Sunday, January 04, 2015

Travel Tips for winter

Traveling is a nightmare anyway, but during the winter it gets even worse. But fear not, blog faithful. Here are some suggestions for winter air travel:

Check the weather forecast. If it’s not 72 degrees and clear EVERYWHERE in the United States, reschedule.

Do not call the airline for a weather update. You’ll learn it’s cool and overcast in New Delhi.

Allow two hours before the flight, ten hours for the tarmac, two hours for the unscheduled fuel stop, and two hours to retrieve your luggage. And if you’re flying from LA to San Francisco, 45 minutes for the flight itself.

If you print your ticket on one of those self-help stations realize that the chances of it working are the same as five cherries coming up on a slot machine.

Best to print your ticket at home the night before along with the flight schedules of every other airline going to your destination, airport shuttle schedules, Amtrak schedules, and the 1-800 numbers for Ramada, Holiday Inn, Hilton, Marriott, Quality Inn, Best Western, and the YMCA.

Never turn in your rental car until it’s the final boarding call on your flight.

Never fly to, from, or around Chicago.

Always use skycaps. And if you choose to ever see your luggage again, tip.

Remember: “the white zones are for assholes in SUV’s only”.

You are allowed several little three-ounce bottles of something but not one three-and-a-half-ounce bottle of the same thing.

You might want to put that Astroglide into a nondescript little bottle.

Don't book connecting flights in the winter, even in Hawaii.

Don't buy furniture off the Sky Mall.

Don’t have children if you plan on flying anytime in the next fifteen years. Even if it’s one trip.

If they announce they’re overbooked and are looking for volunteers to take a later plane for free trips take it. The flight is going to be cancelled anyway. And you’ll have a jump at getting reservations at the airport Hilton.

Have your laptop, ipod, cellphone, iphone, Gameboy, Blackberry, camcorder, transistor radio, electric razor, hand held fan, and pacemaker fully charged. Ten hours on the tarmac is a long time.


Before you get on the flight take Airbourne, water, Xanex, Oscillococcinum, Clariton, Ambien, and tequila.

Fake a limp so you can pre-board and guarantee there will be room in the overhead compartments for your stuff.

Bring your own DVD’s, music selection, food, blankets, pillows, reading light, water, magazines, newspapers, coffee, toilet paper. And just to be on the safe side, your own oxygen masks and floatation devices.

But it’s not a good time to catch up on the first season of LOST.

Play the drinking game. Take a swig every time you hear “we apologize for the inconvenience”. Not recommended for those unwilling to get completely shitfaced.

Drinking game #2: “We thank you for your patience.”

Don’t kid yourself. EVERYONE is flying “stand by”.

The scary part used to be the landing. Now it’s pushing off from the gate.

Beware of free WIFI hotspots in airport terminals. Hackers use these to break into your computer. Not a joke.

It’s quieter and smoother in the front of the plane. And screw what they say, if you’re in Coach and you want to use the bathroom go to the ones in First Class.

And finally, always remember: it’s NEVER the airlines' fault. It’s the weather, air traffic controllers, mechanical problems, baggage handler strike, FAA rules, homeland security, airport restrictions, lawmakers, the billy goat curse, lunar eclipses, and most of all -- the media.

This is a re-post from six years ago.  Unfortunately, nothing's changed.


jcs said...

I read somewhere that SIMON & SIMON - a childhood favourite of mine - was almost entirely shot in LA after season 1 due to budget restraints. Do you know of other budget cuts that significantly changed the character of a TV show?

MikeK.Pa. said...

I've had the misfortune of sleeping overnight in O'Hare and Hartsfiel (missed my connecting flight late at night and outbound flight was early next morning, so checking into a motel for a quick 4-5 hour sleep didn't make sense). Would also avoid Stapleton (Denver) or any of the NYC area airports during winter.

Took a flight to Florida two months ago. It was a low-fare airline flying from an airport 15 minutes from my home. No worries about traffic to the airport or long-term parking. Hadn't flown in 3-4 years. Everything went smoothly until five minutes before we were to pull away from the gate. A bomb scare was called in. Had to leave everything on the plane as we were escorted off. Two hours later, we took off - after going through TSA checkpoint again. Coming back from Florida the plane was delayed an hour due to weather in MSP where plane was coming from.

Feel sorry for anyone who travels regularly by plane for business.

Roseann said...

I indeed faked a limp on my last flight so I could board early and have room in the overhead for my Zuca. It worked like a charm. I hope I have the nerve to do it again.

One More Question said...

Friday question: I was having a discussion with myself in my head last night about whether certain characters could only have worked, or become iconic, with the actors who in fact played them, due to one of those cosmic convergences where the character found its soulmate actor.

For example, I feel like Diane Chambers, the Crane brothers, Urkel, and Columbo could not have become iconic with any other actors iin the role. I don't know if Archie Bunker, Ralph Kramden, and Fonzie (the later version, not the first season Fonzie) could have worked at all with any other actor.

Do you think there are characters that, no matter how well-written, can only work or become iconic with just that one soulmate actor who was born to play them? Or is there always another actor out there who can give that character that special quality that makes it work or break out?

One More Question said...

Addendum to Friday question above: Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper!

Lila said...

The others I know, but who in the world is Urkel?

Todd Everett said...

Lila: now's a good time to learn how to Google.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

One More Question: your mention of Archie Bunker as a character that could only work with the actor who played him is ironic given that ALL IN THE FAMILY was based on a British show (TIL DEATH DO US PART) and Archie Bunker was a translated lift of the equally iconic Alf Garnett, played by Warren Mitchell, who was every bit as seamlessly welded into that character as O'Connor. So you picked a character that actually *was* played by a different actor - with the same level of success.

btw, there's a conversation about this very same topic going on at Earl Pomerantz's blog.

Captcha tries yesterday: 15

Matt said...

Ignore Todd. He's constipated this morning and is a little cranky. Urkel was a character on the series FAMILY MATTERS, which had a long run on ABC Friday nights. Created as a one-shot character, Urkel became a series regular and quickly came to dominate the series. Stereotypically nerdy and intelligent, but accident-prone and the cause of many a slapstick disaster.

Hamid said...

I just hope I'm never on a flight with passengers like this:

Lila said...

Oh, okay, I remember Urkel now. Thanks, Matt. I never cared for FAMILY MATTERS and didn't watch the show very often.

One More Question said...

Wendy, I don't think Alf Garnett is quite the same character, nor is Til Death Us Do Part quite the same show, and I think if you dropped Alf Garnett into All in the Family (adjusting for accent and topics obviously), All in the Family would not have worked.

I'll have to go see what's going on over on the Earl Pomeranz blog.

One More Question said...

Wendy, I checked out the Pomerantz blog. Interesting. His piece takes it from the other side - an actor who can only make it work with one character, rather than a character that would only work with one actor, but it's an equally interesting question. And I guess I need to add George and Kramer to my list of characters that I'm not sure would have worked with another actor. And Reverend Jim, Latka, Ted Baxter. I wonder if there is some unique quality to the actors that made these characters work or if I'm just romanticizing the actor/character union... but, that's why I asked for a second, more informed opinion (or anyone else who wants to chime in).

gottacook said...

I think Jack Cassidy would have been equally good as Ted Baxter.

I just returned from driving 850 miles each way for an Orlando FL family vacation. Even if airfare were dropping as fast as gas prices, I'd still have driven.

mmryan314 said...

Ken- 'RE: Winter travel. Those of us who live(d) in the upper Midwest had no recourse but O`Hare or surrounding airports to escape to warmer climes. In 2011, I wisely booked a January flight from Chicago to the west coast going through Dallas instead of Denver.I marveled at my own ingenuity. You guessed it- major ice storm in Dallas (football playoff time). Had a nice dinner in Chicago before I headed back home to WI.

One More Question said...

Gottacook, I agree that Jack Cassidy would have been good as a conceited anchor, but Ted is a buffoon. You think Cassidy could have, or would have, played him as a buffoon?

Canda said...

Jack Cassiday would have been a slick, arrogant, conceited news anchor, and that would have been a more interesting character. Ted Baxter, as played by Ted Knight, was such a buffoon, it was difficult to believe he would remain on the air, particularly with the professional level of everyone else at the news station.

Diane D. said...

To "One More Question": Very interesting subject for discussion. I will be very curious to see what Ken Levine says. I'm a romantic so I tend to believe there are indeed some cases where "a cosmic convergence allows a character to find it's soulmate actor" (loved that). That actor then has as much to do with the creation and development of the character as the writer does. However, from your list of possibilities, I would only have placed Diane Chambers and Kramer. I could see other actors playing the other roles (that I am familiar with).

When a character becomes so iconic, it can of course be unfortunate for the actor because it is sometimes hard to see them in any other role. I would hope it gives them comfort however, to know they had the talent to create a character for the ages (or a few decades anyway).

Breadbaker said...

There is one update required. If you load your boarding pass on your phone, bring about ten different chargers because (a) there will be no outlets to charge your phone after you pass security; (b) nine of them you'll have forgotten to charge; and (c) the line to get on the plane, with all the attendant delays, will mean your phone will run out of juice just before you're supposed to scan your phone at the gate.

Chris said...

Friday question: can you tell me something about your director of photography on Cheers, John Finger? imdb says he was born in 1925 but his only real credit is Cheers. Do you know what he did before/after?

jcs said...

Your timing is impeccable, Ken. - This just in. Several news sites, including NYT and Spiegel, mention that Etihad Airlines had passengers in at least two planes sit on the tarmac for 12 hours due to fog in Abu Dhabi. A flight to Düsseldorf arrived with 30 hrs delay. After finally taking off, a 73 year-old passenger died during the flight causing an unscheduled stopover in Vienna.

fred said...

A thing or two about your Neil Simon gig. 1) you talk a lot with your hands. 2) Jack Lemon being a bit of a whiny character in back to back movies was a bit much. I fired up the DVR for Out Of Towners. Maybe later in the week...

Over all ya done good Ken.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with Chicago, except the occasional Southwest's taking one hour to get luggage out?

VP81955 said...

IIRC, Jack Cassidy played a Ted Baxter prototype on the Paula Prentiss/Richard Benjamin series "He And She" in 1967-68.

Kaleberg said...

I can't say for television, but Orson Wells was the perfect Falstaff in Chimes at Midnight. Obviously, there have been other perfect Falstaffs over the centuries.

Air travel has gotten ridiculous, but it is still pretty amazing. We flew to Australia. It took 15 1/2 hours which was pretty wretched, but, hey, 8,000 miles, 15 1/2 hours. Pretty amazing.

Jeff said...

For me, the problem with arguing that any of the characters named -- the ones I'm familiar with, anyway -- could only have worked because of the actors who played them is strictly supposition. We don't know how anyone else would have played those parts, so it's impossible to say that the only reason that, say, Diane Chambers worked as a character is because Shelley Long was cast in the part. Not to knock Shelley at all. She was wonderful, and it's impossible to imagine anybody else as Diane. And that's the problem. These characters are so identified with the actors who played them that even trying to imagine somebody else in one of the roles is virtually impossible. It puts the actors we might cast in imaginary alternate casting at a huge disadvantage. One they can't win. I believe Ken has mentioned that Julia Duffy was one of the actors in the running to play Diane. Thinking of her in the part today, we automatically think, "No, no, no. She'd have been all wrong. She'd never have been as good a 'Diane' as Shelley was." But who's to say? If Julia had gotten the part instead of Shelley, and we'd spent thirty years seeing her as Diane Chambers, we very likely would be sitting here arguing that Shelley Long could never have played Diane like Julia did.

I'm not sure how well I explained any of that, but it was very clear in my head. LOL.

What I'm trying to say is that playing this kind of imaginary alternate casting is putting the alternate actors you'd cast in these roles -- only to turn around and argue that they couldn't have made the roles in question "work" or make them "iconic" like the actors who actually did play those parts and have been closely associated with those parts for decades -- well, it's a game they can't possibly win. Of course nobody else could ever be Frasier but Kelsey Grammer. We've seen him in the part for thirty years. It's unimaginable. But that's not to say the character would never have worked or become "iconic" if another actor had been cast in the role. There's no way to ever know that.

Steve said...

It didn't go viral, but this shows you have fans at Virgin America:

Speaking of winter travel, no need to fake a limp to board early. On our airline at least, we're not there to size you up and sneer, "Hmm, you don't look disabled to me! I bet you're faking! Or is that your disability? That you're a chronic liar!" We'll just take your word for it. Many disabilities and conditions aren't visible to the naked eye, anyway. However, if you abuse this early boarding and aren't actually disabled, karma will place screaming, colicky infants around you on your next ten flights. Trust me on this.

Anonymous said...

Jack Cassady couldn't have been Ted Baxter.
He was Ted's brother.

Diane D. said...

To Jeff: You said, "We don't know how anyone else would have played a part, so it's impossible to say that the only reason that, say, Diane Chambers worked as a character is because Shelley Long was cast in the part." You're right, we don't know how, for example, Julia Duffey would have played the part, but we do know she would not have played it the same. Would it have worked, or worked as well if it had been played differently? I can't believe it. Shelley Long was born to play Diane Chambers. Some one else created the character, but Shelley Long made her iconic. (IMHO)

VP81955 said...

There also are many movie equivalents of "who could've played who." For example, in early 1936, Universal planned to have Constance Bennett as the female lead in its comedy "My Man Godfrey" -- but when William Powell was hired as the title character, he wanted nothing to do with the flighty Connie. So he suggested his ex-wife Carole Lombard (with whom he'd been on good terms since their split). Carole delivered arguably her signature comedy performance and was nominated for an Oscar (losing to the recently-departed Luise Rainer).

As for Bennett, a capable actress who might have excelled in "Godfrey," the following year Hal Roach hired her to co-star with Cary Grant in the film adaptation of Thorne Smith's "Topper" -- and some viewed her portrayal of sexy ghost Marion Kerby as the best performance Lombard never gave. (And in 1938, Roach brought Connie back for an ersatz "Godfrey," "Merrily We Live.")

Gary said...

I agree that Diane Chambers is one of television's iconic characters, and it's inarguable that this is in large measure due to Shelley Long. I can't say it's entirely because of Shelley, because I feel it's important to recognize the men and women who were writing the excellent scripts Shelley performed every week. If she had portrayed the same character on some Miller-Boyett sitcom, at the mediocre level of writing those series stuck to, I doubt we'd be having this conversation about her. But yes, Shelley was brilliant and is in large measure responsible for making Diane such a wonderful character. It couldn't have been easy at times, given that someone like Diane could easily have come off as obnoxious and unlikeable. Shelley always brought a vulnerability to Diane that made her endearing, despite her pretensions and sometimes off-putting ways.

That said, I can't agree with the argument that no other actor could have made the character work or could have made her "iconic" -- whatever the hell that actually means. Perhaps it's because I come from a theater background. Far too many times I've seen an actor play a part so perfectly -- embody a character so completely -- bring them to life so precisely and brilliantly, that you find yourself thinking, "Well, she owns that role. Nobody will ever be able to achieve anything like that with the part." And yet, down the road, somebody else does. They may take a radically different interpretation of the part, put an entirely different spin on it. In her own way, though, she portrays the character just as well as the first actor did who played her.

Now, this is not to in any way disparage or belittle what actors like Shelley, Kelsey Grammer, Carroll O'Connor, Jackie Gleason, etc., achieved with the roles they portrayed. They were all brilliant and all very much responsible for the success of those characters and for making them work as well as they did. I just can't agree that there was no other performers in the world who could have done it.

One More Question said...

Gary, just to clarify, I'm not minimizing the contribution of the writers. Exactly the opposite. These tend to be characters that are drawn by the writers to be so original or so complex that only a lucky find of just the right actor can make them rise to a level of greatness, or, in some cases, make them work at all.

Thanks, by the way, to all who commented (if anyone is still here on the comments page still reading). I didn't really anticipate that the question would generate a lot of discussion, but I'm glad it did. You brought out a lot of interesting dimensions to this that I wasn't really thinking about. The questions of movie and theatre characters, which, I think perhaps are different in that they are not repeatedly placed in new situations with new characters every week, and which don't have the benefit of writers seeing what an actor does with the character and using it as inspiration in future writing for the character.

There is the question of a character working in context of other characters and actors (like transplanting Alf Garnett into All in the Family, which I do not think would work), which also leads to one of my favorite mysteries, chemistry - what makes it happen or not happen between characters or actors.

Anyway, enough from me. I'm interested to see what Ken says, and what the commenters on that post add, if my question makes the cut to a Friday blog.

Diane D. said...

With the outstanding writing at Cheers, the very talented Julia Duffey would have been terrific if she had gotten the part of Diane Chambers, but she wouldn't have played it the same as Shelley Long; and would we be talking about it as an iconic character now 30 years later? I don't think so. Call me a romantic, but I really do believe that there are a FEW characters that only one soulmate actor was born to play.

I understand what Gary is saying about different actors playing the same character in a play (watch Marcia Gay Harden play snippets of King Lear in "If I Were You" and you wish they would do a whole production of (Queen) Lear with her in the lead), but roles in tv sitcoms that aren't repeated is different.

When there is a cosmic convergence such as Shelley Long/Diane Chambers, just thank your lucky stars, sit back, and enjoy.

Mike said...

Dukes of Hazzard tried to get different actors to play the same role, and it totally flopped. Coy and Vance were terrible, and they had to bring back Bo and Luke. The entire cast of that show is underrated. Sorrell Booke(Boss Hogg) in Fail Safe as a Jewish senator? Roscoe ran his own acting school!

Unknown said...

Awesome post Ken! Regarding putting Astroglide in a nondescript bottle, I thought you'd appreciate this classic commercial that addresses that very issue:

Regarding things not changing since you initially posted, they do now produce Astroglide in fun "travel size" bottles! Check your G+ profile to see how I know :)