Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The R.A.Q. 2019!

It's my birthday! And I'm celebrating by answering your questions.

But not just any old questions. These are the questions you never asked. They're Frequently Asked Questions. They're Rarely Asked Questions.

Let's see how this goes. Thanks for asking!

Caroline Yoachim asked, “If you were designing a theme park ride based on one or more horror movies, what would it be? “

I'm a sucker for the 80's Slashers. It'd be fun to make a ride where you are pursued by Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Candyman, Ghostface, etc., and it "breaks down" at certain points to spook you with the Slashers catching up. Towards the end it can go through an idyllic suburban neighborhood only for Freddy to appear in a window and do some spooky reality-warping weirdness with projectors.

Anne Leonard asked: If a Warg eats a hobbit carrying the Ring, does the Warg turn invisible?

Only if the ring snags on a polyp somewhere in the Warg’s innards.

Jamie Graham asked, “The world's last breeding pair of blue-eyed ground doves is held captive by dastardly Onvenientcay Illainvay, who wishes to roast them with porcini and crushed clementines to serve his cabal of doomsday foodies. You've got to stop him! Who's on your team? Choose one historical figure, one fictional figure, and one real-life friend.”

The historical figure Gordon Ramsey will infiltrate the kitchen of the enemy bird-cooks and distract them with his whiny man-child critiques. Meanwhile, I’ll inform fictional figure Hannibal Lecter that the boors are serving this nigh-extinct bird, ensuring that they’ll all wind up the main course instead. Not being a cannibal myself, I’ll take the doves out for pizza with my buddy Jamie Graham. It’s the perfect crime.

Jamie Graham also asked, “What are two or three lines from things you've read in the last year that still stick out to you?”

In T.J. Berry’s Space Unicorn Blues, “Humans were never more persistent than when they were in the wrong.”

In Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire, “Histories are always worse by the time they get written down.”

Casey Blair asked, “What is your personal favorite pun? >=)”

Deep in the runtime of Beavis and Butthead Do America, the boys visit the Hoover Dam. They join a tour and learn about the giant dam. At the end of the tour, the guide asks if anyone has questions. Beavis asks, "Is this a God dam?"

Powdered Toast Man asked, “If you could add a letter to the English Alphabet, what would it sound like and what letters would it be between?”

I’m a big fan of the Chinese consonant “Zh.” The ‘s’ in “treasure” is pronounced like a proper ‘zh,’ as is the ‘s’ in “ususal.” It’s a rolling ‘z’ sound that deserved a proper letter in the alphabet. It’s also really fun to say.

Cass Williams asked, “How do you think werewolf dynamics would work on a planet with 3 moons?”

Extremely similar, but with much more frustration superstitions about their menstrual cycles.

Cass Williams also asked, “Which comic book villain would you most like to star in a buddy road trip movie with? Who gets to pick the music? Who's in charge of snacks?”

I have the feeling that Krang and I would get along, especially if he was stranded with me in the car and didn’t have his giant android body.  After two Snickers, I bet he’d cool it with the “CONQUER THE WORLD” nonsense and be arguing with podcasts. We’d explore the world of music together.

Spencer Ellsworth asked, “Who edited and agented the book of love and what was the advance?”

It was edited and agented by parents who were ruthlessly pushy about getting grandchildren. The advance was congenital.

Alex J. Cavanaugh asked, “How many concerts have you seen?”

Because of some hearing problems, I’ve avoided concerts for most of my life. I did attend a friend’s band’s “concert” at the bar at our college, although I had earplugs in the whole time.

Ellen Joyce asked, “If you could live the life of a criminal, any criminal, through perfectly harmless enhanced virtual reality, which criminal would you choose, and why?”

I would be the head of a major international bank (which I won’t disclose), with access and frequent oversight over the accounts of several major international figures (whom I won’t disclose). Such figures always break the law, and my fantasy would be just choosing the follow the law for once. Whenever I wanted, I’d go into the game and reveal one random thread to the press and law enforcement, just to see it play out, like The Sims except about evil billionaires whose lives you can ruin through save scumming.

Elephant's Child asked, “What question should never, ever be asked?”
What does Mom taste like?

Shammickite asked, “So many people say "it's not rocket science" but do YOU think it IS rocket science? or not? and why not? or why......”

It totally is rocket science, and the people who think it isn’t haven’t tried rocket science. Launching a rocket is ridiculously hard! And it’s almost unfathomably difficult to get the rocket to land where you planned. I can’t even reliably make a paper airplane – and that’s not rocket science.

ChaosMidge asked, “If you could replace every plastic flamingo in the world with Something Else, what would you pick?”

Solar panels that are shaped exactly like plastic flamingos. They keep their aesthetic, and their electric bills go down. Save the planet, plastic birds.

ChaosMidge also asked, “What is the sweetest air you have ever breathed?”

It’s a tie between the hundreds of times I’ve finally aired out my room after a depressive spell. Air gets so stagnant and funked when your brain is too broken to tidy the place up. It turns out the outdoors can help!

Marissa Lingen asked, “Okay I want to talk about kaiju some more, John. What animal has not had a major kaiju based on it that should? And what city should it stomp around destroying? This is probably a thing you get asked frequently. But NOT FREQUENTLY ENOUGH.”

I am not asked this nearly as often as I should be! It’s a lamentably rare question.
One fine kaiju would be a swarm of flying piranhas that always swam into the shape of a giant piranha. They’d be ever-so-hungry for human flesh. Some scientist would announce, “Don’t worry! Piranhas don’t eat human flesh ravenously! That’s a myth—AHHHH THEY’RE EATING ME!” Because this is a piranha kaiju, and piranha kaiju hate fact-checkers.

Shell S. asked, “Imagine NASA held a lottery to name a planet whose orbit was so huge it was only just discovered, and you won! What do you name this planet (and is your name a reference to something real or fictional)?”

Boaty McBoatface.

Shell S. also asked, “Imagine you were offered the chance to completely map your consciousness and personality and memories and upload them onto a server so you could experience an online "afterlife." Under what conditions and circumstances do you agree to do this, AND under what conditions and circumstances would you absolutely refuse?”

What are green lights? If I get to jump between cool bodies. Maybe I’ll be a robot dog for a week. Then I’ll be a jetski. Then I’ll be a horrible kaiju they should’ve known better than to let loose on the world!

The first dealbreaker is who gets the intellectual rights to my digital self. If Disney or Nestle wants it, no way, I’ll just take whatever ambiguous afterlife package the universe has for me. Similarly if my mental save state was going to be used for manual and non-consensual labor, I wouldn’t condemn them to that.


  1. What does mom taste like is the winner!
    I have hearing problems now (thanks to the hundreds of concerts I've been to) so avoiding them is probably a good idea.

  2. I hope your birthday is a happy one! Best interview I've read all year, thanks for sharing! I especially liked your Jamie Graham questions and answers. XD ~Shell S.

  3. A very happy birthday to you and your mind. I hope they play nicely together. And loved the questions and your answers. My mother? Without question she tasted of wine, of cigarettes, and of resentment with a tiny dash of guilt.

  4. Happy VERY belated birthday, John!

    Yes, histories can get worse by the time they're recorded and sometimes unfortunately, they might get recorded without really telling the whole story.

  5. Wanted to tell you that you are an amazing writer...In the process of reading everything I can sink my mind into.


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