As I was growing up, it was my Dad who often controlled when and what we watched on television. This was also at a time when there was only one TV in the house and in order to turn the channel, someone needed to walk across the room and turn the knob to one of the other two options.
We seemed to watch a lot of what were called variety shows. These were usually song and dance productions hosted by such musical and comedy stars as Andy Williams, Carol Burnett and Perry Como.
These shows generally lasted an hour and were designed to be watched by the entire family. It was appointment TV. If you missed it, you missed it. There was no technology yet to record shows.
A slightly different version of this genre came on the scene hosted by a bigger-than-life comedian named Jackie Gleason. His show originated in Miami. The others were in New York or Hollywood. His humor seemed directed to a more adult audience.
His show featured a skit that centered around two young couples and their wives living in a bare-bones Brooklyn apartment. Gleason played the part of Ralph Kramden. When his wife would frustrate or exasperate him to the point of no return, Ralph would often threaten, “One of these days, Alice, to the moon, one of these days!”
Fly me to the moon
I don’t think Ralph was booking a ticket for Alice on a space ship, but before this year is over, that very action could take place. As space exploration and our ability to take off and return to the exact spot we left, that trip to the moon is becoming more than a lonesome lunar lullaby.
Twenty-four humans have visited the moon, all Americans. They were also all astronauts. Entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson are both designing rocket ships to take very wealthy civilians to outer space.
If you had a spare million or two gathering dust, would you want to be along for the ride? I have a couple of other questions, if you don’t mind.
If you’re paying a $1 million, would they still charge extra for more than one bag? Also, wouldn’t these passengers need to undergo some sort of training? When I fly, I don’t mind agreeing to operate the exit door if it’ll get me some extra leg room. But I’m not sure I’m ready to extinguish a fire or help others cope with rapid depressurization in the event of a minor, in-flight problem.
It’s dizzying to take inventory of how fast things are moving these days. The events and inventions we baby boomers have seen boggles the mind. "Star Trek" was once merely a TV show aboard the spaceship Enterprise. Now, we’re discussing a recent NASA discovery of distant objects that are billions of miles from our planet.
Sometimes, it feels like some of these outer space discussions do nothing but provide distractions. Is that too narrow-minded? Space exploration, after all, gave us camera phones, wireless headsets, ear thermometers and little vacuums known as dust-busters.
Even so, I wish we’d all slow down and spend a little more time learning to live with each other right where we are.