March 2008

Delta's Safety Video is Finger-Waggin' Good

Posted March 27, 2008 by Heather Gilbert

I can’t believe it.  Here I am, seated at my desk on terra firma, and I just finished watching an airline safety video.  I don’t even watch those when I’m at 30,000 feet, much the less at 5th-floor-office elevation.  What gives?

Well, the Internet is abuzz with Delta’s new video, thanks in large part to the flight attendant who stars in it.  She’s affectionately being called “Deltalina” due to what some say is a striking resemblance to Angelina Jolie.  After hearing about throngs of earth-bound Internet surfers watching an airline safety video, I had to check it out.

Well, that’s 4 minutes and 37 seconds of my life I’ll never get back.  Yes, Katherine Lee, aka, Deltalina, is an attractive woman with high cheekbones, a long, slender nose, and full lips, but Angelina Jolie?  Brad and I don’t think so.

The highlight of the video is about a minute and fifty seconds in when Deltalina tells you that smoking “is not allowed” on any Delta flight.  Sounds innocuous enough, but she accompanies this message with a naughty finger wave that apparently makes dirty old men feel like mischievous young schoolboys.

Personally, I like the moment about four minutes in when a significantly less-attractive flight attendant (“we employ all kinds!!”) shows you that your seat can be used as a floatation device and his teeth give that Orbit gum twinkle.  More finger wagging and special effects would have made this video something passengers might actually watch rather than just an Internet phenom about a woman who bears a slight resemblance to another woman.

The 5 Real Reasons the Sonics are Leaving Seattle

Posted March 26, 2008 by Zak Patten

If enough NBA owners vote in favor of it on April 18, the Seattle SuperSonics will be moving to Oklahoma City. This got me wondering: Why would a professional sports team leave the Emerald City in favor of the Sooner state?

According to league commissioner David Stern, the Sonics are going because the city of Seattle won't pony up the funds necessary to build a new arena.  I'm thinking that's not all there is to it. Here are a few alternative theories:

5. Players sick of smelly salmon jerky locker-room snacks.

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4. Team tired of being asked for directions to Kurt Cobain's house.

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3. Players prefer dust-bowl peace and quiet...

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...to lame-ass view of Mt. Rainier.

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2. Rookie star Kevin Durant's shot has been way off due to excessive pregame coffee consumption.

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And the number-one reason the team is leaving Seattle? Do you even have to ask? Blame It On The Rain!

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The Seven Wonders of New Jersey

Posted March 24, 2008 by Carl Unger

7. Diners – There's simply nothing like a 24-hour New Jersey diner.  The menu is usually spiral-bound and thick as a dictionary, and it contains pretty much every dish under the sun.  Lobster at 4 a.m.?  Absolutely.  Want French toast with that?  Sure thing.  Seriously, these places must have walk-in freezers the size of airline hangers. Locals generally pick one diner they think is the best around, and they stick with it.  From that point on, going to other diners is unheard of.  Keep this in mind when asking for recommendations.  There is no diner in New Jersey that is truly the best (not true, the King George diner in Wayne is the best—represent!).  Regardless of where you go, you can count on burnt coffee and unspeakable decor.  I can sum up the latter in one word: mirrors.  Lots of them. Lastly, the New Jersey diner wouldn't be what it is without Taylor ham.  Taylor ham is a sausage subspecies of questionable origin.  Whatever.  A Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich is to die for.

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6. The accent – I grew up in New Jersey, but moved to New England for college.  I wasn't on campus more than three hours before someone made fun of the way I said "water."  Not too long after that, I was picked on for the way I said "coffee," and then "Boston," and then "awful."  So I did what I had to do and learned to speak like the locals did.  When in Rome, right?  Well, a piece of my soul died during the first cold New England winter, and the death knell came when I uttered the word "water" and didn't pronounce it "wuddah."  Now when I speak to my family, it sounds like they're talking under water. Readers, embrace the accent.  It's beautiful in its ugliness.

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5.  Big Italian guys – An unofficial study I just made up shows that New Jersey has more big Italian guys per 100 citizens than any state in the union.  This has two practical implications for normal, shrimpy people such as myself: You often feel inferior, if not downright intimidated; and there are tons of great Italian delis around.  My personal favorite is the Italian Touch in Washington Township.  Get a sandwich of prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers—they make it good here.  I could eat this sandwich for the rest of my life (It would be a short life with a diet like that, but tasty right to the bitter end).  And please don't embarrass yourself by trying to speak with an accent.  Remember, respect the accent.

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4.  The New Jersey Devils – There are four major professional sports teams that play their home games in New Jersey.  Two of them, the Giants and Jets, lie and say they're from New York.  Another team, the Nets, will be moving to Brooklyn in the near future.  That leaves the Devils, who proudly moved to a brand-new arena in Newark at the start of this season.  They're the only team with the guts to say they're from New Jersey.  They've also won three Stanley Cups in the past 15 years (tied with the Detroit Red Wings for the most during that span) and have arguably the best goalie of all time in Martin Brodeur.  So put that in your pipe and smoke it, New York! 

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3. The Meadowlands – Legend has it this is where your problems go to die and never be found by the cops.  That may be true for people involved in the state's shadier businesses, but for regular folks like me, the Meadowlands is where you go to get lost while trying to find a shortcut to the highway after a basketball game.  And oh yeah, it kind of smells.  More on that shortly.

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2. Bruce Springsteen – Sure, women swooned for Bon Jovi.  Sure, men used him as justification for dispensing enormous quantities of Aqua Net onto their hair.  But none of that can hold a candle to the timeless folk-rock poetry crafted by Freehold's favorite son.  Drive down the shore sometime, maybe to Wildwood or Seaside, someplace old-timey like that.  Roll down your windows and crank up "Thunder Road."  I know it sounds cliché and maybe a little schmaltzy, but I also know that if you don't feel at least a twinge of adolescent romanticism swelling in your chest, you're probably dead.

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1. The smell:  You can always tell when someone hasn't really been to New Jersey, because they'll whine about the smell, claim the whole state stinks, and tell pathetically false stories about how they almost barfed at a rest stop because of the odor.  My guess is these people probably need a refresher course in personal hygiene, because I promise you the whole state doesn't smell.  The area around the turnpike usually smells—it's an indefinable, vaguely petroleum-based aroma with hints of landfill dancing on the breeze—but that's about it.  People, enough with the smell, okay?  It's really not that bad.  Plus, if you piss off the smell, it could get ugly.  Just watch this:

So be careful, okay?

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Jessica Simpson Nabs Posh Pad in Sin City

Posted March 21, 2008 by Heather Gilbert

What do Jessica Simpson, Hulk Hogan and Eminem have in common?  They’re neighbors, silly! Simpson recently closed on a 1,200-square-foot condo in the posh Palms Place Las Vegas .  Her new love nest (hello, Tony Romo) features a marble bath big enough to live in, the requisite hardwood floors and plasma TVs, and multiple balconies from which to observe the commoners roaming The Strip below.  And not that Tony Romo needs to be jealous of Nick Lachey, but this condo was originally purchased by the then-married couple. It ended up in Jessica’s possession in their divorce settlement.  But seeing as Jessica reportedly hasn’t seen the condo yet, it’s not as if Tony has to worry about Jessica and Nick’s memories of the place.

The Drift Spa, one of the many amenities of the Palms Palace, should keep Ms. Simpson busy.  It is the exclusive Vegas home of celeb-favorite Sunset Tan, after all.  And if she doesn’t feel like venturing out for dinner, the Palace does offer 24-hour room service.  Now if they can just figure out if Jessica prefers chicken or fish, they’ll be a step ahead of the game. 

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Trump Towers Set to Loom Over Las Vegas

Posted March 19, 2008 by Zak Patten

Trumphairweb_3 With the opening of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas this month (reservations are available beginning March 31), Sin City has yet another behemoth property and the famously coiffed Donald Trump has one more reason to shoot his mouth off. To find out more, I decided to comb over the hotel's website.

Turns out, the "Tower" is actually two towers, or will be once the second is built. The two structures have the same number of rooms (OK, OK, Tower I has 1,282 compared to just 1,280 in Tower II, but let's not split hairs). According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this new project is all about luxury: "floor-to-ceiling windows, kitchens with granite countertops, marble floors in entries and baths, vanities with marble countertops, spa tubs in master baths, owner's lockout closets, and mirrors with embedded TVs." And though The Donald is clearly a fan of rugs, there's no mention of carpeting.

All of this opulence seems fitting for Trump, whose mane focus seems to be convincing America what a classy guy he is. Perhaps another good way for him to get his message out would be to pump The Apprentice to the cardio machines with built-in televisions, a staple of the Technogym health club.

That might be just enough to make me wig out.

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High-speed Train Would Whisk Travelers between False Realities

Posted March 18, 2008 by Carl Unger

Maglevweb Scientists have long theorized that black holes may actually defy the space-time continuum by linking parallel dimensions with one another.  One might even say that black holes are like high-speed train lines through space-time.

A fair number of us non-scientists have likewise long believed that Las Vegas and Disneyland are alternate dimensions, so it makes sense that a high-speed train line would one day link the two.  In fact, there are now two separate plans for quick transport between these false realities.  On one hand, we have a futuristic, extremely expensive (and therefore the obvious choice) MagLev train.  On the other hand, there’s a far less exciting, more economical (read: bor-ing) DesertXPress train.  Come on, a super-fast train that travels 300 miles per hour and runs on magnets?  And it would cost $12 billion?  Survey says: yes.

However, the real challenge of traveling through the fabric of space-time or between alternate realities concerns the folks on board.  Those of you who've seen this season of Lost know well that time/dimension traveling is not pretty.  If you haven’t been watching, I’ll sum up: You get a wicked nosebleed and die.

So how will train operators keep passengers’ brains from exploding?  How will they maintain the false reality that’s sold at either end of the line?

Maybe they’ll replace windows with flat-panel TVs and display weird landscapes passing by (“Hey, we’re under the sea—oh look, now we’re on Mars!”).  Maybe passengers will sleep in little pods so they don’t even realize they're traveling.  Maybe they'll just have an open bar, who knows?

Whatever you do, make sure you have a constant, okay?

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Beverly Hills Hotel bans Brit-Brit but can't lure Brangelina

Posted March 17, 2008 by Zak Patten

Britgelina You'd assume the Beverly Hills Hotel, with its location and price tag (our sister site TripAdvisor lists an average nightly price of $662) would be a good place for celebrity-spotting. And you'd be right, unless you were looking to see Britney Spears, Brad Pitt, or Angelina Jolie.

Yes, the BHH is now instructing its staff to ask the Lucky singer to keep on driving the next time she's on a bender and needs a place to crash, at least according to Entertainmentwise. While the exclusive property surely appreciates the media coverage paparazzi-magnet Britney provides, it realizes other guests may want to enjoy their stays sans the tantrums, meltdowns, and assorted disasters that trail the former Mrs. Federline wherever she goes. Unfortunately, according to a hotel source, Britney still won't stay away from the place.

In a separate situation, Digital Spy reports Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have decided to take a detour around the Beverly Hills Hotel themselves. "Brangelina" are skipping out on a charity event they were scheduled to co-host with Pitt-ex Jennifer Aniston, apparently out of respect to the former Friends star.

Good old Hollywood. Britney isn't welcome but won't stop going while Pitt and Jolie have been invited, but won't show up.

n00b Airline Virgin America pwnz Gamers’ Hearts

Posted March 14, 2008 by SmarterTravel.com

Virginredweb (If you have no earthly idea what the title of this post means, you probably aren't fluent in 1337, or Leetspeak, the language of online gamers.)

Anyone remember Delta Air Lines’ short-lived low-cost carrier Song and the joy of playing trivia games against other passengers?  Well, video game enthusiasts can rejoice as there’s a (semi) new kid on the block who may be able to fill the cavernous void in their nerdy hearts.  Nikole of GameGirl.com wants to declare Virgin America “the [un]official airline of gamers”.

It seems there’s something for everyone.  For example, the Oprah-watching stay-at-home mom might enjoy a nice game of Mahjong.1   The 20-something comic-book-reading virgin living in said mom’s basement might like the classic first-person shooter DOOM.2    And perhaps the hot sister of said virgin might want to try something more mentally stimulating, say a clone of Bejeweled.3

While Virgin gains popularity (they only had 2.7 percent of all pull-down airline searches on BookingBuddy in February), we suspect other airlines will follow suit.  We just can’t wait to see the chaos when someone ups the ante and puts the Nintendo Wii at the disposal of every passenger.  Hmm … maybe just first-class passengers.

[1] Okay, we don’t know that stay-at-home moms are gamers, but eMarketer indicated that Internet users who visit travel sites skew female and over 25.

[2] We also don’t know that virgins prefer flying on Virgin, but Occasional Superheroine Valerie D’Orazio reports that the average mainstream comic book reader is a 20-to-25-year-old video-game-playing single male with disposable income.   And while disposable income is a must in many cases for travel, we don’t know that comic book readers really live in their mothers’ basements.

[3] There’s also no evidence that the hypothetical virgin’s sister is hot, but Entertainment Software Association claims that 30 percent of all gamers are women age 18 or older.

Bones Brought in Baggage from Brazil

Posted March 13, 2008 by Zak Patten

Skeletonweb I once saw a man boarding my plane with a full rack of antlers protruding from his backpack. Apparently the TSA doesn’t have any prohibitions against packing animal bones, no matter how sharp they are. I wonder if those security screeners would have even noticed the skeleton a 62-year-old woman recently flew with from Brazil to Italy?

As you might have figured, the woman was stopped by airport security (in Germany) and interrogated. It turned out she was fulfilling her brother’s dying wish from 11 years ago to be buried in Italy. The traveler (the live one) was actually able to provide documents allowing her to legally fly with her unusual luggage item. The authorities then allowed her to continue on her way.

Which got me to thinking, just what kind of bag do you pack a dead body in? I think first of all, you probably want to use a sealed, heavy-duty plastic liner inside the bag, just so you don’t lose any of the bones among your socks and underwear. Imagine putting on your skivvies one morning only to find someone’s metacarpal where it didn’t belong. And you wouldn’t want to trust airline baggage handlers to safely transport the remains of your loved one, so putting the cadaver in a carry-on is a must. It’s not like we’re talking about a full-on corpse, which would clearly require at least a second checked bag (and another 25 bucks on some airlines). No, I’d say your best bet is to get a good solid roll-aboard with a few sweaters thrown in around the deceased to avoid breakage.

Eliot Spitzer’s Hotel Choice Further Evidence of Refined Tastes

Posted March 13, 2008 by Heather Gilbert

Spitzerweb_2 Hypothetically speaking, say you were a married man, say even the governor of New York State, and you were going to hire a high-class call girl.  Where would you rendezvous?  Clearly you can’t go back to your place, and I’m guessing that ladies thusly employed aren’t in the habit of taking clients to their bachelorette pads.

Perhaps for a romantic Valentine’s Eve, you’d do as former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer did and treat your 5’ 5” 105-pound petite brunette to a romp at the exclusive and historic Mayflower Hotel.  This four-diamond Marriott property claims to be the largest luxury hotel in Washington D.C., which is a good thing if you’re trying to remain anonymous but still impress your lady.  And according to 145 TripAdvisor ratings , the Mayflower is an all-around standout, with ironically high marks for cleanliness. I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Spitzer booked the Flirt with an Escape! Romance package from Renaissance! during his stay.  I’m sure that "Kristen" would have enjoyed the in-room Champagne and FTD flowers.  And who doesn’t like late checkout? Not to mention that the gentlemanly Mr. Spitzer apparently told his lady friend to help herself to anything form the mini-bar, on him.  How sweet. 

It seems like Mr. Spitzer made a least one good decision amidst a plethora of bad ones.  A lady likes a quality hotel, you know.


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