So Brian's dad won a three-day cruise to Mexico from his dentist (who, incidentally, is also Brian's dentist, my dentist, and my son's dentist. Yes, we love Dr. Jack Von Bulow). Brian's parents have done so much recent traveling that they chose to gift the trip to Brian. Brian, of course, asked his wife, who passed. He then invited his brother, who also declined. You now see where I fall in the line of priority in Brian's life. No worries because Fate was knocking at the door (plus there was a wife nice enough to allow me to gallivant across the Pacific Ocean while she stayed home with a five month-old baby). Thus, I would like to thank Dr. Von Bulow, Steve and Susan Day, Michelle Day, Chris Day and Terri Burgess, without whom the following story would not have been possible.




Brian and I left work at lunch in order to get on the boat early and begin making pigs of ourselves on cruise food. Brian had earlier informed me that one night on the ship was a formal dinner, so we agreed to pack our tuxedoes. We apparently had differing ideas of how we should present ourselves. I figured it was a cruise, so go cheesy; I thought Brian has agreed to this. Well, as we were on the 605 south it suddenly became clear that Brian had packed his "nice" tux, while I had packed my "porn star" tux. The fact that we actually have two tuxes each to begin with is funny in itself, but that we actually mixed them up in conversation is ridiculous. One problem: Brian had lent his cool tux to Josh Orneles a long time ago. We called Josh O's cell and lucked out: he was home, he had the tux (he also returned Brian's gorilla suit he had borrowed), and we were five minutes from him. Great start to a great trip. Like I said earlier -- Fate.




The LBC.




Yes, you read correctly: Paradise.




Goodbye, civilization.




Goodbye, Queen Mary.




Hello, window bed.




Except we had an inside cabin.




You know it's going to be good when the daily newsletter has ''capers'' in the title. That's just one step down from shenanigans.




A shot from inside the ship.




Our first meal consisted of grilled pastrami on wheat (Brian) and turkey wrap (me), both delicious.




I'm on a boat!




Queen Mary drive-by.




Why there was a giant Stars and Stripes that hung down four floors was never explained.




Snack time: pizza and ice cream. Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.




Then tragedy struck.




Brian stepped on the back of my sandal as I walked, leading to a wardrobe malfunction.




To add insult to injury Brian threw my broken sandal over the railing, leaving me to walk around the ship with one shoe.




With his brother-in-legs (rather than ''arms'') gone forever, the unscathed one was relegated to the trash can back in the cabin.




Ok, so when we earlier unpacked I mocked Brian mercilessly for the seven pairs of shorts, eight shirts, two belts, and 138 pairs of socks he had stuffed in his bag. Was he expecting to end up sleeping in a hammock over the Skipper? Seriously, talk about a ''pack'' rat. Well, dude also had two pairs of sandals. So, consider this an apology.




Then came the mandatory emergency drill for all passengers.




Brian was too cool to remove his specs before he put on his floatie, and paid the price.




If you'll notice as we made our way to the meeting room...




...we were the only ones who actually wore the life vests at this point.




Preparing for the Poseidon Adventure.



Here's hoping that this is the only big wave we see on this trip.




Then it was time to explore the ship.




Brian boned up on his shuffleboard rules.




Then off he went.



Brian's shuffleboard skills.




I humbly offer this pose as the new logo for the NSL (National Shuffleboard League).



My shuffleboard skills.



Shuffleboard for Life!




Why the look on Brian's face? Well, we had earlier visited the towel kiosk as we planned to hit the hot tub. There was a cute girl sitting near the kiosk who shot me a big smile. I got all nervous and looked away. We picked up our towels, found an open hot tub, and all was good. A short while later I see that same girl walking past our hot tub, still flashing her dental chart at me. So I'm thinking, maybe there is something to that Brad Pitt-look-a-like thing and this girl has been caught in the tractor beam of my Death Star (yes, that last allusion automatically precludes any girl from actually being attracted to me). As she's getting closer, I'm getting more nervous. Suddenly she says, ''Hey Mr. Burgess, hey Mr. Day.'' Seeing our looks of utter confusion she added, ''It's Nadine, Class of '02.'' Oh snap! On what planet do we run into Nadine Hernandez from Rosemead High School while cruising along the Pacific Ocean. And on that same planet, and that same cruise on the same ocean she finds the two of us soaking in a hot tub. Damn.




At least we were able to enjoy the sunset while in the hot tub.




At dinner that night we were seated with three older single ladies and a quiet Indian couple. There were three empty seats. Brian ordered some ham thing which, sadly, was the highlight of the dinner. More on that later.




Meet Winston, our waiter from Nigeria, whose favorite saying was, ''Cool runnings, mon.'' Again, sadly, he was the funnest person at our table. More on that later, too.



Dinner-time entertainment on the Carnival Paradise.




After dinner we discovered the photos that were taken when we first walked onto the ship. They wanted $21.95 for just this picture. You could purchase a package that included 5X7s and wallets for $9.95, but that was in addition to the $21.95. More than $30 for just one pose? That's high seas robbery! We'll call this movie Pirates of the Pacific Ocean. That's okay, though, because I had my own camera. But as soon as I took a picture of the picture an employee descended on me like a Ring Wraith and told me not to do it again. No problem.




Oops. Get a load of this guy.




I think I saw him on Tool Academy 2.



It was getting late, which, on a cruise, simply means people have been drinking for hours. This includes TJ, a guy who not only used his beer bottle to sing Hotel California with the on-board entertainment, but a few minutes later fell off his bar stool, landing flat on his back with an absurdly loud thud. The kicker? He was here for his bachelor party. We knew this because a bunch of his buddies were wearing ''TJ's Bachelor Party'' t-shirts. TJ is going to make some lucky girl a very unlucky wife.




Then there's this guy.



I saw this guy and asked if I could get a picture with him.




He actually took off his jacket and put it on me.




Then other things began to happen.




I finally got him to take his coat back.




I will never be the same again.



This dude was out of control.



Sir Mix-a-Lot karaoke on the high seas.




At this point it was midnight soft serve time.




We enjoyed our ice cream to the sweet sounds of the lobby piano man.




The next morning Brian woke me up with the flash of my own camera.




It was time to take advantage of the robes.




That included breakfast.




What's up, Hef?




Pancakes, Raisin Bran, hash browns and chocolate milk...




...topped off with more ice cream. This is the Carnival Paradise, after all.




Witness my first ever picture in Ensenada. Brian pretended he couldn't get the shot just so I would hold the pose longer for the gathering crowd. Bastard.




We paid $15 to ride the shuttle to La Bufadora.




45 minutes later we were looking for the famous Blowhole of Mexico. But enough about her....




Sweet shirt.




Viagra Man!




Photo op.




La Bufadora.




Orale.




Brian looked back so I could take a picture of him, just as La Bufadora nailed him.




Awesome face.




Booya!




Like he didn't expect it?




Yes!



Check the video.




This was Brian's point of view.




Then boosh!



La Bufadora in Ensenada.




Aerial shot.




Free photo op.




$1 photo op.




We went to Habana Banana so Brian could get his free margarita. He had carne asada tacos and I had fish tacos. His were good, mine not so much.



They had a slide that lead to the exit.




We had time to kill before the shuttle headed back to town.




Meet the King of Mexico.




Mexican Graffiti.




Mexican water.




Mexican tourist.




Mexican self-shot.




Ha ha, Viagra Man is ''very hot''.




Ok, so I am obsessed with this giant Mexican flag. I kept trying to get a shot that showed its true size.




I'll see your giant gold Miguel Hidalgo head...




...and raise you a giant gold Benito Juarez head.




Another attempt at flag size perspective.




After walking around downtown Ensenada a while (and foolishly passing on the purchase of $40 full body massages and a monkey on a surfboard coin bank) we decided to hitch a ride.



Mexico and five bucks go together like a horse and carriage.




Our destination?




Estoy en un Barco!




That giant flag again.




The wind was quite strong as we headed to the ship.




Later that afternoon Brian put the Scattergories smack down on an entire family, even winning a medal for his efforts. The real reward, though, was making the 12 year-old girl in the background break down in tears upon the realization her parents got smoked by a dude who strolled into the game with only five minutes left.




We were trying to find the USC game playing somewhere on board. We figured the guy with the sombrero would figure it out. As it turned out the ship did not receive ESPN, the very channel the Trojan game was on.




With no SC game we found more of our pictures.




Brian actually fell over backward off this log.




Last night at our boring dinner.




This was earlier that morning when we were heading out to Ensenada.




We grabbed our robes and trunks and headed back to the hot tubs. Unfortunately they were all filled up, so we checked out golf clubs. Along the way we got a picture with The Captain of Cool.




To the miniature links.



Epic fail.




Miniature golf skills to pay the bills.



Compared to Brian, that is.




There's my flag peeking out.



Proof that it could be done.




Ok, now you can see how freakin' big it is.




Relaxing after our hot tub time.




We heard that the Captain was hosting a meet and greet. So we met and greeted him... in bathrobes, of course.




At the helm of the Paradise was Master Adriano Binacchi.




Since this was formal dinner night, we changed into our tuxedoes and hit the ship. As soon as we walked into the lounge we were approached by a woman who asked us to take a picture with a bachelorette. They took a few pictures, including one with us kissing her on either cheek. Then the lady asked if we were employed by the ship as entertainers. Yes, we had officially taken over. But the best part of this picture?




The drunk lady in the background who totally picture-sniped us. Well done.




As we were making our way over to the karaoke show some sweet babies who also wanted a picture corralled us.




We ran into the captain again and took another picture with him, this time in smooth gear.




We also called the ladies back for a photo op with Adriano. ''As a matter of fact, ladies, we are close personal friends with the captain.'' Money, baby!




We ran into Marlene, one of the ladies at our boring first-night dinner table. She informed us that her and the other two boring ladies had changed their dinner times, so they would not be joining us for formal night. Her loss would turn out to be our gain.




Then we ran into Ines Martinez, yes, also a 2002 graduate of Rosemead High School, but no, not here with Nadine. Apparently we missed the fact that this was a damn RHS cruise.




This lady was celebrating her 50th birthday and she wanted a picture with us.




Then came dinner. Keeping in mind that we had a very boring time the first night we decided to guarantee ourselves a fun night. The jackets were the first step. The second was to find fun people with which to dine. So... back on our first day on the ship when we were playing shuffleboard, a couple of girls asked to play with us. They were drunk and funny, and we saw them a few times around the ship afterward. As we were heading into the restaurant we ran into one of the girls (the other one was passed out in her cabin after a drunken fall left her with a huge bump on her head) with her mother and friend, all three drunk. They were sad because the maitre d' wouldn't seat them since they had missed their earlier dinner time. Where had they been? Passed out in their cabins from a day of drinking. Yeah. Seeing an opportunity, we invited them to join us for dinner at our table. There we found the boring Indian couple and two muscle-bound brothers named Mike and Caif (or Kife, or Queef; I never got the spelling). Let's just call them Hans and Franz, because, clearly, they want to pump you up!

Here is a story that will tell you all you need to know about Franz: In the midst of the conversation the subject of family came up. We were talking about our wives and kids when Franz told us that he has a boy and girl, ages 6 and 9. Brian told him that he too has a boy and girl, ages 6 and 9. Then Franz offered up the names of his kids (we'll call them Deter and Klaus since I don't remember them) and Brian, being a funny guy even in the face of a 220-pound tattooed and oiled up ball of muscle, exclaimed the coincidence that his children also shared the same names. When the three drunk females roared in laughter Brian sat back a bit proud of another example of successful comedic timing. It was at that moment that Franz leaned over, across his buff brother, pointed a powerful finger in Brian's face, and said, bulging, blood shot eyes and all, ''Don't joke about my children. If you say another word about them I will take you outside and give you just enough time to remove your glasses before I beat your ass.'' To which Brian looked at him and asked repeatedly, ''Are you serious?'' while Franz stared at him. Psyyychooo. Brian then turned away from him and focused on a conversation with me. During this time I saw Hans whisper something to Franz; five minutes later Franz leaned over to Brian again and said, ''You know I was just fucking with you, right?'' even though everyone at the table knew he was roid-raging serious.



Wildest. Dinner. Ever.




After deciding to spare Brian's life Hans and Franz decided to get a little workout in -- by bench pressing one of the drunk girls, much to her delight.




They lifted her so high she grabbed onto the ceiling beam and hung there. Yes, we had started a party that culminated in one of the dinner guests literally hanging from the rafters. In a room filled with hundreds of people. On formal night. While celebrating her friend's mom's 60th birthday.




After she came down from the ceiling the drunk girl decided to order tequila shots for everyone at the table -- using her friend's mom's credit card, of course.




And she didn't discover this until Winston asked for her to sign for the drinks. Franz found this very amusing... or he's soiling himself.




Happy birthday, mom.




Brian was practically forced to drink the sixth tequila, and since he nearly lost his life earlier to Franz, he pounded it mostly out of self-preservation.



Later, as the drunk girl actually had her dirty feet up on the adjacent chair yelling drunken obscenities, Brian showed her a good time, probably the first real gentleman she has ever encountered (even if he was mocking her).




After the carnage that was dinner, we headed to the lounge only to find our female counterparts. The difference, I bet, was that they were serious about their attire.




Brian then dropped a cool $40 bucks on bingo cards. Stupid tequila.




Curse you, Bingo Bob.




We then made a brief stop at the newly-opened American Bar, with its patriotic stools, musical counter and cheesy piano guy.




A quick waste of money in the casino was next.




Then home, James, where the maid left us a little towel dog.




Day three began with pizza, pastries and chocolate milk. I love cruise food.




Then we perused the pictures from the night before. Pop quiz:

Which is awesomer in the picture?
A. The robes
B. Brian's Scattergories medal
C. My nipple
D. Brian's trunks sticking out

Answer: The fact that the entire ship had the opportunity to see this picture.




My little coquette.




Welcome aboard, ladies, and I don't mean the ship.




A little style...




...with a dash of flair...




...and just enough r-tard to keep us humble.




'Tis all ye need to know of Brian and Eric.




Then there was the old cowboy we kept seeing around the ship. We grabbed this guy as he was walking by us and pulled him into the picture. The funniest part is that he never said a word; the stranger cold-lamped with us then strode off into the sunset.




Brian decided to head back to the casino while I hit the gym to work off some of the soft serve. A couple hours later we met up and Brian showed me that it was all about the Benjamins. Yeah boyyyy!




As we wandered about we realized that not everyone was having as much fun as we were.




While we were out a letter from the casino was slipped under our door informing Brian that he was owed yet more cash. The rich get richer.




We headed down to collect Brian's new found fortune of...




$.30. As in a quarter and a nickel. Classic.




We had breakfast with a nice family for Chatsworth.




Then enjoyed the lobby reggae duo.




Brian ordered a Goombay Smash.




Then decided to partake in a second one. Read the ingredient list closely: dark rum, white rum, apricot brandy, pina colada and pineapple juice. This from a man who slurs his words after two beers. Talk about getting Goombay Smashed.




You gotta hand to him, though; Two-Goombay Smash Brian knows how to work a room.




At dinner that night I ordered some salmon thing that looked freaky and tasted like ass (that is, if I knew what ass actually tasted like).




Oh, and that reminds me of Paul and his wife Mitali, that very nice but quiet Indian couple from Ontario (Cali not Canada). It seems strange that this is the first time they made the story, considering they were the only people Brian and I shared dinner with all three nights. Suffice it to say, they were boring. Paul works some boring job from his house in the IE while his wife is a vegetarian who had the chef make her special curry meals the entire trip. That's about all I know of them. These smiles were the first genuine emotion we saw from them, and even then it was only brought about by telling Winston it was Paul's birthday and having the entire wait staff (and a number of fellow diners) sing to him.




This brings us to the last picture I took. In case you're wondering about the awesome face Brian has thrown down in numerous photos, let's just say he had inspiration....




Our favorite picture of the whole trip wasn't even of us.




Thanks again, Dr. Von Bulow.