Saturday, February 14, 2015

Alan Bean Plus Four

"Alan Bean Plus Four" was the fiction piece in the New Yorker I started reading while waiting in the doctor's office. The receptionist called my name - it was my turn, but I didn't want to stop reading.

After my appointment, I sat down again in the waiting room and finished the story. What a surprise when I checked out the author and found his name was Tom Hanks. A coincidence I thought, but no - it turned out to be THE Tom Hanks. 

From the online New Yorker interview with Tom about the story: 
"Alan Bean was the fourth person to walk on the moon, as part of the Apollo 12 mission. Do you think that he’s been neglected in the annals of astronaut history? Is this story an attempt to redress that?
I think Alan Bean should be a household name, along with Jack Schmitt, Dave Scott, John Young—all of the dozen guys who walked on the moon. They aren’t—ah, well. Alan is probably the only example of a guy who was really changed by his trip to the moon. He’d been a military guy, a jet pilot, an astronaut, he was on Skylab, etc. Then he came back and took up painting, something he hadn’t done prior to that. Now he’s a full-time artist.
Among NASA folk, Al Bean is a legend. But what he (and the others) did deserves more attention—more fanfare, perhaps—than he/they have received. So says me, anyway."
Al Bean
Here's a link to Al Bean's website Al Bean where you can enjoy his paintings. Each painting has a story by Al which explains what was happening in the scene he painted and also the larger context of the event. I spent an hour wandering through the site. 
Original with moondust on aircraft plywood. $368,000.00
Back to Tom Hanks...not only does he write well but he offers this nifty app for your iPad or iPhone, Hanx Writer. It's fun.
Here's a quote from the New Yorker review of the app:
But, more than anything, the Hanx Writer is about making noise. The glorious simplicity of the app is that it sounds like what it does; it achieves the audio equivalent of skeuomorphism, the design principle of recreating the familiar materials and visual cues of old objects. Here at The New Yorker, several of our staffers remember the days of the “typing pool,” where manuscripts and other documents were typed for further processing into magazine pieces. (It’s whereNancy Franklin got her start.) One editor recalls that you could tell whether your neighbor was being productive that day just by the typewriter sounds coming out of his office (thus pressuring you to get down to work). As an easily distracted reader, I, for one, am relieved to have missed what Hanks calls the “focus-stealing racket,” but only because, in these days of of razor-thin Mac keyboards, the office is eerily quiet.

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