Pirates: FYI

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  • The earliest documented instances of piracy are the exploits of the Sea Peoples who threatened the Aegean and Mediterranean in the 14th century BC. These pirates were known to wield cutlasses, a type of sword common in that era.
  • On one voyage across the Aegean Sea in 75 BC, Julius Caesar was kidnapped by Cilician pirates and held prisoner in the Dodecanese islet of Pharmacusa.[ He maintained an attitude of superiority and good cheer throughout his captivity. When the pirates decided to demand a ransom of twenty talents of gold, Caesar is said to have insisted that he was worth at least fifty, and the pirates indeed raised the ransom to fifty talents. After the ransom was paid and Caesar was released, he raised a fleet, pursued and captured the pirates, and had them crucified.
  • In the Roman province of Britannia, Saint Patrick was captured and enslaved by Irish pirates
  • The Haida and Tlingit tribes, who lived along the coast of southern Alaska and on islands in northwest British Columbia, were traditionally known as fierce warriors, pirates and slave-traders, raiding as far as California.
  • The most famous pirate utopia is that of the probably fictional Captain Misson and his pirate crew, who allegedly founded the free colony of Libertatia in northern Madagascar in the late 17th century, until it was destroyed in a surprise attack by the island natives in 1694.

    [These tidbits were pirated from one or more places but I’ve forgotten where. T’was the rum, Arrrrrr!]

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–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Blue Rubber Pool: Excerpt #891

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Odd how you miss a thing more when going without. The sea, for instance, jumping into a big fat ocean wearing nothing but a can of beer and perhaps a bright green swim noodle from Big Lots.

I had swum with sharks at night in people-infested waters and clung to buggy logs floating by crocodiles sunning on muddy banks. But I could not relax in the Jonesville Reservoir. Not with those snakes swimming everywhere, making S-shaped wakes in the corner of my eye. Snakes not hanging from trees like I’m used to but actually in the water with me, mean and sneaky.

Just through the woods below my pasture, the water was so tempting. Especially when waking on a boat–regardless that the boat is on jacks beside the barn. I could not resist driving the Jeep across my pasture and through the woods for a little R & R in the town lake.

But mere minutes after wading in, I saw snake wakes and became a wreck of nerves.

Day after day, a heat wave drove me to the water, and then the snakes drove me out.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

A week later I saw the pool at Big Lots, complete with ladder, filter, pump, and jet for just $200. No-brainer. I brought it home, set it up, and practically lived in the thing. I could not resist–water blue as Turks and Caicos. A real Dream Machine.

And, best of all, no snakes.

# # #

Buy it here.

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Beaux Arts in Pinellas Park

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It’s rainy and gray in South Carolina. A good day for getting back to work on the Great American Novel—the Holey Grail for so many of us wannabes toiling away, assembling picture puzzles from words. I’ve been hacking away at it (machete in one hand, torch in the other, cocktail in the third) for several months now following publication of Blue Rubber Pool.

Up until recently I viewed writing as a solitary thing not unlike the large blocks of time I’ve spent sailing or tooling along Carolina back roads top down in the old farm Jeep.

But recently some new friends have prompted me to rethink my self inflicted solitary confinement especially with regard to public readings. I used to do them long ago at the avant garde Beaux Arts in Pinellas Park, Florida, “oldest coffee house in Florida”. It used to be the Royal Palms Hotel, built in 1911, but the place I knew in the early 80s was a flop house of sorts where people lived, visited and shared. A San Fran-style enclave of artists, writers and musicians. Woody Guthrie, Panama Red, Jim Morrison and Jack Kerouac were among the ridiculously talented people passing through. They were there in the 60s, well before my visits in the 80s. Although the place has since burned down, it still has fans.

Maybe if there was a place like that around here—not just a building, but a certain vibe—I could break out this hermit thing I’m doing.

On the other hand, based on the Hammock Man videos I found, maybe reading aloud isn’t such a good thing.

Regardless, revisiting Beaux Arts today, it feels good to see glimpses of my younger self still inside my older me.

Here’s more information about Beaux Arts

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

My Televangelist Cartoon

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[Rooting through that box from the liquor store where I toss my writings and doodles, I found a bunch of cartoon sketches from 30 years ago.]

In Blue Rubber Pool, I write about a man’s struggles to sort out his views on religion, good vs bad and so on. It’s been going on within me for a very long time. In this cartoon, a televangelist is depicted on the television screen saying “Feed me!~ Burp me! Change me Lord! I’m a born again Christian. Then another voice announcing: “For a written transcript of this sermon, send $800 to…” The caption reads If God had intended for preachers to be on TV He wouldn’t have invented the remote control and Sunday morning sex.
— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt 302

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Poor Marianne, sweet lamb. Prim and proper, nails painted for summer, delicately shucking oysters between bites of a fried bologna sandwich, sips of Corona, pinches of lime, not even breaking a sweat despite the boiling heat. Polite nibbles, little pinky extended. The total Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.

What sealed the deal was her proficiency with that shucking knife. I could not resist watching. My eyes went to her, bewitched, the way they lose themselves in the dancing skirts of late night flames along the darkest runs of the Money Trail.

Only this time they found Goodness where before they were lost in Evil.

What a pair we were that day at the ferry landing, opposites balanced on the fulcrum of time and place. Marianne, a daisy freshly plucked from the field, sweet and clean as an ad for Ivory soap, innocent as the Dawn Wells character Mary-Anne on the television series Gilligan’s Island. What a contrast to myself: hands dirty from the sailboat’s engine room, cargo shorts dirty from too little time ashore, faded surfing tee with one armpit torn out, cheap yellow sunglasses with blue lenses propped up on hair standing up from a dive—checking the zincs before departing to St Kitts then, from there, Swan Island off Honduras then, beyond Swan Island to places undetermined.

I was leaving. She had just arrived, having come over on the Calibogue Ferry, and was waiting for a ride to her rental, the friend running late, dead battery in the golf cart. If not for that, we’d never have met. I’d be island hopping, bopping around in jungles. Marianne might’ve wed a small town lawyer, a preacher perhaps. But, no, Daufuskie—known for neglected batteries leaving people stranded at all hours in the oddest places—facilitates a version of musical chairs wherein the most unlikely of matches are made. Although natives take it in stride, it made me uneasy. Where I had been, a thing like that could’ve ruined my health.

Anyway, there she was, poor Marianne, sweet lamb, waiting like bait. And there I was, tuned to her subtle nun-like vibe and clearly aware of hungry wolves circling, closing in.

# # #

Buy it here.

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Universal Design

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The National Association of Home Builders describes Universal Design as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

For instance:

  • No-step entry. No one needs to use stairs to get into a universal home or into the home’s main rooms.
  • One-story living. Places to eat, use the bathroom and sleep are all located on one level, which is barrier-free.
  • Wide doorways. Doorways that are 32-36 inches wide let wheelchairs pass through. They also make it easy to move big things in and out of the house.
  • Wide hallways. Hallways should be 36-42 inches wide. That way, everyone and everything moves more easily from room to room.
  • Extra floor space. Everyone feels less cramped. And people in wheelchairs have more space to turn.

Some universal design features just make good sense. Once you bring them into your home, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. For example:

  • Floors and bathtubs with non-slip surfaces help everyone stay on their feet. They’re not just for people who are frail. The same goes for handrails on steps and grab bars in bathrooms.
  • Thresholds that are flush with the floor make it easy for a wheelchair to get through a doorway. They also keep others from tripping.
  • Good lighting helps people with poor vision. And it helps everyone else see better, too.
  • Lever door handles and rocker light switches are great for people with poor hand strength. But others like them too. Try using these devices when your arms are full of packages. You’ll never go back to knobs or standard switches.

I’m just pointing this out because I live in a beach house in a cow pasture. The idea behind Pineapple Hill, an island surrounded by cows, came to me suddenly—in a dream, trance or stupor—without factoring in Universal Design. Despite a number of injuries (car wreck, sailing as a contact sport, etc) I still love this place despite the occasional wheel chair, walker or crutches.

So cheers, fellow baby boomers, to feeling forever young!

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

Book Review: Fire And Rain

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I just finished David Browne’s book Fire And Rain “interweaving epochal points in the professional and personal lives of the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, CSNY and James Taylor.” It was a fun choice. Perfect for kicking off the 2015 summer season in the Pineapple Hill hot tub. Perfect for any private library book collection.

I was in junior high and high school in the 1970s –old enough to be there when the Beatles broke up (and when Simon and Garfunkel songs were being playing in elevators). I liked James Taylor some. Liked CSNY a lot more. But I wasn’t really caught up in their goings on behind the scenes. Didn’t really fathom their place and meaning as the 1960s rocked and rolled to its chaotic conclusion. For instance, I hadn’t known that, according to the book:

  • James Taylor was such a junkie, had been institutionalized and once broke his hands and feet wrecking a stolen motorcycle on Martha’s Vineyard. (He seems so mellow.)
  • David Crosby was such a ladies man (though I should made the connection via his singing Love The One You’re With). Nor did I know Love The One You’re With was derived from a comment Billy Preston when Stephen Stills was hanging out with him (via Ringo Starr) in London.
  • Phil Spector was deemed a little creepy even back then –his “wall of sound” clients of that era thought it weird he carried a gun (and he was known even then to have a temper).
  • Jimi Hendrix ignited his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival.
  • Stephen Stills had tricked Rita Coolidge into dating him instead of Graham Nash (told a lie to steal her right out of Nash’s arms) and that Nash then won her back from Stills. (Man, Rita Coolidge was such a hottie!) And that Stills had been in military school in St. Petersburg, Florida (but before my time there).
  • Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters was, for a time, the best selling album in America (by-passing The Beatles’ Abby Road to get there), and that S&G were anxious over the similarities between their hit song and Let It Be.

There was a lot of drama in the background. Globally, of course. But also between the bands and band mates. Much more paranoia and bitterness than I’d have thought. Much less harmony backstage away from the spotlight. [Where was I when all that was going on? Sailing. Listening to wind and water more than anything else.]

Brown develops the history behind these acts develop progressively in step with the world around them, making sense of the influences that built them up then brought them down.

Find a copy. Grab a beach towel. Head outside this summer.

# # #

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

My Jaguar. Sadly not vintage

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Jag vs. cow. An ongoing contest of epic proportions.

At times you might see me roll up in a Jaguar the color of the deep blue sea. It’s an old one but, sadly, not vintage. They practically give them away. I’ve herded cows in mine.

No, I’m not crazy.

Yes, I’m aware of the brand’s reputation for driving owners to the poor house. Or the nut house.Or one and then the other.

At least a half dozen times I resisted the urge to have one. But my heart—which throughout my life has often overruled my brain, persisted in saying “And have one, I must.” Kept whispering this into my ear, giving the lobe a nibble, knowing my eyes were unable to resist the crisp, sleek, sassy lines of those older Jags, and my soul unable to resist the flawless inviting leather; all the  buttons and lights, and the feeling of riding on rails smooth as ice.

In the beginning, the brain, perched at the other ear, would punch me in the shoulder to get my attention then screech “STOP! You fool! She’ll only bring you trouble! Resist temptation! Jaguars  are a path to ruin!” The brain would not to let the heart get its hands on the checkbook and the pen. And the soul would not let the eyes look back for one last time.

Years passed.

Sure, I’d notice if she happened by. I admit to looking longer than I should have until she disappeared, far ahead, from my view. I knew I had to let her go.

But I never totally forgot about that svelte, agile feline.

Self-consciously, she must have still been with me all that time. And, in my hunger to have her, I pursued succession of substitutes. Most of them flashy, five-speed convertibles. None of them totally satisfying.

More years passed.

My children moved out. I sold the place in town, built a smaller place in the boonies.

I put on a little weight. My hair thinned a little. White hairs started taking over my beard.

I began losing interest in a Miata I’d been driving lately. Other than mindless outings with the top town, there wasn’t much there. No poetry. No history. No art. No deep connection humming night and day, year ’round, regardless of the weather or the road ahead.

I was slowly taken over by that “running on empty” feeling. To tell you the truth, I slipped out one afternoon looking for a Roaster. Or something. I needed to fill my emptiness.

I had no idea what I was looking for, no idea what my options were.

I looked online, I went to car lots. Nothing. Getting desperate, I started cruising parking lots, a perv.

But nothing caught my eye. I was not only disappointed, I was alarmed. They all looked alike. Same sizes, same shapes, same colors. Yes, I panicked. Armageddon coming! I retreated back to the far to wait it out.

But no Horsemen came.

As always seemed to happen I then found my love at a time I wasn’t looking. There she was, on a corner, looking like no one else. We went out. I got a speeding ticket right away.

Sure, she was older and larger than what I was used to, but I’m older and larger too. An automatic, not five-speed, but my insurance company loves me for it. Requires more patience but I’ve got the time now. More expensive to keep but worth it—she speaks to me in ways others never could. And, yes, I think she’s sexy as hell, a sleek and sassy style the newer ones don’t have, could never understand.

And, of course, there’s that wonderful leaping cat up front, the shiny “sun wet” chrome a bursting energy that makes me, at middle age, feel like I’m jumping through a fiery hoop of time.

# # #

 

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Blue Rubber Pool: Excerpt 86

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I’ve never been much of a cat person, but didn’t mind Marianne’s hanging around. What a trip she was–one minute sprawled half dazed in a sun beam, the next fending off bad guys. All in a day’s work. Just like me.

The cat finished bathing and made a sound I interpreted as “bored.” She paced the bench on the lookout for danger, stopped, and sat, taking notice of something. She then made a sound I equated to “You might wanna come take a look at this.”

Squinting in the fading light, I saw it: a big, black blob chewing on my precious banana trees again, the little patch I put in to feel at home while still homeless and scouting builders. This beast was not just an intruder, it was a connoisseur, having chosen musa bashoos from the mountains of Japan, a house warming gift from Alaska. I thought it interesting that a cow eating a banana tree sounds like I do eating celery. I enjoyed watching the big dumb beasts while they stayed in the neighbor’s field, just loafing. It relaxed me. Especially after a hard day at work, shouting into the S-Phone at some guy speeding across the desert, or at some guy shouting back under heavy fire in the jungle. Cows took the edge off the fact that good help had become hard to find, nobody willing to go out delivering duffel bags anymore.

But a cow on the loose in my yard–Scooby snacking on my plants–screamed out for countermeasures. But which ones?

# # #

Buy it on Amazon

# # #
–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

Cuba FYI

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  • Cuba is home to over 11 million people and is the most populous island nation in the Caribbean, as well as the largest by area.
  • Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate, an infant death rate lower than some developed countries, and an average life expectancy of 77.64. In 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world which met the WWF’s definition of sustainable development; having an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007.
  • The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish-American War.
  • Shortly after the founding of Cuba’s first cities, the island served as little more than a base for the Conquista of other lands. Hernán Cortés organized his expedition to Mexico from the island.

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

Book Publicity 102

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The good news is that my debut novel Blue Rubber Pool was published by a small traditional press versus self-publishing…

The bad news is that the Advanced Reader Copy was rough as hell and late going out for distribution to book reviewers on whom authors depend upon for the breath of life. That means not getting picked up by publishing industry trade magazines that independent book store owners read and base purchase decisions on. And not getting picked up in trade media where recommendations are made to persons that buy books for public library collections. Bummer. Big time bummer.

So…as soon as I could I identified a few special target reader groups, researched their media and then wrote news releases tailored to them. And then I followed up. As a result, I’m starting to see some traction geared to baby boomers, boating “cruisers” and music lovers.

 

 

A boomer’s first book … but not his first adventure

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still working on a book promotion plan (And should have had this going many months before my book was published. My thought is that books reviews are the most important thing. Second is publicity that might generate those reviews.

Your thoughts?

# # #

Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill