06/16/2010 at 4:54 am | Posted in 49>50, General Nerdery, Stories from the Road | 3 Comments

Asked of me tonight on http://formspring.me/mariancall:

How many miles have you covered so far? How many meters? How many cubits?

[I run to check car repair paperwork from my #frakagasket incident [in which my car’s headgasket went, along with a number of other things, days before this trip began]…]

Miles driven since #frakagasket repair in Anchorage: 7,581
That’s in exactly 4 weeks — well, with 1 week of no driving and no shows here in Austin. So an average of 361 miles per day on days that I played shows.

7,581 miles
= 1.22 x 10^7 meters
= 2.669 x 10^7 cubits
= 1.9 x equatorial radius of Earth ( 6.37814×10^6 m )
= 0.3 x equatorial circumference of Earth ( 2 pi R_(+) )

(Thank you, http://WolframAlpha.com.)

My car — which is named Agent 99 — got another clean bill of health today with her biweekly oil change.  This one was overdue, actually.  She’s so good!  She’s so so so good!  I love my Subi and I pet her on the dashboard and tell her so all the time.  I don’t know what the total mileage of this trip will be, not by a long shot, but I’m guesstimating 40,000-60,000 miles total.  I will certainly have circled the globe once.  Maybe I should update my Geico profile, come to think of it.

Perhaps I should keep track, separately, of the mileage on me, as I have several airplane trips interspersed throughout the trip.  The first is to Toronto at the end of the month.  Huzzah!  That will be the farthest east I’ve ever been in Canada.  Farthest south, too.

My first day here in Austin, at my Dad’s house, I unloaded everything from the car and we washed and vacuumed her out.  There were no-bake cookies, wasabi soy almonds, carrots, fruit snacks, a piece of a peanut butter Twix bar, beef jerky, and zillions of mystery crumbs under the front seats.  And I found two earrings!  Thankfully before the shop vac did.

I’ve come to associate my car so powerfully with my body that after the vacuuming I felt fuzzy and strange all over.

Bryan Ray, mister guitarist for the Chicago > Santa Fe leg of the trip, taught me a new car game: the COW GAME.  In the Cow Game you count cows on your side of the car in your favor.  If you pass a graveyard on your side of the car, you lose all your cows.  (This is more fun than it sounds, I promise.)  For some reason in Indiana Bryan was getting all the cows — there were simply none on my side.  When we switched and he drove — same thing.  I was frustrated. “Don’t worry about it,” said Bryan. “I’ve been playing this game for a really long time.  I’m kind of a pro.”

One more day of rest here in Austin (and by “rest” I mean incredibly hard computer work, but with the luxury of staying in the same place a few nights and not singing).  I head out Thursday morning for New Mexico, Arizona, Joshua Tree CA (camping trip guys!) and Toronto, ON.  I’m looking forward to driving again, because in a way it’s permission to not be working on my e-mail and promo and such.  Behind the wheel is one of my favoritest freest places to be.


*YMMV stands for Your Mileage May Vary, for those of you not who have a life enough to not know that.

Itinerary, show details at http://mariancall.com:

6/17 Poor David’s Pub, Dallas TX

6/19 KISS Coffeehouse Courtyard, Albuquerque NM

6/20 Corazon, Santa Fe NM

6/22 Open House Concert, Green Valley (Tucson area), AZ

6/23 Open House Concert, Phoenix AZ

6/27 Open House Concert, Toronto ON

6/30 Outdoor Concert, East Stage of Joshua Tree Lake, CA


Twelve Simple Steps to Indie Cred (excerpt)

02/02/2010 at 1:30 am | Posted in General Nerdery, Just for Fun, Music | 1 Comment

I’ve been taking a month or so at home to reflect, focus, and work on my Indie Cred.  I understand that Indie Cred, or “Independent Credibility,” is very important — I learned that from Jennifer Lopez, who writes so compellingly about still being from the block.  It is important to demonstrate to fans and colleagues that you have suffered an appropriate amount to deserve your carefree, indulgent, jet-setting independent musician lifestyle.  And it is also important not to appear to enjoy your life too much, to always wear a slightly stern and melancholy “genuine” Indie Musician Face.  It is also good to cultivate a “genuine” smell.  The Flight of the Conchords knows all about Indie Cred.  And after a year like this one, I could write a book on it, I swear.  I could sell it to other aspiring penniless musicians.  Here’s my premise for free, so nobody steal it:

You, too, can improve your Indie Cred in just twelve simple steps.  They worked for me!

1.  Sleep and work at strange hours, to maximize the probability that you’ll set your alarm for the wrong time.
2.  Be able to carry your entire recording studio, as well as several instruments, in one load.
3.  Do not record in the same place twice.  Use a converted bus, back rooms at the local church, remote sheds, strangers’ houses, and friends’ closets.  Keep your stalkers guessing.
4.  Get accustomed to sleeping in ambient air temperatures.  After a few weeks, forty degrees at night will not seem at all cold.
5.  Housesit. As. Frequently. As. Possible.
6.  When you don’t have the proper tools, improvise.  Use a violin instead of a synthesizer; use a flashlight covered with a trash bag instead of a follow spot; use your phone instead of a computer; use your oven instead of a heater; use your dead cat instead of a shaker.
7.  Walk the fine line between seeking approval and being a snob.  Don’t be on time for appointments, lest you look too eager, but also try to be stood up by important people as often as it is convenient.
8.  Know by heart the menus of all the hip restaurants in town at which a body can eat for less than $5 without seeming cheap.
9.  Be seen one day wearing very fancy clothing and makeup and the next looking haggard and worn from lack of sleep and makeup.  Imagine that this will surely get everyone talking about your Big Important Project and your Dedication.  Then remember that they actually don’t care. (Nobody Caring is a sure sign you have Indie Cred.)
10.  Perform work associated with at least ten different occupations daily.
11.  Wear holes in your clothing the old-fashioned way:  with wear.
12.  Showers = optional.

(But always know where your towel is.)


This is an excerpt from an older blog entry of mine because this little segment wanted its own home to link to.  As I’m finishing a new album I find it bitingly pertinent once again.  Enjoy!

Marian Offers You More Than Ever Before

03/25/2009 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Browncoats, How to this-or-that, News & Explanations | 3 Comments

To finish off my 6-month western U.S. tour successfully, and to help compensate for some unexpected very hard times, and because so many of you asked how you could help: here’s the game plan.  I asked you what you wanted, and you told me, so here it is:

T-shirts, stickers, and other merch are finally in the pipeline.  There will be some terrifically funny ones — in fact, folks at the new (& growing) LiveJournal fan page will get to vote on some of the initial designs next week.  Volvos and Zombie Cheerleaders and Donuts and Mosquitoes are featured.  Stay tuned for links to the new merch store.

CD’s now available in bulk — businesses, nonprofits, clubs, or individuals can resell Vanilla to make an extra buck.  Buy for $8 via Paypal, sell for $15 (or whatever price you like), minimum of 5.  Get them all autographed for an extra dollar per unit.  E-mail for details or to order.

****Update: the specialty and auction items below are no longer available, though some may come available again in later fundraisers or at special events.  The information on the Donors’ Circle is still accurate, though a more current description now resides at MarianCall.com/purchase.php.****

Specialty items on sale for a short time:

– Professional archival prints of one of four Brian Adams photographs, autographed by Brian & Marian, custom message if you like. These are gorgeous.  $65 +S&H (value $125). Order before April 15th. Click & scroll down to view available photos & details

– The last 15 prints of Marian’s very first full-color poster, designed for the release of Vanilla, autographed with the message or show date of your choice.  *This is the poster design with notes from my first fans’ myspace comments.*  Only $10 plus shipping.  Ships rolled, not folded.  Click & scroll down to view & order

– Seats at a private dinner with Marian in Los Angeles, CA on April 22nd or in Austin, TX on May 14th.  Dinner at a vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurant is included (though alcoholic beverages are not).  This event will only take place if 4 or more fans purchase tickets to each meal; $60 per head includes dinner & concert.  Click & scroll down for details

A very small eBay auction with very special items:

This auction will take place at the end of March on eBay.  Photos of all these items and full details for each will be available before the start of the auction.

– A Limited Malcolm Reynolds stunt pistol by Quantum Mechanix, with certificate of authenticity, together with a print of the photo “Aim to Misbehave” by Brian Adams.  Both the gun and the photo will be autographed by Marian and the photo back can have the handwritten message of your choice.

– Two gorgeous handmade “Maid Marian” wood carvings (I own the third), featuring my alter ego from the cover of Vanilla with her badass sword and cell phone.  Autographed with a personal message on the back.  Made from Premium American Cherry wood by fan @edrafalko.  Click to view

– Hand-written, framed lyrics to “Dark Dark Eyes” and “Good Old Girl” on stamped handmade paper (2 items).  Yes, it will be my handwriting.  Yes, my handwriting is pretty.

– The original chicken-scratch drafts of four Marian Call songs as a set, all handwritten, messy, and with rejected original lyrics.  These are less pretty, but more collectible, as they can never be duplicated.

Freebie for all participants:

Because I love you and I love giving stuff away, everyone who purchases ANY of the specialty items or bids on an auction item (even if you don’t win) will also receive a free MP3 only available directly from me: my track “Vanilla” with audio commentary.  I’ll e-mail the MP3 to participants in shifts about a week apart — your should get yours a little while after purchasing.

If you bid in the auction, even if you don’t win, I’ll send you (as an MP3) the same audio clip you might hear if you call my phone and get my voicemail.  It’s sung a capella:

Thank you for calling, leamme a message please

Tell me what day and what month and what year it is

‘Cause I’m not here, no baby, I’m not home

The lights are on for sure, but maybe the occupants have flown

I’ll catch you later lo-ove, uh-oh, goodbye.

Perfect to put on your voicemail message, or, if you’re into a capella vocal ringtones, it works for that too.  It’s a free audio phone toy snippet thing.

Last but not least, since so many of you asked:

The Donors’ Circle

I think of the Donors’ Circle as my very own Zombie Cheerleaders — they keep me rolling and keep me independent, and they own my music in a very real sense.  I’m accountable to them to keep the art coming, and to keep it real and meaningful.

I’m inviting folks who are interested to purchase shares of my next album.  It won’t come out for a while; I’ll probably start recording this winter.  But it’s never too early to start getting people on board.  Shares start at $200 with different levels of commitment — and you can pay in small monthly installments if you want. *Any specialty item or auction purchase this spring will count towards the purchase of a share if you wish to do both.*

There will be major perks to being part of the donors’ circle as I start the next album, including preview tracks, commentary, VIP concert treatment, blooper recording reels, and more.  For more details on the perks, the new album, and the donors’ circle, click here for an explanation and scroll all the way to the bottom.  It’s really easy to do. And great art is worth it.

Clarification:  This is an investment you make because you want the album to exist, not to make money.  If you want to make money, consider purchasing CD’s in bulk.  There will be many benefits & exclusives for the Donors’ Circle, but a cut of album sales is not one of them (the legal hassles alone would be insurmountable).  But if you have more ideas of benefits you’d like to see, or items you’d like to see offered for sale, let me know!

Welcome to LA! No, you can’t park here

03/10/2009 at 11:51 pm | Posted in General Nerdery, Stories from the Road | 1 Comment

[This is a re-post of portions of an older blog from http://xanga.com/mariancall.%5D

I think a brief reintroduction is in order, since so many good people — the sort with fabulous taste in wall decor and cool sunglasses — have been dropping by my messy virtual pad lately.

I’m trying to use fewer words to say more, so Twitter is my medium of choice lately.   Brevity is the soul of twit, as @brentspiner reminds us.  Let’s see if I’ve made any progress in that department:

Hi!  I’m Marian, and I’m a lexiholic.  I was inspired and raised outside Seattle, humbled for four years at Stanford, and tempered for five years in Alaska, which is where I currently live.

In answer to your questions, yes, Alaska is, in some ways: big, cold, hot, dark, light, part of the U.S.A., beautiful, bothersome, expensive, life-threatening, picturesque, and picaresque.

No, Alaska is not: entirely civilized, entirely wilderness, all hippies, all rednecks, vampire-infested, backwards (cuz that would be Aksala, silly).  I cannot see Russia from downtown Anchorage, though I do occasionally see the Russian Mafia, if that helps.  I aim to please.

I live with my husband @Mr_Call in a forty-foot vintage converted Greyhound bus called the Millennium Tortoise.  We travel a great deal in our continuing quest to learn just how much the government hates people without an actual street address.  Should you find our bus in your neighborhood, that means you should come hear a concert somewhere nearby!  (But please do not drop by our house uninvited.  Send flowers first.)

I make music.  That is to say, I write, arrange, rehearse, perform, record, edit, release, package, and promote these little acoustic ditties I like.  Some are funny, some are sad, most are (like me) a little nerdy, a little shy, and embarrassingly enthusiastic just beneath the surface.  If you want some background music while you browse, here’s a free streaming playlist of my stuff at imeem.com.  To buy music, visit iTunes or my website for other options.

Someday I would like to meet you at a live show (because the shows are much better than the recordings, and the recordings are good).  Then I shall sing you a song and hopefully make you laugh or sigh, and help you feel +1 better than you did.  Because that’s what I do.  And all I want is to keep doing it.


I know that as a Washingtonian — as an Alaskan — as an indie musician — as a Stanford grad — as a geek — I’m sort of obligated to dislike L.A.  But I just can’t.  I really enjoy it there, and I love going back.  It’s funny, fabulous, scary, intimidating, hollow, pretentious, lascivious, riddled with scandal, and everything else it’s purported to be.  In other words, it’s endlessly entertaining.

Maybe I enjoy it because of the circles I choose to move in there.  I’ve done some celebrity spotting, never deliberately — but mostly I prefer to spend my time with writers, indie musicians, nerds, geeks, and the sorts of filmmakers or actors who love film more than they love themselves.  I guess that’s a good guiding principle everywhere: find people who love what they do, and are humbled and thrilled to be doing it, and you’ll be in good company.

We drove the Millennium Tortoise down I-5 to spend a whole month in SoCal last November.  Just a month before we had schooled the Al-Can Highway, which means we suffered eight days of potholes, frost heaves, and bison in the roads.  I can now say with confidence that the last stretch of I-5, north of L.A., is much worse than the barely-paved Yukon.  We lost dishes to the bumps in the last mountain pass.  I think it broke our computer/TV a little, because it developed selective amnesia after that painful ride.

Since I know you were curious, here are some alternate names for the Millennium Tortoise, thanks to my father, who loves to pester me by sending me anagrams.  He e-mailed me the following recently:

Millennium Tortoise =

Run on, timeliest limo!
may your timeliest limo run on in safety, brave ones!

Enormous little Mini
Mini compared to some things, I suppose.  Like, say, Texas.

Ennui limits tremolo
This has actually not been my experience.

Inuit Tremolo miles
as opposed to normal miles — you Alaskans do everything differently.

No sluttier lion mime
There is no sluttier lion mime than you, my dear

I, Mister Onion Mullet
Scented mullet.  Mmmmmmm.

and, for shorter trips around town:
I, nine mile Motorslut.

Upon arriving in the L.A. area with a somewhat busted bus (good band name!), we started the hunt for somewhere — anywhere — to park a forty-foot bus.  Normally it’s just a matter of finding a strip mall or Walmart or campground or a friend’s driveway.  Oh, I hear some of you even now laughing at our naivetë — but please keep in mind this simple rule: most of what you know now, you know because you learned it too late for the first time you needed to know it. (Can someone say that last bit better, please?)

What we now know is this: there is nowhere, but nowhere to park an R.V. in L.A.  We looked for days. No Walmart, no Target, Ralph’s chased us out, the beach is not public parking, the suburbs are metered.  There are RV parks which cost $60 per night, but they wouldn’t allow us to stay for more than X number of nights.  Plus, the whole point of bringing the bus was to stay cheap-or-free and save on hotels.  Our mistake.

So we drove around a lot more than we wanted to, getting knocks on our door and being politely or not-so-politely asked to leave this or that public space for which we’d already paid.  We’re a NiMBy.  You should’ve seen (or rather heard) the disapproval of other drivers when we took the bus on the road.  I think the Prius drivers were honking at us to shame us for our unburned hydrocarbons, and the Escalade drivers were honking because they suddenly felt inadequate and vulnerable for the first time.

(A note about fuel consumption, BTW:  I know it smells bad to drive behind us, but dude, we’ve cut our energy consumption and environmental footprint to a fraction of yours.  Plus we’re recycling and reusing, in the truest sense.  So sell your condo and live in your car before you honk at us, hybrids.  (Feel free to continue honking at Escalades, though, as this amuses me and they’re easy targets. (Also, everybody take turns nesting parentheses, because it’s good clean fun.)))

BUT parking issues notwithstanding, at every little venue, our little half-hour set completely dominated.  I have my underage guitarist and my brilliant drummer to thank for that, partially.  In every show, at every venue, we were the ones who wound up with e-mail list signups and album sales and eager handshakes from venue owners and low whistles from otherwise apathetic patrons.  Our songs made people shut up and laugh and cry.  Mission accomplished!

We made no money at any of the shows.  But by the end of the tour, my online sales of Vanilla — sales from around the world, not L.A. — had increased tenfold, and only slowed a little after the holiday.  If that makes any sense to you, you have my admiration.  But I’m happy, because means I’m a step or two closer on the road to solvency.  And I’m sure our unpaid tour was connected to a bigger online presence.

I’m eager to come back to LA and SD, because we met so many great people there.  We were even thrown a kickin’ Rock Band party by the San Diego Browncoats.  (N.B.: we will play Rock Band with almost anyone, anywhere.  And no, don’t give me the microphone.  If you do, I will use my opera voice for everything.  It’s guitar, drums, or opera; those are your choices.)

You’re fabulous, L.A.  Stay hilarious, stay unfriendly, stay dramatic, keep your bluster, keep bristling with possibility, keep smashing dreams.  Only next time — let us park our fabulous vintage luxury Alaskan bus.  Please?

Photos at http://flickr.com/mariancall.
Highlights from the Creation Con & my Got to Fly CD release in the next blog. This one’s too long already!

Nov 08 – New Album!!!!1!!!! Special Project for Geeks Like Me

03/10/2009 at 11:37 pm | Posted in Browncoats, General Nerdery, How to this-or-that, Music, News & Explanations | Leave a comment


And it’s a very special one, for a group of very special fans who have fed and housed me and given me many, many stickers, T-shirts, and lanyards, and even my treasured rain stick.  But everyone’s invited to enjoy it, because it’s non-exclusive.  It’s just a little geeky is all.

Details about the album are at QuantumMechanix.com, because Quantum Mechanix and Black Market Beagles commissioned and paid for this album.  That makes it my first record deal!  Interviews about it will be released soon on The Signal podcast and SerenityStuff.com.


Some folks have questioned the availability of the album, since only 1,000 autographed and numbered CD’s will be printed, and it’s being released first at the Creation Convention at the end of this month, where I’m playing a rockin’ concert.  Here’s how it works: if you’re at the convention, you have first dibs, because that’s where it will be released.  After that, starting November 24th, you can order the CD online, but only through QuantumMechanix.comFriends and family — that includes you! You can’t get the disc from me, only from the website.  When it’s gone, it’s gone.

But the digital version of the album will also be released on November 24th, and that should be available through the usual outlets — iTunes, CDBaby.com, AmazonMP3, and so on.  The digital version of the album I distribute myself, so you don’t need to worry about missing out.

This collection is all about being a nerd, and how awesome it is to be a nerd — and aren’t we all nerds for something?  I’m a nerd for Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, and all the songs on this album are inspired by those shows.  But they are also all listenable for folks who are not familiar with the stories and characters — this is music about relationships and real life.  If you know the shows, you’ll get the encoded secret message.  But if not, this is still music that I’m proud of — some of it represents a big step forward for me when it comes to writing, producing, and singing, and it’s also quite a bit more finished than any of the Songs of the Month.  This is a work by commission, meaning it would never have been produced except for the folks who loved the music enough to get it recorded and distributed.  It’s a special project for you who asked.  So thank you for asking!

Those of you who are connected in the internet world — spread the word!  It would be tacky for me to advertise on the boards myself, so I need some help.  The big announcement graphic above is at http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z193/enjolras14/Got-to-Fly-announcement2.png, and the album cover (photo by Brian Adams) is at http://i190.photobucket.com/albums/z193/enjolras14/GottoFlyalbumcover.jpg.  The sample MP3’s can be embedded in web pages that allow that sort of thing, and they’re all at http://mariancall.imeem.com/.  You can put any of these on your own website, or on message boards and forums.  Let’s light up the web!

Sept 08 – Twelve Simple Steps to Indie Cred

03/10/2009 at 9:40 pm | Posted in General Nerdery, How to this-or-that, Just for Fun, Music, News & Explanations | 2 Comments

[This is a repost of an older blog, from September 2008. Original at http://xanga.com/mariancall.]

I’ve been taking a month or so to work on my Indie Cred.  I understand that Indie Cred, or “Independent Credibility,” is very important — I learned that from Jennifer Lopez, who writes so compellingly about still being from the block.  It is important to demonstrate to fans and colleagues that you have suffered an appropriate amount to deserve your carefree, indulgent, jet-setting independent musician lifestyle.  And it is also important not to appear to enjoy your life too much, to always wear a slightly stern and melancholy “genuine” Indie Musician Face.  It is also good to cultivate a “genuine” smell.  The Flight of the Conchords knows all about Indie Cred.  And after a summer like this one, I could write a book on it, I swear.  Here’s my premise for free, so nobody steal it:

You, too, can improve your Indie Cred in just twelve simple steps.  They worked for me!

1.  Sleep and work at strange hours, to maximize the probability that you’ll set your alarm for the wrong time.
2.  Be able to carry your entire recording studio, as well as several instruments, in one load.
3.  Do not record in the same place twice.  Use the bus, back rooms at church, remote sheds, strangers’ houses, and friends’ closets.  Keep your stalkers guessing.
4.  Get accustomed to sleeping in ambient air temperatures.  After a few weeks, forty degrees at night will not seem at all cold.
5.  Housesit. As. Frequently. As. Possible.
6.  When you don’t have the proper tools, improvise.  Use a violin instead of a synthesizer; use a flashlight covered with a trash bag instead of a follow spot; use your phone instead of a computer; use your oven instead of a heater; use your dead cat’s ashes instead of a shaker.
7.  Walk the fine line between seeking approval and being a snob.  Don’t be on time for appointments, lest you look too eager, but also try to be stood up by important people as often as it is convenient, so you can feel remotely responsible.
8.  Know by heart the menus of all the hip restaurants in town at which a body can eat for less than $5 without seeming cheap.
9.  Be seen one day wearing very fancy clothing and makeup and the next looking haggard and worn from lack of sleep and makeup.  Imagine that this will surely get everyone talking about your Big Important Project and your Dedication.  Then remember that they actually don’t care. (Nobody Caring is a sure sign you have Indie Cred.)
10.  Perform work associated with at least ten different occupations daily.
11.  Wear holes in your clothing the old-fashioned way:  with wear.
12.  Showers = optional.

(But always know where your towel is.)

I’m also working on my Alaska Cred, by planning a trip down the Al-Can (that’s the Alaska-Canada Highway) late in the season in a bus towing a jeep carrying a scooter.  I hear there’s already snow in the Interior.  Fingers crossed, everybody!  The more I get used to this life, the less sincerely I can sing “I Wish I Were a Real Alaskan Girl.” Although I cannot yet wrench on my own goose, I am getting used to a very different style of living.  I will never again take running water for granted.  I’m not ready for Helm’s Deep yet, but at least I’m not a wuss.

Despite all my strenuous Cred-Building exercises I am very happy with my work and my situation.  How many people get to record several different typewriters, model for a nationally renowned photographer, rehearse with a guitarist who plays like Dave Matthews, and eat reindeer sausage all in the same day?  Lucky me.

As a matter of fact, I’m so thankful for what I get to do that this month’s song is free. “100 Easy Ways to Lose a Man” is yours for the downloading on my myspace — if you’re a myspace user — or by e-mail, if you’re not.  You can hear it at  imeem.com or on my homepage.  Feel free to spread it around!  This song yearns to fly free. At least for the month of September.  [Note from the present: it’s now available on iTunes and other MP3 vendors.]


This little ditty is from a lesser-known Leonard Bernstein/Al Green/Betty Comden musical, “Wonderful Town.” When I was twelve, I was definitely going to be on Broadway.  If this is as close as I ever get — I’ll take it!  I’ve always loved this song, and I finally found a friend who was willing to learn to play it in Liz Malys, a talented piano songstress with whom I shared a concert last month.  If you want the song for your own, just snag it off the myspace music module or else e-mail me.


Fundraising is like (choose your own metaphor):
buying toilet paper
doing your taxes
going to the dentist
tweezing nose hairs

It’s not very exciting, and sometimes it’s a downright hassle.  But it’s important, and it comes around once a year at least for most of us artist types.  Yes, I am doing a fundraiser throughout September.  Why?  It’s pretty normal for Alaskan bands, actually, because we have to travel so very far to come play for most of you.  And it’s rapidly becoming important to having Indie Cred, which it seems I will soon have in spades…

The real reason I’m raising funds, and working at this 100 hours a week, and risking a great deal for music, is because I believe great art is worth it.  Some things you invest in for a return — other things you invest in simply because you want them to keep existing.  So if you feel so moved, please take a second and make a donation, even $5.  By leaving a tip, you will be participating in something intercultural and international and important, I truly believe that.  Great Art Is Worth It.

[Note: Paypal link now resides at http://mariancall.com/listen.php. Having trouble posting it here for some reason; open to tech help suggestions in the comments.]

If you would rather make a purchase than a donation,
this is a terrific time to download a single track or to buy a copy of Vanilla from CDBaby or iTunes.  These purchases help me immensely by demonstrating there’s a market for my music.  Plus, the holidays are coming, and you’ll need your traditional Kwanzaa CD’s at the ready.

If you haven’t got a penny, then a ha’penny will do: I’m a starving artist with You-Know-What-Kind-Of-Cred, and I understand how it is.  If you don’t have even a dollar to spare, then snag the free track, spread it around to some friends, and talk about the music.  Or better yet, drop by the place where you purchase or listen to music — online or in real life — and either leave an honest review or request some airplay.

Just remember, the power is in your hands, O listener — I hope you’re feeling a thrill go down your spine and laughing an ominous laugh.  Because you definitely deserve to cut loose a little.  I mean, you rule.  Literally.  So take advantage of that.  And don’t forget to work on the laugh, because that’s about standards.

April 08 – My First Tour in Haiku

03/10/2009 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Browncoats, General Nerdery, Music, Stories from the Road | Leave a comment

I. In which I undertake a bipartite account of my first tour, in haiku with marginalia
II. In which I explain the Song of the Month


It is so good to be home in the land of long days, proper Italian espresso, and excellent beer. Of course, at this writing it is snowing like gangbusters outside, but home is home. My travels were exhausting and terrific:

– I went to San Diego, where I met some very laid back people and played on the beach.
– I went to Hollywood for the first time, where I met some very glamorous people and did many film-related things.
– I went to Austin, where I met very hip artsy people and did many music-related things.
– I went to Houston for the first time, where they shot me in the head and I bled profusely.

Here are some of my travel stories in haiku. I’m borrowing this idea from my stepbrother’s girlfriend, because she is brilliant. It will help to keep my word count down, because my first draft of this blog was turning into a very dull novella (that’s why I was taking so long to post. It sucked). Also, I’ve been watching lots of Arrested Development, and I’m working on punching up and tightening my exposition. Haiku helps. Here goes:

I. Los Angeles

Flying all night sucks.
‘Specially with more luggage
Than you can carry.

Curse the airlines for
finally enforcing their
carry-on limits!

(I mean it. Anybody know a good curse for TSA? Something itchy.)

Driving without sleep
In a new car in LA
Is terrifying.

Pollution, traffic,
And hot guys with sunglasses
are everywhere — ack.

But with my iPhone
I avoid jams and lostness
And ward off stalkers.

(Will someone please make me a shirt that says, “I’m not attracted to you, I’m just polite”?)

Film nerd paradise
Is pretty much my feeling
About Hollywood.

I got to hang out
With cool writers and witty
Indie filmmakers.

Saw 2001
In hi-def and surround sound.
I can’t do that, Dave.

I squealed when I saw
Nathan Fillion’s weapon.
Yup, this girl’s a geek.

(No, I can’t tell you where that collection of goodies was. I’d have to kill you.)

Poor Joel’s shampoo broke
And my Alaskan beer leaked
All over his clothes.

Which was a bit hard
To explain to my grandma,
With whom we were lodged.

But the worst part was
Our emergency beer stash
Was gone. How I wept.

Husband flew south via
Yakutat and Ketchikan.
Viva la Mud Hen.

He was almost dumped
In Juneau, but our pregnant
Governor saved him.

(The slightly longer version of this story: my husband, flying standby, wound up puddle-jumping his way through Alaska on the “Mud Hen” to join us. He was kicked off for weight restrictions in our state’s capitol, but he got the seat of America’s Hottest and Most Pregnant Governer, Sarah Palin, at the last second. She was held up in TSA and wouldn’t make the plane wait for her, because she said she “wasn’t that sort of governor.”)

We played at the beach.
Music, not swimming. Ocean’s
Too polluted. Darn.

(Joel almost jumped in, too, until I said, “Hey, Joel, shouldn’t we maybe read that sign over there — the one with the caution tape all around it? The one that says….no swimming, toxic waste?”)

Singing far from home
Was the easy part. No sweat.
La la la! Thank you.

Cafés, house concerts,
Church auditoriums, and
One sweet standing O.

(Ovation. Don’t even.)

San Diego rules.
Browncoats built a huge fire and
Gave me a rain stick.

At Kulak’s Woodshed
I met Tom Begich. Beware
Alaskans abroad….

(Tom was shocked to see me so far from home. The folks at Kulak’s were joking that the Alaskans were gonna take over the venue. And we most certainly did.)

I heard Shaun Cromwell,
Then Sheri Miller at the
Hotel Café. Sweet.

(Shaun I heard at Café Bellissimo, Sheri at the Hotel Café, to be clear. Both venues and both artists are great. And I had tiramisu to die for at Bellissimo.)

Funny, they told me
I would hate LA, but — wow.
Better than I thought.

Seldom have I slept
So little, driven so much.
L.A., I love you.

For it’s only here
I can put on sunglasses
And turn people’s heads.

(This works especially well at night. If you’re wearing sunglasses in the dark, you can hear the necks snap behind you as folks do a quick over-the-shoulder celebrity check. Of course, I must admit my own neck was a little sore, too.)

II. Texas

To Austin, Houston,
And San Antonio, ho!
(Don’t call me a ho.)

Strawberries galore —
Inexpensive clothing stores —
Locally owned pubs —

Live music nightly —
Farmers’ markets with fresh cheese —
This must be heaven.

But still no good beer.
Only don’t say that too loud
In front of Texans.

(It’s obvious they’re
compensating for something.
Chill, Texas, we’re cool.)

Also don’t mention
That Alaska is bigger
And less obnoxious.

Just sip your Shiner
And quietly kick their ass
At darts and Scrabble.

(Three triple bullseyes — bwah! I tried to make a Shiner Bock / shiner (black eye) joke, but couldn’t get the syllables and the pun to coincide without sacrificing comprehensibility. So imagine a joke of that nature here. Or submit your own haiku in the comments.)

South by Southwest rocks.
But it’s intimidating.
Oodles of rock stars.

There’s a high ratio
Of Utilikilts to men
Down on Sixth Street.

They all look ready
For Rolling Stone photo shoots.
I feel corporate.

(But later I shopped
At the Buffalo Exchange.
Who looks indie now?)

Heard some killer bands —
And some not-so-killer bands,
Which encouraged me.

Favorites include
Lindsay Jane, Raina Rose, Graham,
Second Grace, Cory

(…Branan. And that’s Graham Weber. They’re visiting Alaska soon. Go see them! And see me, if you’re in Alaska. Also, Browncoats and others may enjoy the energetic and ebullient S.J. Tucker, the Skinny White Chick. Though she has famously refused to see Firefly.)

I missed the Whipsaws
Only by inches. Sorry —
Seeya back home, guys.

Bob Schneider and the
Texas Bluegrass Massacre
Blew my freakin’ mind.

I sang, too, nervous
In a sea of musicians,
And I did just fine.

I thought that driving
In LA would be hard, but
Texas kicked my ass.

Twenty minutes spent
Trying to find the on-ramp —
Go fish. Signage, please!

Now, the Bedlam Bards
Are no gentlemen, but they
Accompanied me

Despite the fact I
Use too many chords and shake
A dead cat sometimes.

Visited Browncoats
In two cities — shimmer wine
And mangoes. Shiny.

We played some airsoft
In the yard, which later seemed
A bad idea.

I got shot. Right there.
In the forehead. That’s Houston

But the gun owner,
Morgan, was even worse off.
He lost a tooth.

(I was inordinately proud of my injury. It bled all night, and I made sure everybody knew it. At the concert later that evening I serenaded Morgan with “The Hero of Houston,” a filk of “Hero of Canton.” Except it was about real life, and the song was fictional. Does that make it rilk? We were hoping to give him a purple heart or some kind of medal, but I think the closest we could come was a poker chip.)

Last but not least:
I sang at the Cactus.
Won’t forget that night.

III. Epilogue

Flying home sucked hard:
Austin > Phoenix > OC > then,
Drive to LAX

Fly east to Salt Lake
And finally home. The score:
Six airports, one day.

(The airports won. I’ve revised “Flying Feels Like Falling” to reflect my New Worst Itinerary Ever. Oh, I saw Men in Trees for the first time on one of the planes and miserable as the flight was, the show made it worse. No, it’s nothing like that, for those of you who asked. Even Alaskans are sharper than that writing was.)

I wish I could list
All the people that I met,
All the bands I heard,

But especially
All the food I ate, cuz, damn —
That was a gooooood trip.

I still haven’t slept.
There are deadlines and taxes
And stuff to see to.

But despite the pace
I like my new profession.
‘Cuz I get to sing.


The Song of the Month summarizes this trip in even more concise terms. It starts with a flashback to my first day in Tok, Alaska (their slogan: “We’ve never heard of you either.”). That was not only my first day in Tok, it was the first day of my brand-new residency in Alaska. And what a welcome. It was forty below zero, I got sick from the dry air, there was a blizzard warning, and we had to drive several hundred miles to Anchorage on solid ice. And we were the only out-of-towners. You should have seen the look I got when I asked about a latte. I expect I deserved it.

That same Tok-ish feeling returned to me as I was traveling on this trip, looking very much the outsider everywhere I went. My inner monologue was “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” I’m a medium-insecure person, but I’m finding that if I state my insecurities up front, as a sort of disclaimer, then they’re not so scary anymore. I can acknowledge them, step over them, and get on with life. And enjoy myself.

So do enjoy this song — usually I’d save an original of this quality for the next album, but it was pertinent to the tour I just finished, so I decided to post it now. It might make an appearance on a later album, though.

Marian Call Song of the Month April

Also, next time I travel, I want Brian Adams to come with me. You hear that, Brian?

Feb 08 – Zombie Cheerleading Camp

03/10/2009 at 8:44 pm | Posted in General Nerdery, Just for Fun, Music, News & Explanations | 2 Comments


This just in…here at MC headquarters we have received some electronic files from a parallel universe in which I rock, and I have been instructed to post them here.

**If you’re just joining us, this month’s special song is NOT typical Marian Call fare, except inasmuch as Marian likes to try new things and have fun.**

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’ve written a breakup/revenge song called “We’re Out for Blood.” Because I had to. Those of you who hate Valentine’s Day can feel free to thank me and forward the song link to former significant others.

When the creator of the film “Zombie Cheerleader Camp” approached me about commissioning a song, how could I possibly say no? The film is everything you could hope for based on the name — zombies, check, cheerleaders, check, camp, check — and I was happy to contribute. Go to zombiecheerleadingcamp.com for details about the film, which will be released later this year.

I was joined on this track by a couple former members of Delmag, a late great Alaskan rock band (they were awesome enough that I understand there is now a Delmag Tribute band in Anchorage). Guitarist Ryan Brownell and Drummer Eric Kross comprised the band 1HW, which was formed for the sole purpose of recording this track. There were tears at the end of the recording session. Tears in my jeans, I mean, rips. Because I wanted to get into the spirit of the song and all.

Seriously, I totally wish you guys could have been there to see me attempting to sing a song like this. It was funny and a little pathetic. Be not deceived: it’s possible some of you might think I SOUND like I rock, but there ain’t no rock about it. I think I understand how Weird Al Yankovic feels just a little bit. Which is something I will not often have occasion to say.

So envision zombie cheerleaders devouring one another at summer camp — and enjoy!


Thanks also to Steve Nigl for the awesome “album artwork” above for Marian Call and 1HW’s one and only tune. Feel free to steal the pic if you’re downloading the song.

From Dec. 07: Dead Fred & FAQ’s

03/10/2009 at 5:59 pm | Posted in General Nerdery, Just for Fun, News & Explanations, Stories from Alaska | 1 Comment

Once upon a time, there was a very pretty 747 jumbo jet, and this jet was packed full of thousands of Christmas trees. It was headed right over North Pole, Alaska to Honolulu, Hawai’i. The shiny jumbo jet landed at Anchorage International, the busiest cargo airport in the world, to refuel for its long journey to the tropics. But while it was resting on the tarmac, a mean old inspector picked through all the trees, and what did he find? A little dead yellow jacket! So the trees couldn’t go to Hawai’i after all. They had to stay in Anchorage. The jumbo jet was sad to abandon its important mission and lose all its friends. And Hawai’i was sad because it had no trees. Some trees went to live with pilots, some went to live with flight attendants, and some went out to the Alaskan Bush, where you can imagine how difficult it is to find a tree stand (let alone a vacuum cleaner).

We had enough trouble finding a tree stand, and we live right downtown. We got this pretty, costly tree for free, and we haven’t had one in years — and all I could think was, “It’s dead! This tree is dead and it only died to stand in our living room and shed needles everywhere! What a waste!” We also have no tree skirt or vacuum cleaner. Unlike bush Alaska, however, we have Wal Mart and Frd Brfl (Frd Brfl is what I have always called Fred Meyer for no good reason. Albertsons = Snostrebla. Backwards).

But the tree actually makes me really happy in a little kid kind of way. So when life gives you a beautiful and expensive douglas spruce for free, make lemonade (or eggnog). We got a tree stand AND a vacuum, and it was probably about time we got one of those anyway — the sticky lint roller wasn’t working so great on the carpet. Took forever, too. What happened to our old vacuum, you ask? Well, if I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s that if you’re ever tempted to suck up a whole sackful of powdered sugar that’s turned your entire kitchen white, RESIST. You’re better off licking it up off the floor than letting it eat your hoover.

For lack of ornaments, my husband put his ski cap on the top — where the angel ought to go — and his motorcycle goggles are resting in the branches just beneath that. The only other decoration is the broken brown shoelace that’s acting as a fu manchu moustache. Our tree is named Fred. Dead Fred. Well, it’s not dead yet, but it’s gonna be. Fred has lots of attitude.

In answer to some questions that I’ve been promising to answer for some time, Jewel Staite-style:

1) So how are things? Sales, promotion, etc.? When will I hear Vanilla on the radio?

Things are moving very slowly — I’d say about 3mph — and it’s all I can do to keep up with that pace. When you do everything yourself (promotions, website, e-mail list, writing, recording, mixing & mastering, rehearsal coordination, and makeup, to name a few) you really get to appreciate why people get together and form labels. I’m so glad I started Song of the Month, because otherwise I’d never do any actual music.

2) Is your hair red?

This is the color that by rights my mother should have passed down to me, and I’m sticking to it out of pure bitterness that I did not actually inherit her hair. So I’m a faker, but a justified faker.

3) What’s with the name?

I’ve been explaining this a lot and promising to blog about it, so here goes. No, Marian’s not my real name, but yes, it is how I’m introducing myself and what I will be called by most folks from here on in. Marian Marian Marian. Spelt with an A.

It’s not like I think I need a stage name, it’s just that my real name is about as common as Jane Smith. That makes for issues on Google and Myspace. I actually know one other gal with my name — she’s a PhD from Stanford in Psychology, and totally brilliant — and I don’t want the studies she publishes and the albums I record competing for top search results. She’s too nice. Also, I hear there’s this musician in Minneapolis with my same name who’s totally psycho. Is that a pot I want to stir? Not really.

The name is partially the result of a contest I held among family and friends back in March. You should have seen some of the entries — “What should my band be called?” “Sheep go baa. Comfy chicken nest hat hat. The craning necks. Belts, no! Suspenders, yes!” What do they all think of me? Goodness. I almost chose Marian Lexicon, because I wound up with a list over a hundred words that could follow Marian. In the end, I picked Marian Call, because to me it describes my philosophy about art and it has a nice syllabic ring it has to it — I’m really into feet and iambs. And I really feel like I can answer to Marian and it’s actually “me.”***

Phew. Now when people ask I can just refer them here.

4) Will you come and play where I live?

Yes! Tell me where to play and I’ll go there! I’m new to the performing live thing, but as I build up a band and get used to touring, I want to play where you are and probably meet you. Unless you’re a spammer or a robot. By the way, I hear I’m better live than on the recording, so if you like the recording, come out to a show! And watch me make newbie attempts at between-song banter. That’s definitely a learned skill. My bass player is threatening to make cue cards for me.

I will officially be in the Bay Area in mid-May and in Southern California in early June 2008. I will possibly be in Austin in June as well. If you live there, e-mail me! Let’s hang out. If you know somewhere I should play, e-mail me! I want to play there. Even if it’s at your house. House concerts are the best.

5) You’re gonna be in a movie?

Yes: “Lessons in Skagway.” Look for it in the Anchorage Int’l Film Festival next year. I have a bit part — I’m sort of a seemingly nice passive-aggressive bitchy office lady. Like if Pam were actually Angela on the inside. More than this I cannot say. My life is getting weirder by the day!

6) Where did you disappear to this month? Did you just go crazy and fall asleep?

About a month ago my manager, C., kindly observed that due to about a year of extreme stress and food/sleep deprivation, I was deteriorating into a maxed-out neurotic blithering mess of a person (what my husband refers to as reverting to Stanford Mode, or the way I acted in college). According to Webster, to blither (v) is to talk long-windedly about nothing, to speak nonsense. Which is pretty much all I ever do. I should be a politician. But I digress — C. asked me when I last took a day off, and made me look through my planner to prove to her that I actually had taken a whole day off. I got back to March without finding a single instance of a work-free day, and she sort of sweetly smacked me upside the head and told me we’d meet again after I slept and took time off. I never did find the day off that I swore I took…not in 2007, anyway.

But, see, the thing is — I’m terrible at not working. I have no talent for chilling out. But I’m working on it; I have now taken five days off. Well, almost five. And I’m much better slept. C.’s talk with me gave me a sort of permission to be less stressed. Part of that, unfortunately, is that I have released myself from corresponding as much as I want to, so I’ve missed some of you guys. A lot. I think you’re going to have to be happy with periodic comments and letters more often than daily chats. But I still LOVE hearing from you! And I’m wondering what’s going on with everyone, since I’ve had less time to browse. Keep me in the loop if you can.

7) Your website is not as cool as a real nerd’s website should be. There is no flash and no spinny GIF thingies. Are your claims to true nerdhood legitimate?

First of all, my website is very cool — probably cooler than the last time you saw it. Some people ain’t lookin’ for flash.

I took a Nerd quiz recently in Geek magazine, and while I scored a very respectable 59 out of 100, the questions were very much skewed to measure Techie nerdiness (which can be defined as the ability to build one’s own computer from paperclips and ramen) and not Fuzzy/liberal arts nerdiness (which would be marked by the ability to hum every single NPR show theme song and/or the drive to punctuate even myspace comments with almost religious zeal). That bias bothered me a little, and made me want to do some research and present my findings to Geek Magazine. I think that reaction alone should be good for a few points. Paying top dollar for an old typewriter should get me something, too.

8) Do you have self image issues? Do you really think you’re not sexy?

This is the part where I politely disagree. I’m grappling with a very narrow definition of sexy in that song — the Pink/Christina Aguilera Bad Girl version (and that’s a descriptor, not an insult). I’m not fishing for compliments, and I don’t have an eating disorder. Though I’ve been consuming a lot of Orville Redenbacher’s lately…I might develop the popcorn lung.

I could go on and on about gender issues and even venture into music history and linguistics and international cuisine, but that’s a sure way to extract every drop of humor from my unsexy predicament. So I will mercifully stop there. If you like to discuss that kind of thing, message me, and you’ll have a lifetime sparring partner. Suffice it to say that if you’re hearing lots of layers in the music, it’s because they’re there. Like in parfait, or onions, or Waiting for Guffman.

9) Malcolm Reynolds or James Tiberius Kirk?

Come ON people! I can’t believe someone asked me that. Kirk is such a short wussy womanizer compared to Mal. I do wish we knew Mal’s middle name, though. Would it be sacrilege to make one up? And does Jean-Luc Picard have a middle name?

I’ve got to get cracking on the next song of the month, so it’s time to proofread and post. Thanks so much to all of you guys! And merry Christmas! Or happy Solstice! Happy thoughts to you, in any case.


***Plus, Marian Call is an anagram for “Cranial Mal.” I can burn the land and boil the sea — with my brain.

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