Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dear Snooki, All I want for Christmas…

Snooki (Nicole Polizza) crossed my radar with the first episode of Jersey Shore 5 years ago. TiVo listed the show as a group of teens working summers job at Seaside Heights.
Hey, I’m from Jersey.  As a kid, my family would spend a day at Seaside during the summer.  We would get up early and take the long drive to Seaside and end up baking on the sand and freezing in the water.  After being burnt and scoured we’d spend the late afternoon on the boardwalk playing games and maybe if we were lucky ride a few rides on the piers.  It was a good time with lots of happy memories.
So nostalgically I looked forward to the show.  30 years makes a difference.  This was a different side to Seaside than I remembered.  If I knew this was on MTV, I would have realized it was not my cup of tea.  I never watched another episode.  The few times I’d watched Talk Soup, I was shown ‘highlights’ that didn’t change my impression of what the show was or where it was going.
Somehow Snooki never really left my radar. And apparently she never left anyone else’s either. Regardless of what I heard, I still liked her.  I wanted her to rise above the chaos of her ephemera celebrity-hood and actually succeed.  So I was happy she wrote a book.  While it’s the ‘in thing’ to do, it’s a start to realizing that the ‘celeb’ thing only lasts so long. Unless you put some effort into it your 15 minutes is gone before you realize it. Then she had a second book.  It looks like she is putting in the effort as she now has a line of suntan lotions and a perfume.
The perfume is where I crossed her path.
The Perfumania in the Allen Outlet Mall hosted Snooki for a photo op to promote her new fragrance on December 16th; just in time for Christmas.
I got there early and saw a lot of hard core fans.  The demographic was girls from the 13 to 20 years age range.  Like I have mentioned before for other glamour celebs, many of the girls were inspired the celeb’s look. There were already a lot of Snooki wannabes in line.  I’m sure the count was artificially inflated by advertized gifts going to the best Snooki look-alikes.
Since I could have been these girls’ father or even grandfather, I choose not to hang out with them. I left and came back closer to the start time. Earlier, I had bought her perfume and that guaranteed me a spot. I wasn’t really worried about being first or even last.
As always, I listened in on other people’s conversations. I’m bad that way. One girl near me was disappointed she wasn’t one of the chosen look-alikes.  Then her friend told her she looked more like JWoww than Snooki. I saw a few tears.
I waited outside for a few hours as the line slowly moved.  Periodically people would come running out excited that Snooki gave then a signed copy of her new book. They would rapidly regale how beautiful and nice and friendly and cool Snooki was - all done withut taking a breath.  The girls around me would stretch their necks trying to get close enough to hear the last details.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Patricia Cornwell Red Mist B&N December 2011

It was a dark and stormy night…well it was dark…and wet...although not really stormy...and this is the wrong kind of intro for this author.
While I never read one of her books, I do know Patricia Cornwell is a big name author.  My wife even surprised me by telling me the name of the main character: Scarpetta.  Patricia Cornwell is part of the culture and I wanted her autograph.
I got to the book store late and was basically at the back of the line.  I had still had some spare time and I spent it reading while I waited for the Red Mist signing to start.
When Patricia Cornwell arrived she spoke for a few minutes; telling us that she never planned on writing for a living. Tennis pro was the first thing in her mind.  She mentioned her first 2 books didn’t sell and after working for 6 years did she came to write her third book which was a murder mystery.

Monday, December 19, 2011

#SDCC tips RACI Recap

We looked over some Risks, Assumptions, Constraints, and Issues.
Does it stop there?  No, you don’t want them collecting electronic dust.
You need to review them, and see if items need to be added or removed or modified.

Let’s take hotel rooms for example.
You have an assumption you will need a room AND that you will get a room.
Hotel rooms have a constraint on availability and price.
You hotel room Risks are getting a room, getting a room within your budget, getting a room that is convenient, and not being ‘lost’ in the system.
You try to mitigate your hotel Risk by booking a backup room or getting a roommate to split the cost, or you may rent a car to ensure you can travel to the convention center.  You may just accept the Risk that you will be lost in the system as you have no control over that and the likelihood is small.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Penn and Teller SDCC 2010

The first time I got Penn and Teller’s autographs was unplanned.
Over 20 years ago I dragged my wife to see them at the Majestic in Dallas and after the show we saw them out front signing for everyone and anyone.  The autograph sickness hadn’t taken hold of me then so I wasn’t prepared and I had them sign the ticket stubs for the show.
Where I put them for safekeeping worked so well, I am unable to find them 20 years later.  We have moved twice since them so I’m sure those autographs are long gone.
When I saw that they were going to do a performance at SDCC I knew I could get them to sign and I knew what I wanted them to sign.
Back in 1989 they published a book called Penn and Teller’s Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends. Since I worked at a book store I bought a copy and I got a nice employee discount too.  I read the book and enjoyed it and I kept is over the years.  It’s not in mint shape but it’s in nice enough shape to get signed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

#SDCC tips Assumptions – it’s NOT too early to plan

This isn’t a complete list of assumptions but it’s something to think about and help you prepare.
Over the course of these posts, I’ll be harping on some points endlessly.  That’s part of the methodology.  Preparation is only worth what you put into it and what you get out of it. You can be grossly underprepared and you can be over prepared.  Both will cause you to your waste time and money.
Assumptions are those things that should discussed to ensure everyone is on the same page. Level setting and sanity checks are part of it also.  False assumptions lead you down a dark path and if not caught soon enough you might not recover.
So you create your list and review them with your friends and fellow SDCC veterans.
Here are some easy ones to get your brain warmed up:
Tickets, Hotel, Travel Plans, and Budget – the first assumption is you will be able to obtain all of these.
The second assumption is they will not change.  The flight won’t be cancelled, or your budget won’t be cut or the hotel overbooked.  (Side bar – with American Airlines filing bankruptcy – what happens if they reduce flights or close up?  That is a new Risk – does your current handling plan cover that scenario?)
Language – English is the official language of the geek.
Monetary – all prices and sales are in US Dollars.
Large ticket items can be purchased with a Credit Card.
Dates – the convention will NOT arbitrarily change the date or duration of the convention.
You will NOT be dragging a Booth Babe back to the hotel.
Past SDCC has had free Wi-Fi - this year should too.
No matter how well you plan, you cannot see, do, or buy everything.

Some negative assumptions:
You can take your roller board bag into the convention center since you will be buying a lot of stuff. (You can’t. Every other convention allows this. In reality SDCC will not allow this.)
You cell phone will work to call friends and family. (In reality it’s spotty coverage.)
Everything on display at a booth is free to take home. (Many of the independent or small press tables do not have freebies or samples to hand out.)
The swag has value. (Remember, the swag that was handed out was free. They handed out tons of it. The swag has limited value and that value has a short shelf life.)
That should start you off on the right foot.
Good luck,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

John Steakley WorldCon 97 and ConDFW 2009

I stumbled across the book Vampire$ written John Steakley at Waldenbooks. This was long before the John Carpenter movie.  The book thrilled me and I handed out a few copies to friends. Later I discovered John Steakley wrote another book (years earlier) called Armor  that was just as fast past and entertaining and fun.
When I attended my very first WorldCon (LoneStar Con 2 in 1997) I was excited to see that John Steakley was going to attend. I brought my copy of Armor to get signed. It wasn’t a first edition but it was a copy I read and wanted to have him sign the book.
I showed up at the panel he was going to be sitting on and waited.  He didn’t have an autograph session scheduled for the convention so I was hoping to catch him either before or after the discussion.  He wasn’t there when the panel started.  John was 15 minutes late and as I later found out that was not too uncommon of an occurrence for him.

Monday, December 12, 2011

#SDCC tips Issues – it's NOT too early to plan

This isn’t a complete list of Issues but it’s something to think about and help you prepare.
Over the course of these posts, I’ll be harping on some points endlessly.  That’s part of the methodology.  Preparation is only worth what you put into it and what you get out of it. You can be grossly underprepared and you can be overprepared.  Both will cause you to your waste time and money.
Issues are actually problems.  Sometimes there are Risks where the Handling Plan failed, unforeseen problems, or a sign you didn’t spend enough time preparing.
If you can foresee the Issues then they are Risks and you can plan for them and try to mitigate them.
It’s a subtle difference but a difference nonetheless.
Since you can’t plan for Issues you can use Lessons Learned from others to help plan your Risks and avoid Issues.
I’ll throw some out there some of the issues I’ve encountered over the years at various conventions.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kristin Chenoweth Some Lessons Learned

There is three parts to this and a quiz.
I was very excited when I learned Kristin Chenoweth was coming to town.  I just adored her in Pushing Daisies and I’m sure every Gleek and Wicked fan in the world adores her for those shows.
She was in town doing to a couple of things which meant several opportunities to get her signature.

Friday, December 9, 2011

#SDCC tips Constraints – it's NOT too early to plan

This isn’t a complete list of constraints but it’s something to think about and help you prepare.
Over the course of these posts, I’ll be harping on some points endlessly.  That’s part of the methodology.  Preparation is only worth what you put into it and what you get out of it. You can be grossly underprepared and you can be overprepared.  Both will cause you to your waste time and money.
Constraints and risks can be aligned but risks are things you can manage and constraints are things you have limited or no control over.  These are obstacles you need to be aware of and work around. Your Risk Planning should make you aware of these things. Your Mitigation Plan will help with workarounds. But remember you can’t change the laws of physics.  
Passes to the SDCC – Yes that is a constraint besides being a risk.  The constraint is the limited number of passes to the event, whether you are an attendee, press, or special guest.
Flights – Again, a limit to the number of seats on the plane. You have no control on the amount of seats on the plane and no control over the airlines to add more flights for the convention.  Don’t pack yourself into a box and have Fed Ex deliver you.
Hotel Rooms – while more rooms are added to the downtown area every year, there is a limit.  Your access to these rooms is also limited as you need to  work through a travel agency and not the individual hotels.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Robert Culp SDCC and Chiller Theater 2008

I saw Robert Culp as I was walking through the booths at SDCC.  He was sitting at a table in front of prints from Greatest American Hero.  Not quite off the beaten trail but not in the heavy traffic area either.  I was moving through these aisles to avoid the worst of the traffic jams. 
I was surprised. I hadn’t expected to see him there so I walked over and said hello. I think he was about to leave to eat or something and  I told him I’d come back later but he waved off that comment and told me to stay.
This is the guy I saw in Greatest American Hero and later on Everyone Loves Raymond and dozens of others movies and shows.  But I really remember him most from the Glass Hand episode from Outer Limits. When I told him that, he paused and looked over the table and pulled out the photo.  I smiled.  I had seen that photo within seconds after I approached him and knew that was what I wanted signed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#SDCC Tips Risks - it's NOT too early to plan

Over the course of these posts, I’ll be harping on some points endlessly.  That’s part of the methodology.  Preparation is only worth what you put into it and what you get out of it. You can be grossly underprepared and you can be over prepared.  Both will cause you to your waste time and money.

Passes - The biggest risk is actually getting passes to ComicCon.  Over the years it’s been selling out faster and faster and in 2011 the 4 day preview night badges sold out before the end of the 2010 show. Ugh.
Mitigation – Information is power. Keep plugged in to when the tickets go on sale.
You can work with others to collectively pool your internet resources and work on buying passes when they go on sale.  Meaning that 4 of you are all trying to buy passes at the same time and when someone gets in you buy 4 passes. The best case scenario is all for buy 4 passes (16 sold). The negative is more passes are sold to people than they need and now more passes need to be returned and resold.  It’s a waste of time, energy, money for everyone.
You could work on getting a press pass or a panelist/special guest badge.  Both are hard to get and are becoming harder to get each year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Olivia Munn – can’t escape the long arms of AH

There are advantages to being tall.
It was the 2007 or 2008 ComicCon I had Olivia Munn on my grocery list. G4TV was coming of age and she was one of the stars.   I liked that she was very pretty and silly and willing to dress up for the cause of getting viewers.
Long before I knew about copying a file to a flash drive and getting Sam’s to print it, I found this photo and printed it at home.  It turned out all right but it’s not great.
I was ready to stand in line to get her autograph at the show.  It was one of the raffle events at SDCC so you never know in advance if you would win.  So I came with a Sharpie and a clipboard and my long arms. I did win a raffle ticket and dutifully stood in line. The kids around me were in awe of the photo and asked how I got it.  Being kids, I figured they already knew the power of the internet.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Brent Spiner ComicCon 2009

(Trumpets fanfaring) A long Time ago, in a ComicCon far far away…no wait, wrong franchise.
(Cue Theremin) To seek out geek life and new autographs…To Boldly go where … that’s better.
Star Trek was a staple as I grew up. So Next Generation was anxiously awaited and became a stable in the house that I had with my wife.
SDCC has been an excellent place for me to get autographs from the crew of the Next Generation.  I pick up one or two a year.  Brent Spiner was doing a booth signing. The line was short so I joined it.
The lady in front of me was young and attractive. When she got to front of the line, she and Brent hit it off. I think they both lived on the same street at one time.  They did what people do when they have something in common. They exchanged a short hand of information back and forth that others might not understand so I really don’t know the details even though I was 2 feet from them.