The 10-Not-So-Famous-People Meme, Part II

30 01 2007

Curtain Call
A few months ago, I concocted this meme, and I even convinced a handful of people to participate. I keep thinking of not-so-famous people I’d like to meet, though, so I’m having another go at it.

To refresh your memory, 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.) John Anderson — John Anderson first caught my eye when he was the weekend sports anchor for KOTV, one of Tulsa’s local TV stations. He was smart, brash, witty, refreshingly sarcastic, and he had incredible TV hair. I mean, really, the hair was just amazing! It was thick and fairly longish, and Anderson pushed it straight up. He had memorable hair. I lost track of Anderson, and his hair, when he left Tulsa, apparently for a Phoenix station. Sometime in the late 1990s, though, I was happily surprised to see him on ESPNEWS. Now he’s one of the hosts of ESPN’s flagship, SportsCenter. Anderson’s hair is less impressive now (whose isn’t?), but he’s still just as smart and funny. And, refreshingly, he delivers the news with just enough bite to keep you wondering.

2.) Erik Balkey — I’ve written previously about Balkey, one of my favorite folksingers, and the crush I have on him. I’ve seen him in concert, he’s walked right by me afterward, I’ve repeatedly been been within six feet of him—and, yet, I’ve never even said hello or shaken his hand. Am I crazy shy or what? Anyway, it’d be fun to talk to Balkey about his music, his house-painting (to pay the bills), being on the road forever, and, well, my crush.

3.) Tony Carrillo — Carrillo is the cartoonist behind F Minus, the quirky, entertaining comic strip that recently hit the “big time” when United Features Syndicate began, um, syndicating it. F Minus is one of the strips—like Bizarro, The Quigmans, The Far Side—with an off-kilter, often slightly surreal point of view. In F Minus, bears drive, physicians compete at speed-surgery, and bad street musicians solicit contributions to quit playing. There’s so much junk on most newspapers’ comics pages these days. F Minus is worth two dozen Sally Forths or For Better or for Worses.

4.) Bill Daily — I’ve been watching the first four seasons of The Bob Newhart Show on DVD. When I was a kid, nothing made me laugh like CBS’s Saturday night line-up—The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. (And earlier in the evening, CBS aired All in the Family and M*A*S*H. What an incredible set of shows!) While watching TBNS again, I’ve realized what an impact the show had on me. Newhart’s character, psychologist Bob Hartley, always struck me as the quintessential rational adult, composed even when nuttiness occurs all around. I think I sort of wanted to be him; I wanted to move to the big city, have a smart career, and be the voice of reason in a network of friends. I’d love to meet Bob Newhart himself, of course, but he wouldn’t qualify as not-so-famous….so I’m going to go with Daily, who brilliantly played the Hartleys’ quirky neighbor, Howard Borden. Borden was an airplane navigator (later pilot), who was always dropping in, unannounced, on the Hartleys. He conveyed a sort of humane neediness that was altogether charming. Daily also played Major Roger Healey, on I Dream of Jeannie—a show, ahem, that was a little before my time.

5.) Robert Drake — Drake is my favorite Philly DJ, probably because he’s a fan and proponent of New Wave music. (I’m such a child of the early 1980s.) Once a month, the local alternative public radio station, WXPN, gives Drake four hours to play New Wave music on a show atply titled Land of the Lost. And best of all, Drake doesn’t play the obvious choices; I’m always really surprised by his choices. Want proof? Check out the Land of the Lost archives here. Drake also hosts and produces Q’Zine, Philly’s flagship radio program for the GLBT community.

6.) Margo Howard — Howard is Ann Landers’s daughter, and she’s an excellent advice columnist in her own right. I started reading Howard when she served as Slate‘s Dear Prudence. The current Prudence, Emily Yoffe, is horrible—she’s one of those advice columnists whose normal schtick, say in 90% of the cases, is to blame the advice-seeker for even needing help. (Other irritating advice columnists in this blame-the-victim vein include Carolyn Hax and Amy Dickinson.) That’s sometimes what a good advice columnist will do, but sometimes, maybe even often, the advice-seeker is better served with some good, objective judgment—not with stinging criticism. Best of all, Howard’s judgment is modern and sound. She understands that humans are sexual, flawed, and all-too-needy. If I needed advice, I’d want it from someone like Howard.

7.) Ruth Prawer Jhabvala — Jhabvala is a Booker Prize-winning novelist (in 1975, for Heat and Dust) who is probably better known for the screenplays she wrote for filmmakers Ismail Merchant and James Ivory. She won the Academy Award for two of those Merchant-Ivory screenplays, A Room with a View and Howards End—both, of course, adapatations of E.M. Forster novels. A Room with a View is one of my absolute favorite novels, and Jhabvala’s adaptation is exquisite. The story of the love affair between George and Lucy, including Lucy’s escape from a life dominated by convention (there was a similar theme in Heat and Dust, by the way), is somehow almost sharper in Jhabvala’s telling. It’s a brilliant screenplay. Jhabvala, by the way, has also lived a fascinating life. A German Jew, she fled to England as a child. She married an Indian man, and they moved to New Delhi. And, of course, she’s had an enormously successful career. Wouldn’t it be great to meet her?

8.) Linda Johnson — Johnson, the “first lady of poker,” is probably better known these days for being a tournament director. Most notably, she’s often seen at World Poker Tour events, keeping the live audience informed and making sure that everything’s, well, according to Hoyle. But I saw her play last year on a GSN poker series, and she was just delightful. One thing she said stuck with me. Every time she plays, she said, she has three goals: To make money, to have fun, and to make sure her competitors have fun, too. (She says something similar in this Card Player Magazine piece.) What a great attitude. She’s also well-known for working to combat player-on-player abuse in poker rooms. And having been in the poker business for years, I’m sure she has a lot of stories to tell—including how she won a World Series of Poker bracelet in Razz, a game that fascinates me.

9.) John Scalzi — Scalzi wrote my favorite book of 2006, the sci-fi thriller The Android’s Dream. TAD begins with an interstellar scandal initiated by a diplomat’s fart (really), a plot point that caused me to discount the book initially. (I have nothing against farting, I swear. I just thought the farting gambit was a bit too gimmicky.) I was wrong. The rest of TAD—which exposes the reader to a self-consciously ironic religious sect, authenticist butcher shops in a post-Meat Age, and a xenophobic planet with a strange interest in a particular breed of Earth sheep—is engrossing. I took TAD home with me to Oklahoma over Christmas, and I absolutely couldn’t stop reading it. One way Scalzi lured me in was by placing a sympathetic figure (and eventually more) on the side of the “bad guys.” For me, the only false note in the book involved a gay relationship, or, rather, how one of the gay men acts after a certain eventuality becomes obvious. Highly recommended, anyway. Scalzi also writes two blogs, Whatever and By the Way (hey, an AOL blog is so retro for a sci-fi author), and he seems like a genuinely good guy.

10.) L. Jon Wertheim — Wertheim, of Sports Illustrated, is the best tennis writer of our time. His Tennis Mailbag column for is always one of the highlights of my week. It’s smart, shrewd, and funny. Wertheim stresses that the not-always-so-serious Mailbag is a small part of what he does at SI. Maybe he’s a little embarrassed by it? “You fear that your reputation as a journalist might be compromised when you’re known more for your snarky, stream-of-consciousness on-line column, than for the books and magazine pieces, etc. in which you’re much more professionally invested,” he’s said. But for a tennis geek like me, it’s a real treasure to have a place to remember journeyman John van Lottum, to discuss why the American Davis Cup team is always so disappointing, or to debate whether Tomas Berdych’s height is one of the reasons he’s been so startlingly successful against Rafael Nadal. (You’re yawning now, aren’t you?) Anyway, Wertheim is so clever and knowledgeable—about any number of things—that he’d definitely be fun to meet. By the way, if you haven’t checked out his more serious writing, I highly recommend Transition Game: How Hoosiers Went Hip-Hop (see, he’s more than just tennis) and Venus Envy: A Sensational Season Inside the Women’s Tennis Tour.


I’m planning a visit to San Diego. Maybe.

27 01 2007

California Globe
I’ve never been to San Diego, but I’m thinking about visiting for the Museum of Contemporary Art‘s upcoming Morris Louis exhibit, which runs from February 17 through May 6. If I make the trip, it’ll probably for a long-ish weekend. What else should I think about doing while I’m there? I’m open as to the timing of the visit. Is there some reason I should travel in February or March or April? Any and all advice would be much appreciated.

I intended, by the way, to catch the Morris Louis exhibition while it was at Atlanta’s High Museum, but the timing—in and around the holidays—wasn’t right for me. Getting to Atlanta from Philly for a long weekend would certainly have been a much easier production, but maybe sunny San Diego is what I need, anyway. If I don’t catch the exhibit in San Diego, I’ll have to wait until September, when the exhibition moves to D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum. The Hirshhorn is my favorite museum on the planet (sorry, MoMA, you’re just too crowded), but I can visit D.C. anytime I want….

New York Rangers 2, Philadelphia Flyers 1

27 01 2007

I was there.

You could make a pretty compelling argument that the Flyers are the worst team in the NHL right now, but I’m a diehard fan. I had the ticket, and I was going to go.

And it was a pretty exciting game. The Flyers’ only goal came on on a delayed penalty call—so delayed that the Flyers had time to pull their goalie to add a man on offense. (For the hockey-impaired among you, that’s a safe thing to do because the penalty on the Rangers would go into effect as soon as a Ranger took possession of the puck.) Peter Forsberg passed the puck to Mike Knuble, who was advancing on the net. Knuble, in turn, sent the puck to Joni Pitkanen, who was right in front of the crease. Goal! A real beauty, too. The game was tied.

The other highlight of the game also occurred in the second period. Flyer Ben Eager checked Ranger Jason Krog so hard that Krog went over the boards and into the Flyers bench. Krog got his revenge, though, scoring the winning goal in the third period.

As I said, it was an exciting game, but I’m afraid there was quite a bit of luck in that. The Flyers certainly don’t look good. One of their power plays was so badly disorganized that the fans were howling. (Philly fans aren’t shy, of course.) And the Rangers outshot the Flyers considerably, 35-18. Flyers goalie Robert Esche rarely had time to breathe; the action, it seemed, was almost always just a few feet away from him. Esche played awfully well, but it takes more than a good, on-form goalie to make a team….

One random comment about the game: When each and every fan is bundled up for winter, there’s just not a helluva lot of room in a seat. One of my neighbors’ puffy, downy coats seemed to have just as much of my seat as I did. I yearned to breathe free.

Yes, cheese can also be tasted.

27 01 2007

Cheese Wheels
I’m not sure why I was so quiet this week. My mind was just sort of, um, blank….

Last night, to break up the montony, I attended a cheese-tasting at Tria Cafe’s Fermentation School. Yes, cheese—not beer. Radical departure for me, huh? The class was led by Sasha Davies, whose Cheese By Hand project had her traveling across the country in 2006 to meet all kinds of cheesemakers. What a great gig.

Davies brought six cheeses to taste; there were goat cheeses, a sheep cheese (according to my notes, I thought it was “maybe too sheep-y”), and good old-fashioned cow cheeses. My favorite of the batch was Rogue Creamery‘s Rogue River Blue Cheese. As nearly always, I went for the flavor that was the most pronounced…. And I’m just defenseless, anyway, when it comes to a good blue cheese.

Tria paired the cheeses with a delicious white wine, Oregon’s Sokol Blosser Winery’s Evolution—which is somehow made from nine different varietals. (Tria also provided a Loire Valley red wine, but I have nothing good to say about it. It had me thinking of animal sweat.) I need to keep Evolution in mind for my next visit to the wine store. I don’t usually shop for Oregon wines, but I’ve obviously been missing out on something good.

Question of the Day: [this is so good]

21 01 2007

I’m smitten with this Belgian raspberry Lambic beer. To my palate, Lindemans Framboise is more raspberry than beery. And while I’d usually regard that kind of thing as a failing, I just can’t help myself. I love the raspberry smell and flavor, and the pleasantly sour afternotes keep the beer from seeming too sweet.

Question of the Day: Send For Help! Or Not…

20 01 2007

You’re trapped in a (temporarily) out-of-order elevator – who would you like to be trapped with?
Submitted by

Well, when I first read this QOTD, I was at work…so I started thinking about being trapped with the tall, nerdy guy who I wanted to find last month under the mistletoe. It’d be easier to get to the mistletoe part if I had some excellent reason to get to know him—or, rather, if he had some excellent reason to get to know me. And if I had, say, three or four hours alone with him in an elevator, he’d get to see how smart, funny, and adorable I am. Yes, it usually takes that long. Or even longer. Much longer. But I don’t think we should risk turning the elevator into a modern-age Donner Party….

Who else would make a good stuck-in-the-elevator buddy? Poker pro Erick Lindgren might be fun, especially if he brought a deck of cards (and wasn’t looking to make much money off me). Margo Howard, Ann Landers’s daughter and my favorite advice columnist, might be kind enough to give me some advice about my tepid (i.e., nonexistent) love life. And Joe Sixpack, Philly’s favorite beer journalist (yes, really), might even have a brew or two in his briefcase.

Who wouldn’t be fun in a broken elevator? I’d absolutely hate to be trapped in an elevator with an a cappella group. What, you think that’s a weird answer? Well, it springs to mind because I just listened to an all-a cappella episode of Coverville, the cool podcast devoted to cover songs. These are my least favorite Coverville shows, mostly, I think, because I listen with earbuds on the train. No matter how low I set the volume, I feel like the a cappella group, and its persistent harmonies, are all over me and just won’t give me any space. During the entire show, I kept thinking, “Well, this must be what it’d be like to be stuck in an elevator with a novelty act.” And then I came home and read this QOTD….

Yeah, I’m a weirdo.

What State Am I?

20 01 2007

You’re New Hampshire!

You’re obsessed with independence, and may even be a libertarian. For you, freedom means doing whatever you like without worrying about the petty concerns of others. You’re a big fan of throwing out slogans that threaten those who might infringe on your freedom. And yes, everything is set in stone for you. You built your house on the granite. Sadly, your greatest material inspiration recently fell down and can never be rebuilt.

Take the State Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

(Quiz via Patty)