All posts by Mark Taylor

Titanic II:The Sequel To Debut Next Week!

The folks over at thespoof.com ran a good spoof article about a possible sequel to Cameron’s Titanic.

The long-awaited sequel to Hollywood’s biggest moneymaker is all set to debut next week. ‘Titanic II:The Sequel’ will follow-up on what happened to the famous wreck after it hit the infamous iceberg. Susan Boyle will sing the title song underwater. The unusual sequel will have no cast, no plot and no director. The four-hour long movie simply shows the bottom of the ocean off Newfoundland. It is expected to make $500 million dollars and only cost $25.00 to produce.

Considering that the thinking in Hollywood these days is to reformulate old television shows for the big screen, something along the lines of Titanic II is not so far off. 🙂

Titanic Props Up For Auction

exit1It is another sign of the times. A well known business is shuttering, in this case the famous 20th Century Props in North Hollywood. Stage props for numerous shows and movies, including Cameron’s Titanic, came from this business. 93,750 pieces are going up for auction next week including rare furniture sets used in such TV shows like The Golden Girls and a desk owned by Howard Hughes used in the film The Aviator.

The reason for the closure is something California does not want to advertise-the high cost of doing business in the state. While the main headquarters does remain in Burbank, Los Angeles, or Hollywood, the actual filming on many television shows and movies is done out of state or in Canada to keep costs low. 20th Century Props, which grew up to support television and movie production, saw their business go down and their taxes going up. They are by no means the only business being hit hard with Hollywood shifting work out of state. A lot of other small businesses that also depend on Hollywood are feeling the pinch as well. Say goodbye to Hollywood says the song. And 20th Century Props is making its exit.

Dinosaurs Challenging Titanic At Cincinatti Museum

According to Cincinnati.com, the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibition at the Cincinatti Museum is proving to be quite a success. So far it has sold 130,400 tickets putting it on Top Five in attendance. They expect to sell even more tickets and predict it will move up to the fourth place when it ends on 7 September. The Top Five (in order of sales) are:

2008’s “Bodies…The Exhibition”  with 312,000 visitors
2003-2004’s “Saint Peter and the Vatican: Legacy of the Popes” with 185,300 visitors
2000-2001’s “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” with 162,000 visitors
2006-2007’s encore of “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” with 132,800 visitors.
2009 “Dinosaurs Unearthed” with 130, 400 visitors

Latest Californian Theory: Captain Stanley Lord Hated People

Phote:Wikipedia
Photo:Wikipedia

Two issues split the Titanic camp into warring factions: salvage and the Californian issue. The latter issue involves the role of Captain Stanley Lord of the SS California. On the night Titanic went down in 1912, his ship was in the vicinity. Due to the ice on the ocean, he had decided to shut down and wait till morning to proceed. His wireless operator had gone to bed and while rockets were spotted he did not believe it was a distress signal. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Captain Lord came under fire for failing to act. It was something that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

The two camps, the Lordites (pro-Lord) and the anti-Lordites (against Lord) have very different perspectives on the role of Captain Lord. The Lordites argue that the enquiries were hasty and a rush to judgment. The anti-Lordites argue the enquiries got it right, that Lord failed to act when the rockets were sighted.  Now comes a new book that will likely reignite the debate. Daniel Allen Butler’s The Other Side of Night, according to the Scotsman makes a startling claim that Captain Lord was a sociopath. According to the article, Butler had commissioned a series of clinical psychologists to examine Lord’s sworn testimony as well as reports of his actions both before and after the tragedy.

“White rockets meant that somebody, somewhere, was about to die, yet Lord choose to ignore them. What has remained unexplained for more than nine decades is why Lord would so callously choose to disregard such a plea for help. “The answer, which lies in medical science, is that Stanley Lord was a man without conscience: he was a sociopath.”

The article notes that there were allegations that the officers under Lord were coerced to testify to support his position and that the ship’s log, which would have proved the exact location of the California, disappeared. And Butler argues Lord’s story changed over time while others stayed the same. Add to allegations he falisified entries in the logbook and the fact he expressed no sympathy for the victims over the years lends credence, Butler argues, that Lord was a sociopathic personality.

Well that is surely going to get those who support Lord fuming and dashing to their keyboards to type out responses. As for the book, I have not read it so I cannot say whether it is good, bad, or just okay. However relying on psychologists to render an opinion about a historical person is dubious. There was a trend in history many years ago to apply the techniques of psychology to historical figures. The problem is that you do not have the person right there so that you can make a proper clinical analysis. In the case of historical figures you have to rely on what was written about them or what they wrote about themselves. Certainly you can gain insights but it is far from a proper analysis or even a diagnosis. Without the person right there it is difficult to render a truly objective opinion as to what the true mental state was.

It Was Like Titanic

Last summer the P&O cruise ship Pacific Sun was caught in a vicious storm off New Zealand. 77 people were injured as the ship headed home through 20-foot swells and winds around 50-knots. Now a report about to be issued reveals what passengers experienced during that harrowing time. According to the New Zealand Herald, the report states it was “pure good fortune” that passengers and crew were not more seriously injured or killed.

Apparently many furnishings were not secured, such as casino gaming machines, tables, a grand piano and heavy office equipment such as photocopiers. As the ship tossed about in the storm, they became mobile causing some passengers to remark to officials later that it was like what they saw in the Titanic movie. Now that is pretty scary when you think about it. (Years ago I worked in a building in downtown San Francisco when the 1989 earthquake hit. The building was designed to sway with the earth movement. Upstairs in another office a copy machine was pitched across the room right into the wall. I consider myself fortunate since I was in our copy area at the time and  luckily those machines did not move at all.)

In perhaps a great understatement, the report states “It says procedures for securing furnishings following an earlier accident – in which another cruise ship’s equipment injured people – were not “sufficiently robust.” Injuries to passengers were broken bones, cuts, and bruises. Seven were seriously hurt and one passenger had part of a finger amputated. As a result of the ship rolling so badly, the two spa pools were emptied of water creating more hazards. Muster stations were damaged resulting in passengers being sent back to their cabins.

But it gets worse, according to the newspaper, as to why the ship was not prepared to handle this kind of situation.

1. The captain was in a hurry to get back to Auckland in time for the next cruise. By failing to heave-to earlier he put the ship in the ship in the worst sea conditions. This was not deliberate but inadvertent.

2. The bridge crew was unable to see or monitor the swells when it was dark.

3. Two of the four muster stations were rendered useless because of the damage and mess caused by unsecured furnishings. This is significant since these muster stations are where passengers are to go to in an emergency.

4. The stabilizers used to keep rocking at a minimum were inoperative. One was worn out and the other useless at slow speeds the ship was traveling at.

5. Crew had lifejackets but apparently the signal for passengers to put them on was never given. Apparently this is a normal operating procedure (giving the alert first to the crew then usually followed, if needed, to the passengers).

Most of the injuries came by falls, and unsecured furnishings toppling on to people. “Had Pacific Sun’s furnishings and fittings been sufficiently secured so as to resist moving when she heeled, the number of injuries would have been greatly reduced,” the Marine Accident Investigation Branch report says. According to the Herald, P&O states that the heavy objects have now been secured and that the experience provided a “valuable insight” for the company. Night vision goggles are now being deployed (or have been deployed) so that bridge crews will be able to see outside at night. And of course better maintenance was suggested by the report which, of course, P&O says it will do.

Now to be fair this was an unusual situation. It is not every day cruise ships sail into such intense storms. What surprises me is how unsecured the furnishings were. I know that major cruise ships have stabilizers to prevent the ship from rocking too much but all it takes is very severe weather to turn them into dangerous projectiles. Yet it would seem common sense to secure them to minimize harm to the ship, passengers, and crew. Hopefully lessons have been learned from this incident. It must have been scary though to see tables, chairs, gaming machines or other things suddenly move across the floor (or in some cases likely tossed considering how big the swells were). No wonder some passengers later said later they thought at the time they might not make it out alive.