Reviews

Reviews of all sorts of stuff, from books to movies to rum and clothing.

Online Casinos are Piratey, Right?

I’ve been to Las Vegas a few times. The first was for a wedding, another few times were for just plain-old hanging out and finding fun places to eat and drink, and once was for the World of Concrete, which sounds like it could be lame – and you’d be right if it wasn’t for all the giant freakin’ robots. But that’s another story.

(Fun fact: One time at Caesars Palace, Mrs. Bilgemunky and I were so wrapped up in our walking conversation that we nearly plowed into some poor blonde chick, right in front of her own bodyguards. We barely broke pace, giving a lame half-apology over our shoulders while continuing on with our chat. It was a moment or two later when Mrs. Bilgemunky thought to wonder why the blonde chick had bodyguards and it fell together. “Wait, was that Paris Hilton?” she asked me. I looked back and realized that indeed had been Paris Hilton. Probably. Maybe.

Yup, we almost ran over a self-absorbed celebrity because we ourselves were too self-absorbed at the moment to notice her. How the tables have turned! Hahahaha!!! [although they pretty much turned right back since Paris likely flew home in a private jet and we had to elbow our way into coach.)

Where were we? Oh yeah, Vegas. You know what I’ve never done in Vegas? Gambled. It’s way too intimidating – the barrage of numbers and cards and tokens and some dealer who’s probably psychic explaining to me once again how to play the simplest of games but I never remember because it all blends together. Plus, you just know every other player at the table is a con-artist or cardshark – I’ve seen Rounders and that’s how they do. (more…)

Review: On the Scalding Sea

On the Scalding Sea
Buy Now from Amazon

www.marooned-lv.com
Genre: Contemporary Pirate Folk
Rating: PG

For seeming so mellow, Marooned has always been a band willing to stir sh!t up, albeit in their own, off-kilter and generally understated ways. Their early albums, Marooned and Better than Live, were upbeat releases that covertly delighted in songs of death and misery. Dance McCaw took a more cheerful approach in tone and content alike before sinking deeply into full on depression with the darkest version of The Mermaid known to mankind. And now they truly shake things up with On the Scalding Sea – because where most pirate albums take place in the mythological world of the “Caribbean,” this album takes place in the mythological world of “Elfwood,” complete with Dwargs (dwarves), M’raak (orcs), and Drey (bee people, apparently. Not bee keepers, but actual bee people. I think.)

The album begins with Revels of the M’raak. The song begins slow and deep. As is their usual style, Marooned comes across authentic and clear with measured male vocals before the ladies chime in to add a more melodious (and decidedly less orc-like) overtone. This song is a tale of longing and wandering, although it also contains a line about “refusing elvish revisions” which I assume is a dig on AD&D 4th Edition. (more…)

Review: Bail Money

cd-bmI’ll never forget my first meeting with the Bilge Pumps. It was in a seedy back alley pub – more of a shack, really – in the red light district of the Philippines. These were the closing days of the cold war, and the Bilge Pumps had made quite the name for themselves amongst the covert circuit as NATO’s very best choice for freelance maritime demolitions. Their preferred method was to infiltrate targeted boats from beneath, hence the team’s codename, The Bilge Pumps.

For myself, I was still a fresh-faced junior operative. I’d only graduated from CIA Academy the summer before, where I’d written my thesis on the structure and security of Soviet bilges. In those days there was no one in the free world who knew more about the bowels of Russian vessels than me, which of course led to my own unfortunate codename; Bilgemunky.

The Bilge Pumps had been hired for a mission by the British government, the details of which remain classified to this day (although some jerk Admiral did sell the story rights to Disney. They made a film of our adventures. I think it was called “Tangled”.) Suffice to say, they had need of my particular expertise, and I was all too happy to help in hopes of finally making a name for myself. (more…)

Review: Greenbeard the Pirate Pig

20140204-1Rating: ★★★★☆
greenbeardthepiratepig.ca

All educational and child-rearing specialists agree on the importance of reading to your kids about pirates from an early age. But they sometimes forget to mention that sharing the true exploits of François l’Olonnais with an impressionable toddler can lead to less-than-desireable results. This is why we need books like Greenbeard the Pirate Pig to ease our youngsters into the basics of high seas shenanigans without prematurely exposing them to more advanced subjects (like cannibalism.) (more…)

Review: Caliche Rum

Rating: ★★★★☆
Caliche Official Site

calicheA sippable white rum – rare, but not unheard of. But even on the shelf, Caliche stands apart from its pale brethren with its mottled glass bottle, neck wrapped in hemp. It gives a rustic, tropical appearance usually reserved for aged rums, and makes this the only white rum I can think of that indeed looks piratey (a necessity for those of truly distinguished taste.)

While white rums generally equate to un-aged, Caliche is in fact a blend of aged rums using the Solera system. This results in a rather layered flavor profile. To the nose you’re met with fruit, while on tasting a creamy vanilla sensation dominates. The finish lingers and warms with alcohol burn that’s surprisingly gentle yet persistent.

Caliche is a class act, no doubt. It’s quite excellent straight up, and when sipped in moderation is damn near refreshing (not a quality I generally equate with rum.)

Review: Dance Macaw

Rating: ★★★½☆
Buy it Now
Dance MacawIn the world of pirate music, Marooned has always seemed to me a band apart. Neither in-your-face pirate-core (too soft and subdued in nature) nor background easy listening (too stand-out in its sharply contrasted male and female vocals), their music is at once understated yet domineering – somewhat like a passive-aggressive pirate captain with a penchant for morbidity. (more…)

Review: Kinectimals 2 (a.k.a. Farcry 3)

Rating: ★★★★½
91bgUBn5VML._AA1500_Buy at Amazon.com

Kinectimals is perhaps one of the most overlooked pirate games around – mainly because you probably didn’t know it was a pirate game. True, the basic idea is “pet the tiger” or “pet the leopard” or even “pet the bear” through the magic of Xbox Kinect, but it also involves the search for pirate treasure on a tropical island filled with ancient ruins. See? Piratey.

Of course, it was also pretty heavily targeted at kids, which is why it was such a bold move when they announced the sequel, Farcry 3. (more…)

Review: Pirate Santa CD

Rating: ★★★★☆
www.piratesanta.com

Having reviewed the children’s book Pirate Santa nearly one year ago, it seems a fine time to introduce the companion CD. Yes, it features a booming voice reading the story. And yes, it includes weird and wonderful sound effects. These you expected. What you might not have expected would be the additional music thrown in for good measure.

For those unfamiliar, Mister Mac is a pirate. A pirate, and a children’s singer. Approximately 37 feet tall, his shiny bald head has sometimes been mistaken for the sun, and the adoring children gathering at his ankles appear no more than two apples tall. Yes, much like Smurfs, only less blue.

Where was I? (more…)

Review: Raiding Parties Card Game

Rating: ★★★½☆

www.raidingparties.com

We live in a glorious age. There was a time not long ago when, if you wanted to enjoy some piratey fun, you couldn’t simply fire up the computer or break out the smartphone. There was a time when you had to use wooden swords, or perhaps some books with dice and mounds of scratch paper. Of course, there was another time not so long ago when many of the tabletop adventures took place in card form. I mostly missed out on those days – just a tad too old to get into Magic the Gathering or Pokemon. And this is why I shiver in fear whenever a pirate card game comes along – it’s not their fault, but I’m somewhat mentally stunted when it comes to card games. (more…)

Review: Cane&Abe Rum

Rating: ★★★½☆
madisondistillery.com/Rum.html

Cane&Abe is a rum that just dares to be different. Its bottle, what with the loop on its neck, looks more appropriate to moonshine than rum. The native-american style eagle on the label, again, doesn’t exactly screech of high seas adventure. And being made in Madison, Wisconsin; arguably the LEAST piratey city in the entire US of A? Now my mind is blown.

But let’s not rush to judgement – it is, after all, the rum that matters. At a glance it’s a deep amber, although in the glass it’s significantly lighter. The nose is prominently butterscotch and sugarcane – one of which is a common element in rum, the other less so (I’ll leave it to you to figure which is which.)

On the tongue, Cane&Abe is again like hot butterscotch – liquid candy for adults. Light and sweet, this isn’t exactly fit for putting a kraken into a half-nelson while making out with a mermaid and kicking a spanish corpse. But while it’s not the stuff of pirate legend, it IS pretty decent in its own right, and might be worth checking out if you’d like a break from charred gunpowder and molasses.