A call from the David Letterman show doesn’t mean tickets: Be prepared

When the David Letterman show called me on my cell phone yesterday evening, I was in a shuttle van after attending a party at Gordon Gee’s house. Gee, the president of The Ohio State University was hosting a lovely gathering for Fred Anderle, a local public radio talk show personality who has just retired.

When the phone rang, I was intent on making it to the national touring company’s production of A Chorus Line at the Ohio Theatre, not at all ready for a call from the engaging fellow who called to tell me that I had a chance for those tickets I so wanted.

I had a chance for tickets until I blew it. Here’s what happened. Hopefully, you will not find yourself disappointed and left empty handed as I am.

Engaging fellow: “Are you Jamie Rhein?”

Me: “Why, yes.” (No one calls me on my cell phone except a couple of people. This wasn’t one of those people.)

E.F.: “This is the David Letterman show. You put in for tickets for next Monday or Tuesday.”

M: “That’s right. Any chance for Wednesday, though?”

E.F: “You can’t come Monday or Tuesday?”

M: “I won’t arrive by bus (I love Greyhound) until Wednesday morning.” (My plans have changed since I put in for those tickets.

E.F: “Maybe. First you have to answer a trivia question.”

And there was the problem. Even though I do watch Letterman, I didn’t know the answer to the trivia question. It involved knowing one of the jobs of a staff person that the engaging fellow mentioned. I can’t even remember the name of the staff person he said. See what I’m up against? I know it wasn’t the guy who holds the cue cards, or the big guy who comes out on stage and says he is other people.

Even though you’re only supposed to give one answer, I called out a few just in case. The engaging fellow told me that I might be able to get tickets the day of the show if I come to the studio between 9 and 12 a.m. The tickets are not a guarantee, but I know a friend of mine who snagged tickets this way last year.

As a note, if you come before 9 you’re disqualified. Here are more details for what you need to know about getting tickets. Standby tickets are also an option. From what I can tell, there’s none of the hiring someone to wait in line for you that happens at the Delacorte Theater for Shakespeare in the Park.

Before we hung up, I did try to prove that I am indeed a Letterman fan by mentioning the mug I have from Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli, an actual place located downstairs in the CBS building where I also bought Explod-O-Pop Popcorn, AND that I’ve been to Choteau, Montana where Letterman got married AND that I have written about it along with other Letterman related travel bits. The engaging fellow said he would try to pass the information on to Letterman. I’m not holding my breath.

Here’s an unusual connection, however. Yesterday I was talking with someone who looks A LOT like David Letterman. He said he ran into Biff Henderson outside the Hello Deli once and Biff Henderson even commented on how much the man looks like David Letterman.

I’ll try again for those tickets. This is the second time I got a call. The first time was last year and I couldn’t go. I wasn’t home when the call came. Third time’s a charm, right? There is always heading down to the studio to try my luck. I can’t do a stupid Human Trick, and our dog will only sit when we say “sit” so being part of the show’s entertainment is out.

In case you want to try for tickets the way I did, put in for them on Letterman’s website. I think I filled out the form a couple months ago. You can put in for three dates in a row. If I knew the answer to the question, I probably would have been able to get a ticket for that Wednesday, but maybe not.

At least I have A Chorus Line songs running through my head to heal my disappointment. “Kiss today goodbye, and point me towards tomorrow…”

Get a free ticket to a Disney theme park in 2009: Happy Birthday to you

If you head to Disneyland or Disney World on your birthday in 2009, you can get in for free. That is a sweet present indeed. What’s the rub?

There isn’t one from what I can tell after reading the rules. There aren’t any hidden tricks.

To get the ticket, register your birthday on-line and a confirmation message will be sent. Then, show up on your birthday with the confirmation message, a proof of your birth date and a valid ID, and you’re in. It’s that simple.

The confirmation message will be sent two weeks before your birthday. You can register now, even if your birthday is December 31, 2009.

There are a couple of points note. If you have a multiple-day ticket already, or are a season pass holder, the one day ticket doesn’t make sense. Therefore, you’ll be given some other birthday treat, and it’s not shabby. One choice is a birthday fun card for merchandise and activities equal in value to the day admission.

For more details-like exactly what you need as proof of your birth date, click here. If the ticket is for a child, you’ll need the child’s birth certificate. Keep in mind, kids under three years-old get in Disney parks for free anyway. Also, you can upgrade the ticket.

Although scoring a ticket so easily might seem odd, consider this. Who goes to Disney World or Disneyland all by his or her lonesome? Give away one ticket and at least one will get sold–probably more. With the growing trend to go on celebration vacations, Disney is making it easy. A theme park also fits a multiple age category where everyone is happy.

Here’s another point. Let’s say you live in Iowa, and your birthday is in the middle of the week in October and you’re still in school, or you have kids who are. No Disneyland for you. No Disney World–not for free. But, if you’re birthday fits into weekend, why not go for it?

Free public theater tickets in Central Park to see “Hair.” The how to get them and why I’m feeling miffed

An article I read in the New York Times last Thursday night left me feeling miffed. It explains one reason why it can be difficult to snag tickets to see “Hair,” the current, free Shakespeare in the Park Public Theater production at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater.

It’s called CHEATING. Clever, but CHEATING.

According to the article, there are people who are hired to wait in lines by people who don’t want to wait in line themselves. The line at the Delacorte Theater is one example of where this hired-line waiting cleverness happens.

And, why am I MIFFED?!

As a person who STOOD IN LINE with my brother and my 6-year-old son on August 6, slathering on sunscreen and sweltering, waiting for the line to move into the shade, but DID NOT get tickets, I’m annoyed.

Here is the saga. The good news first: My brother lives in Manhattan, therefore, I have the enviable position of having a place to stay whenever I show up in the Big Apple for a visit.

The smart news: Knowing that anything can happen in Manhattan, we had back-up plans when we took our spot after walking past the gobs and gobs of people already waiting when we walked the distance from the subway stop to the end of the line. Some were reading in the lawn chairs they had the foresight to bring with them, and others were eating a picnic feast.

The not so smart news: We showed up at 11:00 hoping for the best. Getting tickets can mean arriving in line as early as 6:00 A.M. As if, I’d drag my son to Central Park at 6 A.M. for an 7-hour wait. Hardly.

The way the line works: Tickets, you see, are handed out at 1 A.M. Depending on your spot in line, you can be done soon after, or be still waiting at 2 if the tickets or vouchers for tickets hold out. Although we showed up awfully late, a woman who works for the theater assured us that we had a chance. I call her Friendly Explainer. Friendly Explainer pointed to a lamp post past us in line and said, “People that far back have gotten tickets.”

She also pointed to a spot way, way, way, way, way, in front of us and said that tickets are gone well before then as well.

While we waited, another man with the theater–Helpful Guy, told us the procedures for getting tickets once they begin to hand them out.

Another woman, let’s call her Line Watch Dog, stood at the end to make sure that we all minded our P’s and Q’s.

Here are the P’s and Q’s:

  1. Each person in line can get 2 tickets.
  2. There is no line jumping.
  3. You can not save a spot for someone else.
  4. You CAN NOT LEAVE the line for any reason. If you LEAVE THE LINE, you lose your spot. It doesn’t matter if you are sweltering and feeling faint, hungry and need to something to eat or you will be tempted to eat the grass, or if you have to pee so badly that you can hardly stand it.It does not matter if the people you happen to be waiting with will save your spot. DO NOT LEAVE THE LINE for any reason.

My son did leave the line to go play on the playground close by, but he was whining so much from the heat and boredom of waiting that Line Watch Dog may have been happy for him to leave the line.

I also gave him money for the ice-cream truck that came by. As if it would have been possible to stand him if I had said no. Line Watch Dog may have even given him money herself.

Since I had already agreed to let him take off his shirt, when Sponge Bob melted all down his chest, cleaning him up with a bit of bottled water wasn’t a problem.

By 1:45 p.m. we found out we did not get tickets or vouchers to possibly get tickets later in the day. If you are given a voucher you can come back at 6:30 to see if you can get unclaimed tickets. I was thrilled to not get a voucher because, being the obsessed person that I am to get anything free, I would have been right back in line at 5:30 p.m. waiting in line. A stupid way to spend one of the only two days one has in New York City. It’s a big city with lots to do.

Why are there unclaimed tickets? Here is what Friendly Woman explained:

The Delacorte has 1,800 seats. Some of the seats are given to corporate sponsors, but on any given day, the theater doesn’t know how many of those people will come or exactly how many tickets will be available to the general public. Each day is a surprise.

Personally, I find it ironic that the public can’t really get all that many tickets to public theater on certain days because private donors get most of the tickets. Just a thought. I don’t think this is bad necessarily. It’s just an observation. As the tickets are being given out, they don’t know how many people in line will be taking one or two tickets.

Once the tickets are gone, a certain number of vouchers are handed out. If you get a voucher, you may get a ticket later, but again, they won’t know until they see how many people who have corporate tickets don’t show up to claim their seats, or how many people who got tickets earlier decide not to come and bring their tickets back.

And also, there are those UNETHICAL CHEATERS who hire people to show up to wait in line for them. The hired help show up at 6:00.

And that’s the story of why we didn’t see “Hair.”

Although, ticket luck was not ours to have, we did have a good time thanks to the ice-cream truck and the people we visited with who were also waiting. One of the women in line was asked out on a date by Kevin Kline when they were in high school.

Coincidentally, I saw Kevin Kline in Pirates of Penzance at the Delacorte Theater years ago when it was easier to get tickets. That’s what makes New York City a surprise. There are all sort of crazy connections.

Maybe one of these days when my son is older, we’ll pack breakfast, lunch, games, lawn chairs and books to read and show up at least by 7 a.m. in order to give ourselves a fighting chance. We’ll keep our eye out for the cheaters and give Line Watch Dog a hand.

The show goes through September 14, so you still have time. Since there are no reservations, except for the corporate tickets and Summer Supporters, you have a fighting chance. Be smart. Show up no later than 8 a.m. To be a Summer Supporter, you donate $165.00 to Shakespeare in the Park and you can get a ticket.

(The above picture is one thing we did after we didn’t get tickets. Walk to the pond, where sailboats glide and ducks like to be fed, to see where Stuart Little, the talking mouse had his victory ride in one of the boats.)

Yourdon, who took the first two pictures, did get tickets this summer. So, it is possible.

Fare Alert! Another secret sale to Buenos Aires

United just posted a secret sale to Buenos Aires, Argentina last night that has lasted well into today, slurpee day (7/11), from several corners from the country.

From departure points such as Los Angeles, Washington DC (Dulles), and New York City you can get to Buenos Aires LATER THIS MONTH for only about 600$ total. For high tourist season in the United States, that’s a downright steal. So if you haven’t got plans for the kids’ summer vacation, now is the time to strike.

Check your local airport to see if there are similar deals or cheap connections to a target city.

And don’t forget — it’s winter down in Argentina right now, so you might want to consider a trip over to the Andes for some skiing or maybe some time down in Patagonia watching some glaciers fight. You also might want to pick up a couple kilos of some of that delicious Mendozan wine and that Argentine steak while you’re down there.

If you’re worried about visas, American’s don’t need any pre-departure paperwork for immigration.

To book the ticket, use a flex search on Kayak over the next few weeks to find availability. You shouldn’t have a problem finding seats for flights later this month.

Happy Trails!

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with free tickets from Southwest Airlines!

Happy Cinco De Mayo! In honor of this fifth day of May, we’re teaming up with Southwest Airlines to give away a free pair of roundtrip tickets to anywhere they fly.

That’s right, whether you want to fly from Albany to Albuquerque for your Aunt Jennie’s Apple Pie or Washington DC to West Palm Beach, for cousin Willy’s famous four-day Thanksgiving bar crawl, you can cash these tickets in on us.

Tickets are good to redeem up to one year from the contest end with no blackout dates for you and a special friend. Just leave a comment below telling us where you’d like to go should you win the tickets and we’ll randomly draw one winner by this Friday. Make sure you give a shout out to our friends at Southwest for providing the tickets for the giveaway as well.

Happy travels from Gadling and Southwest Airlines!

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us where you’d like to go should you win the tickets (See a map of where they fly here).
  • The comment must be left before Friday, May 9th, 2008 at 5PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • One Grand Prize Winner will receive a free pair of roundtrip tickets to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • Tickets are valued at $400.00 per ticket.
  • Tickets are fully transferrable, are valid for one year, and are good for travel to any of the 64 cities Southwest serves.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.