John Hicks

88 Articles

John Hicks lives outside the city limits, where eagles dare.

1 389
John Hicks
5 Min Read

A hoax is contrived in order to deceive or mislead, an imposition carried out under fair pretenses. A hoax requires a level of skill and dedication that goes beyond casual fib, skillful exaggeration, calculated evasion, and bold lie. Most advertising is a hoax. The purpose…

John Hicks
3 Min Read

1. The Alien There are so many great monster movies. Monsters from the deep. Monsters from outer space. Monsters from the laboratory. The walking, crawling, shuffling, sprinting dead. My favorite monster movies? Off the top of my head? Nosferatu. Frankenstein. Godzilla. Alien and Aliens. Let’s…

John Hicks
3 Min Read

Harry Alonzo Longabaugh was born on April 19, 1868, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp was born July 28, 1887, in Blainville, France.

Longabaugh (AKA the Sundance Kid) was the third son of Josiah and Annie Longabaugh.

Duchamp (who created for himself a feminine alter ego, Rrose Selavy) was the third son of Eugene and Lucie Duchamp.

Longabaugh joined the Phoenixville Literary Society in 1882.

Duchamp became a full member of the Paris Autumn Salon in 1910.

After a brief journey that took him to Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston, the 14-year-old Longabaugh boarded a train headed west.

After obtaining his baccalaureate from the Bousset School in Rouen, Duchamp moved to Paris. Following a year of mandatory military service, he rejoined his bohemian circle in Paris.

In February 1889, Thomas Moonlight, governor of the Territory of Wyoming, pardoned Longabaugh, noting that the 20-year-old horse thief showed “an earnest desire to reform.”

In June 1921, Duchamp made a strong impression on Dada kingpin Andre Breton, who credited him with an “elegance of the most fatal sort.”

John Hicks
2 Min Read

The first scene in the movie Harper (1966) tells you all you need to know about Paul Newman’s character, a skeevy private eye with a heart of gold named Lew Harper.

Harper wakes up in his crummy apartment, somewhat less than overjoyed by consciousness. He fights with the alarm clock. He soaks his head in a sinkful of water and ice cubes. He tries to make coffee. The water comes to a boil on the stove. He opens the coffee can. Empty.

After a beat, he fishes the previous day’s soggy filter out of the trash and makes do. It’s a fantastic bit of exposition, and the movie that follows is just as sharp.

The screenplay was written by William Goldman, who once tossed off what is arguably the greatest maxim ever about Hollywood: “Nobody knows anything.”

Goldman was specifically referring to whether or not a movie would do well at the box office after its release, but the line is now used most frequently as a club with which to bash studio executives.

Goldman adapted the script from Ross Macdonald’s 1949 novel The Moving Target, the first of 18 “Lew Archer” novels that cemented Macdonald’s place in the first rank of crime-fiction writers.

Legend has it that Newman requested the character’s last name be changed from Archer to one that started with an “H.” At the time, Newman was riding a lucky streak with the consonant.


John Hicks
1 Min Read

Good morning. I hope everyone had a good night’s sleep, because, ah, I’m sure you’re all aware of, ah, unfolding events. Oh, and help yourself to the éclairs and brandy croissants. Thanks, Denise.

I’d like to start with a line chart. Lights, please.

Here’s where we were. Way up here. Cruising altitude. All systems go, doing what we do best. Moving the product like champions. Not a cloud in the sky.

Maybe an air pocket here and there, but not enough to spill your drink!

Here’s where we are now. Nosedive from 30,000 feet.

Lights, please.

To stick with the plane crash analogy, we are approaching terminal impact at maximum velocity. The wings have come off.

These croissants are delicious, Denise.

John Hicks
2 Min Read

I was talking to Bob Dylan last night, and there was not a hint of Violence as we got down to our discussions. ‘We may never be able to defeat these swine,’ he told me, ‘but we don’t have to join them.’

Yes sir, I thought. The too much fun club is back in business. Let us rumble.

–Hunter S. Thompson, Kingdom of Fear

The revised plan of action was a lengthy extension of my “summer hiatus” that would stretch well into November, until after the elections.

Returning to the deadline grind had little appeal, especially during the final wretched months of Decision 2012.

Over the summer, I had become a man of Science. I had grasped the essentials of Pure Research and Development.

I always knew I had the freakish genes necessary for prolonged scientific inquiry. Mistakes were made, but they were Fun.

Someone else would have to write the sentences. I had Projects.

John Hicks
4 Min Read

Editor’s Note: This post first appeared October 7, 2011.

I have lots of magazines lying around. They come in the mail, which is delivered by a woman in a tan Plymouth. I always wave at her, if I’m outside. Keep up the good work, Mail Lady!

My family and friends give me magazine subscriptions as gifts. It’s great. They know I am poor and shiftless and sit around gnawing on raw turnips etc. and would otherwise never encounter such.

One of these gift subscriptions is to The New Yorker. I don’t know if you’ve ever read The New Yorker, but it’s a pretty big deal. They’ve been around for a while. Keep up the good work, TNY!

I used to live in New York City about a million years ago, so I know a little something about the place. For a while there, I was a New Yorker, although I was usually on the brink of homelessness.

My friends who’d grown up in New York City thought I was fascinating. Not because of any talent I possessed, and certainly not because I had a clue about what I was doing there in the great metropolis.

I was a curiosity, a person of interest, simply because I was from the South, and not just the South, but Mississippi.

John Hicks
3 Min Read

Editor’s Note: This post first appeared June 10, 2011.

I love this nationwide wailing and gnashing of teeth about the heat.

I grew up in the Deep South, so I earned my hot-weather badge at an early age. Now the rest of the country is in a sweaty panic because it’s hot in June.

In my Mississippi hometown, there was no such thing as a June heat wave. We had one heat wave every year, and it lasted from May to October.

As long as I wasn’t in school, I could have cared less. It never occurred to me and my friends there were places where melting asphalt was a novelty.

John Hicks
3 Min Read

Editor’s Note: This Dec. 16, 2011 post is being re-run to celebrate Walker Percy’s birthday.

A programming note: Comedy Central is now running back-to-back episodes of 30 Rock just about every night.

30 Rock is the only network sitcom to give Seinfeld a run for its money, if you ask me.

Maybe I should be on Twitter. #TinaFeyIsAGoddess. #Duh.

Reading Walker Percy does not make me want to tweet. It makes me want to write.

It’s hard to say which one of Percy’s novels I like best, because there are several I return to again and again.

Currently, it’s The Moviegoer. I don’t understand how anyone could not want to read this book 20 times.

The Moviegoer was published in 1961, and won the National Book Award in 1962. Percy’s debut novel was the product of a long artistic journey. He was in his mid-40s when The Moviegoer made him a force in “Southern literature,” which is the kind of literature all writers born south of the Mason-Dixon produce, apparently. (Don’t get me started.)

John Hicks
3 Min Read

It’s Friday the 13th and we’re all gonna die.

In the time-honored, slasher-movie tradition, those of us smoking pot or having sex will die first.

Okay, okay. These two things aren’t really connected, not in this piece, anyway. I just noticed my regular Friday post would be going up on the 13th and I thought I might sucker a few more people into reading it. (By the way, I’m a total wuss when it comes to filmic gore. I actually cover my eyes when the ominous music starts pumping and the knives, guns and chainsaws come out. Also, in terms of superstitious beliefs, the Friday the 13th thing is about as dumb as they come. Boatloads of bad things happen on Friday the 12th and Friday the 14th. You can look it up, Mookie.)

I hate to be the one to break the news that we’re all gonna die, because I’ve worked hard to establish my rep as B2L2’s Pollyanna-in-residence.

Human beings are born in much the same way all warm-blooded mammals are born. If you’re not clear on the concept, ask mom or dad for details.