• Amy Rossi

19 Rounds with...W.S. Lyon

This summer, the Split Lip Editorial FAM grew by three, and one of those new folks we were thrilled to welcome is W.S. Lyon, Reviews & Interviews Editor. Here, he goes 19 Rounds, and not to be all click-bait headline about it, but it is very possible he has won Round 7:

1. Early bird or night owl?

Mourning dove

2. What was your worst haircut?

I've had so many it's hard to choose. I guess it's sort of a knack. I still have a close friend who calls me Spikes, because, well, in high school I wore my hair in liberty spikes, which seemed rad at the time and which feels pretty silly in retrospect. Then there was the time I dyed my hair to look like a ladybug. And now, of course, my options are supremely limited (I'm bald the way an 80-year-old man in suspenders is bald, as if pecked bald by a pigeon), and I still manage to look like someone who didn't make the final cut of Dumb and Dumber . . . Like I said, an embarrassment of riches.

3. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That actually sounds like torture. One song for the rest of my life? What did I get myself into?

4. Can you roll your tongue?


5. Mayonnaise: yes or no?

Only when it goes by the name of Duke's and involves tomatoes and bacon.

6. What is your least favorite word to come across when reading a book or story?

utilize. It's useless.

7. Which movie was better than the book?

I just posed this question to my girlfriend, and without skipping a beat she said, "Home Alone." I laughed. Then I laughed more. Then I said, "Wait, is Home Alone a book?" "Fine," she said, "Home Alone 2."

8. What was your first concert?

Israel Vibration, aka Is Vibe, at a small club called The Ice House near where I grew up. They're an old-school roots band from Kingston that used to be fronted by these three dudes who all survived polio as kids. My much elder brother, who took me to this show, was really into them for a long time. My brother is a tender and complicated person, quick to laughter but with a raw kind of temper aimed mostly inward, at himself. He loves Reese's peanut butter cups and prefers them chilled in the fridge. He has cerebral palsy and a cleft palate, due to several complications at birth, and I think in those years when he was in his early twenties he was drawn to the Is Vibe tenacity and their message of self-medicating with weed and staying positive and the heroic way they turned their physical pain and plight into an art that rose up and up like voices in a Gothic cathedral. He liked all of it. Is Vibe's music is deeply religious, although their religion was exotic to me as a 14-year-old Presbyterian kid, so I could ignore the fact that their songs were songs of praise. Religious songs. Anyway, during the show, during some of the longer dub sequences, one of the singers, either Apple or Skelly or Wiss, or maybe the three of them took turns, I can't remember, but one or all three of them would do this amazing dance in the center of the stage where he lifts his atrophied legs off the ground and dances and dances and vaults the full weight of his body onto the two Lofstrand crutches braced against his arms, so that his arms become legs and his legs become the unfettered limbs of the music. It is truly remarkable, beautiful, joyous, a gesture to his fans that he is here, that he is irie, and that he is stronger than the assumptions people make. My brother was drawn to their shows, their music, and through my brother, I was drawn to them, too. This may seem like an unlikely answer for a white kid from a redneck beach town in southeastern North Carolina, but you have to realize that, for reasons I am still trying to suss out, these are just the kinds of ironies you find in places like the place where I'm from.

9. It's Friday night. You're home alone. What did you order for dinner and what's on the TV?

Law & Order, the original, hopefully with Lenny Briscoe and Ed Green on the blood trail. And I'm probably just eating popcorn I made on the stove.

10. How do you take your coffee?


11. What expression do you use that most people have never heard?

Something my mom always said that I used to find ridiculous but lately find myself thinking all the time: I swanny, or I swannee, or however it's spelled. The only idea the internet offered was this, from Urban Dictionary:

I swanny

An expression used mainly in the South when heavily irritated or pissed off. Mother: Jonny go take out the trash. Jonny: ahhh..I swanny!

For the record, this is not the way I use it or the way my mother uses it. It's not about being pissed off as much as it's about disbelief. As if Jonny (sic) had told his mother that he had already taken out the trash, before she asked him to, so that the cat wouldn't get into the drum sticks she had thrown out earlier, the ones that smelled like four-day-old fish, but when he opened the lid to the garbage can outside a man jumped out of it and screamed and chased him back into the house, and since he didn't know what to do with the trash bag and didn't want to make a mess, he just put it back where he had got it, where it belonged -- and as if Jonny's mother had looked at him and let the wrinkles fall smooth out of her forehead and wagged her chin and said, "I swannee, boy, you never cease to amaze me."

12. What movie have you seen the most times?

I'd love to say something cool-uncool like Paul Blart: Mall Cop (which I've never seen) or something really haute and beautiful like Hiroshima, Mon Amour (which I've seen once) or something phenomenal like Dolemite (which I've seen a few times), but what comes to mind is The Big Lebowski (which I've seen between one- and two-dozen times). I mean, don't get me wrong, it's a great movie, and well worth re-watching, but it's not exactly something to brag about. It's more like a bad haircut, actually.

13. What is the best thing you cook or bake?

Sicilian garlicky chicken with anchovies, capers, and lemon. The trick is to dissolve the anchovies in the garlicky oil in a well seasoned cast iron skillet, then work toward an even brown on the chicken thighs. Time in the oven bakes the flavors in on one another. Then a squeeze of lemon at the end brings the whole thing to life. Perfect with some hardy bread and white vermouth.

14. Finish this sentence: More people should be reading:


15. Favorite time-waster?


16. What's the hardest thing about writing?

Forestalling the inner editor

17. What's the best thing about writing?

Time travel

18. What is your favorite sentence from a short story or poem?

"Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life." Grace Paley wrote that.

19. What question were you hoping to be asked?

If I ruled the world . . . ? (Imagine that)


For more about W.S., check out it his bio, Twitter, and his latest reviews.


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