Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kansas City K is next to Kansas City MO

I leave today for the HEAR Now Festival in Kansas City. This is what the folks at the National Audio Theatre Festival are up to now. The week-long workshop, where I had been on staff for about a decade, ended it's long run after last year. HEAR Now is more like a film festival for audio theatre, although there is a workshop (101, for beginners) and several live performances by some of the top narrators and voice actors in the country.

I'll be teaching and performing live sound effects, as well as performing a little poetry this time. They are taking a more holistic approach to "audio theatre." Spoken word or audio art, whatever you want to call it. I am looking forward to some good BBQ too!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dont Abandon Me!

Whew! Almost forgot about this thing again. I am a terrible blogger.

Anyway, I spent the weekend laughing my ass off at the Limestone Comedy Festival here in B-ton. I tell ya, whenever my attitude gets all "one-horse-town" about Bloomington, something like this comes along and reminds me why I love calling it home. Yes, other places have comedy fests and other cool events. The great thing about events like this in Bloomington, though, is that people actually care about their participation in it. Not all B-ton events go down that way: there are scenes and scenesters whose goal is to be seen regardless of what's happening on stage. But man, does this town ever rise to an occasion.

* * *

I have to comment on the NSA surveillance thing. So much has been spewed about it but I think people are ignoring 2 important points. 1) Corporations have been compiling dossiers on web surfers and emailers for nearly two decades now, and in turn are marketing products to you all.the.time based on what you buy and where and when. Remember when spam was such a problem? I have noticed that there are *more ads* not fewer, everywhere I go, now that corps can tailor your web experience to get you to go and buy what they want. Or at least feel they can. So now that the gubmint has access to this info ... well I am having trouble coming up with any more rage about data mining stuff I put online. O I'm upset about it, but only marginally more so. Can't yet tell if that is a good or a bad thing. Point 2) You can't be 100% secure and enjoy 100% freedom. The internet was set up to be like the old west: largely self-policing. But as USAians are the big players (so we say of ourselves) in things online, of course we are the ones to try to put the genie back in the bottle. So the fact that there are now little web crawly things parsing my data for future use ... well didn't we see this coming? In sci-fi for decades, sure. But isn't this what everyone fought against the "computer age" about? Yet here we are, not overnight. Not by accident. This has been coming for a long time. It is going to take a hell of a long time to undo it, also not overnight.

Lastly, I had a depressing discussion with a poet colleague the other day about the next bubble to pop: higher education. Briefly, student loans became popular in the 80s and 90s because it was an easy way for colleges to admit more students and make more money you and I as taxpayers had to underwrite. So now that there is no money anywhere, regardless of how many degrees one has or what job one is able to get, of course uni admins are rewarding themselves, and jacking up tuition, and spending more money on new buildings to attract new students. This is a mess, and it's going to take at least the rest of my lifetime and probably longer for it all to level out: for homes and college degrees and admin salaries and peon wages to resemble reality again. Until then, I expect shortages, "austerity measures," and even higher bonuses for fat cats. And I expect to work my day job until I'm 80, unless they RIF me first, which seems likely in order to make way for the next underpaid generation. Humph.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Lots of finally around here

I had a big poetry weekend. Inching closer to cover completion for Hot Type Cold Read, my new joint coming soon from Chatter House Press out of Indy. I connected with photographer Shannon Zahnle and letter-press artist Kim Ransell of The Collective Press. Got something appropriate, sharp, old school, gritty. Can't wait to see the final. REALLY can't wait for it to be out. Poet-friend Tom Hastings once told me "Well, you're always working on a manuscript," and I am very eager to get fully into the next one.

Called a double-header Sat night at the Cardiac Arena. Good fun! And that's kind of where I'm at with the roller derby thing these days. It is not so much a "part of my life" as it is another spoken word-type gig, like the Encyclopedia Show, though I feel more emotionally invested in that venture. Still, I will likely be traveling to Philadelphia with the league in Oct.

And the Reservoir Dogwoods FINALLY recorded the album we've been talking about for over a year. Basically just laid down all the group/trio/duo pieces we've conceived over the past 4 years, but we got a good, studio recording, rather than a few crappy field recordings I've made here and there. Look for that to drop in the next couple of months. It's a nice capstone: Joe is moving to Chicago later this year, so the fate of the 'dogs is uncertain. Continue as a trio? Replace him? Just have "reunion" shows now and again? Regardless, we'll likely not write any or much new material as a group, so it's good to have a document of where we've been and what we've accomplished thus far.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Now Playing!

Now through Thurs, the Firehouse Follies are featured on the Fringe Festival Atlanta podcast! It's "Patchwork Radio" (one-hour edit) starring Gary Sandy and Diane Kondrat.

(I also did some sound effects work on "William's Leap for Freedom," recorded live in 2010 at The National Audio Theatre Festivals audio theatre workshop and produced by SueMedia Productions.)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Decoration Day

My mom still celebrates Memorial Day the old-fashioned day, as if it were still called Decoration Day. I know, it's supposed to be about dead soldiers, but we weren't a military family. Without googling, I recall D-Day as something that came about after the Civil War, which was the first time in the US there were so many new graves to commemorate at the same time. The deal was you would start growing your annual flowers in the spring, and by the last week of May they would be ready to cut and place on graves. So in many small communities, women would harvest armloads and baskets full of fresh-cut flowers, all at once, and take them to the nearest cemetery and decorate all the headstones.

At least that's how it was passed down to me.

I don't garden. I have a couple of unkillable aloes in the house, a couple of scarlet begonia plants I picked up at Menards in hanging baskets on the porch, and a hydrangea I got from Mom I desperately need to get in the ground before it dies. But I don't really grow anything, due to my overall laziness and lack of interest.

But on many, many D-Days in my youth, my mom and sisters (Dad was never into it) would load up the family truckster with flowers (mostly fake) and do the cemetery tour, as I called it. Usually Ladoga (the Kellers), Waveland (the Brewers), and maybe one other I don't recall the name of out in the middle of cornfields, probably for my great-grandparents on Mom's side (the Paynes), plus a trip to the Keller farms about half a mile apart from each other, though we don't really fraternize with Leon's (my uncle) family anymore and my grandparents' farm I recall from my childhood Mom now rents, so we can't really go in the farmhouse, just tour the land a bit.

Mom is still around, and Dad. My sisters are too but they are doing their own thing these days, mostly kids and separate lives, etc. I am my own person as well. I don't regret not doing the cemetery tour anymore, although I'm not intentionally boycotting it. It just hasn't happened in some years. I was always kind of dragged along like I often was: too young to protest, though I clearly wasn't interested. Still it gave me perspective men in my family lack: the grief of the womenfolk and how they handle loss and remembrance.

For a time, roughly my teen years till about 27 or so, I was really depressed, about a lot of things but I think partly because I was caught between these worlds: the stoic Midwestern dad world and my grave-decorating mom world. I did not know how to handle my own emotions, at least partly because my role models weren't too clear to me. Not to point fingers, that's just how things were. And I grew and worked my way out of that, and today feel grounded and happy to have down days and also feel cautious anytime I get too "happy."

There's a lot of commentary today, everywhere, about today. Memorial Day. It's for the soldiers. It's the first day of "summer." It's yet another holiday stolen from blacks (slaves). It's a time to cookout. Or decorate a grave. Or go to the beach. Or or or.

My house is quiet. I had a great show yesterday. My cat is a useless snoozing lump one chair over. I don't feel like perseverating over the dead, or cooking out, or going to the beach. It's just after 1p, I rose late and had a big breakfast. If I accomplish anything today, I might mow the yard. Or at very least put my sound effects gear away, as it is strewn all over the house.

Actually I think the one thing I will accomplish today is plant that hydrangea. That would be a nice gesture.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The lucky guy who gets to ring the gong

I went to a reading at Boxcar Books on Wed. Didn't think I would make it, but rehearsal for the next Firehouse Follies was at the MCPL practically next door and ended just in time to get a good seat. On the bill: Chris Mattingly and Matt Hart, both very good, very different poets. Chris is more in the staid-detached-descriptive mode, while Matt has longer, fiery, evocative lines.
Tonight I'm checking out Joy Shayne Laughter reading at Sweet Claire Bakery here in B-ton. She's a great writer and a wonderful performer of her own work. It's part of the Lemonstone reading series organized by the Writers Guild at Bloomington.

Sunday is the next WFHB Firehouse Follies. Word is I am heavily featured. Good god, they're making me sing a song ... about sound effects. Tune in for all the shenanigans!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


So. My last post here was nearly two years ago. Why bother coming back?

Facebook. It's great for networking and for connecting and events and self-promo. But all I ever post there is OPC, other people's content. I don't like it for blogging or online journaling. Anything I take time to write is overwhelmed by the data smog of the feed. Which is not a bad thing! I like the stream and the tidbits friends and "friends" post.

And I'll continue to do the self-promo thing there. Here, though, I want to return to first principles: online journaling, brain dumps, "what I'm up to" in prose form rather than simply posting an "event" or liking or whatever. A little customization is what I'm after.

And good god, don't let 2 more years elapse before the next update. Yikes.