Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jack has 24 lives

Watching 24? We never miss it. Not saying it's good, just highly addictive and sometimes laughable at the version of reality they try to pull off. We know that Jack can't die, and not just because there's another season coming up. So how do you think he's going to survive his current predicament of being exposed to the bioweapon? Was he injected with an "ancient Chinese secret" while they held him in prison? Does Jon Voight have a top secret antidote? Does he die and then come back alive later (like Tony)? How does he get out of this one, folks?

Dave Barry always has a funny writeup on the episodes, and this week it includes a poll on "WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF A BULLET EVER ACTUALLY HIT JACK?" Makes you wonder... ;-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Some Mandolin for Monday

Left to right: Jesse Cobb (Infamous Stringdusters), Andy Falco (Infamous Stringdusters and previous oftentimes Greencards), and Kym Warner (The Greencards). Song is Salt Creek. Instruments are all from local maker Collings.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grandma's notes to self

I've going through the trunks lately, finding all kinds of family mementos, and a lot of it is just the mementos of someone like my maternal grandmother. She kept spiral notebooks and endless pieces of paper to remind her of things (my mother did the same thing). Grandma (and my mother took after her in this respect too) was pretty much a sucker for every advertisement that came along whether it was pitched by a TV commercial, snake-oil salesman, a televangelist, the Farmer's Almanac or the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. Here's a cure for sores that apparently didn't work well enough to become popular.
Cure sores
Octagan soap
Mix with sugar

Ask Etheline about them water pills of what she ordered for me so posed to be cheaper if I can get them as I need them is trouble
700 Club. Pray for my legs & the big crick in my neck. Channel 3 I think.
Help in night call if need help 5493351
My sores on my legs is called stasis-Deratitis

Stasis *dermatitis* is what she meant, of course. She always had some really interesting spelling. My favorites were in a letter where she wrote about translers and santa peas (tarantulas and centipedes), but she was from rural Oklahoma and "translers" was how she pronounced it.

Etheline was her niece who had a sister named Ivaline (their brother was named Otha but went also by his middle name so he was always called Otha Wayne), but the two girls went by the nicknames "Ecky" and "Toad", respectively. Etheline is the name of a Celtic Mythological figure [more info], a daughter of a demon who gave birth to a demon-slayer, but I'm really not sure if her parents knew that. They probably just liked the name.

I addition to falling for ads and snake oil, she fell for the TV preachers. There were notes everywhere throughout her spiral notebooks about the 700 Club and the various things that they could help her with (having a more direct connection to God I guess). Grandpa was no better, he would send money to Billy Graham. For him it was more about having his name on the right roster than getting a special healing for his donation.

60 yr sence I was babtized
Sweet milk [and some quantities]
I want my neck crick healed
I want the leg trouble & artharitest Be healed
& my arthulitism
700 club channel 3
Harrisburg Ill.,
my trouble on legs, knees down to stasis deratitis
She called it sweet milk to distinguish it from buttermilk (also called "clabbered milk"), which had to be on the table at every meal for Grandpa. Once, when he found his buttermilk missing from the table set for a meal, he kicked the table over, food, dishes and all. Sometimes that good old Southern Baptist provided his own brand of fire and brimstone hell.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Purrsday Night - UFOs

Unidentified Feline Ovals?

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Three Tabby Cats in Vienna - -

WHAT'S YOUR RealMotive?

Well, color me not surprised. Why would they spend all that money getting people to take their quizzes if the only benefit they received was the comfort of possibly helping a few people change their lifestyles to more healthy ones?
[NYT: Online Quiz is a Window For Drug Makers]
If you've taken the test, you know that they ask not only a lot of personal questions (that can be considered health-related) and they get your email address - then - apparently they turn your info over to some drug companies... OK, I'm sure they don't just turn it over, they SELL it. Then Big Pharma can hit you will even more marketing campaigns for their Happy Fun Ball products that MAY or MAY NOT be the drugs you need.

Austin Lounge Lizards

Monday, March 23, 2009

SXSW Day Crawl Four


Above: a mural on the south side of the Mean-Eyed Cat Bar.
Below: the view from the same spot facing west.

The Mean-Eyed Cat is a really funky little bar and music venue. Here it is not long after it opened. It used to be a chainsaw repair shop and is located by the railroad tracks - and it looks great as a bar with its Johnny Cash motif. It used to fit in with the surrounding places until the 5th Street Commons wiped out everything nearby and all but swallowed the Cat.

The construction is further along than in this picture below showing what is east of the bar, but you can get the idea of how sterile the new buildings look. The condos share a patio with the Cat (where the arrow points), and they go together like pickled beets and popsicles.

Anyway, we finished the week at Mojo Magazine’s party at the Mean-Eyed Cat. First up was David Thomas Broughton, who is described as having "his own unique blend of off-kilter folk"... to say the least, yes. I might describe him as how I would imagine Crispin Glover if he took up being a singer-songwriter... as different as he could be and made us laugh out loud quite a few times. He was a hoot. Make it two hoots. And a holler.

The Proclaimers are a duo of identical twin brothers from Scotland. They had kind of an early 60s folk-pop sound that I liked. ("I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more")

Dan Auerbach
OK, (of course) I have not only heard of the Black Keys but have heard nothing but raves about them - but I admit that really wasn't familiar with the music. This was a HUGE treat to see Dan Auerbach (half of the Black Keys), especially at such close range and in a cool little venue rather than on a big festival stage or amphitheatre. Wow. I wish that we'd taken video, but you can listen at the (myspace) link above.

Shearwater, one of my new favorite local bands. This is Rooks. I also recorded Hail, Mary that preceded it, but Google Video is being uncooperative (it's too big for Youtube).

This is from their bio and does a much better job of describing them than I can do with my quaint writing style:
Hailed as "almost impossibly majestic and beautiful" (NPR), Shearwater's Palo Santo (2007, Matador), a suite of ethereal but oddly disquieting art-rock songs loosely centered around the life and death of singer Christa Paffgen (aka Nico), marked the Texan quartet's debut on the national stage. The New York Times named the album one of the year's very best, and the band's singular combination of sonic abandon and restraint, spun around the soaring, otherworldly voice of part-time ornithologist Jonathan Meiburg - drew comparisons to late-period Talk Talk and both the lovely and anxious moments of Eno's early solo work.
OK, I am hooked on their sound, but new to them nonetheless, and didn't yet realize that Palo Santo was partly about Nico. I loved Nico - I loved her deep voice, and thought she was incredibly beautiful.

The Mojo party finished us up for the festival, and we left soon after Shearwater played. Eventually I will have a lot more photos of all 4 days posted on my website (look for a Facebook announcement of that). We had a great time. The only disappointments have to do with not being able to be in multiple places at once.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SXSW Day Crawl Three

Jayhawks Day

Click to enlarge photos, as always. On the bus again today. At noon, started the day at Threadgill's, where they were actually having 2 parties, one indoors and one out. We watched Ray Bonneville (pictured) indoors while waiting for them to cook up a Garden Burger with fries to go (outside). He's a Canadian singer-songwriter who lives in Austin sometimes, and I sure don't blame him for choosing Austin right now with this gorgeous weather we are having.

Outdoors was a west coast band I found some time back on MySpace and liked their sound: Or, The Whale (pictured above). They put on a fantastic show, and another west coast band followed called Blind Pilot.

Blind Pilot brought some chuckles to the crowd by thanking everyone for coming out on such a hot day. It was maybe 80°, Spring weather here, not considered hot at all. Then they explained by saying they'd been traveling up north where it was freezing, etc. Anyway, both bands were really fantastic and I'd love to see them again. Not sure how often they make to these parts though. In between the sets on the main Threadgill's stage were short acoustic sets that were from Jackie Bristow (pictured) and Audrey Auld. Jackie is an Austin transplant from New Zealand and Audrey is an Aussie. Both were very good. Threadgill's (outdoor garden) is an extremely pleasant place to go and hear music - food, drinks, sun, shade trees, fried okra. We hung around just long enough to see Wavy Gravy come in. He's in town for the World Premiere of Saint Misbehavin', a documentary about him. We got our picture taken with him. The woman taking the picture at first was using her own camera, and of course, we made her use ours - and during this process Wavy said "This woman has photos hanging in the Smithsonian." And sure enough, her name was Lisa Law, and this is her site, do check it out. (Nooo, I'd rather not post the picture. I look as old and frumpy as he does in it, and it's not Smithsonian quality).

On to Jo's Coffee, South by San Jose!

Jo's is a really nice place to be anytime. Normally the back lot is parking for the San Jose Hotel next door, but they have music and movie events there regularly, including music parties during SXSW. It's very dog-friendly, and I couldn't resist this guy with his tongue sticking out. There were also cool kiosk shops set up, selling t-shirts and stuff, like the one pictured. At 4pm there was a band from the UK called Wild Beasts, and they had a good sound. One of the things I love about this festival is that a lot of the musicians playing don't really get to the States much at all, and lots of them had never been here before, (although not saying this is the case with this band) and Austin (during south-by) is their first impression of an American town. Also you hear a lot more accents on the streets from all over the world and are just as likely to meet people from Sweden or Belgium as Illinois.

Jo's had the volume and the subwoofer cranked to an unreasonable level (my gauge for that is whether it still hurts when my earplugs are in) for the next 2 bands: Hill Country Revue and The Mother Hips. Hill Country Revue had a real strong Allman Brothers vibe, but what made them stand out was the washboard plugged into the pedal board. Never heard anything like that in my life. Amazing. But very, very loud.

Our main focus for the day was to see Gary Louris and Mark Olson (Jayhawks) at 7, followed by the Alejandro Escovedo at 8. Alejandro’s show involved his 16 (give or take) piece orchestra, and was a pretty big media event, being filmed. He’s one of the most popular local musicians (and by that I mean popular in Austin) and his shows will always sell out quickly – plus he’s had a lot of success with his latest record, and frequently sharing the stage lately with Bruce Springsteen never hurts… plus this being a free show the crowd was packed in pretty good. I like Alejandro quite a bit, but we LOVE The Jayhawks. I would pick this show by Louris and Olson as the highlight of the week. The Jayhawks have been officially broken up for a few years, but these two and their harmonies are the essence of them. Gives me chills. We took some video, this is “Over My Shoulder” from the Jayhawks 1995 release Tomorrow The Green Grass. No earplugs needed.

Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra followed, but we only stayed for a few songs. The volume was back up to eleven again and my feet were killing me. Really, I wanted to savor the previous hour. A quick snapshot of the band and back on the bus for home.

SXSW Day Crawl Two

Morning (which starts at noon this time) was a little disjointed - went to 6th Street to Maggie Mae's Gibson Guitar Room where we'd planned to see a whole bunch of our local favorites as well as enjoy some free refreshment, but after riding the bus downtown, then walking 6 blocks to the venue, we were told that the party was for badges only - so we and some wristbanded folks were turned away. Oh well... considered the NPR party with Blitzen Trapper at the Parish but the line was *very* long waiting to get in... there were plenty more parties going on but nothing caught our interest so we hiked it back to the bus stop and went over to Whole Foods. They had Australian singer-songwriters playing by the main entrance, and that was not the only live music going on there. In the picture is a band playing at another entrance, right by the stacks of canned green beans and the shopping carts. Here are a couple of cute dogs that were on the patio. We chilled there a short while and had some healthy nourishment, and got back on the bus for South Congress.

After grabbing a free brewski at Yard Dog (Schuba's party) and watching a good band called Sleepercar, we went back to Jo's Coffee. Ben Sollee was playing there at 3:00PM, and we were so charmed by him that we bought a CD. He is sooo talented - wonderful cello player with a beautiful, soulful voice.

After Ben, our options were open so walked south through the shopping district, where you can find stuff you didn't even know you needed.

One of the many people playing music on South Congress:

Fran's Hamburger's was having a music party, and offering up free beer from Santa Fe (plus free hamburgers, which we don't eat). Saw 3 pretty good bands there (The Motion Sick from Boston, Static of the Gods, and Aimee Bobruk), enjoyed our beers with some excellent onion rings, and headed south toward the ME TX studios to catch a live taping. On the way there we ran across Peelander-Z playing outside Trophy's and there were absolutely the biggest hoot of the week.

They're a Japanese punk-rock band, and you don't even have to like punk music to enjoy the hell out them and their crazy antics, like climbing up into the trees. For their finale they took their instruments out into the middle of S. Congress and played there with cars going by on both sides. I caught it on video, below. The crowd is clanging some pots and pans that they handed out earlier, and it's muffled here and there when large objects passed in front (like cars for instance). It was a blast!!

Finished up the day at the ME Television Studios (Austin's own little version of MTV) where they had tapings all week, with the public invited. We got there in plenty of time, and enjoyed some free beverages (German Warsteiner Beer and a selection of wines served by a woman we knew from the wine tastings at the grocery store every week, plus soft drinks were available) and went in to watch Gomez from the UK. It was air-conditioned and had optimum sound quality in the studio. Really a treat. Walked outside and got on the bus right around sunset, got home to cranky cats and hurting feet, but a great day of music.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SXSW Day Crawl One

Started the day at KGSR's morning concert series at the Four Seasons where The Greencards started it off at 7:00 AM. (note that it's still dark outside!)

If you want a good seat for these FS shows, you really need to be there by 6:00. I was up around 3:00 (couldn't sleep!) and at the Park'n'Ride bus stop in time for the 5:30 bus, so it worked great. There's a $5 charge for the Four Seasons shows but that covers an all-you-can-eat continental breakfast: orange juice, coffee, tea, wonderful pastries, breakfast tacos, etc. After The Greencards, there was Matt Morris, My Jerusalem, Charlie Mars, Shawn Sahm (Doug's son) and The Gourds. The bands only play 2 songs apiece, but it's still a fun way to see them.

After going home for a short nap, MrB (who had to work the morning) and I headed back out on the bus again. We are now BIG fans of the city busses for events like these. What were we ever thinking trying to deal with parking issues? First stop was 6th Street, Radio Room, for the first Paste Magazine party. No free beer [frowny face] but we did get to see one of the hot new Austin transplant bands: The Heartless Bastards (from Ohio). Here's a pic of Erika. They are a hard-rockin' band and that's the best way I can think of to describe them.

After Radio Room, we went over to Red River to the Mohawk, but it was just way too packed so we ditched that, hopped on another bus and went to the Pop Culture Press party at the Dog and Duck. As you can see, there is no duck, but there are dogs a-plenty on the patio, and a few remnants of the St. Patty's Day party they held the previous day. It was a lot less crowded than last year, but the lack of crowd was a relief. No free beer, but there was a table to set it on, and a chair to sit in - also room to walk around and the volume was just right. This is the Handsome Family below, and we also saw Future Clouds and Radar, an Austin band with a bit of buzz.

After Future Clouds, we got back on the bus and headed to SoCo, where we saw friends at Jo's but really didn't listen to any more music.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

SXSW in progress

Having some fun, but probably no lengthy coverage of events, or any other postings, until Sunday at the earliest. Stop back by in a few days. (Sorry cat-peeps, Purrsday Night or Furbaby Friday will return next week)


Monday, March 16, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the P.I.T.A.

Here's some music to help set your head right. This is from the Sunday night MiLkDrive show at Momo's with Warren Hood filling in for Noah. It's a cover of David Grisman's EMD.

It's been a hectic and exciting week, including some excitement of a kind I don't like. On Thursday, I hauled both cats to the vet. Henry just needed a routine weigh-in, but I was worried about Jax and him vomiting clear stuff - a red flag for heart disease and some other serious problems. $300 in tests later, and it's looking like it's just a hairball problem. Well, I am relieved. I just deposit my income straight into the vet's bank account.

On Friday someone hacked into one of my sites and put some fraudulent banking crap there, (some was German and some Italian) the German bank security people were alerted, and in turn alerted me, the band, a well-known record label, a well-known entertainment promotional company, the Secret Service, Interpol... and I felt like all hell was breaking loose. After a day of nail-biting, password change and searching for the bad files, I felt like everything was settled down -- then the next day the stuff returned! So I got rid of it [AGAIN!] and now just hoping that security can be increased to fix this. grrr. It doesn't appear that they want to alter our site, just use our server to conduct their dirty business - and I hope they can be stopped - soon.

On Saturday I was tasked with finally getting everything ready for the tax guy, so no fun there, especially with frazzled nerves. My appointment is on St. Patrick's Day, and the pot of gold at the end of rainbow is going to go from our bank into Uncle Sam's. No refunds for us. It's been a long time since I enjoyed the soothing relief of getting a nice check in the mail.

I've also been frantic in figuring out our party schedule for next week. More last-minute stuff turned up today. Then, when the time comes, we will just wing it and do something unplanned. That's how it goes.

If you liked the music in the video at the top, here's another tune. This one is more grass and less jazz. The tune is familiar, but I don't know the name of it. Whatever it is, it's mighty fine.

Tags: - - -

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Pi Day

This is a cork pie trivet, a Pi pie trivet, to help celebrate March 14 (3.14), a.k.a. Pi Day. Now, we know that π r2 (pie are square) is the area of a circle, but a square pie trivet is silly because pie are round - or at least pie *plates* are round, causing the pie to be round, and pie-holes to be generally round too.

I learned Greek when I was a kid, and don't remember a lot of it, but can vouch for the fact that the correct pronunciation for the Greek letter known as π is "pee," just like the corresponding English "p." But, if you start talking about the value of pee or saying pee are square, people will think you are nuts or just generally to be avoided - so the correct pronunciation becomes the one that's commonly agreed on.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

March bands

Austin has this little festival in March - it's called SXSW (South by Southwest). OK, I'm kidding. It's humongous, huge, really big. There are 3 parts to it and they overlap days: Interactive, Film and Music. Film has already kicked in and the Music Festival officially starts on Wednesday, but the parties will be in high gear by Tuesday. The number of bands playing officially is probably around 1,900 and there are plenty more who will be playing at day/side parties thrown by magazines, record labels, PR firms, Rachael Ray, Perez Hilton, etc. They are mostly free, and many provide free beer and sometimes food while the music plays. It completely takes over the town. Yes. I love it and have been trying to plan my schedule for about 3 weeks at least. We are daycrawlers, unbanded and unbadged, wanting to see old favorites, people we wouldn't normally get to see, and people we never heard of before (new favorites).

Here are some of the best resources I'm using, as well as looking up people I want to see and trying to figure out where they will be and when. None of these list everything.

Showlist Austin
Done Waiting
Austin 360
Austin Chronicle
Oh My Rockness
Austin Metro Entertainment
Yahoo Unofficial SXSW
Officially listed parties
KGSR morning concerts

I regret that I will not be able to see the free show of the Decemberists and Gomez on Tuesday night. It goes too late and I am planning on seeing The Greencards at 7am on Wednesday (yes... AM) and it will involve city busses to avoid parking headaches so it's an early one. If you want to see the Decemberists and Gomez free, be at Waterloo Records on Monday at 10AM - one ticket per person.

Some other (free) highlights for the week: Gary Louris and Mark Olsen (ex-Jayhawks), Shearwater, hopefully Sarah Jarosz, Or The Whale, Ben Sollee, Hot Club of Cowtown, Billy Harvey, Fastball, sooo many more. Just reading through the lists of band names is entertaining, band names are just funny. Natalie Portman's Shaved Head. Shitty Carwash. Ringo Deathstarr. Olympic Ass-Kickin' Machine.

Yes, this town does celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but it's eclipsed by all the rest of it... or rather... it's mixed in. Hoping that great weather will be there as promised.

Purrsday Night - Henry the Cable Guy

Henry's new favorite place to sit. This subwoofer behind the TV vibrates just right, it's very dusty back there so it worries his folks that it will be bad for his asthma, plus it makes it extra difficult to medicate him.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - -

Monday, March 09, 2009

Chapter 3 - Oh How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wacki Woo

Here's part 3 of my low-rent travelogue that follows this one. After we were denied the opportunity to join my dad at Johnston Island by the Air Force, he was transferred to Hawaii in 1956 and we were soon to follow after being temporarily stranded in San Francisco waiting on the Air Force's "ride" -- I don't remember where we stayed or for how long, but I know my mother was HOPPING mad at the Salvation Army over something, I think it was because they turned us away when we were broke. I will also never forget her story about ordering some Chop Suey in a restaurant there, seeing something in it that looked a lot like a tail, and when she asked the waitress what it was, she replied "salamander."

I was about to make my first airplane flight, and it could have ended up being much more memorable (in a bad way) because one of the engines caught fire while we were over the ocean. Somehow we managed to land in Hawaii and it was not by raft or helicopter so disaster was avoided.

The video above (which is someone's modern video, but nothing has changed about it) provides the sound track for this post, it's one of the songs (with dance moves) that I learned while living there - and I may have driven everybody crazy singing The Hukilau and Honolulu Hicki Boola Boo... or maybe not. It really was just one loooong party where people wore their swimsuits all the time and were either dancing, drinking, singing, playing an instrument, or all of the above.

Here I am trying to play my ukulele with some of our neighbors.

There's my record player on the floor, add some refreshments and some Hawaiian garb and it's a party.

We lived there no more than 2 years and I was about 4 when we left, so I don't have the usual type of touristy memories. My mother and grandmother had told me that a praying mantis would spit tobacco juice in your eyes, so I remember trying to get back to our apartment when I saw that I had to pass what seemed like a giant praying mantis, so I was frozen with fear and couldn't get past him.

More of the neighbor kids, probably other military kids. That's me sitting on the ground. I've never been much of a ham.

I also remember being absolutely horrified at the sight of hot lava. I mean, how many kids get to see bubbling molten lava in person? I developed a great fear and fascination with volcanoes. I never visited another one, but found the story of Pompeii to be one of the scariest things I ever read.

My mother at the beach, looking stylish in 1956. She was naturally very thin. I didn't inherit that trait. She actually used to drink those weight-gain concoctions but they never worked.

You had to have a muumuu. I still have this one. It's probably valuable. All I need is a buyer.

My mother, dressed up and sitting by the Banyan tree.

I very seldom saw my dad when he was not in uniform, but here's an exception.

and here's me wearing the same outfit (not just a matching outfit - the same one)

Except for the gigantic tobacco juice-spitting bugs, the bubbly hot molten lava, and getting a really short haircut, Hawaii was one of the nicest places we were assigned to live. I'd love to go back someday.

The next Chapter will be about the Florida panhandle and living on a chicken farm. For previous installments, click on the "lifestory" label.

Going for broken

If you've been thinking of picking over the bones for electronics at Circuit City, it's good to know ahead of time that you might be buying a box of broken crap without being able to get your money back. Circuit City isn't letting people open and inspect the contents of the boxes that they are buying, and there are no refunds or returns.

...a little riskier than those pillow shams in the "fire sale" at Linens 'n' Things.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Push the button, Frank!

Tonight we're going to a live performance from the crew of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (MST3K) at the Paramount. This endeavor is called Cinematic Titanic, and it's Joel, Frank, Trace, Mary Jo and Josh. The other half of the gang (Mike, Kevin, and Bill) formed RiffTrax - so it still continues but we really miss the TV episodes. We even went to the 1996 Electric Bugaloo Conventio-Con in Minneapolis with some 4,000 other bot-crazed fanatics. We've been in a serious cutback on entertainment spending lately because of the stinking economy and all, but really couldn't stay away from this (so we will be in the cheap seats but still in the house)

If you don't know MST3k, it is worth a YouTube search.

We have a local troupe who kind of ripped off the concept of the show, and called themselves "Mister Sinus Theater," and proceeded to get sued by MST3K over the name they picked. It seemed really stupid to me, all they needed to do was change the name, and who really enjoys getting sued by your idols? Anyway, Mister Sinus eventually ended and went on to re-form as Master Pancake (now how hard was that to do, eh? different name.). The Pancakes (like the Sinuses before them) do live movie riffing shows with costumed sketch breaks at the Alamo Drafthouse (a.k.a. "the best theater chain in the world"), and the fundamental difference is that they choose well-known movies. A lot of the movies they pick are actually ones that I think are good and not what I would call riff-worthy.

I don't know what movie the Titanics will roast tonight, but I'm sure it will be highly riff-worthy, and I'm hoping to a meet and greet too.

ADDENDUM: This is the movie they did:

Dynamite Brothers, a Kung-Fu Blaxploitation movie with a *very* low budget. The show was great, and the Paramount was nearly sold out despite there having been practically no advertising at all. There was a meet-and-greet, as hoped, and I got to complete my autograph set on a couple of items.