Avast, me beauties!
"Who'll make his mark?"
The Captain cried
"To the Devil drink a toast.
We'll glut the hold
with cups of gold;
we'll feed the sea with ghosts."
- lyric excerpt from Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Pirates" from the album, "Works."
Arr, matie, sit down and I be tellin' you of a day of two "p"s: parody and pirates.
Today, and for that matter, every September 19 to come, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Why? Because John Baur (who calls himself "Ol' Chum Bucket") and Mark Summers ("Cap'n Slappy") said so in 1995, syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry agreed when he heard about it in 2002, and whole bunch of us in several countries like it. So there. That's why.
I shan't bother you with historically accurate accounts of pirates. There's plenty of info on them in your local library. Besides, it'd be pretty dull to just go about for a day regaling each other with pirate facts. Pirate-pop lingo and imagery is more fun, like the skull above which was offered at the Great Plains Renaissance Festival earlier this year.
Aye, the very word "pirate" can now be found far divorced from its original context.
Our concept of pirate lingo is far removed from the actual nautical terms pirates used. Many common pirate sayings are actually from Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 novel, "Treasure Island" and the 1950 Disney movie adaptation. According to wikipedia, "shiver me timbers" comes from the book and "Arrr", from the movie.
J. M. Barrie's early 20th century creation, "Peter Pan" also made contributions to pirate pop lingo, as did the subsequent movie version. Above, Ace checks out Captain Hook from the 1953 animated Disney adaptation, rendered as a scarecrow by Mary Jo Cole at the 2005 Kansas State Fair.
Of course, Disney makes money from pirates, which is rather an ironic twist. Here's Ace Jackalope at the classic Disneyland theme park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, last year. And, yes, I do always have that Jolly Roger flag with me, in the trunk of my car next to the emergency supplies because...well, just because.
It was hellaciously difficult to photograph in Pirates of the Caribbean. This spectral ship's wheel and the pirate skeleton on his treasure were the only salvageable images I got.
When I was a kid, one of the plastic model companies made Pirates of the Caribbean model kits with rubber band-powered actions. You just can't lose when you combine skeletons and pirates.
Disney and the toy companies aren't the only outfits to profit from pirates.
I don't think you can swing a dead parrot without hitting a "pirate ship" in touristy ports of call. This one is in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Marketing tends to soften things; indeed, the skull and crossbones, once a feared symbol of mayhem, death and loss of property, is warm and fuzzy when used to sell the "Everlasting Bum Tickler" at the Great Plains Renaissance Festival earlier this year.
And for the ultimate in good - neigh! - "angelic" pirates, one must become familiar with Pastafarianism, the parody religion created by computer scientist Bobby Henderson in reaction to the Kansas School Board's decision to require that intelligent design be taught as an alternative to evolution. Pastafarianism teaches that pirates were "absolute divine beings" and "peace-loving explorers and spreaders of good will."
In fact, it illustrates that global warming is a result of the decline in the number of pirates, as seen in the chart above which I pirated from their website.
If you've had it with the Kansas School Board, you'll enjoy Henderson's open letter to them, part of which is excerpted here:
"You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature."
I can't go anywhere without running into pirates - not that I'd want to do without them, mind you. They're snappy dressers and accessorizers and the world would be poorer without them.
For the second year in a row, I've seen pirates while covering the Kansas State Fair. Here's Ace communing with Leann Woleslagel's first place entry in the pumpkin painting contest at the 2006 fair which concluded just two days ago. I hope Mr. Depp would be appreciative of Ms. Woleslagel's effort, and if not, off the plank with him.
But wait! We haven't talked like pirates yet. International Talk Like A Pirate Day Creators Baur and Summers, described by their website as "two reasonably well-adjusted middle-aged guys who are trying to take what started as a small private joke and turn it into a productive job" have left us a guide on "Why talk like a pirate - and how." Wasn't that nice of them?
It includes basics like: "Arrr!" can mean, variously, "yes," "I agree," "I'm happy," "I'm enjoying this beer," "My team is going to win it all," "I saw that television show, it sucked!" and "That was a clever remark you or I just made."
And for advanced users: "Bung hole - Victuals on a ship were stored in wooden casks. The stopper in the barrel is called the bung, and the hole is called the bung hole. That's all. It sounds a lot worse, doesn't it? On TLAP Day - When dinner is served you'll make quite an impression when you say, "Well, me hearties, let's see what crawled out of the bung hole." That statement will be instantly followed by the sound of people putting down their utensils and pushing themselves away from the table. Great! More for you!"
There are also pickup lines for men: "Pardon me, but would ya mind if fired me cannon through your porthole?"
And for women: "That's quite a cutlass ye got thar, what ye need is a good scabbard!"
Chicks dig pirates; yes they do!