Review: Pirates of the Cursed Seas CSG

Rating: ★★★½☆
www.wizkidsgames.com/pirates

That I’m only just now reviewing the Pirates Constructable Strategy Games (CSG) is just shameful. Not only has it been out for some years now, but what’s more, I’ve been picking up their ships from Walgreens since the beginning. I’d never actually played the game mind you, but grabbing a pack now and again and assembling the ships to display on my bookshelf was enough to give me a small thrill.

So there you have it – a game you don’t need to actually play to enjoy. But I can’t take the sole blame for not fully appreciating the Pirates CSG. Even their own publicity material admits to being unprepared for their warm reception amongst consumers – their initial game release, planned as a two year run – actually sold out a month BEFORE the official release. And their various themed series’ (Pirates of the Crimson Coast, Pirates of the Frozen North, Pirates of the Ocean’s Edge, etc. etc.) have left many at a loss to determine what to actually call the overall game (“That Pirate Game” seems to be popular, again according to publicity materials.) Continue reading

Review: Spongebob Squarepants the Movie

Rating: ★★★☆☆
In the 1990 movie Pretty Woman, Richard Gere said, “Peoples’ reactions to Spongebob Squarepants are very dramatic. Either they love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it but it will never be a part of their soul.”

Truer words were never spoken. But sadly, I have no way of telling you which category you’ll fall into. If you already love Spongebob, then see the movie. If you hate it, then you should probably stick to a steady diet of the television show until you learn to appreciate it – a feature length film will certainly send you off the deep end if you’re not yet ready for it.

So without delving into the plot – which doesn’t really matter as it’s mainly just entertaining nonsense – let me just state that I LOVE SPONGEBOB and I LOVE HIS MOVIE. And yeah, it even has pirates in it! Live action, smelly, pillaging and singing pirates. Live action pirates, AND a live action David Hasslehoff hydroplaning on his belly while Spongebob and Gary engage in mortal combat against a bounty hunter on his butt. Sound funny? See the movie. Sound painful? Stay at home.

Nothing more need be said.

Review: Muppet Treasure Island

Rating: ★★★★☆
The Jim Henson Company is responsible for some of the greatest little gems in movie-making history, and Muppet Treasure Island fits well amongst those ranks. Being a slightly modified version of the literary work, we follow the adventures of Jim Hawkin and his pals as they seek treasure across the sea. Along the way, they run afoul of evil yet endearing pirates – most notable being Long John Silver, portrayed extraordinarily by Tim Curry. Jim and Long John are the only major characters played by real people, the rest being muppets. Included are many favorites (Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, the Swedish Chef, Gonzo, etc) and one or two new ones (Polly the Lobster, most notably.) Continue reading

Review: Little Pirate and His Pirate Hat

Rating: ★★★★☆
Little Pirate and His Pirate Hat
by Rebecca Ann MacKay
www.littlepiratebooks.com

“Little Pirate and His Pirate Hat” is a cute tale in which Little Pirate explains and demonstrates all the many uses for his pirate hat (perhaps the most indispensible tool in the pirating trade.) From gathering scurvy-preventing fruit to protecting from sunburn, from bailing water to hiding treasure maps, there is little that a pirate can’t do if he or she is armed with a proper hat. Continue reading

Review: Swashbuckling Sea Songs

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Various Artists

Genre: Traditional and original pirate sea songs
Rating: G
Target Audience: Children

I don’t understand Disney. There are plenty of exceptional pirate bands out there, yet Disney seems oblivious. When Micky Mouse and gang decide to make a children’s album that feeds off the Pirates of the Caribbean success, rather than search for the experts in the matter, they go it alone. Sure, I know they do it so they can keep all the loot for themselves, and that would be fine if they made an album that in some way contributed to the genre. But they didn’t. Instead they made a half-hearted album of sissy pirate-esque songs that will be purchased by droves of impressionable children, who will then quickly decide that pirate music isn’t all that exciting, and never feel inspired to seek out those truly worthwhile pirate albums that don’t enjoy the sponsorship of Disney, or feature Jack Sparrow’s smiling mug on the cover. Continue reading

Review: Pirate Soul

Rating: ★★★½☆
Pirate Soul: A Swashbuckling Journey Through the Golden Age of Pirates
by Pat Croce

The bookstores are swarming with “general history of piracy” books. There are quite literally dozens of them. Styles range from large-scale textbooks with lots of graphs and pictures to text-based novels to numerous children’s books. Yes, the shelves are swarming with pirate history books. So why should Pat Croce’s new book, Pirate Soul, be anything special? Simply put, it isn’t a book – it’s a pirate activity center tucked between two covers. Continue reading

Review: A Pirate’s Life for Me!

Rating: ★★★☆☆
A Pirate’s Life for Me!
by Julie Thompson and Brownie Macintosh

It’s no secret that I adore children’s pirate books. In a world of myth-busting party-poopers, it’s refreshing to sit down and read some gloriously illustrated tale that shares my shameless love of pirates, without letting history get in the way of a good tale.

BUT, sometimes you gotta set the record straight with the young’ns and educate them properly as to the actual historical aspects of piracy, lest their heads become full of Hollywood mush. A Pirate’s Life for Me! does exactly that, covering the daily routines of your average Caribbean pirates from morning to sunset, with all the shipboard maintenance, eating, drinking, and fighting that typically occurs between. Actually, that’s not quite accurate – drinking is NOT covered. Continue reading

Review: Pirate Mom

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Pirate Mom
by Deborah Underwood

The thing that makes Blackbeard a particularly fascinating historical subject – aside from being a maniacal brute with a penchant for setting his own hair on fire, that is – was that he was one of the few pirates to keep logs of his exploits. In fact, he was one of the few pirates who could actually read and write.

So kids, if you want to grow up to be just like Blackbeard, you should learn to read (it’s the piratey thing to do.)

Step Into Reading is a multi-part series of books intended for budding to novice readers. Amongst their Step 3 offerings (grades 1-3) you’ll find Pirate Mom by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. The story follows the adventures of Pete, a young boy (and pirate fan, naturally) who’s own mother is turned into Continue reading

Review: Prelude to Mutiny

Rating: ★★★★½
Captain Bogg & Salty
www.eatalime.com

 Buy the CD
Genre: Original pirate songs and tunes of various non-traditional styles.
Rating: G
Target Audience: All Ages (and I mean that – this is not an album adults should ignore!)

“Prelude to Mutiny” is the third album from the groundbreaking pirate band Captain Bogg & Salty. Their first album, “Bedtime Stories for Pirates,” remains one of the must-have albums in any pirate collection. Next was “Pegleg Tango,” which I felt strayed a bit too much from their strengths, although it still had some very brilliant tracks that were well worth the price of admission. So what of this third album? It contains many of the elements from the previous two albums, and yet brings on a new edginess previously unexplored by Bogg & Salty. And it rocks. Continue reading

Review: Lost Treasure of Sawtooth Island

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Ye gads! I’m not sure what the motivation was behind this movie, but I can’t help but wonder how it ever ended up in a video store.

What intrigued me about this movie was the box’s mention of a search for pirate treasure in Lake Michigan. Careful viewers know that 1) Bilgemunky pities the Great Lakes for being sad little puddles of salt-water-envy, and 2) Bilgemunky lives right next to Lake Michigan. So I figured this might be an interesting premise for a non-ocean pirate adventure. That’s why I rented it – and that’s why I watched the first 20 minutes. I watched the other 72 simply for your benefit, dear reader. Lord knows I had better things to do with my time.

The plot could be decent enough. The basic idea is that hundreds of years ago a pirate buried a bunch of treasure in Lake Michigan. It was subsequently discovered by mobsters in the 1920s or so, but they had a shipwreck and had to abandon it – but they made a map. Now, Danny Quinn is obsessed with discovering said treasure, as his own father died searching for it. From there it’s all pretty basic fare: “oh no, Grandpa has tragically died in a deep-lake diving accident – yikes, the government wants to repossess the family schooner and send me to a foster home – hey, let’s go find the treasure and solve all our problems – oh no, it’s the one-eyed banshee!!!” Continue reading