Posts Tagged ‘Titanic’

Random Friday Thoughts — June 5, 2020

It’s been a couple of months since I last shared some “Random Friday Thoughts”!

I’ve been busy with the move, transitioning into a new job and schedule, and just walking, reading, and binge watching television.

As always, if you disagree with me, do it diplomatically!

While I always say that, I’m stressing it today because of recent events across the country!


If the unprecedented COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic isn’t enough to depress America, the outward racism and violence across the country is pathetically sad!

Here are my thoughts in a tweet last Sunday. Let me clear: protests SHOULD BE peaceful ☮️ and looters and rioters SHOULD BE ARRESTED!

There is a difference between protesting and being a criminal!

And, he’s worried about being fact-checked on Twitter?


The word “glee” means “great delight”, but when it comes to “Glee” star Lea Michele, it’s more of nightmare.

Well, I guess she is more of a nightmare!

On May 29th, Michele tweeted about the death of George Floyd.


This opened the gates of hell for her.  

A guest actor from the “Glee” series called Michele out for her rude behavior to her when she was on the show.  Then many other guests and co-stars came out to share their horror stories!

While her “Glee” co-star Amber Riley didn’t address the social media stir with words, this GIF pretty much says it all!


Glee Rachel Slushie


My friends, please be vigilant and be safe!

The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has now topped 1.9 million and the death toll has surpassed 109-thousand!

With the murder of George Floyd and the unruly riots that are burning U.S. cities, Coronavirus has taken the backseat on television news coverage.

But, as America reopens, please be sanitary and keep yourself (and me and my family) as healthy as possible so we can move on to the “new normal”!



While there won’t be amazing parades with music divas performing and scantily clad men and women, the LGBTQ community is still proud!

This is still one of my favorite Pride pictures of all time when I was in Chicago!

So, in honor of pride, cheers…

And, dance like you just don’t care!


Sadly, most people don’t know Larry Kramer.

What’s even sadder is that most of the youth in the LGBTQ community today don’t know the pain and sacrifices this man went through to give them chances that many of his friends never had back in the 1980s and 1990s.

And, many people living with HIV and AIDS are alive today and owe much of it to Kramer!

Sadly, the 84-year-old advocate died in late May.

Kramer was a Hollywood screenwriter and gained fame in 1969 penning the Oscar-nominated film “Women in Love”. 

But, his fortune came four years later on the flop, “Lost Horizon”. That film gave Kramer the financial security to do something he wanted to do —  write about the gay community.

He did and his 1978 novel, “Faggots”, about the out and openly gay community of New York City in the 1970s before AIDS, was very controversial.

Middle America was shocked about the easy come and easy go world of sex and drugs and the gay community shunned him because he exposed its seedy secrets.

But, Kramer became a beacon of hope for gay men dying of AIDS in the 1980s by starting the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center (GMHC) and ACT UP, an activist group that put the heat on politicians (most notably President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush and New York Mayor Ed Koch) to get off their asses and start fighting AIDS!

Kramer was so outspoken and blunt that he was forced out of GMHC, the group he founded!

His biggest literary success was the autobiographical Off-Broadway play, “The Normal Heart”, in the 1980s.  It played on Broadway in 2011 and was made into a hit movie by Ryan Murphy in 2014.

There’s an amazing HBO documentary called “Larry Kramer In Love & Anger” that you must see to learn more about this incredible man.


This 1981 book by Vito Russo covered the representation of the LGBTQ community in entertainment through the early years into the 1980s!

What an eye-opening read!

It’s appalling to know that gays and lesbians, when they were shown in movies in the early days of film, were only there to be made fun of, even though they weren’t even referenced as “homosexuals”.

Once movies in the 1960s and 1970s moved beyond using gays, lesbians, and cross-dressers as sight gags and to be made fun of, they became either the victims of heinous crimes or they would commit suicide because of “being that way”!

Even critics, from reputable publications like “Time”, “Newsweek”, “The New York Times”, and others perpetuated this appalling stereotype, even after gay liberation started at the beginning of the 1970s.

No wonder it took America until the 2000s to really make progress in LGBTQ rights!

Even one of my all-time favorite movies, the 1991 Oscar-winning “The Silence of the Lambs” made the serial killer a transvestite that killed to be more like a woman! 

And, it starred a lesbian, Jodie Foster, one of my favorite actresses!

The late actor Richard Burton, who played a gay character, summed it up best to gossip columnist Liz Smith talking about homophobic theater critics, “Are they even vaguely aware that some of the greatest voices in the theater belong to homosexuals? They frighten me. Because they’re supposed to be the intellectuals, and I suddenly realize that they’re the audience for this film. I have never known anyone who took great exception to homosexuals that there wasn’t something very wrong with that person himself. “

And, “Abuse” director Arthur J. Bressan was asked by the mother of a teenage boy auditioning for his movie if her son would turn out gay by acting in the film. He replied, “No, and if he plays Hamlet he won’t inherit Denmark, either!”

One final interesting note from this book: director Herbert Ross made some of the most homophobic movies to come of out of Hollywood!

He was also the director of such major films such as “Funny Lady”, “The Turning Point”, “Goodbye Girl”, and “Footloose”.

And, here’s the irony, his biggest hit was 1989’s “Steel Magnolias”, one of the gayest (non-gay) movies ever made!

come sit by me!”


After binge-watching 60-plus hours of television in April, I got caught up on “9-1-1”, “9-1-1: Lone Star” “Prodigal Son”, “The Good Doctor”, and “The Sinner”!

I also watched season three of “Ozark” and it was incredible! WOW!

While the nominations aren’t out yet, just go ahead and give Laura Linney, Janet McTeer, and Tom Pelphrey their Emmy Awards now!

I’ve loved Linney since I saw her as Mary Ann Singleton in “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities” in 1994 and I feel this is her year to collect another Emmy!

In May, I watched the series finales of “How To Get Away With Murder” and “Homeland”. Both were perfect!

Thank you Viola Davis, Shonda Rhimes, and Peter Nowalk for six amazing, crazy years of “Murder”!

And, Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, these eight years of “Homeland” were so intense and rewarding!

These A+ finales join “The Americans”, “Breaking Bad”, and “Six Feet Under” as my favorites series I’ve watched from beginning to end!

Sorry “Dexter”! Loved the entire series except that finale! Really???


I’m also now caught up on “Sex Education”, “Mindhunter”, “You”, and “Eastsiders”.

“Eastsiders” is a funny, touching LGBTQ series on Netflix.

Check it out since the fourth and final season was just nominated for eight Daytime Emmy Awards!

Congrats to creators Kit Williamson and John Halbach and the incredible cast! Hi Willam!

If you’ve never seen it, live a little and start with the six episode final season and you’ll be hooked and want to see it from the beginning!

The finale was so touching, beautiful, and funny!


The sixth studio album from Lady Gaga, “Chromatica”, came out in late May.

The second single, “Rain on Me”, with Ariana Grande, debuted last week at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

It follows “Stupid Love”, which reached #5 on the Hot 100.


Earlier this year, I read the 1997 picture book about the making of the “Titanic” movie.


With text by Ed Marsh and photographs by Douglas Kirkland, it was very enlightening to see what all went into Cameron’s masterpiece.


Earlier this year, I also read “The Perfect Storm” by Sebastian Junger (1997), Tatum O’Neal’s “A Paper Life” (2004) and Dame Judi Dench’s “and furthermore” (2010).


With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!


Winter Storm Sinks Ship, But The Christmas Spirit Lives On


When you think about Christmas, nautical disasters normally don’t come to mind.  And, with our cruise less than three weeks ago, I probably shouldn’t be putting these thoughts in my head!  There is a correlation to sinking ships and Christmas and that’s why I’m blogging about this today.

But, first a quick history lesson.  When it comes to deadly shipping/boating disasters, the one that is most well-known is probably the “RMS Titanic”.  The ship that was branded as “unsinkable” did just that in April 1912 on its maiden voyage about 275 miles from Newfoundland, Canada, after striking an iceberg and sinking.  It killed an estimated 1, 500 people.  But, if you use death toll as the basis, it’s only the sixth deadliest on record.


The deadliest is the “MV Wilhelm Gustloff”, which sank in January 1945, after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine.  About 9,400 perished in that attack.

In its list of the “Ten Deadliest Shipwrecks in History”, the website,, reports that three of them happened right here in the United States.  At #10 is the passenger ship, the “SS Eastland”.  It rolled over in the Chicago River while tied to a dock in 1915 killing about 845 people.


The “PS General Slocum”, a passenger steamboat, ranks at #7.  A fire broke out on board in New York’s East River in June 1904.  An estimated 1,021 people, mostly women and children from a church group heading to a picnic, died in that disaster.  This was the New York area’s worst disaster in terms of loss of life until the 9/11 attacks!


And, at #4 is the “SS Sultana”.  An explosion aboard this Mississippi River steamboat paddle wheeler on April 27, 1865, caused it to sink just miles from Memphis, Tennessee.  It was carrying mostly Civil War soldiers.  While the boat had a legal capacity of only 376 people, it’s estimated that about 2,400 people were on board when it sank.  It’s listed that 1,547 people died, but that number could have been as high as 1,900.


That tragedy was overshadowed in America by the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln less than two weeks earlier.


This year not only marks the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the “Titanic”, but it’s also the 105th anniversary of the loss of the “Rouse Simmons”, a three-masted schooner, which foundered in a violent Lake Michigan winter storm on November 23, 1912, near Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

Rouse Simmons

Ships sinking in Great Lakes winter storms in the month of November are not all that uncommon with gale or hurricane-force winds, heavy snow, and high waves.  However, the “Rouse Simmons” wasn’t just any ship.  In Chicago, it was known as “The Christmas Tree Ship”.

In the 1880s and 1890s, brothers Herman and August Schuenemann would sell Christmas trees to Chicago residents that they would get in the upper peninsula of Michigan.  In November 1898, August would die when the two-masted schooner he was sailing on, the “S. Thal” disappeared under the waters near Glencoe, Illinois, in a fierce winter storm.  His brother, Herman, would meet the same fate 14 years later.

Herman Schuenemann bought an interest in the “Rouse Simmons” in 1910 and expanded that to one-eighths of a share in 1912.  Throughout the early years of the 1900s, Herman became known as “Captain Santa” (center in photo).


Herman would sell Christmas trees for fifty cents to a dollar from a boat decorated with electric Christmas lights at the Clark Street Bridge in Chicago.  Since he didn’t have to pay a middleman by bringing in the trees himself, his slogan was “Christmas Tree Ship:  My Prices Are The Lowest”.  He would even give trees away to the needy.


November 1912 was off to a relatively quiet start across the Great Lakes with only one storm reported that month.  Captain Schuenemann and his crew loaded the “Rouse Simmons” with about 5,000 fresh trees in the upper peninsula of Michigan and began their week-long journey to Chicago.  That number was well above the weight capacity that the ship should have been carrying.

On November 22nd, the seasoned captain and the long past its sailing days, 44-year-old-aging ship, left the harbor in Thompson, Michigan, just as a winter storm began to rage across the Great Lakes.  By the following afternoon, due to the wind and a heavy accumulation of ice and snow, the “Christmas Tree Ship” was in trouble.

A surfman working at a Life Saving Station in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, about 30 miles from Green Bay, alerted a station keeper that at 2:50 p.m. on November 23, 1912, he spotted a schooner heading south flying its flag at half-mast.  In navigation, that is the universal sign of distress.

That would be the last sighting of the “Rouse Simmons”.  A boat was sent out to try to rescue the distressed crew, but hours later it returned safely back to shore never having spotted the doomed ship.  The “Christmas Tree Ship” with “Captain Santa” and an estimated 1o-23 others perished in the icy cold waters.  It was just one of many ships that were lost in “The Great Storm of 1912”.

Rouse Simmons Discovered

The “Rouse Simmons” was discovered in 1971 in about 165 feet of water at the bottom of Lake Michigan near Two Fingers, Wisconsin.

After that fateful and deadly voyage, Herman Schuenemann’s wife, Barbara, and their three daughters, Elsie (pictured), Pearl, and Hazel, would continue the Christmas tree tradition each year until 1920.  But, they shipped the trees to Chicago by train.


These days, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter “Mackinaw” each year travels from northern Michigan to Chicago to bring symbolic Christmas trees to needy to remember Schuenemann and the “Christmas Tree Ship”.  Two days ago, on Friday, November 30th, it delivered 1,300 trees.

Anniversary Trees 2012

So, this Christmas when you look at your beautifully decorated tree, take a moment to remember Captain Schuenemann and his crew and the legend of the “Christmas Tree Ship” on this 100th anniversary.

And, what would a blog from Anthony be without a video?  While a fierce winter storm on the Great Lakes foundered the “Christmas Tree Ship” in 1912 and many others before and since then, a storm on Lake Superior sent the freighter “SS Edmund Fitzgerald” to its watery grave on November 10, 1975.


The freighter was carrying taconite ore pellets from Superior, Wisconsin, to Detroit, Michigan.  It left on November 9, 1975.  The next afternoon, it encountered hurricane-force winds and waves upward to 35 feet and it sank in Canadian waters about 530 feet deep about 17 miles from the entrance of Whitefish Bay near the twin cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.  All 29 people on board died.

While the “Christmas Tree Ship” will live on in Chicago and the Great Lakes, the “Edmund Fitzgerald” lives on in song.  Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot reached #1 in Canada and #2 in the United States with “The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald” one year after the freighter foundered.  And, I found this amazing video that was produced to remember the 29 men that died to Lightfoot’s song.