My cousin had this arcade game in his basement called Satan’s Hollow. On the side, it had this huge demon with extended wings holding a globe. In the game, you’re in a spaceship and you shoot these goblin things and the goal is to build this bridge to this castle. And after each level you fight this big demon character that is manifested in different names for the devil. So in one round you fight Beelzebub and another would be Lucifer and another would be like Mephistopheles. They scared the shit out of me when I was a kid.
When I was a kid, from somewhere in elementary school to early high school, my grandparents, Hank and Helen, used to take my younger brother, Noah, and I out to dinner on Saturday nights. When I say “nights” I mean 5 pm, which was not as freakish to me then as it is now since my family often ate dinner between 4 and 5 due to my dad having to work a 4-to-midnight shift.
Dinner with my grandparents was mostly had at Hardee’s*—whose sibling Carl’s Jr. some of you may know—followed by grocery shopping at Copps Food Center, where Noah and I would be entitled to a small gift. Until about 12, for me, that small gift was a pack of baseball/basketball/football cards. Then it was Rolling Stone or Spin mags.
Sometimes, during the summer mostly, between dinner and Copps, would be a trip to Field’s Restaurant for ice cream. Their coolers** were stocked with every flavor of Cedar Crest ice cream you could dream of. After Noah and I got 2 or 3 scoops of Cookies & Cream or Blue Moon or Bubblegum on a waffle cone, we’d play the arcade game they had in a corner of the dining area. They had one of those sit-down, tabletop units. For awhile it was Galaga, a hell of a game. Later, it was Satan’s Hollow, which was truly a hell of a game.
I am not a gamer. At all. But goddamn if I didn’t put my initials all over the HISCORE list of Satan’s Hollow, blasting missile-spitting green dragons and Satan (who was nothing but a head with a small right arm—tiny pitchfork clutched in hand—coming out of his ear) vomiting columns of flame down on my spaceship or Popemobile or whatever vehicle I was sliding back-and-forth in. I was even good enough to eat Bubblegum ice cream—which required removing the colored Chiclets from the frozen treat, with my mouth, and spitting them onto a napkin so that, after finishing the ice cream, I could pile them all back into my mouth and chew them till they ran out of flavor in 2 minutes—while I played.
Unlike Rich Samis, this game did not scare the shit out of me when I was a kid. No, that honor went to Jack Van Impe Presents, the show by televangelist Dr. Jack Van Impe and his wife, Rexella, which my dad, who is big into theology, would sometimes watch, Van Impe’s warnings of the coming Apocalypse—based on news items like Israel and Palestine battling it out on the Gaza Strip—roaring from the living room into my bedroom while I pointlessly tried to sleep with Armageddon on the brain. But that’s another story.
There’s probably a cosmic connection between Satan’s Hollow players, which is probably one of the reasons I like The Men so much.
*The Frisco Burger or Roast Beef & Cheddar, with curly fries, being my go-tos. Later on in high school, when my friends and I would speed to Hardee’s during our brief lunch hour, I—well, all of us—developed a hell of a case of gut rot from ole Hardee’s.
**They also had coolers filled with varieties of cheeses, often in the shape of cows, Packers helmets, and airplanes, our local mascots.