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.

 

 

 

MoonPies and Starships

There is something to be said for youthful indiscretion. Rational thought usually takes a backseat to terrific stupidity that is completely ignorant of any consequences. I was one of those youths. If there was a food fight in the cafeteria I was the clown to throw an apple. I feel fortunate my indiscretions never resulted in incarceration, maiming or death but that doesn’t mean I escaped all disciplinary actions. Here is one of my finer moments.

It was October of 1992 and I was a freshman at a Catholic high school, bred for mischief. A few neighborhood friends had invited me to the annual Fright Night at Six Flags amusement park and for a 13 year old kid it was one of the highlights of the year. To be unchaperoned at a theme park until midnight was probably the greatest opportunity a kid could have. It was an afternoon and night with creepy characters, roller coasters, funnel cakes, and no parental oversight with contingency plans and meeting points. Nope, we were young men in charge of our own destiny.

We all met, the four of us, at my friend Sandy S’s house since it was his parents who volunteered to take us. Now Mr. and Mrs. S were the envy of the neighborhood when it came to Halloween. They gave out full size candy bars, turned the garage into a spook house and after the trick or treating was over they hosted a Halloween party for all the kids. I don’t know what I looked forward to more, the trick or treating or hanging out at the S’s house? Needless to say, I was of a fan of the S’s.

When we were about ready to leave my friend Ben pointed out that there was a case full of orange MoonPies at the front door. If you are unfamiliar with MoonPies than you must be from North Korea. Ha! No, they are marshmallow filled cookie thing covered in a wax chocolate. You either love or hate them. I was not a fan and a little disappointed that this was the candy of choice for the S’s this year. It had to be stopped.

I explained that giving out individually wrapped MoonPies could only lead to a night of tricks by ungrateful little twerps. It’s bad karma to follow the previous years of giving out full size Twix and Snickers with a treat that was popular in the 1930’s. So we, as caring and thoughtful kids, volunteered to alleviate them of the Moonpie burden and stuff your windbreakers with the individually wrapped Moonpies and Mrs. S could stock the house once again with proper Halloween candy. We did her a favor.

So why would kids who didn’t like MoonPies to begin with want to take thirty of them to Six Flags? To throw them off the top of roller coasters of course! We weren’t going to eat them, silly. No, we came to an unspoken agreement that made sense only to 13 year old boys. There is no rationality behind it, we just knew that it was the right thing to do.

So after we stuffed our jackets to the brim with the said treats, we piled in the car and took off to Six Flags Over Georgia, blasting Smashing Pumpkin’s “Cherub Rock” all the way. Mr. S always was a teenager at heart and he kept current to what the kids were listening to. I remember the car ride there so clearly and how unusually warm it was for a late October day. So the first order of business, we decided, was to dump the cargo and ditch the jackets.

Right when we got to the park and through the entrance the decision on what to go on first was primary. This was the chance to get the mischief out of the system and relieve ourselves of the Moonpies in a glorious display of stupidity that will be the envy of Monday’s lunchtime stories. Should we go on the “Mindbender” with multiple loops and corkscrews? Nah, too short. Should we go on the famous “All American Scream Machine”? No, it’s mostly over water and no targets to hit. How about the “Cyclone”? Maybe, but it doesn’t quite fit what we are looking for…

Ah shit, that’s it! “The Looping Starship”! The one ride in the park that suspends you fifty feet in the air, completely upside down. It was as if it was designed to drop things from it. How many pairs of sunglasses and flip-flops perished on that ride? One could only imagine. Within ten minutes of arrival we were standing in line to meet our destiny as the new world record holders for dumping Moonpies off the Looping Starship. If only mom could see me now.

After an agonizing wait it was our turn to strap into the coaster. The shuttle was wide enough for all four of us to sit together on the same row. The lap-belts were tightened and the hydraulic bars came over our shoulders, securing us from plummeting to the depths below. All we had to do now was some how pull all the Moonpies from our jacket pockets and wait for Ben, the mastermind behind the plan, to say when to release.And then the ride began…

I suppose I should explain the mechanics of this coaster. There are about eight rubber tired wheels on the base underneath the flat belly of the shuttle which keeps the momentum and also slows it down. The shuttle itself rocks back and forth, like a pendulum, until it become totally inverted and completes a series of loops. Here’s a video of the exact ride.

So there we were, MoonPies in our arms, awaiting the command to drop. I have to give Ben props, his patience paid off because there was a point when the shuttle was completely suspended upside down and that is when he yelled, ‘BOMBS AWAY!”. And so we did. All thirty, individually bagged orange MoonPies fell from the Looping Starship. It must have been some sight from the ground to see such a shower of an iconic American treat.

We did it. Laughing and yelling as all the blood in our body rested in our heads, there was sense of forbidden pleasure that swirled around us. And then I noticed something. You see, foresight is not something a thirteen year old boy possesses yet. That comes many, many years later. Only after the deed does reality become apparent. Below us, resting on the tires were the thirty MoonPies, still wrapped in their air filled bags. And the shuttle was making it’s way down again towards them. And this is what we heard when we ran over them.

POP PIP PIP POP BOB PIP POP POP BIP PIP BOB POOF PIP POW BOP!

It sounded as if there was rapid fire machine gun, laying waste to the crowd below. And really, it wasn’t too far from the truth. As we began to ascend I looked up to see that the MoonPies had disappeared from the rotating tires. There was only a glimpse of an orange and white splotch on the spinning tires. But there was also a splat line of orange that lead right to the line waiting to ride the “Looping Starship”. And there were people laid out, covered in orange and white MoonPie goo.  Our triumph soon became terror as the ride slowed abruptly and came to a halt.

Everyone else’s hydraulic shoulder harnesses released but ours did not. We were trapped and I was still holding a MoonPie that didn’t make it out of my pocket. So screwed! The conductor (?) approached and yelled, “I’ve called security and you’re not going anywhere. Look at what you’ve done!”

I did and I still have an image of a poor black woman pulling a glop of marshmallow from her hair and another who was peppered all over her back. Her head was cocked back and shoulders were raised as if she had an ice cube dumped down her collar. Those images are still with me today. But every year they get funnier.

Soon the security guards arrive in golf carts and we were pulled from the ride by the elbow, much like a 6 year old who is bad at a Toys R’ Us. We were whisked away while the caked crowd jeered us. They wanted blood and I was relieved when we were taken behind the secret alley behind the skee-ball machines. That is when the interrogation began.

As the guards conversed with each other, Ben turned to us and said, “whatever happens, do not give them your real name.” That sounded like sound advise and when the guard approached with pad of paper in hand and asked Ben for his name, he verbally shit himself.

“My name? It’s uhhhh….Beeeeyoorrnn?”

“Your name is Bjorn?”

“Yes?”

For the life of me I can’t recall how the whole security guard encounter went. All I know is that we had our Polaroid picture taken and kicked out of the park soon after. We lasted only an hour at Frightfest ’92. I suppose it wasn’t all that bad. Mr. S wasn’t due to pick us up for another 6 hours and we played “capture the flag” in a parking lot of 5,000 cars. We agreed not to tell anyone of the incident but right when we were picked up and asked how it was, Sandy cracked and confessed the whole affair. He was such a cock suck. Regardless it was time to remember.

Boys will be boys.

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