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