Category Archives: moon

RIP Neil Armstrong

We have lost another great man. Last week, astronaut, explorer, hero, Neil Armstrong passed away at the age of 82. He was the first man to walk on the moon way back in 1969.

Wait a second. Didn’t he die last year? Groan. Is anyone else tired of these Twitter and Facebook delayed and fake deaths? How about those folks who read something on the internet and don’t check the date? Yeah, exactly. That said, Neil Armstrong was still a good man, a great man, and he should be remembered.

While I don’t precisely remember the event, Armstrong walking on the moon, as I was quite young, I was glued to the TV for all of the Apollo missions that followed. NASA, Apollo, space, the moon, astronauts – it was an American past time, it was hysteria, it was like Beatlemania, or Batmania, only real.

Some of my first and most beloved toys were space and astronaut themed. We were all drinking Tang and eating Space Food Sticks, and racing home from school to see the splashdowns. And to many of us, Neil Armstrong was the guy who started it. Godspeed. A year later, and forward.

Quickies 8-11-2009

Bam Bam and Celeste ~ In the week after the death of John Hughes, it was very difficult to watch this one. Margaret Cho, who not only starred, but also wrote, wants badly to channel John Hughes here. High school misfits, after a decade or so, declare independence and fight back against their rivals from school on a reality TV makeover show. It would be a perfect 1980s teen flick but the main problem is that it was made in 2005. There are moments. As long as it doesn’t get preachy (which it unfortunately does at times) you can root for the leads. Margaret is good, as is Alan Cumming in a sadly small role, but the rest you’ve seen all before, and done better. Worth a watch if nothing else is on.

Gacy ~ This serial killer bioflick about the infamous John Wayne Gacy tries far too hard to be everything at once. Starring Pee-Wee Herman’s bike-swiping nemesis Mark Holton, it covers a very short period of Gacy’s life between his wife leaving him and his arrest, but skips over other areas of interest. When the flick tries to be arty toward the end the effect is unfortunate. Worth watching for folks interested in the subject matter.

Moon ~ The less said about this, the better – and that’s a good thing. Like The Sixth Sense this scifi thriller set on the moon in the near future is a film best seen with no prior knowledge of the plot. This is an Oscar caliber performance by Sam Rockwell that the Academy had better not forget come December. Definitely don’t miss.

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Mission to Mars

I am ancient.

Yep, I’m so old that I remember when men first walked on the moon. I remember how every channel, and don’t forget there were only four at the time, carried every NASA mission live – pre-emting everything else, no matter what it was. I remember when astronauts were heroes and just about to coolest thing you could want to be when asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Hell, I remember drinking Tang, because it was what the astronauts drank.

I remember Apollo 13 (the reality, not the film) and asking my father what “docking” meant, only to be shushed because this was “very important.” I remember getting watch TV at school (something that never happened back then) so the class could see “history” – moon rockets blasting off. I remember rushing home from school to see the splashdowns. I remember summer evenings where everyone would be outside at dusk with telescopes and binoculars to get a glimpse of Skylab going over. And I remember that the first color photo in the local newspaper was the Viking shot of the surface of Mars, taking up the entire front page.

That was then, this is now.

Tonight, in a few minutes actually as I write this, the Phoenix lander will be touching down on the planet Mars. None of the major networks are carrying this event live. To add insult to injury, ABC is airing “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” What that says about us as a civilization, I’ll let you decide. CNN and Fox News are covering the story as part of their usual 24/7 news coverage. The super-accurate and objective MSNBC seems to think a re-run about San Quentin Prison is more important, perhaps Keith Olbermann might mention it later as an afterthought, or a joke.

Only the Science Channel is fully covering this event. And good thing though, this is history, whether the apathetic news media believes it or not.