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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How the Earth Must Look to God

Earthrise. Dec. 24, 1948
Forty-five years ago, on Christmas Eve, television viewers on earth were watching their small screens to catch the broadcast from Apollo 8 orbiting the moon.

Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders were preparing a radio and TV broadcast to earth on that holy night. One of every five inhabitants of the earth would see or hear the words of that historic event in real time.

            But there was a bonus. Almost by accident the astronauts had caught sight of  a small blue ball partially shrouded by wispy white clouds, at the edge of the lunar surface. Planet Earth was rising in the blackness. They quickly took images that became known as "Earthrise."
That broadcast scene, in the words of one viewer,
 "must be how earth must look to God."

Lovell spoke to the people of earth.  "The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth."

They ended the broadcast with the crew taking turns reading from the book of Genesis.

"And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

December 7, 1941

In my novel TOO MUCH LEFT UNSAID Kathy and Josh had met at Kathy's church in Chicago only a few weeks before their first date on Saturday, December 6, 1941. Josh was in the Navy and had a weekend leave. After spending a lovely day together, they agreed to spend Sunday together as well.  Then:
They did meet in church that Sunday morning, December 7. Kathy agreed to spend the rest of the day together, riding the “el” to Oak Park, strolling the neighborhood where Frank Lloyd Wright homes were plentiful. As the train reached Oak Park Avenue people were rushing in all directions, some running, some crying, some lining up to use the pay phones, many shouting. Newsboys were yelling "The Japs have attacked Pearl Harbor." "U.S. surprised. Many killed in Hawaii."
            Josh stopped in his tracks, grabbing Kathy's arm.“NO! I was at Pearl. Some of my buddies are still stationed there. I can picture the place." He grabbed for a copy of the Tribune and shook as he scanned the news. “Kathy, I need to get back to the naval station to see if there's anything I ought to be doing now.”
            He wheeled her around and they ran for the train headed downtown. On the trip back Josh's mind jumped from present to past to future.
            "Now you must marry me! Right now before I'm sent overseas,” Josh declared as they parted downtown.
War was about to change life for Kathy and Josh and many, many others. Do you remember it? Do you have stories to share about it?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Legacy of Light--A Review of the Play

On November 22, I went to see Karen Zacarias's play LEGACY OF LIGHT directed by Ann Wilkinson at Central College.  This extraordinary script of "magical realism" combines historical and fictional characters. On a single stage, with a minimum of furniture moved flawlessly about by silent crewmembers, a 1749 French drawing room is transformed to a modern New Jersey apartment, a family home on the brink of foreclosure, a lecture hall, and a heavenly setting of the afterworld. It is all done so seamlessly that the audience is caught up in the spell.

The two major actors, Jacob Anderson and Emma Simmons, portray writer and philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) and Emilie du Chatelet, Voltaire's mistress and intellectual partner. Costumed in 18th century splendor, they bring the audience into the past and present with grace. Emilie is a mathematician, physicist, and author during an age when women were not permitted to follow such pursuits. Pregnant at age forty-two, she accepts that her death will likely come in childbirth. She works to finish her translations and prepare her young daughter for a life without a mother.

The other actors each play two different roles, one from the 18th century story, and one from the present day. Dionne Riley plays Olivia, a twenty-first century astronomer who with her husband Peter (Griffin Hammel) wants to start a family despite being a barren cancer survivor. They hire Millie (Brandie Heims) to be the surrogate mother of the baby they desire. Millie's brother Lewis (Clifton Antoine) does not want her to do this, but they are in debt and need the money.

Babies are born. Emilie survives childbirth only to die within a few days from infection. Yet she is present in today's world to allay the fears of the modern family.

The playwright, the director, and the excellent cast and crew made this play going experience extraordinary. A treatise on light and love, Emilie's lesson for us all is most appropriate.

  “Everything changes, but nothing is lost- ever.”

Congratulations to Theater Central for an unforgettable evening.