight. Some live. Some die. The aliens win. The end.

Just kidding.

After watching the movie, my husband was confused about the huge part that David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum)’s father, Julius Levinson, played in the film. This time around, he doesn’t have any brilliant ideas. He just putzes around and uses a lot of Yiddish. He could have been removed from the movie entirely and not affected the plot a whit.

Mr Levinson is the comedic relief,” I said. “This movie is basically a Jewish comedy with aliens.”

And I realized, after I’d said it, that it was true.

In my heart, David Levinson had always been the protagonist/mastermind. Will Smith was a pawn in Levinson’s game of mental chess against the aliens.

This was the movie version of Garry Kasparov (who had a Jewish dad!) vs Deep Blue — humanity versus the Other.

What’s interesting here is that humanity typically treats Jews like the Other. They’ve historically been treated like second-class citizens, yet they’re the ones spearheading the campaign against the aliens in these films. Their oddness — their unconventional approach — is what usually makes them loathed. But it gives them the intellectual edge here.

Jews are the underdog of humanity. Humanity is the underdog of this fight.

The Independence Day series is a David and Goliath battle, maxed out. 

It’s basically Bible storytelling.

With aliens.

Which makes the plot really simple and archetypal.

Depending on your point of view, that makes Independence Day 1 & 2 either classic or stupid.

Most critics agree that the movie didn’t need to be made twice. Independence Day 2 was a re-hash of the first, with a deluge of callbacks and references. Though it doesn’t break any new ground, it did make me re-consider the first movie in a new light.

And also? It was a shit-ton of fun.

A crafts project that is… OUT OF THIS WORLD.

My fellow role-playing nerds and I purchased our DM (dungeon master, the guy that runs the show) some bitchin’ Fate Dice this week:


Because he’s an astrophysicist (I’m not making this up), I made him a special space-themed dice bag to go with the dice.


And I made a drawstring out of yarn to match the colors in the bag.


And it’s fully lined.


This post is 100% about me fluffing my feathers over how much I like this dice bag… and kind of wish I could keep it for myself.

4 Sci-Fi/Horror Movies To Watch This Weekend

Real talk: you need to see the new Mad Max movie immediately.

Before you scoff at me, you should know that this movie features no anti-Semites (that we know of) and the protagonist is actually Charlize Theron with a steampunk cyborg arm.

I know it sounds stupid, but this movie is epic, and must be seen in theaters to fully enjoy. It’s a surroundsound whiplash orgy with a shocking 98% on rotten tomatoes (almost unheard of).


This film is so feminist this guy’s scrotum killed itself (please click that link).

It’s also visually intense.


Have you ever really considered the notion of “branding”? Cattle gets branded. When you wear a logo, you’re basically tying yourself in with a company — being owned by it.

In this movie, one of the most important things I noticed was the villain’s (really cool) skull-in-steering-wheel logo everywhere. If he were a cat, he’d have pissed all over this entire movie.

It’s on his face. It’s on his cars. It’s on his slaves. It’s on his wives’ chastity belts. Keep an eye out: this notion of ownership is very important to the film. You will be rewarded for your keen eye. The world-building is exquisite.

You will also be rewarded by the amazing guitarist-on-bungee-cords character. He’s a Civil War drummer boy on steroids. He. is. so. metal.

Other films I’ve seen lately: 


Housebound (Netflix). A young woman is put on house arrest with her parents. The house is haunted, and there might be a murderer on the loose. This movie’s the perfect mix of funny, creepy, and outright weird.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (theaters). I saw this movie. I enjoyed this movie. The movie ended, and I haven’t really thought about it since. One of the hallmarks of a good movie, I think, is whether it sticks with you, but this movie slid right off when I exited the theater. There were so many characters and action scenes that the plot took second place. Nobody really got a chance to shine. That said, if you want to watch things punch each other and blow up — admire Robert Downey Jr — this is for you.

Ex Machina (theaters). At what point can artificial intelligence match human intelligence and emotion? Can artificial intelligence have emotion? Rage? Love? This movie deals with these heavy topics as an AI creator, his employee, and his AI manipulate each other toward a suspenseful climax. Though the trailers portray this as an action movie, it’s really more of an indie thought piece.

Enjoy your theater-going, friends — I’ll be back soon with books. (Nerdy!)

Watch This Ridiculousness: Syfy’s Original Show Helix

Helix appears to be about a 28 Days Later viral outbreak.

After a few episodes, the show flies off the fucking rails altogether.

It gloriously abandons the universe you thought you were living in.

Helix is ridiculous, outlandish, violent, and twisty. Few TV shows dare to take this many risks.

I suspect it’s because Syfy does not give a fuck. They gave us Sharknado, remember?

Some of the plot holes could swallow a bus — but a lot of Helix‘s plot really, really works. The show is better than it has any right to be.

(Nope. Not being paid to say this. Would happily accept a check or maybe a walk-on as an infected person?)


What’s happening on this program?

  • The Rage virus.
  • Immortals.
  • Monkey experiments.
  • Inuit child experiments.
  • Sick people spewing black blood (season 1).
  • Sick people spewing yellow pus (season 2).
  • A field of skulls (season 2).
  • A field of frozen monkeys (season 1).
  • Heads in jars like Futurama.
  • Gas masks.
  • A “Luke, I am your father” moment.
  • Sibling rivalry.
  • A guy that looks like the Scarecrow.
  • Creepy children.
  • A cult.
  • A conspiracy.
  • Mad scientists.
  • Mad science.
  • Bad age makeup.
  • A scene where cryogenics totally works.
  • A scene where blood comes out of a sprinkler system.
  • A cold-open featuring a squishy-sounding handjob.
  • Various timelines at least 30 years apart.
  • Cabins in the basement.
  • A 15-month pregnancy.
  • A zesty special effects budget, of course.