Ha ha, no, seriously, I do have all day, but I'm still not posting the rules again.
Describe the most redeeming aspect of living in Texas (apart from your job).
Oy. This isn't easy, because I really, really don't like Texas very much at all. I'm making a hell of an effort – I'm trying to learn about the region's history and find out about good spots, restaurants, that kind of stuff, but honestly, the only good thing about living here is that on weekends I can drive up to Austin. Politically, meteorologically, historically, and culturally, this isn't really my kinda town. I guess it's nice to see a lot of Spanish place names, but that's really all I got.
I don't believe we've discussed books. Give me an indication of your taste in genre and authors, and tell me a bit about why you like them.
Oddly enough for such a comic book geek, I'm not much for genre fiction; I don't really care for a lot of sci-fi or fantasy, and while I dig the occasional crime novel, it's the stuff that teeters on the edge of high literature (especially Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson and James Ellroy) rather than flat-out genre material. I tend to really favor the postmodernists, the guys who have taken up the gauntlet thrown down by Joyce to put the whole world in their books and take them in new directions, and I also probably favor the play of language and the conveyance of powerful emotional states over stuff like narrative and flow. A few of my favorites (aside from the obvious Joyce) and why I like them: Pynchon, for his restless curiosity and playfulness and gorgeous sentences; Gaddis, for his incredible wit and erudition and the dreadful knowledge that comes from reading him; DeLillo, the postmodernist's postmodernist, the guy who delivers on the promise of the style; Calvino, probably the most inventive formalist outside of Perec, and certainly the most consistent; and Faulkner, the certified homegrown genius who straddled the line between traditional storytelling and experimentalism.
If you had to condense what Chicago means to you into one building or venue in the city, what would it be? Why?
Man, that's tough. There's so many places that are so uniquely Chicago to me. Predictable as this might be, though, I'm gonna have to say White Sox Park. It combines a lot of elements that spell Chicago – the high percentage of working-class fans, the great local food, the chance to hear tons of that distinctively harsh Chicago accent, the inferiority complex of not being New York or L.A., the sense of history – plus, since it's on the South Side, it gives you a glimpse of neighborhoods you never see if you're a northsider. It was one of the very first places I went when I moved to Chic, and I couldn't believe I was really there; I went to White Sox Opening Day every year I lived there, even when I was broke as shit. There's nothing that tells me where I really am than a trip to the White Sox ballyard.
When you're alone, And life is making you lonely, what is the food that gives you the most comfort?
Sausages, no doubt. I'm with Hot Doug on this one: there are no finer words in the English language than "encased meats", my friend.
Tell me who your favorite baseball player is, and why.
Oddly enough, given that I was a pitcher when I played ball and I tend to favor pitchers a lot more than hitters, it's Frank Thomas. His period with the White Sox almost exactly coincided with my time in Chicago (though he was a few years ahead of me), and I got to see him at the peak of his game. He's still the greatest offensive player I've ever seen, an incredibly great hitter who, during his most productive years, put up numbers that place him in the all-time elite. He should be a fucking lock for the Hall, and no matter how rancorous or sour his departure from the Sox was, he's the best non-pitching player I ever saw, and he played for my team.
I'm sure it'll pain you, but find something nice to say about San Antonio.
It's only an hour's drive from Austin.
Leaving out Chicago, where else would you be willing to move someday?
Hmmmm. New York, maybe. Paris. Maybe London or Dublin. Possibly San Francisco. L.A.'s not entirely out of the question, though it currently has some bad associations for me and I wasn't crazy about it when I lived there last. I'd have to have some kinda job in the industry to go there.
Which failed presidential candidate of the past century do you think would've made the best president?
A very interesting question. I'd love to have seen what would have happened if one of the early-20th century Socialist or Progressive candidates would have won; the times weren't right for Norman Thomas, and LaFollette might have proved too divisive in the 1920s boomtime, but I really think things might have turned out well if Eugene Debs had won in 1908. But if we exclude these third-party no-chancers, I'd say it's a tight race between Gore 2000 and George McGovern in 1972. Forced to choose, I'd say the latter would have made the best president; he was really bright, a solid political reformer with the ability to compromise without selling out his liberal populism, and a guy who could have completely changed the social and economic tenor of the 1970s if he'd have beaten Nixon.
List five albums you're enjoying the hell out of right now.
Mayhem's "U.S. Legions"; Frog Eyes' "Tears of the Valedictorian"; the DaKah Hip-Hop Orchestra's "Unfinished Symphony"; the Eternals' "Heavy International"; and Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil".
What is your stance on Ethiopian cuisine?
Firmly pro-. It took me a while to get used to it, but I love the spongy, tart bread and the creative use of sauces. I wish there was a place down here remotely as good as Ethiopian Jewel, but I don't even know if there's a single African restaurant in SA of any kind.
Say something nice about San Antonio.
Vinyl, CD or MP3?
MP3. I'm no audiophile or format fetishist, and mp3s allow me to have 35,000 songs in easy reach while taking up no physical space whatsoever. I enjoy decorating with vinyl, though.
Is the Anna Nichole Smith story a tragedy of our times or what?
What. You could make a pretty good argument that our obsession with the Anna Nicole Smith story is a tragedy of our times, though.
Dane Cook - why?
Because the role of Pauly Shore was already taken.
Do the words "Fox News Slash Fiction" fill you with inspiration or nausea?
They fill me with a revolting fascination, much as does FOX News itself.
If you weren't writing for a living, what would you do?
Well, I don't really write for a living now. Freelancing is a bigger chunk of my income than it ever has been, but I still work a day job to keep the regular money flowing in. If I wasn't writing at all, I'd hopefully do the same job I have now: working as an editor/proofer/project coordinator for Yellow Rectangular Border Publishing, or some other publishing job, because I dig it. Failing that, I'd do what I always have done: get some shitty low-grade office or manufacturing gig that makes few demands.
Who is your favorite LJ person and your least favorite LJ person (people you've met in person count also)?
Man, you must be out your chump if you think I'm gonna answer this one.
Who is the crappiest musician or band of the last 20 years?
Wow, that's an incredibly tall order. There have been so, so many. I suppose I'd have to place the blame on the guy most responsible for the fostering and generation of the kind of music I really, really hate, and that would be Mr. Fred Durst, the man who took metal and hip-hop, ruined them both forever, and encouraged and abetted thousands of other people in doing the same. Plus, he's a total douchebag of a human being with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Conor Oberst is pretty loathsome for what he's done and what he means, but he's nowhere near as detestable and all-around poisonous as Fred Durst.
Last weekend, while Dor and Quiggles were in stores with ladies mentionables and unmentionables, I went to a comic book store and saw that Marvel has resurrected the Heroes for Hire with over-busty Misty Knight (with a ginormous fro) among others. Why does Marvel suck and when did they fall off the cliff? (I was okay with Marvel in 1990, though Wonder Man was unpalatable)
See, that's a hard question to answer, because I don't really have a horse in the Marvel vs. DC wars; I think DC does all-around better work, but that's more of a function of the talent they've managed to place on their books than any kind of grand editorial strategy. And Marvel does put out some great stuff these days; anything by Dan Slott is worth reading, Ed Brubaker isn't great but he can do fine work, and J. Michael Straczynski is probably their best man right now. Insofar as they do suck – and believe me, they do – it's for three major reasons: first, their big "event" comics are almost always terrible. Not to say DC's are great, but Marvel's tend to suck in a way that DC's just can't aspire to. And this is fed by reason #2: Marvel's most popular writers, the ones they hand the big books to, tend to range from overrated to bad. DC's best guys right now are guys like Giffen, Morrison, Cooke, Azzarello and Rucka, who are just generally better than Marvel's best at the moment, so you end up having the prestige books at Marvel handled by the talented but in way over his head Brian Michael Bendis or the howlingly mediocre Mark Millar. Third, Marvel has been handled by a string of total shitheads for over a decade, and they made a ton of crappy decisions, like the one in the early 2000s to cater to the child-porn demographic and the one in the mid-1990s to make their straightforward continuity – one of the big advantages they had over DC – about a million times more complex and incomprehensible. There! That was a long boring stupid answer.
Politically, will the US media ever, well, right itself? I say this being under the opinion that the media was fairly centrist before the wingnuts started whooping and hollerin'; and I am scared that all of our affairs will be polarizing, politicized yell-fests. Will our next president tamp out some of the extremist flames within our country's media?
Nah, I doubt it. The press has basically subsumed itself to the entertainment media, and now think of themselves largely as celebrity interviewers. Ever since Reagan, they've really failed to make themselves into any kind of oppositional or investigative force against the government for fear of losing access, and recently, they've proved absurdly susceptible to being mau-maued by any dingbat Scaife minion who wants to accuse them of liberal bias. Even now, with the GOP out of power everywhere but the White House, there's still bullshit like the Amanda Marcotte deal. So get used to getting your real news from European papers for the duration.
Robert Johnson and Son House get in an argument over a woman in a juke joint. There's a knife fight. Who survives and does Eric Clapton write a song about the fight or the woman?
Son House wins, because Johnson is a doomed figure Clapton cribs someone else's song, rewrites the lyrics to make them about how sad he is, and passes it off as his own.
True or False, Beck has made his entire career out of parodying the Beatles song I am the Walrus. Defend your answer.
False. In fact, Beck has made his entire career out of making loppy pastiches of whatever he happens to be listening to at the time. Usually, when people describe postmodern art as nothing but a chaotic jumble of a bunch of stuff they've already seen before in other contexts, they're totally full of shit, but that's pretty much exactly what Beck does. Which is not to say that he's not often enjoyable; he's just basically a very efficient, energetic musical food processor.
Do you start with an outline, or do you do a rough and fast first draft and then multiple rewrites?
Definitely the latter. I suck at outlines. I occasionally use one, especially for long-form fiction or freelance trade work that needs to adhere to a particularly rigorous structure, but I find it's a lot easier for me to just crank out a first draft, rearrange it so it has more sense and flow, and hit the rewrite.
Who is the baddest motherfucker on film?
I'm tempted to declare this to be a three-way tie between Terence Stamp in The Limey, Jet Li in Fist of Legend and Stacey Keach in The Ninth Configuration. However, I'm gonna have to hand it to Stamp, because he was also General Zod.
Do you believe there's any salvation for the No Child Left Behind act?
No way. It was doomed from the start when they left it woefully underfunded, and it's only gotten worse as flaws in the actual testing system itself are exposed. There's a crying need for school reform, but NCLB ain't it, not by a longshot.