Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Weird Questionnaire

I like doing lists of questions -- it brings out my combative, contrarian side, which is never far from the surface -- so I saved Jeff VanderMeer's run-through of this list (originally from the French) when it came around last week. (I deliberately avoiding reading Jeff's post, so that I could answer the questions spontaneously.)

I finally have time to do it myself, so here goes:


1. Write the first sentence of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.

There is more of Thor left in Thursday, even in these lesser latter days, than most of us realize.

2. Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

9:29


3. Look at your watch. What time is it?

9:31

4. How do you explain this?—?or these?—?discrepancy(ies) in time?

My wife just came home, and I had to say hello to her and help retriever her laptop from whichever son had it.

5. Do you believe in meteorological predictions?

I believe that they're broadly accurate, within their limitations and subject to the usual probably with probabilistic projections.

6. Do you believe in astrological predictions?

No. They're wishful thinking for the feeble-minded.

7. Do you gaze at the sky and stars by night?

I have done so, but I don't go out of my way to do it.

8. What do you think of the sky and stars by night?

They're good for sparking pseudo-philosophical musings, about things like history and the depths of space and (when airplanes pass by) travel and separation.

9. What were you looking at before starting this questionnaire?

My RSS feed in Google Reader. Before that, some editorial cartoons.

10. What do cathedrals, churches, mosques, shrines, synagogues, and other religious monuments inspire in you?

When they're large and architecturally impressive, the usual awe and wonder at the skill and knowledge that went into making them. Otherwise, there's no specific reaction I have to all religious architecture.

11. What would you have “seen” if you’d been blind?

Absolutely nothing -- that's what being blind means.

12. What would you want to see if you were blind?

Everything; which is to say that I would want not to be blind.


13. Are you afraid?

As a default state? No.

14. What of?

I'm no longer afraid of heart attacks, floods, and being laid off, since those all happened to me in the last few years. I hope I don't get to add to that list; I still worry about my sons and all the other half-nameless things that could happen to me.

15. What is the last weird film you’ve seen?
I suppose that would be Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, for rather thin values of "weird."

16. Whom are you afraid of?

I suppose I should say "myself," to seem deep and mysterious.

17. Have you ever been lost?

Of course. I was a teenage boy in the late 20th century, when gas was cheap and getting lost was one of the great weekend pastimes. I don't mind getting lost as long as I have a sense that I can get back to somewhere familiar eventually.

18. Do you believe in ghosts?

No; not at all. My wife's family intermittently talks about strange noises in their house, which they sometimes attribute to one dead ancestor or another, and I try not to scoff too loudly these days.

19. What is a ghost?

Traditionally, the unquiet spirit of a dead human being.

20. At this very moment, what sound(s) can you here, apart from the computer?

There's music playing from the computer, which may or may not be separate -- it's "Out Come the Wolves," by Jacob Golden. The TV is on in the next room, playing some Big Bang Theory episode. And there's a very faint noise from the ceiling fan above my head.

21. What is the most terrifying sound you’ve ever heard?–?for example, “the night was like the cry of a wolf”?

The thump, many years ago, when I turned away for a second while changing my older son and he rolled off the bed onto the floor.

22. Have you done something weird today or in the last few days?
Today I drove half an hour to buy a used desk, vacuumed and mopped a basement floor, drove boys to and from school, picked up prescriptions at a drugstore, and did a dozen other deeply mundane things. The whole week has been that way.

23. Have you ever been to confession?

I don't think so; I've never been Catholic, and my adolescent church's cross-religious training only went so far as to have field trip to other religions' worship services.

24. You’re at confession, so confess the unspeakable.

I deliberately led one of my best friends over a ledge in the snow, many years ago, hoping he would be hurt -- and he was, though not badly.

25. Without cheating: what is a “cabinet of curiosities”?

A Renaissance collection of interesting oddities -- usually of natural history, broadly defined -- gathered together in a piece of furniture created for the purpose.

26. Do you believe in redemption?

I believe people can do bad things and then later do good things. I don't believe there's any supernatural person or force keeping the books on those people. The question makes more sense to me in a political or sports context than in a moral one.

27. Have you dreamed tonight?
It's not night yet.

28. Do you remember your dreams?

Not usually.

29. What was your last dream?

I was having breakfast with a large group of people -- some of whom I knew, some of whom I didn't, and some of whom (I think) were famous. As is usual with my dreams, I was anxious, and things weren't going well -- my dreams tend to be a continual series of unresolvable crises and problems.

30. What does fog make you think of?

Driving to my train station, early in the morning, and the quiet stillness of that time. Seeing objects loom out of the mist, and how fog cuts the world into two parts: the few close things that can be seen, and the vast unknown outside.

31. Do you believe in animals that don’t exist?

This question has an interesting tension between "believe" -- presumably in a pseudo-religious sense -- and "exist." I don't "believe" in things in that sense; I accept the world as it is, as far as I understand what that is. If an animal doesn't exist, I don't "believe" in it.

32. What do you see on the walls of the room where you are?

Windows, out into the dark, on two sides. Yellow paint, a refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, two lights, a small window with a piece of stained glass in front of it. A door. A gorgeous piece of counted cross-stitch that my wife did, years ago.

33. If you became a magician, what would be the first thing you’d do?

Sell out Carnegie Hall.

34. What is a madman?

Someone with a mental illness.

35. Are you mad?

I'm angry, probably too much of the time -- but that's not what you mean. I'm a bit compulsive, introverted, and neurotic, but I'm tediously sane.

36. Do you believe in the existence of secret societies?

You mean, besides the ones that everyone knows about, and so aren't secret? No. I do believe that those not-so-secret societies do exist, and that their members use them, and the connections with other members, to try to quietly, and perhaps secretly, affect the important doings of the world.

37. What was the last weird book you read?

Richard Sala's graphic novel The Hidden.

38. Would you like to live in a castle?

Maybe, if I could have all mod. cons. The old and drafty and cold kind, no.

39. Have you seen something weird today?

I saw a sad, ugly, stark motel on the side of a minor highway, so closed-off and prison-like that it led my wife and I to make up stories about murder and horrible love affairs that took place there. That's a different kind of weird, though.

40. What is the weirdest film you’ve ever seen?

I would say Twin Peaks, which is a cheat, since it was a TV show, not a film.


41. Would you like to live in an abandoned train station?
Maybe. There's one in the center of my town -- only half-abandoned, since one side of it is a shop, and the other side is empty. They're not all that large, not all that well-fitted with plumbing, generally in the middle of parking lots and near major roads, and would be difficult to leave comfortably in. I'd prefer a lighthouse, actually.

42. Can you see the future?

No. I can sometimes guess things that will happen, but we all can do that.

43. Have you considered living abroad?

If by "considered," you mean with any seriousness, then no. But it's something I would love to do, or think I would love to do. 

44. Where?

An English-speaking country, preferably -- Canada, Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, even South Africa. I've never lived in a big city, either.

45. Why?


Life is so short that I don't want to waste it all in one place, doing one thing. On the other hand, I hate change.

46. What is the weirdest film you’ve ever owned?

This is a puckish answer, but Plan 9 From Outer Space.

47. Would you liked to have lived in a vicarage?

In the past? Sure, why not. At this point in my life, it would only be interesting stories.

48. What is the weirdest book you’ve ever read?

I'm not sure how to contextualize "weird" as a comparative quality. And I recently lost most of my books, so I can't poke around and remind myself of things. Perhaps a small self-published book, full of illustrations, called Steering Locks!, about the dangers of those automotive devices.

49. Which do you like better, globes or hourglasses?

They're both excellent props for orotund speeches and sententious utterances, but globes are more fun to spin.


50. Which do you like better, antique magnifying glasses or bladed weapons?

Bladed weapons, I suppose.

51. What, in all likelihood, lies in the depths of Loch Ness?

Mud, muck, and fish. It's a smallish body of water cut off from the sea, and nothing very large could hide there.

52. Do you like taxidermied animals?

I don't encounter them much in my life, so I've never had to take a particular position on them.

53. Do you like walking in the rain?

Not particularly: I get wet and depressed and dreary, and then more and more wet. Rain is for being outside and looking out at.

54. What goes on in tunnels?

Transit from one place to another, and, thus, commerce.

55. What do you look at when you look away from this questionnaire?

Reflections of lights in the window in front of me.

56. What does this famous line inspire in you: “And when he had crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him.”?

That we all are trapped in our own heads, with our own thoughts ever present and dominant.

57. Without cheating: where is that famous line from?

It's probably not "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," which came to mind first. I don't know.

58. Do you like walking in graveyards or the woods by night?

I don't have enough experience with either to say. I used to love walking around places I knew well at night, back when I was in college, but I tend to be at home at night, these days.


58. Write the last line of a novel, short story, or book of the weird yet to be written.

And they never spoke of that day, ever again. They had no need to.

59. Without looking at your watch: what time is it?

10:15

60. Look at your watch. What time is it?

10:24

1 comment:

Ruby Claire said...

53. Do you like walking in the rain?

Will be answer NO for many.




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