Paul and Storm, musical/comedy duo of much awesomeness, compete to see who is more obsessed. Is it Paul and his love for Avatar: The Last Airbender (NOT the movie) or Storm and his devotion to Classic Arcade Video Games? Learn such shocking secrets as Paul’s most desired bending power, Storm’s theory of Pokemon based cultural fault lines, heated opinions on hot dogs, and two long lovely answers to the perennial podcast question “What is happiness?” Recorded live at ConnectiCon in Hartford, Connecticut. As always, thanks to Molly Lewis for our uber-catchy theme song.
Tag Archives: Paul and Storm
I recently returned from spending a week in a giant hotel that floated around the Caribbean. The floating hotel was filled with awesome performers, friends, fans, and employees who wanted to aggressively sell me booze every waking moment.
Everything about the cruise was great. The other performers, the attendees (they self-identify as Sea Monkeys), and all of the events both official and unofficial. Even the things that weren’t necessarily great were amusing. (The staff really did want to sell you more stuff at all times. I’m surprised they don’t have staff members with mini-bars in each individual bathroom stall. It would be efficient.)
I did a brand new show on the mainstage that went really well. It was a light comedy show about all of my flaws as a human being. Stylistically, it’s a Frankenstein’s monster made out of parts of stand-up comedy, storytelling, theater, and drinking beer with friends. I’ve done a lot of different kinds of comedy performance, but this particular beast is the kind of show I want to be doing, so the warm reception was very gratifying. Hopefully, I’ll be doing more performances of the show and eventually recording it.
I also got to record an episode of my podcast Obsessed with my pals Molly Lewis, Mike Phirman, and Wil Wheaton. They were hilarious, insightful, and all-around perfect guests for the podcast, so go check out the beer and pro-tools episode and rate the hell out of the podcast on iTunes.
The kind Sea Monkeys also bought up all the copies of my book and comedy album that I brought on the boat. I performed a live riff with Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy. I played a starship simulator video game called Artemis live on stage. I danced to the mad DJ skillz of David Rees and John Hodgman. I decided Paul (of Paul and Storm) could use some interpretive dance (aka mime humping) during his rockin’ karaoke version of “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” I accidentally walked past the door to my stateroom while entirely sober and the steward pointed and laughed for a full thirty seconds. My lovely wife, Sara, did an amazing job helping the shows run smoothly backstage. Sara and I also had a nice romantic moment when we were terrified by the infamous hanging monkey towel animal.
I could go on and on about the cruise, but strangely the event that gave me the most perspective happened on the way home. (For more on the cruise itself, I suggest watching Greg Benson’s hilarious videos, reading Jonathan’s wrap up or Sea Monkey Alice’s blog post.)
The Sea Monkeys have a kind habit of applauding the performers when they enter the ship’s dining room. When Sara and I walked down the aisle of our packed plane home, two Sea Monkeys quietly, lightly applauded. We had a brief chat about accepting our transition back into the real world.
“We want to yell the thing, but we can’t,” said the Sea Monkeys. The thing was an ongoing joke to yell “SEX PARTY!” during performances. Definitely not the thing to yell on a crowded plane.
But it was a lovely moment to share. The mood on the cruise is very supportive and intense like we’re all members of a kindness cult.
Strangely, the man I sat next to on the plane turned out to actually be a member of a cult.
He was very friendly and not wearing robes or waving a dagger or anything. Let’s say his name was Ed. He was probably in his 50s, he smiled a lot, and told me he owned a feed mill in Amsterdam. He didn’t make any jokes about milling pot for animals. I didn’t either.
After the normal small talk, he told me that he had been in Orlando for a week to learn about approaching the world with kindness.
“That’s nice,” I thought. “I’ve been on a floating hotel doing a comedy/music convention that spent a lot of time celebrating kindness. Maybe I should have an open mind.”
Then he gave me a card for Avatar, the Compassion Project. I looked up Avatar. It’s been described as Scientology-Lite. It was founded by a guy who got sued by the Church of Scientology for ripping off their materials, so he went rogue. To review, this organization was formed by a man who was too morally bankrupt to be a Scientologist.
Ed told me the program had taught him to mill feed for animals in a manner that exposed rabbits to their inner happiness. I am not making this up. Ed wanted me to read a passage from his new Avatar book. It had blown his mind.
Around the same time, a child in the seat in front of us started yelling about how to spell Mickey Mouse. The child insisted that there is no “e.” That it’s spelled M-I-C-K-Y. (Much like Scottish Whisky has no e, so she must be a fan of single malt Scottish cartoon mice.) The child decided to prove she was right by repeatedly yelling “KY!”
I tried to focus on the passage in an effort to be friendly toward the smiling man who believed a bastardized version of Scientology can make bunnies reach their full potential. I was pretty sure I would think the passage was manipulative bullshit, but I might as well be friendly.
This was the greatly paraphrased gist of the passage:
Any text that spreads the message of kindness (like this one) is holy. Anyone who speaks against a holy message is a monster. Therefore, anyone who disagrees with what this book says about kindness is a horrible, evil person.
I finished reading and said, “Okay.”
Ed smiled and said, “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
The child screamed, “KY!”
“That passage changed my life,” Ed said.
“Huh,” I answered.
I decided the best form of kindness I could show Ed and myself was to not go on a rant about how awful and disturbing I found his life changing passage.
Instead, I turned and chatted with Sara for a few minutes. Ed got lost in his book again. The child still screamed “KY!” long after her parents had agreed, “Yeah, sure, that’s how you spell Mickey. Please stop screaming KY.”
A lot of the performers and the Sea Monkeys had spent a week on JoCoCruiseCrazy pushing themselves to try new things. New songs, new jokes, new games, new drinks, new people, new experiences, new and inappropriate times and places to yell “SEX PARTY!”
There was a significant amount of discussion that people felt safe to try new things during the cruise because there was an almost surreal level of support, encouragement, and kindness.
Real, simple kindness. Like, “Hey, you should try karaoke. All we ask is that you try hard and have fun and we will applaud. We won’t lie to you and tell you you’re great if you’re not, but we sure as hell won’t laugh at you or throw things.”
If there is a passage about karaoke in the Avatar books I’m sure it’s vile and manipulative stuff teaching the important lesson that ONLY AVATAR CAN SHOW YOU THE WAY TO TRUE KARAOKE AND ONLY IF YOU PAY US A LOT OF MONEY AND HARSHLY JUDGE ALL WHO QUESTION THE ONE TRUE KARAOKE.
And I have a horrible feeling that the ONE TRUE AVATAR KARAOKE SONG is probably “Free Bird.”
In short, I’m very happy to have gone to my own week long seminar on kindness. One that happened organically and honestly without an agenda. One that happened simply because people felt safe to say, “Hey, is it cool if I try something new?”
And the only response they got from the rest of the Sea Monkeys was a resounding, “Yes!”
Usually followed by a resounding “SEX PARTY!”
I suspect I am not alone in feeling as though I am never really getting enough done. While I try not to procrastinate too much, I do make jokes about procrastinating a lot. When I realize I’m procrastinating, I have a lot of little motivational phrases I say out loud to myself. One of them is this:
“Get back to work, you idiot.”
And if I don’t get back to work, I sometimes follow up with:
“You are a bad and stupid person.”
Then I feel guilty that I’m being so mean to myself and I try to make it up to me by allowing myself to make a joke on Twitter about procrastinating. And the cycle continues.
This year, I decided to actually review my calendar and make a list of (almost) everything I did. Please enjoy procrastinating from your work to read about mine!
I did two shows at The San Francisco SketchFest. CineMadness with Bill Corbett and a short version of my geek stand-up/storytelling show, Comedy of Doom.
I co-wrote an internal awards show for General Mills.
I made jokes on Twitter about procrastinating.
I launched the Obsessed podcast as both a live show in Minneapolis and released the first episode online. There have been 10 live shows that have generated 16 podcast episodes.
I wrote a sketch for a magician.
I wrote and performed (with Shanan Custer) a commentary about smartphones for Minnesota Public Radio.
I did a story with the spoken word collective The Rockstar Storytellers.
I was one of the entertainers on JoCoCruiseCrazy II. I performed a full length version of Comedy of Doom. I was thrilled to get a surprise volunteer named Wil Wheaton for my Star Trek bit. I also played the role of “Ed McMahon” on Paul & Storm’s podcast with Paul F. Tompkins.
I gave a talk in a bar about zombies and Minnesota geek culture for the Minnesota Historical Society.
I made jokes on Facebook about procrastinating.
I performed at the Twin Cities convention Mars Con.
I started working as an occasional writer and performer on Wits. Since March, I’ve written for and/or performed with Tim Meadows, Rhett Miller, Andy Richter, Reggie Watts, Fred Willard, Paul F. Tompkins, Wyatt Cenac, Bobcat Goldthwait, Amy Sedaris, Dave Foley, Mike Doughty, Maria Bamford, and Brandi Carlile. And of course host John Moe, John Munson and The Witnesses, and other frequent Wits performers Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, and Neil Gaiman.
I went out to eat with my wife on her birthday. She mentioned maybe I should write a book.
I made jokes on Google+ about procrastinating.
I did another story with the Rockstar Storytellers.
I wrote and did eight performances of a one person stand-up show about vampires, stand-up, and vampires doing stand-up called The Sad Vampire Comedy Hour.
I wrote and performed a short story as part of a Minnesota Public Radio showcase led by Kevin Kling.
I did three performances and presentations about using comedy to discuss history for the American Alliance of Museums convention.
I did not get around to making any jokes on social media about procrastinating.
I wrote a lot of new material for the book. I edited the material from the stage version. I took photos for the cover and organized all the illustrations for the book. I hit refresh on the Kickstarter page roughly 700 times a day.
My odd little rock band called Math Emergency (composed of a math professor, a public radio producer, a public radio host, and me) played a gig. I played the drums and made jokes into a microphone.
I appeared on the AON podcast.
I made jokes on Twitter about spending too much time on Twitter.
I went on my friends’ annual bar crawl. I only note this because, while fun, going to 13 bars in 12 hours does feel a bit like work.
I appeared on the Vilification Tennis podcast where I cemented my reputation as an Axl Rose apologist.
I did another story with the Rockstar Storytellers.
I did multiple rounds of proofing and editing on the book and we sent it off to be printed. Comedy of Doom was officially published on June 20, 2012.
I wrote the pilot for an animated series version of the web comic Least I Could Do.
I made mean jokes about Google+ on Twitter.
We sent out all the copies of Comedy of Doom to the kind Kickstarter backers.
I attended the big Twin Cities convention CONvergence. I wrote and performed a one person storytelling and stand-up show about romantic advice for geeks called Verbing The Noun. We’ll be releasing a CD and digital download of the show in time for Valentine’s Day 2013. I did a live Obsessed show with Paul Cornell and Bonnie Burton. I did 10 other comedy panels and a signing for Comedy of Doom.
I did another story with the Rockstar Storytellers.
I co-wrote and performed a comedy show called Comedy: The Show with Four Humors Theater on the Centennial Showboat in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I made a quick trip to Los Angeles for a friend’s birthday party. I even wrote something for that.
I made mean jokes about Google+ on Facebook.
I wrote, produced, and performed in an hour long one act play called Nightmare Without Pants for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. Here is a three minute live video preview of the show, in which I perform an accidental magic trick with a pair of rip-away pants.
Due to the stubborn forward movement of time I became a year older on August 17th.
I performed and did some comedy panels at Dragon*Con in Atlanta.
I made jokes about Google+ on Google+.
I was still at Dragon*Con. For one panel, I was challenged to sing “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” I attempted to do it in the style of Nine Inch Nails. It’s a better song that way.
I did a performance at Space Camp with Marian Call, Molly Lewis, Ken Plume, Phil Plait, and more.
Obsessed was featured on iTunes as “New & Noteworthy” and a “Staff Favorite.”
I co-wrote, helped to organize, and performed in a large awards show for the Minnesota theater community called The Iveys.
I did a podcast with the awesome Len Peralta and became a trading card for his Geek-A-Week series.
I hosted and performed at a viewing of the Doctor Who episode “The Angels Take Manhattan” at The Parkway Theater.
I tried to treat Google+ with a little more respect.
I co-produced, directed, and wrote a piece for a theater event called Thirst. It’s a series of short one-act plays performed in a bar. The show had three performances and it was a benefit to fight for Marriage Equality in Minnesota. Here’s the monologue I wrote about Harry Potter and kindness.
I joined The Ladies of Ragnarok (Molly Lewis, The Doubleclicks, and tour manager Dammit Liz) for a leg of their tour. I performed in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Madison. The Ladies also appeared on Obsessed.
I recorded the audiobook version of Comedy of Doom. We’re still working on editing and mastering the hours of audio.
I did another show with the Rockstar Storytellers.
I wrote and performed a ghost story for Torch Theater in Minneapolis.
I played another gig with Math Emergency.
I started a Tumblr account and wrote a thing about Halloween.
I used National Novel Writing Month as a motivation to work on some screenplays. I finished plotting and scripting the first drafts of two feature length films. Now working on second drafts.
My wife and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. The traditional gift is iron. The contemporary gift is candy. We gave one another Iron Man Pez dispensers.
I tried to make fun of Google+ on Tumblr, but I felt like I was kicking a puppy.
I wrote and performed the short story Adult Santa for The New Standards holiday show at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minnesota.
I did another story with the Rockstar Storytellers.
We (and by “we” I really mean my wife Sara and my graphic designer, Matthew Foster) made Comedy of Doom available on Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and many stores in the Twin Cities.
I wrote a story about the grim superhero The Leaping Lord for Paul Cornell’s 12 Blogs of Christmas.
I started writing a new stand-up/storytelling show that I’ll be performing on JoCoCruiseCrazy III.
I started writing another stand-up/storytelling show that I’ll be performing at the Bryant-Lake Bowl in Minneapolis in March of 2013.
I booked guests for Obsessed through March of 2013.
I wrote some stuff that I’ll perform for my annual New Year’s Eve show at the Bryant Lake Bowl.
I made fun of LinkedIn on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr.
I debated whether or not I should write this. I stared off into space and screwed around on social media. I beat myself up about procrastinating. I forced myself to write this. I read it. I thought about all the amazing creative people I got to meet and work with this year. I ran the post by my wife and business partner without whom none of the above would be remotely possible.
Later tonight, I’ll watch some TV, drink a martini, and think about ways to get even more done in 2013.
I’m going to start by coming up with some new motivational phrases.
I think I’ll try:
“Come on, you idiot, get stuff done so you have something to blog about next year.”
“Stop calling yourself an idiot, you jackass.”
And then I’ll hug myself and move on.
Happy New Year’s,
I saw a lot of odd and awesome things at the San Diego Comic-Con. My favorite was this:
Batman taking a walk.*
There were many people cosplaying Batman, but this guy was the best. He was a full-on, bad-ass, Christopher Nolan-films Batman with an iron jaw and cold blue eyes peering out of the darkness of his grim mask.
And he was walking down the sun-drenched marina boulevard.
The boulevard is behind the convention center. Not that many Comic-Con attendees are out there. They came to San Diego to buy exclusive My Little Pony toys and perhaps catch a glimpse of Joss Whedon eating a taco.** They did not come for the sun and ocean. So the boulevard is a mix of Comic-Con attendees and people who just, like, live in San Diego or something.
Almost everyone who passed the Dark Knight felt compelled to say out loud, “It’s Batman!” There are a few phrases in our culture we compulsively say out loud regardless of how obvious the statement might be:
Some tipsy dudes who were not with Comic-Con exchanged fist bumps with Batman. Still overcome with the need to share the obvious, one dude said, “Dude, we just fist-bumped Batman!”
A small child approached Batman. His father bent down, his Comic-Con badge proudly displayed, and said, “If you’re going to take a picture with Batman you better put a smile on your face.”
And he did.
This is my second year going to Comic-Con. Before I went the first time people warned me about it like I was headed to a war zone. Bring your own food! Carry an oxygen tank! Tape your wallet to your flesh so you can feel it being ripped off of your body! Wrap your soul in protective armor to defend from the giant corporate monster that is Comic-Con!
I recognize a lot of the snark is accurate. It is crowded, expensive, corporate, and there’s nothing quite as depressingly ironic as watching a dude dressed as Hawkeye entirely miss the urinal then leave the bathroom without washing his hands.
But I like it.
Both years I’ve attended the convention, the streets of downtown San Diego have been covered with signs proclaiming that Comic-Con is “Celebrating the Popular Arts.”
The first year, I thought this was smooth marketing speak to say, “Yes, it started out as a comic book convention, but now there are panels with LL Cool J about NCIS: Los Angeles. They’re both popular. Just let it be.”
This year, when I saw the signs saying “Celebrating the Popular Arts” I was elated by the word “popular.”
I started my career as a writer and a comedian writing comedy sketches and plays within the confines of the world of traditional theater.
There are many things I love about traditional theater.
The attitude toward the concept of popularity is not one of them. Theater tends to retain a disgust with the “popular” back from the days when almost everything on television was a crappy, repetitive sitcom. Popularity often brings with it the implied suggestion that you are dumbing your art down to the lowest common denominator to get butts in the seats. Of course, all theater productions want to get butts in the seats. So, particularly in small to mid-size theater, the dangerous word “popular” gets translated into “important,” “relevant,” or “Shakespeare.”
So when I saw the word “popular” proudly plastered all over the town, I started thinking about what it actually meant to Comic-Con–both my personal experience of the event and the event itself.
Over the last few years, I’ve been branching out to do a hybrid of storytelling and stand-up comedy around the country. I’ve been writing spec scripts for TV shows and movies and web series. I wrote a book about the wide world of geekdom. It’s the work that has brought me to Comic-Con to frolic in the sun with Stormtroopers of all shapes and sizes.
This year, I performed at the comedy and music geekstravaganza, w00tstock starring Paul and Storm, Wil Wheaton, and Adam Savage. The audience for this show is a big pack of self proclaimed nerds. I did one piece aimed at the target demographic about Star Wars told as a collection of tweets. I’ve also noticed that geeks don’t need every piece of entertainment to be geeky. So I took a risk and performed a story about a time I did some commercials with a bear.
The vibe in the room for w00tstock is incredibly accepting. It’s an audience that is happy to celebrate new people and new ideas. For example, the awesome Bonnie Burton and Anne Wheaton did a presentation about putting googly eyes on things.
Even within the traditional world of geek, things are changing. I went to exactly two Comic-Con panels. One was Geek Girl Fashion. The other was Old White Guy With Strong Opinions About Star Trek. Again, there’s quite a spectrum.
I had meetings about writing for two specific properties. One is based on a comic book about superheroes. One is based on a web comic about a charming dude who likes to have fun and makes the occasional Lord of the Rings reference.
The artists I’m meeting with believe in their art and want it to be good. The business people want the art to be good so it will be popular so they can make money. They are not in the least bit subtle about this and it’s very refreshing from my perspective.
Trying to see it from a bigger perspective, Comic-Con is a huge mash-up of artistic interests, corporate interests, cosplayers, fans, famous people, fans trying to see famous people eat tacos, and people trying to make it in any of the many industries represented at the Con.
It’s all tied together by the idea of popularity. Everyone at Comic-Con is interested in what people like. This brings us back to Batman.
Batman walks down the street and everyone wants to take his picture, shout his name, and bump his fist. They know him. They know his story. He is a part of their lives. Geeks, drunks, kids, grandmothers, even birds seemed to screech like they recognized him. All of his incarnations, all of his stories have had a profound impact on a lot of people for a long time.
Batman is popular.
To put it another way, this dark brooding man who dresses up like a bat to fight crime has made a lot of people happy.
What the hell is wrong with that?
Good job, Batman, good job.
*My second favorite costume was Lazy Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had a lightsaber, a Jedi robe, blue jeans, and some ketchup stains.
**I did not see Joss Whedon eating a taco. I did see Matt Smith drinking beer. At last call, someone bought him another beer. He only took one sip of the beer and put it down. After he left, I was very tempted to go drink the rest of The Doctor’s beer. I am not proud.
I recently returned from being a performer on JoCoCruiseCrazy II–a big floating music/comedy cruise.
In contrast to my musings and predictions here, I now believe the boat is powered by slightly drunk people having fun. Luckily, all the Sea Monkeys (this is the name the JoCo Cruise-Goers have given themselves) were having fun constantly and even managed to have fun backwards when the ship needed to reverse out of a port.
What follows is a collection of words, images, and sometimes links to moving images about my experiences on Drunk-Fun-Cruise 2012. Some statements are true, some are blatant lies.
All of the performers on the boat were talented and lovely people–with the exception of John Hodgman who spent the entire cruise swilling his “youth serum” (full pitchers of an unholy rum-malort cocktail) and screaming at the staff that they weren’t doing enough to defend the virtue of the Oxford Comma.
We had a formal night. People wore fake mustaches and little fezzes. All this boat-moving fun was in honor of Paul F.Tompkins–a kind and funny man, yes, but also a man who has accused me of being a murderer on more than one occasion. However as the old adage goes–“the smart phone camera does not lie!” It’s clear from the photo below which giant blurry head is a-plottin’ to kill some people.
I did a performance of my geek comedy stand-up/storytelling show Joseph Scrimshaw and The Comedy of Doom. I wrote an audience interactive bit called Star Trek: Oregon Trail. To my delight and surprise, my totally unplanned audience volunteer was Wil Wheaton. What followed was funny, but also surprisingly sexy. Do you choose to go on an away mission from this blog and watch the video?
A link to the full video of my show is at the bottom of this post. As you can tell, the majority of Sea Monkeys are cyborgs who have cameras embedded in their foreheads and can upload stuff to youtube by touching a computer thing on the side of their head like they were Lobot from The Empire Strikes Back. (Google image Lobot if you have to, then laugh and laugh.)
I was also honored to play the role of Ed McMahon to Paul and Storm’s two-headed Johnny Carson in this podcast recorded with a live (at least 25% hungover) audience during JoCoCruiseCrazy.
THE CRUISE ITSELF
Being on a cruise is pretty awesome. As you can see from this photo, it’s like spending a week trapped in a generic desktop theme.
That said, cruises are weird. They remind me of the old commercials for Grey Poupon.
Yes, you’re classy. BUT COME ON, YOU’RE MUSTARD AND WE ALL KNOW IT. STOP TRYING SO HARD!
The cruise ship staff does odd and sometimes terrifying things as if to constantly remind you, “this ain’t just mustard, son, this is motherfucking Grey Poupon floating on the sea!”
For example, the stewards make what they claim to be “animal sculptures” out of your towels. As you can see from the photo below, this is not an animal. This is a disturbing baby thing the stewards made after getting high and watching David Lynch’s Eraserhead seventeen times in a row.
In an effort to make sure the whole ship doesn’t get sick at once and pile into the infirmary like it was Groucho’s stateroom, little Purell hand sanitizer squirting units are set up along the walls roughly every inch or so.
Because these stations are everywhere, you constantly see people rubbing their hands together as though everyone is a super villain planning to hijack the boat and sail it to their volcano fortress.
There were around 550 Sea Monkeys on the cruise and another 1000 or so normal cruise-goers. While many of the normal cruise-goers were perfectly nice and charming people, at least half of them seemed to be on the cruise to meet a stereotype quota. Basically, they were angry old people who forced me to reconsider my preconceived notion that “douchebag” is a word only used to describe young people.
Here are a few of my favorite overheard quotes:
“I’ll tell you this right now: if water gets in here, we’re going to sink.”
“I need a colonoscopy.”
“It’s about respect. Let’s go get some ashes for Ash Wednesday. They got ’em at the piano bar.”
“Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger!”
This last quote was said by the window on the Lido Deck that serves cheeseburgers and hot dogs to old men who feel the taco bar is too ethnic. There had been a back up in service because my commie pink-o wife ordered a veggie burger. All of the old men behind us were greatly agitated by this. As we walked away, as if to assert their manliness, four or five them began shouting “cheeseburger!” It was like they were doing a thoroughly American reenactment of the Monty Python Spam sketch.
I got off the boat when we stopped at Aruba and Curacao. Both interesting exotic places. For example, when you get off the boat in Aruba one of the first things you see is a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Little Caesar’s Pizza RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER.
I have honestly never seen that in real America.
To be fair, there are many interesting excursions to be had by cruise-goers who, you know, plan. (One friend went to an ostrich farm and learned the secret dance of the angry and/or horny ostrich.) But no matter how exotic these cruise destinations are, when you get off the boat you are usually presented with a “Little America” shopping district full of gifts for the whole family. Like this:
On Aruba, there was a movie theater playing The Phantom Menace in 3D. My wife and I debated going to see it. We thought it would be a fun way to drive geeks mad.
“What did you do with the precious few hours you had on a beautiful island off the coast of South America?”
“We sat in a dark theater for two hours watching Episode One in 3D.”
Unfortunately, as we approached the box office window we saw it was roped off with police tape. I decided to simply believe that Episode One was against the law in Aruba and we sat on a beach drinking beer instead.
The attendees of JoCoCruiseCrazy are supportive intelligent audiences and very fun people. They took it upon themselves to set up random “unofficial” events. I was invited to join an impromptu drawing circle.
My useless liberal arts degree is actually in the useless field of visual art, so it was great fun to sit under the stars and uselessly sketch the Sea Monkeys. Here’s a sketch of the gentleman who filmed me making filthy Star Trek jokes with Wil Wheaton:
THE MORAL OF THE CRUISE
Everyone involved with the cruise–performers, Sea Monkeys, the terrifying towel twisting stewards–are all truly wonderful. The event is special. As in, it is actually NOT NORMAL. It’s part cruise, part concert, part floating geek convention, part ukulele heavy band camp, and all awesome. If you actually read through this entire blog and enjoyed it even slightly, you would enjoy this cruise and you should go here to sign up for announcements about JoCoCruiseCrazy 2013.
If you didn’t have to Google image Lobot, you should sign up twice. If you didn’t have to Google image Lobot OR look up the Groucho’s stateroom reference, you’re probably the kind of person who would enjoy spending a little under an hour of your life watching a video of me saying jokes into a microphone. You will also be rewarded with a special appearance by the very funny Paul and Storm playing Dumbledore and Tom Bombadil if you make it through the whole thing!
On February 19th, 2012, a boat will leave Fort Lauderdale and sail out into the Caribbean Sea carrying with it the attendees of MURDER CRUISE 2012.
There are several inaccuracies in that sentence, so I will preemptively push my glasses up and correct myself.
Technically, it’s not a boat. It’s a ship. But come on, boat sounds more romantic. Also, it doesn’t sail. It moves under some other power than blowing. Nuclear reactors? Coal shoveling? Perhaps a flux-capacitor? I think it might be a combination of turbines and will power. It’s unknowable without looking it up on wikipedia.
And, no, it’s not actually called MURDER CRUISE 2012. That was a joke started by Paul F. Tompkins on the twitters. It’s actually called JoCoCruiseCrazy II. It’s a big floating geek concert/comedy festival hosted by Jonathan Coulton.
If you’re not sure who Jonathan Coulton is, it’s possible this is the first page you’ve looked at on the internets since 2003. All you really need to know is this: Jonathan Coulton is a nice man who sings songs and makes money doing it. After singing songs and making money on land for a while, he looked around and said, “What if I sang songs and made money in the middle of the Caribbean Sea?” And he did and it worked out, so now he’s doing it again.
The cruise is packed with talented entertainers and I’m honored to be doing a performance on this will-and-turbine-powered geek boat.
Right here and right now, I’m going to make seven predictions about what will happen on JoCoMurderCrazyCruise II and we’ll see how accurate they are.
PREDICTION NUMBER ONE:
There will be a MURDER. Not a sad real life murder involving consequences and human feelings, but a light, festive, Agatha Christie murder where some jackass no one likes gets drowned in a chocolate fountain when the lights go out on the Lido Deck and a bunch of colorful suspects with easy-to-remember names happen to be in the same room.
PREDICTION NUMBER TWO:
We will not sink. Though we will be attacked by a Kraken.
The Kraken will be easily defeated. A Kraken is basically a bully who lives in the sea. We will confront the Kraken about what is missing in his life that he has to attack a boat. He’ll say, “It’s not a boat, it’s a ship.” And we’ll say, “Don’t be pedantic, Kraken.” And we’ll make some quick and funny “It Gets Better, Kraken” parody videos and he’ll go away.
PREDICTION NUMBER THREE:
There is a possibility the owners of the cruise line will charge me extra if I look at the sea too often.
PREDICTION NUMBER FOUR:
I will probably get full-on old man cranky about the use of the word “squee.”
There will be a lot of excitement on the boat and people will want a short, emphatic word to express that emotion. I’m all for that. The emotion, the expression. Just not the word choice.
When I hear the word “squee,” I picture a panel from a Star Wars comic book in which R2-D2 is farting. Big, block letters shooting from the little astromech droid’s backside.
So while I might enjoy the comedy of John Hodgman or the music of Paul and Storm or the stories of Wil Wheaton or the reasonably priced rum drinks at a pirate ship bar on a small island in the Bahamas, I can’t squee.
For me, it’s a matter of respect. I can’t bring myself to say, “I’m enjoying John Roderick’s song. I think I’ll use my mouth to fart like a robot.”
Perhaps this opinion will lead me to be the man that is drowned in the chocolate fountain.
PREDICTION NUMBER FIVE:
I will foolishly attempt to define geek culture to an old woman from Arkansas.
The people on the cruise who are there for Jonathan Coulton and friends call themselves Sea Monkeys. Sea Monkeys are a fun, friendly, and inviting group of people.
There will be many people on the boat who are not Sea Monkeys. They will be confused and alarmed by all the excited people running around singing songs and saying “squee.”
They won’t even know that “squee” sounds like you’re imitating a Star Wars robot farting in a comic book. They think comic books still cost a dime and mostly feature Superman beating up nazis.
At least one of these people will gaze at me across the gaping cultural chasm and say, “Hey, you want to leap across the gorge and explain this to me?”
And I will try. And I will fail.
I will say words like “twitter” and “ukulele” and “bonhomie” and phrases like “no, we don’t all wear glasses, some of us have contacts” and “no, nerd isn’t really a negative term as we’ve made an effort to culturally appropriate the word and celebrate its positive aspects.”
And the perfectly nice woman from across the chasm will say things like “what?” and “huh?” and “so you’re all just getting together to sing songs about the Star Tracks?”
And I’ll use the word “filk” and she’ll think I’m swearing at her.
And I will go drown myself in the chocolate fountain.
PREDICTION NUMBER SIX
Even though my name is Scrimshaw, I will fail to hunt and kill a whale, then carve a picture into its bones. I will drown my sorrows in whiskey and this will make my ancestors proud.
PREDICTION NUMBER SEVEN
The cruise will be awesome. I will grossly overuse the word “awesome” and it will make me seem like a big hypocrite about the farting robot word.
After the cruise, I’ll do my best to let you know exactly how inaccurate my predictions were. Until then, I’m off to pack some shorts that I will not wear for fear of blinding my fellow Sea Monkeys with the pale white glow sticks that are my legs.