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TODAY

Saturday, December 14

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Airbags

Even though I have devoured pop culture for three decades and counting, I am not much of a collector. The extent of my involvement with merchandise begins and ends with DVDs, for the most part. It's true I have an embarrassing amount of Smallville) memorabilia, which I hasten to mention that is almost exclusively made up of gifts from other people. I do admit to buying this t-shirt (in red) at the end of Season 1, but not the Clark action figure, the hoodie, the six — or is it seven? — posters, Clark's high school ID, or the Go Forward tag hanging off my entertainment center. (And so what if I'm wearing this as I type these very words?) However, over the years I have somehow managed to obtain several autographs from people with varying levels of fame. I didn't go out of my way to acquire them. They just sort of... happened.

Barry Williams
On: Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg
Legibility: good
Pen used: thick black felt tip or thin Sharpie
I bought this gem at The Brown Elephant for a dollar; it wasn't until I got home that I realized I snagged myself an signed copy. Like most children of the '70s, I have more than a passing knowledge of The Brady Bunch. Williams, who played oldest brother Greg on the classic sitcom, spills behind-the-scenes stories about his relationship with "sister" Maureen McCormick, his "date" with TV mom Florence Henderson, feuding between the producers and Brady dad Robert Reed, and the time Williams filmed a scene stoned out of his ever loving mind. He gets the other "kids" to share their memories as well, and it's a fast, fun read, thanks to Williams' dry sense of humor and assistance from co-author Chris Kreski.

Jared Padalecki
On: Supernatural Season 1 Promotional photo
Legibility: impossible
Pen used: silver lamé — yes, really
I've been lucky enough to meet several actors at what I call the WB level of fame, and I almost added this tall drink of water to that list last February. (I have attended several fan conventions, usually as press.) Padalecki was originally scheduled to attend the Fangoria con, and no one was more excited than a quartet of friends from California and Canada who planned to descend on my apartment for a fangirl weekend. I wasn't that eager to meet He Who Plays Sam Winchester, so I planned to stay at home while the ladies got their squee on. Little did I know that my four fabulous guests had all chipped in to buy me an autograph ticket as a hostess gift, which was very sweet of them. Unfortunately, Padalecki had to cancel his appearance because he was working. However, he signed 8"x10" glossies for every person who had purchased autograph tickets and/or a photo op with him. When we picked up ours, the guy behind the table said, "Oh, you girls were here for Jared, weren't you?" The fact that none of us were in costumes dripping with gore was a fairly big clue. Of course, if I ever do have the opportunity to get young Padalecki's John Hancock (ahem) I want him to scrawl it on this.

To Dee
Never give up!
Linda Ellerbee

On: Move On: Adventures in the Real World
Legibility: fair to middling
Pen used: black Sharpie
This is the only personalized autograph I have, courtesy of my mother, who met Ellerbee when I was in journalism school. I knew of Ellerbee, of course, as both a female journalist and the inspiration for the character of Murphy Brown. But until I read this book, I had no idea what an amazing writer and storyteller Ellerbee is. Move On consists of vignettes from her childhood, her life as a young mother, her struggle with alcoholism and her strained relationship with her children. I immediately followed up with "And So It Goes": Adventures in Television, her honest, scathing and hilarious account of her history in broadcasting. And even though I am nowhere near foodie status — I leave that to the professionals — I purchased Ellerbee's latest tome, Take Big Bites: Adventures from Around the World and Across the Table. It's another fascinating book laced with her trademark wit and eloquence, and each chapter has a recipe at the end. I highly recommend all three books. This autograph is my favorite.

To Jeff—
With Love,
Ally Sheedy

On: Yesterday I Saw the Sun
Legibility: OK
Pen used: black felt tip
This was a birthday gift that has provided hours and hours of pain and entertainment. True '80s fans will know that this is not the actress's first published work: She Was Nice to Mice was written by 12-year-old Alexandra Elizabeth Sheedy and became a best seller. However, this 1991 collection of ramblings is a cringeworthy odyssey that reads like a high school diary, complete with overwrought emotions conveyed via distraught language and little to no punctuation. Here is an excerpt from "New Jersey."

I gaze at the moon
through his telescopic eyes
shooting into different orbit:
craters, old white alibis
slipping in between the sheets
of our satin starry skies
encompassing the knowledge
of his laughter, fears, and sighs
I am complete
and mesmerized

The liner jacket claims it is "a courageous, affecting, and intensely personal collection of poems that vividly reveal Ally Sheedy's painful journey from child to woman." But as one review points out, "real poetry requires some degree of detachment and discipline, and that's what Sheedy's work doesn't have."

Congratulations—
Charmian Carr

On: Letters to Liesl
Legibility: good
Pen used: black felt tip
I won this at the Sing-A-Long Sound of Music several years ago during its first touring production. I beat out groups of people dressed as Von Trapps in their play clothes, as notes from "Do-Re-Mi," as band-playing marionettes, and as Nazis. What was my costume? Well, that's a story for another time. Heck, it may even be its own column. My first-place prize is a collection of letters from fans to the actress who played eldest child Liesl, who as we all know was 16, going on 17. It's a very sweet book, and Carr is gracious, kind and genuinely thankful to the people who have a special place in their hearts for the Julia Andrews musical.

Michael Rosenbaum
On: a photograph
Legibility: no clue, but I'm guessing sloppy
Pen used: Black Sharpie (that much I remember)
I got an autograph only once in person, and it wasn't even for me. A then-buddy of mine was having a rough time of it, so a friend and I decided we would go to Chicago's own Wizard World to get Michael Rosenbaum's — he plays Lex Luthor on Smallville — signature for her. Then-buddy had snapped a very good shot of Rosenbaum on the ice at a charity hockey game. My friend printed out two copies, and we thought we'd send the autographed one to then-buddy and give the other one to Rosenbaum. The convention was poorly organized; we had to stand in line to get tickets to stand in line for the signing. Hours passed, and we finally got to meet him. I promptly became tongue-tied. I tried to speak. Twice. And failed spectacularly. But I succeeded in my mission to score an autograph for then-buddy. Oh, and I also spent the entire afternoon with my online nemesis, who had no idea I was the same woman who had publicly pwned her in several message board battles. But that, too, is another story for another time.

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About the Author(s)

As a child, Dee Stiffler was only allowed to watch one hour of television a day. She usually chose Sesame Street. Today, she overcompensates by knowing far too much about the WB's lineup as well as pop culture in general. Email her at pop@gapersblock.com.

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