Thursday, September 5, 2013

Prairie Home Cruisers

Those of you who read my blog regularly (all three of you) are probably wondering where I have been these past few weeks. The answer is that I have been cruising the Mediterranean Sea with the cast and fans of a weekly radio variety program.

I suppose more people know about Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion since Robert Altman's 2006 movie, but those of us who have been listening for decades are still surprised by the number of people who have never heard of the show, much less listened to it. I guess there are some people who prefer to go out on a Saturday night, rather than stay at home and listen to the radio. Well, "chacun à son goût," as the French always say. (Although I was just in France, and I never heard anyone say that, or "je ne sais quoi," or "zut alors," or any of those other things the French are supposedly always saying.)

In 2005, Mr. Keillor began the tradition of taking the cast and crew of A Prairie Home Companion on a (mostly) annual cruise, along with APHC guest artists and as many fans as could be accommodated on a Holland America cruise ship. (Believe it or not, there are some die-hard fans who go on every single cruise, although I'm not sure how they can afford it.) We took the 2006 Alaska cruise because the timing was right and we had always wanted to visit Alaska. This year the timing was right again, and we had always wanted to visit the Mediterranean. So when it was announced that the 2013 APHC cruise would be from Barcelona to Venice, we immediately reserved a cabin—as did my sister Susan and brother-in-law Kevin, who are also APHC fans.

Last month the four of us, along with a thousand or so other APHC fans, flew to Barcelona to board the MS Ryndam.

I did not have access to the Internet for most of the trip; even if I had, I was too busy enjoying myself to spend time blogging. However, I did take notes, and for the next few weeks, I will be blogging about the cruise.

Before the cruise, I began reading Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad. I thought it would be interesting to read Twain's 19th century impressions of some of the same places we would be visiting in the 21st century. I will be sprinkling my account with quotes from The Innocents Abroad when appropriate. I may also at times—however unintentionally—slip into Twain's folksy comic style.

I apologize for that.

On the other hand, why should I apologize? If you're going to imitate a writer, you could do a lot worse than Mark Twain.
“The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad. I speak now, of course, in the supposition that the gentle reader has not been abroad, and therefore is not already a consummate ass. If the case be otherwise, I beg his pardon and extend to him the cordial hand of fellowship and call him brother. I shall always delight to meet an ass after my own heart when I have finished my travels.”

― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

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