Space Cowboys Ride Into the Sunset

DATELINE:  Elder Stars Shine

  Maverick and Rowdy Yates with Tommy Lee!

How did we miss this action comedy directed by Clint Eastwood with an assemblage of geriatric stars?

Space Cowboysfrom 2000 unites a few genuine TV and movie cowboys (Eastwood and James Garner), but there are ringers in the bunch:  Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland. It does not matter: it is pure golden agers.

They were old then, but it was almost twenty years ago. Yet, only one has passed away since–James Garner.

Starting with a black and white prologue, you have the distinctive voices of the stars superimposed on younger, lookalike actors, which is effective. In the pre-NASA days, they are washed out of the space program and replaced by a monkey (not a first for Clint).

Even a dated late-night show host (Jay Leno) makes an appearance.

What is ineffective is the screenplay, all rather formulaic. Clint also does the story by the numbers: there are some old feuds and fights. He must reunite the old team.

And then in a plot twist that is cruel and nasty, the NASA honchos try to wash out the oldsters by killing them with physical training. Meant to be funny, it is simply unpleasant to watch. The charm of the actors is sorely challenged by the script. But, Clint as director is, as always, pure no-nonsense.

The enemies include William Devane and James Cromwell, which is not exactly chopped liver. This is an actors’ delight. Yet, the actual space trip in the shuttle is almost anti-climactic, and also rekindles the old Cold War.

Old, broken down space shuttles never die.

 

 

 

Project Blue Book Takes on Twilight Zone

DATELINE: Off We Go…

Gremlin on Wing

Dr. Hynek sees a Gremlin on the plane’s wing!

With the fourth episode, this series has gone into full paranoia mode. All stops are cleared—and even crop circles (not really well-known until a few decades ago) are part of the secret American space program under German operatives brought to the country from Nazi Germany.

It’s Project Blue Book quickly making a long drive off that short bridge.

“Operation Paperclip” is, accordingly, a disturbing neo-Nazi military space program led by the treacherous Werner Von Braun. This may be the most critical depiction ever given of the scientist who once worked for Hitler and then for NASA.

We begin to note some weird parallels to classic Twilight Zone episodes on Project Blue Book. This fits clearly into the metamorphosis from muted thriller to outright nut-cake presentation.

Yes, this series has been developing on several fronts, and it has hooked skeptics who thought Allen Hynek was a government hack, more of the problem than the solution, in history.

Hynek is receiving the hagiographic treatment: yes, in a few short weeks he has become the saint of UFOs and patron poster boy for those who have found the government a giant monolithic stone wall, long before Trump.

As for Mike Malarkey’s hostile Captain Quinn, he takes on Von Braun and the German transplants with a less than welcoming immigrant bouquet.

Government bribes, human experimentation, and massive black budget coverups with Russian spies everywhere, especially following Hynek’s wife (are they the men in black hats?) comes out in this latest episode.

The strain on credulity may not bend much more after this showing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Call to Titan, All Aboard

 DATELINE:  Earth’s Next Home

 Titan

 It only looks like Mars.

Not to be confused with remembering the Titans. We are now talking about the Titanians, a group of people who will be scientists and adventurers to colonize the Titan Moon of Saturn.

This little documentary, made in France, but is international in flavor—using scientists from the United States and NASA, as well as ESA with experts from England and France.

Last Call to Titan is a riveting little documentary.

From the odd perspective of a narrator telling the story of how Titan was discovered and colonized, we have a different approach to a science documentary. It works on its own strange planetary level.

Leslie Clack is the British narrator who is obviously speaking to us from the perspective of 200 years hence. He is from a place that is far removed from Earth and has its own laws and culture. Those who move to Titan will never be able to return to Earth because the changes to the body by gravity would kill anyone who dared to come back.

Most will be born there and not want to come here.

Titan has an opaque atmosphere, mostly methane, and extremely cold (180 degrees below zero).  Yet, with diving suits, not space suits, people would be able to move around more effortlessly.

The early photos and exploration of Titan by the Cassini-Huygens mission are the real call of this hour-long show. It is a fascinating place with oceans, lakes, rivers, and a coastline worthy of a European spa town.

New propulsion systems are under creation that would cut the trip to Titan to six months. However, you still need to be slightly anti-social to survive the loneliness—and being stuck with a bunch of weirdo scientists as your boon companions.

Last call indeed.

 

 

 

 

New England Patriot Space Cadets Blast Off!

DATELINE: Major Tom Gone for 4 Weeks in Space?

 

Pardon us if we start to sniff smelling salts. After watching Jimmy G, temporary star QB of the Patriots, achieve a nirvana of passing after smelling the salts, we feel justified in our 19th century damsel routine.

If Jimmy G is another Boston spaceshot, needing stimulants to achieve his pinnacle, we can only laud him for not falling down in a faint during the National Anthem.

Among the curios of the Patriots this season, we have found replacements to be better than a bad Keanu Reeves football movie.

Jimmy G has, of course, supplanted Tommy B in the hearts of those looking for lanterns in the belfry around Boston.

And, now, to prove spaceshots in Boston did not end with Spaceman Bill Lee, now running for governor of Vermont on the libertarian ticket—and soon to be equaled by Curt Schilling who will be running for senator from Massachusetts against Pocahontas Warren, we have discovered Martellus Bennett.

Yes, Gronk’s mirror image, the tight end to block till your heart bleeds, is a spaceshot on NASA’s guest list.

After wearing a NASA baseball cap during post-game interviews and expressing his interest in science and astronomy, NASA nerds sent him a twittering textual invitation. He readily has accepted, being in the mind to write a sci-fi novel.

Well, that trumps Gronk who barely can spell soufflé and seems to be one of the experiments of Ancient Aliens. At least Gronk didn’t go on Dancing with the Stars like Ryan Lochte circling Uranus. Talk about starry star power.

 

 

The Art of NASA’s Rover

DATELINE: HUMOR!

Image

Your tax dollars are hard—at work.

 

Up there on Mars, the manly god of war planet, in the red clay of the surface, our cheeky little rover is having a grand old time.

 

Without a men’s room in the vicinity, the rover has had nowhere to peddle his artwork. The ever-lasting image from Mars will always be what some Romans used to draw on the walls of their local bathhouse.

 

The rover named Curiosity has a streak that transcends history. We are sure you can find similar drawings on the walls of Machu Pinchu or inside the Pyramids.

 

Cavemen traced such images in the dark recesses of their local man cave. Now the NASA rover has followed suit.

 

 

 

Like all great empires, the examples are bigger than all previous efforts. And, the rover’s sand drawing is more than a red castle in the sky; it is beach blanket bingo.

 

If a kid takes a stick and traces a phallus in the sand at the beach, the tide will not wait to erase it. However, an image in the red sand of Mars will last for several hundred thousand years. We can only wait for the next asteroid to strike. Then, like an Etch-a-Sketch image, the phallus will disappear into the cosmic memory.

 

As for now, we have a big laugh at the size of the joke.