Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Friday, April 27, 2012

Brad Meltzer - Heroes for my Daughter

While I’ll walk into a lot of signings not knowing much about a person, if I’m a ‘fan’ of someone, I usually know more than just the surface stuff.  Brad Meltzer has a varied background and it seems that many of his fans are unaware of his adventures in other genres.
As I walked into the B&N in Frisco, Brad Meltzer was already signing.  Now you know I’ll come a little late to avoid the Q&A or the discussion but I wasn’t late this time.  I arrived just as the singing was to start. I saw about 20 people sitting and waiting and I watched for a few minutes to figure out what was happening. For some reason he was doing the signing first and then the Q&A.  Selfishly that was quite alright with me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#SDCC – The project – Execution phase

The 5 phases – Initiate Plan, Execute, Monitor and Control, Close Down
This the sweat phase. It’s easy on paper but this is where you are doing stuff.
Execution will be long and change over the course of its duration.
At first a lot of Execution will be working through the items on your task list:
Airlie tickets
Hotel Rooms
Attendance passes to the show
Some of it will be goals you are working toward:
Saving a specific amount of money each week
Putting ‘x’ amount of hours into –
                                Getting in shape
                                Create you cosplay outfits
                                Beefing up the portfolio
Some of it will actually occur at the convention:
                Attending panel
                Collecting swag

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dad – sometimes he’s too subtle.

Okay – this is one of those things that when it happens you don’t think anything about it.  You don’t realize what is happening or why.  You don’t realize how your reactions are less than expected even though you are acting politely and correctly in the reality that you are moving through.
My dad goes to the Indy 500. Sounds hoity-toity, huh? I guess it kind of is but it’s not like he has an inside suite or he has seats on a turn. He’s been going for a long time. It’s something he did as a kid with his father too. I don’t know when that stopped but about 10 years ago he started going again.
A few years back he invited to come along.  I went.  I enjoyed it; not nearly as much as he does but it was fun watching him.  His Indy 500 is like my ComicCon.  He preps and makes lists and checks them twice. He orders the tickets long in advance and even books the hotel room for the next race before he has checked out of the room for the current race.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Rita Mae Brown – The Big Cat Nap

As you know, I’ll often to signings because of the name.    Rita Mae Brown was one of those times.  While I think I read a lot I don’t read mysteries but from the years at the bookstore I know that Rita was a big name.
I kind of knew the line would not be out the door so I got there about 20 minutes early. I found a book to read and waited.
When she arrived I put my book down and listened.  The first few comments of hers I found very odd. Enough so to think she was more than just ‘a character’. Then the next few comments I found less odd but still in that – ‘she’s a character alright’ mold.  The next comments I actually liked.  It was like that all night with her. As I listened to her, her opinions were far and wide reaching.
The thing I found much entertaining was she thinks her cat will be running for President. The US Constitution is very precise about being born in the US and being at least 35 years old.  Her cat Sneaky Pete is over 35 in cat years and most definitely born in the USA.
She next discussed who would be the idea running mate. She said a bold choose would have to be a split party ticket.  Since 65 million America’s house dogs, a dog is a natural choice.
Rita Mae Brown mentioned that Sneaky Pete had his manifesto on the Constitution coming out soon.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#SDCC I want to talk about socks

Yes, I’m going to talk socks.

If you are going to cosplay or you need to dress up as you are working the convention, then skip this post.  It’s not for you.

 If you are one of the masses walking and standing all day then bend a little closer so I can talk about socks.

You should already know about getting a good pair of shoes for the show. You will be walking a lot.  And while most of you think your ugly crocs or your cute little ballet slippers are comfortable – you are wrong – you also need to think about some new socks.

The first thing I would do before buying your new shoes is getting some good socks.  Go to REI or Dick’s and find someone that knows what they are doing and ask about walking socks.  Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as walking socks.

 And just like Nancy’s boots, they are made for walking.  The toes and heels are padded more heavily than normal shoes. The top of the foot will usually have some extra padding too. They material will be moisture wicking which help prevent blisters.

And the kicker is – you can buy a dozen or maybe 2 dozen pairs of regular socks for the price of one pair of these walking socks.

At the end of the day are your feet swollen like sausage?  First, go ahead and schedule an appointment with your doctor.  Second follow his advice.  Most likely his advice will be compression socks.  These are heavy duty socks that are very tight fitting and they come in different grades of compression.
The idea of compression socks is to keep the blood from pooling in your feet and that keeps the swelling done.

You can buy them on-line or in a medical supply store.  I would opt for a medical supply store first as you can discuss your needs and they can fit you.  Yes, you should be fitted for these socks.  Also, remember, once you try them on, you can’t return them.  It’s not like a pair of pants or a dress.

And here is a bigger kicker, one pair of these socks might cost as much as 5 pairs of walking socks.

And I want you to buy 5 pairs of socks, whether it’s walking or compression - One for each day of ComicCon.   

The expense is worth it. 

Now buy the socks first. The new walking shoes you will be buying will be bought while you are wearing these socks.  Since the socks are padded differently, they will fit slightly differently and the shoes you buy will fit differently.

It’s an investment in your feet.

The feet you will most like be standing on all day or walking 5 or so miles a day with will give you your return on this investment.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Ernest Cline- Fandays Dallas

Okay, this is something that I ‘lost’ and then found when I was cleaning out my backpack.
When I go to shows, I bring my backpack. I call it my purse as I have everything in it: Aspirin, water, cough drops, power bars, pens, 3x5, etc, etc, etc.
Even though I pack it up, it’s fairly light and I can walk all day with it. Then sometimes, something gets lost in all of the clutter and the nook and crannies.  To be truthful, it’s embarrassing and this is what happens…
The movie Fanboys has been on my radar for a long time, a long time. My wife and I saw a preview for it at SDCC during the Star Wars Fan Film Awards. They had some of the 501st hanging out ‘I Brake for Wookies’ bummer stickers as you entered the big ballroom for the event.
The film looked like a lot of fun and several actors were people that I enjoyed watching.  So we watched the preview and waited for the release.  It didn’t come that year. Or the next. Or even the year after that. Then at another Star Ward Fan Film Award ceremony they said it really was coming out this year.  I nodded and thought:  Who’s more Foolish, the Fool or the fool that follows him.
But it did come out that year and while it didn’t stay at the theater for long and it was fun to watch on DVD.
A few years later Dallas Fandays announced that Ernest Cline was going to appear. I had the DVD so it seemed like natural thing to have him since the cover.
It was a ‘no fuss no muss’ transaction. He was at a table. I walked up. I told him I saw the preview at SDCC and he signed the cover. I thanked him and walked away.  I tucked the DVD into my backpack and forgot all about it.
Five months later, I’m unpacking from a trip and emptying out my backpack.  I carry an extra change of clothes in my pack and on this trip I actually had to use them. So I’m going through EVERYTHING. I’m pulling out the old to replace and stocking up on stuff that needs stocking up on.  I reached way deep and find the DVD I had forgotten all about.
I’ve been carrying Ernest Cline and Fanboys all over the country with me for several months.
It’s lucky I have these compartments. I just never thought I’d be smuggling Fanboy DVD’s.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Kevin James- 2nd effort pays off

Kevin James flew into town to do one night of stand up and then flew out of town.
He appeared at the Majestic Theater and surprisingly there was about 30 people waiting for him. I got there early because I had time and I have missed out when some stars arrive uber-early.  When I arrived there were only 6 of us.  As the clock ticked closer, a few more people trickled in. Many were just there to see him as he walked in the stage down.
I’m sure these people thought the autograph hounds were nuts for standing on the concrete and in the very warm sun for hours. I’m sure their noses didn’t appreciate the smell as we got ripe.
It was the time of the show and the car drove up.  Kevin James got out and you can see he’s torn between what he wants to do and what he has to do.   He wants to sign but he needs to perform.  He compromises and signs for about 10 people. 
 I missed out. I wasn’t one of the few that got a signature.  He was in front of me for a good minute but my clipboard was never blessed with his ‘graph. It happens and I was slightly disappointed.  The ones that wanted a glimpse got it and hurried into the show. The hounds compared our results and left.
I wasn’t ready to give up.  I knew he would be exiting from the same door and I still had a chance.  I ate with a couple of fellow seekers and then came back.
After the show there were only 2 of us wanting his signature.  There was also a young couple that just wanted a photo.  Kevin left the building and saw us. He came over and quickly signed and then posed for the young couple. Then just as quickly he was in his car and gone. But not before I got my autograph.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Giada De Laurentiis – sometimes a plan works

Going to this book signing was more about seeing this pretty lady in person than about the book or recipes or any of that.  Giada De Laurentiis was doing a couple of book signings in Dallas and the one at Williams and Sonoma was my best chance.
Since the signing started at 5PM I needed to buy (actually prepay as the books were not in the store) my books a few days early.  Lucky that I did, as it was limited ticket event and they did sell out. Her book, Weeknights with Giada , was not being discounted at the event, so while I would have loved to have bought a couple of extra copies for friends, I just couldn’t. I did print a couple of photos of her that I hoped to get signed.
Since I was working, I got to the event about 5:30 and the line was a zoo. It wrapped around itself and it seemed it had a few different entrance points. I was not amused.  But I went to the end of the line and waited.
And waited.
And waited some more.  Maybe 1 ½ hours later I got my books in hand.  Once I had my books I put my photos behind the page she was going to sign.  I hoped she’d notice and sign them.
The event stated no photos or other memorabilia to be signed. I respect that and I even mostly believe that.  Often I’ll leave an event and find out that the signing allowed other things to get signed or the celeb signed a few things as they made their way back to the car.  So I hoped I might get lucky.
The line moved fairly fast but still it was another 45 minutes before I got to the top of the line. I walked up to the table and Giada gave me a huge smile.  Heavy sigh.  She is beautiful…
(OW!  Just got smacked in the back of the head by the wife…ouch. That hurts.)  
So she confirmed I just wanted a signature and then she saw the photos. Curiously she pulled them out.  I said I was hoping to get them signed. She said sure. The 2 photos stuck together so she only signed the top one (in red - same sharpie as for the books).  She showed the signed one to her handler. Then she asked where I got it.
I told her Google has lots of photos. This one had caught my eye.   She then said it came from the Food Network Year End party.  I asked if it was a private photo, and she shook her head no, and then said she was just surprised to see it.
I left the table and was pretty excited. I got my books signed, I got a photo signed, and she smiled at me.
(OW!!! Stop that! I wasn’t drooling – really, I wasn’t!)
Nice when a plan comes together.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Jay Johnstone – Now how did I get that?

As a kid I watched Jay Johnstone play for my Phillies. While he may not have a Hall of Fame career I bet he’s remembered by fans on every team he played on. I remember him because he was funny and a character; just what every kid wants from a ball player.  It seemed the game of baseball was still a game for him.
One of my favorite memories of Jay Johnstone is only slightly baseball related.  It has to do with a commercial. He was doing ads for a local pool company in either Jersey or Pennsylvania.  If memory serves me right they were quirky and silly. Not Crazy Eddy silly but something a kid enjoyed.
In 1978 the Phillies traded Jay Johnstone to the Yankees.  I’m watching the Phils game and between innings a pool commercial comes on. There’s Jay Johnstone in a Yankees uniform and the first thing he said: Ha, Thought you got rid of me didn’t you?
How can you not like that?
As I’ve been collecting autographs, I have a special spot for the Phillies I watched growing up. And once I moved to Texas, it’s hard to get those players.  The few signatures I have mostly come from my mom and dad.
A few weeks ago I visited my parents for a weekend. As I carry the suitcase up to my room,  my eyes immediately notice the baseball on the dresser.   It’s sitting there innocently; not causing any trouble; minding its own business.   It’s not quite loitering but the radar pings and you need to be cautious.
What’s this baseball doing here?  It’s out of place.  My dad doesn’t toss the ball around anymore.  And it’s an official ball not some Kmart knock off. That’s a sweet ball for this neighborhood.  So while it might be profiling, I walk over to the ball. Slide up slow and non-aggressively.  It’s important to be cautions at times like this.  No sense rushing in and getting hurt.  I look around quick to see if anyone’s watching.  I pick up the ball. I see some ink. My eyes dart around the room greedily as I know I have a find. The signature is clear and easy to read.
With a big smile, I shout down stairs (it’s a very ‘Howard and his mom’ on Big Bang Theory moment), ‘So where the Johnstone autograph come from?’  No response but I hear some laughter.
I take the ball down with me and mom and dad are smiling. Dad tells me they don’t know where it came from. They thought maybe I sent it to them when I sent them some extra baseballs incase an opportunity comes up.
I’m pretty sure I’d remember getting this one.  So I don’t think I’d have forgotten getitg ity. And then to think I would send them an autographed ball by accident?  Mom and Dad are fairly certain they never met the guy either. Since we are all getting old, who knows whose memory is at fault?
So it’s a mystery. 
But the ball is in my grubby little hands now and I’m not letting go.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

#SDCC travel light even with water

Saw something on Twit I wanted to follow up on.
It was good advice from one SDCC veteran to a newbie – travel light.
The newbie was staying out at Hotel Circle and the veteran said it would be hard to get back to the hotel during the day and it would be good idea to travel light. The thought process was whatever you bring with you; you will be stuck with all day.
There is a Convention Center baggage check area but that is out of the way. You really don’t want to be wasting time or energy trekking back and forth all day dropping things off and picking things up.
I’m a big advocate of bringing and drinking water all day long. I say it all the time - Half your weight in ounces in water.  That means if you weigh 200 pounds, then you should drink 100 ounces of water a day. You need to drink more if you are drinking a lot of caffeine or exerting yourself.  100 ounces is about 6 of those half liter bottles.  If you are a dainty girl and weigh close to 100 pounds then you need 50 ounces of water and that’s 3 of those bottles.
Remember the old rule of thumb – a pint a pound the world around? A pint is a little smaller than a half liter. So those half litter bottles as just over a pound a piece.
That a lot of water to drink. That’s a lot of weight to carry.
Bring one bottle.  And refill it throughout the day.  Most of the panel rooms will have several water coolers.  There are also water foundation sprinkler throughout the convention center.
This way you are carrying one bottle filling as needed.
And remember – the water doesn’t help you in the least if you keep it in the bottle. Drink early and drink often.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The wife says I was flirting with Hank Haney’s wife

Hank Haney was in Frisco promoting his new book, The Big Miss. Since he has strong ties to the DFW area and Dallas is big on golfing I figured I’d show up earlier as I expected a large crowd.
1 ½ hours before the signing, I’m at the store and no one was waiting in line. I found a comfy seat with a great view of the signing table and waited. As the clocked ticked I notice one other person waiting. Like me, he found a comfy place to wait.
Now it’s a game of chicken. In general, you know you are going to be on your feet a long time. It’s a win, when you can avoid standing and still be near the front of the line.  So I sat and people watched and waited for someone to get in line.  At the 30 minute mark, my fellow hound got in line. I win.
I did not join him as no one else was in line. My feet appreciated not being forced to stand just to be second in line. About 10 minutes later people started queuing.  I got up and joined the line.
Hank Haney got there a few minutes late but he jumped right into shaking hands, chatting, and signing books.  I was close to the front of the line when a young lady dropped her pursed off at the table and took out her camera.  Yes, I checked her out. I’m a guy, I do things like that.  Hopefully I did it with class and sans drool. I figured she was a reporter or press photographer.
When it was my turn, I handed over my books and Hank thanked me for coming out to see him. The normal autograph even type stuff. He looked at my shirt and asked if I went to Arizona.  I smiled and said yes.  I don’t know much about Hank Haney but I thought he was local, so I said something like you – you didn’t go to the UofA did you?  He said no, but his wife did.
He pointed.  I looked. It’s the young ‘photographer’. I smiled and say hi and she came to meet me.  We started chatting and talking UofA.  Hank was totally forgotten as we compared places we’ve hung out, changes  to the campus, etc, etc, etc.  I think at the same time we both realized we weren’t there to meet each other and we turned back to Hank. He had a smile on his face as I apologized for ignoring him.  He gave pleasant laugh and said ‘I’d ignore me too, if she was around.’
I gathered my books and shook he hand a second time and said goodbye to his wife and fellow alumni. 
So my wife thinks I was flirting. As you can see, it was just innocent chatting with someone else that matriculated from Arizona.