Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flight 666 to Hell, Pt. 2

So this is the second part of my story of how I managed to get home despite the best efforts of the airline companies. (Read Part One here).

So now I’m checking into my hotel, which is called the Sleep Inn. I now realize that the reason they call it the Sleep Inn is that sleeping is literally the only thing you can do there. It was not exactly Caesars Palace (or even Caesar’s outhouse for that matter). So I’m checking in at the front desk with the concierge, who is clearly upset that some idiot had the nerve to actually stay at her hotel. I’m pretty sure the only reason this hotel exists is because of the incompetency of Phoenix International Airport. It’s like a love motel, except instead of going there to get screwed by your mistress, you go there to get screwed by US Airways. The only people I ever saw in the building were the workers and one of the other travelers who had missed the Kona flight.

Of course, it was barely past noon at this point, and I was stuck in this place until 11:30 the next morning, so I figured I would make the most of it. Instead of moping around in my hotel room, I was going to go explore an area that I might never come back to, absorb the culture and sights and experience what made this city truly unique. So I went to the hotel bar.

You see, I had no car and my toe still hurt so I didn’t want to walk very far (and even if I did want to walk, apparently nobody in Phoenix has ever heard of sidewalks). So I was restricted to the tourist attractions that were in the immediate vicinity of my hotel bed. As far as I could tell, that consisted of lots of cactuses and dirt. I was sort of hoping to catch a cop in action enforcing one of Arizona’s many racist immigration laws, but I wasn’t that lucky.

So after a drinking for a while, I realized that it was still barely even 3 p.m. Then I tried the hot tub before realizing scalding chlorinated water was probably not the best thing for my bloody toe, and eventually settled for watching TV in my room. Luckily at that moment, Avatar was on HBO, which meant I had a diversion for at least the next four hours. Speaking of which, falling asleep while watching Avatar after drinking is going to lead to some very strange dreams. And for your sake that is as much as I’m going to say about that particular subject.

Anyway, when I woke up I suddenly realized that I hadn’t eaten anything for almost ten hours. Planes don’t give away food for free anymore, even if you are flying at lunch time, as I was. In fact, planes charge you for everything these days. There are now coin slots where the emergency oxygen masks come out. So I looked at the room service menu before quickly deciding that I was not going to pay $25 for a hotel sandwich.

Unfortunately, the only place to eat within walking distance was a Denny’s. Now, I had been at Denny’s only two nights before to say goodbye to a friend. Human beings are not designed to eat at Denny’s more than twice a month, and here I was eating it twice in one week. What made it worse is that I was the only guy in the entire restaurant the whole time I was eating. It was so depressing at one point I just slammed my forehead into my plate of Moons Over My Hammy.

I was so tired from my ordeal that I got home from dinner at 7 and was asleep by 7:30. That is, until my alarm went off one hour later, because I had accidentally set my alarm for 8:30 p.m. instead of a.m., which meant I was running around in a dark hotel room trying to get ready for a shuttle that was not going to leave for another twelve hours. I think it was around this point that what little sanity I had flew out the window (when of course Phoenix air traffic control told it to wait on the runway for another hour).

The next morning I headed down to the lobby to eat the continental breakfast. I love how hotels always brag that they have free continental breakfast. Of course it should be free; all it consists of is stale bagels, generic cereal and a waffle maker that never quite cooks the waffles enough. Plus, considering I was paying $65 for a hotel room I should never have had to rent in the first place, I hardly considered it free.

Finally, I hopped into the shuttle and once again arrived at Phoenix airport to see how they could possibly mess up my travel plans today. Thankfully, aside from some confusion about seating and a last-minute gate change, my plane left without any further problems. Six hours later I finally landed in Kona, where I proceeded to French kiss the tarmac. Sure, I looked like hell since I hadn’t been able to shave or change my clothes in a day, but I was home. But next time I want to travel, I’m riding a donkey. After all, if I have to deal with asses when I travel, it might as well be one that doesn’t talk.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Flight 666 to Hell, Pt. 1

Now, my friends always used to tell me that one day karma would catch up to me for all the horrible things I’ve done and I would end up being struck by lightning, hit by a bus and eaten by a bear at the same time while suffering from syphilis. Unfortunately, this past weekend karma had an even crueler fate in store for me: airline travel.

Now, let’s start off this story where all stories begin: with drunken French people. I was at a party the night before I flew home when one of them accidentally kicked my one healthy big toe and ripped my toenail off. Now, just as a refresher, the same exact thing had already happened to my other toe. So now, I had two gimpy toes and I was about as mobile as a truck with square wheels.

On top of that, the weather, which had been nice all week, decided to turn on me and start snowing. So I’m sitting at a bus stop by myself crying in the snow at 4 in the morning in shorts and slippers with toilet paper wrapped around my toe. You couldn’t have taken a sadder picture unless you threw kittens into a pot of boiling water.

Anyway, I finally get on my US Airways 8 a.m. flight to Phoenix and we begin taxiing to the runway. But while we are sitting on the runway, our pilot comes over the intercom. I’ve been flying often enough to know that it is never a good thing when the pilot comes over the intercom. He never announces anything good, like the flight attendants are giving out free backrubs. No, he is always announcing in the most soothing voice he can muster that something is wrong with the plane, but don’t worry, it is a minor problem. It is always a minor problem. The right engine could be on fire and the left wing could have fallen off over the Pacific Ocean and they would say it was a minor problem.

Anyway, the pilot came on and announced that due to fog in Phoenix, we were not allowed to take off. Instead, we sat on the plane for two hours, and the flight attendants wouldn’t let us recline our chairs or put down our tray tables, because that would upset the airline gods. Now, my connecting flight was supposed to leave Phoenix at 11:45, so with the delay I was cutting it very close. Luckily, or so I thought, we finally took off and it appeared I would still be able to make my flight.

Now, you experienced travelers are laughing heartily to yourself. “Haha,” they are saying. “Nothing ever works out during holiday travel. What a cretin.” Sure enough, we land in Phoenix at 11:30, and it seems like I can still make it. Then, the pilot came on the speakers and announced that they could not find somebody to drive the rampway. After 15 more minutes, the pilot announced that they had found a driver, but the rampway was not working. This is why I like Kona airport, where there is no rampway. They just toss you out of the cabin and onto the tarmac. Sure, you are left on your own to dodge planes and baggage carts, but at least you never get stuck on the plane for 45 minutes, like I was in Phoenix. I swear, if Leslie Nielsen wasn't dead I would have bet money that I was in some sort of bad "Airplane" sequel.

I finally get off the plane, and even though I realized I have a better chance of catching a cold in hell than this flight, I decided to try and make a run for my flight. But whoever designed Phoenix International Airport needs to be stranded on an isolated island with an irritating person, like Robin Williams or Fran Drescher. To get to a different gate area, you have to leave security. And even though my connecting flight was on the same airline, I had to change gate areas. Add to this the fact my toe was limiting my movement, and by the time I get to the gate, the flight had been gone for about an hour.

In a show of maturity and manners, I proceeded to spew strings of expletives and gobs of spittle at the gate attendant while gesturing at them with my bloody slipper, which I still had in my hand because I had not bothered to put it back on since I got molested at the security checkpoint. The gate attendant then told me there wasn’t another flight to Kona until the next day, and told me to call a hotel. Then, as I was walking away, she remarked in a sarcastic tone, “and try to show up on time this time.”

At that point I lost it. What follows is a rough estimation of what I said to her, minus several words that I omitted to keep this post family-friendly:

“Listen up, it’s not like I overslept in my soft bed and waltzed over here an hour late hoping you would make the plane wait for me. I’m late because your airline doesn’t know how to land planes in a little fog and this airport doesn’t have people to drive rampways or organize your gates. I would rather swim all the way to Kona and get eaten by sharks than ride your goddam airline ever again.”

Sure, I’m not proud of this moment. I’m normally a pretty calm guy, but traveling could make Mother Teresa shake a baby. Thankfully, my tirade scared her or something, because she gave me a slip and told me to call the number on it to get a discounted room. So I booked my room, and walked out of the airport when I realized that I had a bigger problem on my hand. I was now going to have to spend the day in… Phoenix.


To be continued…

Monday, December 13, 2010

Canadian Chicken

I’m all done with finals but I’m still here and I’m a bit bored. So I figured I would refer to the suggestion board and write about some of the things you unstable creative people have come up with when you stop taking your pills reflect on important issues. The last time I did this, I got some positive reaction from the person who put the suggestion up about the Old Spice guy. Or at least I think she liked it. She was telling me this when I was inebriated, so I can never remember the whole conversation.

Speaking of things people like to do drunk, the first suggestion is hockey played with samurai swords. Now, I’m not sure if the hockey season has started, but for our purposes let’s assume it has. Whoever wrote this suggestion also thought that this would somehow solve unemployment. I’m not sure exactly how this would work. I’m assuming they were referring specifically to the sword making industry. I mean, I’m assuming that it’s a dead profession these days, like print journalism.

Now, the addition of swords to any activity tends to do several things. Sure, it does make things more exciting, and lord knows hockey can use all the help it can get. But the problem is that swords are, brace yourself here, sharp. Hockey players hurt each other enough with their skates, I don’t think we need to help them by giving them swords.

While we’re on the subject of Canadian things, the next suggestion is: rainbow Canadian socks. Now, normally I frown upon anything Canadian, but I actually own rainbow Canadian socks. No seriously, I do. About seven years ago, my family went to Canada to visit some family friends who lived on a chicken farm in a tiny little town in British Columbia called Abbotsford. By the way, if you have never been to a chicken farm, they are actually pretty cool. You just stand next to this conveyor belt and pick up the eggs as they go by. At one point, my mother got so into the whole egg conveyor belt thing that I’m almost certain she was going to quit her job and move us to Canada to start our own egg farm. You think I’m joking. Clearly you have never met my mother.

Anyway, the family sewed us some socks out of this colorful fabric. They were maybe the warmest things in the world, and I loved them, which is saying a lot coming from a guy who wears socks maybe once a month. I used to always wear them to my high school swim meets, which brings us to the next topic, the old guy with a beard and a white van full of malevolent, giggling girls. Now, this suggestion requires a bit of background. When I was in high school, I served as a team manager for the girls water polo team along with a few other guys. We all played water polo, but our school didn’t have a boys team, so instead we just helped the girls practice and kept stats and took care of equipment. It kept us involved in the game, plus we got to skip out of school for games.

The only problem is that in order to get to the game, the eight or so girls and the four managers would pile into a fifteen-passenger van with our coach to head to the games. Now, a van is no place to coop up a whole bunch of teenagers for three hours, and apparently the guy who wrote this suggestion down agreed (and yes, I know exactly who this person is).

Now, I personally was in various states of unconsciousness for most of these rides, so I don’t remember many specific cases of malevolence. I do, however, remember one particularly odd moment. On the drive back from one game, one of the girls decided to try and put makeup on one of the guys. I have no idea why she wanted to do this and I have no idea why he let her do this, but I do know that it didn’t turn out well. For one thing, she was trying to apply it in a moving van on a windy road, plus the guy kept giggling and couldn’t keep still. Let’s just say the end result was not something you are going to see in the next issue of Vogue. I used to tease him about this, until I had a similarly unfortunate incident happen to me last year.

Finally, I have an email here from Siam that I need to address:

“Hi....I googled the word 'pitchy' as in 'the voices were a bit pitchy' and, your May 2010 blog post came up.... Although I have sung, mainly in Asia, in opera, mainly, I have never heard this term. I can sort of guess what it means, but can you tell me what it specifically means?

Thank you, Siam”

First off, I think I need to put a disclaimer at the top of the site that clearly indicates I never have any idea what I’m talking about, so facts are not my forte. But to answer your question Siam, it basically means that somebody can’t hit the right notes, i.e. “Justin Bieber is pitchy.”

If anybody else has suggestions or questions that they want me to halfheartedly answer, feel free to put them on the suggestion board or send me an email. And as for the suggestions I didn't get to, I'm writing a whole article about those, so I'm getting to it. But they need more "research."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Shakespeare In Love

So I had my only final of the semester yesterday, but before you get jealous of me, let me tell you that the final was on Shakespeare. And frankly, after one semester of studying this brilliant author’s plays, I have just one thing to say: “Kisseth mine sizable behindeth.”

First, a little background on how the hell I even got into a Shakespeare class. In order to graduate, I had to take an elective class this semester. I began asking around if anybody knew of any good elective classes when Baddie and Midget suggested I take Shakespeare with them. Figuring that since I was taking this class as a pass/fail anyway, I would just show up, fall asleep, Google the plot and then take the multiple choice test. Piece of cake.

This just proves that in four years of college, I have learned nothing. I had forgotten a key flaw in Shakespeare’s writing that made his plays so hard for me to grasp: nobody ever taught Shakespeare actual English. For such a supposedly brilliant guy he sure did make up a ton of words. For instance, I found all of these words in one passage of King Lear, and I’m certain all of them are made up: “parricides,” “alarumed,” and “ghasted.” Although some of his words do sound cool, like “exeunt.” It sounds like an inappropriate body function.

Some books have the translation, but the book we are using for this class just has footnotes, which is irritating. Do you know what my professors would call my writing if somebody had to go back over it years later and insert an explanation for every other word? “Crappy.” Plus, I don’t even understand the footnotes most of the time.

All of this means that most of the time, I have no idea what is actually going on in the play. It’s like watching Lost all over again. It’s really hard to appear intelligent during a discussion about Romeo and Juliet when you are unaware of key plot developments.

Teacher: “So what do we think about Juliet’s suicide?”

Me: “She died?”

Teacher: “Yes Mitchell, because she couldn’t stand to be without Romeo.”

Me: “Oh, she liked that guy?”

Teacher: “Do you have any idea what is going on?”

Me: “Well, the princess poked her finger on a sewing machine but then she woke up after the guy killed a dragon.”

Teacher: “Mitchell, that’s the plot to Sleeping Beauty.”

In fact, to this day the only plot I understand is the one from Twelfth Night, and that is only because the movie She’s the Man is based off of it. Don’t ask me why I have seen that movie. It’s none of your darn business. But it was a very manly reason.

As you can see, I know as much about Shakespeare as Paris Hilton knows about underwear. But then there are some people who know a lot about Shakespeare and choose to quote it constantly. And they always say the passage and line that it came from, as if this will somehow make their point that much better. And they find any occasion they can to do this, and it almost never even made sense. I could ask them a simple question and they will respond by saying something like, “Well, as Ophelia said in Hamlet, act two, scene three, line twenty, ‘Where is thine horse?’” I mean, you don’t see me constantly quoting The Door’s songs when I talk to people even though Jim Morrison was way cooler than Shakespeare, in the sense that he did way more recreational drugs.

Anyway, luckily for us this class didn’t really require you to actually read the books. Instead of testing us on what happened in the book, our professor just gave us a passage and asked us to say what it meant. I mean, this isn’t much easier. If you could dig Shakespeare out of his grave today even he would probably have no idea what he meant. But as a journalism major, I am used to writing a lot about things I know absolutely nothing apart. This site is a very good example.

I actually got a perfect score on an entry I did where I basically said that Shakespeare was writing about some guy’s balls. Of course, when the professor tried to get me to explain my revelation to the entire class, I pretended I had no idea what she was talking about. I’m not going to stand in front of a room and say that the first thing that popped into my mind when I read a passage was nuts.

Anyway, none of us are really sure how we did in that class. Continents drift faster than our teacher grades work. So in the meantime, we had to get creative with how to occupy ourselves, and thankfully that’s when Pumpkin showed up. Now, this guy’s wardrobe was ridiculous. He would always wear a hat that matched his outfit, and often in ridiculously bright colors like green and orange (hence the nickname). Even Maddie was impressed by how well his clothes matched, and this is coming from someone who chose to freeze in the cold because her winter jacket didn’t match her shirt. So we started trying to guess the color of his outfit every class and totaling points. As far as who won? Well, to quote Iago from Othello, act three, scene one, line 55, “I don’t remember.”


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fantasy Island

Sports-wise, I’m a little depressed today. My fantasy football team lost.

Fantasy sports, particularly fantasy football, have taken off in the past few years to the point where they might be bigger than the actual games themselves. “Fantasy football” used to just mean you sat there on the couch and fantasized about the Detroit Lions ever winning a game again. Now, it is a billion dollar industry that tons of Americans waste their afternoons playing.

Now, I’m upset that I lost this past week, because it was a very important game. I’m in a league with a bunch of my friends, so of course, as with anything I do with my friends, I want to crush them. I want to be able to do an exotic victory dance in front of them at parties to both embarrass them and alert nearby females as to what a classy stud-muffin I am (although since I am Irish, I prefer “stud-scone”).

Unfortunately, the women will have to wait, because my fantasy football team laid an egg this week. It’s actually a little more humiliating when your fantasy team loses as opposed to the real teams. When the real football team you root for loses, you technically had nothing to do with it. You instead get to blame the people that actually contributed to the defeat: the players, the coaches, Tim Tebow, the referees, Obama and God (hey, if He gets credit for wins He has to take the blame for losses; it’s only fair big guy). Whereas you assembled your fantasy team, so you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Thankfully, even though I lost, I’m still in the playoffs. This is actually unusual because I tend to suck at fantasy football. The only time I ever won a league was a fantasy baseball one this summer, and I think that was mainly because the fantasy baseball season is really long and everybody else just stopped playing or died.

Anyway, there are several reasons that I am not good at fantasy sports. For one, I know a lot about sports, but I am not a big numbers guy. Some fans see a player and can rattle off important stats and information. My evaluations of players tend to be more general. For instance “that guy sucks,” or “He couldn’t catch crabs at a Red Lobster.” Numbers are very important in fantasy sports. In fact, there are countless number crunching nerds that we real sports fans use to make fun of in high school that are now making lots of money telling fantasy players what to do on ESPN.

The other reason is that I tend to let my emotions get in the way. For instance, I am a big Jacksonville Jaguars fan, so I tend to draft Jaguars players even though scientific studies have proven that Jaguars players were never actually taught how to play football. I also tend to skip over players that I personally do not like. Unfortunately, as a jealous non-athlete, I tend to dislike all fast, strong, successful athletes. I tend to root for the slow underdogs, which is how my fantasy team ends up being 75% kickers.

Some people take days to prepare their drafts, getting together with their friends and organizing comprehensive lists of players and back-up options. I tend to forget when my drafts are taking place. Take my last few drafts. My baseball league was filled with people primarily in Hawaii, and was scheduled for 6 pm Hawaii Time. Four time zones away though, I was soundly asleep. Then I was in a basketball league, but the draft took place after I came back from the bars. So in my drunken haze, I drafted ten centers and used my first round pick on J.J. Redick, who is 6’4”, white, scores about 4 points a game and is about as athletic as a pile of Play-Doh. I was completely awake and sober for my football draft, but I was too busy talking smack on the chat room smack-board to actually draft players to back up my smack-talk.

But I’m in the playoffs anyway, and I’m guaranteeing a victory right here. I even have my victory speech ready:

“I’d like to thank my CPA, who handled all the number crunching. I have to give credit to my internet connection, which allowed me to make several key pickups before anybody else noticed. Oh, and God.”