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Is That A Rocket In Your Garage Or Are We Just Besties?

January 13, 2022

© 2022 Michael Tomano / Fossil Entertainment Group

"Don't watch the news for a while. Just try to find comedy and find love and, I don't know, be good to each other, okay?" - Bob Saget

Is it just me or is the beginning of a new year a scary time for celebrities? New Year’s Eve saw the beloved Betty White shuffle off the mortal coil at ninety-nine, last week comedian Bob Saget died in a Florida Ritz-Carlton and the world of music bid farewell to Ronnie Spector. Toward the end of the year, novelist Anne Rice passed away, too.

There seems to be, among certain people, a disdain for mourning the death of celebrities. It’s ripe territory for “Whataboutism” that pops up whenever tributes pour in for well-known names who die. There are children who die. Soldiers. Police officers and other first-responders. The notion being that celebrities are not heroic, and proper mourning should occur instead for folks who die under more noble circumstances or in some form of service to the commonwealth.

I believe we are touched by celebrity deaths since they offered us, through their work and personalities, an escape from the mundanity of daily life and the horrific events that dominate the news cycle. There’s a certain connection we have to people we know only through the filter of their work, measured by the pleasure it gives us. While an artist or performer might create in solitude, the finished work becomes a possession of the consumer. While fandom may be a collective, the impact of the artist is individual. You and I might like a song, but the exact reasons it resonates with each of us may be different. And while one might not have gone shopping with Betty White or shared dinner with Bob Saget, the laughter and levity they provided is a personal treasure.

I’ve seen a few episodes of Full House. My daughter discovered it in rerun when she was an adolescent. I have seen bits of his standup, as well. I recently enjoyed a YouTube conversation between he and Gilbert Gottfried. It’s a great chat worth seeking out and Saget’s kind demeanor and mischievous sense of humor won me over. In fact, Bob’s YouTube channel, Bob Saget’s Here for You, is full of candid conversations featuring Saget with fellow comics, actors and other relevant guests.

Since his death, the consensual sentiment among colleagues and friends is an acknowledgment of his kindness. There are numerous stories of his support and assistance to new comics. Bob also was a board member of The Scleroderma Research Foundation, having lost a sister to the disease.

So, in the end, Bob is remembered for bringing joy and laughter to millions, his charity, kindness and support. When you strip life to its essentials, what better attributes are there for which to be remembered?

Seeing his Twitter post from hours before his death was a reality slap. Carpe Diem, indeed. Be kind.

Last night, I fell asleep in the comfort of an old friend, David Cronenberg’s 1986 classic, The Fly. It’s been a few years since I watched it. Didn’t make it to the end, due to starting it around 10 p.m., having been up since 3:30 a.m. I woke to the repeating, bombastic theme snippet on the menu page of the Blu-ray.

Jeff Goldblum’s performance is terrific, conveying the sadness, frustration, and horror of a dying man, offset with a scientist’s fascination and detached sense of humor observing an experiment play out in fateful irony. Among Cronenberg’s finest moments, The Fly is a near-perfect blend of science-fiction, horror, and romance.

Watching The Fly is a continuation of my current escape-from-reality plan. I am spending time, as always, with my wife and daughter. Last week I took family members on our annual pheasant hunt. Great memories are made watching a great dog work a field while enjoying time with people you love. The bonus was a successful harvest, resulting in a wonderful meal for my family, with more to follow. Family time. Nature time. Entertainment time. The Great Escape. The Necessary Escape for this weary traveler.

The entertainment I’ve been seeking lately has been some progressive rock favorites from the 70s (RUSH, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, YES, King Crimson), Science Fiction films of the 70s (Yes, I’ve got a thing for works from the 60s and 70s. Part nostalgia, part appreciation of the craftsmanship and originality of the era.)

The music and films are providing a much-needed otherworldliness during the current chaotic state of reality (But, what is reality? No! No, I tell you! I won’t tread down that bizarro rabbit hole! Not today, Beelzebubba!)

I watched the documentary, For the Love of Spock, a must-watch for any Star Trek fan. Directed by Leonard Nimoy’s son, Adam, the in-depth look at the actor’s life and the impact of Mr. Spock on pop-culture is a Trekkie wonderland. There’s a lot in it, including interviews with cast members, family, writers, and fans.

Leonard Nimoy mentions Lon Chaney, Sr. being one of his idols. “The Man of a Thousand Faces,” Chaney’s fame was a result of his disappearance into a character through his make-up kit and acting versatility, something Nimoy touched upon during his stint as Paris, a master of disguise, on the fourth and fifth seasons of Mission Impossible from ’69 to ’71.

Chris Pine, the actor who portrays Captain James T. Kirk in recent Star Trek film reboots, points out the perfect balance in the “triumvirate” of the cast’s leads: the “cynical wit” of McCoy, the “swagger and braggadocio” of Kirk and the “intellect and cold reason” of Spock.

As a few of the interviewees point out, Spock was the quintessential outsider. His status was that of “visitor,” a position we all assume in social circles at certain times. Both blessings and banes, Spock’s objective reasoning and indefatigable dedication to logic ruled his being. His commitment to clear-thinking could not be swayed.

So, carry on, friends. Remain objective. Apply reason. Keep it logical, y’all. Step back and realize that the divisive course we are on as a society cannot end well. The slogan, We Are All in This Together, gets bandied about quite often these days. We Can Do This! We Can Make It Happen!

Really? What about the people who don’t think like you? Are they part of the We?

I am dismayed at the selective outrage I see, the desperate virtue signaling, the growing hatred within political division, and the censorship of opposing views by Big Tech.

It’s just...not...logical.

When a government gets a nation hooked on fear and crisis, the improvement of conditions goes against its interest. To the hysterical, the enemy becomes those not in hysterics.

We are in an age when the ideals of individualism are scoffed at; while Orwell’s prophecy of Groupthink has come true, with blind allegiance to collectivism applauded and, in many cases, rewarded. No longer a slippery slope, we are snowboarding on an avalanche.

Elizabeth Warren, and throngs of similar-minded folk, cry out for Elon Musk and other billionaires to “pay their fair share.” Another meaningless mantra. The truth is Ol’ Musky has paid more taxes than anyone in American history. I’m guessin’ he puts in a hell of a workday. And honestly, kids, if he does “pay his fair share,” whatever amount you might deem fits that description, do you truly believe your taxes will decrease? A decrease here, an increase there. It’s a shell game, always has been.

Logical? Be less concerned with how much Musk money the government takes, and more concerned with how much of yours is taken and wasted. And stolen. And “lost.” I trust The Muskmeister General to do better things with his fortune than the frothing, screeching lunatics that slither ‘round the dungeons of the haunted, decrepit White House.

I like Elon Musk. He’s got a spaceship. I’d like to get to know him. Hang out. I’d have to be careful not use him for his spaceship. That would be shitty. No, we could become friends, watch movies, recommend books to each other, drive around and listen to music in his Tesla Roadster, grab some tacos, be besties. He could call me “Tomato” and I’ll call him “Musk Rat”, or, in my cleverer moments, “Jovan.”

I would only talk about his rocket when he brought it up. And then, I’d be like, “That’s so cool, man.” When he felt comfortable enough, he’d toss me the keys, suggesting I take my lovely bride and wonderful daughter for a spin.

I’d look at My Main Musketeer and say, “Bro! For real? I mean...” I’d pause then look right into his eyes and say, “Thanks so much.” Elon would smile, put his hand on my shoulder and say, “Hey, Tomato, we’re BFFs.” We’d bro hug and then I’d rush home to share the news. “Honey! Put on your Tony Lamas! We’re going to Mars!”

Stay the course my friends.

Explore strange new worlds. Seek out new life and new civilizations. Boldly go where you have not gone before.

Live Long & Prosper.



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