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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

CineVegas Dispatch: Leaving Las Vegas

I’m finally home from Las Vegas. Apparently I need to sacrifice a goat on the alter of the travel gods or something, because once again my flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem, this time with the fuel gauge. They boarded the flight, we all buckled into our seats, eager and ready to get the hell out of Vegas, and then a couple guys in mechanic’s coveralls popped into the cockpit for a chat with the captain. When you see that, you have to figure they’re not just planning their next poker night or golf game while the plane’s held up at the gate, so folks around me started muttering about a flight delay, and one loudmouth genius in first class indignantly marched up to the cockpit demanding to be told what was going on, only to be quickly put in his place by a feisty flight attendant.

After a while, the captain told us there was a mechanical problem, and we were going to wait a few minutes on the plane to see how long it would take to fix. And a few minutes after that, we got worse news: the problem was serious, the fuel gauge not reading properly, and we were to deplane and take all belongings with us, go sit in the terminal, and wait for an update as they tried to get another plane for us. Much grumbling ensued, with a few optimists here and there reminding folks that it was, after all, better that the fuel gauge had a problem while we were still on the ground rather than at 30,000 feet; hard to disagree with that logic, but of course we’d rather have had no mechanical problem at all and been on our way home.
Eight o’clock, the time of the next promised update, came and went, and folks were getting restless, when finally we got word that, sorry, no other plane was available, and the mechanics were trying to figure out if the plane could be fixed that night, and we’d have another update in an hour or so. At that point, a crowd started to converge around the counter, and the lone older woman shouldered with the dicey task of being the messenger of all this news began to look alarmed. She must have had an “angry crowd” button under the desk or something, because a short while later a much larger male employee showed up to help her out with crowd management.
He politely but firmly informed us of our options: The flights from Vegas to Seattle the next day were already overbooked, but we could choose to be put on the standby list now and be at the top of it, thereby increasing the slim chance we might actually get on one of the flights out the next day. If we did that, though, we’d be giving up our seat on this flight, even if it ended up getting in the air tonight, and the airline would not play for a hotel, because our flight had not yet been canceled.
Further, they couldn’t yet look into getting anyone on flights with other airlines to get home yet, also because this flight had not been canceled, though we could certainly try to find (and pay for) tickets on another airline on our own. They would, however, appease the masses with $5 food vouchers for Burger King; this somewhat mollified the crowd — until they all schlepped down to the food court where the promised Whoppers waited only to find that BK was in the middle of closing, and the vouchers therefore worthless other than perhaps as a source of fiber in and of themselves.
The next update bore better news. The needed part had been procured, the mechanics said they could have it fixed in an hour or so, and the flight crew, who could have ditched the flight and gone to their own hotel, since it had been delayed so long, had very kindly volunteered to stick with us and get us home. It took a bit longer than an hour, but we did finally get on the plane, and much applause ensued when we actually made it into the air and were on our way. I leaned my head against the window, closed my eyes for what felt like two minutes, and when I opened them again we were descending into Seattle. Home sweet home, much later than I’d planned to be there, but at least I wasn’t spending another night in Vegas, and could sleep in my own bed.
A couple of words wrapping up the fest itself. Since I stuck around for Monday (not going to do that next year, by the way … six nights of Vegas over-stimulation is way too long for this chick’s nervous system) I decided to check out Wim Wender’s Palermo Shooting, which I’d seen at Cannes last year at the notorious screening filled with boos and hisses. I’d heard the film had been considerably re-cut since then, so decided to give it another chance. It’s still not a masterpiece of cinema, but it is definitively a better (and shorter) film than the version we saw at Cannes, and the Vegas audience was much kinder than the Cannes critical crowd.
I also caught the documentary jury winner, All In: The Poker Movie, which was pretty entertaining and taught me a lot I didn’t know about the history of the game and its relatively recent resurgence in popularity. For instance, did you know that the reason there are poker tournaments on TV now 365 days a year for your viewing and educational pleasure is because the “hole cam,” which allows viewers to see the players’ hole cards, has made the game more of a spectator sport?
And do you know who invented the hole cam? Henry Orenstein, who also invented, among other things, Transformers. So not only is he responsible for the renewed popularity of poker, he’s also responsible for the existence of the upcoming Transformers 2. And while I’m not looking for that film to be Oscar-worthy or anything, I sure wouldn’t take a bet against it raking in a nice take at the box office.

One Response to “CineVegas Dispatch: Leaving Las Vegas”

  1. bunnybeth says:

    What an adventure (: But I’m glad you got home all right.

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One of the great movies. Charles Bronson, great, Charles Bronson. Great movies. Today you can’t make that movie because it’s not politically correct, right? It’s not politically correct. But could you imagine with Trump? Somebody says, oh, all these big monsters aren’t around he’s easy pickings and then shoot.”
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