Greetings from New Zealand!

Thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I’m writing you from the bacon-scented environs of a fashionable hotel in Auckland, New Zealand. You may be asking yourself, “Mark!” (well, except you wouldn’t say, “Mark!” if your name is something else. But you get the idea.) Anyway, you may be asking yourself, “[Insert your name here]! Why is he awake? He said he was going to be taking a loooong sleep! More inconsistencies and disinformation from that Master of Sophistry, no doubt!”

Allow me to explain: something wonderful happened to me last night on the plane. I slept! I was on one of those colossal 747-400s. Imagine a suburban multiplex theatre with wing stuck on the sides and you pretty much get the idea. Anyway, it being a Tuesday and the US being at war with Bronze Age thugs known to commit mass murder with flying cinemaplexes and, well, the plane was lightly loaded with us human freight. So I had a whole row of seats to myself. So I settled in with my laptop and plugged away on the Mary book for a while, then, when the batteries in the laptop and my brain wore down, I decided to get something to put me to sleep.

Quantas was kind enough to provide Improving Messages about Deep Vein Thrombosis and this might have done the trick if they’d gone on longer. However, they ran the film marathon instead (Maid in Manhattan, Far from Heaven, Two Weeks Notice, and The Emperor’s Club). By the end of Maid in Manhattan (Plot: Is Jennifer Lopez (aka “Jenny from the Block”), High Strung Diva, really going to convince anybody she’s a Working Class Hero Babe in touch with the Street? Subplot: Can Ralph Fiennes sound American?), I was starting to experience cognitive dissassociation. So I did a first (for me). I took a sleeping pill and flopped over across the other two empty seats.

Through that miracle of modern chemistry, I was saved another Hollywood exposition on the Repressed ’50s, something with Sandra Bullock as a Modern Woman in Today’s World, and some sort of retread of Dead Poet’s Society. I more or less slept through flight, wakened only ocassionally by those Twilight Zone gremlins on the wings that make planes bump and jolt. It was a huge improvement over my last trip in ’97, where I slept not a wink and had a keen sense of how Korean war brainwash victims must have felt after days in sensory deprivation chambers. The endless roar of the engines, the endless night outside, the inane movies within, and airline food as your only friend. The horror! The horror! It all comes back to me!

Anyhow, I’m settled into the hotel now and will go have breakfast here in a bit. But I thought I’d give you the first bulletin. Auckland is as I remember it: Pleasant early autumn weather rather like autumn in San Francisco (which is about as far north of the equator as I am south of it). When something more eventful than breakfast happens, I’ll write again. As far as the flight itself goes, there was nothing much to report, which is how I like it. Any flight you don’t remember for the rest of your life is a good one in my book.