New Zealand’s comedy festival is pretty good. Many great comedians from around the world take the opportunity to take a paid holiday to one of the globe’s more remote locations.
Actually, that’s not always true, some of them live here, in this very country. Not that anyone who has seen Flight Of The Conchords will be surprised by this.
One such comedian is Guy Capper, a man who came on stage a couple of weeks ago and was brilliant. He spent a little time trying to lose the audience as much as possible then talked to animated space pets (which he himself animated), then tried to lose the audience some more, then space petted it up some more. This cycle continued for an hour and I left a happy man.
I was so happy that I decided to try to send a message to Mr Capper, telling him how great I thought he was. For some unknown reason I chose to do this in a message attached to a friend request on Facebook. I didn’t expect to have the request accepted, even by a man with 800 friends. But he did accept it!
Social media is a wonderful thang.
T’other night I was sat at my PC and suddenly thought “Shiiiiiit! Have I missed the space shuttle taking off, again!”
A quick flurry of typing and the NASA website said “No Jon, there’s still a couple of hours til Blast Off!” or words to that effect.
So I stayed up late, watching the live feed on the web, sometimes wondering whether it was just a still shot of the shuttle on the pad, then a bird would fly by. It’s been a long time since I stayed up late (the shuttle took off at nearly 1am New Zealand Time, and I call it late – I am saddened by my own words) to watch a space event, about 25 years in fact.
Ah, the 80s, my space age – space things used to get a reasonable amount of coverage in those days, partly helped by the fact that the cold war was still in action and we were all convinced that WW III would take place at some point in the future and reduce us all to ash or mutants. My mom would often count her blessings that we lived so close to a rich target of oil refineries and steel mills – at least it’ll be quick, was her not so encouraging philosophy. I expect the personal pension market has grown enormously since the fall of the USSR. The space race was, of course, the civil side of the arms race, America’s way of telling everyone that it couldn’t figure out any more ways to spend money on military projects.
I like space technology a lot, but I do wonder what would have happened if bouncy castles had been the chosen technology for showing off national pride and prowess.
Against this backdrop though there were times of international cooperation, such as the fleet of probes that intercepted Halley’s Comet. King amongst these was the utterly insane Giotto, a barrel of thing that was sent to actually photograph the comet’s nucleus at close range. Crazy fool.
Me and my dad stayed up late that night in March 1986, when I was but 10 and he a fighting fit 50. Patrick Moore was our MC and he talked us through all kinds of stuff that I don’t remember – I might well have been playing with Lego at the same time, which has the power to block out the world. I have odd snapshot memories of men talking in a studio and the big question was “will it survive?”
I think we saw a picture (maybe several), taken by the probe, on TV that night but we definitely had a picture in the newspaper the next day. It was very strange, all a bit abstract, with bands of bright, bright colour it looked like much of the graphic design of the era, not the living mass of a comet. Regardless, I cut the picture out and kept it, in fact it’s probably still in a box at my mom’s house somewhere.
Now I’m wondering what space event I’ll be staying up late to watch in 25 years time… the first man on Mars perhaps? I don’t think that’s too much to ask, but at the rate things are going it’s more likely to be “The first man in space for 10 years.”
A couple of years ago I was walking into Wellington’s fair town at dusk. I was on my way to purchase pizza from a place called Pomodoro. Overhead I heard a screech, and when I looked up I saw a silhouette against the faint lit sky, of what I thought was two parrots. Why not, just over the hill from my house is Karori sanctuary, I’d been there and they had Kakas, a native NZ parrot. And birds fly, that’s what they do, so popping over a hill wouldn’t be too much trouble for them.
In some quarters the verdict that was returned could politely be described as poppycock.
Time marched on. Then we started to notice them feeding at some of the other houses in our immediate vicinity. After weeks of hope and luring we finally got a visit, which was lucky because we had a load of pears we’d gotten in a fruit and veg box, and we were doing a bad job of eating them. Since then the parrots have been around and about quite a lot, but their visits to our place specifically are sporadic at best. Then last week my better half fed some parrot visitors some almonds. That certainly brought them back the next day, whereupon I took far too many pictures.
Oh yeah, one thing about Kakas – they never turn up when the light’s good, at least not at our place.