the first is the steady stream of images and data coming back from the Mars rovers. i looked at the first images, and thought ‘eh. flat. red. so?’ but the more i thought about it, the more impressive it is. it really wasn’t all that long ago that we got the first images from the moon, in black and white. that we now have the technology to send a remote controlled exploration unit to Mars, to pick and choose what we want to see and do there, to be able to react to conditions we couldn’t predict – that’s amazing.
there was a great segment on NPR the other night, where they were interviewing kids at the National Air and Space Museum to see why they thought we should go to Mars. man, some of those kids… ‘it would make a great vacation spot!’ ‘we’ll find all kinds of new materials, maybe metals.’ ‘it might be really cold there.’ (how that last is a reason, i’m not sure.)
there was also a good segment, maybe last month, talking about the technology involved, and why it’s so much more difficult to send people to Mars than the moon. [i’ll see if i can hunt down the link, but for now, it’s just what i can recall.] basically, the scientist was saying that everyone is asking why we can’t send people instead of a remote control car. ‘technology evolves a lot faster than the human body. oddly, we still need as much air as we did 40 years ago.’ heh.
the other story that caught my eye was Spalding Gray going missing. i first heard of him years ago, when Sex and Death to the Age Fourteen came out. i thought his stories about growing up, and dealing with puberty, siblings, shame, family, curiosity, and (i think it was in that book) flaming farts were brilliant. not only that, i felt some sort of kinship to him. it’s an odd thing about being a public figure: people learn some little fact about you, and feel like they know you, or share something in common with you. we do this to all sorts of people – sports stars, authors, musicians, actors. for me, with Spalding Gray, there was a family association. he grew up roughly in the same part of Rhode Island where my mother’s father had lived at one point as a child. how this meant i had anything in common with Gray, i don’t know. but i loved knowing that about him.
i also got to meet him, once, briefly, in a stuttering fannage sort of way. he was performing his latest monologue here in town, at a theatre i don’t think i worked at yet (chronology is a bit hazy for me there). i brought my copy of Sex and Death, and waited, nervously, out front of the theatre. (i was pretty sure that was the only way in and out.) half an hour after the curtain came down, he came striding out (god, he is tall), in a hurry to get somewhere, and i skittered out, thrusting my book and a pen at him, ‘wouldyousignmybook ilovedtheperformance godimsureeveryonetellsyouthat ohyouresokind thankyoufortheautograph’, palms sweating the whole time, sure he wouldn’t stop.
and now he’s gone missing. i’ve read that he’s struggled with depression off and on for years, and that an accident a few years back didn’t help. i’ve also read that he has a family, a wife and child, a brother and relatives, looking for him. here’s hoping he comes home safely.