Flying High

Ah, the glories of business travel. Having marinated in the Wine Country for the better part of a year (sans the occasional sojourn to SoCal, or is that LowCal?), I am pleased to have run away this week while making a documentary (qua branded-entertainment for a “consumer packaged goods company in the natural foods sector”) on location at the Natural Products Expo East in Boston, Mass. JetBlue apparently had a flight attendant go MIA prior to my flight from the Oakland airport and had to scrape for a replacement, but they made up the hour-and-a-half delay with an extremely smooth flight across the great yawning expanse of the so-called fly-over states (Dear Fly-Over States – I personally believe each of you are citadels of a vibrant and worthy local culture – Did you know Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote?).

Flying has never been one of my superpowers, but, thanks to modern psychopharmaceuticals, I’m convinced there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together. That is, me and pills. At present writing, I’m waiting for the invisibility pills to kick in – at least that’s what I’m going to tell my editor who probably has noticed by now that I’m not at my desk (I’m, in fact, in Santa Barbara waiting for the “I took the wrong return flight back from Boston and am now at the beach pills” to wear off). I blame my doctor, or at least the customer service-bot on that Kanuck website. (Disclaimer: This is satire, not a suggested means of addressing one’s psychopharmacological needs. Woe be unto the sap on the same path as VinSpinPR’s Mick Robbins, who confused his prescriptions on a soul-searching trip to Joshua Tree and became, to coin a phrase, overly Viagravated.)

Anyway, at the airports I’ve visited of late, what I hadn’t expected is the sudden appearance of iPod vending machines. Is this the future of impulse-driven point-of-purchase sales? Luxury items (anything that doesn’t feed you, in my book) marketed as convenience? I should have been tipped off when driving into the Oakland airport, which greets visitors with a vast, rotating iPod sign featuring the ubiquitous silhouette of juxtaposed white earbuds. Am I the only one who perceives violent undertones in the Rorschach-like shadows of these ads? (Google our film “Orange” for the antidote.) Don’t tell me. I’ll get a prescription.

With my iPhone safely set on “Airplane Mode,” I’m already an Apple zombie, so I needn’t feed the machine. Moreover, I had loaded this pocket-sized communication-entertainment system with MP3s of “Mornings in Sonoma with Ken Brown,” on KSVY. Of course, I only downloaded the Friday edition of the show – the one I co-host – to have the pleasure of my own voice soothing me to sleep. Turns out it doesn’t work that way. What happens instead is akin to walking into an aural hall of mirrors wherein every annoying tick, stutter and stammer becomes amplified to the nth degree. I began to wonder whether I actually speak English or some horrid pidgin cobbled together from Dick Cavett reruns. I turned myself off (yeah, try that, Mick Robbins) and sought distraction by timing the exits of the apparently bladder-impaired couple next to me who tag teamed the rear restroom for the duration of the flight. When a steward rolled by peddling beverages, I hissed, “Don’t do it.” He did, and five minutes later they were tap-dancing again at the back of the jet. That’s when I realized I did have a superpower – an infinite bladder. I pledge to use it only for purposes of good, which I suppose means if I’m ever in front of you in the men’s room line at the Fig, you can ask for cuts.

The Hot Sauce Academy’s Ben Schwartz, Adam Pally and Gil Ozeri feel the same, as evidenced in their rather dark parody below.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

To leaven your mood, check out our film “Orange,” Raymond Daigle and I made using similar techniques.


This is not an iPod ad.Of the many joys to be experienced working with Raymond Daigle at FilmArt3, making our weekly “Flipbook” short films has been one of the more rewarding. Our latest endeavor is Orange – a little flick that began life as a dodge of sorts. Three House MultiMedia designer Barney LaHaye called to get the title of our next film for our house-ad in the Sonoma Valley Sun, but we didn’t have a title. In fact, we didn’t even have a film. Raymond and I theorized that if we gave Barney a purposely vague title, the film could be about anything. Raymond suggested Orange and the ad was placed. In the meantime, inspiration struck – a quick chat about silhouetted characters in front of an orange backdrop sparked the seeds of our dialog, which I had on paper within half and hour. We laid the vocal track in Studio B at KSVY with Raymond and Flash Lely performing the male characters and Sharon Nalezny lending the female voice. We shot against green screen the following day, however, Raymond elected to be behind the camera so I pantomimed in his place. After we learned some hard-won lessons about chroma keying, Raymond finished the cut this afternoon. The result is a comic riff on communication between the sexes with a certain color thrown in for good measure. However, the cross pitch might read “an iPod ad meets Woody Allen.” Watch it here.