Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lectures and Shows on the Boat

Myth, Geography and History of Messina.

Ron Fiske, a lecturer from Athens State College (USA) gave today’s enrichment lecture, describing the myths, geography and history of Messina, the town we will visit tomorrow. The female monsters, Scylla and Charybdis, terrorized passing seamen in the three mile wide straits that separate Sicily from Italy. When the talk was about how the Gods produced the Cyclops who are also creatures to be feared, I was wishing that Dalton Johnson was sitting by me, for he can separate out the Norse, Viking, Roman and Greek mythologies.

The lecturer did comment that the stories are as fluid as the telling of them and the specifics change with each decade of their delivery, which may be the reason I find them hard to pin down. Mt Etna, a volcano that is still active, still spews smoke and has some lava runs. Messina’s history includes conquering by the Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French and Spanish. And then an alliance with Italy, facilitated by Garibaldi. I had to ask Greg who Garibaldi was yesterday when I was reading his name celebrated in Barcelona square – and now he appears an alliance helping Sicily to make an alliance with Italy. Messina was devastated by early 20th century earthquakes and bombings as recent the Second World War. We will not see much that is old. The more perfect of the Greek, Roman and medieval architecture can be found inland at Taormina, including a Greek amphitheater still in use.

The best part about the Digital Camera Enrichment Lecture was learning that there is more to the photography centre than the pictures of passengers displayed on the walls. There are products to buy there and expert help should you have questions about your camera. I brought along my camera manual, and am hoping to practise taking pictures, but today there hasn’t even been time for the walk with I promised myself I would take every day.

I am trying to follow the old rule – find three things in the lecture that you can think about later, and maybe put into practise. I am going to find the grid line on my camera and turn them on in my pursuit of getting photos with better composition.

I walked up the flights of stairs to the stateroom after tonight’s show ‘The Rat Pack Returns’. The stairs were empty, though I was passed by one man wearing a smashing kilt – it is formal night in the dining room tonight. I remarked on his amazing Scottish kilt. He complimented me on my courage at taking the stairs, but I don’t take too much stalk in that congratulations, since it is a tossup as to whether it is harder on the hips to stand and wait five minutes until six elevators are cleared of the traffic that an on-board show generates; or is it better to take that five minutes and use it climb the stairs.

Thinking about it now, I am only short 55 minutes of the time I dedicated to myself as exercise time.

The performers had such a classy show. The light shone on their patent shoes. The costuming was simple – tuxedos. They simulated the now famous physical moves of Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Their jackets came off, then back on, or the ties loosened, or off, or as in the song, Bo Jangles, a cummerbund on, a felt hat and a haunting whistling tune and the crouching position of a weakened man, ready to sing the prison blues. Swivel hips – that is what they used to say of Sammy Davis Jr., and yes, his feet were always tapping. You know that scene in ‘Love Never Dies’, the one in the early morning bar down by the beach? That simple set appeared on the stage and was the perfect simulation for the drinking songs that the Rat Pack are famous for. Of course we also hear the old Favorites, Chicago, New York, and My Way.

The choreography to the song ‘Bad, bad, Leroy Brown’ made me think of David Camps for David is always wanting to use his fingers as a gun, which his mom won’t let him do. I studied the moves the 3 performers were doing – the arm raised to the square, the fingers as a pistol in the air, the fingers as a pistol scanning the horizon with a long sweeping movement from the left to the right, the fingers as a pistol going into a holster. Smart. I determined I will show David how to mime those moves, but I won’t do the teaching while his mom is in the room. Just let her think he picked that up from the kids on the Grade I playground.

Wyona and I left dinner early. We like to see the evening performance -- twice – once at 7 pm and once at 9 pm. When the singer sang “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”, in the second performance, at the last note, she went down, flat on her back. Two of the male dancers in white top hats and tuxes, then danced across the stage and carried her off the stage. Wyona turned to me and said, “Did they do that in the first performance tonight.” “I didn’t see it if they did and it doesn’t seem an appropriate ending for that song, but what do I know,” I answered.

Greg joined us for the second performance and we sat in our seats afterward, talking about the fantastic performers. The rich mellow sound of the one woman and the joyful performance of the second. We talked so long that when we left just a small group of young performance had gathered in the theatre for everyone was gone. Wyona tripped going up the stairs, making a fantastic save and said to them, “You might have had to save a second woman going down,” she said, “and by the way, how is the woman who fell tonight.”

It was a surprise to us. Just as we were going on stage someone said, “Be careful. There is a body on the stage.” Though less lively when we saw her next, because she had wiped out because of low blood sugar, she was back on stage for the next number.

A lot of drama on a cruise ship!



  1. Watching someone keep over on stage just on the last note of their song was amazing. And she was back out for her next number in 5 minutes. Amazing! The show went on and noone knew it should have been different, except those of us who were seeing the show for the second time.

  2. Now THAT is the true spirit of a performer! :-)