19

FRIDAY

When ancient Babylonians looked into the night sky and saw the red hue of Mars, they thought it was the planet of aggression. Silly Babylonians. Then again, they had certain technical limitations. They didn’t have Hollywood. These days, we have a much better method of sizing up a planet: We rent a movie. If only the Babylonians could have seen Total Recall—the 1990 sci-fi flick in which director Paul Verhoeven sends Arnold Schwarzenegger on a Martian joy ride, complete with freakish cabdrivers, prognosticating midgets, and three-breasted hookers. Mars isn’t the planet of aggression. It’s the planet of adventurous debauchery—sort of like Amsterdam, with fewer bike paths and more spaceports. Of course, some fussbudget scientists might disagree on the details. Find out for yourself when the National Air and Space Museum hosts Mars Day, where you can “check out a real Mars meteorite, talk with planetary scientists and more.” The fun begins at 10 a.m. at the National Air and Space Museum, 7th and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Felix Gillette)