Oh, my God. The chronicles of the frightened traveler continue. Looking at how I may fly to Albuquerque at the end of next month, I learn that there are no direct flights from Boston to Albuquerque. Apparently, there just aren’t, like there simply aren’t. All the flights seem to be two or more flights, and while that may be possible, the kicker is that most – by far most – all involve leaving the one aircraft and then getting onboard another one.
Here is my problem. As a frightened traveler, I don’t have confidence that if I get off of the first airliner that I will get on board the second one. It seems more likely I’ll be curled up in a fetal ball in some Texas airport lavatory sucking my thumb, than managing to get myself onto a second aircraft.
So really, my limit is finding a two-part flight that involves staying on the same plane. This may be possible, but it appears to be rare. Indeed, out of one sample day I typed in, out of about 78 flights only one had people remaining on the same plane, so “rare” is the correct word. And when they are so rare, chances are strong that they won’t be the cheapie flights – that one flight, which goes to Atlanta, Georgia first (odd) – is $377.
There are ones for almost half that available if I am willing to leave the one plane and then go to another. Maybe it isn’t so bad, as long as it is the same airline. If each airline just has one little auditorium sized room where all their planes touch noses, that wouldn’t be impossible. But that’s a level of uncertainty that the websites don’t say. They don’t show pictures, they don’t try to show you exactly what you will expect. For all I know I’d have to walk across a mile of corridor to find the next gate. And again, the concern that jelly can’t walk.
This makes me wonder whether I should re-consider the possibility of simply driving out there. True, it is a billion miles, and I have never driven on a highway in many, many years (more than ten), and even then I’d never driven anywhere further than say, a half hour away. I think the longest drive I ever did, aside from one time I got lost and wound up in Boston’s Chinatown, was driving from the suburbs to a Toys R Us at the Burlington Mall back when Playmates Toys was making Star Trek the Next Generation action figures, and that was the nearest mall I knew of at the time (this must have been the 1980s) was half hour down a highway. And even then I didn’t really use the highway, I used the local roads that ran sort of parallel to the highway.
I stopped using the highway, incidentally, because I don’t like the way you can’t turn left or right when you want to. You’re forced to stay in a straight line until there is an exit. For someone like me, who has issues about loss of control, that’s a very unfriendly environment.
What this means is, if I were to drive, this would be a new experience for me. It’s been more than ten or fifteen years so maybe I could do it and do it in an entirely new way, with no worries. That could happen, for all I know.
On the plus side, no changing flights. I could pull over and puke any time I wanted to, and chances are I wouldn’t need to. I would however have to deal with hotels, which I do not do. Hotels smell like chemicals. It’s hard to explain, but hotels feel lifeless. Disconcerting. I’d rather sleep in my car, but of course that isn’t really possible or legal. Even if it were legal, chances are I’d be shot while sleeping and my car and posessions stolen.
Oh I don’t know. A few days of driving (mapquest says it takes about 38 hours to drive from Boston to Albuquerque, but that means nonstop. Realistically, that means…oh I don’t know, maybe most of a week. Say 5 days and nights. 5 hotels, say a hundred bucks a pop, it’s essentially half as expensive as flying (when one considers flying involves a $377 flight plus a thousand bucks plus to have one’s car shipped over, or about $1,500 total).
What I expect will happen is I will find a cheap flight that has one change (from one plane to another) on the same airline, with under an hour of waiting in between the two so I will not have enough time to panic and decide to wander away in the middle of hillbilly Texas. I say Texas because it seems most flights go from Boston to Houston. I don’t much like the idea of being in a redneck state even at an airport, but that’s probably irrelevant.
Yesterday I heard on NPR a person’s reminiscences of his mother’s life as a high-flying stewardess in the glory days of the liberal 1960s. I believe that inspired this dream, which took the form of a story treatment, right down to including some scenes, general backstory, and some characters (though not, unfortunately, a resolution).
In the early 1960s, a British airliner went down in the Kingdom of an unfriendly Middle Eastern country. All passengers and crew of the flight were believed to have died in the catastrophe, so neither American nor British personnel entered the Kingdom to learn the truth: that there was a survivor, a baby girl.
The story begins nearly two decades later, as American forces endeavor to liberate the Kingdom of its oil. In the raiding of the palaces, the obscene hoarding of wealth by the royals is evident, and the revealing of this wealth on television and internet by the American CIA propaganda branches is used effectively to help reinforce the rationale for the invasion.
Perhaps no other piece of propaganda would have more weight in the effort than a videotape found in the main palace of the aged king, a videotape of what appears to be a young Caucasian woman, about 19 years of age, held in servitude among this opulence.
Other artifacts found in that particular palace include a 1960s style British Airways pillbox hat.
How best to exploit this evidence of white slavery by the “heathens” is problematic for the CIA, for the recording is as obscene as could be imagined. No news anchor could air this.
CIA techies reviewing the tapes come to appreciate another problem beyond the pornographic nature of the recordings. As one observes, in between handfuls of potato chips, “It’s like maybe she doesn’t realize she’s being exploited.”
Indeed. It seems that the sexual moments are regarded by the unidentified woman as the sole recreation afforded to her in this palace prison. Her reverie doesn’t fit the mission. Ultimately the CIA decides not to do anything with this unexpected find, which comes as something as a relief to the agent tasked with figuring out how best to exploit it.
But he finds it is already an underground hit in the lower floors of the Pentagon.
Why was the videotape found before the actual woman was? Because earlier in the battle there was some confusion. We return to the desert, a week or so earlier:
As troops storm the castle, the woman is rescued by troops who mistake her for being a captured soldier (being white, and the same age as the average trooper, and having a mostly shaved head – although truth be known that was more in the tradition of old nobles she’d read about, who as history notes had shaved their heads and worn wigs to cut down on hair lice).
However her fluency in Arabic and her complete lack of military training of course reveals her as something curious, and the CIA agent referred to earlier is soon on his way to meet the person whose video has caused such a commotion.
I don’t know the entire story, but I know that by the time she is brought “back” to America (not really her country, but she’s white and it’s the Pentagon’s war, so, she is “returned” to America), her video is on the net a la Abu Grab photos.
(The logic of the dream breaks down a bit at this point. For instance, in my dream she is fluent in English and has an immediate grasp of our culture.)
Various companies on the net are selling the bits of video that have been leaked. Despite the bad quality of the compressed footage, it is a sensation because she is so uniquely satisfied and happy in her sexual acts, as opposed to the dreary, depressed and dehumanized norm that is standard in produced porn. She’s the biggest hit since Ivory Snow’s ad girl Marilyn Chambers went hardcore.
In America, set up with a minor budget as a free person, accompanied by the agent (why? don’t know), she understands immediately the exploitation of her performances that these companies are engaged in, selling her footage (pretty much same as the Paris Hilton tapes).
She plans immediate action to take back control of her image.
In my dream, she was in a camera store buying top shelf camera equipment, and the agent was trying to dissuade her from buying film based cameras, explaining there are now 7, 8, or 9 megapixel cameras with no need for film to be developed. But she seems to know what she wants and he isn’t sure he should question her. Her origin in the 1960s, and her curious isolation in the palace since that time, seem to make her slightly out of time. Similarly her sexual attitude seems to be out of the 1960s, though how that would translate into a person who did not actually grow up in that environment is somewhat dubious. But anyway:
She intends to reclaim her now-exploited sexual identity by being a sexual persona on her own terms, with her own distribution, her own controls.
By the way in this story, the agent does not get the girl. He likes her, but he’s also intimidated by her in a way that I’m sure could be socially relevant without being ponderous.
I know that the dream also included a whole section from the past, from when she was in the Kingdom, doing her thing, doing multiple things, actually. There was another Caucasian person there, who was either a boy from the airline crash (another survivor, a la the Blue Lagoon), or who was a particularly dumb young soldier who was captured at some point (in an earlier skirmish with the Kingdom, not in the war) and kept in the kingdom in a similar fashion as she, except that he was basically kept around solely as a prop, as a tool for her sexual performances on those occasions when the royals and their guests were not the ones having sex with her. In the dream, he was clearly exploited. He was kept alive because he had a big tool and so he made for a good show with her. But he was in perpetual danger of being killed whereas she was not (since she was highly valued but he was expendable). I expect that at some point he was in fact killed by the King or one of the Princes, because in the dream it was only she, not he, who were rescued by the troops that stormed the palace. I suppose his existence gives an opportunity to explore how she was exploited by the royals, even if she did not feel exploited, because she could have as easily been him. But she wasn’t him, and didn’t feel that way.
That about does it for the dream. A pity I am not a fiction writer or maybe I’d be able to turn this into a full story.
Letter regarding The Writer’s Guild lawsuit against Google
Dear Mr. Aiken and the Guild,
After the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John E. Mack, M.D., I was retained by his estate to scan in every bit of writing he had ever done. As Dr Mack’s colleague and friend, I could do no less.
It took me nearly six months using a professional grade scanner to preserve every essay, every book, every review and every letter from over 50 years of his writing career.
So I believe that I am speaking with some authority when I share with you my opinion about Google’s Herculian effort to preserve books.
My opinion is simply this: the founders of Google should be honored for this, their most humanitarian effort. Frankly, they are doing what the Library of Congress should have been doing all along.
The ability to search books from any laptop – even if one must buy the book from a conventional bookstore in order to actually read more than a page – will advance our civilization in dramatic ways; it will help eliminate redundancy, of people wasting time rediscovering things that had already been noted by others. When all books have been scanned, we will be able to build on what is already known.
Most importantly, authors from all eras will suddenly have their words regarded anew. Books will be more likely to be called back into print. This is the start of a bright new age.
I urge you to reconsider your lawsuit against Google, which I read about today. The article was brief, so I do not understand why you would object to their noble effort. I hope that as you come to a better understanding of what Google is doing, you will realize that their effort is one that should be supported unreservedly.
“A slam dunk critical hit.” – The Wall Street Journal
You know that guy you see at the convenience store – sort of shifty lookin’ fella who buys a pack of smokes, a couple of Lotto scratchers and a “tall boy” at ten in the morning – the kind of guy you wait to come out before you and your family go in…well, that guy is me…or the guy I used to be. Until I discovered Karma – Do good things and good things will happen to you, do bad things and they’ll come back to haunt you. Now I know if I want a better life, I need to be a better person…that’s why I’ve made a list of everything I’ve done wrong, a roadmap to better Karma, and I’m gonna make it right each and every one, I swear.
That’s the introduction to the tv show My Name is Earl, starring Jason Lee. I saw the first episode last night and it was great! I hope to see more of this. It has the kind of plot concept that could take it anywhere.
In fact, the underlying concept is essentially the same as Wonderfalls. In the short lived, but equally critically acclaimed series Wonderfalls, slacker Jayne was prompted to help others and thereby reform her defeatest ways by the whispers of inanimate objects. In Earl, he’s doing it for instant karma. Either way, it is a great concept, a good foundation for the writers.