Monday, August 15, 2016

August was a Literary Blast!

The August 9th reading was full of literary craftsmen and craftswomen who shared some great fiction. There was also a bit of music thrown in for good measure. Like we do at TCM, none of this was planned, it simply happened. Makes for an interesting night all the time. So here's how this one played out.

Leading off the night was Vincent Francone. He read two pieces of fiction that both had a slight comical tone. The first story centered around a failed relationship that nicely employed the image of a Loveseat (which doubled as the piece's title). Why did the narrator's ex leave him only the loveseat when she left? We find out a bit more about the two and as it stands, the loveseat is the only positive that's left of what they once shared. Vince then read a bit of satire in which he bemoaned his alderman to the point of wanting to kill him. He got longtime TCM supporter Julia Bortcherts to come up and join him (as seen above). It was a great start to the night for sure.

Second up was Kathy O'Neill. Her credentials included working for Good Morning America, NPR, and ABC news among others. She also works at the American Irish Heritage Center in Chicago. Her work mixed her journalistic background incorporating her Irish heritage in a piece of creative nonfiction about living in Boston for the summer between college semesters. Her voice was clear throughout the piece. The summer journey she took, living with dropouts from clown college and drinking at Irish pubs, was told with enough distance to make it all the funnier. It was a a lot of fun without trying to be. I could see this being turned into a script or maybe a radio serial. We'll see.

Kathy brought with a friend, Mark Piekarz to play a little something after her reading. When asking him what he would perform, he noticed the old piano in the Comfort Station and asked, "Does that work?" Indeed it did.  At our old home at Hungry Brain, there was a piano and sad to say no one at a TCM ever played on it. Mark got down and sang us a lilting melody on this calm summer night. I was glad to see the piano get used at a TCM.

The last two readers I knew were both great storytellers (which is why they were invited to read on the same night). Darwyn Jones is as charismatic and funny as he is dramatic and heartfelt. His stories at least. Not sure about his real life, but he did come dressed in a classy shirt and tie, so there's that about him.

He read a work of creative nonfiction about growing up and the small things that stick with us through the years. The focus of his work was a universal theme anyone could relate to from their childhood: deciding which candy to buy.  He took us to that time when children could be in control of this one choice that made them feel important. Employing objects, gestures, sounds, and smells, he took us back to that candy counter in Iowa, looking at him as a young kid, in a jacket too big for him, with a dollar in hand and candy on his mind. If you ever see his name on a reading lineup, go. You won't be disappointed.

Ending the night was Jill How, the co-founder of the live lit series Story Studio. That basically means she's got experience telling stories in front of strangers. She shared a personal narrative, barely looking at her notes for cues, rattling off a story about high school memories that only could be appreciated with age and distance. The story was about how she wanted to get the attention of a fellow band member by doing a parody of a pop culture song as her report on Hawthorne's the Scarlet Letter. The song, Alanis Morissette's Ironic. She recorded it on a cassette, as this was done in the 90s, but that tape no longer exists. So to drive it home, Jill pulled out her Ukulele and strummed along as she sang her version. Like I said earlier, tonight was a musical show. Glad she shared this embarrassing part of her high school past. Even if she didn't win over the guy, she won us all over for sure. This was how we ended the night,  because who can really follow a woman playing a alternative rock on a Uke?

This was August's Two Cookie. A great lineup on a cool summer night. We'll be back this summer to close things down for the season. Look back from more info on the last readings we'll do in 2016. Enjoy the rest of your summer until then.  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Always Allows Two Cookies - August Reading Info!

Coming off our 6 year anniversary last month, now into August we’re back to form with a lineup of talented storytellers you don’t want to miss. On Tuesday, August 9, Two Cookie Minimum welcomes Jill Howe (co-founder of Story Sessions), writer Darwyn Jones, author Vincent Francone, and journalist Kathy O'Neill with musical accompaniment of Mark Piekarz.

Readings are scheduled monthly on the second Tuesday each month at 8pm at the Comfort Station 2579 N Milwaukee Ave. The readings are open to the public.  The series is sponsored by Chicago Publishers Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides programming the local publishing community. Donations will be accepted at the door to support future readings

Thursday, July 14, 2016

How we spent our 6 Year birthday!


That's such an unbelievable statement for me to consider. Since the summer of 2010, the series has been welcoming writers and self publishers out for monthly readings. This month's reading was a bit special for obvious reasons. As a gift, not only did the lineup include many supporters who've read at past events (including yours truly as host), but with the release of Cookie Crumbs 3 zine.

Issue 3 included the first year of the series at Comfort Station. The zine includes drawings and comics from Alex Nall and Eric Bartholomew from the 2015 readings. A few past readers also sent in some of their thoughts on our new home. Layout by Anna Jo Beck. Printed at CHIPRC on a Risograph GR2750.

As for the readers, the night began with myself, Johnny Misfit reading from my zine Field Manual for the Human Body. For that project, I worked with good friend Dean Johnson who illustrated various images of the human anatomy to fit the text. For this occasion, Dean colored in his artwork which really made the difference. Enough about me.

Second up was long-time TCM supporter, comedian Tom Simmons. I met Tom at the readings when we were at the Hungry Brain. The first time I was introduced to him, I asked what he did and if he'd like to read sometime. I found out he was a writer and comedian and that was all it took. For this anniversary show, Tom read 3 pieces. The first were Yelp reviews for an assisted suicide hotel. The next two were open letters from pizza chain mascots: A random bro from Toppers and then Papa John. Each was funnier than the first. Sides were split and eyes watered. He could have easily ended the night and everyone could have left. But alas the night wasn't over yet.

The third reading was by Alex Nall. He's be one of the top supporters of the reading series, coming out consistently for 3 years now. Not only has he documented the monthly readings through comics and illustrations, but he's read at it often. And usually his readings are a bit more than simply sharing comics. This time he shared a narrative from his Teaching Comics, introducing his reading with a parody of the PBS children's show Mr. Rogers.  He did everything from a costume change to a special delivery from a mailman (played by zinester Eric Bartholomew). He read his Teaching Comics paired with comics from his students and an audio speech from Mr Rogers. The theme of community, support and caring were appropriate topics to share at an anniversary show.

Closing the night was Dave Roche. He's been a supporter of the zine community for decades and has ended many of a TCM reading (he was the last reader we had at our farewell show at the Hungry Brain in 2014). Being a seasoned Two Cookie reader, Dave shared an old letter he wrote to his friend and zinester Kieth Rosson who published it in Avow zine. It was a story of Dave giving away cupcakes in Wicker Park and the ensuing people he met.  Dave's always brought humor to TCM, and this time he literally did; bringing a handful of joke books, from which he shared some with us. There was a book of jokes about the USSR, Hillbillys, and Pickles. In true Roche form, he shared his opinions about each joke. He also downloaded an app of crowd noises which he fired off when the jokes were clunky (think of a rim shot followed by audience clapping). It was the way the night was meant to end.

Now we can look forward to what the sixth year brings. For 2016 there are two more summer readings at the Comfort Station in August and September. There may be a winter reading at CHIPRC to close out the year.

To all the audience members, venue staff, journalists that wrote about us, cookie eaters, and most importantly the readers, I wanted to extend a huge THANKS for letting the series last this long. Without that support, there couldn't be a Two Cookie Minimum.

Johnny Misfit

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Two Cookie Minimum Hits The Six Year Mark

On Tuesday, July 12, Two Cookie Minimum begins its sixth year. Things have definitely changed since the first reading back in 2010. But this month, I’m not looking to dwell on the past, simply reciting the accomplishments that have gotten the series this far. Sure its been doing great things over the past six years. There have been give or take 55 shows, a few hundred readers and performers, and thousands, nay millions of cookies consumed (forgive my math). The longevity of the series has been a testament of the self-publishing community, one that has exploded since our inception. Two Cookie couldn’t survive without your support. So how will this month stack up?

Here are the six things you can count on this month at Two Cookie Minimum.
  1. A live performanative reading from comics artist and teacher Alex Nall
  2. Side-splitting humor from writer and improv specialist Thomas Simmons
  3. Honest storytelling from zinester and CPS teacher Dave Roche
  4. A reading of not-so-practical health tips from host Johnny Misfit
  5. The release of the third issue of Cookie Crumbs, a 2015 year-in-review zine of the series with comics and art by Alex Nall and Eric Bartholowmew, notes from past readers, and layout skills by Anna Jo Beck
  6. Millions of free cookies! (you may recall my math skills from earlier)
The readings begin at 8pm. Donations will be accepted at the door to help support the reading into the next year. Everyone can grab free cookies and zines. I hope you can join us as this should be a fun one.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

June was All Comics and One Good Time

The year has been great for TCM. Each month the shows keep getting better. This was true for June, an All Comics reading that occurred 2 days after the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo. There was a  full crowd comprised of many other comics creators and self publishers. The readers all brought their A game. There were costumes, puppetry, collaborations and character voices. Here's what you missed.

Sage Coffey made her reading debut with us, marking the first time she'd read in public. It didn't show as she owed it. Sage introduced the reading asking the crowd to join in and help chant along with each panel. This was supplemented by a slew of snake puppets and capped off with an explosion of paper confetti. Great job to kick of the night. Plus she drew the show flyer which was a well loved hit.

Sean Mac read second, sharing with a comic about the Castlevania videogame series. He gave each character a funny voice, such as a fitting high pitch screech for the villain Dracula.
His reading brought many laughs and of course applause.

Two Cookie vet Rachel Foss read third sharing her brand of personal comics dealing with relationship, love and loss. The last two comics she shared were collaborations between writer Melinda Macentire. Rachel shared Melidna's text, short stories about dating, which were followed by her comics inspired by the text. The two will unveil their collaboration at this year's Milwaukee Arts Fest, so check out that this month if you can.

 Closing out the night were the duo of Mike Freiheit and Isabella Rotman each reading a part from their split comics Good Cat/Bad Dog. While one read, the other acted out the animal muse: Mike was a dog, and Izzy was a cat. The comic was a commentary on how humans to communicate with animals in a different way than we do to others. It was a pretty high energy reading from both artists.

Everyone then hung around outside after the reading, talking or saying goodbye to end the CAKE weekend. It was exactly the atmosphere that TCM breeds. Glad so many keep supporting the reading series. Its a testament to what the community is and who makes it up. That's probably why next month in July TCM is able to celebrate it's 6th year anniversary. Stay tuned for that lineup and hope you can make it out. Until then, have a good one.
                                    -Johnny Misift (host and curator of Two Cookie Minimum)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

June is All Comics at TCM

It's time to get out and enjoy the summer before it rains all over us.  We hope you can join us on Tuesday June 14 for the June Two Cookie Minimum. This month’s reading will be a visual smorgasbord of  comics presented by Sage Coffey, Mike Freiheit with Isabella Rotman, and Sean Mac. Its the week after CAKE so if you're feel comics withdraws, get help with us! If not, get on the comics horse. Everyone wins really.

The best is, it all goes down in the heart of Logan Square at the Comfort Station 2579 N Milwaukee Ave. at 8pm. Its the perfect time and venue to enjoy the summer sunset, cool breeze blowing blowing in, and a night of readings and free cookies (we’re pretty flexible on the cookie minimum). The readings are open to the public. Donations accepted help support the reading series sponsor Chicago Publishers Resource Center.

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