Monthly Archives: August 2012

Going On The Account: RED JENNY Seventy Seven

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

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Going On The Account: Sunset To The East

According to a piece in today’s NY TIMES, the number of pirate attacks reported off the Horn of Africa are down over 80% comparing this year so far versus all of 2011.


So far, Combined Task Force 151 is not claiming victory, which is never a good idea in any event, but they are citing improved security measures as the reason for the drop off.  The article above does discuss how the Navy is citing better enforcement as the the reason for the greater security for shipping.


No mention in the article is made about Somalia’s improving domestic stability, although passing mention is made about renewed political turmoil possibly spiking the figures should it occur.


Yeah, even the bad jokes sometimes try to write themselves…

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Going On The Account: Ship to Shore

I know I said that I was going to be offline for the week, but I had to come closer in to thank Susan Rocan at Mywithershins for posting an interview she conducted with me.  I have to say, I thought she asked some very tough questions; part of me kept hoping that she graded on a curve…


As noted earlier, I’m going to be out of touch for most of the week otherwise, and back ashore by this time next week.  In the meantime, to reiterate the point, I leave you with this…


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Going On The Account: Spotting False Flags

The whole debate about whether writers just “make stuff up” or draw from their life experience, and if so how much of each, took an interesting turn when Jay Caspian Kang broke down a passage from his novel The Dead Do Not Improve over at Gawker.  It’s an interesting read, watching him take apart his passage and declaring which bits he made up and which he lived.


Frankly, I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do that.  A certain amount of what I share online is obviously fictitious, such as, say, firing four pounders at square rigs off the coast of Florida, so I’m not ashamed to highlight where the heavy schloffing took place.  Frankly, I’m rather proud of my schloffing, truth be told, or not…


As for pointing out where the drawing in the IRL materials occurred, I don’t know if that’s my place to do that.  I have fond memories of pursuing an English degree, watching professors proudly share their research where they tore apart text to show where a writer got his or her inspiration; who am I to deny scholars a chance at building tenure from reading my work by spoiling it for them…?


I personally blame James Frey for this. Hell, I’d blame Dick Cheney on James Frey if I thought I could get away with it, but this charge is more likely to stick, but anyway…  After Frey’s A Million Little Pieces came out, he tried to pass that off as a memoir, an account which could not be verified by The Smoking Gun when they failed to find his arrest record, leading the whole thing to shatter into a mill-

OK, yeah, that was going to be glib; gotta watch that…


But then, after all of that, he’s still writing, going on to use his name to become a hack mill, getting someone else to do the heavy lifting because he could offer someone access.  And I thought that when you did write-for-hire like that, you were supposed to be working under a better quality name that that, which means either H. L. Mencken was right (again) or there are way to many desperate MFA holders out there…


The point is, does this really matter this much?  Do all writers of fiction have to have some sort of authenticity to make their work credible?  Do we ignore the people who write if they admit that they dreamed up too much of their work?


If we did go that route, that would mean I’d have to give up on one of my inspirations, Stephen Vincent Benet.  Here was a writer who could move quite comfortably between historical, fantasy, SF, Westerns, and go further afield into poetry.  Would a man of pure letters still find an audience among readers demanding “authenticity”?  Would someone with talent who didn’t conveniently stick to just one genre still be taken on by an agent or a publisher, if they thought he couldn’t be properly branded?

That’s an authentic concern, right there…


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Going On The Account: RED JENNY Seventy Six (Gimme A Break)

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


As I warned you, I’m going to need at least a week off this summer, and next week’s the one I planned for.  I’ll be a bit out of touch for the next few days, possibly signaling to shore as the chance presents, but don’t expect a lot out of me for a while.  Not that I encourage a lot of expectations, mind you…

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Going On The Account: Not Quite Hoisting the Jolly Roger, And Yet…

You know, with the long tradition pirates and privateers have had for on occasion being courtly as they seized prizes, you would think people would be less surprised when Somali pirate Jamal Faahiye Culusow started handing out courteous memos to ship owners whose vessels were now his prizes.


Then again, we see so many pieces about rude drivers, kids not sending thank you notes, poor sportsmanship by fans, and what have you, that maybe for most of us this is a novelty…

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Going On The Account: Don’t Cry For Me…

So apparently another good reason to be a writer in Argentina is, you can qualify for a pension.

I knew I should have taken Spanish in high school…

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Going On The Account: For The Record

Let me make one thing perfectly clear:

No, we are not related.

At.  All.

So stop asking, damnit!

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Going On The Account: RED JENNY Seventy Five

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

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Going On The Account: Things Are Tough All Over

Apparently, piracy is not a recession-proof industry.

You have seven seconds to give your own version of the universal response to such a statement, a “Doy-hey!” for stating what on its face should be obvious…


But, you see, nothing actually happens in an economic setting unless an observer files an article or paper about it.  And between Business Insider and the Christian Science Monitor declaring the last month to be dismal, we can now state with confidence that piracy off Somalia is not as lucrative as it has been.  Between this and the US Attorney General getting a court to agree that an unwanted boarding can be ruled an act of piracy in the USS Ashland case, these are definitely lean times for pirates there.


Which, like all business cycles, is an inevitability.  Yes, there is a down side to all motions, a bust for a boom.  All we can do is try and stay on the ride long enough for the good part, then bail before it gets bad.  Pirates have lean and fat times, home owners see devaluations along with increases, stocks take hits with their rises, such is the cycle.  Hell, fourteen years ago, gold was going for $288 an ounce, and despite what some baboons have stated despite the foolishness they engendered, gold will well go down again barring an economy that shifts from following the Libor rate to one that determines wealth on how many shots you need to kill a rioter…


Do we want to see more pirates on the sea?  Frankly, this is a business I would not mind seeing go into transition.  If instead of pirates the men and women of Somalia could make a living by other, safer, legal means, that would be preferable.  Not that they should lose the lessons gained from such experiences, the subject of a post slated for September 19th, but to be honest, there are better ways to earn a living than getting shot at by a joint naval task force…




PS:  Speaking of lean times, mention must be made of Byron Wilkins’ 1977 being a victim of the cycles mentioned above.  He’s stated that if he can, he’d like to continue, though that as of this moment is up in the air.  Which means that if you want to see his strip about a band of up-and-coming rockers from the 1970s have a chance to continue, now would be a good time to purchase some product from him; just sayin’ here…

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Going On The Account: Coming Together, Right Now, Over Me…

Funny how it all seems to run together at times:

So this is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, known among the British as “that damned distraction keeping us from dealing with that Corsican bloke.”  This is something I’ve been confronting a few times this year between a recent trip to Fort McHenry and an upcoming trip north, which will include a visit to Ottawa.  In fact, one of the people we’re going to see in Ottawa forwarded to the Lovely and Talented Susan a link to the following spot running up north commemorating the conflict:

In between sojourns, we had a few moments to take in some of the local sights with our friends, including a visit to Sagamore Hill, the home of Theodore Roosevelt and the first “summer White House.”  While the house is not open while they go through an extensive renovation, they did have a museum open regarding the man’s major accomplishments, including discussing his first major book.

Yes, there is a reason he’s mentioned here:  His first book, published in 1882, was a work entitled The Naval War of 1812.  The book is available for download via Project Guttenberg and iTunes if you want to get a perspective on the war from a figure who goes on to make his own history later.

Which among other things included a run for the White House as a third party candidate, which this is the centenary of.  I’m going to leave the semi-obvious snide conclusions about parallels to more incendiary bloggers; it’s too damn hot outside to go into that much vitriolic detail…

Besides, I didn’t get that much sleep last night; all these coincidences may have had something to do about that dream last night where a bull moose chased after Laura Secord through the woods, heading north through the gloom…


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Going On The Account: On Even Stranger Tides

So, among the news feed items regarding pirates, such as the release of the crew of the MV Albedo nearly two years after their capture off Somalia and how piracy is hobbling Android apps, was this piece from about how there was action during the Golden Age of Piracy on the Hackensack River.


Which shouldn’t surprise anyone, really; as New York became a more active port, where better to base to hit the trade coming in and out than marshy water where a low draft vessel can slide in and out of quickly and disappear into the reeds when finished?  Supposedly the situation was so bad that British and later American authorities had to set fire to the woods, which were aflame for three days, to drive the pirates out.


Unfortunately, the article suggests that there was so little written about the event at the time because there was no romance to be found in such actions, and so the happenings there were considered to be folklore until recently.  At best, the lives these buccaneers lived because of the lack of accounts had to mean that their existence was not worth writing about.


Well, here’s another item on the list for a future project for me:  The Pyrates of Secaucus…

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