Tag Archives: education

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.


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. 51: Kids Need to Read

Let’s be perfectly frank here, folks, if you’re a rational, thoughtful, compassionate, pragmatic person, then these are enormously stressful times. We’re currently dealing with fascism, climate change denial, racism, bigotry, random social media tantrums, narcissism—all of which only scratches the surface, and that’s just one douchebag. We’re dealing with a whole hotbed of scary, scary shit right now. Every hateful worm in the United States feels emboldened by the current sociopolitical climate to slither their way out of whatever muck they’ve been hiding in to spew their vitriolic bile in the path of any progressive ideology and—

Where was I? Ah, yes, stress. There is no end of it, and this week’s blarg is about that. It’s really not healthy to be in such a constant state of agitation, but there seems no other state to be in when, as soon as you read a newspaper, turn on NPR, or even scroll through your Facebook and Twitter feeds, you get sucked right back into how awful everything is right now. And it’s not just awful, it’s unbelievably awful. How did we get to this point? Dark forces seem hellbent on driving us back into the dark ages as quickly as policy reversals, pardons, and executive orders will allow.

There are certain go-to things for me in times of stress. The healthiest and longest-lasting of these coping mechanisms is music. Playing guitar is a great way to take your mind off of a horrific future and ground you in the present, ground you in melody. It is for me anyway. Listening to music, though, is the primary de-stresser. It can’t be just anything, however, it’s got to be something I know, something I can sing along to, or connect with a time of peace, joy, familiar melancholy. This is typically not a time to listen to or discover anything new, because that process of discovery will be tainted by the climate in which it is discovered. Which is a shame, because there are albums I’ve been looking forward to. We were in Zia the other day, and I picked up the new offerings from Randy Newman, Nicole Atkins, Paul Kelly, Queens of the Stone Age, and I decided this is as good a time as any to try and wrap my head around Captain Beefheart, so I picked up Safe as Milk, but when we got back in the car, all I wanted to do was listen to Neil Finn. Last week, all I listened to was Squeeze. Also, I find I’ve been listening to a ton of Wilco, Springsteen, and Elvis Costello lately. These are like comfort foods for my ears. I’ll come at the new albums eventually, when I’m able to isolate them from their surroundings. Maybe that sounds like a bunch of mystical bullshit, but you can deal with things how you want, and I’ll do my thing.

This week’s show is the second in an ongoing series of conversations with non-profit arts and culture organizations based here in the valley. Kids Need to Read “works to create a culture of reading for children by providing inspiring books to underfunded schools, libraries, and literacy programs across the United States, especially those serving disadvantaged children.” Representing the organization in this conversation are Founder and Executive Director, Denise Gary and Operations Director, Lori Cothrun. Visit the Kids Need to Read website to learn even more about the organization and how you can support their mission.

Listen to LE 51 – Kids Need to Read

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The Blarg No. 49: Sophie Etchart of Read Better Be Better

It may come as a bit of a shock to some people, but there was a time…when I loved sports. (Leave pause for gasps or expressions of disbelief, and…) That’s right, as a child growing up in the 80’s in Southern California, we had no good football team, so it was 49ers all the way; basketball was a no-brainer due to the Lakers and them having one of the greatest teams of all time and whatnot; as for baseball, that was another easy choice: one need look no further than the Ang—I’m sorry, I can’t even finish that joke in the name of humor or narrative misdirection by saying the Angels. I was a Dodgers fan. When they won the World Series in October of 1988, I was just shy of six years old, and they had Orel Hershiser, whom I would argue has the most interesting name in baseball of all time.

I was more than just a casual fan, though, I was into the whole thing—I watched games on TV, listened to Vin Scully call them on the radio, I would grab the sports section out of the newspaper and read all the stats, I collected baseball cards. For a little while, I even wanted to be a professional baseball player. That phase didn’t last very long. I had asthma for one, and I’m probably actually more athletic now than I ever was as a kid for another.

It wasn’t long before I moved on to other passions—I think my interests in music, film, and literature took over and collectively shoved sports out of the way, but I still love going to see a baseball game. The other night, Janell and I got to go see the Cubs/Diamondbacks game, and I could feel the same level of excitement I had when I was five years old. There are just some things that take you right back—powerful enough to be an almost physical transformation. A baseball game, Back to the Future, Return of the Jedi, Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” an episode of The A-Team, and boom—it’s like I’m wearing acid-washed jeans all over again, three decades virtually fall away.

This week on the show, I talk to Sophie Etchart, founder of Read Better Be Better, an organization committed to improving reading proficiency in 3rd graders. It was an amazingly insightful conversation, and the way RBBB trains and empowers 8th graders to work with 3rd graders to improve their skills is one of the most moving stories I’ve ever heard. Listen to the show, and then go learn what you can do to support RBBB’s mission.

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