Electricity and Crystal Pepsi Both Suck

It is 2016 and I am still doing this dance. That slow waltz, yapping about horror films, weird travels, crappy food and silly observations of life. I have had huge aspirations here with not-so-hot results. I know, the Halloween Show fizzled and Christmas was just a disaster. I even tried to do a thirteen day give-away and truth be told, only half the winners have gotten their winnings still and its halfway through January. They will but I managed to drag this gift thing out long enough that I should just put “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” on the box.

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So what’s up? Everything going well? Did you see that Dustin Diamond (Screech) had to report to jail for stabbing some guy in a bar? It seems that dude had some pent-up aggression from being portrayed as a goof for ten years. What were we talking about again?

So, things have been changing for the better over here in VeggieMacabre land. Work damn near killed me but dawn has broken. My career can be described like…imagine you are a professional juggler. You can juggle anything; bowling balls, tennis rackets, chainsaws, knives…anything! Now, imagine you are performing and you are mid-juggle and ask an audience member to toss something into the items you are currently juggling. One person tosses in a soda fountain drink. That is how these past few months have been. Expected to do the impossible because people are fucking dicks.

By the way, I am not a professional juggler. I can’t even juggle tissues.

So, I am here to say, I miss this place. I love writing about the dumb things in life and reviewing things no one cares about. It’s a strange hobby but it allows one to live in the moment and share it with someone in Romania. I get a lot of inspiration and if I am being honest, even imitation of other sites and blogs. I guess that is the greatest form of flattery.

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So I am going to tell you a little story of my dumb childhood. That is, after all, the foundation of VeggieMacabre. It’s about Crystal Pepsi, Faces of Death and electrocution.

Back in middle school, I hung around the pretty much everyone but I felt more comfortable with the nerds than the athletic types. My friends Ben and Brendan where the two I spent the most time with and during the weekends we would always be at one of our houses. Those days were filled with comic book shops, Street Fighter 2, Blockbuster and any stupid adolescent food a kid could ingest. It was a great time to be thirteen.

This particular long weekend we lucked out and had a snow day. It was a typical snow day in Georgia which meant enough snow to cancel school in the morning but gone by 2:00 in the afternoon. No matter because the three of us were content to indulge in the finer things in a young dork’s life. Like reading Lobo comics, doing a blind fold taste test of Crystal Pepsi vs regular Pepsi and rent movies with suggested parental consent.

That day I found out three things about myself:

  1. Yes, you can actually be disturbed enough from a film that it ruins a weekend
  2. Crystal Pepsi is not good
  3. Electricity is pretty damn scary

We were at Ben’s house for that snowy Friday. He was my British buddy whose Mom was sweet as could be and his father was the size of dumpster and could possibly punch through a fridge. He was a professional rugby play in his youth back in England and you could tell from the fact he only had ONE EAR!. He had only one fucking ear because it was ripped off in a game against Norway back in the late seventies, before protective headwear was made mandatory. Watching him wear glasses was something of great mystery.

That aside, Ben’s father was a jovial man who joked with us kids and no longer a rough and tough rugby player, he was a rough and sweet CPA for some firm in Atlanta. He used to have weird nicknames for us that didn’t really have any meaning rather it just rhymed. For example, my name was “Willy-McBilly” and Brendan was “Brendan My Friendan”. Silly, I know, but at thirteen you just thought it was a normal part of being a kid when interacting with parents.

The three of us always hung out in Ben’s semi-finished basement. It had everything we needed like a TV, a Super Nintendo, a crappy couch and a poker table behind it. Ben’s dad was finishing it bit by bit, doing all the drywall, pluming and electric work himself and it didn’t matter if we were down there, fully engrossed in Diehard, Ben’s dad would be drilling away.

The movie of choice for that day was somewhat taboo back then and was the talk of every recess since I could remember. Every kid with a jerk older brother had been told about this and whether they had seen it for themselves or just by word of mouth, they captured the attention of an entire lunch table. You know the movie. Faces of Death Vol. 1-3.

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Faces of Death was a macabre documentary of people being filmed in there last few minutes of life. A morbid fascination to horror loving creeps like us, it was narrated by a coroner named Francis B Gröss, who showed us everything from real autopsies to a parachutist landing in an alligator farm to a real electrocution/execution. It was graphic, grainy and completely disgusting. It made us feel as if there was a dark film covering our skin and the paranoid reflections in our own mortality encompassed our thoughts for possibly the first time in our life. It would be an exaggeration to say this was as far away from a feel-good film as you could get. A better example would be to say White is to Black as Care Bears: The Great Happy Snuggle Nubbles is to Faces of Death.

To be honest, I don’t think we even made it through volume one before we had to turn it off and focus on something that didn’t involve awful people hammering open live monkey heads. It was time to find something more productive. A taste test.

Now I don’t recall how long Crystal Pepsi aka Pepsi Clear had been on the market when we decided to do this blind taste test but I do know I was no stranger to the product. In fact, I remember being very disappointed my first time trying the “uncola”. It had an after taste that seemed almost soapy. Besides Van Halen, I really didn’t care for the drink and didn’t understand why drinking clear soda was such a big buzz. Obviously I was oblivious during the eighties and early nineties because these campaigns with silly color changes were everything to people. (Google “purple ketchup”)

Trying to focus our attention away from the awful deaths of 1978, we laid out the little plastic cups across the poker table and used a rolled up t-shirt for the blind fold. Each of us would take a turn guessing what was regular and what was clear.

Meanwhile, while we were hard at work doing a fake marketing test for our own amusement, Ben’s dad was hard at work installing a light switch on the wall approximately ten feet away. A tough guy, knowing how electricity works was mere elementary science and turning off the breaker would be for amateurs or ninnies. He had been finishing out this basement for the better part of the fall and winter so by this time, little things like safety were just annoyances.

It was finally my time to test my senses and see if these taste buds could tell the difference between Crystal Pepsi and boring ol’ regular. With sight removed I raised the first cup to my lips and took a sip. Undeniably , it was Crystal Pepsi. At this point it dawned on me we were really bored and needed to go outside or do something more productive. But, like a good sport, I still had three more tastes to complete. (We did two of each to make sure we just weren’t lucky guessers)

As I took the second sip I smelled something strange, like a battery operated toy that was red-hot from running too long. The hairs on my arm raised and it felt like I could have touched someone and possibly blown a finger off from the charge in my body. I lifted the blindfold and saw both Ben and Brendan looking   passed me and I turned around to see Ben’s dad rigid and holding a screwdriver inserted in the switch on the wall.

Almost the instant I looked over at Ben’s dad, he made what I can only describe as a muffled Grandpa Simpson scream and he broke the circuit with a loud *POP*, the electricity went out and he collapsed to the floor.

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Holy shit! Right after watching Faces of Death, we saw Ben’s father get electrocuted in real life! We were frozen in shock and looked at him for a second before realizing we needed to do something. But before we could even get to our feet we saw Ben’s dad sit straight up and exclaim, “Bloody dickens! I just shocked me fuckin’ self!”

He looked over at us and to see if we had seen his brush with death and he could tell from the horror on our faces, we saw it all. Never breaking a moment from character, he laughed loudly and fell back on the carpeted floor. It was almost a gesture to reassure us that he was okay and a little sorry for scarring us for life.

After a brief moment of levity, we helped him up and Ben ran up to inform his mom that her husband shocked himself and smelled up the basement. She, obviously, went screaming down the stairs and made a huge scene (rightfully so). I had never heard such a wonderful array of British loving profanity.

Ben’s mom carted him off to the emergency room to get looked over. At 49, you don’t take a shock like that and not at least make sure it didn’t toast your heart. Electricity is a funny thing; a lightning strike could just knock you out while a getting toast out of your toaster with a fork could kill you before you hit the floor. Since that innocent, I don’t mess with it. I don’t even trust myself jumping a car and a few years ago I installed a ceiling fan and texted a friend goodbye before I started.

So, that was my dumb story. I will always link to Crystal Pepsi, Faces of Death and electrocution and with the reintroduction of Crystal Pepsi this June. I hope that doesn’t prelude to more electricity incidences.

I am back! Currently I am snowed in so this whole weekend I will be posting videos of me slowly going insane.

 

 

 

The Noun Game….FROM HELL! Part 1

 

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When I was a kid my family used to play games to pass the time during long car trips. Anything to keep Mom from playing the Les Miserables cassette for the fifteenth time. One of those games was “The Noun Game” and how you play is someone choses a person, place or thing that is relevant to the surroundings. The other players have twenty questions and only three guesses before the person with the secret noun wins that round. It passed the time, at least until All Things Considered came on the radio.

I was up late last night doing hours of video editing for this Hell Show and for some reason I started thinking about that game and what would the Noun Game be like if I had to go into the deepest caverns of my fears. I am not talking about Jason from Friday the 13th or even Linda Blair but far far more disturbing. The kind of uneasy scare that seems to put a gloom over the day and causes one to watch the Boomerang channel for a solid eight hours to wash the “ick” off your mind.

Here in my NOUN GAME FROM HELL!

Person: Shaye St. John

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Traveling down the wormhole of YouTube, you are bound to run into many odd things but nothing compares to Eric Fournier’s creation of a tragic shell of a model/starlet who was hit by a train and then subjected to psychological experiments by the CIA. To call these series of videos weird who be an understatement like dropping a chainsaw on your lap and calling it a boo boo. This taps into some of my more primal fears: mannequins.

I know that the creator died a few years ago but I don’t want to research much more into that. When one searches too much into something it takes the sting out of it. I like to think of it as the movie Tourist Trap but for real. The bizarre nature of these videos and settings are played out as if I am actually watching my nightmares on the computer. Art can be scary and this is fucking scary art.

Places: Monster Plantation at Six Flags, Georgia

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Nothing creeps me out more than when something is meant to be cute and charming but comes off as disturbing and grotesque. Like sweet creatures who lure you in and win you over with kindness then tear you limb from limb. The dark ride, Monster Plantation (now Monster Mansion) was one of those rides that had me wide-eyed as a kid and invaded my nightmares.

Just like many dark ride, you tour the animatronic maze in a boat with herky-jerky monsters who sing songs and talk indirectly to you. It is lighthearted but that was the scariest part for me. There was something unsettling in nature like these things could come off track and tear off someones head. I have irrational fears so if you want to stop reading now, I wouldn’t blame you. But do me a favor and at least watch this awesome video someone made from years ago. Am I crazy?

Thing: “It’s A Good Life” from The Twilight Zone: The Movie

The one thing about being a child in the early to mid-eighties is when it came to sic-fi and horror, that shit was real. I mean, not real in life but someone actually made the things that had us turn our head away in horror from the screen. It was a tangible effect that came from the mind of an artist and used to cause years of sleepless nights. I won’t say that today’s standards are less scary but I will say back then, the heart was in it.

Joe Dante directed this chapter of The Twilight Zone Movie and his adaptation made the skin crawl. The story is of an innocent teacher who by accident, becomes gets entangled with one brat of a kid. To make matters worse, he has telekinetic powers and can wish for anything we wants. When she drives him home she finds that his entire family is held hostage to his will and now she is too.

What tips the scale and qualifies for this noun game is close to the end when the Uncle Walt, played brilliantly by Kevin McCarthy, is asked to do a trick and what follows is a series of horrific monsters that are dreamed up by this sadistic little asshole. And what really shines it on is the Merry Melodies theme playing in the background! I mean, talk about mixing childhood love with doom!

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The monsters kept evolving into some of the most hideous and insane animatronics imaginable. I have to say, whoever was on that set back then probably didn’t want to be the one to shut down at night.

So that is Part 1 of THE NOUN GAME FROM HELL. Part 2 is coming soon to a computer, tablet or phone near you but until then, what are some of your scariest nouns? I want to hear them. They have to be the ones that disturb you the most! Those are the rules.

Art, Your House Is On Fire!

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It’s a sad thing when a pop culture icon dies but it’s especially sad to us mid-thirty year olds who quoted their lines in everyday life for laughs and even just a common bond. Such is the case of the Canadian-born actor Rick Ducommun who we lost in early June of this year. If you are not familiar with the name you might be familiar with his character Art Weinberg in the dark comedy/cult classic, The ‘Burbs. I have to be honest, this hit me right in the feels even though we really haven’t seen much of him since the late nineties. I will explain.

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I first saw The ‘Burbs back in 1990, while home sick from school. On the way home from the doctor (who always gave me a damn shot no matter what I was in for) we stopped at the video rental store to pick up a couple of movies for the mandatory bedrest. The two picks for that day were Bedknobs and Broomsticks and of course, The Burbs. BedKnobs because of the obvious ghost armies but I am not sure why I chose The ‘Burbs? Usually my sick movies are the old standbys like Return Of The Jedi or Iron Eagle.

I was adventurous and boy that was a mistake because I hated that movie. The dark themes and bizarre characters where just too much to take for a fever-laden kid. The Exorcist cameo didn’t help, either. No, it wasn’t until a few years later that I gave it another try when it was the CBS Friday Night Feature. Perhaps it was my age or maybe just the mood, but I loved it. Even my Dad, with the one-liners and musical score, became a fan of Joe Dante’s film. Since then on, it was the most quoted movie between the two of us and just about all of those lines came from Rick’s character, Art Weingartner.

The line “Listen to your wife? Who listens to their wife?!?” has gotten my Dad in more trouble with Mom than the time we stained the deck during a ten-mile an hour crosswind only to later notice we also stained her herb garden. We have many common bonds but the movie The ‘Burbs really is a language all our own. Even today I can say, “”Hey Ray, what are ya’ll eating in there?’ and he knows that means “what’s for dinner?”.

So now, fast forward to 2001. I was in a LRS unit, deployed to a little stinkhole of a town in somewhere-Bosnia. I really lucked out in this unit because we were pretty much left to our own accord without much oversight. Our missions were both clandestine and conventional which meant sometimes we were in civilian clothes roaming the urban areas gathering intelligence and sometimes we were doing target acquisition and reconnoissance for Special Operators who did spook operations. It was dangerous, exciting and beat the Hell out of a Korea deployment or large base operations. Still to this day, I take a break to think from the dull daily drudge of my current career and it is hard to believe that was my life at one time.

Sometimes, however, the downtime could get so boring it would drive a person to insanity. With a fire base smaller than my backyard, keeping ones self entertained was almost as challenging as the operations. We couldn’t carry many personal items but we did have a couple of laptops to watch DVDs so when it was snowing sideways or the smell of goat was too much to take we would hunker down and watch one of the ten movies we had to escape.

Our medic was one of my best friends on the planet and we shared a love for my contributing DVD, The ‘Burbs. I swear we watched it at least sixty times that deployment and trust me, that love was infectious. Before we knew it our whole team was dropping quotes like “If I find one more, I’m going to catch him and staple his ass shut!” to “It’s not us, Art! It’s them!”. The locals would look at us and nervously smile when our ‘Burbs talk would start to become more of a theatrical rendition. It helped make everything a bit more tolerable.

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We even took our ‘Burbs obsession a step further by actually incorporating it into a real code for an operation and believe it or not, I have proof. Many times we would use closer range radios when ops would require each team member to be in contact with each other and not have to use Army radio tact. That meant other people could possibly be listening since the personal radios didn’t have the code protection the bigger ones did so our intentions, locations and who we are had to protected. Enter The ‘Burbs quotes which were broken out in every possible communicative need you would need for a mission. And it worked so well, it was almost like pig latin. Once you got used to it, it flowed.

Here’s an example:

The crows are too big for the bird feeder“: Suspicious people or movement

Pop ’em“: Engage

I’d rather chew broken glass“: Do not engage

We broke down specific scenes for scenarios that would or could be experienced outside the wire. Not that we talked in 100% ‘Burbs talk but if an enemy or someone who is a bit nosey were to listen in they would definitely be wondering what the hell we were talking about. And it worked unbelievably well.

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My Grandmother kept all my old military items. From uniforms to awards to paperwork, she has bins and bins of it. Slowly, now that I am settled, I have been transferring them down to the house and when I am feeling a bit nostalgic, I peak inside to remember some great times and some down right terrifying times. That’s when I came upon a few field pads I “forgot” to  destroy when we left country. Usually, you had to burn anything that had sensitive material before you reticulated back to the States but I managed to forget these notes because somehow I knew I would be sitting in my living room showing people that The ‘Burbs actually did play a part of something besides cult film history.

Going back through the history of what this film has meant to me might be silly to most and that is understandable. Maybe that is why Rick’s passing has been a tear-jerker to me?

What am I talking about, of course it is! He was one heck of an actor and we are so lucky he shared his talent with us. I always love the actors who never had any serious roles but somehow managed to be more memorable than the Sean Penn’s and Al Pacino’s of our time. Actually Sean Penn is a bag of dicks but still. I love the ones like Rick Ducommun who made us laugh, and ad-libbed his way into our hearts with lines that you could mumble in an elevator and if someone responded, they were your friend for life.

Goodnight, Rick. Good show.

This Is No Dream! This Is Really Happening!

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Yes, Mia Farrow, this is really happening. Coming this July, The What The Hell Show goes live and soon you will all be subjected to my mind, wit and poor Final Cut skills. This has been in motion since its conception last August and now we are at the final countdown for launch. So what to expect?

Well, the original shows like Beers With Movie Sauce and Spooky Carolina will still be going on (actually better produced and with more people) but it will be under the umbrella of The What The Hell Show. Expanding from there we will be running a weekly podcast interviewing neat people from freelance writers, actors, fellow webmasters to local rock stars and all around fun people. These will be able to be downloaded free and streamed live. Also you can watch reviews, the normal Halloween Countdown and other random fun videos to spend your work hours watching instead of doing your job. I am here for you.

There are other people (much smarter than me) who are helping to make this program a reality and I cannot thank them enough. Especially since they take beer and food as payment. So, sit back and watch  Will, the responsible one and Bill, the irresponsible one, talk about what is happening.

Also, I just learned how to clone so ignore the difference in lighting. Give this old dude a break.

Back To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

I know it sounds lame or lazy to come back over and over again with the excuse of why there hasn’t been much in the way of material for VeggieMacabre lately but no matter what, its true. Work has taken a turn to the extreme with my new position and it’s easy to control your own future but when you take on other people’s future, things get serious quickly. Good leaders inspire, not fire. Lately I have been feeling pretty low for failing others when they have not achieved the minimum requirements for employment in my office. They have failed because I have failed them. That is what my years in the military has taught me. Unfortunately, people above me have never learned those lessons or have been in situations to acquire that skill so I work with what is given to me.

That said, I have really missed what brought me so much joy for so many years. I am not the greatest writer in the world or the most patient of a proof reader, but over these years I have connect, met and become great friends with people through this very odd blog. I have tried different ideas and even platforms but at the end of the day I still comeback to the basics. It’s what works and it is a love.

In order to make anything a priority, you have to invest. Whether that is time or money, the investment makes the hobby as rewarding as it is fun. So I have done it. I have a separate studio now for everything in the works. Not only that but I have reached out and have invited others to become part of the show. These buddies are both local friends to people hundreds of miles away. All are an a key player in something that will be entertaining for all.

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I know what you are thinking, “yeah Will/Bill, we’ve heard this before but then you disappear and then a random post about a shitty taco pops up and then nothing for a month.”

You’re right, I have been threatening long enough. But I am now ready to leap into the unknown with a fully and heavily invested commitment. I hope you like. Now watch this teaser for my long time project, “The What The Hell Show”. I am so excited and man, this will be fun!

 

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