‘Conan the Barbarian’ Reveals What Else Is Best In Life

By  · Published on May 26th, 2012

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; the Riddle of Steel…is that Shaq should not play superheroes. You’ve entered a mythic realm of swords and sorcery, of Tangos and Cashes, of Mikes and Ikes. Every week, our hero (read: pudgy misanthrope) battles a tremendous schlock monster – as well as the sinister threat of early onset heart failure. With his sharp words, he slices the beast open, spilling its flaws upon the ground before hoisting the entrails aloft in celebration. To commemorate this all-too-violent metaphor, a feast of one tasty snack food item will be prepared and set before you.

A couple weeks ago, the Alamo Drafthouse launched its Summer of 1982 series; a celebration of arguably the greatest season of the greatest year to ever…fall two years before I was born. Dozens of iconic films, both real people legit and JFC-approved, are being screened, including a certain sword and sandal epic that redefined swords, sandals, and indiscernible Austrian meat piles: Conan the Barbarian. We all remember Conan, he was the gentle oaf-beast who solved most of his problems by cleaving said problem’s head in twain while he struggled with words far less complicated than twain. He battled the Snake Cult and it’s malevolent leader Thulsa Doom (which translated into English from the ancient text means, “This is CNN”). We all remember that classic moment in which Conan is seated in the center of the banquet table, like a roided-up centerpiece, while his masters make him recite what is best in life. He boom-voicey responds:

“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”

Great line, right? Well what many people don’t know is that it actually took Conan several attempts to get it right. The multiple, multiple blows to the head, during his gladiatorial undertakings coupled with the fact that lamentation is a four-syllable word, made it nigh impossible for him to totally recall this maxim. Sorry, that last joke was a raw deal. Just erase(r) it from your memory and we’ll terminate all further jokes in that vein until the end of days. Twins! We at Junkfood Cinema have managed to recover the original transcription of that moment originally lost to the sands of time and the winds of…we totally made it up. Here’s how it actually went down…

Red Hair: Conan, what is best in life?

Conan: To crush your own potpourri, see Driven before two, and heal the inflammation of the ligaments.

Red Hair: (Embarrassed that his prized jock wad flubbed the actual words, but too embarrassed to admit it) Uh, yes! That’s right! Ummm, what else is best in life?

Conan: (Confusion washing over his beefy face) Dungeons & Dragons.

Red Hair: Ah yes, plundering dungeons and slaying dragons is sure to make a man of you. Huzzah!

Conan: No, I mean the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. I’m a third level wood fairy with a +2 battleaxe and —

Red Hair: Nevermind that Conan, nevermind. (Trying to figure out how to divert attention from the fact that his top warrior just said wood fairy). Now think hard, Conan, what is truly best in life?

Conan: Corn puppies.

Jeff the Barbarian: (visiting from out of town) Corn puppies?

Conan: Yes, they’re like corn dogs only they are smaller.

Red Hair: Yes, long live the…corn puppies. What about your enemies, Conan? What is best in life as it specifically pertains to your enemies?

Conan: (After a flash of recognition sparks briefly before cascading off his jagged face) Also antiquing.

Myron The Slightly Unpleasant: As hard as it is to find older things than our current old things, I’m inclined to disagree with that one.

Red Hair: (Launching the “Quiet, Please” spear at Myron) Uh, what else you got, Coney?

Conan: Prog Rock.

Vinnie the Mongol: But Conan, Prague hasn’t even been discovered yet.

Cody of the Plains: No, not Prague rock, prog rock, as in short for progressive rock. In other words, when he’s not smashing skulls, Conan here is keen on listening to Kansas and ELO.

Vinnie the Mongol: Oh, Prague and prog simply sound alike, and as we are speaking these things out loud, our confusion was unavoidable.

Cody of the Plains: Yes, this exchange would make absolutely no sense in written form.

Red Hair: (Exasperated) Conan, there’s got to be something else you remember as being one of the few tenets of what is best in life. There were so few in fact that we shouldn’t really be having so lengthy a conversation. Remember?

Conan: Of course.

Red Hair: And?

Conan: Finding an onion ring in your french fries.

Red Hair: Wow, really? Yeah, great, Cones. That is truly a gift from the gods. Anything else?

Conan: Leave-in conditioner, that new camel smell, and David Alan Grier.

Red Hair: Crom dammit, is it too late to get Red Sonja instead?

— –

Junkfood Pairing: Cake-nan The Bavarian

I’m sure we can all agree that what is actually best in life is cramming sweets into our mouth holes until we go blind from diabetes. Almost as savage as Conan is his pastry-based cousin Cake-nan The Bavarian. Armed with his multiple layers of spongy, sugary vengeance and will-demolishing, liqueur-flavored cream, Cake-nan battles the forces of responsible eating habits and self-control.

MoreJunkfood Cinema is what’s best in life

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Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.