How times change … there once was a fictional TV show called "Lost In Space" … now there's going to be a real-life "Seat In Space" …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When Red heard that "mere mortals" (translation in this case meaning non-astronauts) were going to be launched into space, all she could think of was how that sounded both scary and exciting, whereas Black, unsurprisingly, had much more pragmatic thoughts.
When Red learned that it would be Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, she admits that she first rolled her eyes thinking that it seems money really can buy you anything, although she questioned why he'd potentially put his life at risk for such a daring adventure. But Black explained to her that Blue Origin, the company behind it all, had been created by him not only as a childhood dream and passion project, but to solve what he sees as a social problem.
But when Red saw the video of Bezos and his brother, Mark, and, as someone extremely close to her sister, in addition to being a business partner with her, she was touched by Jeff's comment,
Ever since I was five years old, I've dreamed of traveling to space. On July 20th, I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.
Unliked Red, Black has been fascinated by space exploration efforts for years (Red's love of movies, including ones related to space travel, don't count), but from the business side more so than the science. So, she has followed the billionaire space tycoons, starting with Richard Branson and his company, Virgin Galactic, then Elon Musk and SpaceX, and now Jeff Bezos. And, although Black isn't the lover of history that Red is, she appreciates the significance of the carefully selected vehicle name and associated dates,
This mission is historic in terms of space tourism but also honors traditional space exploration. The auction was announced on May 5, the day that Alan Shepard made history in 1961 by becoming the first American to fly in space, and the launch vehicle is named the "New Shephard." It will be launched on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of astronauts Neil Armstong and Edwin "Buzz" becoming the first humans to land on the moon.
But when Bezos announced that he was auctioning off a seat on Blue Origin's first crewed flight, Black wondered whether the proceeds would be applied to the cost of the flight. So, she was impressed to learn the money would be donated to Blue Origin's foundation, Club for the Future, to support educational efforts to promote science and technology among young people and help invent the future of life in space. Although she couldn't help but wonder,
So, will the day come when Amazon Prime is making space deliveries?
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”
To quote the lyrics from "West Side Story," “Could be … who knows …”
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red, the theater major and lover of Broadway musicals, has loved "West Side Story" for as long as she can remember, so imagine her surprise when Black, usually only interested in the business aspects of the entertainment world, shared a “new” fact (at least, new to Red) about one of the most popular musicals ever produced.
For Red, "West Side Story" comes close to being a perfect musical (as a theater major, she doesn’t think there’s such a thing as a “perfect” musical), combining a brilliant musical score and incredibly poignant and powerful lyrics with groundbreaking choreography. And although she didn’t see it on Broadway, the original movie and the recent remake had iconic cinematography and extraordinary performances. Especially by Rita Moreno, who appeared in both movies and was an executive producer on the remake.
But like most people, Red never thought much about the backstory, as she always accepted that it was a modern day “Romeo and Juliet” about forbidden love based on people’s backgrounds, made more extreme by constant feuding between the sides, resulting in violence and death. With the final heartbreaking scene being a painful realization that it took death to find a way to reconcile their differences.
Black believes we can look at today’s newspapers (or even history books) and easily recast the story, which is exactly what happened,
Originally, the characters were envisioned as a Jewish girl and an Italian Catholic boy, with the story taking place in the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the Easter-Passover season. But when the Chicano American street riots in Los Angeles became headline news, it changed everything, and turned the storyline into a classic that has stood the test of time.
Although this was the first Red had heard of the original storyline, it made her smile as it brought back a recent memory,
When I first saw that clever and captivating “West Side Story Chanukah” video, I was amused. But now it makes me wonder … were the creators intentionally coming full circle?
When the road to the highest court in the land is littered with the lowest levels of behavior and respect …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: The first black woman to be nominated as a Supreme Court justice is historic and should symbolize what America stands for, but watching the interviewing process concerns both of us, albeit for very different reasons.
As a lover of history, Red can’t help but focus on the past, when the U.S. Senate would put aside partisanship thoughts, look at the candidate’s experience, qualifications, and integrity, remembering that justices sit at the top of an independent branch of government. They voted on the person, not the party. (For example, out of 100 available votes, Antonin Scalia was confirmed in 1986 with 98, Anthony Kennedy in 1988 with 97, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1993 with 96.)
It distresses her that the Republican members of the committee, instead of focusing on whether Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson (KBJ) is qualified, seem more interested in trying to trip her up, using what Red see as “cheap tricks” (such as selectively discussing parts of a court case rather than providing the full context), all to make “points” for their side. Not to mention ignoring basic standards of decency, civility, and old-fashioned good manners. Things she instilled in her kids when they were still children,
I never thought I’d equate anything to do with the Supreme Court to being a mom, but if you wouldn’t let your five-year-old get away with that kind of behavior, should we let senators vetting a Supreme Court justice nominee act that way?!
Black, on the other hand, recognizes that mathematically KBJ has the appointment unless a Democrat votes “No” (which is highly unlikely). So, instead of grandstanding with an aggressively hostile (borderline toxic) partisan focus on mid-term election culture-war issues (not to mention “payback” for prior Republican nominee hearings and the blatant “I may run for higher office” campaign “speeches”), this was a wasted opportunity for a “reset” as the Senate could have created a historic bipartisan moment -- having a highly-qualified nominee become the first Black woman appointed to the highest court in the land.
And while Black believes that KBJ’s professional credentials, combined with her experience, which is different from the other justices, would bring a new and highly valuable perspective and insight to the Supreme Court (although it wouldn’t “overrule” the current dominance of conservative ideology), she also knows the value of the “soft skills” KBJ’s developed to deal with the challenges she’s faced her entire life,
Watching KBJ refusing to be drawn into a political fight and facing the harassment (from, dare I say it, white men) with poise and dignity made perfect sense because, as a Black woman, she has had to deal with that type of **it her entire life.