Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Freudianily Surreal Small Screen Oddity

Watching the biopic Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story I couldn't help but freak my shit out a little bit watching Sherilyn Fenn (as Elizabeth Taylor) and Ray Wise (as Mike Todd) get lovey dovey alternating with going to fisticuffs, which until Mark Todd was killed in a plane crash they (Liz Taylor and Mark Todd) had a passionate marriage. The biopic was a Twin Peaks reunion, only MORE surreal. In Twin Peaks, Ray Wise played Sherilyn Fenn's father's attorney. And considering that there's all this weirdo daddy daughter stuff in Twin Peaks for multiple lady characters and their fathers, this seemed Freudianily creepy and poetic. It's possible that the significance of how surreal this is can maybe less impressive if you're less of a Peaks fan, but if you are, these images are super surreal. Although Fenn and Wise don't share an immense amount of screen time together in Twin Peaks, the fact that they're both is it makes these moments in the Liz Taylor biopic weird and awesome and kind of pop culture-y-mashy-uppy in a way that is always interesting to me.

Fenn (Taylor) & Wise (Todd) being lovey.

Fenn (Taylor) Wise (Todd) fisticuffs!
Peeled off by Debbie Reynolds (Judith Jones)!

...and back to lovey...

What I really wanted to find was Liz Taylor's reaction to Fenn playing her because she was still alive when the movie was made. I have seen the Lindsey Lohan Liz & Dick movie and was surprisingly touched by it. Yeah, yeah, kitsch kitsch rotten tomato and all that but whatever! I liked it. So sue me. I did see that there was another Liz Taylor biopic with Helena Bonham Carter on BBC4 from what looks like about a year-ish ago. I guess I will have to go watch that one too. It's not even like I'm a huge Liz Taylor fan though I do have an appreciation for her. I did read her book Liz Takes Off about weight loss, and let me tell you...the recipes are super gross! I only got it because I like a preposterous celeb autobio. But I liked all the memoir-y stuff in it. I have seen a number of her movies so I guess, well, I'm noticing that as I lay all this out, I'm realizing that I guess I kind of know a lot about her now. How did that happen? Oh I know! My sister-in-law did some video installation art performance thing where she appropriated pieces from a variety of Cleopatra performances from different movie versions of Cleopatra, including Taylor's. This got me on a Cleopatra roll, where I added a ton of Cleopatra movies to my Netflix queue (this was before Netflix was prominantly streaming) but since my queue is so long, by the time the movies got there it was like three million years later, and I was all, "Oh, I see I was going through that Cleopatra phase when I put these in my queue." Putting stuff in my Netflix queue was like this reverse gestating period, where I'd put something in the queue and then by the time I "had the baby" (ie: the DVDs arrived) it was like forgetting about a baby I "conceived" (as in, getting interested in the movie).

But really that is all neither here nor there. The most important thing, what I REALLY found awesome from the Sherilyn Fenn-Liz Taylor biopic was how amazing Fenn was. She played such a wide range of ages in the film, convincing as all of them and so compelling to watch.

Well, OK, actually, the most, most, most important thing about this particular biopic was that I could capture this particular screenshot of Ray Wise as Mark Todd looking suitably creepy with two dogs:

One chants out between two pooches, dogs walk with me!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

On Not Wanting to Wake the House Up Singing WHAM into My Computer And Then Run of the Risk of Everyone Thinking I Am Insane

I just spent an hour researching which christmas song to record for one of my friends who is collecting recordings of friends doing ridiculous holiday things, and I've decided to get a bad Google voice mail transcript of WHAM's Last Christmas, and then perform the bad transcript, karaoke style, with the instrumental of the song. So I had to not only find a good instrumental version of the song, but also listen to the original song over and over, because I don't know the song all that well other than the chorus. This also means more than just listening to the song over and over, but then also, watching the video over and over.

It was one of those videos that had a plotline (of sorts); it's about the band vacationing in the mountains with a bunch of friends, frolicking in the snow, and then George Michael occasionally looking moody at some woman in the group who clearly he has a history with (and she looks a little like Lara Flynn Boyle circa 1990).

Everybody else looks like they're having a grand old time with throwing snowballs and laughing, but he intermittently looks sad, where it wouldn't be such a stretch to see him kicking at a pebble and going, "Aw shucks." I think maybe Andrew Ridgeley is supposed to be dating George Michael's ex, or maybe it's just a case of George and the lady broke up but Andrew is still friends with her. I kind of got the impression George Michael is supposed to be dating the blond woman in the video that apparently has his same haircut. It wasn't until I watched the video 17,000 times that I realized that there's supposed to be flashbacks happening. In one flashback they're happily traipsing in the snow and falling on each other laughing.
In another clip he gives her a bedazzled brooch. (And then in the present, the next year, post-breakup, even though the two of them have an icy sexual tension and they're surrounded by other people, she's still wearing the bedazzled brooch!)
In another flashback, he jovially enters the dining room carrying a cake adorned with sparklers while everyone claps. But oh! Such happiness is long past! Surrounded by all these people, if only they truly understood how unhappy George Michael is! He puts up such a good front until those moments when none are watching and the facade must fall! Quelle malaise! A graveyard of memories! Fragments shored against his ruins!

Also, there's a gondola ride.

Anyway, the problem with this recording project, is that I need to speak the lyrics so that I can get the transcript fed back to me so I can use those lyrics as the ones to sing. But at this late hour, I don't want to wake the people I live with, especially by creepily whispering WHAM lyrics into a phone, which is essentially serenading a robot over a phone. At 1:15 in the morning. And then on top of that, then singing WHAM at my computer. At then 1:20 in the morning.

I guess this project is going to have to wait until sunrise.

What's extra hilarious is that one of my friends went to Cambodia and sent me a whole mess of Cambodian karaoke discs, and I think this song might be on it, so it's sort of ridiculous that I would have to go find an instrumental on-line. It's just that I couldn't figure out how to rip the audio off of that disc -- for some reason since there's some region code issue thing where it doesn't work on my computer, even though it does on our DVD player, but then, not on our actual karaoke player. OH THE HUMANITY. Yeah, so, you know, life is tough all round.

All of this is to say, I will probably record this sometime this week and I'll post it when I'm done.

In other news! I finished zine about hair a split zine I did with one of my friends, which I'm bringing to Quimby's tomorrow. It's called Be Hair Now. So that's where to get it! I'm toying with the idea of making an Etsy site for my zines, but the thing is also, that you can get most of zines from, so I don't know if it's worth it. Thoughts, people? E-mail me at CabooseZine(at)gmail(dot)com if you have thoughts about this. Or thoughts about Last Christmas. Specifically these lines from it that are sort of preposterous:

A face on a lover with a fire in his heart/A man under cover but you tore him apart

I expect a 375 word essay on these lyrics on my desk tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tapping In, Setting Up, Petting Small Animals

Reading David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, a few quotes really stand out for me:

"Little fish swim on the surface, but the big ones swim down below. If you can expand the container you're fishing in-your consciousness-you can catch bigger fish." (p. 27)

The fish of course, being the creative ideas. I like this idea very much. The book, among other things, is his testament to the awesomeness of transcendental meditation, one of the things he cites as being a major help in expanding his own consciousness, tapping into the unified field, etc etc etc, which I am such a sucker for. Anytime somebody starts talking about "tapping into" something, I'm immediately on board. "I want to be tapped in! How do I get tapped in? Who can tap me in here? How do I get a tap? Is there a deposit I need to put down on this tap?" I've done pretty much everything I can think of for tapping in to some sort of consciousness expansion, including but not limited to: yoga, biofeedback, books, music, a variety of substances, lights, sensory deprivation, dance, visualization, occulty-seance-oujia-boardy stuff, petting small soft animals, lucid dreaming, stuff with candles…the time has come to try meditation Maharishi Mahesh Yogi style, which is different than the kind of meditation I always did with yoga. Because I am always DOWN FOR TAPPING INTO SHIT. That SHIT be tappin'. So I'm attending a TM lecture on Sunday if you want to tap in with me, for my Chicago friends. Hilariously, I keep fusing TM in my head with TMJ.

"There's a safety in thinking in a diner. You can have your coffee or your milk shake, and you can go off into strange dark areas, and always come back to the safety of the diner." (p. 39)

That makes pretty much everything that happened in the RR Diner in Twin Peaks make sense. The woods = scary. The diner = safe. Plans are discussed, delicious coffee and pie is eaten, characters have respite from abusive people in their lives...I've always loved diners. Not so much for the food, although I do enjoy an egg white omlette from time to time. Mostly I like them because many are open deep into the night and I find this very comforting. If I can't sleep, I know there is always a diner open where there are people there too, awake in the middle of the night, a little refuge in the night. I love sitting in them with friends for hours, talking, and getting jacked up on coffee, or just being there alone working on something, where they don't mind if I hang out there for a while.

"Life is filled with abstractions, and the only way we make heads or tails of it is through intuition. Intuition is seeing the solution--seeing it, knowing it. It's emotion and intellect going together." (p. 45)

I've never before been able to come up with a satisfactory explanation of what intuition is. Appropriately, I've only ever been able to explain what it is, well, intuitively. That is to say, I've always described it the way that everybody describes it, which is "the feeling in your gut about a situation." And ironically (or maybe well, appropriately ironically [what?]) this never seemed like a very good explanation, although it is the best that I feel like I or anyone else could come with. Full disclosure though: it's not like I've ever actually sat down and did research on the actual definition of intuition. But emotion and intellect going together = intuition. Yup, that's it. Right there.

"And the idea just sits there and festers. Over time, it will go away. You didn't fulfill it--and that's just a heartache." (p. 125)

This quote was actually referring to the importance of having a place (a "setup") to go work on whatever the idea is, when you get the idea for the thing (whatever the thing is). This place should facilitate actually being able to get to working on the idea that you had. But what is more intriguing about this quote on a higher level, is that over time, an unworked on idea just sits and if it doesn't get tended to, it goes away. Like anything that's not tended to, it goes away or dies: plants, pets, gardens, relationships. This resonates with me; there was a semester I was in school that I made my schedule unreasonably packed with classes, because I was concerned with finishing by a certain date. Early on that term, I had a dream about wilting and dying plants. It wasn't until many weeks into the semester that I realized that the reason I had the dream was because I was not tending to the human and creative parts of my self and my life. Those were parts that needed tending, caring, relaxing, enjoying and nurturing. And then after many years of this habit of ignoring that vital life-force type of stuff in myself, I suffered from some crazy health issues. Untended to ideas, life force, creative endeavors, relationships -- when you suffocate that stuff, that good stuff that doesn't come to fruition, it festers and then goes away. And then what you're left with is health issues, remorse, heartache and whatever else happens to you when you make those decisions.

I invite you to join me in tapping in, setting up, tuning in or out and dropping by.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This Charming Discussion About Fame

My interest in fame is such that on one hand, it clearly comes from that same voyeuristic mentality that is what powers Yahoo News. I'm not going to lie. Some of my Google updates include "Britney Spears" and "Celebrity Memoir." On the other hand, my interest in fame is that actually, what I'm really interested in beyond the gossip is the psychology behind the gossip. Or at least that's what I tell myself; I love good commentary about that voyeurism.

I LOVE when celebrities talk about their experiences with fame. It's so outside what most of us experience in the day to day. So I guess there's some redeeming quality to the "No, you unload the food out of the shopping cart for the grocery store cashier to ring up, I'm reading Star Magazine"-impulse. I mean, it's OK to read US Weekly if you say smart things about it, right?



I loved in Morrissey's book Autobiography, he had so much to say about his experiences with it. He's so thoughtful and wonderfully complain-y about it, as exactly I wanted him to be. I think the pithiest one was this one, on page 436:

"Fame can demand upon you a sudden wish to get along unseen, after those riddled years of wanting nothing at all but to be heard. It is important not to make matters of business the final word, and although eccentricity is now permissible--since your art has paid its dues in the swamp of self-torment and the scars of failures, even your mis-steps can suddenly seem honorable. You are, in any case, disqualified from what is known as 'normal' society (that is the society in which none qualify as being 'normal' since 'normal' doesn't actually exist) because you don't fit into anyone's drab philosophy. You have cast yourself in the starring role of an unfilmed despised-while-living-acclaimed-when-dead standard melodrama, and you are only inclined to discuss the rumors about yourself that you most like to have circulated. This is considered egotistical to anyone of famous platform, yet not to window cleaners and anonymous citizens to whom it also applies in precisely the same measure."

We have such high standards for our celebrities don't we? It's OK for the common person to worry what people think of us, but as non-celebrities, we have this image that when it's cleat that a celebrity worries about what people think of them they're considered egotistical. Like it's OK for a window washer to be concerned about their image but not for Morrissey? He's got a point there.

Also! I love, love, love the bit about how after years of wanting everyone to know who you you then get famous and then all you want is some privacy. That makes so much sense to me. It's also clear to me that that's why there are all those songs that pop stars record many albums or years into their career where they're all like, "Paparazzi! Leave me alone!" It's like Oh god, the novelty of this has worn off. I just want to like, go get my groceries now. Fame then becomes a handicap. I can't remember where I read this, but some writer was talking about how most people think it would be awesome for everybody to focus on them in the crowd in the way we do celebrities, but it's actually the exact opposite fantasy for folks who have some kind of disability. They're used to being the focus in the crowd but they don't want to be, and their fantasy is to actually be in a crowd and have no one notice them. Being conspicuous in a crowd when you have some sort of disability is like the shitty side of celebrityness. It's kind of crazy. It's like that scene in Little Man Tate where the genius kid who has all this focus on him is having a hard time with all the focus on him, and he has this dream where he sits down next to himself, and the self of him that's sitting on the bench, who is in leg braces and is disabled. It's a poetic and freaky scene.

I also love the bit about permissible eccentricity when you're famous, after you've proverbially paid your dues, but then you've also cast yourself as the despised-while-living-acclaimed-when-dead role, that somehow both of those things co-exist in the world of an arty public figure, I like this very much.

P.S. Some of my favorite parts of the book are when he's catty about other celebs that have done him wrong. Because that is some hilarious shit. And THAT DEFINITELY appeals to the Yahoo News part of my psyche. Read the stuff about Siouxsie. Then get back to me.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Capturing Spontaneity Adequately, Spontaneously, But For Further Spontaneous Marination

A photo posted by Quimbys Bookstore (@quimbysbookstore) on

I feel like I let too many moments of creative inspiration escape me. I think "I really should write that down, or follow up on that idea I had!" But if I don't act on it at that moment it's gone forever.

Nikki Sixx said in The Heroin Diaries: A Year In The Life Of A Shattered Rock Star that Rick Rubin bought him a tape recorder, because Nikki said he would wake up in the middle of the night with an idea that was amazing but he wouldn't write it down so he'd lose it. Hence the tape deck.

I should really find something that works for me in the same way. Too many moments of inspiration in my life go unfollowed up on. Or at the very least, too many good quotes I encounter go unwritten down, or at least assembled in one place for easy access.

Too many moments that lend themselves to potential creative elaboration go lost forever. I hear or read something awesome, and then because I don't do anything to document,  I lose out on the opportunity for further meditation on whatever the idea or quote is. These are potential opportunities for expanded revelation and celebration.

It's just that I don't usually take time out from the moment to stop everything and write down the quote or idea. It doesn't get recorded for myself in any way other then at the most a doodle in the book I'm reading next to the quote. More times then I care to remember, I haven't done anything to bookmark/record/notate/ the quote, idea, the revelation, the theory. For every ten awesome things I encounter, maybe I get around to relishing the awesomeness of the quote or idea or whatever maybe once or twice. So many missed opportunities for processing what I've encountered in a fabulous way.

I'm not talking about recording or capturing an experience by just taking a picture. Although pictures do capture amazing moments and things, the sign of a truly good moment is that there might not be anything actually capturing it, unless it's the type of thing that you just always have the tape running in some kind of media recording experience. I just mean, when I'm talking about missing opportunities for documentation, I'm not talking about pictures.

I should add though, that often, the mark of a really good party is that there is no documentation of it anywhere because nobody wants to stop the good time they're having to stop and take a picture. I think sometimes people take pictures not to actually commemorate the experience but to prove to to social media contacts that they're popularity (I'm partying at a party!) and having a great time, when actually, the exact opposite is true. When you're truly "in the moment," the last thing you want to do is stop and interrupt it. I know a party was awesome because there's no documentation of it anywhere.

When I say moments of missed creative opportunities, I'm talking about reading or hearing something awesome that I want to write down, maybe a snippet of something that as an isolated quote, is awesome. Or maybe I hear something really great in an interview or some dialogue in a movie or TV show, and I'm like, "That is sooooo true. I really should write that down that for posterity somewhere."

Sometimes what I feel needs to be recorded is an idea I have for a mashy-uppy sound art piece or a hilarious collage I could make, or maybe some zine article I could write about. (To be fair, there are only so many hours in a day, and it's not like I have the time to follow through on every single idea I have.) But still. I could do more.

Sometimes I make notes in the margins of things I'm reading. Most of the time it's not really even a note as much as a little star I put next to something, or underlines I've made. It'll be a part I think is particularly pithy, funny, worth marinating on or just resonates with me in some way. If I could illustrate, I would do visual representations of these quotes in the vain of fan geek art.

I've been inspired by a lot of fan geek art lately, artists making art inspired by and specifically about the movies/comics/shows they love. Sometimes artists illustrate something from a movie, like a scene, character or reoccurring image or object. Sometimes they do their own version of an ad for the movie or book, almost as if it's fan-made advertising which is an interesting phenomenon to me. Some people do fan fiction. Some people do fan art. And some people do fan advertising I suppose.

Specifically, I've been really inspired by all the Twin Peaks art people make. And then there's all the geek art where people really go to town with illustrations inspired by things in the geek community (video games, Star Wars, comics, etc.). If I had visual art talent, I would illustrate quotes I liked from books I read. I suck at drawing/painting, and even my graphic design skills while passable, are more hack in nature then creative in nature. I can parody and I can ape, but I can't create.

However, the least I could do is start actually putting the quotes of things I read that I mark up in one place. That I can do. Anthologize, document, curate, celebrate. Those are things I can do well. Comment on, make fun of, parody, theorize, satirize, feed through the Weird Al-ometer, these are all forms of hacking I can do that can sometimes lead to smart theoretical criticism, when I'm operating at my best. But that's definitely not always. When I can get my operate at that higher level, it's a very creative thing, but it definitely has to be inspired by someone else's creation (their song, their book, their movie, their TV show). I can't draw or create the original work itself, but I can definitely, once it's created, add layers of celebration of that work that manifest as multilayered icing of thoughtfulness of  their original work. I'm good at celebrating awesomeness, which when done well, is a form of creativity (or so I try to convince myself).

So I'm going to try to start actually writing in the things I note in the things I read, the stuff I think is mark-it-up-worthy. I suppose that's not unlike the concept of the sixteenth century commonplace books; they didn't quite have the printing press, so people just had to write down the things they liked in their own book, but if you had to write it down, you'd probably just write out he stuff you like. I guess that's kind of what TUMBLR is, really just people putting things they think are awesome in one place for easy access. I guess TUMBLR is kind of like one big digital sixteenth century commonplace book.

I lent Morrissey's Autobiography to a friend and he told me, "I saw what you marked in the book."

"Oh shit," I said. "I am such an asshole. How pretentious of me."

"No actually, I could see why you marked it. It was a pretty good quote," he responded.

So maybe I will share my notes! Maybe you will like the quotes in books I like too. I'll do the Morrissey book a different day, because I happen to have a different book sitting next to me at this moment. So here's stuff from the a book I read recently, which I will share momentarily.

First, a description of this book: Each book in the 33 1/3 book series focuses on an different individual album, and each title in the 33 1/3 series is written by a different writer. Sometimes the book is a look at the making of the album, sometimes it's more personal because it's about the writer's experiences with the album and why it's significant so that title might end up more autobiographical in nature. Sometimes the book is about the album's place in culture. Sometimes the book is fiction inspired by the album. The format is all over the place. The point is, every book in the series is different. I really only read a 33 1/3 book if it's an album I like, soo even though I have read a number of them haven't by any means read all of them. Not all of the books I've read in the series are good, but some are really really good. I enjoyed Marc Woodworth's book based on the Guided By Voices album Bee Thousand. His book was eclectic. It was kind of a cross between oral history, listener response and personal history. A lot of my favorite parts were ones in which people who had some involvement with the band, whether it was people who played in the band or who just recorded them, talked about what the recording sessions were like. If I could draw, I would illustrate these quotes from Woodworth's book in some way from the book like how some geek art does, like this wonderful piece by Jerod Gibson:

Anyway, from 33 1/3's Bee Thousand by Marc Woodworth:

p. 16-17, where the main songwriter/autour of GBV Robert Pollard talks about the writing of their song "I Am a Scientist":

What am I? What exactly am I? I's kind of a self-analyzing song. I'm a scientist studying myself. I'm a journalist recording and reporting what I find. I'm a pharmacist prescribing a medicine, a drug I could ingest to do something to help me find out. In the end, rock and roll's the religion, the source of redemption. The way out. With all the confusion of not knowing which direction to go in or what I really was during that time, rock and roll seemed to make it a little clearer. What am I going to do? Rock and roll's what I'm going to do. That song was the answer. That song was the decision.

The importance of finding your path and it being what guides you. And the redemptive power of rock!

p 21 (Robert Pollard, talking about recording):

It was important to me that we capture a song in the least amount of time from when I conceived it to when we put it on tape. That's the way to capture the purest essence of a song. When we were recording the songs for Bee Thousand, spontaneity was important to me. When you don't establish a set of ground rules and you don't care about mistakes, it's easy. Some of the best music is recorded exactly the way the way that it's conceived and created-it's all happening simultaneously. At any rate, there has to be a point when you say, "that's good enough."

I love that quote. It speaks to the importance of letting it flow without having that internal editor that seems to take all the fun out of any sort of artistic endeavor for me, something I battle with. When I'm operating at top level awesomeness on a creative endeavor I can sprint and flow and save the editing and bleeding for later. If only I could channel that method more often. (I've had to kind of train myself to do more sprinting and less bleeding to get the ball rolling.) I also like the bit in this quote about how at some point, when you're working on something, and you just have to say OK, it's good ENOUGH, though I don't feel like it's ever really gong to be done. I could fuck with something until the cows come home, but the thing usually has a somewhat arbitrary cut off point, most likely a deadline, where you're forced to stop working on it. Plus, you really CAN actually work on something too much and make it go from being awesome to horrible. You might add too much extra language if it's writing. Or if it's music maybe you add in too many noises and bleeps and blops and effects and layers. I always know when a song has been overproduced: they add horns. Oh shit, when they roll out the brass it's over. Or extra fake violin flourishes of something. And oh! You know who else overproduces their music with too many extra layers of bullshit? The Flaming Lips. Did we really need sleigh bells there? No. No we didn't.

p.40-41 from an interview with collage filmmaker Lewis Klahr talks about the song "Echos Myron"

In "Echos Myron" the lines "Most of us are quite pleased with the same old song" and "We're finally here and shit yeah it's cool" are powerful, autobiographical glimpses into GBV's reworking of the British invasion of their youth and mine, and their arrival at a place of greater visibility and recognition. I latched onto these as signposts of my own attachment to the past often at the expense of the present (what I call when describing my work "the pastness of the present") and when things are going better in my career there is a sense of arrival embodied by the Beatles and "A Hard Day's Night" of what one hopes the world will produce but of course never does. This little bit of this that Pollard got quickly spoiled him. For me, well, I thought I arrived several times only to experience the disappointing sense of the limited way this is true."

I love, love, love this idea of "the pastness of the present," and the past being embedded in the present. So many layers of awesomeness to unpack. Hoping the world will produce something as earth-shattering as something amazing from the past, but how rarely that does; the past has spoiled us. And then on a more personal level this quote is great because it describes the feeling of being so preoccupied with your own personal past that it overshadows the present. Sometimes the nostalgia is totally unwarranted, because you're just putting a rose haze over something that, if you were able to actually go back to the moment, you'd realize the past wasn't actually as good as you "remember" it being.)

That "pastness of the present" can sometimes overshadow our abilities to really enjoy the present, what's really in front of us.

And then one more layer of this quote is a more general sense, which is about artistic success. There's this notion of wanting to attain some level of success inspired by artists you've loved from the past, perhaps wanting to experience the success in the way they did. I love that he talks about the British invasion and also Hard Day's Night, as if the Beatles are a case study for this point. "Hard Day's Night" is basically about the Beatles being so famous that they spend most of the movie trying to escape their  screaming fans. Right? Wasn't that kind of also the plotline of SpiceWorld? I thought I was soooo smart when I made that connection, and then I saw that Roger Ebert wrote that in 1998.

"Making something from what we remember-making art from the memory of art that we love, making art that we love, making art from our own lives and imaginations-is not incidental to our being, but central to it."

Isn't this true? Whether the art you make is orignal or tribute to art you love, it all deserves a a place. And more then deserving a place, it's necessary for it to exist, to nourish our souls.

P.S. The idea of Nikki Sixx talking into a tape deck is hilarious, as if he was Agent Cooper, is the most hilarious thing to me ever. Like he picks up the tape deck and is like, "Diane, it's 3:16pm. What has 48 legs and 12 teeth? The front row in Alabama."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ray of Blight #6 Celebrity Cooking Now Available on iTunes or Podbean

The podcast I do with my friend Sacha has a new episode. You can listen to it here. But you can also subscribe to it on iTunes here. Or listen to it on Podbean here!

In this episode we talk about when celebrities have no business sharing their food expertise do so anyway. A small sampling of relevant subtopics in Ray of Blight #6 Celebrity Cooking: Cheeto Casserole * Recipes from a Bygone Era: Tuna + Egg * Phyllis Diller's Chicken Maui * American food sentiment: Ketchup, Sauce, Heat and Alcohol * Sacha's Theory: Everyone Has a Chicken Dish * ghost cookbook writers * cookbooks in the style of a fictional persona * married vs hitched * cracking an egg badly and spreading the mess to a wider surface area * falling asleep with a half eaten cookie * the superiority of shredded cheese* the part of the grocery store that's like Epcot Center * British Celebrity Chefs * The Beverly Hillbillies * judgment of Sacha's messy walk-in pantry, and much, much more. …Plus, we make Irene Ryan's Spicy Corn Bread, and it's delicious. It should be. There's an entire stick of butter in there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Previously On" Parodies I Made: Twin Peaks, Battlestar Galactica & Glee

So there's part of me that thinks that all I'm really capable of doing creatively is either a) making fun of things and/or b) making parodies of things. In some ways, I'm like a shitty critic who can't actually write original material but can totally make fun of other people's material. Shame on me! But then there's another part of me (perhaps a part of me that rationalizes things) that feels in making fun of a thing, or parodying it, I'm synergystically creating something new. Sometimes also, the parody comes from a place of appreciation for the source material. This push and pull negotiates territorial control in my brain and sometimes the "make fun of" wins over the "synergystically creating something new" or vice-versa.

On the entertainment podcast Ray of Blight I do with my friend Sacha, we do a segment called *NSYNC Fan Fiction, which is basically us reading aloud from a binder full of some anonymous girl's *NSYNC fan fiction that our friend found at a thrift store here in Chicago. Before we start the reading though, there's a recap of what's happened previously on *NSYNC Fan Fiction. At some point I started making these recap segments into parodies of "previously on" segments from television shows I enjoy. It amuses me that I could take these unrelated things like a boy band from the early aughts and shows like Twin Peaks or Battlestar Galactica and tie them in together. That stimulates the part of my pop culture psychic third eye consciousness that thrives on a good mash up. Edited lunacy, the best kind, especially when there's a poetry that evolves from the pairing of two opposites. Sometimes a hilarious poetry evolves from pairing two things, like when you're reading multiple books at one time and they start to fuse in your head, and then you start drawing awesome connections.

But I flatter myself that my edited lunacy is in any way poetic; sometimes the Weird Al part of my brain wins over the Greil Marcus part of my brain. Occasionally however, I can't separate the two, and those are my favorite moments.

So here are the recaps, in descending starting with the most recent.  I hope you like them!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Mirror (and i-Pad) Crack'd

So I was watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Kyle Maclachlan is on it. I'm watching him break mirrors and ipads and anything that has an image of himself and I can't help but think, WHY DOES THIS LOOK FAMILIAR?

...And then I realized, OH THAT'S WHY.
A good indication of where the third season of Twin Peaks might go?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Caboose #9 Now Ready For Mass Consumption

The most recent recent issue of my zine is available. It's Caboose #9: Masons On Masons, How to Start a Secret Society. You can order it here at for a mere $3. And here's a snippet from it at my website, if ya wanna a read a nibble from it.

My husband and I did a presentation on fraternal orders and forbidden knowledge, which then inspired this issue. But it wasn't just us doing some research on a topic we were already interested in and then writing it up. We used the pre-existing Freemason-influenced society structure as a template for making your own order. We looked at things like the OTO, Tongs, the Yakuza, the Knights Templar and more, to see what is effective and ineffective in terms of establishing your secret society, DIY-style. But lest you think it's just a brotherhood frat party, we spent some time thinking about things from a feminist angle too; we all know that "auxilary/supplemental" groups for the ladies who can't be invited to join really means "added later" which means "you can have your special boring separate but not equal tea party," which really means "oh yeah, we don't care about you because you're a woman." We also tied things in with some of our favorite mayhem topics like occult, steampunk, anarchistic philosophy, Crowley, Masonic goat humor (yes, it's a thing) and more. Of course there are some hilarious graphics, if I don't say so myself. Also, my dad is a Shriner master Mason and he showed me his fezzes.

Titles of pieces include: OG: Original Generative*The Order of the Pug*The First Rule of Rosicrucianism, Fight Club & The Catechism of a Revolutionary*The Illuminati: Really Just a Book Club* Name-Calling, Lawsuits and Personal Issues* Reaping the Benefits of Secret Societies: Financial Security, Self-Preservation & Philanthropy*Building Your Secret Society's Public & Private Spheres & Developing Pageantry*The Clockwork Universe, It's Overlap With Freemasonry & Steampunk Maker Culture: A DIY Manifesto*Considering Identity In the Formation of a Secret Society*Mirth & Mayhem: Activities In Your Meetings

Friday, September 26, 2014

Found NSYNC Fan Fiction #5 Now Available For Listening at Podbean and I-Tunes

I do a podcast with my friend Sacha called Ray of Blight and one of the segments is us reading from a binder full of found NSYNC fan fiction, which our friend Sarah found a thrift store.

NSYNC Fan Fiction started out as its own segment on Ray of Blight, but it has now been given its own life. All for you (and for us because we enjoy it so), here's what we do on each episode: we chronologically read aloud pages of one author's NSYNC fan fiction, from a binder found at a thrift store in Chicago. We have not read ahead, so you're experiencing each page with us IN REAL TIME.

You can download it for free on i-Tunes (and subscribe to it there too) or listen/stream/download it on Podbean.

Also! I've been blogging at the Chicago chapter blog for Dance Dance Party Party here. It's a one hour dance party I help run for ladies.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Zine Workshop

People always ask me if there are zine workshops. Seeing as how July is International Zine Month, I'm doing one on (this) sunday (July 13th) at 1pm at the Chi Prc. Discussion, instruction, demo, then talk about selling it. Boom.

This workshop is in conjunction with Quimby's Bookstore teaming up with The Chicago Publishers Resource Center (CHIPRC) to bring you zine-y activity. CHIPRC will be hosting zine events during the month.

In this is a monthly hands-on workshop offered by CHIPRC, learn a bit about zines and the local self-publishing community. Discussion, instruction, demo, then talk about selling it.

$3 donation. All skill levels and ages welcome!

The Chicago Publishers Resource Center (CHIPRC), at 858 N. Ashland Avenue, strives to build community and foster creativity by providing access to the space, education, and resources necessary to create and self-publish literary and visual work. And of course, if you make a zine there, you can always come consign it at Quimby’s! Join and support the center, and as a member you will receive discounts for using equipment, workshop registration and more. Or become a CHIPRC volunteer and give back even more. Their summer calendar features drawing activities, discussion, open studio and more! More info at

More info:

Event post on Facebook   and/or

Also, I'll be leading a zine reading club at the ChiPRC on July 24th!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

IZM Day 9: Write a Letter to a Zinester You Don't Know

July is International Zine Month! I'm doing a few of the ideas for selected days. Day 9 was to write a letter to a zinester you don't know. I was chuckling to myself while I did this example, standing in a towel with a toothbrush in my mouth. How hilarious would it be to receive this as a letter? There's something about this type of repurposing that gets to the heart of my sense of humor. It's like the slobs invading the snobs' party.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Internat'l Zine Month Day #7 Make envelopes for postal week

July is International Zine Month! I'm doing a few of the ideas for selected days. July 7th's suggested idea is to make some envelopes or postcards for international zine week. The very first edition of Stolen Sharpie Revolution had some envelope templates, for different size envelopes. Well, being that I have a job where I can take home old magazines, I use those for making envelopes. Scissors and glue stick are my main friends in this endeavor, although I did photocopy the templates in different sizes, then put those templates on cardboard so that I have cardboard templates I can just traace around, then cut, then fold, then glue. Voila! It's a lot cheaper and more fun when you're sending zines in the mail. I've made them as gifts for people too. I found some cheapo blank white stickers at American Science and Surplus, which I can use for the labels for mailing address and return address. I also like to buy old records and repurpose the lyric sheets to make envelopes, while the record sleeve I use for mailing (or putting in frames and displaying on the wall). Then with the record I heat it for a minute or two in the oven and then mold onto the inside of a glass bowl. Then when the vinyl dries I have a record bowl. I knew Bob Seger was good for something. And it isn't music.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

International Zine Month 2014!

July is International Zine Month! I'm picking some days and attempting to actually follow through on some of the suggested ideas for selected days.

We'll be blogging about it on the Quimby's Bookstore Quimblog too. We're going to do a window installation at Quimby's for July too. I'm looking forward to it!

July 1st's activity is "Make a Top 10 list of reasons why your love zines!"
Well OK then! In no particular order:
1. Zines are not usually done for financial profit, so there isn't a lot of advertising.
2. Since zines aren't published by big fancy magazine publishers, the writer is usually also the editor and publisher, so that means there is less interference from someone with a mainstreamy agenda.
3. Everything looks cool when laid out in scrappy black and white cut-and-paste style.
4. Zines are usually less expensive then magazines.
5. Zines can focus on charmingly specialized topics, like dishwashing, pirate radio, or how to make a haunted house.
6. When you meet other people who are into reading or publishing zines, they are usually really cool people.
7. As a zine publisher, you can publish as often or as little as you like, which I like to think of as the "I'll put out another issue when I'm damn good and ready" publishing schedule.
8. When you meet someone new you can school them in everything they need to know about you if you just hand them your zines and say, "Read these."
9. There is no intermediary editor! What you say goes!
10. If you publish a zine you can trade with other zine publishers for theirs, and it's a great way to make friends.

More about International Zine Month at

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dance Dance Party Party Update Update

A month (or is it two? or three? I can't remember) I took over as one of the "den mothers" at the Chicago chapter of Dance Dance Party Party (DDPP). It's this one hour dance party for ladies only. No boys, no booze, no judgement. You dance around however you want, a different woman DJs every class, and it's the best workout ever. It's $5 a class. You come in your workout gear, the lights go dim (except for some disco lights), and you just dance, like the way you dance when you're a little kid with your friends. There aren't any instructors or rules. There's a warm up song, a cool down song, and there's music to dance to in-between. And that's it. It's on wednesdays, 7-8pm and on sundays 4-5pm at the Perceptual Motion Dance Studio at 4057 N. Damen.

Being a "den mother" for DDPP means I help with organizing, blog posts, setting-up-style duties, organizer-y type of stuff etc. I DJ under the mixmaster moniker MC Escher. Here's a link I put up on the DDPP blog to a spot where you can download my most recent mix. I think it makes for a perfectly timed workout, whether you're dancing around, going running, or whatever it is that you do (if you do). I do also have some links to a few previous mixes here on my website at

*Note! During the summer, the sunday sessions go from being every sunday to every other sunday, so check the DDPP social networking platforms for updates.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chicago Zine Fest 2014 Panel Transcript

For transcript of the panel, see
I moderated a panel at the 2014 Chicago Zine Fest called “In it for the Long Haul: A Discussion on Longevity in Zines with Cindy Crabb, Tomas Moniz, and Alex Wrekk. Moderated by Quimby’s Bookstore’s Liz Mason.” Alex does Brainscan zine, Tomas Moniz does Rad Dad zine, and Cindy Crabb does Doris zine. Of course, they do so much more as well, but that’s just a quick overview. The transcript was done via Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART). So speakers’ names are not noted in the transcripts, and there are a parts missing if the sound wasn’t picked up clearly. Also, there are full on technology translation mistakes. But in spite of all this, I think the transcript is enlightening and entertaining because these folks have a lot to say. I had fun doing the panel and loved talking to these thoughtful, creative artists. Click here to read the transcript.

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Discussion With Jenette Kahn at the Chicago Humanties Festival

I was the interlocutor for a discussion with Janette Kahn at the 2013 Chicago Humanities Festival this past fall, in one of the auditoriums at the Art Institute of Chicago. She was super gracious, totally charming, and of course extremely articulate. Now she produces movies, but she was only in her late twenties when she took over as publisher for DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman). She was with DC for 27 years! And as a woman in comics, I can appreciate how difficult that must have been, especially because she started there in the 70s. Ms. Kahn was one of the founding forces behind DC's imprint Vertigo (known for cool series like Sandman, V For Vendetta, The Invisibles and others) and was also a real advocate for creators rights. In addition to all this, before she was at DC, she knew all about publishing because she started the magazines Dynamite and Kids, which as a zine publisher and purveyor I can also appreciate.


P.S. A good site to read about the struggles of gender in the comics industry, I suggest checking out