Produced by Tom Hanks for HBO in 1998, this series follows the history of America's moon missions, playing like an extended version of The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, from Kennedy's vow to reach the moon before the end of the decade, right through to the end of the program. One character remarks, "We stopped going up just when we were getting really good at it." (This was my Father's Day gift this year. Highly recommended.)
Today's Music: Ticket to the Moon (ELO)
"Remember the good old 1980s? When things were so uncomplicated? I wish I could go back there again, and everything would be the same....I got a ticket to the moon..."
I'm thinking about the moon because the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing will be July 20. I can remember watching it on our TV in Century, and hearing my Papo talking about how it couldn't be real, because such a thing would make the moon turn to blood and be a sign of the endtimes. (Although, admitedly, I can't be sure that's exactly right. But I recall looking up at the moon and wondering what he meant by that.)
The splash down was on my fifth birthday, July 24, 1969.
"...Fly! Fly! Through a troubled sky, up to a new world, shining bright, whoa-whoa!..."
Here's a repost from part of my "366 Days" project -- chapter 27 from my novella, "The Traveler," in which Cain imagines a parallel reality where he and Gabriel (who has forgotten he's an angel) are astronauts on the moon:
From the Book of Cain:
There is a medieval legend that I wandered the earth until, one day, having walked every part of the land and having nowhere left to go, I went to the moon. There, in that barren place, I finally settled, having only the bundle of twigs I had carried with me.
I never went to the moon. The fact that I have to tell you this is a sign of the wonders you have seen. That you could believe such an incredible thing might have happened? You have witnessed strange things indeed.
But let’s say that I lived into the 1960s. And let’s suppose that I worked my way into the space program. Is it impossible that, among my many personae that I have adopted over the ages, I might have become an Air Force pilot and then an astronaut? And that, one day in the early 1970s, a few trips into the moon missions (I will not reveal which one), I set foot on the lunar dust and planted seeds in the powdery surface.
I only wish my gift had been returned to me before that time, just to see if the moon could have yielded to the blessing of the creator and given forth fruit in abundance.
And as I stood there and looked across the void at the little orb on which I had been born, you stood there beside me. An angel without wings, without even the memory of wings, but who had found a way to break the bonds of earth and soar again among the stars.
And I knew who you were, even if you did not. I turned to you. I asked you a question.
"Do you believe in God?"
You didn’t answer right away, and I thought perhaps you pretended not to hear. I didn’t repeat the question.
"I believe in that," you said, and pointed at the earth.
"What you can see?"
You kicked up some moondust, and you grunted. "I can’t see gravity," you said, "but I’d be stupid to say it didn’t exist. And yet, I also long to defy it."
I thought about that, and I asked, "Given the chance to defy God, would you do so?"
You didn‘t hesitate: "If I thought I was right."
And that’s when I decided you wouldn’t have an unfortunate accident there on the moon. That’s when I knew you had been a good choice for the mission Shekinah had in mind. You were the hand of God, but when you stood with God against Lucifer in the time before time, it was because it was the right thing to do, not because of blind devotion or a lack of free will.
And you would stand against God for the right reasons. You would stay his hand if need be.
I only wished you would recall our time on the moon when next we met. What things we might talk of then!
I held up my gloved hand and pretended to squeeze the distant planet between my fingers.
"It’s like a big, ripe tomato," I said.
"It’s like a dream," you said.
And we were both right.
(c) 2009 by Tony Simmons
Tomorrow: Dark Side of the Moon.