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
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…)

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: ★★★★☆

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

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…)