In the dark hours of procrastinating the end of an amazing cruise, because it was clear that it would truly be over should my head hit the pillow, I had a sleepy conversation with Jim Boggia. It was exhaustingly late and there had been plenty of alcoholic drinks around that evening to both celebrate and mourn the passing of an amazing week. I am certain that the conversation was nowhere near as lucid as I remember it, but somewhere in there we summarized the cruise near as best we could given the circumstances.
In his set, Jim Boggia played a song titled Listening to NRBQ. In introducing it he asked the various assembled nerds , or seamonkeys, how many had heard of the great band NRBQ. There were maybe a dozen of us that had from the hands raised and crowd verbal exclamations. Jim seemed pleased and explained that he normally saw at most three hands to that question in a typical concert.
NRBQ was one of the first concerts I ever attended and was one of the key bands my parents used to teach me a strong love of a good concert. In that late procrastinating conversation Jim Boggia quizzed me a bit on that, including if had seen Steve Ferguson play with them live . As with many such conversations, Jim Boggia let me know that he thought my parents were cool people for loving music and passing that down. Louisville, my hometown, has a unique music history and music scene and NRBQ was a part of that.
The strong, personal connection to NRBQ I think sets the stage for what drunken revelations I had in that culminating evening/morning towards explaining why JoCoCruiseCrazy 4 was one of the most amazing weeks in my life and more interestingly why it was perhaps the best Music/Comedy/Games festival that I hadn't quite realized that I needed.
There's something amazing in a good concert when you're an active participant in a well-tuned and well-sized audience in a good venue. There's an energy to cheering, dancing, laughing, and yet applauding along with a smart crowd of other people most of whom you are friends with or would love to be friends with.
In a way, the entire cruise was one giant concert of that sort: dancing between events across a beautiful boat of a venue with the occasional breaks on beautiful islands.
I've been to some amazing concerts in some amazing venues over the years, whether on my own whim or with the encouragement of my parents. Sometimes I worry that I have a high expectation bar for concerts and I get frustrated when that bar isn't met. JoCoCruiseCrazy easily exceeded that bar, and made itself feel like a wonderful concert "home" for one beautiful damn week.
Each day's main activities in one way or another surpassed each other in incredible ways. Coming off a gorgeous afternoon on a private Jamaican beach with a wonderful lunch and my share of an open bar in the middle of the week, I knew I had to try to make next year's cruise, even if I need to finally find a Millionaire Girlfriend to help finance it.
I successfully left my camera(phone) in airplane mode the entire trip. I even avoided the shipboard "Twit-Arr" and was left to the old fashioned human communication interfaces of speech and newsletters dropped at your door extremely early in the morning by dedicated volunteers.
This may provide some insight into the backed up digital logorrhea this blog post appears to be suffering from.
- Mystery Brewing's special JoCoCruiseCrazy beers were excellent. The espresso stout "Large House Blend" and honey hefeweizen "Millionaire Girlfriend" made an excellent black and tan together.
- My JoCoCruiseCrazy 4 Photo Album
- Jamaica Port Photosynth
- Labadee Dock Photosynth
- Bowties are cool. This cruise my second and third successful attempts at tying one, but now that I have the hang of it I find that bowties offer so much more over neckties. A necktie looks better the more it is choking you and putting you into your place condescendingly, whereas a bowtie looks cool no matter how much it chokes you. I spent the first formal evening of the cruise unconsciously adjusting an invisible necktie and then was excited to realize I didn't have to at all on the second formal evening.
- Dolphins are cool people. Especially those that put up with us dumb humans.
- I have a blink and you will miss it appearance as one of many (awesome) sea-faring bearded gentlemen in Molly Lewis' Year of the Beard Music Video. ...like a lion's mane on your face...
The Arbitrary Sea Peerage
I'm not typically at all interested in feudal play, as I fear that that form of governance is too deadly and dangerous to play at, given how easy it can be to fall back to it...
That out of the way, I was actually amused by the "nobility" of JoCoCruisCrazy 4, and it (plus alcohol and exhaustion, a running theme those two indeed) lead to one of the most personally touching moments of the cruise.
Each year (or at least one year previously) a new King or Queen of the Seas is drawn at true random (from a box or hat), crowned, and given some of the best seats in the venues for the remainder of the cruise. This year it was Queen Courtney of the Seas and Her Royal Consort. The Sea Royalty of this Arbitrary Peerage had great fun with this. For instance, Queen Courtney enjoyed making her presence known at the main events, and even essentially silenced a John Roderick rant that was getting a little too misogynistic. Queen Courtney also gave one of my Excursion Friends a Title as Lord of the Contortioning of Hula Hoops for his useful cruise skill of knowing how to refold a hula hoop.
My own tale partly starts with the official main event Dance Party early in the week. My Dinner Friends had warned me of the importance of endurance for the Dance Party and how they themselves had made it almost a tradition, and certainly a goal, to outlast the DJs themselves to the (fun) bitter end.
I was under-prepared for the Dance Party endurance challenge and crashed from exhaustion early and headed for my stateroom for much needed sleep. On my way out I spend nearly a half hour watching the Dance Party from above and shedding a tear or two of exhaustion and a tear or two of wonder at the size and the beauty of such a dance floor packed with people. (For scale, the Dance Party was hosted on the covered "glice" fake ice rink used for an entire ice show. I never quite figured out what the interest in a fake ice show on a Caribbean cruise might be.)
I was much better prepared and made up for the earlier mistakes during the Battle of the Labyrinth later in the week. The Labyrinth was a club on the ship "hidden" on the forward half of the ship between more usual venues. The decor was a strange mixture of psuedo-goth, best described during the week as what a douche of club-goers might imagine a goth nightclub to look like, which is to say nothing at all like one. In thinking about it some more, I think the decor most resembled a telephone recreation of Jim Henson's The Labyrinth on a strange budget with zero attention to detail.
With help from the JoCoCruiseCrazy "Home Office" an after-events dance party scheduled for one of the Royal Suites was upgraded to a "real" shadow event and the keys to the Labyrinth sound system was given to two Seamonkeys from the Bay Area and one of my Dinner Friends from the DC Area at 1AM to DJ as they saw fit.
The first few minutes of the evening came as a battle between the drunken morons not dancing to the Top 40s dance playlist and those of us with an intent to actually dance the evening away to whatever music our semi-pro DJs felt like spinning. We probably should have hung out a Private Event sign to prevent such a battle in the first place, but we won the battle all the same.
Oh how we danced.
At some point in the night the Queen of the Seas graced us with Her presence and that of Her Consort. They managed to show off some dance skills of their own. As they left for the evening, they graced us with what I felt to be one of the most touching bits of acclaim I could imagine, and I felt I had to write it down by the close of the evening to remember it. (Yes, exhaustion and alcohol certainly played into how strong those emotions felt.) That evening/morning those of us on that dance floor were knighted as inaugural knights in the Order of the Labyrinth for dedicated service on the dance floor.
The next day, having described the above story to John Scalzi, and also mentioned that I was a big fan and had read the majority of his books in something like a two month span he knighted me under the Order of Determined Fandom, albeit he wasn't sure if he had the powers to knight anyone. Given Wil Wheaton's title of Emperor of the Game Room, it seems clear enough that John Scalzi at least counts as the sea-faring Emperor of Science Fiction for the cruise...
It is rumored that Queen Courtney may not abdicate her crown so easily next year. Should a Game of Sea Thrones (or perhaps that should be a Game of Sea Heads? Haha, nautical bathroom humour) break out next year, I'm sure many would be a amused to draw sides. I'm not certain what to do about the conflict of interest in having been knighted by both Queen Courtney and Emperor John, however.
|||A term I used lovingly and endearingly throughout the week. I loved all of those nerds. I was one of them. They were all my friends.|
|||I certainly never saw a full show when Steve Ferguson was a part of the band (before my time by a few years), but I think I may have seen him cameo once or twice. My mom had a personal dislike of Steve Ferguson, which is a story I leave her to tell, but I bring up because the personal is the anecdote is the relationship to the swirling cauldron of musicianship...|