Klosterman Meme the First

Chuck Klosterman is a rock journalist and pop culture writer. Needless to say, I love his writing. He is hilarious and insightful. However, I have an ongoing internal debate about whether or not Chuck Klosterman and I could be friends in real life. Obviously, this is a purely hypothetical problem, but I think about it every time I am reading his work and even a little bit when I’m not reading it (like now, for instance). While I already agree with 70% of what he says and am convinced to agree with another 10%, there is 20% of his writing that I think makes him sound meditatively contrary. I find this frustrating, as I would no doubt find HIM frustrating in a social setting. On the other hand, he has a beard.

But that is not the purpose of this post. Within his writing, he often frequently random hypothetical moral and social questions which, as is usually the case which such things, do not have cut and dry answers. I love these questions and bring them up with friends whenever possible. But I would also like to know how the population at large (of blog readers) would answer these questions. And thus begins my series of Klosterman memes in which I pose his questions, answer them myself, and invite the readers to answer them as well in the comments.

To kick things off are 5 conundrums from his list of 23 questions he asks people to find out if could ever REALLY love them. Unfortunately, he did not include an answer key so after deliberating the questions themselves, I am left to ponder what he would deem to be the “correct” answer.

Without further ado…

1. Let us assume you meet a rudimentary magician. He can do five simple tricks- he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, he can make a coin disappear, he can turn the ace of spades into the Joker card, and two others in a similar vein. These are his only tricks and he can’t learn any more; he can only do these five. HOWEVER, it turns out he’s doing these five tricks with real magic. It’s not an illusion; he can actually conjure the bunny out of the ether and he can move the coin through space. He’s legitimately magical, but extremely limited in scope and influence.

Would this person be more impressive than Albert Einstein?

My answer: Less impressive. For starters, I HATE magicians (and illusionists) and find them incredibly annoying (Davids Blane and Copperfield) and generally lame (Chris Angel: Mindfreak). This is only marginally due to the fact that I know they are faking. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat or making a coin disappear is utterly useless. If they were really magic but could learn tricks that would make the world better, maybe they would be competition for Albert. MAYBE. But in this case, the father of modern physics takes it with a bullet. He would be able to explain how the magician is able to do all that crap and that, to me, is more impressive.

Klosterman Theory: I believe that Klosterman would give it to the magician, asserting that if Einstein hadn’t come up with those ideas, someone else would have eventually. I don’t think he shares my anti-magician bias.

2. Let us assume a fully grown, completely healthy Clydesdale horse has his hooves shackled to the ground while his head is held in place with thick rope. He is conscious and standing upright, but completely immobile. And let us assume that-for some reason- every political prison on earth (as cited by Amnesty International) will be released from captivity if you can kick this horse to death in less than twenty minutes. You are allowed steel-toed boots.

Would you attempt to do this?

My answer: I would attempt to let someone else do this but not for the reason you think. I AM a vegetarian who would definitely be haunted for life by the memory of kicking a horse to death. But I still think that the ulilitarian nature of this scenario would outweigh moral qualms over the death of a horse. HOWEVER, I am definitely not powerful enough to successfully carry out this mission. Even with steel-toed boots. The only way I could kill a horse with my feet is to crush it’s skull and if the horse is upright, I will not be able to reach it. I could kick at some internal organs, but again, I’m not terribly strong so I assume any damage to said organs would take longer than 20 minutes to take effect.

Also, what eccentric billionaire has set up these damands?

Klosterman Theory: Yes.

3. Let us assume there are two boxes on a table. In one box, there is a relatively normal turtle; in the other, Adolf Hitler’s skull. You have to select one of these items for your home. If you select the turtle, you can’t give it away and you have to keep it alive for two years; if either of these parameters are not met, you will be fined $999 by the state. If you select Hitler’s skull, you are required to display it in a semi-prominent location in your living room for the same amount of time, although you will be paid a stipend of $120 per month for doing so. Display of the skull must be apolitical.

Which option do you select?

My answer: The Hitler skull. I don’t even know why this is controversial. In the case of the turtle, it’s kind of a lose-lose situation (unless you consider keeping a turtle as a pet to be a win. But you can do that now for free). On the other hand, you get to keep a historical relic in your house. You would probably be able to cash in on people paying to see it and you get paid a stipend all the while. If, for some reason, you had to pretend to be a Nazi sympathizer, then I would choose the turtle. But with the parameters as they are, the Hitler skull is the obvious choice.

Klosterman Theory:. The Hitler skull. He’s on the road a lot. Choosing the turtle would be a guaranteed loss.

4. Genetic engineers at Johns Hopkins University announce that they have developed a so-called “super gorilla.” Though the animal cannot speak, it has a sign language lexicon of over twelve thousand words, an I.Q. of almost 85, and – most notably – a vague sense of self-awareness. Oddly, the creature (who weighs seven hundred pounds) becomes fascinated by football. The gorilla aspires to play the game at its highest level and quickly develops the rudimentary skills of a defensive end. ESPN analyst Tom Jackson speculates that this gorilla would be “borderline unblockable” and would likely average six sacks a game (although Jackson concedes the beast might be susceptible to counters and misdirection plays). Meanwhile, the gorilla has made it clear he would never intentionally injure any opponent.

You are commissioner of the NFL: Would you allow this gorilla to sign with the Oakland Raiders?

My answer: This is obviously a trick question. The question is not whether or not the gorilla should play football. Clearly he should. It’s what team should he play for. This gorilla would be an asset to any team, both monetarily and in terms of skill. So which team should receive such a boost? I would say the Seattle Seahawks because then I could regularly watch the team in action.

Klosterman Theory: I can’t remember which football team Klosterman supports (I tend to skim over his sports writing. Sorry, Chuck.) but since he is from the midwest, I think it would probably be one of those. So no.

5. You meet your soul mate. However, there is a catch: Every three years, someone will break both of your soul mate’s collarbones with a Crescent wrench, and there is only one way you can stop this from happening: You must swallow a pill that will make every song you hear–for the rest of your life–sound as if it’s being performed by the band Alice in Chains. When you hear Creedence Clearwater Revival on the radio, it will sound (to your ears) like it’s being played by Alice in Chains. If you see Radiohead live, every one of their tunes will sound like it’s being covered by Alice in Chains. When you hear a commercial jingle on TV, it will sound like Alice in Chains; if you sing to yourself in the shower, your voice will sound like deceased Alice vocalist Layne Staley performing a capella (but it will only sound this way to you).

Would you swallow the pill?

My answer: Assuming my soul mate is my husband to whom I never want bad things to happen, and since I actually still LIKE Alice in Chains, I would swallow the pill. I would have to consider it longer if he’d said one of the stipulations was that music would sound like Alice in Chains post “Dirt”. That would be a much bigger sacrifice on my part. I’d probably still do it though.

Klosterman Theory: No.

Your answers in the comments, please!

Stay tuned for more!


  1. I’m game…

    #1: I know what I’m supposed to answer, but frankly I’d be more impressed by real magic, which doesn’t exist, than by real genius, which exists all over the place.

    #2: I could not live with kicking the horse to death, even if I managed to actually do it. Call me selfish and wimpy if you want. Sorry, political prisoners.

    #3: Totally Hitler’s skull, though I’d hope word wouldn’t spread out to the Neo-Nazi community.

    #4: Sure, let the damn gorilla play for the Raiders. They’re pretty badass anyway, with their black and silver colors, and I could just imagine the marketing tie-ins! I would only hope that some of the money from that could go into revitalizing Oakland.

    #5: I would not want Miki’s collarbones to ever be broken, so Alice in Chains it is.

  2. My first ever post to Baxters blog:
    #1. Assuming that the magician can pull any number of rabbits out of a hat, we could have a brand new rabbit fueled economy. Cars that run on rabbit.

    #2. I’d try to kick the horse to death but I’d be really unhappy about all the training I’d want to do first.

    #3. The skull.

    #4. Yes. Let the monkey play!

    #5. I can’t think of a band that I’d rather hear cover every song in the world. I’ll take the pill to protect Baxter’s precious bones.

  3. Brugos! Hooray!! So good to see you in my blog!

  4. 1) Einstein, hands down. I’m not a big magic person, and if there are only 5 lame tricks that can be done with the magic (not solving world hunger, or making miniature elephants) then it’s not very impressive or useful. Einstein? Useful, and therefore, impressive.

    2) I’d like to think I could be logical and set all of those people free, but the truth is I couldn’t do it – there’s just no way.

    3) The skull.

    4) I would like football if I could watch a gorilla play it.

    5) This is the most difficult question so far, because I really really love music. How long do broken collarbones take to heal? Since this is a sure thing every 3 years, could we get some sort of extra big Vicodin prescription ahead of time? I really can’t imagine an Alice in Chains rendition of ‘Barracuda’ …

  5. A half-assed google search seems to indicate an average of 8 weeks of recovery time for a broken collar bone. I would imagine that with each break, and especially as someone ages, it would become longer and more difficult to heal. Possibly resulting in the collar bone equivalent of Owen Wilson’s nose? I too am a big music fan and the thought of never getting to hear Built to Spill properly again makes me pretty sad, but that’s why he said it’s your soul mate. It’s about how big of a sacrifice you would be willing to make to ensure the person you love isn’t hurt. On the other hand, it WOULD be nice to have an endless supply of Vicodin…

    PS: I am now regretting my choice of a novel I’ve never read and many people seem to think sucks over “Barracuda”. Damn!

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