Monthly Archives: September 2012


When you read the title of this blog, I’m guessing quite a few of you said, “Steve Mitchell?” Well, that is why I described him as magic’s hidden gem! I will also bet that there are very few of you out there are unfamiliar with what Steve does and the spectacular results of his graphic wizardry! For a gem that I dare call hidden Steve’s work is on display throughout the magic world. It is awesome!

I became friends with Steve when he was designing and masterminding Ron Wilson’s delightful anecdotal history of magic, ‘Tales from the Uncanny Scot.’ In fact, he persuaded me (it must have taken about a second!) to conduct the interview with Ron Wilson on one of the two DVDs that accompanied the book. Steve became a firm friend during the luncheon that proceeded the taping; and the lunches haven’t stopped. For me, Steve’s magical Friday…

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Mary Read and Anne Bonny the most famous female pirates:

Mary Read, Anne Bonny and Calico Jack

Anne Bonney and Mary Read are the most famous — and ferocious — women pirates in history, and they are the only ones known to have plied their trade in the Western Hemisphere.

Anne Bonney, born in County Cork, Ireland, was the illegitimate daughter of lawyer William Cormac and his housemaid. They immigrated to America after Anne’s birth in the late 1600s and settled on a plantation near Charleston, South Carolina. A headstrong young woman “with a fierce and courageous temper,” she eloped with a young ne’er-do-well, James Bonney, against her father’s wishes. James took her to a pirates’ lair in New Providence in the Bahamas, but in 1718, when Bahamian Governor Woodes Rogers offered the King’s pardon to any pirate, James turned informant. Anne was disgusted with his cowardice and soon after, she met and fell in love with the swaggering pirate Captain Jack Rackham. Disguising herself as a male, she began sailing with him on his sloop Vanity, with its famous skull-and-crossed-daggers flag, preying on Spanish treasure ships off Cuba and Hispaniola. It is reported that she became pregnant by Jack and retired from piracy only long enough to have her baby and leave it with friends in Cuba before rejoining him and her adventurous life on the high seas.

Mary Read was born at Plymouth, England, about 1690. Her mother’s husband was a sea-faring man who left on a long voyage and was never heard from again. He’d left his wife pregnant and she gave birth to a sickly male child who died soon after the illegitimate birth of his half-sister, Mary. The mother waited years for her husband to return and when her money ran out, she took Mary to London to appeal to her mother-in-law for financial help. She knew this old woman disliked girls, so she dressed Mary in boy’s clothes and made her pretend to be her son. The mother-in-law was fooled and promised a crown a week to help support them. Mary continued to masquerade as a boy for many years, even after the old woman died and the financial aid ended.

Then a teenager, Mary was hired out as a footboy to a French woman. But according to history, “here she did not live long, for growing bold and strong, and having also a roving mind, she entered herself on board a man-of-war, where she served some time; then quitted it.” Still disguised as a male, she enlisted in a foot regiment in Flanders and later a horse regiment, serving in both with distinction. She fell in love with a fellow soldier, disclosed her true sex, and began dressing as a female. After their marriage, she and her husband became innkeepers, owning the Three Horseshoes near the castle of Breda in Holland. Unfortunately, he died young and her fortunes soon dwindled.

She knew that life in the 1700s was much easier as a man than as a woman, so she reverted back to men’s clothing and started her life over, this time going to sea on a Dutch merchant ship heading to the Caribbean. On one voyage, the ship was commandeered by English pirates with whom she sailed and fought until they accepted the King’s pardon in 1718 and began operating as privateers. Soon afterwards, their ship was overtaken by Captain Jack Rackham’s Vanity and, bored of the legitimate life, she again turned pirate. Anne Bonney was already part of Rackham’s crew, and she and Mary quickly discovered each other’s cross-dressing secret and became close friends. Despite her tough exterior, Mary found a lover on board and is said to have saved his life by protecting him from a threatened duel. She picked a fight with his opponent first and, with deadly use of her sword and pistol, ended his life before he could harm her husband-to-be.

Both Anne and Mary were known for their violent tempers and ferocious fighting, and they shared a reputation as “fierce hell cats.” Their fellow crewmembers knew that — in times of action — no one else was as ruthless and bloodthirsty as these two women were. Captain Jack, nicknamed “Calico Jack” for his love of colorful cotton clothing, was a well-known pirate in those days, but his reputation has survived through the ages primarily because of these two infamous women pirates on his crew.

In late October 1720, Rackkam’s ship was anchored off Point Negril, Jamaica, the pirates celebrating recent victories in their typical hard-drinking tradition. Suddenly a British Navy sloop — the man-o-war Albion, headed by Captain Jonathan Barnet — surprised them. The drunken male pirates quickly hid below deck, leaving only Anne and Mary to defend their ship. The women yelled at their pirate mates to “come up, you cowards, and fight like men,” and then angrily raged against them, killing one and wounding several others. But the women were eventually overwhelmed by the British Navy, and the entire crew was captured and taken to Jamaica to stand trial.

Captain Jack and the male members of his crew were tried on November 16, 1720, and were sentenced to hang. Anne was allowed to visit her lover in his cell before his execution, and instead of the consoling, loving words he was undoubtedly expecting, her scathing comments live on throughout history: “Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.”

Anne and Mary were tried one week after Rackham’s death and were also found guilty. But at their sentencing, when asked by the judge if they had anything to say, they replied, “Mi’lord, we plead our bellies.” Both were pregnant, and since British law forbade killing an unborn child, their sentences were stayed temporarily.

Mary is said to have died of a violent fever in the Spanish Town prison in 1721, before the birth of her child. Other reports say she feigned death and was sneaked out of the prison under a shroud.

No record of Anne’s execution has ever been found. Some say that her wealthy father bought her release after the birth of her child and she settled down to a quiet family life on a small Caribbean island. Others believe that she lived out her life in the south of England, owning a tavern where she regaled the locals with tales of her exploits.

And yet others say Anne and Mary moved to Louisiana where they raised their children together and were friends to the ends of their lives.

Taken From:

Ching Shih, 19th Century Queen of Pirates

Ching Shih, Queen of Pirates

Ching Shih(郑氏) was a famous female pirate in late Qing China. Ching Shih’s real name is unknown as is where she was born. She was born in 1785.

In 1801, before becoming a pirate she was working as a prostitute on one of the city Canton’s floating brothels. It did not take her long to leave this unfortunate profession and marry a notorious pirate, Zheng Yi. They married in 1801.

Zheng Yi was part of a family that had been very successful in pirating.

After their marriage Zheng Yi gathered together a coalition of the competing Cantonese pirate fleets into an alliance. Within a few years the coalition was a force to be reckoned with and one of the most powerful pirate fleets in all of China. The pirate fleet was known as the Red Flag Fleet’.

Ching Shih was widowed in 1807. She maneuvered herself into her late husband’s leadership position. At this time in history it was quite something for a woman to be in the top position. She led over 1500 ships and over 60,000 pirates.

Women today lead things all the time, are heads of companies and love power. But instead of being boss over tame men and women, with the occasional office weirdo, all in business suits and high heels, imagine bossing around grimy, toothless, smelly, violent men who are underfed and on the water for months on end?.

In 1810 she had had enough of life on the seas, violence and filth and took an amnesty offer from the Chinese government. Stepping back from her position, she kept her loot and got married to her adoptive son Cheung Po Tsai. Not one Under her leadership cultural dominance was taken by the fleet over many coastal villages. On occasion they would even tax the people and enforce levies. Ching Shih and her fleet were known to rob markets, towns and villages from Macao to Canton.

After she retired from piracy, not liking to be idle, she opened a successful gambling house.

Death claimed this Chinese history-making pirate at the age of 69 in 1844.

She was the real-life Dragon Lady.

Rachel Wall, 18th Century American pirate:


Rachel Wall was born in 1760, in Carlisle: A town in the Province of Pennsylvania. Her birth-given name was Rachel Schmidt. She lived on a small farm just outside Carlisle, but was never happy there, because she preferred the waterfront.

When she was a young woman, she was attacked by a group of girls down by the docks, but a man named George Wall came to her rescue, and they fell in love and married.

George then went to sea on a fishing boat shortly after the couple moved to Boston, so Rachel found work as a servant girl. When George came back, he brought with him 5 sailors and their lovers, and persuaded Rachel to join them.

After 1 week, they had all spent their money, and set sail on the boat once again. George suggested that the party become pirates. The party also got another boat.

Rachel and the crew worked off of the Isle of Shoals, near New Hampshire.

Rachel and her crew had a clever ploy: After a storm, Rachel would stand on deck and yell out for help. When passers-by came to assist her, their goods would be stolen and then they would be killed by Rachel’s crew.

Between 1781 and 1782, the crew captured 12 boats, killed 24 sailors, and stole $6,000 in cash.

Eventually, after the crew was washed out into sea by accident, Rachel returned to Boston to be a servant girl. But she still did enjoy sneaking into harboured boats and stealing things from inside.

Her final robbery was when she saw a young woman named Margaret Bender, wearing a bonnet which Rachel coveted. She attempted to steal the bonnet, and rip out Margaret’s tongue.

But she was caught and arrested. She was tried for robbery on September 10, 1789 but requested that she be tried as a pirate, maintaining that she had never killed anybody.

But she was found guilty of robbery, and sentenced to be hanged on October 8, 1789. Her death marked the last occasion a woman was hung in Massachusetts.

Captain Charlotte De Berry, female pirate of the 17th Century

Charlotte de Berry (born 1636, England – died unknown date and place) was a (possibly fictional) female pirate captain.

In her mid to late teens she fell in love with a sailor and, against her parents’ will, married him. Disguised as a man, she followed him on board his ship and fought alongside him. Her true identity was discovered by an officer who kept this knowledge to himself, wanting de Berry.

He assigned her husband to the most dangerous jobs, which he survived thanks to his wife’s help. The officer finally accused Charlotte’s husband of mutiny, of which he was found guilty based on an officer’s word against that of a common sailor. He was punished by being flogged through the fleet, which, as the officer had hoped, killed him.

The officer then made advances towards Charlotte, which she refused. The next time they were in port she killed the officer and snuck away, dressing again as a woman and working on the docks.

While de Berry worked on the docks, a captain of a merchant ship saw her and kidnapped her. He forced de Berry to marry him and took her away on his trip to Africa. To escape her new husband, who was a brutal rapist and tyrant, de Berry gained the respect of the crew and persuaded them to mutiny.

In revenge, she decapitated her husband and became captain of the ship. After years of pirating, she fell in love with a Spaniard, Armelio Gonzalez. However, they were shipwrecked after days of hunger, they waited to see who would be dead first to eat. slowly one by one the crew went also, unfortunately, it was de Berry’s husband.

The survivors of her crew were rescued by a Dutch ship, and when that ship was attacked by pirates, they bravely defended their rescuers. While the others celebrated victory, Charlotte jumped overboard in order to join her dead husband. No one knows if she survived or not.

Though most of her items were sold by her crew members after her disappearance, there are many still being shipped. Some say her sister, Maria, gave birth to what is to be, de Berry’s niece. Some say she had a child with Armelio but left the child with a trusted crew mate.

Alvilda Synardus, medieval pirate queen:

18th Century painting of Alvilda in contemporary dress


She was allegedly was the daughter of Synardus, the king of Gotland, born in 1321. Though if anyone paid attention to the root of her name they would find she was around a lot longer than that.

It is said her parents kept her locked in her

 room, and set two poisonous snakes to keep away all but the most ardent of suitors.

The most persisant and brave fellow turned out to be Prince Alf of Denmark, and though he passed the test Alvilda’s parents were none too happy about the match. Deciding she no intention of staying with some stuffy Prince, Alvilda took advantage of her parents’ irresolution and her husband’s trust and just hightailed it out of there.

“She were a vision o’ loveliness…’er brown ‘air blowin’ in th’ wind, ‘er pretty eyes snappin’ fire left an’ right. ‘er shirt were open sae much I could see th’ swell o’ ‘er breasts, an’ I swear I woulda ‘ad ‘er right then an’ there, ‘cept’n she ‘ad tha’ big ol’ whip in one ‘and, an’ a dagger in th’ other. I were lucky tae get away wit’ me life, but it were worth it fer one look at ‘er, me matey.” – Dogface Royson, Sailor

She joined a crew of cross-dressing women, but had barely got started in a career in terrorizing the Baltic coast when they came across a crew of pirates that had lost their Captain.

They were so impressed by her capable skills that they voted unanimously to elect her as their new leader. With these fresh reinforcements beneath her ruthless guidance, this formidable woman became such a nuisance to the merchant trade that her husband, now King Alf of Denmark, was compelled to bring the troublesome pirates to justice. Alvilda and her crew fought back terribly, but in the gulf of Finland they were bested at last.

King Alf and his men boarded the pirates’ ship, where hand-to-hand fighting ensued. After sustaining heavy casualties, Alvilda’s crew succumbed and she herself was taken captive. With her beauty concealed by a face covering helmet, she was taken prisoner, and it was only when this helmet was removed that King Alf realized who the scourge of the seas had been. According to royal law, pirates were to burn at the stake. She was imprisoned, but escaped, burning her husband on the same stake before dawn.

On a whim all her own, she sided with the English in the 1345 invasion of Brittany. Seeking to enter the fray herself, she purchased and prepared three ships with money from the sale of her worldly possessions. She was a ruthless mistress of the sea and on land, and no ship nor town near the coast of Normandy was safe from her. With flame and sword, she was a fearsome sight to behold, as she burned whole Norman villages to the ground. She worked her crews hard, and quickly earned the reputation well deserved.

Jane de Bellville, medieval terror of the French coast

Jane de Belleville


1343 Jane de Belleville, alias Jeanne de Montfort, Jeanne de Clisson, “The Flame” and ”The Lionesss of Brittany,” was a sea-faring terror.

A French noblewoman who turned against her country when her beloved husband was executed by the French as a spy.

With vengeance in her heart, she sided with the English in the 1345 invasion of Brittany.

Seeking to enter the fray herself, she purchased and prepared three ships with money from the sale of her possessions.
She was a ruthless mistress of revenge at sea and on land, and no ship or town near the coast of Normandy was safe from her wrath.

With a flaming torch in one hand and a sword in the other, she must have been a fearsome sight to behold, as she burned whole Norman villages to the ground.

Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Listen up, ya swabs! Tomorrow is “Talk Like a Pirate Day!”

Scarlett Harlot

This is Fallon Ellingson, better known as the Scarlett Harlott, was the PyrateCon 2008 Grand Marshal in the Pirate Invasion on Bourbon Street parade.

More about Scarlett can be found here:

Wednesday, September 19th is international TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!

Don’t be a useless lubber, or you’ll be thrown out with the bilge water and drowned with the rats… aarrgh!


Major Polls Give Pop Haydn a Chance in Presidential Run!

Pop Haydn Excited about Chance Polls Give Him

The latest major poll seems to show the American Confidence Party may still have a chance of winning this election!

I have seen some usually prescient polls that also give me similar hope.

Common sense, a willingness to share and compromise, and a friendly and welcoming attitude toward the opposition is the hallmark of our party!

An honest, issues-oriented campaign may still win the day!

At least I am sanguine in this course we have undertaken of being honest and straight-forward with the American people, and we will never compromise.

Collusion, my friends, not compromise!

That’s our ticket!

Vote often, and vote Pop!

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