Beers with Ben

By Ben Fields '15

What is your least favorite thing about humanity?
The desire to dominate and control other people.

What is your least favorite thing about Hamilton?
The desire to dominate and control other people.

Do you believe in aliens?
I believe there are probably forms of life somewhere in the universe. Whether they’re little green men, some type of ET thing, I don’t know.

Have you ever been offered a bribe?
No. Unfortunately no.

What would you do if you weren’t a professor?
My alternative career was to become a swim coach, that was what I was seriously considering. In terms of other things I would like to do...Lawyer was always a possibility. Then you know, spaceman, astronaut...

If you could have any celebrity as your best friend?
Lewis Black cracks me up. Being able to hang out with Lewis Black would be fun.

When you were in college, on average how much beer did you drink?
There wasn’t an average because there were weeks that would go by where you wouldn’t really do much. The average was probably not great. I always tell students that the only alcohol rule we had was ‘no kegs in the bathtubs’ and that was to protect the bathtubs.

Salt or Pepper?
Oh, salt. I’m a complete salt addict. I would probably put salt in this beer if I could.

Describe yourself in three words?
Smartass, Schumck. That’s three, smartass is compound.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I had no idea, I didn’t think about that stuff until college.

What book are you currently reading for fun?
I have always about half a dozen books going at one time. I just picked on up (I lost my frickin’ Kindle on the airplane) so I picked one up in the airport. It’s called Angry Days. It’s about the fight over American neutrality in World War II, so the two main characters are Roosevelt and Lindbergh.

What’s your all-time favorite TV show?
There’s a lot that I like because it depends on different moods and such. Columbo reruns, I love Columbo reruns. Peter Falk, who apparently went to Hamilton but never acknowledged it because everyone treated him like s**t, he played this rumpled detective everybody thought was kinda slow and stupid but he was actually smarter than everyone he dealt with. Lately, I’ve been into Archer. I also like old British TV series.

If you had to pick any Hamilton faculty member to sing karaoke with, who would it be and why?
Boy, I can’t even think of an answer. I have no idea. I’m trying to think of a Hamilton faculty member who would actually do karaoke, and I’m drawing a blank. Maybe Mark Cryer. Not Rob Martin? Rob’s a great friend, but I can’t see him doing karaoke.

What word from the English language would you remove?
None, they all serve a purpose. There’s some I wonder about. You know, disgruntled...is anyone ever gruntled? Don’t you have to be gruntled to be disgruntled?

So you’ve been at Hamilton for a while, you know the dorms reasonably well...?
No, I don’t. Not at all? Well this is one of those questions where of course I’m going to say that I don’t know them because if I say I know them very well I sound like one of those creepy professors who hangs out in dorms.

Where would you have your office if you could have it anywhere on campus?
I’m really happy in KJ. I think KJ is a great building in many ways. I wouldn’t move for the world.

If you could go back in time to any era, when and where would you go?
To live or to visit?” Both “To live, none. People always say, ‘I want to live in the 1840s,’ that’s like saying, ‘Oh, I want to die of smallpox.’ I would not want to go back to any era [to live]. As someone who is fascinated by history and politics there are lots of eras I would want to go back to [to visit] and sort of think about and understand, and basically gain the stock market and become fabulously wealthy. [laughs]

If you could get rid of any U.S. state...?
No, people do this game, but you know, we’re all part of America. I would annex parts of Canada if I could... No, I mean we’re all part of the whole.

What’s your favorite Disney character or movie?
I watched a ton of those with my kids when they were little. Mulan’s a pretty kick-ass movie.

Have you ever graded papers drunk?
No. I’ll tell you what though, it may be to the advantage of students if I did. The thing is grading papers is extraordinarily tedious, and you immediatly have this overwhelming urge to go take a nap or rearrange your sock drawer. So if I were to do it, I would fall asleep immediately. So, no I have to do it stone-cold sober. Some professors I know do do it, I won’t mention any names...and I have no idea how they do it.

If they were to make a biopic about your life, who would you want to play you?
I don’t know. Patton Oswald. Boy, I don’t know. Matthew McConaughey [laughs]. I have no idea, it’d be the most boring movie in the world.

So, roughly how many times have you lied to me throughout this interview?
The problem is, if I’ve lied to you on other questions, I’m certainly going to lie to you on this one. Not one bit! I haven’t lied in the least!

What is your favorite curse word?
F**k [...] The other one, I’m a big fan of bulls**t too. I think that we’re sort of awash in it, and there’s so much bulls**t and misperception out there that I like that word as a sort of way of describing things.

Have you ever killed a man, just to watch him die?
Um, as the only reason? [laughs] Let’s say that was icing on the cake.


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