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Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion/ Pirates in Paradise Celebration
Nov/Dec 2011 - Key West, FL

Mission on the fort wall
Photo: John Harris
Introduction: The rather long and somewhat sordid tale of the Surgeon Mission and his 5th anniversary with the Mercury pirates in Florida, spent on the island of Key West with loads of other pirates at the Pirates in Paradise and Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion events. Of the pirates battle for and taking of Fort Zachary Taylor, the games that ensued, the drinking that ensued, the displays they put on for the local populace, the sunsets they enjoyed, the rum they enjoyed, the people that the author met during his long weekend spent there and the people he drank rum with. Repeatedly. Are we getting the point of this yet? Oh, and several discussions of Corn and Crab Chowder. Far too many, actually, now that we think about it. Also featuring a tale of a cat on a plane somewhere near the end of the story for some reason. The cat's name? Stella. Stella!

Prologue, Tuesday, November 29th: A mercifully brief account of Mission's arrival: Of the Patrick Hand Original Planter's Hat; Dinner with Lily Alexander and Edward O'Keefe in the nerve center and trip to Deadeye's place.

Parick Hand Original Planter's Hat
Photo: William Red Wake (2007 PiP SJ)
I arrived late without much to say about that other than I spent an inordinate amount of time explaining my Patrick Hand Original Planter's Hat to a couple on the flight. (Don't ask "a couple of what?" What do you think you are? A comedian?) In my defense, they did ask me about it. It now has so much story attached to it that it practically deserves a Journal of its own...

The Patrick Hand Original™ Hat Journal

Day 1st: Sat on Mission's head for awhile. Then he took me off. Later, he put me back on. Then off again. Then on again. Someone random person squealed about how cool I was and asked Mission if they could try me on. So they did. They had really greasy hair...and the mange. Possibly ragged baggywrinkles...

You know, come to think of it, maybe it really doesn't need it's own Journal after all.

Keith in the Navy
Photo: Some Navy pal of Keith's
Keith in the Navy - he's so young and James Dean-ish
Edward O'Keefe picked me up at the airport, waiting for 15 or 20 minutes with me to retrieve my bag. The man is the soul of patience. While waiting, he also convinced several airport vendors to put up the Fort Taylor Pirate Fest posters. He was definitely more excited about seeing the posters put up than seeing me. (Which I fully understand.) Driving to the condos, we talked about his time in the armed forces. He had been in the first Gulf War and had managed to get to Australia thanks to the US Navy on a missile ship that was a "beefed up destroyer." I asked him if he'd ever been on an aircraft carrier (something I'd always to do) and he admitted he had been on the Abraham Lincoln. (No doubt this was what Lincoln had hoped for when he finally won the presidency: a ship as large as a city named for him.) Edward said that when the aircraft carriers were in port, his destroyers had to turn off their microwave transmitters or "they'd fry everyone on the top deck!"

You know the name
Photo: Charles Schulz
After installing myself in my condo, I toddled over to Edward and Lily's condo, located right across the way from mine. That place is FTPI Mission Control. Leigh has set up her laptop, a printer and microwave transmitters (in case any pirate-ninjas get on the roof, start getting frisky and require frying.) She was busily sifting through data the whole time I was there, printing flyers and schedules and sorting through various papers. Edward and I contributed by drinking something called a dark and stormy, which was named for Snoopy. These contained ginger beer and some sort of dark rum. Needless to say, we were less than productive. After dinner ordered in from one of the FTPI event sponsors, Edward and I decided to go and visit Deadeye. We had done all the damage we could for Lily.

Abraham Lincoln
Photo: Mission
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier
Lily at Mission Control
Photo: Mission
Mission control @ Edward and Lily's
The original pirate ninjaPhoto: Mission
The original pirate ninja!

According to Edward, he always found Deadeye's place by looking for the couch. The couch at Deadeye's place
Photo: Mission
(Seriously, at my most inventive, I couldn't make details like this up - he was looking for a couch!) Sure enough - there was a couch on the curb and there was Deadeye's palace. At this point, I would post a photo of it taken that night, but I can't. You know how you plan for everything and yet still manage to forget some crucial piece of the puzzle? (This is the story of my pirate re-enacting life.) In an amazingly bone headed play, I decided to leave my camera's memory card in my computer. In Michigan. Very far from Key West. So you'll just have to deal with the photo I have here at left, taken on another day.

Deadeye's front door was wide open and we walked right into... and right through... his house. All the action at Deadeye's place is in the back yard. Even the shower is in the back yard. "Outside is the only way to shower," Deadeye confided to me. This philosophy would probably not work in Michigan quite so well. However, I once stayed in a house on the ocean in Australia where my bedroom had an outdoor shower which faced the ocean. I'll leave you to wonder if I used it.

Someone was busily cutting and working chains for the wagon wheel chandelier (seen below left) which I believe was to go inside Ol' Zach's Tavern in the fort. It had been hung by ropes in years previous, but Deadeye and crew had decided it should be hung with galvanized chain this year. "For safety." Uh huh. There were all manner of other projects going on. My gibbeted piratess Becky was standing under the overhang on his porch (below center), the gibbet needing some repair (again.) Lots of signs being painted, included one for your surgeon. "Mission the Surgeon" it said in flowing script. "[Scarlett] Jai does the lettering," Deadeye explained. "I do the artwork." There was a sketch in chalk on my sign which I dutifully admired.

Wagon wheel chandelier
Photo: Mission
The stupid Roy Rogers wagon-wheel chandelier
Becky hanging around
Photo: Mission
Becky in the corner
The surgeon signPhoto: Mission
It's a sign! (My sign w/ chalk cartoon.)

Batleths awayyyy my friend...
Photo: Uh...people.
Is that a bat'leth in your
hands or are you just angry
to see me?
There were several other projects going on around there. These included a pair of large wooden bat'leths of which I would really liked to have had photographic proof for you. (Sheldon would be jealous.) Alas, I had no memory card.

There was also a very large whitish-yellow snake. "You know Python vs. Gator - no winner
Photo: Everglades National Park
those snakes that are always turning on their owners?" Deadeye asked me. "This is one of those, " he announced, with pride. I'm just glad it was in a large cage. "What do you feed it?" I inquired. "Rabbits." "You feed it bunnies?" I asked with mock shock. "Not cute ones. I get them from the pet store." The snake is 12 foot long.

Deadeye was telling me about one that tried to eat an alligator. The alligator was too big and the snake was rent asunder. (Both parties to this died - the snake during the renting and the alligator during the digestion.) This is a true Mae snake; no doubt Deadeye found it near the path in the park where we were watching for them in 2009. Actually Mae knew all about this alligator/snake tragedy for reasons I do not even want to begin to speculate upon; she sent me the photo you see above.

Python vs. Gator - no winner
Photo: Mission
We chatted for quite a bit longer about things I don't recall and then Edward and I left. I returned back to my condo just in time to tear down the curtain rod in the bedroom.

Yep.

Pulled the screws right out of the wall.

Sometimes I don't know my own strength.

Actually, sometimes people don't know how to install things into drywall. You may wonder why I did this. (After the thing hit the floor, so did I.) In fact I was trying to throw a sheet over the curtain rod as the curtains let a lot of ambient light in the room. Fortunately I always carry a screwdriver with me (just like the Doctor, although not as cool) and I was able to re-install the curtain rod. I don't want the neighbors to be looking in while I'm sleeping. (Although I should note that I have showered with nothing between me and the ocean in Australia. (Clears up that nagging question for you, doesn't it?))

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