Day Five Hundred Sixty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Tomas broke into the ward room mid-breakfast to alert the Captain to the presence of a lone ship on the horizon. At once the Captain left for the bridge. Elijah and I followed behind.

The speck was a ship, but whether merchant or a tanker it was impossible to make out for certain, even with binoculars. But by all appearances it was blocking the channel to our next port.

Pirates are not unheard of in this region, so the Captain made a snap decision to change course and make for a port on the opposite side of the island we had been heading for.

Much to everyone’s relief, the speck did not pursue us. It remained steadfast on station.

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Day Four Hundred Seventy Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Tomas has relieved me from all watch duty. The danger from pirates has past. Though we still exert caution not to call undue attention to ourselves from the patrolling naval vessels which seem to be everywhere.

The Captain estimates that we are three days out from our next port of call. Therefore he asked me to prepare the list of containers that will be offloaded there.

In the process I discovered a listing for a container with no destination information on its original paper work. I queried Tomas about this. He told me he had discovered the same anomaly when he was filling in as purser, but hadn’t had any time to investigate.

I put it first on my list.

Day Four Hundred Seventy Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We are hopeful that the danger from pirates is past. The Captain thinks this likely as we are now headed towards the seat of the world government.

It is not our destination. Indeed, we shall not be heading into the gulf off of which it is being built. But we assume there will a strong naval presence, and hence a deterrent to piratical activity.

I am still pulling extra watches.

During the afternoon one I split my attention between the sea around us and the shoreline on our port. At one point some movement alarmed me – among the dun-colored rocky hills shoreward, streams of white dots were swarming.

An amused Elijah told me they were only flocks of goats.

Day Four Hundred Sixty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Before the course change last night Tomas went to the Captain’s cabin and woke him up. The Captain had guessed already the motivating concern of his First Mate’s visit. And told him that it was more likely that the robotic warship was a bigger threat to them than the rumored pirates. The Captain reiterated the order. On leaving Tomas successfully begged him to double the watch.

Or so Elijah related to me this morning.

Having little to do myself I sought Tomas and volunteered to stand additional watches. He accepted my offer and took a few moments to run down what I should be alert for – small, fast-moving boats with a few armed men.

I hope they stay away.

Swiss Family Critic

Swiss Family Critic

Disney, through Buena Vista, their distribution arm, had a strategy in place since the fifties. You never saw their animation or live action features on the small box. After its release, they were locked up in their vault, only to be released after seven years had passed, the theory being that they would have a whole new generation to which to market it. And it worked. (And still does – since they do something similar with their DVD releases).
Now, in January of 1969, it was Swiss Family Robinson’s turn. I had seen it for the first time when my folks took us to see it at a drive-in theater in Spokane, Washington. I actually enjoyed it more than the playground down in front of the big screen. So I was excited to be able to see it again after seven years.
Things that you are enthousiastic about you like to share. And I was looking forward to the “usher” version of that – slipping into the theater for a favorite scene and experiencing it again with the audience – their first time, and my someteenth, enjoying their surprise or other type reaction to it.
Always a favorite was the pirate attack at the end. It was a heady concoction of action, suspense and comedy. Knowing that pirates were in their vicinity, the Swiss Family had made contingency plans to protect themselves: by building a redoubt on some high ground; putting together some coconut hand grenades; and placing logs and boulders at strategic places to roll down upon their attackers, and a personal favorite, the device rigged by Kevin Corcoran to warn of their enemies approach if they chose to scale the cliff at the back of their fort. Repeated viewings did reveal some of the secrets behind the movie magic. Everything happens at a break-neck pace, so the first time you see the rolling palm tree logs, chances are you didn’t notice one log with a pirate on each end that bowed severely in the middle when they all rolled across the top of a third, and rather plump pirate.
I was in a good frame of mind as I worked broom and dust pan, sweeping up spilled popcorn and wrappers in the entrance way to the theater that was playing Swiss Family. A thirtyish gentleman was standing there outside the closed door. I made the assumption that he had just seen the show and was waiting for the rest of his party before leaving. So I asked him how he had liked the show, assuming he had to have liked it. He rapidly disenchanted me of that notion.
From his snobbish height he looked down his nose upon my impertinence, and let me know in no uncertain terms that this film was nothing, nothing at all compared to the version he had seen in his youth. I was flumoxed. I’d never heard of another film based on the Wyss story. I thought perhaps he was confused and was actually remembering the first release of this version. When I put forth that interpretation, I offended him the more. He replied that his version had been made in the 1940s, and was in every way superior to this modern day interloper. He left me standing there, feeling no bigger than the popcorn kernel I was trying to sweep up.

(I wouldn’t learn until years later that there had been other versions. There was no IMDB in those days. There were some Film year books but I had no access to them. The version that he had no doubt seen was the 1940 RKO one starring Thomas Mitchell).