Archive for: October, 2004

Interview w/ Dan Kennedy • Author, “Little People: Learning to See the World Through My Daughter’s Eyes” • Media Critic, Boston Phoenix

SM: When was the last time you had on a set of headphones?

DK: Ten minutes ago. I was listening to Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew” and “In a Silent Way” on my iPod while reading the Sunday Times. I’m such an elitist schmuck. Yesterday I listened to some new live stuff at BobDylan.com – Zimmy covers of “Pancho and Lefty,” by Townes Van Zandt, and “Sing Me Back Home,” by Merle Haggard. Wonderful stuff.

SM: Barring yourself, what’s the best thing to come out of your hometown?

DK: Middleborough, Massachusetts, is probably best known as the hometown of Lavinia Warren, a dwarf entertainer who married Charles Stratton, a/k/a General Tom Thumb. There’s an entire section of the town museum set aside in tribute to the Strattons, and the town library has huge portraits of the couple and their wedding attendants.
When I was researching “Little People,” I learned that Lavinia’s sister Minnie – also a dwarf, and who died in childbirth – was buried about 20 feet from my parents’ graves. Creepy and intriguing.

SM: What was your last good deed?

DK: I conceded yesterday on my weblog (“Media Log,” at BostonPhoenix.com) that George W. Bush has many human-like characteristics.

SM: What was your last encounter with a lunatic?

DK: This wouldn’t be my most recent encounter, but it’s the most memorable. About 12 years ago, I received a manuscript at the Phoenix that was so well written that I was several pages into it before I realized the person who sent it to me believed the CIA and his father had conspired to implant a computer chip in his brain. Later, he dropped by the paper to see what I thought. I wasn’t around, but an editor somehow persuaded him to leave.
A few weeks after that, he broke into an elementary school in Southeastern Massachusetts, took hostages, and killed the school librarian. I realized it was a very good thing, as Martha Stewart might say, that no one could find me on the day he’d come looking for me.

SM: Regale us, please, with an anecdote.

DK: Last November, I accompanied my then-12-year-old son’s Boy Scout troop on a backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in the Berkshires. (See, I’m not an elitist schmuck all the time.) We made beef kebabs over charcoal that we’d packed in. But it was so cold that it was taking forever for the meat to cook.
Anyway, I grabbed a hunk of severely undercooked meat, chewed it up the best I could, and swallowed – only it wouldn’t go down. I staggered around for a couple of minutes, trying alternately to swallow it or cough it up. Finally the scoutmaster realized what’s going on, and he started heading toward me. He’s a retired Air Force pilot, and I had visions of him doing a field tracheotomy on me with a pocket knife right on the spot. I made one more attempt to cough it up and – pow! – the hunk-o-beef went flying.
I know that’s not very entertaining. I lead a pretty boring life.

SM: Please describe an activity at which you are not very good, but that you hope to eventually be good at.

DK: When I was a teenager, I was a pretty good guitar and bass player. I played bass in a three-piece rock band, and also in the jazz band at Northeastern University. I’m terrible now. If I can ever slow down, I’d love to get good at it again.

SM: What is your first reaction to a roomful of strangers?

DK: Not panic, exactly. More like an out-of-body experience. I try to find someone I know, but if I fail, I’ve got two options: (1) if I’m there for work, well, it doesn’t really matter, so I’ll stick around and work – interviewing people, or whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing; (2) if I’m there supposedly to have a good time, I’ll leave, since I’m not.
At the Democratic National Convention in Boston last summer, The New Republic sponsored a party, which was one of the hotter tickets of the week. But once I got inside, I found myself packed shoulder to shoulder with people, didn’t recognize anyone, and left within 10 minutes. Friends thought I was insane.

SM: What was the last circumstance in which you found yourself that you could not comprehend entirely?

DK: Hah! You mean like in the past hour? My life consists of not entirely comprehending the circumstances in which I find myself.

SM: Please tell us a story about a low paying job you’ve held, and if you’ve never held a low paying job, please tell us a story about any job you’ve held.

DK: The lowest-paying job I ever held was as a janitor in a nursing home the summer that I turned 15. But that was horrible, so I’ll move ahead a year, to when I worked as a dishwasher for Howard Johnson’s at whatever the minimum wage was then.
It was actually a lot of fun. The cooks were thieving scoundrels, the waitresses were extremely good-looking (although they obviously wanted nothing to do with me), and one of my fellow dishwashers was a mentally retarded guy whose salary was partly picked up by the state.
The next summer I worked as a cook at a different HoJo’s, and liked it so much that I figured it would have been a good way to make a living. There are days I wish I’d done just that.

SM: Please describe an area of expertise you are willing to feign knowing something about to strangers.

DK: Well, politics is the most obvious. I know a fair amount about Macintosh computers, too, although I would live in terror of being shown up by someone who knows more than I. So I’ll say Bob Dylan. I think it’s safe to say I know more about Dylan than 99 percent of people, and as long as I don’t run into someone who collects bootlegs or goes to live shows all the time, I can definitely hold my own.

www.dankennedy.net

Interview w/ K. Thor Jensen • Artist

SM: When was the last time you climbed a really high ladder?

KT: I climb a 10-footer every couple of weeks or so – I work in a loft-style office and when the time comes to change one of our 40+ rapidly-burning light bulbs, I have to drag that monstrosity out, teeter up it and change bulb, screwing the new one into a live socket and trying not to singe my sensitive little fingers.

SM: What’s your first reaction to a thrift store coat?

KT: Am I going to wear it or look at it? Some of my favorite winter coats in my leaner years were thrifted – now that I’m a jet-setting style counciller, I rock my fur-lined Ted Baker parka that could keep me toasty in the Arctic, but when all is said and done, my 1st reac. to a T-S-C is and will always be: respect.

SM: What was the last thing you slept on that wasn’t a bed? Explain.

KT: On Saturday night I slept folded in half in a hotel room closet using a bath towel as a blanket and a hoodie as a pillow. I was in Maryland and didn’t feel like paying for a hotel room so I was forced to improvise.

SM: Have you ever been or come close to being forcibly ejected from a public venue?

KT: There’s this bar I really like by the Port Authority called Bellevue – it’s a completely sleazy hole with a great jukebox and since it’s right near the bus station it gets some weird walk-in traffic along with the stupid regulars like me. Every time I’m there with friends I get completely blasted, and most of the time I’m trying to get them to throw me out because I know they never will. The last time I was there I made a bet with myself that I could kick this Jersey trash girl in the butt 100 times with no consequences, but she left when I got to around 80. That same night, Ryan Owens punched me in the forehead a few times so I could do hilarious floor-crumples and somebody (no idea who) bought us tons of tequila. Oh, I’ve been thrown out of other bars, ect, but whatever.

SM: Do you have an arch-nemesis?

KT: I suppose if you really wanted to you could define Lord Rexington Fear as my arch-nemesis because he stands for everything I despise – obesity, lechery, selfishness, sluggardliness, braggartry, uglitude. But that gives him too much credit, I think. I like to believe that my arch-nemesis will show himself on my deathbed and take credit and/or blame.

SM: T.S Eliot, C.S. Lewis and William Blake are teaming up for one last big casino heist. What goes wrong?

KT: Blake gets distracted by the clouds painted on the ceiling of the Bellagio, Eliot stays hard and tries to keep going with the plan, Lewis trailing along, but as they load their boots with dollar coins they’re tasered into incognizance.

SM: Regale us, please, with an anecdote.

KT: I don’t have any anecdotes – just stories. And I can’t think of any! Go to the website, there’s like fifty million of them there.

SM: Name one thing you love unequivocally.

KT: Love is like potato chips – you can’t have just one. Climbing trees, seeing the red moon hang over Philadelphia driving home, drawing, making music, falling asleep warmed by a girl, vegetable samosas, squirrels on the fire escape, morning doves, rooftops, beer. The unconditional affection of a dog, the smell of old comic books, the smell of bread, the sound of a Fender Stratocaster, maple bars.

SM: If there was a law entitled Kthor’s Law, what would it require?

KT: Well, given the Megan’s Law precedent where a horrible crime is inflicted and then the victim gets the law, I would say that Kthor’s Law would allow any student in any educational institution to be able to, at any time, take a standardized test (or several) that sums up the course of study and, should they perform to a set level, they should be granted the equivalent of a diploma in the full field of study.

SM: Compose a haiku on a subject of your choosing.

KT:
Ten attempts to know
A person like anyone
Five syllables, yes?

www.shortandhappy.com

Interview w/ Marc Anthony Thompson aka Chocolate Genius

SM: What would we know if we didn’t know trouble?

MAT: Trouble? I don’t know trouble. Every time I think we’re getting acquainted I see some body else who’s on much better terms with it. It’s then that I realize that I only employ trouble in a romantic way to spice up my little hymns.
Like yesterday – I’m riding my bike down Fulton St. and a car horn, obviously broken, is blaring. There’s a woman about 5’4″ tipping the scales at 310 or so barefoot in a dirty housecoat. She’s tapping a white cane on the curb and yelling, “What! What! …..What! ”

Now that is trouble.

SM: What is the first thing you want to know on arriving in a strange city?

MAT: I live in New York. So, I have no idea what you call a “strange city”. But, I usually want the address of reliable bail bondsman. After that I want to know how much the rent is.

SM: What is your first conscious impression on a silent windless grove of trees?

MAT: I always hope that one falls so that I can answer that question once and for all.

SM: My automobile’s driver’s side window is broken, and now cats and hobos come and go as they please. What phrase would you recommend I announce myself with to scatter them in the morning?

MAT: Wow. I used to live in Hollywood and that very same thing happened to me!
I considered it a good omen and bought another car. Although, I must admit, it wasn’t a totally altruistic gesture – Do you really want to put your ass in a seat where a hobo has been sleeping with a cat?

SM: In the middle of the interview, an anecdote is requested.

MAT: Hang on a second. You smarty types – now I got to look up the word anecdote. Oh, that’s how you spell it? On the same page in the dictionary there’s a picture of Marion Anderson. Speaking of strange cities – I think she’s from Philly. Did you know that the Daughter’s of the American Revolution wouldn’t let her perform at Constitution Hall so Eleanor Roosevelt got her a gig at the Lincoln Memorial for 75,000 people? I think that goes to show that not only was Mrs. Roosevelt a brilliant first lady, she was a kick ass agent.

SM: What’s the closest thing you know of to casting a spell?

MAT: The first smoky whiff of ancient apples and the sea that comes after the cork exits a bottle of Couer De Lion Calvados. A close second – Little Anthony and the Imperial’s Going Out of My Head. Oh, and trains.

SM: What is one thing you are sure of?

MAT: I am certain that the room I am in right now is cold, and has yet to be paid for.

SM: If the animals could speak, to what creature would you listen most?

MAT: Ahh. I get it. That’s a trick question. Animals do speak, silly. Whenever I have a moment alone with one I implore them to remember that I never eat them and that all of my leather shoes are free range. I hope that counts for something when they take over.

SM: If you were the devil with an invitation to a party in heaven, what would you wear and how would you act?

MAT: Oh, you’re really trying to trip me up now. Everybody knows that the devil can’t enter the kingdom of Heaven. But, just in case – let’s just say that I would wear Richard Tyler and, you know, I’d be cool. I’d find Marion Anderson and tell her about the dictionary. I bet she’d get a kick out of that.

SM: Please make a prediction for yourself as to what you’ll be up to in ten years.

MAT: Hmmm. Well, I guess it all depends on if you fix the driver’s side window by then.

www.chocolate-genius.com

Interview w/ Harry Shearer, Actor/Writer/Radio Personality

SM: Where are you at in your work right now?

HS: The usual place, equidistant between hope and despair.

SM: What color would you recommend we use to banish ghosts, and why?

HS: Any color will do, since they don’t exist. So try ’em all.

SM: What physical objects would you like to be buried with, King Tutankhamun style?

HS: My trusty portable shortwave radio. Just in case shortwaves reach farther than we think.

SM: If you had to play a song to get into your house, what song would open your front door?

HS: “Hello, It’s Me”, by Todd Rundgren.

SM: In the middle of the interview, an anecdote is requested.

HS: Try pulling the stinger out with tweezers, then rub lemon juice on the affected area.

SM: The last time you dressed up for Halloween, what costume did you wear?

HS: I don’t remember the last time I dressed up for Halloween, it was so long ago. I do costume and mask for Mardi Gras, and most recently, I was a sacred cow and my wife a Hindu goddess.

SM: What do most people want from you, and what would you rather them have?

HS: Right now, during the elction year, most people want me to play their anti-Bush parody songs on my radio show. I would rather they have enough talent to write original songs.

SM: What is your first reaction to a sky full of approaching rain clouds?

HS: Oh, shit. But that’s because I’m a native Southern Californian, heliotropic to the bone. I’m sitting looking at rain right now, and it makes me want to crawl into bed. Plus our house still leaks after ten years of leak-hunting.

SM: Given that human beings are amnesiacs, in that we have no memory of time before we were born, or any certainty of where we go after we die, what’s your best guess as to what happens before and after living?

HS: Pretty much the same as what happens between acts of a sitcom if they don’t show the commercials–two minutes of black.

SM: Please compose a brief haiku or poem on a subject of your choosing.

HS: Life is short, then you die.
Why?

www.harryshearer.com

Interview w/ Carson Ellis , Artist

SM: Where are you at in your work right now?

CE: Trying to devote equal time to fine art, a picture book, a graphic novel, album art for the new Decemberists record, and illustration work; driving myself crazy.

SM: What joke would you tell the devil at a party in hell?

CE: Question: What’s 12 inches long and makes mommy scream all night? Answer: Stillbirth

SM: T.S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis and William Blake have all seperately asked you to the upcoming prom. Who gets to pin the corsage?

CE: C.S. Lewis, but I might get drunk and leave with William Blake.

SM: If yesterday was a combination of three colors, what colors would they be?

CE: Yesterday? Late October in Portland, Oregon? Greyish blue, greyish grey and grey

SM: In the middle of the interview, an anecdote is requested.

CE: Today I spent the day building a phone booth out of wood and discovered when I was finished that I had built it too big to fit through the door. Worse than that, I had used to door as a reference for the size (as in: “I should make it about the size of the door…only wider”). When I realized my mistake I thought I might cry but in the nick of time my friend Jesse came in and sawed the whole thing in half.

SM: Please give us a four word combination to use to banish ghosts.

CE: Be-gone, evil spectre!

SM: What’s your first reaction to a crowded city street?

CE: Clausterphobia.

SM: What is one thing you are sure of?

CE: All you need is love.

SM: What what the last song you produced an illustration to?

CE: “The Sporting Life” by the Decemberists.

SM: Please compose a short poem or haiku about whatever you’d like.

CE:
Ode to C.S. Lewis

‘Neath crepe paper ornaments
We talked all night
You brought me punch
And by candlelight
We talked about Narnia
I said I always felt for Edmund

But William Blake was a wonderful dancer
He said, “Let’s take a walk”
I swooned in answer
But O white witch!
I never saw him again
And lost my chance with you, sweet C.S.

www.carsonellis.com

Interview w/ Zoe Trope, Author – “Please Don’t Kill the Freshman”

SM: If you woke up one morning to find the citizens in the city where you live had vanished, what album would you like to hear that day?

ZT: The “Lost In Translation” soundtrack and/or My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless.”

SM: When was the last time you went on something you feel comfortable calling an adventure?

ZT: August 28, 2004.

SM: What color would you recommend we use to banish ghosts, and why?

ZT: Yellow. They wouldn’t expect it.

SM: What is one thing you are sure of?

ZT: College is expensive.

SM: Regale us, please, with an anecdote.

ZT: My best friend made a tiny stuffed animal for me and I named him “Fang” because she sewed fangs onto his smile. Today Fang and I took a tour of the library and he posed for many photographs.

SM: The last time you dressed up for Halloween, what costume did you wear?

ZT: I wore a long, white dress and a dark blue cloak. People kept asking me if I was Snow White. I told them I was a slutty Ren Faire chick.

SM: What is your first reaction to a big empty library?

ZT: “Sweet. No one will see me taking pictures of Fang.”

SM: Please recommend a four word combination with which to resurrect a pirate ship from the bottom of the sea.

ZT: “Want a blow job?”

SM: If you were given the chance to know one thing for a day that no one else knows, and forget it at midnight, what new knowledge would you spend the day with and what would you do with it?

ZT: I’m not sure. It would probably involve food.

SM: Please compose a haiku on a subject of your choosing.

ZT:
Everyone thinks
haiku are so cool but soon
sonnets will be in.

www.zoe-trope.com

Interview w/Bob Odenkirk – Director, Melvin Goes to Dinner – Comedian, Mr.Show

SM: When was the last time you went on something you feel comfortable calling an adventure?

BO: Last night when I went home tired as shit, and I knew I was going to have to/get to clean the house and put the kids to bed without any help (my wife was out). How would I survive? Would it be pleasant? Would I break down and start yelling? What would go wrong? It was very challenging and exciting. A test of my patience, my fortitude.

SM: If you had locks on all your doors that could only be opened by speaking a four word combination out loud, what four words would you pick to say every day to get into your house?

BO: Open up Dammit. Fuck!

SM: What do you think would be a good opening line for a detective novel?

BO: “Women kill me.”

SM: What is one thing you are sure of?

BO: I will never finish my “great” detective novel.

SM: Regale us, please, with an anecdote.

BO: One time I was in Chicago, waiting tables at a cheezy restaurant and I really resented it, then a little later I was a writer on a national TV show in New York and I was unbelievably depressed and alone, and then, after that, I was in Los Angeles and working on a million different things and had kids and a wife, and while not entirely happy, I was closer to happiness than ever before. You shoulda been there.

SM: What joke would you tell the devil at a party in hell?

BO: Hey, man, who’s in charge of this dump? I got a couple complaints.

SM: When was the last time you danced like you meant it?

BO: Probably at a wedding. I don’t dance much. But when I do, I mean it. Pathetic as that may be.

SM: Barring their name or profession, what’s one of the first things you try to learn about someone after meeting them?

BO: Are you still tight with your family?

SM: Some lunatic on the street has stolen your ice cream cone right out of your hand and run up a tree with it. How do you get your ice cream back?

BO: There is no clever answer. You scramble up the tree, and you punch, kick, bite and tear at that asshole until he gives it up.

SM: Please compose a haiku on a subject of your choosing.

BO:
UNSATISFIED

Five syllables is
Less than Seven and five more
is still not enough

Fuck, you got me to write a fucking haiku.

Bastards.

www.bobanddavid.com

Interview w/ David Cross, Comedian/Actor – Mr.Show, Arrested Development

SM: If you woke up one morning to find the citizens in the city where you live had vanished, what album would you like to hear that day?

DC: The soundtrack to “Free to be You and Me”

SM: What is the last work of art, photography or visual imagery that really made a strong impression on you?

DC: The picture in the LA Times yesterday of the man carrying his dead, bloody mess of a kid from the rubble in Iraq.

SM: What is your first reaction to the sight of a city skyline?

DC: Depending on the city and whether I’m coming or going, either peaceful contentment or slight anxiety.

SM: If you were given the chance to know one thing for a day that no one else knows, and forget it at midnight, what new knowledge would you spend the day with and what would you do with it?

DC: The year that the Red Sox will win the World Series. I would tell as many people as I could and I would secure season tickets for that year. I would write myself notes telling myself that “This was the Year. I know it!” Then I would bet like a madman with every NY Yankee fan I know and get it in writing.

SM: Please indulge us in an anecdote.

DC: Just a random anecdote? Uh…one time I got poison ivy on my cock. How’s that?

SM: What is the most memorable thing you can recall from your days on the road?

DC: “My days on the road”? You make me sound like a debilitated old man reminiscing from my death bed. I remember mostly the comedy condo where everyone would bunk and you would see first hand the depraved sad debauchery of the life of the constantly travelling third rate “entertainer”.

SM: What is your first reaction to the sight of trees covered in kudzu?

DC: I LOVE kudzu. It makes me think of a fictionalized version of me when I was a kid. I remember soft, pleasant times of a childhood that may or may not have existed (but lives on in my head). I think of looking down at a pair dirty grass stained Keds as I traipse across a back lot with weeds poking up through cracked cement and bits of broken glass strewn about as I cross over to the woods to meet up with my friends down by the creek who are gonna light off firecrackers that Scott McNeely brought back from South Carolina.

SM: What is the most common thing most people (i.e., strangers, your fans) seem to want from you, and what would you rather them have?

DC: My undevoted attention and time. I would rather they have my twelfth grade yearbook.

SM: Hypothetical Situation: You blacked out and don’t remember the last ten minutes, but now you find yourself in a tree holding an ice cream cone, with a man on the street yelling that you stole his ice cream right out of his hand. How do you resolve the situation?

DC: I climb down from the tree, apologise profusely and earnestly ask him what the fuck just happened. That I swear I have no recollection of anything and to appear as innocent and harmless as possible. I don’t even like ice cream.

SM: Please compose a haiku on a subject of your choosing.

DC:
The People breath in
They find themselves at a loss
They want a recount

www.bobanddavid.com

Interview w/ John Callahan – Cartoonist

SM: Where are you at in your work right now?

JC: Well, I’m doing the cartoons for the different papers I’m in, and I’ve got a new book going, I’m kind of getting into the idea of the book. I’m getting an animated show on the air about a perverted dog…I’m writing songs, Tom Waits is sort of my mentor right now, he’s helping me along. He likes my songs. I’m trying to get a demo together – I’m looking for famous people… for interesting people to cut it with. It’s kind of like Morrissey meets Leonard Cohen. I’ve been drawing nudes. I’m doing a whole book of nude women. It’s extremely weird.

SM: What is one thing you are absolutely sure of?

JC: That we are spiritual beings.

SM: What was the last circumstance in your life that you absolutely could not explain?

JC: I had a deep intuition that everything was going to be okay. A voice in my heart that completely reassured me. It was beyond the human ability to fathom.

SM: What’s your first reaction to sudden and complete silence?

JC: Bliss.

SM: If you had to spend the next twenty hours immersed in three words (i.e., all you can hear, speak, or think are these three words) what would they be and do you think you could ever bear to encounter them again afterwards?

JC: I am that.

SM: When was the last time you became acutely aware of an important moment passing?

JC: One second ago.

SM: What was the last piece of art or music that really had a serious effect on you?

JC: Leonard Cohen’s song “Sisters of Mercy” has a transcendental quality.

SM: Hypothetical: names spoken aloud are outlawed, and every one has to choose a visual symbol to represent themselves. Describe your symbol.

JC: My symbol would be the question mark.

SM: What captivates your attention in your life right now?

JC: The present moment, really.

SM: Do you have a lucky number?

JC: Five.

www.callahanonline.com

Interview w/ Frank Rich – Editor, Modern Drunkard Magazine

SM: Should they pour alcohol on a street-side curb to commemorate your death, what would you prefer they use?

FR: Yes, except my homies would pour the well whiskey into their mouths. They’ve accidentally spilled enough alcohol for a hundred commemorations. I say well whiskey because it can always be found in a bar, which would remind them of me.

SM: Are there bars in heaven?

FR: Most certainly. J.C. bartends and St. Pete works the door. Wide open bar tab, no closing time, and loads of Sinatra on the jukebox.

SM: Are there bars in hell?

FR: Yes. All they serve is light beer in red-hot thimbles, and the jukebox is
loaded with techno.

SM: T.S Eliot, C.S. Lewis and William Blake are having a drinking contest. Who goes under the table first and who holds their liquor?

FR:
Eliot early into The Waste(d) Land you’d find
Lewis too would soon lie cold in The Country of the Blind
But Blake, ever the Tyger, would still burn bright
Deeper still into the lovely recesses of the night.

SM: What manner of animal are bartenders?

FR: Diligent hounds guarding a kerosene-soaked hen house.

SM: What manner of animal are drunks?

FR: Starving foxes with a working knowledge of fire.

SM: Please indulge us in an anecdote.

FR: Last week I offered a spare-changing wino twenty bucks if he would tell me the truest thing he knew. He started in on some rambling nonsense about always sticking to the straight and narrow, remembered he was a wino, then said, “Hey, if you’re going to dance with the devil, you might as well boogie down.”

SM: Laugh with the devils or cry with the saints?

FR: Rather, tequila with the devils and beer with the saints.

SM: What sort of pirate would you be?

FR: Popular but largely unsuccessful. We’d be too loaded to capture many galleons, but our rum parties would be the talk of the Caribbean.

SM: Please compose a brief poem (haiku preferred) on any subject.

FR:
Jack Daniel’s you swine
You swore you would never change
But where is the proof?

This is in reference to our current boycott of Jack Daniel’s because, in
face of 138 years of tradition, they have lowered their proof once again.
More here:
http://www.drunkard.com/md_editors_rant.htm

www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com

Interview w/ Michael J. Nelson – Author, Comedian – Mystery Science Theater 3000

SM: If they had to play a song at your funeral, what would you like the bereaved to hear, and why?

MN: Mahler’s 8th Symphony, the “Symphony of a Thousand.” It’s 80 minutes long and actually requires 1029 performers to pull it off as Mahler intended (“Symphony of Just Under One Thousand Thirty” didn’t have the same ring.) I think my grieving friends and family would appreciate the effort.

SM: What was the last circumstance in your life that you absolutely could not explain?

MN: The cap to a spanking new bottle of canola oil just up and disappeared (this is quite true.) I didn’t take it, no one in my family has copped to taking it and I believe them, ’cause, you know, who wants the cap to a bottle of canola oil? It may seem trivial, but try living life without the cap to a full bottle of canola oil and you’ll see that it’s not.

SM: C.S. Lewis, William Blake and T.S. Eliot are squaring off against Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Mummy in a fight to the death. Who wins?

MN: I just heard about their fight for the first time — how would I know who wins?

SM: Robots in the future: our servants or our masters?

MN: The robot thing is way oversold. Remember, according to every reliable prognosticator, we were going to be flying to work or play in our personal helicopters by now. That’s turned out to be a nothing and I suspect robots and picture phones will go the same way.

SM: What are you going to be for halloween?

MN: Though I can see where you’d think that I’m the type to dress up for Halloween, I’m actually not! I pass out the candy and try not to scare the smaller children with my low voice and the fact that I’m a large middle-aged man.

SM: Regale us, please, with an anecdote.

MN: I was golfing once with some friends and the foursome in front of us was going unbelievably slow. Ten minute searches for lost balls every other hole; leaving bags on the far side of the green that would take another few minutes to retrieve after they had all putted down — that kind of thing. We told the ranger and he said to go ahead and play through at the turn. We flagged them down and asked to play through and one of the guys just became unhinged. Swearing and cursing us out, telling us we had ruined the best round of his life. His friends just hung their heads in embarrassment.
Well, you must know that I am an absolutely horrid golfer. I can hit about as far as your average eight year-old and I can actually whiff on a drive as often as not. So I was a little intimidated because the unhinged guy just kept up his tirade as I prepared to drive and all I could think was, “Great, now they’re going to know that we ruined their day for my drive that won’t even make it past the ladies’ tee.” I stepped up there as the guy said something like, “Let’s see what you got you (*&% son of (*&%$,” or some such thing.
Well, I don’t know if it was the adreneline or what, but not only did I not whiff, I hit a frozen rope, best drive of my life, dead center of the fairway, out there a respectable distance. Then I turned to the guy and said, “You really oughta relax. Might help your golf game.”

SM: What’s your first reaction to sudden and complete silence?

MN: I think to myself, “Why do I even bother trying to be funny?”

SM: If you had to square off against the devil in a competition based on some area of the creative arts (i.e. a fiddle contest), what would it be?

MN: A contest in which we tried to put on and take off the most pairs of pants in a given period of time. (His tail would get in the way and virtually assure my victory.)

SM: What sort of pirate would you be?

MN: Because it’s well known that I’m not a pirate, I’m inferring a “If you were going to be a pirate” clause up front here, right? If so, I guess I would be a steady, utilitarian pirate, the kind that didn’t brag about his conquests. One that, day after day, just went about the work of pirating, got to bed early, got up early and set a good example for my fellow pirates. Oh, that approach might not make me famous, I know, but at the end of the day, I can hold my head up high and say, “No, sir, I’m no Edward Teach, I know that. And, friends, I am not Bartholomew Roberts. I can live with that. But I was the best pirate I knew how to be, and that sir, is enough. It is enough.”

SM: Please compose a brief poem (haiku preferred) on a subject of your choosing.

MN:
What time do you get
Off of your shift at Kinko’s
I locked myself out

www.michaeljnelson.com

Interview w/ Stephen Elliott – Author, Happy Baby

SM: If you gambled with knowledge instead of money in poker, with the loser forgetting what he knows and the winner learning what the loser forgets, what are the things that you know that you would gamble with?

SE: Early forays into publishing.

SM: What is the most important quality of any man who’s worth a damn?

SE: I don’t know. I think most people are worth a damn. Some aren’t. I’d say sincerity but that’s just BS. I guess that person does good, is good to other people, whatever their true motives might be. I don’t mind if you have bad motives as long as they drive you to do good things.

SM: What is one thing you know to be true?

SE: George Bush has lied to us many times.

SM: If you had to be buried with a book, what title would you choose to carry to the grave?

SE: Maybe Jesus’ Son. But that’s awfully dark. Maybe A Heartbreaking Work or maybe Alicia Erian’s Towelhead because I haven’t read it and I hear it’s great. I’d like to read a new book for the last time.

SM: Please indulge us with an anecdote.

SE: You know, these questions are crazy.

SM: What is the most recent circumstance in which you found yourself that you absolutely could not explain?

SE: I interviewed Billy Corgan for an hour on a stage in front of a thousand people for the City Arts And Lectures series. People kept asking me why I was asked to interview him and I kept responding that I didn’t know. I still don’t. But it went well.

SM: When was the last time your dressed up for Halloween, and as what?

SE: I usually just go as a “glam rocker” or something stupid like that. Put on a shiny shirt, some makeup, maybe leather pants.

SM: Make a prediction for yourself as to what you’ll be up to in ten years.

SE: Impossible. It’ll be totally different from whatever I’m doing now.

SM: What is your first reaction to a crowded city street?

SE: Depends on my mood. When I’m hungover I hate people.

SM: Please compose a haiku on the subject of your choosing.

SE:
No, I won’t compose
A haiku on the subject
Where is the choice there

www.stephenelliott.com

Interview w/Doug Benson – Comedian,The Marijuana-logues

SM: When was the last time you had to wear a suit?

DB: I put a suit on for this interview. And now that you’ve mentioned it, I feel a tad overdressed.

SM: If you were hooked up to a breathing machine powered entirely by the music of one album, and you knew beforehand that you’d have to pick an album that your brain would come to associate with breathing, what album would you hitch up to that most unusual apparatus?

DB: ABBEY ROAD by The Beatles. It’s not necessarily my favorite album, but it’s the first one I ever owned. My cousins and I used to act out the song MAXWELL’S SILVER HAMMER. Nothing puts a smile on a child’s face quicker than the thought of killing someone with a hammer.

SM: What’s your first reaction to sudden and complete silence?

DB: I’m not a fan of it. I think that’s why I’m a stand-up comic. Because at least if the audience isn’t making any noise, I’ve got amplification in my hands and I’m not afraid to use it.

SM: If you had to spend the next twenty hours immersed in three words (i.e., all you can hear, speak, or think are these three words) what would they be and do you think you could ever bear to encounter them again afterwards?

DB: I’d have to go with “I like it” spoken in the voice of Borat from THE ALI G SHOW. And I could hear it again because that voice cracks me up every time. I also like saying “It’s good” and “My wife…” in the Borat voice. I’m sure some of my friends are sick of the Borat voice, because I do it all the time.

SM: Regale us, please, with an anecdote.

DB: One time I ran into someone I knew at a place where I went. True story.

SM: If human beings had monkey-like tails, how would you utilize yours?

DB: Four words: mas tur ba and tion.

SM: How do you make yourself laugh?

DB: Mouth farts get me almost every time.

SM: If you had to have an image airbrushed on your coffin, what would be rendered on your final resting place?

DB: The cast of SIX FEET UNDER. Smiling.

SM: What’s in your pockets right now?

DB: Cell phone; eye drops; an ink pen; wallet; keys; two quarters; several slips of paper with phone numbers and jokes on them. That answer proves that the truth isn’t funny. Or interesting.

SM: Compose for us a brief poem (haiku preferred but not required)

DB:
I’d write a haiku
If I felt like writing one
You write a haiku

www.marijuanalogues.com

Interview w/David Wain – 1/3 of three man comedy group STELLA, co-writer & director WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER

SM: What’s in your pockets right now?

DW:
cell phone
chapstick
keychain w/flashdrive
change
pizza

SM: When was the last time you had to wear a suit?

DW: Shooting our Stella pilot for Comedy Central.

SM: When was the last time you became acutely aware of an important moment passing?
DW: When I had my first child, looking in Debbie’s eyes and knowing that we’ve brought another being to this earth. (not true).

SM: Would you rather see your favorite color on your own clothing or on the clothing of someone for whom you feel deep affection?

DW: The other person.

SM: Regale us, please, with an anecdote.

DW: I was walking down the street and got lost from the people I was walking with. And I went into all the stores looking for them. But in every store was the same guy with an apron on, and all he’d say is “these are penis suits.”

SM: Is there a symbol that you feel has deep importance for you?

DW: Zildjian.

SM: What’s your first reaction to the sound of laughter?

DW: $$$

SM: What was the last piece of art or literature that really had a serious effect on you?

DW: The Da Vinci Code – have you read it?

SM: What’s more pornographic than pornography?

DW: The way we raped the land that was once the homeland of the Native Americans.

SM: compose a haiku, please, on any subject.

DW:
Marcus comes in here.
“What’s your name, my good fellow?”
He likes when I ask.

www.stellacomedy.com