Dan Nielsen Interview with Jonathan Cardew
Thank you, Dan, for joining us for the September Issue at Connotation Press!
Your story, “If There Were A Tunnel Through The Planet It Would Whistle,” starts with a psychology quote (“Psychology, human psychology, describes a bump on the bump” -- Willard Van Orman Quine) and then continues with some psychological/philosophical examinations, such as brains not working. But, what even is psychology?
I looked it up! Psychology is the science of behavior and mind, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought.
In the story, “eggs were not a problem” yet “chickens were a problem.” What else in this world is a problem/ not a problem. A list would be fantastic!
“A problem” is what you have when you need to ask a favor of someone. “Not a problem” is what a person says when they agree to do the favor, and then again after you thank that person for the favor. A serious problem is when you ask a favor of someone and they reply, “It’s not my problem.” And yes, a list would be fantastic.
As a stand-up comedian, you know what’s funny and what isn’t funny because you are a professional. Please share some jokes in order to make us laugh.
Humor is subjective. Jokes are objective. Humor is purposefully misunderstanding the obvious. A joke is perfectly worded humor.
When a tree falls in the forest, and no one sees it, it gets back up.
Getting married for sex is like taking up golf for the free pencils.
My least favorite flavor of jelly is petroleum.
For a bug, does it hurt extra bad to get hit in the feeler?
My heroes are Icarus, Sisyphus, and The Eensy Weensy Spider.
Who is the funniest person(s) in the world?
My girlfriend Georgia when we wake up at three in the morning.
Who is the un-funniest person in the world?
Me preparing for a show.
For those not familiar with your literary work, please share a few links to give us a sampling of your style. What are you currently working on? Any stuff in the pipeline?
Okay. The five most recently published FLASH!
Fewer than 500
I’m working on a story that takes place in an “Accessory After the Fact” prison.
In the pipeline is my seventeenth consecutive rejection from Smokelong Quarterly.
Retell the Three Little Pigs story. Make it contemporary. Throw in some philosophical thinkers/ news anchors. I don’t know, sprinkle some Nielsen dust on it.
I don’t do prompts.
…said the Wolf, cigarette in hand…Thanks so much, Dan, for your time and excellent fiction!
You’re most welcome, Jonathan. I hope my answers weren’t too disappointing, but just disappointing enough.
If There Were a Tunnel Through the Planet it Would Whistle
“Psychology, human psychology, describes a bump on the bump.”
~Willard Van Orman Quine~
Garret broke four eggs into a bowl, added salt, pepper, grated Parmesan, and a dollop of cream. He whisked this until it was a yellow bubbling froth and poured it slowly into a preheated skillet coated in melted better. Allowing a moment for everything to set, he sipped whiskey over ice through a red plastic straw. Garret owned three plastic straws. The other two were blue. One was bendy. Garret was proud of his straws. The manufacture of plastic had been forbidden for decades, but the mining of plastic from the ocean bottom was still allowed, although the ocean’s stockpile of plastic was rapidly depleting.
Garret’s brain stopped working. It happened to everyone. It was a sign of the times. The eggs burned. Smoke billowed. The smoke alarm sounded. Garret saw the smoke, and heard the shrill sound, but his brain wasn’t working, so he was unable to respond.
Priscilla, Garret’s daughter, woke to the sound of the smoke alarm, sat up in bed, put on her red plastic firefighter helmet, and rushed downstairs, where she turned off the stove, climbed onto a kitchen chair, and frantically waved a dish towel until the smoke alarm silenced.
This is when Priscilla’s brain stopped working. It happened to everyone. It was a sign of the times. With her brain not working, she lost balance, fell over backward, and hit her head, hard, on the linoleum floor. The jolt caused Priscilla’s brain to work some more. It hurt. There was a bump. Priscilla started to cry, not because of the pain, or the bump, but because her firefighter helmet was broken.
The sound of Priscilla crying started Garret’s brain back up. The eggs were ruined, but eggs were not a problem. There was still a burned smell, so Garret opened the front door, and he and Priscilla stepped out onto the porch. A sea of free-range chickens covered the landscape as far as the eye could see. Chickens were a problem.
“I broke my firefighter helmet, Daddy.”
“I’m sorry, darling.”
“Will you buy me another one?”
“I would, but there are none left.”
“Then can I have one of your plastic straws?”
“No, dear, you can’t.”
Priscilla’s brain stopped working. It happened to everyone. It was a sign of the times. Garret went back inside, poured himself another glass of whiskey, and sipped it through a plastic straw, blue this time, the bendy one. He had another whiskey. And another. His brain stopped working. It happened to everyone. It was a sign of the times. He’d forgotten to close the front door. The house quickly filled with free-range chickens.