Despite my recent experience, I doubt I have enough influence in Blogistan to generate a meme that really catches on, so this will probably end up being just for me. Still, this sounds like fun. Here are the rules.
- Select 10 not-so-famous people that you’d like to meet.
- Give a brief, or not-so-brief, explanation as to each. Why would you like to meet Mr. X? What, if anything, would you say to Ms. Y?
- All 10 must be living and cannot be so famous that an average person would have heard of them. It’s ok if a pick is well-known in a particular circle, so long as most people don’t follow that particular endeavor closely enough to recognize the name. (As a lawyer might say, it’s ok if the persons are limited-purpose public figures.)
- The idea is to compile a list that’s mostly about you and your interests. The list should not simply be a reflection of who’s currently popular.
1.) Chris Moneymaker — Moneymaker came out of nowhere to win the 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP), the most prestigious poker tournament of ’em all. Moneymaker wasn’t a professional poker player; he was an accountant from Tennessee who won his entry in an online event. ESPN’s high-quality coverage of the upset by this underdog of underdogs is really what precipitated the current poker craze. All that’s interesting enough to make me want to meet Moneymaker, but there’s even more. After his WSOP win, Moneymaker turned pro, and I’m fascinated by what motivates someone who, well, nearly started at the top. Is he obsessed with proving his win was no fluke? Plus, let’s face it: Moneymaker is as cute as they come. I have an enormous (poker?) crush on him.
2.) Clinton Kelly – Kelly is one of the fashion stylists on TLC’s What Not To Wear, the show that rescues fashion disasters. Kelly and co-host Stacy London seem to be having so much fun that I can’t help but want to join them. Kelly, in particular, seems smart, mischievous, and, well, stylish. I’d like to think that I’m not a candidate for an all-out WNTW makeover, but wouldn’t it be fun to go shopping with someone like Clinton Kelly? Answer: Yes.
3.) Joan Hess – I’ve mentioned her before here, but Hess writes two comic mystery series that I love. One is the Maggody series, which features an over-the-top cast of characters from a town in the Arkansas Ozarks. The other is her Claire Malloy series, about a bookseller in an Arkansas college town (a stand-in for Fayetteville, Ark.). Hess’s novels make me laugh more than just about anything else, and I bet she’s fun in, um, real life, too.
4.) Handy Andy Kane – Handy Andy, as you may know, is the lovable carpenter on the recently departed Changing Rooms (which, for the BBC America-deprived among you, was the British equivalent of Trading Spaces). He was often the voice of reason on Rooms, telling the designers when their schemes were, well, daft. He came across as both cheeky and kind all at the same time. Is that an adorable combination or what?
5.) Mary Carillo – Carillo is, by far, the best tennis commentator on American television. She’s smart, she’s authoritative-sounding, and she’s witty. Not only is Carillo knowledgeable about tennis, but she has interesting things to say about, um, real life. And, yes, I’m thinking of things like Carillo’s excellent piece on living life like a clay-courter.
6.) J.M. Branum – I knew I wanted to include a blogger on my list, but I couldn’t decide which one. As I thought about it, though, the answer became clear. Branum is an Oklahoma blogger who recently completed a law degree. To pay the bills, he “drives” a pedicab in Oklahoma City. He’s a lay Mennonite minister. And he’s politically active in a state that doesn’t seem to share his values. That’s all quite a combo.
7.) Richard Shindell – Richard Shindell is one of my favorite folk singers. He first came to my attention, I guess, when he sang with Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky as part of the folk supergroup Cry, Cry, Cry. I quickly became a fan of Shindell’s solo work, and I’ve seen him in concert several times. I’m a fan of his storytelling, particularly his ability to sing a song from so such different points of view. Two of my favorite Richard Shindell songs are “The Next Best Western,” sung from the point of view of a weary highway traveler, and “The Ballad of Mary Magdalen.” Here’s a snippet from the lyrics of the latter:
My name is Mary Magdalen
I come from Palestine
Please excuse these rags I’m in
But I’ve fallen on hard times
But long ago I had my work
When I was in my prime
But I gave it up, and all for love
It was his career or mine
Brilliant stuff. Shindell moved to Argentina two or three years ago, but he still manages to tour in the States. In fact, I’m seeing him in November (wanna come?), and I can’t wait.
8.) Georg Hackl – Hackl is the greatest luger of all time. Yes, really. Since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in the Olympics and—strangely, I know, for a kid from Oklahoma—especially in the Winter Olympics. So I’ve been following sports like luge, bobsledding, biathlon, and curling for a long time. And Hackl dominated his sport like no other. After winning the silver medal at the 1988 Calgary Games, he won three consecutive gold medals—in Albertville, Lillehammer, and Nagano. Although he was well into his 30s, Hackl won silver in 2002 in Salt Lake City. And earlier this year, when he was past 40 and injured, Hackl competed in his sixth Olympic Games, finishing a respectable seventh. I’m interested in his devotion to the sport and, these days, in how he’s coping with retirement in middle age. Unfortunately, I doubt I remember enough German from high school to have a productive conversation….
9.) John Sherba – I’m sure you’ve heard of the Kronos Quartet—the brilliant string quartet that’s famous for its boundary-pushing repertoire. I’m a big fan. When Kronos is profiled, though, the writer always introduces the reader to David Harrington, Kronos’s founder and first violinist. In fact, after many years of following Kronos, I still don’t feel like I know Sherba, the quartet’s other violinist. When I’ve seen Kronos in concert, Sherba seemed witty and interested. I’d like to find out if that’s true.
10.) Stephan Pastis – Do you know Pearls Before Swine, the comic strip? I hope so. There’s so much, er, swill on the comics page anymore that it’s barely worth a visit anymore. (Will someone please get Sally Forth’s husband a good divorce attorney? Please?) Pastis’s Pearls makes the comics page relevant again. I appreciate the daily dose of irreverence, as the foul-tempered Rat frequently gives the business to his “friend,” the sweet, innocent Pig. Pastis himself is interesting in several respects; for one thing, he left a law practice to produce Pearls. But what really makes me want to meet him is his willingness to take jabs at other comic strips. When he drew the Family Circus family unknowingly giving shelter to Osama bin Laden, well, that was just pure genius. And Pastis has skewered other worthy targets, including (ugh) Cathy and (ewww) Garfield. Pastis is really satirizing the comics page itself, and, gosh, that’s a worthy target these days.