Miss Jean Louis: so little is known

miss jean louis profile shot

The glamorous Miss Jean Louis, famous doyenne of G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S., is an international woman of mystery, who rarely grants interviews and never poses for photographs. She is a cheerleader for those making their way into the ways of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, encouraging their fledgling attempts to complete items. She is also a keen and snarky observer of the shenanigans some participants have pulled. She maintains a cool distance from the fray, unless her rapier wit and quick disciplinary actions are required. She doesn’t seem to require our admiration, yet one gets the sense that an occasional “Yes, Mistress” would not be uncalled for… or unappreciated.

About her origins, little is known. Her Twitter profile says only that she was “born in a hut in Khor Angar, in the dirt. Midwifed into the world kicking and screaming” (sic), with no further details to feed the hungry minds of her 17.4K followers.

Khor Angar is an African town, located in the northern Obock region of Djibouti. You can find it on the west coast of the Bab el Mandeb Strait. Along with a relatively recent statue to Miss Jean Louis, you will also find an airstrip there.

khor angar satellite view copy

We know nothing about Miss Jean Louis’ childhood, although there are songs sung in Khor Angar about a copper-haired girl child with a green eyes who charmed a storm into calming, thus saving the crops one summer. The song is reputed to be hundreds of years old, but recent visitors there speculate that the lyrics were changed within the last generation or two, perhaps in response to an exploit by our now-famous doyenne. The truth of the matter may never be known, as Miss Jean Louis’ age and date of birth remain information she does not share. So we cannot determine with any certainty if the timeframe of the lyrics change coincides with Miss Jean Louis’ childhood years.

One intrepid Gisher, who has requested anonymity, went to Khor Angar and tried to locate Miss Jean Louis’ parents. Alas, none of the villagers would provide their names or any identifying information about them. Indeed, some of the elderly women of the town indicated that Miss Jean Louis had sprung from the tide as a toddler, with no parents in evidence. Of course, Midwife Zeira, an elderly and nearly blind woman who claimed to have assisted at Miss Jean Louis’ birth laughed at this notion, but declined to offer the name or current whereabouts of either parent. She said only that they were golden-haired and had excellent manners for outsiders, with strange accents when they spoke French.

One can only hope Miss Jean Louis will decide to open up about her early life, perhaps by penning an autobiography. At least 17.4K people be sure to push it to the top of every sort of bestseller list.

#GISHWHES 2016 #GoTeamAbnosomeLovesPhotobombers #Item 124



I did it again! (a.k.a., “Where’s the Rum?)

Where’s the Rum?


When I was a wee lass

Me father said to me,

“Me darlin’ girl, this pub be yours

When all grown up you be.”

He taught me about business

And how to guard me bum,

And told me not to trust the men

Demanding shots of rum.


Where’s the rum? Where’s the rum?

Dear lord, please tell me, where’s the rum?

I thought me heart was breakin’,

But it’s just me head that’s achin’,

So someone tell me, where’s the rum?

Ach, please just pour some bloody rum.


He warned me about salty men

Who sailed upon the sea.

They’d come with tales of derring-do,

Just hoping to woo me.

They’d smile and try to kiss me

And tell me I’m the one,

When all the while their deepest wish:

To drink up all me rum.




The devil rum can turn your head

While dancin’ on your tongue.

Its promises of happiness

Are lies from songs long sung.

For if it could deliver

A life of endless fun,

Then why are all the sailin’ lads

In need of yet more rum?




Of all the things me father said

To help me grow up strong,

His wisdom on this subject here

Has never been proved wrong.

For a man home from the islands

Who’s felt the southern sun

Will never cease to crave the taste

Of good Jamaican rum.



© 2016 Toni Finley All Rights Reserved



My singing wench troupe, Just Desserts, will be debuting this song next Wednesday night at our Wenchy Wenchday show at Market Street Pub & Cabaret. It’s my newest song, intended to get the audience singing along on the chorus.

The newest Lassies’ Birthday Ditty

Prefaced by “Today we celebrate [birthday lassie’s name] birthday and proclaim her WENCH FOR THE DAY! Many people don’t understand what we mean by that, so we thought we’d spell it out for you.”

(Shouted) W!

(Sung by wench 1) You’re wet, wild, and wonderful.

(Shouted) E!

(Sung by wench 2) You’re enticing, enchanting, and edible.

(Shouted) N!

(Sung by wench 3) You’re naughty, nice, and negotiable.

(Shouted) C!

(Sung by wench 4) You’re clever, cool, and coaxable.

(Shouted) H!

(Sung, one each by the wenches in same order as above, until the second “hella,” then sung in unison to the end.) You’re hot. You’re horny. You’re hilarious. You’re humid. You’re happy. You’re Hermione. (spoken: Hermione’s not an adjective!) You’re hella, hella-[the birthday lassie’s first name in crescendo]!

And you’re the birthday wench!

It’s all in the delivery, as songs are wont to be. We (my singing wench troupe, Just Desserts) performed it for the first time at a birthday bash for our friend and fan, Bev (aka Bubbles), to raucous approval. (Thank goodness.)

Definitely not my most sophisticated songwriting, but it was effective. I’d like to come up with something more clever and punny, something more on par with the men’s ditty and the pirate song, but I haven’t had the brain space to get it together yet this little tune worked for this gig.

If we record a version of this and post it on youtube (or if someone else recorded it last night and posted it), I’ll come back and post a link.

A pirate song for me wenches

I wrote a new song today, this one with a pirate theme. Check it out:

Guarding Me Booty

Gentleman Jim came to see me last night.

He wanted to raid me booty.

He claimed me riches were renowned,

He was captured by me beauty.

But his sack was too light,

and his dirk was too short,

and he had only pieces of three.

So I sent him away

with me boot on his bum.

That pirate’s not for me.

(chorus) Yo, ho! Yo, who?

Keep a civil tongue in yer head.

Or ye’ll never see me treasures again

Nor ever warm me bed.

Salty Sam came to see me last night.

He wanted to plunder me chest.

He praised the treasures loud and long,

Secured inside me dress.

But he fumbled the lock,

and his key didn’t fit,

then he called me Bess?

So I sent him away

with a lump on his head.

That pirate failed the test.

(chorus) Yo, ho! Yo, who?

Keep a civil tongue in yer head.

Or ye’ll never see me treasures again

Nor ever warm me bed.

Randy Dan came to see me last night.

He wanted to board me ship.

He’d never sailed on a sloop so sleek,

Nor had an around-the-world trip.

But he went overboard,

and his hook scratched me deck,

and me sheets he damn near ripped.

So I sent him away

with a smack and a curse.

That pirate should be whipped!

(chorus) Yo, ho! Yo, who?

Keep a civil tongue in yer head.

Or ye’ll never see me treasures again

Nor ever warm me bed.

Captain Jack came to see me last night.

He brought me chocolates and wine,

He dressed me in the finest silk,

Undressed me in good time.

Laid his anchor so deep,

‘Til with joy I did weep,

And left me feeling fine.

Yes, me booty I shared,

Again and again.

And traded his treasure for mine.

(chorus) Oh, oh, oh, oooo!

With me feet up over his head.

He can tally me treasures again and again

And ever warm me bed.

© 2015 Toni Finley All Rights Reserved

Oh, I wrote this wench song in July!

I have no idea how I managed to not post it here. (Sigh.)


Fiddler, dear fiddler, draw music from me.

With a stroke long and slow,

Make a melody sweet.

Caress my long neck. Tease me with your bow, oh, oh!

Oh, please, sir, won’t you fiddle with me?

Oh, please, sir, please fiddle with me.


Piper, dear piper, put me to your lips.

I would have your breath fill me

In a lingering kiss.

With your fingering deft and your tongue on my…reed.

Oh, piper, won’t you blow me?

Oh, piper, won’t you blow me?


My lutenist love, what sweet music we’d make.

I have strings yet untuned.

I have chords yet unplayed.

Put your hand on my frets and explore every key.

Oh, lutenist, won’t you strum me?

Oh, lutenist, won’t you strum me?


Drummer, dear drummer, your bodhran I’ll be.

Slap your hands on my skin,

With your bone pound the beat.

Stroke a rhythm so hard, so wild and so free.

Oh, drummer, won’t you bang me?

Oh, drummer, won’t you bang me?


Minstrel, my minstrel, please make me your song.

On your lips I would linger.

I would dance on your tongue.

Sure, I’ll soar to the rafters when you hit the G.

Oh, minstrel, won’t you sing me?

Oh, minstrel, won’t you sing me?


Lover, my lover, let’s do it again,

My muse we’ve awakened

And inspired by our sin.

Such beautiful music together make we…

Once again, from the top, with feeling. (Mime instrument)

Instrument swap? Why not! (Swap instrument miming)


Love this writing quote:

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. – Vladimir Nabokov, novelist (1899-1977)


And this one, for different reasons:

Creative minds are uneven, and the best of fabrics have their dull spots. – HP Lovecraft, short-story writer and novelist (1890-1937)

I wrote another wench song!

I’m not sure if I mentioned it here before, but a few months ago I told my wench troupe (and the producer of our first and only album)* that I want us to have a half-dozen original songs for Just Desserts to add to our repertoire. That way, we can freshen up our live act and have some original songs for our second album, should we record one. They all thought it was a great idea. And they all declared themselves completely incapable of writing any of them… which left me to undertake it.

With their enthusiastic encouragement, many misgivings and tons of bravado, I said I’d give it a whirl. And a couple of weeks ago, at a wench rehearsal that included our producer, I was pressed to declare myself.

“So, Toni, how many songs do you intend to write this year?” Our producer had a pen poised, ready to write down my answer.

My reply was scared laughter, followed by, “Oh, Ozzy, you delusional bastard! One does not plan to write songs. One hopes to write them.** And given how long it’s taken me to get the women’s birthday ditty*** written, I wouldn’t dare make a prediction.”

Everyone laughed, told me they believed in me, wished me luck and pointedly declined to write anything themselves. (Even the twice-published novelist in the group says she couldn’t write a song. Period.)

On the drive home from rehearsal, the hook line and tune for a song popped into my head, along with the idea for a second song. By bedtime, I had worked out the chorus and the structure for first one. And the next morning, I opened up a google doc and wrote it. It took only a couple of hours to compose, tweak and record a stripped-down version of it. I emailed an mp3 of that recording to the rest of the group and was thrilled that they really like it!

Wanna see the lyrics?

Who am I kidding? This is a writing site, so of course you do!

Here it is:

A Man Like That

I want a man who knows my hills and dales,

One who’ll keep my garden wet,

Who’ll chase the wolves and never fail

To give me puss a pet.



Have you ever met a man like that,

A man who’s made like that?

Who’ll plow your fields both day and night?

Have you ever met a man like that?


I want a man who sets my soul on fire,

A man with heaven’s keys,

Who gives new meaning to “oh, god!”

And who brings me to my knees.



Have you ever met a man like that,

A man who’s made like that?

With an angel’s smile and a devil’s touch?

Have you ever met a man like that?


I want a man to tower over me,

Who is masterfully built.

A solid man who’ll stand the test of time,

With calves to rock a kilt.



Have you ever met a man like that?

A man who’s made like that?

With shoulders you can prop your feet up on?

Have you ever met a man like that?


I want a man who can take the heat

Who will stoke my forge and fire,

Who pounds my metal hot and sweet,

And shapes my heart’s desire.



Have you ever met a man like that?

A man who’s made like that?

A man who knows just when to strike?

Have you ever met a man like that?


You can spend your life in drudgery

Feeling lonely, sad or fat.

But you’ll never see who’s right in front of you.

No, you’ll never meet a man like that.


(final chorus)

So lift your head and fluff your girls,

Sing and dance and laugh.

Give the game of life a loving whirl.

Don’t you know a man likes that?

Don’t you know we all like that?

© 2014 Toni Finley All Rights Reserved

Once we record it (we haven’t even rehearsed it yet, although we will tonight) and post it somewhere (perhaps on youtube), I’ll post a link to it, so you can hear how it turned out.

* I’ve linked the phrase to our amazon.com page, but wanted to let you know that album is also available from a myriad of other sources, including iTunes, Grooveshark, and Bandcamp. In all, there are at least a dozen ways to listen to and/or purchase the album or its individual tracks, some of them free! If you should listen to any of it and want to share your thoughts or impressions, I’d love to hear them.

** Even as I said this to Ozzy and the group, I realized how stupid it was. Of course one plans to write songs! Isn’t that what song writers do every frakkin’ work day?!

I think I was just caught off guard by the question and was afraid to think of myself as an actual song writer, given my miniscule experience in that arena and the obligation that title would imply.

The truth is, if you don’t plan to write, that is, make time to sit down and write, you won’t get anything written. And the very act of making yourself available to write will shift your mental gears so you can make writing progress.

So, officially, let me state that I plan to write a total of six new wench songs (including the one above) for us to add to our repertoire for the 2015 Hoggetowne Medieval Faire. Which means I’ll be writing them throughout the summer and fall, so we can learn them and work them into our act before the year ends.

And with the second of those six songs very nearly finished, too, I have increasing confidence that I can do it!

*** Don’t ask me how, but I completely forgot I’d written the Lasses’ Birthday Ditty (previous post). Wow. And I didn’t record it anywhere, so the melody is lost. Perhaps I’ll get it back? If so, there’s new song no. 3! Woo-hoo!

Lasses’ birthday ditty

Before last year’s Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, I wrote a tune and lyrics for my wench troupe, Just Desserts, to perform for any men in the audience who were celebrating their birthdays. It came to me very quickly and was, in fact, the first song I’d ever written.  It’s cute and catchy (and posted below somewhere), but it can help us commemorate the special days of only the males who were stupid brave enough to let us know about their birthdays.

The ladies were left out in the cold.

Now there’s nothing we wenchy types hate more than a woman being left out of something good, so I vowed to write a birthday song for the fairer sex… and nothing came to me. Several times. For months.

And now that the 2014 faire is just around the corner (Jan 25-26, Jan 31-Feb 2), my time running out, I have finally put pen to paper** to write the following:

Lasses’ Birthday Ditty

Today you’re a wench,
You’re a saucy, flirty wench.
All the world is now at your feet.

What will you do?
It’s entirely up to you
As a new year of life you greet.

Have some laughs. Have some drinks.
Give the lads some naughty winks.
Take a nap. Catch your breath. Repeat.

(spoken by Cupcake***): Now, girls, don’t overwhelm the poor lass!

Do what you will
With whoever fits your bill,
As you celebrate your favorite way.

There’s a secret wenches know,
And now on you we will bestow
As our gift to you this special day:

Whether single or a wife,
With a healthy lust for life,
You can be a wench every day.

© 2014 Toni Finley All Rights Reserved

** Yes, I scrawled the first draft on the back of a (photocopied) crossword puzzle. I would’ve felt silly – or perhaps paralyzed – if I’d opened a Word doc for such a short piece. That would have been waaaaay to much pressure, ya know?

*** Cupcake is the name of the wench character I play. She’s my sweet, silly, flirty, naughty alter ego, and I love her!

521 new words

Total so far: 10,557.

Yep, I’m back at it. No, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. I just thought it was time.

Okay, okay, I will admit that I’ve been reading blog posts about NaNoWriMo, offering encouragement and support. I’ve also been reading comments from other writers and wanna-bes who are slogging their ways through their own writing projects (both in and out of the program. And they’ve goaded me more than a little to get back to my own novel-in-progress.

I don’t know how long the momentum will last or how far I’ll get this time, but progress is progress… and I’ll take it.

Any of you taking a stab at NaNoWriMo? Or just, you know, writing on your own? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment? Thanks.

Progress… and a problem

654 new words, which brings my total so far to… (drumroll, please)…. 10,036 words.

That’s right, I broke the 10k barrier this morning!

Imma take a moment to bask in that.


OK, that’s enough of that.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to have reached a milestone like this, even if it is only about 10 percent of the usual word count on a finished novel.

My lack of more effusive celebration is due entirely to the problem I alluded to in the post title. And that problem is also the reason it took me so long to get past this significant-seeming milepost. (Errr, wordpost??)

The problem: I don’t know what my main female character’s deepest motivation is. In other words, I don’t know what she really wants. And as a novel is generally best when the main characters all want something very badly and spend the book interacting and affecting one another as they try to get those things, it behooves me to figure out what my gal wants.

At this point, she’s more drifting than moving. I need to get to the core of the woman’s motivations, because nothing stalls a book (or a life) more than having no idea where you want to go.

Can you say “fiction mirroring the author’s psychological state”? Because I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up… except very, very old.

Until I get this sorted, I fear my writing is going to be done more in fits and starts than in regular progress.

It’s a little scary.

Can anyone suggest a tool I can use to psychoanalyze my heroine? I could really use the help.


And, one last time: YAY for 10K!