The Creature’s Lesser Known Cousin

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JON M. FLETCHER / The Times-Union -Don Barton, who made "Zaat" in the early 1970s, kept the original creature costume in his garage. 2009 file photo. Above: Photo by JON M. FLETCHER / The Times-Union -Don Barton, who made “Zaat” in the early 1970s, kept the original creature costume in his garage. 2009 file photo.

 

Upon the death of Don Barton, the June 10, 2013 edition of Florida Times-Union (and Jacksonville.com),featured an article by Matt Soergel, who wrote “Don Barton brought “Zaat” to life in the early 1970s, and while the movie about a giant radioactive walking catfish-human monster was quiet for decades, it never really went away . . . The 1971 creature-feature played for a while at drive-ins and movie houses, mostly in the Southeast. It was bootlegged and retitled several times, and Barton learned hard lessons about the cutthroat movie business. It had a renaissance, though, after being mocked in 1999 on TV’s “Mystery Science Theatre 3000,” which featured science-fiction movies generally thought of as bad. By June  2001, “Zaat” made it to theaters again, playing to two packed auditoriums at the now-gone St. Johns 8 Theater on the Westside . . . Mr. Barton was a co-founder of the Florida Motion Picture and Television Association and won several awards for documentaries. In 1984, he became vice president of marketing at what’s now St. Vincent’s HealthCare, and later served on the hospital’s executive board.”  Read entire article

I visited the estate sale for the late Mr. Barton  on Saturday, November 2nd and purchased some memorabilia.

Zaat Memorabila 

Jamie Defrates in the movie ZAAT (1971)Above: Jamie DeFrates as he appeared in ZAAT

 

When I first saw Don Bartin’s low-budget horror movie, ZAAT (1971) I was surprised to discover that Jamie DeFrates makes an appearance! DeFrates is an accomplished musician/composer/producer, who lived in Jacksonville, FL at the time. DeFrates was born in Springfield, Illinois. His parents ran a Christian ministry that included a radio show called “The Golden Gospel Hour.” After college he traveled the country, playing guitar and singing in clubs from New York to San Francisco. DeFrates has been a national opening act for: Willie Nelson, Janis Ian, Leo Kottke, Little River Band, Jerry Jeff Walker, Richie Havens, Doc Watson, John Hartford, John Lee Hooker, and others. He eventually settled in Jacksonville, where he established a publishing company and recording studio. The music in ZAAT is credited to Jamie DeFrates and John Orsulak. 

ZAAT movie cedits

Just below the credits for DeFrates and Hodgin, we see “Electronic Music: Jack Tamul,” another interesting Jacksonville musician and composer. Tamul specializes in synthesized music.

Jack Tamul Above: Jack Tamul

 

The April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters magazine and the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD set

Ed Tucker is an aficionado of classic and vintage science fiction & horror films and memorabilia. He hosts the Fan Lexicon twice a year in Jacksonville, FL. Mr. Tucker wrote the liner notes for the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD. The official ZAAT website features an excerpt from an interview with Ed Tucker that first appeared in the April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters Magazine. Tucker begins:

I suppose being born in Ocala, Florida in the 1960’s in some way predestined me to my love and appreciation of motion pictures. The small town of Silver Springs is located so close to Ocala that, today, it is almost considered a suburb of it, but in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a booming conglomeration of widely varied tourist attractions. Chief among these was Silver Springs itself, with its glass bottom boats, jungle cruises, and wildlife exhibitions. Hollywood often utilized the spring’s clear waters and jungle-like settings for every manner of production. From installments in the Tarzan film series to episodes of Sea Hunt and I Spy. But in my mind it will always be remembered for the underwater footage filmed for the 1957 3-D horror icon, Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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ZAAT DVD Features

Cyberpunk Can’t Die

Cyberpunk Sky Static

I’ve started reading three or four books in the past week and set them aside because I just couldn’t stay interested. But finally, I’ve latched on to a good one! I’m reading Time Heist by Anthony Vicino. It’s the real thing. I’ll even give Vicino a free pass for promoting himself in this article he wrote about cyberpunk, because his book really does belong on the same page as these others. The article in question contains the following observations:

Cyberpunk ain’t coming back. Not like it was back in the 80’s and 90’s at least, when masters like Gibson and Stephenson and Sterling were doing their things. No more leather dusters and mohawks cruising the Tokyo slums looking to jack in.

But that’s okay, ‘cause here’s the good thing: Cyberpunk never really left. (Ha, plot twist. How’s that for being entirely contradictory? That’s just me trying to keep you on your toes!)

Cyberpunk has evolved. Into something better? Maybe. Maybe not. Certainly different if nothing else. But here’s the awesome part: It’s been hiding right under our noses the entire time.

Read more (and check out Time Heist)

 

Excerpts of: William Burroughs, “The Western Lands”

The Western Lands    Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00020]

Today, instead of writing my own post, I’m sharing a post from Rudy Rucker’s blog, which begins:

Some notes on the book’s contents.
(1) The “Western Lands” of the book’s title come from Egyptian mythology about the afterlife. Supposedly, beyond the Land of the Dead, lies a heavenly Elysium: the Western Lands.
(2) Burroughs often goes off on these great riffs like you’d find at the start of a story or novel—such as a detective story, or a science fiction tale, or an exotic adventure novel about explorers in the jungle. He slips smoothly into the genre conventions, but then begins warping them, and ultimately he drops the riff once he’s gotten all the juice from it that he wants. He just about never bothers to really wrap up a sequence or bring it to a full conclusion. I especially noticed a lot of great science-fiction twists.

Source: Excerpts of: William Burroughs, “The Western Lands”     Read More

 

Don Lee is a Rock Solid Fan

Don Lee at the final resting place of Richard Sharpe Shaver, displaying some of the many books dedicated to the Shaver Mystery

Don Lee at the final resting place of Richard and Dorothy Shaver, displaying some of the many books dedicated to the Shaver Mystery

Here is one of the best articles about Richard Shaver that I’ve seen in a long time. All the older Shaver articles are great and sometimes I reread them, but here’s a guy who recently went out and did something. This is up-to-date. The guy’s name is Don Lee. He also publishes a newsletter called “Real Weird.” You can order a copy for $5.00 or offer to trade your own zine by writing to: Don Lee, 185 N. Main St # J, Eureka Springs, AR 72632

Richard Toronto introduces the piece like this:

It’s rarer still, that a fan drives to nearby Yellville and the old Layton Cemetery to put flowers at the Old Man’s grave, but that’s what Arkansas fan Don Lee did on April 11, 2015. Which is why Don has been named Shavertron’s “Fan of the Year.”

Click here to read more

Beautiful pictures, by the way…

Don Lee Shaver House

The Parallel Blog Effect

Parallel book cover    Time Heist book cover

There is a blog called Red Eagle’s Legacy, and on that blog, there is an interview with Anthony Vicino, who has a blog called One Lazy Robot. Anthony Vicino is also the author of a novella that I enjoyed reading, called Parallel. I thought, why don’t I route the blog with an interview about a book and another blog through my blog – maybe the end result will be atomic fission. Or maybe not. Time will tell.

 Here are a couple of excerpts from the interview:

REL: I really enjoyed the framework of the parallel dimensions. This sci-fi conceit has been used plenty of times by many different authors and screenwriters, but you used it in a very accessible way. Did you have any inspiration for this?

AV: If I’d written Parallel forty years ago it would’ve been a solid twenty pages longer filled with dense info-dumping. Readers back then simply didn’t have the frame of reference for it. I’m lucky that in the past twenty years there have been a lot of great television shows (Sliders and Fringe) playing with this very idea. As a story device it’s been flushed out enough in popular culture that you only have to lay the barest groundwork and people can jump right in and hit the ground running.

REL: Speaking of well used tropes which was written completely naturally, the Aurora/computer integration. Felt like this was one of the strongest parts of the story background. Your concept of the data integration to the mind just seemed obvious, but I’ve never quite seen it presented this way before. To me it felt like the natural step to where the future of technology is headed. Is that how you see it? Are future humans going to have more interconnection with computers? What’s the basic breakdown of your thought percentages? (i.e.. 5% to breathing, 40% to getting food, 50% wondering if the Marvel universe is actually good or just better than most low brow entertainment the public is fed, etc.)

AV: Oh man, my thought percentages would be so peculiar. I have pretty severe ADHD so I don’t multi-task very well. I work best when I focus one hundred percent on a single task until it’s finished and then move onto the next thing.

The thing I find fascinating about computer integration is that progress in this area is all about improving efficiency. We already interact with our computing systems (smart phones and computers), but we lose so much potential productivity simply as a consequence of how we’re interacting. The logical step is to remove the barrier between computer and brain, creating a symbiotic relationship between the two.

I deal with this concept a lot in my book Time Heist, because the possibilities are limitless. Researchers have already shown such amazing progress in the field of neuroprosthetics (cochlear implants, motor neuroprosthetics that restore movement to individuals with motor disabilities, visual implants) that it’s hard imagining a future where this technology is not as common place as current smart-phones.

P.S. Let me know when you figure out whether or not Marvel is actually any good. This question keeps me up at night. We might need Aurora on this one.

Read the Entire Interview

Time Adjusters on Sein und Werden: The Joy of Encountering a Great Editor

time_adjusters_cover_image_sein_und_werden

Having been in the self-publishing business for a number of years, it’s been a joy to work with a professional editor,  in the person of Rachel Kendall of Sein und Werden, who actually showed a personal interest in my work. I’m happy to announce that my novella, Time Adjusters, has been selected by Sein und Werden to be featured as a free download. Before submitting the story to Sein und Werden, I had rewritten parts of it and added additional material, including the introduction that includes references to William S. Burroughs. With the keen editing advice of Ms. Kendall, I believe Time Adjusters is better than ever.

Check it out here

Phil Clement reviews Time Adjusters

Here is a review written by Phil Clement of my novella, Time Adjusters:

The 1980s were a strange time for me. As much as I wanted to accept the amenities and corporate trappings, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

Having not spent any time at all in the 1980s, it’s hard for me to entirely appreciate the sentiment in these opening lines from Bill Ectric’s Time Adjusters. That being said, even I can tell that Ectric’s novella captures the zeitgeist of the time, incorporating themes of social and economic change alongside a wider sci-fi narrative that imagines the lengths taken by large-scale corporations to stay ahead of the game. Unusually for long-form prose, Time Adjusters achieves this by inserting elements of the cut-up technique inspired by Tristan Tzara and the Dadaists.

It’s highly likely that more people have discussed or read about the cut-up technique than have attempted to read (let alone write) a full length cut-up novel. Generally speaking, because of the mechanical nature of its creation, long-form literature created in this way suffers from a staccato structure that badly affects readability. William S. Burroughs (who popularized the technique) recognized, in 1968, that cut-ups were best used exclusively to highlight inconsistencies in an otherwise linear narrative, writing that he would henceforth employ them “as an integral part of narrative in delirium and flashback scenes”.
It is in this vein that Ectric’s cut-up novella, Time Adjusters, adopts the technique immortalized by the likes of the Dadaists,Burroughs and Gysin. Brief interstitials composed of randomized text break up the narrator’s, otherwise linear, stream-of consciousness to create an approximation the fragmentation of time and space in a world torn ragged by fly-by-night insurance corporations. The story imagines a world in which these priests of litigation have stumbled across a new laser technology that uses orbiting satellites to intercept light waves that bounced off the Earth’s surface, bend these waves forward through a series of prism & mirror relays, and back to Earth, thereby capturing reflections of the Earth’s future topography, to analyse potential sites of floods, earthquakes, and other disasters.

“Nobody who needs insurance ever has it. ‘Epidemic of bad timing’ is what they call it in the news. They think their home is covered, but as soon as they have a damage claim, and the claims adjuster goes out to examine the damage, it turns out the policy has lapsed. We suspect the adjusters are pirating Time-Light technology and triggering retro-non-renewals when they detect a future loss.”

There’s no doubt that, owing to the hodge-podge nature of Ectric’s cut-up interruptions, Time Adjusters is a little structurally haphazard, but on the whole I enjoyed it. This pleasant and adventurous novella that offers a welcome departure from some of the more mainstream offerings that you’ll find on the shelves. Expect to be confounded and entertained.

When my eyes adjusted to the bar’s dark interior, I saw two bikers playing pool under one of those Budweiser carousels in which a team of Clydesdale horses pulled a beer wagon around in circles through the snow. There must have been an electrical problem with the carousel, because the light sometimes flickered inside it and the horses lurched forward, but when the light went dim, those horses stopped in their tracks. That’s just like me, I thought. I can sit here and go nowhere, or I can walk and walk, or drive for miles, but some kind of loop keeps bringing me back to nowhere.

Check out Phil’s blog here.