FIGJAM

Rants, reviews, photos and lots of my own snarky asshattery…

100

I was around my son’s age today (7) when this legend – Titanic – crossed the periphery of my awareness.

I think one of the first attention-getters was a Reader’s Digest article about the disaster, followed by the book Raise The Titanic by Clive Cussler. Over the years, my fascination bordered, at times, on obsession. I had a Titanic board game. I read every book I could get my hands on, fiction and non-fiction. I watched every film about it I could find, whether documentary or fantasy, drama or action.

The thing people forget – and I think the root of the fascination about the subject for my generation and the two preceding* – was the mystery. No one knew where Titanic was, exactly. The technology to find it didn’t exist. The technology to travel that deep in the ocean didn’t exist. Everything was based on anecdotal evidence – the stories of the survivors – and as it turns out, those stories weren’t always very accurate. They thought she lay holed but mostly intact on the seabed, and could someday be raised to become a floating museum and memorial.

How wrong they were.

The unravelling of the mystery was fascinating. I pored over those first photos in National Geographic, absorbing details like a sham-wow in an infomercial… this ship been a fascination for me for more than half of my young life, and here she was, laid out in front of me. Myth after myth was dispelled – she wasn’t intact, she’d broken up… she couldn’t be raised, at least not in the way fantasized about in fiction. The cold depths they thought preserve her, hadn’t – she wasn’t perfectly preserved or in stasis, Titanic was slowly dissolving, consumed by rusticles. Scientific analysis brought understanding of what actually happened to the great vessel, supporting some survivor reports of a great cracking sound which had often been discounted. Further analysis concluded that her steel was brittle, ultimately exacerbating the damage inflicted by the iceberg. Titanic was never unsinkable – she was a disaster waiting to happen.

Over my lifetime, the story has evolved from the remarkable myth of a lost ship which may never be found to a fully-explained tragedy with few mysteries remaining, subject of dozens of documentaries and films discussing almost every aspect of her short existence.

My generation is the last to see Titanic through the fog of mythology and uncertainty.

As my family commemorates the 100th anniversary of her sinking, Titanic isn’t a legend to my kids. It’s just a thing that happened a long time ago.

And that’s kind of sad.

Perhaps I need to find a way to bring the mythology back?

* To the people who were around when Titanic sank, it was an immense tragedy that got mixed in with the horrors of World War I and the flu pandemic and so many other terrible world events of the time. The generations born after it happened – the ones not directly affected – are the ones who elevated it to mythical levels.

Aftermath

“The hardest part,” she said, “Will be when I don’t have to come here every day.”

It was about the fourth time she’d made that statement in the past couple of hours. Since we’d arrived to visit Mike at the hospital on Thursday evening, Jen seemed relieved to have someone different to talk to, so she just kept on talking. It was obvious she was trying hard to come to terms with what was happening to her husband, and being helpless to change it, wanted to do something – ANYTHING – to keep from succumbing to her sense of loss.

His turn for the worse, only a week before, had caught her completely unprepared. He’d been hospitalized since January 2nd, and had gone through radiation treatment. His condition appeared to be improving. He was undergoing physiotherapy to strengthen muscles ravaged by ionic radiation so he could walk again.  For the first time in months, it looked like he was going to be home, and soon. Jen thought they were past the worst of it, and although his life might be shortened, they’d still have a few years together.

But that didn’t happen. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandcastles

One day a few years ago, we went to Sandbanks Provincial Park and found a man making this sculpture on the beach.

I took many photos, and my family talked to him at length. Immediately afterwards we moved up the beach to make our own sand castles and sculptures. My daughter was inspired to sculpt sea turtles and incorporate other elements of what she saw into her own work, and still does so to this day. Since then, we occasionally found his sculptures around when we visited the area’s beaches, and had even discovered some of his snow sculptures a couple of years ago on the same wintry beach where he was working a week and a half ago.

We’ve just learned that that man, Harry Farfan – who was only 49 – died on that chilly shoreline. He was doing what he loved – creating sculptures (this time with snow and ice) in Cobourg, Ontario – when he apparently went to sit in his car to take a break. A police officer doing a routine check found him unresponsive in the vehicle; paramedics arrived and administered CPR, then transported him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

I’m deeply saddened that we will never again cross the beach during a glorious, golden, sunset to admire his beautiful work slowly drying and crumbling in the fading twilight.

Harry, I barely knew you but you had a significant impact when you briefly entered our lives that day. You changed the way my little girl looks at the world.

The sense of loss has really filled my heart right now.

It has also served as a reminder to live life fully every day, for even human lives have all the impermanence of sandcastles…

Undiscovered

This fine fellow, James Jay Lee, is dead. He was shot in the head by police while holding people hostage at Discovery Channel Headquarters.

He is EXACTLY the kind of extremist that most disturbs me: a person who believes we should sacrifice humanity for the “good of the planet”. His inspiration? “An Inconvenient Truth“.

Here are some excerpts from his “manifesto” (You can find it by clicking on his face – please click hard, and repeatedly) – a series of demands to the Discovery Channel:

Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is. That, and all its disgusting religious-cultural roots and greed. Broadcast this message until the pollution in the planet is reversed and the human population goes down! This is your obligation. If you think it isn’t, then get hell off the planet!

Saving the Planet means saving what’s left of the non-human Wildlife by decreasing the Human population. That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!

Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture.

For every human born, ACRES of wildlife forests must be turned into farmland in order to feed that new addition over the course of 60 to 100 YEARS of that new human’s lifespan! THIS IS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE FOREST CREATURES!!!! All human procreation and farming must cease!

Honestly, he finally did something right today. He stopped consuming resources better used by decent human beings. It’s just unfortunate that he didn’t have the courage to off himself years ago.

Good riddance.

NOTE: To “Conservative” commentators who said this guy had to be a “Liberal nutjob” – the values espoused by this freak show are more of an extreme conservatism than liberalism. You don’t get to politicize this one in your favour, it just makes you look like an even bigger asshole.

  • 10:30pm - 25th Jun 2010
  • Category: Memories
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  • Read Time: 2 to 4 minutes
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This Is It

It’s been a year since I wrote this.

A year since Michael Jackson died.

It came as part of a cluster of high-profile celebrity deaths. At the time, it seemed completely surreal. Although I maintain that for me 2003 had a FAR greater impact with that series of celebrity deaths (especially in September when Warren Zevon, John Ritter, Robert Palmer, Gordon Jump, George Plimpton, Johnny Cash and Edward Teller all died within 3 weeks), it was brutal.

Tonight, we’re finally watching Michael Jackson’s This Is It, the documentary made from rehearsal footage leading up to the tour he never made.

The thing that strikes me is how much energy he’s putting into what was essentially stuff no one would ever have seen. I mean, there’s no audience – this is just practice. I’ve seen performers put less work into concerts in front of a paying crowd. Maybe this is a hint as to why Michael ended up as he did – was he so keyed up from working so hard and the excitement of going on tour that he just couldn’t sleep in spite of exhaustion? Read the rest of this entry »

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