Social media has the tendency of being one of those places where it is easy to fall down a rabbit hole of things. Seriously, there are posts about everything humanly possible coming from every different direction. One minute you can be looking at a tweet a friend has retweeted and the next it could be an undetermined time later and you suddenly looking up things completely unrelated.
The reason I’m mentioning this is because of me falling down a rabbit hole on twitter looking up news on Chase Utley a few years ago when he was with the Dodgers. That folks, is how I discovered Amanda Smith. She had tweeted something about Chase using “WW2Utley” or something along those lines. I remember being so confused by it all as I skimmed the thread. I didn’t pay much attention to it after the quick skim and moved on. That was until someone I followed tweeted about it again. It was then I gave it a real chance and totally understood what it was all about. I ended up following Amanda right after that.
That could easily be the end of the story but it isn’t. Over time I started interacting and replying to Amanda. I discovered just how amazing a woman she was and consider her a friend especially in the crazy world of Dodgers Twitter. (If you know, you know.)
So ladies and gentleman, without further ado, meet Amanda Smith.
How would you describe yourself for those that don’t know you?
I’m a writer and a Dodgers fan who spends too much time on Twitter. Whatever you think of as “too much time,” double that and it’s probably how much time I spend on Twitter. Some people have hobbies; I have baseball and 280 characters.
What’s your favorite sports team? Do you have a favorite memory or game when it comes to them?
My favorite sports team is the Dodgers – really, baseball is the only sport I follow. I’m a third-generation Dodgers fan, so it’s been ingrained in me since childhood. For a favorite memory or game, it’s tough to choose. Going to Game 6 of the 2017 World Series with my family was incredibly special. I got to sit next to my dad and watch the Dodgers win a World Series game. Before the game we were on the Jumbotron because the kid next to us was dressed as a banana; my dad has a screenshot of it printed and framed on his desk.
I’ll be honest, the first time I came across you on twitter it was with your WW2 Utley hashtag. I remember being a little confused by it but once I started reading it I totally understood it and loved it. Can you explain WW2 Utley and what brought him to life on Twitter?
WW2 Utley started the same way most of my running threads on Twitter start: I made a joke then decided to run it into the ground because it amused me.
In May of 2017, someone tweeted a photo of him in the middle of a fight with the Marlins, staring up against Giancarlo Stanton with absolute insanity in his eyes, captioned “I will eat your heart.”
Any Dodgers or Phillies fan knows that Chase Utley isn’t afraid of being hit by a pitch. I wish there were a more solid connection to explain why my mind went where it did, but it really was “Chase is unafraid of pain à Chase is old à Chase is unafraid of pain because he fought in World War 2.” So I tweeted “You think I’m scared, little boy? I was in France. Just me & 6 Nazis, a little town outside Luxembourg. Ran out of bullets. Used my hands.” He was hit by a pitch a few days later, so I wrote a similar tweet, “Hit me. I need that pain to feel alive. I spent 3 weeks alone in a foxhole in Nuremberg. Stabbed myself in the thigh to smell the blood.”
It made me laugh, and it made a couple of my Twitter friends laugh, so I just kept doing it. Soon people were sending me screenshots from games or asking what Sgt. Utley would say about something, which was a huge compliment – not just that people were laughing at my jokes, but that they were seeking out more.
In retrospect, WW2Utley also became a way for me to deal with the vocal wave of white supremacy that arose in 2017 and 2018. I couldn’t punch the Nazis, so I wrote about a guy who could.
What is “Le Renard Agente (Silver Fox at War)” about?
Le Renard Argente: The Silver Fox at War” is the collected tweets with illustrations. I refer to it as micro-fiction: each page is a tweet-length short story about Sgt. Utley, the most deadly US soldier ever to fight in World War 2 and also play in the 2017 and 2018 baseball seasons. The stories tie into baseball: he compares being down in a game to being stuck in a foxhole, or he’s on the Injured List because of an old war wound. The book itself is almost like a picture book for adults, although I’ve actually heard from a couple people who read the book to their kids. I don’t necessarily recommend that, though.
What inspired “Le Renard Agente (Silver Fox at War)?
People would ask if I’d turn the tweets into a book, but it felt really indulgent, especially since I had no plans to create new material. How could I ask people to pay for something they could get for free on Twitter? But for Spring Training 2019, I put the tweets together in a photo book as a souvenir for myself, and friends who saw it kept asking to buy copies. I couldn’t sell that book, since the photos were all licensed, but I decided it would be fun to make it real. There was no way the book would work without the images for context, so I reached out to fans who were artists and could re-interpret the photos in their own styles. I was able to put together an incredible team: Ang Choi of @drawawalk, Bill Bushman, Rebecca Mills, Kendall Caroline Avery, and Pixar animator Paul Briggs. Claudia Real did the cover, which is just beyond anything I could have hoped for. Honestly, the reason to buy this book is for the art. It’s just beautiful, and they’re all so talented.
Are there any plans for another book like Le Renard Agente?
I have absolutely no plans right now for another book. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to put together! People have asked about if I’ll make “Deep Thoughts” a book, but I genuinely don’t know how it would work. Then again, I said that about the WW2 Utley tweets.
One thing I love about following you on twitter is your “theme” threads. That includes but is not limited to the one we mentioned above but my own personal favorite “Deep Thoughts with Cody Bellinger“. How do you come up with them and do you expect them to take off with your followers like they do?
I’m so glad you like the theme threads! I love them but definitely worry about running them into the ground (the Matt Foley meme thread is so deep in the ground at this point, but I won’t stop). The ~Deep Thoughts With Cody Bellinger~ thread was another one inspired by a photo. It was such a meme-able image of him looking contemplative, but in that, “2am philosophizing in your freshman dorm” kind of way. I tweeted six jokes in a row that were absurd and smart-dumb, and it amused me endlessly, so I just kept going. “Absurd and smart-dumb” is my happy place for humor. I never expect people will like my tweets, so when people ask for more, it’s always such a delight. For the process of writing the tweets, sometimes I see a photo and immediately know what the quote is going to be, but often I have to save the photo in the drafts and come back to it a few times before finding the right fit. It probably helps that my brain is wired to think smart-dumb things, like the other day when I was cutting a melon and thought “it’s a uterus with seeds; I’m a uterus with seeds; am I a melon?” It’s been a year and I’ve written over 100 of these quotes now. I worry sometimes that he’ll see the tweets and be offended, but it’s written with nothing but affection.
You co-host a podcast about disaster movies. Can you tell me about it?
I host the Disaster Girls podcast with my friend Jordan Crucchiola, an absurdly talented pop culture writer. We both unironically love all disaster movies, and after years of yelling about them in real life, we decided to yell about them on a podcast. Each week we cover a different movie. Our focus is never about if it’s realistic or accurate – if you tell me The Rock can drive a speedboat up a tsunami, I’m going to believe The Rock can drive a speedboat up a tsunami. We have a great time talking about the movie itself, what we think the subtext of the movie is, and how we’d recast it if we had to do a remake. It’s just really fun.
What’s the best advice you have received when it comes to writing and/or podcasting?
The best advice I’ve ever gotten about writing is “feed the machine,” from my mom. She’s a writer too. Growing up, she always emphasized how important it was as a writer to take in as much as possible because you never know how it’s going to be spit back out. As a kid, I always imagined throwing all the things I read and watch into a blender to make a very odd smoothie. But it’s definitely true, especially when you look at the WW2 Utley or Deep Thoughts tweets. They’re heavily informed by all the useless information I have knocking around my brain.
For podcasting, no one really gave me any advice. It’s something I sort of fell into, and everything I’ve learned has been through trial and error. It probably helps that I don’t have to do any of the audio engineering, as my friend Jason is our producer and professional audio tech. The one piece of advice I’d give to anyone looking to start a podcast is that if you’re going to get a cohost, make sure it’s someone you know primarily from real life. It makes a huge difference.
What’s next professionally for you?
That is a great question because I don’t know! I’ve worked in jewelry retail the last few years selling engagement rings, but with COVID, I’m not sure what’s next. If someone has any suggestions, I’m open.
Bonus Question: What are five of your favorite foods to have at a game?
- Dodger dog, obviously, with mustard, ketchup, and relish.
- I love the soft-serve, and at Camelback Ranch you can put as many sprinkles on as you want, which is the dream as far as I’m concerned.
- During games, I stress-eat either Twizzlers or Sour Patch Kids, but in an attempt to be healthy I’ve switched to jicama sticks. They give me the crunching without making me feel sick after.
- And if I can find at least one other person to share it with me, helmet nachos are the best. During Game 2 in 2017, I basically forced the stranger I was standing near to share his helmet nachos. I regret nothing.
Thank you, Amanda for taking the time to talk to me about your book, podcast and tweets!
You can find Amanda on Twitter @Amandartubbs and Instagram @AmandaLikesRocks. Her podcast can be found where you listen to podcasts and on twitter @disasterpod. You can also purchase her book, Le Renard Argenťe: Silver Fox at War on Amazon.