Chat Room: Bill Cabage

Bill Cabage

Bill Cabage

Age: 53

Wife: Linda. Two sons, Ian, 12, and Sean, 9.

Occupation: Science writer and public information specialist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Ask Bill Cabage to name his favorite movie and most folks won’t recognize the title. That’s because it is a movie he and his two sons made themselves.

“My two boys, Ian and Sean, made this little movie with the camcorder. I shot it. We sort of plotted it out first. They acted. Sean titled it, ‘The House That Was So Creepy.’ We need to make more.”

When not trying to emulate Stephen Spielberg or working at ORNL, Cabage can be seen performing with the musical group Pistol Creek Catch of the Day. Being part of that group helps whet another passion of Cabage’s -- playing music. “It has provided a lot of fun and comfort and the occasional sense of accomplishment,” he says.

Here is Bill Cabage:

What was your first paying job?

“A summer job going around the county schools with some other kids, er, young adults, repairing textbooks with Mary Cook, who ran the county’s bookroom. It was big fun, and we got paid.”

If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?

“Buy guitars. Good ones cost a fortune, now.”

What’s your favorite television or movie quote?

“That rabbit’s dynamite.” (“Monty Python and the Holy Grail”)

What are you guilty of?

“Eating ice cream before bedtime.”

What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?

“Several, actually. Walk the Appalachian Trail, live in New York City or San Francisco for a year, build a garage and write a book. I’ve done some, however. It used to be play the fiddle, placekick a football and play tennis. I can now scrape out a tune on a fiddle, and I taught myself to placekick a Nerf ball in the backyard. I no longer give a hoot about tennis, so two out of three ain’t bad.”

Do you think there is life on other planets?

“Yes, but it’s probably not as common or advanced as some people think. Life is very much a happy accident. Everything has to be just right.”

What is your favorite material possession?

“I enjoy my guitar a lot.”

Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?

“Politics, Churchill. Technology, Einstein. Culture, Philo T. Farnsworth or whoever invented TV. If you mean influential in the 21st century, Osama Bin Laden has pretty much ruined it for everybody so far.”

What was your most embarrassing moment?

“Were you among the thousands at the rock concert laughing at the schmuck who got hit in the back of the head with a Frisbee? That schmuck was me.”

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?

“Wild” Bill - no idea why.

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

“A fireman. I guess it was the red truck. I now have a red pickup truck.”

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

“I would get a better voice. I just listened to myself on a recording. Very deflating. But I had a cold, you see.”

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?

“To be honest, a long lunch with my wife would be a rare opportunity.”

What do you hate?

“Arrogant, incompetent politicos and ranting wing nuts who put their ideologies ahead of reality. I’m not pointing any fingers at anybody.”

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

‘“‘Son of the Morning Star,’ by Evan Connell. It’s about the events leading up to Little Big Horn, masterfully written.”

Would you travel in space?

“No. Space is an unrelentingly hostile environment.”

If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?

“Philadelphia, July 4, 1776, just to see what those incredibly smart and enlightened guys - Jefferson, Madison, Franklin et al. - who started our country were really like.”

What character in a book or movie would you most like to be?

“Spider-Man, since 1966.”

What is the best present you ever received in a box?

“For high school graduation I received a Random House dictionary from my Ohio relatives. I wore it out in college. Actually I still use it if the computer’s not available.”

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

‘If you get put in jail, call your uncle. Don’t call us.’ I never had to, but if you only get one phone call, that’s pretty good advice.”

Did you ever get paddled in school and if so, why?

“One time, by Stanford Long at Eagleton Jr. High. We were talking about moles in science class, and I said, ‘I have a mole but I can’t show it to anybody.’ A kid laughed, and he summoned us to the front.”

Who is your hero?

“John Lennon, a flawed but prodigious difference-maker.”

What was your first car?

“A 1971 Opel 1900 that I shared with my brother George. We loved that car. It orbited the A&W many times.”

What’s your favorite all time song?

“ ‘Hey Jude,’ a perfect song.”

Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

“Depends on what’s in it. If it’s a good Zinfandel, it’s right about where it ought to be.”

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