Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 54 - Why I Should Stick to Blogging

Day 54.

Last week, I traveled down to the National Public Radio station in Chicago to record an interview regarding the Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project with KCRW, NPR's L.A. affiliate. I was scheduled to appear on Good Food, a show hosted by noted chef, Evan Kleiman, where I was hopefully going to talk a little about this blog, crack a few jokes and be appreciated for my status as a novelty figure.

Instead, I gave THE WORST INTERVIEW EVER, which aired today in all of Los Angeles, California.

It wasn't Ms. Kleiman's fault at all. And folks at WBEZ in Chicago and KCRW were nothing but extremely nice and hospitable. I am just a terrible live interview subject. I should have known right away that I wasn't prepared when the lady recording the interview in Chicago asked me what I was there for. The conversation went something like this:

NPR Lady: So you must be a celebrity chef or something, right?

Me: Errrr, no, not really.

NPR Lady: An amateur chef then. 

Me: Nope, sorry.

NPR Lady: Are you a chef at all? 

Me: Not exactly. 

NPR Lady: So you must be a food enthusiast. Or someone who likes to cook. 

Me: Sort of? 

NPR Lady: You do know how to cook, right? 

Me: Uhhh, not really... 

NPR Lady (flabbergasted): Well then I have to ask--what are you? 

Me (sheepishly): ...A blogger? 

NPR Lady: Oh, that makes sense! A food blogger. 

Me: Errrrrr...

And then I had to explain to her for the next 10 minutes that I was not a food blogger, but actually a stunt-gimmick-ironically-watches-a-shitty-movie-every-day-for-a-year blogger. She didn't seem to understand completely, judging from the weak polite laugh she gave me in return.

That's when I started to realize that I was in way over my head. I started to get a little nervous--after all this was fucking NPR, probably the most famous radio station known for serious journalism. So there I was, punk college kid/blogger/non-chef, sitting in this soundproof room, wearing over-sized headphones, looking like a huge jerkoff. The NPR Chicago lady sat across from me and adjusted sound levels as I just sat there looking at the wall, waiting for the L.A. affiliate to call.

I don't know if any of you have ever been interviewed via a disembodied voice coming through a pair of headphones while you're looking right at some other lady who's constantly shooting skeptical looks at you, but its fucking awkward.

Evan politely introduced herself to me and suggested that we just jump right into it. Awesome, I thought. What proceeded was the most uncomfortable, nerve-wracking 25-30 minutes of my life. Well, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but I was incredibly nervous and it definitely showed. Having done a few interviews beforehand, I thought I knew what kinds of questions she was going to ask--but boy, was I wrong. As Good Food is a "food" show (something an idiot like me wouldn't understand), Evan, the host, kept asking me about my cooking experience, of which I have none, so I wasn't really ready to answer those questions. That also partially explains why I was stuttering like a motherfucker.

Also, personally, I think the best part of the interview is when it becomes obvious that I forgot the host's name at the beginning and end. Evan Kleiman, if you're reading this--I sincerely apologize for my lack of tact and interview etiquette. I just suck at interviews.

I blame no one but myself. I am just an awkward, stuttering Asian kid who belongs behind a computer keyboard, not in front of a mic.

Again, check out my horrendous interview with KCRW, here.

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Julie & Julia
Quote of the Day: "Plus, it's close to your office."

20 comments:

  1. Eh, you sound fine -- just like a normal guy. Both foodies and public radio folk (I was a producer at WBEZ for a long time) can get sucked into thinking that they're the only people on the planet; so it's actually refreshing to hear you say something like (paraphrasing here) "Unlike you and everybody listening, I wasn't creaming my pants to see 'Julie and Julia,' but I stuck it in my Netflix queue; and when I was looking for a way to procrastinate, lo and behold..."

    Also, props for committing to the bit; hope the year passes quickly for you.

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  2. Oh you were fine... d-d-definitely not the worst interview I've ever heard. ;-)
    You made me LOL just like your blog does.

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  3. I think the problem was not your interview skills, but her misunderstanding of the theme of your blog. I don't think she read it, because she seemed to think it was an homage to the movie and all things culinary, instead of a joke that you're now stuck with.

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  4. You were very eloquent- your interviewer just didn't get your brilliance.

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  5. I thought the interview was great!
    Not going to lie -- I didn't expect your voice to be that deep.

    Keep up the great work!

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  6. I love this interview. My favorite part is when she asks you if you have regrets, and you're like OH HELL YEAH. That honesty is so great. Plus, you managed to use "metatextual" in its proper context, which is pretty impressive.

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  7. As someone who listens to (and loves) Evan Kleinman, it's important to know one thing about her: I'm pretty sure she has no sense of humor whatsoever. It's very hard to figure out if she understands jokes of any kind. So don't worry about it.

    As someone who has done these interviews before, it can feel like you just made yourself into the biggest asshole in the world, and it's certainly awkward to do. But no one expects you to be a radio professional your first go round.

    btw, it's KCRW, not KCWR. :)

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  8. I would suggest not blaming yourself here, honestly. These people clearly didn't do their due diligence so far as finding out what your blog was. You make it very clear, in at least three different posts, that you have no idea how to cook. Heck, if they had read your first post (which would have been the least they could do) you lay out exactly who you are and why you are doing this. You probably shouldn't have been asked to be on the show in the first place.
    And then, when this interviewer (who I really do feel bad for because this sounds awkward as anything) had established that you do not cook or have any big enthusiasm for cooking, she should have known to back off on the cooking questions and maybe tried asking you more about the blog. I mean, honestly, that is just common sense. Yeesh.

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  9. (just kidding about the name, but I am a Northwestern alum!! represent!)

    I randomly heard you on KCRW yesterday and you were awesome! My roommate and I were dying (of laughter), particularly when you said you regret the decision to make this blog everyday. It was great!!

    Also GO PACK GO!!!

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  10. I enjoyed it! Very amusing. It was a little obvious you were nervous, but not in a bad way. That sounds so trite. What I mean is, you were talking a bit fast and stammering a bit, but you were very articulate in the content of your answers, and didn't hesitate or say "um" or any of those (worse) things. It was clear you are either a fast thinker, or you were very well-prepared for the interview, which are both good things.

    The problem in this interview WAS the interviewer! She didn't play off any of your responses at all. She was reading from a list of prepared questions.

    Incidentally, commenting on this is what *I* am doing instead of studying.

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  11. I laughed :)Your interview was funny.

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  12. Your interview on GOOD FOOD compelled me to google your blog and find this. Hilarious. Keep it up.

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  13. You could have pointed to day 34 (or whichever one was your chocolate experiment) as the extent of your culinary skills. Maybe then she would have realized "Oh, shit... moving on then with the in-joke I'm not getting..."

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  15. Yeah not gonna lie - the interviewer obviously didn't do her research and was not tactful in her questioning at all...and..from the first minute of her show...she got on my nerves a hell of a lot more than Amy's rendition of Powell - which is saying something.

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  16. I actually thought your interview was pretty good, honestly. That probably wasn't the best NPR venue, though...You'd do much better on This American Life. Also, your "bon appetite!" was precious.
    You are awesome. As is your blog. Also, you have way more motivation that I. So -- keep it up. Thanks. You make me smile :)

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  17. I haven't listened to the interview yet, but it sounds like the interviewer didn't research very well, which is her job. I mean seriously, even the most rudimentary reading of your blog would show your craptastic cooking and eating skills.

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  18. As the producer of the above show, I have to weigh in. First of all, I love the blog and have read every post. From the above comments, it appears that didn't come across in the interview, and I apologize. Personally, I thought you, Lawrence, were great. It was funny and charming - I too loved it when you said that you regret the challenge. Your honesty is really refreshing.

    I encourage everyone to take a second listen. I think (and hope!) that you'll find that we didn't focus too much on the lack of cooking skills - except for your attempt with the kit kats.

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  19. And I"m the interviewer lady. First of all I think the idea of the blog and the blog itself is hilarious. Yes I read it and yes I get it.

    I also thought you, Laurence were incredibly funny in a very dry, unintentional way, particularly when you started to express how caught up you were by the commitment to 365 days.
    I intentionally asked about cooking because the listeners would expect it. The fact that you answered the way you did only made it more funny.

    And believe me Laurence, when I say it wasn't the worst interview ever. Those don't get aired.

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  20. Blood hilarious interview. Definitely could hear the dread and depression in your voice as you recalled just how far you're into this and how many days you have left.

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