Tag Archives: space

I’d move to Mars

If they ever figure out how to viably populate some sort of a permanent settlement on Mars, I’d totally go. “Pack you bags,” I’d give my wife an ultimatum. “It’s either you come with me to Mars, or we’ll have to say goodbye forever.” And of course she’d say yes, because who wouldn’t want to live on another planet?


And I’m not talking about one of these one-way ticket deals where you have to go and set up your own space colony. No, I want the space colony to be already somewhat established. You know, drinking water, some sort of indoor plumbing situation, obviously food is going to be probably limited, but I’d still prefer a decent enough selection so as to have some variety in my diet. Oh yeah, and there has to be Internet. And I’m not talking just like a Mars Internet. It has to be able to connect to the Earth Internet.

Given all of these modest requirements are met, I’d absolutely go live on Mars. Would I ever be able to come back to Earth for a visit? Well, I’d like the option, but I guess it’s not mandatory. Just like maybe once every three or four years, how about I get to spend a month back home? Are there going to be regular transport ships back and forth? Maybe just some vacation time would be cool.

So I’m in. That would be so awesome. I’m so sick of looking outside and constantly seeing everything in blue and green. I for one would welcome the opportunity to feast my eyes on a landscape of red, orange and brown.

Oh yeah, I don’t know what the Mars colony policy might be regarding flora and fauna, but my dog Steve has to be allowed to come with us. That’s a non-negotiable. Obviously I’ll ask him if he wants to come. I mean, I believe that animals have a right to do whatever they want. But my dog is pretty easy to manipulate. For example, I’ve always had a feeling that if I left the door open, he’d just run away. But I buy these huge meaty dog biscuits at Petco, and any time he tries to escape, I hold one of them out, and he always comes running back. So I don’t think it’ll be too difficult convincing him to come to Mars.

Think of how much more space I’ll have on Mars. In the early stages of colonization anyway, there should be plenty of available land. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to be governor of my own Martian territory. And hundreds of years from now, when schoolchildren are learning about the early history of Mars, they won’t have to look back and worry about all of those dirty historical details that we’re confronted with every time we look at our own founding fathers. There aren’t any Indians to massacre, and I promise not to use slave labor to build my otherworldly utopia. On the off chance that I do happen to run into any sort of subterranean extraterrestrial civilization, I promise to be really cool. And if my earthly bacteria accidentally give the aliens a space plague, I pledge to do everything in my power to urge scientists both on Mars and back home to pour all of their resources into finding a cure.

I really want to go live on Mars. So I hope that we see some wild advances in space exploration within the next ten years or so. Because I’m not getting any younger. If developing a working cryogenics program to keep me in stasis until Mars is up and running, I’m OK with that, whatever gets me to Mars.

Our spaceship has a Jesus fish bumper sticker

When the presence of a flourishing, alien civilization was detected via that new high tech orbital satellite, the Christian Brothers United Church knew that they had to bring the word of God to their extraterrestrial brothers and sisters, or, if they had some sort of a different biological gender categorization, that’s fine, they’d work out the terminology later.


And since nobody knows how to raise money like a Bible-belt mega church, it didn’t take long to fund one of those private space shuttle firms to build a rocket capable of transporting them across the galaxy. The demand of willing and able space-missionaries far exceeded the supply, and so church leaders spent months evaluating potential candidates, ultimately selecting a team of twelve of the most devout Christian men and women, ready to be the first human beings to share the Good News beyond the planet Earth.

At least, that’s what they thought. No sooner had they landed on planet Taphregamragon Seven (that was what the aliens named it, not us) did they realize that maybe Jesus had already been here. There were giant crosses on top of all of the biggest buildings, and even though they hadn’t yet had an opportunity to learn the aliens’ language or alphabet, the roadside billboards were almost identical to the ones on Earth telling people to tune into AM Christian radio stations.

And sure enough, as soon as they set up their universal translation systems, all the aliens wanted to talk about was Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. The missionaries were being out-missionaried by the very people they came to missionary. To make matters worse, apparently Jesus had been to Taphregamragon Seven very recently. He told all of the aliens about how quite possibly the worst planet that he tried to save was Earth. It was all in the Taphregamragonian Bible. From the Book of Snalphlaxyngians, Chapter 3, Verse 12:

“And the Lord Jesus said, Seriously, those Earthlings were such assholes. You have no idea. I tried everything. I was peaceful. I was nice. I brought one of my friend’s brothers-in-law back from the dead. And they crucified me. Whatever, I have to love them, I mean, I’m Jesus, but I don’t have to like them, because they sucked.”

And it went on and on like that, book after book. The missionaries were hesitant at first, but after a while they had no choice but to submit to the overwhelming evidence. They’d had it wrong all along. Luckily, the aliens really did embrace the peaceful and loving message of alien Jesus, and so they didn’t try to exact revenge or anything.

Instead, they sent the missionaries back to Earth, with a new mission, to spread the real Good News back to Earth, to show humanity how the Lord’s message had been mangled and misconstrued. Enlightened, the Christonauts returned to their spaceship’s hibernation cells and prepared for the long journey back to our solar system.

Only, in a weird twist of fate, while the missionaries were headed back to Earth, Jesus tried once again to bring his message to mankind. He thought, maybe they’ve evolved. Maybe they’ve learned something in the two thousand years since he was put to death in ancient Rome. Maybe all of those Star Trek episodes about peace and tolerance from the 1960s had some sort of a lasting effect on their culture.

And so next generation Jesus grew up on modern Earth and, when he came of age, he tried to make a name for himself as a twenty-first century spiritual leader. Only, now everybody had the Internet and cell phones, and so every time Jesus tried to say something, everybody just made fun of him online. Someone even took a cell phone video of Jesus getting his hoodie caught in the subway door in New York, and everyone laughed as they watched this animated gif of him getting pulled down the platform, almost but not quite getting his sweatshirt over his head before the train sped out of the station, pulling him all the way from Steinway St. to 36th Ave. in Queens. By the time the paramedics arrived, he was barely alive, with just enough breath in his lungs to say, “Screw you guys, for real, what a bunch of jerks,” before flatlining in the back of the ambulance while it was stuck in traffic on the Grand Central Parkway on the way to Flushing Hospital.

When the space missionaries finally came back to Earth, they were ridiculed for trying to spread the message of a Jesus who, unbeknownst to them, had already come back for a second time, but one who couldn’t get through to our technology obsessed Internet addicted society. The people of Earth thought it was all a joke. They thought that the missionaries were a joke, that new Jesus was a joke, that the alien world was nothing but a stupid, stupid joke.

And so they sent a bunch of warships to conquer the planet. And they did it. The aliens were too peaceful, so they hardly offered up any fight. The whole planet had a ton of resources, and we brought them all back to Earth, where everybody who financed the pillaging got super rich. They were already rich before, but now they were even richer, just permanently consolidating all of their power. And that’s it. That’s the end.

The end.

It would have been nice to see the blood moon

I wanted to see that lunar eclipse a few weeks ago, but it was really cloudy and you couldn’t see the sky. I wanted to check out that meteor shower last night, I read about it during the day, but I’m only thinking of it now, and so I forgot about it, I never set an alarm, I didn’t make a note to look outside. Not that you can really see any space stuff here in the city. Still, it’s nice to go outside and try, like I did with that lunar eclipse, before the clouds rolled in, you could see the start of the beginnings of a shadow start to creep across the lunar surface. When I first looked up, I swear, it looked like there was a huge chunk missing. But my awe turned to disappointment when I realized that it was already a little cloudy, and that’s what I was looking at, a celestial fake-out, a tiny circular cloud floating for just a few seconds in the moon’s way.


I’m always looking for shooting stars, when I go upstate on vacation, I’m always instantly mesmerized by that view of the heavens that you’d never even imagine is there, hiding just behind the glare of the city night sky. I wonder if you live up there, do you take it for granted? Do you even bother looking up at all? Because after a minute or so my eyes adjust and my brain starts to look for stuff that isn’t there. I see all of these phantom spots and movements out of the corners of my eye, my neck starts to hurt from craning all the way up. One time I tried to lay out on the grass so I could just take in the majestic view of the cosmos, but all of these little gnats and bugs started landing on my face, buzzing just around my ears, I was inside after like a minute or two.

I think I saw a shooting star, once. I had just turned my attention upwards and, there it was, no question about it, directly in my line of sight, if that wasn’t a shooting star, then I don’t know if anything could really be a shooting star. And what got me the most was how fast it happened. It was the most fleeting of moments I’d ever experienced in my life. Like, when I was a little kid and I went camping with my cousins and we’d all stare at the stars, I used to think they were just teasing me, “Look! I saw one!” trying to make me feel left out. But yeah, it’s totally something that, if you’re not looking right at it, it’s gone, like if you happen to be blinking, that’s more than enough time for you to miss out on the action.

One time I saw a satellite, I think. It was definitely slow moving, and streaking across the sky in a straight enough line that, if it wasn’t a satellite, well, I’m pretty sure it had to have been a satellite. But this was kind of the flip-side of the night-sky coin, like it was almost too slow. I’m always looking for that perfect moment, my eyes landing on something happening out there, wherever, outer space, and this satellite is kind of just like, way too easy. There’s a brief moment of wonder, like I found something worth looking at. But after thirty seconds, after a minute, my brain started to make sense of everything, it’s a satellite, a piece of equipment that we shot up into the sky, and it’s catching the sun’s reflection. It doesn’t really pack that same sense of wonder.

I really wanted to see the stars from the city when the entire Northeast suffered a blackout during the summer of 2003. But I was somewhere in between Georgia and South Carolina at the time, behind the wheel, making the trip back to New York from Florida. I heard all about it on the radio, how everyone was gathered outside to catch this once in a lifetime crystal clear picture of the Milky Way, right from the middle of the city. As we sped north on I-95, I just kept thinking to myself, come on, just a little longer, just don’t fix the blackout for one more night, please.

But as we crossed into Delaware, pushing north to New Jersey, I noticed that all of the toll machines were working fine, that there weren’t any signs of traffic jams. And as the streetlights flickered on as the sun set, I stared up at the muted orange twilight and knew that I’d missed it, that maybe if I were lucky I’d be able to see the North Star tonight, maybe the moon, even on the clearest of nights, all you ever get up here is one star, maybe just like two or three stars in the entire night sky.

At least it’s warm in here

I’m looking at the life support stats and I can still hear the computer’s voice in my head, even though I disabled it hours ago, it’s right there in red text and my mind automatically fills in the blanks, that gender-neutral voice, the matter-of-fact way in which it would be reading aloud to me, “Oxygen levels, twelve percent. Situation critical. Return to base immediately.” As if I needed a reminder.


It’s one of these situations I’ve only read about in cheap sci-fi, but I can’t even panic anymore. That’s it. I’m like two days from the nearest base, no other craft nearby. I don’t know what to do. I got out the spacesuit, I hooked up the suit’s oxygen to the ship’s air supply. And what did that give me, twenty extra minutes?

I mean, I guess I could hold out hope that the monitor is malfunctioning, that maybe there’s more air in here than the ship’s capable of reading. But I don’t think so, and yeah, I went through emergency protocol, right, I did every step, right? Is there something I’m missing? Because I don’t think so. I think … I turned the oxygen down, OK. That bought me an hour and a half, but I’m definitely feeling it, a little light-headed.

What else? I did the spacesuit, right? Maybe it’s better if I just crank it back up again, I mean, what’s the ideal situation? Would I rather have three and a half hours of regular oxygen levels or six and three quarters hours of what it’s currently set to right now? Either way, I’m dead. And six and three quarters hours, it’s like, I don’t have a headache right now, but I’ll definitely have a headache in an hour or two. I don’t think I want to go out with a headache.

Maybe if I could get it to five hours. I won’t have to start really freaking out for another three. Shit, this is bad. I’m still trying to piece together what happened, autopilot was on, right, it must have been a really, perfectly timed piece of debris or asteroid or whatever. And why didn’t the computer seal the leak right away? I don’t know. I have no idea if there’s any justifying this.

And I sent out the distress, right, but that doesn’t matter, they’re not going to get it until it’s too late. OK, I’ve got to stop freaking out here, I’ll have plenty of time to freak out when there’s no time left. What can I do for five hours? I’m not going to watch a movie. I guess I could watch a movie. Do I really want to zone out though? My last moments of existence? What should I be doing?

Do I want to like reflect on life? I don’t know. I don’t want to get myself bummed out here. You know it’s like whenever this stuff happens in a movie, there’s always one obvious solution that’s never obvious until right when it looks like there’s nothing that’s left to do but give up and die. But this is worse, man, it’s like I almost wish that I could give up here, but I’m still stuck on that idea, like if I just keep looking through this emergency manual, something’s going to pop out at me.

I don’t think it’s going to happen. I wish once in my life I had made an effort to pay attention to one of those artsy movies where nothing winds up working out in the end. But no, just blockbusters for me, and now I can’t turn it off, that never say die voice in my head, always banking on that happy ending. It’s crazy, man, it’s like when I found my old lock from high school, I was positive if I stared at it long enough, the combination would come back to me, and I’d start in with some random numbers, but nothing. Whatever was in there, that’s gone.

I’m fucking dead. I wish I could override the computer and just get it over with, because I don’t know, I’m trying to stay calm here but I can’t do it, I wish it were at least cold in here or something, but it’s just the oxygen that got hit, not the heat, not whatever it is that powers this stupid monitor in front of me. I don’t want to keep staring ahead at the oxygen levels, it’s going down in real time before my eyes, but it’s so slow, I’m conscious of every second and … did I mention how I can’t get the computer’s voice out of my head? And it won’t let me just cut the air, I’ll black out, I can’t believe there’s nothing stronger in this med-kit than ibuprofen and, fuck, am I getting a headache? Or is this just a freak-out headache? Maybe I’ll just pump it up, all the oxygen, whatever, an hour and a half, I’ll put on a movie, I won’t ever have to worry about how it ends, just get me nice and oxygened up here, endings are the worst part anyway, at least I’ll be comfortable, at least it’s warm in here.

Bill, I had a space dream, and you were in it

Dear Bill Simmons:

I had this dream last week where NASA offered you the chance to hop on a rocket ship and captain a deep space mission. “Bill,” they said, “We want you to spread sports across the cosmos. Get out there, find some alien life, and teach them all about basketball and football and hockey. Show them about sportsmanship and being a team player and the importance of picking a good mascot to represent their species. If there’s anybody that can not only show the aliens what Earth sports are all about, but can also get them actually interested, it’s you.”


And you were like, “I’ll do it.” And everyone smiled, but you continued, “On one condition. I pick the crew.” And they were a little skeptical, I mean, what do you really know about staffing a spaceship? But eventually they realized that it was the only way they’d get you on board, and so they agreed, “All right Bill, we hope you know what you’re doing.”

You did know what you were doing. You picked me to join you as your first officer. I was sitting here on my computer, dicking around, killing some time before I had to go to work, when I got this call on my cell phone from an unknown number. It was you.

“Hey Rob, Bill Simmons here. I’ve been reading your letters to me every week on your web site asking me for a job. Well, here it is, your lucky day!” And at first I was really excited, like, yes, finally, I’m going to get to work at Grantland, me, a full-time writer at one of the best sports and pop culture web sites on the Internet. My imagination went crazy, I started picturing what kind of posters I’d use to decorate my office, or how I’d casually drop by your office around three-thirty to ask if you wanted anything while I went out to Starbucks.

It was a shock when you told me it wasn’t exactly the offer that I’d been dreaming about, but of course I still accepted without hesitation. Because seriously Bill, I’d do anything to work with you. I’d leave all of my family and friends here on Earth as we set out on a one-way trip to explore the galaxy. That’s the kind of dedication I’d bring to your team, in both my fantasy dream world and in real life.

Yeah, the dream kind of went in a weird direction after I said yes to the mission. Like most dreams go, there were huge gaps in the narrative, weird tangential events that didn’t really make much sense in terms of context or continuity. For example, all of the sudden we were both deep in space, and you told me that the months of isolation were starting to get to you, that routine spaceship maintenance work wasn’t as satisfying as you thought it might be.

But I was like, “Bill, why didn’t you say something earlier? I brought a chess set. We could learn to play, together.” And yeah, you lit up at the idea of a new hobby, something to really challenge your atrophying mental faculties. But we discovered pretty quickly that playing chess in zero-g isn’t really possible pastime. Maybe if I had thought it out a little better, like if I brought some Velcro, something to keep the pieces from flying off the board. But no, I didn’t have anything, and so we both gave up after a few minutes of futilely trying just to keep everything still on the constantly floating surface.

And then pretty soon after that, we weren’t in space anymore, we were at a McDonald’s. It didn’t make sense at all, but neither of us questioned our new surroundings. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, you didn’t even remember being in space at all. And when I was like, “Bill, don’t you remember? The spaceship? The chess set?” you were like, “My name’s not Bill, it’s Fred. And can you hurry up a little with my order?”

It was then that I looked down, and I was actually behind the counter, I was wearing a McDonald’s uniform, and my name tag didn’t say “Rob,” it said, “Jean.” Which, yeah, that doesn’t really make much sense. The rest of the dream went on for like another minute or so, in dream minutes anyway, who knows how long it was in real life. Everything got fuzzier and fuzzier until I woke up, it was ten-thirty, I was late for work. But I still thought, I’ve got to write this down. I’ve got to tell Bill.

And now that I’ve written it all out, I’m actually kind of sorry, because for real, I know how boring dream stories are. Whenever anybody starts telling me, “Rob, listen to this dream I had …” I automatically shut down, because regardless of how interesting the dream may have been in the dream, it’s never even remotely worth retelling once you wake up. And so I don’t know why I thought this one was going to be different, because it wasn’t, and again, I apologize.

All I can say is, when you hire me to work at Grantland, I’ll never talk about my dreams. Unless you order me to. Then I’ll do it. I’ll do whatever you say. That’s the kind of employee I am. Unless you order me to stop following your orders, because I’m not that clever, I won’t really know how to respond to one of those logical paradoxes.

Anyway, I hope you have a great weekend. And I hope that whichever team you predicted to win the Super Bowl wins. And I’ll tell everybody, “See? It’s just like Bill Simmons said would happen. That guy is the best.” Me? I predicted the Giants would win, way back when they were 0 – 6. Things were looking pretty good for a while, until Dallas scored that field goal. I hate the Cowboys.

Your friend,

Rob G.