Fallen Astronaut

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There’s only one piece of art on the moon: Fallen Astronaut, an 8.5-cm aluminum sculpture of an astronaut in a spacesuit. It’s meant to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who died furthering space exploration … but it’s also a testament to the almost limitless patience of its creator.

Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck agreed to the project after meeting astronaut David Scott at a dinner party. Making art for the moon is pretty demanding in itself — it has to be lightweight, sturdy, and tolerant of temperature extremes. But NASA also said the figure couldn’t be identifiably male or female, nor of any identifiable ethnic group. On top of that, because Scott wanted to avoid the commercialization of space, they didn’t want to make Van Hoeydonck’s name public.

The artist agreed to all this, and in 1971 Apollo 15 put Fallen Astronaut on the moon, along with a plaque listing 14 fallen space explorers. Van Hoeydonck even agreed to create a replica for the National Air and Space Museum “with good taste and without publicity.”

But he finally balked when Scott tried to talk him out of selling 950 signed replicas for $750 apiece at New York’s Waddell Gallery in 1972. A guy’s got to make a living.

Coincidence?

ELEVEN PLUS TWO is an anagram of TWELVE PLUS ONE.

Jack Lalanne

Six appalling facts about fitness expert Jack Lalanne:

  1. At age 40, he did 100 handstand push-ups in under six minutes and 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes.
  2. In the same year he swam between Alcatraz Island and Fisherman’s Wharf while handcuffed, and swam underwater the length of the Golden Gate Bridge with air tanks but no fins, towing a 2,000-pound boat. Seriously.
  3. In his sixties, he began to swim with shackles as well as handcuffs. For the bicentennial he towed 13 boats across a Southern California bay, and in the year he qualified for Social Security he towed 6,500 pounds of wood pulp across a Japanese lake.
  4. At age 69, his chest still measured 47 inches, his waist 27 inches.
  5. At 70, he towed 70 boats across Long Beach Harbor.
  6. LaLanne is now 91 years old, but he still gets up at 5:30 every morning to spend two hours working out in the weight room and the pool.

“I can’t afford to die,” he says. “It will ruin my image.”

There She Is

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Miss America by hair color, 1921-2003:

  • Brunettes: 70 percent
  • Blondes: 24 percent
  • Redheads: 6 percent

Too True

Secretary: It must be hard to lose your mother-in-law.

W.C. Fields: Yes, it is, very hard. It’s almost impossible.

Unfortunate URLs

The Internet is a great way to publicize your business, but be careful in choosing a Web address:

Amazingly, all four of these are still using these addresses. Maybe the novelty value brings in some customers.

Waiter!

Celebrities saved by the Heimlich maneuver:

  • Ronald Reagan
  • Ed Koch
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Goldie Hawn
  • Cher
  • Walter Matthau
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Dick Vitale
  • John Chancellor
  • Jack Lemmon

Irish Bulls

Three “Irish bulls” cited in Henry B. Wheatley’s Literary Blunders (1893). “We know what the writer means, although he does not exactly say it”:

  • From the report of an Irish Benevolent Society: “Notwithstanding the large amount paid for medicine and medical attendance, very few deaths occurred during the year.”
  • A country editor’s correspondent wrote: “Will you please to insert this obituary notice? I make bold to ask it, because I know the deceased had a great many friends who would be glad to hear of his death.”
  • Quoted in the Greville Memoirs: “He abjured the errors of the Romish Church, and embraced those of the Protestant.”

“From the errors of others,” wrote Publilius Syrus, “a wise man corrects his own.”

Boom!

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Sonic booms can get on your nerves.

NASA and the FAA learned this the hard way in 1964, when their testing over Oklahoma City caused eight booms per day for six months. It led to 15,000 complaints and a class action lawsuit — which they lost.

The idea seems to have caught Israel’s attention — last October it started using F-16 jet planes to create sonic booms over the Gaza Strip, to bug the Palestinians. Extra points for creativity, I guess.

Unquote

“What luck for rulers that men do not think.” — Adolf Hitler