Just a short update writing-wise and otherwise as we get ready for the full onset of spring and summer. We are ready for both. I’m especially ready this morning – it is cool and cloudy with some chilly rain due later in the day. A warm cup of coffee should take care of any discomfort.
Just a bit of news on the writing front. A recent Writer’s Magazine mentioned a new baseball-related start up publication titled Twin Bill. That was welcome news. Like many periodicals, sports magazines have taken a hit in recent years. Years ago there was a small but very good one titled Elysian Fields Quarterly: The Baseball Review, whose editor was foolish enough to publish a small story of mine. Despite being the recipient of several prestigious awards, the magazine went by the wayside several years ago. (Hopefully, my story didn’t have anything to do with shutting it down.) So far, Spitball, a really neat little publication, has continued to thrive. More years ago than seems possible, Spitball published “Renewal”, a small fiction piece about transferring a love for the game from generation to generation.
All that is a run-up to the Twin Bill saga – which is a good news/bad news story. The good news is that I submitted a story which the editor liked. The bad news is that he wants to adjust the focus to include more details regarding one of the characters. He wondered if I would consider shifting the story in that direction. I asked for ten days or a couple of weeks to fiddle with it. We’ll see what happens.
The other sort of related writing news recalls memories of a wonderful book called Carrying the Fire written by the astronaut Michael Collins who passed away on April 28. Collins was the command module pilot on the Apollo 11 crew that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. I read the book many years ago. It has always stayed in mind because Collins tells the story so very well. Unlike with many of these sorts of books, Collins wrote it all himself – and he was a marvelous writer. There was no ghost writer, no author’s name in major capital letters with a smaller line at the bottom that says “with (fill in some other name who quite possibly did much of the actual preparation and writing).”
I googled up some of the reviews that discussed the book when it first came out. All were highly laudatory. The New Yorker described how Collins talked about what the space journey meant to him as a human being and discussed the role of man in future space endeavors. The New York Times said “Michael Collins can write … no other person who has flown in space has captured the experience so vividly.”
A day or two after Collins’ death, the BBC rebroadcast an interview they had conducted with Collins in 2019 (50th anniversary of the mission). Wonderfully done. Then within the past day or two I ran across a transcription of Collins’ words to Houston as the module was circling the moon and later some thoughts that he wrote when he returned. Both relate to the moment he saw the earth rise over the moon’s horizon for the first time. Indulge me for two paragraphs please – I thought they were remarkable:
“Houston, I’ve got the world in my window. And the world is about the size of your thumbnail if you hold it at arm’s length in front of you. The whole focus of your attention goes into this little thing out there. It’s in a black void, which makes the colors even more impressive. Primarily, you get the blue of the oceans, the white of the clouds; you get little stretches of tan that we call continents, but they’re not that noticeable. It’s just gorgeous.”
“Strangely enough, it looks fragile somehow. You want to take care of it. You want to nurture it. You want to be good to it. All that beauty. It was wonderful. It was tiny. It’s our home, everything I knew, but fragile.”
Although it was Armstrong and Aldrin who walked on the moon, I always thought that in one sense Collins had the most remarkable experience of any of the crew. When the other two were on the moon, he was the most alone any human being had ever been. Indeed, on every orbit for 48 minutes (I think the time was) when the command module was on the dark side of the moon, he was out of contact not only with his crew mates but with everyone on earth. How remarkable it must have been to experience something like that.
And now (in response to no demand whatsoever) TRULY AWFUL PUNS.
My friend just got a job on the guillotine.
He’ll beheading there soon.
Yesterday I saw a guy spill his Scrabble tiles on the road.
So I said to him: “What’s the word on the street?”
Best wishes to all for a safe and very happy summer.