Sunday, February 3, 2013


With increased air travel during the holiday season, many are winging long distances for the first time since last holiday season.  It’s awful, but is it really worse?  I came across a log I kept during one of my most memorable cross-country experiences. This was before TSA Agents, before airlines stopped serving meals, and back when airlines would lose your luggage without charging you a fee for an “Extra Service.” Read and compare to modern day travel—if you dare.

The YEAR 1997. The FLIGHT:  Los Angeles (LAX) to New York City (JFK).

4:30 AM: Picked up at home by Phil's Speedy Discount Airport Shuttle. Motto: "If we're more than fifteen minutes late, we wouldn't be the least bit surprised."

5:45:  Arrive Los Angeles Airport. Curbside check-in offers high tech Computerized Tracking System (CTS) which assures your luggage will arrive in Nepal twenty minutes before you land in New York.

6:00: Ticket counter uses new Random Queuing System (RQS). Queue is a British term meaning "You're in the wrong line, stupid." I queue up in "Odd Size" line, then am booted out when told "Odd Size" refers to luggage, not body type.

6:15: Security check. Foreign passenger ahead of me is asked: "Did person or persons unknown to you pack your luggage, pat your butt, or recite lyrics to anything by Puff Daddy?"  He responds: "My salad shooter has an embolism" and is waved through.

7:30 Pre-boarding begins for pre-boards who need assistance, assistants who need pre-boarding, first class, business class, no class, private first class, menacing youth, passengers on the wrong plane, and those who play dumb and pretend their row has been called.

8:15: Pilot announces "the fine folks in maintenance have informed me they have to re-calibrate and functionalize the leading edge hydraulic spoiler actuation pressure stabilizer, and will get on it as soon as Chief Mechanic Fat Mel finishes his donut."

11:45: Takeoff.

11:47: Emergency landing to remove Fat Mel from engine cowling.

12:15 PM: Re-takeoff.

12:45: Breakfast. Choices are: "Runny eggs with Sumpthin' Green in 'em" or "Fruit Loops 'n' Curdled Milk."

1:45:  Pilot asks if anyone has seen his keys to the liquor cabinet.

2:00: Edited for airline version of "Showgirls" begins.

2:05: Edited for airline version of "Showgirls" ends.

3:15: Pilot says "Passengers on our right side can see Columbus, Ohio. Passengers on our left side can see a hideous monster dismantling the engine."

4:45: Surly flight attendants collect breakfast trays and play Goose the Elderly.

5:00: Inadvertently land at Teterboro, N.J., long term parking lot. Pilot says he'll taxi aircraft to JFK.

5:15:  Skippy the co-pilot collects spare change for turnpike tolls.

5:30:  Detour to Hackensack so Skippy can drop off laundry and tuck in the kids.

6:15: Arrive at gate.

6:45: Computerized Tracking System claims I don't have any luggage, I never had luggage, I'll never have luggage again, and it's not that fond of my tie.

7:45: Take cab driven by man whose name has seventeen consonants and an umlaut. Ululates show tunes all the way to the hotel.

11:45: Luggage from previous trip delivered to room.

 # # #

 A Version of this appeared in the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed section in 1997

Copyright 1997, 2012

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top Ten Crises Still Bugging Me as 2013 Begins

10. Baffled why there hasn’t been a Constitutional amendment outlawing either the word “flammable” or “inflammable.”

9. Stupefied how the Media can report the pregnancy of Kim Khardashian without including the phrases “affront to civilization,” “anti-Christ” or “no-talent publicity whore.”

7. Worrying will the new tenant in the spare bedroom, Fiscal Cliff, ever pay his rent on time.

6. Curious how long my profound sense of relief will last that no one is asking: “What will Romney do when he takes office?” .

7. Realizing that I never have known how to pronounce and probably never will never know how to pronounce the words “Synclavier”, “onegin” and “yclept”

5: Concerned my Thanksgiving day cold of 2012 will never go away.

4. Continue asking myself why I post carefully crafted, exhaustively shot, precisely edited works of video art on YouTube and get 26 hits if I’m lucky, when I could entice a kitty with a ball of yarn and go viral overnight.

3 Puzzled why people who believe intelligent life forms occupy UFOs actually haven’t figured out why they haven’t contacted “intelligent” life on earth.   

2. Wracking my brain why anyone believes in or otherwise gives a rat‘s ass about Zombies.

1. Rethinking my decision to turn down the gig as the new Chief Administrative Officer for the Large Hadron Collider, and wondering if women really care if their boyfriend has a small Hadron.