Thursday, February 4, 2016

Black Pirates Month

  It's Black History Month in many Commonwealth nations, and we find this relevant, as the maritime trade of the 17th & 18th centuries were instrumental in populating the Western Hemisphere with Africans, mostly involuntarily.

  Many scholars agree, however, that unlike on merchant or naval vessels, pirate ships were often crewed by many Africans who were in many cases treated as equals with an equal vote and an equal share of the take.  To many American and European pirates of the day, your skin color didn't matter as long as you were able to do your duty.

  Obviously, nothing in life is black and white (no pun intended), and there were certainly white pirates who owned slaves and exploited African people. Some pirates were right bastards, no doubt about it. But famed Gentlemen of Fortune such as Captain Kidd and even Blackbeard were among those who treated all crew members as free human beings.

  Many pirate crews were democratic, making decisions by consensus, and even voting for the position of Captain. Africans being transported as slaves often had the best chance for survival and evading re-capture by joining other outcasts and so-called outlaws.

  Being a pirate was a hard road, but being a black pirate was harder tenfold. So to all Golden Age pirates of African origin, whether ye retired to a comfortable freedom, or whether ye hung with yer mates, we salute ye!  Here's an article from the scholarly LA Times if ye want to get (barely) more official on the topic:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Premier of Rathbone's Web Series

Rathbone the Pirate just released Episode 1 of his new web series, Pieces of Eight. You might think of it as a video podcast in which Rathbone muses on pirate news and answers viewer questions. Plus, each episode has a clue to the location of a buried treasure.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Six Centuries Hence

Like something out of a George Eliot novel, council workers in Edinburgh discovered a long-forgotten skeleton while surveying for a primary school expansion. Archaeologists determined that it was around 600 years old. Furthermore, the site being close to a port and very near the historical location of a gallows, they found it likely that the skeleton could have belonged to someone executed for piracy. Far from being scared, the schoolchildren thought it was "cool" that the skeleton was found there. Full story here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Penguicon 2015

Yer humble narrator, Rathbone, and his crew invaded Penguicon over the weekend, and it were a better blast than an overcharged cannon! Penguicon be a fan convention celebrating all forms of geekery: fantasy & science fiction media, open source software, costuming, sustainability, food hacks, and promoting a better world by sharing knowledge.


Amy and Rory were even there.


On Friday night, Rathbone got the party started with his band The Likedeelers, playing sea shanties and doling out the rum. The Likedeelers featured Emily the Aptonymless on vocals, Marauding Mary on auxilliary percussion and baby slapping, and Cutthroat Clipner on bass. Rathbone assures you that Emily, Mary, and David (Clipner) have never heard these nicknames before.


Saturday started early for Rathbone with a 9 AM session called Pirate 101, followed by a 2-hour Pirate gaming session. At 1:00, Rathbone co-paneled Life As Adventure with Matt Arnold, Heather Fish, and Moshe [redacted]. Rathbone advocated making decisions with dice rolls and Moshe & Heather advocated learning to do one pull-up. Matt used dice to moderate, and encouraged people to stay away from couches, where there be almost no "luck surface area." Other advice included spending a week saying yes to every opportunity that appears and following the Cult of Done Manifesto.


At 5:00, Rathbone performed his Pirate Magic Show which runs the gamut from silly card and rope tricks to demonstrations of apparent mind reading. As a finale, Rathbone sent the audience back in time about two minutes.

After roasting former (and current) ConChair, Nuri Gocay, with a hilarious assortment of pirated insult jokes, Rathbone emceed the costume contest. Winners included a female Link from Legend of Zelda and a Pikachou/Tron mashup on rollerskates (fleeing a kabuki guy for some reason).



Rathbone then took a break from his crazy Saturday schedule to take in some third-party pirate entertainment by Duckman et. al. ("The Taking of the H.M.S. Virginity") which was amusingly ribald as expected. After which Rathbone commandeered a panel on random powerpoint improv. It seemed as though the presenters were not there, so Rathbone took to the head of the class and introduced the topic. He asked if anyone had a laptop to connect to the projector. Someone did, and as Rathbone addressed the crowd it became apparent that the people with the laptop were the actual presenters. They just didn't want to interrupt a pirate who was on a roll. Rathbone danced at the fifth floor hall party (thanks, Away Team!) and then drank rum until he fell down.

Sunday, being the Lord's day, put an end to Rathbone's deviltry, and he returned from whence he came. Thanks to everyone who planned, ran, presented at and attended Penguicon. Rathbone the Pirate, who seeks treasure for a living, knows no better treasure than the friends and experiences therein.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rathbone presents at Chi-Fi!

Ahoy, Chicago! Rathbone the Pirate, author of Ye Pirate Blogge, will be presenting at Chi-Fi 2015 this weekend!

Held at the beautiful and historic Palmer House in downtown Chicago, Chi-Fi is a celebration of all things geek. There will be geeky music, lightsaber training, Renaissance Faire activities, authors, artists, cosplay, and parties... plus our own Rathbone!

Rathbone performs a Pirate Magic Show at 10 AM on Friday, March 20. Also Friday at 5:30 PM will be Rathbone's "Pirate 101" session, featuring tips on dressing, drinking, eating, fighting, talking (and even walking) like a pirate. Saturday at 1 PM, Rathbone leads a session on some Pirate Games with dice and cards. You can also head over to Rathbone's vendor table to get games, missions, certificates of Rathbone's Pyrate Code, and even a palm or tarot reading by Rathbone himself. So head on down to Chicago's historic Palmer House on Friday and Saturday!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Black Pirates Month

We tend to be whimsical here on Ye Pirate Blogge. Our focus is the romantic ideal of the literary (and filmic) pirate. We relate legends and stories without too much scrutiny on their veracity. We try to be factual, more or less, but we lack the academic rigor of a professional historian. Therefore, here's an article on the veracity of black pirates by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Black Pirates Month: Peter Cloise

Peter Cloise was a Caribbean slave who was "taken" from his "owner" by the English pirate Edward Davis in the mid-1600's. According to accounts, Cloise and Davis became fast friends and pirated together not only in the Caribbean but also off the coast of Brazil. Davis and Cloise were Buccaneers-- although the term eventually came to be synonymous with "pirate," in Cloise's day the "Buccaneer" label was given to Caribbean pirates with large crews who often attacked coastal cities. England gave letters of marque to Buccaneers, legalizing their raids against England's main rival in the region-- Spain.

Not much is known about Cloise. He was arrested in 1688, and contradicted Davis' statement that he was "never a privateer," which may have been damning or exonerating, depending on who was doing the prosecuting. In any case Davis was pardoned by King James II and Cloise may have been the recipient of that deal as well. Possibly related to the pardon: some of the loot that Cloise and Davis raised were used to build a college in the name of the next generation of royals: William and Mary.