Saturday, September 20, 2008

Talk Like A Pirate Day: the Aftermath

National Talk Like A Pirate Day has come an' gone, but that doesn’t mean ye be havin' t' furl th' sails, turn t' th' wind, an' drop yer anchor. Thar be plenty o' seadog adventures ou' thar waitin' t' be dug up!

I’ll start with possibly the most prominent story involving pirates in today’s culture, Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl. The first movie of the trilogy based on the Disneyworld ride of the same name (the same ride that created my fascination of pirates at the age of 7), it nailed pretty much everything that one would think of when they’d think of pirates: swashbuckling swordfights, nefarious double-crossing, robust sea chanteys, and chests full of pieces-of-eight. It also introduced one of the most memorable movie characters of all time, Jack Sparrow. [What was that? Oh, right.] Captain, Captain Jack Sparrow. Between the action and the enjoyable characters, this movie is always a solid pick for a couple hours of fun. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the rest of the trilogy (in my humble opinion, the producers of Pirates should have learned a lesson from the Matrix trilogy - it's better to create a single great movie than to suck the life out of it with two more sub-par additions).

Over on the book side of things, if you'd like to learn about the real pirates that have inspired the stories, look no further than Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly. This readable history illuminates such colorful characters as Black Bart Roberts, Sir Henry Morgan, and, of course, the infamous Blackbeard. It separates actual fact (peg legs and eye-patches, yes) from foggy myth (real treasure map marked with an 'X', never). As an overview of the Age of Pirates and their effect on us today, this book is unsurpassed.

Another excellent true pirate adventure is the Pirate Hunter by Richard Zacks. It is a biography of Captain William Kidd, one of the most infamous seadogs of all time. But Zacks paints a different picture of him: according to the author, Kidd was actually a buccaneer hired by the English government to hunt down pirates who were in violation of the law. Kidd's major nemesis was the depraved rogue Robert Culliford, whose turpitude and villainy led Kidd on voyages across the seven seas. In the end of this thrilling account, one of these men will hang from the gallows and one will retire comfortably at peace, but it might not be who you think.

So if ye favor tales o' thrillin' action on th' high seas, grab yer cutlass, stash yer doubloons, an' sail straight t' th' library, 'ere we`ll be waitin' t' help ye. And reckon, me hearteys, dead men tell nay tales, but live men do!

1 comment:

Roberta said...

Add a small dose of time travel to the harsh life of the Spanish Main, and you've got Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe. A modern-day Cuban orphan finds himself hoisting the black flag in the 1800s. Gorgeous chapter illustrations bring the story to vivid life.

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