Monday, June 30, 2008

Come and be a Pirate!

Saturday night, Fuzzy and I attended the Crimson Pirates' CD release party in Suffern, NY just south of the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo. Ireland's 32 hosted the venue which became crowded quickly as the crush of fans filled the small room to capacity and raised the temperature to sauna levels. The restaurant seemed unprepared for the onslaught of hungry patrons since it took 30 minutes to get a club sandwich!

None of this mattered since the Crimson Pirates treated us to three sets of wonderful music. They sang songs from their new release, 'Come and be a Pirate', as well as our favorites from the previous four CD's. They announced at the beginning of the show that the third set would be entirely requests. The Crimsons found out the consquences and fun of singing a final set when the band and the audience are well-lubricated.

Robin's Corsair-esque version of "Pump Shanty" will not be forgotten any time soon. Singing from hand-written lyrics on the back of a crumpled sheet of paper (and still not getting the words right) and Kelly's exhuberant tambourining during short periods of scrutinizing her own heiroglyphics, Robin left her audience in stitches.

But I digress. Back to the new stuff. Ann's rendition of the title song, 'Come and Be a Pirate' sung to the tune of 'Bell-bottomed Trousers' is a bouncy and fun song that's sure to be a favorite sing-a-long tune very soon. (kinda like 'Bell-bottomed Trousers'!)

Don's new lyrics to 'Wild Rover' are hysterical.

My favorite: "Bow to Stern".

After the show which ended just before midnight, Fuzzy and I remained behind to chat with Robin, Dan, Ann, Don and Kelly along with a handful of other devoted fans. As usual in our conversation with such good friends, the time flew past and before we realized it, it was nearly 1:30am!

I am so looking forward to attending the New York Renaissance Faire this year! Having friends such as these, the four-hour drive through Baltimore, Wilmington (construction zones), around Philly and near NYC is but a small insigificant price to pay to spend time with them!

P.S. Thanks for the snog, Barley!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pirate Ghosts: Tales of Hauntings at Sea

This compilation of horror shorts written by such literary giants as H. P. Lovecraft, Robert Bloch and Washington Irving promises the reader ‘with bloodcurdling buccaneers, spectral ships, uncanny experiences under the Jolly Roger and eerie spirits from a historic past that refuses to stay dead’. Pretty high expectations, huh?

The anthology could have been renamed Caribbean Magic Ghosts with some Piracy Themes Thrown in the Mix. Few had pirates as main characters and just as many did not even contain any manner of sea rovers.

This is not to say that the anthology, compiled by Frank McSherry, Jr., Charles G. Waugh and Martin H. Greenberg isn’t an entertaining read. The short stories contain some great horror themes and effectively scare the reader.

H. P. Lovecraft’s The Terrible Old Man is one such story that eschews the piracy theme but is as creepy as Robert Bloch’s The Red Swimmer, a great story of revenge on a bloodthirsty pirate.

The lengthiest short, Henry S. Whitehead’s Seven Turns in a Hangman’s Rope is a tedious read as he lays on one subordinate clause after another, extending sentences into paragraphs. The detail in which he describes the depth of the white witch’s knowledge and experience into voodoo and obeah was unnecessary, gauging its lack of impact on any of the climatic scenes.

August Derlith’s The Blue Spectacles, Carl Jacobi’s The Digging at Pistol Key and John Masefield’s Anty Bligh, along with the tales of Irving, Lovecraft and Bloch are just plain spooky fun. These are wonderful tales of vengeful ghosts, macabre magic (and a pirate or two) all thrown in with eerie tropical settings. Since I recently reviewed a biography of Jean Lafitte by Jack C. Ramsay Jr., I was pleased to see the dashing pirate appear in The Blue Spectacles. It and Irving’s story were the only two with pirate ghosts.

Clark Ashton Smith’s A Vintage from Atlantis is a short read that contains some of the best pirates in the book, but tended to get preachy. Before I Wake by Henry Kuttner is a slow-moving tale of a young boy haunted by dreams of sailing to magical places. Pirates are mentioned as part of his fantasy while the story clutches the island magic obeah tightly to its breast.

Lady Eleanor Smith’s No Ships Pass could probably be the forerunner of the Twilight Zone-esque ‘you are here now and there is no way back’ theme. Again short on pirates, but a great story.

Pirate Ghosts is a must read for lovers of the horror genre but not for the pirate aficionado or fan. The Caribbean magic has interwoven a spell among the pages and presides over the stories, and gives us a nice tropical scare.

Jean Lafitte: Prince of Pirates by Jack C. Ramsay, Jr.

In all the pirate books I’ve read, Jean Lafitte is mentioned mainly in reference to his helping the U.S. and future President Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 against the British. The one event, although heroic, does not begin to attest to the person of Jean Lafitte.

Ramsay’s biography of the famed pirate is an easy read and chronicles Lafitte’s achievements before and after the famed battle. Lafitte and his older brother Pierre played large roles in the history of early New Orleans and her politics during the transition of Louisiana from territory to statehood.

The Lafittes had a base on Barataria, between New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, from where they operated a very successful smuggling business. Jean Lafitte’s knowledge of the marshes and bayous surrounding the island and New Orleans gave him a strategic advantage in confounding would-be officials or enemies from ruining his paradise. The British had hoped to woo Lafitte to their side against the U.S., but being loyal to his French roots, he sided with the Americans.

His support in the decisive battle helped the Americans from allowing the enemy to gain a foothold on their continent.

Sometime afterward, the United States began cracking down on pirates and privateers operating in her waters and the Lafittes retreated to Galveston Island which was under Spanish control at that time. They meddled in the affairs of Mexican insurgents while giving the façade of cooperating and giving intelligence to the government of Spain. Lafitte also issued letters of marquee from his ‘country’, making Galveston a nest of privateers the world hadn’t seen since the pirate colony on Madagascar.

A loophole in U.S. law allowed Jean Lafitte to turn a huge profit by smuggling slaves into Louisiana. Ramsay mentions that future Alamo hero Jim Bowie and his brother were up to their necks in the illegal slave trade. Apparently many unfortunate souls met their death at the wrong end of the knife Bowie crafted and bears his name.

Although there is mystery shrouding Lafitte’s death as well as his origin, Ramsay’s sources all agree that Jean was charming, friendly and very handsome. He had an easy-going disposition that even disarmed his enemies.

Ramsay also paints the picture of a gentleman pirate, where other historians depict Lafitte as one of the most bloodthirsty sea-rovers, worse than Blackbeard. Ramsay disputes those claims with historical records, journals and an extensive library of research on the man.

My only criticism of the book is that Ramsay threw in a few sentences here and there that only illustrate the extent of his research but did not reflect on the subject of Lafitte.

These are just hiccups in a great read about one of the most mysterious anti-heroes in American history. Ramsay writes a wonderful piece of work, giving Lafitte an unbiased and deserved portrayal.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

National Gallery of Art Visit

After our long-overdue pigout at Phillip's Seafood Buffet on the Potomac, Fuzzy and I ventured into the city out of boredom and lethargy to cruise the streets. Many times these random meanderings have deposited us in the most wondrous of places Washington, DC has to offer. Today we passed the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Garden. The Nasher Sculpture Garden in Dallas was a favorite of Fuzzy's, so he was eager to check this one out. As his mutant ability to find parking places once again proved uncanny, we decided it 'was meant to be'.

We stepped into a large garden with beautiful landscaping, decorative flowers and a huge fountain, all broken up by oddly placed blocks of stainless steel, a gigantic typewriter eraser, and one item that was a square of steel with rounded corners. Seriously, that was it. "Do Not Touch the Sculptures!" That doesn't apply to the pigeons, who seem to have the same opinion of the object as I did.

I don't get scuplture.

But I went along for the walk and exercise. We crossed the street to the National Gallery of Art exhibitions. The building is gigantic, which we've come to expect in the nation's capitol. Fuzzy wanted to see Richard Misrach's exhibit 'On the Beach'. The synopsis of the exhibit stated that 'a strange sense of disquietude pervades' the idyllic environment. The pictures were taken in the days following 9/11, and they show the uneasiness in people after the attacks. I saw a bunch of people lounging in the water, sun bathing on the beach and were totally relaxed. I'm so eager to find a beach now!

Although I don't enjoy looking at sculpture, I did enjoy the amazing paintings on display in the Gallery. Works by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, Gaugin, Cezanne, and Van Gogh are there for the public to see, free!

The Houses of Parliament, Sunset by Claude Monet

Shipwreck by Claude Joseph Vernet

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

In DC, most of the museums shut down at 5pm, so we had an hour to peruse the huge exhibit, and still didn't get to all of it. We set out on foot to see the sights and came upon the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden.

The strangest exhibit I have seen was "The Last Conversation Piece." It consisted of five sculptures with the upper torso, head and shoulders of men and below the waist, they looked as if they had been stuffed into punching bags. Three of these 'men' stood with their heads together as if in a secret conversation while the remaining two stood a distance away from the cluster on either side, looking as if they were trying to eavesdrop.

I really don't get sculpture.

So after a day of culture, I gotta watch some NASCAR or Godzilla movies to counter the overdose.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Safe Word is now available!

Claudia posted a message early this morning that "Safe Word", my gay erotica short story, has been released and can be purchased at Please support me and the authors of the Men His & His Kisses Anthology. The print version should be available August 1.

The naked body of a young man is found as Provincetown prepares for Mates weekend, a popular leather gathering. The police suspect a random murder but Corey thinks it was an extreme bdsm scene that went beyond its limit. He tours the town’s dark dungeons, looking for a murderer preying on young men. He becomes immersed in the local scene and discovers a side of himself he never explored before. In a sea of muscular leather masters and slaves, he realizes hidden urges in an environment where every fantasy can be fulfilled. He must set aside his sadomasochism desires to locate someone who takes the bdsm to the extreme before he kills again. Can Corey find him before becoming a victim to the ultimate bdsm fantasy of execution?

More information on Safe Word and His & His Kisses can be found at or at the link below:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Safe Word Available June 20!

I just found out from my editor, Dawne Dominique, that "Safe Word" will be available from Love You Divine Publishing this Friday, June 20! Wow! I'm so excited right now!

Check out all the releases at!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Men - from Love You Divine!

Things are coming together for the release of the print version of Men next month. Check out the smoking hot cover! The cover model is Sebastian and he sizzles!
Check out his MySpace page -

Patricia Bruening's story Graphic Intentions has been released and is getting great reviews!

Scott Delaney, a graphic novelist suffering from writer's block, discovers his elusive inspiration in Derek Reinhart, but he finds himself interested in him for more than just breaking down the wall of his writer’s block.Derek isn't looking for a relationship, but is intrigued by something beyond Scott's graphic artwork.While each is thinking the other is straight, neither acts on the attraction until a loudmouth bigot confronts them. Sparks fly as they begin exploring this new side of their relationship, but can their new passion overcome each of their haunting pasts?

Jon Michaelsen's story Voyeur will be released on June 13th.

Kevin has an obsession; one that involves the muscular Adonis in the penthouse adjacent to his high-rise condominium. He's told no one, not even Alice, his best friend at the office of his fascination. He purchases binoculars, adds a camera with zoom lens and spirals into the depths of voyeurism before devising a plan to finally meet the man of his dreams. An evening of easy conversation and lustful glances ends far too soon, but not before Tony plants the most amazing kiss ever on Kevin's lips, leaving him yearning for more.

When Tony shows up at Kevin's apartment the next night all bloody and bruised, Kevin offers him instant refuge…and his bed. But not all is what it seems. Police burst into Kevin's home, searching for the killer of a man in the penthouse across the street—Tony's so-called partner.
Will Kevin's pleas of innocence save him from this horrible turn of events?

Anastasia Rabiyah's story The Blindfold

Leo's pained past has kept him from trying again when it comes to serious relationships, but when he finds himself in Marcel's house and at the center of this man's expert attentions, hope glimmers in his heart. Can Marcel be the one to help Leo put his past behind him and let go of his distrust, or will the weekend be just a fling that leads back to another string of long, empty silences and loneliness? Either way, Leo is willing to go through with it just for the erotic memory.

Carol McKenzie's Pure Artistry

Cameron Bracy, an established Certified Public Accountant enrolls in a drawing class at a local university to relieve stress. Just out of a heterosexual relationship, and thinking he’s straight, he meets a man at the class, and denies the chemistry he feels for the gorgeous hunk, Eli Thompson. Over drinks and long walks to the canteen, they talk and becomes well acquainted. Eli, who also has just broken up with a male friend, is drawn to Cameron and attempts to show him through a series of experiments that gay sex is hot.

Max Griffin's Dream a Little Dream of Me.

"Dream a Little Dream of Me" is a tale of Sean and Gil, polar opposites, who seek in one another the perfect lover. Twice forsaken by past loves, Sean longs for a that will last. When he meets Gil, he believes he’s found his perfect mate. After Gil warns him to stay out of the spare room, temptation overpowers Sean. With a turn of a key, Sean learns the horrifying truth about Gil, and about himself.

Max Griffin's The Other Side of the Window

David spends his life pursing Truth through physics, sex and gin. One morning, after hot sex with an anonymous stranger, the three beacons of his life conjoin when a hole in space and time appears in his room.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The King's Gambit by John Maddox Roberts

The back of the soft cover version of Roberts’s first novel featuring Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger states that this mystery was nominated for an Edgar Award, a prestigious honor for authors of the genre. Although it is an exciting book, it read more as a historical novel than a mystery.

Set around 70 B.C., The King’s Gambit is rich in facts about ancient Roman culture, lifestyles and public opinion and attitudes. Roberts even includes a glossary of terms for those readers not as intimately familiar with Italy before Christ as he.

Decius Caecilius Metellus is elected to the Commission of Twenty-Six and is in charge of Subura, a dangerous and seedy district of Rome. When a freed slave and a foreign merchant are murdered in his ward the same evening arson claims a warehouse, he suspects that there is something more than just random gang killings which were frequent during that era. While investigating, he discovers corruption and conspiracies at the highest level of the Roman government, where the officials are more interested in gaining personal wealth and power than the administration and protection of the great city. His life is threatened numerous times and he falls under the spell of a beautiful seductress and her physically multi-talented slave girl.

As I mentioned before, The King’s Gambit is a great read, but it often becomes formulaic and cliché in its flavor. Decius Caecilius Metellus the Younger has his family name going for him, which is a major advantage since he is at the bottom of the hierarchy of public officials trying to bring down the upper elite. He is the ancient Roman counterpart to the down-on-his-luck American gum shoe of detective noir fiction. The underdog takes on the top dog. David versus Goliath, etc.

Roberts weaves a great story with plot twists and turns against the backdrop of actual events but the dénouement is unsatisfying as Decius is given temporary exile for his efforts in routing the corrupt officials behind the complicated conspiracy, instead of becoming vilified. The guilty parties are not and will never be brought to justice.

Still, The King’s Gambit is a must read for fans of historical whodunits. Although there are a number of authors who base their mysteries in ancient Rome, John Maddox Roberts is among the best of them.