My friend Rory has been reading some Chuck Klosterman recently and he posted on our board Chuck's 23 hypothetical questions from one of his books. There is an excellent article about the author here. We all posted our answers and I was surprised at how they all varied. I posted a couple myself and thought that they would make an excellent blog topic. Fellow bloggers are welcome to do this as well. I am only going to answer the first 11 and get around to the rest sometime this week or the next.
So let's start with Question #1!
1. Let us assume you met a rudimentary magician. Let us assume he can do five simple tricks--he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, he can make a coin disappear, he can turn the ace of spades into the Joker card, and two others in a similar vein. These are his only tricks and he can't learn any more; he can only do these five. HOWEVER, it turns out he's doing these five tricks with real magic. It's not an illusion; he can actually conjure the bunny out of the ether and he can move the coin through space. He's legitimately magical, but extremely limited in scope and influence.
Would this person be more impressive than Albert Einstein?
Even though this magician is pretty impressive, I would say that Albert Einstein was more impressive. The magician's accomplishments pales in comparison to Einstein's. And besides, I can learn from Einstein, I can try (and the word is try) to understand everything he understood. Knowing the magician (unless he is GOB from Arrested Development) he would never share his secrets with me so really all the magician can do is just show me his tricks. Which would get old.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it you lousy street magician!
2. Let us assume a fully grown, completely healthy Clydesdale horse has his hooves shackled to the ground while his head is held in place with thick rope. He is conscious and standing upright, but completely immobile. And let us assume that--for some reason--every political prisoner on earth (as cited by Amnesty International) will be released from captivity if you can kick this horse to death in less than twenty minutes. You are allowed to wear steel-toed boots.
Would you attempt to do this?
Have you ever seen a Clydesdale horse up close? They are freaking humongous! I don't think I would be able to kill it in twenty minutes. Especially if he was standing, my head would barely reach his leg. I guess I could try to break its legs since people usually put down a horse when it breaks its legs. I guess political prisoners would win out and be set free. I think I would rather have them free instead of child predators.
3. Let us assume there are two boxes on a table. In one box, there is a relatively normal turtle; in the other, Adolf Hitler's skull. You have to select one of these items for your home. If you select the turtle, you can't give it away and you have to keep it alive for two years; if either of these parameters are not met, you will be fined $999 by the state. If you select Hitler's skull, you are required to display it in a semi-prominent location in your living room for the same amount of time, although you will be paid a stipend of $120 per month for doing so. Display of the skull must be apolitical.
Which option do you select?
Money talks. I hate to admit it but in this case, I would take the moola and house Hitler's skull. Aside from being an interesting conversation piece, I could charge people to look at if I wanted too. And I also trust that people that I invite into my home would realize that I am not affiliated or empathizes with the Nazis.
4. Genetic engineers at Johns Hopkins University announce that they have developed a so-called "super gorilla." Though the animal cannot speak, it has a sign language lexicon of over twelve thousand words, an I.Q. of almost 85, and--most notably--a vague sense of self-awareness. Oddly, the creature (who weighs seven hundred pounds) becomes fascinated by football. The gorilla aspires to play the game at its highest level and quickly develops the rudimentary skills of a defensive end. ESPN analyst Tom Jackson speculates that this gorilla would be "borderline unblockable" and would likely average six sacks a game (although Jackson concedes the beast might be susceptible to counters and misdirection plays). Meanwhile, the gorilla has made it clear he would never intentionally injure any opponent.
You are commissioner of the NFL: Would you allow this gorilla to sign with the Oakland Raiders?
I don't think I would allow the gorilla to play. He is more important to science than he is to the NFL. On the other hand, if the gorilla would like to replace Al Davis as owner of the Oakland Raiders, I would have no problem with that. The Raiders might be better off. But then it might set a precedent, do we allow ANY animal in if it gets intelligent?
"As long as the gorilla can injure someone, I'm good!"
5. You meet your soul mate. However, there is a catch: Every three years, someone will break both of your soul mate's collarbones with a Crescent wrench, and there is only one way you can stop this from happening: You must swallow a pill that will make every song you hear--for the rest of your life--sound as if it's being performed by the band Alice in Chains. When you hear Creedence Clearwater Revival on the radio, it will sound (to your ears) like it's being played by Alice in Chains. If you see Radiohead live, every one of their tunes will sound like it's being covered by Alice in Chains. When you hear a commercial jingle on TV, it will sound like Alice in Chains; if you sing to yourself in the shower, your voice will sound like deceased Alice vocalist Layne Staley performing a capella (but it will only sound this way to you).
Would you swallow the pill?
Now this is a hard one. I love music and I love to sing. I feel that music is a huge part of my life. But then would I want Kristy to get her collarbones snapped every 3 years? It is only 3 years though. More than likely I would sacrifice my music to save her from such a horrific injury. Unless Kristy would be willing to take the beating...
Kristy has just informed me that she would be willing to get her collarbones broken. Her reasoning is she is already "old and brittle".
6. At long last, someone invents "the dream VCR." This machine allows you to tape an entire evening's worth of your own dreams, which you can then watch at your leisure. However, the inventor of the dream VCR will only allow you to use this device of you agree to a strange caveat: When you watch your dreams, you must do so with your family and your closest friends in the same room. They get to watch your dreams along with you. And if you don't agree to this, you can't use the dream VCR.
Would you still do this?
I'm torn on this one. I don't know if I would want to subject my family to my terrifying nightmares. Just ask Kristy, I have pretty vivid dreams and most of them are not nice. On the other hand, I would love to revisit them. I am sure I have blocked out parts of my dream or simply forgotten them when I wake. Now I have this cool gadget where I can replay them. But then I dream about tornadoes all the time so I am not sure I would want to see them again. But on the other hand I have dreamed where I was an X-Man. (I was Havok). I think I am leaning on letting people see my dreams as long as they remember that they are just dreams. And they might see some nudity since a lot of my dreams involve people walking in on me while I shower.
7. Defying all expectation, a group of Scottish marine biologists capture a live Loch Ness Monster. In an almost unbelievable coincidence, a bear hunter in the Pacific Northwest shoots a Sasquatch in the thigh, thereby allowing zoologists to take the furry monster into captivity. These events happen on the same afternoon. That evening, the president announces he may have thyroid cancer and will undergo a biopsy later that week.
You are the front page editor of The New York Times: What do you play as the biggest story?
As a responsible journalist I would run the President story. But then the Sasquatch would be more sensational and more important to United States readers. I would probably run the Loch Ness/Sasquatch story because of the unlikely, improbable event of them happening at roughly the same time. And the geek in me is a little intrigued.
8. You meet the perfect person. Romantically, this person is ideal: You find them physically attractive, intellectually stimulating, consistently funny, and deeply compassionate. However, they have one quirk: This individual is obsessed with Jim Henson's gothic puppet fantasy The Dark Crystal. Beyond watching it on DVD at least once a month, he/she peppers casual conversation with Dark Crystal references, uses Dark Crystal analogies to explain everyday events, and occasionally likes to talk intensely about the film's "deeper philosophy."
Would this be enough to stop you from marrying this individual?
Seriously? Do I need to remind every one that I am a comic fan? I could do the same exact thing with Banshee and the X-Men. And I am sure I do that now anyway. So yeah, no biggie here.
"The World According to Banshee"
9. A novel titled Interior Mirror is released to mammoth commercial success (despite middling reviews). However, a curious social trend emerges: Though no one can prove a direct scientific link, it appears that almost 30 percent of the people who read this book immediately become homosexual. Many of these new found homosexuals credit the book for helping them reach this conclusion about their orientation, despite the fact that Interior Mirror is ostensibly a crime novel with no homoerotic content (and was written by a straight man).
Would this phenomenon increase (or decrease) the likelihood of you reading this book?
I hardly read books anyway. I don't think this would sway me either way. I do admit that I would be a little more intrigued by reading it but I don't think it would get me to do it. I don't think it would make me go gay anyway. Now if it was an X-Men comic with Banshee in it then I totally would be all over that. Crime novels hold little interest to me.
10. This is the opening line of Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City: "You are not the kind of guy who would be in a place like this at this time of the morning." Think about that line in the context of the novel (assuming you've read it). Now go to your CD collection and find Heart's Little Queen album (assuming you own it). Listen to the opening riff to "Barracuda."
Which of these two introductions is a higher form of art?
I have not read the novel but I do own "Barracuda" and I love that opening riff. But the question isn't about what I am familiar with and what I like more. Personally I think music, especially rock music gets a bad rap and doesn't get appreciated as an art as much as it should. So I would go with Barracuda.
11. You are watching a movie in a crowded theater. Though the plot is mediocre, you find yourself dazzled by the special effects. But with twenty minutes left in the film, you are struck with an undeniable feeling of doom: You are suddenly certain your mother has just died. There is no logical reason for this to be true, but you are certain of it. You are overtaken with the irrational metaphysical sense that--somewhere--your mom has just perished. But this is only an intuitive, amorphous feeling; there is no evidence for this, and your mother has not been ill.
Would you immediately exit the theater, or would you finish watching the movie?
I would leave the theater and try to call my mom. If she didn't answer her phone, I would call my sister. If she wasn't with mom, I would be on my way up to house. I don't ignore those feelings, usually when I get feelings like this they are dead on the money. Pun fully intended.
The world will be around tomorrow so I can catch this flick at a later time.
====Well, that was a little more intensive and thought provoking than I thought it would be. I still will finish up the rest of the questions but I am curious to see how you guys respond.