Hurt Squirrels
7/18/2001 7:26 PM
I attended a book signing last evening. Okay, I'll admit it was a book signing by Bruce Campbell, film and TV star, and not some fancy-schmancy author like J.D. Salinger or Umberto Eco. Still, it's kind of cool and urbane to say, "I attended a book signing last evening." And personally, I find Bruce a bit more interesting than those other guys.

The whole event was scheduled to begin at 7:00pm at the Schwartz book store on Downer. I arrived at about twenty minutes to seven, which is a bit later than I planned. As I expected, the place was packed. Heck, even a little more packed than I expected. There was an area set up with chairs where people would sit during his talk, but those were all taken and mobs of people were standing behind them. I managed to squeeze into a corner where I could just about see him if I stood on my toes and people in front occasionally shifted out of my line of sight. With so many people, the entire store was hot, stuffy and stinky. Not the most ideal conditions, but at least I could here him.

He began by reading a bit from the book. Appropriately, it was the chapter on his dealings with fans at conventions and through mail. What he had written was pretty funny to begin with, but he occasionally added some extra comments that took the material to new heights of hilarity. It was great fun.

For the rest of the hour, he took questions from the audience. They ranged from the tired ("Are you going to make any more Evil Dead movies?") to the odd ("In fight between your chin and Jay Leno's, who'd win?"). He answered all with a sense of humor and honesty. While I didn't necessarily learn anything new about the man, it was interesting to hear his thoughts and opinions.

The signing came after the question and answer session. Bruce headed to the other side of the store where he'd be doing the signing while the rest of us awkwardly formed a line around the stacks. A large group went in one direction and another group went in another direction, determining where the front of the line was and where the end was. I chose poorly. After about 25 minutes of standing near the end of the barely moving line in that stuffy store, I decided to leave and come back a little later. It had been announced that he would sign each and every book no matter how long it took, so I wasn't to worried. Since I didn't live too far from the store, I just went home.

After an hour or so of recharging in air-conditioned glory, I headed once more unto the breach. By the time I got there it was about twenty minutes to 10pm, the store's closing time. Good Lord, the line was just as long! It's width was smaller, but the length remained. Apparently, others had the same idea as I did. Fearing I wouldn't be able to return after 10, I decided to tough it out. There was less people in the store so it seemed a bit cooler and I had plenty of books around me to pass the time.

"Hey Mark -- Shop Smart!  Bruce Campbell 7/17/01"...No, really it DOES say "Bruce Campbell"
Click to enlarge

Around 10:20, there was a bit of a ruckus towards the front of the line. As well all craned to see what was going on, Bruce came around from one of the stacks with a bowl of candy, tossing some to everyone in line. One guy was talking to his wife on the phone at the time and Bruce grabbed the phone and chatted with her a bit, slipping her a cool Bruce Campbell-esque "Hey baby, what's going on?" Afterwards, everyone was a little more jazzed up.

Finally, a little after 11:00pm, I was granted my audience with the wizard. He was still in good spirits, despite having signed hundreds of books and posing for countless pictures over the past three hours. We had a brief pleasant chat as he signed my book, after which I shook his hand and thanked him for the great entertainment over the years.

It wasn't until I got outside that I looked at what he had written. It said, "Hey Mark -- Shop Smart! Bruce Campbell 7/17/01." Cool. Evil Dead fans will understand it. Well worth the wait. I had a great time.

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