When I was a small little tyke, my mother said something to me that I have never forgotten.
I was about four or five, as I recall. Life was excellent. It mostly revolved around sitting on a beach in Bermuda after school. The British school I attended was very hard. I loved it. In the summer there was enough time to hurry home and maybe get in a little snorkeling or a hot dog before I headed up the hill for home. Sitting next to my younger brother Steve, my snorkeling wingman (truth be told, I was his snorkeling wingman ‘ he went through the water like a torpedo and still does), surrounded by hot beach chickies ‘ well, life was good.
One night, around this time, we were at a dinner party at the hotel my father managed. Afterward, in the Bermuda Room at the Carlton Beach, several of the gathered luminaries were smoking cigarettes (this was about 1965) in their white Dinner Jackets and talking politics. I sat there in my little blazer with my bow tie and short pants.
One of the guests, an imposing, kind of pushy fellah smoking a cigar that smelled like a dead rat, said: ‘Hell, we’ll be on the moon in five years! By the time Billy’s old enough he’ll be leading the expedition to Alpha Centauri!’
Without thinking, I snorted rudely, and said: ‘Unlikely, sir. There’s no foreseeable drive configuration with great enough specific impulse to provide the necessary delta-vee; except just possibly some form of thermonuclear propulsion, and we lack the political will and social capital to invest long term in that arena’ And then I turned away and went back to my Shirley Temple.
(Ever had a Shirley Temple, by the way? Ginger Ale, and thick slick of enough red grenadine to put the Exxon Valdez to shame, run aground on the shoals of seven or eight maraschino cherries and served with an adult-type swizzle stick. Enough sugar to nearly crystallize, and good-old-fashioned imagination fuel for certain types of active boys. Awesome. )
Anyway, my mother grabbed me by the arm, pulled me away from the surprised table, muttered an apology, and said under her breath very, very emphatically :
‘Billy, I’ve told you: if you can’t say anything of deep and meaningful scientific or political import that is not supported by fact, reason, historical precedent and in-depth step-by-step logical analysis then don’t say anything at all!‘
This advice I took to heart. Which is why I post so infrequently.
The fact is, the longer I am away, the more important I feel the next piece needs to be. Which keeps me away longer, which raises the bar further, which leaves me like Jimmy Stewart spinning into the Vertigo spiral, arms flailing, mouth open in a silent scream. Et cetera.
So I am making one New Year resolution only, and that is this: to try, on an experimental basis, to post something ‘ even stupid things like this ‘ at least a few times a week. The big uber-essays will still be there, but instead of a blank page in the interim, I’m going to make a determined effort to write a lot more frequently. You know those little mini-Snickers? A handful of those in between Turkey dinners. That’s the plan.
As I mentioned before, I sometimes feel I might as well rename this The Apology Blog. But since we’re pals I can tell you what’s been holding me up.
I work as a video editor on a weekly show. We just finished our 50th episode. Steady work in the entertainment field is like a well-informed celebrity: refreshing, impressive and rare.
About ten weeks ago, we sold the show to the international market, which means that 26 episodes had to be recut, from scratch, in about 13 weeks. That means I have to do one regular new show each week, plus two recuts in the same week. Which means nights, weekends, Thanksgiving morning, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, most of yesterday, this morning (New Year’s Day) and now, after a brief nap, back again tonight for at least four hours.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s the best job I have ever had (other than Author ‘ thanks to you all), and I make some extra money doing it, but it is taking a lot of my time. It should be finished by mid- to late-January. I should be able to find the time to scratch together SANCTUARY well before then.
In the meantime, I’ll give you a little thumbnail update of my recent flight across this entire country of ours in a small airplane, aided by an excellent flight crew:
That’s our own Great Hairy Silverback and Dana in Vero Beach the morning we set out. Steve is writing a small novel recording the entire journey, which was not short on adventure. I won’t go into too much detail here. But’
Here’s Dana getting ready to launch on Sunday morning. Beautiful, smart, sweet, a great pilot and, she does windows. Tough not to like!
I’m looking snarky next to the Jetson’s car that’s going to take us from the Atlantic to the Pacific. That’s what we did, too: climbed out over the Sebastian, FL inlet, turned over the East Coast, and headed west to Dallas and a great night at Kim and Connie Du Toits, where we feasted on bottlenose dolphin fillets, Giant Panda steaks, and some delicious roast California Condor. Good eating! Met many great people there too.
Here’s the view over west Texas at 10,500 ft. Not too shabby at all, although there is a lot of west Texas. Not as much as there is by car, but a lot.
Stopped the second night in Prescott, Az with some of Steve’s relatives. That’s a great city, and a great little airport, although pretty cold the following morning.
Only 90 minutes later, we were on the ground in Torrance, to show off the rocket ship at the flight school where Dana and I both train. Then we took her out over the Pacific, along the Palos Verdes peninsula. What an amazing trip.
Anyway, here’s GHS at the end of the last night, looking justifiably proud.
And here’s Yours Truly just before we walked away. Happy camper. About as happy as that kid sitting on the beach eating a hot dog.
So much of this I owe to all of you. Thank you.
Anyway, a detailed trip review by GHS is coming in a day or so, followed by 3 new essays as soon as I have time to breathe.
BTW, did I say Happy New Year, yet? No?
Well, Happy New Year to all you fine people. I have great hopes for all of us. I believe in my heart we have turned a corner, and while we are not yet out of the woods, the light definitely seems to grow brighter through the leaves.