Mike Calahan: International Man of History


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Last weekend, the eclectic and shadowy author of B.L.O.G., Mike Calahan, was gracious enough to fly out to Chowderhead Ranch for an exclusive one on one interview.  Good thing, because an email interview would have been way too cheap and easy.

I’ve been following Mike and his unique brand of humor for the better part of a year, and currently work along side him as a part of the hit collaboration, Long Awkward Pause. He’s a quipy, up-and-coming author with a sharp tongue and a robust head of hair –  placing him among the ranks of other stylish hair icons like, Elvis Presley, James Dean, and John Stamos.

Like most artists, Mike is a reserved personality, but his work reveals that there’s a whole lot going on behind the coy grin and stylish, black frame glasses.  If you haven’t already done so, I’d highly recommend sampling some of his work while enjoying your morning latte.

A dark roast toast to everyone joining this fine Tuesday morning.

Here’s a look inside:

*****

I can’t even put into words how excited I am to have you here.  I’m actually sweating.  

When you asked to interview me, I just assumed it was because you were desperate for content and wanted to lose readership quickly.

Fret not.  I’m fully capable of losing readership without your help.  

Fair enough.

Let’s kick it off with a burning question – I’m curious about the name “Calahan.”  Is there some sort of religious connotation behind it, like, was Calahan an apostle or something like that? 

That’s a question I get asked all the time.  Well, after John the Baptist was beheaded, the people looked for a new leader with an undiagnosed mental disorder.  Rodrigo the Manic Depressive was really into the idea, but then really against it. Drake the Paranoid was convinced everyone was making fun of him. Finally, they settled on Calahan the Dysthymic. Most people became atheists soon after.

As you can probably tell by the expression on my face, I’m not really a man of faith.

I’m not a man of begorrah, so it works out.

I’ll look that up later.  Mike, why do you choose to remain such an enema in the blogging world?

IMG_3076Are you asking if I’m anemic? I get dark circles under my eyes sometimes.  I really don’t know for sure how to respond to that…

I mean, you seem like a pretty private person.  Is this accurate?  

A bit. I mean, I readily share my credit card PIN codes and SSN’s with curious strangers, sure. But other things, personal things like, oh, ice cream preference or favorite belt loop are things I like to keep quiet. It makes me seem really mysterious and enigmatic, even though I’m not.

“Enigma” was the word I was searching for.  

Let me know if you find it.

How’s the coffee?

It tastes fine. I won’t lie, I’d prefer not to have to share a cup, but the coffee itself is flavorful.

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Excellent.  Describe your morning routine for us.  I’m curious how a day in the life of Calahan begins.

Well, after cursing the morning for arriving, I get up and make breakfast for my wife, pack her lunch, then feed the pets. Once everyone is taken care of, I then sit down for a full day of high-stakes online gambling. Let’s just say that Papa owes a lot of people a lot of money.  Actually, I’m pretty boring in real life. Bursts of creativity mixed with anxiety about writing as a career is the best description.

Describe your writing style.  Are you a satirist?  Is most of your inspiration drawn from real life, or are your writings mainly fictional?  

I write the occasional satirical piece, but I wouldn’t call myself a satirist. Honestly, I just write what I think is funny, something that I would want to read. Sometimes it is a situation that comes from real life, like many of my blog posts. Other times, especially with fiction, an idea comes to me while watching a movie or reading or even falling asleep. It might just be a gag that quickly balloons into a full story arch or it’s a character for which I want to find a good narrative. I have one short story that I use to play a prank on the reader, actually. The joke is in upending the reader’s obvious (and very natural) inference of the characters and setting. I thought it was funny, but it’s not published, so what do I know?

Now, do you consider yourself a beatnik?

While I’ve devoured a lot of the Beat writings, I don’t consider myself a Beatnik, no. Then again, I don’t consider myself a No-Goodnik, either. Nor am I a Sputnik. It’s possible I’m a nudnik, but I’m not really sure.

Who’s responsible for assigning the meanings to the acronym, B.L.O.G.?  

That responsibility falls on me and me alone. I have gotten suggestions in the past, but it’s always a matter of finding the perfect picture to go along with the acronym. It doesn’t always pan out.

Any particular selection a favorite?

My personal favorite is the couple holding hands as they lie in separate beds. I called that one Biblical Living’s Obligatory Gap.

What was it like playing a supporting role in the hit 90’s movie, The Sandlot?  

Oh, man. If I had a nickel for every time I got asked…

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.  But seriously, did Bennie really steal home, or was that a camera-tricks thing?

IMG_3074He really did steal home, but there was a camera trick in that he is actually stealing second base. Much like Gary Cooper and The Lou Gehrig Story, that shot had to be reversed to make it appear as though it was home plate. It’s funny how everyone asks me about that movie, but no one ever asks about my roles in Intolerance and Birth of a Nation.  Or my years in the old timey minstrel circuit.  Or my time as an Andersonville POW in the waning days of the Civil War.  Or my years as a double for Amy Carter, during the 1970’s.  Or my current work investigating why Marvel’s Agent Coulson looks so much like infamous skyjacker D.B. Cooper and why the government won’t talk about it.

Tell us about your writing process.  What goes into writing one of your pieces?

It depends on the piece, but it usually starts with a few notes, then research (when required) and more notes, then rough draft, then feedback from a few selected sets of eyes.

Your writing is flawless.  I have to ask, are you paying a third party editor?

I am not paying an editor because my checks tend to bounce. I am currently sleeping with an amazing editor (aka: my wife), so I take advantage of that relationship as often as I can.

Talk about your now defunct teenie-bopper movie critic character, Valerie Atherton. 

Valerie was part satire and part social experiment. In response to the seemingly male-dominated, boys’ club world of online movie blogging, I created a character that was opposite in every way possible. Playing to and against stereotypes, the character of Valerie Atherton was young, blond and naïve—but she was (despite an inability to grasp most films [ex: Batman has magic powers, Iron Man has a flashlight heart]) very sincere in her love of movies.

So people weren’t picking up on that fact that it was all a put on, correct?

Correct.

What were some of the more memorable interactions that Valerie had with her “fans”?

The review that brought the most ire from fanboys was her review of The Watchmen. Specifically, her belief that it was called a graphic novel due to the violence, and that Dr. Manhattan was made of ice. The best response was: “Paint a bullseye on your forehead so that I may barrage you with ‘stupid’ bullets.”

What advice can you offer for other aspiring writers?

If financial stability is a necessity, then don’t become a writer. Hobos have a steadier income than I do. Other than that, my advice is to write what you would want to read. Be your own biggest fan, but also your own worst critic. Don’t let one outweigh the other, though. Maintaining that balance is key.

Anything else you’d like to add, Mike?

I’d like to add my name to a list of successful authors, but that’s more of a lofty goal. The only other thing I could add is 2+2, but the answer I get is generally wrong: Banana.

For more of Mike Calahan, click the banner below.

B.L.O.G.

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121 comments

    • Adam S

      On Mike’s behalf, thanks Hippie. And yes, that mention is pretty classic. I consider that pretty standard “Calahan” humor right there.

  1. El Guapo

    I think it was one of the Valerie Atherton posts I saw when i first wandered over, because his name reminded me of a character from a series of Spider Robinson short stories.
    One read, and the bug bit..

    I’ve returned since then hoping for a cure, but alas, none yet…

    • Adam S

      The first time I read a Valerie Atherton review, I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard. I don’t know why the hell he stopped writing it. Honestly, collectively it was easily one of the funniest things I’ve ever read, and the feedback was pure gold. People were OUTRAGED every time “she” posted.

      MIIIIIIIIIIIKKKKKKEEEEEEEEEE!! WHERE ARE YOU?!!!!! BRING BACK VALERIE!!!!

  2. Maddie Cochere

    I thought I was already following that nerd. I guess not. Had to punch the follow button over at B.L.O.G. Great interview, Chowderhead. Those photos are fabulous! I’m preparing questions for an interview with you (cough, cough). See you in November – or December!

    • Adam S

      Thanks, Maddie. Thank Mike and the Editor/Photographer that he’s allegedly sleeping with. Also, I’m lookin’ forward to the interview celebrating the 2013 Central Division Champion Tigers. PI-YOW! (sorry..)

  3. Pingback: Chowderhead Interviews Lil’ Ol’ Me | B.L.O.G.
    • Adam S

      Thank Mike, Ned. He did a killer job. And I agree – its cool to see Mike for the first time. He’s got a rock star aura about him, as has been demonstrated here. Geez, I’m starting to sound like a groupie..

      And I don’t know Sue. What department does she work in? I know a Cindy?

      • Ned's Blog

        Lol! I could think of worse people to be a groupie of. I love bantering with him when he stops by the blog. His wit is quick and dry. Not unlike the first time I was with a woman.

        Oh, and I’m sorry — I meant Jack Soo…

        Again, nicely done all the way around, Adam.

    • calahan

      If you truly feel the need to file a suit, Ned, I suggest (and request) that you file either a double breasted or 3-piece suit. I really think those would look best with your build.

  4. List of X

    That was a great interview, thanks. Since I only followed BLOG a couple of months ago, I’ve completely missed out on Ms. Atherton, and she sounds fascinating. I may have to check out her reviews.
    Oh, and Mike, thank you for inspiring me to mess with my own blog header. Before BLOG, the thought that I could have multiple header images with different tag lines just hadn’t entered my mind. It was a huge eye opener. Though, honestly, It still took at me least a month to realize that.

    • Adam S

      Thanks! Aren’t they great? I specifically requested from Mike, “James Dean”. He delivered. He’s a funny cat too. Maybe if I can talk him into it, we’ll do something on a regular basis. But, you know Mike. He’s an enema. I mean, an enigma.. Geez..

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