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.
Ooh, I need another few espresso shots if you’re gonna lob words like “sobriquet” at me! LOL. Let’s start with the lair: I’m imagining a kind of Breaking Bad, keep the operation on the road sort of thing—except instead of a rolling meth lab, I’d just stay at a series of shitty motels, the lair always moving. I’d get caught in about eleven days because drugs destroyed my short-term memory, so I’d accidentally leave some supervillainous supplies, say a bone saw, by the bedside table in the roach motel. And my sobriquet would be Damn Handsome.
2. What is the most annoying thing in the world? Why? Now, make a convincing case for why it’s not annoying at all.
I have some potent opinions about melon. Honeydew is fucking awful. That pale green color, some dollar-store cantaloupe. Whenever I eat a fruit cup, my blood pressure goes up ten points with every piece of honeydew I have to spear and fling across the room. And yet if I had to make the case for its merits, well, we need honeydew because it reminds us of this existential truth: don’t swallow things you hate in this life. See? Honeydew is a philosopher.
3. Please solve this equation using only sentences:
Dragon + Fedora – Theory of Relativity = (Beijing x Slinky)/(Bullwinkle + Gold)
Ah, yes. I remember this equation from the Good Will Hunting deleted scenes. In it, our hero, a mathematical genius, apple-loving janitor, almost loses his mind diving into the complexities of this Hipster Math (anything with a Fedora Component nestles nicely in the subgenre of Hipster Math). When the genius-janitor finally figures out how to balance the arcane equation, everybody in the greater Boston area gets a free Dunkin’ Donut.
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.
Did you know that Starry Night was the view out of Van Gogh’s mental hospital window? I’ve always loved that fact. The painting is beautiful objectively but learning of its subjective beauty—the kinetic suffering that produced the painting—to me, that’s what making art is all about. A few years later, Van Gogh started a garage band with Lou Reed and Mia Zapata. They cut a record where every song sounds like the view from mental hospital windows.
5. It’s 2040 and the world has changed. Most notably, in 2023, djinni were discovered to be real. A decade-long techno-magical arms race ensued, leading to the development of various djinni-location and -capture techno-magicologies. Predictably, Jeff Bezos used his vast fortune tocorner the market on said techno-magicologies. Once Bezos located and captured every djinni everywhere, he imprisoned them in an unbreachable fortress hidden at the center of the Earth. (OK, it’s not hidden very well but it is, in fact, completely unbreachable.) Forcing his captive army of djinn to crank out wishes day and night, Bezos has completely cornered the market on wishes. But he’s not selling them. That’s right, Jeff Bezos is giving wishes away, as long as you fulfill a few modest requirements first. All aspiring wish recipients are expected to serve ten years in the Bezos organization beginning with a tour in the Bezos gladiatorial pits beneath Amazon corporate HQ. There, wish-aspirants fight robots for the right to work as unpaid interns in Amazon warehouses. Assuming you kill enough robots to qualify for warehouse duty and make it through the intervening decade of servitude—and, let me tell you, the robot gladiators were the least of your concerns, sister—you get a wish. Just one. What do you wish for? (Do I need to tell you to be careful with this?) Also, feel free to opine on the scenario in general. After all, it’ll be your reality soon enough. You should have some input!
It is always a blood sport in the Amazon warehouse! I’d make a wish that my new novel, FARSICKNESS, was secretly hidden inside other products, like some kind of Capitalism Trojan Horse. Did you buy a waffle iron that also tells the future, a crate of customized toilet paper featuring the face of your most profound enemy, seven gallons of high-heat salsa that doubles as a weight loss drug, an AR-15 with a bejeweled barrel, an iPad that requires a DNA sample to unlock its features? If you are/were lucky enough to acquire such important products through Amazon, you unfortunately must read one of my shitty books. Sorry.
The novel is just as crazy as this interview. Pure surrealism. A picaresque road trip story into the human soul. If I did my job right, it reads like the Guardians of the Galaxy are off their meds.
The book is also illustrated by my nine-year-old daughter, Ava, and making art with her was the most meaningful experience in my entire creative life. Plus, I’ve been teaching her to box since she was six, so she’ll have my back with any sneaky Amazon robots.
6. Obsidian toast: Please discuss.
I lost several teeth to my obsidian toast fetish. I started with the full number of chompers and now have only nine teeth remaining. It’s okay. It was worth it. We need, in this life, to have Purpose, to be passionately called to participate and inspire our fellow travelers. Like a nine-toothed preacher, I will continue to spread the gospel about obsidian toast. And hey, if you buy your obsidian toast through Amazon, maybe you’ll get a copy of FARSICKNESS.
Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus, which The New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” He’s also written Some Things that Meant the World to Me, one of O Magazine’s 10 Terrific reads of 2009, and All This Life, winner of the Northern California Book Award. Termite Parade was an editor’s choice on The New York Times Best Seller List. His memoir, Model Citizen was an Amazon Editors’ Pick. In his Hollywood life, he’s sold projects to AMC, ITV, and Amblin Entertainment.
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.