Monday, April 8, 2013

An Iron Lady and a Mouseketeer

I find my heart is broken today. The last great fires of my golden youth have passed on and left my world a little darker. 

I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to the Thatcher family and the United Kingdom for the loss of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. While my politics are my own, there can be no denying that this remarkable woman as left her footprint on the world. Even though I am an American, she still inspired me in my youth. I knew I wanted to be, like she, a woman of conviction, who in the face of adversity, can rally the support of those around me to make a united front.

Requiescat in pace, Ms. Thatcher. Your presence is missed.

My sympathies also to the Funicello family and Hollywood for the loss of Annette Funicello, a beautiful woman and a talented, talented performer, fondly known as America's Sweetheart.

I raise a glass in your honor and toast to your memory.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Typhoon Nancy (WoE #14, Euphonic Phrase and Propeller Challenge)

After a week's hiatus, I'm returning to Write at the Merge. The prompts this week include a picture of the propeller from the aircraft carrier, USS Intrepid, and the words cellar door.

Cellar Door is considered to be a perfect euphonic phrase, at least that is what was said in the film Donnie Darko. Phonaesthetics, the study of euphony (inherent pleasantness) and cacophony (inherent unpleasantness) in the sound of words was introduced by J.R.Firth in 1930.

Cellar door may be considered the most beautiful phrase in the English language, but it's beauty is lost on me.

Now, the aircraft carrier propeller, that is beauty that is not lost on me. I am the very proud daughter of a man who once served aboard an aircraft carrier, CVA-31 the Bon Homme Richard, fondly called the Bonnie Dick. The Bonnie Dick had several West-Pac tours and she was involved in World War II, The Korean War, and The Vietnam Conflict. I got to walk her flight deck with my father and to pay my respects to her in 1992 before they scrapped her. She was a beautiful, beautiful creature and a damn fine carrier. 

In September of 1961, a Catagory 5 super typhoon named Nancy wrecked havoc upon the West-Pac countries. She formed near the Kwajalein Atol, moving west and then north across Japan, eventually moving out to the open water of the Kamchatka Sea. In Japan alone, 157 people were killed, 18 missing, and over 3,000 injured, making Nancy the 6th deadliest cyclone to hit Japan.

Unable to steer from the Nancy's path, The Bonnie Dick suffered as well. Nancy claimed the life of a sailor as she stole an aircraft from the flight deck. Waves stood 100-feet high over the flight deck (the flight deck is 85ft above normal water lines). When all was said and done, they lost a large crane from the main deck, all the catwalks and walkways on the deck edge were stripped off, the starboard-side aircraft elevator was ripped loose and dangled in the water, the starboard catapult track, a 12in by 14in steel beam, was bent 50ft in the air, and the list of damages goes on from there.

My story this week is loosely based on a true story, my dad's story. I hope I've done you proud, Pop.

I offer the following in response: Nancy Ain't A Lady

“Hell, Typhoon Nancy’s going to chase us all the way to Kamchatka!”

The ocean leaned like a Jenga tower, 65-feet over the flight deck and Seaman Angler grabbed the nearest railing. The wave burned him when it hit, tearing at his eyes. The aircraft carrier slid beneath him. Forever he gripped the railing, feeling both heavy and weightless, counting the long seconds until the carrier righted and the water fled. He sucked in a welcome breath. Nancy’s trying to kill me.

“Woot! That’s what I call a coaster! You all right Seaman? You look green.”

“Respectfully, Sir, shut the hell up.” Angler set his feet and adjusted the cables on his shoulders.

The CO pushed another volunteer out into the weather. “Let’s haul, ladies. The United States will not lose another aircraft on my watch. Get those lines out. Move! Move!”

Angler followed orders, but with a 70-mile head-wind and a hundred pounds of cable tossed across his shoulders, the definition of move was lost in translation. “Join the Navy, see the world. Right.” He questioned his sanity.

Seaman Briggs was behind him; Angler heard his voice boom over the howling wind, “Wild! They say the captain’s gone nuts, ordering the waves to get the hell off his flight deck. Have you ever seen weather like this?”

“No, I’m from Kansas.” Angler coughed seawater from his lungs. “Nearest body of water was the neighbor’s kiddie pool.”

The pilot house broke the next wave. Several tie-downs snapped as the carrier slammed through the trough. Briggs tapped his shoulder. “We got another Skyraider loose.”

“Shit.” Angler forced his legs to increase speed. He and Briggs fought the typhoon, repairing what tie-downs they could with the new cables. The carrier shuddered, complaining, but the weather was merciless. The cyclone tossed the Bon Homme Richard around like a rubber float.

They resecured the jet, and pushed on to the next aircraft between waves, where the process was repeated.  Guide lights flashed across the liquid darkness, a signal their time was up. They fought for every inch of their return, thigh-deep in pooled ocean.

Inside, Briggs and Angler separated. Angler slogged towards his quarters, cursing the sting of soaked clothing. The Bonnie Dick rolled again, throwing Angler against the wall, and the hallway plunged into darkness. “Son-of-a…” Angler pressed against the midship, and waited.

The darkness belayed.

Angler inched forward, using the wall to guide him, his progress painful. Then, a voice whispered within his mind, Stop.

He looked down as the red battlelights flickered into existence. Angler balanced on one leg at the edge of the expansion joint. The sight of swirling ocean pumped ice through his veins. The developing chasm was six-feet across and a long way down.

The treadplate slammed shut. Angler’s heart stopped and he collapsed to the floor, shaken. There he stayed in deep conversation with God, a conversation long overdue, until his will returned. He would not leave his bunk for the rest of the night.