responsiveslider_lol_02 The Language of Light DVD - More
MeetJoe_02 Meet Joe McNally - More
inthebag What’s in the Bag? - More

The Sounds of Silence….

Aug 4

In Rambling, Rants at 7:30am

Just flew Frontier Airlines for the first time. They did a good job. Counter agent was very nice and didn’t even give me the evil eye when I approached laden with 8 pieces to check and just me traveling. Everything was pretty smooth, though, as is typical of every airline, a little tight in coach. I was working on my laptop, and the guy in front of me decided to recline suddenly. I think I might have broken a rib. It’s really, really hard to type when you have to lift your stomach off your keyboard to get to the keys.


So Frontier’s cool, though it is, as their jaunty slogan suggests, a different kind of animal. Rustic is perhaps a good way to put it. I half expected the flight attendants to be wearing red plaid shirts and suspenders. Their free snacks were decidedly on the natural foods, chex-mex side of things. When I passed the flight deck I thought I heard the pilot and co-pilot humming bars from “I’m a Lumberjack and I’m Okay.”

The real trouble with flying a crunchy airline out of a crunchy city is that you might end up sitting near someone who just visited the Pacific Northwest and had a life altering, body scrubbing, soul searching, colon cleansing experience. Such was my fate to sit close-by to someone who had done just that.

Fresh from the salubrious, pine tinged air of the great outdoors, this particularly exuberant, thoroughly pleasant wacko had just been ensconsed at some ashram type of retreat where no conversation was allowed. Yep. Couldn’t speak a word for over, like 48 hours. Silent. Non-verbal. Not a peep.

And my wasn’t she the little pent up bundle of conversation! Holy shit. I was listening (it wasn’t a choice) from a couple rows of seats away in the waiting area, straining my eyes to see if I could see the aisle and seat number on her ticket. I kept thinking about ย  Airplane! and those folks who offed themselves rather than listen to another word about George Zip.

Oh my. Evidently, the place was really beautiful, and the experience of utter silence so profoundly soothing that, like a magpie on speed, she just chattered on about it to anyone in earshot, leaving any sense of the irony of it all bobbing in the wake of the twin Evinrudes of her lips.

Evidently theย  deep, nearly spiritual connection with silence didn’t take. She was a one person cocktail party, basically supplying both ends of the conversation as people desperately tried to appear otherwise engaged. It’s tough, though, attempting to appear compelled by reading the type on the air sickness bag.

It’s okay. Another day in the skies.ย  A baby started screaming, and the steam went out of any talking in our section. Lord what a wonderful noise.

More tk….

Tim Skipper says:

on August 4, 2010 at 7:44 am

Well thankfully you made it safely to your destination with your humor still intact. I personally seem to attract those type of people. Once checking out at a store I asked the cashier how she was doing. She told me including how bad her kids were, how little money she had, and how her husband didn’t satisfy her in bed. When we left the store my wife asked if I knew her which was a big no.

I now have instructions not to ask that question again.

Jeffrey Chapman says:

on August 4, 2010 at 7:53 am

“the twin Evinrudes of her lips”… that could be the best line ever. EVER! I love it.

Joe Sankey says:

on August 4, 2010 at 7:56 am

Oh, man; my sides hurt from laughing… That’s hilarious. You’ll never complain about a screaming baby again, will you? :) (Of course you will.) Thanks for a bit of levity this morning.

Paul Wolke says:

on August 4, 2010 at 7:59 am

Thank you. It was unexpected to find this completely non-photography related commentary and very amusing in a “I can completely understand” kind of way.

Thanks for the light-ness!

Doug Kaye says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:03 am

LOL. I could hear and feel every moment of your agony, Joe.

Dennis Pike says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:05 am

Headphones are such a saving grace on flights. even if they aren’t plugged into anything, just put the cord in your pocket and people leave you alone. Or, keep a copy of the necrinomicon with you, just to freak people out.

Johnny says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:11 am

Look on the bright side, you didn’t get coffee spilled on you and the kid in the seat next to you didn’t throw up on you. It can get worse… Thanks for the morning laugh!

John Verbruggen says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:15 am

Hey Joe,

It’s time that they put an alarmsignal on those chairs in plains. Much saver! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Happy travels!

Jay Mann says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:18 am


I used to be a professional traveller, car spent more time at the airport than in the driveway, so I appreciate the comments.
See you In Iceland in a couple weeks.


Bob DeChiara says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:21 am

Are those Moose’s images on the stabilizer of each Frontier plane? Ha Ha. (

Ian Mylam says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:21 am

Joe, you are wasted as a photographer, you should have been a stand-up… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Catalin Onel says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:51 am

Man oh man do I laugh everytime I visit your blog. I can say hands down this is both the funniest and most serious photography blog out there. It always gives me that fresh breath of air knowing that Joe has posted some new stuff. I think that making public your flight schedule could spare you of this unpleasant experiences and who knowsm you might even consider doing some in-flight lighting workshops :) My respects. Romania loves you !

Ranger 9 says:

on August 4, 2010 at 8:57 am

I’m so old (and so Midwestern) that I can remember Frontier when they flew tail-dragger DC-3s and their tail insignia was a green silhouette of a mallard flying across a full moon. Later they switched to turboprop Convair 580s (still with the mallard.)

Aside from great, genuinely friendly cabin crews, the great thing about either of those twin-engine propeller airliners was that the sheer din was enough to drown out even the most colon-cleansed soliloquist.

Michael Wiesman says:

on August 4, 2010 at 9:41 am

I find it very valuable to never forget my pair of Bose Headphones when ever I am about to let my feet leave the ground, no matter what the airline. It’s never going to get old listening to airplane stories because someone always will have a new story to share that will one-up the best one that you have already heard. haha. Gotta love travel!

This one time I was flying Midwest; as I was approaching my seat I saw a little kid pop their head over the back of a seat. My first thought, I better not have seat anywhere near him. Ends up that I had the seat directly in front of the little rugrat. Now I can share what it’s like to have matchbox cars driven on your head for 4 hours.

Cheers, Joe and Drew!

Mark says:

on August 4, 2010 at 9:47 am

Great post. Brought a few smiles to my face. I could smell the pine and hear the “chatter box” ramble on. Good stuff.

Mike Mahoney says:

on August 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

Too funny… great post, Joe! And I thought you always arrived in private Learjets… there goes my dream of fame and fortune as a photographer. :)

Lorri E says:

on August 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

Thanks Joe, now I’m going to have the Lumberjack song stuck in my head all day.

Mike McGinnis says:

on August 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

The best purchase I ever made was Bose Noise Canceling Headphones.
See you in NH in Sept.

Lyle says:

on August 4, 2010 at 10:06 am

“It’s really, really hard to type when you have to lift your stomach off your keyboard to get to the keys.”

we must be brothers of a different mother….

Imagine what a consolation your listening ear must have been to her ! (and did you offer to be a second godfather to the baby ?)

Heather says:

on August 4, 2010 at 10:09 am

this is probably one of the funniest posts i’ve read in a REALLY long time! so glad to have discovered this blog!

John A. says:

on August 4, 2010 at 10:12 am

LOL this made my day. Not only do you have a gift with the camera, your writing is fantastic! Kinda reminds me of something along the lines of Hunter S. Thompson …less the plethera of narcotics. :)

nick wilson says:

on August 4, 2010 at 10:22 am

Thanks for the morning entertainment… “Holy shit”

Ron says:

on August 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

Joe, freaking hilarious!

This story struck a chord with me, I’m often amazed and annoyed at people who assume everyone wants to hear all the random sh!t passing through their brain (as it were). Alumni of STFU.

“…twin Evinrudes… = priceless.

Thanks for a great start to my day!

– Ron

Bill Bogle, Jr. says:

on August 4, 2010 at 10:34 am

Too bad you did not get seated before her and use your barf bag on the seat and I am not feeling all that chipper routine. Clears an aisle well.

Bill Bogle, Jr,

Patrick Delany says:

on August 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

LOL! If you ever get tired of taking pictures, you should condider a career in writing. I’ll bet it felt good to exponge all negative rememberaces via your words. I don’t wish any more of those types of situations on you, but selfishly hope it happens again so I can enjoy more of your prose. Thanks for a much needed piece of levity in an otherwise dull morning. Keep it coming!

Patricia Wiskur says:

on August 4, 2010 at 11:45 am

…”the twin Evinrudes of her lips”… is one of my all-time, FAVORITE JMc quotes. It has Walt Disney written all over it…

Howard Haby says:

on August 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm

:) “She was a one person cocktail party…” Funny stuff, Joe. I’m gonna use that when the occassion presents itself, if you don’t mind.

Fizzah Raza says:

on August 4, 2010 at 1:44 pm


Angi says:

on August 4, 2010 at 2:24 pm

You were wishing someone had given HER a Benadryl instead of the little children this time?
There’s just no pleasin ya! ๐Ÿ˜€

Jay Goodrich says:

on August 4, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Hey Joe,

That screaming baby was in fact my 1 year old son Micah. You’re welcome, I’m glad we were the solution for once.


Matt Timmons says:

on August 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Gotta see the airline scene in “Fight Club”. Those people are called “single serving friends” and that’s what air travel provides.

Sherried says:

on August 4, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Thanks for sharing. This post brightened a very boring afternoon!

Steve says:

on August 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm

You obviously chose to fly this Crunchy airline for a reason…they were cheaper than everyone else!

John Van Boxtel says:

on August 4, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Heh, narrowly avoid a raid by pirates, and this lovely flight a with granola crunching wacko. Yeah, you probably won’t be coming back to Portland… ever.

Lori says:

on August 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm

“leaving any sense of the irony of it all bobbing in the wake of the twin Evinrudes of her lips.” – Priceless!

Richard Davis says:

on August 4, 2010 at 4:13 pm

An indellible image and no lights nor camera needed!

gregory peel says:

on August 4, 2010 at 5:20 pm

What, you didn’t offer up any benadryl this time? lol

Glyn Dewis says:

on August 4, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Geez sounds like quite a flight…lol

‘A one person cocktail party…’ .. fantastic; just says it all I guess :)

Hope the recovery is speedy,
All the best to you,

Kurtis Kronk says:

on August 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm

You clearly kept yourself very entertained writing this (broken ribs and all) to maintain whatever was left of your sanity as the babbling babbler babbled babbly.

Pick yourself up some Shure in-ear headphones and you’ll be in heaven on future flights. As someone else said, even if they’re not plugged into anything. :)

Mark Mercado says:

on August 4, 2010 at 9:10 pm

as quoted

“leaving any sense of the irony of it all bobbing in the wake of the twin Evinrudes of her lips.”

you’re actually a writer making a living out of photography, playing with words as if they were speedlights.

Melissa R says:

on August 5, 2010 at 8:07 am

Hehehe. *sigh* Thankyou very much for the laughs this morning, I love the images you paint regardless of the medium you use.

Craig says:

on August 5, 2010 at 8:27 am

I think benadryl needs to come up with a misting version. Walk by and a quick hidden mist in the air and 10 minutes later silence.

Ivan says:

on August 5, 2010 at 10:40 am

Joe, I completely relate to your experience!

I commute everyday by train and the same, “twin Evinrudes of her lips” woman, stands on the platform, blabbing away about nothing, every day. Day…after day…after day.

She can give an aspirin a headache!

Skip Barber says:

on August 5, 2010 at 11:34 am

Another great blog, as usual Joe. You brighten up the day whether talking photography or just plain live.

Thanks Joe

Kevin Clark says:

on August 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Noise canceling headphones. It’s the only way to fly. I have two pair. I cheap version with does the job pretty well if you want to hear something plugged in or the more expensive ones that is total silence. Drop about $300 to $400 on a pair you’ll never fly without them. IMO

Doug Wittrock says:

on August 5, 2010 at 11:41 pm

That was some seriously great and funny writing! Methinks she may have missed the point of the golden silence thing for 48 hours.

oliton says:

on August 6, 2010 at 3:33 am

I am so waiting for your next book… (ya know, it’s not for the pictures, but for the articles).
Honestly, your pen is as awesome as your pictures.
Take care

Wayne says:

on August 6, 2010 at 4:53 am

Please bring a handheld camcorder on your journeys and switch it on for these scenarios. As funny as your writing is, I’d love to see your expressions at the time. You could build up a nice collection of short videos of life’s little anecdotes. Very funny stuff Joe.

Deb P says:

on August 6, 2010 at 8:57 am

A hospital? What is it? It’s a big building with patients. But that’s not important right now….

Chucko says:

on August 7, 2010 at 11:26 am

Good rant. Having just flown LA-Seattle on a plane full of cranky kids (not mine) returning from Disneyland, it sent a shudder down my spine.

Like Ranger9, I remember Frontier from when they flew DC-3s into the northern Arizona town where I grew up. The current Frontier is about the third or fourth iteration of the operation—I’ve been meaning to give them a try to Denver.

Werner says:

on August 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

“She can give an aspirin a headache!”: As funny as Joes post is – I REALLY enjoy it – this line just had me in stitches! Relate to your story, Joe – I had babies screaming in my ears and all that. Take it in stride. Thanks for your posts.

Marty Fox says:

on August 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Salubrious? I’m guessing that you travel with a thesaurus.(lol) Great word and great post.

Tsumi Talladen says:

on August 10, 2010 at 10:30 am

This is exactly what Shure noise isolating monitors are for. Any time I travel by air I’ve got those puppies in and the only thing I can hear is the faint, muffled engine. Plus they sound better than Bose =P

Love your work, man!

Paul says:

on December 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I guess everybody recommending the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones have never visited your “What’s in the Bag” page.

Lindsay Shetz says:

on October 28, 2011 at 7:14 am

This post is very useful. I adore the way you compose the idea.

Leave a Reply