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Jeff's Autographs and Thoughts

I moved to the Rio Grande Valley 4 years ago this past May. I had collected autographs on and off since I was 7 years old, and with the lack of social life I have here; I've picked it back up again and made many great online friends and picked up quite a few new 'graphs in the process. This blog is meant to both share my successes/failures and if its important, what's on my mind.

Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The loss of a father

I first wrote to Tanya Vance immediately following Survivor Thailand, because while she was there her father was very ill, and she was fortunate enough to get to come home and say goodbye and put the past behind them. I hadn't talked to my father since I was barely out of high school. We never really connected, and due to a lot of bad circumstances, I moved away from home to go to college after graduating and pretty much never looked back. He passed away two Thanksgivings ago, and I never had that chance to rectify the past with him, and feel bad that there were no emotions going through me at all when he died; mainly thought to myself, what if things had been different. I guess we all have many different paths to follow, some that bring joy, some that bring sadness, and some that are just indifferent.

Be Kind to Animals

After moving to Arizona, the thing that fascinated me the most was all the different wildlife that lives here. I've never, in my many travels, seen a "Bear Crossing" sign; and I've learned through life, I tend to be more compassionate toward animals than I am to other human beings. I am much more likely to stop at the side of the road to help a lost dog, or wounded animal than I am another human being. I feel a bit guilty about that at times, but animals don't go to the side of the road to trick those compassionate folks that exist in this world. Two Survivors who showed that same compassion for animals are zookeeper Cindy Hall, who you'd often see paying attention to the noises and animals that were there in Guatemala, even to the extent that after coming back to the States, she felt like she left "home", and Jan Gentry who had a very moving moment burying a baby bat that had died. I know many people who have absolutely no concern or compassion for nature, which is a shame. It tends to put life in perspective for me as to what's important and what's not.

Frustration over quitters

Having tried to get on Survivor so many times already, one thing that has always frustrated me is people that want to quit when they get there. Of course, I haven't worn those shoes, and I'm not as much frustrated by people that think they can make it out there, then find its too difficult, but I get frustrated that the tribes don't vote them out, and Melinda of Survivor Panama really did a good job of showing that frustration, when Shane wanted to go home, yet she got the boot instead. Granted, Shane did change his tune, but I could totally understand her frustration! When I went to Dallas to try out at one of the live casting calls, it was about 20 degrees out and I was wearing shorts and a T-Shirt, waiting for many hours outside, and I was shocked at how many people that were appropriately dressed were complaining or actually left the line to go home; made me kinda wonder what show they thought they were trying out for. I still haven't got a call to audition, but stubborn as I may be, I'm not giving up!

The Redneck Comedy Tour

"Redneck" James Miller has got to be one of the most colorful contestants to ever grace the Survivor cast. He was hysterical about getting beaten by Coby in the wrestling-type challenge, had great one-liners, and definitely is not ashamed of being a redneck from Alabama. In his letter to me, he wanted help in getting his name out there, and if anyone is looking at this....James Miller NEEDS to be part of the Redneck Comedy Tour...he is definitely a funny guy with great stage presence.

Names the Same

When it comes to work situations its very easy for me to drum up conversations, and no one would ever figure out that there is a shy part of me that tends to show itself in social settings. I'm not the type of person who easily makes conversations with people I don't know at parties and other social settings unless I can immediately see a common ground, like a person wearing a T-Shirt from somewhere I've been or when someone happens to have the same name as me. It does seem kind of weird, in introductions, to say "Hi Jeff, I'm Jeff." But it does work in breaking the ice, so I guess if everyone was named Jeff I'd be doing ok socially. I'd always wanted to be a news journalist, so I guess following Survivor Outback Jeff Varner's footsteps, it could be the "Jeff and Jeff" show!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Its all about inner strength

I haven't updated the blog since my move to Arizona, and what a ride its been. Right before getting here I got my collage back from Jolanda Jones of Survivor Palau who has both inner and outer strength. The job at the Red Cross here is much different than Texas, and I have had to reach deep down within myself to start making things happen. I have a long road ahead of me, but remembering Jolanda's strength has helped me find my inner strength to persevere!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Autograph collectiong 101

I've collected autographs from a very young age, and unfortunately many celebrities have stopped signing for fans in fear that their signed photo will end up on ebay or for sale somewhere else, which has made it harder and harder for us true collectors to get authentic signatures from their favorite stars. "Grease" is one of those movies I could watch over and over again, and Barry Pearl who played "Doody" came up with a great way to accommodate fans and reduce the chances of his autographs ending up on ebay. He has you sign a contract stating basically that you will not sell his autograph after he sends it to you. I think this is great, much better than having to pay for an autograph of someone whose career you've supported or having to go through auctions and buy autographs from people you have no chance of ever encountering in person. I often think that the opposite would hold true though regarding in the mail autographs; the easier it would be for true fans to get an autograph from their favorite stars, the less value they would have for those that sell them....just my opinion, but Barry's way is definitely a good one and appreciated!

Great bluff, too early

For Misty Giles, being the first Panama contestant to end up on Exile Island, she did a decent job of leaving doubt as to whether she found the hidden immunity idol, but obviously not good enough as her tribemates didn't fall for it. I would have liked to seen her go further in the game, and I admire how hard she fought not getting the boot. She's one character I'd love to see get a second chance, and is a young lady with a LOT of potential to go far in life!


I really enjoy Lisa Loeb's style and originality. Like her song "Underdog", that's how I've felt most of my life about a lot of things. I don't think I'm the "most" anything, but can be good at a lot of things out of will power and sheer determination. Then again, that's worked for me as well. I've found the things in life that are harder to achieve are the ones that mean more when you carry them through. She's also a big "Hello Kitty" fan, which in vain I tried to get my friend Rodolfo to get on his new bowling ball...I thought it would have been a hoot. Dare to be different!

Smoked with Love

Being a Survivor buff, I'm pretty good at remembering catch phrases that the Survivors were known for. Silas Gaither of Survivor Africa inscribed my photo "Smoked w/Love" and I'm trying to debate whether or not that was in reference to something on the show or just a general saying for him. I was able to relate to Silas in that often times my confidence can border on cockiness, and he was one of the victims of the old tribe switcharoo, leading to the common life addage "never burn your bridges". If he hadn't have burned the bridges with Frank and T-Bird, he may have not been such a guaranteed target at the tribal shuffle; something I need to definitely keep in mind if I ever get on the show.

Autograph collecting and cast photos

Besides the entire Survivor cast, cast photos from TV shows I liked (mainly the older ones from when I was a kid) are another joyful collection for me. The hard part with cast photos is that often times (sadly more often than not) I get a few signatures then never see the photo again, so I've decided to go for smaller cast photos with less likely chances of them disappearing. Today I got John Schneider's signature on a Dukes of Hazzard photo, that's of him and Tom Wopat (much easier than trying to get the rest of the cast as well...I hope).

Monday, July 17, 2006

I got a friend named Jesus

"Spirit In The Sky" came out well before Austin Carty of Survivor Panama was ever even a thought, but for some reason the song makes me think of him. He had some of the best lines in Guatemala, left the game with integrity, and did a pretty smart move, by trying to make himself appear weaker than the other guys on his tribe in the first individual immunity challenge. Unfortunately, he blabbed it at Tribal Council and got the boot the very next time, but at least it got him one step further. He's definitely one of the classier guys to join the cast.

Granola, Granola, Granola

It interesting how often smuggling or inappropriately eating food has come up on Survivor. First there was Kel and the beef jerky; then Janet and the granola bar (I don't think she did it!). She was a classy woman and had no trouble admitting she was out of her element but kept her dignity and grace through the whole thing. She mentioned in her note to me that she didn't sneak it in, so Janet, if you're reading...I believe you! :) It really bites in life when we get accused of things we didn't do, especially when there are negative consequences, but as the old addage goes...Life is not fair...that pretty much holds true a lot of the time, so what can we do other than make the best of it!

From my hometown

I never realized that so many celebrities hailed from my hometown of Buffalo, NY. I've been a fan of Wendie Malick for many years and it wasn't until recently that I found out she's from my old stomping grounds. Maybe we soaked down a beer or two at some time. She is awesome at her comedic timing, her sarcastic wit, and an amazing voice. I'm glad to see her enjoying so much success in life.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rocket Man

Of any Survivor exits in the history of the show, I don't think there's been as an emotional tribal council of that of "Rocket Man" Dan Barry. He's a man of integrity and has a huge list of accomplishments in his life, that it was really hard for his tribe to vote him off, but he took it with class. I think its real cool that Dan is creating robots as a side venture. I need to get him to send me one that cleans house, especially now that I'm in transit to moving to a new venture in Arizona.

Undeserving? Who's to say...

One thing that's bothered me on "Survivor" is those players who get put in the role of "undeserving" by their tribemates. Keith Famie in Australia was one of them. But after all, he's the one who went and saved their camp after the flood. He had the sense to get Tina to give in in the first individual immunity challenge and proposed to his fiancee via video chat. So how he got deemed undeserving for the Final 2 is beyond me. Well, he got the woman he loved, has a successful cooking career and a lot of successes throughout life, so seems pretty deserving to me.

La Femme Nikita

OK, this is going to be one of those boring posts. I should be doing some packing and painting to ready myself for my August 10th departure to my new life in Tucson, but I figured I'd catch the blog up before I go. Peta Wilson was well known for her role as "La Femme Nikita" and I'm glad to have her autograph in my collection.

Risky Moves

The thing about doing risky moves in life (or on Survivor) is that they can really pay off, or they can backfire in your face. In Survivor Pearl Islands, Trish made a risky move by trying to get rid of Rupert early on in the game, knowing he'd be a big threat post merge, but Trish went out on a limb to get him voted off and it backfired in her face. I give her credit for making an effort though. I'm sure its paid off for her in many aspects of her life. Heck, being brave and gutsy got her on the show. She let the producers know they were missing out on a good thing on her first application, and it paid off for her getting her on the show. You win, some you lose some.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Stomach Ailments

Ramona Gray from the Original Survivor was plagued with illness early on in the game. Its ironic that her autographed collage came back at a time in my life when stomach ailments have been prevalent for me. Whether stress induced or otherwise, they're surely no fun, and often times there are consequences that come with him. I've learned to not let the maladies associated with life deter my progress in what I want to achieve, but have also learned that when a great portion of life's activities are bringing undue stress, its definitely time for a change!

Pride Cometh Before the Fall

In Survivor Amazon, Roger Sexton thought he had it all figured out. At the merge he thought he had his troops together and was in no jeopardy of being booted. Of course, he was wrong. Funny, how in life, when we let pride take over, and think we are in a position of power, things can change, and we end up with the results that were the exact opposite. This has been a very common theme on Survivor but never so clearly demonstrated as the episode of Roger's demise. Roger obviously has a quite successful life outside the show, and is a constant reminder to me to not let pride get carried away.

For the Love of a Son

Tina Scheer from Survivor Panama probably had the most air time of any first boot in Survivor history. And I can understand why. Tina has a strong character and the story of her and her love for her son that she lost in a car accident was one of the most touching stories on the show to date. I give her a lot of credit for forging forward, and I think she made a good example of making sure we tell those that we love that we do at every possible chance. Tina's a character I'd love to see get on the show again.

Because You Loved Me

Almost every time I hear a love song that touches that soft place within my heart, it usually ends up being written by the amazingly talented Diane Warren. With all the awards that are on her mantle, and the deep romantic sentiment of her songs, Diane has put thoughts of love and most likely brought a tear at one time or another to the eyes of many, including myself.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Where did that phrase come from I wonder? Hopefully, my thoughts are worth more than a penny! In Survivor Thailand, when it looked like the Sook Jai tribe was on the road to victory, things changed and their fate as a whole was in jeopardy. I did think however that Penny Ramsey may pull through and end up winning the show, but even though it didn't happen she stays in my mind as one of the best Survivor players out there. That's one of the flukes of Survivor, the best don't always win.

You Can Count On Me

When I think of Mark Ruffalo, even though "You Can Count On Me" wasn't one of his better known movies, its a title that sticks with me. I remember being younger and having very many of those friends that the movie title would be quite accurate about, but either the older I get or as times change, I've found there are fewer and fewer people in my life I could really count on. Thanks mom for bringing me up right. I do think to some extent we're facing a time where selfishness is king. Regarding Mark, he's one of those actors you can pretty much count on for great movies.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The yoga factor

I'd never really been curious about yoga until recently when Aras Baskauskas talked about it quite often on Survivor Panama. I had always just assumed it was a thing for women, but I hear more and more about it being a good source of stress reduction for me. I haven't really done much research into it yet, but with the stress of life I often experience; its on that perpetual "to do" list.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gossip, Gossip, Gossip

Shows like "EXTRA" let us all live vicariously through the lives of celebrities. Being an entertainment buff, I find them great for finding out what's coming out with music, television and movies, but they also show the down part of being in the public spotlight in that nothing in your life is private anymore. I think as much as we don't want to admit it, many of us enjoy seeing the drama that goes on the lives of others. Its all part of the human condition. Dayna Devon and Mark McGrath keep it interesting, and even though I don't get to watch "EXTRA" all that often, I do tend to enjoy it when I do.

The burning question...

Whatever happened to the hidden Immunity Idol in Survivor Panama. Terry Deitz found the Idol on Exile Island with very little effort at all, but kept it by winning more Immunity challenges than any other Survivor in the history of the show. However, he never had to use it so I'm wondering whether he got to keep it, or it sold for huge money in some auction. Maybe it got mailed to me? Hmmm..doubt that one. Terry was great to watch on the show, and another hommage to the idea of never giving up.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Top of his Game

The bad thing about Survivor Allstars is that the contestants pretty much knew who was trustworthy, who wasn't, who was a good Survivor player, etc, so it was more entertaining than anything. Rob Cesternino was definitely one of the Survivor strategists of all time. However, that seems to be a good sign of coming in 3rd place. I guess the key is to not let the other players know you're a good player, somewhat like taking the Jessica Simpson approach and then wowing them in the jury. But of course, then that may lose you votes in the betrayal area. These are the reasons I am just fascinated with this game.

Best friends...

Something I definitely lack in my life is a "Best Friend"; someone I can share everything with, somewhat like the relationship of Lenny and Squiggy on "Laverne and Shirley". As quirky as they may be, they can be themselves because they have that someone that will always stand behind them thick or thin. Kudos to Michael McKean and David Lander for bringing Lenny and Squiggy to life, as role models of what best friends should be like!

Just like in nature...

Just like Sue Hawk's rat and snake speech, another Survivor moment that reminded me of how things are in the wild was the "beanbag, football-like challenge" of Survivor Panama. Its also ironic that I would get Bobby Mason and Ruth Marie Milliman back to back. When Ruth Marie got the beanbag and was running back to home base like the gazelles we often see in those National Geographic specials, as hard as she tried to get away, she couldn't escape the clutches of the BobDawg (in this case BobCat would probably be more appropriate). As Ruth Marie was inches from safety, like so many times happens in the wild, she just wasn't quite fast enough to escape the stronger predator. It was definitely one of the more memorable challenge moments in the game for me. And Kudos to Ruth Marie for giving it her all!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Good advice, perfect timing

Some great advice I got from Survivor Panama contestant Bobby Mason which holds true to life as well as applying for the show is: "Don't try to play it nice just because you're afraid to offend anyone. Let it ALL hang out." Its funny how sometimes people who don't know you at all can give you better advice than people you've known a long time. If I have an issue that would be it to a T. Whereas its prudent to take other people's feelings into consideration, I take it to the extreme and make a lot of my choices based on being "nice." And I wonder why I get so upset all the time. Great advice from the Bob-Dawg!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Me and My Blackberry

I've never been a very technologically adept kind of person. I know tons of people have blackberries, MP3 players, IPODs, Razor cell phones, but I'll be damned if I have the slightest notion of what any of them do. When it comes to blackberries, I prefer the Shane Powers of Survivor Panama method. Make believe! It also reminded me how uncreative this new generation of youngsters are becoming. I remember as a kid not having all that many toys and had to invent games and toys to keep myself busy. That's definitely a negative, in my eyes, to so many rapid advancements in technology. As a whole, we start to forget how to be innovative. I also really admired Shane's "what you see is what you get" character; another trait that's rarer and rarer to find!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Looks can be Deceiving

People like Robert LaSardo remind me of a very common life lesson for me; not to judge a book by its cover. How often we look at people and pre-judge them before even getting to know them; because of tattoos, the way they dress, their size, etc without getting to know the person inside. I really try to pay attention to not do this, but like everyone else, I can be guilty of it quite regularly. I don't necessarily avoid getting to know someone who doesn't fit a particular image type, but if there are many people around, I tend to be drawn to people who dress and act similar to myself...hmmm...that explains a LOT! haha

Darn those ticks!

One thing I remember about Lindsey Richter besides her spunk to stay in the game was the big tick that bit her on her backside. No matter what I do, my dog seems to come home with a pile of ticks all the time, and no matter how I try to be rid of them, they just keep coming back. They are pretty foul little pests, but thank God the ones here in Texas aren't as big as the ones in Africa! And they said everything is bigger in Texas. In this case, I'm glad its not true!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes

Helen Glover from Survivor Thailand was known for rattling on about recipes to her fellow starving tribemates. I personally love to cook, when there are people to cook for and would have loved to get some of those recipes in my package from her, but glad I got the collage back signed! Maybe if I started eating at home I wouldn't have to worry so much about that inner tube growing around my mid-section!

Thursday, June 15, 2006


When I was younger I used to have tons of nicknames "NoDoz", "NoAss", "NoMoney", "J-No", "DodoBrain" and many others I don't even remember. As I've gotten older, I'm now plain and simple Jeff. Getting this back from Ryan "Ryno" Opray from Survivor Pearl Islands helped me reminisce to those days of nicknames...where does the time go!

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Survivor Villainess

Of all the female contestants on Survivor, none have gotten the role of "villain" as pronounced as Jerri Manthey. I'm probably one of the oddballs out there but I liked Jerri. She was loyal, and in Allstars, she had the other players read. She had a great feel for what was going on and toned it down quite a bit. Her ambition in life is inspirational, and no matter what is thrown at her, she persists forward to carry her dreams. And its obvious she has a sensitive side. In contrast to Johnny Fairplay who encouraged boo'ing, Jerri got hurt and left the stage during the AllStars Reunion when it happened to her. She's someone who's obviously been dealt a lot of pain in life, and may handle it by putting up a wall of "bitchiness." I've seen much worse!

The Survivor Villain

Jon Dalton aka "Johnny Fairplay" probably played the best villain on Survivor over any other male castaway to date. His story about his dead grandmother and his ability to grate on the nerves of his tribemates put him in full force villain status. But what is neat about Jon is he went onto the show knowing he would be the villain and when he'd get booed at the Reunion Show, he ate it up. He lived out his part. He'd definitely a character and someone that knows how to live life to its fullest.

Overcoming obstacles

A common theme in life I need to keep reminding myself is too not let my personal "handicaps" or stigmas get in my way of things I want to accomplish in life. When the stress beads are rolling off my head there are often times that I give into the "can't"bug and stop myself dead in my tracks. Chat Crittenden of Survivor Vanuatu was a good example of not letting things we can't control run our lives. He did very well in Survivor with one leg that he lost to cancer, and became a great role model to all of us!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

One of my "Wow" moments in life

When I was in Dallas, I went to the premier of "Sordid Lives" at the UA Film Festival. I'm the type of person that hates to do stuff alone, but couldn't find anyone to go with me, so I went solo. As I was buying my ticket to the movie, I saw Olivia get escorted to the restroom. I had my camera with me and asked a lady who was nearby to hold it and I was going to ask her for a photo as she came out of the restroom. She had been one of my favorites since I was a kid and I was nervous as heck. As she came out, the guards were escorting her back to the theatre and I yelled "Olivia, I love you, can I get a photo with you" and she said "of course, honey" (or something close to that). The security guards tried to get her not to stop but she did anyway, posed for the photo, gave me a hug and continued on. I found this photo I had of her so I mailed it for an autograph and was glad to get it back, and meeting her is a memory, unless Alzheimer's strikes me, I will never forget.

That voice!

Some people are more recognizable for their voice than their "look". Fran Drescher is one of those people. Her voice really annoyed me at first. But then I grew to love her. I get frustrated because on the phone people tend to think I'm a woman. I don't have a high pitched voice (I think) but someone told me its probably because I'm polite, but yet its still frustrating, but oh well. I was disappointed Fran's new show didn't make it. She is definitely a star that knows how to get people laughing and we can all use a bit more laughter in life.

Overcoming addictions

I tend to have somewhat of an addictive personality. If I like something, or it helps me with the day to day stress of life, I get hooked. Cigarettes, ice cream, computer chat are some of my addictions. I've tried to quit smoking many, many times with no luck. I made it six months once but it took just one to get me back hooked. Hopefully, I'll be back on that wagon soon. One celebrity who knows a lot about addictions is Robert Downey, Jr., one of the best actors of our time. Sometimes I wonder if the good part of his addiction is the ability to get totally emulsed in his work to bring so many great characters to life.

Star on the Rise

From his role on "Alias" to "Kitchen Confidential" to the recent movie "Failure to Launch" and now in "Three Days of Rain" with Julia Roberts and Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper is smoking up Hollywood and has that amazing screen presence and charm that lets me believe he is one of those stars to watch out for over the next year or so to become a Hollywood "A-Lister." Only time will tell if I'm right, but I'm glad I was able to get this signed photo from Bradley before he gets to big to deal with his own fan mail!


When I was in college at Pace University in Pleasantville, NY, me and some friends would regularly take road trips. Ocean City in Maryland, Montreal, Daytona Beach, skiining in Vermont (and other places), the Hamptons, but one trip we always talked about taking was to Boston to go to The Bull and Finch, the bar "Cheers" took place in. I still haven't made it there, or to Boston for that matter, but hopefully will eventually. At least I have this autographed photo of "Cheers" star John Ratzenberger as a momentum :)

"Huston" we have lift off

Funny to get an autographed photo from Anjelica "Huston" after getting back from my short trip to Houston, and going to the Angelica theatre to see "Kinky Boots" (great movie by the way). Anjelica Huston is a great actress. She always reminds me of the character depicted in the first 45 record I ever bought..."Dark Lady" by Cher.