Thursday, July 28, 2005

Delayed Vacation Blogging (Part III):
Bread and Circuses

jester_luteFloating on the open sea has the potential to be really goddamned boring. Every now and then, the ship passes an picturesque island, or an oil derrick, or a floating corpse. But for the most part, the pace of life on a boat is fairly predictable. Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink — that sort of shit. Fortunately, cruise ship passengers can look forward every night to a dazzling array of distractions. You can feed yourself into a coma while watching Tom Jones concerts on a big screen by one of the pools; you can hit the nightclubs, listen to white-man blues bands, and make bad decisions with alcohol; you can gamble; you can cower in your room and watch television, avoiding all contact with other people for fear of the germs and sin they carry.

But on the Grand Princess, everyone loves a good show. In its promotional literature, Princess Cruises promises "World Class Entertainment," noting that it has "ushered in a brand new era" in shipboard fun. "Some ships have three separate show lounges and three different shows nightly so that you can choose what you want to see and when. Whether it's a Broadway-style musical at the Princess Theatre, a Las Vegas-style nightclub revue at the Vista Lounge, or an intimate cabaret club performance in Explorers Lounge, the choice is available every night. "

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I think of World Class Entertainment, certain images spring immediately to mind. I think of dancing bears, ribald toasts, fistfights, and other species of unfocused mayhem. I think of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow.
Let me put it this way — I've seen Tom Comet balance a running lawnmower on his chin while audience members heaved cabbages and butternut squash into the spinning blades; I've seen Rubber Boy dislocate every joint in his body and climb into a piece of carry-on luggage; I've seen the amazing Mr. Lifto dangle a cinder block from the Prince Albert piercing on the tip of his dick. You think a juggling acrobat is going to impress me?

Predictably, we skipped most of the nightly shows, managing on two non-consecutive evenings to attend a moderately non-lame stand up comic performance and a Broadway revue that was 77% lip-synched. The Broadway show was pure rubbish, to such a degree that I unconsciously assumed that everyone else on the ship would agree with me. As in the following conversation, duplicated more or less exactly in several conversations with near strangers:
ME: So, did you see that show last night?
ME: Wasn't it objectively awful?
FP: No, I really loved it.
ME: . . .
FP: . . .