It will come as no surprise to many commuters that the Ventura Freeway provides the setting for one of the tales in the book "Not So Funny When It Happened -- The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure." The story, by Michael Lane and James Crotty, concerns a summer day when the duo were trapped in barely moving traffic on the freeway and Crotty exited their non-air-conditioned jalopy to take his cat Nurse for a walk.
A few cars away, Crotty and cat were summoned by a woman in a white Pontiac with dozens of crystals hanging from her mirror and Gregorian chants playing on her stereo.
They entered her car and plopped down on a Tibetan-rug-upholstered seat, whereupon the woman introduced herself as "Ariel -- the queen of the subconscious."
Soon she was wiping away tears.
"It must be that damn cat of yours," she said. "God knows I just adore those creatures but I can't get within a foot of them without going crazy. Zoran says I'm allergic because I was Cleopatra in a past life."
Travel misadventure (cont.): Ariel, who was on her way to the Whole Life Expo, chatted for a while, then seemed to suffer a nervous breakdown unrelated to the cat. Crotty and the creature returned to their own car.
There the tale ends, but as a reader I felt left up in the air. The writers never say whether they got off the Ventura Freeway.
Switching to traffic in the Ventura area: Skip Taft spotted a truck that you wouldn't think needed rescuing (see photo).
Translation, please: Donald Bentley of La Puente received a notice from ever-personable Bank of America that seemed to be written in code (see accompanying). He was concerned by the "recently" but encouraged by the "fortunately."
Designer kindling? Stacy Johnson of Long Beach saw an ad for some firewood that would seem to be too charming to burn (see accompanying).
Brainstorm: John Stein of Pacific Palisades was in a hotel in Mendocino County when a power outage struck during a rainstorm. In the middle of the night, he tried to answer the call of nature but found himself stumbling around in the dark. Then he spotted a small light nearby. It was his laptop computer. He opened it and used it like a flashlight to find the bathroom. Who says city folks can't rough it?
miscelLAny: Jan. 22 will mark the 60th anniversary of KTLA-TV Channel 5 being on the air. And Dec. 1 will mark the 60th anniversary of newscaster Stan Chambers at the station (imagine how many ratings periods he survived). One of the first recognizable faces in the local media, Chambers recalled in his autobiography that he was shopping in a Thrifty drugstore one day in 1963, unaware that the Baldwin Hills dam had burst. Another shopper approached him and said, "What are you doing here? The dam's breaking."