Science-Fiction Writer Kevin J. Anderson

Strange Man with author Kevin J. Anderson

Strange Man with author Kevin J. Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson (Web|Twitter) is the author of the only set of books I read in middle school: The Young Jedi Knights series. He’s also the co-author of, like, a thousand Dune books, and among his 40+ bestsellers he has over 23 million books in print. If you’re interested in science-fiction, you’ve probably read his work.

From my diary (May 28, 2014):

Over the course of the weekend [at Houston's ComicPalooza] we saw a lot of the writer Kevin J. Anderson whose Young Jedi Knight series I gobbled up in Middle School. In our few exchanges I asked how he managed to be so prolific and he answered simply, “I’m always writing.” He then proceeded to tell me about how he dictated a chapter on his drive to the Denver airport, which he immediately sent out to be transcribed, and then spent the flight editing two other chapters. He says he averages 2-3 chapters a day. …

My biggest takeaway from my time with him came hen I inquired about his method. Before doing any writing he carefully outlines and summarizes each chapter. He compared his craft to architecture stating, “It’s like a blueprint. I’m not going to start putting up walls and a ceiling saying, ‘Oh, let’s see what happens.”

I suppose this is why I spend so much time digging parts of me out of the rubble.

Kevin J. Anderson's Awful Giraffe

This was actually dictated. And then edited on the spot. He averages 2-3 giraffes a day.

 

Political Strategist David Plouffe

David Plouffe

David Plouffe (wiki|twitter) is the reason why Barack Obama is President of the United States. He’s also the top political strategist of our time having steered Obama’s underdog campaign from Iowa to Election Day. All of this he details in his best-selling book, The Audacity to Win.

In addition to building, according to Barack Obama, “the best political campaign … in the history of the United States of America,” Plouffe has also served as the Senior Advisor to the President (2011-13). He is now a contributor to ABC News. He has better things to do than draw giraffes.

David Plouffe's Pretty Awful Giraffe

[Special Thanks to Andrew Showalter who ran into Plouffe in Cannon Falls, MN, August 2011].

Actor, Writer and Greek God Kevin Sorbo

Kevin Sorbo, Greek God.

Kevin Sorbo (web|wiki) is an actor, writer, and the nicest Greek God I’ve ever met. Born in Mound, MN, he attended Minnesota State University Moorhead before he realized he could do literally anything else – and so he went west. There he became famous for the title role in Hercules: The Legendary Journey (’95-’99) and, later, as … someone… in Andromeda (’00-’05).

When I met Mr. Sorbo at the 2011 Twin Cities Book Festival speaking about his memoir True Strength, I’ll admit that I expected the worst. Even as an outsider I knew him only as “Hercules” and presumed he, like a long list of others in similar positions, would actively distance himself from the role(s) that made him famous. Oh was I wrong. Leaning on the podium, unscripted, Mr. Sorbo casually chatted with the audience, gladly answering the questions fired at him ranging from “What was it like to have a stroke – and how did it affect your sex life?” to “Tell us about Kull the Conquerer”, which isn’t even a question.

I can only imagine what kind of questions he gets at conventions.

Enjoy!

Why this giraffe has a water hose for a leg, I don’t know. (I’ll let this disability modulation slide, though, since Mr. Sorbo is such a nice guy).

Actor Josh Hartnett Cannot Draw A Giraffe

Actor and Teen Hartthrob Josh Hartnett

Josh Hartnett

Actor and Modern Adonis Josh Hartnett

Josh Hartnett (Wiki) is an actor and producer from St. Paul, MN, who is perhaps best known for his roles in Pearl Harber, O, 40 Days and 40 Nights, and 30 Days of Night. When he isn’t acting, he enjoys his long walks on the beach being the reincarnation of Adonis, the Greek God of beauty and desire.

Over his lifetime he has been voted one of Teen People‘s “21 Hottest Stars Under 21″ and, later, one of its “25 Hottest Stars Under 25.” Not-Teen People magazine voted him one of the “50 Most Beautiful People” before Bliss clarified this by stating he is the “3rd Sexiest Male.” If that’s still not enough for you, unnecessarily-skeptical reader: PETA voted him the “Sexiest Vegetarian Alive.”

When Mr. Hartnett isn’t out being beautiful, he is also an activist. For example, in 2012, he did a lot of work for the Obama Presidential Campaign in Minnesota, which is where this giraffe comes from.

Now, if I may let you in on a little secret, friend: Growing up, I wanted to be Josh Hartnett. I loved him in The Faculty and – cards on the table – have a thing for Minnesota Joshs. So, it warms my hart seeing our life journeys come together like this. While he’s off being nominated for Teen Choice Awards here I am capitalizing upon it able to be a part of it …  *wistful sigh*

[Courtesy of the wonderful Stacey Rosana of Minnesota].

Senator Tammy Baldwin Awful Giraffe

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI-D)

Senator Tammy Baldwin (Web|Twitter) is the junior U.S. Senator for the cheesy state of Wisconsin. Prior to her 2012 election, she served seven terms in Congress representing Wisconsin’s 2nd district. A progressive champion, she is also the first openly-gay U.S. senator in history, which is pretty cool. I guess.

On April 20, 2013, Senator Baldwin was the keynote speaker at the Second Annual Humphrey-Mondale Dinner in Minneapolis, MN. Following her speech, I squeezed through the crowd where I nervously made the holy ask. To my surprise, without any hesitation or question whatsoever — BOOM!

Seriously, she was completely unfazed.

(Eh, but then again I’m sure she’s seen it all — she’s from Wisconsin, let’s not forget).

Senator Baldwin’s press team did not respond to my requests for comment.

Van Jones Pretty Awful Giraffe

Environmental Activist and New York Times Best-selling author Van Jones

Mr. Van jones

Van Jones is a Communist Czar, civil rights activist, and and advocate for what he calls The Green Collar Economy, which reached #12 on the New York Times Best Seller List. He is the co-founder and President of the think tank Rebuild the Dream, which is dedicated to “fighting for an economy that works for everyone – and in which everyone can work.”

Now, while I usually try to supplement each of these posts with a wild and zany story about how said giraffe I was obtained – I have no recollection of this story. This morning I just happened to come across it while cleaning out my unread inbox from *cough* two years ago. So, what I’ve decided to do instead is contact Mr. Jones for a public comment or see if he has any memory of this.

When it comes, I will post his response here. Until then, enjoy this picture of a tree … and a thing.

John Hodgman

Author and Comedian John Hodgman

John Hodgman is a comedian and writer whose most recent book is That is All (2011). Odds are you have probably seen him on The Daily Show or may recall the fact that he played the “Windows PC” on those “I’m a Mac; and I’m a PC” commercials. If those are the only mediums you know him from, I would encourage you to check out his contributions to NPR’s This American Life, which are actually pretty good.

Recently Mr. Hodgman (wiki; Twitter) did a show in Morris, MN, and even though I was unable to make the first two hours (I had to speak at a banquet) I was able to cut the drive back a bit short and make the last 45 minutes or so. Unfortunately, after the show when I was approaching him for a giraffe, my colleague Lucas Felts beat me to the punch – and what was I supposed to do? Ask for a second giraffe?

Please.

Let’s not flood the Hodgman giraffe market, now.

He's trying to look grumpy. I just have chronic grump-face.

So I simply sunk away, thinking that I would never get a chance to share a few words with one of my favorite comedians (I was actually invited to have lunch with him before the show but couldn’t make it as I was at the aforementioned banquet). After hanging around long enough chatting with friends, I ran into someone I knew who was Mr. Hodgman’s guide around campus and he was willing to let me into Mr. Hodgman’s green room  to get an autograph.

This is the conversation as I recall it; I assure you it is neither interesting nor funny. If anything, it provides insight into how awful of a conversationalist I am (hence this website’s ability for me to BS small talk).

Closing the door behind me, I leaned in to shake his hand: “It’s a pleasure to meet you, John.” As the words slip from my lips, my inner Southern Gentleman regrets being so informal. Who am I to refer to him by his first name? It’s not like we’re friends. I’m just some dude. Now I feel like I have to overcompensate: “Uh, well … I was hoping you could sign my copy of … The Chomsky-Foucault Debate (2006).”

He looks at it for a moment, silent.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t actually own a copy of your book,” I say. It was either Chomsky-Foucault, which is actually a pretty good read, or Augustine’s Confessions.

Studying the cover, “Of course. In fact, I shall sign it in this orange crayon that happens to be lying right here.”

Yeah, we’re clearly a public school.

"Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault ... And John Hodgman"

Unable to think of an exciting question, I remembered that he had referenced in his set the fact that he went to Yale. “When you studied at your own accredited four-year institution, what was it you studied?”

“I studied literary studies, so this isn’t exactly too far removed of what I did. I don’t remember this debate specifically, but it was this kind of stuff that came up a lot.”

“Yeah, well I would like to thank you for taking the time to sign my book. Also, I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your show … even though I didn’t feel as though there were enough Foucault references.”

Hell, there aren’t enough Foucault references in general.

“Oh ….”

“… So it goes, I guess.”

“Well, next time I’m around I’ll be sure to throw some in just for you.”

“I’d really appreciate that. It was a pleasure meeting you, sir, and I’ll be sure to get out of your hair because I know you have to fly out in the morning.”

We snap a photograph. He makes an effort to appear grumpy. I have chronic grump-face and can’t help it.

“It was nice meeting you, sir.”

“It was a pleasure meeting you as well.”

And that’s the time I told John Hodgman he didn’t reference Michel Foucault enough.

Also, it was when I realized that tea cup pigs are freaking adorable.