Year One: Editors’ picks
The editors of The Idler are a shadowy, self-effacing crew. But to help celebrate the site’s birthday, they put together a list (in no particular order) of some of their favorite pieces from The Idler‘s most frequent columnists. It’s been an amazing first year, and they claim to be very much looking forward to the second year, so long as it doesn’t involve actually doing too much of anything.
Of all our wonderful Idler writers, I think Jill’s the one who hit her stride the most quickly and consistently. With her cooking pieces she invited you into her kitchen, equally as excited to share her failures as she was her successes. But for me she really nailed it with her “Liquid indulgence” piece, which stepped a little bit outside of that comfortable groove to share the kind of funny, personal story that makes you want to hang out in that kitchen in the first place. –KM
This was a tough one for me. Mike’s got a couple of really great pieces about fostering a relationship with his son through music that really stuck with me. But in the end I had to go with “U2 in East Lansing (before and after)” because I think it epitomizes what makes Mike such a great Idler contributor: Pure passion. If you missed this show, Mike’s piece is about as close as you can get to real thing. –KM
It’s difficult to not start each of these paragraphs with the words “this is my favorite writer,” but Angela Vasquez-Giroux was exactly the sort of person I had in mind when The Idler got started, and we were lucky to get her. She’s a passionate baseball fan with a deep and intimate knowledge of the game, and she will never, ever simply give me summary of last night’s game. She may give me a poem about listening to a game with her grandfather, complain about Fox’s truly atrocious baseball broadcasts, call Jeter out for being a cheater, or when I’m lucky, do all of these things at once. My favorite piece of Angela’s however, has to be “Doing everything you do, in a skirt, or, Some thoughts on being a girl, doing boy things,” because not only does Angela know more about baseball than you, and love the game more than you do, she’ll outrun, out throw, and outhit you, all while wearing a skirt. Softball, after all, is just baseball “with bigger balls.” Damn right. –GC
One of The Idler’s strengths lies in offering unique perspectives on common topics. I think we really hit it out of the park when that unique perspective gets an origin story. Ana’s “PopHeart” column has covered many topics that often cross paths with one another, but I never expected to read anything like “The Macho Man vs. the family secrets” which links former WWF superstar Randy “Macho Man” Savage with escapism from childhood trauma. Even less expected was how touching it turned out to be. –KM
Editing The Idler is usually one of the cushiest jobs around (which is good, because the pay sucks). Every once in a while a writer and I will send ideas back and forth, or I’ll give a gentle nudge with a possible suggestion when someone is coming up on a deadline (or has watched one go by), but normally I just get to sit back and click the “publish” button. Kate Sloan’s “Gaying up Gotham” was a rare exception to this, where after talking about a couple of ideas, Kate sent me a short draft of a piece about the homoerotic undertones between Two-Face and the Batman in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. I sent a short note to Kate that said something like, “You CANNOT write about homosexuality in The Dark Knight without writing about the Joker.” Kate wrote back to say something like “Yeah, you’re probably right,” and her second draft knocked it out of the park. It’s still one of the smartest things we’ve run. –GC
Rosemary Van Deuren
I have always found religion to be fascinating, especially in social context. In “Non-Catholic Catholicism: Jesus Christ Superstar,” Rosemary discusses one of the few (maybe the only?) successful pop culture/ Catholic cross-overs, and why it works so well (admitting that some of its success has a little to do with Jesus and the apostles’ hot factor). –KM
I desperately want to know where Andrew Simone finds the games that he writes about, and the second most important reason I read him is that I haven’t figured it out yet. The most important reason I read (and share) Andrew’s writing is that he’s incredibly in touch with the ways that form and content work together (or don’t) in video games, particularly independent PC and browser games. One of the best examples of Andrew’s keen sensibility can be found in his review of the Octodad game, “A Day in the Life.” It’s a unique and clever game, but Andrew really gets to the heart of it by observing that the player’s clumsy control of the Octodad character is actually the central feature of the game itself. Being an octopus pretending to be a human is hard, and Octodad (and Andrew) get it exactly right. –GC
Kevin Mattison has written a number of strong pieces, and he’s right up there in the group of people who have done the most writing for the site (so it feels almost like a crime to pick just one piece), but the column I keep coming back to is the one where he surprised me. I’ve known Kevin for a long time, and watched a lot of movies with him, but “The madness of Klaus Kinski” felt like a bolt out of the blue. I had never heard of Kinski, much less ever seen any of his work, but using Werner Herzog’s documentary My Best Fiend Klaus Kinski as a jumping-off point, Kevin quickly but thoroughly introduces the life and career of this troubled but brilliant man. It wasn’t until I watched the trailer for Kinski’s Nosferatu the Vampyre that I realized that I’d been staring at his face on a poster in Kevin’s basement for years. I get a little bit of something like that from nearly everything that Kevin writes. –GC
I’ve known my co-editor for quite some time now, and he’s always had a gift for finding significance in the seemingly insignificant. Knowing this, I was excited to read his video game column, as I was sure it would offer some unique insight into a medium often struggling for legitimacy. He hasn’t disappointed. And being the former roommate mentioned in “The horror before words,” it was impossible for me to not pick it. Plus, it contains the line, “the difference between fear and horror is the difference between being killed and being eaten.” ‘nuff said. –KM
We owe a great deal of gratitude to all our writers. We may complain about the editor pay, but the contributor pay is just as bad. Your creativity, idiosyncrasies, and keystrokes make The Idler what it is, word by word, idea by idea.
Daniel J. Hogan
Rosemary Van Deuren
Travis R. Wright
Thank you, and thank you, and thank you again.