Jonathan Coulton's JoCo Cruise was mind-blowingly great

Because you are a Boing Boing reader, you probably know who Jonathan Coulton is. He was a computer programmer who happened to be a wonderful singer/songwriter. In 2005 he quit his coding job and became a full-time musician, writing and recording catchy songs that won the hearts of nerds around the world.

Eight years ago, Coulton invited his fans to join him on a cruise ship. His idea was to have a week-long floating "summer camp" for geeks, with lots of tabletop gaming, cosplaying, music, comedy, comic books, science fiction readings, panels, presentations, and workshops. About 375 "Sea Monkeys" took him up on his offer. It turned out to be something people loved, and so the “JoCo Cruise” became an annual event. I was invited this year as a performer (doing talks, panels, and workshops), joining 1,600 other Sea Monkeys to take over an entire cruise ship (Holland America's ms Oosterdam) for a trip from San Diego to Baja California, Mexico. It was the eighth JoCo Cruise, and Carla and my daughter Jane came with me.

Photo: Jonathan Coulton, by John Scalzi, used with permission.

This was the second cruise in my life. I’d taken one with Carla about 25 years ago. It was on a Carnival Cruise ship, a cruise line that David Foster Wallace describes in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again as the “Wal-Mart of the cruise industry, which the other lines refer to sometimes as ‘Carnivore.’” I didn’t have a great time on that earlier cruise, so I wasn’t looking especially forward to the living-on-a-boat-and-eating-crappy-food part of the trip, but as soon as we boarded the ms Oosterdam in the Port of San Diego I realized this was going to be a lot better than the Carnival Cruise. Read the rest