Back in high school, I was a big fan of The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan's surreal 1960s TV series about identity and individualism. KTEH, the public-television station in San Jose (when did people start calling it San José? Or have they always called it that and I just didn't notice?), known for airing shows like Dr. Who, Blake's Seven, and Monty Python, ran the whole series, and Sarah and I would tape the episodes and go through them practically frame-by-frame, picking out details. At some point, I typed up a long letter to Scott Apel, the host of the series, making comments about various aspects of the show (this was back before the Internet was widely available; I used my father's old manual typewriter). Scott wrote back, and invited me to appear on the discussion segment that KTEH was planning to air when the series was over.
So I did. I suppose I can admit, now that the statute of limitations has run out, that at the time of that discussion, I hadn't yet seen the final episode. (Which episode, I should mention for those unfamiliar with the series, is a Big Deal.) My friend Bruce drove me to the TV station and briefed me on the episode, even supplying a theory that I later mentioned on the air.
The discussion went okay. We talked over what we were going to say in broad outline, then they started the cameras and we discussed. I have very little memory of the details at this point.
It was the only time so far that I've appeared on TV. I saw the segment later on videotape; it was mildly painful to watch myself. It was particularly entertaining at high speed, on fast-forward, because I would sit for minutes at a time absolutely frozen in place, and then suddenly gesticulate wildly with my arms, and then just as suddenly return my arms to absolute stillness.
I think Arthur's parents may still have that videotape, but other than that I thought there was no record of my brush with fame.
Until now. Apparently KTEH has just run the series again, and has (I'm told) re-broadcast the discussion segment, filmed, oh, about seventeen years ago. O, the embarrassment! I wonder if anyone who didn't know me then will recognize me.
It wasn't too long after that, btw, that I appeared on a convention panel for the first time. I was on a Prisoner panel at TimeCon (the now-defunct Bay Area Dr. Who convention), where I had only one memorable line: I took the opportunity to note that, given the theme of the convention, it would be appropriate to wonder whether the recurring question "Who is Number One?" might not in fact be a statement rather than a question.