20 Questions: Venice Is Sinking

[16 April 2009]

By PopMatters Staff

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
There were parts in Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories that really got to me, particularly dealing with plight of the overweight, asthmatic lawyer Theo, who could have easily become a caricature. The empathy and humanity that Atkinson shows Theo (imagine that, an ugly major character!) is well beyond the norm for most fiction, particularly mystery fiction. WALL-E also made me tear up at various points. The beginning is so cute and yet so sad. WALL-E‘s loneliness is palpable. Sure, it’s billed as a kid’s movie, but have you ever seen anything so desolate and bleak in your life?!

2. The fictional character most like you?
Hmmm…probably some buffoonish but lovable motormouth idiot out there. Falstaff? That Scottish guy from Four Weddings and a Funeral who died? Did I just give something away? Spoiler alert!

3. The greatest album, ever?
Oh man, this question is a tough one. I vacillate between any number of albums, including some usual suspects like Pet Sounds and Revolver and stuff, so I’m going to go oddball today and say that it’s Tindersticks’ second self-titled album, which, in its long running time, manages to incorporate spoken word, Serge Gainsbourg-style duets, distorted surf guitars, full orchestras, piano ballads, and a one-mic-recorded dirges without every getting boring once. It’s so overstuffed with dramatic gestures and ambition and well-executed bad ideas that it’s almost gaudy in its grandeur.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
I adore both, so I kinda split the difference here because they’re so different, particularly in their views of the military and society. Star Trek (first two shows and most of the movies) is almost the sci- fi equivalent of the Patrick O’Brien naval books… it’s a series about exploration and discovery complete with big slow ships. Everything’s hermetic and vaguely utopian socialist. Star Wars (original trilogy only here) is grimy and gritty and fast-paced and messy. The ships are rusty and get blown up. It’s a precarious universe, one filled with dangers. One shot will do you in almost anywhere. It’s got some Wild West in there. Anything could go wrong at any second. There’s danger in Star Trek, but it’s much more slow-paced. I have some interesting theories on how Star Wars is an allegory for the American Revolution, if you’d like to hear them. No?

5. Your ideal brain food?
Cheeseburgers. I don’t eat a lot of them anymore, so the thought of a really good burger gets my brain going wild.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
Which accomplishment? Have I achieved anything? What have I been doing with myself? My whole life is a cosmic joke. Thanks, 20 Questions. Thanks a lot.

7. You want to be remembered for…?
This interview right here. And consistent bathing habits.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
To be sure, the work of Nu-Shooz and Sly Fox tower above most others, though I think in the darkest hours of humanity, we can all take comfort in the soothing music of T’Pau.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
I really wish I’d had something to do with lots of movies and TV shows, but The Third Man might be the one I’d like to be known for. It’s not some swing-for-the-fences big statement like Citizen Kane or The Godfather. It’s a studio product through and through, a movie that was an accidental masterpiece. The script was great, the acting was great, the sets were great, Carol Reed’s direction was great, the zither score was great… it all came together, the way it always should but rarely ever does. I’ve never done anything in the movies, so, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind my name being on Biodome.

10. Your hidden talents…?
I’m exceptional at identifying celebrity voiceover talent in commercials.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Ask yourself is this really where you want to be in five years. It wasn’t, so I quit. Simple as that.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
Can anything be better than Super Metroid for the SNES? I bought that. I plead the fifth on the last two.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or…?
I stayed away from designer jeans forever, but I was convinced to try on a pair of Polo jeans once, and they fit so much better than Lees or Levis. I had some Kenneth Cole jeans that were amazing. I really liked them. They were a little thin and tore in the crotch. I also had some Tommy Hilfiger’s I liked. Probably the best thing I own is a tailored Donna Karan suit. That’s my answer. That suit is great.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Graham Greene. He’s one of my favorite authors, and his globetrotting would probably make for some interesting stories. I mean, beyond the ones he fictionalized.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?
I would be just like Old Biff in Back to the Future and go not too far back in time and give myself a Sports Almanac, so I could make tons of money. I’d give some of that money away to charity or something later, of course. I wouldn’t let everything go to pot like Biff did with the Alternate Hill Valley.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
Spa vacation all the way. I like a massage, and I’m distrustful of both hired killers and psychiatric drugs.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?
Honestly, I don’t consider any of these very essential. Maybe in the “or” category put beer?

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
I prefer a small city with easy access to the country. I could live anywhere, but if I’m gonna go cold, I’d probably like for it to be in New England. I like the Southeastern United States, where I am currently located, just fine.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
This list would be immense, and Obama just started the closure of Guantanamo, which was near the top for me, but I would urge us to follow a foreign policy of liberal internationalism with an emphasis on human rights. Also, I would suggest a thorough revamping of our country’s education system. High stakes standardized testing doesn’t work. It’s an anachronism, and it’s just bad science if it’s not being used in a pre-test/post-test format. We need to chart progress, not arbitrary criteria, in our K-12 students.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
I am working on my Masters portfolio, and the band is working on releasing two records in 2009 as well as recording an EP of covers of the Bay Area band Okay. We’ve also been writing new songs that are influenced by reggaeton, but without the whole burning hatred of homosexuals thing.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/73147-20-questions-venice-is-sinking/