Setting: Hole in the wall coffee shop where they don’t care who you are as long as you have $5-$10 to slap down on the counter for the best damned plate of food you’ve ever had. It’s quiet, but not too quiet, busy but not too busy, and luck of all luck – you get to sit across the table from someone you’ve always wanted to chew the fat with, so to speak.
This is the scenario, and the following is my list. 12 people I’ve always wanted to chat with because I think they would be perfect dinner companions. All real people, living – no characters from books or movies or any of that. Real people and why.
His show, ‘Good Eats’, has always been a favorite of mine on the Food Network but that’s not all he does, oh no. His ‘Asphalt’ specials have been fantastic – just him and a crew of guys, riding motorcycles (or sailing in the last one) up the highways of America, seeking out the best food and sharing the adventure with us. Plus he’s the commentator and manservant/whatever to the Chairman on Iron Chef America (I’m not really sure how that relationship works. Weird). AND, he gets to usher in the next generation of Iron Chef’s, putting them through their paces, challenging them to excel – who better for the job then Alton?!
I get the feeling that, of all the chef brains in the world that I could pick, his would be the most fun. Sitting across the table from him and chatting for an hour would be absolutely fantastic, so he gets to be #1 on this list.
Who would’ve thunk it? America creates its very own form of music, The Blues, and it takes young, rebelious British guys with long hair and wicked guitar chops to bring it back and shove it in our face?! Clapton was at the forefront of that revolution. When I think of blues, I think of him. When he thinks of blues, he thinks of Robert Johnson. How fantastic would it be to sit across a table from him for an hour and just talk about music?
If it’s possible to learn through osmosis, this is the guy to learn from.
3. Shigeru Miyamoto. This one may throw you unless you are ‘in the know’. Shigeru Miyamoto is the guy who created (or helped create) the video game industry as we know it through such characters as: Mario, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda and, more recently, Wii Music. The guy is a genius when it comes to tapping into that thing, that intangible element in all of us that makes us smile and gets us revved up and interested.
When you look at the game titles under his belt, you think ‘fun’. This is the guy who created Mario. Zelda. Those two titles alone have equated to hundreds of hours of absolute fun in the gaming world. What is it about this guy that he can tap into that area of our brains so frequently? What does he think we’ll be playing in the future? What does he have planned? …can he get me some stock options?
4 & 5. Steve Jobs & Bill Gates. Arguably two of the most influential guys of the last 25 years, who wouldn’t want to invite both to the same dinner and then say, “Ooops!” when they show up and see each other?!
Imagine having them both sitting across from you for a casual conversation about what really went on back in the day when Microsoft was running DOS, Apple had Mac and then, suddenly, there’s this thing that looks awfully familiar that MS is calling ‘Windows’…
What’s in the works right now and what’s coming down the pipe? From both of them? How about ripping Billy boy a new one over Windows Vista? Or calling Steve out on the crappy decision to go exclusive with AT&T when they obviously can’t handle the traffic?
6. Duff Goldman. Who is this, you ask? FOR SHAME! if Alton Brown is the ‘smartest chef around’, then Duff is probably the most like you and I with a laugh that is infectious and sense of humor that can’t be matched.
Duff is the force behind Charm City Cakes (and the Food Network show called ‘Ace of Cakes’). His irreverent style and off the wall creativity sucked me into a show about people making cakes. I never, in a thousand thousand years, would’ve EVER thought that I would be addicted to a show about people making cakes, but I can’t look away. The amazing things that Duff and his crew create, week after week, just blows my mind.
Personally, Duff seems like the kind of guy you would absolutely want to sit down and eat a messy chili-dog with and bs about just about anything. You would probably be sore for days afterward just from the laughing.
7 & 8. The Ghost Hunters, Jason and Grant. They seem like decent enough guys. Plumbers by day, Ghost Hunters by night, Jason and Grant lead the team on the night visiony filled show on the channel formerly known as SciFi.
I don’t know that I believe in any of it. Most of the time, I watch because it’s entertaining, not necessarily compelling. The ‘evidence’ can be sketchy at best, and usually there’s very little of it. I struggle to hear whatever it is that has them pausing, head titled, “Did you hear that?” “NO!” I shout at the tv. “I DIDN’T!” *turn it up, rewind* ‘I STILL DON’T HEAR IT!”
But having the two of them across the table from me, I’d like to nudge em and say, “Come on. How much of it is really fake?” and point out the live show here at the place up in Estes (The Stanley Hotel) when Grant had his hand in his pocket and there was this tugging on his coat. Over and Over. And not once did his hand leave his pocket. Coincidence?! I don’t think so. More likely, it was some sort of rigged up line running through the coat.
IF SOMEONE OR SOMETHING PULLS ON YOUR COLLAR HARD ENOUGH TO STOP YOU, YOUR FREAKING HAND COMES OUT OF YOUR POCKET, GRANT – OH YES, IT COMES OUT OF YOUR POCKET!!!
9. Charles Thomas Bolton. I have questions. Deep, deep, questions, about space, about black holes, about the fabric of the universe. Who better to ask than a leading Astronomer or Astrophysicist? Bolton was the first to present eveidence as to the existence of Black Holes, so he’s the one I’d love to have sitting across from me at that table.
10. Joss Whedon. What list of mine would be complete without Joss Whedon on it?
When it comes to my own sense of humor, I’ve often said that you need to take a heavy dose of Monty Python, sprinkle in a little Douglas Adams, a little Laugh-In, maybe some Saturday Night Live (the Belushi/Aykroyd years) and toss in some Second City for good measure, and you will -get- me.
I think Joss would -get- me. To say that he is witty and clever doesn’t do him justice. I won’t say that I have loved everything he has done through the years, but I have loved most of it. To be able to sit across from him and pick his brain would be a fantastic opportunity.
11. Stan Lee. If there is a ‘father’ of modern comics, Lee fits the bill. He was there when most of the modern Marvel world was created; spider-Man, Iron Man, The fantastic Four, X-Men, Hulk, Daredevil, Dcotor Strange – the list goes on and on.
He always seems so exuberant, so full of life. What stories could this man tell? What insights? Just as Shigeru Miyamoto has tapped into the center of fun for so many of us, time and time again, Lee has done the same, creating or co-creating (with Jack Kirby), iconic characters who resonate with us on so many levels. Who wouldn’t want a chance to learn from the master?
12. J.K. Rowling. I realized after compiling this list, that it was a bunch of guys. What the hell? I suppose I could go back through it and change out some people, but that would be dishonest on my part – these were my first choices across the board, so for number 12, I needed to pick a lady (even though that is by no means a balance, 1 v 11. 11 guys are -always- outnumbered by 1 strong lady).
I wanted an author on the list, someone who knew what they were doing, who wrote expansive, rich worlds and did so very well. A few names floated to the top of my list and once I filtered out the guys, I was left with J.V. Jones, Kate Elliot, Kristen Britain and, of course, J.K. Rowling.
Few have had the impact that Rowling has had on the publishing industry in the past 10 years. Her Harry Potter books were detailed and rich, without feeling detailed and rich. They were well paced and appealed across age groups, bringing families together to read again – no small feat. And no small amount of pressure on her to deliver something similar in popularity again.
I think I’d like to sit across the table from her and not pester her with a ton of questions. Just let her relax for an hour, no pressure to talk about her stuff, or whatever she plans for a followup. Just introduce her to an American coffee shop and shoot the breeze. See where the conversation takes us.