For a while there the people aboard the Carnival Splendor would not get off of my radio. Every hour arrived some breathless update on how these waylaid wayfarers were Coping without electricity: there on their ship out on the sea, they were forced to resort to all sorts of new and outre activities, like reading, or talking to one another, or gazing out at the ocean.
Now, I realize that these people were uncomfortable. A fire in the engine room knocked out the ship’s power, setting the craft adrift some 200 miles off the coast of Mexico, definitely diverting the vacation plans of the 3300 people on board. But to contend that these folks were “experiencing hell in real life” seemed a bit much. Particularly as around the same time babies were dying of cholera in Haiti, women were being raped en masse in the Congo, and howling im-beciles were being ushered into the halls of Congress . . . and all without the sort of attention lavished on the Carnival Splendor sufferers.
As far as I have been able to determine, none of these people were ever in any real danger. It is true that the toilets stopped working and nobody could have a shower, but that’s been the situation in Haiti for nearly a year, and nobody feels compelled to provide hourly updates about that on my radio. Free liquor was liberally dispensed to all on board, and the US military quickly leaped into action, raining down 50,000 pounds of Spam and Pop Tarts onto the Splendor, until the craft could be hooked up to the USS Ronald Reagan (gag) and nudged towards shore.
I think what was most interesting to me about this ordeal is that Mr. Ha-Ha had contrived to place an entire convention of professional magicians on board the Carnival Splendor. More than 100 of these people, described as “excellent magicians wanting to hone their trade,” were out there when the power went out. But it seems that despite their numbers, despite their knowledge of the craft, despite their expressed desire to “hone their trade,” when presented with a real opportunity to “hone their trade” by performing some real, needed magic . . . well, they just couldn’t produce. As they say: “sometimes the magic works; sometimes it doesn’t.”