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. Would you make a good supervillain? Why or why not? Describe a day in the life of your potential supervillainous self. Also, we need a supervillainous sobriquet (or two) for you. Also, also, a description of your “lair” would be nice.
I will be a superb Karma Girl. I’ll see that you get what’s coming to you. Dante for the twenty-first century. Designers of phone-tree systems, arrangers of smooth jazz, the guy who signed off on super-narrow half-ply “toilet tissue,” destroyers of fun social media sites, airline executives who make you pay extra to sit with your kid, I’m coming for you with phone disconnections, ads in your ear every ten seconds, elevator breakdowns, turbulence, tweets that never get a like; I’m coming after you with dysentery! Havoc will be wrought, but I don’t care! I will be chuckling from my underground Karma Cave where I exercise Reverse Karma so my Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox win every game on my big screen TV and I can eat cupcakes all day and never get fat.
2. How would civilization be different if humans were actually half-human/half-canine dogotaurs? Please be detailed in your response and consider such things as art, science, architecture, language, and cuisine in your reply.
There is precedence for this in Dino, the Flintstone’s extravagant, talking, occasionally amorous, sometimes drink-serving purple/pink dinosaur-dog. We therefore know that dogotaurs would live in stone-house suburbs with club-wielding brutes who get into scrapes, eschew shoes, and watch lots of TV.
3. Please solve this equation using only sentences:
Dragon + Fedora – Theory of Relativity = (Beijing x Slinky)/(Bullwinkle + Gold)
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, being the rough equivalent of snips, snails, and puppy-dog tails, shall, when combined with know-when-to-hold-them, know-when-to-fold-them, yield a satisfying tale, complete with denouement.
4. Tell me about your favorite book, film, painting, and/or album that doesn’t exist. You don’t have to be the (future, potential) creator though you could be.
Easy: it’s the book I have in my mind. Man, is it clever and moving and original. Craftwise, it involves all things I’ve never figured out, like suspense, description, and highly likeable characters. It crosses over gracefully, earning me both dough and critical acclaim. It has illustrations.
5. A literary agent, an author, and six tuxedoed aardvarks walk into a bar…Finish this joke, story, anecdote, fable, or whatever it is, however you want.
Author Not Me: Represent me! The book I have in mind shall soon be on paper. It is clever and moving and original, and involves suspense, description, and highly likeable characters. It has illustrations.
Not My Agent: My sense is that I would not be the confident, effective advocate you and your work deserve. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I am going instead with the aardvarks. Look at them: they’re dressed up and ready to party.
Author Not Me: My book is about likeable aardvarks!
Not My Agent: So inappropriate
6. “Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me
Somewhere over the rainbow
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh, why can’t I?”
Lovely idea. I think we can tweak this a bit and make it work. Is the speaker wishing while sleeping? More powerful, maybe, if s/he has the agency of an awake person. Not sure that lemon drops melt; replace with chocolate?? An overreliance on prepositions (behind, above, over) makes for an awkward structure (some might say annoying). Is the speaker ending up on top of a chimney? Why? I’m having trouble following his/her motivation. Also, bluebirds or any bird? We honor the reader with precision. And the last line definitely has to go: so whiney! Let me know if you have questions.
Rachel Cantor’s latest novel, Half-Life of a Stolen Sister (Soho Press 2023) brings the Brontë family to a time and place much like our own, using a variety of forms to offer a not-so-reliable version of their lives. She is also the author of Good on Paper (Melville House 2016), A Highly Unlikely Scenario (Melville House 2014), and two dozen short stories, which have appeared in the Paris Review, One Story, Ninth Letter, Kenyon Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. She has written about fiction for National Public Radio, the Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is writing a series of middle grade and young adult books set in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Kurt Baumeister has written for Salon, Electric Literature, Guernica, Rain Taxi, The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, and others. His debut novel, a satirical thriller entitled Pax Americana, was published by Stalking Horse Press. Forthcoming are a novel, Twilight of the Gods, and a story collection, Cartoons for the End of the World. Find him on Facebook, Twitter, or at www.kurtbaumeister.com.
Photo: Marianne Barcellona