Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Monday, May 30, 2011

SDCC letter of the day G for Gum

Gum, that’s right I said gum. Go ahead and laugh I don’t mind. I’m used to being laughed at.
I said gum and I’m sticking to it.  (Pun was intended.)
I chew a lot of gum in general and it’s a habit I keep at ComicCon.
First, it’s a good way to help clean the teeth while you’re away from your toothbrush.
Two, it helps keep the breath fresh. No one like bad breathe and while fanboy/girl might be really cute, if you are standing 5 feet away to talk to them, something is wrong.  Gum won’t cure extreme bad breathe but it helps keep the mouth moist and that saliva is keeping the bad breathe at bay for a while.
Third, offering a stick of gum while waiting in line is a great way of saying hello. It’s a nice inoffensive ice breaker. You can gauge a little about the person if they accept or decline. Usually a few sentences are exchanged and then you can decide if you want to further the conversation.
I often offer some gum up to the people I’m asking questions to. That means my pack of gum is a prop. I have it in my hand as I approach the security guy or the person in charge of the autographs or whomever. I walk over with a wrapped piece and BEFORE I unwrap it I ask if they would like some.  Then I go ahead and ask my question. They tend to remember you in a good way.   Now, you are your way to a nodding acquaintanceship.
We all need more nodding acquaintanceships in our lives.

Farrah Forke ComicPoolza 2011

I was wandering around the convention floor looking for Farrah Forke. She was the red-headed helicopter pilot on Wings. 
A secret about me – I love red-heads. I love blondes and brunettes too but I always do a double take for re-heads.  And before you think you can get me into trouble with the wife, the wife already knows.
So I was wandering and wandering.  Farrah Forke was at a booth and not with the other guests and that was why I was having a hard time finding her.
After working up a good sweat I saw her. She was sitting and I just walked up.
I held out my hand as I told her I was looking for her everywhere.  What a non sequitur to start with. She was visibly nonplussed.  She looked at me hard as she tried to figure out how she knew me and why she didn’t know my name.
Now, I’m not mean, I realized I was excited because I finally found her, so I tried to slow myself down and let her catch up.  I said I’ve spent the last 30 minutes looking for her.  She smiled.  I said I was here for an autograph and that seemed to help her realize I was a fan. I wasn’t someone trying to tow her car or someone telling her she needed to be at another booth. I was just another nutty fan that had too much caffeine.
Then I admitted to Farrah about my huge crush on her. And yes, before you go running to the wife, my wife knows. Really. Trust me; do you ever think a wife doesn’t know?
Farrah was so happy about my crush she came around the table and hugged me.  I apologized for being sweaty and she hugged me tighter.
Now I had to slow my breathing again. This was way too much excitement for me.
We talked. We swapped details about each other. I found out about the twins and she found out about my wife’s 4 cats. She heard about my new job and I heard about her move to Texas.  We talked finances and property values and making ends meet. She told me about her first convention a few months back and how she ended up at this one.  I know about her boyfriend and she knows about my wife.  We people watched together and asked me to sit with her awhile.
Then we sat and talked some more.
Farrah was very open and down to earth. She was so down to earth I felt guilty about hanging out with her.  Conventions are working time for celebs.   I realize that and respect that.  I never want to prevent others from getting an autograph or taking a photo.  You’ll often see me turning around looking for fellow fans as I’m talking a celeb.  Besides not wanting to trip over a fan I want to make sure I don’t monopolize the guest.
She has a talent I very much envy. She remembers names.  I mentioned my name when we shook hands and she remembered it 30 minutes later when she signed my photo.
She also has a talent of making everyone feel like old friends. Everyone that came to her table was treated like someone she knew previously.  And she remembered all of their names as she introduced people around.
I’m always amazed when people do this.  It’s a powerful talent and very charismatic and disarming. How can you not like someone that can makes you feel like an old friend and remembers your name?
After the wife texted me (I’m sure she was worried that I had run off with Farrah), I gave up my seat and told Farrah I needed to collect the wife. We parted with another hug heartfelt and yes, I was still slightly sweaty.
The wife and I did some other things and before we left for the day I stopped back to say hello/goodbye.  Farrah charmed the wife and told us to friend her on Facebook. I told her I’d blog about her.  I thanked her for letting me have so much time with her and she said it was her pleasure.

After hugs all around, we left for the day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SDCC letter of the day F for Friends

ComicCon is better with friends.
As you split up to do different things during the day, you might stumble across something that will interest your friend that they didn’t know about. Now you’re a hero by letting them know about it.
Your friends are there to encourage you to approach that artist or celeb you’ve always wanted to talk with. They are there to remind you not to make a fool out of yourself. They will tell you how bad/good you look the spandex.
And what is better than sitting down at the end of the day to retell your adventures and share photos?
I have found bringing new friends allow me to see things through their eyes. I must admit, though I often abandon them in my own excitement of attending ComicCon.  So keep that in mind as your newbie friends are attending the show; they are looking for some guidance.
ComicCon is a great place to meet people. Even if you don’t make friends, you‘ll met people you’ll talk to and recognize next time. You might even become Facebook friends and keep in touch all year long.


SDCC letter of the day E for Eat

You are what you eat.
Garbage in Garbage out.
Pretty simply.
As I mentioned before you will be burring through the calories at ComicCon.  If ComicCon was 365 days a year we would all be in great shape except for the fact of what we eat when we are there.
Are you a donut and coffee morning person? Funoins and Pepsi?  You might want to rethink that.
You want carbs as you are burning them off. You also want some protein to help balance the sugars and the mood swings. I’m not an expert but you don’t need to be emotionally ping ponging all day long because of junk food.
Eat breakfast – or if you are going to the show very early, then have a snack bar that is a meal replacement. I’m not meaning make the snack bar a replacement for a meal but get a snack bar that has enough nutrition in it to replace a meal.
I carry several bars with me every day. I have one what is tasty (mostly flier and nuts) and the other that is mostly protein. I’ll eat something on the trolley ride to the convention center and drink my bottled water.
And a few hours later (9AM-ish), I’ll eat some more while waiting in line. 
Since I’m on the go most of the day I’ll be eating more bars for lunch and my mid-afternoon snack.
I’ll leave the convention center for a good dinner around 6PM-ish.
At the convention center you can get your fill of hot dogs, cookies, and pizza. They even have some salads. They serve water, soda, and some Gatorade type drinks.  The lines are very long around meal time.  I hate waiting 45 minutes when I’m hungry and cranky to get some junk food especially when I have places to go and people to see.
So learn to eat at non-peak time (and any time between 1PM to 5PM is peak times) or bring your own.
There are small convenience stores near the Gas Lamp District. A short walk will get your there. Or you can hire a taxi. If your hotel is further out, you can find a grocery store and stock up. The hotel I stayed at has a grocery store about 4 blocks away.
There are many places to eat in the Gas Lamp District (just across the street from the convention center). If you want something casual and fairly quick, try the subway. If you want casual and a waiter, try Dick’s Last Resort. And if you want fine dining, they have that too. I love the Strip Club. It’s not that kind of place.  It’s a restaurant where you actually cook your own steaks. If you want quirky and ComicCon-ish – Try Café Diem (AKA Mary Jane’s). The theme is based on the SyFy channel’s Eureka restaurant.
I reserve these places for my dinners. It’s my chance to get off my feet and relax and catch up with friends. After an hour of sitting I’m usually recharged for the evening activities.


Friday, May 27, 2011

SDCC letter of the day D for Decisions

I’m telling you right now; there is no way you will be able to do everything you want to do at ComicCon.
Even if you didn’t have to fight the crowds and the long lines, you would not be able to see everything.
ComicCon has that many quality panels and vendors.
You have decisions to make and a lot of them.
In the coming weeks ComicCon will release a list of attending vendors and some of the shows exclusives. You’ll see updates and press releases about the movies and TV shows and actors that will be present.  It’s just an attempt to tease and excite; and it works.
About two weeks before the show the schedule will come out.  That’s when the real drooling begins.
You will pour over the schedule and find all kinds of discussions and previews you want to attend. And they will be at the same time.  Yes, the cruel mistress called ComicCon has just lured you into her dark clutches. A siren and you can’t look away. Every day you’ll be visiting the online schedule and looking at the additions and changes and getting more and more excited and frustrated.
You’ll idly wonder if you could skip sleeping for 5 days.
I create a spreadsheet by day and time.  I create my A list of things I want to do. Then I create my B list items.  And then my C list and sometimes I even create a D list. 
The reality for me I’ll do very few of the things I want. The days of attending a panel and leaving after you find out it’s not nearly as entertaining as you hoped and then joining another panel mid-stream are gone.
The days of attending a panel in Hall H and going to the next one immediately after in Ballroom 20 are gone too.  The amounts of people attending ComicCon fill the rooms to capacity so there a long line of people waiting to get in.
Yes, in days gone past, you could hop from panel to panel and maybe even pick up some of the swag given out at the panels.
Now you commit to a panel. Your committal is more than just the hour at the panel; it’s the hour or two it takes in line to get into the panel.  So choose wisely.
You might have to sit through a panel or two or three you didn’t want to see to get a seat for the one you really really wanted.  So think about it and choose wisely.
After I make my spreadsheet I often deviate from it because something else has come up.  I’ll find out an autograph I want is being held at a vendor’s table or one of the raffle events I won is having their autograph session in the middle of a panel I wanted to see. It’s hard but it’s also rewarding to change plans on the spur of the moment.
Besides making some hard decisions, you need to be flexible and adaptable.
Hall H, where the movie previews are – people are in line all night long.  If you get in line 4 hours early (start of the day) you have a decent chance of getting in.
People are also in line all night long to hopes of getting those exclusives on the convention floor.  If you want you an exclusive you will be spending the night.
The lines for Ballroom 20 and Room 6CDF don’t start until they let people into the convention center for the day. That happens about 8:30AM or so.  Again people have camped overnight but getting there 2 or 3 hours early should be early enough to get into the room you want.
This leads to the last decision – how much sleep do you really want? ComicCon comes but once a year.
Good Luck.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

SDCC letter of the day C for Camera

This is a no brainer.  Bring your camera and some extra batteries.
Make sure you know how to use your camera so you don’t miss something.  Also it’s nice to be quick so others can get there turn. I don’t know how often I see someone taking a minute or longer to snap a shot. I don’t know if they are working to perfection or just having a hard time.
I have ruined a lot of shots because my settings were off.  I didn’t change the setting but while the camera was in my backpack the knob got turned and I never realized it.  Know the camera and what the settings should be.

You don’t need a $1000 camera but I would recommend something more than a cell phone camera. I know the smart phone cameras have gotten better and take good photos.  Just be aware of their limits.
The only times I know of that you can’t photo/tape something is in Hall H. Usually that’s the movie previews and the studios want to control the distribution of the material.

So keep your camera ready and snap away.
I find the best time to take photos of the props on the floor is just as the convention is closing for the day. Elite Security is chasing people out and the crowds have thinned.  I bring the camera out and can quickly move from display to display and booth to booth to take my pictures without people in the way.
The people doing cosplay love to pose. Many times you don’t even have to say a word, just lift the camera and they will stop.  Remember to say thank you.  They have places to be and people to see too.
If you are in a long line, keep the camera handy. The coplayers will pass you- how easy is that?
The concourse just outside of the exhibition floor is also a good area to see people dressed up and again with little effort.

If you want to be more proactive, hang out in the Sails Pavilion. The lighting is great and people are constantly walking through the Sails Pavilion.  That includes the cosplayers.  See Batman?  I bet a Cat Woman will show up. When she does, you will be able to get both in a photo.   This even happens with larger groups too.  3 or 4 people dress up as half the cast of some manga and another 3 or 4 other kids dress up as the other half. They see each other and start reenacting fight scenes for the crowd.

Saturday Night is the masquerade. Most costumes are elaborate. During the intermission the contestants will come out and pose.  And if you miss Saturday night, a lot of the contestants will wear their costume Sunday morning.
So bring your camera and batteries and enjoy the scenery.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SDCC letter of the day B for Backpack or Bag

When I attend ComicCon I live out of my backpack.  No, not literally. I have a room where I sleep, shower, and change clothes.  But I keep everything I need during the day in my backpack.  It’s like your mom’s purse or Dr. Who’s (Tom Baker) bottomless pockets.
For years I carried a small gym bag with lots of compartments (I love compartments).  I really liked the shoulder strap but it’s a little harder to carry when it’s gets heavy.  I bought a nice Targus backpack for my laptop that I use at ComicCon. It has lots and lots of little pockets to stow away stuff.
I have been staying at hotels that were miles away and needed to ride the trolley each day to the show.  So going back to the room during the middle of the day isn’t really an option. Even if your hotel is walking distance, how long do you want to be gone? And do you really want to do extra walking because you forgot something?
So I try to bring everything I’ll need through the day and into the night in my backpack.  Remember, weight is an issue. The more you lug the heavier it gets throughout the day.  Pack wisely.  You also need room in your backpack/bag to contain your swag.  For some, ComicCon is all about the swag.
Those huge bags that SyFy and Warner Brothers give out are very cool. I try to get some every year to give as gifts to friends and make then jealous that I went and they didn’t.  These bags however are hard to tote stuff in and after a few hours you are just dragging them on the floor and tripping other fanboys and girls.
If you filled your oversize bag with swag or purchased big ticket items use the bag check facilities the convention center offers. I’ve even had them hold my luggage on a Sunday.  It’s a few dollars per bag and you don’t have to lug it around.
As I mentioned, my backpack has lots of compartments. I use them all.  So what do I bring?
First and foremost is water. I’ll talk about water in another post. But I bring two bottles. I also bring snack bars with carbs and protein in them. I bring one for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I try to avoid the $5 hotdogs and $3 sodas.  The lines are always too long and you are still hungry after spending lots of money. I’ll eat in a panel discussion or while waiting in line.
And before I eat I use the anti-bacterial towelettes I brought.
I bring a clean t-shirt. I sweat a lot. At the end of the day, I will change it out.
Gum and cough drops.  Feel free to share them with someone in need.
I bring a few band aids for that nasty paper cut I’m bound to get as I roll up a poster.
I bring some 8 ½ x 11 plastic top loaders to protect the autograph photos I get. I don’t do 8x10 as some guests use larger photos.  Now, these top loaders are heavy.  You can usually put 2 photos in each without an issue.  So plan ahead regarding how many you want to carry each day.
I do bring an extra ballpoint pen and a sharpie. You never know who you will run into and where.
3x5 cards – so you just bumped into Angelina Jolie – what are you going to have her sign?  A 3x5 will do in a pinch.
I bring my mp3 player. Some lines are long and no one is willing to talk.
My camera and spare batteries are in my backpack.
Silly, but I also carry a small sample vial of cologne. So when I change my shirt, I’ll wash up first and then dash a little on myself.
I keep a small travel pack of tissues with me. You’re such a hero when you can offer a tissue to someone in need.
And lastly, I carry aspirin.  You will need and use it over the 5 days of ComicCon. Between dehydration or just the aches and pains of being on the go for several days, you’ll head a headache or two.
Let me know of any other suggestions.


Leonard Nimoy Dallas ComicCon 2011

Last weekend’s Dallas ComicCon brought Leonard Nimoy to town for a signing.  Leonard Nimoy is a huge name in the geek world. His popularity has grown outside of the normal Star Trek fan base after his work on Fringe.
Knowing this, my expectations were simple: spend as little time in line as possible and get an autograph.  I did not expect to sit down and tell him how much I enjoyed the first time he used the Vulcan Mind Meld or how cool it was he brought his Jewish heritage into Star Trek with the Live Long and Prosper sign.
The crowds were huge.  Plenty of people were in Starfleet uniforms (and some even looked good in them) to celebrate his appearance. People brought all kinds of items to get signed. Looking through the long line I even saw a Vulcan Lute that someone constructed.  
I must admit I had a bonus by standing in line with an interesting lady that was going to have her copy of Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock (yes, that’s vinyl) signed. Not only did I get to see a copy, I found out Leonard Nimoy had recorded 3 other albums. A total of 4 albums but no Grammies.  Can’t have everything.
The line moved quickly.
As he signed my photo, I asked if he would appear on Fringe again and he stated that ‘work was done’.  It may seem like a silly question considering he died…but Fringe had the ability to do anything they want to do. So why not bring him back?
This wasn’t the first time I got Nimoy’s autograph.  Back in 1995, he was signing his book, I Am Spock. This was an autobiography that was continuing or a retelling of his previous book called: I Am Not Spock.
Back then I waited in line several hours at Taylor’s bookstore in Dallas and was able to buy 2 copies.  He was pleasant and after I got through the line I dropped my signed copies off at my car and went to the back of the line again. I wanted to try to purchase an extra copy for a friend.
After waiting 45 minutes or so this second time, they announced they had sold out all of his books. Taylor’s was very experienced with book signings and having adequate supplies.  They hosted a lot of big name guests.  They were always prepared.  To sell out at one of their events is very telling.
Before the crowd could riot, Leonard stated he would sign any memorabilia that you had.  He felt bad the store was out of books.  Pretty classy of him.  Most people didn’t have anything else to sign as the store was fairly emphatic about NOT bring memorabilia. So a lot of people left right them.
Me, I stayed.  I’m such the contrarian.
I walked through the line and when my turn came, I just shook his hand and told him I really enjoyed Spock and In Search Of. I know he smiled and thought I was the stereotypical geek. I was and am.  It didn’t matter what he was thinking.  I was really happy to meet him. He was such a huge part of my life when I was a boy growing up in Jersey.
It’s embarrassing to admit but it’s like crossing off a bucket list item.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SDCC letter of the day A for Ambulate

San Diego ComicCon is big.
I mean it’s really big. The main exhibition space is 1/3 of a mile long. And it’s filled with tables and booths and people.
The outside is a tad longer. Then you have upstairs.
I know you’ve seen it on TV.  You’ve seen the pictures.  Believe me it’s that big or bigger. It’s the Superbowl of conventions.  E3 is probably the only rival in size.
Don’t believe me? Have a look at the floor.
So todays word is ambulate. You will be walking.  And you will be walking. 
This line is also wrapping under the canvas tents. 
Look how many tents there are. 
A long line means a lot of walkng
The only ones not walking are the people in the booths. To be truthful, even they have a hike to the bathrooms. They are doing some walking as well.
If you are a postal carrier going door to door, you can skip the rest of this.  You already walk all day long with a heavy bag. You have the perfect job to get ComicCon ready.
So it’s 57 days before ComicCon and I’m telling you to get up and go for a walk. If you are in shape, try walking a mile. If you aren’t in shape, walk a few blocks.
Ideally, you want to be walking every day.  Not to get in shape. This isn’t a PX90 or a Bowflex commercial. I want you to build your endurance.
I’m not talking about race walking or even power walking like the moms in the malls. I’m talking about getting up and strolling and finding out how your body responses.
ComicCon is a marathon, not a sprint.
I literally walk between 5 to 10 miles a day during ComicCon.
You’ll probably do less. Don’t worry it’s not a contest.
You might be walking to and from the trolley and then the trolley stop to the convention center. You might be walking along the Gaslamp looking for a restaurant. You might be traveling to the different hotels for an event or visit friends.
The sea of people prevent quick progress from point A to point B.
Keep that in mind as you try to move around.
All of those fun panel discussions are a long way off from the vendors handing out swag. If back and both 3 times in a day you’ve walked a couple of miles.  It adds up.
A lot of the time you will be walking passively.  You are casually strolling among the tables and window shopping. Other times you will be stuck in foot traffic and not moving very fast (I’ll have a tip for that in another post) and you are trying not to trip over someone’s bag or stroller.
If you start walking now and increase the distances slowly, you build your endurance. You’ll see how long it takes to recuperate. You learn when your body is achy just because it’s achy or because something is wrong.
You have a chance to see if those comfy shoes are any good.  You will be on concrete all day.  That is a pounding to the feet, hips, and back. Get some good shoes.  Walk around in them and see if they help. If they don’t get some better ones.   I’m sure ballerina slippers are very comfy when you walk on your carpet at home for a few minutes at a time but trying walking mile or two in them on the sidewalk.
While I love seeing women in stilettoes, I really recommend some good cross trainers or walking shoes. Something with arch support. And then you might want to add additional arch support and some compression socks to help keep the feet from swelling.
If you are miserable after the first day, how will you feel the next?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dallas ComicCon 2011

New location. Larger building.  Improved line up.
Last Saturday I attended the Dallas ComicCon.  While it was much further to drive than the old location, the lineup was well worth it. 
Since I got there about 10AM I was still able to park for free at the Irving Convention Center.  I arrived and parked in the back and on the top of the garage and surprisingly had an elevator not 50 feet from my car.
I appreciated the show putting out roadside signs to help with the navigation. I also liked that they had John Romita Jr signing before the doors open.
Who can complain about a TARDIS waiting for its Master with Klaxon bell ringing? The TARDIS was almost magically. Young and old wanted a photo of it and with it. It didn’t matter if you were in a Starfleet or Imperial costume, you wanted to see and take a picture of the TARDIS.
With the larger venue came more cosplay, more vendors, more fans, and more talent.
For the most part the lines for the big names (Stan Lee, Leonard Nimoy, Thomas, Jane) were organized and flowed fairly quickly.

Some animals are more equal to others - Animal Farm.  Again, I appreciate that the volunteers guarding the lines are looking at badges and taking the time to filter you into your proper location.  This convention does the best job of honoring the value of VIP or Priority badges.
I met some friends and made some new acquaintances.  Did you know that Deep Ellum runs an internet version of cable access shows?  I bumped into Wolfman of Terror Radio. Got to and then look through the various shows – you only really need to watch Terror Radio.  He and his girlfriend were fun to talk to and while we are a generation apart in age I felt we communicated well. They put up with my incessant questions (Are you married? Set a date? Does mom and dad like him? How long have you been dating, etc, etc, etc) with more patience than I deserved.
They also put up with my comic book artist ignorance. We were all in the line for Amanda Conner and they asked what I was getting signed.  I politely showed them the copy of the The Pro I had. They hadn’t heard of it so I flipped through it for them and they enjoyed what they saw. They asked how I found out about it and I had to admit I was getting the autograph for a friend.  And then the questions started about what I read.  I had to plead the 5th as I don’t read many comics or graphic novels.  And they were okay with that.
While standing in line for Nimoy I had an interesting conversation about Tweeter.  The lady I was waiting with said penultimate.   I love that word. So British and arcane and powerful.  The first thing I thought was it’s too long for Tweeter.  It eats up 11 characters of your 140. That’s not good.  Then I figured no one would ever say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious on tweeter. That’s a 1/3 of your tweet. We then wondered what other words Tweeter would kill off in its draconian limit of characters.
While I shouldn’t be surprised how much I enjoyed this convention I am.  I still have the silly notion that local conventions are small and amateurish.  Dallas ComicCon has really proved otherwise.

Bethenny Frankel Skinnygirl Margatria

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled with nefarious intend.  Cthulhu lurked in every shadowed doorstep as lightning slashed at them silently.  Thunder roared as blood was shed…
Overly dramatic?
This is another instance of not really knowing whose autograph I was getting.  I didn’t have a clue about Bethenny Frankel.  I looked her up on Google and saw that she was a reality housewife and I was going to blow it off.  Then I saw that she was cute and I thought again.
Based on the turn out that Marisa Miller had at a liquor store I figured I didn’t need to show up early. Plus it was pouring cats and dogs and I was hoping for the rain to abate.
The signing started at 4PM and I got there about 4:45PM and the line OUTSIDE the liquor store was 200 or so deep.  That’s 200 deep in a down pour with the rain slashing sideways from the wind. Lightning and thunder thrilled the crowds as they worried about being electrocuted while standing in ankle deep puddles.
I, like a true gentleman, found a great parking spot stayed in my comfy car and listened to the radio as I watched the parade of drenched dresses march past me.  Women were sharing umbrellas or jackets or trash bags.  They stood in the rain (at least the temp was in the mid 70’s) with their designer shoes and handbags. Their pretty outfits and hairdos squashed in the rain. After waiting another 30 minutes the rain stopped to a mild haphazard drop and I boldly got out of my car in the nice parking space and walked with umbrella in hand to the end of the line.  Which, at this point, was STILL 200 people deep.
I chattered with the lady next to me. She feared her cork wedge shoes (very stylish mind you) would soak up the water in the puddles and they would be too heavy to walk in.  Trying hard not to laugh, I suggested she walk around the puddles and small lakes in the parking lot. If she did soak up the puddles at least my feet would be dry.
While the line moved constantly, I was in line for another 30 minutes before getting inside the store where I got to buy my Skinnygirl Margertia bottle for Bethenny Frankel to sign.
I was clueless about this signing.  Apparently Bethenny Facebookedand Tweated  this event and her army of followers decided to brave the weather to see her. Her Facebook campaign worked. Bethenny knows her audience. The message was sent out 2 days before the event and it was enough time to generate this amount of interesting in the pouring rain. It was estimated a 1000 fans showed up. Amazing.
Once inside the liquor store the army’s compacts, makeup, lip glosss, etc  popped out of their Louis Vuitton bags instantly.  The faces were repaired before they even bothered to buy their Skinnygirl bottles.
Once my bottle was bought the line moved faster.
I clicked a quick photo while I was moving. I had my bottle out and offered it to Bethenny who was all smiles and seemed very friendly. She was pretty.  She looked me directly in the eyes and thanked me for being there and I said thank you and moved off to the side like flotsam in an eddy. A small group of people were hanging on against the flow of the traffic exiting the building to get a last look.
People were posing with Bethenny’s cardboard cutout. They were snapping pictures of the advertising.  The current swept them past Bethenny too fast and they needed just a few more seconds to digest the event.
I took a few moments to look around while still amazed at the amount of people that turned out for this rain drenched event.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nastia Liukin 4/2011 Frisco, TX

A few weeks ago Nastia Liukin was signing at a local phone store.
She is someone I ‘knew’ about since I got Carly Patterson autograph’s after the 2004 Olympics.  Carly was signing at the WOGA gym in Plano and while waiting in line, someone mentioned the little blonde girl working out on the mats. They said she would be the next Gold Medalist.  I had no reason to believe or disbelieve but I took a long hard look and remembered the name Nastia. 
I had a coworker that also worked at WOGA but at the Dallas location and I would bug her all of the time about getting Nastia’s autograph. My coworker would politely laugh me off. She always though it was weird for a grown man to want some kid’s signature.
So after years of waiting and missed opportunities, I finally got my chance. Nastia Liukin was going to make an appearance at 10AM in Frisco just a few miles from my home.
So of course I set the alarm clock for 6AM and was out the door by 6:30AM.  The store was 2 minutes from the home and I stopped by 7-11 for a morning Big Gulp of Pepsi. I was ready.
I got there and the parking lot was empty.  Only a few squinty eyes drivers were stopping at the Starbucks next door.  Can you imagine the question mark flowing over my head?  This was an Olympic Gold Medalist. Nastia was (more or less) a home town hero.  Where was the line?  I’m NEVER first.  I rarely even get close to the front. This was odd.
I checked the address and even drove around the building to see if a line had formed at the back door. Hmm, did they cancel? Do I wake the wife and have her check the site?  Where are all of my autograph hound friends?  Nastia’s planned appearance had created some chatter on the messages boards.
Well, I didn’t wake the wife. I just sat in my car listening to the radio and drinking my Pepsi.
If it wasn’t so early and I wasn’t so tired, this would have been relaxing.  The weather was pleasant. It did threaten to rain but the cloud cover kept the temp to the mid 60’s.
I waited.
About 7AM, a car drives up and parked near mine.  He methodically popped the truck and got out and gathered up some crap.  He walked over to the front door and popped open he lawn chair and parked himself.
Now I felt better. I’m at the right place. I don’t know him but I know the signs of a fellow hunter.
About 7:30AM a car drives up and parked in front of the store. The car took 2 spaces. The driver got out and walked to the door and used his keys to enter. Ah, an employee. And an employee that took up two parking spaces.  Does that mean he doesn’t care about fellow parkers?  Or he knows the business is so slow no one comes to the store?
About 8AM another car drove up and also used two spaces to park.  That person, cigarette dangling from her lips, walked over to the door and entered. Ah, another employee. 
So, to recap, 2 employees and 4 parking spaces.  Of courses those are the best 4 parking spaces the store has to other. Maybe they are taught to park that way in retail school.
At 9AM several other employees showed up. They parked better but they did take the spots up close so any customers would have to walk further. 
Also, now that they have been at work for a while, a gaggle of them went on a smoke break near the front of the store.  As you can tell, I’m not amused by the customer service or image and the store hasn’t even opened yet.
At 9:30AM, a hunter I knew showed up with his wife.  So I finally got out of my car and we stood in line.  At the same time, the first guy who had been sitting in his chair was greeted by his wife and daughter. So instead of being second in line I was 4th.  No big deal.
At 10AM Nastia showed up. So someone started telling us how to act and what we could and could not do. It was crowd control stuff. It was funny as our crowd was maybe 20 people.
I was in the first group. Nastia was all smiles and chatted with the little one in front of me.   She does not take a bad photo.  I wish I had that ability.
I was in and out within 2 minutes.
I was allowed to go back a second time and I picked up another photo for my sister.  My sister is a huge gymnastic fan. Always has been.  So this is one of the little things I do to say sorry for being such a jerk as a kid.
It was maybe 10:15AM I was out of there.
Nastia is still big. I assume the light crowd was from a lack of proper promotion on the store’s part rather than tarnish on Nastia’s Gold.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Priest 3D – ComicCon 2010

With the opening of Priest 3D tomorrow night, I dragged out these mini movie posters to show off.
These come from one of those little known autograph session I talk about at San Diego ComicCon
This was a fun one because we had 4 actors and each signed a mini poster of the character they portrayed.
Since you really aren’t supposed to talk to the actors, I whispered to Paul Bettany how much I enjoyed Legion. He leaned forward and he conspiratorially whispered back that if I enjoyed Legion I was REALLY going to like this. 
At the time I didn’t know who Maggie Q was. I knew they were promoting her new TV series Nikita and she was an action star from Hong Kong.  The first thing I noticed was the camera does not do her justice.  She is more beautiful in person.  I know a lot of people tell me that’s often the case but I’ve seen a lot of people in person and the makeup and camera angles hide a lot.  Maggie Q is much prettier in person.   
It took a while for me to recognize Karl Urban. I knew I knew him from somewhere but I couldn’t place the face. Since you never know who will be in the room when you enter the room you just stare and quickly try to flip through your mental rolodex for faces, movies, and names.  It was after I left the room that someone pointed out he was McCoy in the Star Trek reboot.
Cam Gigandet is another actor you know. He does a lot of work and he seems to be in everything and when you look him up you slap your forehead, saying – yeah, that’s where I know him from.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Three sports items TTM

Two weeks ago I got a lot of packages in the mail and only one of them I was expecting.
Yogi Berra
I sent Yogi Berra a baseball to the address on his website to get signed. I don’t often do this as I prefer to get the item signed in person and hopefully exchange a word or two with them. I called to make sure I had everything I needed and I had the correct amount for the money order. The ball was mailed Monday and I got it back signed the next Monday.  That was extremely fast.
Bernie Parent
I also got a signed copied of Bernie Parent’s book, Face Fear, Find Your Purpose in the mail. A friend from college (it’s nice to have friends) works in Philly and often sees Bernie at Flyer’s games. I know my friend, EmKy, mentioned getting a few signed items signed from Bernie in the past.  Bernie often makes the rounds through the suites meeting the fans during the games. It’s nice that the Flyers are fan friendly this way.
My friend gets to sit in the suites now and then.  EmKy took one of those opportunities to get a book signed for me.  This was a wonderful surprise and I’m looking forward to reading this inspirational book. 
Monte Irvin
The same day I got the Parent book I got a package from Kae’s Uncle in San Antonio.  He sent a signed copy of Nice Guys Finish First by Monte Irvin.  Kae’s Uncle has a mutual friend with Monte who made the introductions.
JaeBee, Kae’s Uncle, is a charming and personal guy.  He’s affable and it’s amazing the people he gets to meet. JaeBee had lunch with Monte and they hit it off famously.  I envision them talking for hours and hours, talking baseball, sharing stories about places they’ve been, and things they have done in life.
They met a second time and JaeBee brought Monte’s book and had it personalized for me.
All three items were unexpected and wonderful additions to my collection.
I must admit it’s nice to have friends that feed my passion/addiction.
Thank you JaeBee and EmKy, i truly appreciate you gift and friendship.