Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What Is The Hall of Bad Dudes?

May 4, 2015

The Hall of Bad Dudes was spawned by the recent debate about Richard III. Upon locating the monarch’s remains in a parking garage recently, the historical consensus that he was one of the most vile villains in history was challenged, and many historical inaccuracies amended. The upshot of the debate wasn’t that Richard was a swell guy and a great king, but that he wasn’t nearly as bad as we have been led to believe by Shakespeare and others. It made me wonder: if RichardII wasn’t as bad as we thought, are there people we’ve been told are great that really aren’t as great as we think. Are there people we consider sacred cows that have flatulence? Are there even people we hold reverence for that might really have been just outright lousy human beings? I started the Hall of Bad Dudes to explore these questions, and the make a gallery of individuals we believe have made themselves worthy of further scrutiny.

BadDudes_(12)

Who are these Bad Dudes? Can women be Bad Dudes? Are there robot or android examples of Bad Dudes? I guess you’ll just have to visit The Hall of Bad Dudes to find the answers to these questions.

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A Monster’s Genealogical Chart: The Monster Club

May 2, 2015

If you’ve ever see the movie The Monster Club you’re no doubt aware what a monster’s genealogical chart is, and how it fits into the movie. But if you haven’t, here’s a monster’s genealogical chart.

A monster's genealogical chart from the movie The Monster Club

A monster’s genealogical chart from the movie The Monster Club

If you watch the movie, one of my all time favorites, Vincent Price will gladly explain to you the various monster species and how interbreeding of monsters, and sometimes humans, creates a vast array of new monsters with different looks and powers. My favorite is the Shadmock. He only whistles.

This chart was created by artist John Bolton, and I have been trying to buy the original now for five years. I came very close at one point when I contacted Bolton’s wife and assistant, and she told me she had discovered it in the basement months before and sold it to a collector. I didn’t even ask for how much because I’m sure it would have broken my heart, but at least I know it exists. The scan you are now looking at comes from an Ebay item I bought which the seller claims to have obtained legally. Aside from this it’s very, very difficult to find a clear scan of this work. Recently I saw someone had spent a great deal of time and effort making this into a full-size poster on vellum. I nearly bought it, but still hold out hope the original will find its way to me someday.

No Real Ax To Grind

May 1, 2015

There’s no real good reason why I have a parallel blog to Zombie Logic. Oh, wait a minute, yes there is. I didn’t think Jenny and people I knew would ever see this blog, and although I didn’t intend to use it to express thoughts or events I didn’t want her to see, it just made it easier to write about certain things that didn’t seem appropriate for Zombie Logic, where I almost never write about my actual thoughts, feelings, or daily occurances. Even now I’m only writing because I haven’t logged an entry in over a month and I don’t want the search engines to forget about me.

I spent the winter becoming increasingly more paranoid about my health. It began in September, around the anniversary of my heart surgery, and started with anxiety over having a stroke or internal bleeding, and that soon led to panic attacks. Going to bed convinced it was a distinct possibility I would die during the night. Arms and legs going numb. It all just built upon itself until I was a wreck and contacted my physician asking for anti-anxiety medication, which he prescribed. But even after this I had an incident where my feet turned purple. This turned out to be Reynaud’s Syndrome. I was was relieved it was not a blood clot or more severe blockage or anneurysm.

Still I was experiencing numbness in my hands, arms, feet, legs, and on occasion face and neck. I soon became convinced I was developing MS. Weeks passed and the symptoms persisted, so I asked for a referral to a neurologist. After a short office visit he ordered a blood panel but told me he didn’t think I had MS. I instantly felt better. Not entirely better, but over the next few weeks many of my symptoms lessened. Only my right hand persisted in being numb. Eventually I considered the possibility that spending too many hours on the computer might have led me to contract carpal tunnel syndrome, so I started using my left hand two weeks ago, and I’m starting to feel much better.

My neurologist called and said my bloodwork was normal, despite having a pretty common vitamin D deficiency. I have been taking 10,000 IU of vitamin D a day, trying to get some sun, laying off repetitive tasks with my right hand, and just in general not thinking about death. I’ve had a good six weeks.

Why am I telling you?

I’m not, really. I’m telling myself. After two post-midnight cups of tea and what promises to be an exhausting weekend of art shows and a garage sale, I’m just trying to appreciate every moment when I feel good. I know many people have it so much worse, and I’m grateful for what I have.

I guess I should say a little something more to get to the magical 500 word count. After five years of careful crafting and nurturing, Google seems to have lost favor with my Zombie Logic Blog. I have faith eventually they’ll realize I’m doing all original material and art, but for now I’m apparently not of any interest to the cyber Universe. Here’s a recent piece I’m ok with.

Poem Thomas Vaultonburg

I Stepped On a Shiitake Mushroom

April 5, 2015

Feeling a lot better with the MS the past couple of weeks. The sun has helped. Got my blood panel results and I have a serious Vitamin D deficiency. Not surprising since it’s cold and gray 350 days a year here. Really happy to be part of Spring Art Scene again. Jenny and I collaborated on two pieces. Last year we had a dozen pieces up, and we sold all but two.

Big Thing

Just put all the mini Plants v Zombies toys in plastic eggs and watched Jenny hide enough candy to feed the entire nation of Ecuador. Can’t sleep. The second printing of our children’s book should arrive Monday or Tuesday. It’s a new printer, and I have no idea how it will look. You still have a few days to pre-order it here.

Tap Dancing Rhinoceros

March 22, 2015

Jenny and I finally got it together to order a second printing of our children’s book The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company. Took us two years, even though the original print run sold out almost as soon as we got them out of the boxes. We’ve gone with a different printer this time, so there’s always that sense of anxiety until you open the box and see that first book is the way you expected it. We have a crowd-funding campaign going at Indie GoGO where you can pre-order the book for the same price we’ll be selling it at the website.

10You can pre-order The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company here It will be here for Spring Art Scene in the first week of April.

Blog Like No One Is Reading

February 23, 2015

Blogs can serve many functions besides just selling products. Mine never sold any products, anyway, so I need to find another reason to justify wasting my time on one. At first blogging seemed like it might be a temporary thing. Something we all did, like citizen’s band radio, then moved on to the next trend, but now that some of my blogs are nearly ten years old, and the platforms they exist on seem stable and semi-permanent, I’ve really started using blogs in different ways.

The first way I use my blog is as an external memory source. Like an external hard drive. I make notes to myself about movies I enjoyed watching, events I want to remember in the future, ideas I want to explore further etc. In the past I wouldn’t have done this because I didn’t trust any of these platforms to be there in the future. When My Space blogs went belly up it really crushed me because I had been unwise enough to use it as my primary blog. I had no other online presence. But it taught me a valuable lesson. Aside from using a blog as an “internet presence,” I had to make a place primarily designed for me. Like a study or a den or, and I hate this word, mancave. If not one other person ever entered my study I’d be fine with that, because it’s a room built for me.

Now, that might be a terrible way to look at a blog if you’re trying to sell something, or reach a mass audience, which I am, but it’s no longer my primary goal.

Another thing I use blogs for is to create a space where I create a fanpage for one particular movie or pet issue I know I care way more about than anyone else on the planet. An example is the blog I curate about the movie Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, or even more frighteningly, about a single character in the movie The Monster Club, Raven Shadmock. I don’t want to waste everyone’s time trying to convince them they should read these blogs, but I know there are a few hardcore fans who do. For instance, I was on Ebay recently tracking down a piece of marketing memorabilia for the movie The Monster Club, and the seller had actually read my blog about the very item he was selling. Unfortunately, I was outbid on the item, which kind of stunk because it was signed by Vincent Price, but the search goes on.

Point? Oh, you can use your blog for a lot of different purposes these days. One doesn’t always have to be doing the hard sell. I think most of us by now run our own business, and with that business comes new responsibilities and stresses we couldn’t imagine when we went to school for something else. Promotion and sales might be the worst. It’s good to have some sort of diversion from all these tasks. Really, there’s no wrong way to use your blog, as long as you make it your own.

Zombie Logic Press Book Selected For NPR’s Winter Reading Series

January 26, 2015

I was really happy this week when I discovered one of the books I edited at Zombie Logic Press, Iced Cream, by Jesus Abraham Correa VII, was selected for NPR’s Winter Book Series.

It sorta sucked I had to find out by doing a random Google search for my own press, but nonetheless I did find out. The 2015 WNIJ Winter Book Series, which begins Monday, Feb. 2, features authors from throughout northern Illinois. At 6:50 and 8:50 a.m. each Monday in February, Dan Klefstad speaks with an author about his or her book as well as his or her motivation and inspirations and invites the authors to read selections of their published pieces.

Iced Cream was the first time I had published another person’s book, and the first in our Rock River Valley Literary Series. Our second book, The Zen of Beard Trimming, by C.J. Campbell, will be out in February. It gives me deep satisfaction to discover new voices right here in Rockford, Illinois, and expose them to a national audience. It would be nice to get more help locally, but I wasn’t expecting it, and recognition isn’t really what I’m in this for. I love my hometown, and think the literary community here is very brave and noble, and want to do all I can to give them a voice.

Iced Cream was published at a great expense, because it contains nine original works of art as well as short stories and poems, and I insisted on doing it sparing no expense. I’m proud that NPR has chosen it for their series, and hope it’s only the first in a long line of quality books that help spur a resurgence of Downtown Rockford and the entire community.

A Book All Young Christian Evangelicals Should Read

January 9, 2015

C.J. Campbell is a first time author with cerebral palsy. I mention the cerebral palsy because it is one of the factors that made his first book, The Zen of Beard trimming, such a team effort. For seven years he has documented his journey, at first to finish pastoral school and find a flock of his own, then as that dream became increasingly complicated, just to find a place in the world where he could have some peace. Seven years of journeys landed him in some very improbable, often heartbreaking, but always fascinating scenarios. Because he cannot rely on his own hands to write his own story, many different hands were used to dictate his story over the years. The true definition of the word “manuscript.” The work of many hands.

He doesn’t want me to hype the fact that he is in a wheelchair, or has a disability, or has suffered some terrible luck, and downright neglect, from people who should have been there to have his back. He has been manipulated and exploited (in my opinion) by evangelical Christian groups on more than one occasion to provide a spectacle for their traveling shows. All of that is chronicled in his book. He never gets bitter about it. As a reader, you might. I did.

he really doesn’t want me to mention the way he was treated by these church groups in any of my promotional materials. He just wants to have his story heard. Perhaps he has given up on his original dream of being a pastor to his own congregation. Maybe he is not as idealistic about his faith as he was when he started his journey. His book will come out in February.

The Zen of Beard Trimming

The Zen of Beard Trimming

Jason Russell, of Invisible Children, wrote the forward. In my opinion the book is very similar to Voltaire’s Candide. Except in reverse. C.J. set out with his faith in tact, encountered every type of zany misfortune you can imagine, and returned home with his faith in tact, but wiser. I want you to support this book. I’m not a Christian publisher, and in many ways this is not just a Christian story. It’s the story of a kid in a wheelchair with cerebral palsy setting out in the world to find the place the god he believes in intended for him. He persists. Things get worse. he presses on.

It’s a look inside a world few of us will ever be part of, even Christians. The traveling evangelical show. He writes about one of the most successful and emulated troupes, based here in Rockford. I think young Christians about to set out into the world would get a lot out of this book. Because faith is not a magic cloak you put on and everything suddenly turns out ok. Sometimes things still go horribly wrong. As they did for C.J. That’s when your faith is tested. As a non-believer, I still have the utmost respect about how C.J. handled those setbacks. I want you to read his story. Please help us in our final week by buying an advance copy of The Zen of Beard Trimming, and spreading the word.

C.J. Campbell

C.J. Campbell

I’ll be honest and admit I’m not a Christian, and this is probably not the kind of book my Zombie Logic Press normally publishes. But I am from Rockford, Illinois, a city devastated by blight, unemployment, violence, and misery. We are consistently told by the national media how awful we are. But that doesn’t stop most of us from trying to make the city a better place. I believe in the written word, and I believe there are very talented writers living in Rockford. C.J. Campbell is one of them. Our paths might have never crossed, but he took a position as head storyteller at Conveyor,a place where people tell their stories in different mediums. My creative partner, Jenny, was mesmerized by his story, and told me I should put his story into print. I told her if she believed in the story this much she could be project editor. She agreed, I think not understanding what a project editor does. (Everything). However, I couldn’t resist, and I was the first person to read the manuscript. It was a mess. It had been written over seven years on notepads, in journals, and then dictated to over ten different people before it was committed to a computer file. Aside from that, I loved it. It’s a very brave and funny story. He never loses his ability to laugh at things most of us would find devastating. What I’m saying is I want you to ignore the fact that I am not a traditional Christian publisher, and give this story a chance.

The Rock River Valley Literary Series To Publish C.J. Campbell’s The Zen of Beard Trimming

December 22, 2014

The current book I’m working on at Zombie Logic Press is about 180 degrees different from the last book, Iced Cream.

Here’s the press release that appeared in Brussels Daily News 

C.J. has Cerebral Palsy, and when I first got the manuscript, it was a mess. It was a manuscript in the true sense of the word, in that it was the work of many hands. The author has difficulty typing or writing with a pen, so over seven years the book was dictated to whoever was willing to help.

And that’s how The Zen of Beard Trimming came to me as editor and publisher of Zombie Logic Press. To be honest, if C.J. weren’t from Rockford, the book might not have been something I would have published, but I’ve made a commitment to publish two books a year by Rockford writers in my Rock River Valley Literary series, and this is the second.

Like a modern-day Candide, writer C.J. Campbell started his journey to achieve peace in the bosom of a safe environment with a well-meaning adviser to guide him, and like Candide, he journeyed out into a world where everything went wrong, sometimes in hilarious ways, sometimes in excruciatingly heartbreaking ways, but always in entertaining ways. Seven years of his travels are painstakingly detailed in his memoir The Zen of Beard Trimming. Punk rock meets leaving Christian Evangelism meets Scandanavian models meets a mismatched cast of unlikely characters and scenarios in a fearless, brutally honest chronicling of the time-honored search for (meaning, love, peace, an apartment, food, and a damn microphone that works).

I hope you’ll check out C.J.’s video at Kickstarter at the very least. I’m proud of this book.

Jonas Gray Ruined My Day

November 17, 2014

When I started playing fantasy football seven seasons ago one thing seemed apparent to me: if the New England Patriots gave the majority of the running back work to any one running back, that running back would be a fantasy monster. So, I drafted Lawrence Maroney. And I patiently waited for the seven other running backs on the roster to go away. But they didn’t go away. Not even Fred Taylor, who was 78 years old at the time. He stayed. For all I know he’s still on the roster, or at the complex somewhere sleeping on a cot in a back room biding his time. Then I drafted Benjarvus Green Ellis, and I waited. For the nine other running backs on the roster to go away. But they didn’t go away. Then I drafted Stephen Ridley, and waited for the head coach to recognize he was a bell cow running back. But between Ridley fumbling on every third handoff, and Belichick’s nuttiness, I never really knew when I would get 15 carries and a touchdown or two from Ridley, or if he would be pulled before halftime because of a fumble.

After six years I gave up. Because one thing had become clear to me: Bill Belichick is fucking with fantasy football players. He doesn’t like them, and he wants them to be miserable. Don’t get into a land war in Asia, and don’t trust a Patriot running back.

My new rule was to stay away from New England.

Last night I had a 53 point lead after Aaron Rodgers did his usual against the Eagles, and I started to relax, because I was playing against two scrubs: Jonas Gray and Coby Fleener. 53 points against Jonas Gray and Coby Fleener. I think I knew I was going to lose even before Gray scored the first touchdown. Because what I had envisioned was becoming true. A running back on this team has always been capable of scoring nearly fifty fantasy football points almost every week for a decade now. It’s never happened. But last night it did happen.

38 carries. 199 yards. 4 touchdowns. You could say who knew, but I think everyone knew.

So, this Jonas Gray, he must be some sort of ultra-talented superman, right?

No. He’s a plodder. Although I know whatever I say here, the opposite will happen, because Belichick makes people look like fools, and in the process often shoots himself in the foot trying to be overly clever, but Gray is no great shakes. In fact, I’d have to guess giving him the ball 38 times was more a show of disrespect to him and his possible future with the team than a demonstration of faith. You don’t gibe a running back you value the football 38 times when you have a game well in hand. You give a stock part you find completely expendable the ball 38 times and tell him to go wreck his body.

I sat there a little stunned, but nothing that was happening surprised me. I wasn’t even capable of working up any anger towards Jonas Gray. Like I said, he may be off the roster next season. I won’t even try to add him on any fantasy rosters this week. Still not dumb enough to fall into that trap. He just as easily could give me back that win in another league by not playing this week. Coby Fleener kicked in the fatal points.

53 points against Jonas Gray and Coby Fleener. Not enough.

Welcome to fantasy football.