X is for ‘X marks the spot’

a to z - penelope cruz pirates of the caribbean johnny depp geoffrey rush captain jack sparrow ian mcshane

Arrrrrghhhh! It’s a pirate post fer shur, there mateys, after yer diamonds and doubloons and treasures of all sorts, arrrrrghhhh!

a to z - Robert louis stevensona to z - Treasure_Island-Scribner's-1911a to z - treasure-island-map

What can I say, I was really stuck for an ‘x’. When ‘X marks the spot’ was suggested to me I started thinking (which for me can be a really dangerous thing for a plethora of reasons) ‘where did the phrase come from and when was the first time it was used?’ In general, it would seem that the use of x to mark a spot on a map would have been in use since time immemorial, as a body doesn’t need to be able to read or write. It was, of course Robert Louis Stevenson in Treasure Island who made it popular. Treasure Island had a tremendous influence on our popular concept of pirates. His narrative turned them from the truly despicable creatures they were (modern pirates are not so entertaining when they attack merchant vessels nowadays) into quaint cartoon characters, using such elements as one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders, tropical islands laden with gold and treasure maps marked with ‘x’. These images have been copied and played with over the years in entertainment to great effect, anything from swashbuckling Errol Flynn to Peter Sellers with his inflatable parrot (‘Thar she bloowwws!’) to Johnny Depp’s Captain Sparrow (‘They’re more like guidelines, really’), not to mention the plethora of movies made of Treasure Island. There have been no fewer than eighteen films made of it since 1918 and countless TV adaptations and parodies including Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam’s (check out ‘Buccaneer Bunny’ on Youtube).

No discussion of the warm and fuzzy version of pirates would be complete, of course, without mentioning ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’, which is September 19th. It all started when two friends were playing racquetball and started talking to each other that way. ‘That be a fine cannonade’ or ‘Now watch as I fire a broadside…’, this according to their website. I’ll let you read it from their own lips, as it were here: http://talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html.

Stolen shamelessly from their website (it’s a pirate thing, after all) are the top ten pirate pick-up lines to be used only on TLAPD:

10 . Avast, me proud beauty! Wanna know why my Roger is so Jolly?

9. Have ya ever met a man with a real yardarm?

8. Come on up and see me urchins.

7. Yes, that is a hornpipe in my pocket and I am happy to see you.

6. I’d love to drop anchor in your lagoon.

5. Pardon me, but would ya mind if I fired me cannon through your porthole?

4. How’d you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

3. Ya know, darlin’, I’m 97 percent chum free.

2. Well blow me down?

And the number one pickup line for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day is …

  1. Prepare to be boarded.

Now those pickup lines were for guys. Some of the best pirates there every be were ladies, so the top ten pickup lines for ladies be:

10. What are YOU doing here?

9. Is that a belayin’ pin in yer britches, or are ye … (this one is never completed)

8. Come show me how ye bury yer treasure, lad!

7. So, tell me, why do they call ye, “Cap’n Feathersword?”

6. That’s quite a cutlass ye got thar, what ye need is a good scabbard!

5. Aye, I guarantee ye, I’ve had a twenty percent decrease in me “lice ratio!”

4. I’ve crushed seventeen men’s skulls between me thighs!

3. C’mon, lad, shiver me timbers!


…and the number one Female Pirate Pick-up Line:

  1. You. Pants Off. Now!


And just for a little more fun:

What’s a pirate’s favorite socks? Arrrrgyle.

What’s a pirate’s favorite pet? An arrrrrdvarrrrrk.

What does a pirate think happens at the end of time? Arrrrmageddon.

What’s a pirate’s favorite food? Arrrrrtichokes.

What’s a pirate’s philosophy? I think therefore I arrrrrrrr.

Why does a pirate fear getting older? He could have arrrrthritus.

What’s a pirate’s favorite state? Arrrrkansas

It occurrrrrs to be I’m now being entirrrrrrely too silly now that I’ve got me belaying pin between my teeth, so I’ll just wish you all a good day and walk the plank.



3 thoughts on “X is for ‘X marks the spot’

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