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Late Saturday, August 7 - The Weekend, Pt. 2:
Gee, I wonder how many Disney cartoons he could have been talking about, given the activities in the hotel. I suppose they could have just gone on some drunken tangent about Duck Tales, but was pretty sure the guy was talking about Gargoyles and those of us attending the Gathering.
I am a magnificent eavesdropper. I know it's rude, I know I shouldn't do it, but it's just one of those things I do very well; and when the conversation relates (in some way) to me, well, I grant exceptions in my morals to listening in on people talking about me behind my back.
Their conversation started off pretty typically - what nerds, why bother, yadda-yadda; stuff I'm used to hearing being the Gargoyles geek that I am and things I pretty much ignore. I was about to tune out when as the conversation turned to what was going on downstairs, the costumes, karaoke and the like, but then they started talking about crashing the party.
I don't go to many conventions and see my online friends all that often, so when I do attend such events I appreciate them *not* being crashed. They passed around the straw to see who was going to go down and scout it out, come back and bring the others for a good ol' party crashing. They came to a guy who, apparently, had some connection with the group (I would find out what later) and spiced up the bet. The bet was that he couldn't come back to the bar in 10 minutes with a girl from downstairs and the pot was set at $17.
As the group was finalizing their plans, Keith David entered the bar and Ellen and Dylan began talking about inviting him over. All right, so, people were about to go downstairs to crash the party and an opportunity to share drinks with Keith David had just entered the scene.
Stop party crashers, drink with Keith, stop party crashers, drink with Keith...
Ellen and Dylan decided not to invite Keith over - Dylan instead opted to buy Keith a drink - and so my course was clear. When the crashing scouts left the bar, I followed.
Of course, I made no attempt to be stealth-like in my pursuit - the objective was an interception, not make sure they involve a fellow Con-goer in their sick little bet - and they, guy and a girl, spotted me. I was quick to let them know that I had overheard their conversation and wasn't going to give them a free ticket down.
They denied wanting to *crash* the Gathering but the guy did fess up to his boss' bet. Okay, let's back that up - this guy's boss bets him that he can't get a girl back to the bar in 10 minutes. Are you feeling a little repulsed by his boss, too? The guy turns on the charm and appeals to me man-to-man, thinking that I'm going to sympathize and approve of the bet to lure a girl back to the bar. He even tries to slip a bribe by me.
In what some might consider counter to a federal employee's stereotyped first instinct, I refused.
So he tries the backup plan - feign interest in the Gathering. All right, semi-weak spot, semi-opening to get him to leave: if you ask me about the fandom and the Gathering, I'll tell you all you want to know. My thought process was to use that to *maybe* get him to forget about the bet or bothering us and just part ways peacefully. It worked to some extent, however I talked it up a bit too much and they insisted on seeing everything that was going on. Plus in the course of conversation it was discovered that they were from the D.C. area as well, so we ended up talking a bit about all that was going on at home which, although it eased any tension that was between us, took away a bit of my edge.
In any event, we headed down to the ballroom - the two of them looking for their target, me looking for security - and then they revealed who their target was. "Kelly." Earlier I had seen the Kelly I've been hanging around with go to the bar in proximity of the guy, but she had gone to bed a while earlier; so I told him that Kelly was my roommate, asleep, and "probably not" going to go back with him to the bar.
He looks into the room - "No, there she is."
Ah, see, it didn't help that there were three Kelly's at the Gathering and that his "Kelly" I know as Sapphire. So... instead of diverting him, I led him right to his objective.
*heavy sigh of defeat*
Sapphire came over, greeted the guy and invited him in - you have to invite a vampire into your house before they can attempt to suck your blood - and I left; I don't need to be defending people I don't know and who are very capable of handling themselves.
She sums up the event in her journal as follows:
"I had to lay down for a while because I was feeling ill. I went to the bar to get something to settle my stomach. A guy, Nate, came over and started hitting on me, and wouldn't let me go back down to the convention. Once I left, he even came down to the convention to see what it was about (which is fine because I told him he could). Luckily he left shortly, I think we were too weird for him."
As I said, I went back to the bar feeling pretty rotten about the event - namely my handling of it, particularly in hindsight - and saw Dylan and Keith sharing a drink. Ellen shared an anecdote with Keith that had him laughing (it's actually very funny, but you'll have to have Ellen tell it because I can't). The guy, of course, came back to the bar without Sapphire and was chided by his coworkers - no big loss.
We stuck around the bar until it closed then went down to see if the ball was still going. There were a few people left but it was clearly winding down for the night (/morning - it was 1 a.m. at this point). Continuing my wallflower state I hung around while Ellen and Greg talked about baseball and his brother's website. Had I known that Greg was leaving early I would have spoken more - not that I had much to say, I just like the guy - but, alas, I missed my chance.
The party ended and we brought Kathy into the group - now just down to me, Kathy, Dylan and Ellen - as we headed up to Ellen's room to just hang out. The coffee I had sucked down plus my mind rolling over and over the earlier episode and how it could have gone even worse were keeping me up, so I gladly stuck around.
Again I didn't talk much - seriously, I love to listen more than chat. The three of them, among my inspirations for writing, talked back and forth about books they liked, writing techniques they used, etc., so for me, just kicking back and listening in on all this was great. Dylan left around 3 and Ellen booted Kathy and me out about a quarter to 4.
I was still very much awake at that point - again, more from continually going over and over the night's events more than the coffee - and just wandered around the hotel. At that point, it registered that the Gathering would be ending soon and, well, that just saddened me. Eventually my body cried out and my brain allowed it to return to the room to lie down.
So at 4:15 a.m. I plopped down on the floor and my eyes shut - brain very much stayed on. No sleep.
Next, "The Weekend, Pt. 3"
Geez, that "boss". Creepy is right. Uggh.
Saturday, August 7 - The Weekend, Pt. 1:
Woke up 7-ish and grabbed some breakfast before heading off to Ellen, Christine and Spacebabie's panel regarding chase scenes in fiction and what makes a good one. They all seemed rather tired, but despite that the panel turned out well - good participation from the audience (although they all seemed tired, too - for once I was ahead of the sleep curve).
I stopped by the mezzanine to take a look at the cast list for Radio Play around noon and was very happy to see that I had made the cut - along with about 30 other people. Largest cast ever.
Grabbed lunch with Kelly and we pretty much just hung out in the restaurant. From there it was on to Radio Play rehearsals where we learned that we'd be doing the uncut version of "The Journey." I was Art, and I had fun with it.
I filled out the audition sheet as "Alex Garg" - Greg inserted "Alex 'Carter' Garg" on his own. Greg remembered my name... I'm so happy.
Radio Play was well-attended, thanks to the staff closing everything else so people would sort of be forced to attend. A good strategy as last year's Radio Play's audience was sparse. Of course, the DVD crew was also there, so maybe they'll get a shot of my head or something. Overall, the show went very well and everybody seemed to have a great time with it. We had a bit of a break before the Banquet and I used that time to, once again, retreat to the room - briefly.
The Banquet was definitely something else. At the table were me, Kelly, Leo, Denis, Ellen and James Anatidae. It was a fantastic meal. At some point near the end Keith David finally showed up, having escaped filming yet another movie, and was bombarded with questions before he could really get a chance eat. I was tempted to ask, "Would you like to eat before we continue?" but decided not to be a jerk - the group doing karaoke in the next room had that covered.
We got a break after the Banquet/Q&A to retreat to the room, and on our way down to the Cosplay we encountered Keith who, as it turns out, would be staying on our floor - not that we interacted much with him, but it was still cool to know that Keith David was right down the hall.
Let's talk about Cosplay for a second. I don't know if it was Montreal, the DVD crew or just a huge collective effort this year, but the costumes were above and beyond. Seriously, some great work. My camera wasn't working, though, so I don't have any pictures.
I didn't stick around for the Ball - never have, I don't dance - and instead went with Ellen, Dylan, Stormy and a couple of others to the bar (they had drinks, I had coffee). Leo and Kelly showed up later and joined in. I didn't really say much, as always more content to listen. This kept my ears sharp for them to pick up from behind me "It's a [cut] Disney cartoon!"
Next, "The Weekend, Pt. 2"
Hey, Carter, of course I know your name! It usually takes me two cons to get an individual's name down, but I try my best.
Friday, August 6 - It Begins:
Nobody bothered to inform my internal clock that I was on vacation and didn't need to be up *nearly* as early as I was. However, it gave me time to freshen up before we all went down to breakfast with Kathy and Ellen, the whole group being me, Kelly, Leo, Denis and Rob. After that we kind of scattered - registration was moved to noon so I just hung out in the mezzanine and talked to folks as they came by.
After a while registration opened and we got our packets - con badge, schedule (which was really something else), PGA and shirt (I ordered an XL, I was presented with a small (made the exchange for a large later)). I flipped through the PGA and was very, very impressed. The stories are truly top-notch, and I'm still surprised that I'm in it. The back of the book says, "This anthology contains ten stories and eleven pieces of art, brought to life by eighteen of the fandom's top authors and artists," and to be in that list (given all of my literary accomplishments) is something else. Still amazed.
At some point Ellen asked if we all wanted to go on a walking tour of downtown Montreal - Ellen's old stomping grounds - and we agreed, we being me, Kelly, Leo, Denis and Kathy. It took a while for us to assemble - whenever one of us showed up, another had to run back to get something - but we eventually made it out of the hotel.
Montreal is a beautiful city, a great mix of modern architecture with an old world atmosphere. We stopped by the Notre Dame Basilica and Chinatown (all very nice) and then started looking for a place to eat. What we hadn't done, however, was check our watches, and when we did we realized that we were all going to be late for panels we wanted to attend (and I had missed Spacebabie's Round Robin). So we had to cut short our plans to eat out and headed back to the hotel. We passed Ellen's alma mater on the way and she and Kathy eventually ducked into a cafeteria. As became a theme with me this Gathering, I wasn't hungry and, with the others being similarly without appetite, we made our way back to the hotel to attend Flanker's panel. From there I was off to Radio Play auditions.
Last year I had the role of Thailog, so I wasn't too nervous going in - right up until the DVD crew showed up. For a second it looked like they were going to film my audition, but they did not. I read as Lex, got nods of approval from Greg and Jen and left it in their hands. As I stepped out of the audition, the DVD camera was *right there.* There was only one thing I could do - look like a deer in headlights, give them a quick nod with a smile and dart away. I hope that doesn't make the cut - nobody needs to see a sleep-deprived, tired, startled Carter.
I had been very excited about the DVD crew being there, but I pretty much made it my business to avoid them. Not that I'm camera shy or anything - not by any means - I just didn't really have anything to say and I wasn't doing anything particularly interesting. So, you know, there was no point in getting in their way.
Anyway, I went back to the room and hung out with Kelly for a while until Opening Ceremonies. LOTS of first-timers at this one, close to half of the attendees. We saw the videos, Greg played a tape of many Gargoyles-involved people and we heard the pitch for the 2005 Gathering - we're goin' to Vegas!
Opening Ceremonies also included the first Clan Olympics event - many, many teams involved - that was hilarious and chaotic. After that event we went back to the room to hang out for a brief time before the Blue Mug-A-Guest. It was at this event last year that I "earned" the title "Creepy" - *poke at Greg* - so of course I was going to participate in this one. The event was going to be held in the con suite and about 60 people packed in, even though there was really only comfortable room for about half that.
It wasn't very "blue," if you will - they scheduled it before the regular Mug-A-Guest, so the many took the opportunity to ask the regular questions; that plus all the exciting DVD news was on people's minds. I would have stayed around longer but I was suddenly overcome with sleep and ducked out about 12:30 a.m.
So ended the first official day of the Gathering.
Next, "The Weekend, Pt. 1"
I love those late night sessions, whether or not they turn blue.
Thursday, August 5 - The Longest Freakin' Day:
On the road again...
Leo and I left Niagara Falls about 8:30 and had no problems getting across the border - I know, we were spoiled. Once we were across the border we sent Kelly a heads-up to let her know that we were on the way. After making that call, Kathy called to ask if I would pick up her roommate at the airport after she arrived - to which I agreed.
Hamilton should have given us a warning of traffic to come. I'm used to one-way streets, that wasn't an issue, but not an entire city of one-way streets. I managed it, however (though I almost went the wrong way down one of those pesky one-way streets), and found parking.
We found Kelly, I dropped off Squidgy's toys, Leo scared Squidgy off by taking many, many, many pictures of her, Kelly and I exchanged CDs (which I wasn't originally aware that we were doing, but it worked) and we were off once again.
Toronto is a very impressive city - skyscrapers, CN Tower, etc., much like NYC; and the traffic's about the same. This didn't help us when the GPS decided that we should see Toronto more closely and turn off the highway an exit too soon. We were never *lost* in Toronto, despite what Kelly and Leo might describe in their journals, we stayed on the same street the entire time - we just had trouble finding a suitable exit.
Anyway, because the GPS was kind enough to take us off the highway then peter out (going back to that problem of not managing to download the detail maps), Leo was left to navigate. He got us onto a parkway which led us back to the highway and we fled Toronto hastily.
A short time after noon Lord Sloth (Rob) called and wondered if we could still swing by and pick him up, and I had no problems doing so - well, I had no problems agreeing to do so anyway... sort of.
Cell phone coverage was less than sharp along that stretch of highway which led to some amusing conversation.
Rob: "I'm wearing a white shirt." + cell phone static = "What's your insurance?"
Me: "...State Farm...?"
Less amusing was the fact that when he said we should take the third exit into Kingston we just took the third in a series of seven exits and ended up far, far off course. However, like in Toronto we got through it and picked up Rob without further incident - unless you count the fun we had at the A&W store when trying to pick up food.
Let's not go there.
It was more smooth sailing from Kingston to Montreal, but it was in Montreal that things got very, very interesting and frightening. Like with any metropolis, traffic piled up when we were about 20 minutes out. Then it piled up some more. Then some more.
I've had this route planned for months down to the mile and minute - unfortunately, I must have thought that Rush Hour didn't exist in Canada because that's when I planned the minute I'd arrive in Montreal. On top of that, the drivers in that part of the country are, to put it nicely, insane. So, we were approaching a metropolis in Rush Hour conditions with the worst drivers Canada has to offer.
To this respect, Montreal is Canada's Washington, D.C. - I was home.
On top of the traffic, Rob let us know that he needed to be at the hostel by 6 (it was around 4:45 when we learned this) otherwise they were going to drop his reservation. The crunch was on.
As at home as I was with the traffic patterns, it took a second to dawn on me that I had crossed over to the other side - the tourist. I can't stress how often I grind my teeth at a Georgian who swerves from lane to lane playing dodge-car with Marylanders, or how often I need to charge around a New Yorker who is obeying the posted speed limit in spite of the flow of traffic. Now, I could imagine the Quebecers who took a glance at my Virginia tags and felt their hearts sink at the knowledge that this tourist was going to throw a wrench into their traffic.
And how I did.
All right, let's talk a little bit about that sketch tunnel that welcomes you into Montreal. Because, you know, it's sketch - at least if you're trying to get to University St. The signs... kind of don't exist for that until you get *out* of the tunnel, if you get out at the right exit. I did not get out at the right exit. So, confused, I got back *into* the tunnel and popped out even farther from where I needed to be. From there, things got weird.
I fumbled through Montreal until we got to a major road at which time I pointed towards downtown and hoped to cross University. Let's talk about this road that I turned on.
Okay, imagine your standard four-lane road. On the far right you have your bus/taxi lane, on your far left you have your turning lane - all normal; the middle two lanes are, instead, one big-ass lane that two cars share. To repeat - that two cars share.
Never have I heard of such a thing, much less driven such a thing. I would have been more than happy to turn off of it, but Leo had discovered that the road took us almost directly to Rob's hostel (it was about 5:30 at this point). Traffic was heavy, time was running out, and I was completely in the dark as to what was going on. Eventually I got sick of it all and just sank into D.C. commuter mode.
I must have angered many a Quebecer, much less scared Leo, Kelly and Rob - but I give props to my mad driving skills (Kathy, if you're reading this, stop laughing).
With about 10 minutes to spare we dropped Rob off a block from his hostel, and he reported later that he got his reservation with four minutes remaining. With that mission accomplished, we made it to the hotel (after having to briefly leave Montreal) and got ourselves squared away.
I had planned to arrive with enough time to relax myself, but the traffic ordeal had made it so that I had to leave the hotel to pick up Denis and Kathy pretty much as soon as I stepped into the room.
Off I went.
Getting to Dorval was simplistic - just had to take a highway and follow the signs. Again, the Maryland-like driving qualities of Quebecers, the setting Sun in my eyes and a really sketchy roundabout kept me on my toes. I saw that Denis' flight was two hours delayed and was going to come in about the same time that Mandi, Kathy's roommate, would be coming in, so fortunately I would only have one more trip after this one. I picked up Kathy without much of a wait and it was back to Montreal.
Determined not to make the same traffic mistakes I had made on my first ride in, I made new ones. This included screwing up the tunnel again *and* running a red light - first time for everything. Overall, though, getting Kathy to the hotel was much, much easier than getting my roommates there.
Had a little downtime in the room then it was off to get Denis and Mandi. At least, we left the room to do so. Kathy and I decided that since customs was adding an hour to people's wait times we would just hang around the lobby. Oh, boy, talked to a lot of people (Michael, Lenny, Mara, A Fan... lots more), saw Greg show up (tired) and then we were off.
Mandi showed up... Denis didn't. After an hour, Denis still hadn't shown up. After an hour and a half and learning that British Airways was undergoing a complete meltdown at Dorval... Denis didn't show up.
We waited until midnight for Denis and then figured that he'd be intelligent enough to realize that we weren't going to wait around all night and just take a shuttle. This he did - just two hours earlier, minutes before we showed up at Dorval.
Got to the room at 1 a.m., unrolled the airmat that my fellow office intern loaned me and called it a day - a long, long day.
Day's mileage: 480
Total mileage: 930
Wow... you are a generous and dedicated soul.
Tuesday, August 3 - Prologue:
Typical day at work. Got up around 7:30 a.m., out of the house around 9, in by 10 (love that summer recess intern work schedule: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.). I left a note for my parents to dig up my passport so I'd be all good to cross the border - for years I've insisted on keeping it, but they've always said that it would be better for them if they kept everybody's stuff together. At about 11 I get a call from my dad - Dad never calls my office unless it's something big.
Mom was sick and couldn't remember where my passport is (she was under the impression that I had it. See note above, understand the minor headache that washed over me at that moment). So, I said that I'd just go with my birth certificate.
Apparently, that's with my passport.
Fortunately, I was born in D.C., so I cut out from work early to head down to D.C. Vital Records to pick up a new certificate. I don't know if it's because I work for the bureaucracy that has made me immune to fear of bureaucracy (the DMV doesn't scare me, either) or that I was too dedicated to getting this checked off my list that I wasn't thinking about what a trip of this nature entailed, but I set off to do it anyway.
There's nothing like walking in a suit in 90 degrees + humidity for a mile-and-some to get you in the mood for filing paperwork. And, of course, there's nothing like sitting around for 80 minutes while the people who came in after you get their certificates first to keep that energy going, not to mention the words of encouragement coming from the man who had been waiting five hours for his certificate.
So, after that long wait I got what I sought and was on my way. I did all my packing that night, made Kelly her mix CDs, double and triple checked with the hotels that all my reservations were in order and took a good, long sleep in preparation for tomorrow.
Here's what I didn't do: get drinks for the ride, get Kelly's cat, Squidgy, any toys and download the maps I needed to my GPS - I had the route in there for about a week, just not the maps along the way. I could do those in the morning.
Wednesday, August 4 - Onward:
Dad woke me up on his way out at around 7:30 a.m. and we had our goodbyes. I went through my morning routine and was out the door at about 8:30 to take care of the last-minute details of my trip and I left the computer to download those GPS maps. While out I picked up the drinks, an Arnold Schwarzenegger "The Governator" chew toy and scratching post for Squidgy, a 128 MB memory disc for my digital camera and a new pair of headphones for Kelly as a belated birthday present (Squidgy had destroyed hers a few days earlier).
I returned home about 9:45 to check on my maps, only to see warnings that my device didn't have enough room to hold them all and the map of Montreal was corrupted. So after sacrificing the maps of D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania and greater Ontario in order to keep maps of the key cities *and* reinstalling Montreal… I was out of time. Leo was due into Dulles at 11:10 and, the airport being 40 minutes away, I needed to go.
At 10:06 I posted in my LJ "See you all in Montreal!!!" and was off shortly thereafter - quickly grabbing a road atlas on my way out.
No problems at Dulles, other than getting together with Leo, but through much of the morning we didn't have any incident. We stopped in Altoona, Pa., for a bit of lunch about 1:30 p.m. but for the most part had a straight shot - although through some very windy, skecthy back roads.
One of the great things about today was that my older sister was on her way *back* from Canada and pretty much along the same route. She gave me a ring at some point in the afternoon that she had just gotten through a major storm in Pa. and wanted to know where we were.
We were just entering the storm at that point.
It was, well, massive, and we had to pull over a few miles east of Du Bois to wait it out, but from there (I promise this time) - straight shot.
Pennsylvania is entirely too big, BTW.
We got into our hotel in Niagara Falls, N.Y., around 7:30 p.m. without much trouble and ordered a pizza for dinner (culture clash - how big is a sheet of pizza?) We called Kelly to let her know that we were just across the border and to confirm the time we'd be picking her up (and asked her the question above - she didn't know).
That night we had to contend with a very, very loud tour group that had taken up the hall. So, though I ended up sleeping soundly, it took a few hours to get there.
Day's mileage: 450
Next, "The Longest Freakin' Day"
Now, I've got two of you leaving me in suspense...
Thursday, Aug 5
Woke up and showered. Greg bought Donut Holes. I ate a few along with some coffee. Greg, Alex, Revel and I tried to wake up the others. We paused to admire Greg's action figures and Revel pointed out one of his Peter Parker figures appeared to be constipated. After a few laughs we managed to get the others up. I decided to show off and picked up Aaron from behind. He went LIMP and had to sit back down. Now I know how Lynati feels. (Ask her or Aaron about a certain Akon story)
We managed to get everyone fed and dressed and head out to the hardware store to pick up more supplies for Lynati's costume and then fill the cars with gas and the coolers with ice and sodas
We passed by the Catskills (More mountains and another Washington Irving Setting.)
The lines at the borders were long, but we managed to make it through. We pulled over to a rest stop to get better directions. It seemed the second we drove over the border the temperature dropped. Coat time! I tried to wait along with the others but because of my sandals. (Comfortable for traveling) I had to jump back into Hyena to warm up my feet. After we received directions we continued toward Montreal.
The star wars jokes picked up when we drove through this tight trench made up of cement dividers. As we drove up on the bridge into Montreal Greg noticed a big glowing red search light and made an LOTR joke. Our first exit was blocked off but we managed to find another one and drove towards the hotel.
Nearly everyone got out to find the real place to park and try to get our keys. Several people in the fandom were there to greet us including Sapphire, who looks totally differed sans glasses. We got out our suitcases and I watched the stuff while Revel and Emambu park the cars in the basement parking lot.
After dropping off our luggage we went down to socialize. I met with Ckayote from the S8 comment room: Another Floridian and a fellow Golden Knight. I tried to stay awake but I could actually hear the lullaby music form the Sims game in my head. I had to crawl into bed before I passed out on the lobby floor.
Next up Friday.
Sure... keep me in suspence... ;)
This is a DVD release question,which i bet has been asked a butt load, but i have just read on The Gathering site that the dvd release date is Dec 7, 04 i would like to know is this the offical date? is it subject to change? or has someone jump the gun yet again?
December 7th, 2004 was in fact the OFFICIAL release date of the first season DVD. And in December 2005 the first volume of the second season was released. Both are currently available.
(Second try. Not sure it made it the first time...)
Gathering 2004 Con Report/Journal
By Kaylee Skylyn
My gathering experience started well before the gathering. Little did I know what I was getting myself into when I volunteered to do the website for this years Gathering. Being a very shy person and very very thrifty I had never attended a Gathering before. Main reason tho is that I never considered myself a people person and was not fond of crowds, let alone crowds of virtual strangers, so never could bring myself to attend. After attending this year I can totally see why people make the Gathering a priority. The con staff was GREAT and the live meeting early in the year allowed me to get to know them first so I could better deal with everything else afterwards.
By being on staff I gained a good insight into how the Gathering worked and was amazed at the dedication people put into it. But my actual Gathering experience started days before the gathering when I tried to finish my costume in time. I'm such a procrastinator so had left it to the last week before hand. I only partly succeeded in finishing it. I ended up taking Wednesday off work to work on my costume and to pack. I was NOT ready to leave for Montreal yet so I really needed the extra day. There was much stress on Wednesday. Wednesday night I left Milton late and drove the 5 hours to my parents' house.
Thursday August 5, 2004
I got a few hours sleep then got up around 8:30 to say hello to my mom before grabbing breakfast and a few things then heading off the rest of the way to Montreal, which luckily was only 2 hours or so.
I arrived at Karines house around 12:30 to meet the rest of the staff and cart supplies to the hotel. After greeting everyone we trekked inside to get organized. We then piled into the van and car and took a bit of time for a Poutine lunch around the corner. The van was packed FULL of people, luggage and supplies so we filled the space left in my car. We unloaded everything at the Hotel and left most of the staff there to pack the envelops for registration while me and Karine gathered the rest of the supplies including the Anthology (which turned out wonderfully!) By the time we had most everything in place it was getting late and we sat down for a breather while Patrick and others took the van to pick up Greg at the airport.
When Greg arrived we all jumped up to greet him. Everyone was very happy to see him and stood back watching. This was my first time meeting Greg, I suspect he knew who I was by me being the only new face in the group and I was amazed how wonderful and …not aloof he was. Then we trekked down old Montreal looking for an open food place. We didn't have to go far so when we found one we crowded in. We ate, talked and laughed. Greg was a GREAT guy to hang out with, I can see why he is so well loved by the fans. After a nice dinner we walked back to the hotel. I love the old buildings in that section of town so I spent most of the walk looking around at the wonderful stonework. I also like how there are horse and buggies driving around and had to stop to say hello to an off duty horse (I love draft horses). When we got back to the hotel it was fairly late so we agreed to meet for a breakfast meeting the next morning then split up and headed to bed.
Photos from the day:
Friday August 6th 2004
I slept in a bit so had to wait for the shower, once it was free I took a speed shower but still was a bit late getting to the meeting. We walked down to a nearby breakfast restaurant and had a meeting during our time there. We went over who was doing what and made sure everything was covered. I don't remember what I mainly was doing… o_O I do remember running around a lot. I did my task then I tried to make sure everyone else had what they needed. The time flew and before I knew it it was 12 and someone asked me if the Perspective panel was still on so I took over setting up the Auction display while Karine ran down to do her panel. After everything in the dealers room was ready and people started filing in I started making sales from the Con table…despite not having the cash box. Heh…oh well. I make a few sales with exact change so that was good, and not hard as most were nice flat prices. The dealers room was fairly busy for a while and we sold a number of t-shirts ending up with only large left. That was encouraging. After things there settled down again I left Alan to cover the table alone and wandered about checking on things. It didn't take long for me to find another job and I spelled some staff off at the registration table. Part of me wanted to go to the radio play auditions but I knew I would not do very well. Being very shy and all, I also don't like to have the camera focused on me. I'd like to be on the DVD for a bit but am to self conscious for to concentrated attention.
Soon it was time for opening ceremonies and so we shut down the registration and started setting up for opening ceremonies. After we set things up and finaly got the equipment running properly we opened the doors and waited for our guest of honour to arrive. Apparently "Where's Greg?!? Is a very common question at the con. *giggles* Shortly after we had everyone and the staff went on stage, took their seats and Karine got started. I stayed below the stage with the crowd, not wanting all those eyes on my but also to run the tapes for Greg. I loved Gregs speech and the promotional videos of Gargs. They were great. And the tape of the other voice actors messages to us at the convention were very cool too. Very nice to hear them all. Being my first con these were all new to me and was great to see them, very cool to see what he went through to convince the others to make the show, and boy am I glad he succeeded!
After opening ceremonies many staff headed out to dinner with Greg again but I was exhausted so I went back to my room for a snack and a long nap. Happily I woke up just before the blue mug-a-guest so I headed up to the con suite and waited for Greg and the others. The room slowly filled and I'm sure we had more than the scheduled 30 people, not that Greg minded and we didn't have the heart to turn any away as long as there was room to breath. I LOVED the mug-a-guest! It was so cool to just sit and listen to Gregs comments on the show and the background of the show, gargoyle biology, love lives and other cool things. It was stated that this was the most tame mug-a-guest ever but I found it very cool that way. Finally Greg had to dash to the bathroom at 2 am and I took the opportunity to do the same. I was starting to nod off just before that so I decided to just go to bed lest I not be able to function the next day.
Photos of the day:
Saturday August 7, 2004
I managed to get just in time to make in to the con suite for our morning breakfast meeting. Having been a bit late getting back yesterday we decided to go to the hotel restaurant. We all went for the breakfast buffet being fast and lost of food…but it turned out to be darned expensive… We went over jobs and duties and quickly headed out to do our jobs. I ran to the store for a few things before heading up to watch the con suite. I managed to grab my costume and worked on the bottom hem (the only part of it unfinished) of it while I was watching the suite. If I hadn't of had that to work on I would have been quite nervous and fidgety. I like to feel like I'm helping out or at least working in some way.
Luckily Patrick was able to spell me off for a while and I caught the SCA combat demonstration, I was really looking forward to that. I was very thankful. It was cool, fun to see them play around with the swords and see the different styles. When they took a half hour break I rushed upstairs for a shower and then peeked in the con suite and took over the duties again...although sadly it was to late for him to catch the biology seminar. I felt bad (not having known he wanted to see it). So I returned to watching the con suite and working on my dress.
As radio play started Karine popped up and we closed up the con suite and I was SO GLAD I got to watch the radio play (I had forgotten what time it started). It was AWSOME!! I loved how everyone put so much into the voices and it went of so very well! So cool!
I think it was after radio play that they announced the music videos so I grabbed a con suite key and ran upstairs with the first elevator or fans. Saph still beat me to the door. *laugh* But I let them all in and started the videos, we had a good crowd. I passed around a sheet for them to vote on and we got quite a few votes down which was nice. My favourite of the videos won: Faint. So that was cool too, but they were all nicely done!
The time flew and it was time for the banquet before I knew it. My costumes bottom hem was not finished but I ran upstairs and changed into it anyways. While waiting for the elevator Greg came down the hall and I think the look on his face will be etched in my memory. A sorta double take-blink sorta thing. I think I surprised him with my costume. *giggles* I hope he liked it! I took a needle and worked on the finishing touch between courses. I got the front half of it completed and that was good. Made me happy because the back of the hem could be hidden by the cape.
The baquet was great! I really liked the food, although my table mates didn't seem to like it. *shrugs* I loved it. I also think If I am going to pay any sum of money for a banquet I want a NICE banquet, not a cheep buffet. And this banquet was a VERY NICE banquet. I really lucked out as well and I got the chocolate disert. The one I could actually eat too! Made me very happy and it was so taisty.
Near the end of the banquet our long awaited guest Keith arrived! He was greeted with warm applause. It was cool to see him, my first time putting the name to the face. We had a bit of a mug-a-guest as Keith tried to answer questions between bites of food (and he was sure trying to eat as fast as he could) Greg tried to answer questions as well but poor Keith still had trouble eating. For the two days he was at the convention I felt bad for him, as we never gave him a moments peace.
After the banquet we gave everyone some time to get into costume and us time to get ready for the Masquerade. After a while I wandered up to find some of the staff and me and Si decided to go through with our evil cos-play. We asked to go last rather than first because we were both so nervous. Si went as page-boy Tom and me as Princess Katherine so we played the scene where the Princess knights Tom as Guardian of the Eggs. But our evil twist, or Si's evil twist anyways, was that Tom jumps up and kisses Katherine at the end. So we decided to do that, but not really kiss but pretend to. I'm not sure I did very well….ok, I know I didn't. I totally blanked out when we got up there then totally lost my Princess Katherine accent…oy, I was embarrassed….but everyone seemed to like it as we did get some applause and the staff found it very funny. (as we had not told anyone except possibly our roommates, about our plan). Everyone's costumes were great! It was really great how almost all the staff had dressed up too. Very cool. I think the Mask was my favourite part. I'm hopping I can get on the DVD at least for a few seconds with my costume, but I kind of didn't go in the right spot for them to see me in the cos-play. I had my back to them…opps. Well there goes my only chance. Bla.
Afterwards we set up the music stuff and played some music but mostly they did Karaoke. I do not sing well and do not sing in front of others so I did not stick around for too too long. I did feel very bad about going to bed before Greg left as he was so great to just hang out with. I wanted to have another mug-a-guest that night too. :P I think he just stayed up all night talking with people. I wanted to stay up but just couldn't…
Photos from the day :
Sunday August 8th, 2004
We got up for the usual morning meeting, this time me and my roomies were a bit late as we all slept until 9. Those there decided to go to the bagel shop close by, not wanting to pay outrageously at the hotel restaurant. As I couldn't eat anything they would have there (due to gluten intolerance) I decided to stay and have a shower, for breakfast I ate some fruit I brought just for this type of occurrence. When the staff got back and we got to work I found myself jumping between jobs as people needed me.
I wandered over to the animation magazines table during a slow time and started browsing their stuff. The guy promptly swept over and hit me with the plug, and did well as he got me to sign up for the mailing list with the slight chance that I could win a CD.
Keith slept in, and I certainly don't blame him, but this meant that there were lots of people milling about waiting for his mug-a-guest. When Keith finally did come down and do the mug a guest he was great! Such a cool guy and the fans had a good time too. I helped to finish taking down the art show set up as quietly as I could while he was talking (and me trying to listen). After the mug-a-guest we started to set up for closing ceremonies, I kept running errands and such then came back for a few seconds and was just about to run off again when I hear someone call my real name (a rare occurrence this weekend) I look around kinda dazed and Karine points at me and I see the magazine guy holding up one of the ballets and I realise I won something! How cool is that! So I picked out a CD, not having any idea what any of them are I just chose the cover I liked the look of best. Later Si explained what the anime was about and now that I listen to it, it does have son nice music so it was a good choice.
Somewhere in the Keith mug a guest Abe Wintersmith pulls me aside and asks me to help him set up the surprise for the staff. He had this planed for MONTHS. He had bought tones of chocolate and some wine as a thank you for the staff. I was nervous about it…I had no idea if I could keep the secret and get the staff up all at the same time. But we set up ok and I kept the key away from Karine as best I could. Then me and Ian tried to keep all the staff OUT of the con suite until the reveal time…it was hard! Everyone kept wanting to go up, and most of the time I could divert them by saying I could run up for them…but there were a few times they would not let me. I forget the first but then Tal needed to put some of his art away, then Karine needed her closing ceremonies notes and wasn't sure where they were… So each time I escorted them up and tried to look nonchalant as I stood IN FRONT of the door to the half of the con suite with the chocolate and wine. Boy was I nervous someone would see it! But NO ONE DID! *cackles!*
Closing ceremonies was prity good. Just before starting I had to go let Keith know we were about to start. The poor guy. Right after his mug-a-guest the DVD guys interviewed him for an hour or so. I found him in the restaurant trying desperately to get some food into himself and burning his tough trying. I felt horrible….but told him that we were starting…but to take his time! (he didn't of course, I felt so bad) so a bit after we started he came in and I popped down to show him to the stage and to a spot to sit up there. After Karine summed everything up Cindy gave out the art show awards, and Clan Olympics gave out their awards we then gave the 2005 staff a chance to pimp next years con in Las Vegas. When Closing ceremonies was finished Keith ran off for a bit and me and Liz tried to convince the rest of the staff that it was essential that we go up to the con suite for an emergency meeting! It took a lot of convincing but eventually they all agreed to. We ushered everyone up and I opened the doors to the other half "Come on in!" Karine was the first in I think and she was "Oh wow…" which was followed by the others, after the speechlessness (besides the wows) it was quiet for a minute and then someone said "So what was this emergency meeting about?".*laugh* Your looking at it. So Karine read Scott's (Abe) awesome letter and the staff thought it was totally awesome. And they thought it was a great idea to carry on as well. So I left them to it and popped back downstairs to make sure the signing session with Keith had started alright and boy was the line long! It was cool tho. And I let Abe know that the thank you gift was well received.
Just before Keith started the signing session tho he had be talking to some staff and I went to apologise again for interrupting his lunch. He spotted my necklace of porcupine quills and claws and leaned in for a REALLY close look (like inches from my neck) as he asked what it was. I was a bit surprised and didn't really respond to coherently...I'm not use to people being in my personal space and not use to a celeb doing that at the least! I told him what it was and then he asked where I got it. "Uhhhh…a trail I use to walk on?" I wanted to tell the full story but was too nervous and before I could collect my thoughts he was whisked off to the signing. I felt a bit silly.
After that I wasn't sure what to do with myself. It took a while for it to set in that "Hey the con is over." And I got a bit of a sad feeling. I really had a good time with the staff, they were all so awesome! I hung around watching fans get stuff signed then eventually wandered back to the con suite to relax. I later felt bad I didn't wait till Keith was done with the signatures to really thank him for everything, and apologise again. Eventually the staff slowly tricked back up to the con suite and we started the dead dog party. We ordered pizza, or rather the rest ordered pizza and I ordered a side of fries. We broke open the wine and started the drinking. It was VERY good wine! Ian had also been sent to buy us some other drinks earlier so Karine mixed up some stuff for us and the wine was gone in no time! We had a good time relaxing, it was nice to know it all went off alright. Granted there were some bumps but there was nothing really big that went wrong so we had much to be happy about.
Just before midnight we all started to wind down and some of us wandered off to bed. We tidied up a bit and vacated the con suite so Karine-mom could get some much needed sleep. I stopped in at Abe's room (as it was right beside mine) and watched them play Mario for a bit before I got too tired and headed to bed.
Photos from the day:
Monday August 9, 2004
I had to get up fairly early so I could get Patrick to drive me back to Karines, where my car was parked, before they headed off to La Rond. I took a speed shower and grabbed almost all of my stuff. (I realised later I forgot my shampoo and such but no biggy). We unloaded the art room stuff at Karines house then I said my goodbye and got in the car. I was kinda sad again, realising this was the end of the end. I loved hanging out with this gang and was sad to leave, but I really did need to get back. I REALLY couldn't afford another day off work. So I drove out of Montreal and back to my parents house, picked up some stuff, said Hi and Bye to mom then continued back to Milton. My adopted kitty was certainly glad to see me when I got home.
It was a great weekend! I thank the staff for being so very awesome and such a great effective staff. They all made me feel so welcome. I really had a good time being on the staff and I am very happy to have met them and to (if I may) call them friends. Thanks guys!
And thank you for all your hard work too.
I'm afraid those picture links don't work anymore. That's the trouble with having a two year backlog, I guess. Things get outta date.
Are you saying (in your ramble) that Gargoyles have the potential even now to have psychic powers the way Fox even now has latent magical abilities?
Uh... which ramble was that?
Anyway, I don't think I was saying that.
[Context, guys. Context! It takes me nearly two years to get to your questions. I just don't have THAT good a memory.]
Gathering or Bust!
In preparation for the mega trip I made sure everything was ready. Water dishes were filled the food storage was full of cat food. Dyed my hair red for both costume and to cover up my few gray hairs. Printed out synopsis for my panel and even the schedule. The last thing was make a packing list and of course pack.
We did a lot of driving in a couple of days. If you want to save on money on flying then organize a road trip for a Gathering. It's more fun when there are a group of people. You are going to need the following"
Gas Money. Have some of the other people in the car pitch in for gas.
More than one person who knows how to drive
Snacks. Get a good variety so you don't always have to stop for food.
Music. It doesn't have to always be music Comedy CD's are also good
Walkie Talkies. If there is more than one car.
Sunday, Aug 1
Flew out to Houston on an Express Jet. It was a cramped little thing. They had to reopen the door and close it thus soaking the flight attendant. We were extra nice to her. Landed at terminal B Revel was parked in C. We rode the monorail to C. We stopped by the Food Bucket to pick up snacks for the trip. We got a good variety. There were chips, crackers, jerky, candy and granola bars.
Monday, Aug 2
We made last minute preparations. Talked with Mara and Gregx via Instant messenger and made sure they had their papers ready. I did some sketching and watched Princess Bride. Revel's mother did some last minute stitching on the jacket for Revel's costume and she helped me laminate my badge for my costume. Aaron and Mara arrived after I have gone to bed.
Tuesday, Aug 3
The four of us woke up real early and loaded the coolers with ice and sodas and packed away our luggage into the back of Hyena. After we drove out of Houston I fell asleep. I woke up around when Revel pulled into a McDonald's parking lot. I had a Sausage McMuffin and a cup of coffee.
During the first part of the trip I was in charge of the music until I snoozed again. We switched around seating positions at gas stations. Revel and I were both falling asleep when Aaron thought a Highway patrol man was after him. It turned out it was the car in front of us. We stopped for Arbies in dinner in Tennesse. I forgot what it was called but I had the grilled chicken sandwich with pepper bacon combo. I fell asleep sometime when we were in Kentucky and we played a few word games when we arrived in Ohio. When we drove through Cincinnati I looked around for the WKRP sign. Afterwards I kept dozing off and on until we reached Emambu's place in Pittsburgh. The sun was rising when we left Hyena. Emambu and Lynati greeted us and helped us stagger back to the places Emambu had set up for us to sleep.
Wednesday, Aug 4
Technically we began the day by falling asleep at Emambu's. The original plan was to leave around 2 PM. We got everyone awake by 2. A group of the earlier risers went out and bought bagels and coffee for everyone. I had a blueberry with cream cheese. After we had eaten and showered we had left Emambu's in two cars. Revel and I were in Hyena and everyone else was in the Mafia cruiser. We communicated with each other over the Walkie Talkies. The Rogue Squadron has been born. We stopped at a mega gas station for gas and food. Revel and I split a pizza stuffed pretzel. We continued driving through Pennsylvania, even going through tunnels in some of the mountains. I haven't seen mountains since I was eleven so the whole scenery was amazing. The higher altitude caused the tops of some of the Pringles to bulge. Before we drove into New Jersey we saw this sing "Last Exit in Pennsylvania. It almost read as "Your last change to get off the road before you enter New Jersey." We drove through NJ and into New York. This was when the rain stated. We drove past the area known as Sleepy Hollow. The haunt of the headless horsemen is a golf course. After some confusing roads we finally found Greg's house.
Next up: Thursday
I've read so many versions of this trip by now, I almost feel like I was on it with you guys. ;)
Saturday August 7th
Having being dropped off at 9:00 at the Dorval bus station, I took the 211 downown, from there, took the Orange line to Square Victoria.
I had no trouble finding the hotel.
Upon entering the hotel, I took the escalator to the Mezzanine where I signed up for a day pass.
Having been given a badge and program, decided to take part in the Trivia challenge, being somewhat good with trivia myself.
When that was finished, I ventured into the dealer room, where I picked up a T-shirt and deposited a 3-D jigsaw that I had to the auction.
At the point, I headed up to the Con Suite where I scarfed a whole bag of B-Bque chips(Broadway would be proud).
At 12:30, went down to see the auction and was bummed that the item that I wanted was already sold.
Oh well, at least this presented me with the opportunity to purchase a copy of PGA back in the dealer room.
I was totally flabbergasted by some of the artwork. Man I wish I knew how to draw like that.
Then came the radio play, Kudos on all of you who were brave enough to participate in it.
After it ended, I seized the moment to have Greg sign my program.
Back up to the Con Suite I went for more of Season 1.
Before I knew it, it was 6 in the evening, I was bouncing off the walls in anticipation for the arrival of Keith, that I handed my program after writing my address on the back of it to someone who told me that they would have Keith sign it for me.
I guess in all the excitemnt/confusion, I had no idea that it was Kanthara that took my program from me.
And so ends my First(and hopefully not last) con experience.
Maybe next time you can stay and hang...
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.
Cool, I'm glad SOMEbody wasn't disappointed to get me over Keith-isn't-here-yet-David. ;)
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.
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.")?
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.)
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)?
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.
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.
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.
GATHERING JOURNAL, PART ONE
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.)
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.
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)
Hey, I appreciated you contributing. Hope to see you soon.
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.
Tony, I hope to see you and Andrea in Valencia next month. Wouldn't be a true Gathering without our cutest old married couple.
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.
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.
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.
I'm not sure if the reposting was necessary... but what the hey! More diaries the merrier.
Morning comes WAY too early but we get ready for Karine and Patrick to pick us up at ten. At ten, we get a call - they're coming to get us at noon. Okay, so more relaxation time is always good, we watch more Trigun. Karine and Patrick show up and we load up the tshirts and auction stuff and our baggage and head off to the airport to pick up Laurean, Liz, and Taylor, and Patrick displays his uber l33t packing skillz!!! Back to Karine's to pick up more stuff, we met up with Kaylee, get everything packed and out to lunch, more packing, many many trips back and forth from the West Island to Downtown and back again, getting all the stuff and all the art display panels and everything to the Hotel. Met up with Chameleongirl and Sapphire, YAY YAY YAY!! I spent some time packing con packets, which was a lot of fun. Then still MORE time on the road, heading out to the airport to pick up Greg. We hung around the con suite, then headed out for a VERY late supper. There was a bit of a mixup, at first I thought the supper was open to everyone who wanted to attend. Turns out we had to let down a bunch of people, which was unfortunate. Had a very nice late supper, headed back to the hotel, collapsed asleep.
Why oh why is morning so FREAKING EARLY? Head off to a local diner for a very slow breakfast, which meant everything got pushed back a little. Unfortunately we wound up losing one of our dealers, who had shown up early to set up and been told by the hotel's staff there was no convention going on, so they had left. Oh well, we wound up needing that space in the dealers' room for other stuff. I manned registration for most of the day, which annoyed me a little because with Karine in panels all day long, it kind of seemed like no one was in charge and things got a little disorganized. But that's probably the control freak in me talking. Anyhow, we got the news that Keith David's plane had been delayed from 6 PM to 11 PM. I went down to the auditions at 3, intent on auditioning, Jen grabbed me and said, "You're auditioning first so you can get back to work." I read for Xanatos, and I guess my voice work and all those years in theatre paid off, because Greg told me normally he'd have me read from the back of the room to see if I can project, but that wouldn't be necessary in my case. Anyhow, I went back to work. With someone else manning the registration desk, my control freak stress level went way WAY down, and we were off to opening ceremonies, where we got more news about Keith David being delayed once again - to Saturday, 5 PM. Sigh. Okay, so we start off Opening Ceremonies, my first ever! Greg tells a bunch of stories and shows a bunch of video clips, pitches for the show mostly, that everyone seems to by heart, except me. Anyhow, Opening Ceremonies are a success, everyone seems to enjoy the Clan Olympics interruption, and around nine-ish (I think) we head off to supper with the Andersons and the Morgans. There's a Blue Mug a Guest at 11, but I'm zonked, so I head off to bed.
Grab a quick breakfast in the Hotel restaurant, get organized for the day. Set someone up to take over con suite and reg desk so I can spend the day running around making sure everything is getting done, which is what I really truly need to do and luckily I'm fairly good at it. At 12:30 they post the cast for the Radio Play, I got cast. Rehearsals start up after lunch, and I got the part of GOLIATH!! WOO!! If Keith hadn't been late, I would have gotten another part, I think... but it's the one time I'm HAPPY he's late! We rehearse the play once all the way through, Greg gives us notes, and then head on over to the show! Believe it or not, that's NOT the least rehearsal time I've ever had... anyhow! Greg introduces the cast, I get the big starring intro and a huge round of applause. The radio play - The Journey, from Goliath Chronicles, is a GREAT success, everyone loved it, AND I got to say the title of the play! Woo!! So then we're off and running to get everything organized for the Banquet. Daniel Fortin, our contact at the hotel, had printed up some GREAT souvenir menus, the Banquet is AMAZING, although I spent most of it waiting for Keith to arrive, both because he's the Guest of Honour and I'm on staff and wondering where the hell he is because he should have been here two hours ago, AND because our table won the draw for where he was to sit! We'd be sitting with Keith David! YAY! So eventually he shows up and Sandman7 sniped my seat! No biggie, he deserved it for all the hard work he did all weekend. Congrats Marc, you're welcome. After banquet, we split up to get all costumed up. The wig we had planned for my Xanatos costume didn't fit, so I wore the black suit anyway and went as President Luthor. *LOL* Anyhow, the Masquerade was AMAZING, Cindy looked awesome as Titania, Karine looked great as Pregnant Fox, in fact, ALL the staff who dressed up looked FANTASTIC. So after the Masquerade there were TONS of pictures being taken, and we had to figure out how to hook up the Karaoke, which we eventually did. Cindy kicked it off with an AMAZING rendition of All That Jazz. Cins you ROCK! Then she and I beat a hasty retreat to tally up the Art Show votes. Good thing we did too, because we were up until 1:30 AM counting all the votes. Collapsed asleep that night, lemme tellya.
ugh... mornings suck. Quick breakfast, the last of the panels. Took down the art panels during Keith's Mug-a-Guest. He's a great storyteller. I got some bad news about my uncle dying then, left me a little dazed for the afternoon. Closing ceremonies went VERY well, thanks. I got to sit next to Keith, he's a VERY cool guy. Chit-chatted with him a little during the ceremonies. Most of Sunday is a bit of a blur I was so freaking tired. Closing ceremonies, then the signing with Keith, where I got him to sign my Radio Play script, telling him I had been his understudy. He laughed. After the signing, we closed up everything and went up to the con suite where Scott Rogoff had set up a WONDERFUL thank-you gift for the Staff - some bottles of wine and some great chocolate. What with the booze we had bought for ourselves, we had QUITE a fine time at the Dead Dog Party, lemme tellya. Ordered the best pizza EVER ( flavoured with exhaustion and hunger, so may be my memory is a little biased) had a great time at the DDP.
All in all, this was the absolutely best way for me to lose my con virginity - that's right, it was my first convention EVER. And it ABSOLUTELY ROCKED. I loved the family atmosphere, the sense of community. It was AMAZING, and I really have the fans to thank.
Greg, you created a fantastic show. But what's more important, you created a Clan out of the fans. Thanks.
Thank you. Thank you all. Give yourselves a hand.
Gathering 2004 Report
Or: Nips and Lipples! Keith David owes me money!
Wed, Aug 4th
I start with Wednesday because it was such an important day, being the last day before we left. I was up at slightly after 8am and wouldn't quit until 1:30 am Friday morning. Wednesday was mostly spend making prints, buying ink, doing last minute errands. Packing was easy, for the most part; I just wanted to make sure I took the right supplies, didn't forget the most important originals, and get my damn mask done. The wig had to be sewn on, then I had to figure out how to pack the costume in a way it would receive minimal damage on the journey.
I ended up forgetting Binoicle: Mask of Light. Bummer. But I didn't forget anything really important.
Taylor and I left at 4am Thursday and had no problems getting on the various planes and etc, despite being total zombies. I would faze from being a zombie to being awake all Thursday. But that's almost typical pre-con Liz anyhow.
Was very long. Of course, that I'd been up since 8am the previous day didn't help. But we made it into Canada with no mishaps, and met up with Trishana right after we got our baggage. Somehow we managed to be on the same plane in and not realize it. It was great to hook up with her at the airport tho'. We also managed to snag Laurean a bit later.
Patrick, Karine, Cindy and Rob picked us up in a van (after waiting for a while, wondering if we were waiting in the wrong place). Everyone kept asking me what kind of van, what color van Patrick was driving. I kept responding: "How am I supposed to know, it's a rental?" Ah well, we were all worried and nervous.
Headed to Karine's to pick up Brenda, then had Poutine at the same restaurant from February. Back to Karine's to pick up equipment and supplies, then onto the hotel!
I realize now my Live Meet 2004 Report is rather incomplete. I'll have to piece it together later.
Snagged Trishana at the hotel and shoved Taylor on her. (Wanted to give Taylor a chance to not have to deal with staff things and start enjoying himself pre-con. Plus I figured he'd enjoy Trishana's company.)
Helped haul a crap load of things from the van to the cons uite and such. Packet stuffing time! Half of the staff got together to stuff pins, PGAs, shirts and programs into the pre-registered packets. I have to say again that the pins were awesome (Thanks, Two Wacky Pin Guys!) and the programs were gorgeous, thanks to Laurean. Yes dear, you rock. Don't let anyone tell you differently.
Managed to get praise from Costume Goddess Cindy on my Yama costume. Got some tips and hints and help for future projects as well.
Hauled my own suit cases to Kelly's room, met up with Trishana, met Julie, Australian Coolie. I remember futzing around, then getting snacks with Kelly, Trishana (coffee!), Julie, Taylor, Tony and I know here name but it escapes and shames me. "Elisa Maza." It'll come to me. No, not Salli Richardson. Gah. Andrea! Anyhow, I got some fruit and we all talked for a while. Headed back to the hotel and chilled with people, keeping in mind about the Staff/not staff dinner.
Anyhow, futzed around, and got more surly, grumpy, tired and hungry by the minute (sorry guys), but dealt with it. Time rolls around for the staff/not staff dinner and Greg has not arrived. We've gotta wait another hour. Or so. Taylor and I explored the hotel a little, found the underground/covered alley-way, then talked with some arriving fans at the hotel, then back to the hotel room for a while.
Looking forward to the staff/not staff dinner was the only thing keeping me awake at this point. At the last minute, find out it's now a staff only dinner. ;.; Well. That's all I'll say there. There were good reasons, I'll leave it at that.
The walk was long (both ways) but entertaining (both ways). The dinner was great, but a bit overpriced IMHO. I was so happy to get to the hotel and just crash. Everyone else in the room was asleep already, gah! But I managed to not only go to bed without bothering people, but get up at a decent hour for pre-con staff breakfast.
Breakfast was at some local restaurant. We got the day planned over coffee and assorted things, then headed back to the hotel to get the con started and the art show put up. I took a shower, then tried to help answer questions, set things up and whatnot. Discussed events with the Clan Olympics hosts, set up my own art show (badly, yet again. I'll learn some day), and attend a voice acting panel hosted by the incomparable Greg Weisman.
Gawked over artwork in the show, set up my own Artist Alley table with Taylor. People like my work, and that makes me happy.
The DVD crew was out and about, starting with the first panels. I'm sure they got many, many many, many interesting things over the weekend.
Opening Ceremonies was fun; I got to start talking about the various contests happening at the con when the Clan Olympics literally stole the stage (and me right off it!) and had their first event, Stuff It!, right there in the middle of the ceremony. Rawk! Yes, it was staged, but apparently I was convincing enough that the audience didn't realize it. Makes me happy. I think it really opened up the con in an upbeat way. Not only did the teams have fun, but the audience loved the antics. Afterward I finished my contests points and handed the podium on to the next staff member.
Greg did his usual schpeils and showed the various pitches for The Dark Ages, The New Olympians, Bad Guys and played the audio for The Last. He also played a tape made by Carol Wagner of a bunch of staff, cast and crew for the show, a new bonus for the convention!
"Vampires... it's what we're not."
Afterward was dinner at Le Marche (The Move and Pick) with Ethan, Kyffin, Julie, Trishana, Kelly and Taylor. I had garlic bread with cheese, stir fry shrimp, cappucino and cheesecake with berries and chocolate sauce. Yum!!
Taylor and I went to the Blue Mug-A-Guest after dinner. The con suite was just packed with people, but the mug wasn't very blue (adult). Poor Taylor; Puck is Owen he didn't know yet, but found out and ducked out afterward so as to not be spoiled on any other points. (He's only seen the first few episodes of season 2). I started drifting off during the thing; it's hard for me to stay awake late at night if my hands aren't busy, and I was teased for it. Ah well, it's true, it's true. Ian arrived a bit later, and stayed for about a half hour. I was awake again by then, but when we got back to the rooms everyone else was asleep. :P So to bed, again!
Julie and I tried chatting for a while tho', since she wasn't very tired either. But poor Trishana couldn't take it. "Man... guuuys... geeeeez." Boy, that was funny. We got quiet and went to sleep.
Artist Alley again! I loved talking to people about my different works and doing artsy things. I worked on my Then and Now image (to be posted later), then auditioned for the Radio Play. I read for Angela, since apparently no one else had. I got into the play with just 2 lines, the same word three times, but still had a blast.
Back to Artist Alley, which started booming around lunch. And the DVD crew came at some point to film the art show. I attended part of the auction and bid on some things. I really wanted some Rita M. art (damn, I even made the prints for her!), but missed my chance on two pieces. However, they went for fabulous prices, and that pleases me greatly. Taylor bid on a cel from Awakening Pt 3, but let it go at $450. I think it ended up reaching $455 CAD. Congrats to the auctioneers Taras and Sandman7, who were fabulous. We then I practiced for the Radio Play, then I scrambled around getting the music videos running. Phew!
The Radio Play, The Journey, went wonderfully. Mike, who played Vinnie, won my heart over with his performance. Then people scrambled to watch the music videos and I got to chill for a little bit before the Banquet.
Our table got Greg Weisman as our guest of honor. Okay. I'll be honest. It hurts, but I will. Karine made a mistake in announcing the draw and said we'd get Keith David. Now, I love Greg to death. And I love hearing his stories, accomplishments, failures, funny moments and etc, but I was super psyched to get Keith. So I was a little disappointed for a moment (and felt horrible), but you know what? Having Greg at the table for dinner was awesome and I do not regret that in any way. So, you go Greg.
Dinner was fabulous. Even after tasting and picking everything out in February I was yet again amazed at how good the food was. And except in a few strange cases, everyone loved the meal. Quail stuffed with grapes? Shrimp cocktail with avocado? Delicate chocolate and fruit desserts? Oishisouuuuuuuuuuuuu.
Keith finally arrived at the end of dinner, and folks were all geared up to ask him questions. Poor guy. After being delayed three times and being awake for ever and I'm sure starving as well, he still delighted in answering questions. I had to cut out, tho', to get the Masquerade forms counted and organized, then get into costume myself.
Trishana and Ian helped with the Masquerade organization, then I popped down to the room where Trishana, Julie and Kelly helped me dress. And boy did I need the help. I will say again, I would not have been able to get dressed without your help, ladies. Especially the body paint part. And the man boobies on the bodyplate.
Down to level C where Ian and I corralled Masquerade contestants into Recency A and got them set up to show off their stuff. I was amazed with all the costume submissions this year, and so very happy to see a plethora of cannon characters. I was also extremely pleased to see so many non-contestants dressed up for the ball. I was especially impressed with just about every staff member dressing up and Lynati's Ophelia.
Oh yeah, folks were impressed with my Yama costume too. I'm just glad it survived the trip up with little damage. After showing off, having a billion pictures taken in different areas and poses, I was more than eager to change to something more normal. Because it might have looked good, but DIZAMN was it hot! I can't wait to see photos.
I changed and showered after, then headed back down to the ball for dancing and karaoke. Mostly karaoke. Strange! People liked it tho', even if my CDs didn't display the lyrics in Jen's computer. Taylor blew people away with his rendition of the 'Love Boat' theme, and a group of 20 or so amused the crowd with their rendition of YMCA with no lyrics. "Something, something somethingsomething. Somethingsomething.." I sang too, but am shamefully out of practice and shamed myself with Heart Breaker. Maybe next year I'll be smart and do Black Velvet or Holding out for a Hero.
I eventually split with Kelly and Taylor, and we went back to the room to draw and talk with Julie and Trishana. We stayed up lat and loved it!
Ah no, it's nearing the end of the con. Got up late but down to Artist Alley only 45min late. Stayed there for a while, then hosted my panel on marker and computer coloring. Granted, nearly everyone was in the Keith David Mug-A-Guest, but to the few that were there: Thank you. I enjoyed helping you guys out.
Back to Artist Alley for a bit, where I met Felix in person! Foofy hair! I met Gen earlier in the hotel room. Then on to Closing Ceremonies. Karine got to thank everyone again, and 2005 Staff talked, Clan Olypics announced the winners, promised to return next year, Cindy handed out all the art show awards, and I announced the Music Video Contest winner.
Keith David had his autograph signing while the staff fled up to the con suite for the thank you present from Scott "Abe" Rogoff. For those who didn't know it was coming, they were A) surprised B) elated C) unbelievably grateful. For those that did, just B and C, but still. Scott? You rock. Thanks for my Ginger sauce!
Word got around that Keith David was blown away by my print of Spawn and Goliath together. He wanted a print! I was going to give him one anyway, but that he liked it so much.. he loved it! I couldn't wait to give him one, and get my own copy signed.
But first I helped with taking the Art Show panels and such down, then to the van. Good work. And I got pre-registered for Gathering 2005, Vegas, then waited in line for Keith David. (And Gen, Felix, Ian, Trishana, Julie, Kelly and Taylor were hungry. We all wanted dinner. But I couldn't take the chance of not getting Keith's autograph.) I had him sign some things and was random fan #23598716098 until I pulled out my 11x14 print of Rumbling Thunder. Please sign this too? The other stuff was just icing; I made that print specifically for him to sign for me.
And he asked for a print for himself. I pull out 1/10, "It's always been my tradition to hand guests a piece of artwork as thanks for coming." And he goes, "Could you sign it for me?" So I did, and he asks, "Do you have any more?"
Pause. "Ah, yeah, I've got three or four."
"Can I have them?"
Pause. "Sure! I've got some here. Lesse.. oh, I've six."
"Great. I'll take them all."
"Ten dollars. But for you, five!"
"No no, you decide how much. Just let me have the rest and I'll pay you. Do you have a card?"
"Yes, but not on me. I'll go get you one."
And then Shaun took pictures of me with Keith David,... eeeee! Had then to grab my Artist Alley supplies and take them to the room, then get some business cards. Waited in line again to be polite, and handed Keith the original 11x14 ink of the image. I was going to keep it, but, what the hell. It just made the experience even more special.
"I've got some cards. Do you want just one, or a couple?"
"Give me a couple."
I hand them to him. "Someone might contact you."
Liz. About to pass out, figuratively.
So then he had to go get cash. I didn't actually get paid until late Monday, but that's okay. It was Keith David, I knew he was good for it. Any still, even if hadn't, to be able to say, "Keith David owes me money!" is one of those strange, weird, awesome things. I'm sure he had to go to dinner with his family and other fun things, plus he was planning on possibly going to laser tag with the fans.
We finally headed to dinner, sans Kelly and Julie, who were in the business meeting for 2005. That's cool; important stuff planning for a con is. Gen, Felix, Trishana, Taylor, Ian and I were headed off through the streets of Montreal to a place that had food in crepe form! What. A. Spectacular. Dinner. Holy cow, Montreal has good food! And the dinner conversation/company was great. Never a dull moment. Never an awkward one. You guys rule.
Back to the hotel and to Tacky Town, thanks to Ian. I bought an Inu Yasha and Sesshomaru pillow and some zipper pulls. One over-priced item a trip! We then had to part ways with Gen and Felix, boo, but hopefully I will meet up with them again.
Back at the hotel there's the Dead Dog Party for a while, then video game competition fun! I had fun kicking ass in Mario Kart, and even ended up owning the Double Dash Master, Taylor, once. And it felt so good.
By the way, Mike "Riverdale," you also rule. You were one of the most amusing people I met at the con this year. "Sucking hind teat" indeed.
Well, after Bloody Roar: Primal Fury, we had to call it a night. Afterall, tomorrow was LaRonde day!
Monday we all got going pretty much on time and got to the park in good order. Group shot in front of the fountain, then we rode some crappy stand-up coaster. Then lunch, and DDR! w00T! I'm so out of practice, but I had a great time anyway. Probably because despite being out practice Kelly and I still showed up the 'tweens trying to hound the pads. Feh! We then rode The Dragon, 'oooh, aaaah,' the crappiest ride the in the park, but amusing, and the ferris wheel. Oh yeah, I forced Dippin' Dots upon Julie, and she loved them.
The Monster had been closed earlier, but was open by then, so we rode the second tallest wooden coaster in the world. What a fantastic ride! As far as wooden coasters go, it was the second best I've ever been on. Second only to the Cyclone at Coney Island.
After that we were going to enter in the Double Dash tourney in the Nintendo building. But it wasn't worth it; 50+ horny 10-16yr olds (mostly 10yr olds) acting like it was a life or death thing? Feh, Taylor would have wiped the floor with them all; castrated them before they knew what as coming. So we didn't bother; Taylor's the Double Dash Master; he doesn't need to prove it... but so many times. Instead we waited in line for The Vampire for an hour and a half. Awesome ride that one.
Afterward, Dippin' Dots for Liz and Kelly. Ian and Taylor went off to ride a back-and-forth, swinging-spinning ride. Julie, Kelly and I instead played DDR. Well.. Kelly and I DDR'd, Julie watched. Kelly fended off the pad monkeys, and we kicked ass again.
Headed back to the hotel and had to part ways with Ian. Love the guy; wish he could have stayed yet another additional night.
Dinner at Tim Hortons.. it was okay. After calling Le Marche, "open 'til 12!" but not really; arrived at 10... doors locked. Bastards.
Back to the hotel yet again to babble and doodle. Sang the 'Star Wars Cantina' parody to Copa Cabana with the additional verse Taylor and I came up with. Arted, laughed, a lot. Eventually slept.
Ahh, Tuesday. Why'd you have to come so soon? Packed up all my stuff, got breakfast. Wrote a note to Keith David and took it to his room with Taylor.
Keith David.. answered the door... and hugged me again! I thanked him for coming, for interacting with the fans, for being so fun, friendly and the stories. He's totally psyched to come to Vegas in 2005. Did I mention that before? Because it's true.
Best Keith quote:
"Excuse me? You take that right back where you got it."
On phrases you bring home with you from your travels. (Like Australia.)
Keith is so much fun to talk to. He's so.. one on one, down to earth. And he invited Taylor and me to go to the spa and pool with him and his son. Spa. With. Keith David. Pool. I could have spent the day with Keith David! Gah! But Patrick, ever the calm voice of reason, happened to interceed and reminded us that we indeed have a plane to catch. Sigh. I got more hugs from Keith David tho', and that makes me unbelievably happy. Like Greg, it'll carry me to 2005.
Oh yeah. This didn't hurt:
"Where are you guys heading?"
"Ah, I have family down in Virginia Beach I'm visiting in September."
"Oh, it's wonderful there that time of year. Still warm, but most of the tourists have cleared out. I'm sure you'll have a great visit."
"Oh yes. And maybe I'll give you a call."
Again. Even if he doesn't.. that it was said.. damn! Happy Liz! More points for Keith David! More hugs too. ;>
The plane rides were uneventful, but quick. Even the 2hr layover in Cleveland wasn't bad. I sketched for Patrick on the first plane ride. Just for chips and giggles I did a female Puck.
Madeline and Mrs. Fauss picked us up at RIC and dropped us off at their house, where we collected Taylor's Tahoe and headed back to my home. Taylor dropped me off and we talked for a while, then my stuff was hauled inside, and crashed. Phew!
I had an unbelievably wonderful time at the convention this year. It's definitely been my best Gathering yet, and I've heard the same thing from some of the other fans as well. This pleases me to no end, and I hope 2005 goes as well as 2004 did. Good luck to you, Las Vegas. And I look forward to seeing everyone, and more, back in late July next year!
Remember, you have A YEAR to plan; no excuses! It's Vegas too, so it'll be much cheaper than normal. Don't let The Gathering pass you bye! If start now with a positive attitude, you will make it.
I'm glad I wasn't too big a disappointment at the banquet. (I totally understand. It sometimes amazes me that the entire fandom isn't totally bored with me by now.) Think of it this way, you got me and you didn't really lose out on Keith since he didn't show until much later.
So in a tryce came the documentary depicting many a Chinese doll and also the three wise men (who may or may not have been kings) that needed sixty-two dollars between them to redeem the coupon, which offered up solace and not a little irony to anyone who hadn't yet seen the crew chewing on leaves that weren't tobacco, but might have been sage and still left horrible stains in the dirt floor of the lean-to where I left my ski poles after the overnight with the cranes that were kept on the lake domestically for the purpose of tourism but who could also speak Latin on occasion when prompted by offers of cheese or jerky -- though not just any jerky, it had to be salmon jerky -- which isn't always easy to come by when you've agreed to leave before closing on summer days in the springtime of your life, which has been known to last longer in people who aren't concerned about under-inebriation or over-intoxication or both: it's the balance which is everything when nothing else will do and no one else will participate in the extravaganza that's been created by the giant invisible flying monkey brain that is modern life in the Twenty-First Century, counting since the (approximate) birth of Christ -- as long as the lack of the number zero doesn't disturb your math sensibilities as, frankly, it does mine, though I like to think I've made peace with that and with the Skrull too, since I haven't picked up an issue of that book in about nine years, which wasn't an intentional or explicit act of cold turkey so much as a sliding away followed by a none-too-impressive epiphany -- far from the best epiphany I've ever had, say, compared to Tintagel or Lego, not to mention the birth of certain children, which couldn't get more personal than the zany antics of the semi-erotic flea circus, which used to travel the stars waiting for an invitation to land at your door, since you are the personal target of the extra-lunar probe that counted all the seahorses that Aquaman used to make the giant seahorse that he could actually ride, though no faster than he could swim himself on his own power -- and no, we're not talking Super Friends here, but something older, more primal, something that was born back when the Ptero-whatever streaked across the sky leaving behind contrails made not of smoke but of pure and unadulterated grace, a commodity in which we are sorely shy as a planet, and yet which we find in the most unlikley of places, including but not limited to contracts which dictate how we will interact with each other but do it in such a way that no normal human being could possibly wrap their heads around the language and internalize the meaning, which we declare to be progress or civilization and which is not meant as a criticism so much as a detachment of troopers marching on a hill that you wouldn't pay five ducats -- FIVE! -- to buy yourself, or so I told myself and Hamlet night after night, but now Hamlet is a Thief on FX and I haven't seen him face to face in over twenty years, which sometimes seems quite normal but sometimes blows me away, not that I want to move backwards at all, though I'm not sure that I'm truly moving forward and I'm convinced I'm not moving sideways, though the metaphor of the sidewinder is appealing, not in the cliché sense of something sinister and left-handed, though I do throw with my left hand, I can bowl just as badly with either hand, and even though I'm 42, I quite prefer to have bumpers instead of gutters, where the rain gets backed up and sometimes flows over the lip and creates leaks in the roof and drips, drips, drips down into the shiny metal bowl that's usually used for something much more pleasant like mixing cookie dough to create chewy wonderful ... well.. cookies (I mean "duh") that taste a little bit like home even when you are home and it is raining, or maybe ESPECIALLY when you are home and it is raining and the water overflows and the ocean fills and the giant seahorse peaks out and winks at the cranes, which is exactly what the documentary crew was hoping to capture when they first took out their cameras and shot the whole thing from three different angles across six different days and still never saw the giant invisible flying monkey brain, because it was, to put it mildly, invisible.
The last of my Gathering journal. Now it's off to shame my friends into writing them!
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 – they were leaving early, and I gave some warm goodbyes – and then 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.
Wow. That's bloody inspirational. And although it probably sounds like it, I am NOT being sarcastic. Honestly.
And for the record, I've always wanted to attend one of those "Gargoyle Biology" Panels, but I'm always scheduled to do something else at the same time. But I'd love to talk about that with fans at some point. Casually.