Earning a Tip of the Hat. The Authors Collection.


A FEW WEEKS AGO, an author friend asked my advice on naming a character. I suggested the surname of a character from the movie, Plan 9 From Outer Space.

She liked the name and asked if it would be permissible to use the same name as another artist’s character. My response, “Sure. Tarantino does it all the time. Using Creswell’s name would be a nice ‘tip-of-the-hat’ to Ed Wood.”

Hat tipping has a long interesting history.

From Wikipedia: “A hat tip is an act of tipping or (especially in British English) doffing one’s hat as a cultural expression of recognition, respect, gratitude, greeting, or simple salutation and acknowledgement between two persons.


In Western societies of the 19th and early 20th centuries, a hat tip was a common non-verbal greeting between friends or acquaintances while walking on a sidewalk or meeting at a social gathering. Typically, two men (female hat tipping was rare) would lift or tip their hats to each other, rather than exchange words of greeting. Where the ritual was used to emphasize social distance, the subordinate was obliged to make the more elaborate gesture, for example fully removing his hat while the superior merely touched his. The military hand salute is thought to have originated as a stylized hat tip; while the civilian may return a salute via a hat tip. In its modern use, the hat tip has been replaced by the nod as a manner of respect. If one man gives another the nod, he should return in kind with either the casual nod up or the formal nod down.”

A few examples are in order.

From a review of The Presidents Club, “One of theorists’ favorite topics, the Kennedy assassination, “celebrates” its fiftieth anniversary this year (what were you doing when Kennedy was assassinated?) and Etier gives a brief tip of the hat to that dreadful moment in history, as well as to some of the theories that have been circulated.”

Several examples of salutes to other artists in The Tourist Killer:

  • Challenger hesitated a moment. Farrell broke the ice with a comment and said with a smile, “Don’t worry, I won’t sneak up behind you and hit you in the head with a baseball bat.” Everyone chuckled and Challenger relaxed. (Homage to the 1987 movie, The Untouchables.)
  • “Sports Illustrated buried the story of the most recent celebrity endorsement we cancelled. The annual swimsuit edition is all the rage now and seems to be more popular than Jesus Christ.” (recognizing John Lennon’s famous comment.)
  • He was a murderer.   She thought, I’m surprised they didn’t blame him for Michael Jackson, too.
  • “I think I invented the expression, ‘three dog night’,” he replied with a laugh.

“The band?”.

He shook his head, “When it’s cold, I have to sleep with all three of my dogs

to stay warm—especially if the electric blanket ain’t workin’.”

From a review I wrote of ChimerasPresius is the kind of man, that if I were a woman—wait, that was Louie’s line from Casablanca.

Newspapers, books, movies, most media venues often pay homage to other artists with “winks” and a “tip o’ the hat.” A recording artist once said that you hadn’t really made it until Weird Al had done a parody of your work.

Maybe one day, I’ll be on the receiving end of a “hat tip.”

What a nice compliment.

Please click the book cover image to read more about FCEtier and his novels.

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