20 Questions: David Thorne

Note: Permission to republish Thorne’s spider image (somewhat doctored from the book cover, as found on was neither requested nor secured, and no copyright symbol was, or ever will be, applied.

Humorist and Satirist David Thorne’s book, The Internet is a Playground, published in April. Finally, he gets his biggest break, his surefire launch to celebritydom, here on PopMatters 20 Questions. (The royalty check is in the mail, David.)

The Internet Is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius

Publisher: Penguin
Length: 368 pages
Author: David Thorne
Price: $14.95
Format: Paperback
Publication date: 2011-04

Read the review of The Internet Is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius.

David Thorne is an Australian, and like most Australians, it’s rather redundant to say he’s also a humorist and satirist. If you’ve ever met an Australian, you know what we mean. He’s also an Internet personality and now an (ahem) published author, kinda like everyone who’s every typed a comment on the internet is a ‘published author’ (you know who you are, you clever commenters, you). Only better. Not every blogging ranter or website commenter has been featured on the BBC, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien and best of all, You Tube, for heaven’s sake (see his interview with Oprah Winfrey, below). So David Thorne has a leg-up on all the rest of us less gifted, non-Australian, internet commenting and blogging schlubs.

His book, The Internet is a Playground, a collection of the aforementioned humor and satire drawn from his site, 27b/6, published in April. (What’s 27b/6 signify? Hint: George Orwell and Terry Gilliam. Figure it out – or just look it up on Wikipedia) Finally, he gets his biggest break, his surefire launch to celebrity-dom, here on PopMatters 20 Questions. (The royalty check is in the mail, David. Meanwhile, dear readers, Help David Thorne Sell More Books Than Justin Beiber, here.)

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The movie version is just as heart wrenching. Also, the movie Nanny McPhee, for some reason. The bit at the end where the scullery maid's wedding dress materializes out of snow does it to me every time and is an often mentioned source of amusement for my offspring.

2. The fictional character most like you?

Probably the robot from the animated film The Iron Giant, as I am fairly tall and when I get angry, huge weapons emerge from my torso and lasers come out of my eyes. Or the guy from that movie about boats. Or Aquaman. I pretty much fight underwater crime just as much as the next person.

3.The greatest album, ever?

Linkin Park's Reanimation closely followed by a tie between the Sisters of Mercy's Vision Thing and Pop Will Eat Itself's Cure for Sanity. I like a lot of bass. I was lucky enough to see PWEI play live before they disbanded. Sitting on top of a three-metre speaker with another behind me, the bass hit me so hard I had to hold on to prevent being pushed off. The next day, my back was one large purple bruise and I spent two days in hospital. Best concert I have ever attended.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

I am a huge fan of science fiction. If it has spaceships, robots, time travel or Kevin Costner with gills, I am watching it. I actually own a Star Trek uniform and wear it around the house, out shopping and occasionally to work. It allows me to answer "Make it so" to all questions with context. I would appear ridiculous saying "Make it so" otherwise.

5. Your ideal brain food?

I argue a lot, read books, go for drives and take long showers. I don't actually understand this particular question but I am pretty sure these four answers will cover it. You could probably also add 'self preservation' as I work in the design industry, which is not unlike any other form of cubicle prostitution, and writing is a required distraction from filling out time sheets, making type larger and explaining to clients that animated gifs will not work on business cards.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I argue a lot, read books, go for drives and take long showers.

7. You want to be remembered for ...?

Philanthropic procrastination. A lot of people read what I write while they are at work, so providing a distraction from selling your soul nine to five deserves some form of recognition. A statue like that one of Jesus in Rio would be nice, but it doesn't necessarily have to be that big. One of me swimming or wearing a bear suit.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

I have always enjoyed Terry Gilliam's work, particularly the film Brazil. I grew up reading a lot of science fiction and have been obsessed with British writer John Wyndham since I was about 12. I could probably list about 200 people who I have found inspirational if I wasn't so easily distracted while performing repetitive tasks. Will Ferrell would be somewhere on the list. As would Clint Mansell, Douglas Adams, Spike Milligan...

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

I am going to have to cheat on this question as I can’t decide between Orson Scott Card's sci-fi novel, Ender's Game, or Robert C. O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, so I will choose the Twilight books instead, as Stephanie Meyers has probably made a fair bit of 'walking around' money from that rubbish.

10. Your hidden talents...?

None of my talents are hidden because when I am good at things, I display them every chance I can get. I leave flyers about them on car windows in supermarket car parks. The latest features details about how I make a pretty good Margherita pizza and photos of a wooden bowl I once turned on a lathe. I am also fairly experienced at designing logos, but avoid doing so wherever as possible.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

When I was about ten, a retiring teacher used the quote "If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well" as the closing sentence of his farewell speech to the class. At the time, I found this to be the greatest statement ever made in the history of statements and it had a profound impact. I use this quote regularly to disguise my borderline OCD.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

A small metal model of The Liberator from the science fiction series Blakes 7. I was about ten and captivated by the show. Discovering the model while shopping in Target with my mother, I asked her to purchase it and she refused so I stuck it down the back of my pants. On the ride home, the Liberators front antenna pierced my left buttock but I didn't say anything.

When we arrived home, I buried the ship in the soil outside my bedroom window so that it wouldn't be found by my parents and I would know it was close by. It was my most prized possession for about two years. When we moved house, I tried to locate it but it had rusted away.

Although I have shoplifted thousands of items since then, The Liberator theft is, still to this day, my fondest criminal activity.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or...?

I have never owned an Armani suit as I have no money. I often favor cargos and sneakers, with my favorite brands being Industrie and G-Star, but I actually feel best in pajamas and slippers. Unfortunately, this attire is not what is meant by the term 'casual Friday'. People should be more precise in office memos.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Will Ferrell. After dinner, we would retire to the lobby and he would lay back on a chaise lounge while I feed him grapes and play with his soft, fawn colored, curly hair. If he asked me to dance, I would. I would do anything for Mr. Ferrell.

If there were two chaise lounges parallel to each other, musician Clint Mansell would also get some grapes but the best ones would go to Mr. Ferrell. I would probably also invite my wife, Holly, as I'd never hear the end of it otherwise.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

If I had access to a time machine, I would journey three months forward in time, buy cases of yoghurt with expired 'use by' dates for cheap, then journey back and sell them as fresh for full retail price. With the profits, I would journey forward again and buy more. I could do this thousands of times. It is a flawless plan.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

I don't really get stressed at all and people often describe me as calm, relaxed and on top of things at all times. No, I can't tell you which people. You don't know them.

Sometimes, I run a hot bath and stand there looking at it for several minutes before doing something not boring, instead.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or...?

My personal 'breakfast of champions' consists of a strong coffee and a cigarette. This is followed with a coffee and cigarette in the shower before getting dressed while having a coffee and cigarette.

If I had to survive on an island and could only take five things, three of those things would be a mug, teaspoon and lighter. I would probably need to make it six things, actually, as a kite would come in handy if I got bored.

Plus snacks and a hunting knife. I would take eight things.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

I have lived in Australian capital cities most of my life, but my wife and I are currently living in a forest region of Virginia, US. I miss aspects of living in the city, but not as many as I thought I would. I like squirrels. Sometimes I talk to them and promise that if they speak back to me I will not tell anyone else that they can do so. They haven't yet. I doubt I would be able to keep their secret, anyway, so it is probably for the best.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

I tend to pay as little attention to politics as I can but if we were stuck in an elevator and I had to make small talk, I would probably say I liked their tie or something and ask where they bought it.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

With the new book being released I am being kept fairly busy with interviews and stupid requests from Penguin but I am still managing to find time to write. Having already tried my hand at fiction, I have decided to write a non-fiction novel.

Look for the cover featuring a cyborg cat riding a dolphin in bookstores later this year. I started writing it this week so I should have something to send to my publisher by Tuesday. These things pretty much write themselves, which is handy as I intend to spend the next few days in bed watching television.

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