Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ahoy Mateys!

Today is National Talk like a Pirate Day. I blame Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio for this. After all, they co-wrote the 2003 Disney smash Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl which has grossed over $654 MILLION at the box office, and probably another zillion dollars in DVD and VHS sales and rentals. The movie, which was inspired by the famous Disney theme park ride, in turn inspired two sequels (the most recent being At Worlds End) which had combined box office grosses of about $2 billion.

But in addition to the sequels, the Pirates movie has spawned video games and actions figures and even a breakfast cereal. And if that weren't enough, the pirates craze has been co-opted by Legoland with their own pirate themed ride, a Pirate Dinner Adventure near Knott's Berry Farm and an episode of ABC's WifeSwap featured a couple who lived by "piratical" principles--including dressing and talking the part. Enough is enough!

Actually Talk Like a Pirate Day originated in 1995 (eight years before the first POTC movie) as the brainstorm of John Baur and Mark Summers while they were playing racquetball. (I think one or both of them may have gotten beaned in the head with a ball or a racket, but whatever...) As the story goes (according to their "Official Website"):

On this day, for reasons we still don't quite understand, we started giving our encouragement in pirate slang. Mark suspects one of us might have been reaching for a low shot that, by pure chance, might have come off the wall at an unusually high rate of speed, and strained something best left unstrained. "Arrr!," he might have said.

Who knows? It might have happened exactly that way.

Anyway, whoever let out the first "Arrr!" started something. One thing led to another. "That be a fine cannonade," one said, to be followed by "Now watch as I fire a broadside straight into your yardarm!" and other such helpful phrases.

By the time our hour on the court was over, we realized that lapsing into pirate lingo had made the game more fun and the time pass more quickly. We decided then and there that what the world really needed was a new national holiday, Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Well, that may be the case but I still blame Ted and Terry for this phenomenon. After all, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was around for DECADES but who ever heard of National Talk Like a Pirate Day or thought of Knit Like a Pirate, a website featuring "knittin' and stitched items with a bucanneerin' theme," or contemplated buying a book called Pirattitude!--a how-to primer on being a pirate, before Johnny Depp swaggered (or is that staggered?) across the screen as Captain Jack Sparrow?

I supposed I could blame all this on Johnny--but Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio (along with Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert) created the character which has spawned all this piratical madness. Bastards. (Actually I've had the pleasure of meeting both Ted and Terry and they are really nice guys...) It's enough to make a person cry out, "Aaaarrrrrggghhhh!"

I mean, "Arrr!"

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