In which we ask the same questions Teen magazine asked then-soon-to-be-pregnant teen idol Jamie Lynn Spears; see original interview here.
Perhaps you've read the poems of Michael Robins in the best-known literary journals (Typo, Verse, Milk, Diagram). Or maybe you've read Robins' first book, The Next Settlement, which won the Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry. Or maybe you're just curious about this dude who writes, as his book's jacket copy reads, "enigmatic scenes [that] are masterfully rendered with a photographer’s eye." Or maybe you want read how Robins writes, as this guest blogger might put it, "fucked-up lyrics for a fucked-up age."
Well, either way, trust me: it's important that we ask Michael Robins, who lives in Chicago where he teaches at Columbia College, who has just come back from reading at Lewis University, and who helps edit literary journal bornmagazine, these Really Important Questions.
Despite the time difference, Michael assured us that he was fully clothed during our phone conversation. And, considering his dynamite answers, we're glad he was!
BAPB: You’re in Jr. High, right?
MR: Indeed. It’s been difficult during the last few decades, repeating the 8th grade year after year while my teachers get younger and younger, but I’m also fortunate that the eligibility rules for middle school football are ambiguous at best. At 6 foot and 170 pounds, I’m proud to have beaten our rivals two of the last five seasons.
What are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to the end of this interview so I can get back to my homework.
What kind of car do you want?
Anything that reflects my hobbies: walks on beaches, Bill Murray, fluffy kittens.
What's your favorite subject?
What’s your favorite subject?
Do you play any sports?
Do you always answer a question with a question?
You ever heard of kickboxing? Sport of the future? Don the Dragon Wilson? Benny "the Jet" Urquidez? Mercy Mess on the Champions of Sport? I can see by your face, no…
Are kids in school treating you differently because of Nickelodeon exposure?
I remember watching the Janet Jackson fiasco during the Super Bowl Halftime Show and thinking, “Nothing like that could ever happen to me.” Let bygones be bygones, I say now. In the long run, I think that my exposure on Nickelodeon has really opened some doors for my career. At the very least, no one quite knows anymore what to expect when I walk into school each morning.
You have a new puppy named Ali, right? How is she?
She’s great, but I feel the need to set the record straight: “Ali” is merely part of her middle name, as in Daisy Jane “Muhammad Ali” Murphy. With a name like that, she now has all the makings of one day becoming commander-in-chief, that is if we can just keep her from treeing squirrels.
How old is she now?
4. 4 ½ actually, but she doesn’t look a day older than 4.
What are your feelings about Ali?
I’ve been a longtime supporter of my dog and I think she’ll be a charismatic leader. I worry, however, about the character of some of the dogs with whom she associates. There’s an Airedale Terrier who made some questionable statements after 9/11, not to mention a potentially shady business deal with a Miniature Schnauzer, a neighbor of ours.
Where did you find her?
Find? What kind of person do you think I am?
Do you dress her up?
Only very, very lonely people dress up their dogs.
Do you try to coordinate it with what you're wearing?
You mean do I leave the house for a walk wearing only a thin, black collar embroidered with pink flowers? Absolutely.
What is your fashion style?
Most days I draw my inspiration from Klaus Nomi.
Fashion is a 24-hour job, my friend, even when you’re sleeping.
What do you like to do for fun?
I worked several years on a shot-for-shot adaptation of Hitchcock’s The Birds, replacing the gulls, ravens and crows with several hundred penguins. It was my most brilliant idea, really, but the funding fell through when the fish handlers’ union went on strike.
Was it really scary?
Are you kidding? Have you ever seen anything more terrifying than half a dozen penguins amassing on a playground jungle gym? Just the thought of it is horrifying.
TV anything you watch?
I stopped watching TV on the evening of Sunday, May 1st, 1988. I feel like I’m stating the obvious, but a television without Magnum, P.I. isn’t a television worth watching.
Are you watching Joey?
Joey? You mean that show in which Joey Tribbiani leaves New York for Hollywood to pursue his acting career full time? And his slutty sister Gina buys him an apartment and he roommates with his 20-year old nephew who’s a rocket scientist? No, I’ve never heard of it.
So, you have to get TiVo?
Totally. And socks. I hear that socks are very popular right now.
Do you have an acting coach working with you?
Who do you think is answering these questions?
Is Zoe like you?
Who told you about Zoe? This is really uncomfortable to articulate, but Zoe is a spineless, bloodsucking vampire who deserves every sharpened stake and splash of holy water that’s coming her way.
How are you not alike?
Naturally, I’m undeserving of the holy water.
Will that change as you get older?
While I’ve learned recently to believe again in ideas such as “hope” and “change,” let me consult the Magic 8-Ball™: “Outlook not so good.” Shall we try two of out three?
Have you gotten advice from mom or sister about business?
Yeah, my sister told me to never take advice from anyone, while my mother told me to always wear clean underwear. It’s been a daily struggle between these two pieces of advice ever since.
Do you have a celebrity crush?
Bill Murray, without a doubt... And I’d bet a million dollars that he’s wearing clean underwear.
What was your most embarrassing moment:
Other than the now infamous exposure on Nickelodeon, I’d have to say the time I tried to resuscitate a honey-baked ham. My grandparents were deeply offended and haven’t spoken with me since.
So you raised your hand to answer a question and it was wrong?
What the hell are you talking about?
You probably haven't raised your hand since?
Seriously, I’ve no clue why you’re obsessed with hands.
The Big Lebowski.
Obviously, you’re not a golfer.
Film star you look up to/like to have a career like?
Again, I have to go with Bill Murray. Did you know that he was considered for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars? I can’t get over the idea of Murray piloting the Millennium Falcon (“She’s fast enough for you, old man”) or cutting open the belly of a Tauntaun.
Do you like Hilary’s music?
Hilary can’t hold a candle to Bill Murray who, incidentally, I’d be happy to entertain for lunch the next time he’s in Chicago. (Seriously, Bill, look me up.)
If you could work with any other actor/actress who?
Other than Bill Murray, I’d say Daniel Craig, clearly because of our physical resemblance and the similarities between my present life and the recent Bond films. Julia Roberts is another one, as I really identified with her character in Pretty Woman. Same story for Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men.
Would you think you’d died and gone to heaven if you got a part in an Ashton Kutcher/Lindsay Lohan movie?
Having my nails ripped one by one from my fingers might be closer to the truth.
Something you can’t live without:
Skin. I tried it once and only once, and it was much more humiliating than the periods of my life when I tried to “get by” without pants.
Play video games?
I’m still waiting for the Xbox version of There Will Be Blood.
Who's someone you look up to?
Anyone in a French maid costume with a PhD.
Must I really explain this?