Archive for March 6, 2010

Flight of Fantasy about Dreaded Pirates

A work colleague at my new job in Astana has requested that we might possibly show the movie “Public Enemies” or in Russian it is titled simply as “Johnny D.” for Johnny Dillinger.  Johnny Depp plays the part of Dillinger but I’ll have to preview this movie beforehand in order to list the vocabulary words and also find the idioms that would be difficult to understand for non-native speakers.

Believe it or not, I’ve only seen Johnny Depp in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie where he did a very convincing pirate act.  I’m looking forward to seeing him play a gangster from the 1930s in America when there were a rash of bank robberies.  Not too long ago I wrote the following piece about pirates, must been after I watched “Pirates of the Caribbean.”  Sometimes I take a flight of fantasy when I write, glad I don’t have to deal with these dreaded pirates…

Many pirate stories seem to start out the same way with “Once Upon a Time,” but this narrative has no ending yet, happy or sad.  Those of us who are their galley slaves wait for the demise of those dreaded sea captains, the Three Don’tkateer Pirates.  In this case, all three are Spanish men who may have once cared about their fellow countrymen, sadly they no longer do. They are out for only themselves. These three were educated at the same School of Piracy of the High Cs (Cagey, Crafty, and Cunning).  They sometimes have occasional spats amongst themselves, usually over a card game or after drinking too much. No matter, they get over it quickly, because they all share in the same booty and have a kind of robber’s built-in trust with each other.  However, they have a sycophant allegiance to other more dangerous pirates marauding and ruling the high seas on bigger vessels.

If you have seen Johnny Depp in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, you already have a good visual picture of what our pirates look like.  First, El Zeeta is an older, scarred man who has killed more, stolen most and doesn’t listen to others.  He skillfully uses syrupy cunning to intimidate those under him; he has developed torture for those below him to a fine art.  Next there is El Keeta, he is a Napoleonic complex of a man who wildly uses hand motions to create a bigger presence.  He speaks in short bursts and has tantrums which portrays his total illogic in solving problems. Hard to believe a pirate would be legalistic, but this one is.  He uses fear to intimidate with great facility.  Finally, El Meeta, looks mousy in all his features and has one patch over his right eye. He speaks very softly and is the youngest of the devilish troika.  El Meeta is fastidious about the curling of his pencil thin black mustache.   El Zeeta is his mentor on learning how to steal from others, for that is what pirates are best at.

The three pirates have their very own MAscot, who is a toad.  He fits nicely on the front of their pirate ship called the Santa Maria.  Just think Titanic when you visualize Leo and Kate who were the first to cut into the frigid wind in the iceberg infested waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This toad is like a hood ornament to the pirates’ seamy craft because that is about as much work as he accomplishes.  To be admired yes, to do anything as deceitful as the three, no, I don’t think so.  Toads have long tongues to capture their prey and they sit very, very still, watching, unblinking.  These three pirates are guilty and yet their MAscot, the Spanish toad is NOT innocent by any means.  They don’t need anyone else’s protection at least not on their ship.  From long years of practice they have learned how to build up their own bedeviled security system. In a perfect world a child does not grow up wanting to be a pirate but these looters have come from a long tradition of banditry and piracy.  They actually don’t know there is another world out there that has rules and laws to live by for the good of all society.

The Don’tkateer pirates in our world have a negative attitude about everything except the filthy lucre they extract.  El Zeeta is known for taking bribes from his own countrymen so they can be on his ship but in fact they end up down below as galley slaves if they are not careful.  The other two do nothing more than make life miserable for others who are beneath them.  However, what is little known is that they have plastic swords.  They hardly know riverso, mandritto, squalembrato or trovar di spada from lunge forward and attack. In reality, the three are fearful cowards not used to a days work. Or rather, they create work and make themselves look busy but they don’t know what they are doing.  Even if these antagonists had the real pirate’s rapier, they actually don’t know how to use them properly.  For them “The pen is mightier than the sword” is a kind of mind game.

(to be continued)

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