Monday, January 11, 2010


Okay, so here’s the deal: My name is Dennis and I am a Kreativ Blogger and a Zombie Chicken. (All together now: “Hi, Dennis!”) Over the past week I received two prestigious Internet awards (also known as invitations to a meme) and I am about to spread the wealth. The first one, the Kreativ Blogger award, was bestowed upon me by the equally prestigious Bill Ryan, he of The Kind of Face You Hate. Though I have never gazed upon it myself, Bill likely does not have a hateable mug (that’s Dr. Mabuse staring out at you imposingly from his header). He does, however, have impeccable blogging chops and a twisted, fertile mind which gets exercised to all our benefit whenever he starts writing about books, movies or whatever else strikes his fancy over at his place. He hasn’t been at it as long as some, but he’s quickly become one of the few must-reads on my blogroll and, I suspect, many others. It is a real honor to have been chosen to receive any citation, but especially this one, from him. Thanks, Bill! And that takes care of my first obligation.

For you see, when awarded with the Kreativ Blogging honor, one must not hoard either it or the goodwill generated by it, but pass it along meme-style for all the Internet to enjoy, in the process hopefully alerting others about sources of terrific writing they may not have yet heard about. Rule One states that the recipient must publicly thank the one who bestowed the honor upon him or her. Rule Two states that the image of the award must be copied and placed your blog. Done. Rule Three states that you must link to the person who nominated you for the award. Okay, well, I’ve already done that, but what the hell, I’ll do it again.

Rule Four we’ll get to in a moment. Rule Five states that I must nominate seven other bloggers worthy of the description “kreativ” and (Rule Six) inform them in their comments that they have been so honored. So I hereby nominate, for all of you to discover, if you haven’t already, following Kreativ Bloggers:

Larry Aydlette, fount of pop knowledge and my O.G., as the kids say.
Mr. Peel, that man about town.
Ali Arikan, whose enthusiasm and talent seem to know no bounds.
Brian Doan, film academic extraordinaire and all-around sharp guy.
John McElwee, the man who knows more about old Hollywood than anyone I can think of.
Stacie Ponder, forever the triumphant Final Girl (forget Jamie Lee Curtis).
Chris Stangl, continually inspired, a fine writer and smart as two whips.

These wonderful people make my daily journey around the blogosphere richer than I ever would have imagined, and they truly deserve each and every honor they get.

Rule Four gets personal. It states that (and here’s the memey part) the recipient of the Kreativ Blogger award must come forth with seven fascinating facts about their own personage that it is presumed no one already knows. It is also presumed that these facts will also actually be interesting as opposed to just kinda pathetic. You be the judge.

1) The touch of my fingers on the ridged surface of those 3-D lenticular photo cards (you know, the kind of kitschy thing where you look at it from one angle and then shift your viewing angle slightly to see the picture change), and the sound of someone else scratching their fingers or nails across that same surface, so profoundly repulses me that if I were forced to listen to it without reprieve for even as short a time as, say, a minute or two, it would send me into goose-pimpled convulsions and would, in all seriousness, threaten the already tenuous hold I have on my mind. I am not kidding. My daughters know never to touch any such surface on any books or postcards or toys they might have in my presence. I will go off. (I have a similar reaction to the serrated edges of two dimes or two quarters being dragged across each other. Fucking drives me ape.)

2) When I was three years old my family lived on my grandma’s farm. One afternoon my mom rode up into the driveway on her horse and I ran out to greet her. I scared the horse which reared up, knocked me down and stomped on me with its front hooves. Not sure how I managed to escape getting seriously hurt or killed, but I did. Though I love westerns, I’m still a little skittish around live horses to this day.

3) My wife and I were married in the same chapel which witnessed the wedding rites of Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay, among many others.

4) My family did not get cable TV until about a year before I moved away to college in 1977. Consequently, as a child growing up in Southeastern Oregon in 1960s and 1970s I had access to exactly two TV stations. Those two channels attempted to cover the three networks between them, and there was often overlap so that even though we had two channel choices, they would sometimes be showing the same programming. My first outraged letter to a nebulous figure of authority was dictated at around age three, at a time when we actually had only one station available and that station opted to pre-empt the regular scheduled Friday afternoon broadcast of Magilla Gorilla with some damned worthless show or another. If he’s still alive, and maybe even if he isn’t, I’ll bet that station manager’s ears are still stinging.

5) I was quite aware of the Manson murders and the subsequent trial at the time they occurred, all around when I was about 9-10 years old. My mom had lost a baby upon delivery on my ninth birthday, and the Tate-LaBianca murders had occurred only about 10 days before, so I was perhaps even more aware of the horror of losing a child after having already heard about (and endlessly ruminating upon) Susan Atkins’ savage treatment of the pregnant Sharon Tate. And the whole grisly episode made me vow at the time that I would never set foot in Los Angeles for fear of being subjected to the same ghastly fate. (So much for sober-faced vows, huh?)I was still so completely unhinged by the events that after I saw the CBS TV movie adaptation of Helter Skelter in 1976, while staying alone at a friend’s house up in the hills above my hometown (I was 16 years old), I felt compelled to go through the house, armed with a butcher knife and scared shitless, to check and make sure Charles Manson or one of his followers wasn’t hiding in a darkened room somewhere. No one jumped out of any closets, but I was irrationally frightened and felt sure someone would. To this day the first time I saw that movie ranks as one of the most profoundly terrifying viewing experiences of my life, augmented of course by the real-life horror I'd already heard too much about.

6) Scary but in a much different way, I was always absolutely terrified by Julie Newmar as Catwoman on the original Batman series. I was six when the show first aired, and though I loved it from the start (and still do), I could barely bring myself to watch the episodes featuring Newmar—something about her statuesque feline presence completely unnerved me. Of course, even though at six I was a veteran of the random boner in the bathtub I had no idea about sexual feelings. But Newmar surely sparked the first real ones connected to provocative imagery that I ever had. I remember waking up (or thinking I had) from a nightmare around this same age. I was sure my eyes were wide open, yet there above my head, like a little unaware boy’s very own sultry, curvaceous succubus in all decked out in black latex, floated the visage of Newmar’s Catwoman, flanked mysteriously by two of her henchmen. The sidekicks cackled while Newmar beckoned to me with her long, slender arms (her hands surely had claws) to join her floating there in the space above my head. I covered up under my blankets, but I could still hear her breathing, calling to me quietly so that my mom and dad wouldn’t hear, until after a few minutes she was gone. Nothing else… happened… to make me believe, in retrospect, that this was my first flirtation with sexual experience, but it sure seems like it was to me. And I still get an unreasonably pleasurable reverberation down my spine whenever I see pictures of Newmar dressed up in that cat outfit. Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, Halle Berry-- puh-lease, girlfriends. There is only one Catwoman, and her purr belongs to Julie Newmar.

7) True Confessions Dept.: I have never read one word ever written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (though I have recently taken steps to rectify this oversight). I have never seen an episode of Deadwood, Oz, The Wire, Mad Men, Lost, Ugly Betty, CSI (whatever city), Heroes or many of the other television shows which have faithful followings and rave reviews. I have never seen a film starring Greta Garbo all the way from beginning to end (no, not even Ninotchka). I intellectually understand the reasons why Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen are held in such high regard, but their music largely fails to move me. Though I have shot a couple of rounds for real and I excel at the Wii version, I have no desire to ever play golf on an actual green ever again. I’ll be damned if I can fathom why anyone would devote one minute to watching anything that qualifies as “reality TV.” And nothing pisses me off more than the anti-intellectual bent our society has taken of late, in whatever form of religious or societal intolerance it might manifest itself from moment to moment. For some the biggest crime seems to be displaying intelligence and not being ashamed of doing so, to which I can only respond that I imagine these folks whose undies are all twisted up about someone else using their brain would probably do so themselves if it weren’t for the fact that apparently some of them don’t seem to have a working brain to use.

Finished yawning? Okay. There’s that other award I was nominated for this weekend, this time by the lovely and talented and opinionated and all-around terrific Kimberly Lindbergs of Cinebeats fame. She has included me amongst her three nominees for the just-as-good-as-the-Kreative-Blogger-award-I’m-sure Zombie Chicken award. This is the good word from the person who started it all:

“The blogger who receives (the Zombie Chicken) award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least three other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…”

Now, that really is nice. And I will not only thank Kimberly again (thanks, Kimberly), I will whittle down my own nominees from the seven Kreativ Bloggers cited above and call out Chris Stangl, Larry Aydlette and Stacie Ponder for membership in the extended brother/sisterhood of the Zombie Chicken. Believe me, the honoring is even more fun than getting the honor, especially when I can send a little Internet love to some truly worthy folks. Happy New Year and congratulations, one and all!



Gerg said...

The two channel thing! Growing up in Springfield I had the same problem and have no memories whatsoever of anything that was on CBS in the 60s. We never watched Cronkite, always Huntley-Brinkley.

Ali Arikan said...

Dennis, what a great read, as always.

And, thank you so very, very much for your kind words, mate. This made my day!

le0pard13 said...

Congrats, Dennis. Well deserved.

bill r. said...

Zombie chickens? But what can they do to you? They're still just chickens. That doesn't sound very impressive to me. Also, I love Tom Waits, if you hadn't heard.

I've never seen an episode of MAD MEN or THE WIRE or DEADWOOD or UGLY BETTY (regarding this last one, for God's sake, why WOULD I??) either. And I've only seen NINOTCHKA with Garbo. That's it.

My mom told me that when she showed me SOME LIKE IT HOT when I was very young (six? Seven? Younger?), when Monroe first appeared on-screen I said, "Wow."

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

Enjoyed reading your responses, Dennis!

Totally understand your fear of Mr. Manson. I can distinctly remember when my family was forced to move to the Bay Area from Idaho in the early 70s following my father's death to be near family and my mother was terrified of the "Zodiac Killer." Naturally her fears were transferred over to me and to this day I still find true crime films like Helter Skelter, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer and Zodiac incredibly hard to watch. I also have a hard time reading "true crime" fiction unless it involves Jack the Ripper (for some strange reason I'm obsessed with the Jack the Ripper).

I'm a Lost and Mad Men devote so I can't resist recommending them both, but like you I also try to avoid reality TV. My husband is addicted to all the cooking shows like "Top Chef," "Hells Kitchen," etc. (He's the main cook in our home) so I find myself watching them once in awhile but otherwise, I could easily do without.

Last but not least, I'm glad you're discovering the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! You've got a world of surprises ahead of you. I was close with the son of the man who ran one of the US branches of the Sherlock Holmes Society and I started reading a lot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's work in the '90s thanks to his encouragement. I think you'll find it just as rewarding as I did.

On a side note, did you know that Murder By Decree (one of my favorite Holmes films) has recently been released on DVD? I haven't seen it in years and I'm looking forward to giving it a another look soon.

Thanks again for participating!

bill r. said...

Oh yes, by the way, Doyle's Holmes stories are magnificent. That stuff, and my dad's encouragement to read it, is really what started my love of genre fiction, particularly crime, Victorian intrigue, and so forth, but Doyle was just terrific.

Check out the Jeremy Brett TV series. He was the single best Holmes good that I find it impossible to separate him from the character. He was astonishingly perfect.

Having said that, MURDER BY DECREE is pretty darn good. Plummer and Mason are both wonderful.

mister muleboy said...

Hmmmm -- that Julie Newmar must have had some sort of connection with the Netherworld.

You, the Mythical Monkey, and I have all reported such strongly-held, strongly-recollected, strongly-retained sexual memories of her [occurring at ages 5-8; recalled in our late forties] that are uncharacteristic of our peers, or of recollections of other starlets.

She is the Cat's Whiskers, as it were. . . .

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