Meeting Svengoolie at the Chicago Ghost Con

Thanks to everybody who came out to the Chicago Ghost Conference today at Schurz High School. I signed some books, like QUALIA NOUS, CHIRAL MAD, and LOST IN THE WITCHING HOUR (I did particularly well with that one) … and while I deeply appreciate each and every sale, one new reader in particular walked out of there with a copy of LOSING TOUCH that I’ll never, ever forget:

Rubber chicken? Check. LOSING TOUCH? Check.

Rubber chicken? Check. LOSING TOUCH? Check.

I started watching Svengoolie in 1979 when he was the “son” of the original “Sven”, Jerry G. Bishop, who originated the character as the host of Screaming Yellow Theater from 1970-1973. Rich Koz revived the act in 1979 as the “Son of Svengoolie” and hosted the program until 1986 when it was canceled by the newly-created Fox Network (c’mon Fox–you had one job: to not cancel Svengoolie!)

By then I had absorbed years of corny jokes, schlocky sketches, and groan-inducing song parodies–and I loved every single minute of it. It wasn’t until I was in college, maybe, that I realized that there was nothing inherently funny about the city of Berwyn, or block after block of its brick, two-story bungalows. (My kids, who watch with me now, probably don’t even realize that Berwyn is a real place.)

The kids love their new Svengoolie shirts.

The kids love their new Svengoolie shirts.

Weigel Broadcasting brought the show back in 1994, when the “son” became the Sven in name and in fact. Then, in 2011, Sven went national on the MeTV network, and the rest is history. But every time I watch that show–with my kids–I’m watching it all over again with my mom on Saturday afternoons. And now good ole’ Sven has a copy of LOSING TOUCH to go with his greasepaint mustache and rubber chicken.

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