29 Comments

  1. Just a genre mash-up.

    There’s a thing about pilot bars where pilots go to drink after their shifts and are…. important men leaning into their drinks. (If I was an english major I could do a research people about the literary significance of the pilot bars in popular culture. But I’m not… I’m just a bozo on the internet and all I can do is mention it and *everyone* will say “what are you talking about? I never hear of such a thing” and I’ll try to google and not really come up with any good examples…)

    ANd there’s a thing about cowboy bars… this everyone knows, the wild west saloon… surely no-one will question me on that…

    So this is just a mash-up of genres. What if a pilot wandered into a wild west saloon?

  2. Every airport has a bar reserve *only* for pilots and pilots who go to them …. well, think, they are hot stuff. Just like cowboys in a wild west saloon think they are hot stuff.

    Now…. reference…. quote some tropes….

    Well, the first two that come to mind are the episode of the Simpson where Marge has fair of flying. The intro was Homer was banned from Moe’s and desperately tries to find another bar he can fit in. He finds a pilot bar but only pilots are allowed to drink so he takes a jacket from a drunk pilot.. And then he is forced to fly a plane and … well, it’s the Simpsons…..

    The other is the opening scene of Michael Moore’s “The Island of the Sequined Love Nun” and well, … none of you have probably read that. … And there’s probably some scenes in Top Gun which I’ve never scene but they probably started the trope.

    So what if a pilot with pilot ego wandered into a wild west saloon…..? That’s the joke.

  3. I’ve never met an airline pilot, but they have a widespread reputation for having oversized egos. If this scene were actually set in 1869 (or even 50 years later, in 1919), this character would be more than just “something special“: he would have been an anachronistic, time-traveling impossibility. In 1969, he might have been unusual enough to warrant the ego, but in 2019 he’s just another corporate employee who happens to have landed in an old dusty saloon in the middle of nowhere. His oversized salary enables him to buy a drink, but his ego isn’t worth anything in this setting.

  4. Yes, I think it is just a time-travelling joke… flying for a major airline in the Wild West times does make him special, whether he and his interlocutor think so or not. The 19thC isn’t usually associated with airline flying but a famous early chap called Slonnie Sloniger (the original senior pilot, Number One, for American Airlines who flew for them for twenty years) was born 1896 and amassed almost 25,000 flying hours in all from WW1 to 1955. Stats like that make you think of all the potential hotshot pilots – or top nuclear engineers, neurosurgeons, bathyscapers, internet influencers and Mars probe designers – who lived in the 12thC or 10,0000 BC or early 18thC but were unable to realise their talents due to the lack of technical infrastructure.

    My father was an airline pilot 1951-1974, and before that an RAF pilot 1941-46 (he had five years in between helping his mother run a hotel in York, until she died). He wasn’t manically egostistical, and neither, I don’t think, were most of his colleagues and friends, as I recall, though being a jet airliner captain in, for instance, the late 1960s was relatively glamorous (he retired on the Boeing 707 but also flew Comet and Trident jets)(and anyway would rather have been a steam engine driver; he wasn’t that keen on planes but loved trains).

    Airline pilots would (or should) never be seen propping up a bar in uniform – they only wear uniforms when on aircraft and at airports and other duty-related occasions, and also when going to and from work. When out in public – say, popping into the supermarket on the way home from the airport – they hide their insignia, covering up with a bland jacket or taking off removable bits like wings and epaulettes. (WW2 RAF personnel, navy seamen & army soldiers in movies are always shown necking beers in the pub in uniform, but then everyone was in uniform all the time in those days).

    https://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-264850.html is a thread where people chunter about the etiquette of where to wear pilot uniforms.

  5. Wasn’t there an episode of Twilight Zone where the plane went into a different time? Or am I thinking of Stephen King’s Langoleers [I forget the name of the movie; all I can remember is that the sight of the trees moving ’cause SOMEthing was out there terrified me]?

  6. I’m not sure why you’d think a cartoon depicting elements from two time periods would imply time-travel. It’s a cartoon. It’s their nature to be surreally anachronistic.

  7. The disconcerting part of the episode is that the difference between 1961 and now is a LOT greater than the difference between 1939 and 1961.

    SPOILER:

    I’d have stayed in 1961 instead of rolling the dice.

  8. Likely it would be better to compare 1961 to 1983 than to the present; a 22 year span. From 1939 to 1961, we got nuclear weapons, antibiotics, transistors, electronic computers, early space exploration, a civil rights movement and all the upheaval of the second World War (and had to retroactively rename the first World War). For all the cultural upheaval of the 60s and 70s, were two decades later really that different?

    (My question is, did anyone feel like they ought to stay in 1939 just to warn the US about Pearl Harbor? I’d probably also have stayed in 1939 rather than hope for a more accurate return, even if suspecting that the timeline was already too different for my knowledge to be any use.)

  9. Bill: “I’d have stayed in 1961 instead of rolling the dice.”

    1) I presume you meant to say 1939.
    2) They couldn’t land in 1939. They would have crashed. The runway was too short.

  10. “Island of the Sequined Love Nun is by Christopher Moore.”

    That’s what I wrote, didn’t I?

    Scrolls up…. Dang it!

    …. There’s something to be said about an author when you are reading “Noir” and thinking “well, this is no ‘Lamb’ but that’s a pretty high bar… I’d rate this as his mid-range… not quite as good as the Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove but that was my personal favorite of his middle books, but better then … well, no it’s not as good as Fluke which is my least favorite of his mid range…. and …. now that I think about it this is probably Christopher Moore’s worst book… wait, that can’t be right it’s not that bad but…. go through the list, yep, I liked that one, loved that one, loved that one liked that one, that one was okay– I really should reread that soon, loved that one…. yep. This is the worst book he’s ever written…. Oh well.”

    > “The Pocket the Fool stories are kind of dull, but the rest is great.”

    the first one was odd and surreal but… The Serpent of Venice had Steve the Sea Monster!

    By the way… Is there any tie-in of Sacre Bleu into the rest of the Moore Universe. So far as I know there is nothing specific. Nor to Noir I think.

  11. Oof. I looked at the Wikipedia entry about the Twilight Zone story…small problem with the story line, Manhattan Island is a good deal younger (at least in any recognizable form) than any era with dinosaurs. A lot of the East Coast took its current form in the most recent Ice Age – and if I recall correctly, Manhattan in particular is largely glacial moraine (where it isn’t bedrock). Actually (checking online) it’s bedrock where there’s skyscrapers, but there’s a gap in the middle that’s mostly glacial till. So the shape of the modern island is younger than dinosaurs, and definitely its coastline is much modified from that time.

    …1961…I can’t remember what the opinions about plate tectonics were at that time, I have a feeling it was at best a crackpot theory. So there may not have been realization, among either the writers or the public, that geology isn’t fixed.

  12. That’s true, but it probably wasn’t known to the audience at the time. Even continental drift wasn’t a completely accepted theory at the time.

  13. By 1961, continental drift was well on the way to acceptance. The studies of the mid-Atlantic ridge in the 1950s and evidence of sea-floor spreading that developed from that were knocking back the opponents.

  14. 1) Duh. I did mean 1939. I do have an excuse for my confusion: I first saw the episode in 1961.
    2) I stand by the other part, though: they could land in 1939, even if it’s kind of dicey. It has to be better than “we might end up traveling through time again, or we might die, and if we travel through time we could end up in 1 million BC or 1 million AD or maybe even in 1961 in the middle of the Pacific with enough fuel to travel another ten miles.”

    Or in 1938.

  15. Presumably it was cheaper for the show’s producers for the pilots to have a look at 1939 from several thousand feet up using stock footage (I imagine, I haven’t seen the episode) and then disappear into the clouds than to attempt to simulate a 707 crash-landing on a too-short runway and having to meet lots of extras standing around with old planes and fire trucks.

  16. The Boeing 707 shown as an illustration for that Wiki article on the Twilight Zone episode is the one once owned by John Travolta, its reg number N707JT evidently a personalised one. Actual QANTAS / Australian planes have a VH reg prefix, whereas US-registered planes have N. This one has been re-registered in the US with “707” and John Travolta’s initials.

    https://australianaviation.com.au/2019/06/hars-plans-november-for-john-travolta-boeing-707-reports/

    “As VH-EBM and named City of Launceston the 707 was delivered to Qantas in September 1964 and stayed with the airline until 1968. After a brief stint with Braniff Airlines the 707 was converted with a corporate jet interior in the 1970s. Travolta acquired the aircraft in 1998.”

  17. @ narmitaj – I’ll bet that the script was written the way it was for dramatic (rather than logistic = financial) reasons. The “Twilight Zone” tended to prefer creepy, indeterminant endings. Leaving the plane lost in a timewarp is much more unsettling than just stranding them in a definite past moment.

  18. “just stranding them in a definite past moment” – that premise could have seeded a long series exploring the various interactions of the crew and passengers (all together, the “souls”) on board with people, agencies and historical events of 1939 and onwards.

    Some people, as mentioned above, would be warning about Pearl Harbor, others counselling against saying anything about the future, others suggesting the US get in the war sooner rather than later. Plus a raft of inappropriate romance storylines and, of course, people going to meet their parents and grandparents and also, for anyone on board over 22, themselves as younger people. It would have been a mix of Lost, the ending of the last Avengers film with Captain America, a UK series called Goodnight Sweetheart (a comedy series where a married chap finds a portal in London back to the blitz in 1940-41 and has an affair with a young woman back there, while flitting back and forth), and the Ken Grimwood book Replay (where a man dies of a heart attack and is propelled back into his teenage self to relive his life but with all his memories intact, together with opportunity to game the stock market).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodnight_Sweetheart_(TV_series)

  19. @ narmitaj – “that premise could have seeded a long series…
    True, but leaving the passengers in an indefinite limbo would permit a series of serieses (sic.), sort of like an infinity of infinities. Either way, the project would not fit into a 22.5 minute episode. 😉

  20. A lot of Twilight Zone episodes raise questions that are not addressed, partly from time limits, but often just because they wanted some particular moral or cool image rather than to explore the consequences. I wonder if my warning 1939 about Pearl Harbor might end up with me as Dr. McCoy from City on the Edge of Forever, by enabling US isolationism until Germany developed the atomic bomb. The traveler from 1983 to 1961 warning about the Cuban Missile Crisis might lead to a worse outcome if decision makers thought they knew how it would come out; Red Dwarf unseriously considered possible implications of (accidentally) preventing JFK’s assassination, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikka_to_Ride . (But, traveling from now back to 1998, I’m pretty sure I would warn about 9/11; hard to imagine that things could come out so much worse as to not justify trying to save thousands of lives.)

  21. A quick search will find credible sources explaining that the government in general, and the President, in specific, had been warned, though not about the specifics.

  22. Knowing too much is a dangerous thing, true, but the danger then is more to me than to the world or timeline; ideally I would have (other) proof that I’m from the future, and anyway how would I feel if I didn’t try?

    But maybe this explains why time travelers just mess with us with things we won’t notice until later, like “The Wreck of the Titan” or that 1950s TV episode with a man named Trump offering to save the town by building a wall, or maybe it’s as in http://smbc-comics.com/comic/2013-02-09 , to salvage a little comics relevance.

  23. In the one-hour Twilight Zone episode “No Time Like the Past”, the hero goes back in time several times. He tries to warn the authorities in Hiroshima about the bomb, but nobody will believe him. He tries and fails to assassinate Hitler. He tries to warn the captain of the Lusitania, but nobody believes him. Finally he takes up residence in a small town in the 19th century. One thing he knows about the town is that the schoolhouse burned down, injuring several children. He tries to prevent the accident and causes it to happen.

    Written by Rod Serling of course.

  24. @woozy I mean, you’re technically right as it applies to me, but it’s sitting on the shelf in the bedroom, waiting for me to feel inspired. (Moore is at the edge of what I normally read, so only under the right conditions. It didn’t take long enough for the library to go to curbside pickup for that to count.)

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