Texas Book Festival

November 2, 2009 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, ScD '63 (Cour...

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This weekend I went to the Texas Book Festival in downtown Austin. The Shy Guy and I went to a couple lectures. The first was at The Paramount Theater. Buzz Aldrin (as in the guy who walked on the moon – yes) was there to discuss his latest autobiography, and Evan Smith was there to interview him. It was almost as much of a thrill to be at The Paramount and see Evan Smith as it was to see a real live astronaut.

Indeed, when Evan Smith came out, The Shy Guy gasped, “Oh!” I knew he was gasping over Evan Smith, who is the former editor in chief of Texas Monthly and has his own PBS talk show in Texas, where he interviews various Texas related celebrities. He’s like Texas’s own version of Charlie Rose.

The interview went very well. Aldrin talked about his support of space exploration and his view that our country needed to recommit to the importance of space exploration and put the money required into it. He expressed the desire for the United States to send a manned expedition to Mars and his support for privately sponsored space travel. He talked about what it was like to walk on the moon and how it was decided that Neil Armstrong would be the first man to do so. He talked about his experiences with depression and alcoholism. It was very interesting.

Evan Smith talked about the first time he had met Buzz Aldrin. He had been eating at a restaurant in downtown Austin when someone he knew walked up and asked him if he would mind meeting Buzz Aldrin. Mind? Evan talked about being awe struck and not believing that he really was in the presence of the Buzz Aldrin and actually asking Mr. Aldrin for proof of identification (he produced a business card). Interesting to know that even someone who makes his own living in part from interviewing celebrities on television can still get excited over meeting a real live astronaut.

At the end of the talk there was a question and answer portion where the audience got to ask their own questions and Buzz Aldrin answered. When Evan Smith mentioned that the question and answer portion of the presentation was near its end and only two more people would be able to ask questions this meant that one woman on the left side of the theater and one man on the right side of the theater would get to ask his. Except that the dear man on the right side of the theater who had the microphone for the next question went to sit down and left the last question for the tow headed little girl immediately behind him.

The little girl seemed to be maybe all of six or seven. Her older brother had adjusted the microphone for her and placed his arm around her shoulders and whispered in her ear. When it was her turn to ask her question, she seemed nervous, and she said, “Um, hi,” and then told Buzz that she had seen Sally Ride last night, and then asked him what was his favorite thing about walking on the moon. His short answer was, “coming home,” which made everyone laugh. But then he gave her a more complete answer. And the whole act of that middle aged man giving up his space at the microphone for a little wisp of a girl restored my faith in humankind for the rest of the day.

We also went to see a lecture on the most recent failing of the American economy in the House chamber of the Texas Capital building. This was also a great experience and one I intend to write about at greater length sometime soon. Maybe as soon as I get a chance to read the author’s book in full. The book is, “Too Big to Fail,” by Andrew Ross Sorkin. To get the abbreviated version, you can read the latest edition of Vanity  Fair magazine. I read the magazine article but don’t feel sufficiently well briefed on the subject to attempt writing it yet. In a magazine article there are so many principle characters as to become confusing trying to keep them all straight.

After the second lecture we were thirsty and went to get some iced tea and promptly missed the third lecture we had planned to attend. So, then we needed sustenance and decided to head on down Sixth Street to Casino el Camino, where The Shy Guy ordered his famous double bacon cheese hot dog heart attack in a basket, and I ordered a Buffalo Burger (which comes with wing sauce and blue cheese) and we shared an order of chili cheese fries. After the food coma, we decided to take the bus home.

However, then I saw on the marquee of the Dobie that they were showing, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” the latest Michael Moore movie. And while I don’t advocate communism, I wanted to see that movie. As usual, whether you agree with Moore or not (and I didn’t fully agree with him), Michael Moore is entertaining and you do learn something new on the subject that you cannot learn from our mainstream media. After THAT, then we got coffee and went home. All in all, it was a good day. And it gives me lots of fodder for future blog posts.

Entry filed under: Books, Celebrity, Economy, Entertainment, Politics, Writing. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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