Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

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Location: Texas, United States

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Baboons? Pirates?? WTF???

OK, time to come clean on the Baboon Pirates name...

It's no big secret, really. Just two things that amuse me greatly.

"Amused by murderous thieving pirates??? How déclassé!" shriek the liberal elite intelligentsia!

"Associating the noble baboon with boozing and debauchery! How exploitative!" shriek the PETA bunnyhuggers!

Well, yeah. I suppose so. Lemme 'splain... Back in 1989 or thereabouts, I was the proud owner of an Atari 1040 ST computer. My favorite games were SunDog: Frozen Legacy, Leisure Suit Larry, and the F-16 emulator, Falcon. I played them for hours, when I wasn't swooping around the BBS community making an ass of myself, or figuring out the whole MIDI thing. Eventually, I scraped up enough cash for a new game title. Off I trotted to the Floppy Wizard, back then a large shop in Memorial City Mall in Houston. Now, it's in a run-down strip center in a bad part of town. Guess the owner waited too long to make the leap away from Atari and Amiga to the PC!

I'm perusing the shelves, trying to avoid the obvious rip-offs of old Atari 2600 & Intellivision console games, when one catches my eye. 'Pirates', by Sid Meier. Hmmm. You get to sail around & shoot other ships with cannon, find treasure, sail around & shoot other ships with cannon, wage war on land against the Spanish, French and the Dutch, sail around & shoot other ships with cannon, Swordfight, go wenching, and sail around & shoot other ships with cannon. Are you seeing an interest here? I had finished reading C.S. Forester's 'Hornblower' series for the 5th or 6th time around then, and was entranced with all things nautical and warlike. OK, so I couldn't be captain of H.M.S. Hotspur, pounding the French into paté, but this was close enough. I paid the princely sum of $50, and took the game home.

It was everything I hoped it would be! It wasn't uncommon to spend 12-15 hours at a stretch parked in front of the computer, capturing dozens of ships and amassing wealth beyond dreams of avarice. My buddy Rockhauler joined in on the fun, and we invented requirements above and beyond the scope of the game. For instance, finding a scrap of a map could lead you to a huge treasure hoard. You could also capture the Silver Train from Peru, or surprise the Galleon Treasure Fleet in port and burn them to the waterline. Doing all three in one voyage became known as the "Caribbean Hat Trick".

Rockhauler and I carried our pirate obsession with us to summer camp, where we were both serving on camp staff. Suddenly, pirate flags were flying at the rifle range, and Captain Morgan rum was the tipple of choice. Our band of buccaneers was dubbed the River Pirates, and we spread mild chaos throughout multiple camps. Talking like pirates was de riguer. A typical exchange:

Where are you going this weekend? Gonna hang out at a bAARRrrrrrrr!!
Gonna walk there? Nay, ye dog! It be too fAARRrrrr!
See that big fish under the bridge? Aye! That be a gAARRrrrr!
Who's that on the radio? AARRrrrrrE.O. Speedwagon!

And so on, ad nauseum.

The pirate fancy never left me. I've got dozens of pirate knicknacks I keep on my Pirate Shrine, and I'm always receiving donations from friends to add to it. When I visited Salem, Massachusetts for Halloween a few years back and stumbled on the New England Pirate Museum, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! One of these days I'll gather up all the pirate stuff I own and take a picture, but I need a wider angle lens for the camera!

So, that's the pirate half. As for the baboons...

There's actually three parts to the baboon tail. Tale. Whatever.

If you've read a few of my political rants, you've probably figured out I'm none too fond of Communism. In fact, I rate the entire Communist body of thought somewhere below bubonic plague and dysentery as things the Earth needed to have happen. I am, however, quite fond of a quote by Winston Churchill (whose guiding hand England could sure use about now...) regarding Communists. He called it the "foul baboonery of Bolshevism". That phrase greatly amused me, and I borrow it frequently.

Parts two & three are just pure silliness. There was a radio commercial a few years ago, for office supplies or maybe copiers, that featured a veddy veddy British family off on safari. What that had to do with office supplies, I've since forgotten.

Anyway, the commercial storyline featured one family member after another being dragged off by baboons. What made me laugh hysterically were the calm British 'stiff upper lip' voices casually warning each other "Oh, dear! Watch out for the baboons!" "Thomas just got carried away by the baboons!!!"

It was their accent that just slayed me. Here in the States, we say 'BAB-boons'. Everywhere else, they pronounce it 'Buh-Boons', which is just inherently funnier.

Then, there's Tim Cavanagh's parody of the old Nena song '99 Red Balloons'. His version is titled (what else?) 99 Dead Baboons. It's not the greatest of song parodies, but I love the line about 'dead apes clash with the drapes'.

So, wad up the pirate fetish and the silly baboonery, and you get Baboon Pirates. It's not the name I had ever planned for a website, but it'll do for now.

Oh, I already registered, so back off, domain-name squatters!