Saturday, July 16, 2016


Wild Blue Yonder


On July 16, 1969 the Apollo 11 mission began with a launch from Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 at Merritt Island, Florida.

The Kennedy Space Center facility was built because the massive Saturn V rocket designed for the Apollo program was too powerful for NASA's launch facilities at Cape Canaveral.

The launch and the mission got extensive news and TV coverage,
of course. Most people my age spent hours glued to TV sets as humanity reached for the stars.

How my generation lost its enthusiasm for the space program is a sad tale of bureaucratic hubris and progressive disdain for both technology and human exceptionalism. Forty-seven years after the first manned mission to the moon lifted off, the once-inspiring idea of sending humans elsewhere in our solar system (and even beyond it) is deader than Kelsey's nuts.

"Maybe if you told people there were Pokémon on Mars..."

You're not funny...

Unholy Trinity

National historic landmark at the Trinity site

On July 16, 1945 the Atomic Age truly began with the world's first detonation of a nuclear weapon in the Jornada del Muerto desert near Socorro, New Mexico.

The test, code-named Trinity, was the first real-world test of the technology developed by the Manhattan Project.

I spent much of my youth worried about Soviet attacks using nuclear weapons. There were Saturday morning cartoons telling us what to do if atomic bombs started to fall, and people I knew were building fallout shelters. No one who didn't live though that era can truly understand what it was like.

Of course, the effects of the Atomic Age on our culture weren't all bad...

"Rawr, baby!"
"Has anyone ever told you your fondness for Godzilla movies is...excessive?"

I wouldn't care...and it isn't just Godzilla movies, I'm a fan of the entire kaiju genre...spent many a pleasant Saturday morning watching movies like Rodan,  
The Mysterians, and of course the classic Destroy All Monsters...

Annus Horribilis

From the insightful pen of Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

At the onset of puberty my body underwent the usual changes guys have to live with.
As it happened, my taste in music was also something of a jumble around that same time. There are some artists and groups from those years that I still enjoy today, but at around age 13 I also began a flirtation with what was known as "bubblegum music" in those days. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

In 1965 Ohio teenager Tommy James was asked to come to Pittsburgh to play a gig with his high-school band The Shondells after a Pittsburgh disc jockey had played the group's lone recording (of a song called "Hanky Panky") enough times to make it a regional hit. Trouble was, James's band had broken up when the record didn't succeed originally.

In the true spirit of rock and roll, James accepted the gig anyway and formed a new version of the Shondells. It turned out to be the right decision.

Original 1966 45 rpm single
On July 16, 1966 the group hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart with a re-recorded version of "Hanky Panky," claiming the top spot from The Beatles, no less, and holding it for three straight weeks.

In their career Tommy James and the Shondells charted 19 singles, 14 of which cracked the Top 40 and 5 that reached the Top 10, including their signature song, the multi-million selling smash "Crimson and Clover" in 1968. They are arguably the greatest "bubblegum" group in pop/rock history.

Today's send-off is the re-recorded version of "Hanky Panky," as catchy now as it was 50 years ago. Enjoy...

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