Welcome To Star Marked Memoirs… The OFFICIAL Webpage Of The Adventures Of CM Showstopper.

Greetings and Salutations!  Welcome to the official website of me…CM Showstopper.  Star Marked Memoirs serves as a host to all my (Mis)adventures In Marking Out.

I am a HUGE pro wrestling fan, so you will find more stories concerning my trips to meet WWE, TNA, and other wrestlers than anything else.  Mixed in you will find music artists, UFC Fighters, television and movie actors.

In addition, my website features my twitter feed….make sure you follow me @CMShowstopper…..my ebay auctions, facebook, youtube account and how you might go about contacting me.

So feel free to take a look around, read my stories, follow me on twitter, make comments, send me questions, etc. etc.  Star Marked Memoirs serves as a place for me to not only share my stories with the rest of the world, but a place that gives myself a chance to remember a very special moment in my life.  These adventures have served for more than just getting a photo and/or autograph.  They have allowed an opportunity for me develop lifelong relationships with some great pals.

Fall Out Boy, Wiz Khalifa, Hoodie Allen And Max Schneider Concert – Hershey, PA – 7/3/15

This would be my 3rd adventure in Hershey, PA in 2 weeks. There isnt much that happens in my neck of the woods….so this was definitely an anomaly. In fact, this story is going to serve as a self awareness warning about being prepared….even when you arent out getting celebs. So here goes.

This story starts with me getting a haircut and my cell phone rings. My buddy Jason tells me his girl has bailed on him and he has this extra ticket for the Fall Out Boy/Wiz Khalifa concert. My immediate reaction was….uh, no. But like a good friend, I couldnt let my boy dangle here. So I agreed to give up my Friday night to hit this concert with him. I scrambled to get some things done and get ready for this concert.

We got to Hershey, parked and headed to the doors. Anyone who has ever attended an event at Hershey knows how anal they are about security. They search EVERYTHING. They wand you. They pat you down. Hell, they do everything besides a cavity search. So I knew better than to even bother trying to take my pocket knife inside. Hell, they wont let you have the bottle caps to the sodas you buy because they said you can use those to cut people. :smh: In fact, Hershey wont even allow you the bottle now. They pour the 20oz soda into a clear cup now.

We found our seats, which were pretty decent. First level off the floor and about 12 rows up. We were pretty close to the stage and could see everything very well. I could even see DJ front row near the stage surrounded by 12 year old girls. Total turd in a punch bowl. DJ was standing head and shoulders above everyone else. I had ZERO hopes for this concert. Fall Out Boy has been producing nothing but top 40 pop songs for years now. They “sold out”. And thats not a knock on them. If I was a struggling musician that was being offered a record deal and a chance to be making millions, I would jump on it. More power to them. But these songs just dont do it for me, generally. FOB put on a pretty simple show, nothing exciting at all. It was down right laughable when they said to the crowd that they looked out and saw a bunch of people that dont “fit” just like FOB. The crowd was almost entirely filled with preppies, teeny boppers, main streamers, a few families and DJ. This was mainstream America. :saswhat:

Wiz Khalifa was horrid. Just absolutely awful. The only thing I liked about his set was the end. His encore was “See You Again” from The Fast And Furious 7 soundtrack. I actually really liked that song. It fit very well for the movie and the scene it played in. Wiz left the stage and then the smoke appeared and the song started playing and Wiz appeared. Presentation was very cool.

The other thing that irked me about Wiz’s set was all the weed that was being smoked. I am not anti-marijuana, not by any stretch. I despise Wiz so much, I actually left my seat and walked out of the arena to the halls. This is where the lesson of being prepared and having your camera would ring true. I was walking around, I spotted Max Schneider, who was gonna perform later. He was walking the halls and taking pics with fans. I grabbed my phone and snagged a selfie. The pic didnt turn out very well, as the front face camera has no flash and its a cell phone…..which just doesnt take HQ photos. Something was better than nothing though. I got the pic with Max and a surprise meet was in the books. But as I continued to walk, the smell of weed was just getting more potent. I even went outside for a brief minute and you could smell it out there.

Eventually I returned for about the last 15mins. of Wiz’s set. I sat down and the dude grabbed the mic and announced to the crowd how he was smoking weed right now. The crowd popped and the dozen of Hershey’s Police force seemed unfazed. So you are telling me that I cant take a pocket knife into the concert, but Wiz can smoke weed on stage and in the face of the police and that is acceptable?! :jagwtfb: Me? I quite enjoyed the contact buzz. And the excuse that there were little children here…..doesnt play well with me. The ticket says Fall Out Boy AND Wiz Khalifa. What were you expecting?! For the parents that were complaining….the gripe that weed was being smoked around your kid is 100% YOUR FAULT! Your irresponsibility of bringing a small child to a concert with Wiz Khalifa on it is the reason that your kid got high. You and you alone. My issue with it was only because the cops didnt seem to care about it.

Shockingly, the act of the night was the opener. Hoodie Allen. I knew absolutely NOTHING about him. DJ told me that Woodmo was a BIG fan of Hoodie Allen and that he was a rap act. My original thought was I was gonna have to suffer through more crappy rap. That thought couldnt be further from the truth. As someone who really does not like rap, I was HIGHLY impressed. Not only did Hoodie present the most energy of the night, he had some sick rhymes. He clearly shares some of the same interests as I do like WWE, First Take and Friday Night Lights, by the use of some of his rhymes. I was so impressed that I went out the next day and bought his cd and downloaded an album off iTunes. Now I cant wait for Hoodie to head back east as I will DEFINITELY be attending his concerts.

So remember kids….BE PREPARED! And you wont have to use photoshop to try and lighten an already grainy image. :like:

 

WWE – Hershey, PA – 7/1/15

Since WWE held Smackdown locally in Hershey, PA….I decided to hit the AP to see what I could score. I can usually get a handful of names. A few small ones like Rotunda, Noble….a few middle of ground like JBL, Kane and Cody Rhodes. And finally main eventer like Seth Rollins. So I headed over early in the morning and was scheduled to meet DJ over there.

When I arrived, I usually find a few other marks hanging out. None this time. It was just me. I figured with a lot of the roster headed to Japan, that others abandoned this spot. I hung out and waited for DJ. After 15mins, I called DJ to see where he was at. No answer. I continued to wait and spotted Mike Rotunda come in and some crew members. Had nothing for him and didnt bother getting up from my seat. 30 minutes later, I sent DJ a text and tried to call again…..no answer and no response. :thinking:

Next person I saw was Joey Mercury come in. If Noble was there, I might have tried for a J & J security op….but no Noble, so this was an easy pass for me. I tried DJ again…..no answer. Now my suspicions of him being asleep were now realized. I continued to wait it out. About an hour later, I saw Brad Maddox….who would sadly be the last of anyone I would see.:deadd:

I spent about 2.5 hrs there and came away with nothing, diddly, naught, nihility, nought, nullity, shutout, voided, zero, zilch, zip, zippo. I was aught, bagatelled, blanked, ciphered and trifled. DJ finally called right before I left. He had slept through his alarm. At least now, after all the countless times of being late, I have NEVER slept through an entire trip. Sadly, thats all I got to take away from this trip.

This reported adventure isnt so adventurous. I decided to write it anyway, because not every single one can be filled with triumphs of glory. A clunker….in this case, a MAJOR clunker comes about as well. No photo ops. No autographs. A little gas spent and $8.80 in parking, not to mention the loss of about 4hrs of added sleep……were all lost. And that concludes one of the worst trips I have ever had. Enjoy the photos! :troll:

 

Mixtape Festival – Hershey, PA – 6/27/15

Mixtape Festival rolled into Hershey, PA. I kind of wanted to goto the concert, but mostly just for Vanilla Ice. While the concert was headlined by NKOTB with Donnie Wahlberg, who I am a big fan of…..NKOTB, not so much. I like Donnie for his acting….not his music. At the end of the day, I came to the conclusion that going to the concert was a waste of money considering Ice was going to be an opening act. Well, considering the day of the concert, it poured most of the day and it was rain or shine……I think I made the right decision. Worse yet, the day of the show Mixtape announced that Ice was not performing and only hosting the After Party. Eventually, we would learn he would in fact perform for a small bit on stage….but by far was definitely right not to goto the concert. However, thanks to DJ….he forwarded an email for after party tickets. So I went with that, figuring, scoring some autos/photos would be fairly easy. That turned out to not be the case.

Since DJ really had no interest in the after party, I decided to get a newbie involved. My buddy Jason, who had always wanted to see what marking out was like….here would mark his first experience. We headed over to Hershey around 10 for a 11pm start time. Sadly, we ran into a HUGE cluster fuck of cars. All these people were trying to leave Hershey and we were trying to get into Hershey. Hershey’s setup sucks. Giant Center, Pavillion, Arena, Stadium and the Park all require the same entrance and exit. Its a mess. It took us over an hour just to get parked. We walked to the arena and entered right away. It was NOT what I was expecting. The setup reminded me of fucking prom. Balloons spelling out mixtape, ushers at the door and people taking pictures of you as you entered….weird. Once inside, we headed down to the floor where there was a stage and it was barricaded. This was not good.

We walked around the floor and couldnt find anyone at Hershey that knew what was going on or where Vanilla Ice was, considering he was supposed to be hosting. Instead there was just a DJ playing dance music. We walked to the top of the stairs on the opposite side to try and get a better view of the scene. We found the best spot we were gonna get to try and fight our way to the front of the barricades, right by the speaker. So we headed back down and walked on over. Using the swim effect, I was able to get myself right to the front barricade in front of the speaker. Over the course of the next half hour, Nelly and Salt N Peppa would come out and say hi. None did any photos or autos. They just came out to say hi. This was definitely not looking good. Then out came Vanilla Ice and eventually NKOTB. They hung out for a good 1.5hhrs. It didnt seem like anyone was going to leave the stage though. So I needed to reach into my bag of tricks and give them a reason. I tried to get Ice’s attention by whipping out an old school Vanilla Ice doll from the 90s still MOC. And it WORKED! Ice grabbed the doll and held it up on stage. He started talking about it and showed it to NKOTB. He loved it. I threw him a Sharpie and he was glad to sign it. I reached back in my bag and pulled out a prior photo op and held that out. Ice reached down to hand me back my doll and took the photo. He showed the crowd and said he loved the pic. He signed it for me and handed it back. I tried to get Donnie Wahlberg’s attention the same way….but to no avail.

The only member of NKOTB to come down to the crowd was Danny Wood. He walked around and took selfies. So I scored a selfie with him. Eventually with enough pleading, Ice climbed down. He said he was going to do selfies with the fans. He climbed down the middle of the stage and then said he was gonna start with……and walked right over to me. Scored a selfie with Ice and then he headed back towards the middle. On his way back down, I stopped him again with a Thats My Boy 8×10 with him and Sandler and got him to sign that. Even my buddy Jason scored a selfie with Ice. Like previously, Ice was freaking awesome.

The after party seemed to continue, even with the stars leaving. I was putting my stuff away when this cute chick came over and began bumping her ass into me and making small talk. When I turned towards her, she backed her ass up and started to grind into me. :winning: Who am I deprive this young lady of pure heavenly bliss? I broke out some Step Up shit, the original as only Channing Tatum can do it best, getting my groove on. My wingman Jason….stood there like oak tree rooted into the ground. When this chick’s friends came rolling up on him, he dropped the ball. I needed him to jump on the grenade and he offered excuses of being tired and having to be at work early the next morning. And by early, he meant 10am. :1distraught:

The worst wingman in the history wingmans and I headed out. If he reads this, I hope he has learned from this experience. Everyone deserves a pass one time. His is now used up. The night wasnt a complete failure though. I took home 3 Ice autos, a selfie with Ice and one with Danny Wood……cockblocked and a case of blue balls. :ehh:

 

Jaleel White – Blarney’s Mechanicsburg, PA – 6/13/15

Hehehheh……did I do that? :likewhatic: That squeaky laugh and infamous 4 words were a cultural icon in the 90s….during ABC’s TGIF lineup. Family Matters, a spinoff of one of my favorite all time shows Perfect Strangers, was the vehicle that ushered in a television icon. Steve Urkel, a character that started as nothing more than a background character as Carl’s nerdy neighbor. But the character and more importantly Jaleel White’s charming portryal, would become a television icon.

So when DJ texted me to let me know that Jaleel White was not only appearing, but would be appearing in my home town of Mechanicsburg, PA….THE MECH. This was an absolute no brainer to attend. I tried to get more information from the club’s FB page and their website….nada. They would not respond. That would not deter me though. If they had responded positively, I would have just paid the $25 charge to get in and handle my business. Instead, they chose to ignore multiple posts on their FB page and in the end, did NOT receive my $25. I mean $25 for a combo with Urkel is a no brainer. I was gonna get him at WW Philly before he cancelled and his auto alone was more than that.

For some reason I had June 20 in my head as his appearance day, but I became aware on June 13 that it was actually on this day. Not sure how I got the 20th in my head. I texted DJ and he had forgotten. We made plans to meet at the club a few minutes before he was appearing. I even called the club to see what they knew and they said he would be there at 8pm. When I arrived, I met up with DJ and we went inside the hotel that was connected to scope it out. It was definitely a possibility he was already here. Unfortunately, there was no signs of any activity. We went outside and decided to hang out in the parking lot, trying to keep an eye on the hotel entrance, the restaurant entrance AND the club entrance. They were all connected.

8pm came and went and there was no sign of Jaleel. We went inside and I spoke to the hostess of the restaurant, who was also the person I spoke to on the phone earlier in the day. She apologized, but said she was informed that he would not be appearing till 9:30pm now. :facepalm2: So DJ and I went to grab a bite to eat before we returned back. As 9:30 started to creep up, there was no sign. Jaleel was scheduled to be introducing a band. One thing is we could hear the club mic. from outside, so we could keep tabs on what was going on inside. DJ kept thinking this was a dead spot. I refused to lose faith. And suddenly, we got a sign. No, Jaleel didnt pull up. Instead one of the restaurant workers came out and couldnt get his car started. He asked DJ for a jump and DJ obliged. As they were jumping his car, the guy mentions to DJ that Steve Urkel is in the restaurant eating right now. We scramble to head inside. There is now someone working the door at the restaurant. They want $7 to enter the restaurant bc the restaurant is having a band as well. Being that the restaurant is connected to the club, I asked about entering the club and she told me I would have full access. Slammed my $7 down and got my stamp to get in. DJ refused to pay to enter. He said he was tired, as he worked all day and didnt want to wait all night for Jaleel as there was no guarantee. :sleeping:

I happily went inside and found the girl I talked to on the phone. She said I just missed him and he went to the club to introduce the band. I hurried over and found him standing by the stage. I was about 5 people back. I decided to give it a few minutes to access the situation before trying to swim my way over. He had 2 security guards around him as well. I did see a few girl crawl on the ground and get selfies with him. Security didnt see to care. He went up on stage and introduced the band. He was a friend of the lead singer. He was in NYC promoting a new Food Network show he was appearing on and came down to see his buddy. After introducing the band, he got off stage and stayed to listen to one song. Once the song was over, he and his security began to head towards the back deck. DJ and I had noticed earlier in the day, there was a back entrance for the deck. Could he be making his exit? I decided to cut him off before he reached the deck and hit perfectly with time. I stopped him and he was quite nice to pose for a photo. He even had me check it to make sure it turned out ok. It did not, so we took another. Then I asked him for an auto and he told me to follow him around back. I figured he was taking off and wanted to sign before he got in his car. Instead there was a gazebo set up in the back that was reserved for him. Security asked if this would suitable. Jaleel asked for a high top table and a high top chair. He said it would be easier for people to come up that way than inside a gazebo with some lounge chairs. He took my 8×10 and signed it for me it. I asked him if he minded doing 2 more and he said sure. He signed 2 Urkel 8x10s and one current one. I told him how I loved Family Matters and that Urkel was a television icon. We also talked Total Blackout, his short lived game show. This show was awesome. My mother and I would watch this and found it to be hilarious. Contestants must perform stunts, feats, etc. in absolute total darkness. Snakes, spiders, cows, teddy bears, egg shells, etc. Anything from the creepy and crawly to the harmless and funny. It was a cool show. Only wished it got more seasons. Jaleel said it was a blast to do that show.

I gathered my stuff and turned around to leave and noticed about 60 people lined up behind me. WOW! I dont know if they announced something earlier about him signing or taking photos, but it looked like a line at Wizard World. I took off and was glad I cut him off at the deck so I didnt have to wait in that line. I exited out and called DJ to let him know that I was done. DJ was shocked at how quickly I was in and out. Total success! Spent a few hours waiting overall, but it was well worth it for a photo and 3 autos. The stories of Jaleel being super fan friendly were indeed true. Awesome guy who is still remembered by many. Certainly remembered by at least 60 people in Mechanicsburg, PA who waited in line to meet him. I’ll have to get a look at his new show on Food Network called Worst Cooks In America: Celebrity Edition. Jaleel appears with Dean Cain, Kendra Wilkinson, JWOW and Barry Williams from The Brady Brunch, among others. Look for it coming this fall!

 

NXT Pittsburgh, PA 6/11/15

I cant resist NXT. To me, it’s the BEST wrestling show in North America. To be honest, its an indy mark’s wet dream. For years, WWE shunned away from the smart mark’s whims. Now, in 2015, WWE is embracing it and seeing just how talented these guys are. The future of pro wrestling looks like it might be leaving it in better shape than it found it.

With NXT coming to Pittsburgh, PA…..an old stomping ground of mine, it was an easy decision to head west to see what kind of gets I could get. So the plan was to tag team with Cancer Free Dave and head into the Burgh. With Pittsburgh being a little closer to Dave, I was gonna head his way. Up at 4am, leave by 5am and meet Dave at 6am. The night before I packed my bag, a light load and set the alarm. I headed to bed for a couple of hours of shut eye before starting the early morning adventure. Well….things just dont ever seem to go as planned, especially with me and being on time. The morning came and my eyes began to flicker. I felt a little too refreshed for only getting 3 hours of sleep. I turned over and looked at the clock….it was 6:10am. :angry14: What happened to my alarm?! Oh no! Pittsburgh is a 3 hour drive from Dave’s and I am an hour from him. We would NEVER make it in time. I quickly called Dave and told him somehow the alarm never went off. We quickly regrouped and Dave headed my way. This would allow me time to get showered and ready. I checked the alarm clock….I accidentally set it for 4pm and not am.

Showered and cleaned, I got the dog out and looked at the clock. We were really gambling. If all went well, we would arrive about a half hour after when we needed to be there. Should I call it? 3.5hrs is a long time to travel for something you already know you will be too late for. What might you get? Maybe a couple of stragglers leaving? I just knew that if I called the trip off that the flight would be delayed and we would have made it. And if we tried, we could possibly miss them. Fact is, you miss 100% of the shots you DO NOT take. I would rather take the shot and miss then live with the regret of not trying at all. I called Dave and we met in Carlisle, PA, which should cut about 20 minutes off. We hit the turnpike and it was balls to the wall. Dave drove like a NASCAR driver straight down the turnpike. And by a stroke of luck…..a DELAY! They caught about a 30 min. delay, which would put us arriving at the same time. Not sure how we lucked into it, but this was a good sign.

When we arrived, we parked and headed inside. The board was showing the plane had just landed. We got to the spot and found Samoa Joe sitting at baggage. I took a seat a few down from him. He looked over at me and I said whats up. Joe nodded. I congratulated him on landing with NXT. He gave me the nod of thanks. I asked him if he was here to get autos as well. Joe gave me the “not sure if serious” look. I smiled back.

Our first form of bad luck struck when the bags started to come up but none of the NXT stars were down here yet. Bags started coming up and spinning around. This could present a problem. Within a few minutes we had our first arrivals. We spotted Tyler Breeze and Murphy from Blake & Murphy and Aiden English. I scored all 3 in my NXT program. Then I saw Alexa Bliss and made sure to get her in my program as well as a photo with her. I love Alexa! She is by far my favorite NXT Diva. She is super sexy.

The next I look up and there is a crowd of people. We see Kevin Owens, Carmella, Big Cass, Blake, Sasha Banks, Baron Corbin, Bull Dempsey, Mojo, Simon Gotch, Regal and Terry Taylor. Carmella came walking near me, so I opted to get her on my NXT poster. Problem was since bags were up, people were grabbing them and just walking off. It became chaotic. There were some other marks there too, but they were having just as many problems trying to get to people. I saw Sasha start to leave. I needed Sasha and she was joined by a top want in Becky Lynch and also Dana Brooke. I grabbed my NXT poster and started heading over to them, but the NXT stars were having a huddle with Regal and Taylor and Sasha and Lynch were in the center with no good way to get in there. Besides, I didnt want to bother them while they were working. It was clear that Taylor was giving instructions of some sort to everyone. He was also taking a roll call. Speaking of roll call, I assessed that missing was top want Finn Balor. Emma was standing at baggage, so I walked over and got her in the NXT program. She hadnt seen it before and thought it was pretty cool. Charlotte came racing over and you could tell she was in a hurry. But she was happy to stop and sign my NXT program as well before she joined the group.

Still the glaring problem was no Balor. As the group began heading outside, Balor finally came down. He walked over to baggage and I headed over. We exchanged hellos, but he was panicked as he didnt see his bag on carousel. He began too look through bags on the side that were there before his plane landed. I explained that those were here before his and told him there were more bags on the other side. Once he located his missing luggage, he was happy to sign 3 for me. Terry Taylor came over to get him, as their ride was gonna leave. There wasnt much time to talk, as he was running behind. I guess its another thing we share in common. :troll:

As we started packing up, Kevin Owens came back. For what reason? Not sure. But I stopped him and he was nice enough to sign 2 for me. Owens was gone and we got our stuff and headed out. Overall, it was no more than ok. I scored some good ones. I added 2 more names to my NXT poster, leaving 3 names to finish it. I got a few in the program and I got 3 done by Balor. It definitely could have been better, but it could have been much worse.

We headed out to the arena to scout it out and opted to grab some lunch when we discovered marking out here was worthless. We decided to eat at a place called Burgatory. I highly recommend this place for nothing more than this amazing “Build Your Own Burger” they are known for. I looked up the address and found a few locations. Dave opted to hit the closest, which I thought might be a bad idea since we were near the stadium and Consol Energy Center. We drove over and yup….inside the Consol Energy Center. :smh: We drove to the next closest and went inside. Food was pretty good. I had extremely high hopes by the reviews, pictures and the menu. It was VERY good, but I was thinking it might be epic quality. Like I said, I still recommend eating there. They have some interesting topics to put on your burger…..like this stuff called Bacon Jam. Its a sweet jame with some salty bacon mixed in. It was pretty interesting tasting…both salty and sweet. But I just wouldnt get it on a burger, but I did get to sample a little cup of it. They were reasonably priced and high quality.

The trip home was rather uneventful. We made good timing home and there was no need to race down the turnpike. We spent about 20 mins inside the AP and 7 hours travelling there. Ouch! That sounds harsh, but it was still cool. I cant wait till NXT is in the area again. And if you are one of the very few who aint watching NXT….then you are truly missing out. Professional wrestling is indeed still alive and well. Its just based out of Orlando with the yellow ropes. Until next time…..

 

EDIT: Sadly, this would also be known as the day Dusty Rhodes died.  It would be announced just a few hours after I left the Pittsburgh airport that The American Dream had passed away.  So ironic, considering how much of a role Dusty played in creating, teaching and molding the stars of NXT.  My heart goes out to the Rhodes family and to every single “student” of the Dream’s.

 

Awesome Con – Washington DC – 5/29/15

I was originally fairly hesitant to goto Awesome Con, considering the multiple reports of issues from the year before…at least at the DC Awesome Con. The guest list was sort of lackluster and the high priced admission certainly turned me off as well. This year, the lineup wasnt that much better. But I couldnt resist an opportunity to get a pro photo op with Seth Rollins, one of my favorite WWE superstars and my heated Words With Friends rival. Speaking of WWF, pun intended, Mr. Rollins has been on a very lucky streak as of late….thanks to some lousy letters like all consonant or all vowels for several turns. Anyway, I fully expected Rollins to have the WWE Championship and I had a replica MITB briefcase that I thought would make for an awesome photo chance.
In addition, other names like Arthur Darvill, who I missed at Ups, Karen Gillian, Brian Tee and Judith Hoag were all scheduled as well. Well, Gillian cancelled a couple of weeks before the con. Darvill was moved to Saturday only. Which left just the 2 additional minor wants.

DC isnt all that far for me, so this still seemed to be a con that would be worth going to. I had a few things to attend to in the morning, including getting a hair cut. All these errands resulted in me running severely behind time. I got on the road and headed to Cancer Free Dave, who would be attending his first comic/pop culture con. We headed for the closest DC Metro stop. When we arrived at the Metro station to buy our pass, we instantly became confused on exactly what we needed. In NYC, you buy a card and it costs just under $3 a ride no matter where you were going. In DC….it seems there are different prices for different stops. Also, there is a peak charge or non peak charge. Yet….no explanation that designates when peak times are. Dave said he thought $10 would do it. I put a $20 bill in and bought $10 for the pass. I ended up getting 10 gold coins back in change. :saswhat:

We got on the Metro and were on our way. Once we arrived at the con stop, it was super convenient, as the stop let out right at the doors to the con. All we had to do was walk down the side and enter through the opposite side of the street. Once inside though, it would be a long walk to where the con was actually taking place in this building. We were definitely cutting it close. Rollins photo op time was 4:30pm and we still needed to buy our Rollins photo tickets. We quickly redeemed out admission tickets. There was zero line and we were inside. The photo ops were clear to the other side, but we found them. There was no line for photo ops, so we were able to secure them right away. I used the gold coins to pay for them, but ran into a little resistance from Awesome Con. They werent sure what they were. :thinking:

We immediately joined the line. The line was decent. I did spot some of NYC guys I saw from just a couple of weeks ago and even saw the big black guy that freaked over Undertaker’s loss at Mania. I got my briefcase out for the photo op and immediately became a hit with the line. Several people asked to take pictures with the briefcase. I obliged them, since everyone was very polite. The line moved very quickly. Once inside, Rollins immediately greeted me saying it had been awhile since last we met. He also made it a point of taking shots at me concerning WWF. I got my photo and exited. As I walked out, my photo was printed and was handed to me within 30 seconds of my exit. Very efficient and it turned out awesome. I was very happy with the results. Unlike Wizard World, they scan your ticket and your photo op before you can leave. This was like Fan Expo’s setup.

The next item on the agenda was to get Rollins autograph. The line was fairly long. I waited to the side of it, as Dave needed to get another photo op. His line was a mere 10 people….so he should be done long before I was. We couldnt have been more wrong. As I waited for Dave to help me with my items, the Rollins line was trucking. Not sure how it was moving so quickly, but it was. It got to the point, that Awesome Con staff suggested I get in line because once its done Rollins will be leaving. Dave still had not returned and I had no choice but to get into line. Awesome Con staff though was really nice and joined me in line in order to hold my 16×20 photo file that was signed in paint, so it wouldnt smear. I got my briefcase signed and also my photo with the champ signed. Since no one was behind me, I was able to chat with Rollins a bit. He thanked me for coming out and said he would see me soon. I told him, it would pretty damn soon as Smackdown was in Hershey in late June. He said cool. And that he would see me at the AP at 6am. :pacgrin:

I took my stuff off to the side and waited for Dave, who joined me about 10 minutes later. Instead of joining me in line, Dave was waiting for his photo op. He said that there were tons of Shattner photo ops that were holding back on his photo op. With Rollins done, all I needed was Brian Tee and Judith Hoag. I headed over to Tee next. He had one person and was very personable. I got a table op for $20. He was very cool. Sat around and talked about Teeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. He talked about whatever he could, including Rocksteady and Bebop and their origin stories being told. He also talked about the action in the movie and said it was gonna be a lot better than the previous. And thats a good thing, cuz the first Bay creation was pretty bad. I told Brian about being on set a couple weeks back and Brian invited me back. He said to come find him if I make it back, which I plan to do.

With Tee done, I headed over to Judith Hoag, who also had just 1 person in line. I talked to her about the upcoming movie as well. She was more hush about it. She couldnt reveal her character at all. But she said she was really excited about it. She was supposed to be in the first Bay film, but she had another movie she was working on and couldnt happen. She also told me that Elias Kosteas, original Casey Jones, was also approached on the first one but was unable to do it due to other filming commitments. She didnt know if he was approached about this one though. We took the picture and I was done.

All autos and photos were done. We walked around the con to check out the vendors. I found the Arrow pop vinyls for $10, so I snagged both the masked/hooded version and the unmasked/unhooded version. There was also a Marvel booth that had a memory game you could play in order to win a Marvel poster. The last Avengers poster went as we approached, but they had Ant Man posters still. I got a look at the 2 pieces I was attempting to match. I picked the first one right, but somehow screwed up the 2nd. I made Dave play and he just picked 2 random pieces and got a match. I won the Ant Man poster! :victory:

The con was done and we headed out. We had a bit of a wait for the Metro to return and there was a lot of people waiting for it. When it finally arrived, we got on and took it back to where we originally got on. Once we got back, we swiped our card, but it kept saying it was invalid. The Metro worker opened an emergency exit door and allowed us to pass. Not sure why $10 wouldnt cover it, but I suspect THAT was the issue. But Metro was nice to let us pass. :like:

We hopped in the car and were on our way back to my car. My personal impressions were Awesome Con reports from last year were either greatly exaggerated or they really found an amazing way to resolve the issues they were having. The lines were very well managed and moved very quickly. Admission tickets were $10 cheaper this year and adding WWE names was a good move. Having several stars doing table ops was also a plus. It allowed you to get more photo ops without having to pay big dollars for some minor wants. I will definitely return to Awesome Con, lineup pending, next time they are in the area. Hats off to their organization.

 

NYC UpFronts 5/12-5/15/15

It happens once a year and its considered the biggest week in television. This mega event brings some of the biggest names of network television into NYC. There are so many actors and actresses…..you gotta keep your head on a swivel with your eyes open. Blink….and you just might miss your favorite tv star. If that doesnt get you excited to read this tale…..may God have mercy on your soul…..if you have one of those.

Last year, if you remember reading my adventure, reaped major rewards. Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell, Emilly Bett Rickards, Paul Blackthorne and Colton Haynes from Arrow, Joseph Morgan, Phoebe Tonkin, Daniel Gillies from The Originals, Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, Danielle Panabaker and Carlos Valdes from The Flash, Paul Constanzo and Mark Feurstein from Royal Pains, Christopher Gorham, Peter Gallagher, Kari Matchett and Piper Perabo from Covert Affairs, Nina Dobrev from The Vampire Diaries and some random celebs like Rebecca Romijin, CeeLo Green, Christian Kane, Marlon Wayans, Rashida Jones and Gina Rodriguez. Now THAT was a mouthful. To top it off….that was all within a day and a half. This year….this year was gonna be different. I expected to pull in 3 times as many celebs, by spending 4 days and 3 nights in NYC. With more time and better info, this year should prove a tad bit more fruitful.

Up at 2 am on Tuesday morning and running late per the usual, we got on the road. DJ, Cancer Free Dave and myself were on our way. Sometimes I think subconsciously I run late because DJ is always planning to arrive way to early. Being 30 mins behind, we hit the first spot and spent a good 45 minutes before seeing our first celebrity. A spot that usually only brings just a few people was SWARMING this morning. No one really big was expected, so not quite sure what drew this crowd. Saw a lot of NY regulars here….one in particular is REALLY starting to drive up a wall. Her constant fucking belly aching, embellishments, lies and just pure annoyance is beyond irritating. One of these days….she’s gonna find that cane shoved right up her ass, if she doesnt watch where she is swinging it. Worse yet, she will do anything and everything for the celebs she wants and will flip out if you get in her way with her tale of woe. Ive seen you run like an olympic triathlete down the street. Ive seen you chase cars like a hungry dog off the chain. Lose the gimmick.

Had to get that rant over, but sadly it would not be the last time I would have to deal with her. Anyway, after the long wait we finally spotted our first celeb and it was Jeremy Piven. Piven refused to do it and said he would do it on the way out. Ok, no sweat. We also spotted Rebel Wilson arrive, she of course refused to do it. There was one fan there was very interested in getting her, but she refused both photo and auto. She stated in a recent interview that she doesnt refuse REAL fans….just the dealers. Guess she’s a fucking liar. Perhaps if the guy brought an all you can buffet or rolled up in an ice cream truck, she would have taken a photo with him. Me? I couldnt have cared less. Of course the irritating bitch went off on Rebel, ONLY after she had gone inside.

The next celeb was my top want for this spot, Jon Seda from Chicago PD. He arrived and was super cool. He signed and took photos with everyone. I got him on my Chicago PD cast photo and got a pic. Great score to open the week. And after that came DJ’s big want Megan Boone. Megan looked super sexy. She is an example of someone who looks better in real life than she does on the tv show she is on, The Blacklist. She was very nice and signed for everyone. She made sure to give DJ extra special attention. I got an auto on an 8×10 and a great photo with her.

Sadly, in the cluster mess around Megan Boone, we lost track of the SUV that dropped Piven off. It must have pulled away. We could only guess that he opted to exit on the other side, where no one was waiting. Way to honor your word, Mr. Piven. I was gonna purchase his book at his book signing later that evening, but his little stunt this morning soured me on him and I opted to spend my money elsewhere.

Rebel Wilson exited and once again blew everyone off. There wasnt much left for this spot and we opted to hit our next spots up. DJ and I would split up and pretty much remained split up the rest of the trip. We took the subway to the same stop and went in an opposite direction. Cancer Free Dave elected to join me, while DJ headed for a spot he hoped to get some Empire names at. I took the walk down and got to the spot, hoping to land Chicago PD cast, Mark Paul Gosselaar, Craig T. Nelson, Chicago Fire cast especially Taylor Kinney and Peter Facinelli.

When we arrived, there was no one there. We took a spot at the barricade, assessed the position and optioned to cross to the other side. It just look like more people would be using the door further from us and closer to the other barricade. So we headed and boy was I right. It was a long wait before we spotted our first name. The sun was out and it was HOT and HUMID. We eventually sat down, since we were the only two there. After about an hour and half we spotted a top want, Craig T. Nelson from Coach fame. I leaped up and called out to him, as he stood by the door. I asked him for a photo and was directly and promptly turned down. :1distraught: VWHAT!??!!? Craig T. Nelson turned me down. Coach turned a long time fan down for a simple photo. I couldnt believe it. I actually turned away, as to not let him see the almost tears run down my cheek or the looks of total horror. I think I was having trouble breathing. How could Craig T. Nelson turn me down, when there was but 2 of us here?

After my breathing returned to normal and but a minute went by, I hear a man ask me wheres my camera. I look over to my right and its Craig T. Nelson!!!!! :clap: I quickly pull out my camera and I snap the selfie. I thank him for the photo and tell him how excited I am for Coach to be returning. I cant wait and have been a long time fan. From horror to victory, all in a minute. A top want is checked off the list for the week. I tell Dave how happy I am, especially after how I shocked I was he turned me down. I asked Dave what he thought might have prompted his change of heart. Dave responded; “he finished his smoke.” Huh? Evidently, beyond my scope of vision, Dave spotted him smoking by the door. He didnt want to smoke around us to take a photo or didnt want to be photographed with a cig in hand. He wasnt turning me down….he was simply finishing his smoke.

We are off to great start. 1 Chicago PD name and Coach. Who would be next? Well, it would be some time before we would find out who would be next…..at least it would for me. Dave and I sat back down and continued to wait it out. A person walked by the rails and down the street to the restaurant that was just a tad bit down from us. When the person went inside, Dave says to me…..”that was Mark Paul Gosselaar.” Get the fuck out of here. Dave is certain. He says it was definitely him. I ask him why he didnt say anything before he went into the restaurant. Dave said he didnt want Mark Paul to hear it. :killme: KILL ME! KILL ME NOW!!!! Are you kidding me!??!?! After I thoroughly berate poor Dave like a 5 year old child who just bit his baby sister’s finger, I stand up to get a better view. Mark Paul seriously just walked by me, but I had my back turned and missed him. I wont let THAT happen again.

Almost an hour later and Dave spotted him exiting the restaurant. This time I would not miss out. I grabbed my Saved By The Bell cast photo and waited till he walked by. I politely asked him for an autograph and photo and he said he would, but it had to be quick as he wasnt feeling well. He looked pretty hung over. Ball cap and dark shades. He was quiet but definitely obliged. He even had a big smile on his face for my photo. So I was super stoked. WOW! 3 big wants down and we are mere hours into this trip.

It wouldnt be too long and I would see Sophia Bush dart out and head for a waiting car. I called out to her, but she said she would be back. She jumped in the car and was gone. Ugh. Ok….well, I’ll keep an eye out for her. Jason Beghe star of Chicago PD as Hank Voight came out next. I called out to him, but you could tell he was in a frantic hurry. He went to get into a car, but found out it wasnt his. He asked the doorman to get him a cab, but I think the doorman didnt hear his raspy voice. Jason walked over and signed my cast photo. He looked over as a cab pulled him and the doorman let someone else in. Jason became annoyed at this. He started to walk down the street a bit trying to hail his own cab. He wasnt having luck. I walked over and tried to get a photo, I didnt want to miss him. He took the photo, but you could tell he was getting more and more annoyed. Other fans had arrived at this point and he was getting bombarded left and right. He was having no luck with the cab and the doorman wasnt helping either. He finally went over to the doorman and went face to face with the guy so they were on the same page. He got a cab and he was off. But the combo was secured and I added another name to the cast photo.

There must have been a run on Chicago PD cast cuz next I see Jon Ceda come out and he stopped for a few fans and then jumped into his SUV. Jesse Lee Soffer came out and started to head in a different direction. I called out to him and he said to give him 1 minute. He went for a walk and I figured I could get him on the way back. So now I have to keep my eye out for Jesse and Sophia. My friend Monica joined us at the spot and now there was probably 8 people waiting, one of which was the crazy lady from before. It was now mid afternoon and I had already spent a good 6 hours at this spot. Definitely well worth it, but my feet were hurting. My body was sweating. My back was aching. I’m too old for this shit.

As we are standing there, Danielle Panabaker all of the sudden walks up the street and is standing next to me. WTF?! I quickly grab my Flash 11×14. She says she is going inside and will be right out. True to her word, she comes out and signs a couple and does a couple of photos. She said she was only here to pickup her Grandfather and they are going out to dinner. Crazy!

An SUV pulls up and Peter Facinelli gets out. He is on his phone, but gets off it pretty quickly and turns into a machine. He is signing. He is taking photos. He is having conversations. Dude is a machine. Definitely one of the most personable celebs I have ever met. And why not? He went from Jennie Garth to Jamie Alexander. One of the guys asks where Jamie is and Peter said she was doing photo shoot and would be back soon. Just wait here and she will take care of everyone. Peter currently stars on a show called American Odyssey. I havent seen it yet, but I am intrigued. What I know and love him from is a show from Fox that was cancelled after 1 season called Fast Lane. I loved Fast Lane! Too bad it never got a renewal.

Out next was Craig Robinson. At this point, there must be 20 fans waiting. Robinson is in a hurry, but poses for a photo or 2 before taking off. I get the photo and Robinson is gone. I spot Sophia Bush returning and call out to her again. She races in through the doors and is gone! DAMN!!!! Another SUV pulls up and its Ellen Pompeo from Grey’s Anatomy. She walks up and everyone thinks they know her, but no one knows her name. After a group research via google, we determine it really was Ellen. We will be ready when she comes out.

I spot Jesse Lee Soffer coming back. I call him to him again and he once again gives me the 1 second and heads inside. WTF?! What is going on? It sucks cuz Jesse and Sophia are 2 of my favorites of the show with Voight. This sucks. Sophia Bush comes back out. I try again, figuring its gonna be a no. She comes over this time. She stops to take a picture with Monica. I have my cast photo out and ready to go. Then Monica drops her phone on my photo and asks me to take the photo!?!?!?!? NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I hesitate. If I take the photo, Sophia could be gone by the time I am able to ditch the phone. They are awkwardly posing and I decide to take the pic, as its gonna hurt my chances and screw a friend over if I dont. I take the pic and ditch the phone as soon as I can. I ask Sophia for the autograph and she is gone before I can finish the sentence. :horrorhart: Unreal. She did the 1 photo and left. A few minutes later and I cant make this shit up, but literally a bird of some sort flies over head and its bowels just explode on Monica’s arm and her cell phone. It is so bad, she is forced to throw her phone case away….as we only had so much to work with on a hot sidewalk of NYC. Obviously, she could have gone to get napkins, but it would be jeopardizing potential meets. I offer her some hand sanitizer and she does her best to clean up. Was it karma? Its hard to say. I dont want to be cruel, but not taking the selfie I feel caused the loss. It certainly can be argued that if she really wanted to sign, she would have. Who knows? All I know is that I dont have the auto I needed and that bird must have had some bad Mexican based on the amount of crap that landed.

The next SUV that pulls up brings Charles Barkley. Barkley refuses to sign or do photos. At one point, one of the dealers ran to him and some heated exchange takes place. It ends with security chasing the dealer away and Barkley with his fist clinched and in the air talking about beating this guy’s ass. Someone walks up for photo and Barkley does it. I try to make my way over, but to no avail. Barkley goes inside and Shaq arrives. I politely ask Shaq for a photo and I am promptly turned down. As he is walking inside he does a couple of photos before going in. WTF? Ok. Moments later he comes out again and does a photo right in front of me. I ask him again and Shaq THREATENS me. He tells me if I ask one more time, he and I are gonna have a problem. :saswhat: I knew this guy was a fucking douche bag, but let me tell you something Shaquille O’Neal is a bigger piece of shit. Men and women asking, some rudely, and he obliges….yet turns me down. My friend Monica runs over and asks, promptly gets cut off by the old lady with the cane. Monica looks like she is ready to throw down, but asks Shaq anyway and she too gets turned down. Shaq is headed for his SUV as I spot DJ. DJ spots Shaq and takes off running for him. Shaq goes to get inside the SUV and DJ goes and gets a photo op. A a behind the back ambush and success. I guess Shaq doesnt understand politeness. The words please and sir evidently are offensive to him. While words like yo man and give me will land you a photo. Screws over fans at the signing in NJ and turns polite fan down for a photo. Class act.

The last ball player that arrives is Kenny The Jet Smith. Kenny comes out and I ask him for a photo and he says he will take care of me in a minute and he needs to run in to get checked in. He returns a few minutes later and lives up to his promise. He heads right over and takes the photo. Shaq might want to take a page out of Kenny’s book on how to treat fans. My issue with Shaq isnt that I got turned down…..its that he threatened me, when I politely asked for a photo op and obliged guys who were rude about it.

As the day began to turn to evening, the old body was really starting to tire out. Dave and I both needed to get a break and the names were starting to really come sporadically. Jesse Lee Soffer came out again, once again agreed to take care of me when he came back and it never happened. Not sure what this was all about. Ernie Johnson came out right after him and I had a brain fart, calling him Rich Eisen. The worst part was I knew it was Ernie Johnson. I just tweeted about Ernie Johnson a day or 2 before and yet said Rich Eisen. Ernie was cool. He walked over and introduced himself and even agreed to pose for the photo. Cool guy and a total class act for what he did for Stuart Scott. Some people called it a publicity stunt, but if you had seen the video, you would know it was as genuine and genuine could be. This was a small awards show that was not televised. He didnt have to do it….he did it because he wanted to. Bravo Ernie Johnson.

The next person that arrived was Amber Stevens from 22 Jump Street. She played Maya, Ice Cube’s daughter. She was happy to pose and I got a photo. Gorgeous lady too. The last two photos I got at this spot were Freddy Rodriguez from Night Shift and Ugly Betty and musician James Taylor. In between these 2 meets, Sophia Bush came back and once again….she ran back inside. No Bush. No Soffer. Its definitely hard to complain for as many great meets that I got. I scored 3 top wants for the week right away on day 1. But now I needed a moment. So we packed up, grabbed an Uber and headed to the hotel.

When we got to the hotel, we got checked in and got the bags brought upstairs. Our room wasnt exactly in a hall, it was more like some narrow corridor off the main hall way. When we got inside, we thought we were in some children’s room. The room was TINY. There were 2 beds with a small night stand between them. There was a desk along the wall with a chair, thats seat was almost touching the floor. The bathroom was small and there was a tiny cut out of the wall that was considered a closet. How we were gonna get 4 people in here was beyond me. The beds….oh my God! The beds were smaller than the ones I had when I was a little kid. When I layed down, it was barely long enough to cover my knees. Most of my calves, ankles and feet would dangle over the edge. There was no room in the bathroom to put your toiletries. I pretty much had to keep everything in my little corner in my bags. There was a fridge, but it too was very small. It beats sleeping in your car and beats having to be up even earlier to catch a train into the city….but wow, small.

We opted to get some food, as DJ was still out and about. By the time we were done and relaxed for a bit, DJ came back. Dave, DJ and I decided to hit a few night spots up. I needed Amanda Seyfried, Jim Parsons and Mark Linn Baker from Perfect Strangers fame. Seyfried was first. We waited a bit and then a stage hand came out and said there was an after party. Dave really wanted Parsons, so I went with Dave to make sure he got to Parsons, as he wouldnt go without 1 of us. DJ stayed behind to try and wait it out for Seyfried. She came out about 10 minutes after we left. Dave and I had just arrived at Parsons. Sucks, but I’ll take another shot at her. We were first to arrive at Parsons. I had nothing for him, but Dave had an 8×10. The next person that joined us was a nice guy. We got to talking and I gave him a tale of woe and was able to score one of his 8x10s so I had an item for Parsons. DJ even made it to the spot in time, but he was way, way in the back. Parsons came out and was a machine. He signed everything and anything. He just wouldnt do photos. A video op might be the best thing to try if anyone ever goes for him at this spot. If you can get him to look up, you can screen cap it. He would really briefly look up for people, but as soon as the flash went off….he was already gone.

Dave and I ventured to Mark Linn Baker, while DJ headed back to the hotel. The shit part about this spot was that it was the same spot I played that nonsense game the previous summer trying to get Colin Donnell. And once again…..I played it for Mark Linn Baker and I picked the wrong door. Hell, the staff was telling me that the other names were going out the back, but the smaller names like Mark Linn used the front. Well….we never saw him. We saw several small names come out and sign….just not Mark Linn. Another failure for this spot. We called the Uber and we were on the way back to the hotel.

Day 1 was in the books. It was off to bed and ready for what Day 2 would bring us. The week was starting off strong with the main event in coming in 2 days. I was excited, but still beat. My pillow was calling my name and I couldnt wait to answer it.

Day 2 got started early for Dave and DJ. I decided to sleep in and skip the first spot. The names to get were very minor wants. It ended up being a blessing, as this spot unlike last year, turned into a nightmare. DJ ended up getting a few names, but opted to leave Dave there and head out on his own for a bit. I went to the spot to grab Dave and take him to another spot. As we arrived, DJ was leaving this spot and headed elsewhere again. Like 2 ships passing in the night.

This spot didnt yield much, but we were hoping it would bring some wants. Sadly, I never saw any of the Agents Of Shield…which is what I was looking for. Instead I was able to secure photos with Justin Chambers from Grey’s Anatomy, Liza Weil from Scandal and Bellamy Young from Scandal. We didnt spend much time here and opted to bail as the results were slow and nothing good seem to be coming.

We took the subway back to our hotel, where we met Monica for lunch. We ate at the hotel before getting info. on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 set. Still had a few things for Stephen Amell who is casted as Casey Jones and would love a picture with Megan Fox. It was a long subway ride out, but Dave, Monica and myself headed out. We found the set location fairly quickly and got to watch some of the filming. It was a VERY cool experience. I quite enjoyed seeing the actors roaming about and running the same scene over and over.

DJ called and decided to head over to us to check out the filming. I gave him the spot location and he took the subway over. We thought we had spotted Stephen, but it turned out to be his stunt double. Since we werent close enough to him, I was only seeing it from a distance. Not 100% sure, Monica ended up just walking across the set to get confirmation. She came walking back a minute later and it was a negative. Hmmm…..

We talked to one of the set workers who gave us an estimated time for wrapping. Turned out his info. was damn good. We spotted Stephen walking down the street just a few minutes before he said. A dealer was chasing him, as we werent prepared and had to get our stuff out. Stephen turned the corner and we were in pursuit. As we were behind Stephen, we spot DJ walking towards Stephen. All of the sudden it dawned on him that Stephen Amell was walking towards him. He ran up to him and got a selfie. Stephen got into his trailer and we waited outside. One of the set workers told us Stephen wasnt feeling well, so there was a good chance he wouldnt stop. Clearly, he did not know who he was talking too. LOL!

The set worker was cool though. He actually engaged with us in conversation about the movie, Casey Jones and celebrities in general. He talked about his disdain for the dealers and the paparazzi. Stephen came out of his trailer a few minutes later and was happy to take care of us. I got 3 more items signed, along with another photo. How many photos and autos could I get with Stephen Amell in a week’s time? After he was done signing, he turned to me and said to enjoy the events this week and he would see me tomorrow. HA! He knows me too well.

Once Stephen left, we spotted Will Arnett who plays Vernon taking off. We raced over. He said he was in a hurry and would not stop for a photo, but if we wanted we could take one while we walked. So I snapped the best motion selfie I could. Not too bad for what it was.

Megan Fox was next. There was only 6 of us at this point and only 1 dealer. Megan said she would take care of us after she got changed. We waited. Sadly, 6 turned into 12 with 6 dealers showing up. The size now doubled but wasnt too bad. Dealers were armed with tons of 8x10s. I began to worry.

We then spotted all 4 Turtles walking down the street in gimmick. Could we have scored an in gimmick group shot? Possibly. They were having a conversation. Next time, as the dealers took off running. We turned around to see Megan Fox pulling away. Evidently they snuck her out a back door and she was gone. The dealers pounded on the window, but nothing. DJ flipped out. I honestly think she would have been happy to take care of the 6 of us. But when the crowd doubled and all you could see was dozens of 8x10s rubber banned to cardboard….she aint stupid. She got herself out of there.

The Turtles started coming out of their trailers. First one out was Jeremy Howard, who plays Donatello. He was cool. He refused to sign anything though. He cited that they had gotten into trouble as the studio was finding way too many pieces on ebay. Interesting tidbit. Noel Fisher was next. He plays Michaelangelo. Peter Ploszek was next, Leonardo. He too refused to sign for the same reason. Last was Alan Ritchson aka Raphael aka Aquaman from Smallville. All 4 were very cool. The dealers took off, as all refused to sign. But they were cool. They hung out for a bit to discuss what they could about the movie. They told me Casey Jones will be telling an origin story, there will be more Turtles and a better story. All 4 were very excited about the movie. They had high praise for Stephen and what he brings to the movie.

We did really well here. But it was getting late and we hadnt eaten dinner. Now by late, I mean early evening. However, I would need to get to sleep as early as possible because tomorrow was the main event and tomorrow would require us to be up……AT 1AM!!!!! Thats right….1 fucking AM. So we headed back to the hotel, got some food and got ready for bed. But before sleep, a small problem occurred. I had purchased these new Charmin wipes that are supposed to be flushable. Let me attest to the fact that they are indeed NOT flushable. For all you judgie people out there…..yes, I use baby wipes. I wanna be sure. Toilet paper just doesnt get the job done. Wipes let me know that I have a fresh clean asshole for the day. Judge all you want….but I know my asshole isnt shitty. Anyway, I let my room mates know of the issue and that we will need to alert maintenance in the morning. The lid was closed till morning. Until then….no bathroom.

Day 2 was in the books and 1 am came way to quickly. Dave and I were both sluggish. I got up first and headed for the bathroom to get ready. A day full of excitement and intrigue awaited. My top want for the week Joseph Morgan was what was most important. As I am brushing my teeth, suddenly my stomach alerted me that we were going to need to defecate. We were Guarded on the terror level. I figured I would finish brushing my teeth, grab a room key, head to the lobby and take care of business. Instead, the alert went to SEVERE immediately on the terror level. WTF?! The toilet wasnt working. No way would I make it to the lobby. I took a glance at the shower before having to make a choice. I chose toilet. I sat down and what proceeded to take place was something awful. Something that only Hollywood could dream up. Remember that scene from Van Wilder when Richard had the laxative shake made my Tara Reid’s character and was forced to grab a trash can to sit on since he wasnt going to make it? I made THAT look normal.

When I was done, I didnt know what to do. Now the small problem just became a BIG problem….and a smelly one. The toilet was not filled with shit from the night before backed up because Charmin’s flushables are NOT flushable. Now we have shit from today, if thats what you can even call it and no plunger or anything to resolve the issue ourselves. Well….there was one way to try and resolve it. Could I? Should I? I could reach in there and attempt to pull some wipes out in order to get the toilet to flush. I mustered up the courage and reaches into the abyss. With vomit reaching up the back of my throat, I was able to grab a handful of wipes, dumping them into the trash. I quickly scrubbed my hand and arm with soap. Still not feeling like I had myself clean. Here we go. Moment of truth. Did I make the right play? I push down on the handle and toilet made what I can only describe as a small belch. In turn, the water level began to rise and some of the kids were looking to escape the pool. OH NO!!!! :1distraught: Luckily, no one got out. I put the lid back down and heard a tiny splash. This was SO not good. I got showered and made sure to spend extra time my hand and arm. Just reliving this moment brings about a gagging reflex. I wish I could say this story with the toilet would end……but I cant. More on that later.

I told Dave what happened and grabbed a piece of paper and a Sharpie. I wrote a nice detailed note about the toilet. DO NOT OPEN THE LID!!! Big bold print. Didnt want anyone to faint or vomit uncontrollably. Dave got showered and we got packed to get out of here. I grabbed all my stuff and called for the Uber. DJ was gonna grab a few extra winks of shut eye, as was Monica. We took bets on who would join us first.

We got to the spot and they were just starting to setup. We grabbed the ideal spot from last year feeling like we got here at the right time. After an hour, a few more people joined and within 2 hours, there had to be a dozen people here now. We opted for tshirts and shorts because of the weather report. Sadly, it was no where near these temps and it became freezing cold. Hoodie and jeans would have been more sufficient. DJ finally joined us several hours later and I won the bet. The setup here was different than last year’s and we began to worry we selected poorly. The side we were on last year seemed to be the better spot. But there was no room on the rails for us now.

Spots like this can be a bit chaotic. And as I have stated before, I am not here to make friends. NO…I will not make room on the rail to let you in. YOU should have been here earlier. Dont bitch at me cuz you missed a photo because I wouldnt let you in. Im not a bad guy….not completely. If there is just that person out, I will gladly slide over to let you in. But if there are multiple people hovering on that rail, not till I get mine will I slide over. Sorry, if you think that makes me a dick. Just a tiny rant for those out there that got pissy with me. I’m here for the same reason you are.

Now back to our story. We quickly realized we were on the wrong side, we needed to be on the opposite side. Whats really weird, is they really changed up the barricades this year. Last year they had 1 on each side of the entrance and this year they added 2 more. I think it was a poor decision. Caused more chaos and more people who refused to stay in the barricades. The order of people of who came out first and who came out next is a little fuzzy. It was pretty chaotic. Not to mention that I didnt get everyone either. I do know the first photo op I got was with Willa Holland. Willa was happy to sign and take photos. She even brought her own Sharpie out. There were several people who refused to sign and would only do selfies like Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder and Brandon Routh. Only Routh was a major disappointment, as I had a few pieces for him.

Some of the more memorable encounters were Stephen Amell, of course. He came right to us. I honestly had nothing for him to sign. DJ got his figure signed, which turned out awesome. He looked at me, almost waiting for something. There was this brief awkward moment. I told him I had nothing right at this moment for him, but would restock for the future. He smiled. I said we can always do a selfie since you are here…..so thats what we did. He didnt do much and DJ got the only autograph.

David Ramsay was awesome. DJ and I started chanting “Diggle, Diggle, Diggle” which prompted David to skip a lot of people and come right to us. I got him to sign my Arrow book and got a selfie with him as well. Love Diggle. He rocks. And since the chanting worked, we opted to continue for other bigger wants. For example, Carlos Valdes who plays Cisco on The Flash. A chant for him got him to come over to us. Carlos was awesome. He was happy to sign my Flash 11×14, along with taking a “Canary Photo Op” pose selfie. Must see this episode of The Flash to know what I speak of. Our chanting also got Charles Michael Davis from The Originals to come over. This was a big need for me, as I missed him last year and I needed him on my Originals poster. Charles was happy to sign. Only issue, I asked him to sign off to the side, which he balked at. He wanted to sign over Joseph Morgan’s face. C’mon! Why? I know you think its funny, but its gonna ruin my shit. I asked him to please not do that. He said he wouldnt, but wanted to sign nice and big so his signature was prominent. He then signed over Claire and Joseph….kind of ruining the prime spot I had set aside for Joseph. I got a pic with him and he was a cool guy, just kind of upset me. What more upset me was the news that Joseph Morgan was not here this year. My top want…..not even in NYC. This was about the worst news I could have gotten. Out of all the people to not have in town, the star of The Originals?! :deadd:

In addition to the names I already mentioned, I scored photos with Paul Wesley, Brandon Routh, Brett Dier and Justin Baldoni from Jane The Virgin, Adelaide Kane from Reign, Ian Somerhalder who was by far absolutely mobbed and sent the crowd into a head splitting insane rage. I swear I heard panties LITERALLY dropping to the floor for Ian. I also got photos with Kristin Gutoskie who was Trish from The Originals and will be premiering on a new CW show called Containment. Sadly, I didnt recognize her as Trish and missed on the auto for my poster and Marie Avgeropoulos from The 100. We also chanted for Caity Lotz aka Sara Lance from Arrow. She was awesome. She signed my book and also took a selfie. I had plenty for her. Wished I could have gotten more.

I got Gina Rodriguez from Jane The Virgin, a retake with Brandon Routh and Chris Wood aka Kai from Vampire Diaries. As far as autographs I had gotten; Katie Cassidy in my Arrow book which I missed out on at Wizard World Philly….so that helped, Paul Blackthorne on my Arrow book, Jesse L. Martin aka Detective West from Flash on my 11×14, Tom Cavanaugh aka Reverse Flash on my 11×14, Phoebe Tonkin on my Originals poster and Dominic Purcell aka Heatwave on my Flash 11×14.

The last auto I got at this spot was from Ian Somerhalder. I know I told you he did not sign at this spot and it was true. BUT, he did sign 1 for me. Ian denied everyone’s requests and his handlers would push things away, including a photo op I took with him from Creation last year. But Ian spotted it and told his handlers he NEEDED to sign this because it was a photo of he and I and he paid for it…so he deserves the autograph. VERY COOL moment. Hats off to Ian.

The only person who was bitchy and flat out refused….Kristin Kreuk. And that sucked. I am a big fan of hers and loved her in Smallville and now Beauty and The Beast. She refused to do anything. I have heard horrible things about her too, but cant stop crushing on her. She is so amazing on the eyes.

With this spot coming to a close, we opted to head back to the hotel. Dave and I were completely beat. And this was where the story turns shitty….pardon the pun. I ask DJ about calling maintenance to have them take care of the toilet before he left. He said he did not. Monica was still sleeping and he didnt want maintenance in the room while we are gone. DJ has a phobia with hotel staff being in the room while we are not in the room. Anyway, as I begin to chastise him for leaving this heap of shit in the toilet all damn day and some from the night before…..he tells me there is a bigger issue. He begins to tell the tale of how his morning got started. He went to the bathroom and read my note. Shaking his head in utter contempt….he began to get ready for the day. And then it hit him. Yup. In what can only be described as a parallel life event, DJ’s stomach started grumbling. He knew he wouldnt make it, so he contemplated the shower. He couldnt bring himself to do it and had no choice. Yes sir…..he did indeed sit on the backed up toilet that was filled to capacity. Remember how I said how high the water levels were? Yeah…. :wtfmad:

So now we needed to head back to the room and deal with this. My plan was to catch a quick 30 minute power nap and venture back out. We grabbed some food and got back. When we walked back into the room, the room WREAKED! It must have smelled like Class and Joretsky’s car after their week long, non showering, dumpster diving week in a parked car. No offense guys….but you guys even admitted to how bad the stench was. Anyway…the door was opened to the bathroom, which evidently Monica left open. WHY?!?!?! I called maintenance and the guy came up right away. When he arrived, I explained….in little detail, what had happened. The guy came in with a plunger and said it happens all the time. I dont think he quite knew what he was in for. He came inside, lifted to the toilet lid up and we literally heard him utter….”Oh God.” At which time he left the room and said he would come back. Where was he headed? Perhaps a Hazmat suit was needed. Perhaps, this wasnt a one man operation and backup was needed. Maybe this area would have to be quarantined. When he returned, he came back with some plastic drop cloths and he layed them throughout the bathroom. He did his thing and sure enough the toilet was working in no time. Im sure he went home and burned his clothes that night and I can only imagine how this tale has been told over and over throughout the hotels maintenance horror stories.

With the toilet finally fixed, all of us passed out. No….I mean we went into hibernation. Evidently this week had finally caught up with us and we were wrecked. Class even texted me about the afternoon spot, with which I denied our arrival. No way was any of us getting up to go. A brief discussion was had, but no one wanted to move. We pretty much slept away the entire day. Nothing seemed to motivate us to venture back out and we didnt, at least I didnt. Monica had some other plans, so she left. Dave and DJ decided to go to a night spot for someone….I cant even remember who now. I stayed in the room and pretty much died. We have always talked about not falling asleep when everyone else is awake. Ask Nate what happens when you fall asleep…..balls on a forehead, penis drawings, etc. Well, for the first time…..I fell victim. Evidently, I was out, out too. DJ told me when they came back, they knocked on the door and I didnt answer. They tried knocking a few more times and still nothing. So they came inside and found me passed out. DJ began to doodle a penis and balls on my arm and I still did not wake. They would get ready for bed, giggling like school girls. At some point, I awoke and they were back. They couldnt wait to let me know how I had been had. I was too fucking tired to even go and wash it off and left this painted on penis and ball sack remain for the evening. Good thing there wasnt a fire that caused an evacuation.

The next morning was our last morning in town. We got all our stuff packed up and headed downstairs to check our bags with the hotel and checked out. We hit up our last spot for some more CW names. I got photo ops with Ciara Renee aka Hawkgirl from Legends Of Tomorrow, Wentworth Miller aka Captain Cold, Phoebe Tonkin, Dominic Purcell, some chick from Telelmundo who only took pictures from one side and not the other. Grant Gustin was the biggest name I saw and was able to get him on my Flash 11×14. I really did well on Flash names for the week. And finally I got Daniel Gillies. Daniel was super cool. He signed my Vampire Diaries poster as I already had him on my Originals. He asked why no Originals poster and I explained I already had him on it. He then asked me which show I liked better and I explained it was Originals because Joseph Morgan is the BEST actor on tv. Daniel went back inside for a moment before coming back out and picking up our conversation. I asked him if he had heard about Eyecon’s convention in Atlanta in October and how Joseph was scheduled to be there. Daniel said he had heard about it and was hoping someone from Eyecon would contact him about it, as he believes his schedule is free that weekend. I told him I would love to get a Mikaelson brothers photo and he said it would definitely be a neat idea and he would be up for it. Now its in Eyecon’s court to make it happen. As cool as that would be, I would still rather see Claire Holt aka Rebekah Mikaelson if they could only land one. But all 3 would be even better. Before he left, I got a quick selfie with him and was done.

DJ had gone to another spot to score a name and he did. He returned and him and Dave took off, while I stayed back trying to get a couple of other names. The only thing I got was Chris Wood who came out and I got him on my Vampire Diaries poster. Very nice guy like most have said. But I still cant stand Kai. And thats not the good heat like Joseph Morgan got from his portrayal of Klaus in season 3 of VD….this is the Xpac heat of no one cares…just go away heat. He’s gone and I’m glad. But I do look forward to checking out Containment that Chris Wood will star in.

It was a long walk back to the hotel. I was going to Uber it back, but rates were running 2.5X and wasnt worth it. So I started walking. I figured at some point I could call for the Uber, but by the time rates went down….I was almost back to the hotel. When I returned, DJ got the car and I got the bags. We got the car loaded and hit the road for home. The events that would unfold next were down right frightening to borderline psychotic. Be forewarned…..this is NOT for the weak of heart.

Anyone who has driven in NYC or been in a car in NYC can tell you how bad the traffic can be. Well at 2pm on a Friday near the Lincoln Tunnel, it can be REALLY bad. So we are travelling on 10th Ave. and traffic is bad. At one point, we get cut off by a guy in an SUV who begins to come from the far right to lane and goes 4 lanes across to be in the far left lane eventually. After he cuts us off, his large SUV is blocking the view. DJ is in a rage over what has happened and is flipping the guy off. Eventually he swerves to the left and we finally see signs for our exit for the LT coming up. Only problem is the left lanes are now coned off a good half mile from the exit. Why? I have no idea….but we need to be in that lane. DJ decides to squeeze through the cones to get into the lane. All of the sudden a female NYC police officer walks over in front of DJ’s car and screams for him to get out. She tells him the cones are there so no one comes into the lane. DJ tries to explain that we are from out of town and we need this lane. She screams at him that she doesnt care and wants him out. A slow fit of rage began to brew. It was like DJ was Dr. Banner and someone had made him angry. His eyes began to puff out of his head. A snarl growled and his breath huffed. An angry voice erupted and DJ roared back, as he pulled out of the lane, drove a few feet up and knocked over several cones to return to the lane the NYC police officer asked him to depart. Dave is sweating bullets in the back, as the NYC police officer comes back to the front of DJ’s car with a cone. She places the cone in front of the car and tells DJ he needs to get out and she isnt going to tell him again. DJ snarls back. Traffic begins to move a bit and DJ hits the gas, grazing the police officer and she stumbles back. Dave and I mortified. I begin to wonder how much bail is gonna be set at and whether DJ’s car will be impounded or can I drive it back. DJ whips the car around the cones again and drives back in. Traffic really starts to open up now. The NYC police officer takes off running towards DJ’s car. Another police officer is alerted as we begin to exit for the tunnel. He is standing right next to me, points to DJ’s car and asks if this is the car she wants stopped. DJ hits the gas and we are off and exited. Both police officers can be seen in the rearview giving chase…..but to no avail. We are too far from them for them to catch us on foot and we are right in the middle of HEAVY LT traffic. I am shocked at what has taken place. Dave, I am sure has wet himself in the back. DJ has reached ultimate rage….like Miami during Wrestlemania week….cept worse. Dr. Banner is no more….meet the purple pants wearing green guy.

The ride home was no picnic. It took most of the trip before DJ returned back to his normal self. When we finally got back to my place, all 3 of us were completely wrecked. Never seen so little enthusiasm displayed by the Wolfpack….yet it was here this day. DJ of course wants to do 1 extra day next year, while I am thinking of doing 1 less day. Dont get me wrong, this is my favorite week of the year for marking out….but it destroyed us. That night I got a good night’s sleep and felt a lot better in the morning than I did any day during the week. Home cooking and my bed goes a long way. The week itself started on a high note, it had some lows and ended decently. No Joseph Morgan really put a damper on the week. AND it was crazy that I got about the same number of photo ops as I did the year before, when the year before was half the time of this year. I did get significantly more autographs this year than the year before, but still. I really thought I would return with 150+ photos this year and it just didnt happen. I definitely made a few mistakes and some times I erred on the side of caution in order to secure a bigger want than getting several needs. Oh well. I look forward to next year and doing this all over again. Its like the Christmas of marking out and it lasts for an entire week. So Merry Christmas to my fellow celebrity hunters! I hope Santa brought you everything you asked for. Ho! Ho! Ho!

 

Wizard World Philly – Philadelphia, PA 5/9/15

You say Stephen Amell and I say….tickets bought! Man crush? Most definitely. He’s not just an amazing super hero, but hes an even more amazing human being. Always looking for ways on how to improve the world…thats what he does. So whats not to like, right?

Stephen Amell wasnt the only name added that required my presence to this con. Child hood hero, Sting in full face paint would also be attending….fresh off his Wrestlemania debut. In addition, Katie Cassidy from Arrow and Summer Glau from Arrow were big needs of mine for some Arrow pieces. A solid list of wants and needs made this trip a must, even if Wizard World Philly is one of the more taxing cons. Joining me for this weekend would be my good friend DJKnightRida. We made a last minute decision to turn this trip into a overnight, as I was able to score a few incoming rides into Philly. We made our way to the AP and arrived in a decent amount of time. We sat down and awaited our first guests….Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy. As the the time approached, I saw Stephen’s agent and we said hello. She introduced me to Katie’s agent. The time came and out came Stephen and Katie. Katie opted to pass on any autos or photos. That hurt, as I needed 3 items done. Stephen was kind of enough to do 1 each and I opted to get my Arrow box set signed to avoid having to drag that into a convention. Since it was his birthday, I handed him a birthday card that I had picked out. It was a musical card that had the song “Kung Fu Fighting” playing, as I thought it would be appropriate with his new movie.

Once Stephen was gone, it wouldnt be long for our last name….Sting to arrive. Sting has always been really good to me throughout the years, I expected nothing less this time around and he did not disappoint. Sting spent a good 15 minutes signing for everyone and there were quite a number of people here for him. I got 3 items done, 2 photos and my Sting WCW plate. I got to ask him about his WM match as well. He took a photo with me and was gone. Another fantastic experience with the Stinger!

The night had concluded and we headed to the hotel. Outside the hotel was a Denny’s and we opted to eat there and then to bed for an early morning wake. The service here was HORRENDOUS. The restaurant was not busy, the bathroom smelled like a sewage plant and at one point instead of refilling DJ’s glass….the waitress confiscated it and left him with no drink, as he was still eating. Her tip….$1…total. And that was all DJ. I had no interest in giving her a single dime.

From a miserable dinner experience to the check in from hell, we headed to the hotel. Whats that? You are wondering what the check in from hell is. I shall explain. Our original reservation was booked for a non smoking room with 2 beds. When we arrived, it took 15mins to get checked in as the dude in front of me was freaking out about no vacancies at any of these hotels. I finally got my room key and drove over. When we opened the door and went inside, there was but the 1 bed. WTF?! Ok…no biggie. Everyone makes mistakes. We drive back to the office, as the phone doesnt work in the room and I explain to the guy what happened and he starts to look for the correct room. He tells me that unfortunately there are no vacancies and the reason the phone doesnt work is that the phones were all shut off due to non payment by the hotel. I said thats fine, but I ordered a room with 2 beds, the phone wasnt the end of the world. Clearly not everyone has checked in, as its almost 1am and half the lot is empty. I want the correct room. If you have to screw someone else over….too bad. He agrees to switch me to someone else’s room. He gives me the key and we drive over there. When we arrive, there seems to be some nasty odor in the air. It was almost like that Denny’s bathroom was polluting the air here. We walk up to the door and enter the room. We turn on the light and immediately we are met with pungent smell. There are 2 beds, but this room smells like a carton of cigarettes had just been smoked in here. To add to the horror, there was a bath towel sitting in the middle of the room. Curiosity got the better of me and I ventured forward. As I peered down to this towel, I saw it was soaked in what clearly could be identified as feces. :okIsee: You MUST be kidding me. We ran screaming from the room and got back in the car. I slammed it into reverse, cursing and looking for the closest all night hardware store. I was going to need some shovels and couple of bags of lime stone. We went back to the office, where I needed to take several breaths before entering for a third time.

For the third and sadly, NOT final time, I attempt to get the correct room. My patience have worn and now I am ticked. I throw the key through the night slot and demand to get the right room….right the fuck now. I told the guy what was going on and he promptly finds me another room and hands me a new card. I once again drive over and attempt to open the door. But the key doesnt work. It doesnt light up green or red….it just doesnt light up. So here we go again. Back again to the office and get a new key. Back in the car and back to the door. The door opens and the room wreaks of smoke. :angry14: Cmon!!! Back to the car. Back to the office. Back to the freak out. I go inside freaking again. A minute later a woman comes inside and she is upset as well. She needed a single bed room non smoking and she was given a double where someone smoked. Dont they check these rooms. All the rooms are supposed to be non smoking. Instead of remedying my issue, he gives her my first room key and says this one should be good. Hey buddy…..I’m still here. He tries to tell me there are no more rooms. Thats it. I told him I know that is BS and that hotels always have at least 1 room they dont rent out just in case or for this place….probably a booty call room. He says he needs to check to see if its clean. He runs over and I wait. It takes him 15 minutes to verify the room and he returns. He says the room is all good cept that the desk is partially burnt and there is an abandoned car parked in front of the room. He gives me the key and we drive back over. DJ has been on his phone trying to find us another place to stay, but to no avail. We get to the room and scan the key. The door lights green but it wont open. DJ The door is stuck. I begin to kick the door over and over and over. DJ is able to come over and get the door open and we go inside. No smoke and shit covered towel anywhere. In fact, there is but 1 towel. Not 1 bath, 1 hand and 1 wash….no just 1 bath towel. It has now taken us a little over an hour to get checked in. A little over and hour passed before we could put our bags in a room and sit down. NEVER have I seen anything like this before. Absolutely unreal. We quickly get ready for the morning and turn in. Its not more than 20 mins. after lying down that there is a knock at the door. I assume its the front desk checking in, but its not. I open the door and its 2 black guys. The first guy says he is here to sign in. Huh?! He says again he needs to sign and needs a room. I told him, we were full. He tells me he has a reservation. I explain this isnt the office and he questions me on where the office is. I tell him and he leaves. What is going on here?! At this point, I cant sleep and I keep tossing and turning all night. Eventually I drifted off, but I dont think I got more than 2 hours.

When morning comes, we scurry to get out of this hell hole. As we are pulling out, we notice there are several people in the parking lot just washing their cars. They have buckets of soapy water, sponges and they are washing their cars at 8am. We just want to get far away from this place and check out. Calling the hotel on Monday morning is a priority. This is ridiculous.

With the hotel behind us, we were on our way to the convention center. We get to the garage, park and walk down the street to enter. DJ goes to pick up his VIP pass, but I have to wait for another friend in order to get my vendor pass. DJ heads upstairs and joins the VIP line. I opted to wait with him before my friend texted me to come back down. Once I got my vendor pass, I went upstairs and the VIP line was starting to enter the main floor. I scurried by them and got inside and immediately ran to ticket redemption. DJ was right by me and we redeemed our tickets and I purchased the auto tickets I would need for Katie Cassidy and Summer Glau. Let the convention start!

After hunting down DJ’s Arrow Pop which he paid nearly 3 times its retail value in order to have it then and there, we headed to the first photo op of the day….Carey Elwes. We couldnt start the convention any worse than a 45 minute plus delay. Sting, who was starting 30 mins after Carey, had put a serious dent into his line by the time Carey’s line started to move. DJ warned me of Carey’s weird obsession with being dressed like he just climbed off his hog. And he was right! Dressed in dark shades and a black leather jacket, the man who once uttered “As You Wish” to his love Buttercup…..was now one of THOSE celebs. We finally got through the line and when we came out, as promised…..Celeb Photo Ops stepped their game up and my photo op was ready. By the time the curtain opened and I had turned towards the printers….I could already see a rep standing there waving my photo op in hand. WOW!! Lightning fast. Very happy.

My next stop was Sting. DJ had other things to attend to, as I hit the Sting line. It moved pretty quickly. When I got inside the curtained area, I was very happy to see Sting all painted up. I got my picture and out I went. Again, as I am walking back, the Celeb Photo ops guy is already waving my pic in his hand. These guys were on point this year.

DJ texted me that Amell’s auto line wasnt too bad at the moment. So I hurried over and got in it. The line moved very quickly and I was in front of him in minutes. When we first arrived, his line was enormous. This was a big break not to be in a huge line. I got an 11×17 poster signed, along with my newly acquired and just released statue base for the 2nd Arrow statue. Stephen thanked me for this birthday card and said he thought it was very funny. I collected my stuff and DJ and I headed for the Katie Cassidy line. We opted to split Cassidy. It was a decent sized line, but once it started moving…it moved fairly quickly. As soon as we were done, we grabbed our photo and immediately headed for the Amell VIP photo line. DJ opted to get a stare down pose, while I couldnt come up with anything decent with some props…..just call me Carrot Top…..and just did a regular pose. Out we went and once again, Celeb Photo Ops comes through with our photos ready for us.

As I completed what I expected to be the worst line I would encounter, I opted to head to Summer Glau to see how her line was. I only had 2 autograph lines I needed to hit and 4 photo op lines left. Should be manageable, right? Glau had a huge line. DJ was concerned he might miss out on an auto or photo op, so I opted to help out. Carey Elwes had no line, as he headed to lunch. He was expected back soon, so I waited in line while DJ headed for another photo op. By the time Carey made it back, DJ was done with his photo op. I headed back to Summer Glau to see what her line condition was again….a mess. She was about 5 rows deep, not including the line in front of her table. I figured I had to get this done and was hoping in the hour I had before my next photo op, I could do so. As I was standing in line, I saw someone with a very cool Sting 8×10 that she got signed. She told me its the photo they are handing out at the table. Hmmmmm…..should I? I had never seen this photo….so I opted to speak to a WW volunteer. She was very nice and said she understood and would be happy to help. She told me to leave Summer’s line and get Sting. When I returned, she would move me up towards the front. Awesome. I headed over to ticketing, bought a Sting auto ticket and got in line. Sting’s line moved very quickly, as he was almost done. I got the 8×10 signed in blue paint. The WWE rep asked Sting to sign it in my blue paint and Sting replied how he knew how I was particular in my markers and my colors. He told the WWE rep he has been signing for me for years on years. Very cool moment. We also talked about WM and how I would really like to see Sting/UT. Sting said he was hoping for it, as its the only match he is interested in doing. I found Sting/HHH this year to be very entertaining. It was awesome to see Sting turn back the clock and have his own WM moment. But there was very little excitement leading up to this match and was poorly built. Sting seemed to be in a storyline of trying to come and extinguish the power the Authority had, to defeat the evil. HHH however acted like this was a WWE vs. WCW feud. Both men seemed to be having separate stories, yet were in the same match. As I left the line Sting must have splattered some paint on the promo that I didnt notice till I left the line. This cant be. The photo isnt glossy. It wont come out. I went back to the line and explained to the WWE rep what happened and he was happy to hand me another promo to be signed. I gave him the splattered one, but he told me to just hang onto it. Sting signed another for me and I was gone. I went back to the Summer Glau line, however DJ found me and said we needed to get to Katie Cassidy’s photo line. The line was almost done. I explained this to the volunteer and she told me to go and she would hold me a spot.

I cant quite remember the name of the WW employee/volunteer…..but all I can say is she was a big help to me in navigating this con and making sure I got everything I needed. DJ and I got to Katie’s line and were to the front in minutes. In and out and grabbed our photo op. NOW…..I am back to Summer Glau’s line. I get with the same volunteer and she puts me right at the table. I have to scurry to get my items out. Arrow poster and Arrow book for Summer Glau. She signs the poster and inscribes it Isabel Rochev and then looks at the book. She is also very intrigued and begins to flip through it. She likes the layout and asks if Stephen has seen it. I explained he liked it so much, he signed it twice. :lol: She signs the book and that leaves me with 1 last auto line.

At this point, Stephen Amell’s panel is gonna start. I hurry to the main ball room, which is a bit away from the main floor. When I get inside, they have already started lining up for questions. I immediately find the shortest line and get in it. This panel went right to questions, after a short intro and Stephen marking out on stage because he just came from getting his picture with Sting, which was a very cool story. For anyone who wants to see the full Q and A…..you can check it out here:

http://www.contv.com/detail-movie/CEG10 … AmellBlast

Someone did record it, but the youtube vid has been removed. They were very stern about not recording this because it was airing on ConTV. Seems like ConTV is going to be putting a little damper on these things, as they want you to pay for the site. The above line is a free version….not sure how long it will be up.

Anyway, I, as I am sure Stephen was too, was thankful no one asked for the proverbial free photo op. Most were solid questions, a couple of kids had some humerous moments and me……the questions were cut off…..as I was the next in line to ask. :dead: The moderator said he had time for 1 more question, as they went to the other mic. I stood up and hoped Stephen might intervene and in true super hero fashion…..he did just that. He looked right at me and told the moderator….2 more questions. So I was the last to ask and the dozen or so people behind me were very disappointed. Another awesome moment.

From this awesome moment to a NOT so awesome moment. While the q and a was going on, so was my Hayley Atwell photo that I was splitting with DJ. DJ was hanging back waiting towards the end of the line. The plan was for him to text me and let me know when I needed to head back. Sadly, he texted Nate, who immediately responded and was quite confused….as was DJ. The texts I got were all filled with panic….ones I could never have made it from. So when I got back, it was too late. DJ got the photo without me, as WW wouldnt let him wait any longer. By the time I returned, she must have been done for at least 10 minutes.

The missed photo op sucked, but it wasnt the end of the world. I headed over to Katie Cassidy’s auto line and she was getting ready to do the dual photo ops. This was not good. My last photo op was with Burt Reynolds and it wasnt for a little bit of time. But I needed to get Katie’s auto. Katie was supposed to be done signing autos when she left for her dual, but agreed to return to sign more since her line was quite far from done. I joined DJ in line for the dual op and her agent came walking by. I explained my predictament with my Burt photo op and he gave me his card and said use this. Sweet! After DJ was done with his op, I headed over to Katie’s line. DJ headed to the Burt photo op line. I figured since Burt had such a huge line for autos, his photo op line should be equally as bad.

When I got to Katie’s auto line, I was put right towards the front. I got my stuff ready and awaited her return. Once she came back and the line started to move, I was able to get my 2 items done. I elected to save my Arrow book for Upfronts, as I figured it would be a lot easier to do that than my photo op I wanted done in paint or my SDCC poster, which were the 2 items chose to get done. As soon as I was done, I quickly scurried over to the Burt Reynolds photo op line, but saw DJ coming towards me. He informed me it was too late. :saswhat: Burt was done. I ran towards his booth anyway, but WW staff said I missed him and he was on his way back to his booth. DJ said his line wasnt too bad and it move very quickly. I had missed my 2nd photo op of the day. This time, since there was no split….and the photo wasnt taken, they gave me a refund for my photo. Not the end of the world, but it certainly was a photo op I would have liked to have had.

Our convention had come to an end. It was time to head home. We took one last look around the con, before heading out. We were tired and hungry. When in Philly, you must sample the cheese steak. But if you want a delicious, juicy and meaty cheese steak on a nice fresh baked roll….you goto South Street and you see Jim’s. Pat’s and Geno’s are fucking disgusting. I swear the meat they use tastes like a dried up shoe. Tony Luke’s is also good, but I find it a little different than a traditional cheese steak.

It took us quite some time to even get to Jim’s and THEN parking was a major issue. Nothing was available except a parking lot that charged $22.00. We drove around a bit and finally found some street parking a few blocks away. DJ hotfooted it to Jim’s and brought the food back to eat in the car. Mine was awesome. Meat was tender and juicy. The roll was freshly baked and wasnt all soggy. Jim’s…..do it!

After dinner, we headed back home. Belly’s were full and another convention was in the books. Philly WW is growing. Its no where near NYCC bad, but every year its bringing more and more people. Its getting harder to navigate and harder to get everything you want in a single day. Its starting to become a con you need at least 2 days to do due to the line sizes. Lines I thought wouldnt be as bad…..were bad. If it wasnt for Katie’s agent and the WW volunteer who helped out, I fear I would have missed a lot more than I did. At least I got the most important pieces done. Next year’s Philly WW is moved back to June, which I am quite happy about. Having it days before Upfronts is HORRID! Cant wait to see what they bring in next year.

 

Captain America Chris Evans NYC 4/24/15

Originally I was planning to spend Thursday April 23 in NYC on the hunt for some Avengers names. Unfortunately, due to a major flare up of my plantar fasciitis, I ended up passing on the trip. I was hoping that my feet would feel better, but I didnt want to take a chance of making it even worse with several big events coming up in the month of May. However, while sitting at home in the late evening, I receive a call with a tip of a lifetime. Chris Evans, Captain America, would be doing a meet n greet for FREE in NYC April 24, the next day. Could it be true? Could this be really real? A quick google search indeed produced an advertisement. I sprung into action. I would need to make last minute plans. I called Cancer Free Dave and told him to meet me at 3:30am. I attempted to call the store that was hosting the event, but they have no telephone number. Trust me. Google search, 411, calling a corporate line….nada. It doesnt exist. I would later confirm the non existent phone line.

A tip, 1 google hit and no way to confirm the true legitamacy of this meet n greet and with a big name like Chris Evans. I continued to do some research and while never coming up with a confirmation, there were several signs pointing to the authenticity. Fuck it. Lets go! I packed my bag, very light too. There was really no need to be in full force. This was pretty much going to be my lone spot. My feet were feeling better, but still sore. I didnt want to push it and for minor things I would have shots at later.

Once I hit the sheets, I couldnt fall asleep. Captain America had me stoked. I had met Evans once before, my lone time going for him. I scored an auto on my Cap 2 poster, but no photo op. I have, as I am sure many of you have, heard he can be a bit hard to obtain, to say the least. I was 1 for 1. But this wasnt just a chance to score the photo op that had eluded me….it was, from what I could see a poses professional op….much like what you would find a convention. I never did fall into my deep sleep, more like a brief cap nap. I was up at 2:30, showered, changed and ready to rock. Dave was early, as usual and I was late….the usual 10. But we were on the road now.

The drive up was uneventful, minus Dave telling me had surgery the day before on his foot. :jawdrop: He said when I called him he had just come out and was still under medication. He just knew I said something about Captain America and be at my place at 3:30am….so here he is. We made great time into NYC. Originally, I planned to Uber the ride over and take the subway back. The subway still remains somewhat confusing to me. When I reached the corner of 33rd at Penn Station, I went to summon the Uber. It said rates were 1.5X normal fair and had an option to click to be notified when rates came down. I checked to see the estimated fare would be $22-29. I passed and clicked for the notification. Within a minute, I was notified that rates went down. I punched in the address and tried again…..$35-42. Hmmmmm……Uber seems to misunderstand what it means for rates to come down. Screw it. Lets chance the subway.

I knew I needed to take either a C or E train. I found the subway and saw a sign. A train on left, C/E on right. Sweet. I walked up onto the platform and waited. When I turned around to look at the sign again, it showed the A train on the right and C/E on left. WTF?! On either side of me was only A trains. 2 tracks over on either side was C/E trains. What the hell is going on?! We left the platform after watching several trains come by and walked to the other platform. In seconds an E train pulled up and we were on our way. I think I understand what the issue is. I think the middle platform is for A trains only and the outer platforms are C/E.

We got off at the stop and walked topside. I pulled out my Maps app and punched in the address. It was about 5 blocks away from the subway stop. I turned the corner to the street of the spot and closed my eyes for a brief second. I was 4 hours early for the meet n greet. How many people would be waiting? 50, 100, 200, 500?! I was guessing I would be between 50 and 100 back. I took a breath, opened my eyes and…..3. :praise: There were 3 people in line, including Raza. Not 50. Not 100. Not 500. No….3 people. I knew this was pretty low key info, but really?!

After about 30 minutes of waiting, this guy walks up and starts asking us questions about how long we have been waiting here, how excited we were, where we came from, how we found out about this signing? Everytime you are at a spot….there are always these people. Most people ignore them, I usually engage with them providing them with off the wall answers. Then I noticed this guy was wearing the businesses lanyard and badge. He worked for them. I asked him about the phone number and he explained that they indeed have no phone there. The store is supposed to be closed as they are building a new one, but they are behind on construction. He told us the event was by invite only, but we were ok, if we were not invited though. They keep these low key. No advertising. He found out that morning he needed to be here for the PR team to cover the event. He also these events usually draw about 200-300 people. He assured us its really smooth and we will have no issue getting through. Now we just had to survive the 4 hour wait.

While waiting, Raza introduced me to his friend. We chatted a bit until she tells me that Donnie Wahlberg just walked by walking his dog. Really?! No way. I have my Wahlberg 8×10 with me. We immediately dash out of line and take off running. MY FEET!!!! Fuck it….Wahlberg and he has a dog, how far can he possibly get? 8 blocks later….we had our answer. I couldnt believe this guy. Im praying this dog needs to take a dump and yet it never seems to even have to piss. We finally catch up to him in an intersection he had to wait to cross. He turns his head and…………..ITS NOT HIM!!!! Its not Donnie Wahlberg. From behind….it looks like him. The dog is almost an exact match for Wahlberg’s dog. But this man was NOT Donnie. Aw man. We needed to turn around and yet we werent 100% sure where we were anymore. My new friend decided to catch a cab. She sees one with a light pull up. It has people in it. I told her, but she explains the light means its available. She grabs the door and opens it up. No one is moving. Im pretty sure this cab aint available. We end up running away.

Eventually we found our way back to the line. The long wait would continue. The PR rep. kept coming out and we would ask him questions about the meet n greet. Do we get autos? Is the pic on our camera, do they have their own photographer, etc? He really didnt know. He said it varies, event by event, but he would try and find out for us. He never did. He tried. I applaud him for that, but he was completely left in the dark on it.

Evans arrived a tad early and pulled up right at the door. He waved and went inside. We were then let in and they had the Avengers backdrop up, a stool in front for Chris and ropes sectioned off for the line. It was but another 15 minutes before it began. We had monitored the line throughout our wait. It just never really got big. We were shocked. At 11am, there was probably but 50 people in line. And by the time it started, it might have hit 70. Chris came out and grabbed the stool and got it out of there. All the other pics I have seen from previous photo sessions the celebrity sits in the stool. Not this time. Standing photo ops. Sadly there was a pro photographer there, but the pic we would have emailed to us was coming off a cell phone. :smh: The pro photographer was there to cover the event and provide images for the store to use. I again asked about the autograph and was told they were not sure, followed by no…definitely not. Some of the other people running the event came over to us and told everyone to put their stuff away as he was not signing anything. I put my 8×10 away, as the photo was most important anyway. It was now my turn and I walked up and posed. They took my photo on the cell phone and then the pro photographer took 2 on his camera. I was done. They said the photo should be emailed immediately, however they had some internet issue and couldnt do it. I wasnt leaving till I had my photo. I sat down on a couch and proceeded to wait. While I was waiting, I saw the line had grown and then I saw why. People were looping. Raza told me that people were getting stuff signed when they were going up and Chris was signing it. Then they got back in line and did it again. I attempted to jump back in line, but it was cut off and was denied.

Evans was getting ready to wrap up. Some of us thought he might walk over a few steps to sign for the people waiting, but he didnt. The PR rep said they were taking him out the back door and not through the front, like he had entered. The store emptied out and everyone went to the front door to wait for Chris to exit. Dave and I headed to go around back to discover there was NO back door. What we did find was his Chris’ SUV. We waited at the corner and then the SUV drove to the front door. Like a runaway freight train, I charged towards the crowd. I pushed, moved, slid, bulled my way to the front. I now had a prime position for Chris. It took about 30 minutes , but he exited. He immediately grabbed a sharpie and started signing. He signed 4 pieces before me and then signed my 8×10. He immediately took off and hopped in his SUV and was gone. I got the last auto and the crowd dispersed. :hellyeah:

I went back inside, where Raza was talking to management. They agreed to email our photos right away now that the internet was working and we punched our email address into the phone that had the pics. Dave and I needed to use the restroom, so we walked to the closest one while we waited. When we got to the bathroom, Dave’s phone rang and he got his. My tablet went off and I got….SPAM. WTF?! No photo for me. I gave it a few more minutes and nothing. We walked back to the store and I went inside. I explained how far I traveled and said there has to be something they can do. They agreed to send it again, but it could take an hour. I understand that it might take a little longer, but an hour? No way. We sat down again to wait. Nothing. Raza texted me, he got his too. I went back up. I asked that they try a different email address. They agreed. Nada. They asked me what kind of device I had and I showed them I had a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and they said they could just S beam it for me. In seconds I had my image and it looked amazing! Wow….a cell phone produced this great photo? I was stoked. Dave said his image wasnt all that great. Our images are definitely different. His has Evans sign super imposed at the bottom and has a frame around it with the Avengers logo. Mine is just the image. His dimensions are very small. No way he can print an 8×10. My dimensions are like 32×45. I could print a full size poster.

It was done. I now had possession of my awesome photo and a signed 8×10. What more could I ask for? Since I had some prints ordered, I ventured over to Adoramapix to pick them up before heading home. By the time we left Adoramapix, which by the way was selling brand new Cannon photo printers for $10 and I picked one up for emergencies, my feet were killing me. Instead of walking back to the subway, I summoned the Uber and paid $12 to get back to Penn Station.

Tired and sore, we got on our train back to NJ to make the long trip back. Honestly, I was riding so high…..time passed so quickly. Yes, I was tired. Yes, I was hurting. Yes, I was popping pain killers……but I had slayed the dragon. I had a fantastic photo with Chris Evans….Captain America. I felt like I was gonna pay for this the next day, but it was gonna be well worth it. Turns out….my feet didnt feel any worse. In fact, as I sit here and type up this adventure…..my feet feel a hell of a lot better. Perhaps, instead of resting them , they needed to put some work in to make them feel better. May is coming. Big things ahead. I cant wait. Until next time America! :victory:

 

NXT Cleveland and Columbus, OH 3/6/15-3/9/15

The future is now. Seeing it live, only reinforced that feeling. Professional wrestling, for me, has been extremely stale. Over the past several years, I have never felt so sullied by this business. Never have I felt so disinterested. Yes, its had some moments. Even as recent as a year ago, we saw The Shield really step up and start stealing the show. We had the rise of Daniel Bryan. WWE looked to be picking up steam. But it only seemed to be short lived. Daniel Bryan got injured and was forced to relinquish the title. The main event scene reintroduced us to John Cena/Randy Orton….two of the most boring and stale characters in wrestling. Yes, we still had some moments…..but they were few and far between. And even that, especially in the case of Roman Reigns, would soon be tarnished by WWE trying to turn him into another Cena. Obnoxious childish jokes mixed in to an unbeatable force spells disaster. And Reigns and WWE paid for it at the Royal Rumble. Yes, they are trying to right that ship…..but still.

Anyway, enough with the mini rant. This story instead starts a couple of months ago. NXT announced they were coming to Ohio for an event plus an NXT Axxess at the Arnold Classic. NXT, was the only show in North America, that top to bottom kept my love for pro wrestling still alive. With them coming to Ohio, this was a no brainer that it was a must attend. When tickets went on sale, I made sure I was right there….ready to place my order. I got on ticketmaster and did my search. My initial search came back with 2nd row. Unhappy with my row selection and uninformed at the true popularity to NXT, I let them go. I tried again. Unfortunately, I pulled 2nd row again. But this time the seats were much further away. I figured I better not release these and go with the 2nd row seats. I went to checkout and Ticketmaster froze on me. I had to reload and when I returned, my tickets were gone. Ticketmaster hosed me! I searched again and found 4th row. Now I was pissed. I searched again…..5th row. The tickets were going and going quickly. Since, I didnt have a VIP seat anymore, I released them and kept searching. Eventually I searched my way to a sold out show. No tickets for me. I figured I would take my chances with ebay and Stubhub. Once again, I underestimated the drawing power of NXT and the very few seats I would find…..were all priced $700 to $1500. This show was selling higher than Mania tickets!

With the success of Columbus, WWE added a 2nd show to Cleveland. I would not underestimate NXT this time. I was determined to get them. I was locked and loaded and at 10am on the dot, I was searching for tickets. I loaded up Price Level 1 and was immediately met with the news that there were not tickets in that section. Then level 2 and got the same wrath. Keep in mind, this building only holds 1800 people. For shits, I tried GA and 2 tickets went to my cart. So the site was working, it just sold out of tickets minus GA. Evidently ticket web could give you real time updates on how many tickets remained for sections, as it allowed me to choose up to 10 tickets the first time I searched and only 6 the 2nd time I searched for GA. I decided to keep hitting refresh a few times. Of course the website crashed a few times. At 10:16am, I hit the refresh button one last time for a miracle. And then it happened…..

You’re probably thinking that one of the other price levels showed available, but it did not. EVEN BETTER! I caught out of the corner of my eye that there were now 4 tickets in my cart. I assumed this was just the GA tickets I searched for, but I clicked anyway on my cart. When the cart loaded, there were 2 GA tickets and 2 PRICE LEVEL 1 TICKETS!!!!!!! I promptly checked out and the tickets were emailed to me. I was now going to NXT. Ok…me and Cancer Free Dave were going to NXT!!!

The week leading up to the trip was met with tons of personal life drama. I was distracted and off my game. My work suffered and I needed to get away. NXT would now not only serve as a chance to see a revolution of pro wrestling, but a chance to take fresh breath of air….escaping the drama, even if it would only be for a few days. The plan was to leave early Thursday morning to catch the NXT flights. But mother nature was less than cooperative. Cancer Free Dave couldnt get into PA, as the snow and ice wreaked havoc on the roads. We were stuck. Unable to get to Columbus, the trip I needed so badly would be delayed a day.

Losing a day and the opportunity to clean up at the AP….we finally hit the road early Friday morning. NXT Axxess should provide a great opportunity, but it was clearly advertised that NO PHOTOs would be allowed at the event. I felt they were just saying it and it wouldnt be enforced, but you never know. Once we were on the road, the GPS told us we had just under a 6 hour drive to Cleveland. Instead of taking us across the turnpike, it directed us north west to State College. We literally drove right by the Bryce Jordan Center. Cant see how this was quicker, but the time was good and there was no tolls.

Once we reached State College, GPS started to take us in a weird direction. We were driving through town of all places. How this could be on the way to Cleveland was making little to no sense. It wasnt until the GPS instructed us to turn onto a bike path that we realized something, in fact, was desperately wrong. Looking at the GPS instruction, it now said we would be in Cleveland in 18hours. :yikes1: I looked over the turn by turn and discovered we were now coded as a bicycle and it was having us take a bike path over some mountain into Ohio. Using Dave’s phone, we punched in the address and tried to get ourselves back on course.

We got turned around and proceeded to Cleveland. That would only be the first of many GPS foul ups for this trip. One thing I wanted to do was to call the hotel to let them know we wouldnt be checking in till the wee hours of the morning, to ensure they didnt sell our hotel room. Almost all the rooms in Columbus were sold out. Didnt want to take a chance. When I tried calling, I got a weird message saying my call could not be connected because it was outside my calling area. I tried Dave’s phone and got the same message. I tried the 800 number and was connected to a voice mail. I left a message and asked for a return call to confirm. We made it into Ohio and were approaching our destination. We seemed to have made ok time, all things considering and we were WAY early for the 6:30pm doors, as it was 10:30am. We definitely wanted to be early, as it was general admission sort of and we wanted to ensure ourselves getting front row seats. But as we took the turn towards what was supposed to be the theater, it didnt look right. I looked at this place on google maps and this looked nothing like it. Google Maps showed the Agora Theater being in urban Cleveland. I was now in the suburbs. When we turned onto the last street and the GPS said we had arrived, we were at some dude’s house in suburban Cleveland.:bs: I dont understand. What is going on?!?! I quickly grabbed my phone and using the same app as Dave’s phone, it instructed us into the city which was still another 25mins away. Strike 2 on the GPS. And strike 2 on the hotel. I once again called to see what was going on and met the same fate.

Once we finally found the theater, we decided to scope the place out….and also find a restroom. 7hrs in the car and a 2 Egg McMuffins later…..nature was calling….LOUDLY. We parked in the back of the theater and went inside. We found a little restaurant inside and hit the restroom. Once we were done, we noticed that the restaurant had several tables reserved. Perhaps this was for NXT? Not sure. We decided to sit down and see what might transpire. We had plenty of time….it was only noon. We would soon discover that the guy at the table next to us was also here for NXT and had the same plans to wait it out to get a front row seat. We then saw 4 more people show up. We partnered up with the 1 solo guy and found out where the line was starting and headed outside. This gave us plenty of opportunity to watch the restaurant just in case.

The weather was FREEZING outside. How we were gonna make it the next 6 hours, I just dont know. We would venture in and out of the restaurant in order to warm up before finally deciding to step into the vestibule of the theater. There was only 3 of us and we could just try and remain out of sight. Sadly, it didnt last long as 6 more people came inside and decided they wanted to get out of the cold as well. This caught the eye of security and got us ejected out of the theater and back outside.

The cold was unbearable. We tried to keep entertained through all the shivering and teeth chattering. I tried a third time for the hotel and again, same thing. I asked our new friend if I could borrow his phone, since he said he was from Columbus and got the same message. I jokingly said Dave, maybe the hotel closed up shop over night and was gone. And then the realization of saying it out loud started to haunt me. I googled and in fact there was 1 article concerning the hotel going out of business mysteriously 5 days ago. Evidently they were open and the next day, people found chains and pad locks on the doors. They just went out of business. :1distraught:

A moment of panic overcame me before I got my wits about me and went inside to sit down and find another hotel. Of course almost all of Columbus was sold out and the only remaining rooms were $800 or more a night. This was really gonna put a damper on the weekend. I found one hotel that was about 6 miles from the convention center for$200 a night. I went to book it, but the total it showed was almost $550!!! How can this be?! The taxes and fees are that much?! No way. So I had no choice but to book a motel 6 that was 25 miles away from the convention center. What was worse, it was south of the convention center in Columbus, which meant that we would now add another 30 minutes to our trip after NXT.

Back to the cold I went. A lot of the people worried that the venue would find a way to screw us out of being let in first. And they were right. When the time finally came to let us in, there was mass confusion as in the same venue there was this lame wannabee juggalo concert. When will call opened, people were going in and getting the tickets and then being let inside to head to the seats while those who were waiting were forced to remain outside. To make a long story short, once we were inside, we went from first in line to about 15th in line. People were outrage and deservingly so. After being 15 back, they then let about 8 handicapped kids through AND their entire parties. If I didnt get a front row seat, I was gonna flip.

Well, it didnt come to that. Once we were inside, we were able to grab a front row seat. We didnt get the ones we wanted, but still….got a good seat. The show was great. Not one single bad match on the card. Saw some shocking finishes, as I didnt expect Corbin and Balor to lose and they did. I was stoked at the idea of Balor and Cesaro. I said before the show that if I can get one match on this card, thats what I wanted to see. We got it. And Cesaro put on a clinic, while Balor valiantly fought back before he was cheated out of the victory.

When the show was over, we headed outside and to the stage door to wait for the stars to come out. There were others who had the same idea…..almost 20 by the time it was all said and done. The parking lot itself was a solid sheet of ice, perfect for ice skating. They did setup barricades around the bus that was transporting them. WWE security saw how many people were there and decided to come out and build this contraption to hang a curtain to keep us from seeing them and them from seeing us. This chased over half the crowd away including Dave. Me? I refused to accept defeat….not till all hope was lost. The curtain remained up all of 10 seconds, as the wind blew it down and it struck a handicap kid. They pulled it down and turned to us and said….you guys win.

What we won was about another hours wait till they finally started to come out. Corey Graves was first and he was super cool. Glad to pose and sign. He thanked everyone for coming out. We even chatted about PA, as he is from Pittsburgh. I wished I had my NXT program with me, as it was still in the car. Barron Corbin was next. He looks like a dick, but that couldnt be further from the truth. He was super cool. He posed for a photo and then said he thought he walked away too soon and asked that we retake it to ensure it turned out right. Class act right there. Big Cass and Enzo were next. Most NXT fans love these guys. Me? I fucking cant stand them. I HATE this Jersey shore gimmick. Robbie E does it and its a joke. At times, I even find myself chuckling. Enzo and Cass aint joking. This gimmick is a serious to them and I DESPISE it and Enzo is terrible in the ring. He is gifted as hell on the mic., but cant work. In fact, after this weekend….I now hate this gimmick even more. Its soft. S-O-F-T. :smh: And you cant teach THAT! :yawn1:

Nonetheless, both guys were very cool to stop. Carmella was out next. She was also happy to stop. Aiden English and Simon Gotch were next. I got a pic. with Gotch, but missed English as Gotch was going off about how I had a Finn Balor hat, but no Vaudvellians shirt. This would not be the last time Gotch would go off on me.

Next out was Charlotte. As she was coming over to me, she started to slip and came tumbling into me. I caught her and got her upright. She apologized for crashing into me and I thanked her for it. Secretly, I wished it was Alexa Bliss….but hey. She was super nice and took care of everyone. It was starting to get late and we still hadnt seen Balor. Adrian Neville was next. He too stopped and was happy to do so. Kevin Owens was next. He waved, but refused to stop. I THINK he was playing the gimmick up more so than being a jerk. I’ve met him before and he is usually really chill. But who knows. Sami Zayn was next and he stopped as well. Hideo came out next, but he didnt stop. Im not sure he understood what I was saying. He walked over, smiled and waved. When I asked him for a photo, his eyebrows went up in a questioning manner and he got on the bus. Strange. The last person out was Finn Balor. He came right over to me hit me with the Too Sweet. I asked for a photo, but he said the bus was leaving and asked me if I would be at the Arnold tomorrow, which I said yes. He promised to get me there.

Definitely missed a few people. They either got on the bus and were unrecognizable or were travelling via car like Regal and Bloom did. Definitely missed Alexa Bliss, Blake and Murphy, Rhino, Kidd and Cesaro. Still got a great haul. Skated to the car and was ready to take the now almost 3hour drive to just outside of Columbus.

I honestly wish I could say this trip was uneventful, sadly….it wasnt. It was nearly midnight by the time we left. Estimated arrival time had us right around 2:15am. We hit the road and about an hour into the trip, our 3rd strike with the GPS would occur. This time the GPS didnt lead us astray, but instead it seemed to just add an additional hour to the trip. Was this the bad? Once again…I wish. No. Instead, what went terribly wrong was about 2 hours into the trip, I had dozed off and Dave’s glasses broken. The lens popped out and the tiny screw fell out. Dave couldnt find it and woke me up as he his blind as a bat without them. I was completely out of it. We had no tape anywhere, so there was really nothing we could do to fix his glasses even temporarily. He had no backup pair or contacts with him either. I couldnt even hold my eyes open, so I was no help to drive. Like a pirate with a patch, Dave pushed on using his one and only good eye to get us to the hotel. A struggle would put it mildly. I had to help navigate while Dave attempted to drive. Safety was not the priority.

We finally made it to the hotel and was able to secure some duct tape for a temp fix for Dave. We got inside, quickly unpacked and passed out…..for a mere 2 hours, as we needed to be up and out the door. In the past 48 hours, I had gotten a grand total of 3 hours of sleep, not including my nap in the car. We grabbed our stuff and went out the door. We set the course for the Columbus Convention Center and we were on our way. But the GPS would wreak havoc again for strike 4. We passed signs for the Arnold Expo parking and continued down the road another 10 minutes. We got off the exit and arrived at a nursing home. We backtracked and got off the exit for the Arnold parking and found a lot right next to the Convention center. We parked and headed inside.

Once inside, the place was freaking packed. NXT was in Hall C, so we headed down to the other end of the building. 2 hours before doors were to open the line had to be damn near a 1000 deep. It was going up the stairs and down the hall, after it already snaked around several corners. No way was I gonna wait in this mob scene. I found an unsuspecting person that seemed to be hanging out by himself and went over to talk to him. I made it perfectly clear what our intentions were and what role I needed him to play. He complied and had no issue….and neither did the rest of the line. Instead of being over a 1000 deep….we were in the first 200. One problem solved. The next issue was it was getting REALLY warm inside. I had packed fairly light, but not light enough to stuff my jacket in my bag. We opted to load all our stuff into Dave’s bag, while my bag had my jacket, camera, markers and worn Devitt trunks.

At 9am, they finally let us in. NXT was to our immediate right. We found where the tables were setup and got into line. Not too bad. Only about 50 people back. We would later discover that this hall was very popular because many people who attend come to meet the body builders and this is the hall they would do the autographing at as well. A WWE staff member came out and said this was the Finn Balor line that we were in and that Kevin Owens line was on the other side. If anyone wants Kevin Owens, they need to head over there. Not a single soul walked over. Everyone refused to leave. Is Balor really that much over, especially against Owens?

The advertisement stated that you would receive 1 autograph and no photos. Going through the first line, this was STRICTLY enforced. A few people attempted to get photos and were quickly shunned away and told no photos. They even had security walk up and down the lines saying it over and over. The signing started about 15 minutes late, but moved fairly decently. They were handing out NXT posters 16 X 20 in size. Way better than those mats they usually have. Dylan Miley, who somewhat resembles Andre The Giant, was also at Balor’s table. I got him on the poster and then got to Balor. I got him to sign his ring worn trunks for me. I asked him if this was a good time for the photo or should I wait. He said, it was a perfect time. He stood up and I walked around the table. WWE’s rep. went crazy, but Balor told her it was cool. She argued, but he took the photo anyway. She then made it a point to once again tell people that there was no photos allowed. I thanked Finn and handed him a tshirt I had made taking his face logo from his current WWE shirt and adding my Balor Club logo to it and it also happened to be the shirt I was wearing. He thanked me for the shirt, but said to be careful WWE is always hunting down people who are bootlegging merchandise and they are relentless. I shall heed your advice good sir.

Once we were done with Balor, we headed for Kevin Owens line. We saw a ridiculous size line formed and went to join in. We were stopped by WWE, asking if we were looking for Kevin Owens. They pointed to us, saying we could go right up. Owens and Carmella had no line. Balor’s line was a 100 deep. This is weird. I got Owens and Carmella on my new NXT poster. Owens commented about my shirt saying shirts like this take money out wrestler’s pockets. :smh: I get it. But I’m a fan and I want to support Finn. I OWN Finn’s WWE shirt. In fact, I own several Prince Devitt shirts. I bought 4 from Suplex Wrestling from England that had a deal with him before his WWE days and paid $60 for each to have them shipped to the states. He wasnt a jerk about it….but it just kind of seemed like he was a tiny bit irked. In fact, this would not be the last time this shirt would raise issue.

Once we were done with them, we rejoined the Balor line since there wasnt that many people in it. Turns out, most of the people waiting out the doors to get in were doing so for the body builders and free supplements and not NXT. We blew through the Balor line and got to the front pretty quickly. Dave helped out and got 1 done for me and I got another. That now put my Balor count to 3 autos and 1 photo.

Once we were done with Balor, we repacked our bags and I took notice that my silver paint marker must have somehow leaked at some point, as I had silver all on my hands and my NXT poster had smudges of silver on it as well. I opted to pitch the poster, as it had just 3 signatures on it and would just start it over. Once we got regrouped, we headed to the bathroom for me to washup and then ventured to the other side of the building to see what the Hogan line looked like. When we got there, which took forever to navigate the sea of people, it was nothing but a total cluster fuck. There was a line going down the right side of the table, left side, in front and around back. They made an announcement about purchasing a $100 box of candy bars that Hogan was promoting and you would be guaranteed to meet Hogan. After seeing how many people were here, we ended up bailing. Just want worth the wait and risk that we wouldnt actually get him. Not to mention, I had no need for the man.

We pushed our way back to NXT to catch the next session with Hideo and Braun Stowman/Enzo and Colin Cassidy. Got both Hideo and Braun on my NXT poster and got a pic with Hideo. We walked over to the Enzo line and once again, this side was bare. Went right up and got Enzo and Colin and for the 2nd time, I got hammered by someone concerning my shirt. Enzo gave me grief about it. Really?!

Our next stop was the EAS booth, where NFL players Demarco Murray aka Spray Tan, Larry Fitzgerald and Eric Ebron were appearing. Sadly, Demarco left early and Ebron was a no show. It left just Fitzgerald. The line for Larry wasnt bad. Moved pretty quickly too. He was up on stage signing EAS 8x10s. When I got up there, I was able to get a photo op. The EAS lady said she didnt like how the first one came out and took a 2nd. Very nice that she was checking photos to ensure they turned out well. I got a signed 8×10 and was off. Fitz was very cool to meet and a humble guy. Yes, he signed outside merch for free as well, but I brought nothing. EAS also gave you a swag bag at the end, which was nice. I reviewed my photos with Fitz and both turned out perfectly fine. After posting to facebook, Larry Fitzgerald actually commented on my photo and liked it. THAT was pretty cool. And it was during this time that I found out Jon “Bones” Jones was indeed signing and taking photos. One of the guys in line had an autographed photo from him, but couldnt remember where he was. A quick google search of the supplement company produced a hit and now I knew where Bones was. So that would be our next stop.

After EAS, we REALLY had to fight the crowd to get back to the NXT area. We encountered Arnold and his entourage, which made safe passage almost unreachable. But when we finally got back to NXT, we had some time before the next session was going to start and I wanted Bones bad. Luckily, Bones was in the same section, so we went over and got into line. Unfortunately, Bones was at lunch and wouldnt be returning for another 20 minutes. The line was long, one of the longest lines inside the Arnold that we would wait in. Since Kaityln’s table was across from Bones’ line, Dave and I went over 1 at a time to get Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn was cool. She remembered me from my picture with DJ from the Poconos casino appearance and our tshirts. She even asked where DJ was. I of course sold him down the river, explaining DJ is more into Alicia Fox and Kaitlyn just wasnt his style. 1 auto and 1 photo and I was back to Bones line.

Bones finally arrived and line started moving fairly quickly. He even came back about 10 minutes early, which worked well cuz the NXT session was going to start. While waiting in the Bones line, we also missed Balor vs. Owens. It sucked we missed the match, but we would never have been able to get up close anyway due to the crowd size. As we approached the front of the line, they were announcing that Bones would sign 2 each and do 1 photo. WOW! Now I really wished I had stuff with me for him. Damn. The photo was most important to me anyway, so I was happy with that. When it was my turn, Bones was super cool. He actually stood and had a conversation with me and they never tried to rush us. Very relaxed situation. I told him he was my favorite fighter currently and my favorite fight of his was him vs. the purse snatcher. His eyes popped and he smiled. He told me that was his favorite fight too and that it was the best day of his life. He went on to talk about how the feeling he had when he caught this dude was surreal and that when he fights in the Octagon, its a lot different. Very cool moment. He signed one of his promos for me and I got my photo op, which I was very happy about.

Dave and I rushed back to NXT to join the line. This session included The Vaudvelians, Sasha Banks and Kalisto. The line was one of the smallest of all the sessions and now they got rid of the 2 different lines and had all the stars at the same station. We were about 10 people back when we got into line and session wasnt even half over. First up was Gotch and English and here came the biggest incident with the shirt that I have touched on already. So Gotch is seated first and sees my shirt and starts going off about bootlegging. He says what I have done is illegal and that he is going to report me to Vince and Vince will have me in jail. I laughed it off, thinking he was heeling. Instead, he tells me not to laugh, that my crime is not funny. So I explain to him that I am a fan, etc, etc. He starts to lecture me and then goes on about how his first call after he is done here will be to Vince and Vince is gonna get me, etc. Now I’m annoyed and the idea of respect for these guys is out the door. So I ask him, who the hell is Vince? He tells me MISTER McMahon. I laugh at him. I explain that Vince has no clue who Simon Gotch is. If someone mentioned the name Simon Gotch to Vince, he would think it was some new STD. :distraught: Sorry pal…nice try. I moved onto Aiden, annoyed as shit now. Gotch took it too far. Aiden signed and then I got to Sasha. I think Sasha could tell how annoyed I was. She told me she loved the shirt and asked if I would make a shirt for her. She said I did nice work and she would be proud to wear one I made. Now THATS class. She didnt have to say anything, let alone go the extra mile. This shirt was never intended to upset anyone. I wore because I am a huge Balor fan and I like that logo WWE was using. I combined it with my Balor Club logo and bam….I had a shirt that I liked a lot. And yes, I own the WWEshop version as well…..of course I do. And the last person at the table was Kalisto, who I also got on my NXT poster.

Soured by this experience with Gotch, I tried to put it out of my head. We now had some time to kill until the next session, but no where to go and certainly NO desire to fight the crowd. So we opted to just rest where the line was for NXT Axxess and wait for the next session. Dave needed to hit the ATM anyway, which would prove to be the longest line he would be in all day. Evidently, 1 ATM already had been closed as it ran out of money, which left this other one with a line a mile long. Since we had 2.5hrs before the next session, it made sense to just do the ATM now. While sitting and waiting, I spotted a familiar face in THE MOOCH! Thats right, the kid had grown up and was 2 months away from graduating with a BS in Business. We sat and talked about numerous topics including his plans for the future. While he doesnt know what he wants to do for a career, he plans to pursue his masters degree next and he just came back from Australia where he spent several months studying abroad. Crazy how time flies.

After nearly 2 hours, Dave finally rejoined me. The ATM line was insane. He was afraid it was going to run out of money at the rate people were pulling it out. The last session was beginning and it was gonna be a good one and definitely one of the more popular ones. We had Sami Zayn, Bayley, Dana Brooke and Alexa Bliss. I love Alexa Bliss. She is awesome. She might be a little green, but she is very athletic, has a great look and I think she will be a great fit in WWE someday. I also like Bayley a lot. She has a fantastic gimmick and is really good in the ring. And of course Sami Zayn….always known for being a great worker. He really sold me on his ability to translate to main stream television with his promo in Columbus the night before. He talked about a revolution in pro wrestling that NXT is. He compared it to the days of when ECW was starting out. And I really feel that way about NXT. NXT, eventhough its a WWE product, has this underground feeling to it. The guys there are a mix of fantastic workers, greenhorns, athletes, etc. And right now we are seeing the best workers getting showcased, while those who need work are getting an opportunity to do just that. I just read that NXT will have its own show at Wrestlemania and that it sold out 4100 seats in 2 hours. NXT is where its at.

Anyway, this was definitely a very busy session and line moved very slowly. When we finally reached the table, Zayn was first and I was able to get 2 done from him…..one on my poster and one on a prior photo op. Zayn liked the photo and wanted to know where it was taken. I told him and he nodded. Bayley looked at it and said “You Look Very Handsome.” We simultaneously thanked her. :shrug: Zayn complimented my tshirt, saying it was cool. Onto Bayley next, I got her on my NXT poster and then got a pic with her, as I missed her at Columbus. Alexa Bliss was next. She looked amazing. She signed my poster and was happy to pose for a photo. And finally Dana Brooke, who is pretty ripped and definitely good looking too. She was also competing at the Arnold in a body building category. Got her on my poster and a pic with.

Saturday was in the books. And it was good. After just 3 hours sleep combined over the past 2 days, I was beat. This day had consumed all the energy I had. And we were both hungry, considering we hadnt eaten all day. We walked out and back to the car. First stop was to hit Walgreens so we could get some photos printed out for Sunday. Wanted to get a few photo ops signed for Sunday. Once we were done there, it was off to Steak N Shake for a bite to eat and then back to the hotel. However, Dave turned a quick bite into a meal for 3. 1 double cheeseburger and 2 footlong hot dogs. Dave had his heart set on raising the stock prices for Steak N Shake single handedly.

With dinner done, we drove back to the hotel. The good definitely gave me a small burst of energy that would definitely die out about an hour after we got back. I got my bag packed and was in bed. I put the Duke/North Carolina game on and was planning on watching that. As far as I remember, I watched the entire game, turned off the tv and went to sleep. I remember Coach K and Roy shaking hands and Duke emerging victorious. However, Dave’s account is a bit different. He claims I fell asleep with the remote in hand with 3 minutes left. He snuck the remote out of my hand, finished watching the game and then put SNL on for a few minutes before he turned off the tv and went to sleep. I wonder which version is true.

The morning came, we elected to sleep in a bit since Sunday would not be as packed as Saturday. We headed back over, but yet again ran into a travel issue. The GPS didnt screw us, but the exit for the convention center was now closed and we were re routed. This put a major damper, as now we couldnt get to the parking lot that we had parked in next to the convention center. We spent at least another 20-25 mins. trying to find parking. When we finally got to a lot, we pulled in and were told to turn around, as the car in front of us was the last one they could accomadate. We finally found a parking garage and pulled in. By a stroke of luck, this garage had a skywalk to the convention center. We could leave our jackets behind without having to take a long walk in the cold.

Once inside, day 2 was well underway. We headed right into Hall C for NXT. Today, I was determined to get a good spot on the rails to take photos and watch some wrestling, while still trying to get more autographs. Now since we were running late, we headed right to the Axxess line for the first session which had Barron Corbin, Kalisto, Murphy and Blake. I got Corbin, Murphy and Blake on my NXT poster along with Corbin, who I also got to sign my photo op. Once I was done, I found a decent spot right on the rail by the ramp and decided to hit that up. I would be able to secure some great shots of the stage and still be able to shoot the ring too. So I stayed here to shoot some photos, while Dave went to see how the traffic was for the rest of the con. He returned shortly and said it was still pretty bad and it was tough to move about.

The NXT divas were finishing a Q and A and were getting ready for the first match, which included my girl Alexa Bliss. She was not signing today, but I still had hopes to get my photo op with her signed. After she was done, she came walking up the aisle and I pulled out my photo op. She saw it and came right over. She signed it and the NXT film crew ran over and started filming her signing it. She left, while I celebrated my victory. NXT film crew kept filming me, so I started to markout for the camera, including kissing my photo op, which the camera guy gave me the thumbs up too.

Since we were late for session 1, session 2 was starting very soon. Regal came out and announced that in 20 minutes the main event was happening and it would be Balor/Neville vs. Owens/Breeze. I really wanted to shoot this match and was determined to stay regardless who was signing. And the next signing had Mark Henry, Bayley, Sami Zayn and Charlotte. I had a small need for Henry and 3 for Charlotte. My plan was to not give up my spot, as I had already moved down 2 more people to get even closer to the ring and really didnt want to lose my spot. Dave wanted to hit the line, so he went for it while I stayed back to continue to shoot. I was hoping since the session was 2 hours, I would be able to shoot the tag match and then hit the line. Of course, the 20 minutes might have been nothing more than a tv cue, as it was an hour before the match started.

Flair came out for a Q and A. I opted to participate in the Q and A and ask Ric about his impressions of Finn Balor and his future. Flair said Finn was very humble and has an extremely bright future in WWE. He expects big things from him. After the Q and A, Flair came walking by me and a guy had a Pro Wrestling Illustrated and waved it at Flair. I figured he would ignore it, but instead Flair reached over and signed it. I was shocked. You just never know.

Finally the tag match was starting and Dave had returned from the session. He said the line was absurd and people were continually looping back. I was starting to figure I was gonna miss out, as the bell rang. The tag match was pretty good. As soon as it was done, I grabbed my stuff for the session and hurried over. Dave kept the spot, as I hit one of the longest lines for NXT with only 30 minutes before the session was over. I was definitely worried I wouldnt get through. But I did make it with just a minute or 2 to spare. There had to be at least another 50 people still behind me, mostly loopers. I got Henry on my program, said hello to Zayn and got Charlotte to do all 3. I was a little worried about Charlotte, as Dave had said they were starting to get strict about the autos. But Tim White was at the end and he was really cool with me. He saw my photo op with Charlotte and said it turned out really nice and handed it back to Charlotte to sign. All 3 were done and I got through the line. I thanked Tim and headed back over to Dave. When I got to Dave, he asked me how Henry was and I said he was fine. Dave said he had a less than favorable experience. He said Henry took issue with the promo he asked to be signed and started to complain. He told Dave he wasnt signing anymore autographs and hates this part of the job. The promo Dave asked to have signed was one with Henry and Rodney Mack. He said Henry stared at it for a minute before he finally signed it. I just dont get some people. Why? If you have issue with Mack or whatever, who cares? How is it relevant to the fan who is trying to get the promo signed?

The NXT tryouts were next. Nothing spectacular to report, outside of Corey Graves just owning this with his mic. work. At one point he asked for audience participation. He said he wanted the crowd around ringside to cheer and the fans in the stands to boo. The cheers were decent, but no one was booing. Graves asked again and his request went ignored. So Graves asked the ringside crowd to now boo all the fans in the bleachers. BWAHAHAAH!!

They were getting ready for another Q and A followed by more tryouts. The Q and A was the NXT Champions Q and A, so I opted to stay for a minute. Kevin Owens was doing a fantastic job heeling in the ring. Some kid asked him why he thought he could beat Cena and Owens said he know he can, because he is motivated by how much sadness will be in that little boy’s eyes when he does. Classic. I also asked a markish question….how was it going to feel when he loses the NXT Title to Finn Balor on March 25. When JoJo was previewing the questions and I asked her mine, she said I should be ready for a tongue lashing and I got just that. Owens went off on me and some kid who painted his face like Balor. He told me it was retarded to paint your face, but I should do it as it would be an improvement. I did get to banter with him a bit. Owens asked if I was being serious, at which I grabbed JoJo’s mic and responded to him…deadly. Owens wanted to know if I could pass a drug test. I wanted to say something smart ass like….I could pass the same ones Randy Orton does, but figured that would probably get my question edited from filming. Overall it was a ton of fun and Owens was great staying in character. I gave up my spot for the last session with Balor, Miley, Neville and Breeze. Had a few for Balor and needed Neville and Breeze. The line was ridiculously long. It moved fairly decently. Dave wanted a photo with Balor, so I promised to take care of that for him. Breeze was first and I got 2 from him, my poster and on the Mike Dalton entry of my NXT program. He said he didnt know who Dalton was, but was willing to sign that page if I would like. Got to Neville and had him sign my poster and then to Balor. For Balor, I was attempting to get 3 done, since Tim White was there again. I got my photo op from the previous day printed out as an 11×14, an 8×10 and my NXT poster. He signed my poster first and then took my blue paint to sign the 11×14 and 8×10. He asked me if I was headed back today or if I was staying another night and I told him as soon as I was done here, I was back on the road. He said to let him know if I decide to make the trek to Orlando this year and I told him I would. Dave came through and I took his photo while he got my NJPW program signed for me.

As were leaving, Graves cut another hilarious line. One of the guys for the tryouts was cutting his promo and reached for the mic from Graves hands. Graves told him not to touch his mic as he doesnt even work here. Great stuff. While we continued to listen to Graves, we got our stuff packed up to get out of here. Out the door we went and we headed for the car. It was gonna be a long drive back and we wanted to hit the road ASAP. Sadly, our travel troubles would only continue.

As we got on the road and home was 5 hrs 49mins away, the GPS instructed that we exit. It wasnt really an exit, but more of the highway splitting. We needed to goto the right where the exits were, but Dave ignored the GPS and just went straight and now we were unable to cross over to exit. As we drove by, we could see our exit and it was CLOSED!!!! The exit we needed was closed. Now what?! We got rerouted, but the GPS now said it was gonna take 9hrs to get home. NO WAY! We got off the next exit and quickly circled back. We took a different exit and got on the right path. As we were making good time, we opted to finally stop for some food. We were close to haflway home with about 3 hours left according to the GPS. We stopped at Quiznos to get some food and then swung in for some gas at the gas station. We spent no more than 30 mins for both, but when we got into the car the GPS said were now 5hrs away.:1distraught: C’mon!!! 5 hrs?!?!? As we continued, I thought for sure that the GPS would update and get back to closer to our original time, but it never did. 5 hrs later we were finally back at my place. I was exhausted. This weekend was a ton of fun, but it kicked my ass. I would totally do it again, but I could do without all the GPS issues. The show, the matches, Axxess and all the great meets made the trip WELL worth it. I am so happy I opted to goto NXT. I cant wait to see them live again. As the final chapter in the NXT story draws to a close, I shall leave with my photos from this trip. Enjoy!

NYC 2/23/15

The hunt was on. But unlike previous trips, this trip brought about a change in travel partners. I’m sure we all have those chicks in our lives that always say that want to come, but find a way to bail last minute. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. Girls just love to fain over the celebrity photos we get and beg to be taken on a hunt, but then find an excuse. And how do you get mad? They bat their eyes, pout their lips and apologize. And we, like typical schmucks just accept it, offer another time and plunge back into our original plans.

This time though, it was a little different. There would be no apology, last minute bail, pouty lips or batting eyes. No, instead…..we had a trooper. :maybe: Not only did my friend want to see how it was done, meet some celebs, see the bright lights of NYC….but she is now the NEWEST converted fan to the show Arrow. After a binge weekend, she blew through season 1 and was ready to meet Stephen Amell, who coincidentally was in town. And anyone who knows me…..knows I will find any excuse for another Amell meet.

Just a hair past 5am and we were on the road to NYC. She had never been to NYC, so this would not only be a hunt, but a chance for her to see the city that never sleeps and an opportunity to see how crazy New York can truly be. After a small accident, we made it into the city running a half hour behind. Our first stop was a spot where there were a number of celebrities expected…..but a number that we certainly questioned their appearance considering they appeared at the Oscars the night before. Once we arrived, not only were our suspicions true…..turns out NO ONE was appearing here as the entire show was taped in LA due to the Oscars. :damn:

So her first swing at the plate was a missed. Our half hour delay now really meant nothing, as we ventured to spot #2. Once we arrived, the spot was virtually dead. It was early and it was cold….BITTER cold. The week before showed the forecast to be 40 degrees. Sadly, it was more like 11. While we dressed warm, I wandered off without a hat….which is actually typical on my part. I certainly didnt want to mess up my hair. But the fierce wind would that on its own. It would be about a half hour before the first celeb arrived and it was Scott Wolf from Party of Five fame. He was super nice and signed and took photos. I had nothing for him, so I got a selfie and she had her first brush with fame….Scott Wolf. She asked me what show he was from and I told her Party of Five, which she promptly responded she had never heard of. :facepalm: Yup….I’m old.

Moments later, out from the building walked Joe Piscopo….who was almost unrecognizable. Its been a LONG TIME since I have seen him. Joe was also very cool. He was glad to take photos with anyone who requested. She opted to avoid this one, as she had ZERO clue who he was. I did not and got a quick pic with him. The next guess was one that was very hard to miss, yet I was the only one to spot this person as he walked up. It was WWE Superstar…Mark Henry! Holy BUTTER STICKS Batman! Junior Mid Card Mafia member was about to go one on one with The Silverback…..Mizark! Henry, unlike most occassions, was happy to stop to take photos. He kept commenting how crazy we were to be hanging outside in the bitter cold, while walking around the city…..IN NO JACKET!!!! :saswhat: Who’s crazy now?

The last celeb we got was Mary Elizabeth Winstead from Scott Pilgrim and Die Hard movie fame. She was hurried to her car, but she did take a couple of pics and sign a couple of autographs. I was able to get a crappy selfie with her….but one nonetheless. Her publicist stepped into my shot, as I was forced to raise my camera up to avoid this head blocking mine. Oh well. There was one more celeb appearance, but it was around the corner from this spot. By the time we were aware of what was going on, it was too late. Jenny McCarthy was getting inside her SUV and leaving and we had just missed her.

The cold was really getting to us and this spot became virtually dead at this point. Eventhough some friends had texted that Stephen Amell had this spot on his list for the day…..we opted to get some lunch. I think it was a bit late for him anyway and the info was 100% solid. Since my friend is a lover of burgers, where else would I take her but my favorite NYC lunch spot…..Steak N Shake! And my little sugar momma even treated…..I could get used to this. :lol: Her first time eating Steak N Shake and she loved it. We got out of there just as the place was starting to get busy, so our timing was impeccable.

The next part of our trip was more so to pickup photos I had printed at Adorama Pix. So we went across town and headed down to Union Square. We stopped at Adorama and I picked up my photos, as we then ventured into Union Square so Tarah could see another side of the city. We also stumbled upon the Powers set, which was filming. I did take a quick look for Sharlito Copely’s trailer….but to no avail. After walking around the square, we took the subway back to our last spot. One where we had high hopes of some big names along with the biggest reason for the day…..Stephen Amell.

The next spot isnt the easiest to navigate. With 2 different doors and a garage…..I have had WAY more failure here than success. Hopes were high….as was the unnerving feeling. One of my friends in the city told me to use the opposite door that I usually hang at. I decided to follow this advice, as I have heard that that door seems to provide a stronger success rate. The cold was really starting to become extra bitter. In an attempt to try and warm up, we ventured inside and pretended to be tourists. The building was so warm and we would just walk past security guards talking about different NYC attractions in order to go unnoticed. In addition, this gave me the opportunity to bounce to the other door and see if anyone else was out there waiting.

While we waited, we were expecting to see a few other celebs. But either we were at the wrong door at the wrong time….or they all used the garage. There wasnt a lot of hope for these other celebs, so we certainly didnt let it get us down. Time was ticking though and Amell should be arriving at any moment. We did spot a few dealers pop up. It was a good sign we had the right door…..but they would quickly disappear. We cut back over and checked the other door, but they were not there. :thinking: A few fans showed up. They too were clearly waiting for Amell, but they refused to wait too long. Evidently they had tickets they needed to use and had to go. That too was discouraging. Where oh where was Stephen Amell?

Well, our first hint came through instagram. He had posted a picture and status update that he was out having a cocktail before heading to this spot. So at least we knew we had not missed him yet. DJ was nice enough to text me this info and even helped try to dissect the photo for any hints. Nothing really stood out. Based on the time stamp of the photo and the current time….we knew his arrival was imminent. Standing at the original door and clock watching, I started to get this uneasy feeling. I looked around and there was barely a soul in sight. I told my friend we should go check the other door really quick.

As we walked over and turned the corner, the commotion outside was huge. Paprazzi was out there and flashes were going off. Dealers were all over the place. I quickly ran into the spinning doors, not even noticing that my friend jumped into the same spinning door as me until she told me later. We got outside, as security was draped all over him. Stephen saw me and came over for a hand shake. I told him that I had brought the newest Arrow fan and that she had just spent the past weekend binge watching season 1. He walked over to her and allowed her to get a selfie. Then he took one with me and he was off. Pretty nice of him considering his wife and child were with him. :clap:

There it was! Mission accomplished. My friend was so excited. All the waiting, the bitter cold, etc. was now all worth it. We were on an adrenaline high. We opted to wait till Stephen left in attempts to try and score a couple of graphs. But when it he came out, he was in a hurry to get to the airport and politely declined….explaining he was headed for the airport for a flight. He thanked people from coming out, but was definitely in a hurry and had to fight the crowd to say goodbye to his family. Of course the dealers just couldnt let it be and had to turn this into the apocalypse. They screamed obscenities at him, telling him he had changed and didnt know how to treat his fans. No, fuck face…..he knows how to treat his fans. He just doesnt give two shits about the dealers. A real fan would never go off on him like that, especially considering he didnt have to explain why he couldnt stop to sign….and he did. And this kind of behavior is exactly why he went from a celeb who would stop and spend a good amount of time to sign and take photos to one who has become more reclusive.

Since we had what we wanted, we decided to head to Times Square. This would be my friend’s first chance to see it all lit up. She was amazed by the sheer number of people on the streets, the bright lights and the huge video bill boards. It was really cool and took me back to the first time I walked into the Times Square. Since my friend had an early day at work scheduled the next day, we decided to head home. We hopped back on the subway to the transit train. While sitting on the transit train awaiting departure, I began to read an article on FB about a news broadcaster who was on the air in Wilkes Barre and used the term “jigaboo”. Hmmm……never heard this. I turned to my friend and asked; “Whats a jigaboo?” :saswhat: And thats the face made by several of the travelers who were seated in our cart. Yeah….they were black. Whoopsie. Of course my friends explained to me what it was and my ignorance now was on full display.

Back to Secaucus we went. Walking to the car, it felt like it had become 20 degrees colder here. We got on the road the took the long trip back. We stopped off at the traditional Wawa in Phillipsburg, but surprisingly neither of us were hungry. So it was gas and bathroom and back on the road. We made decent timing home. She was beat. I still had a little left in the tank, as getting in before midnight isnt the usual by any means.

The trip was a success. Not only did we both get the big want of the day, but she had a chance to take an adventure into the big city….and she loved it. She loved the hunt, the success, the rush and the sites. When I got home to unpack my bag is when I realized that I didnt get one single autograph. LOL! There’s a first. Oh well. Still very happy with my gets. Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics!

 

Edge & Christian in Washington, DC 12/28/14

The final Raw of 2014 was being hosted by my all time favorite wrestler Edge….and Christian too. So it was a no brainer to head to Washington DC to see the man I had been following for over 2 decades. Edge was the man that introduced me to a pro wrestling world outside of WWE. The first time I ever came across this man was inside the pages of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. As I was waiting for my parents to grocery shop, I would hit the magazine rack to see what was going on in wrestling. One day I opened PWI and found this article about a tag team tearing up the north east called…..Sex & Violence. Immediately, I was drawn to this name being the horny, adrenaline pumped teenage male. Sexton Hardcastle and Joe E. Legend looked like rock stars. PWI was calling they best tag team on planet earth. This Sexton Hardcastle sounded awesome. I needed to see for myself. I loaded up AOL 3.1 or whatever edition it was at the time, and started scouring the internet in hopes of finding more. What I found was a chat room filled with other wrestling fans…..independent wrestling fans. I struck a deal and a VHS tape of Sexton Hardcastle was on its way to me. I was stoked. Once the tape arrived, I was immediately hooked. This was my guy. I had grown from the days of Hogan, Savage and Warrior. I felt like they were cartoony and I was getting ready to drive a car soon. I was becoming a man. :rofl1: Or so I thought. I wanted something new and different and was already more taken with guys like Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart anyway…..this guy was right up my alley. I pronounced him my favorite wrestler. Lets face it….going into a chat room and saying how Hulk Hogan was the man in an indy chat room was a good way to get you bombarded with instant messages of hate. Sexton Hardcastle, Sex & Violence, Thug Life, Revolution X…..thats me. I’m all in. As the years went by I can remember going to the grocery store and checking the news stands for the next issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, just to see what was going on with Sexton Hardcastle. And then one day, my monthly subscription to WWF Magazine arrived and I opened up to read about this Dojo that was starting up and VIOLA!!!! I saw him….Sexton Hardcastle aka Adam Copeland, was the star pupil and WWF was expecting to sign him. If he went to WWF, then what about independent wrestling? What about Christian Cage and Joe E. Legend? The more I read, the more I knew that Sexton Hardcastle was destined for greatness on the biggest stage. Freshly signed to WWF and finishing his indy dates, I caught wind that he indeed would finish out his dates in Reading, PA for a little indy fed called PCW…one of his regular stops. Well, I made sure I was there. This could be my last chance to see him on the indys before he was fully on the road with WWF. And this became the first time I ever saw independent wrestling live and in person. Fast forward 20+ years and its been one hell of a ride. From watching him work in front of 50 people to seeing him main event Wrestlemania, I am proud to have been on this ride for so long, unwavering and only enjoying it more and more. So thats the background and here we are, a couple of years since I last saw him. I miss seeing him each week on tv or on the road, but I am glad he is happy with his life and the career he now has undertaken. And with DC just a few hours from me, I loaded up the beast and met Cancer Free Dave and we were off. For the first time in the longest time, I left on time. I stopped at Chipolte and grabbed some lunch. I hopped on the highway and started the short drive. About 20 minutes into my trip I realized, and I really have no clue how I did, I was missing my markers. :facepalm: How exactly would I get anything signed without them?! I turned around and started heading back. Even when I leave on time…..I’m late. Our arrival into DC was a little later than I wanted, but not the end of the world. We still had a good hour before his plane was to arrive. I checked the arrival board when I got there and discovered his plan was arriving early now….and we had just 10 minutes to get to the gate. We rushed over and got there in plenty of time. It wasnt that long after that Edge came off the plane. There were about 20 fans waiting. He came right over and started to sign. When he spotted me, he stopped and came over to shake my hand and ask me how I had been. He went back to signing, while still conversing. I ended up getting 2 autos and a photo with. We talked about his upcoming Raw and how he and Christian had several ideas they planned out, but wasnt sure how many would actually get used. He seemed so happy, especially about being a father. He joked he gets less sleep now than when he was travelling on the road. He was off and we were off to our next get. Next on my list was JBL. Had a bit of a wait for him, but spotted him as he arrived. I really had nothing for him, so I opted just for a photo. It was a quick hit and then we were gone. The only other name on my list was Christian. We had a bit of a wait for him, but kept ourselves occupied by roaming around the port. When it was time for his arrival, we headed to the gate and waited. Christian was cool, quiet as always. He signed for everyone, including multiples. I got my program and an 8×10 signed and also got a photo with him. I suggested he break out the kazoo for Raw and he said it was on the list. And if you watch Raw….you did in fact see the kazoo. And that was it. We had no other info and decided to bounce. We headed back for home, scoring what we came for. Short trip, but a good one. And this concludes my final adventure of 2014. Like every year, its had its highs and its lows. Cant wait for what 2015 has in store for me!

 

Chris Pine In NYC – 12/16/14

Just two days after the failure that was DC, I was off again to NYC for a long shot at a man I have been chasing for 2 years….Captain Kirk from the USS Enterprise. No…not that Kirk. But the current Kirk. The JJ Abrams…Kirk. Never was a Star Trek fan, though I did watch some of Next Generation. All other versions bored me. But Abrams put a new spin on the franchise and selected the perfect lead for his franchise in Chris Pine.

I started my Star Trek poster back in 2012 at Fan Expo Toronto. There, I quickly added two of the biggest names in the film in Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban…Spock and Bones. Earlier this year, I snagged the next biggest character in Uhura played by Zoe Saldana. And that left the biggest piece of the puzzle…..Chris Pine. I hesitated in taking this trip, as Pine was just in NYC 2 weeks ago and then last week did NOT attend his movie premiere in NYC. So why would he be back? What ended up pushing me over the edge to go was Tim Tebow. See Tebow, was scheduled for an appearance and since he was just in NYC on Sat night for the Heisman ceremony, I knew at worst case I would get Tebow.

Up at 3:30am and out the door at 4am. I made fantastic time to Secaucus and jumped on a junction train right away. Once in the city, I hit the spot for Tebow and Pine right away. I wasnt expecting many people and I was sort of right. When I arrived, I found the spot to be filled…..filled with paparazzi. There was just 3 other fans waiting and everyone else was paps. Strange. I got the best spot I could, even upgrading myself to a sliver of the end of the rail when a paparazzi guy was nice enough to let me in front of him since he only wanted to shoot photos anyway. :maybe:

One of the employees there was nice enough to confirm that Pine was in fact going to be here live and nothing was pretaped. It wasnt too long till Pine finally arrived. He walked right past us, waving hi on the way in. The publicist mumbled something…..it sounded like she did on the way out. No one had seen Tebow yet, but it was possible he was already inside by the time the first person got there. Christoph Waltz arrived and he signed, but refused to take photos. His publicist says he NEVER does photos. :thinking:

Pine was in there for quite some time and then he finally exited. He never even looked at us. He marched right to his car and was gone. :1distraught: This is NOT good. The same employee came over and we asked about Tebow and he said it was pretaped and he wasnt here. All the fans already left when Pine bolted, I was the only fan left. But instead of the paparazzi leaving, they stayed. In fact, 3 more joined in. One of the guys said, Oprah was coming in to pretape and thats why they were staying. They told me Oprah is really nice and that if I stay, she would definitely do it. But I wasnt here for her and the person I thought was closest to a sure thing isnt here either. Now what?

I had one more tidbit of info. So I boogied on over to the next spot. No more than 10 people were waiting. 5 minutes into waiting, Pine came out. I had no spot on the rail, but getting my poster done was the priority. He went down the line and signed and took photos, no problem. I was the last to get him and couldnt score a photo, as he went back to take more photos with the girls on the rail and by the time I got to the front, he was headed out. I was lucky enough to get him to do a market switch, in order to keep the trend of blue Sharpie on this poster. No biggie….the poster was done and the trip was a success.

I headed over to another spot, as I had a little time to spare, but it was a bust. One of the guys that was at the first spot, who didnt goto the 2nd spot because he thought there was zero chance he would do it, was regretting it after I told him I got him. I had one last piece of info to act on and this would be the end of my short NYC trip. I got some info on the Dallas Mavericks being in town and headed over to the team hotel. I waited as long as I could, but they hadnt returned from practice thus far. I had to go, so I packed up and called for my Uber.

NYC traffic was a bitch, but I finally made it back to Penn Station and headed back to ol Secaucus, praying there was no closed turnpike. Luckily there wasnt, I took the long ride back to PA with my Chris Pine signed Star Trek posted snuggly tucked in the beast’s back seat. Victory was mine. :victory:

 

The Rock Or The Smelly Sock? – Washington DC – 12/14/14

It was a trip deemed “The Rock Or The Smelly Sock”. Washington DC was the destination and some low key, wildly good chance at getting The Rock with a handful of other celebs had arisen. Away from the hustle and bustle of NYC, I jumped in the beast and took a ride to Hagerstown, MD to pickup Cancer Free Dave. Because of the protesting in DC, Dave said it was best not to try and drive in, but to take the Metro. Since this was Dave’s neck of the woods, I trusted he was right.

When we arrived at The Metro, we bought our tickets and got on. So far, so good. As we make our way to the first stop, the conductor announces that there is some issue with the track and we will have a bit of a delay. The first delay wasnt too bad, about 10 minutes. A few more stops in, we hit another delay. This one….WAS BAD! About 20 minutes waiting, before they got moving. There would be one last small delay on this Metro ride before we got to DC. We arrived about 40 minutes later than planned and hustled our way to our spot. Only problem…….OBAMA!

When in our nation’s capital, the President cant present himself to be an obstacle. Lets face it….even at home, the President can present himself to be an obstacle. The street we needed to get to was blocked by police and secret service. It wasnt the end of the world, but an annoyance. Until the President left, we had to hold up. Finally, he did and we made our way to the spot. We passed by the front door where the President had exited and headed to the stage door to meet The Rock. Since this was a secure area, we needed to sneak onto the premises. Once we got passed the bushes and trees, we hid behind a tractor trailer, parked in the lot. We had a great view of the door and there should be some time before Rock gets from the door to his SUV. We only waited a minute before we spotted a family rolling up right by the ramp from the exit door to the lot. So we opted to head over and wait with them.

It wasnt too long till the first celeb exited and it was Hunter Hayes, the country star. He was nice and took pics and signed autos. I got a pic with. My second biggest want was Christina Perri and she exited next. She took pics with the family that was waiting, but brushed everyone else off. :dislike: Other celebs like Rita Ora, Aloe Blacc and Earth, Wind And Fire came out and all refused to do it…..though Rita did it for the family again. :exasperated:

It wasnt looking good. The Rock? No…The Smelly Sock looked to be in our future. You know the kind…..the one that is soaked in epic failure. The scent was in the air. We gave it another hour or so, but it was dead. There was no :huh: , he must have gone out a different way. Instead, I was left with a single photo op with a country singer that all female friends shriek over and a sock that wreaked of epic failure. :melopain:

The ride home was short, which is always good when defeated. Its true….one is the loneliest number. :cries: :cries: So here is that one.

Tom Pelphrey, Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper & More – NYC – 12/03/14

Buckle up motherfuckers! This one’s gonna be a wild ride. The following report will contain grand success, miserable failure, controversial decisions, the NYPD, acts of violence including riots, cilantro and almost getting stuck in NYC. So grab onto something stable, dont let go….cuz HERE. WE. GO!

This trip was one I wanted to take for the past couple of weeks. I wanted to try and combine a few different spots with the confirmed ones I already had, but it didnt seem to be in the cards. With time running out for my top want, I opted to hit NYC. DJ opted to join me. With only a small number of spots on the agenda, we were able to avoid leaving too too early in the morning. Our first planned spot was for Hugh Jackman aka Wolverine from the X-Men franchise. The last time I went for Jackman, I came away empty handed. He wasnt posing for photo ops and refused to use my silver, only using the black he had in hand. My poster is almost entirely black and I refused to have him sign black on black. In the end, I was glad I didnt have him sign it, as his signature looked like crap. He was signing what looked to be a “U”. I dont normally care for the quality of the signature, but thats outrageous. Now I was hoping to rectify this and get my Wolverine mini poster done.

When we arrived at the spot, there was no one else there. I expected this spot to be pretty low key anyway. Because of that I opted to use the GoPro. I am still trying to get used to using it and how to position it just right on my backpack. We had a bit of a wait and the wind was horrible. In addition, the weather seemed to want to just open up and dump rain on us. During our wait, the wind would pick up and it began to rain. We were able to seek out some shelter before Hugh finally showed. By the time he arrived, there was maybe about 10 people waiting for him. He started signing and taking pics. All looked good, cept his presence began to pickup onlookers. They attempted to squeeze into the line. Hugh got to me and had that same black from our previous encounter. I requested a marker switch and he was happy to oblige. I got this beautiful Hugh Jackman signature on my poster and a great selfie to boot. :like: We were done and escaped the crowd that was now 30 to 40 people. I wanted to check my Go Pro for the footage and wound up with nothing but some blurry pics. Somehow I switched the Go Pro from video to photo. Ugh. Practice makes perfect.

From here we left and headed towards my top want of the day, Tom Pelphrey. For anyone who reads my reports or knows me in general, knows I am a huge Pelphrey fan. Loyal readers will also know that my last 2 ventures for Tom have proved very unfruitful, as I struck out both times….never seeing him. We stationed ourselves at the backdoor and began to wait. The cold and rain began to play a factor, but we got lucky here as this spot now had a roof to keep us dry. As the window for his arrival began to draw closed…..I ended up seeking out some info from an employee there. It just seemed to be getting too late in the day. I was then told I was at the wrong door and that they used the front door here. :EEEEEEK:

Damn it!!! We spent the last hour waiting and all for not. We had a small break and decided to hit some grub up. DJ warned me Steak N Shake had changed their menu. Outside of the fries, everything I ordered before was now gone. It was still good, but the prices had gone up and the best stuff was gone. We ate and left and headed to spot number three. This time we were here for Bradley Cooper. Based on the setup, DJ was worried he wasnt going to sign. As the time drew closer, they began to setup barricades and we knew it was going down soon. We got ourselves a good spot. Before we Bradley came out, Alessandro Nivola, known for American Hustle, came out first. I had nothing for him, so I just got a picture. It wasnt too much longer before Cooper came out. Cooper’s security made some announcements concerning how the signing was going down. Normally they say no outside merchandise, but they did not say that this time. So kept my fingers crossed for my Guardians of The Galaxy poster. There was this annoying woman a few rows back of me who kept thinking she could squeeze in on the barricades and then slide back out. She was really getting annoying, constantly pushing her stuff in front of me. Cooper got to me and I got my poster signed first. Then I asked for the photo, which he allowed me to take the selfie myself. Problem is, my camera has 2 lights on it. The first light is the focus light and the next is the picture being taken. For some reason, Cooper turned his head after the first light, thus giving me a profile shot of Cooper. :facepalm2: It was clear, but not good. I will need to rectify this. At least I got the autograph, which was more important. That same woman slid in and wanted a photo. BUT….she told Bradley she refused to do selfies and wanted some help to climb the barricade. What is wrong with people? I will say this spot was so chaotic that Cooper was just grabbing cell phones and taking selfies, but they werent always with the people who handed the cell phone to him. Highly recommend avoiding this spot.

Before we left, I checked the GoPro. I got the video. Unfortunately, after reviewing the footage at home, I found it to be all but worthless based on the perspective of the camera and the chaotic nature. With Cooper in the bag, it was onto our next spot for Dave Grohl, lead singer from Foo Fighters. When we got to the spot, there were only just a few people waiting. It wasnt too long till Grohl rolls up. His security asks that we all wait patiently and they even put barricades up. They explain he will do 1 for everyone. Grohl comes out and doesnt goto the front barricade, he goes to the side towards the ebayers. WTF?! He starts signing over there, hooking the ebayers up. He finally gets to me and I get a photo, but he turns his head just like Cooper….cept I dont even get a profile shot, his head has completely turned. He continues to sign, as I call back to him. He says he cant, but still has time to sign for the ebayers who have come over to this side as well. :saswhat: Unreal. To top it off, my GoPro got everything of this one just fine. Life’s wicked joke of irony,

At this point, I am starting to feel my day of success quickly slipping into a vortex of failure. This feeling wouldnt go away at the next spot. We take the very short walk up to the next spot for Christopher Nolan. When we arrive, there isnt much room on the barricade. DJ grabs a spot, but I am left in the back. We tried to wait it out, but DJ wanted to bounce to our next spot for a more pressing want of his and I had a crap spot anyway. DJ had his spot and I had the Dukes Of Hazzard signing I wanted to goto. I had a little time before I needed to leave, so I opted to join DJ at the next spot.

Top Five, Chris Rock’s new movie was having a premiere. We got there and there was almost no one there. Unfortunately, the setup might have been the reason why. They werent getting dropped off at the same spot anymore. On top of that, the streets were littered in NYPD. We discovered on twitter this was a direct result of the Eric Garner/NYPD ruling from earlier in the day. We missed a lot of names like Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Chris Rock, Gabrielle Union, etc. I was about to bounce, but then we finally got someone in Cedric The Entertainer, who I thought I already got. In fact, it was Cee Lo Green who I have gotten before not Cedric. :shrug: We then saw Kanye West, but he was a complete and total dick. His car pulled up, he got out, ignored everyone. He went inside and got into an argument with security. A few minutes later, Chris Rock came over. Kanye flashed some gang symbols and got a photo op with Rock. He then left and jumped in his car. It wasnt too much longer till Rosario Dawson rolled up. She originally said she couldnt do it and went inside. But she came back out, almost immediately. She came right over and did photo ops but refused to sign a few “racier” photos. As I type this report, I am watching a Bass Pro commericial and the blonde in the red dress holding the slippers has gigantic jugs. :smirk: It was at this point, I realized I had missed my chance at the Dukes signing. We started to see the protestors showing up with “Fuck The Police”,”Die Cop Die”, etc signs. I wasnt aware of the details of the case, so I couldnt judge….but then again….I cant see how these signs did much of anything. We waited a little longer, but this spot seemed dead now and I needed to take my last chance at Tom Pelphrey.

Before we headed back, we stopped at Chipolte for some grub and the bathroom. More for the latter than the former. Anyone here remember one of my first trips to Philly to meet Kurt Angle at an FYE signing? There was an incident involving me and a Philly Wendy’s bathroom. Well……not quite a repeat, but it was seeming to be eerily similar. I had a LONG wait before the guy inside finally opened up and I could go inside. I sit down and within minutes people are knocking at the door and complaining. You know I just went inside. You know I have only been in there for a few minutes, a far cry from my predecessor. Why!?!!?! Let me shit in peace for fucks sakes. When I stepped out, I found a line waiting outside. DJ talked me into trying Chipolte for the first time. The prices are high, but the quality of the meat looked strong. The only thing I didnt like was the rice. ALL their rice had cilantro in it. WHY!?!? Why is there no plain rice. Brown? White? Spanish? I dont care….but some sort of not cilantro filled rice. Neato Burrito doesnt do it. Whats with the cilantro love?

After we finished eating, we headed over to the Pelphrey spot. We started the wait, but DJ got a call about info. for Bryan Cranston. He needed to leave right away, abandoning me. Oh well, I knew he had no interest, but it would have been nice to have another set of eyes. So DJ left and the streets were getting littered in people everywhere. They werent protestors, but there was just tons of people and they were all over the street. It was hard to keep track and not have Tom get lost in the crowd, especially considering it was winter. Winter brings hats, large coats, etc. I overheard one of the employees saying they were having an after party that night. Thats not good. Since this was my #1 want, I wasnt gonna let that deter me.

As I continued to wait, I thought I saw Justin Deas. He co starred with Pelphrey on the soap Guiding Light. It made sense, I guess. He stood next to me, perhaps he was also waiting for Pelphrey. I kept taking quick glances and even googled him, but wasnt 100% sure. I was waiting to hear him speak, cuz I figured that would help assure me of his identity. When he finally spoke, he told the guy he was with that maybe isnt coming out and they started to walk away. In hindsight, I should have asked him for a photo…..but I was so fixated on the target…..I was afraid it might cost me and/or I might be wrong.

So maybe Justin Deas left, or maybe his doppelganger did. I stayed. The streets finally quieted and people were gone. I asked one of the employees about Pelphrey and he confirmed the after party, but he also told me if I waited, Tom would definitely exit out this door. He even left the door opened, while locking others. Now its just a matter of time I guess.

And then….and then I saw my target in my sights. Through the single open door, I saw Tom walk up to my vantage point and say goodbye to two guys. As the two guys left, I saw Tom turn to walk back down. I knew this was my chance….my best opportunity. I couldnt hesitate. I couldnt let this one slip from my grasp. I charged. Like a bull towards the red cape, I charged. Unfortunately, the employee from earlier was walking past the door at this point and he got the horns! I barreled over to him, just as I saw Tom turn the corner. I called out to him, just as he disappeared from my sight. Damn it.

In strike of luck to right my ship, he came back around the corner and instantly recognized me from our last meet. At first I thought he was just saying so, but then he asked me if I was still watching wrestling and building websites. So NOW I knew he wasnt BSing me. I congratulated him on getting casted on Banshee. He was really happy to talk Banshee with me. He asked me if I watched currently and I told him I didnt, but I would be starting with season 3, his first season. He said its been a ton of fun and its a really good show. I look forward to seeing it and more important Pelphrey. Tom signed 13 items for me and I got 2 pics with him. I was gonna just selfie, but the employee I barreled over offered to take it. The only thing bad about the photo, was how far away it seemed he was. I never really understand why someone takes a photo like that and then doesnt realize its too far away and take a few steps forward. He obviously saw something he didnt like and said to take one more, so we did. But they are pretty much the exact same photo. He was super cool, as the last time. He wished me and my family a merry Christmas and then said he needed to get downstairs for the party. I completely understood and then it got a tad weird. How? He hugged me. Not like the traditional manly “Jeff Hardy Bro hug”, but the hug, hug. I just wasnt expecting it.

Since I was done, I called DJ to see what was up with Cranston. He said he still hadnt gotten him, so I started walking over to maybe get there in time. On my way over, I got caught up in the riots in Time Square. Tons and tons of cops and these stupid asses getting my face screaming “I Cant Breathe”, “Black People Deserve To Live.” I finally reached DJ, but I was a few minutes too late. He missed Cranston as well.

It was time to roll out anyway. We headed for Penn Station and took the train back to Secaucus. Normally, this is where the end of my report comes. And I wish….I really wish I it did, but it didnt. Instead, after we left the train station, we discovered our turnpike exit was closed. So we followed the detour signs towards the Meadowlands turnpike exit and found it too was closed. So the turnpike decided to close our exit and detour us to a different exit that they also closed. And now there were no detour signs. I knew of another exit for the turnpike and we drove there and IT WAS CLOSED TOO!!! We tried to find an alternate route home, but it seemed there was no way. We HAD to be on the turnpike at least for some part of the trip to get home.

DJ finally found us another way, but the traffic was awful. The riots were here in NJ as well and it was causing all kinds of issues. Traffic was relegated to a creep and crawl and roads were closed. Cops were driving everywhere and we even saw a paddy wagon loading fools up in the back. It tooks us over an hour to just get on the turnpike.

Ouch. Our trip home just took forever. We definitely came away victorious from NYC, but the frustration of the turnpike zapped us. What a crazy trip. We had some success. We had some failures. We faced the riots and through a grueling battle, we made it out without being trapped with no way home. Disaster avoided.

Trips like this are ones you hate to live through, but give you a great story to retell down the road. While I am still a bit peeved at this, this time next year it will be great to reflect upon. Without further adeu……the pics!

 

 

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