Titanic Cliche of the Day: Bulgaria is like Titanic!

Bulgaria_1994_CIA_map
Bulgaria is just like Titanic says former prime minister.

Titanic is getting lots of use these days in politics. Left, right, middle, anarchists. So it comes as no surprise that at a meeting of the Socialist International that someone would bring up Titanic. And that someone was the former Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Sergey Stanishev:

“The situation in Bulgaria could be compared with the sinking of Titanic, the Cabinet is like an orchestra that was playing joyful music so that the poor in the third class to drown in a good mood, while the rich in the first class were rushing to save their bacon”

Standart News, Bulgaria Is Like the Titanic, 30 May 2010*

*8 Feb 2014-link removed due to malware Google notification.

Dancing With The Stars Ends, Finally!

Our long national agony is finished. Dancing with the Stars (or better known as Dancing With Pros Accompanied by Celebrity Non-Dancers) is over. The folks over at Television Without Pity had the best summation:

Season 10 Performance 9: Results: Come on. You know who won. Do we even really have to go through with this charade?

Not really, no. That about says it all. 🙂

Titanic Victim Finally Gets Tribute & Headstone

Events in Greece and in the Gulf of Mexico likely overshadowed the story of a Titanic victim. Her name was  Kate Buckley who was aboard Titanic sailing to a new life in America. She was coming over to work as a domestic with a ticket paid for by her sister Margaret. Originally she was set to sail on Cymeric for Boston but the coal strike changed that. Instead she was transferred to Titanic and perished when it sank in 1912. Her family, opposed to her going, blamed Margaret (her half sister) for her death. It caused a family rift that was never healed. Kate’s body was found by the Mackay-Bennett and brought back for burial, the only third class passenger to have this done. Her sister requested she be buried in Boston; she was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in West Roxbury in an unmarked grave.

And there the grave remained unknown to anyone until Bob Bracken of the Titanic Historical Society found it. He was shocked there was no headstone and contacted a local monument company, Thomas Carrigg and Sons, to have one made. The likely reason no headstone was ever put up was lack of money. Carrigg according to news accounts often gets requests to make headstones for relatives buried long ago with no headstone. The recent ceremony had nearly one hundred people in attendance. Two of her grandnieces unveiled the monument and roses were placed on the grave by her descendants. Descendants of Margaret and of the Irish family were present. Also present was Irish Consul General Michael Lonergan, Una Reilly chairwoman of the Belfast Titanic Society, along with Bob Bracken and Charles Haas of Titanic International Society.

“I think commemorating Kate Buckley’s death is symbolic of all of the Irish immigrants who sought to come to the United States,’’ said Boston’s Irish consul general Michael Lonergan. “It’s very appropriate that it’s here in Boston.’

Amen to that.

Sources:
thebostonchannel.com, Titanic’s ‘Kate’ Found Buried In Boston, 7 May 2010

WBZ, Titanic Victim Gets Headstone In West Roxbury, 19 May 2010

Irish Central, Titanic Survivor Remembered And Family Feud Healed, 24 May 2010

Food For Thought, Top Chef Masters and other musings

An episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations reminded me of Titanic. Bourdain visited a New York restaurant where time stopped in the pre-War II era. Waiters deliver food on rolling carts and make final preparations at the table. The menu has long forgotten classics of another time and served only in high end restaurants somewhere in France, preferably one in a chateau. The food demands respect and you do not arrive for a meal wearing casual clothes or shirts only a crazed artist would love. The restaurant is about enjoying classic food that is elegant it its preparation and service. A meal not to be rushed but savored with friends much like it was on Titanic’s fateful voyage.

First class meals were served to remind of the best continental restaurants. The First Class Dining Salon and A La Carte restaurant were tailored to the upscale dining experiences its patrons were used to. Nothing was left to chance from the finest woods used for paneling and chairs to the carpets on the floor. Meals required a large staff to not only wait, serve, and to make all necessary preparation to be done for each meal and foods served between them. In 1912 just about everything was done by hand. There were no food processors, immersion blenders, microwaves, or mechanical choppers. It meant hours of chopping, slicing, shredding, and baking. Titanic sailed with a larder that was overflowing from essentials like sugar, fresh produce, to exotic meats and seafood. The first meal was at 7:00 a.m. for early risers in their rooms. Tea, coffee, fruit, scones and jams were likely available along with the ships newspaper, the Atlantic Daily Bulletin.  By then the bakers had been up probably since 2:00 a.m. baking bread. Others would arrive later to prep for the days meals. At 8:00 a.m., the bugle sounded breakfast.

Etiquette and decorum required that gentlemen and ladies attend meals properly dressed, even if it was for breakfast. It was unthinkable to come dressed in casual clothes. Today we do not bat an eye on cruise ships when at breakfast people show up wearing casual shirts, shorts or jogging pants, and sandals or flip-flops. Back then it would have been scandalous and likely got you turned away! And you would have gotten some stern comments from fellow passengers as well. You did not need to formal wear but you had to look the part of someone who took the time to attire and look proper in being upper class. This required, especially for upper class women, changing of clothes often to match what you would be doing. Men too had the same requirement of having formal, semi-formal, and casual wear. Which contributed to why the rich travelled with so much luggage. A 1912 upper-class family would have real difficulty today with all the assorted trunks of clothing needed while traveling.

Formal Edwardian breakfasts were large. King Edward VII (who died in 1910) was known for his big appetite. His breakfasts include fish, grilled meat, poached eggs and spit roasted chicken. First class diners sitting down to breakfast had a menu that offered light meals (fruit, stewed prunes, puffed rice, and Quaker oats). Then it followed the traditional large Edwardian style with fish, grilled meats, eggs made to order, cold meat, rolls, biscuits, jams with coffee or tea. Second class got much of the same. Third class had more simpler fare. There was always oatmeal (or Quaker oats), bread with jams, coffee or tea on the menu. Depending upon the day, it might have an egg dish, fish, stew, meat, or sausages on the menu as well.

Lunch was likely the same as well. We do not know what they ate in first class, since those menus did not survive, but we have a good idea what Lawrence Beesley likely ate. The sample menu shows they started out with a hot soup, roasted meat, followed by cold meats and salads, dessert, fresh fruit, and cheese. In third class the main meal was midday. It had soup, grilled or roasted meats or fish, vegetable, biscuits and bread, and a dessert. Tea time had grilled or roasted meats, fish, or even a rabbit pie. Cheeses, vegetables, fruits, fresh bread, and of course tea. The specimen menu in Last Dinner on the Titanic notes “Kosher Meat Supplied and Cooked for Jewish Passengers as desired.” It is safe to say food in second and third class was of a quality many never had at home.

Dinners were a  major event for first and second class passengers. The First Class Saloon and Al La Carte restaurant cooked elegant and sophisticated meals for those that expected the best. The A La Carte restaurant was even more high end than First Class Dining. It also allowed the diners to select what they wanted to eat. They likely had eight courses to choose from along with the optional, but usually obligatory, ninth course where dessert (fresh fruits and cheeses) was often served. First Class served an astounding eleven courses. Waiters would bring out the food on platters, offered something from every dish, and made wine suggestions. Thus you could take as much or as little as wanted to eat. It is a ritual out of fashion today. We cannot imagine sitting at a table for hours consuming such quantities of food. Yet many did during this period in history. In Last Dinner on the Titanic the authors advise to serve small portions and drinking only a small glass of wine with each course.

“In fact, we found such a meal an amazingly digestible sensory cornucopia. But plan to serve it on a night when you can sleep late the following morning.” (Archibold & McCauley, Last Dinner on the Titanic, p. 70)

Many of the dishes served on Titanic, in fact much of that high end food, went out of fashion though not forgotten. The Edwardian style of large meals has also gone away replaced by a four to six courses that usually includes appetizers, salad (or something similar), entrée, dessert, coffee or tea. High end eating, of course, has not faded away. Bourdain’s trip to a restaurant that celebrated classics of long ago reminds one you do not need to have Edwardian feasts to enjoy high end old style French cooking. You just need to find the place and respect the food.

Top Chef Masters
-A good show that lacks the interpersonal drama you get with regular Top Chef. The downside is that they are all accomplished chefs with many years in the kitchen. The means the competition is tougher because the standard is high.
-This explains why the judges are tough. They expect something extraordinary and explains why they sent Carmen home in the Wedding Wars episode. They know she is accomplished chef but all she produced was crab cakes and a corn salad. They expected more and she restrained herself (to her regret no doubt).
-It is amusing, at times, to move chefs out of their comfort zone. Sosur Lee had no idea what a tailgating party was. I guess up in Canada they have nothing similar for hockey, soccer, or baseball. He came close to making the mistake of a chef in Top Chef:Chicago who had no idea either. Sosur made a delicious meal but came dangerously close to following the mistake of the Top Chef cheftestant with the Austrian dumpling. Gale Greene was right to lightly tap him for it by telling him a tailgate is not the best place for culture. On the other hand Jonathan Waxman lost his inner Yoda and phoned in his contribution resulting in his near elimination. And we learned grilled pizza is good but you need to bring your A game to compete on this level.

One tip to Sosur: On your next trip to a Little Italy, do not make jokes about Italians, the Mafia, and the Sopranos. They will use you head for bocce ball. 🙂

Man vs. Food
-A lost Edwardian in search of a feast best describes Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food. Adam Richman travels around eating the largest portions of food he can find. He goes to a city, finds the places serving the largest portions, chows down, and then takes on a food challenge. The challenge usually is to eat a super-sized meal that many have tried but few have won. He sometimes wins but food often fights back hard to defeat him. Want to drink a gallon of milkshakes? Adam tried and ended up throwing up ending in food win. One wonders how his doctor feels about the high calories he is taking in!

Bizarre Foods
-Andrew Zimmern travels the world showing us the unusual foods that people eat. Sometimes it is not that exotic with suckling pig in Spain but goes there with bull testicles. Then it was cancelled and they tried something called Bizarre World. All it took for me to avoid the show was seeing Zimmern in body paint (head to toe) for some exotic ritual. Others must have had the same reaction and it did not last so they brought back the show, but with a real twist. Now Andrew travels away from the cities and into the country to see the foods that city people avoid for the most part. How about a dish of fried tarantulas (which sometimes explode in the pan) or raw intestines with poop still in them? Good luck Andrew.

Food Network
-I do not watch the Food Network much these days. I used to long ago but now it is more about entertaining then serious cooking. That does not mean there are not chefs there who try to teach good cooking, it is not just the emphasis anymore. Alton Brown is pretty good and Giada is not bad either. A lot of people dump on Rachael Ray (like Bourdain) for being successful. She does not teach cooking like they do over at America’s Test Kitchen (an excellent PBS show) but does make it accessible to a wide variety of people. I suppose the ding is that she really just shows how to throw things together rather than learning how to really cook. Success does breed contempt at times and this is an example of it.
-Chopped is not a bad show. A slimmed down Top Chef, it has it cheftestants compete for $10,000. To do this they must cook up meals for each segment (appetizers, entrée, and dessert) from a basket of items they cannot see until they open them up. If at the end of each segment a chef fails, then as quick as a guillotine chopping the watermelon, that person is gone. The last two left standing then are judged not only on dessert but everything they presented. And the judges are one tough lot. I am convinced they make them drink lemon juice because they never smile. When they are served food they do not like, they tell you right there. Ted Allen, who was a great guest judge on Top Chef, hosts.
-The Next Food Network Star. Here is a great idea: why not create a talent show to find the next Rachael Ray (or God helps us Bobby Flay)? So the goal here is not to find a top chef but a chef with great personality that people will watch. That distinction is crucial. The winner gets a contract for six shows. Only two have managed to generate ratings that get them renewed (which has to make one wonder how successful this program really is).

Hell’s Kitchen
-And here is the evil: Hell’s Kitchen. Hell’s Kitchen is aptly named since Gordon Ramsey and his cohorts treat the aspiring hires (the prize is a job either with Ramsey or other restaurant) pretty rough. And the people selected are not Top Chef or even Next Food Network Star material. These are the C and D list of cooks. And the punishments meted out to the losers of each round are sometimes childish, silly, stinky, or downright borderline harassment. Sometimes some promising chefs are found but mostly these sad sacks are likely put there by producers to get the desired effect. Which is to see how many times Gordon Ramsey will yell <deleted> at the chefs. Bonus points awarded when he takes plates or pans and throws them into the garbage.

[amazonify]078686303X[/amazonify]

Descendent of Titanic Survivor Wants To Wed on Replica of Titanic’s Grand Staircase

Ben Goldsmith, a descendent of Titanic survivor Frank Goldsmith Jr., wants to wed his fiancee on the Titanic staircase replica at Center Of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio. According to Mansfield News Journal, the couple is taking part in an online competition by COSI to select a couple to wed there in September. Five couples are competing for the chance and votes are taking place online until 31 May.

“It would be an incredible way to honor my family’s legacy,” said Goldsmith, a 1999 Madison Comprehensive High School graduate.

Ben learned of his legacy from his uncle, Tom Goldsmith. Tom, who is an electrician, does presentations at schools on Titanic. It is way to memorialize his family’s loss. Tom got the account directly from his grandfather, Frank Goldsmith Jr. His grandfather never got over what he saw.

“He would tell me part of the story, but I would never get it from beginning to end,” said Tom Goldsmith, a 1981 Madison graduate. “He would tell portions of it like he was still a child. It wasn’t a morbid story, kind of matter-of-fact.”

There are many people who desired to be part of the Titanic experience after the movie. Some tried (and dangerously so) the famous bow scene from the movie. The trend today is the dinner theme by dressing up in period outfits and having a meal based on what was served on Titanic. Getting married on a replica of Titanic’s grand staircase is memorable and even novel. I hope they win the competition. It shows that while Titanic took many lives, those that survived remember the loss and honor their memory.

Mansfield News Journal, Madison Grad Wants ‘Titanic’ Wedding, 17 May 2010

Spoof Alert: Iceland Issues Traffic Citation To Titanic!

Stop the presses! Cable news channels issue those news alerts! Iceland has finally caught up with the party responsible for a hit and run back in 1912.

Spokesman for the police department described the findings as follows: “An iceberg on its regular course with right of way was struck on an April evening in 1912. The ship which struck the iceberg then fled the scene of the crime. A complaint was filed, but we have been unable to find the alleged liner. About ten years ago, with the discovery of the ruins of the Titanic, we begin verifying scratch damage from the iceberg and comparing them with the photos of the sunken ship. We used analysis techniques we learned from watching C.S.I., and the chemistry set we ordered from Wal-mart online, to verify that the Titanic was the perpetrator of the crime.”

Those funny guys at spooftimes are responsible for this. Weekly World News is probably kicking themselves for not getting this first! 😉

Titanic Sequel News:Titanic 2 Straight to DVD

Jokes about a Titanic sequel have sadly proven true. According to Ecorazzi, a sequel has finally appeared. Well sort of. It is not quite a sequel but about a ship called Titanic 2 that according to the marketing is about:

On the 100th anniversary of the original voyage, a modern luxury liner christened “Titanic 2,” follows the path of its namesake. But when a tsunami hurls an iceberg into the new ship’s path, the passengers and crew must fight to avoid a similar fate.

Tsunami? Iceberg? Personally I was looking for it to be Marvin the Martian testing out a new death ray! 🙂

You can read more details at The Asylum.

Titanic 2: Destined to be a low seller at Amazon.

British Warship Rescues Family After Yacht Hits Iceberg

Fox News is reporting that a yacht in the South Atlantic hit a growler and required assistance. From the news report:

Carl Lomas and Tracey Worth, also known as Lord and Lady Hollinsclough, were sailing to Cape Town with their daughters, Caitland and Morgause Lomas, believed to be in their teens. They ran into trouble in the South Atlantic after hitting a low-lying iceberg similar to the one that sank the Titanic. Falmouth Coastguard helped authorities in the Falkland Islands locate the vessel – named Yacht Hollinsclough – which had taken on water and suffered engine failure. “What they’ve hit is a ‘growler’, where hardly anything is out of the water and the majority is submerged,” a coastguard spokesman explained. “It is very similar to what the Titanic hit. You can track them by radar or visual lookout, but you can’t see them all.”

Good to learn all have been rescued. One slight quibble is that  Titanic did not hit a growler but likely one that had turned turtle (meaning larger underwater than above).

Fox News, British Warship Rescues Family After Yacht Hits Iceberg, 9 May 2010

Sort of Titanic Cliche of Day: Newsweek Editor Compared To Captain Smith

Poor Captain Smith. At one time a well respected sea captain and commodore of the White Star Line. Now just an afterthought for commentators searching for ways to include Titanic into their writing. Take the case of Newsweek.  It is for sale and the editor, Jon Meacham, is out making the rounds that it was not his fault.

Jim Treacher over at Daily Caller notes some of Meacham’s odd comments. Like that for 77 years Newsweek mattered to the country. Quite a statement considering that the country seems to have decided not to buy or subscribe to the magazine these days. Treacher for his part delivers in pointing out that probably no one ever heard of Jon Meacham till now.

The news that the Washington Post Company is selling off Newsweek is the most shocking development in the media world since the cancellation of Buggy Whip Monthly. The magazine’s editor, Jon Meacham, has been making the media rounds, explaining why it’s not his fault. If you don’t recognize his name, don’t worry. Nobody remembers who the captain of the Titanic was either.

Ouch! I must admit I never knew who Jon Meacham was until now. Then again I did know Titanic’s captain. Not quite a full cliche but in the ballpark. At least Treacher did not compare Meacham’s handling of Newsweek to that of Captain Smith.

  • Titanic Exhibition Company Gets Bottom Rating

    graph downSmarTrend back in April reported on five companies in the Leisure industry that were on the bottom regarding Return on Equity (ROE). Investors prefer companies where the ROE is growing rather than stagnant. In SmarTrend’s analysis, Premier Exhibitions lost -23.4%  topping the list of the worst returns on ROE. Not a happy day if you have invested in Premier Exhibitions (NASDAQ:PRXI).