Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Conversation I Will Have with Chuck Klosterman

"Man, Alex, you are one witty motherfucker! And you are totally right about Killing Yourself to Live being a rip-off of Sherman's March. Please take over my column in Esquire, really. I want to focus on movies."

ganked from Ellen Killoran's article in Canon Magazine :The Conversation I Will Never Have with Chuck Klosterman
posted in Bookform's blog

Preface from Killoran: In Chuck Klosterman’s book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, he lists 23 questions that address existential dilemmas of varying intensity. I have included 21 of those questions and my answers to them; two were discarded after experiencing several vivid nightmares about the reactions from family members and ex-boyfriends who might read them.

My addendum: I would totally have this conversation with Chuck Klosterman, eagerly, in that it would be but one part of my plan to become the new, better Chuck Klosterman, disregarding the fact that he is younger and wildly more successful than me.

Q: You meet a magician. He can do five simple tricks: pull a rabbit out of a hat, make a coin disappear, turn an ace to a joker, and two similar others. These are his only tricks, and he cannot learn any more. HOWEVER, he is doing these tricks with REAL MAGIC. No illusions, he can actually conjure a bunny, and move a coin through space. He is legitimately magical, but limited in scope. Is this person more impressive then Albert Einstein?

A: People do magic all the time, like change stoplights, make a good movie come on cable on a Saturday afternoon, write yet one more dumb indie rock song that is shatteringly brilliant for at least a moment. I think real magic has more to do with not not doing magic than doing anything directly. So yeah, big whup. Einsten is more impressive.

Q: Assume a fully grown horse is shackled to the ground with head held in place; conscious and upright, but immobile. Every political prisoner on earth will be released if you can kick this horse to death in twenty minutes. Steel-toed boots are allowed. Would you attempt this?

A: Probably not. I don't exactly have the intel on each political prisoner, and I don;t exactly trust Amnesty Int'l with the results of my horse-murder.

Q: There are two open boxes on a table. In one lays a turtle, in the other Adolf Hitler’s skull. If you select the turtle you must keep it and ensure it is alive for two years, else you will be fined $999 by the state. If you select the skull you must apolitically display it in your living room for two years, but you will be paid $120/month. Which option do you select?

A: I would center my whole decorating scheme around Hitler's skull. I just spent two weekends looking for the grave of his horse, and am in fact avoiding finishing the article on it by answering this question. I would also consider hiring the kid from the recent scandalous news to come make a bong out of it. I'm not sure I get the big hoopla - I mean, suer don't do it in front of my grieving family, but otherwise I don't really care if you use my skull for a bong. I will look down from Heaven and think it is kinda funny.

Q: Genetic Engineers have developed a super gorilla. It cannot speak but has a vocabulary of over 12,000 words in sign language, an IQ of ~85, and a sense of self-awareness. The 700 lb. creature becomes infatuated with football. ESPN analyst Tom Jackson speculates it would be borderline unblockable and would likely average 6 sacks a game, but may be susceptible to misdirection plays. The gorilla has made it clear he would never intentionally injure an opponent. You are the commissioner of the NFL: Do you allow the gorilla to sign with the Oakland Raiders?

A: Easy answer. Yes. Even if it ruins football forever, it is worth the risk.

Q: You meet your soul mate. The catch: every three years someone will break both of the love of your life's collarbones with a crescent wrench. Unless: you swallow a pill that will make all the music you hear for three years sound as it was being covered by Alice in Chains. Do you swallow the pill?

A: Find another soul mate. The ironic gods will be watching, though, and punish you by revealing that your soul mate is a huge Alice in Chains fan and that is all you will hear in the car anyway forever.

Q: The Dream VCR is invented; a machine that can record your dreams for an entire evening. However, when you watch the recording you must be in the same room as your family and closest friends. Would you still use it?

A: No. For the same reason that I don't hold any jurisdiction over the current VCR/remote/etc. - my dreams are as obvious and dull as any movie I pick out once I invite someone else to watch it.

Q: A Scottish marine biologist captures a live Loch Ness Monster. The same day a hunter in the Pacific Northwest shoots a Sasquatch in the thigh and takes it into captivity. That evening the president announces he has thyroid cancer and will undergo a biopsy next week. You are the front page editor of the New York Times: Which do you play as your big story?

A: Sasquatch all the way. Loch Ness Monster is a good one, but Sasquatch is the dark soul of America. I would hope my coverage causes such a ruckus that hit leads to his escape into the labyrinth of Manhattan where he recruits his unholy army of the night, and eventually takes over the city. And they bring in Kurt Russel to save he city. Not Snake, but actual Kurt Russell.

Q: You meet the perfect person; romantically ideal. But they are obsessed with Jim Henson's gothic puppet fantasy The Dark Crystal. They watch it once a month and pepper conversation with references, occasionally talking about a deeper philosophy. Would this be enough to stop you from marrying this individual?

A: I'm less wary of someone who has a weird obsession like this as I am of someone who has no obsessions at all, so bring on the dirty, dirty Gelfling/Skeksis bedroom play.

Q: A novel entitled Interior Mirror is released to mammoth commercial success. Though no one can prove a direct scientific link, almost 30% of the people who read the novel immediately become homosexual. Many thank the book for helping them reach this conclusion about their sexuality. Interior Mirror is a crime novel with no homoerotic content and was written by a straight man. Would this phenomenon increase the likelihood of you reading this book?

A: Like most books, I would read about fifty pages of it, start my GoodReads review of how awesome it is and then never pick it up again.

Q: Consider the opening riff of Barracuda on Heart's Little Queen album, as well as the quote "You are not the kind of guy who would be in a place like this at this time of the morning...." Which of these two introductions is a higher form of art?

A: Is he implying that he doesn't like "Barracuda?" The superior awesomeness quotient of "Barracuda" is a given in my book, so yes, it trumps Jay McI's second-person sex 'n' drugs book by a mile.

Q: You are watching a dazzling movie in a crowded theatre. With twenty minutes left in the film you are struck with the undeniable feeling that your mother has just died. There is no logical reason for this, but you are certain. There is no evidence of this, and your mother has not been ill. Would you finish watching the movie, or immediately exit the crowded theatre?

A: It takes much less than the potential death of my mother to get me to leave a theatre. As to whether I would call made me remember this: When I came home from a trip once, before the era of constant cell-phone updates, I got a sick feeling in my stomach in the elevator up to my apartment, something was wrong, and when I got to the apartment, my wife told me that her mom had died. So yes, I'd leave a movie.

Q: You meet a wizard downtown. The wizard tells you he can make you more attractive. When you question the process, the wizard points to a random person on the street and says: "I will now make them a dollar more attractive." He waves a magic wand. Ostensibly, this person does not change at all, but somehow this person is slightly more appealing. There is no tangible change to reflect this but they are undeniably sexier. The wizard has one rule: you can only pay him once, one lump sum up front. How much cash do you give the wizard?

A: I'd pass and spend the five dollars in my wallet on an expensive coffee drink, which always makes me feel sexier.

Q: Cats suddenly read at a 12th grade level. They cannot talk or write but can read silently and understand the text. Many cats love this new skill as it gives them something to do all day; others wallow in their own self pity because they’re unable to express themselves. Do you think the average cat would enjoy Garfield or would cats find this to be an insulting caricature?

A: If they were like me, they would profess to think Garfield was beneath them but when reading it again with their kittens, they would catch themselves laughing at it.

Q: You have a brain tumor. No discomfort but this tumor will unquestionably kill you in six months. Your life can be saved by an operation. The operation will require an incision into your frontal lobe. Thus after the surgery you will be significantly less intelligent, less logical, you will have a terrible memory, and difficulty understanding. The surgery is in two weeks. How you spend the next fourteen days?

A: I would have monkey football to keep me entertained...

Q: Someone builds an optical portal which allows you to see your own life in the future. You can only look into it for thirty seconds. When you finally peer into the ball you see yourself sitting alone on the sofa decades older then you are today. You are watching Canadian Football, and you are extremely happy. You are wearing a CFL jersey, your sofa is surrounded by books and magazines on the CFL, and there are CFL pennants covering your walls. The future is static and absolute; no matter what you do this will happen, destiny can not be changed. The next day you are flipping through the channels and randomly come across a CFL game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Knowing your inevitable future, do you now watch it?

A: Surely the Canadians would at some point have to relent and allow gorillas into their teams, and somewhere in my tumor-less stupor I would have a sense that I was somehow behind that (which I suspect to be a large part of being an ardent sports fan - thinking your love has radiating impact on the game) and it would be quite pleasing. So no, I would not watch it now. I got my whole life ahead for it.

Q: You are sitting in an empty bar, in a lonely town you have never been to before, drinking Bacardi with a soft-spoken acquaintance you barely know. After thirty minutes a man walks into the bar and sits alone. You ask your "friend" about him. He is described to you as "a man with a past." Five minutes later another man walks in, sits alone and you ask about him. He is described as "a man with no past." Of the two men, who do you trust less?

A: A man with no past is just one who lacks the basic ego/fragility to reveal his past, and would be dull company, and I am more likely to trust someone whose company I enjoy.

Q: You won a prize with two options: 1) A year in Europe with a monthly stipend of $2,000/month, or 2) Ten minutes on the moon. Which do you choose?

A: You know the trip to the moon would SUUUUUCK and ten minutes would be a big let down. I would be the richest hobo in Europe, and write "A Year as the Richest Hobo in Europe" and curse the fact that "A Year As" books are out and self-help is back in on the Non-Fiction charts.

Q: Your best friend is taking a nap on your living room floor. This friend is going to die unless you kick them as hard as you can in the ribs. If you do not kick them, then they will never wake up. You cannot explain this existential dilemma to your friend, and if you inform them they will die. So you must kick them in the ribs and can't tell them why. What excuse do you fabricate to explain this attack?

A: I'd play it off as a Jackass skit.

Q: Two movies are made about your life. 1) Indie-documentary comprised of interviews with your friends and family and bootleg footage from your actual life. Critics are describing it as "brutally honest and relentlessly fair." 2) Big budget bio-pic with stars cast as you and your acquaintances. Critics are split on the artistic merit, but audiences love it. Which film would you be most interested in seeing?

A: Ugh, what kind of masochist wants a brutally honest portrait of their own life? Part of why I don't get the severe need for accuracy in memoirs - y'all all know life is generally pretty boring, right? Even Jacques Cousteau probably spends a lot of down time getting to the Mariana Trench on the Calypso.

Q: You work in an office. There are two rumors about you. The first is that you got drunk at the Christmas party and had sex with a married co-worker. This rumor is true, but no one believes it. The second is that you have been stealing office supplies and then selling them to cover a gambling debt. This rumor is false, but everyone assumes it is true. Which of these rumors is most troubling to you?

A: The last thing I think I portray myself is as a gambler, so that would be a big letdown. I steal office supplies because they are cool.

Q: You are living inside a sitcom. Everything about your life is a construction featuring an un-famous John Ritter as himself (playing your TV father). This is not a sitcom; it is your real life. How would you feel about this?

A: I'd' be okay with it. John Ritter usually brings with him a tidy sense of denouement in the sitcom world, even when the plots are tired as hell. As his kid, I would probably play sports, even be in a band at some point, have minor teen starlets guesting as my girlfriend. Unless you mean as an adult, then also yes, I'd be all over it it.

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