Random Interview Saturday! Nathaniel Wyckoff
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.
Our next author flies in on a ghost ship. Where did he get that? Read on to find out. It's Nathaniel Wyckoff!
Nathaniel Wyckoff was born and raised in the beautiful San Fernando Valley of Southern California. From an early age, he was profoundly interested in reading, writing, telling, and listening to stories.
Though he works in a technical field, he counts storytelling among his favorite activities. Nathaniel's storytelling career took flight with the births of his children. His children enjoy all kinds of stories, but most of Nathaniel's stories for them involve zany adventures and confrontations with wacky bullies. Nathaniel's first novel, Yaakov the Pirate Hunter, was inspired by his son's request for a story about robots. It combines elements of science, adventure, and Nathaniel's beloved Jewish tradition. As the Peretz Family Adventures Series continues, Nathaniel's children continue to serve as a source of inspiration.
In addition to writing, he also enjoys studying his Jewish traditions, reading, playing the accordion and the piano for his family, playing games and sports with his children, and taking his family on hiking trips, daring explorations of winter snow, and other assorted adventures.
He can be found online at www.peretzadventures.com.
Sum up your life in five words and two punctuation marks.
Thinking, growing and learning more!
If you could elevate any of your senses to a super powered level (super powered hearing/seeing/smelling) which would you choose and why?
Super-hearing is my choice. I just hate it when bad connections make it hard for me to hear phone conversations, especially with cell phones. Also, some people mumble, and super-hearing will make it easier to know what they’re saying.
Also, super-hearing would enable me to wake up each day and hear pleasant morning sounds, like those of distant birds chirping. It’s nice to start one’s day with pleasant sounds, after the alarm clock’s blare. In fact, with super-hearing, I could place the alarm clock in another room, so that its sound doesn’t bother other people when it wakes me up in the morning.
In addition, super-hearing would make it harder for people to sneak up on me. So, if some pickpocket approached from behind, I would be able to turn around before he or she robbed me; I could thwart the thief with a loud greeting: “My friend! So good of you to visit. Long time, no see. How have you been lately?”
I’d want to be able to turn off the super-charged hearing sometimes, though. If people far away converse about sad or inappropriate topics, I would rather not hear those conversations.
Every trait in life is a double-edged sword; you have to know when to exercise each one and when to hold back.
When cats take over the world, how do you plan to win their good graces?
Fortunately, the Feline Revolution won’t happen in an instant. It will be gradual. So, at the first sign that the cats are actually going to fulfill their domineering ambitions, I’ll start hunting for rodents. Although it will take some work, I’ll organize a grassroots effort to saturate all of Los Angeles County with sticky mousetraps and rattraps. We’ll use the sticky kind, rather than the snap-traps, because a rodent glued to a trap is real delicacy for a feline. There is a huge rodent population in Southern California, so it won’t be hard to catch huge numbers of those dastardly critters quite quickly, once everybody snaps out of it and takes their eyes off of the sports scores and the vain celebrities’ glitzy outfits.
Before long, there will be rodent traps on every block, in every alley, in every basement, in every apartment complex, and even under the freeway overpasses. Rodents will be stuck to those traps, struggling in vain to escape, and causing a huge ruckus with their pathetic wailing. There will also be loud smacking sounds, as the rats and mice use their leg muscles to try to leap from the traps, only to cause each trap to rise slightly off the ground for a moment and then crash back down. The hardware stores and pest control companies will see huge increases in revenues, as people mob their business to buy out all of the traps. (Squirrels are harder to catch, so we’ll leave them alone, at least initially.)
There will then have to be a large-scale endeavor t to collect all of those varmints. I’ll supervise that activity, as well. All trapped rodents will go into huge dumpsters, which we will deliver to the cat overlords in a grand ceremony. It will be a tribute from the people of Los Angeles to their new rulers, an act of good will. I’ll make sure that my name is displayed prominently on signs at the ceremony, so that the cats know I’m the one behind the whole thing. They’ll appoint me Chairman of the Department of Human Affairs.
If you had to invent an alternate currency (shiny rocks, stickers, candy), what would it be?
I would use leaves. That would eliminate the tired platitude, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Parents’ conversations with their kids would go something like this:
Billy: “Dad, can I have $25 to buy a brand-new game at Puzzle Zoo?”
Dad: “Not right now, son. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.”
Billy: “Yes, it does! Can I have some money for the new game? Please? All the other kids have it!”
Dad: “If all the other kids got into credit card debt, would you do it, too?”
Billy: “Sure! ‘Cause money grows on trees. So, I could just go to the park and-”
Dad: “All right, all right. I’ll give you the money. Just leave me alone now; I’m still trying to figure out how to pay for that fake magic tree sap you had me order last week.”
Billy: “It’s not fake! It’s really magic!”
Dad, with a grumble: “Whatever.”
The inflation problem? I’ll leave that to the economists and the policy wonks.
If you favorite historical era had an ice cream flavor made in its honor, what would it taste like?
I’m fascinated by the Biblical era, when the Jewish People were traveling in the wilderness. Jewish tradition teaches that all of their physical needs were met miraculously, and that they survived on manna from Heaven, a miraculous food that tasted like any flavor that the person who ate it wanted. So, if I could go back to that era with modern tastes, I would want my manna to taste like mint chocolate chip ice cream. It’s my favorite flavor. That ice cream flavor also happens to come in my favorite color, green. The minty fresh taste would remind me of newness – freshness! It was an era when an entire population was getting a fresh start. And the bits of chocolate embedded in the ice cream add sweetness; many sweet occurrences happened to them daily.
The Flying Dutchman is offering you three wishes. How do you maximize your wish potential?
Wish #1: Since the Flying Dutchman is supposedly a pirate ship, and I’ve written books about a pirate-hunting kid, modern-day pirates, and stories rooted in the Golden Age of Piracy, I wish for the crew to tell me everything they know about being a pirate, including their slang. Is there more than just, “Avast, matey!” and “scurvy dogs?” Cool pirate trivia from a primary source would be great knowledge for an author.
Wish #2: The Flying Dutchman never makes port, and I have a daughter who is studying in another country; could the ship’s crew please deliver some stuff to her for free? Overseas shipping costs can be expensive. My daughter can meet them at the dock, and they can just throw the stuff onto the dock; it won’t be anything fragile.
Wish #3: I wish for the Flying Dutchman’s crew to become my family’s international travel service. My family and I can get rid of the transportation costs involved in a vacation to almost any overseas destination. With a ghost ship at our instant beck and call, just imagine the possibilities! Of course, the vacation package will have rowing lessons built-in, so that we can row a little dinghy to port while the ghost ship waits there silently.
My friend, at a party: “So, wow, you took everyone to Hawaii! What airline?”
Me: “No airline; we sailed there on a ghost ship.”
Friend: “Ha-ha! That’s a good one. No, really, what airline?”
Me: “I’m serious; we took our ghost ship there and back. It’s called the ‘Flying Dutchman.’”
Friend: “Oohhh-kaaay. Excuse me. I’m gonna go grab some Sprite.”
They say to dance as if nobody is watching: what style of dance do you choose?
I choose to make up my dance on the spot. It’s the spontaneous dance, like what I did as a child in the morning while brushing my teeth. What does this dance style involve? Let’s see. One part is sticking your right thumb on the end of your nose and extending the other fingers of that hand. Then, stick your left thumb on the edge of the right hand’s fifth finger. With your hands in that position, stick out your tongue. Keeping your hands and tongue in those positions, jump around in circles on one foot. If you get tired, use both feet. After you’ve done that for about five seconds, you may want to switch to another move: hopping from foot to foot while pushing your forearms vertically upward and downward – repeatedly – in brief motions. Then, just keep making it up!
This dance is best performed in front of a mirror, with nobody watching – at least, nobody whose opinion of you impacts your reputation.
What's in the box? What box? How should I know!? You're the one standing there with an imaginary box!
I’m holding a cardboard box in both hands, and I just opened it. I can’t wait to try out the new invention that it contains! It’s a kindness detector. You’ve heard of inventions that people use to detect metals, lies, or other things, right? The innovative gadget is a device that helps you find opportunities to help out others in need. As we go through our daily interactions with others, there are many, many chances for us to do good things for others; sometimes, however, we’re not paying full attention, and miss those opportunities. The kindness detector can come to the rescue, by turning on blinking lights and beeping when the people nearby are in need of aid but feel either too proud or too ashamed to ask. Sometimes, they don’t even know what help they need. The kindness detector can even provide reminders to smile, to laugh at somebody’s unfunny joke, or to pay closer attention to a child’s chatter that distracts you from truly vital matters like author interviews…oh, wait.
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Question: In such a complex world, how do I know what truly matters in life?
Answer: What truly matters is to be the best person you can be. It’s a lifelong pursuit, and well worth it. Strive to improve all of your character traits, just one at a time. Pick one and work on it for a several months or a year. It may not seem like much, but imagine waking up several years from now and realizing that you are a calmer person, a more conscientious person, a more honest person, and a kinder person than you once were! You’ll be surprised at the difference that those traits make, and the effect that you can have on others. If you truly focus on being the best person that you can be, then that effort alone will prompt you to eliminate distractions; impulsive temptations; snap judgments or hurtful, critical remarks; negligence; or other damaging behaviors.
The point is that it’s not about how much money you have, how much money you spend, how many “likes” or “shares” you have on social media, or whether you just upgraded to this year’s smartphone. Those things may have a practical utility, but they’re not the things that truly matter. How do I treat my kids when I come home to them? Do I greet others with a smile and good word? Do I use my power of speech to build people up or to tear them down? Do I fly off the handle if there’s no piece of cake left for me, or do I let it go?
Strive to be a good person, and “the meaning of life” won’t even be a question: you’ll be a living example of the answer.