Hello, what have we here?
Welcome loyal listeners,
curious content seekers, auditory adventurers, and galaxy defenders to The Flyover Podcast, thank you so much for taking the time to join us for the next hour of conversation, comedy, and music.
This week’s episode, “May the Fourth Be With You,” arrives just in time to celebrate that most gloriously nerdy of fake holidays, May the 4th. May the 4th, May the Force, you get it. Luke Skywalker. Darth Vader. You know, “Star Wars,” the one with the big walking carpet. Two or three good ones, and a bunch of terrible prequels and sequels.
As good as the originals, they are not. Make too many, they have.
But, the reason we love “Star Wars” in spite of its wooden dialogue, terrible acting, and Hayden Christiansen, who embodies both, is because of the bonds we’ve formed with these characters that were created nearly 45 years ago. The energy and emotion we’ve put into the story arcs of Anakin Skywalker, his two children, and the scruffiest looking nerfherder this side of Endor. At its heart, the “Star Wars” saga is a classic tragedy made for the masses, pure popcorn entertainment for the children inside of us all.
When we were kids, it was all about looking up at the stars in the night sky, wondering what else was out there. We dreamed of one day reaching those very stars ourselves. We had the neon, glow-in-the-dark solar systems on our ceilings, sending us to sleep with literal visions of the farthest, unknown reaches of space. We wanted to be like the astronauts we learned about in school, or saw up on the silver screen. Who didn’t want to be Will Smith flying that alien spacecraft in “Independence Day,” or Will Smith busting aliens in New York City in “Men in Black,” or Will Smith in that con artist movie with Margot Robbie. Might not be about space, but, six months on location with Margot Robbie?
From “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951, to Ben Affleck with the animal crackers on Liv Tyler’s stomach in 1998, and dozens since, movies have been the way we Earthlings experience the great beyond.
Space, and the art it inspires, keeps that little kid in all of us endlessly entertained.
That inspiration surrounds us, and penetrates us. You might even say it binds the galaxy together.
(Beastie Boys – Intergalactic)
(The Byrds – Mr. Spaceman)
(Sir Sly – Astronaut)
Welcome to Earth.
There’s a lot of great, quotable lines from science fiction movies about space.
Let’s see, there’s:
Houston, we have a problem.
I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.
And everything Judd Hirsh says in “Independence Day.”
I see your schwartz is as big as mine.
Give dees people aiyahhh!
Let’s play some basketball, uttered by the man who took the Monstars personally, from the magnum opus known as “Space Jam.”
Then there’s that great line in “Men in Black,” when Tommy Lee Jones deadpans to WIll Smith that Elvis isn’t dead, “he just went home.” There are certain musical artists that, when you think of them, you immediately think of space. George Clinton. Rush. St. Vincent, who until her most recent album had made quite a career as some sort of femme-robot-from-outer-space.
Brian May, of Queen, is quite literally a rocket scientist; he actually received his PhD after years of studying reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of said dust in the plane of the Solar System. You know, as you do.
And then, of course, there’s these musicians, who may not have studied astrophysics, but whose sounds definitely come from outer space.
(David Bowie – Starman)
(Daft Punk – Contact)
(Janelle Monae – Many Moons)
On October 4th, 1957, in the heat of the Cold War – a sentence, which, kinda doesn’t make any sense – the world, really the Solar System, changed forever.
It may have only been the size of a beach ball. It may have weighed just 200 pounds. But, Sputnik sent shockwaves around our globe. Had the Soviets launched a spy satellite to watch over its rivals in the United States? What was it capable of? If the Russians could do this, what else could they do?
Of course, Sputnik was just a satellite used by the Soviets to broadcast radio pulses, orbiting the Earth for only three weeks before its battery components failed, causing it to plummet back into the atmosphere. Components. American components. Russian components. All made in Taiwan!
But, Sputnik created a genuine crisis and moment of fear and anxiety in our country. The New York Times would write about Sputnik an average of eleven times per day throughout the month of October. President Eisenhower was forced to address the nation. Eventually, he would help create DARPA, and just a few months later, NASA.
The space race was on.
(The Ventures – Telstar)
(Lou Reed – Satellite of Love)
This is Captain Lansing of the signal corps, attached to the state militia now engaged in military operations in the vicinity of Grovers Mill. Situation arising from the reported presence of certain individuals of unidentified nature is now under complete control. The cylindrical object which lies in a pit directly below our position is surrounded on all sides by eight battalions of infantry. The things, whatever they are, do not even venture to poke their heads above the pit. I can see their hiding place plainly in the glare of the searchlights here. With all their reported resources, these creatures can scarcely stand up against heavy machine gun fire. There appears to be some slight smoke in the woods bordering the Millstone River. Probably fire started by campers. Well, we ought to see some action soon. One of the companies is deploying on the left flank. A quick thrust and it will all be over. Now wait a minute! I see something on top of the cylinder. No, it’s nothing but a shadow. Now the troops are on the edge of the Wilmuth farm. Seven thousand armed men closing in on an old metal tube. Wait, that wasn’t a shadow! It’s something moving. Solid metal, kind of a shield-like affair rising up out of the cylinder. It’s going higher and higher. Why, it’s, it’s standing on legs… actually rearing up on a sort of metal framework. Now it’s reaching above the trees and the searchlights are on it. Hold on!
At 8pm on October 30, 1938, six million people heard this terrifying report from Grovers Mill, New Jersey. Shock and panic, particularly on the east coast, ensued, an estimated 1.8 million of those listeners believing that a real UFO had indeed landed 50 miles south of Manhattan, that the future of the human race was at stake.
Of course, it wasn’t; rather, the broadcast was simply a reenactment of H.G. Wells’ famous “War of the Worlds,” produced as a Halloween gag by the great Orson Welles.
The first segment of the show went uninterrupted for nearly 40 minutes, climaxing as a lone reporter on top of a Manhattan rooftop detailed the horrors of the scene, New Yorkers “dropping like flies” to the Martians’ advanced technology.
Suddenly, the reporter coughed, fell to his knees, and cried out, “Is there anyone out there? Isn’t there…anyone?”
(Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere)
(Sufjan Stevens – Concerning the UFO Sighting…)
(Ella Fitzgerald – Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer)
Did you hear about the moon, Paul?
Since there has been life on this planet, there has been an innate fascination with the moon. It shows up in some of the earliest cave paintings and works of art, and was considered a deity by Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Hindus. Eventually, the tracking of the moon’s cycles would give way to some of our earliest calendars.
The mysterious Man on the Moon was fabled to be the face of Cain, who murdered his brother Abel. And then there’s the myth that the whole thing is made out of cheese! Or is that only on the dark side?
On July 20th, 1969, four years before Pink Floyd would release that classic album, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and the other guy would make an historic leap for mankind, taking a clear, and definitive lead in that aforementioned Space Race with the Soviets.
That evening, Back in the USSR, well, at Abbey Road actually but I needed a good transition, The Beatles were in the studio recording for their very last sessions, recording “Come Together” and “Oh Darling.” I just always liked the idea of them sitting in the studio, taking a break from putting the finishing touches on those two tremendous records:
“Well, y’know, John, I think you’ve really got something there with this one, y’know. ‘Come Together.’ It’s a rocker, y’know, a real rocker.”
- Well, thank you Paul.
“Yea, y’know, John, I like the line about the ‘toe jam football,” y’know.”
- That’s what we used to call Ringo before he joined the band, don’t you remember?
“John, come here to the window. Why is everybody out there standing in front of the telly-vision?”
- Didn’t you hear about the moon, Paul?
“The moon? Well, of course I’ve heard about the moon, John. It’s right there in the sky tonight, y’know. Every night, actually.”
- Did you hear about the spaceman, Paul?
- Yes, Paul. The spaceman.
“I’ve been in here with you bloody tinkering away on these songs, y’know. Just doing a little plunky plunk here on me piano, just doing a little plunker.”
- There’s a spaceman on the moon, Paul. Didn’t you hear about it?
“No, John, I didn’t hear about the moon. Do you think George heard about the moon?”
- George quit the band three hours ago.
“What about Ringo?”
- He’s right there, didn’t you see him?
“Oh, hey Ringo. So there’s a spaceman up there, right now, John?”
- Yes, Paul. Three spacemen.
“Did you ever want to be a spaceman, John?”
- Of course, I used to bother me mum about it all the time. Oh look, there’s George.
“Oh, George, you’re back!”
- Did you hear about the moon, Paul?
We’ll be seein’ ya….
(The Beatles – Come Together)
(Pink Floyd – The Great Gig in the Sky)
The Flyover Podcast is recorded and produced by Kyle Pucciarello in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, please visit www.theflyover.site, @official_flyover on Instagram, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.