A Badly Recorded Thumb War with John Hodgman


A couple of weeks ago John Hodgman was in town, and as engineer for T. Hetzel’s Living Writers show, I got to meet the man and watch him through a glass partition for an hour. JKH may only score as a minor celebrity on the vertigously logarithmic US celebritometer scale, but he’s one of the few that I might actually be giddy about meeting, and I was giddy.

The interview was great, and John is by any metric of sober non-giddiness a real pleasure to interact with. He’s (surprise!) funny and interesting and affable. Which may actually be surprising if you’ve read Kurt Vonnegut’s description of the social lives of writers; roughly paraphrased: people expect writers to be articulate and sparkling, since they may write articulate and sparkling things. But the truth is they require two years locked in a room to get just a few basic thoughts out of themselves, and when forced to relate to humans in real time (here I’m quoting) “drag themselves through society like a gut-shot bear”.

Hodgman’s books are about being funny and interesting and affable, and yet that is what he is, so there you go.

The interview is great, T. did a lovely job as she usually does and John needed little prodding. They do in fact engage in a thumb war at one point.

Which brings me to my involvement. Since I first listened to this audio, I have been gradually forgiving myself, but it still pains me to say this: I screwed up the levels. John initially asked for more volume in the headphones, and I chose a very stupid way of bringing those levels up. Consequently there is clipping and distortion, to a degree that significantly detract from the experience. No, I couldn’t hear it when it was happening, but there were three different meters that I failed to absorb visually. Oh man, it still hurts. It does start getting better around minute 8, but it never gets good.

Anyhow, I’m putting the audio up because despite my ineptitude, it’s still worth listening to.

  • 20081027JohnHodgman.mp3


[…] from the video. And yet, I have to admit that they didn’t screw up the recording of Hodgman as much as I did. […]

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