the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Dread Crew Meme


Long time readers of this blog know that I am too lazy to ever do a meme.   They are hard work!    Recently, Kate Inglis, who blogs at “Sweet / Salty” put up a meme on her blog as a promotion for her new book, “The Dread Crew.”   The fact that I am doing this meme should tell you a lot about what I think about her.    She is a special person, soon-to-be big-shot writer or not.  I met her at BlogHer and she glows with positive creative energy.

I should also admit that doing this meme has been useful for me, so I am glad to did it.   I’m realizing now, as I scan over my book list, that I need to get back into reading more books.  My book reading has thinned since I started blogging.  I can’t live on a diet of blog posts forever.

From the blog of Kate Inglis

Here we have it—a baker’s dozen meme all about storytelling and the stories of any genre that have impacted you. Post your answers in the comments on [Kate’s site] or on your own blog (link to the Dread Crew site and this post, and then share the link to your answers in the comments on [Kate’s site].

On Halloween Night, a random selection of five meme participants will win a copy of The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods signed by the author, and a spot in the reviewer’s circle on the author’s blog at   Now—go!

My answers —

1)  You are facing an epic journey. You may choose one companion, one tool and one vehicle from any book or film to accompany you. Or just one of the three.  It’s up to you. What do you choose?

This was a tough question.  There are so many literary tools and vehicles to choose from that would be incredibly useful on a journey — from magical swords to flying carpets.  But, as any real reader knows, these material objects are useless without the essential tool — a sidekick.  Would Frodo had made it a block out of the Shire without Sam at his side?  While our hero is pushing the journey forward, he needs someone who is supportive and loving nearby, someone will fight WITH him, and AGAINST  him, if necessary.  I would be lost on an amazing adventure if  I had to undertake it on by myself.    Soon, my brain would play tricks on me, stuck in my own head’s maze, fighting windmills rather than than true villains opposing me.  Like Don Quixote, I would need a Sancho Panza.  Sancho Panza is THE sidekick.  He would be witty, faithful, and would put up with me as I slowly go crazy.  That is more powerful than any magic sword.

2)  You can escape to the insides of any book. Where do you go, and why?

I think I might get a kick inhabiting the world of Henry James’ “The Portrait of a Lady.”  I can see myself as the uncultured American trying to fit into sophisticated European society, hoping to win the hand of the very hot and very wealthy Isabel Archer.  There would be a lot of gossip, mean-spirited cliques, class-consciousness, and back-stabbing in this nineteenth century world, and the whole culture would remind me of the blogosphere of today, so I would fit right in!

3)  You can bring one literary character into your current life. Who do you choose, and why?

Moses, and not because he spoke to God.  He seems like a cool guy, not pretentious, even with his famous contacts in Heaven.  This is a dude who went from zero to hero.   He didn’t start off as super-confident, but gradually he learned to kiss some ass.  I think he could help me get my life in gear because of his unique leadership ability.  Now that would be a corporate “bootcamp” that I would want to attend.  Also, imagine how impressive my Passover seder would be if I had Moses there in attendance!

4)  _________________ is my go-to book. I could read that book fifty-seven times in a row without a break for food or a pee and not be remotely bored. In fact I’ve already done that but it wasn’t fifty-seven times.  It was sixty-four.

Everyone’s  read Kafka’s Metamorphosis in school, right?   That shit is WEIRD!   I love this story.  I remember reading this book in high school and feeling my brain on fire.  WTF kind of story is THIS?!  I’m not sure I even liked it at first, but WOW.  And each time I read it, is a different story.  The first time it is creepy, and the next time it is funny.  I’ve even found it romantic.  Gregor Samsa rocks!

5)  Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most enviable?

I’m going to have to cheat here a bit in order for my answer to be honest.  Of all “literary” characters, Bugs Bunny made the greatest impact on my life.  When I was a child, I dreamed of being like Bugs Bunny.  He could talk his way out of any situation, and always came out the winner.  My prized stuffed animal was a giant Bugs Bunny.  He is still my model of the ultimate hipster.

6)  Of all the literary or film characters that made an impression on you as a kid, who was the most frightening?

One day, I will need to discuss this book with a therapist, but I never liked Pinocchio.  He is the grandfather to characters like “Chucky,” and other puppets and dolls that come to life.  I don’t want my freakin’ puppets to come to life!  That’s scary!  Carlo Collodi’s Pinnochio (not the sanitized Disney version) was filled with images that creeped me out, especially when our puppet-boy hero is led astray and ends up on this sinful Pleasure Island where the “bad” boys are turned into donkeys.  What deranged mother reads this sicko book to her child?  This book traumatized me for life.  I’ve never admitted this to anyone before, online or off, but when I became a teenager, there were times that I would get certain thoughts in my head, and a part of my body, not my nose — but another part — would grow large like Pinocchio’s nose, and I would have to rush into the shower and take a freezing shower, or throw ice cubes down my shirt.  This malady has ruined my life.  I don’t know why this physical reaction happens to me (it still does!), but I’m figuring that I am still having severe traumatic side effects from reading Pinocchio.  I HATE Pinocchio.

7)  Every time I read _________________, I see something in it that I haven’t seen before.

I’m a big fan of stories told with a framing device, like “The Arabian Nights” and “The Canterbury Tales.”  My favorite is Boccaccio’s The Decameron.  In this book, a group of travelers escaping the Bubonic Plague sit around and tell stories.  The reason I always see something new here is that the stories are fused with esoteric Medieval, Christian, and Greek symbolism, so you are never quite sure what the story is about!   Is there a moral lesson?  What is it?   This book has been a great influence on my writing.   The Decameron contains  some wonderful pornographic tales, where nuns are f**king, etc., but it is supposed to be religious in metaphor.  My guess is that Boccaccio was just a horny guy, and pulling the wool over the Pope’s eyes.  This is one of those books were you can read porn and still carry the book around freely on a college campus, impressing the brainy chicks.

8)  It is imperative that _________________ be made into a movie. Now. I am already picketing Hollywood for this—but if they cast _________________ as _________________, I will not be happy. I will, however, be appeased if they cast _________________.

“Boy: Tales of Childhood,” the autobiography of Roald Dahl would make a fantastic film.  I LOVE the stories of Roald Dahl.   The book recounts his school days, and you can definitely see the writer in the making as Dahl explores life in Britain in the 1930s.  Cast an unknown.

9)  _________________ is a book that should never be made (or should have never been made) into a film.

Some day they WILL make “Catcher in the Rye” into a movie, and yes, it will suck.

10)  After all these years, the _________________ scene in the book/movie _________________ still manages to give me the queebs.

I cannot watch “Silence of the Lambs” anymore, or read books about horrific serial killers.  Too much for me.

11)  After all these years, the _________________ scene in the book/movie _________________ still manages to give me a thrill.

I still cry at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” even thought I am making sarcastic comments in my head. What an effective manipulative piece of crap/artwork!  I have seen this movie a hundred times.  I love all of Frank Capra’s movies.   Another favorite is “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”   I’m a sap.

12)  If I could corner the author _________________, here’s what I’d say to them one minute or less about their book, _________________:

If i were to corner newly published author Kate Inglis of The Dread Crew, I would say to her, “You look a little less glamorous in real life than you do on your book cover, where that wind machine is blowing your hair, but you are still a pretty hot babe.”

13)  The coolest non-fiction book I’ve ever read is _________________. Every time I flip through it, it makes me want to _________________.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn blew me away.  The book is primarily about how changes of paradigms occur in science.  For example, how scientists slowly moved to a Copernican way of looking at the world, seeing the sun as center.   The book sounds dull, but it is so much more.   It is a classic.   It is about how our minds work and how we restructure our perspectives and thoughts.   Whenever I flip through the book, I want to get a PhD in experimental psychology.


  1. slouchy

    Roald Dahl is kick-ass. My kids think so, too.

  2. slouchy

    Do you like Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man? I’d guess that you would. One of my favorites.

  3. magpie

    I love It’s a Wonderful Life. I guess I’m a sap.

  4. Heather

    I KNEW IT!

  5. PattyCake

    #13: The Day the Universe Changed, James Burke

  6. Anne Arkham

    You’d want me to go with you. I can do things you can’t.

  7. kelly

    Nabakov, The Eye…deserves something…but I am too tired and too overwhelmed with my Halloween costume to answer all those questions…

  8. Juli Ryan

    Finally, a good meme.

  9. better safe than sorry

    i’ve never seen silence of the lambs either, for that very reason. i love getting lost in a really good book, so much better than watching a movie, each of us bring something different to a book, whereas it’s already been done for you in a movie.

  10. sweetsalty kate

    I’m jumping up and down that you like “Boy: Tales of Childhood”. I devoured it, and then went on to devour “Going Solo”, the followup. Have you read it?

    You’re making me want to read them again. Oh, Roald. You lovely freak.

  11. sweetsalty kate

    Oh, and also: I guess I should bring that wind machine with me wherever I go. I could attach it to a hat. Insta-glam.

    Thank you, though, for saying I am “a little less glamourous” in real life as opposed to “not remotely glamourous” or “only slightly better than Jabba the Hutt”. I’m touched.

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