Daniel Orazio (2013) may be the most notable of living University of Dallas alumni. Before he published such hits as A More Luddite You and Biscuits Thrice a Day: The Orazio Guide to the Ideal Wife, he got his start here ten years ago at The University News. I had the pleasure of sitting with him, outside his nursing home, to discuss his new memoirs, I Never Had It So Good: Stories of My Youth.
RS: Mr. Orazio, you were known at the university for your ceaseless efforts to make the public aware of the hot-button issues that had fallen between the cracks. How has your activism evolved since you first began your work educating us all on the glories of typewriters, the horrors of artificial Christmas trees, the need for a legalization of the split infinitive, and the salvific power of “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
DO: Oh, when I was at this university, I had no fire in the belly. I had no principles. I didn’t understand the true gravity of what I was writing about. In my long, trying life since, I’ve realized that I can’t just educate people; I have to inspire real, practical change in the world. My greatest achievement in these campaigns was realized just a few months before I retired here, when I convinced the Republic of New Malta to summarily execute any families found on Christmas morning without living Christmas trees in their homes.
RS: Speaking of your international image, head artisan of the Cupcake Guild recently stated-
DO: Let me cut you off right there. That man. What a joke! He’s upset that at my TED talk last year I repeated the conviction that I first formed in the UD cafeteria, that Cupcakes are to pie what Canada is to the United States: the loser brother no one cares about. I’m sorry, but the truth hurts. Whereas pie is the culmination of 2500 years of the western tradition distilled into an edible disk, cupcupcakes are the immature execresence of our infantile atheistic age. Any objector is droll, knows nothing, and is not worth listening to.
RS: Back to your activism. Are there any important issues you have become aware of since graduation that you wish to inform the students of?
DO: As one ages to his senior years, a process which I have accomplished in under half the time it takes most men, one’s deteriorating frame alerts him to all manner of issues one could never have been aware of previously. For example, my hearing went last month, and the fools who work here [gesturing vaguely at the passing nurses] tried to give me a hearing aid! They attempted to place a computerized object in my ear! Next thing you know, we’d have a Khan situation on our hands. And no matter how much I respect Ricardo Montalban, I just couldn’t have it. So I shocked them all by acquiring an ear trumpet. And you know what? It’s amazing. The pitch is glorious, the tone soothing, whenever anyone speaks to me it sounds as if the heavenly hosts were Te Deum-ing right in my ear. Except a bit more brassy. What’s more, it helps me remember a simpler, better time, before our government abolished religious liberty and our children slaughtered our culture.
RS: I’d like to wrap up with a few questions to help our aspiring writers. How would you describe your writing process now? Do you still advocate the use of a typewriter?
DO: No, no, I’ve found the noise and complexity of that contraption increasingly symbolic of our crank-and-shaft age of mechanistic ideas, sentiments and lifestyles. I’ve instead adopted the quill pen, and my writing has improved immensely. Now I’m forced to stop and contemplate every single word I write as I dip into the inkwell. Slow down, Americans. Drop the odometer, pull up a chair, stare at the page for a few hours. Then and only then will you be truly living.
RS: Any general advice for our future writers?
DO: A man without Latin is like a reindeer without a red nose, who, because of this lack, instead of becoming a children’s icon is hunted by eskimo tribes for sustenance, and is eventually brought down by a single arrow, which doesn’t end him immediately, but allows him to suffer as his blood slowly drains into the snow.
Once you have become proficient in the language of God, I would encourage you to find those issues that matter most. You should consult my corpus for examples of the really important issues that these headline-grabbers overlook. Just remember, as a general rule, the more mundane it is, the more worthy it is of either triumphant celebration or harsh criticism. Your job as a writer is to voraciously seek out these stories.
RS: That was a split infinitive.
DO: Yes. Yes, it was.