Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another interview: This time John asks the questions...

Okay, here's one more round of the "five questions" interview meme. This time John, from Mind on Fire has posed the questions. I think he missed his calling; he asks great questions and gets his interviewee to talk (write, in this case) entirely too much.

If you could be a character from any SF series which would you choose and why?

I’d be Mendoza, from Kage Baker’s “Company” novels. It sort of frightens me what that says about my psychological makeup, but nonetheless…. Mendoza, if you haven’t met her, is a cyborg, an immortal rescued from the not-so-loving arms of the Spanish Inquisition by Facilitator Joseph. Joseph is employed by The Company which, in the 24th century has discovered not only how to make infants and young children immortal, but how to travel in time. As a cyborg, Mendoza also works, as a Preserver. Her specialty is botany. Mendoza, however, is not a good cyborg. She doesn’t much like the Company, the Company wishes that she had never been made a cyborg, and she just doesn’t behave. Which is why she gets banished to around 150,000 years ago - that way, she’s out of the way and can’t cause the Company any more trouble - or so it hopes.

So, as to the why…Maybe it’s because Mendoza seems to embody one of my favorite sayings: she’s old enough to know better - way old enough - but is still young enough not to care. She knows she’s going to get in trouble, but she goes ahead and follows her heart anyway. Other than that, I don’t know. All I know is that I connected faster with Mendoza than I have with just about any fictional character I can think of.

Fill in the following: I am a [blank] junkie. Explain.

I am a music junkie. I need my music, and it doesn’t much matter what kind it is. I don’t really love hip-hop (in fact I’ve been known to express the opinion that while hip-hop is art, it isn’t really music as far as I’m concerned), and country music isn’t my favorite (but I listen to a lot more of it than I used to, since I’ve been learning more about all the cross-pollination between country and rock), but I’ll even listen to those if there’s nothing else.

I trace this addiction back to February 9, 1964. I was seven years old and spent part of the evening hiding behind the piano (it was a Sunday and I had school the next day, so I was supposed to be in bed by 7:30) watching the Beatles in their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Changed my life. After that, while all of my little fellow and sister second-graders were running home after school to watch cartoons, I was running home to watch the daily local L. A. imitations of American Bandstand. Ever since then, if I go too long without hearing some music I get just about as cranky as I do if I go too long without reading, which would have been the alternate answer for this question.

Quick! What were the last seven books you read?

Now, this one is easy, but only because I’ve been keeping a list this year. You’ve caught me in a cycle of reading more of what my best friend calls “popcorn books” than I usually do, but that’s fine. Reading is for fun, too. So, here is the list, slightly annotated, of the last seven books I’ve read, beginning with the most recently finished:

All Saints, Liam Callanan (2007) - fiction, and a very loopy book - that‘s the best word I can think of to describe it. Most of the characters, teachers and students at a Roman Catholic high school, are pretty dysfunctional. But Callanan manages to portray them as fully human even when they are doing things that are not admirable. Oh, and John…this book takes place in your neck of the woods; the fictional school is in Newport Beach and UC Irvine even makes a couple of quick appearances.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Charles C. Mann (2005; trade paperback edition, 2006) - Anthropology/archaeology/history. Mann discusses new ideas of the life the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere led before and at contact with Europeans. Excellent book. I highly recommend it. (See my review, below)

Tutu Deadly, Natalie M. Roberts (2007) - fiction; of all things, a comical murder mystery. This one is supposed to be the first of a continuing series featuring a dance teacher in Utah who “doesn’t always play well with the other adults”.

The Collar, Jonathan Englert (2006) - Anthropology/sociology/religion. Follows a year in the lives of several Roman Catholic seminarians, very frank without being dismissive of the religious journeys of the men portrayed. If I were teaching a class in the anthropology or sociology of religion, this is one of the books I’d teach.

Michelangelo’s Notebook, Paul Christopher (2005) - Da Vinci Code territory; very much popcorn reading. So much so that I don’t remember much of the plot even though it hasn’t been long since I read it.

The Alexandria Link, Steve Berry (2007) - Also in the mold of Dan Brown, except with better writing and plotting. The protagonist is an ex-government lawyer on the trail of what really happened to the great library at Alexandria. Of course, the bad guys want to get their first. Again, popcorn reading, but of a better quality.

Hotel California: The true-life adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and their many friends, Barney Hoskins (2006) - Music; Hoskins is a music writer and critic, and he’s really done his homework here, having at one time or another interviewed most of the people he writes about. Frankly, there’s a lot of gossip here, but especially if you love the music of this era and genre as I do there is also a good deal of deep background on who influenced who musically, who worked with who on what music. I liked this book a lot.

Why did you become Mormon? Why did you leave?

I became Mormon mostly, I have to admit, because I knew a lot of Mormons at the time - I was baptized when I was 16. But, I had also gone to seminary for about a year with a friend and I figured that what the Mormons were teaching made just as much sense as what I’d heard in any other church I’d ever gone to. I was especially impressed by the second-chance thing, aka baptism for the dead. I’d had a bad experience previously visiting a church and getting into an argument with the Sunday school teacher when she said that people who died without hearing about Christ were just out of luck and were destined to spend eternity burning in hell. Oddly, when I went to participate in baptisms for the dead in the L.A. temple I was so creeped out by it that I didn’t want to ever go to the temple again under any circumstances.

When I left for good (I was in and out, active and inactive, for an extended period of time), it was after a revelation I had one Sunday afternoon as I was teaching a Relief Society lesson. As I was talking, I realized that I didn’t believe most of what I was saying, that I was being a hypocrite, and that I just couldn’t do that anymore and have any respect for myself. I don’t know why it happened just then. I’d been having arguments with myself about doctrine, about custom in the church, about everything about the church, for years. I’d literally be alone in the car and arguing with myself about stuff like blacks and the priesthood, about the place and role of women in the church, about various points of doctrine and history. But that afternoon was it. I just couldn’t do it anymore. And I never went back.

What world event would you like to see in your lifetime?

My first instinct, when I read this question, was to flutter my hand in my best beauty queen/Miss Congeniality imitation (I adore that movie) and say something like “world peace”. And that would be wonderful. And politically correct. But if I were really to be completely honest, as much as I’d like to see everybody just get along, what I would really like to see is proof…convincing, irrefutable proof that there is other intelligent life in the universe. Heck, maybe then it would turn out that Ronald Reagan was right about something and that knowing there was someone else out there would help bring us together, make us realize that the lifeboat comparison is really true - we are all in this together and if we keep fighting, we’re all going to drown. Is that what they call having one’s cake and eating it too?

Again, as before...
it's your turn. If you would like to be interviewed by me (littlemissattitude) and pass this meme along, here's what you need to do:

1) Leave me a comment telling me you want to be interviewed. Either leave your e-mail address in the comment or e-mail me at ElnFrei at aol dot com with your addy.

2) I will respond by e-mailing you five questions of my choice.

3) You answer the questions in your blog.

4) When you post your answers, include this explanation in the post and offer to interview someone else.

5) You send five questions of your choice to those who ask to be interviewed.


JohnR said...

I just started reading the first company novel today, and so am just becoming acquainted with the child Mendoza. I'm more interested in her now.

I really like your book list. I'm impressed that you read so widely. You really should do the librarything!

Thanks for your responses--I love these opportunities to get to know my friends a little better.

lma said...

Mendoza is really an interesting character. While I like the Company novels in which she isn't front and center, the ones where she is an active character are my favorites.

As far as reading widely...that's my father's fault. He raised me to believe that everything is interesting, and with a few exceptions I believe that. I'm not sure sometimes if it is a blessing or a curse, but for better or worse, I can work up at least some interest in almost any topic.

And, yeah...librarything. I had heard of it, but hadn't clicked over to check it out until I read your comment. It looks like I'll probably do that when I find a little time to catalog my books. I had to leave a lot of my books behind when I moved a couple of years ago, simply because I had to do the move all by myself and just couldn't take all those books along.

However, I did manage to bring one bookcase and enough books to fill it...and now my collection is growing by leaps and bounds again (I came home with 19 books from my shopping when I was in SoCal recently), so I think it is the perfect time to catalog them on librarything, before it gets out of hand again.

Jim Melvin said...

I'd love to be interviewed, if you're still looking for someone.

-- Jim Melvin
The Death Wizard Chronicles

Regina said...

You are a very good writer. I'm not sure how I came upon your site, but I began reading it and, thought I would comment. I especially enjoyed your book reviews. My name is Regina. I am a senior of English and Creative Writing at California University of Pennsylvania. I write for an online Literary Magazine- Beanery Writers. You can log on as a guest anytime. Feel free. Well, I wanted to acknowledge your talent. I'm working on my first book. Classes will begin soon and I need to write at least five chapters.

Best of Luck,


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