Space and Spaghetti…

In July 1969, my parents loaded the family into the Ford Galaxy and made the drive from New Jersey to Florida to watch the Apollo 11 launch at Cape Kennedy.  I was probably the one most excited about the trip and the launch-viewing opportunity.  And as I look back on the event, it was one of the most pivotal and cherished memories from my youth.

We were a “space race” family who kept up with the launches by television and through the newspapers.  Being well-informed about NASA was necessary as it was the topic of many family dinner conversations.  Space and spaghetti — it was a winning combination.

Each year a wave of nostalgia hits me when the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing approaches.  When that annual tsunami of emotion arrives, I turn to books about the space race so I can re-live that moment in history and keep the memories 586472alive.

One of my favorites is The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe.  Published in 1979, the book is about America’s space race, the politics that surrounded the goal to beat the Russians, and the people who put their personal lives on the line to achieve that goal.  It is historic as it is biographic  — a true celebration of the American spirit.

In 2013, Lily Koppel wrote The Astronaut Wives Club, a non-fiction title about the women behind the Mercury Seven astronauts.  It is an ironic story about the women who were portrayed as perfect wives by NASA and journalists, but in reality had less than idyllic lives.  The 2015 television series that was loosely based on the book received mixed reviews — and rightly so.

One of the best titles in recent years is Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.  Most everyone has seen the highly acclaimed film adaptation — but the book IS better.  The title tells the story of the women who used their mathematical talents in the early days of the space race to act as human computers for NASA.  The women were “hidden” because they were African American and working in a segregated workplace.  We’ve come a long way.

On my reading list for this month is Apollo 8 by Jeffrey Kluger.  It may be time to cook some spaghetti and start the dinner conversation!





Failure to act always brings consequences…

During yesterday’s 5K race, I was able to enjoy a few more chapters in Star Wars: Thrawn by Timothy Zahn. To be honest, I dislike this particular Expanded Universe character such that the storyline incited me to move along the course at a quicker pace.  End result — I came in first in my age group.

Star Wars: Thrawn takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before Rogue OneThe novel chronicles the rescue of the exiled Chiss leader by Imperial soldiers and his subsequent, and very swift rise to power.  With his pragmatic approach to warfare, Thrawn relies onthrawn his intellect and his skill with military strategy to defend the Empire.  Although he proves to be a valuable asset, his seductive and turncoat personality strikes the anger of his superiors.

One of my favorite aspects of the Star Wars storyline is the depth and breadth of the characters and how the franchise creatively introduces them and brings them to life. When we watch the feature films we learn about the Star Wars Universe, enjoy the adventures of the ever-growing number of characters, and how they interact to support the story.  But it is through the Expanded Universe — the books, comic books, graphic novels, video games, and other media — that we gain an intimate knowledge of each character’s background and personal quest.

As I get ready to head out today for double-digit training miles in prep for my next race, I hope to finish the final chapters of Star Wars: Thrawn and consider something I read a few days ago about the question that plagues every Star Wars fan.  The secret to Snoke’s true identity is right before our eyes.

Is Supreme Leader Snoke actually Thrawn?