We here at Bizarro Central like to keep up with all the weird podcasts out there (especially the ones that are OUT THERE), and now we’re happy to present you with a new podcast created by bizarro alums Michael Allen Rose and Danger Slater. It is very humbly called UNREASONABLY HANDSOME…
…and you can check it out here!
Newly released from Eraserhead Press and available from Amazon, it’s….
A darkly comic noir about a chicken living in a world of anthropomorphic eggs who’s wanted for a murder he didn’t commit.
Life’s tough for an “embry.” Considered a vestigial organ at best and a parasite at worst, chicken embryos are usually aborted by the egg folk early in life. Once in a while one survives and slips through, hatching into an embry, an ostracized, lower caste anthropomorphic chicken. They have their own ghettos, and are barely tolerated by polite society. Our hero wakes up one day to find that some upstanding citizens have been scrambled. The king, his horses and his men are now after our hero for a crime he didn’t commit and proving his innocence is going to be nearly impossible. Thank goodness he’s armed with spurs, or the rotten eggs prowling the alleys of this strange grocery item city would fry him good. Delving deeper and deeper into the mystery, Embry uncovers his own bizarre background and finds he is hunted by a secret society who revere the most famous egg of all time, the very egg he himself emerged from during the great fall.
From the author of Boiled Americans and Party Wolves in My Skull comes a dystopian crime story that will have you asking: Which comes first, the chicken or egg?
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL!
Michael Allen Rose has started a Patreon account so fans of his books, music, and other artistic shenanigans can help him continue creating more beautifully weird projects in the future. We at Bizarro Central hope you check it out and help Mr. Rose achieve his goals. Thanks!
By J. W. Wargo
“Industrial rock with a black sense of humor, burlesque and machine rock fusion, experiments in sound and fury.” –Flood Damage Facebook Page
(This edition of Unearthly Sounds highlights a writer from within the Bizarro Community who also happens to be a kick-ass noise maker, Michael Allen Rose. I sent him 10 questions, he sent me back 10 answers, and then I cleverly edited my questions to sound more like we had a face to face dialogue. Clever!)
JWW: I already know who you are, but attempt to justify your meaningless existence to an uncaring world while I stand in the background periodically laughing maniacally at your futility.
MAR: Man, I didn’t know this interview would be work. Especially existential work. Your question represents an encroaching ennui that reveals the pathetic futility of existence. That said, I am Michael Allen Rose, author, musician, performer, raconteur, raccoon, racquetball player, rapscallion, rack and pinion steering… what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, justification. None of us are special, nobody runs the world and we’re all going to die.
JWW: Good, now that we’re done laughing let us commence with the serious talk. How much water damage has your band actually caused?
MAR: We try not to drink much water when we play shows, and stick to alcohol. We’re less likely to spill it because it’s expensive, and also nobody can point to the accident and say “Ha ha, flood damage.” And laugh, and laugh. Did you know that floods cause more damage and take a higher economic toll than any other type of natural disaster? It’s true. That’s why I named my band Flood Damage. Because we cost too much and soak your personal items.
JWW: Relevant! Your live shows incorporate some interesting stage antics. Please elaborate on them or face swift punishment from my Cat O’ SixtyNine Tails!
MAR: Having a background in performance, and being a fan of so-called shock rock and the theatrical, it was always important to me to have a strong visual presence for Flood Damage shows. When I first started doing live shows back in 2001 or so, it was just a guitarist and me, so we’d stage elaborate live pranks and performance things so as to be memorable and put on a good show without the traditional live band setup that people expect. He gave birth to corn-syrup coated baby dolls once, we did a mid-show juice box break, one time we had guys dressed as hillbillies come out and start square dancing with the audience… I guess I’ve always gone into any artistic endeavor with the idea that you need to be having fun doing what you’re doing, otherwise the audience will know and they won’t be having any fun either. So turn up the energy, the intensity, the craziness, and most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously.
JWW: Fear not, for no one takes me seriously. Has your music inspired your fiction writing and vice versa?
MAR: It’s funny, I can look back at certain things I’ve written, even from many years ago, and I won’t be able to remember any of the specific lines I wrote but I’ll be able to tell you exactly what song was playing when I wrote the first line, or noted the concept. Music has always been really important to me, in all aspects of my life, and so it bleeds into my fiction a lot. It works the other way around too, as I always try to find ways to blend my theatre and performance work, my music and my writing. They’re certainly separate art forms in many ways, but the influence via connection is strong.
JWW: The creative mush made from multiple influences tends to look weird, but still tastes great. When did you discover the weird inside yourself and first unleash it upon the public?
MAR: I’ve always been weird, I guess. When I was a kid it amused adults (when it wasn’t making them worried about me), then as a teenager it became an albatross around my neck, marking me as a target for people. This is not a unique story. I imagine most of the creative types reading this had a similar experience. Luckily, in college, I became involved with the theatre and music and lit scenes, and figured out who I was. That weirdness was honed, shined up, refined, and became a base for the iconoclastic, silly, tongue-in-cheek kinds of things I like to do. So really, I was born weird, but it didn’t bloom and flower until I was old enough to understand that it was “okay” to be weird.
JWW: So often, too, do the Creative Types scream out “I’m not okay, you’re not okay”… but I digress! Tell us all the spoilers in your new album so we don’t have to listen to it.
MAR: Well, the butler did it. The bread was poisoned. The king’s brother stole the cheese. The plane crashed on an island that traveled through time. Billy learned to always wash his pelvis. I think that’s most of the spoilers. Despite that, you should still listen to it, because it’s going to be a slab of punky industrial rock with a lot of weird machines and banging things and yelling and beeping and sexy guitars and attitude. And doughnuts. Maybe. Maybe doughnuts. If I can find a way to record them. Also, people who have been following my music for a long time, it’s going to feel like an orgasm. I’ve been promising this album since 2007 (I’m a tad late) and really the last full Flood Damage album was “underlife” back in 2001. I’ve had a few songs on compilations and things since, but it’s going to feel good to have a full new pile of music for your earholes, out there in the world. The album’s working title is either “Instructions for the Assembly of God(s)” or “Muddy the Waters, Poison the Well” but that could change. Actually for those people kind enough to pay any cash for the album when it finally comes out, there may be a whole downloadable bonus CD… remixes and the like, from some really cool cats. More on that as things come together in the late winter, early spring.
JWW: Heh, “earholes”! Speaking of sexy guitars, why is your guitarist, Burlesque Queen Viva La Meurte, so damn hot and awesome?
MAR: Viva La Muerte stole a hotness and awesomeness potion from a gypsy once, so I think that was the turning point for her. I think she also bathes in virgin blood? Seriously though, she’s one of my best friends and super cool, so really I’m pretty biased, but it seems picking her to join my crazy crew was a good idea. Since we’ve been hanging out, she’s been flying around the country as a feature dancer, producing a few shows and even won Ms. Exxxxotica last year. So now I have a sexy little person, a Jewish flying squirrel, a Mexican… among others… basically I’m trying to become the “up with people” of industrial music. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT COLOR OR CREED OR BODY TYPE YOU ARE. YOU TOO CAN ALIENATE FRIENDS AND RELATIVES BY MAKING MUSIC THAT SOUNDS LIKE ANGRY BELGIANS TRAPPED IN A WASHING MACHINE.
JWW: A sound analogy of Industrial music if I ever heard one! Also, if you got the chance to play Trent Reznor just one of your tracks, which one would it be?
MAR: Maybe “TV Land Murders” which is one of the new ones… I’m pretty excited about that one. Older, but still favorite relevant tracks would be like, “Hooray for Everything!” or our crowd favorite “SeXee.”
JWW: Who would win in a chicken slap fight, Marilyn Manson or Courtney Love?
MAR: Love would come out of the gate hard and fast, fueled by cocaine and evil, slapping like some kind of whirlwind slapping robot. Manson would be trying to pose for the crowd, smearing his lipstick all over his face and trying to pretend to be a fascist dictator and whatnot, and it would be hard for him to handle her assault and shield himself while doing so. However, eventually the coke would wear off and the heroin in Ms. Love would take over, making her slothful and logy. Although she couldn’t feel the pain, Manson would take the second round through sheer brutal slapping. The third round though, would end up in a draw, with Love “passing out” (dying, until her personal doctors administered an adrenaline shot to her heart) and Manson getting drunk on the smell of his own absinthe-laden ego farts and wandering off to sodomize someone more relevant. Rough match, Joe. Rough match.
JWW: Perhaps it is necessary for performers from one generation to proclaim the death of music so that the next may reinvent and rebirth it. Will you be making music until the end of the world? What music will you be making at the end of the world? What will your last song be called, and if you haven’t chosen one yet are you considering the title “The End”?
MAR: I used to half-jokingly say that if I knew the end of the world was about to happen, Flood Damage would be playing a show right then and there, rocking out while the meteor crashed down and obliterated us. I like to think I still would. I think if we could time it so that we’d be finishing up right when everything went to shit, I might consider a cover. Something confusing. The Monkees maybe.
By Michael Allen Rose
Imagine a world in which a shadowy agency funded by the government pulls strings behind the scenes to create a state of perpetual war and devastation in the name of progress. No no, wait, I don’t mean OUR world, I mean the fascinating and violent world of S. T. Cartledge’s House Hunter. Okay, well there might be some allegory at work here, it’s true, but at least we don’t have enormous buildings wandering around our skeletal cities pounding the hell out of each other with lightning cannons. We save lightning cannons for conflicts in the middle-east.
House Hunter is set in a society where buildings are semi-sentient and capable of much more than simply providing shelter and places for birds to crash into. Using a cerebrum, which is a sacred object imbued with special properties that allow a user to control the structure, houses can engage in combat, protect their users, and transform into a variety of animals, flying machines, weapons and creatures from our mythic lore. House hunters are those who wrangle the most ornery of houses and train them to be peaceful and helpful, something like wildlife conservationists with an added mixer of daring adventurer and the occasional splash of cock-fighting aficionado.
Cartledge introduces us to Imogen, a house hunter who quickly ends up going from a normal life (as normal as house hunting gets, anyway) to being on the run from a syndicate of influential people interested in consolidating their power using the might of the fabled Jabberhouse. Her only ally, a mysterious figure named Ellis who hides a past that leads to some great twists later in the book. From there, Cartledge spins a tale of adventure that takes the characters through ancient jungles, dark labyrinths and mysterious monasteries to try and stop the Association. This is a fun book, the story riddled with battles between bizarre monsters and exciting transfigurations. It’s obvious Cartledge is a fan of cartoon violence and giant monster flicks, as the series of battles in House Hunter hearkens back to battle scenes from the classic Godzilla films, with the addition of smaller figures (such as his human characters) swinging around and shooting lightning cannons, setting traps, and generally adding to the chaos.
The plot is lightning fast and lots of fun. Cartledge wisely sticks mostly to one through-line and though he occasionally riffs on things with slight detours, every chapter serves the central arc and drives toward the conclusion. It’s difficult to diverge from the main story in a book this short and keep things moving in the right direction, so we’re treated to a very tight and direct plot, which works well. The prose itself belies the author’s youth, and reads far better than a typical first novel. It’s obvious Cartledge has a love of language and storytelling, and that voice comes through in House Hunter. There is also a distinctive noir feel to the style of the book, with the gritty feel of urban environments utilized as characterization instead of setting, which is interesting.
I wish that there had been more room for House Hunter to really explore the world that we get glimpses of in the book. There are all sorts of amazing creatures and concepts on the periphery as we read through the book, everything from minotaurs and sprites to the weird insectile facial features and mutations of the citizenry. In that vein, House Hunter walks a line between the world of the familiar in a sort of magical-realism way and all out full-on bizarro. Because of the book being novella length, it always feels like there’s more just outside the reader’s line of sight. Perhaps we’ll see more of this world in future books, as there seems to be a great deal more to see. Intriguing, fascinating and strange, House Hunter is definitely worth picking up, especially for adventure fans and people who want the grime of noir jammed into their weird action stories. I’m also a huge fan of epilogues that cast the story they follow in a new light, or recontextualize pieces and parts of the narrative – something the author uses here to great effect. A great debut from Cartledge, who is sure to rise in the bizarro scene like a flaming house about to cold-cock a skyscraper.
by Spike Marlowe
This is the final interview in my New Bizarro Author Series 2011-2012 interview cycle. For the past two months, I’ve posted interview outtakes on Bizarro Central from each of the interviews I’ve conducted with the seven other New Bizarro Authors, and then posted the rest of the interviews on my website at www.spikemarlowe.wordpress.com.
I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know my fellow NBAers, and sharing these interviews with you. Each of them is a fascinating person who has written an awesome book. Now, for this last interview, I have a little something extra special.
To begin, instead of outtakes from the entire interview, the first half of the interview is below. Secondly, in the past, I’ve conducted my New Bizarro Author Series interviews via email. This time I was lucky enough to sit down with the immensely creative and multi-talented Michael Allen Rose, author ofParty Wolves in Your Skull. During the interview, Michael had several very interesting guests arrive.
Believe me, I’ve learned my lesson about interviewing Bizarro authors in person – you never know if the “characters” from their book might show up.
Allow me to set the scene: Michael Allen Rose arrived at my San Francisco Mission apartment in the late afternoon on Sunday, March 11th. This Sunday was daylight saving’s, and so the sun was still fairly high in the sky. We exchanged pleasantries and talked about the great times we had at BizarroCon in November. Then we sat down on my futon and started chatting.
Spike: Hi Michael, I’m thrilled to get to chat with you today about your New Bizarro Author Series book, Party Wolves in My Skull. I thoroughly enjoyed your book. Entertaining, sweet, witty, hilarious. I had a great time reading it. Now, in addition to being an author, you’re involved with a variety of creative endeavors. Would you tell us a little about all of them?
Michael: Basically if I’m not trying to balance too many things at once, I feel like I’m not doing enough. In addition to writing books, I produce theatre and performance events through my RoShamBo Theatre, there’s my industrial/experimental music project Flood Damage, and recently I’ve been working with Hot and Heavy Productions here in Chicago as a performer. That’s in addition to finishing up the Second City Conservatory this past year, sending out short stories and plays, and editing a friend’s first novel. As I’ve mentioned before, all the things I do kind of cross-pollinate. I never claim to be particularly good at any one thing, but I do a lot of different things, I’m lucky enough to have wonderful people in my life who support my vision. RoShamBo, Flood Damage, and my writing are all just different arms of what I like to do trying to “make art happen.” Whatever that means. Now, I guess I’m also a Party Wolf biographer. You do know this is non-fiction, right?
Spike: Uh, right. Of course it’s non-fiction. Well, in that case, according to your book, pretty much anyone, or anything, can get married in Tagus, ND. If you were to marry in Tagus, who, or what, would you marry?
Michael: Tagus was a lot of fun to write about, because it’s a real town, and it’s really strange. There was a rite of passage where I grew up, wherein teenagers would go out there at night and scare themselves stupid. I am reasonably sure that they’ll marry you there, though, if you can find anyone who isn’t a cannibal or a ghost. Or a cannibal ghost.
Spike: Hey, I’d marry a cannibal ghost.
Michael: That’s very progressive of you. As for your question, I suppose I could marry my cat. She seems to tolerate me. Or maybe I can marry myself. I almost never fight with myself.
Smitty: And you’re always in the mood for love!
Michael: Oh God…
At this point, five coyotes, looking more anthropomorphized than wild, walked in. One of them looked like the Fonz from Happy Days while another carried a massive, six-foot long marbled purple and green “water pipe” that exuded more “fog” than the San Francisco bay.
Spike: Uh, Michael. Why did a bunch of coyotes just walk in, and why does one of them look like a 1950s greaser? And that one – he can talk.
Michael: Coyotes? No, no, Spike, these are Party Wolves. The real genuine article. And they can all talk. In fact, they talk too much. And they win too often at poker. I suspect cheating. Anyway, I hope you don’t mind them tagging along. I asked them to wait outside.
Cooter: We wanted to make sure you told the whole story. The world needs to know the truth, man.
Spike: Um, sure. I mean, any friend of yours is… welcome. And I’m totally down with the truth. Please, make yourselves at home. Would you mind leaving that massive bong outside, though? I’m finding it a little hard to breathe.
The bong-carrying coyote, excuse me, wolf, carefully placed his bong just outside the door where it continued to fill the hall with fog. He then proceeded to light up a huge blunt and sat down.
Spike: So, Michael, how did you meet the party wolves?
Sophie: We actually approached Michael with the idea. Herb has seen a few of his plays.
Sophie: He’s actually quite the theatre buff. We were looking for someone to tell our story, and Mister Rose’s style resonated with us.
Cooter: Plus he works cheap.
Michael: As the world’s leading expert on Party Wolf cranial infestation and migration patterns, it just made sense to get involved in a project like this. It’s not often that a researcher has a real chance to study his field hands-on like this.
Smitty: You didn’t describe my junk enough. It’s much larger than Michael wrote in the book, Spike.
The wolf, whom I assumed to be Smitty, twirled his junk around like a lasso. I tried not to notice. But then he got up from his chair and sat down in between Michael and me on the futon while continuing to twirl his junk. This is also about the same time I started to get high off of whatever Herb the Herb was smoking. Seriously powerful stuff.
Spike: Wow, dude, I can see. I can see. Could you please quit twirling your junk around and put it away? It’s like in 4-D. It’s a little distracting. I’m trying to conduct an–
Rex: We’re still waiting for royalties.
Michael: Rex, I told you, I’m not really making money on this. Being a small press author is hard work, and the payoff is more about fulfilling artistic needs, you know? Passion and soul and—
Rex: Do small press authors run fast?
Check out my blog at www.spikemarlowe.wordpress.com tomorrow, Wednesday, March 14th, for the second half of my interview with Michael Allen Rose and the infamous party wolves.
“Some folks dabble in multiple areas of interest. The risk, of course, is spreading oneself too thin. But that’s not a problem for Michael Allen Rose, author, actor, and musician. I had a chance to converse with him recently about his many artistic endeavors and past successes, including the recent publication of his first book, Party Wolves in my Skull.”
Click HERE to read the rest of the interview with Kirk Jones and find out what’s up with MAR and the bathrobe.