``We will be showing,'' said the chief flight attendant, ``short films, 50 First Dates, Hidalgo, Shrek 2, and Garfield: The Movie. Sorry for that mistake.'' The mistake was she'd announced the wrong films before. She was an Explainer; she also detailed every item of the meals, and why one might not get one's first choice: ``We don't have room to stock 260 of both entrées,'' although one wonders why not. She might also apologize for 50 First Dates; imagine the trauma of always waking blissfully unaware of Adam Sandler only to have him force himself into your life. (She also pronounced ``Hidalgo'' with stress on the first syllable.)
So I was mildly scared as Garfield: The Movie started, not just because it was a dismal failure with only one funny line (``Maybe I'll just nibble'') and a neat-looking train station in its favor. The pilot, also an Explainer, told us heavy winds kept us away from the North Pole, so we'd use a more southern route (how could we not?), over the Northwest Territories, Alaska, Russia, North Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China ... and what?
North Korea? Maybe it's the Great Circle route, but ... do they even give civilian air rights? Even if they did, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 kept coming to mind. Yes, that was a long time ago, and the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union was basically rational. North Korea is the international version of a crazy Joker. They didn't have individual TV screens, so I could only watch the flight path on the cabin movie screen before Garfield started, somewhere over Kamchatka ... yes, surely all would be well, but what if they did shoot down a passenger plane?
My deranged mind thought, if I weren't killed by the explosion and jet fuel fire, there'd be a few minutes of free fall ... I'd pretty quickly slow to terminal velocity, and it wasn't impossible to survive, though that sort of thing only happened in the big probability-defying event that was World War II. But even if I lived I'd be in North Korea, without identification or any knowledge of the language, pretty grim ... I'm also sick enough I thought: if I were killed, the department would know I wasn't back when my leave was up. I was scared of getting in trouble. I need help.
After the movie, I saw the flight path had a nice dogleg way away from the Koreas, over nice warm Japan. Still, who makes that kind of joke without immediately saying ``just kidding''?
The ``short films'' were an episode of Stargate: SG1 which appeared to be a misidentified, if snappy, Star Trek: Voyager episode (starship is attacked by Mean Aliens; is trapped in a nebula; sole crewman has to hallucinate until she finds enough technobabble; saves ship, Mean Aliens; gets crew beamed back); one of Monk (``Mr Monk Goes To Jail,'' delightful even for this series); and a Brilliant but Cancelled about Pilot Season that stopped after a half hour, just as it felt warmed up. I think they lost the other half.
Trivia: Harpo Marx first played the harp on-stage in Gadsden, Alabama. He played ``Annie Laurie'' twice, the second time as encore. Source: Harpo Speaks!, Harpo Marx and Rowland Barber.
Currently Reading: The Seedling Stars, James Blish. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey conquers Earth!