Apr. 15th, 2012

lazypadawan: (don't panic)
Last night marked the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic's sinking after it struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Over 1500 passengers and crew either drowned or froze to death.

As with any great horrific event that captures and keeps the popular imagination, there are always subsequent stories that suggest alternate theories, curses, and conspiracies.

For the record, I don't doubt the facts surrounding the incident. The boat hit an iceberg by accident, the boat sank faster than anyone expected, even more unexpectedly it broke into two, and victims were hosed more by emergency procedures that proved insufficient than anything else.

But when have facts ever deterred anybody from finding conspiracies?

One guy wrote a book some years ago claiming White Star switched Titanic's identity with a sister ship Olympic, then planned a controlled sinking in an insurance scam. The plan went wrong when it accidentally hit a darkened rescue ship, not an iceberg. The problem is that theory goes against eyewitness accounts, markings from the wreckage, and common sense. Why would you risk the lives of thousands of people, including some of the wealthiest and most prominent people of the day, for that? It's like Cunard deciding to sink the Queen Mary 2 with Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, and Oprah Winfrey on board. Even though maritime law was different a century ago in regard to who was liable for a sinking, White Star took a HUGE black eye after its prized baby went down with members of New York society. The money wouldn't have been worth it.

But could there be a curse? Misfortune befell Titanic and its sister ships, Olympic and Britannic. Launched in 1911, HMS Olympic suffered breakdowns and several collisions in its 36 years of existence, though it did survive WWI as a troop transport and it was the only one of its sisters that never sank. The HMHS Britannic was also launched in 1911 but was never used as a civilian passenger ship. It was pressed into service during WWI and sunk by an explosion from a mine or a torpedo while patrolling Greek waters, killing 30 people.

Then there's my favorite, the Curse of the Mummy. Supposedly a famous journalist had smuggled a cursed Egyptian mummy he'd purchased aboard the Titanic and bragged about it to other passengers the night before the sinking. The journalist really was an ill-fated passenger on the ship but there's no evidence he ever owned a mummy or that he took it along with him on the trip.

Still, there are those who suggest a Titanic curse exists, which I guess exempts people named "James Cameron." Now, I don't know who would be nuts enough to take a commemorative cruise that will mark the Titanic's exact route--and I thought I was morbid--but said cruise had been hampered by bad weather and a BBC cameraman's heart attack.

Meanwhile, Robin Gibb, in a coma from severe pneumonia, co-wrote with his son a musical piece inspired by the Titanic that was recently performed for the first time. Curse or not, I wish Mr. Gibb and his family well.
lazypadawan: (Queen Amidala)
The Handmaiden And The Queen
Rated G
Summary: During the events of TPM, it's showtime for Sabé and Padmé



A handmaiden was an attendant. She styled hair. She helped put on beautiful but difficult-to-wear gowns. She ran errands and gave messages. She was a friend, a confidant who knew her Queen as intimately as a sister.

Sabé was also the Queen's decoy.

It was the hardest and most dangerous job for anyone in the Royal Court. Essentially her duty was to be captured or even take a blaster bolt for the monarch, a distraction meant to save the Queen's life. All of the handmaidens could fill that task but Sabé was chosen to be the primary decoy.

It was mostly thanks to the young handmaiden's more-than-passing resemblance to Queen Amidala, indication of perhaps a long ago genetic/ethnic connection. But Sabé's abilities as a mimic as well as her marksmanship and martial skills secured her the position. It was a duty she was called upon to perform for the first time when the invasion reached Theed.

"Your Highness," Captain Panaka had said, approaching the Queen with Sabé walking beside him. She had been staring out of one of the palace windows, sorrow apparent even on her alabaster face. "Quickly, we must switch you with the decoy. The invasion force will be here soon."

The plan was to not resist the invasion. The Naboo were virtually powerless to do so. Aside from law enforcement, palace guards, and a few pilots, there wasn't enough force to repel the attack. It was the price of being a peaceful world for so long. Their only hope was that the Jedi sent to negotiate were on their way. In the meantime, Sabé was to pose as the Queen while Amidala would pretend to be a handmaiden. As a handmaiden, she would better be able to assess the situation and perhaps even escape.

The two young girls went into the Queen's private chambers, the other handmaidens soon joining them. Panaka and the guards remained outside of the chambers' doors. What followed next was a flurry of activity as one group of handmaidens helped remove the Queen's distinctive makeup, heavy headdress, and gown while another team helped Sabé put on her disguise. It was an elaborate velvet and lace gown that looked heavier than Sabé's small frame though it was surprisingly comfortable to wear. Her hair was covered with black cloth and a jeweled piece along with some feathers completed her headdress.

Sabé sat in front of a vanity and began covering her face with alabaster foundation. Soon it was a ghostly white, turning her youthful face into a mask. She took the scarlet pigment used to make the dots beneath her eyes and the Scar of Remembrance. As she applied the pigment, she noticed in the mirror a handmaiden dressed in orange shimmering velvet standing behind her, looking on with amusement.

It took her a moment to realize the handmaiden was the Queen herself. Even this moment of distress, Amidala--or rather, Padmé--still could find the humor in a situation. But there was warmth in her smile too. "You'll do fine, Your Highness," she said.

When they were ready, Sabé took a deep breath and went into her role as Padmé assumed hers, getting into line with the other handmaidens, the guards accompanying them. It was time to confront the invaders.

The End

December 2012

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