Tag Archives: Titanic

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.

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.

New Book: The Titanic and the Indifferent Stranger

This seems to be the year of Stanley Lord as we have another book CaptainStanleyLordexamining his culpability that tragic night in 1912. The Titanic and the Indifferent Stranger written by Paul Lee is now out in an expanded paperback edition. According to the press release, the book is a 440 page detailed anaylsis that follows the controversy from its roots all the way through the books published for and against Stanley Lord, and the internal deliberations of the British government.

“The Titanic and the Indifferent Stranger” is a 440 page detailed analysis of the case, chronologically following the controversy from initial press reports of the mysterious ship seen from the Titanic’s bows, to the pronouncements made in later years by authors keen to promote their books and opinions over their rivals. Assisting in Dr. Lee’s conclusions is the first printing of the internal deliberations of the UK Government as the campaigns to clear Captain Lord’s name in 1965, 1968 and the early 1990s were ignited by Lord’s friends. The bequeathed papers of Captain Lord’s foe and namesake Walter Lord, and the Captain’s ardent supporter Leslie Harrison have been scoured and provide a rich source of information on the tactics employed on both sides of the argument – culminating in a legal bid to suppress a book critical of the Californian and its crew.

A review by Paul Rogers on the electronic edition at Encyclopedia Titanica gives it high marks. “Lee’s book is, quite simply, the most comprehensive presentation of evidence in relation to Captain Lord and his infamous ship that I have read to date. Rather than relying on footnotes and references, Lee presents, within the text itself, the full transcripts from the American and British Inquiries that relate to the Californian and the other ships implicated in the Titanic disaster. There is no bias whatsoever that I could perceive and Lee treats all those involved with scrupulous fairness.”

I have no doubt that both sides of the debate (the Lordites and Anti-Lordites) will be making their own appraisals known of Lee’s work in the near future (if they have not all ready done so by now).

Signed copies of the book are available from the author’s site at http://www.paullee.com/book_details.php or you can buy it at amazon.co.uk.

Titanic Cafe Closed For Health Violation

According to thisisleicestershire.co.uk, the Titanic Cafe in Belgrave Gate, gencaut1Leicester was closed (temporarily) on 13 Aug due to live rodents and mouse droppings found on the premises.

Officials from Leicester City Council’s food safety team found droppings and urine throughout the kitchen and serving area of the Titanic Cafe, in Belgrave Gate, Leicester. Cafe owner Nuri Bay appeared before city magistrates yesterday and was ordered to pay £866.62 costs after they upheld the council’s decision to issue an emergency hygiene notice to prevent the building from being used on August 13. The cafe has now reopened after inspectors revisited the premises prior to yesterday’s hearing.

Yuck.

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.

RMS Titanic Sails Again

6' Titanic Reproduction For Sale At Hammacher
6' Titanic Reproduction For Sale At Hammacher

You have to give the folks over at the Hammacher catalog credit. Each year they try to find very pricey toys for those with disposable income and no concern for our troubled economy. And this is no cheap toy but a six foot, 1:150 scale model of the famous ship with three propellers powered by three 550-watt electric motors. According to the description, the model has been “Painstakingly reproduced at 1:150 scale and involving over 400 man-hours in its assembly, the model is constructed from over 300 individually handcrafted pieces, including sculpted cedar strips that overlay the molded fiberglass hull, white maple planks (stained to replicate the color of the originals) for the decking, and mahogany for various superstructures.” It comes with two rechargable batteries that allow for three hours of cruising power and allowing the model to cruise at 5 mph on calm water. Remote requires eight AA batteries (not included!–you would think for the money they could toss them in for free).

It will cost you $2,500 and requires freight delivery.  Iceberg not included. 🙂

The Authentic 6 Foot Remote Controlled RMS Titanic.
http://www.hammacher.com/publish/11459.asp?promo=new_items

Beware Fake Titanic Envelopes

The recent issue of The Titanic Commutator (Titanic Historical Society, Vol 33, Number 186) reports of a recent attempt to sell a fake Titanic envelope. The envelope was put up for sale online at the UK eBay site with an asking price of £750. The letter appeared to have sent from RMS Titanic to a Mrs J Woods, Altringham, Manchester. But according to Paul Louden-Brown it is a very clever fake.

The stamp used on the envelope appears at first glance to look legitimate but a closer examination reveals it is likely a stamp issued between 1934 and 1936. The King George stamp of 1912 looks similar to 1934-1936 but there are important differences. There was no solid color behind the King’s head in 1912 but rather lines. Also the 1934-1936 stamp turns out to be a rare stamp used for only two years. Brown also notes the paper used is typical of the waxed paper used after World War I rather than what was in use in 1912. Also the handwriting style Brown notes is more typical of the years after World War I. Other things such as the postmark being too large and the lettering too thin point to it being a fake. And it is not difficult to fake franking marks by using a heavy object.

The lesson here is simple: be very careful in buying Titanic memorabilia. Buy only from reputable sources that have authenticated the items as being genuine. And never ever buy such memorabilia sight unseen over the Internet.

A Night To Remember-Worth Getting The DVD

In the Titanic FAQ posted on this site, I noted that several years ago the movie A Night To Remember had been put on a computer disc and viewable through the dvd player on your computer. But I was not sure that it had been converted to a full movie dvd. As it turns out, it is available as  part of the Criterion Collection. The dvd is well worth getting for several reasons. First, the digital transfer is excellent with clear images and sound. Second, the this dvd like the computer version has the audio commentary by Don Lynch and Ken Marschall. That alone is worth the price in my book. They give a running commentary on every scene putting it all in context for those new to Titanic and those who have been avid enthusiasts for years. Finally there is a  documentary called “The Making of A Night To Remember” which has some rare behind the scenes footage.

I have seen a lot of Titanic movies over the years and I still come back to this one as the best. I know many out there like Cameron’s Titanic, which is a fine movie in its own right. But it is a fictional story set in a historical context while A Night To Remember is based upon Walter Lord’s book of the same name. Remember to get the Criterion Collection and not just some poor quality copy that is floating out there. I got mine at Amazon but I imagine other places sell it as well.