Posts Tagged JoCo Cruise Crazy
At the Presidential Variety Show, and later the Open Mic Night, on JoCo Cruise Crazy 5, I recited my poem ‘They might not be giants.‘ Here’s a video from the Open Mic; pretend I said that ‘I was waiting for the shaking to stop’ was the name of my Taylor Swift cover band.
I brought along some locally-printed copies of this Len-Peralta-drawn poster of the poem, since I figured people would like them, and if they bought the ones on Zazzle they’d have to give a lot of extra money to Zazzle and the postal service.
The posters I printed are 11×17 inches (approximately A3) on 300gsm silk-coated stock, which is really quite fancy and sturdy. Quite a few people wanted them, which meant (since we’re not supposed to sell things while onboard, and I was mostly able to resist the urge to give them away) I had more fruity drinks and other items than I otherwise would have, plus some cash from sea monkeys I saw on land. But some people who wanted posters didn’t manage to catch me at the right time to get one. I have some posters left, which you can order from my Etsy store. (Note: when I wrote this post originally, I was temporarily in New Zealand, and it was economical for me to send posters to the US for a lowish price. That is no longer the case, so I have updated the post with a link to my Etsy store which has the correct postage from Austria.) If you’re in Europe, the combined price is slightly lower than from Zazzle while still giving me a bigger cut and getting you a better-quality poster. It is of course better value for both of us if you order more than one at a time, since the postage costs the same amount for multiple posters unless you’re ordering a ridiculous number of them. I’m not a warehouse full of elves, nor am I on my home turf at the moment (update: okay, now I am), so I can’t make any promises about how soon I will post posters after you order, but I’ll do my best. Feel free to order from Zazzle if you prefer elven reliability.
If you want me to sign it or write some kind of message or doodle in the small area or empty space, say so in the message to the vendor when you check out (update: I am not sure if there is a way to do that on Etsy, but contact me here, on twitter, on Etsy or something). Please note that I have not settled on an official famous-person-style autograph yet, so results may vary. Also, my doodles are the doodles of a poet, not those of Len Peralta, so don’t expect them to match the quality of the rest of the poster.
If I gave you a poster on the ship and you didn’t have anything to give in return, you can donate something:
Or you could lend some money on Kiva and join the Sea Monkey team I created yesterday. I don’t have a day job at the moment, so I am no longer promising to lend poster proceeds on Kiva before using them, but I probably will anyway as long as I have enough savings to live on.
Many other things also happened on JoCo Cruise Crazy, which I might summarise when I have time. I have a lot of video to upload when I eventually get home. For now, here’s The Future Soon a cappella and Jim Boggia’s cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Junk’.
On JoCo Cruise Crazy 2, Paul from Paul and Storm sang Storm’s signature karaoke song, Come Sail Away by Styx. On JoCo Cruise Crazy 3, Storm sang it. I edited my videos of the two performances together to show Paul and Storm both singing the song at once, because Paul and Storm are so good together.
JoCo Cruise Crazy 5 is coming up, and if you want to sign up for it, it’s best to do so before the end of the month, while the full range of stateroom types is still available.
While editing this, I came to the conclusion that Styx missed an opportunity to rhyme ‘virgin sea’ with ’emergency’. ‘Emergency’ doesn’t have that many single-word polysyllabic rhymes, and it probably gets rhymed with ‘urgency’ far too often and ‘insurgency’ far too rarely, so if you’re going to go to the trouble of making a strange combination of words such as ‘virgin sea’ sound natural, you could at least give ’emergency’ the interesting rhyme it deserves.
This is only my second video made in Final Cut Pro X rather than iMovie. The first was a video of the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center, which only had some of the fancy transitions and titles. In this video, however, there is almost nothing that I could have done in iMovie. I learnt a lot. Here are the main things I learnt, in case anyone else needs to know:
- Final Cut Pro can do a lot. All the things I wished I could do in iMovie, and more. Consequently, there’s a lot to learn.
- Using Final Cut Pro, gonna need a lot of keyframes (to the tune of ‘Peaches‘.)
- If you want to change the position of a clip at a constant speed, which you need to do if you want to move it in sync with changing the cropping of it (which I did to pan over the video of Paul; normally something like this could be done using the Ken Burns effect, but as far as I know that only works when the aspect ratio is the same as for the whole video) all the transform keyframes have to be set to Linear, even when the previous keyframe has the same position. They are Smooth by default. To change them to Linear you have to right-click (okay, two-finger tap; do people still use mouses?) on them in the viewer, and if there are multiple keyframes on the same point, you can only change the topmost one this way, which is the latest one in the timeline. So it’s best to create keyframes in order and set them to Linear as soon as you make them; otherwise you may need to temporarily change the position of a keyframe so that you can right-click on it to change it to Linear.
- If weird green frames or other green bits appear in your video in Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3, you need to delete the render files for that project and then wait for it to render again. Going by the solutions I found on the internet, in older versions of Final Cut Pro X you had to do this manually in the Finder.
I’d like to thank Cayenne for not only supplying the karaoke library used on the cruises, but also helping me figure out which of the two videos had the most accurate length for the song — they were shot with two different cameras at different frame rates, amounting to a four second difference in song length and a lot of trouble synching them up. Also, thanks to Tyler for the second pair of ears when I had trouble captioning a few parts.
In other news, I also put up video of the presentation of the Launch Pad 39 complex from a tour I went on at Kennedy Space Center in 2013, and the Jurassic Park ride at Universal from the same year. These are the kinds of things you can see if stop by Orlando on your way to or from JoCo Cruise Crazy.
I’ve also been reciting a lot of my poetry at Open Phil and Open Mic 2.0. Some day I’ll know enough of it well enough to put on some kind of show of my own. There will probably be an Open Phil on JoCo Cruise Crazy 5 too, because awesome things attract.
I recited a revised version of Ten Minutes a Day at the JoCo Cruise Crazy 4 open mic, because it’s about how to start doing the things you’re passionate about when you’re not in a position to literally quit your job like all these JoCo cruisers did. I introduced it with some quotes from John Hodgman from this video, which can be seen with more context in the JoCo Cruise Crazy 2 Q&A.
Here are the words I intended to say:
Ten minutes a day:
that’s all you need
to realise your dreams —
not as hard as it seems!
Ten minutes can always be freed.
Ten minutes a day,
a sixth of a clock,
to keep up your writing,
the forced march providing
the force to march through writers’ block.
Ten minutes a day
can’t be denied,
to read through your bookshelf
and castle your rook self,
with culture of kings by your side.
Ten minutes a day,
one day at a time.
To inch past the worst of it,
combat inertia that
nothing excuses, must try if it uses just
ten minutes a day.
Don’t you forget
to learn a new language:
word spread, grammar sandwich.
Ten minutes to keep your tongue wet.
Ten minutes a day,
not big amounts,
to work on your fitness;
don’t tire yourself witless,
but even a small workout counts.
Ten minutes a day,
on or offline
to maintain your friendships;
accept rain, and send drips,
as long as it’s something, it’s fine.
Ten minutes a day —
find it somehow!
Deny social network fun;
finally get work done.
You’ve got all these things to make, it’s really not hard to take
ten minutes a day.
That’s all you do.
To try meditation —
You have to take some time for you!
Ten minutes a day;
it doesn’t take long
to tidy a tight space,
put junk in the right place,
and live with things where they belong.
Ten minutes a day;
put down those chores
to teach well your baby;
remember that maybe
its life will be bigger than yours.
Ten minutes a day?
I can do that!
Grab life while I’m alive!
Did all the things, and I’ve
got what I’m leaping for now,
and I’m sleeping for
ten minutes a day.
That’s all I need. [yawn]
Night dreams are boring,
my real dreams are [sound of snoring]
The main change since the last version of this poem is that I replaced ‘if you’ve spread spores’ with ‘put down those chores’ and moved that stanza nearer the conflicting advice to tidy up, because in the end it’s all about conflicting advice. The ‘spores’ line always seemed like grhyme scraped off the bottom of a barrel anyway. Also, people might take offense at my likening parents to fungi (not that there’s anything wrong with fungi), and if they’re going to take offense at my views on reproduction, I’d rather they react to The Family Tradition.
I’d recited an earlier version of this at an open mic in Geneva, which went well: my stated goal for that performance was to make the audience yawn, and I succeeded. But I was nervous that people would think it was over when it wasn’t, so I started the last few lines while people were still laughing too loudly about the previous ones to hear me. It’s a good problem to have, I guess. So my goal on the cruise, aside from getting all the words right (I got six words wrong, but they weren’t the most important ones, and I don’t remember whether ‘sleep dreams’ instead of ‘night dreams’ was a mistake or a premeditated improvement) not hesitating or rushing too much, and not dropping entire lines or displaying as much high rising terminal as I did at the last JCCC open mic, was to wait until the laughter died down before continuing with the last few lines. I succeeded! Achievement unlocked: elementary stagecraft.
My dictionary says that ‘stagecraft’ doesn’t mean what I thought it meant, but I’m sticking with it because ‘stagecraft’ is only two letters away from ‘spacecraft’. It’s a pretty cool thing to have. On the subject of spacecraft, I highly recommend seeing Atlantis on display at Kennedy Space Center; the way they show it to you is great. I’ll put up my video of it later.
While practising the poem, I got pretty self-conscious about the corny/overwrought rhymes, and wondered whether it was worth wading through them to get to the laugh line. Oh well: stagecraft! Jack Conte from Pomplamoose was hosting the open mic, and I think he is made of stagecraft. Hank Green was also hosting, but he made it pretty clear that he is made mostly of quarks. Hank Green, we’re not so different, you and I.
A few people who heard this poem at open mic have told me they were inspired by it, and are making progress on various projects because of it, and that’s great. But when I wrote this it was out of frustration with the idea. It always takes more than ten minutes, and there are always other things to do in the day, and if I try to do more than a few of these ‘ten minute’ things there isn’t enough time for sleep. Maybe I need to be stricter about stopping when the time’s up no matter whether I feel like doing more or am still waiting for my nearly-five-year-old Mac Ayu to let me start. I put in the ‘teach well your baby’ stanza almost as a joke, because I’m amazed that people with children have time and energy to do anything else at all, and yet they are told to spend just that wafer-thin amount of extra time doing each of several conflicting things to raise their children better, as well as all the other things. If you really only have ten minutes a day for a child, consider spending them on contraception.
The spontaneous Mr. Creosote reference in the last paragraph made me think of this extra stanza:
Ten minutes a day:
it’s just wafer-thin!
To add to your total,
Conserve it, but don’t hold it in.
Which is kind of gross and kind of negative, but if you have something you want to create, and you just spew out whatever you can in ten minutes, it’s better than forgetting about it or using up mental energy fretting about forgetting it. If time is your nemesis, fight it with emesis.
My last post here said that JoCo Cruise Crazy would have a ball pit. Due to hygiene regulations, that ball pit became an imaginary ball pit, but there were still at least two real ball pits on the ship. The one I brought was sewn onto my pants for the annual Fancy Pants parade. Anyone who wanted to get into my ball pit would have to at least buy me dinner first.
I did, however, flash my balls at people occasionally:
Ultimately, giving such a ‘special show’ to the Monarch of the Seas, Queen Courtney, won me a trophy, and the title of Best In Terms of Pants. Here’s the video of the parade from my own camera (expertly wielded by Simcha, who also took his own videos of the cruise), showing my humble beginnings and triumphant return:
And here’s a video from an angle that shows the rest of the parade well. You can almost see that when Jonathan Coulton is walking around humming God Save the Queen, I flash my balls at him and make him laugh a little:
I thought I had some fancy pants, and now I know it’s true. I looked at all the fancy pants and held the trophy high:
Everybody cheered, but I swear by Coulton’s beard, that everybody had the best pants. For while it may not seem like it from the fact that I was wearing toys bought from a baby store and making jokes about balls, I am mature enough to understand that the key to happiness cannot be in supplanting someone else’s pants. Chances are you’re best in everybody’s pants. There were shiny pants, blinking pants, gumbo pants (I liked them, and he did put a ring in it), squid pants, wrong pants and right pants; you can see some of them up-close in Atom Moore’s gallery.
Some of the balls were less securely attached than others, causing a wardrobe malfunction whereby a few of my balls fell off during the parade. This was fun, because I could throw them to my adoring fans (of which I have none) in the hot tub at the end of the catwalk. It looks like they were thoroughly examined. I’m told the people in the tub chanted ‘ball pit pants!’ to correct Her Majesty’s proclamation of ‘balloon pants’. Off with their heads!
The fancy pants parade was followed immediately by a movie night, which was followed by a concert. As I made my way to the concert, I heard that somebody had already added ball pit pants to the life-sized Lego statue of Jonathan Coulton that brick artist and JoCo Cruise Crazy 4 performer Nathan Sawaya had unveiled earlier in the week and left in the game room to be embellished. I was honoured!
The guy who took that photo got a bit creative with the later shots.
Some people wondered how I made the pants, and some did assume I’d used balloons, due to the difficulty of attaching and transporting balls. But they are, in fact, balls. I started with some old jeans that were starting to fall apart. After searching for playpen balls in the toy sections of various stores without success, I finally found some at a store called Babywalz, and bought two hundred. They were for babies, and definitely not the crush-proof kind Randall Munroe recommended for adults. As such, they were made of a quite supple plastic that was easy to get a needle through, so I could sew them on. At first I only attached them with one stitch each, and these were probably the balls that fell off during the parade. We each got a single playpen ball in our swag bags when we boarded the ship, but those ones were harder than mine and wouldn’t have been easy to sew. The swag bags also contained the pants/squid/robot/monkey playing cards that the one pictured comes from; while this post is not technically part of Writing Cards and Letters, I couldn’t resist using such a card. The pants cards were designed by Katie Rice.
I used nearly a hundred balls to cover the front, outer sides, and back lower calves of my pants. I left the other parts ball-free so that I would be able to sit down, and wouldn’t have to splay my legs apart to make room for my balls, as I have little experience in that. On the backs of my legs I sewed some coloured foam circles I found in the craft section of a bookstore… not as many as I’d intended to sew, since I only remembered to do that on the night before flying out.
The balls were not crush-proof, but as Randall Munroe warned us, there still wasn’t really a way to compress them for transport. My pants filled that third of my suitcase that I usually struggle to fill without going over the weight limit. As I continued my vacation to Kennedy Space Center, Chicago (including Fermilab) and MarsCon, I accumulated more and more souvenirs, and my victorious balls got more and more crushed. I still showed the pants to a hot-tub full of dementites at MarsCon, though, and once again threw some balls in for playing.
The tutu was a birthday gift made by my mother; if you like it, and you live in New Zealand, you might be able to get your own. The ‘great tits’ T-shirt (entirely necessary to balance the inevitable ball jokes) was from an ornithological society which has since sold its domain name to a more lucrative enterprise.
The other ball pit was created by Christopher Badell (not pictured), one of my thirteen roommates in the Presidential Suite, and also the official sponsor (in the name of his company, Greater Than Games) of the imaginary ball pit. He brought a few hundred balls to float on the surface of our suite’s private hot tub, which were fun to play with on the only occasion I had spare time to sit in a hot tub. There may be video of that later from another of my roomies (or ‘suities’, I guess.) I added a few spare balls from my pants to that hot tub as well, making a total of three hot tubs graced by my balls.
On JoCo Cruise Crazy 3, xkcd’s Randall Munroe told us all about the ball pit in his apartment, and finished by telling us how much it would cost to fill the entire ship with playpen balls. Somebody in the audience asked if we could have a ball pit in the game room next year. Some time ago, the powers that be announced that there will indeed be a ball pit in an inner cabin on JoCo Cruise Crazy 4. Later it became clear that this was all just a ploy to help Paul and Storm fulfill Kickstarter rewards for their next album, Ball Pit, but I’m not complaining.
Randall Munroe also told us how long we could survive if JoCo Cruise Crazy 4 were filled to the top with meat, and then how long we’d survive if we only had the other cruise passengers (which are conveniently made of meat) to feast on:
I’ve come to realise that this would not be a good idea to implement on JoCo Cruise Crazy 4. That is to say, it has the potential to be more awesome than we realised at the time, but it would considerably disrupt the programmed entertainment.
A few days ago, Randall made some calculations about the number of humans required to sustain a Tyrannosaurus rex. Apparently only half an adult a day. If there were a single T-rex on the cruise, then given the ratio of Sea Monkeys (JoCo Cruise Crazy attendees) to other passengers and crew, a Sea Monkey would have less chance of getting eaten by the King of the Tyrant Lizards than being chosen Monarch of the Seas.
However, assuming Randall was using short scales when he said ‘six hundred billion calories’, if the entire ship were filled to the top with meat, that would be enough to sustain a population of 2.5 million (2 500 000) T-Rexes for the duration of the cruise. And one of them would sleep in the meatball pit.
For the Ace of Spades I posted a music video incorporating some footage shot on JoCo Cruise Crazy 2, so for the Ace of Hearts, here is a music video I made with the help of a lot of sea monkeys for Mara Levi‘s song ‘She Went to Pick Flowers‘ during JoCo Cruise Crazy 3.
It was filmed on Coco Cay, St. Maarten, and the conference center (game room, for us) on board the Freedom of the Seas. While it’s a little ironic to film a video for this song during a luxury cruise, we had all the appropriate scenery available and I really wanted to share the song and hopefully get Mara some more fans. If you like the song and think Mara should have a few flowers, please buy it or other Mara Levi music, and maybe also support Mara’s band The Pushovers in making their first album together. And if you really like her, I certainly wouldn’t complain if you requested her for JoCo Cruise Crazy 4.
I got a lot of help from other Sea Monkeys (JoCo Cruise Crazy attendees) to make this, some of whom showed up and rescued the project right when I thought I’d never find the time or people or locations to pull it off. I didn’t even get everyone’s full names, so if you’re in it and would like a proper credit, let me know. I hope my amateur video editing does you justice.
My star Cass (‘she’) for example, showed up out of nowhere right when I thought there’d be no time to do it, with a rental car to get us to the beach, and agreed to be in the video with no prior knowledge of the song or of me. And when I was held up on Coco Cay because (having been Half Moon Cay where everything is paid using the ship’s room card) I didn’t realise I’d need cash to get my hair braided, another Mara Levi fan let me into the cabana area to film there instead of on the beach where I’d have made ‘old houses’ out of sand. The drawing and origami are by cartoonist Lar DeSouza, and I bought the flowers from flauxers, which is run by another sea monkey who also happened to end up in the video as a tenant. I had been confident from the beginning that some sea monkey would have a top hat they could lend me (there’s a whole ‘monocled monkeys’ group) but it would have actually been difficult to locate one had Robert not been wearing one from the beginning. A few more names are listed in the video description. I’m also grateful to the people who wanted to help but didn’t manage to meet me at the right places or times because I’m not very good at organising things and I didn’t get to the beach for long on Coco Cay.
Mara Levi says she loves it, in capital letters with three exclamation marks, so I’m calling it a success.
Flowers for everyone!
Here is yet another parody of My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music, this time about some of the interesting people I met on JoCo Cruise Crazy 3 — not even including the official entertainers. I could fill several more verses and link to more examples of some of the descriptors; Sea Monkeys really are diverse, yet we have so much in common. I’ll add more links to explanations of the various people as video goes online. Some of these links relate to previous cruises, but the same kinds of people were on the third.
Beardos and weirdos, who cares what the norm is?
Queer folk, craft beer folk and chiptunes performers [substitute ‘standup’ or ‘improv’ or ‘nerd rock’ here if you like; they were all there]
Coders and yodas and soda geeks too
All folks I’ll miss now that crazy week’s through
Now if I may blow my own horn (which is probably out of tune) a bit more, here are a few other things I did on the cruise which I’m quite proud of. After using Mike Phirman‘s song Chicken Monkey Duck as mere word fodder to illustrate grapheme-colour synaesthesia and binary trees, as the cruise approached, while I was procrastinating from practising the poem I planned to recite for the open mic night, I finally got around to actually memorising it. Then on the cruise, I had the honour of singing it with Mike Phirman himself, and made one mistake (a monkey instead of a chicken; I am not counting singing the album version instead of the video version he does live, which has an extra pause in it, as a mistake), which I’m going to say was for the purpose of wabi-sabi.
Mike said nobody other than him had memorised that much of it before. I’m sure I’ve seen people doing it on YouTube, but perhaps they were reading the lyrics.
Later in the cruise, I recited my poem about Star Wars during the open mic, feeling justified in using Chicken Monkey Duck as an excuse for the inevitable mistakes (this is how it should have gone.) Still, it’s better than choosing a poem on the night and then reading it, as I did last year.
Mike Phirman (who, in case you were wondering, had said earlier that when you go on stage your body shuts down its vital functions and ‘you can really, really, really have to pee before you go on, and then you walk on stage and your body goes into like war mode, where it’s like, ‘There’s no time for that! We are at war!”) said it was awesome and Paul Sabourin commended my nerd pandering, so I’ll consider that a success! Sure, they’re pretty much paid to say that, but they’re paid to say it partly out of my pocket, so I’ll take it.
There’s one other creative thing I did on the ship, but that’s worthy of being the Ace. I will post it very soon.
Here is some advice on preparing for JoCo Cruise Crazy, to be sung to the tune of My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music, because the cruise is one of my favourite things:
Memorise bios and work of performers;
make sure your stateroom and friend group’s enormous;
map out free WiFi at each port of call;
learn not to sleep so you won’t miss it all.
Practise for open mic and karaoke,
and to meet idols without sounding croaky.
Pack things for signing and panties to throw,
then you’ll be three-quarters ready to go.
I repeat: it’s all unneeded;
do what piques your geek,
then bring any meds that you need to survive
and you’ll have an awesome week!
One of the things on my pre-cruise to-do list is ‘write something for the Queen of Clubs’, but I couldn’t think of anything but my pre-cruise to-do list, so this is what I wrote. You can do all sorts of planning and preparation for the cruise, and it’s fun to do it, but even if you do nothing more than get to the port on time with clothes on and the relevant documents, you’ll have a shipload of fun. More advice, especially for first-time JoCo cruisers, can be found on Alice’s blog.
But of course, it all depends on what you mean by cause:
But, although it may be in poor taste, when I think about that comic I can’t help thinking of this song by The Arrogant Worms (note that the lyrics on their website seem to have been transcribed by an automatic speech-to-text program or non-native English speakers on Mechanical Turk. Listen to the song if you want to know what it says.)
This was another week when I didn’t even deal out all of the cards, and started working on something on Saturday that I’d been thinking about for a while. The card which I figured gave me an excuse to do it was Lutetium, which is used in cancer fighting.
Do you know what else is used in cancer fighting? Protons and carbon ions, accelerated to high energies. I work on control systems for an accelerator that will do that. Here you can find slides and video of a CERN summer student lecture about that from 2011. There’s a more recent one from this year, but it looks like there’s only a video from part 2 and not part 1.
The font is Humor Sans (not Comic Sans! I never worked for the ATLAS experiment) and the harsh straight lines in my first remix were a bad idea.
Last Ace of Diamonds, I stalled for a week by posting a video of a poem I’d written previously. I’m not sure if I’ll have the real Ace of Diamonds done in time, so I’ll do the same again. The real Ace of Diamonds, which I will publish as soon as it’s ready, is a a sequel/prequel to the last real Ace of Diamonds, and it’s also about stalling and procrastination, which seems appropriate. This is me reading my poem Chemistry (which was the two of diamonds, and already has a video) at the open mic night on JoCo Cruise Crazy 2:
And here’s a more close-up video of it that Jason recorded:
I sure am stalling a lot this round. It’s embarrassing considering I started with something I really like that was done in time. But hey, I still have an hour till the deadline, so maybe I’ll get the real Ace of Diamonds done in time anyway. If you’re wondering why I’m onto diamonds now when I went from Spades to Hearts last time, it was simply the next card in the first deck I looked at.
In other news, here are some things that music lovers in Europe might want to do:
- Back Marian Call’s kickstarter or otherwise support her European Adventure Quest to get Marian and her very talented guitarist Scott Barkan playing in your country or even your living room. If you want to know what she’s like and somehow find video more appealing than downloading music, you could watch my videos of her two concerts and Scott’s concert on JoCo Cruise Crazy.
- Go see The Burning Hell if they come near while attempting to break a record by giving concerts in ten countries in 24 hours. If you want to know what they’re like, you could watch the videos I’m currently uploading of them at Viertel (my favourite concert venue on land) where they will return for the world record tour.
- Keep an eye on Jonathan Coulton’s tour schedule, because he’ll be at Union Chapel (my second favourite concert venue on land) in London on September 20, and will no doubt visit other places in the UK and Europe. If you don’t know what he sounds like yet, you haven’t been paying attention; pick a video from my YouTube channel at random and he’s probably in it.
I know I’ll be doing all three things.