Monday, November 03, 2014

Reader's Diary #1082- Tom Hanks: Alan Bean Plus Four

A few years back while in New York City, we'd just left Wicked, heading back to Time Square when we happened upon an even bigger crowd than usual. Shoulder to shoulder, people upon shoulders, and there was an excited giddiness in the air. Tom Hanks, we were told, is expected out of that door... any second.

It was so strange. I mean, I'd have thought New York, and Broadway no less, would be used to celebrities by now. More interested in the crowd than Mr. Hanks, we stuck around. Eventually he appeared and walked about 6 feet to his limo. From the one or two glimpses I could get, I saw that he was smiling and waving to his fans. Then, escorted by 2 police vehicles, the limo pulled away. The crowd, deciding that it had accomplished everything it wanted from life, dispersed.

I think the best role Hanks has ever pulled off is the loveable, slightly goofy, down-to-Earth human. Because at that level of fame, I can hardly believe he's maintained any normalcy (whatever that is). How could you be? We were nobodies walking down the streets of NYC, and after being part of the Hanks mob, I can easily say I prefer it that way. I'll trade bank accounts any day, but the fame? He can keep it.

Not that I don't admire what he does. It's weird. I never expect to be impressed with Tom Hanks. He's just Tom Hanks. Then he does something like that shock scene in Captain Philips, and I'm reminded for the umpteenth time, "Oh yeah, he can really act!"

Turns out he can write too. "Alan Bean Plus Four" is about a quartet or average Joes (3 Joes and 1 Joan, actually) and their DIY rocketship that sends them hurtling around the moon and back. They really shouldn't be able to pull this off.

It's a charming and enthralling story. There's an air of an old sci-fi tale, probably due to the fixation on the moon (whereas new sci-fi tends to look way beyond our galaxy), but it still works in the present day. Given the level of technology at our very fingertips, maybe it's Everyman's turn. Maybe we can all be Hanks. Of course, he's too (pretend?) modest for that. He'd say we can all be Alan Beans.

space_shuttle2 by hownowdesign, on Flickr

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