Enough to Break the Ice -or- 15 Answers to Icebreaker Questions

These are the short answers to the questions that I ask when I’m trying to get to know someone. For fuller answers, read the linked posts.

  1. What do you like to read? Fiction, mostly fantasy-based.
  2. If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose? Time-stopping.
  3. What’s your favorite movie? Why? The Royal Tenenbaums, because it has an excellent cast, is cleverly written, and beautifully shot.
  4. Which radio station do you listen to? 88.1 FM WYCE.
  5. What’s your favorite type of sandwich? Ice Cream Sandwich.
  6. Do you have any fun holiday traditions? Lego Christmas Ornaments.
  7. Which group did you fall into in high school? Snooty band geeks.
  8. What’s your standard drink order? Dr Pepper.
  9. What’s the last movie/book/thing that made you really think? Nation by Terry Pratchett.
  10. What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Quaker Oatmeal Squares.
  11. What’s your ideal vacation? Either educational or relaxing… or both.
  12. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Night sloth.
  13. Do you have any million-dollar ideas? Spoonula.
  14. If a genie gave you one wish (and you can’t wish for more wishes), what would you wish for? Return to my childhood with all my current memories.
  15. What was your favorite subject in school? English.

Am I missing anything? Was there anything about me that you were hoping I’d answer?


Icebreaker #15 | What was your favorite subject in school?

This is the fifteenth and final installment of my Icebreaker series. Find your backpack and cram your Trapper Keeper inside!

What was your favorite subject in school?

Here I am with hair and trombones. I still have those trombones. The hair, not so much.

Here I am with hair and trombones. I still have those trombones. The hair, not so much.

You may already know that I was king of the band geeks in high school. It would stand to reason that music classes would have been my favorite. And I think if I were to answer this question in high school, I would have agreed.

Looking back now though, I think my favorite subject in high school was English, specifically AP Literature and AP Composition. And it turns out, those are the subjects that have impacted me most.

I mean, I worked for a bookstore for ten years because I love books. I write daily on this blog of mine. I have aspirations of being published in a variety of forms. And I work for a publisher, albeit in the marketing department.

You know the last time I played my trombone? Me neither. Now, I don’t regret taking any of the music classes that I took, and at one time I considered becoming a band teacher (but let’s be honest—I’m glad that I don’t have to listen to junior high or high school students learn how to play the clarinet).

My favorite subject is still related to reading and writing.

How about you? What is yours?

Icebreaker #14 | If a genie gave you one wish (and you can’t wish for more wishes), what would you wish for?

This is the fourteenth installment of my Icebreaker series. Grab a tarnished lamp and a polishing cloth.

If a genie gave you one wish (and you can’t wish for more wishes), what would you wish for?

My wife, DeAnne, loves lists. She actually gets giddy when things can be categorized and checked off. She’s a fantastic organizer, which is perfect for me, because I am chaos incarnate. But when it comes to birthday lists, she can’t think of things that she wants. She’s probably too selfless to focus on such things.

She’s better than me. That’s all there is to it.

DSC02233Me, I can write list after list of stuff that I want. Books, Lego sets, CDs, video games, time to enjoy all of these things. Limiting my selfishness to one wish is hard.

Here’s what I have:

I wish I could go back in time to my childhood with all of the knowledge that I have now.

Here’s my reasoning:

  • For all of the things that have worked out wonderfully in my life thus far (being married to a wonderful wife, having beautiful kids, being successfully employed at a job I enjoy), I would be able to weather the storms of adolescence with the knowledge that things will be fine.
  • For the things that have not worked out wonderfully, if I retain my current knowledge, I would be able to make better choices without losing the opportunities to learn from my mistakes (since I still would have made them the first time around).
  • For the rest of it, school would be easier the second time through, I’m sure I would be a more obedient child since I know what it is like to have kids of my own, and I’d probably clean up in the stock market by investing early into Google.

What would you wish for?

Icebreaker #12 | Are you a morning person or a night owl?

This is the twelfth installment of my Icebreaker series. Let’s get caffeinated.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I am a night owl. My wife is not.

You would think that I would have all kinds of time to do productive things like write and do chores and such. I do. But I often lack motivation.

I suppose I’m less of a night owl and more of a night sloth. Is that a thing?

Well, it is now.

Actually, I just checked Wikipedia, and it is kind of a thing. Three-toed sloths are mostly diurnal, while two-toed sloths are nocturnal. I would be a two-toed sloth in my example.


Icebreaker #11 | What’s your ideal vacation?

This is the eleventh installment of my Icebreaker series. Pack your bags.

What’s your ideal vacation?

This is actually a very timely post. My wife and I are trying to decide what we’re going to do for our 10 year anniversary. Will we travel? Should we wait and save up some money first? Do we want a relaxing seaside experience or a historically or geographically significant trip? Here are a few options that all sound pretty good.

Option 1 – Museum Central

My wife and I genuinely enjoy learning. I know what you are thinking. What nerds! Well, think whatever you want. We like learning.

To that end, we like going to museums and historical sites and places with little plaques full of writing. There are a number of places that could fit this description. We could go to the Guggenheim, the Smithsonian, the Field Museum or the Museum of Science and Industry. There’s the whole city of Boston or Philadelphia or Washington D.C. But if I’m going to choose the ideal vacation, I’m probably going to be thinking further afield.

eagle-and-child2As a huge fantasy nerd, I would love to have a pint at the Eagle and Child where the Inklings met, where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and Roger Lancelyn Green and all the rest of them read their work aloud. And as it happens, I just made a friend who lives in Oxford where the Eagle and Child (and a bunch of other historical highlights) happen to be.

Option 2 – Relaxation and Geological Features

palm_treeWind and waves and sun and volcanoes (the friendly kind, not the kind that cover villages). Yes, I’m talking about Hawaii. I wouldn’t need a passport, just a bucket of cash and a suitcase full of sunscreen. Oh, and a good book (or maybe a good used bookstore full of good books). I think my wife and I would want to divide our time between soaking in some vitamin D and exploring the unique features that volcanic islands offer.

I’m sure that I’d be happy with either of these options. And even happier if someone else wanted to bankroll them for us. Any takers?

What is your ideal vacation like?

Icebreaker #10 | What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

This is the tenth installment of my Icebreaker series. Grab the milk.

What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

When it comes to breakfast, eating cereal is a race against time. You only have so long for even the most delicious of breakfast delights to transform into nasty inedible mush.

For example, Cinnamon Life cereal is delicious, but you have maybe one minute before things get gross. For Cocoa Krispies, thirty seconds.

oatmeal_squaresBut then I found Quaker Oatmeal Squares.

Oh man.

Not only are they tasty, they don’t immediately turn into a paste-like sludge like most of the competition. The window of opportunity is closer to four or five minutes, and that is really important when you have small children who somehow time their neediest moments to sync up with when you pour milk on your cereal.

Quaker Oatmeal Squares come in a variety of flavors, but I prefer the brown sugar. And I’m not sure if it is a good thing or not, but my kids really like it too. So on the upside, it is considerably healthier than a lot of cereals whose first five ingredients are sugar. On the downside, I have to share it, and as a recovering selfish person, I struggle sometimes.

What is your favorite breakfast cereal?

Icebreaker #9 | What’s the last movie/book/thing that made you really think?

This is the ninth installment of my Icebreaker series. Let’s put our thinking caps on.

What’s the last movie/book/thing that made you really think?

I’ll give answers for each category of the question here. Some movies, books, and things are great entertainment because they invite you to turn off your brain for a bit and simply enjoy the ride. Some movies, books, and things are valuable because they do just the opposite. Every now and again, you’ll come across something that you find yourself needing to experience again because it was too rich the first time.

In the realm of books, there have been a number of titles that got my brain juices flowing at one time or another: To Kill a Mockingbird, Slaughterhouse Five, The Master and Margarita, and so on. The last book to do so was Nation by Terry Pratchett.

1426552506Nation is one of Pratchett’s limited number of books not set in his famous Discworld (don’t get me wrong, I love all the Discworld novels too!). It centers around a pair of very disparate youths coming to terms with maturity, religion, and death. It struck me as thought-provoking because while reading it, you could tell that Pratchett himself was working through some of these issues in his own life.

In fact, around the time of Nation‘s release in 2008, Pratchett surprised his followers with news of a religious nature. Where previously, his relationship to God was one of being mad at Him for not existing, he now said this:

“It is just possible that once you have got past all the gods that we have created with big beards and many human traits, just beyond all that, on the other side of physics, they just may be the ordered structure from which everything flows.

“That is both a kind of philosophy and totally useless – it doesn’t take you anywhere. But it fills a hole.”

If nothing else, the themes of Nation will get you thinking too.

For movies, I’m going to go with Cloud Atlas. I’m a sucker for Tom Hanks movies, but even I was skeptical after watching the previews.

And yes, it was every bit as strange as I expected it to be, but I found myself thinking about it long after the credits had rolled.

Like Nation, Cloud Atlas was an exploration of theology as much as it was an entertaining story about the interrelated nature of people and story. It was a film that is best watched twice. If for no other reason than to hear an incredibly well imagined version of how language changes over time and what it may sound like many, many years in the future.

How about you? What was the last book, movie, or thing to make you think?

Icebreaker #8 | What’s your standard drink order?

This is the eighth installment of my Icebreaker series. I’m getting thirsty.

What’s your standard drink order?

Glass_colaHere’s one situation. You are at a sit-down restaurant. The waiter comes over and asks if you would like anything to drink. What do you say?

My wife is the healthy one who always orders water. Or maybe it isn’t a health thing for her. She’s an accountant, so maybe she just hates spending money on overpriced drinks (which includes every drink that is not water).

I have no such compulsions (either for health or financial reasons). I always order cola. In fact, I use the actual word “cola”.


Because I am not a person who notices things. I don’t often see whether a restaurant serves Coke or Pepsi. So I just use the word that they share in common. That way, the waiter doesn’t have to feel like they disappointed me if I ask for something they don’t serve. (Also, the waiter can’t look down on me for not paying attention to the obvious indicators right there in the menu in black and white that they serve Coke instead of Pepsi.)

If I do actually look at the menu though, I look to see if they carry the beverage that beats all other beverages and I order it without hesitation. Long live Dr. Pepper!

KBS-Bottle-256x790Here’s the other situation. You are at a bar. There is a designated driver who already has your keys. The barkeep asks you what you are having. What do you say?

I’m a late bloomer when it comes to alcoholic beverages, and I have no taste for hard liquors (though I suspect that only a portion of the reason to drink hard liquor is the taste). But I have come to appreciate a good beer, and my latest favorite is Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) from Founder’s Brewing Co. I was fortunate enough to imbibe at the John Dickson event that Baker Book House put on at Founder’s, and oh man. It was good.

What is your standard drink order? 

Icebreaker #7 | Which group did you fall into in high school?

This is the seventh installment of my Icebreaker series. I think it is time for an apology. Let’s continue.

Which group did you fall into in high school?

Okay, perhaps I was the king of the band geeks.

Okay, perhaps I was the king of the band geeks.

I wasn’t a jock. I wasn’t a brainiac. I was a band geek, but I went to a school where this fact didn’t relegate a person to the bottom of the social ladder. Most (but not all) of my clique were in band, but the thing that defined my crowd wasn’t music, it was wit (and unfortunately, it wasn’t always kind).

Wit is not the same as a sense of humor. Everyone has a sense of humor. It can be crude or refined, but it is an aspect of humanity that makes us human. Wit is not as innocent as the ability to laugh. It is the natural ability to understand things, and witty people can turn this to their advantage, even at the expense of others.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the nicest guy in high school. I often relied on my wit to tear others down in order to feel good about myself. I didn’t do it so loud that other people knew, but I was incredibly prideful. And if I were to be honest about my group of friends, I’d say that we all shared that trait to some degree (though I pridefully consider myself to have been the guiltiest of us).

It wasn’t until some time in college that my pride took a nosedive. I came face-to-face with the best that I had to offer and realized that it was nothing to be proud of. Looking back, I’m still surprised that I was as prideful of a band geek as I was. What was I thinking?

So, now you that I’m a recovering jerk, a guy who used to think that he was better than his peers, and someone who still struggles with that from time to time. Maybe this is why I’ve always resonated with the line from The Royal Tenenbaums where Royal comes to terms with how his arrogance has affected his family and he tries to make amends with his ex-wife’s suitor. I’ve removed some of the cussing so as not to offend the faint of heart.


Can I say something to you, Henry?

Henry looks to Royal.


I’ve been considered an a-hole for about as long as I can remember. That’s just my style. But I’d feel pretty blue if I didn’t think you were going to forgive me.

Henry nods. He says gently:


I don’t think you’re an a-hole, Royal. You’re just a kind of an SOB.

Royal seems genuinely moved by this remark.


Well, I appreciate that.

And I’d appreciate it too if you could forgive me.

Here I am with hair and trombones. I still have those trombones. The hair, not so much.

Here I am with hair and trombones. I still have those trombones. The hair, not so much.