Going All-in with WOOTW #14

No fancy preamble today folks, straight to it. Now that workout is done, I’m off to the big going out of business sale at Dave’s Comics. Dave passed away and his widow needs funds for medical bills.

I made a comic once. That’s a picture of it above. You can buy it here.

Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #14 

  • 100 Static Slow Kicks — do ’em real slow, like a ballet dancer, with one hand on a sturdy object.
  • Wrestling Conditioner #3:Place heavy bag on floor, put on gloves, and set timer for 10 minutes. Get on floor beside bag and shrimp away from bag 5 times. Shrimp back. Get up and punch the air 5 times. Splay with forearms to the bag, pop up, and repeat four more times. After 5th splay, mount the bag and strike 10 times as hard as you can. That’s one set. Do as many sets as you can before the timer beeps.
  • Cover 2 miles as fast as you can — walk, jog, run or sprint, whatever you can manage with your fitness level.

Day 2: Make America Work Again — The Tusk

“The theme today was Make America Work Again, so maybe everyone was at work.”


Loved this article.  Go read it here: Day 2: Make America Work Again — The Tusk

Big Announcement and WOOTW #13

Cabal Fang is now a proud sponsor of the Hermetic Library!  See there below?  That’s us, right there in the middle!


The Hermetic Library is an amazing resource for anyone interested in Hermeticism, the Western Mystery Tradition, or the Perennial Wisdom.  Check them out for hours and hours of reading, browsing and listening pleasure (they have a magical music project as well).

Don’t know what Hermeticism is?  Read this.

And now for Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #13.

20 minute Kickboxing Footwork Conditioner: Set timer for 1:00 intervals. Alternate heavy bag rounds and animal calisthenics rounds.  When striking bag, practice covering foot movements with strikes. Example: Throw Left Jab then Right Cross. As you throw the RC — same time! – slip and stutter step left foot outside and throw a perfectly spaced Right Roundhouse. Calisthenics as follows: Shrimp, Gorilla Walk, Mule Kick, Crab Walk, Scorpion.

You’re a Hermeticist? What’s that?

Emerald Hourglass2Yes, I’m a Hermeticist.

What’s a Hermeticist?  Well, I suppose the technical definition would be “someone who studies or practices Hermeticism, which is a philosophy based on the teachings of the mythical figure Hermes Trismegistus.”

But that’s like saying a physicist is a somebody who practices or studies Physics.  Doesn’t help much, does it?

My definition of a Hermeticist is someone who believes that there are certain universal, timeless truths (“the Perennial Wisdom”) which have always been, and will always be, accessible anyone through the powers of symbol, parable, analogy, myth and initiation.

Sometimes called “Western Zen” Hermeticism values experiential truth over written truth, direct experience over second-hand knowledge, and sacred experience over dogmatic belief.  The world’s most famous Hermeticists are probably Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. John Dee.

Its most prized axioms are the Hermetic Quaternary (“To Know, to Will, to Dare; to Keep Silent”) and the famous “As Above, so Below” which comes from its most enduring written text, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.

The Emerald Table of Hermes Trismegistus

  1. True it is, without falsehood, certain and most true.
  2. That which is above is like to that which is below, and that which is below is like to that which is above, to accomplish the miracles of one thing.
  3. And as all things were by contemplation of one, so all things arose from this one thing by a single act of adaptation.
  4. The father thereof is the sun, the mother the moon; the wind carried it in its womb; the earth is the nurse thereof.
  5. It is the father of all works of wonder throughout the whole world.
  6. The power thereof is perfect.
  7. If it be cast on to earth it will separate the element of earth from that of fire, the subtle from the gross.
  8. With great sagacity it doth ascend gently from earth to heaven; again it doth descend to earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior.
  9. Thus thou wilt possess the glory of the brightness of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly far from thee.
  10. This thing is the strong fortitude of all strength, for it overcometh every subtle thing and doth penetrate every solid substance.
  11. Thus was this world created.
  12. Hence there will be marvelous adaptations achieved, of which the manner is this.
  13. For this reason I am called Hermes Trismegistus, because I hold three parts of the wisdom of the world.
  14. That which I had to say about the operation of sol is completed.


The Legend of Tarzan Falls Flat

Two years ago, when I discovered that a new Tarzan movie was in development, I promised not to get my hopes up.  Well, I got my hopes up.  Shouldn’t have done that.  Wednesday night I went to see The Legend of Tarzan and my hopes for a faithfully adapted Tarzan film were dashed.

Fair warning:  There are spoilers coming.  And furthermore, I am about to get critical beyond your wildest dreams.  Intensely, heavily, metaphysically critical. I’m no Tarzan expert, but I’m close.  I’ve read the first eleven Tarzan books, I was a UVA English major, and I’m about to go far deeper in my exploration of the character than the writing and directing team of this movie bothered to go.

First, the good and the goodish.  Margot Robbie’s take on Jane was perfect, and that’s the only unqualified praise I have for the film.  There is only one scene in the film that is really good, and it is near the end of the film when Tarzan confesses his guilt at having killed Mbonga’s son.  This experience mirrors the character development of Tarzan when he first encounters humankind.  But it’s still dumb, because in the movie timeline, that was twenty years previous.  Tarzan should’ve had his “Aha!” moment years ago.

Next the overtly negative. Skarsgård put in a workmanlike performance, but never seemed to fully understand or embrace the role.  Christoph Walz’s character is a caricature.  I used to like him as an actor, but it’s clear he’s quickly developing a certain shtick.  Africa and its jungles are actually characters in the Tarzan books.  How can you decide not to film in Africa?  But that’s what they did, shooting the movie on a UK sound stage using liberal CGI, and it shows.  This should’ve been a breathtaking film, not a flat, 2D video game.  The scene in which Kala rescues baby Tarzan looked horrid.  Last I checked, there are still living babies on this planet, and plenty of costumers capable of making ape hands too.   Annoying.

Now for the more subtly awful.  Look, Tarzan is a wonder in the world of fiction.  Although the story may need updating for modern sensibilities, the characters and themes need no modification.  In other words, change all the plot details you want, but leave the essentials in place or else you miss the point.  I just want to scream at movie writers and directors, “You cannot make iconic characters better.  If you think you can, you’re an idiot.  Save yourself the embarrassment and stop trying!”

The message of Tarzan is that it doesn’t matter where you’re born.  If you’re a noble, hardworking and intelligent person you’ll go far in life.  Burroughs’ tales depict the inherent nobility of man, not his latent savagery.

The essential quality of Tarzan is his agility, both physically and mentally.  The Tarzan in this movie is incapable of coming up with a plan.  He staggers forward, relying on luck and the kindness of friends and animals to pull him out of tight spots.  Burroughs made it abundantly clear in the novels that anyone raised by apes, if they survived, would have been an incredible physical specimen.  What makes Tarzan special is his mind:

“But there was that which had raised him far above his fellows of the jungle–that little spark which spells the whole vast difference between man and brute–Reason. This it was which saved him from death beneath the iron muscles and tearing fangs of Terkoz.”

What makes Tarzan unique is that he is the utterly reconciled mixture of Man and Beast.  The tension between man and ape in Burroughs’ Tarzan is brief, and it lasts only for a short time after being exposed to humans for the first time.  Tarzan rejects what is bad about civilization — the hypocrisy, the fakery, the politics, the “veneer” as Burroughs calls it — and embraces what is positive.  He is no primitive paragon, no bizarre Dr. Doolittle.  He rides horses and enjoys the occasional drink  or cigar.  And yet, this writer/director team once again decides that there has to be internal conflict.  He mopes around in his London home thinking about the jungle, and when he gets to the jungle he seems reluctant to shed his proper clothes.  Poppycock.

Burroughs’ Tarzan speaks over a dozen languages, and yet he as capable of shedding his civilized veneer as he is of shedding his clothes.†  This film, like all previous attempts, doesn’t come close to getting across Tarzan’s ferocity, scarred appearance, and terrifying aspect.  No Tarzan movie has ever depicted the hideous scar on his forehead, the scar that, when he became infuriated, glowed red and pulsed like a demon.  Here’s how he got it:

Terkoz had a dozen knife wounds on head and breast, and Tarzan was torn and bleeding–his scalp in one place half torn from his head so that a great piece hung down over one eye, obstructing his vision.”

(From Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 12 )

The bottom line is that apes could’ve done better jobs than director David Yates and writers Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer.  

This movie is awful.  But the good news is that many of the Tarzan books are in the public domain and available as free eBooks.  So do what the producers of this movie clearly failed to do — dig out your iPads, Nooks and Kindles and get to reading.  You’ll be glad you did.


†The Paris fight from The Return of Tarzan is a perfect example of this, and one of my favorite scenes in the entire Tarzan canon.  Ten hardened Parisian thugs — who really have it coming — decide to ambush our hero in a small hotel room.  Here’s an excerpt:

“The woman still stood where she had when Tarzan entered…an expression of surprise and then one of horror superseded the others.   And who may wonder. For the immaculate gentleman…had been suddenly metamorphosed into a demon of revenge. Instead of soft muscles and a weak resistance, she was looking upon a veritable Hercules gone mad.

“MON DIEU!” she cried; “he is a beast!” For the strong, white teeth of the ape-man had found the throat of one of his assailants, and Tarzan fought as he had learned to fight with the great bull apes of the tribe of Kerchak.

He was in a dozen places at once, leaping hither and thither about the room in sinuous bounds that reminded the woman of a panther she had seen at the zoo. Now a wrist-bone snapped in his iron grip, now a shoulder was wrenched from its socket as he forced a victim’s arm backward and upward.

With shrieks of pain the men escaped into the hallway as quickly as they could; but even before the first one staggered, bleeding and broken, from the room, Rokoff had seen enough to convince him that Tarzan would not be the one to lie dead in that house this night…”

Robot Police Assassin Kills Dallas Suspect

This is Robocop from the eponymous film franchise. In real life we skipped over the whole gun-toting A.I. robot phase and went straight to the bomb-delivery drone stage.

When the perpetrator of the 2016 Dallas shootings holed up in a garage and refused to come out, police sent in a robot carrying a pound of C-4 explosive.  The explosive was then used to kill rather than apprehend the shooter.

For the first time in history, a U.S. citizen has been killed by a remotely controlled bomb.

Remote-controlled bombs are inexact weapons.  Things seem to have gone reasonably well in the Dallas case, but what about next time?  When our government sends drones into a foreign nations to kill suspected terrorists, innocent civilians are often killed, aren’t they?

Are we comfortable with collateral damage on U.S. soil?

But even if we are (which I really hope we aren’t) there are still important questions.  If explosives are acceptable, should police also be allowed to carry hand grenades?  What about rocket-propelled grenades?  Bazookas?  Where does this end?  Should they be allowed to use mortars?  Howitzers?

Who will be training our police to use these weapons?   If the answer is our military, are we comfortable with creating an even closer association between our military and police forces?  Should the federal government be actively militarizing local police departments via the 1033 Program?  (For signing that legislation Pres. Clinton, thanks for nothing.)

Despite the problems it causes (read the ACLU report here), our police forces are accelerating their transformation into military forces.  First it was camo uniforms and helmets.  Now it’s assault rifles, Humvees, and explosives.

Please take a look at this simple graph before you flip out and say “But Mitch, what about terrorism?  What about all the active shooters?  How are our police supposed to fight the ever-increasing level of violence and crime?”

Crime Stats

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Crime is down.  Violence is down.  Our biggest enemy is paranoia.  And if we don’t do something about it soon, it’s going to be impossible to tell a cop from a marine.

What does it do to the hearts and minds of citizens, especially our children, to live amid this level of militarization?  Is that what we want?  To raise our kids in a country that looks like it’s ruled by a paramilitary junta?




The Hand of Mysteries

The Cabal Fang workout of the week is this month’s Constitutional at the Order of Seven Hills. See if you can get this done in under 18 minutes:

  • 100 Jump Squats
  • 25 Sprints (out and back to point 6 – 8 meters/yards away counts as 1)
  • 25 Help-ups*
  • 1 minute Front Plank
  • 25 Dive Bomber Push-ups
  • 100 Wall Touches
  • 25 Pikes

I’m so convinced you’ll love this workout that, if you do this work out and post in the comments below a link to a video of you doing so, I’ll send you a coupon for a free download of the Calisthenics Codex and put you down for a free download of the next martial arts book just as soon as it hits the street!


* Clasp opposite hands with your partner in bro-handshake grip. Partner A squats and Partner B helps him/her up with a forceful bicep curl. Switch roles and repeat. That’s one rep. Switch hands half way through.