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The Quick 10: 10 Incidents at the Bermuda Triangle

I'm a sucker for supernatural stuff. I know most "mysterious" shipwrecks can probably be explained from weather, currents and lots of other scientific evidence, but it's more fun for me to pretend they got sucked into some sort of other dimension (I've been setting too involved with Lost, I think). Anyway, below are 10 incidents that happened in association with the Bermuda Triangle, whether they can be explained perfectly logically or not.

10 Incidents at the Bermuda Triangle

1. Thomas Lynch, Jr. . The first recorded instance of strange happenings in the Bermuda Triangle area was when Thomas Lynch, Jr., and his wife disappeared while sailing to the West Indies in 1779. Lynch was a representative of South Carolina and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

2. USS Cyclops. So far, this is the biggest loss of Navy personnel not related to combat. The USS Cyclops and the 309 people on it disappeared without a trace sometime around March 4, 1918, after leaving Barbados.

3. Spray. Spray was a boat captained by Joshua Slocum, who was known for his skills on the water "“ he was the first man to complete a solo sailing mission around the world. There's no evidence that he was actually in the Bermuda Triangle when he disappeared en route from the Caribbean to Venezuela in 1909, but lots of theories have said there's no other way he could have lost control of his boat. He was declared legally dead in 1924.

4. Star Tiger and Star Ariel. These two aircrafts disappeared just about a year apart from each other "“ the Tiger (with 29 people on board) on January 30, 1948; the Ariel (20 people on board) on January 17, 1949. Neither plane gave out a distress call of any sort. Wreckage of a plane owned by the same company as the Tiger and the Ariel turned up in the Andes in 1998; the plane had disappeared in 1947. So far, though, nothing has been found of the Star planes.

5. HMS Atalanta. A crew of 281 died when this 26-gun frigate went missing after leaving Bermuda for Falmouth, England, in 1880. Sadly, its sister ship, the HMS Eurydice, sank near the Isle of Wight just two years before, killing 317.

6. S.S. Cotopaxi. In December 1925, the Cotopaxi was headed for Havana from Charleston, S.C., when it disappeared. The ship's captain radioed shortly before it was lost and said there was water in the hold, so there seems to be little doubt that she probably sank, along with all 32 crew members. This hasn't stopped the Cotopaxi from being added to the list of Bermuda Triangle mysteries, though.

7. S.S. Marine Sulphur Queen. The Marine Sulphur Queen was a T-2 tanker carrying, yup, you guessed it "“ Sulphur. It was going from Beaumont, Texas to Norfolk, Virginia, but never made it. A completely normal radio message was sent from the tanker on February 4, 1963, and by February 6 the ship was reported as missing. A total of 39 crew members were lost. And maybe this sister ship thing is a bad idea "“ the Marine Sulphur Queen's sister ship, the S.S. Sylvia L. Ossa, went down east of Bermuda in 1976. All that was ever found was some debris and an empty lifeboat. Note to self: If I ever take up a career as a first mate and my sister ship sinks somewhere, seek a new job immediately.

8. The Carroll A. Deering. Maybe this ship was doomed from the start "“ the captain got sick and had to abandon ship at a port in Delaware. This was apparently considered a bad omen. After delivering its cargo to Rio, the ship started to turn home and stopped in Barbados for supplies. After this it was sighted near North Carolina and noted that the crew was acting strange; the ship wasn't seen again until its wreckage washed up off the coast of Cape Hatteras. The ship's log, navigation equipment, the crew's personal stuff and boat lifeboats were gone.

9. S.S. Hewitt. The Hewitt was lost in 1921 when she sailed from Sabine, Texas, bound for Portland, Maine. The captain made a regular radio call on January 25 and was never heard from again. The last sighting is about 250 miles north of Jupiter Inlet, Florida. Not a trace of wreckage has ever been found, even after a pretty extensive search along the route it was supposed to be traveling.

10. Chase Vault. Here's one that doesn't involve ships or planes, although you might want to take it with a grain of salt. The Chase Vault is a burial vault in Barbados where weird things kept happening in the early 19th century. Every time the vault was opened, all of the coffins (save for one) had moved. It's a pretty lengthy story, but if you want to check out it, visit good old Wikipedia. It's interesting.
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Pop Culture
The Sweet Surprise Reunion Mr. Rogers Never Saw Coming
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For more than 30 years, legendary children’s show host Fred Rogers used his PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to educate his young viewers on concepts like empathy, sharing, and grief. As a result, he won just about every television award he was eligible for, some of them many times over.

Rogers was gracious in accepting each, but according to those who were close to the host, one honor in particular stood out. It was March 11, 1999, and Rogers was being inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame, an offshoot of the Emmy Awards. Just before being called to the stage, out came a surprise.

The man responsible for the elation on Rogers’s face was Jeff Erlanger, a 29-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin who became a quadriplegic at a young age after undergoing spinal surgery to remove a tumor. Rogers was surprised because Erlanger had appeared on his show nearly 20 years prior in 1980 to help kids understand how people with physical challenges adapt to life’s challenges. Here's his first encounter with the host:

Reunited on stage after two decades, Erlanger referred to the song, “It’s You I Like,” which the two sang during their initial meeting. “On behalf of millions of children and grown-ups,” Erlanger said, “it’s you I like.” The audience, including a visibly moved Candice Bergen, rose to their feet to give both men a standing ovation.

Following Erlanger’s death in 2007, Hedda Sharapan, an employee with Rogers’s production company, called their poignant scene “authentic” and “unscripted,” and that Rogers often pointed to it as his favorite moment from the series.

Near the end of the original segment in 1980, as Erlanger drives his wheelchair off-camera, Rogers waves goodbye and offers a departing message: “I hope you’ll come back to visit again.”

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20 Things You Might Not Have Known About Firefly
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© 2002 Twentieth Century Fox

As any diehard fan will be quick to tell you, Firefly's run was far, far too short. Despite its truncated run, the show still offers a wealth of fun facts and hidden Easter eggs. On the 15th anniversary of the series' premiere, we're looking back at the sci-fi series that kickstarted a Browncoat revolution.

1. A CIVIL WAR NOVEL INSPIRED THE FIREFLY UNIVERSE.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels from author Michael Shaara was Joss Whedon’s inspiration for creating Firefly. It follows Union and Confederate soldiers during four days at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Whedon modeled the series and world on the Reconstruction Era, but set in the future.

2. ORIGINALLY, THE SERENITY CREW INCLUDED JUST FIVE MEMBERS.

When Whedon first developed Firefly, he wanted Serenity to only have five crew members. However, throughout development and casting, Whedon increased the cast from five to nine.

3. REBECCA GAYHEART WAS ORIGINALLY CAST TO PLAY INARA.

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Before Morena Baccarin was cast as Inara Serra, Rebecca Gayheart landed the role—but she was fired after one day of shooting because she lacked chemistry with the rest of the cast. Baccarin was cast two days later and started shooting that day.

4. NEIL PATRICK HARRIS WAS ALMOST DR. SIMON TAM.

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Before it went to Sean Maher, Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role of Dr. Simon Tam.

5. JOSS WHEDON WROTE THE THEME SONG.

Whedon wrote the lyrics and music for Firefly’s opening theme song, “The Ballad of Serenity.”

6. STAR WARS SPACECRAFT APPEAR IN FIREFLY.

Star Wars was a big influence on Whedon. Captain Malcolm Reynolds somewhat resembles Han Solo, while Whedon used the Millennium Falcon as inspiration to create Serenity. In fact, you can spot a few spacecraft from George Lucas's magnum opus on the show.

When Inara’s shuttle docks with Serenity in the pilot episode, an Imperial Shuttle can be found flying in the background. In the episode “Shindig,” you can see a Starlight Intruder as the crew lands on the planet Persephone.

7. HAN SOLO FROZEN IN CARBONITE POPS UP THROUGHOUT FIREFLY.

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Nathan Fillion is a big Han Solo fan, so the Firefly prop department made a 12-inch replica of Han Solo encased in Carbonite for the Canadian-born actor. You can see the prop in the background in a number of scenes.

8. ALIEN'S WEYLAND-YUTANI CORPORATION MADE AN APPEARANCE.

In Firefly’s pilot episode, the opening scene features the legendary Battle of Serenity Valley between the Browncoats and The Union of Allied Planets. Captain Malcolm Reynolds takes control of a cannon with a Weyland-Yutani logo inside of its display. Weyland-Yutani is the large conglomerate corporation in the Alien film franchise. (Whedon wrote Alien: Resurrection in 1997.)

9. ZAC EFRON'S ACTING DEBUT WAS ON FIREFLY.

A 13-year-old Zac Efron made his acting debut in the episode “Safe” in 2002. He played Young Simon in a flashback.

10. CAPTAIN MALCOLM REYNOLDS'S HORSE IS A WESTERN TROPE.

At its core, Firefly is a sci-fi western—and Malcolm Reynolds rides the same horse on every planet (it's named Fred).

11. FOX AIRED FIREFLY'S EPISODES OUT OF ORDER.

Fox didn’t feel Firefly’s two-hour pilot episode was strong enough to air as its first episode. Instead, “The Train Job” was broadcast first because it featured more action and excitement. The network continued to cherry-pick episodes based on broad appeal rather than story consistency, and eventually aired the pilot as the show’s final episode.

12. THE ALLIANCE'S ORIGINS ARE AMERICAN AND CHINESE.

The full name of The Alliance is The Anglo-Sino Alliance. Whedon envisioned The Alliance as a merger of American and Chinese government and corporate superpowers. The Union of Allied Planets’ flag is a blending of the American and Chinese national flags.

13. THE SERENITY LOUNGE SERVED AS AN ACTUAL LOUNGE.

Between set-ups and shots, the cast would hang out in the lounge on the Serenity set rather than trailers or green rooms.

14. INARA SERRA'S NAME IS MESOPOTAMIAN.

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Inara Serra is named after the Mesopotamian Hittite goddess, the protector of all wild animals.

15. THE CHARACTERS SWORE (JUST NOT IN ENGLISH).

The Firefly universe is a mixture of American and Chinese culture, which made it easy for writers to get around censors by having characters swear in Chinese.

16. THE UNIFORMS ARE RECYCLED FROM STARSHIP TROOPERS.

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The uniforms for Alliance officers and soldiers were the costumes from the 1997 science fiction film Starship Troopers. The same costumes were repurposed again for the Starship Troopers sequel.

17. "SUMMER!" MEANS SOMEONE MESSED UP.

Every time a cast member flubbed one of his or her lines, they would yell Summer Glau’s name. This was a running gag among the cast after Glau forgot her lines in the episode “Objects In Space.”

18. THE SERENITY SPACESHIP WAS BUILT TO SCALE.

The interior of Serenity was built entirely to scale; rooms and sections were completely contiguous. The ship’s interior was split into two stages, one for the upper deck and one for the lower. Whedon showed off the Firefly set in one long take to open the Serenity movie.

19. "THE MESSAGE" SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE SHOW'S FAREWELL.

Although “The Message” was the twelfth episode, it was the last episode filmed during Firefly’s short run. Composer Greg Edmonson wrote a piece of music for a funeral scene in the episode, which served as a final farewell to the show. Sadly, it was one of three episodes (the other two were “Trash” and “Heart of Gold”) that didn’t air during Firefly’s original broadcast run on Fox.

20. FIREFLY AND SERENITY WERE SENT TO THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

American Astronaut Steven Ray Swanson is a big fan of Firefly, so when he was sent to the International Space Station for his first mission (STS-117) in 2007, he brought DVD copies of Firefly and its feature film Serenity aboard with him. The DVDs are now a permanent part of the space station’s library.

This post originally appeared in 2014.

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