Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Interloper: A Follow-Up

That seed fizzled. I have bred A CHAMPION!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Another Nutritious Meal

I may have mentioned before that there are a few different kinds of crew meals. Grabbed a snapshot of this one, because I figured you'd all like to know what's in the red one. We call this one the Sodium Overload, because that's exactly what it does. Up front there we have the salsa, which goes with those venerable laid-back blue corn chips, Stoned Classics. I still say that sounds like an album. Moving across, we have Jack Links, which are beef jerky in the way that Tootsie Rolls are chocolate. In the middle there is the trail mix, which has off-brand M&Ms in it (you can tell because there's no Ms) but is still coated with salt. In fact, the only thing in this one that isn't NaCl-based is the Lorna Doones. And the napkin.
A word about Lorna Doone. These shortbread cookies are second only to Doubletree's fare, and only by a few microns. It seemed a strange name to put on a square cookie, so I dove in. Discovered that Lorna Doone is the name of a novel written in 1869. Lorna herself is a long lost heiress to a family title, and after much forbidden love and arranged marriage, she gets shot but doesn't die. And, you know, knowing that somehow doesn't make it any more sensical a name for a cookie. But at least now we know.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Have Failed At Chrysanthemums

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Party Plane

Most of our planes look the same. Same paint scheme and everything. Now and again, though, they'll go nuts and paint one up different. It's still in the fleet, and it's just that one... except that it's the wrong color. For example, they made a Olympics one in 2002. And when they hit an anniversary that same year, they made a red and blue one. I have seen that one once or twice... they call it the Pepsi can.
This year was also an anniversary. I guess you have one of those every year, but this was a round number, and so they made a new one. It's regular white like all the others up till about row seven, and then it... well, it looks like this:

You know, kind of like Cool Ranch Doritos exploded all over it. And because of this, it's got itself its own nickname: the Party Plane. They also call it the Mullet, because it's business in the front, party in the back. I had seen this one around too, but this trip I got to fly it. Remarkably the same on the inside. Disappointing. I was kind of expecting neon lights, or at least a disco ball.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

One Way To Tell If A Passenger Is Southern

If they ask for a gray-NO-lah bar.

Dracula: The Ballet

I know that's a wacky title, but I'm gonna back it up. This last trip I made it to Columbus, where I saw my college pal Lillian. She, aside from having a cool name, is the head backstage honcho at the Capitol Theatre there, and I hung out with her all day while she honchoed. There were a couple of shows going on that day, and being Lillian's friend meant I got to drop into any of them I wanted, and so I couldn't pass up the dress rehearsal of BalletMet's Dracula.
I know it's a shortcoming, but there's a fundamental disconnect between me and ballet. The same thing happens to me every time I see one. I'll be cruising along, giving it a shot, and something makes me laugh, and I know it's not supposed to be funny because these people have dedicated their lives to this, but I look around anyway to see if anyone else is laughing, but they aren't because they're affluent and enrapt, and so I turn back, humbled like a five-year-old but still chuckling. Dracula started off almost the same way... with a guy in a G-string. Not tights with a thong over it. I mean the D-man glides up out of his coffin buck. I don't know if it was art, but as an attention-getter, it worked. I was enrapt.
Shut up.
As Lillian, a dancer herself, noted, there was almost as much modern dance as ballet in this ballet. Modern is exactly like ballet except that, instead of doing any ballet, you just do whatever you feel like doing. In this way, modern is like a lot of things. Dracula had a nifty crushed velvet cape that took swirly advantage of this freedom. It also made his tip-toe movements into a creepy glide. They also somehow got a whole castle on stage. And as old Jonathan Harker watched, slack-jawed and dance-belted, Dracula actually wriggled down the castle wall. Way cool.
You had to know the story to follow this version, because ballet dancers don't talk much. But it was easy to follow because of the strength of the acting behind the dancing, or I suppose the acting through the dancing. When Lucy's personality changes, it's right there on stage without gestures or words. The tug-of-war between Mina and Dracula was engaging even if you didn't know what was going on.
Another thing that made this ballet great: it had a severed head in it. Not some $2.99 mask stuffed with newspaper... it actually looked like Lucy. I have decided that every ballet needs a severed head. And at the end, Dracula climbs the castle again and vanishes in plain sight after being finally staked. Theater magic!
I think you can like something without knowing what the hell it is. I found myself thinking about this thing for several days after I saw it, and what that means is I enjoyed it. Don't know if I'm ready to go try out or anything, but if they ever put on another Dracula, or maybe a Nightmare On Elm Street, I'm going.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


A stray seed has challenged my cloned ivy for dominance. I don't know where the hell it came from.
From the way he's chugging along, it's gonna be a hell of a fight.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Making Faces

There were actually three of the Unholy Six in town today, and we decided to celebrate this stellar conjunction by murdering some pumpkins. The other two were girls, and so guts duty fell to me and the boyfriend of one of the aforementioned girls. It's a funny thing... everyone likes to cook pumpkin seeds, but no one actually eats them. "I don't like 'em... I thought you liked 'em!" All told, we ended up with one traditional face, one cat face, one Scream face, and mine, shown here.

That's not a square baby tooth. It's two very small vampire teeth. Halloween is amok.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Can't See Me

I'm assuming that most of the people reading this will either be in Louisiana or not in it, so either way you'll have a viewpoint. You know how, in Louisiana, when you try to sleep with the covers over your face, you have about five minutes of dark warm bliss before you start to suffocate? Well, here in Utah, that is not the case. For whatever geographical reason, I am able to sleep the entire night with covers over my head in the monster avoidance position, and wake up not dead. Thought maybe I'd articulate that oddity of nature, in case there are any bedding scientists out there that wanna clear things up.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Amazing International First Class Lady

The gate agent steps onto the plane and explains that there's a lady who was supposed to be in first class on the next flight, but opted to take a cabin seat on this flight so as to get there earlier. I say, "OK." Things like that happen all the time. First class ain't that great, and most frequent first class fliers know that, and so I assume she'll be that kind of laid back. Wrong. I identify her immediately by the strut, and the way she's flipping around a feather boa that seems to be invisible. "You just let me know if there's any first class seats available," she says, "because I'm supposed to be in first class." I try hard not to tell her that that's what they all say and nod her back to the cabin.
Five minutes into flight, the captain signals ten thousand feet, and the other FA and I get up and start preparing the drink cart. A call button goes off. I go back to see what's up. It's this lady. And she announces to the cabin, "I'll have a scotch and soda. I guess there's no service back here in coach on this flight." I answer that there is indeed service for the whole flight, and everyone will get a chance to order a drink in turn.
I'm pretty good with this whole drink service thing by now, and the other FA was older professionally than I am, and so finishing with first class and getting back to this lady took about six minutes. When I get about three rows away from her, I detect that she is still announcing to the cabin. I suspect that she has not ceased. I can hear her explaining to the poor fellow next to her that she just got back from Barcelona. "Well, when I took the international flight back from Barcelona, it was a much bigger plane than this." I hear her invoke the phrase 'international flight from Barcelona' no less than ten times while I'm within earshot of her. 'What a tool,' I think. The poor fellow next to her just shoots me a 'help me' look. When I finally get to her, she orders that scotch and soda, and then asks if there any way I could comp the drink, seeing as how she was supposed to be in first class and all. I sweetly reply that no, seeing as how she did not currently hold a first class ticket on this vessel, no matter where she thought she was supposed to be. Later, as we're heading back up the aisle, I hear her try that on the other FA, who I'm happy to report was about as understanding as I was.
I'm still trying to figure out a way that a flight from Barcelona that gets you to where you can get on a flight I'm on is not international. What a tool.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Naughty Announcement

One of the things we check during the preflight inspection is the interphone. You check to see if it rings in the flight deck, you check to see if it rings on the other end of the bird where the aft attendant is. And you also do a mike check to see if it goes out to the passengers. Everyone has their own test phrase. Most folks say, "Testing. Testing." By know you should know that ain't me. My phrase is, "MONKEY!" Or, occasionally, "For a transcript of tonight's program, simply write down everything you hear."
Another one going around that I rejected quite out of hand is, "Testies! Testies!" There's already enough cute and effeminate in this business without me flouncing about chirruping something like that over the interphone. But there were levels of which I was not aware to this phrase. I slowly came to notice that, trip after trip, that it was only the female crewmembers that sounded off with this phrase. You know what? I don't think there's an 'i' in it the way they say it.
And I'm damn sure not saying that.

Another Funny Name

How about Captain Leveloff? Met him in the crew lounge. You cannot make this stuff up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Don't Look Back

So I had finally seen the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas a few months back. It was a great show which you should see if you like cool music, things that are funny, toilet paper, and bald blue guys. And when I got back home, I looked them up on the web and discovered that they were holding an audition. It was in Boston... which normally would be a problem for someone in Utah. But for a flight attendant... no problem. My girlfriend, who was with me when I saw the Blue Men because I had gone to see them with her, said, "You should go audition." So I followed her advice, mostly because I usually end up regretting it when I don't.
This trip was a milestone for me, because it's been the first trip since I've been attending flight that I've created and undergone completely solo. Boston is also in Massachusetts, which is number 38 over there on the WTHIP Map (kinda small, but it is there). I landed sometime in the afternoon, and was in front of a subway map, completely screwing up the subway route to the hotel when a kindly soldier who was a local helped me out. A word about soldiers these days... these are people who are getting paid damn near minimum wage to go get shot at in a very inhospitable place, and if anyone has a right to be snarky, it's them. And I have yet to meet one who's a jerk. I did see one from Alabama who was kinda off-color. But they're all genuinely nice folk, and I really hope that when I was a soldier, I was that kind.

Took the train (which reminded me of San Francisco, which in turn reminded me of Chicago) to the hotel to put down my stuff in order to turn right around and take the train back downtown to find some trouble. Passed an important American guy's house, and my American History teacher would be very cross to hear that that's all I could come up with. Discovered an underground mural:

This led me to believe, after some study, that this subway had been the first one in America. I guess that's the one all over the walls in newsprint at Subway the sandwich place. It was actually neat to be in an historical place like that, which might win me back some points from my American History teacher, and more from my English teacher for correctly articalizing 'history' with an 'an.' Although she might take those back after the constructionation of that last sentencement.

Stumbled up some stairs and ended up in the Boston's Theater District, where I undertook a very loose hunt for the Charles Playhouse, in which I would be drumming the next day. Never found it, but I did eat at a place called Rock Bottom. I subscribe to the theory that if a place calls itself something that would make you not want to eat there, it must be good enough to eclipse the name. And I was right. This time.
Next morning I warmed up my drumming chops and headed out for destiny.

After a brief interview, I found myself across a drum pad from a very tall bald guy, who I suspect was a blue man with white guy makeup on. He led me through a series of rhythms that I mostly kept up with. However, while trying to adjust dynamics on certain notes, I failed in the spectacular way usually reserved for Olympic athletes. I was supposed to go BAkaBAkaBAkaBAka, and I was looking right at my hands, telling them, "Do it! Do what I say!" And they went BAKABAKABAKABAKA! So the bald guy looked over his shoulder at the long haired guy who wasn't paying much attention. "You need to see anything else?"
Long haired guy said, "Nope." And thus ended my career as a Blue Man.

Luckily, Boston is a cool place to trudge though with your double armful of broken dreams. For example, I ended up in Boston Common, which was right there north of the Theater District. It's a big park.

Lots of history in it. Like this Declaration thing here, which apparently a lot of people wrote on:

I'd like to take a moment to say out loud that I believe that this is not a gravestone.
After a while in the park, I was thinking drowning my sorrows would be good. Wanted to go to a place where everybody knew my name. Where they were always glad I came. Where I can see our troubles are all the same. And wouldja look at this:

Yep, that's Cheers. Not quite the one you saw on TV. This is the Bull and Finch Pub, which is the one that inspired the set for Cheers. The producers had the show in mind and took a tour of Boston, trying to see what kind of bar they wanted the show to happen in, and this was the one they picked. Across town there is another Cheers, this one a replica of the set. But I checked out the original, and in it I had fish and chips, in honor of the Northeast. I don't know why I always think fish and chips is going to taste like something, but it never does.
And that's Boston. I'd like to go back one day, maybe to catch a Blue Man show or to stroll through Boston Common. Or maybe to find out what American guy's house that was.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sideways Rain

Flew through a rainstorm today. It wasn't very turbulent (boo!), but I did notice something cool. Through the galley door window, I could see that the rain looked like it was falling sideways because we were cruising through it so fast. Looked a lot like static on TV. Or maybe a constant state of acid-washed jeans. OK, this wasn't a fantastic blog entry. But it was better than a pop-up ad for Viagra.

Monday, October 08, 2007

New And Improved Apartment! Now With 90% Less Reek!

So after months of friendly, not so friendly, and then aggressive negotiations with the landlord, I finally got cleared to move into another apartment in the complex. And this one is not stinky... thus I shall begin the process of moving in furniture, which should have been begun six damn months ago. Yes, I'm still sleeping on that air mattress.
The new balcony faces south, and I can just see the Wasatch front if I look left.

Straight in front of me is a dungeon-like underground parking garage. I like to drive through there. It's like a scary car wash with no water, and I'm sure it'll come in handy when snow starts happening.

Off to the right is a cemetery. You can't quite see it past that tree, but it's there.

I've got the Chinatown wind chimes up, and so at least the balcony is home. I'll post pictures of the inside as soon as it looks like something other than an empty apartment.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way Home From Recurrent

All flight crew has to go back to school once a year for refresher training. Dubbed 'Recurrent' in the literal style, this two-day class takes FAs through their initial training at neck-snapping speed. You go back over both what the emergency equipment does and where it's at on the plane. You put out a fire. You perform emergency evacuations on all the planes we fly. And then there's the test that, if you fail, you get taken off the job until such time as you can either pass the test or get another job.
I knew about all that going in. What I didn't know is that the FAs that have been to more than one recurrent have a tradition of going out the night of the first day and getting tanked in an effort to whittle the class down for the next day. I shouldn'a drank. I knew I shouldn'a. But I did. And I made it to class the next day. But it hurt.
But all pain was forgotten as I was leaving. On the way out of the parking lot, I saw this:

That right there is how not to drive a van. Not only was I surprised and amused, I was impressed. How fast of a turn do you have to be taking to drive over a boulder? I know it probably ruined that lady's day, but as I've said before, I'm kind of a jerk, and so it made mine.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Fixing The Hyperdrive

As I was leaving LA the other day for whatever reason I was leaving LA for, I saw this:

I guess someone finally noticed that the spaceship had not taken off since the sixties, and so now they're renovating it. I guess I'll have to go back when it's done to see if I can get Will Smith or Tommy Lee Jones to flashy-thing me.

The Red Menace Strikes!

You may remember a certain paranoid rant from a few months back involving cheese, the airline industry, and the Soviet Union. If you don't, go back and find it... it was pretty good. None of you believed anything I said, of course. But now I have proof of the subtle infiltration of our great nation by sly Red tendrils.

You'll listen next time. Only then you'll be listening in Russian.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Joke They Get, But Just Don't Like

A lot of people, when enplaning, ask me how long the flight is. Just recently I've taken to responding, "A hundred and seven feet." Even though it's an accurate statement, somehow they never think that's funny.

More Different Ices

You can't leave ice in a plane overnight in the summer because you have a bag of water in the morning, and you can't leave ice in a plane overnight in the winter because you have a bag of bag-shaped diamond in the morning. So in the morning when you pick up an airplane for its first flight of the day (or FFOD), a sleepy ramper trudges out towards your plane with four bags of ice. And since they bring you this ice in many different cities, it's always ice from different ice-making companies. I really wish I'd been taking pictures of these, because some of the ice bag labels are hilarious. Some just have really bad art on them. Like I know it's supposed to be either a penguin or a polar bear because it's a bag of ice, but it really looks like a melting cow with a trumpet coming out of its ear and it kinda makes me sick to look at. Some of them tout their technological prowess at ice formulation. "Reverse carbon filtration and rapid de-oxygenization through nuclear atom-split osmosis results in a difference you can taste!" It's ice. Cold water. Unless Han Solo's in there, I don't want to hear about carbon.

Because I speak English, this one confused me immediately. I thought maybe the filtration process had leached out some of the grammar. "Me pour drink, put ice in drink. Mmm... that good ice!" And that should have been it, but on two hours of sleep, you can obsess over some dumb crap. I just couldn't let it go... why put that on the front of the bag? And so I was agitated throughout most of the drink service, until a lady in the last row, upon seeing that it was the chipped ice and not cubes, said, "Hey! That's that good ice!"

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Secret They Don't Want You To Know

You'll never hear the word 'cancellation' at the gate. It's actually policy not to say it. Probably because when people hear it, they go hatstand, whether it's their flight the gate agents are actually talking about or not. But you may hear the agents say 'charlie x-ray,' which is phonetic alphabet for CX, and of course that's the first letter of 'cancellation' followed by an X, which means 'cancellation.'
Because I have so much occasion to say 'jackass,' I have come up with my own abbreviation. Now when I refer to someone as a 'juliet alpha,' no one's offended, and I'm amused.


WARNING: This is a vomit story.
Thankfully, I don't have a lot of vomit stories yet. I mean, I have a few. To be a flight attendant is to have a few vomit stories. There was this one business woman who was a professional traveler and, due to her recurring airsickness, a professional vomiter. She had just accepted that she got sick flying and, to her, it was just an occupational nuisance. Something she planned for. I found all this out through random conversation, and then right in the middle of her explanation, she quick-drew the airsick bag and exploded into it. Precisely. Casually. And then, with not even so much as watery eyes, she said, "See? Told you."
That's not the story I'm going to tell you. The one I am going to tell you features a lady vomiting and screaming simultaneously. I was unaware that it was possible to eject food and vocalize at the same time, but guess what. As I was headed up the aisle, I heard someone go, "BAAAA-UGGLE-AUGGLE-GLAHH!" For being a yell, it was fairly quiet, and at first I thought maybe I had imagined it. So I waited, and sure enough, it happened again. This time I spotted a poor red-headed lady upchucking into the bag, trying hard to be innocuous. But each time she did it, she started out with a louder and louder BAAAAAAA, to which she would eventually add food. Which is kind of the opposite of innocuous, and also kind of amazing, because as I've said, I had no idea that you could yell and barf at the same time.
It's my job to go make sure you're OK when you're sick on my plane. But I know I hate it when people are staring at me when I'm shouting for Huey in public. So I sidled over to them, gave a bottle of water and some napkins to her friend, and said, "Here... just in case you might... need some water and napkins. Not that you do."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Again with the birthday. I've now aged twice in Utah. Doesn't feel any different, but it is kinda cool to know that now I could officially run for president. But later... I'm not going up against Stephen Colbert.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Foreign Mind Film About Pasta

Sometimes we get crew meals when we order them. Sometimes they are out. And sometimes we fly a plane with first class, and they get first class snack boxes, which are like crew meals with leather bucket seats. Flight attendants are not supposed to eat those. However, sometimes there are only four firsties in a six-seater first class, and well...
They're all right, these first class boxes. But you can smell the pretention when you open them. The pretzel sticks are 'stick-style dipping pretzels,' and they pair nicely with the raspberry-mustard dipping sauce. We're not even going to make a joke about that combination because it might make me throw up. But what we're really going to skewer here is the pasta-in-a-can.
Before we start, let me assure you that that's exactly what it is. Pasta-in-a-can. No, I have not eaten it. The stench when you open it is so overpowering that I could not bring myself to (which reminds me... don't you hate those people that, when you say you don't like something, immediately respond with, "Aw, have you tried it?" How do you think I found out I don't like it?). But I know plenty of vegan flight attendants that have eaten it, and they all assure me that it's your average pasta-in-a-can. But get a load of this label:

I think it's supposed to make the food sound chic. But all it really does is plant this scene immediately into my brain:


A bar, lit in subtle blues and reds. FRENCHMEN in black tights and Hamburglar shirts drape in ennui over the avant-garde furniture. Berets abound. Looks like Ms. Hepburn just stepped out of the place.
ECOLE, the barman, bursts from the back, carrying a silver platter upon which rests a baguette.
ECOLE: Mais oui, mes amis! I have cooked a food!
The FRENCHMEN are stunned even more silent.
HENRI: What? How?
ECOLE: Using quantum technology I happened to have lying around, I created an all-natural deep sub-space vacuum back there in the sink, and placed its event horizon squarely in the center of this baguette. It will remain fresh forever!
FRENCHMAN: Finally... fast, nutritious gourmet food.
ANOTHER FRENCHMAN: Sounds like an optimal process.
FRENCH DWARF: Hey, doesn't nature abhor a vacuum?
HENRI: But, but, but, Ecole... zis is a bar!
ECOLE: I know. But I have been thinking of opening a restaurant.
HENRI: But you must know that that means you would have to face... certification!

The FRENCHMEN gasp. One, who has been pulling his mustache, releases it, and it twangs in the silence like the A string on a guitar. ECOLE thumps his chest.
ECOLE: I am not afraid!


Sirens flash and klaxons wail as several hard SOLDIERS in kevlar and nylon blast from the severe-looking government building. Screaming 'vit vit vit!', they pile into a Yugo-shaped police van.


HENRI trembles in ECOLE'S arms.
HENRI: I am afraid.
ECOLE: Steel yourself, mon ami.
Suddenly, the doors slam open; the SOLDIERS dash in, taking up defensive positions behind the FRENCHMEN. COLONEL FROMAGE enters, riding crop under arm, scowl legendary.
ECOLE swallows nervously.
FROMAGE: 'Ou is in charge 'ere?
ECOLE: I am. Sir.
FROMAGE: Zis is a bar?
ECOLE: It is. Sir.
FROMAGE: What is on that silver platter?
ECOLE: A food. Sir.
FROMAGE: Was it... an accident?
ECOLE (defiant): No, it was not. Sir.
FROMAGE raises an eyebrow. Sniffs disdainfully. Begins to shake. Turns red. Then, at the top of his lungs:
The SOLDIERS heave to, speeding up and down stairs, their assault rifles vanishing to make way for slide rules and magnifying glasses. They tap pipes, scrape bricks, taste wooden planks.
After sixty seconds of blazing certification, a SOLDIER snaps to attention in front of FROMAGE, and whispers a report. FROMAGE takes it in, nods, then stalks towards ECOLE. HENRI whimpers.
FROMAGE: Quantum... technology?
ECOLE: Yes. Sir.
FROMAGE: Zis is now... a
He whips out a rubber stamp and pounds it across ECOLE'S forehead. ECOLE'S eyes roll upwards, trying to read it.
ECOLE grins. HENRI smiles tearfully.
FROMAGE (shaking, red): MEN? MOVE OUT!
The SOLDIERS depart to the sounds of the FRENCHMEN snapping fingers.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Varmints Of Evil

This is a thing I'd never seen before. Squirrels in Toronto (and perhaps in the whole of Canada) are black.

Watching them skitter around in the underbrush in a hotel courtyard, you wouldn't think black squirrels areall that spooky. But when you slowly begin to realize that you're being subtly herded towards the treeline, they really are.