Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sea Shanties Recorded in the 1920s!

The songs, which were in a collection recorded on wax cylinders by American academic James Madison Carpenter, were restored for a BBC documentary.

Mark Page, born in 1836, ran away to sea as a boy and contributed to the scholar's work when he retired.

The recording is included here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Vikings! effeminate moustache groomers

Now, when one thinks of Vikings, one usually thinks rape and pillage. Let's be honest, that's what comes to mind, obviously they're wearing those horned hats, drinking mead, and have fantastic beards. Sure, Vikings and Norse societies are more than that and a group at Cambridge University wants to correct some of those misconceptions.

The university's department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic has published a guide revealing how much of the Vikings' history has been misrepresented.

They did not, in fact, wear horned or winged helmets. And they appear to have been a vain race who were concerned about their appearance.

"It seems that the Vikings may not have been as hairy and dirty as is commonly imagined," the guide says.

"A medieval chronicler, John of Wallingford, talking about the eleventh century, complained that the Danes were too clean - they combed their hair every day, washed every Saturday, and changed their clothes regularly."

The guide reveals that Norsemen were also stylish trend-setters: "Contemporaries who met individual Vikings were struck by the extreme bagginess of their trousers.

"A tenth-century Persian explorer described trousers (of Vikings in Russia) that were made of one hundred cubits of material, and a number of runestones depict warriors with flared breeches."

The traditional view of the Vikings as "illiterate warring thugs" exaggerates considerably the reality of their life, the academics argue.

"Although Norse men and women may have sometimes liked fighting and drinking, and were sometimes buried with weapons, they also spent much of their time in peaceful activities such as farming, building, writing and illustrating."

No horned hats? What? What about all those productions of The Ring Cycle???
Life can't have been as violent as we sometimes like to imagine," it adds...

..."Many British children are quite likely to have Viking ancestry and we want to make them think about the reality of their past," she said.

"It's damaging to think that they were simply a violent society, and easy to undermine them as a people who have no redeeming qualities.

I'm just going to point out two things, most people today, at least those in western nations, can't image life being terribly violent at all, so I'll freely throw down with you Dr. Rowe. In the civilized would where vaccinations have even prevented horribly fatal disease from plaguing and killing us at every turn and people are pretty much insulated from constant wars because they're being fought elsewhere, Life in viking times was probably AT LEAST as violent as we can imagine.

Second point, the viking blood in those English children, I'm certain that all their English ancestresses took one look at those scrubbed and coiffed raiders burning down their town and said "What an amazing moustache you have, rip my clothes off and have your way with me, I consent to your violent ravaging."

Sorry, that's part of the history too. Tribes have raped their way into the British Isles for time immemorial. While I'll freely concede that not 100% of Viking life was spent raping and pillaging, enough raping and pillaging went on to make it worth a mention and no amount of copper broaches, jewelry or riding gear should eclipse the fact that many vikings were sea rovers. Advanced Society or no, noting that even advanced societies engage in practices of piracy and briganding, even encouraging it, is worth a mention.

An important part of my understanding of history included learning that things that were happening now (like say, rape used as a weapon in Rwanda by a government in ethnic conflicts), had happened to my ancestors (Vikings, Scots, Romans, using rape and interbreeding as an inroad to Britain).

I'm not necessarily suggesting that teaching that part of it to young kids is smart, but something about making light of that stuff to teenagers who should be smart enough to integrate that information rubs me the wrong way.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pirate Fashion: Bazaar

Shot by Douglas Friedman, Bazaar, September 2008.

Pirate Restaurant: Charleston, SC

A pirate restaurant called the Queen Ann's Revenge is opening a second location in Charleston, South Carolina today!

Lol Egg

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

File under WTF

Scientists have confirmed the second case of virgin birth in a shark. That's the last thing anyone needs isn't it? A theoretically immortal toothy killing machine that can give birth asexually. Great, thanks for that one.
There have been nearly a dozen reports of suspected virgin births in sharks in recent years, but scientists largely assumed these cases were the result of long-term sperm storage by females after mating with males. Virgin birth is now the more probable explanation, and DNA testing is underway to confirm it in additional sharks. Chapman is currently analyzing the DNA of yet another shark species with Dr. Kevin Feldheim of the Field Museum in Chicago.
Oh YAY! more of this on the horizon, that sounds great. But you know what sounds even better?

From the people who brought you shark chumming and shark chumming from inside a metal cage I'm somewhat appalled to bring you....


The newly-opened attraction, Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin, offers the chance to be lowered into a tank full of crocs, among them suspected man-eaters, wearing nothing more than a mask, snorkel and swimsuit or trunks.

First of all, kudos to Crocosaurus Cove on having a fantastic name, secondly, WTF?

In the interest of careful blog journalism, I will now hold an interview with that Crocodile via telepathic communication.

The Pirateologist General: What's up Croc?

Crocodile: I am going to eat you

PG: What do you think about this new tourist attraction?

C: I am going to eat you so much

PG: How about those cages, does that look secure enough to keep you out?

C: Nawm, Nawm, Nawm, Smack, Smack, Smack.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dolphins, Jerks of the Sea, Part 5... In the News!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Dolphins.... are jerks.

In Florida, a 9 foot dolphin lept into a small boat, injuring the boaters:
"There was blood everywhere," Howard said. Norman told the Daytona Beach News Journal that he saw the dolphin coming out of the corner of his eye, but everything happened too quickly to react."The next thing I knew, a big old fish was on top of me," he said.
Now, far be it from me to not allow an injured man a slur, but dolphins' don't take lightly to ignorance of their mammalian classification. I'd watch my tongue or expect more of the same treatment from cetations, bub.

I also found video from a King of the Hill episode where a dolphin encounter gets a little too friendly for the show's main character, Hank. I'm including it to back up Part 1 of the increasingly large series Dolphins are Jerks.

Check out these Dolphins are Jerks T-shirts a Google search revealed.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pirate DIY at its best

The photos in fashion mags recently, are in my opinion, directly influenced by the Swimming Cities of Switchback Sea and the Miss Rockaway Armada, though certainly I'm not suggesting that magazines borrow other people's ideas intentionally, no, I suggest that they unabashedly steal from whatever seems most hip at the moment.

The Swimming Cities flowed down the Hudson River from Troy, NY to New York City in Late August. Check them out in the New York Times and again here, also here (Miss Rockaway).

Of course, that's just my suggestion.

Anyone who likes what they see here should also check out this interview with Tod Seelie about the Armada Experience on the Mississippi River.

Pirate Fashion: Glamour

Shot by Koto Bolofo, September '08

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pirates in the Movies

I know my news is old, but it's still news, and it's piratey, laugh with me at my bloggish incompetence.
Johnny Depp has re-uped his contract to play Captain Jack Sparrow in the next three sequels, for a signing bonus approximately my net worth multiplied by Eleventy Billion Frillion Dollars.

Also, apparently Russell Brand, who I'd never heard of but apparantly hosted the VMAs this year, has been cast as Captain Jack Sparrow's brother.

Also Paul Greengrass,director of the Bourne Ultimatum, Bloody Sunday and United 93 was/is rumored to be signed on to the Blackbeard Movie announced earlier this summer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pirates vs. Phelps

For those of you not familiar with the Westboro Baptist Church, they are the folks most likely to protest at a soldier's funeral and throw things at the mourners.

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, the Pirates of Little Rock protested one of the Phelps Family's protests, with a level of dignity and decorum rarely associated with such protests.

The Arkansas Times gave this account:

Yep, the cuckoo Phelps hate group walked the plank this morning after a happy bunch dressed like pirates and holding signs saying "God hates shrimp -- Leviticus" and "God hates cotton-polyester blends" stood opposite them at the corner of Markham and Scott streets. The group, made up of Central Arkansas Pastafarians, waved swords and growled "Arrghh!" in a manner that would have made Abbie Hoffman proud.

"They didn't know what to do," a pirate named Boatswain (aka Gerry Schulze) tells The Pitch. "We decided that the best way to handle them was ridicule. They had not earned our hatred, only our ridicule and perhaps our contempt."

"I had a blast that day," says Pasta Pontius Pirate (aka LeeWood Thomas.

Pirate 1, Phelps family 0.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pirate Fashion: Vogue

Natalia Vodianova, her husband and kids in Vogue, November 2008.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Should Pirates Walk the Pop Culture Plank?

Should pirates walk the pop culture plank?

So, like zombies, cowboys, devils, sexy nurses, sexy ups guys, etc... pirates are here to stay, but like every cultural zeitgeist, people get tired, and some people definitely care more about it than others.
Hardcore pirate re-enactors, however, aren't too pleased with the recent influx of new mateys. John Macek, who has been a member of a historical pirate re-enactment group since the 90's, complained to the Times “Why do some of them feel like they can wear blank spandex pants and a puffy shirt and be allowed to call themselves pirates?” I'm sure Blackbeard, if he came back today and attended one of these festivals, would ask the same thing. And then, of course, he would steal everyone's wallets and the festival trophy and sail off into the sunset.
I know I would rather see someone build a pirate ship treehouse, or really take time to create a fantastic costume, but I'm not going to lie, I don't always have time, I clearly don't have time to even post to my blog. So I'm hardly one to fault someone for enjoying pirates casually, but lets just all thank our lucky stars that we'll have a couple years before Pirates 4 comes out. I somehow doubt there would be as many people blindingly excited about dressing like a storm trooper if The Phantom Menace had come out the year after Return of the Jedi.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pirates in the News, October 2008

The biggest news out there in piracy coverage right now is still the MV Faina, that saga justified it's very own entry.

But it's not the only story in piracy this month, not by a long shot. Oil Tankers are under increasing attack in the Suez Region, ( view here and here where one ship fends of 5 attacks in one day )and they are being increasingly repulsed by the increased Naval might protecting them.
The U.S. Navy said ... it appeared pirates had tried to attack one of its big military oil tankers.

A security team aboard the vessel opened fire on two small boats near Somalia after they ignored warnings and pursued the ship, a U.S. Fifth Fleet spokesman said.

"From all appearances it does look like it was a pirate attack and the incident is currently under investigation," he said by telephone from Bahrain.

He said the Military Sealift Command (MSC) oil tanker, the John Lenthall, which usually carries a range of fuels for the U.S. armed forces, was transiting outside Somalia's territorial waters when the incident took place.

In a statement the navy said a whole range of warnings were given before the security team opened fire on the small open skiffs which came within 400 yards (370 metres) of the tanker."

And as you can see in the MV Faina entry, the military presence in the area is increasing daily in response to the call for greater shipping security.
Did you know that Blackwater is starting a Navy? Now you do:

The mercenary outfit--founded by former Navy SEALs in 1997 and heavily involved in U.S. military efforts in Iraq--has tentative plans to build a small fleet of two or three anti-piracy vessels, each able to carry several dozen armed security personnel, according to reports in Lloyds List Maritime. Although the Blackwater vessels will not be armed, the crew will be. Unlike official military personnel, they may have fewer qualms about using those arms against pirates.

Now, Mercenaries and shipping security have always gone together like peanut butter and jelly, but as always, when private armies gain increasing scope it's something to keep an eye on, even if it isn't a particularly shocking turn of events.

Remember the Iran Dianat? I reported on the mysterious ship that was giving most observers the heebie jeebies and most aboard it the mysterious radioactive or biological disease? Iran paid its ransom and it was released. Fnord.

Finally to wrap up this installment of Pirates in the News! Here's an article about an Indian man who was held hostage in Somalia, it's informative and pretty interesting.

"The governments have to act very fast to save hostages," says Vijayan of the estimated 250 sailors of many countries now suffering hostage trauma. "Having experienced what it is to be held captive by pirates, I know what the victims must be going through." He says the Indian government and navy must get involved as thousands of Indian workers sail the Gulf waters.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Nautical Photo Shoot on America's Next Top Model

"Piratey... piratey.... piratey piratey"
- Paulina Porizkova

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Can I Get an Arrgh?

Pirates in the lead article of the NY Times Sunday Style Section

It's only been 5 years since Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl came out, that sounds like about the correct amount of turnaround time for the zeitgeist to hit the "paper of record."

The Times article covers various pirate fairs and images from a recent one in Savannah.

Like Civil War re-enactors, many of these latter-day pirates pursue historical authenticity — down to their home-sewn underwear, pistol ribands and molded tricorn hats. Some have even hired blacksmiths to reproduce halberd axes from photographs. They can discuss their exploits without breaking character.

No Quarter Given, a journal of all things pirate, has counted nearly 130 re-enactment groups nationwide, compared with 9 in 1993, according to its publisher, Christine Lampe.

The article rightly states that while there are a preponderance of Captain Jack Sparrow impersonators, there is real creativity showing up in the work of many of these 17th century re-enactors. Just check out their Great Pretenders slide show.