International Talk Like a Pirate Day, pARRRt two

Talk Like a Pirate Day be almost over for some of us — though others may be just getting warmed up (another round!). There are so many aspects of TLAPD I enjoy: its random origins, its serious silliness, its function as an excuse to have fun, its smarts — and its foundation in the power of language to make our lives something different, even briefly. Talking “Pirate” is (safely) transgressive, both socially and grammatically. A little pirate lingo perks up our movies and our ears, can be funny or threatening (or both), so why limit ourselves to one day of it, especially when there are many swashbuckling books out there to keep us sailing?

So, mateys, if ye want more Pirate Talk, here be some excellent books to stow in yer chest:

295     Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island

The Princess Bride by William Goldman    828035

Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom–and Revenge by Edward Kritzler (One, Samuel Palache, was a rabbi.)




Janet Yolen’s ballad,  122073  The Pirate Queens


Peter Pan, by James Barrie  34268



9970915  The Pirate King by Laurie R. King (Sherlock Holmes and pirates)

Patrick O’Brian’s wonderful Aubrey-Maturin series, starting with Master and Commander
(These novels may not be focused on pirates, but Jack has some fine piratical qualities to be sure.)


International Talk Like A Pirate Day 2015, pARRRt one


Gentle Readers,

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a holiday dreamed up by John Baur and Mark Summers twenty years ago. Their dream became a reality when the guys got Dave Barry to write a column about a day dedicated to, well, talking like a pirate. You can find the full story of the origins of this glorious excuse for a party on the official TLAPD website (don’t skip the Sing-Along video).

As a tribute to the day, I offer a translation of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnet, Sonnet Eighteen (but who’s counting?). Here’s the original:

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


And now the TLAPD version (by me):

Ahoy, me beauty!

Hot as the Caribbean August past;
The only wench who hasn’t slapped me face.
There’s a tempest shakin’ me by the mast,
And the crew’s got to board by morning’s race
Before the sun melts the black tar we smear’d.
I’ve gold in me pockets, doubloons, real gold,
To make fair me scars, me age, me untrimm’d beard,
Don’ believe me, eh? Go down to me hold.
But you, wench, will always be me beauty,
Even though you work in this shady place,
And ne’er be part of Davy Jones’ booty;
You’ll swim in me heart with a mermaid’s grace.
Here is the token that tells ye it’s true:
Your face depicted in this here tattoo.



Review of The Vintage Caper


I was reading The Vintage Caper (Vintage Books, 2010; 0307389197), a work of charm and temptation by Peter Mayle. Detective Sam Levitt eats and drinks his way through Marseilles to solve the theft of five hundred bottles of rare wine belonging to an obnoxious Hollywood collector. The mystery is less the point of the novel than an excuse to write about life in southern France and to introduce us to some engaging characters. There are some nice little twists — the victim is more villainous than the perpetrator of the heist — but delightfully, there were no fraught car chases or moments of unbearable tension. The book is merely a joy from start to finish, and I am quite happy that it is the first in a series. I look forward to renewing my acquaintance with Mr. Levitt and friends in the next installment.

Review of A Good Year by Peter Mayle


            Peter Mayle’s A Good Year (Vintage Books, 2005; 0375705627) provides a blueprint for how to revive one’s existence. One merely needs to give up one’s old life, inherit a vinyard in France, and give one’s self over to the pleasures of food, drink, countryside, and good company while solving a minor mystery or two. Mayle’s characters revel in the charms that Provence has to offer, and we enjoy every moment right along with them.

            The protagonist, Max Skinner, leaves London when he inherits his uncle’s estate in France. His hopes of making a fortune from it seem dashed when he discovers that the grapes seem to have been specially bred to make people gag. His life becomes even more complicated when a putative cousin shows up and threatens to throw a wrench into his already crumbling plans.

            The apparently minor mystery of the vinyard’s inability to produce palatable wine leads to convoluted schemes and mercenary villains. There are clever counter-schemes and a satisfying resolution. A Good Year invites us all in for Provecal banquet, and it is an invitation worth accepting.

For Next Year: the Perfect Valentine’s Gift?

I’m just wondering: for how many people does this postcard (which arrived today, three days after Valentine’s Day) evoke the true spirit of Love and Romance?



I’ve been trying to extract the hidden meaning, to get at the root of the message, to sink my teeth into a good interpretation, but I’m left with an achy feeling drilling into my core.