The Poopdeck


The Talk Like A Pirate Day Newsletter
Published when the fancy strikes
Ol' Chumbucket, ed.
ISSUE NO. 64 or thereabouts- March 19, 2009
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The Poopdeck

183 Days Until Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today's Inspirational Quote:
“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” -- H.L. Mencken

In This Issue:

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Hey Portland! Here Comes Slappy!

Just a reminder of – and an update on – Cap'n Slappy's invasion of Portland this weekend.

Escorted by our buccaneer buddies, the pirates of B.O.O.M. - the Brotherhood of Oceanic Mercenaries - Slappy will be at Captain Henry's Pirate Store in Portland's Lloyd Center Mall from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21. It's a safe bet there'll be some drinking and carousing afterwards.

Slappy will be signing copies of our hilarious book, "The Pirate Life: Unleashing Your Inner Buccaneer," and generally cavorting in a piratey fashion with any close-by corsairs. The crew will be joined by Captain Henry's Buccaneer Brigade. All Northwest pirates are invited to attend, although keep in mind that the girls and boys of B.O.O.M. are the official hosts, who will "meander" throughout the Lloyd Center performing their schtick and terrorizing the shoppers. Not necessarily in that order.

Added to all that piratey excitement is news from our friend Master Robert "Cockroach" Blair that there will be live music as well - performed on the didgeridoo, if you can believe it. Yes, Cockroach has run into Jake Duncan, a young man who has been studying the Australian aboriginal instrument for nine years. He builds his own, composes his own didgeridoo songs, and plays the hel out of them. Cockroach has coerced - er, perhaps we mean convinced - Jake to attend the doings at the Lloyd Center and entertain the crowd. I would describe it for you, but mere words don't do justice to the didgeridoo. Seriously, an artisan of the didgeridoo is something you have to experience to believe.

Remember, that's 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at the Lloyd Center Mall in Portland, Oregon. Rampaging pirates, our book with Cap'n Slappy himself there to autograph it for you, danger and didgeridoo galore. Can you think of a better way to enjoy an almost spring day? We thought not.

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St. Patrick's Day Report

So in the end Mad Sally and I did NOT march in the 40th Annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Christiansted on St. Croix. Instead, we were invited to be two of the nine judges of the parade. Best seats in the house, a cooler full of Guinness, shade, and parade entries trying to bribe us with alcohol and cheap beads (the alcohol was more successful than the beads, I'm tellin' ya!)

The St. Patrick's Day parade here has been described as "a drunken stumblefest," and that wasn't far off the mark. There were pirates, and floats, and Greeks dancin' about in green chiffon togas, and kids (not so drunken) and animals and all manner of green-clad craziness. Lots of beer to be had. Lots of other stuff.

A time was had by all. Especially Mad Sally and meself. Thanks to our friend Marty, this year's parade organizer, for getting us involved.

Don't Forget New Orleans!

Just a reminder that two big pirate events are taking place soon in New Orleans. First up is Pirate Week in NOLA, which begins March 28. And then, overlapping it, is PyrateCon, one of the big buccaneer bashes of the calendar, beginning April 3.

Both are worth your time and attention, along wth several other events taking pace in the next few weeks. Check out our links page to see if there's one in your neck of the seven seas.

Whether ye attend one or the other or both or some other pirate party remember that, as Cap'n Slappy says, "We love all pirates," and hope that you have a good time flyin' the black flag!

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Ol' Chumbucket's Book Club

"The Terrible Hours," Peter Maas, available in paperback

This tale of adventure and heroism isn't a pirate book, per se, but it's the true story of a man who had as much pirattitude as anyone I've ever heard of.

Swede Momsen was a pirate, even though officially he was – of all things - an officer in the U.S. Navy, a submarine commander in the 1920s. At that time there was no such thing as a submarine rescue. Submariners accepted the fact that if their boat went down, they were dead. With luck they'd die right away, but there was no way of retrieving them from the ocean floor. Men died in fairly shallow water because there was no way to reach them. That's just the way it was.

That bothered Swede Momsen, who set out to figure a way to do what no one seemed interested in doing - rescuing submariners.

All he had to do was battle the Navy brass every step of the way while inventing the deep-sea escape capsule, the aqualung and pretty much all of deep-sea diving as we know it today, repeatedly risking his life and his career over and over. And why did he do it? Because it was the right thing to do.

It all came together in 1939 when Squalus, then the Navy's newest submarine, went down in 250-feet of water on a test dive. 33 men were trapped alive at the bottom of the sea. Before Momsen their chances were exactly zero - there was no way they'd survive. What little hope they had in 1939 rested in the untried technology that Momsen had almost forced the Navy to adopt.

The story of the Squalus rescue is a nail-biter. And (spoiler alert) after the final Squalus sailor - her captain - emerged from the escape capsule, an even bigger task lay ahead, raising the sunken hulk of Squalus from the bottom and bringing her back to port.

"The Terrible Hours" is a gripping tale, made all the more fascinating by the fact that it's all true. It really happened.

After World War II, Momsen continued making waves, finding a way around the Navy's system to lead the design of the next era of nuclear attack submarines. He just couldn't help himself.

Swede Momsen is a hero, one of those people you've probably never heard of (I certainly hadn't) who risked everything to accomplish something everyone assumed was impossible. He never let anything stand in his way.

"The Terrible Hours" is a terrific, riveting read and a tribute to one of the biggest heroes you've never heard of, a man with brass balls brimming with pirattitude.

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That's all for this issue. Until next time, Pirate On!

-- Ol' Chumbucket
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