Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sea for yourself

After last week's incident on Carnival Cruise Lines, I know those of you who are on the fence about taking a cruise probably think you now never will.....but I encourage you to keep an open mind. 

I would know because I am a cruiser.  Blame it on "The Love Boat". As a country girl growing up watching the show loyally every week for years, it was a voyage in my mind to a much larger world that left me endlessly curious about cruising.

Years later as a volunteer recorder for the Braille Institute I was asked to record a guidebook on cruises. This was a hardcover tome filled with the coming year's annual trips on several international cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas, Cunard, Pearl Seas, Oceania, to name a few. I think it took me several sessions to put it on audio, so I learned a lot reading aloud about cruises all over the world, the ports they visited, the ships features, entertainment, dress code, and all of the various things to do on board.   Some were five days long, some five weeks, better yet a few were months at a time....(what a trip that would be)!  

Celebrity Constellation

Back in 2005, a friend suggested we all go on a Caribbean cruise. My husband and I were living in NYC at the time and going a million miles an hour. A vacation sounded good so we reserved a cabin and forgot about it.  Six months flew by and next thing we knew we were boarding the Celebrity Constellation.

Without the interruptions of our daily responsibilities, we were able to forget about everything. We even skipped the first port and just stayed on the ship, so by the time we hit St. Kitts we were caught up on sleep and ready for a day on an island. After that my memories are a blur of ports, the deep, dark blue of the ocean at night, dinners, shows, sushi making demonstrations, massages, and of course, the best part, heavenly sleep and the gentle movement of the sea beneath.

Celebrity Constellation pool
Since then we have tried to take a cruise every few years, but actually never on Carnival...probably won't start now. Although what happened to them could have happened on any ship. At any given time there are hundreds of cruise ships floating around in international waters and 99% are incident free.

By the way cruising is not expensive compared to a regular vacation. Many people don't know this but cabin prices include meals and shows and there are no cars to rent or taxis to hail on a ship.

I have seen some great shows onboard, especially Celebrity and Princess. They really go all out. Admission is free and you can come and go as you please. Even Second City Improv perform on Princess Cruise Lines.

Most unusual experience for me on a ship for me was running a 5k, for charity on my last cruise. Some ships have an outside running track and I have to say it is such a joy to jog on top of the sea! All ships also have a library.  I never plan  what book to check but just surprise myself. I've read books by Garrison Keiller, comedian Sarah Silverman and ultra marathoner Dean Karnezes, people whose books I have never sought out, but happened along and enjoyed.

My favorite feature of cruising is I don't have to plan everything every night like on a regular vacation. I like spontaneity. Just being able to walk down the hall to dinner, no directions needed or parking spots to find, then walk into a show, no tickets to order, no seating time to plan for. If I want to have a cocktail then I can and not having to worry about driving. Then there's the piano lounge and casino, or just going back to the cabin and drifting off to sleep. The days and nights blend into each other while the sea and island ports lull me into a state of relaxation that's hard to reach on a land locked vacation.


Sapphire Princess (taken on my Android)


Monday, February 11, 2013

Art in Everyday Life



Art is a diverse range of human activities and
the products of those activities.

To me, many things can be practical and artistic at the same time.....

The arch of a doorway, an iron gate, a bridge, a curved staircase, intricate crown molding on a ceiling, a window that catches the light "just so".....whenever I notice something like this it makes me smile and takes me away a bit.

In fact Architecture is often included as one of the visual arts. A perfect example of this to me is The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. On one of my recent visits, I kept having to remind myself it's not a gallery. Sure feels like one to me. A gallery exhibiting....."itself!"

While there I met Photographer, Michael Shaner, who was equally impressed. He was kind enough to share these photos with me I have included in the link below, set to the music of "Lotus Flower".

90 Seconds of Art in Everyday Life







The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, previous blog articles......

http://hollywoodunderdog.blogspot.com/2012/03/time-flies.html

http://hollywoodunderdog.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-story-behind-storywicked.html


www.thesmithcenter.com












Monday, February 4, 2013

Remember SCTV?


Ah yes the golden years...1976 to 1984.  


The comedy powerhouse, Second City, that churned out Dan Akroyd, Martin Short, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, John Candy, Steve Carell, Gilda Radner......is still going strong after 52 years. But many of us remember the SCTV years the most.....
Television shows could get away with a lot more back then as far as taking chances with a skit or an improv. That's because they were run more by creatives and less by corporations. Some skits were brilliant, others crashed and burned, but it was not knowing what you'd get that made it the most fun to watch. I always respected the actors for being willing to "tank" on TV......many of them from the original SCTV have been quoted as saying it was the best time they ever had in the business, there were no expectations and nothing to lose.
For your viewing pleasure a Second City sampler....


Battle of the PBS Stars....Classic SCTV!


Leave it to Beaver 25th Anniversary....Classic SCTV!


Did you know??

Second City Improv lives on through theaters, touring troupes and training centers, featuring but not limited to, Adult improv camp, Kids improv classes, Weekend Intensives - from beginners to advanced, Comedy writing and much more......Chicago, Hollywood and Toronto. 


Several years ago there was also a Second City Improv in Las Vegas. They did a regular show at the Flamingo Hilton and had a local school where I took two levels of ensemble improv. Had a great time, learned a lot, stretched my comfort zone and I have since planned to sign up for one of their weekend intensives in Hollywood....just for a hilarious refresher. 


www.secondcity.com

www.thesecondcitynetwork.com 


For vintage SCTV fans:

Second_City_Television - Wikipedia.org




Second City, a temple of satire......TIME Magazine