Tag Archives: media

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. 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. 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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I Liked it Better When Blood Spatters Were Red Pixels…

I must be one of the worst bloggers in the entire history of blog-dom.  My last log blog was posted over a year ago–it was all about how I was going to take advantage of the memoir-hoovering portion of the book-buying/publishing world.  I’ll give you all a chance to guess exactly what my word count is on that much ballyhooed endeavor.  Ah, you give me far too much credit.  Nope, you’re completely wrong.  Actual word count to-date: ZERO (I find that if you actually spell out the number and capitalize every single letter, it looks far more impressive than the abysmal state it truly signifies).  Now, it’s not that I have been resting on my laurels this whole time.  In fact, I’ve been very feverishly dashing off poems left and right and been integrating myself into the very welcoming Phoenix poetry scene.  Hell, I’ve even been a featured poet at some events, and there is more of this to come.

However, this does not excuse my lack of blog-iness in this very cutthroat, blog-eat-blog world.  Well then, all five of you lovely people who will read this post must be asking, what gives? What’s the excuse, Grumpmaster Flash?

Truth be told, there is no excuse other than the rather lame one that I give for why I don’t do just about anything that I end up not doing:  Life.  Life, says Marvin, don’t talk to me about life.  So I won’t.  If I’d wanted to, I could have made time for some pretty blog-tastic entries, but I didn’t.  Now, as the Germans said, on to bigger and better things…

Advancements in technology and I have never been more than cautious admirers.  When I was growing up, there was none of this MySpace, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Spotify what have you.  Not everyone I knew owned a computer, and nearly no one had a cell phone.  Cut to me at age 30, and I have, very begrudgingly made moves to catch up with modern society.  As a writer and student, I have found it necessary to utilize several of the aforementioned services (primarily for the necessary evil of self-promotion), but I have never ‘friended’ anybody that I haven’t at the very least met and spoken to in person and I’ve never purchased anything (other than textbooks) or stolen media in a digital format.  In many ways I’m ‘That Guy’ who still prefers how things were back in the day, and while I’m not a technophobe, I certainly don’t trust the digital age.

Most recently I was reminded of the limitations of my acceptance of technological advancement while thoroughly geeking out at The Art of Video Games exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum.  My family never had a video game system when I was growing up, but many of my friends did, and so the nostalgia experienced at seeing Super Mario Bros. on the original NES or the various pixelated DOS games was heartfelt and palpable.  Wandering through the exhibit as it moved on up to the striking, realistic graphics of today’s video games, this nostalgia transitioned to awe-inspired consternation and discomfort.  Why discomfort? I asked myself, because games should not ape reality, I handily answered myself.

We own a PS3, but while the kids enjoy playing games like Mass Effect 3 where people look eerily like people, I am most comfortable with the Lego games where, when character dies, there is no blood–they just break.  Blood and violence in video games is not my problem, the realism is–it is, after all, a GAME.  And this, I think explains where my unease with advancement in technology stems from:  Not the advancements themselves, but what is lost in the process.  Relationships are meant to be experienced in the flesh; music is meant to be experienced with artwork and liner notes; books are meant to be experienced with the rustle of pages; violence in video games is meant to be experienced in unrealistic red pixels.

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