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Tennisace and I walked along the winding cobblestone path leading to the orphanage. We were let in by a plain-looking girl who introduced herself as Jane; she led us up the stairs, passing little Tom talking to snakes and a precocious girl with ginger hair on the way to Tangerine's room.
Inside, stacks of future anime avatars and Economics books lined the walls, and on the far end, above the window, was a picture of a whale with three darts puncturing its eye. The room was empty but for a curious orange fruit on the floor.
Suddenly a line appeared in the orange fruit, and it opened. It uttered a greeting and told us to sit.
Hey, thanks for letting us interview you!
This will be...
Tangerine paused for a moment to consider. I wondered what he was going to say. Horrible? Lame? Fat?
Uh, yeah. To start off, what is your favorite—food?
Haha. Despite my name, there is food, even fruits, I would prefer to eat other than tangerines or similar fruits.
Specifically, my favorite "food" would have to be kimchi—particularly because it's one food I will have a hard time getting by without. It's what you get for being Korean.
So if tangerines aren't your favorite food, why did you pick it as your username?
It's a gimmick from another IRC channel I used to frequent. A friend and I would change nicknames without notice and we would mimic each other—he went by the name of Mandarin and Clementine for a while, so I chose Tangerine to confuse people, and the name stuck. My other IRC handle, Milkis, also came from this.
After the channel died, I just stuck with the name Tangerine because I thought it was the most amusing name. Apparently people thought the same since there seemed to be a lot of interesting word play that went with the name. And I'm sure you all remember "Serene Grace."
Heh, it's certainly memorable. Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Sure. I'm currently a student at a university studying Economics. I'm not a terrific student mostly because I get distracted too easily by things like Smogon, but I do my best nonetheless.
My hobbies would be trying to apply what I learn to everything. I get them wrong a lot, but that's how you learn! While I tend to be conservative physically, I try out a lot of random things mentally, whether it be engaging new ideas or just applying things as much as possible.
At once a man burst into the room, his member dangling. His groin was strangely pixelated, as if he had just walked out of an episode of Cops. He stopped in the doorway, winked knowingly, and said, "Penis." For some reason, he sounded like Sarenji.
I felt bad for the man’s self-esteem, for I knew a stinging insult was coming. After a moment of deadly silence, we heard something completely unexpected: Tangerine was laughing.
tennisace and I exchanged shocked glances.
Uh, so, you mentioned your Korean background earlier. Care to tell us about that?
Haha, not much to mention. I'm Korean, as in I was only born there since my parents left the country when I was three. I got my U.S. citizenship two years ago.
I don't think my parents were "Asian parents," although they definitely had some traits of being one. Even then, it's sort of weird since everyone from the States would tell me that I'm way too Asian for my own good (since I'm more familiar with Korean pop culture than American, amongst other things), while when I was in Korea everyone noticed that how I think and speak is strictly American.
The naked man found Tangerine’s computer, settled himself on the seat, and loaded up StarCraft.
Speaking of which, tennisace thinks only Koreans play StarCraft. What do you make of this?
I giggled to myself, almost feeling sorry for tennisace. I knew Tangerine would have a field day with him.
And what else do you do with your free time? (Besides Smogon!)
Haha, what tennisace said is patently false. I think it's mostly the fact that Korea overshadows all other countries due to its organized Proleagues. I know for a fact that many people have started getting back into StarCraft recently, especially since StarCraft 2 is coming out "soon."
Yet again, I was left speechless at his tame reaction.
As for what I do with my free time, I read—from random books to blogs centered on economics. Although, when school starts, I tend to stop reading books and just read textbooks and academic papers instead.
I also play MMORPGs with a small group of friends—although I usually enjoy the game for other reasons than they do, since I mostly sit around looking at the markets in those games and they compete with one another. I think I spent a lot of time just playing these games as breaks from studying. :(
I also started writing, something I've been telling myself I would do for months, although it's turning out to be a lot more difficult than I expected, not just the challenges of writing but just picking up another habit.
From what I can see, you really enjoy economics as a whole, even though some people consider it dry. What do you like about it as a subject?
I enjoy economics because it's strictly a set of tools that lets you analyze how people behave. In terms of those set of tools, it's fascinating, and there are many books that will get you to think in the same way.
The people who think economics are boring are the people who were never properly introduced to these tools, from what I have experienced (I could easily be wrong, of course). This effect is worsened by the preconception that economics is strictly about money and the stock markets, but the tools can be applied everywhere. It's a very useful and easy-to-apply set of tools that gets you thinking for the most part.
One of the reasons I'm still around Smogon is because nowadays, I'm attempting to apply such tools on various games. Applying the tools on Pokémon has been rather interesting, although I still need to finish writing them down and creating an overall picture of how the game works.
Speaking of Pokémon, specifically Pokémon websites, how did you find and become integrated in Smogon?
I actually found Smogon through Firestorm, so you can blame him for everything.
I heard tennisace mutter, "Thanks a bunch, Firestorm."
Basically, I was looking forward to the release of Diamond and Pearl for a while, and so I began to do a little research, and Firestorm told me about Smogon. I lurked around Smogon for a long time before I started posting, and at first I didn't like it very much because of how snide the moderators were (Synre/Teifu's rather elegant Mr. Peanuts avatar didn't help his case). It took a while for me to "integrate," mostly because I had to do a lot of reading before I knew where the moderators were coming from and understanding how the place worked.
I was apparently a generally helpful poster, and got a Ladybug, only to spend about six months away from the Internet when I went on my trip to Korea. When I came back, Phuquoph noticed that I was active in WiFi, and, along with a few other users, recommended us for moderators, because at that point no one moderated WiFi and it was a complete utter shitfest (this is where a lot of the preconception of "terrible wifiers" come from). I accepted, and I'm sure what came after is etched in everyone's heads by now.
You've done a lot of good for Smogon over the years by starting a bunch of projects around the site (The Smog being one!). Where do all these ideas come from? Also, do you have anything else up your sleeve you'd care to share with us?
I'm pretty well known to be a very critical person, and I think that's one of the reasons why I have so many ideas, particularly because I'm never satisfied with things the way they are. So I always look for ways to improve them. I would say this attitude is the "fuel" behind everything I did on Smogon. In terms of things up my sleeve, I still have a lot of ideas, but nothing I will reveal at this point, because I tend not to start projects I know I will not be a part of. It's one of the issues I ran across when I started In-Game Expansion—I had to delegate it to mingot (and thankfully, he stepped up and took over) because I really did not have the energy to keep up with it during my school year.
Those projects have been very helpful and I'm glad to have been a part of some of them. Another thing that came after your reign over Wi-Fi were several ragequats. Some people call it hot-headedness; others call it passion. What's your take? Why did you ragequat so many times?
I expected a waterfall of anger to come pouring forth. Instead, a thoughtful look came over his face.
The biggest thing I think was frustration. I hold extremely high standards, as many people would know by now, and if they are not met, I get very frustrated, which leads to rather rash actions. This is probably worsened by how arrogant I am, because if things were just so far away from my expectations I had a tendency to lash out, and get into conflicts with other users, even administrators.
My end goal for Smogon was to have it be an intelligent forum, beyond what it is now. I think in the end I just realized that it's probably never going to be at such a level due to many factors, and I should be satisfied with the forums for the way it is now. So, recently I stopped trying and giving the "let the forums be" a shot and seeing how it goes.
Moving in a different direction a bit, you have a reputation as a fierce debater. Where did you learn to argue?
I didn't learn anywhere—it's something I just picked up from years of arguing with others on Internet forums. although some of those were closer to straight out fights over the Internet, if you can imagine that.
I do think my first year Calculus course I took (it's really real analysis) at university definitely helped. The course was an "Inquiry Based Learning" course, where the professor just handed you a sheet with axioms, definitions, and theorems, and we had to prove all of them by ourselves, and present the proofs in class. In such a setting I would imagine it wouldn't be difficult to pick up a lot of the skills and intuition that goes into putting together an argument.
Heh, you're definitely not fun to argue with. Anyway, could you please scrupulously go over your plan for if I met you in NYC?
We'd sell your organs to the Chinese underground organ market, and sell off whatever meat we can use to a store that makes dumplings (the latter bit is actually a common theme in old Chinese tales). And then we'd take all the fat and sell it off for oil and be millionaires.
I breathed a sigh of relief; finally I saw the Tangerine I knew.
In all seriousness, probably just lunch or coffee. There would have been tar and feathering involved but I think that's illegal now, sadly. What kind of question is this...?
Was this the Twilight Zone or something? I checked my watch. Several minutes had passed, but not too long, or too short. I looked out the window; the scenery looked completely ordinary. If this was a different reality, I couldn't tell.
As a two-time nominee for Meanest User on Smogon, you definitely have a reputation, but you say you're only mean to specific users. What qualities do your targets have that attracts you to them?
I'd like to think that most of my reputation comes from my rather sharp wit when it comes to thinking of quick amusing insults. The other bit coming from when I argue with users I dislike, as I tend to integrate snide shots at them.
In general though, I tend to be mean to users who tend to object or speak without making any sort of point. It is an utter waste of time, and they tend to have this authoritative tone that give off a false impression that they're saying something important but in reality they're saying nothing. Because I think criticism is good, I tend to make my targets users who talk or criticize without anything to back up their talk other than etiquette or pedantic logic.
Jimbo also assumed that someone of your meanness couldn't possibly like a Pokémon. So what is your least favorite?
Quite a bit actually, since I tend not to care about Pokémon I like the least to make a coherent ordering. I'm not a fan of Bidoofs and Mudkips particuarly because of all the stupid memes that spawned off of them. I probably wouldn't like Bidoofs either way, but I think the memes put it over the edge. I dislike Dragonite because it's a terrible evolution from Dragonair. The evolution just does not make sense...
In the distance I heard Mekkah yell, "Fucking Dragonite!"
Finally, while I like Rotom as a Pokémon, it's the Pokémon I hated seeing the most when I played competitively, although I probably would have gotten used to it if I kept on playing. I think it was mostly the fact that it stopped all of the Pokémon I liked. :(
Well, that's all we have for you today, thanks for joining us!
It's been a pleasure.
I could not keep it in any further. "Okay, seriously, what's up, Tangerine? You were so different in this interview. So nice, so carefree—"
"It's because I'm not Tangerine, cute Jimbo. I’m Grapefruit, his doppleganger. He left you this note."
The orange fruit rolled over to the desk, revealing a piece of paper that read:
"I only give interviews to useful users. See you in NYC, fatty."
I tore the note out of Grapefruit’s lack of hands, crumpled the paper up in a ball, and threw it out the window. Even as I did, Tangerine's words made me a little glad.
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