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Scrap Paper Review
Issue #40
April, 1999

©1999 A.D. Sullivan
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Incident Report  Juanita Tobin
Star Wars It Ain't  Billy D. Danzig
Give and Take  Paul Weinman
Beast In My Mind  A.D. Sullivan
A canto for Billy Yeats  Michael Reardon
The Universe Is On Our Side  Terence Ripmaster

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Incident Report

We were just walking along.
She talked about me putting
lies in the report... then threw
her 20 pound pocketbook at me
and tore off her sweater and dress

There she was with nothing on
but her panties and tennis shoes.
Then she took one step back,
put her hands on her hips
looking eight feet tall.

Half a dozen men froze
with their clippers midair
at the hedge along a wall.
I bent to pick up my change
She helped, too. She helped herself.

She had been rebuffed
in the canteen by two men
she asked to be her lawyer
Both walked away and one said,
"I don't happen to be one."

I draped her dress around her
as visitors turned their heads.
She walked back to the building
like a dreamer who is awake.
The men with the clippers never moved.

by Juanita Tobin

Table of Contents* * *

Star Wars It Ain’t
by Billy D. Danzig

What if Orson Welles wasn't lying, and on Oct. 31, 1938, we really were invaded, only after the invasion, the aliens (Martians we assumed back then) brainwashed dear Orson to say it was only a radio show?

This is the premise for one of the best spoofs on Star Wars I can remember. In the world of parody, the hardest things to do is parody a parody, for at some point, one needs to be serious and have a solid food on the ground, a level at which the work will relate to its audience.

In this case, the film succeeds because it doesn't try to duplicate “Star Wars,” but squeezes out its essence of sentimentality.

For instance, the bar scene, so famous from the original blockbuster film, is presented here not with aliens of another world, but with the stranger, new outcasts of our own world, the stick-haired image of Punk (stolen wholesale from the street gang look of the 1950s.)

This is not a punk film, although years after its creation punks have laid claim to it as a cult film, when it seemed to mock the punk generation as much as it did the sci-fi mentality of the Star Wars generation.

The first time I saw Buckaroo Banzai, I thought I was viewing a Hollywood interpretation of the early Beat Generation films, or something out of the surrealistic era, before the 1960s turned everything into dead heroes.

The guns drawn in the bar room scene do not kill. The music stops as Buckaroo goes to sing, and when he looks around, he asks: “Is someone crying out there?”

The wide screen rewards this film with the ability to capture small spaces without having to focus in an individual. The shot which shows the woman crying, also shows the tight, low ceiling’d world of the underground club. The woman is to the side at first, part of the overall scene. She is later outlined and comes into focus as the people in the club become aware of her.

Like Star Wars, this film has many of the small details that could be overlooked as the viewer follows the action, details caught only later during a second viewing or a third. Sometimes, the main plot connects to these in order to make some joke, such as in the chase scene later in the film where the good doctor, dressed in a cowboy outfit, asks what a watermelon is doing at a specific point of study in the lab. It is a passing shot, a momentary break in the hostilities that allowed the review to be reminded that none of this should be taken too seriously, although it is clear that one of the main characters in Buckaroo's troop will die.

The film plays against the ultra-modern technology of Star Wars, too. While in the original film, we marveled over the magnificent space ships and robots and other wonders of the new age, in Buckaroo we are amazed that anything works at all. Each piece of equipment on the Alien's side seems to have come directly from the 1938 landing of Martians at Grover's Mill, where humanity was on the verge of, but not quite yet, breaking through the barriers of technological science. Here, the guts of the equipment is shown, and the effects while sparse, are state of the art.

The weak scenes in the film -- and there are many -- are more than made up for by the film's accomplishments. These aliens, having been trapped here since 1938, have learned the human traits. While bad guys, they bear the mark of humanity all over them, adopting the exaggerations of human faults: jealousy, greed, hunger for power. things that are most appropriate in a time when American elections are based on greed.

The President's advisors are weak because they come too close to reality for us. The invalid president himself, a bit too independent from the sneaky, sniveling, incompetent people which surround him. The idea, too, that the "good aliens" who would threaten the earth by allowing our mechanisms of destruction to work, make the sad touch in this film. For it seems in our time that it is not aliens that inspire such activities, but in the 1980's in which the film was made -- our own president.

Weak points aside, Buckaroo Banzai stands out as another b-film classic, resembling many of those unsuccessful films of the 1950's such as "It Came From Outer Space," or "Them" which we later watched religiously on TV.

Rent the video. But don't wait for the sequel. It is not likely to come.

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Give and Take

That night-time toad sits easily
as I break this worm in bits
tossing each scrap to its quick tongue
and lick of rough lips. That's you
I say. Which...? You ask. Worm?
Or, hand? No, I answer... the pieces.
Then what's the toad? You don't know?
by Paul Weinman

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Beast In My Mind
by A.D. Sullivan

I'd like to think someone can hear me, although it has been months since I've heard word from Earth, traveling out into deep space as I was told.

Deep in the hold, I can feel the restlessness of my cargo, the stirring of a beast that grows stronger each day despite the distance from the sun.

If I dare to turn on the monitor, it will stare back at me in rage, saying without words that it will kill me some day.

The son of a bitch!

I used to get the same look from bulls on my father's farm when I was a boy, that plotting of escape so alive in the mind of a beast, it knowing the full power of its sinews, recognizing no master in the mind of a man.

When we launched so many months ago, I was told that the container that contains this beast is made of metal no mere bull could dent, the hardest material made by man resisting this beast, keeping it safe in its weakened state.

Gravity, my superiors said, is this monster's secret ally, and the lack of it, our civilization's desperate hope.

In theory, the further from the sun I can take this ship, the weaker the beast will become, and the green lights that indicate his imprisonment will remain green.

Europe, I was told, suffered greatly before the beast tired, city after city vanishing under its heated breath, our missiles doing little but to make the beast more angry and push it on so as to wear itself out with its fury.

We put it in a box and rushed it to space, giving me the assignment to take him away.

What fools our kind is in thinking it is alone in the universe, motherless and fatherless and purposeless in its arrival. I study the outer planets endlessly for sign of its rescue, to find a ship that will swoop down upon mine and rip open this box to take its child.

And ever, the beast stirs, dragging itself from wall to wall to wall as if seeking a crack in which it can slip its claws, or blow its foul air.

If only you could hear me now and tell me with your vast banks of computers if it weakens or grows. Is its wish within the realm of possibility?

Even from the beginning, I saw it regain strength, stretching towards the sunside of my ship as if it could feel the warmth so many millions of miles away, drawing from the sun's gravity sustenance, turning aside only as my ship came closer to one of the heavy giants, sipping at Jupiter, Saturn or Neptune, gloating at me over the monitor as if to say, it could not be cheated wholly even as I fled.

I never thought this would be my fate when I fled my father's farm. I wanted only to escape the tyranny of the soil, believing that in order to avoid my putting down roots like my father did, I would have to lift off the face of the planet. But this flinging myself into unknown space brings a pain to me, as if I was the one bound by gravity and not my prisoner, and I was the one growing weaker as the ship rushed out from my home.

Even if the beast does not escape, I shall die from this trip.

We have long since moved beyond a point of return, fuel and food and air down too low to make it all the way back, even to the outer planets where bases still exist.

We might not have made it even this far, had I not ordered to crew to evacuate, they growing more and more restless as we plunged farther and farther into space.

An object will keep moving unless some counter force resists it, one rule of basic physics says, but men will wither in spirit and in body without such force.

I watched them depart, pods firing off the sides of the ship, one by one, their sparks making for the outer bases where they might hunker down and call for help, as my ship sped on.

Speeds on, me and the beast locked into a dance that can end only in death, must end in its death, mine comes as a side effect.

But oh, how it stirs, and moans, and beats at the walls.

I hear its singing, or crying, or pleading, it talking to me long after you have given up, trying to convince me that my hope is lost and earth has suffered worse since my departing it, his family and friends having swept across the surface in a mad rage to revenge him, feeding on the power plants, on the dams, on the gravity of our sun.

It is a siren's song that I struggle against, a test of wills, the beast seeking to lull me into despair so I might turn the ship around, or stop it, allowing the beast to break free.

I will not, even if what it says is true.

I remember the pained broadcasts from Europe during its attack, and remember how helpless I felt to save my people.

It sings to me now, telling me I can be just like it, feeding on powers greater than myself, living for as long as the universe had gravity with which to supply us.

I do not believe it, but I can not shut my ears to its call.

I think of my father, and his farm, and dig roots deep into that earth with my mind, hoping I can generate enough strength to keep on going.

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A canto for Billy Yeats

I am falling into years
the true faith discovered was
the unpurged images of day receding
as a sudden flow

time to put off the world and go somewhere
through intricate motions
things out of perfection sail
Wine comes in at the mouth with that old kindness

All the heavy days are over
come, let me sing into your ear
Autumn is over the dry leaves that love up.

by Michael Reardon

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The Universe Is On Our Side
by Terence Ripmaster

In the 60s, lots of talk went around about "cosmic" consciousness. After reading Eric Chaisson's book, "The Life Era: Cosmic Selection and Conscious Evolution," I am even more convinced that we were not as crazy as we thought.

Some of our cosmic consciousness came from experiments with those "visionary" substances we ingested with some regularity. The zeitgeist of cosmic connections has now faded into the un-cosmic consciousness of Me-too-ism and Yuppy-dom.

However, for those few crazies still interested in how our bodies, minds and consciousness are hooked to the great chain of universal being, Chaisson's book will provide you with confirmation and information.

To put in it the vernacular, we are part of the whole fucking process, part of the order and chaos. Or, as in Chaisson's words: "We are made of atoms fused in the heat of stars," and "Knowledge has expanded to the point where we can think of a unification of ourselves with the cosmos."

Chaisson admits there have been some poets around who understood this connection, ie Shakespeare's Hamlet:

"I could be bound in a nutshell/and count myself a king of infinite space..."

It is often difficult for we banal beings to think in the gargantuan terms that astrophysicists do (Chaisson is on). Few of us have had (or will have) access to the scientific equipment that explores the universe. We are also "taught" in our schools and institutions that such cosmic considerations are only a waste of time.

Chaisson will take you on a trip to flickering galaxies, quasars, black holes, OQ172, Orion Nebula, supernova, neutron stars and the laws of entropy. Reading the book reminded me of the "light" we enjoyed on those elusive "trips" (LSD, ed.).

Chaisson does a wonderful job of mixing the science of the cosmos with the poet's special vision. He quotes from William Blake, who had a special cosmic elegance, and in the pages of Chaisson's book, are also quotes by Ginsberg, Yeats, (Wile the leaves are many, the roots are one) and, of course, Gary Snyder.

Chaisson wants us to know that while he deals in the scientific explorations and explanations of the cosmos, that we can call come to understand the linear nature of the cosmic consciousness. The dead Christian theology of our time still maintains the cyclical interpretation of time and history.

So kids, we are moving on, not waiting for some Godot!

Chaisson's book provides a capsuled history of western intellectual development. There is nothing new under the stun, only new ways of looking at it, and talking about it. This book will make you look up into the sky. This book will help those willing to forget the daily grind to hook-up with the whole cosmos. This book will help some drifting souls from those decades of exploration into the cosmic consciousness, to know that they were not as crazy as this corporate society thought they were.

Table of Contents* * *

Copyright ©1999 A.D. Sullivan
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