Alexa and the Pirates

30 Aug

This a fun piece I wrote for the monthly magazine published by residents at Montgomery Place, where Ai live.

Alexa and the Pirates

What creature goes “99 clump, 99 clump, 99 clump”? Answer, “a centipede with a peg leg.” But what comes to mind when you hear “peg leg”? A pirate, of course! Because pirates have peg legs, right?

The other night, I talked to Alexa, the artificial intelligence unit who lives in my smart TV. She gave me half a dozen tips on how to talk like a pirate. I had no idea that Alexa knows more about pirates than I do!  I was also a little disappointed, because I think Alexa could devote herself to more useful and uplifting pursuits. But Alexa always tries to please, and when I asked the question, she worked very hard to please me.

How much do you know about pirates? You better get ready for pirates, because September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Where did such a strange day come from? If you Google it, You will discover that in 1995 two young men who had too much time on their hands and too little ambition to do bigger things, are responsible. You’ll also discover that the greatest pirate of all time was a Chinese woman Ching Shih. At the beginning of the 19th century she commanded a fleet of thousands of ships, marauding the South China Sea.

Alexa told me that pirate-talk includes sprinkling your conversation with the exclamation, “aaar.” “Shiver me timber’s” is always good and addressing  friends as “matey”; call people you don’t like “scurvy dogs.” When you greet someone, say “Ahoy!” and when you’re surprised or caught off-guard, yell, “Avast!”

What’s the point? Well, back in the 1990s, some young men liked to strike a macho pose. Macho was good (maybe it still is?). When you have a peg leg, macho comes easy—you just “clump” in a swaggering way. Nothing impresses a girl like a clumping peg leg. And then swig from a bottle of rum with a parrot on your shoulder. What could be more macho!

The possibilities are enormous. But what I want to know is how Alexa came to know all this—and why? I would prefer that she stay clear of macho young men pirates.

Perhaps, like me, she enjoys screwball comedies—you know like Lucille Ball or Cary Grant. Talking like a pirate is like putting yourself in a screwball comedy and I can think of no other reason I would write a wacky article like this one.

Some evenings, after a long day, participating in a screwball comedy would be fun. Maybe Alexa feels the same way.

I think I’ll ask her.

(c) Phil Hefner 8/30/2021

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