Six Ridiculous Questions: Duke Haney

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. If you were a Martian, what sort of Martian would you be? Would you be good or evil? An emperor or a worker bee? Warrior? Scientist? Magician? Please base this on solid research such as Bugs Bunny cartoons and hundred-year-old movies with terrible special effects. Go.

I would be a bohemian Martian, and since any self-respecting bohemian, even a Martian one, should be familiar with Nietzsche, I would be beyond good and evil, thank you very much. If I encountered Bugs Bunny on the red planet, I would invite him to smoke tea at the existential café and recite his poetry while I snapped my fingers in appreciation. Like, wow, that line about the wrong turn at Albuquerque was a gas, Daddy-O. I think Bugs could swing with that. I see a potential teahead in him. I get a cokehead or methhead vibe from Daffy Duff, another visitor to Mars.


2. Say you dwelt in the Transformers Expanded Universe, which is also known as “What Hell would be if Michael Bay were the Devil.” What would you transform from and into? What would your name be? Would you be good or evil? Assuming that El Diablo Bayo was willing to afford you some creative control, who would you choose to costar with in Hell, Shia LeBeouf, Mark Wahlberg, or John Cena? Why?

Michael Bay is the Devil inside or outside of Hell, and I can state with contemptibly snobby pride that I’ve never seen a Transformers movie or even a trailer for one, so I’m unequipped to answer your several questions pertaining to a theoretical Transformers movie. It’s supposed to be six questions altogether, and here I’m presented with five, you cheater! And what’s this hang-up about good and evil? What ever happened to nuance? Michael Bay and his ilk, that’s what! You certainly provide me with a hellish choice of costars, but if I were forced to choose one, I would go with LeBeouf, since he’s the only actor among them—sorry, Marky Mark and Neckless Wrestler Dude—and Shya’s bizarre meltdowns might drive Michael Bay to the brink and beyond, and once Bay was permanently installed in Hell’s equivalent of Camarillo State Mental Hospital, I would transform the Transformers movie into a poetic indie production like The Rider. Yes, that would be my role: the instrument of Bay’s implosion and the reinvention of Hell as an art-house Shangri-La, and I would naturally do it all under my own name.


3. What do you think James Joyce would have to say about Lady Gaga? How about Beckett?

About Lady Gaga: “No I said no I will say No.” About Beckett: “All right, Nora, I confess. Beckett dropped in to help with page 2,963 of the Work in Progress, and he dragged me to Le Select and here I am peloothered.”


4. Donald Trump: Please explain. I’m not looking for the usual socio-politico-econo-answer-o here, but rather the sort of explanation we’ll be able to feel good about. Meaning, complete bullshit, of course. Example: He is a product of an illuminati plot involving the splicing of human and reptile DNA, something along those lines. Please be creative and specific!

I can only quote Tenskwatawa, aka the Shawnee Prophet and brother of the great Tecumseh, who sought to unite all Indian nations against the encroachment of white invaders. After Tecumseh was slain in the Battles of the Thames in 1813, Tenskwatawa addressed his people thus: “The loss of my brother and his dream of unity weighs on us all, but do not despair, for I have had a vision of the retribution to come. In this vision I saw a man with skin the color of a pumpkin and hair like brittle straw. His hands were the size of sparrow feet, and his manhood—now, that was really disgusting; it reminded me of mushroom—and when he spoke, brown waste poured from his mouth. You know what I mean by ‘brown waste,’ right? I’m trying to keep this clean for the kids. Anyway, this man—I’ll call him Pumpkin Man—was a hero to a great many white people, at least half of them with red necks and many wearing red hats, and all of them were yelling about driving out the immigrants, which really cracked me up, because what are they if not immigrants? Now, this part is also disgusting, but they were literally eating the brown waste of Pumpkin Man, okay, and the brown waste made them all crazy, and here’s the weird thing: even the ones who refused to eat the brown waste were made crazy by Pumpkin Man. They couldn’t think straight, they were so obsessed with him, and they hated the ones with the red necks and the red hats, and the ones with the red necks and the red hats hated them back, and their totally illegal country, founded on our stolen land, was split in half and never recovered. You think our union failed? That’s nothing compared to what lies in store for the white man. Thank you. No, hold your applause. Thank you. Guys, can you please stop cheering? It’s not going to happen for more than two hundred years! Yeah, sorry, I was saving that part for last. I know, we’re all going to be dead by then, but at least it’s going to happen, trust me—or ‘believe me,’ as Pumpkin Man kept saying in the vision. You want to see my impression of him? Don’t walk out, it’s really funny. Come on, guys, I worked on it all day.” This quote—100 percent accurate, as the unassailable Internet will confirm—is the best I can offer by way of a feel-good remark of any sort about His Gruesomeness.


5. It’s a broadly posited theory that cats meow as a way of communicating with humans. They are, purportedly, mimicking the sounds human babies make, having rightly deduced adult human caregivers as being willing to do just about anything to appease their squawking progeny. Given another million years of evolution, do you think cats will completely subjugate humanity. Discuss.

My dear man, did you not know that cats have already subjugated humanity? Have you not heeded the numberless memes and “cute” videos on social media? Attend to that at once or there will be consequences. Yes, Cleo, I have written him what you instructed me to write. Can I cauterize the scratches now?


6. Tell me all your thoughts on God.

All of my thoughts about God are contained in this dot— —and can be read with a microscope. If no microscope is readily available, print out this page, cut out the dot, and place it in a bowl of water, which will cause the dot to expand to a temple the size of a jumpy castle. I should warn you that manic children may also appear to leap about in the temple, but if they’re old enough to read, they might be calmed by my thoughts about God, which will be inscribed on the walls of the temple. As a further warning, I observe the Aztec religion, so before placing the dot in water, you might want to childproof your home, removing any obsidian daggers you happen to have on hand. Hail, Quetzalcoatl!


Duke Haney has spent most of his adult life working in the movie business as an actor and screenwriter, with twenty feature-film credits as the former and twenty-two as the latter. He used pseudonyms for some of the screenplays and went by “D. R. Haney” as the author of Banned for Life, a novel, and Subversia, an essay collection. After he was struck by a car in a crosswalk, a friend claimed he walked like John “Duke” Wayne and gave him the nickname by which most people know him and he has belatedly adopted as his pen name. His most recent book, Death Valley Superstars: Occasionally Fatal Adventures in Filmland, mixes memoir and profiles of such famous figures as Marilyn Monroe and Jim Morrison, as well as widely forgotten celebrities, from screen fugitive and off-screen bank robber Mark Frechette, to Steve Cochran, “the most glamorous of film-noir heavies” and “a hard-drinking, bed-hopping cop magnet” in reality. 

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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