Wednesday, October 29, 2008

St. Geroge's Dream Part Thirteen - I'm Ready For My Closeup, Mr. Maiquez

This is Victor...

Victor is our gymnast here on board the illustrious M/S Norwegian Dream.

He is also a very accomplished photographer, having spent a good deal of time learning how to shoot and edit photos during his many contracts with Jean Ann Ryan.

He has a big camera too, and I've seen some of the fruits of his labors, including pictures of Bermuda...

and various cast members. And up until a week ago, the only picture he had taken of me was this little gem...

Well, that all changed when Victor and I went out for a little photo session around St. George's. So, with Bermuda as my backdrop, the following is what happened.

We spent a good deal of time at this wall, which Victor likes for its textures.

Victor: "You look twenty years old man."

Me: "I feel twelve."

Victor does this cool thing with pictures that he calls "Clone-ography". When he says it, I swear it sounds like he's saying "pornography". In either case, the outcome is pretty cool. More of those further on down.

Ed Hardy shirts courtesy of Victor... "Your shirts are shit man," he says.

A look I mastered back when I was fourteen, turned into art many years later.

More clone-ography.

This one is one of my favorites.

Chain link fence inspiration from a "Prison Break" DVD.

Getting into the water, just like a real life model!

I know, can you believe it's me?

Getting into the water was one of the things I wanted to do on this shoot... Water was brisk, but the product turned out very well.

Hanging out on the dock on the east side of St. Catherine's beach.

All in all it was the most fun I've had taking pictures! Later I'll be using some of them for an updated website (something that is long overdue), and DVD. Thanks Victor, for a great day of taking great pictures, man!

Victor, and his wife Christy (one of the two female singers here) will be working at her mother's photography studio in Indianapolis after this contract. If you happen to be in the area, and would like to get shots like these, visit her website BY CLICKING HERE, and request Victor.

Keep on Livin' The Dream,

Michael Lamendola (adjusting my tie on Duke of Clarence Street)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

St. George's Dream Part Twelve: Postcards From Bermuda

At the moment I am sitting on Deck 8 Aft, taking in St. George's.The breeze is cool and mixes with the sun, which peeks in and out of the clouds to warm through the wind. Before I sat down to write this, I had lunch at the Swizzle Inn, which consisted of a couple of pitchers of rum swizzle shared with friends... oh, and nachos. We're all getting to be short timers here on the illustrious M/S Norwegian Dream... at the time of this writing, we have ten, count 'em, ten days of paid vacation left. Yeah, I'll admit that what we do ain't exactly welding. So, what's new huh?Welp, lemme tell ya, getting here this cruise (our 20th Bermudian, and 24th overall this contract) was quite a bumpy ride. Coming back from Bermuda last week we encountered a storm system that was sitting in between Bermuda and Boston. It didn't affect land on either end, but pelted us with wind and rain as we passed through. That same system hung out for a few days, intensifying and getting stronger, and gave us a wallop coming back this week. The swells were huge... the second worst I had ever encountered (coming in at number one was way back in 2004 when I was on the Silver Cloud... stuck in a vicious storm system off the coast of France for three days, I learned two things: One was the joys of seasickness, two was that my cabin porthole, located Deck 3 Midship, LEAKED).

It all started during our second “Fame” opening number Sunday night. Just some little tossing around on stage, nothing major. In an hour things had intensified, and by the time I was going to bed, things were even worse. The ship was rocking side to side more than a usual bumpy night. As a precaution I took my TV down from its perch, and tossed some loose items in my closet... smart move.

The next morning shelves in the shops had toppled over. The Kids Korner (seriously... why do we spell Corner with a K when referring to children? Are we trying to reinforce incorrect spelling? Furthermore, anyone who calls it the “Kids Klub Korner” needs to pick better acronyms) cabinets vomited toys and glitter all over the carpet. Up in the Sports Bar, they had closed off most of the buffet line, and seating along the windows was prohibited. All the outside decks were closed off, and the majority of the passengers were seasick and wondering just what the hell they had gotten themselves into.

As for me, thankfully I had no reaction to it. We had canceled rehearsal for Rock This Town that day, and the show was bumped to the following night. With that in mind, I slept most of the rocky sea day away, getting up every now and then to keep food in my stomach, which is the best way to fight off seasickness. During my few trips outside my cabin, I took some video to try and capture Neptune's wrath. Unfortunately, it really doesn't translate well, since you can't feel the dramatic pitching of the ship by merely watching. But still, if you want to know what it's like to ride a roller coaster for a day and a half, here's an example.

Life at sea can be swell.

I was going to put a video here, but honestly the video I took doesn't really bring the reality of being on a tilting ship justice. Just imagine being off balance and thrown around for a day and a half... yeah, that sounds right... moving on

Thankfully, the weather in Bermuda was unaffected by the storm, and I spent the past few days just wandering around St. George's taking pictures, having realized that I've passed by the same scenery over and over, but never taken pictures of it. So, with that in mind, and the fact that I wrote y'all to death last blog, I figured I would let the pictures do the talkin'. So, let's take a look at Bermuda in October...

Here's St. Catherine's beach. Since we've gotten back from Canada, things around here are a little different. They've taken down the bar, there's no music playing, and all the brown seaweed that must have been cleaned up before now lines the beach after high tide. It doesn't happen too often, but there have been some good beach days around here, but while it may be warm outside, the wind can kick up a fair amount of sand into your face, ears, eyes and other crevices. So a day at the beach isn't the warm and relaxing affair it once was.

Here I am, enjoying St. Catherine's beach, and the fact that my camera has a thirty second timer.

While I'd like to think that the crews of the Dream and Majesty clean up after themselves all of the time, I realize that sometimes that isn't the case. Here you see a clever homeowner who has found a way to utilize all the smuggled out crew bar Heineken bottles that have been left in his yard.

I've jogged past this guy a hundred times. He just sits there looking at me, wondering what the hell the big hurry is.

A view from the cut that enters St. George's Bay.

The historical walk of downtown St. George's

Typical houses in Bermuda. The roofs are shaped this way so rainwater can be caught and eventually consumed.

This is what every bus in Bermuda looks like. Big and Pink, they're the MAN bus, man...

Hanging with the JARs outside the Dream, taking in the cool Bermudian breeze.

This picture was taken in Hamilton... and say what you will, but I find it hilarious.

Here we are at the Swizzle Inn, which has it's own bus stop a little ways past the airport outside of St. George's island.

View from the beach at Tobacco Bay.

Here's the Dream in her usual place in St. George's Bay.

SO... what about life on board? Well, it's been a healthy mix of work and play. The shows, say it with me, are the same as they've always been, with the exception of our new singer Kyle.

I love this picture. You see, when we found out that Peter, our singer, had to leave last minute, everyone was wondering whether JAR HQ would send us a singer, what with only three weeks in the contract. The Friday before Peter left (he left on a Sunday), Victor warned me that I'd have to SLAS all by myself. Since SLAS is the show I care the least for, and since I don't know much of the other male's singing track, I insisted that we'd have a replacement who'd do his own track by the time we SLASed again the following week. Knowing that I am notorious for making five dollar bets, Victor put my money where my mouth was. Later, Kyle came, sang his stuff, and made me five bucks. So, above you can see me accepting the payoff from Victor while Kyle approves. In case you're keeping score, other successful five dollar earnings involve me saying the word “booby” during CG, and going a week without farting in the dressing room... I just bottled it away and let 'em have it the following week.

Me and Kyle, about to do some boot scootin'.

All right, let me break from the love songs of wine and roses for a moment now. As many of you know, I am blindly pushing forward with my Sammy Revue. I think I've performed it fifteen times now, and it's come a hell of a long way from the initial recording that you can see on my website. Of course, the big idea of doing it here is to polish it, record it, and pitch it again in hopes of receiving more than a pat on the back for my continued efforts. Victor (our Spanish gymnast, guitar player, volunteer firefighter, veterinarian, and sometimes Greek, French, but mainly Mexican) has taped a few performances, and I am about ready to put a DVD together, but I need some back of the house shots to complete it all. Our Assistant Cruise Director tells me that she can call in a favor to our TV Tech on board, who will film it from the back of the house.

So, he does so, and while all he did was turn the camera on and leave, it was really all I needed. A few days go by, and the ACD tells me that she should have the thing on her desk that night, and I can go and pick it up. Later that night I go to her desk and find nothing. I leave a note, telling her that, and the next time I see her she says that the tape is sitting right there. Tape? Oh, it must be one of those miniDV things... they are what the professionals use from what I hear. So, I walk over to her desk and pick up my tape. Imagine my elated bowel moving thrill when I pick up my prize.

What the hell? Is that... no... a VHS TAPE? Do they still make those? Isn't there a law? What? I... I... But... Staggering in confusion I take the... VHS tape... back to my room. Later, I see the TV tech at a deck party, and after thanking him for taping the show, explain to him that I am not able to transfer a... V...H...S... tape to a computer in order to make a DVD. “Do you have the original MiniDV, so that I can transfer it over?” I ask...

“No, I already taped over it, we only have a few tapes.”

Okay... no problem. Despite the fact that a V...H...S... tape has a far inferior quality than what you taped it on, no sweat... “Can you transfer this to a DVD, so that I may put it on a computer?” I ask.

“No, I don't have the right tools for that” he says, backing up my previous thoughts.

So I am basically holding a VHS... A VHS TAPE... which was probably put on the ship when she was christened by her freakin' God Mother Diana Ross, and I can't do a hot damn thing with it. Anybody else feeling the butt puckering joy here?

I collect myself and smile, because after all, this is a really neat guy I'm dealing with here. “Well, can you set up your camera and tape the show again this Sunday? You don't have to stay... just turn it on and leave.”

What followed was a bunch of “I cant because's”, which translated are really “I won't because's” backed up with a healthy foundation of bull shit.

While I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be performing this show, it has been one giant kick in the nuts after another to get this sucker on a stage, pro bono or potentially otherwise. The day that I get on a ship and do this for real, and that day will come, I will take that VHS tape and set it on fire, releasing the demons. Hot damn... amen.

Moving on, here's a tugboat...

Her name is Powerful. Powerful's teammate, which helps with the Dawn over in the Dockyards, is christened with the more respectful (yet deflatingly less tough) name of “Edward M. Stowe”... huh.

Here's a shot of some of the many plaques we have from our inaugural ports of call. Look over at the upper left hand corner. See that gold frame with the back matting? A couple of weeks ago there used to be some sort of golden flourish inside. Looks like we've had a case of Thomas Crowne, as now the back of the frame is loose from the wall, where some greedy hands took the flourish for themselves.

The other night we had a “Black and White” theme party, with the subtheme (I didn't know parties could have a subtheme) being “to dress as bare as you dare”. Not being one to ignore a subtheme, I went sans pants. I actually won the best dressed award, as I was the only one to notice the afore mentioned subtheme. So, unless you're inviting me to your party, keep your themes simple.

Another party held on the pool deck. From left to right are Tony, Emma, Megan, myself, and Lyndsey.

Here I am with Kenny, standing outside for a huge crew picture, commemorating the final weeks of the Dream. Since we'll be ants in the picture, I figured I'd wear my SLAS bow tie. Seeing that makes me think that wearing the SLAS bow tie for other functions is an awesome idea. I'll have the big ol Dream crew picture next time.

Okay, I think that' enough pictures for one blog... Later tonight It'll be a quick rehearsal with the band, and then I'll sit back and catch a show. Next week is our last, so look for a final update soon.

Keep on Livin' The Dream,

Michael Lamendola (getting a photo session in Bermuda... more on that soon)