Reviews

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

Unbiased Review: So You’re Going to be Tortured

torture-coverFull disclosure, I wrote this book.

Actually, that’s not true – it’s not really a book; more of a booklet. Like, 15 pages maybe. And that includes the drawings. But it’s 99¢ so how can you go wrong?

That too is a lie. You CAN go wrong. You’d go wrong by entering into the medieval penal system unprepared by NOT reading So You’re Going to be Tortured: A Layman’s Guide to the Medieval Penal System. When staring down the angry mob yelling “WITCH!” or “HERETIC!” or “FRECKLES!” you’ll surely appreciate the peace of mind that comes with a familiarity of the tools and people you’ll likely meet in your tour of the torturer’s dungeon. And that’s what this book does – it fills you in on the basics in simple, friendly terms that you’ll be able to understand even if your mind is clouded with terror. And that’s a win for us all.

Did I mention it’s only 99¢? Less than a buck for the friendliest, most light hearted exploration of medieval brutality you’re likely to find. It would make a great stocking stuffer except it’s digital. So buy your loved ones a Kindle or an iPad, and then load it with this book for the best holiday ever!

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: Superior Titanium Money Clip

As you know, I live the high life something fierce, and that’s why the 1st world problem that plagues me most is finding ways to tame my tall stacks of cash. I used to shove it all in a wallet in my back pocket, but my right buttock can only handle so many bills before back pain strikes. And that’s why I decided to try a good old fashioned money clip.

The first clip I grabbed was made of spring steel. That might be good enough for those of you that only carry chump change; but me? I won’t leave the house with fewer than nine, even ten George Washingtons bursting out my pockets. With so many dead presidents, that spring steel clip got bent out of shape faster than Cornwallis’ tummy when it was time to surrender his sword to Washington back in 1781 Virginia, y’know? (more…)

The Kiwi Connection – A Reviewaventure

It was a dark, sultry night as I stumbled into my den and slowly eased into a plush velvet easy chair, ready to sink into a well-deserved libation. The Ambassador hadn’t much cared for my advice regarding the whole New Zealand debacle. Our heated conversation seemed like hours before she finally relented, but she knew when she called that if she’d wanted easy answers, I was the wrong bloke to ask.

Taketsuru Whisky and Surefire E2D FlashlightI leaned back into my seat and gently exhaled, letting the trials of the day melt from my shoulders even as my own weight eased from my feet. Reaching for my crystal lowball, two-and-a-half fingers deep in 12 year aged Nikka Taketsuru Whisky, I inhaled, savoring the warm notes of charred butterscotch and victory. I let the first sip rest on my tongue for a spell before gently swishing it around, feeling the whisky thicken as the comforting tingle filled my mouth with a gentle spice. I confess myself a novice to Japanese Whisky, but I’m well versed in what I like – and I certainly liked this. Taketsuru 12 year is a pure malt whisky with a heavy smoke finish much akin to a scotch or fine mezcal. It truly was the ideal accompaniment to my waning evening, and I prepared to take a second sip and settle into a comfortable respite.

The creaking of the floorboards, however, foretold a different story. (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…)