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The Essay
Show #387
David Gunn

A staple of Sunday School apocrypha is the story of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. You remember, he commanded his followers to worship his golden image. Most were eager to do so, but three troublemaking governors--Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego--refused to comply. This irked Nebuchadnezzar, who summarily had them "bound in their coats, their hosen and their hats, and their other garments ..." and cast into a fiery furnace. Except for a really dark tan, the three men emerged unscathed. So the king obsequiously rescinded his decree, built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and demolished the city of Jerusalem. At least, that's the way the Bible spins the story.

As usual, the truth--the real truth--is somewhat different.

The year was 570 B.C., not 570 A.C., and the three men were named Shadrach, Meshach and Abeanogo--yes, the great-great-ancestor of Beano Bengaze. Like his mystifyingly mystical descendant, Abeanogo was well versed in the ways of the shaman. In fact, that was how he hooked up with Shadrach and Meshach. A sorcerer-herpetologist in the kingdom of Judah had turned three men, Sam, Chad and Sherhach, into spadefoot toads because he was worried that that amphibiological species was in decline. By the time he realized that he was dead wrong, the transmogrification had become irreversible. Nevertheless, he called on his mentor, Abeanogo, to salvage what he could. With help from his spirit spook, Weasel Slayer, Abeanogo changed the three toads back into men ... albeit only two men. The third was forever locked into the anima of the other two. They renamed themselves so each would reflect part of the missing Chad. Grateful to Abeanogo and contrite to Shadrach and Meshach, the sorcerer-herpetologist then turned all three into governors.

But back to the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Now, Abeanogo was not adverse to tipping his cap to a graven image--his spirit worlds were full of them, and he regularly offered up proper obeisance. His two mates, on the other hand, seemed to have gotten holier-than-thou bugs up their alimentary canals and they refused. So, as a package deal, all three were tossed into the firepit.

Fortunately, Abeanogo was prepared. The "hats," as reported in Dan 3:21, were adobe hats, able to withstand "temperatures of great extreme; the sun in the sky?--way greater than that, yea." The "other garments" were titanium jerkins, likewise fire-resistant: "Moses, in titanium jerkin clad, didst within the burning bush squat whilst the Lord at length spake; verily didst he then exit undamaged, save for a spell of tinnitus brought about by Yahweh's scratchy voice." The "coats" and "hosen," too, were products of an occult technology far more puissant than that which might produce a plague of locusts or a 40-day rain shower. No matter he repeatedly misspelled his name when signing Chaldean dynasty checks, Nebuchadnezzar was no dummy. He saw that his own authority was overmatched and sensibly revoked the decree.

The adventures of Shadrach and Meshach continued for centuries, but the Bible doesn't recount them because they don't especially reflect Christian dogma. Shadrach, for instance, shortened his name, learned enough sorcery-ichthyology to turn himself into a herring, and split for the North Atlantic, where he founded the kingdom of Atlantis. Meshach became a kind of travel agent--that is, he supplied psychotropic drugs to wayward Babylonian teens in search of psychedelic "trips." Meshach ingested so many of these drugs himself that in time he lapsed into immutable dementia, a condition reflected by the Yiddish spelling of his name, Meshuga.

And what of Abeanogo? Again, the Bible is informationally tight-lipped. Later in the Old Testament, there is a single reference to the minor prophet, Beanobadiah: "For verily in the city of Rupert shall be planted vineyards, and the sons and daughters shall drink plentifully the wine thereof; yea, every man and woman, save for that heathen, Beanobadiah." The gospel according to Mark in the New Testament features this last reference: "And there came a leper unto him, beseeching him; kneeling down, a leg fell off. Then uttered Abeanogo words of great mystery, and suddenly was the leper again whole; even thereafter played he rugby with wondrous skill."

Wondrous skill has also been utilized to cobble together the 387th episode of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar. And while it has thus far been unable to realize a minor profit, at least it has each week conjured the meshugaas of Damian and of Kalvos.