The Unreprinted: Tricycle by Russell Rhodes

Today’s installment of Ben Arzate’s The Unreprinted comes from Silent Motorist staff writer Zakary McGaha who has found himself an out-of-print genre paperback whose book jacket deserves to be remembered if nothing else. In McGaha’s own words, “It may very well have my favorite 80s skeleton cover…although I think Wild Violets by Ruth Baker Field wins out.” Read on to find out just why some horror novels deserve to remain buried…

Look at that cover! How could anyone resist it? The winter-clothed skeleton boy riding toward you out of the darkness…it’s simply beautiful. If I would’ve been around in the 80s, I would’ve snagged this thing off the drugstore rack, ran home and devoured it in a night.

Well, maybe I wouldn’t have…the problems with this book start when you open it.

To sum it up succinctly, Tricycle suffers from an overall lack off self-awareness that borders on insanity. I found myself thinking, “Is it possible to be that fucking lame and not be depressed about it?”

All of the characters were preppy, overly-dramatic academics trapped in a plot that refused to go anywhere. Chiefly, Rhodes was going for more of a mystery/psych-thriller ordeal, but the whole thing felt sloppy and uninspired.

That’s not to say it was without its high points, but I felt like opportunities were missed. I like to think of those missed opportunities as being intentional in this way: So these readers want to read about a skeleton-boy riding around a prep school on a tricycle, bringing death and destruction with him wherever he goes, do they, thought Russell Rhodes. Ha! I’ll thwart them by making them listen to the headmaster talk about virtues and the main character lament about life in academia! With this plan I will dull the souls of my readers, harvest their minds, and rule the world!!!!

Most of the book felt this way, sadly. However, there were a few scenes that stood out, as well as a few subplots that kept things interesting.

One compelling aspect of the story dealt with the main character, Christopher. You see, Christopher was an Ivy League Master of English Lit…before he lost his eyesight in a tragic accident. I don’t know about you, but blindness is my greatest fear. I simply don’t know how anyone could go on without their eyesight.

Reading about Christopher dealing with this and even managing to teach English was pretty intriguing from a character study perspective. However, there were still a lot of missed opportunities with this.

For the most part, Christopher was entirely unsympathetic, he was a jerk to everyone who tried helping him, and most of the insight we got into him coping with blindness dealt with the material world. I mean, for someone whose life revolved around literature, it seemed as if he didn’t care that stinking, no-good audiobooks were where his future lied. He was more concerned with how other people perceived him.

I would say the most interesting part of the story dealt with Karen, the wife of the head of the English department and the mother of the maniacal, tricycle-riding boy from the cover who, sadly…wasn’t skeletal.

Karen grew up in Germany around the time of Nazism. Her brother was about as crazy as Hitler and may, or may not, have fathered Simon (the non-skeletal rugrat). Karen’s husband, of course, never caught on to that, but it was a constant source of mystery. It also provided 98% of the darkness one would expect going into Tricycle. Incest, rape, and abuse fueled the story’s darkness, for the most part.

In a pathetically pulled-off way, Tricycle was a slasher novel. You see, Karen was constantly cheating on her husband with underage schoolboys who reminded her of her fucked-in-the-head brother, and little Simon didn’t take too kindly to that. Things got even spicier when it was revealed that Christopher looked exactly like Karen’s brother.

I don’t want to spoil anything because, trust me, there are a lot of twists and turns in Tricycle’s plot. Were those twists and turns that surprising? Sort of. Were they handled well? Nope.

On any normal day, Tricycle would be a two-star book. Seeing as how this is a normal day, that’s exactly what I’m giving it. That being said, if today wasn’t normal, I would give Tricycle an extra half-star for one scene: blind ole Christopher is trapped in a room with a bunch of escaped, venomous snakes. This was, perhaps, the only cool scene in the book. Even the scene where the school is flooding and people are trying not to be washed away wasn’t cool.

This whole novel, aside from the cover and the snake scene, wasn’t cool.

2/5 stars.

Zakary McGaha is a writer living in Tennessee. His novella Locker Arms is out from Kensington Gore Publishing. Soothing the Savage Swamp Beast will be out soon from JournalStone.

Sorry ‘Bout That: Humor in the Throes of the Vietnam War

By The Reverend

When I was growing up Vietnam vets were still feeling the sting of the jungle. The government had fucked its bright-eyed boys by sending them out to die in the name of some faceless authority figure’s agenda.

To add insult to injury, they’d dumped foul chemicals on their own troops so that those who survived life in the shit came home to discover that public shunning was the least of their problems; they’d also have to cope with ashen skin, liver disorders and chloracne.

As a teenager, my mother would often joke that it was a minor miracle I didn’t come out with a conehead and webbed feet. My brothers and I would laugh, but it was a laugh with a definite edge to it. We knew Pops didn’t like to talk about ‘Nam nor did he ever volunteer any information about the rock hard lumps that would expand and contract on his calves, a deformity that could be traced back to Agent Orange.

One day when I was about 12-years old and at the peak of my morbid curiosity, I asked my father in a breathless whisper, “Did you ever shoot anybody?” His answer took the form of an affirmative grunt. He didn’t look at me or expound any further and I didn’t press the issue. It was obvious to me, even in adolescence, that war was something painful, awful and serious.

What I didn’t take into account was that veterans like my Pops didn’t like to talk about ‘Nam because they didn’t want to remember the bad stuff. As many people who have been through a traumatic experience can attest, it’s not always therapeutic to wallow in the grim details of that trauma. For some of us, it is far more cathartic to focus on the fun that was had in the margins of that misery.

This notion first occurred to me when I saw Stanley Kubrick’s landmark war comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The film was based on a very dramatic work of war-based literature (Red Alert by Peter George) and the adaptation was initially intended to be an epic drama that would be at least somewhat faithful to its source material.

However, as pre-production played out, Kubrick alighted on a simple fact which would change the narrative trajectory of the story and yield one of the finest Hollywood satires of all time. What Kubrick realized was just how absurd war really is. Lo, the manic dark humor of Kubrick’s cinematic send-up of nuclear holocaust was born.

The film resulted in Peter Sellers’ very best comedic characters, Group Captain Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove, respectively. While marveling at the risque allusions to Nazi salutes and pubic hair, I suddenly understood the value in making light of devastation.

Later in life, after my father had moved to the wilderness and retired from his job, I went through the large oak desk that he’d kept in his home office throughout my childhood. I remembered it as a bit of a command post for Pops, a place where he could go to fill out his daily invoices, balance his checkbook and relax with a good novel.

Above the desk was a large glass cabinet which housed a king’s ransom of mass market paperbacks, virtually all of them concerning different aspects of the military experience. Whether it was a guide to wartime aviation, a ground armament assembly manual or simply a cheap work of fiction about P.O.W.s, it was all neatly organized as if it were one historical library.

Obviously, the old man hadn’t forgotten about ‘Nam nor did it seem like he really wanted to. But on that night in his new Upstate cabin, as we emptied out the desk and prepared to weed out old or unwanted items, I came across an envelope full of photographs. They represented the only actual record of my father’s time in the service aside from his official government documentation and medals.

When my father saw me holding the photos, I thought he’d snatch them out of my hands and return them to the drawer. Instead, a smile cut across his face and his eyes brightened. Inside the envelope I didn’t find any pictures of mushroom clouds or mangled bodies. I didn’t find any grim keepsakes whatsoever.

Instead, the photos I leafed through were photos of young men in uniform goofing off. With warm beers in hand, these squinty-eyed baby soldiers, not one of them more than 19-years old, hammed it up for the camera, throwing one another in headlocks, pouring their drinks on each other’s heads and flexing like beach-bound fools for the ladies who might have been seeing these photos back home.

One picture in particular caught my eye—Pops as a scrawny 17-year old kid with a Beatles haircut…except it was hard to make out his black bob beneath the brassiere he was wearing on his head. In the next photo, the boys were Conga dancing and Pops was wearing the bra on his emaciated chest.

After looking at these pics, I was at a loss for words. Fortunately, my father seized the opportunity and quickly interjected, “You want something I bought when I was there?”

I nodded.

He reached into the cabinet that housed his personal historical library of Vietnam and fished out a small paperback book. The book was Sorry ‘Bout That.

The book’s by-line is credited to Ken Melvin, some sort of pseudonym that represents the several servicemen who collaborated on this collection of cartoons, limericks and other GI-related “diversions.”

As the introduction states, “This book is no War and Peace. You might call it a piece of war—its lighter side. It isn’t meant to motivate, to win minds, cause defections, or sell a way of life—but it does point to that part of the American way of life which enables us to search in the darkness and come up with the light that is laughter.”

Sorry ‘Bout That breezily explores the bars, boondocks, cyclo girls and “dinky dau” of ‘Nam in a bite sized spread of easily digestible and often gut-busting vignettes. The “Numbah ones” are lampooned just as brutally as “Cheap Charlie.”

In much the same way that ‘Dr. Strangelove’ was able to find a sharp gallows humor in nuclear holocaust, Sorry ‘Bout That finds levity in rations, jitters, landmines and lousy juke joint grifters. It’s a fun read for vets and civilians alike, one that reminds us that the funny bone is the hardest one to lose in battle and, indeed, the most important bone in the human body.

Included in the book is a one-act play about a lonely soldier’s encounter with a woman of the night, one whose message is evident straight away. As mascot Asia Bird puts it, “It’s not the Saigon Tea you have to worry about. It’s the Saigon Tease.”

My copy came with a 1000000 Hell Bank note in it because Pops was always the frugal type. That cyclo girl would have to fleece another john because daddy was heading home with something in his wallet.

Also included is the “Sorry ‘Bout That” board game which starts at Tan Sun Nhut Air Terminal and may end with a return to your country of origin…if you play your cards right. If not then the instructions are quite clear. You land on the last spot and it’s back to the terminal with you. Have two ba me mas and call me in the morning!

As for that unfortunate Agent Orange situation, “Sorry ’bout that.”

9 Crazy Board Games

by JL Mayne

I love board games. I spend more money on them than nearly anything else, buying a new one about every month or two. As of writing this, I haven’t gotten a new game in over a month and I’m pretty sure I’m going through withdrawals.

To help alleviate my pain, here is a list of some of the most bizarre board and card games I could find. I haven’t played all of them, and some are nearly impossible to get your hands on as they are out of print and/or old.

I’m really not sure what some of the creators were thinking…

Pimple Pete

To start off the list, let’s check out one of the most disgusting games I’ve come across. I saw this in my local Wal-Mart and was amazed that it was on the shelf.

In the game, kids are tasked with being wanna-be Dr. Pimple Poppers. They spin a dial, similar to twister, and extract a zit on the poor plastic man’s face. If they extraction goes awry, his nose explodes face juice (water) all over the kids and table.

Perfect. If… you know… you’re into that.

Smoker’s Wild

This game was made in 1978 in an attempt to get people to quit smoking, or avoid it altogether. In it, the players choose a profession which benefits from smoker’s ailments, like a mortician, and go through life (the board) gaining addiction to various brands of smokes and pawning their addictions off on others. The game ends after one or more people die. Like real life.

This game is bizarre enough that I’ve considered trying to find a copy just to have it in my own collection. And the guy on the front looks a bit like my dad did in his early life with his crazy hair, though, I don’t think he ever smoked that much. Good ol’ 80’s and their silly antics.

Kingdom Death: Monster

This is one of my favorite games. And is also one of the craziest things I’ve ever experienced.

In Kingdom Death, you are a survivor, lost in a nightmarish landscape filled with hideous monsters trying to eat your face. And, they usually do. Seriously, this game is brutal. It’s rules are tailored to kick you in the teeth time and time again and leave you begging for more.

Throughout the game, you and your fellow slaves (?) murderers (?) just messed up people, really, hunt monsters to gather everything from bones to lion testicles. All while trying to stay alive and come up with new ways to kill your friends and enemies.

You should play it. Maybe you’ll get to rip out an antelope’s 2nd heart like I did.


My buddy has this game and I haven’t had the chance to play it yet. I desperately want to. Who wouldn’t want to roleplay having consensual sex with a tentacle alien with one of your bros?

This is a cooperative game in which two players play cards in an attempt to have sexual relations with each other by getting good card combinations. In one of the game modes, you don’t get to say anything. Which makes sense considering the premise.

The game is supposed to be ridiculous and a lot of fun. I need to hit up my buddy and have some sexy tentacle action.

Burn in Hell

Ever dream of torturing the souls of the damned in your own private circle of hell? This game gives you a tiny taste of what it might be like. You trade and steal cards of various historical figures who have somehow found themselves in Tortureland.

This one sounds pretty fun. Maybe they have make-your-own cards so that I can put a few horrible people I’ve come across on them.

Endangered Orphans of Condyle Cove

If you’d rather torture parentless children than souls trapped in hell, then this is the game for you!

In Endangered Orphans, you choose a helpless orphan and roam Condyle Cove trying to not get eaten by the Boogey Man, while at the same time trying to get your friends eaten. Because it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and better them than you. The poor bastards.

The artwork is cute and disturbing, including the bones of past orphans floating in lakes and cats on lamp posts. Recommended for anyone who hates children.

Cards Against Humanity


Maybe the most popular game on the list, this game and I have a love-hate relationship which probably stemmed from playing it for 4 hours with my mom and dad. An awesome and horrible experience. Awesome that we were having a good time playing, and horrible that my mother saw that side of her adult son. She probably hasn’t looked at me the same since.

It’s a fun game, played out by simply picking a card, reading it, and then having everyone else pick a card that makes the most sense or is the funniest. I’ve learned a lot about sexual terms and horrible people from this game. There are also tons of expansions if you get burned out of the vanilla experience…  though, vanilla is far from what this game is.


Gother Than Thou

I’m kind of confused by this one. I really don’t get it. Of all the themes you could choose? I have nothing against goths, or any other lifestyle choices. You do you and all that. After all, that’s what the Motorist is about. The weird and bizarre. Challenging the normal and to hell with what others think! Long live the weird!

But, really… it’s made by either a hardcore goth or someone who was trying to make fun of them. I want to play it if only to see how goth I really am. You gain goth points and try to sabotage your goth buddies from being as goth… doesn’t really make sense.



The name of the game is to last the longest. Something many of us are unfamiliar with.


In this sex-filled game, you play out wild orgies with a few of your friends using (I assume) cards. You’re attempting to keep you and your partner going the longest.

We could all learn a little from this game.

There you have it, 9 bizarre games for you to seek out and enjoy with a few odd and/or sexy friends. Maybe you could try mixing up your night by killing some monsters before having a wild orgy, or by acting them out at the same time. Whatever you’re into.

Books That Will Open Your Brain Basket, Part II

By Reverend Bob

Turn back.

Now move forward.

Step into a realm of cosmic slack and arcane power where politicians light each other on fire and zealots buy their own damnation at discount prices. It’s a place where you can reclaim your lost Yeti powers and vanquish the mongrels of reasoning to the abyss of cerebral pandemonium.

Join us as we venture down the Day-Glo hallway of the forgotten verbal ministry, a landscape of remote possibilities and foreboding revelations. In these volumes you will find lasting proof of what those who know don’t say and those who say don’t know.

Belly flop into the fun with us, my brethren. You’ll be happy you did and your brain’s reward system will give you a sloppy French kiss.


Who is worthy to open The Book, and to break the seals thereof?

That is the question, iddn’t it?

From one Bob to another Bob, I ask you this: Don’t you want to go beyond science, reason and orgasm, Bob? Admit it, Bobby. You know you want to!

In these hallowed pages, you will find everything you need know about humanity from the cheap initiation of the cheap initiation overmen to the best kept secrets of patriopsychotic anarchomaterialism. By the time you’ve read it cover to cover, you will be able to blow missiles out of the sky with your brain waves and satisfy the urges of the infrared woman.

The reason to buy into the Church of the Sub-Genius is quite clear—It puts more “BULL” in your BULLDADA, Bubba!

H.L. MENCKEN’S SMART SET CRITICISM (Edited by William H. Nolte, Cornell University Press)

The ideal brain enema after your induction into the Church of the Sub-Genius, H.L. Mencken’s compendium of criticism, barbs and horselaughs is a hellacious ride down the River Styx of sinfully sophisticated wit.

Mencken is remembered as a humorist, but he is also one of our finest moralists, a man who rejected pat assumptions, superstition and irrationalism of every foul stripe. Mencken was more than a critic, he was a guidepost to a future that was to be utterly free from the offal of wasted and myopic minds.

Valuing knowledge and scientific evidence over the cheap hucksterism of the times, he believed that man should not put stock in kneejerk reactions or simple dilletantes. Today his sharp asides can be taken en masse as a sort of blueprint for the satire that would come to define modernity.

Never one to suffer snake oil salesman or witch hunts, Mencken’s writing can be summed up by this passage from The Way to Happiness, his review of Thomas Dixon’s “Comrades”:

The first chapters of this intolerably amateurish and stupid quasi-novel well-nigh staggered me, and it was only by tremendous effort that I got through them all. After that, I must confess, the task became less onerous, and toward the end the very badness of the book began to exercise a nefarious fascination. I was exploring new worlds of banality, of vapidity, of melodrama, of tortured wit. I felt the thrill of the astronomer with his eye glued upon some new and inconceivable star—of the pathologist face to face with some novel and horrible coccus. So I now look back upon my two hours with Comrades, not with a shudder, but with a glow. It will lie embalmed in my memory as a composition unearthly and unique—as a novel without a single redeeming merit. It shows every weakness, fault, misdemeanor known to prose fiction, from incredible characterization to careless proofreading, and from preposterous dialogue to trashy illustrations.

No, I am not going to tell you the plot. Buy the book and read it yourself. The way to happiness lies through suffering.

CANDIDE, VOLTAIRE (Signet Classics)

I’m not gonna tell you all about Voltaire or his magnum opus because that’s why “BOB” invented the internet. I will tell you that the Signet collection of Voltaire’s work is one that you can’t afford to skip. In increasingly senseless times when fake news and derision drive our everyday lives, it’s important to remember the subtle teachings of Voltaire and his rejection of rationalization in favor of action.

In Candide, we are graced with a witty voice far removed from the dick and fart jokes that have replaced smart humor in contemporary society. This is a piece of precision prose tailored by a master craftsman who informs us that we should be tending our “gardens” rather than indulging blind optimism.

THE BOOK OF BIZARRE TRUTHS (Publications International, Ltd.)

Reality is stranger than fiction. That’s a cliché for a reason, Bob. This mammoth book compiles all of the weirdness one could hope to learn about in one handsome leather bound volume that could easily be used to crack open your neighbor’s skull for the purposes of studying his brain.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A Polish mummy kills ten researchers when they expose his wood.

No? Well, you’ll hear all about it in this massive volume along with everything you never knew you needed to know about maggot therapy, Poop-Freeze, weed farmers, weevils, tickling and solar egg frying, to name just a few.


If Poop-Freeze seemed like the strangest thing you’d ever read about in a mass market book then you obviously didn’t know that our second U.S. president was a cerebral assassin. Chances are, if you didn’t know that then you probably weren’t aware of John F. Kennedy’s motto, “Expect death around every turn.” Kind of ironic, isn’t it? I mean, he must have really had something on his mind during that Motorcade.


If you think American presidents are just a bunch of stuffed shirts, you don’t know Jack, Bob. Author O’Brien delivers all the dirt on how the leaders of the Free World opened can after can of whoop ass.

From Thomas Jefferson’s six disparate devices of destruction to Harry S. Truman’s remarkable skill with cuss words and nose punchings, How to Fight Presidents illustrates the full might of the men of the Oval.

Keep your Andalusian eyes peeled for more brain nuggets as something weird this way comes.

Like and share this post or we will release the whirligigs and the whistle pigs.

Kindle Crack: Ebook Sales from Niel Gaiman, Clive Barker, Stanislaw Lem, and More

Svevo’s Zeno’s Conscience was fiercely advocated by James Joyce in its time, and you can sort of see why. Although it’s not a modernist hypertext like Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake, it clearly habits the weird, transitory milieu of the early turn of the century. It’s one of the better “life-as-a-ridiculous-man” narratives (see Sartre’s Nausea), and it’s more than worth the next-to-nothing price tag.

So. Niel Gaiman writes a book about Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you’re a fan of either of these writers, you can’t really go wrong here. While I’m not a Hitchhiker nut myself, I’m eyeballing this one a bit; it promises to be quite an experience. WARNING: this sale probably won’t last long.

Stanislaw Lem, known primarily for the novel Solaris, is a seriously underrated figure in the sci-fi and speculative fiction communities. This guy is brilliant, and I have no doubt this collection of short stories is no exception. Everything I’ve read by him is excellent, and I’m definitely adding this to 2019’s TBR pile.

If short stories aren’t your jam, here’s a novel by Lem for less than the price of a cheap hamburger. I haven’t read it myself, but see the above entry for my unhesitant advocacy of Lem.

God, this one’s so damned good. If you’re a fan of Clive Barker, then you probably know about this. Weaveworld is a sprawling, beautiful novel by the creator of Hellraiser. Of everything I’ve read by Barker, this has to be my favorite so far. Get this dark fantasy masterpiece now while it’s going for less than five bucks.

This is a really good translation of the Inferno, one of literature’s weirdest creations in history. I’d go as far as to claim that even thoroughly contemporary novel consumers would find much to enjoy in Dante’s descent into hell, given they approach this timeless classic with something of an open mind. If you’ve never tried Inferno, this is a great edition to begin with.

McCammon, McCammon, McCammon. People seem to love him or hate him. I haven’t formulated an opinion either way (I’ll have to read Swan Song first), but he’s undoubtedly one of the kings of the ebook sales. With enough patience, you can pick up nearly his entire oeuvre at a steal. Start here, if you’re interested.

This is an excellent work by Fracassi. I generally snag everything he drops, and this is probably one of my favorites. Shiloh has attracted a lot of attention since its 2018 release. If you haven’t already, grab this now to see what the noise is all about. I’m sure you’ll walk away understanding. Also, while you’re here, check out last year’s interview with the author himself.