|May 2nd Thursday:
Started to get sick. But nothing will stop me from going and we
promised family we are going to visit. All things pretty set. Car is in
shape, all items we need to take are packed and hotel arrangements made.
Cel phone numbers given out and we got our Walkie talkies... most importantly,
we have cash! Site uploaded for last time in a while and said good bye for
now . . . a good night's sleep is all I need.
May 3rd 4:30 am Friday: We awake, shower and put everything in the car and are off about 5:30 am. Jeremy is sad to be left behind, but he's got school and we know he can't take off because they are gearing up for finals. So we give him final instructions, talk to the neighbor and head off on a long journey. It's the first day of the convention and we couldn't go because it'd meant leaving yesterday, and Scott didn't have enough vacation. I am a bit anxious. I am wondering "what am I missing". All the while I feel pretty ill and for some reason, I have seemed to lose my voice. I think it's the excitement over meeting some collectors I've been talking to for a while. Or maybe that I won't get what I need. Who knows. But I am pretty excited. Jason thinks it's a bunch of hooey. Scott is there to carry my stuff around and stand in line. He knows the deal and loves me anyway. What a guy. We barely stop except for donuts, gas, map checking and just for Mickey D's for lunch and Bob Evans (just outside Indianapolis) for dinner. After 12 hours and a half hours or so, we arrive at the Hyatt Regency and check in. Upon checking in, I see Han, Chewie, a few Stormtroopers and some people dressed in unique garb not indigenous to the films, but some variation thereof. Jason all of a sudden awakens. He's actually getting excited. A couple of Stormtroopers from the 501st tell us they've been in costume for many hours and are exhausted. So am I. We know tomorrow will be an early day... as we look out our window, we see the convention hall. That's cool, I'll get in early! I plan to get up at 5 am sick or not. And yeah, by now, I am feeling pretty bad but I say hey, I am just tired. So we get some sleep.
May 4th Saturday: It boils down to this day and I am ready! My bag is packed. I shower and put on my lanyard and think it's gonna be an easy day. After all, it's 5am or so and Scott thinks I am insane for getting up so early. What are all those people on the street at 5 am? I thought it was only Vegas that didn't sleep. Must be joggers or something. I can't tell. People are EVERYWHERE. Can't be convention goers, it's too early. But Breakfast is on the mind ... and Mickey D's is downstairs in the lobby; I want some O. J. So everyone showers and listens to me bark (or squeak because I have laryngitis) commands. This is my trip after all. So we get the food and are headed for the line by 7 am. I keep wondering who these people are and I am told it's a line. I turn the corner after a block and the line keeps going. Another corner, another corner, another corner and still more. Thousands of people are in line. Surely there's a mistake. After all, I am a fan club member and will get in an hour early! But wait! Oh Lord! EVERYONE has a lanyard. What's this? It's some sort of marathon. Indianapolis is swarmed by convention goers, hundreds of marathon runners and police! I get in line at least a mile or more down the road; maybe longer. Can there be this many fan club members? Oh my, well surely they're not all there for Carrie Fisher's signature or the figures. I take a poll, polling every single person I talk to. Everyone is there for those two things! I tell Scott I am obligated for the Figure the most since I sold one, so we need to get that first. So I revise my plan, throwing EVERYTHING off. Scott gives me the bad news: "You're on your own sweetie, I have to get Jason a pass, you didn't get him one remember?" And he's off to get the pass. About 2 hours later, I haven't moved one inch. About 2 miles more of people are behind me now and I shudder for them. Poor suckers! I thought I had it bad. I talk to people in line, see the program book and the pull sheet someone has from the previous day. People tell stories. Someone tells me they saw Temuera Morrison. He can't sign. Or he won't. Others talk about the fan films or the opening event. Nothing spectacular they say. I'll be able to see most of it today. Others tell about Hayden Christensen being nasty. Someone says they asked for his autograph and after Hayden signed for someone else and Hayden says, "check ya later". Punk. I get a cel phone call from Rob, a nice guy I've been communicating to for a long time; we hope to meet today. I try talking, but the squealing coming out of my mouth confuses Rob. He hangs up. My purse rings again. Jeremy says Dave called. I gave Dave my home number and not my cel number. You see, the numbers are identical except for three digits! Poor Dave. I try calling him back but can't find the number. Screams and yells. Something happening! It's Anthony Daniels working the crowd. At least I saw him. Now I am more excited. He was a bit far away and If I moved, I'd lose my place in line, so I snapped a photo and that was all. Scott comes back and tells me after he got Jason a badge (right away too, only took like 20 min), they got in the NON-fan club member line. Those people get in one hour AFTER all the fan club members, or after the fan club members are in, whichever comes first. Since it took 3 hours for me to get in the door, you know the latter came first! Scott tells me he saw Daniels too; he got his photo. Mr. Daniels asked Jason if he was smoking a joint! That's because Jason smokes cigarettes down to the filter and holds it like a joint apparently (not that I'd know anything about that-Shhh). Scott heads back to the line with his new instructions. The orders are to Scrap Carrie's signature until the figures are in hand. He agrees. If they run out of figures, he's to go immediately to the Carrie line and call me on the Walkie Talkies; Scott nods. After a three-hour wait, I am inside! I beg people to know where the figure line is. I half jog there. I get in line. Phew. After an hour in line I call Scott. No one in line talks much but some are chilling with me. Kids are cranky. A tattooed individual has multiple SW tattoo's on him. They are cool, but whoa, that's a fan beyond the pale. Scott's not in the building yet. He's moving though and heading in soon he thinks. After being in line for an hour and a half, I abscond with two figures of my own. The kid in back of me is only getting one figure and his dad doesn't want to get him that because they are on strict budget. So I tell his dad if the boy gets me a figure, I will buy his figure at $10 and give him a $20 tip. But then I go to pay him, I only have $20's. So the boy gets $40. He's happy, his dad is happy and I am thrilled because they just announced they figures are almost gone. But alas, the girl rushing me tells me sorry, no pins, no posters or no T-Shirts. They ran out! Already? Geez. I cannot get the anniversary poster. That means no artists sigs probably. I get out of the line (getting nasty leers by some who saw me with the boy and the figure) and get out into the lobby to get Carrie's sig. But an announcement comes on. They've cut off the line for Carrie. No sigs after the cut off. I can't get one! Knowing Scott can't get a figure probably, I call him on the Walkie Talkies and say "Scott, Scrap the figures and Carrie Fisher. Go to Exhibit Hall D". No answer. Just a hoard of banter from others on the same frequency (we later keep it on the same channel which almost got me into a fight with one woman on the same channel...she threatened me and told me to get off the channel and had I of had time, we'd of duked it out. But alas, no time for that nonsense now). Eventually, after innumerous tries, Scott hears me, and says he and Jason got the figures. I don't know how, but they did and they were 6th from the end of people who got them! Holy cow. Lucky ducks. I've had to scrap my plans a couple times now. Well one thing down, that's something. Ring. It's Stephen . . . he can't hear me, but tells me where he is and I say I am headed there shortly. First I want to pull my photos though. After finding the line (which was not easy) and being chased by Stormtroopers to get off the cement, I finally find it. Scott tells me the troopers yelled at him too. Man, next time they better blast me... I am not in the mood. After 10 min in line, I realize I don't have one of the pull sheets. Apparently, there's a pull sheet line too! Oh my Lord, will the madness ever end? So I get in that line. Hey, only 5 minutes! I make my way to the other line to order the photos after about an hour and a half. I ask questions. I find out they didn't explain things right online. Some think it's $1 per pull, others $2 and some $10! Holy cow! I don't care. At this point, I am paying the price. People thought you could pull only 10. I think it's more. I don't know. But I check off a lot of photos. But oh no, Silas Carson didn't show. So I cross that off. I have like 40 photos or so to be pulled. Those who want sigs can take it or leave it. I am sweating, ill and don't care! I fill out the sheet, pass out some of my business cards and talk to a nice guy from Canada. Eh? I love it and he was fun to talk with. It reminds me to try to call Laura. Laura is an aspiring actress from Canada who loves Hayden. She will meet him I know. I need to find her. Together we can conquer. I do call her, but someone picks up the cel phone and hangs it up or it died. Laura invited me to the Fan Force party last night, and it was in the hotel. It was starting when we got there and we were too tired. I wanted to tell her sorry, let's meet up later. I tried again and the phone wasn't working. I call Scott on the Walkie Talkies and tell him to get in line to get tickets for autographs. But alas, he can't find the ticket place, which is the line near me! He is on a mission for promo cards...and freebies. I filled out the pull sheet wrong. I had two sheets. On the front of one sheet I checked all the photos I want. On the backside of the other sheet, I fill out my name and address, phone, email etc. I wonder why. They guy tells me it's for mailing photos. They are so booked already they don't think they'll have my photos! Oh no. I am worried. The guy takes $490.00 from me and promises to staple the sheets together.... I ask for a receipt. "Receipt? We don't give receipts", he says. I am cranky at this point. I've been in line over what many hours already and the days pretty much shot and I've not seen a damned thing. I am sick, tired, haven't sat down and my god I WANT a receipt. "Okay", he says. He rips off a sheet of scrap paper from a pull sheet and scribbles something. It's only later I learn he wrote Received $490.00. Darth. That was it! Anyone could be Darth. Scott finds me (yippee). He suggests I get water and rest. I agree. We go to the hotel, drop off the figures (7 of them), the programs he bought for $10 each, the pen for Jeremy ($15) that lights up ($15 for a pen?) and two bags containing flyers and a promo card and two packets. Jason has eaten some free snacks that had Frito Lay pieces in it. So I luck out and get some pieces. We eat, drink, rest for about 10 min and head back. Scott thinks I'm nuts, but he know what this means to me. I get in line for tickets. I get some. I use these to get cards for a couple people who wanted signatures on CCG and Evolution cards. I walk right in an up to Bruce Boa because no one is in his line. I get the sigs and say thank you. I can't talk. Not even to the celebs. They'll think I am crazy because of the sounds I am making. I get some other sigs. John Hollis, who shook very badly was one. I was so sorry he wasn't feeling well I didn't ask for a photo with him. I got Tim Rose who was wonderful, and then off to Mike Edmonds. I ask a lady if he'll be back soon but before she speaks, in back of me I hear "I am right here love". He's obviously tired at this point but is gracious and signs. I tell him I love his accent and he can't hear me. I repeat it and he says thanks and hopes I get better. . . I shouldn't be speaking with people. I spy some celebs I don't need autographs from but I take photos of them. Julian Glover, Michael Sheard and more. I cannot get Billy Dee's sig either because his line too, is cut off. Dang it! Carrie and Billy are who I need most. I spy Bonnie Piesse and yes, that must be Stephen. I walk over and introduce myself and apologize for my appearance. I am sweating profusely, can't speak and look awful; pale one minute and red the next. I look old today. But I love meeting Steve and am thrilled to finally find someone I know. He takes a photo of me and Bonnie and we'll get a photo later. They are a bit busy, but Bonnie I hope enjoyed it all because once the movie comes out and everyone sees it, she'll never be this "un-busy" again! Forgive the 'Sueism'. I make up words as I go along. Anyway, I ask Steve about Mike Quinn. He's not at the booth next door and since I can't get Carrie or Billy, there's a friend who wants Mike to sign the poster. It's the last one I need for him. Then I can work on everyone else's items and mine and also contact Dave to meet up. Steve says Mike is out and may be back or not. He'll take the poster and coupon and get him from me. Steve's awesome. One of the most honest and trustworthy and nicest people you would ever be happy to know. I am pleased. I tell Steve to call me. I get some more photos and sigs and am done. I find Scott and Jason who took photos of life-sized Legos statues and crowd shots. They were checking out the area, the women and smoking. I hear the story of the 501st formation outside and I'm told one of the Stormtroopers proposed marriage to one of the Generals. She said yes. Scott gets a photo of the formation but not the proposal. Geez. We only have a little time left for the evening. We want to catch a show. Rob calls. We go to meet him at the Attack of the Fetts show. We go to wait in line and Rob is there already. Guess what? We find Rob but I doubt we'll get in. Seems like a couple hundred in line and the seats are not that plentiful. Rob will be lucky to get in I think. By the time we are done chatting, the line is twice as long so we give up and change plans; AGAIN. We got to the artist area by accident. I am tired. I sit along the wall and Scott calls Dave because he finds the number on a piece of paper. Dave will meet us in room 105. Jason gets in line for me to get the artists signatures. I see them, see their work, but don't chat. After getting the sigs, Jason is excited. He insists on keeping one of the sigs. He seems to have found the excitement of autograph collecting. He asks me for Joe Corroney, Matt Busch and is definitely keeping Brian McKinney's signature! I say go back and ask for a second. I am lucky they signed because I could not find my index cards. The program book is at the hotel and all I have on me is some bookplates. There's a big problem. Those bookplates were designed by Dave Dorman and though they admire him maybe, he's a rival. They won't sign the bookplates. But they would sign the backs! We wait. I get a soda and Dave arrives. I am thrilled to meet him. At last!!! He gives me a couple items. A Carrie autograph in case I don't get one, a wonderful Southampton rugby shirt which is great and some mini posters. What a nice guy. I forgot his gift. I have to mail it :( I told Scott to remind me, but we forgot 4 or 5 other things too. We just were not as organized as I thought! We chat, take a photo or two and make plans to meet for a drink. Dave will call at the hotel. By now it's late. We take a walk by the the exhibit hall to get author sigs, but I can't find any. I do see Daniel Wallace but there's a big line and I think I have to buy the book. I don't know if I've enough cash left, so I skip it. We head out to the Star fighter on display. Take a photo and leave for dinner and some regrouping. But the I realized I needed the poster for tomorrow's shot at Carrie and Billy. I wait outside while Scott tries to get the poster from Steve. Apparently, it's 6:45 and they were done a while ago. He's gone! Oh oh. Well, he'll call at the hotel. We are done for today and I need to plan tomorrow; off to the hotel for a change of clothes, food and some organizing. I rest for about an hour. At about 8:30 or 9:00 PM, and Dave calls. We meet for a drink and chat and he's marvelous. I wish others would have called. We could all have met for a drink. I've hardly have seen anyone. After that, Dave leaves and tells me he'll see me tomorrow and will call me in the early morning. With that, we go back to the hotel room and gather the plan for tomorrow. And off to dreamland.
May 5th Sunday: My mission is to get up at 4:30 am and get in line. Second is to get in Carrie's line. Scott, who gets in later, is to go immediately to Steve, get the poster and bring it to me in the Fisher line if possible. He's then to get tickets for Billy Dee's several signatures I need. I am in line by about 6 am or so. As it happened, I only turned about 3 corners; I think and am half the distance as the day before. Now that's something good, although there's still many hundreds ahead of me. I skip breakfast and fluids even though sick. As it happened, but chance I met Rob! Woo hoo. He's got about 40 people behind him (this is the end of the line). I ask Rob it they'll get mad if I stay and chat as they'll think I am cutting the line. I start chatting and stay so long the people forget and don't lynch me. Rob is with his friend Scott who seems nice. There are some odd characters in line with us. One guy from New York who gets a bit upset when someone kicked his coffee. Apparently it was expensive, because he thinks it ruined his vacation. Other conversations about weird stuff. Personally, I loved it. These people are the faces of the US. They are funny. They probably thought I was insane too. Rob and I have a wonderful conversation. I get a call from Dave. I am getting in... early. Shhh. I wish Rob could have too, but I am not the one with the power... So about 8 am or so, I get in early. I say goodbye to Rob, the crowd and people eye us (maybe with evil or envy?) as we walk in the door. Dave buys me a water and I am thankful because I've got a tickle in my throat. Wow, $2.50 for water. We find the Carrie Fisher line and I sit and wait along with others. I was amongst the first 50 or so. While in line, Dave leaves to get tickets and do something. ABC or NBC (I forget already) wants an interview with Carrie. She says no. Suddenly, a crowd is chanting. A hundred or so chanting either go, go go or ugh ugh ugh. I can't decide which. Then a gasp and CHEERS. What was it? A man was egged on to open his figure (the go go go we heard). When he opened it they gasped then cheered. Poor guy. Later, we get the scoop. NO PHOTOS at all in the room with Ms. Fisher. Only a few people in the room at a time and we are allowed 4 items only. Only two can be personalized. Being about 49th in in line... I hear them changing the rules as they go. They change it to one personalized item and then cut it off entirely when I get there. Poor people outside. How unsuspecting. When I get to her, I think that she won't personalize my item and I missed the cutoff, but she said, "what's your name" I didn't hear her at first and hesitated and she got a little snippy and said "hurry, hurry". I tell her my name and get a personalized signature on a photo. Thinking she changed the rules by herself at that moment and she might personalize the second item which is for someone else, I say, "I don't need this one personalized" and she said, "It doesn't matter, that's all you get!". She was a bit grouchy. She doesn't look well...hair is messy and she didn't look up. I think she's not happy this day. I hear reports she was nice Saturday. Dave even got candy from her. Oh well. I got the sigs and am happy. So I am off. I thank Dave for his mercy help and call Scott on the Walkie Talkies. There was no way to obtain the poster to get Carrie's signature in time. So I vow no problem, I'll get Billy's signature and I'll just be missing that one signature and one of Carrie's on a card someone wanted. No biggie. They'll have to understand. Besides, I pulled photos so they can have one of those as an option. I then head off to get the poster but can't. They won't let me in without tickets. I have one left from yesterday so call Scott to give me his three tickets and the cards etc. I need signed. I go to the what I think is the Billy Dee line and Dave meets me in line and guess what? I am not in the Billy Dee line, but Dave Prowse's which has gotten so out of control they have goons monitoring it. I hear another Hayden Story. Hayden can't sign. But he did for a couple people. Not wanting to be mobbed, Hayden puts on a Stormtrooper helmet and wanders the hall where I am and checks out his action figure. No one knows it's him. Everyone including me saw him and no one knew it was him. Dang it! I hear Daniel Logan signed a couple items but kept looking at the organizer for guidance. They would say no. But one guy has a way cool item and gets it signed. Rumors abound. Sam Jackson is here (NOT). Lucas will show for closing to surprise all (NOT). They don't realize it, but Daniel's been walking around all day. Someone saw Carrie in the Ladies room. Chewie just came by and spilled a bit of coffee or something on someone's shoes. Stuff like that. All I really care about is the Billy Dee sig on the poster to make up for the Carrie sig. A few people asked me for Billy, I need him. The others are a cake walk so I don't sweat them. I keep trying to sneak in from the line to get the poster from Steve who was with Bonnie but they weren't having it. Dave has disappeared. Where now? I need to lose some weight and wear a low cut outfit next time. Show some skin and get by the goons with Security marked on their coats. Ten years ago, I could get in with a smile. Now I am old and chubby. My chest is big, but on a big woman, who cares! Next time, showing skin might work. Dave to the rescue; AGAIN! I get in the area. I thank him hourly for his help. But just as we leave the line, Scott comes up. He saw Steve and has bad news, the poster is lost. My heart sinks. I am a mess. Sweat? You now see it easily. Dave talked to Steve too. He knows about this darned poster and feels bad. After talking with Steve about the poster myself, I leave again for more tickets. I am in line with some nice people, including a guy who looks exactly like Nicholas Cage. He gets that all the time. Only difference is his hair is darker and straighter and he's younger. But he could enter a contest and win. Nice guy. I give him my card. He's nice because I was in line with him before and he held my place and told me it's ok to come back into that place in line. He defends me to the sneering people. But I am in the wrong line anyway. After being chased for nearly 40 minutes by Security for trying to get in line for the tickets (they didn't want a line forming because they were too busy and needed to clear out the celebrity area first) I manage to get in line. Why? Because I had no place else I wanted to go. This was my main mission and I wasn't leaving. I WANTED to make a line. More importantly, I wanted to be first IN that line. I wanted to know how it felt to be in fast. Other people feel the same. Little by little crowd gets big. I go from number 2 in line to about 50 in a minute when the event staff and security give up. People swarm the ticket line. I am lost in the confusion and pushed back. People cut in front of me, elbowed... it was pitiful. While in line, Scott informs me he got Billy Dee's signature on all my items. Scott and Jason got me more promo cards too and some cube thing. I talk to Steve again and he apologizes. Not much else can be done. What can we do? Nothing. I get another photo from Mike Quinn and take a photo; he hugs me and feels bad about the poster. What a nice man. I move on and take a photo with Bill Hootkins and get his sig but just before that, he spies an Elvis Stormtrooper and insists on taking a photo because this made the whole day worthwhile for him. I admit it was pretty cool. I snap a photo of them. Mr. Hootkins returns, takes a photo and chats. What a neat man. Dave arrives. Dave introduces me to Michael Sheard. He's got a party invitation and we know where it is... we could crash it... but we won't. Contrary to the stories, he was quite quiet. Not shy at all about throwing back a few. Then I hear "Sue?". I turn around and it's Aaron. Great! I am glad to meet him finally. We talk a bit, but not much; perfunctory. He's way cool and I would help him in a sec if I can. He seems nice but we only say hi, chat a sec and take a photo. I am again asked if I am Sue I turn around and it's Warren. I chat with him, introduce Dave and take a photo. Warren is sweet. Don't tell him I told ya. I ask about Gary. He and I should talk. Now is not a good time I don't think. Too much water they say. Leave well enough alone. But hey, I am happy. I ask about Graham who I've not seen and I forgot about Kevin! Kevin was on the autograph panel Sunday. I didn't make it. I was just struggling to get what I needed. There wasn't time for more really. I don't think Kevin needed me, but I sure would have liked to have met him. I apologize to him if he's reading this. I wanted to go soooo badly. We should have exchanged hotel info etc. I so hoped he and Graham would have been around. I hear Doug is there too. But I don't know what he looks like really. Plus, he and I should not meet anyway. So I miss him and Laura as well. There's a couple other people there because Jeffrey had asked to have breakfast, but I don't have his info either. We didn't contact each other the couple days before. So I give up on finding them all. Oh, and I almost forgot, Tim is upstairs with the modeler's group and I am so close yet so far! I met some of the collector's I chat with though, and am content. It was the highlight for me really. I see Billy Dee Williams now myself. I get a photo of him looking up. Scott tells me Billy didn't look up and when Scott asked him if he was getting bored signing, he says Billy didn't even acknowledge he was there. But we got the sigs. That's all that matters in the end. With that over, I looked about for a bit at some of the merchandise. Dave meets me, says he's leaving for Detroit then back to the UK. We say our goodbyes and I am sad we didn't have more time. Scott, Jason and I head out for lunch. A nasty piece of broiled chicken on a bun. Nothing on it. No mayo... nothing! It's ok. I am sick anyway. I eat 2/3 of it, drink water and we sit outside. We decide to go back in. We will check every place possible for the poster. We do. Nothing. I don't want to leave without it. Scott says forget it, someone stole it and I doubt it'll ever be found again. As a consolation, I realize I never saw the props. It's 2 pm and Celebration closes forever in two hours. I need to see the props. PLEASE! Scott says, "honey, I know, but you look bad; you need to sit or something." I insist. We find the line. Nope, it isn't happening. It's a two-hour wait. I am crushed. No author sigs either. No time nor money left. We need what we have left for the rest of the trip. So I sit outside on a step with a warm Diet Pepsi, crushed I didn't see any shows, the props, and missed a couple friends. I did not see Trisha Biggar, Goodman, Ben Burtt, Rick McCallum or any of the ILM heroes ... I am reminded it's a 4 hour drive to Illinois plus time to find the Navy Base where we will be lodging. Scott tells me the car is packed. I use the restroom and we're off.... with that, we look back at the building and leave. It's over.
NOTES: If you ask me who the biggest stars of the event were, I'd tell you the lesser characters. Bill Hootkins, Bruce Boa, Mike Edmonds, Bonnie Piesse, the artists, Tim Rose and Mike Quinn...and a few others. Who weren't? The bigger they are, the worse. The biggest stars were the fans. Rob who drove for hours and who entertained me for hours in line, Dave who slaved for a vendor and gave up all his time to him and to me, and the countless faces... Steve who sacrificed time for helping Bonnie. Then there were the faceless ones that waited in long lines, spent loads of money and when things didn't go their way, they didn't form a lynch mob. They put up with a lot and for that, they earned a star in my book.
So when you crave that big name, remember to cherish the signature of the artist who took time to draw you a sketch. Or the character with no lines who spent his few hundred dollars salary years ago yet 20 years later will write you a personal letter. These are the people who make the hobby worth it! Not the "stars" who are get paid a lot and could care less that you waited in line for 7 1/2 hours with two small children and were told you left for the day. "Sorry", they say, "no sigs now" and by the way, that $120 you paid for your family to get in today? Oh well, that's the breaks! For those who weren't able to get that figure, that Carrie Fisher signature or for those who spent your life savings and waited in line for many hours for so little . . . I salute you! You are my hero.
Celebration III? I am planning it now. I must be masochistic. Either that or Lucas has used subliminal messaging on me. In any case, count me in.