August 10, 2019

That Time I Met Chuck...

I needed Zachary Levi's autograph. I've had this Chuck poster on my wall for like 5 years and something made me decide that it's time.
Yes, this is a screenshot from Amazon...
I didn't think to take a photo of my wall
before taking my poster down.
And no, I didn't just randomly feel the need for this one poster to be autographed, I have a wall-of-fame where I display all of my autographs from over the years. Including the people no one's heard of...

It was originally just autographed items, and then I bought a Psych poster when the show ended and I felt like I needed it, and I had the cover from a copy of the Rolling Stone that Conan was on that I didn't know what to do with (and kind of forgot about it for like 6 years) that I finally decided to also frame and display. When I started binging Chuck over-and-over several years ago I decided I needed a Chuck poster for my wall.
idk what's up with my phone and the lack of focusing... I cheated
on two, which I bought... but they came with a DVD/CD pre-order.
All three of these posters needed autographs. I figured that I could probably knock all three out by going to San Diego Comic Con, but that would be expensive to fly to, plus by the time I looked into it for this year it was already sold out.

When Shazam came out I thought that maybe Zachary Levi would show at New York Comic Con this year. He wasn't on the list when tickets went on sale so I decided not to buy them. It's possible he ends up on the list, but I didn't want to gamble $100 on that.

I knew that there was going to be a comic convention (Wizard World) in Pittsburgh, which would be more convenient than New York, but it's even smaller so that was a pretty obvious no-go.

Or so I thought. 

I was Instagram one morning and Zach had a video post that was at the top of my feed that started playing. He announced that not only was he going to be at Wizard World Pittsburgh, but that everyone with 3-day tickets would get a free Photo-op ticket! Some of the proceeds of the 3-day tickets then went to charity, so I think it was a combined effort to get people to actually come...

I flew out of bed to find my laptop to buy tickets. Though they apparently weren't in danger of selling out... I didn't know that.

I already had a Nerd Herd costume from 5 years ago so I bought husband a shirt and pocket protector and we were good to go. Okay, well I already owned two gray ties (not really the "right" gray but decided it wasn't worth $20 to get new ones) and I had to make us name tags.


We drove in day-of which was not ideal, but we had a commitment Friday night.

The first thing on the schedule that I wanted to attend was Jewel Staite's (Kaylee from Firefly) panel. The map of the convention wasn't that useful so we didn't realize that the panels were in a different part of the convention center.

So we walked into the convention floor. That's where all the autograph signings, photo-ops, entertainment and vendors (translation: merch) are. And they had a Delorean from Back to the Future, a bad Ghostbuster's car (it was an SUV when it's supposed to be a hearse), and a Scooby-Doo van. I would have liked to take a photo with it, but didn't want to spend more money.

The crowd looked thin, but this was our first comic convention, so we headed to Kaylee's panel to make sure we got seats. We discovered that we had to leave the main convention area and go across a sky bridge to get to the room.

It wasn't really that bad, more annoying. Also, because every time we left, it meant going through security again to get to the convention floor. There was no security for the panels.

No, there was no trouble getting seats. We did at some point ask if this is how most conventions are and it was confirmed that the turnout was particularly bad. I know he was Shazaam, but Zachary Levi was the most famous person there, but still not very famous. The Chicago Wizard World is having Aqua Man so that's probably going to be a lot better.

I didn't mind the lack of people, I just felt sad for all the vendors and guests who traveled to be there.  There weren't that many costumes either. There were a fair amount of Buy More/Nerd Herd, Shazaam, and Tangled costumes, and then

Anyway. Kaylee's panel was fun. It was very laid back. I just wanted her to talk about Firefly, but didn't actually have any questions. She talked a lot about her kid and working while being a mom and stuff. It would have been nice to get her autograph, but, again we didn't want to spend more money.

So we headed back to the convention floor. Went through security again which luckily was a breeze because of the low attendance. Chuck was currently scheduled to sign autographs so we got in line. And yes, this did cost extra. I wasn't originally going to pay for the autograph. It was kind of a lot ($80; though Aqua Man is charging $125).

I'd thought I could be happy just with a photo with him. But then I Googled what these photo-ops are like and it made me nervous about even doing it at all... not that I was just NOT going to go anymore. The two things I read online said that the celebs (Nathan Fillion & Stan Lee) just stood (and sat) there, stared at the camera and smiled for the photo. The girl that met Nathan said that she said "hi" and "thank you" and he didn't respond or acknowledge her existence.

So between the fear of my photo-op with Chuck going like that, and also going all that way and spending not-the-smallest amount of money, I decided that I would regret it if I didn't get my autograph. Plus I felt like he would have to at least talk to me a little there.

The line took kind of a long time, but that's because Zach actually was taking time to meet everyone, answer a couple of questions (I didn't have any), and chat with them for a bit. Since I didn't have any questions, I showed him a photo of our Prius with its Nerd Herd license plate. I now wish that we'd already done the decal on it, but whatcha gonna do?
This is obviously not my car. This is the one from
the show (Chuck on the right), for your reference. 
We're not doing the whole car, just going for the effect, but I love it.
It's not done yet. This is photoshopped. 
Getting to have a Nerd Herder was how Husband talked me into letting him buy a red car. Also, it's really good on gas and stuff. Oh, and Husband had already agreed to let me get us NRD HRD license plates for our other three cars before asking if we could buy this car... So, how was I supposed to say no?

Anyway...

Yes, so we stood in line. We only bought one autograph (didn't want-or-need more) so I wasn't sure if Husband would be able to stay in line with me. He was! When we got to nearly-the-front of the line, a Wizard World employee was checking tickets and putting a post-it on the signature item. She also wrote our names on said post-it so that it could be personalized and we wouldn't have to spend 2 minutes of Zach's time spelling our names (not that ours are hard... but she did try to spell Husband's name wrong).

Then we were next! He introduced himself to us (like we don't know who he is, but it was a nice touch) and shook our hands and complimented our costumes. He thanked us for being there (translation: paying him $80) and I showed him my photo of our car. And then he talked to us for a few minutes about how awesome it is to meet fans because its how he knows that people are affected by his work. 
...Looking at this photo, I realized that the girl in it is in a Weinerlicious costume.

And then he fist bumped us and we told him we'd see him later. I wish I'd gotten to tell him that my costume was from Halloween 6 years ago, but I didn't think of it until it was too late.

He was so sweet and genuine that I was now excited for the photo-op and knew that he would at least acknowledge our presence (unlike Nathon Fillion - really disappointing to know that about him btw), but probably he would be even better than that. IDK maybe he's not famous enough yet to be a jerk, but I wouldn't think that about Nathan either.

We weren't allowed to use our phones (aka take photos or video) while meeting him because taking selfies (which, actually, he was coming out from behind the desk to take snap shots), cost another $80. 

But even without a photo of us talking to him, it was a delightful experience. Zach was full of energy and excitement that made it so fun to meet him, if only for a few moments.
There he is!

We had a bit of time before the last photo-op of the day which we would be going to. We tried to go to another thing, which was a cosplay workshop only to realized that we'd have to pay to do it. We didn't have that big of an interest in having a cosplay accessory we didn't need, so we walked around all the vendor booths instead.

There were a ton of Pop figures. It felt like every-other booth had them. We didn't buy anything because I either already had everything I'd want, or it was too pricey and/or we don't have room for more stuff.

The Cyanide and Happiness guys were at a booth and I very much regretted not having read the programming schedule more closely because then I could have brought my copy of Joking Hazard and gotten that autographed for free (probably?). I'd probably have bought something small if that had been a thing that I did. But I didn't have my game so we didn't buy anything from them either.

They had a panel too, which we would have attended, but I think it was at the same time that we were in line getting my autograph. Chuck was more important. It would have helped if they'd put an end time for the autograph sessions to be able to know if we could go to a panel and come back, but they only had start times.

Then we got in line for the photo-op. The line was longer than the autograph line and also didn't go that quickly. Two guys dress as Morgan and Casey were in line right behind them so we passed the time geeking out about Chuck.
I need to teach whoever took this photo about the rule of thirds...
Then it was nearly our turn and I didn't think to take a photo of what the set up looks like. I was maybe staring at Zach a lot (sorry Husband). There was an enclosure so that there aren't distractions for people whose turn it is and there was a very smart system for not wasting time putting stuff down and picking it back up: There was a table right inside the enclosure to put our stuff on, then we took our photos, and while we were taking our photos a lady behind the table moved our stuff to a table just outside the enclosure's exit.

And Zach was awesome again! He was really friendly and he did silly poses with us. It probably helped that we were in his show's costumes.

Since both of our 3-day passes came with a photo-op ticket we got to take two photos with him. We decided for one just normal, and then, appropriately, Charlie's Angels.
Except actually, Husband was full-on blinking the first time. But the people who were manning the printers said to go back around and redo it. Phew. I was literally just saying to Husband, "I wonder what happens if someone blinks." Because they snapped the photo so fast that I felt like I barely had time to make my face right.
He said he was doing the walkie talkie...  I guess that's a thing,
So we got to go back and take another photo. And when we were back in line (much shorter this time) we met two more Buy More employees!
It was so much fun meeting other fans.

The day was nearly over but since we wouldn't be able to return the next day I wanted to attend one more thing since we, again, came all this way and spend a decent chunk of money.

There were two sessions to pick from and we chose one by a professional Cosplayer, who talked about tricks and techniques she uses to make her costumes and specifically the one she was wearing.
I don't think she intended to camouflage into the backdrop.

And then that was it. We stayed over with our friends who live north of Pittsburgh and then went home the next day. But I've checked one of my posters off my list. And even got the autograph in person!

I can't recommend that you do the same to meet your favorite celebrity. Maybe research first if they are nice to their fans at conventions first. You might end up disappointed. Unless Zachary Levi is your favorite actor. Then definitely do it.

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