A Few Noteworthy New Music Releases

2011 is shaping up to be another good year for music... I've already mentioned some earlier stuff from this year, but more keeps coming out!

The newest Lunar Dunes - Galaxsea - is out now, + like the previous From Above, this is a wonderful trip through spacetime. This is a sort-of side-project for some members of Cornershop + Transglobal Underground that I categorize as space rock; they sound like the lounge band on an retro-future orbiting space station... The atmospheric female vocalizations + wild, wide palette of instrumentation, along with the lightly-jazzy swing of many of the tracks, calls to mind a modern-day interpretation of Martin Denny or Arthur Lyman. Cannot recommend highly enough! Get this shit! Now!


The Atomic Bitchwax is back, this time with Local Fuzz, a release that's a single long (40+ minits) stoner-metal riff-festival. Props to the band for keeping the riffage interesting, too, cuz I don't recall any vocals at all. Maybe there were some, but the riffs were too big for my brain to process anything else...


White Hills have a new one coming down the pipe, H-p1. The first track, The Condition of Nothing, is available from Thrilljockey as an MP3 freebie. Space rock at its modern finest! Now, if they'll just reschedule a live show for Birmingham, AL, before too long...


Valleyland by Empire Express came out of left-field to smack me upside my head. Not a lot of really new ground covered here for fans of guitar-centric post-rock, but they've really nailed the blissful + majestic thing well, with arrangements that sweep nicely from delicate to epic + back again.


Eternal Tapestry's newest is Beyond the 4th Door; it's a trippy, serpentine bit of space rock, with the characteristic gyric song structures of the best recent raga-reminiscent rock.

And a recent reissue of an overlookt 90s Nels Cline Trio rekkid - Silencer. Nels is, of course, in Wilco now; in the 90s, he hosted a New Music night for out + free jazz at the Alligator Lounge in Venice that was often amazing. His original compositions for this rekkid are excellent, as is the lead-off track, a reinterpretation of Gil Evans' Las Vegas Tango that starts out fairly straight before moving into some interesting + innovative reharmonizations...

And that's a few tasty + recent rekkids I've encountered... What'd I miss that I shouldn't've?


He lives only to double-penetrate the Mafia!

As a reward for indulging me in my madness last week (indulge, hell, like any o' ya fuckin' read it! Ya fuckers oughtta be posting book reviews for me! ;) ), here's something a little more conventional: book reviews. They're mostly action-series books but I threw in a little horror and one pseudo-classic (Death Wish) in there, just for variety. If that doesn't shake ya, at least I scanned in a bunch of book covers you can look at. Yee ha!


Nazi Hunter #2: Slaughter Summit - Mark Mandell (Pinnacle - 1982)
Curt Jaeger is the son of a top Nazi war criminal out to make up for his father's crimes and avenge his mother's murder by tracking down his dad and killing him, and any former or Neo-Nazis he encounters along the way. In this book he goes to a ski resort where a cache of WWII gold is hidden and guarded by a former SS major and his Neo-Nazi underlings. Curt's mission is compromised by an Israeli commando raid on the place and Curt is captured, tortured, and nearly killed in a fissure in a glacier. But he escapes long enough to use most of the weapons in his arsenal of a grenade launcher, submachine gun, and a bolt-action handgun fashioned from a powerful hunting rifle. The Nazis are cowardly and inept so they don't make worthy adversaries, and too much time is spent torturing Curt so the actual fighting has to be crammed in almost as an afterthought, but this is still a well-written action novel. The fact that the swastika in the book's logo is facing the wrong way should serve as a warning not to expect too much accuracy, though... but, who can resist reading about Nazis getting mowed down?

Hawk #1: The Deadly Crusader - Dan Streib (Jove, 1980)
First in an action series that puts more emphasis on intrigue and romance than the usual. Michael Hawk is an ambitious journalist who doesn't mind getting in trouble to get a story, and has no trouble picking up women. Arriving in Greece after his release from a KGB prison, he soon finds more trouble in the form of a mysterious Godfather-like figure who doesn't want his secrets revealed. Hawk's determined to discover them anyway, and he's soon the target of assassins who want pictures he's taken, and a girl he's involved with may be a spy, and a lot of other overly-convoluted and not-quite-interesting-enough-to-keep-up-with plot is going on. It's decently written (although overwritten sometimes and a bit heavy on the melodrama; it's got ambitions to be more than pulp, which isn't a bad thing if it's handled well... but it runs away with itself here) and has some good action, but becomes a bit tedious. Might appeal to those who don't usually go for action-series books while it might not for those who do, if that makes sense.

Death Wish - Brian Garfield (FawcettCrest, 1972)
A good deal different from the classic Bronson movie, this novel of vigilantism charts the change a middle-aged liberal goes through when hoodlums kill his wife and leave his daughter catatonic. He wants revenge, but since he can't find who did it, he goes after any criminal he can find, shooting them down without much deliberation. His actions evoke mostly sympathy from the public, and from the police who are supposed to be trying to stop him. It's got some powerful stuff but the pacing is bad; the main character is an accountant and Garfield mires too much of the narrative down in depicting his office work, which is about the dullest stuff imaginable. You get very little action until the last third of the book. Not badly written, but the film improved on it.

Try not to be too terrified as you gaze upon the following image of unparalleled horror!

Tricycle - Russell Rhodes (Pocket, 1983)
It has a completely ridiculous cover and a how-the-hell-is-that-supposed-to-be-scary title, which doesn' tive one much hope but fired up my curiosity enough to actually track it down and read it, and it's better than you'd think. It's one of those "evil killer child" books, but this one is kinda plausible because the homicidal five-year-old's main target is a blind man, who a little kid might be able to trap and terrorize. Simon-the-evil-child's mother is a slut who cheats on her husband with half the faculty and student body at their college, inspiring Simon's jealous wrath against her paramours in the form of fires, unleashed snakes, tripwires, and other nasty tricks. The tricycle itself doesn't really figure into the horror and is just something Simon rides around on a lot, but it's squeaky wheels do serve to warn his blind victim of his presence. There's a surprise twist at the end but it wasn't much of surprise to me; I guessed it before I read the first third of the book, and you probably will, too. The final chapter is so sappy that it was irritating, but overall it's better than a novel with that title and cover art has a right to be.

Penetrator #2: Blood on the Strip
- Lionel Derrick (Chet Cunningham) (BMI-1973)
Even-numbered (and therefore written by Chet Cunningham) Penetrator novel in which Mark Hardin takes on a white slavery operation in Vegas, which is being run by a woman called The Fraulein. Women are caged and trained as sex workers, and the hoods doing it slice up the face of a starlet who defies them. Big mistake, because she's a friend of Mark's. He tracks them down from a bogus talent agency that's a front for the operation and the rest of the book is violent harassment of the Fraulein's operation. Plenty of action, but not a lot of plot -- kind of a trademark of the Cunningham Penetrators. Decent entry.

(My copy of this book is paired with Hijacking Manhattan in a "Double Penetrator" novel. And if you think my vulgar juvenile mind is just making that up, I say thee nay, and I scanned the spine of the book in to prove it!)

Greatest special title since Marvel put out a comic book called Giant Size Man-Thing!

Assassin #1: Manhattan Massacre - Peter McCurtin (Dell, 1973)
Blatant Executioner rip-off by a guy who started several such series. Former trickshot artist and gun-merchant Robert Briganti turns down a Mafioso who tries to strong-arm him into supplying the mob with weapons, and his wife and son are gunned down in retaliation. Emotionally flatlined by the trauma, Briganti sets out to destroy the Mafia using Uzis, grenade launchers, and other heavy firepower. Unlike Mack Bolan, Briganti is a bit of a maniac and isn't preoccupied with civilian collateral damage; he kills anyone necessary to pile up Mafia bodies. Despite his total ruthlessness McCurtin keeps the body count at a realistic number and does keep this at a level where it still reads like a novel rather than a string of shoot-outs. He works in some sleazy atmosphere (everything seems grimy) and even though Briganti doesn't need much characterization since he's become a killing machine that feels nothing, he's not as cardboard as the very-similar Sharpshooter or Marksman. He also sends tapes to the media to draw attention to his exploits, which is psychologically interesting. The style is gritty and worthy of note in a genre that's all-too-often pure assembly-line prose. One odd note: Briganti takes time to attend a crazy, racist Black Power lecture that McCurtin recounts in full, like he's trying to sneak in some sort of odd propaganda. I know these guys were trying hard to meet a page count, but that's strange. Anyway, it's a decent book that delivers what you'd expect -- no-frills Mafia-killing.

Executioner #7: Nightmare in New York
- Don Pendleton (Pinnacle, 1971)
Mack Bolan's war on the Mafia goes to NYC, where he's promptly wounded in a firefight and nearly dies but for the aid of some hippie girls who patch him up and hide him out. They will, of course, pay dearly for that when the Mafia finds out, and Bolan -- who recovers from his bullet wound in about a week - gets revenge in the usual shoot-guys-and-blow-things-up way. It gets a little silly when Mack disguises himself as a hippie -- complete with beads, a headband, purple glasses, and man-purse -- and uses a VW microbus with daisies painted all over it as his war-wagon! But there's a fair amount of mayhem and Pendleton writes it well, so it's an okay -- if average -- series entry.

Decoy #1: The Great Pretender - Jim Deane (Signet, 1974)
First in a short-lived (2 volume) series featuring a horny master thief, Nick Merlotti, cornily known as "The Great Pretender" (which he thinks is so cool that he leaves Platters albums at crime scenes). He's finally caught by the cops after a huge career of big scores and they cut a deal with him: they'll give him a chance to escape if he uses his criminal expertise to help them recover $5 million in heroin that went missing from their evidence room. There's a lot of wheeling and dealing, some strong action scenes (although, alas, not enough of them) and a preoccupation with sex that grows pretty comical; chapter seven's opening sentence is "Tits!" While there's a lot of sex, it's not described in much detail; he just lets you know it happened. The author's only other credit besides this series is a book on how to get and maintain a mistress, and I think he's trying to sneak some of that advice in here with Nick's very direct and effective methods of picking up chicks. Y'know, I think going up to a girl and saying "I'm awful at introducing myself to girls, but I'd really like to meet you. Will you help me get past the awkward opening?" might actually work better than throwing around horseshit, so Nick may have something there. Things get a bit tangled and move a little slow, but overall this is a decent read if you like a little Penthouse forum tossed in with your caper. Deane obviously admired Mickey Spillane because he used some of his structure (explaining the whole case at the end) and mentioned him a couple of times. No great shakes but s'ahright.

Get ready to feast your eyes, for the next cover is truly beautiful:

Notice one bizarre thing about that picture: all the Mafia guys have the same face! Kill the Mafia clones! I almost wonder if it's not supposed to be some kind of action-sequence shot of the same guy being thrown around the room by Johnny Rock's bullets.

And, of course, they're eating spaghetti. What else?

Sharpshooter #3: Blood Bath - Bruno Rossi (Leisure Books, 1973)
Featuring one of the greatest covers in the biz, this is one of the most gruesome and depraved action series entries ever. Mafia-goon-killing-machine Johnny Rock (occasionally referred to as Magellan because the writer using the Bruno Rossi pseudonym this time forgot he wasn't writing a Marksman book) comes across as a real psycho here, kidnapping anyone with vague connections to the Mafia and chaining them up in a waterfront warehouse to feed them to rats he's been collecting. Occasionally he forays out to blow something up, but mostly he tries to torture info out of his captives, or chops off their body parts to feed to the rats. He machine-guns one guy until his arm is severed but still handcuffed to a Mafia bigwig's wife; of COURSE she falls in love with him after that. One of the guys he chains up is black, a fact which "Rossi" definitely wants the reader to know for some reason, hammering us with reference to "the black" and "the Negro" and his girlfriend, "the Negro wench." So add racism into the sleazy, plotless slop of gore and sadism and you've got yourself quite the early 70's cheapo pulp artifact. I have to admire it when an author makes me feel like I'm reading something I really shouldn't be reading, and this is one of those books. The story's written like the writer was paid by the word, with adjectives thrown on with a shovel, and the grisly details are piled on like an EC horror comic: rat-gnawed bodies, blood-filled bathtubs, fiendish torments, and psychotic behavior on the part of the "hero," who is free from any characterization whatsoever; he just kills Mafia guys and that's it. There's more pretense than plot, with Rock trying to track down heads of crime families, but that's actually just a diversion from the absurd and lurid rat-feeding. Junk, of course, but such junk that it counts as a classic of its kind.

For more info about this wonderful book, there's an in-depth exploration here, with lots of sleazy excerpts.

Donovan's Devils #1 : The Assassination Is Set For July 4
... - Lee Parker (Award Books, 1974)
Dirty Dozen style commando action in which a tough soldier named Donovan (under orders from the president) assembles a team of misfits -- a thief, a professional killer on the run from the Mafia, an angry black man who's in trouble for killing a pusher, a big biker, a moonshine runner, etc. -- to go after a South American warlord in Paraguay. He's got some important American hostages and plans to murder them, so Donovan and his squad have to rescue them. It's nicely written but at 154 pages it's a little rushed; trying to cram the set-up of the situation, the assembling of the team, and the mission all in and still leave room for characterization of a whole team of guys is a lot to accomplish. It manages it well enough but comes across as a little generic, but not bad. Two more followed in the series.

If you like this kind of stuff, I recommend the following blogs which cover similar things. I always find interesting reading when I visit 'em.

Bullets, Broads, Blackmail and Bombs

Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot

Too Much Horror Fiction
Glorious Trash
Groovy Age of Horror
Rough Edges
Phantom of Pulp

And if you don't like any of that, you can follow me on Twitter and see if silly, vulgar, immature humor is more to your liking.

And if none of this pleases you, then you can just suck my dick, I guess, jeez, whattaya want?


Mogwai + Errors: Birmingham, Alabama (19 May, 2011)

Mogwai stoppt thru Birmingham, Alabama, with supporting act Errors, at WorkPlay a couple of nights ago. And what a fucking show. Check out the included pix (courtesy of pal + snappy local musician, Donny Guitar).

Errors started up just after 8p + played a 45 minute set that included much of the material from their recent rekkid Come Down with Me. Their set was a tasteful-yet-freaky combination of post-rock + electronica, and there were moments that their keyboard-driven sound was highly evocative of some of the best early synth-punk. Excellent. Fucking. Band.

The only thing that could come close to a complaint is that, to a set of ears tuned to the Deep South, a Glaswegian accent is hard to follow (+ I bet that it was waaaaay worse for the band members, trying to understand some crazy-ass redneck accents)... but, really, that nigh-impenetrable Scots brogue was quite endearing. The skinny here is that Errors is another Scots band, one which Mogwai signed to their rekkid label. And one which shares a drummer - one James Hamilton - with Mogwai this tour (Mogwai's drummer was unable to tour with em this leg). And Hamilton is fuckin' amazing, keeping a super-tight groove-pocket pulsing + living while playing stuff that also incorporates a good bit of sequenced keyboard parts. Of particular note in that regard: "Supertribe" off Come Down with Me by Errors, which leaves me with a big shit-eating grin + a delicious aftertaste of very early New Order or classic Tubeway Army...

Mogwai took the stage after a very short 'twixt-break (which was a nice opportunity to chat with a dude at a neighboring table, there to see Mogwai for the 26th time - !!! - + to dip outside for a quick cigarette - cuz tobacco smoke is on the way out as a health risk at the same time that people are knocking back alcoholic bevs left + right...) + blew the doors off the space!

Their sound continued to grow larger + larger, louder + louder, throughout the set, creating epic soundscapes that pulled everyone into the mix. The set included choice tracks from their newest, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will + featured the band playing some serious musical chairs, as everyone except the drummer (+ he played for BOTH bands, so he wasn't exactly slackin', either) proceeded to switch instruments repeatedly during the set, including some HUGE sonic moments with guitar upon guitar upon guitar layering that yielded some of the most epic-sounding live music I've gotten to experience.

(Ho... Lee... Shit... wouldja just look at all them pedals! There were more pedals onstage for the Mogwai set than in any local music store's stock... gives you serious gear-wood if you're a musician...)

This clip of them live is from just a coupla days earlier on the same tour:

Gotta say that this easily ranks with the best shows I've seen, which includes some excellent shows: Sonic Youth / Mudhoney / Kurt Cobain / Pavement at Castaic Lake in 92, repeated Tortoise shows at the Palace, Knitting Factory LA, etc., Isotope 217° / Jet Black Crayon / Nobekazu Takemura somwhere in LA (99 maybe?), Pharoah Sanders (and, like, wow! was that old dude insane + awe-inspiring!!!) at Catalina's Hollywood (97 maybe?), fIREHOSe at the Ivory Tusk in Tuscaloosa (90 or 91?), Jane's Addiction doing an impromptu acoustic set at Amoeba Hollywood in 02 while I was working (nice getting paid to do a job you love + see a band you like do songs you love), Nirvana / Das Damen at the Omni/New Daisy in Memphis right after Nevermind's release...

Now, if we could just get Tortoise to come back Alabam' again... (+ maybe our sometime-posting brother Da5e will post about the next night of the tour in Atlanta, which he + Lady Da5e were scheduled to attend...)


Rednexx & Th' Sweatin' Man: ... And Make Tombs of Your Cities!

This probably needs kind of a warning, just to spare myself an "intervention" or something.

Occasionally I like to just spout terrible, absurd wordplay that probably only I think is funny, and one of those times has arrived.

What follows are a few chapters from a never-ending, plotless, damnably stupid novel I sometimes work on, and which everyone who's ever been subjected to it seems to absolutely hate, even if they love my other stuff. I think it makes 'em uncomfortable, which makes it seem even funnier to me. I hope ya'll will like it, but if you don't it won't surprise me or hurt my feelings. I'll probably do it again even without encouragement, because it cracks me up.

The basic premise is a redneck couple in Buttdimple, Mississippi is visited by a large, miserable, inarticulate Sweatin' Man, presumably forever. George-Bob is very stupid but busy; he likes to do things. Sally-Lou is perhaps slightly smarter and very pretty, if you really want to believe what you're told, which isn't a thing I ever advise ye do. You can arrange the chapters in any order you want, it makes no difference. The titles are unrelated to the content; if they are, then it's only because I fucked up. If it confuses you, fear not, that's exactly what insanity is supposed to do. Don't try to make sense of it, there is none. I'm just trying to write a Rorschach blot. Find the butterfly, or find the puppies fuckin' the chipmunk, it's all in what ya bring wit'cha.

It's not literature, it's tequila. And you should slam it and then eat the worm if you mess with it at all.



When the phone rang this time it was crazy ol' Mr. Babyshark from down 'cross the way there, in that house with the lean to it and the babydolls in the trees. Who knew that ol’ rattleskulled ol’ cuss even had a phone? We do, now, I suppose. Congratulations, us!

"WELL HOWDY-DO!" screamed George-Bob into the phone, thinking it was deaf ol' Mr. Picklecheese instead.

"Who makin' that ol' dookiesmell, yew whore-eyed whapdookus?" replied Mr. Babyshark, who was as crazy as Sally-Lou was pretty. He grumbled when he talked, like a dead man's belly digesting itself.

"What's that you say?" said George-Bob, said he.

"I'm Delbert Simpkin's mama if I'm a day old!" declared Mr. Babyshark. "Comin' round there later to kick myself a fine doghouse out of yer wizened ol’ windhole! That’s my aim, bank on it, Melvin!”

“Perhaps you have the wrong number,” said George-Bob, as his mama always said when he called her.

“Jezebel! I shall fricassee up a breakfast of your descendents, none of whom could bear to wear a pair o’ britches for longer time than it takes to boil an owl! You think I ain’t aware of the ceremonies takin’ place at yore farm? Yew an’ that unholy chocolate-hot-dog-cult yew been presidin‘ o‘er? I seen it with mah own three testiculars! The wind tells me of abominations and a choir of sores! By the fat of mah taint I’ll see the end of this or mah name ain’t whateverthehell!”

“Mr. Babyshark,” said George-Bob helpfully. Or it would have been helpful had he been dealing with a sane man.

“My name is Cum!” insisted Mr. Babyshark or whateverthehell. “Don’t wear it out ‘less you got a coupon what says you can do such, you fuzzy tit-eyed malfeasant!”

“Certainly so,” replied George-Bob, who had no idea what a malfeasant was, and only a vague notion of a coupon, either. You have to remember, George-Bob was a fellow who’d never even been to Shreveport.

“Yew got that ol’ Sweatin’ Man visitin’ with ye! Him who ravished mah woodshed of Thursday last! Semen and hairy poo-chunks hung from the ceiling like the chandeliers of Midian’s ballroom! Looked ‘n’ smelt like Axl Rose his damnself had thrown a pantsless frolic for ol’ Beelzebub! My chicken don’t walk right and mah Ebbie-Sue still ain’t speakin’ German like I distinctly remember she used to though she denies it in her obstinance, the cess-fattened cheese-cuttin’ tornado-jockey!”

(Ebbie-Sue was Mr. Babyshark’s wife, although their marriage ceremony had been a long and incredibly frustrating chore that had left three dead. Mr. Babyshark’s previous wife had been a portable radio.)

“I don’t give a goddamn-hell, ah mean to have mah crackers, and I don’t care if I have to take all the screws out of your tractor and replace them with ones what I carved from the wood of a lynchin’ tree, are you hearin’ me, junior?”

“I’m hearin’ ya,” said George-Bob. The ol’ Sweatin’ Man and Sally-Lou looked askance at him, and he looked askance back, so they shrugged. Sally-Lou went back to gift-wrapping individual butterbeans.

“Speckled bedsheet unfurled in the wind, there came ol’ Grandpa Fuckyou, come to pay his disrespects right on mah porchswing! The gingerbread armies were on the march soon thereafter, and that is how the Battle of Steamboat Hill took place way back in 2017,” grumbled Mr. Babyshark. There was a wet smacking in the background, like a toothless man struggling with a corn-on-the-cob, but you can put that out of your mind, for it is of no consequence; I just thought you might like to know. “The devil’s just as happy shittin’ in yer pants as he is his own, and he don’t give three toots for the speed limit! You remember that if you don’t wanna be put in some sort of little metal box and I don’t know what happens to you after that, ‘cuz nobody does! That‘s devil-business, that is!”

“I’ll keep that at the foreskin of my mind,” promised George-Bob, meaning “forefront,” but isn’t it just as good? I’ll say! Let’s agree!

“The lawnmower! O Christ! I’ve told ol’ Festrunk Jones that walkin’ ‘round with a backpack full of cole slaw was a bad idea, but did he listen to me, NO, and was he eat-up by rats, YES! So just Martha Stewart the hell out of some of that with your sweet goody-hole, baby blue! Sit down, shut up, and fight fight fight!”

“I do believe it’s Tuesday,” said George-Bob, struggling to hold up his end.

“The reason you can’t get a decent two-by-four to fit anymore is because east is a whole lot more far-off than all the other directions. My pajamas ain’t got no zing to ‘em now, not since the muskrat was enthroned on the pinnacle of the Colossus!”

“Well I’ll be dipped in Minwax and damned for a so-and-so,” said George-Bob. His hair lay lank atop his head, like a pat from the hand of an affectionate dead man.

“The pissteats are back and swollen with want of milking! I can’t abide my wardrobe no longer, so I’ll make a mask from the skin of a chicken and do me a greasy kind of dance on the grave of a murdered clown. I declare I will!”

“You will, I betcha,” quoth George-Bob.

“Ah’m storin’ my shits in pickle jars on the shelves of WinnDixies all across this land and nobody’s none the wiser. All of ‘em sleepin’, them with their telephones and their spoons and yarn. My eyebrows are real interesting to think about, how salty they are.”

“I’ve found that to be true,” said George-Bob, rubbing at his own eyebrows and then licking his fingertips. Why, that was tripe, wasn’t it? With a hint of marmalade?

“Late at night I hear the needle scratchin’ at the end of the record in mah head, and I know I done run out of thinkin’. You got your work cut out for you if you plan to rape a porcupine, that’s what the man in the TV says. Not that I trust him. His skin is made out of French fries cleverly interwoven.”

“I never watch him,” said George-Bob, damned liar, he.

“There’s six germs in mah stomach and they don’t agree with each other. They were placed there by a possum-nurse under orders of the Illuminati. One day long before we’re ready they’ll emerge from my hindermost in the form of a butt-Cheeto that will rule the world and we’ll all be the sorrier!”

“That so?” George-Bob challenged.

“Yeah, so I just wanted to call to apologize. Bye!”

“Bye,” said George-Bob, hanging up.

“Who was that on the phone?” asked Sally-Lou.

“Oh, that was me,” said George-Bob.


The clown had appeared on the horizon about noon and had come sailing in about thirty feet off the ground, floppy shoes a-floppin’ and ah-oo-gah horn a-ah-oo-gah-in’, a marvel to witness until the flak cannons brought him down. Smoking, fishtailing more than spiraling, he had smacked into the trailer’s front yard face-first, bounced once, and then landed on his back where he lay like a mangled sunbather who hadn’t found the beach. And there he lay, dead as Rudy Guiliani’s chances.

George-Bob, Sally-Lou, and th’ ol’ Sweatin’ Man himself all went out and gathered around the corpse and gazed upon it with a kind of wonder, for it wasn’t every day that a flying clown crashed into one’s yard. Indeed, sometimes a whole month would pass without this happening, fuckbuddy.

“He’s still kind of funny,” said Sally-Lou, pointing at the baggy pants, the wide orange polka-dot tie, the made-up ruin of a face behind a plastering of blood, gravel, loam, and abraded bone. One eye slipped from its socket and dangled next to the ear like a novelty Ipod ear-bud. It didn’t make a sound, but you can overdub “boy-yoy-yoing-g-g!” over it in your mind to soften the tragedy. Isn’t imagination kind to us when the lights are on?

“He makes me laugh,” said George-Bob offhandedly, hands in his pockets.

Th’ Sweatin’ Man merely watched, lost in thoughts of the bacon for which he had a hankerin’.

“Once I had a pet clown,” said Sally-Lou. “But I forgot to feed him, so he died. Not from starvation, though. He bled to death while trying to eat his other leg. I loved him a great deal, but apparently not enough to awaken any sense of responsibility in me. His name was called Mr. Funnybunny. Stephen Daniel Funnybunny. He was an ol’ shit when he was drunk. We left his moldy corpse in grandsister’s bed as a prank.”

“That makes me laugh,” said George-Bob listlessly as he leaned a bit to port.

Th’ Sweatin’ Man desired two eggs, no, three. Four, then.

“I like dancin’ dogs,” said Sally-Lou. “Charmin’, they is.”

“You can train a possum to suck on things,” announced George-Bob even though he probably shouldn’t’ve. “Only thing is, only certain possums will do it. Others will bite and hang on like the dickens. So, it ain’t worth the risk if you ask me.”

Th’ Sweatin’ Man decided if he could sharpen his elbows somehow, it might prove an aid in bringing down his prey, the might caribou.

The dead clown gave a twitch, then decay set in. Clowns go pretty quickly in this environment, as you well know, you with your Uncle Monty. Maggots began to swarm like spilled popcorn at the circus of the insipid. A buzzard swooped down and made off the clown’s liver, and George-Bob shook his fist at it, more for dramatic effect than anything else, as George-Bob had no real use for a clown-liver, anyway, if we’re too be at all honest, and in any case this one had been burst by the deadly aim of the Wehrmacht’s thundering 88’s.

“Well, I suppose we’ll need to have a funeral,” sighed Sally-Lou.

“Yes, I suppose that I suppose that as well,” George-Bob supposed.

And so they did have a funeral of sorts, except for th’ ol’ Sweatin’ Man, who went back inside because Hogan’s Heroes was on TV, and Hogan’s Heroes is some funny shit, boy.


“So I made a chocolate cake, and I iced it with deviled ham,” said George-Bob, wielding a spatula for emphasis. “Then there was a marvelous cheesecake, topped with asparagus spears.”

“Cheesecake gives me the wind,” said Sally-Lou. The very fussy Sally-Lou.

Th’ Sweatin’ Man thought how nice it’d be to have a bit of breeze, no matter how brief and foul and colon-born.

“I have a recipe for blueberry muffins, but with olives,” said George-Bob, then kissed his fingers and flicked them out in a gesture that said “magnifique” or something else suitably French. “And I could make us some moose-piss floats, but I don’t have any ice cream.”

“Once I almost ate a compact disc, because I forgot,” said Sally-Lou, phrasing it in the form of a complaint. Moody was she.

Th’ Sweatin’ Man fanned his face, thinking of Hades, of the desert, of a fat whore’s armpit gone unweeded.

“Around the end of May I always make my special sardine bread,” said George-Bob, gesturing with his spatula like a culinary semaphore. “Spread thick with my special pickle-strawberry frosting, it’s a thing to put in your mouth and challenge yourself with!”

“My father doesn’t understand the concept of TV dinners,” Sally-Lou griped, itching herself with vigor. “Once he ate most of a Zenith.”

Th’ Sweatin’ Man shifted, trying to ease his rash-filled buttcrack, without avail. It reminded him of an umbrella filled with fireants.

“Then there’s my cranberry potato salad, topped with rich cabbage gravy. With sticks of cinnamon pork-cheese for dipping, mmm-mmm! The only drawback is that it’ll give you the shits such that you’ll leave yellow spots on the moon!”

“The moon is my enemy,” Sally-Lou groused. She wanted enemies, it seemed, acting as she did. Spiteful thing, brazen stepchild!

Th’ Sweatin’ Man wished to be on the moon, enemy planet or not. There it would be cool, an atmosphere of frost that would act as balm to his tortured hide. The heat-bumps on his taint would resemble a Christless Sierra Madre.

“Housepaint can be a condiment,” said George-Bob, accidentally slapping his own face with the spatula, with startling force. “And cigar ashes make a fine seasoning. A chicken, stuffed with cigarettes, can be wrung out for a magnificent gravy, just like grandpa used to make when unattended. Also I am fond of my special San Jose peanut butter and jelly sandwich, where one uses slices of Spam instead of bread.”

“If I had a revolver, I’d use it,” snapped Sally-Lou. Her scowl was unbecoming on a face that was usually so pretty, damn her. It’d make you mad to see it.

Th’ Sweatin’ Man thought that if he had a revolver he’d fan himself with it. Maybe shoot a few holes in the walls, let a little breeze in. He waited for an opportunity to take off his pants.

“You can cover macaroni with pudding of your choice, though I recommend butterscotch,” said your best friend George-Bob, he of the spatula. “Pour over a mix of sirloin and trout, and, why, you’ll have something!”

“That’s what I’d like, something,” said Sally-Lou, though she said it with such venom that you’d have to doubt if she’d really like something, or anything else. Anger was her lot, and discontent besides. An attitude like hers you’d best toss in a wastebasket.

Th’ Sweatin’ Man wiped at his face with hands too sweaty to wipe away the sweat of his face; it was like trying to scrub a pond with a river. Under his man-teats you could bake a pie which none would have the fortitude to, subsequently, eat.

“Speaking of pie, you grease a pan with Turtle Wax, lay out your dough, pour in the corned beef and the apricots, top with a glaze of stewed ham in buttermilk, then cover with meringue and bake, and, mmm boy, you betcha!” said George-Bob, wild of eye. “Then you can go American-style and shovel on the cheese. Wash it down with high fructose corn syrup, deal with the aftermath by taking various pills, and die before our time. That’s how we roll, dawg! Woof woof!”

“Shit,” said Sally-Lou, the grump. Why was she being like this? Her demeanor was the sound of jackboots marching on gay Pairee, the Hell’s Angels crashing Altamont, the Ku Klux Klan throwing a bris.

Th’ Sweatin’ Man despaired of ever finding relief on this side of the grave. He whimpered. The environment was his dominatrix and he wasn’t into that.

“Did I ever tell you of my potatoes a’la Ex Lax?” asked George-Bob, and it was agreed that he had not and would not.


More someday, probably. That's a threat!

Follow my somewhat-about-the-same on Twitter, purtyplease.


The Name of the Game is Badass

Book review time! Some of these are brand-spankin' new, some of 'em are a tad older, one's criminally out-of-print, and every one of 'em is worth tracking down and buying. Consider this one a shopping list, because there's not a bad one in the bunch.

The Weight - Andrew Vachss (Pantheon, 2010)
Excellent stand-alone crime novel from Vachss, a master at trimming off the fat and leaving just lean, hard prose. In this one a musclebound professional thief, “Sugar” Caine, is misidentified as a rape suspect. He didn’t do it, but his alibi -- that he was committing a heist at the time -- is NFG, and since he was carrying a parole-violating gun on him when he was picked up, the cops have him in a position to make deals. Since Sugar’s code will not allow him to give up his partners, he does a reduced sentence for the rape he didn’t commit. When he’s released he goes to collect his share of the heist money from Solly, who planned out the job, but Solly sends him after a book held by another mastermind, Albie. Albie is now dead. As Sugar deals with a girl Albie took as a pupil, he figures out that there’s something more crooked and sinister going on than he could have suspected. It gets complex, and Vachss is never too forgiving if you can’t keep up, so ya may lose a thread here and there, even if you re-read the explanations... but, I kept on track more than enough to enjoy the hell out of the book, and the writing is brilliant as always. I have a habit that I only seem to do with Vachss’s books -- I don’t believe in writing in or highlighting books, but I keep a slip of paper in his to write down page numbers with especially good lines, and I racked up lots of those before I was done, from the humorous (“The fat fuck’s idea of exercise was chewing”) to serious Art-of-War-worthy mottos (“A guy who’s gunning for you should never know you’re carrying steel, until he feels it go in.”), to the almost-Zen (“Always add everything up. If you do that right, whatever’s missing, that’s what you’re looking for.”). So, even if the plot got a little tangly for me (and that’ll probably clear up when I read it again -- and Vachss is a guy I do read again, and again) there are a whole lot of good lines put together, like always, and you’re strongly urged to check it out. Recommended, but with this writer saying that is practically a genetic imperative for me. If I can do nothing else on this blog but turn you on to this man's work - both written and otherwise - then I'm satisfied.

Visit Vachss at his website, The Zero, and follow him on Twitter, where he offers a wealth of those quotable lines I was talking about. And if you're not sold yet, go read an excerpt and you will be.

The Dead Man #3: Hell In Heaven - Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin (Adventures in Television, 2011)
The third entry in the horror/action series is an odd one; the hero, Matt Cahill, drifts into an off-the-map town called Heaven (no relation). It’s an archaic community, run by warring clans, and has apparently been expecting him. While defending himself from a supernatural (and pretty dadgum gruesome - good work, guys!) attack, Matt frees the townspeople from tyranny... only to find that they like tyranny and are counting on him to take the former oppressor’s place. When he tries to refuse, very bad things happen and may only get worse, because it’s another trap by his enemy, Mr. Dark. Yet another solid (albeit short) entry in the series, which you should still get into before you get too far behind. Plenty of gore and axe-swinging action, and a higher level of surrealism than the previous entries; Goldberg and Rabkin play around with reality a bit and make you wonder if everything is really as it seems for Matt. The bonus preview of the next entry (The Dead Woman) and Goldberg’s great Jury series (better known to frequenters of this blog as .357 Vigilante, right, kids?) are welcome extras.

*edited to remove a mild complaint that was explained in the comment section. :)
Here's a Dead Man blog, and you can follow the series and Lee on Twitter.

The Last Zombie: Dead New World - Brian Keene, art by Joseph Wight (Antarctic Press, 2011)
Here's a zombie comic to tide you over between installments of Walking Dead, and to provide that excellent series some competition (but not really because I suspect fans of this kind of stuff are going to be doing what I’m doing - buyin' both!). In this zombie-apocalypse scenario, the bulk of the undead horror is (apparently) done, as most of the carnivorous dead have been killed off for good. But the plague that caused them is still out there, and while our main protagonist, Doctor Scott, has come up with a vaccine, it's just a stop-gap and will only slow down the plague's effects, not inoculate against it or reverse it. Dr. Scott has a fiance in a bunker in West Virginia, but communication with her location has ceased, ad they don’t know if it’s just equipment failure or something more sinister. Dr. Scott talks his way into joining a military caravan from his base in Colorado to see what’s going on at the other base. Since the zombies are supposed to be eradicated, it should be a relatively safe journey. It isn’t. There are other diseases out there, and other survivors have gone to Road-Warrior-ish extremes, so our heroes have big problems... which means we’ve got another great zombie-based comic to look forward to. Keene’s writing is great as always, and the black-and-white art is strong and moody (although they’ve been a little heavy-handed on the grey wash, making things too dark sometimes, which loses detail). Bring on the second one, Last Zombie: Inferno.

Learn more on Keene's blog (which is a place any horror fan should have bookmarked - it's an indispensable hub for news on horror fiction) and follow him on Twitter.

Every Shallow Cut - Tom Piccirilli (ChiZine Publications, 2011)
Harrowing portrait of despair, kind of like Falling Down meets Travels With Charley. A not-very-successful writer’s marriage goes as bad as his career and he ends up homeless without much left but what he can fit in his car, and his bulldog, Churchill. Then a gang of punks try to take what little he has left and he discovers his capacity for violence. After beating them up and taking one of them’s money, he buys a gun (for no particular reason) and drives cross country to stay with his bossy, not-terribly-sympathetic brother. Things don’t get much better, including his mental state, so what’s left for him to do? This is a fast-moving, crisply-written novella and the most-compulsively-readable work I’ve seen from Piccirilli. He’s a master craftsman, but sometimes lets the literary merits of his prose drown his story (his A Choir Of Ill Children is extremely highly regarded but I’m 0 for 2 at reading it so far... but will still probably give it another try one of these days because I know I'm missing something), but this one’s clear and compelling, without sacrificing the literary qualities. The ending is a bit frustrating but also logical in a way I can’t explain without spoilers. The novella’s a pretty big downer, emotion-wise, but it’s something anyone who loves good writing will want to check out. It’s not really a horror story, but since the protagonist is someone most of us could potentially become, given the circumstances, it provides dark truths that are scarier than murder and monsters.

Tom has a website you should check out, and a Twitter feed that's good to follow.

The Name of the Game Is Death - Dan J. Marlowe (Black Lizard, 1993, originally 1962)
One of the most ruthless, badassed, hardboiled novels ever written. A borderline-psycho called Roy Martin (among other names) pulls off a bank robbery with his partner, Bunny. Roy catches a bullet in the arm from a cop, who catches some more-lethally-placed ones from Roy. He and Bunny split up while Roy recovers, planning to divide the money later, but Roy starts getting mail that lets him know someone’s probably killed Bunny. Flashback-like stories from Roy’s earlier years explain how he got to be such a hardass and also illustrate just how far Roy will go if you do harm to anyone he likes. So Roy -- after some violent encounters along the way -- makes it to the area of Florida where Bunny was last heard from and starts working to find out what happened to him, and where the bank loot is. If he finds out it’s going to mean heavy misery coming down on everyone involved. It’s an amazing job of creating an anti-hero -- Roy is kind of like Richard Stark’s Parker but even more cold-blooded and misanthropic, made human almost entirely by his love of animals. Marlowe’s writing is powerful and gets a lot done with just a few blunt words (“He’d live. He wouldn’t enjoy it.”) and Roy rams right through situations that would make even Mike Hammer flinch. Marlow later carried this character through a series where he became a spy of sorts (“Drake, The Man With Nobody’s Face”) but he must have watered those down a lot because, as Roy, this is a guy who doesn’t have many bounds when it comes to depravity; if crossed, he’ll shoot cops, beat and rape women, leave people to horrible deaths in swamps, maim, cripple, kill, you name it. And he’s not exactly mentally-balanced, either, as his relationships with women he does like can bear witness. Very tight, hardcore crime novel that really should still be in print; somebody, get on that.

Do not judge this book by its cover!

Sand’s Game - Ennis Willie (Ramble House,2010 - material originally published around 1965)
Man, do I hope Ramble House will release more of Willie’s work, because this guy may be the best-kept secret ever in hardboiled crime fiction. Originally published as cheap “smut” novels (although the sexual activity is negligible and decidedly non-graphic), this collection is composed of two short novels (“Death In A Dead Place” and “Too Late To Pray”) and three short stories (“Con’s Wife,” “Flesh House,” “The Ugly Redhead”), plus several essays on Willie from experts in the genre. Sand is a prototype later copied in the Butcher series of action novels by Stuart Jason -- a hardboiled tough guy who used to be a mobster but quit when he got disgusted with what they were doing. Of course, the mob doesn’t allow anyone to just quit, so hit-men are always after Sand, which just ups the violence quotient from whatever other vengeance-quest he’s undertaking. These were inspired by Mickey Spillane’s work, and I love Spillane, he’s one of my writer gods, but I’ve got to say that Willie outdoes him when it comes to hard-boiled toughness. In “Death In A Dead Place” an already-wounded Sand takes on a terror cell planning to unleash a deadly plague. “Flesh House” sees him avenging the death of a murdered madam, and “The Ugly Redhead” is another revenge-hit, as is “Too Late To Pray.” Great lines fill every page, some so badass that you just have to laugh at how cool they are, even though this is by no means parody of any sort. It’s really genius writing, and makes you wonder what other ancient small-press things may be out there awaiting rediscovery. This book’s going to get re-read a lot, so even though it costs more, you’re going to want it in paper, not in an e-book version that you’ll probably no longer be able to access in five to ten years. Worth every extra dime, trust me, you'll thank me later.

And if you want you can follow me on Twitter, where I mostly babble insane, vulgar nonsense that has nothing to do with any of this, but should delight you if you like silly stuff about poop, random violence, and pinatas. (I do believe I have more jokes involving pinatas than anyone on Twitter, which proves the theory that nobody really likes jokes about pinatas).


Second drafts are overrated

These look pretty sloppy to me, but I'm postin' 'em anyway. Sometimes raw is good. I'm not sure now's one of those times, but, given the subject matter of some of the films, I think raw's appropriate. Before we go to that, though, I've gotta share a couple YouTube links to some vids I found featuring Lemmy from Motorhead.

This one is pretty amazing. Lemmy plays Ann Landers and answers letters written in by people with problems. Some of it is hilarious ("A couple of months ago I lost my virginity. That was bloody careless!") but when Lemmy reads a letter from a raped-and-pregnant-and-desperate 15-year-old girl he gets pretty serious and sincere. It's strangely... touching, especially coming from a guy with Lemmy's image.

And this one is from a pissed-off Lemmy. Some asshole in a crowd threw a couple of coins taped around a razor blade at him and slashed his hand open, and it got infected and he almost lost it, so he has a message for all future crowds. Again, it's unusual to see Lemmy being serious and even stern, but, ya can hardly blame him.

Anyway, I found 'em intriguing. Hope you did. And now, here we go...

Burning Dead, The (C, 2004) Likeable shot-on-video amateur horror flick about a guy (who looks a lot like a blonder Jim VanBeeber) who's been traumatized by the fire that burned most of his neighborhood. He has returned to visit his cousin (who still lives there) as part of his therapy to deal with the nightmares and hallucinations (burned-up zombies coming after him) that plague him. He meets old friends (including an ex-girlfriend who's got an accent as slow and Southern as muscadine jelly) and has little episodes where he goes nuts (such as when he almost brains his cousin's toddler son with a hammer -- they're mad at first, but then insist he stay!). His cousins also start seeing the zombies, and he remembers that the fire started because of his involvement with some Satanic figure, who apparently won't leave him alone unless he kills the Southern girl. The story gets pretty corny and the special effects are variable, but it keeps your attention pretty easily, and the cast is likeable. Their acting talent isn't so hot, but they're game, and they don't seem to be dirtbags the way a lot of these no-budget filmmakers come across. The ending is about as laughably hokey as it gets, but the movie's got a way of getting you to cut it some slack. Filmed in Tennessee, I think.

Doomsday Machine (C, 1976) aka Armageddon 1975, Doomsday, Doomsday Plus 7, Escape From Planet Earth. Another of those sci-fi movies from the late 60's (when this was filmed) set in one or two rooms (supposed to be the interior of a spaceship) with lots of colored lighting. When China develops a doomsday device, an American Venus probe becomes a sort of Noah's Ark, with the male and female astronauts on board supposed to breed and rebuild the human race. Even in a crew of seven humans there's still strife, though, and one couple get lots to decompression when a hatch opens (the scene of the people flailing around on wires with blood coming from their eyes is absolutely hilarious to me for some reason), and there are also some mechanical problems to contend with. The destruction of earth appears to be accomplished by shining a red flashlight on a ball of tinfoil, and there's stock footage of tidal waves and spaceships. There's a typical scolding for mankind and a warning to change our ways. Incredibly cheap and static, but kinda likeable if you can stay awake.

Whole movie online.

I Hate You (C, 2004) Norman is a middle-aged stand-up comic who's obsessed with being remembered forever. Since his material (mostly about killing and death) is mediocre, he decides his best chance for fame is by being a serial killer, like his idol, Jack the Ripper. So, he goes around murdering whoever's handy... but his career as a killer is nearly as frustrating as his comedy career, because he can't seem to get much press. Norman's act gets so hostile and misanthropic that his club fires him, so he loses focus, but keeps killing people. Norman's material isn't particularly funny but it is intelligent and has some legitimate points. Other comedians are shown between the killings, and they're not bad, either. The killings aren't terribly graphic or realistic, and this isn't much as a horror movie, but as an experimental, artsy-on-the-cheap-side indie film, it's surprisingly good. The acting is pretty great, too. Runs about an hour.

Summer of the Massacre (C, 2004) Apparently making really stupid and derivative horror movies with your home video camera isn't a strictly American pastime. That's somehow reassuring. This desperate-to-remind-you-of-Texas Chainsaw homemade slasher fest appears to be British, and deals with a van full of college kids who travel out into the boonies. They start running out of gas and find a babbling lunatic at an abandoned gas station (judging from the graffiti the Brits hated Bush even more than we did). They get away from him but run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, where (after an eternity of indecipherable heavily-accented talking) a clumsy maniac in a leather mask and a tie, named Hammer Head, stalks them all with a hammer. He binds one dead guy to a tree with Saran Wrap for some reason (to keep him fresh, I guess?) Then he nails a girl's hand to another tree, but she gets loose. That doesn't really matter, though, since she runs so slowly he can catch her while carrying the corpse of her friend. He ties her up in an abandoned farmhouse, then goes after the others. It's amazing he can catch anybody, because he's always stumbling, falling down, forgetting to hit anybody, and getting beaten up. He's the Wile E. Coyote of masked maniacs. And he yells wordless noises constantly, and at one point gets stabbed in the eye with a corn cob! The whole second half of this consists of constant chase scenes, and there's a room full of dismembered limbs, but really, you're not going to miss much if you watch this one on fast-forward scan. And you're not going to miss a whole lot more if you skip it completely. Strangely for a film from England, the opening credit text is so borderline-illiterate it looks like the product of an English-as-a-second-language class.

Behind-the-scenes footage

Teacher, The (C, 1974) aka The Seductress. A cute high school teacher (Angel Tompkins) is being stalked by a creepy disturbed Vietnam veteran named Ralph (played by Anthony James, the world's most sinister actor), but she's got the hots for one of her students, named Sean (Jay North). He's the timid type, though, and would rather fool around with his van. Ralph is also after Sean, because Sean witnessed an accident in which Ralph killed his own brother, Sean's best friend. Tompkins seduces Sean and takes him out on her boat, which sends crazy Ralph to put on a snorkel and wet suit to spy on them. They go out to dinner and there's Ralph again in his big ol' yellow shirt. You know this can't be heading anyplace good. This is pretty tame for an exploitation film, with only a little nudity and some very discrete sex, but it does give Anthony James a great opportunity to do his creepy sleazeball thing. His character's so spooky he drives a hearse and keeps all his stuff in a coffin! The annoying "Teacher theme" can be heard far too often on the soundtrack.