It's odd to split a Travel Bleat over the weekend, but since you don't know when the stuff I describe actually happens, does it matter? I suppose; it lessens the sense of recent immediacy. Monday's Bleat should concern the Weekend. Tuesday's Bleat should be mostly Monday. Right now we're five days past the lousiest day in a long time, a morning that had one miserable imperative: make the plane.

But that's Tuesday-Bleat fun.

While we're on the subject, though: what do you need to get on the plane? Right. A boarding pass. Some airlines let you put on your phone. Spirit, which is No Frills No Sir, does not. I've no doubt they'd charge you five bucks to print it off. Maybe not - maybe it's one of those small courtesies that makes you stop and reconsider your opinion of the airline as a nickle-and-dime operation. To be honest, I have a better opinion of Spirit than I did before. It was cheap, clean, and friendly. All I wanted was a chair that went up in the air and came down in a certain place at a certain time; they delivered. But you have to print the boarding pass.

So I went down to the concierge and asked if they could help. They could. The rather . . . tight lady at the desk asked for my confirmation code, and I said no, don't worry - I've checked in, and I saved the boarding pass as a pdf. I have uploaded it to my server, and here is the URL.

I handed her a piece of paper:

She typed and typed and frowned, and said she was getting a lot of search results, but no boarding pass.

What? I leaned over the counter, and looked at her screen: she had typed it into google search. I said no ha ha, it's an actual web address, just type it in the line up top.

She was confused: the line up top? As opposed to the google search field? What difference is there? She tried it again and said "I'm not getting anything." I did not know what that meant, not getting anything, so I offered to email it to her, or she could take it off my thumb drive. WHOOP WHOOP SECURITY TRAINING KICKS IN RUSSIAN HACKERS MALWARE she said she could not use the thumb drive, and I understood. So she wrote her email address on a piece of paper, which I typed into an email.

This was just too, too 20th century.

As I was about to send the email she said Oh, here it is. Voila, my boarding pass. Now, Spirit, let me tell you something: you're cheap, and I understand that, and I appreciate that, but your boarding passes have two big yellow boxes with pointless ads, and I do not know why I should be required to spend YELLOW INK for this crap, okay?

She hit print, and we waited.

The printer was not responding.

An ultra-high-level concierge was summoned. He removed a tray and stuck it back in, and the printer proceeded to disgorge FORTY COPIES of someone's boarding pass. At the end came mine. I didn't care; thank you very much.

You know why I didn't care? Because I had been a struttin' man when I walked up to the desk. When you call your elevator on your floor, all is silent. The doors open. Inside the car, there is music, and the beat is fine. It's a good tune. When the doors open and you walk into the casino it's the same song, but now By God it's huge, it fills the room and it fills the world, and you strut. You pass through the lobby and the same song is playing, with an echo; you walk outside and the song expands, and you walk down the sidewalk and the song follows you in speakers nestled in the shrubs. Your life has a theme and it's bitchin'. It's one of the most ingenious pieces of Experience Design I've noted lately. Your life has a soundrack.

So when I went back to the desk to get my pass I was in a capital mood. Life was bright. Life was dramatic. Life was like something out of the movies.

Except printers never jam in the movies. Bond never mistyped an URL and got a 404.

Then again. I'm not Bond.


VEGAS (Con't.)

Some people gamble. I walk. Pictures at dusk, data for the travel piece, but mostly because I like to walk in strange cities, and nothing is stranger than Vegas. I'm not talking about the Strip, although that's a wonderful sort of strange that wears off faster than nitrous oxide. I'm talking about the ordinary arteries of a sprawling car-oriented desert city, which are not meant to be walked. At the end of last year I was walking around Phoenix. Now I'm walking around Vegas. Obviously I am Doing It Wrong, as they say, but I like the exercise. However, today's jaunt was long. Misread the directions to my first location; said it was ten minutes from the Strip, and was walkable if you had a good pair of legs. That was ten minutes by car. Turned out to be three miles and change, which is a fair hike. Worth it. This was the destination:



The Pinball Hall of Fame.



I'll be rolling out examples of the pinball art in Odds and Ends for a few weeks.

As I left the owner was running off a hobo who'd been wandering around the arcade asking for change. (Stupid, since the machines use tokens.) This particular panhandler had been around a lot and told to go away many times, and consequently was banished with strenuous oratory. A real day-brightener. From there I walked to the Atomic Testing Museum, which was about two miles, and then another mile and a half back to the hotel. In the evening I did more shooting and studies for a portion of the piece, and the enthusiasm of the previous evening had completely drained away.

It's great your first night and tiring your second. It's always alive and crazy because it's always someone's first night.


This place is not for me. It's interesting but I get it in a day and I don't want any more. It would be different if I gambled, but I don't, and that pretty much rules out THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE PLACE. This hotel fascinates me, thought. I figured out the main aesthetic idea of the design: no antecedents whatsoever. Sui Generis. A true 21st century building, and wasn't that what we expected from the 21st century back in the old days? There's an enormous hi-def billboard out my window, another right behind it - Blade Runner stuff, without the drizzle and replicants.


Then there's this place.



The Neon Boneyard. Again, you'll have to read the piece in the paper, since they paid for it. But such a treat.



Today's signs are spectacular, bright, kinetic, exciting . . . but they lack the artistry of tubes and gas.



Mute and respectable now.. What's the adage about old courtesans?



Lum and Abner Festival continues with #4. If you've been following along, you know that the venerable radio show was ill-served by the previous three entries, which either squandered the familiar setting or put the old fellows in fish-out-of-water situations.



We see the good old store, festooned with signs of the time:



As for this one . . .



It's this one.




Well, how are we going to screw it up this time? For starters, the store is different. The Star Trek analogy would be a different bridge configuration every time.

Miz Pomeroy comes in. Another character mentioned on the show, but the Pomeroys never really had any attributes, so this isn't particularly jarring.

Huh - Abner has the can upside down.

Well, the old fellows listen to the radio, and -

. . . all the goods are upside down? They're real products, but they put them upside down so they didn't appear to be endorsing them.

The radio makes an appeal for Inventions to help win the war, so Abner decides to commence inventin'. He comes up with synthetic rubber, so they head off to Washington, leaving the store in the hands of . . .

Grandpappy Spears. He doesn't have the same ornery cantankerous character he does on the radio, but he gets in his catch-phrase: "pigeon-toed" as a derogatory description. (The other is "spavin-legged.") Off they go to DC, because if there's anything the show's fans want, it's Lum and Abner ANYWHERE BUT PINE RIDGE.

Episodic? Sure: first there's the attempt to get housing in wartime DC. Then it's a parade of inventors with wacky weapons, pressing their cases - but L & A get in right away because a Pine Ridge boy writes a newspaper column:


While they're waiting to pitch their idea they walk around DC and say patriotic things about how rear-projection will win the war:

hey end up at a park bench, where they overhear a Senator talking about soil conditions. They dispense some country advice, and soon enough . .

When they finally get in to see the fellow who's put out the call for inventions, we meet Alan Mowbray . . .


. . . who probably should have been getting better roles. Anyway, you get the sense that the movie was told entirely in newspaper stories:



At a demonstration of the rubber, Abner falls down and hits his head, and forget the recipe. And so:



Abner also starts to speak in 40s jive-talk. He is a hep cat. Now this . . . this might have been familiar to the audience.

The BVC routine they did on the show. For that matter, Abner invented synthetic gasoline in 1941.

Then they go back to Pine Ridge to help him get his memory back before the movie hits its 64-minute running time. No Cedrick, no Squire - but given how poorly they were handled before, it's just as well. After four, they figured out the one thing the series needed: brevity. The pace is better; the gags are better; everything's brisker without betraying the mood of the radio show.

I'll leave you this clip. Lum has to hit Abner on the head to restore his memory.


The off-mike Oh grannies made me laugh.

Still wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wasn't in the least bit interested. Oh, this guy?



Jimmie Dodd. Bio:

By all accounts he was just the sort of person he played on The Mickey Mouse Club (1955)- decent, caring, deeply religious, and very much concerned for children and their welfare. All of the original Mouseketeers loved him, a love that was reciprocated, and all continue to speak well of him to this day.

Plays a grimy hillbilly here, and projects as if he's acting in a much better movie.

Well, you say, that's four - how many did they do? We'll see next week.



blog comments powered by Disqus