The Blarg No. 81: Chris Ayers

Perhaps the least enjoyable aspect of podcasting is the editing process. Well, really, the least enjoyable part of anything is the editing process. Actually, I take all that back. The worst part of a process that involves editing is editing your own work. That’s the worst. The worst for me, at any rate. Other people might really enjoy editing their own stuff, but I can’t stand it. I’m not one of those people who doubts the quality of their work—not anymore, anyway, at least not to the point that I let it get in the way.

Where was I going with that?

Oh, yeah, the whole point is that editing myself is the worst, because whether it’s written or audio, I have to deal with my own voice. Audio is the worst! Who wants to listen to themselves talk that much? I can’t be alone in this. Going back and forth over cut points, making sure the tracks sound right when they’re glued back together… It’s a weekly torture. By the time I put a show up, I’m ready to never hear it again. This has absolutely nothing to do with the person I’m talking to, or the quality of the finished product, it’s simply that I can’t stand to hear the sound of my own voice a moment longer than I have to.

As someone who has suffered from more than a little bit of self-doubt, it’s a wonder I manage to put anything out there at all, and it’s only due to years of feedback from people whose opinions I respect, forcing myself to view my own work objectively, and the cultivation of a strong, healthy “Fuck It” attitude that I keep on plugging away.

This is why I envy the role of a producer who isn’t also the host. The actual editing itself is fun, when it’s someone else’s work. I like doing it. When I edit Chatterpod, it’s great, because I’m not in any of it. I just get to listen back to the storytellers, cut out some of the mic handling noises and transitional silences, level out the sound, and post the episode. I think Limited Engagement is a good, quality podcast, but if I never had to hear myself again, I’d be totally cool with that. Which brings us to this episode’s guest, who gets to happily sit behind the boards, as it were.

Chris Ayers is the producer of On the Grid (hosted by prior guest, Phil Haldiman), as well as the art director at RightThisMinute, and he just started up an awesome passion project, PHX Film Collective, which is dedicated “to bringing culturally relevant cinema to Central Phoenix.” PHX Film Collective’s first event, a screening of Dr. Strangelove, takes place at the Phoenix location of Changing Hands on Saturday, July 14th, at 7:30 pm. Be sure to follow PHX Film Collective across social media platforms for more information on this screening and future events.

Listen to LE 81 – Chris Ayers

Best,

Jared

 

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The Blarg No. 80: Philip Haldiman

80 episodes!

First, though, a quick note of thanks to everyone for the feedback on the intro to the last episode. I was nervous about making myself vulnerable to an audience of listeners, but I felt like it had to be done. Depression, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, it helps to talk about what’s going on, and as a podcast listener, it helps to hear other people going through similar issues, to relate and empathize, so to not open up would have felt dishonest. Again, thanks for listening, and thanks for the feedback.

But, 80 episodes—fuck, man! I don’t know if it’s ever going to sink in that this is a program other people are interested in, that it’s something other people consider worth their time—it’s mind blowing. As of writing this, Limited Engagement has already had more listeners in the first six months of 2018 than we had in all of 2017, which means, at this rate, we might actually double last year’s number. It’s nuts. If you’re reading this and you listen to the podcast (which, really, I’m not sure why you’d read this if you aren’t a listener), my gratitude runs deep. But, also, please rate and review us on iTunes/Apple Podcasts–listens are amazing, and ratings help us get more listens.

Quick Hoot n Waddle plug: we’re taking pre-orders for our first book, Chris Danowski’s DOGSEAR. You can get the book by itself, or purchase a bundle with a t-shirt or poster or both, and there’s a discount on the bundles exclusively for folks who pre-order online. Chris has written a fantastic book, and I am immensely proud to be publishing it.

My guest for our 80th episode is Philip Haldiman. Phil is known to a large swath of rabid fans as Denny from the cult classic film, The Room. In our conversation, Phil discusses what life is like as a member of the pop culture zeitgeist, the comic book he’s written about his Hollywood experience, My Big Break, and much more. Learn more about Phil’s work on his website.

Also on the show, a brief snippet from an upcoming episode of LE of a conversation I had with Tony Moschetti, who is the host of the Starving Artist PHX podcast and a co-founder of Laughing Pig Theatre. Laughing Pig’s original production, Survival Skills, begins a run of four performances at Mesa Arts Center on June 29th. Get your tickets on Ticket Leap and use the code PODCAST at checkout to receive $5 off per ticket.

Listen to LE 80 – Philip Haldiman

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 79: Joey Burns of Calexico

I spend an awful lot of time expecting things to fall apart. That’s just my go-to assumption. It’s not a crippling thing, it doesn’t stop me from doing stuff, but it’s always there in the background, this nagging feeling that I’m going to wake up one morning and everything I’ve worked on will just disappear—and as I pile on projects and they continue to meet with (always unexpected) success, encouragement, and support, that nagging feeling becomes more insistent, manifesting itself in a palpable sense of anxiety that I can’t seem to shake. When it was just Limited Engagement, and it hadn’t gotten much attention yet, this was a pretty mild feeling, but now the podcast has gotten some attention, as well as an increased audience and a higher profile. Then, add to that the launch of Hoot n Waddle, more podcasts, the subsequent launch of our publishing program, the upcoming releases of our first books… I’m about ready to explode and cover everyone within a decent-sized radius in hot, dripping, messy neuroses.

Apologies for that image.

My strategy thus far has been to just keep my head down and do the work, but I am freaking the fuck out. I don’t know what it’s going to take for me to get comfortable, and I don’t know that I ever will. Maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know. It certainly keeps me working hard and pushing myself to always improve, to grow, to never get stale or stagnate. On the other hand, I recognize that it can also make me very difficult to be around, and I don’t feel like I can ever really slow down or take a break. I’ve heard there’s something called a happy medium, but I haven’t found it. Sometimes it’s all too exhausting, and I find myself getting deeply depressed and discouraged by tiny, tiny things. I try to push that all down as much as possible, but I can see it seeping out, and I know myself well enough to recognize that if I’m noticing it, then I’m not fooling anyone.

Ugh.

I suppose the upside to all that anxiety is that I don’t take any measure of success, or any opportunities to do cool shit for granted. Case in point, this opportunity I had to talk to Joey Burns.

Joey Burns is a leader and founding member (with the brilliant drummer, John Convertino) of one of the most exciting, talented, and critically lauded bands on the planet, Calexico. On this edition of the podcast, Joey discusses the band’s Tucson roots, what the environment brings to the music, fostering a spirit of collaboration, speaks very candidly about Calexico’s creative process, and much more. Calexico is currently on tour in support of their new album, The Thread That Keeps Us (easily one of the best albums of the year thus far), and if you have the chance to see them live, don’t hesitate to do so.

Also on the show, a brief preview of an upcoming conversation with Philip Haldiman, one of the stars of The Room, which will have a screening at FilmBar on Friday, June 15th at 10 pm.

Listen to LE 79 – Joey Burns of Calexico

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 78: Katie Manning

As I write this, it’s Phoenix Comi—sorry, sorry, Phoenix Comic Fest time! Like the High Holidays, but for nerds, such as myself. We walk the halls en masse, we recognize each other’s costumes and t-shirts without irony, we buy stuff we absolutely do not need. It’s amazing. It will also be over by the time you read this, so if you went as well, I hope we all had a good time.

Phoenix New Times listed us in their list of “Phoenix Podcasts You Need to Hear”, which is really cool. It’s really surreal to see the podcast getting more and more attention. I’ve been doing this show for three years now, and I can’t tell you how many times I wondered to myself if anyone was even listening, let alone thinking it was any good. I’d like to take a brief moment to thank everyone who’s been a guest on the show, and a few people who have been particularly supportive: Leah LeMoine, Mike Pfister, Amy Hagerty, and Cynthia Black.

Quick bit of business: Hoot n Waddle, our little publishing and digital media company, is currently accepting manuscript submissions via Submittable. Please read the guidelines, and if you have anything that fits the bill, please send it our way.

On this edition of Limited Engagement, I talk with poet and professor, Katie Manning. Tasty Other, Manning’s first full length collection of poetry and the recipient of the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, chronicles the experience of her first pregnancy through surrealistic dream, religious allusion, and striking imagery that conveys all the love, hope, and anxiety that clinical texts can’t begin to relate. Get yourself a copy of Katie’s book.

Listen to LE 78 – Katie Manning

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 77: Jason Keil (plus a mini talk w/Dan Hull)

I had two conversations this weekend that made me think about religion. Specifically my personal relationship with religion, which, to be perfectly honest, isn’t that great.

One, with poet Katie Manning, made me consider religion and religious imagery as it appears in my writing, which is not often, but it does. That conversation will go up soon. The other conversation was with friend and neighbor Dan Hull, a short one that you can hear at the beginning of this edition of the show.

Dan has a film premiering on May 25th at The Newton called Bad Buddhist, and he invited me over to watch it with him. A recording of a fantastic one man show he staged at Space 55 a few years ago, the film mines veins of love, ritual, imperfection, and man’s inhumanity to man. Serious stuff, but it’s very funny as well, and the Buddhist lens through which everything is filtered serves to somehow make the film universally relatable in its specificity. The Buddhist rituals that Dan incorporates into the show connected me to memories of donning a yarmulke and saying the prayers as a kid. The ritual and the language of that came back to me instantly, and in Hebrew, too, and it’s easily been 20 years since I participated in anything remotely Jewish from a spiritual standpoint. Cultural and social Jewishness is inescapably ingrained in my personality makeup, but I was surprised, especially as a non-spiritual person, to find myself sort of missing the ritual, and it went a long way towards explaining a lot of my need for organization and routine. It’s something I’m going to have to really think about for a while, which I believe speaks directly to how powerful the film is. You should go see it on the 25th at 7 PM. If you can’t make it to the screening, visit the Bad Buddhist website and contact Dan for the Vimeo link.

Surprisingly, this weaves perfectly into my conversation with writer Jason Keil. Jason is a frequent contributor to The New Times, as well as other publications, and I highly recommend checking out his work. I connected with Jason via Twitter, and it did not take long for us to connect on a primally nerdy level. Jason is the sort of person that I can talk to endlessly about pop culture, so it was really hard to keep this conversation on the rails—which I swear I try to do despite all the evidence to the contrary. In addition to all the shared interests, Jason is just a really amazingly nice guy, and he’s so genuinely enthusiastic and in awe of the fact that he gets to do something he loves and is passionate about and in some way contribute to the pop culture fabric, that I want as many people to read his work and support him as possible. Check out Jason’s website, and be sure to follow all of his social media accounts.

One last quick note, a little bit of business, Hoot N Waddle is officially open for manuscript submissions. We’re currently accepting Poetry, Fiction, and Creative Non-Fiction. You can visit the Hoot N Waddle site, or go directly to our Submittable page to read our guidelines.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 77 – Jason Keil (plus a mini talk w/Dan Hull)

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The Blarg No. 76: Omar Pimienta and Jose Antonio Villaran

First, the cat update. For anyone following our Instagram account (@limitedengagement), you know that we are once more sharing our home with a cat—and I purposely don’t say “own,” because I don’t think you ever really own a cat, they’re more kind of like that free-loading roommate who doesn’t clean up after themselves or pay their share of the rent. Her name is Susuwatari, after the little black soot creatures in the Miyazaki film My Neighbor Totoro. We’re calling her Susu for short. The name seems to suit her. She is, as was Alison (my previous cat, for newer listeners), a rescue from the Humane Society. Black cats are often mistreated and are hard to adopt out, and I have a fondness for them, so I do what I can. Susu has certainly dealt with some trauma (on top of being recently spayed, she’d been abandoned, and was pregnant), but she’s settling in nicely. She and Gizmo are still working out the kinks in their relationship, it’ll be fine. She’s weird, he’s weird—she likes having her belly rubbed, which is not a normal cat thing, and she likes headbutting stuff.

I spent some time writing poetry on demand again. This time it was for Independent Bookstore Day over at Changing Hands Phoenix. My second time now, and again I found it very freeing creatively. I’ve seen some of the writers I’ve done this with make notes and write rough drafts prior to typing up their finished pieces, but I composed one draft on the typewriter, and that was it. I’d never pretend that’s the best way to go about it, but it works for me. The Changing Hands requests were much more difficult than the ones I got on Roosevelt Row. For starters, I had to write a couple of poems suitable for children, then there was the woman who wanted something happy about retiring on a farm with pumpkins, goats, and chickens. About a third of the people wanted something happy. I don’t do happy.

All told, over the course of about 4 hours, I wrote 18 poems, which is nothing to sneeze at. They weren’t all great, but I actually really liked a few of them that I’ll probably rework and hang onto. I’ll post my favorites up on Instagram.

We went to see Infinity War last night, and I’ll probably talk a little bit about my impressions when I record the next Hoot N Review this week with Jenna Duncan, but I loved it. We’ll see where it falls in the rankings over time, but I think it’s possibly their best. At this point, they’ve reached a critical mass as far as the amount of characters goes, but they pulled it off. For a while there, I thought I was watching a Paul Thomas Anderson film with amazing special effects.

I had the opportunity recently to sit down with Omar Pimienta and Jose Antonio Villaran, the writer and translator respectively of The Album of Fences (available now from Cardboard House Press). With everything hitting the fan right now, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have this discussion on the poetics and poetic politics of borders, the responsibility of artists (of all disciplines) to create work that speaks out against the prevailing rhetoric of fascism, social regression, and hatred. We got deep.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 76 – Omar Pimienta and Jose Antonio Villaran

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The Blarg No. 75: Stina Sieg

Writing without filters

Not too long ago, I copped to having a bout of writer’s block—which makes it sound like a cold or virus, something you can get rid of with bed rest and vitamin C, and I suppose it sort of is in a way. Now, I’ve had plenty of orange juice, but not so much in the way of sleep, so that block still seems to be hanging on, but I can move around it.

One of the ways that seems to work is introducing a random element. A concept that, whenever it comes up, always makes me think of that passage in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where Ford and Arthur are stranded on prehistoric Earth and they hit upon the idea of pulling the great question of Life, the Universe, and Everything out of Arthur’s brain by having him pull letters out of a Scrabble bag. To that end, I said yes to participating in a pair of events where I write poetry on demand. One of the events is done and dusted, and not having done anything quite like it, it was intimidating and exhilarating all at once. It was First Friday out on Roosevelt Row, and I was a writing machine. No time to edit, no time to filter. I asked the person making the demand a few questions, jotted down some notes, and off I went—free-associating like a motherfucker.

I don’t think I’d say writing like this completely removed the block, but I was able to at least work around it and write some things that people were happy with and I thought were pretty decent for being on the spot. If you’re interested, I’ll be doing it again down at the Phoenix Changing Hands location for Independent Bookstore Day on April 28th. Noon to 3 pm I think.

Another thing I started doing to get around my writer’s block is storytelling. I’m okay at it, and I think I’m getting better, but my guest for this edition of Limited Engagement, Stina Sieg, is a great storyteller. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her tell stories at Dan Hull’s monthly Storyline Slam, and she’s fantastic. Not to mention she’s one of the team of journalists on KJZZ who make my daily commute to and from work bearable.

Listen to the conversation on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and here:

LE 75 – Stina Sieg

Best,

Jared

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