All posts by kelticwolf2013

Eric Gilmartin has written for print and broadcast media, including an original dramatic series for radio, based upon his first book. His new dog doesn't care about any of this - nor should she, unless he writes something edible. (-:

THIS STORY SAYS “BOO!”

Jack-o-lantern
Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Halloween“Hallowed E’en” (Evening) – is what most people today call the last night of October.  Ancient Celts preferred their own word for it: Samhain, from their god of the dead, who drew back the curtain that separated a dead soul from a living world, granting it freedom to move, just for a night – October 31, the last night of their calendar year.   That’s right: what we call Halloween originated as the harrowing, pagan version of New Year’s Eve!

The scary monsters we associate with Halloween aren’t real, in the physical sense, but they strike a chord within us, for what they symbolize:

Vampires, for example, are depicted as sophisticated, cool under pressure, versatile menaces – the “royalty” of movie monsters – but they also epitomize lack of empathy for others, addiction (to blood), and fear of strangers; they reflect back at us our fear of isolation from others. Whether it’s Count Dracula or Edward Cullen, vamps are hardy perennials.

Werewolves, the more primal “country cousins” of the vampire, push this further, exploring a vision of ourselves, stripped of our literal humanity, altered by a full moon’s radiance into bloodthirsty animals of staggering power – our fear of losing our self-control. This may have found their inspiration in the wildness of ancient human totem-warriors – and yes, lycanthropes have their own fans.

Zombies, namely the fast-running version, are all the rage right now. They focus our fear of literal death, physical disintegration, and mindlessness – but they also seem to be the one such monster an ordinary person could defeat, given the weapons and sufficient ruthlessness, so that, I suspect, plays some role in their popularity, with literary and cinematic audiences.

Ghosts are about our fear of being forgotten,  regrets, frustrations – the kind that couldn’t end in a person’s bodily demise (talk about frightening, if it were true!).  They may also represent our wish to “liven up” our basic, everyday homes and work places, as well as our yearning to remain in contact with our lost loved ones. It may be that they act as a ‘container’ for our fear of oblivion – an odd thing to say about a disembodied spirit, perhaps.  They all pluck some strings within us, someplace where we still shiver at the thought of facing unknown menaces.

They also provide templates for excellent costumes… Happy Trick or Treat!

Advertisements

A LIKELY STORY (PART I, OF MANY)

American writer Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
American writer Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The two most beautiful words in the English language are “check enclosed.”
Dorothy Parker

As an ink-slinger who has sold words in the past, I know a little about what Ms. Parker is saying here: artistic satisfaction alone does not pay the bills.  I have been away from this blog, focused upon selling what I write elsewhere; please excuse my inattentiveness of late – trying to raise my return on investment is currently proving to be a challenge.  I will expand on this more, as time and energy permit, in future posts.

BILL HICKS: ONE NIGHT ONLY, IN THIS STORY.

American: The Bill Hicks Story
American: The Bill Hicks Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bill Hicks used to joke, in his stand-up comedy act, that persons who worked in marketing (and/or advertising, if I recall) should kill themselves. His next line was even funnier: one of these fictional marketers, seemingly unaffected by this venomous suggestion, reacting with approval, “Say, Bill’s really tapping into that ‘anti-marketing’ demographic.”  He was not aiming his humorous ire at real persons in a nightclub’s audience, but rather, at Wall Street culture’s nonstop blaring on every broadcast channel, its gaudy visuals on almost every printed page.

Hicks was what I like to call a comic pugilist; he brooked no disrespect for his point of view, abrasive and provocative though it was.  He suffered censorship problems, got edited (or just plain dropped) from a few television shows, had to find his success in England after many Stateside career frustrations.  He kept slugging away at his favorite topics – religion, drug use, hypocrisy, war – until his tragic, premature death from cancer, in 1994, when he was just thirty-two.

I wonder what he would make of today’s media-saturated world, in which we swim in e-mail and Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.  Two decades after his time in the spotlight, it seems, everyone is in marketing (and/or advertising), and everyone has a “Brand of one“, and we bloggers are no exception to this. Just yesterday, for example, when I learned that actor Russell Crowe might be developing a Bill Hicks bio-film, I thought, “Say, that’s going to be excellent for his brand,” because hey, it’s 2013, and we think (and say, and write) things like that now.

WRITE THE ENDING OF THE STORY YOURSELF …

Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, u...
Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, um die Pupille herum jedoch ein braun-gelber Ring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s what I often try to do, at least, when I’m not satisfied with the one I’m given.  I don’t rewrite their endings, I just… add onto them, if I find I’m wanting something more.  This is not a special privilege, for us ink-stained wretches alone; you can, and perhaps ought, to do the same: I have found it’s more than just an excellent writing exercise.

Last night, I remembered, a million or so years ago, having wished I could do this with a newspaper cartoon I’d read.  It eventually came as a genuine revelation to me, to work out that it was well within the “unspoken rules” of the writer-reader relationship to ask, “And then what happened?”

I read this cartoon, as I said, that portrayed a middle-aged fellow, working in a service-industry job, who reeled off the educational and other credentials he possessed, to disbelieving customers.  The point of the piece, of course, was to evoke support, even outrage, for this poor, fictional man, who’d had to accept a job that paid him less, in dollars and in dignity, than he had been trained to earn.  At first, of course, I felt sympathy, because I had done the sort of minimum-wage job he was doing; I didn’t like it, either — of course, I didn’t have the graduate degree, and years of white-collar work experience, the character possessed.

Later, after knocking about, trying to gain some wisdom, I grew to feel empathy for him (which, as I understands the terms, is more about identifying with another, not projecting support at him or her), as well as for his current work situation.  I realized that he wasn’t, as my adolescent brain must have envisioned him to be, a victim, after all; his life was still underway.  He was healthy, employed, and certainly, not frozen in place.  Then I remembered that I had the power to imagine what came next.  Maybe, I mused, he grows to like the lower pressure of his service job; maybe, he even likes his coworkers.

Then, one day, a woman who used to date one of his high-tech, white-collar coworkers happens into the place, and she’s pleasantly surprised to find him working there, of all places.  Soon, she’s coming in a couple of times a week, to grab a quick dinner and just maybe, to keep his spirits up… which works only too well, when he decides he’s not getting any younger, and he asks her out.  Her response is “I thought you’d never ask.”  Once they’ve been dating a while, who knows, perhaps he sees no reason to leave the position in such a hurry, after all… or perhaps, at her urging, he starts his own business.  You may be thinking: Pie-in-the-sky thinking, right?  Particularly in this economy?  Sure; this is my ending.  I’m saying you can write your own, too.

Empathy is the thing I’m getting at; it’s the ability to inhabit another person’s predicament.  Philip K. Dick devised a machine that could test for empathy, or the lack thereof, in his brilliant science-fiction novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (though you may know it better under its cinematic title — Blade Runner).   Fiction isn’t the only place that rewards and requires empathy, both for and from the characters; advertising rises or falls on it, if you think about it, because it’s a lot harder to feel much of a desire to buy a product or a service if you feel a distance from the seller.  This is not “dishonest”, by the way; it’s our ability to grasp what others are experiencing, positive as well as negative, that gives us common cause with them.  We want to buy a product, indeed, because we want to feel what the person in the advertisement feels (which is empathic), not something like it (which is sympathetic) — notice the difference?

The man from the cartoon, and the girlfriend I invented for him?  They eventually get married, of course, a little over two years later.  It’s not the story the cartoonist envisioned, of course; it doesn’t pack the punch s/he wanted to throw.  it’s just something I wanted for the man in the cartoon to experience: a bit of success.

  • Empathy (pdinspire.wordpress.com)

THE “NEW 52 PICK-UP” STORY, ISSUE NO. 1 …

Jim Lee and Geoff Johns at the August 31, 2011...
Jim Lee and Geoff Johns at the August 31, 2011 midnight signing for Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 at Midtown Comics Times Square. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I’m a comic-book nerd.  This week marks the second anniversary of the company-wide New 52 reboot of DC Comics, which swept out the stables, so to speak, and began the old characters anew with an edgy, revised history, melding some of their Vertigo and WildStorm narratives to the one depicted in the main “Earth-1” timeline. Justice League, the “flagship” title of this reboot, assembled an all-star team of superheroes – including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and Green Lantern – to thwart an alien invasion. So detailed was this origin story’s “narrative arc” that it required six monthly issues to relate the events of a single, apocalyptic night.

Fifty-one other monthly books immediately debuted; as time went on, some low-selling books were canceled to make room for new ones, totaling 52 titles per “wave”. Marvel Comics, coming off the humongous success of their super-team movie, The Avengers, have employed a similar mechanism, to restart their own line of books, starring Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Hulk, as well as the X-Men.  DC hopes to duplicate that film’s cinematic success, commencing its own blockbusters with this summer’s Man of Steel.

Sequential art, as a dramatic-storytelling tool, dates as far as twenty-five thousand years back in time, to those early cave paintings of “Dappled horses” in Peche Merle, France. Comic-book art, the widespread modern expression of same, isn’t nearly so long in the tooth; the “superhero era” dates back to 1938’s first issue of Action Comics. I suspect the original creators didn’t foresee their titanic creations still selling into the twenty-first century, let alone making hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office! One ironic problem of keeping these caped crime-fighters relevant to audiences is their very longevity as successful franchises, but that’s why you only see one story a month; comic book time is very different from the real kind – Marvel, for example, uses what appears to be a “sliding scale” to stretch their tales over years.

The cool thing about this reboot stuff is the chance to collect some of these books from the very first issue on. An editorial decision to engage in “world-building” (sometimes in a literal sense, given the science-fiction books in these franchises) can help tie in events from one book into those of others, lending them added realism. The drag is that certain books get cancelled just as they’re getting good, while other books, while being less involving to read, persist because of their success in the marketplace, because this is still a business. As a kid, I just liked it when my heroes would mop the floor with the baddies; I still enjoy them, but I also study how these books are written and edited, how “arcs” unfold over many months – all for professional reasons, of course!  It’s light reading, but it’s heavy pop-cultural stuff, and of late, it’s a cash cow for these companies.

To be continued… in next month’s issue!

AUSTIN STORY: THE ELECTRIC VERSION, TAKE ONE…

A lot of people are calling Gary Clark, Jr. the rising star of electric blues music, and the newest future music superstar to come out of Austin, Texas.  If so, and he offers much evidence to support such claims, he joins Stevie Ray Vaughan in the royalty of electric Texas blues, a feat made more poignant by the cruel loss of S.R.V., twenty-three years ago today.

Stevie played in several Dallas-area bands, before he tried his luck down Austin’s way.  I first heard his lacerating lead guitar, lighting up the title track and several others from David Bowie’s “Let Dance” album, while I still lived out in California.  It was not the popular sound in the old neighborhood, but that just intrigued me even more; I hadn’t heard anybody play quite like that before.  It wasn’t until I moved to Austin that I started to grasp why he had left such a mark on the Live Music Capital, as the city is called.

Over and over, I played his albums with Double Trouble, a trio which included bassist Tommy Shannon, drummer Chris Layton and – later – keyboardist Reese Wynans; each time, the group’s style and firepower just floored me.  (Years later, I discovered that Stevie drew from jazz, as well as the blues – legend has it the Thin White Duke first heard Double Trouble perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival; S.R.V.’s appetite for different styles, I think, explains not only his technical sophistication, but the fluid and complex way he drew out notes, or rode them to someplace unexpected.)  Stevie had recorded an album with his previous band, the Nightcrawlers, but the record label in question declined to release that music for many years; Mr. Vaughan was ahead of his time, which is not surprising.

Turning down a chance to be his benefactor’s “hired hand” on a tour, Stevie stuck to his guns, recording “Texas Flood” for release in 1983.  More albums followed: “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” in 1985, “Soul to Soul” and “Live Alive” a year later, and “In Step” in 1989.  Addiction problems followed, and relationship problems — the usual bugaboos, it often seems, of creative spirits.  Like so many before him, I suppose Stevie had to live the blues, too, with as much authenticity as that with which he played them.  As I understand it, he moved home to Dallas, cleaned up, got a new girlfriend, and made a blues album (“Family Style”) with Jimmie, but then, as they say, Fate intervened.

Joe Louis Walker and Stevie Ray Vaughan relaxi...
Joe Louis Walker and Stevie Ray Vaughan relaxing at home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following an extended blues jam, at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre, located in East Troy, Wisconsin, with Eric Clapton, Albert Collins, Albert King and Buddy Guy — the kind of show the ancient Greek gods must have heard, up on Mount Olympus — it seems Stevie Ray wanted to arrive early in Chicago, so he could phone up his new girlfriend.  So he decided to hop aboard a night-flying helicopter – and … well, instead, arrived in rock and roll heaven, or blues heaven, just thirty-five years young.

Austin, of course, continued to bustle and expand, becoming renowned for its cultural and other attractions; it went from being a “well-kept secret”, in S.R.V.’s lifetime, to an ever-expanding “hot spot” – perhaps the fastest-growing city in Texas.  For many who wish to “Keep Austin Weird”, not commercialized, this is a drawback.  Few outside of town realize that giants walked the streets there, lugging their instruments and their aspirations to Clifford Antone‘s famed nightclub, and similar venues, in years past.

THIS STORY IS (NOT REALLY) QUITE “SINISTER”

I won’t say I’ve had it rough, but I belong to an enigmatic minority group.  Many think we’re absentminded, clumsy, lack certain job skills, are more prone to illness and injury, and won’t live as long as members of the majority will (or can) do.  Some of the more charming words wielded against us include the Greek Skaios, which means “ill-omened”; the French gauche, “awkward”; even the Gaelic Ciotóg, which means “the strange one” (shame on my ancestors for that one, I guess).  When I was just a small fry, I learned that names can’t hurt me – which is good, because I also learned that I am left-handed, and that, I couldn’t change.

I’m exaggerating about the ’embattled’ part, sure; this does not rise to the level of ethnic or gender struggles.  In fact, this seems to be a good time to be a southpaw; I trust my brother Chris, also a lefty, would agree.

The bias against left-handedness isn’t as intense now as it was in, for instance, ancient Roman times, when a southpaw was “sinister” while a right-hander was a “dexter“.  Today, you might say a smooth or skillful act was “dexterous”, but a foiled effort was “maladroit”, i.e. bad-right, and where else would your “bad” right be, if not to the left of your “good” one?

It’s tough to be a southpaw at first, even in a forgiving atmosphere, discovering how much of the world is engineered to make dexters happy.  Keys for doors and car engines are designed for right-hand use, which means a lefty has to get better at right-handed manipulation, which is a good thing.  Writing by hand, of course, can be just ridiculous – on right-handed desks, in particular, it’s a fine way to get ink on oneself and, even worse, get a sore neck from having to turn sideways.  Scissors, saws and many other hand tools, automated teller machines, and loads of other things are not built to appeal to our “niche market”, but we’re nothing if not stubborn, and willing to learn.

The bright side of being a southpaw, of course, is the company one keeps.  Something about being perceived and treated as kooky outsiders seems to bring out the best in left-handed folks.  We may never hear of a brilliant left-handed saxophone player, given the current lack of left-handed saxophones, but I bet you’ve enjoyed the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Maurice Ravel, Erroll Garner, Ornette Coleman, Bob Dylan, Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, Iggy Pop, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, and Kurt Cobain. Southpaw artists:

Henry Ford
Henry Ford (Photo credit: Christopher Marks)

Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Albrecht Dürer, and M. C. Escher. Lewis Carroll was left-handed; so was Mark Twain.  Ramses II, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Charlemagne and Lord Horatio Nelson (who had to switch over from the right hand he lost) were world-shaking lefty warriors; southpaw Mohandas Gandhi shook the world, too, but for peace.

Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of gravity and motion must have sprung from his over-active right-brain, which of course governs left-sided functioning.  Left-handed entrepreneurs include Henry Ford, who mass-produced cars, and Bill Gates, who did likewise for computers.  “Gentleman” Jim Corbett and Oscar de la Hoya left their mark in professional boxing; lefties Ben Hogan and Phil Mickelson are two of my dad’s golf icons; Babe Ruth, Casey Stengel and Reggie Jackson are famous baseball players.  The movies made lefties Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Harpo Marx, Robert Redford, Dick Van Dyke, Carol Burnett, Robert De Niro, and Whoopi Goldberg famous.  Left-handed U.S. Presidents include not only Barack Obama, but James A. Garfield, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (if memory serves), George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton as well.

Being a southpaw would seem to be, to say the least, a surmountable obstacle.  So: even though it’s taken up my entire evening to write this, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy International LeftHanders Day… yes, even if you’re right-handed!

A “HOWLING GOOD” STORY

I was intrigued by gray wolves as a kid; I saw them as mysterious and powerful, but not violent, the way popular media and myths have portrayed them.  In high school I put together a science fiction adventure story involving a Wolf Pack of reluctant space warriors; I’ve since written about those characters, drawn from the circle of my closest friends at that time, in several media.  My initial interest in gray wolves was about finding a cool name for my ‘team’, an adolescent’s concern – but as I grew, I wanted to learn more about the real-life animals.

There are ‘cat people’, and there are ‘dog people’; many names, including mine, appear on both membership lists.  There are also ‘wolf people’, who I’d guess are much less common – just as wolves are becoming, thanks to the recent, questionable move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species list. This should prove popular with ranchers and hunters, perhaps, but here’s the savage irony, no pun intended:

Gray wolf. Français : Loup. Nederlands: Wolf T...
Gray wolf. Français : Loup. Nederlands: Wolf Türkçe: Kurt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

it is because Canis lupus has enjoyed federal protection from culling until now that it has recovered some of its lost numbers.  In other words, the very ban on killing gray wolves that has kept humans from wiping them out has now been cited to justify threatening them anew with extinction.

That would be a tremendous loss to the Earth’s natural environment, because wolves do a lot to rein in their prey animals, who might otherwise tip over the scales.  “No wolves, no water” is a phrase I’ve read, i.e. their predatory activities perform a grisly public service, keeping prey animals from draining rivers and streams.

So yes, indeed, these untamed gray wolves are a needed part of our heritage.  We ought to look after them, before the only “wolves” we have left in nature are my fictional space heroes.  I do not want it to come to that!

‘TIS A PALE STORY, AND GREEN!

English: engraving of 'Emigrants leaving Ireland'
English: engraving of ‘Emigrants leaving Ireland’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it was early yet in my grade-school days when someone in the family, I suspect one of my parents, divulged to me that we were Irish.  Well, okay, better make that: IrishAmerican.  I “got” that it was supposed to be a good thing to be, and I thought I knew what being American meant from saluting the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but the Irish bit didn’t ring my bells just yet.  I could read a map and spin a globe, though, so… yup, found it: Ireland was a tiny isle west of Great Britain – the “Emerald Isle”, which even I knew meant it was… green.

Seemed to me, at that tender age, like a strange thing to care about, especially since we had never been there, so far as I knew – of course, I could have slept through a visit, but if that happened, then I would have seen piles of photos of the place.  (I thought we were Vikings, because “Eric the Red” was a Viking… well, more on that later.)  I knew my parents had vacationed in Bermuda, but that wasn’t the same, and besides, I hadn’t gone with them.

Comes middle school; I’m, like most teens, trying to work out my part in the bigger play, living in California, where an “indoor complexion” (eventually, I did learn to call it a “moon-burn”) seemed like a character flaw to the sun worshipers in my student community, but some people don’t tan, we burn, because we’re so “fair”, which for me meant pale.  (I once looked like a surfer kid, with vanilla hair and copper skin, but that came from having been out in the  summer heat in Texas, when I was 9, 10 at most.)

High school, and I’m keen on it, at last, to a degree that amuses my friends, even now.  Some of my friends proclaimed themselves Scottish and/or Welsh and/or English, and I was the Irish one, even though we lived beside the Pacific Ocean, not the North Atlantic.  These are sub-sets, because we were considered various flavors of Celts, who – it works out – sprang from Spain, and then intermingled with Normans, whose ancestors in France and elsewhere were… Vikings – I was partly right!

University life in Texas, and I’m reading a pile of library books, from the Irish section, one summer: the mythological stories of Cú Chulainn and Finn mac Cool, histories of multiple invasions, poems by William Butler Yeats, short stories by James Joyce.  I had wanted to visit England for a million years (okay, that’s a slight exaggeration), so I figured it out that I should, if presented with the opportunity to do so, fit a side trip to the Auld Sod, too.  A coach (bus) and a ferry boat later, I watched Dublin harbor swallow us whole, and it… floored me, just how moving and emotional the experience was.  It all happened on the twenty-ninth of July, thus my posting this today.

We ran around, ate and drank, gave money to street musicians, the full-on tourist thing, but I think I felt “there” more than my non-Celtic schoolmates did.  (I had also met an Irish girl at my university in London… but ’tis a story for another time.)  In one pub I thanked the bar staff for the “Foreign Visitors Welcome” sign, only to be told by one friendly guy: “Yanks aren’t foreign to us.”  I don’t know if he was speaking for all of Ireland, or just that particular establishment, but given that something like 100 million people have emigrated from Ireland to the United States (and Britain, and Canada, and Australia, and South Africa, and what do you know, Bermuda), I just thanked him again, as a “local” for that night, and ordered another pint.

APOLLO XI: THE “STORY” HAS LANDED

Forty-four years ago today, Neil Armstrong did what so many of us have done: he burned up much of his ride’s fuel, looking for a better place to park.  What makes his experience of this stand out, of course, is that he had a T.V. audience of millions – which makes sense, as he was “parking” a Lunar Excursion Module on the Earth’s Moon, for the first time in history.

Armstrong chanced a “hard landing” – a crash – in order to land someplace without so many boulders; a wise precaution, but I’d expect it made for an adventurous descent.  As Michael Collins circled overhead in the command/service modules (nicknamed “Columbia”, after the moon-ship in the 1865 Jules Verne novel, From the Earth to the Moon), Armstrong and lunar-module pilot Edwin Aldrin touched down on another world in their patriotic-nicknamed LEM, “Eagle”, undertaking the biggest little walk two guys had ever taken. They ascended to rejoin Collins, and, less than twenty-four hours after having landed, they were Earth-bound once again, splashing down on July 24.

The Apollo 11 Prime Crew - GPN-2000-001164
The Apollo 11 Prime Crew – GPN-2000-001164 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Apollo XI “Eagle” had not even landed, before some conspiracy theories dismissed the whole enterprise as… a staged hoax.  One legend I enjoy: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration hires Stanley Kubrick, having completed a little film entitled 2001: A Space Odyssey, to simulate the first two manned landings on the Moon… never mind how very different his film’s depiction of lunar terrain looked from news footage.

Six more of NASA’s Apollo missions, between 1969 and 1972, attempted to land men on the Moon; all of them reached the Moon (only Apollo XIII, thwarted by its oxygen-tank eruption, failed to visit the lunar surface).  Evidence of these adventures remains up there to this day: the flags, the LEM lower stages, abandoned effects of the pilots, and so on.  What amazes me is how so many people find all of this material unconvincing.

My mom credits anti-scientific bias for this; I think she’s got a point.  Forget the massive propaganda victory a “faked” American landing would have handed the Soviet Union; it seems like sour grapes to deny humanity this great achievement. It’s an odd thing to believe this didn’t happen, despite all the much evidence we have amassed to verify it, and what’s worse, some people seem to need for this to be a hoax.  This flight of fancy (perhaps fueled by Watergate-era cynicism) is misplaced. Neil, Mike and “Buzz” flew to the Moon; in doing so, they changed this world.