Sunday, August 28, 2011

Trivia Team Names

Last week I went to a trivia night at a bar called Bar None on Third Ave. I had met the hostess on the Alaska cruise because she was writing down the questions during the trivia games on the ship. When she told me this was one of her jobs, I said, "That's what I should do for a living."
Anyway, I went to the trivia night she hosted alone. Everyone from work was busy. I went just to see what it would be like and it was fun. I teamed up with strangers. The most fun is coming up with goofy team names. This week I chose the name Justice Legion of Doom, combining the Justice League of America and their worst enemies, the Legion of Doom. I didn't help me win, but at least I wasn't dead last.

In the interim, I have thought of a few other nifty team names:
The New Cyber Mutants
The MacMahon and Tate Secretarial Pool
The World Wide Wicket Secretarial Pool
The Superman Emergency Squad
The Three Husbands of Scarlett O'Hara
Spacely Sprockets
Jet Screamer and the Blast-Offs
Frankenstein Junior and the Impossibles

50 points if you identify all the references.

Alaska Vacation Part Five--Vancouver and Beyond

As Hurricane Irene slowly leaves NY, I finally have a moment to finish the wrap-up of the Alaska vacation. After our cruise ended in Vancouver, Jerry and I got in a cab and realized we had made the mistake of booking a hotel near the ferry to Vancouver Island where his conference would be held in two days. The ferry was a $70 cab ride away from downtown Vancouer where we wanted to hang out before the conference. We hadn't realized it was so far away. We cancelled the reservation at the ferry hotel--the woman at the desk was nice enough not to charge us for it even though it was less than 24 hours before check-in time--took a bus and a train back to central Vancouver, checked in at our new hotel, and walked over Vancouver. Very nice city with a big seaport where float planes fly in and out. We had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant--there is a very big Asian population and saw Captain America at a movie theatre not far from our hotel. (Picture: me in Vancouver)

The next day, we got back to the ferry in the afternoon and took it Nanaimo on Vancouver Island where Jerry's conference was to be held. The plan was for me to get the ferry from Victoria to Seattle and stay over night in the Rainy City while Jerry attended his conference. Just as we didn't realize the long distance between Vancouver and the ferry, I didn't take into account the long distance between Nanaimo and Victoria--a two-hour bus ride and there were only four a day. The first one arrived at the harbor in Victoria just 20 minute before my ferry left for Seattle. Plus would I make it back in the other direction the next day?

After panicing like a baby, I decided to just run from the bus station to the ferry terminal. I had a map of Victoria and figured there were only a few block apart. I just made it and was the last person on the ferry. The ride was nice. Isat next to a Canadian couple who were going to see a Seattle Mariners' baseball game and drank three rounds of vodka and grapefruit juice--and it was only 11 in the morning.

I'm really glad I didn't chicken out because I was able to get on the right ferry the next day in order to make the bus back to Nanaimo. More in Seattle (space needle pictured above) in the next blog.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alaskan Vacation Part Four--Ports of Call

AT SEA, BRITISH COLUMBIA--This is the last full day of the cruise and we are headed towards Vancouver to disembark. Plus the internet is very slow and everyone is complaining. Since the last post we've had three ports of call--Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan--plus a show in the Universe Lounge with Adrian Zmed. Yes the hot young partner of William Shatner on TJ Hooker is now headlining cruise ships. The best parts of the show were the clips from when he was young and muscular. But let's concentrate on the positive. Skagway was this little tiny town, with a quaint little shops. We saw salmon swimming upstream and learned that the last shot of the Civil War was fired in Alaska. A Confederate navy captain was charged by Robert E. Lee to sink Union whalers to hurt the Yankee economy. They had sunk several and when they boarded a British vessel in June 1865, they read a newspaper that Lee had surrounded two months earlier.

Later in the afternoon we took a train ride on the Yukon Railway which took us up to the Canadian border. Everyone else went back to the ship afterwards, but I wandered around. Almost all the shops had closed at 3PM and I hadn't had any lunch, so I had to settle for Rice Kripsie treat at the local Starbucks. Skagway also had the world's only Sarah Palin store--as the lady cashier proudly pointed out. Sister Sarah grew up in Skagway and her dad taught high school as did the owner of the store. There were numerous T-shirts, books, bumper stickers, and memorabilia, all pro-Palin. Outside there a door with a poster of Barack Obama on it and a big sign reading Barack Obama Store CLOSED. I wisely refrained from making any comments to the lady. Obama is disappointing me and the current economic chaos is partially his fault in the sense that he is the Prez and even if the Tea Party started it and they are mainly at fault, he is the parent chaperoning this kids' party. If the furniture gets broken, he's the one who has to pay for it.

That night, or was it the next one, I've lost track, we saw the Adrian Zmed show which consisted of musical medleys from Broadway, the 1950s (cause he was in Grease, you see), Vegas, and clips from his career including Bachelor Party, Dance Fever and that episode of the Love Boat where he guess-starred and was trapped in a state room with 20 women with bad 1980s hair. The dancers and singers were quite good. They did most of the work especailly during a number which borrowed heavily from Bob Fosse's "Sing! Sing! Sing!"

In Juneau, we took a bus for $16 RT to the Mendenhall glacier (the Princess excursion would have been $45) where they also have walkways over wild areas and you can see bear fishing for salmon in the river. We saw plenty of salmon, and only two bears. They were too fast for me to snap a picture. The glacier was enormous and awe-inspiring, pictures don't really do it justice. We passed the new WalMart on the way and the driver joked that civilization had come to Juneau. Once back in Juneau, Mom, Dad, and my brother Jonathan wanted to go back to the ship and Jerry wanted lunch. I was indecisive, but after dithering for a bit I said I wanted to take the tram up to the mountain before time ran out--we only had until 3:30PM to get back to the ship. I'm glad I did because the view was lovely and they had an injured bald eagle in captivity. It was a magnificent bird and I got some great pix which I will share with you once I get back home and download all the pix. This internet is freaking expensive. I think this was the night we saw Adrian, previously we saw the comedian and the ventriloquist both of whom were only so-so.

Yesterday was Ketchikan, the town I liked best of the three. We strolled around the dock and the main points of interest where the many totem poles and Creek Street, a street on a wharf acorss the creek where the bordellos used to be. They were not allowed within the town limits. During prohibition they were also speakeasies so that where the men got their booze and sex. In the afternnon I went zip-lining--Jerry didn't want to--which was pretty scary but once I got into it, it was great fun. We were up 90 feet in the Alaskan rain forest on platforms the size of endtables. In between, we had to walk on a rope bridge like the kkind Jonny Quest had a run across when the villains were chasing him and Haji. I was in a group of six with a mom and her three kids and a lady by herself. Both said their husbands were terrified of heights. We did see a bear and an eagle from the trees plus three reindeer whom they had in a pen. It was a lovely drive along the coast from the zip-line place to the town. The woman cab driver told us about all the bears they got up in people's houses and how even if you're careful with your garbage, they still get in it.

The food has been excellent with delicious desserts and exceptional appetizers. Last night we watched Limitless with Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro (It was boradcast on the outdoor deck on a giant screen, but it was too cold). Also I saw another of the production shows with a Motown theme--only two African-Americans were in the cast. Tomorrow we land in Vancouver.   

Friday, August 5, 2011

Alaskan Vacation Part Three

GLACIER BAY--I'm paying 75 freaking cents a minute for Internet on this cruise ship, so I will be brief. It's Friday and the second full day on our cruise in Alaska. Afetr the last post, we travelled from McKinley National Park to Denali National Park by bus. It was raining heavily in the morning and I was depressed because of the weather, but it cleared up and we had a lovely day in the park, seeing a bunch of caribous. The lodge was like a train station with hundreds of Princess Cruise passengers coming and going. The next day--Wed.--we boarded a scenic train to return to Anchorage for the sea portion of the trip. The ride was ten hours! But enjoyable. We passed through Wassilla again and were informed it was the Duct Tape Capital of the world. They have a Duct Tape dance where everyone dresses in duct tape. Why does this not surprise me?

We boarded the ship in a pouring rain, had dinner at the endless buffet and I saw the welcome show with a ventriloquist who was OK, but not great. Thursday was a relaxing day, but still rainy and cloudy. We played trivia with fellow passengers and lost! Damn! I have been thinking about winning a trivia tournament since my last cruise. I soaked in the hot tub, relaxed and read. We were supposed to see a glacier, but it was too foggy. After dinner we went to the Lounge for another trivia game, but they had advertised it as 50s and 60s trivia--I thought it would be politics, TV, popular cuture, news, etc.; it turned out to be 50s and 60s rock and roll trivia. I should have complained about the false advertising. Of course we lost again. I knew the names of the songs, but not the singers.

Today we sailed through Glacier Bay and saw plenty of glaciers including a huge one called Margery--the same name as my mother. When huge chunks of ice fall off glaciers, it's called calving. I saw Margery calve three times. The sound of all that ice hitting the water was like an explosion. Also sighted were an eagle and sea lion lazing on an ice floe--not together, separate ice floes. On the way out of the bay, we saw several whales. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Alaskan Vacation Part Two Plus Outrage Over the Debt Deal

TRAPPERS CREEK, ALASKA--Reporting to you from the Main Lodge at the Princess Mt. McKinley Lodge in Trappers Creek, Alaska. The Internet is free, so I thought I would take advantage of it. Jerry, my brother Jonathan, and I went river rafting this morning in a pouring rain. We put on layers and layers of raingear including rain pants, boots, hats, and a fleece jacket--it got pretty cold on the river. We saw seven eagles, including one in flight. We mentioned we had passed Wassila yesterday on the bus ride in and our rowing guide said "Don't talk about her. She Who Must Not Be Named" as if Sarah Plain were Volemort, Harry Potter's evil nemesis. When we passed  Wassila on the way from Anchorage, I think we saw the little coffee stand that Kathy Griffin and her staff stopped at on her visit during My Life on the D-List.

After the raft ride, we had lunch in the town of Takleena--I think I'm mispelling it, but the postcard with right spelling on it is back in my room--which was the inspiration from the town of Cicely in Northern Exposure. A tiny little village with lots of cool shops and adventure tourism. We were at the Roadhouse and had a pasty which is sort like Mrs. Lovett's meat pies from Sweeney Todd. Food here is interesting. Last night, I had reindeer lasagna.

When we got back to our rooms, my parents in their room acorss the hall were watching CNN just after the House had passed the compromise bill, or as I like to call it, The President's Cave-In. I am OK with looking at Medicare and Social Security and doing some reform, but I am pretty upset that there is no revenue increases for rich people, not even closing of ridiculous loopholes. The only possibility is this stupid Committee of 12,  but with half of it Republican, nothing is going to happen as far taxes goes. Let's face it, the Tea Party won and I figured out why: they had nothing to lose. They basically said, "Go ahead, don't raise the debt ceiling. Let the country default. Nothing is going to happen." And some of them, like Michelle "Bat S**t Crazy" and this Walsh guy from Illinois who owes over $100,000 in child support, actually believe it. The President could have said, "Give me a bill with some tax increases for rich people or I veto it and if you don't by Aug. 2, I raise it myself invoking the 14th amendment." But the other side genuinely was willing to go over the cliff and take the whole world's economy with them. Now the Senate will have to pass it tomorrow or we default, so you'll get all the Repubs--the women from Maine and Scott Brown are safe to vote for it--and some Dems. 

But I am having a great time, it's wonderful to get away from the heat of NYC for the coolness of Alaska. Tomorrow we go on to the Denali Lodge.