Tag Archives: Limited Engagement

The Blarg Nos. 101 – 109: L. S. Larson

Hey Folks,

It’s been a while. A lot has happened since the last edition of The Blarg, way too much to catch up on. If you’ve been listening to the show (and really, I have no idea why you’d read this and NOT listen to the show), then you know that, while Hoot n Waddle continues unabated, Janell and I have decided to split up. More accurately, Janell decided we should split up. I’ve had a couple of months to come to grips with this, and while I’m not there yet, I’m not going to get into all of that here. I’ve got a new place, I’m starting to look forward to being on my own for the first time in a while, and I’ve got SuSu, so there’s that (see the Ltd Instagram account for a lot of SuSu). There’s a lot going on, so I don’t have time to dwell, and that’s probably for the best.

San Francisco and Portland were great. It was nice to get out of Phoenix for a little bit and put HnW out in front of new audiences. The event for Ron Riekki’s Posttraumatic at Bird and Beckett went really well; I got to catch up with my friend, the poet and lyricist Kurt Lipschutz; and I’ve got the bonus of being able to say that HnW has books available in San Francisco. Portland was a blast—I loved being there, and can’t wait to go back. We made a lot of good connections at AWP, met several of our authors for the first time, and left feeling like we’re making good choices and moving in the right direction. Next year, San Antonio!

Things continue to be extraordinarily busy, and they’re only going to continue to ramp up which is why I haven’t done The Blarg in a while, so why, you may be asking, am I doing this one?

The answer to that is this week’s guest, L. S. Larson and the launch of the new immersive science fiction adventure novel for young readers, IGIST. L. S. is the pen name of Luke Larson, the president of a little company called Axon. While the novel is the central, driving force behind everything else surrounding it, there’s such an integral visual component that I decided to use The Blarg to give people a little glimpse into that aspect of things (see below). What I’m saying is, this shit’s pretty cool.

I get emails fairly regularly these days from people asking if I’d be interested in talking to them about their latest project, which is fantastic—it takes care of the worst part of booking guests: outreach. So when I got this email from L. S. Larson describing IGIST, asking if I’d want to talk about it on the podcast, I checked it out, thought it was a cool concept, and replied, Sure, let’s do it. The thing was that they wanted to do it in time to post prior to a launch event at the Arizona Science Center on 4/20, which meant that we had to do it that week, and I only had a couple of dates available. One of these dates was the same night as Axon HQ’s open house. As you know, I’m not one to research a guest outside of their project, because I prefer to learn about them in person—too much research makes the conversation stiff, and I’m really interested in the work and the creative process, so I had assumed that Axon was just IGIST’s parent company and they were welcoming people to check out their stuff. It certainly seemed like a company that would have that sort of thing, so imagine my surprise when I arrived at the address and saw the name on the building and connected the dots. (It’s a really cool building with interior components inspired by scenes out of classic sci-fi films.)

Now, if you’re not familiar with the name Axon, you’re probably familiar with Taser, which is the company’s flagship product, and what they used to be called just a few years ago. I’m a skeptic at heart, so when I walked in and met L. S./Luke and learned that he was the president of the company some alarm bells went off and I wished for the first time in four years that I’d done more research. Whenever a corporation is involved, I immediately start looking for what the angle is and get concerned that I’m being played, but I took the tour and I listened to the presentation, and I started to relax.

Yes, Axon is a publicly traded corporation, but their mission is one that I wholeheartedly support: to, in their words, “obsolete the bullet,” to provide the means of accountability and transparency in law enforcement, and non-lethal alternatives to deescalate a situation. As a pacifist and staunch anti-gun proponent, I’m on board.

After the open house, Luke and I went into one of the conference rooms and did the recording, and that’s when whatever reservations and skepticism I had vanished. IGIST is a passion project, a labor of love—a love of science fiction, a passion for writing, but more importantly, love for his three daughters and a desire to contribute positively to the anti-patriarchal movement. It’s all there in the conversation, and you can hear it for yourself. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also an unabashed sci-fi geek and Luke seems like the kind of guy I could just hang out with and shoot the shit.

So listen to the episode (available wherever you get your pods—please rate/review while you’re at it) and check out IGIST (see the book trailer and some examples of the artwork below). As I mentioned, there’s a launch event coming up at the Arizona Science Center on 4/20, it’s free to attend, and it’s a fun thing to do with the kids on a Saturday afternoon.

Best,

Jared Duran

Listen to LE 109 – L.S. Larson

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The Blarg No. 100: Nels Cline

Limited Engagement started in May of 2015 with an interview and reading with Bill Campana in Cynthia Black’s store, C-Mod (an episode that, along with the rest of the Ltd archive, you will soon be able to hear as a Patreon exclusive). In the nearly 4 years since that first show, Ltd has evolved from a monthly live show where I had no idea what I was doing into a nearly weekly show where I have a much better idea of what I’m doing (though, as far as the conversations go, I’m still winging it), I have a whole professional-ish setup, and I get to talk to people like today’s guest, Nels Cline.

Why am I doing some stock taking and reflection? Because it’s the 100th episode! 100!

When I started this show, I never thought it would have the legs it does. I always assumed that nobody would be interested, that no one would attend the live shows, that the whole thing would be over in a few months. I certainly didn’t think that I’d still be doing this show nearly four years later, having done 100 episodes, having once been named best podcast by PHOENIX Magazine and twice named Best Cultural Podcast by The New Times, and I really never thought I would sit for an hour and a half and record a conversation with one of my favorite guitarists from one of my favorite bands of all time.

Doing Limited Engagement has been one of the wildest things I’ve ever done, and it’s taken me on a journey down a road I never thought I’d travel (apologies for the cliche, but it works here). I am well beyond grateful to everyone who has ever listened to the show, recommended it to a friend, or reached out to me through social media because of an episode they heard or, and this was the real shocker, they connected with something I said in one of my rambling intros, where I’m way more candid than anywhere else in my life. I don’t take any of it for granted.

There’s a lot on tap this year for Limited Engagement that I’m really excited about, so stick around, subscribe if you haven’t, keep recommending the show to friends, family, acquaintances…if your pets listen to podcasts, recommend it to them (Gizmo and SuSu make frequent appearances).

As I mentioned up at the top, my guest for this week’s episode is the absolutely brilliant and incomparable Nels Cline. Nels is perhaps best known as a member of Wilco for the past 15 years but beyond that, he’s a legendary guitarist who flows effortlessly between rock and jazz and every degree across the spectrum. He’s played with Mike Watt, The Geraldine Fibbers, Thurston Moore, Yuka Honda, Julian Lage, and so many more. His latest album, released on Blue Note under The Nels Cline 4, is Currents, Constellations, and it’s freaking amazing. The Nels Cline 4 are currently on a western U.S. tour, and if you have the opportunity to see them, you absolutely should.

Listen to LE 100 – Nels Cline

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 99: Allyson Bills

Something that I’ve talked a lot about on various podcasts lately, is social consciousness. How can that not be at the forefront of anyone who is maintaining even a cursory awareness of the news? My concern, though, comes less with the public social consciousness than my own. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that, as an empathetic species, humans are broken and failed as a whole. There are pockets and exceptions, but generally speaking, people are pretty awful to each other. The notion of making strides to improve inclusivity in society as a whole is far too daunting, and seems impossible if we don’t first look at ourselves and resolve our own personal issues, biases, and subconscious (or conscious) prejudices. The point has been painfully driven home for me lately that I have to fix myself before I can even begin to look at anyone else.

With that in mind, I braved the First Friday crowd on Roosevelt row and went to check out the iNDIEFILMFEST. Specifically, I went over to FilmBar to see Pita Juarez and Matty Steinkamp’s documentary, You Racist, Sexist, Bigot. A film to raise consciousness, it says, and I think it does that successfully. It doesn’t seek to provide any answers, but rather allow people to share their stories, their experiences, to serve as a conversation starter, and cause the viewer to reflect inwardly—at least that’s my impression. Anyway, I thought the film was great, and you should check it out. Google “You Racist, Sexist, Bigot.” It’s the first thing that comes up. It’s making the festival circuit and playing in colleges around the country, so if you’re listening outside of Phoenix, it might be headed your way.

My guest on the show this week is Allyson Bills. Allyson is a writer for YabYum Music + Arts, where you can read her column, Social Savvy, which is all about how creatives in the arts community navigate the mess that is social media in order to promote their work. Allyson is also the co-creator of the Scooter Litter Instagram account documenting the scooters left around all over the place by various jerks.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 99 – Allyson Bills

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The Blarg No. 98: iNDIEFILMFEST

We’re back! After a sorely needed hiatus, all the rambling intros and tangential, unplanned conversations are once again in the offing for your listening pleasure. As of writing this Blarg, I’m scheduling things in a somewhat manageable way, I haven’t had a drink in a month, and I’m in therapy. I’m finally making choices to take better care of myself, and not beat myself up so much. It only took 36 years. Better late than never? Sometimes I don’t know.

It would be a lie, though, if I said that it were easy getting back into this. This, The Blarg specifically. In all the effort to make the workload more manageable, my head is still not clear enough to write productively. Hell, other than The Blarg and the weekly Hoot n Waddle newsletter, which if you’re not subscribed to, please subscribe, I’ve hardly written anything at all in the last year. For a writer, that’s absolutely devastating. Podcasting is great, I love it. I love working in editing and publishing. I love writing music for the podcasts and exercising that muscle. What I am, though, first and foremost, is a writer. A writer who isn’t writing. I hope all this work unblocks something soon.

I am optimistic, though. We have five unique podcast titles with more on the way (and more that I will not be hosting, which is awesome). We have some really wonderful books coming out this year. We’ll be at ASU’s Desert Nights, Rising Stars conference and AWP in Portland. This show is planned for 40 new episodes (the most I’ve done of any one show in a year), and we’ve got a brand new sponsor (Chris Ayers Creative). Our Patreon is up and running, and sure we could use more patrons, but that will happen. I’m clinging to optimism like that round thing that keeps you afloat out on the ocean where it seems incredibly unlikely that anyone will ever find or rescue you. Sigh.

Anyway, I’m happy to be back, and I’m happy to be starting the year off with this particular conversation. The iNDIEFILMFEST takes place in Downtown Phoenix at three locations (Paz Cantina, FilmBar, and The Crescent Ballroom) on February 1st and 2nd.

Sitting down to talk with me about the inaugural iNDIEFILMFEST is one of the event’s co-directors, Lord Kash, who is also a member of local hip-hop outfit, The Stakes. We had a really great conversation, and he will be back later in the year to discuss his music.

Happy New Year Everyone!
Jared

Listen to LE 98: iNDIEFILMFEST

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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. 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. 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. 87: Morgxn

Full disclosure, I’m writing this on a rainy Sunday night, watching Battlestar Galactica, so if things get dark, well…

Anyway, the annual “Best of Phoenix” edition of The New Times came out this past week, and Limited Engagement was again named Best Cultural Podcast. It’s the second year in a row, and it’s really fantastic. It’s great promotion, it’s great validation from peers in the community, and it means we’re doing something right. If anyone recalls reading my musings on this last year, however, I couldn’t just accept the positivity of the award, or accept that this was, well, a form of acceptance. I’ve been out on the fringes for so long that, to borrow from Groucho Marx, I wouldn’t want to be in a club that would have me as a member.

I was talking to the creator of Tapestry Comics, Tyler Button, for an upcoming edition of LE, and the phrase “impostor syndrome” came up in discussion. I think this is something I’ve suffered from for a long time. I’ve been knocking at the door of the artistic establishment for so long that when the door is opened, I hesitate to go in. I’m doing nothing but work I’m proud of, but if anyone else recognizes it as something with merit, my initial impulse is to disbelieve them. It’s impossible for me to feel that I belong. Maybe that’s good. Maybe that serves to forestall complacency and foster continued grown and experimentation. It’s sure as shit fucking exhausting, though.

I’m working on just taking the praise, affirmation, awards, what have you, at face value. It’s a long road. In all seriousness, though, an immense thank you to the staff of The New Times.

A piece of business I want to get out of the way: on the last LE, I mentioned that we’d changed hosting providers for all Hoot n Waddle podcasts. It saved us a little bit of money, and it allowed me to do what I’ve been wanting to for a while, which is manage all of our podcasts under one account. Simultaneously, we’ve begun in earnest to promote our Patreon account as a way to support Hoot n Waddle in the long term. We have a lot of expenses related to both the podcasts and our publishing endeavors, and the monthly support model is something that will help us out immensely. Since these two things coincided, and I needed to change out all of the files on our website, I made the decision to make the first year of LE available to Patreon supporters only. At this point, that’s only 11 of the now 87 episodes of the podcast (it would be 12 if it weren’t for the infamous “Lost Episode”), and I honestly think that’s fair. What this means is that, going forward, episodes will be available for two years prior to being available only for patrons at the $5/month level. These episodes are no longer available on the website, and over the next month, they will be removed from podcast providers as well. If you would like to voice a dissenting opinion, you’re welcome to do so by email or social media.

On this edition of Limited Engagement, musician and songwriter Morgxn discusses redefining masculinity, starting out in Nashville, the influence the loss of his father had over the making of his new album, Vital, and how he came to record a cover of The Cure classic, “Boys Don’t Cry”

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 87 – Morgxn

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LE 86: Matthew Slusser

Freaking the fuck out.

Guys, what do you do? I realize that’s an odd start out of the gate with no context, but right now, I feel like an odd start out of the gate with no context. What am I talking about? I don’t even really know.

If you’ve been following along on this journey—fuck that. I hate things being described as journeys, but I also equally hate people describing something as a path or a road, because beyond being cliche, it all sounds so planned and linear. Life is nothing if not not linear. I mean, sure, time moves in one direction—forward, but the distance traveled between A and B is never a straightforward thing. At least not in my experience. A is the starting point and B is the end point, but from A there is often a misstep backwards into a steaming shit-pile of Z, then rolling down a steep embankment through thistles to come to a dazed and moaning stop in F, then at last certain you’ve found a shortcut to B but winding up stuck for ten years in H… you get the idea.

I don’t like roller coasters—never have—but it feels like I got on one a few years ago that’s been on a steady climb ever since, and now I’m just kind of trying not to look for the crest and inevitable free fall. It can’t be far off. Except that it can be, and it might never be this terrifying drop I’m anticipating—maybe things will just level off, even out, and everything will be great. That’s not the way I function, though. I wish it were, but it’s not. I don’t have that practiced, self-assured way of thinking. As soon as things start to go well, I go straight to disaster prep mode. I guess you could say I’m a negativity prepper.

So back to the opening question, what do you do? How do you cope? How do you keep yourself from spiraling into an overwhelming pit of depression and anxiety that is not only self-destructive, but makes you difficult for other people to deal with as well?

As I write this, we, Janell and I, are just two days out from the launch party for our first book from Hoot n Waddle, Chris Danowski’s DOGSEAR. I should be filled with joy and a sense of accomplishment—this is exactly the kind of thing that I wanted to be doing with my life—but all I can do is focus on the “what if.” What if no one shows up? What if no one buys the book? What if I just fuck the whole thing up in some grand and fiery way?

I’ve begun having panic attacks. That’s new. I’ve always had problems with anxiety, but it was all in my head. Now, there are these physical manifestations. My breathing gets sharp and shallow, I get a little light headed, I begin to feel like I need to scream, but can’t. I’m sort of going through a little of that now. I need to get grounded and enjoy all of this in the moment—we’re publishing a fucking book! That’s freaking amazing! I don’t know how to be happy about it, though.

The launch is this Saturday. I’m writing this Thursday night so that I don’t have to stress about writing The Blarg and posting the new Limited Engagement and updating all the various things that need to be updated on top of the launch. I guess you’ll have to wait to hear about how I handled the launch and everything after until the next Blarg.

On this edition of Limited Engagement, Matthew Slusser discusses podcasting, Henry Rollins, the end of his band Phantom Party, and much more. Be sure to check out his podcast, Getting Stoked.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 86 – Matthew Slusser

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