Shaken, Not Stirred: The last man on the moon.

January 17, 2017

Shaken, Not Stirred: The last man on the moon.

#Shaken, Not Stirred.

A blog by Jim Bond, special posting.

There was a comedian in the early 1960s named Bill Dana. He made ‘party records’ which were popular at the time. He also made many TV and nightclub appearances as a character named Jose Jimenez, the first astronaut to be launched into outer space. The accent was heavy and inaccurate but his shtick was wildly popular. Certainly in bad taste in today’s society, but very funny at the time. It involved fake ‘interviews’.

Newsman: “Is this a crash helmet?”

Jimenez: “Oh, I hope not.”

Newsman: “Well Mr. Jimenez, I think you’re certainly to be congratulated for this very, very dangerous undertaking.

Jimenez: “Don’t say undertaking.”

Gene Cernan died yesterday. His footprints are the freshest on the moon, since his third space flight was the last manned mission to that satellite. Despite being the last manned mission, there were a lot of firsts: it was the first nighttime launch, the largest sampling of ‘moon rock’, longest time in orbit, among other things.

There’s no reason to list his impressive career, there’s plenty of material you can access.

As an independent contractor for an audiobook company, I was given the opportunity to serve as director for Gene as he narrated his book, The Last Man On The Moon, 1999. Get the book, either printed or the audio version, it’s a fascinating read.

My flight to Houston was booked, hotel reservations were made and my research commenced.

I hadn’t been to Houston to visit for a number of years, so I noticed many changes and huge expansion. But there’s a tradition that remains, especially on a street called Westheimer which boasts an extensive variety of fine restaurants, offering any cuisine you desire. Gene and I hit a couple during our time together.

But ‘The Booth’ was why I was there. Understand that there are generally three people involved: narrator, director, and engineer. You may think that sitting in a chair reading for several hours during the business day is an easy job. Grab your favorite book, go in a closet and read aloud. You’ll change your mind. You’ve no idea the exhaustive mental and physical concentration involved.

Stomach noises, sniffing, throat gurgles, misreads, incorrect pronunciations, squeaky chairs. The possibilities of problems are endless, even for professional narrators and actors. It’s rare that authors make good narrators of their own material. Gene was that rarity.

Being an ex Navy officer, he had an erect bearing, and a certain reserve personally. But he was warm and engaging, interested and interesting. He was conversant on many topics.

He was vocal in his frustration that the lunar program was scuttled. He really didn’t want to be ‘the last man on the moon’.

Gene also had a great sense of humor. Apropos of the opening of this story, I asked him if he was ever nervous that technology would fail; the old ‘I’m sitting on top of a rocket built by the lowest bidder’.

He indicated that he wasn’t at the time. But he did mention that a Yugo had more computer power than the rocket which propelled him to the moon.

We’ve lost another hero.

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