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James Lileks on Joe Biden’s stereotyping, and Hugh Hewitt’s font typing.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

HH: That is the podcast of my guest, James Lileks, The Diner, available every single week, or at least when he feels like working. James, how are you?

JL: (laughing) When I feel like working…every Friday, unless I’ve blown out my bandwidth, and thank you for the plug. It’s quite a day for me. Not only do I get to be on the Hugh Hewitt Show with The Diner, but Paul Harvey read a column of mine today.

HH: What???

JL: On the air. Paul (pause) (pause) (pause)…

HH: Har-vey…

JL: Harvey read a column of mine in his Noontime broadcast. I was listening to it, and the words sounded familiar, and I thought, well, I hope I’m getting credit at the end of this, and sure enough, he did, and he pronounced the name correctly. And for somebody who was four years old and remember Paul Harvey talking about head, red Kruschev under the kitchen table, it was quite a thrill.

HH: And did your bandwidth go crazy after that reference?

JL: I didn’t…I never check…

HH: Oh, that’s right, because then you’d have to pay for it. James Lileks, I’m still recovering from being up way too late at Jasperwood a week ago tomorrow night.

JL: And a grand time it was.

HH: It was, but I’m still…

JL: We’re calling you lampshade boy now.

HH: Well, I’m a little bit upset about one thing. You don’t like Thor.

JL: I don’t like Thor?

HH: Yeah.

JL: No, I did not come out in an anti-Thor position. I put him low on the Marvel pantheon, personally, but I realize that Thor is very important to the Marvel cosmology.

HH: Oh, how PC is that? That’s like saying all Indians work in donut shops and 7/11’s. Now you had an animous against Thor, and I think you ought to own it in front of millions.

JL (laughing) Well, Hugh, you know, again, the reason we call you lampshade boy was because I had to go upstairs to the linen closet and get additional sheets for you to be to the wind to.

HH: (laughing)

JL: So your recollection of the evening, my friend, may be a little different than mine. I regard myself as having delivered a stirring defense of Thor. And what’s his hammer’s name, incidentally?

HH: I have no idea anymore.

JL: Mjolnir. All right, next?

HH: Well, I said that. And the other thing I’m worried about is that you apparently have a photographic memory.

JL: Perhaps. It depends on what I’ve forgotten today.

HH: But that is…have you begun your work on U.S.A., John Dos Passos’ successor novel?

JL: As I told you, Hugh, I’m doing it one day at a time on the Bleat.

HH: Oh, gosh. Now let’s get to the important stuff, Joe Biden.

JL :Yes.

HH: What’d you make of that?

JL: Well, it’s delightful, of course. Joe just can’t stop talking. And a couple of things came to mind, and forgive me if I’m going over territory trod by previous callers. I was walking the dog. But first of all, I mean, if a Republican had shown up to a Chinese-American businessmen’s association, and said it’s good to see all you Chinamen here, no tickey, no shirty. That’s the equivalent.

HH: Pretty much.

JL: And he would have been rightly pillaried for it. How much play this gets? I have no idea. But he couldn’t even get the ethnic slur right. I mean, it was a convoluted thing that he said, that you can’t go into one of these stores without having the accent? As opposed to you can’t own one of these stores, or operate one of these stores.

HH: I think it’s work in. I think he was getting to work in.

JL: Well, he made it sound, in his mumbled way, as though having this sort of accent was a precondition for entering the place to buy your donuts. But if that’s…I mean, it makes me wonder exactly how many 7/11’s Joe Biden has been in recently. I don’t see him as the ‘nipping down to the corner for a quart of milk’ kind of guy, which leads me to believe that he’s probably getting his insights on American culture and history and economics from the Simpsons, which of course, has Apu of the Quickie Mart, which would explain his opposition…

HH: It does? Who’s it got at the Quickie Mart?

JL: Apu.

HH: I don’t watch the Simpsons.

JL: Oh, it’s a wonderful show, and Apu is one of their finest and most beloved characters. But I mean, if he comes out against nuclear power, it’s because he’s afraid of giving more money to C. Montgomery Burns. So that whole thing was sort of strange and very Bidenesque….

HH: Will you see anything about it in tomorrow’s major newspapers?

JL: No, and I’ll tell you why, because news holes are small, very small. And if somebody caused a big stink about it, and it was something other than a off-hand remark, glad-handing somebody in a hallway, which is what it appeared to be from the film, it might make play. But no…I mean, give Biden some time. Let him take the nomination and pull a gaffe like that, and you might see it in small agate type on A-6.

HH: Well, you know, this is the second time. Remember the Princeton hat? How he hates Princeton during the Alito hearings?

JL: Yes.

HH: This is twice in six months. I don’t think his shelf life as a candidate can go long.

JL: I only hope that it does, because it’s so delightful, because it’s rare to meet a man who is so blinded by self-regard that he just doesn’t get the point that he ought to govern his mouth a bit more.

HH: (laughing) It’s a well-put point. Now before I forget, where does one get the download of the podcast, The Diner? Tell people in very slow, non-technical terms.


HH: That’s it. And then they can put their little plug in and it comes right out, right?

JL: Well, that’ll send them to the archives, the MP3’s. If they just simply go to, as I hope they do,, they will find a link at the bottom of the page to the I-Tunes edition, which will enable them to subscribe, which I like, because it boosts my traffic and my standings and rankings, and they’ll get it delivered automatically.

HH: That’s the way…

JL: If I haven’t blown through a half a terabyte of bandwidth in the last week.

HH: I don’t even know what a terabyte is. Now, did you happen to hear the beginning of the program when I was talking about George Cardinal Pell’s Islam And Us?

JL: Yes, yes I did.

HH: What did you think of that?

JL: I think he’s on to something, and I think he’s correct, and I unfortunately think he’s correct, and it’s interesting to see the Church is coming out and taking this position, because it’s very un-PC.

HH: Have you seen anything remotely approaching that level of candor in print anywhere?

JL: No. Well, from a major religious figure in Christendom, no, I’ve not. And I would like to see it get more play, but it’s not going to, because the newspapers, unfortunately, subscribe to a sort of doctrine of hand-holding multi-culturalism that I wouldn’t say willingly blinds them to this, but makes them less likely…

HH: Proprosition…

JL: Yes.

HH: The reason you don’t get more of that is the first call in response to it suggested nuking Mecca.

JL: Yeah, yeah.

HH: You see, it has…it calls forth…it’s almost from A to Z. There’s nothing in between recognition of difficulties inherent within the theology, and nuking Mecca. And that’s why I don’t think serious people deal with this.

JL: No. A crank calling into a show, and I’m not saying the previous caller was a crank, although he could be a crank calling into a radio show, and talking about nuking Mecca, will get more play in the press than say a mid-level Iranian imam talking about nuking the Vatican.

HH: Yeah, you’re right. And if you go and peruse in the Washington Post, you will find a mid-level Iranian talking about getting rid of Israel.

JL: Yes.

HH: They actually commissioned that article yesterday. I was a little stunned by that.

HH: James, thanks for being back for an encore tonight.

JL: You got me out of a long, interminable questionnaire from AAA.

HH: Well, boy, you owe me then. Lileks, there is at a choice of six different typefaces for my blog. And they run from Times New Roman to MS sans seriff, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial, and Courier New.

JL: Yes.

HH: I’ve been getting complaints about whichever one I’m in. I think I’m in Arial. And I thought I would consult with you since you know how well-equipped I am to make design decisions.

JL: I’m looking at it now, here, and it appears to be in Arial, Helvetica, New Times, New Roman, looks like you got a little, well, I don’t see any Courier yet, but it’s…let’s put it this way. It’s the Old Country buffet of font. It’s a rich potpourri of the font tradition.

HH: And I really don’t want that, do I?

JL: You don’t. You want to stick with one. And even though you blamed me for the font in the entry, and I did read that, thank you, thank you…

HH: (laughing)

JL: And I tried to see what the comments were, but the comments pages aren’t displaying.

HH: Oh, they aren’t? Some of the…Are you on Firefox browser?

JL: No, I’m on Safari, and sometimes when I go to it…it’s a new site, and it’s great, and sometimes you can just hear the rivets popping out like the U-boat in Das Boot at the bottom of the water.

HH: It is. We’ve been…the three hours they were up yesterday on July 4th, they had 400,000 page views, and it sunk.

JL: Which is good.

HH: So they put it back together again…

JL: I would go with a nice Sans Serif. I really would.

HH: All right.

JL: There’s something about the little pointy edges that just kind of snag people’s eyes in a way they don’t always like.

HH: Where did that name come from?

JL: It’s French. And Serif is that little thing that hangs off there and Sans Serif, of course, is when you have sans, there’s a little hook. That’s a basic, technical description there for you.

HH: Duane says that means without backbone in French. So is that what you use at

JL: I…what do I use? I think I’m using…oh, what am I using? I’m just…you see, there are so many great fonts out there, but you can’t use them, because unless the user has them installed on his computer, you’re out of luck.

HH: Okay.

JL: So I just go with a basic Arial.

HH: I think I used to use Times New Roman, but I will yield to your decision. Sans Serif it is. And in that regard, I would let you know that I’ve already had two e-mails asking how to spell you name, which I’m always amazed by. Lileks is not that hard.

JL: Lileks. You also might want to stick to a consistent font size, because there appear to be about fifteen font sizes.

HH: I’m trying to get three, but unfortunately, the default is two, and that’s too small for middle aged eyes.

JL: I do like the way, however, that you’ve decided to use blue for hyperlinks. That’s bold, Hugh. That’s really bold.

HH: You know, I’m edgy.

JL: Nothing brings me back to 1995 like a blue hyperlink.

HH: This may surprise you?

JL: Yes, sir?

HH: But I really didn’t decide that.

JL: I had that feeling.

HH: (laughing)

JL: I’m checking out the source code here, because I’m sure I can find your fingerprints all over it.

HH: All over it. I’ve been programming like a little hampster for the last month. James, thank you, friend. Take care.

End of interview.

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