Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Thursday, June 30, 2011

#SDCC Cheat Kappa

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
ComicCon is a Marathon and not a sprint.
Its 5 long days with sensory overload where you are not sleeping or eating as well as you should.
No one thing will make or ruin your experience at SDCC.
I’ve been late to events, missed out of autographs, told ‘no’, and missed my flight. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and the best thing to do is try to keep an even keel. This way you won’t spiral out of control and really ruin the event for yourself.
For me, I have really found if one door closes another opens.  I’ve met new people. I’ve talked to celebrities, and discovered new TV shows because something didn’t go according to plan.
I was up to the struggle of getting up after each knock down.
I rested as much as possible. I ate my protein bars. I drank my water. I planned out my day and looked for alternatives.
It is an incredible show. You may stumble over some problem. You feel you are lagging behind as you see others get some prized swag you lack. You may fall asleep in a panel and only awake because everyone is getting up to leave.  But it’s a long convention and there will be other panels to see and swag to be gotten.
Remember to take a moment and look around yourself and see what is happening. Enjoy it.
Don’t burn out the first few days and you’ll remember so much more.

#SDCC Cheat Iota

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
The past few years the Saturday night Masquerade has been sponsored.
Which is pretty neat as the sponsor hires a DJ and plays good music during the intermission part of the Masquerade.  Surprisingly it takes forever to count the votes for the costumes so the party is a fun way to distract yourself. The whole soirée occurs in the in the Sails Pavilion.  The sponsor even provides snacks and some drinks.
The rhythm is good and the stereotype of geeks being uncoordinated gets debunked as people dance to the music.
My word of advice is to stay from the snacks. It’s in big bowls and everyone just reaches and scoops out a handful.
If I was at home with my family, I wouldn’t mind.  Here, I’m with a 1000 strangers. I’m not that hungry.
I know you’re hungry and it’s late and some popcorn and pretzels looks really good but hold off.
You have no idea where everyone’s hands have been.
Embracing my inner Monk,

Friday, June 24, 2011

#SDCC TechKaraoke Saturday July 23rd

I was contacted by Carrie about this event. She was very nice and wanted to personally invite me.
As you know, I am NOT attending SDCC this year and even though I’m heartbroken over that, I did want to let you know about it.  And before you ask, nope, I’m not getting paid.
Check this out.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

#SDCC Cheat Theta

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
Did you know the San Diego Convention Center has a concierge?
Yes, their help desk is manned most business hours and usually by 2 very sweet older women.
They are friendly and patient (do you think they have seen it all?) have a wealth of info.
They give great directions that are surprisingly accurate.
The wife and I had an In N Out Burger urge and we were given directions that made sense and we didn’t get lost.
They are a little hard to find.  If you hit the bag check area you have gone too far.
So if you need to fine the nearest Starbucks or Subway or bookstore, they can help.
Don’t waste time getting lost, give them a shot. They will guide you your favorite place.

#SDCC Cheat Eta

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
SDCC is not for kids under 12 years old.
Sorry.  Send the hate mail. The kids may watch ever cartoon and they may know every episode of Smallville and be a young Jedi knight but it’s not for them.
Too often I see a stroller with a past out kid buried under a ton of swag.
Too often I see a cranky kid screaming because he’s hungry and the line at the concession stand is an hour long.
Too often I see a young one wondering off as mom or dad is distracted by the marvel that is ComicCon.
SDCC is just too big, too exhausting, and too chaotic for little ones. Their bodies just aren’t up to it. It’s a tough event for adults in their prime.
Which is really unfortunate as it really stimulates their imagination.   And we all feel like kids there.
If your child is in a stroller? Then they aren’t seeing anything anyway. The stroller is tripping people and blocking the aisles.  I don’t know how many times I’ve tripped over a stroller and almost crushed your little one.
If the kids are walking, how long before they have a meltdown? Then how long before you have a meltdown?  With them walking, how long before they move away from you and may be separated by the crowds? Panic sets in. Yuck.
And the pre-teens do notice the adult content and are being exposed more than you think.
Hire a babysitter and spend the day there as a date with the spouse.  You deserve some time with each other. Then go eat at a nice steak place afterwards.  Stay out after curfew.
Wait and take them when they are able to explore the event by themselves and you can enjoy your ComicCon too.  I bet you will be surprised at how many panels you both show up at.
Curmudgeonly yours,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#SDCC Cheat Zeta

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
Riding the trolley?  Want to look like a seasoned veteran of SDCC?
Get off at the Gaslamp stop and not the Convention Center stop. It will save you a ¼ mile of walking each way. 
This stop is in front of the entrance you will use.  Everyone that got off at the previous stop is now walking to this entrance.  Your feet will thank you at the end of the 5 days. You will be surprised how empty the trolley is.
Also, there is a lot going on at this stop.  Between the restaurants giving out coupons and other local establishments trying to drum up business; a lot of other swag is being given out here.  SyFy has taken over the restaurant Mary Jane’s the last few years and converted it into Café Diem from Eureka.  Since SyFy no longer has a booth, this is where they are handing out their swag. 
The Pedicabs hang out here. You are close to several other restaurants and the ball bark.
If you want to attend an event at the Hilton Bayfront, this is your stop.
Another trolley tip to saving on a few steps:  When you get onto this trolley heading to the convention center, get in the last car on the end; when it stops its closer to the corner where you will cross the street.  
When you leave and need to make a connecting stop; then use the last car again for the first connection. This one doesn’t save many steps but most people will crowd into the first cars and the last car is the last to fill and you improve your chances of getting a seat.
Bon Voyage,

#SDCC Cheat Epsilon

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
It was there a second ago and now they have sold out or they have given out the last one.
That SDCC exclusive or prized swag is now gone and you can’t get one.
Before you panic or have a hissy fit – look on eBay.
Everything ends up on eBay and there are hundreds of sellers taking advantage of the fact that many people could not get to SDCC and the ones that are there missed out on something they have in their grubby little hands.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a postcard with the SDCC logo or the hard to get studio autograph, it will be on eBay very soon.  Often if you search that night you will find it. 
Don’t believe me?
As of this posting, SDCC hasn’t even started.  After the convention is over, lots of people are trying to sell off whatever they can to pay off their trip to San Diego.
Caveat Emptor,

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#SDCC Cheat Gamma

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
Bring some multi-vitamins and take then every day. I don’t care if it’s Flintstone Kids or Centrum Silver Plus. Before you finish packing, go to your drug store and buy a small bottle to bring with you.
I’ve talked about the stress you are putting your body through. Help your body recover and heal by giving it the supplements it needs.
Face it; you are probably not eating very well. You aren’t sleeping or resting as much as you should and you are burning a lot of calories during the day.
You also want your immune system working well to fight off the dreaded convention crud. You will be exposed to a lot of different people from all over the world and they will be carrying all kinds of fun germs you haven’t encountered before.
Take you vitamins and stay healthy during and after the convention.
Stay Strong,

#SDCC Cheat Delta

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
Half your weight in ounces.
I know I said this before.
It must be important because I said it twice.
Bring a couple of bottles of water with you to the convention each day.
As you sit in the panels, drink your water and refill your bottles from the water cooler SDCC so kindly provides.
You don’t realize how much water you are losing even if you are spending most of your time in panels.
Air-conditioned air is very dry; just like on an air plane, you are dehydrating by breathing.
Again, your eating habits are affecting this too. Are you eating lots of fruit and veggies? Or hot dogs and pretzels and pizza?
By the time you are thirsty, you have lost more water than you think.
Drink to me,

Monday, June 20, 2011

#SDCC Cheat Beta

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
Leaving the Ladder, One May Fall Upward – Frank Herbert, Dune
The exhibition floor is a zoo. It’s a kicked up anthill. You are a salmon swimming upstream and there are bears in these woods.  Get the picture?  It’s very hard to walk up and down the aisles and if you are in the corporate area it’s slower than molasses.
You are now in the 600 aisle and you want to get to the Warner Brothers booth for the Big Bang signing. You have 10 minutes. Go!
It will be impossible if you are stay in the exhibition hall.
My advice is leave. Go out into the concourse and walk through that much thinner crowd and reenter closer to the Warner Brothers booth and then reenter the anthill. 
It will still take longer than you want but using the concourse between the outside doors and the convention floor will say you a lot of time and effort.
It works.
You can thank Frank and me later.


#SDCC Cheat Alpha

These aren’t really cheats as anyone can do them and you won’t get in trouble.
Those amazing autograph raffles I love so much.
When you get there first thing in the morning you need to find a copy of the daily update and see what raffles they are offering and when. The raffles often occur before the floor opens; around 9AM. So if you are in the Sails Pavilion (upstairs) waiting for the doors to open at 10AM, you might as well try to win a few limited access autographs.
Past raffles have been for Stan Lee, the cast of G4TV, Charlene Harris (True Blood), Stephanie Myers, Mythbusters, etc.
The raffle takes no skill and you know immediately if you won or not.
Someone holds a bag filled with tickets and a person next to then is holding the wristbands.  Some raffle tickets are marked as a winner and some are not.  They usually have about 250 to 500 winning tickets.  A line forms in front of the person with the bag and you reach in and pull out a ticket. If it’s a winner, you usually get a wrist band telling you where and when to show up.
Pretty simple.
If you lose, be patient and go back to the end of the line. You will be surprised how many people give up after one attempt.  I saw one raffle drawing and everyone gave up. The bag person was begging people in the crowd to get a wristband.
Other times the line is so long and chaotic you might not get a chance to pull even once. Most times though you will get several chances to draw a ticket out of the bag.
The autograph is free. 95% of the time they will provide you something to have signed, you don’t need to buy anything. What they provide is a promotional poster or photo.  And about 50% of the time they will only sign the item they provide.
Authors are a little different; you usually need to buy their book. Every time I have seen an author at a raffle signing, they usually have copies for sale at the signing table.
This is a low stress activity. Enjoy it.
Good Luck

Sunday, June 19, 2011

#SDCC letter of the day Z for Zombie

Easily this post could be all about the zombie related books, graphic novels, TV, and movies you’ll see at SDCC.
It could be about the zombie walk outside the convention center.
But it’s about sleep deprivation and being an SDCC Zombie.
It’s usually the younger fanboy/girl that are victims of being a zombie but some of us veterans fall prey too.  It is fairly easy. With so many things to do and that you want to do, it’s easy to skimp on sleep.  And that decision can bankrupt you.
Can you really live on Red Bull? Many try.  In the short term it can help to cheat on sleep.
But think about how long you’ve been depriving yourself before you attempt a few ComicCon all-nighters.
Have you been getting good sleep the week before?
Have you been working like a dog at the office to clear the desk before you go to SD?  Are you up half the night searching the web for SDCC related gossip and tidbits?  Are you too excited to sleep and just toss and turn?  How early did you get up for the flight or drive to SD?
Chances are you weren’t perfectly rested before getting to SDCC.  You have already tapped into your adrenaline reserves.  The B12 and other vitamins and the caffeine you are taking are only stop gaps. SDCC is 5 days long; a marathon. That’s a long time for a stop gap.
I’ve seen some hit the wall on Thursday.  All they attended was Preview Night and whatever parties they found. Do you want to sleep though those movie previews?  Or the panel about your favorite TV show?  Walk past Stan Lee and not realize it?
People sleep and snore in the dark cool panel rooms. They fight sleep like petulant kids; head bobbing, maybe a little drool dripping, and quiet muttering about ‘resting their eyes’.
They walk around with eyes glazed, a vapid smile, and a programmed pace as they move to the next room but not realizing what they are missing.
They are the SDCC Zombies.
Get some sleep every night. Attempt to get at least 5 hours every night. I know it’s hard.  I also know for some of you 5 hours of sleep is the norm. But remember the physical activity you are putting your body through at ComicCon.  You are doing more walking and carrying around more stuff than you normally do.
It’s also hard to get 5 hours as there is so much going on after 7PM each day. Extra-curricular activities; the amount of time to get back to your hotel;  the chill period; planning for the next day all keep you up later than you want.
Morning comes too early as you need to factor in travel time to the convention center and how early you want to get in line to ensure you get to your panels.
One thing to help with early mornings is trade with friends who will be the first to show up.  Thursday Amy gets up early. Friday, Sam is up before the others, etc.  The rest can sleep an extra hour or so.  Someone can bring breakfast (Subway in Gaslamp opens early for SDCC) and that saves time as the others can sleep.
Getting a hotel closer to the convention center does help. It eliminates the 45 minute trolley ride or the wait for the hotel shuttles. You control your schedule better if you can walk.
If you really want to be first in line, then camp out with a sleeping bag and use ear plugs.  Be anti-social and really try to sleep. In reality, most people talk all night and just hang out. You might just want to pay someone to hold your place in line and go sleep.
Review those night time activities. How many of those parties do you really want to attend? Do you really need to watch anime at 3AM?
Take care of yourself and get some sleep. Once you are an SDCC Zombie do you want to return to work that way? Think about taking an extra day off work to rest and recuperate.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

#SDCC letter of the day Y for Yellow Journalism

I could take a stab at the press that doesn’t get it and even if they do get it their bosses don’t and always make SDCC look silly.
But I want to really mention the daily update that SDCC puts out.
It’s great and it’s an insult to call it yellow journalism. I found ‘Y’ as hard as ‘X’. So sue me.
I get the update first thing every morning.  Besides having a nice ’at a glance’ grid showing the panels and their locations for the day, it also has the cancellations, updates, and insertions.
As an autograph collector I find this invaluable. I learn about previously unannounced autographs.  Many of these are the studio autographs I have detailed in previous posts.
As I enter the building I pick up a copy from the little newsstands they place near many of the entrances. As I’m walking I’m flipping through the 4 pages. It’s not complicated and they have a standard format.  Within a minute I know what I need to know and I’m on the move.
If autographs aren’t your priority, they give a recap of the previous day.  If you missed something, you still might have a chance to see it.
Do you cosplay?  The daily update has photos and maybe you are now famous.
It will tell you if a panel is cancelled or a guest can’t make it. This will help you with your Plan B and Plan C.
The ‘at a glance’ grid is great for when are changing plans. It’s very easy to use and you won't waste time pulling out her program guide. I usually keep my daily update in my back pocket.
I bet you find it useful too.


#SDCC letter of the day X for Xyloid

Yes, xyloid is a word. Look it up.   
And yes, it’s a stretch. Really, how many ‘x’ words can you come up with and use in a SDCC setting?
It means woody or wood like.  I’m using it for the paper by-products you’ll be handed at SDCC.
So you braved the mosh pit known as Warner Brothers and got the cool oversized bag that you are dragging across the exhibition floor. Congrats. Hopefully no blood was shed.  Hopefully you are holding it off the ground so I’m not tripping over it.
So now what do you do?  Of course you fill that ‘totally cool and soon to be sold on eBay’ bag with the swag and other stuff you are handed at SDCC.
If you hang out at the corporate booths you will be handed a lot of stuff. Some of it is very cool. Some of it is interesting. Some of it you wonder why it’s sitting in a box a year later collecting dust.
I’m here to talk about that stuff; that stuff that sits and sits year after year.  The stuff that after you are gone your spouse and kids are wondering why you kept it.
Most of that stuff is paper based.
You pass the anime booth and they hand you samplers. Way cool.
Even some of the book publishers will hand out samplers and copies of books of the authors attending ComicCon. Pretty cool. 
Warner Brothers will have special edition copies of TV guide with 4 or 5 different covers.  You HAVE to have each one. It’s an EXCLUSIVE! Hell, you need more than one of each don’t you?  Too cool.
You pass the smaller movie studios and they will hand out temporary tattoos that are theme based on their new release or maybe give you a leaflet about the movie preview later that night or the schedule or panels they will be in. You might get a large or small movie poster from them. You do have your poster tube, don’t you?
Every small press vendor will have something to show and give you.
You leave the convention center and you will be bombarded by cute girls handing you postcards or business cards or leaflets about a short film playing at the ComicCon’s Independent Film Festival. Or maybe they are handing you a discount coupon for a restaurant in the Gaslamp.
At the end of the day you’ll have a lot of stuff in the bag.
It’s mostly paper and it will fill your suitcase when you fly home and it will put you over the weight limit and you’ll end up paying extra.  Been there - done that.
The simplest thing to do is NOT accept it.  You don’t have to take what they offer. Really just say, no. Politely of course.
This way you aren’t lugging it around all day. If you are backpacking like me, you don’t have room.  And if you walking miles and miles every day, that extra weight will wear you out.
I know. It’s hard to say 'no' to the cute booth babe that you just KNOW will give you her number after you accept her handout. That’s the way the world works.  So at the end of the day you have 5 pounds of stuff in your hotel room and no phone numbers.
Before you go to bed; before you plan out your next day's itinerary  – go through the stuff and throw out the duplicates.  Yes, you will have duplicates. Do it now. Now for the remaining crap – figure out what you really need/want. As you do this, keep in mind your poor spouse and kids after you are gone...
It will save you time when you are packing and it gives that nice maid that you are tipping each morning a chance to empty your trash cans.  You don’t want to leave on Monday morning and have a pile of rubbish 5 feet tall. Do you live in a Frat?
You will also find that a lot of the stuff is time sensitive. So why carry it around or keep it the next few days when the topic is already expired?  Also by looking at it now, you might find something to add to your itinerary.
This goes back to Keeping It Simple. Don’t clutter your room with all of the xyloid.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#SDCC letter of the day W for Water

Half your weight in ounces.
That’s a magic formula by the way.
You are supposed to drink that much water a day. More if you are drinking soda and coffee to replace the water the caffeine is removing from your body.
Are you working out? Doing intense cardio? You might end up doubling that.
Did you just fly into San Diego?  Airline recycled air is very dry. Just breathing is removing water from your body during a flight. Go ahead and drink some water right now.
The math – half your weight in ounces.
Well, I weight 240. I should be drinking 120 ounces a day for just being alive and sitting at a desk all day.
There are 16 ounces in a pint. That’s 7.5 pints a day. Almost a gallon.
Most of the water bottles you buy are ½ liters.  16.9 ounces is a ½ liter bottle. That’s just a little over 7 of those bottles a day. 
That’s a lot of water. It’s more than those 8 cups of water a day you were taught as a child. It means drinking water when you really aren’t thirsty. Being thirsty is a sign of dehydration. We want to avoid that.
I’m walking around and sweating at SDCC. So I need more water than that.
So let me dump 10 of those half liter bottle is my bag for the day.
A pint a pound the world around.  Another magic formula.
Those 10 bottles will be 10 pounds of extra weight.  I’m NOT going to carry an extra 10 pounds with me.
I bring 2 bottles and refill them throughout the day.  Many of the panel rooms have water coolers and I go in and sit for a few moments and drink. Then I’ll refill my 2 bottles and go my merry way.
So why am I pushing water?
What happens when you dehydrate? 
Your skin loses its glow. (But hey, I fit in that latex costume better!)
The muscles tire quicker and you can get cramps/Charlie horses.  (Look, I’m not sweating anymore!)
The cartilage starts to contract.  (I’ve lost 3 pounds by attending ComicCon!)
Think of cartilage was a sponge. As you dehydrate that sponge shrinks. That sponge is between 2 pieces of bone to act as a buffer. When that sponge shrinks the bones start pounding each other harder.  Pounding is not good.
You now have an ache in your knees and your back. That ache is slowing you down. You’re irritable. You are not enjoying yourself.  You’ll take aspirin and that ache is still there. You won’t sleep well that night and morning comes too soon.  You slowly get out of bed and feel hung over.
Hung over is not how you want to feel at SDCC, at least when you haven’t partied all night.
I did some rounding of the numbers but if weigh:
100 pounds - drink 3 of those ½ liter bottles
120 pounds - drink 3.5 of those ½ liter bottles
140 pounds - drink 4 of those ½ liter bottles
160 pounds - drink 5 of those ½ liter bottles
180 pounds - drink 5.5 of those ½ liter bottles
200 pounds - drink 6 of those ½ liter bottles
220 pounds - drink 6.5 of those ½ liter bottles
240 pounds - drink 7 of those ½ liter bottles
260 pounds - drink 7.5 of those ½ liter bottles
280 pounds - drink 8 of those ½ liter bottles
Be a good fanboy/girl and drink your water. Treat your body right and your body will drag you all over the convention floor and the Gaslamp District afterwards. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#SDCC letter of the day V for Vendors

Behind all the glitz and glamour of SDCC, there is the back bone of the whole event; the vendors.  Not just the Hollywood Studios and Marvel and DC but the rest.
They take up the entire exhibitor space of the floor. This is pretty astounding when you think about how many different booth/tables are there.
What are your goals? 
Are you looking for that that rare addition to your collection? 
A SCC exclusive you can sell on eBay?
 To make connections?
Someone to review your work?
It’s all there.  Review the program guide on line before you even set foot in the convention center and you can save yourself a lot of time.
Be organized.  Know what you want to buy and the price you are willing to pay. Introduce yourself and talk to the person with respect. Hand them a business card and let them know they can contact you if the price changes. If this sell doesn’t work, you are laying the foundation for the next one.
Need a mentor or a review of your work?  Many of the smaller press tables are willing to help. Only bring what you want to show. Be prepared to talk about your work.  Again, give out your business card and take theirs. You want to follow up with them with a polite email after the show regardless of their comments.
Looking for swag?  A lot of it’s is just paper and will fill your suitcase and cause it to be over the weight limit at the airport but vendors often have several tiers of swag.  There is the stuff for the common person that is just coming around with their hand out. Then there is the person that has a genuine interest in the product. Sometimes, just sometimes they have something special for you. 
I was talking to the Topps people about mis-cuts and ragged edges. After a few minutes they pulled out a metallic Star Wars card promo. It was mine.  And no, you can’t have it.
The vendors want to talk to you.  They want to get to know you because you hold the gold. If you aren’t buying their product they need to know why and either improve it or get something else to sell. And as the holder of the gold you need to be respectful and polite. To have this power you must understand your responsibility.
Vendors are the backbone and often taken for granted at ComicCon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

#SDCC letter of the day U for Un

Understand this is a big event and you will not do everything you plan
Take umbrage to the stereotype that the attendees are smelly pimply faced teens
Don’t be uncouth, remember your manners no matter how much Red Bull you are drinking
Uncertainty of the schedule and attending guest demands you be flexible
SDCC is the uncontested greatest show
SDCC has a certain unabashed style that charms thousands every year
The lineup of panels and guest is unparalleled
The claims of too Hollywood do go unrebuked
At times the juggernaut of SDCC seems unappeasable but it does listen to the fans
At times the convention floor is unaesthetic with the chaos of colors sounds and displays
To truly enjoy the diversity of SDCC let yourself be unarmored
At times the crowds are uncensored and crude but for the most this is not an issue
While some cosplayers are unartistic, the majority take great pride in their costumes
Stick to your budget and remain unbeholdened to the credit card companies
Finding your Inner Cow will allow you to remain unbothered by the small delays in the day
To enjoy yourself more, let your inner child out and be unchagrined
Unceasing activities will wear you out, pace yourself
SDCC seems undivorcable from San Diego
Undoubtedly you’ll want a few days rest after this weekend
Expect the unexpected at SDCC
Many fanboys/girls have unfailing devotion to SDCC
SDCC proves that geek-dom is no longer an underground movement, its mainstream
Enter the convention floor unpretentiously and revel in the riches you’ll find
Few of the crowd control problems remain unresolved the next day; they are quick to make fixes
While you may be left unsated at the end of the week, there is next year
Until next time,


Sunday, June 12, 2011

#SDCC letter of the day T for Tipping

Tipping what a tacky topic.
I can remember the first time I left a tip. A friend and I had lunch at the counter and we were splitting the check.  We were about 12 years old and felt very adult to be paying for our own meal and even more adult to be tipping. We spent a few minutes calculating the amount and making sure we gave the appropriate amount for the tip.  We counted out the coins and left the exact amount with the tip.
Afterward, my friend’s dad picked us up and asked if we remembered to tip.  We impressed him.  It was a feeling I haven’t forgotten.
Tipping has it rules and etiquette. There is something of an art to it.
Some people are good at it and some are bad.  The people I think are bad tippers are usually just naive.
I was a valet for over a year.  I worked for a company that would valet for private events.  For the most part, the gigs were parties at someone’s home. If you were throwing a party and hired 5 guys to show up and park cars, you were spending a lot of money.  We drove a lot of very expensive and some exotic cars.
I got the Heisman (slang – meaning not tipped aka stiffed. The pose of the trophy is a player with a stiff arm) many times. So tipping is something I know a lot of people don’t know how to do.  I have been over tipped and under tipped. At the end of the day you hope it evens out.
I found this site and it’s fairly comprehensive. With the service’s I’m going to bring up, I agree with the amounts.
Most of us are flying into SD. How did you get to the airport?  Did the shuttle take you?  Did you tip the driver? That’s 15% of the cost to get to the airport.
Did you get a friend to drive you?  Did you buy them gas and offer a meal?
Did you use offsite parking and took a shuttle?  That should be $1 or $2 a bag.  So if you have 3 bags, that’s a $3 to $6 dollar tip. Now in my opinion, if the guy that doesn’t get up to help with the bags he doesn’t get that tip. If he is just driving and using the level to open and close the door, he’s getting paid too much to start with.
Now you are at the airport. Did you use curbside check-in?  You need to tip those guys too. They get $2/bag. Again, 3 bags is a $6 tip.  If for some reason they tell you your ticket needs for you to go inside or they tell you they can’t load what you packed, don’t argue with them. Your luggage will end up in Siberia and your ComicCon is ruined before you’ve even got there.
You’ve landed and have your bags. Getting a taxi to the hotel?  Again there is a tip.  I don’t like taxis for various reasons and I have found that every SD taxi driver has a sign on their car stating they have a bad back and cannot load/unload your luggage. So they are getting just a tip for driving you – 15%. If you find the one with a good back – add the $1 to $2 tip per bag.
Taking the hotel shuttle (good for you), well now you are just tipping $1 or $2 per bag.
At the hotel don’t forget to tip the bell hop that is picking up your bags and taking them up to your room. Yes, that’s the $1 to $2 range.   
You’re in your room and flopped on the bed.  You can relax.  The shoes are off and the TV’s on. You are now actively flipping through the channels or your smart phone is on and you are checking your mail.
Did you rent a car?  You’ll be parking at the hotel. Whenever the valet retrieves your car, you need to tip him. $2 to $5 is the standard. The norm is to tip every time they hand you the keys. If you have the bright red Lambo, then you are tipping as you drop off to ensure they don’t pull a Ferris Bueller on you.
All this tipping has created an appetite and you need to eat, that’s the 15% to 20% range. The days of 10% to 15% are over. And going back to the Booth Babe post, the waitresses have heard it all before too. So tipping extra to flirt is wasting money.
You go back to the hotel and sleep.
Good morning.  Know what you are supposed to do now?  That’s right, tip.  The maid is to get a tip each morning because you messed up her clean room.  I usually do $5 a day. (I’m pretty neat; the wife is the messy one.) If you are sharing a room with 3 or more others, I would tip at least $10. If you have tons of beer bottles or trash from pizza or all those leaflets you’ve collected and decided not to keep, think about a $20.
Place the maid’s tip on the pillow in plain sight. Again, this is each day.
One thing I do before I start my trip is hit the bank and get a bunch of $5 bills. I want to ensure I have the right amount for the tips.
I’ll also set aside some money and leave it in the hotel for tips.  This way I don’t spend it.
So remember about tipping. It adds up fast and it’s part of your budget and your money management .


Lynda Carter B&N Frisco 6/11/11

I’ll admit to being too geeky when Wonder Woman aired to appreciate the beauty of Lynda Carter.  Now that I’ve met her in person, I understand why dad never missed an episode.
Actually, let me correct that, I think she is more beautiful now.
Lynda Carter came to Frisco, TX to sign her new CD, Crazy Little Things.  The B&N was nice enough to play her album during the signing so people like me that were more interested in meeting Lynda would actually be exposed to the music.  It’s what I’d call soft jazz and very relaxing.  There is no doubt, even to my uneducated ear, she has a great voice.
I got to the signing just as she walked to her signing table. The crowd was excited and flashes popped as dozens of photos were taken.  Lynda took time to chat with some of the people before she spoke up and thanked everyone for coming out to see her. For the whole event, a crowd surrounded the table watching her and taking photos. 
This is so cliché – she has a winning smile - but she really does.  I’m envious. I wish I could smile as nicely and naturally as she. It really is relaxing and disarming.
Everyone got a chance to sit down with her and say a few words. She never made anyone feel harried or unappreciated. The book store even had an employee take a photo of you with Lynda as you sat with her.
A man about 60 years old was in front of me. He was nervously excited and told the various strangers around him how he would have produced the current album differently.  We learned of what sound effects he would have used and his choices of songs. 
When he sat with Lynda I really think he started telling her those details. The smile never faltered. Her poise was unshaken. She listened and interacted. She thanked him and shook his hand. He was on cloud nine.
When I sat down it felt so personal. The crowds disappeared and I felt it was just her and me. She thanked me for coming and I told her I was happy she came to Frisco. We chatted  a little more and then shook my hand. 
Then I was on cloud nine.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

#SDCC letter of the day S for Stretch

Stretching – it’s not just for athletes.
When you get up in the morning, go ahead and try to touch your toes. Can you to it? That is a good sign you need to do more stretching.
I habitually stretch in the mornings.  I’m not talking about an hour of power yoga or Pilates or whatever the cool fad is. I’m talking about some basics.
Over 2 decades ago Kae and I had breakfast in bed in St Louis when we attended the National card show. When we finished eating I picked up the tray and felt very sharp pains in my back and I couldn’t breathe. As I spiraled to the ground in agony I concentrated on not dropping the service tray.  I lay on the floor and gasped for breath.  This was nasty pain.  Besides being intense it had totally blindsided me. Kae didn’t have a clue what was happening as moaned and coughed out a few laughs at the same time.
Yes, I both laughed and cried at the same time.  I was crying from the pain but laughing as I realized I was too young to be having an attack of the back.
It was back spasms. The spasm lasted several minutes.
The aftermath lasted several days.  The first day I could not pick up the bag I carry all day at the show.  The second day I could start twisting my body left and right to look at stuff but still experienced sharp pain.  The rest of the week was a constant dull ache.
It almost ruined my convention.  From then on I started morning stretching.  I never wanted that to occur again. And knock wood it hasn’t.
SDCC is a strain on the body.  You will be using muscles you normally don’t use or using them more than normal as you walk the floor or spend hours bent over looking at boxes of comics.
At the end of the day you are hurting and you will be even sorer in the morning.
This is what I suggest to ameliorate the issue.
I do all but 2 of these.  I don’t do neither the “relaxes Hamstrings, stretches calves, Achilles, and ankles” nor the Stretches the inner thigh, groin”; although maybe I should start.
I also throw in the cat stretch.  Doing all of this really doesn’t take much time.  I spend 15 minutes tops doing this. It’s a routine I have like shaving or drinking my morning Pepsi.  Do I skip some days?  Sure, just not at SDCC.
Now after 5 or 6 hours on the concrete walking around, I’ll take some private time and do some more stretching; maybe a minute or two. I find the cat stretch most beneficial for me.   After the sun has set and I’m sitting watching the Star Wars Awards or the Masquerade, the body tightens.  I try to work on my legs before getting up to catch the trolley home.
SDCC is a marathon and not a sprint.  You want to finish and feel good and not rue the day you decided to spend the week in San Diego.


Friday, June 10, 2011

#SDCC letter of the day R for Resist

Resist the urge to hit on every booth babe you see. Really, they have heard your line before and they are actually getting paid to be there.  They have seen you coming and they know that look and they are ready to repel you…in a way that makes you feel all warm and tingly inside.
The booth babes are there to draw your eyes to them. They literally litter the convention floor.  Once you see them, you’ll see the booth they work at even if it’s only peripherally.  At that point they can say mission accomplished.
Instead of thinking of them as some amazingly attractive girl in a skimpy and revealing costume smiling at you in a very provocative pose, think of them as actors instead of models.  Under all circumstances the show must go on…they are there to look interested in your nerdy bon mot. They will laugh appreciatory even though they didn’t understand a word you spoke in Klingon. They will pose for you and thank you with amazing eye contact and hand you whatever swag or propaganda they have in the friendliest way.
If your heart rate didn’t increase then they failed. They didn’t play the part just right.
The booth babe is an age old tradition. Because of the sea of people and products and general commotion, the booths need something help them stand out.  Even as you walk away from the corporate area, you will still find booth babes.
So now you know you won’t be dating a booth babe. What can you get out of this relationship?  Besides some awesome photos, you can get your swag. And being polite and friendly (not in a flirting way) can help make your life easier.

They will notice you. I now they recognize me quickly because of my height, glasses, and charming good looks. (Sarcasm people.)   I use that to help make a connection. Because they have something I want besides their phone number -  their swag.  So I always give them a warm smile and a 'thank you' when I get my swag. I’ll actually ask them how the day is going and if they have attended SDCC before.  So when I finally ask for something extra (like the 5 flashing LED pens for my team mates back in the office), I’m not just another in the long line of guys hitting on them. The odds have increased of actually getting them and not having to go through a long line 5 more times.

Not all booth babes are for the fanboys

And this is true with all relationships. You need to show interest in the other person no just yourself.
Just in case you don't believe me about booth babes check out G4TV's documentary on these ladies called Confessions of a Booth Babe  or Gizmodo's link.