Interview by Members

Who is Iurus? Tell us about your life journey

I guess I’ll start at what is basically the beginning. I was overweight for most of my life, and none too athletic. I grew up on a top-loading Nintendo Entertainment System and whatever games could be picked up at tag sales or given for free by friends of the family. I also grew up on Power Rangers. It was during this time that poorly communicated disciplinary measures caused me to gain a deep fear of initiating a conversation revolving around my own needs or desires, to the point that, despite my lack of fear of punishment, I still often find myself freezing up when it comes to such things in person.

Thanks to Fox and Saturday morning cartoons, I developed a love for Marvel comics. From some source, I gained a large stack of trading cards with facts and images of comic characters, which I would spend hours just going through and reading. I would later continue this hobby with Wikipedia, Star Wars reference books, and similar sources.

I was mercilessly teased in middle school, a time period during which I replaced Power Rangers with Dragon Ball Z and other animé. The atmosphere of my middle school, save only when class was in session, was that of a Roast or a rap battle. To survive and to deflect attention from myself, I developed my wit, which I would later use in more benevolent punchlines.

Through middle school, I focused on JROTC and various community service activities. I had a bit of an ego in my belief that my high profile participation in Air Force JROTC outweighed the rest of my life put together- in hindsight, I should have put far more effort toward earning my Eagle Scout than anything that I did accomplish.

High school ended on a very poor note. While I remember things much better than I felt they were during the time, there were still a lot of highs my first three years. Despite hormones, emotions, loneliness and depression, I won competitions, both against other schools and to earn recognition, and I was in the best shape of my life. I had a lot of free time which I spent doing things like writing a Final Fantasy VII sequel (which I would still have if ZIP drives existed any more) and other fiction. Senior year, however, was kicked off with me being cheated out of a position I’d earned with some sort of idea that it would give me more motivation to focus on college, because everybody knows that feeling beaten and down-trodden with no hope for advancement motivates you (I really couldn’t see past high school and JROTC at that point anyway). In addition to the professional betrayals, personal ones became mixed in and I became angry and hateful, which caused the shattering of some relationships with people who were only tangentially involved in any of the conflicts.

I spent a year developing that hate, listening to a lot of heavy diss records. It was during this time that I lost a lot of respect for authority and conventions of any sort. I spent my last summer at Boy Scout Camp, this time as a staff member, and was completely frustrated at the way some paramilitary customs were followed halfway, and some not at all, further pushing me away at a time when grey area was not something I could stomach. I went to college and, frustrated that I could not afford my books and nobody seemed interested in helping, I failed, horribly.

I returned home, picking up my old job with a fervor and showing that I could still take responsibility. I earned my way up to a shift leader and, recently, an Assistant Manager. In the meantime, I held another part time job, and joined NJOE. From NJOE I joined a group of roleplaying sites. We formed a tight community- despite all that’s come since, I would say two of the people I met at this time make joining probably the best decision I ever made. Personal enmities that I did not even know existed, however, caused a split among the high-level administration, resulting in myself and those who would side with me to be forced from the site, and its eventual slow death. I once again grew bitter- job stress, questions brought up by the whole event and the loss of those I considered friends added up. In the midst of this, issues I had no control over caused even more stress, and I can’t really remember how I recovered from that other than to hunker down and let shit happen while trying not to respond too drastically. Eventually things evened out, and I emerged even more determined to do something meaningful with my writing. And now I’m here.

Who is your idol/role model?

I’ve had many role models throughout the years. At the end of high school through my entry into management it was Hap Arnold, leader of the Army Air Forces during World War II. In all honesty, I can’t remember anything else about him today. My role model today, I would probably say, is Tupac Shakur for his political, musical and activist history. On a more down to Earth scale, I look up to the accomplishments of people like Lewis Lovhaug (better known as Linkara) of Atop the 4th Wall, who not only runs a popular webshow, but has also published 3 books and an e-comic and writes for two webcomics, in addition to further aspirations and a day job.

You meet a sage upon the path. What does he tell you?

Why oh why were you driving down the sidewalk?

What inspires you: emotionally, creatively and spiritually?

I have a lot of things going on, and therefore a lot of things inspire me. The largest inspiration, perhaps no surprise to a good many of you, is coffee. Why coffee? It gets my blood flowing, wakes me up, and keeps me that way. Ideas that otherwise might have slid to the side are brought to the forefront, and things I might have procrastinated on are the first things I do. Similarly, a long walk will have me exploring several different universes and futures along its course.

As for more mundane forms of inspiration, they’re pretty numerous, but pretty standard. A very well written novel that engages me and takes the story in unexpected directions will fuel me up to write for days. I tend to have an obsessive nature, which means that if something catches my interest in an unexpected way, it will hold that interest and boost it for a long time. Listening to a well crafted Hip Hop album with creative and complex lyrics will have me freestyling in the shower or any other time when I’m alone for an extended period, while an extraordinary manga will have me sitting down to draw at my next opportunity.

Basically, then, a list of my inspirations would be a list of my interests: engaging Star Wars, Final Fantasy, Eminem, KRS-ONE, Manga and some Western comics. I watch several webshows at ThatGuyWithTheGlasses and Cinemassacre, and each time they do something new and unexpected I’m inspired to think of something new of my own, or to use their idea in a new way.

I also tend to introspect most of everything I see. Final Fantasy X, for example, has resulted in a lot of religious and philosophical contemplation of mine, as do most Light vs Dark themed works. It’s really a better question as to what does not inspire me in these ways, especially when it comes to discussing real or fictional religions.

What is the biggest turn off (in other people)?

Ignorance, bigotry and so-called “enlightened” bigotry (such as “God hates Fags”).

When people mispronounce your username (Iurus) does it piss you off immensely, make you laugh like an evil madman, or both?

Depending on my humor at the moment, I can do either of the two. It makes me a little sad, though, that so few people have the background in basic languages to pronounce it and that so many people would resort to shortcuts (not pronouncing letters) to make it easier. It also makes me fear that in their position, I might do the same.

Have you counted how many times people have asked you how to pronounce it?

Not really, though looking back I would say 5-7 times in 2008 and 2009.

What is the most disgusting thing you have ever eaten?


What is love?

Seriously, Love. Well, I could describe it biologically (no, I don’t mean THOSE nasty details ) Love is anger while you’re happy. Love is when your heart gets pumping, you start breathing faster, and there’s a smile on your face while you’re with someone you care about.

Beyond that, it’s difficult to quantify. For years I described love as caring very much if someone lives or dies, or rather, specifically not wanting them to die. This comes to a problem when you get to people who do not want someone to die for strictly selfish reasons (I do not certain people to die because it may deprive me of entertainment) or those who are actually good enough people that they do not want Person A on the street to die, specifically. Is Love wanting somebody to be happy? Again, some people want everybody on Earth to be happy. Love is something specifically suited to your personality.

For me? Love is if I would fight on your side if I have nothing to do with it. If I have love for you, I would risk my life to defend you if I am not involved. If I do not have love for you (as compared to having no love, where I’m completely apathetic to your fate), then I might be sympathetic, but I’ll take account of my limited resources and deny them to you. Then you get into more advanced love, romantic love, etc. At the same time, if I have love for you, I will be willing to suffer for your mere happiness, which is basically a struggle I am not involved in. There are members of this board that know I would be willing to deprive myself of things, knowing that their happiness is more important to me than mine. I suppose the romantic issue comes in when I would let everything else I care for go without my resources for the sake of The One (no, neither Neo nor Jet Li fit this description).

If you could have a dinner party and invite five people from anywhere and anytime, who would you invite? And who would cook?

If we’re talking people I don’t know, from all of history, I would probably go with Thomas Jefferson, Malcolm X, Tupac Shakur, Natalie Portman, and Marshal Mathers (Eminem). I would probably cook, though I would presume Natalie and Eminem would likely have some surprising insights, and Malcolm, 2Pac and Eminem would likely have some AMAZING ideas for appetizers, snacks and the like. You know what I mean.

If you have one, or have ever thought about it, what is your spiritual animal guide? Why?

I would have to pick between the dolphin and the eagle, two masters of their elements who have always inspired me. The dolphin is intelligent and quirky, and can be very playful or dead serious- which I’m learning is true of myself as well. The eagle is more on the serious side, as well as my obsessive and dedicated side (in the form of patriotism). He also has the sternness I relate to, and the vision, while not directly relatable to me, that often symbolizes mental prowess. More on point, I’ve always dreamed of the freedom each of these experience, the dolphin under water and the eagle in the air, which makes them a fitting guide.

What is your favorite book of all time? Can you live your life by this book? If not, what book do you live your life by (assuming you live your life by a book)?

My favorite book of all time… well, I’m looking at the question below. I can’t really pick a favorite. A book to live my life by… well, there was a time when I would have said Path of Destruction. Now, I have to admit, I’ve grown used to some human comforts, and I’d rather not live my life that way, unless I had no choice but to removed from the important people in my life. I can’t really think of a single book I’d live my life off of every day. If you’re alone, life comes into simple terms. You can choose a simple thing that makes you happy, and live as an emotionless husk without it bothering you, or anyone else. Then, you can live by words of wisdom. If you have people that expect you to be there for them… well, you’re pretty much on your own. Sorry if that’s a cop out.

Five favorite books. Go.

Without rereading each one, I would say…

Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor – While this could very well be the fog of time speaking, Mindor by Matt Stover does seem to be my favorite Star Wars (and science fiction) novel of all time. This may not be the case, but it’s very well up there in any event.

Silence of the Lambs – Silence is very deserving of its status as the center of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter novels, and the only one I’ve never seen on clearance. It gives a startling and fascinating look into the human psyche.

IT – Following the trend of one each, Stephen King’s IT is my favorite horror novel- a work about the battle against fear itself. How can it not earn its place on this list?

The Fellowship of the Ring – In contrast to Mindor, Tolkien’s classic may be one I’m viewing through the drunk goggles of nostalgia. I don’t think so, however- Fellowship told a better story than The Hobbit and was more interesting and character-based than either of its successors. When I visualize the saga in my mind, more than half of it seems to be events depicted in Fellowship.

Homeland – Yes, I know I’m cheating here- there are two fantasy works. But the Dark Elf Trilogy and Lord of the Rings are very different approaches to very similar fantasy mythos, and I feel each of these pulled their weight sufficiently to make it onto the list.

Building off of that question, what’s the most intellectually stimulating book you’ve ever read and why?

Can I go the easy route and say The Elegant Universe? You don’t get much more intellectual than that without a degree in physics. And no, I don’t feel Fabric of the Cosmos was quite as good.

Why do you like rap so much?

Let’s start off with a disclaimer. I’m not the type to react silently to any and all Hip Hop being referred to as rap. Yes, The vocal style is indeed referred to as “rapping”, but much of the music with rapping in it that I listen to is not rap. There are many different definitions of what separates rap from Hip Hop, but basically, if it’s violent, crime-related and/or dance music, and/or has lots of mainstream appeal, it’s probably rap.

In general, though, I am a huge fan of Hip Hop beats. I’m talking about the classic beats, drum-heavy, before the influence of producers like Dr Dre and Jermaine Dupris. I do love Dre’s beats, of course, but nothing beats a classic New York style beat any more than you can beat a classic New York style pizza.

The act of rapping itself appeals to me much more than singing as well- it’s almost always faster, which appeals to me much more than the dragging sound of a lot of singing. It’s generally easier to understand, though I’d have to say that’s an acquired taste- before you start listening to one, neither the average singer, nor the average rapper (outside of pop and some similar genres) can be easily understood.

I’m also drawn by the lyrical artistry found in some Hip Hop. From 1987 onward, rap has produced some of the most creative strings of rhymes and metaphors known to man, in flow form.

As far as the content, I have no choice but to be drawn to the urban focus of the entire Hip Hop genre (and this is where rap specifically comes in). It’s what you know. I don’t know anything about Tainted Love or about I Want it That Way or some such nonsense. But I do know what it’s like to not know where your next meal is coming from, to be broke and consider the ups and downs of drug-slinging, and to wish you could just empty a clip into the face of the next person down the line.

I’m not the type to view entertainment as an escape. Instead, I see it as more of a fantasy- you can witness and partake in things that would be outside your comfort zone in real life. Characters die and while you don’t lose anyone you can touch and talk to, you can still feel the emotions caused by it. As long as it’s believable, the more extreme, the better. That’s why I’m a fan of slasher movies, and that’s where gangsta rap comes in. Any way that I can experience my anger (or other emotions) in a medium that I enjoy is a serious plus. Definitely better than going on a killing spree next time I have to deal with a customer.

Tell me what you know about the music you listen to.

Well, as some of you may know, the 19th of April saw the passing of hip hop pioneer, Keith Elam, AKA Guru (formally of Gang Starr), so I’m going to try to build this response around him. A proportionate amount of this answer will be given to hip hop and rap, with the remainder shared between anything and everything else I listen to.

Along this path, I’m going to give some background into two groups that heavily influenced hip hop of the late 1980s and 1990s: the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers. Both of these were aggressive movements, one religious and one political, involved in the Civil Rights movement of the mid to late 20th century. The Black Panthers developed an angry, outspoken way of communicating their political aims and their choice conspiracy theories (some, of course, true, though I don’t necessarily believe all of them), which not only caused a stigma as more pacifistic people began to believe the Panthers to be an extremist group in counter to the KKK, but the approach and the movement’s eventual success also caused a lot of members and their offspring to believe that the most confrontational path to automatically be the best. The Black Panthers went on to have their ideology conveyed through rappers such as New York hip hop group Public Enemy and rapper 2Pac (son of Black Panther Afeni Shakur) while the Nation of Islam went on to influence the community in another way.

The Nation of Islam was an offshoot of Islam, which was in essence a variation of Islam with the added message that not only were black people the original humans, they were also by definition created to be superior, and whites to be inferior. Whether this was simply one man and his followers’ racist beliefs, or a direct response to the racist policies of the United States in this era is debatable, but its drawings from orthodox (going off my own knowledge, I’m unaware as to whether there are any Shiite or Sunni leanings) Islam were enough to draw a sizable following to the group. Malcolm X, of course, came to be the Nation’s best known spokesperson, and it’s very telling that he eventually came to leave the Nation and convert to real Islam. Still, during his better known period as the effective second in command of the Nation of Islam, he built it into a formidable force under the slogan “by any means necessary”, drawing many of the same supporters that supported the Black Panther Party, and later political hip hop.

If nothing else, one positive effect the Nation had on the American black community was to increase the spread of Islamic teachings in the western hemisphere. I say this is positive because many young and angry people- such as rappers Ice Cube and MC Ren- converted to this religion, whose teachings greatly tempered their outrage and had the effect of many peace treaties among people who, if motivated, could have thrown the urban centers of the nation into a war zone with their newfound wealth- wealth earned through expression of the same beliefs that catapulted their predecessors into national light.

One group founded during this time was the Nation of Gods and Earths. I’m not very familiar with the Nation at this time, other than that it holds at least some superficial similarities to the Nation of Islam (Pro-black teachings drawing from Islam, the usage of “X” in leaders’ names, and the “Nation” title) that have drawn criticism from Muslims in general, and that the late Guru was a member of this group and professed an approval of the Nation of Islam. This draws an archetype which complements what I know of the MC from his lyrics: it says that he has a degree of pro-black political leanings, a very likely distaste of recreational drug use (although a look at Ice Cube’s lyrics tells us that’s not necessarily true) and, most importantly in my eyes, motivation not to bring feuds, at least those against other members of the black community such as his quiet feud with fellow Gang Starr alumnus DJ Premier to violence.

The Civil Rights movement is a huge influence to hip hop, but it’s not the only one. When you step back, past the literate and political inspirations, the pro-Africa and anti-oppression rap, hip hop music comes from another demographic. When southern gospel music (you can’t watch a movie about a black person in the Civil Rights era without seeing this, and for good reason), Civil Rights and the same situation that featured in 1961’s West Side Story, the stage is set for not only inspirational and political hip hop, but also gangsta rap of different varieties. Needless to say, there is some overlap. A perfect example of this is the music of 2Pac: on his first LP, 1991’s 2Pacalypse Now, you can find the very Panther “Rebel of the Underground,” the social commentary “Brenda’s Got a Baby”, and a smattering of tracks such as “I Just Don’t Give a F#<&”, simply expressing the feelings of an urban youth in a tight spot. This isn’t uncommon among hip hop artists- while many prefer, like Too Short, prefer to stick to one demographic, many acclaimed MCs have universal goals.

Because of its roots, hip hop, unlike a lot of musical genres, is not primarily a field of entertainment. It is becoming (some could say “growing into”) such a field, but its purest form is political expression. While there has always been an entertainment element in hip hop music, it originated as a way of expressing ideas- modern folk lore and inspiration, etc. As time goes on, a divide is growing between hip hop purists (also called hip hop heads) and rappers. Tradition and skill favor the purists, but economy favors the entertainers, as it always has.

Now you see, hopefully, why I’ve primarily focused on the intellectual predecessors to hip hop, rather than the musical. The music origins of hip hop are pretty varied, from the aforementioned gospel music, to African music (reintroduced by the political movement surrounding the Black Panthers and those with similar ideas) and Caribbean sounds, to older forms of American music such as jazz, blues and classic rock.

One thing I see as a great strength of a genre that is primarily vocally defined is the fact that hip hop music can encompass a wide variety of instrumental beats and maintain its identity. Rap pioneers Run-DMC forewent standard hip hop beats to a large extent in favor of rock instrumentals of the era (which gained them a lot of success in the iconic collaboration “Walk this Way”), and part of Gang Starr’s goal was to combine rap and jazz music (Guru’s first LP was titled Jazzmatazz). Listening to modern songs such as Jay-Z’s “DOA (Death of Autotune)”, I would have to say the approach worked. As a huge fan of Malcolm X’s autobiography, I can’t help but picture Malcolm X bobbing his head and/or dancing when I hear a political 16 over a jazzy beat.

Ah, the Hot 16. I’m sure this counts, right? Hip hop music keeps its rhythm close to the chest, and as such its lyrics are normally defined by the number of “bars” on a sheet of music it covers. A standard verse in hip hop (even more so in more commercialized rap music) is sixteen bars. The “hook”, or catchy, repeated part between verses (which is sometimes still called a chorus but rarely actually is so) can be as long as the verse or much shorter, but is almost always in some multiple of 4 bars, which is enough to sing or rap a full line at average speed allow with an accompanying, rhyming line (although that’s not always the case). This puts a “standard” (which is used as just another word for median anyway) complete rap song at 96 bars, plus a 4 bar instrumental intro and a similar outro. It’s for this reason that a 100 bar coherent rap with no hook is considered an accomplishment and often used on an album of a rapper attempting to prove their superior lyrical ability.

Hip hop originated, allegedly in the Bronx (is that battle over yet?), although the only confirmed location that I know of was New York City, during the mid-to-late 1970s. I’m not sure when exactly it first started (and by the wording of the question I’m certainly avoiding Wikipedia for purposes of answering this question). What I do know for certain is that the first hip hop hit to reach national acclaim, to the point that it’s still beloved today and appeared in movies as late as Kangaroo Jack, was created by the Sugarhill Gang of Sugarhill Records in 1978 or 1979: “Rapper’s Delight”. This is also quite possibly one of the longest raps without a hook of all time. The impact of this track is unquestionable: how many of us have not heard some mention of the “hotel, motel or Holiday inn” (Say what?).

While the members of the Sugarhill Gang went along with their careers, the loud and catchy tunes of Run-DMC placed them at the forefront of their era’s rap pioneers: those who would become considered the earliest pioneers of modern hip-hop grew up listening to Run-DMC. At this point, every MC that earned some attention was changing the game in some way: Public Enemy came on the scene, as did Eric B. & Rakim and Boogie Down Productions. The art of rhyming as we know it was changed, with 1987’s Paid in Full by Eric B. & Rakim introducing complicated rhymes and flow that would become expected of any MC attempting to earn respect in the game. BDP on the East Coast and Ice T on the West Coast pioneered gangsta rap, which proved to have so much appeal among the urban youth that the genre, which some predicted would lose all popularity as early as the mid-90s, is still going strong. Emerging rap group N.W.A. (Ni##@$ With Attitude) catapulted this to national attention with tracks like “F^&< The Police”, a track about corrupt police and brutality that saw not only a “Cease and Desist” request from the FBI but also police nation-wide pulling their security from NWA concerts.

This was the first of several content-related issues surrounding rap music. Rap groups Geto Boys and Too Live Crew had to fight uphill battles against censorship in the music industry after raps depicting acts of violence and sex (specifically in the Geto Boys case, depicting murder and necrophilia in the same song) saw them struggling to maintain a contract. Not long after, rapper 2Pac faced an even more serious case as a mugger claimed that listening to his record, 2Pacalypse Now, was what inspired and motivated him to commit his crime. Nor would these be the last similar cases put against a musical genre whose primary selling point was its graphic depiction of both life and fantasy of the youth living in the most violent regions of the country- youth still faced with racism in many places.

While West Coast Gangsta Rap dominated the rap scene for the closing of the 1980s, in the early 1990s the breaking apart of N.W.A. also saw the breaking apart of the focus of the rap genre. While deeper hip hop was not completely forgotten, even K.R.S. ONE, who had begun to lose fans due to being too preachy in his music, was absorbed into the gangsta rap scene. On the East Coast, rappers such as Mobb Deep, Nas, Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z adapted popular gangsta rap into mafioso style rap. Rather than focusing on the here and now, the violence on the streets and struggles with the police and rival crews, their lyrics took on a more fictional quality by combining the real with the more glamorous gangster life style of the movies- specifically, films such as Scarface. On the West Coast, the separation of producer Dr Dre and political gangsta lyricist Ice Cube from Ruthless Records and Dre’s team up with fellow West Coast group 213 led to the birth of G-funk, a rapping style that focused on smooth beats, shifting the prime lyrical content from violence and anger to sex and drugs. The former members of N.W.A. (save DJ Yella) and their respective labels (Death Row Records, Ruthless Records, and Da Lench Mob) each pioneered their own version of G-funk, and all went on to become platinum selling artists in their own right.

While the early 90s is considered the end of the “Hip Hop Golden Age” as lyrical content devolved into a more entertainment focus, but it’s also when hip hop really started to diversify. The pioneers of the late 80s- Ice T, the members N.W.A., K.R.S.-ONE and Rakim, among others, were continuing on as experienced rappers, while new groups such as the Wu-Tang Clan, a new crop of New York MCs and the proteges of the former NWA members were all revolutionizing the game in their own ways. While most of the old rapper-DJ groups, such as Eric B & Rakim and Boogie Down Productions, were starting to break apart for one reason or another, newcomers Mobb Deep and veterans Gang Starr maintained the tradition on the East Coast Coast, while rapper Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre and lyricist The D.O.C. formed an unofficial group for the releases of The Chronic and Doggystyle, cementing the place of Death Row Records on the West Coast and in music history.

Speaking of Death Row, one can not speak on Hip Hop without speaking of the East Coast-West Coast beef. This is not the only real confrontation of this sort in rap, but it’s certainly the biggest profile as well as being the realest. The beef itself started with comments made by executives on both Coasts- this could be chalked up to a marketing scheme, but when comments are made by a well-known thug like Suge Knight, one wonders. Shots were fired in the way that anonymous youths will vandalize inanimate objects that may or may not contain real people whether they’re thugs or not, though events like that continued to increase the spotlight on the event. When two larger-than-life friends from either Coast turned on one another- 2Pac blamed Notorious B.I.G. when he was robbed and shot by a gang wearing his J.U.N.I.O.R. M.A.F.I.A. crew’s colors- the feud really blew up. Disses were traded back and forth- mostly by 2Pac, who had always been vocal about his beliefs in addition to being the combination Plies, 50 Cent and T.I. of his day. The tragic finale of the story, of course, is that both rappers ended up shot and killed (though not before ‘Pac recorded a buffer of raps that would last him ten years), and neither killer was caught.

Now, I did promise to comment on the rest of what I listen to. Let’s see, what do I know. I know that AC-DC often released two or three albums in different parts of the world with the same title, with different track lists and that any one country’s album collection will not include all of their released songs. I know that every completely dissimilar rock song that I liked without originally knowing who made it was made by Queen. Finally, I know that otherwise enjoyable rock often prefers an extended instrumental to a hook, which can be pretty frustrating to someone who looks for structured music.

Beer, wine, or spirits?

I generally prefer the taste, mixability and speed of liquor, but I’ve been known to indulge in all three.

If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be?

I’m going to restrict myself from any obvious answers here- nobody that I know but have yet to meet, for example. Those people aside, I would want to speak to a down to Earth person with the resources to make a difference. Depending on the scale, that could be Nas, the Obamas, or Oprah, with perhaps your Jon Stewarts and Natalie Portmans in between.

If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?

I’d like to be Cthulhu. Can I do that?

What kind of job do you see yourself having ten years from now?

Probably something I’m not particularly in love with, with a lower paying activity on the side.

You seem to like that horrid Marakin theory. Why is this? Simply because you are an evil, twisted person?

Solely because MizzeeOH seems to enjoy it so much.

Do you speak another other languages that is not English ?

I speak Spanish, to a degree.

What is so funny it makes you hysterical ?
Depends more on my state of mind than anything else. There are a few things that will always get a laugh out of me, but nothing that will necessarily surpass that I can think of.

What makes you afraid ?
It depends on what you mean by “afraid”. I have a bit of a social phobia; I have a general nervousness when it comes to a lot of social situations. If you mean the most literal definition of fear (anxiety in response to something) then I’m afraid of dealing with a lot of deadlines. Beyond those things, though, not much.

What are your top ten favorite movies?

A Nightmare on Elm Street – Everything about this movie is excellent. It’s suspenseful, scary, gory without being gratuitous (same with every other adult feature about it); it’s psychological and surreal. Not to mention Nancy and Freddy. Certainly one of the best horror films of all times, and possibly one of the best movies ever.

Hellraiser – One of the competing horror films. Clive Barker takes horror in new directions with familiar twists. In the end, we get something of a predecessor to the “torture porn” genre without much torture porn, though it could possibly have used some. We have interesting and compelling characters, strange creatures and a real sense of fear of the unknown. Also, one of the few movie adaptations to actually improve on the source material.

Scarface – Yet another classic. Sorry if this list is a little generic, but there’s a reason these movies are so beloved. Scarface is the American dream gone wrong- it’s the rise to the top and a crash to the bottom. The amazing thing is that in so many ways, Al Pacino is so unlikeable in this movie, and yet he still manages to hook the audience in.

Empire Strikes Back – The Star Wars films are the only ones I’m making any attempt to place in order, if only because they share a genre and are therefore much easier to compare. I already gave my opinion on Empire – at least, why I consider it above the rest of the trilogy.

Return of the Jedi – This is probably the most rounded overall Star Wars film. It deals with both the underground and the Sith; it’s got Jedi mystique, melee combat with both the mundane and the nigh omnipotent, politics, space combat, has a lot of perilous scenes, raises the stakes and ends with an overall good feeling.

Star Wars – The only downside with the original Star Wars is that I always start to get bored right around the middle- after Obi-Wan dies, but before pilots start to die against the Death Star. This isn’t an issue I had with the first viewing, but it takes this otherwise spectacular work of art and lowers it beneath its successors. Something about the way the movie follows a single course, with little in the way of breaks, makes it drag a bit. Otherwise, of course… it’s Star Wars. I don’t need to tell you why it earns a spot on this list.

Men in Black – I love any film Will Smith is in. Men in Black happens to feature not only serious and comical Will Smith, but also Science Fiction, a dark tone largely lacking in its successor, and the best Tommy Lee Jones I’ve ever seen. I’m actually looking forward to the possible third in this series, although none will ever top the original. Finally threw in a surprise, right?

Alien – A slasher film about an alien. People disagree with me on this, but as far as I’m concerned Alien and Jaws are both slasher films. Very good ones. The xenomorph is very well done, as are the characters. The chest burster is one of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history.

The Dark Knight – Very rarely can one sit down to a superhero film and expect something as cerebral as this. I recently witnessed a coworker calling his brother a nerd for going to the midnight showing of Iron Man 2, and was shocked because I’ve come to think of superhero flicks as pure popcorn films, with nothing in them whatsoever for the traditional nerd or comic fan audience. TDK, on the other hand, while it has its flaws in a comic sense, transcends what I see as the standard for superhero movies and becomes something else: a great movie that happens to star (and get its name and advertising from) a superhero.

Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill – These two three movies get shared billing. When I first considered what Quentin Tarantino movie was my favorite, I gravitated toward Kill Bill Part 2. Part 1 was a close second. Why? Certain scenes, epic fights, and surprises. Thinking back, though, or on a rewatch? Surprises are only entertaining a second time if you’re in a certain mindset, and epic fights… well, the person who introduced me to what I’ve seen of the Rocky films skipped literal ly every scene except for the climax of each film. Goes to show you what great fights do to the quality of the movie overall, right? (Except I’ve heard the first two or so Rocky films actually do pretty well in that department.) Instead, the Quentin Tarantino movie I find myself with the most urge to rewatch is Pulp Fiction. Sure, there are some parts I’d cut out and replace, but all in all it’s a very down to Earth, yet badass film. I think I see Pulp the same way a lot of people would see your buddy cop movies, or other action comedies- it’s down to Earth enough to pull you in, but outrageous enough to keep you laughing.

What is your favorite horror movie?

A Nightmare on Elm Street. See above.

You seem to be a bit of a horror movie fan. Do you have a “first horror movie” moment to share?

I sincerely doubt this is the first horror film I watched, or even the first I watched completely and intentionally. But the first time I remember seeking a horror film out with the intention of watching it was shortly after the release of Freddy vs Jason on DVD. I had heard things the prior Halloween about the “Big Three” (Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers) and my first opportunity to see them in action (with… other forms of action that appealed to my 15 year old brain) I was mesmerized. I spent a good deal of time after that seeking out slasher films, coming across in February of 2005… and the rest, as they say, is history.

Do you believe in Mob Mentality? And will it be the downfall of America?

I don’t believe it will be. I believe Mob Mentality has been the downfall of America for centuries. If every individual lived in an ideological vacuum, I don’t think enlightened and rational decisions would remain in the minority.

Health care your thoughts?

I just got a very nice insurance plan. So my thoughts are nonexistent at the moment until I get a chance to sit down and read the Bill that passed (I guess now it’s an Act?).

In general, though.

I believe Health Care should be available to all. If the money’s not there, maybe the poor don’t need their decent hospital food (by “decent” I mean better than you could buy cheap on their home street). I get it, that’s the way it goes. Maybe the poor don’t need the best possible treatment. But they deserve not to die. Leave it at that. That goes for those who go to the hospital and are discovered that they’re going to be arrested for dealing drugs or going to be deported: make them Not Dead first. Maybe their life sucks; if we can’t afford to fix it, we can’t. But whether or not they survive, if it can be helped, should not destroy their ability to eat for the rest of the year, or it shouldn’t be a question of their current checking account size.

But no, I don’t believe we should just expect the money to come magically. I agree with the decision to cut back on the shuttle program for now. I think a few more projects like that- nice things for an economic leader but unnecessary ones right now- ought to get the same trim treatment for about eight years, and then it will be feasible.

If you could have one super power what would it be?

Depending on the limit of the scope of said power, manipulation of time would be very nice. If I could just get an extra hour a day and an extra day a week, I could accomplish a whole lot more in life. If applied phlebotinum is not your cup of tea, however (and I would consider the Force to be cheating) I think a spot of telekinesis would do the trick nicely. Not only would it be useful at work, but things I otherwise couldn’t do (or be seen doing) would become simple.

Immortality is within your grasp, but no one else will have it. Do you take the ability to live forever or do you not?

My only consideration here is the one that Arwen was faced with in Return of the King– and as long as that consideration is there, my choice would match hers.

Is destiny real? Do we ever have a choice or is everything predetermined?

I wouldn’t say pre-determined. Every event is a sum of dozens to thousands of variables that determine one another. Whether some of these are actually random is something scientists have and will continue to debate for millennia, but I’m of the opinion that when enough seemingly random variables interact with one another the result is suitably unpredictable as to be random. Human thought can not be controlled or predicted fully enough not to be considered free.

What has been the funniest moment in your life?

What comes to mind is a moment of dishonest victory that caused many people happiness but might not be wise to repeat here without more context than I am prepared to give. Suffice it to say I never got caught.

Describe an average day in the life of Iurus, please.

An average day, of course, changes by the month. At least, it should. I’d like to think I’m improving and refining myself as time goes on.

As of this past month, though, if I’m not working early in the morning, I wake up at about ten to eleven o’clock. (My schedule varies- I usually work one day from nine a.m. to eleven p.m., two nights from three to eleven, one day nine to five, and either a mid shift or another open or close on Friday.) I exchange some personal text messages, and likely some with my boss, who does not seem to realize that I would have to run the store better than he does (maybe not better than he used to, but better than he does now) for him to be satisfied with the way I do things. I make some coffee and have breakfast, and usually check NJOE, FE, usually my WP Dashboard and my emails. I make any relevant replies, and stretch, hopefully do some crunches and push-ups. I do some housework if I have time, then I sit down to focus on writing (or, possibly, some drawing). I would say I usually produce about 1,500 words a day, though not necessarily on a single project. At about one p.m., I’ll start ironing my uniform, showering, etc., to make it to work.

At work, the first thing I do is check the condition of the store. I’m usually interrupted during this process as many as three times and therefore do not always finish. If anything needs to be done outside the building, such as getting change from the bank or buying light bulbs, I try to do that first thing while there are still two managers on duty. Once I return, the focus is on getting everything possible prepared for the dinner rush. I continue being interrupted from whatever I’m doing about once every ten minutes, and this will continue for the busy hours and pick up again right when I start doing paperwork for the night. I spend the rest of the time making sure product is ready, available, properly made and not expired, as well as supervising and coaching customer service and overseeing any cleaning that needs to be done before the end of the night cleaning begins.

Anyhow, eventually I finish work. Hopefully the store is in the state that it should be- it seems that anything I forget to check, no matter how many things are right otherwise, is always the thing that is not done properly. I exchange some texts as I wrap up, drop off the deposit, and return home to once again, check all of my sites and messages as well as get into my usual late night chats and possibly enter a chat room or so. I watch the latest episodes of my webshows, and then it’s off to bed.

Five years from now, what do you think you’ll be up to?

Hopefully a better car, different home and with at least a fraction of a second stream of income.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I am a very angry person, and several members of NJOE will testify that I had to sit down with a group to decide what thing causes small enough anger to be considered a pet peeve. I’m sure most of you will agree that something that sends me flying into a murderous rage probably doesn’t count as a pet peeve. After some deliberation, I would probably say… it is Pink. No, I do not automatically hate the color pink. I have no problem with people who enjoy pink, be they male or female. My problem is with Pink as an entity. In the words of the great sorcerer Zordon, “Too much Pink power is dangerous.” My issue is the Disney Princess phenomenon- hundreds of young girls taught from their first day in the hospital that Pink defines who they are. Girls taught from the age of six that their goal in life is to be a bride wearing makeup and heels. That is Pink, my sworn enemy.

What is your favourite foodstuff?

I would say chocolate is the one thing I consistently love.

Who has made the biggest effect on your life?

There are several people whom I’ve thought about mentioning. There’s the boy who was my rival from ages 9-17, who then grew to become my hated enemy and is now somebody whom I hope never to see again and will remain out of control of my actions if I do.

Then I considered to name the person who acted as a role model to me when I was in my early teens; a person who embodied all of the qualities I wished for in myself, including success. Then I learned that he, like myself later on, broke when all of his eggs being in one basket failed spectacularly. He’s actually achieved success of a sort, but not what he wanted in high school.

I considered naming two of my close friends from different eras: the person I was close with through her suicide attempt and my own consideration of such, whom I grew somewhat estranged from but is still my homegirl, and of course the friend who acted as a therapist and grew into one of my two best friends.

But all of those effects are in the past, even if we remain close friends. There’s one other person who had the same kind of effect on me in the past. But her effects will last much farther than that… at the very least, she will continue to change my life every day for the next several years. Hopefully, though, it will be several decades.


What is your favourite memory?

I actually declared this one time, but I forgot what it was. It may have been the best event I ever attended without settling into a deep depression during or after the fact. This event would be Comic-Con International 2009 and the accompanying dinners and breakfasts. If I have anything else that competes, it’s probably close to the same time period.

Have you ever been to a strip joint?

Yes. Twice.

What was the worst thing you’ve ever had to do for work?

I work in fast food, deal with troublesome and upset customers, and manage a crew that ranges from those too young and spoiled to understand real work to those too old to learn a third word of English. You tell me.

Humanity has just made first contact with alien life: what is your first thought?

What side did Cochrane’s coin land on again?

What is your favorite color?

Black. It’s dramatic, badass and darkness makes me feel comfortable. Plus, it’s multi-functional and slimming.

What is your political affiliation and why?

I am an independent. I believe that politics, Political Science and the party system are a mockery of the United States Constitution and that the Founding Fathers would have written them out of the Constitution had they foreseen them. Secondly, I believe the parties and the two party system are directly responsible for the current mess in Congress and are needlessly divisive as neither group shares a 100% uniform ideology.

If you can resurrect one person from the dead, who will it be ?

If I could resurrect one person from the dead… this might seem rather cliché, but I think I would like to see the state of the world (well, the United States) if Tupac Shakur had remained alive and become a public servant as he had planned.

What do you think the afterlife will be like (if you think the afterlife exists)

I would actually find it much easier to accept that life ends at death, but I don’t believe without reservation for that to be the case.

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