Couch potato heaven at 35,000 feet
We're back in Portlandia from an East Coast swing, and on the six-hour return flight last evening, we gave in to the temptation to plunk down eight bucks and watch TV on a screen on the back of the seat in front of us. We could pick from dozens of channels in the DirecTV lineup, and it turns out that pro sports fit our flight schedule perfectly.
First we watched the Sixers and the Celtics on the hardwood, switching over at halftime to the Rangers and the Devils in hockey. Then it was back to hoops for more Sixers-Celtics, and after some more hockey, it was the first game of the basketball series between the evil Lakers and the saintly Oklahoma City Thunder.
It was a satisfying menu -- at least, the basketball was. The Celtics got complacent and let the Sixers steal the game from them, which was fine with us. And the Thunder absolutely humiliated the Lakers, pretty much from start to finish but definitely in the third quarter. We relished every second of that one -- nothin' betta than showing up Metta. When we touched down in Portlandia and they pulled the plug on the video, there were only about three minutes left in the wonderful rout. The time had passed quickly.
The Devils lost to the Rangers, and we were a little bummed about that. Our original hometown of Newark doesn't need to be kicked around any more than it already is. Lately they've started having some serious security problems around their new arena, and if they don't get that cleaned up immediately, the city's few bright spots are likely to go dark once again. When the place opened, there was a heavy police presence at every event, but times have changed, and Newark is laying off cops. Not good.
But despite our sympathies for the Devils, we're mindful that the Rangers and Madison Square Garden go way back, and it wouldn't be terrible if they took home the Stanley Cup this year. That honor sure as heck doesn't belong in Southern California or Arizona. As Woody Allen once noted, "Santa Claus will get sunstroke."
It's a good thing we had the tube to take our mind off the fact that there wasn't a scrap of food offered to us at any point in the transcontinental flight. Not a pretzel, not a peanut. The CEO of United Airlines came on the screen and gave his little pep talk at the beginning, but hey Jeff, old buddy, you can't not feed people, even those willing to pay for the food. Between that and all the clods dragging the equivalent of covered wagons on board to avoid paying 25 clams to check a bag, the whole experience has become even more absurd than it was just a couple of years ago.
Not to mention the TSA, of course. On the way out of PDX, as we waited to be puffed and X-rayed and goosed and generally violated, a portly middle-aged guy in a uniform and a loud voice harangued us with a nonstop stream of commands and banter that he thought was funny. It's 6:30 in the morning, and this fellow was being paid to give us a lame standup routine. We couldn't help but think, "This is what single-payer health care will probably be like. Our poor kids."