This verb or noun or adjective seems popular in large vessel names. A century and a half ago Currier and Ives depicted this vessel called Ocean Express. Suppose Columbus really wanted to dub the Nina “India or New World Express”? Or Ulysses the “Itaka Express”? “Argo Express”?


Is there even a local to Ludwigshafen


or Turin?


This one never goes to Oslo.


I doubt this carries anything made from cherries. Might Fedex order a future genration of sail vessels? Might these vessels get slippery bottom paint and rechristen (as Federal Express did) . . . turning these into Ludwex, Turex, Osex, and Sakex?

Which also brings me to this consumer season, transportation of consumables, and a kids’ book called Polar Express. Let’s mess with Van Allsburg’s story a bit: It’s Christmas Eve and a restless child named . . . Pat living near the top floor of a high-rise apartment block waits to hear the sound of the mythical elf. This apartment is near the sixth boro. Instead of sleigh bells, deer hooves, and laughter, Pat hears a ship’s horn. The ship is anchored at the edge of the channel closest to the apartment. The lifeboat is lowered and some crewman invite Pat to come with them to . . . what’s left of the northern polar ice cap, promising all the hot chocolate he could drink and a chance to meet the red-clad elf . . .


You know . . . I don’t think this story works. How come as Van Allsburg’s kids’ story or Zemeckis movie it works, but when I try it out here, it sounds more than a little creepy?

Of course, NYPD would rescue Pat and arrest the crewmen, who would likely be convicted and expressed behind bars on some island for a long long time.

Would it work if it were set in the harbor but 150 years ago and with sailing ships like Ocean Express? Or if I made the steel ships more conventionally magical . . . like back before sunrise with Pat holding a noise-making gift (a mini ship’s horn or bell, of course) that only the youthful and innocent can hear? If the book–or blogpost–ended with a line like Van Allsburg’s does:

At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even [my sister] found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”