L. Neil Smith's
Number 200, November 25, 2002


"Poor Oh Poor the Pirate Sherry!"
by James J Odle
{After Thanksgiving} jjo@cox.net

Special to TLE

In terms of machismo, it's a show whose dialog at times rivals that of Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry. "Forward my men and seize that General there! His life is over!" In terms of silliness and absurdity it's the nineteenth century's answer to Airplane and The Naked Gun movies -- without the vulgarity, of course. Along with its companions [i], it's a show that provided inspiration to early 20th century comedians such as Laurel and Hardy, the Keystone Kops, and others. Its libretto was penned by the foremost wordsmith in all music comedy -- a man justly famous for his use and abuse of the English language [ii]. Not only that, but it contains a song that may very well be considered the very first 'rap' song [iii]. That is, if 'rap' can be considered to be speaking a great deal of words, in a very rapid fashion according to a particular cadence. Performed properly -- with innocence, gusto and free-wheeling, reckless abandon -- the show is nothing but pure, mindless merriment from start to finish with nary a serious moment. Oh, Joy! Oh, Rapture!

What show am I talking about? Why its Sir W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, of course. A touchstone in all music comedy.

So why write about a nineteenth century musical? Does it deal with serious issues, such as prejudice, as in Show Boat, South Pacific or West Side Story? Well ... no, not unless making a mockery of an Englishmen's sense of duty is a serious issue. Nevertheless there is this little problem ... having been composed in the 1800's it hasn't been contaminated with any sort of political correctness. And thus, being a show featuring pirates, that means performers will carry personal weapons, specifically guns and cutlasses {albeit fake ones} and engage in swashbuckling! [iv] Horror! {Strike One!} Worse, the pirates drink booze! Double horror! {Strike Two!} Finally, in one short, silly scene, the pirates manhandle women against their will!! {Three strikes and you're out!!}

Out of the repertory of every high school theatre company {such as they are} in the country, that is. Also, since most universities are dominated by socialists, fascists, communists, politically correct, government loving {when in democrat hands} faculties {who evidently lack 'faculties' since our universities are virtually the only places in America where socialism is alive and kicking}, we may as well count the show out there as well.

You see, we're living in an insane, pusillanimous-era in which Steven Spielberg feels this overwhelming urge to digitally erase guns from every scene of the DVD release of E.T. Its an era in which balless characters such as Hal on Malcolm in the Middle, are staples of TV sitcoms. Worse, we live in an age in which school administrators freak at the sight of butter knives on the floor boards of motor vehicles or suffer from complete cerebral shutdown when encountering a child, with his hands formed in the shape of a gun, yelling, "BANG!"

Just how far along has the wimpification of America progressed? Its difficult to know for sure but the first Men in Black movie does not give one hope for mankind. Yep, buried in the audio commentary [v], in reference to the scene where Will Smith stomps the cockroaches, you will find this disturbing conversation between director Barry Sonnenfeld and Tommy Lee Jones:

BS: We had to count every cockroach between setups to make sure that none had escaped for the humane society!

TLJ: They didn't want you killing any cockroaches?

BS: That's correct! We weren't allowed to! And in fact anytime you see anything being crushed ...

TLJ: Its like a rubber cockroach?

BS: It's a packet of mustard under his shoe!

{What a relief! This should be a great comfort for those one or two Americans who spend their sleep hours a tossin' and a turnin', a weepin' and a wailin', and gnashing their teeth over the untimely demise of cockroaches. Why do they give a crap what the humane society 'thinks' when cockroaches are concerned? Are cockroaches an endangered species?}

What the hell is the country coming to, anyway?

And so, for the foreseeable future, no youthful thespian will be permitted the fun of uttering such stirring, over-the-top, testosterone-laden, utterly macho dialog such as:

"... and before midnight, I hoped to have atoned for my involuntarily association with the pestilent scourges, by sweeping them from the face of the earth!" {Say it with bravado! That's where the fun is!}


"Our revenge will be swift and terrible! We will go and collect our band and attack Tremorden Castle! This very night!! Not another word! He is doomed!"

Nor will any youthful Frederics be wooing the ladies with these lyrics of unutterable romantic love:

"Oh is there not one maiden here
Whose homely face and bad complexion
Has caused all hope to disappear
Of ever winning man's affection?
To such a one, if such there be,
I swear by Heaven's arch above you,
If you will cast your eyes on me --
However plain you be -- I'll love you!"

{Alas, what lass wouldn't swoon to this ditty? I told you this show was silly.}

Oh well, enough of the fun stuff. Time to beat up on government education.

I don't believe in government education. I consider it to be the primary method by which the insanity and stupidity of previous generations is visited upon future generations. Further, I consider training children in dependency upon and subservience toward government to be little more than child abuse. So is teaching men that they have some moral obligation to march off to war every time so idiot politician blows the bugle. And there are a good many things I could say about this subject.

I could point out that government 'educators' don't seem to have a clear grasp of the 'employer-employee' concept; that it is improper and immoral and not to be borne that they have more power and authority over the education of children than the parents do! I could point out that if those degrees they receive in the teachers colleges are worth the paper they are printed on, that they would survive in the free market same as any other professional. I could decree that teachers are really insulting themselves when they resist privatization in that they are saying that they have so little confidence in their abilities as well as the content and worthwhileness of what they have to teach that they don't believe they can survive unless parents have no choice but to deliver their children into their hands!

I could point out that it is immoral for parents to shift the economic burdens of raising their children off onto other people and that the excuse "we all benefit from an educated populace" doesn't work with me.

I could urge everyone to get a hold of John Taylor Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Education, and learn about the jackasses of history, {Horace Mann, Andrew Carnegie, John Dewey and others} who apparently suffered from a collective cerebral hemorrhage in that they shared the common delusion of believing they had a kind of 'divine right' to play God with the minds of other people's children.

I could point out that the government schools have been dumbing people down for over 40 years now and that there is no correlation between money spent {always more} and results achieved.{If we paid teachers $1,000,000 a year, learning would not improve. The problem is in the content.} I could suggest that most Americans don't seem to have much in the way of critical thinking skills where politics are concerned and that filling one's brain up with a lot of facts is not actual thinking and that because of this Americans are vulnerable to propaganda.

I could point these facts out and more on this depressing subject [vi] and someday I will.

Just now though I'd rather have some fun! So, let's strap on our cutlasses, hoist some brewskies, and sing a joyous tune. Are you with me men?! Altogether now!:

"Poor oh poor the pirate sherry;
Fill oh fill the pirate glass;
And, to make us more than merry,
Let the pirate bumper pass!"

[i] The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore

[ii] Notice in the following how Gilbert uses alliteration, rhythm and how he slaughters the words 'parson' and 'matrimony':

Here's a first-rate opportunity
To get married with impunity,
And indulge in the felicity
Of unbounded domesticity
You shall quickly be parsonified,
Conjugally matrimonified,
By a doctor of divinity,
Who resides in this vicinity

[iii] "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General"

[iv] Who would want to see a pirate show without swashbuckling, after all?

[v] Its on the audio commentary, an alternate soundtrack, of the DVD

[vi] Here's some more books for you: Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America: A Chronological Paper Trail; Martin L. Gross, The Conspiracy of Ignorance: The Failure of American Public Schools; John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down

Buy an audio CD of Pirates Of Penzance at Amazon.com

Buy a DVD of Pirates Of Penzance at Amazon.com

James J. Odle is a splendid fellow who, unlike the vast majority of so-called 'public servants' has a real job in the private sector performing real work, which a real employer voluntarily pays him to perform.

He is also a Life Member of Gun Owners of America.


Flight From Eden by Kathryn A. Graham - America's religious right has gone mad, but if you are looking for a political lecture, go elsewhere! Instead, let the Texas Director for Armed Females of America take you on the science fiction adventure of a lifetime. And the journey is only beginning!

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