Tag Archives: books

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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LE 85: Steve Ciolek of The Sidekicks

Well, I took full advantage of the Labor Day weekend—to the point where I actually missed my self-imposed Monday morning deadline. It’s bound to happen from time to time. Once in three years ain’t bad.

In the little bit of time I carve out for myself to read something that isn’t a Hoot n Waddle manuscript submission, I have finally gotten around to reading Bruce Springsteen’s memoir, Born to Run. I’ve had a copy sitting around for a couple of years now, but I kept putting off reading it—likely out of fear that I’d be disappointed. That could still happen, but I’m enjoying it so far. However, I can’t help but compare it to Elvis Costello’s memoir, which came out the same year, and I think that Costello’s has more elegant prose, but Springsteen’s is like his songs—relatively plain spoken, containing flashes of profound insight into the human condition, and a rough yet poignant and pointed working class poetic. Which is why I could not be more upset that he devotes only three measly pages to Nebraska. He spends more time talking about the red light district on a tour stop in Germany in 1980 than he does discussing any of the songs on one of my favorite albums of all time. There’s no question that Nebraska changed my life, so it’d be nice if it got a little more than what amounts to a, Yeah, I recorded it on four track Tascam, it was kind of a game changer for me in my songwriting, but whatevs—now on to Born in the USA, the moneymaker!

Anyway, there’s a lot going on right now, so I’m just going to run down the list real quick:

Wednesday, I’ll be down at Fair Trade Cafe recording the one year anniversary edition of Chatterbox for later posting as a Chatterpod, and I’ll be telling a story, too (details here). You can pick up a copy by going to our Square shop. You can also now pre-order our 2nd book, Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird by David Chorlton.

This Friday, I’ll be down reading on Roosevelt Row for the launch of the new Rinky Dink series (details here).

Then, September 15th is the big launch of Hoot n Waddle’s first book, Chris Danowski’s DOGSEAR (details here). If you’re in Phoenix on that date, and you can make it, that would be amazing.

I’ll be co-hosting two new podcasts that’ll be available soon. The first up is called What the Fork?: Exploring The Good Place (Unofficially), which I’m doing with my friend and prior Limited Engagement guest, Jason Keil. Next is an artist catalog discussion called Album Infinitum, and that will feature myself and a number of guests going through an artist’s discography one album at a time. I don’t have start dates yet for either show, but they’ll both be up by the end of the year, with What the Fork? likely premiering before The Good Place season three premier.

Lastly, there’s another podcast, but it’s Patreon-only podcast. It’s called Apocalyptic Popsicle, and it’s a straightforward review show. Sometimes it’ll be me solo, and sometimes, when I’m lucky, it’ll have my partner in life and Hoot n Waddle, Janell. The podcast will be available to any patron who supports Hoot n Waddle with a donation of $5 or more per month, which you can do by going here. We’ll have the first episode up no later than the end of this month.

On the latest episode of LE, I talk to Steve Ciolek, frontman of The Sidekicks, about touring, songwriting, recording with storied producer John Agnello, working with an artist-centric record label, and much more. The Sidekicks’ new album, Happiness Hours, is available now from Epitaph, and you can catch them live on their fall tour, which kicks off on 9/13, and includes a stop in Phoenix at The Rebel Lounge on 9/26.

As always, you can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, our website, and a number of other podcast sites as well.

I think that’s plenty for now.

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 52: Chicago Edition

As I’m sitting here, writing this week’s blarg, it is our fifth and final day in Chicago. If you factor in Thursday being our arrival/getting settled in day, Sunday being taken up by wedding—which was the whole reason we flew out, and it was a lovely wedding—and today being the pack things up and leave day, we had roughly two days to explore the downtown area. I have the same feelings about Chicago that I do with any other city I’ve visited, which are that I could live here for years and never really know the city, that I feel most at home in a city, and that I really, really hate driving in the city. Driving is great in the suburbs and more open, rural areas, where there is space, long stretches of scenic viewing, and most importantly, more room between vehicles. Driving in the city is stressful, and I much prefer walking and utilizing public transit, because really, in a well-planned city, you almost don’t need a car. Which is why I would say Los Angeles is not well-planned at all. As the great poet laureate of the endearingly cranky once sang, “I love L.A.,” but I’m pretty sure that it was designed by someone who wondered what it would be like if all of the layers of layer were presented in pancake form.

Chicago has some wonderful, iconic cultural attractions, that I highly recommend you check out when you visit the city, and I hope to visit them as well the next time we come out. What I was more interested in, though, was book and record stores, so if you’re interested in hearing about those, then this week’s show is made for you. Janell’s family is here in Chicago, so the likelihood is that we’ll be back, and I’ll have the opportunity to do more exploring, but there is also an equal likelihood that I will continue to seek out the record stores that I didn’t get to on this trip. I’m a man with a mission, you see—I’ve been looking for a vinyl edition of Frank, my favorite Squeeze album, for quite a number of years now, and this search dominates every excursion we make outside of the Phoenix area. An obsession? Yes. An unhealthy one? That’s debatable. You live your life, I’ll live mine. We did go to a jazz festival, and that was interesting…

This week’s show was meant to be recorded entirely in Chicago, but I had difficulty finding circumstances under which I could record and not look like a crazy person, so some of it is recorded in Chicago, and some of it will be recorded when we get back into Phoenix, and the whole thing is going up a day late, because, well, we’ll say it’s due to the Labor Day holiday. Look for it to be posted late Monday or sometime on Tuesday.

LE 52 contains some thoughts on the institution of marriage and weddings themselves; reviews of the record and bookstores we went to; talk of breakfast food, a particularly delicious cookie sandwich, and our lack of culinary adventurousness; reflections on Chicago; and an explanation of how the unifying thread of this entire trip was the Tom Waits song “Better Off Without a Wife.” If this sort of stream of consciousness thing appeals to you, then this week’s show is so far up your alley, it’s tickling your tonsils.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 52 – Chicago Edition

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