The weather’s been weird for late June. The sky has been fluctuating between the endless blue which I usually associate with summertime in this part of the world, and the woolly gray usually reserved for the other nine months in the year. Today the sky falls into that second category, but yesterday it did not and in the hundred year old house that I live in it was uncomfortably warm and stuffy
I slept under the thinnest blanket I own because it was more than sufficient when I went to bed, but by two AM the clouds had rolled down from Canada and dropped the temperature by thirty degrees. I woke up at 6:30, half-frozen and locked in the fetal position, next to a giant stack of blankets and comforters which the drooling idiot creature that I become after sleep sets in failed utterly to make any practical use of.
Now it’s eleven AM and I am one cup of coffee, a Five Hour Energy, and a sugar free Redbull deep into the stuttery, uncertain country where sleep deprivation and hyper-caffeination intersect. A barren and desolate region that, characterized by miles of broken slate and the keening of a lonely wind blown in from other, brighter places. If I put my head down and keep plugging along I will make it out eventually and come into the rolling hills of healthier living, but for the moment, there is no end in sight.
All this to say that I have been sitting at my desk for forty five minutes now and have gotten no work done, and all I can think about is the doughy, sweat-slick face of a one Jack Horkheimer, esquire.
You may know Mr. Horkheimer’s work – evidently, he is near and dear to certain among us in the same way that Bill Nye and, uh… shit.
The black guy.
What the fuck was his goddamn name…
…Neil Degrasse Tyson! In the same way that Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson are to others.
The reason for this is that Jack Horkheimer (now deceased, tragically) hosted a 5 minute television show which was broadcast once a week in what was apparently a large segment of the country, though not to my knowledge one which I have ever called home. The format was relatively straight-forward and, I think, a pretty cool idea – effectively , Jack Horkheimer was a weatherman, but for space.
Horkheimer’s five minute set was done in front of a greenscreen as are meteorological reports the world over, but rather than conveying to us such banal and pedestrian observations as the fact that it will probably be drizzly over the weekend or that the sun might make an appearance on Tuesday, Jack Horkheimer relayed to his evidently enormous viewership details of the kind of stargazing which would be available to them over the coming week.
Those who tuned in for Jack’s short broadcast would learn, for example, that Venus is going to be particularly bright, and then he would show you how to find it. He would tell you about constellations, and where to spot Mars. He would say that there is a meteor shower coming, so it’s time to find a picnic blanket and a pillow and go lay out in the yard to watch the fireworks.
Wikipedia tells me that this program has been running, uninterrupted, since 1976 – there has been a change in lineup since dear old Jack passed away in 2010, but the show itself continues unto this very day under the title Star Gazers. Before that, it was called Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer. And before that, it was called Jack Horkheimer: Star Hustler.
Why, no, thine eyes have not deceived you:
If the program was just called Star Hustler, that would be enough for me. I would chuckle, email it to my friends, maybe post it Facebook, and that would be the end of it.
But that isn’t the end of it, because we have yet to touch on the man himself. Now, I don’t know what you thought the director of a planetarium (which he was) who also hosts a program called Star Hustler might look like, if you ever thought about such a preposterous question at all. I most certainly had not, and so when I discovered the answer I was neither surprised nor disappointed, and when Jack himself walked on camera I just thought to myself “Yeah. That looks about right,” because he looks like this:
What really grabs me, though, is Jack Horkheimer’s delivery. He combines the exaggerated, way-over-the-top-enthusiasm of that teacher we all hated in the third grade with the spittle-flicking diction of the brace-faced, bitchy big sister we all know from cartoons from the 1990’s. He also produced the show out of Florida and, apparently, never took off his jacket, which is possibly why he is constantly sweaty.
God bless him, though. He seems to have been one of those blessed few who found the one thing in life which would prove to be a font of joy till kingdom come. Right the fuck on, man.
It’s a beautiful little nugget of internet goofiness which has been hanging out in my head all day and getting in the way of my day job, and I recommend you check it out.