Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Oh, the Totality!

I just tried to look it up, but, at a quick glance (one not clouded by eclipse glasses), I couldn’t quite figure out what the eclipse action was when I was growing up. There were a few eclipses (total and annular) in the 1950’s and 1960’s that were visible in the United States. No word on Massachusetts.

I don’t remember any big deal around preparing for or viewing an eclipse. June 30, 1954. September 1, 1958. I would have been playing outside. October 2, 1959 I would have been in school. July 20, 1963 was a Sunday. I would have been lolling around after lunch, probably watching a Red Sox game with my father, who would likely have been planning to take the family out for an evening spin and ice cream.

If these eclipse events were happening over Worcester, Massachusetts, we were surely told something. My sister Kathleen and eye have the same recall of eclipse warning: if you look at the sun, your eyeballs will turn to egg whites. Boiled egg whites.

We knew what that would look like. After all, what child of boomer-dom didn’t know how to create a cool special effect by erasing the eyeballs on the face of someone on a magazine cover. My parents didn’t exactly approve of this. I remember receiving a light reprimand for erasing the eyes of President Eisenhower from the cover of 20170821_142412Newsweek.With apologies to Sekazi K. Mtingwa, whose picture was the first one I came across while flipping through an old copy of MIT Technology Review looking for someone’s eyes to erase, this is what the special effect looked like. Who needed Photoshop when you could use an eraser on a glossy picture? It was kinder gentler time…

There were a few American eclipses in the 1970’s-1980’s. They must have passed me by. There were a few in the 1990’s, too, and one of those I do recall. It may have been the May 10, 1994 one. I remember that the office emptied out at some point in the afternoon, and we stood out there in front of our building watching and waiting. I think we had pieces of cardboard with pinholes in them. Or something. I remember the atmosphere as being sort of brownish and eerie. No one’s eyes turned to egg whites. Fortunately.

My sister Kathleen actually participated in a totality event. She and her husband have a friend who’s an eclipse aficionado,and they traveled to Guadalupe for one of the 1990’s show of shows to view one with the friend and his wife. So Kath has got the been there, done that checked off for having witnessed a total eclipse of the sun. (I forgot to ask here whether Bob had headed out to Madras, Oregon, or Carbondale, Illinois – both of which were going to experience the totality - for yesterday’s edition.) Kath and Rick were staying put. No egg white eyeballs for them, thank you.

Me, I never got around to going to the library to pick up a pair of eclipse glasses. I was too lazy to make a viewing apparatus out of a shoe box and a piece of white paper. Too lazy to do something with my colander. I think I read that you could do some viewing by doing a waffle weave with your fingers, but I wasn’t willing to chance it. So I made sure I was in the house by 12:29 p.m. when the partial eclipse hit Boston.

I made my lunch, took it into the den (where the blinds were shut), and watched the eclipse travel across the United States on MSBNC.

One of the reporters, in Madras, Oregon, said that being there, with all the campers who’d traveled to get a glimpse of the totality, was like being at Coachella for nerds. Carbondale, Illinois, looked like Coachella for nerds, too. Only with a bunch of pompom waving Southern Illinois University cheerleaders.

With all that’s been going on, it was a good break to have the eclipse to focus on – something that everyone could enjoy, even if they spent the totality of the full or partial eclipse in their town watching the eclipse transit the country on TV. At the peak eclipse in Boston, when 2/3’s of the sun was blotted out by the moon, I nipped into the kitchen to check. It was a bit overcast, but the atmosphere did seem to have the same brownish hue I remember from 20+ years back. I didn’t look directly at anything, so my eyeballs will not be turning to egg whites.

Meanwhile, in addition to the eclipse offering us a respite from the prevailing ugliness and unpleasantness, it also provided an excellent opportunity to listen to Bonnie Tyler.

Here’s a link to the You Tube of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” This may not be the absolute worst music video ever made, but it’s definitely a contender. So if you’ve still got your eclipse glasses, I suggest you put them on while listening to this one.

Better yet, just go listen to Bonnie’s best tune evah, It’s a Heartache. (No weirdball video, either.)

Hope you enjoyed the eclipse. And hope you remembered to avert your eyes. No one wants egg white eyeballs, that’s for sure.

No comments: