Monday, June 30, 2008

Barf bags...

We had some excitement today.

I was in the exercise room working out and saw a sail boat on the horizon. That wouldn’t be that crazy, but we’re way out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Usually, on Mondays and Tuesdays we see anything!!!

So, to see a sailboat, it was quite odd.

As we got closer to the boat the people onboard waved and requested assistance. Our ship slowed down and pulled up next to the sailboat. Apparently, they had blown off course and needed assistance. Our ship radioed the Coast Guard and notified them of the sailboats situation. One of their passengers was evacuated onto our boat and the Coast Guard was dispatched to assist the wayward sailboat and it’s remaining crew.

We were told that within a couple of hours the Coast Guard had reached the sailboat and everyone was fine. The evacuated passenger is still on our ship and on her way to beautiful Bermuda. Lucky her!

Monday has been a dreary day. The rain began early this morning and has continued all day long.

On normal sea days, the majority of the passengers are out by the pool all day long.
When it’s raining, only a select few wander near the pool.
Instead, they all go here… …to the dining room.

Adding to the bleariness is the fact that we’re driving into a gulfstream which is rocking the boat up and down and back and forth. There are barf bags everywhere. And, people are making heavy use of them. I was upstairs reading in the lounge and had to leave because there was a sudden cavalcade of group vomiting. It was like the wave at a ballpark. It started at one end of the room and circled around to where I was sitting.

I left before it got close to me.

****UPDATE****
At 8:45 as Jeannie and I were eating dinner in our room, I looked out our porthole and saw another sailboat.

Sure enough, it had blown off course and was also in trouble. Our ship pulled up to them and rescued 3 people off of it.

Apparently, there was a sailboat race that began in Boston on Sunday and few of the boats got caught in this bad weather we're driving through.

Needless to say it's been a pretty exciting day.

Week 3...


Sunday afternoon was spent in NYC.

We got a late start because all the crew members on the boat had to go through an immigration check. Unfortunately, this is the second week in a row we had to be signed off through immigration.


It’s especially difficult because the process begins at 7:00am. Once everyone has presented their passports and proper papers to the New York immigration officials, we can then get off the boat. Sunday, that didn’t happen until 11:00am.

Once we got off the ship we ran a few errands and ended up at the Virgin Music Store. Jeannie bought season one of the “Flight of the Concords” and I bought “The Complete First Season of SNL”.

After that, we sat down and ate our first “non-boat food” in two weeks. That delicious meal was provided to us by the Times Square Ruby Tuesdays. The meal made Jeannie very happy.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cookies...

I found the cookies.

I've been seeing people walk around with cookies, but we can never find where the cookies are located.

Sometimes in life, all you want is a good soft cookie.

Well, yesterday it hit me. Every person that I've seen eating cookies is a child.

I went to the Garden Cafe, which is the main dining room and went to the children's section. There they were in all the glory. A huge bowl of cookies.

I went in and grabbed one for Jeannie and I.

Upon seeing the cookies in my hands Jeannie raced toward me and in a manic frenzy growled at me in a demonic voice, "Where are they?!? Where are they?!?"


I pointed to the children's section and she bolted over the rail and grabbed the last 3 remaining cookies.

It's a buffet line so they'll refill them, but I took a frightening amount of glee in knowing that we had just stolen all the children's cookies.

Sea life is getting to me!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ouch...

That sunburn was worse than I thought. As I write this on Friday evening, I'm sitting here in blister city.

It hurts, hurts, hurts.

But, it's nothing new for me. When you are as pale skinned as I am, you get used to having sunburns every summer.

Yesterday we stayed on the boat so that we were nowhere near the sun. I actually spent most of the day in the laundry room washing my clothes. Laundry is free on the boat. I could even send it out with my room steward, but I'd really rather do my own laundry.

Besides, it gives me a chance to read "The Informant". I'm obsessed with this book.

Thursday night we did our mainstage show. It was our second time doing the show and we're really honing in on the material and our audience. It went great.

Today, I worked out and ran 2 miles. It was the first time I've run in 3 weeks so I was pretty happy that I was able to last for 2 miles.

This evening we did our scriptless show. Last week our Friday scriptless show was a 6 on a 1 to 10 scale. This week it was 9. Good stuff.

We're back on the Atlantic and headed back to New York.

We're starting to slide into a routine. At port, at sea...it's all beginning to feel like we're adapting and this has all become a part of our normal everyday life.

We'll see how long that lasts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sunburned...

On Wednesday we finally managed to get off the boat. We bought an all-day bus pass ($12) and took the bus to Horseshoe Cove. Turquoise water and crystal pink sand, it was the most beautiful beach I’d ever seen.
The water was choppy so we jumped in and swam around for hours.
After our beach escapade we picked up the bus again and rode it to Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda. We walked around for awhile and took in the sights.

Bermuda is veeeerrryyy expensive. Everything on the island has to be imported in so the price of everything is pretty high. We stopped to grab something to eat and it cost $36.00 for Jeannie’s (turkey sandwich) and my (bowl of chili) food.

There are two things we saw a lot of as we walked around. Scooters are everywhere. The primary mode of transportation around this island is scooters.
The other thing we saw is tons of men in shorts with long socks. For many men, this ensemble serves as business attire. All over the downtown district we watched as businessmen left their places of employment and headed home, briefcases in hand.
On one special occasion we got to see a combination of scooters-shorts-and socks.
As the sun set, Jeannie and I boarded the ferry (yippee! It was included on our all-day bus pass) and headed back to our ship. It was at that point that we realized for the first time that we were both very sunburnt. The Bermuda sun’s a little stronger than we had realized. As we traveled back through the harbor, we passed by the yacht club.
Moments later we passed by a gaggle of sailboats on their way back to the dock. It was pretty cool.
30 minutes later we arrived back at our boat.
It had been a long day.

Freestyle...

Tuesday was much busier than Monday.


"Freestyle" is Norwegian Cruise Line's motto or buzzword. It means a lot of things, but it's most often applied to describe their dining options. Most Cruise ships require passengers to wear formal attire and eat at scheduled times that are determined by the Cruise Staff. You also are assigned seating, so you end up eating with people you don't know.


With "Freestyle" you get to eat when ever and where ever you want.


"Freestyle" is also applied to their daily activities. All throughout the day the Cruise Director's staff has scheduled multiple activities for passengers to participate in. Two to three times a week, workshops with the cast of Second City are those activities on the Dawn. (On some ships there are workshops 6 times a week)


That means that each of us in the cast teaches one workshop a week. Since we only have 2 to 3 workshops a week, we double up and teach classes with a partner. This week, my partner is my tango partner in the scripted show (yes, I have to dance a tango in the show), Katie Caussin.


The workshops are listed in the daily activities of the ship's newsletter, but it always seems to confuse everyone. Everyone comes thinking they are there to see a performance.


Yesterday Katie started the workshop by telling them it wasn't a show or a lecture and it would require everyone to jump up and participate. At that announcement, a few people scrambled out of there in a hurry.


Those that stayed had an awesome time. It was a wide mix of people that ranged from the age of 17 to 85. We ran them through several improv warm ups and games and we all had a fantastic time.

After the workshop, Jeannie and I worked out and then sat by the pool for awhile as I read my book.

In the evening we went to see "Bands on the Run", performed by the Jean Ann Ryan Dancers (JARS). It's a musical romp through the 70's, featuring snazzy dancing and wild costumes.

And that's a full day of freestyle.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day 8...

Today was the first day that we didn't have anything to do. Every other day we've been on this ship we've had rehearsals or meetings we needed to attend.


Today....nothing.



It was a long day....of nothing.



I worked out for 45 minutes early this morning. I turned to leave to go back to my room and realized I had nothing else to do, so I went back into the gym and worked out fo another 45 minutes.



The gym on this ship is great. There are 2 personal trainers at our disposal. They're very cool. One of them was on the Serbian Olympic Judo team.



After lunch I sat on one of the sun decks and cracked open one of the 10 books I brought with me. 4 of them are very thick books that I've been given as Christmas and Birthday gifts that I hadn't gotten around to reading. I knew I was going to have tons of time on the boat so I packed them all up and brought them with me.



2 of the books were given to me by Drew Korb.



I'm very excited to read all these books, but now I'm worried I'm going to have them all read before the end of my first month here.



I'm telling you, I've got a lot of free time on my hands.



This first book that I'm reading is "The Informant". I'm particularly interested in this book because it's set in Decatur, Illinois where my parents currently live.



From 1994 to 1997 (the three years before I moved to Chicago) I lived in Decatur and worked as a morning radio host on WSOY radio. During those years there was a wild scandel in town involving ADM and the FBI. The station I worked at was a talk radio station so we discussed the scandel daily.


This book, "The Informant" is all about that scandel. It's riveting. I burned through the first 100 pages in 3 hours.



Currently, Matt Damon is in Decatur filming the film version of the book. Don't wait for the movie. Pick up the book and read it. The details and events involving the scandel are so unbelievable that you would toss the book aside if it were a piece of fiction. However, it's all true. And we all know, truth is usually crazier than anything we make up.



Second City updated it's website and we're now listed there. Take a look.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

NYC...



Each Sunday our ship docks at 50th Street and 12th avenue.

We’re just a few blocks away from Times Square so Jeannie and I got off the boat and walked over.
We wandered around a bit and Jeannie bought a few music books. It began to rain after awhile so we stepped into a movie theater and bought tickets for the “Get Smart” movie.

When my sister Jenny and I were young, we used to watch “Get Smart” everyday. It was after “F-Troop” and before “The Beverly Hillbillies”. It was my favorite show. Don Adams was great as the original Maxwell Smart. I thought he was the coolest funniest person on TV.

When I found out Steve Carell was now playing the role, I got very excited. When I found out Anne Hathaway was playing Agent 99 I was even more excited. As far as young actresses go, I think she’s as good as it gets right now. She’s great.

After the movie we rushed over to CVS and picked up a few necessities. Things like hand soap, bottled water, shaving lotion, stuff like that. All our dry cleaning is done for free and it doesn’t cost to do our normal laundry, but we needed some detergent. (We could actually have our laundry done by the laundry staff for free, but that seems a little excessive. The machines are just down the hall so we can walk down there on our own and do it.)

We also needed a clock. There’s no clock in our room so we’ve been using our phones to tell the time. I can’t tell you how annoying that has been.

Of all the things we bought, the clock is the best purchase we made.

We got back to the boat at 2:45. 75 minutes later the ship pushed off and we’re back at sea. 3 days away from Bermuda.

I can't rap....

On Friday, we did not get to visit Bermuda. It rained all day. However, after I had blogged on Thursday night, we all stepped off the boat and walked a few blocks down the road to a place called Hammerheads at Snorkel Park. It was a definite unique Bermuda experience. We were in a large, elevated, open air pavilion on the beach. Jeannie and I are not drinkers so we stuck around for a little while with our castmates and new friends, but left after an hour.Friday night we had a great dinner with the cast in the Japanese steak house on the ship. It was great.

After that, we had our first scriptless show in Spinnaker Lounge on the boat. We were a little tentative and didn’t make the best choice in choosing some of our games and the show wasn’t as strong as we would have liked. It was a good show and the audience liked it, but it wasn’t at all up to our potential.

Saturday we spent all day rehearsing as we had our final show of the week scheduled for Saturday evening. Matt Hovde ran us through the ringer. He worked us hard for three straight hours.

He even made us create a new game for our opening. It was a “Rapping Game”.

Now, let me tell you, I cannot rap. There are two reasons for that. I have no rhythm and cannot rhyme. At all!

My coordination and rhythm is so bad I cannot play “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band”. I’m not kidding. I’ve got rhythm and rhyming issues.

The rehearsal paid off. The Saturday night show was awesome. I even managed to complete all my rhymes.

Tomorrow morning we’re in New York City and start all over again. The current passengers will disembark and we’ll get a ship full of new ones. It’ll be our first week on our own as Nate, our producer and Matt, our director are moving on to work on other ships.
It’ll be nice to be back in America, even if it’s only for 8 hours.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's the day of the show ya'll...

Here's what Bermuda looks like from the ship.

Looks pretty cool. To us, it's like the Forbidden Gardens.

So yesterday and today were full, full, full of rehearsals. I'm not a big nap person, but during our breaks the past couple of days I crashed hard and took naps.

Here's the theater we're performing in. It seats 1,500 people!

This morning our tech rehearsals and dress rehearsals began at 10:00am. By 3:00pm, we had the show down solid.

We took a break and came back at 7:00pm for a final run through....

...it blew. It was awful. We screwed up our entrances and exits and all the cues were off. Yikes.

It was scary. For the past two days we had done an awesome job of putting everything together and it all seemed to fall apart in the final run through. Our director Matt Hovde gave us some stern words along with some uplifting, encouraging direction and we retired to our rooms to change into our performance clothes.

As I changed I remembered all the awful dress rehearsal shows I've done in my career. For some reason, it always seems like the final run through in most of my shows have been dreadful. I remember doing Noises Off in college and one of the actors knocked down one of the walls of the set.

Remembering the terrible run throughs relaxed me quite a bit. If I had my druthers, the dress rehearsals would be slick and great, but I knew it wasn't going to be indicative of the show. This is a very talented cast and we all knew the material backwards and forwards. The transitions were a little new to us, but there was no doubt we would nail it.

And we did. The show went off almost flawlessly.

The 1,500 seat theater was packed to the rafters and the audience laughed and cheered throughout.

Tomorrow, we finally get to relax. We may even get off the boat and see if this Bermuda place is real or if it's just a mirage.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bermuda...

We're in Bermuda!

It looks great.

I'm saying it "looks" great because all I can do is see it right now. We're not going to be able to get off the ship the next couple of days because we have to rehearse for our show.

Our first show is Thursday night.

We've been rehearsing all week, but we kick it up the next few days as we go into dress rehearsal mode.

I feel like I'm back in college. While the rest of the student body is out at the football game (Bermuda), I'm in a theater rehearsing for a show.

That comparison only works if you imagine that the student body is all over 60 years old.

I'm exaggerating a bit. Not everyone on this cruise is over 70, it just feels like it some times. It's more likely that 35% of the people are over 60. 40% of the passengers are families. Another 15% of the people are couples and about 4% are groups of single people. 1% are miscellaneous.

Now that I think about it, there are a lot of similarities with this cruise boat and college. My room is a tad bit bigger than my freshman dorm room. The Garden Cafe (the main dining room) is strikingly similar to the dining hall from my college. And, it seems like the libraries in both places are always empty.

Monday, June 16, 2008

On the boat...

We arrived at the airport at 5am Sunday morning.

Both of my bags were overweight. The nice United Airlines attendant give me some wise advice and I managed to get one of my bags down to regulation weight. (Side note: All the airlines have implemented new rules regarding checked baggage. It's ridiculous and preposterous!!! It used to be that you were allowed to checked bags. Now, you are only allowed one. There's a $25 charge for the second bag. If your bag is over 5o pounds, you are charged $100!!!)

We boarded our flight and arrived in NYC on time without any trouble.

We arrived at our ship and my mouth dropped. This thing is fickin' huge.

We're "new hires" so it's a lengthy and complicated process to getting on the boat. After 2 hours of being shuffled around from place to place we finally were issued room keys and rooms. Here's where things get tricky.

Jeannie and I were supposed to be in a "couple's room". However, there was some confusion as to which rooms were the couple's room. I had heard that those rooms were upstairs in the passenger area of the boat. Others in our cast were certain those rooms were in the crew quarters.

Since it was the first time I'd ever been on a cruise ship I acquiesced to whatever everyone else believed. Jeannie and I moved into the crew quarters and it absolutely, most definitely wasn't a "couple's room".

There are 2 huge differences between passenger rooms and crew rooms. Essentially, passenger rooms are well decorated, flashy, vacation rooms. Crew rooms are modestly adorned, simple, living quarters.

In our minds, Jeannie and I thought we were going to be in the fancy vacation rooms. It was a little bit of a shock. The crew rooms are nice...they just aren't the fancy rooms Brett Lyons had told us that couples stayed in.

However, there are some huge advantages to being in the crew quarters. The rooms are bigger than the passenger rooms. The TV is bigger. More closet space. More shelves and dressers. There's a full size desk. More channels on the TV. We have a little book shelf. The TV is bigger (Did I write that twice?) There's a porthole. The internet is faster. We don't have to listen to any of the intercom messages that seem to blare every 15 minutes. We're away from all the passenger craziness. The TV is bigger.

So, the crew quarters are where we'll stay.

We met the rest of our cast for lunch and had our first taste (literally) of cruise buffet food. If you were going to compare it to any Las Vegas Casino buffet, I'd say it's equivalent to what you'd find at the Luxor or Monte Carlo.

After lunch Jeannie and I walked around and explored the ship. It's pretty cool. The gym area is great. The spa looks amazing. The pool area is a little smaller than I expected, but there are 4 Jacuzzis and a private crew pool that we'll most likely use. The main pool seems to always be packed.

We went back to our rooms to get a little rest and discovered that our magnetic name tags had erased the magnetic strip on our room cards. Unfortunately, the area where we should go to get our keys replaced was closed until Monday. To get into our room we were going to have to call security each time to let us in.

You can imagine how happy that made the security people!

After finally getting back into our room it was time to meet up with our cast, director and producer. We met for awhile as Nate, our producer, filled us in on everything we needed to get acclimated for the next few days.

After that we went to the front of the ship so we could fully experience our departure from NYC. It was really exciting. Every time I go to New York I try to go to see the Statue of Liberty, but I've never been able to see it. Well, we saw it.

Boy, did we ever.
I can't believe how close we were to it. It was sooo cool.
After that we had dinner and ventured over to the theater to see the "Welcome Show". The Welcome Show gave everyone a taste of the entertainment on the show along with a full set from the comedian.

After the show we made our way back to the room and patiently waited 45 minutes for someone from security to let us in our room. We unpacked our clothes and laid down to sleep. In the past 36 hours, we'd only had 3 hours of sleep.

It had been a looooong day full of excitement, bewilderment, aggravation, frustration, laughter, amazement and amusement.

I was completely and totally exhausted.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rosemont...

I turned in the keys to the apartment so I'm officially transient.

We don't get on the boat until Sunday so I booked a hotel next to O'hare for Saturday night.

If you're looking for a nice place to stay before you go to the airport or if you're looking for a little getaway, jump onto Priceline, type in Hotel...Chicago, O'Hare...4 stars...$35....

...and you'll be able to stay at the Hyatt O'hare. It's a very nice hotel.

It's also right next to Muvico Theater. It's a super-nice theater that offers VIP seating.

VIP's get to eat regular food (I had chicken fingers, Jeannie had ravioli!) and sit in over-sized love seats in the balcony. If you enjoy alcoholic libations, drinks are served in the theater as well.

In an attempt to relax after a very long and stressful three weeks, Jeannie and I bought VIP tickets and watched the Sex in the City Movie.

I was one of only 3 men in the theater. I was very surprised that they killed off the Samantha character and that "Big" was left paralyzed.

Tomorrow at 5:00am we head to the airport.

By 10:00am we should be in NYC. By noon, we should be in our new home.

How crazy is my life!?!

Friday, June 13, 2008

2 days left...

Rehearsals kicked off with our director Matt Hovde on Thursday. We worked with him for 6 hours. On Friday we worked with him again for 8 hours. He's great. We've learned lots from him. He's fantastic.

Tim Paul and James Mastroianni are two of our other castmates.

Friday night we finished packing and cleaning up the apartment. In the end, the only thing left was my birthday baloon. Yep, it's still floating two and a half months after my birthday!
It only seemed right that we let the balloon continue to fly so we set it free. It floated off into the sky. Let me know if you see it.

Saturday is another full day of rehearsals. I'm a little tired.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Moving...

Moving was awful.

So completely awful.

Our sketchy movers arrived at 3:30. They promptly told us that they hadn't brought any packing or protective materials for my TV's, couch, bed, table or desk.

After that it got worse.

One mover smelled so badly of BO that Jeannie kept having to excuse herself so she could go in the other room and gag. It was pretty bad. It took several hours to air out the apartment after he left.

The storage unit I rented closed at 6:00.

The movers finished packing everything up at 5:10. I walked out of my building and headed over to the self storage place. As soon as I walked out of the door there was a roar of cheering from Wrigley Field.

To my complete dismay the Cubs game ended right at 5:11. Within seconds, the streets and sidewalks were full of drunk, happy Cubs fans.

The self storage unit was five blocks from my house. Due to the Cubs traffic, they didn't arrive there until 5;55.

To no ones surprise, both places charged me hefty fees for going past 6:00pm.

Worst move ever.

Moving...again...

Bushed.

Absolutely and completely bushed.

By bushed, I mean, tired.

Yesterday we had our first cast meeting and improv rehearsal. It was very informative and fun.

Today we have our first scripted rehearsal with our director Matt Hovde.

At 3:30 we move all or our stuff out of my apartment and into storage.
I'm not looking forward to that!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cubs...

I've been sub-coaching The Rabble for the past couple of weeks. They're a very fun team and I've really enjoyed spending time with them. They're very smart and playful, which I love. They've also got the strongest collection of female improvisors I've ever seen on one single team. They're really impressive.

They had a show last night and aside from the piano being played way, WAY, WAY too loud, they had a fun show.


After the show I stuck around and talked to several people who were lingering around the upstairs bar. I saw my good friend KPR who is in town for the Chicago Improv Theater and spent some time talking to him.



After that I talked to Teresa Spizzarri. At jury duty this past Monday, when I mentioned to the States Attorney that I did improv at IO, he said, "Oh, do you know Teresa Spizzarri?"


99 times out of 100 times when people ask me if I know some random person, I have no idea who they're talking about. Amazingly, I knew Teresa very well. So, she and I talked about that for a little bit as she tried to figure out who in the heck at 26th and California knows her.


After that, I talked to Bill Cochran from Cook County Social Club.





CCSC is one of my all time favorite improv teams. They're great. They even have a Wiki page!

Bill and I have a common interest. We both are Cubs fans. As soon as I saw Bill, he asked me the question that everyone has been asking me. He said, "What are you going to do if the Cubs go to the World Series and you're in Bermuda?"

It's the question that has been haunting me for the past two weeks.
Let me give you a little bit of history about myself and the Cubs. I have been watching the Cubs since 1982 (For those keeping score, that is in fact the year that my girlfriend was born. So, yes. I've been a Cub fan longer than my girlfriend has been alive).
Since 1982, I can safely say that I have watched or listened to 85% of the games that the Cubs have played during that time. Even during those awful losing years, I still watch all the games.

This year, in fact, I've seen or listened to every game. If I can't see it live, I TIVO the game and watch it when I get home. Going on the Cruise Boats for Second City means that I'm going to miss the last 96 games of the season!

(Sigh)

It makes me pretty sad. I love baseball and I love the Cubs. Someone asked me the other day who would I miss more, my family, my friends, or the Cubs. I didn't answer because I knew I would hurt a lot of feelings.
While we were in Wisconsin a month ago I told my friend Mike that I'd had a dream that God had appeared before me and had said, "The only way the Cubs will win the World Series is if you cease watching them. They'll win the championship that you so badly want, but you will not be able to enjoy watching it. Will you make that sacrifice?"
We laughed at how dumb it was that I was having a dream about the Cubs. But now, it appears the prophecy may be coming true.

Do I control the fate of the Cubs?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Scripts

Jeannie's in San Antonio visiting her parents for the final time before we get on the ship.

This afternoon I picked up our scripts and DVD's. For each script that we do there's an accompanying DVD of the original performance of the sketch. It's very helpful as it gives you a reference point to how the scene works.

We're 10 days away from getting on the boats.

Here's where we're going.
Our first excursion is to Bermuda. We do that from June 15th to August 30th.
From August 31st to September 27th we're doing a North Eastern/Canada excursion.
You'll notice that we have a stop over in Bar Harbor. I can't wait for that. Very excited to visit our friends from ImprovAcadia, do some hiking and eat some fresh Maine Lobster.

From September 28th to October 14th we're back to Bermuda.

On October 15th we're done.

After that, who knows!