Friday, December 05, 2003


NASA's PAO announced this week that the orbiter Atlantis will make the majestic move of a few yards from her hanger at the Kennedy Space Center to the Vehicle Assembly Building. This is normally an important mark in the launch cycle, as the VAB is where the orbiters are mated to "the stack"-- the solid rocket boosters and external tank that will fuel the space shuttle's ascent into orbit. It is a procedure known as "rollover."

Atlantis, however, won't be getting down and dirty with any fuel tanks, external or otherwise. She'll be heading right back to her little house as soon as workers finish some renovation there. Celibacy, dear fleet, until we have our orbital house in order.

There is talk that President Bush will, at a December 17th speech on the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight, back a return to the Moon-- this time to establish a permanent presence. I'm kind of tearing up just typing this, as I have always sorrowed over the cancellation of Apollo. We simply chucked mankind's greatest technological achievement just as we were really getting the hang of this whole escape velocity business. Politics brought us to the Moon, and politics brought us right back to Earth again.

When I worked at the Kennedy Space Center, I always used to point out to visitors a poignant break in the piping that lines the road to the launch pads: It marks a point where Werner Von Braun planned to build yet another pad for a rocket he called the Nova, which was designed to take us to Mars. I don't think I have to tell you that the pad was never constructed. The gap just hangs there, overgrown, empty and waiting.

How bittersweet it will be for my former co-workers to watch Atlantis ease out of her little house... only to wheel right back in again a few weeks later. And how glorious it will be when we once again nudge at the edge of that gravitational envelope.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

"We can kill him together! It'll be fun!"

I'm extremely disturbed by this, but the guy who plays Scott Evil in Austin Powers? Is completely cute in The Italian Job. (I may be eighty-seven paces ahead of the rest of you culturally, but where movies are concerned, I'm consistently a decade or so behind. I saw Better Off Dead for the first time in life two weeks ago, no lie. So to see this thing within the same Presidential administration in which it was released is something along the lines of a minor Act of God.)

I couldn't take Seth Green seriously for the first forty-five minutes of the movie, as I kept expecting Frau Farbissina to show up and holler "SCAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHT!" His adorableness, however, increased exponentially as he hacked LA's highway system to control the traffic of the whole city. "And you'll stop....... here," here says, hitting the Enter key as an entire subway system screeches to a halt. Hot. I want me a man who can do that, and knock out the toll booths while he's at it. I'd seriously consider chucking the whole virginity thing for a single toll-free morning on the 408.

Perhaps I developed The Real Napster focus because I was studiously avoiding the person, character, and general presence of Marky-Mark Funky Bunch Wahlberg, in a rare appearance in which he is actually wearing pants for ninety consecutive minutes. Mark brings to mind his brother Donnie, which brings to mind my intense but humiliating New Kids on the Block fixation, which makes me want to die. Maybe it was the crap somebody was putting in the concrete that held my dental braces on. I don't know. Whatever it was, two years of my young life are forever blackened by my not only tolerance of, but lust for, a person who wore large diamond-encrusted peace symbols and sweatshirts reading "HOMEBOY."

All you fanboys out there needn't fear the temporary competition, however. Under the "Quotes" section in Seth's IMDB entry, there is the following bit of unfortunateness: "There are two kinds of people in this world," he says, "Michael Jackson fans and losers." Riiiiiiight.

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Awesome Again

Ohhhhhhhhh, I know you've been waiting for it: Gary "I'm Retiring! No I'm Not! Yes I Am! No, I-- Oh, The Hell With It, Let's Get My Closeup" Stevens Rides Again.

Behold, an article about a sixteen-year-old jockey Gary has taken under his extremely well-muscled wing. Took him into his home. Fed him (well, okay, that's not such a big deal, as apprentice jockeys eat, like, one-eighth of a pea a day to make weight.) Helped him get his jockey license. Continued the Jedi Master-Padawan tradition that probably helped him into the starting gate at the very same age. How keen is that.

Sixteen. He's sixteen, and he has a full-time job in which, if he doesn't know exactly what he's doing, he could very easily kill himself and others. You know what I was trying to survive at sixteen? Algebra.

Do you think it would be, like, weird if I joined the So. Cal jockey colony at age 26 and 130 pounds so that I could move in with Gary? Yeah, me neither.

Riders up at:

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


See, I leave Cincinnati for a year, and the whole damn place goes bezerk. Bengals winning, large people freaking out at the cops. I closed my eyes in pain when I heard that a black suspect died after--once again--fighting off the cops while high. What part of "Stay down" and "Get back" didn't this guy understand? Here's a news flash: If you DON'T RESIST THE COPS, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO GET HURT.
Nobody deserves to die in the parking lot of a White Castle's (especially if THAT'S going to be your last meal) but clearly the police officers acted with perfect professionalism. They never touched the suspect until he started HITTING them and lunging for their guns and batons. As soon as the suspect was restrained, they backed off and called paramedics. If you listen to the audio, you won't hear one single racial slur-- from the officers. The suspect, however, was screaming, "Redneck white boy." Those poor, poor, officers and their families. God bless them and my city during the Jessie Jackson nightmare to come. My heart aches for my hometown.

In the words of Glenn Beck to a caller who announced out of nowhere that "this is Rodney King all over again": "You're an idiot. You have absolutely no facts. Thanks for your call."

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Monday, December 01, 2003


Overheard while celebrating my sister's 30th birthday:

"When Taufling is three, we'll only have to buy a zero candle for Tink's cake, because she'll be thirty that year."

That statement contains such an epic amount of elements to be upset about that I'm not even going to start.

Flying Home

I like a seat on the aisle, as it provides maximum access to the exit and minimum contact with that dastardly lot, Other People. Once I was on one of those planes with three seats across, and the woman in the middle asked me to switch with her. "Sorry," I said. "I'm pregnant and I have to visit the lav a lot." Then I quietly slipped the class ring I wear on my left hand to my ring finger, and never got up at all.

It's a fairly solid strategy, one that does fail occasionally. Such as this week: I get on the plane, and my aisle partner is a guy with hair longer than mine, an entirely black wardrobe, and an Insider's Guide To Middle Earth in hand. I'm thinking this is the closest he's come to female contact since, I don't know, birth, a suspicion confirmed when he looked up at me and said, "Good evening."

Okay. Unless you're Alfred Hitchcock, a vampire, or an emcee, YOU DON'T SAY "GOOD EVENING."

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