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How You Can Become Batman

Posted by on August 12, 2011

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I have loved Batman since I was a kid. And now that I’m just a few years from fifty, I still loves me some Batman.  I think part of this comes from my Mom’s love of Zorro or, more accurately, the actor that played Zorro, Tyrone Power. My family came from Spain, so Zorro will always be high up in the family’s superhero pantheon. Bob Kane, the creator of Batman… you already knew that right? OK… moving on… said Zorro was part of his inspiration for Batman, so I guess my enjoyment of all things Batman was inevitable. And it’s not a closeted, hidden liking, either. Right next to me are two of my favorite Batman books. I didn’t buy either of them. They were gifts from friends who know me all too well.

The first is Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero by E. Paul Zeher. The author is a neuroscientist and martial arts black belt. He looks at the science of the body’s capability to respond and adapt to extremes… Batman extremes. What is so compelling about this book is that he begins with a fantasy-based question, “Could someone train to be a real-life Batman?” and actually seriously answers it. The books is laden with medically researched based answers arriving at the bottom line of “Yes, it is possible, but…” You’ll have to read the book to find out what follows the “but”. This book is also a study in how to make what could be a rather dry subject — neuroscience, training, etc. — interesting to the layman.

The other book is The Batman Handbook: The Ultimate Training Manual by Scott Beatty. No where near as scientific in approach as previous book, but extremely entertaining. It has chapters like…

  • How to assemble a Utility Belt
  • How to take out a roomful of Goons
  • How to make a Bat-signal
  • How to train a sidekick
  • How to withstand poison kisses

This is stuff we need to know. Particularly that last one. So I said to the Smokin’ Hot Wife, “Eat this garlic bread and kiss me for several hours. It’s not because I’ll enjoy it. You see, I’m a crime fighter.” Assuming I survive the poisonous assault, I’ll need a Utility Belt, which brings me to the question…

How can an Old School Man be Batman?

One of the iconic elements of Batman is his Utility Belt. Comic book writer Gardner Fox is credited with introducing the utility belt in July 1939. That’s 72 years of crime fighting. The batarang debuted in the story “Batman vs. the Vampire” in September 1939. Since then it has contained a batlasso, batcuffs and even a batcetylene torch. Batman needs this stuff because he is busy fighting crime.

Thankfully Batman is single and a multi-billionaire. I can’t picture Batman sitting with Mrs. Batman at the kitchen table going over the monthly bills saying, “Honey, I know money is tight this month, but with the Penguin and everything… I really need some new Bat-Shark repellent.”

Unlike Batman, we don’t have any Penguin-based challenges. Our challenges are more mundane but very real. If you want to be more of an Old School Man and have the equivalent of Batman’s Utility belt at the same time, you should…

Carry a multi-tool

Carrying a pocketknife or multi-tool is at the heart of why this blog was created. I carry a Leatherman Juice CS4. There are bigger multi-tools, but I wanted a model that would take up about the same amount of space as a pocketknife, knowing that a tool is only useful if I have it with me. Rather than give you a list of these uses, let me tell you the story of the first week of my current multi-tool, the  Leatherman Juice CS4.

I had ordered it a few days before and via UPS tracking, knew what day it would arrive. When the UPS man came Junior, my four year old, walked up with me and brought the box down to the front porch. We each sat in a rocking chair and I opened the box and removed the Leatherman. I explained to Junior that, “This is called a multi-tool. That means it’s one tool that contains many tools.”

I opened it up and showed him the pliers. “That’s cool,” he said. Then the screwdrivers. Another, “Cool,” from Junior. The knife. “Cool.” The corkscrew? Yes, another “cool” but I think it was more for the look of the corkscrew than the utility of it because, even for a four year old, he drinks surprisingly little cabernet.

Finally, I showed him the scissors and the saw. Big, “COOL!” from Junior on those two.

After this multi-tool tour I let him play with it for a few minutes. He liked it. Then we took off for a walk in the woods of our homestead. Suddenly Junior started screaming about a pain in his foot. Loudly. Very loudly. I tried calming him down but he was hurting. I settled him down enough to take off his his shoe and sock and see a big (for a four year old) splinter in his big toe. It was at that moment I reached in my front right pocket, took out my Leatherman, popped open the pliers and removed the splinter. My eyes were as big as Junior’s when I saw the size of the thing. It was about a quarter inch long which would be the equivalent of almost an inch for a grown man. But now all was good because I had my new Leatherman with me. We walked up to the house where Mom put some medicine on it. Since then he has had a splinter or two and when my wife tries to remove it with her tweezers, Junior says, “You should use Dad’s multi-tool.”

The rest of that week I used it several times. Removing the chain guard from his bike and adjusting the chain. Reattaching a door on the chicken coop. Cutting up an apple — one to eat, one for trap bait.  And when I’m able to give proper supervision, giving Junior and my other sons, Steve and Danny, something really cool from Daddy to play with.

My Leatherman comes out of my pocket no less than five to ten times a week. Like Tim said here, if I’m wearing trousers it’s in my pocket.

And it takes up a lot less space than a Utility belt.

Keep it Old School my friend,

The Old Man, Chris Dixon

PS: For more Old School things to carry in your pockets, visit here.

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7 Responses to How You Can Become Batman

  1. felmley

    First off, love the blog. Long time reader, first time replier. (The contest helps.)

    I carried the Leatherman Kf4 for years; gave one away, lost the next. Same size, same style, different tools. It did not have scissors, but it did have a file. One side of the file had a diamond coat (the best use for diamonds: an abrasive). No (ahem) corkscrew. Loved it. Unfortunately, like many old-school things, they stopped making it. Another nice piece was a Radio Shack exclusive, the Leatherman Squirt (E4): even smaller, again, no scissors, but a plier/wirestripper as the main tool. Very pocketable. This one may still be available, as many other of the “Juice” series. Carrying the larger Wave now, in a sheath, on my utility belt; the utility of which is to hold my pants up and stuff on.

    A man can be “Batman” to many folks if you can: pull the broken key stub out of their lock, unpackage a kids toy (now there’s a blog topic…), tighten that squeaky thing, loosen that stuck thing.

    Modern equivalent of Bat-Shark-Repellent: WD40.

    Sorry for the long post, but lastly wanted to comment on Batman: what always endeared Batman (and by reference, Zorro, Ironman, etc.) to me was that they are just “normal” men. No superpowers or mutations. Just ordinary folks driven to go beyond the ordinary. I really liked in the Spiderman movie that they keyed so strongly on “with great power comes great responsibility”. Hmm, kind of like “unto whom much is given, of him shall be much expected” the gist of Luke 12:48b.

    • The Old Man

      First, thank you for the “love the blog” comment. Much appreciated. I laughed when I read “No (ahem) corkscrew.” I have yet to have a cabernet related incident that called for one. I think the corkscrew is there more out of tradition than any researched utility. Although having written that, I used the corkscrew just yesterday to pry a broken key stub out of a lock — just like you mentioned.

      You are so right about “A man can be “Batman” to many folks if you can…” One reader told me he never carried a multi-tool (he chose a Gerber) until recently — this blog is making the world Old School one man at a time — and in the first couple days of carrying it he used it at least 6 times. He also noticed the positive impression it made on people. Gotta love the multi-tool.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. You made this place a little more Old School.

      PS: Love the Stan Lee hermeneutic.;o)

  2. Scott

    I award you extra points for making a reference to Bat-Shark Repellent.

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