Sheldon Lee Compton
SHELDON LEE COMPTON: You’re traveling in Logan, West Virginia and your car breaks down. You manage to get it to a shop but it’s an overnight fix. What do you do during your day there? Feel free to research the town for your answer.
ANNA LEA JANCEWICZ: You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Shel, is this your way of saying you’re stuck in Logan, WV? Are you fishing for a ride? Because I don’t think my Volvo would make it. I will probably have to steal my husband’s Prius. And I’ll probably have to rob a liquor store or something for gas money. I’ve always seen myself as the kind of woman who would show up for a crime spree in a sort of femme fatale noir style, not just looking like a regular meth whore, so my dirty sweatpants and Star Trek t-shirt are not going to cut it. Now, I’ve got a cloche hat, and I have a dress that might do okay. It’s gray with paisleys and has flared three-quarter length sleeves. It’s super cute with a nice cardigan. But it’s in the wash, so you’re going to have to wait on that. My only available firearm is not going to be period correct, and I can probably let that slide, but I’m definitely going to need to buy some lipstick. So I’ll have to swing by the Rite-Aid, too. In the meantime, I see there’s a Holiday Inn Express on George Costas Drive. I guess you should hang out there. See if room service has pancakes, because I figure crime is going to make me hungry for pancakes. Also, the juiciest thing about Logan appears to be the 1932 murder of Mamie Thurman. Her throat was slashed from ear to ear and then she was shot twice in the left side of the head. Her mortal remains were discovered in a blackberry patch by a local boy (How poetic!). Since I’m kind of going to be dressed for it anyway, I figure once I get there we’re going to have to do some kind of scam where I pose as her ghost. You start thinking on that. I’ll be on my way soon.
SLC: There’s a cooking competition, sort of Hell’s Kitchen style situation. Only thing is, they’re asking you to come up with the dish for the renewed Fear Factor series pilot episode. How disgusting can you make your dish? Hit us with it!
ALJ: Obviously, the unbeatable taboo here is cannibalism. But that’s pretty hard to get away with. So I’m going to roll with the almost. The best you can get without killing anybody. If there’s one thing being a sainted mother has taught me, it is that America finds my body, its organs, and all its fluids to be absolutely disgusting. Placenta pot pie, anyone? I’ll make it really savory, with plenty of fried onions, garlic, and sage. Maybe top it with some mashed potatoes, like a shepherd’s pie. And throw some nice chunks of carrot in there. Definitely some wild mushrooms. Serve it with some frosty breastmilkshakes. Strawberry’s my preference. The true crowning glory of the meal, however, will be my menstrual blood sausage. I am totally going to rock it on this show. It will air on Mother’s Day. I am Champion.
SLC: Your artist friend has painted an unflattering portrait of you and made it their Facebook profile picture, along with Twitter, etc. In fact, they’ve decided to vigorously pursue a gallery in their city to feature it for an entire month. What do you do? How do you handle it?
ALJ: I’m embarrassed to confess I’ve not planned for this particular contingency. I’m going to start this very night training an army of evil rockabilly raccoons. They will wear little black leather jackets, carry switchblade knives, and have pomaded pompadour hairdos. They will be quick, clever, and obedient. I will accustom them to acts of great depravity. If anything goes wrong at any point in my plan, they will throw themselves upon their switchblades and die with my name whispery upon their devoted raccoon lips. They will learn to bake tomato pie spiked with rat poison, and pick locks. My nemesis will return home one balmy evening to a find a fresh and tasty surprise cooling on their kitchen counter. After the writhing in agony and dying part, my ghoulie minions will devour the corpse and fall dead themselves, leaving no loose ends to betray me. The surprise here is that they also built a time dilator out of stolen scrap metal (none of yours, don’t worry, sweet pea) and plutonium (nevermind you how we got that, it’s none of your beeswax), and went back to destroy all evidence of the portrait beforehand. At this point you may ask Why not just settle for the time travel and obliteration of fine art? Why the murder most foul, Anna, why, God Gawd, why? To which I will laugh with a very unsettling gleam in my eye, and hold up my fist, so you can see R-V-N-G-E tattooed across my knuckles. The E might be a little hard to see on my thumb when I’m making a fist, but you’ll get the idea.
SLC: Cheers was a real bar. Let’s make that true first. Okay, you wander in and, eight years later, you’re a regular. What’s your deal, you know, what character are you? The new feisty kid? The pool hustler who always sits in the pool room in the back. Who are you at Cheers?
ALJ: I am the plucky con artist who showed up claiming to be Coach’s illegitimate daughter. Carla’s onto me from the start, and makes many wisecracks at my expense, but poor corn-fed naïve Woody falls for me hard. So, naturally, I seduce him and then get to make out with young Woody Harrelson a lot. I even convince him to get rid of his gawd-awful weak-ass 80s mullet and instead rock a green Mohawk. Cliff and Norm think that is totally hilarious, of course. Sam is really concerned about the degradation of Woody’s virtue, though, and probably pretty jealous too over all the attention people are paying to Woody’s awesome hair instead of his, so he takes Woody aside and tries to counsel him. Then, as Woody is just about convinced that I am a she-devil slut-monster, there is an intricately absurd slapstick accident with a pool cue while Cliff and Norm and I are playing a game in the back room, and I am knocked unconscious and wake up with amnesia! My personality keeps shifting! Hilarity! Sometimes I am a New Orleans Voodoo Queen, sometimes a Russian Cosmonaut who thinks it’s 1963, sometimes Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Oh, the comic gold that ensues! Everybody learns to love me. Alas, nobody ever does know my (real) name.
SLC: It’s 1984 and the talent agency you work for has asked that you get them the next hot band. It’s the morning of the pitch meeting where you have to turn them onto your new discovery. Only thing is, you ain’t discovered shit. You’re going to have to wing it and buy yourself some time. It’s a five minute pitch, so I figure about two paragraphs should do it. Go!
ALJ: First of all, if it’s 1984, I want Cyndi Lauper hair.
Suck it, mom. I’m not ten this time and you can’t tell me no.
Okay. The thing is, Fancy Executives, the future of music is NOW. We are standing on the threshold of the greatest time in human history, the finest hour pop music has ever known. Do you see this bagel in my hand? This bagel is round. This bagel is a circle. This bagel is infinity. This bagel is not a fresh, chewy, nourishing breakfast staple. It is the ouroboros of creative renewal, of revolutionary re-creation. This schmear? This schmear is the substance of genius itself! Would the greatest of music gods run scared from sinking their teeth into this sesame-seed-encrusted symbol of rebirth and innovation? No! Hell no! Beethoven would bite this bagel! Mozart and Bach would bite this bagel! David Lee Roth would eat three, and ask for more lox! All the rock royalty of today, the indestructible legends of tomorrow—Madonna, Prince, Huey Lewis—know that the time is NOW. The time has come to devour the future, to seize the day, to bite this bagel of imagination and reinvention and totally rad brilliance!
You look at me now, hungry like the wolf, asking yourselves What is this future of which she speaks? What is this NOW? What is, after all, the Heart of Rock and Roll, and what makes it still beat, not only in the great city of Cleveland, but all around the world, into the farthest reaches of the universe? What is it that really makes humanity Cum On and Feel the Noize? What makes the girls rock their boys? I tell you this morning, that I have found it. You have been told that the future is electronic music. You have been told that the future is rap. You have been told that the future is punk rock, that the future is heavy metal. I tell you today that these forecasts are all wrong. And yet, they are all right. The future is a synthesis of all of these, a new hybrid genre of music. The band I have found is everything. They are the feral bastard lovechild of a super-gross coke-fueled orgy between Run DMC, Kiss, The Sex Pistols, New Order, and um, I guess there has to be a girl, right? So, let’s throw in Cyndi or the hotter Wilson sister, whichever you like. Anyway, they are the Next Big Thing, the maximum rock gods of tomorrow, the new It Band for the 80s, the 90s, and beyond. They are the future, NOW. I have come here today to tell you, without a doubt, the name that will forever change pop music, and that is—
[This is the part where I fake a seizure and piss my stirrup pants.]
SHELDON LEE COMPTON: If you could be a dragon, what would you do as one?
JACOB S. KNABB; I’d spew a shitload of fire, all over the place, for a long time. And then once I’d tired of recklessly burning everything in front of me, and assuming this rampant fire-spewing hasn’t resulted in my untimely demise at the hands of a knight or Tomahawk Chopper, I’d fly around thinking about things that make me sad and I’d keep flying and flying and thinking and being sad until something breaks inside of me and I stop wanting to spew fire or be sad. On that day I’d announce my candidacy and begin my presidential campaign.
SLC: You find a book and begin to read and realize pretty damn fast it’s the story of your life. Do you read up until the point in the story where you find the book and stop or keep reading into the future? Explain your decision.
JSK: I would read that book cover-to-cover. People who say they wouldn’t are damned fools lacking in sense and deserving of the random fates coming to them. I would want to know how it all ends and how I get there and see what I could do to make that journey as good as it can be. And of course I’d most likely mess with the plot a little. Add a new character here and cut one there. I like some stories better when I tell them.
SLC: You become so well-known that every single human being on the planet knows who you are. You need privacy and so your press team releases a one-paragraph statement asking for fans to give you space. Write that press release for me.
JSK: Jacob S. Knabb has purchased an island. It is remote and tropical and contains several waterfalls and shimmering pools of water and he intends to bask in those pools and cleanse himself in those waterfalls. He isn’t bringing any of you with him. It’s likely he’ll return to civilization a few times a year and you’ll see him if he wants you to see him and otherwise you won’t. But don’t worry you can still buy his merchandise and enjoy his image in the privacy of your own homes.
SLC: God shows up. He’s all like, “I’m God and I’m tired of turning the lights on and off. Pick one and let’s stick with it.” Do you go with infinity daylight or infinity nighttime?
JSK: Infinity Nighttime.
SLC: Technology has advanced to the point that robots are a commercial reality. To promote this advancement, the government gives everyone the funds to order one custom made robot. What the hell do you do with this offer?
JSK: I get me a robot! I’ve seen all the movies and TV shows. That robot’ll come in handy in times of trouble and may even be witty and charming when life gets dull. My robot and I will drink beer together (because aren’t robots fueled by beer?) and I’ll teach him to play guitar. We’ll start a country band called Harold Ray & the Dixie Cup and we’ll take that shit on the road until we have enough money to buy a tropical island.
Good evening, readers, fellow writers, readers, fine people everywhere. Some time back I thought to collect the interviews I had shared here as a contributor known as Chaos Questions into a single volume and seek publication. Following this thought, I asked the writer and editor and Enclave maestro Janice Lee and current Managing Editor Sam Slaughter if I might take the interviews down in order to pursue this endeavor. I never really sought publication and the thought was forgotten, like so many these days, I’m afraid.
This is to say that I will again be posting the new interviews here and certainly reposting those I had already conducted and which were once here at Enclave for anyone to read and enjoy, or otherwise. I’m grateful that the spot is still open and, in particular to Sam Slaughter. I look forward to the continued pleasure of contributing here at Enclave.
On that note, should you or someone you know perhaps be interested in taking part in a Chaos Questions interview, do not hesitate to contact me at my personal email shelcompton (at) gmail (dot) com. Please do put Chaos Questions somewhere in the subject line.