Tag Archives: creative writing

The Blarg No. 96: Annual Check-In with RD

You may notice that there was no Blarg 95. I’d started writing one. I don’t even remember what I was writing. It couldn’t have been that important. I was either recording or editing podcasts up until midnight, and I was just done. And that sort of continues to be the case.

I’m sure I’ve brought this up on multiple occasions, but I’m going to do it again, because it’s my Blarg, and I can complain if I want to. I am one half of the team that runs Hoot n Waddle. HnW, as our snazzy new banner says, is “An Independent Publishing and Digital Media Company,” and under that, I currently produce, record, and edit 6 podcasts (2 are in I guess what you would call pre-production), plus host or co-host 4 of them, and then I have to book guests on two of those; on the publishing side, there’s reading submissions, agonizing over selecting work to send acceptance letters, the demoralizing task of sending rejection letters, then there’s the editing, working with the writers…there’s a lot of stuff.

All of the above, plus the stress of the M-F, 9 to 5 (or 6-3 in my case), has led to a retreat to an unhealthy vice as a coping mechanism. Drinking is pretty much the only vice I have left—that and binge eating—and it’s getting to an unhealthy level. I was looking at the podcasts I’ve recorded over the past couple of weeks, and it occurred to me that I was drunk during the recording of every single one of them. If I didn’t say anything, you might not even notice (except for one of them, but I’ll let you figure out which one), but I know it, and it’s not something I’m proud of.

Consequently, I’m taking a little break. You’ve got this episode, the annual check-in with Rosemarie Dombrowski, then there’ll be next week’s episode, the annual music best of, which will be with Ashley Naftule this year (the RD and the music episodes are pretty much the only annual traditions we have), and that’ll be it for a little while. As I typed that I just realized that I may have one more time-sensitive one on the horizon… Other than that, though, I need to recharge, figure some things out, bank some interviews, and most importantly, find some new coping mechanisms that won’t kill my liver.

And having said all that, it’s not like you won’t hear a lot from me anyway—Jason and I are taking a short break between seasons of What the Fork?, but we’re going to do two special episodes in January; Jenna and I will still do a Hoot n Review every other week (though there may be a short break there as well); and then there’s the new podcast, Album Infinitum, which I’ll be prepping over the holidays for launch at the start of 2019. Trust me, there will be plenty of me out there for you to fill your head with. Probably too much.

Rosemarie Dombrowski is a professor at ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus, the inaugural Phoenix Poet Laureate, the founder of Rinky Dink Press, the author of three collections of poetry, and she would not be terribly happy if I continued to go on and on about all her awards, etc., it’s one of the things she talks about on this episode—along with so much more. So. Much. More. And that’s after I cut a chunk out.

It’s a lovely, fun conversation, and I’m so happy it’s on record.

Listen to LE 96 – Annual Check-In with Rosemarie Dombrowski:
(Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Website)

Best,

Jared

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The Blarg No. 93: LIVE with Andrea Scarpino and Matt Bell

The holidays are a problematic time of year for me, or at least they have been historically. The fact that my birthday is December 22nd didn’t help much, nor did a dysfunctional family life, or working in retail for more than 15 years. The season has pretty much been ruined for me—at least from a traditional consumerist and familial standpoint. The season and weather on their own comprise my favorite time of year. One of the perks of living in Arizona, I suppose.

Not working in a retail setting any longer, I actually manage to get Thanksgiving weekend off. It’s been great. I probably should have been doing a lot more work, but I needed a break. I edited and put up this episode of Limited Engagement, put up the new What the Fork?, but that’s pretty much it. There are manuscripts to be read, I’ve got a number of new podcasts to edit—it’ll all wait. I’ve decided instead to start watching James Bond from the beginning. As I’m writing this, I’m also watching Dr. No. I’ve seen almost all of the James Bond films, but it’s been quite some time for most of them, and there are a couple of the Daniel Craig films that I’ve never seen. This renewed interest, I have to say, was spurned on by discovering and listening to the James Bonding podcast with Matts Gourley and Mira.

There’s a lot of peril in revisiting something like this, because of the racism, sexism, and so forth. There are some properties best left in the past, but I couldn’t resist. Dr. No is exactly as awful and simultaneously wonderful as I could have hoped for. There has got to be some sort of allowance for the magic and power of classic cinema, or what have we got left? Nothing is perfect, it’s never going to be, and if I can’t enjoy an old film despite all of its inherent social flaws, what’s the point? Of anything? We can’t go back and fix everything, because that’s not progress. James Bond is a racist, sexist, bigoted, terrible human being. I’m still going to enjoy the films. I’m a pacifist, but I love a good war epic. I don’t think our entertainment necessarily has to reflect our values. Especially when it’s 50 years old.

I don’t know exactly where I’m going with that, and I’m going to go ahead and bypass the soapbox rather than stand on it.

Longtime listeners to the podcast will know that it’s been well over a year since I’ve done a live edition of Limited Engagement. There are a number of reasons for this, most of which I’ve already discussed at length, so I don’t see the point in going over them again. Having gone so long without doing one, though, I was more than a little bit apprehensive. With how stressed and anxious I’ve been lately, I had some serious doubts as to whether I’d have my mojo working. It seems like everything went okay. I apparently now have some sort of “podcast host brain” that kicks in as soon as the recording starts. The questions and conversation just flow. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. You as the listener will be the final judge.

Regardless of where you come down on the quality of my abilities as a host, there’s no arguing that Andrea Scarpino and Matt Bell are fantastic guests. This is another one of those indispensable craft talks for anyone looking to grow and learn as a writer. Andrea’s latest collection, Once Upon Wing Lake, has just been republished by Hoot n Waddle, so you can get that through our shop or locally through Changing Hands bookstores, and Matt’s latest, A Tree or a Person or a Wall, is available wherever books are sold. Matt and Andrea are both wonderful writers, and I cannot recommend their work highly enough.

I’d just like to round back to the holidays quickly before I wrap this up. They can often be extraordinarily stressful and depressing, and should you find yourself in a position where you need to reach out, I’d like to make myself available. If you write to ltd.engagement@gmail.com, I will respond to you and attempt to be useful to you in whatever way I can–even if that is simply being a sympathetic ear.

Cheers and best wishes to you,

Jared

Listen to LE 93 – LIVE with Andrea Scarpino and Matt Bell

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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. 66: Rosemarie Dombrowski

Get your kicks on The Blarg 66? (Sorry)

If anything can be said to be the modus operandi of 2017, it’s one step up, 2000 steps back; a minor victory followed by countless setbacks; a brief moment of surfacing for air, then right back under water. You get the idea. After a massive effort to keep a pedophile out of congress—a victory so narrow as to not avoid contention or dispute—that same congress voted to end net neutrality, and they’re currently working overtime to push through the most blatantly anti-constituency tax plan ever. To say that the battle is uphill is an understatement of massive proportions. At this point, there is such a disconnect between the government and the people that democracy is flat-out broken, and any meaningful change would take a complete reset—one that could be achieved through votes, but that would first involve a shift in philosophy for the majority of people—a need to make informed, moral, rational, open-minded decisions rather than knee-jerk choices made out of fear and anger.

Barring that, though, here’s an idea: just bench men. The entire gender. There are always exceptions, and I like to think I’m one of them, but another theme of 2017 (and I know it’s not any sort of revelation, believe me) is the inability of men to consider anything beyond the immediate satisfaction of their erection. That can be most obviously seen in sexual misconduct, but it should be pretty obvious that this is likewise the case with all the money boners out there. “You’re giving me how much money? You need me to vote in favor of what? No problem! It’ll screw over which people? The ones who voted for me? Fuck ’em.” So, yes, I’m proposing we take men out of the equation altogether. Who knows, maybe women won’t do any better, maybe they’re equally as corrupt, but I think it’s worth a shot, and my main point is that things are so deeply messed up right now that we’ve got to do something big, drastic, and sweeping in order to progress and break out of this system which is currently hellbent on not only maintaining an arcane, outdated ideology, but dragging us further back into the depths.

One more thing before I put the soapbox away: I am so very, very tired of the standard “man versus Man” defense. Can we just throw that one out? Feeling the need to distinguish yourself as a proper example of the gender doesn’t make you any better, because that is still, in some way, arguing for the superiority of the gender. What really distances you? Being a decent person, that’s what does it. It seems like gender—especially as identity becomes increasingly fluid—needs to move back into the realm of scientific over social function. There are few ideas more exciting than the one that we are the manifestations of our complicated, chemical neural makeup, and not defined by something as simple and arbitrary as the stuff between our legs.

This all has very little to do with my conversation with Rosemarie Dombrowski. Other than the fact that we do spend a fair amount of time discussing the role of art in times of social unrest, turmoil, etc. We also discuss what it means to be the poet laureate of Phoenix, the difference between being a community poet and a feature, and the life-cycle of writing from inception to publication. This also marks Rosemarie’s 3rd appearance on the show (first solo appearance) during December, thus keeping the tradition alive!

Rosemarie Dombrowski is a Senior Lecturer at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus where she is the co-founder and faculty editor of the student and community writing journal, Write On, Downtown, and where she teaches courses on the poetics of street art, women’s literature, and creative ethnography. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (Five Oaks Press, 2014), which was the recipient of a 2016 Human Relations Indie Book Award for Poetry, The Philosophy of Unclean Things (Finishing Line Press, 2017), and the forthcoming The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She is also the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founder of merge poetry journal (2005-11) and rinky dink press, an editor for Four Chambers journal and press, and the co-founder and host of the Phoenix Poetry Series, now in its tenth year.

Listen to LE 66 – Rosemarie Dombrowski

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