No Brainer: John Hodgman

Why we love: John Hodgman

I’m considering a legal name change to “Holy Hannah Hottentot-Smythe,” the Christian name I’d surely be called by if I were a hobo, and name no. 349 on John Hodgman’s list of “SEVEN HUNDRED HOBO NAMES.” Hodgman, a former correspondent and “PROFESSIONAL LITERARY AGENT” (as his book declares) is best known as your personal computer, the adorably desperate customer monger in Apple’s Mac commercial, competing with suave and sleek Justin Long by disguising himself in cartoon form, burrowing deep inside pizza boxes.

He is also a “PROFESSIONAL WRITER,” a talented Renaissance man and humorist. His novels The Areas of My Expertise and More Information Than You Require include extensive listings of hobo signs (the symbols hoboes leave for each other), a timeline of the American lobster and charts of types of werewolves. He is a connoisseur of fake knowledge, and, best of all, he is The Daily Show’s Resident Expert, reporting on everything. Seriously.

It clicked one evening, as yet another clever 15-second Apple ad caught my attention on the television. I shifted my focus from the lanky frame of Long to the pudgy, self-effacing countenance of Hodgman—and I fell in love.

I want to wrap him up in the box he came in, that cute little PC, and unpack him into my breast pocket. I hope he’ll whisper sweet nothings of knowledge into my ears and feed me lines of hobo code during those long, unwieldy and terrifying late night jaunts down Sherman. He’ll star in all my films as “The Guy With Glasses,” sharing his genius in chats of Battlestar Galactica and Complete World Knowledge.

Even without his perpetual presence, Hodgman is my guru. I simply need to watch out for the Apple commercials to catch a glimpse of his face, stodgy and absurd. Take that, former almost Mr. Barrymore.

this piece originally ran in the weekly, a supplement of the daily northwestern thursday, on may 20, 2009
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