Monday, May 16, 2016

Q: May We Share Some Two Cookie Min Pix W/ You

Oh course the answer to our post's subject is YES!

Pop Up Tarot presented by VH1duh
The May TCM reading was chalk full of firsts for us and probably for some of our readers too. What we mean is easier conveyed into a list. This was the First time we had:
- All readers used visuals and tech
- A husband and wife read on the same night
- An entire reading was done in Spanish
- Live Tarot Readings
- Use of a Slide Projector
- A reader wear a cow hoody equipped with udder

Here's how those firsts broke down.
Shieka Lugtu opened the night with a performative reading mixing illustration, comics, animation,
creative non-fiction, memorized text and the aforementioned cow hoody.
Raul from Comfort Station gets Sheika's tech ready for the reading.
Mike Centeno followed reading his comic Canned which detailed how a character dealt with being fired from their job. Many spot on accents were used in the reading of his work.

Anna Jo Beck was next. Her slides were advanced by husband Mike Centeno. She read from two new zines that were based on her practice of learning to speak Spanish. Anna's second reading paired illustrations with humorous Spanish captions.

For Anna, Learning Spanish is difficult, but reading is easy when husband Mike advances slides.
Closing out the reading was a good TCM friend and zinester Jim Joyce. He partnered with Rachael Zalutsky and her friend Joe for some live Tarot readings. Jim manned a slide projector flipping through updated illustrations of the Tarot deck (which included Dee Dee Ramone, Studs Turkel and Ira Glass). Rachel then read various audience members their fortune while Joe strummed some background accompaniment (and at times a little ditty to go along with the fortune). The three person reading had the audience attentive, laughing and hopeful they wouldn't be picked to have their fortune read.

Jim hunches below this slide projector
Two Cookie prides itself on the variety of readers and performances that share their work each month. This event was one for the TCM history books. We might never see this many paths cross at one reading again. But who knows. Here's to next month.

Johnny Misfit
(Host and curator)

What You Missed at the First Two Cookie of 2016

LtoR: Michelle Marcellus, Megan Kirby, Jeff Zwirek, Sung Yim.
April 12 was the first Two Cookie of 2016. Instead of a long rambling summation, I thought this photo collage would help explain how the reading went. Can't wait to see what this season brings!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

May We Present Two Cookie Minimum

 'Tis Spring, no? We’re not waiting for the weather to tell us that. Two Cookie is back and ready to do what we do best, host a series full of self-publishing goodness and cookies. Right after a big weekend chilling at Chicago Zine Fest, on Tuesday May 10th, 8pm, we welcome zinesters Anna Jo Beck and Jim Joyce, and comics artists Mike Centeno and Sheika Lugtu. Hosted by Johnny Misfit. 

Flyer Mike Centeno
 It all goes down at the Comfort Station in Logan Square, 2579 N Milwaukee Ave. If the series title hasn’t already given it away, cookies are served for free! The readings are all ages. Donations are appreciated and help our sponsor. The series is sponsored by Chicago Publishers Resource Center (CHIPRC). You can also go to the facebook event for the reading, if you would like.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Two Cookie Minimum Starts off 2016 this April

Two Cookie Minimum is ecstatic to be back at Comfort Station in Logan Square, 2759 W. Milwaukee Ave. This season, TCM continues providing audiences with a variety of performaners each month on the second Tuesday from April to September. For the past six years, TCM has highlighted local self-publishers including zinesters, comics artists and local authors.

The first installment of 2016 kicks off Tuesday, April 12, 8pm with the lineup of 
comics by Jeff Zwirek (organizer of Chicago Alternative Comics Expo), 
a pop culture presentation by writer Megan Kirby
creative writing from undergrad student Sung Yim,
and retail stories by writer Michelle Marcellus (a CHIPRC Wasted Pages Writing Workshop alum).
Hosted by series curator Johnny Misfit.
Cookies are served at each event (all are vegan and free to eat). The readings are all ages.

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. (Illustration in the above flyer by Alex Nall).

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.


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