Ahoy mateys! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. There are a ton of weird “holidays” out there – Ferris Wheel Day (February 14th), National Doughnut Day (first Friday in June), Groundhog Day – but this one is by far my favorite, even if I don’t really participate, since it is just so ridiculous that it is genius. Plus who doesn’t like pirates (obviously excluding those who they are pirating)? Before vampires, werewolves and zombies became popular, pirates were the popular thing. I’m guilty of getting in on this trend; I used to have a miniature cannon on my desk at work and would occasionally launch plastic cannon balls at people who came into my office and annoyed me. Yup – these are the same people that just promoted me. I must not have “shot” the wrong people.
Talk Like a Pirate Day is the brainchild of two friends, who thought it was funny to talk to each other using the lingo of the raiders of the sea. The holiday didn’t really take off until the pair lobbied humorist Dave Barry to write about it in one of his columns, which he did in 2002. That increased media attention and the rise of the Internet helped spread the word that September 19th was the day to talk like a pirate. The significance of September 19th? It’s the birthday of the ex-wife of one of the founders. I’d be flattered if I were her. That is far better than any of my exes have done for me.
In honor of today, I thought I’d take a look at pirates in pop culture. There have been plenty of memorable pirates over the years in books, television and films, but these are among my favorites:
- Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean franchise
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are responsible for the recent resurgence in the popularity of pirates. Though the quality of these movies deteriorated quickly, Depp’s Captain Jack is probably the first pirate that most people think of thanks to his interesting take on the character. He’s so popular that they actually changed the ride to include his replica at Disney World that inspired the movie. The similarity was uncanny – and a little creepy.
- Dread Pirate Roberts – The Princess Bride
When Princess Buttercup is captured by Dread Pirate Roberts, she assumes the worst because of his reputation of leaving no one alive. In reality, it is the identity that her true love Wesley has assumed to come save her. Man I love this movie.
- Pirate Captain – The Pirates! Band of Misfits
This animated film was nominated for an Oscar last year and that honor was well deserved. It was a very cute film and perhaps the least intimidating pirates to ever sail the seas. Voiced by Hugh Grant, Pirate Captain wants nothing more than to win the Pirate of the Year award. Who doesn’t want to be recognized at their job?
- One-Eyed Willie – The Goonies
The legend of One-Eyed Willie looms larger over The Goonies than the actual man, who is long dead by the time he finally turns up in the film. But the lure of his gold is what gives the kids hope that they can save their town and leads them on the greatest adventure of their lives.
- Long John Silver – Treasure Island
I have never actually read Treasure Island, despite the fact that it is a classic. But I am a big fan of the hush puppies served at Long John Silvers, the restaurant, so the chain’s namesake has to make the list.
- Captain Hook – Peter Pan
Captain Hook is probably my second favorite character with a hook hand (Buster Bluth on Arrested Development is my first). I’ve always found Peter Pan kind of annoying, so I have some sympathy for his arch nemesis. I’d be pretty ticked off if someone cut my hand off.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – NFL
Lots of sports teams have embraced pirate inspired names – the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Oakland Raiders – but none have embraced the pirate imagery quite like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have a huge pirate ship that shoots cannons off after the team scores, for goodness sake. That is commitment! I adopted them as my playoff team in 2007 (the Bills, obviously, were not in contention) simply because of their stadium. Other teams should take note and commit to the theme more; I was very disappointed that there wasn’t more pirate related items when I went to visit Pittsburgh this summer. Seemed like a missed opportunity.
Enjoy Talk Like a Pirate Day, you landlubbers. I’m going to try to work a little pirate terminology into my day, even if that means telling my co-workers to walk the plank. Sadly, I don’t think they would think anything was amiss if I did so. They are kind of used to my pop culture references by now.