Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Church Bay...

We went to Church Bay and did some serious snorkeling.

Here is the Church…Here is the Bay…The water was very calm today so we saw some amazing fish.The area we were in was one of the points of the Bermuda Triangle. There’s a British Canon submerged in the water, but I couldn’t find it. There’s also a Barracuda that lives there, but I couldn’t find it either. I swam all over the bay looking for the Barracuda and canon and saw coral reefs and exotic fish that I’ve only seen on National Geographic specials. It was amazing.

This evening we got a pizza and came back to the ship to watch the Cubs/Brewers game.

It was a very boring game and I couldn’t be happier. I’d love it if every game for the rest of the year was just as boring. The Cubs can blow out every team and I’ll yawn a very, very happy man.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gym madness...

I was in the gym working out a few minutes ago and a shower of rain just rolled over and drenched the boat. The interesting thing is that the gym looks out over one of the pools and when the raindrops began falling everyone squealed and jumped out of the pool. They all ran for cover and grabbed their towels and held them over their heads.


That doesn’t exactly make sense to me. You’re already wet, how does a brief rain shower hurt?


When the rain ended everyone cheered and jumped back into the pool.


We see a lot of strange things on this ship. A lot of them seem to happen in the gym.


I’ve seen people lifting weights while barefoot.


Running on the treadmill in flip-flops.


People fully dressed on nautilus machines. By fully dressed I mean dress shoes, sacks, oxford shirt.


Parents working out with their 6 year old children. Not just stretching but doing full workouts on the treadmill, weight machines and dumbbells.


There was even a woman running on the treadmill barefoot. The fitness instructors informed her that she had to be using shoes on the treadmill and she went back to her room and came back and got on the treadmill wearing her husbands size 13 shoes.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New couch...

Many years ago I read an article about sleep studies and insomnia. In the article it warned that beds should only be used for sleeping. You should not read, watch TV, eat or do anything in your bed other than sleep.

At the time, I was not sleeping well and this advice really helped me. Since then, I have been very dedicated to keeping my bed as a sanctuary of sleep.

However, on this ship, that has not been possible. I have a desk chair, but it's not terribly comfortable. I use it when I'm working on the computer, but I don't want to sit in it to read or watch TV.

The bed is really the only place I have to sit and do anything.

And, because of that, I've had some huge issues with sleeping. 2 or 3 times a week I lay in bed until 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning until I finally drift off to sleep.

However, I have been saved. April, one of my neighbors here on the boat, generously offered to move her couch into my room. She wanted more space in her room and knew that I really wanted a couch.

We moved it in and it cuts down a little bit of the space in the room, but it has improved life greatly. It's sooooooo nice to have a comfortable place to sit.

Tim visited our room last night and happily modeled our newest piece of furniture. It's nothing like the big, huge couch I had in Chicago, but it makes the room seem more homely. Jeannie and I fit on it nicely.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bryant Park...

I'm in Bryant Park using the free internet that is supplied to New Yorkers through the City Parks. If you're visiting New York and you need free internet, plant yourself in the nearest park you can find.

The primary reason I'm here is because I have somehow become the supplier of "Project Runway" episodes on the ship. I downloaded the first one and put it on DVD for Katie to watch and now that DVD has circulated to crew members everywhere. The past few days I've gotten several requests from people asking when I'd have the second episode available. I feel like I'm running a black market here.

***

I am the "Spotlight of the Week" on Second City's BoatCo page.

***

I don't want to talk about the Cubs! I don't want to talk about them at all!

....Actually, I do.

I've only been able to see a handful of the Cubs games since I've been on the ship, but I've still been able to follow every step they've made in the past 6 weeks.

I think I'm actually following them closer now than I did before I got on the boat. Which is kind of scary because I've always been pretty obsessed with them.

The Cubs are playing awful right now and they have got to freakin' snap out of it. The offense has been terrible and the bullpen has been dreadful. It's all very frustrating because those were the two sections of the team that were supposed to be "slump proof". The starting pitching, which looked so weak, is actually keeping the team afloat.

Okay, enough ranting about the Cubs.

In the end the Cubs will have the best record in the National League and will win the division. The Brewers will falter because it's a team of head cases. They'll crash and burn and it'll be the Cardinals who will win the Wild Card.

***

It's time for me to leave Bryant Park. Project Runway has completed downloading and I have errands to run.

...also, a homeless man just stripped off his clothes and is taking a bath in the fountain.

Well, not all of his clothes. He's still wearing underwear, socks and shoes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Show day...

After our ferry screw-up we decided to stay on the ship Thursday. It was also a “show day” and we usually stay pretty close to the boat so we’re well rested and sharp for our 9:00 show.

The show was fantastic. Afterward we went up the Starbar to listen to our friend Andrew play some jazz guitar.Here are our castmates Katie, Dunbar and James.After that we made our way up the helipad for the crew party. The theme was a Hawaiian Luau. The party was a little boring, but it was exciting to us as it was Tony, our musical director’s birthday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Purple Line Express...

I got on the train thinking it was the Brown Line, but it turns out it was actually the Purple Line. I was stuck on that damn train all the way up to Evanston!


If you’re from the Northside of Chicago, you have probably experienced the Brown Line/Purple Line screw up at least once in your life. With the construction going on at the Belmont train station you may have even gotten on the Purple Line thinking you were getting on the Red Line.

Once I was very, very sick and had to leave work early. I got off on
Belmont and waited forever for the Brown Line to come. Eventually the train pulled up and I got on. As soon as the doors closed I knew I was on the wrong train. I was so sick and so mad, but there wasn't anything I could do.


30 minutes later I finally arrived at the Howard stop and walked across the platform and took the Purple Line all the way back to Belmont. I crossed over the platform and got on the next train North…which happened to be the frickin’ Purple Line again.


I finally got home at 6:30. An hour later than I normally would have gotten home.


Tonight, Jeannie and I experienced the Bermuda equivalent of the Brown Line/Purple Line screw up.

To get from the ship Dockyard to Hamilton (the city center of Bermuda) you have to take a bus or a ferry. We usually take the ferry because it’s much quicker and it makes Jeannie less nauseous than the bus. Also, the bus only runs until 6pm and is much more dependable. The ferry leaves every hour on the hour so we always know when it’s coming and going.


The last ferry of the evening usually leaves at 11:00pm so we usually try to make the 10:00pm one just to be safe.


The problem is that the 10:00pm ferry is always the busiest one. A few weeks ago we actually watched two mothers get into a pretty nasty shoving match on the 10:00pm ferry. They were arguing over which of their bratty children was more deserving of seats by the window. The two had to be separated from each other by other passengers because their husbands were too busy swearing and cussing at each other (Have a happy vacation in Bermuda!).


The 10:00pm ferry to the Dockyard was too full so the 10:00pm ferry to St. George (a province on the other side of the island) offered to transport the remaining Dockyard passengers to the Dockyard before heading over to St. George.


Jeannie and I boarded and sat on the upper deck to get some air.


Unfortunately, when the ferry got to the Dockyard they did not make an announcement to disembark. Jeannie and I sat in our seats waiting for the announcement and it never came. We were also trying to be courteous and let the other passengers around us get off the boat before us, but none of them ever got up.


Instead, the boat pulled away from the dock and headed to St. George.


This was a problem for soooooooo many reasons!

  • St. George was 45 minutes away from the dockyard by ferry.
  • It was the last boat to St. George. Once it arrived in St. George it was supposed to dock for the night.
  • A cab ride from St. George to the Dockyard would take 90 minutes.
  • That cab ride would cost $100.
  • All I had in my wallet was 2 dollars.
  • Jeannie had $20, but it was a Canadian 20 dollar bill.
  • The nearest ATM was going to be a mile away.
  • We really had no idea where the ATM was. We have not been to St. George yet so we had no idea where ANYTHING was. 12:30 at night seemed like a bad time to go exploring.


We were very panicked.

Well…we were panicked and angry.


We weren’t angry at anyone in particular. We were just angry. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. The ferry employees didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t think we even did anything wrong. We just made a small little mistake.


A mistake that put us in a very difficult situation. We didn’t know what we were going to do. There was no Purple Line headed back to Belmont.


To our amazement, 2 women behind us went to the ferry employees and explained what happened. The ferry employees graciously offered to take an extra trip back to the dockyard just for us.


I can’t explain to you the feeling of relief that surged through my body. We were going to get back to the ship 2 hours later than we were supposed to, but at least we were going to get back. I don’t know what we would have done if we had been stranded there in St. George.


The island is very safe and we would have been fine. It just would have been a very sticky situation trying to get back to the boat on our own.


***


Now, why did I only have 2 dollars in my pocket? Well, part of the reason is this:

Before we got on the ferry we stopped at a Bermuda grocery store to pick up some cereal and supplies. As I was checking out I saw the Newsweek with Barack Obama and picked it up and put it in my stack of items.


I, however, neglected to look at the price tag when I grabbed the magazine. I expected it to be a little more expensive than it is in the United States, but I didn’t expect it to be…

$9.15!!!!


$9.15? I don’t even want to try and guess what a GQ or Esquire would be. I imagine all these poor Bermuda girls are using their whole weeks salaries to buy a Vogue or Cosmopolitan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back in Bermuda...

The hurricane that hit the coast of North and South Carolina twisted North in the Atlantic and gave us some very rocky water on our way from New York to Bermuda. Monday was pretty bad. Jeannie didn't leave the room all day. There were barf bags everywhere and people were making good use of them.

I ran 3 miles on the treadmill Monday and it must have looked like I was drunk. I was wobbling everywhere.

To get past the storm our captain increased our speed. We barreled through the water and by Tuesday morning the water was calm and the weather was beautiful.

Because we had gone so fast, we actually arrived in Bermuda on Tuesday afternoon. However, our ship isn't allowed to dock until Wednesday morning. So, we coasted at 5 knots until early this morning.

Today we're in Bermuda and the weather is great.

Tomorrow we do our show. After having a week off it'll be nice to be back on stage again.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rhode Island & New York...

We visited Newport yesterday. I would have to say my first trip to the beautiful state of Rhode Island was similar to any trip I've made to Schaumburg.

It looks nice. I'm sure it's very nice. However, I didn't have time to see any of it. I had to get a hair cut and go to the mall.

We'll be back in September and I'll be able to see all of it then.

And...

...it's definitely nicer than Schaumburg.

***
On Sunday, Jeannie and I got up early and went to see "Dark Knight" in New York.

I thought there some irony in watching a movie about Gotham City while I was in Gotham City. The irony is that the city I normally would be watching the movie in was in fact the fictional location for Gotham City.

The movie was great. Heath Ledger was awesome and the script was amazing.

And, Chicago was great in the movie. It felt like the city was the 3rd co-star in the film.

Apparently, there were several improvisors in the movie. However, I didn't see any of them. I did though, hear an improvisor. During the first court room scene I very clearly heard improv superstar John Abbott's voice tell everyone to please rise for the honorable judge blah-blah-blah.

After the movie, we got Chipotle and ran back to the ship.

We're off again to Bermuda.

Goodbye America, see you seven days.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Provincetown...

Provincetown, Massachusetts is a small town located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod.

In 1620, the Pilgrims signed the Mayflower Compact when they arrived at the harbor. They agreed to settle and build a self-governing community, and then came ashore in the West End. The Pilgrims stayed here for 5 weeks before sailed on and settled across the bay in Plymouth.

Since Provincetown was the first place the Pilgrims landed, the Pilgrim monument is here. Completed in 1910 it stands in the middle of town, high above everything else.

Jeannie and I walked to the monument and decided to go in. We didn't realize that it was 252 feet tall. It took us 20 minutes to climb to the top. This is what it looked like when we got up there. Once we were at the top we got a great view of the Cape Cod area. Jeannie was a little scared, but smiled long enough to take this picture.

When we got to the bottom we sat in the shadow of the monument and I actually spent some time reflecting on the importance and magnitude of this little harbor town.
So, as you can see, Provincetown is a very historic place.

It's also known as the "Gay Capital of the United States". Which is why we're here during the Rosie tour.

For those of you who are not gay, it's also a "hetero-friendly" place full of great restaurants and gift stores.
We stopped at the Governor Bradford Restaurant where I had a lobster roll and Jeannie enjoyed a full 1 1/4 pound lobster. Next, we're planning on getting some ice cream at one of the hundreds of ice cream parlors here.

It's 91 degrees here right now so we're hiding out here at the restaurant and using their free internet. They don't seem to mind. A very nice Hungarian waitress keeps bringing me free refills on my Diet Pepsi. Which is very nice because we've now been here for 3 hours.

It's also nice because soda's are hard to get on the boat. I don't know if I've said this before, but soda is not free on the ship. For those of you who know me well, that has been something I've had trouble adapting to. I'm big Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Pepsi drinker. It's been tough not having it around whenever I've wanted it.

In the crew area I can be a 16 oz bottle of Diet Coke for $1.00 which is cheaper than on the mainland. But, that area is only open at certain times and I kind of don't like Diet Coke.

Don't worry. I'll push through.

Side note #1: There are tons of Broadway stars on the ship for the Rosie tour. The only one that I know is the original Mimi from Rent. I think she's pretty cool. The rest of them I don't really care about, but everyone else seems to fawn all over them.

Side note #2: Brett Lyons has started a blog. The over/under is that he'll post 2 times a month for 3 months before giving up on it. You should all visit it everyday and send him e-mails when he doesn't post anything.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bar Harbor!!!...

I can’t explain how nice it was to be in Bar Harbor. It was great because it’s a great little town, but it was amazing because it was someplace familiar.

In the past few years Jeannie and I have spent a significant amount of time in Bar Harbor so it almost felt like we were going back to a “second home” of sorts. It was also great because we got to see our good friends from ImprovAcadia Jen and Larrance.

We got to sit down with them in a nice, quiet, secluded restaurant and talk about all sorts of things boat-related and un-boat-related. It felt like we were part of the regular world again.

We also saw Leah Gotcsik and John Karpinos. Jeannie was especially excited to John as he’s a member of her IO team Mrs. Dad. Somehow, we didn’t get a photo of either of them.

However, Leah told us the craziest story. I hope she’s okay with me passing along this story, but it kind of involves me so I feel like I have to share it.

Late Wednesday night as she was driving from the ImprovAcadia Theater back to Jen and Larrance’s home she was stopped by the police. She wasn’t sure why she was pulled over, but she said she was laughing and talking to the other people in the car so she may have been speeding a bit and didn’t realize it.

The cop walked up to the car and asked where was she coming from and where was she headed. Leah said that she was a performer at ImprovAcadia and was headed back to Ellsworth where all the actors stayed.

He took her license and went back to his squad car. A few minutes later he returned and said that he noticed that she was from Chicago and wondered if she had any videos on YouTube.

Leah thought it was a strange question, but she responded that she did indeed have a few videos on YouTube.

“Is that your video on YouTube where you drive all the way from Chicago to Bar Harbor in a car with 2 other guys?” he asked. “I watch that video all the time and show it to all my friends.”

She said that it wasn’t her and she hadn’t seen it.

“You gotta see it,” he told her. “It’s so funny because there’s a girl in it who looks like you and she gets into a fight outside a Chinese restaurant with this little chubby guy.”

Leah said she would definitely look for the video and the cop let her go without a ticket.

MY VIDEO GOT HER OUT OF A TRAFFIC TICKET!!!!

Take heed of this story and pass my YouTube videos around to everyone you know.

They may just save your life.


Or, at least get you out of a speeding ticket.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Halifax, Nova Scotia...

Jeannie’s Birthday was today.

Her birthday is her favorite day of the year. She loves it so much that she usually stretches her birthday celebration out to a full week.

Last night we decorated the room with streamers and balloons and hung up “Happy Birthday” signs.

This morning I woke up early and made reservations for us to eat at the French restaurant on the ship. It’s usually tough to get into that place, but I got in early enough to get reservations for all six of us in the cast.

Around 11:00, we finally got off the boat and ventured out into Halifax, Nova Scotia. Let me tell ya, I love this place.

Halifax is everything you imagine a Coastal Canadian place to be.

So cool. So nice. So charming.

Once again, we stumbled across a very cool church. This little adventure of ours has somehow become a tour of churches across the world. After a nice long visit in Halifax we returned to the ship and had a nice birthday dinner with the rest of the cast. Katie provided Jeannie with a nice surprise. At our last stop in New York Katie had gone to the world famous Magnolia Bakery and bought Jeannie red velvet cupcakes for her birthday. It was awesome.

The highlight of the night was when we walked up to the Crew Store to buy a couple of diet cokes we ran into Toni, one of the personal trainers on the boat. He’s a former Serbian Judo Olympian. He sang Happy Birthday to her in Serbian.

It was a nice day and I think she had a pretty good birthday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

St. John, Canada...

You may be asking yourself why in the the world is the cruise boat going to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Well, we went there this afternoon and I have to say I'm asking myself the same question.

It's a quaint little town. Full of old buildings... ...and historic looking streets. There were some Gothic looking churches... ...and city markets... ...., but that was about it.

It was....quaint. I know I've already used that word to describe it, but it's the same word everyone on the ship is using to describe it. Quaint.

I've yet to hear anyone describe it as...nice...interesting...fun...or even worthwhile.

The best thing we saw was that the person dressed as a lobster greeting us as we got off the boat had taken off her lobster head and was resting on a curb.

Monday, July 14, 2008

R Family...

After 4 long weeks of work we have been given a vacation.

...well, kind of...

Rosie O'Donnell and her R Family Vacations has overtaken the ship. She brings along her own entertainers so we will not be doing any shows or workshops this week.

So, we have a week off from working.

One of the great things about it is that with Rosie coming on board we've also changed the itinerary. We are not going to Bermuda this week. We're going to Saint John (New Brunswick), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Bar Harbor (Maine), Provincetown (8am - 10pm), and Newport (Rhode Island).

We're very, very excited about the new ports. Bermuda has been great, but it's very nice to go someplace different. It's especially cool because we're going to four places I've never visited before and to one of my absolute favorite places in the country, Bar Harbor.

It should be an interesting week.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gordon Ramsay's Restaurant...

Jeannie's Birthday is on Wednesday.

We had her birthday dinner a little early and went to Maze, which is Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in New York. You may remember that Jeannie is a little obsessed with the British chef. She's even read his biography and stood in line for an hour to get his autograph.

The whole Gordon Ramsay thing is my fault. I watched his show Kitchen Nightmare's on BBC America and loved it. I started TIVO'ing the show and Jeannie became addicted.

It's actually really opened our eyes to good food and good restaurants. After watching the show we've really become a little more particular about what and where we eat.

The food at Maze was really, really good.

Jeannie had:
  • Smoked rainbow trout, avocado, sauce mousseline and fennel crisps
  • Carnaroli risotto of Maine lobster, English peas and preserved Meyer lemon
  • Milk chocolate and coffee pot de crème with Kahlúa ice cream

I had:

  • Pressed terrine of Hudson Valley foie gras, green bean salad and toasted brioche
  • Pan fried branzino, tomato and olive fondue, baby artichokes and anchovy butter
  • Valrhona chocolate fondant, green cardamom caramel, sea salt and almond ice cream

It was all fantastic.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back to school...

There are about 600 crew members from over 60 countries working on this ship. A vast majority of them do not leave the boat when we're at port. They stay on and work 6 to 7 days a week.

Because of that the "Crew Welfare" department of the ship does a lot to entertain and reward all of those hard working people.

On Wednesday, Jeannie and Katie helped host Crew Bingo night.

As you may know, I love Bingo. I played, but did not win anything.

On Thursday night "Crew Welfare" threw there weekly Crew Party. This week the theme was "Back to School".

Tim and Katie came down and showed us their costumes. Jeannie and I had no plans at all to go to the party, but once Jeannie saw everyone dressing up in costumes she had to go.

She rifled through her closet and I helped her pick out an outfit that looked somewhat like she was ready to go to her first day of school.The party was lots of fun. So many people dressed up. I'm not exactly sure how Tim's costume fit the "Back to School" theme.Unless, it was a gay stripper school.

They had a costume contest and Jeannie went down with the rest of our friends. A lot of the dancers were wearing sexy back to school costumes so when the announcer came to Jeannie and asked her what her name was, Jeannie said, "My name is Prissy and I am not sexy because I am only 5 years old and it's my first day at school."

It got a huge laugh. Then Jeannie walked down the catwalk with her head down, holding her backpack, forcing a smile on her face as she hesitantly waved to people.

As she walked the Filipino announcer said into the microphone, "Oh look, she's so shy. Such a shy little girl on her first day of school."

Everyone laughed.

To my and Jeannie's surprise, she won!

She won the first prize for a female costume.

Here is Jeannie with the male costume winner.We loved his costume.

It was a pretty fun night.