Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hilo...

More training today.

Today is safety and CPR.

We all sit in the front of the class so we are used as the guinea pigs for everything.


That's Brett watching Jeannie recieving CPR.


This is Robin, Mark and Jeannie taking their CPR test.


This is Brett recieving the heimleich maneuver from our instructor Stuart.

Right now we're on our lunch break. One of the great things about this ship is that the Aloha Cafe extends all the way to the back of the ship and the back portion is outdoors. So, we all our meals outside and take in the phenomenal scenery. This is what we're looking at right now.


The photo doesn't do it justice. It's absolutely gorgeous.

As we are docked here in Hilo we are being entertained by 4 or 5 whales that are swimming about 50 yards from our ship. We have a great view of them jumping high out of the water.

Now that lunch is over it's time to go back to class.

Time to learn how to save lives.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bill Kurtis...

I don't know if I've explained this or not, but The Pride of America is a US registered ship. In fact, it's the only US registered cruise ship in the world.

Because of that we have to jump through all kinds of different hoops. Before we got on the ship we had to fly all over the country and drive all over the state to take physicals, drug tests, take oaths of office, get driving records, criminal records, be inspected by homeland security....all kinds of crazy things.

Because of that, we are all official US. Merchant Mariner's. I didn't realize it, but they informed us yesterday that the six of us are all members of a branch of the military.

Um,...what?!?

Do these people look like they could be in any part of any military?
This week we are going through safety training on the ship. This is something normal casts don't have to do, but since it's a US Cruise ship we have to pass this training or we're not allowed to work on the ship.

The classes begin at 8am and last until 4pm. Most of it is listening to lectures and videos, but we also have to take 2 or 3 tests everyday.

I snuck this picture in the middle of one of our more stimulating lectures.

You probably can't tell, but Brett is sleeping. He's hiding it by leaning against his arm and pretending like he's staring at the charts on the wall.

Brett wasn't the only one who fell asleep. Half the class seemed to be staring an inordinate time at charts on the wall. The material we are learning is not terribly easy, but it could be taught in a two hour class. Because we're supposed to have 40 hours of class time the 2 hour class is dragged out to 8 hours every day.

Yawn.

Yesterday after our class we caught a free shuttle to the mall.
Wouldn't you know it, right in the middle of the mall was the AT&T store. Brett and I have been investigating getting the wireless internet adaptor's for our laptops. As soon as we found out that we were going to Hawaii and they had 3G service everywhere we started talking about getting these adaptors. As soon as we got on the ship we saw that all the crew people had them so we decided we should just go ahead and take the plunge.

In fact, we talked so much about it that we convinced everyone, but Chris to get one(notice Chris' sad face).

Bill Kurtis would be so proud.

For those of you who don't know who Bill Kurtis or what these adaptors are, watch this commercial:

This adaptor is a HUGE deal. Normally on ships you have to get your internet through the ship's satellite. That is usually $20 for 200 minutes. That doesn't seem too bad, but in reality it is awful. The satellite internet on ships is worse than the old 32k dial up that I had back in 1992. On some days it would take 5 to 10 minutes to open up a single page. Loading a photo on Facebook would take forever and doing this blog was impossible.

We normally would spend our port days wandering around the islands looking for internet cafe's and paying $20 for a couple hours of use.

This adaptor makes it feel like we're still a part of normal society. Sounds odd, but you feel so detached from the world when you can't get internet any time you want. Problem solved.

Actually, doubly solved because now I have an iPhone and can stay connected with that as well. Some people may ask, "Do you need an iPhone and a laptop adaptor?" Yes. Yes, you do. While there's so many amazing things you can do on an iPhone, you can't do everything. Ask anyone who has an iPhone or Blackberry or any type of Smartphone if they have the internet at home and they'll all say yes. Do you have internet at work and at home? I'm sure you do.

I'm spending a lot of time arguing why I needed both of these purchases. That means that I am trying to rationalize to both of us why I (and Brett) need both. So, stop judging me so I can stop judging myself.

After we bought our adaptors we attempted to walk around the mall, but were surprised to see everything had closed down. It didn't dawn on us until much later that it was Sunday and the mall closes (of course) at 6pm on Sunday. There wasn't a single one of us who thought it was Sunday.

Luckily the movie theater was open and we went in and saw "I Love You, Man". The movie was okay. The popcorn was great.

Oh, also, I had a Jamba Juice.

Internet, Movie Theaters, movie popcorn and iPhones. This Hawaii is going to be pretty awesome.

Hopefully we'll find some time this week in between the training to get out to the beach.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Maui...

Yesterday was the longest day of my life.

Since I didn't sleep Friday night, Saturday just didn't seem to occur. It was one long Friday.

Also, we're 5 hours behind the central time zone so we were chasing the sun a bit while we were flying. I finally managed to go to bed at 10:30 last night, which was 3:30 Central time.

So, I was up for 44 hours with just a couple 20 minute nap breaks.

This ship is very different from our last ship. It's much newer and nicer.

The theme of Pride of America is....America!

So there are American themed decorations everywhere.


This is the seal on the floor in front of the reception desk.

A lot of the ceilings look like this.


The atrium is dressed up to look the Capital Rotunda with a miniature Washinton Monument smack dab in the middle of it.


Jason Chin will be excited to see that across the lobby is the John Adams Coffee Cafe.


I'm not sure what the association is between John Adams and iced latte's, but there it is.

Down the hall is the Jefferson Bistro.


Appropriately, it's a French restaurant.

At the back if the ship is the Liberty Dining Room which is decorated in a New York City theme.



It's all very nice and looks much less cheesy than it sounds.

For us the biggest dfference is that we're staying in passenger cabins. They are a tad bit smaller than our old crew cabins and we don't have a port hole, but they are much nicer and much more comfortable.

Also, WE HAVE PHONE SERVICE!!!

Which means that since I have my new handy dandy iPhone I now have 3G Internet everywhere. I can't explain to you how great that is. After spending 8 1/2 months in the Caribbean where we only had phone and Internet service for 1 or 2 days a week for 6 hours at a time, this feels like we're in a different world.

I feel like Bill Curtis is going to walk up to me and say "we've now found the Internet.....on a CRUISE SHIP!"

Ah, Bill Curtis. I wonder how many people will get that reference.

As I write this I'm on the back deck of the ship eating breakfast. This is my view:


We have a meeting with HR this afternoon and then we're going into town.

I hear we got out of Chicago just in time. Apparently the Midwest got hit with a blizzard. We lucked out, I guess.
-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Honolulu...

We've landed.

I slept all of 20 minutes on the plane.

It was a nice, big plane. Each seat on the plane had it's own TV screen with video on demand. So I watched "Doubt" on demand and several episodes of "Dexter".

It certainly felt like an 8 1/2 flight for me. Everyone else slept so it felt shorter to them.

We picked up our bags and were delighted by the bathroom signs.





Now we're on the way to the ship.




-- Post From My iPhone

Minneapolis...

I did not sleep last night.

I finished packing at 1am.

The car service was picking us up at 4am so it made no sense to go to sleep. I laid down to rest, but got up at 3:30 to take a shower.

At 4:00 I carried my and Jeannie's bags down to the curb. We both had 4 bags so it took awhile to get them down there. It was also pretty tough because 3 of the 4 bags exceeded 65 pounds.

We got to the airport and we headed straight to curbside check-in. Here's a trick for you if you have bags that exceed the airline's weight allowance, go to curbside check-in. Those guys out there don't measure your bags. They simply tag them and push them through.

They do however expect a tip for providing that service. I almost forgot to do that.

Once inside I breezed through security without to much trouble. They rescanned one of my carry on bags and I fully expected them to confiscate my large bag of Garret's popcorn that I was trying to sneak by them.

To my surprise the popcorn made it through!

This is probably the smoothest entrance I've ever had at an airport. No baggage fees and a succesful smuggle of caramel and cheese mix popcorn!

Right now were in our one and only stop over. For some reason, our stopover is here in Minneapolis which is an airport I'm very familiar with. Tim Mason and I have spent many hours here stranded, due to crazy, extreme Minnesota weather.

Today we will have no such issues. It's a bright clear day here. All the bad weather is South of us.

The only concern I have is how Brett and I are going to get all our castmates on the plane.





They've all crashed hard.

We leave in a little under an hour. The flight will last 8 hours and 45 minutes.

It's the the longest flight I've ever taken.

Thank goodness the popcorn made it through.
-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, March 27, 2009

Goodbye Chicago...

Well, it's late Friday and Jeannie and I are finishing packing and getting ready for our early, early morning trip to the airport.

The past five weeks have been a nice break here in Chicago.  I've done 9 workshops, done 1 PatchCo gig, done 13 improv shows, participated in 2 improv festivals, visited 6 states and a baker's dozen worth of cities.

I've seen many, many friends and got to eat some phenomenal food.  


I  bought an iPhone and met two new adorable babies.

Chicago is the greatest city in the country and I'll miss it desperately. 

The only thing I'll miss more is my wonderful family...



...and great friends.
For now though, we're off to Hawaii.  We won't be back until November 28th.

That's right, all 6 of us are staying for a full 8 months.

It should be fun.  Hopefully by the time I get back the Cubs will have won the World Series.

So, it's time for a new adventure.  

I'll see everyone in Hawaii.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2 Days Left...

Busy.

Busy, busy, busy.

Lots of work, lots of errands, lots of running around today.

I took some extra stuff to the storage facility today.  It's getting pretty packed.

Late in the afternoon I stopped in at Towers to give some input into a project they are working on.  It was good to see Mike Schmeidler one final time before we got on the ship.

I also stopped by to see Carla and her baby James.  
He's such a sweet little boy.

He's so active and squirmy.
Jeannie had a late evening appointment downtown so I walked around the loop as I waited for her.  I also stopped in and had a Jamba Juice and a bag of Garrett's Popcorn.
I knew I would be a very long time before I was downtown again so I took some pictures with my phone.  Here they are:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday...

Back to rehearsals.  

10-6 on Tuesday.
10-6 today.
TBD tomorrow.
10-6 Friday.
4:30am on Saturday, off to the airport for our 13 hour trip to Hawaii.

Busy, busy time.  Memorizing lines, concentrating on blocking, memorizing RO's, these rehearsal weeks are comedy boot camps.  We cram everything into 4 or 5 days of rehearsal and then head on the ship for another week of rehearsals.  Love it.  

Seriously.  Love, love, love it.

Love rehearsing new stuff.  It's almost as fun and exciting as performing new stuff.

After rehearsal yesterday Jeannie and I walked down to Best Buy so she could buy a battery extender for her iPod.  She wanted to make sure she has enough battery life for the entire plane ride to Honolulu.  After several employees told us they didn't have any type of battery extenders I went to the Geek Squad and asked them if they had one.  They of course pointed us in the right direction and she found a 14 hour battery extender.

Always go to Geek Squad.  They're the only ones who really know what's going on in the store.

After Best Buy we walked over and had dinner at Stanley's on Armitage.  Stanley's is a fantastic, delicious restaurant.  

It's also the best priced restaurant you'll find anywhere in Chicago.  

The food is soooo good that you could never call it cheap.  But, you can't beat the price.  I had fried chicken and mashed potato's for $4.00!

So good.

Jeannie liked the American Flag Toothpick they put on her burger.

After dinner it was back to the sublet to spend the rest of the night memorizing new scripts.

Here's the second part of my interview with Jason Chin on his Podcast. This is all about Del Close and the book I wrote about him.