Saturday, April 21, 2007

In which the Meridian is deposed by an actual lawyer

Randall's law clerk, dressed according to the firm's Casual Friday dress code, who delivered the questions to me.

Like I can say No to someone dressed like that?

Randall Sherman, a long-time friend of this humble blog, recently submitted answers to questions e-mailed to him by a fellow blogger; he then invited his readers to ask him to come up with five questions for them to answer. I was among several who volunteered. And, in an apparent sign that the lawyering thing is slow today, my questions arrived via the messenger whose picture you see here not more than a couple of hours after I volunteered.

So--keeping in mind that, because my attorney was not present while I answered these questions, the following is not admissible in a court of law--below the fold you'll find the questions and my answers:

1. You've been challenged to a duel and have accepted. Per dueling etiquette, you are allowed to choose the weapon. Which is?

I would choose single-shot derringers. No matter who it is, s/he is probably a better shot than I am, so I'd want to choose a weapon that would pose as great a challenge to my adversary as possible.

Of course, there's always this option, too:

2. Would you tell us the title to your doctoral dissertation and provide us with an abstract?

My dissertation is titled, "Narratives of Astonishment: Miscegenation in New World Literature." And here is the official abstract:

Through readings of a variety of literary and historical narratives from throughout the Americas dating from the 16th century to the present, I show that miscegenation, its sudden and disrupting revelation in these narratives serving as the catalyst for utopian and/or apocalyptic rhetoric, becomes a trope for New World cultural identity (Utopia and Apocalypse themselves being crucial themes for this hemisphere). I call by the name "Astonishment" the resulting space created by the sudden revelation of miscegenation in these narratives.

3. You and Mrs. Meridian host a dinner party for Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy. What's on the menu?

What a party that would be. Too bad three of them are dead already. Good Southerners all, Miss Welty the more lady-like, Faulkner the more courtly, O'Connor and McCarthy the misunderstood Southern-Irish-Catholics wedged in between. I vacillate between putting on the dog and just keeping it simple; the problem with the latter is that I have trouble seeing Eudora eating fried chicken with her fingers. So then: hors d'oeuvres; then roast duck with raspberry glaze, steamed vegetables, good bread and the appropriate wine (whiskey for Faulkner); then good coffee and bananas Foster for dessert (though Faulkner might just ask for the rum).

4. I believe that that the greatest influence on 20th Century American literature has come from writers who are "south" of the Mason-Dixon Line. Am I an idiot? (Please confine your answer to the assertion in the first sentence. There will be no points given if you refer to other statements and/or writings of mine. Thank you.)

No American writer casts a longer shadow than Faulkner--except maybe Twain (Hemingway famously said that all American literature begins with Huckleberry Finn(nuts to you, Melville and Hawthorne). There are good American writers out there who aren't overtly Faulknerian in their orientation, but they're outnumbered by the ones who are.

I think implicit in the above is a negative response to your second query.

Speaking of which: you might enjoy seeing this.

5. You've written about your time in Mexico. How has that time influenced you, both positively and negatively?

Positively: I have not just a knowledge of but a love for another people and their culture. Also, I had the chance to see my country from another perspective--not just via the comments of mexicanos but also because I lived outside it as well. When a Mexican politely but firmly reminds you that he is an American too, you don't forget. The hemisphere gets redrawn in such a moment.
Negatively: I'm way too picky about flan and avocados now.

Bonus: Because you've spent time in Mexico and because you're from Texas, where's the best place to get a decent enchilada north of the Rio Grande?

In Texas, as you can imagine, you would get sick of eating refried beans long before you ran out of Mexican food restaurants to try. So, it's hard to choose. But I want bonus points, so I'll try. For good, reliable, nothin'-fancy Tex-Mex, Matt's El Rancho in Austin is hard to beat. But if you want both good quality food and, probably, the prettiest place in Texas to eat it, Casa Río, on the Riverwalk in San Antonio, would be even better.

There's a place here in Wichita that serves decent Tex-Mex, but I'm sorry to say that it's the exception to the apparent Bland Rules! rule for Tex-Mex in Kansas. But if you're looking for something a bit more authentic, I highly recommend La Parrilla in Lawrence, KS. Their orientation is more Central and South America, but Mrs. M's favorite meal there is the chicken chimichanga: it's always at least very good and is, on occasion, the sort of meal that makes you close your eyes and think you've seen God.

So--those are my answers. Now, reader(s), it's your turn. Here are the instructions as Randall had posted them over at his place:
If you would like to be interviewed by me, step forward in the comments. Alternatively, you may step backward leaving others who aren't paying attention to "volunteer." I will shoot you an e-mail with five questions of my choice, which you'll answer on your blog. You should also include this explanation and ask for volunteers for you to interview with five questions.

I hope some of you will play along with this. It was fun for me, I assure you.


Josh Rosenau said...

Are we volunteering to be interviewed by you, by Randall, or by either of you?

John B. said...

By me, Josh. I don't know if that will affect your willingness or not, but there it is.

debra said...

I must admit, I'm intrigued although painfully worried that I have nothing of interest to say that would warrant an interview.

But what the heck, shall we give this a go?

John B. said...

I'll wait to hear from Josh before I send him some questions, seeing I sense a bit of wariness on his part. I sense no such wariness from Debra, though, so hers will soon be on their way to her.

R. Sherman said...

Thanks for playing John. (I just got back from a soccer tournament.)

Um, your answer to the question, "Am I an idiot?" was sort of unresponsive. I mean, I know you said your answer was "implicit," but sheesh, way to leave me hangin' out there.


Josh Rosenau said...

No, not wariness, just wasn't sure whether to volunteer here or there. Fire away.

The County Clerk said...

My attorney always tells me to be brief and volunteer NOTHING.

Winston said...

Here in Tennessee, we are known as Volunteers. But that is during football season, and to a lesser extent of late, basketball season. Another time perhaps, but I am too swamped just now to provide a credible effort...

Camille said...

I wanna play! I wanna play! Pick me! Pick me!