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Celebrity Surprises at Comic Con

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One of the reasons the San Diego Comic Con has emerged as the largest comic book convention in the world lies in the simple fact that we happen to be exceptionally close to Hollywood. After George Lucas started using the convention to promote Star Wars all the way back in 1977, other studios followed suit and now the convention is one of the best ways for fans to see their favorite stars and get inside info about new movies and television shows.

As someone who isn't that interested in celebrities, hates waiting in lines (and getting stabbed in the eye), I tend to avoid the star-studded panels. Even so, I still ended up having a few celebrity surprises of my own. On my way to one shuttle, I ended up seeing Pauly Shore:

After the convention one day, my boyfriend spotted Robert Ben Garant of The State and Reno 911 (Deputy Junior). When I interviewed Scott Thompson (to be posted next week!), he said he also saw Thomas Lennon (Lieutenant Dangle) cruising the convention as well.

I also ran into Patton Oswalt as he was sitting outside the Marriott. He was nice for posing for a photo being as tired as he was at the time.

But all of my celebrity sightings were small potatoes compared to the major shockers going on inside the panels. As you've no doubt heard, Harrison Ford arrived as a surprise guest at Universal's Cowboys and Aliens panel. This was even more of a surprise not because he was escorted on stage in handcuffs, but because in the 30+ years that Star Wars has been a huge part of the convention, Harrison Ford never once appeared before this.

Image by Trevor Stolebarger of First Kiss Productions.

During the Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World panel, Michael Cera decided to fill in for co-star Cris Evans, who missed the convention to film the Captain America movie. To do so, he wore a Captain America suit loaded with fake muscles.

Image by Trevor Stolebarger of First Kiss Productions.

During the Tron panel, Guillermo del Toro announced that he would be directing a new movie based on the Haunted Mansion. Unlike the Eddie Murphy one, this 3D flick is slated to be a real horror movie.

Perhaps the biggest surprise occurred when Brad Pitt dropped by the Megamind panel with Will Ferrell and Tina Fey. People were whispering that he might drop by to promote his newest film since Angelina was at the convention promoting Salt, but they were humorously surprised to see Will Ferrell, dressed as Megamind, bring Brad Pitt on stage...in cardboard form.

Image by Trevor Stolebarger of First Kiss Productions.

Ok, I fibbed, a cardboard cut out of Brad Pitt wasn't actually the biggest shock of the convention. The moment that really sent fans in a tizzy was when the cast of the upcoming Avengers movie crashed the Marvel panel. Surprise stars included Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson.

Image by Trevor Stolebarger of First Kiss Productions.

For me though, I think the coolest surprise was the Machete Party held by Robert Rodriguez. The block party had a taco truck that was manned by Rodriguez and a dj. Some lucky party goers even got a golden ticket that allowed them to attend a Machete extended trailer screening and an after party that included free margaritas and tequila shots. In attendance was JJ Abrams and Danny Trejo.

Image by Trevor Stolebarger of First Kiss Productions.

In short, if you make it to Comic Con next year, keep your eyes open because you never know what kind of surprises to expect.

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Samsung’s Star Wars Vacuums Offer Everything You Want in a Droid
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Samsung

Hate housecleaning but love Star Wars? Samsung’s got the solution. In anticipation of December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the newest film in the Star Wars saga, Samsung has transformed a limited number of its VR7000 POWERbot robot vacuum cleaners into two familiar faces from George Lucas’s legendary space opera: a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader (which comes with Wi-Fi connectivity and a remote control).

In order to create a unique device that would truly thrill Star Wars aficionados, Samsung consulted with fans of the film throughout each stage of the process. The result is a pair of custom-crafted robo-vacuums that fill your home with the sounds of a galaxy far, far away as they clean (when you turn Darth Vader on, for example, you'll hear his iconic breathing).

“We are very pleased to be part of the excitement leading up to the release of The Last Jedi and to be launching our limited edition POWERbot in partnership with Star Wars fans,” B.S. Suh, Samsung’s executive vice president, said in a press statement. “From its industry-leading suction power, slim design, and smart features, to the wonderful character-themed voice feedback and sound effects, we are confident the Star Wars limited edition of the VR7000 will be a big hit.”

Be warned that this kind of power suction doesn’t come cheap: while the Stormtrooper POWERbot will set you back $696, the Darth Vader vacuum retails for $798. Who knew the Dark Side was so sparkling clean?


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Tales from the Butterball Hotline
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It’s 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and you just realized you forgot to thaw your turkey. What do you do?

Don’t panic. You just need to call 1-800-BUTTERBALL. Yes, the Turkey Talk-Line is real. And yes, they really do have poultry experts standing by to help you with your last-minute snafus, flubs, and foul-ups. If you wake up in a cold sweat at 2 a.m. thinking about salmonella or whether you can bathe your turkey with your toddler (see below), never fear—Butterball is there for you. And it's not just about Thanksgiving. The line is open in December, too, to help you with those holiday feasts as well.

When the hotline first opened up to panicked chefs in the early 1980s, a mere six “home economists” responded to 11,000 phone calls during November and December. These days, their staff has expanded to more than 50 and they answer more than 100,000 questions. 

Those staff members have heard it all, too. They get the typical questions you’d expect turkey experts to get, of course: How long will it take to thaw the turkey? How do I stuff a turkey? Are there any allergens in Butterball products? But there’s also the, um, unexpected.

Among the more questionable calls the turkey experts have received: “Can I brine my turkey in the washing machine?” and “The family dog is inside the turkey and can’t get out.” (It was a Chihuahua, in case you’re wondering, and the Butterball expert did manage to help the owners get the dog out safely.)

Another inexperienced caller worried that her turkey wouldn’t come out of the oven because she figured it was going to rise like bread does.

One Butterball employee actually stayed on the line while her caller walked through a grocery store and painstakingly picked out ingredients for his Thanksgiving dinner.

More recently, a hotline employee was surprised to hear from a wife who came home to find the turkey floating in the tub while her husband gave the kids a bath. Believe it or not, because the turkey hadn't been removed from the package, it was salvaged—though the kids complained about the chilly water.

Don’t feel bad if you have to call the Butterball hotline for assistance, though. Even President Bartlet knows when to call in the experts:

By the way, there’s also an option for those of you who prefer assistance in the form of written word: you can text your questions to 1-844-877-3456 through December 24. The company is also answering questions via its social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. And they've recently added Spanish-speaking experts plus their first male turkey-talker.

This post originally appeared in 2011.

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