Friday, October 21, 2016

Rockford Poetry Publisher Zombie Logic Press Celebrates Twenty Year Anniversary

Rockford, Illinois, was recently named the most dangerous city in America with a population under 200,000 by F.B.I. statistics, overtaking Little Rock Arkansas. In the geographic center of this city's most dangerous neighborhood sits what NPR has called "America's most dangerous small press," Zombie Logic Press. 

That press is celebrating it's 20th year in continuous operation on October 31st.

Founded in 1996 by publisher Thomas L. Vaultonburg. Zombie Logic Press was created initially to self-publish the poetry of Thomas L. Vaultonburg, but eventually branched out to include the periodical Zombie Logic Review, which publishes Outsider, Outlaw, Surrealist and Dad poetry, and lately the works of Rockford writers in its Rock River Literary Series. So far books have been published by Jesus Correa, C.J. Campbell, and Dennis Gulling. 

When Vaultonburg decided to locate in Downtown Rockford, very few businesses were willing to open up space on the area, and most of the citizens were terrified to go there. Many historic building were left to rot as property speculators were content to just watch them collapse until the government gave them money to gentrify them. 

But not Vaultonburg. The poet responsible for books such as Flesh Wounds, Concave Buddha, Submerged Structure, and Detached Retinas, felt right at home in the Downtown area. After years of publishing internationally noted poets at Zombie Logic Review, Vaultonburg joined forces with Olivia Suchs to create a seconds online literary journal, Outsider Poetry, which gives voice to the self-trained, mentally ill, and marganilized creators odf the world.

Concave Buddha by Thomas L. Vaultonburg

Being in the vanguard of resurgances is nothing new for the maverick publisher, who enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17, received his B.S. in Psychology from Rockford College. 

Even though most of the businesses he sees around him are coming and going faster than the time it takes to learn their name, Vaultonburg says Zombie Logic Press is here to stay, and plans to publish 2 books by Rockford writers every year.  Pin It

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Time I Have Left Here

I remember a few weeks after I moved into this apartment which has become Zombie Logic Press headquarters I had just been homeless after putting everything I had into a business that had failed. But this afternoon fortune had smiled on me. I had a pot of beans and even a pork hock to put in them. I was watching a movie called The Northfield Cemetery Massacre on a computer and network adapter Jenny had given me. I was getting a free internet signal from one of the restaurants I live behind, and on occasion the signal was strong enough to actually get internet. 

I felt incredibly grateful for all of those things. That was almost eight years ago now. The Downtown building I had moved into was dilapidated and at the center of what is now the most dangerous neighborhood in the most violent city in America under 200,000 people.

I had no furniture, no luxuries, and everything I did have was given to me.

Undaunted by the FBI statistics that I was in the most dangerous neighborhood in America, I went for long walks at night. I felt mighty. Maybe even impervious. I had this belief that I was the most dangerous beast roaming the streets. 

Eight years later things have changed in amazing ways. This afternoon my biggest challenge was trying to find space on a book shelf for some new Thriller Videos that had come in. 

Gentrification has eventually spread to my block and even has started creeping down the street the people who are buying buildings on would never even have gotten out of their cars before. Soon I anticipate I will be asked to leave. 

And that will be fine with me. I like to start things not jump on bandwagons. 

This place has meant a lot to me. The crazy scenes I have seen at one of the busiest intersections in town. The scenes of restaurant workers coming and going in an alley behind five restaurants and bars. The homeless and mentally ill characters discharged from the shelter and the treatment center every morning to wander the streets. 

I would consider finding a way to buy it and officially put my logo out on the facade, but even in my apartment the floors sag towards the middle of the room, and I suspect the wiring, plumbing, and boiler are all on the way out. 

All of these things would be beyond my ability to fix, and I suspect I am not the type of insider that the current owner is that such things would not go unpunished by the building inspectors. 

So, on nights like this  I try to wring as much as I can out of the time I have left here.  Pin It

Friday, October 7, 2016

Shadmocks, Mocks, and Humghouls

Roy Ward Baker directed many movies, and R Chetwynd Hayes wrote many books, but The Monster Club is the movie where the talent of these two British horror meisters intersected. Although maligned for a long time as cheesy and not scary at all, The Monster Club has in past years begun to receive the credit it deserves as a fun and well-crafted entry into the horror anthology genre.

The Monster Club, based on the book of short stories of the same name by Hayes, weaves three stories of semi-gruesome horror around performances by contemporary British bands in a subterranean club being attended by Vincent Price and John Carradine.

Carradine, Price, Pleasance, Chetwynd Hayes and Roy Ward Baker. Critics of this movie were always off base. If the criticism is it wasn't scary the proper response is so what. It was meant for a broad television audience. It most definitely is PG13 at worst and in my opinion appropriate to watch with your family at Halloween. Cheesy? So what? If you're not familiar enough with Vincent Price's work enough to know that 99% of his performances were cheesy then you shouldn't be offering an opinion in the first place.

Most American audiences who hadn't rented it on video saw The Monster Club for the first time on Elvira's Movie Macabre on the evening of Feb 6, 1983. It was episode 66. That's when I saw it. We all learned a lot about monsterdom from this movie.

We learned that there are the primate monsters, vampires, ghouls, and werewolves, but we also learned that these primate monsters interbreed, creating hybrid monsters, and that these hybrids also interbreed with the primate monsters, other hybrids, and even humans. Price says "The results are almost always disastrous, but they will do it." 

"What do they do?" Carradine rejoins, and Price launches into the setup for the first story, about a lonely creature called a Shadmock that isn't scary in any real way except one...

Shadmocks, Mocks, and Humghouls from The Monster Club

Two of the three stories involve Shadmock and Humghouls, two of the lowest creatures in the monster hierarchy. Humghouls seem to have even less powers than a Shadmock. None in fact according to the third story. Perhaps they enjoy a little human flesh once in a while, but they get that from the ghoul side of the family. 

All three stories in The Monster Club are entertaining, but what is even more entertaining about this movie is the music, the set up interludes where Price and Carradine speak, and the soundtrack. With the success of the Netflix show Stranger Things, and a resurgence in interest in electronic music, fans of this musical genre will want to check out Alan Hawkshaw's songs here, including Ghoul's Galore. 

Those who have bad-wrapped The Monster Club in the past should give it another chance, and all fans of horror should definitely give it a first chance.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

There Are Stranger Things Than Dungeons and Dragons

There are stranger things in this world than Dungeons and Dragons, but in the small town I grew up in there didn't seem to be in 1983. It was the height of the Satanic Panic, and the Devil was everywhere. 

That summer my cousin Jeff had been staying at our house because he couldn't get along with his abusive father, and a couple of times his friend Brett came over to stay with us, too. He brought his Dungeons and Dragons books and we played a few rudimentary campaigns that he made up spontaneously. He was a brilliant person. Nerdy. The total opposite of my cousin Jeff who was a born con man and charmer. He was a year older than me, and my favorite cousin. Just full of it. The two of them seemed liked the most mismatched friends of all time.

As far as Dungeons and Dragons: I was hooked from the beginning. That first time I saw the Efreet on the Dungeon Master's Guide my imagination was unlocked. I always was fascinated with mythology and was just starting to become obsessed with horror movies, and it was the first season of Elvira's Movie Macabre, and all of this coalesced to ensure I wouldn't be able to show any interest in my first year of high school.

Dungeon Master's Guide first edition

The second time Brett stayed for the weekend he left me his Dungeon Master's guide and several modules. Actually, I traded them for a nudie magazine I had stolen from my uncle. It was the best trade I ever made.

I was so obsessed with studying my tomes that I had no time for school and barely knew all my friends had joined the Cross Country team. The coach tracked me and my friend Royal down and asked us if we were interested. We said we didn't know, and his quote was "Well, it's time to shit or get off the pot." We decided to shit because our friends were on the team, and group of friends I would keep through my high school experience was formed.

Royal was familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, but the rest were newbies. Their interest was tepid, but we'd meet in basements on the weekends when we could and Royal usually did the honors of Dungeon Mastering.

Then we made the mistake of trying to play after practice night in the school commissary. Retribution was swift and absolute. Not only was Dungeons and Dragons banned from the school, but a committe was formed and dozens of books removed from the library. 

People were honestly scared. The Attorney General had formed a commission to investigate Satanic Ritual Abuse in America, which according to Geraldo Rivera was rampant. 

But this only drove us underground. We started to expand our circle and fall in with some of the older guys on the Cross Country, who also were, surprise, surprise, Dungeons and Dragons nerds. Many of the kids I knew then went on to be very wealthy in fields such as computers and even entertainment. There was a small hobby shop next to the Ben Franklin called Claire's, and she carried a nice variety of Dungeons and Dragons products. My collection grew, and by today's standards was very impressive and valuable. 

It was a junior named David who was the ring leader now, and we'd try to organize sleepovers whenever we could to play. But mostly we talked about playing. And really deep stuff. It's interesting talking really deep stuff with adolescents who mostly go on to be supra geniuses.

Then the books disappeared. Someone had gotten to my mother, who was in the early stages of becoming very ill, and also in the early stages of becoming very religious, and explained to her how Dungeons and Dragons was a gateway to Satanism. I came home one night and my books were gone. 

I guess I slowly got into other things. Sports. Horror. I was till a long ways away from being able to attract the attention of girls, so I moved on and read a lot. 

Then at a cross country meet three years later I heard that Brett had committed suicide with a shotgun the previous summer. He also was a cross country runner. He never made it to eighteen years old, but I can say he had an impact on my life. It was so important in that Revenge of the Nerds 80's America that I knew there were others who shared the desire to get out, to explore other realities and interests without being persecuted, which we were mercilessly, even though we were jocks.

At least I was. The others were smart enough to drop it the moment they were confronted with the taunting. I don't blame them for that at all. Most of the time I wish I had, too. Lived out those two years of high school in what really was and still is an idyllic place, at least for those who knuckled under and didn't make waves. At least back then.

A while ago I was searching for information on some of the guys from that Dungeons and Dragons group, and saw almost all had really made it. They hadn't careened out of control like Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters, or lost touch with reality at all. They seemed to be the ones creating the new reality we now all live in. Computers and games and virtual reality. I was happy for them

Except David. He was the quietest, most pensive of the group. He had bushy hair and looked like an overgrown Hobbit. His family lived on a large farm, and it must have been a shock to them that he had fallen so far from the tree. He had joined the Marines after getting an advanced degree in nuclear engineering and joined the for lack of a better term, and this was how it was termed in the obituary I read, germ warfare program. He died of cancer a couple of years ago. It's hard to say if Dungeons and Dragons continued to be a part of his life. It wasn't much a part of mine until recently. It seems there is a resurgence of interest  with shows like Stranger Things. 

I'm guessing and hoping it's a lot safer to play Dungeons and Dragons in the open now. I never got my books back, but I have new ones now. The one I would trade them all for is the one Brett gave me when I was a new teenager all those years ago. Unlike all those other guys in the group I did go through hard years, long stretches of trying to find myself. I've landed on my feet solidly and prefer reality to fantasy by wide margin now because the last few years have been a fantasy come true. 

In October these gates open, and I want to thank Brett and David for leading the way for me. Introducing me to not only a game, but a way of approaching life that is not by the book: challenging the untruths and stereotypes people try to impose on us if we diverge from the beaten path. 
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Thriller Video: The Human Duplicators

The Human Duplicators is on Ebay for the first time in the four years that I have collected Thriller Videos hosted by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. I have never seen the movie, and it's unlikely I'll watch it on this tape as the bidding is already at $76.00 with an entire week left in the auction.

The box design of the Human Duplicators is one of twoI know of that differ from the other 21 boxes in the series. The other is Natas:The Reflection. 

The back of the box isn't much different from the other videos in the series. This copy, the only one I've ever seen, appears to be in good shape. The movie is about an alien from a distant galaxy who comes to Earth to take over by creating an army of zombies shaped like pottery. I guess that description sounds kind of interesting, but I doubt I'll rush out and try to find a way to watch it after this. 

The movie was released in 1965, and I see Hugh Beaumont is in the cast. How awesome is that? Probably not 150-250 dollars worth, which is what I estimate this video will go for. 

The Human Duplicators on VHS

Between VHS and Beta versions, I have 21 of the 46 movies released on Thriller Video and hosted by Elvira. My favorites are The Monster Club and The Silent Scream. Many of them come from episodes of Hammer House of Horrors, which was a one hour television series, so they had to pad those with additional footage. The Silent Scream was actually one of those episodes, as well as The Thirteenth Reunion and Guardian of the Abyss. These are generally high quality stories and well-written and acted. 

Almost all the movies in this series are PG13 or tamer, and Elvira refused to host any movies that had graphic violence or animal cruelty, but as I type that I realize the topic of The Silent Scream was animal cruelty. Nonetheless, the movies are all rather harmless and good fun. The Monster Club is no doubt the most fun movie in the series. I'll write an update about this video in seven days.
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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Raise Your Hand If You're Not a Christian Conservative

My hand is also raised
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Friday, September 30, 2016

The Halloween III Of Outsider Poetry

I resisted the urge to buy a VHS copy of the original MCA Rainbow release of Halloween III and the 1987 re-release. It was a nice deal, and I'd really like these tapes, but they fall into an odd category as far as collecting or just having to watch. They're not collectible grade, per se, but they're too expensive to feel good about putting into a VCR I bought for $4.99 at Goodwill.

Also, I'm never sure why anyone who talks about Halloween III has to explain that Michael Myers is not in the movie. For me it's the best Halloween movie of the series. Actually, it's the only one I've ever seen, or will see, because slasher movies don't appeal to me in the least.

This afternoon I'm trying to do a self-install of my ATT equipment so I can switch my internet over from Comcast, which I am ambivalent about because Comcast is one of the few services in my life that actually works for me, but they insist on charging me too much, and trying to creep that charge up to nearly $100/month every time I take my eyes off them. Still waiting for the lights to go green on my ATT router.

Jenny gave me a cone-shaped vacuum, and when I look at it charging it looks like a witch's hat.

I have two different brands of computers, and they have the delete button in different places, which causes me more trouble than it should any rational person who is able to adjust to his surroundings.

I have watched The Beast Must Die over twenty times in September, and I still can't tell you who the werewolf is. Last night I watched All the Colors of the Dark and Daughters of Satan and found both entertaining with the sound off. 

I organized all my outsider poems for the next book last week. It turns out I've only written about 75 poems in ten years. Most of them I didn't consider very good.

Several of my wide receivers in fantasy football have turned up lame this week. You never have enough wide receivers in fantasy football these days. I went with the wide receivers in early rounds strategy, and still they are dropping like flies and I get beaten by Marvin Jones. 

That's the way it is.
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