When Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein, the befezzed, potential future president of the United States offers his interviewing services, you jump on it like a monkey jumping on another monkey, right?
Here are his interview questions, and my answers.
1) Who were your childhood heroes? And why did you look up to them?
I used to read lots of comics when I was a kid and loved Spider-Man, but I don't think I ever got into the mindset where I would find the heroes in comics to be heroes to look up to.
I liked various music, television and movies, but really didn't have any heroes there, either. I loved Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, but didn't really associate them with Jim Henson at the time (who I'd probably consider a hero of mine now, at least).
I was also relatively oblivious to the events of the day as well, so no heroes on the national or world stage existed for me, either.
I guess my brother would probably be, for me, the person most fitting the words 'childhood hero'.
He's seven years older than me. I always looked up to him. Whether it was reading his old comics or listening to an old mixtape he made, things that were in some way connected to him carried a greater meaning, and emotional impact.
I still remember when I was about seven or eight, he let me tag along on a walk to a convenience store with him and his friends. The store was probably no more than a mile from our house, but it seemed like a hundred to me. It probably wasn't that big a deal to him, but to me it was like a big adventure that I felt happy to be part of.
I can't really pin down why I looked up to him so much. That's just the way it was, I guess.
2) What is one film and one book you would recommend that everyone see and read and why?
Book: Interventions, by Noam Chomsky
I'm picking the most recent political book by linguist and activist, Noam Chomsky. I'm honestly not that familiar with his work in linguistics, but I have read virtually all his political books. In my opinion, Chomsky is a profoundly thoughtful and articulate critic of the United States, focusing primarily on its role in world affairs. I first read one of his books, Towards A New Cold War, about ten years ago, and it completely shook me to my core. Some people feel his writings are pessimistic, or overly critical of the US. I don't really feel that way. I think he is doing something he believes in, and is trying to effect positive change in the best way he knows how. He's trying to make the world a better place. I think the more people (particularly, Americans) are aware of his writings, the less likely wars like Iraq and Vietnam will be started and perpetuated.
Movie: Defending Your Life, by Albert Brooks
Something about this movie and its portrayal of an afterlife really clicked with me. There's no concept of a hell, or really even an omnipresent supreme being. It's all about fear. Did fear rule your life on Earth? Fear is seen as the cause of the majority of our worldly problems. Fear is what keeps people from moving on into their next stage of existence (I like this concept more than one of some kind of lazy-ass heavenly paradise). Fear is what keeps people from using the full potential of their brains (people on Earth use only 3% of their brains).
All my life I have struggled with fear and uncertainty, as I'm sure many people do. This movie does a lot of great things. Among them, it de-religifies spirituality and encourages one to take chances and work through doubt. Plus, you can eat all you want of the finest foods in the afterlife without gaining a pound.
3) Which, if any, countries outside the USA have you visited?
I've been to a resort in Cozumel, which perhaps technically can't be considered Mexico due to how insular the environment was designed to be. We were there in mid-September, and no one in the resort mentioned that it was Independence Day (September 16th) the week we were staying (of course, we could have not been the ignorant gringos that didn't already know this fact). A cab driver mentioned the following day was Independence Day when we were riding from our resort to the main town. So, the following night we decided to skip the resort's musical salute to international something-or-other and went into town during a celebration by the locals. It was one of the highlights of our trip. At around the time we were in Cozumel, Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs and Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals were having their racing streak of home runs in the Major League back home. I met a man in town who was a fan of Sosa's. I asked him if he would like me to send him a Sosa t-shirt when I got back to Chicago, to which he enthusiastically agreed. I never sent him a shirt, though, and have lost his address.
For our honeymoon (which actually was more than a year after we had married), my wife and I traded in a timeshare of my brother's and stayed at a small town, Bad Gastein, in the Austrian Alps. It was offseason, so there was no skiing involved, but we did plenty of hiking (though my wife was five months pregnant with twins at the time, and probably would have liked to have gone a little lighter on the walking). One of the coolest things we saw in Austria was Eisriesenwelt, an ice cave in the side of a mountain. A guide that worked there, Gerhard, gave us a tour of the cavern. I mentioned to him that I had done some caving back in the States, and said that I had used a carbide lamp for illumination. Gerhard stated that he would love to get his hands on one of those lamps, but that they were prohibitively expensive locally. I said I could probably dig one up for him for cheap, and asked him if he would like me to send him one when I got back to Chicago, to which he enthusiastically agreed. I thought I had a lamp back home, but then I couldn't find it. Then, I lost Gerhard's address. Actually, I just recently found my carbide lamp at my folks' house. Gerhard, if you find this blog and give me your address again, I'll send the lamp to you, I promise.
A couple years earlier, my wife and I did an El Italia package where we saw three cities (Rome, Florence, Venice) in ten days. We weren't part of a tour group, but we did have reservations in the different cities on certain nights, enforcing how long we stayed at each place. Florence was a blur, though I did propose to my wife there, and bought her an engagement ring on the famous Ponte Vecchio. We had a fantastic time in both Rome and Venice. I'm not a big drinker, but every dinner we ate was accompanied by a decanter of house wine. The ruins of Rome were incredible, particularly the Colosseum. I was so in awe of this building that when a couple of dudes dressed up as Roman Centurions came up and asked to take our picture, I said, "Sure." I thought they were just being kind and were going to take a picture of my wife and I, but they instead started hamming it up, pretending to threaten my wife and I with a sword as another Centurion snapped a photo. I was chuckling as one of the Roman Centurions muttered to me "..[unintelligible] lira". "Huh?" I asked. It dawned on me. These guys weren't out here dressed for kicks, they were charging tourists to take their pictures. So, I fumbled for my wallet, still a little confused. "TWO OF THE BLUE ONES," he spit out.
TWO OF THE BLUE ONES
In case you don't know, that's 20,000 lira (about US $10). vaffanculo!
I guess the lesson to be learned is that if you want something from me while I am traveling in your fair country, you have to trick me.
4) What do you do for a living? Do you like it? And do you see yourself doing it until you retire?
I'm doing mostly Java programming at a bank. Some days it's more fun than others. A lot of it involves creative problemsolving, but there are stretches of drudgery. I honestly don't know if I'll do it all my life. I sort of fell into it. It pays pretty well, and that's important to me as I'm now supporting a wife and three kids.
My college degree is actually in film production. I halfheartedly pursued a career in the film industry when I first moved to Chicago ten years ago, but as it worked out I was mostly temping.
A guy I work with just recently wrote a script, which I helped him make into a movie just these past two weekends. I recently got an idea in my head for a short film, which I think I might develop into a script, and, hopefully, a movie.
I think as long as I can have some sort of creative outlet, I can be satisfied with most kinds of work.
5) What traits should we pass on to future generations?
If anything, I'd like to see the world be a more humane place. I guess the most important thing to pass on would be the feeling of being a part of something larger than one's self, a recognition of a greater good. Stuff that makes you think twice before inflicting harm on another.
Thanks so much for these questions, good doctor.
Now, you, reader of this post... Do YOU want to be interviewed?
1. Leave me a comment saying "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.