It was foggy on the drive down but the skies cleared out once we arrived at the UCLA campus. We had tickets for Jared Diamond, Mitch Albom with Frank McCourt, and Ray Bradbury (all the tickets are free and are used to control who gets one of the limited seats in the venue). Our first author, Jared Diamond ( Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse ) was at 2:00 pm. It was still early so we started out by walking through the vendor stalls seeing what they had to offer.
Most of the stalls were run by publishers and booksellers. There were a few religious stalls - mostly new age religions. The first stall we stopped at was for vacations in Alberta, Canada. Tending the booth were two genuine Alberta park rangers. This excited the wife to no end. You see, her friend taught her the Alberty Ranger song and here was a chance to have her picture taken with a genuine Alberty Ranger. So, as we were posing with Ranger Roger (Yep ... that's his name) the wife broke out in song:
Well, you get the picture. My eyes were rolling and I'm sure my face was turning red. Meanwhile, Ranger Roger seemed to enjoy it - especially the Sex and Danger part.
"I want to be an Alberty Ranger ... Live a life of Sex and Danger ... In the morning ... In the evening ... aaannnnddd at night! ... Ranger Roger wants to be an Alberty Ranger ... Live a life of Sex and Danger ..."
After the picture taking we went on a food quest. We ended up with some Tri-Tip sandwiches that hit the spot. It was noon and the sun was really starting to beat down. As we walked around looking at the stalls and stuff, we noticed that lines were forming in front of the venues. Doing some investigations we found that the lines for ticket holders usually start up to two hours before the venue opens. This limited our options. There was no way we could see Jared Diamond and Mitch Albom/Frank McCourt because the times of the events overlapped. We decided that Mitch Albom and Frank McCourt were a higher priority. The wife had even brought a copy of Frank McCourt's book to get signed ( Teacher Man ). The wife had reached her heat limit and took her place in front of Royce Hall (our third time here - The First and The Second) where the event was going to take place. I decided to walk around a little more.
There were a lot of people at this thing. About one third of the booths and events were aimed at children. My favorite was The World of Mr. Toast. I saw something that really weirded me out. A guy was pushing a stroller. Attached to the front of the stroller was a boom where a video camera was attached. The camera was pointed squarely at the kid in the stroller apparently recording every drop of drool that ran down the kid's chin while they strolled. Weird. I guess the guy was trying to prepare his kid for a world with no privacy.
I continued to walk around from one shady spot to another. I walked the Impeach Bush/Stop The Genocide gauntlet and eventually made my way back to Royce Hall and the wife. It turned out the wife and I were the first in line - possible the first time I have ever been first in line for an event like this.
The doors opened and we went in and found a good spot not too far from the stage. Mitch Albom ( Tuesdays With Morrie, Five People You Meet In Heaven, and For One More Day ) and Frank McCourt ( Angela's Ashes and Teacher Man ) came on the stage and sat in some comfy chairs and the show started. Frank McCourt interviewed Mitch Albom. Apparently, last year at the 2006 Festival of Books, Mitch Albom had interviewed Frank McCourt. Mitch Albom was very interesting. He had great stories of his life as a piano player/lounge singer in a small island off Crete, a journalist, a sports writer, and a best selling author. They went on for about 30-40 minutes and then they took some questions from the audience.
The event ended and as people headed for the door, the wife noticed that the authors were signing autographs for the people in the front row. The wife made her way to the front. A lady - probably the author's handlers - was trying to get the authors to stop autographing. The wife said: "I've been a teacher for 22 years, please ..." and the lady looked at her and said: "OK, but your the last." The wife was so happy. She now has an autographed copy of Teacher Man.
Ray Bradbury was scheduled right after the Albom/McCourt event but we were both too tired and we had seen him live before at a bookstore where the wife had several copies of Fahrenheit 451 signed so we decided to skip him this time. We stopped to get some ice cream from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory booth before heading for the Fowler Museum to use the facilities before hitting the road. We stopped at the museum store to see if they had anything interesting. As we were leaving, I heard one of the museum employees talking to a cashier - Her shaved head a canvas for her bright blue mohawk. She was lamenting not having tickets for Ray Bradbury. I turned to the museum employee and confirmed that they were talking about Ray Bradbury, called the wife over so I could get a Bradbury ticket out of our backpack, and handed it to the cashier. Her eyes widened and said something like "are you kidding me?!?" I assured her I wasn't. She thanked us profusely. The perfect end to a near perfect day.
It was fun. We are thinking of going back next year. Well worth the drive. Next time though, if the weather is the same, a hat, sunglasses, and shorts will be on the list. A few pictures can be found here.