Celebration III Diary
Wednesday April 20th, 2005 Setting: SUNNY and dry not cold; but a small light chill in the air.
We left early in the morning but the first hitch (and looking forward, only one of small things that happened, nothing really bad happened) was that one person's package did NOT arrive in time. So they are not getting several shots signed. However, we got to the airport and on our morning flight with no problems. We connected in Atlanta and while at the airport, while waiting, we decided to amuse ourselves by "identifying the Star Wars geek potentials". It's ok, I too and a geek and these are my 'homeys'. We'd say, "definitely", "potentially" or "no, possible way". As it turned out, we met some of these later who WERE the definite and potential ones. I wondered.... was I a definite too? We landed in Indianapolis with no hitches. On the shuttle to the rental cars, we met a guy from where we live; he's from Chesapeake (few minutes away) and we comment "small world". We got our rental car, which was a slight upgrade (?) as they ran out of compacts. While waiting, we chat with people who we realize are ALL going to the convention. There are promises to "see you there". We don't.
We get to our hotel without getting lost and I realize I messed up royally...I booked us for the NEXT day and we were marked down for leaving Saturday and not Sunday It's not a problem though, with a hotel full of booked rooms, we got the two days tacked on with no problem. Only later did we learn that the hotel booked fully that day. After unpacking, we ate a nice lunch next door at Denny's (Denny's good?; it was this time; but maybe I was starving) and after, we went to the convention center to orient ourselves. We got our badges and realized Scott got a Fan Club lanyard even though he shouldn't have. We also had 8 "friends and family" passes which I still have. Maybe I should scalp them! Shh...... but it's ok, I didn't. We got our "goody bags" which didn't have anything good in it but the program/schedule. We walked the halls a little where they'd let us, and asked where the line would form the next day, as well as marked our maps where the rooms we wanted would be. We thank the 501st for their professionalism and their enthusiasm....and foremost, for the entertainment! They were awesome people; err, uh, troopers! With that, we headed back to the hotel and prepared for what would be a LONG Thursday. I was not smart enough to pack a jacket or umbrella and later I will regret this in a huge way.
Thursday April 21st. 2005 Setting: Rained night before; ground we but it's not raining...yet. People are filming the long lines and laughing at us, but they too are in the lines and filming...and they are way at the end. They don't realize it is we, who laugh at them!
Up at the crack of dawn! 4:15 and to shower and get our stuff and head to the line. We KNEW this was going to be a long one, so we were smart. But others, were still smarter then we were. We arrived probably 5:15-5:30 or so and were back maybe 150-200 people from the door. I am sure Rob, Scott or someone else will call me on the times and numbers, but I am guessing, as it's hard to recall exactly now. However, we got in line and it was ok, slightly cold and the ground damp in spots but still able to sit down and not need a parka or goulashes. I know why Celebration is in April. It's because they want to keep the lines down. Otherwise, they know it'll be stretching across the state...
While in line, we meet some fantastic guys from Puerto Rico. We see some great (and some not so great) costumes. We love this and snap photos. Everyone does. There's probably 15,000 photos of each costume on the net today I am sure. But come back later to see 15,001! The people in line with us are fun, entertaining and excited; as are we. I want to thank them....they made the line bearable and they actually end up being a major highlight of the trip. Rob, Lisa and his friends Scott and Danny join us. What's even more pleasurable is the people in line do not get angry. They are fantastic. We repay them by saving spaces for them when they have to use the facilities, get coffee or need us to watch their stuff. We also repay others by not getting upset when people also cut, send us back another 50 or so in line. Everyone rocks!
Once the doors open, people rush in, but no one tramples anyone. They just rush...they want to get those Vader figures! What does make some mad is those crossing the streets and coming NOT from the line, sneak in past the security and troopers; but it only happened that first day. Thank God, because the people snaked up on the roof would be throwing a fit if they knew this!
We get inside, and our group disperses to their designated "firsts" I think Rob heads to the "Sandtrooper Bust" place while we go to the store; Danny heads there too I believe. Not sure where the others went. We get there, and it's only 45 minutes till we have our allotted 8 Darth Vader figures and 8 cases. We get these and leave, buying nothing else. It went smoothly for us; more than we realize and even MORE for us, as you'll see later (no spoilers now), but I hear later they line was cut off, the allotment of figures was out in a few short hours and some people waiting 7 hours got nothing this day, having to come back another time. While in line, we talk to more collectors; who are also chatty and fun. But all have an agenda...those talking Vader figures. People in line worry "will they have enough". We keep hearing as we are leaving the line is too long; it's going to be hours before everyone gets inside.
After the store, we personally head to the autograph area. I figure I'd fill my orders for my buddies and get all I need, be done and able to enjoy the shows later. I was confused because the people there didn't explain the sheets (order sheet for the autographs) correctly. I thought it had to be filled in (and at first, I wasn't sure how to fill the long list in) then I realize, all they need is a number of coupons and photos you need. So we buy $755.00 worth of coupons on the first day. Holy COW! I haven't been in an hour and I've spent $899.00; others have spent way more! While filling in the form, I meet a girl who's nervous and can't multiply 1x1. I show her how to do the sheet, but she doesn't know what she wants,.... she keeps asking me for each item, how to do it. I know she's gotta be mentally disabled. Either that or very nervous. I end up there well over a half hour helping her with her sheet. I hope she had a lot of money, because she wasn't sure. It is only later they explain that was for the pre-signed items. NOT for the people you want to meet. I didn't want any pre-signed. So while I am helping the girl finish her sheet, Scott gets my coupons and we leave to meet the celebs. We get wristbands we are told will help us avoid the lines and we are told DON'T TAKE THEM OFF. We walk around two days before we realize what they are. I am number 1 and 60000 which means something important for me as I was the first just about in there.......I don't realize what it is later and am glad that unlike Scott, I keep my band and don't tear it off like he and half the people do.
Our first stop: Ray Park. I am glad I did him first; he becomes popular, and later, his line stays pretty full. We meet Ray for the first time and all I can say, is he is nice! He willingly signs for a friend who wanted a special inscription and he willingly holds a "Hi Leon" sign for me and I am in the photo with him at his request. He is wonderful to every person throughout the convention; I never heard a bad word. He poses with EVERYONE, anytime, anywhere. We snap a photo of him signing an item for another friend. It is here we hear the devastating news; Michael Kingma is a no show. After complaining, I move on.
We see others in line now for the other "two-coupon" celebs. See, the celebs are segregated into a one coupon area and a coupon area. They are listed alphabetically, so egos will remain in check. But with this bunch, there are no egos (well there was one issue or two; I'll explain that later). While in line for Ray, we take photos of Temuera Morrison, Peter Mayhew and Dave Prowse, who are near Ray's table. We have no intention of getting signatures from Peter and Dave this time, so we just get the photos for the site and the fans.
We head to Temeura's line and realize I can't get photos of each item being signed for every person I am getting stuff for. It's going to be TOO MUCH. The areas are not large enough and Scott is not fast enough snapping the photos.... However, I do get a really cool photo of me and Temeura. He is nice and poses for the fans. Fans eat it up and I am no exception. I decide to get photos with the guys and Scott can with a couple of the women; but mainly, we'll just take photos of them there, when we get an opportunity. Since I don't need Kenny Baker to sign anything today, we get a photo of him and Ms. Gale and leave to get into Leanna Walsman's line. I head for whatever line I know I have to get items from people, but I don't remember who...so fumbled till I find the person, get it and take a photo of Scott and Leanna, which comes out crappy. We try twice more and I give up. Leanna, sweet lady as she is, is willing to stay there as long as needed. But I am not. So we leave and Scott says to me that no way I am having control of the camera; I suck! So that's about it for photos of him with hot sexy women! With that, we leave the two-coupon area.
Once in the one coupon section, we snap a photos of Amy Allen, Michonne Bourriague and Jerome Blake. We don't need their signatures this time, so we move on. Scott comments that they are not hard to look at (the two ladies that is; so I quickly remind him some of the guys are pretty cute too)! We snap a photo also of Michael Sheard who we also don't need to sign. However, we learn later that he was doing poorly because he has the same photo he always has at all the other shows, and this is the ONLY photo he's got. I feel bad and want to buy one because like Peter Mayhew, no one is in his line. We know Peter is intimidating to some because of his mood; we also hear people don't like he's two coupons. However, with Mr. Sheard, it's the same photo people don't like. I mean, how many of the same pose does one person need after all!
We spy Ralph Brown. I need a couple/few sigs. I head over there and tell him that because he signed free through the mail, I am there buying a photo for me, to thank him...for his kindness. I tell him a couple others are doing that as well. I want to remind these people if I can, that the fans do care. He's delighted and excited to be there (sort of/ but is looking a little unsure about the experience at various times I saw him; I hope he had a great time). He asks me how usual is it for mail requests as he gets quite a bit. I say some people sign, others don't and some charge, but the fans will write and that's usual. He seems relieved, but I wonder the future now .... will he start charging? We shall see. I hope not. So encourage those who sign by mail...tell them we appreciate it and still would buy just because of that! It might just save the hobby if everyone does it.
Now we spy Caroline Blakiston. I love this woman! She's chatty, friendly, we snap a photo and she signs a couple items for me. She lets us in on a secret... the food there sucks (I remembered that from last time though), but there's a great place to get nachos across the street. She stops short of drawing us a map. We start getting hungry now and tell her we're going for it after we finish. We never did go though! We got too busy.
We spy Sean Crawford and snap a photo but he's not on my list, so we get into Sandi Finlay's line. We snap a couple photos and have a chat with her. She's great. She tells us a little about working with George; that he is a man of few words but when he speaks, he's so articulate and poignant that you know what he wants, and you can take that direction easily and get what he wants almost immediately. She says he's misunderstood and is quite a lovely man with a great heart. Another celebrity hears this and is behind Sandi, rolling their eyes, and locking eyes with me as if to say what she's saying is bull...but each, I know, has had their own interactions and is correct in their assessment. They, after all, lived it. Sandi has a very unique accent and Scott is unsure about her baldness, referring to her as "the bald chick" as he's not a Star Wars fan to the point where he knows the character names. Personally, I think it's cool and she looks like her character; so I am up for that. The other guys seem to like it too.
From there we spy the Jensen brothers, sitting side by side. I think they're cuties, but I don't need sigs. So a few photos shot and I think twice... maybe I should get something signed, as they are pretty darned cute! But I don't.
Next, I head for Gerald Home. I have wanted to meet this phenom for a while. He and Toby are the reason I decided to go to this event anyway! Gerald is brilliant as I suspected he'd be. He signs and I identify myself... I get hugs, gushes, photo with him and he signs the photo more. He's so nice I can't explain it...he shares with the fans all about his characters, the background on some of the scenes and a few stories. I leave quickly though telling him I'll come back; but we don't get together till very late Sunday...
We go across from the tables that we were at, and I get Bai Ling's signature on a few items. She's nice. She asks if we want anything else on the photos and we take a photo together. She's petite. Very nice and I am surprised she's there even, but happy she made it.
We spy who was Orli Shoshan wearing a green camisole that looks like a nightgown or slip. It may be slightly too revealing for kids, but Scott loves this and snaps a photo or two.... she loves the attention and smiles. You'll see the one shot later; Scott had to time it just right...We get a sig and later come back for a signed figure another day.
After a short break (drink and a hot dog which will end up being my entire food for the day), we go back and I see Steve, a long time collector who I know and we chat about small things (he's helping Rena Owen this day, but she is gone right now for lunch I think). We hug, take a photo together and we know we have too much to do still, so we leave Steve and hope to meet again later. I never see him again but Scott does once.
I get into Tim Rose's line and get something signed for someone and forget my own item. I'll have to return another time as I am getting tired. We snap a photo or two and listen to him talk to fans about his characters. He's a neat guy. We spy Mike Quinn and I need a sig or two, so I get that and take another photo of Mike. He is the one person I've met more than the others. Three times already. But it's a joy because he's a gem. He's always cool.
We don't need Richard LeParmentier, though I spy a wicked cool photo on his table and consider buying it. I don't though. So we snap a photo which comes out blurry.
We go to Toby Philpott next. I get a hug, get him to sign my new poster/card where Mike has already signed and Tim Rose will eventually sign. We chat a few moments and we promise to get together for a drink, but never do. Time is just getting to us. I loved listening to him while waiting to introduce myself as I hear him talking about how they did Jabba. I forget to mention to Toby how another has told me how great the puppeteers are, are they too are performers/actors. There's no preaching to me this fact, I know this! Toby is an articulate man with a kind heart. I hope he does well this day. At the very least, he's in the US, gets to experience what the fans here might be like. I hope it's a nice experience!
After Toby, we see Dave Barclay next door and I get him to also sign my poster/card. He's not in alphabetical order which is good, because after all, the two Jabba puppeteers NEED to be side by side. Glad Gencon did this and I applaud them for it. Dave is nice too, but I quickly leave as a friend I know would say, I am "knackered".
We leave the hall only to rest. We are continually asked, "Is this a line for something?". This is a relevant to mention, because it's a foreshadowing of things to come!
After the rest we decided it's late, but want to get ALL the remaining autographs so the weekend will be free, so we head back in. We get into Simon Williamson's line and get a few sigs. He's nice. We don't linger or chat; we just take a couple photos and leave.
We walk the hall and I forget who I need. So Scott sees some we don't need but takes photos: Garrick Hagon....then I realize I need him on an item and quickly get it and leave. Scott snaps a photo of Shannon McRandle. I look around and realize I can't remember where I am at with orders, so I decided I got most....it's about 7-7:30 PM and we are dog tired. So we call it a night and head back to the hotel. We prepare for the next day. I need a couple more Matt Wood items, Kingma who is not there, Tim Rose on a poster and I decide to get Tim items he wants (A dual signed item of Rena Owen and Daniel Logan and Caroline Blakiston item-later it's someone else who wanted that, but I don't know who!). So I fill the orders I have so far and remember I will need to find Aaron Allston for Josh at some point. So I mark all this down and get my action figures together to get signed. And oh, I missed Bodie Taylor. So it it beginning to look like another day in the autograph hall! OH NO! but in reality, I do well... as you will see in tomorrow's entry.
Friday April 20th, 2005 Setting: Cold, dismal and rainy. We arrive early as did everyone else....but the line is up the roof, snaked several lines and back down around the entire convention center and down the block. TV cameras are gone; no one wants to be here, but we are all nuts and stay.
We are up at the crack of dawn...or earlier, but Scott does NOT want to go early this day. See, he's sick of losing sleep, standing in lines and spending money. He knows we need to spend a load more and he's not happy, so he tells me he wants the free continental breakfast. I know he's given up a lot so when Rob calls to tell where he's at, we tell him it looks like we'll be late. And so Scott gets his breakfast as we are leaving. It's about 6 am. This day we had decided to go back to the store, but there's no way. We are in the last row on the roof and it'll be 45 minutes in the door (though rumors are it took two hours the previous day). Somewhere, Rob too, is on the roof, but I've a feeling he and Lisa are probably near the front and no matter how much I try to find them, I can't see a thing. It pours so hard and all we have is this one orange thin plastic poncho and a newspaper. Scott uses the newspaper for cover and gives me the poncho since I have no jacket. Later we see his hat is filthy with newsprint markings on it. As he's using the paper for cover, people are reading the paper! It's about the convention. After several hours, like the previous day, we are in ... but it took 45 minutes just to get inside. Since the line for the store was about to be capped for the day and I had most of the autographs I needed, we decide to do what I want this day instead, and I am glad I did! First thing I head to is the Lucas Archives. We get in line and get in, within 10 minutes. We were in there about 15 minutes and took photos. It was GREAT! We got to see a couple models of the Millennium Falcon the Jawa vehicle, several of the light sabers and weapons, a Wampa, three of the costumes (Padmé, Anakin and I believe Obi Wan). What I thought was the coolest were the Wookie Costumes! Man, those things were great! We took photos and left.
Next we walked around the Exhibit Halls (B or C I believe)....first the fan fare room which had Jedi Training Academy and a nice and a life sized X-Wing which I THINK was from the film. I hope someone confirms this for me. R2 was inside; we snapped photos of that as well as the little Padawans on stage (they were really cute). Further down we saw the booth for the dioramas (I only saw one; don't know WHAT happened there; I must've missed something) and the R2 Builder's with their Droids. We snap a couple photos. Along the back wall was a group of cars that were tweaked out with Star Wars paint etc. I hadn't heard this was going to be here at all; it was ok. Next to that was that Dodge Viper on display ... it was painted with Star Wars and someone will eventually win it. It's a great looking vehicle. We saw a couple other booths/tables like the 501st booth where we picked up the cards. This was the busiest booth inside this particular Hall; I think they are becoming quite popular and almost celebrities themselves! Here, you could donate money for charity and pick up a wristband. I hope people contributed!
I realize that if I want to catch Rick McCallum at all, I'd better get in line or miss it. I head there and Scott comes, but leaves and decides to get my action figures signed. If he gets back in time, he'll come back in. By the time he's done getting the signatures, the doors close and he's unable to get back in. So I get to see Rick and he doesn't. I don't think he cares one bit though. It was a great show because they played one really long clip from Episode III and people really got excited! Rick then did a Q and A in which we are told things like: Yes, there'll be a Young Indiana Jones DVD set....Yes, there'll be a Indiana Jones 4.....Yes, the rumors are true, there'll be a 30 minute live action TV show that will take place between Episodes III and IV as well as an extended version of the Clone Wars Cartoon series. It'll be a half hour. But no, there will NOT be and Episode VII, VIII or IX. George would like to to more projects. Some questions that seemed ridiculous to this event were asked like "Uh, you took my resume last time but I got no call, would you take it now?" and some other question about technical cameras used which no one in the room had a clue about! People always think they are unique and have "the question" but in reality, everything has been said to these people; so just ask the basics! I had a feeling some tried to impress or something, but how can you impress someone who knows ten time more than you ever will? You can't. After the show, I leave and find Scott and tell him how exciting Ep III will be. I saw some things I wanted and I am not as unhappy with the trooper helmets and ships like I thought I'd be. It looks promising; moreso than Ep I and II. After getting out of the crowd, we wander aimlessly for a short while and end up in the back in Exhibit hall D.
Exhibit Hall D is where some of the artists/authors were and where all the merchants were. It was smaller than last Celebration. At least it seemed so. In here, you could buy any toy relating to Star Wars you can imagine; posters, autographs, other items. I saw several artists but had heard a rumor that fees were 30 dollars up for sketches and you had to get a number to get them. I felt guilty asking for signatures when they were charging, so I skipped them. Later I learn some didn't care. I did see Monty Moore and Dave Dorman, as well as many others inside. I got a photo of Dave Dorman, but that's about all. I just had too much in my hands to snap photos at that time. We didn't buy anything, but we picked up some of the freebies mentioned on the Celebration freebies/promo page. We decided we'd come back later to this area and maybe buy my son something. They had a nice Lego booth there too; also, there was a box display again, but it was not even close to as nice as the one they had last time. So we didn't take a photo. We also saw the Geek Squad. Not sure what this was exactly; I'll research it later, but it was quite and interesting display. The Del Rey booth was selling books but a lot were sold out! Also, there was a gaming area and some from ILM were talking about the new games....
It was then that I realized that Erik Tiemens talk was coming up, so we went to wait in line for that. While waiting, we were talking with other artists and they were commentating on Star Wars art and their own. One or two wanted Erik to sign something. I thought we didn't have a chance as I would love his signature too. A lady walked by and was videoing the line and Scott said something to her, thinking she was a reporter for local news or a documentarian....so she asked why we were in line to see Erik. I said I love the artists and she asked WHY we liked his work. Being politically correct, I said I couldn't say, as it'd not be cool of me to say I loved one more than the other as they are all great. It was only later did she say she was his wife. Had I have known that, I'd of said that I liked the dichotomy of what he does. He did mention his influences included some of the classic artists and I'd of guessed that as Caravaggio I believe it was, seems to come out in Erik's work. The contrast he does is astounding, so for "mood and lighting", he is the perfect choice. It's like despair is all around, but there's always some ray of hope. Apparently, Ryan Church was in the room as well. I didn't catch him... after it was over, someone tried to get an autograph from Erik, and he said he'd sign. We all waited patiently (I believe 7 people) for a while (by the designated pillar) but it dwindled to 4 because time was passing. Erik never came back out; he ducked out the back door (not by his own volition either as he told us later). Because we had to get in line for the next show, we thought to leave and after another guy left there were just three of us, and so two of us left knowing we were "ditched". We went upstairs to the Sagamore Ballroom, leaving one guy behind.
Upstairs, we waited for the Art Department show. Erik was at this show too, so I figured to try again if possible. We see it was hard for him to do anything, as he was carrying equipment. Why someone wasn't helping him pack it up and helping to carry it, I don't know. I'd of done it if I wasn't so shy! We got in relatively quickly and the show was great. Seven of the most talented ILMer's on stage talking about the processes and how it works from conception of some of the characters to the end result; this included Grievous. The also discussed their backgrounds and future plans. We fans love hearing all about it! After the show, 75% of the crowd left and a few lingered. Less than a couple dozen people waited and at least 10 or more were asking for autographs. I could not make my way in the crowd as a few of these guys were carrying large portfolios etc. I think they were hoping to show their work? Or maybe they were just posters; I don't know. But because of this, Scott got me all 7 signatures! Erik Tiemens, Ryan Church, Robert E Barnes, Derek Thompson, Mike Murnane, Feng Shu and Warren Fu! I was excited I must say, even though I could only get one of each and didn't have time to fumble for photos on all of them (I did get a couple though); 4 were on index cards. I wanted to try for a couple more for a friend, but some left and the couple remaining were being monopolized by some other fans.
After the show, we decided to finish up our autographs. So we went to see if Billy Dee was in the house and found out that was only the next day. I had forgotten I needed two more Matt Wood items, so I got those again and did go back to get the items for a friend who didn't have funds. I got everything I needed at that point except Billy Dee Williams and Tim Rose on my poster/card. I decided to come back the next day. We hung out in the halls, looking at the people and we ate a NASTY hamburger and Scott bought me fries, but I could not eat them. Ucky! It was here we got to talk to Danny for a bit. Nice guy; wish we could've talked longer. While sitting there, we kept being asked the whole time "Are you in line?" In line for what I don't know, but every time I stopped for more than 30 seconds, seemed like people were gonna ask me that! Amazing that eventually, they'd just look and start to speak and I'd say "No, this is not a line". It was quite comical.
We just watched the people in costumes, took photos, rested and contemplated the next day. You see, George was going to be there the next day, and we definitely wanted to see that. But all day, people were trying to line up for it, starting at 3 pm! So theoretically, people were willing to wait in line 17 hours! Not me. So I gave up on the dream and decided to plan my attack for Saturday. Worn out, we headed back to the hotel in the pouring rain, only to have the windshield wipers on our car die out. We ended up stranded for over 2 hours at some recycling plant from 8 pm till past 10 pm. We were cold, tired, hungry, had to use the bathroom and I did start to get a wee bit grouchy. We phoned the rental place and they could not bring us a car; we had to drive there and get another but we COULDN'T drive there as we couldn't see!!! We called the road service that comes with the rental and they could NOT get either a cab nor a tow truck to us because according to the lady "there was some Star Wars convention or something" and all the cabs and tow trucks were there with others! WHAT!?! So stranded, we waited till the rain was just medium and drove a block; wiped the windshield....drove a block....wiped it.... drove. etc. Till we got back to the hotel. At midnight, they called and asked where we parked; they brought us another car. Do you believe they were unhappy we wanted SOME compensation? Amazing. Anyway, as you can see, we made it alive. No thanks to that Chevy Impala (upgrade?) and Budget Rent a Car.
Saturday April 20th, 2005 Sleet/Rain/Slush or whatever you call it, it was DAMNED cold!
Though people wanted to line up at 3 PM the previous day, we heard they were out in force at night not letting people line up till midnight, 8 and a half hours before George was supposed to be in the house. Since we'd given up on the dream and had all the autographs we NEEDED (except Billy Dee), I freaked out when we drove up close to 6 am and there were people over a block away in line. So I made Scott let me out and I got in line in the freezing bitter cold/rain/snow/wind... and waited. It was then I found out it was the George Lucas line. I decided to wait until Scott found me and then go to the other line to just get in the store or the main entrance. I heard there were three lines this day, each one was blocks long, winding one way or another. But the George line was a couple blocks wrapped around! As I was waiting for Scott, Matt calls. He's made it to Indianapolis and gave up on the Lucas dream too. He's waiting in the regular line and isn't far back at all. So he holds a spot for us and we head there. He calls a couple times wondering about us, but we're far away and can't get through the crowds well. There is also a fourth line for people buying non-fan club entrance. We realize these lines are not only long, but getting convoluted! We stop briefly when our umbrella, which we bought at 5 am at a local Wal-mart breaks. We stop in a hall and give a homeless Vet a dollar and some donuts; though later Scott SWEARS he saw him in the convention center. Go figure huh? Finally we find Matt; talk for a while and have some Starbucks. At short spurts of time, we are moving up big gaps. We can't figure out why and all of a sudden they ask us....do you want to go see George Lucas? YES! Not only do we get to see George, but we get in the building a LOT earlier! So we get warm and we get yellow wrist bands (I chucked mine though; it got pretty nasty looking by the time I got back to the hotel) and are told we get into the first show! While walking through the snake lines before being seated, we snap a photo of us with armbands, to show our triumph. After a short bit, we are through and seated; not far from the front, but on the far left; facing the stage. We get to hear Jay Laga'aia tell the rules etc and he introduces the two kids (Katie and Jett) who introduce the man... George Lucas himself.
We see a shorter clip than in Rick's talk and then George answered questions others asked of Rick McCallum; yes, there'll be a TV show and now that he's done, what his plans are ... no, there isn't going to be a 7,8 and 9. A boy is brought on stage and gets to get a photo and shake George's hand. The whole things went by very fast. George seems to mix up Jay with Bodie Taylor; he calls him a clone. But he tried to recover by saying we are all clones. The show was short and I didn't sit close enough to see George clearly, but I can say I "saw him" anyway. I guess that's what everyone wants to claim.
After seeing that, we head over to get Billy Dee's autograph and this is where the disorganization showed. Up till now, I am impressed with the running of it. I have a couple suggestions, but pretty much, it wasn't bad at all. This time though, Billy is only here for a short while. We are told not to form lines. People form a circle and then several lines. Security tried to form lines but the people don't listen. I am just a couple back and these two guys get mad; they cut in front. You think it's only two then lots more come. Finally, I had enough. I begin yelling and telling people where to form. After all, SOMEONE has to do it! Some people listen; others do not. Eventually they have to open his queue area as the entire area is in chaos and nobody can get through to the other queues. People rush. When they let us in, they are calling off bracelet numbers...so this is why we have those. Smart thinking. Nobody listens much. They call people with the number one on their bracelets...that's me....and then a second number on the bracelets....0-300; I am number 0. I have the lowest numbered bracelet; yet I am being pushed, trampled on and smothered. I had to swear at some guys which I never do. I need to breathe. They have high numbered bracelets; they can't get in now and they will probably not be there for a long time so why are they pushing?! Geez. Finally, I get in the queue and have a ball talking to Chester and another guy. While talking to them about autographs, collecting, Star Wars and concerts, another guy asks me if I know a guy named Mike; turns out Mike and he are from my area and we have met before! Small world. I know have learned that this is the second guy from Chesapeake as I met another earlier Wednesday while picking up our rental car. It's a fun time, but the wait was excruciating! This is the longest wait other than being outside I have; and if not for the guys I was talking to, it'd been awful. All that and I didn't even get an autograph for me; I was just helping two friends. When Billy signs, we all see he's not a happy man. Rumors are he's in pain and/or drugged. He goes fast with the photos though and I don't get him to put his character name because he's already on the next person! He walks with a cane. We hear all the stories of times before; he's rarely happy, he doesn't like these things and last time he should've gotten his own room like Carrie Fisher did. This time, he gets preferential treatment by being the most expensive autograph at the show. This appears to be the only ego at the show; but he's not showing it to the people which is good.
My hubby finds me. I head to someplace I've not been yet; the fan club room. We arrive as Dave and Lou Elsey are supposed to leave. I want to talk to them as I am most interested in their work. I finally DO get to talk with them for a minute. I ask about Rick Baker and if they worked with him (Dave has sort of and Lou hasn't); I learn how they got started and that they loved doing Apes, so this is a dream job for them. I ask them to sign my photo even though previously the security/wrangler/associate says no autographs. They sign and I am thrilled beyond words. We head to the back; Jake Lloyd is there because the Elsey's stayed so long there was an overlap. I snap a photo and some guy from Russia asks me for a sharpie....but Jake won't sign. They whisk him off with no one getting an autograph. We stay in the room. Mike Murnane is coming in but I never see him. I think I do, but he's not in there long and everyone crowds briefly. I have the signature already, so I leave him be. He's been bugged way too much already today. I hang in for a while longer and while I am on the phone to my son (updating him on everything he's missed), Scott comes, grabs my Roger Guyett photo and comes back with it signed! He said the associate asked him if the autograph will be sold on Ebay. Scott says no and points to his wife, the huge fan. I miss talking to Roger and head to go, but Scott tells me something about him is slightly intimidating and I'd not feel comfortable. So I choose to hang back; hoping to listen to him. It's too loud and crowded, so I give up on that too.
As the end is drawing near, I am tired but say let's go back and buy something for Jeremy in the Exhibit Hall. We go in but don't buy anything. I look for Aaron Allston and don't see him again. Scott asks a lady sitting at a desk where he might be, but turns out it's Karen Traviss, author. She didn't know and when we find out who she is, we are embarrassed we didn't recognize her and so with our heads down, we pass by, not asking for a signature! And I brought a bookplate for her too! But as we are waiting and looking for a coffee mug or cool T-Shirt, we are given the book "Shatterpoint" by Del Rey Publishing. It's Matt Stover's book, and we are in a line to get it signed! Brilliant. I get the book and a signature for a friend (since I can't find Aaron Allston for him) and we end up leaving. We are just too tired to go on. I leave happy....after all, I got some great experiences this day.
Sunday April 20th, 2005 Rain/Wind and bitter cold.
It's another early day and we head to the lines before 6 am...Matt is again in line and we get in line with him. We freeze, we wait for Scott to get back with coffee and we go into the hotel/Starbucks and take a warmth break. Then I say we need to get back and as we go, the line is moving. For some STRANGE reason, they take pity and let us in early. We get a call from Rob once we're in the door. I talk and then decided if the line isn't so long at the store, we'll get 8 more action figures. After all, we can get them....our badges hadn't been punched. So we go there, deciding that if it takes too long, we'll leave the line. We are in the store in not too long a while and buy the figures and a T-shirt. We don't get the cases for the figures, nor the black T-shirt; they are sold out of both. We are told the Hoodies are gone, the poster...several items. We are out after 10 am and I have time to catch Pablo Hidalgo in the Fan Club Lounge.
I get some breakfast while waiting to see Pablo (he's later), I eat a hot dog and we share nachos. As I am waiting, Scott tries to see if Nick Gillard is done with his talk, but there's still time to go and he doesn't see how to get the signature for me. I tell Scott don't worry about it, Nick has signed already. I just love this photo though, and I would have liked to replace my index card. Pablo comes in but is so surrounded, I cannot sit near him, hear him or have a shot at bothering him for an autograph. So we leave and give up; we know there is only one chance left today: John Knoll.
After we ready to leave, Matt joins us and we end up trying to find Aaron Allston again, but again, he's not there. I give up. I see artists signing. We get in line and get one of my favorite artists sigs...Tsuneo Sanda, who signs a poster for me. Matt, gives me two signatures he got for me in the back: Hans Jensen and Richard Chasemore. I was looking for Richard before because I had a problem finding him prior to the convention. So I am happy to have this signature. I thank Matt, we have to go and I head to the autograph area one last time for the goodbyes.
So we head back to the autograph area and get Tim Rose to sign my poster/card. I next want to go say goodbye to Toby and then to Gerald Home. We have to leave in about two hours. As I am saying goodbye to Gerald, Scott is trying to ship our figures home so we don't have to put them in the cargo hold. Two hours pass and Scott is still in the same line. I have conversations with Gerald who is absolutely fascinating. I learn all sorts of interesting stuff about the characters and images he is on and not on (but people think that's him). I also get to meet a talented guy who sculpts and who gave Gerald a fan-made bust. He's talented for sure. I talk to a couple who makes me laugh as they tell the story of the one man SW show and the musical. I missed those! I wished there was one more day, so I can see these two shows and go back for more crew signatures! I also talk to a guy from Germany who is very animated and is enjoying the event. He loves Star Wars, but doesn't have a website. I forget his name, but if he remembers me at all and reads this, please email!
Well, it's over. We really have just overlapped the John Knoll time slot and even if we run down there, he's ready to leave....so again, I give up the dream. Instead, we spend about 10 minutes sitting on the floor outside the autograph area, where Chester and his wife come and sit. We talk and I tell them to email. They seem like good people. I think these are the sort of people we'd hang out with. After our goodbyes, we leave the convention center, head to the parking garage and pack up and leave for the airport. It's been one long day....
We return our car rental and get a small credit for our wiper disaster. Comes to about 25 dollars give or take; quite honestly, they were not nice as they should've been considering we were stranded for hours and probably spent that much on roaming minutes talking to people from their company that could not help us! We then catch the shuttle to the airport and we eat while waiting; and watch the Star Wars people mingle. The airport if full of them. They're everywhere. We talk with guys on our first flight who were talking about the shows and toys and costumes. We spoke with a man and boy who have been at the airport hours on standby. We notice his pass is signed by Rick McCallum. I ask him about it and find out he knows Rick. I get the inside scoop on where to write and that Rick is a fantastic guy....
We board the plane, arrive in Cincinnati inside an hour. We eat at a restaurant in our terminal. I notice that no Star Wars people are here now. It's officially over; everyone has dispersed to other terminals etc. After boarding and a short trip home, we arrive, happy in knowing I did what I wanted mostly and my pets are fine and so is the house. We leave everything and hit the bed. There's nothing to do now expect update my site, mail everyone's stuff and after unpacking, I know things will be normal. That is until Celebration IV!