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The FishbowlDC Interview With Reason’s Peter Suderman

Say hello to Reason Magazine Associate Editor and TWT movie critic Peter Suderman. Born in Ohio, he and his family moved to North Carolina for a few years, then to the panhandle of Florida – a town called Niceville. Suderman has endured all the “nice” jokes a person can handle and says yes, indeed, it was a “nice” place to come of age, complete with manicured golf courses and palm trees. “It’s very nice,” he says. “Totally nice. You get a lot of Pleasantville references. But sure, it’s a nice place to grow up. It’s near the ocean.” Suderman himself is rather nice, polite — and jumpy. The latter may stem from the large carafe of coffee he consumes daily. He says he couldn’t function without it. On rare occasions that he has tried, he’s consumed by headaches and fatigue. So why try?

We met in Reason‘s gorgeous dimly lit loft-like space off Dupont Circle – we’re on display in a glass enclosed conference room that sits smack in the middle of the office. It’s warm — like an oven. And there are funky aluminum art pieces.

Conversation topics included video games and how he once occupied his time while out of work for three and a half months. Time off involved hours of video games and sometimes sleeping until noon. Favorite movies include Taxi Driver, Fight Club and Blade Runner. Suderman was a pretty serious music geek in high school, he says. Among the instruments he played: Guitar, bass, tuba, flute and baritone.

Prior to Washington, Sudmerman was an editor at the University of North Florida Spinnaker, where he wrote a column and movie reviews and compiled the local entertainment calendar. He spent a couple years writing record reviews for Skyscraper, a music zine for indie-rock obsessives. In 2005 he arrived in Washington — a city it seems he was destined to live — and went to work as Assistant Editorial Director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He began writing movie reviews for National Review Online. Soon he became NRO‘s Managing Editor, which involved briefly relocating to NYC.

He happily returned to Washington and hasn’t looked back. “You may not be rich,” he says of journalism, “but you can make a decent career of waking up everyday and reading and writing. I get paid to watch movies. This is not bad.”

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? Ale 8, a difficult-to-find but uniquely tasty Kentucky ginger ale that is the best soda I’ve ever had.

How often do you Google yourself? Google alerts does it continuously for me.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? In general, I’m of the opinion that saying terrible things to bosses isn’t a good idea, so I haven’t done much of it. But during my college years, I briefly worked at a chain clothing store. It was tedious and terrible and they would promise to schedule employees one way—and then totally ignore those promises when the schedule was posted. Eventually, I got tired of it and told one of the assistant managers that I wouldn’t be coming in anymore, even though I was supposed to work several more shifts. The response wasn’t exactly friendly. I’ve given notice before quitting every other job I’ve ever worked. But in this case I recall saying something to effect of, “You guys have no respect for my schedule, so why should I have any respect for yours?”

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? It’s impossible to pick one. Obviously, I am a big fan of my wife, Megan McArdle, and all of my colleagues at Reason. But in no particular order, I am also a big fan of: Ross Douthat, Ezra Klein, Philip Klein, Tim Carney, Ryan Lizza, Jonathan Cohn, A.O. Scott, and Anthony Lane. This is an incomplete list, and I’ve surely forgotten to include important people.

What’s your dream job? Aqua Teen Hunger Force voice actor, maybe? Or editor at an awesome libertarian magazine.

Do you have a favorite word? Balderdash?

Top three life moments: Getting married. Meeting my wife for the first time. Making the cover of the local paper dressed up as Obi-Wan Kenobi after seeing Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either Sec. Janet Napolitano or former AG Janet Reno? Who will it be? (Neither is not an option.) If the fate of humanity hangs in the balance based on one’s commitment to a night between the sheets with one of the Janets, maybe we don’t deserve to survive. But if I can’t say “neither,” and we’re really in an end-times scenario, then I suppose I may as well go for both. Makes for a more entertaining story afterwards, and is probably more likely to accomplish the important productivity goals.

What swear word do you use most often? I mutter “Oh, for fuck’s fucking sake” at least a few times everyday.

To borrow from Politico’s “Answer This” (with a FishbowlDC twist): Picture someone in Washington who you’d like to strangle (if such a thing were legal). Without naming him or her, please describe them in the nude. Just kidding. Tell us what you think of them. I think this person is embarrassing [himself or herself], but it’s sure entertaining to watch.

Who is your favorite Boybander and why? (Ezzy, Hazy, Weigel, Attackerman, Beutler) I like all of them because they’re good journalists and decent people. But I suppose if I have to pick one, I’ll go with Weigel, because I’ve known him almost since I moved to D.C.

When you pig out what do you eat? Tyson’s chicken tenders. (I also eat these when I’m not pigging out.)

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. If it’s a certain kind of underwear we don’t want to know about it. My various clothing allegiances tend to shift quite a bit from year to year, but since moving to D.C., one constant in my life has been a tweed jacket I got from my dad. I have no idea what brand it is, or what it cost him. But it’s amazingly comfortable, and it kind of looks like an old English prof’s coat left over from his grad school days, likely because it is.

Pick one: Kim, Khloe, or Kourtney? It can’t be an accident that those initials spell K.K.K.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading? No, but if the CBO gave personalized long-term outlooks, I would definitely be up for that.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? As a little kid, I once rode one of those flying saucer-shaped snow sleds off the side of a hill into a ditch. I kind of thought I was going to die at the time, but that probably doesn’t count.

Ever been arrested? Never even had a speeding ticket, although I seem to be a magnet for parking tickets. But maybe that’s just because I’m a person with a car in D.C.

Tell us a secret not many people know about you. I briefly played bass in a theatrical metal band (that didn’t actually play much metal) called Metal Spike. My stage name was Professor Gorefest.

What scares you? Paperwork. Being without Internet or coffee. Death. The Twilight movies.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? I recently blogged an item about a fellow who was caught outside the Large Hadron Collider claiming to be from the future. I quickly realized that the item was years old, and from April Fool’s day. Update!

Have you ever been fired? When I was working at Culture11, a small web-mag startup that died at the beginning of 2009, I unexpectedly lost my job when the place ran out of money earlier than I expected.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? While reorganizing the kitchen with my wife last weekend. We discovered that we had somehow accumulated seven nearly full bottles of molasses, which for reasons I’m not really sure I can explain seemed pretty hilarious to both of us at the time. I also laugh pretty frequently while reading Congressional Budget Office reports, which can be fairly amusing, depending on your perspective.

When and why did you last lose your temper? While watching the movie version of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, probably. But only in my head.

Who would you want to play you in a movie? Fight Club-era Edward Norton, obviously.

Do you have a me-wall? If so, who’s on it? A what?

Who should just call it a day? Kathleen Sebelius. I could defend the health care overhaul better than she does, and I spend most of my time writing about how the law is terrible.

From TMZ Founder Harvey Levin: You are about to be served your last meal. What will it be? Sentimental answer: My father’s homemade pizza. My wife’s roasted potatoes. Several pints of McGuire’s Porter. Hoping-to-stay-alive-longer answer: the Komi tasting menu, which both tastes awesome and takes about three hours to get through .

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. This one may live on indefinitely. Make it good. You’re given a choice between living a normal length life looking like you’re 28 and a thousand year life in which your age shows the whole time. Which would you pick and why?

 

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