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Liz Chesterman writes...

Gathering 2004 Report
Or: Nips and Lipples! Keith David owes me money!

Wed, Aug 4th

I start with Wednesday because it was such an important day, being the last day before we left. I was up at slightly after 8am and wouldn't quit until 1:30 am Friday morning. Wednesday was mostly spend making prints, buying ink, doing last minute errands. Packing was easy, for the most part; I just wanted to make sure I took the right supplies, didn't forget the most important originals, and get my damn mask done. The wig had to be sewn on, then I had to figure out how to pack the costume in a way it would receive minimal damage on the journey.

I ended up forgetting Binoicle: Mask of Light. Bummer. But I didn't forget anything really important.

Taylor and I left at 4am Thursday and had no problems getting on the various planes and etc, despite being total zombies. I would faze from being a zombie to being awake all Thursday. But that's almost typical pre-con Liz anyhow.


Was very long. Of course, that I'd been up since 8am the previous day didn't help. But we made it into Canada with no mishaps, and met up with Trishana right after we got our baggage. Somehow we managed to be on the same plane in and not realize it. It was great to hook up with her at the airport tho'. We also managed to snag Laurean a bit later.

Patrick, Karine, Cindy and Rob picked us up in a van (after waiting for a while, wondering if we were waiting in the wrong place). Everyone kept asking me what kind of van, what color van Patrick was driving. I kept responding: "How am I supposed to know, it's a rental?" Ah well, we were all worried and nervous.

Headed to Karine's to pick up Brenda, then had Poutine at the same restaurant from February. Back to Karine's to pick up equipment and supplies, then onto the hotel!

I realize now my Live Meet 2004 Report is rather incomplete. I'll have to piece it together later.

Snagged Trishana at the hotel and shoved Taylor on her. (Wanted to give Taylor a chance to not have to deal with staff things and start enjoying himself pre-con. Plus I figured he'd enjoy Trishana's company.)

Helped haul a crap load of things from the van to the cons uite and such. Packet stuffing time! Half of the staff got together to stuff pins, PGAs, shirts and programs into the pre-registered packets. I have to say again that the pins were awesome (Thanks, Two Wacky Pin Guys!) and the programs were gorgeous, thanks to Laurean. Yes dear, you rock. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Managed to get praise from Costume Goddess Cindy on my Yama costume. Got some tips and hints and help for future projects as well.

Hauled my own suit cases to Kelly's room, met up with Trishana, met Julie, Australian Coolie. I remember futzing around, then getting snacks with Kelly, Trishana (coffee!), Julie, Taylor, Tony and I know here name but it escapes and shames me. "Elisa Maza." It'll come to me. No, not Salli Richardson. Gah. Andrea! Anyhow, I got some fruit and we all talked for a while. Headed back to the hotel and chilled with people, keeping in mind about the Staff/not staff dinner.

Anyhow, futzed around, and got more surly, grumpy, tired and hungry by the minute (sorry guys), but dealt with it. Time rolls around for the staff/not staff dinner and Greg has not arrived. We've gotta wait another hour. Or so. Taylor and I explored the hotel a little, found the underground/covered alley-way, then talked with some arriving fans at the hotel, then back to the hotel room for a while.

Looking forward to the staff/not staff dinner was the only thing keeping me awake at this point. At the last minute, find out it's now a staff only dinner. ;.; Well. That's all I'll say there. There were good reasons, I'll leave it at that.

The walk was long (both ways) but entertaining (both ways). The dinner was great, but a bit overpriced IMHO. I was so happy to get to the hotel and just crash. Everyone else in the room was asleep already, gah! But I managed to not only go to bed without bothering people, but get up at a decent hour for pre-con staff breakfast.


Breakfast was at some local restaurant. We got the day planned over coffee and assorted things, then headed back to the hotel to get the con started and the art show put up. I took a shower, then tried to help answer questions, set things up and whatnot. Discussed events with the Clan Olympics hosts, set up my own art show (badly, yet again. I'll learn some day), and attend a voice acting panel hosted by the incomparable Greg Weisman.

Gawked over artwork in the show, set up my own Artist Alley table with Taylor. People like my work, and that makes me happy.

The DVD crew was out and about, starting with the first panels. I'm sure they got many, many many, many interesting things over the weekend.

Opening Ceremonies was fun; I got to start talking about the various contests happening at the con when the Clan Olympics literally stole the stage (and me right off it!) and had their first event, Stuff It!, right there in the middle of the ceremony. Rawk! Yes, it was staged, but apparently I was convincing enough that the audience didn't realize it. Makes me happy. I think it really opened up the con in an upbeat way. Not only did the teams have fun, but the audience loved the antics. Afterward I finished my contests points and handed the podium on to the next staff member.

Greg did his usual schpeils and showed the various pitches for The Dark Ages, The New Olympians, Bad Guys and played the audio for The Last. He also played a tape made by Carol Wagner of a bunch of staff, cast and crew for the show, a new bonus for the convention!

"Vampires... it's what we're not."
-Ed Asner

Afterward was dinner at Le Marche (The Move and Pick) with Ethan, Kyffin, Julie, Trishana, Kelly and Taylor. I had garlic bread with cheese, stir fry shrimp, cappucino and cheesecake with berries and chocolate sauce. Yum!!

Taylor and I went to the Blue Mug-A-Guest after dinner. The con suite was just packed with people, but the mug wasn't very blue (adult). Poor Taylor; Puck is Owen he didn't know yet, but found out and ducked out afterward so as to not be spoiled on any other points. (He's only seen the first few episodes of season 2). I started drifting off during the thing; it's hard for me to stay awake late at night if my hands aren't busy, and I was teased for it. Ah well, it's true, it's true. Ian arrived a bit later, and stayed for about a half hour. I was awake again by then, but when we got back to the rooms everyone else was asleep. :P So to bed, again!

Julie and I tried chatting for a while tho', since she wasn't very tired either. But poor Trishana couldn't take it. "Man... guuuys... geeeeez." Boy, that was funny. We got quiet and went to sleep.

Artist Alley again! I loved talking to people about my different works and doing artsy things. I worked on my Then and Now image (to be posted later), then auditioned for the Radio Play. I read for Angela, since apparently no one else had. I got into the play with just 2 lines, the same word three times, but still had a blast.

Back to Artist Alley, which started booming around lunch. And the DVD crew came at some point to film the art show. I attended part of the auction and bid on some things. I really wanted some Rita M. art (damn, I even made the prints for her!), but missed my chance on two pieces. However, they went for fabulous prices, and that pleases me greatly. Taylor bid on a cel from Awakening Pt 3, but let it go at $450. I think it ended up reaching $455 CAD. Congrats to the auctioneers Taras and Sandman7, who were fabulous. We then I practiced for the Radio Play, then I scrambled around getting the music videos running. Phew!

The Radio Play, The Journey, went wonderfully. Mike, who played Vinnie, won my heart over with his performance. Then people scrambled to watch the music videos and I got to chill for a little bit before the Banquet.

Our table got Greg Weisman as our guest of honor. Okay. I'll be honest. It hurts, but I will. Karine made a mistake in announcing the draw and said we'd get Keith David. Now, I love Greg to death. And I love hearing his stories, accomplishments, failures, funny moments and etc, but I was super psyched to get Keith. So I was a little disappointed for a moment (and felt horrible), but you know what? Having Greg at the table for dinner was awesome and I do not regret that in any way. So, you go Greg.

Dinner was fabulous. Even after tasting and picking everything out in February I was yet again amazed at how good the food was. And except in a few strange cases, everyone loved the meal. Quail stuffed with grapes? Shrimp cocktail with avocado? Delicate chocolate and fruit desserts? Oishisouuuuuuuuuuuuu.

Keith finally arrived at the end of dinner, and folks were all geared up to ask him questions. Poor guy. After being delayed three times and being awake for ever and I'm sure starving as well, he still delighted in answering questions. I had to cut out, tho', to get the Masquerade forms counted and organized, then get into costume myself.

Trishana and Ian helped with the Masquerade organization, then I popped down to the room where Trishana, Julie and Kelly helped me dress. And boy did I need the help. I will say again, I would not have been able to get dressed without your help, ladies. Especially the body paint part. And the man boobies on the bodyplate.

Down to level C where Ian and I corralled Masquerade contestants into Recency A and got them set up to show off their stuff. I was amazed with all the costume submissions this year, and so very happy to see a plethora of cannon characters. I was also extremely pleased to see so many non-contestants dressed up for the ball. I was especially impressed with just about every staff member dressing up and Lynati's Ophelia.

Oh yeah, folks were impressed with my Yama costume too. I'm just glad it survived the trip up with little damage. After showing off, having a billion pictures taken in different areas and poses, I was more than eager to change to something more normal. Because it might have looked good, but DIZAMN was it hot! I can't wait to see photos.

I changed and showered after, then headed back down to the ball for dancing and karaoke. Mostly karaoke. Strange! People liked it tho', even if my CDs didn't display the lyrics in Jen's computer. Taylor blew people away with his rendition of the 'Love Boat' theme, and a group of 20 or so amused the crowd with their rendition of YMCA with no lyrics. "Something, something somethingsomething. Somethingsomething.." I sang too, but am shamefully out of practice and shamed myself with Heart Breaker. Maybe next year I'll be smart and do Black Velvet or Holding out for a Hero.

I eventually split with Kelly and Taylor, and we went back to the room to draw and talk with Julie and Trishana. We stayed up lat and loved it!


Ah no, it's nearing the end of the con. Got up late but down to Artist Alley only 45min late. Stayed there for a while, then hosted my panel on marker and computer coloring. Granted, nearly everyone was in the Keith David Mug-A-Guest, but to the few that were there: Thank you. I enjoyed helping you guys out.

Back to Artist Alley for a bit, where I met Felix in person! Foofy hair! I met Gen earlier in the hotel room. Then on to Closing Ceremonies. Karine got to thank everyone again, and 2005 Staff talked, Clan Olypics announced the winners, promised to return next year, Cindy handed out all the art show awards, and I announced the Music Video Contest winner.

Keith David had his autograph signing while the staff fled up to the con suite for the thank you present from Scott "Abe" Rogoff. For those who didn't know it was coming, they were A) surprised B) elated C) unbelievably grateful. For those that did, just B and C, but still. Scott? You rock. Thanks for my Ginger sauce!

Word got around that Keith David was blown away by my print of Spawn and Goliath together. He wanted a print! I was going to give him one anyway, but that he liked it so much.. he loved it! I couldn't wait to give him one, and get my own copy signed.

But first I helped with taking the Art Show panels and such down, then to the van. Good work. And I got pre-registered for Gathering 2005, Vegas, then waited in line for Keith David. (And Gen, Felix, Ian, Trishana, Julie, Kelly and Taylor were hungry. We all wanted dinner. But I couldn't take the chance of not getting Keith's autograph.) I had him sign some things and was random fan #23598716098 until I pulled out my 11x14 print of Rumbling Thunder. Please sign this too? The other stuff was just icing; I made that print specifically for him to sign for me.

And he asked for a print for himself. I pull out 1/10, "It's always been my tradition to hand guests a piece of artwork as thanks for coming." And he goes, "Could you sign it for me?" So I did, and he asks, "Do you have any more?"

Pause. "Ah, yeah, I've got three or four."

"Can I have them?"

Pause. "Sure! I've got some here. Lesse.. oh, I've six."

"Great. I'll take them all."


"How much."

"Ten dollars. But for you, five!"

"No no, you decide how much. Just let me have the rest and I'll pay you. Do you have a card?"

"Yes, but not on me. I'll go get you one."

And then Shaun took pictures of me with Keith David,... eeeee! Had then to grab my Artist Alley supplies and take them to the room, then get some business cards. Waited in line again to be polite, and handed Keith the original 11x14 ink of the image. I was going to keep it, but, what the hell. It just made the experience even more special.

"I've got some cards. Do you want just one, or a couple?"

"Give me a couple."

I hand them to him. "Someone might contact you."

Liz. About to pass out, figuratively.

So then he had to go get cash. I didn't actually get paid until late Monday, but that's okay. It was Keith David, I knew he was good for it. Any still, even if hadn't, to be able to say, "Keith David owes me money!" is one of those strange, weird, awesome things. I'm sure he had to go to dinner with his family and other fun things, plus he was planning on possibly going to laser tag with the fans.

We finally headed to dinner, sans Kelly and Julie, who were in the business meeting for 2005. That's cool; important stuff planning for a con is. Gen, Felix, Trishana, Taylor, Ian and I were headed off through the streets of Montreal to a place that had food in crepe form! What. A. Spectacular. Dinner. Holy cow, Montreal has good food! And the dinner conversation/company was great. Never a dull moment. Never an awkward one. You guys rule.

Back to the hotel and to Tacky Town, thanks to Ian. I bought an Inu Yasha and Sesshomaru pillow and some zipper pulls. One over-priced item a trip! We then had to part ways with Gen and Felix, boo, but hopefully I will meet up with them again.

Back at the hotel there's the Dead Dog Party for a while, then video game competition fun! I had fun kicking ass in Mario Kart, and even ended up owning the Double Dash Master, Taylor, once. And it felt so good.

By the way, Mike "Riverdale," you also rule. You were one of the most amusing people I met at the con this year. "Sucking hind teat" indeed.

Well, after Bloody Roar: Primal Fury, we had to call it a night. Afterall, tomorrow was LaRonde day!


Monday we all got going pretty much on time and got to the park in good order. Group shot in front of the fountain, then we rode some crappy stand-up coaster. Then lunch, and DDR! w00T! I'm so out of practice, but I had a great time anyway. Probably because despite being out practice Kelly and I still showed up the 'tweens trying to hound the pads. Feh! We then rode The Dragon, 'oooh, aaaah,' the crappiest ride the in the park, but amusing, and the ferris wheel. Oh yeah, I forced Dippin' Dots upon Julie, and she loved them.

The Monster had been closed earlier, but was open by then, so we rode the second tallest wooden coaster in the world. What a fantastic ride! As far as wooden coasters go, it was the second best I've ever been on. Second only to the Cyclone at Coney Island.

After that we were going to enter in the Double Dash tourney in the Nintendo building. But it wasn't worth it; 50+ horny 10-16yr olds (mostly 10yr olds) acting like it was a life or death thing? Feh, Taylor would have wiped the floor with them all; castrated them before they knew what as coming. So we didn't bother; Taylor's the Double Dash Master; he doesn't need to prove it... but so many times. Instead we waited in line for The Vampire for an hour and a half. Awesome ride that one.

Afterward, Dippin' Dots for Liz and Kelly. Ian and Taylor went off to ride a back-and-forth, swinging-spinning ride. Julie, Kelly and I instead played DDR. Well.. Kelly and I DDR'd, Julie watched. Kelly fended off the pad monkeys, and we kicked ass again.

Headed back to the hotel and had to part ways with Ian. Love the guy; wish he could have stayed yet another additional night.

Dinner at Tim Hortons.. it was okay. After calling Le Marche, "open 'til 12!" but not really; arrived at 10... doors locked. Bastards.

Back to the hotel yet again to babble and doodle. Sang the 'Star Wars Cantina' parody to Copa Cabana with the additional verse Taylor and I came up with. Arted, laughed, a lot. Eventually slept.


Ahh, Tuesday. Why'd you have to come so soon? Packed up all my stuff, got breakfast. Wrote a note to Keith David and took it to his room with Taylor.

Keith David.. answered the door... and hugged me again! I thanked him for coming, for interacting with the fans, for being so fun, friendly and the stories. He's totally psyched to come to Vegas in 2005. Did I mention that before? Because it's true.

Best Keith quote:
"Excuse me? You take that right back where you got it."

On phrases you bring home with you from your travels. (Like Australia.)

Keith is so much fun to talk to. He's so.. one on one, down to earth. And he invited Taylor and me to go to the spa and pool with him and his son. Spa. With. Keith David. Pool. I could have spent the day with Keith David! Gah! But Patrick, ever the calm voice of reason, happened to interceed and reminded us that we indeed have a plane to catch. Sigh. I got more hugs from Keith David tho', and that makes me unbelievably happy. Like Greg, it'll carry me to 2005.

Oh yeah. This didn't hurt:

"Where are you guys heading?"
"Richmond, Virginia."
"Ah, I have family down in Virginia Beach I'm visiting in September."
"Oh, it's wonderful there that time of year. Still warm, but most of the tourists have cleared out. I'm sure you'll have a great visit."
"Oh yes. And maybe I'll give you a call."

Again. Even if he doesn't.. that it was said.. damn! Happy Liz! More points for Keith David! More hugs too. ;>

The plane rides were uneventful, but quick. Even the 2hr layover in Cleveland wasn't bad. I sketched for Patrick on the first plane ride. Just for chips and giggles I did a female Puck.

Madeline and Mrs. Fauss picked us up at RIC and dropped us off at their house, where we collected Taylor's Tahoe and headed back to my home. Taylor dropped me off and we talked for a while, then my stuff was hauled inside, and crashed. Phew!

I had an unbelievably wonderful time at the convention this year. It's definitely been my best Gathering yet, and I've heard the same thing from some of the other fans as well. This pleases me to no end, and I hope 2005 goes as well as 2004 did. Good luck to you, Las Vegas. And I look forward to seeing everyone, and more, back in late July next year!

Remember, you have A YEAR to plan; no excuses! It's Vegas too, so it'll be much cheaper than normal. Don't let The Gathering pass you bye! If start now with a positive attitude, you will make it.

Greg responds...

I'm glad I wasn't too big a disappointment at the banquet. (I totally understand. It sometimes amazes me that the entire fandom isn't totally bored with me by now.) Think of it this way, you got me and you didn't really lose out on Keith since he didn't show until much later.

Response recorded on May 04, 2006