Monday, October 3, 2011

Someday, I'll Build One ...

And for once, I'm not referring to a pirate ship. Though that be on me list!

No, I'm talking about a different sort of craft entirely. As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and consider him to be the father of modern horror. True, some of his writing is almost painfully dull, and when he goes on one of his racist tirades - although I do keep in mind that he was writing in the '20s, which was not the most enlightened of times in terms of racial integration and understanding - I'm tempted to give up on him. But when I reread "The Call of Cthulhu," "The Shadow over Innsmouth," or "The Dunwich Horror," I'm reminded why I love his brand of weird tales so much.

One of Lovecraft's strong points is that he completely avoided the whole cliche of good vs. evil in his writings. It's not that the monsters and villains are evil; they just don't care or don't even notice humanity at all! To Lovecraft, humanity is to the Old Ones and their cults what a bug is to a car on the highway: barely noticeable, aside from the debris on the windshield. When conflict occurs between humanity (usually represented by one or two people who are unlucky enough to get caught in the wrong place and wrong time) and the beasties, the outcome is usually uncertain or at best a draw. To me, this is how horror should be. Not ending with a celebration, but not ending with utter defeat, either (I'm talking to you, Skeleton Key!). The protagonists may have forced the chaos back, but there's always the knowledge that humanity isn't safe, was never safe, and will never be safe.

Anyway, Lovecraft has a rather cultish fan base, and there are podcasts, games, and people selling props and replicas of items from his stories (I have a diploma from the fictitious Miskatonic University - a PhD in Theoretical Realities, in case you were curious). Today I came across instructions to build a cemetery plot for Lovecraft! Once the Dude gets old enough, one of the Father-Son activities I've planned is for us to go nuts and build a haunted yard display. You can bet that this is going to be one of the central pieces!

In the meantime, though, I must return to the drudgery of work. Ugh. At least I am making money that I can put (although One Ring generally terms this as waste) towards these projects!

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Friday, September 30, 2011

It's the MOST WONDERFUL TIME of the Year!

And if anyone says, "Christmas" they will be strung up from the yardarm!

Nope, it's the Halloween season. 31 days of wonderful craziness that envelops everything that I enjoy thinking about: mythology, alternate realities, books, movies, and all sorts of things that go bump in the night.

Made the slight error of watching two horror films last night - From Beyond (a H.P. Lovecraft inspired flick) and The Night Flier (based on a Stephen King short story). Neither was worth writing home about, to be honest, but each had a couple of memorable scenes. I've been on the hunt for good horror movies lately. It's a yearly thing; usually around September I start looking at the "Best of" lists on the internet and see if there are any I haven't seen. Usually I hit duds, but occasionally I find some movies that were either limited releases or direct to video that are unbelievably good. Let the Right One In (remade in the U.S. as "Let Me In") and Trick R Treat are two of my greatest finds. I'm also fond of Le Pacte de Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf), which is based on a historical event in France.

What I haven't been able to find are horror movies based at sea. I've seen Ghost Ship, and a few films that have sea monsters, but I'm looking for a good film that combines my loves - nautical / pirate tales and horror. I mean, the closest I've seen* (not to say there isn't anything out there; I just haven't found it yet!) is the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And that is about as scary as my beagle! It's really hard to believe that no one has jumped on this subject yet! Lovecraft wrote several stories centering in and around the sea, and there are written works by others, of course. But movies? Nothing uncovered yet.

The search for buried treasure goes on ...

*and before anyone says, "What about The Fog????" please note that I have seen it and while it is an awesome horror movie, there are a couple of things that keep it from satisfying my craving for nautical horror: 1) it doesn't take place on a ship of any kind, and 2) the ghosts are lepers, not pirates. Still, it is a highly recommended and very enjoyable and scary film.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

Avast! This be Ye Captain Speakin'

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Now hoist ye colors and get about plunderin', pillagin', drinkin' and makin' a general nuisance of ye'self!

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Arrr! Pass Me Th' Gravy Boat, If Ye Please!

Yes. Pirates apparently liked fine dining.

An archeological dig 15 miles up the Belize River has uncovered a pirate hideout dating circa 1720 has revealed, among other things, Chinese Porcelain! While glasses and cups were not found, suggesting that the pirates drank straight from the bottle - and what's wrong with that? - fragments of porcelain plates, bowls, and containers have been uncovered. There were also vast quantities of clay pipes, so the boys apparently loved their smokes.

... and gravy boats. Apparently the time period was stranger than we thought!

You can read the rest of the article here.

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One More Thing ...

Mystic Revolution - a webcomic that I occasionally read during my more boring moments at work - is doing a "Ninja vs. Pirate" subplot.

A little bit of background: MR is set in a fantasy online game world. Think World of Warcraft and similar MMO titles. So the characters are avatars of gamers, and the storyline often reflects things that take place in MMOs - like player vs. player tournaments. That's what's going on now, which explains how a ninja and a pirate would run into each other.

One caveat, though: the pirate is the villain of the piece, as the ninja is one of the main characters. Be sure to let the comic's writer know how outraged you are. Pirates will ALWAYS be cooler than ninjas!

You can pick up the action here. To start the comic from the beginning, click on the link located on the sidebar.

Now back to my rapidly shrinking lunch break. Sigh.

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Recoverin' and Book Learnin'

I'm just getting back on my feet after having some abdominal surgery. Nothing major, but enough to put me on my back for a couple of weeks. Even now, I'm having trouble with my energy levels (Wind gets knocked out of my sails, easily, I mean), and I'm still not supposed to lift anything more than 10 lbs. Problem is, the Dude weighs in at 20 now, so I've been breaking that rule a bit, certainly more than One Ring approves.

Fortunately, though, One Ring gave me a Kindle for my birthday, so I've been able to read a couple of books. Of particular interest has been The Sea Rover's Practice: Pirate Tactics and Techniques, 1630-1730 by Bennerson Little. Little is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, and his knowledge of strategy certainly shows.

What's really been interesting in this book (I'm only about halfway through; it was often difficult to read for long stretches when medication kept knocking me out!), is how the author contrasts what pirate enthusiasts like to stress about the era (Jolly Rogers, broadside cannon fusillades, and easily recognizable attire) and the reality of prize taking. Suffice to say that pirates then were more similar to the modern rovers operating off Somalia and Indonesia than any of us fun loving, rum drinking, swashbuckling types would ever like to admit.

Little does more than just point out the Hollywood and Talk Like a Pirate Day (11 days away!) inaccuracies, though. There's more than enough adventure, deception, and intrigue left in the historical record for our love of all things pyratical to continue. It's just a fair warning that I'm giving: don't expect too much of Disney's famous fictional captain to be left intact. Of course, none of us who have done any research into the era already knew that.

All in all, a good read, and a fair examination of the realities of the era. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Well, Yeah, I Suppose It's Piracy

But it seems a wee bit less manly than, say, raiding shipping in the Caribbean in the 17th century!

I'm talking about Book Piracy.

Blackbeard is rolling in his grave (minus his head, of course!).

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Friday, August 5, 2011

On Faith and Floating, Pt. 2

In my last post, I gave a very simplified view of my problem with faith. Namely, my seeming inability to maintain it. I glossed over a few issues - church conflict, problem of evil, bad things happening to good people, etc. - that were not resolved by any theological formulation (none I had found, anyway). Orthodox, conservative, progressive, process, liberation ... name your subset of theology; nothing seemed to fix my problem. And I do claim ownership of this. Plenty of people the world over have come up with ideas and explanations that work perfectly well for them. They just don't for me.

So I continued my journey into Zen, loving every moment of it, while simultaneously grieving the loss of faith in the notion of a caring, compassionate, interventionist (involved) and, to some extent, determinist (there's a plan for your life) God. It's hard to let go of the old ideas, even though they've fallen apart in an logical sense. There always seems to be an emotional piece involved in beliefs, which is why we always get into the most heated of debates and conflicts over what seems, to outsiders, at least, to be the most trivial of issues. In my case, this meant that while I was intellectually ready to abandon the idea of a deity who was ready to help me out at the drop of a hat, who loved me and wanted nothing but the best for me, etc., I still found myself feeling emotions similar to the kind people face when dealing with acts of abandonment or betrayal.

Fortunately, some events occurred that helped me tremendously.

The first event was when a friend contacted me on Facebook's chat program and started asking questions about death and dying. She told me that her mother is dying of cancer, and spoke of the emotional strains on her family. I don't know how long I spent talking to her about grief and related issues, but I do know that I came away from the conversation feeling, I don't know, alive? In the zone, maybe. Like this type of work was where I excelled, where I belonged.

But still, even a feeling of belonging doesn't necessarily resolve theological dilemmas. Yes, I could listen, provide comfort and support, and even maybe offer insight as to what was being experienced. But talking to people who believe in a omnipresent, omniscient, all powerful God when I do not is still a major roadblock. Plus, having one positive experience that reminded me of some of my better chaplain moments does not resolution make.

The second major event came from, of all places, a podcast put out by the San Francisco Zen Center. I have been visiting their site for some time now, as finding and attending Buddhist centers here in TN has been problematic. I have found their dharma talks to be very thought provoking and challenging. In another world, another time, I might have even travelled there and done the whole monk thing. But reality is WAY different, and I seriously doubt that One Ring would appreciate me quitting my job and moving to California!

This particular podcast, entitled "The Spirit of Practice: Christianity and Zen," was particularly engaging. Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine Monk, discussed 3 aspects of Christianity: Faith, Hope, and Love (mentioned prominently in 1 Corinthians 13) in a way that I had never considered. He said (you'd be better off listening to the podcast, but here's my take on it) that there are actually two types of hope and two types of faith. Hope with a capital H is what he termed, "Openness to Surprise." Little "h" hope is a desire for individual things or events. In Zen that would be defined as attachments, the principle cause of suffering. But living a life with Hope means that we are open to the unexpected, and take notice and pleasure in the multitude of experiences occurring all around us all the time.

In the same way, there are two types of faith. Faith with a capital "F" is trusting in life. He draws the illustration of Faith being like the water that holds a swimmer. The swimmer trusts the water, he or she knows that they will be buoyed while he or she moves about. When we have Faith, we trust ourselves to life, moving through it and not being troubled when life acts like, well, life.

Meanwhile, faith with the lower-case "f" is definied by Steindl-Rast as beliefs. This notion was what caused my "a-ha!" moment. My issue was not that I was having a crisis of faith, but that I was having a crisis of beliefs. Crises of beliefs are nothing new to me, nor should they be to anyone else. Beliefs change all the time, because we are getting new information all the time that challenges our beliefs. I was allowing, however, my crisis of faith to be a crisis of Faith, in that I found it difficult to trust myself to life when I could no longer be supported by my beliefs.

This a-ha moment then tied in with my issue of hope and Hope. Once I realized that I was grasping at specific things, anticipated outcomes, and desires, it became easier to step back and try to surrender to Hope. In other words, to stop trying to force the universe to my will, and be willing to be open to uncertainty (no easy task for me!) and surprise.

In case you're wondering, Steindl-Rast commented on the third aspect, love, as well. He defines it as "the yes to belonging with the whole of being." That will take a little longer to unpack, longer than the space appropriate for a blog post (and this one is already HUGE by my standards!). Suffice to say that if we have Hope, and if we have Faith, then we may find it easier to become involved with others. Community opens up when we ourselves are open to being a part of community. We belong when we allow ourselves to belong. We are loved when we love. So when we accept that we belong, that we are one with all of creation, there is a sense of love, of healthy relationship, present.

There's a lot more than that, of course, more than was discussed even in the podcast. Suffice to say, though, that it was enough to get me thinking that perhaps I was not as lost as I felt. Perhaps there was a way for me to work out my issues with spirituality, with faith, with all the aspects of life I dropped off when I ceased being a chaplain. And perhaps there is still a way out of this morass I've found myself in over the last several months.

If you've read this far, you're awesome. I appreciate your hanging on. I'll close this post here, and hopefully future writings will be more light-hearted, fun, and piratical!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Faith and Floating ...

So, now to a major, major issue in my life. Where does a pirate chaplain turn when he doesn't know if belief in the Divine is possible?

My crisis o' faith started way back when I was at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Having no prior knowledge of Biblical exegesis, criticism, or deconstruction, I was of the extremely immature notion that "Well, it says here that ... so it must be true!"

Needless to say, that didn't last long.

Although I will always be grateful for my education at the 'div, it was a brutal experience. Nothing, and I mean nothing, survived those 3 years of deconstruction. Everything faith related had to be rebuilt from scratch, and able to withstand critique. Which was fine, because I came to feel - and still do - that if the unexamined life is not worth living, then the unexamined faith is not worth having. I left Vandy, figuring that I had it all worked out.

I don't think I could have been more wrong.

The thing is, we NEVER have it all worked out. There's always something, an event, an idea, a contradiction, that has the potential to send us into a tailspin. For me, it was being a part of two major church conflicts that turned me off of congregational ministry. What got me out of chaplaincy was the death of the idea of an interventionist God.

Most people, I think, hold an idea of the Divine that bears a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. I'm good, I pray, and good things happen. I get in trouble, I pray, and my butt gets removed from frying pan and fire. Thing is, all you have to do is spend time in a emergency room - especially a trauma center - to know that bad things do happen to good people. The common ideas of God: All powerful, all knowing, and omnipresent simply do not hold up. God cannot be all three and still be good. For if God is all three, and allows horrible things to happen (tsunamis, rapes, murders, the Holocaust, earthquakes, Glen Beck, etc.) then God cannot be good. Take away one of the three aspects, your choice, and God is less than the traditional image of the Divine.

Usually it's the all powerful aspect of God that is sacrificed (as in Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People). What many have done is drop in ideas of free will, or enter into apologetic arguments, to let God off the hook. My contention, then and now, is that if God is all knowing (or even marginally knowing), then God would have to be involved in human life in order to be good. Two years in hospital work and a few more subsequent years doing church work resulted in my reconsidering my ideas about God.

So I gradually eased my way towards Zen Buddhism, which had been an interest of mine ever since I started taking martial arts lessons as a child. Nothing is said of God in Zen. It's a non-theistic philosophy, which suited me just fine. My anger towards the church, which I felt had let me down, and my continued irritation at clergy and lay people alike, who were spouting all sorts of hate-filled diatribes against gays, Muslims (the perennial favorites) was allowed to remain at a heated level, with the added bonus that I could thumb my nose at my former home, thinking that I had found a better place with far more advanced thinking and wisdom.

Until I eventually came to realize that my ego had run rampant. Zen's big on squashing out of control egos. And all this nose thumbing was not good. So I had to re-evaluate what I was thinking, and why I was thinking it. I had to look at my thoughts on God, and separate that from my thoughts on the human institutions and actions that were God-related. Fortunately, there were a couple of incidents that helped me along.

To be continued during another boring day at work ...

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Plotting a Course Out of the Doldroms

I hated to leave things on such a negative note last time, but that's where I was. Sometimes we are stuck in life without wind, without sail. Not long ago, I read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which contains lines that should resonate with anyone who has ever faced depression:

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

It didn't take long for me to decide that I needed to get out, get moving, find healing from whatever it was that dragged me down. My medication was changed; that was easy enough. But as I teach my clients (I've been working as an addiction therapist ever since I left chaplaincy), 95% of the battle is mental. If we only take medication, if we only stop using, we're only addressing a very small part of the problem. We have to get to the root issue out of which all the behavior and emotions are spawned.

So I knew that there was long, hard road opening up before me.

A coworker of mine recently returned after spending 5 weeks at a recovery / retreat center. His work had stressed him out to the point where he had a breakdown. That, combined with his own inner demons, necessitated the drastic step of a long medical leave with treatment. When he returned, he took one look at me and said, "Dude, what's got you so angry?" After listening to me rant about all the injustices, incompetance, and issues at work, he simply stated that I am filled with resentment, and suggested that I work on the fourth step of the 12-step program.

Mind you, I'm not an addict in any way, shape, or form. Although I did love the rum and grog in my college and grad school days, I simply do not fit the DSM-IV criteria for either dependence or abuse of drugs or alcohol. Yet, despite this fact, I decided to give it a whirl. I'm still working on it, but did it ever open up some bilge that desperately needs to be pumped out!

The process seems to be working. I'm giving voice to my resentments and working on processing them. There are some odd moments, though. I noticed that every July 30th (my birthday, in case you've a notion to send gifts!) I tend to have a bout of depression. There are reasons - I recall a very bad car crash that I witnessed when I was a small boy, I had to put my dachshund, Peanut, to sleep on the 31st of July, 2007, and a few other bad days that don't warrent mentioning here. But there is one tragedy that I can't seem to walk past. That would be the suicide of an ex-girlfriend back in 2004. She was buried on July 30th in Virginia.

We didn't date for long, but we did keep in touch afterwards. And that connection seems to have kept the wounds open. I need to keep looking at it and through it, but there are feelings of responsibility, survivor guilt, and Lord only knows what else. After years of searching, I finally found out the Funeral Home that conducted her service. I've emailed them, asking for the location of her grave. Maybe visiting that can give me some closure. Who knows. My colleague spoke of some other strategies that they teach in the recovery community. I'll try those as well. I don't believe in ghosts, but I believe that people can be haunted. If that's the case, then I have a regular Flying Dutchman of a life!

There's more going on as I try to get some wind in these sails, but I'll save it for another post. Perhaps later today I'll get some more time. Some interesting developments in the world of spirituality going on that is worth mentioning. That's been a sore spot in my life for a long, long time, extending back past the chaplaincy, past the churches, and into my time at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

But that must wait a bit.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Anger, Resentment, and General Misanthropy

... in which our pirate hero attempts to cope with work, family, stress, and a seeming inability to find peace in the midst of chaos.

Which would be very cool if I could figure out a way to pull it off.

For the last several months, I've been coping with an outbreak of depression. For years, I've been able to keep things under control, but lately there have been times when I just can't get a grip on my moods. Fortunately, my work and my relationships seem to be intact, but internally I've been in a major funk (and not the Parliment type, either).

Today I had a conversation with a coworker who has just returned from a 30 day retreat. He went there after being abused horrifically in his former department. He's now back with us, but he needed that 30 day medical leave to keep sane and sober.

Anyway, he noted that my anger and resentment towards a laundry list of people, places, and institutions has increased dramatically. Don't worry, they know who they are, even if they don't care (I'm talking to you, fundamentalist Christians who think that the civil rights of others should be put to a vote!). During the course of the conversation, my friend suggested that I do work similar to the 4th step of alcoholics anonymous, where that sort of anger and resentment is categorized. And that is how I spent my lunch break today at work.

While I am nowhere near done with this exercise, and I have every intention of taking it to a therapist at some point - because I firmly believe that depression is something that shouldn't be handled alone; we should pay people to suffer with us! - it appears that I am a walking, talking, seething container of angst. Whereas I want to think of myself as a cool, collected, mellow zen dude who can swash my buckle with the best of them, I am also a very angry person. Or, perhaps I should look at it as anger has me.

I watch the news and get angry. I listen to my patients and become frustrated. I attend staff meetings and wonder if logical behavior will ever occur here. One Ring tells me that I can't do whatever I want, whenever I want, and resentment arises. I go home to visit my family at the ocean front in Virginia, and I mourn that I no longer live by the sea. Of course, none of that anger gets expressed. It just sits inside of me, until it turns on me, and depression comes roaring in like an evil tide.

The ironic thing is that I spend my day counseling people who have substance abuse issues. Most addicts actually start out self-medicating some life problem - usually an emotional issue. Let's face it, no one starts their day saying, "I think those folks on Intervention got a good thing going on!" Self-medication leads to addiction, and down the hole you go. The thing is, to heal you can't just remove the substance. You need to work on the emotional issues that were being medicated in the first place.

So I know, as a former chaplain, as a therapist, as a human being, what I need to do to work through my resentments. I just don't do it. Or rather, I let the feelings work through me, rather than the other way around. And, frankly, I don't have enough rum to let that remain the status quo!

At this point, now that I'm back from my semi-annual pilgrimige to the ocean, there seems to be a choice hanging in front of me. I can either choose to let things remain the same, at the expense of my health (migraines and other beasties are rising from the depths!), or I can start practicing what I've been reading, studying, and teaching for the last however many years. That means looking at the painful places in my psyche and doing the work needed to find balance. Ugh. I'm not looking forward to this at all.

It's just that the alternative - misanthropy, that hatred and distrust of humanity - is not that conducive to running a tight ship!

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Sea Worthy Weekend

My freedom from the job began this weekend with a wonderful "Date Night" with One Ring. We grabbed some dinner at a new (to us) Thai restaurant, then hustled over to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. While it was not as good, in my opinion, as the first one, it was still better than the second and third installment. All of the press that I saw suggested that it was based on Tim Power's novel On Stranger Tides. However, the end credits stated that the movie was "suggested by" the book. Which meant that there was very little similarity to Power's work. Which is a shame, because - as I've posted before - I found the book enjoyable.

Afterwards, One Ring asked me, "So was the movie like the book?" I told her that it was really not like it much at all. When she asked what they had in common, I answered, "Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth. Maybe zombies. I'm not sure about the mermaids." Vampire mermaids, I might add, who resembled Victoria Secret models trying to look like they stepped off the set of the Twilight movies. Sigh.

Still, it was a enjoyable film. Lots of action, several funny moments, and enough serious points to keep it from being an out and out comedy. Plus there was the added bonus of a Church of England priest being a central character. Finally, the combination of chaplains and pirates! Dude even picked up a sword! I came close to doing a happy dance at that point.

But that was not all that was sea worthy this weekend.

Sunday marked the return of my polymer clay classes. I had taken a six month hiatus due to the Dude arriving in the world, but now life's at the point where I could start teaching back up again. That's pretty awesome on a number of levels. I enjoy doing it, and it helps me to learn techniques. Like this past weekend, where I taught mokume gane - which is a done by layering thin sheets of different color clays, manipulating it by pressing objects down into the clay then back filling the holes they create, and then slicing thin layers off the top. I only had two students, but that worked out really well because I was able to give more attention and help them out.

Anyway, I have been trying to figure out how to create faux driftwood beads out of polymer clay. We don't get a lot of driftwood out my way (Tennessee, I'm sad to report!), and even if we did, I lack the equipment necessary to form them out of wood. Using the class as a jumping off point, I was able to create these beads, which I immediately put to use in one of my sea glass chokers. I'm actually wearing it at work now, which shows how pleased I am with the finished product. The beads aren't exact replicas of driftwood, but it's definitely the best result I've had thus far.

The beads.

And the sea glass choker where I put them to use.

I also created a sea glass necklace for my mother, with polymer clay beads made with the same technique, only different colors. A busy weekend, craft wise, but a very enjoyable one!

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Comments Section Back Up

A while back I mentioned that I had disabled comments on this here blog due to some strangeness coming from the Far East. When I would backtrack to see who these comment writers were (I don't speak Chinese), I found that it was one individual who had created at least twenty blogs - none of which had anything written on them!

Well, I'm hoping that this person has faded back into whatever fog bank he or she lives in (even gender was difficult to fathom!), and that if reasonably sane people wish to comment, they may. As I wrote on the signal page, though, "Keep it polite, keep it clean, and keep it in English, Matey!"

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One Ring and I are going to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides tonight. This will be our first "real" date (other than her parents watching our son so we can eat out or go to a coffee shop) since The Dude was born. I'm VERY much looking forward to this.

For someone who loves pirate lore, history, and inspired chaos, I have been remiss in getting out to see it. I've heard mixed reviews, from both pirates and lubbers, but the book upon which the movie is based was decent (I kept meaning to write a review, but never got around to it). At any rate, it should make for an enjoyable evening.

I've added some new links to the non-pirate list on the right. One's related to Lovecraft, one to the very well done Reasonable Doubts podcast, and one is Zen related. Take a look and enjoy. I also removed a few sites that I felt were underwhelming or redundant (Since I had both I can has cheeseburger and I has a hotdog, the cat lolz had to go). Hopefully they will not be missed.

Well, I have 15 minutes before I have to speak to a recovery group. Part of the job. Good news is that it's pretty much my last hurdle before the weekend.

Hopefully more will be written today after the group.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Big Loss in the Zen Community

I just found out that Charlotte Joko Beck died on June 15 while in hospice care. Granted I never met her, never studied under her, and only read one of her books (Everyday Zen: Love and Work), but that one book is considered necessary reading for anyone interested in Zen Buddhism, particularly Zen from a Western perspective. Beck taught, among other things, that we should work with our emotions and not seek to avoid them or dismiss them as not being real and powerful. Oftentimes people look at Buddhism as a sort of "feel good / not affected by anything" kind of religion or philosophy, when nothing could be further from the truth.

I confess that I'm going to have to go back and read that book again, but that is certainly not a bad thing. Since I have yet to find a teacher here in Nashville - although I did have a nice experience at a Theravadan temple a couple of weeks ago (more on that later) - more self study and meditation is called for.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Much Delayed Update

Back when I restarted this blog, I made a promise to myself to update it regularly, regardless of whether or not I thought anyone bothered to read it. I had to shut down the comments section because of weird Chinese spam that kept showing up. At any rate, now I have no way of knowing if these words are being read by anyone. But that's okay, because I sometimes find that simply writing on topics of interest, be it pirates, religion, Lovecraft and other science fiction, or my day, helps me to clear my head and work things out. So this space has a therapeutic use. When I use it. When I don't write, this blog serves more as a jumping off point to web sites that interest me.

All of which is to say that I feel better when I write, so I'm going to keep writing, if for no greater reason than it makes me feel better when I do so.

So, without further ado, here's the long anticipated update on my life, starting with the Great Tatoo Saga!

You might recall that when Tigger and Pooh visited us, I was supposed to go with Pooh over to a tattoo place near us and get inked up. The original design was an enso. But whereas ensos normally are black - they're done with calligraphy ink and a horse hair brush - I had seen one that was done with blue watercolors. I wanted that. But the guy we talked to said he only did black ink. No colors. You can read the whole sordid tale here.

Anyway, Pooh and Tigger went home, and I was left to figure out whether or not it was going to happen. Sharkbait (my brother) wanted me to wait until we got to Virginia next month to get it. But One Ring, of all people (she thinks tattoos are definitely not a necessary thing!), remembered hearing good things about another Tattoo studio / art gallery closer in to Nashville. So after a phone call and a couple of emails. Off to Blackbird Tattoo I went. I'll spare the details, but they were really nice with this newbie, and I'm happy with the end product:

This is the original design, which I came up with after having several long talks with One Ring and Pooh. Tigger went nuts with some graphics program and put it together. He spent so much time on it that they almost missed their flight!

The shell represents my Christian past and upbringing. The Scallop shell is a symbol of the ritual of Baptism. Then blue enso on it represents, of course, my interest in Buddhism - particularly Zen Buddhism. Blue also combines with the shell to sybolize my love of the ocean and my longing to return to it. I wanted the enso to look like it is engraved onto the shell, rather than just overlapping it. The pics don't really do it justice, but I was surprised by how well it turned out.

So now it's there. And one more thing has been crossed off my bucket list. Sometimes I think of getting one on my right arm, to balance it out, but that's an adventure for another day.

To be continued ...

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just Saying, That's All

I'll post more later in the day (I hope!), but for the moment I have to celebarate. I was two - yes, two years old! - the last time this happened! 1970 and 1972 were awesome years for Boston Bruins fans, and now we can add 2011 to that!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Office Deterrent!

Now let's see if it works!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This is the End. No, THIS is the End. No, Wait ...

Yeah, I know I should have posted stuff here a long time ago …

… but the world was supposed to end, and I have a rather large bucket list!

Boiling down the events of the past months into one cynical sentence, “An 89 year old head of a multi-million dollar radio station played on the beliefs and fears of people, used their millions of dollars of THEIR money to advance his agenda, failed to take responsibility for his failure, and now is doing it again!” Recap article is here.

Nothing is more irritating (for me) than having to sit through lunatic rantings and ravings about the end times. Never have enjoyed it, and never will. I’ve often wondered why I get so upset at cult leaders like the nutcase over at Family Radio (No, this time the world is REALLY going to end! … unless we made a mistake in our super secret math formulas. Again.) . I mean, I feel compassion towards the members, because it’s easy to fall under the spell of a charismatic person who seems to have all the answers, especially when times are tough and a person’s sense of self-worth may not be that high. But for the leaders, there is nothing but contempt in my heart.

Was I feeling more in a pirate-y mood, I’d make a comment about keelhauling or flogging or rendering into shark bait, but I’m not there today. Today I’m sitting at work with too much time on my hands and not enough things going on to make the day go by. Yeah, it’s great where I work … when there’s stuff to do. But when the doctor is on vacation, and the patients aren’t coming in and keeping me occupied, I get grumpy. And that’s what today is like.

So instead I’m wondering why people get wrapped up in this sort of end times hysteria. You would think that the whole Y2K thing would have convinced us that belief in that sort of thing is misguided, at best. We’ve done this so many times, after all. I remember hearing about Nostradamus when I was a teen. He supposedly predicted the end back in the 80s. Then it was the 90s with another group. Camping did it, too. Then I saw Pat Robertson of 700 Club fame say it was going to be 2000 (of course, he said this during one of his telethons, which didn’t lend him much credibility!). Now this. Don’t even get me started on the December 21, 2012 Mayan prediction!

So why? Why do people go for this type of thing? Why are people so eager to buy into a belief system that predicts an imminent end to the world, even after being fooled again, and again, and again …?

The only idea that I’ve been able to come up with is that if a prediction is coupled with a benefit – as in this case with the rapture preceding the destruction of the world – then it’s seen as a good thing by a certain segment of society. I saw somewhere that the baby boomers and older generations, basically those who have already experienced a lot that life has to offer, are generally liking this whole belief system. The younger bunch, especially the children of the rapture lovers, aren’t feeling it, because there’s still life to be lived.

This leads me to believe that the love of the apocalypse is essentially a suicide by proxy wish. People want to stop the pain that comes with everyday existence. It hurts to deal with relationships, careers, bills, getting older, health problems, and everything else that goes with living. We all have this desire to flee pain and move towards pleasure, however fleeting. With the belief that life will end, but people will live forever in paradise, one gets to wish for death without any of the negatives of harboring suicidal thoughts or desires. Since most religions tend to discourage, if not outright prohibit, suicide, there’s a cognitive disconnect that comes when a religious person gets weary of the pain. Looking forward to an imminent end of days brought on by a returning messiah takes care of that disconnect, and offers a way out of suffering.

I had a conversation with One Ring a couple of days ago during which I wondered what Christianity would look like if we could remove all the end times stuff. Get rid of Revelation; get rid of the chapters of Daniel that depict the end. Just wipe the Bible clean of all thoughts of an end, and get people to focus on the work that needs to be done in the here and now. You know, all that feed to hungry, house the homeless, visit the prisoner stuff. What would happen if we scrubbed the place clean of all it and focused on, I don’t know, the stuff that Jesus TAUGHT us to do?
But, of course I remembered that the guy himself was an apocalyptic teacher, as was John the Baptist before him. The Judeo-Christian tradition is rife with people who lived in horrible times, preaching that surely things were so bad that God would intervene and clean the mess up. I’m not sure what we would get if we removed that tradition, and kept the rest. I’m sure it would be wonderful, but would it still be Christian?

If it is not, and I suspect that removing the apocalyptic would render Christianity into a sort of quasi Unitarian Universalist faith, then is there any way it can be moderated? Is there any way we can help protect the vulnerable from being taken for a ride by Camping, Robertson, and their ilk? Is there any way, without becoming heavy handed and theocratic, that people can speak up and say, “No! It’s not the end! Go back to your lives and stop sending money to these morons!”

I hope so. ‘cause this is getting really old and is starting to give faith and religion a bad name.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

False Start on the Great Tattoo Adventure

Well, the great tattoo adventure didn’t go as planned. Tigger and Pooh have been visiting us for the last week, and the plan was for Pooh and I to go to the tattoo shop on Friday afternoon to get my long anticipated ink. I spent part of my lunch break playing around with MS Paint, tweaking the design and getting more and more psyched about the adventure. I’m not sure why I was getting so into this new thing. Maybe because it was an experience I had never had, and might never have again. Maybe because it was a way to rebel and do something absolutely foolish. Maybe because I’m trying to recapture some youth. At any rate, I was having fun, and as soon as I got done with a presentation to a bunch of supervisor trainees, I raced home and got ready.

The shop was right around the corner for my house, so getting there didn’t take long. When we walked in, the strong odor of cheap incense smacked us full in the face. I don’t mind incense; I medidated at the Tibetan Buddhist temple in Nashville and they used the stuff by the pound. But this was cheap, and my head soon developed a pretty nice headache. We looked around while waiting for the clerk to wait on us. The walls were wood panel, and decorated with random bits of cheap kitsch meant to convey a menacing tone. Ceremonial daggers, skulls, etc. Normally I like the goth stuff, especially in the fall and winter months. But this was haphazard and tacky. And dingy. When I'm thinking of having needles and my skin meet, the last thing I want to worry about is how dirty everything is! Strike two.

Strike three came when the artist came out to meet us. I showed him the design I had chosen months, perhaps even years, ago – a simple enso that I wanted shaded blue and looking like a watercolor painting. The guy apologized and said that he only did black tattoos – line art and lettering only. He hated to do color, he added, and recommended that I come back on Tuesday to meet the color artist. Pooh and I left, and I felt a little dejected. Putting things in a Buddhist context, I was clinging to the idea of getting a tattoo with Pooh, and when this plan went awry, suffering ensued.

So off we went to the other nearby shop I had scoped out online. Btw, for future reference, if you are ever checking tattoo places out, visit in person. Pictures never convey the whole vibe of a place, nor does a picture of a smiling dude holding a needle tell whether or not the guy knows what he’s doing.
Second place had a line and only one tattoo artist. He told us to call Saturday around 3 to see if he could squeeze us in. This wasn’t doable by our schedule, so off we went again.

So now I’m sitting here at work, without the tattoo I had told everyone I was getting. Not the end of the world, but disappointing nonetheless. One Ring suggested I call up a shop in downtown Nashville that is also an art gallery. The tattoos they have on display on their website are absolutely stunning. They don’t open until 1 though, so I’m going to have to wait to call and see if they have openings for this weekend. I imagine that they are in high demand, so I’m not getting my hopes up too much. I’m also still playing with the design, so it’s probably for the best that I didn’t get it done. If there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s regret for the next forty years of my life or an expensive laser removal treatment!

As I look back on this weekend, with the disappointment and irritation brought by derailing of my tattoo adventure, I realize just how far I need to go on this journey of controlling my ego and my desires as well as developing mindfulness. The fact that my mood went sour for the rest of the day, even though I recognized the reasons behind it (cravings, etc.), shows me that I’m not as far along as I want to be. Of course, even that statement shows that I have desires about my spiritual and psychological development, which brings even more suffering. Sheesh.
Oh, well. Life goes on. If there wasn’t progress to be made, and learning and growth to be done, I guess there wouldn’t be much in life that was exciting! I suppose that where I am, tattoo or no, is where I am, and what happens, happens, and it is what it is. Or something like that.

I’ll try to post more later, as developments occur.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Tattoo Time!

I have an appointment to get the long discussed, long planned, probably ill conceived tattoo today. Yes, it will involve the ocean. Yes, it will involve Zen. Hopefully, it won't suck!

Pictures to follow.

P.S. And yes, I know it has been several weeks since I last updated. This will change. Stuffs be happening!

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Monday, April 25, 2011

I Write Like ... Who?

I took an online quiz a few moments ago by sending in a sample of my writing. From this blog, I might add, and not from the chart notes or the more official sounding letters I have to write at work. This was the result:

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

So I looked up the dude on, and it turns out that Gasp! Shock! he's a blogger, among other things. He's also a sci-fi novelist, which doesn't suck, either. Wonder if the local library carries his stuff? Have to check on that. Here's some more information on him, if you're so inclined to look him up.

I'm going to put in a full post later, as soon as my brains stop hurting. I hate pollen season. I really, really do.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

At Least I'm Honest About It.

It's been that kind of day. I can't talk about what happens at work, due to all kinds of rules, regulations, mores, ethics, details, forms in triplicate, standards, and people in suits who wear dark glasses (sometimes). But let's just say that lying usually factors into it one way or another. And that gets old really, really, fast. So the real struggle, lately, is finding ways to keep going even as the insanity of the workplace increases exponentially, sometimes to the point where I expect the laws of physics to break down and the game of "opposite day" that we played as children to become reality.

I guess the big question is: how crazy should one be in order to out crazy the crazies, and thus remain sane?

Or something like that. Life is a paradox, you know.

Anywho ...

Ugh ... my head hurts. Pollen has been off the charts here. In fact three of the top 5 "Worst places for pollen in the US" are in Tennessee. Which means I REALLY want to be somewhere else! One Ring and the Dude are both feeling low, and I suspect this is the reason.

The day is finally winding down now, and I'm taking a moment away from paperwork and client sessions to try and gather myself for what comes after work. Today that means picking up the Dude from day care and then going home and mowing the lawn. It's a beautiful day (aside from the pollen), so I really shouldn't complain about having to mow grass. Great way to practice mindfulness, walking meditation, etc., etc. Except that I HATE MOWING THE LAWN! One Ring won't let me pave it, though, and I suspect that the neighborhood association - miserable bunch of lubbers that they are - would protest as well. So there it is, all weeds. And here I am, going to mow it.

I keep telling One Ring that we need to follow John "Ol' Chumbucket" Bauer's lead and move to the Caribbean. She can write her dissertation on the beach, and I can - I don't know - open an expensive therapeutic retreat center for people who actually pay for their therapy! What's not to like about that? It's not like people won't want to visit us!

One day, lads. One day ...

Until then, it's guitar lessons and pedal building projects. My Brian May Treble Booster hit yet another snag the other day when I discovered that there was a missing capacitor that was on the diagram but not on the parts list. And since most of the Radio Shacks around us have died, I had to order the 35 cent part and have it shipped. Hopefully that will fix everything and the "Killer Queen," as I'm calling it, will work. If not, I may have to rethink this hobby. I still need to pull the Tube Screamer clone apart and rewire it. Not looking forward to that chore, but considering the money I've sunk into it, I really don't want to have to toss it or scrap it for parts.

Well, theh hour is moving on and the paperwork isn't getting any smaller. Hopefully I'll be able to write more tomorrow.

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The Best of Both (of my) Worlds!

I plan on blogging more this afternoon (assuming the work insanity dies down), but when I came across this at Pirate Mod's website, I had to post right away. I think it suits me just fine!

So if you happen to bump into One Ring, tell her that this would make a great gift. : )

More later ...

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Ho, Hum

Nothing much eventful of late, either pirate related or otherwise. Life has been encompassed by my new role as father. I’m only working a half-day today as I have to take the Dude in for his 4 month shots and examination. Not looking forward to that at all, but I am pleased to give One Ring a break from hearing him cry. She took it hard when he got his first round, and I really don’t want to see her suffer like that again. Fortunately, at this stage of life he really doesn’t have his long term memory developed, so he’ll forget it once the pain dies away. I’ll just hang at the house and console him until One Ring gets home from work.

In other news, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (“On Stranger Tides”) is coming out soon. Disney World is adding a woman pirate to the mix (played in the movie by Penelope Cruz), over by the ride and The Pirates League, where they dress children (and adults) up as pirates. I’ve already promised the Dude that when he’s old enough, we’re both going to get dressed up. Of course, he’s four months old, so this won’t happen for quite a while!

I’m actually looking forward to the movie for a couple of reasons. One, because I’ve read the book and found it to be an entertaining, although not realistic at all, read. And two, I’m psyched because Blackbeard is a main character. He’s played by Ian Mcshane, and from the trailers it appears that he’s doing a pretty good rendition of the historical pirate. You might recall that I grew up in Virginia Beach, VA, not far from where Blackbeard was captured in North Carolina, and even closer from where the British force that did the deed was sent (Norfolk, VA). Every year in Hampton, VA there’s the Blackbeard Festival. I’d love to be able to get home again to see it, but unfortunately we have too much on our plate this year.

In terms of Sea related news in me life, the only major thing is that I’m still working with sea glass and polymer clay. I am trying to create realistic looking driftwood beads out of clay and stringing them with wire wrapped sea glass to create chokers. I’ve got one done so far, but the beads came out more tan than gray. They look fine – more like sand than driftwood – so the effect is still “beach-y.” But I still want driftwood, so it’s back to the drawing board. One Ring, Dude, and I are heading back to VB around the fourth, so hopefully I’ll have a couple done by then to give as gifts to my family.

Music news is still not really exciting, either. I’m getting more and more into the Blues, and have upgraded the pickups in my Laguna with Bill Lawrence single coils and a humbucker to get that bluesy sound. I had to tear apart my Tubescreamer clone build and someday I hope to be able to de-solder and redo the wiring so I can prevent the shorting and other issues that rendered it inoperative after a few weeks of use. I’ve started the Brian May Treble Booster project, which I’m calling the “Killer Queen.” I still have to solder the components, but it’s a much simpler build than the TS, so it should be done shortly. Aside from the cosmetic touches, that is. I need to print out decals, paint the enclosure red, and possibly do some other things to make it look good. Even more important, I have to make sure it WORKS. Which, in my experience with DIY guitar pedal building, is easier said than done.

Okay, that’s enough for now. I need to clean up a few things here at the office and then get the Dude to the doctor. Poor guy. I know it’s for all the right reasons and necessary, but I hate to see him hurt.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Accounting for Lost Time

I've been mulling over writing a post or two detailing my adventures during my absence from updating this here blog. In amongst the ups and downs of life, I've wavered between the opinions of "Hey, I want to write down every little thing that's happened!" to "I'm not sure I'll ever write an entry again!" Obviously, I've decided to write something, and it will probably be somewhere in the middle. I tend to take the middle path, which usually works for me unless we're talking about walking down roads ...

So, where have I been, what have I been doing, why have I decided to write again, and why would anyone even care?

Of course, the biggest reason for my absence is this li'l swab right here:

Simon - someday to be the "Dread Pirate" Simon, "Black" Simon, or even "Don't ever think I was named after Simon Cowell!" Simon - was born on December 9th. And yes, his room is decorated in an aquatic / nautical theme and he has a jar with sand and doubloons on his bureau!

After years of thinking that I was going to be a selfish, curmudgeonly old childless man of the sea, (God, Karma, the Universe, etc. Fill in your choice here) decided that such was not to be. Simon hit our home port like a hurricane, swamping our plans and causing us to rethink everything about how the rest of our lives are going to play out. Needless to say, my thoughts of going on account and fleeing to the Caymans will not be coming to fruition!

Today was his first day at day care, which fortunately is located in the very hospital where I work. Unfortunately, it means that I am no longer thinking about work at all, and only wondering about how many trips I can make over there before someone wises up to the fact that I'm not working! At any rate, we'll be carpooling until One Ring finishes her dissertation and gets ready to graduate. After that comes the big move to parts unknown. I've checked all of the preferred pirate-y spots - St. Croix, the Caymans, St. Thomas, Port Royal, etc. - and unfortunately no one thought to build major universities in any of those sites. So it looks, again, like I'll be living like a lubber until fortunes change.

In the meantime, I'm still in this land-locked state of Tennessee, and was gradually being bled dry of my love of all things nautical. I had almost decided to scuttle this ship o' the internet for good, and keep it only has a handy way to link to some of my interests. But then something wonderful happened. I saw the ocean again.

Last month One Ring, Simon, and I headed home to the coast of Virginia to see family and friends. While there I walked on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay (which has its own pirate history, thank you very much!), breathed in its salty air, and collected sea glass. It was like falling in love all over again. I even made a choker using the sea glass. The beads were designed to reflect the beach, with greys and tans for the driftwood and sand found there.
And I knew that, no matter where I be holed up, I be a pirate for life, matey!

But after that it was back to Tennessee and work and guitar lessons and whatever else I could do to keep me out of trouble (until I get me a ship, that is ... then all bets are off!). I had a custom electric guitar built by my instructor - he's starting his own luthier business - and it just ROCKS. Dual humbuckers, the bridge is a Van Halen and the neck one is a Van Zandt. Now I just have to get better at playing it! I've gotten into the Blues, so that neck pickup just shines when I solo.

Also in music news, I built a Tubescreamer clone pedal from a kit. I didn't really need it, due to the fact that I own a Line 6 Spider IV modeling amp, but it was a lot of fun learning how pedals work and building my own. And, to be honest, I think the pedal sounds better than the amp. But I could be biased. I need to work some bugs out of the circuitry, though. My soldering was not the best - it was a first attempt - so I may have to go back and redo some of the joints.

Okay, time to wrap this up and go see how me first matey is doing in day care. It be lunch time.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

All I can say is ...

... if your ships run aground on a reef, and you still paddle upriver to sack a city (in this case Panama City - then called Panama Viejo), you are one determined pirate! Henry Morgan did exactly that in 1671, when his flagship, Satisfaction, and its three sister ships all crashed into a reef. He and his troops went up the river, marched through the jungle, and plundered and pillaged the their hearts content.

What makes this news today is that archeologists have found cannons from the wreck site. That this is huge archeological news goes without saying. The survey and excavation of the area is ongoing, so I'm sure I'll be posting new reports as they become available. And once there's a website created for the Satisfaction wreck, I'll post a link there as well.

On a somewhat lighter note, the Captain Morgan Rum Company awarded a BARREL of spiced rum to each member of the expedition, renamed a section of the distillery after them, and promised an unspecified monetary reward if they find bottles of the Morgan's rum still believed to be buried on the site. Here's a link to that article.

All of which leads me to ask, "Why can't I get a job like that???"

Thanks to Bilge Munkey for alerting me about this!

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Because Irish Pirates Have Better Luck!

Pirate Mod is having a sale on St. Patrick's Day related Pirate shirts and accessories. Just thought I'd throw that out there, in case anyone is feeling kind and generous and wants to buy me a present. Just sayin'.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Because it Worked Oh, So Well the Last Time

Yep, the Somali aquatic terrorist brigade are once again after the Maersk Alabama. I guess having Navy SEAL snipers wiping out your team isn't enough of a wake up call.

And, as an aside, they are not pirates! The proper designation should be something else, since they are land based out of Somalia and not free roaming and sea based like the pirates of the Golden Age. As Mark Summers, who co-founded the annual Talk Like a Pirate Day, says in a WSJ article, "There ought to be a different word for pirates in their current incarnation." He suggests, according to the same article, "sea-thugs, boat-muggers, or kelp-festooned kidnappers." I tend to agree, no matter what the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says.

Anyway, this latest attack on the Maersk Alabama was an abysmal failure, too. I guess you could say, in the words of my in-laws, "Roll Tide!"

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Early Art from The Pirates of the Caribbean (the ride)

I was surfing the web yesterday, looking for something interesting to post ... pirate related, of course. I happened by chance upon these early postcards drawn by Mark Davis, one of the original artists who designed the Pirates of The Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World. Here's the link to the whole set, and here are a few examples if you don't want to go to the site.

I don't know why, but the skeleton helmsman is one of my favorite displays of the ride. Whereas most of Pirates leans towards humor (although my wife continues to point out that the sale of women is always, always, always wrong!), the first few scenes are very dark. There are the skeletons of sailors killed before they could (presumably) give up the location of buried treasure, and then the above scene. And the whole while the ominous voice is proclaiming that "Dead men tell no tales!" I love it!

Interesting also are the bits of wisdom offered up.

But, of course, not all of the postcard art is of the skeletons. Some are quite humorous. Case in point.

Here's the link again to see the whole collection.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Careening the Hull

Boring day at work today, so I'm taking the time to do some much needed repairs to me ship o' the net. Old links have been removed, new ones added, and I've moved sections to where they flow better topic-wise. As always, the preferred subject will be the Golden Age of Piracy and related topics, but aside from the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie - based on a Tim Powers novel that I've read and will review here at some point - such topics are few and far between here in the landlocked state of Tennessee. So other bits of flotsam and jetsam will surely wash on board every now and then.

All of which to say that the jolly roger will once again be hoisted. Watch the horizon, mateys!

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Yes, I am a Pirate

Avast there mateys! I be alive and kickin', and find meself finally coming back from my exile deep within this here land locked state. A lot of miles and adventures have transpired since I last wrote an entry in me logbook, and a word or three is long overdue.

So I be plannin' to redesign the blog and drastically increase the entries, add and remove some links, and do my best to make this space worth my and your time here. No more aimless sailing about!

So keep a weather eye on this ledger. Stuff be happening!

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