All posts by Jon Konrath

About Jon Konrath

Jon Konrath is the editor of this crap.

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Dredging the Holiday Nostalgia by Jon Konrath

Here’s some holiday cheer from Jon Konrath. This story is an excerpt from his book The Earworm Inception which is available on Amazon for cheap. Happy Firestorm!

Every winter, I have fond memories of the holidays when I was a child. I went to this charter school for the gifted and talented, pyromaniacs, and kids with a bad glue-huffing habit. (It was an “or” thing; you didn’t have to test well, sniff Testor’s, AND get caught spraying a hobo with gasoline; any one of those three was fine.) Most of my teachers were 60s hippie types that made us sing songs about hemp farming and replace pronouns to honor all genders, so we didn’t spend a lot of time decorating Christmas trees or writing lists to Santa. Most years, we spent a lot of time reading about Druids and potato famines, although my second grade teacher, Mrs. Finkelstein, introduced me to Laveyan Satanism and had all of us puke in a ceremonial chalice for the Firestorm. (She later got busted for securities fraud, and when I was in high school, I used to mail care packages of King Diamond bootlegs and pruno ingredients to her in prison.)

I had a neighbor, Mr. Iommi, who used to invite over kids to snort lines of egg nog during the Christmas. He had a son, Bologna, born without any internal organs, kept alive with an experimental NASA exoskeleton and a Honda ATV with a special cart that hauled around a primitive heart-lung and dialysis machine. (A made-for-TV movie was made about his life, starring John Travolta, but it was badly done and glossed over details like how Bologna Iommi spent his days playing Atari 5200, and compulsively masturbating to snuff films, while eating Jello, sometimes using the Jello as lube. He’d later work as a key grip on a couple of David Cronenberg movies, but lose all of his money on the bootleg teeth whitener fiasco of 1998.)

I never liked snorting egg nog, especially the high-test stuff Mr. Iommi would concoct in his kitchen, using soy milk and Kingsford charcoal lighter. “Don’t drink it, you fairies, SNORT IT!” he would yell, holding a loaded snub-nose .44 bulldog to our heads, spinning the chamber, pulling back the hammer. He hobbled around on a cane, and looked a lot like Charles Manson, if Charlie poorly cross-dressed in get-ups bought at a Fashion Bug. “SNORT THE NOG! HAIL SATAN!” he would scream. Then, with the taste of eggs and butane in my throat, I’d go kick Bologna’s ass at Q*Bert.

I lived in one of those annoying subdivisions where everyone judged your place in life by how many toxic chemicals you paid one of those Chemlawn places to spray down on your yard. There was a homeowner’s association that mostly did a lot of racial profiling, but had an annual Christmas decoration contest. To most of these Izod-wearing motherfucker, this meant wrapping every single surface with K-Mart lights, throwing a plastic Santa on the roof, and blasting some new-age fake-ass solstice crap through three thousand watts of distorted all-weather speakers. Even though our subdivision was adjacent to a nuclear reactor plant, we’d have frequent brown-outs in December when these fuckers would start installing klieg lights and commercial ski resort-quality snow machines, jockeying for the grand prize, a $50 gift certificate to a local Ponderosa steakhouse.

My parents worked four or five different jobs and didn’t have time for this shit, so they usually left me free reign on a MasterCharge account and let me decorate the front yard. “I don’t care what you spend, but no more John Wayne Gacy-themed dioramas. I don’t want the FBI digging through our basement again,” my dad told me. Fair enough, but I wasn’t going to show up at the Farm and Fleet with unlimited credit and erect yet another tribute to a two-thousand year old religious prophet by hoarding a bunch of crap invented by Coca-Cola and Montgomery Ward in the last 50 years. I wanted to go historical on everyone’s ass. For example, when I was nine, I did a historically-accurate Rape of Nanking Christmas display, depicting the 1937 battle for the capitol of the Republic of China by the Japanese Imperial Army, and the ensuing atrocities. I did not win the contest, and our house got firebombed by some radical Japanese gang, but I did get free Chinese food for a year.

After our school let us out for the two-week Celebration of the Solstice and Mandatory Recognition of the So-Called Messiah Cock-Oppressor Jesus As Required by State Law, we’d binge on junk food and prescription cold medication, then visit my grandparents, who operated an illicit dog track and unlicensed plastic surgery clinic just outside of Muncie, Indiana. There was all of the usual Christmas stuff: games of Russian roulette, fried goat anus treats dusted with a thin layer of cocaine, the annual showing of the classic Christmas movie, Surf Nazis Must Die. But I don’t remember these rituals as much as how me and all of my cousins would go to this tattoo parlor in downtown Muncie and pool together all of our Christmas money and buy a bootleg Stinger missile from a former Nicaraguan freedom fighter that did wicked tats of characters from Roseanne Barr sitcoms. (He was really good too: did all of the shading and everything.) Then we’d get fucked up on some kind of fortified wine, and take the missile to the Delaware County regional airport in hopes of shooting down a multi-engine prop plane before we lost our buzz. It wasn’t even about the actual joy of watching a Cessna 421 fireball and kill everyone onboard; it was more about the sense of family and togetherness involved in illegally purchasing an antiaircraft weapon and dragging it to a small airport via BMX bike after consuming a large amount of malt liquor on a cold winter day.

And that’s what Christmas is really about, isn’t it? So whether you’re attempting to kill two of every animal you can find as a sacrifice to Lucifer, our master, for the Firestorm, or you’re just watching some football with your family, and hoping you black out before the voices in your head tell you to watch A Christmas Story again, I hope you have a happy holiday.

King Dong and Moron Movies

Do you remember Moron Movies? They were short little 8mm movies that Johnny Carson showed back in the 80s.  Len Cella was the one-man shop that directed, filmed, narrated, and acted in all of these little capsules of absurdism, stuff like Jello Makes A Lousy Doorstop. Just the titles alone were hilarious, like An Exercise to Prevent Fat Ears and Hitler In First Grade.

The Moron Movies were a perfect example of a brief blip of absurdism in the 80s, a time when things like The Far Side and Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts were hilarious capsules of surrealist humor. (I know Deep Thoughts was shown on SNL in the 90s, but it all came from National Lampoon in the 80s.) Cella’s work was the great granddaddy of some of the funny stuff we see on YouTube or Vine, much like how Handey’s work is a direct precursor to some of the best twitter humor.  The Moron Movies are also an amazing demonstration of the DIY ethic, because Cella was banging these things out in his house on a cheap 8mm camera, without any help, and then mailing them off to Carson.

There is an (unfortunately named) documentary short from a couple of years ago called King Dong.  (Be careful of what you click when you search for that.)  It’s on YouTube now, and is worth the 20-some minutes to watch it.  There’s also an old VHS tape that I remember finding at Blockbuster in college and watching at three in the morning, and part of that has also surfaced on YouTube.  It’s all incredibly dated, which makes it perfect.

Fireball 001 by John Hicks

FIREBALL 001 (2014) is a short video by John Hicks. Hicks, a writer, photographer, and musician, received his Warholian due in 2000 as a featured extra in Joel and Ethan Coen’s O Brother, Where Art Thou?, in which he exclaims the well-known line, “Hot damn! It’s the Soggy Bottom Boys!” He lives on a farm near Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The Collectors by Nathaniel Tower

All my friends have their own unique methods of tracking the chicks they’ve banged. This one guy, we call him “Pubes,” tapes a lock of each woman’s pubic hair to the wall behind his dresser. He’s got a whole color wheel of pubes back there. Red, black, blonde, brown, gray. If it’s a suitable color for pubic hair, he’s got it in his collection. Hell, he’s even got a rainbow pube lock that looks like he got it straight from one of those clown wigs. We’re not positive he didn’t.

“Pubes” usually trims their pubes right after sex, when the hair is a bit sticky and matted down. He says it helps with the preservation. Sometimes he tapes them up while the woman is still watching. “What are you doing?” she’ll ask. “Preserving,” he says.

If a chick’s got a shaved pussy, he tells her to come back when she’s hit puberty. Surprisingly, most of them come back. Actually, that’s the only time any of his women come back.

This other guy, we call him “Moist Mike,” takes panties from his girls. He keeps them in the top drawer of his dresser. He’s not picky about the type. Thongs, lacey things, bikini briefs, edible ones, split crotches. He even has a pair of XXL white cotton panties that look like they’d fit a bloated beluga whale.

“Moist Mike” says the key to panty collecting is getting them nice and wet before he pulls them off. He likes to rub a chick’s panties really hard before removing them. It traps in that horny vag scent, he says. Usually he gets up from his bed and puts the panties in the drawer before he even bothers to fuck the woman. That’s when they’re the most vulnerable and least likely to say no.

He’s really particular about how the panties are arranged, and he won’t let anyone else open the drawer. On lonely nights, “Moist Mike” opens the dresser, takes a big whiff, and jerks off into a napkin. I’m pretty sure he saves all his semen catchers in another drawer. It’s not like he has much else to put in that big ass dresser.

And me? I collect toenails. I keep them in a jar on my nightstand so I can stare at them while I bang a chick. It helps me get off faster. Every morning I reach inside and fondle the broken shards of toe. It’s the perfect antidote for my morning wood.

It’s a pretty kick ass collection. I keep them in an old pickle jar–slices, not gherkins or spears–that I didn’t really rinse out, which helps prevent fungus from spreading. I have all kinds of colors. A lot more than “Pubes” has taped to his wall or “Moist Mike” has arranged in his drawer, that’s for sure. The orange ones are my favorite. I keep a few extra bottles of nail polish lying around the room in case I don’t like the girl’s color. As soon as she orgasms, I dive under the sheets and start chewing on her toes. They always think I’m going to lick their crotch or some gross shit like that.

Most of the time, a few hard bites will yield something that’s jar-worthy. Other times, I chew until I get the whole nail off. Most of the girls don’t fuss about it too much. I almost always use a numbing agent before I start nibbling. Occasionally, a woman will kick me in the face, but it’s more reflex than anything else.

Last night this woman had magenta toes. That’s right. Fucking magenta. I thought for a minute I was in love. After chomping on her delicious tootsies, the damn jar is almost full. I don’t really want to start another one, so I might go through my collection and get rid of the ones I don’t like that much anymore. The crescent moon shaped nails sort of give me the creeps when I’m rubbing them on my body. It’s going to be hard to get rid of any though. They each have their own charm.

My dad kept dozens of pickle jars full of nails and screws and other shit in his garage. That’s where I got the idea. He loved building shit, but I never really had a knack for anything handy.

I think my old man would be proud if he could see my collection now.

Nathaniel Tower is a former English teacher who now spends his days at a computer. When not at work, he writes fiction and manages the online literary magazine Bartleby Snopes. If he’s not writing or editing, he’s either spending time with his wife and daughter, listening to records, or going for long runs while juggling. His short fiction has appeared in over 200 online and print magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Million Writers Award. His first collection of short fiction, “Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands,” was released in 2014 by Martian Lit. Visit him at nathanieltower.wordpress.com

Ten Questions with Ryan Werner

maxresdefaultRyan Werner is a modern-day renaissance man, if by “renaissance” you mean listening to Krokus and eating food from gas station mini-marts.  In addition to being an amazing writer (he’s had short fiction in a ton of places) and publishing chapbooks as Passenger Side Books,  he’s also an accomplished guitar player, and when he’s not on a crazy far-flung car tour across the country, he’s obsessing over professional wrestling and working as a janitor, or serving food to kids.  He can be found at http://www.ryanwernerwritesstuff.com
 

PL: Who are your favorite three members of Krokus other than Chris Von Rohr, Fernando Von Arb, Marc Storace, Mark Kohler, and Mandy Meyer?

RW: They’re all drummers, actually. Freddy Steady, because he kind of sucked but really loved being in Krokus, which is admirable. (Sort of.) Steve Pace, because he played drums and his last name was Pace. Stefan Schwarzmann, because he’s like the foreign metal version of some asshole like Matt Sorum, who just plays in every band after their prime. He was on one of the Krokus albums in the mid-2000s, which he left Helloween to play on.

 

PL: What kind of guitar strings do you use?

RW: I use those Ernie Ball skinny top/heavy bottom sets. Big power chords and bendy leads. Nothing exciting, but it reminds me of the time I saw Deicide in the Quad Cities and yelled at Eric Hoffman after show, just his name over and over again trying to get his attention and once he finally turned around I just very cutely and plainly asked what gauge guitar strings he uses. He just growled at me and walked away.

 

PL: Are you going to write any novels?

RW: Man, probably not. They’re just too fucking long. And I keep threatening to reduce my entire written output to a sentence someday, so I don’t think a novel is going to ever really be in the works. I actually just got an email from an agent, and after she showered me with praise for a recent short story, basically just asked me if I have a novel. I wrote her back and said that I was thankful she contacted me, and maybe by the time I assemble a full length story collection the market will have changed enough to not just have short stories be a part of a plea bargain deal.

 

PL: Did you know there was a vice-president at IFC Films named Ryan Werner?  Have you ever tried to contact him?

RW: Every once in awhile someone gets in touch with me asking about a lecture I gave on film festival submission strategies or something. I’ve never tried contacting him, but he’s the reason my website isRyanWernerWritesStuff.com and not RyanWerner.com. I’d love to contact him and let him know that since he’s resigned from IFC now he can give me that fucking web address.

 

PL: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever found in a bathroom while cleaning it?

RW: There are two worst things, one incredibly complicated, one incredibly simple, and both a product of the four years I spent working as a janitor at a Wal-Mart in northeast Illinois. The first is when someone took two clean sanitary napkins, pressed a turd flat between them, shaped the overflowing turd to match the contours of the pads, and set it down on top of the toilet paper dispenser. The other is someone just nonchalantly putting a used tampon in the sink.

 

PL: If I am a new writer, should I self-publish or try to find a book deal?

RW: I lucked out and had my first book published by someone else, the totally awesome Jersey Devil Press. They reached out to me and did the majority of the work. I knew from the second they asked me that I would have a great book when it was all done with, but also that it would give me enough of a pedigree to start putting out my own stuff. It seems like in the publishing business, as best I can tell, you’re nothing until someone says you’re something. Not to get off on a Mike Muir rant about positivity and DIY or whatever, but that’s the sort of shit people in control say to stay in control. If you write a book and you’re proud of it, put the damn thing out yourself. Understand that you might be sacrificing perhaps a sleeker look, wider distribution, stronger public relations, and other things associated with bigger or established presses, but also understand that you might not, and that if you’ve got a vision, see the damn thing through.

 

PL: What was your opinion of the Montreal Screwjob?

RW: It changed the way wrestling stories are told. Over in WCW, the culmination of the giant build to Sting vs. Hogan would end only a month after the Screwjob. Goldberg wasn’t on the scene yet and he’d be an afterthought in a company that was doomed. The WWF needed something and ended up using the Screwjob to present a story with no good guys or, concurrently, no bad guys. This allowed the viewer to bring more of themselves to the table in deciding who to root for. The “shades of gray” mentality was a completely different approach to mainstream wrestling, as far as the way it was executed.

 

PL: Who are your top ten favorite female writers?

RW: So many great ones, but here’s what I’ll come up with today.

1) Amy Hempel
2) Lorrie Moore
3) Mary Robison
4) Mary Miller
5) Sarah Rose Etter
6) Grace Paley
7) Flannery O’Connor
8) Alice Munro
9) Pam Houston
10) Chloe Caldwell

 

PL: You are always finding weird shit at goodwill. Do you have any thrift store strategies or habits?

RW: I’m pretty open as to what I’m “looking for” on any given day, but usually I’ll just head out with the attitude of “I’m going to buy something today.” Once, I found an old Swans LP with the shrink wrap still on for 75 cents. I found a copy of a whiteface Proco Rat for $3. I’ve gotten band shirts and nice jeans and awesome shit made out of leather. Stuff with tassels. Stuff with wolves. I love looking through piles of VHS to see if there’s an old George Lynch instructional video or a still sealed copy of one of those Robocop straight-to-video releases. I guess I don’t really have any tips. I’m probably doing a really bad job of streamlining my Goodwill experience because I waste so much time just looking through everything. I just like to look at stuff.

 

PL: What is the worst experience you’ve had on the road?

RW: I’ve been lucky enough to go out almost exclusively on well-planned, fun tours. The only thing I can think about is when I was in a band called Bull Dyke Rodeo that did instrumental psych-doom jams about Robocop and we had a show in La Crosse, WI. Being complete amateurs–no van, no recordings, no anything–we took two vehicles up to the show for the three-and-a-half hour drive. The bassist went up with his parents and girlfriend and a bit of the gear and the rest of us went up in another vehicle with the gear. Our bassist had somehow managed to drink an entire bottle of gin by himself on the way up, so by the time we started loading gear in he was already yelling at the sound guy and yelling for a circle pit to get started, even though the first band hadn’t even started yet. He drank about three more beers–somehow, as he’s nineteen at the time–and when we start playing it’s already a nightmare. At several points in every song he’d just start playing the opening riff to “Raining Blood.” He tried tuning his bass at full volume–with a Big Muff turned all the way up in the chain–for a full five or six minutes. At one point I walked over in the middle of a song and punched him in the face. Later on I just slapped him. This was during a phase when we wore dresses, too, so it’s just two adult men in dresses while their band completely breaks down. Four people watched the set and thought it was the greatest thing they’d ever seen. To this day it’s the worst show I’ve ever played.