Sellers, John 1970-

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Sellers, John 1970-

PERSONAL:

Born 1970. Education: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, graduated, 1993; attended Michigan State University.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Brooklyn, NY. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, journalist, and critic. Writer of trivia questions for television game shows, including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Cash Cab, Stump the Schwab, Grand Slam, and the World Series of Pop Culture.

WRITINGS:

PCAT, Preparation for the Pop-Culture Aptitude Test: Rad '80s Version, Back Bay Books (Boston, MA), 1998.

Arcade Fever: The Fan's Guide to the Golden Age of Video Games, Running Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2001.

Perfect from Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life (memoir), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of the blog Angry John Sellers. Contributor to magazines and periodicals, including TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, Spy, Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Spin, Believer, React, and the New York Times. Time Out New York, former TV editor.

SIDELIGHTS:

Freelance writer, music journalist, and critic John Sellers writes frequently on topics related to popular culture, music, and entertainment. He has authored trivia questions for well-known television quiz shows, including Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Cash Cab. He combines a taste for pop culture with nostalgia in Arcade Fever: The Fan's Guide to the Golden Age of Video Games, which explores the time-wasting and quarter-eating machines of the heyday of video gaming, including Pac-Man, Galaxian, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and the venerable grandfather of them all, Pong. He looks at the history of the games, their operation, the companies that manufactured them, and the fans that played them in the malls and arcades long before the Xbox, PS2, and Wii brought high-quality video gaming into the home. Sellers also looks at the ancestor of the home-gaming systems, the Atari, with its cumbersome cartridges, blocky graphics, and unrefined game play. Throughout the book, Sellers "masterfully hits the highpoints and milestones of the video game phenomenon," commented James McGovern in a RetroBlast! review. Sellers "delivers images, memories, and trivia any arcade guru would appreciate," McGovern concluded.

Perfect from Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life is Sellers's affectionate memoir of how he cultivated his personal tastes in rock music. Sellers was "born in 1970, so his radio was ready when the ‘indie rock’ scene took off in the '80s," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. At an early age, he was confronted with his father's obsession with folk-rocker Bob Dylan, whose style of music Sellers rejected as he sought a type of music that appealed to his own aesthetic tastes. In school, Sellers gravitated to what he considered the coolest bands of the time. As he grew older, Sellers discovered the club scene and clamored to see his favorite bands in live venues. He developed a devoted attraction to iconic indie rock bands such as Sonic Youth, Joy Division, Pavement, and Guided by Voices. His collection teemed with music by these and other acts, and he began to attend more and more live shows. Among his heroes was Robert Pollard, of Guided by Voices, whom Sellers describes as a very capable drinker. At one point, the band's manager invites Sellers and a friend to sing along with the band onstage. With some regret, Sellers describes how a misunderstanding between him and Pollard led to the snuffing out of his dreams of rock stardom, or at least active participation. The author has plenty of invective in store for mainstream music, however, as he decries the manufactured nature of much standard music. He laments how many bands have been compromised by commercial success, pointing out that when acts enter the mainstream, the very qualities that made them attractive to their original fan base are excised and sanitized from their music. Sellers draws parallels between the admirable qualities of indie rock and how they apply to life in general.

"Sellers' honest wit lays out a nearly typical devotion to music," commented Maxim reviewer Tim Burke. Booklist reviewer Mike Tribby called the book "one of the best resources to date on indie rock." Throughout, Sellers "manages to maintain a distinctive voice: likable, smart, and steeped in music trivia, without being condescending," observed a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Though Sellers sometimes writes with a vehemence that borders on anger, he offers a "deliciously cynical point of view that teens will love," Tribby concluded.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Sellers, John, Perfect from Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life (memoir), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2007, Mike Tribby, review of Perfect from Now On, p. 23.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2007, review of Perfect from Now On.

Publishers Weekly, February 12, 2007, review of Perfect from Now On, p. 79.

Willamette Week (Portland, OR), November 8, 2007, Matthew Korfhage, "John Sellers's Life as a Rock-'n'-Roll Musical," review of Perfect from Now On.

ONLINE

Gawker.com,http://www.gawker.com/ (December 5, 2007), "The 5X5 Interview: John Sellers, Writer."

John Sellers Home Page,http://www.johnsellers.net (December 5, 2007).

John Sellers MySpace Profile,http://www.myspace.com/sellersjohn (December 5, 2007).

Maxim.com,http://www.maxim.com/ (December 5, 2007), Tim Burke, review of Perfect from Now On.

RetroBlast!,http://www.retroblast.com/ (August 2, 2004), James McGovern, review of Arcade Fever: The Fan's Guide to the Golden Age of Video Games.