23 October 2005

The Sunday 9: Good Friends, Fun Times, Karaoke from Hell

Aaaaaand it's time for yet another edition of THE SUNDAY 9, sponsored by Aunt Dora Mae's Patented Seasick Remedy Tonic. It's 180 proof, so you're guaranteed to forget about those crashing waves and the rocking boat. Made with a secret formula known only to Dora Mae, her husband Emil (who helps generate the active ingredient in his still out back), and their Basset Hound/Pomeranian mix Duke ...

"WhaddayaMEAN the formula is on e-Bay??!! And who is this 'PommyHoundDuke' person?"

Aunt Dora Mae's Seasick Remedy. Not responsible for bad karaoke renditions of Neil Diamond hits. Available at Turningreen's, CBS Pharmacy, Blight Aid, and a traveling medicine show near you.


Seraphim and I had a house guest this past weekend -- it was Nettiemac, who came down from her upstate South Carolina home to enjoy fun, food and frolic with the Gleck family (snap, snap). Most of the time was a complete blast, filled with endless conversation about a variety of topics, such as veteran TV anchorpeople, Alabama and Clemson football fans who have trouble grasping basic tenets of reality, and even Dr. Hook's 1979 hit "Sharing the Night Together" ... pondering its alleged contribution to our nation's declining morals.

But there was also the matter of a Saturday evening trip on Savannah's new casino boat. It departs most nights from Wilmington Island toward the so-called 'international waters' three miles offshore. With distant lights from Hilton Head and Tybee Island as a backdrop, we made an honest attempt at making enough winnings to pay off our house. Or at least a Diet Coke for Seraphim out of the machine at work.

After getting on the boat and finding a table on the top deck (where a karaoke machine was located) I was making jokes to the effect of what it would take to get Talmadge Q. Gleck behind one of those microphones. Two words: binge drinking ... three more: not gonna happen! I made a joke about the three of us - Talmadge, Seraphim and Nettiemac - going up there as 'Crusty, Spills & Stash' (never mind that out of we three, two of us could more easily carry a big-screen TV than a tune).

Nettiemac said, "I don't think you'll find anything by CSN on that list."

SECONDS LATER, the next song came up on the karaoke disc: a Crosby, Stills & Nash song!! ("Wasted on the Way")

"You were saying....?"

After we crossed the magic threshold, and we were no longer in the United States (that's kinda spooky if I think about that long enough), the slot machines, poker machines and tables all opened for bidness.

Seraphim and I each allotted ourselves $30. There was little chance of getting a seat at the blackjack table, what with all the crowds, so we stuck to the quarter slots and video poker games.

After just a few minutes in the gaming area, Nettiemac suddenly got a little seasick. She made back for the top deck, where she sat down and took a good nap. The next item, I imagine, could well have contributed to her discomfort.

Georgia has a no-smoking law for public establishments ... with a small handful of loopholes, one of 'em being "facility admits only those 18 and over." Since 1) the casino is 18-and-over only (they checked IDs prior to entry), and 2) more than half the time on the boat is spent in international waters (read: we're not in Georgia anymore, Toto), combustion of nicotine delivery instruments were kosher and common. Several times I wondered if we three were the only non-smokers on the friggin' boat!

If smoking is required to be perceived as 'cool', no thanks - I'm happy being unpopular and uptight.

The house always has a lopsided advantage in your average casino. That much is a given. Casino boats, though, are not "average." Most casinos have exits. You may leave on your own free will if you feel like you've had enough. Or wish to try out the casino next door.

Little hard to do on a boat, yes? You're captive for at least five hours. So there's no incentive to make anything seriously pay off.

Seraphim plowed through her $30 in less than an hour, then went upstairs to be with Nettiemac. I did a tad better - curiously, I had better luck at the SLOTS than the video poker. After getting as high as $5 over my original 30, my fortune dwindled down to a flat 20-spot.

It was then that I decided to give it up and go upstairs with the womenfolk. At least it took about 90 minutes to lose 10 bucks; back in '01 when Seraphim and I drove down to Brunswick to do their casino boat, we lost our gamblin' slush fund in less than 45 minutes.

We had, for musical entertainment, a Tom Green lookalike. He no doubt had a blood-alcohol level of .50 -- and, you guessed it, an adult pacifier (read: cigarette). He was singing only half the lyrics on the screen, and punctuating half the sentences with F-bombs and other such fine, Christian family language.

And what he did to the pop classic "Sweet Caroline" should've been a violation of several dozen state ordinances.

Thank all that is holy for Seraphim, who came prepared. She pulled out ... EARPLUGS! She gave us each a pair, which I promptly jammed into my ear canals, suffering from a fate worse than a William Hung/The Shaggs double concert bill.

The only - and I do mean ONLY - respite from the karaoke hell was Our Esteemed Guest (who by then was feeling much better) answering a call by one of the singers; this guy had selected "Summer Nights" from Grease for his next song, and he needed a female duet partner. The request got more and more desperate, so Nettiemac got up and volunteered - "just to shut him up", she said.

"Sandra Dee"'s stunning alto (which was also lent to the Gleck wedding back in 2001) killed, as always. Even got her compliments as we were leaving the boat.

So much for "7-12" ... the boat returned to Wilmington after 1 AM!! Midnight rolled around, and we hadn't yet passed the Tybee Island lighthouse going back in -- @#$%!!!!!!

After getting into the car and checking my cellphone, I see where I've missed a total of seven calls. All from "Tiger & Josiebelle", as I have them listed on my speed dial. Thinking something actually might be wrong, I called 'em even though it was already after midnight over there. Josiebelle answered (she was still awake), but said she hadn't called. She gave the phone to Tiger.

The 'emergency'? He wanted me to change his character account on his 'Runescape' RPG game. I wanted to reach my hands through my little Audiovox flip phone and strangle Tiger's scrawny little neck.

And no, I was not about to honor his request.

What have we learned, Olson? When the itch to hit the casino happens again, make time for a trip to Mississippi instead. While smoking is SOP in most all casinos, at least one can step out for fresh air if needed!

I don't think I'll be too eager to board that boat again.

Ciao For Niao.

--Talmadge "Landlubber" Gleck

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