Now in our ninth calendar year!
PCR #409 (Vol. 9, No. 4) This edition is for the week of January 21--27, 2008.
Pirates! Pirates! Pirates!
Every year Tampa has the unique traditional celebration of Gasparilla in which a sloop of Pirates invade the bay area in a reenactment of the mythical Jose Gaspar's original sacking of Tampa. This is in turn celebrated by a parade which signifies the townsfolk defending the city. It really is a rather unique piece of Tampa custom that is celebrated at the end of January and most all month long in February. Of course, this great tradition over the years has deteriorated into pure drunken abandon in which the adults have taken it over and made it "adult". If you want to call it that. The floats as of late have also gone down in quality, I must add. The only really interesting thing this year is that they are bringing back the tradition of the pirates returning in a couple weeks in which they "surrender" by handing the mayor back the key to the city. But there are other ways to enjoy the parade and its piratical tradition. For one, to avoid the crowds and still watch the parade, it's as easy as turning on your TV. Getting yourself into the spirit of festival is also very important and there are many ways to do that right at home. So below is a booty full of suggestions that any sea dog and landlubber alike would appreciate.
Pirates of the Golden Age: This recent DVD set, released as part of Universal's franchise collection, really only boasts one film even worth mentioning. Against All Flags (1952) was Errol Flynn's last great swashbuckling epic. With Anthony Quinn as the villain and babe Maureen O'Hara as a sassy female pirate it's not to be missed. While not historically accurate by having Captain Kidd as part of a pirate council and various other historical liberties, it is nevertheless good high seas fun with sword fights, lush tropical isles, and cannons-a-blasting, all in glorious color.
The Fortunes of Captain Blood/Captain Pirate: Two films made in the 1950s,as sequels to Flynn's Captain Blood, starring (TV's Lone Wolf) Louis Hayward as Blood, a surgeon forced into piracy. The first film is the best of the two and ends with perhaps the best of the old school pirate films ship battles. Apparently using model work and front projection, the image of a ship heading straight to ram Blood's ship being blasted to bits is nothing short of amazing. These two films are among the best pirate films ever made.
Blackbeard-Terror At Sea: A BBC produced drama starring (HBO's Rome) James Purfoy is really the only decent and accurate film about the best known pirate that many called "the devil himself".
Of course don't pass up the top 5 best pirate films of all time, in my opinion:
1. Cutthroat Island
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
3. The Black Swan
4. Captain Blood
5. Treasure Island, 1930's version. Skip the Disney one.
Blackbeard--The Real Pirate of the Caribbean: A companion book to Blackbeard--Terror At Sea it is the best up to date account of Edward "Blackbeard" Thatch you can find. It also has plenty of cool sidebars that cover pirate life in general.
The History of Pirates: Really good book that covers piracy all the way from Greek times to the Golden Age (1690-1730). It also has chapters on all the famous pirates such as Blackbeard, Kidd, Mary Read and Anne Bonney, Bartholomew Roberts, Henry Morgan, Avery, etc., and even ones you may never have heard of like the Frenchman L'Onnois who used to commit horrible acts, such as beheadings, and forcing one of his captives to eat another prisoner's heart.
The following suggestions should tide you over until this weekend when you will smell the salt in your nostrils, hear the cannons firing and join in the festivities that are Gasparilla....if you dare! Watch out for the black dot!
"The Enlightenment" is ©2008 by Terence Nuzum. All graphics (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.