iSmith: First off, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to talk with us today about your 2018 celebrity birthday messages.

Ian: It’s nothing, really. I’m grateful that somebody is actually interested enough to want to discuss this without me casually bringing it up in the hopes that they’ll ask me to elaborate.

iSmith: Well, to be honest, when you agreed to participate in this last year, as our sole contributor, we didn’t know what to expect, either from you or from the project.

Ian: To be just as honest, or maybe even more, I didn’t really either. And I think that’s quite obvious in the first month or so, where the notes are short and seemingly incomplete or substandard. It certainly wasn’t structured from the onset, and for awhile there I didn’t think I’d make it through all 365 days. But here we are, and I’m overjoyed that I managed to follow through, especially since I’m better known as a startist, after all.

iSmith: Yes, and you allude to this several times throughout –

Ian: Which it why I was excited to do this to begin with. I had too many digital notebooks, full of general ideas, little kernels of ideas, that I mostly kept private, and I wanted an outlet for turning them into something a little more major.

iSmith: Which this did turn into, almost militarily. We knew you were the right person for this, even though the people upstairs were hoping for a little more diversity than a waspy middle-class cis straight white male.

Ian: Understandable. I sometimes wish I was a little more diverse myself, even in small ways, as I mentioned to Gal.

iSmith: Right, right. I remember that one. So is she your – Gal pal now?


iSmith: I see. Now I’ll admit, I am both chomping and champing at the bit here to ask you something that no one around the office here seems to know – who is this Editor of yours with all the notes?

Ian: Ah, I thought this might come up. It’s actually – well, how should I explain this? My mom was actually pregnant with twins – don’t worry, not like in Alia’s message. So as the stronger one, I ingested my wombmate during the first trimester, but there’s a part of him that stuck around in me. Luckily he and I share many of the same sensibilities, so we’re rarely at odds or anything. In fact, his presence is actually useful for keeping my regular, naturally cannibalistic self in check a bit, which is why I call him the editor. Write drunk, edit sober, you know?

iSmith: Fascinating, truly. What does it even feel like living inside that double-sided brain?

Ian: You’ll have to ask the little Malaysian boys who are always bumming around in there. No, no, I kid. It’s fine. Obviously there’s weirdness inhabiting the neural folds, but I assume it’s weird in everyone else’s too. They might be better at hiding it though, even though I am aware of how I could act to fit in a little better.

iSmith: For sure, they are. Now this might disappoint you to hear, but some fans might not have been able to keep up with reading a new piece every day. For these lazies, who might prefer a Best Of or something, do you have a list of your own personal favourites?

Ian: I’ll give you 10, to go along with the format of most year-end lists, so here they are in no particular order:

iSmith: Weird, those are my 10 least favourite, in that particular order. Different stroke folks, we be. Speaking of, are there any topics you didn’t have a chance to cover?

Ian: Oh yes, quite a few. There’s one that –

iSmith: Moving on, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about this iSmith BirthDeath Effect.

Ian: Right. Fortunately, it turned out not to be a real thing, but you know where it came from, right? Verne Troyer, our January 1 subject, passed away in April, and I’d be lying if I didn’t consider how it would play out if every other celebrity I wrote about started suddenly dying. When Paul Allen fell as well, I got scared that the project was some strange omen that was trying to kill everyone I wrote about. When Adam McKay had a heart –

iSmith: But hold on. If we –

Ian: Wait a second. How did you know what people in my high school used to call me? I don’t think I even mentioned what happened at my confirmation in any of the messages.

iSmith: Sorry?

Ian: Huh? Well, like, when I got confirmed, as a teenager or whatever, in case I ever wanted to get married in a Catholic church, the priest asked me what new middle name I wanted to take, and I said “John”, after my grandfather who had just died. But I had a gnarly little speech impediment and he thought I said “Don”, which is where the nickname came from. That and how I made a big mess at an assembly.

iSmith: Moving on? Now that this project is coming to a close, are you going to take a break from writing for a while?

Ian: Well, not exactly. Having a daily goal this year was definitely motivating for my creative side, and I wanted something similar for next year. So in each of the next twelve months, I’ll be diving deep and becoming utterly Obsessed with a different subject, and some of these will be centred around writing. And I’d be happy to chronicle my progress on your publication again. If you’ll have me, that is.

iSmith: At this point, I’m not sure if we have a choice. So sure, go right ahead. Thank you.

Ian: Yes, of course. Thank me.

December 31 – Anthony Hopkins gets an interview about the last year
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