Saturday, September 19, 2015


Ahoy, Mateys.  I’m sure you are all aware that today (September 19) is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  This crazy holiday was started by a couple of salty dogs named Ol’ Chumbucket (John Baur) and Cap’n Slappy (Mark Summers) who drop anchor in Oregon and came up with this jolly roger of an idea back in 1995.  The idea was popularized by Dave Barry, the humorist and author, in 2002.  Dave Barry has serious pirate cred with his incredible series of Peter and the Starcatcher books.  The theme has achieved true social media legitimacy now with options to choose the “pirate” language on both Facebook and Google.   

The Pirate Box by Tatsuo Miyamoto

Lest I be made to walk the plank for insubordination, I present the Pirates Box by Tatsuo Miyamoto of the Karakuri Creation Group.  He explains that a pirate ship wharf mural on the wall of the new Sekisyo Karakuri Art Museum in Hakone Japan, the home of the Karakuri group, inspired him to create this puzzle box.  The Pirates Box looks just like a classic small pirate’s treasure chest.  The lid opens without fanfare and inside is a small wood and metal padlock which guards the loot.  Some experimentation and prodding reveals that this puzzle utilizes kannuki sliding keys, a common feature on classic Japanese himitsu-bako (secret boxes) well known to those with puzzle sea legs.  However, these keys don’t function exactly as might be expected, but use a little hornswaggle Miyamoto has perfected.  You won’t end up with an eye patch or a hand hook trying to break into this dead man’s chest, but you might shiver a few timbers.

Locked up tighter than hardtack 

If you haven’t already figured it out, I really love rum. A lot.  I’ve written before about the daiquiri, one of the great, simple, classic cocktails of all time, which is often completely misunderstood.  But on Pirate Day, let the scallywags sip on the dainty daiquiri.  We need something swarthy to glug from our pewter flagons as we shout yo-ho-ho.  Fear not, bilge rats, for in fact, the first “pre-prohibition” clap of thunder (pirate craft cocktail) I ever tried, many years ago now, which launched my mixology madness, was the “Dark and Stormy”.  

The Dark and Stormy.  Pirate spoon optional.  Whoever drank my rum ration will face the hempen halter. 

Back in 1806, James Gosling ran aground en route to America from England, in St. George’s, Bermuda.  50 years later, he perfected his blend of dark rums into what would become Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.  The Dark and Stormy is classically (and officially) made with this rum and Gosling’s ginger beer.  In Bermuda, that’s all that goes in the glass, but in the US we add lime juice as well, which gives the drink an extra layer of richness, and more importantly, prevents scurvy.  We can parley this dispute with the Bermudians until we’re loaded to the gunwall but both versions are delicious.  So get plundering and avail yourself of some dark rum, some spicy ginger beer, and a squeeze of lime, for a puzzling good time, or I’ll see you at Davy Jones Locker.  Now splice the mainbrace, me hearties, tip your tankard and bottoms up!

Pour some down your bung hole but don't go three sheets to the wind, pirate puzzlers.  

For the official “Talk Like a Pirate Day” website:

For more about Tatsuo Miyamoto:

For a seaworthy recipe of the Dark and Stormy:

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