Ghostly Titanic?

This story did not come out on Halloween, which would have been fitting considering the subject. According to Ozarks First the Wichita Paranormal Research Society  (WPRS) recently examined the Titanic Museum in Branson for signs of paranormal activity. Said founder Shane Elliot, “I think there’s some really interesting claims here.” The claims are of apparitions being seen, ghostly voices and other weird things.

WPRS is investigating and used all kinds of monitoring equipment. According to the news account, “WPRS spent about six hours investigating the museum. Every person of the seven member team had some experience with voices or shadows.” This vague tease is likely a precursor that, of course, the exhibit is haunted. The findings, one suspects, will get some print space in the local newspaper and likely a mention on television (and quite possibly a segment on one of those television ghost hunter shows).

One thing I have learned from reading and studying on the paranormal is how easy it is to fool ourselves. All kinds of things can make us believe we are seeing or hearing things we attribute to the supernatural but are not. Distant voices or sounds can sometimes be from air vents or pipes. The normal contraction of wood (caused by heating up and cooling down) can sometimes be alarming with loud popping sounds. I once thought I heard someone walking about upstairs in the living room in my father’s house but no one was there. It was caused by the growing coldness of the night and the wooden floorboards contracting.

We can be easily fooled by our senses and the power of suggestion. Hopefully the ghost hunters will bear that in mind in tracking down the “ghosts” that allegedly hang around the exhibit.

Top Chef Rules For Cheftestants

Okay so this is not related to Titanic per se (although gourmet food was served about the ship) but I happen to be a fan of Bravo’s Top Chef.  In watching the many seasons of the culinary contest, there are some rules that become evident that will either make or break a cheftestant on the show. So here are a collection of rules, in no particular order, for aspiring cheftestants. Obviously others may be added as needed. By no means it is inclusive; I doubt I thought of everything. 🙂

1. Going to culinary school goes far on Top Chef
It is a fact that on Top Chef that those who go to culinary school usually do much better than those who do not. The reason is that most cooking schools, especially the well known ones, teach a lot of important techniques that being self-taught you might miss out on.  A self taught chef can produce good food but is at a serious disadvantage to someone who has mastered the art and cooks like it is served in a fine upscale restaurant.

2. Never Over Salt! Ever!
Perhaps one of the biggest hits on a dish is to make it too salty. In most cases, it is a death sentence for the chef who prepared it. Usually they ask if you knew it was too salty. If you answer no, they question your palate. If you answer yes, they question why you sent out the dish in the first place. Either way it is bad and puts you on the top of the list to be eliminated.

3. Light touch on seasoning fine; Under seasoning bad.
If too much salt is bad, under seasoning a dish is just as bad. The result is bland tasting food that just needs that extra dash of something to zing it up. It is not as bad as oversalting a dish but if it is combined with lackluster presentation and food that ought to have been better, your now on the list to be eliminated.

4. Do not make something you have never done before.
One thing that sinks aspiring cheftestants is deciding to cook something they have never done before. Unless you are familiar with the ingredients, it is best you stick with what you know. Otherwise expect the judges to be very tough in making you defend the dish if it turns out wrong.

6. Check your food for doneness.
Serving raw seafood (unless sushi or a cerviche), raw poultry, or too rare a meat will get you a fast ticket to the bottom. Likewise overcooking will end you at the bottom as well. Never assume it is cooked right by merely looking at it.

7. Avoid complicated dishes unless you tie it all together.
All the components of a dish must go together. Do not, repeat do not, just throw things together and hope for the best. Judges will zing you hard for this and worse if it tastes bad.

8. Never put something on the plate unless it relates to the other components.
One thing that trips up a cheftestant is putting something on the plate that simply does not belong there. Slices of cheese or fruit ought to complement not stick out like a sore thumb.

9. Avoid funky or strange combinations UNLESS you know how to make it work right.
Butterscotch, peanut butter, strong cheeses have been the death knell for a dish and the chef who prepared it. Even if you know how to do it perhaps it would be best to let it pass on this show. Judges are finicky and picky about what they like and dislike. Certain sweet and peanut dishes are good dishes in their homeland but not necessarily in the Top Chef dining room.

10. The Classics Trap: Your dish must recall the original.
Top Chef often asks its cheftestants to take a classic dish and make it something new. What this requires is ingenuity and skill to remake or update it. Remember though it has to hearken back to the classic dish. This is especially true if you have to deconstruct it. All the components of your dish must line up with the original in some way.

11. Crispy good, soggy bad.
This has been the doom of many a meal on Top Chef. When the dish, like a corn dog, has to sealed up and taken elsewhere to be served the risks of it going soggy are high. Steaming occurs while it is enclosed making your once crispy food soggy. Failing to understand this bit of food science will put you high on the list to be sent home.

12. Make sure the dish you serve is as advertised.
A few seasons back one of the cheftestants cooked Coq au vin. The judges all loved it but there was a problem: it was not Coq au vin. The dish requires a rooster not just a regular chicken to be served. And since many of the judges were classically trained French chefs and knew what the dish was, they had to give the win to another cheftestant. Likewise one cheftestant called his salad “Waldorf” but the judges pointed out it was not even close to the classic (and not very good either).

13. Overconfidence and arrogance is a dangerous combination.
It seems almost a Top Chef axiom: those that are overconfident and arrogant end up tripping up along the way.

14. Be sanitary.
Thankfully (as far as we know) this has not been a large issue. However it goes without saying that if the judges see you being unsanitary in food preparation or serving they will zing you for it.

15. When cooking food that is a local specialty, make it fresh.
Chicago is known for its sausage. So if you are going to wow the judges and others, you have better make some delicious sausage of your own. Relying on store bought varieties, while safe, will not impress the judges who expected something more.

16. Never serve under-rested meat.
The proper resting of meat and poultry is important to insure that flavor does not run out when you cut into it. There is perhaps nothing more sad than to see a perfectly good piece of meat ruined by not properly resting it. There is also a corollary to this: always slice your meats with the proper knife and make sure you do it evenly.

17. Never butcher an already tender cut of meat.
Taking a tender lamb, for instance, and then butchering and cooking it wrong will infuriate the judges and send you home for wasting a perfectly good piece of meat.

18. If not sure, omit the drink
If not required to have either wine or alcohol as part of your dish, skip it. Sometimes it can work in your favor or add little to the dish. Worse is when the drink is so bad that even if the dish was good it sends you to Judge’s Table where they examine you for sanity.

19. Do not try to fool the judges by mixing cooked with undercooked!
Simply put, you are an idiot for trying this. If you think that mixing undercooked potatoes with fully cooked mashed potatoes will not be noticed, you deserve to go home for such a bonehead move.

20. “The oven was not working right” and other excuses.
Most professional chefs have had kitchen equipment go down on them. When it happens, they improvise around it. If your food was over or undercooked due to bad ovens, burners or anything but a genuine power outage it will not cut you much slack with the judges. They can all recite experiences of their own and how they got around it in a pinch (and served the meal to the delight of everyone).

Matchstick Titanic Record Sunk By Oil Platform Replica

BBC News reported recently that a new world record is about to recorded in the area of matchstick replicas.

David Reynolds, a former oil rig worker from Southampton, England, decided to build a matchstick replica of a North Sea oil platform. It took 15 years and four million matches to finish the job. He did it out of fun and to keep  “the grey matter working.” The replica is so big it could not be put together in his own home and took two trucks to haul it to the Bursledon Brickworks and Industrial Museum where it is being temporarily housed. He got the matches to build his replica from friends and by buying wholesale to keep his costs very low.

If he is certified by the Guinness people, it will beat the the previous Guinness world record that went to a 3.5 million-match replica of the Titanic.

Titanic Theme Song Case Sunk By High Court

Sony BMG Music was sued by John Jorgensen claiming that his song law ruling“Long Lost Lover” was infringed by the songs “My Heart Will Go On” and “Amazed.” He argued that his tune was stolen as he had sent out unsolicited mass mailings of the song to record companies. Rewind and repeat: he sent out unsolicited mass mailings (aka spam) of his song to record companies.

He sued in 2003 but the judge granted a motion for summary judgment agreeing that Jorgensen “had not presented sufficient evidence of access to support his claim of copyright infringement, i.e., Jorgensen had not shown a reasonable opportunity by the allegedly infringing songwriters to hear and copy Jorgensen’s unpublished song.” (Jorgensen v. Epic/Sony Records et al, U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit, 3 Dec 2003, 351 F.3d 46)

His appeal to the 2nd Circuit was denied as it agreed with the lower court that “corporate receipt of unsolicited work” is not evidence of a connection between those who received the emails and those alleged to have infringed the copyright. Jorgensen had no evidence to prove his claim and the defendants were able to show there was no connection. So the appeals court denied his appeal and he took it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Today that court rejected his appeal which means Jorgensen is out of luck.

The court papers state he represented himself, so at least he does not owe a lot of money to attorneys. The lesson here is simple. Sending out copies of your work via unsolicited emails is not very smart. And proving they stole your music, which you sent by mass mail, is even more difficult to prove under these circumstances. Case dismissed.

For Sale: Consumers Willing To Spend More Than $5 For Titanic

Bill Mechanic, former chief at 20th Century Fox Studio and involved with Disney’s home video, recently spoke at Independent Film & Television Alliance’s production conference in Santa Monica. According to Home Media Magazine he blamed studios for being more concerned about budgets than changing market forces.

“If I can buy Titanic for under $5 in some stores, why am I so eager then to rush out to pay $30 or so when it’s released on Blu-ray?” Mechanic said. “Is the quality that great? How many formats are yet to come?”

Good point. And if you already own “Titanic” or the three volume “Lord of The Rings” trilogy, are you willing to shell out more bucks for a blu-ray version? I suspect most people will not do so unless they are buying it for the first time.

See The Titanic Iceberg In 3D!

According to the Hollywood Reporter, movie executives are interested in re-releasing two of James Cameron’s movies, “Titanic” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” in 3D format. But the newspaper reports that converting many movies into 3D will be limited to well known classics.

Still, though several Hollywood majors also might tread that path eventually, only select projects are likely until 3D home entertainment takes hold, and that’s maybe five years down the road. Only the most well-known film classics would merit the considerable costs of converting 2D pics, not to mention the marketing expenses of 3D rereleases.

I am somewhat baffled by this trend to 3D. When I was a kid it had been long discarded by movie studios. And for good reason as after a while it lost its appeal (it mainly was for horror and sci-fi movies). I just wonder how big the market really is for 3D. With all the advanced digital tech we now use and advanced computer rendering that is done, one wonders if 3D is just one of those niche trends that comes and goes with the wind. After all, do you really need to see the iceberg in 3D?

Titanic Whistle

Since we have been on the subject of Titanic items of late, this image titanic whistle floated to the top during a recent search. At first I was not quite sure what it really was. It is called “Acme Thunderer Titanic” but that name seems not really to say much about what this whistle will do. It seems to imply this is a very loud whistle that thunders above all others making it a titanic whistle of the first order. The whistle is in a British catalog called Judge’s Choice Petfood Ltd (By Appointment To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Petfood Supplier). It looks pretty cool and  if anyone out there has actually blown this whistle, drop us a line here at Titanic News Channel.

Ultimate Titanic Pen

Over the years there have been are many “tacky” Titanic items offered upfor sale. There is a stuffed Titanic, a Titanic-Bot Transformer, a Rose doll (from Cameron’s Titanic), Christmas ornaments, salt and pepper shakers, and even a Titanic sinking game. But there is one that perhaps tops them all and it is by no means tacky to say the least. Consider the Jean Pierre Lepin Titanic Palladium Fountain Pen.

According to the description, this fine writing instrument has the cap shaped like the vent from the ocean liner. The sapphire glass in the top allows you to see the pink gold nib which is “engraved with the silhouette of the Titanic.” Small portholes are on the body of the pen allowing you to see the ink and piston. Here is some more detailed information:

The body with several portholes is fitted with a transparent ink fountain in which it is possible to see ink and piston. Lower down, you can see a propeller similar to the Titanic‘s and underneath the steerage of the ship protected by a sapphire glass cover. On turning the inking-roller, the piston pumps the ink, the propeller turns and needle of steerage starts to move . It is an extremely complex pen .Between the body and cap, there is the famous rusty ring made out of precious metal that was originally part of the Titanic. Screws similar to the rivets of the Titanic hold together the different parts. Different versions, limited to 88 pens per version, will be available and some with solid gold, diamonds and gemstones. Each part will come complete with the certificate from the shipyard to certify the authenticity of the precious metal.

It is obviously not your ordinary fountain pen but one either for collectors or to be used for ceremonial occasions (like signing treaties). And it has the cost consummate with its elegance: $6,650. As the skit on the old Laugh-In said: “That’s a lot of Tootsie Rolls!”

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