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SKaiser writesTake Part in Live Lit

You have 8 minutes to tell a nonfiction story. You’ll have a mic, a stool if you prefer to sit, a music stand for your pages, and a timer. Oh and an audience. Because what’s better than sharing something personal than to do it in front of strangers.

It’s called live lit and it’s sweeping America. Well maybe just Chicago. Even just a few years ago, storytelling venues were scarce in the city, but today there are over 50 storytelling events each month.

One consistent event in the city is Story Club, which boasts the 8-minute rule. Story Club is also in Minneapolis and Boston.  It's a nonfiction storytelling show whose goal is to “mix up the spontaneity of an open mic with the experience of live theater”. Last Thursday, a group of readers shared their stories at the Holiday Club. 

A gentleman opened the evening with a story about his Russian lover. He met her while working overseas. Repeatedly he told her that when returning to the US he’d be going alone.  As he repeated this throughout the story it became obvious he cared for her. When the time came for him to return, he lost his wallet with all his money. She ended paying for his cab and checked baggage. Enough money to last her a few months he said. It made him feel even more worthless and he cried the whole way home.

If you talk over your 8 minutes the whole thing shuts down. Not like a giant claw scoops you off stage, but you’re done. Mid-sentence, exit stage left. Thankfully that didn’t happen to anyone last Thursday.

The next man to step up apparently worked on a documentary featuring a guy making his way down the Mississippi. He joined the guy on his journey for some time. In the beginning they got along fine. As time passed, the storyteller said he could see the journey wearing away at his companion who’d begun to shout and treat him poorly. The storyteller said he felt sadness for the guy because what he loved most about the river had beaten him. There was no longer joy in his passion.

Not all stories are as deep, you know. We heard about a man’s childhood dream of getting a GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip on Christmas, and the disappointment he still suffers when it didn’t arrive.

You may share from any point in your life – like the woman who gave in-depth details on what she’s willing to do to hang on to her youth. Or like another woman who gave a glimpse of her life after ending a six-year relationship.

The point of this story is whether it’s silly shit or deep shit, people relate to each other via our stories. We connect and it’s a beautiful thing. Check it out first in the audience, just for fun, and see what you think. Click here for live lit storytelling events in the city.

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Categorized: Community

Tyler Clark presents: Local Mythologies writesTop 25 Christmas Songs of the Last 25 Years: #18 - The Flaming Lips, “Christmas at the Zoo”

It's the holiday season, which means Christmas music. Lots and lots or Christmas music, most of which was written before the people listening to it were even alive. While "Jingle Bells" and "We Three Kings" are great, and resilient, we're devoting this year to finding the best Christmas song written since 1989. We continue today with #18, and a little holiday eco-terrorism with the Flaming Lips.


#18: The Flaming Lips, "Christmas at the Zoo" (1995)

Looking back, 1995 was a weird time for the Flaming Lips. They were two years removed from the unlikely chart success (and 90210 shout-out) of "She Don't Use Jelly," but still two years from Zaireeka and their metamorphosis into a full-on psych-pop act. Their album from that year, Clouds Taste Metallic, now comes off like a transitional record, a bittersweet document of the band's last days as their old selves.

Part of that bittersweetness rests in "Christmas at the Zoo," a sentimental holiday tune about the limits of good intention. The song's narrator attempts a daring midnight rescue of the zoo's animals, only to find that "All of the animals agreed they're not/ Happy at the zoos/ But they preferred to save themselves/ They seemed to think they could." It's a rejection of the usual weaponized charity agenda that creeps into a lot of holiday media, but it's not a strident one. In fact, you get the sense that both sides come away feeling a little better, even though nothing actually changes. Who would've expected such world-weary philosophizing at the center of a 3-minute Christmas song?

The Lips have gone on to do weirder holiday projects (the Bradbury-flavored b-movie Christmas on Mars) and safer holiday projects (the limp "A Change at Christmas (Say It Isn't So)"), but they've never hit the sweet spot in the center better than they did with "Christmas at the Zoo."

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Categorized: Christmas Top 25

JimK writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2014: JimK

CHIRP Radio Best of 2014

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2014. Our next list is from DJ and Record Fair Director JimK.

I love this game. Looking back on past years is great, too! I do not purport to know that these are the best of 2014, just that they are some of my faves. No particular order....just load 'em up & hit random.

Keep Reading…

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2014

Bobby Evers writesAn Open Letter To The Heckler At The St. Vincent Show

Hey buddy. Look, I’m so sorry to interrupt you. That was not my intention at all. I just wanted to draw your attention to the fact that you are actually in a public space right now, and not your living room. We all are. All of us put in a similar amount of effort as you to buy tickets, show up on time, and all face the same direction sort of for the same reason as you. And that is to see Annie Clark do a St. Vincent show. And I totally get it; the amount of time she is spending making banter with the audience (which they call “crowd work (that is to say it happens often enough that all of the people who do it have an industry term for this, for talking between songs, to engage the crowd in this manner)) is time that is taken away from playing “the hits.”

But buddy, ya gotta wait til the show’s over to complain. I know, I know, sweety, it’s OK. It is boring to hear talking instead of music, you’re right, but imagine how all of us feel right now, hearing you talking instead of Annie Clark.

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Categorized: Events Journal

Topics: st. vincent

Lady Amelia writesCHIRP Radio Best of 2014: Amelia Hruby

CHIRP Radio Best of 2014

Throughout December, CHIRP Radio presents its volunteers’ top albums of 2014. Our next list is from DJ (6-9am Thursdays) Amelia Hruby.

Sitting down to make this year's list wasn't so tough. Looking back through my library and 2014 playlists, I found that I had marked a number of stand-out albums that jumped onto the list without a second thought. You may notice that 7/10 are female soloist or female-fronted groups. That wasn't particularly on purpose, women just seemed to run the rock world this year. You go girls!

Keep Reading…

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Categorized: Best Albums of the Year

Topics: best of 2014

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