Saturday, October 16, 2010

BIRTHDAY HUNT

Today is a momentous day. Why? Because this is the first year Tina had EVER invited me out to a birthday gathering. Oh, sure, for a few years a while ago she'd invite me out for a pre-birthday bash hangout before she met up with all her other friends, but I've never been to the main thing before. Also got to meet her current boyfriend briefly, the first one that I didn't already know previously.

This year she decided to do a scavenger hunt at the Met. We split up into teams, ours ended up being me, her, April and Roy, and went about our way finding clues and what not. Basically it involved finding the answers within works of art. It was a lot of fun, and our team finished first. Unfortunately, we ultimately lost with a tie-breaker question.

After, we went to an Italian restaurant several blocks away. They mostly got bombed on sangria's waiting for a table. Meanwhile I was starting to pass out the later it got. Fought to stay awake waiting on the food, and then waiting on the check for us to disperse. Headed for the train and home to get some sleep.

So for those wondering how I was with the whole BF thing, I was perfectly fine. I didn't really interact with the guy so I can't really formulate an opinion of him. But, I will say that after being at a table surrounded by people either paired off or who already knew each other, I decided time had come to maybe try and do something about my own situation. We'll see how that works out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

NYCC 2010

Why is it no matter how long I plan for NYCC it still ends up being a last minute scramble? I was making a list of all the creators I wanted to see and get autographs from, but ended up not being able to dig out all the books I was planning. Instead I ended up re-buying some books from some of them to have signed there. Which is fine; that's usually what I like to do anyway.

Because I had the table, I decided to drive in on Friday. That turned out to be a big mistake. For one thing, our booth somehow ended up with a table...first time ever. For another thing, all the free parking surrounding the Javitz is now commercial. I ended up having to park in a garage two blocks away. Ended up only $30 so it wasn't too bad, but still. At least I didn't have to for Sunday.

Spent Friday setting up the table and then visiting all my colleagues scattered throughout. I know I promised to lay off the discount bins, but yeah, that didn't happen. I did keep myself somewhat restrained, though. AND I had a luggage cart I bought from D&D Thursday so hauling it home wasn't so bad. That night, a bunch of us went out to dinner with the Free Lunch guys. It was intended to discuss the future of CAG, but Twins was too loud and we were all distracted by the visitation of a cockroach, so that didn't happen. We'll have to revisit that later.

Saturday I made some additional rounds and purchased some more poster artwork. Figured get that over with today so I didn't have to risk damaging them with bringing all the supplies home. Worked the table some, met some newish members, shmoozed a bit. The highlight of the day, though, was meeting one of my colleague's friends. She came to help promote his books before wandering the show with him. She was nothing short of beautiful, let me tell you. I ended up going to lunch with her and we had a great time. If I had any success at all in that area I might've tried asking her out, but as such let it ride. Had one good day, no need to mar it with a rejection.

A bunch of us went out to dinner again before some headed for home (like me) and others went off to the Indy After Party. A word about the party: for the last few years, CAG has been heading it up under Mark Mazz. Since Mazz is no longer involved, we decided to continue on with it, and somewhere along the way Mazz got himself tacked on to the reservation WE made at the location. So, it was decided to let Mazz incur the costs and we'd bow out, despite his putting us as a sponsor. I doubt I would have gone even if I wasn't already tired. Not on the list of my favorite people these days.

Sunday was more of the same. Me, Joe and James had a lunch meeting to go over the final prep for the awards show that night. Joe made a great powerpoint presentation for it, and we basically had it all worked out. The awards, given to us at the last hour of the show on the last day, an extremely pitiful timeslot, went pretty well considering half of the winners weren't in attendance, and neither was our guest of honor Andy Schmidt. But, we rolled with it and made some jokes. People came away entertained, which is good, and my faith in the awards renewed after a tumultuous ride to get there.

Fun show. I didn't get to do everything I'd hoped, but I didn't do too badly. Hopefully next year I can be a bit more prepared for the show.

...Eh, who am I kidding? Rock on!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

HOMEWARD BOUND

Woke up, checked my mail, had "breakfast" and packed. I left around noon and headed downtown to check out the MLK memorial. Now, this was some memorial. The memorial proper spans about two square blocks north and south. On the north side is a museum about King, a Gahndi statue, and a civil rights walk with names of proponents of the civil rights movement. South is the grave site, which is a stone coffin on an island in the middle of a giant reflecting pool. Fountains and everything. But, that's not all! They preserved his ENTIRE neighborhood, so for the next two or three blocks you have it exactly as it was in King's day. Almost every house there had some kind of historic significance. Classy. In NY the most people get is a statue, and the least is a street renamed. I could never see anything of this level, at least not since Grant's day.

After photographing all there was to see, I got back in the car and made my way to the airport. I anticipated a complicated pathway like JFK or LGA, but was surprised to find everything straightforward and easily marked. Got to the terminal a bit later, and after a quick lunch to the gate with 4 hours to spare. I ended up springing for internet service, and the laptop still wouldn't charge. Great.

While waiting the opportunity came up to upgrade to business class, so I said screw it and paid the $70. I think I'll have to do that from now on, these seats are just too damn small for me. I had LEGROOM! A comfy seat! It was great. I could definitely get used to that.

Overall, not a bad trip. Not as great as some others, but not bad.

Monday, October 04, 2010

RETRACING STEPS

D had come down to GA for a medical conference a few months ago and told me how Atlanta had surprisingly little to offer. He wasn't kidding! At least where I was.

Today involved a lot of aimless wandering. I headed down to the capitol building to continue my collection of capitol pictures, then walked along to Atlanta Underground nearby. Atlanta Underground is a former railroad viaduct converted into a shopping area. It's like a virtual city under the city. Store fronts, lamp posts, sidewalks, fire hydrants, and remnants from the past...including a crap load of historical cars parked all over! It was neat, I loved it. Unfortunately I found the several souvenir shops lacking in decent souvenirs. I mean, there were one or two good items, but nothing I could take on the plane, much like at the aquarium.

Passing a few more panhandlers and some nice streets, I went back to World of Coke to see the things I missed the first time: the production line, the history of its creation, and the 4D movie to discover the secret formula (4D meaning it was 3D, the seats moved, and you got spritzed with water). Then I went back to the soda area and had a few dozen more samples of the de-lish stuff. I think I drank more soda this weekend than I have in my lifetime! Luckily my back didn't start hurting like it sometimes did when I drank a lot of soda.

I went back to the gift shop and started scouring for things to get my friends. Better selections by far, but ultimately still slim pickings in terms of personalization. There were several things I'd've loved to get, but again...airplane security. So, I made do with what I could.

Thanks to a blister I got on my expedition yesterday, I decided to end it there instead of taking two trains to get to the MLK memorial after a tour of nearby Olympic Park. Caught the nearest train back to the hotel and decided to head on up to Subway for dinner, and breakfast tomorrow. Depending how I feel, I'll probably pass by on the way to the airport.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

THE HAZZARD RUN

Before my trip, I had mused how funny it would be to be given a Charger as my rental car, despite the fact I probably don't fit nor could see out of the super-sloped windshield (in which case I would've taken a Challenger...). But, instead, here I am retracing the steps of the Dukes of Hazzard in what is essentially a Crown Vic clone (aka police car).

Anyway, with the oh-so-reliable GPS I had, I decided to download maps of the areas and plot down simple directions so I would only need it for emergency cases. The problem with driving around rural areas is that street signs are often non-existent, too small for the speeds posted on the roads, or involve sudden turns down blind hidden roads. Even so, I only needed the GPS a few times the whole trip.

Started off in Loganville with the Duke farm. The farmhouse was basically a shack given some extensions for the show. The main body is all that remains and is pretty much in ruins. There's a still from the episode "High Octane" in the woods near the main house on the grounds, but I wasn't about to bother people just to get some pictures. Further on down the road was a bridge and an area used for a bust in "High Octane" and "Mary Kaye's Baby" on private property, so I couldn't get to them and really didn't think was worth trying to find a back way around to. Point is, I was there and got close enough. Moving on.

Heading down highway 20 I hit a grocery used in "Mary Kaye's Baby", and right across the street Cooter's garage and junkyard from "One-Armed Bandits." The grocery looks totally different than it did back then, but the junkyard has a distinguishing feature: an old bus, seen in the episode and visible from the gate. And by visible, I mean you could make it out through the trees and brush, but couldn't get a very good clear shot of it. But, I tried anyway. One thing I forgot to take was the nearby intersection where the General jumped a truck in "High Octane."

Heading on down I found Rockdale hospital, which served as the EPA in "High Octane." A bit down the road was the police station from "One-Armed Bandits," unfortunately the building had been torn down and replaced. It was either a collective office block or a funeral home now, wasn't sure which. So, I photographed both just to be safe.

My next stop was the big one: Hazzard Town Square, aka Covington. This area was used in several movies and shows, including In the Heat of the Night as Sparta. What's more is I wandered into a delightful bonus; a classic car show! The entire square and all the surrounding streets for an entire block were full of cars from every decade. There was a '69 Charger, and someone did have a Dixie horn (heard it twice), but surprised there wasn't an actual General replica in the mix. I snapped tons of car pictures, the location pictures I needed, and even a nice creepy-looking old Sheriff's office I could use in an idea later.

Once the business was handled, I stopped in a local cafe for some grub. It was a small place ran by an old couple and a young guy. Looked like it hadn't been updated since the 50s, and that when furniture broke it was never replaced, hence the sparse furnishings. The newest thing in the joint was the cash register. And the burger wasn't so much a patty as a clump of cooked meat. But, the food was good and the atmosphere was just fine.

Next came a railroad crossing and a house used as the Sherridan's Orphans Home in "One-Armed Bandits." After that was Oxford University where the civic club scenes from "Bandits" and the jump seen at the end of the opening credits was filmed. Going further north brought me to the Boar's Nest. I missed it the first time because in other Duke explorer photos, it still looked relatively the same. When I found it, it had been completely repainted and renovated. However, the church that had been there had long since closed as it was abandoned and windows smashed in.

Next came a bridge from "Mary Kaye's Baby" next to a train trestle. The trestle itself was much cooler as it was covered in ivy and looked damned creepy. Took many shots of that. It was at this point I forgot I left my glasses on the seat and got back in the car, smushing them. Took me a bit to pop my lense back in, and not even correctly, unfortunately. I'll have to fix those later. After that was just a series of roads and bridges involved in various episodes. By the time I hit Social Circle I had just about had enough, so I hit the highway and headed on back to my hotel.

After some rest and a Cary Grant movie, I headed on up the road to this place I saw during my lost moments, Checkers. I thought it was just a one-off place, but according to Chloe it's a chain around these parts. It was also not an eat-in place, take-out only. Sure, find that out on what turned out to become a pretty nippy night. Luckily, the car came with one of those adjustable cup holders so it could hold the drink I got (a Pibb, my drink of choice in the south!).

So, I successfully made it to almost every location used in the first five episodes of the Dukes. Tomorrow, I'll explore more of Atlanta and maybe get the surrounding area to the location I got there yesterday.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

ATLANTA RISING

Maps are studied, so I now know where I'm going. I also discovered the train was nearby. If I was smart and had sufficient prep time, I would have reserved the car up here, took the train from the airport, used the car for what I needed and returned it, then used the train for everything else. But, I'm NOT smart, and I had no prep time, which means I ended up spending a couple hundred more than I should have. Ah well, live and learn.

I decided to start off in Atlanta, but first some food! I spotted a Burger King up the road and said what the hell. Hell is right. Place was very discombobulated, the food undercooked, and the bathroom horrendous. I was lucky I finished in there when I did, because someone flushed the urinal and the place flooded. Yeah, not eating there again.

Took the train in to Atlanta and headed to the World of Coke, which is a big Coca-Cola museum. There are giant decorated Coke bottles all over, a room full of Coke merch, a room of Coke-inspired art, a live production line, a theater for old Coke commercials, two comedic movies about Coke, and finally a room to taste all the varieties both domestic and international. I'll say this much, Asia has some nifty flavors I wish would come here, but if ever in Italy do NOT drink Berkely. Tastes like the seltzer without any added syrup.

Based on Miranda's suggestion, I hit the aquarium across the way too. Definitely a kid-friendly environment, but some every nice room decorations. Shame my camera can't capture the awesome mood lighting. After walking around for a bit, I hit the Dukes Atlanta location and headed back to my hotel to do some work. Tomorrow: road trip!

Friday, October 01, 2010

SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT

Months ago I had planned to go to Georgia and do the Dukes of Hazzard location tour, and hopefully get to hang with my friends down there. Today was the day for everything to go wrong.

First, the weather all week has been horrible. Rain, rain, and more rain. Today was no exception, getting drenched as I walked to work. Luckily I had spare clothing stored and now know where to put stuff to be dried out. On top of that, the freight was gonna be late today so they were gonna try to have me do all the stuff that initially comes in for the route. Unfortunately, there was way too much for me to get done and still get home in time to finish packing and catch my car to the airport. Luckily they let me do what I could then bailed on the rest for someone else to finish.

Got home and finalized my bag over a lunch of Hot Pockets. I'd been agonizing over my choice of luggage 'cause of the carry on rules that could be in effect. I finally decided to go with my original choice and was all set. I was also determined not to work this vacation but I'd fallen way behind on my entries and had to bring the last batch of comics to do.

My car was an hour late. The original driver apparently got into an accident on the way. As a result, we were stuck in traffic most of the way and I got to the terminal with 15 minutes to spare. Then, came the realization: even though I booked my trip through Priceline by clicking on the Delta quote that came up, I somehow got placed on AirTran...TWO TERMINALS AWAY. By the time I was able to realize the error, I missed my flight (which I really didn't 'cause it boarded two hours late).

I got placed on standby since all the other flights were full and everything was weather delayed. I ended up getting on the plane after 10. Coach was a lot of fun; my knees firmly planted into the seat in front of me. The guy shot me so many dirty looks because he couldn't recline. Tough shit. If he made any comments I was in the mood to open the emergency hatch and throw him into one of the engines. I landed around midnight and then began the trek to the rental counter. Gotta say, this must be one huge airport: it's got it's own freakin' subway train!

I get to the Enterprise counter only to find nobody there at the 24-hour counter. After a few minutes of waiting, I talked to the Hertz counter and found out Enterprise was over in their stand in the garage outside. They apologized, caught in the middle of a shift change. I checked out the cars they had to offer and ended up getting a free upgrade because of my size and the inadequacy of the two cars they had left. Guess it helped that my guy was a tall dude so he probably sympathized.

So off to Doraville I went for my hotel. However, my GPS died before I got there thanks to dipshit not having the car charger where it should have been and NOT recharging the stupid thing. Having no time to study the maps like I usually do, I ended up driving around in circles in what turned out to be mere blocks from my hotel on all sides. I finally went down one street, saw the sign, and drove through the parking lot across the way to get there. This was almost 4 AM.

So, for those keeping score, I've been awake for 24 hours and my last meal was 14 hours ago. Add to that one of my goals, meeting my friends, wasn't gonna happen thanks to the other dipshits she befriended and so far this trip is off with a bang.