Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's a "Sopranos/Book Festival" Weekend!

I can't remember if I mentioned it, but a few weeks ago I did a phone interview with Joe Pantoliano aka "Joey Pants" for the World-Herald. If you think you don't know him, you're probably wrong - he was Guido the Killer Pimp in "Risky Business," Ralphie on "The Sopranos," he was in "The Matrix" and just a TON of other stuff.

Anyway, he comp'ed me tickets for the fundraiser he was to appear at on Thursday in Omaha at the Holland Performing Arts Center. He did a great talk for the Community Alliance organization in their work with mental illness, then did a signing afterwards. I had him autograph my article about him in the Herald, then asked him to indulge me by letting me take a photo of him with "Forts"! Yeah, pretty cheesy on my part, but hey! when else do you get a chance to do something like this? I sent a copy to Kyle, my editor, who wrote back "Wow! Ralphie!" (We REALLY went to this so my son Chris could meet him - he's a HUGE fan
and has quite a few of his movies on DVD).


So that was Thursday; Friday I had a table at my wife's office for a fundraiser for the Stephen's Center in town. Sold a few books then drove to Lincoln for the opening programs of the annual Nebraska Book Festival, including a reading by novelist Kent Haruf at the capital building, and a writers' reception hosted by the Nebraska Humanities Council. Got to catch up with some familiar faces (and one of them bought a book!)

I was back in Lincoln again today where I had a table for the Festival, and also did a short talk/reading with other Nebraska authors. I sold a few books, but the best part was in making contacts for upcoming talks and special events. It was a long day, but great fun, especially in finally meeting Nebraska author Paul Johnsgard who stopped by the table. I had to tell him that he may have been partially responsible for getting me canned at the Durham Western Heritage Museum! Let me explain:

When we had new murals installed at the museum for a new Lewis & Clark exhibit, my boss was angered to see a colorful bird called a Carolina parakeet in the mural. "There are no birds like THAT in Nebraska!" he said. Well, a couple of days later I found Johnsgard's book on the wildlife seen by L&C, one of which was the Carolina parakeet! (It's since gone extinct.) I brought that up at the next staff meeting, but the old man didn't like being told he was wrong. He also didn't like it when I told him that all of the buffalo in the museum's buffalo mural were male, including the one that was nursing a calf! Johnsgard enjoyed that story, too.

So, a great day in Lincoln and the weekend's not even over yet - I'm thinking I might be going to Bancroft tomorrow to hear a speaker I was tipped off about at the Festival.

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