Posted in: Collecting, Conventions, Music, Sports, Star Trek

Why I collect autographs

I was thinking about this subject the other day and realized that it would make for a good blog post. I’ve been collecting autographs ever since I first met several members of the Utah Jazz at a mall in downtown Salt Lake City in the 80’s. The team was trying to drum up interest in fans and they had several of the players at a table signing autographs for anyone who happened to be there. I was able to get four of the five players who were present (the fifth had just run out of photos to sign). I still have memories of going through the mall to that chance encounter. It was one of the many of my teenage times when I would just go wandering off on my own not knowing what I would find while exploring.

Mark Eaton

As I started going to Star Trek conventions I had the opportunity to meet several different actors. Some I’ve been able to get photos with that I’ve added to my Star Trek Actor’s Photo Gallery. From these conventions I’ve been able to get autographs from several of the actors that I’ve seen on television and movies. To get an autograph, especially when you can see them sign it yourself, is to have something that they have interacted with. I will never forget meeting with James Doohan. Especially since he was staying in the hotel I was working in at the time. I was able to interact with him on the phone after the convention.

Jimmy Doohan

Not all encounters were pleasant ones. Sometimes you have to plan to attend conventions out-of-state, make arrangements to get something to sign, think about what you are going to say to the celebrity since you only get a few seconds with them (if you are lucky it could be a few minutes). At a convention in Los Angels I had the opportunity to get an autograph from Dwight Schultz. While he is famous for his role as Howling Mad Man Murdock in the 1980’s television series, The A-Team. I wanted to get a signed photo of Lt. Barclay from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I went by his table before he arrived and noticed all of the A-Team photos, but there were no Trek photos. I enjoyed watching the A-Team. But I knew what I wanted. In the dealers room I found a vendor who had a stack of Lt. Barclay photos for sale and snatched one up. I remember being in the first dozen people in line at the appropriate time for autograph signings. Several people had commented that they liked my Barclay picture. When you get to the table, you hand the assistant your money along with the photo. My photo was the first Star Trek picture of the day for Mr. Schultz to sign and he said “oh” and reached down with his pen to sign the photo. Suddenly from behind him, a hand reached out and yanked the picture away from him. Shocked I looked up to see some woman shaking the picture at me and screaming “Where did you get this picture? This is an illegal picture!” As I started arguing with the woman that I had already paid my money and that I was owed an autograph on the item I selected, Mr. Schultz’s face went back and forth between me and the woman as we yelled at each other. I think she was his agent or something and she wouldn’t budge. I wouldn’t budge either as I had already paid for my product and stated so. Suddenly she whirled around and grabbed one of his photos, slapped it down in front of him and yelled “Sign it!” The poor actor quickly made it out to me an not wanting to fight any more, I thanked him for the autograph. Then the woman grabbed me and stated “You’re going to show me where you got this in the dealers room.” As I was being dragged past the line, I noticed how many other fans with the same photo I had quickly hiding them. I knew that while she was away, they would be trying to get them signed as quickly as possible. Not wanting to get the dealer mad at me, the moment we got into the room, I waived my hand in the general direction and said “he’s down that way.” and I walked in the opposite direction. I couldn’t have been more than a minute later before I heard the harpy scream of this person yelling at the vendor. Every time I see the photo below, I think about that encounter. To this day, I wonder what Mr Schultz thought of what happened. I don’t blame him for it, but I could tell that he was embarrassed by it.

Dwight Schultz

I wish I could say that I’ve met everyone that I’ve got an autograph from. I’ve had several friends, knowing of my hobby to collect and of my interests, provide me with autographs that they have come across on their own. I’ve enjoyed several “Weird Al” Yankovick concerts, but I’ve never had a chance to meet the artist in person. Two different friends procured an autograph for me at different meet-and-greets that they participated in. I am very thankful to these friends. And yes, someday I’ll get a chance to meet Weird Al in person. Until then I’ll continue to enjoy his music and his sense of humor.

Weird Al Yankovick

I’ve got a quite a few autographs. Not just photos in an album but on artwork, books, action figures, hats, comics, games and other collectibles. And while some have gone up in value, especially with the celebrity passing on from this life, I’ve never thought about selling these items. These are memories for me. Memories of efforts to collect the autograph. Memories from meeting these human beings who have done extraordinary things. Memories of friends who have gone out of their way to help me with my collection. I’m sad that large scale events and online auctions have pushed autograph prices higher and higher. But I am also grateful for the opportunities to meet these people. I still get a smile on my face when I look over my autographed items.

Posted in: Comic Books, Cosplay, Dungeons and Dragons, Fan Club, Movies, Rant, Role Playing Games, Science Fiction, Sports, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate

A rant on True Fans and Gatekeeping

So I got involved in a discussion on a Stargate fandom page online. The topic was the much debated Stargate Universe series. Some people stated that they liked it, others (including myself) stated that we didn’t like it. The conversation was going pretty well until someone posted the following “You are not a true fan of Stargate unless you’ve watched all of Stargate Universe.” Now this was a statement that I really had to respond to as I’ve heard this “True Fan” comment before and it bugs me a lot. Rant Mode On: I think this meme said it best.

True fan meme

As most of you know (or have probably guessed), I’m a fan of a large number of science fiction and fantasy franchises. And there are some shows that I have not found entertaining. I could never get into the Buffy and Angel series no matter how hard I tried. It seemed like every time I sat down to give The X-Files a chance while it was first airing, it turned out to be the episode of the season with the most blood. There are other series, movies, comics and books that I just couldn’t get into. Some I will talk about in future blog posts.

Even in my favorite franchises, there are stinkers. I’ve only seen the last episode of Star Trek: Enterprise once. And I only plan to watch it once again (to mine it for quotes and trivia questions) before I avoid it at all costs afterwards. If someone would have had the misfortune of having that episode be their first introduction to the Star Trek universe, I could understand why they may not like Enterprise or even Star Trek itself. They get to decide what they are fans of, not me nor anyone else.

Using the term “True Fan” is a form of Gatekeeping. Gatekeeping, in the fandom/hobby sense, is allowing only those the “true fans” deem worthy to join them in the fandom. They may use this to keep fans of a certain series in a franchise out of their club/social media group/etc. (i.e. “You can’t be a true Star Trek fan if you like Star Trek: Discovery), or they may use this to keep certain players out of their games (i.e. “You can’t play in our Battletech game with papers figures, you have to only play with painted figs). A note on this last one. A sanctioned tournament for a miniature or card game requiring certain items to use in the tournament is a method of marketing and sales, not gatekeeping. And one I see in cosplay groups is, your cosplay isn’t worthy of inclusion. Really? With how much time, energy and effort goes into cosplay you are going to get upset because it’s not “screen accurate”? Someone who puts their heart into their fandom doesn’t deserve to get it crushed.

Gatekeeping by “true fans” makes the base of participants smaller and could kill our fandoms. You never know what was someone’s introduction to the fandom or hobby. While I was manning the USS Ticonderoga recruiting booth during the opening weekend of Star Trek: Into Darkness, a new fan came up to me and stated that the previous Star Trek film had inspired him so much that he went and watched all of the original Star Trek television series. He was now a fan of the franchise itself and was checking out the other shows. Had he been talking to a “true fan”, he could have been discouraged by the belittlement and not checked out the rest of the universe that awaited him.

It’s not just geeky movies and hobbies that his plagued by this. I’ve seen this same “true fan” mentality in sports fandom. “You can’t be a true fan of the (insert team name here) unless you can name a player from their 2009 championship run.” As our Dwight meme says above: “False!”

Now when someone asks a question like “Is the new Superman & Lois television series any good?” I usually respond somewhere along the line of “I’ve enjoyed it.” If I found that I haven’t been a fan of a series, I state that it is something I haven’t enjoyed. If someone says they enjoyed a series that I have not, then I’m glad. Not everyone has to enjoy what I enjoy. I request the same respect in return. The “I’ve enjoyed it” answer is also how I avoid the bait posts where someone is trying to start an opportunity to troll fans of a series.

So to recap, if you were to say to me “I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of the anime Cowboy Bebop and enjoyed it, am I a fan?” my answer would be yes. If you asked if you wanted to cosplay as a gender-bended Robin Hood and his band of thieves in the Sherwood Forest, would I consider you a fan? My answer would still be yes. “I really like Real Salt Lake because they are a local team.” I’d say welcome to the fandom. Would I shun you if you only wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition? No, I would not and I even might ask if there is an opening in your game. You get to decide if you are a fan of something, not these “true fans.” Enjoy what you want to enjoy and don’t let anyone tear you down for it.

Now to get back to the Stargate Universe discussion. I really enjoyed the original Stargate movie ever since I first saw it on opening weekend. It took me a while to get a chance to sit down and watch Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, but I enjoyed them both to the point where I call myself a fan. Because I had enjoyed both of these series so much, I took the opportunity to get season one, disk one DVD of Stargate Universe from Netflix (this should tell you how long ago this was) and my wife and I watched the first five episodes. There was one good episode in that first set (it was about time travel). I liked the nerdy kid who’s name I can’t remember. I really wanted to follow Samantha Carter in command of the USS Hamond and see her adventures. And I thought the concept of being trapped on a living spaceship not under your control sounded interesting. But I found the writing in SGU horrendous. The acting really wasn’t up to snuff despite some good names on the acting list. The use of the tech to switch bodies to go back to Earth and spy on your ex-wife was dumb. It was dark, dreary and depressing and was practically a soap opera. Talking into the floating camera things was too much like how reality TV show contestants would react to a camera between dramatic takes (a major turn off). And the scene where some woman is talking to her floating camera making a message for her husband, and then forgets to turn it off while she cheats on him with another member of the crew really made me roll my eyes. I think I realized this show wasn’t for me when the lead scientist and the lead military guy was fighting in the fifth episode and I turned to my wife and said “I don’t even care who wins this fight.”

Now if you are a fan of Stargate Universe. Good for you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Some of the SGU fans in the discussion stated that it got better in season two and encouraged me to sit down and give the series another try. I could see myself doing this once I’ve gotten all of my other catch-up and new watching completed. I’m really enjoying Superman & Lois and I watch it every week. WandaVision was another series I had to keep up on. I need to finish my first watch through of Farscape (yea I missed it when it first aired) and someday I’ll watch all of the episodes of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda. There are a ton of shows in my streaming lists and interests that I want to watch. And that doesn’t even count the number of books and comics I want to read or games I want to play. Bottom line is that SGU is really down on the priority list. So yes I’d give it another try if my list has been completed, but that will not be for a very very long time.

I think I’ve said enough to end this rant. If you are still reading, thank you. Just remember, you decide what you are a fan of, not other people and not those who gatekeep with the term “true fans”.

Tally Ho

Posted in: Reviews, Sports

The best laid plans…

Evey February I would sit down with a large number of snacks and appetizers and watch some expensive commercials interrupted by a sporting event. There would be a commercials that would be funny, others would tug at the heartstrings. And finally there would be a series of commercials that would air and everyone at the party would look at each other and whisper “Did they really spend money on a commercial like that?”

So while we were not getting together with friends for a super bowl party, I was thinking that I could write up a blog post on what commercials made me laugh and what commercials I’d be talking with co-workers about the next day.

Errrr…. What was that saying about the best laid plans?

I watched the commercials. And there were a few things of note. But the commercials just were not as good this year. It use to be that this was… well the super bowl of commercials. Corporations would spend millions of dollars producing top of the line ads. You would see these adds for weeks to come just because they were trying to get a return on the investment. We would laugh about them as we talked around the water cooler.

The commercial with the baby adoption was a good at tugging the heartstrings. I also really enjoyed Bruce Springsteen and the Jeep commercial about America (a message that was sorely needed). The M&Ms commercial was funny. Will Ferrel tried with his electric cars commercial, I just don’t find him that funny. I liked the Wayne’s World shop local commercial, I just don’t feel the urge to use an overpriced delivery service. The Paramount+ commercials were also good, but I had already seen them since they had been released online prior. When I was talking with a lot of people who had been interested in the commercials in the past and their response was “Meh, I’ll just watch it on YouTube.” I think we are missing the opportunity to do something all together at the same time.

I notice that the commercials just didn’t hold as much water this year. I didn’t really have a vested interest in either of the teams. I don’t really have any loyalty to an NFL team since there isn’t one located in Utah. As I was watching the last half of the blowout game, I was hoping that the Chiefs would come back and make the game interesting. Then it hit me. When the game is dull (looking at you Patriots and Rams from a few years ago) the commercials end up dull as well. Probably because when the game is bad, my attention starts to wander.

Now I understand that we’ve just gotten over a bad year. But I really feel that the advertisers missed the mark by not delivering more comedic advertising. Give us a reason to smile and make things fun around here. That would have made your product placement much more memorable. Now is the time to get started for next year.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention. I was originally watching the game on a Comcast/Xfinity provided channel. It was playing English during the pre-game. But for some reason it switched over to SAP (Spanish) when the game started. No matter where I looked on the Xfinity remote there was no option to hit SAP to see if it would go back to broadcasting in English. So I turned on my CBS All Access (soon to be named Paramount+) and watched the game that way. The sports on the streaming service had no problems what so ever. I was pretty impressed.