Sweet child

On Sunday all of Bristol mourned the loss of our friends who had passed from this world during the past year. This is accomplished by a solem, period accurate march by our military. I caught up with the procession at it’s end where I was able to hear the final words of tribute.
After the conclusion to the procession there were many standing about trying to hold on to or possibly regain their composure. I offered comfort and support where I could.
As most began to trickle away I became aware of a young girl standing in our presence. I turned to her and smiled and waved, a pleasant and warm smile greeted me back with a timid wave tossed in for good measure. I approached and knelt down so that we might speak.
I began the conversation asking her how her day was going. She replied with confidence and the verbal eloquence that could have rivaled the queen herself. As our conversation continued she proceeded to describe for me, in vivid detail, her experiance earlier at the maypole. As she spoke the sorrow I had felt from the parade lifted and I could not help but be infected by her enthusiasm. Our conversation ended and she politely excused herself so that she could continue her days adventure.
I stood up and again waved as she left the area. Just then our mistress of misrule passed by still greiving for a dear friend. I called out to her but she did not hear me as she rushed to the maypole to meet up with her cast. I ran after her finally catching her attention in the shadow of the town square public house.
I could see the grief weighing upon her heavily, and informed her that I had a story for her that might just help. I then proceeded to tell her of the child I had spoken to only minutes before. As I did a smile washed over her face. “thank you, that was exactly what I needed.”

We later saw each other again and to my surprise the young angel was just a few feet away entranced by the marionette and smiling away, her day still bright and cheerful. These are the truly precious moments that make all we put ourselves through worth every drop of sweat.

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Opening Weekend 2009 – Best & Worsts

Best

  • First thing Saturday morning being set upon by the Sheriff and his men, and getting patrons to lie to him in my defense 🙂
  • Having so many friends show up to support Andy and I at our first show in Kids Kingdom Saturday. It meant a lot!
  • Having a much larger audience at the end of Andy and I’s show than at the beginning.
  • Singing in the street with Jon Baade, and Jen Brinkman, and earlier with Jen Spitzer
  • Having a patron shout “you bastard!” at the sheriff when he attacked Jyncks, and the bursts of laughter when I “re-inflated” Jyncks after the fight.
  • Watching Robin and his men fawn over Jyncks after his defeat and totally ignore Little john writhing in agony on the ground.
  • Being able to help in the process of re-uniting a little lost girl, Lizzy, with her parents.
  • A sweet little extremely well mannered and well spoken ~5year old girl who right after the funeral described to me in great detail her exciting time at the maypole.
  • Being in the right place at the right time to support friends after the funeral procession
  • Worst

  • Sundays Funeral Procession
  • Missing out on the Musicians revel I love so much
  • Absolute Best

  • The serendipity moment of being out with the repaired “pirate’s booty” puppet when we encountered a group of blind children. (Details to come)

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! 🙂

Emergency Battery Service

Friday afternoon TJ, Ian and I were attempting to make our way to our second cruise of the day. We have found that no matter where we travel as a group we are constantly stopped for photos. As long as we are not late for a scheduled task we are more than happy to mill about and let people take our pictures, and talk to us, that’s what we are there for after all. As it was, we were quickly running short on time to make the ship before it departed, but a family approached us, their son bubbling over with excitement about meeting Captain Jack. The son, afflicted with some form of development disability darted back and forth from his parents to jack, the excitement so great that he could not contain himself! The parents decided this would be a wonderful photo opportunity, and rustled through their bag to retrieve their camera. Once it was retrieved, they setup the shot and the father pressed the power button on his camera to turn it on.
Nothing happened.
He tried again, same result.
Dissapointed, they called their son back and prepared to leave without their photo. I couldn’t let that happen, “Sir! one moment!”, I called. I then reached into my pouch, removed my camera, extracted the batteries, handed them to him, “will these help?” Overwhelmed he looked me in the eye with a deep gratitude that I lack the words to fully describe, “Thank you!”, he mustered. His wife’s face lit up as she realized what was going on. The flustered man then fumbled to hurriedly exchange the batteries with his own and after two tries got them properly placed, pressed the power button and the camera sprung to life.
They posed, got their shot, and after an exchange of heartfelt thank you’s he returned my batteries and they walked away with their photographic treasure.

For the future, I plan to keep at least one set of brand new AA batteries on my person at all times in case this ever occurs again. I will insist they keep them too…

They’re Pancakes!

On Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Port Washington Pirate festival you can have Breakfast With the Pirates. During breakfast we pirates wander around entertaining the diners, pose for pictures, and of course, steal food from peoples plates. During the course of the breakfast I often start out an interaction with a table by asking what their favorite breakfast foods are. I get a lot of different answers but almost always one answers “pancakes”. If Captain Jack Sparrow happens to be near by or at least in hearing distance of me repeating it, that end up being a cue.
Upon Captain Jack Sparrows arrival he declares that the breakfast item in question is to be renamed “flapjacks” in his honor. A typical interaction continues, “Jack! You can’t go renaimin’ breakfast items just because you are famous” “why not mate?” “Because it’s just not right! What do you say kids, PANCAKES or flapjacks?”. Inevetably most kids agree with Jack… Some times we opt to resolve the dispute in a duel using forks. During the duel Jack always calls out, “look isn’t that the governers daughter?”, and points behind me. I of course fall for it fully and turn allowing him to stab me. “Fine Jack, you can all call them flapjacks if you want but I still in sist they are pancakes.” At that conclusion I usually leave them to Jack to let him do his thing. The bit always gets a lot of laughs and builds excitement for the kids.

Sunday afternoon TJ, Ian and I were all working the festival photo booth when a small boy in full pirate regalia approached to have his picture taken. As he grew closer he glanced back to his mother who coaxed him with, “go on, don’t you have something to say to Captain Jack?” The boy then glanced towards me and a smirk of defiance grew across his face, he looked up at jack towering above him and, with all the conviction a six year old can muster let out a fierce “THEY’RE PANCAKES!!!”. We all three broke… I roared with laughter, Jack, quick on his feet, turned and walked away refusing to have pictures with someone so difficult. The photographer used this moment to start composing the shot. “Grand on it lad!”, I said and put my arm around his shoulder.
When the shot was finally composed we had Jack and the boy standing back to back in a defiant pose, me sitting along side the kid, grinning and I think giving the boy a thumbs up.
Afterwards we autographed the picture frame continuing the fight in wrighting.
This was hands down the most memorable moment of the weekend, and will live in infamomy for years to come.

Pirate Fest 2009 – Best / Worst

First of all, the weekend was a blast. I really do LOVE this festival. The crowd is always great, and I couldn’t ask for a more talented group of people to work with.

Worsts:

  • Bruising my heel Friday, making for all sorts of foot pain all weekend
  • Cold rainy weather Saturday thinning out the crowds
  • Weather cutting the number of cruises again

Bests:
Ok, there are far far to many to list them all… I will make additional posts about the best of the bests and link to them as I do.