Talus, Or Scree: Merrymaking Mixes 2014

For eleven months out of the year, Jay Varner obsessively cultivates his collection of obscure, rare, weird, and beloved holiday music. In mid-November, Patrick Culliton drags Jay out of his gingerbread house, helps him kick the candy cane habit, and coaxes him to share the collection.

This year, we’re doing things a bit differently: all three mixes are released on the same day. Get your fixes below.


Merrymaking Mix One Download

MerrymakingTwo MerrymakinTwoBackMerrymaking Mix Two Download

MerrymakingThree MerrymakinThreeBack

Merrymaking Mix Three Download

And, holiday music lovers, you probably want to check out the documentary Jingle Bell Rocks.

Help Brad Carter Finish this Album!

While we are on a summer restorative at the moment, it’s a good time to look back on the year thus far. Another jam-packed installment of the Poetry and Cruelty Hotline. We are near 100 poets for this series thus far—and we couldn’t be prouder or more excited for all of them. We spoke with Shawna Kenney about eroticism and punk. Kate Sweeney discussed death in American culture. By far, our biggest endeavor was recapping the great HBO drama True Detective. And we got lucky. We invited Amy Black, one of the premiere tattoo artists in America, to come on the show and share the love. Amy also does amazing, important work with the Pink Ink Fund. We talked with Charlie Halford, one of the show’s most terrifying characters. Charlie is about to knock it out of the park on NBC’s Constantine this fall, and we can’t wait.

Which brings us to Brad Carter. If you missed his episode, check it out. Brad has an amazing story—plus he’s a swell guy. Generous, talented, and capable of making everyone feel happy to be a part of this world. Brad is working hard at finishing up his first album. But he needs your help. Check out the video below to see what you can do to make his dream come true. And, honestly, once you hear some of the music, it’s going to be your dream as well.

Shawna Kenney’s Little Rascals Mentality


book lovers - shawna kelleyThe indefatigable Shawna Kenney visits and shows Jay and Patrick how it’s done. From corresponding with Ian MacKaye at the age of 16 to working as a dominatrix to put herself through college to writing treatments for reality television shows, and much more, Shawna has written, listened, and collaborated her way to a writing life unlike any other. We do our best to cover her many projects, the most recent being Book Lovers: Stories from Under the Covers, while getting a glimpse of what’s to come.

While We’re Still Alive-A Conversation with Kate Sweeney

sweeney.kate_SWEENEY_American-Afterlife_cvr_fnl-copyKate Sweeney, “pretty cheerful person” and author of the fantastic American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning, comes on the show to talk about her book and much more. Many of the questions we ask were crafted by Jay’s Creative Non-Fiction students at James Madison University. Kudos to them for giving us such varied and interesting ways with which to build a conversation. Also, Kate gets us to tell the riveting story of how our podcast got its name.

Talus, Or Scree Archive Release No. 2: It’s A Strange World


A while back we switched servers and, as a result, we lost some of our earlier episodes. To right this wrong and ensure these great episodes are available for old and new listeners alike, we will be doing archival releases during 2014.

In our second archive release, we talk with Benedict Fancy about his most recent project, It’s a Strange World: The Filming of Blue Velvet, which, as its title implies, is a documentary about a much loved movie at Talus, Or Scree. Jay often does this for Patrick. Patrick often says this to Jay.

It’s an hour dedicated to the dark and funny little movie that put Wilmington, NC on the film-making map. The documentary has a Facebook page, so you can keep up on release details and related events. And you can keep up with Ben and his cohorts’ other wonderful work here. You can even donate to the documentary, which is being filmed on a small budget, with many crew members offering their time and skill out of love for the project. And Ben’s dreamy eyes. Don’t You f*#king look at him!

Thanks, Ben, for the great conversation and all the great, heretofore (to us) unknown details (go listen!) about Blue Velvet. Pookahontas sings a classic from the movie.

The Poetry & Cruelty Hotline, Vol. 10


ElliottLogoOne final, loaded dispatch of poems and cruelties for the year! Come on in and hear what Travis Nichols, Ada Limón, Matthew Pennock, Allison Kistenbroker, Paige Taggart, Jackie Clark, Mike Krutel, Ladan Osman, Erika L. Sánchez, Bridget Talone, Lauren Hunter, Laura Swearingen-Steadwell, and Sampson Starkweather have to tell you! Look for a new Hotline next April, and new episodes here between now and then! Ada’s poem first appeared in Dream The End Jackie’s poem first appeared in smoking glue gun Ladan’s poem first appeared in Narrative Erika’s poem is forthcoming in Diode Bridget’s poem fist appeared in White Elephant

The Poetry & Cruelty Hotline, Vol. 9

ElliottLogoThe Easter bunny has returned to his home planet, but he left us an egg full of poems and tales of cruelty from Daniel Scott Parker, Abigail Zimmer, Patrick Samuel, Joshua Young, Layne Ransom, Alexis Pope, Amy Lawless, and Tara Boswell.

Daniel’s poem first appeared in Columbia Poetry Review.

Abigail’s poem is forthcoming in Jellyfish.

Layne’s poem first appeared in Big Lucks.

Amy’s poem first appeared in Hyperallergic.


The Poetry & Cruelty Hotline, Vol. 8

ElliottLogoSure, April is half-spent, but we’re just getting started. This installment of The Poetry & Cruelty Hotline features gems from J Hope Stein, Kenyatta Rogers, Keith Wilson, Kit Frick, Seth Landman, and Sommer Browning.

J Hope’s poem is forthcoming in Poetry International.

Kenyatta and Daniel Scott’s poems first appeared in Columbia Poetry Review.

Kit’s poem first appeared in Kill Your Darlings, Clementine, a chapbook from Rye House Press.

Sommer’s poem first appeared on The Academy of American Poets website.


The Poetry & Cruelty Hotline, Vol. 7

ElliottLogoIt’s time for another fat sack of poems & cruelties, brought to you this week by Sabrina Orah Mark, Nathan Hoks, Chad Chmielowicz, Clay Banes, Carolyn Zaikowski, Jess Grover, Wendy Xu, and Michael Robins. Enjoy! More to come!

Sabrina’s poem first appeared in Typo.

Do you like that Mountain Goats song? Go buy the album, available in a variety of formats. Be warned: you can’t hold and smell the digital version. FYI.

The Poetry & Cruelty Hotline, Vol. 6

ElliottLogoHappy National Poetry Month! The Poetry & Cruelty Hotline is open once again. Our first installment features poems and cruelties from Whitney Holmes, Caryl Pagel, Shane McCrae, Natalie Shapero, Alisa Heinzman, and Seth Parker, who, in his way, Rickroll’d us. Look for new installments every week of April!

Shane’s poem first appeared in iArtistas. The Emily Dickinson poem that Alisa read can be found in this beauty.


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