The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
1. For good or ill, which of these inventions has been most important to humanity’s development as a species: dental floss, the stapler, or cheesecake? Why?
I vaguely remember reading an article that said dental floss was a scam, and cheesecake I can take or leave. So, I’m going to go with the stapler. It holds paper together! That’s something useful for a writer. Don’t give me some bullshit about paperclips. Those things are pointless and always fall off. Staples have a simple job, but they do it with determination and consistency. We should all aspire to their example.
As for the human race, well, for hundreds of years paper was the way we passed around information. That’s a lot more important than dental hygiene or cheese-based desserts.
What about binder clips? They far transcend clips of the simple paper variety. I feel like there may be an alternate dimension somewhere in the space-time continuum where they’re almost like Legos, you know?
Binder clips are great for large stacks of paper. I use them on the regular. Staples still rule the land of 10 pages or less. I’m having a hard time picturing binder clip Legos. Can you build anything other than a metal centipede with them?
2. Why does lawn furniture always seem so fucking smug? I mean, wherever, whenever, wicker, rattan, plastic, black, white, red, it’s always just standing there, all like, “You move, motherfucker! I’m lawn furniture.”
I’m afraid I live in New York City, so “lawns” for me are dirty sidewalks and the “furniture” is mounds of black garbage bags. The closest thing to an Adirondack is a dozen long rats. The rats here are damn smug though.
An Adirondack made of a dozen long rats is simultaneously one of the most amusing and terrifying pieces of furniture I can imagine. I’m seeing vast market potential here. Because, honestly, who doesn’t want a dose of manic terror with their furniture. Can you imagine other products in this line? A bean bag made out of porcupines? A komodo dragon couch? Rugs made snakes tied together?
Seems like we’re writing the script to David Cronenberg’s body horror adaptation of the Ikea catalog here. (Which is something I would definitely watch.)
3. If you only had one hour left to live and you could spend it discussing astrophysics with Johnny Depp, commitment with Taylor Swift, or financial derivatives with Peter Dinklage, which would you pick? Why?
Oh, certainly Dinklage and financial derivatives. Have you watched Game of Thrones? That guy can make poop shoot construction in fictional castles sound interesting. Taylor Swift seems dull as dirt and commitment seems like the dullest possible topic for anyone. Johnny Depp, even if he wasn’t an abuser, seems like he’d be the kind of actor who’d always be “on.” Like he’d be talking about gravitational pull in a Jack Sparrow voice or describing black holes with an exaggerated British accent. “Bloody right there’s a wee bit of proper mass in there, gov’ner!” No thanks.
4. Please provide your race/class/alignment as a Dungeons and Dragons character. Defend your choices!
Alignment wise, chaotic neutral for me. I’m firmly on the “society is messed up” side of things (especially in the context of faux-medieval monarchies or whatever), but I hope at least neutral on the good/evil scale (again, especially in the context of faux-medieval fantasy worlds). I will say that the alignment system is a truly brilliant thing, and a great tool for fiction writers of any genre to use to think about how their characters fit into the world they live in.
Class: Wizard or other magic user. Because, come on, some thief with a dagger or dumb barbarian is going to be able to take on someone with actual magic spells???
Race: I’ve never understood people who gravitate toward humans in a fantasy world. Humans kind of suck, plus what’s the point of playing in a fantasy world if you’re just going to be another hairless ape? That said, looking up the D&D races right now and it seems there are a billion ones I don’t remember so I dunno. I’d need to do more research.
It’s later. Have you done your research yet?
Well, I did remember that one of my favorite t-shirts has a baroque design of a crow wizard creature that’s from D&D. The Kenku. So, I guess I’ll say that. Apparently, they are cursed by an evil god to mimic the voices of other people around them, which I guess sounds like a description of a fiction writer?
5. What’s a food that shouldn’t be a food and what should it be instead?
I truly cannot stand bananas. They smell gross, they taste gross, the texture is vile, they’re always slimy and bruised, and they overpower anything they’re added to. The smell is even more overpowering than the taste. It should be straight up illegal to eat a banana and leave the skin out in a public place like a subway car or a small office. I’d rather have cigarette smokers around me.
Instead of a food, they should simply not exist. Luckily for me, it looks like the whole vile plant is going to be extinct soon.
6. Is there life after death?
I’m still unsure if there’s life after birth.
Lincoln Michel is the author of the story collection Upright Beasts (Coffee House Press 2015) and the co-editor of the science fiction anthology Gigantic Worlds (Gigantic Books 2015) and the flash noir anthology Tiny Crimes (Black Balloon Publishing 2018). His fiction appears in Granta, Tin House, NOON, Pushcart Prize XXXIX, and elsewhere. His essays and criticism appear in journals such as The New York Times, GQ, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian. You can find him online at lincolnmichel.com and @thelincoln.
Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, The Weeklings, Entropy, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, The Good Men Project, and others. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press in 2017. He is currently at work on a novel, The Book of Loki, and a hybrid collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry entitled Superman, the Seven Gods of Death, and the Need for Clean, Romantic Poetry. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.kurtbaumeister.com.