Multimedia with Astronaut

June 12th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Aldrin’s boot print on the moonEdwin Aldrin’s little sister couldn’t say brother. So she called him her buzzer.That boy became Buzz to the world and is famous as the second person to walk on the moon (that’s his boot print on the lunar surface).

Last evening, the 79-year-old did a credible job as narrator in a Boston Pops performance. He spoke a bit about his space experiences and then spoke scripted introductions to four Gustav Holst movements of The Planets.

It was the Pops at their poppiest. They ended with Stars and Stripes Forever even.  Somehow the link between Sousa and celestial bodies eludes me — perhaps it was the accompanying video of fireworks in the sky.

The performance made liberal use of drop-down screens. The four movements each got an artsy quasi-documentary silent video by José Francisco Salgado, astronomer at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium.  Given that this was the annual MIT at the Pops night, that layered the evening with a patina of erudition. This was the loud part of a three-day conference on technology, Giant Leaps,  coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing.

Number one son works at an institute at the tool school down the river, as the Harvard types are wont to call MIT.  He provided the tickets for his parents and brother (number three could not be bothered).

So, we had a jolly time at the café-style tables that fill the orchestra nowadays. The waitrons even provided pale blue light sticks to wave in time to the children’s chorus that wrapped the evening with John Lennon’s Imagine.

I had forgotten how the indoors Pops does a good show. It’s rather like some singers and groups I had seen over the years. I think way back to Frank Sinatra, who I saw last in his later, creaky-voiced days, and the Four Seasons. I didn’t buy their music or care to listen to their recordings, but on stage, wow, could they hold an audience, including me.

So it was with Keith Lockhart and his band of merry strummers, pounders and blowers. The program didn’t challenge anyone’s mind or musical sense, but it was flawless and fun.

We were up close in the sixth row. That was perhaps too close, close enough for small distractions.


Funny Trousers


Lockhart is a pretty boy, delicate of hand and seeming without self-esteem problems. It was amusing though to see the back of his overly moussed do and his comical trousers. His hair is thick and tapered in the back, like a truncated mullet. The level cropping of the back drops off a heavy cliff of black hair onto a white neck. It’s like a row cut in a wheat field.His pants though…they were funny and kept catching my eyes. His black (maybe super-dark gray) suit jacket had no vents and was well tailored, so that it rose and collapsed smoothly as he rolled, waved and jerked his arms. He is uncannily fluid in hand, elbow and shoulder movements. His precision and amazing smoothness of movement is gracious and beautiful.

His pants though…they are not tailored. It’s as though he is in denial about how short his legs are. I rather doubt he bought the pants at the last hour and didn’t have time to get them fitted. They were much too long, draping to the bottom of his heels or below in the back and bunched like overly long curtains over his laces and below in the front.

The effect was of an old elephant’s heavily wrinkled legs. Up on his toes and with his arms high, his pants would almost, but not quite, straighten in the back. The bunching migrated upward. Then as he fell down off his toes, the ample black fabric again and suddenly surrounded his calves and ankles in generous folds.

Perhaps if the music had been more demanding, I would have gotten swept up by it. But, hey, it’s the Pops.

For his part, Dr. Aldrin, we all agreed, looked just like an aging astronaut should. He was trim and well dressed in a (well tailored) dinner jacket and patent leather shoes. He sported his Medal of Freedom around his neck. He spoke with eloquence and certainty. When the music took over, he sat motionless, except for the well timed taping of his right foot.

Yet, clicking around to refresh myself on his nickname’s origin, I was mildly dismayed to find that he bought some of his appearance. He is famous, and it would seem, a bit vain. All over the net are mentions of how he had a face lift two years ago. He told Howard Stern that he was keeping up with his latest mate, whom he called a trophy wife even though they are the same age. He also has said that the G forces over the years made his jaws sag.

Regardless, he could do whatever made him feel good. He looked fine and fit and a little younger than 79.

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