Monday, April 30, 2007

Johnny Yen Asks Flannery Alden The Hard Hitting Questions

One of the smartest bloggers I know offered to interview any Tom, Dick, or Debbie in his recent post Five Questions. I quickly volunteered; I knew he would ask really thought provoking questions and I really enjoyed reading his answers to his questions.

So, here are my responses to his pointed questions, as a service to those of you with inquiring minds about me. If anyone would like to be interviewed by yours truly, please let me know in the comments section or email me.


  1. Your fascination with American Idol is apparent. If you were performing on the show, what 3 songs would you sing?

    I'm glad you asked me that, Johnny. The first one would be The Gambler, by Kenny Rogers because it is a song that means a great deal to me. I've played some form of poker since before I could read. My Grandma and Grandpa taught me the game and I've played it all my life. When I was a kid, The Gambler was one of my Grandpa's favorite songs and he'd sing it to me every now and them. I would choose to sing it on a theme week when we were dedicating songs to people who were important to us and I would dedicate it to his memory. It seems that this year's contestants struggle to connect emotionally to the lyrics of the songs they choose. I think this song's connection to my heart would help me deliver its sentiment and land in the top three.

    My second song, for country week, would be I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow, from Oh, Brother Where Art Thou. I know it would be weird, since I'm obviously a woman, but I think that would be part of its charm. It would also stand out among all the Faith Hill, Toby Keith, and Keith Urban boringness. And, again, I have a strong connection to this song. It really moves me and, let's face it, it rocks. I would imaging getting a "Yo, dawg, that's the X factor right there!" from Randy Jackson.

    And lastly, for "Rock" themed week I would sing Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N Roses. It would give me an opportunity to jump around the stage and rock the mic stand, Bice-style. Also, I could really show off my pipes and the band would have an opportunity to show off their stuff as well. I think I could blow the roof of the Kodak Theater.

  2. I loved the post about when your daughter Riley suggested needing a limo to get to school. That was right out of my son’s playbook—when he was little, he proposed a subway line directly to his grandmother’s house. What were some of the other great ideas/thoughts/notions your kids have had?

    Thanks! Everytime we get into the car, Lucy yells, "I want some Rock and Roll, Mommy!" so, I try to find something. I'll usually start with a Top 40 station and she'll say, "Not that! Rock and Roll!" When I do find something she likes, she insists I turn it up and then proceeds to play air guitar in her car seat. Meanwhile, Riley complains about how loud it is.

    Riley is always trying to invent recipes. Her favorite these days is a spread mixed of peanut butter, jelly and cinnamon sugar, microwaved to a runny mess. She likes to spread it on toast. It's actually not bad.

  3. When you emailed me to volunteer for an interview, it was the first time it had occurred to me that you’re writing your blog under a pen name, like I do. My pen name is from an Iggy Pop song. Where’s yours from? I assume that the “Flannery” is from Flannery O’Connor.

    Well, the Flannery is not from Flannery O'Connor, actually. I hadn't heard of her until about a month ago when I was browsing the literature section in Borders. I chose it through a baby namer website. I used to have a different pen name that didn't really fit me anymore and I tried to find a more suitable moniker. I'm not sure how I found it, but when it came up and I read the meaning: red courage; it just felt right so I grabbed it.

    The name Alden would have been my second child's middle name had she been a boy. I really liked it for two reasons. First of all, it is based on a family name. My paternal great grandfather, a vaudevillian and upholsterer, was named Lee Aldendurfer. Of course, back in the early 20th century, such a Teutonic title as that raised eyebrows. So, after he and my great grandmother divorced, she changed all of her children's last name to Allen, but not officially. Technically, my Grandpa (not the gambler) should have gone by Aldendurfer and passed it down to me. Instead I was stuck with Allen. Thanks, Nana.

    Secondly, the name Alden, by itself, means old friend. So, if you put Flannery Alden together, meaningwise, you have red courage old friend. It seemed a fit for what I wanted to do with this blog. I wanted to be a friend and have the red courage to say what I must.

    By the way, I do intend on reading some Flannery O'Connor in the very near future.

  4. In March, you railed angrily at Sanjaya for performing a John Mayer song. Yet, you admitted weeping when Sanjaya was booted a few days ago. What brought on the change of heart?

    Ah, looking for continuity, are you? And so you should. My opinon of Sanjaya completely transformed in the time period between when he sang that hideous John Mayer song and when he sang "You really Got Me Now" a couple of weeks later. I was relieved he wasn't voted off after singing Waiting for the World to Change; the world was spared every hearing that piece of shit unawares again. I hate the attitude in that song of sitting back and throwing your hands in the air because the powers that be don't check in with you on a regular basis. I want to yell: Honey, the powers that be will never check in with you for your opinions so you'd better get off your ass an make something happen. That song is such bullshit and I was more angry about him choosing that song because of the influence it could have over the millions of young people listening.

    By the time he sang YRGMN, which was absolutely a horrible rendition, I found my heart warming up to him. He sang that song with a certain punk panache. He just didn't give a fuck that people thought he sucked. He went out there and rocked that song. He didn't crumple like previous contestents in his position did. After that, I was in his corner. Besides, he really is a sweet kid. When he left, I was moved to tears in the same way the O.J. verdict moved me to tears: It was an overwhelmingly emotional situation for a great many people. It was not so much the outcome, but rather the impact it had on the world...well...the US.

  5. From your posts, I’ve gathered that you are some kind of education professional. Recently, I shared a couple of educator and administrator horror stories. Do you have any to share?

    You are correct, Johnny, I am in education and I do have my horror stories, but I don't like to share them here. This place is called Prone to Whimsy for a reason: I try not to get to wrapped up in things that aren't fanciful. I don't really want to complain about work here, unless it's in an oblique manner. So, I guess I don't really have any to share. But, since you're a fan of my haiku, I'll post some work related poetry:

    Haiku for a Bad Day
    Fuck it
    I can't be bothered
    to count syllables

    Standing My Ground
    I am a stone wall
    Silence my only weapon
    You can't climb over

    My Haikus are so Aggressive
    Let's meet at the line
    Of scrimmage, mate, face to face
    A battle pending.

    In the Spirit of Brautigan
    I've been a good sport and swallowed a lot of tension
    for the sake of harmony and professionalism.
    Continue to yank my chain at your peril and
    Consider yourself warned.

    And me without my slicker...
    It sucks being caught in the middle
    of a pissing contest
    with no umbrella.

    Ode on a Requisition Form
    after Keats
    Thou blank, crisp face with blanks to inscribe,
    Thou three part NCR form; pink, yellow, white.
    I tremble with anticipation and sweat with fear.
    Will I complete you correctly?
    Will you flow through
    The twists and turns of approvals and eyes?
    Will you become the purchase order I desire?

    Your fields, unscrutable, I check my codes.
    The codes, byzantine and nearly uncrackable.
    Is software an office supply?
    Or does it have its own code?
    These answers I cannot divine, only uncover
    With the help of the toughest teacher: experience
    As you sail back and forth from clerk to clerk.

    Still, a part of you stays with me, the pink part.
    You rest in my file, chronologically side by side
    With your brothers in sequential order. I protect you.
    I bring out the pale copy of the original that you leave behind
    To defend my word and work against those who stand against me
    Tyrants in a teacup, holding their rules close to the vest.

    Woe to the tyrant who questions your authenticity!
    For I have copies of quotes and prices!
    I've followed those rules I was able to uncover and
    I have written them down to pass on to those who come after me.
    Oh, yes, tyrant, your empire shall crumble!
    Your gates will fall. And work shall be done in half the time!

    But this requisition shall sustain me. I will sing your number,
    Again and again until your metamophosis is complete
    Until your items and services are delivered
    Until your invoices are paid.
    Thou shalt remain in the midst of other records
    Boxed, archived, tallied, charted, reported and closed,
    And I shall inform my replacement:"Documentation is truth, truth documentation"--that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need know.


  1. Wow! Great answers!

    I don't like much of what Kenny Rogers has done since The First Edition, but I loved The Gambler. Good philosphy for life.

    I especially enjoyed the poetry.

    My Major American Writers teacher in high school loved Flannery O'Connor, so we read a lot of her work. The lady very definitely had a dark view of life.

  2. Good stuff Flannery, I really enjoyed your Haiku's.

  3. Good answers, but those weren't "hard hitting" questions. More like the pillow from Python's Comfy Chair of Interrogation.

    2 pedantry points for me, thankee...

  4. Great answers. But do you know when to hold them or to fold them?

  5. You could interview me, but it might be boring since you already know everything.

  6. I'm just noticing now that it's only 15 days until your pact ends!

  7. Did you ever see that Muppet Show with Kenny Rogers and the old man muppet gambler? That used to freak me out terribly as a child.

  8. Great post! I loved reading this Flann! Thanks for the insight! :)

  9. Johnny Yen: Thanks! Maybe I'll skip reading O'Connor's stuff; if it's too dark, it's probably not for me.

    Skyler's Dad: Thank you!

    BO: Well...I really had to think to come up with good answers. Doesn't that count?

    Grant Miller: Thank you. And sometimes I *do* know when to hold them and when to fold them. But not always.

    Elizabeth: Yes, but not everyone else knows you...I'll work up five questions...

    Tanya: I know! Just in time for all the summer blockbusters!

    Beckeye: I don't think I have. I'll have to check it out on YouTube.

    Boob Lady: Thanks!

  10. "I would sing Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N Roses. It would give me an opportunity to jump around the stage and rock the mic stand, Bice-style. Also, I could really show off my pipes and the band would have an opportunity to show off their stuff as well. I think I could blow the roof of the Kodak Theater."

    Somehow, I can't imagine you Axl dancing...

    Loved the first haiku, BTW!

  11. WP: Thanks! Oh, I can do the Axl Rose dance...just ask Elizabeth.

  12. I'd vote for you and am now desperate to hear you sing Man of Constant Sorrow.