Flying Back to the Blogosphere

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WELL HELLO.  Welcome to my new blog.  It’s sort of a work in progress; so excuse the mess.  A few weeks ago, I decided that I was officially going to start blogging again, and what better way to mark my triumphant return than by engaging in one of my favorite pastimes of blogging yore:  the flight liveblog.  Or perhaps, the flightblog.  Or better yet, the flog.  


Yes, for the first time in what felt like years, I decided to pull out my laptop on a flight and blog the entire thing.  At first, I wasn’t going to do much — just dip the toes in the proverbial waters, if you will.  Why bother doing all this work if I didn’t even have a blog set up?  But when I found myself detailing the assorted highs and lows of sitting amidst a celebrity and an awful, awful family, I knew I had to find me some real estate on the Internets.  One thing led to another, and after much brainstorming/annoyingly questioning friends to no end, I decided upon this here domain name, and the rest, dare I say, is history.  Well, maybe not history.  It’s a bit presumptuous of me to act like this blog is history-worthy when this is in fact its very first entry, but IRREGARDLESS, I now have a home for my flight blog (flog), and so without further ado, I present to you my first official blog entry…

Why I’m Miserable  (The Ever So Descriptive Title I Gave This Post Whilst AIrborne)

So here’s the deal.  I’m jumping back into the blogging game.  It’s a bit earlier than I had planned, but with the writers strike completely screwing me out of any income, I figured I might as well get back in touch with my entrepreneurial roots and start up a new site.  Basically, I’m putting all my eggs in the Google Ads basket and hoping that somehow, the thirty-five cents a month I plan to cull from the service will cover my rent, car payments, COBRA, and other sundry items.  By the way, let’s just all take a moment to pause and enjoy how fun it is that COBRA is even called COBRA.  I mean, what a dangerous sounding name.  And it’s capitalized too.  I feel like it’s a veiled threat.  Like somewhere there’s someone laughing malevolently (perhaps the bad guy from Inspector Gadget) and saying, “Lost your job?  Now you must dance with the COBRA!!!!”

Okay, back on topic.  So yes, I’m relying on meager profits from Google Ads to get me through this strike.  Originally, my game plan was to try to get booked on Fox Reality for talking head gigs, but apparently, I’m not even allowed to do that.  You see, even though Fox Reality isn’t a WGA signatory, the ol’ parent company, FOX, is.  So I can’t go on the network, which is kind of fucked up because there are literally STRIKE CAPTAINS and other WGA members chatting it up on Best Week Ever, which, you know, is on VH1 and is owned by Viacom etc. etc..  Nevertheless, here I am, back in the blogosphere, grumbling about who knows what.

Actually, I’m not so much in the blogosphere as I’m in the stratosphere (rimshot).  Yes, I’m on a plane heading to New York from Los Angeles.  Remember the title of this post?  I’m not miserable because of the strike.  No, I’m miserable because I’m surrounded by a very nice, but very AWFUL family on my flight.  The mom’s to the left of me, (awful) child is behind me, and (similarly awful) dad is behind and to the left (he completes the L-shaped corner of awfulness that is his family).  To be fair, there IS a celebrity directly in front of me, but not even the reflected glory of his presence can reduce the sheer levels of anger and frustration I feel from wee Jacob and his relentless desire to kick my seat with unbridled glee.  STOP, CHILD!

Okay, let me back up a bit.

Things were looking promising when I arrived at LAX today.  Despite some idiots clogging up the self-service check-in line with their inability to realize that just because a kiosk is far away doesn’t mean it’s not open (seriously, MOVE FORWARD), my morning was pretty smooth.  I got through check-in and security in about ten minutes or less, and I didn’t once have to deal with some daffy old man who took an eternity trying to decode the mystifying process that is removing all metal objects from his pockets.  There was a slight hiccup at Burger King when the servers gave me a regular milk instead of a chocolate milk.  I didn’t realize until five minutes later because the regular milk is labeled “Hershey’s Milk.”  WTF?  Since when does Hershey’s make milk that ISN’T chocolate?  I don’t blame the Burger King workers.  I blame Hershey’s and their confusing product labels.  Okay, I blame the workers a little.  I blame everyone.

Anyhoo, I eventually settled into my chair at the gate and noshed on my cholesterolific breakfast.  I was very lucky because I held sway over an island of four chairs, and for whatever reason, no one wanted to sit next to me.  I think it was my steely cold facade.  Either that, or they didn’t want to be associated with the pig stuffing his face with tater tots and “croissantwiches” (not to mention misleading dairy products).  After about an hour, the patented celebrity parade of LAX reared its ugly (read:  pretty, wonderful, and joyful) head.  I am being a bit overdramatic because it’s not like there were any A-listers.  I did see famed über-producer Scott Rudin come bounding off a plane.  He actually looked like he was in a pleasant mood as he sauntered off with his elegant handler.  I tried not to make eye contact lest I be blacklisted from “the industry.”

Next, I saw a young actor approaching.  I didn’t know who he was, but I vaguely recognized him and immediately began scrolling through my internal CW database.  Conveniently, he asked if he could sit next to me, which made me feel cool because now my private island of chairs had been deemed exclusive and cool enough to warrant the attention of a low-level celebrity.  The downside, however, was that it was even more painful for me as I tried desperately to come up with his name or his TV show.  Fate smiled on me again, however, as the actor had to make a phone call to his cell company to clear up some business, and because the woman on the other end was deaf, dumb, or both, he had to repeat his name for her over and over again.  “Ian Sommerhalder.  Ian Somerhalder.  Ian Sommerhalder.”  Aha!  …That still meant nothing to me.  I’m not even sure if I’m spelling it correctly.  Nevertheless, it was a solid hint as to who he was (funny how NAMES do that), but again, I just could not place him.

Of course, I could have just asked him as he was very chatty with people around him.  He wasn’t a chatterbox.  He just was chatty at an appropriate level.  He even volunteered to assist an old lady with her bag (he appeared to be a very friendly person).  Nevertheless, I didn’t engage in conversation.  After all, I was the founder of Chair Island, and I wasn’t about to sacrifice my cool mystique.  What would happen if I scared away my star resident?  Surely the annoying high school girl standing nearby would swoop in and take his place, relishing her good luck to not only earn a coveted spot in MY chair island but also to fill the seat once occupied by a CW star.

Well, soon it was time to board, and Ian (we’re best friends now, as you can tell) got up to board.  It was clear that the golden age of my Chair Island seating arrangement was over, but I took comfort in seeing none other than Frank from Real World: Vegas urgently dash across the area in search of who knows what (probably booze or something to break).  I had a feeling I could get three noteworthy sightings at LAX, and with my quota reached, I refocused on new conquests:  the boarding process.

The good news was that I didn’t have to wait long to get on the plane.  The bad news was that the overhead compartment above my seat was full, which meant that I had to stow my carry-on all the way back around row 40— a highly unfortunate turn events seeing as how I was seated in the upper-echelon area of row 22 (galley adjacent).  Here’s why this annoys me.  One thing I hate is deplaning and waiting for people to get their slow-asses into the aisle and off the aircraft.  Since I’m presently throttling the boundary of business class (alas, I’m still just a plebeian in coach), egress from the plane should be fast and sweet.  However, now I have to go all the way back to row 40 claim my bag, which is not cool.  Not cool at all.  Mark my word:  there will be passive-aggressive scowls.

Still, this was just a minor annoyance.  Once I sat down, I realized I was sitting right behind Ian whatshisface, and for whatever reason, I finally had a pop culture breakthrough.  He was on Lost!  Since I don’t actually watch Lost, his starpower was a bit diminished on me, but I nevertheless patted myself on my back for having such sharp famedar.  The girl next to me was really cool.  I mean, she didn’t really speak, but that’s what made her cool.  When she did speak, she had a sophisticated blahness that seemed to say, “I’m sophisticated. Blah.”  Another woman soon boarded and even though she was yapping on her cell phone, her banter wasn’t annoying.  She sat down behind me, and for a moment, with the cool girl to my left, the cool yapper behind me, and the celebrity in front of me, I thought we’d spontaneously all break out cocktails and share stories about Les Deux and wine tasting.  It was like Chair Island ALL OVER AGAIN.  Not even the announcement that our inflight entertainment would be High School Musical 2 could dampen the mood (to be fair, the only reason that news upset me was because I’d already seen the epic film.  Yes, you heard that right).

Anyway, things were all fine and dandy when suddenly, AWFUL FAMILY arrived.  Two things I noticed right away:  1)  they were the last ones on the plane, and 2) the dad was a loud talker.  Already I was thinking to myself, “SHUT UP!”  Little did I realize that his booming, annoying voice would be just inches from my ear.  You see, this family had been bumped off another (lucky) flight, and now they were here on this plane.  In my personal area.  Talking loudly.  Well, this really shouldn’t have been a problem since I already had my cool clique of people around me, but of course, with awful families, you never get off easily.  Because the fam had been bumped onto this flight, their three seats were all scattered.  One seat was back in row 40 (near my bag, no less), one seat was around row 27, and one seat was behind me, next to cool yapper.  WELL.  Funny thing about families:  they like to stick together.  Okay, it makes sense.  The child, Jacob, was only about three or so, and as such, it probably wouldn’t have been a great idea to have him sitting in a middle seat with nary a family member in sight.  I get it.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it.  So sure enough, the parents asked cool yapper if she wouldn’t mind taking one of their scattered seats, and because no one can really say no to that, cool yapper obliged.  Like I said before, these people were very nice and said they’d buy her a drink (which they did during cocktail service), but where the hell is my cocktail for now having to sit in front of a child who seems eager to reenact Riverdance on the back of MY DAMN CHAIR?  I swear, as soon as this kid sat down, he became obsessed with doing anything that created a bang, a slap, or a thud.  That included but was not limited to:  slamming the window shade shut (because THAT’S fun), kicking my seat, slapping the tray table, kicking my seat some more, and then kicking my seat yet again.  Child, you’re AWFUL.

Even worse, the dad then asked the cool girl next to me if she was traveling alone or with someone.  Cornered, she revealed that she was traveling alone, which then led to the dad guilting her into taking his row 40 seat so that all three members of the family could sit together.  Needless to say, she did NOT want to go, but the pressures of being an upstanding citizen weighed too heavily on her.  She did the “I’m pausing for a long time to show you I’m not pleased” move, but unfortunately, it achieved no real results.  Had I been sharp, I would have announced that she was traveling with me and therefore could not leave, but sadly, I think I was so appalled by the situation that I was paralyzed with disdain.  Too bad:  it really could have been a great way to start a romantic comedy—pretending to be a couple to avoid losing seats.  Charming, yes?

So ultimately, Mom sat next to me with dad and child behind me.  I think Mom knew I was upset because she was very apologetic and super sweet.  She even said that I shouldn’t hesitate to speak up if her child were to begin kicking my seat.  I laughed warmly and said, “Don’t worry about it!” as if I didn’t mind at all the massive inconvenience this all was.  Did I mention I’m a fake-ass bastard?

Anyway, the rest of the flight so far has been a mild blur.  I’ve tried to block this family out, but I simply can’t.  What’s worse than the child is the dad, who has revealed himself to be a truly terrible disciplinarian.  If I have to hear him say, “Jacob, please stop doing that,” one more time, I’m gonna stand up, turn around, point my finger in Jacob’s face and yell, “STOP THAT RIGHT NOW OR ELSE I WILL SINGLE HANDEDLY THROW YOU INTO THE CARGO HOLD.”  Of course, this was all a warmup for the greatest test of wills:  Jacob vs. the window.  For whatever reason, the siren call of the window shade was entirely too much for Jacob to resist.  Up and down that damn thing went, and even Dad couldn’t deal with it anymore.  He dropped the polite act and replaced it with… the slightly less polite act!  “Jacob, do not do that again,” he said faux-sternly.  Of course, Jacob did it again.  Big surprise.  Hey dad, guess what?  In case you didn’t notice, your child is AWFUL and doesn’t listen to you.  So then dad did the sort of stupid thing that Supernanny always gets her panties in a bunch about:  he made an unenforceable pseudo-ultimatum.  ”Jacob, do you know what will happen if you do that again?”  Let me guess:  NOTHING.  Indeed, Jacob was hardly deterred by his dad’s non-threat, and he returned to his previously scheduled activity of banging the window shade down.  Luckily, since the child clearly suffers from ADD, he quickly shifted gears into his new favorite pastime:  SQUEALING.  And kicking.

Somewhere around this time, Dad became randomly cranky and literally yelled at his wife, “WHY ARE YOU STARING AT ME?”  Great.  So they’re awful AND psycho.  Maybe not psycho, but they were definitely stress-yellers, a noted contrast to the previous occupants of their seats.  Anyway, I don’t know what started the tiff, but the two switched seats, which meant that I then had to sit next to dad, and let me add that dad was no slender chap.  He was a bit chubby.  Obese, really.  As in, he’ll have armrest marks firmly pressed into his waist this evening.  And even worse, he sat in annoying ways.  At one point, he propped his book up on top of the seat in front of him (who does that?).  At another point, he rested his right hand on the seat in front of me!  Never mind that he was touching a celebrity’s personal space (the horror!), but he was clearly violating the unspoken and invisible vertical plain that delineated MY space from HIS space.  What are we?  PRIMATES???

It was around this time that I whipped out the laptop and began writing.  Since then, the family has settled down, and mom and dad have switched seats again.  Plus, they got a DVD player for Jacob, so now he’s quietly transfixed by something, which is all I really ask.

Ooh, High School Musical 2 is starting.  Wouldn’t want to miss that!!


2:04 PM

Awful child’s DVD player has died.  Well, what else to do but bother EVERYONE trying to get it up and running again.  According to SeatGuru.com, I’m supposed to have a DC power outlet in my seat.  I don’t.  However, the seats in front of me do; so what does the father do?  He bothers the woman in front of me AND the celebrity in order to find the outlet for the DVD player.  Luckily for him, the celebrity remains very nice and doesn’t seem bothered.  The woman next to him is civil about it, but I can tell that inside, she’s feeling a little “WTF?  Do I LOOK like a RadioShack?”  Nevertheless, the dad plugs his DVD player in (shockingly, he has a cigarette lighter adapter); however, the power chord doesn’t reach all the way back to the child.  It only goes as far back as mom’s tray, which is right next to me.  So far, it’s not a problem because dad and child have gone on a little walk around the plane, but I fear that when Jacob wants to watch his cartoons again, he’ll be planted right next to me, which could be the very worst thing that could happen.  On the plus side, it might give me a chance to shoot him some angry glares.  But knowing this father, he’d probably ask me to move seats anyway.  It would be consistent with his whole philosophy of inconveniencing as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

2:15 PM

Point of reference:  I think the father’s name is Yitzi or Yentzi.  I prefer to call him by his middle name:  AWFUL.

2:24 PM

Gosh, the mom is so nice.  She really is.  I just got up to use the bathroom, and she was more than accommodating to me.  I think that I might reduce her awfulness levels because she really isn’t as problematic as her husband is.  Plus, she was actually able to discipline her child when she was sitting next to him.  That’s impressive.

2:26 PM

Child is back and banging my seat.  Dad says, “Will you go sit down now, please?”  Now that’s discipline!  Personally, I’d go for “SIT THE HELL DOWN YOU MONSTER!”  The dad also asks how the battery charging is going with the DVD player.  Um, idiot, it’s been like twenty minutes.  Have you ever charged anything?  Like your brain?

2:27 PM

Dad is getting all pissy about the batteries not being ready yet.  Apparently, to add insult to injury, the power cable had come loose during the charging.  The horror!  Dad got snippy with the wife, but she shot him down with a little, “Well, it must have come loose when YOU adjusted it.”  Oh SNAP!  A little power-adaptor zing!

2:28 PM

Dad thought he’d somehow conquer physics by turning on the DVD player after about two minutes of charging.  Here’s a shock:  the device shut down immediately.  Funny how electronics die when you DON’T RECHARGE THEM.

2:29 PM

Did I mention that High School Musical 2 is on?  I feel like it’s like a gay version of The Ring.  As in, everyone who watches it gets a phone call that says, “In seven days, you’ll turn gay.”  And then a week later, Zac Effron climbs out of your TV, does a dance, and announces, “Now you’re like me.”

2:31 PM

In other news, High School Musical 2 is hilarious.  I would liveblog it, but a) my view is obstructed, b) this family is way more amusing, and c) I’m feeling drowsy.

Later That GLOAMING

Okay, dead laptop.  Cut to the end of the flight.  The good news was that the kid fell asleep, and I finally had some peace.  The bad news was that as we approached JFK, my worst fears were realized.  My dream of a Chair Island clique could have been born had the awful family not ejected two of its pivotal members.  Basically, the celeb in front of me and the urbane woman next to him (“Deborah”) engaged in a great conversation about all sorts of things that I HAD GOOD COMMENTARY ON.  They talked about a wine shop in NYC that I not only had been to, but I had a mini-story about.  They talked about where they each lived in Los Angeles (not that far from me!) and the writers strike (uh, hello!) and the Hamptons (BAREFOOT CONTESSA STORY OPPORTUNITIES!!!).  I really wanted to intercede, but I didn’t because that would have been Grade-A psycho/desperate.  I mean, seriously, who does that?  I then laughed at myself:  who really cares about these two?  Does it really matter if I talk to them or not.  Obviously no.  The moment of clarity then passed, and I returned to my silent struggle with my need to banter, banter, banter.  I don’t even like airplane bantering, but I was so opposed to the family around me that I just needed some sort of conversational escape.  Nevertheless, it wasn’t meant to be.

Amusingly, there was an awkward moment between the actor and the mom.  As we were rapidly approaching our destination, it was time to put away all electronics.  This meant that mom had to unplug her DVD adaptor from Deb & Ian’s armrest.  Ian did this, and as he handed the cable backwards to the mom, he joked, “That’ll be twenty dollars.”  She didn’t get it at first (idiot), but then about a second later, it dawned on her that humor was being employed on her, and the appropriate reaction would be to laugh or smile or whatever.  Instead, she decided to brush off her own improv skillz and pretended to pay the actor the money.  Too bad that by this time, he had semi-checked out of the banter because he  was so discouraged by the initial response to his joke (specifically, the mom’s blank, confused face).  Somehow, things went tragically wrong, and the “I’m paying you” pantomime was misinterpreted as a gesture of kindness.  After a few more fits and spurts of social cues, the two wound up sharing a strange and unprovoked handshake.  Huh?  You could just tell that she was thinking, “This is weird,” and he was thinking, “This joke has gotten way out of control.  Never again.  Never again.”

As the plane landed, the dad woke up his son and continually asked him, “Can you count how many planes are outside the window?”  It was sort of cute, I guess.  Unfortunately, it was a question that was asked so many times that I just wanted to slam down the shade and say, “THERE ARE NO PLANES.  NO PLANES AT ALL.”  Of course, that probably would have sent the child into a relapse of the old “Pull the shade up and down game,” and you know how i loved that.

Eventually, the plane arrived at its gate, and I had to deal with the awkward dance that was heading backwards to retrieve my bag from row 40.  I felt like a salmon swimming downstream.  It was the worst.  And I totally respected the fact that everyone hated me and thought I was awful.  I mean, that’s what I always think about the people who obstruct MY egress.  Part of me was really hoping I’d find my former row-mate and tell her, “Consider yourself lucky,” but I never found her again.  Oh well.

As long as I don’t encounter this terrible family again, I’ll be happy.  So yeah, that’s it.