Goodnight MetaFilter, goodnight moon.
October 8, 2017 9:40 PM   Subscribe

At 1:00pm on May 17th, 2017, Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted that he occasionally longed for someone to read "Good Night Moon" to him as he falls asleep. Six minutes later, LeVar Burton tweeted "I got you... Let's do this!" And do it they did.

Some background: LeVar Burton hosted the children's TV show Reading Rainbow for two decades, reading to children and encouraging them to read. His new podcast, LeVar Burton Reads, is like Reading Rainbow for adults. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a famous dancer/astrophysicist.
posted by Room 641-A (42 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
This is absolutely wonderful and I applaud everything about it but I could maybe do without the twangy music box lullaby:( because I’m a bad person who can find joy in nothing and would talk shit about a sunny day.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:00 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

Can I have Levar Burton read me Blueberries for Sal? That was my bedtime jam.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:05 PM on October 8 [16 favorites]

Awwwwwww this is so lovely !! Thank you for posting this.
posted by seawallrunner at 10:10 PM on October 8 [1 favorite]

That was so sweet I think I need a couple extra units of insulin.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:31 PM on October 8 [4 favorites]

And this is why I go to sleep every night listening to audiobooks.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:13 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

I have never been more jealous in my life
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:19 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]

My child likes "Goodnight Moon," but for his and my money, "The Color Kittens" is even more soothing, even fading into a dreamlike fugue as it reaches the end.

Also "The Salamander Room," which isn't Margaret Wise Brown but is just as dreamy and gorgeous.
posted by Scattercat at 3:16 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

The absolute rightness of Burton's voice reading a book is etched in my very soul, thanks to Reading Rainbow and that is in every way a good thing.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:03 AM on October 9 [13 favorites]

And that video of NdGT dancing?? YAAASSSSSSSSSS
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:04 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]

For me GM has too many unsettling things for me to enjoy it especially the couplet "Goodnight moon/Goodnight cow jumping over the moon."--wha? And don't get me started on the bowl full of mush: did the kid eat that right before bed? Without brushing her teeth? Is it going to sit there all night? Maybe the old lady will take it, but maybe not.

I'm sad that my eldest has outgrown Dr. Seuss, because those are always a pleasure to read.
posted by zardoz at 4:35 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]

That's nothing, Zardoz. Take a look at the book on Bunnys nightstand next to the telephone and tell me that doesn't add a new dimension to the story.
posted by dr_dank at 4:43 AM on October 9

I love this very much
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:53 AM on October 9

did ndt point out all the scientific inaccuracies in the book before he fell asleep?
posted by entropicamericana at 6:18 AM on October 9 [19 favorites]

That bowl full of mush always gets me. Fruit flies man, fruit flies.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:35 AM on October 9

I sent this to my wife this last, and she was checking her mail and saw it this morning. She read the title out loud and then asks 'Who's Levar Burton?' Which... I walked into the room she was in and paused, and asked her if she was joking... Then I said, "Reading Rainbow". Her eyes lit up like I'd just re-awoken her inner 8 year old, and I could see her beam with joy. She raced to the dining room table, where I was with the kids eating cider donuts, bacon and chocolate milk. (Conquer's day is a school holiday in MA.) So, there we were, the whole family curled around her laptop at the breakfast table watching bedtime stories. It was a good start this morning.
posted by Nanukthedog at 6:45 AM on October 9 [27 favorites]

This is a perfect post.
posted by Emmy Rae at 6:55 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

BRB, launching a kickstarter to hire Burton to read the Tractatus.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:58 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]

If I had been in NDT's shoes, I think I might have had a full-on Troy meltdown.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:13 AM on October 9

b1tr0t I would no joke join that kickstarter with glee.

Also the best audiobooks to read to fall to sleep are ones in languages you don't understand. There's a German audiobook of Dorothy Sayers read by Frank Arnold which puts me to sleep faster than Nyquil.
posted by winna at 7:14 AM on October 9 [4 favorites]

"Goodnight mittens" like, that's the best line of the whole book full stop.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:15 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

and FWIW reading rainbow is the best thing the human race has made to date. The Nintendo Switch is pretty rad, but it needs a reading rainbow game to be *chef's kiss* perfect.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:16 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]

Mods, LeVar is misspelled 2x in the post- fixable?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:20 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]

Apologies LeVar, I was sleepy!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:35 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

[I have thrown the LaVar-LeVarring lever, carry on.]
posted by cortex at 7:46 AM on October 9 [13 favorites]

The crazy thing about LeVar Burton is that he doesn't have a particularly large body of work for someone who's been working as long as he has, but he's been a part of three separate series that have become complete cultural touchstones.

Roots, Star Trek TNG, and Reading Rainbow (and maybe Captain Planet).

that's pretty darn impressive.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:23 AM on October 9 [11 favorites]

Neil deGrasse Tyson was "at one time, a loooong, long time ago, a member of three different performing dance troupes, like college troupes, not Bolshoi or something," and he says he wishes he was in his former dancing shape. He closes that answer with a few lines from Max Ehrmann's Desiderata: "I have '[taken] kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.' " [Wikipedia on the poem]

The best part of that video? When he says "whenever I give a talk in a performance space, I take off my shoes, because how could you not?" and then he stretches his legs in the space, as if he were on the verge of dancing, but holds himself back.

Clearly, he doesn't always hold himself back.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:26 AM on October 9 [1 favorite]

The moon is about 222,000 to 252,000 miles away, with an immense stretch of the vacuum of space between it and us. And sound cannot travel through a vacuum. So the moon would not be able to hear you say "good night."
posted by RobotHero at 8:40 AM on October 9 [9 favorites]

I enjoyed listening but spent the whole video wishing Neil deGrasse Tyson would get to lie down or really smuggle up to LeVar Burton. He looked so uncomfortable shifting back and forth, using his pillow and sort of leaning.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:45 AM on October 9 [2 favorites]

In related news, LeVar Burton also narrates Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos”.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:46 AM on October 9

In other news, I would like to hear Kyle MacLachlan narrate Goodnight Dune
posted by Gorgik at 8:59 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]

How Neil deGrasse Tyson almost made money
“It was very briefly because I was strapped for cash in graduate school,” he said. “I was a performing member of a dance troupe and some guys said, ‘Why don’t you come down and get some extra cash in your g-string.’ I was particularly flexible at the time. I could do a full split, just as an example. So I thought, yeah, I can probably do this! That’s when I noticed…no! I should tutor math!”

“When they came out dancing with their jock straps on fire to Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘Great Balls of Fire’ — maybe it was the flames, just watching their genitals on fire. Maybe that’s what it took. But it shouldn’t have taken that, as far as I was concerned. Of course I can tutor mathematics. It’s reliable income and everybody needs a math tutor. So that’s what I ultimately did.”
posted by Room 641-A at 9:26 AM on October 9 [8 favorites]

This is complete and utter perfection. I loved Reading Rainbow as a kid, I loved LeVar Burton on Star Trek, I love NDT, and this moment of tenderness between two extremely accomplished black men is just so beautiful on so many levels.
posted by bile and syntax at 9:33 AM on October 9 [5 favorites]

I was going to say something about "kids, these days." Then I looked up Goodnight Moon and discovered it's very nearly as old as my parents. For reasons unknown, it never appeared in my childhood. I never even heard of it until a few years ago. Without the benefit of nostalgia, it's a pretty dull story.

But, I'd happily listen to LeVar Burton read a table of spectra or a star catalogue.
posted by eotvos at 9:58 AM on October 9 [3 favorites]

As an IP attorney, I can't hear Good Night Moon now without thinking about the crazy story of how the copyright was willed to Margaret Wise Brown's neighbor's middle son who went on to become a very wealthy drug addled criminal. Previously
posted by Arbac at 9:59 AM on October 9 [6 favorites]

I've been feeling pretty apocalyptic lately (saw Blade Runner 2049 last night, re-reading the MadAdam trilogy (why???) and California is on fire) so this is a really really nice and very needed little slice of something lovely and positive. thanks!
posted by supermedusa at 12:35 PM on October 9 [2 favorites]

I was going to say something about "kids, these days." Then I looked up Goodnight Moon and discovered it's very nearly as old as my parents. For reasons unknown, it never appeared in my childhood. I never even heard of it until a few years ago. Without the benefit of nostalgia, it's a pretty dull story.

I'm 40 years old, and it wasn't a part of my early childhood (late '70s/early '80s) at all, in spite of growing up with nearly all of the other classics. Looks like its sales history was a slow burn, selling poorly to modestly for the first decade or so, and then picking up steam gradually until the mid-to-late '80s when the Baby Boomers started having kids en masse, and it became completely inescapable. With that in mind, it's plausible that NDT might have experienced it as part of his childhood, given that he was born in the publishing capital of the world right about at the time it started to gain popularity.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:00 PM on October 9 [1 favorite]

Obligatory fanfic: likely the best (and definitely weirdest) Goodnight Moon fanfic you will ever read: Goodnight Room.

Summary: Bunnies ... in ... SPAAAAAAAACE!
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:20 PM on October 9

I thought it was very cute but LeVar Burton's line readings were all wrong for me. Too much emphasis on the "and"s and not enough on the rhyming words.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:54 PM on October 9

I love Levar Burton reads too! I hope it comes back soon...
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:12 AM on October 10

This is a beautiful thing...

but I have to confess, before I clicked on the 'dancer' link, I thought "man is he gonna suck". I just could not picture NDT, as great as he is, being good on the dancefloor. Now I can't NOT picture it.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 12:50 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Goodnight Moon is more ritual than story. Imagine the terrible strain of being of toddler, learning to live in a big confusing world, having a day full of joys and challenges, delight and howling frustration. Imagine the terrible strain of being that toddler's parent: the same day, but you're RESPONSIBLE for it all. And then, to end the day, to ease tension, to reset to calm, this quiet moment: soothing familiar pattern of gentle words. Almost like a soft rain, they fall.

Images: engaging enough to hold attention, but with repetition, soft enough to let a mind go drowsy.*

We donated many many books from my son's childhood. But Goodnight Moon still claims a place on the shelf.

*On a good night. On a bad night, good luck and I hope you have someone to fix you a hot drink after.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 5:11 PM on October 12 [3 favorites]

« Older That Time Kottke Was on Halt and Catch Fire   |   Closer to Perfect Smile Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments