Saturday, June 14, 2008

Short Takes

I’ve got some things going on today from two sides of my life — a Dramatists Guild get-together in Miami for local playwrights and producers, and then the Florida Democrats Jefferson-Jackson Day events in Hollywood — so I’m going to be a little busy today. These stories caught my attention.

– The eagle flies again.

MARATHON — After a six-hour car ride wearing blinders, and another few minutes to have blood drawn and bands wrapped around its claws while 30 people gawked, the young bald eagle known as No. 303 was ready to fly the coop.

Speaking of flying, the eagle seemed to be the only one who will enjoy it.

For the past decade, airlines have lavished U.S. air travelers with more and more flights to far-flung domestic destinations at rock-bottom prices. But the rising cost of fuel, which has already roiled the nation’s driving experience, is threatening to fundamentally alter the way Americans fly.

It’s not just the loss of free peanuts, pretzels and sodas that’s at stake. Analysts say travelers should brace themselves for a new world of airline travel brought about as the industry tries to keep pace with escalating oil prices. They say travelers should expect fewer flights, for planes to get more crowded and for airlines to steadily jack up ticket prices.

– One smaller city already has heard that one airline is getting out of town.

– Meanwhile, the Saudis are getting nervous that high oil prices might be bad news both politically and economically for the rest of us.

While they are reaping record profits, the Saudis are concerned that today’s record prices might eventually damp economic growth and lead to lower oil demand, as is already happening in the United States and other developed countries. The current prices are also making alternative fuels more viable, threatening the long-term prospects of the oil-based economy.

Gee, ya think?

– The summer of love is coming to California.

California is gearing up for the “new summer of love,” as it is being dubbed here: the legalization of same-sex marriage beginning at 5:01 p.m. Monday.

Unlike in Massachusetts, California’s new law does not limit marriages to residents of the state, thus resurrecting old postcard images of California as the promised land. But instead of Edenic orange groves, the new arrivals will be greeted with organic framboise ganaches, Russian River honeymoon canoe trips and Gay Palm Springs hotel packages with rose petals, Champagne, two souvenir pillows embroidered with the couples’ first names and aromatherapy candles at room check-in.

Faced with a wilted economy, water shortages and sticker shock at the gasoline pump, many California businesses are welcoming “the dinks” (double income, no kids) with open arms. “It’s basically a godsend,” said Daniel Doiron, the general manager of the Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs, which is offering honeymoon specials from $479 bargain basement (boutonnieres, 15-minute wedding, 20 guests) to the “Elizabeth Taylor” at $29,999 (poolside villas, wedding cake and reception, ice sculptures, flowers, sit-down dinner for 200 and three nights in the honeymoon suite). “We’re just blessed to help.” Ten couples from New York, Las Vegas and Phoenix have signed up for the options.

See, this is what I’ve been telling people for years; the gay wedding business could be a lifesaver for the travel industry, not to mention all those bridal shops along Miracle Mile in Coral Gables.

Jack Kelly, the Toledo Blade‘s miserable excuse for a token right-wing nutball, lives in a magnificent glass house and he has a big bag of stones to throw at Barack Obama regarding shady lobbyists. As I noted earlier this week, laughing at and mocking the righties is the best way to deal with their inanities, and this pompous second-string blowhard is the perfect target for derision and bemused mockery. Have fun.

Tigers Update: Whoo-hoo! They’ve got a four-win streak going, having shut out the Dodgers last night 5-0.