I’m not playing with a full deck…

…but you can!

That’s right, I’m now on a deck of cards, along with a bunch of my pirate friends!
You can get you own deck by using this order form.


Photo Booth Duty

Sunday afternoon we found ourselves milling about near the end of the parade route, talking to people, and of course having pictures taken. While there I was approached by Bob and Jen Curry with a surprise gift. The night before, Bob had taken it upon himself to make some incredibly awesome cedar wood signs. Each sign had a different phrase and relevant image hand burned into them. He presented them to me, and instructed me that they were for us to use during pictures. BRILLIANT!!! His timing could not have been any better as we were actually on our way to the official photo booth for our 1:00 to 3:00 shift. I placed the signs in the fabulous haversack that TJ had made and given to me as a gift on Friday. It turns out that the signs were and exact fit for the sack, and by leaving one button unbuttoned I had easy access to them at a moments notice!
We had taken no more than 10 steps before we were approached for pictures, and so I sprung into action and selected an appropriate sign, “Bilge Rat” and had one of the two boys posing with us hold it. The parents chuckled and took their picture. A few more steps and we were approached by two young girls, out popped the next sign, “Pirate Property” for the two of them to share. We progressed slowly due to a combination of pictures and my need to stop and talk to any number of the fifty million people that apparently know me.

A bunch of Salty Dogs
A bunch of Salty Dogs
We arrived at the photo booth right on time, and introduced ourselves. As it turns out, that was almost unnecessary, as the photographer had worked with us two years ago during the Christmas on the Corners event. The same event were we all started working together. We started out the photo shoot with a picture with the photographers daughter. His wife had previously gotten a picture with me that night, and she now wanted one of her daughter with us all as well.
It didn’t take long before people began to notice Captain Jack was available for pictures, and before long a line started forming. Thanks to the skill of the photographer, our antics, and the differences in the subjects I don’t think there were any two pictures that looked alike. After the first 20 minutes or so we began to autograph the pictures as well, and the line continued. We had our pictures taken with individual kids, whole groups of kids, whole families, and even family pets. Before we knew it it was 3:00, and our time was over, or was it?
While Ian and I were standing off to the side waiting for a solo Captain Jack picture we were approached by Dean from Bounding Main. It turns out they were the next group scheduled for the booth, but they had a conflict and were wondering if would be possible to get out of photo booth duty. I agreed on the spot. After all the Photographer had just told us we were the best group they had all weekend, and had drawn lines they had not yet seen, and we had all been commenting on how much fun we were having. Realizing I had just answered for my cohorts, I quickly asked Ian and TJ both to confirm my assumptions, and when they did we bid Dean adieu, and started our second shift.
Any time we noticed the line dwindle away I turned my already trashed voice up to 11, and would bellow out “PIRATE PORTRAITS”, holding the last syllable as long as possible. The first time I swear 3/4 of the tent turned to look. 🙂 After the 2nd time Ian began timing me. I started at ~18 seconds, and worked my way up to 28 seconds. I think, had I not already trashed my voice, I might have been able to go longer. Muahahahah. At one point I even got into a competition with the massage booth who took a cue from me and started doing the same. It seemed like no time at all had passed when the Photographer began packing up his equipment. We looked at our watches and discovered it was 5:30, two and a half hours had passed in the click of a shutter.
We thanked out hosts, who thanked us profusely and then headed off to end our weekend.

Ian and TJ

I cannot begin to properly express how lucky I am to have the opportunity to work with TJ, and Ian. We first officially met two years ago at the Port Washington Christmas on the Corners event. There we teamed up and wandered the town doing our best to entertain folks on the street, in the shops, and the occasional horse drawn carriage. If I remember correctly (correct me if I’m wrong) that was TJ’s first experience with this type of improv / street entertainment. His good nature and willingness to be our pawn allowed Ian and I plenty of opportunities for fun, including one of my favorites, presenting Captain Jack Sparrow to the local hair salon for a makeover. 🙂

Over the past few years every time we have worked played together, (work is such a strong word, we have to much fun, it’s can’t be work…) our abilities to play off of each other has grown. I see it most in TJ, and am VERY proud of his growth. I was reflecting on this with a friend Saturday, and had no sooner had I relayed the story of that first night together did Captain Jack appear behind me escorting two young girls over to me to attempt to barter a sale. We bandied back and forth about prices, haggled over value for the price. “I’m even including the hair mate” “The hair is included!?!?!? Wow, that is a deal! Now what about the umbrella? On a day like this that’s a valuable commodity. I suppose that’s extra?” We asked for opinions from the group of folks around us, asked the father to confirm their worth, their work ethic, had them open their mouths to inspect their teeth, and all the while the girls were laughing hysterically. Their father frequently snapped pictures between his own fits of laughter, and interjections. We brought it to a conclusion that included a negative bidding war between the father and another person we decided to let the girls go and they bounded off to their father the three laughing about the whole experience. Afterwords my friend had a look of awe on his face and commented how much fun that whole bit was. TJ had proved my point better than I could have in an hour of talking about it.

From the minute Ian and I met it was ‘go time’, “Oh look there’s someone over there!” He is just as willing to pounce on anyone as I am, and is always ready at a moments notice with something to add into the mix. We often find we have the same ideas of where to go with various bits and can pop back and forth between each other with ideas as if we had rehearsed them for days. We also both just can’t help ourselves even when we have reached the end of the day. Sunday we were walking back to the hotel to part ways at the end of the weekend, and even though the festival was officially over we still just couldn’t help ourselves. We talked of a variety of casual things, then we saw a random stranger and jumped right back into the thick of it making comments to them, after they passed we once again just dropped right back to casual conversation as if we had never even stopped in the first place.

They are both truly talented entertainers, and I consider myself most fortunate to have the chance to work with them. I am even more so lucky to be able to call them my friends. Ian, TJ thanks again for such a brilliantly wonderful time this weekend!!! I look forward to our next encounters 🙂 Look out world! 🙂

The twittered catalog

Tonight, I managed to twitter enable our library catalog.   Now, if you find a book you want to recommend to your friends, just click the “tweet this!” link, and fill in your twitter username and password, and click “tweet”.  As if by magic, the item is tweeted, complete with a link to it in our catalog.    Yup, I’m a geek!   Twitter folks, try it out at:


Hawser and the Hilton

Last night I attended a party for Talk Like a Pirate Day, in Milwaukee. I’ll post more about the actual party in a future post. Some of the most memorable moments of the evening happened while I was at the Hotel waiting to be picked up to go to the party, and after I was dropped off after the party. I would like to offer a disclaimer on the post-party behavior, I had been drinking some and was certainly not 100% child friendly, not that the situation really warranted it at ~2:15 a.m.
Continue reading


So, for quite a while the blog software I use has had avatar support. The thing that confused me about this support was that I could never find a place to upload my avatar.   This weekend in my free time I dismantled the blog software a bit and discovered that these avatars are actually coming from a site called “gravitar.com”.  This fact intrieuged me,  and so off I went.  From thier site:

A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites.

Cool concept, so I went ahead and signed up, and uploaded my pictures.   I then discovered I can also addon support for these gravitars to my email client.  It’s kinda cool.   It also has options to set defaults to randomly generated images for each user, currently I have it set for monsters. 🙂  

So, if you want your icon on my blog to switch from a silly looking monster to your real picture, go sign up. Do it, you know you want to!

I may see if I can add support for this to the software used by the BDB too, it might be nice to offload some of that file space / bandwith from Tom to a 3rd party company if he is interested.

Row, Row, Row yer kids…

I had another most memorable moment with the oars this weekend. (Best prop I ever bought) I was rowing along, and I rowed past a family 1/2 dressed as pirates, and 1/2 dressed as fairies. As I rowed by, the father shouted, “Hey! Where’s your boat!” I was going to jump into the whole build an imaginary boat bit, but noticed the mother on the phone giving directions to someone as to how to find them, so I realized they wern’t going anywhere for a while. “Well thats a fine question sir, ya see, I find it’s quite difficult ta be gettin a boat to actually row proper in gravel… it just doesn’t work well, and is murder on the hull… He chuckled… at that one of the kids chimed in “well why don’t you just walk???” “Why don’t I just walk… well no thats just crazy talk, beside, it’s much more fun to row”, I responded, channeling my inner Tom Sawyer. “Here would you like to try?” and I held out both oars. The kids all tussled for the opportunity, and before long I had two victims…er… volunteers… One child got in front of me, and the other behind me, and they started paddling. “ROW ROW ROW” I chanted, and we rowed all around the area, finally returning to the parents. “SEE, Told ya rowin much more fun than just plain walkin’, isn’t it?” “YEAH!!!!” the kids responded. In my head I was laughing my ass off… Then some guy come trotting up thinking he was going to be smart… “WHERES YOU BOAT?”, the family burst into laughter, the guy looked at them like they were from mars. I looked over at the one boy who had been rowing, and he had a shit eating grin on his face. I called to him “Tell em lad!”. To my amazement the kid burst to the front of the family, and said “YOU CANT HAVE A SHIP ON GRAVEL!!! IT WILL BREAK!! BESIDES ROWING IS FUN!!!!”

I lost it…

The guy who had asked the question started laughing too and walked away.

There’s a ship out, on the… Gravel???

This Saturday at Bristol we had a rain day. Most people tend to hate the rain days, or at least dislike them strongly. Me I kind of like them. I realize they are bad for business, and really cut into the profits, so yeah that’s bad. I still have a lot of fun with them though. As of last year during rain I have taking to rowing myself around the site. It’s pretty funny on its own, and I get tons of people that laugh at the sight of it. Comments are always plentiful, such as “Where’s your boat”, or “Rowing with both oars in the water?”, etc… I tend to make some sort of remark back and we laugh and I row on. As I said this in itself it a lot of fun. However, my FAVORITE thing to do with it is to get other people involved. For example, I happened upon a family walking across the site. There were 3 kids, a mom a dad, and a grandma. They had the obvious look of a group on a mission. So I rowed up along side them and they started laughing, dad began taking pictures.
The mother asked, “Where’s your boat?”
“What are ye blind? `Tis right here…”
“Oh, Oh… ooooffff course… I see…” , the kids laughed… (I’m pretty sure they could see it just fine)
“Well, since we are headed in the same direction, why don’t you climb on board”
more laughs, “oh.. ok.. sure…”
So we started walking again mostly in a line, dad to the side getting more pictures….
“So, now that yer on board… tis time to be giving ye yer duities”
the kids looked at me like I had just assigned a book report on War and Peace over spring break…
“You m’lady, since you are in front, you shall be the figurehead”, she chuckled again and with a smile we continued to walk.
“Oh, these are treacherous waters, we are going to need a gunner, you there lad…”, I pointed to the youngest of the children, a boy about 5 years old, “When I say so you fire the cannons, with a big loud BOOM, can you do that?” he nodded. “Alright, lets hear ya!” “BOOOM!!!”, he shouted at the top of his lungs. Mom dad and grandma laughed. We continued “sailing”
“Oh dear, it’s hard to see… we need us a lookout! You lass, you are now our lookout!”, she looked at me quizically. “You look out for rocks and thing, so put your hands up to yer eyes and look like this…”, I put my hand up flat as if i were blocking the bright sun. She followed suit. “Good lass you got it” We took a few more steps…
“FIRE CANNONS!!!”, “BOOOOM!” came the reply followed by laughter from my gunner, and his family
“ARE THERE ROCKS AHEAD LOOKOUT???” “YES!!!” came the reply, for in fact were walking right towards a flowerbed, thank you mom for playing along so well…
“Oh blast, well now what are we to do… AH HA I KNOW!, You lad”, I pointed to the 3rd and oldest child, You’re the helmsman, stear us away form the rocks”, without prompting he reached forward and grabbed the ships wheel and began to navigate us away from the flower bed.
“Good on it lad, fine sailor ya are”
“Now for you m’lady”, I approached the grandmother, all the while still rowing…
“Oh no… just leave me be…” she responded while holding her umbrella up to stay dry, “I’m enjoying this just as it is”, “Well that’s perfect then, because holding your parasol like that, you make the perfect mast for the ship…” , She chuckled, and dad snapped a photo.
“FIRE CANNONS!!!” , “BOOM!!!”, followed by more laughter
“Are we headed towards the restroom?”, the mother asked…
“AYE MAM, the privys be just ahead on yer left, in the white building with blue trim”
“Thank you!”
“Well, with that I think I shall leave you, you have a fine ship here, and have safe travels, do enjoy the rest of your day”
“FIRE CANNON!!!”, “BOOOM!!!!!”

I love it when something just works…

Thank you A-E, I kinda owe this bit to her, and the one day of rehearsals I attended last year… this is sort of my take on the great machine bit… I just focused it a bit more to suit my needs…