Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

No, this is not about the 1967 Sidney Poitier film, nor the 2005 remake. A week or so ago, I was struck by a very random, whimsical urge to poke around this old forum I was a part of in my youth. In fact, around the 2005 mark would have been one of the heights of my participation in this online community dedicated to the fandom of 24. If you’re looking for some strange duality between the title, its relation to a movie made in the year 2005, blah, blah. Looking at some of the things I wrote/said back then...well, I was a bit of a monumental prat in those days. I’m more a statuesque prat now, smaller than a monument but still pretty dull.

Anyway, I stumbled upon a thread started by a user known as Yil. He was quite the erudite, intelligent young chap. Quite on the ball as I remember it, astute observations...the kind of fellow you invite over for tea and cake, end up debating the merits of Nietzsche and Voltaire. Then retire for whiskey and cigars in the smoking room, with your high-backed, winged chairs and smoking jackets in front of a crackling fire.

In this particular thread, Yil asked who people would invite to their ideal dinner party. Six guests, living or dead. Back in 2004, when the question was posed, I had no answer. It was something that I didn’t even think about. Dinner party? What the frak was a dinner party?
Eleven years later, I have found myself contemplating which six guests would constitute my ideal dinner party:

1. Richard Feynman

Nobel Laureate in Physics, noted for his work on quantum electrodynamics, the Feynman Lectures and the Feynman Diagrams. A scientific genius, oft overshadowed in popular culture by Albert Einstein but every bit his equal, if not on some occasions his better. But more than anything, Feynman is a genuinely brilliant and fun human being. A series of YouTube videos posted by Reid Gower can attest to this. I’ve provided a link to one called “The Key to Science”. When Feynman explains what the key to science is...just brilliant. An amazing dinner guest.

2. Douglas Adams

One of the funniest writers in all existence. Let’s face it, all my guests after Feynman have been influenced by his placement on the guest list. Who work with Feynman? Well, having read The Salmon of Doubt and seeing just how deeply funny a man Douglas Adams was, I can only imagine the hilarity and good conversation that would ensue at the dinner table to have such a talented humorist as Adams and an irreverent scientist as would be beautiful.

3. Sir Terry Pratchett

The other funniest writer in all existence. Such a gifted and talented man whose worked has touched a generation and the effect of which will ripple onwards through time, a legacy to match the previous guest. The combination of wit and wisdoms from Feynman, Adams and Pratchett...I would have to keep a team of trauma surgeons on standby to repair the guts busted from laughter.

4. William Gibson

One of my all time favourite writers. As evidenced by a video I saw the other day, itself from 1994, quite the funny chap too. Although his writing is not outwardly intended to be funny, they are laced with fun little moments (my favourite in Zero History, where an American in London calls a Belgian with the name Bigend “Mr Bellend”. I maintain it was a nod to the British readers who know exactly when to use the term “Bellend”). Also, when conversational matters turned to more serious matters of science, Feynman and Gibson would be two very formidable visionary minds I think.

5. Sonya Belousova

Not all my guests would be writers and scientists. As much entertainment as they would bring through conversation, a good dinner party needs something else. Some music. And Sonya Belousova is an incredibly talented pianist. She does spectacularly awesome piano arrangements of theme tunes from TV, movies, video games. They’re amazing. I am also just a tiny bit love with her and would also use the dinner party as an opportunity to woo her. Undoubtedly. Check out her YouTube channel and tell me you wouldn’t too.

6. Bear McCreary

While my guests are gathered around the arbitrarily placed grand piano to hear some music and I want to impress Sonya rather than have her make me melt with her musical talents, I have a back-up plan. My other favourite composer and quite awesome pianist, Bear McCreary. For evidence of his piano talents, this video of my favourite song from Battlestar Galactica, “Something Dark is Coming”. Also I would have to pick his brains about Battlestar and all of the things. And make him play all of my favourite songs. Then have Sonya do the same, whilst settling down for whiskey and cigars with Feynman, Adams, Pratchett and Gibson.

There are, of course, many, many more awesome people I would love have at a dinner party. These guys are just the first round. Perhaps I should have monthly dinner parties, with different guests each time...hmmmm...well, anyway, those are my six ideal dinner party guests. What about you, dear readers? Who would your six be?

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