Today I have a guest.
I have known this fellow for some time now, as he gave me my very first break into publishing way back in 2006 or something, when The Friday Project agreed to publish the Cornelius Quaint Chronicles. I owe him a lot; he is a font of great advice, and I even like him as a person too. He has a forthright tongue and a sharp mind and he knows his business – and for some reason, in many parts of the world his name has become synonymous with cake.
Have you worked out who it is yet?
No, it’s not Mr Kipling…it’s Mr Scott Pack, publisher at large for The Friday Project (an imprint of HarperCollins). His very posh title Director of Digital Development has recently hooked him into the Authonomy site too, an excellent place for budding authors to get oh-so helpful critiques from fellow authors and the possibility (if your work is appealing enough) of seeing it in print. A similar site is actually where Mr Pack spotted me, so I naturally hold them in high regard. On top of all that he also pens the odd article on the state of the publishing world for The Bookseller and the like, and whilst it would be a very interesting thing to interview him, that is not why he is here…and in some respects he is isn’t really here at all.
If you already frequent Mr Pack’s acclaimed blog (HERE) then you probably know that not only a lover of books is he, but he is also something of a scribe, responsible for the excellent ‘It Is Just You, Everything’s Not Shit‘ and has just released his second book, the equally as ace ‘21st CENTURY DODOS‘ (ebook version also available here, Pack-Fans!) Anyway, to celebrate this momentous event, Scott has Pack’d (like that?) his bags and gone on a jolly little blog tour in the guise of Steve Stack. (You may have spotted him HERE yesterday, but if you missed it, check Scott’s blog on the right-hand sidebar for details of all the events.) And today I am very much obliged to have him here.
‘21st CENTURY DODOS‘ is a fantastic celebration of inanimate objects that have been lost over time. Just flipping through the book you will be reminded of many things that you thought no one else missed. In my opinion, it is THE official ‘perfect Christmas stocking-filler’ for a loved one.
Now, I could have done a really in-depth drilling of Steve Stack about everything in his book, but then that might spoil some of the surprises.
So instead, I thought I would quiz him on a variety of subjects from the past. TV, films, toys and the like. Some of which died and went to TV CREAM Heaven, only to reborn and thrust back into the spotlight years after you’d chucked away all the toys that now sell for a mint on ebay.
As is the norm, this quiz will feature a range of questions followed by a range of answers. The object of this exercise is to say the right answer to the right question, thereby winning the quiz. It’s simple, but it works.
Darren Craske: Steve, firstly a very big thanks for stopping by. You’ve been visiting many blogs over the past few weeks, requesting your own blog’s readers to open their doors. What gave you the idea to spread yourself across cyberspace so selflessly?
Steve Stack: Nothing selfless about it, sunshine, I am trying to spread the word about the plight of these endangered inanimate objects and flog some of my book while I’m at it. It is great to travel the web in this way, plonking my arse down and chatting about 21st Century Dodos.
DC: There are many reasons why people should read your blog, whether it’s to hear your views on music, books, films or life in general. One of the things that I admire about you is the devotion that you have to your readers. Rarely a day goes by when you don’t have something to post. How do you keep your ideas so varied?
SS: Very kind of you to say so, but I don’t think they are all that varied. I tend to review every book I read so that is at least one blog post a week, often two, sorted right there. Sundays is always a YouTube video of a current favourite song. Chuck in a few sarcastic posts about whatever is on my mind and there’s a week’s worth of blogging.
DC: On the subject of objects and inventions that have become extinct in the 21st century, of all the things that logical progression has enabled us to improve over the years, do you think that there is something that was better the way it used to be?
SS: I remember explaining the concept of the book to a bookseller a couple of years ago and his response was “that’s just progress,” and he was right, but I don’t think the march of progress means you can’t bid a fond farewell to some of the things that are going.
I don’t seriously think any of us love old-fashioned teletext enough to hand in our fancy digital televisions, nor would we sacrifice our smartphones in return for a trimphone, but there are a few things that I think were better the way they used to be. The loss of handwritten letters to email and texting is a real shame and will change the way history is recorded, I think the move away from imperial measurements deprives us of common sense weights and measures, and the bloke who replaces the cardboard Smarties tube with a hexatube was an idiot.
DC: Your books have everyman appeal, and you often pick up on things in danger of being forgotten from the olden days. I take that your childhood was a good one?
SS: Well, yes, I don’t have any complaints. It wasn’t particularly remarkable but it did take place in the 70s and 80s which is the ideal demographic for a nostalgic toilet book today!
* And now in a sudden shift of interviewing technique that I learned from Piers Morgan ie; start off all nicey-nicey and beat around bush but then once your guest is relaxed you go in for the kill on some of the really personal questions. Like so…
DC: I know that you are a very happily married man, but if you HAD to act all sexy with any of the James Bond girls over the years, which one would you choose?
SS: You know what? I am not a huge Bond fan. They are OK in a cheesy, Saturday afternoon movie kind of way but I don’t really rate them all that highly. Can I instead nominate Gila Golan who starred opposite James Coburn in Our Man Flint?
DC: (Personally, it’s Barbara Bach in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, with Britt Ekland coming a close second (insert smutty innuendo here). For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Ms Golan (yeah, me too) here she is.)
DC: When making a milkshake with powder, do you add the powder to the milk, or the milk to the powder?
SS: Powder to milk, of course. Other way round for a syrup. Everyone knows that.
DC: If it was like SOURCE CODE and you could go back in time and inhabit anyone’s body for a total of 8 minutes, who would you choose and why?
SS: James Coburn’s during a bit of rumpy pumpy in Our Man Flint. For obvious reasons.
DC: (For the entire 8 minutes, or would that include a cigarette post-intercourse I wonder?)
DC: Can you hum the theme to ‘THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN’ without it merging into ‘EMMERDALE’?
SS: I have forgotten how both of them go. What sort of shit nostalgia author am I? In my defence, they were both on ITV which was a bit common.
DC: (I’ll bet you a packet of Toffo’s that you can’t do it.)
DC: Who was your first TV crush? (Mine was actress Pamela Salem from ‘INTO THE LABYRINTH’).
SS: Maxi Gnauck. She was an East German gymnast.
DC: (Doesn’t like Bond girls. Prefers East German gymnasts. Freud would have a field day.)
DC: What would be your first thoughts if I said the words “Doogy Rev” in an Australian accent to a talking aspidistra?
SS: Gronda gronda rando.
DC: (Is that you, Uncle?)
DC: So many toys from our youth have made a successful comeback recently. My Little Pony, ThunderCats, The Smurfs etc….is there a toy range that you adored as a child that you would love to see come back?
SS: I’d be keen to see what the kids of today made of CASCADE. It would blow their tiny minds.
DC: If you could fly/ride/drive AIRWOLF, STREET HAWK or K.I.T.T from KNIGHT RIDER, which one would you choose?
SS: They were all on ITV, weren’t they? I’d opt for the Pink Panther’s car instead.
DC: (Good shout. The Pink Panther’s car was classic. Although I’m not sure I approve of a minor behind the wheel of a powerful vehicle like that. But at least he wore a helmet.)
DC: Do you know any ‘FATTY & SKINNY’ rhymes?
SS: There was one where they were in bed. And another where Fatty farted. The mists of time have shrouded them somewhat. Sorry.
DC: (I believe the one you are thinking of is possibly their best.
“Fatty and Skinny were in the bath. Fatty blew off and Skinny laughed.”
DC: Steve, I know that you are male. I know that you are post-40 years old. I also know that you have children. Yet, for the benefit of the jury, can you confirm or deny that you have never seen a ‘STAR WARS’ film all the way through?
SS: Not at all. I have seen Star Wars once. In 1977. In the cinema. I saw The Empire Strikes Back in the cinema as well. Didn’t bother with the Muppet Movie one though.
DC: (Fair enough, but consider this: without the Ewoks, the Galactic Empire would probably still be in power to this day. If Wicket hadn’t stumbled across Leia on Endor, she would never have been taken back to the Ewok village where she was reunited with Han, Luke, Chewie and the droids. And without Paploo stealing a speeder-bike, the rebel attack on the field generator would never have been possible – which essentially means that Lando would have failed to destroy the second Death Star.)
DC: There is a joke that has been doing the rounds for well over 30 years, and it used to confuse the hell out of everyone at my school. We always had a code of silence that if you got it, you were never allowed to tell anyone.
Two nuns in a bath. One asks, “Where’s the soap?”
The other one goes, “Yes, it does, doesn’t it?”
Can you explain that?
SS: Well, it does, doesn’t it?
DC: (So I am reliably informed…)
DC: This is a bonus round and there are 5 points on offer. You get one point for each of these TV shows that you can remember from the 80’s. If you get all 5 then you’re ace. If you get 3 or more, you’re brillo. If you get two or less, you’re a dinlo.
1) Tales of the Gold Monkey
Someone in it had a glass eye. Was it a monkey?
1 POINT: Very good! It was actually a dog, and it starred Stephen Collins, who was Commander Decker in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, fact-fans!
Aware of its existence but don’t think I watched it. Bloke could turn into an animal. Might remember one scene in which he became a dolphin.
1 POINT: Starring Simon MacCorkindale, and also Melody Anderson, who played Dale Arden in the 1980 FLASH GORDON film, fact-fans!
A Tron-like chap who drove really fast.
1 POINT: Very Tron, wasn’t it? Surprised Disney didn’t sue. It co-starred Desi Arnaz Jr – the son of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball from ‘I Love Lucy’, fact-fans!
Nope, not a clue.
Ahhh, now this was a classic series about spies going under cover as an international modelling agency!!! The lead actor Jon-Erik Hexum was mucking about with a gun loaded with blanks on set and he ended up shooting himself in the head and dying from a brain hemorrhage. I kid you not, fact-fans!
5) BJ and the Bear
Did it include a truck driver?
1 POINT: It did indeed! And a chimpanzee (called Bear).
TOTAL POINTS = 4/5. VERDICT: brillo.
DC: What is the connection between ‘It Ain’t ‘alf Hot, Mum’ and Gerry Anderson’s TERRAHAWKS?
SS: No fucking idea.
DC: (Windsor Davies (from TV’s ‘Never The Twain’) voiced Sgt Major Zero – little spherical robot things. And over the credits there would always be a game of TIC-TAC-TOE between the Zeroids (with an ‘O’ on them) and the Cubes (with a ‘X’ on them) and you had to wait until the very end to find out who would win.)
DC: Which game is best: GUESS WHO or CONNECT 4?
SS: GUESS WHO? I am very good at that.
DC: What will be the subject of the next Steve Stack book and when can we expect it?
SS: Not sure yet. If this one does well then I think I have enough material for volume two. If not, I have other plans.
DC: Finally, this blog is but one of a long list of places that you’ve popped in on during the past few weeks promoting ‘21stCENTURY DODOS’, and I’m sure you’ve been asked lots of questions. But is there one question about the book that no one has bothered to ask you yet?
SS: None of the bloggers have asked me to explain why we don’t see white dog poo any more.
* I neglected to ask Steve this question, preferring to read his book instead. Why don’t you do the same?
Many thanks to both Steve and Scott for their/his time, and just one final word from me is that you can catch Steve’s next exciting blog interview RIGHT HERE