A Cronenberg museum? Yes, please.

David Cronenberg is the kind of sick fuck I can really appreciate.  From his beginnings with Scanners, his beautiful adaptation of JG Ballard’s Crash, and even his adaptation of Naked Lunch (which I loved, but it seems everyone else hated), Cronenberg has put out some twisted stuff over the years.

The Toronto International Film Festival had an awesome exhibition, a retrospective of Cronenberg’s career.  It included four floors of props and displays from all of his movies, an incredible treasure trove of sick shit.  Here’s a good writeup on it:

Greetings From Interzone | Badass Digest.

The exhibit has unfortunately ended, but TIFF still has a virtual exhibition you will definitely want to check out.

Via jwz

New Book of Vonnegut Doodles

Book CoverThere’s a new book coming out that features Kurt Vonnegut’s strange little drawings and doodles, something we saw a little of in Breakfast of Champions,  but which also flourished in a second career of his, when he created artwork that was eventually exhibited in one-man shows in New York.

The new book is published by his daughter Nanette, also an accomplished artist.  Check out this slide show from the book over at The New Yorker:

Slide Show: Kurt Vonnegut’s Whimsical Drawings : The New Yorker.

Also, you can preorder the book over at Amazon – it comes out on 5/13.

Planted In Potting Mix by Iron Chef Gein

The last time I saw Mickey Rooney his skin was the color of water-logged duct tape and he was disgorging huge clumps of blood-flecked dirt. We were waiting for an ambulance to arrive at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Museum in downtown Marysville, Ohio, which had hosted this insane Organic Choice Potting Mix eating competition between Mick and Adam Richman. “That has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” Rooney muttered as the EMTs strapped him to a gurney and called ahead to Union County Memorial Hospital. “No, dude,” I replied. “The stupidest thing you did was getting involved in this damn Mangbetu aardvark fighting scene. I told you those Congo maniacs weren’t fucking around when they sold your markers to the Travel Channel. How the hell could you be so desperate as to start gambling on aardvark fights?! Any idiot knows the Mangbetu rig the matches with driver ants!” Then he starts in on the same old song and dance– pathological gambling consistent with manic phase of bipolar, exacerbated by massive doses of ground up Smith Kline and French Benzedrine inhaler strips rectally administered by Max Reinhardt during the filming of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “And by the time World War II rolls around, Garland and I are making secret scat porn loops for Goebbels in exchange for crates of Pervitin tabs. God only knows how much crystal meth I pumped out of my nuts into Ava Gardner!” Luckily for me, the Mickster’s litany of self-pity came to an abrupt halt when he aspirated a massive knob of manure and then it was lights out.

That was three days ago. The doctors at Union County told me Rooney was brain-dead so we opted to ship him back to his family in North Hollywood. I have no idea what Scotts is going to do with the footage of Mickey and Richman trying to scarf down a 16 quart sack of Miracle-Gro. All I know is Adam swears he’ll never eat dirt again and I was the final person on earth who spoke to Mickey Rooney. And the little cocksucker still owes me 100 large.

Your shitty free movie of the week… this week: Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video

Mr. Mike

Before his brain exploded in the mid-1990′s, Michael O’Donoghue was one of the greatest writers of pitch black humor in this country. He wrote some of the best sketches in Saturday Night Live’s early history, including this sketch that asks the age-old question, “What if Superman ended up in Nazi Germany instead of America?”

As you may imagine, his vision probably didn’t always align with the vision of NBC, so a lot of his sketches did not end up on the show. Where some of the best of the rejected sketches ended up was this 90-minute special, which never ran on NBC. Instead, it ended up at the midnight movies… where a young me saw it. There were about ten other O’Donoghue diehards sitting with me in there. So much doomed laughter. Ah… warm memories. When Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video came out on VHS, I bought a copy, and wore it out. Now it’s on YouTube, where anyone can watch these little bits of pure genius.

Mondo, for those of you not familiar with the term, is an exploitation documentary. For an example, see my review of Primitive London.

My favorite moment… “Coming up next… Japanese girls bathing in dolphin blood!” It’s a movie in which women shoot down planes with pointy bras, people have ecstatic visions of Jack Lord, and cats are chucked into a swimming pool. The musical guests are none other than Sid Vicious, Root Boy Slim, and Klaus Nomi.

As Mr. Mike himself said in a Spin magazine column right before his brain went kablooey: “I don’t think of myself as just another writer. I see myself more as an Instrument of Destiny with a clear moral imperative to set the world straight on a few things. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not claiming that I’m right and that everyone else is wrong. All I’m saying is when the Angel of the Lord appeared to me and allowed me to read certain key passages from The Book of Life, it gave me an ‘overview’ that others may not have. Call it ‘Wisdom’ or ‘Truth’ or a ‘Mandate from God,’ I don’t care. I prefer to consider it ‘one man’s opinion’ and let it go at that.”

If you think this world is a Wonderful Place Filled with Hugs and Love and Puppies Licking Ice Cream Cones, don’t go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTmN3N5v0W4

But if you’re like me, and see this world as the bleak fucking hellhole that it actually is, only Mr. Mike can make you laugh until you vomit and vomit some more, until you dry heave boiling black bile.

For a contemporary master of black humor, visit with our master of ceremonies here on ParagraphLine.com, Mr. Jon Konrath by buying his new book Atmospheres.

Love you all bunches! Your pal, Jan (pronounced “Yawn,” you heathens!).

The Last Slice of Pizza by Joseph Hirsch

UnknownFrequent Paragraph Line contributor Joseph Hirsch has a new book out, and it’s a pretty fun read. The Last Slice of Pizza is the story of a pizza delivery guy, an alien abduction, and the end of the world.

I was asked to blurb the book, and here’s what I had to say:

An amazing fusion of the realism of a down-and-out pizza driver mixed with a high-stakes science fiction tale about the fate of mankind.  Hirsh has blended genre and literary fiction in this page-turning novel that includes elements ranging from galactic space travel to German rocket scientists and Gulf War syndrome. The Last Slice of Pizza is a highly enjoyable fusion of slipstream and heartfelt fiction that will keep you cemented through the entire journey.

Hirsch has been publishing some awesome short stories here, but this book even tops that.  Check it out here.

Your shitty free movie of the week… this week: Forced Landing

Arnold Ziffel takes in Forced Landing.

Forced Landing (1941)

Previous to our involvement in the Second World War, the islands of the Pacific Ocean seemed to us a faraway place filled with hilariously foreign people with inscrutable accents. Maybe they were Mexicans. Or possibly they were from Latvia. All that we know is that their police force dressed and acted like Barney Fife.

Into this milieu is thrust a Gabor sister, probably the one from Green Acres, and an American Jerk who can fly airplanes. There’s a revolutionary who is possibly the Frito Bandito. And there are shipments of gold (gold I tells ya!) that go missing, possibly because of a Colonel who is the Gabor sister’s boyfriend (until the American Jerk wins her away from him because… He’s American, damn it!).

Is this a must watch? Fuck no! But it’s free!

Arnold Ziffel gives it two hooves up. Or possibly four, because he’s on his back, passed out from corn liquor.

Threat Level Blue Balls by Tony Byrer

Ray Technician swiped the tablet’s screen to consult the day’s schedule. The first entry read, ADJ LTB 7723.  Adjust the locomotive torsion bar on Robot 7723. Ray had seen the bot lurching about the shop floor and knew he’d have to make an adjustment soon. He selected a wrench from the tool crib and poured a cup of coffee.

As he was leaving the tech pod, Marla Technician came in. “Where ya goin’, Ray?” she asked.

“I gotta go jack off 7723,” Ray said. The techs called torsion bar adjustments “jacking off” because the adjustment access door was between the robot’s legs. The wrench handle jutted out like an erection.

Marla laughed. “Sounds hot,” she said.

“You know it,” Ray said. “Care to join us?”

“You know I’d love to,” Marla said, “but Facebook-Monsanto just declared war on Microsoft-Dish-Shell. I have to go to Propagation and monitor microwave traffic. They’re afraid Raytheon will use the distraction to pull some shit on us.”

“Sounds tedious,” Ray said.

“Ah, I don’t care,” Marla said. “I get paid by the hour.”

Ray laughed and nodded and pushed out the door.

He gulped his coffee on the way to the robot bay. When he opened the door, he saw 7723 waiting for him at its docking station.

“Good morning, Ray,” the robot said. It sounded glad to see him.

Ray nodded. “Good morning. How are you today?”

“I’m well,” the robot said. “Thank you. And how are you?”

Ray smiled. “Oh, you know. Another day, another dollar.”

“Yes,” the robot said. “I wonder if you might help me.”

“Sure,” Ray said. “What’s up?”

“My left leg is dragging. My locomotive torsion bar is out of adjustment.”

“I’ll help you with that,” Ray said.

“Thank you.” The robot lurched over and stood before Ray. A small service slot between its legs slid open and Ray inserted the wrench. When it was firmly seated on the adjustment nut, he grinned at the handle jutting out from the robot’s crotch.

“Are you glad to see me?” he asked.

The robot chuckled politely. “You techs never tire of that joke,” it said.

“No,” Ray said. “I guess not. It is funny, though.”

“Yes,” the robot said. “I wonder if–”

Ray’s phone rang. “Yes?” he answered.

It was John Supervisor. “Ray,” he said, “we need you in Propagation. Raytheon just smoked our microwave receiver. What are you doing now?”

“It can wait,” Ray said. “I’ll be right there.” He tucked the phone back into his pocket.

“Well,” he said. “I have to go take care of something urgent. Can you wait here until I get back?”

“Yes,” the robot said. “I don’t have rounds for another hour.”

“Okay,” Ray said. “I’ll be back.”

“You left the wrench in the access slot,” the robot said.

Ray laughed. “It’ll be okay. Just take a cold shower.” He hurried out the door. Robot 7723 returned to its dock and connected the battery cable. Then it stood silently in electronic rest, waiting to be called back to duty.


The robot waited for Ray to return but at 9:15 duty called. 7723 lurched out the door to make its rounds. The wrench handle waggled with each step.

Its first stop was at the Senescence Line, which was not really a line but a large ward full of gomers, gaffers, geezers, and gimps whose insurance policies were near expiration. 7723′s task was to remove those whose policies had lapsed and wheel them to Extraction.

The robot pulled a bed out of the first row and turned it toward the door. The bed held a young man recently discharged from the KBR-Lockheed Martin-U.S. Army. His mangled leg stank of the gangrene spreading from a shrapnel wound on his thigh. The man’s pale face strained toward the robot.

“There’s been a mistake,” he groaned.

“No,” said 7723. “I assure you, all paperwork is in order and all procedures have been followed.” The robot pushed the bed into the hallway.

“No,” the young man gasped. Sweat dripped from his face. “Please,” he moaned. “I can still serve. Have them take the leg. I don’t need it. I can enter data or file paperwork or fly the drones. I was a gamer before I was called up.”

“Those aren’t in your jobs categories,” the robot said. They turned a corner and rolled down another hallway toward a door marked EXTRACTION.

“Noooo,” the young man moaned. Tears spilled from his eyes and pooled in his ears. “I have a little girl,” he sobbed.

“You signed the disclosures,” the robot said. They bumped open the door and rolled into the cold white glare of Extraction.

“Noooo,” the young man cried. “I needed the money. I didn’t think it could happen to me. Don’t leave me here!”

7723 parked the bed along a wall and waved a handheld scanner over the disposition card affixed to the bed rail. The young man struggled to sit. The robot relayed the code for restraints. Two Extraction robots bustled into the room with a set of restraints and began the quick extraction process. 7723 turned its back on the young man’s cries and lurched back into the hallway where Linda Manager was waiting.

“23,” she said. She eyed the wrench handle jutting from its crotch and smirked. “I have an errand for you.”

“I’m currently on rounds,” 7723 said. “Will you override?”

“Yes,” she said. She fished a small electronic tablet from her pocket and entered a code.

“Very well,” 7723 said. “What can I do for my friends in management?”

Linda held her tablet near the robot’s head and tapped the screen, transferring files to 7723′s memory. “I need you to go to our Commerce Street office and download these files to their Propagation database. Raytheon destroyed our microwave relay and I can’t send them over the intranet.”

“Very well,” 7723 said and obediently lurched toward an exit.

The robot limped down the sidewalk. The wrench handle waggled before it, arrogant, proud, cocky. A fat woman in bicycle pants marshaled her two chubby children into a huge SUV.  She plopped behind the wheel and stared at the robot, her eyes wide and wet, her tongue slowly sliding along her bottom lip. Her Lycra pants were suddenly too tight in the crotch. The fabric squeezed her camel toe. She squirmed in the seat and her face flushed.

She rolled down the window and stuck out her big square head. “You have a lot of nerve!” she shrieked. “There are children here!” When the robot ignored her, she whipped out her cell phone and punched at the numbers, her eyes two hot, hard little marbles.

“911,” a voice on the phone chirped. “Your emergency is our business. How will this be charged?”

“Credit card!” the fat woman barked. She gasped out the numbers and shrieked, “A robot! Its bare erection! Oh, my children! My children!”

“Stay where you are,” the operator said. “Officers are on the way. Additional charges may apply.”

The city’s Special Sex Crimes Unit were relaxing in their wood paneled bunker when the speaker crackled, “Sex predator loose on Veterans Avenue. Bare erection in view. Children in the area. Threat level blue balls!”

The men scrambled to their loadout kits. “Get some!” they screamed. “SSCU! Get some! Get some!” They donned their gear and shuffled out the door to a waiting armored personnel carrier, SSCU stenciled on its side. The vehicle rumbled to life and lumbered out the bay door. It crunched into the front fender of an Escalade parked at the curb. The SUV jumped like a kicked dog. The APC shouldered it aside and turned into the street.

The SSCU commander, Sergeant Thug Burly, nodded at Officer Kick Murphy. “I want the owner of that vehicle cited for destruction of public property. There’s a scuff mark on the bumper of my vehicle.”

“Yes, sir,” Murphy snapped, and entered commands into the tablet strapped to his forearm.

The vehicle caromed down the street banging off parked cars. “Infraction!” Burly shouted over and over. “Destruction of public property! Interfering with a police officer!” Officer Murphy tapped at his tablet.

The vehicle slammed to a halt against the side of a packed school bus. Children catapulted out the side in a torrent of sticky, flabby flesh.

“Arrest that driver!” Burly screamed. “Obstruction of justice! Resisting arrest! Assaulting an officer!”

Three officers fell on the bewildered driver and beat him senseless. He lay bleeding on the street. Two officers shot him with tasers. “Hands behind your head!” screamed one. “Don’t move!” screamed the other. The driver’s body jerked and spasmed, hissing and sizzling on the pavement as the tasers pumped their charges through him.

The other officers surged out of the vehicle and crouched behind confused civilians.


“Get down!”

“Don’t move!”

“On your knees!”

Robot 7723 stopped in its tracks. It gazed about at the spectacle. “Oh my,” it murmured. It backed slowly and hid behind a parked Excursion.

Sergeant Burly stood with his hands on his hips surveying the scene. “I don’t see the pervert,” he announced. He eyed the crowd. “Where’s the fucking pervert?”

A little old white-haired woman with a canvas bag of knitting hanging on her arm pointed toward the Excursion. “Freeze!” screamed an officer. “On your knees!” screamed another. The little old lady looked from one officer to the other, back and forth, her eyes large and round and wet. A third officer whacked her on the back of the head with a shot-filled sap. She collapsed to the pavement in a heap, blood welling from her ears.

A teenage girl fell to her knees beside the old woman, sobbing. “Grandma!” she sobbed. “Grandma!”

“Freeze!” screamed an officer.

“On your knees!” screamed another.

A third officer jacked a slug into the breech of his riot gun.

Burly turned his back and strode toward the Excursion. A shotgun blasted behind him. Screams of, “Freeze! On your knees! Don’t move! Hands behind your head!” sounded. Firearms popped and people cried out.

The robot crouched behind the Excursion. Burly strode to it and stood with his legs spread, hands on hips. “What have we here?” he demanded. “A pervert? How many kids have you raped today, you bag of pus?”

7723 stood. “I’m not a pervert,” it said. “I’m an attendant robot at WalMart-Sony-TRW.”

Burly eyed the wrench handle and pulled his pistol. “Don’t move,” he whispered through clenched teeth. “I’d just love to blow your fucking pervert head right off your shoulders. How would you like that?”

“I wouldn’t,” the robot said. “The repair expenses might–”

Burly thrust his pistol into the robot’s visor. “I said don’t move!” he shrieked. “That means shut up!” He turned to the crowd. The officers of the SSCU were beating anyone they could reach. People bled in the street. Fists and clubs flailed.

“God damn it,” Burly hissed. He ran to the melee, grabbing officers by their collars and throwing them to the ground. “The pervert’s back here!” he shouted. “He’s back here!”

The officers leaped to their feet and ran toward the robot. “Don’t move!” they screamed. “On your knees!”

“Ray!” the robot screamed. “Ray! Help me!”

“Shut up!” Burly shrieked.

“Don’t move!” the officers shouted. “On your knees!”

“Here, here!” Ray shouted, pushing through the crowd of onlookers. “What are you doing to my robot?” He held his employee ID card before him. The officers wavered at the sight of official identification.

Burly stuck his chest out. “Where did you come from?” he asked.

“I got a distress call from my robot about five minutes ago,” Ray said. “So I came to see what’s wrong.”

“What’s wrong,” Burly growled, bouncing his fist in his hand. “What’s wrong. I’ll tell you what’s wrong. This fucking pervert is on a rampage. That’s what’s wrong.”

Ray snorted. “How can a robot be a pervert?” he asked. “That’s just–” His eye fell on the wrench handle jutting from the robot’s crotch. “Oh,” he said. He grasped the handle and the crowd sighed. He tugged on the wrench and the crowd moaned. The wrench jammed on the nut the way wrenches sometimes do. Ray slid his hand up the handle. The crowd gasped. Burly’s eyes were shining. He licked his lips. Ray tugged again and the wrench pulled free. The crowd exhaled, their faces flushed.

Ray blinked. “Okay, folks,” he said. “Show’s over. There’s nothing–”

“You fucking faggot!” someone screamed. Someone else screamed, “Goddamn asshole fucking cocksucking queer!” The crowd stepped forward. The cops raised their clubs, eyeing Ray.

The robot clutched Ray’s sleeve.

Ray stood and pointed to the rear of the crowd. “Look!” he shouted. “A pedophile!”

The stared at him blankly, their slack mouths wet.

“Child molester!” Ray shouted. “Child–”

The crowd turned and surged. “Where?” they moaned. “Oh, where?”

“Back there!” Ray shouted, pointing. “The children are in danger!”

The crowd bolted, bleating, followed closely by the cops. Buttocks quaked. Jowls quivered. The flabby tide boiled into the street.

Ray turned to the robot. “Exit,” he said, “stage left.”

“I don’t know what you mean by that,” the robot said, “but I agree we should leave.”

They picked their way through the bodies tangled in the street. Some of them were still breathing. “Hey,” Ray said. “You should ping Extraction. There are some good units out here.”

“I’ve already done that,” the robot said. “An extraction team is on the way. I need to stay here to coordinate.”

“Sure,” Ray said. “See ya back at the salt mine.”

“Okay,” the robot said. “Before you go, perhaps you could adjust my LTB.”

“Oh,” Ray said. “Sure.” He knelt before the robot, inserted the wrench, and gave it a twist. “How’s that?”

“Ah,” the robot said. “That was nice. Thank you. Your money’s on the dresser.”

Ray guffawed. “I don’t believe it!” he shouted. “You made a joke!”

“Yes,” the robot said. It sounded smug. “Perhaps I should demand a raise.”

Ray laughed again, then stood and walked toward the plant, carelessly stepping over bodies both dead and soon to be extracted.