Friday, April 15, 2011

On a classic telling of a classic joke about a classic character.

John Boardman is what we used to call a Big Name Fan back in the days of Science Fiction fandom when fanzines were typed, and printed on mimeographs, or if you were really lucky, on the Xerox at your office if no one was looking.  He hosted First Saturday at his home in Brooklyn, and was almost required attendance if you were a fan in NYC.  I believe every fannish community had such a recurring party, and First Saturday was ours.

For those who played the complex boardgames from companies like Avalon-Hill, John is best known for inventing Play-by-mail Diplomacy, a game which is like Risk in the same way the Titanic is like the Minnow.  He ran numerous fanzines and APAe over the decades, including APA-Filk, the first one to which I ever contributed with my first zine, "Beyond the Last Visible Dog". 

When asked (which was often) and if plied with liquor (which was required), he would regale all and sundry with the following epic poem, a rhythmic and lyrical rendering of an old chestnut of a joke, making it so much better.

In honor of the upcoming film, it is presented for your pleasure, in tribute to Professor Boardman, and the many fine times spent at his domicile.

The Thong of Thor
by John Boardman

In days of yore the great god Thor would ramp around creation.
He'd drink a pint and slay a giant and save the Nordic nation,
Or kill a Wyrm and watch it squirm and vainly try to fang him,
Or lock up Loki in the pokey and on the noggin bang him.

Once he did bawl through Thrudvang hall that on a trip he'd wander
In a disguise from prying eyes in Midgard way out yonder.
So all his slaves and carles and knaves packed up his goods and gear-o,
And off he strode on Bifrost road, a perfect Aryan hero.

In Midgard land he joined a band of hardy Viking ruffians.
And off they sailed and rowed and bailed among the auks and puffians.
Whene'er they'd reach a foreign beach they stopped to raid and plunder.
Each Nordic brute got so much loot their longship near went under.

But though they rolled in coins of gold they had one joy forsaken.
For on each raid Thor's party made, no women could be taken.
Each drab and queen fled from the scene when Viking sails were sighted.
And Thor felt needs for certain deeds that had gone unrequited.

Thor's brows were black as they rowed back to Oslo's rocky haven,
Unto his crew he said, "Beshrew me for a Frankish craven,
"If I don't wrench some tavern wench, or else may Frigga damn her!"
Replied one voice, "You've got first choice. You have the biggest hammer."

Into an inn this crew of sin disbarked upon their landing.
Each tavern made was sore afraid of pirates of such standing.
But golden coins warmed up their loins, and soon the ale ran free.
Thor's motley crew poured down the brew and made an all-night spree,

Thor's glances strayed unto a maid with hair as gold as grain,
A lisp so shy, a downcast eye, and not a trace of brain.
He swept her chams into his arms and to an upstairs bower,
And did not cease or give her ease for three days and an hour.

When he arose and donned his clothes she looked like one near death.
Her limbs were weak, she could not speak, and scarcely gasped for breath.
"You ought to know, before I go, I'm Thor," he bade adieu.
"You 're thore!" said she. "Conthider me! I'm thorer; thir; than you!"

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