A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Here is that last chunk of it...sorry about that.
Everyone who approached me to sign their Phoenix Gate Anthology, thank you for giving me the privilege of scrawling my name and heartfelt thanks in there. Writing for that book was a big step for me, and to know that there are people out there who are enjoying that story is enough to keep me inspired, and to continue plugging away at something deep down inside I truly love. To Cindy for encouraging me to gather up the courage to write that story, and to Christine Morgan, who helped me refine it.
To Kythera, thank you for giving me something of your heart, I consider that a privilege and a wonderful distinction. Love you much, sis.
To Greg Weisman and Keith David. Thank you both for making the trek to Montreal to attend this year's Gathering. Greg, I don't usually get a chance to speak with you all that much, but when I do it's fascinating, entertaining, and thoughtful. You're a great gentleman, and it just wouldn't be the same without you. Keith, it was pleasure to see you again, and a great honor to meet your family. After seven years, despite the changes in your life, both personal and professional, you've remained the same down-to-earth, wonderful human being (or gargoyle) that I met back in 1997. Bless you both.
Last and not least, to everyone who came to the Gathering, to each and every one of you whom I've had the pleasure and joy to meet and speak with. It's a moving feeling to know that one is welcomed somewhere, and despite the dark hours, one is truly never really alone. Thank you for your companionship, kind words, cheers, jeers, and laughter.
Now THAT'S it…nothing left to say except for:
SEE YOU IN 2005! VEGAS!
Scott "Abram" Rogoff
Thank you, Abram. See you soon!
Greg, you asked for a Gathering 2004 Journal. Here is my contribution:
The 8th Annual Gathering of the Gargoyles
A Convention Journal by Scott "Abram" Rogoff
This is the fifth Gathering convention that I have had the pleasure and privilege of attending, so I figured it was about time to start the tradition of writing a Gathering Journal. I'm not entirely sure why I decided that this was the right time to do it…being someone who is somewhat good with the written word, it would make sense to write something about a convention that I've grown incredibly fond of. Add this notion to the fact that I've been regularly updating a LiveJournal for over two and a half years and it's pretty much a no-brainer at this point. I know that I've got a lot of mental notes of the other four Gatherings that I've attended in 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2002, but I will wait just a little while longer to write about those. The matter at hand (or talon in this case?) is to relate what happened in the most recent past. Sit back, and enjoy the read…I hope this proves to entertaining.
"Hey! You Could Fly Over Here and We Can Drive Up!"
I met Shaun "BrooklynX" Donagher at the 2000 Gathering, but for the life of me I couldn't remember what he looked like until this weekend. I think I ran into him in Sapphire's Raptor Chat and we began to talk in there, and then over AIM, and eventually we added each other to our LiveJournal Voyeur's lists. Being writers, we both seemed to be full of all sorts of zany and cool ideas, which culminated in the creation of several storylines, though I'm not sure if any of them will make it to a more public forum. We've been having fun with it, and exchange the frequent smart-assed remarks back and forth…this sort of behavior often marks the start of a good friendship.
We were talking about the 2004 Gathering and discussing matters such as rooming and transportation. Originally neither of us had any room mates picked out, but we both needed to find one in order to make the hotel price a bit more on the reasonable side…so we decided to room together. (Flanker and Mike would later join the mix). I figured Shaun already had his plane ticket to Montreal already purchased, but he then mentioned to me that he hadn't…so drawing from my innate like of road trips, I offered to drive him up to the Gathering if he flew into Rochester. The move would actually save him over a hundred dollars, and it would be a lot of fun too. So before I knew it, I had a travel buddy. So already this was going to be fun trip, and it was going to start a little earlier than the Gathering.
At this time Siryn was still in Rochester and I think I extended the offer to her to drive up with Shaun and myself, and then I found out she was moving away from the area. However, she did offer to get me in contact with Sarah McEvoy…AKA "Sarah the Great". After spending five days traveling and hanging out with her, I know she's fitting of the namesake; a wonderful and funny person she is, and a great travel buddy as well. We spent some time making phone calls to one another and planning things, and before we knew it, everything was set up…our Journey to and from The 8th Annual Gathering was to begin on the 4th….
Wednesday, August 4th - Yes, It Started THAT Early…
It's funny how at the Gathering and the events leading up to it I'm suddenly willing to wake up extremely early to get things done. When the alarm clock buzzed at 6:30am I practically jumped out of bed, full of energy. Shaun's flight was to arrive around 10:40 and there was no way that I was going to be late to pick him up. I quickly prepared a sizable cue card and wrote "SHAUN PUP" in big green and silver letters, a very quick job, but it was quite noticeable. A few businessmen gave me a few funny looks and an older woman asked me if my dog could actually read signs. I shrugged and told her he was a German Shepard, so he damn well better be able to read. She made a funny noise and walked away, about ten minutes before Shaun actually came walking up the ramp, I knew him from the Weird Al shirt. Leaving the sign behind we started on the pre-Gathering preparations: The procurement of chocolate and Pocky.
We headed to the Asian Food Store in Henrietta and grabbed about five boxes of Pocky, and a bottle of ginger dressing that Liz requested, the keepers of the store asked us what we were going to do with all that stuff and we mentioned the Gargoyles Convention…they were pretty keen on that. Next was to Godiva Chocolateer to pick up the order I placed with them…some 75 bars of their chocolate on sale, all varieties…sadly only one white chocolate bar left in the entire store, but milk, dark, raspberry, and almond bars filled the order out nicely; they would do for the little surprise I had planned for the Convention Staff…anybody who is reading this knows full well how evil I am.
Mwu. Ha. Ha.
It was about 3pm by the time Shaun and I got back to my place, and he was pretty exhausted, I was beginning to feel tired too, so we chilled out a bit. He had picked up Doom 3 at Best Buy on our way home so he was busy installing that, and I went out to go get some preparation stuff for dinner. Sarah the Great arrived shortly after that, and we got to meet each other for the first time…again. She presented me with a bottle of raspberry wine, which was very sweet of her. We woke up Shaun and we got to catch up with one another, we talked a lot about politics, some Gargoyles stuff, and basically got all bouncy about the convention. Dinner was good save for the sudden attack by a juice-spitting hamburger as I was grilling it, but the clothes got washed and everything was fine after that. We kept on talking until a little before sundown and then grabbed some Seneca Farms Ice Cream for dessert. Anyone who visits my place during the Summer will almost certainly wind up coming to Seneca Farms either for ice cream, fried chicken, or both.
After some more talking, Shaun decided to offer up a movie, and we all watched "Hellboy", which was cool for the visual effects, a little thin on story, but still a good film…I'm going to see it again with Leva, and I'm still looking forward to it. Funny how it took a Gathering to finally get me to hook up my DVD Player. ;) We then went to pack the car, having decided to take just my Neon….at first it seemed like a bad idea, but we fit all of my stuff, all of Sarah's stuff, Shaun's equipment and prints, and the Clan Olympics crap into the thing, and still had room for ourselves. HUZZAH! We all then headed to bed, for we knew we were going to have one heck of a day ahead of us.
Thursday, August 5th - I Wanted to be on the Metric Clock: 100 Hours a Day…
Waking up at 7:30am, we all headed down to have some breakfast and get our final trip preparations set up. Sarah took the front seat, she was going to be my navigator because of her fondness for maps, of which I had absolutely no argument against. Shaun took the seat behind and was…Color Commentary…because all road trips need one of those. Before we knew it, I had burned a bagel, Sarah had the trip planned and I was ready to start driving. We were OFF TO CANADA!
Trip went extremely quickly, we got to the New York State Thruway and covered the first 70 miles or so in a little over an hour before hitting Route 81 North right up to the Canadian Border…but we needed to stop at the Duty-Free Shop for the obligatory alcohol purchase. About the only time I will purchase hard liquor freely is when it's not taxed, and I found some Godiva White Chocolate Liquor…HAD to pick up a bottle of that stuff, but decided at the last minute to put it toward The Evil Plan. We each picked up a bottle of booze, Shaun picked up one for Karine, and Sarah grabbed some for herself. Always a nice way to shop, beats the local liquor store.
Customs was pretty routine, but I was nervous. After all, I hadn't been to Canada in four and a half years. I knew I had to have a passport now, and had that out of the way. After the questions were answered, the Canadian Border Patrolwoman told me I should sign my passport before going back to the United States so I wouldn't get into any trouble. We're pulling away and out of the blue I half-yell "Suckers!", not knowing that Shaun had not yet rolled up his window. Luckily, no flashing lights or sirens were following the car, so I think the little faux pas went unnoticed, though we all shared a pretty good laugh over it and then pulled into a Service Centre for a Wendy's run…I did some Instant Lottery and found out that the terminals play a jingle when you cash in a winner. I already knew I was going to play, since going to the Casino Montreal was more than likely not going to happen. Besides, I put a sum of money aside just to play with my Latex Fixation (one of these days, this may lead to pointy ears, gargoyle feet, and other stuff that may lead to a costume…).
We arrived on the outskirts of Montreal around 2:30pm or so, and we began to search for the Hotel. Shaun pointed vaguely in the direction of the Live Meet Location, so that was cool. After passing that we began to get into the more stop-and-go traffic of Montreal heading toward Center-Ville. After overshooting the hotel by about ten minutes we backtracked and made it to the Delta Center-Ville, our home for the next five days and four nights…in a real nice section of downtown Montreal. It was weird to finally be back to this city after four and a half years. From 1997 to about 2000 I would visit Karine, Genvieve, and that whole crew on a pretty regular basis, usually during the Spring. I remembered Rue University, old Montreal (which I regrettably didn't get to see much of this time), and LaRounde. This was the first time that I was going to stay at a hotel and enjoy the hospitality of Montreal, and after the four nights were up, I can say that it was one of the best hotels I've had the pleasure of staying in.
Shaun and I checked in, and we ran into Cindy, Talyesin, Karine, Karlyl, Sapphire, and a few others over that afternoon. Finally got to meet Kaylee too, which was very cool; always a wonderful feeling to put a face and voice behind the online persona. Old favorites soon followed up, like Crzy Demona, Siryn, and Liz. Gatherings are like family reunions in a way, only you don't necessarily want to kill the people you're meeting, and your cheeks don't get pinched nearly as much, if at all. The convention staff all went their ways to get things prepared, and I went up to the 14th floor to claim my bed…and shortly afterward met John Clemens, AKA "Flanker", he and I hit it off right away and I spent a lot of time just hanging out with him over the four days up there.
Since I brought my Gamecube up, as per the plan with Sapphire, I decided to hook it up and practice (if Liz was a good as she said she was, I would need it!)…and it was one of THOSE television sets…the ones where you couldn't hook up a game system without a special plug. No problem, went up the mall on St. Catherine's and got one at Radio Shack, also had a late lunch with Flanker as well. Subway is good in any country. We walked around, got used to the uphill/downhill trekking, and made it back to the hotel. The 'Cube began to work, and I enjoyed some MarioKart for a little bit before wandering around and exploring the hotel some more.
Sarah the Great joined Flanker and I as we began to explore Montreal some more and we wandered about into old Montreal, which was just as pretty as I remembered it. We caught a few of the sights, contemplated dinner at one of the fine restaurants, but decided against it, and just wandered around some more until we hit the fine cuisine of Tim Hortons, a place which I will probably go out of my way to eat at from now on. The three of us discussed a few topics, mainly politics and the state of affairs in the United States, Bush Worries, and other things. Three Gargoyles Fans and not a bit of discussion on gargoyles, go figure, but it was a liberating experience to be able to talk current events without getting my head bitten off for saying the "wrong thing". Good food, great friends, and awesome conversation…who could ask for more?
We all headed back to the hotel afterwards, and I caught up with Wingless, Seth Jackson, Kyt-Sis, Norcumi, Gorebash, and a few others (if I forgot your names, I'm sorry, there was just so many of you!). Found out that Kyt was rooming right next to me, so she and I went back up to my room and I presented her with the copy of "Final Fantasy: Origins" I was hoarding, and the hint book that went with it. It was worth seeing the look on her face. She and I talked for a bit, and then we headed back down to do some more catching up. Seth and I talked video games, Wingless and I spoke a bit, but I mostly just basked in the happiness of seeing old friends, and being in the company of new ones.
MAui, Arno, and Dubble all came by shortly afterwards, and shortly after, MAui and I began to plot and plan for the first Clan Olympics event; as in how we wanted to pull it off and get it done. We also brainstormed on just what in the Hell the event "A Shot in the Dark" would entail. As we plotted in the hotel lobby, I believe Jade Griffon ran up to me and gave me a hug, we spoke briefly then and there too…and Gorebash and I caught up a little. By this time, I was going into sensory overload, but in an extremely happy way. Eventually, MAui and I went back to my room and I showed off my work on the Clan Olympics, and she showed me the cards she worked on…everything looked awesome: so well-done and professional-looking. She really outdid herself on that, and I think her efforts really made this year's competition special.
At this point, I remembered that our 4th Roomie, Mike Cohen, was probably downstairs in the hotel lobby, probably about ready to lynch me. I made it down to the lobby and began looking for anyone with an orange shirt…and lucked out, for Mike was the only one dressed in orange. I led him back up to the room, helped get him settled in and then went back to planning and plotting with MAui until we both got tired. Shaun Pup eventually came back from the Con Staff dinner with Greg Weisman, and we settled down for bed, knowing that at about eight thirty in the morning, we would be all out and about.
Friday, August 6th - We Have Infiltrated…
MAui and I woke up early to walk up to St. Catherine's and search for Cheap Plastic Award Medals…a mission that ended in failure, but it gave us plenty of exercise. We walked around the Eaton Centre and searched through those teeny bopper shops, but nothing really jumped out at us. Oh well, one would figure that this being an Olympic year in general they would be easier to find. Note to self: buy them in bulk…
Since we only got one team to pre-register for the Clan Olympics, we decided a few days before the convention, along with Liz, to set up a table for prospective teams. I sent out Sarah the Great to cull the Gathering Attendees and find some suitable quartets. It didn't take long before the first of seven teams to register, and the mix was very impressive; the 2005 Gathering Staff put up a team, a few teams of Con Virgins, and the Arcadians all put up their bids for the cheap non-metal medals this year. I brought out "Billy" for the first time (he's that ridiculous-looking grinning kid, he probably weaseled his way into a bunch of photos…). We had a full compliment of teams by about 3pm or so, which made me a very relieved man. Also over this time I got to talk a little more with Talyesin and enjoyed speaking with him. Tried badgering CrzyDemona into putting up a Clan Olympics team this year, but she turned me down, and also chatted with people in general, which is always a fun thing to do at a Gathering.
In the middle of all of this, and preparing for a couple of the games, I heard a guy ask what this was all about, and wound up face to face with one of the Disney DVD Cameramen. Brain goes on automatic and I just start calmly stating how the Clan Olympics started, what they were all about, and how it all worked…and blabbered about how good the fandom was in general, being so tightly-knit and all. Honestly, I haven't the slightest clue if I actually sounded decent or wound up being a bloated moronic ass about the whole thing. It seemed to last much longer than it did, mainly because of being nervous as Hell...after all, when one could potentially be speaking in front of thousands of people who buy the DVD on December 7th, 2004, one tends to get a bit scared. I can only imagine how Chris Rogers, Hudson, Karine, and anyone else who got interviewed would feel. But what are you going to do, run away? Become silent? Nah, just say what's on your mind and let the viewers in on the fun, and who knows…maybe we'll get a bunch more people in on the Gatherings in the coming years.
Around 5pm or so I manage to track down MAui and we decide to finally look at the room where the Opening Ceremonies are…and that's when everything began to sink in, we were going to steal the show in the middle of everything. Now I know Liz, Anne, and I all planned this ahead of time, and the staff also knew what we were up to. However, as the two of us worked on walking to the sides of the dais in unison and then went through our cue cards, I had one overriding thought going through my head: "They are SO going to kick our ass about this!" When you plan on flinging some 400 balls around a room in front of a live audience and in front of the people hosting the convention you're attending, there was call to be nervous. In about thirty minutes, we both felt somewhat comfortable with what we were doing. Even if we weren't, it was way too late to back out now.
I run up to grab the ball pit, MAui grabs the sunglasses, and we take our seats at the back of the room, and when Liz spoke the pre-determined trigger words, we slowly walked up, circular cue cards in hand, and just lurked on either side of the dais table. We take one look at one another, give the thumbs up sign like a pair of blues brother-and-sister, with some Matrix-like flair, and we hold up the first cards…and then drop them to reveal our first words. I didn't expect the crowd to react like they did, but they genuinely seemed to like what we did.
I introduced the teams for the Clan Olympics, and they all came on up, cheered, and whooped it up. Then many of them went into semi-shock when we announced that the first event would be RIGHT NOW. MAui grabbed the Holey Shirts, and I wheeled the balls to the center back, and before long, everyone was psyched up to do the event, and the crowd got to see first hand what this was all about. In two minutes it was over, and we were counting things, determining the first team to be on the chopping block. We took our "victims" out of the room and said "we now return you to your regularly-scheduled Opening Ceremonies…" I think the audience and staff really liked it…and then our first eliminated team began to smile when MAui and I let them in on the secret that they would be able to come back as "Spirits" and haunt the surviving teams.
After briefing the Dark Knights about their new role, I went back into the Opening Ceremonies and watched Greg Weisman speak about the whole Gargoyles phenomenon and he shared with us the original pitches for the show, pitches for some other shows, and audio tapes of Ed Asner, Greg Guler, and a few others. Another treat was an audio tape of the Atlantis series, which had Demona in it…and for some strange reason it sounded a lot like an erotic fantasy…but then again I think my mind was in the gutter…as were others. At the end of the presentation, the message was pretty clear: tell friends about Gargoyles, let them, know that the DVD comes out on December 7th, and that this is the last chance to push it…make or break time. The Opening Ceremonies concluded and MAui and I presented Greg with eight bars of Godiva Chocolate, since no team won that prize, and there was more than enough to go around.
I flitted about with the convention goers for another hour and a half or so, met a lot more people and was able to pal around some more before needing to pick up everything for the second Clan Olympics event. I managed to sneak in on the tail end of Jade Griffin's "Mystery Gargoyles Theatre 3000", an event which I wish I had attended because I LOVE that sort of thing. However, there was more work to do…fun work mind you, but still work. Got about half of the ballroom cleared out and set up our "Shot in the Dark" shooting gallery. The first quartet of Spirits made their way into the darkened room, grinning evilly, and were anxiously awaiting their first opportunity to mess with Clan Challanged: Part Duex…the team that refused to save them from elimination.
The surviving teams found out that the Dark Knights had crossed over to the Dark Side of the games, and were going to be trying to keep them from scoring points. The twist seemed to work quite well for that event, and it was enjoyable. People were throwing Koosh Balls around, the Squishy Soccer Balls saw some action…one guy was whipping them clear across the room and hitting targets…a real deadeye there. In the end everyone seemed to enjoy it, and the Defective Gargoyles got eliminated, Clan Challanged refusing to save anyone again. That's how the cookie crumbles, and they seemed to have some evil plans set up for the next event, which would take place the next morning.
Alright, survived the first day of Gathering, made it through the first two events, and things are going great. Everyone is having a good time, I'm feeling pretty damn good at the moment, and aim to find something to do. Originally wanted to do the Blue Mug-A-Guest, because I never really got a chance to do it before…wasn't going to happen this time around because the room there was PACKED, you couldn't even open the door…I knew this from Shaun, who was sitting propped up against the wall, waiting to deliver a VCR to the con suite. It was right then and there that I realized that I hadn't eaten a damn thing since last night. That was bright….so I'm looking around for people who hadn't gone to sleep or out to see Montreal at night, wind up saying hi to the crew in MAui's room, asked someone to walk with me to Tim Horton's…just didn't comfortable walking alone at night in the city, even one as nice and clean as Montreal…my New York City heritage rearing its ugly head.
Originally, no one was able to join me, so I wandered about, tried the "Liquid Dinner" thing and realized that wasn't going to work all that well…I really needed someone to walk with, and share dinner with. Countess then decided to join me, and I was very grateful for that. Got a chance to get to know someone new, and found out she lives in Montreal, which was good to know. We also talked about my past, explained where I came from, how I got to be, and all that…mainly just rambling, but she either really enjoyed getting to know the man behind Abram, or was just humoring me for the hell of it. In any case, I was appreciative for the company, and we left back for the hotel with much milk in hand, a rarity at most conventions.
Countess went to bed, I wished the Arcadian Room goodnight, and I plodded back up to my room, and ran into Kythera, whom I gave my last chocolate milk to…she's a major fan of the stuff like I am. ^_^ We shared a milk and some tired friendly grunts and words, and then decided to collapse…Shaun was already in bed, and the VCR was in tow. Flanker and Mike soon made their way back and we all finally wound down for some much-needed rest….
Saturday, August 7th - Breakfasts of Champions, Spirits, Pictionary, and Shyness.
At conventions, you don't sleep…it really doesn't matter if you're on the Convention Staff or are a Program Presenter, or if you're new to these get-togethers. Either you have something to do or somewhere to be, or you actually want to be up early to enjoy being with friends for as long as possible. At Gatherings, I'll happily wake up at 8am, or even seven or six in the morning if it meant hanging out with good people. So when that alarm rang I was all ready to go, and had all my stuff ready to go for the next Clan Olympics event.
Ran down to Arcadia Room to grab MAui, who was still asleep, so I simply went ahead to set up for Trivia Torture, the third event for the weekend. The first people who entered the auditorium were the members of the Green Dragons: Sapphire, Chameleongirl, Karlyl, and Kyffin. I don't know what it was, but that really made my morning when they came in and took their seats. Of course I was still setting up, running late like I usually did. MAui soon joined us, and then my co-host and I set everything else up as the other teams filed in for the Trivia Torture, with Billy grinning like a constipated evil genius behind me.
The event was pretty well-received, especially the torture part of it. MAui and I took turns reading the questions and teams scrambled to "Buzz In" by writing their answers on pads and hoisting them into the air as quickly as possible. Bonus cards were picked by teams, who earned points, all while ripping off targets from their opponents. Lanny actually came up and grabbed a pair of cards, which put another member of his team on the chopping block, and then he picked the "Abram 1-up", which put ME on the chopping block with his two hapless teammates. In the end, one of the 2005 Con Staff got her hair colored, Lanny got to enjoy toothpaste with an orange juice chaser, and I discovered the culinary perfection which is Godiva Chocolate dunked in Montreal's Finest Bleu Cheese Dressing. It wasn't all that bad, except for the whole chocolate and salad dressing part…I think there are some blackmail pictures floating around of me with this horrible disgusted look on my face as I choked my punishment down.
We're all having a grand all time, eating toothpaste and orange juice, sucking down Godiva and Bleu Cheese, and spray-painting our hair for a good hour, and it came down to the Green Dragons and Arcadia International. Both teams had a major shot of winning this event until one of the Spirit Teams decided to screw over the Dragons…which didn't sit well with them. (Frankly, I don't blame them). Since I already laid down the ground rules on Friday I really couldn't do much about it without upsetting someone, so like an yutz I let it stand. The last thing I ever want to do is upset people, so seeing the event end on such a sour note made me feel bad…things got smoothed over a bit after a while, and at the very least I know that rules will need to be streamlined a bit better. Live and learn, I suppose. Also have to make it clear that the games are spectator-friendly; people -can- come in and watch the proceedings and root teams on. That was one of my "Stupid Guy Moments."
I spent some time wandering around the convention afterwards, checking out the artwork in the show and looking at the dealer's room booths. Took some time to vote on the art show awards and place my ballots out. A lot of excellent illustrations this year, it was hard to pick winners for all the categories that were given. I did the best I could and went ahead and voted for what I thought deserved it, only way to do it, really. Oogled over Liz's artwork, marveled at Karlyl's, and Jade Griffen's…and Karine's and Talyesin's…so much wonderful work, so little time. Maybe next year, if I keep myself on schedule, I'll have the first of my "Talon-Etched" pots to throw into the mix. However, illustration still remains a medium that I continue to admire, and give praise for where it's deserved…and practically everyone in that show did.
It was about this time that MAui and I walked up to Eaton Centre to try to find those elusive Cheap Plastic Gold Medals, but we merely wound up finding chintzy crap that didn't suit our needs. Kind of sucked, but what can you do? It was a good walk, anyway. MAui went to Tim Horton's, and I went back to the hotel to prepare for the next event, and to regroup a bit.
Really Difficult Pictionary was a hit at the 2002 Convention, and this year I happened to be extra evil and got some true doozies for our surviving teams to sketch out. I think the best score was 4 out of 10, so I felt a little guilty about that, but not too much guilt since everyone had an awesome time. The "Secret Bonus Event" was revealed as a version of the "Three Strikes" game from the Price is Right…and a bit of "Press Your Luck" thrown in for that. I'm a sucker for game show references. In the end, it was Arcadia International, the Mexinadians, Clan Challanged: Part Deux, and Team Canadian Body Massage going to the final four…and they got their Collection Bins to prove it. The Final Four got a chance to decorate their boxes with team logos and pictures. "Poutine Grande" is an image that will be etched into my head for the rest of my life…and one of these days I will serve Poutine in a Taco Shell to Top Man, whom I believe was the person who dreamed up of that monstrosity. Funny thing is, it might actually taste pretty good…stranger culinary feats have occurred, after all.
Robert and Flanker asked if they could do the rest of the Really Difficult Pictionary sets and MAui agreed to it. I busied myself throwing out paper and trash that had been amassed by our drawing antics…when I got back up there they were still at it…and Robert celebrated in his ability to get all ten of his clues in the four-minute time limit. Either a sense of pointless pride or a need to be included overrode me and I stepped up to the drawing board…and also managed to get 10 out of 10, and in slightly less time, proving that I can play the games as well as organize and make them up. There were some 30 or so people in La Terrence playing Pictionary and having a blast, that was the main point of the whole thing, and the spirit of the games definitely seemed to be with us.
Just as we finished cleaning up our mess and putting back huge pads did Talyesin call out and ordered us all to the auditorium for the Radio Play, something I was looking forward to. In 1998, I actually auditioned for Greg's radio play and got a minor role (which eventually led me to find out more about Spike than I bargained for…one of the funnier convention memories I hold, but that's for another Gathering Diary). However, I haven't quite worked up the courage to try out for another one yet, and Clan Olympics takes up a big chunk of my time anyway. One year I may go for another Radio Play role. When I got into the auditorium, I was actually pretty glad I wasn't part of the play, but only for the reason that the entire front area in front of the seats was PACKED.
There were some 30 roles in this year play, and it was based on "The Journey" I believe…everyone did an excellent job, especially Talyesin as Goliath, and the guy who played Vinnie. A lot of other friends were involved, and honestly every last one of them really made it a success. The whole thing kicked major butt, and being a spectator to it was a great break from all of the running around. Already looking forward to what will happen at the next radio play.
I was invited to dinner by the Arcadia Clan…those whom I remember the names to are MAui (of course), Arno, Beedoo!, Dubble, Countess, and Robert, those whose names I don't remember, I'm sorry…but if you tell me, I -will- edit this. ;) We all took the trek to St. Catherine's and eventually found the Hard Rock Café of Montreal…in the middle of an open-air street festival which was rocking and hopping. We all got some inside seats and socialized to the music. I scratched Beedoo!, chatted with Robert, and laughed as Arno suggested a line of T-shirts based on his "Evil Makes Me Sad" T-Shirt (if you haven't seen this shirt, you MUST…it's really adorable!)…stuff like "Evil Makes Me Happy!" and "Evil Makes me Mad!"…then out of nowhere, there was "Evil Makes Me Want to Pee!" which gave most of us some really messed up mental images. We all enjoyed various dinner items, I had the pulled pork sandwich, because I was craving it…and we passed around a napkin cartoon a few times. MAui, Robert, Arno and I exchanged evil genius faces. It was a great dinner with some awesome friends, I just wished I could have shared similar dinners over the other nights, but I tend to forget to eat at Gatherings…
On the way back to the hotel, Robert spotted a Laser Quest arena and had to stop to check rates. He had this really great idea of getting a group of Gargoyles Fans together after closing ceremonies and basically take over the Laser Quest for three games. Hell, I'm all for it…I even played in that very arena waaaay back in April of 1997 with Melissa, Mae Li, Karine, Adrianna, Dark One, and others at the original Montreal Mini-Gathering. I wasn't going to miss this one for the world! We started to plot for that and get the word out that night during the costume ball.
At this point, I went up to my room to start working on part of the surprise I had in store for the Convention Staff…it was hard at first to put words to paper, but I think what I ultimately wrote was honest and heartfelt, but more on that later. Half of the ballroom I spent in the hotel room, struggling to deal with a slight panic attack…I tend to get very shy at times…I can get up and act like a total putz in front of a bunch of people when it needs to be done, like the Clan Olympics, but when I try to do such things for myself, I tend to not be able to…but this time around I was able to spend about half of the time actually wandering around and socializing a bit…especially with Flanker, Gorebash, Arno, and a few others that were in attendance.
Gorebash and I had a very nice conversation; we caught up with one another and told each other what we were up to. He's a guy whom I always considered a good friend, but never got much of a chance to hang out with. Come to think of it, a lot of people I consider friends I don't hang out with much…already working to correct that, bit by bit. One of the things I would love to do in the early fall is get a few Gathering folks together and do a wine tasting and brunch, and maybe even do a Spring Get-Together as well…bring back the Mini-Gatherings…there's no reason to not attempt them, really…and call me overly-nostalgic, I would love to see at least a few people more than just once a year.
During the early part of the ball I got a chance to listen to Keith David sing, and ran into his wife and his kids, but didn't realize it until he/they introduced me. Last time I saw Mr. David was in 1997, where he spoke with Karine and I…another very fond memory. He now has a beautiful family and is such an accomplished actor in many mediums. It was an honor and a pleasure to see him again after seven years. We spoke briefly about Gathering with a few others, and Flanker discovered his enjoyment of swordplay, which made his face light up…always a great thing.
After a rocky start of the evening it turned out to be quite a nice night after all. I managed to stay downstairs longer than I anticipated, it felt comfortable, and I was among people I cared about. I got to see some wondrous costumes; including Laurean as Tom and Kaylee as Princess Catherine, both were beautiful. Karine and Cindy did a perfect Pregnant Fox and Titania. There were some excellent gargoyle costumes also around, and someone even went as Echidna…I will always have a soft spot in my heart for snake women, and the people who have the talent and gumption to dress up as them. Karaoke was also fun, and some people in this fandom have truly beautiful voices. I remember one young lady on stage singing her heart out…and her mother hid behind Gorebash and me so she wouldn't be spotted…she wanted to hear her daughter sing, and that was really cool in my eyes, a mother supporting her daughter like that.
Eventually things started to wind down and we began to wander off to our separate ways. I tried finding Hudson's room to hang out and challenge Kaelyan to a round of Soul Calibur II, but failed to locate him. Next year, or next time he comes down to my place, his ass is mine. (Yes, that's a challenge…^_~) I stopped by the Arcadian Room and said my goodnights, and then wandered about the hotel for a little while longer, just taking in the beauty of it…visualizing all of us in our Station Eight Gargoyle Personas, lounging against rafters, relaxing and just hanging out in general. It was a real good visual to end the third night in Montreal. I found my room shortly after, and sleep soon found me…
Sunday, August 8th - The Hunt Is On, time to Get Zappy…
Had to wake up extra early this morning to get the final preparations for the Hunter's Moon Dash done and over with…needed to talk to the manager of the pool area and get her permission to hide the ball pit and MAui there, which she did, so that was cool. Went down to the gift shop and gave the clerk there one of the squishy soccer balls to put up "for sale"…and she did a truly wonderful job in displaying it rather inconspicuously. A few teams caught sight of it before the event, but didn't realize what was going on until later. Last night I sorted ball pit balls, taking out all but three yellow ones from the ball pit, and putting the rest in a container in a visible, but out of the way place. Also planted the shiny bags and the Sack Of DOOM tickets around, as well as giving more to the spirits. The last Clan Olympics event…finally!
Our teams filed into the terrace area with their decorated boxes, which overall I think was a great idea. There was a lot of spirit and excitement involved and it was going to culminate in the mad dash around the hotel looking for things like floor mats, plungers, diapers, and other assorted weird stuff. MAui and I did some last-minute plotting, and Flanker came strolling in with his "Billy For President" box, and my navy comforter! He must have overheard something, but he didn't get away with it…I took the blanket from him and told him to play nice. Gave him credit for trying though…and got to admit; seeing Billy plastered all over his container was quite funny. All of the boxes were wonderfully done, too…still like the 404 Error message drawn on the Arcadian Box also.
As the final team members made their way into the starting area, MAui ran off to take her position poolside on the 4th floor, which was right in view of the elevators. I briefed the Arcadians, Body Massagers, Mexinadians, and Challanged clans about the rules, and how everything was going to go down. I answered questions, and the tension and excitement mounted…and then the 45-minute countdown began and the Arcadians were off…the other three teams left within two and a half minutes of one another, intent on finding everything first.
Things were going well and good and rather mundane as teams collected the easier of the items, and then the Arcadians went on a tear on Bonus Items! I remember Arno and Dubble leading Karine to their box and getting her to stand in it for the full half-minute required for their big bonus. I wish I had taken a picture of that, because that moment was rather funny. Arno found my 2 by 4 in the Dealer's Room and sprinted it back to his box, and that was followed by a couple of squishy balls and a bunch of business cards. All the while, even the teams who weren't doing as well seemed to have a blast searching for all this stuff, and I think the gift shop lady took a shine to us when she began selling little souvenir birds and shot glasses. The 45 minutes was over way too soon, and it was time to tally up the scores…I think everyone knew that Arcadia International dominated the event and won the whole thing, but I didn't want to make the official announcement until the Closing Ceremonies. Besides, I still needed to find Cheap Plastic Medals somewhere in Montreal!
After cleaning up and thanking the hotel staff for their cooperation, I met up with Mike Cohen and Sarah the Great to go out for some lunch, and to search for the objects of my need. We headed over to the train station, and while Mike and Sarah ate their brunch I ran over to Staples and asked the clerks there if they had anything that resembled medals or even award ribbons. No luck; no medals, no ribbons…not even extra lanyards. I got stressed out a little, but then saw a bunch of metallic markers and decided to go even cheaper than plastic…this year, we would be giving out Cheap Cardboard Discs That Vaguely Resemble Medals! I bought my stuff, and some Instant Lotto and ran back to my two companions…chugging down some chocolate milk with them. Again, not choosing to eat all that much because really, I just don't tend to eat at conventions…too excited/nervous to eat anyway.
I managed to get back to the hotel just in time for another session of Phoenix Gate Anthology signings. Christine ushered me to a table and immediately had me sign books. I don't think I'll ever get used to the concept of people actually wanting my autograph, but the feeling of being able to do that for someone, and see them smile meant a lot to me. Perhaps it's a sign that I do decent to good work, or maybe it means I may be moderately famous someday. Who the heck knows? Still, to be able to express a thank you to both people who are very close friends to me, and to people whom I don't know as well, but consider me a peer and a comrade, that's just plain cool.
Keith David's Mug-A-Guest was in the same room as the Phoenix Gate Anthology Signing, which made me very happy because I thought I was going to miss all of the speakers this weekend. I knew I had some other stuff to do before the Closing Ceremonies, but I was going to at least spend half an hour in there! Listening to this man speak and give his reflections on show business, Gargoyles, and life in general was an absolute joy. That's one of the biggest things that stand out at this convention; the celebrities we have tend to not only be famous, but really down to earth…you feel comfortable around them, and I believe that notion is mutual. Greg Weisman, Keith David, Thom Adcox, Greg Guler…all of these men treat their fans with a great deal of respect, which makes it so much easier to give THEM respect and adoration. That is one of the biggest things that makes The Gathering such a special convention to me.
I really wanted to stay for the entire Keith David Mug-A-Guest, but I needed to get going and do what I needed to do. There were medals to be made and I didn't want to go into Closing Ceremonies empty-handed. (I really should have that backup plan ahead of time…) I ran into Sapphire and Chameleongirl during my little medal-creating project and we plotted to do some Gamecube action that night. We've been wanting to do that this weekend, and Liz wanted in on it, and anyone else was welcome to join too. So we set that up for right after Laser Quest, which I had already promised Rob and others that I would join in on. Even on the last official day of the Gathering so much was going on!
Kaylee, Ian and I snuck up to the Con Suite to carry out The Evil Plan: About two months before the convention I had decided to bring up a spread of Godiva Chocolate, Mint Tins, wines and other goodies, and put a thank you card in the center. It was going to be small at first, but it wound up being some 36 bars of chocolate, 20 tins of mints, three bottles of wine and a bottle of Godiva White Chocolate liquor. After putting forth so much effort and hard work, the staff really did deserve to be treated to something nice. Truth be told, a couple weeks before I almost chickened out on this, fearing it would be taken the wrong way…but sometimes, you need to throw caution to the wind and go with your inner nature. I was just very relieved that Kaylee managed to get the room key from Karine, for I believe she was the only one left in the dark by the time the surprise was to be revealed! We set up the spread in a nice presentation, and then left…it was now out of my hands.
Before long it was time to go to the Closing Ceremonies and everyone who was left was there. Karine takes the podium and begins to speak in French, which was a fitting way to kick things off. Not sure if that was planned or not, but it worked very well. I was going to toss out the three squishy soccer balls to the crowd for keepsakes, and CrzyDemona took one…which I didn't mind one bit…the Gathering Staff deserved a stress ball, after all. Cindy got up to speak and present the awards for the Art Show…and many of the people I voted for got ribbons, including Kythera, Karlyl, Stormy, Jade Griffin, and many others, all of whom deserved those rounds of applause and praise.
Chris Rogers began to talk about Gathering 2005, and MAui and I managed to get up and semi-interrupt him to declare the winners of the 2004 Clan Olympics. Arcadia International seemed surprised that they won by such an overwhelming margin, but they worked their butts off for that Cheap Cardboard Disc with Gold Writing on It. We did have another prize for them as well: MAui and I made Clan Olympics "We Kick Tail!" T-shirts for the four Gold Medal Winners, so Arno, Dubble, Robert, and Beedoo! (I think) got to take those home. We also announced that we would be doing another Clan Olympics in Las Vegas, which made a lot of people very happy. I know most of the participants this time around want to do it again. Overall, I think we did a decent job of putting it all together, and it was very gratifying to know that a lot of fun was had.
Keith David came in late in the closing ceremonies to sit in on them, which was welcomed without any hesitation, and he stuck around to sign autographs and artwork. It was at this point that I pre-registered for Gathering 2005 (for if I don't go, I'll probably never hear the end of it.) and was about ready to go back to my room for a bit when Kythera presented me with one of her limited edition prints, which really touched me: it was of Goliath kneeling on a pillar…and since Keith David was there, I asked her if she would have him sign it…and she agreed! This piece of artwork will be framed…done by a great artist and co-signed by a great actor. My thanks goes out to you, Kyt-Sis…in spades…and hearts, clubs, and diamonds too. That print will be on my walls for years to come, a fond memory of a great time.
We were talking and chatting and having a good time, happy that the convention was a success, and out of the blue CrzyDemona hugged me, thanking me for the spread in the Con Suite…this was followed by a hug from Karine, which was another one of those "Floor Me Moments." A lot of thoughts were running through my mind, but in the end I hugged back and accepted it for the thank you it was, and nothing more. Give credit where credit is due, and reward those who do a job well done. At the very least, I'm glad it wasn't taken the wrong way, and that it was accepted and genuinely appreciated.
After a rather lengthy meeting with the 2005 Gathering Staff and Attendees, it was time to go and get ready for Laser Quest, but not before running up to my room with Hudson to grab the last of the Godiva for Keith David. Felt rather bad that all he got was two measly bars, but I handed over the last double-box of Pocky I had, which went over great with his kids. He introduced me to his family, and sadly I can only remember the name of one of his younger daughters: Mae Li. I spoke to Beth Maza about this, and she still doesn't believe me. She'll just have to come to Vegas and hear it for herself. I also relayed the message to Mr. David that he was welcome to join us as Laser Quest, an idea which he seemed real keen on…so I gave him directions to the place on St. Catherine's and the first part of the group trekked on up.
I decided to wait up for Keith, because I had a little bit of doubt in my directions. A young lady stuck around with me, whose name I currently cannot remember (sorry!) stood by and chatted for a while, discussing fandom matters and how much both of us liked the convention. After about 45 minutes of waiting we both figured that Keith either went up to his room, went to spend time with his family, or went ahead to Laser Questing not knowing people were there to walk with him. No problem, the two of us managed to get up to the arena, and only one game had been played, so I found a guy who didn't want to play anymore, so I paid him eight bucks and took his place.
Hudson had begun dividing out teams for the next too games, placing all of his Quake Buddies and other good shots on his team and lumping the rest of us on "The Other Team". This was going to be an ass-handing, no doubt about it…but it was still fun. The first of the two games was just a simple points-based battle, and I spent most of my time doing the uber-slow Terminator (Governater?) walk around the maze, tagging people I could find…was proud that I hit Hudson and Chris a couple of times, and they returned the favor. I also probably hold the record for the most times barreling into a wall or obstacle in a span of fifteen minutes, got the bruises and scrapes to prove it.
The second game was called "Queen and King", where hitting the other team members didn't matter, and one woman and man on our team had a limited number of lives. Jade Griffin was our Queen and Flanker was our King, and we did our best to keep them safe. I wound up trying to follow Robert and Dubble as kind of this Secret Service like group, but managed to fall behind and then get lost. I'm hearing laser fire, and shouting KING!! KING!!! QUEEN!! However I was wandering around looking like a complete doofus. Still managed to tag a bunch of people though, but our team lost by a mere five points, not that this surprised me. In the end I was happy with finishing solidly in the middle of the pack of Laser Questers.
Having a Mario Party and Mario Kart date with Sapphire, Chameleongirl, and others, I decided to hightail it out on my own and make my way back to the hotel, and ran into Riverdale along the way, where we just talked…mainly about voice work, how we were linked to the fandom, and a bunch of other things. He eventually joined us in the GameCube partying that followed.
The video game goodness started in my hotel room when Sapphire brought over her controllers, games, and Karlyl, Chameleongirl, and others…Liz and her friend Matt(?) soon followed, and Ethan Gilchrist also joined in on the fun. We started out with Mario Party 5, just Sapphire and I, and then Chameleongirl and Ethan joined in on the second game. Just short contests, but Mario Party is a game where everyone can just pick up and play and have a good time. Chameleongirl never played Gamecube in her life, and she wound up winning, which was hilarious. Also remember teaming up with her in a pinball mini-game where we outscored the competition by about 36,000 to 3,000…so Chameleongirl, you may be my pinball partner any day!
After Mario Party, Shaun wanted to go to sleep, I don't blame him….so we attempted to move the game system into Sapphire's room, only to be foiled by a protected coaxial cable guard….damn those hotel safeties, trying to force us to pay for crappy, outdated video games! Not daunted, we moved into Lanny and Riverdale's room, and the Mario Karting commenced! I found out just how good Liz is at handling a little cartoon kart, and her friend was even better…I think I placed third in most of the races behind them, so practice is in order during the off-season. Karlyl and Riverdale took turns as well, and this elicited the next great quote: "I'm sucking the hind teat, noshing the nether nipple."
It sent three racers into the wall with laughter if memory serves me right.
As the party wound down we put in Bloody Roar: Primal Fury just to check out the "Jiggle Factor" on some of the female characters…which got a bunch of laughs. At this point, I'm beginning to wonder how Jenny the Bat can walk straight now. It was a great end to the whole thing…and it felt good to be able to share such moments with friends. I spend most of my working time talking about video games, and usually only play them in the privacy of my home, alone. Doing the whole party thing really kicked major butt…and I think I'll pack the 'Cube for Vegas. Sapphire, if you're up to this, let me know. ^_^
Being Sunday night, I decided to get a jump on packing up the car. I took all of the ball pit balls down to my Neon and packed them away, threw out all of the cardboard discs that I didn't need anymore, saving the one Kythera drew upon. The only things left of mine in the room was my suitcase and satchel…everything else was packed in ahead of time just to streamline everything for tomorrow. As I trekked half-asleep to and from my car I greeted other exhausted Garg fans and said my goodbyes to some, whom were either leaving tonight or tomorrow morning. Also stopped by the Arcadians' Room one last time to say my goodbyes there, for I think most/all of them were not going to go to LaRounde Monday Morning. It was a joy to be able to hang out with MAui, Robert, Arno, Beedoo!, Countess, Dubble, and the rest of them this year…felt like I grew closer to them this time around. I really liked the ArCanadians music disc I received from them…which has gone into my morning drive rotation.
Anyhoo, there was sleep to be had and I tottered up to get to bed…and realized I was only the second guy in the room. Flanker comes in a little while later, and then Mike joins the room last…this marks the last night of the first time in a long while that I slept in the same room with three other grown men. I remained awake just a little while longer, taking in what had gone on in the last three days, and could confidently say that I would never trade times like this for anything. The best part was that it wasn't over quite yet…
Monday, August 9th - Back South…
Sooner or later it has to end, but it was going to end on a high note. Flanker, Mike, Shaun and I all woke up a little earlier than normal to get ready for checkout. I wandered around a bit to say my goodbyes to people who were not going to make the trip to LaRounde, trying to hit everyone I possibly could. I know I missed a fair number of people, especially Arno, MAui, and the rest of the Arcadian Crew. Eventually we got the car packed, I gave up my key to Shaun and he checked us all out. The Delta Center-Ville was probably one of the finest hotels I've have the opportunity to stay in, Gathering or not.
We all met in the lobby and soon gathered up in a pack to head toward the Metro station that would lead us all to Six Flags: LaRounde. The group in part consisted of Karine, Cindy, Liz, Talyesin, Kyffin, Sapphire, Chameleongirl, Shaun, Sarah, Laurean, Trishana, Patrick, Christine, Becca, Seri, and Top Man. I know there were more, but I can't remember the names, just plain bad at that sort of thing. We rode a few Metro cars and made it to the buses that would take us all to the amusement park. There were photos taken, laughter, happiness, and just a general feeling of less stress. The convention was officially over, but hanging out was still to be had.
LaRounde was the only major disappointment for me, sad to say. The park looked beautiful, but there just weren't any rides that I could fit into, which was strange because I could do a lot more when I went there a few years ago, and was heavier. I won't bash on LaRounde though, for it was one of the nicer parks I've had the chance to walk through. I took in the scenery and the watched the people, talked to a few of them. I played a few carnival games, and gave my plushies to some of the younger kids who were trying to win but couldn't. I have no need for stuffed plush roses anyway, and it was a nice thing to do. Also got a chance to play Outrun 2, which kicked major tail…but I didn't get on the Dance Dance Revolution Machine. I had told Sapphire that I would do DDR with her at some point…so I gotta get into better shape, and make sure I don't have a multitude of blisters on my feet because that will be something I'll need to make good on in Las Vegas, or in Florida, depending on how my vacationing plans go.
Overall, everyone kind of went their separate ways at Six Flags…I know a few of the convention staff members kicked out early, and I don't blame them one bit after all the work they've done. Others just got tired of the lines and decided to go home, and some of us stayed until about 5pm, Shaun, Sarah, and myself were a part of that number….we took pictures of the stragglers in our group in general and we parted ways. It was overall a decent trip, though I was a pretty miffed that I didn't actually get to ride anything. But hey, I got my exercise in spades and still managed to have a decent time. We rode back on the metro and were guided by one of the Montrealers, and during the ride I met a guy who knew where Penn Yan, New York was, which was neat…small world. We made it back to the hotel and at about 6:30pm we were on our way back to my place.
The trip back to New York State was filled with a lot of talk about various fandom ideals, political banter, mental issues and general silliness. Though we were all pretty tired so half of it was only semi-coherent. I had to get some gas before getting too far into the Quebec countryside, and it was the only time I had to gas up in Canada…score! We ate at Wendy's right inside the Ontario Province border and talked yet some more. The rest of the ride was just general rest, and me concentrating on driving until we hit the Duty Free store right before the United States…we had to stop. I grabbed a dozen Cadbury Flake bars, some Canada Flag stickers to torture my boss with, a shotglass, and a bottle of Godiva White Chocolate Liquor…figured this time I wouldn't be so tempted to give it away.
During our slow-moving line to customs we joked around and laughed quite a bit, and I forgot how to drive in the process, which was met with much embarrassment from me, but it got a good laugh out of Sarah and Shaun. Absent-Minded Professor genes are good for something. We talked to the U.S. Customs Officer and he asks us the standard questions and he actually recognized the show Gargoyles…I think we chatted up the convention and told him to go buy the DVD of the First Season, which is coming out on December 7th. He laughed and waved us through to United States Roadways. We hit another gas station, got more caffeinated beverages and motored down Route 81…hitting the Thruway a couple of hours later.
At this point we're pretty punchy: Shaun is snoozing in the back seat, and Sarah is keeping me awake by rambling about Yu-Gi-Oh!, which I counter with rambling about story ideas, both fan fiction based and original. It also helped that the road was mostly in a straight line. We finally get to the home stretch half past midnight and we begin to play "Spot the Mennonite", which we both lost because they were all probably sleeping. Pulling in at about 1am, we made good time overall…only we woke up the dogs, which started barking…oh well, they missed us after being gone for nearly five days. I set up the inflatable bed for Shaun, the downstairs hide-a-bed in the den was already made up for Sarah, and we were all ready for some well-needed sleep.
I spent a little time on the computer to read up on my e-mail that I missed, just to make sure I didn't miss anything major at work. Go into Station Eight and wind up bumping into Mai "Beth Maza" Li, who began to ask all about the convention. If there is one person I absolutely can't turn down speaking to, it's her. So we chatted a bit, Shaun put in his remarks and this kept going for at least an hour. Sleep depravation was finally get a hold of me, and I cut out. It was great to sleep in my own bed again…heck, it was going to be great to get more than four hours of sleep in general. When it comes to Gatherings, though, sleep depravation is very worth it, especially when it comes to seeing friends whom you usually only see once a year.
Tuesday, August 10th - It's Gotta End Sometime…
Waking up at 10am never felt so good, and I was still in short-sleep mode, so I felt really great. Shaun and Sarah were still sleeping so I took the time to sneak out and grab some eggs, ham, cheddar cheese, shredded potatoes and bacon…we already had bagels. I decided to prepare omelets, bacon, bagels, basically a classic Sunday Brunch style breakfast, only it was Tuesday…oh well, it was the Day Before Having to Go Back to Work Brunch. We all sat around our kitchen bar top, eating our eggs, bacon, hash browns, and drinking orange juice, just enjoying the last day together.
Sarah was the first to leave, we all grabbed her car and then I led her to the shortcut road I took to get to the Thruway in the first place…she honked, we honked…bye bye Sarah the Great. That left Shaun and me to go back to my house and prep up for his trip to the airport. We hung out in general for another hour before packing his remaining stuff in the car and heading toward Rochester International Airport. We popped in the South Park Soundtrack and half-smiled, half sang along, and Shaun eventually put in another Weird Al compilation, with Amish Paradise blaring as we passed Mennonites…the windows were closed though, unlike the customs crossing into Canada.
I stopped by Michael's Arts and Crafts to pick out a frame for the "Pillar" print that Kythera gave me, and picked out something in a black, dark purple and silver…that should be done in a couple of weeks, and it will hang in my room/apartment/house for the rest of my days. After that relatively short trip I got Shaun up to the airport. He and I hugged, I told him to have a safe trip, and he disappeared into the airport terminal. That was it; the last person I knew from Gathering was on his way home and I was a solitary Gargoyles Fan once more…at least until I got home to go online again. Another Gathering, my fifth, was now officially a very fond memory, and now there's just about 11 months until the next Gathering in 2005…in Las Vegas. I had been asked with MAui to do the Clan Olympics next year…which I will gladly take up the ball pit balls for. Who knows what else will happen…as long as I'm with a group of wonderful friends, in a great location, knowing does it really matter all that much?
See everyone in 2005!
And You Thought It Was Over…
When I came into the Gargoyles Fandom in October of 1996, I had the
long-standing belief to give credit where it is due. This is no different.
I would like to thank the 2004 Gathering staff for a job extremely well done. Karine, Rob, Brenda, Patrick, Jen, Ian, Shaun, Liz, Laurean, Cindy, Carol…all of you pulled together one of the most elegant and classy Gatherings yet, and for that you have my gratitude, respect, appreciation, and an overabundance of chocolate. Liz, thank you especially for working with MAui and me on the Clan Olympics, we couldn't have done it without you. Brenda and Ian, thank you so much for co-conspiring with me on "Evil Plan #1", I'm happy it worked out as well as it did.
To my two travel buddies, Shaun and Sarah…thank you for putting up with my crazy rambling and blatant addiction to Instant Lottery. I've always enjoyed road trips, but road trips with friends are that much sweeter. Sarah, it was a joy to meet up with you again, and to share this wild ride with you. Shaun, it has been a pleasure to be able to have you as a companion and friend on this road trip. Thank you both for making the ride up to and back from Montreal a joyous one for me. You are both welcome in my home anytime, and next time, I'll get steaks, I promise.
To Shaun, Mike, and Flanker…rooming with the three of you has been a trip and a half, and I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. It was a great deal of fun, though Flanker, I'll still have the occasional nightmare about that military cot. I hope I didn't keep any of you up with my snoring, if I did….well, revenge is sweeter in Vegas.
For the Arcadia Clan; thank you for unofficially adopting me this weekend, and having me along on your trip to the Hard Rock Café, and to Laser Quest. Robert, Arno, Beedoo!, Dubble, MAui, Countess, everyone in that wild and crazy bunch, you made me feel more than just welcomed, you made me feel normal…as normal as a Gargoyles Fan could be, anyway. A special thanks to you, Countess, for being a walking companion that night to get some Tim Hortons, that meant a lot to me.
To Sapphire, who helped co-conspire a Sunday Night GameCube Fest, and to Chameleongirl, whom I will play pinball with any day.
Everyone who approached me to sign their Phoenix Gate Anthology, thank you for
Woo! See, gang! You just can't top a Gathering for good times, good friends, good conversation, etc.
Are YOU registered for G2006 yet? Time is running out!
I'm sorry that I'm not going to be one of the people giving you a Gathering diary, since I wasn't able to attend this year. Hopefully, I'll manage to make it next year, though by all accounts I missed a good year.
But anyway, I don['t so much have a question as a comment that I've been dying to share. I've been a fan of the show since the very beginning, literally the first episode had me hooked. And, without sounding too biased, I really do think it's the best animated series I've ever been exposed to - it's definitely my favorite. One of the things that sticks out in my mind that I want to express is how incredible it was for me when I first watched "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time" and saw Robbins and Gilly. I'm sure it was quite a shock for others, as well, to see a blind character in an animated show, but I'm a bit biased in this department since I am infact blind! And I definitely don't think I'd ever seen a guide dog in a cartoon before that...probably not since either. (Actually, speaking of guide dogs, mmy guide dog Dolly happens to be the reason I was unable to attend G2004 as she was extremely sick at the time. I'm happy to say, she's just fine now.)
I could ramble on about the various aspects of how that impacts everything from disability awareness to the price of cheese in Wisconsin, but that's neither here nor there and really not my point at all. (Though the curious side of my personality wonders how much of Robbins was spontaneous and how much was completely thought-out and solidified beforehand.) I will say it was a nice treat for me to see a blind character who wasn't depicted as a helpless pauper, mentally deficient, or the like. So I thank you and all those involved for that. I do have to giggle at the fact that poor Gilly seems to literally live her job as a guide dog (she's never out of her harness, I mean), which isn't really realisitic, but I both understand the need for the visual point of what she does to be made, nor expect non-guide dog users to know all that. (I think that sentence made more sense in my head.)
Anyway, I apologize for this seemingly random babble and I thank you for plugging away at this huge load of questions here. It's a pleasure to read your responses and posts.
Cyndy & Dolly
It's always gratifying and welcome to find out both when we did something right and to find out how to improve upon it, so thanks. Robbins and Gilly will be back in the new comic book -- in or around issue #4, I think.
Monday, August 9 - The Long Road Home:
I woke up, collected my things and went down to the desk with Denis to check out and make sure Denis was set to spend another day in the room. There were a few communications blocks at first, but Denis used his French to get them cleared up - gotta love those bilinguals. Too bad I spent most of my time in high school on Italian and dead languages (get a Gathering in Italy and I'll be golden).
We all gathered together for breakfast and ended up sitting next to Gorebash and a couple of his friends, though we pretty much kept the conversation within our own groups. Leo split afterwards to catch up with the group heading to Six Flags, and Denis... I don't remember what Denis decided to do, but he went off on his own.
Kelly and I gathered our things, went down to my car and headed off around 10 - getting out of the city was much, much easier than getting in.
With no stops along the way (well, no pick-ups anyway), it was smooth sailing. We hit traffic around Toronto, but fortunately we were staying outside of the city so there was no risk of getting misdirected again. A storm threatened to make things particularly hazardous but it held off long enough for us to get to the QEW and to Hamilton.
Got Kelly back to her place in one piece and didn't stick around for long - cat allergy aside, I was in a mindset to just get to Niagara Falls and relax. Got out of Hamilton without incident and headed on back to the States.
Of course, it wouldn't be a road trip if there was no incident. I ended up following the wrong signs and got lost on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls - nice town, just not where I wanted to be. Eventually I got my bearings and continued on to the correct bridge.
I slowed down on the bridge to take a look at the Falls, which was as close as I would get this trip, and continued on home. I had an interesting conversation with the border guard that, well... I was tired. This is pretty much verbatim:
Guard: Okay, I gotta ask - what do your plates mean?
Me: "Let there be night." It's Latin, motto of a club I belonged to in high school.
Guard: Ah. Okay, citizenship? ~What I heard: Citizenship papers?~
Me: Birth certificate and driver's license.
Guard: No, what country are you from? ~What I heard: What country are you coming from?~
Guard: ...What's a Canadian doing with Virginia tags?
Me: What? I'm not ~~sudden realization of what he had actually said~~ ...oh! I'm American. Sorry. Yeah, American.
Guard: Carry on.
I got to the hotel about the same time as a crunch of Italian tourists and guests who didn't seem to understand the concept of checking into a hotel, so I opted for a quick dinner while the crowd dispersed. Nothing, and I mean nothing tastes as good as a steak after a long day on the road.
Made it into my room and ordered "Master and Commander" for some post-travel entertainment. As soon as it ended I went to sleep.
Day's mileage: 430
Total mileage: 1,360
Tuesday, August 10 - The Long Road Home Continued:
I woke up around 8:30 and carried myself to the Duty Free Shop to exchange the Canadian currency into ol' Greenbacks as I doubted I'd have another chance after Niagara Falls (another difference between the U.S. and Canada - while you can exchange currency almost anywhere up there, you can only do it at the border and international airports down here). I walked there because the only exit by car was back into Canada, and while I very much enjoyed my time up there I just wanted to go home.
I decided against going to the Falls for three reasons: rain was coming, the crowds were gathering and I just wanted to go. So I left at 10 and began the final leg of the road trip.
It started with my getting turned around in Buffalo. I lost track of the various signs and ended up on I-90 Eastbound. Okay, so, not wanting to go to Albany I turned around, donated $.30 to the state of New York via their toll booths and tried getting home again.
Not much to report for the first part of the trip - just followed the breadcrumbs from the way up. However, if you'll recall the storm that slowed Leo and me down on Wednesday, it would seem lightning can strike twice in the same place. Just before State College and my turn off to I-99, a storm fired up and dropped visibility to zero. It was pretty dramatic - driving rain, lightning all about and cliffs on either side of the windy road, all at speed (nobody felt like slowing down). I made it out of the storm in one piece and well beyond my exit.
By the time I figured out that I had missed my exit I was halfway to I-81, so I decided to carry on. As I mentioned back on Wednesday, Pennsylvania is entirely too big. Oh boy, well, I made I-81 and carried along on to I-70. I had planned on going to I-66 to avoid the traffic, but I was approaching the nine hour mark and didn't want to add another 40 minutes to what was going to end up being a 10 1/2-hour trek, so I braved I-70.
Only when necessary, friends; only take that road when absolutely necessary.
So that path aside I made it home in one piece - although very, very tired. I stayed up just long enough to grab dinner, my only meal that day, and then hit the bed hard.
Day's mileage: 580
Total mileage: 1,940
That's it - all I've got. Thanks for reading through it.
Thanks for writing it up. How did Leo get home?
Sunday, August 8 - The Weekend, Pt. 3:
To say that I "woke up" at 6 would be wrong - I merely emerged from a comatose state with limited activity. My shower was only slightly rejuvenating, and the two cups of coffee I had downstairs just barely gave my body animation. Simply put, today started off on only adrenaline and caffeine - truly a Gathering experience.
Well, Gathering and high school.
Anyway, as true consciousness and animation slowly returned to me I made my way to Allaine's round robin panel and an equally exhausted group assembled - Ellen, Allaine, Princess Alexandria, Denis and Spacebabie. We waited a while as Allaine tried to wrestle some more people away from the Gargoyles Biology panel but he was unsuccessful and we got underway.
I had missed Spacebabie's panel on Friday so I wasn't really sure what to expect, but what I didn't expect, though, was that doing an oral round robin would be harder than a typed one; although given my state of body and mind, doing anything that morning requiring more than a passing thought or gesture was challenging. Despite that, the round robin came together and we got a decent story going - then we had to stop.
The dealers' room/art show was the next stop. I put in bids on artwork (I lost all of them) and saw that the PGA signing tables had been set up. Christine was there and let me know that we were finally underway for the book signing, so I joined her. People trickled in at first, not really sure what was going on (some people weren't even aware of the PGA), and after a while more of the authors began to assemble. It was about half an hour before the crowd really gathered and we were signing multiple books at a time.
Being asked for a signature is really a weird experience, especially given my attitudes towards my work, but as long as people think that getting my signature was worth it - fair enough.
I had intended to go to Kathy's workshop, but about the time I was going to step out when the crowds were dying off Keith walked in, so I stuck around. It went well, good Q&A, and in the course of it we signed a PGA copy for him - now that made me nervous. I don't know why, but it just didn't sit well with me.
After Keith's mug-a-guest had ended it was time for Closing Ceremonies - so sad. People had already left, Greg wasn't there, people were still running around; it didn't have the same energy as Opening Ceremonies and was kind of depressing overall, really for the reason that it was the end of the con. I skipped on pre-registering for Vegas - I have no clue if I'll be able to make it, but if it turns out that I definitely won't, I'll put in a supporting membership for sure - and just got in line for Keith. It didn't occur to me until I was in line that I should have brought my Radio Play script from last year for him to sign, so lacking anything Keith/Goliath-related I just had him sign my copy of the PGA - a little quid pro quo signing.
From there I went with Ellen, Allaine, Princess Alexandria, Kelly and Leo to lunch in a deserted food court - good, not great. We chatted about what we all had to look forward to when we went home. On the way back to the hotel Ellen offered to take us up to Mount Royal to look out over Montreal at night. Allaine was going to laser tag so he couldn't make it, and Alexandria opted out. Kelly was undecided up to the last minute when I ambushed her at the hotel restaurant and encouraged her to come.
It was a haul going through Montreal, but it was all so worth it.
Ellen pointed out the various places she remembered from her days in Montreal on our way up, but the fun began when we got to the park. We opted for a back route to the observatory that turned into a nature hike, but there were plenty of other disoriented groups to keep us company as we went up the narrow trails.
Eventually we arrived at our destination and we were not disappointed. Montreal is stunning. Honestly, the staff should have had a trip to this place - it was just so beautiful. We hung around for about an hour or so enjoying the view, but eventually we had to go back so Ellen could catch up with her husband.
We didn't take the scenic route back - nightfall made that an impossible feat - but we did cut through the university (so, okay, a different kind of scenic) as Ellen extended her tour. We stopped off for a drink at an Irish pub for a quick round before we finished the trip, and the stop gave Ellen the perfect timing to walk into the hotel to greet her husband at the check-in desk.
Realizing that it was unlikely we'd see each other in the morning we said our goodbyes in the lobby and then retired to our rooms. I gave my parents a call to let them know when I'd be leaving the next day and then went to sleep - actual sleep this time.
And that was the weekend.
Next, "The Long Road Home"
Yes, the bittersweet end of another Gathering... <sigh>...
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...