Lately, a couple friends have asked us how we “come up with this stuff” to blog about. And the answer is that we don’t actually come up with anything, I just turn a tape recorder on at some point during the day. Sunday is kind of an exception, because on Sundays I try and have a definite question that I want Buck to answer for Q&A. But I’m not a planner in the planning sense; I shoot from the hip when it comes to pretty much everything. Because of that, every now and then I tape a conversation that just isn’t suitable for print. They’re not dirty conversations, or racist or anything like that. As far at that stuff is concerned, both Buck and myself would sooner put fork to eye than listen to racist comments, or even worse, a racist “joke”.
No, the conversations that I find unsuitable are ones that just don’t go anywhere. Not that our conversations ever go anywhere, but some are to the Nth degree. We jump around, make insider references that no one would get, state misinformation then insist it’s fact, and I can’t even find a sound byte to end it on. They’re just interviews gone bad.
Normally I take a conversation like that and just tape over it later in the day, but this past weekend we were buried in work and time didn’t allow for a second, better discussion later on. So, to demonstrate what I’m talking about when I say how bad an interview can go, I’m blogging the following:
Without this helpful yellow circle, I would have missed ax-wielding serial killer Fritz Haarmann in this charming Christmas advent calendar offered by the Hanover, Germany, board of tourism. Here, Haarmann is pictured at his old stomping grounds along the Leine river where he dumped the bodies of the 24 boys and young men he murdered before he was caught in 1925.
Me: I read that in Germany, an advent calendar is creating a lot of problems. The board of tourism who created the calendar included a famous serial killer in the little pictures, because he lived and killed in that town. So my question to you is, how much time must pass before a murderer can become a national treasure? At what point in time is all forgiven and it’s okay — and smart business sense, even — to embrace a killer’s path as a tourist destination?
Buck: [sighs deeply] Is this your topic?
Me: Kind of. Yeah. What do you think of tourism people embracing killers and their crime scenes?
Buck: Well, people go to Nicole Simpson’s house, they go to OJ’s house. There are bus tours, and people like to get photographed there, so I guess there’s a call for it and there are good parts to it. Unless you’re a neighbor.
Me: There are no good parts to it.
Buck: Well, what’s your question? I don’t understand what you’re angling at.
Me: [laughing] I’m not angling for anything. I thought … I thought …
Buck: What did you think?
Me: I don’t know. I guess I saw that advent calendar and it made me think of the Jack the Ripper tours in England –
Buck: Well this topic … is kinda weird. You know?
Me: Yeah. I agree, it’s weird. And probably in poor taste even for us.
Buck: [in stupidly high voice meant to be mine] Do YOU have an opinion whether it’s good to have a killer on your town Christmas card?
Me: [laughing] That wasn’t even my question. [laughing]
Buck: [laughing] Oh. My mistake I guess. What was your question?
Me: Oh, God.
Buck: Did you think this murderer Christmas card thing was lighthearted? Because it’s not. It’s a downer, not to mention weird. And not weird in a good way.
Me: [laughing] I suppose I could do a different topic.
Buck: Oh, I think we should continue with this one. This one’s really going places. Plus, it will help to alienate all the people whom we haven’t alienated yet.
Buck: Another good thing about it, is that you haven’t used the fuck-word in your blog lately so maybe you could refer to it as the fucking advent calendar –
Buck: — which will keep you in good standing with that subversive sub-culture you’ve joined where you’ve all taken a vow to use swear words in your posts. You’ve probably been kicked out by now.
Me: I was never part of that thing and they are not a weird sub-culture. They’re linguists for crying out loud. LINGUISTS. And I was never part of it. I just happened to read about it. Not that I’m against it, it’s just that I don’t go out of my way to swear for shock value. I just swear when I swear, but like everything else I’m pretty lazy about it, so I couldn’t have participated even if I’d been asked to.
Buck: That’s true.
Me: But this whole interview has taken a weird turn because I was talking about murders in history and how tourism is exploiting the whole thing, and you brought up a recent killer who’s still on the loose playing golf and robbing people at gunpoint and whatnot.
Buck: [laughing] What’s the difference?
Me: WELL THAT’S WHAT I’M ASKING. Is there a difference? Is it acceptable to embrace murderers after a certain amount of time goes by? Ten years? A hundred years?
Buck: I think the old ones are more boring. Most of them, anyway.
Me: I don’t think that one murder story is more boring than another. Old murders aren’t more boring –
Buck: They were. There was no DNA, no photos. Murderers could be anybody. YOU could have been a serial killer –
Me: I could have never been a serial killer –
Buck: No, what I’m saying is that anybody could have committed the crimes because getting away with it was easier before all the new technology –
Me: I can’t get into this now. Never mind.
Buck: All I’m saying is that the old killers are boring because killing back then wasn’t that hard. I mean, Lizzie Borden kills her fa–
Me: HEY! Lizzie Borden is totally off-limits here. Don’t even go there. I’ve read a lot about the case, watched all the forensic documentaries AND the Elizabeth Montgomery movie, and I believe the theory that Mr. Borden had a history of sexually abusing Lizzie and her sister and Lizzie had had enough. So, given the era and the circumstances, given her history prior to the crime and after, I can’t fault Lizzie Borden for what I believe was an act of rage and desperation. So leave Lizzie out of this.
Buck: God. Elizabeth Montgomery must have been very powerful in that roll for you to feel so strongly … she must have done a helluva job –
Me: [laughing] Shut up. [laughing]Elizabeth Montgomery was not the deciding factor, although it was fascinating the way they said Lizzie did the whole thing naked, which is why there were no bloody clothes or shoes –
Buck: I think you believe Elizabeth Montgomery was Lizzie Borden.
Me: She did do a great job and I liked having it all put into perspective that way. The timeline, the trial. I welcomed that movie after hearing the Lizzie Borden song my whole life, and having Fall River and Lizzie Borden become synonymous –
Buck: Synonymous for you. I don’t think of Lizzie Borden when I think of Fall River.
Me: I hate this conversation. And my mail box is full of stuff I haven’t even opened. Seriously. It’s FULL. I have 175 unopened emails, and the thought of them makes me very tired. I don’t even think there’s any spam or stupid chain letters in there. That’s weird isn’t it, wishing half my mail was spam and chain letters? And I’m hungry. I need something to eat.
Buck: I’m gonna go get the M&M bag. I need some M&Ms after this conversation.
Me: What conversation? I don’t even know what this was, but I have to post it anyway.
Me: I don’t know.
Thanks again for the ashtray from Hawaii, Gail. I love it.