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Getting to know: J.D. Smith.

August 5, 2011 \am\31 10:11 am

[In which WWAATD asks vapid questions culled from various teen magazines to non-vapid, non-teenager types.]

J.D. Smith. Taken one Christmas in New York City.

Full Name: J.D. Smith (John Dunn Smith, Jr.)

Age: 47

Height: 5’2” (5’2.5” if I’m stretched out)

Currently Live: Washington, DC

Hometown: Aurora, Illinois

Instruments: Um, calipers? I’ve never learned to play an instrument, and I’m not proud of that.

Car: Honda Civic hybrid (used mostly by my wife, who is a far better driver).

Secret Talent: I can flex my muscles (such as they are) at will. I think it’s genetic.

What is the best thing about your job? My day job isn’t directly related to my writing, but it allows me to have a stable income and a fair amount of time off, which provides a shot at work-life balance.

What was your most embarrassing audition moment? That would be my only one, in which I tried out for a high school play and overacted horrendously while reading for a minor part.  Another victory for the process of elimination.

If you could live in any past era which would it be and why? Postwar Manhattan comes to mind. The concentration of literary and intellectual life in such a small space would have made every day a feast.

Who is your role model and why? In fiction it would be Alyosha from The Brothers Karamazov, because he is sent out into the world in spite of his contemplative bent.

What do you do for fun? I hang out with my wife and dog, and I further my knowledge of artisan cheeses. Yes, I am a geek.

Do you have a good luck charm? Not really, but I think of the armadillo as my totem animal, and I have about twenty figurines and plush versions of various sizes.

Wackiest fan encounter: None yet, which concerns me, as it implies a paucity of fans. I’d rather not have a stalker or anything, but you know you’ve arrived if you get one.

Before I die, I want to: Write a novel, then have it published. Maybe rinse and repeat.

When I fly I have to have: A good reason. There once might have been some glamour in air travel, but that’s largely disappeared. So has anything approaching pleasure for the average economy-class passenger like me. Then again, the people in first class don’t look appreciably happier.

If I had to spend $10 at my favorite fast food joint, I’d order: Hmm. There’s not a whole lot of fast food in my life, especially since I read Fast Food Nation. But if it came to that, I just might have to see how many hash brown things and jamocha shakes I could get at Arby’s.

My coolest article of clothing: A light tan pullover purchased during my one and only work trip to Rio de Janeiro. After almost seven years it still looks pretty good.

My first financial splurge was: I can’t remember. At this age “first” would be a long time ago. Some of my purchases now, when I’m making okay money, would have counted as splurges in other times.

When friends come over, we: Eat, drink and talk.

Do you like to cook? If so, what?  I don’t really cook, a legacy of a long bachelorhood. I’ve become pretty proficient, though, at dish-dogging when my wife cooks.

TV show I never miss: Don’t watch much TV, with both a day job and writer things going on, but late-night channel surfing sometimes leads me to Sons of Anarchy. I could time my survival in that world with a stopwatch, but it’s fascinating from a safe distance. The guilty pleasures include Iron Chef, Robot Chicken and Japanese obstacle course shows like Ninja Warrior.

If you could interview any celeb whom would it be and why? If people of genuine accomplishment are included, it would have to be David Byrne. I could see a little of his mind at work and hope for a little of the magic to rub off on me.

Anything about yourself you wish you could change? I’d rather have longer legs.

I’ll eat sushi, but not: Ortolan prepared the traditional French way, where the bird is drowned in Armagnac. That’s just sick, not to mention a waste of Armagnac.

What are your best and worst subjects in school? Best: Anything with language, though life sciences come a not too distant second. Worst: Math and computer science. I’m an analog thinker in a digital world.

If you could be granted 3 wishes, they’d be…a literary agent, a personal assistant and a work studio.

If I could gay-marry anyone in the world, he/she would be…The World’s Most Interesting Man.™

Where on earth are you most dying to go? Romania. One set of great-grandparents came from there, and it’s a topic I address in my essay collection.

What’s the last thing that made you cry? My younger nephew’s wedding in May. Happy tears.

Do you ever wish you could just be a normal kid? Sometimes, but less than I used to. It’s a little late for that, anyway.

What would people be surprised to know about you? I have a small defect in the green range of my color vision.

If you had to name one song as your theme song, what would it be? “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Have you had a starstruck Hollywood experience? Who was it with? Not yet, though in 2004 I went on Jeopardy! and lost to Ken Jennings. If you have to lose, it may as well be to him.


Favorite Actor/Actress: Bogart

Favorite Movie: The Godfather (I and II, not The Part that Shall Not be Named)

Favorite Body Part: Hands. They are amazingly complicated.

Favorite Singer: Tom Waits

Favorite Song: “First We Take Manhattan”

Favorite Candy: Lemonheads!

Favorite Philosopher: Epictetus. And Joe Bob Briggs, who summarized life by saying, “You start out planning to do a bunch of stuff, you end up doing a bunch of other stuff, you eat a lot of Mexican food, and you die.” But I really love Mexican food, so it works out.

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Hazelnut.

Favorite Athlete: Michael Jordan

Favorite Book: Changes with a fair degree of frequency.

Cell Phone or iPod: Neither.

Summer or Winter: Summer.

Ice Skating or Gymnastics: Gymnastics.

LA or New York: New York. I like to walk.

Skiing or Snowboarding: Snowboarding.

Chocolate or Flowers: Chocolate.

Dogs or Cats: Dogs (though I love the kittehs as well).



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