Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Lieutenant Commander’s Log #5 (The Dagger)

Things on the ship have smoothed out a bit.  I’m working hard not to stress my voice. Rest is very important. I was extremely tired when I first got on the ship. For a month on the other ship, no matter what time I’d go to bed, I’d wake up at 2am and I’d just stay up because it was pointless working very hard at trying to sleep. 
Surprisingly, more people are coming to the lounge to hear the music. One waiter decided that because the audience expressed such surprise and satisfaction with the show, he’d reward us with premium ‘Purezza water.’ Delivered in a champagne bucket with ice.  Sparkling for Aurel and ‘still’ for me. “You’re making the people very happy. You deserve it”.   Wow. Only six or eight countries in the world have this water. Norway being one of them. You wouldn’t believe how good this water is. Even at room temperature.     

The other day I was standing on the promenade while folks were crowding to leave the ship for some Kiel shopping and Kiel cold air.  While standing, a gentleman of distinct character, asked me where I was from.  “I’m from the states.”  “You have family in Sri Lanka.” No.  “Is your grandfather from Sri Lanka?” No.  “Is your grandfather’s grandfather from Sri Lanka?”   No.  I was tempted to say, ”My grandmother is from Sri Lanka.”  My hair confuses people. Most folks think I’m from Brazil.  Before I could say anything, he started going in on Donald Trump. “His wife is an immigrant...” Frankly, I took this job to escape the 24/7 Trumpia.   Then he said “Yes America...”  He then opened up his bag from the Tax- Free store and pulled out a large metal canister of Jack Daniels.  I was standing while holding a cup of coffee. He kept insisting that he pore some whiskey in my coffee. Then he pulled the bottle from the canister. Opened it. Pored some in the little cap and kept trying to put it my coffee.  I guess that was kind of him to try to get me fired by one of ship spies.   :)  From his looks, I’m guessing he was from Sri Lanka.
If I hear one more music producer, promoter, record company exec say, “We don’t know what to do with him...” I’m gonna...
Seriously, this has been the story of my life. It’s one thing to just be another talented person of many. However, people who have seen me perform feel totally different. When has being able to entertain and having fun with an audience become a questionable thing. Is this not the entertainment business?
I am not exaggerating. I have sat and played in front of these big shots who say things like “You should be famous.” “You’re world class” You’re this and you’re that.  I’m like, well here I am.   Then it’s the, “We don’t know what to do with you.”  How about get me in front of an audience and let the audience enjoy the moments of my passion. Let the audience dictate my place.  They’re not the one’s complaining. They’re like me, wondering what’s up with you so called music people. This used to frustrate me.  Now it makes me angry that after all these years I still hear this. I’m so determined to matter while I’m still on this earth. It’s not about wanting or feeling that I should be big or famous, etc. It’s trying to make sense of these mixed messages.   It’s very confusing to say the least. 

* One little story I have to mention, was observing two young people smitten with each other having some small talk outside of the mess. This was a real conversation. It was about 3pm. The ship left the dock.
He: Are you back?”
She: Yeah.
[Clearly she was back]
She: Cool. Are you here?
He: Yeah.  
[Clearly she’s here.]
I don’t know about them, but I felt awkward.   :)

Monday, December 3, 2018

Lieutenant Commander’s Log # 4

The 3 weeks on the ‘Color Line Magic’ ship went rather quickly.  I recalled liking ‘Color Line Magic’ more than the sister ship, ‘Color Line Fantasy’, but I didn’t exactly remember the details of why. It’s been a year since my last contract. It took only a day to be reminded of the details. I’ll elaborate later.  
There were a few familiar faces.  The ships entertainment coordinator is quite animated and fun.  The entertainers are usually asked to board the ship around 10am, and to meet in the Cabaret Lounge. There, you’ll meet the coordinator and given instructions.  Sound check is around 1pm.  The rooms are available after 2pm.  The rooms may or may not be cleaned and ready for full entry.  “The rooms will be cleaned between 2pm and 7pm.”   Showtime is 7:40pm.  
And of course, someone from the cleaning crew will show up 7:00 when you’ve given up waiting and decide to take a shower and ‘what not’ to get ready for the show.  [Knock knock] dripping from the shower. You open the door. “I’m here to clean your room.”  “I’m getting ready for my show, can you give me 10mins?”  I thought 10mins was generous on my part.  “I don’t have 10 mins.”    Now I’m grumbling to myself.  “Ok, 5mins.”  He walks away. I’m out in 5 mins.  First day, that was annoying.

Teaching first time Color Line musician, Aurel, the ropes was fun. But there were a few things I failed to remember. “Huh, I thought laundry was on the 5th floor.”

Since the majority of the crew are Norwegians, every other day when the ship docks in Oslo, crew members are either leaving for a 1 or 2 week break or arriving on the ship from their break. I’m always wondering if someone I know will arrive. Indeed, one such friend did arrive. She works in the clothing shop. It didn’t take her long to add to her list of outrageous stories. Like on her first night back, a guy walks in the store threatening to buy something, then he dropped his pants in front of her, exposing everything.  She’s not the squeamish type.  “I’ve seen it all before.”   She mentioned that inebriated men often will try out clothes in the dressing areas, stripping down to nothing, while leaving the curtain open or half open in the full view of their hardware. Or software.  The old ladies feign being disgusted.  Another guy kisses her hand and then gets back-handed by his wife. My friend’s a character. I’ve noticed how men seem to flock to her, not because she’s sexy, but because, in my observation, she has an old school understanding of men.  She makes them feel like a man instead of a male.  She has a Zsa Zsa Gabor thing about her.  She’s very sweet.

I personally don’t feel like the entertainers are treated well in the bar. It bugs me that I can only get a glass of water if no one is in the room. You know, we’re only the one’s who’s entertaining those who care, and I’m singing 5 sets a night, 7 seven days a week for 6 weeks per average contract.  Sure I can bring my own water, but it’s the principle. Yeah, I bring my own water now.

On a positive note, the staff in bar have expressed a sincere liking to what Aurel and I are doing.  They were surprised and disappointed that our contract was only for three weeks before our heading over to the other ship for 5 weeks. “Give me some water, I’ll come back.”   One of the highlights and the reason why we may have been scheduled for such an odd schedule this time of year could be because the owner’s son wanted me there for his Christmas party. I played for his gathering last year.  I’m speculating.  Last year, he pulled me aside and said many many nice things.  The top brass never does that, because, “That’s what we pay you for.” That was a real surprise.    This year, I recognized the whole gang. All dressed with class and elegance. Most clamored around the piano.  They made it clear their appreciation for what I do, they were also equally impressed and charmed by Aurel. Turns out, the owner’s son is a jazz pianist himself. It was a fun weekend. With descriptions like “World class.”  I mean... I was happy and humbled.   Unfortunately, “World class” can’t get you a glass of water these days.  :)

Now to the next ship, Color Line Fantasy.  Things got off to a rough start. I mean, day 1.   No one to greet us.   We have to track down the sound man. 
I admit, I find Color Line Magic to be a friendlier, less strict environment.  In my earlier posts, I praised their ‘state of the art’ sound system and being extremely pleased with the monitors. That’s all changed. On both ships. Color Line Magic now uses an old Bose system. It’s terrible. The Bose system is ok for close proximity gigs. But it’s hardly high quality.  I couldn’t even get a monitor wedge. I was not a happy camper as it would take a lot skill and thought not to damage my voice because I can’t hear myself as any singer should. Now why aren’t they using their ‘state of the art’ system? Probably because people complain that they can’t hear themselves talk. “Don’t give the musicians water. That will teach em.” 

I survived, but it was more work than it should have been.  I was hoping Color Line Fantasy would be better. From the outset it appeared to be better. No Bose system.  However it was worse.  While they did use the quality house system, the ceiling monitor was far from where I needed it to be. This wouldn’t be a problem if they could turn up the volume. But no...  I pleaded for a monitor wedge, which can effect to overall sound if the monitor is too loud or loud enough to please a singer. Reluctantly they gave me a wedge. It’s almost useless as they won’t turn it up to where I want it. Need it?   You can only hear yourself when the room half full or less.   
During the sound check, the club manager came running over to us and indignantly demanded us to turn it down. If a room is empty, normal, reasonable volumes will seem louder than what it would be if even a few people are in the room. Apparently, all of his experience (of over 40 years probably.)  didn’t teach him this.  The sound man encouraged us to ignore him and continue. The winds were out of my sails.  We haven’t even started the gig yet. AND get this. The bar staff have decibel meters, ready to throw you in the brig if you play even a little over the meter. 5 weeks huh?

Finally after the sound check, we could head to our rooms. Aurel and I were both tired.  What we experienced next was a shock to humanity. :)
My room was so nasty, it was hard to believe that someone could do this, knowing someone will be next in that room to observe it.   Dirty dishes they didn’t return to the mess. Dirty towels, scattered about on the floor and in the bathroom.  There were dirty towels under the bed. I couldn’t believe it. 
I never looked in the toilet, but I was told by the staff cleaner (a very nice gentleman from Colombia), that I was lucky not to have seen what they left in it.  Aurel’s room was almost as bad. They left a dozen or so dirty dishes in his room.  Aurel, not as passive as I can be, took action. He took pictures and reported it. Eventually, I left my room, walk down the corridor passing 5 doors, found the closet with room supplies grabbed a bag, came back to my room and stuffed it with 15 dirty towels that were all scattered on the floor and under the bed.  

We musicians are largely responsible for all the rules and regulations we despise. Some joker left an empty bottle of vodka in his room.  Probably the alien that was in my room. We are not allowed to have alcohol...     Day 1 was brutal.    Let me stop. I’m thirsty.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Lieutenant Commander’s Log #3

So how would I compare the Silja Cruise to the Color Line Cruise? That’s tough. They both have things I like and things I don’t prefer.   
The band rooms on Silja are a lot nicer. I like how there are bed covers for the twin size beds. So even if the sheets are all messed up, just throw the bed cover over it and PRESTO, nice bed. Color Line has that elongated pillow-looking bed cover, that no matter how hard you try, it’s always wrinkled up and messy. I like having my room in order, so it bothers me to have a messy looking room.  Of course, only the cleaning staff will ever see the room and the ‘room inspectors.’ But that’s me.  

The Food? I was much happier with the crew food on Silja. I admit, I ate salads most of the time. But it was nice to see pasta and rice almost regularly instead of potatoes everyday and they regularly had soup.  Believe me, I would have been happy to serve myself two servings of rice or pasta with a little gravy of whatever the meat of the day was. But I never eat like that on the ship. Home sometimes. But never while on the ship. I’d rather have need of a life jacket in the water instead of being able to float without one. 
On Color Line, I don’t do salads much because I don’t care for leafy lettuce with stems. It’s like having a built-in tooth pick. I like gambling with deadly Romaine Lettuce. You really appreciate life if you survive the serving.  I also eat sandwiches more on Color Line because the selection spread is nicely layed out and mayo is easy to find. Mayo on Silja was too much work to find, no one knew what I was talking about. To hell with processed foods.

Also on Color Line, it was so nice getting to see some familiar faces and others who after 3 years of working on the ship, can’t look at you in eyes or face and say “Hi hi.”  I find the Portuguese personal to be the nicest. They smile and they actually will talk directly to me. After weeks of living in almost isolation, you really appreciate these little things.
I often think of Star Trek when I’m on the ship. I recall that Gene Roddenberry wanted the enterprise to display diversity. Diversity is a nice thing to “see”, but there’s another side to it. There are cultures, ethnicities, etc, that will never like each other. Never.  But they are civil towards each other. Don’t let Romanians and Bulgarians spend much time talking about their history. It can get hostile. I’ve witnessed it.  However, I was quite impressed at how much they knew about each other’s history.  Most Americans seem to have lengthy opinions but don’t know much about their own history. Yet, they speak with authority.  Ah... the privileged.

I have one more week on this ship (Color Line Magic), then it’s six weeks on the sister ship (Color Line Fantasy). 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Lieutenant’s Commanders Log #2

I’m on the Oslo-Kiel ship now.  I would have thought that I’d have made a few blog entries before leaving Stockholm-Finland, but I guess one has to be in the mood. And to be honest, when I noticed how few people read the first blog, it lessened my enthusiasm. But here I am writing because I LOVE writing.   Ha, don’t believe that crap. I’m bored as heck. :)

I think Political Correctness has made deceivers and liars out of everyone.  We now politely judge no one, with a smile, while thinking, “I can’t believe that fat bastard just ordered three ‘Whoppers’ with cheese, a # 5 and a Slurpee.”
If you’re a world traveler, there are things you can’t help but notice in people. For example, physical traits, temperaments, tardiness, etc.   Although I keep my distance from people, they do fascinate me upon observation.  I’ve been that way since I was a kid.

I mentioned that on the Silja ship, the band plays on the promenade as the passengers stroll in. You see everyone and they see you. I’m not on a stage, I’m on the floor, so people literally walk by me. Unlike the Swedish, I found that trying to get Finnish folks to smile is a hell of a lot of work, usually in vain. Particularly the women. 
I was beginning to take this personally, but as I got to know a few of the shop clerks who are Finnish btw, they informed me that that’s “What we Finns are like.”  “We have to get to know you...” They mentioned that because it’s usually cold and cloudy, that lack of sun makes them... Finnish. :)  Hmmm. Well if that’s the case, I’d never knock on an Eskimo’s igloo and ask to borrow some sugar.   Vitamin D is a required supplement in Finland.  One of the clerks recommended a book, “Xenophobes Guide To The Finns”.  That should be a good read. :)

I was chatting with a gentleman who was born in Finland but was raised in Stockholm. He recalled as a kid, returning to Finland only to ask his parents if someone had died. “Why do you ask...”  “Everybody looks like a casket exploded.”   

There was this one ship worker who cleans the promenade.  I’ve crossed her path a few times. She always had this blank look on her face.  I decided to say hello. “Hi you.”  “She looked at me with that blank look, said “Hi hi” and proceeded with her work.  She had an unassuming presence and well... I wouldn’t describe her as pretty. But I was determined to try to get her to open up, just a little.   We met in the mess one day, just the two of us were there. I’m not sure what I said, maybe it was, ”Hey baaaaby you shoooo rock the dust mop.”   And behold, she smiled and she became unquestionably pretty.  She proceeded to ask me questions, I was totally unprepared. Down in the mess I never sit with the acquaintances I’ve made. I figure they want and need their few moments of food and relaxation. I didn’t want to take up much of her time, but she kept talking.  I was actually grateful.  I measure a friendship by people who actually talk ‘to and with’ you.    
Now that was a sense of accomplishment.  Shockingly, the next time I saw her, I had to start from scratch. I was so confused. “Hi, remember me? We were in the mess. We sort of talked...” Blank look.  
There’s much more to say on the subject, but I’ll talk about that later.

Once again, observing people, it was hard not to notice a woman in a striking black dress with gold lacings and a rather large bottom.  She sat near the band and was clearly enjoying the music. During a break I sat next to her and said, ”Well look at you. What pretty a dress.”  She didn’t speak English, but she understood what I had said.  I suppose her lack of English might have been a good thing.  
The next day, I thought I saw her again. Same dress, and that large bottom. But it wasn’t her.   
Hmmmm.  A couple of days passed and BEHOLD two different ladies with the same dress and rather large bottoms. What are the chances?  I later learned that that is the attire of the Finnish Gypsies. The dresses are like small petticoats.   Yes. We live and learn.     

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Lieutenant Commander’s Log # 1

 Well, it’s taken me long enough to get around to writing this blog.  Yes, I’m back on a cruise ship in Europe. This time, in addition to my usual adventures in Oslo, Norway and Kiel, Germany, I’ll be spending an extra month on a different ship, ‘Silja Line’, a Finnish ship that travels back and forth from Stockholm to Helsinki.  
I’m singing and playing with a trio. The pianist is someone new to the trio cruise band line up, although not new to working on cruise ships. Pianist Aurel Dragalina, spent 15 years as a band director on the Royal Caribbean Cruise line. Sadly, the new Caribbean Cruise Line insurance policy now has strict rules about weight etc, even type 2 diabetics will not be employed. I think that’s what put the stop to my working for them. After 15 years, Aurel was let go due to being overweight.    

About the band... Aurel is from Romania. Aurel was recommended by another Romanian pianist, my friend, the original ship trio pianist Doru Apreotesei. If Doru says he’s good, that’s all I need to know, and of course he’s VERY good.  And then there’s the world traveling maestro, bassist, Jair Rohm Parker. We’ve played many ‘Color Line’ shows together.  
When I first started doing these cruise ship gigs, I was overwhelmed by ALL the rules and how easy it is for some over zealous power holder to fire you just to confirm their position.   The rules on the “Silja” ship is similar to Color Line, BUT different. For example, on Color Line you always have to wear your name ID. On Silja you have to wear your ID card whenever you’re in the mess, but you’re not permitted to wear it anywhere else. They want you to look like a passenger.  “Hey, ain’t you one of those black guys in the band?” “No. Not at the moment.”   Now this doesn’t seem like too big a deal until someone sees you with or without your ID in an inopportune time. You’ll get chewed out and you’re saying to yourself,  “What’s with the indignation?”  
Instead of performing in a lounge, on Silja, the trio performs on the promenade in view of everyone boarding and or strolling the promenade.  We can see everyone and everyone can see us. It’s full exposure, instead of being tucked away in a corner of a lounge where people have to make an effort to see you and of course they’re not there to see you but socialize and occasionally notice that there’s a live band.  
The ‘Silja’ crew seems friendlier and less stressed than the other ship.  

There seems to be more dining options on Silja.  Color Line has a Cinema. There’s no Cinema on Silja. Color Line’s theater and productions are a bit larger.  However, the quality of the entertainment is top notch on both ships. Both ships have casinos.   
One of the things that really stick out on Silja is the large number of couples with children.  There’s a whole floor just for children. 
Apparently, the older kids are just as addicted to the slot machines as their grand parents. 

Next:  The Finnish and the finish.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lieutenant's Log #18

Lieutenant's Log #18
April 25, 2017

It's hard to believe that 9 weeks have passed with one more week to go. I'm feeling numb. Week 7 was the most difficult. I was feeling anxious for some reason.  

I've changed my eating habits. Since I wasn't all that nuts about the food anyway, I realized that I was quite happy eating salads.  Lunch (my breakfast) is the meal that I might indulge in something solid. I was also curious about my singing after eating something light before performing.  It dawned on me that I was used to singing later in the evening, having time for the food to digest...  but I'm singing earlier shows these days.   Anyway I've notice less phlegm for sure.  
So for me it's a late breakfast (today I had half a ham sandwich), a light salad and a piece of bread before the show and a bigger salad with pieces of chicken after the show.


I've been practicing my guitar in the day, much like the old days. Since I don't live on Facebook like I used to, I can focus better.   I'm increasingly inspired listening to Doru night after night. We're a great team.  It's music first. We both have the noble ability to listen, no inflated egos that's usually bigger than one's actual talent.  
You'd be surprise how many musicians don't listen to what's going on around them. They just play their part and stop when they're done.  Oh the stories...  
I'd imagine most cover bands really need an audience to draw inspiration from, because playing the same things, same solos night after night has to bore you after a while.  One might argue that a jazz band is a cover band as well. However, the
skilled players are rarely musically predictable. Every night something's different and that's the thrill.


Although I'd never say it myself, more than a few artists have described the cruise ship experience as "being in prison." It's not an easy life for an artist. As an artist you're mostly ignored and rarely treated with simply Kindergarten courtesy. As a staffer, true, it's isolated. Not having full internet is cruel.  The food is ok. (It was great on my last trip.) Making friends is almost pointless. No one has time. And the little free time one might have, would rather be spent sleeping or smoking cigarettes. Extroverts have an advantage. Introverts are doomed, especially old introverts. "Hey, someone ought to talk to that lonely old man." "No way, he looks mean."  I do think it's interesting that most of the staff work two weeks on and then two weeks off year round, however artists on the other hand, are on the ship for months at a time and there's not even a message parlor on board. How cruel is that?  Of course I've never asked. Maybe there's some fortnightly wenches on the 13th floor.  :)


Would I do it again?  This may surprise you, but yes. Providing it's financially 'sensible'.   As I've said before, it's work.  I'd consider other options. But there aren't that many, that I can see. 
Folks have mostly given up on music, they don't think they have, but they have. An artist can make a living if people buy their music.  Few people buy music these days.  An artist can make a living if people come to see 'them' perform. People don't go out to see 'them', if they do go out, it's to drink.  
Folks are happy to be in the comfort of their homes and vote for faux artists to be the next star on some TV show.   Blah blah blah.   
Yes, I'd play on a cruise ship again.    

Friday, April 14, 2017

Lieutenant's Log #17

April 14, 2017
Lieutenant's Log #17

I got up and out to go for an Oslo walk, but as soon as I exited the terminal, my body tugged at me. "Hey buddy, it's too cold and damp. I'd turn around if I's was you." 
I decided to listen to my body and headed back to the ship.


It's no surprise that each entertainment venue on the ship has it's own unique experiences.  Heading back to the ship in the terminal there was a troubadour (solo/singer songwriter) performing. Some of the artists on the ship perform at several locations in their daily routine. He was supplied with a nice PA system.  I was impressed at the relentless tips he was receiving. He probably makes a fortune playing in the terminal.  Later he'll be playing in the 'Donkey Pub.' 
The Pub has acoustic singerwriters in the afternoon, and louder acts in the evening. That's where King James (aka Alabama) does his thing along with a keyboardist. Interestingly, they don't do full bands in the pub. It's usually a duo or single artist acts with drum machines and prerecorded tracks. These acts are very good at what they do. The large bands play in the Disco Room.  No doubt about it, the 'Donkey Pub' and the 'Monkey Pub' (as it's named on the other ship) are the real money makers for the ship.  It's where the most beer and alcohol is consumed. Where there's alcohol, there's drunk women flashing their breast and other things for a willing accessory to partake in.  "Are you married big boy?"  "Yeah, well a lot of good that's doing me these days."  
Indeed, the musicians that play in the Pub and the Disco room do really well in tits and tips.

The Cosmopolitan Room or Manhattan Room where I play (as it's called on the other ship), is a different world.  An older clientele.  Occasionally folks are engaged in the music. Mostly it's where the blue-bloods gather and a few jazz buffs.  The women don't flash, but I've had plenty of them blow kisses at me.  Seems to me that the mating call in the pub is the smell of beer. In the Cosmopolitan room it's the smell of money.   No tips. No tits. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Lieutenant's Log #16

April 12, 2017
Lieutenant's Log #16

It's already been a week on "Color Fantasy" with 3 more weeks to go.   The other ship is "Color Magic."  Color Fantasy is actually the older of the two cruise ships. They're practically identical. The folks on this ship seem friendlier, less stressed or something.  

My room is even smaller than the previous room, but I got creative with arrranging my clothes and being able to put my large suit case on one side of the clothes closet to allow for more floor space.  Unlike my other rooom, I don't have access to using the space under the bed because it's blocked by a desk. However, I'm satisfied. 


One day of voice rest helped a lot. However, the dry heat in my current room is giving me other voice issues. A humidifier would be a good idea, but it's pointless to buy one, except if there's money to burn and there isn't.  I don't have the space to take it home with me. I'd have to throw it away or give it away. And sadly, the heating vent in my room doesn't allow me the ole wet towel trick. Regarding phlegm, I guess I should try vinegar.   Blehhhh...


Since the climate is warming up, I've been taking daily walks in both Kiel and Oslo. It was always too chilly in Oslo.  I recall my British friend Simon, who played in the pub on this ship a few years ago, preferred the Oslo walks. "They're more peaceful."  He's right.  They're very peaceful.


Yesterday was a day to remember.  I had noticed that after six weeks, "Alabama's" hair was as nicely groomed as it was when I first met him.  I asked, "Do you cut your own hair?" "No man, these Turkish dudes take care of me. Next time we're in Kiel, I'll take you around and show you some things. A walk on the wild side. We'll have a drink."   

So about Alabama's hair...    Imagine a tall black dude with a natural grey Mohawk with pineapple sides, sporting white eye glasses. An artist for sure.  Alabama is professionally known as "King James." Soul, Rnb, Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.  (He's long ago given up the hard stuff.)  
We met on the other other ship.  I heard someone shout out, "Hey NY!" He was referring to me. There was also another black guy, a classical pianist from New Orleans.  We were since referred to as Alabama, NY and Nawlins.   
Alabama is an ENORMOUSLY talented vocalist, guitarist.  He started out on the "Chitlin Circuit" when he was twelve.  He's lived and still plays all over the world.

Alabama's personality is almost as big as he is.  In his presence, one has to default to either straight-man or sidekick.  I was straddling both roles.  He took me to this one little bar. The place felt like we had no business being there. But again, everyone defaulted to being straight-men and sidekicks. I didn't mention that I'm not a beer drinker, but sidekicks don't complain. I had a beer and listened to one outrageous story after another. It wasn't like he was trying to be discreet, I'm sure the whole bar could hear our conversation.  Doing gigs for and befriending a grand wizard of the KKK was particularly high on the, "You're Kidding Me" list. I really wish I could share the details of our day and the stories, but dear Alabama is not dead yet.  You'll have to wait. :) 

Then he took me a barbershop to get a haircut. I had no idea that was part of his plan. "Take care of my friend here."  The owner of the shop is a 15 year friend of his and the only one in the shop who could speak English.  He translated, "Even it and take a little off."
I must say, the guy cutting my hair was a real artist.  I could see a scimitar hanging on the wall, so I wasn't going to complain about anything. :)   Seriously, it's the best haircut I've ever had.  Alabama's treat.  COOL!
We had to rush back to the ship. It was a great day. 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Lieutenant's Log # 15

I recall raving about the food on my first cruise trip. Which can be a problem, because if you're not careful, eating is the only thing to do when not playing. 24/7.  Not the case this time. At first I thought it was me, but Doru agreed. I don't recall throwing away as much food as I am these days. The good news is I'm eating less. Must be a new chef. 


Speaking of eating, there's this one guy I come across in the mess. A black guy. I'm not sure where he's from. He has the physique of actor Yaphet Kotto.  This is the most unwelcoming foreign black dude I've ever encountered.  Which is strange for a black guy, because black males generally have this kinship when it comes to greeting one another, particularly when there's few blacks around a predominately white environment. There's the nod. Complex handshake. High five. MC Hammer trading cards. Perhaps this is only a Black American thing. 
Though I'm not gregarious, I frequently will say "hello" to strangers I encounter. This guy never responds. I thought perhaps he doesn't hear me.  I try looking in his face as I speak, he avoids my glance. Several times I've spoken to him, getting no response.  Surprisingly, I witnessed him greeting a woman with a kiss to both cheeks and small talk.  No, she didn't have an Afro. So apparently he can be friendly when he wants to. Yesterday I stood right next to him as he was going for the some desert thing, so I sprung into friendly action. "Is that cheese cake?" I got a cold "yeah." Nothing more.  Today, I said hello and nothing.   This really pisses me off.  'Miche, maybe you should say something...'  Yeah sure. All I need is some big black baldheaded jackass giving me a hard time for giving him a hard time.  I wonder if black logic is universal? I have no idea what his problem is.
Maybe I'll throw on a weave and dump my face in some pancake batter. 
There. Now I feel better. Ah...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lieutenant's Log #14

March 27, 2017

Lieutenant's Log #14

It was 55 degrees in Kiel. That's the warmest day yet, but I didn't get out today. My voice needed me to sleep in.  It's hard to believe that it's been 5 weeks already. 5 more to go. I really could use a few days of not singing, but that's not going to happen for a while. 
I might spend an extra week here in Europe gigging in Sweden with Doru. We're waiting to hear from the agent. The last two nights have been more of a concert environment. Folks returning to enjoy the music, totally engaged. It couldn't be more clear that returning to the states is a pointless consideration for me, regarding work. Here, even the agents think I'm... special. When I'm home I can't even get a 'pay me little to nothing gig' at the local Big Tree Inn. I don't even want to talk about Rochester. Yes, I know, the ole '... in your hometown'  schpiel, well it's not like they're not hiring other hometown folks. Anyway, if I could figure out how to stay in Europe, I would, but it's a hard consideration at this chapter of my life, that is, not without key components such as a dedicated agent or manager. 


Since stepping away from Facebook, it's been interesting and refreshing, reacquainting myself with no illusions of having a social life or real friends.  The post election revealed things in people that I found disappointing to disgusting. It reminded me of why I kept my distance from people in the first place.  I now only post my blog or music. There's a few special folks out there, but music is my one dependable friend. We're spending more time together. 


Last night, yet another Norwegian guy, offered his wife or girlfriend to me.  He kept asking me to give her a kiss and she was clearly welcoming the idea.  Indeed another tall attractive woman. I just couldn't do it. Then he decided that he would kiss me instead. He grabbed me and planted one... Actually, it wouldn't have been so bad if he had shaved. The stubble felt like there was a scrub brush digging into my face.  To think that some women some don't mind this at all.
Guys, if you want to kiss me, shave.