Saturday, October 11, 2014

He's BACK!

I’ve strayed. I’ve cheated you, beloved reader. I’m sure by this time you’d completely forgotten me, and now I’m back in your life, stumbling upon my overseas musings like spotting your ex in the same subway car as you. Do I say hello? Do I look away? Do I get off arbitrarily at the next stop and then kick myself?
I’m sure I’d personally walk up, attempt to say hello, and then just blurt out a noise along the lines of “merh” and then pretend to intently make sense of an insurance advertisement before an awkward eye contact that would result in some form of failed hello and a cross between a handshake, a hug, and a mild seizure. But I won’t give you that option, because we’re not on a subway. We’re on the internet, and I will frankly have no clue if you’ve read this unless you report to my mother and she informs me that you either think I’m funny or that my photos are nice. Either way, I’ve made quite a mess of this intro by now, so I suppose it makes sense to just move on at this point (perhaps getting off arbitrarily at the next stop would have been the best option).

The Token Yank is back! Today I’ll be giving you an example of a day at sea. Next, I’ll introduce you to the ship. And then, with a bit of time, I’ll show you a few of our amazing ports of call and tell you about all they have to offer. And here and there I’ll throw in some more fun English culture.

Life at sea, in a nutshell, has been great. For those that know me, I am an optimist through and through that makes the most of every situation. And Queen Mary 2 has proven to be no exception! So as a quick little intro to ship life in general—it’s very easy to fall into a pattern. Sleep in, wake up for lunch, watch an exorbitant amount of Game of Thrones, do a show every few days… Wash, rinse, repeat (I think that’s the right order, but don’t quote me). Yet with my lack of experience watching television during over the past few years combined with my love of reading and fresh air, this simply didn’t seem plausible. So here is an example of a schedule for a typical day in the life. Side note, the ship works in military time, so that’s how I’ll be explaining my adventure.

9:30—WAKE UP.
10:00—Breakfast. Omelet to order, some muesli, or the full English… the options are limitless.
10:30—Guest Lecture. The variety is exceptional. Everything from the history of musicals, environmental crises, the royal family, presidential administrations… Always learning!
11:30—READ! I’ve read quite a bit on this ship. The QM2 is home to the largest library at sea, and I’ve had a great time taking advantage of it. Biographies, classics, thrillers, trashy fiction… I’m spreading my wings.
14:00—LUNCH. Always tasty options available, embracing British cuisine (which is essentially fried fish, potatoes, and Indian cuisine) as well as American classics. Healthy salads or binging on pizza and burgers depending on the day/ workout regimen has proven to be just as exciting as it sounds.
15:00—Dexter or Game of Thrones (nobody’s perfect).
16:00—Afternoon tea complete with scones, sandwiches… the works.
17:00—Rehearsal. We always do a tech run before our shows in the evening, and get notes from our dance captain to keep everything fresh.
18:00—Small dinner/ snack to prep for…
19:00—GYM! Pick things up and lift them down to be hench (that’s British for jacked or ripped).
20:15—warm up and SHOW TIME.
00:00—starving after two shows. EAT EAT EAT EAT EAT.
1:00—Goodnight, world.

And that’s pretty much how it works! Now this is just an example. Sometimes I’ll sleep in. Or watch more Dexter than is probably socially acceptable. Or go to the spa! And then there are always the bars and parties… LIFE IS REALLY DIFFICULT, IF YOU COULDN’T TELL. Throw in a great cast and company to enjoy all these adventures with, and ship life can be great (so long as I always make the most of it and don’t get too content cooped up in my cabin with addicting television at my fingertips). But in all seriousness, this has been a great opportunity. It’s given me time that I’ve not had before to stay updated with world news, expand my horizons, and keep growing as a singer and artist. And believe it or not… Limited internet can be liberating and really freaking awesome.

So be well, my readers. I’m sorry for my infidelity. But I’m back and here to caress your minds and tickle your craniums.

And here’s a selfie of me dressed as a monkey (cuz why not?).

(Not just any monkey, Abu from Aladdin. Note the fez)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Full English

Many say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I say that meals are the most important part of life. So due to basic theories of mathematics, meals are the most important part of life! Thanks, math (this is my college education in action). But one particular meal rings true here in England.
The Full English

FATTY FATTY NO FRIENDS. Check it. We've got two eggs, sunny side up. We then turn to cooked tomatoes. Keep journeying on and we find MEAT. One form of pig isn't nearly enough, so we've got sausage AND bacon. Both are very different than what I'm used to. The sausage is always soft and a bit mushy inside, no matter how it's cooked or the crispiness on the outside. Bacon is closer to what we'd call Taylor Ham (New Jersey, I don't want to hear it). Emma burned it (I mean.... um... cooked it well-done). We round out the veggie portion of our meal with some sautéed mushrooms, and round it all out with a few legumes. Oh. And toast. ALL the toast. GIVE ME CARBS. As Ash says, "Bread is carbs. Carbs is energy. Energy is dance."

The whole spread. Of course, we've got English breakfast tea!

This toast thing made me laugh so I took a photo of it. Had no idea "toast holders" existed

And some mimosas cuz the American wants booze. Cheers to Matthew from across the pond!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Meet the cast Mondays-- MASHA

Growing up, one of my favorite breakfasts was Belgian waffles.
Here in England, one of my favorite things in Belgian people.
Well, one Belgian in particular, and just in time for MEET THE CAST MONDAYS!


If you haven't guessed, Masha is BELGIAN! In honor of Mash's existence, one of the cast's favorite games is to replace or add any word in any sentence/ phrase/ film title with "Belgian" or some derivative of the word. Some examples:
"That's So Belgian" (TV Show)
"Hey, can you please pass me the Belgium?" (question)
"Finding Belgium" (Film)
"Charlie and the Belgian Chocolate Factory" (book)

I think you get the idea.

Masha has an admirable honesty about her. She is what I would call a "loud thinker"; her feelings are pretty easy to read. When you've made her laugh, it's brilliant because her laugh is contagious and her smile is beautiful. But if you're on her nerves or bother her... you'll know. You may want to hide in an alley or just stab yourself (but don't worry, these occasions are few and far between--she is a truly lovely Belgian). For bonus cool points, Masha has an infinity tattoo on the back of her neck. She's also unbelievably talented. She went to one of the best schools for dance in London (Laine Theatre Arts) and is also multi-lingual. Not impressed yet? Then check her out on Belgium's So You Think You Can Dance.

What is your favorite word?
Oh my god it can be such a thing to think about... My favorite word..... Probably fuck.

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on?
Uh, Dan (her boyfriend).

What turns you off?
People farting. Is that really stupid?

What sound or noise do you love?
I love the sound of the sea.

What sound or noise do you hate?
BEEPING NOISE!!!! You know, like in the studio, or the fridge? Some beeping shit!!!!

What is your favorite curse word?
Oh no I already said that... shit? No, it's definitely fuck. Fucking, fuck, fuck's sake....

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 
I would like to be a personal shopper.

What profession would you not like to do?
Eh... Probably sit in an office and do loads of paperwork cuz I hate it.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates?
(Under breath) What the fuck is this shit...... 
"Thank you for living your life... fully?" Does that make sense? To the full? Are you actually typing exactly what I'm saying right now? Cuz that's not allowed, Joe. You're only allowed to type my answers.

Masha is the beautiful lady farthest to the right, holding a beer. Cheers, Belgian!

A Day at the Beach... With Donkeys

England... You've gone too far.

Driving on the left side of the road? Sure.
Referring to French fries as "chips" and chips as "crisps"? Fine, do you.
The fact that you actually pronounce it "tomAHto"? I won't bat an eye. 

But this weekend, I have discovered something for which you will never be forgiven. 

"But Joseph!" you cry with horror, "What in God's name is a beach donkey?!"

Well faithful reader (mom-- who are we kidding?), apparently everyone in England thinks this is a completely normal thing that just happens when you go to the beach. There are people literally just standing with donkeys for children to take rides on. On the beach. I'd really love to sit at the meeting of the fine person who created this tradition. 

"Hello Rupert. what can we do to make people's beach experience more pleasant?"
"Well Nigel, people love riding waves at the beach. So you know what else they'd probably love to ride? DONKEYS."

Apparently beach donkey rides (just read that a few times and try to make it sound acceptable in your head) are meant for young children, typically under 10. So naturally I went up to the women and their donkeys and asked if I was allowed to take a ride. I was too big, but they were kind enough to let me take quite a few photos with them! 

They call me "The Donkey Whisperer"

"Don't eat my ice cream, ass!"

In NORMAL beach fashion, I had a nice ice cream cone with my friends while we walked along the beach (on our FEET, not on our DONKEYS). I also sang them The Flavors Song, and it made me miss my Showplace family.

So here are some fun photos from my beach day. And when you're at your Atlantic/ Pacific Ocean beaches this summer, just think--how would a donkey enhance my beach-going experience? If you think of an answer, please let me know.

Emma, Ash, and I with ice cream!

These are my model friends.

They're also dancers.

And they would like to prove it to you. 




Special fish

Friends at the beach :)


A boy and his ocean

A game of cricket on the beach!

Great people right here

Monday, May 26, 2014

Meet the Cast Mondays-- MARK

So I've decided I think it'd be great for whoever is reading this to get a taste of exactly who I'll be living and working with for the next few months. So every Monday, I'm going to do a "Meet the Cast Monday", which will feature a little bio about whomever is up for the week, and then finish it off with James Lipton's questions from Inside the Actors Studio

First on our list.....
I gave Mark's Facebook page a solid stalk and figured this was the best photo to introduce him, because he looks most like a leprechaun. 

Mark hails from Northern Ireland. His brogue is badass, and he sounds like a more drunk version of the Lucky Charms leprechaun. He's the other male singer on the boat, and his range is ridiculous. Seriously, during warm-ups I just kind of look at him and laugh--he pretty much sings a full octave lower than me, but then also wails on Frankie Valli and would crush Jesus Christ Superstar. He's a rocking Irish tenor with a 'dad' sense of humor to boot. And he's also my roommate! I'll have my own room on the ship, but while in rehearsals he's my roomie. Every morning we start the day by singing "Good morning star shine" to one another. Another interesting fact: Mark has "tried" watching The Hobbit since the day I met him, yet he somehow hasn't found the time to do so. So if you see Mark anytime soon, be sure to ask him how much he enjoyed this film. 

This is from the very first night I arrived.... I convinced him to come out for "one drink" instead of watching The Hobbit... needless to say, mayhem ensued. 

"Out of everyone in the cast, I feel sorry for Mark the most--he's got a lot to deal with." --Mark's suggestion on how I begin this post. 

The Questions

What is your favorite word?
Kerfuffle... I don't know, I'm just thinking of words. I quite like the word insinuate.

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on?

What turns you off?

What sound or noise do you love?
I guess I love the sound of cooking?... I love the sound of a frying pan, but when I'm sitting in my living room and my parents are in the kitchen and I know I'm getting fed. 

What sound or noise do you hate?
EHHHHHHHH!!!!! (I really have no other description of what just came out of his mouth but this.)

What is your favorite curse word?

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Maybe something like repping or maybe advertising? Someone who creates ideas for adverts or commercials. 

What profession would you not like to do?
I'd hate to be a cleaner. 

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates?
"You smashed it."

So that's a little something about Mark--my partner in crime and mayhem-seeker. And Happy "Meet the Cast" Monday!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Post About Piss


Don't run. This is not going to be a post dedicated to urine.

OK maybe a little bit. My friends and I peed in viles getting our medicals, what do you expect?! (Side note, mine is the clearest because I"m the most hydrated)

Ok, now that I've got that out of my system, THERE'S MORE. I am fascinated by how many uses the word "piss" has in this country. So here's a list of "piss" being used in a sentence (with an American translation by yours truly).

piss--noun. urine. "Look at my piss in a vile."
piss--verb. to urinate. "I had to piss terribly, and it didn't help that Bex hit every pothole between Leeds and Seamer."
pissed--adjective. drunk. "She was so pissed she doesn't remember falling off his bed." 
pissed--adjective. angry. "I was pissed when my visa took six years to get processed."
And sometimes it's fun to combine uses in one sentence. 
"I was was pissed that he got so pissed that he pissed on a tree." #English

And then with one phrase, everything gets WILD.

"taking the piss"--are you kidding me? What the hell does that even mean? Am I surrounded by urine-robbers?
Apparently I wasn't the only one intrigued by this phrase--it has its own Wikipedia Page

In a nutshell, there are a few ways to use it. It can mean everything from "Are you kidding me?" to gentle teasing, to fully laughing at someone. One can be taking the piss. Another can be taking the piss out of someone. For use in a sentence:
"She was taking the piss"
"He took the piss out of me!"
"Are you taking the piss?"

Say piss again. Piss. 


In conclusion, this country loves piss. And I love them for it. And just because I can, here's me waiting to get my medical exam holding my piss and riding a horse.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Proper Fish and Chips

Looks like I haven't written anything for a while! It's really busy over here... Lots of music and choreography to be learned and memorized, as well as exploring all things English and spending time to get to know the town and people; that all said, it's been a blast and I couldn't be happier.

If there was one thing that could come close to the love I have for my family, friends, or puppy, it would be (surprise!) FOOD. If you know me at all, we've probably dined together (and there's probably been nothing on the plate at the end of the meal). I eat anything and everything (minus olives and veal), and I'm definitely an adventurous eater; I will try anything edible. So as part of my travels, I'm extremely excited to embark on new cuisine. I figured I'd start with one of the most traditional, tasty English dishes around--fish and chips.

I was in search for the most authentic, fresh fish and chips around... And it just so happens that it's right next to our cast's house! This is a hole-in-the-wall spot with a line coming out the door. It's take-away only, and seemed to be THE PLACE for Friday night dinner. Here are the women who make it all possible and whip up some delicious treats.

They offered a few other options too, like deep fried sausage, coleslaw, and some other British bites; but I asked my friends for the most authentic British option:

Fish, chips, and mushy peas!

Deep fried heaven

I had no idea what mushy peas were. They look a bit like vomit, but they're quite nice. They're exactly what you think they are, so I'm not even going to elaborate. The portions were HUGE, and served traditionally wrapped in paper; they also provided funny little wooden forks. 

Fish and chips wrapped in paper. Please take note of the swag denim jacket (haters back off)

The chips are served with "scraps" on top, which is essentially the leftover fried stuff that doesn't have any fish in it. HEALTHY!!!! When the woman serving me asked how I wanted them, I responded "the most traditional way... if you couldn't tell, I'm not from around here." She threw some salt and malt vinegar on them, and that was it! It was astonishing. 

It's not a commonly known fact, but if you enjoy it the calories don't count.

This will come as a shock to some.... I wasn't able to finish. THAT. MUCH. FOOD. And I just ordered a regular (I leave the large option to competitive eaters only). I enjoyed every morsel until I thought the big fried fishy was gonna swim back upstream, and I called it quits. Needless to say, it was amazing. Food adventure number 1 was a major success.. We'll see what other treats England has up her sleeve for me. And since this post really only had photos of fried fish in it, here's a photo of some of us that went out later that evening; because if there's anything my parents don't understand, it's photos without people ("why would you take a picture of something without a person in it? You can just get a postcard").

Paul (England), Emma (England), Ashley (England), Me (USA WADDUP), Perdro (Spain), and Masha (Belgium)

Keep it real y'all. Eat well this week!!