Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Monday, January 31, 2011

Nichelle Nichols Sci Fi Expo

Last Saturday I mentioned I got Nichelle Nichols’ autograph.
This wasn’t the first time I got her signature. The first time was in 1977 (or maybe 1978) in a Holiday Inn in Philly.
It was the first convention I ever attend. My best friend Kee and I were overly excited; just like kids entering our teens would be when meeting our heroes.
Kee and I had more fun interacting with other fans than the actual programming. It was the first time we met other people that also enjoyed the show and the whole genre. There is something special when you can talk the same geek language with others. And it’s especially powerful the first times it happens.
I don’t remember much about meeting her. I do not I hung her signature, along with the others I got that weekend, on my wall for the next 5 years where the sun faded it.  What better way to hang something but with staples? I will admit to being an unsophisticated oaf that didn’t realize you could put the photo into a picture frame and THEN hang the photo. What a concept.
Getting this new autograph was fun. She looked gorgeous.
I will admit to flirting and I told her how beautiful her skin was. She graciously pretended like it wasn’t blatant flattery.   The few people behind me gave their endorsement that she was as beautiful as I told her.
I choose this photo as this was one of my favorite episodes. Of course as a true blue Trekkie it’s hard to pin me down to an episode that isn’t my favorite.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sci Fi Expo – Women of Sci Fi

Okay, this is not the recommended way of doing a convention but this really worked out for me today.
I showed up at 5:15PM when the place was scheduled to close at 6PM.
Just so we are on the same page - that’s 45 minutes until they shut down for the day.
I had a class that lasted MUCH longer than expected; that’s why I got there late.  
In fact, I had to hunt for the guy that was going to give me by attendance wrist band. He was packing up for the day.  I’m mean why not?  Who comes in at the last 45 minutes?  In fact, he even asked why I bothered showing up.
From his point of view it didn’t give me any time in the Dealers Room, I missed all of the panel discussions, and most of the signers were gone.
Dealer Room – I’m not into it.  No, really, I’m not.  It doesn’t do anything for me.  I never find anything I want.
The panel discussions - Well, I would like to do them but it’s not why I’m there. So if I miss the latest gossip, oh well.
Autographs – now we’re talking.  I’m there for the autographs.
But unlike 99.99% of everyone else, I got a parking spot 25 feet from the front door.
I didn’t have lines more than 2 or 3 people deep to stand in.
I got my 6 autographs, chatted with each of the ladies for a moment or two and got out of there in 30 minutes.
To recap - I got Morena Baccarin, Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Nichelle Nichols, Alaina Huffman, and Yvonne Craig in 30 minutes.
I didn’t have to see kids (or their parents) meltdown, I didn’t have to hear comparisons between old Battlestar and new, or get in touch with my Inner Cow as I stood in lines all day.
Should I do this every time?  No.  I lucked out this time.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lines, Lines, Everywhere Lines

(Apologizes to Five Man Electrical Band and their song Signs.)
Lines are at part of the autograph process, especially when going to an organized event.
Good comfortable shoes are a must.  Some water and something to eat are good to have to have also.
Most importantly, you need to embrace your Inner Cow.
It’s a Zen thing. It’s a Relax your Mind and Float Down Stream thing (Beatles).
If you don’t acknowledge and love your Cow, the lines will get to you.  Maybe not at first but after a few dozen lines that last several hours you will be beaten down. You will be crabby and you will lose your center. You’ll give up and be unsatisfied.
After you embrace your Cow, you’ll see lines when others don’t; the nominal wait of 2 hours will fly by; anxiety will vanish. It’s as simple as finding your Cow and loving him.
Even after you and your Cow are buds, it’s not all clear sailing, at times you will lose your center but you can often quickly find it again.
Hank Aaron
I lost sight of my Cow at The National a decade ago. I was in line for Hank Aaron. It was Sunday afternoon. He was late. My flight was only hours away.  I still needed to return the car and get to the airport. I had a numbered ticket that put me in the back of the line. I was stressing.  The inner turmoil of staying and getting the signature or leaving and ensuring I made the flight gave me heartburn. I fidgeted. I muttered under my breath. I took a breath and tried clear my mind. I made my decision. I found my Cow and I relaxed. If I missed the flight, I missed it. I’d deal with that latter.
I should have left though, not because I missed the flight but because the signature was awful. He was tired by the time he got to me and his autograph did not look like his customary one. Oh well.
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Seeing lines others don’t is helpful in getting a better position in a line. It can also backfire.  At my second ComicCon I was trying to find the line for Jennifer Love Hewitt. The booth was inside the convention floor but the line was out in the concourse.  The line wasn’t organized and the directions were vague. I found the line and saw I was about 50 people deep. Pretty good and I was happy with myself.
After a few minutes the line moved. Odd. The signing wasn’t for another 2 hours. Then the line inched forward again. And again it inched after a minute.  I asked someone to hold my place and then I tracked the line to the beginning.  It was a line for the ATM.  D’Oh!  I left chagrined and found another amorphous and that turned out to be the right one. While my position in the new line wasn’t as good as it was for the ATM line, I still got my autograph.
It's a Marathon
While holding onto your inner cow you realize it’s not a sprint but a marathon.  ComicCon is a good example of  lines being a mile long or lines lasting hours as people start camping out at 5PM for the 10AM opening.

Once one line is done, it’s time to find the next one, then the next. It’s a long weekend of Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
It's a sea of people that seemingly never ends.

By the end of the 5th day your feet, ankles, knees, and hips hurt. You have blisters and even after drinking lots of water you’re dehydrated.  But you have survived.
So embrace your Cow.
Moo...Moooo….Git along Little Doggies…Moo.. Moooo.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rangers Winter Caravan

This is a great time of year of for baseball autograph hunters.
All of the teams are trying to sign up their season ticket holders. They have players appearing in various locations throughout the towns and communities surrounding their host cities.  Whether they call it a ‘Caravan’ or a ‘FanFest’ or a ‘Dinner’, it means the same thing: accessibility to the players.
Which means people like me; I get the autographs that have become much harder to get at the ballpark.
Last weekend I attended the Rangers’ Caravan stop in Frisco. That’s my town; very convenient for me to drop on by. It was at the minor league park and the Rangers had 4 players and 2 coaches appear.
Because of the success of the Rangers last year (World Series appearance), the crowds that were normally 200 people at this event, swelled to 500 or more people. So the Rangers have limited the number of autograph for each player.  In the past, I finished with one guy and then got into another line until I had everyone.  
Even with the restriction I was able 4 autographs. I was happy. There’ll be other stops over the next few weeks where I can pick up more signatures.
Besides these 4 autographs, I was also able to get the Rangers’ new owner (Managing Partner) and CEO to sign a ball. He had an autograph table like the players and was very friendly and accessible.  He wore broken in sneakers, non-designer blue jeans and a sweat shirt.  He sat and greeted people and idly chit chatted. He wasn’t a bundle of energy or uptight.   
This is a nice change from the previous owner and hopefully bodes well for the franchise and fans.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rob Schneider – You can do it!

I was told that Rob Schneider was going to perform at the Addison Improv and he often signs after the show.
I’m sure you remember him from Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo. He is often in movies with Adam Sandler and he played a small albeit iconic role in The Waterboy where he shouts out ‘You can do it!’
I got to the Improv about an hour before his show ended. I wasn’t sure where he was going to be and I wanted to scout out the place. The Improv is on the second floor of a building which is shared with a piano bar. The corridor is narrow. One of the employees from the Improv was constantly shooing people out of the corridor before the next show started. I’m assuming it was for fire code reasons. She was a ‘tough one’.  I just hung out by the stairs and I must have looked like I was waiting for a date as she never bothered me.
When Rob Schneider’s finished his show, a few people left but more were standing by the Improv’s door taking pictures. I walked over to the entrance and wondered if I could walk in. I took a quick photo and the ‘tough one’ started telling people to move and ordering people to do this and that. She made some comment about if you wanted a photo you needed to get back inside and get in line.
I took that as an invitation.
I swam up stream to the back of the line and started the slow process back to Rob.
He was gracious and posed with everyone. He signed anything. He was selling CDs and t-shirts that read ‘You can do it!’  Unlike other actors that had a trademark, he embraced this and genuinely seemed at ease with it.  It was good to see no irritation as a fan or two would shout out his catch phrase.
He was personalizing everything.  As time passed, he ended up more in the corridor and outside people would butt in and he just calmly posed with them and shook their hands or signed something for them.
As I stood in line the lady in front of me assumed I saw the show.  She commented on this joke or that.  I just nodded my head and smiled appropriately.   She was impressed I brought some DVD covers for him to sign. I told her I was hoping I‘d get this chance so I was prepared.
When I got to the head of the line, I handed over the Deuce Bigalow cover and the cover from The Animal.  He asked my name and signed them both.  He added the comment that ‘Deuce Bigalow loves you’.
I shook his hand and thanked him and left.
I need to thank ‘anm2231’ at the Texas Autograph Club for the heads up.  I would have never known about this without his posting.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oh the horror…

Blood was everywhere. The Red Cross was on hand helping the dozens of people lying on their backs. People turned their heads to avoid seeing what was being done to them by the people in white.
Questions and questions were asked. People answered the best they could; creating a constant susurrus as a backdrop. The concourse echoed the names and numbers called out as the blood pooled and collected.
I saw it all. The confusion.  The brief reassuring smiles to one another as people moved from one location to another. I saw the nervousness, the anxiety, and the worry. From the chaos the order prevailed and then it was my turn.
I answered as best I could. Telling what needed to be told. Cooperating and refusing to show my concern.  I even joked hoping I could ease the mood and tension.
Then the sharp pain and the reassurance that all was going well.
I gave my pound of flesh.  Well, a pound of blood.  I made my donation of blood at the American Airline Center last Friday so I could get an autographed hockey puck. The hoops we’ll jump through for a signature.
The Dallas Stars had their blood drive and I participated.   
It was quick and fairly painless.
In return, I got a Steve Ott signed puck, a voucher for 2 tickets, and a coupon for $25 off my next American Airline ticket.  A pretty good trade for an hour of time and tired old blood.  How cheaply we sell ourselves.
And as an added bonus, I got to eat all the free Oreos I could stomach. And if you know me, I can eat a lot of Oreos. I sure they were happy when I left the recovery area.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sins of collecting

This goes along with the poll question I have on the right side.
Please feel free to respond to the poll and comment on the blog.
Also, let me know of any other sins you’re seen/committed.

Confusing the person with another –
Yes, I’ve seen it. I’m always careful about that especially with authors. Those photos on the back of the book don’t always look like the person signing.  And if it’s a table of several authors, I try very hard to match names to faces or books with names as the people in front of me get their books signed. I’ll even very quietly ask the people running the event if they can help me with who’s who.
Kae, the wife, and I attended a Texas Rangers dinner. It was a fun event where we dressed up and got to hang out with the several baseball players and their girlfriend/wives.   It was an event you could approach the players and ask for an autograph.  At the time the Rangers and the Dallas Stars (Hockey) teams were owned by the same person and the players between the teams did interact.  I saw Brett Hull at this baseball event and asked him for an autograph. I only brought baseballs for signatures and as he saw me with the ball he preemptively stopped me saying he didn’t play baseball. He thought I had confused him someone else.
I told him I knew he played hockey and I knew who he was. He relaxed and asked if I had something else to sign other than a ball. I told him no, but it would be a neat story to tell. He smile and signed.

Told someone you loved them in something they weren’t in –
Not me, but I saw it. It was funny in a painfully embarrassing way.  My friend DeeVee is friends with Kenny Miller. They are close. Kenny was at ComicCon and DeeVee told me to look him up. So I did.
I came over to Kenny’s table and he was talking to a fan. The fan had the autograph in his hand and just chatted away. I politely remained a few steps back but I was listening and watching. The fan didn’t know when to stop. Kenny was in a few movies (I was a Teenage Werewolf, Attack of the Puppet People, etc.). I listened as the rambled and finally said he loved Kenny in other movie. Kenny paused. Kenny politely said he wasn’t in that movie. Now, I don’t know Kenny’s  IMDB credits. But I figured if he said he wasn’t in a movie, he probably wasn’t. The fan never paused and told him emphatically that ‘sure he was’. He played character ‘so and so’.
Again Kenny paused and calmly said – I think I’d remember that. Again the fan just rambled on and gave some bits of dialogue from the movie. A train wretch. I stepped up and said something to interrupt them.
What have you been in? –
Candance Kita was signing. She is a beautiful lady and she draws people to her table just with her looks. She crossed my radar when she was in a short lived series called Complete Savages that Mel Gibson helped produce and he even directed a few episodes. Mel had a reoccurring cameo. Candance worked with Mel and she always died at the end of his scenes.
I was excited to met her and get her signature. Another guy was in front and looking over her photos and her swim suit calendar.  He was a moth draw to her beauty. And then he asked – Now what have you been in?
She didn’t miss a beat. She started rattling off movies. Then I jumped in and said – Complete Savages.
You could see the relief in her face. I was her hero. I knew who she was. It wasn’t going to be a day of no one knowing her. 
She turned to me and asked if I liked that show?  The other guy was ignored and soon left. He wasn’t going to get an autograph. He was checking out a ‘hot chick’. Everyone knew it; he just didn’t admit it to himself yet.
We talked a good 15 minutes.  She told me about working with Mel and how funny he was. She loved the character she played and they both created a list of future death scenes for the show.
At the end she gave me some extras that she signed. I also got a big hug like we were old friends.  
I immediately told the wife so I could make her jealous.

Talking about someone else’s autograph you want –
Another ComicCon experience. I was standing in line to get Bill Amend to sign a book of FoxTrot. I love that comic strip. The line wasn’t long but it was slow. Bill was talking with people and doing little doodles along with his signature; just like a lot of artists do.  The signing was at the Andrews McNeel booth so of course they had lot of different books on display to promote their artists. One of the books was for Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson.
The guy behind me tried to start a conversion with me. He didn’t have very good conversation skills and I did my best not to engage. That didn’t stop him from talking though.  As the norm with people willing to hold conversations with themselves, he was loud and his voice carried. He talked about anything and everything. Then he saw the Calvin and Hobbes books and the thus was spoke – Now that’s an autograph I’d really like to get. I cringed. My eyes quickly darted to the front of the line to see if Bill Amend heard. He had to have heard. He was only 5 or 6 feet away. Like a pro, Bill Amend continued talking and drawing.
I got the front of the line. I handed over my book. Bill looked at me and asked if I would prefer Watterson’s autograph instead. Bill heard alright. And he thought I made the comment. I admit I was caught flat footed. I didn’t think I would be associated with this sin. I panicked. I felt no shame in admitting that I threw that other guy under the bus.  With pupils dilated with fear, I said in no uncertain terms – not me – that was him! And I even turned and pointed. Bill signed my book. I took it and I did not wait to see what happened next.
As I mentioned, let me know your experiences with these sins.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rachel Ray – Look + Cook

A few weeks before Christmas, Borders had Rachel Ray in for a signing to promote her book Look + Cook.
I used to have a crush on Rachel Ray so it was a natural for me to want this autograph.
Borders handed out wrist bands the morning of the event. I got there about 20 minutes after they opened and waited in line with a bunch of soccer moms.  I was only the second guy in line. The other man was silver haired and about 70. From the hints of the conversations I caught, it seemed I got there at the perfect time. There was a line outside before the store opened.  So if I got out of bed any earlier I would have just been wasting time.
The other guy was stuck with the crowd before the store opened. He was there to do his last minute Christmas shopping. All he wanted was a Sandra Dee cookbook. As he purchased it, the cashier asked if he wanted a Rachel Ray book too as she would be signing that night. He gave her a look of – don’t bother me with such foolishness.  I had to smile. It’s a hard look to master and he did it well.
My books were bought and I left.
When I returned later that day, I was only an hour early or so. The wrist band reserved my place in line so there wasn’t much need to arrive earlier. Having just finished a soda I was hopped up on caffeine and sugar.  If you know me, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.  Not a bad thing but not exactly good.
The people around me were nice. That was their first mistake. They even smiled at my silly comments. That was their second mistake.  Nothing encourages my silly behavior more than laughing at my lame jokes. I had a glorious 30 minutes entertaining the people around and asking odd ball questions and actually getting answers.
Then my wife arrived. Feeling somewhat guilty about entertaining several very pretty women, I toned down my personality. Not that I was flirting but of course the wife will not believe you.  When she wandered off to look at some other books, I started talking again. 
Rachel arrived and did a TV interview. She then came over to the signing table and quickly worked through the crowd. She had her technique down pat. If you had a stack of books, she wrote with her right hand and pushed the top book off the stack with her left and she immediately attacked the next book. She was a machine. Even as fast as she was, she still talked with the people as they came to the table.
I told her about my mom and wife’s trip to NYC and seeing her show. She asked if they enjoyed it and I said the loved it. She smiled big and said ‘Awesome!’ in that classic way of hers.
After I turned away from the able, my wife and I left to go eat.  We decided to have a hearty meal at McDonald’s.   We spent the next 20 minutes pawing through the recipes in the new Rachel Ray book as we gobbled Big Macs and French Fries.