humor

World Octopus Day

It may surprise you to know that World Octopus Day is October 8. In fact, you may be even more surprised that anyone would take the time to celebrate such an inglorious creature, but the octopus, despite its silly appearance, plays a vital role in the health of this planet.

For example, did you know that the octopus is an important part of the diet of    sea birds, whales, and sharks. Not to mention hundreds of other species of fish that find this charming creature absolutely delicious. You can put humans on that list as well. Over 300,000 tons of octopus are eaten around the world every year. Among Mediterranean and Asian peoples, octopus is an important part of the diet.

Let me tell you a little about this multi-faceted creature. It’s part of the classification of cephalopods. That’s a fancy word that scientists use to describe sea creatures whose arms are attached directly to its head. You should thank God every night that you’re not a cephalopod. You’d look pretty funny if you had your arms and legs attached to your head. And think of the money your saving on deodorant by not having to deal with eight armpits.

Some of the different kinds of cephalopods include octopus, squid, and the cuttlefish. Though it can get confusing, octopus should not be confused with squid. Octopus can range from quite small up to three feet and beyond. Squid are generally much larger with tentacles capable of wrapping clear around some whales. In bygone years, when sailors whispered tales of sea monsters, the squid was often the real subject.

A squid has ten arms and legs while an octopus has only eight. Just remember that October and octopus both come from the Latin word octo which means eight. In the old Roman calendar, October was actually the eighth month of the year, not the tenth.

Both squid and octopus are capable of ejecting a dark ink when threatened. How cool is that? The confusion it creates allows it enough time to escape. As a writer, I’d like to have some of that ink. Do you have any idea how much money I’d save by not having to  buy all those ink cartridges at Office Depot?

I bet there are a lot of people out there who have eaten octopus and don’t even know it. That’s because chefs got the idea of giving it a fancy name like Seafood Delight cooked in a special wine sauce. Cooking with wine definitely improves the taste of octopus especially if you have a few glasses before adding some to the sauce pan.

My favorite dish at the China Buffet where I sometimes dine used to serve octopus. I don’t know why they stopped, but I do know they were delicious. I’d hate to think I was the reason they removed it from the menu.

No longer than an inch or two, they were mostly head with tiny arms. Like any good Buddhist would do, I always prayed that those on my plate would have a better life next time. I also prayed that God would send more. I don’t think he was listening very hard to the second half of my prayer. Maybe he was out trying to save some lost sole in the ocean.

Many octopus have the unique ability to change their body. Many can camouflage themselves by changing their color. However, there’s one species that can actually change the shape of their bodies. This is the mimic octopus, and it can assume just about any shape it wants. Some can turn themselves into shrimp, while others turn themselves into sea snakes, crabs, and even jelly fish.

I kind of wish I could do that. I think it would be quite useful especially when getting into a movie theatre or a restaurant that gives children half price. I could save a lot of money, and I bet you would too. Besides the practical aspect of changing my appearance, I think of all the fun I could have by turning into a dog and whizzing on my neighbor’s lawn as payback for all the years I put up with her feeding feral cats.

I don’t mean to seem irreverent, but I bet President Trump would make a great octopus. He could hold a comb in each of his six arms and rake through that coiffure of his while tweeting with two phones at the same time.

Of course, not all octopus are good. There’s one in the warm waters of the South Pacific called the blue ringed octopus. This guy is one of the deadliest creatures in the sea with enough venom to kill a couple dozen men. Its bite can kill within minutes. Fortunately, it likes to be left alone and will only attack if threatened.

Now that I scared the hell out of you, let me leave you with a couple of amusing riddles.

Why did the nervous octopus pace the ocean floor?

His wife was having a baby and he needed something to octopi his mind.

How did the liquor store owner describe the octopus who held him up?

He told police that he was well-armed.

I’d like to share a lot more about the octopus here, but space is limited. However, you can read a lot more about them and other creatures of the sea in my book Uncommon Mariners. Just look for the chapter Mother Ocean and her Children when the book comes out.

When World Octopus Day rolls around, arm yourself with a knife in one hand, a fork in the other, and a six-pack of beer in the other six and chill out. And just be glad you’re not on the menu at the Grand China Buffet.

                                                 Bill Hegerich

                                                The Uncommon Mariner

To leave a comment, click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/world-octopus-day/

Buried Treasure

 

Treasure Chests come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. What does yours look like?

Treasure Chests come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. What does yours look like?

When I was a kid, I remember a small tin chest not more than four inches wide and a couple inches high. It was shaped like a pirate’s chest with a sturdy metal handle on the top and a hole underneath large enough to slip coins into. The metallic blacks, blues, and browns beckoned this six-year old to a fascinating world of pirates with Captain Kidd’s own name inscribed on the front of the chest.

Looking back, a pirate bank seems counterintuitive. Pirates were the last ones you’d expect to save money though Henry Morgan did and purchased several estates in Jamaica. Not bad for a pirate, mon!

I guess there was more pirate in that six-year old than I realized. I never managed to save more than a few coins at a time, and while rum and wenches didn’t call my name, packages of baseball cards with bubblegum inside did. I can think of a whole lot of pirates that would be proud of me because of my spendthrift ways.

Our piggy banks have changed over the years. There’s still the common pig- mostly see-through glass or plaster of Paris. I have two myself; one large and one small, both are painted blue.

I don’t know if kids still use piggy banks these days. From the looks of the shelves in the dollar stores, there seems to be one for every kid in America with plenty to spare.

But somehow I think most kids and their parents have grown too sophisticated for them. Now there are gift cards in denominations of twenty to a hundred dollars, and it’s not much fun to stare at a gift card lying indolently at the bottom of a piggy bank. It is fun, however, to see a few single coins grow from a tiny miniscule lump to an impressive mountain of change.

I never took a poll, but had I asked the hundreds of buccaneers and pirates that sailed the Seven Seas, I bet my best tricorn hat that ninety-nine percent of them would laugh at me if I asked if they ever buried treasure. “You think wenches and rum come free, you bloat?” they’d likely sneer.

Still I can’t help but think of Henry Morgan who actually buried the treasure he stole at Nombre de Dios. Spanish ships chased his ships away while he was off plundering in the jungles of Central America. When he discovered his predicament, he hastily buried the booty then rowed several hours till he caught up with his ships.

My wife never had that problem, but she does keep her treasure in a chest of sorts. I’d use the word booty, but some you with lurid minds would get the wrong idea. Her booty is in a tall glass jar, not something you could bury very easily. She often wonders why it doesn’t fill up faster till I remind her that if she didn’t plunder it as fast as Henry Morgan raided the Spanish Main, it might be brimming over.

While few pirates ever buried their treasure, I can assure you there were some. Even today part of William Kidd’s treasure is still the target of many a treasure hunt. And that’s a good thing because my grandchildren Luke and Nora buried treasure in my garden last year. We drew a pirate map up to make sure it was official.

I’m taking an informal poll, and I’d like to ask you two questions. Have you ever buried treasure? Hiding money under a rug or in a book counts! At the very least, do you have a piggy bank or chest where you store extra booty.

You’ll have to excuse me, but I hear someone digging out back. It might be a neighbor or it might be a professional treasure hunter. Word gets around.  I’ve got to grab my tricorn hat and sword and check it out. I’ll be back next week.

In the meantime, if you want to read a little more about treasure, you might enjoy reading “What’s in Your Treasure Chest?” Find it at  https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/whats-in-your-treasure-chest/                                    .

                Bill Hegerich

               The Uncommon Mariner

 

If you’d like to respond, please click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/buried-treasure/

 

 

Blackbeard for President

 

Blackbeard was the consummate politician, blending guile, skill, and leadership

Blackbeard was the consummate politician, blending guile, skill, and leadership

I have a bumper sticker with a skull and crossbones on it. The skull is wearing an eyepatch, smiling no doubt because of the bright red bandana it’s sporting. Underneath it reads: “Put a Real Pirate in Office. Jimmy Buffett for President.”

I think Jimmy is having way too much fun to be tricked into running for president, but of all the pirates I’ve known, Blackbeard would make a terrific president. It’s hard to think of a more presidential candidate than Edward Thatch. That’s his baptismal name. Yes, even the parents of buccaneers have high expectations for their offspring.

Of course, I can hear your comments now. He doesn’t look anything like a president. Look at all that hair! And that beard!  Have you lost your mind? As a matter of fact, I have, but my wife has gotten used to it. Did you know we had quite a number of presidents who were no slackers in the hair and beard department? Abe Lincoln, of course, being one of the greatest.

It may interest you to know the last time we had a president with a full blown beard was President Rutherford Hayes, twenty-third president who served from 1877 to 1881. He could have passed as Blackbeard’s double though I don’t think Blackbeard would have approved of him as president. At his wife’s urging, he banished wine and liquor from the White House. That’s not the sort of thing a president with pirate tendencies does.

In case you haven’t noticed, Donald Trump is no slouch in the hair department though he would probably garner a bit more respect if he let it go pure white instead of using something on it that looks like dog pee. His hair dresser should tell him white hair implies age and wisdom.

As for Blackbeard, he was a dedicated pragmatist who knew exactly how to utilize his hair and beard. He used to weave fuses in his beard then light them during battle to intimidate his opponents. Imagine how frightening he would appear before a joint session of Congress or in a tense meeting with Vladimir Putin when suddenly smoke belched from his head, his black penetrating eyes boring a hole in your soul.

But it takes more than hair to be a leader. When you’re the leader of a pirate ship, you need three things: an ability to take control, a knowledge of people, and a thorough understanding of your profession. Blackbeard had these in aces.

However, like every politician, he held his position using guile, though his strong pirate persona would certainly give him an edge over whining tea partyers. He once blew the candle out in his cabin while drinking with a few of his crew. Suddenly, he picked up his pistols and fired them underneath the table, laming one person. When asked why he did it, he answered: “Got to show ‘em who’s boss once in a while.”

I think that would work well when a pirate president runs into a congress like we’ve had for what seems an eternity. After all, if pirates pulled off the crap that our senators and congressmen have, they’d never leave port. Pirates unlike most members of Congress today knew if you wanted to get things done… if you wanted booty, rum, and wenches then you had to compromise; you couldn’t sit on the deck and whine about having everything your way: “I don’t want to go to Africa; I don’t think we should take that prize; how come I don’t ever get first choice of captured guns. Blah! Blah! Blah!” Continue reading →

Sixty Things You’ll Never Hear a Pirate Say

Even pirates have their limitations, but there arrrgghh just some things a pirate will never say.

Even pirates have their limitations, and there arrrgghh just some things a pirate will never say.

  1. Ye think ye can pick me up some deodorant when ye go ashore, mate?
  1. Why don’t we donate this booty to the reverend so he can build a new church?
  1. More rum? No thanks, mate. I’ve had my fill.
  1. Keep yer gold and silver, folks. Ye need it more than me.
  1. It’s Sunday, mate. Let’s bow our heads in prayer.
  1. Does this sword and pistol make me look too violent?
  1. What’s that god-awful smell?
  1. This is me last cruise, mate. After this, I’m joining a monastery.
  1. Someday I’m going to marry a sweet, wholesome, old fashion girl.
  1. A haircut and a shave please.
  1. I have more than enough. You take my share of the booty.
  1. The wenches in this tavern are far too depraved for me.
  1. May I touch yer booty? ( sez a pirate as he looks at a wench’s money.)
  1. May I touch yer booty? (sez a pirate as he eyes the rump of a curvaceous wench.)
  1. It’s been ten years since I had me a drink.
  1. Play cards? No thanks. I want to finish this article in the New York Times.
  1. Put yer clothes on, ye saucy wench. You’re embarrassing me.
  1. Let’s chase that ship down and give ‘er all our gold.
  1. We need a new flag with fairies and rainbows on it.
  1. Let’s fill our cannons with M&M’s and sweeten the world.
  1. I’m going to volunteer for the Red Cross when I get into port.
  2. Where’s the next AA meeting?

Continue reading →

April Fool’s Day… Pirate Style

Warning!!! Child in Adult's Body. Expect the Unexpected!!!

Though it’s hard to trace the origin of April Fool’s Day, it’s a safe bet it’s not going to go away any time soon. I’d bet my last piece of eight it’s  been around for as long as pirates, but I know I’d lose. Just look at the old Greek saying: “When God created the sea, he created pirates.” Now that’s longevity for you.

Did you ever wonder though what it would be like to play an April Fool’s Day prank on a pirate? I suspect it wouldn’t be a very bright idea. And that’s something I would bet my last piece of eight on.

Imagine the surprise pirates might have when they dig for a treasure chest under the hot Caribbean sun, and you finally shout as sweat drips from their faces and necks onto their broad shoulders, “April Fools!” Imagine how many pieces thirty angry pirates can cut you into.

Or imagine some polliwog bringing a jar of termites aboard ship and letting them run up and down a shipmate’s wooden leg as he awakens to you shouting “April Fool!” I bet that prankster would feel like a bigger fool after he’s stripped and tarred with molasses then marooned on a flea-infested island.

It’s not that pirates didn’t have a sense of humor. They often put on little skits to while away their time. Some of these referred to dancing the hempen jig. For the uninitiated, that’s pirate lingo for hanging at the end of a rope. They all chuckled at the prospect, knowing full well that if they stayed in the business long enough, that’s exactly how they were going to end their days.

And I pity the fool who would dare spike a shipmate’s rum with salt water. “April Fool!” he shouts as the victim spits out what was once a perfectly good dram of rum. I bet a day lashed to the main mast without a drop to drink might show the scalawag the error of his ways.

Pirates were rarely a sophisticated lot so they weren’t beyond crude jokes, but I just can’t imagine the saltiest of them laughing off a tack on their seat after a hard day of pillaging and plundering. “You think that’s funny?” the victim snorts? “No, this is funny!” he fumes as he pulls his cutlass from his scabbard and shows the prankster the true meaning of being half-assed. Continue reading →

It’s Christmas even in the Caribbean

xmas jolly roger resize

Ever wonder if pirates in the Caribbean bothered to take time out from their busy schedule of pillaging, plundering, and wenching to celebrate Christmas?

It was no doubt the perfect time for pirates to return to the Caribbean after a year of plundering from Charleston to Boston. Once cold weather set in, it was the custom of some to head for warmer waters.

Blackbeard is a good example. Except it seems he made two fatal mistakes. One, he partied it up in North Carolina in November instead of heading to the warm waters of the Caribbean where Reggae bands, fancy rum drinks, and hot wenches waited. His second mistake was that he aggravated the living hell out of Governor Spotswood of Virginia so much so that the governor sent Captain Maynard in search of him and put an end to his fiendish ways.

Maynard didn’t have to look too far. Maynard met up with Blackbeard just before Thanksgiving in Oracoke, North Carolina. After a delicate game of cat and mouse, the curtain descended on Blackbeard with a dramatic flourish. Had he sought out a warmer clime, Blackbeard might have lived to see Christmas and another New Year.

One of the benefits of taking a few days to celebrate Christmas was the opportunity to clean your ship. We’re not talking about the excellent job housekeepers at resorts from South Carolina’s Grand Strand to Key West perform. Wooden ships are infamous for being on the menu of the toredo worm. A family of these hungry creatures can turn the hull of any wooden ship into Swiss cheese, rye bread and pastrami not needed.

The only way to combat them is to take the ship out of the water and scrape the barnacles and worms down to the hull. The process is called careening. Considering their size and bulk, putting ships in dry dock wasn’t an option, but the endless array of sandy beaches and shallow water bays in the Caribbean made that unnecessary.

Careening involved leaning the ship on its side, doing the necessary scraping, then leaning it on its other side and repeating the process. And all this while hoping the rum didn’t kick in too much with your crew and that pirate hunters would not discover you.

I admit it may sound like more work than fun, but how much fun is it for Santa to work his buns off making toys, doing recon work spying on boys and girls- and that’s not to mention the naughty  wenches he’s got to keep an eye on. Well, okay, that part might bring a smile to his face, but how much fun is it to ride all over the world in one night, and then for a reward be stuck in your long johns the rest of the winter?

Continue reading →

A TALE OF THREE PIRATES, A FLOOD, AND A SUNNY AFTERNOON

JOLLY ROGER 8X10 FINAL What a day

I was going to follow up last week’s blog with fifteen more worthy maritime organizations you might be interested in joining to help save the oceans, but as you no doubt know by now, South Carolina has been inundated with torrential rains that have had widespread consequences. None of them good. In fact, most schools in South Carolina were closed from Tuesday through Friday presumably because of flooding even though many are nowhere near a flood zone.

I find this cruelly ironic since those four days were knock dead gorgeous with sunshine from sunrise to sunset. Given the fact that many of the past ten or eleven days were filled with forecasts of heavy rains, thunderstorms, or clouds.

And while the historic rains had no good consequences, the fact is they did bring two blessings to me. With my daughter and son-in-law preoccupied with their jobs, my grandchildren Luke and Nora had nowhere to go. So for three afternoons, my wife and I harbored them in our house. And what a particular harbor it was. I think Jimmy Buffett would be proud.

One day we played the afternoon away on a weight bench that served as a pirate ship much as it has for the past four years. With plenty of pirate swords, hats, a real compass, and several treasure chests, there was booty aplenty to plunder.

But the best day was Thursday. No pirate ship that day. Captain Bill had something else planned. He hooked them young scalawags with a treasure hunt. Well, it wasn’t really a treasure hunt. The truth be told we was burying treasure, we was! On me special island in the back of me secret hideout.

But you can’t bury treasure without something to bury. So we rifled through me boxes and drawers filled with all kinds of treasures. If me memory serves me right, there was a small moon, an oversized coin of Florida, a coin with skull and crossbones on one side and a genuine pirate ship on the other. Me grandson threw in some jewels, the likes of which no pirate has ever seen. Rubies, emeralds, and more coins.

And so there we was, mates, two young pirates and this old salt, slipping out our secret door and into the unknown wild. Me grandson with a chest loaded with booty in one hand, his pirate sword in the other; me granddaughter with a treasure map tight in her fist and a pen in the other because what good is burying treasure if ye don’t know where ye hid it? Continue reading →

Talk Like a Pirate Day

aargh talk like a pirate day

 

Aaaarrrrrrgh! Talk-like-a-Pirate Day is September 19. Are you ready, mates? Put on yer cleanest eye patch, polish yer pirate accent, and get hooked on a load of rum. Er, I mean fun.

Origins of Talk-like-a-Pirate Day are hard to come by. Some scalawags blame, er, I mean attribute the day to Rover Louis Stevenson, that author of renown disrepute who boldly forged the  concept of the pirate in our psyche forever.  His book Treasure Island produced generations of pirates, and now there seems no end to them. You can see them everywhere from nursery schools to boardrooms, swinging their plastic cutlasses and raising their schooners in bars and on beaches, toasting the pirate spirit that refuses to die.

If ye want to talk like a pirate, the spelling of the word Aaarrrgh is the first thing ye must master. Some spellings have the word ending with a gh such as Aarrrrgh!  Others simply spell the word Aarrr! And make no mistake about this, mates, no respectable pirate would have a conversation without throwing in at least two or three Aarrrghs.

If ye have trouble making your Aaarrrrrgh sound like a real pirate’s, don’t be discouraged. It takes practice. First take a shot of rum or root beer, depending on how much fun ye can stand. Then let the word form back in yer throat like yer gargling. At the same time, roll the RRR as it comes across your tongue. It’s best to do this without letting the rum come spilling out of yer mouth. Otherwise wenches will either cringe or laugh at you.

Sometimes it’s necessary to simply reduce Aarrrgh to its primitive form, Aarrr.   This is the preferred use when indulging in a swordfight or boarding a ship, and ye have trouble being heard over the shouting and cursing of other pirates. An “Arrr” is fast and effective as ye swing yer cutlass with one hand while clutching yer rum with yer hook.

Using Arrr instead of Aarrrgh is also useful when forced to walk the plank. It’s a short distance between the plank and the ocean and not a lot of time to shout your favorite profanity: “If I ever get my ********* hands on yer ******* , I’ll shove five ****** up yer *****    *****   ***.”  As you can see, Arr works just fine.

If ye really want to blend in with a bunch of pirates, don’t forget to sprinkle yer conversation with a few double negatives. “I don’t want nothing but gold and silver fer me wench.”  And be sure to tell the judge: “It weren’t me! I never stole nothing from nobody! All us pirates look the same!” Continue reading →

Twenty-five Signs You May Be a Pirate

You May Be a Pirate if…JANUARY ODYSSEY116

  1. … You’ve ever been thrown out of a baseball game because you stole one of the bases and you weren’t even playing.
  1. … After you brush your teeth, you g-Arrgh-le with rum.
  1. … Your friends keep telling you to take a shower.
  1. … All your pets are parrots.
  1. … The Lone Ranger was your hero, but you liked his horse Silver even more.
  1. … You’re the only one in your neighborhood with the Jolly Roger flying from your flagpole.
  1. … You have a bumper sticker on your car that says, “My other car is a pirate ship.”
  1. … You spend all your free time listening to Kenney Chesney or Jimmy Buffett music.
  1. … Instead of a savings account, you bury all your money in the backyard.
  1. … Your only camera is a Cannon.
  1. … While everyone else is shaking their booty to the music, you start jingling the coins in your pocket.
  1. … Your favorite game as a kid was Hide and Sneak.
  1. … Your favorite instrument is the steal guitar.
  1. … You think a baby boomer is a small cannon.
  1. … You’re willing to pay an arm and a leg for a bottle of rum.
  1. … You have a dog named Rover.
  1. … You only watch movies rated Aaarrrrrgh.
  1. … At church you always sing, “Preys the Lord!”
  1. …When you got your ears pierced, you paid a buccaneer.
  1. … You’re a plumber and you keep asking your helper for your wench.
  1. … The only book you’ve ever read was Treasure Island.
  1. … Instead of wearing sunglasses, you wear an eye patch.
  1. … You think Jolly Ranchers are candies made just for pirates.
  1. You can’t understand why the woman in the supermarket slapped you in the face when you complimented her on her broadside.
  1. Your favorite blog is Pirates, Mariners, and the Eternal Sea.

How did you do? Less than five and you’re no pirate at all. Six to ten and you’ll be pillagin’ and plunderin’ in no time with a little more practice. Fifteen correct and you must have a pirate ship waiting to whisk you away. Twenty correct and you deserve the Golden Doubloon Award. Let me dig into my pirate’s chest. I think I have one in here somewhere. Oh, yeah! Here it is…