Porkins’ Pirate Adventure: Scurvy Seconds

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Welcome back to part two of the worst pair of posts to ever curse this Toilet. If you read the first one, here’s your chance to not make the same mistake twice.

If you’re still here and one of those with so much time on their hands they can waste it away on content like this, we left off at the end of Day Three on Swashbuckle island. Now things get worse.

DAY FOUR: The Dread Crew of Oddwood – Rocktopus (2010)

With the sun setting on calm seas in the west, we arrive at the smallest island yet, a quaint and tidy plot generously stocked with lush foliage and occasional primate calls reverberating from deeper within the jungle. We are greeted at the dock by a neat middle-aged man looking over his pince-nez to review a thick manifest.

“Greetings and salutations, good sirs,” the man says, his voice slightly shrill. “You have reached the finest island in all the land, the home of the Dread Crew of Oddwood. We specialize in only the most authentic sea shanties, the kind true pirates and seaside ocean dwellers would have sung for entertainment and general ribaldry.” He adjusts a red bandanna covering his head, twisting it slightly so the knot is at exactly 45 degrees behind his right ear. He studies me from hair to shoes. He frowns.

“This won’t do. You can’t be in the presence of the Dread Crew with such…anachronisms and fairy-tale nonsense.” A wardrobe changing station appears to my right. I am forced into a merchant screen. Hundreds of gold drains from my coffer as several items materialize in my inventory. “No, that isn’t right,” he scowls. “You need the faded brown leather slip-ons with that jerkin. And please do not change the color palette on the Monmouth cap. The default options are the only colors available to mid-16th century English privateers.” My equipped items are shuffled. The man examines me and is satisfied. “The performance location is now marked on your map. You have fifteen minutes to arrive. Do not be late.” He picks a speck of dust from his off-white work shirt, considering the dirt with disdain and flicking it into the sea.

I walk down the short, demarcated path from the changing station to a small gathering of tables in front of a slightly raised stage, maybe 20 feet across, 25 at most. Several others sit at their tables, watching the stage, enraptured and silent. A waitress quietly tiptoes up to my table and whispers, “Would you care for a drink?” Another merchant screen opens. Strong ale, weak ale, grog. I select strong ale and find an open table to sit.

Raising the glass to my face, something is immediately wrong. The ale smells of a mix of bread, shit, and band-aids. I test it and violently spit it out. “What the fuck is this this?!” The table next to me glares and shushes me. The waitress returns.

“Sir, is something wrong?” she asks.

“This beer tastes like dogshit!”

“Oh, yes. It’s quite terrible,” she says with a bright smile, “but very authentic. Sanitation methods were not very advanced four centuries ago. We adhere to the old ways, as one should. You will get used to it. We all do.” Bewildered, I trash the ale. Even the ground doesn’t deserve to taste this.

Seven men file on to the stage and take up their instruments. Ukulele. Mandolin. Accordion (of course). What is that? A toy piano? Some other stuff I don’t recognize. Drums. Acoustic guitar. I notice there aren’t any monitors on the stage.

“Good day, ladies and gentlemen,” says one of the men. “We are the Dread Crew of Oddwood.” Several of the tables break out in clapping, soft and respectful. “Would you like to hear some heavy mahogany music today?” Heavy mahogany? What? The crowd nods vigorously.

They start playing. Man, there is a lot of accordion. They sure love that mandolin, too. Are these vocals a joke? This high-pitched falsetto crap has to go. Hopefully, it’s just an intro.

Nope, every song is like this. Excruciating. Who is this for? I scan the other tables. Apparently, it’s for them because each of their faces is ensorcelled by this goofy-ass shit. Feet tap, heads bob, always gently, always reverential.

“Land Iio” (yes, it’s spelled that way) is the next song. The crowd starts giggling. [Ed. Note: the lyrics are here to avoid publishing.] Is this real? What the fuck? “Hey, guys. That’s kinda racist and homophobic.”

The band stops. Everyone glowers. “Sir,” the accordion player snivels, “you can’t judge the past based on present day norms. A typical mid-16th century privateer would have been extremely racist and certainly would not have tolerated homosexuality. We are simply being faithful to the source material.”

“Ok…but you are writing songs right now, in the present. This isn’t the 16th century. You aren’t a real fucking pirate. Besides, the United Arab Emirates didn’t even exist then.”

The accordionist frowns deeply, looks behind me and gives a quick flick of his chin. Two giant men appear from behind and grab my arms. “This is why PC cancel culture is ruining music. It should just be about the mandolin riffs.”

The burly men fast-travel us to the dock and roughly push me to the wooden planks. They vanish. The Owlkind cranes his neck over the side of the boat. “Ye back soon,” he cries and issues a deep clucking sound from his throat. Was that a laugh? “Aye. Insufferable gowpenful-o’-anything, they be. Onward then. There be three more isles fer ye.” He disappears on the deck.

I shudder. How can I do three more days of this?

Cut scene.

[LOADING…]

DAY FIVE: Lagerstein – Drink ‘til We Die (2012)

[Journal Entry: Day 28, 7th Harvest of King Krayde’n’s Reign

Eight days have passed since I returned from the Pirate Metal Archipelago. While on my journey, I visited one island for which I did not contemporaneously describe my experience. It was the Isle of Lagerstein, a place so non-descript that its greatest achievement was embodying the Platonic Form of a band playing pirate metal out of sheer desperation. The pirate-centered folk metal portions of the show were segregated neatly from the music they seemed to relish playing: limp, keyboard-accented, vaguely thrashy heavy metal with quavering alt-metal vocals. NPCs made up the entire crowd and seemed poorly scripted, many of them not facing the stage and cheering at walls or, seemingly, each other.

My time began and ended in a vanilla haze. I hesitated to write anything at all but I am nothing if not a completionist. Even the insistently unremarkable must be recorded for posterity.]

[LOADING..]

DAY SIX: Blazon Stone – War of the Roses (2016)

The Owlkind stands at the bow of the frigate, absorbed in gazing through the dense fog of mediocrity that has engulfed the ship since leaving the Isle of Lagerstein. His head rotates 180 degrees to face me while his body remains forward. I’ll never get used to that.

“We be gettin’ close,” he clucks. “Drop the sails!” Unseen hands loosen rope knots and the frigate smoothly glides into port. The misty haze has lifted, revealing a filthy beach littered with trash heaps and scattered empty beer containers.

“We’ve already been here, haven’t we?” I inquire. “This is Running Wild’s island.”

“Nay. This be Blazon Stone.”

Blazon Stone. Where do I know that name? Of course. It’s a Running Wild album title. “So this is an island just about one Running Wild record? I don’t understand.”

“Nay, ye fool. Blazon Stone be the band,” his eyes narrow, studying me with pity. He pats my head as if a small child. “Y’ll see if ye give it a gander. Now, off me ship.” He gives me a strong push over the side.

I tumble off the ship and into the waiting arms of a young man, maybe late-20s or early 30s. His flaxen hair tumbles down straight and shining down his shoulders and drapes gently against his brand new battle jacket, distressed to look much older, as are his slightly ripped jeans and white high tops. The patches are flawlessly ironed or sewn on, 90 percent of which are variations on Running Wild. One says Iron Maiden, another Blind Guardian, and the last is Blazon Stone.

He lowers me down to stand. “Ahoy there!” he welcomes. “You want a beer, man? We got uh…shit…where d’it go?” He rummages around in a nearby sack and looks back up. “Well, we’re out I guess. You want any crystal, then?”

“Um…no?” I respond, eyeing him sideways.

He shrugs. “That’s cool…you’re not a fucking cop, right?”

“Nah, man. I’m just here for metal. Heard there was a band here called Blazon Stone. They play here?”

“Shiiiiiit. Errrr goddamn day!” he exclaims. “They’re gonna start in about 20 if you wanna come.” I nod and we get going.

We arrive at a stage set around a towering obelisk, on the top of which stands a stone man with fluffy, shoulder-length hair and he’s holding a Gibson Explorer. The young man stops and lowers his head while raising the horns. “Praise Rolf for from Him all things are and will be,” he mutters before continuing on to the stage area.

The lights cut out and a single spotlight illuminates the center of the stage. A round-faced man with the Chino Moreno haircut-goatee combo is bathed in white light. He turns to face the obelisk. “Praise Rolf!” he roars.

The densely-packed audience members raise their hands with the horns in unison and call in response “FOR FROM HIM ALL THINGS ARE AND WILL BE!” Flame pylons explode upward on either side of the stage as a quick cymbal swell and drum fill announces the beginning of “Born to Be Wild” (no, not that one) followed by hard-charging speed metal tremolos filtered through a power metal lens. The Chino Moreno look-a-like belts out some powerful cleans not too far from Klaus Meine of Scorpions. Add in some gang choruses, some quality dynamics, and a heavy dose of passion, you’ve got Blazon Stone.

After a few more tracks, I realize that I’m singing along with these choruses and bobbing my head to the galloping rhythms and melodic solos. They keep the cheesy pirate-folk passages to a tasteful level; more of an appetizer than a main course. As beholden to Running Wild as they are, they manage to elevate the style with more speed and flourish. I might even say they do it a bit better, especially in relation to more recent Running Wild material.

The show closes out on a high note with the epic, folk-accented title track “War of the Roses.” These guys seem to have done legit research on the War of the Roses (historical) before writing “War of the Roses” (song) on War of the Roses (album). It’s meticulous, nerdy, and pleasurable at the same time.

Blazon Stone exits the stage under an endless barrage of Praise Rolfs, which they richly deserve. Praise Rolf, indeed. I wouldn’t mind staying for another show but I have one more stop to go before finishing this quest.

I find my guide sitting hunched over at a table on the side of the room. The table is littered with pieces of paper with the Running Wild logo scrawled all over. On closer inspection, one of them is a large Running Wild logo composed of tiny, intricate Running Wild logos.

I poke him gently on the shoulder. “Hey, man. Show’s over. Time to go.” He looks up with a start, his pupils wide and darting.

“Hey. Hey. Hey-hey-hey-hey, dude. How-was-the-show-did-you-like-it-Praise-Rolf-I’ve-been-here-just-here-doin’-some-art-just-a-little-art-for-them-you-know-these-guys-here-they-like-it-I-think-theyputitupsometimesintheroomsit’scoolit’scoolcoolguysIlikeitherealotwhereareyoufromIbetit’ssomeplacecooltooyoulikeRunningWild? Ilike’emalotthey’remyfavoriteband…” He trails off, shakes his head quickly, and intensely scratches his face. He starts to bleed. “damnbugsfuckingbugseverywhereIgottagetbacktothisseeyait’simportantit’sforthebandandforRolfPraiseRolf.” He returns to detailing a “W” made from thousands of small sabers.

Alright, then. I’ll be going myself, I suppose. I fast travel back to the frigate where the Owlkind stands ready. “Let’s go. One more day. Just one more day,” I say.

He chitters. “Aye. And a day it shall be.” Did he just smirk? How does an owl smirk?

“What do you mean by that?” I ask, suspicious.

A cut scene ensues.

[LOADING.]

DAY SEVEN: Rumahoy – The Triumph of Piracy (2018)

The sun sets in the distant west, spreading a triumphant palette of deep oranges and reds across the horizon and dancing glints across the small peaks of the calm sea. It must be congratulating me, the protagonist of reality, on finishing this week. I smile and let the cool ocean breeze caress my face, delicate gusts of applause for my great accomplishment.

As we sail closer to the final island, the scene changes drastically. The resolution of my surroundings plummets to levels not seen since the Nintendo 64. Looking down, I gasp in horror as my hands have transformed into blocky polygons crudely smeared with images to resemble texture. I can no longer engage with the majority of my environment. The farthest parts of the island are unloaded black triangles.

I am slowly spun around to face the Owlkind. His head is now enormously out of proportion to his body and he communicates only through text windows. “‘Tis t’ final day,” appears in scripted print. “Fear ye not. Ye turn back when’e leave t’ place. Fare ye well.”

A quick fade out and in. I am standing on the deck below. Three NPCs dressed in what look to be black pirate hats, vests, and chunky brown pants pace back and forth in the near distance. Their leg animations move too quickly for their horizontal progress, like they are running on a slow moving treadmill.

I interact with one of them. “YEEEARRGH!” blinks below him. That’s not very helpful. I go to the next one: “Avast, ye scurvy dog!” Ok. The final pirate dances an awkward jig: “Rumahoy, landlubber! Swab the deck! Walk the plank!” As the text bubble fades, he continues down his encoded path, probably walking the same line he’s walked a million times without leaving a mark through the pixels.

A fourth pirate, identical to the others, emerges through layers of green polygons I can only assume are bushes. The other three pirates coalesce around him. They are suddenly wearing ski masks and holding instruments: bass, drums, guitar, microphone. At least there’s no accordion. Small blessings.

[Journal Entry: Day 20, 9th Harvest of King Krayde’n’s Reign

Today is the second anniversary of the day I completed my week in the Pirate Metal Archipelago. I’ve pushed off completing this final concert because what follows is difficult for me to relive, honestly. The sounds I heard were so irritating, so aggressively lazy, I can recall them only in anguished fragments. Imagine a lobotomized Alestorm forced to perform a drooling stand-up act with instruments and you would be halfway to understanding the weapons-grade idiocy boiled down and concentrated into 40 of the longest minutes I have ever experienced.

The cast of characters are made known through the first track, “AHOY!” There is Bootsman Walktheplank, Cabin Boy Treasurequest, Swashbuckling Pete, and the oh-so-whimsically named Captain Yarrface (things with a –face suffix are funny, you see). This rambunctious rascal assembly do the following pirate things: drink, sail, plunder, fuck, and enslave Haitians (one of the things that drew them to piracy, apparently, according to the flaming dumpster entitled “Haitian Slam”). Repeat these themes over nine tracks accompanied by basic shanty folk melodies driven primarily through insipid keyboard work (no keyboardist is credited on the album) and what results is a dumbed-down, PG-13 Saturday-morning cartoon-version of pirate metal, a subgenre that is already by default so inherently stupid it is incapable of tying its own shoes.

But the coup de grâce of this bottomless black hole of talentless hackery is “Pirateship,” a near-four minute techno-pirate track sung in German with English interspersed (Germanglish?) in what must have been something generated through Google translator. It is a fatal car crash of the most saccharine, candy-flipping, upbeat techno with beginner-level riffs and inane vocals designed for the sole insidious purpose of boring into your head like a 1-877-KARS4KIDS commercial (those unfamiliar with this, be grateful and don’t look it up). I would rather inject napalm into my ears and light it with gunfire than hear a second of it again.

And that, my dear reader, is Rumahoy. They haunt my dreams to this day.]

Cut scene.

[LOADING]

EPILOGUE

Sailing back from the Pirate Metal Archipelago, I sit, staring blankly out at the quickly approaching port. The sense of relief and accomplishment once felt on my final day is gone. The crushing wretchedness of Rumahoy has taken a vampiric hold of my soul and drained it of life. Though I am free of the polygonal abyss of that island, the world seems lifeless and gray. I fear I may never recover.

The Owlkind must feel my diseased condition. He approaches slowly and puts a feathered hand on my hunched shoulder. “Hey. Are you ok? I know that last island is a rough one. Some never make it out alive.”

I look up at him, confused. “Where is your accent? Why aren’t you talking like a pirate?”

“Oh, that? That’s just part of the bit. Helps me get the rubes—no offense—on my boat for the quest. I gotta make a living out here.”

I smile. “I get it. We can’t keep a bit up forever. Like remember when you were making REEEE noises and barfing all the time in the first post? That got played out pretty quick, huh?”

“Yeah. Thanks for cutting that out. Like, I know all of this is more or less an effort to deal with a terrible situation but that part was pretty dumb. And now you’re using expository dialogue so maybe it’s time to wrap this up before it gets any more off the rails. ”

We dock. “Yeah, you’re right. You’re right. Thanks for taking me out on your boat. Some of those islands really sucked but it wasn’t all bad. Blazon Stone was good. Swashbuckle was mostly fun and you can’t beat Running Wild. Anyway, I gotta go find that guy and get the reward. Maybe I’ll see you around?”

“Probably not. I don’t like to mix my business and personal. No offense, again.” He disappears onto the deck and his ship begins its departure.

Ok. Walking towards the quest marker, the short pirate goblin is still crouched down tying a knot onto the same non-existent part of the dock. I engage dialogue and inform him that the quest is complete.

“Yargh! Thank’ee fer visitin’ t’ Pirate Metal Archipelago!” he exclaims, the “Quest Complete” script appearing above him.

“Wait. What about my reward? I just spent a week of my life listening to this shit! What the FUCK, man!” I scream into his face, spittle landing in torrents on his cheeks and forehead.

The corners of his mouth curl up and settle, contented. “Fuck you,” he replies with great cheer. His body freezes in a two-frame seizure. He rotates around three times on his axis and clips into the sea below.

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