Sunday, November 28, 2010


It is a beautiful day in Costa Rica wondering if I have figured out this buggy Internet on the ship. I'm not sure if it is the actual hot spot or my operation of the iPad. Either way it is a very frustrating experience.
As you were,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Panama City

This is about all I got to see of Panama City after an all night flight following a turkey dinner Thursday. The ship had just gone through the canal so I missed that experience. I am looking forward to it some day.
The airport was empty except for my flight which had a line almost out the door. We were the last flight out of that terminal at one in the morning. The TSA was complaining that they had to stay because the ticket counter agents were so slow. No one was happy to be working on Thanksgiving, and I was not elated to have to fly either.
The TSA is screening everyone with the nude photography machine at LAX. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be radiated or groped but it happened so fast I didn't get a chance to decide. The machine has taken the place of the metal detector and I was walking through it before I knew it. I am not sure if I want to be xrayed everytime I fly but it was fairly simple this time.
When I was a kid they had xray machines in the Sears shoe department to see how a childs foot fit in the shoe. It was a great idea until it was found to be extremely dangerous and all of them were removed. I have the feeling that we will discover that the TSA machines are more deadly than they are telling us. We are always behind the curve in these cases.
Easy gig this trip. I am doing half the shows I normally do at full price. Need more of these gigs even with the all night travel schedule.
Missing my family more than usual but wl be home soon.
As you were,

Friday, November 26, 2010

A continuation of the series. This one is called "Jack".
As you were,

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More silly stuff
Just more stuff to prove that I probably have more time on my hands than I should.

I hope you enjoy it.
As you were,

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Time to Share

Here is my new favorite painting. iPad is getting more friendly to my art muse. She seems to have come to stay for a while, I always hope she doesn't leave soon. This picture is called
"The Ripper". It suits my gothic nature.
As you were,

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Need More Time
So here is my first attempt at animation with the Ipad. I have blogged before about my adventures into animation.  A 20 second full color cell 8mm back in the 1970's took me about three months to finish.
This took me literally minutes, and there is more to come now that I know the ropes a little.
Okay so the Pixar and Disney animators are not worried, but if I can do that on an Ipad with about and hour of time... think what can be done from now on?
As you were,

Friday, November 19, 2010

It was Andy Warhol who thought it up and created the art but Lilly Tomlin is the one who said it. As she held his famous picture of a Campbell's Soup can in one hand and an actual can of Campbell's soup in the other.

In the case of the coke can, it was the only model I had on the plane. I have found that staring at people on an airplane with the intensity to draw them no matter how interesting they are can get you "labeled".
As you were,

Auto Pilot
Here we are at the coffee bean and tea leaf. Since I rarely travel with a laptop I am getting an introduction to the world of hot spots and Wifi with this Ipad. I still get the thrill of a hacker when I successfully navigate through an introduction screen. It just seems like a covert accomplishment every time.
Funny now that I am home there is nothing to really write about. I think I turn my observational skills off or at least they seem to relax or disappear when I get back from a trip.
One thing I am noticing is the distinctive absence of typing sounds. As in look around there are at least four people keyboarding computers in addition to me and my screen typing. But there is no noise. Old typerwiters used to be very noisy. I remember a high school typing class that could be deafening during an exam. The major sound for background noise of a 60's/ 70's office was always the distinctive sound of typewriters. News rooms were filled with the sounds of a teletype machine. Now days there is keyboarding all around and never a sound to give it away.
The CBTL got very busy all of a sudden, the morning rush like a bus stopped and everyone got off to get coffee.
It has started to drizzle. Okay that is the end. When I start talking about the weather, unless it is some far away place, I officially have nothing to write about.
As you were,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

iPad Madness

Back home for a week or so and have the freedom of my own internet. This pretty well sums up my experience on the Grand for two weeks. They say Art is just thought expressed.
As you were,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Four Star

In this picture if you notice the second window from the bow, the square port hole just above the N in Grand, you will see my humble abode. It is indeed the phone booth size closet that they call a cabin. It wasn't too bad since most of the time my world was the screen of an 8x10 Ipad. The problem was not the space as much as the placement. You will also notice that the cabin is less than 20 feet to the bow line portal. Every time the winches were engaged, which was every time we docked or left a port, my small cabin would shake with the force of a 4.5 earth quake and the thunder of metal on metal gears grinding. Not the way one would like to be awaken at six AM especially after a late night performance. It would always wake me but after a few mornings I was able to go back to sleep but did have several dreams reliving the Northridge Quake of 94.
I will be home in about 18 hours most of which will be spent on an airplane. There will be a whole new set of adjustments I will need to make to fly. I will be glad to be home for a little over a week.
I never did meet the cruise director. I did watch him do "his show". It is posed as an impromptu second thought when the lounge pianist sees him in the audience and casually asks him if he wants to sing a couple of numbers. He reluctantly gets up and graces the audience with a tune or two or five. Getting to know Ray the pianist I find that it is highly rehearsed and set up for him a couple of times a cruise. Ray is not thrilled to have to do it. After working with Frank Sinatra this Cruise director is not thrilling.
It is perhaps the most self involved narcissistic performance I have ever seen. The superior, almost condescending, manner he works the crowd is a cliché Bill Murray imitation. He is so full of himself he doesn't leave room for the audience. Where is Simon Cowell when he could really do some good?
After his "set" would have been the perfect time to introduce myself and finally meet him. I couldn't do it. My green room perjury can only go so far. I walked away as he was taking his bow. I figure this guy goes through his day not realizing there is anyone else on the ship. As you were,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rain in the Caribbean

Curaçao has intermittent showers which makes for some unbearable humidity. It is Jungle hot. You are drier when it rains. Some of the old folks scooters are getting vapor locked and need to be towed back to the ship. I saw one old lady pushing a rolling walker with a bucket of iced beer on the seat. She may be old but not stupid.
Ray Cousins plays the devil out of the lounge piano. I am blown away that ten fingers can produce that much sound. At one point in his set he wiped his brow and I swear the music never stopped as his left hand came above the keyboard. Clearly one elderly gentleman was not sure what was going on and was not sitting where he could see Ray's hands. In slow small steps he started from the back of the lounge with a mission. It took a long time for him to reach the stage but was finally next to the piano. I thought he was going to make a request, instead he craned his stiff neck down and around the piano to glare at the keyboard for a minute. He looked at Ray, then back to the keyboard as if to be certain he was actually playing. He straightened up as best he could and gave a positive nod to his wife sitting in the back. Satisfied it was legit; he began the long slow journey back to his seat.
At the bar (my office after five on a non performing day) some men were talking about the missile/con trail that was spotted and filmed this week off the California coast. One of the men was retired from the Apollo project for NASA and worked for Northrop Grummon in the weapons division. He gave all the educated reasons why it could not have been a con trail from an aircraft. He was sure it was a mistake missile firing or secret test of a submarine rocket. Damn what could be the start of a conspiracy in my own back yard and I was out of town? I have to time my trips better.
Counting the days till I can get back is now my daily task. I go back to work tonight so it should go faster. Still have not met the Cruise director. I am trying to make it all the way through this contract never speaking to him. Everybody needs a goal to keep them sane. That has become mine.
As you were,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Human Cargo
I have seen all the movies on board, found every part of the ship of interest, participated in an organized game of darts and tried to be a passenger as much as I can. The small cabin is closing in on me and I am getting ready to go home. I won't work for another three days and then I will do four shows in three days. It would be nice to so spread them out over the time, but this is the gig. Hard to complain about being forced to be a passenger on a cruise ship, but it is no vacation to me. I guess I can be grateful we are not being towed to San Diego by tug boats and we have hot food and hot water unlike the Carnival Splendor that caught fire this week. Even more I am glad on this Veterans day that I am not doing a job that could get me shot and killed in the deserts of Afghanistan or Iraq. I hope that we can bring everyone home soon and stop this war once and for all. I really thought we had learned a lesson in Nam. But here we are stuck in a war that has now gone on longer.
In thinking about Veterans day,here is a shout out to Lt. Arthur Noel Johnson,Jr.a naval officer who served in World War II and was called back for service in the Korean "conflict". That is when we decided not to call them wars because it scared people. Lt. Johnson served as a radar officer on several Air Craft Carriers including the USS Blueridge. I am sure he was a tough and caring officer, because that is the kind of Dad he is. I think of you every time I look at what seems to be an endless ocean, form all of us who live in the USA, Thanks Dad.
Jeff the juggler tells me that tomorrow in Aruba there is a Starbucks near the dock that has free wifi. He plans to be there for the day. I will check it out because I need to have more practice logging on to hotspots with the new Ipad. But mostly it will be great to have a sense of normalcy sitting in a Starbucks with a laptop. I have found that no matter where you are all Starbucks are the same. I can for the moment pretend that I am blocks away from my house rather than twelve hours flight away. The free Internet is just a bonus.
Ray Cousins is playing piano in the Lounge. Ray used to be musical director for Frank Sinatra, and has great stories about those days. He is turning sixty in a few days. Some lady came up to him the other evening and ask if he was the piano player on the Titanic. Turned out she meant the movie with Leonardo De Caprio a few years ago, but the initial shock was not taken well by a man who will soon join the sexagenarians. Ray swears we have know each other for years. I only performed once with Sinatra years ago,probably when he was conducting, but all I remember is Sinatra. I figure everything else associated with that gig has been eclipsed by the memory of being with the chairman of the board. Sorry Ray.
...---...---...---...---...--- Time has stopped and I have trouble remembering what my sleep number is for my bed at home.
As you were,

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Safe at Sea
I am on the Grand and not the stranded Carnival Splendor which is being towed to Baja California. The news said that there was no hot food or hot water for the passengers. Given the average cruise passenger faced with a lack of food, I would hope they will do a complete manifest check to make sure none of the weaker sailors have been eaten. It was a big ship and I really feel for all of them. Surely they will still be playing bingo as the ship limps to the dock.
Jeff the juggler and I were talking about weird acts we have seen. He won the round. He said there was a woman who worked with a baboon. She placed a candle on top of his head and lit it. She then took a hand gun and walked several paces away in a "duleing fashion" in an attempt to shoot the flame out. Before she can turn around the monkey eats the candle which is actually made from a banana. When she turns around to see the candle gone the monkey does a head stand and spreads his legs. His pants are rigged so a small flame comes out his butt. Disgusted she walks over,blows out the flame. And....curtain. You just can't top that. Isn't show biz great.?
As you were,

Monday, November 08, 2010

So my friend Jeff the Juggler, who knows about the survival technics of living on a
Ship, shared the secret with me about the internet here on board. It seems that the crew has a whole different wifi than the passengers. It is much faster and with a card you can only get in the crew library, much cheaper. The scam is the ship wants the passengers using the slower network simply because it will cost more, they make more so they can afford to hire expensive acts like me to entertain them. However, the network does not show up when your computer searches for the signal, only the passenger channel is visible. However, if you type in the right name, and it is even case sensitive, a stronger faster signal appears.
Isn't capitalism wonderful? The crew keeps this secret tight to the vest. Until Jeff told me I never heard of this before.
So here I am connected to a moderately priced Internet with my new Ipad.
Life is good and I do not feel so out of touch. In celebration of that fact I am uploading my next installment of Ipad art. I will eventually get tired of
Drawing eyes.... But for now it is my own personal joke on the name.
Thanks Jeff. Glad you are my next door neighbor.
As you were,

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Horror on the Seas

I should have known when a German couple walked out toward the first of the revue show. It is called the British Invasion, billed as a revue of 60's music. Not the usual nostalgic Broadway tunes or peppy standards that is the usual shipboard fest. But like the Germans I was hoping for a better outcome although not the revisionist history lesson they might have hoped for.
The music was good although Amy Weinhouse's "Rehab" following a Rolling Stones song was out of place. Okay, Amy is British and it was all about British music but to see it done as a production number with dancers in psychedelic pasliey outfits will never work.
My real problem was the choreography. I'm married to a dancer and my standards are higher than most, but in this era of "So You Think You can Dance" the bar has been set pretty high for even the average observer.
This "ographer" thought every note and every word should be accompanied with a movement usually a hand gesture. Think Petula Clark's "Downtown" done in sign language for the deaf and you will be close, way too much and it was awkward.
I also have a problem with designers who take an era of clothing style and make the extreme even bigger. Think Cirque de Sole doing the wardrobe for the Mamas and the Papas. They actually did Queen's music as a pastel jump suit clad marching band. No kidding band hats and dancers fake playing trombones.
It was half way through the show that they did music from the Beatles. How can you screw that up? Well, here is one way. How about the whole section done as a turn of the century Currier and Ives vaudeville show? Not a style that might be reminiscent of Sergeant Pepper. It was a garish spectacle of lime green and hot pink sports coats with black piping outlining the lapels and straw hats to match. Penny Lane was done with a quartet of two couples on a Sunday afternoon park bench. Lucy in the Sky was a girl on a flowered swing doing acrobatics. At some point during this exhibition the boat moved significantly and I was certain it was John Lennon rolling in his grave.
The best was yet to come. Regal music plays and a dimly lit throne is rolled out from the center of the set. It is a King with red velvet cape crown, scepter and full regalia. The Royal fanfare morphs into a contemporary sound and in full kingly drag a guy begins to sing Phil Collin's music. I figure by now the German couple has found a better way to weather the storm and I wish I was there with them.
The kids on stage worked their asses off in an attempt to bring some logic to theater of th absurd. They are all talented and deserve a better vehicle. Perhaps it was just not the show for me. To my amazement after only polite applause throughout, they stood for a final ovation. Go figure.
Captain Ego, the Cruise director stepped on stage to accept the accolades saying he was so proud to be British.
I am going to bed to be rocked to sleep by the sea. From now on I will listen to that part of me that wanted to stay in bed in the first place.
As you were,

Rough seas

We have avoided the Hurricane but we are still feeling his affects. Fairly large swells are all around and the ride is rough. We are rocking steadily. I find it very relaxing like being in a massive cradle... A cradle with restaurants and bars.
It is formal night and there is a new show that just went in and it is supposed to be good. I am trying to convince myself to make the effort to get dressed up and attend. There is a major part of me that wants to simply lie in my bunk and be cradled to sleep. However it will be interesting to see how some of the over weight passengers deal with the moving decks. Okay that is a little mean spirited. it is motivated by the observation that these massive mammals on board don't deal well with any kind of new situation. They are always complaining that it it too hot outside, the ship is too cold inside, the ice cream station is not open long enough, the seats are not large enough, and the shows are too crowded when they arrive five minutes before the start.
I heard my Dad tell a navy story of going through a typhoon on his aircraft carrier in WWII. I can't imagine how scary and rough that experience was. My Duad surely did not describe it as cradling.
I still haven't met the cruise director. From watching him on stage and how he struts around the ship I am not in a hurry. He hosts the stage for all the other shows, but sent his deputy to MC the juggler and me. This poor guy has the presents on stage of melting butter. Trys to tell jokes with no sense of story or timing. When I asked him to introduce me as Tony Award winner... He said to the audience,"You are going to like this guy. He has won some awards." It was like I won the certificate of appreciation from High school. Oh well, ego aside the Introduction, no matter how good, only gives you a minute or so credibility with the audience. You still have to prove yourself. Still I have the feeling that the Cruise director believes it is beneath him to be on stage with a novelty act. His loss if that is the case. He could be a good guy with more shows than he can do a night. I still don't like the arrogance that oozes off of him. I have rarely felt that way toward a CD. Usually I find them to be over anxious insurance salesman types.
I think I have covers my need to be judgmental for a while. I will be anxious to prove myself wrong, if I ever get a chance to meet him.
As you were,

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Coming Soon

I have limited access to the net here on the Grand. My new Ipad took ten minutes to load the sign in screen for the ship's Wifi so it only of "off line" value to me here. This satellite connection is way too slow. But I have compiled a movie of my accommodations on this ship which I will share with you as soon as I get the band width. I think it is interesting and I hope you do too.
The shows are going fine, second show more responive than the first but that is to be expected on a two show night. This is a two week run which is a new venture for me.
Hurricane Thomas has played havoc with the schedule for this trip. We will miss a couple of ports of call on this run to avoid it. More later.
As you were,