Displaying articles for: November 2012

Cabin Pressure


Good evening, and welcome aboard Parsimonious Air Flight 75 with three-stop service to a field reasonably close to Boston. This flight is a codeshare with our partners at NegliJet and is being operated by PilotsByPhone, a subsidiary of Amalgamated Telegraph. While we are being towed to the runway by a less fragile aircraft, we ask you to pay attention to the screen at the front of the plane so that we can show you a brief vintage filmstrip containing safety instructions for today's flight.

Our Academy Award-winning crew, trained to act as if this flight meets all FAA safety regulations, is currently coming through the aisle, looking to ensure that your seat backs are in an upright position, your window panes are mostly intact, and your tray tables are covered with a minimum viral load from the sneezes of previous passengers, as is required by law.

In a moment, we will be making one final trip through the cabin so that you may purchase a seatbelt for today's flight, if you did not bring your own on board this evening. Once purchased, lift the buckle and place the metal end of the strap inside. Close the buckle slowly, removing your fingers in time to avoid having them injured by our factory-seconds equipment.


Under your seat, those of you in First-ish Class will find a Depression-era life vest. Those in our Economy cabin will find a new sponge. In our industry-trend-setting Steerage Passenger Container, it will be a used sponge. In the event of a water landing, scheduled or unscheduled, those with the life vests should place them over their heads, attempt to inflate them, and pray to our mascot, Kenny the Kiwi. Those with sponges should soak up as much of the ocean as possible, so as to decrease the odds of drowning.

If there is a change in cabin pressure, the overhead bins will automatically open. Passengers who passed out on previous flights and are being stored in the bins may have shifted during takeoff, so be sure to take extra care should they fall. Oxygen masks will be available in a box placed in the center of the cabin. Please line up in an orderly fashion to collect your mask, and be especially sure to attach your own mask before it is snatched away by one of the unaccompanied delinquents we often have onboard.


There are currently 15 exits on this 100% recycled 767-- one over the three-quarter wing on the left, two in the back, and twelve holes that are currently hidden by assorted scraps of remnant carpeting. Please locate your nearest exit, and be aware that due to flak damage incurred during the Battle of Britain, it may be directly under your seat. If you are seated in an exit row, which, we have found through extensive laboratory testing, can be any row, depending on where the plane splits in two, in order to save yourself you must be able and willing to ignore those who need assistance.


Please now turn all electronic devices to the off position for the remainder of the flight. Our K-9 dog, Nosedive, has been trained to find and destroy any electronic device that remains on. (Unfortunately, he is occasionally unable to distinguish between consumer electronics and consumer genitalia.)

Finally, on behalf of our Atlantis-based crew, we'd like to thank you for choosing Parsimonious Air. We know you all must have made your airline choice solely on price prior to taxes and fees, and so we thank you for failing to do any further investigation. If there's anything we might be able to do to make your flight more enjoyable, please let us know now, since the more prudent members of our crew will be departing the aircraft and remaining safely on the ground for the duration of the trip.

The majority of Jeremy Blachman's writing meets all FAA safety regulations. More can be found at jeremyblachman.com.


Note to Antonín Dvořák


Maestro, I am writing to tell you

that your serenade in D minor

with its stretches of martial confidence

then some sweet wanderings of the woodwinds


has not really brought me to the edge of anything,

yet compared to the inane movie

being shown on this long flight to Seattle,

listening to your music has made me a better


person than that other self,

so slack of jaw and fishy of stare,

who would have watched the movie to its end

oblivious to the startling 33,000 feet of air below.


I never visited your tomb in Prague

or even the site of your former apartment

on East 17th Street before it was demolished

to make room for a hospital for sufferers from AIDS.


So I am thanking you here for the lift

of a tune to ride with over the clouds

high above towns bisected by roads,

and fields with their plowed circles.


You remind me of a canary

I once stared at for an unusually long time

and the communion that developed between us

as we gazed into and out of the unhooded cage.


Time well spent, I thought,

as the bird broke it off and began to peck

at the image of his twin in a little oval mirror,

leaving me to return to the many ways


we have concocted to waste our lives --

ten thousand at least, wouldn’t you say,

Maestro, with your baton, your furious pencil,

and the closet where all your dark clothes used to hang.


Billy Collins is the former poet laureate of the United States. His most recent collection of verse is Horoscopes for the Dead.



In Other Results

A Report on Elections and Ballot Initiatives inexplicably neglected by the networks, the newspapers, and the Internet)
     THE PINEAPPLE INITIATIVE: Voters in Hawaii easily defeated a proposal to to require the state government to fund research that would  develop a pineapple that  "looks a little less like an obese hand grenade."  Oahu Jones, a spokesman for the anti-Initiative Group "Pull the Pin." commented, "Thank God--the next step would have been to make avocados pink or bananas with non-slip peels.   
     ASSEMBLYMAN, 15 1/2 WARD, CHICAGO:  Ron Perkowski, a champion of split-personality rights,  defeated Ron Perkowski in a close election under careful observation by thje Civil Rights Group OMTV (One Man Two Votes). Eavch candidate accused the other of talking out of both sides of his mouth.
     GOVERNOR., MIDDLE DAKOTA: This self-proclaimed fifty-first state, formed by the Lakota, Ricotta, and Anekdota Indian tribes, held a gubernatorial election between He Laughs like a Crazy Ferret and She Runs With The Bison From Time To Time, but a write-in candidate, He Does Astonishingly Little, won a surprising majority. The defeated candidates agreed to bury the hatchet, but they didn't say where.
      CALIFORNIA MOVIE AGENT REFERENDUM.   Voters narrowly defeated a measure that would require Hollywood Agents to wear portable polygraphs at all lunches and require those who fail the tests to strap on "Pinnochio" noses for two weeks whenever they were in public. "Oh, yeah--I really wish that one had passed," said Harry Macher--who represents soap star Gillian McAroon--with a sly grin.
     ARKANSAS STATE SONG REFERENDUM:  Arkansans defeated a measure that would have replaced their state song, "Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me," by Wayland Holyfield with "The Arkansas Traveller."  Exit polls indicated that voters rejected the measure largely because they heeded the ubiquitous "The Arkansas Traveler: He's From Out Of State!" posters.
      DOGCATCHER, PODUNK, INDIANA:  This hotly contested race remains too close to call. James Barker, who campaigned with the slogan "I'm Rabid About This Job," holds a slight lead over Fred Barclay, who promised "No Dog Left Behind." The Wrong Tree Association  is overseeing the recount. In case of a tie, Podunk Mayor Ralph Taylor will cast the deciding vote.
      RPG LAW, Hiyo, Wyoming:  Voters upheld the ban on carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers in public. "I just can't understand this one," said Sherman Tanque, a longtime crusader for the group called  RPG[P] (Rockets Protect Good [People]).  "Nine times out of ten, it's the weapons you can't see that will hurt you."
      ELECTION BAN, Presque Isle, Maine:  The advocacy group SOS (Save Our Sanity) got enough signatures to petition  all governmental bodies to suspend all elections and replace them with games of Spin the Bottle, Red Rover, and One Potato Two Potato in order to choose government officials. "It makes just as much sense and is much more fun," said the group's chairman, Mark Chekoff.
Daniel Menaker is the Editor of Grin and Tonic.

July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).