Thursday, June 28, 2007

5 Questions from Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein

There's an interview meme going around, and it landed at Monkey Muck, where the future President of the United States offered to interview anyone who wanted it. Loving to talk about myself, I asked, and he submitted five questions. Here they are.

1) I am in awe of your posts about animation and the history of same. What was the first animated film you remember seeing and which one has had the most profound effect on you?The first animated movie I have a conscious memory of seeing was Disney's Sleeping Beauty. It was during a re-release (remember when they did those?), because I remember seeing it in the theater. I don't remember physically going or coming back; my most vivid memory of it is being in that dark theater and watching in pure terror as Maleficent turned into a gigantic dragon and attacked Prince Philip. I was so worried that he was going to get killed, but when his sword found its way to her heart and she fell over, I remember this wave of relief. And that's the part that really stands out.As for a profound effect on me, that's what I love about animation: it still has a profound effect on me. To this day, as an adult, I can see something like The Iron Giant (I was 22 when it came out) or The Triplets of Belleville (27) and be supremely moved by it. Animation has a more direct route to my heart than anything else, and it's maybe too easy for it to touch me. Every Miyazaki film does, that's for certain. But I think the first time I really felt that was when I was very young, and some channel or other aired the 1978 British movie Watership Down.The movie was filled with all kind of things that I hadn't seen in other animated movies before; things like death and peril and duty and ideology. The weird, dark, murderous authoritarianism against a band of rabbits who wanted to be free. That movie definitely had a profound effect, even in terms of my concern for animals. Whenever I see a militaristic authority and they seem wrong to me, I think of General Woundwort. Every time I see that movie it's like the first time. It touches me deeply.Of course, being six I didn't intellectualize it that way, but I can still look back at that as a turning point. I assume I was six, because I hadn't yet seen The Secret of NIMH and The Last Unicorn, which came out in 1982 when I was six, and those movies gave me a similar feeling.

2) Who were your childhood heroes and why did you look up to them?It's hard to say; I don't remember wanting to be like someone else, and most of the personal heroes I have are ones I made in high school. There were things that affected me on TV or in movies or in comic books. When I was a kid, I was drawn to certain comic book characters. I got fat in the fourth grade, and instantly went from being one of the most popular kids in school to an outcast. I think that's why I was drawn to The Uncanny X-Men and The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk. I think that's why more young children are drawn to Marvel Comics--the characters are outcasts who view their powers as some kind of curse and try to hide them. I felt that way; sometimes I still do. Peter Parker was teased in school; so was I. I have problems with extreme rage, like Bruce Banner does. I feel ugly and ashamed, like the Thing. Those are some of my most vivid memories. I didn't look up to them as heroes, but I identified with them so well.I do remember thinking Jim Davis was pretty neat, because I loved Garfield and I wanted to be a cartoonist like he was.

3) You write about your health frequently, so what health problem or health scare caused you to try to lose weight and get your health back on track?Like I said, I've been overweight for a very long time. Being teased about it as a kid hurt, but I always withdrew from it and became very antisocial. I guess it also taught me to be more compassionate about what people have to go through and how they feel. Obesity runs in my family; unfortunately, so does high blood pressure. My Uncle Terry is a thin guy, but his blood pressure was so bad it kept him out of Vietnam. My dad's been in the hospital a few times because of his; so has my thin grandmother (on my mother's side, no less!), whose blood pressure is hard to control. Because of a hiatal hernia (part of my stomach is curled over my diaphragm), coupled with my weight, I developed acid reflux disease. I've been taking Prilosec every day for about a decade.I quit working to go to school in 2001, and it made me even more sedentary than I had been; I'd always been heavy, but my weight just ballooned higher than ever. One day, I went to the student clinic because I thought I had pink eye; actually, it was a blood vessel that had burst because my blood pressure was incredibly high (at that point it was something like 175/110). I was put on medication and worked with a nutritionist. Both of these events should have been wake up calls, but weren't.Instead, little things added up. I was out of breath walking up stairs. I hated the way I looked. I could barely walk. I felt sick all of the time, and sometimes would choke on my own bile in the middle of the night. Finally, it just all became too much. I decided that I was finally going to get rid of the extra weight and become healthy (or as healthy as I can be with high blood pressure and acid reflux disease, both of which will, at least, not be as prominent if I lose weight). The problem has been, of course, discipline.What finally got me was the fact that too many people have died in the last few years. My Aunt Merry, my Uncle Ralph, my Aunt Cherry, and my Aunt Cheryl have all died recently because of issues that may or may not have had something to do with their weight. My grandmother (on my dad's side) died in 2000--nothing weight-related, but it destroyed me. My sister Ellen died just over a year ago of cancer, and she was only 13. I don't want to be one of those people in my family who dies suddenly because of something I had the power to take into my own hands and prevent. There's been too much of it lately for me to add to.Plus I want to look good naked and be sexually attractive to teenagers. I'm not going to lie, that's there.

4) What person or event shaped you the most?Interesting question, and it's hard for me to answer. There are things from my childhood that I'm still trying to get over and put behind me. I'm still nervous around animals because I was afraid of dogs as a kid. I'm still shy around people sometimes because I was nervous around strangers as a kid. A lot of my life has been dictated by fears and things I should've already gotten over. I can't let people drive me anywhere; I don't take opportunities because it might mean going too far out of my way. I hate it, but I can't remember the root causes of a lot of it, so it's hard for me to beat. Plus, I have a genuinely pathological fear of pain, and that keeps me from things, too.I wish I could say I was inspired to do something by someone or something like that, but I can't remember any of that stuff.

5) What would be your dream film, book, and audio recording?
Wow; that's a good question to ask a pop culture junkie.My dream film is still to see I, Robot done correctly, with the script Harlan Ellison wrote. With that script, it has the potential to be the greatest science fiction film ever made. Susan Calvin is one of the greatest characters in all of science fiction literature, and I'd like to see a great actress like Cate Blanchett play her. And I want to see real robots, damn it, not that CGI nonsense. Ellison (and Asimov, who wrote the original stories) envisioned realistic, clunky robots that towered over people and existed in physical space. That's what I want to see; puppets or robots built to interact with people. I really want to see that film. Of course, I have lots of ideas for movies I want to see... I want to see Miyazaki do The Hobbit or this lesbian pirate movie I have this idea for (with Scarlett Johansson and Anne Hathaway) or a biopic of Brian Wilson or my biopic of Bebe Buell starring Liv Tyler...My dream book... well, that all has to do with bending the laws of space and time and rescuing the works of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton before his wife burned them.As for an audio recording, I've always had this idea about doing productions of musicals directly for CD. I have this version of Jesus Christ Superstar in my head that only I would like, with Justin Hawkins from the Darkness, Andre 3000, Jack Black, Jessica Simpson, Christopher Lee, and Randy Newman... And produced by Brian Wilson, of course.Although, I'll settle for an album of Gershwin standards sung by ScarJo and Annie...

And now, for no reason other than a request was made, a bunch of pictures of Scarlett Johansson.And now, here are the rules that keep this thing going.

Do YOU want to be interviewed?

Interview rules:
1. Leave me a comment saying "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview
someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them
five questions.

And remember: Monkerstein in 2008. VOTE MONKERSTEIN!


Jaquandor said...

I'll take an interview, although it'll be a little while before I respond, since I'm taking a breather from blogging. But this will give me a good way to get back in the swing.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful and don't remember, but it was a course of prednisone (a steroid) that was prescribed for your constant ear infections that caused you to gain the weight at first. Of course, after that it was self-perpetuating. I love you, Mom.

Ben Varkentine said...

Yeah, what the hell, interview me, if you'd like.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Thanks for answering my questions. Your family and mine sound alot alike, yours is dealing with weight issues and high BP and it's effects, mine is plagued by heart disease (on both sides) and mental illness.

Thanks for posting more Scar Jo. She is indeed a wonder to behold and yes I am still creeped out by the crush I had on her when she was still a young teen, but since it was only a crush no harm done except my right wrist got a lot stronger than my left one.

I agree with you on the Burton thing. I read a bio of him a few years back and his feats blew me away. If I could go back in time I'd bitch slap his wife for burning all his papers.

Fair is fair, if you want to interview me, send me five questions.

And say high to your Mom for me, she seems like she's a cool chick.
I dig the fact she reads your blog.

Splotchy said...

Very nice questions and answers.

Go ahead and interview me, but please take your time. No rush.

J.D. said...

I interviewed you way before it was popular, no? So.. ::wink:wink::

Lee said...

I'd be up for an interview! This was a really interesting post that gave a fair bit of insight into you. Which is sometimes hard to do without prompting.

I love and appreciate the plug for the scifi movie list too! Feel free to drop some more onto the list because I've opened it up for multiple suggestions!

SamuraiFrog said...

For everyone who requested an interview, I should have questions before the weekend is over.

Jaquandor: No problem.

Mom: I DON'T remember. I mean, I remember having all those ear infections, but not the prednisone. Interesting... Of course, the genetic odds were against me, too.

Ben: Will do.

Dr. Monkey: Scarlett understands she has a lot of fans who like her in more of a wrist-strengthening way. I should know, I'm one of them!

I will interview you. As future president, there should be some sort of dialogue.

My Mom is pretty cool sometimes.

Splotchy: I shall begin thinking of questions.

J.D.: That's why I gave this post basically the same title. You started the ball rolling. Questions forthcoming.

Lee: Cool. And no problem on the plug; I'm sure I have multiple suggestions...

MC said...

Wow... that first picture of ScarJo with the nose ring and bangs... wow....

And before I saw it, I would never have thought that would be the look to press some of my buttons.

SamuraiFrog said...

I do love that look. It's fun when something unexpected just grabs you like that, though.