Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve

Jacob Marley rattling his chains. Phoebe Cates in Gremlins, telling her story about dad dressed as Santa, breaking his neck and dying in the chimney. Jack Skellington kidnapping Santa and delivering shrunken heads to kids. Tis the season.

Actually, I love Christmas. And you can get too irreverent. Christmas slasher movies are way out of line, for instance. That's sick. So is "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." Sick.

I don't have much to give. So here's my version of fruit cake: links to a couple interviews I did recently, or not so recently. Just thought you might like a good eye-roll.

Here's one from Chris Well's website, Learning Curve.

Here's another with Sandra Ruttan's wonderful magazine Spinetingler, JB Thompson interviewing.

This one isn't online, but it's a Proust Questionairre I filled out for my English Department's graduate student newsletter, Codeswitching.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I’m not particularly interested in happiness, and the perfection of it seems frightful.

What is your greatest fear?
Death, of course, though not necessarily mine. Okay, mine.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Edvard Munch.

Which living person do you most admire?
I would’ve said Ingmar Bergman, but he died in July.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Waiting vainly for artistic inspiration to strike.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Predictably, books. I have entombed myself with stacks of them. Please call for help.

What is your favorite journey?
Physical or metaphysical? Through Prague and through Melancholy, respectively.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Which living person do you most despise?
Kirstie Alley.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Acoustic guitar playing, or oil painting.

What is your current state of mind?
Quiet desperation, current and perpetual.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
Skeletal remains.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
Well, it’d be nice to try this particular life over again, with complete foreknowledge. Starting from scratch would be too daunting—plus, can self and consciousness be transferred from one entity to another? Would I still be me if I wasn’t who I am?

What is your favorite occupation?
Benevolent dictator. No, I’m kidding. Tyrannical dictator. Did I say dictator? I mean “director,” as in movies.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Timid iconoclasm, enacted half-heartedly, merely for the sake of Devil’s advocacy.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

To quote the Eels, “I like a girl with a dirty mouth, someone that I can believe.”

What do you most value in your friends?
Healthy organs for potential emergency donation. If not that, then intellect.

Who are your favorite writers?
Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Hardy, Joyce Carol Oates, Cormac McCarthy, James Ellroy, Denis Johnson, Franz Kafka, Toni Morrison, John Berryman, Philip Larkin, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, Raymond Chandler, Dave Goodis, Dashiell Hammett, Charlie Kaufman.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Jude Fawley, of Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. You asked.

Who are your heroes in real life?
See the above list of authors, and include these film directors: Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, John Cassavetes, Lars Von Trier, Carl Th Dreyer, David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino. Musicians: Stuart Murdoch (Belle and Sebastian), Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Sufjan Stevens, all the guys in Sigur Ros, Ian Curtis (Joy Division), Robert Smith (The Cure), Radiohead. This list has probably annoyed even the most patient reader by now, so I’ll stop. Suffice it to say that none of my heroes are heroic, except maybe Sufjan Stevens. How disappointing.

What is it that you most dislike?
Kitsch without self-consciousness, blind optimism and idealism, pandering, absence of personal accountability, politicians of all types, Kirstie Alley, self-righteous posturing (particularly of the religious stripe), grown adults who still believe in “fairness." Oh, was I only supposed to pick one?

How would you like to die?
Am I placing an order? Because I’d rather not, thank you. I’ll tell you how I’d rather not die, but you only have so much column space.

What is your motto?
It used to be a quote from Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, “You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.” But there are undesirable implications to quoting H.H. So now it’s from the Scottish indie band Belle and Sebastian: “I’m not as sad as Dostoyevsky/ I’m not as clever as Mark Twain.” For the record, I only have a motto because my MySpace page requires me to have one. I mean, who goes around with his own motto?


Craig said...

Tis the season for Phoebe Cates' story in Gremlins. Also, I see why you criticized my cashew obsession now...have to keep those donor organs healthy.

Derek Nikitas said...

Just keep the liver healthy, Craig. If I'm going to need anything, it'll be that. Shame that you only have the one, though. Tough luck for you.

profkemp said...

That interview made me so happy at a time when everything was pure crap. Thanks for being real. It's a dying art.