You Dirty Rat! An Interview with Editor, Author, Musician, and Artist Ira Rat

by Ben Arzate

Ira Rat is a fellow Iowan and a jack-of-all-trades in the arts. Here, I pick his brain to see what he’s all about. A quick disclaimer: I had a story published in his zine Fucked Up Stories to Tell in the Daytime and I’m very grateful he featured it.

Ben Arzate: Let’s just jump right into it. Can you give us a brief introduction? Who is Ira Rat?

Ira Rat: That’s the question I ask myself everyday. Without getting too existential or pretentious about it, I’m just a person who makes things. I get ideas and then I have to figure out what the best way of getting it out is. Over the course of all that, I make music, design, and write. I also like getting things out there for other people so I’ve run the record label Drug Arts and just started the press Filthy Loot.

Ben: Filthy Loot just put out its first zine, Fucked Up Stories to Tell in the Daytime. Obviously a riff on Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. What was your inspiration to create it? Is this the first zine you’ve created or curated?

Ira: Making little publications is something I’ve done going all the way back to high school. I was making chapbooks and zines for the poetry and music writing that my friends and myself were constantly churning out. Really the three things that got me thinking I should make this was sitting at work binge listening to Bizzong, then appearing in Ben Fitt’s The Rock n’ Roll Horror Zine with one of my stories, and finally finding a few copies of Freak Tension that I bought from Emma Johnson years ago in the bottom of a box of books. There is no real eureka about the idea, basically the name popped into my head and it was a “duh, of course I’m going to do this” moment.


Ben: You also just put out a limited edition chapbook called Learned Animals. Can you tell us a little about that?

Ira: That’s a chapbook of one of my stories, it’s kind of a stand alone idea that was a tribute an odd fever-dream tribute to Shirley Jackson. After working with a few people editing it, I just didn’t feel like submitting it anywhere — so I just made a cover and printed up some copies.

Ben: You’re also currently taking submissions for another zine called No. What is the concept behind that one?

Ira: No. is pretty nebulous, the original idea was for it to be something that Lazy Fascist would have put out, because I don’t really see many presses covering that literary bizarro area. Though, I’ve learned from years of trying to force expectations that nothing is set in stone until it’s done, so it’s still open to interpretation from the people who submit. Fucked Up Stories… definitely was one of those projects that the submissions ended up defining what it ended up being. So I’m trying to learn not to push my own agenda on these zines and just let them be what gels together.

Ben: You also do music. What kind of music do you make? How long have you been doing that?

Ira: I’ve been making music since about 2000. Though much of the early stuff is mercifully lost. The music that I’ve made for the past few years is mostly focused on experimental, inspired by musicians like Brian Eno and Throbbing Gristle who really push the idea of actually learning your instrument can be detrimental to creativity. Everything that I make other than design has an element of purposeful naivete, because when I start taking things too seriously it gets boring. Though with my writing, I hire editors to make it sound like I know the proper way to use a semicolon.

Ben: Ha! I know how that feels. You design as well. Do you do all your own art? What do you enjoy most, writing, making music, or making visual art?

Ira: What I do is closer to collage than to illustration, but I do illustration here and there as well. Like the cover to Fucked Up Stories… is based off of a stock image I bought from a website years ago that I always liked. I then illustrated it to look like something that would have been on the cover of a Scary Stories book. I went to art school, so I come from the idea that everything is appropriation, but the idea is to pull enough randomness in there that it’s not just regurgitating the same things over and over. Or you know, blatantly stealing something and claiming it as your own — though some artists have done that and done really well. I weirdly compartmentalize and so I don’t have a preference what medium I’m doing. Like my short stories come from a place of my interest in odd conspiracy theories and other things that if I were to explore in other formats it might be considered taboo for someone like me to be exploring.

Ben: What are some your biggest inspirations in the different fields of art that you’re involved with?

Ira: Oh god. Francis Bacon, Kurt Vonnegut, Throbbing Gristle, Stephen King, Daniel Clowes, William Burroughs, Tomato Design, DEVO, Harmony Korine, Charles Bukowski, Jay Reatard, Angus Oblong, David Lynch, Marcel Duchamp, Neil Gaiman, Chip Kidd, Clive Barker, Sam Pink, Andy Warhol, Crispin Glover, Cindy Sherman, Aaron Draplin, Hannah Höch… I’m sure I’m missing some big ones in there. The first album I ever owned was a dubbed copy of The White Album when I was 6, so I’m sure that’s where my eclecticism comes from. I spent days in a creative process class just making lists of things that interest me and people who influence me so that’s far from comprehensive.

Ben: Besides the No zine, what are some other projects that you’re currently working on?

Ira: I’m also working on a zine called Drag Drugs Death that will be a weird fiction tribute to Warhol and The Factory, Fucked Up Stories #2, and I’m at the early stages of trying to figure out a good name for a splatterpunk zine. I’m always working on other stuff, like “Spektorvisions” by my band Neon Lushell is turning into our version of Guns N’ Roses’s Chinese Democracy. I’ve been telling people it’s going to come out “any time now” for 5 years.

Ben: What are your goals with Filthy Loot? Do you want to keep it a zine and chapbook press, or are you interested in putting out full length books at some point?

Ira: I’m seeing where things take me. Right now I’m doing zines and chapbooks because I can do them myself and not have to tie up a lot of money in one project. Though I’m not against anything.

Ben: Zines seem to be making a bit of a comeback recently. What do you think is the appeal of zines over, say, publishing online or with an ebook?

Ira: Zines have always been bubbling under the surface. One of the things I guess would be an appeal is that you can sit there at a copy shop and make a few copies and not have to get too invested in making 1k perfect bound books. Personally I’ve always just like cool little objects that even if they sit on a shelf or in a box that you can take it out later and appreciate. That’s one of the reasons why I put a few different bobbles in with the zine to just put cool things out into the world. The problem with digital publishing is that I literally have 100 books in my Kindle that I got for free or next to nothing, but I’m going to grab a book because there’s a physical presence there to remind you to read it. I know the argument that you’re killing trees, etc. but the world as it is we need less screen time. Or at least I do.

Ben: Last question, why did you choose Ira Rat as your pen name? Or is that your real name and I’m a fucking idiot?

Ira: To confirm the person who harassed me online a couple weeks ago. It’s because I used to snitch on the Irish Republican Army. There was thought behind the name, but more interesting than that is that I recently discovered that “irarat” in Latin is a congregation of “I become angry, I fly off into a rage” which is a good enough reason as any to keep using it.

Ben: Where can our readers find your angry, snitching ass online?

Ira: and

Ben: Thanks so much for the interview!

Ira: No, thank you. And thanks for the support and being in the zine and what not.

Adventures in Modern Recording by the Buggles: An Underrated Gem

by Ben Arzate

The Buggles are the quintessential “one hit wonder” band, to the point that they’re less recognized by their name and more by “the guys that did ‘Video Killed the Radio Star.’” Their biggest claim to fame is that their music video was the first one to air on MTV.

However, they couldn’t parlay this into further success for the other singles from their debut album, The Age of Plastic, despite being a masterpiece work of new wave. The likely reason for this is that the album occupied an odd middle ground. It was too weird for mainstream success but not weird enough to gain a cult following like their contemporaries, Devo.

Further contributing to their lack of success, not long after their first album the two members, singer Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes, took a break from recording their second album to join the progressive rock band Yes.

Both were long time fans of the band, but it was a strange transition. Fans of Yes thought so, too. The reception was very mixed to the point that Yes broke up after the album Drama and the subsequent tour with Horn and Downes.

Further difficulties for the second Buggles album arose when Downes left before recording began to form the band Asia, though he still did some work on the album. Because of this, Adventures in Modern Recording is closer to a Trevor Horn solo album than a proper Buggles record. Despite all of this, it remains an album excellent enough that it’s a crime that it’s been so forgotten.

As the title suggests, the first album The Age of Plastic had a loose concept about the anxieties of modern life and technology. Adventures in Modern Recording focuses on experimenting with then-new recording techniques and technologies, and includes pastiches of older genres with these recent technologies. While most of the tracks sound solidly 80’s, the top notch songwriting keeps them from sounding dated or like producer noodling.

The album opens with the title track. The lyrics are a satire of the music industry and the increasing image-centric direction it was heading. “So carefully directed / For modern mass appeal / Look just like a poster / Got yourself a deal.” It sounds like a pastiche of a teen idol song filtered through thick layers of new wave production and sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Beatnik” is another pastiche with humorous lyrics, sounding like a synthed-up rockabilly song and telling the story of a trendy wannabe rebel. “A shark tooth fin and a Chevrolet / A wild boy takes it all the way / No more charlie it’s my throat / Send the bell-boy for my coat.” This was the last single from the album and from the band itself, giving us lines like “All will be revealed before the next move” and “No more espresso” meanings that Horn likely didn’t originally intend.

Vermillion Sands” is a slower track with surreal lyrics like “My heart is an alligator / Better watch your step / This heat is an incubator / Make a diamond sweat – want to bet.” The title and chorus are a reference to the JG Ballard book by the same name, Vermillion Sands being a fictional resort.

Ballard was an inspiration for several Buggles song, including “Video Killed the Radio Star,” but this song is the most direct reference to his work. The track digresses into synthesized jazz sounds, helping to invoke the feelings of a futuristic luxury resort. I wouldn’t be surprised if several vaporwave artists have plundered this song.

I Am a Camera” was the first single off the song, and it’s easy to see why. It’s the best song on the album and one of my favorites of all time. It’s a simple love song that was originally recorded as a Yes track under the title “Into the Lens.”

While the Yes track was ten minutes long with several digressions and solos, typical of progressive rock, “I Am a Camera” is much tighter at only about five minutes on the album and the music fits the lyrics better.

Downes played keyboards here and the production by Horn is beautiful. While it’s easy to see why it failed to become a hit, it doesn’t really have any hooks, I believe it’s the best song The Buggles released.

On TV” is like a leftover song from Living in the Plastic Age, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s a catchy song mocking TV culture. It’s composed to sound like a commercial jingle with simple lines like “Ecstasy for you and me / Here at home on your TV.” It’s a fun song, though probably the least creative production wise, even if that was obviously intentional.

Inner City” is the second-best song on the album. It’s a song about middle-class angst, going to work to chase a fortune that will likely never come. “But tear the fabric off your nest / You’ll find the eggs have gone / And no one mentions / How you run.” I’m surprised this one wasn’t issued as a single as it probably has some of the best hooks on the album.

Lenny” is an upbeat synth pop song which seems to be about Galileo. “When you say that the sun does not move / Did it show you the answer.” Strangely, this was probably the most successful song on the album, becoming a top ten hit in the Netherlands. It’s a very catchy piece of nerd pop.

Rainbow Warrior” is where Horn’s influence from Yes really shows. It’s a progressive rock song with mystical lyrics. “Son of logic / Boy born of light / Is the picture drawn/ Is the harvest one.” It’s a fantastic way to wrap up the album, minus a short reprise of “Adventures in Modern Recording.”

With the commercial failure of the album and Downes leaving the band, it’s no wonder that Horn decided to end the Buggles project to focus on doing production work. It’s also no wonder why he was so successful at it. Adventures in Modern Recording really shows Horn’s ability to write and produce in a wide variety of genres. The songs are excellently crafted, they’re fun and catchy even when the subject matter is esoteric, and the production sounds great even today.

As of writing this, the album is out of print and not available on streaming services, at least in the United States. It really is a shame that this is the case. Adventures in Modern Recording really is an underrated gem from a criminally underrated band.

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.

The Weirdest Flicks That Fell Through the Cracks

by Bob Freville

Here at the Motorist, our Films That Fell Through the Cracks column has covered a number of movies that might have become cult classics if they hadn’t vanished before they had a chance to penetrate the pop culture consciousness.

Those titles have included flicks about a killer in a bunny mask, a creepy farmer and homophobic preppie murderers, among others. All of these movies are peculiar in their own ways, but today I’d like to take a look at some of the strangest flicks to ever disappear faster than a fart in a cyclone.

The following are some of the weirdest and most wonderful anti-classics to ever come out of the mainstream machine. To see the big studio logos at the head of these movies leaves one completely astonished, not just at Hollywood’s involvement in their productions but at why such entities would even bother with things that were far too bizarre for them to be able to properly market.

To be clear, these are not the kinds of movies that loan themselves to multiplex movie posters. And, yet, here they are, sterling testaments to the gnarly reality that some films are too weird to live and too rare to be relegated to development Hell.

Read ’em and weep at the foregone conclusion that such pictures could never be made today.

A DIRTY SHAME (2004, Fine Line/New Line Cinema)

John Waters fans certainly wouldn’t find the plot of A Dirty Shame to be all that shocking. Given the so-called Pope of Trash’s track record for larger-than-life characters and overall bad taste, it was a no-brainer that this one would be perverse and absurd.

After all, nothing could really out-yuck Waters’ legendary singing sphincter scene from Pink Flamingos. But that doesn’t negate the fact that A Dirty Shame was released by New Line Cinema at a time when the distributor was in financial straits.

Why they would get behind a sex comedy that served as a vehicle for the mindbogglingly mismatched Tracy Ullman and Johnny Knoxville is anyone’s guess. It’s hard to imagine the same executives who signed off on the Lord of the Rings acquiring a picture about a housewife who becomes a sex maniac after suffering a concussion.

To make matters more bizarre, the film’s risque content, which includes a sequence in which Emmy award-winner Ullman inserts a bottle into her vagina during a game of hokey pokey, required so many cuts to allude an NC-17 rating that the studio agreed to release two versions on DVD—the Neuter (read: R rated) Version and the theatrical NC-17 cut, respectively.

Standout Sequence: The Pussy Cat Song scene.

FREAKED (1993, 20th Century Fox)

At the heart of Freaked is the nefarious mad scientist Elijah C. Skuggs and the group of strangers he’s turned into hideous mutant freaks. But the real monsters in this off-the-wall satire aren’t the sideshow freaks or their batshit creator but a corporate collective known as E.E.S. or…Everything Except Shoes.

The E.E.S. brass want to reinvent their image in the wake of news reports about their chemicals being dangerous to the environment, so they pay an obnoxious washed-up TV star named Ricky Coogan five million big ones to visit their factory HQ in Santa Flan (“Santa ‘Flan’? What kind of a shitty name for a country is that?” “It is named for the patron saint of creamy desserts.”).

If that sounds ludicrous you haven’t seen nothing yet; Freaked is chock-a-block with silly, strange and idiosyncratic sights and sounds, the likes of which include an unrecognizable Keanu Reeves as Ortiz the Dog Boy, an old Rotarian in Coke bottle glasses wandering around with an “I Like Ike” sign (for no apparent reason) and yes, a giant mutant shoe.

And how weird is this? Turns out the first draft of the script, then entitled Hideous Mutant Freekz and intended to be a hardcore horror movie, was originally developed by co-directors Alex Winter (Bill S. Preston, Esq of Bill & Ted fame) and Tom Stern (Winter’s Idiot Box collaborator) along with Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes.

At some point the rather straight-forward concept the three conceived of morphed into a B-movie inspired black comedy brimming with hideous celebrity cameos, outlandish sight gags and indelible lines like “To the right of the aircraft, you can see a great view of the Grand Canyon. And to the left you can see a panic-stricken little troll.”

Standout Sequence: Ricky Coogan (Winter) goes full beast mode, tearing a corporate executives head off as green toxic chemicals squirt from a pustule on his mutated forehead.

HUDSON HAWK (1991, TriStar Pictures)

In today’s post-9/11, post-Tarantino world, it would be easy to see a movie like this doing well, but when it was first dropped on an unsuspecting public back at the advent of the Nineties, no one knew what to make of it.

Equal parts live action Roadrunner cartoon and slapstick social justice warrior comedy, Hudson Hawk is like five different flicks all rolled into one. For Die Hard fans, Bruce Willis returned to the screen brimming with witty asides and action hero moves. Only there was something markedly different about Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins compared to Die Hard‘s John McClane.

Hudson Hawk isn’t a cop or a good guy, rather he’s a smooth-talking cat burglar with a yen for pork pie hats, black dusters, Bing Crosby and cappucino. In lesser hands, the character might have seemed a little fey, but this wasn’t the crinkly Mr. Potato Head Willis that we’ve grown accustomed to in the new millennium. This was old school Bruce, the man who could make mayhem funny and mocha lattes seem macho.

I’ve met lots of people familiar with the Bruce Willis body of work and only one of them—besides myself—counts this among his crowning achievements. At the time of its release, it flopped harder than a flounder in a drought. The convoluted plot, bugfuck humor and steampunk set pieces were decades before their time.

Add the hatchet-faced Sandra Bernhard and Withnail & I‘s Richard E. Grant as the serpentine villains at the dark heart of the flick and you’ve got a baffling witch’s brew on your hands. Of all the curious choices Willis has made over the years, whether we’re talking about his toupee-wearing turn in Breakfast of Champions or his affectatious performance as a drunken lech in Four Rooms, this one remains his absolute weirdest.

Standout Sequence: The ambulance scene.

I HEART HUCKABEES (2004, Fox Searchlight)

Technically this one didn’t fall through the cracks so much as paint itself into a corner of bemused notoriety. In the wake of Three Kings‘ massive critical and box office success, director David O. Russell could have made any kind of movie he wanted, likely at any budgetary level.

That he chose to make a mid-budget studio indie about existentialism and celebrity is almost as insanely admirable as it is laughably inane. The pic, which tells the story of an idealistic environmentalist (Jason Schwartzman) who hires “existential detectives” (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) to investigate corporate malfeasance, is a rather airy-fairy indictment of corporate America and the male ego.

This is fitting considering the mind from which it sprang. David O. Russell may be known for many things, debuting with an incest flick called Spanking the Monkey chief among them, but more than anything he’s known for his massive sense of self-importance.

Today audiences don’t remember the movie so much as they do the infamous behind-the-scenes YouTube clip of director Russell flipping out on set. In the footage, veteran comedic actress Tomlin inquires about her character’s motivation, explaining that she doesn’t understand the material. Russell responds by pitching a fit and calling the screen icon a cunt.

If the clip in question sounds cringe-worthy just wait until you check out this meandering 106 minute philosophical cluster fuck.

Standout Sequence: Mud fucking with Isabelle Hubbert’s nihilist siren.

SOUTHLAND TALES (2006, Samuel Goldwyn)


Far and away the strangest movie on this list, Richard Kelly’s follow-up to the sleeper smash Donnie Darko is a lot of things…for not a lot of people. Like many of the greatest examples of auteur filmmaking, Southland Tales is, first and foremost, a film for its director. To say that this sprawling genre-defying exercise in extremes is self-indulgent is like saying Idi Amin had a little bit of a temper.

From copulating cars and neo-Marxist nutjobs to levitating ice cream trucks and a baby messiah whose farts can make the world literally quake, Kelly’s sophomore effort is nothing if not weird.

How weird?

Consider this: The intricate plot, which largely takes place within a Tangent Universe, is based loosely on the Book of Revelation. Its characters quote liberally from the poems of T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost, and the passages of the New Testament.

Given how hesitant the studio system is to take risks on original material, it’s hard to believe that someone at Samuel Goldwyn was all in on distributing a movie featuring a baby savior who’s never had a bowel movement, a Republican leading man who injects himself in the neck with “Fluid Karma” and a porn star psychic who emerges as the prophet of the End Times.

Standout Sequence: Justin Timberlake’s Pilot Abilene, a facially-scarred war veteran and turret gunner, guzzling white trash beer from the can and lip-syncing to The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done” while blood pours from his chest and USO girls shake their legs atop skeet ball machines. Weird, weird, weird and wonderful.

5 Weird Books You’ve Gotta Read Before Your Brain Eats Itself

By Bob Freville

If you’re new to the Motorist then that title might well bug you the fuck out, but fear not! We can still save your brain before it melts into a gnarly flan and you begin speaking in tongues. That’s right, you don’t need to be some boring troglodyte with an empty head and hair on your palms anymore.

As I’ve said in the past, I am your minister, Reverend Bob, and I’ve got all the tools to open up your brain basket and air it out. So kneel before cod, open up those dick beaters of yours and prepare to receive the freakiest scriptures you’ve yet to discover.

Rampaging Fuckers of Everything on the Crazy Shitting Planet of the Vomit Atmosphere, Mykle Hansen (Eraserhead Press)

If I have one complaint about this marvelous tome it’s that the title could have been longer. But perhaps it is Hansen’s economy with words that makes this collection of novellas so rich and rewarding…or maybe it’s all the penis.

That’s right, ‘Rampaging Fuckers’ is filled to the brim with cock. And not just any cock but the “Monster Cocks” of its first novella, a story of penis enlargement gone awry that had me glued to the page like bukkake to a BBW’s eyelashes.

“Monster Cocks” is a stellar achievement in work place comedy that’s equal parts Cronenbergian body horror and Seth Rogen-style dick jokes. One could easily imagine this one being adapted for the screen by Brian Yuzna (Society) or Braindead-era Peter Jackson.

But before you write this one off as some sort of Sausage Party for sophomoric bibliophiles, beware that its denouement is anything but silly. In just 62 short pages, Hansen segues from phallic shenanigans into a dark realm of seminal transmogrification that you won’t be able to shake.

The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-geist, Michael O’Donoghue (Grove Press)

Michael O’Donoghue is my dad. Technically, we are not biologically related, for I did not germinate from his sperm…but if there is one man whose sense of humor and style I feel especially connected to it is Saturday Night Live’s own Mr. Mike.

His Least-Loved Bedtime Stories, which boasted aphorisms like “Love is a death camp in a costume,” captured my imagination as a child and stifled my ability to become a well-adjusted member of society. For this, I cannot praise him enough.

Before O’Donoghue smashed open the doors of the humor magazine National Lampoon and forced it to mainline heroin in its eyeball, O’Donoghue was honing his skills at Nazi jokes and filthy poetry in the pages of the prestigious Evergreen Review.

It was from a brief series of comic strips commissioned by Evergreen that Phoebe Zeit-geist was born. The decidedly un-P.C. world of the book explores the terrible fate that befalls a perpetually nude woman named Phoebe.

In each panel, Phoebe is subject to the perverted whims and vicious agendas of a wide cross-section of sadistic ex-S.S. officers, sex-crazed bull-dykes and foreboding Gypsies, all of whom wish to degrade and destroy her.

The central joke of the book is that Phoebe is always left in mortal danger at the end of each strip, only to skirt disaster so that she can survive long enough to withstand yet another onslaught of torture and turmoil. I won’t give away the book’s cruelly funny climax, but suffice it to say that Phoebe isn’t even safe in the arms of death.

“The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist” has long been out of print with new and/or collectible copies selling for as much as $400 on Amazon. However, if you shop around you should be able to find a hardcover for around $45. Time to sell that kidney you haven’t been using.

Rat Catching, Crispin Glover (Volcanic Eruptions)

We all knew that McFly was a weird cat; anyone who has seen David Lynch’s Wild at Heart is unlikely to forget the sequence in which he shovels cockroaches into his underwear and scampers around making sandwiches all night. And that’s to say nothing of his iconic turn as Rubin, the platform boot-wearing, cat worshiping king of the Echo People in Trent Harris’s cult classic Rubin & Ed.

Well, one year after he tried to hurl a projectile boot at David Letterman’s grill, Glover showed no signs of mellowing. In fact, he doubled down on that manic energy and self-produced this magnificent literary collage, a surrealist masterpiece of objet d’art created from the re-purposed pages of an 1896 textbook entitled Studies in the Art of Rat Catching.

A perennial collector’s item from the first day it was released by Glover’s own Volcanic Eruptions studio, “Rat Catching” goes for approximately $100 in mint condition. Luckily this one is still available at a somewhat reasonable price, lest it end up in the mulch pile. As Glover warns in his book, “The worms will get in.”

The Drive-In, Joe R. Lansdale (Crossroad Press)

Lansdale occupies a very odd place in the annals of speculative fiction. Unlike the Stephen Kings of genre fiction, whose works are largely of a piece with one another, Lansdale’s tales run the gamut from horror, satire, cartoon and fantasy to splatterpunk, memoir, western and essay.

“The Drive-In” is no exception, it is a singular work that is only identifiable as one of Lansdale’s works because of his inimitable voice. Like “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “The Night They Missed the Horror Show,” this fantastic novel smacks of Lansdale’s trademark worldview and dark wit.

The story of a group of teenagers who attend a late-night screening of Night of the Living Dead at the landmark Orbit, “The Drive-In” revolves around what happens when the audience is immersed in a magical movie experience that no one would wish on their worst enemy.

As the blackness claims them and the dangers ramp up, the reader watches in abject horror and morbid curiosity as the occupants of the drive-in submit to their primal instincts. As time goes on and the world on the screen crosses over into our own, a bizarre and awe-inspiring fate befalls our young pals. Anarchy, blood lust and concession stand madness are but three things they will have to contend with.

The book’s depiction of popcorn as both a reward and a punishment is just one of “The Drive-In”’s many sublime allegories for the tenuous fabric of civilized society in a consumerist age. This alone isn’t particularly weird, but when Lansdale’s proclivity for social commentary morphs together with his penchant for the outright deranged, it’s safe to say that the barf bags are free to come out.

A chunk-blowing good time, “The Drive-In” will whet your appetite for the splatterific fun ahead in the rest of Lansdale’s Drive-In Trilogy. Buy it as a stand-alone paperback or snatch up a copy of The Complete Drive-In today.

Snuff, Chuck Palahniuk (Anchor)

I’ve seen a lot of my fellow writers take a steaming dump on Palahniuk of late, but I’ve gotta say that for my money there are few other contemporary authors I can think of who do such a fine job of marrying a journalistic eye with a conversational ear.

As anyone who has seen him in interview can agree, Palahniuk listens. Possibly his most refined tool as a novelist is that he pays attention to the stories people have to tell him and promptly cannibalizes those experiences for the sake of crafting entertaining reads.

His talent for collecting bizarre real-life stories is rivaled only by his keen ability to thoroughly research even the most obscure of subjects. This disciplined process pays off in “Snuff” in much the same way it paid off in Fight Club and Rant before it.

On the surface, Snuff would seem like an excuse for the author to indulge his own perverse curiosity about Gonzo porn. After all, the book kicks off with a tour of the waiting area where a motley crew of men off the street are standing in line for their turn in a gangbang video to end all gangbang videos. One could easily picture Palahniuk getting his jollies just by hanging out in such a place and relishing in the stomach-churning details.

To be sure, the first few chapters are the most cringe-worthy and, yet, also the most gut-bustingly funny (you’ll never look at barbecue-flavored potato chips the same after this one). But what sets “Snuff” apart from other books about the adult entertainment industry is the lack of cynicism.

Palahniuk is never judgmental of his many narrators, nor does he paint them as particularly amoral people. On the contrary, there is a warm heart beating beneath the surface of this otherwise ribald story of revenge and rebirth.

If you dug the endlessly quotable dialogue from Fight Club, you’re gonna treasure this one for sure. With lines like, “It can only take a moment to waste the rest of your life” and “What do you do when your entire identity is destroyed in an instant? How do you cope when your whole life story turns out to be wrong?” this one aches to be added to the pop culture lexicon.

For those who have stayed away from Palahniuk because they feel his voice overwhelms each of his narratives, give Snuff a try as it just might shock the butt plug outta you. The multiple perspectives presented in each section make for a dizzying read that builds to a crescendo of tension as we near its warped conclusion.

When I say “warped,” take my word for it, Ace. This one’s the stickiest, ickiest and most unforgettable ending anyone could expect of a mass market literary paperback. Palahniuk cranks the weird up to 11 and then shovels on the goo like a make-up artist in a K hole.

If you want more weird and atrocious wonders, check out Ben Arzate’s The Unreprinted where he explores out-of-print oddities that beg for a resurrection. And remember to always drink your Kool-Aid because in cod we trust. Peace be with you.

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