Monday, September 29, 2008

The Atlantic Sea...

We're back on the Atlantic on our way to Bermuda. It'll be nice to see the pink beaches and turquoise water.

This week we have been joined by my sister Melissa.

In two days we've open her eyes to things she's never experienced before. Such as...

Kosher food
Living, walking, sleeping on a boat
Racist Comedy by Dave Heenan
Showering on a boat
The Office
Sushi
Dancing
Chinese Sticky buns

By the end of the week she's going to be a whole new person.

***

Well, all of our Jean Ann Ryan friends are gone. Jeannie's especially sad. She really loved our neighbors Matt and Bodie and April.

Luckily we'll be able to see Matt and Bodie when our ship moves to Miami and we'll see April in Chicago. She moves there in a week or so.

We'll miss all the dancers a lot.

This past Friday we discovered something interesting about one of our dancer friends. Her mother reads my and Jeannie's blogs.

So, I'd like to say hi to Kaylia Morton's mom.

Kaylia is one of my favorite dancers. For the first few weeks on the boat we didn't know her name so we called her "Witchy Woman" because she did the witchy woman dance in "Bands on the Run". And, I have to say, I've never seen someone dance like her. It looks like she dislocates her hips every time she moves them. It's amazing.

Here's a photo of Kaylia and Jeannie from the "Back to School" party on the ship.
Jeannie won first prize and Kaylia won second.

***

How about those Bears!

What a crazy, screwed up team.

I can't figure them out.

***

Before you go to bed tonight, please say a prayer for the Cubs. It would help so much of the worlds problems if God would just let the Cubs win the World Series.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Boston and Newport...

Rainy, rainy, rainy.

Since Brett's flight back to Chicago was scheduled for 9:00pm out of New Hampshire, he drove down to Boston and spent the day with us.

We drove around for quite a while. Not so much because we wanted to see Boston, but because Brett tends to get lost.

We stopped and ate our favorite restaurant in Boston, The Union Oyster House. Because of the rain the place was packed so we had to eat at the Oyster Bar which actually was very cool.
As we ate we watched as the bartenders shucked oysters.
After lunch April found a tiny tea set and had a tiny tea party.
We walked back to our car and got drenched.
We were so wet that Jeannie and April took Brett's clothes out of his suitcase and wore them for the rest of the afternoon. We were in a dark corner of the parking garage so they hid behind a bunch of cars and changed their clothes. The parking attendants heard there were two pretty girls changing clothes in the far corner and they kept finding excuses to drive near us. Luckily the girls were well covered and no one saw anything. Perverts.

After that, we drove around for another couple hours as Brett got on the freeway and drove us out of town. Of course, we had no intentions of leaving Boston so we had to get out a map and find our way back to Boston.

We got back to the boat dock and said goodbye to Brett and Boston. Brett will be headed to Spain at the end of the month to begin working on the Norwegian Gem with Jen and Larrance from ImprovAcadia and with Rance and Deanna and Mike Shreeman from Chicago. They are going to have a great time.

Today I'm in Newport all by myself. This Nor'easter has settled over the top of us and is dumping lots of rain on us. We're also crossing paths with Hurricane Kyle so, as you can imagine, the weather has been lovely.
Since it's raining and since I'm by myself I stopped in and watched a movie. They have two great, old movie theaters here on the main street in Newport. They're both old opera houses.

Unfortunately, the movie wasn't so good. It was "Righteous Kill" with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Thumbs down. Not a good movie at all. Good plot, bad writing, bad execution, bad directing.

Tomorrow we set sail for Bermuda.

I'm ready for some sunshine.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Halifax and Bar Harbor...

On Tuesday we were in Halifax.


Here are some photos from our last trip to the Nova Scotia city.

Today we visited Bar Harbor for the last time this year.


Look who was at the dock waiting for us.

Brett Lyons.

His birthday was on Sunday so we gave him his birthday gifts and they made him laugh.

We got him a DVD of his favorite racist, hack comedian Dave Heenan!

Each time we stop in Bar Harbor we’re only there for a few hours and don’t have time to really visit much outside the downtown area. With Brett and his rental car there, Jeannie, April and I were able to go drive to Acadia National Park and eat at Jordon’s Pond House.

We had popovers and lobster stew. It was great.


It was nice to see Brett.

After that we went to ImprovAcadia to say hi to Jen and Larrance.


It was a very, very nice day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

St. John...

It's our last trip to St. John.

Yesterday was our last trip to Halifax.

They were both nice places, but I don't foresee myself ever visiting them again.

This week the current cast of Jean Ann Ryan Dancers are doing their final shows. A new cast has already arrived and is submersed in rehearsals. So, next week we'll see brand new dancers doing the shows.

It'll be weird.

We've become good friends with all of these dancers. We'll miss them greatly.

I told Jeannie that the boats seem to be like summer camp. We sleep in cabins and go to functions everyday. There are "get togethers" a couple times a week and most everyone has a sunburn. We spend weeks making friends with people and then after a few months we have to say goodbye to them. We promise to write and keep in touch, knowing full well that most of them we will never see again.

These cruise boats are like a floating "Meatballs" on the ocean.

***

I have been working on a writing project for 2 years.

It's a book that I began a long time ago and set aside on numerous occasions so that I could work on other projects. Once I finished working on other things I would invariably go back and put some more work on this book.

It's a good project and I like it a lot, but there were other projects that seemed to appeal to me more. Also, it was just difficult to write. The subject matter, characters and plot were much more complicated than I anticipated.

The only reason I didn't abandon it completely was because I'd already written forty thousand words (200 pages) of it.

In fact, I wrote the first 40,000 words in 3 weeks. The remaining 40,000 words took 23 months!

Conversely, Guru was completely written in 2 months.

High Rollers was completely written in 3 weeks.

This one took quite a bit longer.

I'm bringing this up because I will finally have the first draft of this project finished before I go to bed tonight. All I have left is one chapter and I'll do it while I watch the Cubs play the Mets this evening.

It feels like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

I can honestly say that I have thought about this project at least once every day for the last 2 years. Even if it never gets published, it'll never be the "unfinished piece". The story is done and the characters have a resolution.

I have completed my responsibility to them.

So now, I'll clean it up and edit it and send it off to my agent by the end of the week. Hopefully he likes it and we'll get it and High Rollers sold soon.

Keep your fingers crossed.

The other aspect to all of this is that I have finally found a writing rhythm on the ship.

I have 2 other projects that I have wanted to work on, but wouldn't allow myself to start because I needed to get this one finished first.

Nothing is insurmountable.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Salem...New York...

Well, they did it.
Hopoefully there will be 3 more celebrations like this in the next four weeks.

***

Side note...The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Theodore Roosevelt was President. The winning pitcher in yesterdays clinching game was Ted Lilly. Ted Lilly's full name is Theodore Roosevelt Lilly.

***

Here are the Salem photos.

The first place we went to was the Witches Museum.
It was okay. They had a "voice-over show" with mannequins that told the story of the Witch Trials of Salem. After that was over, they ushered us into a room and did a presentation about witches throughout history. They spent the last half hour talking about how witches of today shouldn't be persecuted. It would have made Del Close happy, but I was bored.

The coolest thing we found in Salem was that some of the crosswalks had witches on them.
Aside from that, it wasn't terribly exciting.

After wandering around looking for other landmarks we found the Witches Dungeon. It was here that they did a reenactment of part of the trial. It was very well done and the actresses were great.
However, the actress playing the role of Elizabeth Proctor was in her 60's and wasn't very believable. I'm not saying that because she was a bad actress. On the contrary, she was an outstanding actress. The problem was that Elizabeth Proctor was in her 30's and very pregnant when she stood trial.

Her pregancy was a big part of the trial so it was tough to completely believe this 60 year old woman was with child.

Side note about Elizabeth Proctor. Even though she was released from prison because of her pregancy, she was declared a "Dead Woman". She could not reclaim any of her or her husbands land or possessions because the state of Massachusetts no longer recognized her existence.

After the show at the dungeon, we went downstairs into a recreation of the dungeon where all of the people who had been accused of being witches were held. It was another mannequin presentation, but the mannequin's in the dungeon were downright terrifying.
Yikes!!

It was pretty scary down in the cold, dark dungeon.

Right before we left we stopped off and saw the other cool Salem sight. The statue of Samantha Stevens from Bewitched.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Newport...

Ugh....

They have run out of internet cards so none of us on the crew can get on the internet. New internet cards will be attained on Sunday.

The officer in charge of ordering the internet cards has the ability to temporarily fix it so that people can get their e-mails and stuff, but he "doesn't really want to do that." It would be easy to do and would only take 5 minutes to print off access numbers, but it's "only the crew....they can wait until Sunday."

...blood is boiling....so....we'll change the subject so it'll cool down....

On Friday Jeannie and I went to Salem, Massachusetts. It's home of the famous Witch Trials of 1692. Those famous trials were the inspiration for Arthur Miller's "The Crucible".

I've always wanted to go to Salem. I tried to go there last year on my way home from Bar Harbor, but took a wrong turn and ended up in Salem New Hampshire.

I have tons of photos of our trip to Salem, but Jeannie forgot to bring her camera to Newport today so I'll have to download them up and put them up later.

Salem was fun, but it was a little underwhelming. I thought they would showcase their historical events similarly to the way Boston does, but they absolutely don't. It was tough to find all the landmarks and there's not a very good guide to any of it.

I guess that makes sense though. If you were known for hanging and burning 19 innocent people, would you go out of your way to publicize it?

Today we went to a restaurant called the "Barking Crab". It was very good. We really haven't had any shellfish on our trip so we splurged and got some.

Tomorrow we begin our last week of the Canadian/East Coast trip. It'll be nice to be back in the tropical weather, but I'll miss having 5 port days. It's also been nice to spend 4 out of 7 days in the United States.

***

Cubs magic number is:Hopefully within the next couple of hours that number will be Zero.

Also, I want the Cubs to win it outright. I don't want them to clinch just because the Brewers lost.

How about those Brewers? I told you they were head cases.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bar Harbor...

We walked around Halifax yesterday and I bought 2 DVD's, "Collectors Edition of Rear Window" and the "Two-Four Anniversary Special for The McKenzie Brothers".

Rear Window is one of my favorite movies and I wanted Jeannie to watch it. They just released the Collector's Edition so I snatched it up.
The McKenzie Brothers are two characters from SCTV who are revered in Canada. Since we were in Canada, I felt it was necessary for me to buy the DVD.
Last night we played "Celebrity" and it was a disaster!

It's normally a fun, competitive game, but last night it went to a whole new level. It was all competition and no fun. There was a lot of fighting, a lot of poor sportsmanship and a lot of hurt feelings. Also, Tim Paul tossed a blow up ball at a table full of drinks and the glasses fell to the ground and shattered.

So...for now, "Celebrity" is dead.

So, so, sad.

***

Cubs Magic number is:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

NYC...

Jeannie met up with her friend Laura this afternoon.
Laura is the Business Director for Cynthia Rowley. Interestingly enough, Cynthia Rowley will be a guest judge on Project Runway. Sooooooo, we know someone, who knows someone who will be on Project Runway!

How cool are we.

Jeannie and Laura went to have a “girls lunch” and I went to ESPN Zone to try to watch the Bears game.

Since I was alone I was seated in the special “Lounge Chair” section.
It was a nice way to watch the game. They had 14 screens so every game was up on the big wall.
I went to the restroom and they even had a TV over the urinal.I had to leave at 2:15 so I could get back on the ship. When I left, the Bears where leading 17 to 3.

However, they blew it by the time I got back to the boat.

I feel like they’re going to drive me crazy all winter long.

****

Last night, I dreamt that the Cubs played the White Sox in the World Series and I was able to get off the ship and travel to Chicago to watch the Cubs win the World Championship.

This just goes to prove the Cubs are a team of destiny.

Whoa. Hold on.

OH MY GOD!!!

As I’m writing this and watching the Tigers/White Sox game they’ve broken in to show Carlos Zambrano pitching the 9th of the Cubs game in Milwaukee. He’s throwing a no-hitter.

………..

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

HE DID IT! HE DID IT!!! ZAMBRANO THREW A NO HITTER!!!!
Incredible.

The Cubs Magic number isTeam of destiny.

New York...

Holy crap!!!

How amazing were Tina Fey and Amy Poehler last night!

Both of them were fantastic.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

more drama...

I just got into an argument with Security on the ship.

Every time I get off the ship they make snide comments and tell me not to be late and miss the ship again. At first it didn't bother me, but the past couple times it's made me mad. I explained that I almost missed the ship due to their incompetence, which made them mad.

So...today, as I got on the ship they took my sandwich away from me.

Let me explain...

Most of the performers get food from restaurants on land so we don't have to eat in the Garden Cafe. Today, I stopped and got a sandwich from Subway, but security confiscated it and took it away. Meanwhile, the four other performer who I was with were allowed to walk through with their food without any trouble whatsoever.

Ooooooohhhhhhh, I'm angry. Very, very angry!

To calm myself, I found this video and watched it several times.
Please watch it and laugh and try not to get angry about my sandwich.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bar Harbor...

Wednesday was Caz and Adrian's birthdays.
They both work for the Jean Ann Ryan Dancers. Caz is a dancer and Adrian is the costumer.

They had a prom party late Wednesday nights so everyone dressed up.
It was fun.
On Thursday we went to Bar Harbor. We were able to meet up with Jen and Larrance from ImprovAcadia and our friend Mike Shreeman.
All 3 of them are going to be working on the Gem with Brett this fall. I'm sure he'll be talking about that on his blog. Of course, it'll probably be March of '09 before he updates his blog again so they'll be off the ship and back in Bar Harbor by that time.

Today I am not feeling well at all.

I have been working out everyday and trying to eat better. In fact, in the past 2 months I have not eaten past 7:00pm. Oh, there may have been a few times when I had a slice of cheesecake (or 2) at 10:00pm every once in awhile, but that has been rare.

Last night, I broke that rule. The Crew Party was titled "Waffles and Ice Cream" and it didn't begin until 11:00pm.

Well, we went.
And, I'm paying for it.

I feel sick, sick, sick.

Blech.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

St. John...

Drama!!!...


Jeannie and I got off the boat this morning in St. John at 11:00am. As we walked off the ship we made sure to check the board to see what time we had to be back. The ship security had posted that crew members needed to be back on by 5:00 and passengers at 5:30.


Jeannie had a spa appointment so I walked with her to the salon. She’s been looking forward to going to the spa in St. John ever since she saw it back in July.


I walked over to one of the mini-malls and found a place to get a haircut. It was badly, badly needed. My hair was getting very shaggy and out of control.


After that, I went and had a delicious lunch at the Pizza Hut buffet. Lordy, lordy, lordy that Pizza Hut Pizza tasted good.


When I was finished eating I settled down into the atrium and got on the internet for awhile. Around 4:30 I was chatting on Facebook with Brett Lyons and I realized I needed to make my way back to the ship. It’s only an 8 minute walk so I wasn’t too worried.


I stopped at a drugstore and bought some toothpaste and Diet Pepsi for the room. When I left there I still had twenty minutes to get to the ship.


As I walked to the ship I noticed something odd….I was the only person walking toward the boat. Usually there’s a steady stream of passengers and crew members walking toward the gates whenever we walk back.

As I reached the gate the security guard took a quick glance of my name badge and said, “You better start running.”


“Why?” I asked. “Boarding time is 5:00.”


“Just start running,” he said.


I grabbed a hold of my laptop and my groceries and ran toward the ship. As I ran a security guard in a car drove up beside me. “Are you Jeff Griggs?” he yelled out of his window.


I said I was Jeff Griggs and he said, “Thank God. They were going to leave without you.”


He drove beside me until we reached our final security gate. I wanted to ask why he didn’t just drive me up there so I didn’t have to run the whole way, but I figured it would take too much time.


He got out of his car and escorted me up the gangway ramp to the boat. “Why would the ship leave me?” I asked.


“They apparently put up the wrong sign, son. They screwed up. You were supposed to be back by four,” he said.


“Four!” I said, surprised.


“Yep,” he answered. “It’s not your fault, but they’ll get fined thousands of dollars if they don’t leave at five so they were going to leave you behind.”


I walked onto the boat and was met by Jeannie, Katie and the entire security staff of the ship. As soon as I walked on they closed the door and shoved off. I had arrived exactly at 5:00.


They gave me a little bit of a hard time, but admitted it was a mistake that the morning security staff had made so I wasn’t in any trouble.


Way…way…way too much drama.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bears...

How 'bout those Bears?!?
Unbelievable.

I'd almost given up on them and they pulled out that win Sunday night. Incredible.

A win, by the way, that I was not able to see because the new television tech person does not know how to work the satellite on the ship. He explained to me that the only thing he knows how to do is to change the DVD's for the crew channel.

It's going to be a long football season. The only games I'm going to be able to see are the Monday night games on ESPN. Hopefully, in the next few weeks we'll get a new technician on board who is actually a "technician".

Since I was not able to watch the game I had to buy internet minutes and listen to the radio broadcast off the Bears website. Listening to that game cost me $20.

It was worth it! Right now, I'm attempting to download the game so I can see what I listened to.

Meanwhile, the Cubs are freaking me out. They are in the middle of an ugly, ugly slump. Thankfully, so are the Brewers.

My sister finally posted photos of my brother's football game.Still waiting on the video. There's really no reason why it's taking her this long to send it to me.

***

For those of you who are politically minded, Adam McKay has an awesome article on the Huffington Post.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New York...

Today we're in New York. It was a long, fun and exhausting week so we're not doing much in the Big Apple today.

It was nice to be on the East Coast all week long.

Keep your fingers crossed that they'll be able to broadcast the Bears/Colts game on the ship tonight. If they don't show it I may have to throw some people overboard.

Anyone notice that any time I praise the Cubs on this blog, they lose? And, if I criticize them, they win. Somehow, this blog has bizaro control of their destiny. I hope I can keep this power all the way through the playoffs.

Last week was a learning experience. We discovered that there's quite a difference between the Bermuda trip and the Canadian/East Coast trip.

For the Bermuda trip, the average age of the passengers was 41 years old. For the Canadian trip, the average age of the passengers is 65!

Mind you, 65 is not old. It's just that it's pretty amazing could ever be an average age of anything. Especially when you consider that there are a couple hundred passengers on board who are under the age of 25. That means there must be a lot of people way over 65 to get that average all the way up there.

There is a common stereotype that old people love to complain and I have to say the passengers on the ship this week did not do anything to dispel that stereotype.

Because of their complaints the sound for all the shows was turned way, way, waaaaayyyy down. On a scale of 1 to 10, we went from an 8 volume level to a 3.

Because everyone felt there was a draft in every room, the air conditioners in all the rooms were lowered to 80 degrees.

Because the whirlpools were considered to be too hot, the temperatures for those were lowered to 97 degrees. Which is, by the way, the same temperature for the swimming pools.

In our scripted show, there's a scene where Tim Paul portrays a grizzly bear with a gun. In the scene, he takes the gun and shoots me in the hand. It usually gets a huge laugh. Well, not this week. This weeks, after that scene, there was a mass exodus from the theater. The old people complained that a bear shooting a human in the hand was vulgar and disgusting.

Here are some of the other many, many, many complaints they had:
  • Elevators were too slow.
  • Elevators were too fast.
  • It was too difficult to reach the food at the buffet .
  • Hallways were too narrow.
  • Hallways were too drafty. (Because of this complaint there were space heaters put in some of the halls.)
  • Ramps were too steep.
  • St. John was too rainy and we never should have gone there.
  • Boston was too hot and we never should have gone there.
  • Crew members walked too fast and it was making everyone nervous.
  • Food was too hot to eat.
The only compliment everyone had was that the racist stand up comedian on board was hilarious.

Newport...

This is as close as we got to Newport, R.I.
When the ship pulled into port the entire harbor was blanketed with fog. We were tendering again, so it was difficult to navigate the tender boats from the ship to the dock safely. Because of that, disembarkment was delayed 2 hours. That meant all shore benefits for crew members were canceled. We were stuck on the boat.

I was disappointed because I desperately need a haircut.

However, I worked out for awhile and then went to my hiding place to write. (I have found the only quiet area on the boat. I sneak in there to do my writing and no one bothers me at all!)

So, while I would have loved to have gotten off the boat, I was able to get TONS of writing done. Which was a relief, because it's been a lot harder to write on the boat than I had anticipated. The creative juices just haven't been flowing well.

I also didn't mind that we didn't get off the boat because it rained all day. Once we pushed off to sea the rains and wind got worse. We had to drive through the remenants of Tropical Depression Hannah to get to New York.

I'll have to say that Saturday night was the worst waves we've gone through. During our 11pm show the water was rocking us so hard that we almost fell down on stage.

Side note to Melissa Loeffelholz or anyone else who is going to be joining us on the boat:
Aside from the first 2 weeks we were on the boat, last night was the first time we've had any problems with the ship rocking and rolling. Jeannie bought sea sickness patches before we got on the ship and last night was the first time she has worn them since our second trip to Bermuda. So, don't worry. You will not get sea sick on the boat Melissa.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ugh...

The Cubs have lost 6 games in a row!


Ugh.

They're killing me.

Hopefully tomorrow they'll stop sucking and start playing baseball.

Boy O' boy, they sure do suck right now.

Boston...

Holy smokes we had a busy day.


We got off the ship at 10:30 this morning. The ship was docked at the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal, which is in South Boston.


We talked to a policeman who said we were a 5 minute walk from downtown Boston.


Looking back, we must have really misunderstood him. He must have meant it was a 5 minute walk to the end of the block because it ended up taking us 45 minutes to get where we were we wanted to be. The 45 minute walk was fine with us, but we weren’t at all prepared for it.

We crossed the Summer Street Bridge and made our way into the Financial District. It was there that we saw the Old State House.

We then walked over to Faneuil Hall.

Outside the building was a statue of Sam Adams.

Inside on the first floor was a little market. Upstairs was the meeting hall.

It was here that the “Sons of Liberty” met and debated over the issues that led to the opposition of the Sugar Tax, the Stamp Act and the Tea Tax, among others.


After that we walked over to Quincy Market.

We wandered around through the shops and looked for someplace to eat. There were lots of local places to eat, but we choose to eat at the place that would make our castmate (and Boston native) Tim Paul the angriest.

It wasn’t the real Cheers bar. That one is the Bull Finch Tavern over at Beacon Hill . Tim might have actually appreciated it if we had gone to the original . The fact that we went to the cheesy, tourist trap, fake Cheers will really make him upset.

After eating we walked to the North End and tracked down Paul Revere’s house.

We paid $3 for the self guided tour and went in. It was very cool.

I love visiting old historical houses.


We then walked the “Freedom Trail” to the Paul Revere Statue.

And then went into “Old North Church”.

Here’s one of the windows where the historic lantern hung.

Jeannie really enjoyed the church compartments where the family pews were located. As I walked around and looked at all the interesting artifacts she was happy to stay inside her little box.

We then walked back to the Old State House and went into the museum located inside. We also stopped by the exact location where the Boston Massacre took place.

We then walked back to the ship and crossed over Congress Street Bridge where the Boston Tea Party took place.

We arrived back at the ship sweaty, dirty and exhausted. All in all we walked over 8 miles according to the pedometer on Jeannie’s phone.


It was a very educational day.