Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace
From a few years ago, me mugging with the bronze buffalo sculpture at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Nominate Chevy Chase to Play the Lead in National Lampoon's Costa Concordia Disaster

You've got to love Italians.

Have they ever gotten anything right? Well, I do like spaghetti.

The comedy of errors that was the Costa Concordia's sinking would make a hilarious National Lampoon movie if it weren't for the deaths. Can you picture Chevy Chase as Captain Francesco Schettino? Funny stuff.



Except, I don't think even the most creative writer could come up with such a farce.

If you haven't heard any of the details, here's what I know in a nutshell:

The ship's captain -- one Francesco Schettino -- decided he would steam within 500 feet of the coast of an island north of Rome with lights blazing and sirens blaring to salute the island's inhabitants and specifically a retired commander of the Costa Cruise Line. The commander, incidentally, was wintering on the mainland at the time and wasn't even there to be saluted.

The captain invited the ship's head waiter, who has family on the island, to join him in the unsanctioned salute.

As the ship's more than 4,000 passengers sat down to dinner -- and the theme to the movie blockbuster Titanic played over the loudspeaker system -- on Friday, the ship ran afoul of submerged rocks that ripped a hole along much of its port (that's left for you landlubbers) side. I'm not kidding about the Titanic theme playing.

As crew members tried to assure panicked passengers that the ship was simply experiencing an electrical malfunction, the captain ordered the ship turned, trying to get it into the island's port.

The maneuver caused the Concordia to capsize.



It seems only the kitchen staff and a few of the dining room servers stepped up to try to help passengers as the ship foundered. Most of the ship's crew and all of its officers mysteriously disappeared.

Eventually ordering the ship abandoned, the captain says he accidentally tripped and fell into a life boat that made him among the first to be rescued. Balance control must be a real issue among Costa officers because both the Concordia's first and second officers wound up in the same life boat with the captain.

Darn it, this deck is slippery!

I'm willing to give the captain the benefit of the doubt. I'm sure he was just going to get help. "Stay here; I'll be right back with a bucket and galoshes."

As the captain floated away, the equivalent of the Italian Coast Guard ordered him back aboard the ship to oversee the evacuation. The captain responded that he couldn't get back on the ship because it was sinking. You can't pull anything over on an Italian cruise-ship captain.

Several hours later and after a three-hour interrogation in the island's harbor master's office. Schettino walked out the door, hailed a cab and was driven the 800 yards to a hotel.

He spoke to the cab driver not about the terrible tragedy in which he had just played a key role, but about where he might purchase a pair of dry socks.

I don't know about you, but if I had just destroyed a $100 million ship and killed several passengers, my first concern would be dry feet.

Sort of makes you want to run right out and buy a ticket for a cruise, doesn't it?

Well, I'm sure you can get a pretty good deal this week.

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