The Devil is in the (Inattention to) Details

Last year, I was beset (if something happens twice, I can say it beset me, right?) by strange messages from vending machines – a gas pump that asked me to remove my NO2 and a stamp machine that prompted me to insert more mojay. This year, the universe is expressing its contempt for my stability by (among other things) occasionally showing me things that are backwards.

Thank You For Flying Arganap
First, there was the Antonov AN-2 biplane in the film Indiana Jones and They Should Have Quit While They Were Ahead. The magnificent Russian biplane was decked out in Pan American-Grace Airways colors and was shown in a traveling shot, superimposed over a map. For some reason, I was completely willing to forgive the fact that Panagra never flew AN-2s, even though the idea is every bit as preposterous as pretty much everything that happened before and after that scene in the film. What I couldn’t forgive, however, is that the scene was printed backwards. I can almost understand a lazy editor thinking that the "PAA" logo looked fine as "AAP", or even that Arganap was a real-sounding name for an airline, though I have more trouble with the use of the word "Ecarg" in the "PAA Grace" logo. But certainly the reversed letters would have jumped out at … anyone?

As an aside, here’s a bit of trivia from the same scene that is coincidentally flossy, in a spine-tingling sort of way: The registration number used on the AN-2 in the film is N48550. In real life, that number belongs to a 1939 Grumman Goose, currently owned by Larry Teufel of Hillsboro, Oregon. Larry’s Goose was the one that we used for the majority of our photo shoots, sound recordings, and flying research for Flight Simulator X. His airplane’s beautiful blue and gold paint scheme, complete with prominent "N48550" on the fuselage and in the cockpit, is the default livery. Click here for a screenshot, and here for an article about this airplane in particular.

Why I Won’t Buy a $14,000 Watch
The next incident happened in Orlando, Florida (watch this space for more on that trip shortly.) I was in a shopping mall, looking for a watch, and I happened on a display case featuring a number of watches by the plainly-named International Watch Company (IWC) of Schaffhausen, Switzerland. I remembered IWC from their peculiar nine minute commercial starring John Malkovich as a pretentious bellhop, and featuring some nice flying scenes with two (real) Spitfires and an awkwardly CG’d Ju-52. You can watch the film here, and even (speaking of pretentious) a "making of" featurette here.  IWC used the film to launch their collection of pilot’s watches and they continue to use an image of a Spitfire in their advertising and store displays.

Did I say "image of a Spitfire?" Sorry – I meant "backwards image of a Spitfire!"

This is a company whose "undisputed specialty" lies in crafting "unmistakeable (sic) originals of chronometry", a company who promises watches that take you "…from the No-Longer to the Not-Yet," and enable you to "…experience the Right-Now in the form of a mechanical work of art" without a hint of irony … prints their advertising materials backwards. Click the image for a closer look at the not-great camera-phone picture I snapped.

Swiss watchmakers are stereotypically synonymous with precision, quality, and detail (and, in my mind, most of them look like Charlie Watts, but that’s neither here nor there.) If they can’t be counted on to get things just right, especially when they’re trying to sell me a watch that costs more than I make in … a while, who can?

Et Tu, Disney?
Apparently not the Imagineers behind the Mission: SPACE ride at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center. (Note: Yes, I know they changed the name and call it "Epcot" now, but, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still an acronym, and will always be the Experimental Prototype Community Of To-MORROW!) I’m sure most of you (both of you?) are gasping in disbelief as you read this, but it’s true: Disney made an ekatsim, to coin a term.

In the queue for the ride, there are a number of stage-setting props and displays that, admittedly, do a pretty good job  of melding real history with the fictitious future (is that redundant?) timeline of the ride itself – pictures of astronauts from the early ’60’s through 2038, a real lunar rover on loan from the Smithsonian, etc. One of the display cases shows plausibly mocked up spacesuits with the "Mission: SPACE" emblem patch on the front. Just below the patch on the suits are switch panels for "environmental controls" and the text is, as you’ve no doubt surmised, backwards. (Another grainy camera-phone pic to the right.)

Granted, this didn’t ruin the ride for me (the fact that I was *not* selected as Pilot in my four-person crew did that), but still … Disney should know better. In fact, Leonard Mosley’s thoroughly discredited biography Disney’s World states that Disney’s apocryphal interest in cryonics was based on his desire to be revived " …in time to rectify the mistakes his successors would almost certainly start making at EPCOT the moment he was dead."

Should Walt be thawed and return to clean things up, this should be tops on his list … right after shutting down every incarnation of the horrific "It’s a Small World" attraction, but that’s neither here nor there.

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