Ask Me No Questions, I’ll Tell You I’m Out of a Job

Occasionally, as a writer and an educator, I get asked to speak about my books, do a reading, or hold a class.

Typically, I get asked questions during the end of those speaking sessions from the audience to whom I’m directing said speech.

Seldom are those questions worth sharing.

Except for the ones that make water squirt out your nose.

Below, a sampling, for your enjoyment, and as a reminder to me to always be prepared. I kid you not, I’ve been asked them all.

What sport would be the funniest to add a mandatory amount of alcohol to?

  • I’d say it’s a tie between toe wrestling and shin kicking.

What’s the weirdest smell you have ever smelled?

  • The inside of a teenaged-boy’s bedroom.

How many chickens would it take to kill an elephant?

  • The person who asked me this was definitely already three sheets to the wind.

What types of penises are typically found in Chinese three-penis liquor?

  • Unsurprisingly, I did not know the answer to this, also unsurprising, I will never research the answer.

How long can snakes survive in bottles of wine?

  • According to certain tabloids, snakes can survive the marinating in alcohol for about a year. According to anyone who knows anything about animals, it is believed that many tabloid writers are marinating in alcohol themselves when writing their drivel.

Are there real unicorn tears in Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur?

  • Well, of course there are.

If whisky could no longer be called whisky—what would it be called?

  • It doesn’t really matter, but it would still be called “frequently.”

What would be the absolute worst name you could give a whisky?

  • Weapon of Mass Deception.

Do you think hobbits or elves would make better distillery workers?

  • Actually, yeast cells are the hardest distillery workers around, as long as they are kept warm and fed and not overcome by alcohol poisoning—which sadly happens to every single one of them.

If you could make one thing whisky-flavored, what would it be?

  • Kale. Maybe more people would find it palatable.

Do these stairs go up?

  • Today only.

What time is the midnight buffet?

  • *facepalm

If you could work anywhere, where would it be? (asked right in front of my employer)

  • “Ha ha ha, such a silly question. Where else could be better? So happy.”

Would you rather have no nose or no tongue?

  • This one resulted in simply giving security a nod and then the person was searched for a weapon.

If Cognac and whisky were having a punch-up, who do you think would win?

  • What biker bar did you just come from?

When does Oktoberfest start?

  • Seriously??

Does the U.S. Government still poison alcohol?

  • Thankfully, none of the manufacturers of alcohol that I personally am acquainted with have received any demands from the government to taint our products since the end of Prohibition, but hey, these are interesting times, right?

How many bottles of whisky are exported from Scotland every second?

  • 42

Is it true that Kentucky has more barrels of bourbon than people?

  •  yes

What about Scotland?

  • 4 casks for every citizen

Why did the NATO phonetic alphabet change the “W” position from William to Whiskey?

  • A handful of letters represented by names were booted from the original string, but maybe it was their PR department hoping to beef up their “cool” factor.

How many calories does a pour of whisky contain?

  • 65 – Fewer than a banana.

I really like educating people on whisky—or stairs, or how our current calendar system works. It’s all part of a profession that allows me to pass on countless bits of information that fall under the realm of science, engineering, and occasionally, alchemy.

But whether it’s a question of biology or bullpucky, there’s a curious mind behind it. And I will always do my best (okay, almost always) to satiate that inquisitiveness. And to leave you with a quote from Roald Dahl: A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.

~Shelley

For the time being, the blog is closed to comments, but if you enjoyed it, maybe pass it on to someone else. Email it, Facebook it, or print it out and make new wallpaper for the bathroom. If it moves you, show it some love and share. Cheers!

Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all gossiped about down in the pub. Or check out last month’s post and catch up

One for the books

I love my library. And … I hate my library.

First of all, I think being offered the privilege of reading one’s way through a building full of books is a fabulous idea. Apparently, we have the Romans to thank for that. History tells us that they made scrolls available to patrons of “the baths.” As a footnote, I will not credit the Romans with the ability to laminate, but guess access to these scrolls was available after a very stern, hefty, Hellenic woman with a pinched expression and even pinchier sandals first examined your mitts and noted that you had towel dried off enough to handle the goods.

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The public libraries as we know them today might need a nod of appreciation toward the great British Empire. Noted among the upper class, the Working Joes—after absorbing the brunt of the mid 19th century’s fun festival of war, insurrection, bankruptcy and scarcity—were apparently bringing down the country’s weighty, highbrowed reputation, mostly attributed to the cachet of good breeding. A rise in IQ was exactly what the aristocracy wanted country needed.

The drive toward establishing public libraries—state run and taxpayer funded—was a growing movement. Matthew Battles, a senior researcher with metaLAB at Harvard, states that:

“It was in these years of class conflict and economic terror that the public library movement swept through Britain, as the nation’s progressive elite recognized that the light of cultural and intellectual energy was lacking in the lives of commoners.”

Time to hit the books, gents.

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I’m guessing the famous Scotsman, Andrew Carnegie, grew convinced that draping himself in the colors of silver, gold and green was unflattering, and gave away barrelfuls of anything with those pigments to communities agreeable to a few ground rules and a hope for informational ease of access. 3000 libraries later, I think the world owes him a giant thank you card. Feel free to sign it down below in the comments section. I’ll forward it on to him later.

Today, if we are to include all types of libraries (school, special, academic, government, public, etc.) we’d find the world is lucky enough to house shelf after shelf of books in roughly one million constructed centers. This number is an estimate from the OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), a group of folks who love to count as much as they love to read.

As a kid, it was a Saturday ritual that after piano lessons, the next stop was the public library. It wasn’t for me, but rather a stop off for my dad so he could get his weekly hit from his dealer librarian. Yeah, he had it bad. There were times when he was lost in the stacks for so long that I started ripping out and chewing on the pictures in cookbooks merely for sustenance. And as long as the book wasn’t a new addition to the shelves, it usually had some splatter of the previous patron’s dinner mottled across a few of the recipe pages.

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Once I moved on to college and beyond, every town I found myself employed in for longer than a matinee showing and a midnight review also found me slumped against the door of the nearest local library, waiting for the doors to open first thing the next morning. Memorizing the new string of numbers on my library card was the single most important thing to do. Then I could find an apartment.

As a parent of two children—when they were children—I attempted to make visits to the neighborhood library closely mimic an experience of meeting God at the Magic Kingdom, only without all the genuflecting and endless snaking lines thrown in. When I discovered the limit on checking out books was 75 items per patron, I think I pointed toward the back wall and said, “We’ll take that section.”

What I enjoyed most from this period of time in my life was coming upstairs to do that last sweeping check of children and the switching off of bedside lamps where I would undoubtedly find a mound of discarded books at the foot of each bed, spilling onto the floor. More often than not, one was splayed across their chests, the plot interrupted by drowsy eyes and impatient dreams.

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Today, I’m rarely in charge of checking out books for anyone other than myself, but even so, my visits tally to three times a week. I walk in with an armload of books:

One is nearly read, and I finish the last 13 pages while waiting in line, continually gesturing folks to step in front of me.

Four are due today, but I’m only one half/two thirds/six pages into the stories and will need to check with the circulation desk to see if there’s any way I can please, pretty please, I’ll get on my knees check them out again as long as there is no hold on them currently.

And three are nonfiction and much needed for research pertaining to my books, my blog, my mental health and child rearing. Always, childrearing.

I carry a hefty bag of coins which I have labeled contrition cash, or penitence pennies, and hand the librarian the loot, along with a sheepish apology for my sins against the system.

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It’s why I hate the library. Their generosity has made me a green-eyed glutton, a piggish patron, a barbaric bibliomaniac. I subscribe to all their email lists.

Fiction Best Sellers!

Staff Picks!

Books Approved by Oprah, Obama and Oh My God You Just Have To Read These!

There is so much guilt I suffer because of my library. But it’s really writers who are at fault. On the whole, we’ve got way too many stories, way too many messages, way too many words.

But I shall read on.

And I hope you will too.

~Shelley

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.