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. What would life be like as your evil twin?
Not unlike the characters in my books.
2. Scenario: The following people are on Season 1000 of the television show Survivor, and yes, time travel and communication with the dead have both been perfected so…Nancy Pelosi, Jean Michel Basquiat, Hedy Lamarr, Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, Joan of Arc, Judy Garland, Angelina Jolie, Muhammad Ali, Marie Antoinette, Bob Marley, Socrates, Confucius, Yukio Mishima, JK Rowling, Cleopatra, Peter Dinklage, Queen Elizabeth I, and Kublai Khan. Who would be first voted off the island? Who would win? Would Jeff Probst still be the host? Please discuss in as much detail as you can bear.
This would be a very, very compelling season of Survivor. Jeff Probst would still have his sleeves rolled out, his dimples unmoved. I feel like Angelina Jolie would be the first to go. Too much of a guileless do-gooder. Dinklage would be a fan favorite that the audience will want back for Season 1001: Survivor: Tropical Greenland: Dwarf v. Giants All-Stars. Pelosi, Bob Marley, Confucius, and JK Rowling fly under the radar for the first few weeks. Basquiat and Austen have a torrid, malodorous affair. Thomas Jefferson gets Medivac’d off the island. Yukio Mishima commits seppuku early on, while there are still lots of contestants to witness it. It’s an all-female final featuring Queen Elizabeth, Judy Garland, Joan of Arc, and Marie Antoinette, with Garland winning the jury votes for being the least ruthless.
3. If you were staffing a cartoon accounting firm made up of anthropomorphized animals, which species would you select to populate said firm (other than humans)? How about a teaching hospital? The public defender’s office? A university English department?
Accountants are feral dogs. The job requires you to be pretty comfortable with shifting realities. Hamsters in the teaching hospital. Doctors and nurses have to be comfortable in a box and figuring out mazes, which is pretty much the way medical professionals diagnose illnesses. Public defenders are old dogs, loyal but jaded. English profs are the most predatory of wolves, desperate and dangerous.
4. What’s one Greek myth you wish ended differently? How would you end it?
The Trojan Horse myth is absolutely ridiculous. Your enemy leaves a giant sacred horse and you take it back with you? You deserve to get routed if you’re that dumb. Let’s say the Trojans were as smart as the Greeks. They burn that stupid horse and the soldiers in it alive. This further enrages the Greeks, and the war goes on forever and is still going to this day. And thus, the myth is far more resonant because it resembles our recent decades of endless war.
5. You’ve become so famous they’re building a monument to you. And they want your input. (Yes, I know it’s awkward, but “they” insist. And you know when “they” get like this, you just can’t say no.) What would your monument be called? Where would it be located? What would it be built of? What would it look like?
It would be a version of the bronze Mannekin Pis in Amsterdam except I, the statue, would be doing the Asian squat and having water coming out my backside and into a fountain.
6. Do you think you got the job?
I very much hope not.
Leland Cheuk is the author of the story collection Letters from Dinosaurs (2016) and the novel The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong (2015), which was an Amazon National Bestseller in Asian American Literature and published in translation in China (2018). His newest novel No Good Very Bad Asian is forthcoming from C&R Press in 2019. Cheuk’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming in publications such as Salon, Catapult, Joyland Magazine, among other outlets. He’s the founder of the indie press 7.13 Books and lives in Brooklyn.
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.