Introducing Chris Baker

Chris Baker is an Assistant Editor at Wired, where he writes mostly about gadgets, games, and movies. He used to maintain one of my favorite humor sites, Samiz.com. Unlike many sites that purport to be funny, Baker’s actually was. But then he got busy or something and shut it down.

Beyond Wired and his own site, he’s written for a host of newspapers and magazines, including Blender/Maxim UK, The Austin Chronicle, San Jose Metro, Giant Robot, 1-UP, Entertainment Weekly, Xbox Nation, Film Threat, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Oakland Urban View, and more.

Baker’s favorite authors include Wodehouse, Graham Greene, and Malcolm Gladwell. He says the last great book he read was The Man in the High Castle. He doesn’t write fiction, but is working on a few screenplays.

Chris grew up in Sherman, “the Athens of Texas,” with one of my best friends.* After graduating from U.T. Austin, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. He refuses, despite bribery and whining on this end, to relocate to the East Coast.

Yesterday I sent him some questions to help me put together this introduction. He shot back answers a few minutes later. Here are some highlights:

Is San Francisco still reeling from the loss of all those tech jobs a few years ago?

Everyone, even [especially] people in the tech industry, hated how yuppie carpetbaggers (like me) moved in and ruined their town. It’s been a nonstop schadenfraude-palooza ever since the downsizings began.

Do people in California think you have an accent?

I never had a Texas accent, but I was here in NoCal for like about ten minutes before I started prefacing every sentence with “dude.”

When was the last time you visited Austin?

May 2000.

How do you think it’s changed since you left?

Bush was still governor last time I was there. I hear there’s a big half-constructed highrise downtown, started during the boom and never to be finished. Very Blade Runner.

Are your folks still in Texas?

Yup.

Do they visit you in California?

Yes, twice. They took me to the aquarium in Monterey, and they had a fish petting zoo, and I got to touch a manta! And I got to touch a ameno– amem– anemonae. And we saw whales!

Where’s your favorite place to see live music, and what was the last good show you saw there?

Polysics at Bottom of the Hill.

Do you have a vintage Atari setup?

I had three, gave them away…

What was the best 80’s arcade game?

Space Paranoids.

Any comments on the Xbox?

Microsoft loses $100 on every purchase of an Xbox. Go out and buy 200 of them, hack them to run Linux, load them with educational software, and send them to elementary schools in Central America.

Do you guys [at Wired] ever get submissions that are wildly inappropriate for the magazine, and if so, what are the most outrageous you can recall?

The oddest pitch I ever got was from a guy who noticed that the word “porn” kinda looked like “pom” [PEE-OH-EM] in certain fonts, and of course “pom” rhymes with Palm, so therefore Palm handheld PDAs were obviously part of some nefarious communist plot to foist high tech pornography on America.

Typical bad pitches are Dave Barry-like riffs on stale, overfamiliar topics like Google and Bill Gates and emoticons.

What do you think of Vice Magazine?

At the next Nuremberg trials, the defendants won’t say, “I was just following orders.” They will say, “I was just being ironic.”

For posterity, will somebody please start collecting Chris Baker quotations?

Okay, I leave you fine people now and will be back on Monday, if not before. Have fun.

*Mr. Nine Years also hails from the Sherman area and has promised to heckle Mr. Baker at this site tomorrow.


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