Of astronauts and aliens
June 27, 2009 10 Comments
This is the first weekend since I got here where I had nothing that needed doing, so I looked in the local paper to see if there might just possibly be an event going on in Flagstaff that I could attend. I was lucky. There was. It turned out I had 72 choices. So in the end I jammed a trilby on my head and went to the folk festival.
It was fun. At the entrance someone asked if I’d be so kind as to make a $3 voluntary donation for the privilege of parking and attending the festival, and she seemed genuinely pleased when I coughed up the money – Glastonbury-goers eat your hearts out!
To me, folk music means someone with an apparently serious earache singing about something miserable in an unintelligible Geordie accent. But I forgot – this is the Wild West. It was all mandolins and steel guitars, and sad songs about simple folk and their dysfunctional relationships. And there was no bluster or machismo either – everyone was just terribly, terribly nice. I do like this place.
Strange things happen here. At the folk festival a woman came up to me and said “Excuse me, but are you Steve Grand?” In my usual masterful way I managed to splutter “Er, um. Probably. Do I know you?” She said, “No, but I know you very well. I spent all morning editing videotape of you.” That’s a story for another time, but it’s that kind of a place.
Then this evening I headed for a lecture (free this time, none of that exorbitant $3 nonsense for a mere day’s entertainment) about how the Apollo 11 astronauts trained for their moonwalk around here. That’s what people do in Flagstaff: they train for things. Astronauts trained for the Moon; Olympic athletes train to run at high altitude and beat the crap out of me; Geologists train on the volcanoes; astronomers train in the observatory; national park rangers train to range parks… There’s a kind of earnestness about the place that I find very endearing.
The lecture was on the same road I live on, so I figured it wouldn’t take long to get there. Yet again I massively underestimated the scale of this country. And there was a delay due to a herd of elk. So I didn’t make it in time and if you were anxiously waiting to be enlightened on the subject of astronaut training you’ll have to wait a bit longer, sorry. But the sunset over the lake was stunning, so I didn’t mind.
Just in case you get the wrong impression from this giddy social whirl, here’s proof that I’m really just a lonely, sad geek. I’ve rebuilt Grace the Robot and she keeps me company at dinner.
“Male, 51, good listener, no sense of scale, seeks buxom robot for artificially intelligent conversation.”
Anyway, all this is irrelevant gibberish. What I really wanted to talk to you about is my new game. But oh dear, I seem to have run out of space. I was going to tell you about my plans to open a pet shop and sell aliens. Maybe next time…