Mr. Writing Person's "Fack"
My copy editor tells me that it's good form to have a fack [Ed: my heck, that's hilarious] on your web site. He says it should contain questions that are frequently asked of me, along with their answers. I've found a few questions, and also snippets of conversations I've had more than once.
Q. What's your favorite food?
A. I like dipping raw broccoli in ketchup. When I'm feeling frisky, I boil them together to make stew.
A. If that doesn't suit your fancy, you might try strawberries with ranch dressing and a dash of vanilla.
Q. Are you related to Mister Language Person?
A. I wish I knew, for I admire the man beyond what words can express. Note that he spells out "Mister," where I take the more abbreviated approach.
I have entertained the idea in the past. I don't know who my father is--my mother won't tell me. I think there's a strong possibility of immaculate conception, and in that case, Mister Language Person could very well be my father.
Q. Did you recently acquire a new pair of shorts?
A. Yes! They're my first pair of cargo shorts, which I find thoroughly exciting. They have a total of nine pockets, and I've only managed to fill four of them. I can even put a few extra pair of underwear in the zippered pockets in front. How wicked is that?
The hems have drawstrings in them, which I suppose I could use if I wanted to wear knickers again. I don't. But if I become lost in the wilderness without food, I could consume them for sustenance, which is nice.
Q. Is "alright" a word? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Also, it's bad grammar.
A. "Alright" is the posterior injective of "all right," which is appropriate in complimentary sentences that are followed by, or contain, a caveat. An example might be more illustrative:
James done did alright delivering his wife's baby, but forgot to sever the giant flagellum.
Just because it's unfamiliar to you doesn't mean it's wrong. Check your Strunk and White.
Q. I checked my Strunk and White, but it's not in there.
A. Your Strunk and White doesn't contain all truth. For example, it doesn't address the extraterrestrial origins of pandas.
Q. I can't find posterior injective anywhere, actually.
A. I might have made it up while waiting in the doctor's office for an iron shot, but that doesn't make it any less true. You don't still use "all ways," do you?
Q. Pandas aren't extraterrestrial.
A. Are so.
Q. Do you really have a grad student living in a dungeon under your house?
A. Yes. He actually likes it there, in the dank and dark, frolicking among the rats and torture devices. He says it reminds him of the lab.
[Ed: Actually, I live on the bottom floor of a two-story flat, sharing rent with Mr. Writing Person. The whole extent of our interaction is when he chucks something down the stairs to me ("Copy Editor! I have produced yet another missive for my dear Philistines!"), or when I catch him sneaking down for more broccoli and ketchup. But our little charade reduces my rent considerably, so it doesn't bother me to keep it up.]
Q. Is your copy editor's name "Ed?"
Q. Doesn't schadenfreude mean something like "happiness in the misery of others" or something? Because I swear I felt it once when I was playing a video game with my brother, and all I felt like was giving him a noogie.
A. I'm afraid you're wrong, young Philistine. It's a German coagulation of two words: Schaden, which means "genius" and Freude, which is loosely translated as "a strange tingly feeling of awe mingled with joy."
We don't actually have a word like Freude in English, because we're not weird like Germans are. But every once in a while, someone feels it--usually when reading my work--and that's when I point it out.
Q. I'm tingling. I think I might be feeling Freude.
A. Please keep it to yourself.
Q. Don't you ever worry that someone will take you seriously?
A. I hope everyone takes me seriously. There will be many, however, who will not. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
[Ed: Going all Gospel of John is obviously another point of evidence in favor of immaculate conception.]
Q. I noticed that your "self-portrait" looks like it was excerpted from an engraving of Voltaire, by Baquoy (ca. 1795), but with a halo added behind Voltaire's head. Did you really engrave that "self-portrait?"
A. There's only one explanation for this. Baquoy is a dirty thief.
Q. He lived 200 years ago!
A. Baquoy is a dirty time-traveling thief. Besides, that looks nothing like Voltaire.
Q. How do you know that?
A. Baquoy isn't the only time traveler around, you know.
Q. I really like your work. Can I be your apprentice?
A. No, but you may grovel as if you were.