The Sinking of the Oceanos, 1991

September 15, 2013 4:11am
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I’ve been up most of the night learning about this kind of fascinating, but mostly terrifying account from 22 years ago of the cruise ship Oceanos sinking off the coast of South Africa.

Much like the recent Costa Concordia, the Captain abandoned his ship and left the passengers and most of the crew to fend for themselves, however unlike the more recent disaster, not a single one of the 571 passengers and crew on-board actually died from the incident.

Playing a key part in the evacuation of the ship’s passengers was Moss Hills, who worked on the Oceanos as the lead guitar player, and it’s just incredible to read his account of realizing that something didn’t seem right, then finding that many of the crew and officers were gathering personal belongings without a word to the passengers, then discovering that the ship was in fact taking on water, and finally working with Lorraine Betts, the cruise director, to coordinate an evacuation first into the remaining lifeboats … and then also via airlift by the South Africa Air Force once they discovered that because between some boats being unavailable and the crew abandoned ship only half-filling another, there wasn’t enough room on the rest for everyone who was left…

At one point he talks about having to lash himself to the railing in order to help people into the harness for the helicopters, and photos show pictures of the deck at a 45 degree angle … it truly is a wonder that nobody ended up falling into the sea that night.

Oh wait – one person did! And yet one of the rescuers was able to dive in and save him, too!

This 6-part series from NBC called Miracle on the Wild Coast tells the entire story and includes interviews with a number of the passengers, the guy who fell from the harness into the sea, and of course, the entertainment staff heroes who led the rescue effort in lieu of actual leadership.

The Captain was quoted later as saying, “When I order abandon ship, it doesn’t matter what time I leave. Abandon is for everybody. If some people like to stay, they can stay.”

It’s amazing how a story can make you both lose and gain faith in humanity at the same time.

George Zimmerman Acquitted

July 14, 2013 3:02am
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I don’t want to think about this case anymore.

It’s like despite all of the circus around choosing a jury, they still managed to handpick a jury of all women who somehow found themselves relating more to the assailant than the victim. Those women didn’t see Trayvon as their own son – they saw George Zimmerman as the son or close friend that just got caught up in a bad situation and needed their help.

One even plans to write A BOOK about the trial … just an “observational” book, though, so that should be fine!


This is the last thing that I can watch about this case – it’s an interview from a year ago where Zimmerman cites that he has no regrets about his actions that evening, and that it was “God’s plan” for the events that transpired that ultimately led to the death of 17 year-old kid in his hands.



The Newsroom, season 2

July 10, 2013 11:12pm
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It won’ t be long now!!!  😀

It’s no secret that I was a big fan of the last season of HBO’s The Newsroom, both for its entertainment value and also simply because I felt like it highlighted a lot of issues with American journalism that I think we deserve better of. And a lot of times that ends up being the mark of great TV – when it serves a dual purpose to both entertain and enlighten its audience at the same time.

I’ve been flipping back through some clips from last season … it’s certainly going to be a tough one to top. Of course, this is one of my favorites – I sure hope whoever is in charge of coordinating the music with the script came back for season 2 because this was a great pairing…

This was good news to read, although I dare say that the damage has no doubt already been done and we probably won’t see Kevin and Elmo reunited again anytime soon.

Sex suits against former ‘Elmo’ voice actor Kevin Clash thrown out over missed filing deadlines

Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Issues Statement on Sex Abuse Lawsuit Dismissals

I did find it curious that Kevin’s statement mentions “a time in the near future when he can tell his story free of innuendo and false claims,” though it’s hard to say whether that means this story or simply a memoir or something now that he can’t really perform or produce anymore.  😥

Clearly I’m not the only one who’s gotten more than a little frustrated with how the media has been covering the Carnival Triumph incident over the last week, so I was pretty intrigued to come across this interview with a staff member from a popular cruise review site who happened to be on that very cruise and sure enough, most of what was being reported was greatly exaggerated or just blatantly made up.

It astounds me that in this technological age of cell phones and iPads that while you’ve got people on the ship who are able to call loved ones and do interviews with the media, nobody ever managed to actually produce pictures of sewage flooding the halls like so many accounts cried about. That one in particular stands out to me because it’s a pretty graphic statement – a hallway FILLED with shit and piss – and yet as much as the Internet loves a grotesque picture … nothing.

We’ve seen photos of less than savory conditions like mattresses out on the open decks and tents made out of towels and red bio-hazard bags for human waste, but bags to dispose of your poop is still a far cry from just shitting right in the middle of the hallway like some have tried to make it sound.

The thing is, I’m sure it hasn’t been fun to experience all that these folks have had to experience over the last 7 days, but let’s keep it in perspective…

  • It’s not like the Titanic because the ship didn’t sink to the bottom of the sea and nobody died.
  • It’s not like when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans because although they may not have always been as informed as they may have liked, nobody watched their homes get washed away and lost members of their family.

The best quote I read was from a guest in The Huffington Post – “It’s a disastrous vacation – it’s not a disaster.”

At the end of the day I actually have to hand it to Carnival for making the best of a bad situation … they kept everybody fed, they managed to get everyone home safe, the boat didn’t sink, and the compensation that’s being offered essentially gives everyone either a second chance at another Carnival cruise for free and then some (once you consider a full refund for this cruise plus a credit equal to what was paid for the next one plus $500 per passenger) or even another vacation with someone who isn’t Carnival, should passengers choose to walk away. Some people probably think that they’re owed the moon & the stars and no doubt there will be lawsuits that arise from this, as lawyers have already come forward eager to fight for disgruntled passengers, but nobody died and when you go back and read the menus mentioned in that first link that I posted, it really could’ve been a whole lot worse!

P.S. Here’s an interesting Reddit AMA that started while the boat was still at sea and continued answering questions once they all got back to dry land…

Copy of IMG_4407

…and here are some delicious cookies from the Carnival cruise that I went on last fall…

BSA Camp Staff – It Gets Better

January 31, 2013 2:13pm
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You might’ve guessed that these potential changes to the BSA’s anti-homosexuality policy have pretty much dominated my mental bandwidth over the last couple of days. It can be really frustrating to be faced with so many people with such discriminatory views seemingly hard-coded into their DNA, but I’ve also read plenty of comments to show that there are many, many people who are strongly in favor of ending these hate-filled policies, too.

Here’s a great clip from gay scout who worked for ten years at his local scout camp, from entry level all the way up to Program Director. I know that I would’ve been happy to teach alongside him – the man raises some really great points that are certainly worth a mere four minutes of your time…

As an Eagle Scout…

January 29, 2013 10:11pm
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The foremost responsibility of an Eagle Scout is to live with HONOR. To an Eagle Scout, honor is the foundation of all character. He knows that “A Scout is Trustworthy” is the first point of the Scout Law for a good reason. An Eagle Scout lives honorably, not only because honor is important to him but because of the vital significance of the example he sets for other scouts. Living honorably reflects credit on his home, his church, his troop, and his community. May the white color of the Eagle badge remind you always to live with honor.

 – The Charge of the Eagle Scout

I mentioned last night that the main comment thread over on the BSA’s Facebook page was getting pretty ugly, though the more it’s dragged on it made me wonder just how much skin in the game the various combatants were coming from. In particular, I was curious about the Eagle Scouts, frankly because I’m an Eagle Scout myself and I think all of this exclusionary talk is atrocious, so I decided to do a little impromptu survey and started capturing any of the comments where the author identified themselves as an Eagle Scout.

On one hand, I’m incredibly shocked and taken aback by so much negativity and bigotry coming from the mouths of fellow Eagle Scouts…


But thankfully on the other hand, it wasn’t all negative…


Earlier today, the Boy Scouts of America posted a media statement regarding their controversial policy of not allowing homosexuals to participate in the Boy Scouts. It was really a pretty empty statement where they’re “discussing potentially removing the restriction,” and later they recant even further by citing that the local groups that charter every scout group would still have the freedom to regulate their own members as they saw fit, basically meaning that if your local scout troop is sponsored by an LDS Church that is still emphatically anti-gay, you’re still out of luck. I honestly don’t even know why they would post such a non-statement statement unless they were just trying to stir things up and rally supporters of their existing discriminatory policies…

…which might actually be the case because boy, is there one ugly comment thread brewing about this on the BSA’s Facebook page tonight! I found myself getting sucked into it there for a while, then I finally took a break to go walk the dog and decided that it might be more productive for me to write down some of my thoughts here instead. The truth is, I’ve been finding myself more and more passionate about the issue of gay rights lately, and so I guess I wanted to take a few minutes here to talk about why this one in particular hits so close to home.

I grew up in the Boy Scouts – probably spent 14 years of my life from 1st grade until a year after I graduated from high school actively involved in Scouting, and admittedly about double that if you subscribe to the mantra, “Once an Eagle Scout, Always an Eagle Scout.” I had a lot of great times through all of those years doing all sorts of things that I can’t really imagine doing if I hadn’t been involved in Scouts – camping out in a snow bank in -20 degree weather, learning to SCUBA dive and diving in the Florida Keys, spending 5 years teaching ecology at summer camp, hosting lock-ins at the local Sportsplex – the list just goes on and on.

That said, there were also some less than fun times – namely near the very end of my involvement, learning that several of the adult leaders who I had grown to respect and admire over the years had been through affairs with other adult female scouters, all of which ultimately ended their marriages of many years. I don’t really want to say any more than that, but I’ve got to be honest that still as an adult today, it’s left a bit of a stain on what I know in my heart was otherwise still a great experience for me growing up…

When I look at gay rights, I guess I kind of think of it as the human rights movement of my generation. My parents and grandparents had the rights of African Americans, and ancestors before that struggled for Women’s Suffrage, but over time society finally came to its senses and decided that those groups deserved the same rights as the rest of the population, and hopefully within my lifetime gay people will also be able to say the same. And how this all circles back to the BSA for me is that, for an organization so directly responsible in shaping the morals that millions of boys and men have grown to live our lives by over the years, discrimination of anyone for any reason simply has no rightful place amongst its tenets. Any justification of these beliefs is irrelevant – we should not be teaching our boys that hate is acceptable. Period.

I think that the Boy Scouts of America are better than this. In fact, I know that the BSA is better than this, and so in a way I suppose it’s a little personal for me because in my own view of the organization I still have that ugly stain that I remember from my final days and frankly, I’d like to see something a little more meaningful take its place in how I see Scouting as a whole now today as an adult. Just like it wasn’t all of the leaders who were having extramarital affairs, it’s also not all of the leaders who are so stubbornly holding onto these bigoted and hate-filled beliefs, but it still presents a very ugly perspective on the Scouting movement right now that makes former scouts like me admittedly a bit reluctant to want to sign my own children up for Tiger Cubs when the time comes if they’re still clinging to ideals that don’t represent the same words that they lead the boys in reciting each week to kick off their meetings…

So if it sounds like I just won’t let up when it comes to gay rights, especially with regards to the Boy Scouts’ support or at best neutrality towards anti-gay membership policies, know that I want to see the group that I grew up with grow itself to move beyond such negativity and focus on enriching the lives of our nation’s youth, not reinforcing mentalities based on hate and discrimination. That’s not what the BSA is supposed to be about … or at least that’s not what it was ever about for me.

From The Telegraph in Australia…

US Gun Owners Show Off Their Christmas “Toys”

“Despite widespread horror after the massacre of school children in Connecticut and calls for stricter gun  laws, Christmas Day was a gun fest for many US citizens who happily posed for photos with their weaponry under the Christmas tree.”

Here’s an infographic that they also put together about Guns in America … seriously, we have more places to buy guns than food in this country, and all the rest of the world can do is scratch their heads as we fumble to deal with our gun problem.

For what it’s worth, guys, not all of us are so infatuated with these killing machines that continue to serve as tools of carnage, but unfortunately with almost as many guns as people out there in circulation right now, we’re not exactly the majority…  😳

a Muppet legend lost with Kevin Clash’s resignation

November 20, 2012 11:50pm
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I don’t really know what to think about this whole Kevin Clash scandal resignation, exception I guess that I’m really sad and disappointed to hear about it.

When the news first picked up last week that someone was accusing Kevin of sexual abuse and then was almost immediately thereafter withdrawn, I felt a sigh of relief that these accusations towards the Muppeteer behind one of Sesame Street’s most beloved characters were untrue. It seemed like a rough 24 hours, but Sesame Street had stood behind their employee – this guy who had spent the last 30 years living his dream of being a puppeteer and also helping to take Sesame Street to new heights as an Executive Producer – and it looked like it was all just going to be some admittedly ugly water under the bridge.

When I read the updated headline today about there now being a second accuser, I didn’t even have to read the story to know that this probably meant the end of the man’s career and sure enough, he ended up resigning because he couldn’t allow the controversy, right or wrong, to take away from Sesame Street any longer.

There are so many ugly questions that I don’t even want to think about – what’s true and what’s made up, how do you define sexual abuse without actual sex, why are they coming out now nearly two decades later, is all of this motivated purely as a money grab or is justice legitimately being sought? I saw one commenter ask why the lawsuit filed only asks for a financial settlement and not criminal charges, implying that this was just a guy out to make a quick buck, but then again I don’t know about statutes of limitations and how all of that plays into account – maybe at this point money is all a lawyer could get.

I guess what’s sad to me is that we even saw last week that it doesn’t take a guilty verdict, just an accusation to muddy someone’s reputation, and when it came out that Kevin was gay, unfortunately in many’s eyes that was already a strike against him. It also seemed suspicious when the first accuser was quick to say, “Here are my accusations – I will not be making any comment about them.” followed by, “My client retracts his previous accusations – we will not comment further on this issue.” Fishy because Kevin’s name (along with Elmo’s) was in every publication in the country, whereas this accuser was able to hide behind the veil of anonymity even after admitting that his statement was false.

…though now he claims that he was paid $125,000 as a settlement to drop the issue, so … ughhhh – who knows?

The thing is, I certainly don’t want to denounce the victims here if it’s true that they were in fact victims, but so much is still up in the air and all we in the public really know for sure is that one of the most experienced veterans in the Muppet world has been forced into resignation so as to not further drag the work that he loves down with whatever’s going to happen to him. Volunteering to resign alone just seems like an unfathomable call to me, like sacrificing yourself for a child, because deep down he loves them so much that he knows that they have to go on without him.

At one point Sesame Workshop was also quoted as saying that the role of Elmo is bigger than any one puppeteer to reassure everyone that the character would continue to exist regardless of whatever happened with Kevin, just like Kermit the Frog lived on after Jim Henson passed away and so many others have transitioned to new performers at this point as well. Still, to have to look in and see someone else now performing a role that you created and were in no way ready to give up?

I’ve watched a lot of interviews about all of the Muppet performers, including Kevin, over the years and he always seemed like such a cool, down-to-earth, passionate guy who clearly just loved making kids smile and laugh just like Jim did. Though the  way they’ve been stacking up now suggest otherwise, I hope that ultimately all of this washes out and we come to find that Kevin was really innocent after all. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone has tried to blackmail a celebrity for money or fame, though in just about every case it always ends up ending the celeb’s career either way.

Regardless of whatever ends up being true, you can’t deny that we’re losing an incredible talent in the world of children’s entertainment with Kevin’s unexpected departure and that the man made an immeasurable contribution to Sesame Street that helped enrich the lives of millions of children around the world very much so for the better…

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