Eaglie's Aviary

Sunday, September 21, 2003

From the Corvallis Gazette-Times:

"Piratical holiday sails Seven Seas

Gazette-Times reporter

Arrr! Matey, what's this Talk Like a Pirate Day?

Get out your eye patch. Pirates are hip again.

Sure, Johnny Depp's suave, sexy cutlass waving in this summer's "Pirates of the Caribbean" has a little something to do with it, but the re-emergence of pirates in popular culture can also be traced back to a couple of local men who knew in their hearts that pirates were worth reviving.

It started out as an in-joke between two friends, Mark Summers and John Baur of Albany, who move in local theatrical circles and enjoy the occasional bout of pirate talking. Their first moment of inspiration came when, during a racquetball game, their grunts of pain became distinctly piratical.

This struck a chord in the two friends. What, they asked themselves, if they could convince the nation, or indeed the world, to spend one day a year talking like pirates? It would be a miracle indeed.

Baur, former features editor at the Gazette-Times, and now a science writer at Oregon State University, knew firsthand the power of the press, and in a flash of inspiration, he contacted nationally syndicated humor writer and spreader of whimsy Dave Barry about his idea for "Talk Like a Pirate Day."

A sensible man, Barry embraced the idea and ran with it, presumably with a cutlass in the other hand. He wrote about Baur and Summers' idea in his column, and the world press picked up on it.

Today is the second annual official international Talk Like a Pirate Day, and in the year that has passed since the first celebration, the holiday has really sailed the Seven Seas. A quick search of Google's news site Thursday brought up papers across the world covering Talk Like a Pirate Day, from Melbourne, Australia, to South Africa; USA Today to the Houston Chronicle.

"We started doing interviews today at 4:30 a.m.," said Baur, who had just woken up from a well-deserved nap Thursday afternoon. "We're going to do over 60 interviews, counting the ones we do tomorrow."

Even seafood chain Long John Silver's is picking up on the holiday by offering free pirate hats and food discounts today in celebration of the momentous occasion.

Albany eatery Redbeard's is holding its own Talk Like a Pirate Day events, including costumed staff and pirate specials. For more information, call 924-0520.

Since the introduction of Talk Like a Pirate Day, Baur and Summers have been interviewed by everyone from CNN to radio stations in New Zealand. They soon discovered that interviewers almost always ask the same set of questions, which has made getting through the interviews a lot easier.

"We've got our patter down," he said. "When the phone rings, it's showtime."

They've also already written three humor books based on their adventures, and are in search of a publisher. When one of Baur's publishing contacts informed him that a big publishing house editor was going to be touring in New Zealand, Baur took advantage of the inside information, and sent out a personal message to her during his New Zealand radio interview. He also encouraged all New Zealanders to talk like pirates every time they met an American tourist, on the off chance that they'd run into her.

The men promised to dedicate their first published book to the entire country of New Zealand if the tactic works.

Dave Barry, who continues to champion the cause, lists frequent reminders on his Web site about the event, warning fans Thursday that he was focusing all his attention on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

On Nickelodeon tonight, U-Pick Live is dedicating their show to Talk Like a Pirate Day, and will air pirate-themed episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and other cartoons.

On the official Talk Like a Pirate Web site, www.talklikeapirate.com, you can visit the illustrious history of the holiday, play pirate games, visit pirate links, and even order piratical merchandise, such as the official Talk Like a Pirate Day thong, and the Arrr! baseball cap. You can even "Ask Cap'n Slappy" for pirate-themed advice.

After Dave Barry listed the Web site address in his column, the site received 4 million hits.

"It lit up like a Christmas tree," Baur said.

Baur also said that after the last scheduled interview today, he and Summers will head to several local pubs and pool halls to douse themselves in ale.

"I expect to be under the table by 11, 11:30," Baur said with confidence.

Blackbeard would be proud."

Need I say