COG: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Novelist, historian, film director, superhero, Lester Bangs-style cultural critic.
COG: How did you become you instead?
At college, I triple-majored in film, history, and English lit. I graduated with no idea of what I wanted to do, or how I could make a living doing it.
I spent several years after graduation sitting in front of a computer doing entry level desk jobs, focusing my copious down time at work on researching weird topics on the Internet and pitching articles to the free weekly in town.
I eventually discovered that all of the writers at the free weekly were well-versed in film and music and art and drama, but not many of them knew much about videogames or tech or interesting stuff bubbling up from the geek and hacker subcultures. I got a piece about obsessive fans of vintage Atari games onto the cover of the alt-weekly, and started pitching more geeky subcultural pieces to more outlets.
I amassed some good clips, and used those to score an internship at WIRED Magazine. Then I slowly rose through the ranks there and became an editor. Now, I'm an editor and freelance journalist, still generally focused on geeky topics.
COG: Fave lesser-known hero (personal or fictional)?
Uncle Toby from Tristram Shandy.
COG: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of your work; the least?
Most enjoyable is when I pull myself away from my research rabbitholes and start writing. Least is bookkeeping, pestering various payroll departments about unpaid invoices, etc. Ah, the freelance life!
COG: If you were a hybrid, what would your two halves be?
Dark elf and morlock.
COG: Describe a teacher, student or colleague you hated (or hate, you big meanie); why?
I had an English literature teacher in college who insisted that it was too soon to know if cinema could be an art form, because it was "still a bastard medium." This was in the 1990s, people.
COG: In desktop publishing, a character tag is embedded code defining the style of a word or phrase. But in the literary lexicon, “character tags” refer to fictional characters’ habits, catch phrases or other distinguishing marks: Yoda’s syntax. Hello Kitty’s bow. Clint Eastwood’s rugged squint. What’s your character tag?
Probably my retro browline eyeglasses. I got them 20 years ago, because they had a square G-Man vibe and Malcolm X wore them. Now they are a common hipster affectation. I want to ditch them now that they're au courant, but they became part of "my brand" when I started recording rants as Angry Nerd. Now that that show has wrapped, I think I can finally replace them. I may go for pince-nez, or maybe a pair of monocles.
COG: What’s the last thing that made you laugh, cry or cuss?
My Facebook feed.
COG: Describe your ideal road trip.
Desert Bus VR.
COG: What problem, large or small, are you hell-bent on solving?
Double spaces at the end of sentences. Cut it out, people.*
*We at COG – most ardently, our hardworking editorial team – second this motion.