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"I saved the world from the Nazi scourge, and I only get to be a Captain?"

“I saved the world from the Nazi scourge, and I only get to be a Captain?”

Some of the greatest heroes the world has ever known have had military ranks. Some of them have actually served in the military, notably Captain America, even though he seems to have been handed the rank of Captain straight away, rather than enlisting as Private America and being promoted, whether through merit or on the battlefield. Others, like the often-overlooked Sgt. Rock and the more-heralded Nick Fury, never got a commission, in spite of fighting their way across Nazi-occupied Europe.

Who appointed Captains Britain and Canuck to their ranks? They always seemed to be lone wolves. Maybe they got drummed out of their respective services for insubordination. Captain Marvel served in the Kree Army before saving the universe on more than one occasion, while the other Captain Marvel got all his powers from a magician and would almost certainly go by the name Shazam if saying the word wouldn’t turn him back into Billy Batson, who’s much too young to enlist.

But the real question is, with all of their heroics and freedom-fighting and leadership, why haven’t any of these heroes been promoted to higher ranks? Why no Major Mexico, Lieutenant Colonel Liechtenstein, Brigadier General Bolivia, or General Germany, for example? Dictators like Qaddafi and Noriega, who by all rights should have been defeated and disgraced by justice-seeking heroes, instead outranked all of them (to be fair Noriega appointed himself General, but if Captain America had ever become President, it’s almost certain he would have humbly remained a simple Captain).

Maybe part of being heroic and risking your life to save your country, the universe, or even just a cat caught in a tree is being modest enough to accept your rank in life, even when you’re more of a man than the rest of the Army put together.

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"Not so tough without your arrows, are you big guy?"

“Not so tough without your arrows, are you big guy?”

Green Arrow – duck a lot and wait him out; he only has so many arrows. Then punch him.

Aqua Man – first, kill all of the creatures of the oceans so he has no allies, then kill him.

Wonder Woman – she’s a sucker for masculine wiles, so just make her fall in love with you.

Hawkeye – see Green Arrow

Recently a co-worker of mine quietly said, “Is it bad that I don’t know who Judas is?”

Although I was initially taken aback, I quickly realized that she has no real reason to know the story of Judas: even if Muslims consider Christians and Jews “People of the Book,” they would have little occasion to actually read our holy texts. A lot of Christians, to say nothing of secular Westerners, haven’t read the Bible either. But most of us know the story of Jesus, and by extension Judas, anyway, because it’s become a part of the larger culture.

Relating the story to my colleague, I mentioned Jesus Christ Superstar, which is the source of much of my understanding, and thinking, about Judas–I didn’t have to read the Bible to know the story and, because my knowledge came from an arguably blasphemous source, my take on Judas is tinged with a radical, hippie-flavoured veneer. Whether Judas betrayed Jesus for silver or to fulfil his destiny is one of the great theological debates, and can be had whether you’re a believer or not.

I wonder which universally-relatable stories I’m missing out on because knowledge of the history of Islam and the Qu’ran is as lacking in Western societies as tales of the Last Supper and the 12th disciple are in young Somali-Canadians. Who is Muhammad Ali (not the boxer, but his namesake?), and what could I learn by studying his life?

The story I told her:

Judas and Jesus were best mates at school but Judas was always jealous because Jesus was better at sports and had an easy way with the birds. Still, they went into business together as freelance prophet and disciple. But Judas thought they’d switch off roles as they moved from city to city: being a disciple was hard work while being a prophet was where the real money was. When Jesus started making time with the lass Judas fancied, the disciple had had enough and sold his stake in Salvation, Inc. for 30 silver pieces, intending to set up shop in another town and help the poor there. But when Jesus got nicked by the bill for claiming divinity, Judas was blamed for betraying his old son and, knowing his propheting days were over, packed it in, offing himself in a right nasty way.

Hey, it’s not up to me to spread the so-called truth.

Anonymouse!

As cigar is to cigarette, so etique is to etiquette?

The cock is ticking!

The beautiful will inherit the Earth… according to the wealthy.

B.O. Wolf, heroic (and smelly) figure from Old English literature.

Dorothy Parker was really full of pith and vinegar.

If the porn industry discovered Chekhov: Uncle Vulva, The Cherry Pie Orchard, The C-Gulp, Three Sisters.

After months of writing and editing and rewriting, my first book is finally done, and available to purchase online!

What I (Don't) Know About Every Country in the World

What I (Don’t) Know About Every Country in the World

“There are 193 countries on Earth and Robert James Bell knows something about all of them. This brilliant, maddening, and all-too-often stupid exploration of the world’s nations artfully combines history, geography, sociology, and prevarication to provide insight into our global neighbours that is essential for travelers or anyone who wants to be a better person. Yes, you.”

“This is a very foolish book, apparently written by an idiot.” —Simon Winchester

“I couldn’t decide whether to put it in geography or humour, so in the end I just didn’t order it.” —Chief Buyer, Globo Books

“It brings the entire field of human knowledge into disrepute.” —National Geographic

“When in doubt, assume it’s a dick joke.” –the Author

Lazy, lazy Henry Miller in Paris

Lazy, lazy Henry Miller in Paris

Great writer, Henry Miller, but he just couldn’t commit to projects he had started. For example:

Sexus

Nexus

but no Solar Plexus?

And he must have been too busy having sex with Anaïs Nin (not too mention his own wife) to complete the trilogy of Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, and Tropic of Thunder. Well, I can’t really blame him there.

Fast Food Furious – They’re the best prep team in the restaurant business, and they’re ready to show the world. They’ll battle snooty critics and the Health Department if it means getting your order ready in sixty seconds or less!

A Momentary Lapse of Seasoning – Pink Floyd are the judges in this reality show about opening a progressive restaurant in London. Wish you were here!

The Tristram Shandy – A long-time bartender faces a stern struggle to bring his signature creation, combining beer and mead, to market without losing his soul in the process.

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