Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pirates vs. Ninjas!

Arrg, me hearties! and yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rhum!

Yes, this entry is about pirates. I wish it was about ninjas, because the Real Ultimate Power belongs to Ninjas (you can look that up if you don't believe me), but it turns out that I am a pirate, not a ninja, no matter how much I hoped to be the latter, not the former.

No matter how much 剣術 I practice, I'm still a pirate at heart -- I have a tendency to bury treasure and mark them with cryptic maps, I raise the jolly roger just before I fire my opening salvo, I wear high leather boots (when I'm riding my motorcycle), I carry around a curved sword (you can image the shocked looks I get from hotel staff ...) and an eye patch for instant night vision (Mike told me this one ... coolness!) And I break out into song at least once a day: "16 men on a dead man's chest; yo-ho-ho and a bottle of ..."

"Rum!" my girls scream and then squeal with laughter.

Given an objective perspective (which I have, because I say so, and I'm a pirate), pirates are waaaaay cooler than ninjas. I mean, come on:

  • Pirates get treasure; ninjas go around assassinating for a bowl of rice

  • Pirates get the girls (have you ever seen an "authentic historical document" (sometimes called a "movie") where the pirate didn't get the girl? Didn't think so); ninjas live this solitary, silent and invisible life -- those losers!

  • Pirates get to see the world on their barques, swinging onto black ships (to get more treasure, of course) from mainsail (pronounced "mainsl") lines (they are never, ever, called "ropes"); ninjas live in a little ninja hideout, which is a burnt out temple if they are lucky or the dirt in the forest if they're not.

  • Pirates have this whole swashbuckling aura with a swagger and whenever they pull ashore, they sing and dance and drink rum. What do ninjas do on their off-time? "Meditate" Yeah, thrillsville.

... so pirates win hands down.

Now, I didn't know I was a pirate until I was informed by my daughter (who found out she was a daughter of a pirate when she answered her mother one day with: "Arrg!" Her mother wasn't as amused as she thought her mother should have been to that reply to the command of: "Make your bed, Elena"). I mentioned something in the way of Mama in command of a pirate ship when Elena Marie immediately corrected me: "Mama's not a pirate!" Me: "Oh! Are you?" EM: "No!" Me: "Isabel?" EM: "No! You're a pirate, Papa!"

... to which I responded in the only way possible: "Arrrg!"

I've accepted my piratey lot (with good grace, if I don't say so myself), but all throughout history, people have had pirate-envy ('cause they're wannabes!). Consider the following:

  • In ancient Greece, Jason wanted to be a pirate, for he called his merry band the "Arrrgonauts!"
    -- a black spot to the young man over there who groaned

  • Every last Latin philosopher had pirate envy. I'll tell you why. You notice at the bottom of every single one of their proofs, they put "Q.E.D." (quod est demonstratum)? Some think this means "Therefore it is proved." It means nothing of the kind -- it really means "so there!". If any of these philosophers had a spine, and a pair of high leather boots (which they didn't, those sandle-wearing latte-drinkers), they wouldn't be saying a whimpy "so there" (in latin, no less, which makes it super-whimpy), they would really be saying a manly: "Arrrg!"

    Besides, they had those ever silly Roman numerals, which they didn't even use on their clocks because IV upside down would insult Jupiter (this is a true fact!). You don't need Roman numerals; you just need two numbers: 2 and 8 for doubloons and pieces of eight. Aye, me hearties.

  • Back when they world had two super powers (no, not those super powers, because did the world get split in half for the U.S. of A. and C.C.C.P.? No way, but Spain and Portugal each got a Papal nod for half-a-sphere each -- which was actually an attempt by the Papacy to stop the needless deaths cause by the ongoing conflicts between the two kingdoms in the New World(s) over disputed lands), the Queen had a sign-up sheet for letters of marque for privateers (well, she called them privateers; the Spanish, since they "owned" England called them traitors): the waiting line wrapped around Windsor castle ... twice. Of course, every last one of those privateers were named "Blackbeard" and Francis Drake (later, Sir Francis Drake) and William Kidd and Henry Morgan and "Long John" Silver (although, come to think of it, I would choose a first name other than underwear for my kid, but that's just me).

    How much more manly can you get than William "Billy" the Kidd and Henry "Captn" Morgan (Humphrey Bogart in "To Have and Have Not" reference, anyone? Now there's a modern day pirate that played a manly man rôle manly) or Francis ... well, okay, Francis isn't a super manly name, but we also had Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who do ninjas have for girl-power? Nobody ... yeah; pirates rock!

  • Even in this modern era, everything, even the kitchen sink is trying to get a pirate gig. These days even vegetables are going for the cool factor of being a pirate.

So, move aside ninjas, your time has come and gone with the Edo period; but pirates have owned ancient and modern history and are still going strong.

Fancy that, Hedda!

P.S.: Origin.

Some of you, who may not have lived with us for the past six months, may be wondering why I chose to dedicate a seemingly off-topic entry to pirates. Well, when we visitted St. Croix (and I became entirely too exposed to the sun), there was bar/restaurant, where they had crab races for rum prizes (the winner was a 9 year old girl), and it's theme was piratey: the waitresses wore back T-shirts with the jolly roger on their backs. I asked Elena Marie if I should ask the waitress if she was a pirate and what she did as a pirate, but Elena Marie, after many stern admonishments ("You'd better not do that!" waving her finger like a scimitar), we didn't gather much (or any) information about pirate waitresses. Elena Marie's curiosity remained, that is, it remained so long as a living example was far removed from the discourse. So, over the following months we learnt much pirate lore from Elena's repeated entries to "tell me a story about pirates, Papa". Eventually, I found out that I am a pirate, so I guess I can now tell pirate stories with some authority, having first-hand knowledge of the subject.

P.P.S. (edit July 15th, 2009) And "Pirates of the Caribbean" rockzorx.

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