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A perfect piratical present. March 14, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Aaaarrrr! Yaaarrrr!!! Listen up, mateys! What do you buy for the little pirate-to-be’s birthday?

Silence Dogood here. My nephew’s turning five years old. His family lives across the continent from me and our friend Ben, so we don’t get to see him often and enjoy his growing up. I asked his mother to tell me what interested him now, so I could get him birthday presents that reflected what he liked, not what I or OFB had liked at his age. To my delight, she replied that he was fascinated by pirates.

Aaaarrrr!!! Here was something OFB and I could totally relate to. A few years ago, we’d made “treasure chests” out of Captain Morgan boxes for our somewhat older, much closer niece and nephew’s birthdays and filled them with pirate booty. It was the most fun I’d ever had putting presents together.

For a five-year-old, though, we needed a somewhat stripped-down version. Getting down to the bare skull-and-crossbones, it seemed to me that the perfect piratical present for a five-year-old would contain a treasure chest loaded with treasure, a small Jolly Roger flag, a bag of coin-shaped chocolates wrapped in gold foil, and an amazing, interactive book.

Fortunately, the treasure chest part proved no problem. Our favorite marble website, Land of Marbles, offers a pirate chest filled with shiny, glittery, colorful marbles, “gems,” and “gold” doubloons and “silver” pieces of eight. (Must have pieces of eight!) It also offers a big marble with the skull-and-crossbones on a field of black, perfect for completing the set. We acquired the pirate flag last time we were in North Carolina, which claims Blackbeard as a famous resident. And there are two candymakers near us—one within walking distance—that offer bags of gold coin chocolates.

The book proved to be the greatest challenge. Getting a “Pirates of the Caribbean” book or DVD seemed like an obvious solution, but surely a pirate-loving kid would already have all those. (We did get a movie-themed birthday card. Thank you, Johnny Depp.) Instead, we found the most amazing, historically accurate book on pirates imaginable.

Called Pirates vs. Pirates, it pitches ten pirates from different eras and areas against each other until only one remains. It’s like a video game in a book, with tons of action and historical factoids about each type of pirate, letting you guess who’d have won these mythical battles, then giving you their answers based on weaponry, fighting style, even food and first aid available to each type of pirate. There’s a ton of real, historical information hiding in these pages, and the graphics are unbeatable.

The winner? A buccaneer like Captain Morgan, a privateer like Sir Francis Drake, a corsair from the East? According to this book, it would be a “roundsman,” something I’d never even heard of (named for the rounds of bullets in his pistol). I’m sure my nephew will learn a lot while having fun as well. And, er, as OFB is a passionate marble collector as well as a pirate fan himself, we picked up an extra pirate treasure chest from Land of Marbles for ourselves. There’s no such thing as too much treasure, right, me hearties? Aaarrrr!!!!

‘Til next time,

Silence

Open wide and say “Aaaarrrrr!!!” September 19, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and we pirate-mad lubbers here at Poor Richard’s Almanac would like to celebrate.

You can get in on the celebration by searching for some of our previous posts in the search bar at upper right, including “The best pirate movies,” “Ben Picks Ten: Pirates,” “Pirate myths: true and false,” “A piratical post,” “The ones who got away,” “Time to talk like a pirate,” “Food fit for a pirate” (with recipes), “Food fit for a Creole pirate” (ditto), “Giving pirates a bad name,” and “Blackbeard in the news.”

There’s a whole week of piratical mayhem going on in Philadelphia and other cities up the Atlantic Seaboard, which launched with a pirate battle yesterday aboard the tall ship Gazela. Read all about it at www.philly.com, “Mock-pirate skirmish on the Delaware amid Seaport Festival.” The descriptions are priceless.

You can also check out two of the best pirate-themed websites, the Official Site for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (http://www.talklikeapirate.com/), run by those illustrious pirates, Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket, authors of the classic books Pirattitude and The Pirate Life: Unleashing Your Inner Buccaneer, and No Quarter Given (http://www.noquartergiven.net/), home of the No Quarter Given pirate magazine and a book, The Book of Pirates: Plundering, Pillaging, and Other Pursuits

But if you’d rather walk the talk than read about it, here are a few suggestions for ways to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day:

* Begin every conversation and phone call by shouting “AAAARRRR!!!” (or “YAAARRR!!!”) Hopefully, at least one call will be from a telemarketer.

* Watch some piratical movie classics like “Captain Blood,” “The Black Swan,” “The Buccaneer,” or “Swashbuckler,” or indulge in a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie fest.

* Quench your thirst while watching movies with some piratical rum-based beverages from Silence Dogood’s post “Food fit for a pirate.” Or just drink some English Harbour Antigua Rum or Gosling Black Label straight up. Shiver me timbers!

* Fly the Jolly Roger over your home and/or car. Give the neighbors something to talk about.

* Walk around all day attired as your favorite pirate. Remember that an eyepatch and/or huge hoop earring always adds panache. Ditto a parrot, real or faux. A prominently displayed pistol and cutlass should probably be enough to cut off any derisive comments from killjoys who don’t understand that wearing a costume and getting into character is fun. Especially if the pistol is loaded.

* Lard your conversation with piratical phrases such as “Yo ho, me hearties!” “A pirate’s life for me!” “Dead men tell no tales!” “X marks the spot!” “Send that lubber to Davy Jones’s locker!” “You savvy?” “Bring out the swag!” “Take no prisoners!” and the like. Bonus points if you teach your parrot any of these phrases.

So say it loud and say it proud: “Aaaarrrrr!!!! Yaaaaarrrr!!! A pirate’s life for me!!!”

The return of Captain Morgan. August 9, 2011

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Aaaarrrr!!! Yarrrr!!! Fans of Captain Morgan, rejoice!

Well, fans of the actual pirate, rejoice. Fans of Captain Morgan rum in its many incarnations have most likely never stopped rejoicing. It appears that Captain Morgan’s legendary flagship has at last been discovered, and is now being recovered, off the coast of Panama.

Captain Morgan, later Admiral Sir Henry Morgan, Lieutenant Governor and later acting Governor of Jamaica, was one lucky pirate while he lived. While his famous contemporaries, such as Blackbeard and Black Bart—the Great Pirate Roberts, most successful pirate of all times in terms of both plunder and personal style—suffered ignominious deaths at the hands of the British Navy, Captain Morgan survived and thrived, receiving a knighthood, an admiralty, and the rule of Jamaica for his efforts. (He eventually died—take note, all you rum-drinkers—of alcoholism-related liver failure.)

But Captain Admiral Governor Royal Sir Henry’s real-life adventures and successes, stunning as they were, are nothing compared to his astounding afterlife as the spokespirate for Captain Morgan rum. No pirate, living or dead, real or fictional, ever had it so good. The annual revenues from sales of Captain Morgan rum would dwarf the combined plunder of every pirate who ever lived. Even famed real-life pirates like Blackbeard and Jean Lafitte, and fictional pirates like Captain Hook, have faded to also-ran status in the face of Captain Morgan rum’s pervasive ad campaigns and ever-present bottles. The only pirate who poses the least threat to Captain Morgan’s modern-day supremacy is Cap’n Jack Sparrow, since Long John Silver’s seafood franchise has opted for a nautical rather than piratical theme and Cap’n Crunch is actually the good guy, not the pirate. 

This has, however, been a great year for pirate ships. This spring, the government of North Carolina finally agreed to recognize a shipwreck their experts had been studying for years as Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. And now we have Captain Morgan’s own flagship, pricelessly named Satisfaction, discovered and identified off the coast of Panama. Satisfaction and four other ships were lost in 1671 as Captain Morgan attempted to loosen Spain’s stranglehold on the New World by securing Panama City for the British Crown.

Unfortunately, Captain Morgan couldn’t get no satisfaction, but neither did the Panamanian government, at least until now. All treasures from the shipwreck are officially the property of the Panamanian government and will be on display in Panama. In the “what goes around comes around” mode, the recovery was led by archaeologists from Texas State University funded by, who else, Captain Morgan (rum) USA.

At least all of us pirate enthusiasts can get some satisfaction, even if we can’t afford a trip to Panama. We can see artifacts from Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge on display at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC. Aaaarrrrr, me hearties!!! You savvy?!! Time to stir yer stumps before yer sent off to Davy Jones’s locker!

A car fit for a pirate. June 23, 2011

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Your humble bloggers here at Poor Richard’s Almanac—our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and Richard Saunders—share a passion for all things piratical. Richard flies the skull and crossbones from the deck of his condo, and Silence’s and my huge pirate flag has waved so long in the backyard here at Hawk’s Haven that it could pass for the genuine article, with a cannonball hole just over the skull and the ends suitably tattered.

Our stash of pirate loot is somewhat limited, but we do have a bag of pirate “doubloons” plus some real pieces of eight and, of course, Plutarch the Pirate Parrot, our talking, singing, squawking yellow-naped Amazon parrot. (His favorite song is the James Bond theme, but we’re working on “A Pirate’s Life for Me.”) And, like Richard, we have an extensive stash of pirate histories, lore, and movies. Not to mention an instinctual love of the sea and a massive shell collection, if that counts for anything.

How this all brought our friend Ben to the topic of piratical cars I can’t imagine, though I have a vague feeling that it had something to do with the fact that Silence and I watched “Master and Commander” again last night after a hiatus of several years. The movie dealt with privateers (state-licensed pirates) rather than pirates per se, so I can’t be sure. But this morning found me on the website of those modern-day rapscallions, Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket, the No Quarter Given pirate magazine website (http://www.noquartergiven.net/), and shiver me timbers, there was a feature about piratical cars.

Now, here at Hawk’s Haven, our ancient but valiant VW Golf, the Red Rogue, is disreputable enough to qualify as a pirate in its own right. And it’s adorned with an eyepatch-wearing pirate fish and an “AAAARRRR!!!” sticker to emphasize the point. But we hung our heads in shame after seeing what the pirate types on the No Quarter Given website had managed to find for their vehicles.

Personalized license plates abounded, with “PYRATE” the most popular, but there were plenty of alternatives, including license-friendly versions of Blackbeard, Ann Bonny, Captain Morgan, Jack Sparrow, Jolly Roger, Black Pearl, and the like. Some “vessels” had the names of famous pirate ships printed on their sterns, and others had their favorite pirate flags painted on their hoods. (VERY impressive!)

What impressed us most, however, was the treasure trove of commercially available adornments these blackguards had managed to find for their vehicles: the bumper stickers, license plate frames, trailer hitch covers, antenna toppers, bobble heads, and rear-view mirror danglers. Skeletons, skulls and crossbones, clever sayings (“I Brake for Pirates,” “What Would Blackbeard Do?”), and the like were everywhere. One enterprising pirate had found a rosary made out of bone for the rear-view mirror with the individual beads shaped like skulls.

Suddenly, our valiant little Red Rogue is looking a little, well, outmanned. We do have a smaller pirate flag that we could wire to our antenna. But now we want a piratical license plate frame! We want some piratical bumper stickers!! We want a personalized license plate!!!

But alas, we don’t know where to find them. Here we are, land-locked in the precise middle of nowhere, PA, the perfect place for pirates to lay low but hardly a goldmine of piratical loot. Our friend Ben managed to discover that there was a pirate-themed shop in scenic PA, Admiral Nelson Shipwreck Treasure & Pyrate Shop in Gettysburg, thanks to the No Quarter Given site. But unfortunately, like so many of the merchants listed in the No Quarter Given merchants’ section, Admiral Nelson declared that you would find no vulgar tourist trash—such as, presumably, bumper stickers and license plate frames—in his shop.

Aaaarrrr. Such are the trials of a Pennsylvania pirate. If you have a piratical vehicle, please tell us all about it. And if you know an online source of pirate-themed auto accessories, please do let us know!

Revenge best served cold. June 13, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, wit and wisdom.
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Aaaarrrr!!! Yaaarrrr!!! It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, here today with good news for pirate lovers everywhere: Blackbeard’s flagship, the famous Queen Anne’s Revenge, has been found.

Actually, it was found 15 years ago, off the coast at Fort Macon, North Carolina. But, and in spite of accounts of the exact location of its shipwreck (strangely, it ran aground on a sand bar in 1718, leading to Blackbeard’s defeat and death; some historians speculate that Blackbeard, aka Captain Edward Teach, ran the Revenge aground deliberately as a battle tactic), North Carolina’s Department of Cultural Resources wouldn’t declare its identification until now. “Ending 15 years of uncertainty,” as our local paper put it.

Admittedly, when I looked at the photo of a ship’s deck accompanying the announcement, I thought the North Carolinians had been right to refrain from making the ID, since I found it challenging to believe that Blackbeard would have had three plastic lawn chairs lined up against the Revenge’s starboard rail. But after reading the caption, I saw with great relief that the ship in the photo was actually a research vessel, the Dan Moore, and Blackbeard’s 3,000-pound anchor was being brought aboard. It’s just one of tens of thousands of artifacts that have been recovered from the ship over the years, which, as the article says, “fit the origins of the ship, the crew and the places it was known to have visited.”

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. Taking 15 years to positively identify Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge is surely living up to that proverb. No doubt our hero and blog mentor here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, the great Benjamin Franklin—no slouch himself when it came to coining proverbs—would approve. 

Now haul old Anne up and let us take a look at ‘er. And move it, lubbers, we don’t have another 15 years to kick our heels while yer ditherin’. You savvy?

                      Yaaarrrrrr!!!!

                                   Richard Saunders

 

 

Talk like a pirate—or else. September 19, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Aaaarrrr!!!! Yaaarrrrr!!! Look sharp, mateys, today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! So stir yer stumps and start talkin’, you savvy?!

We here at Poor Richard’s Almanac have a thing about pirates, so we look forward to Talk Like a Pirate Day all year. You can get in on the celebration by searching for some of our previous posts in the search bar at upper right, including “The best pirate movies,” “Ben Picks Ten: Pirates,” “Pirate myths: true and false,” “A piratical post,” “The ones who got away,” “Time to talk like a pirate,” “Food fit for a pirate” (with recipes), “Food fit for a Creole pirate” (ditto), “Giving pirates a bad name,” and “Blackbeard in the news.”

You can also check out two of the best pirate-themed websites, the Official Site for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (http://www.talklikeapirate.com/), run by those illustrious pirates, Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket, authors of the classic books Pirattitude and The Pirate Life: Unleashing Your Inner Buccaneer, and No Quarter Given (http://www.noquartergiven.net/), home of the No Quarter Given pirate magazine and a new book, The Book of Pirates: Plundering, Pillaging, and Other Pursuits

But if you’d rather walk the talk than read about it, here are a few suggestions for ways to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day:

* Begin every conversation and phone call by shouting “AAAARRRR!!!” (or “YAAARRR!!!”) Hopefully, at least one call will be from a telemarketer.

* Watch some piratical movie classics like “Captain Blood,” “The Black Swan,” “The Buccaneer,” or “Swashbuckler,” or indulge in a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie fest.

* Quench your thirst while watching movies with some piratical rum-based beverages from Silence Dogood’s post “Food fit for a pirate.” Or just drink some English Harbour Antigua Rum or Gosling Black Label straight up. Shiver me timbers!

* Fly the Jolly Roger over your home and/or car. Give the neighbors something to talk about.

* Walk around all day attired as your favorite pirate. (Our friend Ben favors Stede Bonnet or Black Bart, the Great Pirate Roberts; Silence thinks Anne Bonny would be a good choice; and Richard Saunders would love to be Blackbeard, but is afraid of setting his faux beard on fire by lighting fuses in it as the actual Blackbeard did to terrify his enemies; the Michael Jackson look is not for him, so he’d probably be Calico Jack Rackham or Captain Morgan.) Remember that an eyepatch and/or huge hoop earring always adds panache, unless you’re in character as any of the above. Ditto a parrot, real or faux. A prominently displayed pistol and cutlass should probably be enough to cut off any derisive comments from killjoys who don’t understand that wearing a costume and getting into character is fun. Especially if the pistol is loaded.

* Lard your conversation with piratical phrases such as “Yo ho, me hearties!” “A pirate’s life for me!” “Dead men tell no tales!” “X marks the spot!” “Send that lubber to Davy Jones’s locker!” “You savvy?” “Bring out the swag!” “Take no prisoners!” and the like. Bonus points if you teach your parrot any of these phrases.

Best get started, mateys. You savvy? The day’s slippin’ away, and there’s rum to be drunk, battles to be fought, and treasure to be found. AAAARRRRR!!!!

Blackbeard in the news. August 17, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Aaaarrrr!!! Yar! It’s me, Richard Saunders of Poor Richard’s Almanac fame, here today to talk about all things piratical, or at least all the pirate news that’s (apparently) fit to print.

Longtime readers know that our friend Ben, Silence Dogood and I have a fondness for almost all things piratical, as long as they’re historical and/or just good fun. (The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and International Talk Like a Pirate Day come to mind.) While we recognize that today’s pirates are just trying to make a living the way their famous forebears did—plundering, capturing, ransoming, and generally terrorizing all comers on the High Seas—we find it a lot harder to warm up to them. And harder still to believe that they’re getting away with it in today’s high-tech world.

But they are getting away with it, I realized, when my eye was drawn to a prominent portrait of Blackbeard, aka Captain Edward Teach, on, of all things, the front page of this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal. Now, the Journal is best known as a financial publication, and it could be argued that piracy as a general practice is not exactly unknown in the world of high finance. But no, this was an article about piracy in its original sense: robbery at sea. (Check out the article online; it’s great! It’s “Who’s a Pirate? U.S. Court Sees Duel Over Definition” by Keith Johnson, Saturday/Sunday edition August 14-15, 2010, at www.WSJ.com.)

The focus of the article is the ongoing trial in Norfolk, Virginia, of six Somali pirates who’d attacked a U.S. Navy ship, the USS Ashland, this past April. It’s the first U.S. trial for piracy since a blockade runner was hauled in on piracy charges in 1861, during the Civil War. The problem? It appears that a legal definition of a pirate is nowhere to be found.

Apparently, conviction for piracy in the U.S. carries an automatic sentence of life in prison, a downgrade in our kinder, gentler times from the original sentence, summary execution. But the crux of the legal dilemma is this: Are you a pirate if, like the Somalis on trial, you make an unsuccessful attempt to plunder, capture, ransom, and terrorize, or only if you succeed?

To this untrained eye, you’re a pirate if you’re trying to be a pirate, whether you ultimately succeed or qualify for Darwin Award status. But to the legally appointed American defenders of the Somalis, herein lies the loophole that will free their clients from the consequences of their actions. No wonder lawyers have such a bad name. (As in, “What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?” “A good start.”)

Now of course, as with many things, the situation is far more nuanced than it seems. As I understand it, most Somali pirates aren’t hardened criminals, but 18-year-old boys who’ve taken up piracy in a desperate attempt to feed their extended families and communities in a country that’s descended into chaos. But it still seems to me that these lawyers’ efforts would be better directed at trying to establish viable (and legal) means of providing a livelihood for their clients, and Somalis in general, rather than putting such tremendous effort into getting them off on a technicality.

But I’m straying from the point here, which is that the WSJ article contained fascinating nuggets of information about pirates and piracy through the ages. For example, definitions of pirates range from Cicero’s “the common enemy of all” to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1820 definition of piracy as “robbery upon the sea” to a 1982 U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty defining piracy as “any illegal acts of violence, detention or depradation committed for private ends on the high seas.”

The article also notes that “Piracy was the world’s first crime with universal jurisdiction, meaning that any country had the right to apprehend pirates on the high seas.” And the article’s author, Keith Johnson, reminds us history buffs that pirates were responsible for the establishment of the U.S. Navy, after President Jefferson got sick of paying tribute fees to the pirates of the Barbary Coast so U.S. merchant vessels could have safe passage.

Most interesting of all to me was a graphic included with the article that suggests that piracy is enjoying a resurgence all over the globe, not just in Africa but throughout Southeast Asia, in China and Vietnam, in the Americas, in Bangladesh, and even in the Arabian Sea. Over 200 attacks on ships occurred in the first 6 months of 2010 alone, and “an estimated 18 ships and their crews are currently being held for ransom.” I can’t say how many pirate attacks occurred per year in the Golden Age of Piracy, roughly 1650-1720 (or, according to some sources, 1690-1730), but I’d be surprised if it was over 400.

I will say that what today’s pirates have in determination, they lack in style. Where are the hallmarks of the great pirates of yore: Blackbeard with burning flares in his trademark beard and hair; Black Bart, the Great Pirate Roberts, most successful of all pirates, with his extremely dandified outfits and love of ostentatious jewels and a proper high tea; Stede Bonnet, with his refined planter’s manners and utterly ruthless approach to captured ships; Captain Morgan, who conveyed his piratical finesse into a governorship in Jamaica; Jean Lafitte, whose legendary gallantry and Creole savoir-faire was matched only by his bravery. It’s the larger-than-life nature of these pirate legends, and their fictional counterparts, that set pirates apart from common criminals and make them appealing.

Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, we miss the good old days.

                  You savvy?

                             —RS

Pirates on tap. April 29, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Aaaarrrr!!! We pirate-mad bloggers here at Poor Richard’s Almanac are gearing up for our second annual Pirate Week in mid-May, when the three of us write a week of themed posts on all things piratical. (You can find the ones we wrote for our first Pirate Week by searching for “pirate week posts” on our search bar at top right.)

Normally, we’d have waited ’til then to start spouting pirate lingo and showing off our pirattitude, you savvy? But we just couldn’t resist sharing a few tidbits our friend and fellow blog contributor Richard Saunders found on msn.com earlier today.

Richard, our official blog historian, thought he was going to read an article on Revolutionary history when he clicked on MSN’s link “Where did George Washington drink?” and was directed to an article, “Better with Age,” spotlighting seven historic American bars and taverns. Little did he know that there were a few pirates hiding behind the bars.

Turns out, two of the seven historic bars were owned by pirates. One of these, the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island, claims to be America’s oldest tavern (founded 1673). We quote: “For the next hundred years the large tavern also served as the meeting place for the Rhode Island colony’s general assembly, criminal court and city council, despite being run for 28 of those years by a former pirate named William Mayes Jr.”

Har!!! But even the oldest tavern pales by comparison to the ultimate tavern, Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Yes, we are indeed speaking of the famous pirate Jean Lafitte, who apparently set up his “blacksmith shop” with his brother Pierre as a cover for their nefarious activities on the high seas. 

The shop, built sometime between 1772 and 1791, lays claim to the title of  “the oldest continually operating bar in the U.S.,” which makes one wonder if the so-called “blacksmiths” were actually forging pints of rum instead of horseshoes.

Whatever the case, they certainly had the Luck of the Pirates: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop survived two 18th-century fires that ravaged the rest of the French Quarter, which was rebuilt after the Spanish fashion, leaving Lafitte’s as one of the few genuine examples of French architecture in New Orleans.

If, like us, you entertain piratical leanings, and you happen to find yourself in Newport or New Orleans and feeling a bit thirsty, be sure to drop into the White Horse or Lafitte’s. Order a rum, raise your glass, and shout “Yaaarrr, lads, a pirate’s life for me!” We’re sure at least a few famous ghosts will be joining you.

Time to talk like a pirate. September 19, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and Richard Saunders have a thing about pirates. In 2008, we presented an entire “Pirate Week” here on Poor Richard’s Almanac, and posts like “The best pirate movies,” “Food fit for a pirate,” “Food fit for a Creole pirate,” “Ben Picks Ten: Pirates,” “Pirate myths: true and false,” “A piratical post,” and “The ones who got away” attracted thousands of visitors. (Check them out via our search bar and enjoy!)

We were planning to have another Pirate Week in 2009, but were derailed by the Somali pirates’ rude intrusion on our swashbuckling fantasies. (See our post “Giving pirates a bad name” for more on that.) Fortunately, the bad news about real-life pirates has died down, so we can cheerfully announce that today, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Aaaarrrr!!!! Good times, you savvy?!

Talk Like a Pirate Day began when three piratical characters, Cap’n Slappy (aka Mark Summers), Ol’ Chumbucket (aka John Baur), and Mad Sally (aka Tori Baur), decided the world needed more cheer in the form of pirate goings-on and general swearing, fighting, wenching, and drinking way back in 1995. Now it’s turned into an event celebrated around the globe, with folks from all over donning pirate garb, grabbing their parrots (live or simulated), and roaring “Aaaarrrr, matey!” and many another piratical comment while (we suspect) downing a goodly quantity of rum and other suitable grog.

Cap’n Slappy, Ol’ Chumbucket, and Mad Sally host the official Talk Like a Pirate website, where you can find a lexicon of piratical phrases (in case you need to brush up), T-shirts, and even books, including their latest, Pirattitude: So You Wanna Be a Pirate? Here’s How! And, of course, there’s much more. Check it out for yourself at http://www.talklikeapirate.com/.

You can bet we’ll be celebrating, putting on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” enjoying some rum-based drinks and Caribbean food (thanks to Silence), and watching some favorite pirate movies like “Captain Blood” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” We invite you to join us, mateys. So git yer gear (parrot optional), stir yer stumps, and repeat after us: “Aaaaarrrr!!! Yaaarrrrr!!! A pirate’s life for me!”

Zucchini 500: Pirates triumphant! July 26, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, gardening, wit and wisdom.
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Fans of all things piratical will be thrilled to know that Mark Wyant’s pirate vessel, The Black Zuke, won best of division in yesterday’s third annual Zucchini 500 races at the Easton Farmers’ Market in downtown Easton, PA. Tragically, our friend Ben, Silence Dogood, and Richard Saunders were unable to attend this deathless event and cheer our hero—clad as always in full piratical costume, including a great pirate hat and eyepatch bearing the skull and crossbones—on as The Black Zuke raced to victory. But we feel that this has done much to restore the bad name of pirates to its former state of disrepute, before real Somali pirates turned up and almost ruined everything for pirate fans like ourselves.

Fortunately, our local paper, the Allentown, PA Morning Call, carried full coverage of the Zucchini 500 so we could follow along, vicariously at least, as 50 competitors chose their zucchinis, carved and decorated them (attaching bat wings, veggie drivers, and even painting on flames), then attached wheels and axles and let them hit the “road.” The Black Zuke sported a full mast and pirate flag.

Our friend Ben was amused and delighted to read that the farmers’ market had hired a real NASCAR judge to supervise the races. There were children’s and adults’ divisions, and a five-year old-girl triumphed in her mid-sized zucchini division. But all was not sweetness and light: Apparently, the fastest-moving zukes tended to fly off the ends of their ramps and splat onto the pavement or even onto the feet of the unfortunate judge, requiring extensive repairs before they could compete in the next round. Our friend Ben doesn’t really want to imagine having to repair a battered zucchini, but no gains without pains, as our blog mentor and hero Ben Franklin was wont to remark. 

Should you wish to read the article and see the photos of the competitors for yourselves, and we hope you will, Google The Morning Call (Http://www.themorningcall.com/) and search for “Zucchini 500″ or the actual article title, “The Fast and the Squashiest.” There’s a photo gallery with the story. Enjoy!

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