Why Shiver Me Timbers, It’s that Time Again

Wallace Beery & Jackie Cooper in Treasure Island

Seriously, do I really need to remind me hearties  that September 19th is International Talk like a Pirate Day? Now as to whether or not pirates actually ever talked like someone spiked their grog with ground glass is a matter I’ll leave to the linguists to decide. But ever since Wallace Beery’s legendary portrayal of Long John Silver in the 1934 classic Treasure Island, the supposed parlance of the privateer would find its way into the performance of every swashbuckler that ever raised a cutlass while under sail on a  Hollywood sound stage. And in 1952 piratical interjections would be taken to new heights by Robert Newton in the film Blackbeard, the Pirate. 

Robert newton in Blackbeard the Pirate

Click on the image of that bearded, wild-eyed, old captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge for this year’s crash course in swagger and pirate speak.    

Now that you’ve become adept at the art of the Arrghs, let us review the recently revised pirate code of conduct:

  • Always put your best peg-leg forward.
  • Remember to press your pantaloons.
  • Compliment the fit and finish of your shipmate’s puffy shirt.
  • Never fly your Jolly Roger above the Stars and Stripes.
  • Buy your crew the next round of Grog.
  • Extend your hook to one in need.
  • Stand on the side of your shipmate’s good eye.
  • Share your booty with the less fortunate.
  • And always let your parrot have the last word!

But before you get all caught up in the “yo-hos” of the day, remember that a good number of our fellow shipmates have been facing some pretty rough seas as of late. Who would have thought that a couple of blowhards named Harvey and Irma could cause more hardship and devastation than all the scourges and scalawags that ever sailed the Seven Seas? So before you weigh anchor, why not pass on some of those spare doubloons to those who need your help and support? And remember that a savvy captain never sets sail without a good navigator.

Click on the image below to learn more about hurricane relief.

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Now that you’ve done your crew proud, it’s time to raise the roof and the rum!

Ye Have a Very Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

And while you’re at it, why not sing like a pirate while listening to these two old nautical favorites?

Posted by: Chris Poh for American Public House Review

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The Birth of a Caliphate

Birth_of_a_Nation_theatrical_poster

In 1915, D. W. Griffith brought craft and controversy to the silent screen with the release of The Birth of a Nation. This cinematic adaptation of The Clansman, a novel written by Thomas Dixon, Jr., is thought to have been instrumental in bringing about the second incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan in America. The film’s glorification of those that sought to restore the political and social institutions of the antebellum South through intimidation and terror would spawn a new powerful wave of white supremacy.

The repackaged Klan would expand its ideology of intolerance to include Jews, Catholics, and non-Anglo immigrants–all the while claiming to be answering the call of some God sanctioned greater Christian ethic. By its peak in 1925, this so-called fraternal organization would boast a membership of several million Americans. The cast in celluloid semi-social medium of the early 20th century may have inadvertently become the tool to rally, recruit, and radicalize a mass audience. Fast forward 100 years, and it should be no wonder to anyone that the means of modern media can so effectively convince thousands to embrace jihad, and for some of those minions to pursue their own personal pathology in the streets of Paris, Alleppo, or San Bernardino.

Quite frankly, I suspect there is very little difference between the modern terrorist and those that in the past unleashed murder and brutality against innocent civilian populations. Our inclination to believe that the nature and behavior of some of our kind is any worse than it ever was is most likely the result of our near immediate exposure to the excessive carnage and casualties inflicted by a handful of determined individuals with access to extreme firepower.

I am only grateful that the over 700 hate groups currently estimated to be operating within the United States seem to be lacking the savvy, sophistication, and organizational skills of those like-minded factions that operate outside of our borders. Instead of needing to establish something akin to a caliphate, our own homegrown brand of end-timer religious zealots seem to be content with spewing their dissatisfaction with mankind from some backwater compound or the back corner table of some gin mill.

It is not by any means my intent to downplay the current menace that we now face as a nation, but at the same time, it would serve us well to maintain an historical perspective about the true character of our adversaries. If we fail to do this we may fall victim to an even far greater threat–that being the tendency to be taken in by those who rely solely on the art of demagoguery  to achieve power. History has always borne out that those individuals pose the greater threat to democracy and personal liberty.

Those who at present operate beneath the mantle of a distorted apocalyptic view of Islam will ultimately prove themselves to be like every other rogue enterprise that feeds on the vulnerability of those who, either imagine, or because of legitimate grievances against governments feel that they have neither a voice nor legal redress regarding their own well being. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will eventually weaken and wither under the weight of superior military opposition from without, and by those inherent internal forces that bring about the demise of all despotic earthly jurisdictions. Even God can’t save the wolves when the sheep begin to grow a set of canines–and then develop the courage and conviction to bite back.

Hopefully, when that day is finally upon us, reason and religion will no longer be a matter of conflict–and God’s will for a few and goodwill towards all will be understood to be one and the same! 

Posted by Chris Poh for American Public House Review

       

Another Bah Humbug on Bleecker Street

Scrooge and Bob Cratchit sharing a Smoking Bishop

“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!”          

– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843

Though our journeys together over the last twelve months have been to some extent curtailed because of our individual circumstances, me and my cohorts at American Public House Review  were at least able to once more gather together at year’s end to celebrate the season with yet another attempt at properly paying homage to Mr. Charles Dickens. The following version of A Christmas Carol was recorded during The Bleecker Street Cafe in the broadcast studios of WDVR-FM in Sergeantsville, New Jersey on December 20, 2013. It is with great pleasure that we share this year’s somewhat faithful adaptation of Mr. Dickens’ finest work.

So stoke the fire, stir the Smoking Bishop, and sit back and enjoy by clicking on the following links:

christmas_carol_logoA Christmas Carol – part one

A Christmas Carol – part two 

Here’s Wishing Everyone  a Very Merry Christmas!

One Man’s Pirate…

Errol Flynn from Captain BloodLike so many of my fellow countrymen, I couldn’t help but feel some degree of personal pride and satisfaction knowing that our boys on the fantail of the Bainbridge had bested those freebooting  buccaneers from Somalia. And with the liberation of  Captain Richard Phillips another chapter in this nation’s struggle against Africa’s nautical thuggery  has been brought to a successful close. With the speculation already in progress as to who should be cast in the role of the good captain, so that this tale of treachery on the high seas can be delivered into the comfort of our living rooms, we would do well to remember that one man’s pirate is another man’s privateer.

On the streets of Mogadishu and in villages throughout Somalia the members of this ad hoc ragtag navy are the heroes. If this chaotic shattered nation had any form of functioning governance these seafaring brigands would be operating with a Letter of Marque. The rape of the fish stocks  and the dumping of toxic waste in Somalian waters by foreign concerns fostered the  relationship between starving  fisherman and the street militias whose common goal it was to drive the invaders from their shores. Unfortunately the resulting financial bounty associated with their initial efforts cultivated the current climate of  criminal  behavior.

“For inside the body of many an honorable privateer lurks the soul of a dishonorable pirate.”  Captain Chris “Yo Ho” Poh

Our own history reveals a more than accomodating attitude towards piracy when it served our national interests. From the early eighteenth century during the infamous Triangle trade, through the American Revolution and into the War of 1812 we allowed the maritime mercenary to do our bidding. Perhaps the customary eye patch is less accoutrement and  more  metaphor  for what happens when nations turn a blind eye to the improprieties of scoundrels.

So here I am once again facing that simple fact that we live in a world where there is no black or white other than what we hoist up the mast before firing that first shot across the bow. A Jolly Roger

So I will, as I have done so many times in the past, embrace my inner pirate by pouring myself  a pint of Clipper City Loose Cannon Ale and singing a few verses of “A Pirate’s Life For Me.”

Clipper City Loose Cannon AleYo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage we plunder, we rifle and loot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch and sack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle and even high jack.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We kindle and char, we inflame and ignite.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we’re really a fright.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

We’re rascals, scoundrels, villains and knaves.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, really bad eggs.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.

We’re beggars and blighters and ne’er do-well cads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
Aye, but we’re loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.
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Posted by: Chris Poh, Yo Ho

 

 

High Society Comes to Toronto

groucho_guinness

Here is one of those things that it is simply hard to believe no one has thought of before.  According to this morning’s Canada.com, a theatre in Toronto is experimenting with a new idea, serving alcoholic beverages to movie patrons.

“It went very well,” said Pat Marshall, vice-president of communications Cineplex Entertainment. “Our guests were happy and we’re delighted.”

Movie-goers who are of legal drinking age can pay $5 to sit in a VIP auditorium where in-seat food service is already offered and order alcoholic drinks. Beverage service stops once the movie begins. A beer costs $4.69 plus taxes.

First if all, I can’t believe how long it has taken someone to figure this out.  Yes, adults, who are the ones paying mind you, like to have a bevy now and again while watching a movie.  There certainly is no lack of drinking going on in the movies themselves.  Is that too much to ask?  We can get a beer at a baseball game, why not a movie?

Secondly, kudos to the theatre for selling the beer at such a reasonable price.  I would expect, like everything else that is sold in movie theatre, to pay some astronomical amount of money.  Now I can get a snickers bar and a beer for, I don’t know, somewhere in the 25 dollar range?!?!

— Written & posted by David McBride

Photo courtesy of Dr. Macro.

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Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 9:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Whiskey or Whisky?

WC Fields with Mae West

WC Fields with Mae West

“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.”

–W. C. Fields (1880-1946)

  ———-

I wonder if W.C. Fields enjoyed Scotch, Canadian, American or Irish whiskey?

By simply observing the spelling of whiskey in his quote, we can quite possibly surmise that Mr. Fields enjoyed an American or Irish beverage; if he preferred the Scotch or Canadian version, the correct spelling would be whisky.

The words whiskey and whisky are derived from the Gaelic words meaning “water of life”:  uisce beatha in Ireland and uisge beatha in Scotland, both pronounced something like whishkeyba.

There’s a much storied and debated history regarding the usage of whiskey versus whisky. Until the late 1800s, all whisky was spelled without the “e.” At that time, Scottish whisky suffered a loss of reputation because it was made using a cheaper production method, so the Irish and American distilleries added the “e” as a mark of distinction.

Whiskey is still used today for spirits distilled in Ireland and America, and whisky is used for those distilled in Scotland, Wales, Canada, and Japan.

Curiously, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms specifies whisky as the official U.S. spelling but allows the use of whiskey in deference to history and tradition.

Further reading on the subject is available here, here and here.

— Posted by Kathleen Connally who was delighted to learn that in Latin-American countries, photographers use the word “whiskey” instead of “cheese” as a way to get their subjects to smile.

— Photograph courtesy of Dr. Macro

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