The Emergent Sea
Volume 4 Book 6 of
Living in the Bonus Round
(Part 2)

[ Book 4-5 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ]
[ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ]

February 19, 2006.
"Today is Saturday. Tomorrow is Monday."

5:31 AM

Yesterday, I snuck up to the Forward Tropical Court (where they have things like the "Mozart Tea") upon hearing from Jim that there was a grand piano up there that was available. I had previous expressed concerns about playing there because the officer's quarters are directly below. Nothing like waking up the Captain in the middle of night by pounding on a piano you theoretically don't have permission to play (being a guest and all).

But we were assured that it was not a problem. Getting to the piano was a problem, however, as it resided on the microscopic stage behind the curtain packed tightly with sound equipment that the band uses (when the curtain is up and they can spread out).

However, there was a light on behind the curtain, so I carefully plotted a course over the amps, under the microphone booms and landed myself on a cushioned piano bench that had been place sideways, end in. I could sit but I couldn't slide one way or the other. It was like being strapped into a cockpit.

But it felt really cool to be so safely encased. I spread out the lyrics and from 3:30 AM until 7 AM I didn't lift my hands of the keyboard. And as I rotated through all the lyrics, trying different rhythms, different keys, different words, different structures, they all started to cohere. They contained a connectedness I hadn't quite felt before. Something in their broken-hearted themes. Broken-hearted, yet unbroken. There's a journey of survival in those songs. But there's also a vein of pain. Like a vein of gold rather than blood. Ah, but a vein's a vein, isn't it?

Here is a short video I made behind the curtain:
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5:41 AM
Richie is cleaning up the bar. I just got him to contribute some video. You'll find it at the beginning of the Part 3 video I'll show you a little later in this diary entry.

A big project seems to be looming. The cruise director is this adorable Jiminy Cricket of a guy, which is a bit different from the more staid, avuncular variety lines like this generally prefer. When Jim told him about "You Mean She's Here?". (Embedded for those who haven't seen it. Warning: it runs 12 minutes).

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...and yesterday before one of the events, he indicated he'd love to participate in us doing another one. "Anything creative," was what I heard. And this led to use discussing what kind of movie we should try to make.

"You Mean She's Here?" was one of those innocent, happy accidents where things just kept getting bigger and bigger -- a home movie turned feature film starring passengers and crew from the previous world cruise.

Jim has already asked if we could show "You Mean She's Here?" onboard in the movie theatre. One of the reasons for this is that many of the world cruise passengers from last year are also on this one. And as I thought about it, suddenly it hit me! We have an Agatha Christie setting. Big cruise ship. Fancy guests. Great costumes. Fabulous scenery. And even "movie stars" -- the guests and crew who "starred" in "You Mean She's Here?"

We also have -- and this is too perfect -- we have two genuine Hollywood stars, Anne Jeffries, who starred as the ghost on the Topper TV series from the 50s is one of them. And we also have Ann Rutherford who played one of the sisters in "Gone With The Wind."

We also have a theatrical troupe onboard who, last year, staged a murder mystery for the guests.

I've also been asked to play piano for a fellow guest lecturer who is doing a series about the great songwriters of the 20th century. His lectures consist of their life stories. But then, as he's telling the stories, he sings little snippets of their songs. Unfortunately, none of the pianists onboard have the time to learn his stuff, so Jim told him about me and I volunteered. Also, unfortunately, the poor fellow can barely hold a tune. Luckily, he only sings about 8 bars of each song.

We also crossed the International Dateline. This means that even though today is Saturday, tomorrow is Monday. A very strange feeling to go to bed Saturday night and to wake up Monday morning without having done a truckload of drugs and booze.

Days at sea aboard a cruise ship are packed with activities. I try to avoid most of them, but not everything can be. For instance, there is a little class on playwrighting. This is the first time this has been offered and I jumped at the chance since I'm usually terrible at writing my own dialogue when I'm trying to write scenes. I figure we have two weeks. I'll learn how to write a play.

Then, there's the dreaded Team Trivia. Team Trivia is a war zone, especially on a world cruise. We are only doing one segment of the world cruise, but most of the players are on for the whole thing. And they are serious about winning the trinkets that go along with the victories -- and you only win these trinkets at the END of the segment. So, all your scores are added up, day by day.

Team Trivia
Our team (except Jim is taking this photo).

The one thing you do NOT want to do is miss Team Trivia. And this is ironic because, theoretically, one goes on a cruise to relax, not make deadlines and watch the clock. Forget that. If you're on Team Trivia, you do NOT miss Team Trivia. After all, trinkets are at stake!

Here is the South Pacific Cruise Part 3: Sea Day!

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Coming up on this trip: Wellington, New Zealand the Lord Of The Rings Tour!

Wednesday February 22, 2006.
Rough Waters.
Lots of video embedded in this diary. First, South Pacific Video Diary Part 4: Mozart Tea:

Direct link:
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Well, my idea to make a mystery movie onboard went  over like a lead balloon.

It's my own fault, though. I'm beginning to learn that these little mini-movies, like "You Mean She's Here?" can't be done by committee. It all works best when I just take my little camera and just do it, not even letting anyone know what I'm up to. Just point the camera at someone, give them a line to say, and then shoot it. For some reason, I can't get motivated to come up with plotlines and premises. We have so many places to visit on this trip, I think the best thing is to do what I've been doing: meet people and shoot them, and then put it all together in the little diary videos.

We did sit for awhile with Anne Jeffries and Ann Rutherford up in the Tea Room. It was fascinating to hear these two show biz veterans both talking a mile a minute about their careers. I suspect that with the unexpected and totally delightful success of Rick's movie ("Broadway: The Golden Age") that everyone wants to be in on the act. Both have had brilliant stage and screen careers (Anne Jeffries was best known to me for the "Topper" series, but she was an opera and Broadway star before that, and Ann Rutherford has numerous screen credits, not the least of which is "Gone With The Wind" as Scarlet O'Hara's little sister.)

We were sitting with Rick McKay, and Ann Rutherford -- as she put it, "Ask me what time it is and I'll tell you how to build a clock." -- started telling Rick about how she got into radio. I only had my little camera with me, and the room was incredibly noisy, but I loved her story, how she and her mom and sisters would go to WNBC and watch the radio shows being performed.

Then one day, bored with school and feeling very ambitious, she went to the station, got an audition, listed all the shows she had seen as her "experience," and then snagged a role by being very careful how she turned the page on the stand -- something she had observed radio actors doing. It's a little bit hard to hear, but here is what I captured:

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I've also been mistaken for another of the passengers. Two mornings ago, I was sitting up in the Breakfast Buffet, in my usual space I call my "office," when a woman came up to me and began talking to me like we were old friends. I had no idea who she was but you meet so many people on the ship, I just smiled and went along. She realized she had the wrong guy when I said something about being a songwriter.

"You mean you're not Ed??" she said, looking horrified.

"No. I'm Steve." I told her.

"Oh, no!" she said. "You look just like Ed, one of the dance hosts."

Then yesterday morning, I was up early in the Buffet when I was stopped by a woman in a jogging suit named Lisa. She has a huge smile and, after I greeted her, she said, "My friend thought you were Ed yesterday. But she's right! You and Ed look just alike!"

Well, I had to meet Ed. And sure enough, five minutes later, Ed walks up. Of course, to my horror, I was looking into the face of grandfather. A handsome grandfather, but a grandfather nonetheless. I keep being reminded that I'm not a teenager anymore.

As Ed and I talked, he told me he was writing a book for his grandson called, "For A Loved Grandson," and it contains aphorisms; some he thought up and some he just agrees with. I told him that a few years before my grandmother died, when I had access to a video camera, I pointed it at her and asked her to tell me her story. I have no idea where that tape is and I hate that I've lost track of it. I thought I had given to my parents, so maybe they have it.

I told Ed to go get his book and we'd make a video of him reading to his grandson so he could link to it and his grandson could see it.

[Note from Steve: I included parts of the book, and our meeting in Part 3: Sea Day, which I posted into the diary yesterday. Here, now, is the full video which I took of Ed, without photos or editing:]

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Just as Ed and I were finishing, I looked out the windows of this ship and saw an amazing site: the sun was just breaking through some dark clouds and spraying a gorgeous set of visible rays upon the water. So, I ran out to the back deck and captured it. There's nothing as breathtaking as the sun hitting the water like this.

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We've been negotiating some pretty rough seas over the past few days, so I went out yesterday and taped some ocean. The thing about the video is that, because I'm on the ship myself, you can't really get a sense of how much we are pitching. So I pointed down at the water and, since we are near the bow, you can see the ship as it hits each new wave and hear the crashing.

After meeting Ed and seeing the beautiful sunrise, Ambassador Ed (not to be confused with dance host Ed) came over. I had heard him talking the other morning and he used the term, "Preemptive Capitulation." (Also featured in Part 3: Sea Day) I asked him to explain and it turns out to be a bit of humor on his part on how easily the State Dept. moderates gives in to the Pentagon. It seems people in the Defense Department "have been known to use active verbs."

I loved that phrase so much I sat here and edited a new music video using "Holy Dirt."

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[ Book 4-5 ] -- [ Pt 1 ] [ Pt 2 ] [ Pt 3 ] [ Pt 4 ] [ Pt 5 ] [ Pt 6 ] [ Pt 7 ] [ Pt 8 ]
[ Pt 9 ] [ Pt 10 ] [ Pt 11 ] [ Pt 12 ] [ Pt 13 ] [ Pt 14 ]
© 1996-2005 by Steve Schalchlin.
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