It’s time for some Ask Jana. I took me awhile to compile these because I had to get the ringing of 4500 screaming teenage girls out of my head from the Demi Lovato show. What song is on repeat on my iPod? That Little Mix song. IT’S SO CATCHY. Ok, on to your questions, and I think you kindly for asking them!

Sharon: Dear Jana…my neighbor will not stop playing Justin Bieber cds. I wish they would play Justin Timberlake but it is JB all the time. the only JB i play is Jackson Browne.. what do i do.. i am going crazy.

This is indeed a horrifying circumstance. As much as I love pop music, there are certain artists I cannot get into as a rule…Bieber and Selena Gomez are at the top of the list. The best thing you can do is blast Jackson Browne back through the walls and make it some sort of weird Browne vs. Bieber (sounds like a civil rights court case from 1954) standoff. This might not endear you to your neighbors, though. Second option: noise canceling headphones. Totally worth it.

Amanda: Dear Jana, I want to go somewhere warm with my little family for a week. How can I make this happen with my super tight budget?

As a wimpy Southwestern-raised kid, I can’t imagine what living through a whole Northern winter is like. I mean, I lived in South Dakota until I was 4 and the snow was higher than I was tall, but I mostly remember my mom making me cheese sandwiches (the only thing I ate for about a year) and letting me watch Sesame Street when it was frigid outside. Anyway, what I do know about Amanda is that she is a fabulous musician, and we have the fortunate circumstances of sometimes being able to pay for things by singing. Maybe we need to find you a gig in Florida or Austin that pays for your trip, and BOOM. It’s zero sum but it’s not going to break the bank. My other thought is getting a large cardboard box, painting a beach scene on the inside, and installing a heat lamp over it. Sit in it for no longer than 1 hour at a time before the claustrophobia sets in. This is only to be used in worst case scenario circumstances.

Dezi asks: Dear Jana! Will my flight finally make it to Texas next month?

Dezi…I hope this was not written from seat 13B of a commercial airliner circling around but never landing in Texas, because that seems like it would be frustrating. I would suggest booking a flight on a legitimate airline to make sure your flight makes it. Avoid airlines with names like: Mouthwest, Slamerican, Brontier, and Hellta. These seem like legit choices but they are not.

Brenda asks: Dear Jana – which beverage do you feel supports maximum achievement throughout the day? And as a bonus, which snack food goes best with that beverage?

Oh man this is easy for me…coffee. I drink a lot of it. I have tried to give up sugary soda type things and while I still imbibe on a Diet Coke every so often, I do not allow myself to buy them to keep at home and when traveling I always look for decent iced tea first. But I digress…some say coffee is bad for you. I say everything is probably bad for you, but coffee, when taken black, has no calories, no aspartame, and makes me happy to be awake. Best thing with coffee? Oddly…a banana with peanut butter. You will never stop if you have that.

Sharon asks: Do you have to worry about Fracking in the southwest or is it just another curse word?

It is both! I will say…there is a disturbing amount of earthquakes in the Fort Worth area here in Texas. This article says there were 17 in January 2014 alone. That’s…not natural. It’s probably because of fracking. If Austin gets one I’m moving.

Laurie: Jana, an armadillo and a horny toad walk into a bar…….please expound.

Well…this is a trick question because I can tell you for a fact the armadillo would never make it across the road in the first place to walk into the bar. They are the inevitable road kill.

Matt: If you could eliminate any human body part what would you choose?

I’m kind of literally attached to most of my parts, I figure they serve some purpose. I’m really fond of toenails because I stub mine all the time. I digress…and I can’t pick because I’m scared I am like an ecosystem where if I took something out everything would suffer in some weird chain reaction.

Josh asks: Dear Jana, would you marry me? Not will you, I’m still kind of on the fence and I want to gauge your answer first. I have a steady job and love green chili.

This is a very practical proposal, and I wish all proposals would include a pledge for green chile. I am flattered, but I am also still learning that Single Ladies dance from the Beyonce video so I need to conquer that first.

Sharon asks: Dear Jana… what is your favorite Dylan song? would you consider a cover version?

Is this cliche to answer…Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright? Because that is a great song. I don’t know about covering it…lots of folk people cover Dylan and I’m working really hard to learn this 4 chord Ellie Goulding song right now, haha.


Bill asks: Can you recommend a good mail order source for green chile?

BEST QUESTION AWARD. Bill, Chile Addict is right down the road from where I grew up and they have the largest selection of stuff and a catalog to boot. El Pinto is a great source for their brand of salsa and sauces. (One time the owner of El Pinto came to a gig in Albuquerque and brought me a BOX OF SALSA. I am forever a fan). Anyway…Chile Addict will get you everything from frozen, roasted chile to green chile hot chocolate. Yum.

Michael asks: When are we going to see/hear some more JanAnna down on the South side of Houston?

Great question! I haven’t had a working car for a while and it’s really put a damper on mobility. Anna is working on some awesome projects that I will call TOP SECRET and I’m getting the EP all wrapped up. Short answer? We need to book something.

Don asks: Dear Jana: Why is USA Network cancelling Psych? Why?

As someone who has to watch TV on Hulu and therefore only consistently watch Glee and Scandal…I do not know. Maybe they’re just tricking you, and they’ll be like…”We’re canceling Psych. PSYCH!”

RawfeyL: Do you think art and social activism combined have the ability to impact civil rights? Or is the Artist and their Art just recording the events? In other words; Do you think art has the ability to create the spark of desire within the audience to go out and change the world?

Great question. I think art has played a role in the past, and I really can only speak a little from the music perspective. We had Guthrie as the “Dustbowl Troubadour” in the 30’s and then of course, people like Dylan and the anti-war protest movement in the 60’s. I think they did play some part in joining people together, except perhaps art was not the catalyst of the movement, but a supportive rallying tool? WHAT I DO THINK…is that art and popular culture in terms of civil rights lead the way in showing the populace as a whole that the oppressed group is made up of real human beings. African American musicians in the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s absolutely played a part in breaking down stereotypes. Powerful women rose up in pop culture before politics. Ellen is the most popular talk show host ever and everyone knows she’s gay. Connecting this acceptance in pop culture to a larger picture is ideally next. Arizona is apparently not on board with that but whatever. I don’t think I answered your question very well but everyone should leave a comment and expound upon this please.

Don asks: Dear Jana: Who was/is your favorite president?

Well…I am a great admirer of Lincoln because most people are and he was undoubtedly a great President. I have a soft spot in my heart for President Kennedy because his presidency and assassination captured by interest at a young age and made me into the American history nerd / conspiracy theorist that I am.


Yes, I have been to THAT SPOT in Dallas.

Jon asks: What’s your fave Sixties song?

I really love San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair). I’m not sure why, other than I love San Francisco.

Camille asks: Jana, when do we get to hear your new recordings?

We are close! Dan will wrap up mixing in early March, and then we have to master them. Kickstarter backers like your lovely self will most likely get a download in late March, with hard copies to follow in April!

Bonny asks: Jana, can you dance like the Gogo’s?

No, and I should never ever ever try!

Chad asks: What was that place we ate where the dessert was so good we ordered a second? What was the dessert? And can we please go there again during SXSW this year?

I believe that was at 24 Diner. Was it bread pudding? It had to be bread pudding. We must hunt it down. I had a pork belly sandwich which is maybe the richest thing I have ever consumed, aside from those back-to-back desserts. SXSW 2014 Culinary Tour of Austin by Chad and Jana (TM) is on!


It is also a rule that Chad and I eat pancakes during SXSW.

Ryan asks: Sunrise, sunset. Which and why?

I’ve seen a lot of sunsets that make me go “WOW,” usually in New Mexico. I see sunrises less, and while I fancy myself someone who rises to greet the day, usually the day greets me and I reply with a grunt before I have coffee.

Dave asks: Why is my Internet connection so slow?

Are you Netflixing a lot? Because internet providers are slowing you down if you stream a lot. Because net neutrality is a hot button issue.

Jean: Jana, where is your favorite vacation spot and why?

Jean, I don’t know that really I have “vacationed” in a long time. I have taken time away in places where I have said, “I will not check my email for 42 minutes” and sometimes that works, sometimes not. That being said, I am itching to go see my friends in New York City. I hope that happens soon.


Me and times Square must be reunited.

It’s been a while. Let’s dive in!

Leah: Favorite book?
Gosh. I am one of those book hoarders that if you pick one off my shelf I MAY have read it, I MAY have read part of it, I MAY have good intentions to read it, and if I have read it I MAY have forgotten it. But I do love books. Some of my favorites I pick up a lot:

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
The Essential Rumi
A Moveable Feast – Hemingway
Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton (DON’T JUDGE ME I LIKE DINOSAURS AND GENETICS IT COULD HAPPEN)

Right now I’m reading “Listening Is An Act of Love” – a collection of NPR Storycorps pieces. Awesome.

Michael: What gives you the right?

America does. And Google. Google and America give me all the rights.

Mark: Why?

Because.

Bob: Why is this new MCC just not doing it for me?
It’s a different sort of album, isn’t it? Being as it’s made up of all of her slower, “deep tracks,” and then set to a symphony…I can see why it’s not going to ring everyone’s bell. (We’re talking about the new album Songs From The Movie). I think it has it’s place in her discography. And I will welcome the return of acoustic guitars, of course.

Heather: What causes the polar vortexes? Also have you seen the Poehler vortexes?
Polar Vortexes are caused when a bunch of people in Russia and Scandinavia chew Dentyne Ice all at the same time with a counterclockwise jaw motion. I get caught in a Poehler Vortex every time I want to watch “just one” episode of Parks and Rec and find myself Poehlerized and 7 episodes later I don’t know where I am. Once i had a dream that Amy Poehler and I went bowling. Truth.

John: which cartoon would you rather live in, The Flintstones or The Jetsons?

Absolutely The Jetsons, because…the future. Also, I can’t run fast enough to power a car made of rock.

Heidi: Why?
Because I said so.

Darbi: What big change could come in your life that would cause you to leave the glamour of singer/songwriting in a cloud of dust?
Truthfully, not much. If I won the lottery I’d still do what I do working with cool people, I’d probably just travel more and write more songs on more guitars. Except if NPR needed a Morning Edition intern, I’d do that.

Sharon: What is your fav part of being a merch girl?
Answering the question, “Which one is the best?” (Tip: they’re all the best).

Cody: Do you believe in magic? What’s the strangest roadside attraction you’ve seen?

I believe in slight of hand, for sure. In South Carolina there is a giant roadside tourist trap called “Pedro’s South of the Border” (apparently, south of the North Carolina border) and it’s old, run down, slightly carnival-esque, and maybe even a little creepy.


South of the Border

Drew: Jana, if you had to choose between being a Saguaro Cactus who will live to be 200 years old in a very boring desert (that thankfully has marvelous sunsets), or a housefly that would live for 30 days (its maximum approximate life expectancy– hey, I don’t make the rules) on a wall inside Bjork’s music room, which would it be? Bjork wouldn’t be on the road at the time in question, if that helps you make up your mind.
Drew…hands down best Ask Jana question ever. I am pretty positive I would choose to be Bjork’s housefly. She would inevitably adopt me (she’s Bjork, after all) and I would spend my days rubbing my tiny fly hands together while sitting on her leftover pomegranates that I am sure she eats while she makes moody ambient music. And then I’d happily kick the bucket by knocking myself out trying to fly through her window pane and peacefully decay on the sill in the studio of the Icelandic nymph rock star.

Kristina: Describe your personal version of “This Shirt”.
Kristina is referring to this MCC song, which is an epic one and indeed, about a shirt. I thought hard, and truth be told I haven’t kept anything around that long. I think the closest thing that goes everywhere with me for long periods of time are my flip flops, and that’s not very poetic.

John: If you could choose between being a unicorn or answering Drew Kennedy hypotheticals, which would you choose?

Drew Kennedy hypotheticals win out every day. Also, I’m not too sure unicorns exist.

Jason: Why do birds suddenly appear… every time… you are near?



Chad: What is a Janādo?

It’s what happens after the Sharknado is over and you think everything is cool and then you look up and BOOM! Janādo.

Josh: Can I get a what what?

What?
What.

Laura: What is your favorite coffee drink evar (iced or hot, can include chai or tea drinks)
I can go two ways on this. If I tell you what I get the MOST, it’s black coffee. No frills. However, when indulging I really like a soy green tea latte. It’s weird, since those things are pretty much opposites.

JP: Do ducks quack in their sleep?

If they are being chased in their dreams by giant swans, yes.

Ann: Are you coming to Idaho this summer?

Proooobably???

Roxanne: What song best describes your work ethic? or personal life? whichever you choose to answer?
Hmmm. “Slow Down” by Terri Hendrix is in my head right now and it seems like a pretty good personal mantra.

Lisa: Why can’t we all work in our pajamas?

I am answering this in my PJs, so it’s a little unfair, but I have to share that mine are covered with Buccee’s beaver cartoons, and no one wants to see that, so we definitely should not all work in our pajamas.

Larry: Where’s my free copy of the new EP?
Oh, Larry…ain’t nothin’ for free! Susan taught me that!

Jeffro: What haven’t you done in awhile Jana?
I have not taken a nerdy history trip lately. I need to go see a museum.

Jean: Why is cedar fever so much worse than any other pollen-borne allergy? When will it be over? When will someone invent something that works on it? When will the sinuous tissue between my epidermis and my skull quit itching?
Jean, cedar is clearly Mother Nature’s attempt to kill us all and start over. Luckily she only tries really hard with pollen during January, then she moves along to trying to fry us all to death. I predict sweet relief for you soon, and in the meantime…stay inside with all the windows shut.

Anna: Infinite cake or infinite steak?

MAN. That’s hard. I think infinite steak would keep me alive longer. Steak.

Time for another Ask Jana! Thank you all for your questions. You all are some food-oriented askers, I’ll say that. Read on…

Cody asks: Why do pop tarts make a line that does not have frosting? Why do Oreos keep trying to toy with their recipe and add flavors? Why are Girl Scout cookies seasonal?

I think perhaps the plain pop tarts because maybe people like to add their own thing to them, perhaps Nutella or peanut butter. Frosting is not a universal breakfast food. Oreos are an American institution except with this new watermelon flavor they have clearly jumped the shark, and I don’t mean in a Sharknado sort of way. Well, maybe I do. Sharknado was pretty abysmal. Girl Scout cookies are seasonal because there are child labor laws.

DC asks: What’s your very very favorite app?

I think my favorite is Zite, a news curation app that lets you pick topics you like, and then slowly learns what you read and don’t read so it’s even more attuned to your interests. I spend a lot of time learning on Zite.

John asks: What’s your fave New Mexican dish?

This is plebeian of me, but I enjoy eggs in a tortilla with chile all over it (red or green or both). There are fancier things like chile rellenos and enchiladas with an egg on top, but nothing beats breakfast with heat.

Green Chile

Zach asks:
As a kid – did you ever order a Snow Cone in Tigers Blood flavor just because it sounded SO COOL and made you feel tough?

Oh heck yes. All the time. And once I had Bubble Gum and it was disgusting.

Morgan asks: Can you answer the almighty woodchuck question in a quantitative unit? What is your favorite preparation of an egg? Finally, if you could make an exotically shaped guitar, what shape would it be and WHY?

a) 157 Gogurt Tubes
b) Call me plain, but scrambled. Over hard is 2nd…runny freaks me out.
c) A pyramid because certainly it would channel something ancient and mystical.

Amy asks: What’s your favorite cd right now?

Hmmm…I think for an album I enjoy listening to from start to finish lately there are 2 contenders, neither of them exceptionally new. Ke$ha’s Warrior makes me happy, and Rose Cousins We Have Made A Spark is amazing

photo.JPG
Ke$ha!

Tyler asks: Where’s all the candied cigarettes?

I don’t know, but between cigarettes causing cancer and fake sugar causing cancer, those things are probably dangerous.

Stephanie asks: Where have you been that you don’t want to see again?

Good one. I can find a redeeming something about most places but yes, that doesn’t mean I want to return. Maybe Hardin, Montana. That was a desolate town, and not in a romantic Western way.

Carol asks: Would you ever like to be a Mom?

Fascinating question. Short answer: I don’t think so? The only maternal instinct I have is for cats, which is more of a caternal instict. Also I have lots of nieces and nephews so that’s good and they’re fun to hang out with.

David asks: Jana, are you having fun on this tour? *trick question, I’m sure you are*

So far so good! We are in Denver and heading to Wyoming, one of my most favorite states! Yay!

Mike asks:
what are your thoughts on Schrodinger’s kitten and its implications for the reality we live in?

I am aware of this novel but haven’t read it. So first I need to enter into a reality where I have read it and am able to give an informed opinion on it, which would probably end up stopping the Vietnam War.

Chad asks: Whose footprint is that on the inside of your windshield?

It remains a mystery, but my guess is…it’s maybe mine? I was probably passengering at some point. I like to stretch out sometimes. It’ll probably stay there forever. Don’t ever have a foot print on the driver’s side windshield, kids. That’s just dangerous.

Linda asks: If birth is the opposite of death, and life is in between, what is the opposite of life?

Linda answered her own question by saying, “Nothing.” Maybe the opposite of life is inaction.

Jon asks: Did Tennessee the same thing Arkansas?

I don’t know, but Iowa’s hoping so.

Amy asks: What would you do if flip flops were outlawed?

I would start training myself to be in the Barefoot Society so my feet would acquire one large callous on each foot and I wouldn’t have to wear shoes anywhere. It would be my right, as they have outlawed the best footwear ever. Also, I’d have to get over some major OCD to walk in some places with no shoes, but it is what it is.

David asks: What is the meaning of life. Besides 42, I mean…

A wise man in Alamosa, CO answered this for me last week…”Seek Joy. Seek deep, meaningful joy, and don’t put it off.”

-1

Kristina asks: What are your 3 favorite numbers, colors, movies, foods, and articles of clothing?

Numbers: 3, 7, 12
Colors: Rainbow, clear, black
Movies: All the Hitchcock, all the Christopher Guest, and The Shining
Foods: Green chile, peanut butter, eggs
Clothing: flip flops, scarves, ironic t-shirts

I kind of cheat when I pick 3.

Corey asks: Why am I having trouble sleeping? Why do my senile dogs start barking at 4 am?

I am not sure on either, but I sense they are perhaps related. The senile dog just probably wants to get the senior breakfast special for $2.99 at Denny’s before it runs out.

Clara Marie asks: Why is it acceptable to have mimosas and screwdrivers with breakfast or brunch, but not a glass of wine or a rum and coke? The OJ in the glass is a negligible amount.

It’s because we are a civilized society, and the rules state that when you add fruit to something, the fruit overrules the other contents, making it ok to drink that early if you are indeed consuming it with fruit. That is also why frou frou drinks like daiquiris hardly count at any time. It is also why if you order a fruity dessert, it’s almost like eating health food and doesn’t count.

TC asks: Hey Jana – How would you go about getting a raise from a venue you have played at for years? It has never happened to me.

Ooo, good one. Well, I would say if you steadily pull in people to a venue whenever you play, that’s impressive enough to warrant a bump up. Another tactic, if it’s a restaurant or bar, would be to ask for your normal pay plus a percentage of their sales while you play, which would put a little less burden on them to just shell out, but allow you to earn more. If that worked for a while, maybe you could angle for a permanent raise. Bottom line, unfortunately, is that the numbers have to line out right for profit margins to make the venue agree to it. Fortunately, you can probably make that happen!

Michael asks: If you were Ice cream, what flavor would you be and why?

Some weird esoteric gelato flavor like basil lavender lemon mascarpone. No, Susan says that’s silly and that I’d be peanut butter chocolate swirl.

Anna asks: Which planet would you be best friends with and why? Excluding earth, of course. Pluto is still acceptable.

Probably Mars because I like the red hue and it’s the planet we all keep threatening to visit in person but never do, and that’s just kind of a mean thing to do. “Hey, yeah. We will TOTALLY come visit. Any day now. Absolutely.” Poor Mars.

Jess asks: What is the best way to split a ham and cheese croissant between four adults?

This warrants its own blog post, Jess. Excellent question and it’s coming right up.

Terri asks: Jana, what comes first, the words or the lyrics?

Terri, it’s a delicate balance between words and lyrics. Sometimes I just write words but they aren’t lyrics. Sometimes they are lyrics but they are always words. Yes, it always starts with words and sometimes they surprisingly morph into lyrics. The music never comes first, except when it does.

Ah, a delayed Ask Jana…but a hopefully still informative one.  Thanks for all your questions!

Erin: Greatest kid cereal – Capt. Crunch’s Crunch Berries or Cookie Crisp?

Cookie Crisp all the way because when you’re a kid, the illusion of getting away with eating cookies for breakfast is a real bonus, also the milk tastes delicious. In the Cap’n Crunch line I am a fan of the “bloody mouth” peanut butter variety. You know it hurts, but it tastes good anyway.

Memphis Mafia Donut from Voodoo Donuts
If you’re gonna eat Cap’n Crunch you might as well eat this for breakfast instead.

Aunt Linda: Wouldn’t you really like to partake on all the activities associated with rush center’s st. pat’s celebration? Uncle Dave is wearing his kilt.

Rush Center, Kansas is where I spent many happy times as a kid, but I have never been there for St. Patrick’s Day, and I have never seen my Uncle Dave in a kilt. So this was a winning proposition right here.

Deb: Will you look at art in a Museum or gallery setting differently from now on, as a result of viewing an exhibition with a practicing visual artist? Do you think it makes a difference in art appreciation to experience a living visual artist speak about someone Else’s art?

YES, Deb. To fill you all in, Deborah Burge is an amazing artist in California, and when Susan and Elizabeth played in Huntington Beach at the art center, there was an art exhibition happening and I walked through some of it with Deborah. I was like walking through Giza with an Egyptologist or something, because Deb pointed out things I would just glance at and wander on by. She made notes on perspective and technique and form and shape, and after 15 minutes I felt smarter. If only a smart artist was provided ever time I went to a museum or a gallery.

John: If you could take a vacation to anywhere, where would it be?

I have never been to Europe, which is sad, and I really want to see Paris. I want to see all of it (London, Prague, Rome, Athens, insert major old city here), but for some reason Paris holds a mystique for me. Maybe because lots of artists and writers I love have done great things there.

Chad: Georgia O’Keeffe paintings…once you see it, can you ever unsee it?

I love O’Keeffe, though I gravitate toward her New Mexican landscapes rather than her flowers…but I do enjoy it all. She was a smart woman; I bet whatever you see she never wants you to unsee.

Callie: Why do stamps not have how much they are worth printed on them anymore? I have one stamp in the desk and one letter to mail, but I don’t know how much this stupid stamp is worth.

I have had the very same problem, Callie, which means I just end up using the unmarked stamp as adornment on the letter and stick another stamp on, which is probably how the post office has any prayer of staying open…making us overpay for mailing by anywhere from $0.03 to $0.50 at a time…which is a horrible business model…which is why we won’t get mail on Saturdays anymore. Thanks, USPS.

Thomas: Why is there no B# or E#?

Ah, but isn’t B# just C? Which is really just Cb? Whoa.

Tiffany: ambition vs. contentment. go.

Love this question…something I struggle with daily. I don’t necessarily think the two are opposites, and in fact I think ambition is best practicing with a sense of contentment, and that likewise contentment is best when coupled with ambition. Ambition without some degree of contentment can bleed easily into desperation, which hasn’t ever really worked out for me. Contentment avoids falling into ignorant stagnancy with paired with a little ambition. The balance sounds quite magical. I make it sound easy but as we know…it’s hard.

Justin: What is the most comfortable shoe you have ever worn?

Great question. I have a pair of red Adidas Samba shoes that I love and that have never hurt my pinky toes. They are a winning pair. As a general rule, I don’t like things on top of my feet, which means I have bought so many pairs of flip flops while traveling, thinking I could get through one trip with normal shoes. Latest pair: California. Comfy.

Notes
These flip flops rocked my 13k steps a day during SXSW.

Carol: Why hasn’t Stephen Spielberg ever won an Oscar for directing? Are people so embittered by obvious talent that they don’t want to give it a “reward”?

I never even realized he hadn’t! That’s like Hitchcock only getting an Achievement Award at the Oscars, walking up and saying a terse “thank you” and walking off stage. Who knows, but all I can say is thank goodness Spielberg and Hitchcock kept making movies without industry recognition. A good lesson.

Dave: What is the significance of the sea in “Moby Dick?”

Is it a betrayal of the American education system to admit that I haven’t read that one? I have heard it is an allegory, so perhaps the sea represents either heaven, hell, purgatory, or chocolate cake.

Stephanie: What is the significance of, “They can kill me, but they can’t harm me”?

I am curious to know the context of this quote, because the only thing that popped into my head was the Kelly Clarkson song, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” which is not that at all.

Jimmie Bell: Why does my cat think my lap is a bath house?

Cats think everything is bath house, a napping spot, and a scratching post. If we could weaponize cats, they’d have the world conquered in days due to their manifest destiny complex.

Kelly: What are the chances that next year the Oscars will be hosted by your girls, Tina and Amy?

When I rule the world, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the following: The Oscars, The Grammys, The Golden Globes, The Emmys, The Kennedy Center Honors, the Junos (for the Canadians), the G8 Summit, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony.

JoshMac: after you’re president, what’s your first executive order?

Following the theme, my first executive order would be to make Amy and Tina official ambassadors to all nations with names beginning with the letters C – W. They’ll be busy but it will be funny. Kristen Wiig gets the rest.

John: How come disgruntled is word but gruntled isn’t?

For the same reason that I can be “inept” but not “ept” at anything, and being ept at everything is my greatest wish.

It’s the Thanksgiving Edition of Ask Jana! I can tell you are all thinking about food. I am thinking about you all thinking about food. I am also super thankful that you all keep asking me things. On to it…

Green chile red chile
Hot hot hot!

Sandy: Do you think the Hostess mediation will be successful?

I say yes because it HAS to be because…Susan and I have this deal as co-workers. The deal is kind of our version of The Red Button that the President can use to launch a nuclear weapon, except it involves a bag of Hostess Doughnuts, spelled “Donettes” by Hostess (a spelling fact which may or may not have anything to do with why they can’t seem to manage cash or employees). We have agreed that if we ever have a day where everything completely goes to absolute hell, we will pull into a truck stop and buy a bag (not a roll of five, but a BAG) of Hostess Donettes and eat them all. We are super proud that this day has not come in 5 years of working together, but we always want the option to be there. Meditate on, Donette Bakettes.

Jimmie Bell: Is it wrong to hoard fall mix candy corn? Even if one eats it all before Christmas?

No, solely because you’re not hoarding if you are eating them. If I came over next August and you had bags of fall candy corn in your closet, you would be a jerk and a hoarder and the candy corn would be very hard and possibly break teeth. Right now, however, is prime candy cornin’ time. Eat up.

Dina: cranberry sauce ~ yay or nay? If yay, then jellied or whole berries?

You know what? I’m going for the nostalgia call here and admitting I am a canned jellied cranberry consumer all the way. I LIKE seeing the ridges from the grooved metal on the sides of my gelatinous, quivering cranberries, because I know they came from a simple can, just like the Pilgrims intended. I was raised on that stuff, and I eat it in slivers with a butter knife. Now you know too much.

Brid: Stuffing … Inside or outside the bird?

This might be un-American, but I feel like shoving absorbent material up the carcass of a bird and then removing it and then eating it is a tad much. I do eat turkey quite willingly, but I like my stuffing on the outside and seasoned with non-poultry-bodily juices.

Marsha: White meat or dark? Cornbread or bread crumb dressing?

I have to go with a little of both on the white versus dark…and the best way to eat turkey is the day after Thanksgiving on a sandwich with mayonnaise. There is nothing better. I come from a bread crumb family. Corn bread stuffing is foreign to us.

Heather: How many Thanksgiving foods will have chile of some sort added to them?

Every single one, I say. Even pumpkin pie could use a red chile kick. Ooo. Nobody steal that idea for next year before I can capitalize on it.

Sherry: Do messiest cooks really make the best cooks…or are they just messier?

I think they might be perfectly capable of turning out some delicious foods, but I know some pretty non-messy cooks who do really well. I am a clean as I go person because I am that OCD sometimes.

Laurie: In-laws or Outlaws? Monkeys or Honey Badgers? Indecision: May or May Not be a problem?

I have cool in-laws, honey badgers because they don’t give a…and indecision is ok unless we’re talking about cranberries.

Amy: What do you think is behind the return to pop-culture prominence of both bacon and owls?? Can we harness this power to boost our careers as independent artists? I like owls. Well, bacon too.

I think it has to do with a rise in popularity of things from the 70’s, thanks mostly to hipsters. Owls of course being resurrected from the macrame decorative style of the 1970’s and bacon being derivative of the traditional “fatback” of the 1870’s that I am so familiar with because of the game “Oregon Trail.” It’s quite clear. As for harnessing the next big thing career-wise, I suggest that thing called “Revolution” that was so popular in the 1770’s in these parts.

Lisa: Shampoo or nopoo?

Today it’s nopoo and my hair is showing it, but I am a shampoo fan. My friend Amy taught me to pour some peppermint essential oil in your normal conditioner and it makes your scalp tingle and definitely wakes you up. Try it in the summer.

Corey: How do you write songs, lyrics first or a melody?

It’s different every time. Bill Monroe used to say he didn’t write songs, he plucked them out of the air. Taylor Swift dates people, dumps them, and writes songs. I tend to wrestle mine into submission.

Stephanie: How does discord play a part in modern discourse?

It seems as if all we have is discord in our modern discourse, but it has been pointed out lately that at least while we’re all bellowing at each other and not listening nor trying to really work anything out in our political landscape (a generalization, I know), our transitions of power are peaceful and for that, I am thankful for our modern ways of discourse.

Michael: “Story-truth is sometimes truer than happening truth.” Yes? No? Why?

Perhaps not truer, but story-truth is always more interesting than happening truth. That’s the truth.

Teresa: What do you like best about me?

Your willingness to ask me questions so I might blog the answers.

Jon: In your opinion, what is/are the worst song(s) ever recorded?

Man, I don’t know. There are some tunes out there I’d rather not ever hear again. Tiptoe Through the Tulips comes to mind…but someone likes that stuff. I can’t even make that call.

Ellee: What is your stance on drinking while grading? There seems to be a lot of it in my near future.

I think drinking while grading might benefit both the teacher and the student as long as you are careful not to spill any on the papers. Driving while grading? That’s a no no.

Deborah: What’s your favorite kind of pie and who makes it best?

My Mom rocks a strawberry pie that was my Dad’s favorite; he requested it for his birthday every year. Now I want strawberry pie and it’s pumpkin season. Thanks, Deb. Rhubarb (without strawberry to corrupt it’s tartness) is probably my most favorite, though…also made by Mom. (I also just had a delicious Coconut Cream Pie for my birthday from the Flying Saucer Pie Company in Houston thanks to my friend Nancy Jane. It was amazing).

Tammy: So… I am curious why in 90%+ of the motion pictures streets/ pavements appear to to wet? Or did it just rain in all scenes?

I am pretty sure it’s because the pavement is stained with the fallen tears of brokenhearted former child actors in Hollywood who never actually climbed the ladder to “attractive leading role player” and went straight to roles such as “Unreliable 20-something nutcase” and “Odd looking indie film actor who is too skinny.” I’d cry, too.

That’s all folks…but one more thing. These questions get asked of me on Facebook (where you can ask, too!), and this answer in comment form came from Susan, who apparently had a long stopover at a truck stop on the way to Wyoming for the holiday:

Hey- since it’s thankgsgivingandimsothankfulforjanaimgoingtoanswersomeoftheseqiestionstogiveherabreak
butimnotgoongtouseanyspacesorpumctuationdinawholeberrysaucesandynoheatheralljimmyyesandyes
janaimgonnamilthattojessebrodoutsideoutsidelaurieoutlawhoneybadgermaynotamydontknow
yeslisashampooplusconditionercoreyjanaweitesallsimiltaneouslystephanietheybothusetheprefixdis
michaelyesstorytruthdoesntneedallthosefactsteresayourenthusiamdeborahsusansbaklava
marshabreadcrumbstammywhosaysmotionpicturesanymore?

She’s right, too. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I am starting this post a month in advance in hopes that my foresight will allow a well-thought out treatise on my entrance into my next decade of living.  What will probably happen is that I’ll put this off until the night before, but regardless…here we go.

…and immediately I stalled and wandered away from this post. Now it’s…the day before my birthday, and I decided that I need to frame this as a “What Do I Want My Nieces and Nephews To Know?” post.

Look
Time to look smart, put on your glasses!

You see, I was what they term a “Surprise! Baby.” I am not that much older than my nieces and nephews, and I am quite a bit younger than my siblings. We all get along. I call this a fortuitous circumstance. Some of them are in high school, some in college, some are on the beginning stages of their work and family lives. What do I want to tell them? Oh, some of them read this blog. WHAT DO I WANT TO TELL YOU GUYS?

In no order:

Read all the time. When I got out of college I was so DONE with reading, because I had so much to read for class. It took me a few years, but I discovered there were plenty of interesting reads out there that I would not be tested on. Read fiction, read non-fiction, read current events, read magazines, read blogs…everything. Every interview I have read with a successful businessperson or politician has stated that absorbing information is a key source of success. I believe this applies to all facets of life.

If you have a passion to do something, do it.
You’ll figure it out. Do it on the side of your day job or make it into your day job, either one. Whatever makes sense. Don’t let the nagging desire to do/be something sit there for too long, or it starts eating away at you. I told my 7th grade teacher I wanted to be a guitarist and he said guitarists don’t make any money. Last week I made $100 for playing guitar and I got paid for traveling and working with musicians I love. Sorry, Mr. V…wrong answer.

The way to get a job is to network and connect. There are postings for 1000’s of jobs online and tens of thousands of people apply for them. You might get hired that way, for sure. The odds are higher, though, that someone you meet will hook you up with something good if you announce what you want to everyone you know. Make it a practice to introduce people to each other, too…this keeps the wheel going around.

Eat well. At some point you’ll start to be curious about where your food comes from and how its source affects your body. I’m no vegan, but I tried it for a while and I’m glad. Experiment a lot with new foods from different cultures. Learn to cook. Read about what it means to eat meat, dairy, organic, non-organic, etc. I don’t have a Food Path for you to follow, but just be educated on all aspects of the fuel you put in your body, even if it’s a Twinkie (ack).

Boxes Schmoxes. Fitting into some sort of box…how I *think* I should be, has been the cause of a great deal of stress and worry in my 20’s, as with most people I imagine. Nothing terrible but perhaps a lot of time wasted worrying about unchangeable things or insignificant things.  I have heard this might let up in my 30’s, and perhaps that suggestion has brought about a sense of relief. Bring it on, and stop worrying so much.

Have fun for goodness’ sake! Sometimes a Puritan value and work ethic set in, and we get into the groove that “work” and “responsibility” are separate from “fun,” which is just a happy bonus that happens sometimes. I call bull. There’s too much to enjoy around this planet to not have fun, and if you work hard (there is space for that work ethic thing for sure), you will find that place where “ability to feed yourself” meets your calling, and that is a fun thing to know. Do it.

I’m sure this list will grow, but simple is good. Feel free to add your additions in the comments!

Jana and the Nieces at Pike Place Market
Some of the amazing nieces I have…y’all better read this.

Time for another Ask Jana! I’ve been meaning to do this for a week, but traveling around with a cold makes me not typeable for whatever reason. No worries, I’m back. Proceed. (If I didn’t get to your question, I still love you).

John: Jana, why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

John, have you ever seen The Birds by Hitchcock starring Tippi Hedren? You would think I might be about to compare myself to the glamorous Ms. Hedren, but no. I am akin to the playground by the school in the movie…the one where it’s all awesome and perfect outside in the lovely Bodega Bay one minute and then you turn around and BOOM! Birds everywhere. It happens to all of us, this bird collection problem. Right?

My Hitchcock profile at Bodega Bay

This is me in Bodega Bay, doing my best Hitch profile.

Richard: What is the most important thing you learned in college?

I took a lot of great classes and had great professors at The University of New Mexico…I was a History major, Political Science minor, and an intern at KNME (PBS). I am not currently a history teacher, political scientist, or television producer, but all of those classes and experiences taught me how to research anything and everything…and to keep good tabs on my information. This comes in super handy in my booking agent work as well as my social media studies. I do rely on Wikipedia a lot, which was a big no no in Professor Spidle’s Historiography class but…oh well.

Kathleen: I missed the end of twin peaks. Who did it?

J.R. did it in a dream sequence, I’m pretty sure.

Ryan: Do you like documentary films and if so what is your favorite?

Yes I do indeed. I mostly only watch documentaries and shows starring Gordon Ramsay. I don’t know that I have a favorite, but I have enjoyed The Fog of War, Fahrenheit 9/11, and perhaps the one that got me most was The Parrots of Telegraph Hill. The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia is horrifying in that can’t-look-away style. I will watch anything about the following topics: aliens, 9/11 alternative theories, Moth Man, Amish kids running away from home, how candy is made, decaying cities, hauntings, or Mennonite kids pretending to be candy-making Amish kids running away from home.

James: If you could pick another instrument to learn (uke doesn’t count), what would it be and why?

I would love to learn the square neck dobro…but I would like Lloyd Maines to teach me and he’s a little busy. I also don’t have a dobro yet but I will one day. Piano is also on my list after years of refusing to learn it because my mom was suggesting I should do it. I’m sorry, Mom.

McSqueeb: What are your 5 favorite restaurants in Austin and top 5 in Albuquerque?

Man…so many good ones in both cities.

Austin: Madam Mam’s (Thai), Torchy’s Tacos, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Elizabeth Street Cafe (Vietnamese), and Home Slice Pizza.

Albuquerque: Los Cuates, Papa Felipe’s, Thai Tip, Flying Star, and The Frontier. These choices are mostly based on nostalgia, but I do love them. Oh, and Saggio’s because I used to work there.

Heather: What do you want for your birthday?

Warm fuzzies and a Vespa that runs on starlight and dreams.

Jeffrey: What is the one thing you really shouldn’t be doing while driving?

Probably anything but driving. I’m bad about finding something to listen to while driving…radio and iPod. That stuff is distracting. I have really tried to curb texting while driving because face it…I am not that important and COME ON PEOPLE STOP IT.

Chad: Why did I wake up with the urge to listen to Asia? And how do I make it stop?

It’s probably the same gene that makes me wake up with “Call Me Maybe” stuck in my head sometimes. The only way to eradicate it is to listen to Karma Chameleon. You’re welcome.

Kelly: What’s the one question no one has asked yet that you are dying to answer?

This is deep and made my brain hurt. If I told you, you all would just give up then, wouldn’t you?

Kristina: First movie you saw in a theater?

My sister took me to see Disney’s Cinderella (it was a re-release) when I was 3 or 4 maybe…it would have been in South Dakota. I was high on life that day.

Jay: Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?

“That joke is as old and stale as the air in Grant’s tomb.” – Susan

Heydon: If you could choose one mental illness to have for a day what would it be and why?

This is a brilliant question and I am afraid I will offend someone by my answer…though I’ve always wondered what the feeling of agoraphobia feels like. Some days I don’t want to leave my house, but most days I don’t feel right if I don’t go do SOMETHING….see some friends, go to the bank, anything. Sitting inside for years blows my mind…but I bet I could do it with Amazon.com and pizza delivery.

Jimmie Bell: How does one overcome being intimidated by the ordering process at fast food restaurants? The information is presented in a way to maximize profits, not provide clear choices. The photos are misleading airbrushed food porn. And the ‘person’ on the speaker has a nasty bark. Sigh.

I also hate to add to the fear but nowadays they’ve got cameras pointed right in your window when you pull up. Just sayin’. Anyway…I am a fan of having a clear idea in mind and not deviating from it when I order. If I roll up knowing I want to get a salad, I need to get a salad. This rules out the Baconators, Sons of Baconators, Double Whopper Juniors, Triple Asiago Mutton Chop Burgers, Quadruple Niece of Baconator Sundaes, and other things I might be tempted to get. ALWAYS REFUSE THE UPGRADE. You don’t need it larger, it’s already full of calories because it’s a fast food restaurant. Order with confidence because you are on the outside and they are on the inside of the fast food enterprise. You can get away and they can’t unless they crawl out that tiny window, so there is no reason to be intimidated.

Amy: How long before an uncut watermelon goes *bad* and how would you tell? What if it had been on someone’s kitchen counter for over a month, and they never got around to cutting it but because someone gave it to them, they felt guilty getting rid of it? Just hypothetically, of course.

I think at this point you might have fermented watermelon, and in this case I would suggest sticking it in the freezer for two hours, ramming a sturdy straw into it, inviting 6-8 of your closest island-themed friends over, have them sign a waiver, and have at it.

Victor: Why does all intellectual thought lead to chaos? All economists, philosophers, futurists seem to believe that civilization will descend into anarchy and starvation, but the human condition has improved dramatically for most of human history and certainly for all of the modern age. Can you explain this seeming contradiction between intellects’ thinking and reality?

I think maybe they forget all of the natural checks and balances we have in place like disease outbreaks, constant wars, and the weird fact that progress is in some ways killing us off. Our food supply is so messed up with all of our scientific meddlings that we’re all full of corn syrup. Our sedentary lifestyles are killing our communities and our bodies. Then some of us will inevitably make it through, realize what we messed up, and keep plodding along better than before. We are resilient if not psychic.

John: How far is “the long run?” Does one need to take a change of clothes before embarking?

It is as far as you make it. I have found that in the long run, people will offer you enough free t-shirts along the way (if you’re working it right) that you won’t need shirts. Pants, however…no one gives away pants. Take extra pants for the long run.

Up
This gorilla needs long run pants.

Roxanne: How many dots are in the Domino’s Pizza logo?

I have never thought to check and sadly, we had Thai food for dinner tonight in Nashville. I bet I could find a box in the hotel trash, though…but I’m too scared to go digging. Anyone?

Time for another Ask Jana. I do these on Facebook, so friend me or whatever.

Tamara asks: To you, does the Walla Walla river valley remind you of the Rio Grande Valley north of Santa Fe? (To me, the high dry fields punctuated by a sudden drop to a cold river with greenery, with Sangre de Cristo or Blue mountains, are similar).

YES. When we were up there this summer in Richland, I looked around and said, “This looks like New Mexico.” It’s scrubby and brown. Instead of chile everywhere, there are grapes. I don’t like grapes as much as I like chile but they’re ok. Can you mash up grapes into a sauce, add some flour to thicken, and smother a burrito with it? No you cannot. I think I digress.

Red and Green Chile
Oh look, a chile photo. Surprise surprise.

Amy asks: If you were in the circus- what would be your act?

I would be a mentalist, wear a top hat, tell you the future, and try to levitate things like shoes, books, and elephants (in progressing order from easiest to hardest of course).

John asks: If someone offered me all the tea in china to do something does it seem like it might be worth it?

No, John…and let me tell you why. China is no longer making tea, they are making iPhones. If someone offered you all the iPhones in China, I’d take it.

David asks: Think music could solve this stale mate in congress? I mean everyone on both sides of the aisle must like music… unless they have no soul, right?

I think you just answered your own question, David. (Soulless politician joke: check!) Unfortunately, if you want my jaded view of things, it would have to be one of the Big Three Record Labels offering them a lot of money to listen to some manufactured song to make anyone do anything up in DC, and yes I did just post below about how much I love pop music. A Libertarian could solve this stale mate…but that’s another blog.

Bragitta asks: If a musician farts in the woods, would it be considered music?
Birgit asks: Why does the guy sitting next to me smell like cheese?

Somehow these questions seemed related to me. The guy next to Birgit could be a musician, but if he passed gas in the woods, he would most definitely not be making music unless there was some sort multiple tone scaled-note system happening, and if that was the case, then it might explain the cheese smell.

Deb asks: Do you use a wireless hotspot on the road? Is it your phone or a separate hotspot-what do you recommend? And what sort of package (how many gigaBytes) is necessary to have a hotspot for mobile laptopping via say an iPhone or staying connected daily to your fans via your social networks?

Tech question! I’ll caveat this and say I don’t use one right now, though I am tempted. We used to use a wifi USB through AT&T and it was generally slow but useable. That was a couple of years ago, so I imagine things have sped up since then. Currently my “always connected” solution is my iPad with 3G on Verizon, while my iPhone is on AT&T. I find that I am generally always getting a good signal from one (usually both), unless we are in the middle of nowhere, which these days it’s rare to find “nowhere” somewhere. For heavier computing that I need to do on my laptop (uploading videos, for instance) I always just wait until I find a wifi spot somewhere (hotel, coffee shop) so I’m not maxing out any data caps. America is surprisingly wifi’d at this point, and on our last 5 week trip there were only a couple of days where the internet access was a little frustrating. The iPad plan also lets you pay for GB’s as you go, so there’s no cap. On non-busy months, I use way less and pay less. Handy.

Car

James asks: What’s your favorite song that you’ve written and why is it your favorite?

The stereotypical answer is that my favorite song is my newest one, but it’s always true. I will play it until it runs into the ground or until the next new favorite…it’s a great testing ground for new stuff. So right now my favorite is one called “String Theory” that I just finished.

Christina asks: What’s your favorite dessert(s)?

I tend to gravitate toward savory foods first, but in the dessert world my mom makes the best pumpkin cake ever. It has cream cheese frosting. Many have tried to replicate it, all have failed. It is the epitome of cake and pumpkin and dessert.

Melinda asks: Why am I obsessed with Bob the Alien?

I googled Bob the Alien and I’m not sure if I just didn’t find it or if my Google results are skewed because I look up Roswell and alien conspiracy sites all the time. Anyway, Melinda, I think it’s in your DNA as an American to be attracted to aliens because we are steeped in UFO culture. If his name is Bob, he sounds pretty ok in a non-threatening sort of way, so that’s even better. Zxxbrhhk the Alien is way harder to spell and way scarier sounding.

James asks: Do you name your guitars?

I do not. I have never named my things. I think I had a doll named Steven as a kid and then I saw the commercial on TV for Child’s Play and never allowed a doll in my room again. I don’t mess around with possessed plastic. I digress…I have never named my instruments or my cars. The closest I have come is deeming Susan’s new Sprinter van “The Grey Whale” for a minute and a half, then diverting back to “The Sprinter” because it’s easier to say and it’s a van, not a sea-faring mammal. My roommate Katie, however, is excellent at naming things. Her cute red car is Redda James and the microwave is Wavy Jones.

Katie asks: What is your preferred method of wake-up alarm? Buzzer? Music? iPhone noise?

Oh hey, Katie, I was just talking about you. I’m glad you ask this because it means as your roommate, my alarm does not bother you across the apartment in the morning. I have an annoying iPhone alarm called “Bells” or something that makes me want to throw it across the room, but it certainly does the job.

Jon asks: How would you like to see yourself on September 24th, 2017?

I would like to see myself rendered in lifelike 3D through virtual reality glasses…Google is making them now but by then, I assume they’ll be the new iPhone or something. It won’t even be a phone, it will just be called iContact and you’ll stick the lens in your eye. I would also like to be raking in the dough from this very iContact idea I just had.

Alternately, I’d like to be at the helm of a small but mighty empire involving blogging about being an independent musician, an eBook author, and helping artists get their music into the world. Also I’d like to be raking in the cash (see a theme?) from having my songs on every hip TV show ever as the background music for the tense “let’s make a decision oh we did now we’re happy” scenes, ideally starring Tina Fey, Christopher Walken, and Amy Poehler.

Goosebumps

Jay asks: Should I record my new song, “Attila The Hun Of Hearts”…or sell it to someone in Gnashville?

Nashville all the way, but you should record it first to pitch it. Then everyone wins!

Beth asks: Would you rather have a flying monkey or a flying pig? Also – how should one properly solve the problem of a cold morning toilet seat?

I would prefer a flying monkey because every morning it could wake up about 10 minutes before me and go sit on the toilet to warm it up. Then it could wash its little monkey hands and go make me coffee. A hygienic, flying coffee monkey…that’s what I want.

Gail asks: What….is the capital of Assyria?

I guess this makes sense…the city of Assur was the first capital of Assyria. And now we know.

photo.JPG

We are meandering through Montana right now…we had the luxury of leaving Washington on Monday and not having a gig until tonight (Wednesday), so we’ve seen a movie in Spokane (The Campaign) and walked around the Cataldo Mission in Idaho and downtown Missoula. Now, back to work!

But first…some ask Jana.

Deborah asks: Does the amazon sprinter have a cot in the back for the non-driver so you can drive non-stop? And as a follow up does the cot have a safety belt system or would a supposed roll of the sprinter also toss the salad sleeper?

Excellent question and salad sleeper is my new favorite term. Yes, there is copious amounts of sleep space in the Sprinter. The dogs take up about 80% of it, though Susan does sleep in there with the dogs from time to time and one of us can sleep should the other one need to keep driving. However, this trip all the sleeping has been done in the passenger seat. There is a bunk bed over the back cargo area and I have seen people sleep up there while driving and no one has been hurtled off, but Susan is a responsible driver.

Michael asks: What’s your favorite TV show?

My favorite right now that I can watch over and over again is Better Off Ted, which was short-lived but is on Netflix. I found it because I am a big Arrested Development fan, and Portia de Rossi is hilarious in both. Since Better Off Ted is no longer with us, all I watch on a regular basis are things like MasterChef and Kitchen Nightmares, because I think Gordon Ramsay is awesome. I don’t have cable so Netflix and Hulu are my suppliers.

Denisa asks: I wanna know TEN THINGS ABOUT MONTANA that I would not otherwise know, had you not told me. Montana doesn’t get much PR since Zappa.

– If you’re on I-90 you’ll cross over the Clark Fork River about 47 times.
– It’s cold here a lot.
– Hardin, Montana is the first town on this tour where we did not think, “We should have a satellite office here!” Sorry, Hardin.
– Bozeman has a really cool venue/studio collective called Peach Street Studios and Jackie and Jason Wickens, who run Live From the Divide there, are awesome.
– The Gibson Guitar Factory gives tours on Wednesdays at 2:30.
– Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi in the lower 48.
– Missoula is a lot like Austin but it’s colder here but people ride bikes anyway.
– Missoula has the hippest Motel 6 I have ever stayed in.
– Cherry season is amazing along Flathead Lake, when tons of roadside stands pop up from the orchards that line the lake.
– The grizzly bears are giant here.

Matthew asks: Turkey burger or black bean burrito with rice?

I’m loathe to turn down anything wrapped in a tortilla, but I’m on a meat protein kick lately, so…turkey burger.

Lisa asks: Jana I want to know why some people in my family think I need a “Real Job”? Why don’t they understand how much work it takes to play music? Yes we stuggle to make ends meet, but we work our asses off and are doing what we love. So why don’t some people get that?

First of all, it always blows my mind how people tend to insert their opinion in places it is not needed. If you work your bums off to make a living, what more is there to say? You’re working and earning and enjoying. There is no better way. There is no opening to offer you an alternative job because you don’t want one and are not asking for one. It’s like someone coming up and asking you if you want to wear a new shirt when you’re already wearing a perfectly good shirt that you love. Weird.

I think folks don’t understand “the entertainment industry” because in most people’s lives, they are exposed to the music industry via Clear Channel radio and what little music is left on MTV. I still have friends (and friends of friends) inquire, after having worked with Susan for four years, whether she actually makes money doing her job. I should hope so because my rent is not paid by glitter and french fries. People sometimes don’t connect that just because we are not on Sugarland’s Christmas Special on CMT, that doesn’t mean independent artists don’t make money.

I also think many people are stuck in a rather anti-abundance train of thought. You work for money and work is hard and money is bad but necessary and therefore work should be hard and not just hard, but a chore, a labor, a burden.

The truth is…that is not the truth! Jobs can be fulfilling and FUN and interesting…and they can make you money. While true in the music business, it’s true for anyone who wants to work for themselves…it’s hard, and it takes a lot of effort to make things work. I don’t know what could be more “real job” about it then having to be the business manager, financial officer, marketer, merchandiser, AND “product” all at once.

This answer is long already, but I’ll end with the thought that for the folks who do care and get it, there’s no need to justify your living or your job. For those who don’t quite understand yet, just keep living by example. Maybe they’ll be inspired to do something they’ve always wanted to do because you kept doing your thing.

Jeff asks: If a car is traveling at the speed of light, in a vacuum, and then turns the headlights on, what happens? And, as a follow up, what’s your favorite breed of puppy?

a) Then the back of your head is illuminated.
b) I like kittens.

Norma asks: Is the McKenzie River Pizza Company in Missoula still open? If so, will you send me some?

Oddly, I just had McKenzie River pizza for the first time ever this trip, and yes…it was awesome. We ordered the Thai Pie, with peanut sauce and chicken. I could eat that stuff all day, until I got tired of it and then I’d have to eat something else.

Laurel asks: How fast are you guys driving? No speed limits in Montana, right?!

I inquired of Susan and apparently Montana used to be all loose and carefree about it, but now there are definitely speed limits. Her rule is 5 under the limit just because, and I think the limit on I-90 is 70. I can’t verify it though because I have looked up about 3 times while writing this post and have yet to see a speed limit sign, bringing me back around to the beginning question and perhaps, Laurel, you are right. Then the question becomes, “What is 5 under none?”

Zach asks: Here’s a question from my science teacher back in High School. ‘Please explain the universe. Give examples.’

The best I can do for that is cite an article from the September 2012 issue of Vogue about Lady Gaga, wherein when asked to describe Gaga, a friend says, “It’s like there’s no little star that doesn’t get through her galaxy. She catches every single one and puts it in the sky, and she makes it the most important star that ever existed.” That does not explain the universe but it does explain Lady Gaga, who is indeed part of the universe. Next!

Amy asks: Have you ever added up the amount of days total you have been on the road in the last 3 years?

No…although I might be able to guesstimate. Most weeks there are about 3 gigs…sometimes more, sometimes less. I have been on 4 thirty+ day tours since 2010, so that’s 120 days right there. Add in maybe 4 two week tours a year, so that’s another 60 days…and then all the 2-3-4 nighters every week, but minus the ones I already counted…plus crossing time zones at night, plus gigging on solstices and accounting for daylight savings time…67,905 days. I think I messed up somewhere.

Denise asks: When are you coming home…really?!

For reals the arrival date is September 10th. We left on July 31st. This is a long tour, but so far KNOCKONWOOD…a well-paced and fun tour. Lovely scenery, nice people to stay with, good shows. It might also have something to do with the tiny coffee pot we bought and the beans from New Mexico and Seattle we purchased. Those might aid our stamina.

Becky asks: Favorite places/parks to visit in SW Montana! And best place to get pancakes in missoula. That’s important.

Man, I have never had pancakes in Missoula. Now I feel a little dizzy at the admission. However, I recommend Worden’s Market for a good sandwich and last night we found out the Iron Horse has an awesome veggie plate appetizer. I recommend you go half tempura half fresh, and then get some extra dressings like the Thai peanut and the Avocado Orange. Yum.

Everyone needs to see Yellowstone, and then Missoula, which is not a park. But Greenough Park in Missoula is a great park. Also head north to Whitefish and Bigfork for some close-to-Canada fun.

Shawn asks: I’ve seen the Long Island psychic communicate with dead dogs, so why can’t psychics channel dinosaurs to find out what really happened? Do insects have souls?

Fabulous. If we could get a dinosaur psychic on the case, we could break this thing wide open. Perhaps psychics can’t get a good connection because dinosaur brains were all the size of walnuts. Perhaps they can’t because dinosaurs are actually the superior species and live deep in the earth controlling our weather patterns.

On the insect note, the only ones that concern us are the bugs preserved in amber because their souls are preserved in a suspended state of limbo and someone should smash all the amber and let their souls out already.

Jay asks: What is the REAL color of orange?

Whatever it rhymes with, that is the real color of orange.

Time for another Ask Jana…whereupon I get to gratuitously pretend to know things I don’t know, but I promise I am using an educated guess as best I can, fueled by my morning breakfast of cottage cheese spiked with green chile. (I suggest that any time you add one food item to another, you can use the term, “spiked.”) Here we go.

Panflute Flowchart
Bonus FYI

Can you explain to me the difference between Americana and Country music? – Dani
Whatever I say is probably going to tick off some ethnomusicologists and some diehard country fans and some diehard Americana fans and then maybe even some polka fans. (Deep breath). I personally think Americana doesn’t really have a textbook definition, because it’s a term that has risen in popularity over the past decade to describe anything slightly out of the mainstream that is not full on Nashville-ized country. Thanks to things like T Bone Burnett producing everyone cool and O Brother Where Art Thou?, Americana actually got put on the popular cool kids shelf for a minute, and it still resides there in some respects, although the term is easily watered down because EVERYONE uses it to describe their music. I think Americana at its core utilizes the traditions of music brought to America from other countries (reels and jigs from Ireland, polkas from Eastern Europe, the banjo from Africa, etc.) and molds them together. Appalachian music, bluegrass, and the blues are all derivatives of these immigrant traditions, and I think Americana smushes those genres together even more. They combined with the story-telling traditions of traditional country (or Country Western) and formed this giant all-encompassing genre called Americana. Country itself has some pretty defined parameters, thanks mostly to it residing in its mother home of Nashville for so long, and being tied to a commercial core. While country has adopted some traditions like Western swing, it’s a lot more uniform in its definition versus Americana. I hope even one sentence in this diatribe makes sense.

What’s the name of the guy who invented the zip tie and is he rich now? – John
According to Wikipedia, an electric company named Thomas and Betts invented them in 1958, so they are not that old. I’m not sure if Thomas or Betts got credit for it, or whether they had a bitter fight about it. I am assuming both of them were rich since they are on Wikipedia.

I want to know why all the parks are empty. – Jenny

I think parks are one of the essential elements in a civilized and happy society…national, state, and city. We all need nature. I’m sure there’s some study somewhere about open space and happiness. Plus all that oxygen the trees spit out (Note: Iamnotascientist). The odd turn of events is that often parks are creepy to go to alone because there are a lot of things like trees for bears and psychokillers to hide behind, so this might keep people out of parks. Thinking out loud.

Does it make sense to you that mermaids are half human/half fish? I mean really they should probably be half human/half whale, because you know, the whole mammal thing? – Jamie

Jamie, that is a very astute question that I have never thought about before…and no, it does not make sense. A couple of thoughts popped in my head. If we addressed the whale thing, number one no one wants to see a mermaid that big, and also, baleen is not as attractive on a girl mermaid as smaller teeth. Secondly, do not discount the magic. Mermaids are magic. They are pretty. They have shimmery scales. So how did mermaids come about? MAGIC. And sometimes…magic and logic don’t live in the same zip code.

What’s the color of the wind? – Jeff
Pocohontas even took this a step further in her feature length Disney movie and asked, “Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?” This tells me (because Disney clearly knows what they are talking about) that the wind is probably a rainbow of colors. However, when I think of wind in my brain, I’m pretty sure it’s a pale blue.

If the moon were made of cheese, would you eat it? Heck I would. I’d go back for seconds. – Taylor

If the moon came down here and kind of settled down for once and it was made of cheese, I would probably eat it. But the moon is still really far away and I don’t have the astrophysics skills to figure out how to get there, and Central Market has a pretty awesome cheese section, so I’m good.

Why is there no ‘religious left’? – Pam
Pam went political. I like it. My initial reaction is that there is, in that I know a lot of church-going Democrats. But Pam is right in that there is no unified political movement called the Religious Left. When I was getting my poli sci degree at UNM we did a pretty in-depth reading about how Karl Rove was responsible for mobilizing a LOT of conservative, church-going people with interesting tactics like…campaigning in churches (yes, for real!). Mobilizing that base to vote really upped GWB’s numbers. I think that because no one on the left has really made a whole movement out of mobilizing a certain religious group, no one’s defined the religious left. Fascinating.

At what age were you able to correctly spell…Albuquerque??? – Craig

I am not sure…I remember using “ALB” and “ABQ” a lot, but if you chant it, it comes out pretty easily. A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E.

What brings tears to your eyes? Any recent examples? – Jon

Well, I am helping out with a thing called Soldiers, Songs and Voices at the Bugle Boy in La Grange, where veterans (of any war but focusing on newly returned vets who are trying to re-acclimate) can come twice a month for free guitar lessons and songwriting classes. The organization provides free guitars for the vets and local songwriters are volunteering their time to meet with them. We had a training session last weekend and listening to the things soldiers face when they are in the service and when they return back to “normal” life definitely made me tear up. Here is the website for more information on the program.

How did you get to work with Rubicon music and Daniel? What was that journey like and how you are inspired by it today. – Le
This question is so good it gets its own post, forthcoming!

Do you feel that your great musical talent is a product of the genes from the Pochop or the Woods family? I am betting on the Woods side because I am almost certain that your uncles in Kansas gave all their music ability to you because they can’t even carry a tune in a bucket. Uncle Dave thinks you got most of his musical ability but he considers himself a good tenor because he sounds pretty good ten or twelve miles away. – Linda
This question is from my awesome Aunt Linda, and as you can tell, I come from a long line of characters on both sides of the family. I’m not sure where the musical gene came from, but I think there must be a procrastination gene in there too because I practiced guitar so much to avoid doing things like chores and homework, so there’s that.

If you didn’t end up as JPO the Super Merch chick, amazing folk troubadour and all round renaissance lady….who else may you have been? – Zach

Why thank you, Zach. Flattery gets you everywhere. I think had I not moved to Austin to fumble around for a while, I would have gone to UNM to get a Masters degree in History, which probably would have lead to a PhD in History, which would probably mean I’d still be there, a grizzled, jaded grad student obsessed with commune culture in 1960’s New Mexico. Yep. It’s better this way.

What does the “permanent press” setting on washing machines really do? – James

I smell a class action lawsuit, because I can guarantee millions of people have used that setting and not one of their articles of clothing has remained “permanently pressed.”

When will we ever grow up? – Leilani

I hope we don’t. I mean, I hope we all become financially solvent working members of society, but in terms of selling out to any sort of “here’s what everyone else did” mentality, I hope we don’t.

What is one hour martinizing anyway? – Corey

Man. The only thing I can think of is that is has something to do with Martin Guitars, Martin Sheen, Martina McBride, or Lockheed Martin?

How can a brown cow give white milk when she only eats green grass? – Brid

All from a PINK STOMACH! I tell you what, though…if you squish all the colors of the rainbow together you get white. Or is that black? No one would drink black milk, though.

1) What is your favorite coffee? 2) Red, green or Christmas? – Christina
I finally finally have a favorite type of coffee. Before I always just kind of drank what was around or on sale. This is still oftentimes the case, but at home I buy Seattle’s Best Number 4. Number 4 is awesome, and when they are out at Target and I have to get something else, I can tell the difference and I regret it. It’s flavorful but smooth, and not burny. Starbucks is great but there’s that often screamed “THEY BURN THEIR BEANS!” which…whatever. I don’t think the biggest coffee company in the world is burning their beans, but perhaps they roast them to a different degree than some folks like.

Also my rule of thumb is chicken = green, pork and beef = red, breakfast = Christmas. Yummo.

Should white people boycott The Cracker Barrel? – John
Yes, but not for the reason you think. Cracker Barrel actually keeps white people white and doughy because of the amount of whiteness in their food. I had a meal there a while back that contained: a biscuit, grits, gravy, and potatoes. That’s a lot of white to be rolling out on one plate. It was a youthful indiscretion and I am sorry. (Note: I like Cracker Barrel, I really do).