Review: Ashaki Skirt, Barbarossa Blouse

Rating: ★★½☆☆
To Be A

Always on the lookout for more clothing options for the pirate ladies (still the underserved segment of our population), I was excited to check out this blouse and skirt combo from To Be A The skirt is their Ashaki, being a basic skirt with a jagged hem and widely adjustable waist (via drawstring.) To enhance the classy roughness of the bottom, it’s actually a double-layered skirt, allowing for a flowing, random look. The top is the Barbarossa blouse, with plunging, ruffled neckline and elastic cuffs.

Both items are made of a crinkly, flowy rayon – not the ideal choice for sailors or reenactors, but more than suited for pirate partiers or fashionistas. With some creative accessorization, this skirt/blouse combination can make for an excellent entry level outfit – decent quality, and very affordably priced. The key, of course, is finding a way to make it your own (with the further assistance of To Be A, perhaps, who offer belts, jewlry, and more skirts for additional layering.)

Review: Skallywagg Pirate Hat

Rating: ★★★★☆
Captain Jack’s Pirate Hats

I’ve reviewed Captain Jack’s Pirate Hats before, and now I do so again. This may seem odd, in that most of his hats are essentially similar – all that usually changes is the shape, the color, and options regarding waterproof treatment. Being as these are matters of taste rather than quality (which is always exceptional in my experience with Jack’s Hats), it’s of little point for me to review each and every hat he makes. But there are a few styles and lines that bear particular mention, and the Skallywagg Limited Edition is one such hat.

The Skallywagg is an extra-thick hat with an extra-wide brim. Formed into a traditionalish tricorn fashion with a rolled back, it is then beat up and (yes) shot with a musket – and this makes the Scalliwagg special. Most of Captain Jack’s Pirate Hats are essentially infants – crisp and new, ready to grow, wear, and age with their new owner. Continue reading

Review: The Government Manual for New Pirates

Rating: ★★★★☆
The Government Manual for New Pirates
by Matthew David Brozik and Jacob Sager Weinstein

Bookstores are increasingly full of “Government” and other instructional manuals of a fictitious nature. Whether you’re seeking to be a spy or a superhero, hunt zombies, dragons, or wizards – a manual exists to educate and guide you in your endeavors. The problem with this genre – at least, the part that makes me nervous – is that manuals in reality can be tediously dull, and simply replacing mundane scenarios with something more ludicrous doesn’t necessarily make it entertaining. It takes writers with a very special talent in order to build humor on such a dry foundation, but The Government Manual for New Pirates succeeds in every respect. The cover left me unsure what to expect, being a government-style with fairly cliche pirate graphitti. But any fears I may have had as to the quality of this book’s content were instantly put to rest upon reading the forward. These same fears were then shot through the head with a harpoon and buried in tar upon reading the first paragraph of the first chapter, in which anyone who’s purchased this book is advised to put it down and give up their piratical aspirations, as a true pirate would have stolen it. Continue reading

Review: Caribbean Pirates

Rating: ★★★½☆
Caribbean Pirates: A Treasure Chest of Fact, Fiction, and Folklore
by George Beahm

Caribbean Pirates: A Treasure Chest of Fact, Fiction, and Folklore, is exactly as it claims – a vast collection of pirate data culled from many sources. In the past I’ve reviewed books of this same format, and questioned the usefullness of such works, this being the digital age where information is never more than a few mouse-clicks away. Author George Beahm, however, has no small experience in this matter – he’s previously written a large line of pop culture reference books, with topics ranging from Harry Potter to seafood (and pretty much everything in between.) Having read Caribbean Pirates, I can now see the value of such a book, as Beahm does an excellent job of not only collecting, but compiling, processing, and conveying pirate data into a final product that’s both informative and entertaining. Continue reading

Review: Mount Gay Eclipse

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
Mount Gay Eclipse

My experience with Mt. Gay has been 50/50. I first tried their Sugar Cane Rum, and didn’t care for it much at all. I next tried their more exclusive Extra Old Rum, and it was an instant favorite. So now, just for grins, I return to the grocery store variety of Mt. Gay to try their Eclipse rum.

The color is light amber, the bottle unremarkable, and the label boasts the contents to be “refined.” To the smell, this rum is distant, and somewhat mildewy and crustaceous – I swear to you, there’s uncooked lobster in this, which makes for an odd, if not exactly good, start (especially for pirates with allergies.) But being the brave sort, I take the plunge and have a swig. In the mouth, Mt. Gay Eclipse is light and syrupy. It leaves a defined tingle across the tongue once swallowed, but little in the way of any actual flavor. The second sip encounters less tingle, and a bit more sweetness – but is still absent any real flavor. Indeed, with each subsequent sip Mt. Gay Eclipse flirts with flavor – sweet here, leathery there – but never really commits to anything. As such, it has little to recommend it to the the rum sipper of any sort of refined expectations.

Stick with the Mt. Gay Extra Old. It costs a penny or two more, but you’ll be happier in the end.

Review: Yellowbeard

Rating: ★★★★☆
When the bulk of the Monty Python cast teams up with Cheech and Chong to create a pirate movie – and then tosses in a David Bowie cameo just for good measure – the results are sure to be anything but dull. As to whether it’s actually good, well, that’s another question. Yellowbeard straddles that difficult line between genius and awkward, and I can’t quite determine which side of that line it spends most of its time. But while I don’t know that Yellowbeard is actually a good movie, I do know that I enjoyed it, which is all the really matters.

The film follows the exploits of Yellowbeard the pirate, escaping prison after 20 years of incarceration. He is essentially the human embodiment of the Muppets’ character Animal, as he glares out from a face that’s all teeth and wild hair, and spends his time killing, raping (to which the women only seem to marginally object), and – if there’s still time – seeking his long lost treasure. To do so he begrudgingly enlists the aid of his son, who he’d conceived the night before his arrest 20 years prior, as well as the additional aid of Dr. Gilpen and Lord Percy Lambourn (played by Peter Cook, who portrays the clueless drunk with astounding genius.) They’re pursued by the British Navy and government agents (particularly a Blind Pew, a sightless spy with preternatural hearing.) Continue reading

Review: Bacardi Select

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
Bacardi Select

Bacardi has long been at the forfront of rum, at least so far as nightclubs and bars are concerned. A staple of mixed drinks, I’ve long avoided drinking the stuff straight. But having explored rums far and wide, it seems high time I finally take a swig or two of what’s been readily available from day one.

I’m unclear which is meant to be Bacardi’s premiere sipping rum – either Bacardi Select or Bacardi Solera. For this review, I tried the Select. I bought a bottle, poured a glass, and gave a long overdue fair shake to this rum I’ve so long avoided. And the result?

C’mon, Bacardi. Is this really the best you can do? The largest existing distillery with the greatest resources at your disposal, loads of heritage beneath your wings, and you call this retch “Select”? Gosling’s Black Seal probably dumps better rum than this down the drain – and sells a better product for half the price. So do others, for that matter. 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: Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End

Rating: ★★★★☆
It’s a gross over-generalization, but sometimes it seems there are only two opinions regarding the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies. If you’re a critic, you hate it. If you’re a movie goer, you love it. And that’s that.

As in all things, the truth lies somewhere in between. I won’t rehash my thoughts on the second flick, Dead Man’s Chest. Suffice to say I enjoyed it – more or less. But it wasn’t remotely in the same league as Curse of the Black Pearl, and was burdened with many flaws that could have been easily avoided.

So on to At World’s End. No surprise, it picks up shortly after Dead Man’s Chest left off – Jack’s lost to the world, Norrington is an Admiral for the East India Company, and Turner, Swann, and friends are on a trek to rescue Jack from Davy Jones’ Locker. The opening scene, featuring Lord Beckett’s efforts to purge the caribbean of pirates via mass executions, is troubling and haunting. And it’s also surprisingly brutal, which brings up a point I’d like to address: Kids will see this flick. I know it’s PG-13, and I know that all the commercials highlight this fact and suggest it may not be suitable for the youngins. But in this way Disney is being completely disingenious. They can tout that this isn’t a kid’s flick all they want, but when they turn around and sell Jack Sparrow action figures, Jack Sparrow pajamas, Jack Sparrow bubble bath (I’m not kidding) and so on – don’t try and tell me they don’t intend for kids to see this movie. Continue reading

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