Hot Seat

It is dangerous to let the public behind the scenes. They are easily disillusioned and then they are angry with you, for it was the illusion they loved.

~ W. Somerset Maugham

Back in late February, A Free Man started a little Q&A meme among his readers, a hot seat forum meant to get us reading other blogs and “meeting” new faces. I signed up to take part, albeit a little later than most, and found out my questions were to come from Rassles, list maker extraordinaire and possessor of more than enough wit to commandeer any conversation. She’s a firecracker – a smart-as-hell firecracker – and I started getting nervous. She is cool. I am so NOT. There is no way I will be able to keep up with her, I feared.

But, as I said, she’s smart. The total package, that Rassles . . .

Just so you know, this was hard. You’re so open on your blog, and you cover everything, so it was like, seriously? How do I find questions he has not yet answered? I’ve only got eight of these, but I have a feeling you can make it work.

I’ll give it a shot, my dear.

You’re a big fan of Life of Pi. Which truth is correct? (Sub-question: in your mind, is correctness interpretable?)

(SPOILER ALERT!  If you haven’t yet read Life of Pi and intend to do so, you may want to skip to the next question . . .)

There are several levels to this question.

If you’re referring to the final chapters, where the tale presented earlier in the book is called into question, it seems obvious that the version of the story sans Richard Parker is the accurate retelling of the events. But in this case, the truth, if you will, is much less interesting than the story. As Pi says, “So it goes with God.” For some, God resides in the punctuation marks they liberally sprinkled throughout most any sentence, be it joyous, horrific, or mundane. When seen as what German-American theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher Paul Tillich termed our “ultimate concern,” faith is the yeast that makes the bread rise. Not dogma.

Which leads to another level: Of all the religious traditions Pi simultaneously embraces in the beginning of the novel, is there one that is truer than the others? For Pi, absolutely not. Each spiritual leader meets Pi at his level and extends to him what their brand of religion has to offer. But Pi isn’t looking for belief, he’s looking for faith. And in the context of the novel, it is his exploration of the many facets of faith that helps him endure his time lost at sea. These facets blend together and become the Grand Storyteller of his adventure, providing him with, as author Yann Martel said in an interview once, “a way of viewing the universe in which things make sense.”

In Life of Pi, correctness is interpretable only if you choose a side: Is truth found in the facts, or in the telling of the tale? Being fiction, our choice matters very little. But in life? Oh my . . . don’t get me started. I’ve wrestled with this for years, and there’s no three-count in sight . . .

Assuming you have a favorite bar, let’s say you just pulled up a chair. Several minutes later after you’re properly situated, the door opens, and six strangers enter: a priest, a rabbi, an imam, a Brahmin, a politician, and me. Eventually, the seven of us are all enjoying the refreshing beverages of our choice. What are we drinking?

Let’s do Henry’s. It’s just west of downtown along a relatively quiet street, and its interior is lined with high back, wooden booths and moody chandeliers. There is no karaoke, no jukebox, and no pool tables. The food is off the hook, and it doesn’t get too crazy. Henry’s is the ideal spot for some engaging dialogue. A friend of mine, however, swears it’s a “gay” bar. Honestly, I’ve never noticed, and he’s a bit hypersensitive about that sort of thing. Also, I don’t generally go there just to hang out; we would have arranged in advance to meet up, so I arrive early and get us a good table. I take the liberty of ordering the first round . . . Sex on the Beach for everyone! If you don’t like fruity drinks, then I’ll be happy to finish yours. After that, I’ll sip a Foster’s or Blue Moon, or maybe a Smirnoff Ice, and let everyone order on their own from there . . .

Sex on the Beach

1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz peach schnapps
2 oz cranberry juice
2 oz orange juice

Eighties Metal: Hair Versus Heavy, or: Which of the preceding attributes would you choose to epitomize the rock of your youth?

Hair, hands down. And while I like to think I’ve matured beyond all that, there’s just something very comforting about listening to my local station’s Mandatory Mullet . . .

Dude, you’re totally metal. Right?

I like it loud, but I’m not necessarily into all the growling that seems to be a dominate feature of “metal” these days. A while ago, on a whim, I picked up a copy of a Headbangers Ball CD, just to see what I’d been missing lately, and came to the sad realization that I just can’t get into quite a few of those bands for any significant length of time. I prefer a singer who can hold his own melodically without resorting to screaming, and guys like James LaBrie of Dream Theater still do it for me. But there is a time for screaming; Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour does it well and can say something relevant at the same time. Another favorite growler/singer is Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth; before I saw them live, I never would have guessed they had only one lead singer. If you’re familiar with any of these bands, then you can tell I tend to lean toward the progressive rock side of things, and there are few bands that turn my crank harder than . . .

Tool – “Vicarious” From the album 10,000 Days.

“Credulous at best, your desire to believe in angels in the hearts of men.” Indeed . . .

You are in a room with four blank walls, no windows, no doors. If a train traveling to St. Ives really really fast and is scheduled to arrive before the egg but after the chicken, what number am I thinking of?


Arkham Horror or Dungeons & Dragons?

If you’re willing to revert back to 3.5, then we can do D&D. But if you insist on 4.0? Then you can stay at home with all your creepy little n00b friends and get your unimaginative freak on with them. At my pad, we’re dishin’ out some hardcore Lovecraftian mayhem . . .

I think, for the record, we all know that you are an incredible writer. Seriously. Incredible. You used to be on the radio (me too, but in college, and the majority of my speaking time was devoted to using “dude” and “like” and “you know.” I had one person who always listened, and that person was me.) Do you speak like you write? If so, I’d be a riveted listener. For the record. But yeah…are you as authentic and attentive?

Like my grandfather before me, I am a notorious eavesdropper. I love to hear people talk. And, while I do love to engage in a good conversation, I often remain quieter than most people prefer. I enjoy picking up on nuances and subtle undertones in what people say, as expressed in how they say it. This, of course, can lead to trouble, for I tend to read too much into words. So, when I do chime in, it is often an attempt to seek clarification. My big mouth knows the taste of foot, so I’m learning to be still and listen more. And, believe it or not, writing is difficult for me. I like to express myself clearly, cover all the angles that interest me about a particular topic, and anticipate and address objections before they can get blown out of proportion. To do this, I use more words than many find necessary. See? Like that . . .

As far as radio goes, I was never a puker. You know, the one who gets on the mic and sounds all better than you? With the perfect arena announcer voice? While I articulated well, I tended to talk too fast, which more than once brought on a situation where my body had to force me to stop talking and take a breath, creating an awkward, mid-word silence. Like a hiccup, but not as painful. And over a weather bed? Ugh! But at least I sounded like the guy next door, someone you could relate to. That’s how I try to communicate when I speak. Riveting? Nah. And the older I get, the quieter I talk. I used to be able to talk over anyone. Now, I’m much calmer. I try to say something whereby meaning and weight is granted based on content and not on volume level. Maybe that’s why I enjoy Henry’s so much . . .

The best blogs to read are the ones written by fascinating individuals, regardless of how mundane they may feel. You’re up near the top of the hierarchy, I think. I want to turn this into a question, and I can’t figure out how. Will you please do that for me?

Do I consider myself a fascinating individual? Not really. I wear Guitar Hero pajamas, cook pancakes for breakfast on weekends, and can read Rolling Stone and The Philosopher’s Magazine in one sitting. I spend way too much time sweating over the details and not enough time searching deeply for the broader horizon; I possess a plethora of dots, but make no sincere, intellectual effort to connect them. My shoes are Vans and my car is a 1986 Honda Prelude. I have very few real friends, people with whom I can just hang out and be myself, warts and all. In life, I am the guy standing next to Drew Carey, overwhelmed by the game, searching for an answer somewhere in the crowd, incapable of picking a damn number.

So I blog. I hash stuff out in this forum. It’s generally quiet where I write, and I like that. As I’ve skimmed the surface of Blogland for the past year or so, I find that the people I enjoy reading don’t have an answer. But they are looking . . .

As for you, dear Rassles, I’m still waiting for you to come and escort me to the Creation Museum. I’m free most Fridays . . .

[photo credit]


19 thoughts on “Hot Seat

  1. they make guitar hero pajamas?

  2. Heck yeah! If you have a pajama day over at the Gimcrack, I might feel led to post a photo, however unflattering it might be . . .

  3. For some reason, I have been avoiding Life of Pi. I just ordered it on my Kindle, so I will come back and read this post when I have a frame of reference. BUT…Rassles rocks my world on a regular basis, as do you, so I suddenly have high hopes for the book.

    1. I updated the post to include a SPOILER ALERT for those of you who may still want to read Life of Pi. Only the first question is about the novel . . .

  4. I’m pretty sure I saw manly guitar hero pj’s at the target last time I was there. That Rassles is right on with every compliment she gave you, clever gal.

  5. Excellent answers, sir! It’s funny, because I wrote your answers in my head, and then thought, “There is no way he’s going to respond that way. He’s going to pull up and completely surprise the crap out of me.”

    Excellent, man. Love it.

    I’ll have a PBR. And as far as the Creation Museum goes, well…I’ve gotta take another random day off eventually.

  6. Man, how much did I love this??? (A lot.)

    “In life, I am the guy standing next to Drew Carey, overwhelmed by the game, searching for an answer somewhere in the crowd, incapable of picking a damn number.” Good gravy, that’s perfect.

  7. “Do I consider myself a fascinating individual? Not really.”

    Well I consider you fascinating, and I’m the one who reads your blog. It’s far better this way round than vice versa, but you sell yourself short sir.

  8. GAWD! Rassles and TCOG in one sitting. I’m not going to be right for a week. Love it!

  9. I love Tool. Thanks for putting that song up there. 🙂

  10. I read Pi the year I was heavily medicated. I gotta go back and re-read that sucker. All I remember is the tiger and the boat and saying WTF when I was done.

  11. Hey – very nice work you two. Of course, I would have expected nothing less. Of course I don’t know what the hell y’all are talking about half the time, but I don’t know what most people are talking about half the time.

  12. Great questions.I’m jealous I didn’t think of them, I’m envious they were not asked of me. Great answers, and I am inspired to reread Life of Pi again. I read it when it first came out and I remember a great deal but I could probably get a lot more out of a second read.

  13. Fantastic job, the both of you! I did learn more about you, I would never have guessed you’re a quiet one. You don’t seem hot-headed or “loud”, but definitely not calm and quiet, either.
    Rassles is so right, you have serious talent with your pen/keyboard. Cultivate that, dude.

  14. a Fosters for you, a Fosters for me …

    CHEERS me ole mate!!!

  15. Funny, I totally think of you as one who gazes often at the broader horizon. While drinking a sex on the beach.

  16. ….I possess a plethora of dots, but make no sincere, intellectual effort to connect them…..

    I think you just described me.

  17. OK, not only was this very cool to read your answers, but Rassles’ questions were AMAZING. As a journalist, I often find myself trapped in the lame old cliche questions when I’m interviewing sources — I think I need to take a class from Rassles.

    Well done.

  18. Can I get a St. Pete’s? I skipped the Life of Pi parts because I may perhaps read it someday. Excellent answers, tysdaddy, I now feel enlightened.

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