Saturday, March 31, 2012

Scream and Scream Again Will Make You, Well, You Know

I recently re-watched the 1970 classic of convolution, incredulity, and exhilerating car chases titled Scream and Scream Again. I had to watch it in ten episodes on You Tube because no matter how much money you are willing to pay Netflix these days they just seem to have less and less movies available. 

Here's all you need to know to get yourself motivated to watch this classic (in my mind, at least) piece of unfollowable schlock... it's one of the few movies that Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, and Vincent Price all appear in. That's enough right there to send you to You Tube right now, but, wait, there's more. Wait a minute, let me backtrack. The movie begins when....

This jogger collapses, then wakes up to find his... well, let's just say something is missing.

Peter Cushing as Major Heinrick Benedek

Then it's revealed it's all taking place in some convoluted 1984/Nazis actually won World War II Rollerball evil corporation/government fascist (redundant, I know) state, then Peter Cushing gets the Vulcan nerve pinch from this guy who's apparently more than he appears and, well..

Michael Gothard as Keith
Michael Gothard as Keith

This effeminate, dandy looking David Bowie type guy is going around stalking chicks in discos and he's really... (well, I'll let the story tell itself)

This guy is a copper who is on the case. I think he gets Vulcan nerve pinched, too.

This guy is in it. He's some affable gwat I suppose he's the hero but I haven't seen the ending yet.

Dr. Browning
Vincent Price as Dr. Browning
Vinnie the P is in it I think he's a mad scientist. After the first half hour you won't be able to keep track of anything that's happening anyway so just relax and enjoy...

One helluva car chase shot with some amazing low angles that happens about thirty minutes in, followed by a foot chase and an iconic scene where the dandy serial killer guy with amazing strength and flexibility manages to escape handcuffs by...

well, you'll see. 

Then it looks like Vincent Price ends up in an acid bath but I haven't watched the ending yet and I can't remember from seeing it twenty-five years ago probably on Elvira's Movie Macabre if the sinister fascists are foiled. 

Here's the English quad poster saying something about stuff. I guess all that could have happened in the movie, not sure.

Christopher Lee as Fremont
Oh, ya, Christopher Lee is in it. He probably gets nerve pinched eventually. Watch Scream and Scream Again it makes no sense and so what?

March 29, 2013: Almost all of the movies on Elvira's Movie Macabre are considered classics by me.

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Death Ship Is An Unsinkable Cult Classic You'll Be Happy To Go Down On

The movie, Death Ship (1980) is another installment in the late 70's, early 80's craze of aquatic zombie movies which includes far better movies like Shock Waves and Zombie Lake.

Zombie Logic
Death Ship British quad poster
This is a quad poster. These are what movie posters look like in Britain and for collectors you can get some really nice variations and rare posters if you search for quads.

Anyway, Death Ship is terrible. The kind of terrible I actually enjoy. You probably won't, but to each his own. Here's what happens. George Kennedy goes nuts after he gets fired by Richard Crenna (the jerk from Summer rental) and his ship crashes. The survivors find a huge, black ship with no one aboard. Then

This chick takes a shower...

The water turns to blood, George Kennedy throws her bloody ass overboard...

Then they run through the halls in slow motion for about half an hour and 
Apparently this little girl sees this, which seems like it might be pretty cool, but I haven't got that far yet. Anyway, that's my review of Death Shit, I mean Death Ship.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

When The World Is Running Down...

You know you're in some deep shit when the people of the Quad Cities start making fun of you. I've been to the Quad Cities. It's sort of like being made fun of by the chess team in high school. 

Only a few months after Forbes Magazine named my hometown, Rockford, Illinois, one of America's most dangerous cities in America, a Gallup poll named the city America's fourth fattest, which brought to mind Dean Wormer's infamous words to the members of the Animal House fraternity: "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son," but fat, drunk, stupid AND violent does seem to be the Rockford way.

In 1996 Money Magazine rated Rockford the 300th and worst city in America, an honor which elicited exactly the response you'd expect from people who are fat, stupid, and violent... they started a big fire and burned Money Magazine. Which is, I suppose as good a show of civic pride as one's likely to see around here, but what might be a better response to being called out for being woefully inadequate is to try and get better. But that shit ain't going to fly around these parts. The outrage over Money Magazine's appraisal of our worth soon dissipated, but what didn't go away was the blight, ignorance, and resignation to failure that caused the ranking in the first place.

I was born in Swedish American hospital 43 years ago. I currently live two blocks from Swedish American Hospital, where I was born 43 years ago. Is there something wrong with me? 


But maybe I just like an underdog. Maybe I like a lost cause. Call me nuts, but maybe I like Rockford. I live on a block with five restaurants, any one of which you could go in and get a really good meal any day of the week. I create poetry and art in a community with other artists I have great respect for. Every day I walk amongst great architecture and pass by shops where people with a deep commitment to this community are trying their best to bring the Downtown area back from the dead. What's more,  you get a mile outside of Rockford and you're in the place that feeds the world. It's beautiful. So, what's the problem?

Well, last week I heard sirens and I look out my window, not because there are sirens because that happens hourly, but because we'd been having an unheard of streak of beautiful weather, and I saw the emergency vehicles had coalesced on the next block, also not unusual, because there is a huge, historical hotel there that is now used to house the elderly and if a crane isn't tipping over while workers are repairing the building someone is calling for an ambulance every thirty minutes. But this time it wasn't the Faust, it was the equally historic theater across the street, The Midway.

The roof had fallen in. 

Problem is no one will admit to owning the building. No one knows who owns the Midway. Over the past decade several groups have tried to raise public awareness about restoring the Midway, but no owner could be contacted to even talk about selling. So, it sat. And it rotted. And it sat. And it rotted. And eventually the roof fell in.

The roof of the Midway theater collapsed

I contacted the mayor's office that afternoon to inquire why a landowner would be allowed to let a structure on a very busy street sit and rot until it became a public danger, but of course I received no adequate explanation. A week later I have seen no effort to stabilize that building. No one has stepped forward to take responsibility for this symbol of our collective decay and collapse. My guess is whatever powers that be are conspiring to relieve whatever slum lord who allowed this to happen to abrogate his responsibility for fixing it. Hell, that person will now probably make a profit and the city will be left holding the bag for demolishing the building. 


I like it here. But I also like boxing, cheap whiskey, and the poetry of Charles Bukowski. I'm far from being shocked by any act of corruption, ignorance, or hatred I see, so all that's left are the good surprises. The times when the underdog wins. Instances of the forsaken and condemned defying expectations and doing the right thing for the right reasons. It happens. It happens here every day. Sometimes a place can be rotten but the people as decent and honest and willing to change for the better as anywhere else.

A good power clean of the filth and sewage that's piled up over generations in this city's places of influence and power might be all that's needed to give Rockford, Illinois a new lease on life. Too many parasites and blood-suckers in this city feeding on the carcass of the past and fending off anyone who wants to make a change with a blind rage to think it will be easy, but it has to be done. Too much federal money simply being poured into a trough for hogs to feed on while no one seems to be offering the oversight to how those funds are allocated to think anyone really cares or wants to make an effort. 

There's apathy and there's learned helplessness and there's cynicism here. Maybe this city will never get up off its knees. Maybe there are forces that benefit from a city and a workforce and a populace that has been trained to expect less than nothing. Maybe we all just feed off of each other's sense of helplessness like the Ouroboros, but I'll tell you what, and maybe this is just a spurt of three a.m. bitterness: when the roof collapses on a building in the geographic center of your town, get off your ass and either put the fucking roof back on or at least show enough backbone to make someone get their ass down their and show some sense of civic responsibility. Someone wanted to profiteer from holding that building hostage until it became profitable, and now I want to see that person down there taking responsibility for yet another embarrassment to a city that is too often embarrassed by this type of invisible leadership. 

Every bit as beautiful and tragic as it looks.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two New Books By Thomas L. Vaultonburg

I don't sell cars. If I did I'd never eat. I don't really sell poetry, either. Never have. I do publish poetry, however, which presents a small dilemma, namely what to do with boxes of books once they arrive from the printer. I give a few away to my friends, family, and fellow artists. I went so far recently as to get a few copies of each of my books out and put them on a bookshelf. It's nice to see a row of books you've written all lined up like that. I recommend it to all writers. Sometimes I pick up my four books like they are cards and pretend i have four of a kind and I just won some substantial pot in a poker game. That also makes me happy. But mostly they just sit in boxes. For me, after I have written , designed, edited, and sent the book to the printer my role in the process has concluded. I just don't have the taste for selling anything, and I don't covet the bank account of anyone who declares themselves a poetry salesman. But cyber space being infinite, and my closet being overflowing, I'd be remiss if i didn't ask at least one time if anyone out there would be interested in buying one of these damn books of poetry I've been writing for almost twenty-five years now. 


Bus Station

Please don’t steal my bag.

Please don’t steal my blue bag 
With all my poems in it. 

Please don’t try to to steal my 
Blue bag with all my poems 
In it and a bag of pepitas 
And the number for my caseworker 
Then feign confusion when caught 
Because you, too, have a blue bag 
That says Downtown Mental Health Center. 

Please don’t try to lift my blue 
Bag with all my mom’s cancer poems 
And the name of my caseworker in it etc... 

It’s far too heavy. 

The Millenium Falcon 

Poetry is the land cruiser 
When you wanted 
The Millenium Falcon 

The A/V girl 
When you wanted 
The cheerleader 

Poetry is a broom closet 
At the Ritz 

A Swiss Army Knife 
In a nuclear showdown 

Being given Tinker Toys 
And asked to build Paris 

Poetry is half 
A loaf of moldy 
Bread and enough 
Peanut butter to 
Last the night 

Which is to say 
It is everything.

Dumbing It Down 

I dumbed it down. 
I fed it McNuggets 
And put it to sleep 
With pop tunes. 
I made it join 
The Republican party. 
I drugged it with 
Cable television, 
I bribed it with 
Guilt-free sex 
And threatened it 
With religion. 
I spent a lifetime 
Beating it 
Into submission and 
The ungrateful bastard 
Still writes this poem. 



You were our first lesson
In rage and greed,
Possibly love.
Our smiling guardian
Put the stick
In our small hands,
Blindfolded us,
And whispered
Unspeakable treasures
Awaited us when we
Destroyed you.
Spun around and
Drunken with images
Of unimaginable trinkets
We became whirling dervishes
Of lust and anger,
Whacking and thumping away
At your broken smile
Way past nap time,
Until frustrated with
Our lack of killer instinct,
Our teacher sawed you
In half, spilling
Far less enticing bounty
Than we had dreamed of.
Some rushed forward and
Grabbed and devoured,
Others stood back and 
Cried over the carnage.

Either way we all learned
Who we would become that day.

The Streak 

   The announcer fawns 
   Over the Iron Man: 
   “Number 63 has played 
   In 120 straight 
   Football games, 
   An amazing feat 
   Of endurance.” 

   I do the math: 
   Sixteen Sundays a year, 
   Three hours a pop 
   For nearly eight years, 
   360 total hours, 
   Or maybe five or six 
   Weeks of my granddaddy’s 
   Life in the field and 
   The mill afterhours, 
   Covering the rent 
   2,750 straight months, 
   Playing hurt through three 
   Heart attacks, seven children 
   And five disbanded 
   Pro football leagues. 

   Now let’s talk about 
   About a fucking streak.

  Linch Mob 

     Just once I want 
   To saddle up and 
   Ride out with 
   The mob, 
   My blank face 
   Hidden behind a  
   Red kerchief, 
   Spitting my hate 
   Through broken teeth 
   I want to fire 
   My six shooter guilt free 
   Into crowds of women 
   And children. 

   Just be there in 
   My overalls with the 
   Other villagers 
   I want to hold 
   My torch to the 
   Monster’s face 
   And ask him 
   If he really thought 
   He’d get away with it. 

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Bribes In America Webcomic By David Pedersen

As the legality of President Obama's national health care act is debated in the Supreme Court, this webcomic arrives in the mail from my good friend David Pedersen. 

David Pedersen webcomic
Bribes In America by David Pedersen

You can buy David's great book of poetry Love Is Meat <----- there 
More poetry, music, and webcomics by David Pedersen

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Baron von Raschke Meets the Soup Nazi

I would like a bowl of soup, please.

There is no soup here for you, Baron von Raschke

One bowl of soup, please.


Lead singer of Devo Mark Mothersbaugh requests one bowl of soup, please.

Professional wrestler and former school teacher, Baron von Rascke, your thinly-veiled canard designed to obtain a bowl of soup has not deceived me. You shall obtain no soup. 



Baron von Raschke AND Mad Dog Vachon? please enter my humble establishment and partake of a fine bowl of soup.

Go fuck yourself. We're going to Arby's.

November 21, 2013: RIP Mad Dog Vachon. A true gentleman according to many who had the good fortune to meet him.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Ubermenscher and Trayvon Martin

My favorite episode of The X Files is titled "Ubermenscher." In the episode, the Ubermenscher, a demonic entity called a tulpa in Tibet, was summoned from the Earth by Gene Gogolak to enforce his reign of terror on The Falls at Arcadia. Arcadia, in Greek mythology is the home of the god Pan, and an unspoiled, harmonious plane. In the episode, Arcadia is a harmonious, gated community where everyone is scrupulously careful to obey the rules and becomes very, very upset when any rule of decorum is broken. 

People start to disappear. People who just don't seem up to code. Clumsy people, odd people, anyone who deviates from the rules and regulation that make Arcadia pristine. Stray from the path or express any sense of individuality or eccentricity and an anonymous warning is issued. Your mistakes are corrected for you. Disobey again and the demonic Ubermenscher is dispatched to rise up out of the dirt and devour you. 

The Ubermenscher has no face. It is the summoned hatred and ignorance and will to maintain obedience and conformity of an entire community. 

Once the disappearances are reported, agents Mulder and Scully are dispatched to pretend to be a married company moving into Arcadia. Mulder soon begins tweeking the nose of the community by flouting the rules and acting in his typical eccentric way. But he finds his attempts to disrupt the harmony of Arcadia usurped at every turn. A mailbox he intentionally skews to one side is magically restored to its upright position while he goes to the bathroom. The secret helper who maintains order so obsessively is never seen. This wrankles Mulder, who goes on 24 hour watch to catch the super helper in the act. But he can't. 

No one ever does. The Ubermenscher comes from the collective will but no one person is ever held responsible for it. It's a manifestation of our collective neurosis that something or someone among us is ruining it for everyone by being deviant, odd, or upsetting the apple cart. 

In everyday life we encounter some comical examples of The Ubermenscher, like the obsessive compulsive legion of Wikipedia editors just waiting for someone out there to make any slightly askew statement about Ayn Rand or who appeared as an extra in episode seven of season three of Dr. Who so they can blow their whistle and scold the perpetrator about keeping their beautiful patch of the Universe unsullied. 

In politics we see more serious examples of people who would like to impose their morality on the rest of society with a Procrustean bed of laws designed to make the rest of us behave to the exact specifications of their God. Not ours, but theirs. All the Gods help us if these people ever have their way again. 

I'd like to keep my legs (and my own set or morals and ethics) thank you.

So, what are you on about this time, Thomas? Greek Gods, monsters, Procrustean beds, Wikipedia, what's the point?

On February 26, 2012, 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot dead after being involved in a scuffle with self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman in the planned community of Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin, who had reported via a 911 call as acting suspiciously, in an act of self defense. The facts of the case will probably never be clear, but what is known is that Zimmerman called 911 46 times in the year previous to the shooting, predominantly to report young, black males acting suspiciously. One of the calls was to report a child 7-9 years old. 

Already the facts of this matter have become virtually impossible to discern over the outrage of those who feel this is a tragic murder based on racism and those who believe law and order should be maintained at any price, but what seems clear to this writer is that America has become a very scary place where some people feel it is their God-given right, no, their God-appointed duty, to make sure the rest of us conform to their standards at all times. Act suspicious, stray from the lines only they can see for more than one step and you become suspicious, someone who needs to be followed, harassed, and ultimately weeded out.

Certainly an episode of The X Files is insufficient to convey the tragedy of what has happened here. The life lost. For no good reason other than one person wanting to decide who can and who can't walk freely in "his" community. But we've seen this before. We've seen it since the beginning. And we've never dealt with it. So it seeps into the water, the soil, the very Earth beneath our feet, and it waits, and it waits, and it waits. Then it rises like an amorphous golem of hatred and ignorance and snuffs out a life filled with promise and hope. 

People have always longed for that perfect place. Arcadia, Nirvana, Heaven, Elysium. And societies have always flirted with the idea that eliminating certain types of people would make life easier for everyone who wasn't one of those people. As one of those people I always remain wary that the pitchforks and torches will be out for me eventually. Or maybe you. Or maybe any one of us who isn't "them" enough. This battle needs to be continually fought because it has never been won and never goes away. 

Will there be justice for Trayvon Martin? I don't know. I know there's a war going on in America. A war that never really wasn't going on. A war I hope never breaks out into open violence in our streets over violations of humanity that were never punished and never atoned for. There seem to be people out there who not only are unwilling to atone, but never want that war to end. I don't want to live in a society like that. But I also feel it would be wrong to let those people continue living in ignorance and hatred, spewing their venom on the rest of us simply because it may be their "right" to be wrong. I'm not sure what the answer is. Maybe it might even be better to just fight it out. But I hold out hope something like reason or goodness or truth might save the day. 

Ask Pandora. There's always hope.

February 21, 2013 update: It seems I haven't heard anyone in my sphere even mentioned Trayvon Martin in months. Yet it seemed so important to so many people for about a week.

More things the Ubermenscher thinks you should or should not do. Or else.

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