Slate’s TV, drinks, and “Gentleman Scholar” columnist Troy Patterson responded to questions on Wednesday about his favorite drinks, his least favorite TV show, and his thoughts on Mulholland Dr. during an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Xhotas: Tell me something that I probably won't believe is true about your work or that is about 90 percent true with one small lie in it that I'm probably not going to believe anyway. You have been asked.
Troy Patterson: I wrote half of my Game of Thrones review with my right hand while holding a 5-month-old boy in my left.
Xhotas: ... Well done.
iamaredditer: In your opinion, why does it seem that lately cable TV programming originals are superior to the crap that NBC, ABC, and Fox are pushing on us?
Troy Patterson: Economics. Broadcast TV has to reach a wide audience in order to make money. Cable networks succeed commercially by reaching audiences that are, though smaller, more precisely targeted in terms of demographics. Relieved of the pressure to appeal to everybody, the people behind good cable shows enjoy more artistic freedom.
Jack_Arnott: Hi Troy, are you dismayed by negative comments following your posts? Are there more now that we can all see them? Or were things just as bad when you got only emails and snail mail?
Troy Patterson: I am generally not dismayed. I'm confident that I'm an excellent writer, a pretty good critic, and a very clever reporter. If a particular article is not up to my usual standard, then I have already made peace with that, or not. I'm aware that haters are going to hate. I believe that I'm probably not doing my job properly unless I'm pissing some people off. A recent exception to these rules: I wasted a day and half on Twitter fretting about a reader who tweeted that I'd lost her respect by saying that I'd enjoyed Seth MacFarlane's Oscars.
thecheetah: Is there a cure for the person who finds Campari repulsive, despite many efforts to acquire the taste?
Troy Patterson: Aperol?
Troy Patterson: Hello, David!
My usual answer is Twin Peaks. But I wonder, since Mulholland Dr. began life as a pilot, whether that would work for an answer.
Mildred Piece and TOTL are snoozy to me, but the latter at least has the virtue of eeriness.
insertcleverphrase: I like generic gin and tonics. Am I a bad person?
Troy Patterson: Oh, maybe, but probably not for reasons having to do with your drink. I'm going to write about G&Ts in the summer. What are your preferred brands? Garnish? Any pet peeves?
insertcleverphrase: Bombay Sapphire has always been my favorite. I don't really care about garnishes. Any suggestions for better gin and garnishes that go well with them?
Troy Patterson: I haven't really tested this theory, but I think that a G&T made with relatively cheap gin and fancy-ass high-end tonic will generally be superior to a G&T made with high-end gin and the usual supermarket tonic. Might be interesting to try a key-lime garnish.
spearfisher: What's the best drink to have at, say, 9:15 on a Saturday morning with a stack of pancakes and some sausages?
Troy Patterson: Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and an iced double americano with half-and-half and raw sugar.
But if you want something stiffer, I suggest the Corpse Reviver No. 2.
Also, there is a place in New York called Fort Defiance that claims to serve the best Irish coffee on the East Coast.
Spot_Pilgrim: Your Game of Thrones review was so bizarre that I'm still not sure if it's just awful or if I was missing the joke. Two questions:
- Why did you review it if you were so predisposed to hate fantasy literature and the subculture? Why spend half of the review telling us that you're the wrong person to review it? Was David Plotz holding a gun to your head or something?
- What were you making fun of in that review? Game of Thrones? Renaissance fairs? I still cannot for the life of me figure out what you were satirizing. For instance: "The mail pile is a mystical tower from whence a series of UPS logos glint like the shields of a sun-addled phalanx ... " What? What is that a reference to?
Clearly I've spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about that review the past two years, especially considering I don't even like Game of Thrones that much. But even so, what gives?
- I reviewed it because that's my job. I spent half of the review telling you that I was the wrong person to review it because I knew that taking that approach would be more interesting and more honest than pretending to be "objective."
- The quoted phrase was a straightforward description of my mail pile. There are no conscious references to anything else in that half of the sentence, but I chose "phalanx" in connection with a word puzzle.
Spot_Pilgrim: Fair enough. Thanks for the response. I do want to say that I like your work in general and am enjoying the “Gentleman Scholar” series.
Troy Patterson: Thanks!
Black_Raven_WA: What is your favorite cocktail?
Troy Patterson: Thanks for the question. I have three answers.
HGpennypacker: What is one cocktail of years past that you would love to see gain popularity again?
Troy Patterson: There's a really simple sour called the New York Cocktail. It ought to be a household name. Rye, lime or lemon juice, extra-sweet grenadine.
quarkdown: How much interaction do you have with other Slate columnists? Which column (other than yours) do you like reading the most and why?
Troy Patterson: I don't go into the office as much as I ought, so much interaction is random.
I always have fun reading Katie Roiphe, even when I disagree with her and perhaps even especially when she is being provocative just for the sake of being provocative.
adamiwebb: Why is Mulholland Dr. considered superior to Lost Highway?
I have always considered Mulholland to be an inferior copy … easily and obviously the lesser of the two. I am pretty comfortable in my opinions usually, but the disparity between my opinion and the critical consensus has led me to watch Mulholland again and again. And I still think I'm right. But enlighten me. Make me realize what I'm missing in Mulholland. And ask Dana to weigh in as well if you want—I believe MD was on her Best of the Decade list.
Troy Patterson: I think of Lost Highway as the rough draft of Mulholland Dr.
I like how suave MD is about exploring the nature of film as a medium and Hollywood as an institution by way of capturing something powerful about the essential experience of being human. Does that help?
adamiwebb: It helps give me yet another reason to watch it again. Thanks.
gururyan: I have to switch up liquors or I build a tolerance, or so I think. Is this all in my head, or is this legit? For example, I got to where a 750 of rum in one evening would just make me tired, not drunk. So, I switched to vodka, which worked for a bit, but now I can polish off a 750 of that and just be mildly tipsy. Strong ales can't get me tipsy—I just get bloated. The best fix seems to be a combination of ales and various spirits.
Troy Patterson: Not to sound like your dad or something, but I worry that you drink a bit much.
gururyan: Thanks, dad.
scofface: Any tips for making a great Old Fashioned?
Troy Patterson: Use simple syrup instead of sugar. Never muddle a cherry.
Jack_Arnott: Hi Troy, what was your first paid gig, writing or otherwise? If otherwise, you first paid writing gig also.
Troy Patterson: First paid writing gig was co-writing a welcome-to-campus handbook for incoming freshman at Princeton University, a college featured in Admission, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, opening this Friday at a theater near you.
First high-school job was as a skeet-puller at a gun club.
asimpleenigma: What show have you hated the most but had to keep watching because it was popular and you had to write about it?
Troy Patterson: My first impulse is to say Jersey Shore, but I kind of like watching Jersey Shore.