Six Ridiculous Questions: Janice Lee

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. Gradations of brutality: Would you rather spend an hour as a guillotine cleaner in 18th century France or a year working in the Trump White House?

Definitely an hour as a guillotine cleaner. Cleaning up blood and severed heads for an hour, I can do that. The horrors are incomparable.

Bonus round, serious question…Okay, seriously ridiculous question: Is the lot of the average person in today’s America better than that of the average person in late-18th century France? Why or why not? I’m calling this question ridiculous because every time I see another self-directed Republican tax cut come down the pike, I wonder if I’ve been teleported into some dark, surreal Alt Earth. 

I mean, time isn’t linear so comparison isn’t the right strategy here. The reality is that this is reality and it isn’t an alternative universe, it’s ours, and for many, this has been the reality all along. Some of just haven’t been able to see it until now.


2. Say your mind was swapped with your pet’s, who would be more successful: You as your pet or your pet as you?

Oh, Benny is an evil genius. He could accomplish much with a human body.

What would his first act be as Janice?

Buy a lot of steaks.


3. Do scorpions have rich inner lives? Why or why not?

Of course. I believe all animals and plants and living beings do. Just because we can’t access it doesn’t mean there aren’t worlds within worlds occurring all around us. They think, imagine, dream, just not in the same ways we do.


4. If you were hanging out in front of a 7-11 and an evil wizard pulled up in his Dodge Charger, got out and, said he was going to turn you into a cartoon character, but was willing to allow you to lobby for your desired result—OK, I guess he’s not the epitome of evil, but he’s still really bad (permanently arched brows, a truly disconcerting beard, perhaps a demonic familiar or an ill-tempered cat, and the Charger, obviously)—which character would you choose?

Ice Bear.

I sure hope so because that is one dope-ass gif. What is Ice Bear riding, a personalized Zamboni? Any other details you can provide regarding Ice Bear’s back story? I mean, how did she get the axe? Also, is Ice Bear like a cartoon subspecies (like a polar bear but with an axe and a personal Zamboni)? Would you be Janice the Ice Bear? Or, is it more like a superhero thing, “By day, Professor Janice Lee writes, reads, and teaches America’s youth; by night, she is Ice Bear, scourge of villainy?”

It’s like a souped-up Roomba. Ice Bear, of the awesome show We Bare Bears (I highly recommend it) is the youngest of 3 bear brothers who grew up in Siberia, where he learned to cook, wield an axe, and speak Russian. Mostly, he is badass, super strong, has lots of secret abilities, and is very loyal.


5. 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?

The accounting firm: horses. (see Clever Hans)

Teaching hospital: raccoons. (see

Public defender’s office: honey badgers. (see Stoffle, the honey badger)

University English department: gibbons. (see gibbons singing)


6. Do you think you got the job?

Which one?

That’s the eternal question, isn’t it? Here’s the temporary answer: Six Ridiculous Questions is the job. The deal I made with the Universe is that I could only quit once I got someone to give me the right answer to that question and then they would have to take over for me forever. Or at least until they got someone to give them the right answer. Anyhoot, you just did! Give the right answer, I mean. Congratulations! Never fear: The Universe is willing to let you select your first guest. Go.

Ha. I see what you did there. Does this job come with benefits? If I had to select a first guest, my dog Benny.


Janice Lee is the author of 5 books of fiction & nonfiction: KEROTAKIS (Dog Horn Press, 2010), Daughter (Jaded Ibis, 2011), Damnation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2013), Reconsolidation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2015), and The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016). She writes about the filmic long take, slowness, interspecies communication, plants & personhood, the apocalypse, architectural spaces, inherited trauma, and the concept of han in Korean culture, and asks the question, how do we hold space open while maintaining intimacy? She is Founder & Executive Editor of Entropy, Co-Publisher at Civil Coping Mechanisms, Contributing Editor at Fanzine, and Co-Founder of The Accomplices LLC. She currently lives in Portland, OR where she is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Portland State University.

Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, The Weeklings, Entropy, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, The Good Men Project, and others. Now a Contributing Editor with The Weeklings, Baumeister’s Review Microbrew column is published by The Nervous Breakdown. He edits the Under the Influence feature for Entropy. 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

Follow Vol. 1 Brooklyn on TwitterFacebook, and sign up for our mailing list.