Category Archives: Arts and Culture

The Blarg No. 91: Todd Hoover

Meanwhile, in Arizona, we still have no fucking idea who our next senator is. In case it wasn’t abundantly clear, I’m pulling for Kyrsten Sinema. I have my problems with her record, but I believe the alternative to be far worse. As of this writing, Sinema currently holds the lead with nearly 50 percent of the vote. Let’s hope things stay that way.

We also managed to flip The House, so at the very least, there’s at least a check if not necessarily a balance. We’ll have to wait and see what happens at this point. I’m cautious. Note that I’m not cautiously optimistic. I don’t think we’re anywhere near optimism yet, but I am a pessimist and a cynic, so you know, take that for what it’s worth.

If you’re a writer in Arizona, and you’re reading this on Monday, you might be interested in this contest Hoot n Waddle has going on in partnership with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. Our friends at Piper have given HnW two spots at Andrea Scarpino’s Poetry of the Body workshop, which takes place on Saturday, 11/17 at 10 am, and the reason they’ve done this is because the workshop takes place right before our event to re-launch Andrea’s book Once Upon Wing Lake as a Hoot n Waddle title (it was originally published last year by Four Chambers Press). The event is a live Limited Engagement—the first live show I’ve done in over 18 months—and the guests will be Andrea and writer Matt Bell. All you have to do for a chance to win one of the workshop spots is share our Facebook event and tag Hoot n Waddle in your post. We’ll pick two names at random and message the winners privately.

I had a really interesting conversation with Todd Hoover (who records and releases music under the name The Invisible Teal). He was once a very religious person who went so far as to attend seminary school, but has since denounced religion in the wake of some personal events and self-realizations. His story is fascinating, and his music is a complex, eclectic delight. Todd’s latest album is called Debt and Quandaries, and he plays two tracks from it at the end of the show (“Line of Dots” and “Willey Siegel”). You can check out The Invisible Teal on Bandcamp.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 91 – Todd Hoover

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The Blarg No. 90: The Blood Feud Family Singers

It’s in the mail, that green envelope that holds all my hope for knocking the juggernaut of horror off of its current path of destruction—sidelining it for just a little while so I can catch my breath. Who knows what kind of impact my singular vote will have? All I can do is fervently hope that enough people have a similar dissatisfaction with the current direction of things—whether that’s the recent additions to the Supreme Court, the withdrawal from the Paris agreement, the ban on transgender military service, or any number of other politically, socially, and scientifically regressive policy decisions—that they vote accordingly.

I love the convenience of early voting, but I feel a little bit robbed of the voting experience this time. This is probably the most important election of my roughly twenty years of voting eligibility, or at least it feels that way, and a part of me wishes that I had the experience of waiting in line, standing in a booth, and turning in my ballot in-person.

I’m also a little bit paranoid. With all of the reporting on election tampering of late, I have a desire to follow my envelope on its journey from mailbox to tabulation—just to make sure everything gets counted correctly. It’s all out of my hands, though, and all I can do now is wait and watch the returns.

Anyway, on to this week’s show:

The Blood Feud Family Singers started out when The Haymarket Squares would sit in on Darryl Scherrer’s songs, not entirely unlike Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles. From there, Scherrer and the Square’s Marc Oxborrow thought it would be a great idea to put a band together (they explain it much better in the interview). The band has one album out, No Moon, and they will release their new album, Adversary, on Sunday, November 11th, with an album release show at Last Exit Live at 7:30 pm.

On this, the 90th Limited Engagement, Marc Oxborrow and Darryl Scherrer discuss everything from the formation of The Blood Feud Family Singers, to songwriting, to Darryl taking a pizza order from Tom Waits. Be sure to check out their new album, Adversary, and stick around until the end of the show to hear a track from the album.

Best.

Jared Duran

Listen to LE 90 – The Blood Feud Family Singers

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LE 89: Tyler Button

Oy, okay, what do I want to talk about this time?

Well, first of all, make sure you vote. At least in Arizona, you only have a couple more days to get your early ballot in the mail, so if you’re going to do that, get it done. Otherwise, go to the polls. Vote, and vote informed. Research the propositions. Research the judges. Look at who is running for the school board positions. These local things matter, and they matter a whole fucking lot.

Other than that, it’s just been really crazy busy. We had a really good turnout for the launch of David Chorlton’s Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird (which you can get here). I’m about to go into editing a new podcast called Album Infinitum, which is a music podcast focusing on one artist, one album at a time. The first artist is Aimee Mann, and the guests I had on to discuss the albums are fantastic, so look forward to that in early November.

Oh, also, I had a mild panic attack the other day. They’re happening more frequently. And my anxiety ebbs and flows, but never seems to truly subside. I can’t relax. It’s a real problem.

I’ve just got too much stuff running around my head all the time, and I’m not sleeping well. I started taking melatonin to see if that helps.

Tyler Button founded Tapestry Comics in 2015 with the aim of “creat[ing] the most exciting and interesting books retelling the greatest tales from our past.” On this edition of Limited Engagement, Button discusses turning one of his passions into a business, working with comic book artists, being a full time dad, and we have a deep philosophical discussion about what it takes to be a successful creative in the social media age as well as what it takes to keep that alive and viable in Phoenix.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 89 – Tyler Button

Ooh—one other thing. We’ll be back next week, because I have a conversation with The Blood Feud Family Singers that needs to go up, which means we may be going weekly. Stay tuned.

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The Blarg No. 88: Barbara VanDenburgh

It has to be talked about, if only briefly. I’d feel wrong otherwise. In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a complete and total shit show out there. If you’re a right wing conservative, I highly doubt you’re listening to Limited Engagement or reading The Blarg, but if you are, I’m not even sorry. I honestly don’t feel like the Democrats are doing much better at this point in time, but in order to stem the tide of regressive, fascistic, fear-mongering, and my fingers have actually gone apoplectic. That’s how bad things are—my fingers can’t even keep up with the horror running through my head.

What I’m saying is that the prevailing evil is so evil, we are left with no choice other than to vote for the lesser of two, because something has to fucking change and change fast. Irreparable damage to the progress of humanity and science has already been done, and it’s going to take a fuck ton of work just to get back to where we were which, honestly, already was not that great.

We have a job to do. That job is to send a message of undeniable strength and unity, which is that we won’t stand for this dismantling of social progress any longer.

My early voting ballot came in the mail today. I’ve never been more excited or terrified to vote. I’m terrified it won’t work, that we’ve already gone too far down a dark, dark path. If you have a conscience, if you have a glimmer of hope for social progress, you have a choice to make, and you know what the right one is. This is difficult. I am not one to even begin to tell someone what they should do—it just isn’t my place—but this is different. This time, there is something that you should do, and you hopefully know what that is. Don’t let polling make you complacent. They have to feel every vote.

Okay, I’m done with that. Let’s talk about something else.

Oh, we—Janell and I—went and saw a double feature this past weekend. We saw The Sisters Brothers and The Old Man and the Gun. The Sisters Brothers is a fantastic, dark, humorous novel written by Patrick DeWitt. I highly recommend it. I can’t say that I recommend the movie, though. It was the first of the two we saw, and I walked out thinking it was pretty good. Then we got our tickets for the 2nd movie, and by the time we sat down to watch the previews, I’d already downgraded it to being just okay. Walking out of The Old Man and the Gun, my opinion of The Sisters Brothers had settled in at “not that great.” There are some excellent performances, but I had some real problems with the story and the liberties they’d taken with changes to the novel. One of the reasons for the quick slide in rating is how good I think the 2nd movie is. The Old Man and the Gun, though not a terribly surprising or original (I mean, the crime genre has been done to death), is a fantastic movie. Everyone in it is great. Personally, I think Tom Waits steals every scene he’s in, but Sissy Spacek gives a wonderful performance, and Robert Redford… Honestly, is there anyone left in film with the caliber and gravitas of Robert Redford? I highly recommend it—and go see it on a real screen, in a theatre, with other people.

Speaking of films…

Barbara VanDenburgh is a reporter, cultural critic and Senior Content Strategist for USA Today Network (she has a ton of great film reviews you can find up on the AZ Central website), as well as the moderator for the popular First Draft Book Club, which meets once a month at the Phoenix location of Changing Hands. The next First Draft Book Club meeting will be Wednesday, October 24th at 7 pm, to discuss Gary Shteyngart’s new novel, Lake Success. For more information on that, you can visit the Changing Hands site, and for more Barbara, follow her on Twitter at @BabsVan.

Listen to LE 88 – Barbara VanDenburgh

Best,

Jared Duran

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The Blarg No. 72: Mop and Bucket Press

It’s going to be okay. This is what I keep telling myself. Everything will be fine. The muse occasionally finds another partner. I’m in one of those phases. A spiral. It happens. No big deal. Sometimes I get depressed and feel like I’m not capable of anything good. I know that’s not the case, but I can’t escape the feeling. Over the years, I’ve learned to cope with my head problems. I’m not perfect at it by any means, but generally speaking, I can get by well enough by reminding myself this is just a passing thing. I think that all creative types go through this at some point or another—and some more often than most. There is this looming, perpetual fear that you will never create again, that you will never live up to the way others perceive you and you have presented yourself.

This one’s bad, though. At Chatterbox last week, I went up to tell a story that I had down. I knew all the beats, where all the threads tied together. I went up to the mic, started the story, everything felt great, I hit my first beat, and then… I just totally lost it. Thread gone—the whole thing completely unraveled. I’ve been doing this long enough now that it wasn’t enough to send me running from the mic. I rambled my way through for a few minutes, hoping I’d get it back, but it never happened. I just went off on some semi-related political tangent that was absolutely not part of the story I was planning to tell. It was awful.

I don’t know. I’m tired, I’m stressed out, I have a lot of anxiety right now. None of that makes for a healthy creative atmosphere. Whatever. It’s going to be okay.

If you missed it, there was an announcement. Hoot n Waddle, which is the company Janell and I started that has found its purpose as a hub for arts and culture podcasts based in Phoenix, is also taking on publishing. It’s big stuff, and if you want to know more about what’s going on, you should check out the Hoot n Waddle website and follow our social media accounts.

On this edition of the show, I talk to Levi Smith and Kenny Puckett who are the creative team behind the comic Sleight of Mind and Mop and Bucket Press. It’s a great conversation about enduring friendship and creative synergy, as well as not giving up on your dreams and passions. That sounds corny, but it’s not. Levi and Kenny are great guys, and their comic is really cool, so you should check out their site, follow them on social media, and check out their merch.

Listen to LE 72 – Mop and Bucket Press

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 46: Ernesto Moncada Pt. 2

I find myself compelled to write about delusions this week. Generally speaking, we delude ourselves all the time. I know that I’ve uttered classics such as, “Everything’s fine,” “No worries,” and “I got this” on countless occasions. You may see a theme there—my self-deluded states tend to center themselves around ignoring, glossing over, or denying the existence of problems. They’re never big problems, because I’m also a realist. If there’s a big problem, I am much more likely to openly admit, “Oh, yeah, things are not cool, I am totally, completely, utterly fucked.” You’ve got to acknowledge the big issues immediately, because they have the tendency (read: absolute certainty) of rolling along and attracting other issues to the point where—to use one of my all-time favorite phrases—everything goes tits up and you find yourself hurtling through the jungle being chased by a huge fucking boulder, carrying a golden idol, and Alfred Molina says he’ll throw you the whip if you throw him the idol, but he’s a lying fuck and leaves you for dead. That is how things look to me right now. The government is both Alfred Molina and the boulder, and the yawning chasm across which we have to jump is highly representative of the one between the president’s ears. Oh, and the poisoned blow darts hurtling our way at high speed are really fucking stupid tweets. So, to answer the question you didn’t ask, yes, the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark is the perfect analogy for the straits we find ourselves in.

Some delusions probably serve a positive purpose, right? After all, as creative people, we have to shield ourselves with something, or we’d all just give up and go cry ourselves to sleep every night. Confidence, I think, is at least to some degree a delusion. You gotta fake it until you make it. At some point, if you’re lucky, through success—however one wants to measure that—the ratio of earned, experiential confidence to simply talking yourself up in order to put your work out there, or go for that job, or try out for that part, whatever, tips in the former’s favor, and “I got this” ceases being a functional delusion and becomes certainty, and you know which cup is the Grail, you choose wisely, you save Sean Connery and ride off into the sunset with your buddies. I figured I’d round things out with another Indiana Jones reference, and Last Crusade is unarguably the 2nd best film in the franchise.

This week’s show is part deux of my conversation with Ernesto Moncada. I’m sure I said something last week, but I really enjoyed talking to Ernesto, and I’m excited for you to hear the rest of our conversation. There is more on the notion of things lost in translation, we get to hear some about his experience transitioning from the Mexican literary scene to the arts and culture scene here in Phoenix, and much more.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 46 – Ernesto Moncada Pt.2

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The Blarg No.45: Ernesto Moncada Pt. 1

Success is something that has always been difficult for me to accept and recognize for what it is. It isn’t that I’m not proud of what I do, or that I think it isn’t good, I just don’t expect other people to enjoy or appreciate it, let alone champion it in any way. I am always so suspicious of any sort of praise or recognition that my artistic endeavors garner—whether that is Limited Engagement, any of my writing, or actual artwork (as I dip my pencil back into that realm)—that my knee jerk reaction is to first show gratitude (I like to think I’m not a rude individual), and then immediately begin dismissing it, brushing it off to the side, looking to see if the person behind it is working some angle, or whether there is a qualifying “but” or “if only” clinging to the underbelly. I am in a perpetual state of waiting for the other shoe to drop. In my mind, success is something that happens to other people.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, Limited Engagement was named Best Podcast in this year’s edition of PHOENIX Magazine‘s annual Best of the Valley issue, which is awesome! It means that people like the show. Even more important, people are listening! I’m not just some guy sitting in his office at home ranting out into the ether! I really do feel proud of this achievement, and I am thankful to the folks at PHOENIX Magazine for the recognition—it really does mean a lot to me. However, you read all that stuff in the first paragraph, right? I am trying really hard to simply enjoy the moment. It’s a struggle, but I think I’m getting there.

This week’s show is the first of another two-parter. I packed the recording gear into a bag, traveled down to Ernesto Moncada’s place, and we sat at his kitchen table discussing anything that came to mind. There was very good coffee involved. Ernesto pretty much does it all: he’s a writer, actor, teacher, comedian, artist, he just directed a wonderful version of Paul Auster’s Laurel and Hardy Go to Heaven, and he’s a wizard on the stilts. No, that’s not a typo. Ernesto’s got some amazing stories, and it was a great conversation.

Best,

Jared

Listen to LE 45 – Ernesto Moncada Pt. 1

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