“… be my guest, you got nothing to lose, won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise”

Frankie Ford, Sea Cruise

It was a sweltering day today, so, tonight, on my internet radio show, I decided to play “music to chill with.” Nothing heavy, nothing to blow the doors off, just some tunes to bring the temperature down. As is my usual set-up for my show, I had the television on, the channel set to Turner Classic Movies and the volume set to just one notch above mute. My mind functions better when I have about three things to focus on at once, don’t ask me why…

Well, I had found a nice groove with my music, the listeners were enjoying the tunes, and the night was winding down nicely. Then I looked up at the television screen. The movie on Turner Classic Movies had ended, and they were running some filler to kill time before the next one started. And there, suddenly, was Robert Osborne, the longtime host of TCM, and he was doing a promo for the first-ever TCM Classic Cruise. Yes, folks, a cruise. An entire boatful of movie fanatics like me, on a four-day trip to Key West and Cozumel, with a film festival all through it!!! Film screenings, panel discussions, theme parties, trivia contests, on a CRUISE SHIP!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

I hit the website (www.tcmcruise.com ) and started checking out the details, and I was a bit disappointed that they had not posted much in the way of details as to the films to be shown, but the cruise is not until December, so they have time. I have a lot of faith in Turner Classic Movies, and they know how to do things right, for the most part.

Then, it happened…

What can I say, my devious nature does tend to peek out now and then…

So, as I sat here, thinking about this cruise, this classic film festival at sea, sure enough, it peeked out. If I had the job of programming this cruise, setting up the events, picking out the films to  be screened, organizing the discussions… heh heh heh…

First thing on the agenda would be the film screenings for the opening night. We’re at sea, right? The first night’s screenings would be a secret. Get everyone into the screening room and dim the lights for… The Poseidon Adventure. What better way to kick things off than with a movie about a disaster at sea? Let everyone squirm a few minutes, wondering if this is a joke or not. I know, I know, it might not be the BEST way to kick things off from an aesthetic standpoint, but, honestly, it is a great movie. The whole ship turned upside down by a tidal wave, fire and explosions, that one guy doing the Nestea Plunge into the skylight-thing? COME ON!!!

Then, just for kicks, let’s put Hitchcock’s Lifeboat on as a second feature. Let folks go back to their staterooms thinking, “Uh, just what have we signed on for?”

The next day, we can begin the panel discussions and activities. Get Tom Hanks to be one of the guest presenters, and he can teach people how to make fire, just in case we, well, you know. Perhaps we could rig up a special mast with sailcloth so there could be lessons on how to ride a dagger down from the rigging to the deck. Everyone should have their chance to be Errol Flynn, right? A seminar on how to run the perfect mutiny might be nice, if you can keep things civil, of course. Maybe we could have a fishing tournament while we are in Key West, dedicated to Spencer Tracy. Each fisherman goes out in a wooden boat with a dead marlin tied to it. Then, the contestants have to make their way back to port, fighting off sharks with a stick. Whomever gets the biggest piece of the marlin back to port wins!

The meals would be an important part of the cruise, of course. The food would be gourmet, except for one meal. A lunch, perhaps after the seminar on running a good mutiny, with the menu being hard tack, salt pork, and maybe breadfruit, with one cup of water per person. Hey, if you want a good mutiny, you should know why the things get started, right? I mean, you can’t get away with lashing people or keelhauling them. Just let them have a taste of the yummy grub that they used to enjoy, and you might see why folks were none too thrilled to spend six months at sea.

We could have a Disney night and show 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Swiss Family Robinson! That would make the classes in giant squid fighting a little more popular. Lessons in building the perfect treehouse, complete with pipe organ and flowing water, would also have some extra chairs. End that evening with Pirates of the Caribbean, and have a midnight buffet be a costume affair, just to see how many Jack Sparrows you can get in one place. The people from the Guinness Book might want to witness that, who knows?

I know everyone thinks I am going to suggest showing Titanic on this cruise. Not a chance. A Night To Remember, sure. Great movie. But, if you want James Cameron’s version of the story, you skip the first 90 minutes and start about the time it starts getting icy outside. When that one lookout says, “Good Lord, hard to starboard!!”, the good part of the movie starts.

I understand that there is a casino on board the ship. WHOOO HOOOO!!! There must be some compromises made, though, for the true movie fanatics. The roulette table must be rigged to hit 22 at least once every five spins, so the Casablanca fans can do that slow push with their chips and feel all Moroccan. At the blackjack tables, there will be one player with an odd look on his face, betting one for bad, two for good (If you don’t get that, shame on you). The poker tables can function as normal, but the dealer must play one hand of “spit in the ocean” every half hour. (Okay, that one was easy, I admit that…)

There are several bars and lounges onboard this ship. One of the MUST be redecorated to look like Rick’s Café American from Casablanca. This will require a good piano player, a sweet Russian gentleman to be the maitre’d, at least two people picking pockets and selling cheap jewelry, and one man trying desperately to hide from the police. He will be arrested and shot twice a night for the entertainment of the masses.

Just for kicks, and because I would love to spend the evening there, another bar should be made to be a smaller version of Jack Rabbit Slim’s from Pulp Fiction. And yes, we will have those damn good milkshakes and a twist contest.

They do have a martini bar on the ship. It would be a crime if this was not dedicated to The Rat Pack. Lookalikes of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. would walk around in tuxedos, their bow ties undone and top collar button open, and they would have to perform a few tunes, with a nice level of smoke covering the ceiling. We will not discuss the “no smoking” rule for this one bar. It will, instead, be mandatory for each customer to be given a pack of Camels and a silver Zippo.

For the last night on the ship, I think it only right to have a showing of Jaws outside, around the pool. We could set up a nice seafood buffet out there, and watch how many folks run to the ‘facilities” when that kid on the raft gets munched like a Cheeto at a barbecue. An added bonus would be to run Moby Dick as a second feature, just to see how many fat guys get out of the pool before someone starts sticking them with cocktail toothpicks.

I like to think that the good people at Turner Classic Movies would heed at least one of these suggestions, but I will not hold my breath on it. But be assured, if I can scrounge up the cost of a ticket, though, you can bet I am keeping a close eye on what the programmers will come up with. But, gentle readers, if anything on the plans looks a little TOO familiar, I may have to give them a call…