Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Final report of 2016: Two days of pain and agony

This is the time of year I dread the most. I dress 3 layers from feet to neck, wait outside, tackle a horrid crowd, and get blown off by so many celebs. 

To boot, normally I have the full list of attendees. This year I sadly only had a partial list. So my autograph scores would be limited. This added to the already pain ridden weekend.

Day 1 starts off slow. I get Darius Rucker from Hootie & the Blowfish, Vince Gill who I had, Lee Sklar. Elle King did nothing going in but leaving she did 2 or 3 photo ops. I got one of them. This would be all she did for the entire weekend. 

Eagles did nothing for no one a expected. The exception is leaving where Joe Walsh signed a few on each side and I managed to get one of those. He would do nothing else the entire weekend. Joresky and some others showed him an Eagles item which didn't help matters as this is exactly how you get Joe to stop doing anything. We were expecting Al Pacino but he didn't show up as he flew in later that day.

Martha Argerich is essentially a modern day Beethoven. Not a name I truly care for but got one of the few photo ops she did. It's pretty solid for get if there as it's a nice score for a well rounded collection. Saw James Taylor again and got him on two items (he was doing two per). Mavis Staples signs a few autos but does little else the entire weekend. Sean Penn arrives and as expected doesn't even look at anyone. 

Bob Seger did nothing for no one and would do nothing the entire weekend. Didn't bother with Garth Brooks as I have shots with him. Other scores include legendary guitarist Steve Vai and Jaunes. 

Sheryl Crow went in and did nothing but she promised she would take care of people on the way out. When she did come out most people were gone so she did combos with the few people left, and I got a combo! Wow so much nicer with a smaller crowd.

With this over it was time for evening events. After some nice pizza at Costco I went to a spot which was completely new to me. Over there I would score a Gabrielle Anwar combo, Chris O Donnell photo (could not get him to sign for me though he signed for others) and two members of the band Kings of Leon (one of which is the lead singer). People got Al Pacino at his hotel but I didn't bother to rush there since I have two shots (albeit shades shots) and his autograph is so bad I don't see it as worth the effort. 

Sheryl Crow

Full list of Saturday photo ops

On to day 2 of pain and suffering. Starts off with music. Get drummer Russ Kunkel, also upgrade my Darius Rucker. He goes "how many photos do you need" I say "this is an upgrade you have no cap on" which he scoffs at. Garth Brooks is well dressed so I get a photo op just because. Yo Yo Ma does nothing entering but shockingly takes care of everyone leaving. I upgrade my photo op with him. 

Kevin Spacey showed up and only signed for me on my side as he went to the other side. Already got a picture with him in the past. 

Get photo op with actor Brian Stokes Mitchell and autographs from actor Bobby Cannavale (had a photo op already so concentrated on autographs). 

Ringo Starr did nothing for no one as expected. I Virgilized Chris O Donnell getting another shot and also got another shot with Gabrielle Anwar. 

Don Cheadle who I got a bad photo in the past took care of everyone leaving. Thankfully I scored a perfect shot with him this time! Andra Day was super nice to everyone leaving. Don't know who she is but won't refuse a photo op if there. Also got a great music score in Domingo of the Three Tenors. I'm honestly not a fan of his type of music but I know who he is and know what a great name that is so was happy to get that. Then got the remaining two members of Kings of Leon that I didn't get last night as I took my spot for the actual event. 

Now this is where I go into crisis mode. I go to get something from the car and my car isn't there. I couldn't not believe it! While the meters on the street had a paper saying you couldn't park there at those hours, I was parked in front of the entrance of an embassy that had NO meters and NO papers! All the meters were to the left and to the right of the signs where I was parked in between. Hours on those signs were restricted Monday through Saturday but I was parked on a Sunday. 

I rushed back to my spot but I panicked! I called a million numbers and none said my license plate was on record as towed. Could it be that I had my license plate wrong since after all I was going by memory? Could it be that it wasn't in the system? Or could it be that my car was stolen! And my house key was in the car! I called a million numbers none which gave me any results. It seemed like best case scenario I'd have to pay 3 figures for the tow and as someone else explained to me you get a parking ticket in addition to the tow! To boot, celebrities were coming and I couldn't be very aggressive. I failed to get anything from Kevin Spacey (either auto or photo op upgrade). I only got one auto from Sam Moore, one from Lynda Carter, one from Cal Ripken Jr. Luckily I had photo ops with them all. Most people however did not stop so I didn't miss too much even in crisis mode. But had I been more aggressive could have had something from Kevin Spacey and more autos from Sam Moore. I also picked up repeat photo ops with Lilly Rabe and Trisha Yearwood and a couple of other shots. 

After this I ran to find a police officer. Luckily lots were around. I went to a cop car, explained my situation, and gave my driver's licence. She called the guy with the crane truck and said he is coming and we can ask him if he took my car. He came, I described my car and where it was parked, even showed the photo how I didn't break any laws. He told me to make a right and go up the street my car is there. I replied "and I can go get it?" and he goes "yes unless you want me to get it". I say "bless you kind sir" I run to my car and there it was! WOW crisis averted! Sadly I had a $50 parking ticket on it, but at that point it was getting off easy. The reason for the ticket was cited as what was on the signs stuck to the parking meters, but I have every single intention to contest this parking ticket with full photographic evidence on how there were NO signs where I parked it and how I was 110% legally parked for the entire day. To boot, after my car was towed other cars parked right where I was. 

After going to bathroom, I go back in position. This time we are only FOUR people as everyone went to rest up. Lo and behold the nasty Sean Penn is out for a smoke break. Says he will come over to sign but NO cameras and NO pictures! He signs one per. Goes to show you the difference between a few people and a crowd! Sean Penn stopped! 

After this the event breaks and no one really comes over. They were even blocking combo hunters from even waiting at one of the doors. A couple of people broke the rules and went inside and got photo ops with Bob Seger, Don Henley, and Timothy B. Schmit. While people that followed the rules ended up being booted off the property. At this point most combo hunters rushed to Al Pacino's hotel but I elected not to as it was raining and miserable. This is a decision I regret cause even getting Picino's horrid scribble would have been better than getting nothing at that point. 

Chris O'Donnell

Gabrielle Anwar

Don Cheadle


Full list of Sunday photo ops part 1

Full list of Sunday photo ops part 2

Here's the showcase of autographs

Autographs part 1

Autographs part 2

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Some scattered meets in late November and Early December

In November was an event where some A list names were expected. Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Deniro, Bill Gates among others. 

I arrive and had to run to a nearby hotel in order to take a badly needed crap. When done I am greeted with the first punch. Everyone is in! While it wasn't that huge a punch as the only ones that stopped were Denrio and Redford, and Redford (who I didn't have) did no photo ops (in fact one Master only managed to get a completely invalid shot), starting the day with multiple Deniro and Redford autographs would have been a damn decent start. 

At this point we are just waiting to see what randoms show up. First photo op is Ashlee Simpson. Then Tyler Perry comes in and I get a shot. Would have been a nice pick up but I had him already. 

I then go to Costco to get some food, and come back to wait for exits. We see Robert Redford, and plead, but sadly he does nothing for no one. 

We wait and it comes to a point where it is apparent people are leaving from another door. 

Rush there and apparently just missed Bill Gates and Bruce Springsteen. Gates signed one auto total (no photo ops) and Bruce did a couple. Additionally at the gate there's a whole bunch of random people gawking. Thankfully there was a huge walkway and the graphers are going to chase people all through as gawkers do nothing but still. 

Sadly things didn't get too much better for me. Deniro did nothing then we all ran after him right up to his car. He signed in the car and I got a horrid auto (signed in a dark spot and only the "robert" part). I see Tom Hanks and he refuses to sign. So I try for a photo op upgrade and get invalid shots. I am next to him, talking, begging, he goes "sorry I don't take requests". Since at this point I'm in drunk and salvage mode I got a photo op with architect Frank Gehry and H Bomb inventor Richard Garwin. When getting Frank I get yelled at by a secret service guy telling me "let him walk" but I simply ignore that demand (and got a photo bomb from Frank's wife). After this is done I go to the hotel of Ellen Degeneres in order to try and get something decent out of this day but sadly she is gone. I consider my day a bust. 

Full list of photos

Robert Deniro autograph

Tom Hanks

Behind the scenes:

Begging Tom Hanks

Redford doing nothing for no one

People Gawking

About a week later after thanksgiving I go to the airport at the crack of dawn. My main objective is Ed Helms who I know best from the Hangover trilogy. Wait and he arrives with his girl. He is grumpy about it but stops no problem! Success! 

Next up was Peter Noone, the original lead singer of Herman's Hermits (and their singer during all of their hits). He arrives and is super duper nice, signs, takes photo ops, gives full autographs. 

After a successful morning I go mooch a celebratory breakfast. 

Ed Helms photo op

Ed Helms autographs

Peter Noone photo op

Peter Noone autographs

It is December and I have a flight for Joe Walsh, a big want of mine who I have failed on in the past. Arrive and there's two other graphers. We have our Joe Walsh solo items ready. One thing about him, if you show him Eagles items he will not only refuse to stop for you but not even stop if you go "ok, well here's a solo item instead"

The witching hour arrives and it is chaos. We unfortunately have two strikes against us. First off Ringo Starr happened to be on the same flight as Joe, and second there were two people I've never seen before who were stationed behind the gate and waved Eagles items at Joe 

The two other graphers begged Ringo for a photo op but he shot them down. As everyone was walking to the vans and Joe shoots down autograph requests I beg Joe for a photo op and he goes "if you can get it" and I sadly get a valid but blurry shot while walking along with himWhile I wouldn't say it's the delete button, it's perhaps a step above that. I try for a second shot but came out invalid. Then his handler gets physical with me and stops me.

After this failure I go to a spot for Art Garfunkel. Wait for the event to end and he finally comes out. Not being in NYC we are only 3 people. He politely says he doesn't want his picture taken. Otherwise he is nice as can be, signs, changes pens, makes conversation. After all is done I try one last ditch effort to beg for a photo op even explaining that I want a photo op standing next to him but he still says he doesn't want pictures. 

Joe Walsh

Art Garfunkel autographs

Sucks that this is the sad state of combo hunting. It is becoming harder and harder, pulling teeth for mediocrity.