Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Russians Are Coming!

New York City

When a Soviet submarine accidentally ran aground near a small town in New England during the Cold War in the 1966 comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, it sparked 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. The naval visit, presumably an act of friendship with the Northern states during the American Civil War, was orchestrated by the Russian government as a ploy, feigning an alliance with the U.S. to discourage the major European powers from intervening in the Polish Rebellion which the Russians were then in the process of brutally crushing. Nevertheless, Russia’s ulterior motives were of little interest to those caught up in the struggle to preserve the Union, including President Lincoln who appreciated getting at least this measure of international support, especially since 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