Author: Ben Tilton

Useless ID

Useless ID
The Lost Broken Bones

Suburban Home Records
Street: 07.24
Useless ID = Offspring + The Ataris + Sum 41

The energy in any Useless ID release is considerable, but this reissue of The Lost Broken Bones takes that to even greater heights. Having been ushered in the US punk scene by The Ataris, (Israel = Home) definitely left its mark because Useless ID is very pop-punk. The Lost Broken Bones plays a lot like a Boxcar Racer album in that they both poke at deeper themes despite the upbeat energy in their music. The album rocks quickly but each song has so much content you find yourself scratching your head at the frequent two minute track times. I tried to sit down while listening and ended up hitting my punching bag till the last note fell. The Lost Broken Bones is a hell of a ride and lots and lots of fun; please listen to “Killing A Ghost” for a further confirmation of awesomeness. Enjoy! –Benjamin Tilton

Polock
Rising Up
Mushroom Pillow
Street: 04.08
Polock = Phoenix + Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Bronze Radio Return
 
It’s June, ladies and gentlemen, and that means summer indie pop releases. Returning after their debut album, Getting Down From Trees, is Polock, the quintet from Valencia, Spain. We hope for maturity on a second album, and we definitely get it from Rising Up. The concern with a band that sounds so much like Phoenix that they could be related is that influences are excusable on a debut, but not so much down the road. Rising Up does not vary from their original sound one bit, and oddly, in this case, it works. The single, “Everlasting,” is an excellent song and much better than the material other bands in this genre have put out lately. This album plays well in its entirety, and I can just see the beach couples snuggling to its jams. Good job, boys. –Benjamin Tilton
Photos:
Photo courtesy of Lucre Films.

Dead things have a way of getting in my head. Seeing them splashed up in front of you in Creative Guild Studio’s completely cozy environment is an oddly suiting contradiction. Director/Actor Oscar Sanchez is sitting to the right of me, but in front of me, on screen, he’s a mess of bloody circumstance. Creative Guild Studio’s premiere of Lucre Films’ productions, F.U.B.A.R. and Criminals,  was everything an enjoyable evening viewing should be; funny, scandalous and full of potential abandonment and dead things.  

Creative Guild Studio wheels in theater chairs attached in long rows for this event. The rows are stadium style, and rise as they proceed back. This is notable, because the skeleton-like construction of these rows leaves my feet dangling a foot from the floor as I sit. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a film while swinging your legs like a kid on a swing, but it’s fantastic. The youthful indulgence is magnified when you consider the studio also had treats to offer, as well. As my legs were swinging, I had a snack and beverage in hand. This is a proper way to enjoy film—I was cozy, fed and ready.

Films are generally taken in separately. Being this was a double feature, I’d like to take a moment to consider these two films in the same breath. Though these films feature some crossover in both themes and actors, they really couldn’t be any different tonally, and that’s what’s make the pairing so effective. It was a one-two punch, featuring desperate men in two varying positions, but where one leaves you haunted and wondering, the other leaves you chuckling with its tongue-and-check presentation. Humor rings well after horror and this was excellent film pairing.

The desperate men in Friday night’s first film, F.U.B.A.R., are stranded in non-descript military attire, out of touch with HQ and trying to survive in a crumbling circumstance. The film is at it’s strongest when all of the actors are working together, and you get to feel the camaraderie these performers developed working together over the three-day shoot. This also works to a fault, because, at times, the actors perform dialogue so casually that their firearms moved as if they were talking with their hands. This act undermined the situational intensity at times, but also made the audience smile. So, it’s a soft criticism at best. The sound in the film was used to great effect and drew me into the focal points. The look of the film (Ursa Mini Pro) seemed to have two different personalities. The initial feel catered to the abandonment situation, with its focus on environment and situation, but as the film progresses, the camera work becomes more intimate and the focus shifts from the environment to the characters with it’s dark, silhouetted close-ups. Speaking more about the details would compromise the film, just know it is rather haunting and you will wonder about F.U.B.A.R. afterward.

In Criminals,  these men are a different lot all together. Somewhere in the production process, you almost wonder if someone said, “What would Quentin Tarantino’s take be on Pineapple Express?” and the answer was this film. Criminals  is a bit more nuanced than that idea, and the humor is uniquely cheeky, which compliments  Director Casey William Walker’s presentation of the narrative. I could almost hear the laughter between takes. The film sits around two characters in an impossible situation involving a death of a lover. With a clean resolution to the film being thrown out in the first minutes, (think: Shaggy finding out Scooby Doo was in a relationship with Fred and killed Fred for dating Daphne as well), we accept the madness of the situation because there is no other recourse. We accept the absurdity which makes Sanchez (returning to act) ability to chew up the screen with offbeat, stoner antics so much more enjoyable. While the film displays a difficult situation, it doesn’t transition that burden to the audience—making the film light hearted and ultimately fun.

One of the more potent moments of the evening came during a Q+A session, where Sanchez was asked why he worked on these films. He answered, “I wanted to be reminded of why I did it,” which I found brilliant. Art comes from any source but ultimately, it’s function can be, via Gertrude Stein, “to induce hope.” What’s missed in that statement is that hope doesn’t always come from the person perceiving the art, sometimes, that hope is for the artist themselves. There’s a genuine feeling that comes from art made for yourself and great fictions come from genuine hearts. Criminals and F.U.B.A.R. were incredibly genuine films and hold up well in the lofty ranks of Utah film.

Photo courtesy of Cat Palmer.

The Salt Lake Valley area sits in a dome of smog that residents can visibly see as they drive in and out of it. It’s been covered nationally by (Popular Science and Forbes), and referenced as Smog Lake City on social media. Locals are warned casually on morning news programs each winter, to keep pets indoors and to drive with their windows up. The smog isn’t going away and the need to keep this in the public eye is important. This Saturday at the Urban Arts Gallery the SLC Air Protectors are having a fundraiser to raise awareness on this issue and have a little fun.

Veteran activist and award-winning artist Cat Palmer advocates for this issue. Palmer has spent  the last 16 years in art activism, and her gas-mask photography has become equal parts iconic and foreboding. When speaking with her, I sense an enthusiasm that’s not always present in her art. Palmer’s candor while we speak shifts between a sense of urgency and the sharp laugh that I imagine came from the first time she was told she couldn’t do something. She says, “It’s so simple to get involved now … [with] email [and] social media. It takes a handful of minutes—reach out to your representatives.” Palmer says and explains the lobbying she has been involved with and the recent success of the hundred-million-dollar allocation from the state government toward clean air. “This is start,” says Palmer. It’s an encouraging start, as she went on to mention that the support is “more than it has ever been.”

Palmer, who has lost two friends to smog-related asthma, also knows that much of the damage has been done. Congestive heart failure and asthma-related smog deaths in the Salt Lake Valley are now traceable by a simple Google search. The hay fever–like symptoms (runny nose, slight headache, sneezing) and consistent allergy concerns are experienced to some degree by everyone. In this we also see its weakness. If everyone has experienced this, then everyone has something to say. The Salt Lake Community has an effective voice because it’s the affected voice. Any step in the direction of clean air gets you involved. If you need help finding out who your local representative is, try www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.

Palmer explains that this year, Utah has a lot of new representatives on the hill which means creating awareness is critical. Do you know who your local rep is? So far, this year we have seen events like the Clean Air Solutions Fair at the Gateway and a legislation overview at the Downtown library creating conversations. This Saturday, that dialogue will continue 6 p.m.–9 pm. at the Urban Arts Center. The SLC Air Protectors fundraiser will feature Native music being that The SLC Air Protectors’ organization itself is Native led. An auction featuring unique local art and Palmer herself is bringing her elaborate collection of gas masks to take pictures with. “I want people to see how easily you can get involved,” says Palmer, “and to have fun … This will be fun.”   

Photo courtesy of Zane Barrow.

It’s funny how the creation of unreal things can become some of the realest things we know. Dreams and stories tucked in the back of your head become a reality of sorts when shared with those around you. Some realities become t-shirts and movie franchises. Some realities become worlds to readers flipping pages. Some realities just sit in the back of your mind forever never taking form. So let’s change that, in 24 hours. SLUG Magazine recently chatted with the brilliant and incredibly passionate Zane Barrow (also a master in the comic assembly arts) to find out about this Saturday’s 24-hour Comic Challenge Event.



SLUG: Hello Zane Barrow! So how many 24-hour comic day events have you organized since starting in 2004?

Barrow: This will be the first, but I’m really excited to learn from our event this time so that we can do it bigger and better in the future. Building an artist community where people can help each other and work together [where] we can grow is a key part of the event. I believe that if we nurture those relationships we can also grow the event next year and even put together other opportunities in the future.

SLUG: So how did you come across the local artists to form this event?

Barrow: I’m always looking to meet more creators and artists that share an interest and love comics. Some of the artist that will be attending are people I consider friends, and of course, they have their own network of creatives, so it has grown naturally from there. A large part of the event, in my mind, is growing that community and giving everyone a chance to network. The event is open to the public and social media has hopefully helped new people find out more about the event and convince them to join as well.

SLUG: Is this an “anything goes” (topic, violence, plot) type of comic left up to the artists’ choosing?

Barrow: As long as you aren’t making other people uncomfortable and or being a creep you can make whatever you want. The idea is a 24-page comic at the end of the 24 hours which is not easy so we encourage everyone to tell the story that they can make within those parameters. Like I said before, it’s about the experience so even if you can’t stay for all 24 hours or you feel you can’t accomplish the 24 pages we still encourage everyone to show up and be part of the process as much as they can. Whether it’s a six-page romance story or 24 pages of a single fight scene, working on a project surrounded by other creatives will be a great learning opportunity.

SLUG: Do you have any insight on how to pick a genre or type of comic?

Barrow: Work with what you know. Writing within a genre can provide the basic framework for a story that might help keep your story from spiraling out of control. If you are thinking about a genre ahead of time, I would say watch movies and read comics in that genre so that when it comes to making your comic, you will have plenty of ideas. Keep an eye out for cliches and stereotypes to avoid, or even better, find a way to flip them on their head and surprise your reader.

SLUG: For participants, 24 hours on a single project is a lot. What advice do you have as far as preparing?

Barrow: First, get to know your tools. You’ll have an easier time if you aren’t learning how to use a new brush or marker the day of. Second, work on a style that you can draw quickly and consistently. Figure out what details you can cut so you aren’t wasting time on anything unimportant to the story.
Third, start scribbling ideas, characters and objects into your sketchbook now and bring it to the event. You never know when a character you didn’t think you would use can get you out of a tight spot. Your sketchbook will also help you with the first two pieces of advice. If anyone is looking for more detailed advice, Chris Bodily and Chris Kirkham have helped me with a few videos and a workshop which are much more in depth and are all accessible on the 24-Hour Comics Day Facebook event.

SLUG: Will there be easy access to local Ogden foods or refreshments of any type?

Barrow: A few of us have agreed to pitch in and buy pizza for the group on Saturday night. I will be sure to have coffee, tea and snacks available throughout the event. Even Stevens is on the same block as Heebeegeebeez where we are hosting the event and we are planning to place an order with them for breakfast Sunday morning. I’m still working out the details with them as well. We are only a block away from The Junction which has plenty of food places during the daytime hours if anyone needs more than that. Plus, we can always convince someone to make a food run if need be.

SLUG: Do the participants need to bring their own art supplies?

Barrow: Everyone is responsible for their own materials, so bring what you like to work with and be creative. I know a lot of us are working with traditional pencils and markers but there are no rules that say you can’t use crayons, or even show up with a stack of magazines, scissors or a glue stick. Make what you can make, the goal is 24 pages in 24 hours however you get there is up to you.

SLUG: During the event, are there exercises performed to get the creative juices flowing during the 24-hour stint?

Barrow: The great thing about being in a group is that you have other people to bounce ideas off, collaborate or go walk around the block to catch Pokémon with if you need a break. I think the greatest resource available are the other people around you. If you need to step away to regain some energy chances are that someone else does also. Grab some coffee and talk about cat videos or work through your plot with a friend. I’ve had one person ask if they could bring a sleeping bag and take a nap, I’ll make sure we have a safe place for that too.

SLUG: And at the end of the day?

Barrow: Hopefully we all celebrate accomplishing 24 pages and go home to sleep. Ogden UnCon has given us a booth to feature our artists and sponsors and a panel to talk about the experiences at their convention next year so after the event I would love to see everyone print their comics out and share them.

SLUG: What is your goal or hopeful outcome from this 24-hour comic day?

Barrow: I am looking forward to seeing everyone come together to work on comics. A lot of times when you work on art you are alone somewhere and it can be isolating, it’s good to see other people that you can connect with and know so you don’t have to work alone. I want to see the art community grow—especially with comics—I think this event is a perfect place to build friendships with others who share the same passion.

SLUG: Anything you want to say to the potential attending audience?

Barrow: Don’t be afraid to try it. It isn’t a contest, we aren’t competing and nobody will judge you if you can’t complete the challenge. But you will learn a lot and have a lot of opportunities to make friends with other artist. Even if you can only draw stick figures we have a spot open for you.

SLUG: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?


Barrow: I have to thank Heebeegeebeez for giving us a place to work and helping [the event grow], we wouldn’t be hosting it without them. Thanks to Ogden UnCon as well for helping us turn our event into something more than just a night of making comics.

And there you have it, SLUG readers. This Saturday at 6 pm inside the Heebeegeebeez in Ogden, creatives will gather together to create. So find some of those dream and tales floating around your head, because now you have a place to put them.

 

Photo: JB Photo

Folks, we anticipate quite a gathering this year at Live Nite Events’ Bonanza Campout Music Festival. The three-day outdoor music and camping festival at River’s Edge in Heber City takes place June 22–24 for its third year. This is the time for planning. This is the time to learn …

 

 

How to Bonanza

1. Bring a helmet.

If last year’s jump from the first year is any indication of what this year will be like, brace yourself. We have giants like Zhu, Wiz Khalifa and Halsey headlining. There are over 30 musicians performing over three days. Put your helmet on.

 

2. Take your helmet off.

During less-audible moments for those attending as weekend residents, there’s yoga, hiking, fishing and late-night bonfires. Bonanza sits at 50-50 for relaxing moments to euphoric moments. Bonanza can feel like a sensory wave of energy and emotion in one moment g, and then become as serene as a valley in the wilderness within the space of an hour. Think of it as a physical and mental adventure with the best soundtrack you’ve ever heard.

Photo: JB Photo
Photo: JB Photo

 

3. You can use your helmet as a bowl.

This is important because with the amount of vendors attending, you’ll want to try a few things … all at once. It’s like having the munchies at the Toys ‘R’ Us of foodstuff. You’ll have at least three types of french fries, more vegan food than you can shake a stick at, burritos, burgers, whatever you feel like. The smells all around are one of the subtle highlights of the festival. It’s the first thing you’ll notice as you drive up. On top of the food are the clothing vendors, which are a real highlight. You can get dresses, ponchos and the best big, floppy hats. Alcohol in all forms is available for sale, and those staying overnight can obviously keep whatever they like at their sites.


4. The helmet can be a pillow.

Resting and relaxing is half your day. Bring items that steady you in between bands. I bring two zero-gravity chairs with honings, which have been the envy of the those standing for two years in a row. I also set up a hammock by our tent, and the most crucial item you can bring for a hot day is a generic spray bottle filled with water. This keeps you cool and can help with the dust in the air. Also, if you feel so inclined, there’s a VIP bar with shade and plenty of chairs. Things that make grass comfy are a must.

Photo: JB Photo
Photo: JB Photo

 

5. The helmet can be a conversation piece.

There are so many friendly staffers wandering around to answer questions that you won’t be awash for info. The crowd will engage you regardless. Bonanza draws in great artists, and these artists create communities. Festivals unify people when these communities come together. Plan on having amazing dialogue. Present that awesome you in dress, energy, extravagance or simplicity.

 

6. You can mount a camera to a helmet.

Pictures are what you have after Bonanza, so take lots the them. The main stage at night looks fantastic, but you are also visiting Rivers Edge in Heber City. There’s plenty of gorgeous nature around to snap pictures of.

Photo: Jacob Avanzato
Photo: Jacob Avanzato

 

7. A helmet can be thrown and caught.

Games are all over the festival in several forms. There are the games offered by the festival, and then there are the impromptu games, which range from football and volleyball to cards, what looked like tag and the most inventive beer pong setups you’ve ever seen. The range of competitors span from quasi-athletic to wildly drunk. If your heart desires it, there’s a game for you. Alcohol is welcome—just bring and keep it in a cooler and plan ahead. The closest liquor store requires you to leave the festival, head to Heber and re-park.

 

8. The helmet can be used as ear muffs.

This is a kid-friendly festival, but like with any mass group, a general rating of behavior is hard to establish. There is a playground and activities to keep a child occupied, but these are concerts—and the rowdy are rampant. If you are a parent, you will have to be your usual vigilant self.

Photo: Jacob Avanzato
Photo: Jacob Avanzato

 

9. You can store a phone charger in your helmet.

Kiosks are available for phone charging, but nothing beats having a phone charger prepared. The No. 1 thing I hear at any festival is, “My phone’s dead.”

 

10. Make sure to put bug spray on your helmet.

Actually, for a festival, Bonanza is virtually bug-less. However, camping spots by the river or pond will have bugs. (Camping spots are first-come, first-served, so campers need to arrive early friday for the good spot. Think about shade and trash locations during your reconnaissance.)

On a better note: Camping spots by the pond include the benefit of proximity to the Pond Yacht after-party and morning yoga. The Pond Yacht after party leans more toward a rave environment with EDM DJs. Dancing and euphoric experiences abound around the pond till the early morning.

Photo: Keenan Hock
Photo: Keenan Hock

 

11. Do not bring your helmet in the shower.

Huge bathroom trailers are brought in with individual changing areas attached to showers. You will have practical access for most hygienic habits. In the first year of the festival, someone actually brought an inflatable hot tub. It wasn’t exactly hygienic, but feel free to improvise on all things that keep you and the festival clean.

 

12. Do not abandon your helmet.

Getting separated during a festival this big is going to happen. This doesn’t imply that you should come alone, but getting a lay of the land and setting up meeting points is the first thing you should do, after checking out the Bonanza merch stand. Last year, all the good sizes were sold out by the first day.

 

13. Give your helmet a name.

It’s important to address the festival culture. If Bonanza 2018 is going to be your first festival, then it’s important to know that this is the You Away from You. Festivals are unique in this way. You are not meeting Bridget from work. You’re meeting Bridget the star child. You get to spend time with people as who they are, away from circumstance. This is why, every year, more and more people attend these exotic festivals. It’s an artistic plunge. A warm, fuzzy vacation … with Quinn XCII.

Photo: JB Photo
Photo: JB Photo

 

If you have been to a concert, you have not been to a festival. If you’ve been to a festival, you haven’t been to Bonanza. Bring a helmet.

SLUG Magazine meets Social Axe Throwing. Photo: Brayden Floyd

When’s the last time you’ve thrown something at something else? Do you ever throw a cell phone and marvel at your accuracy? There’s an inner release that comes from being accurate while smashing something. Try this: Grab a sturdy figurine of sorts (a small stuffed animal works in a pinch) and place it on top of a chair. Now stand two table lengths away from Mr. Fluffy Cakes and grab a pillow. I want you to hold the pillow in a golf-like grip from one of the corners with two hands (Thumbs interlocked). Now raise your hands back behind your head and on the count of three, fling that pillow at Mr. Fluffy Cakes’ relentlessly cheerful face.

Three! (Thunk.)

SLUG writer Ben Tilton. Photo: Brayden Floyd
SLUG writer Ben Tilton. Photo: Brayden Floyd

Feel better? Now replace that pillow with a Swedish Hults Bruk axe. If you were inventive and used two pillows, that’s OK … you can also throw two axes here. Replace Mr. Fluffy Cakes with multiple 2-foot-by-6-foot pine boards that make up a target, and you’re standing where I’m standing. I’m in an old steel-fabrication shop that’s now become the hub for SLC’s version of Ogden’s original Social Axe Throwing … club. It’s not really a club, but it feels like club. It’s more like bowling or Top Golf as far as structure and presentation goes. You have the option of being a walk-in ($15 per person per hour) or league play; or with a group, you can rent out an arena for the Main Event, which offers stools, tables and curtains for privacy. The Social Axe Throwing (club) also has a series of rotating food truck vendors that pull right up to your area for food via window. Events can be catered as well.

Holding an axe over your head is an “empowering feeling,” says Steve Lister, one of the three Social Axe Throwing founders. Lister is killing it in his red-and-black flannel today. He also has a coaching background, so his skill is bleeding into my skill, and I’ve been destroying pine ever since. Pine has never done anything to me personally, but I render the target unrecognizable anyway. Each swing is release. The numbers in the circle mean nothing to me. All I see is late fees, traffic and people who wear sandals outside in the winter. Every nuisance. Every annoyance is split right down the middle. Nothing tells the image of impractical winter-sandal-wearing people to go away like an axe—that’s just science.

“Everyone gets a little coaching before they start throwing,” says Lister. In this 4,000-plus-square-foot arena, coaching is reasonable and comforting. I want to wield this instrument with confidence, not fling it through the air under the “winging it” protocol. You have to be safe with axes (just ask any former teen in a horror movie). There’s no release if you don’t value the power of what you’re holding. Safety first—then DESTROY PINE!

There’s actually a bit more to do than destroy pine at Social Axe Throwing. If you decide on the Arena Package, you get two hours of HORSE (like in basketball, but you spell out “SOCIAL AXE THROWING”), Around the World (like in darts) and a final competition of 10 to 12 throws for the ultimate high score and chance to become the Axe Master Champ!

Ben with the three founders of Social Axe Throwing, Steve Lister, Mark Floyd and Brayden Floyd.
Ben with the three founders of Social Axe Throwing, Steve Lister, Mark Floyd and Brayden Floyd.

While Lister and I are being social and throwing the axes, the other two founders, Mark and Brayden Floyd, come over to say hi. You can tell the brothers apart only by facial hair. Brayden has a majestic beard, and Mark has a moustache with so much personality, you feel obligated to meet him twice. Mark and I threw a few axes in tandem for a minute before discussing the athletic benefits of axe throwing. “This is really a workout,” he says. “You come here and throw the axe 40 to 80 times … You’ll feel it.” The Estwing axe provided by Social Axe Throwing is sturdy with some weight to it. Just the process of reeling back and releasing it feels fluid, like swimming.

But here’s the thing: The people around me throwing axes aren’t sports guys. Lister and I noted that about three-quarters of the attendees were women. Lister then tells me a story of this boy who came in with his parents. I guess the boy was talking polite little boy trash to his mom for not playing, until his mom stepped up and destroyed him (While talking polite little mom trash.) Additionally, because my initial impression of axe throwing was that it would take some practice before I got it down. This is not the case—it came easy. Social Axe Throwing accommodates many skill levels, but even as a beginner you can find a way to be competitive.

On the way out, Brayden and I pass one last area called the Losers Lounge. Apparently, you can come here, eat snacks, hangout and not throw a thing. You can be a curious bystander and check everything out. I encourage you to do so. It’s exciting to watch and really sucks you in. “It’s totally primal,” reads the tagline for Social Axe Throwing. This is true: Axe-throwing connects with you in a really instinctive way. I had never thrown an axe before I walked into Social Axe Throwing, but I hit the target the first time …  and then again … and again.

I felt great.


The Salt Lake City location of Social Axe Throwing is located at 1154 S. 300 W. and is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. For more information, visit socialaxethrowing.com.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Campbell

Fans of Bruce Campbell are a unique bunch. We’ve bonded over things like demon possession and his Where’s Waldo-like appearances in Sam Raimi films. We’ve dressed up as Ash at one point (or two), or maybe you were a demon, if you’re into that thing. We’ve had wonderful B–horror movie marathons celebrating Campbell’s glory. We’ve binge-watched Burn Notice several times, mostly sober. We are true fans who have been through thick and thin, and we’ve chuckled the whole way. We are proudly Bruce Campbell fans.

My brother and I jumped on the bandwagon at age 10 with The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., and to this day, it’s one of two things I can talk about with my dad (the other is jazz). Back in 2001, Campbell became available in two mediums with his first book, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor. It sold over 150,000 copies and was praised for its reliability and wit. Now, Campbell is on tour promoting his new book, Hail to the Chin, while presenting his geek-based trivia show, Last Fan Standing, to all 35 stops. Between Texas and Oklahoma, Campbell took some time to talk with SLUG about his upcoming SLC tour stop, which takes place at the Tower Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 19. He was polite, poised and completely irritated with me.

Ring …

Bruce Campbell: Heeello.
SLUG: Hello!
Campbell: Hello?

SLUG: Hi, this is SLUG Magazine. Is this Bruce Campbell?
Campbell: Yes, it is.

SLUG: Holy balls! It’s nice to talk to you.
Campbell: It’s nice hearing you.

SLUG: So, new book, new tour. How are you planning on topping the Chins Across America tour?
Campbell: I already have. I’ve done it. We got to No. 8 on the “New York Times Best Sellers” list. So I’m done. I don’t even need to talk to you.

SLUG: Ha! So it’s pointless promotion at this point.
Campbell: Exactly …

SLUG: In your original book, you had this polite way of addressing the most outrageous situations. Does that carry over into your new book?
Campbell: If you read the book, you’d know.

Hail to the Chin | Bruce CampbellSLUG: The question was from the readers’ perspective.
Campbell: Well, how are they gonna know about it if you didn’t read it?

SLUG: I didn’t want to spoil it for them.
Campbell: You didn’t want to spoil not reading the book … but yeah, it has a similar tone, probably more mature, sort of an Act Two.

SLUG: Any crazy stories like infamous Ice out of the A story from Opie & Anthony?
Campbell: The troops in Iraq in ’09 story is pretty out-of-the-box.

SLUG: So, in Season 2 of Ash vs. The Evil Dead, you get attacked by a colon. Do you have a preference when it comes to things to be eaten by?
Campbell: I don’t play any of those games, sir. That’s an impossible answer. I don’t sit around and fancify about those kinda answers.

SLUG: Gotcha. I’ll just throw the next question out, too.
Campbell: Yes, throw out all those questions.

SLUG: Early on in your original book, there’s a story with you and a fox that’s really kind, calm and away from all the actor-ness. Do we get those moments in the new book?
Campbell: Well, you’d know if you read it.

SLUG: Sorry.
Campbell: We’re kind of stymied here. I could lie to you about the book and you wouldn’t know. I would be doing your job if I told you anything.

SLUG: I’m on the list to check it out at the library.
Campbell: It’s only 28 bucks. …

SLUG: So you’re going to be coming through Utah eventually on your trip. Do you have any Utah experiences that stick out?
Campbell: Yeah, Utah is a great place to get lost and wander off the map. It’s one of those places where you can drive as far as you can, ride your bike as far as you can and walk as far as you can.

SLUG: Any crazy stories from the new book tour?
Campbell: Ha, yeah … let’s just say it’s been active. We’ve sold twice as many books as we thought, so we had to adjust to that. Spend more time doing what we’re doing and planning our day better. Which is fine, ya know—champagne problems.

SLUG: Here is a question some of my performing friends came up with. For fledgling B-movie actors, what level of delusion is required if you intend to be successful? 
Campbell: You have to believe in yourself, certainly. Some people with little talent need a lot of delusion. Others with more need less. Drive is important. There are a lot of talented people with no drive and a lot of untalented people with lots of it.

SLUG: In your first book, you talk about the nano–attention spans of audiences. Sixteen years later, how has that changed the way you present yourself and your performances?
Campbell: It’s changing everything. TV shows aren’t 26 episodes. They’re 10 or, you know, six or eight, or whatever it is.

SLUG: My next question was going to be, “How’s this interview going?” but I think I’ll slide right past it.
Campbell: That’s a good idea.

SLUG: If I told you Bubba Ho-tep was one of my favorite movies, would that help?
Campbell: Nah.

SLUG: Well, aside from this example, what’s the worst interview you’ve ever had?
Campbell: You’ve done it, sir. You’ve really already done it. You’re taking the Top 10 prize here. Just remember in the future: Read the book.

SLUG: Roger that. How’s the turnout been for the Last Fan Standing event? Any crazy costumes, or is this a slacks and polos affair?
Campbell: It’s a pretty clean, family-oriented crowd in Salt Lake City, so I’d expect that. I’ll be saying words like “sarsaparilla” and “golly.” It’s gonna be a very clean-cut game show, and we’re gonna have some fun.

SLUG: Alright, we’ve come to the end. Is there anything you’d like to say to your Utah fanbase?
Campbell: Yes. If you want to get a book signed, buy it from a local store. If you buy it from a local store, I’ll also sign another item, as long as it’s an actual item.

SLUG: So no boob signing?
Campbell: I’d sign a boob, if that’s your plan.

SLUG: Well, Mr. Campbell, I’ll leave you to the open road. Thanks for your time and have a good day!
Campbell: OK, sir, have a fine afternoon.   

And there you have it, folks. Come Sept. 19, Bruce Campbell will host Last Fan Standing at the Tower Theater at 7 p.m. Brush up on your knowledge of sci-fi, superheroes, fantasy and plenty of horror, because geekiness is going to be represented to the fullest!

Steve Martin & Martin Short

Steve Martin and Martin Short share similar initials but are far from similar in actual being. Salt Lake City had the opportunity to experience them both this weekend at the Eccles Theater, so I will do my best at establishing the duo properly on their first comedic tour since millennials learned spellcheck.

In the past, seeing Martin Short required the ability to physically catch Short at any point and ignore the hair fumes from Ed Grimley’s stoic hair concoction. Seeing Steve Martin generally required a feather-arrow prosthetic going through your temple and a banjo plucked just enough to not be annoying. The movie The Three Amigos was my first introduction to the comedic pairing. Their trials with El Guapo and classic songs like “My Little Buttercup” had me performing terribly in front of my parents for some time. For this show, Short and Martin were not your comedians of yesterday—but I wore the arrowhead through the temple in my proud attempt of a nostalgic catering.

Walking in, the Eccles Theater is beautiful. There’s no way around that. Every nook and cranny lights up in a way to make attendees feel special in its presence. We are the center of its attention, and it does a wonderful job of displaying that. Its tall windows do their best to not let one feel small, and its staff is always polite and welcoming. Regarding the audience, I actually had high hopes for this show. SLC has a very unique concert crowd, but tonight seemed to have caught everyone in a bit of a summer dressing-up malaise. This wouldn’t be so bad, except I was one of the few who did dress up, and I found myself wishing for the arrowhead-through-the-temple ensemble. My Utah friends were as beautiful as always, but they were definitely displaying their courtesies toward summers that linger. Gracing the posh Eccles Theater were cargo shorts as prevalent as they’ve ever been in any frat party.

About the banjo playing … OK, so you wouldn’t imagine music being a theme at a comedic maelstrom, but it kind of was. Between Martin Short’s hopping-on-one-foot dancing and Steve Martin’s poised banjo playing, the night had a lot of “stomp” to it. You ever have that moment where you catch yourself singing along to something without the right words? This evening had that moment—in spades. I stood and clapped for the best parts of most the evening.

As for the two comedians, I love both these men dearly. It is challenging to evaluate them without bias. Please forgive me for my frankness.

This show was a well-oiled machine.

It was formulaic to the point that my giddy heart knew to laugh on cue. It varied little from the YouTube videos of past performances. Not one joke fell flat, though, and this was a wonderful recreation of past stand-up routines and performances on SNL. Halfway through the show, I was just laughing on point with the audience and didn’t mind the show’s deliberate catering to nostalgia.  

Martin Short is genuinely funny in his physical comedy. The man is a stitch in the way he shrinks himself down to a tiny portrayal of a character that borders on man and baby. You get the feeling that he is underrated, and he is. Martin Short is an untapped resource. I loved his bits, though I wish he wasn’t used as such gag to complete lengthy monologues. If you are wandering in your presentation, Martin Short will no doubt jump into your arms at some point and save you from such prolonged instances.

Steve Martin (I won’t get to type that so often) is the very reason I write with a comedic prose.  He is simply one of the best entertainers/writers of our time. Since writing for David Letterman, his Carol Burnett–meets–crazy moon man presentation has had us in stitches since Tut was king. It was a bit of sad conclusion to find that Salt Lake City got the same show that past YouTube videos so prominently displayed. This man is an incredible writer, and SNL proved that he can think on his feet, so I (we) expect something like that from him. Mr. Martin, please come back with arrows through your head and that feisty bit of polite antagonism you used to rock us with.

At the end of the evening, the star power alone was worth the ticket. When are you going to EVER see these men come to Utah and perform, whether they first made an impression on you in your teens or your early youth? Seeing Short in odd versions of drag is always side-splitting, and Martin has his pause-in-disbelief (at the sights) down to a science. Even the encore was hilarious. After just a few seconds, Martin bounced back onstage and informed the audience that the lawyers said they had five more minutes left. So, Martin played the banjo for five minutes while repeating, “We have five more minutes left,” until the five minutes had expired.

I really was just happy to sit in front of Short and Martin and to be with them for a bit. The unique thing about Short and Martin is their ability to make you feel like one of them—that you’re in on the joke as well. They felt like friends for an evening I will never forget … even if that means I missed the point.

The 2017 Chocolate & Cheese Festival was hosted at the Natural History Museum of Utah on April 8 and 9, 2017. Photo: Mark Johnston

“Nightmare” was the word I kept hearing from passerby walking up the hill toward the Natural History Museum. The streets on both sides were filled with cars, and that was one steep hill away from the actual parking lot. This is a predicament I’ve been through at big concerts and IPhone release events, but never situations with the word “cheese” in it. This day at Utah’s Chocolate and Cheese Festival was the biggest thing happening in Salt Lake City at the moment, and rain and snow didn’t faze the attendees in the slightest.

I thought “nightmare” was a harsh choice of words, but then I had to wait 432 seconds for one of Kasthuri’s incredible cupcakes, and I understood the harsh reality: 26 of the most delicious vendors in the world were surrounded by Utah’s best connoisseurs. The turnout was so strong, the doors had to be closed after five hours because the building was at capacity. No one could have predicted this level of growth from last year’s event.  

The funny thing about human nature is our ability to create organization out of chaos. All the different vendor booths were designed for casual wanderings and toothpick stabbings of chocolate and cheese. Somehow to the amazement of myself and Patty, the event head honcho, people created giant lines leading to food in most cases, but sometimes only leading to more lines. If I were to sample all these fine wares, I had to become … a chocolate and cheese ninja.

I first witnessed these ninjas shooting between the lines as I took in the multiple-floor event. I admired their bravery, so I grabbed a toothpick and dove into dark chocolate, sharp cheese, caramel, chili oil, olive oil, coffee, honey and jam. That’s right: The Chocolate and Cheese Festival is further enhanced by all sorts of non-dairy alternatives. There was even a chocolate dinosaur fossil sculpture that so intensely replicated source material that I thought I had strolled into the non-festival portion of the museum.

Pacing is important when consuming bulk dairy, so the museum and festival workshops were excellent munchie alternatives. Workshops ranged from chocolate secrets to bizarre foods onto which you can apply your cheese and chocolate. I had already filled my man purse with several cheeses, so I was eager to learn some tricks of the trade for brie and swiss. The following day, my wife dazzled my friends with a Portobello mushroom, spinach and peppered sharp cheese sandwich that could stop traffic. I even set out toothpicks to imitate the festival (oddly enough, they still formed lines as well).

There were differing methods of food distribution at the festival. Some vendors used tongs and some let the patrons use their own hands. This made food ninja’ing easy, but did remind me of the peanut bowls of bars past. The patrons were aggressive during this process (who could blame them?), and I hadn’t been bumped that much since taking salsa lessons with my mom in the land of the late ’90s. Another point of note were the amount of toothpicks dropped and the lack of water access, but my Donkey Kong background with rolling logs quickly negated this, and even though bottled water was scarce, fountains were available at the bathrooms.

On a lighter note, this was the most thoughtful crowd I’d ever been around. Attendees would take a bite, arch their heads back and assume the most thoughtful expressions I’d ever seen. There was also a geeky element to the festival, as several sub-groups formed to the side and had the most elaborate cheese chats I’ve ever heard. The staff of NHMU was incredible at answering my random questions, and one particular staff member named Carson was both helpful and very funny at the same time.

Next year, I imagine the festival will be a similar success too, so to all that wish to attend, I suggest you brush up on your palate, keep an open mind and let Utah’s finest vendors challenge the world of chocolate and cheese as you know it.