Thursday, March 31, 2011

Celebrity Brush-Past Of The Day

A trip to the doctor resulted in a prescription for Mrs. Sarcasm and a popcorn craving for myself.  Our local Target didn't have the medicine we needed, but they have a very nice deal on popcorn and pop.  Two CVSs later, an older dude shuffled past, wearing a half-open shirt and a goatee.

"That was Barney Miller," I said.

"It did look like him," said Mrs. Sarcasm, sounding like she thought I was nuts.

But I know a fake New York cop when I see one.  And when we sat down to wait for our pregnant lady pills, enjoying our popcorn and pop, the pharmacist commented that all we needed was a movie.

So I said, "I thought I just saw Hal Linden.  Maybe he could come back and do a show."

"Yeah, that was him," said the pharmacist.  "He comes in here a lot."

"Are you kidding?" exclaimed Mrs. Sarcasm, now sounding disappointed I was not nuts.

Now, I do not live in what anyone would describe as a celebrity mecca, but apparently this particular CVS is something of a magnet for the rich and sort-of famous.  Perhaps because it's close to an expensive stretch of beach and the pharmacist respects their privacy.  I rethought that after the pharmacist ticked off a list of who's who that you might have heard of, or know of someone who might be related to someone else.

People like Hal Linden.  The Cake Boss's mom.  Enzo Ferrari, owner of Ferrari. Some cat who apparently owns all the car dealerships in Florida.  I'm sure there would have been more, but our prescription was ready.

This isn't our regular store.  In fact, we live on the other side of town, but if this writing and flying thing doesn't work out, maybe I'll have a go as a paparazzo. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Announcing The Small Tales Anthology

Lack of blogging doesn't mean inactivity.  Today I put a crib together.  All by myself.  Wouldn't my father-in-law be impressed?  And he wasn't even there to tell me how to use an Allen Wrench.  (I'll bet he doesn't even know who Allen was, which puts us on equal ground.)

I have also been busy working on another project.  A secret project.  Be it secret no more!

Below is the official press release.

Welcome! The Small Tales Editorial Board is super excited today to announce the kick off of our project. So what is the project, exactly? Small Tales is a new anthology of cross-genre short stories. And we're open to submissions.

Small Tales is run by writers, for writers.  We are Sierra Godfrey, Linda Leszczuk, MC Howe, Vince Ferraro, and Mike Chen.

Small Tales will be published electronically, and will feature short stories up to 5000 words in length (excepting erotica and poetry). The idea is to present good fiction, laid out in easy to read style, in PDF or e-reader format.

Small Tales will be published in August 2011. We're really excited about putting together a collection of good fiction, and would love your submission. See our Submissions page for info on submitting.

Have any questions about Small Tales, how was it formed, or what the process will be? Leave a comment!

So head on over to the Small Tales Blog for more info and then start writing!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big Love = Big Let Down

Why am I reviewing a TV show only people with a subscription can watch, when I've never reviewed anything before?

Because, frankly, I have nothing else to blog about.  You may have noticed its been quiet around here lately.  No excuses, just quiet.

If you haven't seen, or heard of it (if so, why are you still reading) Big Love was an HBO television series about a polygamist family and the struggles that come with "practicing the principle of plural marriage."   Not strictly Mormon, they followed the teachings of Mormon founder Joseph Smith to the letter, especially the one that said a man had a celestial obligation to have more than one wife. 

Bill Henrickson was the head of the family, the priesthood holder, which is their way of saying he made the rules because he had a cosmic hot-line to the Heavenly Father.  He had three wives and between them, lots of kids.  During the five seasons of Big Love, we saw the Henrickson clan fight moral battles against both the foes and proponents of plural marriage, the latter being the nuts from a town called Juniper Creek, based on the real life town of Colorado City, Arizona, where I have visited.  The former included regular Mormons (the Henricksons live in Utah, for goodness sakes) like their neighbors Pam and Carl.  Pam is the BFF to Bill's third wife Margene, while Carl resents everything Bill and his family stand for, fearing Margene's influence on Pam.

Bill owns a successful home improvement store, but increasingly branches out to diversify.  The problem is he keeps getting involved in more and more public enterprises, always putting his family in jeopardy, since polygamy is all illegal and stuff.  Well, Bill finally goes over the deep end when he gets elected to the Utah state senate, announces he is a polygamist and vows to end the persecution of polygs.

Things go downhill from there.  The stores start losing business.  Bill's kids get beat up at school and his marriage(s) suffer(s).  When it is revealed that his third wife was only 16 when he married her, he faces charges of statutory rape, expulsion from the Senate and the goofballs from Juniper Creek come gunning for him, literally.

Still with me?

Good, cause that was all setup for this. 

Okay, Spoiler Alert

With all this looming over their heads, the producers of Big Love had a pretty tall order to wrap everything up Sunday night.  Would Bill go to jail?  Would the prophet of Juniper Creek send Bill to an early meeting with Heavenly Father?  Would the marriage survive?  Would he get impeached? 

No to all of the above.

In the end, they avoided everything by having Carl the neighbor, who had been in all of like, two scenes the entire series, and who's previous claim to fame was being Jerry Seinfeld's pool guy, Ramon, shoot Bill because he was mad that Bill took it upon himself to re-sod Carl's lawn while he was out of town.

Major cop-out.  Great writers know how to get their hero out of a jam.  And while a lot of other reviews have praised this ending as brilliant, I call foul.  Yeah, yeah...nice little epilogue at the end with the family still together, the Sister Wives having bonded stronger than ever in the wake of Bill's death, but come on!  Carl!?!  Or should I say, Ramon the pool guy?  After all the great villains this show has produced over the years to have such a nobody off our hero leaves me still asking why all these days later.

Anyway Big Love is over and I'm not having withdrawals, so I guess, from that standpoint, it ended well.  Seinfeld said you should always leave them wanting more, but I don't think he meant more Ramon.

That's it for me!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fun With My Father-in-law...

...Wait.  That's not right.

You Can't Use Sarcasm. He Doesn't Get It.

No.  That doesn't quite capture the essence.  I know.

Things I'm More Than Capable Of But Have No Desire To Do So The Mrs. Calls In Her Dad?

Or maybe...

I Am A Moron Just Like His Own Son.

Too obvious.

Put Down The Damn Sudoku Puzzle!

How about,

Do You Want To Go Anywhere?  No I'm Fine.  What Do You Want To Eat?  Whatever You Want Is Fine.  Is There Anything You'd Like To Do While You're Here?  I'm Fine.

Getting close.

24 Hours Without Sleep.  Flew All Night Across The Country So I Could Get Home In Time To Drive Him Back To The Airport.

One more.  I think this is it.

Here For A Week.  Need A Week To Recover.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lost In Translation

Due to the nature of my job, I often depart hotels buck early.  Way before anyone has taken their first morning breath, let alone contemplated breakfast.  On days such as these, my airline has contracted our hotels to provide a bagged breakfast, which usually consists of fruit, yogurt, a bagel or danish and some juice.

This past Saturday was just such a day.  But when I asked the front desk clerk for my brown bag, he gave me a sheepish grin and told me they only provide them before 6 AM.  I pointed out that my watch read 5:50.  His answered with a shrug that one or two minutes doesn't count.  Quite certain those minutes do count, I reminded him of his contractual obligation.  He then told me I could get something in the restaurant.  When I asked if the restaurant was open, knowing full well my contract entitled me to a bagged snack, he shrugged again.  This was not an answer, so I prodded further. 

"The restaurant opens at six," he said.

"But I have to be on the van to the airport at six.  Which is why you are required to provide my snack before six."

"You can go in at 5:45."

I was dubious, to say the least.  This now put things before six, and he should still be required to offer a snack.  Besides, you can't very well enter a restaurant at 5:45 and be expected to have completed your meal by six.  He finally relented, allowing me to take a single granola bar/and or a piece of fruit and a beverage.  I shouldn't have been so grateful, but at least I didn't try to make off with a morning salad and pint of ice cream like one of the flight attendants.

Still, there was something this hotel clerk had in common with the next food service professional that gave me pause.  Both were from India. (I surmised this.  They could have been Pakistani, or from elsewhere in that region, but neither seemed to be a local.  And both spoke with heavy accents.)

Whilst paying for a sandwich at Subway, I noticed apple pie on the menu.  This intrigued me, and I inquired about the pie.  What size was it?  What was it's shape?  Was it baked or fried (like the old McDonald's apple pies before they became "healthy.")

"I don't sell those," she said.

"But they're on your menu," I pointed out.

"Some things I don't sell," she said.  "Sometimes I do.  Today I don't."

Somethings, even the obvious, aren't so much.  Even when printed in ink, or tiny plastic letters, you'd better be sure to ask.  And if you want a delicious apple pie, (she did at least confirm they are like the old McDonald's apple pies) you'd better plan a trip to Europe.  At least as of ten years ago, you could still get them there. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Day With Captain Personality

I've blogged a great deal about my job as a pilot, and the many characters I'm forced to endure in the tight enclosure called the cockpit (also known as the box office, but only with an all female crew.)  The latest was a guy possessing the ability to enhance the mundane in the already boring.

What I've never done is detail a typical day in the life.  That's difficult, because no days are typical.  I could be gone for days at a time, beginning in one hotel and ending in another.  I might only fly one leg and have the rest of the day to myself.  Or, as was the case this past Monday...

7:30 - Wake up.  Feel Mrs. Sarcasm's belly for baby movement.  Nothing.  This kid likes to shy away from me.

7:30 - 8:00 - Enjoy a bowl of Apple Jack's and Charlie Sheen's morning show meltdown.

8:30 - Mrs. Sarcasm leaves for work.  I promise to call the drug company to straighten out a billing issue and deposit a check into savings at the ATM  At least I think she said savings.

8:45 - Retrieve floor steamer from attic. (Tile floors have silicone streaks thanks to runaway grout sealer.)

9:10 - Determine steamer isn't getting the job done.

9:15 - 9:25 - Research cleaning solutions.

9:25 - Discover solution.  Determine it to be more labor intensive than time allotted.

9:30 - Watch Smallville on TiVo.

10:20 - Curse Smallville producers for wasting one of the final episodes in a rip-off of The Hangover.  Watch The Big Bang Theory.  Applaud brilliant ending.

10:40 - Shower

10:50 - Remember promise to call drug company.  Call drug company.

11:00 - Lunch

11:15 - End call with drug company.

11:20 - Leave for work.

11:30 - Stop at ATM.  Deposit check into checking.  Remember it was supposed go to savings.

11:31 - Transfer funds.  Pat myself on the back for getting it right.

12:00 - Arrive at airport.

12:20 - Arrive a plane.  Scheduled departure is 13:00.  No captain in sight.  Begin preflight checks.

12:40 - Complete preflight checks.  Still no captain.  Consider calling Crew Scheduling.

12:45 - Boarding complete.  Captain arrives.  No explanation.  No apology.  No nice to see you.  States that this will be his leg to fly the plane.  Seems to have forgotten his personality.

12:50 - Depart gate.  Captain follows bizarre taxi route to the runway.

12:56 - Arrive at runway.  Captain complains of the long line for takeoff.  Says it looks like we'll be waiting a while.  I mutter that some of us have already been waiting a while.

13:12 - Takeoff.

13:25 - Captain tells me I look like this one actor, but can't remember who.  I ask what he's been in.  He says Fargo.  I shake my head in disappointment.  People used to tell me I looked like Tom Cruise.

Faster than you can jump off a couch I've gone from this...
To this.

14:00 - Captain tells me my shoes are in violation of company policy.  Pulls out manual and opens to the page on footwear, which, for some reason, he has bookmarked.  I tell him he can report me when we get to Boston and I'll get off the trip.  He decides my shoes are okay.  (because they are.)

14:15 - Captain stinks up the cockpit with a can of Tuna.

14:16 - Captain chokes on tuna.  Spends next twenty minutes coughing.

14:45 - I take a bathroom break so I can get away from the tuna smell and the coughing.  Get a lemonade and some M&M's.

14:50- Still choking.

(At 15:00 I did something I'm not going to write about, lest the FAA figures out who I am.  When finished, I was caught up on the previous day's events.)

15:58 - After approaching too high and too fast, captain lands in Boston.

16:02 - Arrive at gate.

16:03 - Captain discovers cockroach in his flight bag.  Declares it is pregnant and freaks out.  Bristles at the suggestion he brought it from home.

16:04 - Captain leaves, announcing he'll be back "later."

16:05 - Begin preflight.

16:20 - Call home.  Find out deposit was supposed to go into checking.

16:40 - Captain returns.  Announces he stuffed his face with Japanese food and two ice cream cones.

16:42 - Decides he must check my work for accuracy.  I let him know it was not only accurate, but done on time.

16:58 - Leave gate.  He turns the wrong way and screws up the flow of airport ground traffic.

17:08 - My leg.  Flawless takeoff.

17:50 - Captain begins crossword puzzle.

18:25 - Captain begins nap.

20:08 - I execute near perfect landing.  Told our gate is occupied.  Expect 40 minute wait.  Shut down engines.

20:40 - Still waiting.  Try Family Feud demo on new phone.  Won't load.  Try Sims Demo.  Sim won't go where I want him to.

21:07 - Arrive at gate.  Shut down plane.

21:50 - Arrive home.  Listen to baby's heartbeat.  Still not kicking for me.

22:00 - Eat meatballs and mashed potatoes much later than I prefer.  Finally watch last week's The Office and Parks and Recreation.

23:00 - Nighty-night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Truth Behind The Lie

Apparently I'm not a very good liar.  Most people were spot on that I had not, in fact, taken third place in the Seventh Annual Coconut Scramble.  To my knowledge there is no Coconut Scramble.  But shouldn't there be?

The rest was true.  I am a loud ice chewer and walk like a duck.  At least I used to.  Not with a waddle or anything, but my toes have always pointed out.  This actually turned out to be a legitimate ailment, which has been treated and has had pleasant side effects.  It has not, however, curbed my need for incessant foot tapping, often when the music is only in my head.

Fun Story:

For my first airline job I was based at Washington National, just across the river from D.C., an airport steeped in paranoia in the days after 9/11.  Back then, there were all kinds of security procedures in place to create the illusion of safety.  One of the safety protocols was the use of a secret code word the pilots had to provide before entering Washington's airspace.  This was rather silly because any bad guy with a radio only had to listen to all the pilots saying the same random word unrelated to anything else in the transmission.

Fun Story within a Fun Story:
The secret word changed every day, and was provided to the captain, who would then tell the first officer.  One day the word was frog.
Fun Story within a Fun Story within a Fun Story:
I used to fly with a guy from the tiny African nation, Eritrea.  His English was impeccable, but I learned he did not have a handle on homonyms.  If the word was 'horse' for example, I would write it down as 'hoarse.'  He would freak out that I was going to say the wrong word, and we might have to divert. Because...
The captain told the first officer the word was frog.  The first officer responded, "Dog?" and the captain said, "No.  Frog.  You know, ribbet."  When it came time to enter the airspace and say the word, the first officer said, "Ribbet," and they had to divert.
So you can see how tense it can get.  Well, I was brand new and tapping my foot to the soundtrack in my head.  At about 500 feet as we were about to land we encountered windshear, a sudden burst of wind that can be quite hazardous when close to the ground.  It's something we train for extensively, and since I was fresh out of training, assumed it must happen all the time.  Not so much.  We aborted the landing and climbed to a safe altitude, avoiding all the monuments we're not supposed to fly over, all the while my foot kept tapping.  Somewhere in the middle of it all, the captain, who was flying the airplane, yelled at me to stop tapping my damn foot because it was making him nervous.  Not the windshear that could have killed us.

But for that moment, he was unforgettable.  Unlike the guy in my next post...