I woke up on the morning of Day 3 early enough to get to breakfast in the main dining room, but I couldn’t pull myself out of bed. I was too tired, too stressed. I was waking up on a ship on the beautiful Caribbean sea, but at the same moment, my mother was undergoing a triple bypass operation back home in Montreal. I spent the whole day wrapped in a layer of guilt and worry. If you met me later that day, and I was distracted, distant, checking my watch: please know that it wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in talking to you.
Day 3 was a sea day, which was a chance for the Shadow Cruise – activities not set up by the official performers – to take over the ship. Sea Monkeys are incredible at self-organizing and making things happen, and Day 3 was full of happenings. Dave attended a meeting of the Ukulele Melee, a group brought together by Molly Lewis and Alice Lee (developers of the “Stormy G Chord”) to maximize the dramatic impact of the 30+ ukuleles on the ship. They were generous enough to let him join the group even though he decided to leave his uke at home and bring his guitar on the cruise instead.
Alice and Molly teaching the class the “Stormy G”
The room contained musicians of all skill levels, each having a ton of fun playing in this mostly-ukulele band. Oh, and in the room? Sci-fi author John Scalzi, strumming along with a big grin on his face, clearly having as much fun as everyone else. I may have squeed a little. I was too shy to approach him and tell him I enjoy his books, because he wasn’t an official performer and I felt rude bothering him while he was on vacation.
Dave and I spent a little time in the game room trying to learn some new games. I got frustrated too quickly and stuck with Cards Against Humanity because it’s easy and familiar and funny, but Dave put in a little more effort and tried some new things. As you can see, we had options:
The game room is one of the best parts of the JoCo cruises. It’s open around the clock and there’s almost always someone in there, playing a game, eager to teach strategy to newbies. The walls get rapidly papered with notes and pictures – people trying to organize a group for dinner, or warning others to avoid the free Promenade pizza. For those who take the WiFi Temperance pledge and forswear electronic communication for the week, this is the place to visit every morning to find out what neat things are happening with the Shadow Cruise. We had a shipboard version of Twitter set up (dubbed “Twitt-arrr”, because if we can make something into a pirate joke, then by golly, we’re gonna), which is how I stayed on top of events, because temperance pledges are for chumps.
Dave’s guitar got a workout a little later when we joined the “Bardic Circle”/”Jam Session” in an annex off the game room. A dozen or so folks showed up with instruments and voices, and we hung out in each other’s company for an hour, taking turns playing songs while others joined in. Well, while they joined in. I just tapped my foot and mumbled along to the tunes I recognized, and clapped heartily after every one. Some folks brought us songs they’d written themselves, and they were great. I wish I could be that creative. One of my favorite moments of the whole cruise was when Leslie Hudson sang her song “Tatooine Blues” and everyone started joining in even though they’d never heard it before. Some percussion, a couple of guitars, and the song came to life. You couldn’t miss how much Leslie was loving hearing the song come to life in that room, and I’m so glad I was there to see it happen.
Leslie singing “Tatooine Blues”
There was a show that night, featuring Mike Phirman, John Roderick, and Zoe Keating. I’d seen the first two before, and I was a little disappointed that Phirman’s set was almost exactly the same as when he opened for Paul and Storm at the Birchmere. I suppose it was new to most of the crowd, though, and it was still funny and I still think he’s probably one of the nicest (and smiliest) guys in the biz. John Roderick is unmatched when it comes to stage presence, and he brought the rock as he always does. That said, over the course of this cruise, I found I enjoyed him so much more in his interactions with everyone else onstage than just performing his music for us alone. Zoe Keating was completely new to me and blew me away. An incredibly gifted cellist to begin with, she takes her music to another level with some fantastic technology. I’m loving these cruises for introducing me to new music in such a dramatic way. Marian Call last year, and Zoe Keating this year. They’re very different, they possess astonishing talent, and both can now consider me a big fan.
Zoe Keating performing “Escape Artist” on JoCoCruiseCrazy 3:
I missed the last bit of Zoe’s performance (I’m so sorry, Zoe), because I ducked out early to run to the Online Lounge on Deck 8 and swipe my card for a quick look at Gmail. With that, I finally had word that my mother’s surgery was over and she was going to be okay, and the relief made my legs weak and my heart light.
With that pressure off my spirit, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the final act of the evening: Celebrity Artemis. Artemis is a starship bridge simulator game, where each position has its own technical readouts that only they can see, and must relay information to the rest of the crew to complete their missions. So, of course, the best way to showcase this game is to have a bunch of celebrities, fuzzy with whisky and rum punch, play it in front of everyone.
The crew of the Maltose Falcon
The game, of course, was not the point. Watching these celebrity-type people get tipsy and silly and ridiculous like the rest of us was a huge highlight of this cruise for a lot of us.
If you’ve got half an hour to kill, check out the videos on youtube. This is the second crew, with Captain Roderick. Probably full of curse words.