John Baur
& Mark Summers,
Well Blow Me Down!
A Guy's Guide to Talking Like a Pirate

(Word Association, 2004)

There are certain holidays that are always celebrated in my home. Christmas and Halloween are foremost among them, but other days -- from Groundhog Day to New Year's Eve -- receive their solemn due. But we've missed one very important holiday each year 'til now ... but that's about to change.

Talk Like a Pirate Day is celebrated each year on Sept. 19. The holiday was invented on a racquetball court by two men, John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur and Mark "Cap'n Slappy" Summers, who apparently have nothing better to do with their time. The date, chosen for no other reason than it was Mark's ex-wife's birthday, has emblazoned itself across popular culture, helped along by an informative and encouraging column by Dave Barry in 2002.

Baur and Summers took time from their busy schedule of -- well, whatever it is pirates do in a modern, civilized society, to send me a copy of their book in time for the 2004 celebration, but I unforgivably set it aside for later review and, remembering the date incorrectly, missed the holiday completely. I intend to set things right today.

So let's ignore for the moment the particulars of the holiday itself, since Barry has already eloquently addressed the benefits of talking like a pirate for one day each year. Let's look instead at the book, which explains exactly how to do so and, in the process, provides a bit of history on pirates.

They have no great motives for inventing a holiday, as they explain succinctly in Chapter Two: "Talking like a pirate is fun. It's really that simple." And to help readers engage in as much fun as possible, they have devised the parameters of Pirattitude, the state of mind needed to squeeze the most juice from the day. The definition and test for Pirattitude waits in Chapter Three. Then, in Chapter Four, you can try your hand at a brief test of pirate trivia to prove if you know the name of Blackbeard's ship (was it Queen Anne's Revenge or Sissybritches?) and if a proper slug of grog contains rum or Sprite as a primary ingredient. Trust me, the test isn't very hard.

OK, now we get to the meat of the book. You wanna talk like a pirate? You gotta know the lingo. And these guys want to help you, although they readily admit their research "involved more beer and pizza than actually looking things up." So get ready to pepper your speech with everything from "avast" to "barnacle," from "lubber" to "wench," from "booty" to "salmagundi." And, once you know the words, these scurvy sea dogs help you still more by describing ways to put your new vocabulary to work at home, school, work, church and pretty much anywhere else you might find yourself. (They even provide the very helpful warning that "most women do not consider the phrase 'Prepare to be boarded!' an adequate substitute for foreplay.")

To fill out the book (because it really is pretty slim, after all) the two rum-soaked bilge rats (see how I cunningly weave these piratical words into my text?) provide the lyrics to a new pirate song, biographical tidbits about some real, honest-to-gosh pirates as well as some who exist only on the silver screen, a personality test to determine your level of pirattitude, an advice column and a peek at Baur and Summers' secret ambition.

That's it. That's all there is to it. Well Blow Me Down! is a funny, silly book by two silly, funny men who had nothing to do so they created a modern phenomenon. Be sure to visit their website for even more of their buccanneerial lunacy. And don't forget to celebrate Mark's ex-wife's birthday each year by indulging the wee pirate that's in us all!

by Tom Knapp
10 September 2005

Buy it from