Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Monday, April 24, 2017

Ramblings Of The Easily Confused

“Thank you all for coming today. It is good to see you all. It was important that we gather together after recent events, to go over things, to prepare our next step. Given what has happened to one of our own, it’s understandable that we might feel given to despair, but we must rise above that. We must come together and devise a plan.

I’m not often given to making speeches. I’m more often used to thirty second sound bites on camera at the red carpet. In fact, it’s my sister who wrote this for me. But I helped! Really, I did! I told her what I wanted to say, and she wrote things down. So I’m sure she didn’t leave any traps or humiliations in here for me to inadvertently say, because hey, I’m a good brother! And I’m really smart! We’re all smart! Every single one of us here are really, really, really smart. Because, after all, we’re entertainment reporters!

Okay, so the job isn’t quite the same as it was several years ago. We all lost the big names of our industry. Almost every single one of them, languishing away in prison. And for what? Just because they tried to take over the world? Come on! Shouldn’t entertainment reporters naturally be in charge of the world? Of course we should!

Instead we’ve got the United Nations passing resolutions that remove certain protections from all of us. We’ve got scientists going around claiming we’re a distinct subset of humanity- they classify us as homo sapiens moronicus reportious entertainious noxious. What does that even mean? They say we don’t deserve protection as others might.

Protection from what? From him. From the one who took down our beloved founders in the Dark Cabal Of The Infernal Gossip and sent them all to jail. From Ulrich.

Yes, Lars Ulrich. The man who’s beaten the crap out of most of us at one point or another. The drummer from Metallica who keeps insisting he’s not that Lars Ulrich when we come see him about a story that’s in the news. The guy who spends too much time up in Canada when he should be with the band and giving us some attention. You know, he goes out of his way to say there are two Lars Ulrichs- this, before he beats the crap out of us- and then continues to deny that he’s one and the same. At a point like this my sister might tell me, Scooter, has it ever occurred to you that there are indeed two Lars Ulrichs who don’t look a thing alike, and you keep confusing them? That one’s a deaf heavy metal drummer who looks like he’s been hit in the face by an ugly stick, and the other’s a Mountie who’s a lot younger and a lot grouchier and a lot better looking? That’s the sort of thing Maggie would say right about now. But that would be just wrong. Because that would mean we’re wrong.

Wait a minute, was Maggie trying to make a point there?

That’s beside the point. The point is this guy keeps beating us up. And the world keeps letting him do that. I mean, who cares if he’s saved the world repeatedly from tyrants, monsters, super-villains, and mad scientists? That doesn’t give him the right to beat us up just because he thinks he’s a different Lars Ulrich.

But the world disagrees.

The world lets him beat us up and makes it all legal.

Last week, Billy Reese ended up being airlifted out of some god awful place called Widowmaker Canyon. I mean, who names a place like that?

And all Billy did was go up to Alberta and ask Ulrich what the band might have to say about the Fast And The Furious sequel, and why Metallica wasn’t on the soundtrack. And what did he get for his troubles? Six months in traction.

Well, I for one have had it! You hear me! I’ve had it! This guy doesn’t get to keep doing this to us! We’re highly esteemed people!  Nobody does this to us and gets away with it! We’re smart people! We’re so smart that we can’t figure our way out of a wet paper bag.

Um, I’m not quite sure, but I think my sister might have insulted me there. What do you think, Amber? Chip? Is the whole wet paper bag thing an insult?

Where was I? Oh, yes. Getting even with this guy. Well I say we teach this guy some manners. We teach him to show us some respect. Like we deserve. You don’t just put people in traction and just act like it doesn’t matter. You don’t knock us out simply for asking you what you think of Beyonce’s seemingly endless pregnancy. You don’t bloody us for inquiring if Metallica’s going to do a summer tour.

And if it doesn’t work?

If he doesn’t respect us?

Then our path is clear.

We have to kill the Ulrich.

Yes, that’s right. Kill him.

Now someone else might point out to us right about now that it’s a bad idea. Maggie might remind me that every lunatic who’s ever crossed his path has ended up locked up. She might tell me that he’s made giant monsters cry, and single-handedly beat up thousands of people at a time just because he was in a bad mood. She might remind me that there’s a reason my IQ is below thirty... wait a minute! Maggie! I didn’t tell you to put that in the speech!

That’s beside the point. What’s important now is that we take him down a notch or three. Whatever a notch means. We teach him humility, and to bow down and respect the supremacy that make up our profession.

And if he can’t do that, he’s going to have to die.

After all, what’s the worst that can happen?

Aside from all of us in hospital for months to come.

I don’t know why, but Maggie’s written in LOL a dozen times here to finish the speech. You know, there are times I get the odd impression she doesn’t like me. Wait, no, that’s impossible. Everybody likes me, as much as I like everybody. Am I right or am I right?

Wait a minute... does anyone remember why we came here to talk today? I’m drawing a complete blank.” 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Horrid Week In Public Relations

What follows are remarks possibly being made at the executive level of a certain airline that's had a few bad days publicity wise as of late. I'm sure the actual remarks are far worse.

“Ladies and gentlemen. It has been a difficult few days for our organization. There have been lots of bad press, misunderstandings, and disapproval of the public at large over some of our more... unorthodox decisions. It didn’t help that my response to the affair was, to be fair, rather tone deaf. There’s an old expression about there being no such thing as bad publicity, but I think at this point that it’s safe to say we’ve proven that wrong.

You know, if we could have taken it all back and done things differently, we would have in a heartbeat. I mean that. Really, I do. How were we to know that our tendency to overbook flights would end up biting  down hard on us like this? How were we to understand that one bad decision might lead to another, and then another, and another, and before we knew it, we had a passenger dragged off the plane, all bloody, and to make things far worse, it made the news everywhere.

I mean, abusing your passengers is one thing. It’s a long standing tradition at our airline.

But for it to actually make the news? With video proof? That’s unacceptable!

There are those naysayers out there who would tell us that once a passenger has taken their seat, that’s theirs, and we don’t have the right to toss them off the plane just so we can accommodate some of our own people for nothing. Well, to those people, I say: read the fine print!

There are those who say our industry shouldn’t overbook flights. That it’s a bad business practice. That we’re screwing around with the goodwill of the public. Well, to those people, I say... get bent! We’re the airline industry! We have the God given right to abuse our customers!

There are those who say that the right of passengers to get to their destination in a timely manner should come first. To those people, I laugh in their faces and say, drop dead!

There are those who say that to increase profit for the company, rather than increase ticket or fee prices, we should trim the executive salary levels. To those people, I fall about laughing. Are you serious? I happen to like having all that money I make every single year, thank you very much.

There are those who say that Amtrak doesn’t treat its passengers this way. Well, to those people, I say... we get the pissed off unwashed masses from coast to coast faster than Amtrak gets out of a state. Who gives a damn about customer service?

There are those who say that we shouldn’t have glorified rent-a-cops drag a paying passenger off a flight for simply refusing not to leave when asked to volunteer to leave against their will. To them, I say fuck you!

Look, we all know the cold, hard facts. Airlines rise and fall on how much money they make. And we lose money when it comes to undersold flights. If someone comes along and tells us we can’t overbook a flight, well, what happens? Empty seats. Because for some reason that escapes me, not everyone who books a flight actually gets to the airport to make that flight. It’s a hedge bet, every time. People aren’t going to show. So what’s best for us is to overbook a flight. Oh, sure, that might mean sometimes that everyone shows up and we have to bump someone to a later flight. It should only take an hour or four or nineteen later to get them home. I mean, we’ve got a sterling record of 56% of our bumped passengers finally getting on a plane within 72 hours, and if you ask me, that’s something to be proud of.

Oh, sure those whining twits complain. Lord, do they complain. I can’t tell you how many times our complaints department has heard the I was late for the wedding, funeral, birthday party, job interview, mother’s operation, spring break, honeymoon, stag and doe party, Super Bowl gripe. Bunch of whiny jackasses, if you ask me. They should be paying us more to fly!

Well, things are going to change here at United. Fly The Friendly Skies has been a slogan for us off and on down through the years, and it’s high time those scumbags we call passengers start to learn that you don’t treat your friends like this. You don’t question their integrity, you don’t film them when they’re doing their job, and you don’t dare complain just because you think your civil rights are being violated. We’re United, damn it, and we’re not going to take it anymore!

So we’re changing the way we do things. We’re going to get those dirtbag customers to start showing us some respect.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to start rolling out some new ways to maximize our profit potential. That includes our brand new Adventure Class of airline traveling. This will consist of tying ten bungee cords to the wings on each flight and to the waists of ten passengers. As long as they can keep up with the plane while it’s taking off down the runway, they should be fine, but trust me, you don’t want to trip running down the runway while bungeed to an accelerating plane.

And of course, it’s quite possible none of them will actually survive being completely exposed to the elements at 35 000 feet for hours on end, but come on... they’re airline passengers! Who cares what happens to them?

And sure, it’s possible that even if one or two of them actually survive that flight, that they’ll be turned into a bloody pulp when they hit the runway as the plane lands at its destination. But that’s just one of the downsides to doing business. And fortunately it’ll be covered in our new fine print.

But that’s not all we’re going to do. We’re going to throw in a new fee- guaranteed that the passenger will not be bumped, abused, mistreated, or eye rolled at by any of our staff.* The asterix, of course, will be in fine print, and will reflect the fact that we can put an exception on any of those conditions. For instance- except  if the airline needs to get twelve of its employees home on the next flight, if we feel like it, if our gate agent’s having a bad day, if the flight attendant feels particularly vindictive at the moment, or any other reason we can possibly think of to treat these so called guaranteed passengers like dirt, even if we’re not supposed to. And that new fee will be a five hundred dollar surcharge. If you don’t pay it, prepare to be harassed, harangued, and tormented at every turn by our flight attendants, all of whom continue to take lessons in sadism at the Marquis de Sade School Of Public Relations when they’re not in the air.

Okay, so we kind of messed up with this whole incident. Clearly I shouldn’t have used words like reaccommodate and volunteer. Clearly I shouldn’t have spoken to the media at all. Isn’t that what we’ve got public relations people for? You don’t ask the CEO to go before the cameras in a situation he can’t have every bit of control over.

But what’s important now is that we don’t learn from our mistakes... I mean, we learn from our mistakes. From this day forward, no more filming our actions on cell phones or other cameras. No more posting unflattering footage of our operations online. No more complaints department. Who needs to hear the whining and complaining anyway?

If you don’t like how you’re being treated by the flight attendants, that’s fine. Step out of the plane and leave.

Just don’t expect us to give you a parachute.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Walk Among The Tombstones

For once I'm going to be serious. Oh, shush, no laughing. I can be serious. When I want to be. On occasion. Just not when introducing what's supposed to be a straight forward post.

On Good Friday, I decided to spend the day here in Ottawa visiting of all things, two cemeteries, both large ones. The purpose was some material for my photoblog, which will be forthcoming in early May. I went to Notre Dame Cemetery, and then to Beechwood Cemetery, which is the source of these shots today.

Beechwood is a national cemetery, with the graves of prominent Canadians, including a prime minister, a governor general, political figures, writers, engineers, athletes, business people, artists, scientists, and every day citizens. It also has grounds set aside as an RCMP national cemetery, and for the National Military Cemetery.

There's some sort of thought that goes around that graveyards are creepy places, but I find them quite peaceful. Both Notre Dame and Beechwood were. This is the larger of the two, at 160 acres (Notre Dame consists of 20 hectares). Both date from the 1870s, and are still seeing new burials and interments. Both have mausoleums.

Beechwood's main building also features a large inter faith chapel that surprised me- no one symbol here of any faith, and yet it felt appropriate if a funeral needs to be held in here. The staff were also helpful; they provided maps to the grounds, particularly in terms of where prominent grave sites can be found. At most of those, a plaque can be found nearby giving details on the individual.

I wandered along the paths for quite awhile, photographing as I went along, gathering material for posts (there'll be several days of cemetery posts when the time comes). 

Along the way I paid visits to the two sections of the National Military Cemetery. Here are buried veterans of world wars and military service, even long after their days in the military were done. The tombstones, done according to the standards of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, stand sentinel over those interred here. This is the older of the two sections, filled with veterans. I can tell you that walking among them, looking at names, at the simplicity of the stones, was very moving. I will be featuring a full series on this over at the photoblog in May, so have a look when the time comes. I hope you've enjoyed this brief glance at Beechwood.