Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Latest Buzz


Our man Aldrin has already danced with the moon, why not the stars??

While enjoying the stair-master at the gym this morning (the closest I will probably ever get to dancing), I saw on HLN that Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, first PhD in space and second man on the moon in 1969, will be a participant on season 10 of Dancing With The Stars.

Rushed out to vote, then rushed home to Google, and found many mentions across the web of the new dancing line-up. Two articles mentioned that Buzz will be the oldest contestant ever on the series at age 80. I see no reason why this should be a problem – he's still spryer than chaps half his age, and astronauts are notorious for staying healthy and active.

Astronaut Edwin Aldrin
I've heard casual chit-chat about this show before, but have never seen an episode -- not precisely my cup of Darjeeling. However, I might impose on a relative to TiVo this for me as long as Buzz competes! Other contestants on the list are… Shannen Doherty? Really? Some producer is still willing to employ her? That might be harder to stomach. Also: Pam Anderson, skater Evan Lysacek, NFLer Ochocinco... and then a pack of collagen-injected hollywoodies I didn't recognize.

There always appear to be strong opinions about whether our space heroes should be "stars" in the glitzy, over-developed American sense of the word. Astronauts themselves have an internal cultural habit of looking down their noses at the idea, and stop just short of shunning those who court obvious upsides to fame. I’ve never understood this mentality.

While it’s clear to everyone by now that Neil Armstrong prefers to sit at home watching television while Buzz Aldrin likes to be ON it, I’ve always felt this should be left up to the preferences and natural personality of the space-faring crews once their jobs are done.

Buzz and Lois Aldrin
Buzz with wife Lois

If there were more astronauts on TV, I sure wouldn't have canceled my cable package years ago out of boredom and disgust. Why glorify actors? Last I checked, they weren’t racking up college degrees, spending years in grueling training, or risking their very lives for the advancement of human knowledge. They merely stand in front of cameras to play pretend for a living, and yet they are far more recognizable when walking down the street than anyone on a current Shuttle crew.

It shouldn’t be that way. It should be precisely the opposite. So here’s to you, Buzz… for being brave enough to dance before the nation. It’s a great opportunity for parents everywhere to tell their children who you are, what you accomplished, and what our space program could still do if it had the support it deserves! Shine that limelight, I say. Get the kids interested again. It maybe the only way we get anywhere now.

Quick mention: William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy both turn 80 in time for the 2011 season. Can they play next? =)