Is Toby Keith from Portland? (Part the Second)
Sunday, March 7, 2004
In the first part of this story I discussed my first few days at Western Winter Blast 2004, and now I'll fill you in on the remainder of the convention and the problems I had getting home afterward.
The fireworks show I watched from my balcony was not the only show that weekend; there was a vendor display of Class C product planned for Sunday as well as another show and while I didn't have my camcorder so I didn't get any footage of the show, I did manage to take some stills of the vendor display:
(of course, the logo isn't consumer fireworks but I thought I'd include it here because it looks neat)
I also managed to use my digital camera to take a brief (1.7 MB) video clip of the finale, which you can see here (opens in a new window). Before anyone asks: yes, they do look like sperm, don't they?
Once the consumer show was done it was time for the main event, complete with drunken rednecks and people who didn't understand the concept of "Down in front," as well as others who couldn't figure out that if you've yelled "Down in front!" twenty or thirty times and people are still standing up, that just maybe they're not listening to you and you should either give up or go over to them and confront them directly.
Now, I can be as patriotic as the next guy...unless the next guy is President Bush or one of his cronies. However, it's one thing to market fireworks with a patriotic theme...
...and it's something else entirely to start off a show (after some annoying generic female pop singer's rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner) with Toby Keith singing about how "I can say what I want 'cause I have freedom of speech" when he's the guy who lambasted Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks for voicing her opinion about Bush. I couldn't even try to tune out the song because part of the enjoyment I get from fireworks is evaluating how well the music and effects are synchronized, so I had to listen. Somehow I managed to get through the song without vomiting on the beer-fuelled white trash sitting to my right (this show was open to the public -- all of the convention attendees knew how to behave properly), although they were whooping it up so much they might not have even noticed some extra party favours.
For the record, the show was great even with the "Hooray USA!" element.
I spent the next day (Monday) kicking back and goofing around; I visited London Bridge (you know, the one some developer bought and transported stone by stone, then rebuilt as a tourist attraction) and wandered around, looking at the shops until I saw a sign that said:
Well, of course I had to go in.
I sampled some jerky (they had buffalo, ostrich and turkey among others) and wound up buying some ostrich to take home (USDA Approved...says so right on the label!). On the way back to the hotel I stopped at an In-&-Out Burger because I'd heard so many good things about them; personally I didn't think they were much different from other burger places, other than that this was the first burger joint I'd ever been to that listed Bible verses on the burger wrappers...what is up with that?
On Tuesday I drove back to Vegas (with nothing interesting happening other than seeing a billboard for a Texas based vasectomy reversal company), getting there about 2 hours before my flight. I checked in using the automated system and because my car rental was less than I'd expected it to be, I thought I'd treat myself to an upgrade to First Class..this act appears to be what set in motion the chain of events that leads me to believe that Portland, Oregon, USA has some serious hate on for me.
After getting some lunch and a Frappuccino (did you know that, at least at the Las Vegas airport, you can't take a plastic cup through the security checkpoints? The Starbucks staff asks if you're going through security and if so, they give you your drink in a paper cup), I headed for my gate. I made it through with minimal hassle (they did a nitrate check on my carry-on case because the laptop and camcorder showed up on X-ray, but the test came up negative) and sat down to wait for my flight.
Some time later, they made an announcement that the flight was delayed and they'd keep us posted.
Sometime after that, they made an announcement that the flight was still delayed and they'd keep us posted; they offered us vouchers good for $5 at the snack bar and aa prepaid phone card so we could let people know we were delayed.
Sometime after that, they announced that the flight was cancelled and that we should talk to a Customer Service Rep to be rebooked on a different flight; apparently something happened in Portland and the plane never left.
Instead of a direct flight to Vancouver in a nice, comfy First Class seat I ended up back where I started but in reverse; a jet from Vegas to Sea-Tac and then a turboprop from Sea-Tac to Vancouver..and, of course, they couldn't give me a seat upgrade because I was lucky to get the flights I did (hey, I'm not complaining because I understand that I was fortunate to be rebooked so quickly; I'm just sayin', ya know?).
I started wondering what was going on when they announced that my new flight, coming in from Portland, was also delayed.
We left Vegas an hour late, which actually worked out okay because it meant that I'd be spending one less hour sitting in SeaTac waiting for my connecting flight...until they announced that the plane for Vancouver was delayed, and guess where it was coming in from? You guessed it, PORTLAND!
I sucked it up, pulled out the laptop and paid for a 3-connection, umlimited time per connection Wayport access to the wireless network in the airport. If you frequent Three Way Action's Chat channel, you might have been there when I logged in and said hello to everybody there while I was stuck waiting for my plane.
Finally the plane arrived, and finally I made it to Vancouver; it was pissing rain and I arrived 5 hours later than I was originally supposed to, but I was home. Fate, however, wasn't quite finished screwing me over yet; one of my bags didn't make the re-route from my original flight to the new one, and my other bag was damaged in transit. It wasn't all bad, though, as the second bag arrived the next day and was delivered to my place of work, and the airline paid to have my suitcase repaired.
Toby Keith and Portland's vendetta aside, the trip was enjoyable and worthwhile; I'm looking forward to attending WWB 2005.
One more thing...since I've already angered the political gods and suffered their wrath, I might as well get one more thing off my chest: