The Ballad of the Long Beach Invasion

What’s the magic of pirate gatherings? I suppose answers vary. For some it’s the music. The food. The chance to deck up a right foul swab and carouse about town. But then, you don’t really need a pirate gathering to find and do these things (and I have the pix to prove it). Then there’s the rarer gems—the merfolk and live shows and vendors slinging swag. All good things, but I’d suggest they’re still not the true magic of pirate gatherings.

The true magic is right there in the back of its name. The gathering. The too rare occasion where like-minded roughs get together, belt out “yarrrs” free of irony and partake in all the aforementioned attractions piratical. The bands, the food, the merpeeps and rum. Usually more than a little rum.

Of course, not all pirate festivals are created equal. But after my first trek to Pirate Invasion Long Beach this past June, I’m pleased to note it measured strong on all counts. For me, it was damned near overwhelming, being my first true foray to piratedom in a long spell, and my first ever in Southern California.

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Review: Kahuna Kevin’s “Why is the Rum Gone?”

Rating: ★★★★★ (turn speakers WAY up before visiting. Unless you’re at work. Unless your boss is really cool)

In case you require clarification, I love rum. Also, I love a good cocktail. Yet, strangely enough, aside from the occasional Mai Tai my mixed drinks of choice typically hail from the bourbon/whiskey camps – rum is rarely a piece of the equation.

Of course, that was before I learned of Kahuna Kevin’s “Why Is the Rum Gone? A collection of 40 tiki-licious rum cocktails.” That’s right – no less than 40 ORIGINAL rum drinks ranging from the sweet to the savory, and with such pirate-appropriate names as the Addled Wench, Blackbeard’s Depth Charge, Headhunter’s Punch, and yes, even the Scurvy Mouthbanger. Continue reading

Review: Foam Rum Barrel

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy it Now
Let me set a scene for you. You and your mates are at a glorious pirate festival, bedecked in your swashbuckling finery. And then, as so often happens in these dark times, a gaggle of steampunks approach you and ask something like, “Pardon me, good sirs, indubitably, do you happen to know the location of the afternoon tea party, as it were? Harumph, pip pip?”

What exactly is the best response to this dreadful occurrence? Some might opt for the “stab first” option, but this often leads to trouble as it requires violating the festival’s peace-tie policy. Others might instead launch a small barrage of profanity, but in truth a cursing pirate sometimes comes across more like Yosemite Sam than we care to admit, which could leave you vulnerable to heckling (believe me, nothing is more painful than watching a steampunk do his Yosemite Sam impression at your expense). And so I would offer a third, wholly superior option – club the steampunk commander upside the head with a five gallon rum barrel. Pretty sweet, eh? Continue reading

Review: Dirk and Arrow Custom Flag

Rating: ★★★★½

I’ve stated before that a pirate needs a hat, and this is true. But a pirate also needs a flag. After all, if a pirate doesn’t have a flag, then what will they hoist before attacking Spaniards? Well, without a pirate flag they’ll either hoist their nation’s ensign (which makes them a privateer, and a poser), or they hoist whatever happens to be onhand at the time, which can lead to all sorts of embarrasing situations.

So yeah, a pirate needs a flag. And while many pirates opt to buy the first cheapo jolly roger they can get their hands on, TRUE pirates will design their own Continue reading

Review: Rise

Rating: ★★★★★
Genre: Pirate folk rock
Rating: PG-13
Target Audience: Pirates. If you don’t love this album, you’re a poser.

A review of The Pirates Charles’ new album Rise almost seems redundant. I mean, it’s The Pirates Charles for crike’s sake! And, as always, this album is full of “almost traditional” music akin to what pirates would have listened to if only they’d thought of it. If you’ve heard their earlier albums, then you know what I mean. And if you’ve ever seen them live, then you know it even moreso. Continue reading

Review: RumChata

Rating: ★★★★★

Never, in all my years of reviewing rum, have I ever described a product as “thicker than milk, but thinner than a shake.” But then, I’ve never reviewed a rum cream before. Truth be told, there’s not that many of them on the market – only two or three to my knowledge. And of those I’d tried, they were good and all, but they were pretty much akin to Bailey’s Irish Cream, but made with rum.

Not so with RumChata – this is as different from Bailey’s as rum is from vodka. Yes it’s white, and yes it’s creamy. But RumChata boasts an assortment of smells and flavors that I’ve never before encountered in a rum (or booze-cream) product. The key here is the “chata,” being derived from Horchata. Horchata, for those that don’t know (I didn’t know) is a Mexican/Central American treat made from rice, and this connection is immediately apparent when you poor yourself a glass of RumChata. The smell of rice – think rice pudding, not that stuff you mix with Chinese takeout – is by far the most prominent flavor, both to the nose and the tongue alike. But there is more – rum, vanilla, and cinnamon are also apparent, as is a hint of coconut (which actually isn’t present at all, but it’s just a trick of the rice.) Continue reading

‘Kraken’ is the BEST RUM EVER (and I haven’t even tasted it yet)

Brace yerselves, mates, for it’s the end of an era. For decades the spiced rum market has been dominated by one name – Captain Morgan (The REAL Morgan, by the way, was a poser pirate and a traitor to the cause. Plus he couldn’t sail for damn, so it’s fitting that sooner or later his namesake rum would be sunk.) Well, no longer – Kraken Rum is on the scene, and they stand ready to do some serious damage to their competitor’s market share. Why? Simple – Kraken Rum is the BEST RUM EVER.

Of course, I haven’t actually tried it yet. But check out the promotional package they sent me:

One bottle of Kraken Spiced Rum, one CD full of the Kraken’s tales, a hardbound book of stories, history, and recipes, genuine (likely fake) kraken ink and tooth, a wall chart showing the kraken’s enormous scale – even a personal letter addressed to their “Esteemed Colleague.” That’s right – *I’m* an esteemed colleague of Kraken Rum! I bet next Christmas they’ll even invite me over for dinner. And did I mention it was all in a custom Kraken box, sealed in wax? I mean, seriously, when’s the last time Captain Morgan, or any of those other wannabe spiced rums (I’m looking at you Sailor Jerry and Kilo Kai) ever sent me something this nice? The answer: NEVER.

Soon I’ll actually taste the rum. And then write a review. Until then, I remain confident in my statement that Kraken Rum is the best rum I ain’t never tasted. Oh, and don’t forget to check out their website.

Other Valuable Sources

History of Pirates
Pirates in Caribbean Waters
Caribbean Region
Caribbean vacation packages
Punta Cana all inclusive
Pirate Waters of Punta Cana

Review: Blackbeard Figure from Sideshow Collectibles

Rating: ★★★★★

bbeard_fullBy all accounts, Blackbeard was a beast among men – towering over his contemporaries, and piratey to the core. Well, this new collectable figure from Sideshow Collectibles is no different. Standing at a whopping 19 inches, and with a scowl that could melt granite, this rendering of Blackbeard is truly the meanest, pirateyest thing to come across my desk in some time. Striking a “Captain Morgan” pose atop a demolished cannon (which he probably head-butted), Blackbeard stands poised for a moment to catch his breath between slaughterins. His blade is drenched in naval blood, while his enormous flintlock (actually, a doglock I believe) stands ready to bring a quick end to the next bloke that looks at him funny. All together, this statuette captures a moment of Blackbeard’s life that not only sums up his own legend, but pretty much defines the legend of Caribbean piracy in its entirity. Continue reading

Review: Flint and Silver

Rating: ★★★★★
flintandsilverThat one Treasure Island sequel should follow so quickly on the heels of another would seem strangely coincidental. Indeed, it seems almost yesterday that I was reviewing “Silver” by Edward Chupack, and yet here I am now reviewing “Flint and Silver” by John Drake. But in truth, the similarities between these two works are few and far between. Where Silver was a re-envisioning of the characters of Treasure Island, full of sinister murder, mind-bending cyphers, and dry villainy that intentionally lacked a devout “faithfulness” to its inspiration, Flint and Silver instead attempts to perfectly mesh with the expectations set by the original work and takes a more swashbuckling, lighthearted approach to material. It follows in the “boys adventure” spirit of Treasure Island, albeit from a slightly more grown-up perspective. Continue reading

Bilgemunky at NorCal!

Less than one week until the Northern California Pirate Festival! This is its third year, and if the previous two are any indication I can practically guarantee that this will be one of the best events of the year – The Pirates Charles, Skip Henderson, Roving Tars, The Seadogs… loads of great, piratey vendors (no aluminum siding sales, or renfair crap), and even one of the best fair-food selections I’ve ever seen (last year I think they had organic fish tacos or something like that.) And best of all? At Saturday night’s party yours truly will be DJing live! Hope to see loads and loads of you there!