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- The Most Famous Person I've Ever Met
From a Plinky prompt: "Who's the most famous person you've ever met?"
Who is the most famous person I've ever met? Well, it depends on what your definition of "is" is.
Actually, no, wait, it depends on what your definition of "met" is.
Back in the fall of 1992, about a week before the presidential election, Bill Clinton was winding down his campaigning with a visit to Jackson, Miss. I was a student at Ole Miss at the time, and a group of us decided to drive down to Jackson to hear him speak.
After he spoke, we pressed down to the front of the crowd to try to get to meet him. There was a short fence that separated Clinton from the crowd, and he was walking along it, shaking hands with a few people, skipping a few people, shaking hands with a few people, and so on.
I made my way against the fence, and Bill worked his way toward me, shaking hands with people as he came. He shook hands with the person next to me, looked at me, and then skipped down a little ways and started shaking hands again.
I generally just summarize that story as "One time, Bill Clinton refused to shake my hand."
So, does that count as meeting? If so, then Clinton definitely wins the most famous person for me.
If not, then it gets a bit more complicated.
I've actually had conversations with famous people in a number of different areas, but how do you determine which of them is the most famous?
Probably the most historical person I've met is astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon. I spoke with him briefly in person at a space symposium back in 2004, and then had a longer conversation on the phone with him a little later about the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing.
In the acting arena, James Earl Jones is probably the most famous actor I've had a conversation with. Back in college, several years before Star Wars: Episode I started filming, I asked him, and I'm sure he loved getting this question, what he knew about the rumored prequels. He told me they were going to happen, and that he would be in it at the very end. So there you go.
Musically, it's got to be B.B. King. B.B. consider his hometown to be Indianola, Miss., where I worked for the newspaper for five year, so I saw him several times when he came into town for his annual homecoming concert. I got to ask him a few questions for the paper and talk with him a little. He considered my editor, Jim Abbott, a friend, so I got to be around while they talked, too. B.B. is an amazing man, friendly and incredibly down-to-Earth. Just a super, super nice guy.
In the field of writing, John Grisham, right around the time the movie "The Firm" came out, when he was really probably at the height of his popularity, took a six-month or so sabbatical from interviews. When the Sunday "Parade" magazine (or possibly USA Weekend, I forget which) wanted an interview with him during that time, he agreed, but with the stipulation that he would interview himself rather than talk to someone else. To the best of my knowledge, he granted only one interview during that time -- to me. I was working at the college paper at the time, and he was in town for a private screening of The Firm, which I'd been invited to. I told him I knew he wasn't doing interviews, but would he be willing to let me ask just one question. He said he'd never met a reporter that could ask just one question, but if I could, he'd answer it and I could use it. I did, and he did.
So with all of those possibilities, how do you determine who the most famous person I've ever met is?
Oh, yeah, Google.
Google "James Earl Jones," and you get just over 4 million results.
"John Grisham" gets you over 9 million.
Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, a participant in probably the greatest human achievement of the 20th century, nets about half a million.
And B.B. King? Indianola's favorite son gets almost 27 million results, making him the most famous person I've ever met.
Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
- Radio Song
(From a Plinky.com prompt: "Do you ever listen to the radio anymore?"
Ah, radio. My old friend. We do have our moments, don't we?
I tend to go through phases with radio. At times, I listen relatively frequently. Other times, I don't listen at all.
My relationship with radio at this point is centered entirely around my car. I do not remember the last time I turned on the radio in my house. If the radio's on, I'm driving. That's all there is to it.
But even then, it varies from time to time. For the longest time, I had two or three radio stations that I listened to regularly. If I was in the mood for country or contemporary Christian, I was probably listening to the radio. If I wasn't, I wasn't.
In cars past, a lot of my driving time was spent listening to the iPod. My current car, unfortunately, was made in an unfortunate point for iPod-listening -- too new to have a tape deck for an adapter, too old to have an audio input line to hook up to. I can listen to my iPod, but I have to do so through a radio transmitter, and that requires enough set-up time to be a commitment.
Which means, in this car, the choices are radio or CD, and that gets into a mood thing. The CDs are a known quantity. If I'm in the mood for one, I listen to it. If I'm not, I don't.
The latest development in my love/apathy relationship with radio is the launch of Journey 93.3.
Back when I was in high school, 93.3 was one of the two leading rock/pop stations, and I listened to it frequently. Then it became the Possum, and at the time I had no interest in country, so it dropped off the dial as far as I was concerned. By a few years ago, it had changed a time or two since, and was a different country station, the Wolf. I was listening to country then, so I listened to 93.3.
And then, one day, I turned on the radio, and they were playing songs that had no place on the Wolf. The first one I thought was a fluke, but after the third one, I realized 93.3 had changed formats yet again.
Now, it's what once would have been called a classic rock or oldies station, playing stuff that's 10-30 years old.
Meaning that 93.3 is once again playing a lot of the same music it did when I was in high school. And, embracing the fact that I'm apparently officially old, I'm listening to it now just as happily as I did then.
- I Had A Dream
From a Plinky prompt: "Have you ever had a recurring dream?"
My longest ongoing recurring dream started not long after I began my current job.
Prior to that, I worked in newspapers.
I assumed I always would.
For me, being a newspaperman wasn't so much what I did as it was who I was. I had the proverbial ink the veins, and, all too often, the literal ink on the hands.
Leaving newspapers to come to work for NASA was a big deal. I wanted the new job, and was excited about it, but the move involved some loss of identity. It would be cool, but involved giving up a little bit of myself.
But I did it. And was glad I did.
Not long after I started the new job, the dreams started.
In the dream, I realized that I had made a mistake. A terrible mistake.
I was a newspaperman. I wasn't supposed to be working for NASA. I was supposed to be working for a newspaper.
So I went back to work for a newspaper.
In the dream, I would go back to Indianola, and resume working at the newspaper there.
That part was pretty much the same every time I had the dream.
There was a little bit of difference in the next part.
I would realize that I had made a horrible mistake. I would realize that I wanted out. I would realize that I had romanticized newspapers, and that NASA really was much better.
The difference in this part was how long it took. Sometimes I made this realization the next day after I went back to the newspaper. Other times, I didn't last that long.
Fortunately, in the dream, almost invariably, I never, technically, quit my job at NASA. I had just gone back to the newspaper without letting anyone know.
So, thankfully, I was always able to just go back to work the next day as if I'd been sick or something the day before and pick up where I left off with no one the wiser.
The dream was a good thing for me.
Leaving newspapers really was hard. And I really did have second thoughts some times. The dream let me live out those reservations without having to actually live out those reservations. It gave me a picture of the "what if…" scenario of going back that rang pretty true.
I was happier at NASA. And my rational mind knew that. But it was good for my heart to be able to experience that as well.
Newspapers were a very important part of my life, and I'll always have fond feelings of that part of my past.
But that doesn't mean that the present isn't much better.
- How to Spend $1000 in an Hour
From the Plinky prompt: "Here's $1000. Spend it in the next hour or lose it. No online shopping allowed."
Ah, the old "Brewster's Millions" conundrum, rescaled for the current economy, huh?
There's an Apple store five minutes from where I work. The high-end iPad would take care of almost all of it. A good cover and some peripherals would take care of the rest.
- How I'm Liking 2011 So Far
From a Plinky prompt: How's your 2011 going so far?
OK, it's not the whole year, but I posted this on my blog Friday, with a pretty decent partial answer:
Things I’ve done in the past two weeks:
• Sent the manuscript for my second book to the publisher.
• Lost 10 pounds.
• Bought “tickets” to go skydiving.
• Seen my favorite singer in concert, and been recognized by her and her manager and producer.
• Received a certificate as a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors.
• Started planning a reunion of my best friends from college this summer.
• Taught a five-year-old how the space shuttle works.