Sunday, March 31, 2013

Welcome To National Poetry Month At Zombie Logic Press

I had a great early part of the day. Turned on some Bach and got out an actual ink pen and some paper and wrote poetry. 

Crazy Weather

"Crazy weather we're having,"
Said the man,
Laying down his hat
On the table.
The hat, his father's,
Was undisturbed
By the wind.

"Yes, this weather
Is crazy we're having,"
Said the woman,
Allowing her hair
To fall straight down
Over her shoulders.

That's really the only one of the bunch I want to post. My favorite was a haiku, but I'm keeping that one to myself for a while. It's National Poetry Month in a little over an hour. I wonder if I'll get a Tshirt for my 30 years of service in the Poetry Corps.

Probably not.

Meanwhile, enjoy this graphic of a woman letting her hair down. Perhaps it will soon be replaced by an illustration of a woman with purple hair letting her hair down. 

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Li Bo As the Ultimate Outsider Poet

Li Bo was a little like a wild character we have where I live. So wild and mysterious that people often stop and ask those who know him if the eccentricity is an act. I myself asked the question when I first met him, and the answer was the same answer I now give those who ask me: "There's a little acting in there, but mostly it's authentic eccentricity."

Li Bo
The poet Li Bo wandered quite a bit during his life. Having attained a reputation as a wildman and a wise fool of poetry, nobles and the wealthy class enjoyed his company and he was often summoned to hold court. Almost always his welcome was worn out, but the invitations kept coming. In his poetry Li Bo was also keen to challenge convention, writing about taboo topics like popular culture, drinking, carousing, and religion. 

Here is one of his most popular poems, titled "Drinking Alone Under the Moon."

"Drinking Alone under the Moon," by Li Bo

Among the flowers, a single jug of wine;
I drink alone. No one close to me.
I raise my cup, invite the bright moon;
facing my shadow, together we make three.
The moon doesn't know how to drink;
and my shadow can only follow my body.
But for a time I make moon and shadow my companions;
taking one's pleasure must last until spring.
I sing — the moon wavers back and forth.
I dance — my shadow flickers and scatters.
When I'm sober we take pleasure together.
When I'm drunk, we each go our own ways.
I make an oath to journey forever free of feelings,
making an appointment with them to meet in the Milky Way afar.

Even with his deliberate affectations and flauting of conventions for the sake of causing scandal and increasing his cache as a wildman of poetry, Li Bo was an Outsider all his life. Outside his culture, outside his family, even slightly outside the poetic forms he became a master of. 

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New Items That Match Your Interest In The Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Pen, Burgundy

Every afternoon I get an email from Ebay alerting me to new items that match my interest to previous items I have been interested in, including, but not limited to: Hot Wheels, Dungeons and Dragons rulebooks, transportation tokens, aspirin tins, poetry books, Spiderman comics, The Monster Club, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Zombiethon, Shock Waves, silver, copper, and nickel bullion, and Mont Blanc pens. 

It's good to have interests in life. Hobbies. Collections.

I used to do Sears delivery, and was inside several peoples' homes every day for a few years, and I was astounded by how little people had that distinguished them from the next person. Now you could say I didn't really see where they kept their most private possessions and items they didn't want anyone else to see, but I saw enough to get the sense there wasn't much else going on besides what I saw out in the open. I was behind and underneath and in enough unusual places to know I'd seen enough to get an idea who lived here and what they considered important. 

I never saw journals or collections or studies brimming with books and personal mementos gathered during a lifetime of travel, experience, and contemplation. 

Mostly I just saw a VHS copy of the movie Independence Day. I'd have to say that movie was the most common item in all those years. Every house seemed to have it, and someone appeared to have watched it recently.

I like that Ebay shows a daily concern about the collections I curate and wants me to complete some of my ridiculous collections sometime in the coming

Perhaps the thing I lost that was most painful to me was my burgundy Mont Blanc meisterstuck pen. I had bought it in the late 90's at Office Max for $119 and adored it's balance and the smooth, equal amount of ink the ballpoint cartridge exuded. Perfect. And beautiful. I had to Ebay mine when I moved into this apartment because I had lost everything. I needed money for food and to get the utilities turned on. The saddest thing about my life was I had nothing left of value. Except plasma. I got a very fair amount for the pen. More than I had paid for it, in fact, as the meisterstuck now costs almost three times as much to buy new. I suppose my circumstances are that I could buy one right now online, but this one was bought to reward myself for publishing my second book of poetry, and even though they all look the same, that one was mine. 

I'll buy another one, eventually. And perhaps I'll live long enough for that one to replace the memory of the other. These things happen. Lessons that things are just things. Or perhaps the opposite lesson: that things are damn important and should be cherished.  Pin It

Thursday, March 28, 2013

When Lebron Changed His Number

I'm archiving some of the My Space blogs I wrote over the years. This one about Lebron James changing his number is one of my favorites. It was written March 7, 2010.

Cleveland Cavalier's superstar Lebron James is changing his uniform number from 23 to 6 next year. He's doing this to honor Michael Jordan. It is James' opinion that because of his contributions to the game Jordan's number should be retired and never worn by anyone again. 

I'm not a huge basketball fan, so I did a quick check to see if anyone significant had ever worn the number 6, and if that player had made any significant contributions to basketball.

Ever hear of Bill Russell?

Brief bio. Bill Russell was the first black superstar in the NBA. He was the first black head coach in the NBA, and indeed in any of the major professional sports leagues. Bill Russell won 11 championships as a player in the NBA. Bill Russell won two NCAA college basketball championships with the University of San Francisco in 1955-6. Bill Russell won an Olympic gold medal in Melbourne in 1956. For those who don't care about sports and have no perspective on what that means, it simply means Bill Russell won a championship almost every single year he played, more than anyone ever. More than Magic. More than Lebron (zero). More than even Michael Jordan.

What's more Bill Russell did it in an era where racial hatred and prejudice were rampant in America. As a University of San Francisco player, it was common for Russell and his black teammates to be denied hotel rooms and were frequently refused service in restaurants. Not only in the South, but across America. 

During his professional career for the Boston Celtics, a team he won 11 championships for, the people of Boston berated him mercilessly with racist slurs and his home was even broken into, vandalized, and his bed deficated in. Despite this Bill Russell continued to handle himself with dignity and integrity.

Bill Russell wore the number 6.



Lebron James, I think you're a little misguided. 

You don't want to wear Michael Jordan's number because you have this crazy love and respect for what he did on a basketball court. But you're willing to wear number 6, the number of a man who paved the way, suffered the brunt of the abuse of a racist America, made it possible for players such as yourself to do what you do in the NBA? 

Maybe you should turn that uniform inside out, amigo, because you got this all ass backwards.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why I Love a Tab Cola

My uncle used to come over to our house on Friday nights after the work week at the factory had ended and have a few rum and Cokes with my dad, who was the foreman of the factory. They'd yak about work and get more intoxicated, and eventually my uncle would start telling stories about when he was in the Navy which were so dirty me and my brother had to go to bed.

Sometimes he'd bring Tab Cola instead of Coca Cola. I'm not sure why he did. He may have had undiagnosed diabetes. I remember how the pink cans stood out. from the beginning they mesemerized me. And I'd wait all night as his drinks got stronger and stronger, pouring less and less of the delicious nectar in to dilute the rum. Rarely would I be so presumptuous as to ask for a can, or bottle, outright, and to my horror he sometimes used all of it, or worse, took it with him. But many times he left some for me.

That's what it looked like. I was captivated.

Then Tab Cola disappeared. I guess I didn't notice that much because I loved Coca Cola. Years went by, and I moved to Chicago. One day I walked in to the Dominics on Chicago Avenue and there it was... Tab Cola. After many years off the market the Coca Cola corporations has quietly re-introduced Tab Cola to the American people.

Sales were ok, but not good. Coca Cola even threatened to discontinue production of Tab Cola, but a funny thing happened: fans of Tab Cola went insane, and flooded Coca Cola with petitions, letters, and phone calls. Tab Cola remained on the shelves. The market share was small, but Coca Cola learned it was profitable because no advertising was required. They just put it on the shelves and Tab fans snapped it up.

When I returned to Rockford Tab Cola was harder to find. It seemed I was always competing against a small group of Tab fanatics for a limited supply. I tried not to horde because I knew if it meant this much to me it probably meant the same thing to the other anonymous Tab fans I never saw but observed the effects of. I knew the disappointment of making a special trip to one supermarket instead of another only to find the last Tab Cola had been bought. 

You know what I like?

That Tab Cola.

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Thin Lizzy Jailbreak Album Forty Years Later

One of my favorite things in life is when content lives up to design. Thin Lizzy's sixth album, Jailbreak, released in 1976, more than kicks the tail promised by this spectacular album cover. If you were a seven year old and your uncle laid down the needle for the first time on this LP and you heard the opening jabs of guitar and bass on "Jailbreak," that was your ass. Almost forty years later this is one of the albums from my childhood that holds up the best. The two classics that anchor side one and side two are just the beginning. Song three on side one and two are classics, and I mean the kind of classics that transform a good, even great album, into a legendary album. It still sounds modern. As if this style of music will come around again and there will be Phil Lynott leading the way one more time. 

Thin Lizzy Jailbreak

Side one
"Jailbreak" – 4:01
"Angel from the Coast" (Lynott, Brian Robertson) – 3:03
"Running Back" – 3:13
"Romeo and the Lonely Girl" – 3:55
"Warriors" (Lynott, Scott Gorham) – 4:09

Side two
"The Boys Are Back in Town" – 4:27
"Fight or Fall" – 3:45
"Cowboy Song" (Lynott, Brian Downey) – 5:16
"Emerald" (Gorham, Downey, Robertson, Lynott) – 4:03

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Derrick Rose Doesn't Want To Play Basketball And You Can't Make Him

Derrick Rose doesn't want to play basketball right now, and no one can make him. When Rose was injured in the final moments of a playoff game the Bulls already had well in hand Bulls' fans should have seen the future of the franchise deflate like a hot air balloon on Ted Nugent's property. It was an idiotic decision by coach Tom Thibodeau. 

We saw months of commercials showing Derrick Rose working hard in rehab so he could return to the team and help them make a playoff run. 

But Derrick Rose isn't going to play basketball this season, even though doctors cleared him to do so weeks ago. 

He doesn't want to. He's not in any increased danger of re-injuring his knee if he plays tonight. He just doesn't want to.

It's not surprising. Some of the signs were there that Derrick Rose doesn't have what it takes to be an elite player in the NBA. It's a joke that he won an MVP when Lebron James was still alive on this planet.

When Rose first came to Chicago he brought his cadre of brothers and advisers that had been with him since he was a small boy to guide him through the process of dealing with fortune and fame. Problem is, they were local yoakals who have no more idea how to deal with fortune and fame than the guy pumping gas down the street. We heard about Rose and his tummy ache, caused by eating garbage all day and sitting around playing video games. The team has to step in and make sure he ate right because no one around him seemed to know why that might be important for a world class athlete.

We know Rose cheated to get into college. The fact that he was there at all is a mockery to the system. But he cheated. 

For his first couple of seasons Rose spit the bit as far as accepting the role of team leader. He didn't want the ball when it mattered. He was content with getting enough points to be a star, but when crunch time came he would rather someone else step up and lead the team. 

Weeks ago when his shoe company thought Derrick Rose should start thinking about playing basketball again because his magnetic personality was unlikely to sell sneakers, they contacted a couple of no- name reporters with no connection to Chicago to plant the story and get the ball rolling. Chicago reporters were furious they had been bypassed. A lot of people thought it smelled bad that the shoe company seemed to be exercising more influence over Rose and his advisers than his employer, The Chicago Bulls,

Derrick Rose isn't a bad person by any reports. He just is no Lebron James. He sure as hell is no Michael Jordan. And I don't think he's doing the kind of work necessary to return from the type of injury he suffered, either physically or mentally. I think he wants to sit around and play video games and watch others compete for championships. That seems to be a component of his character. And that's fine, but Bulls' fans should re-adjust their expectations about ever beating the Miami Heat with Derrick Rose as the leader of your team.

Who has next? Game of Mario Kart, that is. Pin It

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brown Dwarf

I consulted some astrophysicists who live in my neighborhood, and they assured me it is extremely unlikely a Brown Dwarf star would have ever been capable of generating enough heat to sustain life in a solar system, but I wrote this poem anyway. 

The Brown Dwarf

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Brown Dwarf Haiku

Fusing the physics of brown dwarf stars with the stages of grief outlined by Elisabeth Kubler Ross in seventeen syllables? 

Nonsense you say.

Impossible you say.


But for your poetry amusement, anything. Actually, on second thought, if you try to throw in an allusion to a Dylan Thomas poem, it IS impossible. At least at 1a.m. it is. At least for this poet it is. But I did manage to do it in a mere 34 syllables and five lines. 

Brown Dwarf

They raged briefly against 
The dying of the light
Bargained with their cut rate gods,
Turned off their televisons
And said goodnight forever.

Brown Dwarf

They raged brief ly 
Turn ed off their tele vi sions
Said good night for ev er

Maybe tomorrow I'll try again with this and Jenny will do a drawing. I don't know what the astrophysics say about if any life would have ever been possible under a brown dwarf. 
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stanley Milgram's Experiment 18

Virtually anyone who has taken an undergraduate course is familiar with Stanley Milgrams' Experiment 18, the experiment that asked students to administer increasingly painful and dangerous shocks to fellow students while an authority figure stood by and increasingly insisted they do so even while observing the test subject in visible, possibly dangerous levels of pain. 

In the experiment, 26 of the 40 participants administered the highest level of shock to the subject, 450 volts, even though many showed sign they no longer wanted to comply. But they did. And they didn't know the test subject, the confederate, was an actor simulating the affect of a 450 volt shock. All they knew was they were being told to press a button to deliver a dangerous shock to another human being. 

The results were shocking. It stood social psychology on its ear. Many academics wanted to disprove the results of the experiment or tear down its methodology, but in the end they had to accept the results. 

People obey. It's what they do. It's what you do.

There's no point feeling badly about it. You're probably just not interesting or special. Few are. Don't beat yourself up over it. Just press the button. Pin It

Monday, March 18, 2013

Treebeard, Sufi Poetry, and Brushing Your Teeth

Treebeard: "I am not altogether on anybody's side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me... And there are some things, of course, whose side I'm altogether not on; I am against them altogether." (Tolkien 2001, p.461)

I have to post this quote publicly twice a year to remind me that some times the best thing you can do is sit back and watch the river flow. Because as the Japanese proverb goes, "If you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by." The Persian Sufi poets would probably say "And this, too, shall pass." Booker T and the MG's didn't exactly say it, but they opined "Time Is Tight." 

Actually, most of what passes for wisdom is canceled out by something else that also passes for wisdom. One sort of ends up at the point one started. 

Then what?

It's hard to explain to a child why they should brush their teeth. Life is long. If you walk long enough you'll come to a place where you see yourself. Then what?

You're still going to snap to attention at Walmart after hearing someone say something so ignorant and foolish you're surprised such a vile creature is even allowed to continue existing in a Universe with even the minimum standards of decency. 

Weariness has drilled down deep into my bones. And yet I wake up from excitement, not obligation, most days. I'm in love with my life. I make poetry, and I show people poetry I admire. I get away with this. 

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Tiny Drawing Poems To Be Displayed At Spring Art Scene In Rockford

I'm incredibly proud to announce that four pieces Jenny and I created in our  series will be displayed at this year's Spring Art Scene in Rockford at both the 317 Gallery and the Ameriprise Financial show. 

These three Tiny Drawing Poems will be displayed, along with one other Jenny is redesigning especially for the show. All of these will be available for sale. For me, it's the first time I've ever taken part in an art show. 

Hopefully if they get back from the printer in time, we'll have copies of our children's book The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company to sign, too.

Jenny had to drive out to Hobby Lobby three times to get these all frames, but they turned out magnificently. 

We were sitting at the restaurant down the block Wednesday night trying to come up with a title for our work, which we've always called Tiny Drawing Poems, but it's not really appropriate because the drawings here aren't tiny. I think just tonight the idea of "Collisions" came to mind, but doesn't seem to nail it, either.

You can see more of Jenny's Illustrations here. 

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Hello China, Japan, India, Poland, and France. Want To Read Some Great Poetry.

The stats tell me a lot of people are visiting from China, Japan, France, Poland, Russia, and India. I know in all of these countries poetry plays more of a role in the daily lives of citizens than here in the United States. If you take a moment to peruse the rest of my blog you'll see I write quite a lot about poetry forms like the haikusenyru, and about poets like Anna Akhmatova and Wislawa Szymborska. I hope lovers of poetry just stopping by will look around to see my poetry, and go to Zombie Logic Review to see the best poetry being published today by incredible poets like Lyn Lifshin, John M. Bennett, Tony Moffeit, and others. Or join in and submit some poetry to Zombie Logic Review. I'd love to see some poetry from Japan, France, China, Poland, everywhere. 

So, welcome to Zombie Logic, no matter where you are coming from. I invite you to take a while and look around at my artwork, poetry, movie reviews etc. 

This is where I live and publish Zombie Logic Review. The Holmes Block in lovely Downtown Rockford, Illinois, USA.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ghouls Galore- John Hawkshaw- The Monster Club Soundtrack

As I prepare to watch a solid hour of The Alfred Hitchcock Show on Antenna TV, I am trying to sneak in a five minute interlude to listen to the song "Ghouls Galore" by Alan Hawkshaw, from the Monster Club Soundtrack. While you're here, could you do me a favor and take just a moment to bookmark my website, share it on Twitter, Facebook, wherever is easiest for you? 

Back to ghouls. 

A ghoul is a (folkloric) monster associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh, often classified as undead. The oldest surviving literature that mention ghouls is likely One Thousand and One Nights.[1] The term was first used in English literature in 1786, in William Beckford's Orientalist novelVathek,[2] which describes the ghūl of Arabian folklore.

By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why The Pope and NFL Free Agency Passed Me By

I have a fantasy football blog. I have an international poetry review that I edit. I write a newspaper column. I have a comedy site I contribute to. And during the past two days, two days when NFL free agency was in full swing and the 77 Cardinals were in the Vatican trying to choose a new Pope, I had no time to do anything but think in my brain what it might be like to sit down and let some of the thoughts in my head spill out. 

Maybe it's better that they didn't.

Also, I very rarely just blog. About my lunch. About my day. 

Case in point. It's almost 11 p.m., and as I write three poems by co-founder of the Outlaw Poetry movement, Tony Moffeit come over the transom for Zombie Logic Review. I'm stoked. 

And I'm tired. 

I never meant to get dragged into the thick like this. I'd like to be downtown drinking whiskey with the guys. I'm bent into this keyboard like a semicolon. And a lot of miles to go tonight. But i think I'm going to let a struggle go because in the end it's not my fight. I make things. That gives me joy. Showing an audience beautiful things other poets have made also gives me joy. I want to concentrate on that for a while. And write about fantasy football. These eternal struggles will still be anytime I choose to pick them up again.

Hey, they chose a new Pope today. And I don't even know his name.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Haiku About Time Management By Harried Poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg

Things seemed to go from a snail's pace to a billion miles an hour in the space of a few weeks. If I were to merely reprint my To Do list here it would take up the 250 words I try to write as minimum for a blog entry. I'm not going to hit my 250 word quota today, but I did manage to write a haiku a couple of nights ago while I was at the Downtown office. Sometimes a haiku is all you can do.


Please leave me alone
Until I can finish the 
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Taking Responsibility For Misery In Rockford, Illinois

For all actions there is an equal and opposite reaction. One of the laws of physics. Maybe. I'm not a physicist, but I'm certain I've heard that somewhere before. The poet John Keats had a similar concept for dealing with the negative. He called it negative capability, and the general gist of that is creation involves what you do with the empty, negative spaces the Universe offers you. You can see them as empty, dark places, or as opportunities to create something where nothing existed before. To do this one needs to ignore the boundaries and boxes we too often feel we're confined by. Blow up the paradigm. 

It's almost never in this life you're given a perfectly operating widget factory with no defects and all you're asked to do is sit in your office and press a button when you want coffee. No. No one ever hands you the keys to the New York Yankees and a blank check and says "just win." If you want to succeed at anything more than likely you'll do it from humble beginnings, without much help from anyone else, and often you'll encounter criticism and challenges from those who say either it can't be done, or it shouldn't be done.

That said, this blog is about Rockford, Illinois, and the Misery Loves Company of The Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

No, actually this blog is about me. Someone I knew once gave me a St. Jude medallion because with the amount of hopeless and forsaken causes I champion they thought I needed all the help I could get. One time at Castaways, the bar my brother and I owned, we were literally working under three inches of water because of flooding, and I lost that medallion. A few weeks later it flooded again, and St. Jude popped up from the abyss I thought it had disappeared into. 

What's the point? None, really, I just detect an resemblance between the advertising campaign I designed for Castaways, a bar that had been largely forsaken and left for dead under a bridge, and the RACVB's campaign Misery Loves Company. Here's one of the radio spots I wrote.

When I wrote that spot I had been given what seemed like an impossible task. To get people to come to a dive bar under a bridge with a tradition of being seedy, unpleasant, and crowded with unfriendly drunks. Did my campaign work? Well, no, because it was impossible, but I can say 7 years later that location has been revitalized and made relevant again. I was charged with reversing a negative image and making it into a positive.

It's not easy to change public perception. Especially a deeply ingrained, negative public perception. I can understand what the RACVB was thinking when they devised the Misery Loves Company Campaign, but I don't think it works. Because words have meanings. And your audience tends to tune you out these days before you get to your punchline. If I say "Bill Clinton is a terrible womanizer and the best President we've had in recent history," what most people will remember is that I just admitted, or asserted, that Bill Clinton is a womanizer. Everyone who already believes that is going to use that to re-affirm what they already believed, and almost everyone else is going to be checking their Twitter before you finish with your message. 

Another reason I find the campaign to be a mistake is that the RACVB is trying to assume the role of the underdog, or the put upon little guy fighting the big machine, but these are the people who comprise the machine. At least the local machine. They don't understand the true struggle of people who are oppressed, forsaken, or marginalized by the prevailing system. they ARE the ones who messed it up in the first place, now they want to make a joke as if they're clever. And it rings as dull as a bell of lead. A better tack, in my opinion, would be to accept their large role in creating the very conditions they now want to lampoon, apologize, then promise to do better. Sure, humor can be part of that, but if my surgeon cuts off the wrong leg the last thing I want to hear from him/her is a joke. If you want to do comedy, hit one of the open mic comedy nights here in Rockford.

It's an added insult to an injury for which you were largely responsible.

This community needs Sully Sullenberger, not the Italian Cruise ship captain who needed to be ordered back on the boat by authorities. 

I understand the idea behind this campaign. Hell, it's almost identical to the one I tried to use to turn around a business with a long history of mismanagement, but in my campaign I wasn't saying my business sucked, I was saying it didn't suck. I didn't allow the listeners first contact with my product to be an admission of failure. After an admission like that your punchline is irrelevant. You already told us what you thought about your own city. 

Words have meanings. Here's another example from Rockford, Illinois.

Now this is just an unfortunate and careless thing to let people you're trying to convert see. True, I'm hypersensitive to the juxtaposition of language and images, being a poet, and I did see this banner about a million more times than your average Rockford citizen, but until you stop doing things like this you're going to be mocked. 

An old cliche says that all publicity is good publicity, even when it's bad, but mockery is never good. be defiant, yes, and people might take up for you because you're fighting back in the face of hopeless odds, but be a smartass when you're trying to evade responsibility and people will skewer you. And that's how this campaign feels to me and a lot of the creative types I know who actually work in this city trying to create and just doing our best to get by.

Maybe your campaign will be successful. I'd have preferred to see something like what the American auto industry had to do when they fessed up to making crappy cars and getting outworked and outdesigned by the Japanese for a long time, but the difference makers in this town don't seem interested in shouldering the blame for anything. The ship went down. You were at the helm. Apologize and start looking outside the myopic cadre of cohorts who seem to be exercising too much influence and using too little judgement to be trusted in the future.

Scrap this ill-conceived campaign, apologize, accept responsibility, then have a real meeting with the creative types of Rockford. The types of people out there populating the art scene, the music scene, opening stores and restaurants, small businesses of every type. You've ignored them for too long, and your tone deafness has led to this heaping on of criticism from the national media. The national media has no bone to pick with Rockford. They couldn't care any less. They're just reporting facts. And John Keats would advise you to use that assessment as a motivation to change the paradigm, flip the script, and make Shinola out of this mountain of shit.

You're welcome, too. 

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What Are Outlaw and Outsider Poetry

Whatever is considered Outlaw or Outsider poetry I have managed to operate even outside the parameters of that. I've never been much of a joiner. There may have been meetings I missed. I'm not sure either term had attained much usage when I began publishing poetry in 1990, but the nucleus of those who would be retroactively included in either movement were publishing in the same places I was. To my mind the best source of Outlaw poetry is The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. I read my copy many times, then it mildewed when I used to hold up the window in my basement apartment without air conditioning one summer, which only seemed to add to the book's credibility in my library. As far as anthologies of Outsider poetry are concerned, I haven't seen one that has earned my admiration or seems to do the movement justice, whatever movement means when applied to the concept of a group of poets who operate outside any other parameters.

Although I published alongside many of what are considered the Outlaw poets in my early days I never considered myself part of that movement. I worked in bars for twelves years and pretty much lived the life they all seem fascinated with writing about, and like a chef who cooks for others all day I had little interest writing about it when I got home. However, my book of poems Flesh Wounds has enough sex, drugs, and rock and roll in it to make me cringe when I think about those days now sitting in a room with two children I must teach not to follow my example. I was a bartender, a bouncer, and eventually owned two bars with my brother Dan where I booked both rock and country acts. It's safe to say I saw and did everything these Outlaw poets were merely writing about. As an adult I no longer find it glamorous. It was simply a chapter in my life I wrote about while it was happening, but I moved on. 

I wouldn't know how to define a term like Outsider poetry, let alone make any assertion I am part of that movement. If I am no one has ever told me about it. 

These days I just write poetry.      

And Jenny illustrates. Neither one of is claimed by any movement.

March 18, 2013 update: Just published co-founder of The Outlaw Poetry movement, Tonny Moffeit, at Zombie Logic Review. receiving a lot of great submissions there from Outsider and Outlaw poets right now. I hope to see a lot more in the future. 

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Elvira Mistress of the Dark Famous Wardrobe Malfunction

"Hello, darlings, it's yours cruelly, Elvira. The gal with the set you won't soon forget. And I'm not talkin' your basic Trinitron." I wonder how many millions of teenage boys waited all week to hear those words, or others like them, in the early 80's when Elvira hosted Movie Macabre. Emanating from Los Angeles, Movie Macabre went through 140 episodes from 1981-1985, showing classics like Night of the Living Dead, The Legend of Hell House, Tombs of the Blind Dead, and my favorite all time movie, Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things. How many times I sat there just wishing when they came back from a commercial break even more of that legendary cleavage would be exposed. Even fantasizing perhaps one of those breasts might escape the overstuffed black dress entirely. Well, it happened. On the set of the 1988 movie Elvira: Mistress of the Dark.

Elvira Mistress of the Dark Famous wardrobe malfunction during filming of the 1988 movie Elvira: Mistress of the Dark

This is Cassandra Peterson, who portrays Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, at age 61. Peterson was born in Manhattan, Kansas, and worked as a go-go dancer in her teens. Days after graduating from high school she moved to Las Vegas and became a showgirl at The Dunes. It was there she reportedly caught the eye of Elvis himself. She is portrayed nude on the cover of Tom Wait's 1976 album Small Change. In the early 70's Peterson moved to Italy and fronted the rock band I Latins Ochanats. Peterson won the role of Elvira by answering an open audition call at KHJ in Los Angeles, and the rest is part of horror legend. The night Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things was broadcast is the night I realized I was alive on this planet.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

What Is Good?

I've been thinking of the concept of good heavily this morning from the Taosist perspective. I imagine a Taoist might postulate good would involve just flowing into a crevice where something was needing, then performing that role to the best of your ability. 

It sounds good. Like the Universe guiding you to where you need to be. But what would some other schools of philosophy say? I think a Utilitarian would say you might have limited the amount of overall good (or utility) you could have done by foreclosing on one small corner of the Universe. It's hard to argue that. Or that tending one small corner of the Universe could be thought of as minimizing the amount of good one can do.

What if I only do something that's causes only a smidge more utility than the negative consequences? Now, those negative consequences may linger in the Universe and grow in strength and echo through generations in ways I never accounted for, but according to the law of utility I would have done the right thing. Maybe we don't have the foresight or even all the factors we need in present time to make a determination of how much utility was generated and how much dysfunction will occur in the future. But you could get this type of commentary from a freshman philosophy student. What should we do? 

How much should we do? And when? How much is enough? Are we right to "tend our own gardens" as Voltaire concluded at the end of Candide? Is it possible that even when we feel we are giving the most, all we can give, that even more is required of us? I don't know. I feel like I know that no matter how much we do suffering and injustice will still exist somewhere. How are we to not lose our hope in the face of such insurmountable odds? I don't know. 

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Anacin Versus Excedrin: A Zombie Logic Product Challenge

Almost three quarters of all Americans, 73%, suffer from occasional headaches, with 12% suffering from migraines. No matter what degree of headache you suffer from, one thing is true... you want it to go away. Sure, factors like stress, biochemistry, sleep patterns, and diet all play a part in managing headaches, but what is the best over the counter aspirin for treating headaches? Zombie Logic compares two of the oldest aspirin formulations in a head to head test. Anacin versus Excedrin. 

Weighing in at 32 mg of caffeine and 400mg of aspirin, we have Anacin. Simple. Elegant. Classic. 

And weighing in with 65 mg of caffeine, and 250 of both aspirin and acetaminophen, Excedrin has a lot more headache knockout power, especially if you're suffering from a vascular headache and need what is the equivalent of a cup of coffee, an aspirin, and a pain reliever simultaneously. The conclusion seems simple: Excedrin is probably for you if you need a quick wallop to knock out a headache. I currently have a huge bottle of Anacin I just bought, but for long term management of headaches, Zombie Logic recommends Excedrin. 

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