The Snarchive, 2005
December 24: It's A Crazy, Wonderful Life
Woof. The holiday rush is, ready or not, coming to an end at last. Have I mentioned before that, starting in August, our household has a major holiday or event roughly every other week, through December? Owen's birthday. Back to School (both for kids and for Dad the Professor). Mom and Dad's anniversary. Mom's birthday. Halloween. Emmett's birthday. Thanksgiving. Finals Week. Christmas. Each of these involves elaborate preparations, decorations, shopping (which being a notorious tightwad, I absolutely hate), cooking, making of new doodads (e.g. this year's Halloween goody was a glowing spider web 3 feet in diameter), Outdoing the Neighbors when possible, and sometimes, blowing up the 8-foot Shrek I got from Burger King last year. My motto: If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing. Sometimes, however, by the end of the year, I feel a bit overdone myself.
Tonight, I was drying out Rubber Cement with a hair dryer in the basement, with hope that I can wrap the damn thing tomorrow and therefore still have it count as a Christmas present. This is a "mess mat" for my littlest boy, Owen. Big Brudder has had one since he was about 3 months old, but poor Owen's has been shelved on-and-off for over 3 years now. It's a cool project, actually--I take a piece of clear vinyl and paint pictures on one side, which becomes the BACK of the mat--so the art is protected by the vinyl and will stay nice after use. It rather entails painting the pictures in reverse, so to speak--the bottommost layer of paint is the "front" of the picture, which is pretty much exactly the opposite of how you normally paint, but once you get the hang of it it's not too hard. Anyway, Brother's mat has many of the guys from Sesame Street, and Calvin & Hobbes, Thidwick the Moose and so on. Owen's naturally had to be all different characters, so he's got Shrek, Totoro, Wallace & Gromit, and Lilo, Stitch, & Pleakley, to name a few. Then I cover the whole painted side with a background color, and glue on some no-skid backing and voila: a nice clean spot on which to play with playdoh or markers or whatever icky little-boy-stuff comes up.
Except that I absolutely could NOT find my roll of non-skid backing (which I bought 3 years ago when I started the darn thing) and when I finally dug up a scrap and glued it on, the glue didn't bond with it--but did peel off the last coat of background paint I'd put on. Argh. Christmas Eve and I'm having a glue, paint, and non-skid backing emergency. And we have to go to Portland, an hour away, for Family dinner, getting home after all the stores have closed.
So at 9 PM, I'm searching desperately through the garage one last time trying to find that roll of backing. I find myself pondering exactly how many defunct flourescent light fixtures we honestly need cluttering up the shelves down there. I'm a pack rat, I admit it. I also acknowledge that there are moments when you simply must have an implodable glass tube, and when such a time arises, a dead flourescent bulb is the perfect tool for the job. But when it's Christmas Eve and you're climbing on a rickety folding chair, trying to peer onto the top shelf in search of the One Essential Ingredient for the X-mas present for your son, you start to question whether FOUR dead light fixtures are really the optimal number required to uphold your customary standard of living. Given the paucity of space in the garage (in no small part due to the stack of @!#%*!! BOOKS that still haven't sold), it seems worthwhile to speculate whether we could make due with fewer broken light fixtures; perhaps, just as an illustrative example, ZERO might be a more appropriate quantity.
But ultimately there's nothing you can do on Christmas Eve except curse the mathoms that keep piling up and obscuring the Stuff You Really Need, and make do (by snagging the strip of No-Skid material out from the futon and resolving to replace it as soon as possible, hoping that the kids don't make too much of the discovery that the futon pad will now slide freely off the frame).
In the midst of all this, the studio where I make all my pottery is under threat of closure, and we artists have been frantically standing off with the Powers That Be to prevent this catastrophe. I've caught Those Two in their next scam--fleecing other street performers on Hollywood Blvd by selling fake "official" buttons in the aftermath of a recent arrest for "aggressive panhandling." I posted the news on my LJ, so I hope you don't mind clicking over there to read it, at least for the moment. I've been volunteering one day a week at my older son's school again, trying to learn and do better book marketing, and remembering to enjoy my littlest boy while he's still little. In short, for the last five months, I have hit the ground running every day, and haven't stopped until I clunk out from sheer exhaustion.
Which is why, dear reader, I've been so utterly lame about keeping this news page up to date...but now that the holiday season is over, I really hope to do better.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
November 8: Pottery News
As usual, I've fallen desperately behind in my postings here, and there has been some great news. However, for now I'm going to stick with a bite-sized task--the updates about my Pottery.
The Ceramic Center has made up some new glazes and I have had a BLAST of late, testing out new combinations. I finally found two new concoctions to expand my Palantir collection. One of them turns a sort of dull, coal-like red when thin, but black with yellow flecks where thick. I dipped a globe into this stuff, then got my hands wet and grabbed it again...and presto, Denethor's Palantir from the book, the one he clutched as he burned to death, the one that would only show his hands aflame to all but the strongest minds. It looks really good. I have some kinda crummy photos of it on the pottery page and I hope to take some decent ones soon. It's kinda hard to photgraph glassy, round, reflective objects!
Similar story for another new Palantir design--the Annuminas Stone, which was lost at sea. The other Turondo Potter, Kat, discovered a fabulous glaze combination that I'm absolutely crazy about. The base is black, but not the cold blue-black of the Orthanc palantir--it's a Tenmoku glaze, more of a brown-black with copper undertones. Our white glaze melts over it in a gorgeous way, really thick and frothy looking. The net result looks to me like waves breaking on the California coast--rocks, mollusks, seafoam, that sort of thing. I like to imagine that the Annuminas stone managed to land in the rocks that destroyed the ship, and became lodged near the waterline.
For those of you who attended my first pottery show at Tolcon, 2004, you may recall those nifty coaster sets that I was selling. You may or may not know that you guys pretty much cleaned out everything I'd made in that one convention. The technique I used to make that batch was very labor-intensive and I basically couldn't sell them for what it effectively cost me to make them. Well, That was Then. Now I've come up with a different technique and I THINK I can produce them in an affordable way. I have about 20 of them in the studio right now, almost done, but I'm waiting for some more supplies to come by mail order. Check back around Thanksgiving as I hope to have them available for Stocking Stuffers!
More news as I can eke out a few moments to type it in. There's a nice post on my livejournal about my recent encounter with Alan Lee that may take a while to get posted here too--go have a read!
September 17: More News than I can keep up with
Those of you who still peek in at the livejournal have already seen this update, but for everyone else: This is another one of those "The Fraud goes ever on and on" situations. Just before I left for Florida, I got this in the mail:
It was addressed to Cherie Deuvall, but I ripped it open without even looking at the envelope--silly me, I assume that mail arriving in my mailbox is for ME. As you can see, it's from some law firm in LA, to announce that there has been a court judgement against Cherie, to the tune of $3000. But note that the plaintiff is not me, but some real estate company. Interesting coincidence that Cherie owes these people the exact same amount she owes me and Wells Fargo.
My best guess is that this suit was brought by the apartment they all rented together in San Dimas. I'm guessing that they went after the Bit of Earth Trio for back rent, cleanup, damages, etc--and it would appear that Cherie got the shaft from her former roomies, who blamed her for the full amount. Well, I guess Miss Diamond Took finally caught a clue about wh the Bad Guys were in Bit of Earth, but that's not my point here. My point would be that this letter came to my house. Why would this law office send material to me? Why would they have my address in association with Cherie's name? I can only conclude that she has either given out my address as her own, OR her name has become linked to mine through our credit issues together. I know Wells Fargo only had my addy on file, and they do send stuff to Cherie at my house, even though I've told them she doesn't live here. So I suppose it's possible that this is just an offshoot of that "little" mixup.
This next tidbit, however, is not so benignly explained away. I got a copy of my credit report a few days ago, just because I can (and so can you, dear reader; you can get a free report once a year from here [never let it be said that I don't provide good public service at this website]). Imagine my surprise to find that this address was listed on my credit report as my home address:
Hollywood, CA, 90028
In order to be on my credit report, and therefore part of my rental history, someone had to apply for that apartment using my social security number. Isn't that special? If you get evicted for not paying rent or deposits, hey, no problem, you don't need to worry about finding a new home--just steal someone else's identity and use their credit rating to apply for another place!
So, looks like I'll be calling up the Social Security Department on Monday to report the misuse of my SS number. Strangely, though, I'm not holding my breath waiting to see any consequences for that act.
I haven't really posted much news about my pottery thing, but what the heck, I actually have some right at the moment. Namely, I broke the mold for the Chia Peds. It was getting worn out; many of the details were rubbed away, and all these little air bubble holes had broken through to the surface of the plaster. In short, by the time I cleaned up all the wear-and-tear defects that were left by the mold, the chia feet were looking kinda washed out. So, that's the end of that. I still have a few unsold feet, plus some oddball ones that I had made early on, experimenting with glazes and so forth. Heads up, dear reader, if you were at all inclined to buy a Chia Foot, you might want to do that soon.
September 8: Hurricane Katrina
This is pretty darn cool: King Bacchus cares for his subjects.
I really like this man.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled snark.
September 6: Well, I'm back.
That was a long and eventful trip to Florida. This story will probably have to be written in segments. Where to begin...ah, silly me, with hotties, of course!
So there I am at the ELF conference, and I get a free ticket to the Elijah Wood autograph line (I'm far too cheap to buy one; it almost killed me to pay for the photo op with Sean Astin back at ORC). My turn comes. I approach the table, hold up a copy of When A Fan and the following conversation takes place:
Elijah Wood: Hi.
Me: Hi! Do you know this book?
EW: (furrows brow) Umm, I'm not familiar...
Me: You should be--you're in it.
EW: (probably giving secret hand signal to security) Wha...Huh?
Me: It's about a couple of con artists that fleeced half the cast of the films.
EW: (impossibly huge blue eyes get even WIDER) You're kidding?!
Me: Nope. (flip to page 73) I want you to sign right here, this girl claimed she was your cousin, that was partly how she got away with it.
EJW: (reads for a few seconds, signs book, looks up when finished with puzzled expression) ...
Me: Perfect! Thanks! (exit stage left)
This guy pays attention! Look what he wrote.
That is the most beautiful autograph I've ever seen. I like that even better than Daniel Falconer's "No We Weren't!" on the "WETA-is-sending-artists-to-Tentmoot" page.
Both Sue and I spent so much time trying to explain to Elijah's agents that these women were hanging out in his favorite restaurants and stores in hopes of meeting him, that they'd scammed other celebs and had their sights set on him. Sue finally thought she'd got through, they seemed to have a little "a-Hah" on the phone and actually said "So you're doing this as a warning, out of concern for his safety." Duh, but hey, at least they'd finally gotten it. Or not, obviously. Although I suppose he could have so many stalkers that they all sort of blend together after a while...
Speaking of beautiful autographs...
If you've read the entries below, you know that Sean Astin had signed 100+ copies of
When A Fan for me to sell at a Barnes and Noble booksigning. Well. Let me first say that this
was actually SEAN'S idea, he came up with it and I thought it was totally brilliant--the perfect
way to swing the karmic balance of this whole Bit of Earth/Fandom thing back into the "plus" side--
because in order to get a copy bearing Sean's autograph, people would make a donation
to a REAL charity, right on the spot over the computer, no doubts, no ripoffs, no fancy-pants
convention marketers profiting from the sale...perfect. I couldn't wait to do this event, even
if it DID involve being in Florida in August. And it looked like there would be good publicity--
the store manager said she'd have posters made, and I got an interview on a local radio station.
Things seemed to be well under way.
Then the snafus began. I spent 3 weeks asking the local press to do some sort of coverage but when the only reporter to answer finally did so, I had already left for Florida. It took 2 days for her message to reach me and by then she was out of the office until after my event. So much for an article to tell people about the book and the signing. The radio interview was fantastic, the questions they asked were sharp and insightful, but the show's producer says he can't send me a copy of it. Sean even gave the book a plug while he was onstage at ELF, but as far as I know, no one recorded him, so that's gone forever too. I would have loved to have EITHER available to play on this website...argh.
Then it came time for my booksigning. I had assumed that ELF would be winding down with closing ceremonies during that time. Not. Elijah Wood's Autograph was the last event of ELF. I had a free ticket to the line and it looked like I would have to skip it in order to do my signing--and most of the Ringers in Orlando were now waiting in line to see Elijah. Argh.
And of course, it got worse. I get to the bookstore and they have a poster up in the front door--advertising ANOTHER AUTHOR, who had been scheduled the DAY BEFORE (and apparently hadn't shown up). Argh. The manager who had set up the event wasn't working that day and apparently they expected me to no-show or something; nothing was ready for a signing, not even a table.
Finally I got a table, a chair, an extention cord for my laptop, and even the poster that the other manager had printed up...but it didn't mention anything about the fact that these books had been signed by Sean Astin. Argh. Out came the Sharpies and now the poster has a lovely, hand-scrawled note with the proper information. No one comes by the table. The manager says he'll make an announcement on the PA system. Sure enough, someone gets on and says there's an author here, signing books...and says nothing about the fact that the books are also signed by Sean Astin. Argh. No one comes by. I ask the manager to repeat the announcement with all the information, even tell the guy who's speaking specifically to say, "true crime expose' about con artists fleecing celebrities, and they're signed by Sean Astin, star of Lord of the Rings." I watched him write that down and thought, "OK, he's got it." He didn't have it. He said Sean's name so fast that even I could hardly understand it, and left out all the context and "LOTR" parts. Argh. No one came by. I finally had enough and left 45 minutes early, hoping that if I got back to ELF, maybe I could at least find some Ringers that would be interested in Sean's autograph.
Of course, by the time I got the car loaded up and drove back, it was pretty much closing time for ELF and the merchants were already packing up. Since there didn't seem to be any way to salvage the book situation, and since I still had time to get Elijah's autograph, I gave up and did that instead.
So. Now I have four boxes of books that Sean has autographed. I had to tell him that I didn't sell a single one. Bear in mind that I mailed these books to him weeks ago, and he signed them all and then he shipped them to the bookstore in Orlando VIA FEDEX OVERNITE. At 31 pounds per box. I don't even want to KNOW what he paid to ship those books. All to help raise money for charity. All for nothing. Argh.
Well, as you can see, they're beautifully autographed; Sean drew the smiley face and peace sign in each one. The cheapskate in me is in agony over the fact that people paid $60 per ticket to get in the autograph line at ELF and got a hurried scribble, while for a real charity donation of 25 cents they could have had a smiley face. Argh.
I've numbered the books and plan to sell them here on the website, but I've had it with trying to make things affordable. This is just too nice of an autograph to give away for nothing. I'm charging $45 for these books, which includes:
- $14.95 cover price
- $5-$10 priority shipping (US or international)
- $5 donation to RIF which I will make when they've all been sold, and
- depending on the postage, a $15-$20 surcharge for Sean's autograph.
August 23: Radio Interview!
First time for everything. Today I did an interview-by-phone on the "Scott and Erica" radio program on WOMX 105.1 FM in Orlando, Florida. What a RIOT!! OK, can I just say, I'd never heard their program before and wasn't sure what to expect...so I can't say they exceeded my wildest expectations because I didn't really have any...but you get the idea. Wow. It was SO COOL to be interviewed by those guys--they asked FABULOUS questions and really made it easy for me to just enjoy myself. Man, if I lived in Orlando I'd never listen to another radio station after today.
As it is, I'll probably never get to hear the durn interview because it airs on Friday's show, and I'll be driving up from my mom's place during that time. I seriously doubt my little rental car will be within range of the station while it's playing. I can only hope someone out there miraculously records it for me (the station doesn't give out copies of their programs).
August 18: Happy birthday, certain special boy
August 11: Now THIS is cool.
Yesterday I shipped four boxes of books to Beverly Hills. They were addressed to the Public Relations office of a certain celebrity. Who will be signing 100 of them and sending them on to my sister's house in Florida. When it comes time to attend the ELF convention, I will borrow my mom's really cute car and haul them up to Orlando.
And, there's a catch: Sean has requested that, in order for a customer to get a copy that he has signed, they have to make an additional donation to charity when they purchase their book!
Please note that this event is totally separate from the ELF conference.
This has a number of implications:
- There is no admission fee to attend the Barnes and Noble event
- There are no additional fees to receive an autographed copy, except the donation
- 100% of the money donated at this signing will go to charity (still working out which charity, check back for updates)
- Ergo, if you would like an autographed book but don't care to pay a minimum of $75 to get in to ELF, plus a $60 autograph fee, come on over to Barnes and Noble and take the cheapskate route--always my favorite! Woohoo!
- OK, so you won't get to watch Sean sign your book before your very eyes, for 30 seconds, but hey, it's still pretty cool!
August 1: The Return of the Native
Sigh, I can't BELIEVE I'm doing this, but against all my previous vows, I'm going back to Florida in August. I can feel that blast of humidity already. Ugh, I'm wilting.
But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I'm going to be selling books and pottery at the ELF: Weekend of Wonder convention in Orlando. Colleen Doran, who has now become my idol, is letting me share her merch table, so the price is right. AND I found some incredibly cheap tickets to Ft. Lauderdale, cheap enough that I can take the kids and visit the family, so THAT price is right as well. It's been 2 years since the kids have seen Grandma and their Florida Aunties, so we're going to go ahead and make it a Working Vacation.
If you are planning to attend ELF, I'm offering a Pre Order Discount for purchases of When A Fan. You can avoid Florida sales tax AND get 33% off the cover price by ordering now! I don't want to have to lug around any more heavy book boxes than I absolutely must, so pre-orders will be MOST appreciated!
To make this 100% crystal clear, these pre-ordered books are for pickup at ELF only. This discount is NOT being offered for the autographed books at the Barnes and Noble event. Those are already an incredibly good deal!
June 23: More Comments from Teh Movie Star
Just got this comment in an email from Sean. I loved it so much I asked him if I could quote him verbatim and he said that was OK. Thus:
"I see OUR garden as the Crown Jewel in that effort. I Love Oregon, and I want to believe that God wants this project to succeed!! I may have been lied to on September 11, 2002 while I was in Washington D.C. But I will have the last laugh, because if I was deceived, it was for a good cause...if you and I and everyone else continue to make it so."
Excuse me while I indulge in a Klingon Victory moment.
For those of you who didn't quite follow that: On 9/11/02, Amy Player (as Victoria Bitter) approached Sean after he delivered a speech on volunteering and community service, and asked him if he could please help her charity build a children's reading garden. Just as Amy and Abbey had calculated, he thought that was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Of course, the problem was that Sean didn't know that he was dealing with two charismatic sociopaths, who wanted nothing more than to fulfill their bizarre, adolescent fantasies about meeting movie stars and Hobbits. So Sean helped build the garden and the Bad Guys used him to further their little agenda, up to a point. But only up to a point. Now the Good Guys have come together and reclaimed the garden from the Bad Guys. This story gets nicer and nicer all the time.
Wanna join the good guys? Go here: www.onesmallgarden.org
June 18: Comments from Teh Movie Star
"My vision for the garden and the literacy center are that they be a beacon of what is possible, from inception to fruition, for all other states and territories to study. That's why understanding the truth about our legacy is critical. That's why honoring the good contributions of those involved and chronicling the precise departure from right conduct and elucidating the remedies that were applied is so important to me."
At risk of excessive horn-tooting, I believe When A Fan has that "chronicling the precise departure from right conduct" thing in spades--and OneSmallGarden has the remedies. Ahhhhhhh, I love it when a plan comes together.
June 14: Signings and Sean Astin
I swear, my life has been moving so fast for so long I'm starting to red-shift. My latest booksigning was in Astoria on June 4 at Godfather's Book Cafe, one of those places that's half coffee bar, half bookstore, very cool. But more important is the story behind the signing, thus:
Astoria is the town where most of "The Goonies" was filmed, which was, of course, Sean Astin's first big film. The town threw a Goonies 20 Year Anniversary festival that weekend and Jeff Cohen, the actor that played Chunk, was there. There hadn't been any word about Sean attending, but 1 or 2 days before the weekend, the festival folks sent out a newsletter saying that in fact, "Mikey" would be coming and signing autographs for 2 hours on Saturday evening.
Naturally I had to see if Sean would possibly be able to squeeze me into his rounds while we were both in Astoria. I sent him an email, he sent back a definite maybe, says he's planning some things and will let me know when he figures it all out. The guy never sits still, he's like a human hummingbird--he's downright blue-shifted compared to my red-shift. Anyway, late on Friday he calls and says he'd like to meet at the Elanor Garden at 1:00ish the next day. Aw, Hell, I tell him, my booksigning starts at 1:00 and Astoria is 80 miles from the garden. So much for that. But Sean says he's been cooking up some ideas for the garden, to preserve it forever. Sounds fantastic--we've been worried that the owner of the property might someday plow the whole garden under and turn the building into a drive thru One Stop Fried Chicken and Porn emporium.
So Sean agrees to meet with some of the One Small Garden gang so he can get a quick tour of Elanor.
Obviously, JoJo, Bekah, Sue, Sean and Primmy connected at the garden, and apparently Sean ran around like a golden lab that had just been let off leash, sniffing all the flowers, yakking it up with the nuns that operate the Catholic Bookstore that's taken over the ground floor of the Riggs building, and generally being all excited about the garden.
So we got through the weekend without another glimpse of Sean; he missed his autograph session at the Goonie Festival (although he did show up at the old Goonie House and witnessed some weddings that were taking place as part of the festival, what a kick), because he spent so much time working on his quest to preserve the garden.
BTW, if you're interested in One Small Garden, our website is finally rolling at onesmallgarden.org. It still needs a lot of work, but at least the news page is firmly established--future events, fundraisers, gardens to build, etc. will be showing up there much more regularly than here. I like to describe OSG as, "We ARE what Bit of Earth was SUPPOSED to be, if it weren't for the lying liars at the top."
Portions of this news have been edited by my paranoid friends. Sigh.
June 3: Goodies In the Mail
Kit Shah sent me these photos today, for which I'm extremely glad, because at Tolcon, I had that old photographer's folly issue: when you bring a camera and take lots of pictures, odds are that you won't actually end up being IN any of them. Which is precisely what happened. I did have someone snap my usual photo of the Shahs with Teh Book, but between the "Push The Dern Button!" expression and the demonic red-eye, it just had to go into the heap on the floor. But these are dandy:
Watch that hand, Kit...
May 29: Book Signings And Stuff
Did a small signing in Kent, Washington yesterday at a lovely shop called New Woman Books. Go forth and patronize your local indie bookstore, everyone. Next week is the 20 Year Anniversary Festival for The Goonies in Astoria, Oregon, which several of us plan to attend. Having been sworn in as an Official Honorary Goonie by "Mikey" himself at the original Project Elanor, I feel somewhat obligated to attend. Plus I've got a signing on Saturday at a store called GodFathers Books and I will have a table at the Astoria Sunday Market as well. Come by and enjoy the goofiness!
May 29: "Mr Jordan Wood" Goes to Washington
On May 19, Sue and I hit the District of Columbia for a day of promotions. I'd been to
DC once as a kid but Mom and I did strictly touristy stuff at the Mall, not explore the city itself.
Granted I didn't get off the freeway to be up close and personal with the streets of NYC, but
I am absolutely Stunned by the number of awesome-looking restaurants in our
Nation's Capitol. It was a good thing we didn't have any cash or they would have had to roll
us home on the Beltway.
On the other hand, can anyone out there tell me why, within the 68 square miles of the District of Columbia, is every single gas station an Exxon? Having not forgotten that whole Valdez thing, I was very glad at the end of the day that our little rental car was fuel-efficient enough to make it to Bethesda.
We now have books for sale in several stores in DC. I can only hope that one eventually makes its way into the hands of The Shrub himself. Though I suspect much of the humor will escape him.
On May 20, I had a booksigning in Amy Player's home town. The local paper was kind
enough to run
a short review and summary to announce the event, which led to a number of
former friends from "Jordan's" past showing up. I found out once and for all that Amy has indeed
made at least ONE completely truthful statement in this lifetime: She Really Was
Homeschooled. The whole "sold into slavery as a child prostitute" thing was firmly debunked,
and although there's still no Final, Absolute Word on the "my dad forced me to have
sex with his male buddies to turn me back into a Het," the consensus among her
peers was that this seemed pretty darn unlikely.
Some of her former pals took us on a quick tour, too, just for fun:
The Couch at Christopher Newport University where Amy sat many a night, sewing together the Frodo costume
that started a lifetime of disguises.
If you're wondering what that is on the couch, yes, it's a plaster cast of a pregnant belly and some boobies. There was some sort of motherhood conference going on at CNU that day and, well, given the general subject matter of this website, it seemed logical to leave those props right where they were for the photo--it can hardly get any more surreal around here, but it's always worth a try.
When I did promos at one store, the clerk took a look at my "Have You Seen This..." poster and said, "Oh, I know her!" I asked how, and he said, "I used to work at Busch Gardens." Apparently that was The Place To Work for teenagers in Newport News. When I told him that his former co-worker had fleeced half the cast of the LOTR films, he shook his head. "No way! She wouldn't do that! She was so sweet!" Koff, koff, koff. I should have given him a free copy.
Finally, on our way out of town, Sue and I stopped at this totally cool place called Colonial
Williamsburg. I'd never heard of it before. It's one of those historic replica villages, which
simulates an original Colonial American town but with modern plumbing. You can even dress
up in period costume and wander around like a native--what a HOOT. Even though we
could only stay an hour, we still had fun cozying up to Mr. Jefferson here, showing him our
little Declaration while he penned his.
Sue and I each noted that, as a teen, a summer job impersonating a 17th century ferrier or smithy would have beat the HELL out of flipping burgers for either of us. One can only wonder why Amy, who loves costumes and pretend play, didn't expend some of her talent at this gig.
Late Entry: I stand corrected
May 27: The Road Goes Ever On and On
After the TV gig in Hartford, Sue and I got a rental car and drove down to Virginia. Thoughts about the trip:
- It's about as far to drive from my home to the nearest large city as it is to drive across the entire state of Connecticut. That totally weirds me out.
- I've finally officially been in New York City, sort of. Drove through it. Traffic sucked. That is one seriously high-density population area. Wow.
Everything I'd ever heard about New Jersey was true, at least as far as the NJ Turnpike was concerned. It did neaten up considerably once we got on some regular old roads. We had a pit stop in Livingston to visit with "MST500" from The Book. The Traffic Jam in NYC kept us from doing lunch with her, but at least she was able to sign the Five Special Books.
- We next drove through Pennsylvania and were pleasantly surprised to discover that
we would pass within 7 miles of Hershey. Obviously, that was a detour we
had to take.
What do you want to bet this is the most frequently stolen road sign in America?
Two great tastes that taste great together...
Check out the street lights.
- We finally made it to Sue's parents' house in Virginia. Hoo, Doggie. Now I know where Sue
gets it from. All they needed was a round door on their house and I'd never have known
we weren't in Hobbiton.
Or perhaps it was just the Last Homely House?
May 26: News from Connecticut
I got home from Tolcon on Sunday night, then left first thing Monday morning for Connecticut. However, we had a bit of a surprise when we got to PDX. After watching an entire TV season of "LOST," the very last thing either of us wanted to see at our gate was this:
It's not every day you see a jet plane with its hood popped.
We landed at the Hartford Airport at midnight and started hunting for a hotel. We ended up at the least expensive place that had an airport shuttle, the Bradley International Inn. The night clerk was very kind and gave us a slightly discounted room. Unfortunately, we found out why he'd been so accomodating at 7:11 the next morning, when the remodelers started pounding carpet tack strips into the floor directly above our room. Eurgh. Having climbed into bed at 1 AM, that was MOST unwelcome. But the Bradley Inn folks were kind enough to offer a free 2nd night for the inconvenience, so that actually worked out perfectly for cheapskates like us..
Sue and I ended up really liking that hotel, because they were all very nice AND they recommended a FABULOUS restaurant, Skooters Diner. It's a 50's-style grill and just as cute as it could be--and the food was totally yummy. It gets the official 2nd Breakfast Club Seal Of Approval.
So we spent Tuesday cruising Hartford using public transportation, and I was VERY impressed by the quality--it was almost like being in Europe. We had time to bop into several bookstores and got the book onto some local shelves before finding our way to the TV studio to film my first TV appearance. Which, I THINK, aired tonight for the first time. It was a riot. The fellow is going to send us a copy of the whole show, and said we can show it anywhere we can--so look out , public access TV, here I come. Hubby had his own very silly public access program back when we lived in Iowa City so there may be one more episode of "The Atlas and Mr. Flibbert Variety Show" yet.
Everyone we encountered in Hartford was as nice as could be--a stranger on the bus told us where we could find walking tour guidebooks for the historic/capital parts of Hartford, the hotel and restaurant staff were as congenial, even about the remodeling business, and the camera dudes at Nutmeg TV let Sue go in the editing booth and watch them mix the show. Lovely place. And on top of all that, they have the coolest rocks--I had to pick some up for my son, the rock fiend. Lots of mica in them. Very sparkly.
May 25: News from TolCon.
Can I just say I had the time of my life at TolCon this year? This was definitely the best fan event I've been to yet, with the possible exception of the TORn Oscar Party when ROTK cleaned up. Highlights:
Kiran and Kit Shah. What a great couple of guys. Kiran Shah was Frodo's size double
in the LOTR films, but has performed stunts and small parts in more films than I can count.
Kit is Kiran's nephew and personal assistant/sidekick, and the one who I interviewed for The Book.
The Shahs (which is a palindrome) brought me an incredible present from England, as
a wee thank you gift for picking up some camera equipment for them: a Wallace and Gromit
Talking Alarm Clock. Oh. My. Ghod. I love it. It wakes you up with Wallace's voice
saying "Eh, Up Gromit! Shall we see what's on the wireless?" and Wallace's slipper is
the snooze button. I am gonna die of this clock, it's so cool.
Which makes it all the more irritating that Kit and Kiran were hosed so badly via the Tentmoot Scam, because that was a really thoughtful gift, given by a pair of genuinely kind guys. The sort of sweethearts that really don't deserve to get manipulated and screwed by con artists...
They showed us their short film, the title of which escapes me at the moment, but it was
great fun to sit and watch a Real Non-Amateur Movie with the Directors Right There.
Finally, this is now one of my favorite photos of all time: Kiran holding a 7 month old baby--and cracking up while doing so, I might add. Kiran is just absolutely fascinating to look at--I'm in utter doctor mode, but I just can't help it--I've never seen anyone with his particular type of dwarfism before and it is just amazing to me that he can be as properly proportioned as he is. He's like a real live hobbit running around. Just fascinating. I'd love to see an MRI of his head. I am SUCH a dork.
Ted Nasmith. I guess Ted escaped the attention of the Bit of Earthers because he was unable to participate in the LOTR films, but DAMN, he's an incredible artist. He brought some of his original paintings to the art show at TolCon and wow, they were fabulous. I don't care how good a reproduction you get, the orignial painting is always just plain better. He has a wonderful understanding of light.
Peter Lyons. Peter was involved with the making of the Hero Swords for the LOTR films...he explained exactly what he did but I didn't quite follow it all. Anyway, he came to TolCon from WETA and was just as Kiwi as they come. What I liked best about Peter is that I had him sign my Super Special Five Books that everyone involved in the BoE Scam is signing--and he went to the page about WETA sending craftsmen to Tentmoot and signed "Wasn't me!" This is of course right below Daniel Falconer's signature saying "No We Weren't!" What a KICK. My goal now is to get every person from WETA to sign that page with some sort of "Nope, Not Me!" comment.
The Costume Contest. Shit fire and save matches, I WON! Best in Show for my Turimel outfit. I think. I might have actually won for the nitwit drunken performance I put on during my 15 seconds on stage. I think what I said was "Hi, I'm Turi, I work at the Green Dragon and I'm Merry's Little Apple Girl. I made the entire costume myself, Including this Beer Mug, which is for sale in the Vendor's Room!" Then I kinda wobbled off stage singing "the only brew for the brave and true comes from the Green Dragon." The Costume Contest was held right after the "Who Drank My Half Pint?" event, which was merely a microbrew sampling and chit-chat with the guests of honor. But when they wrapped it up, Sue handed me all the leftover beer and said, "Can you watch these for a second?" while she ran off to tend to something. It was one of those moments when you can almost here the angel choir burst into song. Fox, meet Henhouse. And I had one of my very own large Strider Steins with me, not the wee plastic Dixie cups everyone else was drinking their samples from. Little slice of heaven, or at least of my West Dorm days. That was a hoot.
Dangerously Cute Baby Dragons. I got sucked in by the most charming lump
of Fimo I've ever seen. He's eating a little blue rock. The expression on his face reminds me Very Much
of a certain little Bubba who also loved to gnaw intently on everything he could get his chubby
These are the best little dragons in the known universe. No, seriously.
I'm talking really cute.
I think that wraps up TolCon, except for the snafus. We've done so much since then--the whole East Coast tour--so I don't exactly remember them. Which is lucky for Sue, as I DO recall that they involved turning around on our drive home in order to fetch something important of hers from someone else's car...and having to track that person down at a restaurant because her CAR was at the hotel but her KEYS were with her, in her purse. Ah, yes, now my memory serves...and the original reason we had to turn around was that Sue discovered the keys to YET ANOTHER CAR in her pocketses while we were on the freeway. Sigh, good help is hard to find. ;)
May 3, 2005: The Where Are They Now File.
Just received this lovely photo of Mmmes Stone and Player in their latest gear, out in front of the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
This is probably Amy's most elaborate costume yet, but I notice that the character, Puss in Boots, has white fur on his chest (as do many animals) and Amy is using the calico fur. I wonder if she had to abandon a white fur version because her breast bindings showed through?
In other news, I sent the book off to a convention back east, to sell at a booth called the "Orphan Zine Table."
That was really cool and if you, dear reader, know of any conventions with an Orphan Zine table, please send an email, as I would like to sell books that way again.
April 29, 2005: The Elanor Garden Stepping Stones.
This is just something fun for those of you that are following the garden's status: I'm finishing up the stepping stones that we made a few weeks ago. The cement needed that long to cure before painting. These two are totally finished:
April 7, 2005: One of these days I will learn to say "no."
Eh, probably not. A brief update of The Hectic Life:
- The 2nd Annual Elanor Garden Cleanup was a great success. It looks fabulous. OneSmallGarden has its own website at last, which will hopefully be growing soon as well.
- Sean Astin and I have finally started communicating. We had a couple of great phone calls about OSG and the garden. Even though Bit of Earth turned out to be a Scrap of Crap, the Elanor Garden is still a wonderful thing and Sean is still supporting it, in his charming and goofy fashion. Click here to read Sean's letter
- Sean and I had a long talk about The Book as well. He was, understandably, rather leery of it, but he seemed pleased to learn that the sales money is going to pay back the victims. Hopefully he'll have an hour or two in his incredibly busy life to read it someday.
- I got my first 100% scheduled, done-deal, TV appearance--on a show called "The Book Authority" in Hartford, CT. Sue and I will be making a book tour out of that trip--East Coast, here we come.
- Another sales booth planned for TolCon this year. Kiran Shah will be there along with his nephew Kit. Humble observation: they are a couple of great looking guys. Come get your book signed! I'm doing a pottery wheel demonstration too.
- Speaking of pottery, I'm in the midst of making yet another coil-built ceramic platter with my son's colleagues in First Grade. Their school has an annual auction and each class is supposed to make something with a local artist. Will someone PLEASE remind me, next year, NOT to do this again?
- This is cute: got a little blurb in the Salem Monthly alternate paper.
March 4, 2005: Wow, it's been a while, eh?
Sadly, grass has NOT been growing under my feet; the delay in updating (and sending out) the newslatter has been, as usual, due to the typical hecticness of life. My toddler has been in the hospital with pneumonia, poor little tyke; my son's school asked me to make coil vases with the kids again for their annual auction (which is always an order of magnitude more work than I anticipate); I've had a massive caseload to go through, including one about the untimely death of a child, always a tough thing. And tomorrow is The Next Big Booksigning, in Abbey's hometown, Lincoln City. I hope her ex-husband shows up, I may have some news for him.
I finally got a copy of our One Ring Convention pictures and had to share:
The latter treat was sent to the Northwest Tolkien Society, after they sent WETA a Chia Hobbit Foot as a thank-you gift for sending people and auction goodies to TolCon last year. I'm looking forward to TolCon again--I'll have my merch table and may do some wheelthrowing demos too. I'm trying to get a paint-your-own pottery event going too, but that may be logistically hopeless. But wouldn't it be cool if Ted Nasmith were willing to help host a paint-your-own session?!
OK, gotta go tend my sprogling, so glad he's feeling better. News of the Lincoln City booksigning is soon to come!
Jan 28, 2005: Another few seconds to catch up. Let's see, where was I? Bullet list...
- That Baby Blue Flash. Man, I am such an idiot. Bek and JoJo were in the autograph
line at ORC, to see EW, Billy Boyd, and Sean Astin. The three celebs were sitting at a long table
and obviously people came up one at a time to get their autographs. While Bek was getting her
palantir signed by Billy Boyd, Jo was "next door" getting a signature from Elijah Wood. So there's me
at the end of the table, basking in the joy of Billy complimenting my palantir, not even thinking about
the fact that Jo was standing there with Elijah.
Jo (or maybe it was Sue again) told young Mr. Wood that I had made the chia hobbit foot he'd received earlier in the photo session. It turns out that he also attempted to say something about my handiwork as I stood there at the end of the table...and I wasn't looking. Doofus, doofus, doofus. I've been whining for a year now that everybody else gets to hand my pottery pieces to the celebrities and I don't get to see their reaction, and here was my moment in the sun...and I missed it. I pulled my head out just in time to see those baby blues turning back toward JoJo. Ah, well. At least I know the thought was there.
- WETA rules! Daniel Falconer from WETA was at ORC and he came by my little sales table (well,
to be totally correct, I dragged him over to it, although he didn't kick or scream or anything) and I
asked if he would sign my superspecial 5 copies of the book. Bless his sweet heart, he did--right on the
page where "Jordan" claimed that WETA was sending two artisans to appear at TentMoot. Daniel signed them,
"No We Weren't!!" Hee hee! And can I just say he makes the coolest "w's" I've ever seen...here, see for
Man, I LOVE that! I gotta start doing that. It's really a U that's been cut in half to make a Double U. Brilliant!
- Sideshow/WETA had an incredible display area set up and I was able to take advantage of it for this picture:
My little planter won 3rd place in the ORC Art Show and I wanted to get a nice picture of it. I asked if I could set it next to the troll statue on the display counter and they said no, they didn't want to move the pieces that were all set up to make room. But someone with authority volunteererd to set it on the actual statue. The other guys hadn't wanted to do that, because they were afraid that the Stone Troll, which was actually made out of Styrofoam, would collapse under the weight of my hobbit pot, which is in fact made out of stone. But they were able to coexist long enough to get a cool photo. And now that pot belongs to someone else--and once again, I didn't get to see their reaction to it. Letting go of your art can be kind of a drag sometimes.
Jan 26, 2005: It never rains, but it monsoons!
Boy, nothing like returning from a whirlwind 10-day business trip to two sick kids, a hill of bills, and a mountain of lawsuits to analyze (aka the Day Job). Top it off with a heaping helping of the chaos of moving into a new house AND an invasion of my favorite insect, ants (will someone please mail me an echidna??) and, well, that's why I've been home a week and haven't updated the newsletter.
And such news! Let's go for a bullet list.
- Bookstores! Sue and I hit around 60 bookstores all along the coastal and I-5
routes between here and LA, and showed the book to their buyers. Most of them said they would
order some copies from my distributor and some actually bought them straight from me and put
them right on the shelves. Fun! The "Order Now" page has a nice
list of stores that now carry the book, so if you're like me and can't stand to pay shipping
charges, well, hie thee to thy nearest bookstore and indulge thyself!
- Hobbit Chow! Can I just say that the two of us ate like KINGS on our trip? So much
food, so little time. Allow me to make the following restaurant recommendations:
* The Samoa Cookhouse in Arcata, California
* Max's Opera Cafe in Palo Alto
* Dar Mahgreb in West Hollywood
* Pea Soup Andersens in Solvang (try the cheddar spread, it rules)
* The Buffalo Inn in Upland
* Avanti Pizza, Green Street, and The Crocodile Cafe in Pasadena
* Best of all: Tacubaya on 4th St, Berkeley. HOLY SMOKE! That may be my new favorite restaurant in the world. NUMMY NUMMY!
- Mission: Sean Astin Finally Accomplished! Sort of. As you may know, I wasn't able
to attend Sean's booksigning events here in the Northwest because I was beaten down by
microscopic organisms (see "Pneumonia Sucks" entry below.) Going through Sean's PR firm was
a fruitless effort; they didn't return calls or emails from my publicist regarding the book.
But I went ahead and purchased a $50 "photo opportunity" with Sean from Creation Entertainment,
in the hopes that I could at least get a picture of him with the book.
Well, Creation treated the entire weekend as a giant cattle roundup, shunting people through their autographs and photo ops as fast as they could. Bekah had a Red Book that she wanted Dom Monaghan to sign; the "helper" ripped it out of her hands and shoved it at Dom so fast that he signed the BACK of the book--all her other siggies are in the front cover and there's Dom's in the back, upside down, like a bleeping high school yearbook. For that she paid $60. Joy. Anyway, the photo ops were just as bad if not worse--they laid the photos out on tables to be picked up by the purchasers, and I could see that half of them had motion artifact--people didn't have time to sit down completely before they snapped the picture and barked at them to move along. So, many pictures came out blurry or unfocused--and frequently they were overexposed as well! Point of rant: The whole photo/autograph thing was an insanely unsatisfying ripoff in my humble POV, for which full credit goes to Creation Entertainment. Thanks for nothing.
Back to the story: As I moved up through the line for my picture, I was getting a little nervous that Sean might hit me upside the head with my own book. I really didn't know what to expect regarding his reaction, but dammit, after spending $50 (plus $5 "handling fee" for the service of sending me an email confirming that I'd bought a photo op), I wasn't going to chicken out. And as luck would have it, just as it was our turn, Sean suddenly remembered that he had promised to donate some money to the Tsunami Fund, and he started telling his assistant to make sure the money got put into the donations bowl. Great, I thought, I finally get my 15 seconds with Sean and he's busy talking to someone else. Sigh.
Well, I shoved the book in his hands and told him that I wanted him to hold it up for the camera because I intended to use this as promotional material. I had a lot of angst about that--it felt like I was whoring him out for $50, forcing him to "promote" something that he might very well be furious about. I figured it was only ethical to tell him what I wanted from the photo and give him the option to refuse. Or to whack me upside the head. Or whatever.
It turned out my fears were unfounded. Sean was very kind about the whole thing. Extremely kind. Kind enough that I got a little teary when I left the shoot, even. He said that he hadn't read it yet, just parts of it, so he didn't know if he agreed with my "take." He started to tell me something to the effect that he was glad I'd found a way to harness the energy of the situation, and believe it or not, he even got a little tongue tied for a second. It was kind of cute, actually--Sean doesn't usually have to stop and search for the right words.
Of course, it didn't help that the Creation Thugs were hollering at that point for us to move along and make way for the next cattle to get their photo. Poor Sean actually put up his hand and told them "I just need one minute" so he could complete his thought. They really didn't want to give it to him. I told Sean I'd tried to reach him earlier but his people wouldn't let me anywhere near him, then mentioned his PR firm by name. He kinda frowned and said "Really? I thought you meant my legal people." Hmmm. I don't know exactly what that means, but one interpretation is that Sean's PR people didn't tell him that I was trying to reach him to talk about the book. Which means it's possible that he would have willingly contributed info for the book if he'd known I was asking for info. Hmmm.
Sue got the distinct impression, while talking to Sean in Seattle, that he still felt some degree of sympathy or concern for Those Two. So I told him I really thought he should read the book--he ought to arm himself with knowledge of just what Those Two had done, lest history repeat itself. By then, the Creation Thugs were having a conniption despite Sean's repeated "hang on a second" gestures. He said he'd like to talk more about it and since it was painfully obvious to everyone present that we weren't going to talk about it right then, Sean opened the book he'd just posed with, wrote down some contact info in it, and told me to leave a message there with my phone number so he could call later.
That was so touching I didn't even have a "cheapskate fangirl moment" over the fact that I'd gotten an "autograph" AND a photo for the price of one.
So I left him a message and hope that he'll answer. I would love to finally get his side of the story straight. I think I'd go so far as to print up a little "companion guide" to the book with his clarifications, and do a major rewrite if I do a 2nd printing. That would be worth cutting a few pages out of the Hobbit Channeling chapter. More on that as it develops.
- Brush with Billy Boyd! This story is less poignant but more fun. One of the things we
did at ORC was give each of the Hobbit actors their own Chia Hobbit Foot (except Sean, he got
one when he was in Seattle). This was a shameless attempt on Bekah's part to woo these
guys to come to Tolcon one of these years.
Last year I sent Chia Feet to PJ and Richard Taylor, as an official thank-you gift from TolCon
for the goodies they sent to Tolcon's charity auction (every dime of which went to charity, BTW).
Sean and Alan Lee got Chia Feet for holding events at the UW Bookstore for the Tolkien Society,
and Andy Serkis got one of my palantirs for the same reason. The problem is that here I'd gone
and made all these lovely pieces and donated them to The Cause--and I'd never been able to
personally hand a single one of them to the recipient. Sheesh! Part
of the fun of making pottery is seeing someone's face light up when they like a piece, and
other people had been having all the fun up till now. Harrumph.
Well, Bek bought a photo op with Billy Boyd and let me come along with her for that. So at last I got to actually hand one of my funny Chia Hobbit Feet to, well, a hobbit. Aaaaaaaaaah. He seemed to get a real kick out of it, although he thought at first that it was some kind of vase. I got to explain for 2 seconds how you put the seeds on the outside and they grow up like hair. Apparently they don't have cultural icons like Chia Pets in Scotland.
I also gave Billy a book (and even marked the pages about him, so he wouldn't have to hunt for the good parts) and told him he was in it. He looked a little surprised and said "I am?" Once again, it would appear that "his people" didn't tell him anything about it. I wonder, who works for who in that business? Well, at any rate, he knows about it now.
The big thrill for the weekend came in the autograph line. Bek bought an autograph session too, and she asked Billy to sign one of my Palantirs. Bek had won it at the ill-fated Lost Palantir Film Festival--I'd made it to give to Billy as a thank-you gift for hosting that Bit of Earth event, but obviously he didn't show up for it and I told Abbey she could use it as a prize instead. And of course, since they hadn't bothered to get any OTHER prizes, it was used for "Best in Show," which Bekah won. Anyway, it is still my favorite palantir, a real beauty, and Billy signed it for her:
What a thrill, to see that beautiful signature on something I made. Billy really took his time to sign it nicely, which is not easy on a round surface. Sue was in the line with Bek and pointed out to him that I'd made it, and he leaned back in his chair to wave and tell me "Very good!" I felt like Camille Claudeax when Rodin signed her little marble foot in that movie. Then I took it back to our hotel room and walked past a HUGE line of people waiting to get into the next event, which was a formal-attire affair. It was an "artist moment," walking past hundreds of fancy-dressed people, all oogling the palantir and double-oogling over Billy's signature on it. Heh. That was a real treat.
Jan 5, 2005: Good deeds and excitement
I finally had a moment today to figure out the net earnings from the book auctions I held on eBay: $21.51 was sent to them today thru Paypal. Thanks, bidders! And for anyone else, if you're feeling generous, that's a pretty worthy cause.
I'm getting pretty jazzed about the whole One Ring Celebration concept. The only thing that has me a bit worried is the drive down--I understand there's been some snow along the 5 freeway this year. Looks like Sue and I might have to drive along the coast. Longer, slower, but a lot prettier, too--nothing against the Valley, but it can hardly compete with the Coast when it comes to utterly breathtaking views. Well, some of those dairy farms can make you stop breathing, but not in exactly the same sense. Anyway, we're planning on stopping at every bookstore we can find along the way to hand out postcards about the book.