Dinner Party Guest List--Any Ten People Who Ever Lived

Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 12:19 am
I tutor immigrants in English, and sometimes getting them to talk is a challenge. So I ask them whom they would invite to a dinner party. They can pick any ten people who ever lived. Just to keep things civil, guests arrive alive and are all able to speak the same language. Students must not only tell me whom they'd invite, but why they chose each person.

I've gotten lots of interesting answers. I've learned about great artists and heroic figures from around the world. And I gained a lot of insight into my students' psyches by seeing their guest lists.

Okay, a2kers. You're having a dinner party. You can invite ten people from any time, any place in the history of the planet. So who's on your guest list, and why do you want to meet these people?
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 02:29 am
Who? Hmmmmmm - Queen Elizabeth I of England (very clever, learned, witty and the centre of a most fascinating time in English history); Sappho (great poet, and who would not wish to meet a figure from the ancient world? Perhaps she might recite...); John Reed (got to see the Russian revolution at first hand, but at one remove, good talker, would know lots about the realities of the USA at that time, too); Buddha (hope he is a good talker!); Bertrand Russell (good grasp of all western philosophies); Jane Austen (MUST have been interesting, if you could get her talking!); Virginia Woolf (great conversationalist, one would have thought); Robin Williams (WITH cocaine - what fun!); John Kennedy (wonderful wit, and knowledge); Mo thingy - (recently the British Minister dealing with trying to stitch up peace in Ireland - saw an interview of her, and she was fascinating)

That is a quick first take. I could come up with better ideas, with thought, I think!
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 03:18 am
Ok my 10 people, in no particular order, just coz they intrigue me.

#1 Winston Churchill. coz he had the guts to stand up to Hitler, was a great orator, writer and if he hadn't of lived we would of had to invent him.
#2 F D Roosevelt coz he had vision for growth and stability, knew people's hopes and led from the front
#3 Margeret Thatcher Brit version of FDR & had great strength, nobodys fool and made sure people knew it. Pure steel.
#4 Ian Fleming coz he wrote the James Bond books and I'd like to know what he thinks of the movies made from his books and if his stories have been compromised.
#5 John McEnroe an outstanding sportsman, now a great commentator on tennis and he a WYSIWYG type of guy.
#6 Jimmy page the instigator of Led Zeppelin, superb guitarist and with a fantastic rock and roll mind. How did he pull it all together and still he sells the music to new generations
#7 John Lee Hooker a great American Blues man who is a great commentator and story teller of everyday life. He led me to all those other great blues people
#8 Adolph Hitler just so I blow the bastard away
#9 My wife,, the obvious reasons
#10 My daughter ditto
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 03:21 am
Gosh, hard to choose, Roberta!
Hmmmmmmmmmmm, let me think for a minute ... Rolling Eyes Off the top of my head:

... Doris Lessing for her many years of sorting through the meanings of so many things - politics, personal relationships, black/white relationships in Africa, her experience of the Communist Party, the changing world. She would have such great insight into so much, I'm certain! I would also invite her to bring one of her beloved cats, to keep mine company. Very Happy
Nelson Mandela & Archbiship Tutu .... I would love to know the secret of surviving (with idealism, hope & humour intact) so much struggle & hardship.
Australian journalists, Wilfred Burchett (sp?) & John Pilger. Two idealistic political commentators from different times. I would be fascinated to hear Burchett's account of being one of the first western journalists to report on the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing. Pilger's accounts of Cambodia & the Khmer Rouge's impact would be very sobering, I'm certain
Margaret Atwood, the novelist, whose novels I greatly admire. I would love to discuss "Cat's Eye" with her for her insights into childhood & how this experience affected the adult artist who emerged in the novel. I'd also like to know if this novel was autobiographical. (It's so vivid!)
Gertrude Stein, to hear first-hand those wonderful stories of Paris, Art & the eccentric. Of course, she'd bring Alice, too!
Karl Marx, to see what he would have made of his vision for a better world for the oppressed in the 21st Century. What would he do differently, from hindsight?
Frida Kahlo (along with a personally selected collection of self portraits & maybe a pet monkey). I would love to hear her first-hand accounts of each painting & share her experinces & knowledge of life & art.
A suffragette, or 2 (or all the Pankhursts?).... To talk about the campaign to gain votes for women in the early stages of last century.
Kurt Vonnegut, the novelist. To add his wry observations of human beings & the odd things they do to the discussion.

There you go, Roberta ... But I think I've gone ove the limited number, sorry. But what a night!
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 05:32 am
Ha, too funny - this was a question I answered in my college application (to Boston University). Their limitation was 3 people.

At the time, I picked Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) - not that I have a think for guys named Chuck D. or anything, it was because I thought they'd be able to all get along. In the essay, I remember I mentioned the fact that they were all transformers of one kind or another. Dickens was a social reformer, Darwin changed the way we think about ourselves and our place in the world and in history (his theory is the very essence of change) and Dodgson changed our perceptions.

I still like 'em.

As for the other 7, eek, do I have enough chairs?
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 06:12 am
Nelson Mandela - for his amazing strength of character and tolerance, he must have fascinating tales to tell. Rembrandt - an incredible innovator and fantastic artist, Leonard da Vinci amazing mind and multi talented, Dorothy Parker for fun, Dave Allen (Irish comedian) for hilarious irreverent stories, can I pinch Elizabeth I as well? - a very intelligent and highly educated lady, JRR Tolkein and Terry Pratchett - great writers and TP is so funny, Jake Thakeray singer - ironic, witty and very clever, Picasso to see if he really was an arrogant *$%*^$***!,Shakespeare - he must have been interesting and finally Dawn French - quick and funny.
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 07:03 am
Funkadelic (when they had at least 10 members) to put the 'party' in 'dinner party.' Nobody likes a dry dinner party...
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 10:14 am
What an interesting evening this would be:

Jesus Christ
Mahatma Ghandi
Leonardo da Vinci
Abraham Lincoln
Benjamin Franklin
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Rachel Carson

Most of these choices need no explanation. Mozart was chosen because of his unique musical abilities. A discourse to find the essense of how ideas occurred to him for the various forms of music would be thrilling. Rachel Carson was well before her time and produced Silent Spring the precursor and warnings that resulted in reforms to stem the ecological wastes then occurring. Spartacus because of the dommed but nevertheless inspiring slave revolt that for two years confounded the Roman Empire. Tecumseh as the American Indian chief who correctly saw the white man's ambitions as a threat to the continued exiatence of their society. He conceived a plan to unite all tribes in the east but was thwarted before it could be accomplished.
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 11:52 am
cavfancier wrote:
Funkadelic (when they had at least 10 members) to put the 'party' in 'dinner party.' Nobody likes a dry dinner party...

O Yeah! Who needs converstion when you've got great music!
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 01:14 pm
Agatha Christie
William Shatner
Doris Day
Sean Connery
Stevie Nicks
Marilyn Manson
Sandra Bullock
Eddie Izzard
Robin Williams
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 04:57 pm
We've got some amazing dinner conversations going here. Interesting and inspired choices.

My list is made up of people I greatly admire. Or I have questions for them.

1. William Shakespeare. I want to hear his voice and breathe the same air he's breathing. I want to talk to him and get a sense of the human being that created such work. I also want to get his reaction to his works still be read and performed.

2. Moses. I want someone from the Bible. I narrowed it down to Noah and Moses. Went with Moses because, after forty years of schlepping around in the desert , he could use a good meal. I also want to get is true perception of what was going on. Hey, Mo. What's with the burning bush? What's with that Red Sea business?

3. Leonardo da Vinci. Brilliant, gifted, and in some ways a visionary. I want to see his reaction to modern technology. I also have a couple of questions. Hey, Leo. What's with the backward writing, and what happened to Mona's eyebrows?

4. Rembrandt. There's a self-portrait of his at the Frick Museum. It transfixes me. I have stared at that painting for hours. I feel that it speaks to me through the centuries. So I'd like to get a sense of the person I think is speaking to me. I'll also mention that I visited his house in Amsterdam and let him know that it's now a musuem.

5. Abraham Lincoln. Of all politicians, I admire him more than any other. He was president during the most difficult of times. He kept the country together. I want to hear him speak. And I want to say thanks.

6. Fyodor Dostoevsky. One of my favorite writers--ever! What passion. What intensity. I'd like to thank him too.

7. Albert Einstein. I love his face. And I am bewildered by his ideas. Maybe if he explains them to me in person, I'd get a better understanding of what they mean.

8. Elizabeth I. A strong, smart, astute woman. Politically adept. I think she'd be a fascinating dinner guest.

9. Beethoven. His music moves me. I would like to get a sense of the man who wrote it. I also want to ask him about writing it without being able to hear it.

10. My grandfather. Someone I love and admire greatly. He died forty years ago. He would fit in well with this awesome group.
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 05:05 pm
My wife
George Washington Carver
Jim Thorpe
Helen Keller
Jimmy Carter
Thomas Jefferson
Florence Nightengale
Joan of Arc
SiddhArtha Gautama Buddha
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 05:37 pm

Oscar Wilde
Mark Twain
John F Kennedy
Ted Williams
Louis Armstrong


Emily Dickinson*
Barbara Jordan
Jacqueline Kennedy
Mae West
Dorothy Parker

Dinner Partners:

Barbara Jordan - Mark Twain

Emily Dickinson - John F Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy - Louis Armstrong

Mae West - Ted Williams

Dorothy Parker - Oscar Wilde

*We might have to give ED a little Ativan to help her with her social phobia
( You DID say anyone and I want ED there!)


Barbara Jordan

A wonderful orator and a liberal icon with an extraordinary speaking voice. I could listen to her talk all night.

Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Mae West, Dorothy Parker

I think they'd be hilarious and have me laughing all night.

John F Kennedy, Ted Williams

My childhood heroes. I just want to SEE them...be in their presence, listen to them talk and laugh.

Jacqueline Kennedy

I just thought Jackie would add balance, a touch of class and improve the 'mix'

Emily Dickinson

'The Divine Miss Em' my adored, favorite poet ...just to know what she'd be like in person

Louis Armstrong

I'd love to experience his wonderful sunny personality and listen to him talk about his music.
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 05:48 pm
Oh yeah ('cause I'm reading a bio of him), I'd like to add Moe Berg.
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Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 06:13 pm
W.A. Mozart -- I've always been intrigued by his music and his life

Albert Einstein -- I think it would be interesting to hear him speak about anything -- especially on his bio of Mozart (I wonder if he would be corrected?)

Vaclav Havel -- I greatly admire that he transformed so well from absurdist playwright/dissident prisoner to president, leading the Czech Republic to be one of the most successful former communist block nations since 1989

Hilary Clinton -- I would love to see her in action first hand. I'm amazed by her strength, even if I don't always agree with her policies

Mick Jagger -- I just think he would be fun to have at a dinner party -- and I'd love to dance with him

Chrissy Hynde -- I've loved her since Junior High School -- she's talented, cool, and smart

The Virgin Mary -- It would be very interesting to get her take on everything from religion to politics to women's issues

Thomas Jefferson -- How great would it be to hear about the American Revolution and the birth of the US from him? Fantastic

Spike Jones -- I love his movies, and if they're any indication of his personality, I think he would be an interesting guest

Isak Dinesen -- her prose sends me into a trance, and I imagine that hearing her tell a tale might do the same thing
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cicerone imposter
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2003 09:24 pm
1. My father who I never knew, because he died when I was 2
2. Gandhi
3. Mozart
4. van Gogh
5. Monet
6. Charles Darwin
7. Abe Lincoln
8. Ramses II
9. Aristotle
10. Ghengis Khan
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Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2003 04:26 am
Jespah, Who is Moe Berg and why do you want him at your party--amidst the CDs?

Heeven, BillW, and c.i., You omitted why you would invite the people you've chosen. I admit to being curious about William Shatner and Ghengis Khan.
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Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2003 04:31 am
i'd get jackie to hostess while I cooked!
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Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2003 05:12 am
Gee, I thought George W and Laura would be on everyone's list! Go figure.
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Reply Fri 27 Jun, 2003 06:28 am
Roberta wrote:
Jespah, Who is Moe Berg and why do you want him at your party--amidst the CDs?....

The short version:

Moe Berg was a third-string catcher for several baseball teams in the '30's, including the Red Sox. He went to Princeton when Jews just didn't go to Princeton. His degree was in linguistics. He could speak several languages. He went to Japan just before the Second World War and shot film of several locations which proved to be somewhat helpful (he used to exagerrate how helpful it was, but during WWII they were looking for any edge) in terms of pinpointing major Tokyo buildings. He also helped to bring baseball to Japan during that visit. He was an OSS spy during WWII (he worked at the OSS at the same time as Julia Child. Yes, that Julia Child - I should probably invite her, too, eh?).

After the war he was kind of lost and was pretty much homeless, but people would take him in and feed him because he was such a fascinating ranconteur. He knew everyone from Chico Marx to Casey Stengel and Nelson Rockefeller.

The book is The Catcher was a Spy by Nicholas Dawidoff.
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