Big News and Lots of Work

Bunch of things in the last two weeks – Here’s the best.

jack-and-caseyMy eldest son, Jack, sent me two photos on New Year’s Eve. One was of him and his girlfriend, Casey, a picture we’d requested a little while earlier. When decorating for the holidays we’d noticed that our family photos were getting a little dated – we like the older photos, but we didn’t have anything current.

The other was this. Somewhere in that gray blur is my first grandchild. Yeah, sometime in August I’m going to become a grandfather. Yippee!

I have never pujack-and-casey-21shed my kids to procreate. I’m not against the idea of grandchildren, far from it, I just want them to live their lives. But Tori has noticed for several years that I have been paying more attention to babies in the supermarket and elsewhere around town. Or on TV. It’s all she can do to keep me from playing with their toes. That ‘s not a good thing, touching some stranger’s baby, and I have refrained. Tori says I’ve lapsed into permanent “grandpa mode.”

What can I say, babies are cute. It seems like a pretty great way to start life.

I have friends my age who have been grandparents for 20 years or more. One who is a great grandparent. And that’s been fine for them. Like I said, I never was in a hurry for my kids to reproduce. I want them to get their lives in shape and on track, make sure they’re responsible for themselves before they become responsible for someone else.

Well, Jack is 37, a librarian in the Berkeley Public Library System in California. A respected professional and something of an authority on graphic novels and comics – he’s a regular panelist at San Diego Comicon. I think he’s good to go.

Tori and I have joked that whichever of our kids became parents first, that’s where we’d move. Well, cost of living in the Bay Area is crazy high, so that’ll take some planning (and perhaps winning the lottery. Or at least selling some movie rights.) But for the short term, it sure changes our travel plans for the year. We’ll definitely be heading to the West Coast in late summer or early fall to meet the little sprat. Can’t wait.

In the meantime, I’m working on my new project and I like it a lot. You always do at this stage. It’s when you get about halfway to two-thirds in that things start getting hard. But this is a story with a lot of potential and I’m very excited about it.

Tori is arranging a time after school when I can read chapters to a group of students, whose feedback will help shape the story. That’s the same way it worked for “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter” and it was very helpful.

I can’t even write the title here yet, because it pretty much gives the whole story. It’s not a pirate story. It’s something different. I want it to be equal parts funny and exciting. It’s a stretch for me, and that’s a good thing. What do you learn if you keep doing the same thing over and over?

Sadly, I didn’t get much work done on it that last two weeks. I just finished a 12-day stint of work for my day-job, which is a misnomer since most of it is done at night. Working desk shifts for the Source until 1 or 2 in the morning, then getting up at 6 to get Tori and Max off to school. By the time they’re out the door I’ve been kind of brain dead, so not much writing has been going on.

But my colleague is back and I’m on the job again. Looking forward to getting back to the adventure of Connor and Ronnie and their struggle to save their town from an unspeakable horror.

Blackbeard vs. Trump

Are Capn’ Slappy and I prescient, or just really lucky? Probably lucky, but don’t automatically assume we’re *not* psychic, or at least psycho.

In our 2008 book, “The Pirate Life,” we had fun comparing Blackbeard with blustery business mogul Donald Trump. At the time we wrote it we kinda hoped he would take offense and launch a feud against us. It’d great publicity, and it wouldn’t cost us anything! But no such luck.

We never in a million years would have guessed what the future had in store for him. If we were writing it today, it might be a little different, but probably not that much. Anyway, here’s what we wrote eight years ago.

Blackbeard vs. Trump

(Excerpted from “The Pirate Life: Unleashing Your Inner Buccaneer,” by John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers, published by Kennsington Publishing Corp. and copyright 2008. All rights reserved.)

One was an icon of his age – a ruthless, take-no-prisoners type who terrorized merchants and moguls in his lust for booty.

The other was Blackbeard the pirate.

It seems you just can’t escape Donald Trump these days. He’s had his television show, his face is on book covers, he’s constantly picking fights with celebrities, his name is plastered on buildings all over the world. They even named the most powerful suit in the game of bridge after him.

If there’s any pirate personality who compares, it would have to be Blackbeard. He wasn’t the most successful pirate ever, but he was far and away the most colorful, the most bombastic, the best known. In a world where the appearance of success is as important as success itself, that’s no small thing.

Here’s our point-by-point comparison.

HAIR

Blackbeard: Put burning fuses in his beard to create that demonic look.

Trump: Puts so much “stuff” in his hair (if that *is* his hair) to create that Teflonic look. If he lit it, it would probably go up in a fireball that would put Blackbeard to shame.

TRADEMARKS

Blackbeard: Shouted “Open fire!” with a sword thrust gesture.

Trump: Sneered “You’re fired!” with a cobra-like hand gesture.

DRINK

Blackbeard: Rum with a sprinkling of gunpowder.

Trump: The blood of the exploited working class.

COMBAT

Blackbeard: He and his crew excelled at vicious hand-to-hand fighting.

Trump: Cast of “The Apprentice” excelled in whiny catfighting. Ditto Trump and the targets of his scorn.

EPONYMS

Blackbeard: Named his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Trump: Names everything after himself.

MODUS OPERANDI

Blackbeard: Paid off local officials to allow him to continue his felonious ways.

Trump: Hangs out with celebrities and politicians to enhance his own image.

WENCHES

Blackbeard: Enjoyed them, but his marriage to the sea was a source of acrimony.

Trump: Marries them, and is now a source of their alimony.