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

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!