By Elizabeth Downing Johnson
11Points.com creator Sam Greenspan is the most knowledgeable guy about everything, ever. Except cats and Star Trek. I had the opportunity to ask him 11 questions, (of course it was 11) so I did, and he answered them with his characteristic good-natured charm and cleverness. You might remember when I did a review of his book 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up. I was a fan then, and I’m even more of a fan now, especially since he answered my questions thoughtfully and thoroughly, and didn’t once ask if I was dropped on my head as a child. Read on to learn more about Sam.
1. Do you make lists for everything in your life (grocery, Christmas card, apocalypse survival kit, etc.) or do you save that for your website and book?
Making 11-item lists has become a creepily subconscious habit. Like I try to extend to-do lists to 11 and such now. I also spot 11s everywhere, like Jim Carrey in that movie “The Number 23”. Which I didn’t see, but I think I got the gist from the trailer.
2. What is your favorite subject to make lists about?
My favorite lists are the ones about race, religion and grammar — quite possibly because those are the last three taboos in society.
3. Is there anything that you would not make a list about?
I try to only write about what I know and can speak about from a completely informed position. There are 11 Star Trek movies, but I’ve never made the list ranking them because I simply don’t know Star Trek the series well enough to handle the movie in context. And also cats. I won’t write about cats.
4. Have you learned more through school or through your research for your lists? If it’s the latter, bummer about those school loans, huh?
Trivia-wise, nothing could compare to doing 11 Points. Each one I write is like a term paper. I probably put an average of three hours into each one… which is why I don’t write them daily. However, I don’t think I’d be able to write if I hadn’t gone to school and been indoctrinated with the hardcore principles of journalism. At least that’s what I tell myself.
5. You acknowledged Oprah in 11 Points…, when does your own show on the O Network start?
Hopefully before the network ends.
6. Do you have a surplus of unused 11 points lists that you probably will never publish and if so, how much more do you think they will be worth once you’re dead?
I have no cache. I am never ahead. And generally I pick the topic I’m going to write approximately 12 hours before the list is published. But if there’s a market for my writing when I’m dead, I hope people want to buy the first 20 pages of 25 unfinished screenplays.
7. Was your choice to use 11 points inspired by Spinal Tap’s amplifiers? Otherwise, why are top 10 lists for cowards?
I didn’t even think of Spinal Tap when I was creating the site, but now I’m well aware of the connection. 11 was one of my favorite numbers growing up — it was my sports number. (In middle school, when I played sports.) At the time when I was starting it, my friends and I were going through a big phase of calling people cowards — so when I settled on the 11-item list idea, that tagline immediately popped into my head. I’m glad it did, because it works really well — whenever I give someone a business card, they laugh at the tagline. Or perhaps at the fact that I have business cards that are hot pink.
8. Do you moisturize?
I have this tendency to get absurdly chapped lips whenever I go on a trip with friends. I get dehydrated, I drink alcohol, and my lips turn to cracked paste. Then I use a special medicated type of lip balm to try to moisturize them. But otherwise, no. Absolutely not.
9. What websites do you frequent and why?
I watch Hulu approximately 100 times more than I watch Netflix. I like a constantly updated stream of fresh TV shows more than a rarely-updated stream of two- to 13-year-old movies. And I check my own site hourly to make sure it’s still alive.
10. If you were Super Mario, would you write lists about plumbing, or just about Koopa?
I think I would need to eventually diversify and write about everything. When you work day-to-day as a plumber, you’re going to want to write about plumbing. And also I’d write about my job as a boxing referee, that’s got to be pretty exciting.
11. When is the next book coming out and what type of lists will it contain?
The next book is still in the early phases, but things look good. I can’t say yet what the subject will be, but it won’t be another dating book. It might not even stick so rigidly to the list format. That will be determined soon. I promise, I will tell you as soon as things are formalized.
You can get your 11 item list fix on at 11Points.com, and be sure to pick up a copy of Sam’s book, 11 Points Guide to Hooking Up: Lists and Advice about First Dates, Hotties, Scandals, Pick-ups, Threesomes, and Booty Calls.