Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

2013: A Space Odyssey...

08/16/2013 6:47 AM

08/15/2013 7:27 PM

One of my enduring childhood memories of the 1960s, along with being called "Jackie Gleason" all the time by extremely clever neighbor children, is the U.S. space program. Sometimes, when I am alone, I will watch tapes of past launches, just to relive some of the great moments of NASA, or just to hear some unbridled enthusiasm about something that doesn't seem rigged or indecent.

I know. I kill at cocktail party chatter.

Ask me to do my dramatic recreation of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, complete with squelch noises. You think I'm kidding.

"Forty feet, down two and a half. Kicking up some dust ( SHHHICK --that's the cool squelch noise part!)."

Maybe this is why the neighbor kids kept bugging me.

In any event , this week there were a few interesting space notes.

--100,000 people volunteered to go on a one-way mission to Mars as colonists.

--The U.S. Navy began training water-based recovery operations for the Orion program, which is a similar system to the Apollo "stack" vehicle.

--A crew training on Maui for four months in a geodesic dome mock space station ended their mission.

--I watched the movie "Europa Report," which kept me awake for 72 straight hours thinking about their portrayal of an glowing blue octopus living under the ice caps of Jupiter's moon, Europa, and whether it could get me.

Now, why anyone would volunteer for what appears to be a rather fanciful private mission to Mars where, um, the environment seems rather unforgiving is beyond me. Perhaps this is the Dungeons and Dragons crowd just killing time filling out an online form, like making a Match.com profile while terribly drunk. But the notion that there is a large group of people willing to trust some private outfit to send them to Mars, and where there would be no Dairy Queens, Starbucks, or oxygen, really eludes me. 

Of course, after experiencing logging some seriously unpleasant Earth time myself, I sometimes wonder if maybe it would be better on Mars, particularly if they didn't have Comcast.

The Navy, which hasn't pulled a capsule out of the water since 1972, has a little better grasp of space reality. Of course, I noted with some trepidation that there was no training for the possible encounter with a Glowing Blue Jupiter Ice Octopus. They should really work on that, because that thing is really scary.

On Maui, there were these dudes living on a volcanic flow, pretending it's Mars as an experiment. They only went outside in space suits, and they eat a lot of Nutrela, I think it was, which is a kind of strange tofu blob/pellet. They should have learned how eat some nice Glowing Blue Jupiter Ice Octopus, because apparently it's very common in space. Try it lightly breaded with lemon.

So, from Mission Control, that's the report from space this week. 

I have to wrap this post up. My Glowing Blue Jupiter Ice Octopus is whipping up some Nutrela for dinner.


About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.


Join the Discussion

The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service