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RIPOSTES 2006-05 (May)

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Kelly/Sapphire writes...

From your G'04 journal: "Kelly told us all of her obsession with Dr. Doom. (How obsessed is she? Well, let's just say I found myself getting jealous.)"

You know I love you, Greg! :D *smooch* ~ And I was glad we got you during dinner instead of Keith. If only because I'm more comfortable around you, and have more fun talking /with/ you, having an actual conversation. As opposed to listening to a bunch of people ask random questions.

Greg responds...

Cool, I'm glad SOMEbody wasn't disappointed to get me over Keith-isn't-here-yet-David. ;)

Response recorded on May 12, 2006

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W.I.T.C.H. Season Two Premiere

Hey gang,

Season Two of W.I.T.C.H. (i.e. the season that I story edited and produced) is currently slated to premiere with an episode I wrote ("A is for Anonymous") on Monday, June 5th, 2006 on Toon Disney (with a rerun airing on June 10th on ABC Family's Jetix block).

I'm very proud of this season of W.I.T.C.H. It's one of the best things I've worked on since Gargoyles and Roughnecks. I had a great writing staff and an incredible cast, including some familiar-to-Garg-fans voices (Kath Soucie, Thom Adcox, Ed Asner, Bill Faggerbakke, Elisa Gabrielli, Rocky Carroll, C.C.H. Pounder, among others).

If you've read the comic books or seen the solid W.I.T.C.H. first season, I think you'll truly love Season Two. If I do say so myself... IT KICKS ASS!! And if you've never seen W.I.T.C.H. before but are any kind of a fan of my work, please check us out. I promise you won't regret it.

Incidentally, we're having a LARGE W.I.T.C.H. Cast and Crew reunion at the Gathering 2006 in Valencia on Sunday, June 25th. So check that out too.

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Gipdac writes...

I believe you've said Arthur had some adventures before the events of "Pendragon", so, I was wondering…
1. When did Goliath & Co. arrive in London and meet Una and Leo (in "M.I.A.")?
2. When did Arthur arrive in London and first meet Griff (in "Pendragon")?
3. What day in 1920 did Goliath travel back to first meet Griff ("M.I.A.")?

Greg responds...

1. Goliath, Elisa, Angela and Bronx arrive in London and first meet Leo and Una on January 23rd, 1996.

2. Arthur arrives in London and first meets Griff on May 19th, 1996.

3. I have not pinpointed a precise date in 1940 for when this took place. (Note, however, that the year is 1940, not 1920.)

Response recorded on May 11, 2006

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Gipdac writes...

One thing I've always wondered is how long Goliath & Co. were on the World Tour; as I near as I can tell, Guardian first contacted Elisa in early to mid December 1995 and the Avalon Quartet arrived back in Manhattan on July 9th, 1996 (Alex's birth date). So,
1. When in 1995 did Guardian arrive in Manhattan, get arrested, meet Elisa and find Goliath?
2a. Was it his first time in New York? 2b. Was it his first time in the U.S.A.?
3. How long did the main events(or 1995 events) of the Avalon series actually take?...It seems like it all happened in one Avalon night (which would be like a week and a half in the real world, right?) from the time Katharine, Guardian and Magus were placing out dinner at sunset to the time Goliath, Elisa, Bronx and Angela left.
4. On what date did Goliath, Elisa, Angela and Bronx arrive in Wyvern (or the main events of "Shadows of the past" occur)?

Greg responds...

1. The Guardian arrives in New York on December 27th, 1995, but it is after midnight on the 28th before Tom and Goliath meet at Belvedere.

2ab. I'm not answering this at this time.

3. The Archmage's first attack on the Avalon Clan is on December 22nd, 1995. Goliath, Elisa, Bronx and Angela leave Avalon for the first time on January 1st, 1996.

4. The quartet arrive in Wyvern on January 1st, 1996. The events of "Shadows.." take place across the night of the 1st and 2nd of January, 1996.

Hope that helps.

Response recorded on May 11, 2006

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Anonymous writes...

Quick comment on a statement you made.

"After a few years of this, Brook's attitude toward the Gate changes. Pretty much a 180 from the way you see it changing."

So I guess that means he dreads seeing the Gate, since that'd upset whatever life he's managed to make for himself since he returned, eh? "Run away!!!'

Oh, feel free to answer this sarcastically. I know it's just a petty way for me to sound like a know-it-all. I'm probably wrong anyway.

Oh yeah, and great show. Hope it comes back.

Greg responds...

I'm not sure of the context of your quotation. (And is that a direct quote or a paraphrase?) Who does the "you" refer to? What preceded it?

I'd love to be able to tell you that I remember every conversation and post and exchange, but the truth is that I don't. Without the context of the quotation, I can't reply with confidence -- let alone sarcasm.

Let that be a lesson to you all. If you're going to reference an old post, give me a complete reference.

Response recorded on May 10, 2006

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Ellen writes...


Let me establish one thing right off the bat: I love Montreal. I love its looks, its style, its earthiness, its vitality. I've carried a torch for that town ever since I first vacationed there as a high school student, exactly thirty years ago. My affair with it culminated in my two years as an undergraduate transfer student at McGill University (due to scholarship eligibility issues I had to do my freshman and sophomore years elsewhere). Those years as an honorary "habitant" ignited a passion in me that's never been extinguished. I love Chicago, but oh, you kid.

So, last year in Manhattan, when I learned that this year's Gathering was to be held in Montreal, I was thrilled to have a long-overdue excuse to get back there. This, combined with another opportunity to enjoy a meeting with my writer friends (et alia) such as I'd just had in New York, meant that my attendance this year was never in question.


Being the mother of a very active four-year-old keeps me busy, and the day I left for Montreal was no exception. It was my son's last session of day camp, so I had a blessed couple of hours to myself to pack amid the usual chaos before having to run off to the store to buy flowers and chocolates for the day camp staff for putting up with my bottle-rocket offspring. My husband was able to get home from work by late afternoon, which allowed me time to put the finishing touches on my preparation. Then it was time for the boys to take me to the airport.

Ah, sweet freedom.

The sun receded into the west as we flew east, and was gone for the night by the time we reached Quebec. As the plane descended, I peered out the window, looking for familiar landmarks. I found the silhouette of Mount Royal against the urban landscape in the distance, and spotted the four-way beacon atop the Royal Bank Building just beyond it. I grinned spontaneously and felt the thrill that the sight of this old flame of mine always gives me. That sealed the deal: I knew that this was a can't-miss weekend.

Well, okay; it missed on one account. Due to what was determined to be human error at Bell Mobilité (if the U.S. Cellular folks were giving me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth), my cell phone was inoperative while I was in Montreal -- during the three days out of the whole year when I really, *really* needed the blasted thing. Nice job, guys.

I arrived at the hotel fairly late. Especially after spending time phoning people and trying to get my phone to work, I decided that I'd be inviting trouble by attempting to stay up much past midnight. I knew from last year's experience that I'd be getting entirely too little sleep that weekend anyway, so I did the sensible thing and called it a night.


Friday started out with breakfast with Kathy, Leo, Denis, Alex Garg, Kelly ("Sadistic Cow"), and Rob. I was particularly delighted to meet Denis and Kelly face-to-face after meeting them online. I regret not chatting with Rob, however, especially after learning that he's the Lord Sloth of S8 comment board fame, who was kind enough to offer me a cyber-cookie the first time I posted there. My apologies, Rob. I didn't mean to slight you.

Breakfast *did* feature the first of several good chats I had with Kathy, however, and for that I'm pleased.

We headed from there up to the mezzanine to register. There I greeted my "adopted nephew" Dylan and met his fiancée Mary, greeted my dear Philly pal Allaine (who chastised me, good-naturedly but rightfully, for not alerting him when I went to breakfast), greeted Spacebabie, greeted Silver and her mother, greeted Sarah the Great...so many faces, familiar from last year, and how nice to see them all.

And I finally met Christine Morgan and her family. As I've said many a time, she is my first and best inspiration in this delightful little world of fan fiction writing, and having the chance to shake her hand at long last was a special treat.

I then sat down to study the packet of information I'd just received from the hardworking con staff. I was pleasantly interrupted by my breakfast companions inquiring whether I was game for walking around the city with them. Naturally, I was -- once I'd changed into more practical shoes, that is.

We walked past the Basilica of Notre Dame de Montréal and wandered through Chinatown, then headed north to Sherbrooke, my companions amiably agreeing to head back eastward along one of the city's main arteries. We turned back south on University and ended up at an indoor food court at Place Ville Marie.

We'd nearly stopped for sandwiches along Sherbrooke, and I was ever so glad we waited. Kathy and I ended up ogling the food stations lustfully, in a state of total sensory overload and not knowing how to decide among the sushi, custom-made pizzas, mussels, fresh fish... Then we came across a cozy little seating area that featured salmon and beef tartare, and it was game-over. Kathy had the salmon canapés; I succumbed to the temptation of the raw beef. We each had a glass of wine, and we shared an utterly delightful conversation, over the course of which I began to discover just how fascinating an individual she is.

Predictably, we made it back to the hotel frightfully late for John/Flanker's discussion of real-life weaponry and its equally realistic use. This was typical of the weekend, though. The limit to the number of hours in each day made everything a trade-off -- sacrifice a half an hour here for the same amount of time there, try (and, of course, fail) to be in two places at once, make the best choices, on the spot, under the circumstances. I wouldn't have given up a moment of my lunch with Kathy, but it cost me the opportunity to hear John speak for longer than I did. And he's an excellent speaker, too. In the end, I settled for being (very) pleased just to have met this impressive young gentleman.

I had a little time to myself before the opening ceremonies, so I made a dépanneur run. Dépanneurs (the name literally means "breakdown service," in the automotive sense) are convenience stores that dot the city of Montreal, and the nearest one was in the train station. I stocked up on all the essentials -- extra water, Diet Coke, beer, and Coffee Crisp candy bars. I returned to my room with my booty and dressed for the evening.

Between Greg and his presentations and MAui and Abe with their Clan Olympics hijinks, the Opening Ceremonies were thoroughly entertaining. The inclusion of the words "uncut" and "unedited" in Greg's announcement of the December 7 DVD release drew a spontaneous shout of joy from me, and I wasn't by any means the only one. As for the Clan Olympics, it's always a treat to see Allaine loosen up. As for Dylan (he of the well-stuffed shirt), he's always loose. I'll be watching closely to see whether his cries of "Acadie!" and accompanying flag-waving make it onto the DVD.

After that it was dinnertime -- late, of course, as befits Montreal. Princess Alexandria, Allaine, Dylan and I ended up at an Italian-style sports-bar-type place downtown (after a few wrong turns owing to my dismal memory of the layout of downtown). This was truly a special occasion. Great conversation and good food with friends we see but once a year (if that). Priceless.

When we got back to the hotel, we headed to the con suite for the Blue Mug-a-Guest session. I agree that it wasn't terribly blue this year, because we were all preoccupied with the release of the DVD. (My guess is that next year's session in Vegas will be back on its proper track of impropriety.) One of the highlights for me, however, was the chance to lean over to Gorebash and compliment him on his Station 8 Gargoyles site. He'll never hear such remarks as often as he deserves.

In theory, I could have sat and listened to the Boss talk all night long and then some, but when his flesh proved weak and he took a potty break, mine proved weak as well, and I embraced this opportunity to go collapse into bed. After all, I did have responsibilities the following morning.

(To be continued.)

Greg responds...

Always nice to see that people are also making the most of the environs of the Gathering. It's one of the things that makes the Gathering special and different. New places to explore. I never (or rarely) have the time to explore, but I'm glad someone does.

Response recorded on May 10, 2006

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Yggdrasil writes...

Gathering Journal

Thursday August 5, 2004

The day started off on a sour note, as I spent the first three hours of my morning proctoring a genetics exam. For those of you who don't know, proctoring involves sitting around and doing nothing for three hours. Anyways, the exam wrapped up and it was off to Montreal. Since I live in Ontario, it was only a 6 hour adventure. The only rough part of the drive was passing through Toronto. In Canada, Toronto has two seasons; winter and construction.

I made it into Montreal by about 8:00. After checking in and dropping off my stuff, I made a quick jaunt down to the lobby to say hello to anyone who was there and then went for a walk in the city. After 12:00 it was time for bed after putting some final touches on my presentation.

Friday August 6, 2004

It Begins. Picked up my registration package, said hello to several more people and then dropped into Con Virgin 101. The room was pretty empty, but the event did help to set the tone for the Con. Thanks for your info Sapphire.

In the afternoon I listened to Flanker's combat discussion (I provided the projector), and had a chance to meet Aaron, Hudson and Greg B. The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around downtown before the opening ceremonies. I found a nice café by the docks, and pretty much ate there for the duration of the con. It may have taken about 30 min to walk to, but it was worth it.

The opening ceremonies were a series of revelations. Since this was my first gathering, many of the events and information were new to me. The Bad Guys promo was great, ditto for the Team Atlantis tape. God I'm such a geek, I'll take Gargoyles however I can get it. The Clan Olympics started with an ouch, one event and several injuries already. After the opening ceremonies there was a brief pause, where I acted as a stand in for team Canadian Body Massage. I had to skip out early, since I wanted to attend the Blue Mug a Greg. I didn't have any real questions, but I had heard that the event was a riot…it was.

Even though this was apparently the tamest Mug in memory, it was still informative. I only asked one question about whether Greg would do a commentary if they did the 3rd season. The only thing that will haunt my dreams is the shot sequence presented by Leo. I have no idea what was going on, but it was weird. At about 2:00 we were kicked out of the suite, so it was off to bed.

Saturday August, 7 2004

Saturday was a complete blur. I attended a few talks in the morning, the auction and radio play in the afternoon and then it was time for the banquet. The banquet was a very pleasant affair. Keith David was late, but it gave my time to talk with the people at my table. It was nice to put names to the faces that I knew from the TGC CR. Sarah, Revel, Spacebabie and Kathy it was nice to meet with you. I know I'm missing two people at our table, but your names have completely left my mind.

When Keith David finally arrived, pandemonium ensued. Of the entire evening, I will always remember one event. When someone asked how Keith used Goliath in Pitch Black, it led to an elongated diatribe about his relation with the director. I got to become the personification of that director. I guess I just sat in the right seat, but I got to have Keith David tear a metaphorical strip off of my hide. Memories abound.

I only attended part of the cosplay, but wow. I was amazed by everyone, but Korul (?) that was something else.

Sunday August 8, 2004

Sunday I gave my Biology talk with Whitbourne and Lynati (See I can be taught). This was a blast. I had a prepared talk, so I presented first. Considering that it was thrown together over about 5 hours I thought it was quite good. Lynati gave a quick talk about here research into Gargoyle biology and then we opened the floor to questions. Discussion covered stone skin, muscle mass, gliding, bone composition, and although no genetics really came up, I was able to contribute. After the talk I had to bail and head back to Ontario. If I manage to make it to Las Vegas next year, I would love to team up again for Gargoyle Biology part 2.

Well there you go. I'm sorry that it's so rough, but time is not on my side.

Yggdrasil (Greg Perry)

Greg responds...

Hey, I appreciated you contributing. Hope to see you soon.

Response recorded on May 09, 2006

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Anthony "Archangel"Zucconi writes...

Gathering 2004 Journal
Anthony "Archangel" Zucconi

Thursday, 5 Aug 2004

The morning had finally arrived. Today begins the trip to The Gathering. I look forward to this all year. This is my family reunion, or at least that's what I tell anyone who asks where I'm going, and I am excited. The excitement is a good thing because this early in the morning it's the only thing keeping me going.

The first flight from Melbourne, Florida to Atlanta was pretty uneventful. It was in Atlanta where the fun began. While waiting for our connecting flight, my wife and I noticed that the girl standing in front of the ticket counter was wearing Gathering nametags from past Gatherings. She looked very familiar, but neither of us was sure who she was. I told my wife that she looked like "Sapphire" but it had been a year since I'd seen her so I didn't trust that to be true. She came closer and I was able to read her name tags. I was correct; it was Sapphire (Kelly). She was just two seats away from us and she hadn't recognized us. It was time for the fun to start. I began talking to my wife about this person standing right next to us as if we didn't want her to hear us; however I spoke so loudly that it would be impossible for her not to hear. My wife caught on to this immediately and joined in the game. You could see by the look on Kelly's face that she was racking her brain trying to remember who we were while acting like she couldn't hear us. Finally she remembered, so we all sat around and talked while waiting for our plane.

The plane ride was fun. On the way the toilet broke and the flight attendant had to inform everyone as politically correct as possible as you could only deposit "liquid" waste. He held up an empty water bottle to illustrate his point. He requested Kelly draw him a little cartoon of the incident to remember it by.

When we finally arrived we had to find transportation to the hotel. I was planning on taking a cab, but luckily Kelly had been there before and knew about the bus. This made for some more play money. On the bus ride Kelly showed us her videos from "City of Heroes" which was more then enough to get me hopelessly hooked. (Thanks for killing my budget Sapphire) When we arrived at the bus stop, we still had a couple of blocks to walk to get to the hotel. Luckily I spotted it before we stopped because the buildings there were blocking any view of it.

We got to the hotel, checked in, decided to meet back in the lobby in an hour, and went up to our room. We were on the 7th floor. Apparently the hotel didn't think it would be wise to keep all the Gathering attendees on the same floor, so we were spread out all over the place. The rooms were nice though, not like some of the horror stories I heard from last year in New York. After a quick change and refresh we went back to the lobby. We were late because of my wife. Every married man reading this will know why. They'll also know I'm going to pay for writing that in this story. We met up with Sapphire again and headed up to her room. There we met up with Trishana (Karlyl), Julie (Chamaleongirl), Taylor, and Liz. We all hung out for a while talking (Julie told me the meaning of all the words I didn't understand in "Waltzing Matilda") and watching videos until hunger got the better of us, so we left in search of food. Liz knew of these glass doors in the hotel that lead to an underground alley where there where shops and food, but apparently only Harry Potter could enter the alley, because we never found it. Instead we found another alley with food and shops, so we ate there. They had a Subway which really hit the spot. There was also a place called Second Cup. This must be the Canadian version of Starbucks, which I was in dire need of. After that we headed back to the hotel. We hung around for a while waiting for this big dinner with Greg that was promised. It was supposed to be at 9:00, so we all went to the lobby at 9:00 and nobody was there. Someone got in touch with the Staff and found out it got pushed back to 10:00, so everyone just waited. Then down comes Laurean (Siryn) to tell us that the staff decided to make dinner "Staff Only". Thanks for waiting until 10:00 to tell us this. If I wasn't tired I was tempted to go anyway, but I know where I'm not wanted. It had been a long day so we headed off to bed.

Friday, 6 August 2004

Everything was due to start today so we got dressed and headed down for food. We decided to try out the restaurant in the hotel. That was a mistake. The buffet they offered cost 15.00$ CAN and the food was horrible. The pancakes couldn't be cut and they tasted like cornbread.

After breakfast we went off in search of registration. They weren't excessively late this year so we got our packets pretty quickly. It was good to see all these familiar faces again. After a nice meet and greet session we headed off to set up our stuff in the art room. I love this because it gives us a sneak peak at the art early, and this year had some good art.

After we set up Andrea wanted to see the "Perspective" presentation, so we split up for a while. I wanted to hang out with people so we agreed to meet up at 1:15. After we met up I wanted to see the "Understanding Combat" presentation, but I quickly became bored because I do that for a living. We ducked out and went to the "Voice Acting Seminar" with Greg Weisman. Keith David was supposed to be there to, but he was M.I.A. (Gratuitous Gargoyles Pun) I had a lot of fun in here. I ever got to play the part of Demona. (Eat your heart out Jen) After the seminar I waited to try out for the Radio Play while Andrea went to the "Costuming Seminar". My tryout went well, but I really blew the attempt at an English accent.

Finally it was time for Opening Ceremonies. This had all the same stuff we look forward to every year, plus they added a Clan Olympics event right in the middle of it. Greg played the audio recording for "Team Atlantis" which when you just listen to it without the visuals sounds really dirty.

After Opening Ceremonies it was time for food. We decided we were craving McDonald's so we set off on at quest for a Quarter Pounder. The first McDonald's we came to was closed, along with everything else. I guess Canadian's don't eat after 7:00.
We finally found one that was open and the quest for the Quarter Pounder was fulfilled. For anyone who's wondering, they actually call it a Quarter Pounder, but they say it in French.

We returned in time for the Blue Mug-a-Guest with Greg. It's wasn't as "Blue" as usual, but Greg didn't have Tom there with him. We suggested that we call him since it was only 8:00 in L.A. After a lot a fun it was time for bed.

Saturday, 7 August 2004

There was not to much going on early so we took the chance to sleep in. Little did we know, but this would pay off later. We got dressed and had some quick snacks to tide us over until tonight. We headed down to check out the Gathering Auction. There wasn't very much good stuff up for bid this year. I guess Gargoyles merchandise is running out. I decided to offer up 2 of my CDs to the cause. I had to run out in the middle of the Auction to rehearse for the radio play, so Andrea had to tell me how they sold.

The radio play this year was "The Journey" and I was Quarryman #1. I love being part of the radio play, but I always ask for small parts because reading isn't something that comes easy for me. Maybe next year I'll take a chance at a bigger part, but I make no promises. The performance went well and it got filmed for the DVD so maybe we'll all be stars.

Now it was time to prepare for the Banquet. This is our chance to dress up before we dress up. We headed down to the Banquet Room and were waiting around to get in. We found Kelly there so we started talking when who should show up but the DVD camera crew. They were looking for anyone with cool Gathering stories, and they had come to the right place. They let us do some acting at this point because they wanted to film us telling someone our story not telling the camera. Andrea and I told Kelly the story of how we met, fell in love, and got married all because of the Gathering. Then Kelly told us her Gathering story. Finally I told Kelly my skydiving story for fun. I hope they get on the DVD.

Now it was time to be seated. We were told to leave one empty seat at every table because some lucky table would get either Keith or Greg. Karine first announced that we would get Keith, but she misspoke she meant to say Greg, so we had to settle. Dinner was good, but not nearly filling enough for what it cost. Just once I wish the price of the Banquet was for quantity and not quality. I like to feel full after a good meal. As the meal was ending Greg ducked out to go find out where Keith was at because he still hadn't shown up. Just after he walked out Keith walked in. I tried to get everyone to keep it quiet from Greg for as long as we could but that didn't work. However Keith got to get even with his "Ladies and Gentlemen, Greg Weisman."

Now it was time to prepare for the Masquerade. I was reviving the costume that got me my wife, "Tony Dracon". Andrea went as "Bad Elisa". We headed down again and got lined up and ready to go. As we lined up they put Kelly first. The skit that she kept so secret was going to happen and we weren't going to get to see it. Next year they need to let the costumes go in first so they can see the skits. The costumes were great this year. Andrea and I were named "The Cutest Old Married Couple". After a lot of pictures we began the party. We had a decent attempt at Karaoke. It's wasn't as good as we wanted do to equipment problems, but we managed.

Sunday, 8 August 2004

The night was drawing to a close. Andrea and I joined a small group in the con-suite to wait out the rest of the night with Greg since he decided to remain awake all night because he had an early flight. Now as far as what happened in that room I'll never tell, but "Mime's" the word. Everyone said their goodbyes and as Greg left to shower and pack we were off to bed.


We woke up and headed down to close out the art room. I only sold 1 CD this year. Of the 10 I made 1 went to Greg, 1 to Keith, and 2 were donated to the Auction. Do the math and you'll see I'm still left with 5. These 5 went to the people who made this Gathering special for me. If anyone who received one reads this, thanks. In the Art Room Liz told me that Andrea had won a lot of awards for her art, but made me swear not to tell her. After that we listened to Keith talk for a while.

Closing Ceremonies wasn't quite the same without Greg, so we need to start planning the Gatherings around his daughter's birthday in the future. Afterwards we had our first business meeting where we elected our Board of Directors. I would have loved to serve on the board, but to steal a line from the show, "My time is not my own."

Finally a large group of us went to play Laser Tag. This was a great step up from the Nerf War we usually have. The Laser Tag arena even had Gargoyles hanging from the ceiling. The games were great. That's probably because I was on the winning team, but I had fun. Finally a smaller group of us went out for food. Andrea and I split a pizza. Then it was back to the hotel for sleep. We had an early flight.

Monday, 9 August 2004

It was time to get going. We checked out and headed for the bus. The problem was we never found where to by the tickets and I was in no mood to look. Luckily there was a cab stand right there so we took one to the airport. After 3 plane rides we were home and this year's Gathering was officially over. I'm left with a feeling that having our family reunion only once a year is just not often enough.

Greg responds...

Tony, I hope to see you and Andrea in Valencia next month. Wouldn't be a true Gathering without our cutest old married couple.

Response recorded on May 09, 2006

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BrooklynX writes...

Ok Greg, here's my 2004 Gathering Journal. Was nice seeing you once again. :)

Aug. 3 -

Spent most of the day finishing up the last of the packing, getting a haircut and picking up some more chocolate for the trip. Headed out to the airport just after 8:30 pm for my 11:05 flight. Got to the airport just after 9 and checked in my one bag. After that, went to go through the security point. The T.S.A. folks all noticed my Weird Al shirt.

Oddly, one of them called me an experienced flyer when I put my laptop into a bin to go through the X-Ray machine. Truthfully, I just read the sign to make sure that's what I had to do. Had to take my boots off before going through the metal detector. And got told by another that the 'SSSS' on my ticket meant the computer had randomly selected me for extra screening. Went through that and got a Mt. Dew to drink while waiting for the flight. Sat down by my gate, got out the laptop and started to type up my Gathering journal. Flight took off about forty-five minutes late, but didn't bother me too much. On the just over 5 hour-long flight, I slept maybe two hours.

Aug. 4 -

Was groggy when I got to JFK where I had a two hour layover before going into Rochester to meet up with Scott (Abram). Discovered JetBlue had free wireless access at their terminal, so I got on the net while waiting. Hit the Duknin' Donuts for a light breakfast during the flight to Rochester. Landed there an hour later and spotted Abram on the way to baggage. Retrieved my bag before stopping at Best Buy to pick up Doom 3.

On the way to his house in Penn Yan, NY, we hit a Denny's so I could eat an actual meal. Stopped off where he got some chocolate that I was supposed to not know about. Short drive later, was at his place. Took an hour nap and met Sarah the Great. Had dinner sometime and watched Hellboy. Conked out just after 1 am.

Aug. 5 -

Woke up sometime after 7 am to get ready for the drive up to Montreal. Breakfast was a bagel and some greatly needed water. We hit the road before 8 am after some interesting twisting and turning of the luggage to make it all fit. We piled into the car and headed off for Montreal with Scott driving and Sarah navigating. I took the seat behind Scott since I knew the Border Agent was going to ask questions. We managed to make pretty good time and we stopped at the Duty Free store where I bought a bottle of brandy for Karine.

Answered all the questions Customs asked of us and maybe a hundred feet or so away, Scott half yelled "Suckers!" even though my window wasn't all the way up. Thankfully, we didn't encounter a problem because of that and we shared a laugh over it. Stopped at a service center along the way where I got some food from Wendy's and some Canadian currency. It was the same one I stopped at with Siryn on the way up for the Live Meeting and this time I noticed the maple leaf instead of an apostrophe. Funny the little things you notice.

Along the way, I spotted the familiar exit that one take's to Karine's place. Granted I only went along that path once with Siryn for the Live Meeting, I still remembered it. We got to outer edge of Montreal around 2:30 pm. As we worked our way into downtown Montreal, I pointed in the general direction of the hotel. We passed through one tunnel and then as we went into another, I pointed out how I didn't remember going through a second one to get to the hotel. Our lovely printed up directions had failed to point out the exit. Go figure. Ended up pulling a massive u-turn and parked at the hotel around 3 pm or a little after.

Of course, the parking garage was just as evil as I remember in February. Grabbing my backpack, I headed up with them to the lobby. Checked in, got the four keys and ran into Karine and Patrick. Started helping them move things up to the con suite. Saw most of the rest of the staff as we went to work on sorting out things for the packets. We managed to pack the packets quickly and efficiently. Before too long, Patrick returned with Greg and the lot of us was off to dinner, minus some folks who thought there was going to be a rather large group of us going to dinner. Hopefully no hard feelings for them since we reduced it down to just staff and 2005 staff.

The place Karine has wanted us to go to had just closed the kitchen, so we went to another place a short distance away. Didn't get to munch on crepes, but got to chew on a three cheese pizza. The pizza was ok, but not what I would call 'good.' After eating, we went back to the hotel and decided to meet up at 9 for breakfast. Went down to my room and met my two other roommates and made sure the alarm was set for 8:30. After that, called it a night.

Aug. 6 -

Got up about 15 minutes before the alarm went off. Got up, showered and got ready for the staff meeting. Of course, I realized I had left my backpack up in the Con Suite. Once most of us showed up, we headed out to get breakfast. Service was slow seeing as there was one person working the tables. I had eggs, bacon and toast. We decided on who was going to work what job and I went for registration. I didn't work this for very long. Ended up going down to help Karine and later on, up to watch the Con Suite.

Kicked out everyone some time after 4:15 so I could close it up and bring down the VCR. Forgot a set of cables, so I had to run up to grab those. Ran back down to find out I needed a tape to test the setup. More running around and by the time I came back with the tape, Patrick had shown up with one. So I returned the tape I had gotten to the dealer's room. Came back down and found a seat for Opening Ceremonies. At one point during it, Greg asked what more can you want and somebody yelled out Thom. While we on the staff wanted to get him, it does cost a lot of money to board his dogs.

Greg announced the two disc DVD was coming out on Dec. 7th, which I mentally filed away. He also presented a Power Point presentation with some quotes from fans dealing with the upcoming release of the DVD. Clan Olympics started during opening ceremonies with some sort of ball relay. Somewhere in there, Greg played a audio tape of an Team Atlantis episode that never got made. I believe it was called "The Last." Also, we on the staff presented Gorebash with "The Fan Guest of Honor." He really deserved it. After Clan Olympics was done, things got moving along again.

After everything finished up, several headed out to get crepes for dinner. Our group was Greg, Karine, Mark & Mark, Zehra, Kathy, Laurean, Ian, myself and somebody else. Person's name escaped me at the moment. I ordered the Nelson, which had Maple, apple and bacon and it was very good. Our server had a slight lack of grace when bringing out the food. Dropped a couple of plates that smashed on the table. If I ever make it up to Montreal again, I'll have to ask Karine to take me back to that place.. After dinner, the lot of us headed back.

Managed to hit the blue mug a guest for a short while before running down to get the VCR. Tried to make it back into the mug a guest, but the room was too packed for me to get in. Decided after a little while to call it a night and lugged the VCR down to my room.

Aug. 7 -

Got up around 8:15 or so. Got ready for the staff meeting and met up at the Con Suite. We went down to the hotel's food area and snagged some food there. I grabbed the radio from the room Opening Ceremonies had been in and dropped it off in the Con Suite. After that, came back down to work the registration desk for the day. Chatted with Ian for a bit after setting my laptop. Don't remember what we talked about, but did get a few walk-in registrations. Managed to write a little before starting to play Doom 3 for most of the day. Of course, got my butt kicked several times over.

Got to watch some Clan Olympics stuff while sitting there and also missed the auction and radio play. Well, missing the auction didn't bother me too much since I didn't have that much money to spend this year. Did want to see the radio play, but oh well. Will have to make the effort to see it next year for sure. Was told to shut down early and brought the stuff up stairs. I think some time during the day I got two commissions from Cindy and two commissions from Liz. They were commissions they had done for me, so we decided the Gathering was the best place for me to get them.

Ran by the dealers and art room and just missed the voting for the art show. Oops. The art was pretty impressive this year; just too bad I didn't have the money to buy anything. Well, will have to correct that next year. While there, I managed to snag a sketch of Chaos by Kythera. Nothing like adding more art to the pile. After the room closed, I went downstairs to where the banquet was going to be held. Kept an eye on the door as more folks began to filter downstairs.

Around 6, we started to allow folks into sit down while Cindy and I checked to see if folks had the Banquet sticker on the back of their badges. Karine reminded them to keep a seat open at each table so we could auction off which table would get Greg and which one would get Keith when he arrived. Karine had Becca pull the first number and I believe somebody else to pull the second. I sat at a table with Norcumi, Quindar, and three other fans. About 15 minutes or so later, Lynati showed up and she joined us. Mostly chatted about what it takes to run a con.

I think about 7:30, Keith David and Patrick arrived. A few folks at their table managed to keep their food waiting for them. The Q&A session started up a few minutes later. Most of the questions were directed at him and I felt sort of bad, since he wanted to eat. While the Q&A was going on, the group in the next room started getting loud. I went to go see if I could get them to turn the noise and ran into Daniel, our hotel contact. Asked him to speak to them and he did. They started to get loud again and then he went and told them: "If you don't turn it down, fifty angry gargoyles will be after you." Group didn't get loud again.

Around 8:30, we stopped the Q&A so Keith could rest up a little bit. With some help from Ian, Norcumi, Quindar, and a few others, we started moving tables and chairs around for the masquerade. Once set up was done, we started letting folks in and got things moving again. The costumes this year where rather impressive. Siryn dressed up as Tom, Kaylee as Princess Katherine, Patrick as Puck, Alan (Jen's husband) as Macbeth, Lynati as Ophelia, Mandolin as Banshee and there were others, but can't remember who dressed up as what. Name forgetting aside, the costumes were impressive this year.

After the awards were given, a bunch of us took photos while they set up for the Karaoke. A little while later, the karaoke started up. I mostly sat out in the hallway talking with Silver about my character Chaos while she did a sketch of him. Showed Greg what Puppy Pack art I had and a little later on, showed Keith a few of the cels I had gotten from the show. Peeked in there briefly while Keith sang, though I don't remember what song. Took a couple pictures of Arno dancing with somebody, but can't remember the person's name.

Went back outside to chat with Silver some more while she started doing a sketch of Gadget. At one point, I though I heard somebody signing "Blame Canada." Oops, turns out the person was signing "Blame Gargoyles." Listened in slightly and heard folks trying to sing "Y.M.C.A." Snickered quite a bit because most of them couldn't seem to remember most of the lyrics. Silver debated about inking the Gadget picture, which I convinced her to do while we chatted.

I decided after that to get some sleep, so I said goodbye to Greg before heading up to my room. Told the folks that were gaming in there that they had half an hour before I was going to kick them out so I could get some badly needed sleep. They left just before midnight and I crashed for the night.

Aug. 8 -

Got up around 8:30. Got ready and went up to the Con Suite, though I got there a few minutes after 9. Karine, Patrick, Laurean and took a short walk to get breakfast from a nearby place. I got a bottle of Coke and a muffin for breakfast. It was the first caffeine I had the entire weekend. I set up registration and missed the Gargoyles Biology panel I wanted to go to. Chatted with a few fans, though I don't remember their names. Yeah, shame on me.

Got two walk-in registrations and closed up at noon. Went back down to sit in on the second Keith David mug-a-guest, which was the only one he did that day. Missed part of it when doing a little running around, but oh well. Around 3, we did the Closing Ceremonies. Karine rattled off what each of us did in turn and when she got to me, she went, "Shaun. Registration desk and self proclaimed con bitch!" Got lots of laughter on that one. Cindy did the art show awards and after everything was done, we started up the line for signing by Keith.

Got called upstairs briefly where the lot of us on staff got to see all the chocolate Abram had gotten for us. After that, I went back down and managed to get a cel signed by Keith, along with a photo. Wandered back up to the Con Suite for a little while. I chipped in $5 to help with the food for the staff dead dog party, even though I wasn't going to be there for part of it. Met up with Norcumi and Quindar for dinner, since we had wanted to get together for a little while to talk. After dinner, we came back to the hotel and chatted for about 2 hours.

They went upstairs to rest and I went back to Karine's room. Got to chat with her husband Adam and a couple of their friends for a while. Party broke up and I wondered back down to my room to start preparing my stuff for the next day.

Aug. 9 -

Woke up around 8 and started to get ready for La Ronde and the trip back to New York later in the day. Most of us packed up early, but our fourth disappeared for a while. Managed to check out close to 10. Got my ticket for the park and headed off with the group. Got to ride the local transit system out to the park got to wait on a hot bus for the ride over. A couple of us took a group pictures. Karine wondered where Christen and Becca had gone. I helped her look, but failed to spot them.

We wandered off to find a few others and ran into Patrick, Rob and Cindy. I quickly got some money and a bite to eat since I hadn't gotten breakfast. First ride we got on was "The Dragon." Talk about a very lame roller coaster. After that, was the Ferris wheel, walking and fudge. More walking before running into Leo, Karlyl and Laurean. After that, we hit the "Le Vampire." That one reminds me of "Top Gun" at Great America. Cindy and Rob left to rest and then our group got lunch.

Went to watch the diving show, but noticed it was packed. Went up on the slowly spinning tower before the others left to go back to the hotel. I walked around a little before finding Abram and another fan. We chatted a while before a small group of us headed out. Got back to the hotel and took off for New York. Stopped part way along for food and stopped at the duty free store. I picked up a shot glass before we crossed the border. Customs guy asked quite a few more questions than when I went through in February with Laurean. Along the way, I conked out for a while.

Got Abram's place, where Sarah, Scott and I crashed around 2 in the morning.

Aug 10 -

Got up around ten for a light breakfast. We saw Sarah off before sitting at Scott's place for a couple hours. Got dropped off at Rochester around 3 and checked in. Here, the T.S.A. went through my suitcase and once again, got selected for the random screening. Stopped off at the little gift shop where I picked up "The Teeth of the Tiger" by Tom Clancy. Spent most of the flight reading the book. Not too shabby, but not what I would call one of his better books.

Got into JFK, where I had to walk through half the terminal to get to my next flight, which was boarding when I landed. Got my seat and waited for take-off. Got off the ground a little over an hour later than originally scheduled since the flights going west were backed up due to a storm. Flight was pretty smooth and I tried to sleep, but just couldn't once again. Got in an hour later than planned. Got my baggage and headed for home, bringing to an end another wonderful and fun Gathering.

Even though I didn't pre-register for next years at the Gathering (didn't have the funds), I will be there next year. Being in Lost Wages, eh, Las Vegas next year, I can drive there.

Greg responds...

Cool. Hope you're making it to G2006 this year too.

For those who STILL don't know about the Gathering and how much fun it was, is and will continue to be, check out www.gatheringofthegargoyles.com.

Response recorded on May 05, 2006

Bookmark Link

Dylan Blacquiere writes...

Okay; after seeing the mangling job that cutting and pasting from Microsoft Word did on the last post (damn you, smart-quotes) I've tried to fix them all up. I'll repost my whole Gathering journal; hopefully that'll fix the whole problem and have the added bonus of it all being in one place. It's long. Wow. If any of the punctuation friggs up and comes out as tags, I apologize, and it just means that Bill Gates and the Microsoft Word Paper Clip ae evil geniuses that are out to ruin my life.

Friday, August 6

The preparations for the trip had kept Stormy and I up for longer than we'd expected; Thursday had dissolved into a parade of framing artwork, editing writing pieces, haircuts and packing. All of this had started late. We had gone to the Annapolis Valley in southwest Nova Scotia on Wednesday, to check out Digby's annual scallop festival and visit with a friend. We had only gotten back to Halifax at one p.m. on Thursday, and that left us with not a whole lot of time to do everything that we needed.
But it all came together. Somehow, in the end, it always does.
I didn't get much sleep that night. We had to get up at 5 a.m. to get ready for the flight, but I was also trying to think about the Gathering and how I felt about the whole thing. I was excited about going, but I was also feeling a bit wary and ambivalent. I had recently sort of drifted away from the fandom by default, still talking to people but not writing much in the way of fanfiction or thinking much about Gargoyles at all. I had thought that it was a bit of natural progression, that I was making the transition to writing only original stuff and settling into my second year of medical school. Either way, I was wondering what the Gathering would do for that, whether it would reverse the course, bring me back into the fandom, or whether it would just be an excuse to meet with people and have a good time before coming home and doing much as I had before. Last year's Gathering had given me a "post-fandom bounce", so to speak, but last year I was still pretty involved. It was a question that was on my mind for most of the four hours I was trying to sleep.
We woke up at five, spent an hour getting showered and dressed and preparing the cats for another weekend without us, and then we were on our way. I made do without coffee, driving through the streets of Halifax and across the span of the Macdonald Bridge over the Narrows. Stormy was excited, looking forward to seeing everyone for the first time; this was my second, so I knew the score, and we spent much of the drive to the airport talking of what she could expect and what we were looking forward to. She was excited about the art show and the Phoenix Gate anthology (which we had both been published in), while I had my list of Gathering goals: buy Keith David a drink, get the Acadian flag on the DVD footage in honour of the 400th anniversary of Acadian settlement in North America, speak French as often as I could, and have a good time with all of the friends I had met for the first time last year.
I don't like flying that much, but I like airports, and the pre-flight experience was stressless. Check-in, breakfast, security screen: all fine, save for the fact that my belt buckle dinged in the metal detector and I was asked to undo it in order to prove that I was not some sort of sartorial terrorist. We waited about twenty painless minutes to board, and I had my coffee and my Globe and Mail to keep me happy, until finally we were on the plane, settling in. I almost crushed poor Stormy's hand when the plane took off; have I mentioned that I don't much care for air travel? Aside from that, the flight was flawless, and we landed at Trudeau Airport about an hour later. We got our luggage and called a cab, and twenty minutes and thirty-one dollars later, we were at the Delta Centre-Ville. We checked in, hearing the ominous phrase "king-sized bed" and then went up to the twenty-seventh floor to find our room. Just the king-sized bed, room enough for three people. Problem was, we had asked Mercedes and her brother Andrew, two more con virgins and friends of ours from our frequent trips to Maine, to stay in the room. Only three of us would get bed space; the last would have to find somewhere to make the floor comfortable. By the time Mercedes and Andrew got there, I had already decided that it would have to be me. I'd reserved the room and though there would be two beds, so the fault, such as it was, was mine. But that was okay; I'd slept on less comfortable floors before, and I was sure that the magnanimity would make up for the mattress deficiency quite nicely.
We went down to La Terrasse to find when registration would start. No one really knew, but there was a crowd down there, many old time friends including Allaine, Spacebabie and Revel, Mara Cordova and Aaron Wheeler, Kathy Pogge, and Ellen Stolfa, who I hugged first and longest. We all had a series of chats, and I met a few new people, including Tim, Christine and Becca Morgan, who were there as well. It was time for lunch, though, and people were splitting off and going their separate ways, and so Stormy, Mercedes, Andrew and myself started on our way to find people to hit Montreal with. We ended up going to Chinatown with Greg Bishansky, and we saw a nice part of the downtown before getting to the Chinese Quarter. Nothing seemed to open until eleven, so we had to wait a few minutes, and eventually we found a Vietnamese restaurant and had a fine meal. We got back to the hotel just in time for registration to begin; from that point on I had my Gathering badge, announcing to everyone that I was Whitbourne, and that I was with the fan crowd. And that was when the events started, and so we all started splitting up to check out what the Gathering had to offer.
I first went to the General Round Robin, presented by Spacebabie; the turnout was a little sparse, but that worked fine for the crowd, and I got to spend a little bit more time with Spacebabie, Allaine, Revel and Sarah the Great, catching up on old times since Manhattan last year. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that c-words were off limits (even if it were the adult round robin I have no doubt that same restriction would have held true) and then we started round-robining the scenario of Demona and Macbeth meeting in the Grand Canyon as a prelude to the events of "Sanctuary". I picked "whiskey" as my word, but ended up using "salamander", and it didn't take long for the round robin to be hijacked with a running joke involving Macbeth inviting Demona for a ride in a dinghy. It seemed funny at the time, at least. After the round robin ended I went to look at the art room. Stormy and Mercedes had set up their work, and the Icestorm Brooklyn that Stormy had painted to look like Whitbourne was standing proudly (drunkenly?) on his table. After that, I crept into the Combat lecture being given by my friend Flanker; he was having a good time, even though Hudson and Aaron, in the back, seemed to know just as much about weapons as he did, prompting him to jokingly ask why they were even there. It was a fun lecture on a subject I know very little about; I liked the sniper scope that was passed around, though I thought it sort of funny that whenever anyone got to look through it, they inevitably used it to line up the crosshairs with Flanker's head. Poor guy.
Next came the radio play auditions, something that I didn't take part in last year but was looking forward to this time. I got my form, and filled out my preferences (any part, think I can do a Scottish/British accent, no to cats and dogs) and had a nice chat with Kathy Pogge before I was called in to the audition. I ended up reading the Brooklyn part in the audition package, and even though I was one of the last, Greg Weisman told me that I was the first to read for that part so far. "Really," I said, though I was thinking "cha-ching". So I read the part, and then read the part again from a farther distance, trying to use all my experience as a drill instructor in cadets to get the emoting across. Greg seemed impressed enough, told me I had done a good job, and so that was the end of that audition. I went outside, met with Stormy, Mercedes and Andrew again; it was getting late, and we wanted to find some supper before the fast-approaching Opening Ceremonies.
I can't understand the difficulty we had in getting food. Everything we could find in the cafes nearby was closed or too expensive, and it took us nearly fifteen minutes to find a sandwich bar that had enough to sate us. We grabbed our food and raced back to the hotel; I had time to eat half of my salad and half of the sandwich before people got called in to the ball room for the opening gala. I sat with Stormy and told her most of what to expect, though I was surprised at how many were there. The room was full, it seemed, much better than last years had been, and even Greg seemed surprised. I got to catch up with Wingless, Gabarus and a few other old and dear friends. Karine Charlebois, the con chair, got up and gave a speech, and that was when Maui and Abe Wintersmith got up and hijacked the convention for the Clan Olympics.
I had been signed up for this by Flanker, and I owe him big-time for that. I had been conscripted onto Team Canadian Body Massage, a WTF name if ever I heard one, though I must confess that we had one of the fuller esprit-de-corps' to be found. It was a neat excuse to wave my Acadian flag, anyway, and try to get it on the DVD, but any pretense at dignity was soon gone as I stood in front of the Gathering wearing a ripped T-shirt, having plastic balls stuffed down my front. And we didn't even win, even though we cheated fair and square. I had my suspicions that it was rigged, though I at least got to shout "Acadie!" at the DVD crew, and that made things somewhat okay. During the aftermath, Greg Weisman found me and told me that they had forgotten to get me to try the accents during the radio play auditions, and so that would have to be one of my first goals for the next day.
The opening ceremonies continued with a pitch for the 2005 Gathering in faraway Las Vegas, and they sold me completely and utterly, so long as I'm not doing an overseas placement for med school in Africa or Southeast Asia. After that, Greg took the podium, talked about the DVD release, and then showed off the goods – the pitch reels, the storyboards, the concepts for some of the thwarted spinoffs, and the voice recordings for the Team Atlantis episode "The Last", all of which I'd seen and heard but which Stormy had not. She was delighted, and I was pleased that I knew what to expect. With that, the Opening ceremonies ended, and I went out to do the social thing that was, is, and ever shall be the centrepiece of my Gathering experiences. I totally skipped out on the Clan Olympics for it, leaving Flanker in the lurch and causing Maui no end of grief (she hates me still, as far as I can tell), but it couldn't be denied; it was time to see Montreal. Poor Stormy had to go to bed; she was exhausted from the trip and wanted to make sure that she could attend the masquerade the following night. So Ellen, Allaine, Princess Alex and myself headed to the outside world, bound for Ellen's old stamping grounds from her McGill days and some of the Italian restaurants there. There was quite a bit of talk about writing and baseball and inclement weather: I had lived through my first hurricane last year, while Ellen and Allaine had spent some time together watching the Cubs play. It was a fine meal with good friends, and for the first time in months I was hearing fanfic writers talk about stories that had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with giant transforming robots. It's enough to make me believe in God.
On the way back, Ellen and I talked a little bit about fanfic, and I ended up mentioning that I was thinking of giving it up again. I told her that I felt I wouldn't have enough time, that I wanted to spend the writing time I had on work that I could publish, that there wasn't enough time to get my name out there if I spent it working on fanfiction. In her infinite patience, she told me that was fine, but then told me that if I really wanted to write fanfic then I shouldn't stop myself, because forcing myself to write what I wasn't interested in was a sure recipe for dissatisfaction and frustration. (At least, that was the gist of it; the conversation extended over several city blocks, at least). I had to admit that the original, artsy-fartsy stuff I had been writing had been utterly less than satisfying, and that the most success I'd had so far had been with poetry and with a story based loosely on my fanfics, and that the rest was shaping up to be elegantly written garbage. So I had been given something to think about as we got back to the hotel, something that carried on into a conversation with Ellen and Alex in Ellen's hotel room as we waited for the blue mug-a-guest with Greg to start.
We showed up with a few minutes to spare and joined the crowd; Greg was a few minutes later than he'd been scheduled (though he hadn't entered Keith David territory yet), and as soon as he showed up, the questions began. The thing was, for a blue mug a guest, the questions were surprisingly tame. They were mostly about the DVD rather than any positions or fetishes, and most of the revelations (that I was there for) had to do with special features and such, not like the bombshells of gargoyle sexual orientation that had galvanized the conventions last year. But that was okay, and the theory is going that had Thom Adcox been there then things might have gotten raunchy quickly. Or pantsless. Or both.
At about one o'clock, Flanker and I left the mug-a-guest and went out to explore a bit more of Montreal by dark. We ended up at a small tavern just off of Ste. Catherine Street (another goal!) where I had a pint of Stella Artois and he had a cup of coffee, though something got lost in translation, because he said that he didn't want any "fancy coffee" and the waitress apparently took this to mean that he did, in fact, want fancy coffee. But things were soon settled, and we sat and talked about military matters, his panel earlier in the day, and a few of his experiences overseas in Bosnia through the Canadian reserves. It was a great conversation, one that will go down as one of the memorable moments of the Gathering for me; we came back to the hotel and parted ways, and then I stumbled upstairs to bed. Stormy, Mercedes and Andrew were sound asleep in the bed; I got a few pillows from the front desk, found a blanket in the closet, and made a nest on the floor to try and while away the few remaining hours of the night, my first in Montreal.

Saturday, August 7

I had spent much of the night shivering; the fan was up too high and it was bloody cold, and I hadn't gotten much sleep until I had cranked 'er up to Saharan comfort. Nevertheless, I woke up at seven that morning raring to go, running on five hours of sleep. I went to the hotel pool for a brief swim, and then got back to go to breakfast with Stormy, Mercedes and Andrew at the Deli Planet café in the Gare Centrale. We caught up on a few old-times stories, and then got back to the hotel in order to go our separate ways again. I went back to the Radio Play auditions, both to hold a place for Stormy while she checked out the art room, and to follow instructions and give my impression of Scottish and British accents. It was in a different room than the day before, so I followed a crowd of people to find it, heading for the auditorium. Maui was greeting people as we walked in, and she looked delighted to see me. "Witless!" she said. "You're coming back to Clan Olympics!"
"Wait a minute, this isn't the radio play auditions?" I asked.
She punched me in the shoulder and chased me away, calling me nasty names.
When I finally got to the St. Charles room for the auditions, Greg called me Brooklyn and the "cha-ching!" sound went off in my head again; nevertheless, I tried reading Hudson's lines for the accent tests, and they went a little less successfully. Now if there had been a character speaking in an Acadian accent, I would have nailed it, but alas, there was no Avalon Tour episode about Goliath and the others ending up in Bathurst and having to speak in chiac and play the spoons, so I was out of luck. Stormy did well, too; she told me that she had been asked to meow like a cat, and she just imitated our Smokey doing his morning dance for food and attention. It apparently impressed Greg, much more so than Smokey impresses us. This didn't take all the allotted time, so I snuck into the Thrill of the Chase panel being put on by Spacebabie, Ellen and Christine. It was pretty neat; loads of cool suggestions about chase scenes, a discussion of the movie "Memento", and plus I got to talk a little bit about "Trailer Park Boys" (my new favourite show, go and find it, it should be on Bravo down in the States and most of it is on DVD now). That panel ended up going a little bit over time, as all of the best writing ones often do.
We stupidly decided not to get lunch, and instead just milled about chatting with friends and acquaintances, waiting for 12:30 when the radio play cast was announced. Both Stormy and I were chosen, as was the third member of Team Canadian Body Massage, and I could just imagine Flanker and Maui breaking down into fits of wailing and gnashing of teeth at our inconstancy. Stormy and I went to the room where people were getting set up for the weapons display by the Society of Creative Anachronism; we sat with Flanker, though I was not in the mood for watching people play with wooden swords and say "verily" a lot, and just before the demo started I announced that I was making the quintessential Canadian journey: the Tim's run. Flanker gave a me a toonie, and I set out up University Avenue to score some Tim Horton's coffee. As I was making my order, I ran into some American fans who had never been in a Tim Horton's before. "They take credit cards, right?" asked one of them, staring in confusion at the price lists and the wide array of crullers and donuts.
"Why wouldn't they take a credit card?" replied his friend, looking confident in her ability to buy bagels with plastic. I thought that I might perhaps watch the show, but I chickened out, and told them that every Tim Hortons in Canada that I'd ever been to was cash only. They looked vaguely horrified, but I think in the end that things worked out well.
I came back with the coffees to the weapons demo, and Flanker and I watched for a while. To my surprise, it was quite interesting, and the guys doing the swordplay seemed pretty cool. I think that after spending so much time in the insular cliques of medical school, the geekiness threshold is a little lower once you get to a place like the Gathering; fortunately, I got better. In fact, I figured that if my friends at school hadn't already googled my name and found my fanfic, then the fact that I had a chance at being on the DVD in my Dalhousie Medicine T-shirt would probably knock me out of the geek closet forever. I ducked out of the weapons show at the first break and went to watch the auction, long enough to watch a bidding war for an animation cell that went up to $455; it was a nice battle, but then it was time for the radio play auditions. I met Stormy and started heading for St. Charles; on the way we ran into Carole Wagner, who told us that the DVD crew had been wanting to interview us as one of the couples who had been brought together by the show. So we ran downstairs to the ball room to see if they were there; sadly, they weren't, and so we went back up to the auditions.
Greg gave out the parts first thing; I was awarded the role of Brooklyn, while Stormy got to be Cagney. We ran through the lines, floored by the sheer brilliance of the other actors, especially the two playing Elisa and John Castaway. Stormy went all out on her Cagney lines; I did my best to reach into the Brooklyn lines, especially the "parting is such sweet sorrow"; I concentrated as hard as I could on every ex-girlfriend I'd ever had for that one, and I thought it went fine. The audition ended on a positive note, and as Stormy and I left the room, Carole found us again and told us that the DVD crew wanted to try again.
We went down, and gave a ten minute long interview of which I'm sure they'll use about five seconds. It wasn't that hard for either of us; Stormy is money under pressure, to coin a phrase, and I'm so used to TV crews an audiences, not to mention that I think I was born with a silver tongue. We talked about how we had come to discover the show, how we had met, how long we had been (I ended up making a crack about my parents' frustration with the lack of an official wedding that I hope to every God and saint they cut from the footage) and then we gave each other a soft kiss on camera. It seemed sort of lame, but I have my doubts that they'd have used the raunchy French-kiss that I'd wanted to give her, so maybe it's all for the best. At the end, we were asked why we thought Gargoyles was so unique; I asked if I could be elitist, and then went off on a spiel about how it was a show unafraid to show its intelligence, and how it depended on becoming involved with the characters as though they were real people. Ellen was watching us do this and she tells me that she thought it was eloquent; I have my doubts, but when it comes to TV, I'm always a bit self-flagellating. After that it was time to run upstairs and get ready for the actual performance of the radio play. We had to wait for the DVD crew to arrive, but when they did, we tore right into the performance of "The Journey", uncut and uncensored. I got a few wild whoops of applause when I stood up and was introduced as Brooklyn, which is always a wicked boost for the ego; I'm not sure how well I did with the lines, though, especially since the DVD crew came up and caught me on tape a few times. It's something I'd do again, though; loads of fun and lots of laughs. I got Greg to autograph both my and Stormy's scripts, and then we went to drop some things off in the hotel room before Stormy, Mercedes and I took off to find some food and explore the city.
We walked to the metro station at Victoria Square, pretty much just to say we took it, and we rode it two stations down to the Old Port, or Vieux-Montreal. We walked past a bunch of weddings in the public square and got a bit of the flavour of the place; after a short search for a nice restaurant, we ended up finding a fantastic place called Le Grill. Uncrowded and tucked away in a sort of alcove, with just enough shade to make it comfortable. We had a criminally good meal; I ate filet mignon and drank draft beer, and my companions ate just as well. After that we ended up walking up and down the streets looking for interesting things to see, and we came upon the medieval store that a few people had been talking about, Excalibor. (Is that French or just charmingly misspelled? I'm not sure). But the store was magnificent, and almost instantly I found a multi-coloured raven mask that I had to have. Mercedes bought a mask, and she and Andrew both bought pendants; only Stormy escaped, and she bought something at the native art store. Vieux-Montreal is horrific as temptation for impulse buys. We also went to see art galleries and a few of the streetscapes, including the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral. I had not spent a lot of time in Montreal before this, only a few hours spent waiting for connecting trains to Toronto or Moncton, so I was glad to see a bit more of the city than Gare Centrale. We ended up walking back to Chinatown, where I saw the Fu-Dogs at the gate on Rue Saint-Laurent, and we got to see it at a busier time than the day before. I also managed to see the street-sign for Rue Sainte-Urbain, or St. Urbain Street, the literary turf of one of my greatest heroes, the incomparable Mordecai Richler, famous for bringing that street to life in books like "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" and "St. Urbain's Horseman". Had I time enough and world, I'd have walked on that street for hours trying to retrace the steps, sort of like a Bloomsday pilgrimage in Dublin only with smoked-meat sandwiches; alas, time was getting late and we had to get to the hotel for the masquerade. Stormy had to finish her Quarryman costume, and Mercedes and I at least had masks now, though few clothes to go with it. We got back in time and got the costumes squared away, and then we went down to see what things would transpire.
The costumes were amazing, even though my wicked raven-mask robbed me of any semblance of peripheral vision; we enjoyed the masquerade and the cosplays even to the tune of the nurse's reunion singing karaoke next door. There were plenty of great costumes that took lots of hard work and effort, and I swear to God I'm dressing up as Bonavista next year if it kills me. Poor Lynati, though; her Ophelia costume was great, even if it was also late, but she at least got an honourable mention for it. I still have that stupid "I'm a Gargoyle Who's Afraid To Fly" song stuck in my head, every so often. Aneurhythms are dangerous things.
There was a party afterward, but we didn't stay; a crowd of us went upstairs to the hotel bar and had a few drinks. Stormy stayed till midnight, and Andrew came and had a few rounds, all the more poignant since he's not legal in his home country. I med Sadistic Cow and a few others, and Ellen and I started a few conversations about misbegotten golf games and classical music. The DVD crew came up again, though without their cameras; they'd had a long day, too, I gather, and I can't blame them for wanting a drink.
About fifteen minutes before one o'clock, when the bar was scheduled to close, Ellen pointed out that Mr. David had just appeared. She would know; she'd been to the banquet and had been enchanted by the stories that he had told, I turned around and saw Keith David sitting at the bar, and almost unbidden, I announced that I was buying him a drink, and then I was suddenly up and walking toward him. I think I was a little bit lit; I certainly was more courageous than I usually am, and that explains why I thought nothing of walking up the bar and saying "Mr. David, if you don't mind, I'd like the honour of buying this round."
He looked at me in surprise, then flashed me a wide and pleasant smile. "That's very kind of you," he said. I fished a twenty from my pocket and gave it to the bartender; he then gave Mr. David a double shot of Muscovskaya (I know because I kept the receipt; how's that for a souvenir?) that earned me only three dollars in change. I was startled, but I didn't show it; I left the toonie as a tip, then ran back to my table, got my beer, and joined Keith David for a drink. We had a long and pleasant conversation about medicine (he caught just from the way I talked that I'm interested in psychiatry and thinks that I should go for it). We talked about his interest in the ministry and his belief that acting is vocation as much as his job. We talked about good-and-evil, we talked about memorable roles, we talked about ideal Canadian cottage country and the beauty of Montreal. He bought the next round, and so I can say that Keith David bought me a pint of Sleeman's with as straight a face as I can manage. After a while, Ellen came over and introduced herself and told him a story about cremation magazines and centrefolds, and Keith laughed so hard that he nearly spilled something. It was just an awesome evening, and when it ended and Keith had retired for the night, the bar lights came on and we went back downstairs. So not only had I met my goal of buying Keith David a drink, but we had actually closed the bar down with him. The only think that would have made it perfect would be if we were in Halifax and he'd bought me a pint of Keith's Pale Ale, but that would have been asking too much.
We went downstairs for a few minutes and congratulated Greg on the birth of his nephew, and then Ellen, Kathy Pogge, Alex Garg and myself went up to Ellen's room for a nightcap. It was another brilliant conversation (I'm running out of superlatives, here) that touched on writing, on Freudian slips, on language, and on the fandom as a whole. We shared book recommendations and tales of reading, had a few final beers; however, I couldn't help but notice that a few times I had been talking about writing fanfic in the present tense, and I wasn't sure how scary that was. I noticed Ellen shooting me a few knowing smiles about it, though. She's wise, that one.
Finally, at quarter past three, I was on the verge of collapse and so I reluctantly took my leave. I went back downstairs to my room, still giddy at the events at the bar and the receipt in my pocket; that night, when I lay down in my blanket on the floor, I had no trouble at all finding sleep.

Sunday, August 8

I hadn't mentioned the Gargoyles Biology panel that I had been scheduled to give with Yggdrasil and Lynati up to this point; the reason is that I hadn't worked on it, and so waking up that morning was just like school; making a mad rush to the Tim Hortons with a notepad and jotting down discussion notes. It looked very much like my early mornings in undergrad when I'd stumble, bleary-eyed, to the Pit (the campus coffee store) and do the work that I should have done the night before. I got back in time to greet Andrew and Mercedes parents, and say goodbye to our friends, who were leaving early (They did come to the biology panel, but I was playing Teacher and so it was better to get it out of the way early). I went down to the Auditorium to get the talk ready. Check the lights, write a few things on the white-board, everything that those of us who've given thesis seminars know about first hand. This, though, was at least promising to be fun, though there was no degree lurking at the end of it.
It went spectacularly. We had a great crowd, and I was vastly impressed with the turn-out we had, considering that we were up against the adult round robin and the first of the mug-a-guests with Keith David (though we later found out that Keith hadn't made it to his first one, so maybe that's kind of unfair). Yggdrasil had got a powerpoint slide on genetic engineering ready, and Lynati had her notes on musculature and bone structure ready. I was acting more as facilitator, I suppose, but we had a lot of good questions and neat ideas on the metabolism of stone sleep, the mechanics of gargoyle gliding, the healing factor, the glowing eyes, etc. The DVD crew came in and filmed us, and so there's the geek closet just blown wide open, but it was still a great talk filled with neat ideas and fun people. Some people told me later that they wished Greg had been there, but I have the suspicion that Greg is just happier not thinking too much about the biology of the show. I'm sure many a B.Sc undergrad would feel the same way, given the opportunity. But I have to say it again; there are a lot of thoughtful and smart people in the fandom, many of whom have tried to look at the broader scientific questions that get asked with a series like this. There were even a few questions that flirted with the blue end of the spectrum, though everything ended up nice and PG friendly.
After this it was a mad-dash scramble to get checked out of the room and to stow our stuff in Ellen's room, and then we were immediately wrangled by Christine to go and start signing copies of the Phoenix Gate Anthology in the art-show room. I signed quite a few for the other authors and artists, and I also signed quite a few for a lot of fans who seemed amused at the whole idea of us sitting at the table and brandishing pens. I felt a little like a poser, and since Keith still hadn't come downstairs yet, I also felt a little like the opening-act who won't get off the stage to let the headliners come on. But we did get great seats for the mug-a-guest, and Keith finally did come downstairs; he got to talk to everyone except the PGA crew and Carole semi-firmly told him to sit down and start answering questions (Nicely, though; I'm mostly teasing. Mostly).
The night before I had been speaking with Keith one-on-one; this time I got to see him work the crowd. He's singularly charming and he answered every question with wit and a genuine sense of enjoyment. He's also a master of the artful segue, and quite often a seemingly closed question would branch off into a rich and expressive answer that had nothing to do with what had been asked, but gave a great glimpse into the mind of someone who clearly feels at home in his own skin and who viewed his craft as art and calling as much as job and paycheque. Just like in my conversation last night, his topics ranged from acting to philosophy, and I think he would have gone on for hours had not Carole insisted that he go and get some lunch before the closing ceremonies. With that, he took his leave, and the rest of us lingered and settled in to wait for the last Gathering event. I was starved and there was no time to run up to the Tim's; I went looking through the underground mall for something to eat but everything was locked up tight. Annoying, but hardly the end of the world; I figured I could live of my glycogen stores for a couple of hours and wait until the airport for food.
Closing ceremonies was kind of a blur; I was kind of distracted, wondering if we'd have time to be able to say proper good-byes to friends before having to run out and catch a taxi to the airport. We watched the art show awards, and Stormy was amazed at winning five ribbons (I was happy that the Whitbourne kitbash and Revel's picture with good ol' Witless in it won some accolades, but then again, I'm vicariously selfish). We got to hear the pitch for Las Vegas, and I decided that I would go as long as my projected voyage to Africa for school next summer allows it. I also had to explain my T-shirt (it says "MEAT" and has a picture of a T-bone steak with a caduceus on it). a few people asked about it, and I had to tell them that it was a shirt printed for our joke-gentlemen's club at school. MEAT stands for Medicine, Ethanol, And Testosterone. It'll be on the DVD, I assume, since the crew was there for the biology panel, so of anyone's curious, that's it.
The ceremonies ended earlier than I expected, and so Stormy and I had time to join the line to have Keith sign our Phoenix Gate anthologies after all. Stormy showed him the Goliath she had dressed up in drag for the art show, and he thought that was flipping hilarious. He also sang to her; a riff on her fan-name, which he justified by saying that he'd had a friend nick-named Stormy when he was younger. He signed her book, and that book's now at her parent's house in Clifford, Ontario, stored safely away for posterity.
I got him to sign my book, too, right on the front page of my story. He remembered me from the night before and we followed up for a moment on the conversation we'd had. Once he got a close look at my name, he looked up at me and asked if I was familiar with the works of Dylan Thomas.
I nodded. "I was named after him, actually," I said, and this is true, though my parents hadn't read any of his poems and they just thought his name was interesting.
"He had some good advice," Keith said, and then he took my book and his pen again. At that point he'd simply signed "To Dylan – all the best", but he then added "& remember, do not go gentle into that good night". I've never planned on doing so, but now I have even more incentive. Thanks, Keith.
Time was growing criminally short, now, and the last of the Gathering was spent saying farewells to all of our friends again. Lynati, Wingless, Allaine, Kathy, Maui, Princess, Mara, Aaron, Spacebabie, Revel, Dan, Flanker – the list is endless, with so many dear friends to speak of that it's impossible to name them all. We didn't pre-register for the Gathering next year, there just wasn't time, but we both know that unless we're in faraway lands at the same time as the Gathering, we'll be there in Las Vegas. Heck, I'm actually buying a guitar and learning to play it just for next year's Gathering, so I can go as Bonavista. (And now that's on the Internet, so people can hold me to it as though it were a legal contract.) We got to prolong the farewell with Ellen, mostly because we were stashing our swag in her room for the afternoon, but in the end we had to say bye to her too, and that one was just like last year's for me; bittersweet, with the promise of a Gathering reunion the next year.
We left, pretty low-key, got our stuff, took a taxi to the airport; we talked of the Gathering the whole way there, confusing the driver, I'm sure, and we looked back at the Montreal skyline, wishing we were staying but knowing that the real world was beckoning. We got to the airport; twenty minutes, thirty-one bucks, just like last time, and did the dance of the Infernal Check-In, with its ritual questions of "did you pack your bags yourself" and "did you leave them unattended" to round out the routine. We ate junk food for supper and then boarded the plane; on the way there I ran into one of my friends from med school, who had been in Montreal visiting friends. We talked for a few minutes, but we didn't say much; she ran into a friend of hers from undergrad, and Stormy and I were tired, but still, that time we spent waiting in the gate seemed to sum it all up. At one end of the chairs was my friend Erin, where we talked about med school and Halifax, but then I went back to my own seat and read the stories in the Phoenix Gate Anthology until it was time to board the plane. Real-life and fan-life have always been sort of an interesting dichotomy for me, and somehow that image, so close to the end of the Gathering, lingers as much as anything else that happened that weekend.
On the plane ride home, I fussed and fidgeted for a while, and then turned on my laptop and started editing a fanfic story that I hadn't touched in three months. It felt right and proper. It won't ever get me published, and sometimes I fear that the crowd who reads that is ever diminishing, but still, it felt good. Stormy looked at me with patient understanding; Ellen, I'm sure, would have beamed. It wasn't all that productive; by the time I started getting into the editing groove we were landing in Halifax and catching our bags and finding the car, but it was there. The Gathering had brought me back into the fold.
I'm writing this a couple of weeks after (as a crappy postscript, I just found out that the alternator on our car went and it needs to be replaced, something that seems to be a shortly-after-the-Gathering tradition) but I'm still feeling the buzz. I'm going to show my family and friends the Phoenix Gate story, and I'm going to natter them into buying the DVD. I'm going to look into going to Africa next summer but I'm also going to make sure I have time to go to Vegas. I'm going to learn to play the guitar and make enough money that I can buy all the guests a round for next year. And most importantly of all, I'm going to get out my laptop more and write, as much and as often as I can about the things that command me to write about them. It won't always be fanfic; other muses lurk in the ether that have visions of the Giller, the Booker and the Nobel prizes in their heads, but it will be what I enjoy. That's the legacy from the Gathering that I want to keep.
See you all in Vegas.

Greg responds...

I'm not sure if the reposting was necessary... but what the hey! More diaries the merrier.

Response recorded on May 04, 2006

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