I think if there are people who are inspiring to you, you almost have an obligation to let them know if the opportunity arises. People who create things or build things or affect other people's lives would like to know if it's working.

My advice, as given on "The John Hodgman Podcast," would be that when you see someone who is an influence in your life or a model for the way you want to live or create things, that you don't avoid them and that you don't ask them to take a picture with you so that you can put it on your Facebook page and get a lot of hits. You simply say to them plainly and politely and briefly what their work has meant to you and enjoy their attention while you have it.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH FACEBOOK? I pose for lots of photographs with lots of people, and it's great. But if you have to make a choice between getting that photograph and having an honest, meaningful encounter with someone who inspires you, take the latter.

Creative people are not trading cards. Public personalities do, to a degree, sacrifice their privacy. If someone comes up, it's reasonable for them to ask to take a picture or get an autograph. If those key fans of mine out there who care want to impress me, just say a nice thing.


WELL, YOUR NEW AUTHOR PHOTO CHANGED MY LIFE. CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT HOW IT CAME TO BE? It's the culmination of a lot of things. Just as the second book had to adapt to the circumstances of my point of view as a famous minor television personality, the third book had to adapt to new circumstances. The new circumstances were a world in which being a famous minor television personality was no longer a novelty; it was just a normal fact of my life. Additionally, I was getting old. The Apple ads were coming to a natural, but nonetheless sad, end. This book also was coming to the end.

I remembered back to the series of videos that I introduced for They Might Be Giants before I ever was on television, in which I portrayed a character called "the Deranged Millionaire," in which I was just a crazy, wealthy dilettante who could do whatever he wanted and dedicates his life to making They Might be Giants fail. I realized that, in a weird way, that had become the reality of my life: I was an aimless, somewhat more financially secure semi-famous person who had resources at his disposal to do things like wear a cravat and a moustache and not care what other people thought of him, and order a ferret skeleton made.

The heightened reality of my life was that I felt like a deranged millionaire who was thinking about the end of the world and also wine and sports. Most men usually think about wine and sports and the end of the world. That was going to be, to some degree, the subject of the book. The subject of the book, to some degree, was going to be the hilarity of mortality. I would want to be fully in deranged-millionaire mode in the photographs.

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