Thursday, October 25, 2007

No, It's Not a Two-Headed Dinosaur!

My class was writing double dactyls today, and one of the kids said "jeez, did YOU ever have to write one of these?"

So I sat down while they were writing one and wrote a couple myself, just to prove I'm "down wit da man."

Memories, mammaries,
Cassandra Peterson,
dressed as Elvira she

gives men a rise.

Bouncing her bosoms such
if she's not careful she'll
blacken her eyes.

Boogity Boogity,
Idi Amin Dada
Ugandan dictator
of massive size.

Last King of Scotland or
Did he serve his people
with some french fries?

Troy Hickman, Grade 3 (bows)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thirteen Will Get You Twenty

Yes, I love NBC's Dateline: To Catch a Predator. There, I've said it. I'll say it again: I love the damned thing. I watched it every chance I could. I watch the reruns of it on MSNBC. I watch the "Raw" version of it. I've compiled a bunch of clips of it and made a long-running playlist on YouTube. I listen to it while I do other stuff on the computer (like writing this piece). I sometimes fall asleep listening to it, and wake up during the night to the clarion call of "have a seat over there, please." My name is Troy Hickman, and I am a Pred-ophile.

For those of you not caught up in the drama that is TCAP, let me try to explain why I dig it:

(1) Justice, baby! There's such a feeling of satisfaction seeing these a-holes get what's coming to them. We're talking about men, ages generally from 25 to 70, making a "date" to have sex with a 12-14 year old girl or boy, and then showing up in a stranger's kitchen (often bringing with them booze, pot, condoms, dildos, penis pumps, and occasionally M&Ms...). And the chat logs! It's hard to believe the kind of stuff these scumbags say to underaged kids, and even harder to believe how many of them send pics or video of ( or at least someone's equipment; an awful lot of them seem to "borrow" pics to hide their limitations). But when I hear see the looks on their sociopathic faces as they realize they're about to go down hard (and not the way they were hoping for), it really buoys my hopes that sometimes right does triumph over wrong.

I am amazed, though, by how many folks I've heard say this is entrapment. For those people, get a dictionary or a lawbook, would ya? It's not entrapment in any sense of the term, any more than police stings on drug dealing, car theft, or hiring hitmen are. I'm even more aghast at the people who say "Oh, well, it's just natural for men to want to have sex with a 12 year-old girl." Who the hell are you people, and how do I keep from moving into your neighborhood, you sick, twisted Allen Ginsberg wannabes?

(2) Chris Hanson. Man, this guy rocks (if you can get through his annoying Southern California accent and loafers). You can keep your Eastwood/Schwarzenegger/Stallone one-liners; nobody drops the bomb on the bad guys like Chris Hanson. He floats like a butterfly, and stings like...well, like a guy who's about to ruin your entire future, you child-molesting sack of pucks.

(3) The "characters." Never have pervs been so fascinating. There are the guys who show up in the kitchen NAKED; the ones who get caught, and then get caught again the very next day (!!!); the old man who uses as his excuse the fact that he can't get an erection anyway; the guy who shows up with enough guns and ammo in his car to equip a third world nation; the rabbi there to get it on with a 13 year-old boy; the Stanley Tucci-lookalike physician who calls himself "Talldreamy_doc" on the internet (then has to call his wife to come and bring his bail); the perv who wants to do it with not only the young girl, but her CAT; the sad case of the guy who literally brings his toddler son with him to the "date" (this guy needs to be beaten to death with a knotted rope); the guy who brings a pizza with him, then actually offers to give Chris Hanson the pizza if they'll just let him go (!!!); the guy who asks Chris for a ride home from the scene of the attempted molestation; and so many more.

Yes, To Catch a Predator is just good TV, appealing to my sense of justice, my innate voyeurism, and my fascination with the sometimes-very-sick human psyche. Go, Chris Hanson, go!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jurassic Dork

Every day I see more evidence that there's a rift in fandom. There's very definitely a generational divide between what we'll call the "nouveau geek" and the older fans or, as I like to call them, the Original Geeks (OGs). How do you know which you are, pinkboy? That's easy. As someone who's terribly, horribly, painfully old, let me give you some questions that will establish if you're an Original Geek:

If you think Capt. Kirk having a green woman in every spaceport made him Da Man rather than a "sexist womanizer," you might be an OG.

If you've ever spent an entire weekend in your basement
cataloging every character ever to appear in a Legion of Superheroes comic...and LOVING might be an OG.

If you can hum the theme song to "Manimal," you might be an OG.

If your exposure to anime is limited to Gigantor and Prince Planet, you might be an OG.

If you think the word "pocky" is merely a description of the average nerd's complexion, you might be an OG.

If you believe in bathing...once a month whether you need it or might be an OG.

If you've uttered the name "Ray Harryhausen" more than three times in your life, you might be an OG.

If you think "MMORPG" is the sound you make when you get caught in your zipper, you might be an OG.

If you're sure the answer to the Jessica Alba vs. Jessica Biel argument is "Julie Newmar," you might be an OG.

If you've never kissed anything besides your pillow or your forearm, you might be an OG.

If your weekly comic buying ever took you to the same store where your mom purchased cauliflower, you might be an OG.

If your idea of a goth chick is Morticia Addams, you might be an OG.

If your only option to seeing a monster movie on TV was to STAY HOME WHILE IT'S ON, you might be an OG.

If you ever spent two hours sitting on the john, transfixed by the new issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, you might be an OG.

If you ever watched an episode of Lost in Space and June might be an OG.

If you know that Marvel Triple Action doesn't involve a threesome with Quesada and Bendis, you might be an OG.

If you think emo is a big Australian bird...well, then you're just a doofus.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Most of you know me only through the internet, so you're not privy to the way I speak in daily conversation. Suffice it to say, it tends to be colorful. Below are some of my signature phrases, and their etymology:

"Sweet Sassy Molassey" - Though this phrase actually goes back decades in some regions, I started using it after a classic SNL skit featuring Ray Romano. It's usually used in exasperation, such as "Sweet Sassy Molassey, this is the longest DMV line I've ever seen!" I've found it to be a help, as it keeps me from swearing like a sailor.

"I'm going to beat his ass for him" - I tend to say stuff like this a lot, and I think I got it from listening to my dad spout such things as a kid. The main difference is that, aside from one fiasco at a ballpark that involved my entire family (a column on that someday, I'm sure), my dad never made good on his threats, whereas I don't say it if I'm not ready to back it up. Lea refers to such utterances as me "using the language of violence." I'm glad she hasn't been around anytime I've ever had to use the "interpretive dance of violence." Back to the matter at hand, though, it's an interesting phrase, isn't it? I mean, "beat his ass" speaks for itself, at least as far as intent, but "for him" really makes it fascinating. He wanted to beat his own ass, but was incapable? "Your honor, I invoke the good samaritan statute; I was just trying to be neighborly!"

"Criminy" (or sometimes, "Criminently") - Wizard Magazine referred to me as "an amiable midwestern type who is still comfortable using words like 'gosh' and 'golly'" and they were about half-right. My vocabulary fluctuates between sounding like a regular on Leave It to Beaver and Andrew Dice Clay on a drinking Swearville. Occasionally I'll even spout comic book-ism that you'll never hear anywhere else, like Robby Reed's catch-phrase "Sockamagee!"

"Truth be told" - I tend to preface a lot of my statements with this. I don't know where it came from, but I guess I use it because I believe in telling the truth (although I still tell the truth even when I don't start a sentence with "truth be told").

"Pinkboy" - A term of derision that I borrowed from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I tend to use it to refer to people with little testicular fortitude. I think some people mistakenly assume it has some negative connotation related to gay men or straight women. Nothing of the kind. Most "pinkboys" are straight, and women can be "pinkboys" too.

"Castrati" - Similar to "pinkboy," but more of a general, pluralized usage. To me, far too many folks these days are castrati. They're afraid to get involved, afraid to take a stand, and they'll buy into whatever their "guru" tells them, whether it's a celebrity, a political party, a self-help methodology, etc. Again, castrati can apply to either sex, because they lack a figurative organ.

"Whoopty-freakin-do" - Pretty much speaks for itself. It's about my only concession to the "break up a word with 'freakin'" phenomenon.

"He's carrying a twelve dollar grudge in a three dollar hat" - I first heard this one on an episode of The Rockford Files, and it's always stayed with me. I use it to refer to people with a huge head of steam just looking for any excuse to blow (paging Janeane Girafalo...).

Tune in next time for more tips on how to talk like Hickman!

Still Dangerous After All These Years

If you're reading this, chances are you're already acquainted with the Dangerous Visions anthology that Harlan Ellison edited some 40 years ago now. If not, I would urge you to go pick up a copy, and I would assure you that you'll have a hard time putting it down. I fondly remember a week of my life, over twenty years ago now, spent sitting on the swing on our porch, feeling the summer breeze gently blowing against me, and reading story after wonderful story from that book. It was the best science fiction (or "speculative" fiction) had to offer at the time, and it still hasn't been topped as a collection.

Yeah, Ellison himself can be a cockblocker extraordinaire at times, but he sure knew how to pick 'em. So if you've got yourself a day off, grab a lemonade, find a comfy spot, and allow your mind to wander into some amazing new worlds.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cybored: The New "Bionic Woman"

OK, so after three episodes, I think I've finally reached my fill of the new Bionic Woman. The first episode was fairly good, so I gave it chance. The second episode, however, was like having a root canal while listening to an infomercial...while being shot through the head. If it'd been a bear trap, I would've gnawed off my own leg to escape (and then would've needed bionics of my own...oh, the irony, Alanis).

So before last night's episode, I told myself I'd give it one more chance, and I have to say it blew it, big time. No, it wasn't quite as bad as episode #2, but it wasn't anything I'd want to endure on a weekly basis, either. As I see it, here are the show's main problems:

(1) Most of the characters are dreadfully dull. It's not a good sign when the show's titular (look it up, you perve) character doesn't have enough charisma to keep the viewer interested, but it's true in this case. Jaime Sommers is not someone with whom I'd want to get stuck in an elevator (I'm not even sure she'd be on the ball enough to get us out). I want to like Miguel Ferrer (since I've liked him in pretty much everything he's ever done), but they sabotage him with bad dialog (on last night's show, he referred to a character as going "scorched earth"; who the @#$% talks like that?). The only semi-interesting character is Sarah, the "evil" bionic woman; Lea suggested they should spin her off into her own show, and that might be the only way of salvaging anything from this mess.

(2) The action. Hey, folks, it's an ACTION show, so that might be somewhat important, j'think? The first episode's action was pretty good. The second was crappy and nearly non-existent. Last night's show had a big fight scene in a manicure salon (!), and it made me want to ram my head into the TV set. Not only was it contrived, not only was the "fight dialog" stupid and pointless, but Jaime Sommers was UNABLE to take out three normal thugs without Sarah's help. I think they're going for some kind of a "grrrrrl" persona for Jaime, but if that's the best she can do, she's more Blanche Dubois than Emma Peel.

(3) The emo. Oh, sweet sassy molassey, does every show these days have to be Smallville? Look, the single best bet for saving this show would be to drop the continuing soap opera aspects, and do what the original Bionic Woman did: feature self-contained episodes. I really don't give a rat's rosy red ass about Jaime's relationship with her sister. I want to see her dish out some hard justice to bad guys with her bionic bag o' tricks. Remember the X-Files? Sure you do. Well, do you remember that the best episodes of the X-Files were the ones that featured self-contained stories and had nothing to do with the overall "alien abduction" megaplot? Remember how you prayed that each new episode would feature Tooms or the Flukeman or Jose Chung's "From Outer Space", rather than Mulder's never-ending search for "the truth"?

Well, maybe you didn't, but I sure as hell did. And that's what this show needs to do.

(4). Three episodes in, and no Bigfoot. I'm just saying...

I seriously doubt I'll watch the show from this point on. It just seems like the waste of an hour, during which I could be doing something more writing a blog entry about how craptastic the show is...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Just Say No-Magnon

ABC's new show, Cavemen? A total and utter piece of excrement. What the hell were they thinking? Yes, the Geico ads are cool, but that's because they're freakin' thirty seconds long, and they have a point! A thirty minute sitcom, however? Bleeearrrrgh!

The show doesn't know what it wants to be. Basically all they've done is take a very lame, exceptionally badly written sitcom, and thrown in a few cavemen who act in a way almost indistinguishable from anyone else. There's nothing to capitalize on the caveman idea except (A) the occasional mention that they're...gasp...cavemen, and (B) the caveman make-up.

And let's talk about that make-up. They're guys with long hair and beards! Criminently, by that criteria, I'M a @#$% caveman! The only other distinguishing features are a sometimes-wider-nose and a slight cranial ridge (which means they're about half as "different" from normal humans as the average character on one of the latter-day Star Trek shows).
Pretty much everything I wanted to see done with this premise was already done (and better) by either the Geico commercials, or by Phil Hartman as the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

I can only hope that this is pulled mid-season, along with the turgid and unfunny Carpoolers (is there any way we could have the carpoolers run over the cavemen, and then commit seppuku from the shame?).

There are plenty of great shows on TV at the moment, including Friday Night Lights, House, Heroes, Prison Break, Life, The Office, My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, and others. What we don't need is more high-concept, low-quality filler like Cavemen making television the vast wasteland it's sometimes accused of being.

Me no like Cavemen! Urrrrggghh!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Host of Horrors

If you're a relic like me, you probably grew up with a horror host. You know the drill: a guy in cheesy makeup, stalking around a set full of styrofoam props and phony spiderwebs, delivering wilting puns while showing a gamut of the best/worst horror films an independent TV station can afford. On the west coast you had the likes of Seymour, John Stanley, and Elvira. The folks in the east enjoyed Zacherly and Count Gore. Here in the midwest, a fertile ground for the horror hosts, we sat up on weekends nights and watched Ghoulardi, Sir Graves Ghastly, Svengoolie, and even the Son of Svengoolie (Rich Koz, one of the most talented guys in Chicago television; I'll have to devote a full column to him at some point).

Sadly, the horror host has largely gone the way of the drive-in movie (another future column), and these days you'll mainly find such programs on the internet (hardly the same) or on hard-to-find cable access stations. Thank goodness there are still folks keeping that faith, though, as the horror host is a very special breed, and for many of us takes up a very special place in our nostalgic hearts. These days, the torch has been passed to the likes of Dr. Zombie, A. Ghastlee Ghoul, and The Bone Jangler. If you're interested in the subject, there are a number of websites out there, including The Horror Host Underground, TV Horror Hosts, and E-gor's Chamber of TV Horror Hosts.

For me, the greatest of the horror hosts was Indiana's own Sammy Terry. In 1961, disk jockey Bob Carter moved to Bloomington, Indiana, and began filling a number of positions at WTTV-TV, including hosting a three-hour morning talkfest entitled "Coffee with Carter." When Universal Studios began offering a package of its old horror films, however, a number of independent stations created horror host programs to facilitate the showing of these classics. WTTV was no exception, and launched Shock Theater, with Carter doing voice-overs as they showed still photos during commercials. These intros and extros proved so popular, though, that the station pressed Carter to create an on-camera character, and Sammy Terry was born. The name of the show was changed to Nightmare Theater, and boy, that's sure what it was for me.

How do I describe Sammy? Well, he was a cloaked, hooded creature straight from the bowels of Gehenna...with a rubber spider named "George" on a very-visible string to keep him company. Sammy would do host segments to break up the movie, usually humorous stuff in typical horror host fashion, but there was always something damned deadly serious about him, too. Bob Carter had this wonderful voice, this cadence that could've made him the rival of most Shakespearean actors, and when he'd do a monologue, it would be a thing of beauty. The most unforgettable thing about Sammy, though, was his laugh. Oh, god, that laugh. On Friday nights, I'd huddle under the covers, and when the show began, and I'd hear that coffin lid creak, I'd pull the blanket up over my head and wait for THE LAUGH.

Sammy was a mainstay of Hoosier television from the early 1960s all the way into the 1980s. For many of us, his show was our first exposure to the classic Universal monster movies, and to countless other horror classics (and not-so-classics) as well. Heck, I remember once in the early 70s when Sammy was doing a live stage show at various Hoosier venues, and when he came to my town, you can bet I nagged my folks until they dropped me off at the Mars Theater in downtown Lafayette to see Sammy do his combination comedy/magic act schtik. I don't remember all of it now, but I do recall a guillotine was prominently featured. Afterwards, Sammy graciously talked to folks in the lobby and signed posters. I tell ya, at the time it was the highpoint of my life.

Bob semi-retired Nightmare Theater in the late 80s, but every few years since then, WTTV has brought him back for Halloween specials, during which he's shown films like the original Night of the Living Dead and, inexplicably, Batman Returns??? He also makes regular appearances at various "haunted houses" around the state in October (which lead to an interesting incident a few years ago in which some scoundrel was going around MASQUERADING as the real Sammy Terry and making some dough for these public appearances).

Sammy Terry and Bob Carter have played a bigger part in my life than they'll ever know. If not for them, I'm not sure I'd be the massive uber-nerd/comic writer I am today. I think about that pretty much every day, when I see the pic of Sammy I have affixed to the front of my refrigerator (I just wish it'd scare me away from the food).

Here's to you, Sammy Terry, and to all the horror hosts who have made our lives a bit more filled with wonder. Pleasant nightmares!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It's a Joke, Son!

Chances are you've never heard of Kenny Delmar, even as big a nerd as you are. Kenny gained a degree of fame as a radio personality. He came to prominence on Fred Allen's show, based on a character he created: Senator Claghorn, a blusterous know-it-all who thought the sun rose and set on THE SOUTH.

They even made a 1947 movie featuring the character entitled "It's a Joke, Son," based on one of the senator's favorite phrases. In my opinion, it's a hilarious little piece of Americana, and it's currently in the public domain. You can watch the entire movie here.

During the 1950s, Kenny did a lot of TV work on shows such as Kraft Television Theater, Studio One, General Electric Theater, the Colgate Comedy Hour etc.

In later years, he became largely known for doing cartoon voices, including Commander McBragg on the Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo shows, and Kit Coyote on Go Go Gophers.

Kenny Delmar passed away in 1984 at the age of 74, and the world lost an obscure but very talented entertainer.

As I said, you probably don't know Kenny Delmar. But I'll bet you know part of his legacy. Y'see, in 1946, the fine folks at Warner Brothers needed a character for a Henery Hawk cartoon, and they came up with a blusterous, know-it-all rooster named Foghorn Leghorn, a tribute to the talents of Mr. Kenny Delmar.

And now you know...the rest of the story. Good day!