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A recent meeting of the science fiction club I go to fell on July 20, which is the anniversary of the first Moon landing back in 1969. So here's a slightly edited version of something I did up to distribute at the meeting.
Various people active in L.A. science fiction fandom gathered at a party that day to watch the event on TV.
July 20, 1969 was a Sunday. The spacecraft landed early in the afternoon, Los Angeles time, with the original schedule calling for the astronauts to sleep on board for several hours and come out late that night. The astronauts, however, didn't really feel like sleeping, so the schedule was revised to put the historic First Step somewhere around dusk, L.A. time. One minor point is that had they followed the original schedule it would have been after midnight on the East Coast, with the result that the historic date would've been July 21 in part of the country and July 20 in the rest. As it was, at touchdown it was midnight somewhere around eastern Europe, and when the famous words were uttered it was midnight in mid-Atlantic. Thus you may see either July 20 or July 21 in your history books, depending on what time zone the writer is using.
In almost anything involving spacecraft there are short action-packed moments separated by long periods of nothing really interesting happening. Such was the case here. The TV networks filled in with all sorts of background info and simulations and interviews with scientists and the like. Some of us at the party stayed faithfully by the TV, while others milled around the refreshment table or conversed out on the front porch.
The craft was in Lunar orbit. To get from orbit to ground you fire retro-rockets, then wait an appreciable fraction of an orbital period as you slowly lose altitude. Firing the rockets for landing is literally a last-minute affair (or maybe the last couple of minutes of a half-hour descent). As the altitude readings got lower and lower the percentage of party-goers around the TV got higher and higher. Finally it came down to the last few meters. When they announced touchdown and cut the engines a cheer rang out from the assembled fans.
When the original schedule was calling for the crew to spend their first hours on the Lunar surface asleep on board their craft I had similar ideas and went home to take a nap. I was following things on the radio, though, and adjusted my schedule accordingly when the plans changed. While at home I did grab my Polaroid camera (Home video recorders weren't common then). I took several test shots of the screen during the preliminaries to see if the idea would work. It seemed to, sort of, although I didn't get really close enough to the screen because that would've blocked other people's views too much.
There are several things I remember thinking about during the actual Moon walk. One was an unexpected feeling of the loss of some old childhood dream of building a rocket ship in my back yard or something and getting there first myself. It had been in the back of my mind all those years even though I hadn't really taken it seriously for a long time. Another was that without the blue sky of Earth to lighten the shadows, sunlight on the Moon reminded me of a yard lit at night by just one light bulb.
And another was the line, "It so seldom rains on the Moon." It just sort of popped into my head. It didn't really make much sense at the time but it sounded kind of poetic, like the kind of 60's rock song that perhaps meant something to the singer singing it even if the audience never figured it out. That line kept coming back to me for years afterward, until I finally figured out something to do with it. You see the result at the end of this zine.
Are we God's blooper reel?
Went to a midnight showing of the Festival of Sick & Twisted Animation last weekend. Some of the stuff was interesting while other items seemed to just be grossout attempts, many centered on nose-picking or excretion or graphic violent disassembly of people or animals. A few had clever jokes or plot developments.
The one that got the strongest Yuck from the audience was a live-action thing about a woman who likes to smush worms with her feet. I didn't care much for that one myself. Although what happened to the worms beneath her feet is probably no worse than what happens to worms in a bird's stomach, I didn't really care to watch it in that much gory detail. Maybe if I too had a worm-smush fetish I'd get off on it, but that's not my thing.
That's why I don't frequent the Usenet group
or even know whether or not such a group actually exists. I wouldn't be surprised either way. Even if it hadn't existed up to now, someone else who saw that same piece of cinematic glorp may be newgrouping the group even as I type these words.
One item had the imprint of the National Film Board of Canada. It was an anti-violence thing, and made its point by exaggerating the violence you see on TV news. Ended with the world getting blown up, leaving only a TV set floating in the void.
Another was a Beavis & Butthead. From the way the audience sang along with some of the air guitar stuff and shouted words like "Frog Baseball" in unison, it appears they were familiar with the references from cable TV or somewhere like that.
They also shouted the "No Neck Joe" title in unison. Another cable TV thing? But how do they know which titles to shout and which not to? Do college students gather around TV sets in dormitory and frat house recreation rooms and experiment with shouting stuff in unison, then pass the word on the results on to others by some sort of underground grapevine? Do they perhaps have a Usenet group of their own?
The 700-seat theater was nearly full, and there was a sort of rowdy crowd energy. As I sort of hinted before, it looked like a heavily college crowd, or at least that age group. And I noticed alcohol being consumed in line before the show started. That may have added to the mood.
Somebody brought some large balloons (couple of feet in diameter) for the crowd to bat around. Was this "official" or do random people just bring them? In any case, I had my laser pointer and aimed it at some of them, wiggling it around to make light-show patterns. I heard "Somebody has a laser pointer" from several people around the theater. My first reaction was to put it away for a while lest I be kicked out of the theater, but then I figured that if the management was tolerating the balloons they'd probably tolerate the pointer. I'd decided that if anyone official asked I'd promise not to do it on the screen during the show, but nobody asked.
And I wonder if this will induce others to bring laser pointers to future showings? If balloons are a common thing, lasering them may become common also, especially at theaters near colleges. This theater was very near Caltech, which may explain why so many people knew what a laser pointer was.
It So Seldom Rains on the Moon Hallways are silent, the city's asleep. Night's a tradition we cling to and keep. Out for a walk as I sort through a heap Of memories, thoughts out of tune, Like running through rain by a seashore in June -- But it so seldom rains on the Moon And the memories tied to the sea and the rain Remain ... It says in the schedule it's autumn today But why even bother I really can't say -- Freeze-dried December and vacuum-packed May Wrapped up in a sterile cocoon -- Atmosphere dome like the bowl of a spoon And it so seldom rains on the Moon But the memories tied to the sea and the rain Remain ... So why did we come here and why don't we go? It's something of freedom and room for to grow -- We can't quite explain it, you may never know Or else you may see it quite soon -- We're not going back to that big blue balloon Though it so seldom rains on the Moon And the memories tied to the sea and the rain Remain ... Thomas G. Digby written 0235 hr 4/14/76 entered 1210 hr 3/05/92 -- END --
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