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How to pass time without books

There was a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the activities one can undertake when stranded on a plane trip without any books.

We’d barely cleared Italian airspace, though, before the screen in front of me – and every other one on the plane – froze, flickered and then displayed something that looked an awful lot like Microsoft’s dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Every video channel went dead; every audio channel went silent. For the next half hour the crew tried to reboot the entertainment system half a dozen times, and finally gave up.

Entertainment-wise, we were on our own.

It is an interesting quandary, and readers from Shelf Awareness have been writing in with their own solutions…

Jane O’Connor, editor at Penguin Books for Young Readers, offers yet another literary time killer:

Write the alphabet down one column. Pick a phrase from newspaper, book, airplane mag, whatever. Then pair the first 26 letters of the phrase with the alphabet letter. For example, if the phrase was “the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy . . .” your letter pairs would be: AT, BH, CE, DQ, EU, and so on. Then try to come with a famous name for each pair: Arthur Treacher (of Fish and Chips), Bob Herbert (of the New York Times) and so on. Fun to play competitively. Set a time limit. You get one point for a name that another contestant has, two points if you’re the only one with the name.

It sounds like a fun game, and sounds a lot like one I play with friends on road trips. You start with an authors name, “Charles Dickens” and the next player in line has to say an authors name starting with the final letter of the previous author “Sylvia Plath”… then “Harold Pinter” and so on. The rule is you can’t repeat an author twice, and usually we play high stakes – If you can’t come up with an author, or if you repeat, you have to buy the next round of coffees (if we are driving, if we are at the pub its a different game all together)

It may sound easy but there’s a skill in the game, such as trying to work in authors with the last name FOX, because there are only so many blokes named Xavier…

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