Tag Archives: Limited Engagement

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. 74: Carly and Mark of Yab Yum Music and Arts

A couple nights ago, I sat with Janell—you know what, as I’m typing this, I realize that it’s the damn opening to “Simple Twist of Fate”: we “sat together in the park/as the evening sky grew dark.” At this point in history, I’m pretty sure that if people have done it, Bob Dylan’s written it down. And if there’s anything Bob missed, then Leonard Cohen took care of it.

Anyway, the park was the front lawn of Desert Song Yoga, and the occasion was a show featuring Jon Rauhouse and Robin Vining. I was under the impression that I’d never seen Vining play before, but I must have seen him play with Minibosses at some point. I’d never seen him solo or in Sweetbleeders, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve seen Jon play a number of times now, either with Neko Case, The SunPunchers, or as a duo with Betsy Ganz, but not as a bandleader, and it was the highlight of the night. Joining Jon onstage was his wife Jennifer, Megyn Neff, Vining, and a trombone player who I thought was really good, but whose name I didn’t catch. Aside from the fact that the music was fantastic, they looked like they were having such a blast up there playing together and enjoying each other’s company—it was a moving and infectious thing to witness. That’s the kind of joy in work I’m looking for. It’s getting there.

Speaking of…

If you happened be looking at Facebook this weekend, you might have caught the Hoot n Waddle announcement. If not, I’ll recap it briefly in this space. DOGSEAR. by Chris Danowski is HnW’s first book. We just got our proof copies back from the printer, and they look great. It’s all very exciting and real now. We’ll start taking pre-orders in June, and the official release will take place in mid-September. If anyone reading this is interested in reviewing the book for a media outlet, I have a few physical proof copies available, or I can provide a PDF copy. Email me at hootnwaddle@gmail.com.

On this edition of the show, I talk to Carly Schorman and Mark Anderson of Yab Yum Music and Arts. We discuss the origins of Yab Yum, how it’s evolved into an arts and culture beacon for Arizona, and some of the exciting projects they’ve got in the works. We also compare book collections. It was a blast talking to them, and you should definitely check out the happenings at the Yab Yum website and keep up with them on social media.

Listen to LE 74 – Carly and Mark of Yab Yum Music and Arts

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 73: Venita Blackburn

Focus. I can’t do it. My mind is so scattered right now, that it’s becoming a real problem. I’ve got too much going on. As I’m sitting here writing The Blarg, I’m also editing the next episode of Hoot n Review, writing promotional copy for Hoot n Waddle’s first book, doing social media things for the new Chatterpod, and I’m transferring music files from my laptop to this new PC. I need to slow down, but I can’t. I need a break, but there’s not enough time. I’ll have to make the time, or I’ll become even more unbearable to the people around me. It’s no good.

Anyway, in the name of focus, let’s focus on the new Limited Engagement. I got to talk to the wonderful Venita Blackburn, and it was great. Her debut book, Black Jesus and Other Superheroes, is a brilliant collection of character explorations that blew me away, and if you don’t value my opinion, maybe you’ll listen to the selection committee of the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction, because they selected it as a nominee for the 2018 award, and it made really far into the process. Those PEN/Faulkner people know a few things.

I’ve run into Venita a fair amount over the last few years, but this was the first time we’d had any sort of in-depth conversation, and it was great. Turns out we’re both huge nerds. Warning, there’s some Star Trek talk.

Venita will be reading from and signing copies of Black Jesus and Other Superheroes at Changing Hands in Tempe on Thursday, March 22nd at 7 pm. You should go. I can’t go, because I’ll be recording a show at The Nash, but you should definitely go if you can.

If you want to see more me, I’ll be reading at Four Chambers’ In Sight II event on Saturday, March 24th at 4 pm at Megaphone. I’m not sure if there will be any copies of portion of the collection there, because it’s sold out and the reprint may or may not be done in time, but I’ll be reading from it regardless.

Listen to LE 73 – Venita Blackburn

Best,
Jared

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The Blarg No. 72: Mop and Bucket Press

It’s going to be okay. This is what I keep telling myself. Everything will be fine. The muse occasionally finds another partner. I’m in one of those phases. A spiral. It happens. No big deal. Sometimes I get depressed and feel like I’m not capable of anything good. I know that’s not the case, but I can’t escape the feeling. Over the years, I’ve learned to cope with my head problems. I’m not perfect at it by any means, but generally speaking, I can get by well enough by reminding myself this is just a passing thing. I think that all creative types go through this at some point or another—and some more often than most. There is this looming, perpetual fear that you will never create again, that you will never live up to the way others perceive you and you have presented yourself.

This one’s bad, though. At Chatterbox last week, I went up to tell a story that I had down. I knew all the beats, where all the threads tied together. I went up to the mic, started the story, everything felt great, I hit my first beat, and then… I just totally lost it. Thread gone—the whole thing completely unraveled. I’ve been doing this long enough now that it wasn’t enough to send me running from the mic. I rambled my way through for a few minutes, hoping I’d get it back, but it never happened. I just went off on some semi-related political tangent that was absolutely not part of the story I was planning to tell. It was awful.

I don’t know. I’m tired, I’m stressed out, I have a lot of anxiety right now. None of that makes for a healthy creative atmosphere. Whatever. It’s going to be okay.

If you missed it, there was an announcement. Hoot n Waddle, which is the company Janell and I started that has found its purpose as a hub for arts and culture podcasts based in Phoenix, is also taking on publishing. It’s big stuff, and if you want to know more about what’s going on, you should check out the Hoot n Waddle website and follow our social media accounts.

On this edition of the show, I talk to Levi Smith and Kenny Puckett who are the creative team behind the comic Sleight of Mind and Mop and Bucket Press. It’s a great conversation about enduring friendship and creative synergy, as well as not giving up on your dreams and passions. That sounds corny, but it’s not. Levi and Kenny are great guys, and their comic is really cool, so you should check out their site, follow them on social media, and check out their merch.

Listen to LE 72 – Mop and Bucket Press

Best,
Jared

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