Thursday, April 21, 2011

No One Told You When to Run, You Missed the Starting Gun

Begrudging blogging. I'm still chipping away at "Mystery Project X"; have thumbnailed (laid out, sketched, and placed dialog for) about 80% of it and built a related model that'll prove useful later (remember how I built a spaceship once? Like that). When completed, I'll print out the thumbnails, put together a little package, and ship it off to Editor Charlie to see if he's interested in publishing it. I alternate between confidence that I'm creating the greatest work I've ever done and terror that it totally sucks and my career is over. In other words, the usual.

* * *

I had a birthday last week. It was nice. My favorite gift was from my girls. I mentioned before that my daughter Laura is a part-time docent on the USS Hornet Museum, an aircraft carrier which was the recovery vessel for the Apollo 11 and 12 missions before being decommissioned in 1970. Her sister Robin has since started working there as well, helping chaperone the groups (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts) that sleep over on the ship most weekends.

Also docenting aboard the Hornet is a gentleman who actually served on it during the Apollo missions, and who during those recoveries slipped away to shoot his own Polaroids of the events. Which is how I ended up with a CD of 36 never-before-seen pictures of the Apollo 11 and 12 missions. To me, that's as good as finding a new photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg. The best part is knowing I raised kids thoughtful enough to come up with a gift like that.

* * *

I laughed at this news story this morning about Emma Watson, who plays Hermione Grainger in the "Harry Potter" movies, dropping out of Brown University partly because her fellow students just weren't cool enough to handle having her there. Apparently she got tired of them shouting "Three points for Gryffindor!" whenever she got an answer right.

I'd like to think I wouldn't be one of those students, but at age 18 I probably would have.

* * *

A couple of nights ago, Karen and I went to see a friend of ours give a poetry reading. You heard me right: I know a professional poet. Ooooh, impressive! Karen and she became best friends when they met at age 13 and I wormed my way into the Circle of Trust when we all went to the same university. It was a good night that reminded me my life could use more fine poetry in it. Although, as Karen pointed out later, it's not as if I haven't dabbled a bit myself.

I was delighted to find that the bookstore hosting the reading had a copy of Mom's Cancer on its shelves. I've slowly gotten over my shyness about offering to sign books I find in the wild, but it's still a weird thing to do. And I was struck again by two things I've noticed before: 1) More often than not, the clerks seem totally indifferent--I mean, I wouldn't presume anyone would be impressed that one of their authors happened by, but maybe a smile to indicate I'd penetrated the montony of their day? I usually end up apologizing for bothering them. And 2), nobody ever asks for ID. I could be a crazy man vandalizing random books for all they know. Or care, evidently.

Anyway, read some poetry. It's good for your soul.

Now back to work.


Jim O'Kane said...

Brian, your story about not asking for ID during book signings reminds me of the ImprovEverywhere caper when they had a "Meet Anton Chekov Night" at a Barnes & Noble in Union Square, Manhattan. Hilarious.

Brian Fies said...

See, that's exactly the kind of situation I'm afraid of. I also wonder if some people were saddened by how much Walter Koenig had let himself go.

I hereby deputize anyone reading this who finds either of my books in any bookstore anywhere to take it to the counter, claim to be me, and autograph it. Doesn't matter what sex, age or race you are, and don't be dissuaded because my photo's on the back flap of WHTTWOT. No one will check, trust me.

I did have sort of the opposite happen once, when I attended the opening of the LitGraphic exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art, which included some original pages from "Mom's Cancer." I was taking a (non-flash) photo of my wall when a security guard stopped me. "Oh, it's all right," I said, "I drew those." "How do I know you drew those?" she replied. I pointed to my self-portrait on a few of the pages: "See? That's me!" She didn't buy it.

Mike said...

In my advertising days, I found myself at a Denver nightclub with a client who not only decided I looked like Stanley Myron Handleman, a fixture at the Dean Martin Roasts in those days, but proceeded to have me introduced as him from the stage. At the time, I was 23 and Stanley was 44, but in a dark nightclub with everybody drinking, who would notice such a thing?

I signed a few autographs, and women were asking me to dance while their boyfriends glowered in the background. I declined the invitations and got through the night, but somewhere there are people with Stanley Myron Handleman autographs in which his name is spelled wrong.

I imagine that, if I started telling people I was Brian Fies, it would be the same thing all over again. Possibly moreso.

Brian Fies said...

Yeah, the groupies are a nuisance. Luckily, Karen is patient and understanding.

Kid Sis said...

Double Dog Dare! I'll sign your books in the wild if you start signing Walter Koenig's...

ronnie said...

Re: the Apollo 11 polaroids, Husband is crying tiny bitter tears of envy. I thought you'd want to know.

sligo said...

late with a comment, but just want to say this: you have a good life, buddy.

Brian Fies said...

Sis: but then what would Walter Koenig sign? "The Cherry Orchard"?

Ronnie: I take care of my friends....

Sligo Mike: I am lucky, and have enough presence of mind to realize it.