A week ago last Friday night, I stopped into a 24-hour supermarket on my way home from a St. Patty’s party. I’d been careful not to overindulge, but my mouth felt dry and gummy anyway, and I knew from experience that I would probably need a dose of electrolytes and rehydration therapy come morning.
I don’t know if anyone else is following this story or cares in the least, but I have a morbid fascination for it, so here’s what’s happening with former astronaut Lisa Nowak:
- Her attorneys formally entered a “not guilty” plea last Thursday. (The article notes that this is in addition to an earlier, written plea, which I’m assuming is the one I mentioned here; I’m still not certain how or why you would plead twice like this.)
- Lisa, a US Navy officer who was technically just on loan to NASA, has a new assignment developing flight-training lesson plans at an air base in Corpus Christi, Texas. A Navy spokesman indicated that she would be working in “more of a course developer role, rather than be[ing] a direct instructor.” No doubt this is a tactful way of saying that she’ll be safely confined to a cubicle somewhere and not allowed to interact with the impressionable trainees.
- And finally (and not surprisingly), NASA has announced the formation of a new committee to review the healthcare services the agency currently offers to astronauts, as well as how astronauts are screened for both mental and physical health. I imagine one of the goals of this review is to figure out how Nowak’s, um, condition went unnoticed until she became dangerous.
Lisa Nowak’s trial is expected to begin on July 30.
Shoot… I wish this wasn’t scheduled in the middle of the day, when I’ll be tied to my desk here in the Proofreader’s Cave: the filmmaker Ken Burns will be speaking at BYU tomorrow at 11 a.m. His masterpiece documentary series The Civil War was one of the most profoundly moving television programs I’ve ever seen, and I’m looking forward to his new series about World War II with great anticipation.
It’ll be interesting to see exactly how he stages this new documentary. His signature style — slow pans across or zooms into a vintage photograph while actors read from writings contemporary to the photo’s subject — has been much copied, almost to the point of cliche, but Burns can still wring deep emotions from the technique. He’s that good at what he does. However, in the case of WW II, there is a tremendous amount of motion-picture footage available — a resource he obviously didn’t have when he was discussing the Civil War — so will he continue on with the stills because they’re “his thing,” or make more use of moving images? I suppose it will depend on the effect he’s trying to achieve… but if he does go the motion-picture route, what will then differentiate his World War II series from all the other docs about that war, which is probably the most “documentarized” subject in world history?
I guess we’ll find out… The War is scheduled to air on PBS stations in September. In the meantime, if anyone reading this happens to attend Burns’ presentation tomorrow, drop me a line. I’d love to hear your impressions of him.
I was saddened a couple weeks ago by the death of Brad Delp, the lead singer of the classic-rock band Boston, but I’m positively heartbroken to learn this morning that he in fact committed suicide. He sealed himself in his bathroom with a pair of charcoal grills and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. A note attached to his shirt said he was “a lonely soul” and had lost his will to live, a curious sentiment considering he was engaged to be married, but then no one ever said that clinical depression was a logical condition.
In a gesture I find deeply touching and even heroic in an small, quiet, odd kind of way, Brad left another note on the bathroom door warning whoever came to find him that there was CO inside. What a damn shame that a man who felt this much compassion for others apparently couldn’t find enough for himself.
Oh, and just to add another layer of sorrow to this already sad story, it looks like Brad’s old bandmates, friends, and family members are squabbling in the aftermath of his death. The bones of contention are complicated and old — the basic grudge dates back to legal battles in the early ’80s — but the practical result is that several people who cared about Brad, including Tom Scholz, Boston’s founder and Brad’s friend for 35 years, were not invited to his funeral.
I know from my own bitter experiences that deaths seem to exacerbate and cement these kinds of ancient hurts, rather than healing them as Hallmark movies would have us believe. Still, I think it’s unspeakably crappy that Scholz, in particular, felt excluded. The article I linked suggests that he hopes to smooth things over so the current Boston line-up can attend a public memorial; I hope he succeeds…
It rained a few nights ago, and in the morning, after the storm had blown away, the sky looked as if it had been scoured and burnished. As I walked across the platform toward the light-rail train that was waiting to take me to work, I stopped and looked to the west. The slumped and rounded contours of the Oquirrh Mountains stood out clearly in the sparkling air, as if they were only yards away instead of miles, and all the houses and trees that blanket the valley floor were crisply defined as well. In the northwest corner of the valley, out over the Great Salt Lake, I could see a mass of leftover clouds piled up in a tall, gray heap that was shockingly dark compared to everything around it, and beautiful for the contrast it provided. The world looked clean and refreshed, and it suddenly struck me, as it occasionally does, that I really, really love living in this place where the mountains are so near and the sky so far above.
Unfortunately, the downsides of living in Utah often make an equally strong impression.
Today is The Shat’s 76th birthday. So let’s take a moment to consider all the wonderful things that this great, great man has contributed to our culture: James T. Kirk… T.J. Hooker… Denny Crane… Kingdom of the Spiders… the only movie ever made that’s entirely in Esperanto…
To honor his continued existence here among us, allow me to present this video clip of The Shat clarifying, once for all, who and what he really is:
Remember, people: they were just puppets!
This is a fun idea: an upcoming episode of William Shatner’s television series Boston Legal will incorporate footage from The Defender, a courtroom drama that Shatner filmed 50 years ago, back in the days of live TV (it’s available on DVD, oddly enough), as a flashback to explain why a hostage taker has a grudge against Shatner’s BL character, Denny Crane. No word on if the old clips will be colorized or digitally massaged in any way, but with Boston Legal, you never can tell — they may run them in grainy black-and-white for effect.
I didn’t think much of Boston Legal the first couple times I watched it — I have the same problem with it that I have with most of David E. Kelley‘s shows, which is that no people in the real world behave remotely the way his eccentric characters do — but it’s growing on me, in large part because of Shatner. Readers of this blog know that I like him anyway because of the Star Trek connection, but in the role of Denny Crane, he’s finally shed any lingering typecasting from having been Captain Kirk and seems, for the first time (and the first performance) in years, to be really comfortable and happy in a role again. And his chemistry with James Spader is simply delicious.
I’m fairly indifferent to the new movie that everyone is buzzing about, 300. I’m not actually opposed to seeing it, but I have yet to see or hear anything about it that makes me want to run right out to the cinema, like, now.
(If you really must know my reasons, I’m unimpressed by the video game-y look of the film, and the commercials make it look as if all the dialogue is presented in a top-of-the-lungs shout. It just looks a little too over-the-top bombastic for my tastes.)
However, this cartoon makes me think that, perhaps, it might behoove me to get myself down to the multiplex. And that I’d better be sure to like what I see, no matter what. Because I really don’t want to turn in anything to anybody…
I just received a phone message from my friend and Webmaster, Jack: he and Mrs. Jack welcomed their second child, another boy, into the world this morning. They’ve named him Tate, and the stats for those who follow this sort of thing are: 7 lbs. 1 oz., 20 inches long, born 4:25 a.m.
Congratulation, Jack and Nat, and hello Tate!
[Update: Jack has added photos of the newest Hattaway to his site here, if anyone would like to have a look…]