You may notice the "Lost" is missing.
It's an inside joke of sorts, since I still haven't posted the rest of my Lost series-finale analysis. Nobody may care to read it at this point — that's not false modesty; I'm certainly over thinking about Lost for now — but I'm nothing if not stubborn, especially when it comes to surmounting the obstacles thrown in my path by, in no particular order, my hinky laptop, hinky Blogger, my hinky Internet connection, my illness, and of course the brother-clucking grassmoles who compounded the previous problems for sport. Most items on that list have conspired to keep me from posting anything for a couple of weeks, chief among them my increasingly unreliable Wi-Fi, so I've been devoting the energy that I have to other projects. I've resumed writing posts for this blog recently, though, some of them timely, and I'll probably start seizing opportunities to publish them; they may be short or serialized and lack much in the way of graphics until circumstances change.
The exact title of this post was also the title of a Lost episode, but that's coincidental to my purposes. Last night on The Late Show with David Letterman, Harry Connick Jr. discussed a recent trip to Istanbul (not Constantinople) and showed off a No Smoking ashtray — even more immediately funny than the one in that link because the base was white instead of clear glass. As I laughed I was reminded of the title of the David Sedaris book When You Are Engulfed in Flames, an essay collection in which Sedaris discusses trying to quit smoking in Japan; it was named for a chapter in an amusingly translated instruction booklet from his hotel room on what to do in case of fire.
That reminded me in turn of the list of similar malapropisms posted in the language lab the summer I studied Japanese. They weren't even really malapropisms, just translations for English-speaking guests in non-English-speaking countries that were a little too literal or otherwise poorly worded, the way the title of the Sedaris book was not so much wrong as perhaps lacking the necessary directness. One favorite, hung on an out-of-service elevator, read "We regret to inform you that you will be unbearable today." Most of them were of a more adult nature, like "Please take advantage of our maids!" and "You may not have children in the bar."
What really makes no sense to me is why the hotel in Istanbul, which had already established that the room if not the entire hotel was no-smoking, had an ashtray at all, let alone a mind-screwing self-contradictory ashtray, but I guess it's nobody's business but the Turks'.