Tag Archives: Over the Top Reading Tour

April 6th: Vouched ATL Presents Review!

10 Apr

On Friday, April 6th the Over the Top tour made its pilgrimage to Atlanta! It was grand!  It was amazing! If you weren’t there- you wish you were! Once again we found ourselves at the Goatfarm, but this time at the Warhorse coffee shop. Our readers were: Jesse Bradley, Tyler Gobble, Melysa Martinez, Christopher Newgent, Amy McDaniel, Brian Oliu, and Matt Bell. This time we were lucky enough to have Jesse Bradley film the readings, so if you weren’t able to make the trip to our little corner of earth, you may indulge second-hand via the world-wide web.

First off was Jesse Bradley himself! Here’s a handsome picture of him in romantic lighting.
Jesse says ‘y’all’ like a boss. You probably want to hear for yourself. WISH GRANTED. 

Next up was the charming Tyler Gobble. He is so freaking charming you don’t even know. He is so charming I’m doing everything in my power to steal him for Atlanta. Look how awesome he looks. Look how awesome he is when he reads out loud, some new stuff and some of his portion of The Fullness of Everything.

Then, my beloved Melysa Martinez. Holy Moses she is so awesome. Not only does she hold Atlanta in the palm of her hand, but then she reads and she holds us in the palm of her hand too. See? 

After Melysa we all had to catch our breath. Everyone was so in love with everyone. There was a lot of shaking of hands, hugging, laughing, and drinking.

We came back for the home stretch. Christopher Newgent! Vouched Founder and all-around swell guy who happens to be my best friend. Be jealous. Here’s a picture of Christopher being super excited. Who can blame him? We were all having so much fun. Here’s Christopher reading

Amy McDaniel is the loveliest of lovely things. Just look at her!

Amy is, has been, and will always be completely enchanting. She read a small part of a bigger thing. We all were at the edge of our seats! I can’t wait until she unleashes the bigger thing in its entirety. Here, be enchanted. 

Brian Oliu was up next. He read some from his portion of The Fullness of Everything (Tiny Hardcore Press), and  a bit from his latest release Level End.  (Have you seen the packaging for the gold edition?! It’s in a DVD case and includes CD filled with an ebook file, an audio recording of Brian reading his work, videos of boss battles, etc.! We were all like WHOA!) When he was finished we all felt like we had defeated Ganondorf. 

Speaking of champions: Matt Bell was our final reader. He had us howl like wolves when he read. It worked!  By the time he had finished reading everyone in the audience had started a mental countdown for the release of Cataclysm Baby. Honestly, he knocked the wind out of everyone as well as rocked our socks off. We were all barefoot and breathless when he finished- it wasn’t weird.

April 6th has made its mark as one of my favorite days of 2012 so far (definitely my favorite day since AWP this year).  I cannot thank our readers enough. You were all so splendid! Thanks so much to Jesse Bradley, Brian Oliu, Tyler Gobble, Christopher Newgent, and Matt Bell for making the trip to Atlanta. Thank you to Amy McDaniel and Melysa Martinez for sharing your words with us as well as your elegant southern hospitality. Thank you so much to the Goatfarm for allowing us to read in such a beautiful space. Thank you to everyone who helped me promote the reading: Gina Myers, Kory Calico, Bruce Covey, Jamie Iredell, Blake Butler, Matt Sailor, Laura Carter, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, and Deisha at Bang! Arts Management and Promotions, and others.  Most of all, thank you to our wonderful audience for participating and supporting our readers with such fervor (& for howling, Roll Tide-ing, and SPRING BREAK!-ing).

I’ll be setting up the Vouched Atlanta Table at the next chapter of Write Club Atlanta: Death & Taxes, tomorrow at Push Push Theatre at 9pm. Come and say hello!

Awful Interview: Matt Bell

5 Apr

It’s easy to see that everyone at Vouched is in Matt Bell’s corner. Just search his name in our search bar (up there at the top right corner of your screen) and be amazed at how many posts pop up with his name. There are all sorts of reasons to like Matt Bell: he is likeable, he is accomplished, he has important things to say, he isn’t afraid to say those important things, and he writes crazy/awesome/beautiful words that will make your spine shiver.

I couldn’t be more excited for Matt to read in Atlanta with the rest of the Over the Top gang (along with Jesse Bradley, Melysa Martinez, and Amy McDaniel!) tomorrow evening.

In your first Awful Interview with Christopher, you told him that when you were young you read a lot of Science Fiction books. Any specific titles that stand out in your memory?

There’s tons of books I could pick probably, but I still have a few of the ones I had when I was a kid on my shelf: Robots and Empire by Isaac Asimov, the first of his books I read, I can see from my desk still, and I know that was a book my brother and I read and reread, and not just for all the implied robot-on-Spacer lust. (I can still get pretty excited about the Three Laws of Robotics, if prompted in conversation.) There’s a book (now out-of-print) by a writer named H.M. Hoover (who I just realized was a woman, since I knew nothing about her) called This Time of Darkness about two teenagers who have to escape an underground city that’s sort of a combination of 1984 and Soylent Green—I loved that book, but lost my copy and then couldn’t remember its name to buy another. Thankfully, it showed up again at my parents’ house, in the basement I lived in for a year or two between colleges.

More than just sci-fi, it was sort of broad genre fiction: I almost certainly read more fantasy than sci-fi, although there was enough of both. I read a lot of the D&D novels, like the Dragonlance Chronicles, and I was a huge fan of David Edding’s different series, especially the Elenium and the Tamuli trilogies. I actually got into Stephen King in the fifth grade or so through his The Eyes of the Dragon. When I was slightly younger, I got introduced to the Choose Your Own Adventure books, which quickly led me other series that combined the CYOA style with D&D-style role-playing, including character sheets and combat and so on. The best of those was a series called Lone Wolf, by a writer named Joe Dever, that I played over and over. I recently found my cache of those books as well, and then set about buying all the ones I was missing: The last few were never released in the U.S., and so count as one of the few things I’ve imported to collect.

That’s dedication. How long did it take you to track down the final few books? Did your love of D&D and role-playing ever branch out to text-adventure games, or are you strictly a twenty-sided die man?

It wasn’t terribly hard, honestly: the internet makes it pretty easy. The hard part was deciding to part with the cash, since the rarer ones were priced well above their early nineties cover prices. I actually think there’s still one I don’t have, because the copy I found was eighty bucks or something and I just couldn’t do it. Some day!

I played a lot of text-adventures when I was young. My younger brother and I would play them together, and try to solve the puzzles together. I’m not sure we understood them very often. The best ones were made by Infocom, and I think we probably played dozens of them. One of our favorites was based on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (you can play an illustrated version at the BBC), which at the time we hadn’t read. Of course, the book works by a sort of absurdist logic that makes it hard to reason your way through the puzzles, and we were just completely stumped. There was no internet to look up clues, no one else to figure things out with. Somehow we beat the game, and it seems to be there’s something telling about my brother and I there, in that experience: that the two of us spent countless hours trying to understand and interact with an illogical world—and then succeeded—seems like a good example of how we became who we’d end up being.

You know what’s odd is my sister and I had the exact same system, except we played the King’s Quest series from Sierra Entertainment (and then later on Myst, Riven, etc., not to mention a bit of Wolfenstein 3D)
Do you feel that you are able to apply your RPG/text-adventure experience to real life? Can you give any examples?

We absolutely did the same thing with those Sierra games as well: We loved those, deeply. (A couple of years ago, I wrote an essay for Hobart about Leisure Suit Larry. It’s not online to link to, but a teaser I wrote for it is.) I’m not sure I ever applied the knowledge I gained in those games directly to real life, but it is funny how playing a lot of a game can seep into your daily awareness: A year or two ago I played a game called The Saboteur, where you’re a resistance fighter against the Nazis in WWII Paris, and in the game there are these communication towers you’re constantly knocking down—and they look just enough like cell phone towers that every time I saw one in real life I would have this urge to run over and knock it down. Not a real urge, that I was going to act on, but just that tinge of muscle memory, of learned behavior burning a track in my brain. I think there are a lot of those little reactions that build up, as we spend time interacting with video games. In the same way that one of the functions of the novel (especially of social realism) is to give us a way to think and feel through social interactions (something we’re never given second chances to do in real life, where every decision gets made on the fly and is irrevocable), so do video games give us opportunities to act out certain kinds of exploration, problem-solving, and behaviors. We’ll probably never be called upon to do the exact kinds of activities you and your sister did in Wolfenstein 3D, but that kind of exploration of spaces, avoidance of danger, and exploitation of limited resources is probably a handy kind of practice for many other experiences in real life.

 For certain! I couldn’t agree more. I imagine some of those lessons may come in handy when you’re on the road with Oliu, Newgent, and Gobble this week. I mean maybe not necessarily anything directly from Wolfenstein 3D or Leisure Suit Larry, but every road-trip usually involves those kind of limited resources/avoidance of danger scenarios you mention.
What’s your biggest hope for this book tour? What are you totally pumped for?

I think a lot of people go on book tours with the idea that they’re going to sell books, or get some kind of local fame, or some other kind of promotional goal. Nothing wrong with any of that, I guess, but if I had to choose I think I’d pick adventure over sales, memories over fame. With these three brothers in the car and three cities full of great people hosting our visits, I can pretty much guarantee that both the adventures and the memories are forthcoming—for us, surely, but also for anyone who comes out to join us. Tuesday morning I’m hopping on the Greyhound to Indianapolis, and from there I’m setting the GPS to QUEST for the rest of the trip. Can’t wait.

Awful Interview: Brian Oliu

27 Mar

Brian Oliu and I don’t know each other in person per-se, but I know enough of him to exclaim “Roll Tide” when we meet. I also know enough of him to say that he has awesome taste in cover art, and  *SPOILER ALERT* knows exactly how terminators eat ice-cream.  His collection of Tuscaloosa Missed Connections, So You Know It’s Me, was released on Tiny Hardcore Press in 2011. His  collection of lyric essays based off of videogame boss battles, Level End, will be released in April of 2012 by Origami Zoo Press, which may just be the most epic thing to drop since the defeat of Sephiroth.

He’s reading in part of the Over-the-Top tour and will be gracing us in Atlanta on Friday, April 6th!

Are you a ghost? Be honest.

No. Although I am often compared to a robot of some sort because there is a belief that I do not sleep and I am working all of the time–or at the very least online and on a computer providing information for the masses. My neighbor has taken to calling me ‘Skynet’ ala the Terminator franchise. So, to answer your question, there is a good chance that I am the ghost in the machine. So, yes.

Oh man! It would be grand if you were the terminator. But how would a terminator eat ice cream?  

One lick at a time, I suppose. The Terminator is a robot with human skin around it–I wonder if this expands to the tongue. You don’t really get a good look down Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mouth in the film, so I cannot be sure. Is it a metal mouth or a human mouth? These are the questions that were never answered in the sequels.

Yes, I think these are critical things we need to know. If you were Awfully Interviewing the Terminator, what would you ask him first?

I’d probably ask him if he would like some ice cream, and he would probably say ‘Affirmative’ and then I’d bring him ice cream, but he wouldn’t recognize it because it wouldn’t be Dippin’ Dots, which everyone knows is the ice cream of the future. Then I’d probably ask him who the robots have been reading lately and if robot sci-fi is about a bunch of humans showing up acting funky.

I hope that robot sci-fi is all about humans sitting around on a Sundays, reading their papers, mowing their lawn, and drinking milk out of the carton.
What’s your favorite road-trip song? You know, the one you play really loud to get yourself awake and pumped again after driving for too long.

Robot Sci-Fi! So horrifying. I’ve been a lot of roadtrips lately–I did a summer book tour of the entire Midwest with a few friends & I’m always hopping in my car & going some place. When I was starting to lull, I’d put on G-Side’s Huntsville International to keep the party going. Great balance of rapping along & sounding awesome with some crooning as well.

What do anticipate you, Matt Bell, Christopher Newgent, and Tyler Gobble rocking out to on your road-trip to Atlanta for the reading? Boston? Jovi? Rachmaninoff?

You know, I’m not sure. They’re some nice Midwest boys, so I don’t really know what they listen to. I like to think that we would continue the trend of listening to southern hip-hop on the way over. Maybe some ATL All-Stars. Outkast seems like a must, right?

As an adoptee of the ATL… yes that certainly is a must! There’s nothing like Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to get the party started. Maybe you could also bust out some Janelle Monae, or T.I if you’re feeling saucy.  Have the four of you discussed a possible wrestling match finale to the tour? It could make things interesting. How do you think that would pan out?

No discussion as of yet, although fatal-four-way matches are always dicey. Is it an elimination match? Or is it first to a pin-fall? Because I think Gobble is crafty enough to wait until the three of us punch each other out, hit our finishers, and snag a quick pinfall on a schoolboy roll-up. If it’s elimination, the obvious choice would be Newgent, simply because of his AWP-famous biceps. Don’t rule out Bell, however–he looks like he might’ve wrestled in highschool. As for myself, I have a weight advantage, but my cardio is lacking. However, I have an intricate understanding of professional wrestling so I feel as if I can use that to my advantage.

All of those scenarios make total sense. The fight could really conclude any way and I wouldn’t be surprised, a lot like a choose your own adventure. Did you ever read any of those? Did you enjoy them?

Loved Choose Your Own Adventure books! My mother worked at a library and so I’d be there every other day after school. I’m pretty sure I’ve read every single one of the original series. I absolutely adore the covers as well. I made my students write them (I teach a game-based Creative Writing course at the University of Alabama) and they came out really great. Also, did you know that the majority of those books are translated into other languages? International folks absolutely love them.

I did not! Wowzers! What was their original language? My instinct says “Dutch.”

The Netherlands is all about some Choose Your Own Adventures. Also, surprisingly, pretty much all of them are translated into Catalan of all languages. Even the late-era ones that no one read. My entire family is from Barcelona so I of course geeked out when I heard this.

That is stupendous! If there was a Choose Your Own Adventure book for the reading coming up on April 6th, what would your ideal ending be?

There are a few Choose Your Own Adventure books that have an ending that is unreachable: meaning that the only way you can get there is by flipping through the book (which is obviously against the rules of Choose Your Own Adventure!) I’d like to think that there is an ending that no one can possibly see coming–some sort of lovely utopia involving kind words and a couple of beers. Outkast too.

Awful Interview: Tyler Gobble

23 Mar

There’s a good chance that if you’re familiar with our humble website here, Tyler Gobble MAY MAKE CAPSLOCK COME TO MIND, or maybe he makes you think of this: !!!!!

What I’m saying is the name Tyler Gobble should make the words JOY and ENTHUSIASM come to mind. If they don’t come to mind, I entreat you to read this interview thoroughly. If after that if they still don’t… I feel sorry for you.

Tyler’s words are all over the internet. His work has appeared in PANK, NAP, decomP, Everyday Genius (with Christopher Newgent), and Used Furniture Review. He also authors the Vouched Satellite column over at Small Doggies. His chapbook Goodness is a Fine Thing to Chase is included in The Fullness of Everything at Tiny Hardcore Press.

Tyler will be hitting the road with Vouchers Christopher Newgent, Matt Bell, and Brian Oliu on the Over the Top Reading Tour, and lucky for Atlanta, they will be stopping by on Friday, April 6th to read and drink and be all sorts of merry. YOU SHOULD COME.

So Tyler, if you could have brunch with any writer ever, dead or alive, who would you brunch with?

Can I request a switch to brinner? Something about brunch seems so obvious, so common that I don’t even think it is a distinction. Like breakfast, lunch, dinner, it is a meal. But brinner oh boy, some fried eggs and bacon with a glass of OJ at 8 pm, now that is a real distinction, a cloud who gets low and becomes a vehicle.

I have been saying this for years now–I wanna take Abraham Smith to get some brinner and have him read the menu to me. Maybe we never order a thing. Maybe I show him pictures of my dad and he sees the resemblance. Maybe I put free blackberry jam on free crackers and leave a dollar and we walk out together. Maybe he leaves while I’m washing my hands. Maybe he orders something that is not on the menu like an eagle egg or waffles and gravy. Maybe we are served.

Oh man! Brinner is such a delight! I love the idea of you and Abraham Smith chatting it up over sunny-side up eagle eggs at a Waffle House outside of Tahlequah, OK on route 540. I wish it were possible to make that happen, and we could  instagram it happening. Everyone would heart it. You would have the most popular picture of the day. What’s it like to be so popular?

I think you misspelled ‘police officer’. And yes, I am a police officer, or at least I applied to be a volunteer one in this poor wacky town of mine, or at least I thought about it, or at least I have debated that whole common skip-the-MFA-and-go-straight-to-cop-college thing.

Okay okay, I know you didn’t have a spelling error, you’re freaking Vouched ATL for golly goodness sakes.

So, lets start over–thanks thanks for saying that I am popular. Or possibly popular if that whole pic thing worked out.

I work with first graders all day and from 8-3 I am popular. I walk around and everyone knows my name, even the pretty student teachers. How neat!

Also, I am the tallest person in the building at a towering 6 foot tall.

Is that what being popular is all about? Like you walk into a place and look for that handsome face over the less-developed heads, soft and wacky, and it is yours?!

One time I read that if you want someone to like you, you should take him/her to a place where everyone knows your name. I think that means the interwebs.

For real, I googled my name and there were 1,120,000 hits. WOW.

HAHA. I have been dilly-dallying around for this point–I finally found the place where people value what I value.

Or google yourself and feel rad.

One time I was watching an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation (a popular Canadian teenage melodrama)( I am neither Canadian nor a melodrama) and the students formed a band and the band sang a song “Google My Own Name.” It was terrible, but also catchy.
Have you ever seen that show?

Yes, I have.

I remember I bought my first box of condoms after seeing the episode where that swooshy haired goofy yet horny kid (me being a swooshy haired goofy yet horny kid) knocked up that awkward Liberty girl, who oddly enough looked like my first girlfriend. It seemed like a worthy lesson at the time.

IT WORKED I HAVE 0 KIDS.
Also, I have a hard time remembering that tv is not real, a reason perhaps I don’t watch it often, (Seriously, I weep and weep watching Greys Anatomy ALL THOSE PEOPLE DEAD, CHEATERS, SO SAD).

I remember seeing Drake for the first time, thinking, AW HOW COOL that kid in a wheelchair is breaking into the mainstream!

I know! Sometimes when Degrassi is on I think “This is what the Burger Kings Kids Club would be like if it came to life. That or all of the pictures in my high school health books.” They have such a politically correct sprawl of gender/race/ability/sexual orientation, it’s mind blowing. Except I don’t think any North American Indians are represented in the show.

What do you miss more: Burger King Kids Club or Book-It?

Book-It for sure. I am a sucker for some za. One time, I traded a Dr. Grip pen and a Christina Aguilera CD for two Book It coupons. As much as those items could come in handy now, I stand behind my decision.

Would you call your fondness for pizza an obsession?

Obsession it seems is that mysterious pulse in my calf, like another heart, yet how and why and where did it go, it is now in my right ear. A man starts addicted to porn, then he is addicted to sex, then he is addicted to pressing his naked body against his apartment sliding door, then he does not think about sex ever but hiking, constantly, it is hiking, end goal as sitting in a stream fully clothed. Today he is looking at a couple of deer trying to walk on the concrete road that separates two forests.

That is not pizza at all. Za is that strange decision one makes in the middle of a sunny day or maybe a rainy day, I don’t think it matters. What matters is that what follows is good, great, more great! That man decides, screw this creek for today!, and goes plays disc golf and gets his first ace. Or he stays indoors, say in a hotel lobby and meets a woman and before he knows it, they are naked in her room, the white sheets endless, his body, not pulsing at all, but content and soaking up the artificial light and totally cool with that. He puts on his boxers and says, TODAY IS A DAY OF A LOT OTHER DAYS.

As I see it, this whole issue you’ve proposed is a matter of the body and how it behaves. Always reckless and weird. But is it a daily taketh, a moment-to-moment circuit, a little Pac Man constantly blinking after goodness, real or not? Or is it a taste, za being such to remind me of those years of stuff-stuff-stuffing myself, a lot of tiny nibbles that may happen maybe twice a decade, the taste lingering a lifetime?

I am saying a slice of pizza is infinite in its sticking ability. My obsessions don’t stick. They are the sticking itself.

You know my current obsession is the idea of you, Matt Bell, Christopher Newgent, and Brian Oliu reading in Atlanta at the same reading. Tell me, what are you most excited about? Why should people come and hear everyone read?

How lucky are we, by we I mean us four dudes but also you and your audience and the goats and etcetera, to be able to stumble down the map and get together and read work and drink beer and laugh? It is 75 and sunny outside here in Indiana and a goose just honked and kept going. I haven’t heard real gunfire in my 23 years of being alive. HOW TREMENDOUSLY THANKFUL.

I saw Matt read from Cataclysm Baby at an off-site reading at AWP, and I’m still shaking. And the whiskey has even worn off!

I saw Christopher arm-wrestle Matt Rowan, a major beast of a man and AWP, arm-wrestling champ, and though defeated, I like Christopher more than I already did (and he’s already high up on my RAD DUDES list). Oh and his writing is pretty neat too.

In a world where we ask things to settle down, where we want the props of life to stay on the ground, Brian Oliu’s  lyric essays float in that space between my head and my chest, pulsing up and down.

Also, J. Bradley & Melysa Martinez are both for real writers I know on the interwebs and it’ll be neat to see them in the human form.

I’ll probably act like an idiot, so if you like that kinda thing, you should come and we will hang out!

Also stoked for: the goats, your porch, meeting your husband, hopefully karaoke, meeting Ludacris (he has my invite!)

HEY PEOPLE YOU SHOULD COME TO THIS READING BECAUSE DON’T YOU KNOW HOW WACKY LUCKY WE ARE TO BE ALIVE AND ABLE TO DO SUCH SILLY THINGS

Vouched Is Over the Top!

16 Mar

In early April, Tyler Gobble and I are hitting the road with lit extraordinaires Matt Bell and Brian Oliu for the Over the Top Reading Tour to support our new books (The Fullness of Everything and Cataclysm Baby, respectfully), and of course, the Vouched Books table will be making the trip with us. We are hitting Tuscaloosa, Atlanta, and Nashville, and you probably want to be where we will be.

There’s a facebook page with all the details, but just so you don’t have to click yet another link on this rabbit hole called the Internet, I give you this:

April 4th – Tuscaloosa, AL
Green Bar, 2209 4th Street
w/ Marsha McSpadden & Ashley McWaters
7pm
RSVP on facebook!

April 5th – Tuscaloosa, AL
Arm Wrestling Table somewhere on U. of Alabama campus
Time and location TBD via Twitter

April 6th – Atlanta, GA
Goat Farm, 1200 Foster Street
w/ J. Bradley & Melysa Martinez
7pm
RSVP on facebook!

April 7th – Nashville, TN
Portland Brew East, 1921 Eastland Avenue
w/ Todd Dills
6pm
RSVP on facebook!

We hope to see your faces and wrestle your arms!