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    • Have you met Neil deGrasse Tyson? Or a famous movie star? Or a person like Greta Thunberg?

      Or maybe someone who is famous in your country?

      Or perhaps someone who is famous among people who share an interest of yours?

      Did you freak out during the conversation or was it a natural chat over beers? Was there a question you wished you had asked but didn’t?

      Tell me about it.

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      Note: If this is your first time as a Sunday Panelist, I have a couple requests.

      One, that your first panel response be in paragraphs, not sentences: some people will put in over an hour crafting their response, so please put forth your best effort.

      Two, that you will create a new conversation if  an off-topic thought needs to be expressed.

      Sound reasonable?

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      If you’ve got a great story to share and need an invite, please react to this post with a 🚀 and I will then send your invitation asap.

    • I've had a couple of near or small interactions with various degrees of famous people.

      In the mid 90's I worked as a motorcycle courier in London and picked up and delivered to all sorts of famous companies and people.

      One day I had to deliver to Virgin Records as as I was trying to go in the front door Richard Branson was trying to come out and we collided on different sides of the same door.

      I also delivered a swatch of curtain fabrics to Princess Diana. I didn't get to meet her but did get to go inside Kensington Palace were she lived. The security control I had to go through to get in was very interesting with officers appearing and disappearing behind me at various points as I was guided in and handed from one guard to another, all the while I was only allowed to look straight ahead until I got inside, then I got grilled at length about the package.

      In the early 2000's I was living in Dublin, Ireland, but spent a lot of time in London with friends. I went to a Metallica concert at Earls Court in London and ended up standing next to Queen guitarist Brian May until the Metallica roadies spotted him and took him backstage. Brian is a very tall man, head and shoulders above me, and was wearing a purple suit.

      In Bulgaria last year we stayed at Motocamp Bulgaria and I was lucky enough to meet Doug Wothke (RTWDoug) as he was traveling Europe as part of his WWII 50th anniversary European Trip. Doug is every bit the gentleman he had been made out to be online and it was a pleasure to spend even a small amount of time with him.

      While in Edinburgh, Scotland earlier this year I met the Guinness World Record holder for Most Pierced Woman in the World. She was running a market stall promoting herself. I didn't know who she was until I walked away and saw her stall sign. All I knew was that she had lots of piercings and I was looking to replace an ear ring I had lost earlier that week.

    • Hi Stephen, always such interesting topics. What about you? Tell us about your brushes with fame!

      So for me, my favorite Physics Professor during college went on to become a Hugo and Nebula Award winning SciFi writer (his first novel had just been published about the time that I was taking his class).

      I met Chris Rock on the streets of London once and chatted with him for a few minutes. Super nice guy.

      In the late '80s I was flying out of the Burbank airport one time and this middle aged guy with long black hair was just casually leaning up against the wall waiting for a flight to Phoenix on Southwest. I had to do a double take and realized, holy $#!%, that's Alice Cooper! Just hanging out. So I went up and talked to him for a few minutes and got his autograph.

      But maybe my favorite episode was hanging out and having beers with Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma of the Blue Oyster Cult (Don't Fear The Reaper, Godzilla, Burnin' For You) in 1999 after their show in Tokyo. They were one of my favorite bands in the late '70s. I used to see them every year in concert when they were putting on these massive laser light shows. I went to see them 2 nights in a row in Tokyo when they were playing at one of the nicer music clubs in Roppongi. The place was packed, but afterwards, I got to hang out with them for a while. Eric was curious what I was doing living in Japan and started to pick my brain on Technology Stocks! LOL!

    • Hi Stephen, always such interesting topics. What about you? Tell us about your brushes with fame!

      Can’t I just be the guy in the room who sits quietly listening to the fascinating stories that others tell?

      In a Minnesota Airport, I saw Newt Gingrich standing next to a pillar and talking on his cellphone. What I found interesting was how excited the person seated behind me in the lounge was, animatedly talking to a friend about it like he was experiencing an event. I always feel that you have to at least make direct eye contact with a famous person, or their entourage, for it to be a rememberable moment.

      There was a guy on our high school wrestling team who went on to become a fairly famous movie star. I knew him a little since middle school and occasionally chatted with him on the way home from practice. I learned after high school from others just how brutal show business had been for him in trying to make it. He went on to have a few shows that he starred in and he also co-starred in movies with Tom Cruise and the like.

      I once went on a canoe trip with a Newberry award winner. She seemed nonplussed about the award, either because it really wasn’t a big deal to her or because she didn’t want to be treated differently because of her fame.

      There’s an interesting book, who’s name escapes me, about two brothers who crashed Hollywood events and made the most of their opportunities to talk to celebrities. One time, at some Hollywood party where everyone A list needed to be seen at, they came across a bored out of his skull Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future). They asked him about Canadian Hockey and had an amazing twenty minute conversation with him. At the end of the chat, when Fox had no choice but to resume mingling, he thanked them profusely for providing him with a much needed break from the Hollywood bullshit.

    • "Can’t I just be the guy in the room who sits quietly listening to the fascinating stories that others tell?"

      Not when you have such interesting stories to tell as well ;-)

    • In countless hours spent hanging out at airports over 45 years of flying corporate flying I have encountered the occasional celebrity. One night in Nashville I remarked to a collegue about the "farmer" with stringy beard whose blue denim overhauls seemed out of place in the Executive Lounge but who'd just boarded a Lear Jet. "Didn't you recognize Willie Nelson?" he asked. No, I had not.

      One afternoon in Prescott, Arizona I did recognize Bob Hope when he deplaned from an old Lockheed Jetstar and walked over to a nearby phone booth for a long conversation. And it finally dawned on me that the tall, gray gentleman travelling with Mr. Hope, standing silently by the passenger stairs while the jet was refueling, was none other than Jimmy Stewart. Oh, and one time Jane Fonda walked right past me at Chicago's Midway, though she she looked some different from the starlet I remembered.

      Then there was that time I met the President. No, really.

      In 1978 I was living in the rural town of Calhoun, GA, flying a small Christian denomination's regional headquarters staff around the Southeast in a 6-seat twin Cessna. One day in early November, my boss, the organization's President, called me to his office and told me to plan a flight to Washington. He and his wife had been invited to the White House for Thanksgiving dinner! I immediately inquired as to why he, an outspoken Republican, would be interested in dining with a peanut farmer from Plains, but he cut me off: "It's the White House! Lois and I are going to the White House!" He explained that in recognition of National Bible Week the President and Mrs. Carter had invited 150 prominent religious leaders and their wives from across America to Thanksgiving dinner at the White House. The pastor of the First Baptist Church and his wife had also received invitations and we would be inviting them to fly with us to Washington.

      I asked how it happened that the president of a medium-sized regional conference of a minor denomination came to be numbered among the Nation's top 150 religious leaders? My impertinence was duly noted, and he said he wasn't sure but it had something to with the wife of the local bank president. "Mrs. L" was the wife of the local bank president and mother-in-law of President Carter's eldest son Jack. She had a friend in the protocol office of the White House who had asked for her help with the list. My boss had become acquainted with the bank president at Rotary Club meetings and, well maybe that had something to do with it.

      There was just one issue; my boss, a consumate praticioner of church politics in his own right, was concerned that members of the hierarchy above him might not be pleased that he had been "chosen" to represent the organization at the national level. So he was going to ask "Mrs. L" if she could somehow add the president of world church and his wife to the list. Just to cover all bases, you know. Speaking of covering all bases, I pointed out that while he would be feasting at the White House I'd be dining on vending machine cheeze crackers in the transient pilot lounge at National Airport. Since he had so much pull at the White House, why not address that injustice?

      Imagine my suprise when this appeared in my mail box three days later:

    • The flight to Washington was uneventful. I carried the invitation in my pocket just in case my name should not appear on the list at the White House gate, but it was there and I was admitted just as if I belonged. I was seated at Table 9. Following dinner, time was allowed for the First Family and their guests to mingle. Along with the others from Georgia I was introduced to President Carter. His handshake was firm, his gaze direct and we exchanged a few words. He seemed to be a sincere and decent guy.

      Afterwards the English actor Alec McCowen recited the King James Version of the Gospel of Mark as a one man play. His performance was flawless. The President thanked his guests for joining him in commemorating National Bible Week, bade us farwell, and then departed via Marine One for Camp David with Mrs. Carter and their daughter Amy. Back in the East Room, the crowd was slow to disperse, savoring experience as long as possible. I was already thinking of the long flight home, when "Mrs. L's friend" showed up with another invitation; would those of us from Georgia (no more than 7 or 8, as I recall) be interested in a private tour of the White House? I found a phone and extended my flight plan.

      The Oval Office is as impressive in real life as on TV. I photographed my boss sitting in the President's chair behind the Resolute Desk. I sat in the chair myself. I still can't believe it. But I've got pictures. Next our guide led us through the private living quarters of the First Family. Yes indeed, their home. I was pleased to note that Amy Carter left her toys scattered about the floor just like my boys, but I had a creepy feeling that I did not belong in these private spaces. But our White House guide kept moving and talking. She showed us a small room off the presidential bedroom, the President's private study. There on a small desk lay a well worn Bible, open to the text of the daily Sunday School lesson.

      It seems part of a different lifetime, that extraordinary Thanksgiving of 1978. Nowadays Covid 19 stalks us all, and righteous protests fill our streets. But I still recall that time I shook hands with an American Leader who knew how to use a Bible.