So he put his phone down, thinking nothing of it. But the texts kept coming. Finally, he checked Obama’s Facebook page for himself.
“And I saw my name on there,” he says. “Then I started picturing him reading some of the sillier stuff that I wrote in there, like, ‘Oh my God, the president read a thing I wrote about J.J. Redick’s penis.’ ”
The nod from Obama was one of many accolades for the best-selling “Basketball (And Other Things).” Now, Serrano is back with the second book in the series, “Movies (And Other Things),” which hit shelves this week.
Serrano’s new book follows the same Q&A format as the previous one. Serrano, a staff writer for the Ringer website, uses idiosyncratic humor — plus illustrations by Arturo Torres — to explore a film-themed question in each of his 30 chapters. Among them: “Were the ‘Jurassic Park’ raptors just misunderstood?” “Which movie death hurt you the most as an adult?” and “Which race was white-saviored the best by Kevin Costner?”
Speaking from his office in Houston, Serrano discussed putting together the second installment in his “(And Other Things)” series.
Q: So how did “Movies (And Other Things)” come about?
A: I really liked working on the basketball book. I liked the format and how set everything was. Each chapter is its own thing, and you don’t have to read it in order. You can read whatever chapters you want, and you’re fine. But they all sort of have the same feel and a through line that connects them all. When Arturo and I decided, “All right, let’s do another book,” it just made sense to us.
How did the success of “Basketball (And Other Things)” affect your approach to this book?
I try to make it a point, whenever I’m writing stuff, to just assume nobody is ever going to read it. That makes it easier.
You got John Leguizamo and Don Cheadle to write the forward and afterward, respectively. How did you react when they joined the project?
Oh dude, I . . . lost my mind. I’ve followed John Leguizamo’s career for 20 years, and we’ve had this very one-sided relationship where anything he’s in, I’m going to go see it. It’s the same with Don Cheadle. He showed up in my life very early and has been there for a long, long time. He’s always been just this exceptionally cool movie star. So to be able to have them do the forward and afterward was a big achievement for me. But more than anything else, I just wanted to use it as an excuse to try to have a conversation with these two guys that I’ve looked up to.
This book tackles a lot of amusing questions. What was the most enjoyable chapter to write?
In my head right now, they all suck and they’re all terrible and none of them are funny or smart, because I’ve just gone so, so many times through them. But if I had to pick one, I think “Who’s in the perfect heist movie crew?” was the most purely fun to write. I had to spend two weeks watching every heist movie that I could think of, or that was on any list on the Internet anywhere, to make sure that I didn’t miss anything. I could think of worse ways to spend a couple weeks than watching “Set If Off” and “Point Break” and “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Twelve,” “Thirteen” and “8.”
One highlight is the chapter in which you imagine “Halloween” villain Michael Myers conducting an NBA-style postgame press conference after a night of slayings. What did you find so entertaining about that premise?
What’s the opposite of what you know Michael Myers to be? To me, that would be this sort of secretly funny, almost tender person who likes to talk about the stuff that he’s doing. He never one time says one single word ever in any of the movies, so if I got to pick a dream scenario, I would like to see him answering a bunch of questions. It was just a silly, dumb thing that made me laugh.
You made the Marvel Cinematic Universe chapter a transcript of a conversation you had with your three young sons after seeing “Avengers: Endgame.” How did you land on that concept?
I thought it would be interesting in 10 years to look back and have this conversation saved forever. It’s going to be in the book for a long, long time, and even if it’s not meaningful to anybody else, it’s going to mean a lot to me to think back to that time in all of our lives. As silly as the idea of Iron Man fighting Thanos is, it’s also a moment that we had together and a bunch of other people had, and let’s be a little sentimental for at least this one chapter.
What’s next for you and the “(And Other Things)” series?
We’re definitely doing a third “(And Other Things).” But I don’t know exactly what we’re going to do just yet. I would guess it’s between rap or television. Both of those would be fun projects to spend two years of my life working on with Arturo again.
Thomas Floyd is a freelance journalist who writes about arts and entertainment for The Washington Post. He was previously the entertainment editor at Washington Post Express.
Movies (And other things)
By Shea Serrano
Twelve. 256 pp. $25