Monday, October 10, 2011

Stalking Alton Brown

Amanda paints the guest bedroom.
I know, I know.... there's still one more post in me about that Mount St. Helens hike. I've been a little distracted because Amanda bought a new condo and I've been busy painting, cleaning, fixing up and she's been keeping me quite busy. Hopefully I'll get that last post done soon!

But in the meantime, there's another distraction to post about: My stalking of Alton Brown. Alton and I have a history of sorts. I try to stalk him, and do it very badly. He ducks me, and does it very well. =)

Amanda is related to him. Her cousin is married to the guy. Quite the inside track she's got, right? I actually never even heard of the man before I met Amanda. A Food Network celebrity? Who watches the Food Network? I'm more of a History Channel guy myself. =)

So anyhow, my first brush with celebrity-ism was to be a family funeral. Perhaps not the best of circumstances, but Amanda's granny died, and Alton would be in attendance. I was instructed by Amanda that we'd be riding with Alton. Cool! My flight would arrive about an hour before Alton's flight, and then Amanda's flight would arrive shortly later. I was to meet Alton at his gate when his plane arrived in Charlotte.

But, alas, I got bumped from the flight. The next flight out, the next morning, was still possible, but I'd miss the funeral. So it never happened. I was stuck in Seattle, and Alton was "enjoying" the funeral without me. =)

But he's one of the family--surely our paths will cross again, right?

Fast forward another year or two, and you'll find me in Key West, walking to Springer Mountain. The nearly major airport at the end of that little hike was in Atlanta--Alton's little part of the world. Amanda called up her cousin, DeAnna, and nabbed us a free place to stay at their place.

But, once again, I missed Alton, who was off filming in the Caribbean or something. I don't know what he was really doing, but I'm sure ducking me was high on the list. ;o) However, I did get to meet  his wife (DeAnna), his daughter (Zoey), and his mom (who's name I don't remember.... Hmm.....) And I got to spend the night in their guest room. =)

I asked Amanda what she thought we could get if we "borrowed" some cinnamon from their cupboard and put it up on eBay. "This cinnamon comes from Alton Brown's cupboard...." Or maybe not.... Anyhow, who would believe that the cinnamon really came from Alton Brown's cupboard?

Fast forward another year or two, and then there was another death in the family--Amanda's mom died. Maybe I'd see him at that funeral? But once again, he ducked me. Allegedly, he was getting ready for some big anniversary show back in Atlanta and couldn't take the time for this funeral. I did see DeAnna again, however, but she left Zoey behind. Which is a shame because Zoey is absolutely adorable. Or at least she was--I'd imagine she's quite a bit older now. Kids have a bad habit of growing out of "adorable." =)

Alton does a little Q&A.
As for that show, we did see it on TV a couple of nights later, and could even spot both Zoey and DeAnna in the background as the credits started to roll....

Well, there'll be another time to meet Alton.....

And fast forward to today. I had just finished painting a couple of doors in the new condo and was on my way out when Amanda arrived and asked if I'd like to meet Alton.

Which normally would be a strange question, because I know he lives in the Atlanta area, and we were in Seattle. I was pretty certain she didn't intend for us to jump in a plane and fly out to Atlanta overnight, and I wasn't aware of anymore deaths in the family. A book-signing, perhaps?

Yes, as it turned out, he was having a book signing here in Seattle. Tonight. Amanda was talking with her cousin and her cousin happened to mention that Alton was in Seattle, so about 4:30 this afternoon, she told me that he was having a book signing at 7:00. Sure, why not? The only plans I had for tonight was writing up the rest of my Mount St. Helens hike. (Sorry about that, again....)

So off we drove to the University Bookstore. We got there about a half hour early and the place was PACKED with people, but Amanda assured me that there was another author scheduled to talk from 6:30 to 7:00. They were probably there for that.

Except they weren't. The other author Amanda had read online wasn't there. He was at a library a few miles away. Nope, all of these people--every last one of them--was here to see Alton. I've been to a few book signings before, but this one was like nothing I had ever seen before. And we were a half hour early!

"He's not even an author!" I whispered to Amanda. "Not really...."

The mob--at least the part that fits within
my camera's viewfinder!
The place was claustrophobic, and Amanda and I decided to leave for a half hour and get some dinner. =) We ate at Qdoba nearby, then returned at 7:00 just as Alton was beginning a little Q&A session. And the size of the crowd had more than doubled since before. OMG. Aren't there fire safety limits that need to be enforced?

Alton took questions from the audience for about an hour, which was quite entertaining, and he was very funny. I wonder how much of it are canned answers he's answered hundreds of times before. I can't imagine this was really the first time anyone asked him what his favorite plate was ("round--oh, you mean food?!)

Amanda and I chuckled when someone asked about what food he prepares better than his mother. "I've met his mother, you know," I told Amanda. Of course she knew that already--she'd met his mother before too. Zoey and DeAnna got mentions along the way as well.

It was entertaining watching the customers who walked into the bookstore who didn't know what was going on as well. Amanda and I were solidly in the back of the pack. Amanda had trouble seeing over everyone's head. I didn't have as much trouble in that regard, but I am taller than her. =) But it put us directly next to the entrance of the bookstore where people were coming and going the whole time. Invariably, someone would walk in and be surprised at the crowd and ask, "What's going on?"

Alton Brown. That's what's going on.

This would be the closest I'd get
to Alton... this time.....
One girl who walked in turned to her companion without having to ask the question. "That's Alton Brown!" She clearly didn't expect him there, but seemed excited to stumble upon the book signing.

Eventually, though, he brought the Q&A to a close and the signing began. There wasn't really a line--more of a packed mob. Surely, though, we had "connections" and could cut to the front, right? Well, okay, perhaps it would be morally wrong to do so. But good grief--if we waited in line, we could be there until midnight. In fact, we'd probably still be there RIGHT NOW instead of my typing this up.

I wanted to get a photo of the mob and went up to the second floor and got photos of the mob on the first floor. Turn out, Alton was quite accessible by sneaking around to the second floor. But still, it didn't feel right to try to cut in front of that long line. We watched Alton signing books and taking photos with fans, so I finally got a couple of closer-up photos of him. Amanda hung back further than I did, which is a shame--I kind of hoped he'd look up, see her, and wave us in. But he didn't notice her, and we eventually slunk away.

I may not have "officially" met Alton today, but I'm getting better. This time, I actually did see him in the flesh. =) Those photos of light that bounced off his skin entered my eye sockets! Next time, though.... there's always next time.... In a way, it would be kind of disappointing if I actually got to meet the man face-to-face at this point. =)


Tink said...

Loved this entry...when you finally get to meet him it will probably be a disappointment. The stalking is probably so much more fun...

T-N-T (TRH N T on AQ)

Rabid Quilter from California said...

What do you mean, who watches the Food Network?! I'm not ashamed to admit having a huge crush on Alton. Guess I'm just into geeky-looking, intelligent people who cook! He's also incredibly humorous (although he says he really is less so in person than most people expect). Knowing my fondness of Alton, Amanda was so sweet to surprise me with an autographed copy of one of his books a while back (he is too an author!). Really, Ryan, join the fan club!