Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top 6 TCM Showcases from Past Readings

Two Cookie has always been an un-formatted show. I never ask guests to read to a theme or write something for the night. Instead, I’ve always tried to create showcases as an underlying way to tie the show together. Even building showcases around a topic, readers were never asked to have their performance fit it. In preparation for our sixth year, I wanted to remember the 6 of the different showcases TCM hosted over the years.

1)    All Zinester Reading
This has been one of my favorite readings to hold. I started the series as a showcase for zinesters. The first TCM was very zinester heavy. When I began booking readings after that, I made sure there was a least one zinester, comics artist or self-publisher in the lineup. As the years went on, I tried to align TCM zinester readings as fundraisers for Chicago Zine Fest. It was always great to have readers share new work that would be debuting at the fest. And once even, I was able to encourage a zinester that was in town for the fest to be part of that month’s reading.  The biggest challenge though with booking zinesters is that eventually you cycle through those that read in public. That was a challenge that made work hard to keep an eye out for new faces, finding new zines and contacting the writers, and making sure the zine community has an outlet at TCM.
2)      Spectacular All Female Showcase
I started thinking about those really lame bar promotions offered as Ladies Night. I didn’t want the reading to ever have to play to some cheap ploy to get people to the reading (well, other than that we already give out cookies). It wasn’t that all TCM readings had no women or self-identifying as women on stage. I simply used this type of showcase to book readers that were already part of the community. These readings were always packed and provided a great show. I remember on our second all female showcase, Megan McGrath read a story about her love of accordions and then finished the reading by giving one away to an audience member. I doubt any other reading series in Chicago can say that happened during a reading.
3)    Cookies and Cake
Much like the all zinester readings, this was our nod to the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo. These readings showcased only comics artists and illustrators while doubling as a fundraiser for CAKE. It really opened up the series to the comics community. Almost immediately after the first Cookies and Cake reading, I had comics artists interested in reading at the series.  I know Dan the bartender at the Hungry Brain used to get a chuckle out of many comics readers. I think the audience really enjoyed these readings, if not for the lineup, for the cake on hand to go along with the free cookies.
4)     Industry Night 
This lineup consisted of those who supported Chicago literary, arts and entertainment through their writing jobs or organizations. The readers worked as journalists, editors or bloggers for their job. But their job never allowed them to present their personal/private writing. The balance of writing for someone else and writing for yourself seems a tough line to tow. This night proved that both can be done without a lack of quality and creativity.
5)    Writers in Teaching 
Much like Industry Night, this reading showcased those writers that have a dual role, being writers as well as educators. The role of teachers is vital to society. And as we know here in Chicago, teachers haven’t gotten much respect from the city government these past few years. Like all of the other specialty TCM showcases, I simply asked upon writers that were already in the community. It was pretty easy then to gather teachers to share their talent. I invited a variety of teachers ranging from higher ed institutions, CPS and private school. I only did this once because as easy as it was to find readers, the event was held on a school night.
6)      Polish reading
This one was a little self indulgent (actually all these shows are for me as host and curator booking readings I love to see). I have a Polish heritage, one that I didn’t grow up embracing. I took the stage name Johnny Misfit as a way to make pronouncing my name easier. I started noticing that there were quite a few writers of Polish decent reading around the city or that were friends of the series. I contacted about a dozen readers to be part of this event knowing I wasn’t going to get them all to participate. The end result was one that went down in TCM history. We had homemade kolache cookies, a song about the White Sox and the south-side, and some poetry read in Polish. Dziękuję!


Well thanks for reading. If you had been part of any of these readings, feel free to leave a comment or email us at twocookieminimumATgmail with your thoughts. Or, if you would want to be part of one of these showcases in the future let me know! We can work on seeing if any should be scheduled this year.

Leading up to the first TCM of 2016, I’ll be posting some more lists, memories, and insights on our past and what has made the series stand on its own. Until then, stay warm.


Johnny Misfit 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

TCM 2016, a look ahead


Happy 2016 from Two Cookie Minimum. What will this year have in store for the series? Here’s a run down of what you can expect. 

1) We’ll be back at Comfort Station for the spring and summer, keeping the same schedule as last year, the second Tuesday each month at 8pm.
Mark your calendars for 2016 dates:
April 12, May 10, June 14, July 12, August 9, and September 13.

2) Our Six Year Anniversary will be in July! Happy Birthday to us.

3) Issue 3 of Cookie Crumbs will be out. This issue will include TCM’s two artists: Alex Nall handling the bulk and Eric Bartholomew who sat in for half of last year’s readings. 

4) TCM reading dates coincide with local events such as the Chicago Zine Fest in April and Chicago Alternative Comics Expo in June. Look for us to promote self publishers in celebration of these community festivals.

5) There will be cookies.

And I’m sure there will be more highlights to look forward to. Check back here for updates and any information.

Thanks,

Johnny Misfit

Monday, December 28, 2015

Two Cookie Holiday Reading Unwrapped

Its surreal to think that one year ago, Two Cookie Minimum (TCM) was holding its last reading at the Hungry Brain. We’ve had a great 2015 to follow. Closing our year, there was one last reading, our December holiday celebration, at Chicago Publishers Resource Center (CHIPRC). This was the third Chicago venue that has hosted the series. Look for more one-off readings there in the future. The entire event was a blast. We had beer donated from Revolution Brewing. Everyone thru the door picked a number for surprise present, things like literary journals, CHIPRC zines, and chachkis like beer cozies and silly putty. And of course there were cookies.
Julia Borcherts!

The real highlight like any TCM is always the lineup. When I form a reading lineup, I hand select performers that I believe are extraordinary in their medium and that I want others to appreciate their work. This lineup exceeded those expectations. I was told by a few series regulars that this was one of the best shows they’ve seen. Its feelings and remarks like this that keeps me holding the series going.

The night started out with a reading from Julia Bortcherts. She read at the very first TCM reading back in July 2010. He story, a work of fiction, centered on a woman’s failing relationship and how she would have to find a job to pay the bills, possibly as a dominatrix. Julia’s background as a journalist allows her to research what makes a good story, which made sense in the story’s attention to detail about the dominatrix dungeon. Julia always captivates the crowd, pausing for laughter and pacing her reading, because she’s such a pro (she was a cofounder and hosted the series Reading Under the Influence about 8 years).

Celia Perez!
Next up was zinester Jim Joyce. He’s a fav at CHIPRC. The first public event at CHIPRC was a reading tour Jim put together. He has a very unique performance style where its not only a reading, but intentionally part stand up. Jim didn’t read tonight though. Instead he screened a Halloween inspired short film, The Night of the Blood Zine, that he co-wrote and directed. Being it was Jim, he gave running commentary during the short, supplementing the already funny DIY nature of the film.

Celia Perez read next, sharing a personal story about Buena Noche growing up in Miami. It was a touching narrative that looked back on her father’s dream of roasting a pig for Christmas diner, and how it unraveled. Like all great zine writers, Celia allows the story to get very personal as her writing invokes nostalgia and love for times long since past.

Dave Reidy followed, reading from his newest novel The Voiceover Artist. He noted that when he read at TCM back in 2013, he read a piece from the book when it was only a draft. This time, he read a different part, the introduction of the main character in the book.  I hope people check out his book (as he is one of my favorite short story writers).

To close the night was one of Chicago’s best comics artists, Gina Wynbrandt. She was joined by her friend J Pulos. Every time I’ve seen her read, it brings down the house. This was no different, a humorous comic about booty calls and the reverie she draws herself a part of. The imagined journey as a bounty hunter takes the character of herself to a gentleman’s club, a beach and a swamp, chalk full of sexual encounters and a ton of naked dudes. Gina might hold a Guinness Book record for drawing the most number of hard dicks in one comic. It was that good of a reading.
Dave Reidy! 

This was one of the great TCM lineups and provided a fun last community gathering of the year. The memories from 2015 and those over the past 5 years will carry the series into the next year. Here’s to wishing it’ll measure up to everything we’ve done in the past.

Have a great new year.

Johnny Misfit  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Two Cookie Minimum Holiday Celebration ends 2015

The Two Cookie Minimum series had a great 2015, celebrating our fifth anniversary and releasing the retrospective Cookie Crumbs zine, plus finding a new spring/summer home at the Comfort Station in Logan Square. To cap things off, Two Cookie will end the year with one final reading on Friday, December 11, 8pm at Chicago Publishers Resource Center 858 N. Ashland Ave.  

The lineup includes Gina Wynbrandt (Best American Comics 2015), Dave Reidy (author of Voiceover Artist on Curbside Splendor), Celia Perez (zinester/librarian), Julia Borcherts (freelance writer with work seen in the Redeye, Chicago Reader), and Jim Joyce (zinester/teacher). Hosted as always by Johnny Misfit. 

There will be a $10 cover which includes:
  • a wrapped holiday present (which could be anything!?!), 
  • free copies of Cookie Crumbs zine, 
  • a drink ticket for beer provided by Revolution Brewing (while supplies last)
  • and of course, cookies

The event will be 21+ to drink. Door proceeds will go to support CHIPRC. 
Flyer image drawn by Jill Summers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wake me up, September has Ended for TCM

This past Tuesday Sept 8 was the last TCM of the summer. The lineup was solid with a mix of about everything you'd expect at one of our readings: comics, poetry, fiction, a shadow puppet show, zines and of course cookies. The readers all excelled at their craft and the series was grateful they shared their time with all of us. I'd like to recap a bit now about the night and our year at Comfort Station.

The comics reading of Marnie Galloway shows work so polished and crisp, with a playful creative nonfiction story and a smooth and touching delivery in the reading. What a pro. This is her tattooed arm hard at work moving between panels.

In the comic Hard Decora by Kamilha Jones, she wonderfully mixed anime over landscape photos (which she mentioned where snapped around Logan Square, what a coincidence). This was the first time she shared this new work with an audience and we were so glad she did!

Erin Nederbo's short story about carnival season, those pop up neighborhood festivals with kids rides and bad hot dogs, was appropriate for this time of year. Her story captured so well the life of residential South Side Chicago, I always forget she's from northside neighborhood Jeff Park. The fiction was vivid, painting the image of her characters so they could be memorable after we left, something only great fiction can do.

It was awesome to welcome back the sisters Summers, Jill Summers and Susie Kirkwood for a shadow puppet show. The accompanying story read was by author Chris Bower (from his new short story collection that was also illustrated by Susie). Our venue was a great location to have such a show. Its always an amazement for our audience to see how this visual storytelling adds another dimension to the story being read.


It was also special to invite long-time TCM supporter Collin Brennan to read. He plans to move to LA this fall and this was my way offer thanks and goodbye at the same time. His poems played with form: a letter addressed to Tragedy; a poem about love and loss with Chicago at its center; a personal recollection of his father and the frailty of life. We'll miss him, but know he'll be back. Or maybe he'll host his own series in LA?

Another treat, besides the cookies, was to have not one, but two hands working to document the reading through illustration. Our resident artist Alex Nall was joined by last month's fill-in Eric Bartholomew. Both have their own style and eye for capturing the scene. We'll collect their works for next year's Cookie Crumbs zine. Can't wait to see this work!

As I close out the year, I not only wanted to detail and thank this month's readers, but all those who made our 2015 happen. It was so good to have our regulars follow us to our new venue people like our artists Alex and Eric. It was a treat to welcome all the readers and attendees from LUMPS zine who I invited as readers this year, adding new faces and sharing their talents. And its always comforting to know members of the zine, comics, and indie lit community follow us: Violet Fox, Matt Davis, Neil Brideau, Julie Koslowski, Ben Spies, Collin Brennan, Jon Drawdoer, Gina LoBianco, Kerri Gannon, Elizabeth Harper, Todd Herskovitz, Dan Pogo, Ed Blair, Noami Huffman, and others I am forgetting to mention. Most have read at the series and its great to see that support. Thanks for my family support: my sister Sarah for making homemade vegan cookies and my wife Jill for performing, attending and kicking my ass to have good lineups. And thanks to everyone how has been part of the audience. You all are what makes this series thrive. Now into our 5th year, you all help sustains us. So thank you all.

Lastly, TCM was so thankful for the Comfort Station, letting us call their space home this summer. Thanks to Raul from their Comfort Films program who was our lead, introducing the space each month and making sure we had all the tech under control. TCM has been fortunate that every venue we've called home has been so welcoming as well as historic to the city. We look forward to coming back to the Comfort Station for another year next spring. Things look good and I'll share spring 2016 information later this fall when all the scheduling is worked out. Until then, our sponsor CHIPRC will host an end of year reading in December. More to come on that.

Again, thanks for 2015. Be back soon.
Best,
Johnny Misfit

TCM Summer Ender (opps don't mind my finger in the way).

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Ends the TCM Summer Season


Two Cookie Minimum ends its summer Tuesday September 8th as its our last reading at the Comfort Station in Logan Square for the season. Ending summer on a good note, this month’s lineup will showcase various styles of storytelling from visual to poetic.  Readers include:
Marnie Galloway, comics artist and organizer of CAKE.
Kamilha Jones, illustrator at Hard Decora and contributor to LUMPS zine.
Collin Brennan, music journalist, zinester and poet.
Erin Nederbo, co-founder of Encylcopizzeria and host of Reading Under the Influence.
Chris Bower, author of Little Boy Needs Ride will be accompanied by a shadow puppet show from Jill Summers and Susie Kirkwood.
Hosted by Johnny Misfit.

There will be free cookies per usual.
Comfort Station  2579 N Milwaukee Ave. Doors 8pm, reading to follow after mingling and cookie eating.  The series is sponsored by Chicago Publishers Resource Center, located in West Town at 858 N. Ashland. CHIPRC’s mission promotes the local publishing community. Donations will be accepted at the door benefiting CHIPRC.

What does this mean for the future of Two Cookie?  We will be seeking some pop-up readings this winter. As for next spring 2016, we'll be looking to be back with monthly dates. Check back in for any info. We appreciate your support through the years! See you next week for this reading.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August Among Us - Two Cookie Reveiw

This month's reading was another great time, one for the books, all that. We had some amazing visuals thanks to Vickie Segovia, some forward thinking comics by Andy Burkholder, a glimpse into one's process thanks to Andy Glass's reading, and welcomed an old friend Mairead Case as she was visiting Chicago. This is the type of reading that defines the series: friendly, informative, and entertaining. If you've been to a Two Cookie, that should be pretty present. If not, you have one more chance this summer to see us at Comfort Station, Tuesday September 8th. Drop by and let us know that our short stint in Logan Square was a good one.

The photos
August New Cookie Crowd!
L to R: Mairead Case, Vickie Perez-Segovia, Andy Burkholder.




P.S. This was one of the first readings in a long time that Two Cookie regular Alex Nall could not attend (visiting Ireland or something, sheesh). Although we do not have his drawings from the night, alas another 2CM regular Eric Bartholomew picked up his sketch pad and filled in. We hope to get these doodles and drawings into a future 2CM zine. But for now, here's Eric's rendering of comic reader Andy Burkholder.