Monthly Archive: April 2008

Review: Radiance&Shadows

Rating: ★★★½☆
Radiance&Shadows
by Catherine R. Donaldson

Radiance&Shadows is the sequel to The Captains Marshall, a book that stood out from any other in that it experimented with the notion of a pirate crew as a maternal (rather than patriarchal) undertaking. It also stood out in its exploration of karmic balance – or lack thereof, to be more specific. The delicate act of being the “nice guy” (or gal) in a business that thrives on brutality can be difficult to manage, and good intentions don’t always bear good results. These are the issues that were explored in the Captains Marshall, and these were the reasons that this first novel was more engrossing and complex than I’d initially expected.

Radiance&Shadows picks up a few years after The Captains Marshall left off. Giselle and Soairse (revealed in this book to be pronounced “seer-sha”) are still dual captains of their own pirate “family”, and seem to have enjoyed continued success since we last left them. The story begins in the Caribbean, (more…)

Review: Havana Club 15

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Havana Club 15yr Rum

Cuban rum – by its very nature – has some serious expectations to meet. Between the mystique of being taboo, the equally high bar set by Cuban cigars, and the general buzz of how incredible Cuban rum is supposed to be, it only stands to reason that finally getting your hands on a Cuban bottle should be a moment to celebrate. And as such, the rum itself is certainly expected to be worthy of such a lofty build-up.

Meh.

My first dissappointment with the Cuban rum was the bottle itself – mainly the screw cap and plastic diffuser. I like corks, and diffusers seem appropriate only with cheap mixers. So why cheapen a dignified rum with one? Well, I have been schooled. It seems that with the diffuser locked in place, it prevents malcontents from drinking a rum, refilling the bottle with some other rum, and then reselling the thing. It makes sense. I still don’t like it, but I recognize the logic, and will try to be less critical of plastic diffusers from here on. (This said, it bears note that to date I’ve only discovered this forgery-defence utilized on highly praised yet over-rated rums, and never on those I would genuinely deem worthy such concerns. In my experience, the best of the best rums remain humbly – and honorably – corked.) (more…)

Review: Pirate Scum

Rating: ★★★½☆
The Brigands
www.thebrigands.com

Genre: Traditional styled “tavern” music
Rating: G
Target Audience: Fans of folk-oriented pirate music

In a world full of festival pirate music, pirate-core music, and pirate parody music (and we love you all), it does seem it’s sometimes hard to find “real” pirate music. These would be tunes performed in the traditional style of dockside taverns, complete with old-fashioned instruments and vocals supplied by voices that were likely yelling “heave the jib to” or “I’ll gut ya like a Spaniard” earlier that same afternoon. But with their new album, affectionately titled “Pirate Scum”, this is exactly what The Brigands brings to the table. (more…)

Review: Going Overboard

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Bounding Main
www.boundingmain.com

Buy the CD
Genre: Traditional and traditional-style sea shanteys
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Grownups, older kids, and especially fans of Bounding Main’s live shows

As an entertainment group, Bounding main is essentially a coin with two sides. On the one, we have Bounding Main the live performers – exceptionally talented singers with a clear rapport with their audience, and more than a little tendency towards joking and goofing around. Bounding Main’s shows are generally defined by fun over perfection, where errors and surprises (for audience and performers alike) make each show wonderfully unique. And on the other side we have Bounding Main the recording artists, where the beauty of the vocals and a mastery of the stereo medium have seen the traditional sea shanty evolve into true music, rather than mere lumbering work songs. (more…)

Review: Ole Zach’s Tavern

Rating: ★★★½☆
Bone Island Buccaneers
www.boneislandbuccaneers.com

Genre: Traditional-style shanties with a pirate bent
Rating: PG
Target Audience: Pretty much anyone into traditionalish pirate music

With their album, Ole Zach’s Tavern, the Bone Island Buccaneers strike a delicate balance – they sound polished enough to be musical, but rough enough to still be pirates. All too often a pirate song is sung by a voice that’s clearly never tasted a lick of rum, but I’ve an inkling that the entire crew of Bone Island has indulged in at least a dram or two on occasion. (more…)

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean Online

Rating: ★★★★☆
www.piratesonline.com

Let’s face it, most of us don’t live the sort of lives that allow us to indulge our love of piracy – we don’t own sloops with cannons, we can’t walk around our neighborhoods with swords strapped to our hips, and so on. This is where Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMO) are such a wonderful modern creation. For those not familiar with the concept, an MMO is essentially an online world where you create a character and do whatever it is you wish you could be doing in real life. For people like us, this usually means looting and pillaging.

Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Online is a relatively young MMO – it’s only been live for a few months and is still growing and developing to best suit the desires of its players. In it, you create a pirate character – male or female – and customize their look to suit your tastes. The characters are a little cartoony, with the menfolk being rather burely and the girls leaning towards the cutesy, but this works well enough considering that the game itself is a bit fantastic and cartoony, rather than attempting to mimick reality outright. (more…)

Review: Pieces of Ei8ht

Rating: ★★★★☆
www.pieces-of-eight.com

There’s nothing like a game with physical substance. True, some of the best pirate games around consist of nothing more than cardboard and plastic, but there’s nothing quite like those few games that forgo these modern substances in favor of metal, wood, and glass.

Pieces of Ei8ht is a unique game in that it features no playing board, no cards, no dice – the only materials needed are an assortment of metal coins and a small velvet pouch. And while it might sound a trifle, there is nothing quite like hearing the jingle of these coins in their bag, the smack they make when dropped on the table, or the weight of them in your hand – these factors alone make the game so much more than it would otherwise have been. (more…)