Ask a travel-loving SoCaler "what person would you like to have dinner with, from the present or no longer among us, and why?" and prepare, time and again, to hear a single name: Huell Howser.
Could there be a more enthusiastic dinner guest than the congenial travelogue host, a man many people around the Golden State looked upon as a kindly, always enthusiastic uncle? You just know he'd compliment your sweet potatoes, have a second helping of stuffing, and praise the turkey multiple times.
Yes, we did just set your dream dinner with the affable host at Thanksgiving, and here's why: KCET, Mr. Howser's longtime home before he passed away in January 2013, is premiering a documentary that celebrates the life, work, and small-town adventuring of Huell Howser, a man just about everyone around Southern California felt like they knew personally.
And, yes, could impersonate, in charmingly convincing ways. (All together now, Huell fans: "That's aaaaamazing!")
"A Golden State of Mind: The Storytelling Genius of Huell Howser" airs on the public television station on Thursday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m.
Call it the perfect post-feast entertainment for people in a gratitude-rich state of mind. Because, truly, this was a man who emanated gratitude and graciousness wherever he traveled, regardless of the place or attraction or roadside stop he was calling upon. Everything was on an even playing field for the host, in terms of importance and respect, whether the topic of his show was big, small, or very small in size.
If you can't wait for Thanksgiving for a happy dose of Huellism, you can make for Chapman University, which is home to a "California's Gold" exhibit -- named after one of Mr. Howser's many travel series -- and the Huell Howser Archives.