I took Amtrak from Pittsburgh to New York and back. The first reason was
financial - I unexpectedly got a chance to buy tickets to the Penguins' 3 home
Stanley Cup finals games, and the tickets for the second balcony cheap seats
were $130/game. By the time I had to make travel reservations, money was a
factor. The second reason is the idea of a consumer's vote: not spending money
to support a way of business I dislike, specifically the way airports and
airlines are run these days. The third reason is for a less stressful trip.
There was quite a difference between boarding a train and boarding an airplane.
There was a minimal ID check which might have had more to do with confirming my
online reservation. There were seats bigger than first class airline seats and
plenty of leg room and no seat belts. One thing I really liked was 2 AC outlets
under the window. If you brought a laptop, portable DVD player, or iPod, you
could plug it in and not run your battery down. I had my iPod and a charging cable.
Since last year's DaveCon I've had the chance to see the show on my own. The
main point that sticks with me after this DaveCon is how much of a difference
going with a group makes. Meeting up with everybody before and after the show,
catching up on what's new, hanging out together on 53rd St and bothering
staffers as they walk by, goofing around with Tony, Jay, and Walter as we do the
Mendez Show, saying hi to Rupert and asking him about the Jets, all of these are
as important as sitting in the theater and watching the taping.
Before the show: we saw Bill Scheft and stopped him to say hi. I noticed he had
a WGA-E sticker on his shirt pocket and I never thought to ask him about it. He
had it on for his video piece, but in the piece he held a videotape in front of
it so it was impossible to read or even notice.
The show: I sat between Brady and Dave Yoder up front facing the bandstand. The
perspective is very different from watching at home - the band is close, filling
most of your field of vision, the desk and guest chairs are at some distance and
the area at the far end of the stage where Barbara and Alan are is distant.
Knowing that part of the experience of being at a taping is being able to listen
to the band during the breaks, it was a good place to sit.
For me the first special part of the show was Johnny Dark's performance as
Francis Albert Lincoln. I couldn't see him upstage telling his one liners as the
bandstand was in the way, but I was watching Felicia react and she really liked
his jokes. Then he started walking downstage singing My Way. I knew the whole
song wouldn't be aired, probably because it felt like we'd already been there a
long time and there were still two guests to go, so I knew that Johnny was
singing just for the theater audience. He stood at the front of the stage and
sang to a cameraman right in front with a shoulder cam. So you could
simultaneously watch him sing in a closeup on the monitor (doing Sinatra
mannerisms) and on the stage. What really stands out for me is that he did it
all for the audience in the theater when the rest of the show (beside the band
playing in the commercial breaks) is for the broadcast.
The second special part was Teri Garr's panel. She was obviously so frail you
have to wonder what she had to go through just to get on the show. She seemed to
want to make the best of it, walking out on her own and telling jokes. On
another list, somebody compared her appearance to Warren Zevon's last appearance
and I see the similarity.
We made our way up to the stage to get out of the way of others exiting the
theater. While walking across the stage I asked Traci for a kazoo I could give
to Alan. I walked over to him and mumbled out a presentation as I gave him the
kazoo. His face lit up, he said thank you (and not in an announcer voice),
turned to face me, held out his hand and said introducing himself with a big
smile, "Alan Kalter." I was caught so off-guard by this that I don't think I
managed to tell him my name.
At the end of the Mendez Show taping I managed to get a minute to talk to Jay
Johnson. I asked him why full Late Shows weren't offered on cbs.com and he said
that CBS wants it to happen, Worldwide Pants wants it to happen, and they're in
I mentioned the dropping of the alt.* newsgroups by ISPs and asked Jay if CBS
would host a forum on the Late Show website. He said that Worldwide Pants
opposed that because CBS would actively moderate control the board.