Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Friday, October 29, 2010

Alton Brown

You know Alton Brown.  Everyone knows Alton Brown. Heck, I don’t even watch the Food Network and I know Alton Brown. When my wife is watching Good Eats, 9 times out of 10, I’ll pause to watch.  I can’t say that about Rachel or Paula.
Good Eats has something that appeals to the geek in me. He presents in a way that gives me that ‘aha’ moment while watching a cooking show.  For him to do that is remarkable. To me a cooking show is like watching paint dry. Usually a good way for me to lose my appetite is to watch a cooking show. Enough said.
Alton Brown was one of the authors for the Texas Book Festival. So when we were in Austin, we planned on getting him too.
I bought 4 copies of his new book, Good Eats 2; one more for me; one for mom’s upcoming birthday; and two for friends.  Now his new book is big; not only big but heavy. Close to 10 pounds.  It cost me $10 to mail back to mom, that’s how heavy it was. So I was dragging 4 of these tomes around for several hours.
The signing was away from the Capitol. I think Central Market did the arrangements and they picked a spot that was good for them. The signing was at night. It was also a ticketed event that no one knew about. Well, about 200 Central Market shoppers knew as they had the tickets but the other 400 people that showed up did not know.
Alton Brown and Central Market knew about the extra people and he promised to stay until everyone got their books signed. Very cool of him.
The ticketed people got to be inside and sit in chairs while Alton did a 30 minute question and answer session.  Good for the ticketed but not so good for the rest of us. Luckily it was a beautiful night although we were stuck on the sidewalk.
Every now and then we would hear the crowd inside laughing. Nothing like a little salt in the wounds. First we don’t have tickets.  Then we don’t have seats. And now we don’t get to hear the comedian, Alton Brown.
About 10 minutes later an employee from Central Market came out and related the latest joke that Alton told. She walked down the line and she repeated herself after every 30 people or so. When she reached the end of the line she started back toward the front with a different tidbit from Alton. Again very cool.
So our human tweet (the girl working the lines with Alton Bon Mots) told us he will be writing a kids book soon because his kid asked him to.
When Alton was asked what other chefs we should be watching on Food Network he responded that we should we only watching him and buying his DVD’s and books. Well, I thought it was funny.
When the signing started there was a lot of chaos. Being outside, we were in the dark about what was happening. We saw a lot of people leave the area but no one was being let in the room. Standing in line a good hour before the event started and waiting another hour and not moving caused some stress especially when the feet and lower back started complaining.
Now we saw the ‘human tweet’ come out and start looking through the line. It appeared she was counting heads.  I hate that. Is usually means they will cut off the line and not everyone will get their autograph.  A few minutes later she led a few people from the back of the line into the room.  A little later a few more people are led inside.  A lot of question marks popped up over people’s heads. One of the guys in front of me went to the people guarding the door to find out what was happening.  He was told that Alton requested that people with kids, or the elderly, or the handicapped be taken care of first.  Very nice of him. My feet hate Alton but my heart was okay with the decision. 
As I said my feet hate Alton. It was another 1 ½ hours before we got inside the room. Inside the room we waited another 30 minutes but adrenaline is pumping because we crossed the threshold.
He was very efficient and cordial. He stood at a podium to do the signing. He was relaxed and he shouted “Next!” when he finished with that person. He directed the scene. He made sure all of the parts kept moving.  He signed and chit chatted.  He chatted as he posed for a few photos.  When you were done he handed back the book and shouted for the next person.
All of the sudden he stopped. He walked away from the podium and into the area with the seats. A lady was sitting with her 6 or 7 year old daughter sleeping on her shoulder. He talked to her for a few minutes and then the lady called her husband out of line. Alton took the book from the hubby’s hand and signed it. They chatted as the kid slept. Now the kid could go to bed.
When our turn came I lifted the bag with 40 pounds of books to the podium and tried not to grunt from the effort.  He signed each book as I asked him about flying.  A friend of mine clued me in that he flew himself to location whenever he could (Thanks DeeVee!).
You could tell he was happy to have a non-cooking question.   He admitted he loved to fly and really enjoyed traveling that way. He regretted the costs in NYC were too much to house his plane there otherwise he’d commute to work that way. He handed back our books and shouted “Next!” as we turned away very content after a long day of collecting.

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