In his debut novel The Futurist, James P. Othmer demonstrates a talent for biting satire, gorgeous prose, and dark humor that, to me, calls to mind another ad-man-cum-novelist, Joseph Heller.  Holy Water, his prescient new novel, does nothing to alter my impression.

Jason Chambers, writing at 3G1B and here, calls Holy Water a “fine book: funny, smart and strangely hopeful for revolution.”  I agree, and I’ll add that I wish more writers shared Othmer’s ability to so ruthlessly and engagingly portray the patent absurdity of corporate America.

I chatted with Othmer last week.  Here is a transcript of our far-ranging discussion:


*****

G.M.O.: Holy Water is probably the first work of lit fiction to reference Spoon on the first page.

J.P.O.: Are you sure someone in Austin didn’t get to it earlier, perhaps in the acks?

I wouldn’t know…I’m not that hip.

Me neither. I rely on much younger friends for that kind of stuff. For all I know, Spoon is a polka band.

I’m more of a Kenny Rogers guy

Nothing wrong with Kenny Rogers.

I wondered if you had music informants.

I have friends who come over and give me burned CDs in exchange for exotic beer and my bitter world view.

Sounds like a fair trade to me. So what’s your favorite exotic beer? Any recommendations?

I’m liking the Capt. Lawrence out of Pleasantville. Anything Dog Fish Head works for me. I’m all about the high alcohol content, until I vomit.

And once you vomit?

Once I vomit, it’s strictly Coors Light and Kenny Rogers.

A match made in heaven, if heaven is Branson, Missouri. But we digress. Henry Tuhoe, your protagonist, has very hip taste in tunes.  Do you?

I love music, but I know so many people for whom it’s a religion. I envied their obsession and occasionally their taste, and I wanted my protagonist to have that sort of relationship with, as the kids say, the hip music folks. Similar to my relationship with books.

You convey that nicely.

Thanks. Showing one’s music cred on her sleeve seems to be more popular with Gen Xers, but if the recommendations are good, brag away. Again, I’m the same way with books, not necessarily being an aficionado, but constantly looking for recommendations from others.

I think it’s also something that men of our age do to retain their perceived youth…the Gen X equivalent of buying a convertible.

Which is why I’m talking to you, hip writer of books and player of Kubb.

I am so not hip, but it’s nice of you to say so.

 

 

Kubb was a revelation. I never realized how much fun it was to throw wood at other pieces of wood. Anyway, I want Henry’s iPod.

I believe Henry’s iPod is now in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

It deserves a better final resting place than Cleveland. Yates, the eponymous futurist of your first novel, is almost a superhero. A superhero in crisis, sure, but an alpha male. Henry Tuhoe, on the other hand, the protagonist of Holy Water, is a nebbish, a paradigmatic beta male. Where on that spectrum does James P. Othmer fall?

I’m a flawed super hero. Like Captain Bedwetter or something. Or a bit of both, because both represent in a lot of ways, two diametrically opposed sort of worse-case scenario versions of me.

I can see that. There’s definitely commonalities between Yates and Henry.

Well they’re both completely disillusioned with where their life has taken them. Henry’s “conscientious fulfillment of limited expectations” and Yates’s crises of conscience.

Your characters travel to far-flung places How much actual travel have you done? Have you ever been to the Himalayas, or Greenland?

The good part about the soul-selling ad-guy portion of my life is I got to travel quite a bit. However, not Greenland or the fictional kingdom of Galado. Galado, by the way, is a combo of Swift’s Lagado and Bhutan.

Were you in Bhutan?

Alas, no. I was trying to get a magazine I was writing for, Conde Nast Portfolio, to spring for the trip to do a piece on Gross National Happiness. But my editor got fired while I was doing a piece on the ad festival at Cannes and the magazine went under soon after. Would’ve been sweet.

So how did you research it?

Henry did what I did. Google. Lonely Planet. Some incredibly poorly produced travel videos…lack of travel money (post advertising) has forced me to invent countries rather than visit them. And it’s a lot of fun. Soon I will have to take it to the next level and, you know, rule one.

It would be fun to be a dictator. And I hear you about the lack of travel. Although we do get to Connecticut occasionally.

Connecticut is the next Prague.

Ha! The prince of Galado reminded me of a cross between one of the princes in Syriana and the Ben Stiller character in Dodgeball. And I mean that as a complement

And a little Kim Jong Il, at least the version I saw in Team America. Sometimes I wonder if I’m crossing the line with absurdity, but then I turn on the news.

 

I was just discussing with my friends how Kim Jong Il really did a great job reading 1984 and making it a reality.

Except for the nuclear capability and the sneak attacks on South Korean subs, he’s sort of awesome.

He sure makes my heart go pitter-pat.

If he’s still alive, that is.

He does this bad-ass despot stuff, but manages to look like a drag queen Dr. No.

Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il seem to have the same stylist.

Ken Pavès, is what I heard—the guy who does Jessica Simpson’s hair.

Don’t pick on her. Poor girl’s been through so much. How dare you, John Mayer!

 

I may be confusing my U.S. News with my US Weekly.

Doesn’t matter. Both will be out of print by August. You read it here, first.

I don’t get the appeal of John Mayer…or Justin Timberlake, either, for that matter.

I just hope I live long enough to see the broken down, lonely, sexless versions of Mayer and Timberlake. Though JT is a surprisingly funny dude.

Yeah, he is funny. I’ll grant him that. I just wish he were nicer to poor Jessica Biel. Maybe it’s the name “Jessica” that somehow attracts bad boyfriends? As for the broken-down Mayer, that will also happen by August.

We’ve really gone high-brow here, huh?

Yeah, we should probably leave John Mayer to wither into sexless obscurity and get back to the matter at hand. Holy Water opens with a river on fire; basically, oil on the water has burst into flames. Eerily prescient, as that could happen in the Gulf any day now.

Yeah. Bad news for humanity. But great for me and my 1631 readers. What’s happening in the Gulf is what’s happening in my magical kingdom of Galado. Corporate hubris and neglect run amok.

Yup. Colin Powell, for one, spoke about water as the new oil, in that future wars will concern water.

I didn’t know the Colin Powell line, but I believe it.

It’s amazing, when you stop and think about it, that the one most integral thing we need for survival falls out of the fucking sky.

I liked the idea of having water as a theme, something natural and abundant and free being polluted and sold and fought over and, in the case of Holy Water, bottled and sold through a back-office call center in a draught-plagued nation.

I read an article in The New Yorker a few years back about how the Southwest U.S. will have huge problems with water supply in the years to come—that dividing the states into pleasant shapes, the way they did, rather than creating borders based on water supply, was a terrible idea (although great for kids’ U.S. state puzzles).

I read that article as well. Chinatown was ahead of the curve on that.

“The water commissioner drowns during a drought…only in L.A.”

In fact, the history of the town I live in, Mahopac, was corrupted by water. In 1871 neighborhoods were moved to make way for reservoir to provide H2O to New York City, and Boss Tweed had his corrupt fingers all over it.

That happened a lot upstate. Whole towns were drowned to build the reservoirs.

Ashokan, right? I have an abandoned novel that is set in that period. I like it, and there’s not one joke in the whole thing.

I think it’d be a fertile topic for a novel. The idea of saying goodbye to a hometown, forever. Sad and kind of creepy.

My dead book starts with a house being pulled by horse and capstan through a valley, on timbers.

I don’t know what a capstan is.

John Mayer does.

He’s going to need to, as his career is toast in a few weeks. But enough about water shortages, corporate corruption, and ruination of mankind…let’s talk about big boobs.

Stay classy, New Paltz.

Meredith, your book’s most buxom character and its emotional center…

Meredith, killer admin by day, big boob web goddess by night…

She’s Joan Holloway for the 21st century.

 

 

She has a great speech I’m too lazy to look up, about how the societal role of men is in flux.

Her speech does make some salient points about the state of modern man. A friend of mine was the head of research for Leo Burnett in Chicago and they conducted a world wide man study…

That sounds like a reality show.

She spoke to thousands of men in dozens of countries and was kind enough to share.

Masculinity is a theme in Holy Water. For example, there is much talk of vasectomies. I see the vasectomy as a rite of passage for fathers of a certain age, not unlike the self-mutilation ceremonies performed by some primitive tribes at puberty, perhaps also in Galado. At the risk of getting too personal: have you been snipped?

Well, Greg, no. I haven’t been snipped (the book’s original title, by the way)…

Wimp.

…but it certainly was in the suburban air in my part of the world and I thought it made for an interesting flash point. Have you had breast reduction surgery?

I made Jonathan swear never to tell anyone!

Does he perform that as well?

Evison does everything. I think he practices on the rabbits.

I hope I got my snipped facts right. I certainly had a lot of access to those who were, who will and who might. Some of whom were also my music muses.

I have, in fact, been snipped. It’s very much not a big deal, although it did bring up a lot of stuff for me beforehand. I think you do a nice job conveying that sense of anxiety.

Thanks. I’m a chameleon when it comes to conveying anxiety.

We’re at 2000 words, so we should probably wrap this up.

Depressing, especially in light of the fact that I’ve written about 500 in the first 6 hours of today.

What’s next for you? Book tour? Movie deal? Extradition to Galado?

I’m working on a novel about the financial world.

This makes me happy. I think you have a keen insight into the business world that many fiction writers lack, and I’m psyched for the next one.

Oddly, not a huge book tour in the U.S. I did a lot for Adland and have decided to write instead of self promote. Which is not at all like me. However, while I’ve been invited to exactly zero writer’s festivals or conferences in the U.S., I’ve been asked to attend three in Australia this summer. Bringing the whole family, which means I’ll lose about $5k by the end of August.

We novelists do live high on the hog. Well, have fun Down Under. And thanks for stopping by TNB.

Well thanks, and thanks for having me. Love TNB. Whatever the hell that is.


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GREG OLEAR is the Los Angeles Times bestselling author of the novels Totally Killer and Fathermucker and founding editor of The Weeklings.

157 responses to “Holy Water, Coors Light: The James P. Othmer Interview”

  1. Becky says:

    John Mayer is drop-dead gorgeous. And he sings and plays the guitar reasonably well, which is usually enough to generate appeal even for a less attractive man.

    He appears to be of above-average intelligence and introspection for a rock star, if predictably self-obsessed and suffering mild ego inflation (which he has the good sense to be ashamed about, usually). He’s also crude and pretty funny.

    His blues influence is convincing, neatly packaged; his lyrics are accessible and so is he, again, as far as rock stars go.

    Part of me really, really likes John Mayer…and part of me is embarrassed of that part of me, mostly because others disapprove of him so strongly. Though aside from being a little douchey, I’ve never really understood what everyone thinks is so wrong with him. He’s a Libra, man. He ain’t tryin’ to hurt nobody.

    • Greg Olear says:

      For the same reasons you cite — mostly the gorgeousness, the successful rock star thing, and the fact that he’s bedded half of Hollywood — men hate him. Just like women hate Angelina Jolie.

      (He’s also pretty funny, I think).

      • Becky says:

        Oh no no no.

        While I’m sure you’re right about Mayer, I hate Jolie because she’s batshit crazy and probably a succubus. I liked her a great deal–successful, gorgeous, even crazy–and all, until she went into the husband-stealing, baby menagerie business. Prior to that, she was my kind of girl.

        I can only hope I live long enough to read the Mommie Dearest tell-all one of them will write in about 30 years. Because then I will dance the I-called-it dance with the wildest of abandon. That’s my favorite dance.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I have inside sources who claim that AJ is, in fact, a dutiful mom. I think it’s probably better to do the Mia Farrow thing than wear a vial of some dude’s blood around your neck. But then, what do I know.

          Also: I don’t like John Mayer’s tats. He’s a guy who would look better without them.

        • Becky says:

          Weird as the blood thing was, it was essentially benign. Certainly less ripe for unintended harmful consequences to others than amassing a toddler U.N.

          I have no inside sources but my gut, but I’ve got to listen to it. It usually serves me well, and it tells me the woman ain’t right.

          Though in 30 years, if the big reveal never comes, feel free to send video of your I-told-you-so dance.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I’m not saying there won’t be a Mommie Dearest tell-all, just that I think her intentions are purer than, say, Madonna’s, whose adoption seems largely inspired by the fact that all the cool chicks are doing it.

          Zahara is taking notes. You can tell by looking at her.

        • Becky says:

          Intentions are kind of a separate issue…arguably having children at all is a selfish act…most people aren’t even aware of their own true intentions half the time, let alone anyone else’s.

          I don’t know. I don’t know what to say. All I’ve got is this nonspecific but intense conviction that some kind of yuckiness goes there. There’s this overpowering aura of manipulation and insincerity buffeting everything around her. She may believe everything she’s saying, but I don’t.

          I don’t normally feel so convinced about people I’ve never met, but she seriously gives me the creeps.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Well, she is kinda creepy. And not at all warm.

          I think she’s actually Salt, in real life, and the new movie is a doc.

        • Becky says:

          The husband wants to see that.

          I have no desire. I don’t even feel hostile or spiteful about it. Total and complete indifference.

          Which, really, at the end of the day, is probably a more correct description of how I feel about her. I can’t remember the last thing she was in that I had much of a feeling about.

          Beowulf.

          That one had her in the right role.

        • Greg Olear says:

          One of the things that’s sort of amazing about her is how lackluster her IMDB page is. I mean, has she made one movie ever than anyone cares about? Whereas her husband — or the father of her children, both biological and adopted — has a pretty awesome resume chock full of quality flicks.

        • Becky says:

          And, really, I like Brad Pitt, deep down. Legends of the Fall is one of my favorite epic tearjerkers ever.

          My current feelings about him are more along the lines of “I’m so disappointed in you.” Not because of the films he’s made, but for lacking the mental fortitude to resist Jolie.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy, has a theory that Brad Pitt still thinks they’re filming “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and that everything else is just part of the big picture.

          I never saw “Legends,” although I know it’s good. He’s made a couple of clunkers, but mostly I like pretty much his entire body of work, especially the comedies. “Burn After Reading?” Genius.

        • Becky says:

          Oh my. See Legends. Some people have said it’s a little overwrought, but it gets me every time.

          And it’s “dude” enough to appeal to guys, too.

          I get to sniffle and weep and Palani gets to watch guys ride horses and shoot stuff and do manly bonding things.

        • Dana says:

          Heh. Legends of the Fall = only movie I’ve ever walked out of.

        • Becky says:

          What? Why? It earned some of the criticism it got, but it wasn’t walk-out worthy.

        • Dana says:

          As I recall the theater was filled with swooning women and I was dying of boredom. With the great cast I was just expecting much more. It was a beautiful photographed film, and Brad with long hair – um yes please. Perhaps it was just the wrong day for me. After the 4th big yawn I elbowed my husband who was equally as bored and we rolled.

          It could just be Harrison’s material. eh.

          Pay me no mind, I sit through HORRIBLE movies all the time.

        • Becky says:

          I’ve heard it described as a “soap epic,” and “melodrama,” which is probably correct to some degree.

          It does move slow, but the dramz in the characters’ personal lives is the big deal…not a ton of action. Anna Karenina-ish…something like that.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I’ll have to check it out, to see who’s right…the only movie I walked out of was “The Piano,” which, to me, was like a long SNL sketch gone bad.

          “Legends” is long, though…might take us a week to see the whole thing.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Whether you like it or not will probably have a lot to do with your emotional vulnerability when it comes to movies.

          Physical action is scarce, but emotional action is everywhere, including during the physical action.

          All of that aside, though, Pitt puts in a stellar performance. Most critics seem to agree on that.

          His character is seriously empathetic. At least for me.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Also, that movie gave me a crush on Aiden Quinn that has yet to be supported by anything else he’s done.

        • Greg Olear says:

          My guess is I’ll like it. I went to see “Bridges of Madison County”…at a matinee…by myself…and bawled like a baby.

          Aiden Quinn lives up in my neck of the woods. RIght across the river, I believe.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Don’t take a week to watch it. Give up the extra hour of sleep and power through. It’s absorbing, so you have to let yourself be absorbed.

        • Dana says:

          I’m definitely emotionally available. Ha.

          Aiden Quinn is attractive, but I always feel like he’s not emotionally available. Same with Brad Pitt. Huh. Maybe we’re getting to the reason I didn’t get it.

          Movies that make me bawl like a baby: Almost all of them. 😀

          Greg, please watch this movie and post a review! Cynthia — as a pro, what did you think?

        • Greg Olear says:

          I like the title…it’s like “Fables of the Reconstruction,” in that it can be read both ways:

          Legends of the Fall of the Legends

          I’ll let you know my verdict. I think I’ll probably like it, though.

        • Gloria says:

          Aiden Quin is great in Benny and Joon. He’s a cutie.

          I hope Jolie is a good mom. But then, i hope that about anyone who’s taken on the job. I’m like that. Sending good vibes out to the universe and whatnot.

          The only movie I ever walked out on was Aliens IV. That is one awful piece of shit.

      • Becky says:

        hmmm. Closing emdash should be after “and all.” Though I guess it could read both ways…

    • Gloria says:

      He’s in the manharem. And he’s pretty. Except that thing he does with his face when he plays guitar – which I hope he doesn’t do during sex, though he probably does. If so, then he’s in your wing of the manharem, Becky.

  2. James P. Othmer says:

    You’re right, Becky. It was catty of me to go there. He is gorgeous and talented and young and I’m old and bitter. To make things right, I’ll be listening to “Your Body is a Wonderland” for the rest of the day.

    • Becky says:

      I was trying to explain the appeal that Greg didn’t get, but that’s the spirit, anyway! Open minds and tolerance and self-honesty all around!

      Except me. I am exempt. Because Jolie is actually awful. I will not be moved.

      • Cynthia Hawkins says:

        But, Becky, have you considered that Jolie is actually a fembot? This is my theory. So, machine-gun jubblies and kung-fu grip might not impress you into changing your mind … but take into account that she may come with bottle-opener and play your favorite tunes (John Mayer!). Maybe even purify the air.

  3. Joe Daly says:

    Oh, so now competent-yet-derivative musicians rehashing the blues are fair game, Mr. Rubber Soul? Hmph.

    I enjoyed this interview tremendously. So many quips to refer back to, but I particularly enjoyed the dialogue about those who practice music as a religion. I completely agree that those with good taste should testify far and near! Those whose musical religion pertains to a singular artist should probably restrain their enthusiasm for the message boards, though.

    While the threat of considerations of vasectomies is horrifying, I nonetheless will be adding “Holy Water” to my reading list.

    Thanks for the great interview.

  4. JM Blaine says:

    Strange you mention this
    a guy said the other day:
    “Never met a Jessica that wasn’t hot.”
    “What about Jessica Tandy?” I asked.
    “Dude,” he said.

    Branson would be sweet tea
    & Kenny Rogers.
    Or maybe RC Cola.
    No alcohol in BRanson.

    I want Napolean’s iPod.

  5. dwoz says:

    It’s funny about Mayer…In order to sing and get the same tone and style as him, you have to literally let your tongue fall out of your head while you’re singing. It’s the damnest thing.

  6. Now THIS is how you do an interview. There’s some people around here who could learn a thing or two. Starting with brevity. And always mentioning Joan Holloway, including a picture, regardless of the direction of the thread. Conversely, just like “Squeaky Fromme” and “Unsupervised child care,” the words “The Blues” and “John Meyer” should never, ever share a sentence. Still, nice work. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Greg, you know that slyly denying your hipness is the new Member’s Only jacket, right?

    I’ll keep an eye out for Holy Water, James. Good luck with it.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Sean. That is actually me in the photo playing Kubb. No further proof of lack of hipness required.

      And yes, the main thing about interviews is, boobs are more fun to talk about than, say, arguments about whether or not the novel is dead.

      Squeaky Fromme. Ha!

  7. Dana says:

    Fun interview Greg! Holy Water sounds like all kinds of fun. Yet another book to buy…

    As for the comments:

    I saw John Mayer before anyone really knew who he was because he was opening for the Wallflowers. I liked him better than the headliner. But I only remember him doing covers…

    I don’t think women universally hate Angelina Jolie. I don’t mind her at all. I’d much rather have a conversation with her than with Jessica Biel or Jessica Simpson. Also, I’d bet that Jessica Tandy was pretty hot when she was a younger woman. And now that you’ve thrown that out there – I can’t think of a single Jessica who isn’t really attractive.

    Kubb?!? Is that something only upstate New Yorkers know about?

    • Greg Olear says:

      Kubb is a Swedish lawn game my friends introduced me to last weekend at Guy Night Weekend. Very, very fun…put it this way: when your facility for a sport improves the more you drink, it’s a fun time. (In my case, it was the cigar that jumped by Kubb skills to a higher level).

      See my response to JMB re: Jessica Tandy.

      And I’m glad to hear that you’re also on Team Jolie.

    • Becky says:

      Weeelllll…..what is that really saying, though? I’d rather have a conversation with Charles Manson than either of those two.

      Doesn’t mean I WANT to have a conversation with any of them.

  8. Jessica Blau says:

    Great interview. Two funny guys!

    As a Jessica, I must say that I have, indeed, attracted lots of bad boyfriends. Also must point out, JT is hot. Post SNL. Pre SNL, I had no interest. But post, I love the guy.

  9. Cynthia Hawkins says:

    Terrific interview! Yet another writer I haven’t gotten to and should.

    I had a student dress as Kim Jong Il once on Halloween. She looked *just like him.* And she stayed in character through my entire lecture/discussion on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. It was awesomely funny.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Cynthia,

      Oh my God, that’s a great idea for a costume. Of course, a Kim Jong Il drag show would be even better.

      [trying to remember a quote from RAGAD…too hot…can’t think…giving up…]

    • James P. Othmer says:

      A few months back, when rumors of Kim Jong Il’s imminent death were in the air, I wrote his last will and testament. Only part I remember is that his over-sized sunglasses collection goes back to the estate of its original owner, Carol Channing.

      • Cynthia Hawkins says:

        That’s perfect! Any ideas on where the apparently vast VHS film library might end up? At least it’s not Beta. Or laserdisc.

        • James P. Othmer says:

          Not sure, but I found this:
          “II. My collection of kidnapped South Korean film makers and their families is to be returned to the nation of South Korea upon completion of the directors’ remake of the 1999 film “Inspector Gadget” and the biopic “Dear Leader: A Humble, Self-Reliant, and Occasionally Kooky Life.”
          III. My “Charter Member of the Axis of Evil” t-shirt, membership card and ironic trucker hat is to be placed on E-Bay, with proceeds going to the Axis of Evil Scholarship Fund…”

        • Cynthia Hawkins says:

          Ha! I’m thinking the VHS collection would possibly go the way of the ironic trucker hat. I know my personal VHS collection, when finally retired, went to a Catholic girls’ school library. I hope they enjoyed Trainspotting as much as I did!

        • Greg Olear says:

          I’m sure KJI has his sperm on ice somewhere, too. I mean, he must. Maybe a vial to every female cast member of Gossip Girl?

  10. I love an interview where the interviewer reveals as much about himself as the interviewee — and you have done that really well here, Greg. You are veritable pop culture maven ( this is not a bad thing in my opinion — I distrust people who only watch PBS and claim to not recognize the celebrities on the cover of People Magazine)– and I think that it is ultimately one of the reasons your writing is always so vibrant and so accessible.
    Still waiting for some pages… you’ve left me hanging… I feel like I’ve misplaced a really good book that I was reading……

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Robin.

      I am, indeed, a big fan of pop culture. I just find it all so amusing.

      And thanks for the props on the pages. Part Two is getting there…tomorrow and Thu are big writing days…

  11. Simon Smithson says:

    I read an interview once where a guy just said ‘Fuck it, I’m going to invite George Clooney over for dinner,’ invited George Clooney over for dinner, and proceeded to cook him a meal, talk about the old-school design of his house, and generally hang out.

    It was great. I really liked the way they settled into conversation about floor joists and ceilings really quickly.

    This was great the way you guys settled straight into easy backs-and-forths and joking around.

    And I like John Mayer. That guy’s done very well for himself. But I’m still weirded out by his racist penis. Anyone who played D&D in high school should be smart enough to know not to say things like that to the press.

    Also: anything that contains the words ‘Boss Tweed’ is A-OK by me.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, Simon. I did not invite Clooney for dinner; only Pitt & Jolie, but they didn’t take us up on it. You, Z, and Lenore were much more fun.

      I’m sure he wishes he could take the “racist penis” joke back. It isn’t a very good joke, although I could see how it would have made it through the internal censor.

      • Zara Potts says:

        Racist penis is a horrible term. Bleurgh.
        And I loved hanging out on your porch, Greg. Ange and Brad can SUCK IT.
        They don’t know what they’re missing!

        • Greg Olear says:

          Thanks, Zara.

          The thing is, the Jolie-Pitts would bring a gaggle of kids to the porch, instead of Cubans and candy and a blow-up kiwi bird that is now in our pool. No fun at all!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Exactly. they’d want to talk about human rights and Amnesty International and Buddhism.
          I’ve been meaning to ask.. how did all the candy go down? Are there any dental bills that I will now have to contribute to????

        • Greg Olear says:

          Steph put it in the freezer — yum — and we’ve been doling it out in small doses, to make it last. So no, we’re good.

          (We did wonder if you meant to leave all that candy here…after you left, we were like, Wait, was this for us, or was this meant for all the visits? But then we thought, Oh well, it’s yummy candy.)

        • Zara Potts says:

          It was just for you! To make up for the bloody awful spider I inadvertently sent you last year!!
          x

        • Greg Olear says:

          Well, thanks again. I’m going to go have some right now!

    • Dana says:

      George Clooney is more than welcome to come over for dinner anytime. Honestly. From all accounts he’s one of the best guys around, not just in Hollywood.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        He just looks like he’d be an OK guy, you know? He’s like the anti-Malkovich.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Is he really, though…or is he just acting? ; )

        • Zara Potts says:

          God, I’d take Malkovich over Clooney anyday…

        • Zara Potts says:

          (This reminds me of our awesome road trip ‘Don’t stop me..’ game, Brew!)

        • Greg Olear says:

          Have them both, Z, and Brad Pitt, too…watch “Burn After Reading.”

        • Zara Potts says:

          It’s a great movie! I’ll pass on Brad and Clooney though and stick with Malkovich. (as he was in Dangerous Liaisons)

        • Gloria says:

          Malkovich is so yummy in Dangerous Liaisons. Good call, Zara. Mmmm…

        • Greg Olear says:

          Can’t argue with that, although Alan Rickman played Valmont in the DL (or rather LD) stage play in London before the movie came out. Man, I would have loved to see that…

        • Gloria says:

          Is it weird that I find Alan Rickman painfully sexy as well? Particularly as Snape? Yes?

        • Zara Potts says:

          It’s all down to the voice.. Alan Rickman has a particularly sexy voice.
          And I loved him in ‘Truly. Madly. Deeply.”

        • Greg Olear says:

          Stephanie loooooooooves Alan Rickman. As Snape, or as anyone. Imagine him 20 years younger, around the Hans Gruber period, as Valmont. See? Brilliant.

        • Gloria says:

          Yes, there is something to be said about a voice. And a great actor. And anybody with a guitar… (Did you see Conan O’Brien’s last show? Tall, gangly, gingerman Conan turned absolutely seductive when he played the guitar at the end of the show.)

          There is a reason why so many men reside in Manharemsville. So, so many…

  12. Greg:

    At the moment, I don’t have any kind of witty response, or any thoughts one way or the other regarding John Mayer or Angelina Jolie. Great interview, though. I will say that much. Cheers.

  13. Tom Hansen says:

    Holy Water sounds cool. But…who is John Mayer? I’m serious…

  14. dwoz says:

    I get it.

    You get your jolies pitting brad against mayer for the Oscar. (he’s a weener.)

  15. I’m not sure who John Mayer is but I enjoyed this interview nonetheless.

  16. Richard Cox says:

    This is a phenomenal interview. Great work on both your parts to be so damned quippy. I’m definitely going to have to pick up a copy of Holy Water. Nothing tickles my fancy quite like the skewering of corporate America.

    Also, I hate John Mayer like any man worth his salt should. But JT, as Jessica pointed out, is definitely relevant post-SNL. For the cup of soup thing alone. And, you know, he’s a fairly good golfer whose on-course attire is better than almost all PGA Tour players.

    I don’t get why dudes are so into Jessica Simpson, though. I think she looks like Matt Damon. She must be the best lay in the world.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, man.

      She does look like she could be MD’s sister. And she also is apparently crude and rude — ripping off farts in business meetings, burping loud, etc. That’s been well-documented in US Weekly. But she’s still cute, and she has this sort of Bambi quality that makes me wish dudes would treat her better.

      You just don’t like her cuz she fucked with Romo’s head. ; )

      • Richard Cox says:

        I never thought the Simpson thing bothered Romo, although maybe when the media went on and on and on about it, it finally did. But honesty I never thought she had a very good figure, at least not until Dukes of Hazzard. And didn’t she get a breast reduction and then turn around and get augmentation? That suggests to me her original set wasn’t all it seemed. Ah, but what do I know? You know I’m not a fan of Us Weekly.

        😉

        • Richard Cox says:

          Oh, as far as guys treating her better, I mean, sure. Most everyone deserves to be treated with a measure of respect. But from what you describe, and from what little I’ve seen of her, it does seem to some degree that her own behaviors cause the sort of condescension and lack of respect directed toward her. Or maybe she’s super nice. Hard to know.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I didn’t know she had work done, but you may be right. My sense with her is that she’s just a very pretty regular chick, which is what I like about her — and probably what her numerous and varied paramours like: that she isn’t a gaunt stick figure. I like that she isn’t rail-thin, and that she wears clothes that normal people wear.

          As for Romo, his deal is that he chokes in big games. But then, you knew that already.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Someone explain to me WTF Billy Corgan was doing with her (no. Not like that), and my world will make sense again.

        • Greg Olear says:

          See, I think that’s the key. I think she doesn’t look like everyone else — she looks like a real actual person — and she’s sort of bewitching in that way.

          Her sister is married to the Fall Out Boy hipster, so it’s not like Jess can’t go indie if she wanted to. Her nephew is named Bronx, for Pete sake. (Pete Wentz, that is).

        • Richard Cox says:

          I don’t get the “regular chick” thing at all. Quite the opposite. But here again, I have no insight other than bits like “chicken of the sea” and whatever. And if she is faking being stupid, she should really stop that. Surely people besides me find it unbecoming?

          And I’m with you on stick figure women…not a fan. Although I do make an exception for certain Victoria’s Secret models. But while I admit to being part of a tiny minority, I still think poor Jessica looks like a guy in the face. No offense, sweetheart. I mean if you tried to seduce me, you know I’d cave. This judgment is purely theoretical. Hahaha.

        • Greg Olear says:

          She does sort of look like a guy in the face. But I think she’s one of those people who look much better in person. That’s my other theory. I’m not all a-drool for her or anything, but I like her. Romo should have locked that down.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Wow. You guys are hard markers…

        • Becky says:

          I have a feeling Jessica could go a lot of ways; I’m concerned with where Billy thought he was going.

        • Gloria says:

          There is nothing wrong with women who look like guys in the face. May I also add that a shorn head will make almost all makeup-less women look like dudes? I can testify.

        • Richard Cox says:

          ZaraPotts, these types of discussions among men are purely theoretical. They don’t apply to real relationships or real people we actually know. 🙂

          Greg, as far as Romo, don’t you think he might have gotten bored at some point? He’s a fairly sharp guy (who has not proven himself in many big games, admittedly). I mean, what would they talk about? Even if she were the hottest woman in the world, it seems she may not be the brightest.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Richrob – Sure!! Hahahah.

          Gloria – when I shaved my head, I looked like a refugee. But it felt so good after I showered!

          Becky – I like Billy Corgan’s teeth.

        • Becky says:

          I like BIlly Corgan’s voice. I actually do.

          And he’s so…weird. He’s just weird. Weird looking, weird acting, weird singing…weird dating…

          There is no one quite like him. I find this admirable.

        • Matt says:

          Jessica Simpson did a meet-and-greet event at the nightclub I worked at in 2004. I had to deal with her & her management both before and afterwards. I am fully convinced that it’s not an act; she is exactly as stupid in person as she comes across in the media.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Becky – I find there is something sexy about weird teeth. And weird flaws – I know you and I have spoken about Joaquin’s scar.. but I also quite like Thom Yorke’s droopy eye.
          I don’t know – flaws make a person interesting somehow..

        • Richard Cox says:

          Wait a minute. Weird teeth? Ahem? Hellooooooo??

        • Zara Potts says:

          Okay. Okay. YOU are the exception, Richrob. You have lovely teeth.
          Your teeth are much, much nicer than wonky old Billy Corgan’s.
          Better?

        • Richard Cox says:

          Oh. Why, thank you, ZaraPotts. I was actually just wondering what you meant.

          That’s all.

          Really.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Becky, BC’s thought process was as follows: “I haven’t been talked about much lately, and the darling of the tabloids, who has nice shall-we-say assets, wants to meet for drinks. That might be good publicity. And a nice roll in the hay.”

          Rich, you’re probably right that he got bored, and sick of the attention. He doesn’t seem like he likes the spotlight that way, unlike, say, Reggie Bush or TO or 85. I just thought they were a cute couple.

          Matt, thanks for the knowledge. I have another source I can go to, who dealt with her extensively, and if we have two, that’s a wrap, far as I’m concerned,

        • Zara Potts says:

          @ Richrob – Oh. Well. I meant that I like wonky teeth. But then your comment made me remember that perfect teeth are to be complimented too.
          And you do have perfect teeth. I’m just jealous that mine aren’t nearly so nice.

        • Becky says:

          I don’t think Billy Corgan quite thinks like that. I mean, that’s not just me giving him the benefit of the doubt. He launched a particularly earnest spiritual website a year or so ago…The site itself is down for maintenance, but I can assure you it is the most sincerely weird thing I’ve ever seen. Here’s a taste:

          http://pitchfork.com/news/36451-bill-corgan-launches-spiritual-website/

          But it hardly does the thing justice. It’s incredible. The man has had some kind of weirdo epiphany and is embarking on a new-age interwebs spiritual odyssey of baffling proportions.

        • Richard Cox says:

          All those supporting points considered, Becky, BC’s sex chromosomes are still of the X and Y variety, which makes him vulnerable to the wiles of women with a certain hips-to-waist-to-boobs ratio. Unfortunately.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh my God. Just like Terence Trent D’arby.
          Who now goes by the name of Sananda Maitreya.

        • Becky says:

          Unlike most men, he’s had those women throwing themselves at him for 20 years. He’s suddenly helpless against it now?

          I don’t care how male he is. Nothing explains that unholy union. Nothing.

        • Richard Cox says:

          You make good points, for sure. Your logic is sound. And yet it doesn’t surprise me at all.

          Ask Greg. Ask any dude who will be honest with you.

          It doesn’t have to make sense.

        • Becky says:

          Aiiieeee! Zara! I love that song! The one he had.

          It came on at the thrift store the other day and I was full-on dancing in the women’s knit tops aisle.

          This one!

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-Uz-dPANDY

        • Richard Cox says:

          Terence is wishing he had more than one hit.

        • Zara Potts says:

          What are you talking about, Richrob? He was a giant of the 80’s!
          He had a lot of hits. And no, there is no missing consonant in that line…
          And plus – he was super hot.

        • Becky says:

          You’re so full of it, Rich.

          Men reject women’s advances all the time. Or is it just me? It’s because I have little boobs and am skinny and am therefore not real, probably. *glares at Greg*

        • Becky says:

          I don’t care how many hits he had. That song is sexy.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Rise up, stick figure women! You and me both Becky!
          Fuck Tarantino. Fuck big tits. Yay for TTD.

        • Becky says:

          *raises bony fist in solidarity*

          PREACH!

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          I’m not a stick, but I am a member of the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. I stand with you ladies.

          I can tell you FOR SURE that merely having a vagina won’t get you laid just because you’re geared up and ready to go.

          Also, I’d like to point out to Richard that there are loads of men with X and Y chromosomes that would never have sex with a woman. And those men are called homosexuals. I’m sure you have them in Oklahoma, you just probably can’t spot them as easily as you can in Portland.

          I’d also like to point out that Jamie Lee Curtis has an X and Y chromosome. She’s not likely to have sex with Jessica Simpson either.

        • dwoz says:

          Ok, now I’m completely and utterly confused.

          Apparently, I and about 2 billion of my closest male friends MISSED that part of class when they covered the whole “code words used by women who are geared up and ready to go” thing.

          Is that the part where you look through us like we don’t exist, and wonder out loud if the band could possibly suck more than they do?

        • Richard Cox says:

          Thank you, Gloria, for pointing out the flaws in my metaphor. I stand corrected. From now I will follow Simon’s lead and footnote my comments and posts to ensure I take into consideration all possible outcomes of my generalised statements.

          ZaraPotts and Becky, by “stick figure” I mean unhealthily skinny women. Neither of you two fall into that category, so I disavow your solidarity.

          😉

        • Simon Smithson says:

          @dwoz: the code word is ‘ponderous’. When a woman uses that in conversation, it’s go time.

          We lost a lot of good men to discover that information.

          @RC: Hey! I do do that!

        • Greg Olear says:

          I’m ashamed to admit this, but when I read — with the same WTF look in my face that Becky describes — about the Corgan/Simpson union in US Weekly back when the odd story broke, a source close to BC told the magazine that he has a weakness for “cheerleader types with big boobs.” Hence my “shall-we-say assets” comment.

          None of the keepers of the manharem have any shortcomings in the pulchritude department, far as I’m concerned. Lord Bowie and his minions can rest easy.

        • Becky says:

          I don’t believe it, Greg. Who knows what I would tell US Weekly about you guys, given the opportunity?

          Richard, it is true that I am not as skinny as I used to be. Thanks for pointing that out.

          (Keep digging, man…keep. digging.)

        • Richard Cox says:

          Nah, you guys can have it. I’ve lost interest.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Just got this week’s US Weekly in the main. Guess who’s on the cover? Jessica Simpson!

          SSE.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Okay, Simon isn’t even here. There is a name for it when it’s not on TNB, you know…

          the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

          As such:

          http://wikibin.org/articles/baader-meinhof-phenomenon.html

          Roughly the same thing.

          “There are several theories about the psychological explanation of the phenomenon, including a popular one that cites its primary cause as being the recency effect, in which the human brain has a bias that lends increased prominence to new or recently acquired information.”

          In this case, “recently discussed information” is probably close enough.

        • Greg Olear says:

          One of my old girlfriends used to call it “serendipity.” She knew what the word really meant, but thought — rightly I think — that it SHOULD refer to SSSE/BMP. And she won an Emmy this year, so she should know.

  17. Gloria says:

    Great interview. The water thing is depressing. Didn’t know you were fixed, so that’s new info. (I’m fixed too, by the way. I [used to] get pregnant quicker than any other female who’s ever bred.)

    Is 2,000 words the limit for an interview? Because my Storm interview (going up Saturday) is 18 pages… 🙁

    Anyway, this was really fun. Still need to have beers with you and Steph one day and talk about this shit. And other shit. And shit.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Thanks, G. Been missing your online presence, I must say…FB just ain’t the same without you.

      My wife went through two pregnancies and two different but difficult births, not to mention the breastfeeding. Least I could do was spend 14 minutes having a doctor who calls me dude laser away some interior cables. Plus I got to lay in bed the next day with icepacks, reading a pile of books.

      2000 word is my arbitrary cut-off, but there is no limit. It’s not like we’re paying for pages and ink.

      I’m hoping to get to Portland for the next book tour, sometime in, oh, 2012 maybe? 2013? Things move slow in publishing. We’ll have that beer one of these days…

      • Gloria says:

        You’re welcomed to visit any time you’d like. I’ll put you up. Bring the family!

        And thanks for your kind words about missing me. I have to say: I’ve engaged with TNB ten times more than before since I murdered by Facebook page. 🙂

        • Greg Olear says:

          Thanks. I shall be leaving the kiddies in NJ when we get out there, although our sons would probably get along swimmingly.

        • Gloria says:

          Oh, Greg. I know they would! Our whole families would! If only Portland and whereverthehellyoulivenow weren’t about as far apart as two US Cities can be! 🙁

        • Greg Olear says:

          Hehe. My wife had a friend who was kind of a crazymaker who moved there years ago (ironically, she moved down the street from us in upstate NY later, after the fall-out). I wrote some of a fake country song about her leaving, called “Portland Isn’t Far Away Enough.”

          But seriously, I would love to get to Portland. I have friends there, and Powells has been really good to me.

        • Matthew Morse says:

          On the “Portland Isn’t Far Away Enough” front, you should check out “Postcards from Mexico” by Girlyman.

  18. Judy Prince says:

    Greg, I loved your wit-riffs with James, despite my not getting half of them.

    Thanks!

  19. baby shop says:

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    […]Greg Olear | Holy Water, Coors Light: The James P. Othmer Interview | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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