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Shiver me timbers! 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' sails forth

Pair's wacky idea becomes a global treasure

Avast, matey! John Baur, left, and Mark Summers talk like pirates<BR>   during an interview with a Denver radio station in Albany, Ore.<BR>
Avast, matey! John Baur, left, and Mark Summers talk like pirates
during an interview with a Denver radio station in Albany, Ore.
Mark Ylen, Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — A-r-r-r-r, piracy be hard work, matey, harder if you are the founders of "Talk Like a Pirate Day," which buccaneer wannabes celebrated a-r-r-r-ound the nation for the second year.

In Portland a man walked into an espresso bar. "Do you want a small, medium or la-a-a-a-rge?" asked the barista.

In schools, on the street and around the world on Friday, the buccaneer badinage was in vogue again, thanks to two Albany men who got the idea for "Talk Like A Pirate Day" while playing racquetball last year.

"One of us reached for a shot he shouldn't have and said, 'A-r-r-r-r-,' and we started talking like pirates, as guys will do," said John Baur, who in real life is an education writer with an outreach project for marine environments at Oregon State University.

Baur spoke by telephone from the home of cohort Mark Summers, a behavior management consultant for an education district.

They got the idea of "Talk Like a Pirate Day" last year, pitched it to humor columnist Dave Barry in Miami and it mush-r-r-roomed.

So far this month their Web site has had 5 million hits, Baur said.

Dozens of teachers called the pair over the past week to say they were using the day to teach pupils the difference between port and starboard, or fore and aft. One had students make spyglasses.

A teacher in the Ivory Coast e-mailed to say that the government had declared a holiday to mark some recent political development, but that the school decided to celebrate "Talk Like a Pirate Day" instead.

The pair has been interviewed by broadcasters and newspapers from around the world — and of course, they had to talk like pirates.

"It's been a marathon," Baur said. "Geneva, Switzerland, called, and then we went to the BBC, got a couple hours of sleep, then Fargo, N.D., called at 4 a.m."

Summers says putting on a pirate's growl for a week is tough on the vocal cords.

"It's not that you get tired of it, but physically, you just can't do it all day long. But when you get called by a morning radio station, the energy is infectious, and it's hard to stop," Summers said.

Their Web site — www.talklikeapirate.com — gives instruction in how to talk like a pirate. For those who have the basics already, the site also has "advanced pirate lingo."

Others have also gotten into the act on the Internet, where you can find Web sites selling "Talk Like a Pirate" T-shirts and hats, "Saucy Wench" camisoles and "Shiver Me Timbers" sweat shirts.

Summers and Baur have an agent shopping three books around New York, including one on "Talk Like A Pirate Day" and the story behind it.

The second one Baur described as "The Pirate Guys' Guide to Running for President."

"That's our look at American politics. The third one is the 'Pirate Guys' Guide to Fixing Everything That's Wrong with You.' It's a self-help book," Baur said.

Summers picked Sept. 19 because it was the birthday of his ex-wife, Rhonda. She called Baur and asked him to relay a message to Summers.

"I've never been more proud to be his ex-wife," she told Baur.

Baur said he and Summers will keep it up as long as it's fun and the world continues to play along.