Thursday, April 23, 2009

Help! There's a pirate on my blog!


One of the very best things that has come out of my having a momblog these past few years is the reg'lar readers with whom I have forged new and surprising friendships. In the spirit of this happy event, I have asked one of my dearest and most unlikely readers to guest-post this week. Tony Park, whom some of you may know as "tonypark," also as "childless man from Australia" also as "tp" (thought that does not in this case refer to "toilet paper") is one such online treasure that I have had the pleasure of gabbing with online. Tony is indeed a childless man from Australia who somehow enjoys the Crabmommy musings. Tony is also a writer, of many books, thrillers set in Africa where he and his wife, Nicola, spend half the year, driving around in a land rover, drinking too much, bathing too little, and finding material for Tony's novels, such as Zambezi, Silent Predator and soon-to-be-publighed Ivory.

Ivory is a racy yarn about pirates off the coast of Africa, and I think it's very clever of Tony to have lately orchestrated an actual piratic (or is that piractic?) event for American readers, off the coast of Somalia, to coincide with the publication of his novel.

Following on from the recent comments of my last post, involving piracy, I asked TP, my resident expert, to post on the matter. And so I entreat you to read on, comment, and to visit Tony's website where you can buy his books and see a picture of him. He is very tall. He is also a major in the Australian Reserve. I am 5'2" in thickly soled Skecher sneakers. I am not at present involved in any military undertakings. As you can see we have a lot in common. Okay, take it away, Tony...

Avast, mommies and daddies… there be no talk of cute kids, Bristol Palin, baby showers or Gwyneth Paltrow on the good ship Crabmommy today. For this blog has been boarded (temporarily), by pirates!

Aye, the Crab has scuttled away across the floors of silent seas and I, Tony Park, have come here seeking answers (from what I’m assuming is a mostly female demographic).

My question for ye is, what is it about pirates?

In the comments on the Crabmommy’s last post, Ravi raised the whole idea of what kids–and adults–think about pirates. Simply put, it seems that fictional pirates are OK, but real pirates are bad. I’m good with all that, totally, but I want to know why.

My latest pot-boiler, “Ivory” (due for release in August), is about modern day pirates off the coast of Africa. No fewer than five of my female friends insisted, at corkscrew point, that I use their names as characters in the book and all were adamant that they wanted to keep company with the lead pirate (two added the further rider that their fictional alter egos must have exceptionally good legs).

Three more women paid significant amounts of money at charity auctions I spoke at last year to buy their way into the book. I later approached one of the successful bidders and offered her the choice of the last two unnamed female characters in the book.

“Would you like to be the PA to the managing director of a shipping company, or the pirate hero’s old girlfriend?” I asked, adding: “The ex-girlfriend is married, with two kids, but the pirate king has a one night stand with her anyway.”

“Duh,” replied the woman by email. “What do you think?”

I put the question of what it is that women find attractive about pirates to a twenty-year-old I know. Her take was that pirates reminded her of rock stars. “They drink, they sing, they wear leather and they, like, completely trash whatever place they land in.”

Interesting. Like some gender blender rock stars I could name, pirates don’t tend to conform to the more mainstream stereotypical definitions of manliness. Pirates wear pantaloons, puffy shirts and knee-high roll-top boots. Johnny Depp’s much-beloved (by chicks, at least) Captain Jack Sparrow further sports guy-liner and Whoopie Goldberg hair.

Taking on board the notion that someone like, say, Bruce Willis, will probably never be cast as pirate king, I wanted to give my leading seaman a sensitive side. He’s actually been forced into piracy by the current economic climate and is hijacking ships to help fulfil his life’s dream of renovating an abandoned hotel on an island off the coast of Mozambique. He steals paint and building materials and flat screen televisions, and has an eye for soft furnishings. He plots hotel room renovations in between raids on unarmed merchantmen.

Of course, as Ravi and Crabmommy mentioned in their recent comments, the fascination with pirates begins for most people at a very early age. As you parents may be aware, the Australian children’s music group, The Wiggles, has a pirate character called Captain Feathersword.

If using a feather as a sword isn’t a precursor to wearing eye makeup, then I don’t know what is, yet I have a mate whose son wouldn’t leave the house for two years unless he was dressed as the aforementioned Cap’n. (To the lad’s credit, he also carried a small plastic version of an earthenware jug, which he told me contained ‘grog’. “All pirates drink grog,” he assured me.)

Predictably, my fictional nest of pirates also includes one or two bad eggs, to remind readers that piracy is actually bad, and that not all pirates are like Johnny Depp and Errol Flynn.

In fact, let’s be honest about this. The good pirate is up there with the hooker-with-the heart-of-gold and John Grisham’s principled lawyers. Pirates always have and always will rob and kill and rape and pillage, so why do people dress their children as buccaneers and why do I have a book full of pirate wenches with names like Jane, Lesley, Sue, Lisa, and Kim?

Can someone please tell me what it is about pirates? Do you encourage piracy in the home?


Lawyer Mom said...

I'm not sure. Maybe it's nostalgia. My childhood was filled with Captain Hook and dangerous plank-walking.

dozycow said...

Ahoy there Tony.

My son had Pirate Pete hosting his 5th birthday party - he was magical, kept 30 little kids enthralled for 3 hours with nary a tear or argument the whole time.

PS : Did anyone see Yul Brynner as Jean Lafitte - now there was a nice set of legs....

Trev said...

a pirate got drunk with two ladies of the night once and it was from this that the saying "Yo ho ho & a bottle of rum" came. True.

tonypark said...

Hi Lawyer Mom. Sorry for my crack about Grisham lawyers.

The pirate's number-one lady in the book is a corporate lawyer and she's got a heart of gold and is highly principled (although she does consort with a known felon).

Trin said...

I was never attracted to pirates - thought them a thieving, murdering, pillaging, scurvied lot of undesirables - that was until Captain Jack surfaced - siggggh

Amanda said...

har har, trev. I mean, ho ho. Trin, ditto. seriosuly--a pirate with eyeliner is the kind I like. not that keith richards exactly does it for me but...

Cap'n Jack said...

Dont know about the plank walking but the killing raping and pillage is fun.
When you're a pirate you can say to wenches .... "Aaaaargh lower ye sails ye about to be boarded"... and other good stuff like that.

ali g said...

Careful Trin... sounds like there could be a bit of 'frigging in the rigging' here...