Ignotae At Large: Daniel Mallory Ortberg
The author, publisher, and wit sits down with the Ignotae to talk myth-making, sexy lady mummies, and toasty-warm memories.
  • I know we can't spend this entire interview talking about the lady mummy from The Mummy, but what the hell?

  • Why is she sexy? Wait, I have to Google "lady mummy from The Mummy." Lady mummy, lady mummy, I did not see it.

    Did she want Tom Cruise for sex stuff? Because that's the vibe I got from the trailer.

  • Yes, 100%. Which I'm totally fine with. That's not an issue for me, but her whole deal was that 3,000 years ago or whatever, she was in line to be the next Pharaoh, but then her father had a son with somebody else. So she murdered her father, his new wife and the baby while they were sleeping. Again, fine. Not a problem, but for some reason she had to have a sex ritual with basically the devil in order to do it. She had to do all this stuff to bring Set, the god of death, into the world. I was just watching and I was like, "That doesn’t make a ton of sense, because killing asleep people and a baby is super easy."

  • You don’t need the devil to do that.

  • That’s what's weird. She does it herself with a knife, very easily, nobody wakes up, nobody struggles. Then, the whole rest of the movie in order for her to become a queen again, she has to turn Tom Cruise into the devil and fuck him. She promises that he can rule the world and also have her.

    It's like how on The Office, Jim is like, “Wait, in your own fantasy, you’re co-running a bed-and-breakfast with the devil and you're not even the manager?” She doesn’t even want to be Pharaoh anymore. She’s like, “You can be Pharaoh, Tom Cruise. I just want to do it with you and I guess be cool.”

  • There was a sexy lady mummy in the original Mummy too, wasn't there? Anck-Su-Namun, I looked it up.

  • She never actually gets reanimated. Again, I don't have a problem with the mummy, male or female being like, “I have a lost love and I want to get in on this.” It was just super weird.

    It would be like in the first Mummy, he was doing all that for his dead girlfriend who we never see and he’s like, “Boy, when she shows up, I'm just going to quit being a mummy and hang out by the pool.”

  • No. You would expect evil to be more determined. It’s not supposed to have a half-assed interest in its objectives, it's supposed to really purposeful about what it wants to do.

  • Yes. You could also get the vibe that it was clearly because of Tom Cruise’s intervention that her part had been seriously reduced.

  • Like I said, evil has objectives.

  • Exactly. No, he was basically just like, “Okay, cool. What if instead of having a cool battle between the two of us, at the end, I just stab myself, Set comes into my body, and in two seconds I defeat the god of death and the Lord of all darkness. Just super quick without any struggle. Then I just smash her to pieces. How does that sound?” That's really how the movie ends with no fight scene. It’s full Scientology, he just accesses his inner whatever, and he’s just like, “Cool. God of death vanquished. Super powerful mummy smashed, and off I go.”

  • Oh boy. I should see it.

  • You absolutely should, but don't sit all the way through the credits, because there is not a stinger.

    Hi, guys.

  • Hi.

  • Thank you for letting me do that for my intro.

  • It was good for all of us I think. We have some notes, I have some notes. I think my favorite part of my notes is that, I decided that you have a lusty Teutonic joy in your wit, like a Valkyrie who trained with the Groundings. I was wondering if you could tell me---

  • Oh, my gosh.

  • I'm curious to know whether you think you write humor or comedy.

  • Well, thank you. That's amazing. I have never trained with the Groundlings nor have I committed an act of improv in my entire life.

    I have always felt like I'm never quite clear on what someone means when they say, "humor versus comedy." It feels like humor is what you say about a comedian who went to college. Right? When people say humor, they say, "You just want people to think of you as very, very smart." Probably there is another distinction, but I don't know what it is. I like comedy, I like the word comedian. I've never done stand-up, I don't think I can call myself a comedian, but I wish I could without having to do stand-up. But I write comedy to answer your question.

  • But not exclusively, you've got something else coming out.

  • Do I? Yes, I just finished the second book and I'm working on a couple of other projects, none of which are at a point where they are real yet, but none of those are stand-up. I still don't count. You have to do stand-up to be a comedian and I haven't done it, so I don't count.

  • What can you tell us about the book?

  • A couple of things. I can tell you that it's done, which is very exciting. I can tell you that it is a collection of short stories. I think we did settle on the title of The Merry Spinster, because all the other titles that came up for it were way worse than that. So we just went with the one that was the least embarrassing, which is great, because it's a reference to my favorite silent movie that is no longer a popular theme. So that's good. But yeah, it's like a series of retold children’s stories, fairy tales, Biblical stories that are alternately funny and upsetting and it's going to be good.

    I'm going to stop talking, I'm done. I answered your question.

  • How did you pick the stories?

  • It was just always the ones that I wanted to talk about a lot. I really loved the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel and I was like, "Obviously, that needs to get in there" or for some reason, I don't know how this ended up happening. You know the one where the fisherman has a magic fish and his wife keeps telling him, "I want to be king, I want to be blah blah blah."

  • She keeps sending him back for bigger wishes.

  • It's such a great story about the eternal chump and I love stories about chumpery.

    Also Frog And Toad Are Friends, because those stories are wonderful and delightful and I always felt weirded out reading them, I was like, "This just a creepy friendship dynamic where they're too dependent upon one another and the potential to go pear-shaped is really high.” So I smashed two of them together. It's this really intense weird friendship where one person is just basically the other one's chump and everyone gets upset and bad things happen and no one's happy.

  • Did my favorite story from The Toast make it in there? Did “The Six Swans” make it in?

  • Yes, “The Six Swans” was actually part of the proposal. When I sold the book, that was the sample chapter and I later felt like---I really felt bad because it was a total bait and switch, because that one’s a little more straightforward. It’s a recognizable fairy tale, there's a gal in it and bad stuff happens to the gal and then she gets to do the cool stuff. Then the rest of it is just much, much worse and weirder and everyone's just confused, but yes, it is in there. You will be able to read it, it's full of good times and swans.

  • How did you find the story?

  • I grew up reading that. I don't know if you have heard of Andrew Lang, but he was this author who compiled lots and lots of various fairy tales from different sources in England in the 1890s and they were all released as different colors. There was the violet fairy book, the grey fairy book, the puce fairy book. It's like a ton of different collections and they have these great woodcut style illustrations that came with them. They were just fabulous and a lot of them were real bummers.

    I grew up reading it, and there's a couple different versions. There's the six swans version, there's the twelve swans version, there's a version where they’re geese and I'm sure a handful of others. But there's just that tradition of one girl with 12 brothers and everyone's mad at her all the time and she just seriously has to spin shirts out of nettles and everyone's yelling at her and she's like, "ughhhhh," but she can't do anything.

  • Do you remember what you felt like, reading it as a child, how it struck you then?

  • Definitely, metal as heck, right? She has to sneak into cemeteries, because there's grass that only grows there. It's also kind of a version of Iron John. Which is another fairy tale where the premise is basically someone is trustworthy, but they can't say it, they can't prove it. So the people that they love the most accuse them of being deceitful or treacherous and they can't defend themselves.

    And as a real histrionic little child I really identified with like, “I’m always right but I can’t always prove that I’m right, and if everyone only knew how much I suffered then they would just feel so bad.” I think that's what spoke to me the most about that story, obviously. Like if you all just knew how hard I had it. It was just so ridiculous, I was five. But I really, really identified with that and especially just that thing at the last minute like, "Here is the evidence that I was loyal the whole time, don't you feel bad?"

    It's basically like, just a slightly older version of, "Man, if I die tomorrow, everyone's going to be so sad at my funeral." It's a story about the joys of getting to attend your own funeral.

  • It's really beautifully written in that it has every ounce of the solidity of a fairy tale, but it's still incredibly light. It's knowing, but not ironic. It's wry and funny, but serious. I wonder how you think that that changes the story, that voice that you brought to it.

  • Well, thank you. That is exactly what I was going for. I appreciate that immensely.

    Definitely the tone that I strive for in this type of writing is a slightly more self-aware, equally gay, Hans Christian Andersen. His stories were always such a combination of… he would try to write with a really light touch, but it would also be nothing but sad things would happen. Then he would periodically do like a Jim from The Office look to the camera and be like, "Can you believe this shit?" Which I feel like I'm trying to bring to the table as well. Just to have people make little jokes at one another to point out like, "Well, isn't this sad," but also, "Aren't we a little bit ridiculous for being so sad about it?"

    I think there's definitely a sense of like, "Aren't we all ridiculous?" But that's still important somehow and that’s the sort of tone I try to strike. Certainly, having grown up read a ton of fairy tales, I just naturally mimic a lot of the language. There's ways in which all the stories definitely feel grounded in like, "the weird fairy tale past we all agree upon", which is weird. Like a 7th century Baghdad and 12th century London and also 8th century Germany and also the ‘30s? I don't know, question mark? Maybe no one else thinks of that time period as existing. It's what I smashed together in my head.

  • A line that really jumped out at me was, "The girl knew she grieved her mother and tried to be less than she was, so as to lighten her mother's burden." Because it seems like there's so much violence floating around in the story, and this was a moment that really threw into sharp relief how much there was and where it was coming from and how it was being passed around. I wonder if you think consciously about how you manage that level of violence and aggression.

  • Yes. Totally. Because I always felt very much that I didn't want to write a story or a series of stories where there was always going to be one person who just gets the short end of the stick and we're just supposed to feel bad for them.

    Right? I'm not as interested in that type of fairy tale retelling. Which is not to say other people aren’t out there doing it. I just felt like that was a direction I didn't want to go in. It was also really clear that this genuinely… this sucks, for the queen to have to navigate all of that. I had a lot of sympathy for her, the ways in which she was shitty towards her daughter. Not because she's out up in the morning and was like, "I'd like to make life harder for my daughter." But just because that was the nearest outlet for all of her very real frustration.

    That shows up a lot in the book, it ripples outward, when one person has a lot of authority and wields it in a crappy way, everybody else has to balance between, "I can't lash out at them, do I lash out at myself or do I lash out at the other people around me or do I do both? How do I replicate that?"

    Also, she's in a really difficult position. That doesn't mean that what she said or did was good, but just that real sense of you can be born and cause problems and it's not your fault. You didn't ask to be born, but you can also come into the world with strikes against you that you can't help, but people are already mad at you about. You can both understand and empathize with them and also feel a sense of, "This is not my problem. I can't believe as a baby, I'm already weighted into this shitty game you guys are playing." That just sucks. What's it like to come out of the womb and just being like, "I'm already a problem. That's a bummer. I'll move to the woods."

  • I actually think you move to the city now, right? If you come out of the womb a problem you move to the city, not the woods.

  • Yes. Although it seems like everyone's trying to make the city into the woods now. I feel like that's what we're all doing now. Witchery is really popular. Everyone's like, "Go outside, get some crystals, think about being a witch."

  • Well, you live on the West Coast, that's built in.

  • Yes, actually that might be a totally West Coast thing. I don't know if witchery is a big thing where you guys are.

  • There's a great line in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where someone says that in San Francisco, starting a new religion for you is just their way of saying "hello." Seems spot on.

  • That's so charming!

  • That brings us to The Toast. One of the things I'm really curious about is everyone misses it, everyone mourns it, and everyone asks how you did it. I'm curious why.

  • Sure. Why did we do it? I had already decided that I wanted to quit my day job and write full time. This was the easiest way to never get edited and get a guaranteed paycheck every month. That's not to say I never got edited. I knew I wanted to write full time and the fact that Nicole was available and wanted to do it and had the money, was just sort of like, obviously I would like to have my own website. I have a lot of dumb ideas all day and I have nowhere to put them. To me the "why" was barely even a question. It was like, "That sounds awesome. Of course I want to do that", because it really was. I would just text Nicole in the morning and be like, "Guess what dumb idea I just had?" And she was like, "Great. Do it."

  • You know which one I haven't seen until I went back last night and reread about the archives? It was Ayn Rand rewrites torch songs. I'm sad that I missed it the first time around.

  • I'm glad that you rediscovered it. I think that came from---because I was doing the Ayn Rand series obviously, a lot. Sometimes I’ll sing songs, but I’ll replace most of the word with the word, "cat" or "bees" or something. Like “All of bees, why not take all of bees." Just dumb as shit stuff. Torch songs are always really fun and they're about total self-destruction. And Ayn Rand sure likes saying "Nothing's a sacrifice if it stands in your highest value. If I save my life for you, it's only because I wanted to.” So I smashed them together and no one can tell me no.

  • What do you think you set out to build there? Because it wound up being a close-knit community, a New York Times bestseller and a Hillary Clinton fan thing. I'm going to edit this to come up with a better phrase than "fan thing." What did you set out to build, when you sat down and said, "Okay. We're going to have a website. It's going to be an unedited platform for myself.” Was there something else in mind you wanted to create?

  • Something that I was always really bad at was the elevator pitch for The Toast and it turns out I’m still bad at it even though it doesn’t exist anymore.

    Nicole and I had a pretty strong sense that the Venn diagram of the things that Nicole and I both thought were funny and worthwhile were going to connect with enough people that we'd be able to make a living out of it. We certainly had a general sense of, we want to be funny, have fun, talk about serious things, also feel free not to. We would like to publish people that we think are really good writers. It had a lot to do with just, what is stuff that we think is neat and hopefully other people will agree? We certainly had some things that we agreed, like I think other places talk about this topic well enough or often enough, that we can't really add to that conversation. So there a couple things where we didn’t really want to do that. But we didn't have a really concrete sense when we started out.

    I think we had tried to describe The Toast, when we started, we were like, you know when you walk past this bookstore and there's a rolling cart outside with books that are a dollar and one of them has a drawing of a woman standing in a crumbling castle in front of a skyline where there are two moons so you know it's science fiction and fantasy? We were like, it's like that. Is what it was.

    It just genuinely was no more and no less than the combined interests of Daniel Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe. Then we expanded that to include Nicole Chung, Roxane Gay and Marco the Tech Goth and Jaya Saxena. It was all of those people combined plus whoever we wanted to pay to write. We would have a lot of check-in conversations. "Do we want to do this? How do we want to do that? Do we think this is good?" But we did not do a ton of planning in the beginning in terms of, what should this be about? Do we have a mission statement? I know that there's more to it than that. I don't want to say like, "Gee whiz, it just came into existence one day. Who could’ve guessed." But somebody else is always going to be better at explaining what the influences and the goal and the mission was, than me.

    I'm sorry you guys have to interview me about it, because I'm just like, "I don't know, I just wrote it. I just worked there."

  • People brought a lot with them to The Toast, I think. People wanted a lot from it. Do you think that's true?

  • The part about bringing a lot to it is 100% true. You could not describe what it was without giving a ton of credit to especially our managing editor, Nicole Chung. You can't overstate her influence. Yes, absolutely all the writers who wanted to be a part of it, who pitched us from the beginning, who we begged to write for us from the beginning. It is so much of that, as well as the commenters. They brought so much of the tone to the place and a lot of my ideas for future pieces would come from the comment section, which is remarkable. The genesis for sure was Nicole and myself, but it was so much more than that very, very quickly.

  • Did you ever feel a sense of responsibility around the amount of passion that people had for it?

  • I wouldn't say responsibility, just because I'm a frivolous baby orchid and I don't feel a sense of responsibility. I would say certainly a sense of, I want to respect it, I admired it, I was grateful for it and I wanted to meet that with my best self as a writer. But I did not feel responsible for anybody else's sense of community on the internet. Which is to say, "It's fabulous, I'm so glad I'm here, I'm so glad it's that meaningful to you." But not like, "I am the keeper of the flame and if I fail in my duties for a moment, I will be immured under Rome." Do you know what I mean? I wasn't the vestal virgin of somebody else’s internet experience.

  • It's interesting you would say that, because one of the things that I've always admired about your work is how generous it is. Everything from your Twitter account to your longer pieces to some things more serious and complicated like these fairy tales, always feels like it's there not for the reader, but it's very open to the reader.

  • I don't mean to say---by the way, that last bit, it's very true. I don't mean to say, that I then think I don't owe a reader anything or I don't care. But yes, that idea of I'm not responsible for it, but I do want to take it seriously. I think I do have a commitment to a certain type of gentleness and sincerity that has always been a part of my writing, but then has also increased with time in part because of the community that came up from The Toast.

    Somebody else could track the New Sincerity movement, it probably was born around 2009, but it's very much a part of where my work comes from. Absolutely, yes. I would say the community we had increased that aspect of my own work. Because I like the idea of writing for a reader and I want to give them something that's meaningful and delightful. I'm not interested in alienating them or being combative. I'm not punk at all.

    Sorry, I know I'm not supposed to say that. Not that punks can't be generous!

  • I wanted to touch a bit on that, because something that I have noticed in some strains of queer writing and just all kinds of cultural criticism and also creative writing online, is that there is this seriousness to it. Which on the one hand, it's reflective of a world that demands to be taken seriously. But on the other, feels sometimes really limiting and overly rigid. I want to ask about one example of this for me, one of your TinyLetters from April. Which is the one that was titled, “Captain James T. Kirk is a Beautiful Lesbian and I Contend Daily With My Feelings.”

  • That was a piece that has been years in the making. I still can't explain it any better than just saying very, very emphatically and animatedly, Captain James T. Kirk is a beautiful lesbian.

    It's just intensity. Maybe this is something that's true of my writing. I often have no explanations or arguments, but I do have intensity. I think there's something that sometimes people can respond to in that. It is like, "Yes, I too cannot articulate why, but I can articulate 'Yes.' " Certainly there's ways to write about issues like identity and what it means if somebody is a lesbian, in a way that's trying to parse something or trying to categorize something that can feel either restrictive or it takes away from something someone else may have. So it can bring up a sense of, "Is this the right argument to make? Are you taking something away from someone else? On what authority are you saying this?" I think this generally comes from slightly more of a position of being explicit and being aware of the ways in which you are talking nonsense. I don't know if that's a useful answer, but there is something in the gentle energy that beautiful, baby Bill Shatner once brought long ago to Captain Kirk. There's just something about a person who wears a lot of motorcycle boots and cares a lot about not being authoritarian, but is really good at their job and has two best friends that are sort of their girlfriends and live communally and cares a lot about fairness. That person's kind of a lesbian.

    Spending a lot of time on your hair and gently rebuffing your ex-girlfriend's advances whenever they show up at your place of work, to be like, "I think about you all the time." To be like, "Hey, I think about you too. We shared such a wonderful, magical time together. I'm not in that place anymore, but thank you so much for bringing this to me and I will just carry it in my heart. You're fabulous and you make me a better person." That's a lesbian. I don't know what to tell you. When I say that I'm very aware of other things that can make a person a lesbian or not. I'm not being intentionally obtuse. I think it's worth identifying lesbianism in the world. I think it's worth adding to the taxonomy of lesbianism rather than taking away.

    In some ways I like to do that. It's not a statement that I would follow up with, "Fight me." Because I'm not ready to fight anyone on this. It's more like, "Captain James Kirk is a lesbian. Hug me." Right? Hug me.

  • Do you think of your own work as queer work? As queer artistry?

  • Yes. Absolutely. Yes. Sorry, I wanted to come up with a longer answer to that question---

  • That actually makes the conversation a lot easier, because we don't have to fight about it. Have you ever had to pull back from that, and if so, what parts of it in particular?

  • In a sense that, I very rarely will write about my personal life.

    Probably that little pull back, but that's also not what makes work queer, necessarily. I don't think that's actually relevant. Boy, I'm just not a pull-backer of things. I don't pull back a lot, honestly.

    I tend to go pretty full throttle and then later think, "Maybe you shouldn't have done that." There's certainly times and places where I have written for various outlets where I have adopted definitely a less out-there persona. Absolutely, there are times when my work has been in a different place, but I would say that by and large the throughline of my work is like, "Yes, that's weird and faggy."

    I don't know if I'm allowed to say that. Let's go with, "that's weird and queer." I know not everybody is jazzed about that word, which is totally fine.

  • Would you say that it's a conscious thing that you cultivate in your work? This throughline? This sense of faggy weirdness?

  • No, I think it was already a done deal.

    I think that was always going to be something that was going on with me. Maybe there are ways I could've reined it in, but that wasn't something I especially wanted to do and now it's just, what's done is done. You don't unring certain bells.

  • I'm trying to decide for myself what I think of the queerness of your work inheres in, but it's hard to say. It's a really difficult thing to pin down.

  • Let me interrupt you, because I just have the best idea. Do you guys remember when those old compilation disco CDs would get advertised on TV and “Ring My Bell” would always be one of them?

    Now I really want it to just be someone going, "You can't unring that bell." Like, "Can't unring my bell, can't unring my bell."

  • Poor Anita Ward, finally facing the consequences of her actions.

  • Yes, I want a disco compilation CD that's just about facing unwanted consequences. A whole disco album of, "you're in fucking trouble now."

  • "YMCA," but it's W-H-Y, not the letter.

  • Oh my God, you guys. This is the best idea we've ever had. There is absolutely a non-zero chance that this is the subject of my next TinyLetter.

  • Do you think about historical influences on your work or do you think it's more or less out of your own forehead?

  • My work is 99% influenced. There's very, very, very, very, very little about my work that I think is original to me. I think some of the strongest influences on my work, either in terms of tone or subject, would be P. G. Wodehouse, The Kids in the Hall, Edith Wharton. All whom were just mega gayballs. There are all just truly, truly queer as heck. With the apostrophe where the e should be for heck. Then LiveJournal and Tumblr and certainly fan fiction. Although, as a child, whenever there would be funny business, I would be like, "I don't know about this, guys. I think they just want to go on adventures together. Gee whiz, why is there kissing?"

    Absolutely, yes. Melville, reading that in high school was just like, "Oh, that's what people do with their weird feelings. They write books about whales. I can totally do that. That's a reasonable choice". Next up is a whole lot of whale for sure.

  • I would read a novel about a whale from you. So it's never even seemed like a distinction, then? It's always been there, it's always been a part of your work and it doesn't seem like something you can extricate?

  • I couldn't begin to untangle that, no. I certainly couldn't. Maybe somebody who's really good at analyzing other people's work would be able to say, "This thing is definitely from that thing." For me, what I've read, especially what I read between the ages of ten and twenty and the way that I write now, again, it's a bell that cannot be unrung.

    Here is just a random-ass example of something that I think exemplifies that. You know that little Sappho fragment? "It's no use, mother dear, I can't finish my weaving. You might as well blame Aphrodite, she has nearly killed me with love for that boy."

  • You're going to have to be way more specific, I think.

  • This kid who's like, "I can't work. Sorry, Mom. It's the fault of the gods. I'm dead with love for that sad, unknowable person over there." It's just like, "Yes, I relate to that. It me." There's something sad and beautiful about it. There's also something ridiculous about it. Like actually, you can be in love and weave at the same time.

    "No, I can't. I'm dead. It's the fault of the gods. My feelings are like an act of God that are visited upon me, not because I have them or I want them or I seek them out or I cultivate them. It's like lightning, you can't help it."

  • Who are some of your favorite characters in literature?

  • Oh, my God. Bertie Wooster, 100%. I know I've already been up on the P. G. Wodehouse train, but Bertie Wooster. There's something about his total simplicity, his absolute lack of guile. How adorable it is when he tries to have guile and be like, "I'm going to come up with a plan," but he can't plan anything. The fact that he's not aware to the degree that he's either being protected or manipulated at any given moment. The fact that he doesn't understand why he doesn't want to be in a relationship. He can't quite get there. He just knows he gets really itchy at the prospect of having a fiancée. People are always trying to marry him, and he's like, "I don't understand why, but I don't like it" and then, he just stops. He's obsessed with his socks and his ties and all his accessories. I relate to all of that. Yes, all of it. There's probably others. I'm sure I love other people. Do you guys remember The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander?

  • The series that The Black Cauldron came out of, right?

  • Yes, exactly. I actually don't know how to pronounce her name, because I think it might be Welsh. It's A-C-H-R-E-N, which in my head, I always just said was Achren, but I don't actually know if that's how you say it. She was a perfect example of the evil, high queen. She's beautiful, but cold and remote. She has a long, white braid. But not white from old age, just white from being kind of evil. But she also has the possibility to be redeemed. Then, she just kidnaps Eilonwy and invites everyone to her weird castle. "I just want a dinner party where everyone's mad at me. I don't understand how to talk to people except by kidnapping them." Yes, she was amazing. I loved her. Let me think if there's anyone else or if it's just these two and they're the only literary characters I've ever loved. Yes, let's stop it with those two. That's it. I've never loved any other characters.

  • Your witch is very careful about her accessories?

  • Yes, 100%. It's just, like, doesn't want anyone to try to marry me, except for I do but also, leave me alone and I have a fever.

    Wait, I was just thinking, what's one last character that I really identify with. This isn't a character so much as every character. Whenever Hans Christian Andersen would write a story about an inanimate object that was in love with another inanimate object and then, they couldn't get together and then, they would die. Which is a lot of his stories. It's at the point where you feel like he was just looking around his room and he's like, "I don't know. What if a candle was sad?” I love him for it.

    Yes, just all those things where it's like, "I bet if I was a candle, I would be in love with a fireplace and it would never talk to me." That totally would happen. I just relate very much to the fact that he was obsessed with creating tragic backstories for objects in his room. That's my last favorite character, sad candles. Sad, gay candles. Like, Lumiere, oh my God.

  • God, yes. I picture you simultaneously as a sad gay candle, and as a hapless farm boy who is being drawn into an adventure beyond his wildest imaginings.

  • Oh, my God.

  • And also, the queen in the high castle who is manipulating things in this very over the top, draggy way.

  • This is the most generous and flattering thing anyone has ever, ever said about me. If I ever go on another date again, which I'm not saying I will, because I definitely won't, but if I ever do, I'm going to open with that.

  • Maybe as Ursula after she transforms.

  • Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Thank you so much. She's so beautiful when she---she's beautiful as Ursula too. They're both beautiful, but I'm just obsessed with Vanessa.

  • She's got great hair and she’s mean, but also fabulous.

  • Mean in that early '90s, mean way.

    She's super detailed about how she wants her wedding and has her own wedding dress and it's amazing. When her voice cracks and she starts to turn into Ursula, it's like, "Yes."

    Thank you. You get me.