Friday, November 18, 2011

Audio From My "Uncalled For" Reading

"Underground: Reading and Performances" was guest curated by Uncalled for Readings in conjunction with the "Underground" exhibition of zines and other self-published works, which was on view at Woman Made Gallery from July 8 to August 14, 2011. The event featured readings and performances by artists and writers who self-publish, and was in August 2011. You can listen to my performance, at my website, and there is also a link there to the WBEZ website where you can hear the entire program. Thanks to the talented and fun Dalice for mixing down each of our individual parts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Britney S(p)ears Femme Fatale concert DVD Release Event, On the Second Floor of Sears, Near the Mens Department and the Dental Department

So I went with my friends to the Portage Theater for a viewing release preview thing where they were going to show Britney Spears' Femme Fatale live concert DVD on screen. They were even billing it like it was live like for real-for real, like as if it was happening in live time, because they billed it as "Britney Spears Femme Fatale Live Concert On the Big Screen." How do I know this? Because they put it on TICKETS YOU HAD TO PRINT OUT in advance, that said "General Admission Seating While Seats Available." The ticket was even all janky, like weird fonts mixed of varying pixelated issues, etc. I love that it says, :General Admission Seating While Still Available" like it was going to be jampacked. This was at the same theater that I went  months ago when the Femme Fatale album came out, where they had a midnight release "party" for it with an audience total of about 10 people. I wrote about that here and then also more here. If you don't feel like reading those posts or just need a quick refresher, suffice it to say that my live Twitter feed included comments like, "I bought my raffle ticket. Maybe ill win a big bent piece of cardboard with Britney on it" and "An obese man got on stage to talk about his internet radio station." You get the idea. My friends Stefanie and Sarah, who accompanied me for that event months ago, agreed to accompany me again for this. This time I also roped my husband Joe in, who did not accompany me last time to the album release party due to being out of town.

Joe and I got there too early, so before even stopping in at the theater, we went across the street to Fantasy Headquarters, THE BEST COSTUME STORE in the world and where I bought many wigs when I lost my hair when I was sick (I'm fine now thank you). While I was looking at a kinda gangstery hat that Britney kind of wears in the the Me Against the Music video with Madonna, my phone rang and it was Sarah. She said, "Do you know what the story is with this? Do you know about the changes?" No, I did not. She alerted me to the fact that the event had been moved across the street to Sears. The second floor. "Oh my god that's awesome. I will see you there."

We walked across the street to Sears and tried to figure out where to go, where the escalater was, where on the second floor, etc. We joked that if we asked any Sears employee working, we were confident that they would have no idea what we were talking about. We got upstairs and walked around, and saw a sad little runway in the corner, near a sad white screen, in the dental section. I swear I am not making this up.

The event was scheduled to start at 4:30 and it was 4:29 and there wasn't much set up. Just the runway with a sad raggely carpet and eight chairs.

Sad Raggedy Carpet Tongue On the End of the Runway

There was a poster that was un rolled that then some guy came out and started rolling it up. There was some sound and video equipment still on a rolling cart. They had moved some of the boxers and pajama bottom merchandise racks off to the side.

I called Stefanie and Sarah, and they said they were downstairs trying on shoes. When we got down there (this event was obviously not going to start on time), Sarah hobbled over wearing one of her own gym shoes and a leopard-print mega hookery high heel shoe. She wanted to know what we thought. I told her, "You should wear those two together, like it's some sort of sassy rogue-style thing."

We went back upstairs and they were beginning to set up what looked like an obstacle course. The screen extended over the entrance to the dental department, but they were sectioning it off with pieces of wood on chairs so that people who had dental appointments wouldn't accidentally run into it and know it was off limits. A group of about 4 or 5 other people came in who were all obviously together came and sat down. I announced that we should put on some of the Joe Boxer pajamas and walk around on the runway.

While we were waiting, I pulled out my phone and reminded them of what the Facebook invite said, that the concert was supposed to be on a 45 foot screen. Also, it said this:

Before the concert we will also show Britney's music videos from her Femme Fatale album and will premiere the music video "Watch Out" from ANDREA EVE which was filmed on The Portage Theater stage at the Six Corners BBQ Fest a few months ago! We will also give you a sneek peek at a new up and coming artist "Ashtar". 

We sat down on the folding chairs when the concert DVD started but there wasn't any of the other video has mentioned in the Facebook invite.

I pulled out the popcorn and soda.

Joe's comment when he posted a photo of me Facebook:
"Liz didn't want the oily popcorn from the theater, so she snuck in some that was air popped at home.
The theater didn't happen. So she's eating popcorn in the men's department in Sears."

Joe started taking pictures too. Later, when he posted them on Facebook, he prefaced the set with these words, which summarized this event perfectly:

So there was this Britney Spears live DVD prerelease event that was scheduled for the Portage Theater in Chicago. We didn't get the details, but the event was moved. To Sears. Second floor. Men's department. In front of the dental department. I wish I could make these details up.
I was filling everyone in on details they needed to know: the guy rapping, that's Will.I.Am. He produced some of these songs. That other woman rapping, that's Nicki Minaj. That other woman rapping, that's Sabi. She rapped on Drop Dead (Beautiful). And so on. Also, see that routine? That's the dance from the video. And that one too. See that set? They used a variation of that when she was on this one TV show. And so on. I fielded questions from my friends and offered trivia and discussion. I ate most of the popcorn I brought for everybody.

Sarah kept us entertained with dressing up in ridiculous outfits, occassionally getting on the runway and workin' it with Vanilla Ice-style hats and shirts, pajama bottoms with One Fish Two Fish, there was even a green sweater with a tie to pose with the green mannequin. Stefanie said, "Any time we're shopping, if you mention 'fashion show,' where Sarah can dress up in clothes and have someone take pictures, she loooooves that and is always game." I loved this idea and thought that was fabulous.
About 3/4 of the way into watching the concert some 12 year old-ish kid shoppin with his parents came in and asked what was going on. When we told him, he said, "Oh. Is she going to be here?" We thought it would be really awesome if she burst through the screen and announced that she just had a dental appointment.
At some point they brought out headless male mannequins! A blue one and a green one. Was one a Blue Man Group thing and te other one an Incredible Hulk thing?. They were all naked surrounding the screen at first. Then salespeople started to play with what clothes to put on them. They put jeans on them but left the top all unzipped and sex open. We laughed hysterically. We were the worst heckling peanut gallery ever, but I suppose that gave them very exact feedback on their marketing endeavors. So they zipped up the pants and put ties on them.

Joe's comment: Bare chest, tie, unbuttoned jeans. Very trendy. Very euro.

Sarah Models With a Green Headless Mannequin and Britney Spears In the Dental Department of Sears
(Absolutely Every Word of This Is True)
Alternate Title For This Photo:
What They Make You Do Before You Have a Dental Appointment at Sears
Also, Joe's comment about this photo was that Sarah is modeling the green and tie look that's big right now.

Then some pretty lady came in who was in sort of business attire and sat down on a table off to the side. Was that the woman who filmed her thing during the Six Corners BBQ Fest? Was it Ashtar? And why did she have one of those black portfolios? Did she think she was like an art school fair? In the Mens department near the dental department at Sears? She was doing something on a computer?

Joe's comment: "Hot Britney dental runway action!

Joe's comment: "Life has its moments of perfection."
There's some sort of social commentary ripe for discussion about this photo.
Joe's comment: "
Brit and her bodyguards, at Sears"
So much ado about these mannequins.
Joe's comment: "We figured that the Sears manager must have said, 'Set up a couple of dummies.
Maybe we can hustle some slacks and ties while we've got this event going on."

After the whole thing was over, some guy who smelled like cigarettes told us to come back whent hey screen this for real at the theater. We would get a copy of the DVD if we asked for some guy named Mark. Sarah asked what with the deal was with the change of venue. We asked why there was this event was moved and the guy who smelled like cigarettes said it was because they thought not a lot of people would show up for the event. He said that the free showing they did of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" at the theater earlier in the day was poorly attended. We discussed this later and thought it was humorous that they thought they'd get a big turnout for this even though the thing for the turnout for the album release was so poor. Also, the guy who smelled like cigerettes said there was going to be a fashion show at 7. It was 6:45. We went across the street to Marshall's where I bought a winter coat.

I may remember of the details of this tomorrow to add. Lucky you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Reading at Two Cookie Minimum

Come out, come out wherever you are! I'll be reading Tuesday the 15th at the Hungry Brain for the Two Cookie Minimum reading series. Event starts at 9pm. See you there?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Celebrity Tell-All Rubric

I stumbeled upon my copy of Vanna Speaks by Vanna White (Warner Books) the other day. I think it came from a Salvation Army.

I have the hard cover 1987 version with a foreward by Pat Sajak.

The basic gist of this book is "Sure, I make it LOOK easy, but really..."

I did learn a few interesting points, I suppose. Merv Griffin hired her because she turned the letters better than everyone else. What were the other folks who auditioned like? Like maybe they were really bad at turning the letters. Like they did it too fast. Or got some goo on them or something. Also, Vanna White did hand modeling. Her poor hands got tired holding a pop can. Also! Yes, if you win prizes that are $600 or over you have to pay taxes on it.

Also, parting gifts may include tuna, shampoo, Rice-a-Roni, hardware, motor oil or hair products.

Here are some preposterous quotes I enjoyed from this book:

"I know wearing clothes sounds like a pretty simple task, but there's more to it than that." (p. 10)

"I believe that success -- in anything -- depends on who, not what, you are. More than that, it involves hard work and having a dream." (p. 18) (My reaction: ...And your dream is to pose in clothes for pictures and turn toy hangman letters? I mean, wearing clothes is so hard.)

"I smoked some pot with the two wilder girls and came home with such an intense case of the munchies that I ate an entire meatloaf." (p. 60)

This kind of Meatloaf?

"Informal surveys reveal that lots of people tune in to see what I'll wear" (p. 128)

Interesting other note: she dated a Chippendales dancer. Then he died. Also, when she was young and needed the money in LA before making it big she posed for a sexy lingerie ad. Later the pictures reappeared in Playboy. Also, she tanned in the nude and a peeping tom took photos, and those resurfaced later too. DUH! You are famous and you're tanning in the nude?! That's like when celebrities make sex videos. Why?! First of all, why are you videotaping yourself having sex? Are you going to watch it later? Also, you would think that enough celebs have had their sex tapes leaked that you would think that famous people would know not to make them any more. I know, I know, celebs and politicians think they're never going to get busted for doing something dumb, but -- I mean, why are you videotaping yourself having sex? That's the real issue, if you ask me.

As I was pawing my way through and making laughy snort sounds, I came up with this idea of a Celebrity Autobiography rubric that would calculate each book from awesome to not awesome via a point system.

Sure, there are different types of celeb autobios, but I particularly like the ones with extreme self-aggrandisement and salaciousness. And the more extreme the book is regarding specific categories, the higher the probability is that I would enjoy it.

The more certain themes/motifs play out in celeb memoirs, the higher the score they would get. The themes could include things like drug use, sense of personal importance, relationships with others, personal (mis)conceptions about reality, mental and physical health, etc.

This is the way the system could be set:

1=none            2=very little            3=average            4=fairly high amount            5=extreme amount

I'm not talking about rating the celebrity. I'm talking about rating the book. If I was merely rating the celebrity, that's a different story; if I was just rating the celeb, there is plenty material to choose from, but that's not my point. I'm talking about the celeb autobio as a genre. (Sidenote: If I was talking about just the celeb and their public behaivor, there's plenty to go with -- David Hasselhoff crying while eating a hamburger in a video on Youtube, Britney attacking with an umbrella, Toby McGuire bringing his own food to the craps table, etc.) But no! I'm talking about just the book.

Any of the tell-all books by members of Mötley Crüe like The Dirt, The Heroin Diaries, Tommyland etc. get high points in all categories that would be on the rubric, so as you can guess, they're fun to read. So I don't need to include them below -- They're kinda holy grail-y in regards to the celeb autobio genre. Just go read them and enjoy, even if you're not a Crüe fan.

Here are just two examples of how certain things would rate in this rubric that I can think of off the top of my head:

Sense of Personal Importance:
In Call Me Crazy: A Memoir by Anne Heche, she describes developing an alter ego, Celestia, who was the daughter of God, come to save mankind. That would rate the book a 5 for the category of Personal Perception. Also a 5 goes to David Hasselhoff in Don't Hassel the Hoff: The Autobiography (Thomas Dunne Books) 2007 for his insistance that he was integral to the capitulation of the Berlin Wall. Definitely a 5 for his book in this category.

Drug Use:
Gene Simmons said in Kiss and Make Up that he has never tried alcohol or pot and that he never will. That would be a 1 in this category.
Drew Barrymore was in and out of rehab twice by the time she was 14, as described in her book Little Girl Lost. Although you would think that I would assign her a 5 in this category, I actually went with giving her book a 4 because it seems like she was scared straight due to past public shame of herself in regards to the drugs.
In Memoirs of a Superfreak, Rick James talks about his habitual use of all types of drugs and his multiple rehab trips. He pretty much died because of drugs, and there is much ado about his drug endeavors in the book. I honor his drug use in the book with a 5 for this category.

Anyway, you get the idea...

Books that I haven't read but I am sure I would enjoy rating on this system would be ones by Valerie Bertinelli, Tatum O'Neal, Mackenzie Phillips -- It's just that I have a billion books on deck right now -- no, I haven't gotten to those -- yet...

One day I would love to sit some of the ghost writers down, get them rip-roaringly drunk and get the scoop behind the scoop.

I should also mention that there are some celeb memoirs that are totally outside the realm of this rubric -- like books that don't have that type of extreme preposterousness that I enjoy in a celeb memoir. Maybe, they actually learned something from their experience in the industry and have some legitimate wisdom to share, like in Pat Benatar's Between a Heart and a Rock Place, where she shares the love story of how she met her husband who is also the guitarist for her band, and then also some good stuff about the difference between corporate and indie record label business models and so on. I enjoy books like that too, yes, but they are a different type of celeb autobio. Rue McClanahan's My First Five Husband's...And the Ones Who Got Away is another fun autobio but doesn't have the preposterousness I usually enjoy like in the above categories, but it does have salacious info about her fellow Golden Girls, like who was nicer than who and who needed to read cue cards. Also, Growing Pains by Billie Piper is good too in a "I've learned so much through my pain" kind of a way, but with some typos that seem weirdly cozy.

Anyway, I've got some other memoirs that I would like to get to soon already in the Liz Mason Midwest Celebrity Autobiography Collection (read: my bathroom) that I haven't really cracked open yet I look forward to getting to them eventually, like a book by the original drummer for Oasis and Adam Ant's memoir. What celeb memoirs do you know about that I should read?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Describing Halloween Sounds Like Hilarious High School Poetry

I love Halloween. Especially in the city. And when I describe it, it totally sounds like some ridiculous poetry, which is hilarious and awesome to me. Halloween is poetry. With candy.

A member of Run DMC walks over Wabansia in broad daylight on the way to the bank to transfer funds from savings to checking account. A matador walks down the street giving directions on his cell phone. In the dark, I walk by an apartment with a party in progress: a moose is dancing drunkenly in the corner, antlers accidentally hitting the ceiling. A group of unlikely friends flag for a cab: a sexy eskimo (sexkimo), a nun, and a pirate. Left in my bike basket: a wrapper for a "HIP HOP BLING NECKLACE." A bus rolls and raves down the street with a flame twirler and a DJ spinning techno atop.


Here's this year's Halloween costume. Guess I never got around to putting together a Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner costume. Well, maybe next year. So this year's was pretty low maintenance.

I sang Womanizer at karaoke and was going to take the pink wig off while singing to reveal my pink hair underneath but then I forgot. Bah! I got the idea from Emo Phillips taking off his Michael Jackson jacket to reveal another one of the same underneath. Woops.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Problems We Should Be Proud to Have

I was standing out in the rain waiting for a bus being not thrilled but then also thinking, I'm lucky to even have a coat to wear. It's kind of amazing that I have a coat to wear. As a human species, there were evolutionary ancestors of mine that didn't have a coat to wear in weather like this.

And then I thought, This year, I am going to really get my shit together and spend real money on a real winter coat. One with a real functioning zipper where I don't have to rely on other people to help me with the god damn zipper that makes me feel like I'm seven and have to have someone help me in my winter coat. 

And then I thought, We didn't, as a species, always have zippers.

In fact, I think someone told me once that zippers are still outlawed (unaccepted? unused?) by some folks, like maybe certain sects of the Amish. (However, this is based on not only what someone else told me, and then also based on my own memory, which is not known for its exactitude.) So then I thought, I'm lucky to even be living in a time, space and society that accepts and utilizes zipper technology (when you have a not shitty coat) that makes life that much easier.

There's certain problems we should be glad to have. I have clothes that fit me! I have insulation from the elements! The fact that I have problems with my zipper means that my species has evolved to the point where if I'm having problems with technology that shows that my species has evolved to even HAVE that technology. That's pretty far along.

I feel like this doesn't make sense me saying that, so I will explore this more completely with another example.

How do people get through e-mails so quickly? So much comes to my inbox I have to go through: All the alerts that come that I need to look at on all the social media sites I do stuff on, the least of which is Facebook, where somebody has sent me info about an event somebody has created of something they'e performing in that I need to add to my calendar, all the e-mails of business I have to take care of ("So we're meeting at this spot at 5pm, can you pick up so and so?"), questions ("Hey what was the name of that podcast you were talking about?"), "Hey, here's this grant you should totally apply for"...I feel like it takes me 27 hours to respond to each e-mail. What compounds the problem is that I have this habit of signing up for lots of daily e-mails from websites like Gizmodo, or those feeds where every time somebody does another post I get the e-mail alert -- and then the "So and so commented on your thing here" that I then feel like I need to respond to (or at least check out)...Then I spend all my time weeding through the e-mails and deciding which ones I'll pay attention to or not, deciding what to read or listen to...Do I really need to listen to the NPR Song of the Day every damn day? Do I really need to look at  the Steampunk Home e-mail about the picture of something they added to their blog that day? It's all stuff I like, but I have a limited amount of time.


Technology is amazing but information overload is not. I always feel panic that I am missing out on something I need to hear about or read about. I have the world at my fingertips while simultaneously extricating myself from the actual outside world. And I know I am not the only one who thinks this; I've heard New York Times journalists complaining about media production versus media processing and my friends on Facebook pontificating about the debilitating overload of media consumption. Clearly I am not the first to articulate about this issue.

But on some level, the "problem" of information overload seems a preposterous issue to be worried about. Shouldn't I be happy that I have access to amazing media at all times? Shouldn't I be inspired by all of it? There's such a mass of material to massage my soul with -- podcast, blog, radio piece, music, info...

But then! I think I often feel panic that I can't get to all that media I want to get to. Funny too, that I would use the word "massage" in regards to nourishing my soul. That's kind of McLuhanish. As in "The media is the massage." Or was it the medium is the massage? A medium massage? Whatever. I need a massage. My brain and soul need a massage. (And probably some actual fresh air.)

I'm trying to be optimistically inspired by this modern dilemma. Poor baby can't listen to ALL OF THIS AMAZING MUSIC and LISTEN TO ALL OF THESE AMAZING PODCASTS. I can't read ALL OF THIS AMAZING STUFF.

Oh the humanity. Poor baby.

P.S. Here's a picture of me in the shitty winter jacket looking miserable. You're welcome!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Cat Wearing Sunglasses: A Coping Strategy

Next time you're at your lowest point, rocking back and forth, muttering intelligible prayers for divine guidance and gnawing off your cuticles, perhaps you might consider experimenting with a variety of illicit substances to help cope with mental anguish? However, if you can't afford a narcotics habit, there is also another option, one that entails what you can physically do to help redirect your attention elsewhere.

Once, when I was so disgusted with myself for making a bad judgement call about something, the only thing that stopped me from jumping in front of a bus was a few drinks. Well, and imagining I was surrounded by a huge large soft mushy cat.

Seriously, whatever works.

I got the cat idea from the anime version of "Please Save My Earth." There's this gigantic cat, like the size of a couch named Kyaa (named that because when people see him they go, "KYAA!") It's actually an alien. It gobbles up/absorbs someone's sadness and anger in a healing kind of a way. Did I mention it's huge? ...And um, when you first meet it, he's wearing sunglasses.

I can totally see where this idea came from. Not the sunglasses. The idea of a cat absorbing energy. Sometimes I'll sit down where one of the cats was just laying and then it's all warm and kitty-y, which I love, love, love. Sometimes one of the cats will have been laying on my sweater and then I'll put on the sweater and it makes me all happy because it's all warm and cat-feeling. One of my friends, the one who made me watch "Please Save My Earth," said that my cats are probably sitting on my sweaters because they sense my energy on it and then the cats and I are just recycling love vibes back and forth.

Warm and fuzzy. Literally.

Did I mention that the cat in the anime was a really big cat? Because it was.  Like the kid would kinda spoon with this really big cat. Well, maybe not totally spoon, but curl up in the cats belly while the cat lies on it's side.

Also, did I mention the cat had sunglasses for a few scenes? My friend who showed me this movie said that she showed it to me because she knew I would love the idea of this cat, and especially that it was wearing sunglasses, and that this really long dramatic movie was really just the build up until I would see the cat with sunglasses. Because this cat is cooooool.

But really, I mean, I liked the idea of the trauma absorbing cat. I SO want one of those. Craig's List ad maybe?

Anyway, my point is that something helpful when you're sick of being in your own head is to engage in some type of sensory activity that feels good, even if it's pretending that you're surrounded by a ENORMOUS CAT. (With or without sunglasses.)

If you want to watch the scene about Kyaa from "Please Save My Earth," you can watch it here:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Decorate. Decorate. Decorate. The TARGIS.

I thought to myself, if you bought a time machine at Target, it would be this:
I downloaded a Dalek font, the one they use for Daleks in the Doctor Who comics. I was going to have the Dalek saying "Decorate." But the font didn't work so well with any Adobe programs, only MS Word. On one of the sites I came across sound clips of DW stuff, and I downloaded a TARDIS taking off sound which I made a loop of and then put it on my phone. If you want it I can send it to you, if you want it for your phone.

This week's Doctor Who (well, technicaly last week I suppose) was satisfying, with the "fish out of water" sequences I  always enjoy in things, like Look! The Doctor is being sort of a nanny! Look! The Doctor is working in a toy store! Look! The Doctor is petting a toy dog robot and making comments like it's K-9 etc. It was very exciting that we configured my I-Pod to plug into the TV so we can ferment on the couch watching stuff on a big TV instead of sitting in front of a computer in lame-o office chairs.

Secretly in the middle of the night I've been watching the first season of "Heroes" streaming off Netflix. There are episodes of "Heroes" with former DW star Christopher Eccleston which I think will be in the next season that I'll hit soon, so maybe I'll watch the series to there. It's a pretty cheesy show but I can't stop. I would be interested in just a full series devoted to the Hiro Nakamura character, the Asian comic book geek, who can transport through time and space. His character has a charming boyish nerdiness that I enjoy, and he is definitely supposed to be the comic relief, which at the same time makes me uncomfortable in a "Is he the comic relief because he's Asian?" kind of a way. Anyway, the Heroes thing started because I watched the first DVD of Osamu Tezuka's The Phoenix, and since the next DVDs in the series aren't here yet and I was still in a science fictiony mood, and because Netflix didn't have live streaming for the following discs of The Phoenix, I decided to watch Heroes, especially also because  Netflix would let me stream it (and because I'd heard a lot about it). I think one of the reasons I like science fiction so much is it has events that are so much more interesting than my daily life. There's not much I can do to make tasks that annoy me any more magical or spiritual.

All this science fiction got me thinking: so much of the tasks we have to do in the world need enrichment of something more interesting than the mundane. Time machines do indeed need to be at the big box store! Universal timeless proverbs of sentient intelligence should coming out from the computer screen, there should be haunted hexes on things, there need to be spiritual life forces at the tollbooths...Is what I'm really looking for is religion? I would be happy to accept it if something convinced me that there were spiritual forces outside of what I understand reality to be. But so far I haven't encountered anything. I'm open! Hello?! Hello?! Hello?!

OK, so my antennaes are up. In the mean time, I present you...


The Terrifying, Shocking Tale of the Haunted Tire Replacement
by Liz "Mummified Monster" Mason
(This story is best enjoyed read aloud in a scary voice)

Lightning flashed! Thunder roared! The sky went dark! Booooooooo!

My caaaar neeeeded new front tiiiiires and there was a eery sqeeeeeeak coming when I hit the breaaaaaaks.

I went to the haunted Midas on Fuuuuulllertooon, three blocks east of the post office. They told me that they could patch up my tires or put on new ones. I said that I wanted 2 new ones. They said it would beeeeeee $119.99 with $19.99 to instaaaaaaall for EACH TIIIIRE. They were having a saaaaaaale, and that I could get Bridgestone Primewall tiiiiiiiires. I found this accetpable. They also told me that it cooooooomes with a 30,000 mile warrentyyyyyy. But then! They talked me into paying another $79.95 for tire alignment otherwise I'd have to come back in a few months to fix the tires from being worn down due to misalignment. Then I also had to pay $3.95 for a new valve stem, another $3.95 for a tire tax, and then a tire disposal fee for $2.50.

They asked me if I had anything else on the car to look at. I howled ghoulishly, "Perhaps the braaaaaakes, because they squeeeeeeak sometiiiiiiimes." They asked me, "Does that happen all the time? Or just when it's wet out?"

I shuddered. I said, "Usually when it's wet out but then also sometimes other times too. I think there might be something hauuuuuuuuuunted in our car. I think there must be a spirit in there!"  Then I waited a paniced moment while they assessed the brakes.

A few HAIR-RAISING minutes later, they showed me that my rooters make the squeaking sound when they're wet because they are rinsing off the rust, which many cars do, but the squeaking was happening in normal weather because of heat spots created by constant use, which create marks that cause extra friction. The mechanic suggested slicing off part of the rooooooooooter (essentially exfoliating the surface), but if we did that, we would also need to get new break pads. It would cost like $250 EXTRA DOLLARS! I let out a BLOOD-CURDLING SCREAM! I CAN'T AFFORD THAT!

I said, "I'll pass on rooter work for now but that perhaps I will do it another time."

Then the receptionist had me sign some GRUESOME paperwork. Since it would take two TERRIFYING hours to install the new tires, I went to the SPINE-CHILLING doughnut shop across the street to wait fearfully. A NIGHTMARISH chill went down my spine! THEY DIDN'T HAVE WI-FI! An unspeakable tragedy must have happened in that very spot 75 years ago! I COULD NOT CHECK MY E-MAIL!! But the GLAAAAAAAAAZED DOUGHNUT was DELICIOUS!

Then when my car was ready, they called my cell phone. The total was $364.97. I went back and paid with a supernatural card-like item that had a magical spectral stripe on it that allowed me to exchange it for goods and services when it was slid through an unearthly device.

"Thank yooooooooou," I said.

The lady said, "Why are you talking like that?"

And I said, "Because I took some muscle relaaaaaaxants."



Unrelated note: one last note before I go. I would just like it to be known that strangely, Netflix sent me bonus discs of a movie before sending the actual movie. So I watched the 2 bonus discs for "Grindhouse" before actually watching "Grindhouse." So now I know all about the CGI effects, stunt doubles and casting adventures. Is it me, or is Q. Tarantino sort of cheesy? Just thinking aloud.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Next Podcast Episode Uploaded and Reflections On It

So I uploaded the next episode of the Quimby's Bookstore podcast. This episode I interviewed Jon Kristiansen and Tara G. Warrior talking about their book Metalion: The Slayer Mag Diaries (Bazillion Points Publishers). Jon started Slayer Mag in Norway in 1985 and put out 20 issues over the span of 25 years. The zine covered a variety of extreme metal bands, including Emperor, Slayer, Kreator, Nihilist, Celtic Frost, Bathory, Cathedral, Entombed, Morbid, Napalm Death, and more. The Onion AV Club called founder Jon Kristiansen “one of the best primary sources for facts and stories about Mayhem, Varg, and what really happened back in the day." The Chicago Reader called this book "a chronicle of death and black metal at their births but also a personal coming-of-age story." It's an awesome 744 page hardcover with tons of pictures and reproduction pages from every issue, and there's even material from the precursor Live Wire zine. It's also part memoir. Co-editor Tara interviewed Jon all about his experiences with the zine, and then together they decided what to include.

When it came time for editing, it took me a lot of playing around with the volume since there were 3 people talking, and each of us had different volume. That was very time consuming. I also added some music in it, which I think helps, if you need some help understanding examples of the music. I also edited out anything that was redundant, like if we got interuptted and then had to start again, if one of us, if there was a long pause, and so on. And oh! Another reason I think it was important to include music snippets is because I have this feeling about reading about music without hearing the music -- it doesn't help m much if I don't hear the music. When I read music reviews, no matter how many adjectives you use and in what combination, nothing replaces actually hearing the music. Sure, you can give me an idea like "Sounds like this band" and so on. But even that isn't the same. It doesn't help that I neglected to say who the bands are. Well, I included songs by Bathory and one by Watain.

Also, I know that all the church burning and murder stuff had been covered in a variety of places, so although the conversation touched on some of that briefly, I tried to approach the interview from the angle of independent zine publishing. We talked for a nice long time, and I felt like we had a good vibe going.

I would have liked to record the actual event afterwards in order for putting that up on the podcast but I don't have a very good mic -- in fact, I just use the mic on my Macbook. That would never capture the people speaking at an event.

Something that was really refreshing was that occassionally the conversation would take these unexpectedly hilarious turns, things that were decideldy NOT metal, which I enjoyed, because that was sort of surreal but then also very normal, as if to remind the listener that we're really just three geeks in a basement at Quimby's. I had read that one of the reasons that Jon and Tara became such good friends is because of all the people that would write letters to Jon, she was the only person who brought up the Everely Brothers or something like that.

It’s available for your listening pleasure, in a variety of formats and places for you to stream or download, including a link to I-Tunes where you can subscribe to the podcast so you can hear every episode when they come out, and they're free.


Book available:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Celebrity Gossip Column of the Apocalypse

So a few weeks ago I was asked to read at this reading series based on the theme of dystopia and apocalypse, called The Liquid Burning of Apocalyptic Bard Letters. It's at the at the Black Rock Bar. So this is what I wrote for it.

Apocalypse Weekly Gossip Column
As Featured In the Grocery Store Tabloid Magazine All Access Rapture Confidential
by The Whore of Hollywood Babylon Prophet of Judgment

Snowpocalypse in the midwest, Hurracaines on the east coast, earthquakes in the south. All in time for celebrating the 10th anniversary of 911. Don't miss this starstudded red carpet commemorative celebrity event, featuring someone playing kettle drums, a couple accountants and maybe Gary Busey.

It's the Britney Spears Military Complex, Bitch! The Princess of Pop's "Till The World Ends" Mayan 2012 remix is available on I-Tunes! Co-written by Ke$ha, produced by Max Martin and Dr. Luke, you can also order the Premium Fan Edition that comes with a handjob. No official word has been released yet from BritBrit's record label Sony/Zomba/Jive/JPMorgan-USPS-UPS-fedex-Burger-King-McDonalds regarding the potential end of life as we know it and how that may affect sales.

Have you heard the FIVE SIX about the September issue of Astrophysics Tramp Stamp Tattoo Society? Allegations have come forward of a scandalous section devoted to Albert Einstein tattoos. Infamous Gossip Queen of tinsel town Perez Jinx Falkenburg Walter Winchell of the popular web site vicious-alicously pronounced of the Page Six tell-all expose that wipes the ink gun clean:

 "Tattoos of Einstein are the Spensor's Gifts of tattoo images," Perez says. "What the end-of-the-world needs now IS NOT tattoos of an aging Jewish man with crazy hair that says 'E=MC squared! Imagination is more important than knowledge.'  BORING. If you're so into physics, why not use the picture of a graph depicting gravity as the curvature of space and time? WhatEVER! Besides, if people who get these tattoos were so into astrophysics they would know that the discussion of gravity and space time has started to incorporate theories regarding elements of spin."

THE TEA HAS BEEN SPILLED! A new demographic study performed by the Center For Public Boredom claims that the best way to bore people to tears so that they eagerly await the termination of existence instead of confronting the heartbreaking absurdity of existential nausea as described by the work of John-Paul Sartre is to conduct self-administered mail in surveys that focus on close-ended questions vs. open ended questions, and that all questionaires should avoid vague qualifiers or abstract terms, as well as being careful to avoid charming jargon or quirky slang that humanizes the respondents and inspires a soul-enriching, life-affirming experience of their humanity. The categories to questions 2, 3, 10, 11 and 12 in Figure 3.1 and Quesitons 1, 2, and 4 in Figure 3.2 are mutually exclusive, although respondents should be able to provide multiple single word answers if relevant. When the questionnaire makes provisions for respondents to give multiple choice answers, the surveyors must also make provisions for the multiple answers to be efficiently and completely coded into the data for analysis.

OMG!! In the "Nothing to see here people move it along!" Dept.! The entity United-States-of-Wall-Mart-Target-Viacom-MTV-VH1-Hewlitt-Packard-of-The-America-Coporation has ordered a video featuring alleged enlightened beings from another planet warning humans of their potential path to environmental, nuclear and otherwise ruinous destruction, to be removed from popular free video website In a tell all interview where no topic is left untouched, Doublethink Corporation Inc. employee Citizen #1,237 comes forward to discuss the decision to post, unpost, delete, assimilate, exterminate and then repost a replacement video that features Harry 'Haywire' McClintock's hobo classic Big Rock Candy Mountain accompanied by innocuous animation of houses built out of sweet cakes and candy, created and posted by critically acclaimed Swedish production team jorsky7iimbaa7296everythingisdoubleplusgood, known for such argumentative innuendo that most likely no aliens have ever landed on our planet and never will and seriously, look at this device and don't blink OK there were no aliens in this spot ever, you have unaccounted for time because you just fell asleep at the wheel and no, you were never taken aboard any vessel and probed by any aliens ever, really, just you know, everything is all good, hey look there's a cute doggie!

FASHION NO-NO! Lizard-consciousness out-of-body experiences, ayahuasca, Neanderthal Enigma consciousness, that is SO twentieth century. Currently in: neuro-linguistic programming, storing your genes on a boat and eschatology that views the end times as perfection. 

HOT! HOT! HOT! A source has given me the tip off that there will be a technological singularity in the 21st century that would profoundly and unpredictably change the course of human history, and result in Homo sapiens no longer being the dominant life form on earth. This will be correlated with the life cycle of the sun!  Another announcement proclaimed that extensive destructive events will destroy the population of the world, which will then restart all of creation with divine beings that will begin a Golden Age.

Anton take me away! What's your feel good factor? A spokesperson for the followers of Anton "Battle Hymn of the Apocalypse" Lavey suggested that in case the world really does end, you should live it up, indulging your impulses instead of abstaining. Go on! Celebrate your own birthday. Don't you deserve it? It may be your last chance.

Word has leaked out! Chronos "Father of Time" took a "time out" from his busy schedule of growing his long, grey beard to announce that it's not worth putting anything else in your Netflix queue if you already have more than 276 films in it, because the world might end in the --

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bleaching My Hair and Listening to Podcasts: Try Not To Make Any Noise

I bleached my hair. It's like I'm 17! Well, that's not too surprising considering that's about where my fashion sense progressed to. I mean, you're talking to someone who is not above shopping at Hot Topic. (And I will have you know the only one anywhere close to me is at the Harlem and Irving Plaza -- or "HIP" as it is known, which I think is hilarious.) I've always been open to fun hair colors and haircuts and putting ridiculous things in it like twigs, string and plastic animals. And when I was sick and had to shave my head before I lost my hair, well I guess in retrospect it made me kind whatever about my hair. There are also days where I expect so little from my personal appearance, that I simply say to myself Just as long as I don't look like a TOTAL ASSHOLE and that is what it takes to get me out the door without being too OCD.

Anyway, I was very lazy about the way I put the bleach on my hair. Well, actually, I was pretty lazy even in the process of going about getting the supplies for my hair. In fact, I walked in to Sally's Beauty Supply and when the woman asked me if I needed any help, I just announced, "I want to bleach my hair. I am very lazy." So she showed me powder I needed, a hair net that you pull hair through, gloves, a hair dye painting brush, gloves and some conditioner. What she did not tell me was that I had to buy this lotiony substance that you put with the powder. So I had to go back and get it a few days later. When it came time to do the process, the hair net lasted about 5 minutes before I ditched it and just started painting the bleach powder-lotion stuff on where I felt like it. So I wasn't particularly methodical about it. I was actually paying more attention to the podcast I was listening to at that moment, which was Comedy Bang-Bang podcast. I was trying to not make any sound so I could hear what they were saying, which means I had to work sort of slowly and not too far away from the computer so I could still hear it, which is ridiculous of course, I mean, why didn't I just turn the computer up louder? I have no good answer for this.

Sidenote: Sometimes with podcasts I just have to remind myself that it's OK to miss part of it if I have to make some sort of noise like turn the water on to rinse out my mouth after brushing my teeth. The thing is, if I'm really engaged in listening I don't want to have to relisten to part of it again if I missed something, but I listen to so many podcasts that I sometimes have to give myself permission to miss part of it; after all, having it on to listen to and just hearing some of it is better than not hearing any at all, so according to that logic I should be happy to hear any of it, which is better than no hearing it at all. So I shouldn't care if I miss a few words. However, there is one podcast that I usually listen to during activities like walking to and from work, where I know I won't miss a word, and that's the Pod F. Tompkast which I always enjoy. That I listen to on my I-pod. But everything else, I can listen to it in a variety of other places: either of my computers, on I-Tunes at work, etc.

When I was done with the bleach job I decided to trim the back of my hair so it wasn't so thick at the bottom of my neck. But then I cut my neck on the scissors, because it was at a weird angle. Then I decided to even out the nape of my hairline on my neck, but I wanted it shorter than I knew how I'd be able to get with scissors, so I decided a razor would be the way to go with it, but all I had was a disposable razor. It was all dorm-room-tastic except that I'm 37. The whole thing with the bleach and the cutting and the shaving is quite preposterous but I actually kind of like the way it looks now.

I feel soooooo glamerous. I may put some dye in it when this starts to bore me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Events I'm in this month!

I'm in three events! Come see me!

Homeroom Presents: Britney Spears 101
Featuring Me, Chris Smit and Judy Hoffman
at The Hungry Brain 8/9

So this is a Homeroom event, and I also am thinking of it as a release event for Caboose #7: Britney Spears 101. I wasn't totally happy with the print job for the first edition, but I've fixed them with this edition, and also added 24 pages. And I got fancy book blurbs from writers I enjoy and a grant from the city of Chicago to reprint it. 

Also these fine folks will be joining me:

Christopher Smit, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His newest book is The Exile of Britney Spears: A Tale of 21st Century Consumption. His work on disability, aesthetics, culture, and popular music can be found in a variety of texts and journals. He is also an award-winning singer-songwriter and musician who currently fronts the band The New Midwest. For more info:

Judy Hoffman is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer, as well as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and Department of Visual Arts. Hoffman has worked on films about such topics as Howard Zinn, Studs Terkel,the Dalai Lama and Chicago politics, just to name a few. She is also the director of Stages: 3 Days In Mexico, about Britney Spears’ 2002 concerts in Mexico City. For more info:

Tuesday, August 9th
The Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont, Chicago, IL 60618
Doors at 8pm, show at 9pm 21+, donations appreciated
Homeroom is a not-for-profit organization promoting new creative content, featuring some of Chicago’s best new art, film, music and literary readings. For more info:

The August installment of
at Woman Made Gallery 8/14
This event is in conjunction with Woman Made Gallery's Underground show, curated by Ruby Thorkelson in collaboration with the Chicago Underground Library and Spudnik Press. The show features a slew of underground and self-published artwork and publications produced by women, queer, trans, genderqueer and gender-nonconforming writers and artists. 'm reading as one of six writers who have been involved in underground writing and publishing, as well as music, in various capacities: MAIREAD CASE (editor of ACM), CURIOUSER JANE (a.k.a. DALICE MALICE), MARIE HUNT, ROBIN HUSTLE (Mirror Tricks, Curdled Milk, The Skeleton News) & JAMI SAILOR Your Secretary, No Better Voice, Archiving the Underground).
Sunday, August 14th, 2pm
Woman Made Gallery, 685 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 

at Comfort Station
Wed, Aug 17th, 8pm
Comfort Station Logan Square, 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60647

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who Is #1? Britney Spears and The Prisoner

So I got to thinking: if you're super young and you have a #1 album, and then you have a bunch of #1 albums, if you then put out an album that does not make it to #1, then are you like, "What the fuck? Why didn't that one make it to #1?" Like, do you get blasé about it? I asked Joe (my husband) this, and he said it reminded him of an Adam Ant lyric that's something like "There's nowhere to fall at #1 except down." (Of course I can't remember the name of the song or the exact lyrics, even with some deductive Google-ing, so I guess you'll have to take my word for it.) So then what happens as you get older, if you peak really early on, do you have nothing to look forward to? That is, if your goal early on is to be a super famous pop star? Maybe the best scenario for someone who that is their main goal is to spend many years having #2 albums, and then sometime when they're much lode, maybe right before they retire, they have a #1 album...? And then they can go out on top.

Of course, not everybody who goes into music has their main goal as being a #1 album. Not all success is measured in sales and money and Billboard charts of course too.I guess I am specifically referring to your typical pop stars.

Joe reminded me that Pat Benatar was a good case and point (case in point? I don't think I have ever mastered the use of that expression or even the actual wording of the expression) of someone who has their priorities straight. (We both very much enjoyed her memoir, Between a Heart and A Rock Place.) She had some big hits years and years ago and then spends most of her time with her family throughout the year and then tours in the summer to support the family. She just has fun with it and is happy. Incidentally, she has a house in Hawaii! OK, OK, whatever whatever, my point it that she just does it to enjoy it. Well, and I guess to live and have money, but ANYWAY, she makes more money now with her indie label then she did when she was on corporate record labels.

I don't think me thinking about "Where do I go from here now that I'm #1" originated from my own sense of wonderment. I think probably it was planted by Britney: Inside the Dream by Steve Dennis. He theorized that maybe Britney felt pressure to always have a #1 album each time, and if she didn't get it to be #1 that she might be unhappy, or at the least, surprised. Or maybe at some point blasé.

Speaking of Britney, I just read the comic FAME - Britney Spears: One Life No Apologies (Bluewater Comics). Oh shit oh shit oh shit. So there's this one page where they draw her sitting alone in an arena hugging her shoulders, sitting on one of those circus stools that they put the dancing bears on or whatever (circus, arena, geddit?), and she's surround by 6 big faces, her face actually. And she's questioning all these things, feeling trapped. The speech bubbles are actually boxes, different ones on different faces (boxes, 'cause she's boxed in, geddit?). And they capture all the ways she's trapped, things that I've often speculated that she might feel. I scanned it so you could see, but the picture is kind of small.

I thought that was a nice move, referencing the British TV show The Prisoner with the quotes: "I'm not a prisoner. I'm a free (wo)man, who is number one?" In the dystopian British TV show with Patrick McGoohan, he's caught in The Village and he spends the whole time trying to escape and also find out who #1 is, and they try to get him to tell him why he resigned. For Britney this works on a variety of levels. First, if you google Britney Spears "the prisoner", you full on pull up links that say things like "Britney Spears says she feels like a prisoner." What with the conservatorship and all that, bla, bla, bla. And she's trapped by the record company, and trapped by the stylings of fame and can't leave the house without being hassled, etc.

And the whole thing about #1,  always wanting to figure out who #1 is -- and then the thing about Britney always wanting to be #1, #1 hits, #1 albums, #1 sales, #1 perfume sales...It really is an effective analogy.

So I got inspired and Photoshopped this, which is weird that nobody did this already (unless they did and I didn't Google far and wide enough):

Who Is #1?

There does seem to be a lot of discussion about Britney's blaséness lately, barely dancing in her performances, her soulless eyes, etc. etc. On (devoted to articles about her father's conservatorship over her affairs) there's this quote that seems to sum up a lot of what I've been encountering about her lately:

Britney Spears used to be called Godney. Unfortunately the name Zombney would be more fitting if you see her nowadays.

Meow! Someone on that site also responded that maybe the conservatorship will end after her tour because it was legally requirted for her to tour, and that maybe Femme Fatale will be her last album on JIVE Records, who she has been with from the beginning. I think I even heard on a fairly recent episode of the podcast Gay Pimpin' with Jonny McGovern that her performance on Good Morning America I think they were talking about, that her eyes looked dead. I thought the whateverness of the performance had more to do with the fact that it was in the early stages of planning because she was still rehearsing for the Femme Fatale tour (in Chicago tonight! But so is the Slayer Mag book event at Quimby's  -- sorry Britney, maybe another time), and this was like a slimmed down version of that. But I'll tell you what, I recently Youtubed dance tutorials for her routines in songs like Slave 4 U, and compared to what she's doing in newer videos, it's true, the dance moves are a little easier in Till the World Ends. (I did also find a dance tutorial for that one and it involves boring things like marching. BORING. Although I liked the 16-18 chest pulses...You're welcome.) Just offering that for what it's worth.

Well, if you're at the United Center tonight at 7pm, tell Britney I'm sorry I couldn't make it because I was at an event about Norwegian death metal.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The True Story of the Storage Facility Full of Free Erotica from Mr. Anderson

So here's a true story that whenever I tell people this, they tell me it is very interesting. So now I will share it with you!

I work at this crazy bookstore that sells weirdo reading material, like books about wrapping Roy Orbison in clingfilm. We sell some kind of sexy stuff to, like arty erotica and sometimes vintage pin-up stuff, and then some stuff that's a little kinky (horse play!) or just like sex positive sex guides and culture books, etc. One day we get an e-mail from some guy who just went under the name John Anderson, which I am convinced is not his real name. He says that he has a storage facility full of sexy reading material that he would like to donate to the store. And he doesn't want money for it. But the catch is that we need to go pick it up,and we'll need a cargo van. So we get the cargo van and we show up and he's just this nice guy, maybe in his later 40's or so and this storage facility is out in the boonies, probably about an hour and half drive outside of Chicago.

We ride an elevator up to his second floor storage room and the place is practically lined with books and magazines and video tapes that we have no idea what's on them. He loads a rolling cart up with books, magazines and video tapes. My co-worker and I roll into the elevator while the guy stays in the storage locker, and the minute the elevator door closes we dig into the stuff, and we see that ther's varying levels of naughtiness. There's vintage cheesecake stuff, fetish magazines, She-Male books, envelopes with sexy trading cards, a bunch of old Eric Stanton-style Bizarre mags, XXX comics and graphic novels, pin-uppy Bunny Yeager-Bettie Page stuff, fetish-y hardcover photo books of latex bondage stuff -- just a whole bunch of stuff. I think some of the stuff he might even have bought from the store where I work. All in all, we pretty much filled up the cargo van. And it wasn't a small van. Just to give you an idea of the size, let it be known that my co-worker had traveled with his band in it on tour, and they had actually converted it for like 5 people to sleep while also housing all their gear.

John Anderson wouldn't tell us why he was getting rid of all this stuff but we had theories. Maybe he had this secret stash of stuff and he also had a wife who he was hiding it from, but she found out and is making him get rid of it. Or he's getting rid of it before she finds out. Another theory is that maybe he was being investigated for something, and he didn't want it known he had this stuff. Not that he had anything in the stash that was illegal. But there were a few books of photography featuring the work  of Jock Sturges. Some of the subjects in Jock Sturges' work are kind of young, if you know what I'm saying. (It's a controversial situation with his work.) Anyway, all we had were theories to work with why Mr. Anderson was just giving us this stuff for free. He wouldn't take any money either, as if he wanted it to be as clean of a break with the stuff as possible. But what's even crazier, and what makes me discount all of those theories is that there was stuff he wouldn't let us have, that he kept in the storage facility. I still wonder what THAT stuff was.

I remember getting all of the stuff back to the store and when I had more of a chance to look thourgh it all, I wrote him an e-mail to thank him, and I asked him if we could at least give him store credit. He never wrote back.

For what it's worth, it's not like a lot of the material was that shocking to me. (Just as an example, at the store when we received another photo book of women urinating in public, I said real blase-like, "Oh yeah, volume 2. Whatever.") But it was shocking to be given this material freely and in such bounty without any exchange of money. When we got it back to the store I found a number of things in it that made me exclaim every time, "Oh my god! This cover would be awesome in an ad!" It took me months to archive everything and do all the research finding how much everything was worth. Even to this day we still have some of the stuff. I think this all happened around 2004 or maybe 2005 or so.

Even now, whenever somebody buys something from this weirdo stash of erotica and porny stuff, we refer to it as the stash from Mr. Anderson, and we always say it like the guys in The Matrix, when they go "MIST-er An-der-son."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Sound of No Hands Clapping

...Also! I hate it when I'm at any sort of live musical performance and they're like "Now audience participation! Clap your hands! Ladies in the house! Clap your hands! Now the men! Now clap your hands!" Clap your hands?! That's bullshit. I will decide when I clap my own fucking hands. In fact, unless I'm doing that sort of standard before and after audience thing you do before and after a performance, I DON'T DO HAND CLAPPING. That's lame. Hand clapping! Who do people think they are with preposterous imperative commands like that? Fucking motivational speakers?! BOOOOO.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Podcast Adventures and the Importance of Cultural Documentation

I just finished the second episode of the Quimby's podcast! I really enjoyed doing all the work on it, from the interviewing the guests, to the digital editing, as well as kinda monologe-y stuff in the introduction and conclusion that was silly and fun, then splicing everything together. I even enjoyed some of the problem solving about the uploading. For the stuff I need a little help with, I have a date with an Apple one-to-one support rep tomorrow to help me, specifically with some questions that have been popping up about configuring the data upload process, mostly in reference to getting the podcast on I-Tunes. (Apple One-to-One, the best $99 I've ever spent ever, ever, ever). I did get the first episode approved/uploaded successfully to I-Tunes already, but I'm intentionally not drawing as much attention to the podcast on I-Tunes until I get all the details the way I want them there. Right now you can listen to the podcast and subscribe to it at for streaming live or downloading individual episodes. You can play it on your I-pod or computer. (The first episode is there to, where I interviewed Margaret Hicks, who wrote a book called Chicago Comedy: A Fairly Serious History.)

So for this second episode, I interviewed the authors of The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats (Lake Claremont Press), Sgt. David J. Haynes of the Chicago Police Department and his partner-in-crime, blogger Christopher Garlington. They were fabulously entertaining and did an event for their book at Quimby's about 2 weeks ago. The book has outrageous stories from working cops, Chicago cop lore, recipes and a bunch of other fun stuff. The idea is that all the meals have to be under like $10.00 (or was it 5? I don't remember.) The book talks about all the regions of Chicago and suggests where to go and even comes with coupons. It's a lot of fun.

I was just ruminating about how ever since I can remember, as a kid up through now, I have enjoyed documenting things in written, audio and/or visual form. It might be a transcript of things that happened, it might be a set of photos from an event, or it might be a recording of something. What immediately springs to mind is how when I was a kid, I used to love, love, love recording sill things with my friends on a tape recorder then loving the playback too, mesmorized (and also tickled) by how we could create entertainment just by hitting record; as an adult I would say that hasn't changed much, except that instead of calling it "entertainment," I would upgrade "entertainment" to "art." But for the most part, I feel the same way about recording now: Turn on the record button! The performance and the documentation of it has started! This recording is a document of the moment! Of the event! Of the culture! Of the society! Of a moment in history! A summarization of all of history! Of humanity! At a place in time! As a summization of ALL time until now! A document of what we have evolved to! And as something universal about the human spirit and predicament! And so on! ...I think of when they flash the title of the movie American Movie right after Mark Borchardt says that he funds his movie by maxed out credit cards. The way Americans fund art! Debt! Art! Poverty is the existence of the artist! And so on! The point being, perhaps that what documentation is, at its best, is in some way an encapsulation of something in cultural history. P.S. Am I remembering the opening sequence of American Movie correctly?

In grade school I once recruited fellow classmates to read a transcript I made of a field trip we had taken. The teachers let me and my actors and actresses out of fourth period for a week! Then we performed it for all the other classes. In high school I remember forcing my friends to go out with me and pretend we were aliens documenting our findings (OK, that is pretty nerdy -- especially when I share this fact: I had just read all the Hitchhiker's Guide series). 20 years later, the third issue of my zine Caboose was mostly a transcription of a round table discussion with friends about the sociological intricacies of karaoke, our favorite pastime. And then a few years ago, I took photos of notable things my dad, a veterinarian, has had to surgically remove from animals. In Caboose #7: Britney Spears 101, I reproduced selections from my journal when I was sick. The idea wasto use it as a filter from which to view paralells in popular culture -- since when I was sick, Britney Spears was also making her way through a series of public meltdowns. In fact, just a few days ago I made a video specifically devoted to one evening's activity of Punk Rock Karaoke, which consisted of both video and photos, because I felt like somebody needed to do that before the awesomeness of the evening was swept away to the past. (A recording company that some of their karaoke versions they record and make them into actual karaoke files with graphics and they make their own videos?!! How much more awesome can that be?!!!)

I think it is both enjoyable and important to creatively process things I've watched, heard, read and otherwise consumed.

Isn't that what good journalists do? Just thinking aloud on that one.

Just recently, I had this idea for a recording series: So the Poet Laureat from 1997-2000 was Robert Pinsky. He founded The Favorite Poem Project, which recorded Americans reciting their favorite poems, but the catch was that it had to be a favorite poem you memorized. It couldn't just be someone reading it aloud -- you actually have to have it memorized. And it wasn't necessarily famous people doing it -- it was sort everyday people doing it, like insurance salesman who loves an Ashbery poem, to, among other things, show that Americans were fully capable of enjoying art. And they created this big database of it.

Well, I had an idea that's kind of a take on that. And it's this (stay with me here): I keep ending up in these social situations where I'm talking to someone about something and for whatever reason, they have some spiel that they've memorized from necessary repetitive recitation or just hearing something a  lot. Everybody I know has at least one of these types of things they've memorized, probably you too! Usually it's something you've memorized from some sort of blue collar job you've had -- for me, it's the consignment spiel I go into at work -- "So the 2 things I always tell people when they consign stuff is: 1.) Don't let more than 6 months go by without checking in on your zine or we may assume ownership and 2.) If any of your contact information changes, let us know so we can keep our records updated." I also have spiels I still remember from past jobs, like knife selling: "highly engineered thermo-resin material and made out of 4-40A grade steel!" You get the idea. For some people, whatever it is that they've memorized might not necessarily be work-related, it's just something they hear a lot, and they can deliver it in a super awesome impression which is always awesome. Last night, for example, we had a party and a guest did a hilarious (and spot on) impression of the voice on the intercom at the Village Thrift in her neighborhood. So my idea is to record people doing whatever their memorized spiel is. Everybody's got one. It's a cross between The Favorite Poem Project and Studs Terkel. What would I call it? Thoughts? Anyone? Anyone? Also, do you have something you've memorized and want to be included?

Or perhaps you want to take on this project? I'm pretty overcommitted as it is. I'd be happy record you recording someone else and present it back to you as some sort of statement about our humanity.