John Hicks

95 Articles
John Hicks

It is good to be awake early in the morning, alone with the evaporating mist of dreams.

Are all dreams apocalyptic? Is all classical music bombastic? Yes and yes.

Yesterday, riding the bicycle at dusk, a brief scent of fire ants.

Among other things, “bombastic” means pompous. “Pompous” means self-important.

True or false: Everything is self-important.

John Hicks

It’s Week 2 of the No Television Experiment.

So far, I’ve missed The Beach Boys and Glen Campbell on the Grammy Awards and the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC.

Those are just the things my friends made sure I knew I’d missed. I was talking to the Ol’ Gunslinger last night on the Hillbilly Communications Network, legendary for the dropped call.

Back in the day, the Ol’ Gunslinger and I loaded our amplifiers in and out of many skeevy nightclubs. He is a wise and wily scoundrel, and, like most musicians, usually having serious fun. He was fired up about seeing Glen Campbell on the Grammy show.

“After his song, Glen Campbell didn’t know the mic was still on, and he said something like, ‘Am I supposed to say something, or just get out of the way?’ It was great.”

John Hicks

One day I noticed I was watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day every time it was on.

When you have a couple hundred channels, T2 is on, well, a lot.

So is Spaceballs.

I’d watch two or three movies at the same time. I mixed genres and release dates, mashed up entire schools of cinema. All the stories and visions, mine to control!

This was not scholarly appreciation. This was not DIY film school.

This was a binge, a debauch, a scandal!

8 211
John Hicks

I’ve been a mover lately. I used to be a shaker, which was some kind of fun. Shaker. That brings to mind shaking the earth. Or shaking the dice. Shaking with fear. Fear of shaking.

But now I’m just a mover, and funny how that works out. If you were moving and shaking at the same time, lord knows what would happen.

Mercy! Suddenly there’s lots of stuff to move!

All human possessions fall into three categories, which I am now going to invent: Stuff, Junk, and No Way I’m Tossing That.

Stuff comprises most of what we have. My Stuff is mostly books, papers and clothes. I need my Stuff, but there’s always the danger of having Too Much Stuff. (I’m writing this during a break from packing and moving Stuff, as a matter of fact. Because I have a deadline and I know some of you will be disappointed if I don’t post something today. It is, after all, Friday.)

John Hicks

The other night I was watching Blue Velvet for the 26th time. I am helpless against the power of Blue Velvet, especially if it’s an uninterrupted (looking at you, IFC), uncensored showing, which this happened to be.

I’m a big fan of David Lynch. Generally speaking, I think Lynch makes movies about The Movies, and that alone would normally be enough to keep me interested. But he also has a terrific imagination and a painter’s eye for color and detail.

Just about everything Lynch has directed, including the oddly successful Twin Peaks television series, is by turns familiar and eerie. It’s hard to identify a tonal baseline in a Lynch film. Things get weird fast, and they just get weirder as the story unfolds.

The landscapes of films like Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart (1990) are relentlessly gorgeous and, well, Lynchian. You know you’ve accomplished something when your last name becomes an adjective. Hats off, sir!

John Hicks

The scene: A top-security research lab. Monday morning, 8 AM. The present.

Enter BOB, researcher extraordinaire. His lab partner, EDDIE, is already at his desk. They drink coffee out of space-age mugs.

BOB: Morning.


BOB: Holy cow. I really tied one on last night.

EDDIE: That Night Train is a mean wine.

BOB: You’re tellin’ me. What’s on the to-do list?

EDDIE: Nothing.

BOB: Nothing?

EDDIE: Zip. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

BOB: Sounds good to me. I need a nap.

EDDIE: You know, Bob, I’ve been thinking …

BOB: Yeah?

EDDIE: What say (sly grin) we weaponize some bird flu?

BOB: Highly lethal and contagious? A super-spreader?

EDDIE: You’re reading my mind.

BOB: I always got a hankerin’ for a powerful new pathogenic organism. Especially one with a little Armageddon flavor.

EDDIE: Or we could just play World of Warcraft until somebody catches us goofing off.

BOB: No, let’s stick with the bird-flu thing.

EDDIE: A few mutations and, well, you are your father’s brother.

BOB: Easy as falling off a log.

EDDIE: Whoa!

BOB: What?

EDDIE: It just hit me. Man, this is sweet.

BOB: C’mon, give.

EDDIE: We write up all the details and publish them in a major scientific journal.

BOB: Effin’ genius. That’s what that is.

EDDIE: I’m thinking Hollywood all the way. Six-figure option. Dustin Hoffman.

BOB: Anything I can do, personally, to get Dustin Hoffman back into a hazmat suit …

EDDIE: It’s not a win-win proposition. It’s more like a win-win-win proposition.

John Hicks

Ah, Christmas.

What a wonderful time of the year! Let’s all join hands and sing “Silent Night.”

Is that mistletoe? You scamp! Yes, more delicious eggnog for me, please!

This is my second B2L2 Christmas. I can’t remember what I wrote about last year. I’d look it up, but I’m just too dang busy having Christmas fun.

Let’s start a new tradition. Christmas is a great time of year to start new traditions. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas:

The Annual Obscenity-Laden Christmas Post

I try to avoid using obscene language in my work. Sometimes, however, one must drop a strategic f-bomb or something equally pungent in order to convey the full, uh, earthiness of one’s position.

Generally speaking, I don’t work blue, as the comics say. Swearing well comically is a talent. You must be a Carlin or a Pryor to pull it off. (Is it too early to add Louis C.K. to the pantheon? I think not. I’ll be throwing down my five bucks for the interweb special, Louis. But not right now. I’m slap-happy with Christmas cheer!)

But what if once a year – in the last post before Dec. 25, say – I just let it rip? Four-letter words, multisyllabic oedipal blasts, and good grief, Bob Johnson! I am busy trying to think up different ways to describe cursing without actually cursing! You are interfering with my steady progress toward a Nobel Prize, you insane mutt! Go chase a rabbit! (He never catches the rabbit.)

John Hicks

No matter how much time I spend in this chair stringing sentences together, reading Walker Percy reminds me there’s usually a big difference between what I’m doing and what I think I’m doing.

Perhaps you’re feeling good because you finally painted that one room that really needed it. You took your time choosing the colors. You applied every drop of paint with the utmost care. Baseboards and trim, all pro. You are pleased as punch with yourself. Such craft! The room gleams.

Then you go to a museum or a gallery and look at some real painting.


John Hicks

Bob Johnson has been getting treats all day. Varmints are inside due to a wintry blast of rain and snow.

They are bugging the crap out of me.

I’m throwing treats at the problem. That’s what’s going on. I have to write about what’s going on, you know.

It’s a tremendous responsibility, and rowdy critters do not help. (But let’s not forget there’s a big prize package at the end of the rainbow. We’ll all be driving new pickups before it’s over.)

Anyway, Bob Johnson is shocked he doesn’t get a treat every five minutes. I tried to explain to him even I don’t get a treat every five minutes.

John Hicks

I had an idea for a piece about rubber bullets, but the topic seemed problematic after I thought about it for a while, and who needs more problems?

Not me. I’m just going to Spotify the crap out of some tunes and pretend the 21st century hasn’t turned into a gigantic creepshow.

I’d like to thank the four people who read and commented on last week’s installment of Sworn to Fun: The John Hicks Story. Soon to be a major eBook or whatever they’re called.

Okay, fine, it’s not fair to bring up rubber bullets and leave you hanging. Here’s what I was thinking: If someone shoots rubber bullets at you, you should be able to shoot rubber bullets back at them. And since rubber bullets do injure people, let’s make it paintballs. But everybody on both sides gets a paintball gun and the same amount of ammo.

Join the Fair Play for America Committee. Demand a level playing field. Nobody likes a blowout. Write your Congressperson today.

John Hicks

I hate to begin with Facebook, but I must, I must.

I’m only a casual Facebook user, which, I imagine, is sort of like being a casual crack cocaine user. (In a hundred years, people won’t even know what crack is. They’ll be foraging for radioactive mushrooms or jacked into some kind of technological future-dope a la the novels of Philip K. Dick or William Gibson. Either way, good luck with that, people of the future. I hope you still have baseball and Buddy Holly songs, but you probably won’t. It’s possible there will be a huge shift in human consciousness and people will stop abusing their brains, bodies and fellow beings, but I doubt it. This concludes a gloomy parenthetical aside for a gloomy November day.)

My Facebook fever is low-grade, but a fever nonetheless. In my defense, I would like to point out I live on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, and social networking via the interwebs comprises about 95% of my social life.