I got to thinking the other day about people I’ve never had the chance to meet but would love to be able to talk to in person. It’s an ever-growing list of actors, writers, musicians, historic figures and more when I really thought about it. So rather than try to list every single person that could make the list, I decided to focus on 3 at random with a little rationale behind why they were picked. Hope you enjoy!
I became aware of Vincent Price as a kid, seeing some of his horror films like William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill on local TV channels on summer afternoons or late on weekends. I certainly knew his distinctive voice the moment I heard it in Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the dastardly Egg-Head in the 1960s Batman TV show, and enjoyed one of his final performances in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. It was on seeing old interviews with him where I learned about the lighter side to this amazingly complex man. Art collector, writer, eloquent gentleman, food & beverage connoisseur and more, the more you learn about Mr. Price the more you realize what a multi-faceted talent he was. In addition to all of that, there are many who cite how friendly and hard-working he was throughout his life and career. While he is no longer with us today, he’s left an amazing, diverse legacy and it would have been a true treat to meet the man behind the many legends.
Jurassic Park was an amazing book, and when I first read it in the early nineties the sci-fi adventure really blew my mind. I immediately picked-up Crichton’s numerous books, including Terminal Man, Eaters of the Dead, Travels, Sphere, Timeline, Congo, and others. What fascinated me about his work was the diversity and attention to scientific detail. You could tell that each work was thought through thoroughly, and while plenty of complex issues or concepts were at work, each had an undeniable central idea that readers could latch onto. Like Vincent Price, I saw several interviews and speeches Crichton gave and was always impressed by his thoughtful demeanor and critical analysis of the topics he discussed or wrote about. While he also was more than an author alone, and quite involved in bringing several of his stories to film, as with The Andromeda Strain, Westworld, Twister, and The 13th Warrior. I think I appreciated that he was a natural storyteller that was able to transcend different mediums to provoke thought and entertain so many people with engaging ideas. For that, I could easily spend hours picking his brain to see what his various influences were and how he navigated the many challenges that undoubtedly needed to be overcome while still keeping his visions in tact.
I first became aware of Ben Folds’ music in high school with Ben Folds Five’s hit single “Brick”. The small group’s album Whatever and Ever Amen is chock-full of catchy songs with great lyrics. Since that time, I’ve seen Ben Folds in concert on several occasions and have enjoyed his work with the full band (both old and new members) as well as a solo artist. While he has undoubtedly achieved mainstream success, I’ll always remember the period of Fear of Pop and Rockin’ the Suburbs where, for many, Folds was sort of under-the-radar cult favorite. For our first dance on our wedding day, my wife and I (along with probably hundreds of others now!) danced to the amazingly heartfelt song “The Luckiest”. More than just all flash and no substance, Ben Folds can elicit head banging, uncontrollable laughter, and genuine tears of joy and sadness in a single album. To see his support for up-and-coming musicians, an appreciation for his fans, and the continuation of music appreciation in all it’s forms is great over the years. I can’t imagine Folds would be anything less than a character to talk to in person, and yet he has an undeniable drive that allows him to not only be prolific, but also dynamic and nuanced in his ever-growing catalogue. I’ve already heard many tales about the inspirations behind his songs, but it would be a rare opportunity to be able to have a back-and-forth discussion about his career and process.