Tag Archives: literature

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.

Best,
Jared

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. 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 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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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. 64: Cardboard House Press

What Is Downtime?

I took a little break from Limited Engagement. It had to be done. I needed to relax. There’s a lot of work that goes into producing a weekly show, and I’ve gone over all of it before, I’m pretty sure, so I don’t see any need to rehash it here, but it was all becoming really stressful, and I needed to take a little break, to regroup. So what did I do? I created another podcast. Because I apparently don’t know what “downtime” means.

Hoot N Review is a pop culture review pod, which will focus on my views regarding music, film, TV, literature, and really any other medium I feel I might have something to say about. As a lifetime consumer of “stuff,” with a sort of obsessive need to study and explore beyond the surface, this is a passion project, which I hope some other people out there might have an interest in hearing. We have a super-cute logo. You can listen to it by clicking the picture below.

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LE is back, though, and this week’s guests are Maggie Messerschmidt and Giancarlo Huapaya of Cardboard House Press. We’ve been talking about having them on the show since back when we were still doing the monthly live show, and we finally managed to make the calendars align. It was a great conversation—veering into the political at times, but it’s hard not to—and I’m glad we were able to make it happen.

Cardboard House Press is a non-profit publisher bringing powerfully beautiful works of Latin American and Spanish literature to an English-speaking audience that would otherwise have no outlet or exposure—works of great social, cultural and political import in their countries of origin. They recently setup a subscription plan where you can receive forthcoming publications at either a 6 or 9-title level, and you can learn more at cardboardhousepress.org

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 64 – Cardboard House Press

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The Blarg No. 48: Leah Newsom Pt. 2

The screening is over! At last I can put that portion of the Four Chambers Press manuscript submissions process (say that one five time fast) behind me. What makes it to the next round is in the hands of our immensely talented and good looking associate editors. Finishing the passage of judgement on hundreds of manuscripts in the same week where I received a rejection letter for my own was sort of prescient, I thought. As a writer, it’s hard not to feel the sting (or in some cases painful, painful stab) associated with the receipt of a rejection letter, but the perspective I’ve gained as an editor, and certainly through this initial screening process, has made my reaction much more practical—less total devastation, more, “well, fuck, that sucks.” You have to get over it and move on to the next thing.

There are so many variables in the submission process from the publisher’s viewpoint that a writer can only take it so personally. A publisher has limited resources and has to whittle a staggering amount of submissions down to a small number of projects that will be seen through to publication. Perhaps your manuscript had the misfortune of being too similar to the one read before it, or the one that was chosen for publication the previous year (I know that we like to believe our manuscripts are all unique snowflakes, but that just ain’t the case). Perhaps your style didn’t jive with the mood of the reader that day—editors are people, too. Maybe you missed something in the publisher’s submission guidelines and that rubbed the reader the wrong way. Which, taking off my writer cap and replacing it with my editor fedora, can I just say, it’s not that hard people—read the damn guidelines! Yeesh! Anyway, all you can do is keep doing the work, take your lumps, submit to the next publisher. Hell, submit to the same publisher next year—staff turns over, tastes change, etc.

This week’s show is the second half of my conversation with writer, editor, MFA candidate, and all around awesome lady, Leah Newsom. There is a lot of tattoo talk in this half, which I was very interested in, and may have changed my entire attitude on how I approach getting a tattoo. Be sure to check out the literary journal Leah co-founded, Spilled Milk.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 48 – Leah Newsom Pt. 2

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The Blarg No. 46: Ernesto Moncada Pt. 2

I find myself compelled to write about delusions this week. Generally speaking, we delude ourselves all the time. I know that I’ve uttered classics such as, “Everything’s fine,” “No worries,” and “I got this” on countless occasions. You may see a theme there—my self-deluded states tend to center themselves around ignoring, glossing over, or denying the existence of problems. They’re never big problems, because I’m also a realist. If there’s a big problem, I am much more likely to openly admit, “Oh, yeah, things are not cool, I am totally, completely, utterly fucked.” You’ve got to acknowledge the big issues immediately, because they have the tendency (read: absolute certainty) of rolling along and attracting other issues to the point where—to use one of my all-time favorite phrases—everything goes tits up and you find yourself hurtling through the jungle being chased by a huge fucking boulder, carrying a golden idol, and Alfred Molina says he’ll throw you the whip if you throw him the idol, but he’s a lying fuck and leaves you for dead. That is how things look to me right now. The government is both Alfred Molina and the boulder, and the yawning chasm across which we have to jump is highly representative of the one between the president’s ears. Oh, and the poisoned blow darts hurtling our way at high speed are really fucking stupid tweets. So, to answer the question you didn’t ask, yes, the opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark is the perfect analogy for the straits we find ourselves in.

Some delusions probably serve a positive purpose, right? After all, as creative people, we have to shield ourselves with something, or we’d all just give up and go cry ourselves to sleep every night. Confidence, I think, is at least to some degree a delusion. You gotta fake it until you make it. At some point, if you’re lucky, through success—however one wants to measure that—the ratio of earned, experiential confidence to simply talking yourself up in order to put your work out there, or go for that job, or try out for that part, whatever, tips in the former’s favor, and “I got this” ceases being a functional delusion and becomes certainty, and you know which cup is the Grail, you choose wisely, you save Sean Connery and ride off into the sunset with your buddies. I figured I’d round things out with another Indiana Jones reference, and Last Crusade is unarguably the 2nd best film in the franchise.

This week’s show is part deux of my conversation with Ernesto Moncada. I’m sure I said something last week, but I really enjoyed talking to Ernesto, and I’m excited for you to hear the rest of our conversation. There is more on the notion of things lost in translation, we get to hear some about his experience transitioning from the Mexican literary scene to the arts and culture scene here in Phoenix, and much more.

Best,
Jared

Listen to LE 46 – Ernesto Moncada Pt.2

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