Ned Hickson: Grower of ‘staches, Blogger… Actor?

Listen, and understand! The Nedinator is out there! It can’t be bargained with. (Except with bacon.) It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. (But if it stubs it’s toe in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom, it will be incapacitated.) And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead… uh, I mean, entertained.

My friend/mentor/lender-of-fifty-dollar-bills Ned Hickson, is one talented cat.

But you didn’t hear that from me.

Not only does he know how to rock a ‘stache with more vigor than Clark Gable, Burt Reynolds and Kim Kardashian combined, he’s a jurnalist, a writer, a hero (volunteer firemen), a husband, a dad… AND now?

Now he’s a talented filmmaker.

Yep. I didn’t believe it either. I’ll give you a moment to let it sink in.


You all good? Then we’ll continue.

Here now, for your viewing… I’ll guess we’ll go with “pleasure” (?), is “Terminator: Nedisys”.

Enjoy it. Bask in its “originality”. Let it become a part of your very existence.

Just don’t blame me.

One last word about Ned: I often needle him (newsflash: I can be a bit of a dick sometimes), but the truth is, as a volunteer fireman Ned Hickson is the guy running to the danger rather than from it. For that reason alone, he’ll always be my hero.

Plus, he’s always lending me cash to support my comic/Dr. Pepper addiction.

See in the multiplex, kids…



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The Hook’s Love of Comics: The Secret Origin.

Here, for your reading “pleasure”, is another Pulp Nation/Hook crossover.

Not sure exactly what to say about this one; it’s deeply personal, but that’s only because the list of things I’m truly passionate about is very short.

  1. The wife.
  2. The family in general.
  3. My writing.
  4. Comic books.
  5. Bacon.
  6. Anything wrapped in bacon.
  7. Ned Hickson’s mustache.
  8. Murdoch Mysteries.

To be clear, I’ve never been passionate with Ned’s ‘stache.

That would just be weird.

At any rate, here’s the link. The rest is up to you , friends.

Thank you.



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Was I Hooked On Jurassic World?

So I bit the bullet (much like a T-Rex biting into a hapless lab tech) and decided to see Chris Pratt flex his Star-Lord muscles in Jurassic World last night.

If you haven’t seen the TV commercials or movie trailers, the Dairy Queen tie-in commercials or any of the gazillion other marketing tools being employed to hype this thing, then you’ve obviously been in the womb and you can’t read anyway, so why am I addressing you?

But just in case…

Here’s the premise: Scientists who specialize in genetic engineering – but clearly not history – decide to set up shop on an island filled with dinosaurs left over from three previous movies. They even cross-breed dinos to create a new species intended to be the main attraction in a theme park.

The new dinosaur promptly escapes, thus endangering twenty-thousand guests and giving Chris Pratt an excuse to ride a motorcycle really fast through the jungle while flirting with the hauntingly-beautiful park administrator (who has a dinosaur bone up her gorgeous butt), Bryce Dallas Howard.

Clear as dino droppings, right? Then we’ll continue.

I headed into this movie with no expectations. After putting up a kidney as collateral so I could score a wheelbarrow of popcorn and a bladder-buster keg of Coke, that is. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t my kidney; I’m a bellman, I know a guy.) So now the big (Idominus Rex big) question is… was it worth it?


On Earth-One, I ignored the ridiculousness of the movie logic that guided Bryce Dallas Howard and Co. as they ignored the events of the three previous films and rebuilt a dinosaur-inhabited theme park on Isla Nublar. Right beside the old theme park, rather than over it. I loved all the dino-on-dino action (the battles, perverts), and I even laughed out loud at the fate of a two-dimensional, super-hot British corporate assistant who was bounced from pterosaur to pteosaur like a chew toy, before being gobbled up by the biggest sea-dino in movie land. All in all, Earth-One Me was pleased with the rehash of Jurassic Park (the wonder of the dinosaurs as presented through two teens’ eyes, the inevitable breakdown of park safety protocols and the narrow escapes), and he felt satisfied with the overall package.

And Earth-Prime Me? Well…

I didn’t mind the fact Chris Pratt’s character was just Star-Lord on Earth. I was cool with Bryce Dallas Howard’s lack of character development. The kids were fine and a great throwback to the first film. The dino battles were cool  – and ridiculously brutal. And I was overjoyed to see one of my favorite actors of all time, the impossibly-cute/sexy Judy Greer pop up in the bewildered mom role. (Though she was horribly under-utilized.)


Seriously? You’re not using me? The Hook certainly would!

On a personal note: the guy/pig in me couldn’t suppress his joy at seeing two of the hottest females alive, Judy Greer and Bryce Dallas Howard, embracing near the end of the film. Even though their characters were sisters.

Told you I was a pig. I’ve learned to accept my inner horndog. Wish my wife would…

But I wasn’t on the edge of my seat like I was way back when. The franchise may have run its course. Jurassic World has made a ton of scratch, but its no Age of Ultron.

Still, if you love action flicks, Pratt and Howard, and dino battles, you’ll be in Seventh Heaven.

On any planet in the Multiverse.


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Don’t do as I drink (and other lessons my father unintentionally taught me)

The Hook:

Read this and be resist the urge to tear up. I dare you.
Well done, Ned. Well done.

Originally posted on Ned's Blog:

My father at age 48, the same age as I am. My father at age 48, the same age as I am now. My father and I were never very close. I resented him and his influence in my life for many years; he was abusive and an alcoholic who died 20 years ago today. It wasn’t until I became a father that I began to see him differently and, over time, forgave him enough to recognize the things he’d taught me through his own bad example. Even if only unintentionally, he is partially the reason I’m who I am today — as person, a man and a father.

It’s also because of him that I understand and appreciate the difference between the three.

What follows is something I wrote a couple of years ago for the now defunct blog “Black Box Warnings.” Given that the 20th anniversary of my father’s death falls on Father’s Day this year, I felt the…

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My Childhood Wasn’t Exactly The Wonder Years…

The hurly-burly, wing-dingy activity that is the hallmark of summertime in Niagara Falls has begun. Today alone, I’ve seen a cat shoved in a suitcase, two hookers dressed as Sailor Moon (one poor girl was big enough to have her own gravity), and a bachelorette party comprised of ten of the only living brain donors in medical history.

All before noon.

On the plus side,  I ascended twenty feet up a ladder yesterday to begin painting my evil lair. (Which the wife insists upon referring to as “our home”.) I’m happy to report all went well; the ladder shook like Kanye West at an awards show and my arm is sore from holding the paint can while slapping on the latest layer of make-up to my HQ, but otherwise, I made it back down under my own steam rather than by the power of gravity and my own “luck”.

The onset of summer coupled with working outdoors for once rather than within the concrete walls of a hotel has filled me with an unbelievably powerful wave of nostalgia. I remember a bright, scorcher-of-a-summer day, much like a million that preceded it. As usual, I was on my own; I had plenty of friends at school but outside the prison walls, I was flying solo.

Ironically, “flying solo”, meant hanging out in a abandoned Ford pickup, which the neighborhood kids dubbed “Big Red”, in a ginormous field that adjoined my childhood home in St. Catharines, Ontario. The windshield and windows had been removed for maximum comfort – and target practice – and the tires had been deflated long ago. It became a suburban relic, parked between civilization and what remained of the countryside. To a kid, it was ridiculously cool.

This is the stuff that childhood dreams are made of, friends.

Granted, these days I’d never let my kid anywhere near an abandoned truck in the middle of a field, where no one can hear you scream, even if it was close to our house. But it was the Seventies and people were secure in their illusion of safety. We actually thought civilization was populated by civilized individuals.

But I digest.

One fine day, in the middle of the afternoon, while I was sitting in Big Red doing nothing (it was glorious), a thought occurred to me.

“What would go great with an afternoon devoted to reading a stack of comics, listening to a transistor radio and slurping down a small cooler of Coke? I know! Popcorn!”

Of course, there were a few problems.

  1. I was in a truck.
  2. In a field.

And so I was stumped. Temporarily. Until another thought hit me.

“We have a new popcorn maker at home! And miles of extension cords in the garage! And we even have popcorn!”

And so I indulged my inner mad genius and set out to pop me some corn. After raiding the kitchen and stringing together several extension cords into something from a firefighter’s nightmare and plugging into our garage outlet, that is. And yes, kids, this is long before the golden age of mankind when microwave popcorn was created. Or, for that matter, the microwave.

At any rate, I filled the popcorn maker’s reservoir, activated the machine and the field’s silence was shattered by the mechanical whir of man’s genius.

My plan worked perfectly – but not fast enough to satisfy my boyhood hunger. Fortunately, I had another brainstorm.

“I need something to really get things popping! I got it… Dad’s barbecue lighter fluid would do the trick!”

This keeps getting better, right? Well, buckle up, we’ve barely started.

The latest portion of my plan had a wrinkle to be ironed out. I acquired the lighter fluid easily enough, but even though they were out for the day, my parents’ rules were still in effect. I was forbidden to use matches.

Luckily, my parents never said anything about my dad’s welding torch.


I couldn’t possibly drag the torch out to the field so I located a thin piece of wood, covered it’s tip in rags, lit that up and carried it out to Big Red like some refugee from Lord of the Flies.

You read that right.

So I poured the fluid on the popcorn (you’re cringing, aren’t you?), dipped the flame from my makeshift torch in the reservoir… and then reality decided to rain on my parade.  In an isntant it was time to play Johnny Blaze, Junior Firefighter. So I ran back to the garage and found something to smother the flames. Thank Dog for Dad’s giant stack of Playboy magazines.

Told you this would keep getting better.

And nightmares.

Remember, the popcorn maker was still plugged in and I had a bottle of lighter fluid right beside it in the cab of the truck. When my efforts failed I was forced to resort to one last tactic. The garden hose wouldn’t reach so I grabbed my father’s emergency supply of beer (after finally unplugging the popcorn maker), and headed out to put everything right. Unfortunately, I sucked at handling a bottle opener but I made due and extinguished the truck-encased bonfire within minutes.

All’s well that ends well, right?

Okay, so maybe not. In the end, my parents (the ultimate buzz-kills) drafted a new, comprehensive set of rules to govern my behavior when they were away – which was still a lot. Not that the new edicts helped much; I was a scamp, through and through. Luckily, the neighborhood kids rather liked the new scent that filled Big Red.

It was a mix of musty magazines, barbecue, popcorn and childhood dreams. 

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Another Pulp Nation/Hook Crossover.

They’ve done it again; against their better judgement, no doubt.

The nerd overlords at Pulp Nation have let that over-sized man-child known across the blogosphere and the hospitality industry (not to mention numerous TripAdvisor posts) as The Hook dabble in their regular-sized sandbox. Again.

And fandom was never the same again…

But seriously, as an amateur comic/blogger/nerd, I’m always searching for a way to combine my passions. And since the wife refuses to don a vintage Lynda Carter era Wonder Woman costume, I feel even more fortunate that Mistress Fate intertwined my path with that of the Drew Comerford, Paul Tappay, Chriss Biggs, and Grant Plata. They’re good people.

With questionable judgement, of course.

At any rate, as a public service and gift to humanity, here’s a handy guide to holding a conversation with a comic book nerd.

You’re welcome.



See you on the streets of Pulp Nation, kids…

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Ay Yi Yi… Bang Bang!

She had four feet to my six-and-a-half.

She had a crimson hue to her skin and hailed from Mexico, while I am a proud Canuck whose outer covering is whiter than Brooke Shields.

She was sad to leave the hotel, while I look forward to the end of every day with all the glee of a super-villain with an atom bomb.

We were a match made in H-E-double-hockey-sticks, and yet, she threw her arms around me as soon as I entered her suite.

MEXICAN SPITFIRE:  Oh, Mr. Robert! I don’t want to leave here! Don’t make me go!

ME:  It’s really not up to me, miss. I’m not from Immigration!

MS:  (Doubled over with laughter.)  Oh, you’re so funny, Mr. Robert! You want these dogs? They’re Shih Tzus, they have all their papers! My Italian husband and I went through Hell to bring them to Canada from America! They’re more legal than you and I!

ME:  Well, than me, at least.

MS:  Oh, Mr. Robert! But seriously, you want a dog? I’ve had a wonderful time here all week, but yesterday was a nightmare! I peed myself on the jet boat… told my husband I can’t stand the water, but he didn’t care! He’s Italian and so his temper is legendary! He and I cursed at everyone on the boat, especially the captain! I’m a wreck! You want a dog?

ME:  Uh… you lost me halfway, but I made it back… and… no.

MS:  (Hugging me again.)  Oh, Mr. Robert!

Well, that was my morning.

How was yours?

I couldn’t get the darn dogs to sign a release, so…

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