Saturday, May 27, 2017

I've Made Something Nobody Wants, and That Makes Me Extremely Happy

I have once again made something absolutely nobody wants, and this makes me extremely happy.

It's a book.


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

My Hot Wheels Redline Alive 55 Lemon Yellow Chevy Nomad

For over two years I had this Hot Wheel on my Ebay queue. But I never had the chutzpah to make an offer I thought the seller would accept. In that two years I probably only saw a handful even close to it sell. For some reason I really wanted this one.

When I was in single digits my friend Brad down the street had the best Hot Wheels collection on any kid in town. We didn't so much play with his Hot Wheels as we gave audience to them. Sure, me and my brother had many Hot Wheels, but we had a nasty habit of actually playing with them. And they often met tragic ends. Many an avalanche of boulders claimed one of our even most prized Hot Wheels.

Because they were only a dollar. Less than a dollar. You got them on your birthday. You always got one for gift exchange at school. They weren't considered special or something to be treasured. They were toys to be played with.

Little did I know somewhere out there were many kids like Brad who thought differently about their Hot Wheels. I thank them now for being such good curators of these cultural artifacts.

The first day we got our baseball mitts my brother and I were out the door and didn't have much time for any toys after that. But a few years ago I just had this desire to start collecting redline Hot Wheels.

Lemon yellow Hot Wheels Alive 55 redline

All Alive 55's were made in Hong Kong. 

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Three New Letters From Atrocious Poems A To Z

Just mowed the back lawn with our old-fashioned push mower. Now I'm going to post a few new poems from my new book Atrocious Poems A To Z.


Gravity is a force
That remains my enemy.
When it broke my grandma's
Antique vase I tried
To explain it was the true villain,
Not me.
However witnesses swore
It was my hand that bore
The vase to the floor,
And no one even saw Gravity.

In poetry, an apostrophe is a figure of speech in which the poet addresses an absent person, an abstract idea, or a thing. Apostrophes are found throughout poetry, but they're less common since the early 20th century.


Haircuts are always
A gamble.
You amble in
And a stranger begins
Chopping your hair
Without pre-amble.

If you manage
To survive this, 
And don't end up
Hairless, your
Friends will probably
Still laugh and dis.


You jinxed me, Jack,
When you stomped that crack.
Now my luck's turned kablooey,
And I'm harumphy and achooey.
A zipper has snagged my hair,
And a chihuahua's chased
Me from the comfy chair.
It's quite clear, methinks,
My Jack, you're a jinx.

Onomatopoeia is the formation of a word, such as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.

The book is here. And it looks great. But we still have a few days left in our pre-order campaign and no one has seen it. It will be debuted at the Rockford Art Museum June 9th. 

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Am Rockford History

In a Midwestern city not too far away in a future far, far from now, Zombie Logic Press became part of Rockford history

The only issue I have is the story is dated 2907, and while I might not mind living a 1000 year life, I'm not sure I want to do it in Rockford, or after a trump administration. One of my conciliations is that I never believed I would live until fifty, and I as I approach fifty it's certainly no certainty I'll get there. This latest book is meaning more and more to me the more I think of it.

Before my heart surgery I really didn't make a lot of preparations for my death. A few. I signed a power of attorney form and destroyed some old journals I didn't think anyone would want to or need to read, but I just couldn't do it. Almost four years later I still haven't prepared for my death, even though the realistic odds of it happening at any time are 1,000 times greater than yours.

When Jasper was younger I'd be with him and I'd think "If I died now I wonder if he'd remember me." It was always a constant reminder to be who and what I'd want him to remember me as if I didn't have all the time I wanted to create those memories with him.

Now he makes books more complex than the one I'm about to release. And the twelve year old has written two novels.

He made a functioning pop up book all by himself. 

Finishing off Atrocious Poems A To Z was difficult for me. I didn't really have the energy or vigot I needed to drive it home, but I did my best. And maybe I'll still get a couple more cracks at it.

Buy your copy of Atrocious Poems A To Z 

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Unfinished Business: The Story of Atrocious Poems A To Z

In Gestalt Psychology there is a clinical term called "unfinished business." Unfinished business is defined as the unexpressed feelings that are associated with distinct memories and fantasies. These feelings may be resentment, rage, hatred, pain, anxiety, grief , guilt, and abandonment that are not fully experienced in awareness, linger in the background, and are carried into the present life and cause preoccupations, compulsive behaviors, wariness, and other self- defeating behaviors. Unfinished business will persist until the person faces and deals with these denied or alienated feelings.

For me one source of unfinished business was always the children's book we were tasked with writing and illustrating in my fifth grade class at Mary Morgan Grade School in Byron, Illinois. One would think someone who later went on to become a writer and publisher out of love for the written and printed word would have been excited about such a project, but I was not. I do not know what all-important things I did to distract myself the weeks before the book came due, but two days from the deadline I had almost nothing written. Having almost no ideas at the time that didn't revolve around playing baseball or watching monster movies, I decided to do what I thought was easiest and most rudimentary concept: an A To Z book. Just fill in the empty spaces with whatever nonsense came to mind, right?

I set off to work, and a couple days later had finished my first book, The Monster Dictionary. Complete with illustrations that I put about as much effort into as the poems. And it showed. So much so that after being generous and giving me a B grade, my teacher penned this note, and this is where the Unfinished Business began...

"B. Not colored. Excellent ideas! if you would have put more effort into this project; the school could have sent this idea on to the Library of Congress."

I leave her misapplication of the semicolon in for historic authenticity.

Being lazy and unambitious is something I've always been good at, and it's never bothered me too much, but something about that note kept coming back to haunt me. It wasn't so much that I hadn't made an effort, it was more that I did eventually become a writer, and a publisher, and I felt like I owed it to myself to give this project the effort it deserved. 

The poems I felt like I could do on my own, but I needed an illustrator. By this time I was forty years old and the General Manager of a dive bar underneath a bridge in Rockford, Illinois called Castaways. A bar where three women had formed a roller derby league called the Rockford Rage in the bathroom one night. The paperwork to join the league was signed right there at the bar, and one of the earliest skaters to join is now my creative partner and real life mate Jenny Mathews, who is one of the finest illustrators in America.

I asked her if she'd be interested in collaborating on a children's book titled Atrocities From A To Z about things that kid hated. She said yes, and I sent her the first poem from the book, aptly titled "A."

A few weeks later she sent back this illustration.

It was perfect.

Then she moved to Texas.

Then we wrote a book titled The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company long distance and Atrocities From A To Z was put on the backburner.

Then she came back from Texas and we became a couple. And a scant eight years later, almost forty years after I began it, Atrocious Poems A To Z went to the printer last week. 

Is the business finished now? Can I call up and tell Fritz Perls in the afterlife that we're good?


But there's one last order of business I feel like needs to be finished, and that is the business. I'd like to encourage you to order a copy of Atrocious Poems A To Z. In the poems I've tried to address issues that sometimes can seem trivial to adults, but cause great anxiety for children, like vegetables, inoculations, sharing, monsters under the bed, floors made of lava etc. I have tried to be light-hearted in the poems and provide a jumping off point to discuss some of these anxiety-producing situations. Also, it was important to me to try and incorporate some lessons on literary form, theme, and devices. 

Of course the best part of the book are the remarkable illustrations by Jenny Mathews, and getting to work with my soulmate. I think we've made a really fun and interesting book and I'd like to encourage you to order your copy now.

And, yes, I will be sending a copy to the Library of Congress

Order Atrocious Poems A To Z

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Buy American, Buy Zombie Logic Press

Out of curiosity I picked up a few of the most recent children's books Jack has gotten. Every one of them that was Disney or Marvel or Minions or anything in the popular culture was printed in China. What pennies per unit did they save doing this? And why are we taking them seriously when they sell us that they are the pillars of our economy and true patriots? The opposite is true.

They literally have to go out of their way to NOT use American printers in order to save a few pennies.

I'm a publisher myself, so I get emails and calls from those same Chinese printers. And make no mistake, I'd like to save on my printing costs any way I can, but how is it worth it to save pennies? 

I like working with a printer I can call if a crisis happens, or if I'm just feeling anxious about an impending project. Its nice to know your books were printed in Minnesota (Bookmobile), Ohio (Book Masters), or Michigan (Edwards Brothers Malloy). Maybe it adds fifty cents, maybe a buck to the cost of a book, but I have to believe all that comes around when we support each other at our trades.

I mention Edwards Brother Malloy because my latest book, Atrocious Poems A To Z is currently in the printing process. I'm in that delicate part of the process where I have surrendered all control over the project and must trust that they will make the book look exactly as I envisioned it when Jenny and I were working on it for these past eight years.

And you know what, I have absolute faith that they will.

Trusting in our neighbors to be skillful and committed to their work is the crux of what Buy American is all about. It's not a chore or a task, it's a privilege to enjoy the products that we make together in our own communities. 

 Atrocious Poems A To Z Illustration D

This is a goofy poem, I realize, and an example of the theme of Atrocious Poems A To Z, which is "Poems about all the things kids love to hate."

I'd love to have a promotions department and distribution pipeline to finish the process of selling and shipping the book now that I have spent eight years working on it, but every small business owner out there know that ain't the way things work.

We're literally competing with giants that use tax loopholes and Chinese labor to make it difficult to compete. We all do five or six jobs. Which is why is crucial to support each other. Buy local. Go to your local hardware store instead of Home Depot. Eat at a restaurant owned by a member of your community instead of a chain restaurant. Shop at the farmers market instead of Walmart.

Sure, it's more inconvenient, but you can see the results almost immediately. 

Atrocious Poems A To Z is a book that takes the problems and challenges of childhood seriously. VERY seriously. Some might say too seriously. By taking a comic approach to everyday issues children face in lighthearted poems and whimsical drawings we hope to present a jumping off point where children and parents can discuss topics like bullying, sharing, dealing with siblings, anxiety etc. It was our goal to ease into these topics employing comedy, sensitivity, and an understanding that although children may see these "atrocities" as the end of the world, they are really things we have all gone through and just a natural part of growing up. 

As you can see, I'm also the sales department. I don't like selling, but it's part of my responsibilities. I'm not asking for contributions, I'm asking you to consider buying a product made entirely here in the United States of America. I might even take your money and go give it to the authentic Mexican restaurant on the next block, or the local garden center, or Mead's Meats, or the Muslim immigrants trying to make a go of it with a convenience store in my neighborhood. 

Pre-order Atrocious Poems A To Z to ship June 10th. 

Zombie Logic Press
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Onomatopeias! Dipthongs! Paradoxes!

Jenny • Now Pin It
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