Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Russians Are Coming!

New York City

In the 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, a Soviet submarine accidentally runs aground near a small New England town during the Cold War, sparking fear and chaos throughout the community. However, when the Russian navy actually arrived in force a hundred years earlier, it was greeted with open arms. That naval visit, presumably an act of friendship during the American Civil War, was orchestrated by the Russian government. In reality it was a ploy, feigning an alliance with the Northern states to discourage the European powers from intervening in the Polish Rebellion which the Russians were brutally crushing. Still, Russia’s ulterior motives were of little interest to those caught up in the struggle to preserve the Union. Indeed, President Lincoln  appreciated getting at least this measure of international support, given that Great Britain and France were still toying with the idea of supporting the Confederacy.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Come Fly with Me

American Airlines

Julie (1972)

Although stewardesses are now called flight attendants, some things in commercial aviation have not changed much over the years, such as the in-flight meals. Restaurant critic Bryan Miller once observed, “The quality of food is in inverse proportion to a dining room’s altitude, especially atop bank and hotel buildings (airplanes are an extreme example).” It is not as if the airlines never tried. For example, during the years immediately after World War II, when transatlantic air travel was still a novelty, American Airlines worked with famous restaurants to improve the quality of its food on their new routes to European destinations.1