Running Around Being Clones of Ourselves: The Random Topic Interview with Megan Boyle


On the evening of July 27 I interviewed Megan Boyle over gchat. Rather than prepare questions or focus on a specific topic, we used Wikipedia’s “random article” link to go to pages to generate content for our conversation. Freed from the burden of intention, we ended up discussing the movie Moon, electric waste, Luke Hamlin, a French heist movie, a city named Darood, Canadian mercy, and the Scottish Football League, among other topics. The chat lasted around two hours, and has been edited, for good reason.


The Rumpus: Hi, are you there?

Megan Boyle: Hi Nick, yes, I’m here, just getting situated hold on one second… sorry.

Rumpus: Oh good. I’m rusty at this. I just poured, spilled, some wine that was a gift, hold on.

Boyle: Oh, damn. Red or white?

Rumpus: Red but it was cheap. It’s okay. Are you in Brooklyn?

Boyle: I’m in Manhattan in Think Coffee by NYU trying to counteract loud music via loudly playing quiet music on earphones. Where are you?

Rumpus: We just had a big thunderstorm here in Ann Arbor and I think that contributed to the wine spilling. Thanks for doing this.

Boyle: Thunderstorm contributing to wine spilling sounds interesting. Barometric pressure wine interactions…no problem (re doing interview). I liked reading the ones you sent me. I usually type without caps, should I upper-case things?

Rumpus: This is a silly question but can you send me a copy of this afterwards in case I mess up saving it? Oh yes, lowercase is fine. Do you want to go to Wikipedia and I’ll go there too and you can click on random article and tell me where it takes you then I’ll go there. It may take a few seconds, that’s okay. (And I’ll clean up typos, etc and make minor edits before this appears.)

Boyle: Sure. Do you think people ever purposefully select random articles they think are more interesting/have more to say about? (Just wondering.) (I won’t do that.)

Rumpus: I’ve thought about that myself and that’s the part of human nature I like.

Boyle: Yeah… think I like that too. Seems endearing.

Boyle: Damn.

Rumpus: Is it 1924-25?

Boyle: Yes. Trying do discern whether their team names are towns or just like, phrases of the day. “ayr united.” The way the teams are listed reminds me of little league or some forgotten little league team somehow garnering a Wikipedia page. Team 12 in ‘Scottish league division three’ is named ‘Dykehead.’

Rumpus: So of that first list, division one, which of those names strikes you? I like “Motherwell” and “Aberdeen” but only because, I think, of the grunge, riot grrrl, Nirvana connection. But ‘Dykekead’ — this is my new favorite team name.

Boyle: I think I like ‘Bo-ness’ because it sounds like a sweet name for a rapper, and ‘Stenhousemuir’ because it sounds like the result of someone trying to insult someone and remember the name of a dinosaur at the same time. ‘Dykehead’ seems great. Their coach probably had a time machine.

Rumpus: Yes, and ‘Raith Rovers’ sounds like someone trying to say something else while holding the tip of their tongue.

Boyle: The name ‘Mid-annandale’ sounds like they weren’t even trying…like, no wonder they placed 15th.

Rumpus: I think “Patrick Thistle” was a name Ian Fleming rejected for a villain in one of his James Bond novels. Actually this whole list is a weird poem.

Boyle: ‘Raith Rovers’ also sounds like someone’s first death metal cover band.

Rumpus: Do you want to click on another?

Boyle: Sure.

Boyle: Jesus. It must be UK sports night at Wikipedia random article generating headquarters. Instinctually felt like clicking another one for diversity.

Rumpus: Let’s skip it, we make the rules!

Boyle: Yeah we do.

Boyle: Sweet. Didn’t know this movie existed. Title seems controversial. Immediately pictured it would be a documentary-like series of short interviews of diverse opinions on ‘blackness’… seems like, no… the main character’s name is ‘black’ and he’s black it seems.

Rumpus: It looks like it wasn’t released theatrically in the US.

Boyle: Must be some kind of tour video. Interpol tour video (jk). Plot sounds kind of formulaic. Feel like most copies must be in French ‘discount bins’ now.

Rumpus: The synopsis is almost like a Marxist tract. The last line about how it’s ‘peppered with comedy and mysticism’ is worrisome. The word ‘mysticism’ is like a warning…

Boyle: Seems like they were obviously trying to get in on the success of the ‘three colors’ trilogy. On a side note, for some reason I think the word ‘mercenaries’ is really funny…

Rumpus: This one is strange. I need a second. Since when did ‘Hi-Fi’ become obsolete? Do you have a turntable?

Boyle: I do. I don’t use it much anymore but used to a lot… crackly record noise…

‘The opportunity to cheaply dispose of these substances forms the economic incentive behind the exporting of E-waste to countries such as China, India, and some African nations which have little or no environment checks and control. This export creates a global E-waste village.’ Seems really terrible.

Rumpus: They still use the word ‘First World’ which is strange and anachronistic because it’s not the First world, far from it.

Boyle: The ‘electric waste by country’ section looks unfinished, maybe intentionally/out of shame like the wiki page is perpetuating the shittiness of what it’s describing just by existing.

Rumpus: My God.

Boyle: I laughed when I clicked on that… seems… like perhaps the most obscure wiki page, like its author and us are the only people who have ever seen it. Wikipedia itself might not be aware of its existence.

Rumpus: Do the numbers 31 or 41 mean anything to you?

Boyle: My initial thought was they’re prime numbers.

Rumpus: For the love of God, Megan. Click on one of the cities and I’ll follow you.

Boyle: I clicked ‘Dorood.’

Rumpus: I’m following you there…

Boyle: Follow me to Dorood.

Rumpus: I feel like I know so little…

Boyle: Me too.

Rumpus: There are over 100,000 people there, and I don’t know any of their names.

Boyle: I’m down to do a few more articles, if you are.

Rumpus: Let’s do it.

Boyle: I just resisted temptation to click ‘Portuguese Wikipedia’ and surprise you by only speaking Portuguese for the remainder of the chat… however, I landed on “Luke Hamlin.”

Rumpus: Buenas figaros spieta andula.

Boyle: Obrigao lisbon.

[Note: A big chunk about rock candy was edited out.]

Rumpus: “Luke Hamlin.” What’s strange about his name is that “Luke Skywalker” was played by Mark Hamill.

Boyle: I thought that too. Seems strategic, on his part. Oh wait, no, he was born in 1904. “Nicknamed ‘Hot Potato'”…the bolded ‘hot potato’ is really funny.

Rumpus: Okay: speaking of Star Wars. If you were to make a sci-fi movie… well, would you ever consider making a sci-fi movie?

Boyle: Yes, I would consider that. I’m intrigued by sci-fi things/feel like a lot of my thoughts naturally veer towards sci-fi-like things.

Rumpus: Like the world is just, sometimes, a little bit off?

Boyle: Yes, definitely. I think I always feel ‘a little bit off,’ maybe or assume I am, just out of not ever being able to viscerally experience another person’s reality so ideas about different realities seem interesting. The world seems mysterious. Do you like sci-fi?

Rumpus: You know, it’s very strange having you type, knowing you are somewhere. What you say about experiencing another person’s reality, maybe that’s why writing and making movies is so imperative. I love sci-fi, like Alien and Moon and The Descent, which is I guess isn’t really sci-fi.

Boyle: I agree. I think whenever I gchat with a person I almost unavoidably mentally picture their surroundings (like I feel like you’re in a leather chair in the corner of your living room and there is a large window in front of you and a porch and it’s raining). Yeah, I think that’s why I like writing and making movies. That’s it, definitely, actually the fundamental thing. I saw Moon recently and really liked it.

Rumpus: Moon is good. I only found out after I watched it that it was directed by David Bowie’s son and then I thought that makes sense, because the movie is about identity changing (“Changes”) and he gets so pale like Bowie the Pale King. Sorry, this is the geeky film prof.

Boyle: It’s probably actually his attempt at a biopic about David Bowie’s ‘true life’ before he returned to earth.

Rumpus: Or a metaphor for what a rock star or any celebrity goes through: changing into something, a version of themselves that they only partially recognize.

Boyle: Seems like that can apply to non-celebrities also. Like altering your persona based on your surroundings/audience in addition to more long-term personal changes. Running around being clones of ourselves.

Rumpus: I really like that idea of being clones of ourselves. It’s something I think you and Tao brought to light in the Bebe Zeva movie. Because while Bebe was “Bebe” she was also someone else, and especially in that scene near the end in the pool, where she seemed most unguarded and afraid. That scene was genius and very touching. It was, honestly, hard to watch but in a good way. It was almost as if she was on the edge of something, some decision. I’m wondering, were you aware of this or did this just happen sort of fast and naturally?

Boyle: It happened mostly fast/naturally but I had been aware of the shift in group dynamic since returning to the hotel (“since returning to the hotel” is like a cliffhanger…) and how we were talking in the hot tub seemed like a quiet, distracted almost ‘mirages’ of the high energy conversations from earlier…There was an awareness that each of us were probably aware of that and I was wondering what Bebe was thinking a lot, thinking she may have been having personal conflicts with Travis that she might want to keep private, but we were filming a documentary about her. At that point in the night I think all of us were subtly aware of things ending but unsure of how the ending would happen.

Rumpus: And that tension really shows up beautifully in the film. Do you want to go to one more?

Boyle: Yes.

Boyle: ‘Fauna foundation.’

Rumpus: What is it with Canada and chimps?

Boyle: The combination of the notification that the article is “an orphan, as few or no other articles link to it” and last sentence “it is the first sanctuary to accept chimpanzees with HIV.”

Rumpus: “150 acre farm”? Is that significant?

Boyle: Hm, seems like average farm acreage. Seems like Canada should be able to do ‘way better.’ However. I feel like there must be so much land in Canada… somehow…

Rumpus: And so much mercy…

Boyle: Just pictured Canada as the ‘hair’ of the earth, like it actually ‘rolls down’ onto Russia.

Rumpus: Okay… the lights are dimming.

Boyle: Enjoy the storm. Thank you Nick. This was fun.

Rumpus: It was great talking with you, thank you for your creativity.

Megan Boyle lives in Baltimore, co-founded MDMAfilms, has been published by Muumuu House, Thought Catalog, Vice, 3:AM, Pop Serial, and has a Twitter account. Her debut poetry collection, “selected unpublished blog posts of a mexican panda express exployee,” is forthcoming from Muumuu House on November 15, 2011.

Nicholas Rombes can be found here. More from this author →