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.

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At the ends of our rope!

Yesterday just after the final battle between Robin Hood, and the Evil Sheriff I returned to the inner circle of faire to find a group of people staring up at the sky and worrying. The sky looked ominous, you could see the line from the front passing directly over the circle, and the sky to the west looked dark with disturbing cloud formations. I asked a few people if they had heard if there were any special orders, are we supposed to be seeking shelter? etc? No one had heard anything so, After a little discussion I decided to make the best of it. I knew the patrons would all be fleeing for their lives and the only thing to do would be to get out there in the streets and entertain them while we had them, and hope that they might decided that if the cast was still playing around, that it couldn’t be to bad and they might just stick around.
I’m not sure what point Andy arrived during the deliberations but right after I had resolved to go out and make the best of it, we glanced at each other, a flicker of insanity sparked in our eyes, and he suggested, “Hey do we have a rope!?” “There’s all sorts in the pole barn” I replied. “Wanna go row?” As if I would say no?!?!? “Hell yes!”
Andy disappeared into the barn, and returned with a long rope, and proceeded to tie it around my waste, he then did the same to himself, I handed him a paddle and we headed out to the streets. When we stepped through the gates there were patrons fleeing everywhere, and we jumped into the frey rowing, improving our arses off. “No one worry, we’re safe, we lashed ourselves to the nearest large object we could find! Ourselves!!!” Worried looks turned to smiles and laughter. Everywhere we went people rushing to escape the perceived doom began to laugh and smile, point, or offer comments. In top form and not missing an opportunity for comedy, Andy Looped us around a tree so that it looked like the two of us had been tied to it. We leaned out from the tree, and began to row, “No one panic! We are rowing the festival to safety”, “STROKE! STROKE! STROKE! STROKE! …. if we keep this up we are going to have a STROKE!! STROKE STROKE!” We looked for groups of patrons huddled in shops and did our best to entertain. “Don’t worry! In case of an emergency these two idiots can be used as a safety flotation device!” We lashed ourselves to trees in front of shops where patrons were huddling to stay dry, as we did, something amazing happened. Patrons became excited about the nonsense, and wanted to be involved. They would run out into the rain they were so desperately trying to avoid just to get pictures with us. Countless “Captain Morgan” poses were struck by patron after patron posing with us. Some played along assuming the role of a captain, barking out orders. Others just quickly got their picture and ran for cover again.
We wound our way haphazardly towards the gate following the patrons, offering boat rides, and other advice, all the while tied to the end of the rope. “ROW ROW ROW YER BOAT! GENTLY THROUGH THE STREAM!!!” We invented, and promptly forgot new versions of that song all the way to the gate. As we neared the gate we passed the Town Square Public house where the Bristol buskin frolic and others had gathered upon its balcony to sing. “…and the ocean waves do roll…” We hammed it up on the street, doing an impromptu dance worthy of being used as an example illustration of how “white guys can’t dance” and then moved on to leave the BBF and company to entertain folks there, not wanting to eat up focus.
We moved ever closer to the gate, next encountering the Earl of Bedlam, whom we promptly wrapped up in the rope between us, and quickly ran through all the previous bits about lashing things to ourselves for safety. Again not wanting to steel audience or focus from another performer we moved on leaving the Earl to his patrons. We next encountered a couple members of fight cast, one of which decided to dive over our rope and do a roll into the street. We let him, and then moved on to the gate as the storm continued to dump buckets of rain upon us. Once we arrived at the gate we found some patrons, huddled in the remembrance shop, as well as a steady stream exiting the faire. we once again lashed ourselves to a tree, this time by the gate, and started rowing. More random verses of ROW ROW ROW yer boat were bellowed, more reassurances that we were fine , more insistence that we were rowing the festival to safety. As the patrons passed they smiled, they laughed, they occasionally joined in. The last thing they saw as they exited the gate on their rainy day was the two of us making the best of a bad situation. “Look I’m doggie paddling”, I then stuck the paddle in my mouth, leaned out from the tree using the rope as support, put my hands up and panted around the paddle. At times during our fun I even caught the security people laughing at us.
As the rain let up we claimed credit for saving the festival from the storm. As we began working our way back to the pole barn we encountered two patrons, a man and a woman, one insisted on crossing over the rope between Andy an I, We refused, and made him go under, we then insisted that the woman climb over, and we lowered the rope. They chuckled, and as we walked away, Andy turned and shouted “Congratulations! You are now married!”. I nearly lost it, the patrons doubled over laughing, and high five-ed each other and then held hands happily laughing their way to the gate. Andy fell overboard off the imaginary ship, and had to be hauled back up by his rope, as he re-boarded his thankful manly hit to my shoulder caused me to fall overboard, requiring me to be hauled aboard. It was that moment that eventually triggered my favorite bit. I took the 2nd paddle back from Andy and whispered “Water ski!!!”, not missing a beat, he began water skiing off me as I rowed like a man possessed. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Andy was in rare form, he was performing jumps, daring poses worthy of Tommy Bartlet, and all sorts of crazed daring-do. As I rowed I began to shout “We’ve invented a new sport, we are calling it Water Skiing! It’s sure rough on the guy rowing though!” people responded with laughter. Cameras flashed, people pointed. We continued this all the way back to the barn, occasionally switching places.
When we finally returned to the barn we collapsed in a fit of laughter.

Best and Worst – Week 5

Worst

  • Forgetting my mothers Birthday was Friday
  • Saturday morning rain making for soggy wet clothes all day
  • Nearly letting the heat get to me Saturday
  • Wet clothes causing chafing is all sorts of abnormal places

Best

  • Sundays rain inspiring Andy Maar and I into some great fun bits all involving being tied to opposite end of a big rope
    • “don’t panic we’ve lashed ourselves to the nearest large object we can find for safety, each other!”
    • lashing the festival to ourselves to keep it safe
    • tying ourselves to various trees and rowing the festival to safety
    • offering ourselves as safety flotation devices in case of emergency (a nod to Bounding Main)
    • boat rides
    • marrying two patrons in a bizarre rope crossing ceremony
    • inventing a new hobby of water skiing, but boy is it hard on the rower…
    • seeing the whole musicians revel Saturday
    • Sundays sing-a-long at the old wash well
  • the wonderful cast in KK grabbing a giant Umbrella and holding it over the audience for andy and I’s show
  • being surprised by a friends visit Saturday
  • awesome pumpkin Sunday!
  • breaking a group of non responsive patrons Sunday morning
  • the return of the newest old holiday “paddle day”
  • Jyncks getting beat up by the sheriff but fighting back this time. Then having the kids in the area help crank jyncks back up using his hands as jacks
  • cinnamon scones and broccoli cheese soup
  • once again seeing how amazingly supportive this cast is of each other

Weirdest

  • Once again just randomly blurting out a patrons name without ever having met them before

Weekend 4 – Best and Worsts!

This, turned out to be an incredibly fun weekend at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Despite my back still acting up, I had a great time!

Worst

  • backing into a friend’s neighbor’s truck after dropping her off Sunday and damaging both vehicles
  • still having some back pain Both days
  • missing out on duck brownies 😦

BEST

  • Best audience of the season!!!
  • Sing-a-long at the old wash well with friends on both Saturday and Sunday
  • Having a nearly full house for Andy and I’s show in KK
  • Hugs, gifts and excited questions from fans of Cutlass Cooking
  • Finally catching a New Minstrel Reveu show this weekend
  • Fantastic compliment from Joe Fernandez
  • Huge turnout for pub crawl Saturday, and actually getting patrons to sing along on songs and even contribute verses
  • Finally getting street time together with Andy
  • Watching Ann Q’s bit stealing soup from the duck get such great reactions from cast and patrons alike!
  • Little girl so excited about learning how to row that she accidentally clocked me in the face with my paddle when she turned to show her mom
  • Hearing how excited other cast were over their weekend too!

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! 🙂