Author Archive | Roderick



so about the idol

we’d been slogging through that jungle for weeks
gasping through air that was like hot sludge
with birds and bugs and monkeys heckling us
you know they never let up
no matter how many we shot

and then finally
there by the river’s edge was the goddamn temple
yeah ooh dark and mysterious
but pictures don’t convey the smell
like something died and burst open
these days they’d want to make it a world heritage site
but good luck dealing with the smell
your tourist bus wouldn’t get within half a mile

but you wanted to know about the idol

so yes okay I destroyed the whole temple to get the idol
just like the movie tells it
we’d never be allowed to do it nowadays
so-called archeologists bowing to a bunch of rules
best practices written up by pencil necks in offices
jesus fuck we’re archeologists
we’re pirates sailing the seas of history
we don’t follow rules or best fucking practices
archeology is dead these days
let me have another drink will you

but anyway I never got the idol
the movie got that wrong
it went down with the collapsing temple
and I crawled out half alive
and slogged my way empty-handed back through the jungle
till I got to some town in the ass end of nowhere
where I could stagger into a cheap whorehouse
for a week long drunk
or maybe it was a month
how the hell should I remember
when the days all run together
when there’s strong liquor
speaking of which I could sure use another
yeah that hits the spot

the rival archeologist?
poor bastard, I picked his name at random
out of a back issue of the AJA
someone to blame for the missing idol
I even tied him to the Krauts
amazing the shit people will believe
when war makes them paranoid crazy

but I guess you people are having your doubts now
well maybe you’re right
maybe I stumbled into that whorehouse with the idol in my pack
and it was stolen while I lay there like a dead man
or maybe I sold it for more booze
that thing would have paid for a lifelong drunk
which some would say is what I’m on

or maybe I kept it
in a secret place
that I visit whenever I can get away
to dream about being a pirate on the seas of history
a shining golden center to my otherwise shitty life

or maybe I’m just shitting you
to keep the drinks coming

Laugh About It, Shout About It When You’ve Got to Choose

I’m going to be one of the moderators for the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidates’ debate on Friday, February 28th, in conjunction with the Alabama state LP’s 2020 convention in Birmingham AL; details here and here.

I’ll also be tabling there for Molinari/C4SS on Saturday, February 29th.

More info to follow!

The Elusive Chameleon

To C. Chameleon, who left me a message today through this blog’s contact form: you didn’t include an email address so I don’t know how to contact you. Please drop me a note either by email or in the talkback form below. Thanks!

The Lash and the Loophole

The poet ibn Harma performed for the Prince of the Muslims and so delighted was the Caliph with his performance that he said “name your reward.”

The poet replied, “the reward I wish from the Prince of the Muslims is that he should send instructions to his officials in the city of Medina, commanding that when I am found dead drunk upon the pavement and brought in by the city guard, I be let off from the punishment prescribed for that offense.”

“That is God’s law, not mine; I cannot change it. Name another reward.”

“There is nothing else I desire from the Prince of the Muslims.”

Al-Mansur thought a little, then sent instructions to his officials in Medina commanding that if anyone found the poet ibn Harma dead drunk upon the pavement and brought him in for punishment, ibn Harma should receive eighty strokes of the lash as the law commands. But whoever brought him in should receive a hundred.

And ever after, when someone saw the poet lying dead drunk upon the pavement, he would turn to his companion and say “a hundred for eighty is a bad bargain” and pass on.

— David Friedman, Legal Systems Very Different from Ours

Is He Strong? Listen, Bud

In the Silver Age, radiation was a common way for superheroes to get their powers, particularly in the case of such early Marvel creations as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, and (in some accounts) the X-Men. It makes sense: atomic power, both as a fearsome weapon and as a potential energy source, was on the public mind.

But in the Golden Age, magic-based and supernatural-based characters were much more common. Not that they were absent from the Silver Age (Thor, Dr. Strange, the Phantom Stranger, Deadman, Zatanna, etc.). But look at this list of Golden Age characters with magical and/or supernatural origins: Blazing Skull, Blue Tracer, Captain Marvel (and family), Dr. Fate,* Dr. Occult, the Fiery Mask, the Flame, the (sometimes Green) Ghost, the Green Lama, the Green Lantern (original version), Hawkman and Hawkgirl (original versions), Ibis the Invincible, Johnny Quick,** Johnny Thunder, Kid Eternity, Mandrake the Magician, Merlin the Magician, Miss America, Mr. Mystic, Neon the Unknown, Samson, Sargon the Sorceror, the Shining Knight, the Spectre, Taia, Uncle Sam, Wonder Woman, and Zatara.

Origins in the “East” were quite common for the powers of such magic-based characters, particularly Egypt (Ibis, Captain Marvel, Hawkman and Hawkgirl) or Tibet (the Green Lama, the Flame, Mr. Mystic), though also, e.g., China (Green Lantern) and Mesopotamia (Dr. Fate, Sargon) – perhaps inspired by their radio/pulp ancestor the Shadow’s having gained in an undefined “Orient” the power to cloud men’s minds.

In the Silver Age, a number of magic-based characters were reimagined with sciencey (though not necessarily radiation-based) origins, e.g., Green Lantern and the Hawkfolk. (An exception is the original Blue Beetle, who went the other way: his 1939 science-based origin was retconned in 1964 into a magic-based origin, complete with an Egyptian connection.)

But subsequent to the Silver Age, perhaps as a result of the weakening of the Comics Code’s ban on horror tropes, magic-based characters seem to have enjoyed a resurgence (e.g., off the top of my head, Black Alice, Blade, Blue Devil, Deadman, Demon, Ghost Rider, Iron Fist, Lucifer, Madame Xanadu, Man-Wolf, Ragman, and Raven).

And in recent years, although science-based origins remain common, many superheroes whose origins were originally science-based have been reimagined (e.g., Sandman) or retconned (e.g., Swamp Thing, by Alan Moore; Spider-Man, by Joe Straczynski) as magic-based. (Though Blue Beetle has gone the other way again, his magical scarab being re-retconned as alien tech.)

* Although Dr. Fate’s origin originally had science-fiction aspects of a proto-von-Däniken type which gradually shifted toward being reconceived as pure magic:

** Johnny Quick gains his powers by reciting a mathematical formula, eventually revealed to be derived from an inscription on the wall of a Pharaoh’s tomb. Despite the sciencey trappings, I’m counting that as magic.

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