For All Mankind

I spent the morning at the computer, working on a couple of documents. I took a lunch break and bought a Beatles Yellow Submarine T-shirt. Back at work, people were still talking about Halloween candy. I made a comment about someone’s title of doctor being like Dr. Dre. Back at home, I watched the documentary “For All Mankind” on Blu-ray. I couldn’t recall whether I’d seen it before. It was released in 1989, and it had footage of the Apollo missions to the moon. It begins with President Kennedy’s speech about landing on the moon, although from the IMDB notes, the word “mankind” was spliced into the audio track as a bit of creative license. One of the things about the astronauts that I was the most curious about was how they used a toilet in zero gravity. They did say that it was a bit of a problem. We do hear the astronauts in their own voices describing their experiences. I also always wondered how they got some of those shots of the rockets launching, and the activities on the moon. Some people went to great lengths, it seems. As the years passed, and we hear about astronauts on shuttles and space stations, and we see all sorts of science fiction movies, we might think that space travel is as common as a plane ride. However, I think that this movie brings back a sense of what an awesome accomplishment what was to send even one person into orbit, much less to the moon. I think you get the feeling of how dangerous it was, too, with all the fuel burning and all the explosive force that was necessary. The footage on the moon made me think of Matt Damon in “The Martian.” One of the astronauts fell down, and I actually gasped, because of the risk of tearing the spacesuit. How many people know who the second person to step on the moon was, or who the last person in 1972 to step on the moon was? I wondered how heavy that moon buggy was. One of my favorite bits was the hammer and the feather. I had seen my science teacher from my youth do a similar experiment, but it was still amusing to see an astronaut do the same thing on the moon. The astronauts listened to music on tape back then, so we hear Buck Owens and Merle Haggard on the soundtrack. I’m not sure that I’d want to be an astronaut if I had to be cooped up in a small space having to listen to other people’s musical tastes. It seemed that the crew of the Apollo 13 heard of the news of the breakup of The Beatles while they were on their mission. The astronauts had to be in good health to be sent up there, but I still wondered what would happen if one of them had a medical emergency. It would have been terrible if someone died on the moon. I would have been horribly frustrated if I was on a mission to the moon that didn’t land on the surface. We’ve heard about the crash landing of a probe on Mars. What would have happened if Neil Armstrong’s crew had a hard landing? Their situation was precarious, but they went about their job calmly. That’s the personality type they were supposed to have. Those missions took place over four short years, but those were vivid years both for NASA and the rest of the country. A lot was going on between 1968 and 1972. What did we learn about the moon from those visits there? One interesting thing in the news this morning is that applications for new astronauts are being accepted. I think my time has passed. I actually don’t think I could handle the launch too well. I could imagine being dizzy and nauseous the whole time. This movie is a collection of footage from six of the Apollo missions. It is unfortunate that some footage is shown out of context. Still, I think it’s a good movie. It shows the astronauts as real human beings and not mythical figures. It brings back the feeling of wonder and awe of Earth, space, and the universe. I liked the music of Brian Eno that was used. Some of the voices of the narration were from Jim Lovell, Michael Collins, Charles Conrad, Jack Swigert, and Ken Mattingly. Al Reinert, the director of “For All Mankind,” came up with his list of Top 10 Criterion Collection discs: “Monterey Pop,” “Robinson Crusoe on Mars,” “Solaris,” “Days of Heaven,” “The Lady Eve,” “Brazil,” “Black Orpheus,” “Rififi,” “Sid & Nancy,” and “Slacker.” I wonder about the story behind the Soviet lunar program, which had a disaster in 1969. However, I’m not too sure that I want to spend much time reading about a failure. Only twelve people have walked on the moon, all from the Apollo missions: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt. Eight of them are still alive, all in their 80s. Armstrong, Conrad, Shepard, and Irwin have died. I thought this was a good movie to watch just before I went to bed last night. A lot of movies that I watch are too disturbing. My brother liked thinking about the space program and astronauts. He had a copy of “For All Mankind” in his living room, although it was unopened. I missed Daniel Craig on Stephen Colbert’s show. The release of every James Bond movie makes me think of what Warren Zevon said during his last days, that he wanted to live long enough to see the next James Bond movie, which at the time was “Die Another Day.” He has missed all of the Daniel Craig films, though, which I would rate as all being better than that last Pierce Brosnan film. It was a cold morning, and I hated getting up out of bed and facing a lot of students. Some of the people who died on November 5 include George M. Cohan (1942), Art Tatum (1956), Ward Bond (1960), Mack Sennett (1960), Vladimir Horowitz (1989), Bobby Hatfield (2003), Link Wray (2005), and Jill Clayburgh (2010). Today is a birthday for Ryan Adams (41), Tilda Swinton (55), Bryan Adams (56), Peter Noone (68), and Art Garfunkel (74).

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