“In grand Slate tradition, tell us a little bit about yourself.”
That’s the invitation that concludes every email announcement of a Slate hire.
And that’s the invitation that we’re extending to Slate interactives editor Chris Kirk, who chats about the challenges of being buried in code, his recent move from Slate D.C. to Slate NYC, and his many pet peeves.
What was your dream job when you were younger? Why?
Like any boy, I first wanted to be a fireman. Is that just an American thing? Do boys in India want to be firemen? Anyway, I can hardly drive a U-Haul through Brooklyn, let alone a fire truck. Then I wanted to be an actor. I was Harry the Horse in an eighth-grade production of Guys and Dolls. I loved carrying the attention of an entire room, but I hated the pressure of memorizing lines in front of hundreds of people. The final plan was to be a journalist during the day and moonlight as a novelist. Turns out most journalists moonlight as journalists.
What’s your favorite Slate piece and why?
I loved Farhad Manjoo’s legendary diatribe against people who double-space their sentences. An elementary school typing teacher instructed me to double-space my sentences. For years I corrected others about their silly single-spacing. In high school I learned the devastating truth. I had been lied to, and, what’s more, I had helped spread the lie to others. I’ve been preaching the single-spaced gospel to repent for that.
What’s on your bookshelf right now (or what are you most likely to mention)? Are you a book snob?
Right now I’m reading World Without End. In part that’s because I liked its prequel, Pillars of the Earth. Mostly, though, it’s because I like the title. World Without End. How could a book with that name be bad? It just pulls you in. When I fantasized about the novels I would write someday, I would always work backward: I’d think up a title first, then imagine the story around it.
Also on my bookshelf: Brooks Brothers’ How to Be a Gentleman, a “gift” from my ex-girlfriend for declining to drag her roller bag for her on our way to Union Station. In my defense, the bag was light and had wheels! That’s just lazy.
Favorite karaoke song?
Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire.” It brings to mind a treasured memory of my friend’s hand catching fire after he mishandled a shot of flaming sake at a karaoke bar. But, when I command the mic, it’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” “AND I NEED YOU NOW TONIGHT, AND I NEED YOU MORE THAN EV-AH…” But I save that for my friends alone. There are things your co-workers must never see to preserve your harmonious, productive relationships with them.
Is breakfast a necessary meal for you?
Breakfast is the best way, and perhaps the only way, I have to manage my perpetual crankiness. But I’m far too lazy in the morning to think about what I’m going to eat, so I tend to eat the same thing every day, sometimes for years, until my body mutinies. For a long time, it was oatmeal. Then it was toast with peanut butter. Then Lucky Charms. Then Rice Chex. I can’t swallow any of these things anymore. Since I moved to New York in September, I’ve been eating milk and cream buns from this Chinese bakery near the office, but I’m starting to get a little self-conscious showing up there every single morning and ordering the exact same thing, so I might be forced to change it up.
What’s the dumbest thing you bought (or bought into) this year?
Skinny jeans. My legs hurt.