Friday, September 19, 2008

There be pirates here!

Ahoy, me hearties! Sauntering by the old schooner SwanShadow for Comic Art Friday, are ye? Well, matey, this be not just any Comic Art Friday...

...this here be Comic Art Pirates Day!

Your crusty old seadog, Cap'n Swan, will be introducin' ye to some swashbucklin' lads and lasses from the comics pages, what got a little pirate in 'em! How can ye tell? Some ye can see by their buccaneer boots — the favored footwear of well-dressed pirates everywhere. Some show their pirate nature by their flashin' steel or their blazin' pistols. Some ye can tell just by the cut o' their jib that they got pirate blood coursin' through their veins. Savvy?

Enough jaw-flappin' now... let's talk pirates!

Buccaneer boots 'n' fishnets... the Black Cat and the Black Canary definitely got pirate in 'em.

With stars tattooed on their brawny chests and buccaneer boots on their stalwart feet, Captain America and the U.S. Agent got pirate in 'em.

Misty Knight and the Black Knight — they could be black knights of the seven seas for sure.

Elektra and Black Lightning, they got pirate in 'em.

Green Arrow couldn't have more pirate in him if he tried.

Hawkeye and Lady Rawhide? Aye, pirates they be!

Lara Croft, she be a modern-day tomb-raidin' pirate.

Power Girl and Luke Cage (they call him Power Man, y'know) got pirate written all over 'em.

The Phantom and the Blonde Phantom be flyin' the Jolly Roger right enough.

Dynamo's got the boots, Nick Fury the eyepatch and pistol — ahoy, there be pirates here!

Red Sonja was a pirate before we was callin' ourselves pirates!

Now how about yerself, ye scandalous son of a biscuit?

Got a little pirate in ye?

And that there be yer Comic Art Friday. ARRRRRRR!

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Monday, September 15, 2008

This be yer four-day warnin'!

It's never too early to be practicin'...

Only four days until Talk Like a Pirate Day!

And shiver me timbers... Talk Like a Pirate Day falls on a Comic Art Friday this year! What scurvy surprises might that be bringin'?

Ye'll have to be here to see, matey!

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

There be pirates here, matey!

Avast there, ye lubbers!

Today be September 19, and ye be knowin' what that means...

Talk Like a Pirate Day, it be!

All ye scurvy scalawags and wayfarin' wenches best keep yer powder dry and yer cutlasses swingin', if ye know what's best fer ye! Don't give ol' Cap'n Swan an excuse to make ye walk the plank!

Consider yer timbers shivered!


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Got a little Captain in you?

Moments ago, a young woman with the charming name of Sabra Elise Johnson (no relation, I take it, to Israel's greatest superheroine) won this season's championship on So You Think You Can Dance.

Okay, now that I've just admitted to watching So You Think You Can Dance, I feel an overwhelming need to recoup my man cred.

How's this...

It's not too early to remind you that Wednesday, September 19 — just over a month from today — is Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Perhaps coincidentally, a genealogical society known as English Heritage is inviting people with traceable pirate ancestry to a series of gatherings being held in the U.K. over the next two weekends. This weekend, pirate descendants will shiver their timbers at Dover Castle in Kent; next weekend, swashes will be buckled at Whitby Abbey in North Yorks.

Anyone sharing the surname of any of the six most legendary English pirates — Sir Henry Morgan (namesake of a popular brand of spiced rum), Captain William Kidd, Edward Teach (better known as Blackbeard), John "Calico Jack" Rackham, Anne Bonny, or Mary Read — gets into the shindig at no charge.

Everyone knows pirates can't pass up a freebie.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

What's Up With That? #47: Sympathy for the nasal

If this isn't the nastiest thing you read about today, I definitely don't want to follow you to the library.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones — a legendary connoisseur of all items pharmacological — admitted in an interview with the British magazine NME that he once intentionally aspirated the ashes of his deceased father, mixed in with his minimum daily requirement of cocaine.

That's right: Keith Richards snorted his dad.

If you need to go hurl, I'll wait.

Feel better? Okay — onward we go.

Here's what the Keefer had to say about this peculiar — and frankly revolting — excursion into the dark side:
He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared. It went down pretty well, and I'm still alive.
That's sick and wrong in more ways than I can count.

Richards will soon be appearing alongside Johnny Depp in the third installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. Richards plays the father of Depp's character, Captain Jack Sparrow — a character based, as Depp has stated numerous times, upon Richards himself. If Jack follows the example of his real-life model, the advertising tagline "Got a little Captain in you?" could take on a whole new meaning.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Honorary pirates for a day

Avast there, ye scurvy seadogs and curvy wenches! Mind yer step, now — 'tis the good ship SwanShadow ye be boardin'. This here be yer ol' Cap'n Swan, welcomin' ye to this here International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Anyone found not obeyin' the rules will feel the point o' me cutlass, if ye be knowin' what I mean. Don't make me have to walk ye out to the end o' yonder plank... there be sharks in these waters!

So let's go huntin' fer booty. That's right, m'lads and m'lasses, 'tis booty I said. We be minin' the buried treasure from this day's tidings, to name oursel's the Honorary Pirates o' the Day. A salty job it be, but yer ol' Cap'n is just the salt fer the job!
  • Honorary Pirate: Lindsey Lohan. Ah, that Lohan wench took herself a spill, I see. Busted her wrist all to smithereens, she did. Perhaps they'll fittin' her fer a hook! Methinks if she ate her hardtack and squab like a good wench, she might'nt be so fragile.

  • Honorary Pirate: Willie Nelson. Willie, that scurvy son of a sailor, the constables caught him a'smokin' the herb, they did. A pound and a half of the evil weed they found on the scoundrel. And 'shrooms there were — of a kind that make a seafarin' man see mermaids, if he's of a mind to. That Willie, a pirate he ought to be!

  • Honorary Pirate: Nutcase to be named later. What be eatin' this scalawag who crashed his vehicle in front o' the U.S. Capitol and fled inside brandishin' a pistol? Said the demons were after him, he did. Yer daft, man — it be Congress; the demons are already inside the buildin', they are.

  • Honorary Pirates: Run-DMC. Aye, it appears those hornpipers in The Knack are suin' the suspenders off Run-DMC fer stealin' samples of their song "My Sharona." O'course, it be 20 years ago that the thievin' rappers pulled off the swipe for their hit "It's Tricky." Gettin' away with the crime for a score o' years... now that's piracy, lads!

  • Honorary Pirate: Christopher Tolkien. Purloined an ancient manuscript o' his pappy's, did Chris the knave, and scribbled himself upon it until a complete book he made, he did. Not enough talent to dream up a book o' his own, surmises Cap'n Swan.

  • Honorary Pirate: Scarlett Johannson. Manhandled on the red carpet she was, by that bilge rat Isaac Mizrahi, an' now the sharp-tongued wench be boastin' about her buxom frame, she be. "I feel lucky to have what I've got," says she. Aye, an' she be sportin' a pair o' ripe casabas from the Caribbee, it appears to these old eyes. Shiver me timbers!

  • Honorary Pirate: the late Mickey Hargitay. Alas, Mickey, we hardly knew ye. But for marryin' that consumately curvy wench Jayne Mansfield, and for fatherin' yet another of our favorite curvy wenches, Mariska Hargitay, we salute the departed swashbuckler with a tip o' the sailor's cap and a raisin' of the grog. Rest in peace, ye worthy pirate. Remember, dead men tell no tales.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Get your pirate on!

Just a friendly reminder from your old Cap'n Swan that tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a holiday proudly and respectfully observed here at SSTOL.

In the event that you require assistance in preparing your vocal apparatus and vocabulary for this signal event, kindly refer to this helpful instructional video, which will provide ample guidance.

We'll see you scurvy dogs here tomorrow, in full official regalia. And remember, International Talk Like a Pirate Day means half-price admission for all wenches, buxom and otherwise. Bring a friend!


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My career guide to Vegas

Seeing as how Las Vegas is one of my three or four favorite cities in the United States — one to which I might be tempted to retire someday, were it not for the fact that (a) I'm not retiring anywhere it gets 115 degrees Fahrenheit in the summertime, and (b) I doubt I'll ever have enough spare cash on hand to retire anywhere, period — I was intrigued by this article in the Las Vegas Business Press describing "The Coolest Jobs in Las Vegas."

Then I saw what the jobs were.

My bubble of hope plunged to earth like a lead zeppelin.

Let's examine the reasons why I'll never have any of the coolest jobs in Vegas.

Women's golf coach, UNLV. Here's everything I know about golf: Tiger Woods. Annika Sorenstam. "A good walk spoiled." Tiger Woods. The Davis Cup. No, wait, that's tennis. The Ryder Cup. Tiger Woods. Plaid slacks. Green jackets. Tiger Woods. Tin Cup. Windmills. Volcanoes. Tiger Woods. Did I say Annika Sorenstam already? Yeah, I did. Okay, then. Tiger Woods.

Music promoter, Divebar. Unless Vegas clubgoers dig spending their evenings shaking their moneymakers to four-part a cappella harmonies, '70s/'80s arena rock, Gamble and Huff Philly soul, and Bill Withers's greatest hits, they aren't going to want me booking their house band.

Craftsman, Ed Roman Guitars. I think it's awesome that the fellow who currently has this gig is close personal friends with two of my all-time guitar heroes, Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser of the Blue Öyster Cult and Brian May of Queen. But I flunked out of guitar lessons when I was in the sixth grade, and haven't picked up the instrument since. If I were building their axes, Buck and Brian would sound like that banjo player in Deliverance.

Assistant curator, Dolphin Habitat, The Mirage. I bawled like a schoolgirl when George C. Scott's talking bottlenose squeaked out "Fa love Pa" at the end of Day of the Dolphin. To this day, I can't even look at the critters without getting a little misty. By the end of my first week at the Habitat, I'd be an emotional wreck. Plus, I'd drive everyone crazy by constantly asking when Roy is coming back.

Pirate, Treasure Island. I could almost pull this one off. Unfortunately, I hate parrots, I become seasick easily, and those eye patches itch. Say, did you know that International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19? Arrrrr!

Promotions manager, Zia Record Exchange. Do they still make records?

Brewmaster, Monte Carlo Resort. Hey, I'm a teetotaler, remember? The strongest thing I brew is my morning pot of Folgers. And barista at Starbucks isn't on the "cool jobs" list. Besides, the last time I was at the Monte Carlo, Lance Burton whacked me in the face with the monofilament fishing line he was using in one of his cheesy magic tricks. I still owe him one.

VIP host, Studio 54. They'd fire me the night I carded Paris Hilton and sent her to the end of the line.

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Yo ho, yo ho, the writer's life for me

Someone (and you know who you are) asked me today why I don't blog about my work. Since inquiring minds want to know, let's chat about it for a bit.

The primary reason I don't blog about work should be obvious to any SSTOL reader: I blog as an alternative to my daily grind, not for the purpose of reliving it. I'm a hired pen — all right, hired keyboard, if you want to get nitpicky. Although I enjoy copywriting immensely, I'm writing what I'm paid to write, not necessarily what I might choose to write about. This blog is an outlet for the myriad random thoughts that come pinwheeling out of my skull in and around the mercenary gigs.

Second, I learned early in my freelancing career (and repeatedly since) to be rather circumspect about the specifics of my work. It's not like I'm writing classified documents or anything like that; it's just that some of the entities for whom I work prefer that I not broadcast the nature of the work I do for them. Fair enough — if they pay the invoices on time, they're entitled to a modicum of discretion. Most of my clients are advertising and marketing agencies, whose creative abilities are their stock in trade. It just so happens that, in certain instances, their creative prowess is, at least to some degree, mine. So my copywriting practice is like Fight Club: the first rule is, don't talk about it. Rule Two: See Rule One.

(Sidebar: Quite a few freelance copywriters market themselves mostly to businesses that will access their writing services directly. It just happens that my client base has evolved so that I get mostly agency work. I actually prefer it that way, because I don't have to do as much self-marketing, and I have a smaller and more personal client base to manage. I have a whole stack of marketing brochures that I printed a year ago for a mass mailing I intended to do, and I've yet to need to send them out. My agency clients take excellent care of me, and I'm grateful that they do most of the prospecting...mainly because I suck at it.)

There's a third reason beyond the above: As interesting as my work is to do, it's not all that interesting to discuss. Listening to someone talk about writing is a little like watching chess: Monumental brainwave activity may be going on, but there's not a great deal of visual excitement for the spectator. Plus, I can't explain my process. I sit down with the necessary background information, stare into my 19" Envision monitor — sometimes momentarily, occasionally for hours — and eventually my fingers start tapping. I can't tell you how I write any more than a hen can tell you how she lays eggs. She squats, and eggs appear. I type, and words appear.

But all that aside, since you asked, here's what I have on my plate right now:
  • A brochure for a hospital's new breast cancer facility (a topic near and dear to my heart, as the husband of a breast cancer survivor).
  • The holiday advertising mailer for a kitchenware company.
  • An array of feature articles and press releases.
  • Some marketing materials for a medical services company.
  • A set of ads for an accounting firm.
  • A newsletter for a public library system.
  • A Web site for a business services company.
  • A Web site for a law firm. This one is the only direct client in the bunch (an interesting story, that, but I'll wait until the project is over to tell it). All the other projects are assignments from my beloved agency clients.
All this, plus a stack of reviews to edit for DVD Verdict, and the weekly battery of materials I prepare for church.

There's yin and yang to everything. Being a self-employed writer can be a sporadic means of ensuring one's material living. The hardest part of freelancing for me in the beginning was learning to live without a biweekly paycheck that arrives like clockwork. You have to enjoy being by yourself — which I do, more than most people. You have to be self-motivating, which isn't much of an issue for me because I like to eat, and to sleep knowing the utility bills got paid this month, and to not live in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass. You have to enjoy the sometimes arduous, frustrating, and mindbending process of writing, which I love as much as life itself — which some of you tell me is reflected in this blog.

On the positive side:
  • I like my independence.
  • I like commuting to an office that's ten feet from my living room.
  • I like drinking my morning coffee in the security and quiet of my own surroundings.
  • I like driving my daughter to school in the morning, having my dog snoozing at my feet while I work, and occasionally having dinner ready when my wife gets home.
  • I like being able to do things more or less when I feel like doing them, deadlines permitting.
  • I like working in a T-shirt and sweats.
  • I like not having to make small talk.
  • I like being sought out and valued as a specialist in my field, rather than devalued and taken for granted as an employee.
  • I like being able to say "No thanks" to work I don't want to do. (I don't always, sometimes for fiscal reasons but more often because I like helping my regular clients, but the point is that I can say "no" if I so decide. Self-determination is an illusion, but the illusion is a wonderful thing.)
  • I like knowing that, most of the time, success and failure depends on my own abilities, and not on decisions made by people who couldn't pour water out of a glass if directions were printed on the bottom. I've worked for two companies that went bankrupt because the people who ran them did things I wouldn't have done were I in charge. If I fail as an independent contractor, it's no one's darn fault but mine.
Now, aren't you glad I don't write about work more?

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