Earth To America, Space To Earth

Aiming to prove that laughter is the best medicine–even for what’s ailing the planet–Earth to America! is a two-hour comedy event featuring America’s funniest superstars.

Talent includes Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Robin Williams, Cedric the Entertainer, Ray Romano, Ben Stiller, Al Franken, Christopher Guest, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Nealon, Wanda Sykes, Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the cast of “Avenue Q”.

It appears the entire show is available online via AOL — I’ve watched a few acts already and will probably finish it over the holiday. Warning: these are all large files, as a whole they’re over a gigabyte.

Especially striking was a segment from Act 2 with about three and a half minutes left on the video, featuring Leonardo di Caprio, an actor I can’t place, and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell [image 1, image 2]. Quoted from this:

American Astronaut Al Warden had this to say when he got to the moon: ‘Now I know why I’m here, not for a closer look at the moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth.’

In another corner of the world, Astronaut Fan Twan from Viatnam had a similar experience. ‘During the eight days I spent in space, I realized that mankind needs height. Primarily to better know our long suffering Earth — to see what cannot be seen closeup. Not just to love her dearly, but also to ensure that we do not bring the slightest harm to the natural world.’

I’ve recently become very interested in lunar astronauts, specifically the effect such a journey had on the rest of their lives. I can’t honestly imagine any problem I consider myself having that would persist, much less have any significance whatsoever, from the perspective of outer space looking back at Earth. The idea of this is groundbreaking in terms of where we stand as a race of people, how we treat our planet, and what kind of future we are making for ourselves.

Journalist Clive Thompson wrote this about Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, in his review of Andrew Smith’s recent book, Moondust, a book that follows the lives of Apollo spacemen after their return home:

Alan Bean rode the Apollo 12 mission all the way to the moon, and on the way back he made a promise to himself: “I’m going to live my life the way I want to.” So he resigned from NASA, holed up in a tiny condo and became an oil painter. In the decades since, the only thing he has ever painted has been scenes from his celestial journey: the hyperreal sheen of sunlight on a space helmet, the lunar orbiter slicing through the void. Physically, Bean was back on earth — but some part of him clearly never came home.

Update: OK, Earth to America was kind of lame — not all of it, but a lot. Bill Maher and Will Ferrell, however, were great. I’ve never been a big fan of Bill Maher, but maybe it’s just from underexposure:

I read that the earth used to have 19% oxygen in it’s atmosphere, and now it has 9%. Now, I know that’s not a fact you’ll find in the Bible — and, I know it’s not something we should really care about like activist judges or boys kissing — but maybe it matters a little?! It could effect Tom and Katie.

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