Who IS that guy in the picture? And a story about my neck

After a while, you get tired of looking at your own face. For me it was after the third photo.

We’re down to it, getting “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter,” ready to meet the public. One of the tasks still on the list was “take an author photo.”

We went to the local park this morning with a change of wardrobe and Tori started taking pictures. I have new respect for the contestants on “America’s Next Top Model,” because that gets really old, really fast. Tori. on the other hand, loved it.

“Work it! Work it! Now look over my shoulder! Smile! Now serious! Work it!” I couldn’t blame her. She was trying to get the perfect picture, and she had this to work with.

We got home and started sorting through 251 pictures. Culled it to the Top 10, or as I thought of them, the ten that made me feel the least ridiculous. After a while it was like that wasn’t even my face. I couldn’t recognize the person in the picture. It was a little creepy.

author pixGot the ten down to four. Then Tori began touching them up, getting rid of lines and blotches that I couldn’t even see. At one point she asked, “Do you want me to fix your neck?” There’s a true story about my neck which I’ll tell at the end of this. Anyway, I said, “Fix whatever you think you need to fix.” She sighed and said, “I’m going to be here for a while, I guess.”

We finally got them down to the last two, the two posted on this story. You can see a larger version of the image by clicking on it. Tell us what you think. Just don’t ask me to look at the pictures again.


And now about my neck.

It was 2004 or 2005, I’m not certain. Figuring it out would involve crossing the room and finding the book on the shelf and … no. It was 2004 or 2005. Mark – my partner in the pirate world, the friend with whom I co-created International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Cap’n Slappy – Mark and I had just self-published our first book – “Well Blow Me Down – A Guy’s Guide to Talking Like a Pirate,” and were in San Francisco for our very first book reading/signing event.

There is a blog post you can read about it here and the follow up here. This is the part that I never got around to telling.

We performed for a modest crowd, 50 to 70 people, if memory serves, and were set up to sign as many books as people wanted to purchase. Sales were a little lower than I’d hoped, but still in double digits. The event was winding down and we had to drive to Vegas that night. (Long, strange story there, but not right now.)

One woman wanted to talk. And talk. She was an older woman, either in great shape for 80 or really showing her age at 60, you know what I mean? And she didn’t talk. She brayed. She had a loud voice with an edge on it, a real Jersey kind of accent. She kept talking, and I didn’t want to cut her off because there was still a chance she’d buy a book. In the course of the conversation I mentioned my six children.

“You don’t have six children,” she said, not as a question but as a statement of fact, daring me to dispute her.

“Yes I do. Of course I do.” And I reeled off their names.

You couldn’t have six children,” she insisted. “You’re too young.”

“I’m 49 years old.”

“No you’re not. You couldn’t possibly be.”

“I am, I promise you. Why would I lie about that?”

“You aren’t old enough,” she repeated. “Look at that face. You have a baby face.”

Then she peered in, and suddenly said. “Ooooohhh!”

As if it was my fault, as if she’d just “caught me,” she said, “You’ve got a young face but an old neck.”

And she turned and left. Without buying a book.

And that’s what Tori was talking about when she offered to “touch up” my neck.

Putting a Cap on That

File Jun 01, 7 02 10 PM  I was going to write a post on writing – on the question of whether it makes more sense to sit down everyday and write, regardless of whether you feel you have something to say, or to wait until inspiration hits, when the words inside you are burning to come out and you can’t type fast enough. But I didn’t.

I’ll do that another time, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday, although I’ve got work to do both days – rent copy, you understand, as opposed to the great American novel, or in my case, the great pirate novel (coming this summer to a bookselling website near you!) So I can’t promise much. Listening to politicians jabber away for hours on end is hard enough without feeling guilty about not meeting some self-imposed deadline.

Instead, I want to tell you (and when I say “you,” I have no idea if that number includes more than one or two people, so forgive me if my words echo hauntingly in this empty hall) why I didn’t. I was having too much fun.

My birthday – a milestone, I’m 60 now) was back in February. As is usual, I paid it little notice. But my wife, Tori, made it very special. We ordered me a new pirate hat. Please understand, I love my old hat, the one from Captain Jack’s Pirate Hats. The McKay did a great job on it. But I’ve had it a dozen years, and like me, it’s showing its age. So we ordered a new hat from a local craftsman, the Chapeaux Pirate. It took three months to get it, but it was worth the wait. Today (Monday) we drove out to pick it up. He lives in the heart of Cajun country, in a town called Breaux Bridge, just outside Lafayette, a two-hour drive from our home in the New Orleans area. It’s a charming town, small, quiet, the main drag lined with local eateries and antique stores. Trouble was, virtually everything in Breaux Bridge is closed on Monday, including the restaurant where we were supposed to me.File Jun 01, 7 02 35 PM

There was one antique store opened, and Tori went in there while I waited for Laffite to show up. When he came around the corner, I tried njot to look at what he held in his hands until we’d found Tori. She was talking to the woman in the the antique store, they were having an animated conversation. We interrupted them and –

It’s beautiful. It’s just damn beautiful. The pictures don’t quite do it justice. It’s leather dyed a rich mahogany, fading into black at the brim, with three feathers, blue and yellow, and two hand cast pins holding the brim curled up. It’s just amazing. Can’t wait to wear it at the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival, and in other appearances around the country in the next year. It’s an amazing hat.

We spent a good 45 minutes standing in the antique shop chatting. The woman at the counter seemed bemused, but it’s not like there were any other people in the store so we weren’t getting in the way. And there was literally nothing else open. Breaux Bridge is a weekend town, and MOnday they sleep in, or go fishing. So we couldn’t see much of it, but I hear it’s lvoely.

But not nearly as lovely as my hat.

Chapeaux Pirarate – you are an artist! And a gentleman! Great job. Great hat.File Jun 01, 7 03 06 PM

Step-By-Step Obsession

Step-by-Step Obsession

It was a coincidence that started it. In January I went to the doctor for the first time in ten years. (Here and Here.) After all the tests and whatnot, we agreed I needed to lose some weight and get my cholesterol down, and I adjusted my daily diet and started working out a little every day.

In February, I ran my telephone through the washing machine. I do not recommend this. It was no great loss, it was the world dumbest dumb phone, it actually only made calls and texts, nothing else. That’s what I liked about it. It didn’t even recognize who was calling me, even when that person was in my contact list. But it had to replaced, so now I have a spiffy, shiny iPhone that does more things than a telephone really should do.

And any of you with an iPhone (or probably any other phone made in this decade) knows what comes next. I found the “Health” app. It counts every step I take during the day and the distance I travel. (It probably does a lot of other things, but I haven’t figured them out, nor am greatly interested in them.) But the Health app, I can’t stop myself from checking seven or eight times a day.

I know people who say they don’t feel right unless they get their daily step count up to 10,000. I’m lucky to get much over 4,000, although sometimes I top 5,000 or even 6,000. The day we went to the New Orleans Jazz Fest I logged more than 12,000 steps, but that was an anomaly. (Yeah, an anomaly that included an Elton John concert!) Mostly I’m right around 4,000 steps a day.

See, here’s the thing. I work at home, and we live in a pretty small house. The farthest I can walk without a turn is 13 steps. If I walk from my desk, make a turn and walk to my bedroom window, that’s 18 steps. So to get a thousand steps I would have to walk that and back 28 times. Which is easily do-able, but boring and annoys the family because I have to cross in front of the television.

Now if I worked in a big office building, or a school or warehouse or something, I’d be getting zillions of steps every day. I don’t. On the other hand, I don’t have to wire a tie to work, or even pants (although that’s only when the family is all out. During the summer months, not so much.)

So I find steps where I can get them. When I go to the grocery store, I park as far from the door as possible, work the perimeter of the store for all it’s worth, take the shopping cart to my car to unload, then take it all the way back to the front door. No “Shopping Carts Here” corral for me. Costco is great. I can get a mile and a half, two miles out of a Costco trip every time, but we don’t go there every week.

And Tori and I take the occasional walk around the block as well.

I missed a lot of steps Thursday. Spent an hour in the morning in a dentists chair. Spent most of the afternoon sleeping it out.

I’m back on it today.

I’m not losing sleep over it, but it’s there in the back of my mind. It’s an obsession.

That Feels Real Now

Been very heartened by the response my initial announcement received, a lot of you out there seem very positive about my decision to self-publish “Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter.”

While it was all great, I have to say my favorite comment came from my friend Lance “Clapeye” English, who said, “We who are about to read salute you!” Colorful as always, Clapeye.

Yesterday I spent some money, getting the ISBN and a bar code, for the three versions of the book. It’s one of those business things you have to consider when you’re a “publisher,” as opposed to simply a writer. Each version – the ebook, the paperback and the limited edition hardcover – have to have their own ISBN, which is the string of numbers that identify the book when it is sold. I only need one bar code, because the trade paperback, at this point, is the only version that will ever even potentially be scanned at a cash register. But it all added up to a tidy enough sum that I had to say to myself, “You’re sure about this?” Well, I am, and having announced it, I really had no choice.

This isn’t like when I said I’d quit smoking, then didn’t. Yesterday involved real money that I really spent. So this is feeling more and more real.

Next step is to set up the pre-order. Have to have that done in the next few days. I want everything worked about by next Thursday, when I’m off to take in the Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival. Don’t want anything hanging over my head. Just want to enjoy being a pirate!