Monthly Archives: September 2011

Going on the Account: RED JENNY Thirty One

Part Thirty One of RED JENNY AND THE PIRATES OF BUFFALO in now up, and may be read here.


Please note that the next posting will be two weeks from today; the Lovely and Talented Susan and I will be celebrating both our anniversary and her birthday, and befitting the very important people everyone has in their life I will be giving her the vast majority of my attention.

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Going on the Account: RED JENNY Part Thirty

Part Thirty of RED JENNY AND THE PIRATES OF BUFFALO in now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: Everything You Know Is Wrong…?

Yes, the quote’s from a title of an old Firesign Theater album that I listened to too many times years ago; seems appropriate somewhat as the following items hit the wires:

*  According to National Geographic, pirates didn’t talk like pirates.  OK, admittedly, we don’t have recordings of old pirates speaking about the good old days in the 1710s, and maybe Robert Newton’s pulling from his native West Country where the novel starts for inspiration may have colored what we think they sounded like.  And perhaps pirates spoke more like folks from where they grew up and spoke in a polyglot aboard their ships that sounded less like Treasure Island and more like Call It Sleep.  Which in many ways could be a lot cooler, the more you consider it.

But then again, as was said once in a John Ford film, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”  So sure, not all pirates sounded like Robert Newton, but who are we to want to denude the Brethren of the Coast of some of their more colorful characteristics?  Do we really want to claim pirates didn’t speak in a way that doesn’t make your ears pick up and draw your attention?  And really, what would we replace such colorful phrasing with?  Brooklynese?

Eh yose guys, I’ll shiver yer timbers if you don’ stop mucking aroun’ over there and hand me yer freekin’ booty, capiche?

No, let’s keep the tradition for a while longer every September 19th, OK…?

* A story in Gizmodo about US war plans against the British Empire drawn up in 1930 is worth noting for a few reasons, among them my tendency to be drawn to AltHis pieces.  (I even once upon a time gave a how-to on crafting AltHis pieces; good days, those…)


What’s interesting in this is how the heart of the plan to get back at the British involved going through Canada.  Which seems odd considering how badly the last few invasions went off.  There’s no guarantee that this plan from 1930 would have succeeded any better than the last few tries, or go better for us than some have predicted it might…

Speaking of wrong as in “Just plain wrong,” there’s a lot of griping about Facebook’s new changes.  They say that a lot of folks may move over to Google+ this time, finally, after one change too many.

I’m staying with Facebook for the moment, and I can be found there if you’re so inclined.  Just in case you might like what’s online over here and are looking for a lot more.  No pressure, just saying…

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Going on the Account: Better Late Than… Ah Hell…

Yeah, another year of bad planning on my part, another year of not doing anything special for International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

I swear, I do this day almost as badly as I do New Year’s Eve…


Hell, I barely had time to fire up Syd Meyer’s Pirates in order to watch the game display in pirate-speak.  I suppose I could reset the clock on my computer to get it to do that,but that’s like trying to set up your Christmas tree around Memorial Day.  And as likely to engage in acts crazed as I am, a character from HOLIDAY WARS I ain’t…


About the best I can do for what’s left of today is share a piece from about pirate phrases in Somali.  Yeah, as far as trying to keep the spirit of the day alive, waxaa na haysto mashaakil, big time…

My belated wishes for booty and smooth sailing to everyone, and hoping you at least had fun.

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Going on the Account: RED JENNY Twenty Nine

Part Twenty Nine of RED JENNY AND THE PIRATES OF BUFFALO in now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: Say What…?

I had brought to my attention this piece in the PW Genreville Blog by Brown and Smith.  Their post, about a literary agent that asked that a gay character for a potential YA book either be ‘realigned’ or forced back into the closet (and might have been allowed to stay out of the closet if he was white), struck a cord with me on a few levels:


  • In this day and age, there should be no invisible characters that a writer can’t consider putting in the work he or she is working on.  Ever.  Years of Western culture and tradition did not lead us to a place where we start having boundaries put up before us.
  • If it is a “market consideration,” as Brown and Smith suggest, and it’s all in the name of Ars Gratia Pecuniam , then the argument of the so-called “Free Market” would suggest that if it is indeed in everyone’s best interest for such a character to remain in the work, and let the audience accept this person themselves as opposed to being walled away from that character.
  • And if market considerations are the real culprit, why does the blog Poking Badgers with Spoons have not one but three lists containing published works with major LGBTQ and non-white characters?


Should I get annoying here and suggest that the main pressure on writers not to go there is coming not from Publisher’s Row, but Hollywood, where everyone writing genre YA wants to end up following in the footsteps of a certain post-apoc spectacle contestant who is trying to fill a void left behind by a Joseph Campbell-esque starred sorcerer…?  The truly evil cynic would suggest that the character descriptions some folk are considering is the one that comes long after the first draft is sent to the editor.  Long, long after the book is written…


Though sometimes, not that long after, after all…


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Going on the Account: Why She Takes the Sweet Trade

Small Warning: Slight language warning for following…

Saw a post on about a new movie going online next month:  GHOSTS WITH S*IT JOBS.  The premise of the piece concerns a documentary done in 2040, about 20 years or so after the Western economy collapses, focusing on those born in the slums of Toronto who take on menial jobs that no one in China is willing to do.


It looks interesting as it comes up with menial degrading jobs of the future, such as human spambot and wild silk foragers, and just about any piece that tries to imagine economic changes in the future draws my attention.

And besides, with jobs like that potentially being available if North America faces a major downgrade, could you blame people wanting to go on the account…?

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Going on the Account: RED JENNY Twenty Eight

Part Twenty Eight of RED JENNY AND THE PIRATES OF BUFFALO in now up, and may be read here.

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Going on the Account: If You Want to See Them Again…

Word hit the wires today that the Johansen family of Denmark were ransomed.  Seven months and three million dollars later, a family with kids between the ages of 12 and 16 are finally on their way home.

Admittedly, it’s a better fate than what befell the Scott and Jean Adam, but that’s rather small comfort in the aggregate.

Disregard any such romance about being taken by pirates you might have heard about or read.  Unlike tales along the lines of this one, being a hostage is a lot like being in an armed conflict, with long periods of boredom punctuated by seconds of terror, except that hostages don’t get to shoot back.  It’s a horrible existence that I have yet to hear anyone say in recalling their captivity, “Oh yeah, totally dug it.”  And being held for seven months for a young kid about the age of my son just does not sound like a great source of fond childhood memories, sorry.

Which makes the whole issue of kidnapping as an activity for pirates to pursue difficult to justify.  Yes, a reaction like mine from the victims’ loved ones shows how viable a tactic it is, in that ransoms are more likely to come quickly for people than cargo.  But even putting aside the pure economics, the hidden costs should make one pause:  The raw visceral reaction toward hostage takers that makes them more likely to pay up also makes them more likely to go after them when the business is over.

When piracy moves away from being economics by other means and becomes personal, the emotions get in the way.  A good example is what happened to the crew that took the SV Quest almost immediately after the incident went south.  And if there’s no immediate resolution, there can be a festering revenge to worry about, as the Sicilian pirates learned after Julius Caesar’s ransom was paid.

And sometimes, he reaction you’re looking for to get that quick payday just isn’t there, as an incident with a certain red haired person can demonstrate…


(What, you thought I was going to link to here and here through here?  What kind of opportunist SOB do you take me for…?)

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Going on the Account: Sailing Into Far Away Ports

Just got back from a few days away in Salem.  (For those who like to read RED JENNY a little ahead of the official announcement, I didn’t get back until late last night and not online until this morning, hence the delay.)  And yes, there was fun to be had that ties in with everything here…


One of the high points of the venture was a visit to the New England Pirate Museum.  While Salem, Massachusetts is best known for the events of 1692 and the long legacy thereof, she also has a colorful maritime history that does indeed involve the Sweet Trade.  Many of the tales told by the guide that took us through the recreations staged on sets in wax were quite engaging and gave a strong sense of the character of the pursuit therein.  Tales of Dixie Bull and Jack Quelch amidst these sets were delivered in an entertaining manner that helped give the listeners a good sense of the life of a pirate and the world in which they sailed.

(My only little quibble was in calling Thomas Tew a “New England pirate;”  local pride and evidence that most of Tew’s booty and support were based here in New York makes me claim him for this side.  And since as of this writing you’ve already got the upper hand, a little generosity might not be that hard to offer…?)


If the fine work these folks at the New England Pirate Museum don’t convince you of Salem’s claims to fame amongst those in the Sweet Trade, a few rangers at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site can cite the large amount of booty that enabled the port to come to prominence as she did, along with her trade.  Yes, if pressed, they will admit that eighty percent of this was under letter of marque, but as we’ve noted here before, getting a license to do search and seizure is just legitimized piracy, so big diff…

Also of interest to anyone looking at Salem’s maritime history is the Friendship of Salem, an active East Indiaman replica that makes forays out with volunteers to visit other harbors.  (I’m still kicking myself that she managed to pull into port here last month and I managed to miss that event…)  Having been aboard her and seen how she would have been armed to fend off attackers (which the original did while sailing in Asian waters), that had she been seized and taken on the account that the Friendship would have proven to be a rather formidable raider…


(As an aside, during my time up north there was a piece cited about the potential for a new war in the South China Sea, where the Friendship of Salem plied her trade.  Love how these coincidences keep popping up…)


The short takeaway from all this is, I would heartily recommend a visit to Salem if you have a chance.  The maritime history is worth exploring, and the New England Pirate Museum makes for a good diversion after you’ve gone to visit her two sister museums and debated with folks there the whole “Is Salem the model for Lovecraft’s Arkham?” question.  (The answer to that seems to depend on whether the polled can answer, “Who is H.P. Lovecraft?”…)


Longer term, having seen the care and approach to how the warm, friendly locals care for their piratical legacy, it makes me consider what I can do here as far as our local history goes.  This could be the genesis of a side project; I don’t like to promise things too early on, but if it does come to a form of fruition, this is the seed wherefrom it came…

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Going on the Account: RED JENNY Twenty Seven

Part Twenty Seven of RED JENNY AND THE PIRATES OF BUFFALO in now up, and may be read here.

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