Six Ridiculous Questions with duncan b. barlow

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’m going to go with dental floss. It’s helped with dental hygiene and it makes for a great sewing thread when some hipster wants to stitch that pentagram on the back of a fake biker jacket they picked up at Target. I’d say, of the three, dental floss, has the most potential uses.

Sounds reasonable. Can you think of some other uses? For dental floss I mean. Like, imagine you’re MacGyver—which I never watched but imagine it anyway—and describe the most seemingly-impossible-to-escape jam you can think of, then tell us how you’d get out of it using only your wits, brawn, and dental floss. And assuming you’re still MacGyver, of course. I’m not talking about the new MacGyver either or the vaguely comedic spoof MacGyver (whatever his name is), but the old cool MacGyver that I never watched. Go.

An escape raft I’m on is swallowed by a whale. Most of the people—no, all of the people—besides me die, and I’m buried under someone. I have just enough room to wiggle out my dental floss and wrap it around the neck of the portly man on top of me. I unfurl a few feet of floss, double it up, wrap it around the guy’s neck and begin sawing. Slow and wet is the work.


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 think it’s been told it’s special all the time. I mean, it’s serious about leisure. Lawn furniture is like the guy in the bar wearing the Hawaiian shirt, the one screaming, I’m actually the most uptight white guy you’ve ever met but I’m trying to show you how chill I’ve convinced myself that I am. I hate lawn furniture unless it’s been properly cleaned. It’s rife with spiders.

Funny you should mention spiders in the context of lawn furniture. I was on my back deck the other night drinking a beer. I felt something kind of weird and soft, vaguely plant like, you know, I thought a bush or a rogue weed or some such, then I realized it was a spider web and I was like, “Blaggack!” There’s nothing like unexpected spiders to kill your buzz, am I right?

They are the ultimate buzz killers. I hate it when I wake up with a spider bite on my face. I know, I mean I just know, I swallowed it at some point.


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?

Peter Dinklage in a second. I think he’s really quite clever and he was roommates with one of my friends back home in the nineties. Let’s face it, I know very little about financial derivatives, so he’s got to know more than I do. Also, he sang “Spacepants,” which got stuck in my head over the two weeks I just bounced around Europe.

Being a musician, when a song gets stuck in your head like that, do you ever find yourself considering new arrangements? Like, IDK, maybe however the London Philharmonic would do “Spacepants”, or Dinklage Sings the Blues “Spacepants”, or whatever?

Not really external like that, but I do little remixes sometimes without realizing it. It usually takes someone sitting next to me saying “you’re remixing ‘Spacepants’?” or whatever the song is to bring it to my attention. I talk to myself quite a bit.


4. Please provide your race/class/alignment as a Dungeons and Dragons character. Defend your choices!

I’d be the Beholder. Partially because I always liked the image of him in the monster manual, but mostly because I want to become the invisible eye. I say that but mean it completely divorced of God.

Yeah, beholders were pretty cool. The Eye Tyrants, right? They weren’t exactly invisible, though. They were evil and would completely fuck your shit up. Also, they weren’t actually characters, duncan.

Eh, I admit I had to Google the name of the thing because I never really played the game.

Wot? You gave me a fabricated answer to a D&D question? This is completely unacceptable.

Honestly, I couldn’t really read much until I was in 6th grade (Dyslexia), so I bought all the D & D stuff and acted like I could read it. When I’d sleep at friends’ houses, I’d sort of ape what they were doing with their character sheets (or whatever they were called) and try to play along without being called out as a fraud. I can tell you this much, they were not pleased with me when I claimed to have one million hit points. (I still don’t know how to play that stupid game).


 Maybe we should just move on?


5. What’s a food that shouldn’t be a food and what should it be instead?

Pineapple Pizza shouldn’t be a food. If I have to explain it, we’re on opposing teams. However, in the spirit of finding a suitable common ground, I would propose trying peanut butter pizza. There used to be this pizza place called Charlie’s Pizzeria in 1985 that let punk bands play there. My parents drank too much when I was young and I’d often find myself there late at night with no money. Charlie was an old vet who had a soft spot for all these punk rock kids that came around, so he’d always baked peanut butter pizza and gave out free samples at shows. Some nights when I couldn’t find a ride home, Charlie would let me crash in one of the booths at the restaurant.

We are on exactly the same team as far as Pineapple Pizza is concerned. Was Charlie’s peanut butter pizza any good? I don’t think you said, which is probably a tell. Still, tell. I mean, for real, tell…

I thought it was great. I sometimes get a peanut butter and pizza sauce bagel at the campus bagel chain. The students behind the counter always look at me like I’m crazy, but I get that a lot in general up here in the Dakotas. You should try it, Kurt. Let me know what you think.


6. Is there life after death?

I don’t know. I’m hoping not. It just seems exhausting. All of my friends that believe in god are always planning for their afterlife and it blows me away because I have my hands full stumbling through this one.


duncan b. barlow is the author of The City, Awake (Stalking Horse 2017), Of Flesh and Fur (The Cupboard 2016), and Super Cell Anemia (2008). His novel, A Dog Between Us, will be released by Stalking Horse Press in 2019. His work has appeared in The Denver Quarterly, The Collagist, Banango Street, The Fanzine, Sleeping Fish, Word Riot, The Apeiron Review, Meat for Tea, Matter Press, and Masque and Spectacle. He teaches creative writing and publishing at the University of South Dakota, where he is publisher at Astrophil Press and the managing editor at South Dakota Review. He has also edited for Tarpaulin Sky and The Bombay Gin, among others.

Before writing, duncan b. barlow was a touring musician who played with Endpoint, By The Grace of God, Guilt, the aasee lake, The Lull Account, Good Riddance, and many more. His interviews about music and subculture have been published in academic texts, books, and magazines such as: Straight Edge: Clean-Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change on Rutgers University Press, We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet Collected Interviews on Akashic, and Burning Fight on Revelation Records.


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

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