January 31st, 2010


Pirate Bunny Flag

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag today.

Actually, I made the Bunny Pirate Flag two or three years ago, for International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I try to create a series of lessons at school every year around Talk Like a Pirate Day. One of the assignments is for the students to design their own personal pirate flags. I made the paper part of this flag as an example. Since then I've been shifting it from place to place in the junk room at home, trying not to wreck it.

Bunny Pirate FlagToday, while moving piles of stuff from one side of the room to the other yet again, I considered discarding the Bunny Pirate Flag. I mean... it's just a Bunny Pirate Flag made of colored paper. And it was getting a bit tattered.

I was on the verge of throwing it out, but... it's a Bunny Pirate Flag! With crossed carrots! Instead of throwing it out, I patched some of the tattered places with cellophane tape.

I don't think cellophane tape is actually made of cellophane anymore. What is cellophane tape called? "Magic Tape" and "Scotch Tape" are brand names, not generic terms; although actually, I used Scotch Magic Tape, so I guess I can legitimately say I mended it with Scotch™ tape.

Still, after mending, it was just a paper pennant, with no real way to hang or display or keep out of the way. I suppose I could have rolled it up and stuffed it into the back of the closet. Instead, I decided to at least put a spar across the top, for future hanging. I found a left-over bamboo stick just the right length -- didn't even require trimming, so I guess it was meant to be -- and hot-glued it across the top of the pennant. Tape up the tears and glue on a stick, that's all I was going to do.

But the seam where the paper was glued to the stick looked too... too much like a piece of paper glued to a stick. I added a "nautical" bit of rigging cordage along the seam -- actually an edge trimmed off a burlap sack. Then I needed a hanging cord, so I attached a hanging cord, also cut from the burlap sack. After that, the paper pennant itself seemed too insubstantial and papery, so I trimmed the remnants of the burlap sack to just slightly oversize and hot-glued it onto the paper as a fabric backing.

Now it hangs almost like a real cloth pennant, and fits in with the tiki-nautical decor of the Forever-In-Progress Tiki Room project.

So, I made a Bunny Pirate Flag today.

Other people go whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people fly airplanes, or jump out of airplanes, or restore antique airplanes they find frozen in glaciers in the arctic.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people hike the Appalachian Trail.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people sail solo across the Pacific or around the world, as teenagers.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people make $200,000, or $300,000, or $500,000 a year as CEOs or college professors.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people make $2,000,000 or $20,000,000 or $200,000,000 as sports stars (and spend every night with a different Playboy Bunny).

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people build their own houses from foundation to the hot tub on the roof deck.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people write novels and screenplays.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people hitch-hike across the country, play in rock bands, make movies, go to Burning Man, go salmon fishing in Alaska, compete in triathlons and ultra-marathons, or pick up hot chicks at cool dance clubs.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

Other people make the most of every minute of every day.

I made a Bunny Pirate Flag.

I'm Not a Mechanic, but....

Today I was reading a book called Guys Write for 'Guys Read', edited by Jon Sciezka (author of humorous books for young readers, including the Time Warp Trio series). Guys Write compiles 80 short essays from noted writers and illustrators pertaining to their lives growing up as "guys."

Of course the book left me feeling inadequate. I mean, you grow up to become an editor at Esquire magazine? I don't yet feel mature, sophisticated, or intellectual enough to even read Esquire magazine; heck, I'd feel self-conscious just leafing through an issue at a public newsstand. The various authors talk about stuff they did as kids, and stuff they do as adults: whitewater rafting, wilderness hiking, solo sailing, writing for Sports Illustrated, living in Thailand, traveling with a circus, building a house, or being good at sports; all the kinds of swell things I've never done and never will.

Still, I had my moment of smug self-satisfaction. It was a fleeting moment, because I immediately realized that even though the Noted Author (only two capital letters there, as opposed to a Very Famous Author, who is also included in this compilation) about whom I am about to rail made an egregious error in usage, an error which was not corrected in the apparently slap-dash editorial process (even though Esquire editors participated in the assembling of this collection; well, one of 'em submitted an anecdote, at least), he's still a Noted Author whose (error-laced) work is included in Noteworthy Compilations, while I remain a nobody and a nothing.

One of the stories centers around a young man attempting to wrench a bullet out of a casing in order to remove the gunpowder. Having difficulty, the lad goes to his father's workbench and fastens the shell in "the vice grip."

Perhaps there was more going on in that shed than puttering around with hand tools; from the context of the story, however, and the events which follow, it is evident that the protagonist clamped the shell in a viSe; most likely a bench viSe, not a viSe grip, which is a brand name for a particular style of locking pliers.

Vice: an evil, degrading, or immoral practice or habit.

Vise: A clamping device.

But who am I to be critiquing the word choice of Noted Authors of literature for young people? I'm not a published author. My work does not appear in anthologies compiled by other Noted Authors of literature for young people. I'm just some stupid guy who tries to teach 4th-graders to spell. Why should I bother, when Noted Authors of literature for young people don't know a vice from a vise, and when Noted Editors at Noted Publishing Concerns don't know or don't care or don't dare enough to notice the error or make the correction?

Okay, one teeny mistake. I have likely made significantly more than one grammar or usage error in this invective. But hey, I'm not a Noted Author of literature for young people. My stories are not included in volumes of inspirational prose for young readers. I own neither a vise nor Vice-Grips™. My experience with vice, too, is sadly limited.