1. What's the only place outside the U.S. I've been?
B. International waters of the Atlantic
C. Butchart Gardens, B.C.
D. Osaka, Japan
I still need to get to non-U.S. countries some time in my life. (Though back in 1993 I *did* go to the San Juan Islands of Washington, and could look across to Vancouver Island, so I've seen another country...) But in September 1987 I went on a U.S. Navy Tiger Cruise on my dad's aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy (CV-67). My Grandpa Irv and I flew from Virginia to Portland, Maine, where the ship had pulled into port (after a very well-attended stopover in Boston: the line to board the Kennedy for tours during that visit was over a mile long; I've seen an aerial photo of it). For three days the Kennedy sailed in a big arc through the middle of the Atlantic and had limited operations. The air wings also put on an air show one day. I got enormously sunburned and ran around on the ship and took pictures and had an amazing time. And also did homework. I remember looking up from a desk where I was doing schoolwork and seeing on a monitor that the ship was passing the Cheasapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (going over the tunnel, not through the bridge; geez, do I have to spell out everything?) on the way to port in Norfolk, and thinking "Agh! I gotta finish!"
2. Which former or present world leader has my cousin Neil Weare NOT met?
A. Bill Clinton
B. George W. Bush
C. Tony Blair
D. Fidel Castro
Being involved in politics (as well as running) has taken my cousin Neil Weare from his homes in Oregon and Guam (yes, Guam) to Athens for the 2004 Olympics, South Korea and Australia and other Eastern Pacific places for major running events, and even to Washington, D.C., where he was on the staff of Guam's non-voting Congressional delegate (he used to work in a building that had to be evacuated due to the 2001 anthrax scare). Neil's also been part of a student group, the Presidential Scholars, that got invited to events with the last two presidents. He gave Bill Clinton a large necklace (and didn't get jumped by Secret Service men in the process). And then he and a bunch of people from Guam attended a conference in Cuba, and met Fidel Castro (who said -- translated from the Spanish! -- something like "Wow, there are a lot of people from Guam here"). He's met, and shaken the hands of, all three. There are other world leaders who haven't done that.
3. Which listed thing didn't happen?
A. I (briefly) convinced a co-worker that I was a pre-operative transsexual.
B. I convinced myself that I had levitated.
C. I helped make a Classic Trek-Monty Python home video.
D. I took over a radio show.
I've only briefly, tangentially, been on radio: first in Virginia, when DJs Don Geronimo and Mike O'Meara rigged up a water hose outside their studio on a 100-degree day and soaked people (O'Meara saw me taking pictures, yelled "Photographer guy!" and asked me if I'd consent to a soaking; I put my camera aside and said OK, and got blasted with water on live radio) and when one of my e-mails got read on The Afternoon Buzz (Dr. Doug, Daria and Skippy) back in 2004 (I like that story; I'll tell it later). I actually considered pursuing a career in radio, but a friend who'd been a DJ for a couple of years said if I valued my soul, I wouldn't. I actually am acquainted with a few people who've made a good go of it in radio; I support them instead.
As for the other answers: A. July 2004: an actual exchange between temp-worker me and a permanent worker at a Wells Fargo file office:
Her: So you're Chris, right?See? I told you it was brief.
Me: Yeah. They haven't approved my transition, so I'm not Christina yet.
The levitation bit (B.) happened in third grade, when I was running running running on a dirt path along the edge of the schoolyard and honestly thought my legs were pumping but not touching the ground. I later went home and told Mom, all excited, "Mom! I flew today!" "Yes, honey," Mom replied. I was strange kid. (You surprised?)
And Answer C.? That's one of the geekier things I've done: my junior-high friend David Carlton got me and other friends of his to star in a video where we're the crew of a very low-budget starship Enterprise (which can't even afford transporters anymore). We wore pajamas. I played the "red shirt" who gets (very unconvincingly) pummelled by David's monster. When our McCoy ran over to my body and said "He's dead, Jim," I replied, "Uh, I'm not quite dead, actually." (We had other Monty Python references, too.) Oh, and our Scotty powered the engines by riding a stationary bike. Oh, and our Enterprise was a Hallmark Christmas tree ornament, hanging upside down in front of a speaker for the black outer space backdrop, while the camera was upside-down too to make it look like the ship was "floating" in "space." I still have this on tape somewhere.
4. What major non-U.S. city do I e-mail every day for my job?
A. Bangalore, India
B. Sydney, Australia
C. Johannesburg, South Africa
D. Toronto, Canada
The company I work for, Spheris, merged with a company called HealthScribe. HealthScribe had been founded simultaneously in Sterling, Virginia and Bangalore, India by a collection of American and Indian people involved in the transcription industry. (HealthScribe, from before the merger, gets briefly mentioned in Thomas Friedman's book The World Is Flat.) A couple of buildings-full of transcriptionists work over there, and send me e-mails about certain transcriptions that need attention on my end. I found that the people over there are actual fans of mine; we have a good working relationship.
5. How many serious girlfriends have I had?
Alicia. The F.S.O. (Former Significant Other). Frankly, I've been a distracted dumbass when it comes to dating, so I've only done it haltingly (I never got past the hanging-around-a-lot bit with one lady I was interested in, Debbie -- Debbie Weiss, I think her full name was -- of my fourth-year college dorm), but I'm glad I met Alicia. We were a couple from Janaury 1996 to July 1997; we got back in touch in '99, and we've rebuilt the friendship part of our relationship. She's neat. And I've gotten her into Monty Python, Neil Gaiman, Peter David, Danny Elfman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and Poppy Z. Brite, too.
6. Which country has a relative of mine NOT lived in?
My family members the Paulsens lived for a few years in Australia; their son, Rob Paulsen, later fell in love with Birgitte Iverson from Denmark, where they now live with their two children; and Mali is where my cousin Stephanie met her husband Paul, when they were in the Peace Corps.
7. Who have I not seen in concert?
A. Elton John
B. Tori Amos
C. Mark Knopfler
D. Tears For Fears
The first actual rock concert I attended was in late 1995, when Elton John played Portland's Memorial Coliseum. (He performed "Crocodile Rock" as a ballad then, partly so he wouldn't have to sing those high "Laaaa, la-la-la-la-laaaaas" in that song.) I saw Tori Amos at Portland's Rose Garden in 1998, and then again at the September 2005 "KINK Live" free concert in Pioneer Courthouse Square. And in 2003, that year's "KINK Live" concert featured Tears For Fears, which had reformed. (I like this: the two members of the band had decided at one point that they could be either musical partners or friends, and they decided to stay friends, so Tears For Fears stopped playing for a while.)
I've missed Mark Knopfler the last two times he's been in Portland (within the last two years, he's done a solo appearance and a joint show with Emmylou Harris). I hope to have another chance.
8. What did I NOT do?
A. Write 40 letters in six months to Dad on his last carrier cruise.
B. Go bungee-jumping.
C. Dirt-skiied on foot down a hillside.
D. Roll uphill.
I've only watched bungee-jumping -- I took photos during college of a group that bungee-jumped off a Washington State bridge. (When one guy jumped, facing the bridge, a guy as a joke suddenly jerked out his arm and said "No, wait!" The jumper screamed the whole way down.)
I wrote 40 letters (often very long, at least by high schoolers' standards) and postcards to Dad during a six-month Kennedy cruise in 1988 and '89. Dad told me later that the young men in the Air Ops center he commanded looked forward to my letters, and Dad'd read them aloud to everybody. Even then, I had an audience!
I "dirt-skiied," as I call it, during a summer camp in Virginia; I wanted to get down a steep, wooded hillside very quickly, so I sort of skiied, in my sneakers, down the slope, dodging trees and managing not to fall face-first. (See? Sometimes I'm coordinated!)
And once during a neighborhood party, where little kids were playing at the foot of another hill, I pretended that I was about to lose my balance, I fell against the grassy hill, and then used my arms to roll myself up the slope, yelling all the while. (Things like that are why I should maybe try to be a parent: kids find me entertaining.)
9. What foreign language has my writing appeared in?
D. Whatever language the Maori speak.
Two of my print articles for Film Score Monthly got combined, translated and reprinted in a Swedish-language film music magazine. I didn't know about it until a copy of the magazine arrived in the mail; the editor Lukas Kendall (a young guy, just a little younger than me in fact) had forgotten to ask me about it. He's better about this permission stuff now; he's now a record producer who releases classic film scores on limited-edition CDs.
10. The agent of which film composer once e-mailed me?
A. Howard Shore
B. Hans Zimmer
C. Danny Elfman
D. Marc Shaiman
At college I was active on a computer bulletin board discussing film music, and late in the school year I'd made a particular post explaining why I was (and remain) a huge Danny Elfman fan. (At the time Elfman was still a pretty polarizing figure among film music fandom, dismissed by some people and dogged by rumors that he didn't write his own music; FSM worked to disprove this by reprinting Elfman's original compositions from cues for Batman Returns and Black Beauty, and later when he banged out the score to Mission: Impossible in less than a month, skeptics started acknowledging "Oh, OK, he really does do his own writing.") That summer, stopping in Eugene briefly after my visit to Southern California, I logged onto my college e-mail and found this: "Thank you for the kind words. Richard Kraft." Kraft is Elfman's agent (he also represented Jerry Goldsmith and Basil Poledouris at the time); I was pleasantly surprised that he took time out to write even a short e-mail like that.
There. You now have more me-know-how.