A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Knew I would get to this eventually.
Tuesday, June 24th.
Woke up early to pick up Aaron and Mara from LaGuardia Airport. Drove to my friend Nick's house in Pleasantville to pick him up, as I needed someone to navigate as I've never driven to the airport before. Well, the directions were confusing (it would take another trip later to teach me that Mapquest.com really sucked), but we got there eventually. I parked the car, Nick and I grabbed a quick bite-to-eat (though he bought a whole meal) at the food court, and waited for Aaron and Mara. They soon arrived, and we grabbed their luggage and brought it to my car, where we made the trip back home to Croton.
My brother's graduation was later in the day, so we all lounged around and rested before the event. We watched some anime music videos, and later on made our way to the graduation. We all agreed that the ceremony was way, way too long. It was a small class, and they filled it up with long speeches, and songs (I actually quietly heckled it). We knew more guests would be arriving later for the party at home, so as soon as Alex (my brother) got his diploma, we were out of there. Good thing to, cause people were already arriving. The food was great, we spent some time mingling with various guests. Got to see family I don't get to see often. And eventually Aaron and I went to pick up Lynati at the train station.
After the party ended, I drove Nick home, and came back here, where we checked e-mail, and then Aaron, Mara, Lynati, Alex and I watched this horrible animated Ben-Hurr movie, narrated by the great Charleton Heston himself. Bad animation, bad CGI, and a Jesus that looked like a child molester. All and all, it was fun to just rip into it. Then we called it a night.
Wednesday, June 25th.
Alex, Mara and I were the first ones up, we chatted out on the deck about things, and shared a smoke. Eventually, we had to get Aaron and Lynati up, cause we needed to drop Lynati off at the train station. After that, the three of us went shopping for con equipment, first to Wal-Mart and Office Max, then to a Toys R Us to grab some Nerf Guns for Clan Wars.
We came back, and watched Kevin Smith's classic film, Clerks. I've seen the movie a million times and it never gets old. But this was Aaron and Mara's first time seeing it, and since they were both fans of the six episode cartoon series based on the movie, I thought it was about damn time they finally saw it. ;)
Best reaction came from Mara after the incident in the movie with the Chewlies Gum rep that tried to start an anti-cigarette riot in the store.
Mara: I feel like going out and having a cigarette.
The movie ended, we had leftovers for dinner, and began loading up my car with Con equipment, as Aaron and I needed to be at the hotel early the next morning with it, just in case the Home Depot people showed up (they gave us an 8 AM to 5 PM window). So Aaron and I loaded up the cars, while Mara prepared envelopes up stairs.
We were done by a quarter past midnight, so we decided to get some sleep.
Thursday, June 26th.
Aaron and I woke up early, and headed down to the city. We got to the hotel shortly before 8 and had my car parked. We then proceeded across the street to take care of getting cash we owed the hotel. Chase Manhattan took a look at us and well, let's just say it took a very, very long time and a couple calls to his local Chase in San Antonio for the withdrawl to go through.
I ended up making my way back to the hotel, where I was spotted by Mooncat and Princess Alexandra (Mooncat I had met at G2002, but this was my first time meeting Princess). Also ran into Leo, and Dreamie and Winterwolf. We waited, and Aaron came back to check Greg Weisman, Thom Adcox, and Vic Cook into their hotel rooms. And soon, Mara arrived with Alex and Greg Weisman. My mom was nice enough to pick Greg up at the LaGuardia.
Everyone arrived, and we checked into the Con Suite. Soon we got a call that Home Depot arrived with the wood and panels, so we went outside and brought them in. We brought them up to the 18th floor, to the Madison Suite, which was where we were keeping our Dealer's Room and Art Show. Met Sapphire there also (had previously met her at previous Gatherings, but never really got to know her till this year). Now, I'm useless when it comes to things like power tools, so were Alex and Leo, so we all stood back while the women did the work. Quite funny actually.
We took our lunch break at Sbarro's. Tasty and cheap. And met up with Kathy Pogge there. Food was good, and we came back
A good portion of the rest of the day, and con planning is kind of a blurr, but Lynati and Ethan eventually showed up, and I saw many con early arrivals (like Hudson (though he was staff) and his crew). Then Thom and Vic showed up. Thom recognized me, which was cool ;)
(Also at some point, we had a quick meeting in the Con Suite, and Greg W laughed at me for looking dazed already)
The staff, and the guests, and some of the early arrivals went to dinner down at the Monster Sushi. I had eaten there before with Aaron, Mara and Lynati about a year or so ago, and the place is still good. Too small unfortunatly, as the large group we were could not get a table together. So we divided up by three tables. At my table was Aaron, Mara, Lynati and Ethan. We talked about the con, how to eat sushi, Aaron played with his chop sticks, and we discussed Mayor Bloomberg and NYC's new smoking ban (which none of us agreed with), and I remember Ethan was really upset about it (I don't blame him, I am too). Aaron made a great comment in reference to "Clerks". "Bloomberg is a representative of Chewlie's Gum."
We got our food, ate, and eventually we made our way back to the hotel, to the Con Suite. Revel and Spacebabie showed up around this time. We stuffed enevelopes and watched the first half of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. But it was late, so we all went to get some sleep. Aaron, Lyn and Mara in the bedroom, while I took the "couch that turns into a couch".
Friday, June 27th.
Woke up early to turn the Con Suite over to Batya and the Dreamer Clan. Saw Stephen somewhere around here. Met up with Kathy and we arranged Sky Top for panels. Then went down and had a shift at the Registration Desk in the Lobby. Got to meet a lot of familiar faces, and new faces during that. Though I got sick of people coming up and asking where the bathroom was. It got so bad, we had to put up a sign saying "Gathering 2003. We are NOT Hotel Staff. We do NOT know where the bathroom is". Of course people kept asking anyway.
My shift over, I went to a panel I was supposed to sit on, and my brain was on overload. I barely said a word. And it wasn't till later I finally thought of something to talk about. Like Kathy said, staff members should not provide content. Then it was down to audition for the Radio Play. Being on staff, I knew it was "The Reckoning" several weeks in advance. I was hoping to be cast as Thailog, cause Thailog is just good, old fashioned, evil fun. ;) Though I would find out the next day I was cast as Hollywood, but I was just happy to be in it.
After that, I browsed through the art room. Walked around the hotel to make sure everything was running smoothly, and nothing was on fire. Popped in on Mara briefly during her Round Robin. Couldn't stay though.
Eventually got back to Skytop, where Kathy and I, with help from volunteers set the room up for Opening Ceremonies. Lined up the chairs, and had one table in the middle for the projector. Then Leo, someone else (was it you Winterwolf?) tried to set up the screen, but couldn't get the damn thing open. I think Hudson finally got it open. It was also around now that I met Lain for the first time. I've been friends with her since shortly after G2001, and it was nice to finally meet her in person.
Everyone arrived, all the guests arrived. And it was time for Opening Ceremonies to begin. Now, I have had this fear of public speaking all my life. So when I first went up, first thing I did was bring up G2004. WHile watching them, I figured that I should just get over it. Mara offered to go up and speak, but I went up again, and I thought I did so much better. Made a short speech, and introduced the guests and staff. Then I turned it over to Greg Weisman, who made the same Opening Ceremonies speech he's made ever since the cons first began, but never get old.
Afterwards came Hudson's rant, which I'd have loved to stay for, but I had to set up a TV and VCR, and tapes in the London Suite for Mara's MST. This year's victims; "Enter Macbeth", and "Vendettas". We were supposed to head right into Greg and Thom's Othercon: Blue "Mug-A-Guest", but as learned at G2001, the letters in "Gathering of the Gargoyles" can be rearranged to "Get Greg In Here", so we ended up MSTing "Turf" and the first act of "The Reckoning".
Finally, Greg and Thom arrived. By now everyone has heard the big revelation, but I'll say it anyway. Lex is gay. And it took less than twenty four hours for that tidbit to reach the comment rooms ;) Greg obviously didn't plan to say it, but Anna has a way of getting things out of people ;)
Lots of great and funny, and perverted questions were asked, I think we would have been there al night had Hotel Security not told us to vacate. I think I met Allaine and Ellen Stolfa for the first time around here also.
"I have a ten inch tongue."
Afterwards, Mara and I went to the COn Suite to get our bags, and settled in to the room Aaron got for the night. We were up for a couple more hours chatting with Hudson, Chris Rogers, Kythera and Cat. I was dozing off and really needed sleep, but I'm not one to be a party pooper. Besides, I really enjoy their company.
But we got to sleep.
Saturday, June 28th.
Got up early, and fetched sodas for Aaron and Mara before making our way to the sixth floor for a brief staff meeting.
Then went to a TGS panel, which consisted of little more than a former staff editor voicing complaints about another staffer. I didn't stay for the whole thing as I was pulled out by Goliath116 to let me know about a security issue. Which he and I made brief announcements about. I won't go into it here, but we ended up telling people not to leave the hotel unless they were in groups of four.
Went down and joined Mara for a shift at the Reg table. Sign was still up, and we still had people asking where the bathroom was. Spent a couple hours there, and then it was time for Radio Play rehearsal.
(somewhere before rehearsal, my aunt and uncle showed up, I gave them a brief tour, told them what the Gathering was. They couldn't stay long, but it was a pleasant surprise.)
Rehearsal went great. I was cast as Hollywood, and we went through Act One twice. Thom and Alex Garg (not to be confused with my brother) did this great Thailog and Sevarius Dr. Evil laughing scene. And speaking of Thom. He was great as Sevarius. Truly, truly hillarious. Thom really needs to get on to the internet, and visit the CRs.
Greg also made a funny joke about Batya and Alex Wittenberg. They were cast as Demona and Fang. And when Demona says "he's a fool but he may be of some use," and Fang says "I can work with that." Greg turns to them and says, "I bet that's what you said at the wedding." Which got a big laugh. No offense to both Batya and Alex, tyhey're great people, but that was just plain funny.
As soon as we finished Act 3, the hotel catering told us to clear out while they set up the banquet. Which caused me to spend the next several minutes arguing with them, cause the Radio Play was schedualed. but we soon cleared things up, and held the Radio Play. Which went over very well. Aside from grunts and roars, I only had one line, but it got a big laugh. I think Gore tried to one-up me, but never! I am master of the stupid voice! ;)
Afterwards it was time for the banquet. Nichelle Nichols arrived, and I have to say I was impressed. The woman looked and carried herself like a queen. And speaking of stunning looking women, Karine, Sapphire and Dreamie arrived and dressed to kill. Damn, did they look great.
We all took our seats, with at least one staff member minding each guest. I sat at Greg's table. Also there was Lexy, Revel, Spacebabie, AlexGarg... and I'm blanking out on the others. The food was great, I especially liked the rice and chicken. At some point I made this observation. "I kind of feel sorry for the people sitting with Nichelle. I mean look at her. They're all going to have to watch themselves and how they eat. Wheras Greg is probably almost as big a slob as the rest of us." To which Greg said; "Actually, I'm probably a bigger slob than the rest of you." We discussed quite a few things at the table. Revel kept a great conversation going. Lexy and I discussed Griffith from "Berserk" briefly. And we had a conversation on X2, and why Greg thinks Magneto's name is corny. I respectfully disagree though ;)
Dinner ended, and we set up for the Masquerade. Dreamie and I were running this. She MCed the event while I handled the behind the scenes organizing and the entries. The number of costumes dropped, but what we had was great. We had a great Lady Macbeth, two great Owens, Patrick and Karine as Anastasia and Fox, Revel as Vinnie, Spacebabie as Robyn Canmore, A Fan as "A Highly Educated Individual with a job straight out of college" (actually, A Fan wasn't going to enter, but I put him up to it), and of course Hudson and Kythera's show. I'm blanking out on everyone. Though I personally thought it was a shame that Aaron and Mara couldn't enter as Severus Snape and Herminone (I can't spell her name, sorry ;)).
Then came the Awards Ceremony, which ended with Siryn getting her much deserved Fan Guest of Honor award. She may not think so, but no one deserved that award more than she did. I hope she enjoys it.
After that was over, it was time for our showing of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", at first I wasn't going to attend, and went down to Chris Roger's room to watch anime. They were playing the Animatrix, which unfortunatly did not impress me, so I made my way back up to Rocky. There were problems with the DVD player (I swear that thing never gave me a problem before), but Anna and Jill were kind enough to... ahem, entertain everyone till this was sorted out. Then we had a great Rocky showing.
Afterwards I went to sleep in the con suite on "the couch that transforms into a couch".
Sunday, June 29th.
Woke up early, showered and dressed, and picked up sodas for Aaron and Mara. it was time for the auction, Aaron was in charge of the auction, and Cat resumed her role from last year of vibrating the auction items. And encouraging people to bid by removing an article of clothing as the bids increased. She was down to her bra and panties when "The Last" broke $750. Aaron, who never needs an excuse to show off his Demona tattoo manned the auction shirtless as well. And I think at some point Greg agreed to take off his shirt if anything broke $1,000. Which didn't happen.
The auction kind of died off when most of the big spenders went off to the "Team Atlantis" panel, but we resumed and sold off what we could after Closing Ceremonies.
Ah Closing Ceremonies. Always bittersweet. I introed my staff again, and let G2004 pitch their con as well. Thanked everyone for coming, then turned it over to Greg.
Then I went down to the Con Suite after Patrick set up his laptop there, so we could accept PayPal payments for auction items. While doing this, I corrupted Batya by showing her the first two episodes of "Clerks" ;)
Since the Dreamer Clan was bidding their farewell, I spent most of the day in the con suite, making sure it wasn't trashed and nothing was stolen. Helped clean up where ever I could, and eventually showed the remaining four "Clerks" episodes. Then we watched "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker", anime music vids, and later "Cowboy Bebop the Movie". Seth made a great comment here. "This movie is about SARS! Nano-SARS!"
After that was over, we watched anime music vids again, but I was exhausted and went to sleep.
Monday, June 30th.
Woke up, showered and dressed, and Patrick, Mara and I, (forget who else), cleared up the con suite before we had to check out. We relocated to Aaron and Mara's room for the rest of the day. And later, most of us took a trip down to Midtown Comics. The majority of the time we spent in the pr0n section. I believe it was Aaron, Goliath116, Cat, Revel, Spacebabie, Y2Kecate, and I. Revel and Spacebabie cut out early. But the rest of us, shared pr0n, and just looked at it for a long time. Some might say we're all a little too comfortable with each other.
Came back the hotel, but it was almost time for me to leave. Had the hotel staff bring my car around, while we transported all my crap and other stuff to the car. I said good bye to everyone and drove off. I ended up leaving my katana in Aaron's room, but that was okay, because I had to come back the next day to pick up Greg W and takin him to LaGuardia. but first I went to work to cash my paycheck, went home and ate dinner, and got myself directions from the Hotel to LaGuardia from mapquest.com.
Tuesday, July 1st.
Lesson of the day. NEVER, EVER, EVER Use MapQuest.com.
Started driving back into the city, and as I approached the hotel, something happened and my engine began to sound like a lawnmower. but figured I'd make it. Got my katana and said good bye to Aaron again. Said bye to Carol, and Greg and i got into my car. Some small talk, we discussed comics, and his time in NYC. He mentiond pcking up "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", and having liked it. He thought making Captain Nemo an Indian was interesting, cause he's never seen him played like that before, and it was a long time since either he or I had read the book (actually I checked the book recently and saw that Verne wrote Nemo as an Indian, the movies just made him a Brit.)
Then Murphy's Law kicked in. The direcions sucked and we were going in circles. We passed the Hotel Pennsylvania at least twice. They wouldn't let us get onto 34th St, where we needed to be to take the Midtown tunnel. A guy in a van smashed my mirror, got out, tossed $20 and left. Greg wrote down his license plate number though. The transmission in my car started going crazy up the yin-yang. We finally go to the tunnel, and missed the exit, drove all over Queens, trying to get back onto the highway. Almost ended up in Brooklyn. I'm panicing, and Greg is keeping a level head. But we got directions, and made it to the airport. Greg thankfully made his flight. He told me he's going to make fun of me in Ask Greg, but it's all in good fun. I look forward to seeing it. It was an adventure. And looking back, I can laugh about it, though I was a wreck for a couple days after it happened.
My car has been repaired, nothing bad happened, and it's running beautifully again. Figures, of all the times it goes crazy, it had to happen with Greg Weisman in my car. But we're cool. Everything's cool.
Hosting the Gathering was a real experience. It was hard difficult work, and I doubt I'll ever do it again. But everyone seems to have had a good time. And I thought it was time to give something back to the series in fandom that I love. So, I'd love to thank everyone on my staff. You all did great. Best staff I could ever ask for. So, Aaron, Mara, Lynati, Dreamie, Winterwolf, Carol, Kathy, Patrick, Hudson, Noel, JEB (you helped a lot), and Jen (I know you couldn't make it, but I still feel I couldn't have done it without you), all my best regards to each of you, and I hope to see you all in the near future. To all the Security (Kythera, Goliath116, Zaius, Duncan, etc), and volunteers, you did great. To everyone for coming, this fandom is truly awesome. And to my brother, Alex, you weren't on staff, but you broke your back for us. Thank you.
The weekend has become a big blurr, so I apologize if i forgot anyone or anything. But to everyone, you all Rule!
I hope everyone goes to Gathering 2004. Montreal has a great staff, and a great location. G2004 is going to kick ass! Give Karine, Sapphire, and the rest of the staff all the support in the world. Being on con staff is not easy. It's a very hard job. be thankful there are people dedicated enough to do this every year. It's a labor of love.
Ah, yes, Mr. Bishansky's Wild Ride. Everyone should try it.
Well, I don't have a website or a LiveJournal, so I was going to do something like this myself. (Sorry, long speech.) I got home around 8 Sunday night, just in time to tape the new Caesar TV-movie. This was . . . I think it's fair to say this was one of the best weekends I've had in a long time.
Traffic was a beast on Friday night. I left work in S. Jersey around 4:15 PM, thinking I might see part of the opening ceremonies, since MapQuest said it would be just a 2-hour, 100-mile drive up the NJ Turnpike. Hah! There was a lot of congestion, and I made it to the Lincoln Tunnel exit around 7. Then I crawled my way through hideous traffic for an hour until I got to the Tunnel. Within five minutes of leaving the Tunnel, I got lost and found myself on a road that led me inexorably, without exits, back to the Tunnel. A traffic cop led me to believe I would have to fight my way through at least half of the traffic jam I'd lived through the first time, and I basically screamed my way down the Tunnel. Fortunately, I took the Hoboken turnoff and had a much shorter path to the tolls ($6 again!). And this time, I found the hotel, even if I was overwhelmed by insane taxis and ruthless hordes of pedestrians, and forced to settle for parking at $32/day three blocks away.
Other than some early-morning problems waking up, that was probably the last bad thing that happened to me after I walked through the PA's doors at 10 PM exactly.
I made it in time to the 10 PM Fanfic Sex Panel and met three of the people I was most excited about - Mooncat, Ellen Stolfa, and Princess Alexandria - as well as some other cool names, including Stephen Sobotka and Lynati, who answered so many of my Gathering questions and had a big impact on my planning. Afterwards Mooncat took me to the room she was sharing with Alex (I'll call her Princess here, even though I usually call her Alex, so as not to confuse her with other Alexes) - and me. They'd been more than incredibly generous in offering me sleeping space, and since my original ideas for a place to sleep proved dreadfully unworkable, it proved to be a lifesaver. And of course, being able to have private conversations with two fellow femslash authors - *glee*. And MC had great presents, including the Poison Ivy/Harley Quinn T-Shirt that I wore most of Saturday and am totally in love with. Anyone who reads my stories would know it was me that day without having to look at my nametag ;). Then I listened in to the Mug-a-Guest panel for a while, just in time for the Lexington surprise. Then I spent a couple hours with MC and Princess talking, which was a blast, and I finally got to see Silver Falcon for the first time.
Saturday was the best day, partly because unlike Sunday, I didn't look at a clock obsessively. I had an 11 AM panel to sit on, so I met with my fellow panelists at 10, my first time with Dylan Blacquiere and Patrick Toman. The panel went great, the turnout was satisfactory considering the competition we had, and I felt extremely flattered sitting with Dylan, Patrick, and Ellen, talking to people who were interested in what I had to say. Then I finally got to register, where I met Mara for the first time (and she was very happy to see me - I hadnt realized she was a fan. But I love her MiSTs, so _I_ wasn't complaining). Later I wandered around the Art Room, attended the X-Over and Blue? panels, showed Liz and Constance my shirt, and then watched the Radio Play, which coincidentally was my favorite episode, Reckoning. Best part - Thom doing Sevarius and indulging in some Dr. Evil laughs with "Thailog" (Orion, I think?). Then came dinner with Princess, since I passed on the banquet, and we talked and went back to our room and watched "Broadway goes to Hollywood" (which I had not seen and, figures, was a disappointment even with Fox - when she tries to tackle Hyena and falls on her face, I wanted to vomit), "Sanctuary", and "Reckoning". The Masquerade was a classic - favorites were Spacebabie as Robyn, Revel as Vinnie (that was great), Seri Wavelength as Gruoch, and Patrick as . . . well, I'll let you wait for pictures Later I went out with MC, Princess, and Bizz, and then saw the Rocky Horror showing where - like I told Ellen, you just had to be there. Then more talking with MC, Alex, Ellen, Dylan, and Bizz, shower, curl into my Ivy shirt, and go to sleep. (I made MC purr *blush*)
On the last day, which had that frenetic, sad quality of not wanting the hours to pass, I visited the auction. I didn't get anything (being outbidded at the last second on a Demona comic), which didnt bother me because of MC's gifts, so I could just congratz those who did. The audiotape of the Demona/Atlantis episode was manna from heaven, since I was so upset by the cancellation when I first heard about it that I would just glare at the Atlantis video and walk past it. Now I feel like I can watch it. When little Garg refs came up, like Moliere's "AOTN" remark, everyone cheered. When Demona talked, no one said anything. I think we were all concentrating/memorizing too intently. And that slightly remodeled D drawing, *shivers*. Then came closing ceremonies, which were happy and sad at the same time, but it ended quickly, giving me enough time to say my goodbyes to everyone before the Coney Island group left. I had a disposable camera and took lots of pictures, and then I got my bags, and I left. I had to run back as I got to the garage because I forgot to give Princess something, and THEN I got to my car.
At the risk of sounding less than manly, it wasn't until I drove out of the garage that I cried.
This was my first Gathering ever, and I never really believed I would ever get to one, and I doubt I will get to the Montreal one, but maybe I can pull it off. It would depend partly on who else goes. Better than the gifts and the panels and the exhibits and the comedy was getting to meet all of you in person, and I have these great memories. Those of you who I got to know for the first time like Seri and A Fan, I will be reading your stories if you have any, and I would like to keep in touch, so my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and I'm also on YIM and sometimes AOL IM. Everyone else, I'll continue to see you on the Internet as well, but this was very special, and I would have stayed until Monday afternoon if my personal situation was different. Mooncat, I love you and your generous spirit; Princess, you too; Ellen, finally! You're such a pro (I feel like I'm graduating high school); Dylan, I am going to read the rest if it kills me; Pat and Kathy, you kept me involved long ago when it seemed like there was nobody else; Spacebabie, Lynati, Mara, Seri, Bizz, Liz, Stephen, thanks! What a weekend.
Extremely sincerely, Allaine
I'm so glad that your first Gathering experience was a good one. Here's to many more, I hope.
Mooncat's Gathering Journal
prequel... started packing a week before I would leave, so I wouldn't forget anything. Decided to try the clothes in plastic bags thing to maximize the room in my one very large piece of luggage. My very, very, VERY large piece of luggage. I'd forgotten from last Gathering that it would be better to have two smaller pieces than one large one, especially as the airline I was using this trip, American, had a weight limit of 50 pounds per bag, but allowed two bags. *vows to find two smaller bags for future traveling* Plastic bags work great, and I stuffed that luggage so full I had to let out it's extra zipper extensions that allowed more room. I even had room for the my Gift Bricks, for the fellow fans and friends I knew I'd meet at the Gathering. *^_^* I call them them Bricks, because they were probably part of the reason my bag felt like I'd filled it with bricks... sigh.
I packed for every occasion - casual clothes, dress clothes, night clothes, fancy shoes and belts jewlery (which sadly I never got to wear) lots and lots of under things (and I still wasn't able to find my socks half the time I was in NY), artwork for Othercon and art supplies (I actually thought I'd have a spare moment to draw a little... pure madness), books, presents, toiletries including several new toothbrushes "just in case", snacks, camera, extra hard drive for the lap top (which I was taking in my carryon) and my DVDs of Gargoyles that I'd recorded from Toon Disney. I even took Fluffy, my three headed cerebus dog to be room guardian. And Talcum Powder. A great lot of Talcum Powder. *evil grin*
Wednesday 25, day one of my journey...
I left on Wednesday because Princess and I had plans to see New York before and after the Gathering, and were planning on a week of fun all told. A good friend of mine gave me a lift to the airport. He'd given me a little bit of a fright because he'd arrived a half hour later than he'd said, because he'd over slept. But since it was still hours before my flight time and he lived less than five minutes from me driving I knew I could go drag him out of bed if necessary. I spent the extra half hour adding "just in case" items to my luggage and eating a food bar and downing a bottled water. Stuffed extra bottle of water in my carryon. It took us a while to figure out how to get the luggage in his car, as it was Too Big for the empty trunk, *@_@*, and we literally wrestled it into the back seat, with one pushing and the other pulling from the other side of the car seat.
The luggage, when weighed at the airport, came to 110 pounds. Luckily I'd packed an empty duffle bag at the last moment, and right there was able to stuff it with the loose clothes I'd stuffed in at last moment and got the luggage down to 94, which meant I *still* had to pay an extra $50 for surpassing the weight limit, but at least I could take all my stuff because only 100 pounds are allowed maximum. I squeaked by by the skin on my teeth and a few extra bills. yeek!!! Other interesting things is that I got to use the automated check in machine for the first time at the ticket counter. wheee!!! Of course, since I'd already waited a half hour in the "ticketed" line before I was informed people with e-tickets needed to use the machines, which had been EMPTY the entire time I'd been waiting in the other line, but then two huge familis showed up right after I was informed and I had to wait another 20 to 30 minutes for them to go through the machines first. *~_~* sighs...
After checking in my luggage, I took my two carry ons with me through security, and got patted all over. I was wearing jeans and my white LA Gathering T-shirt, which was suspicious because it was a bit loose and baggy on me. But otherwise I went through quickly and went to wait for my flight. I began reading Song of the Beast by Carol Berg
A fantastic, if dark edged read. Highly recommend it.
My flight, from Kansas to Dallas Fort Worth TX and from there to La Guardia in NY was very smooth and worry free. Arriving in DFW, my connecting flight was in the same gate area as the one we arrived in, so there was no muss and no fuss and I arrived at just a bit after 3pm NY time. I went to get my luggage which was made easier by my having spray painted the great beast with florescent yellow streaks so I'd recognize it. yay!!! Then I hoofed it over to the United baggage claim to wait for Princess whose flight from O'Hare was scheduled to arrive ony 50 minutes later than mine. Our plan was to share a cab to the hotel and cut our expenses. I was a little worried because we'd not actually set a specific meet point, not knowing the layout at LaGuardia, but I gambled that she'd come out that way and settled in.
I waited with bouncing eagerness, having noticed from the flights monitor (I love those) her arriving flight would actually be 20 minutes earlier than expected. Since I had No Idea what she looked like, other than about my height, blondish and would be wearing jeans, I checked each person who passed out of the United gate area with great curiosity and anticipation... and found out afterwards that because the flight had taken off earlier, Princess had been bumped to a flight that would arrive an hour later than her original one. Yeeks! Luckily I'd given her my cell phone number, and checked to hear the message she'd left me. She said she'd do a sweep of the baggage area to find me if I wanted to wait for her. Since I'd already waited one hour, waiting one more didn't seem a big deal. Plus... I forgot the name of the hotel. I remembered it was P something... And I'd forgotten to print out the hotel page. Actually the info was in the numerous print outs I had, but I didn't know that at the time. I figured Princess would know, so I didn't let it fash me any. I had a good book, and the only worrisome thing was the this guy in a suit who kept wanting to know if I needed a ride. I wasn't going to go off with a strange guy by myself, so I settled in to hook up with Princess.
Meanwhile, several drivers had their little signs out that had names of people they were waiting for. I took the extra time to make my own little sign, using the back of the print out with Princess's last e-mail to me, I used a pen to scrawl PRINCESS across the back and propped it onto my Big Luggage's handle. When she arrived, she made a beeline for me and it was like we'd been hanging out together for ages. She actually looked and spoke just like a lot of my friends at home, which is kinda scary, but in a good way.
Soon as she arrived, a grungy looking guy (jeans, t-shirt, etc) asked if we needed a cab. Thinking he was a cabbie, and since there were two of us to one of him, I said yes rather easily. As long as I have one person at my back, I can be pretty fearless. We did need a cab. He then informed us he had a Limo, and it would be more expensive but he was available right then and there, and though we both knew the warnings, it was just too convenient. A taxi would have cost mid 20s to 30 bucks, he gave us a flat rate of 55 dollars not including tip. That didn't sound half bad since Princess and I were doing halfsies. Now when he said LIMO I was actually thinking of a town car of some sort. I've seen many car services refer to themselves as limo services, but actually were driving regular cars. But no, he (I forget his name) meant an honest to goodness Glossy Black Stretch Limousine. I was so surprised. I think I made the *squee* noise.
He wrestled The Luggage into the back, along with our carryons and all in all a LOT of luggage. Princess and I got into the Limo, and sat opposite each other, grinning like cats in the cream. If only we had someone to take pictures! But my camera was in the luggage and we settled in to talk and take in the sites as the driver took us to the Hotel. I sat in the backward facing seats, and she in the normal facing seats, and we talked of things I don't really remember much of. *welcomes any input from Princess if she remembers* but it was exceedingly comfortable, and not at all like it was the first time we'd ever spent real life time with each other. The week in New York was off to a great start *^_^*
I was hungry. I think we talked about food part of the way to the hotel. All I'd had since leaving home was the beverages on the plane, and the bread and meat sandwich (no garnishes) you get on the longer, meal time flights, and that was some hours ago. We planned to go food hunting once we were all checked in and everything. Our drive took a long time, and we saw vehicles that were covered in graphetti as we went through the streets of New York. Apparently if a vehicle stays too long in the wrong place, it's fair game. This is something I'd never seen before, and it was rather startling.
We arrived in style, and the driver got our luggage onto the sidewalk outside the hotel easily, we paid him and looked over the outside of the hotel, hoping it was the right one. It didn't look very impressive, and I guess we came in at the side that confused so many people. I didn't dare go through the revolving doors with The Luggage. It's just that huge. But the side door was available and myself and Princess made it into the hotel proper. As we headed to the desk line, a gentlemen asked if we were checking in, and then directed us to a side alcove where he checked us in and gave us our room cards.
We were set!
To the elevators we went, and to our room... 1053. The hotel is very big. The rooms are VERY SMALL. I've been in bathrooms bigger than the room we had. It was just as wide as our beds were long, with about 3 feet of clearance to allow them to jam a TV armoire at the foot of one of the two beds. Apparently if more than one person wanted to watch tv, they'd have to all pile on the one bed to be able to see it. There was NO remote. Not a huge loss, because we didn't watch much TV the entire time we were in NY, except for the CNN that played in the Elevator monitors. It was going up and down the elevators we heard about the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the "anti sodomy" laws that certain states, including Kansas, use to get at anyone not using heterosexual missionary style sex when they do "it". The elevator also let us know that Katherine Hepburn, aka Kate the Great had died during the convention weekend. Ironically, Kate Mulgrew, voice actress for Anastacia Renard/Titania, is the star of "Tea at Five", a play about Hepburn's life's playing... Katherine Hepburn.
I knew this in advance, because Princess and I planned on taking in a Broadway show while in NY, so I had researched what was playing during the time we'd be there. We opted for Phantom of the Opera, which was wonderful, but I wondered if anyone had tried to get ahold of Kate Mulgrew for the Gathering? While in NY we also learned that Brent Spiner, aka PUCK was also in town to tread the boards in "Life (x) 3". Princess spotted his face staring at us from a huge Bill Board when we checked out Broadway street, which I give her high points for because he's older now and is really very different in appearance from his most recognizable role, Data of Star Trek the Next Generation.
Anyhoo... back to the hotel room. The teeny, tiny hotel room. The bathroom was scary. I'd never been to a hotel that charged prime rates (as this one did) where there was so much obvious wear and tear on the facilities. The ceiling above the ancient bath/shower was peeling and distressed, the tub had dark rust (I hope) stains, and the toilet had "ancient public toilet facility" simply written all over it. There flusher was something I'd only seen in very old public park toilets... when I was a very small child. It also took several flushes after use to give you a "clean" bowl. I looked at the bathroom and made "mew" noises in pure distress for a few moments. But aside from the primitive facilities, the cramped space, and the awkward placement of the very few pieces of furniture that had been shoe horned into the room, it would do to meet our most basic needs. We wouldn't be spending all that much time in the room anyway, except to sleep. With that comforting thought in mind, we dumped our luggage and took off in search of supper.
Princess and I decided to ask someone in the lobby if they knew a good place nearby to eat. I went to this desk in the lobby which was for tour and show info, but the lady was so rude she didn't even bother to hear my question, just said she was "closed" -- she was the only rude NY person I ran into the entire trip. However Princess had better luck with another hotel person, and we wound up walking down the street to a GREAT restaurant called Mustang Harry's (not to be confused with Mustang Sally's which is not so great) -- and had a really nice meal.
Princess had the Chicken Cordon Bleu, and I had an interesting house special, kind of a Beef Fajita but made with Teriyaki Beef and bean sprouts... a curious cross of Mexican and Asian food styles that was very delicious, managing to be totally American and Exotic at the same time. In the course of our stay in NY, we ate at Harry's quite a few times, having different things each go around, and I was quite happy each and every time. Nice waitress. Great buffalo wings. And the drinks were very good. Princess had a Melon Margarita, blended, and I got a little taste. I don't much care for Melon, but enjoyed the texture of the drink which was a finely ground slurry of the ice and drink. Very nice.
Found out that soda pop is paid for by the glass. This is something that held true for every restaurant we went to, from Midtown to Uptown, Greenwich Village or Little Italy, that there is no such thing as a free refill. Each glass of diet coke or what have you is $2.50 a go. Lemonade too. Don't know about tea or coffee. Otherwise food prices were very reasonable, and you could eat a nice sit down dinner restaurant meal with drinks for 15 to 20 dollars a person. Fast food prices were only slightly higher than those in Kansas, and every kind of fast food place was available within walking distance of the hotel. Blimpies, Sbarros, Burger King. Things get more pricey if you add in appetizers and desserts, but the portions of the entree were so generous, I don't know how people manage desserts afterwards, unless the only eat a fraction of their entree.
During the stay in New York, since we had no refrigerator or anything to keep our left overs in, I wound up wasting a shameful amount of food. Good food. I felt very badly about this, but without a way to keep it from spoiling, there really was no choice.
Having eaten, Princess and myself took a walk around the hotel. There was a slight humidity in the air, but it really wasn't hot and the evening was really very enjoyable. We walked in squares around the hotel, and noted the fast food places and tried to see what there was to see in the later evening. We found out that cross walk signals are generally ignored and people in NY are almost suicidal in how they cross whatever intersection they please at just about any time they think they can get away with it. We watched carefully and simply went with the flow. There really is a kind of reasoning behind how and when people in NY cross the streets, and it has to do with the streets mainly being one way, and keeping an eye on the traffic lights and how cars are parked and where construction has part of the street barricaded and so on... I was getting the hang of it to the point I was flinging myself into traffic and probably worrying my walking companions with some regularity. There is a heady, reckless joy to walking in NY. However someone told us that people do get hit quite often.
At one point, I don't remember when exactly, I was nailed by a bicyclist going the wrong way on a one way street when I was looking for traffic going the lawful way. I almost got hit again by a bicyclist another time too. Otherwise there wasn't any problems. When crossing the street, even with the white "walk" light, cabs and cars will constantly nose through the streaming mass of crossing humans as the vehicles make right turns. It must not be illegal in NY to do this, as the cars did this in front of police constantly.
Anyone who stops for a light if there is the slightest chance of making it to the other side in one piece is a tourist.
Trash piles up on the street curb in really disturbing amounts. Bags and bags of trash in heaps and pyramids, so much so I wondered if there was any trash service on NY. Fruit stands and ice cream trucks and hot dog vendors stake out every corner. We passed numerous tiny cubby hole 'grocery' stores, and magazine shops which seem to take the place of Quick Trips and 7 Elevens for small 24 hour grocery needs. These shops were scattered about and you could walk in any direction and stumble over one with in a few minutes. Very convenient, as we would later find out NY may be the city that never sleeps, but they don't eat after a certain hour. As many convention goers found out, there are no "real" food places that are open past 11, if even that late. Nothing equivalent to a Denny's or even a greasy spoon trucker joint where you can grab a hamburger or stack of pancakes in the witching hours. There are cold, over priced sandwiches in the hotel coffee shop, but that's about it. So be warned and wary, if you are looking for late night munchies of the cooked / hot variety, you are pretty much screwed unless you have kitchen facilities of some sort at your disposal.
In the course of our wandering we checked out a Drug Store, which was surprising large inside, more a small five and dime general store than a drug store, with two levels connected by an escalator. And an office supply shop. I was in desperate need of an exacto knife to prep my artwork for display in the Art Room and the OtherCon room, and hoped to be able to pick one up at one of the NY shops. While I'd bought with me several sheets of heavy weight metallic gold and silver poster board to mount my art on, I needed to make slits to put the corners of my art through to hold the pictures in place. I had thought to play it safe by not bringing anything blade like with me in my luggage, assuming that such a basic tool would be available in one of the NY office supply shops or other convenience stores. Uh uh. While the Drug Store had an extensive school supply section, an exacto knife was not part of it. Further searching through various office supply shops like STAPLES proved that in NY, you can't buy exacto knives in any of them, I was told that MAYBE I could find one in an art supply store. Since we couldn't find one of those while we were combing NY, that remains unknown.
I asked in some of the stores we went to and found out that many *used* to carry exacto knives, but no longer do so. I was also informed that they no longer carried staple guns. One person I asked had a very hostile tone, as if I'd asked for a disgustingly taboo item. This is probably a strange NY thing. Apparently knives are available for sale (I'm pretty sure I saw some pen/swiss army knives in Macy's, and I think I remember seeing some swords in a few gift shops (those katana and knife sets) but if you want certain basic art supplies, you are pretty much screwed. *grrrrss* I wound up simply clipping the metal clamps for holding the pictures for the art show directly onto my bare, unmatted and unframed pictures, because I couldn't work with the precision and force necessary with the razor blade BiZZ generously lent me on Friday (much thanks to BiZZ for trying to help me out though). When I went home after NY, I went to the local office shop and bought a brand new exacto knife, even though I had several in my art desk, simply because I could. I also loaded up on metallic ink markers (gold and silver) because that was another item that people couldn't find in NY, and apparently they had needed them at one point.
Aside from the exacto knife failure, our walk was very pleasant and we returned to the hotel in very good spirits. We further unpacked our bags, and I gave Princess her Gift Brick. It included a box of Godiva chocolates, which I made puppy eyes at during the rest of the week, in hopes that Princess would like to share *^_^* I also gave her some books I thought she'd find useful and entertaining, and a special something that I knew any Gargoyles fan would enjoy (its a secret). *^_^* Plus I'd run off a DVD set of the Birds of Prey tv series for her, as she indicated an interest of writing fic in that fandom. I tried to plug my lap top into the room tv, which I can do at home, so it would show what plays on the laptop... but for some reason it wouldn't work. We wound up watching the Pilot for Birds of Prey on just the laptop as we got our gear stowed away. The very cramped space was worrisome, as Allaine would be joining us on Friday and we didn't know exactly where to put him. Fortunately Allaine is a slender guy, and we made sleeping space for him on the far side of my bed, in the little space between the bed and the wall. *^_^* If he'd been a big bear of a man, it would have been unfortunate.
Princess soon learned that I am prone to fill up any empty space under my dominion with my stuff. She didn't think I'd be able to sleep since my bed was completely covered with things I'd unpacked. But since Allaine wasn't going to be there for the first two nights, I simply shoved everything that I'd unpacked onto my bed onto the floor. Afterwards I had to get... creative.
As the hour grew late, we talked and talked and talked some more... but since we wanted to get up early to do as much in the next day (Thursday) as possible, we finally tucked ourselves into bed and slept the sleep of happy travelers.
End Day One.
I definitely ran into the where-to-eat-late problem while I was there. I don't know if it was the neighborhood. Carol Wagner assures me that we could have found pancakes if we only knew where to look.
Gathering journal, New York City, 2003 (copied and pasted with minor edits)
The Gathering...well, my goodness. What a weekend. Here and there, I managed to steal just a few moments to myself in my room, listening to jazz on the CD player as I looked out the window over late-night Manhattan. Magnificent. Also, take it from this stay-at-home mom of a three-year-old: Being able to wear nice clothing and makeup for three days straight was a rare treat indeed.
And this was just the background stuff.
I'll readily admit that I didn't get nearly as much NYC-related activity accomplished as I had planned. For that matter, I got much less *eating and sleeping* accomplished than I had planned, mainly because I continually found myself in situations where, if I couldn't stop talking, I couldn't stop listening.
Upon my arrival, I sought food, because I knew I wouldn't take any time out to eat once I started wandering around the Gathering sites and meeting people. Upon the recommendation of one of the flight attendants on the way from Chicago, I hit the salad bar at Macy's for something quick and good, accompanied by Sarah the Great, with whom I began chatting in the elevator. I returned with her and went to the art room, where I ran into some rotten kid named Dylan Blacquière, and my writer's-retreat weekend was off to the races.
For me, the ability to talk out loud about the extent of my fascination with and affection for a cartoon series, of all things, was special enough, but the ability to do so with a cadre of talented writers, including Greg Weisman himself, was what made this weekend well worth its cost and more -- *so* much more.
It was partly because I was one time zone removed from mine, but the hours of the days got completely away from me. The time flew by as the little group of us sat around the table for the Othercon round robin, laughing and spinning tales and exercising the naughty-story-telling muscles in our brains. Then it was time for the "Erotica 101" panel with Princess and Mooncat (prefaced delightfully by a long-delayed face-to-face meeting with Allaine), which was every bit the erudite discussion I expected it to be. And I'm not being facetious; good smut writing is a surprisingly intellect-intensive endeavor. What this all meant, however, was that we were late getting into Greg and Thom's late-night (read: blue) panel. We arrived in plenty of time, however, for the revelation regarding Lexington's sexual orientation (I am among those who were not surprised by this tidbit).
More importantly in my view, this was only my second opportunity to hear Mr. Weisman talk first-hand about "Gargoyles" (the first being the opening ceremonies), and the first time I heard him speak in such depth about the series. No questions or responses of any kind came to my mind; I was simply content to listen to this bright, imaginative, personable individual talk for as long as he wanted, and, when he was finished, to wish he'd say more.
The character-development panel that I shared the following morning with Dylan, Allaine, and Patrick Toman was a sheer joy. What a pleasure it was to participate in the discussion and to listen not only to these outstandingly talented gentlemen but to the attendees as well, who helped in equal measure to make the session successful -- and to all of whom I send out a special thanks for being there.
I wanted to pick up something for my son while I was in Manhattan, so it was back to Macy's with me after the panel. As usual, the time got away from me, which meant that I was late for Dylan et al.'s crossover-universes panel. (Unfortunately, this also meant that I missed Greg's panel on animation writing altogether, which I regretted at the time and now, after subsequently having had an opportunity to talk writing with him, out-and-out breaks my heart in retrospect. However, going into the convention, I knew and accepted the fact that schedule conflicts came with the territory. Life goes on.)
Next on the docket was a thoroughly enjoyable chat with Kathy Pogge (and others who congregated in the hall) that grew out of her and Patrick's "Am I Blue?" Othercon writing exercise. The discussion group that formed out in the hall became one of the day's highlights; it's that kind of spontaneous give-and-take that makes an assembly of a diverse and intelligent group like this the treasure it is.
At this point it became abundantly clear to me that the only way I'd be at all functional that evening was to retreat to my room and get a little shut-eye. Naturally, I overslept, and was late getting to the banquet (which I had to leave early after just a light nosh because I was having dinner with a friend). I nonetheless had another pleasant discussion, this one with a girl named Sylvia and her mother (whose name I believe was Anne; forgive my poor memory).
I had to leave just as the Q&A was beginning. That was the downside. The upside was that I went from there down to the lobby to meet up with a childhood friend of mine who lives in Manhattan and works as an actress when she can, and for a caterer when she must. We hadn't seen each other in a while and had a great deal to get caught up on, but the first issue at hand, of course, was the reason I was in Manhattan to begin with. As we were walking over to the next block to get a taxi to Grand Central Station and its splendid old Oyster Bar restaurant, I pulled my convention badge out of my purse and showed it to her. "Welcome to my secret life," I began. It took me a good half hour simply to explain the plot of "Awakening" to her (and I'm sure that the people at the table next to us were thoroughly amused listening to me explaining a medieval/fantasy action/adventure soap opera as well). By the time I was finished, however, she was enthralled, and was determined to pick up a copy of the DVD as soon as it comes out next year.
As an aside, as we walked back out of the station building, I pointed up to the top of the Chrysler Building and explained to her how the silver falcons on the corners figured into the eponymous episode the rest of us know and love. She was duly impressed.
From there we went to one of Manhattan's best -- and best-kept -- secrets: a cozy gentlemen's-club-style bar in the meeting room of what used to be the downtown pied-à-terre of a wealthy businessman around the turn of the century, now restored as an elegant, dark, intimate cocktail lounge. I gave my pals at the Gathering all the details about it, but here in the online version of my Gathering journal, its name and location shall remain secret. (Watch for it to be written into at least one of my future stories, in equally anonymous fashion.) We listened to the jazz combo jamming over in the corner of the room and toasted the evening with -- what else? -- a lovely single-malt scotch. Then we figured we should call it a night, so that she could go home and get some sleep after an already hectic weekend for her, and so that I'd be able to squeeze in a little more conversation with my writer pals at the hotel. This is essentially what happened, except that my one-on-one conversation with Dylan was moved across the street to a late-night saloon. After this, more conversation with him and Mandolin back at the hotel outside the banquet room, and yet more conversation in MC and Princess's room, it was time to call it quits and get a few more hours of sleep.
On Sunday morning I was playing catch-up from the moment I woke up, but I did make it to the art room in time to bid on (and win) a couple of delightful pieces. Most importantly, though, I finally found an opportunity to introduce myself to Greg Weisman. He proceeded to regale me by discussing the mechanics of fiction writing with me for what I fear was a rather immodest amount of time. Next time I'd better take my wristwatch off and put it on the table in front of me; this is someone whose brain I could pick for hours if no one grabs me by the shoulder and shakes me back into the real world.
Following the inevitable and all-too-soon farewells after the closing ceremonies, there remained one last thing for me to do before I left New York. I boarded the E train, direction Brooklyn, and visited the World Trade Center site -- the epicenter of a number of changes in my life, including my involvement in the "Gargoyles" universe. Probably because I was simply numb at that point, I remained surprisingly calm while I surveyed the gaping hole in the ground, still littered with sizable piles of rubble and adorned starkly by a plain concrete monument featuring the famous salvaged broken girders forming a nearly perfectly symmetrical cross. When I finally turned away and headed back to the subway stop, I came away with feelings of closure and completeness -- and of things having come full circle.
Yet, along with this sense of closure I also came away from New York with a sense of having made a new beginning. This weekend's experience did much to reinforce my decision to focus on writing at this stage in my life (as much as I'm able to do so while focusing more immediately on such things as keeping my three-year-old healthy and happy and off the roof), and I have my fellow Gathering attendees to thank for this. To everyone on the Gathering staff, please know that I am aware that this glorious weekend was there for my enjoyment because of all the hard work you all put into this event, and I'm grateful. Sarah the Great, I enjoyed our conversation very much, and I'm delighted to have met you first off at the convention. Spacebabie, Aaron, Alex/Orion, Mara, Mandolin, Greg Bishansky, Sarah Berkeley, Lynati, Lain, Sylvia and Anne, Patrick, Kathy, Leo, Diamond Debbie, Chyna Rose, Stephen, and so many others who made me feel welcome and whose monikers I shamefully cannot recall at the moment, it was truly a pleasure. BiZZ, you're a great guy and a real trooper for coming all that way just for the weekend. Hope you're over the jet lag by now. Princess, you're a delight to chat with; I'm so glad I had this opportunity to meet you. I hope you and Mooncat had a great time during your extra days in the Big Apple. Speaking of whom, MC, you're a doll, pure and simple. I'm so lucky to have a writer pal like you, and shame on me for not saying that often enough. Allaine, there wasn't a crapload of snow on the ground this time around. How 'bout that? You're every bit as engaging as you sounded over the phone on that spectacularly loused-up weekend in Philly. Meeting you face-to-face was worth the wait. Dylan, my "nephew," I said it all in the banquet room by saying nothing. Words fail me -- and anyone who's seen the length of my stories knows that doesn't happen very often. You're a good kid, you'll go far, and I'm proud to say that I knew you when. And if you don't show up in Montreal, I'll go find you and kick your rump.
Finally, Greg, despite what you said to me Sunday morning, we're still not square. My column in the ledger is still showing an awful lot of red ink, and there's more and more of it with every story I write. The paltry phrase of "thank you" does a lousy job of covering it.
(With this, Ellen shuts down the computer for the night, turns out the light, and heads off to bed, still wondering how much she'd have to bribe Disney to get that production scene of downtown Manhattan at night framed over her fireplace in her living room...)
So... not to totally miss the point, but... have you confirmed that your friend, the actress/caterer, bought the DVD?
Hi Greg! Apparently you want Gathering journals? I'm warning you -- I'm long winded.
Friday: I packed the night before, but spent a huge chunk of the evening looking for my acrylic paints, which I did not find. Which meant I did not have time to dye my hair or do my legs, and it was getting late when I abandonned my search. I just finished packing and put the alarm clock to ring at 6AM. I got up after a snooze or two, and proceeded to dye my hair and take care of other things. I left for work with the 7:34 train, wearing a huge backpack, my portfolio, my bookbag and a tube containing the G2004 mascot poster.
I got to work before 8:30, and work. By 9:30 it was time for the monthly meeting, where our big boss proceeded to irritate the entire staff even more than we already were, so my conviction to quit was even further strengthened. No matter -- I just kept working, knowing I'd be off to NYC in a few hours time.
By 11 or so, I got a phone call from Adam asking me about stuff I left on the couch at home, asking if it was something I needed for the trip. I said no; however, I did forget my contact lenses but I can do without. Adam asked me how I plan to get to the airport, and I explained that I would go to the dollar store of the shopping center by the train station, and then I'd take a bus or taxi from there for the less than 5 minute trip to the airport. Adam offered to get me my contacts and be my lift for the errands, which I accepted gratefully. (Yay! I get to see him before I leave!)
At noon, I was out of the office and on my way. I was giddy then -- I couldn't wait to get to NY. Adam picked me up and I got the acrylic paints I needed, and made copies of the pre-registration forms for 2004. Then, Adam dropped me off at the airport. My passport is expired by one month but nobody seemed to mind. I breezed through customs and got to the gate in the new jetty they just built at the airport.
I was on the plane pretty much on time, and worked on a marker piece of Kanthara during the flight that was shorter than I expected. I got off the plane at LGA and went for the conveyer belt. The first piece of luggage to come down was mine. O_O So quickly, I went to the transportation desk, and got accosted by a man asking me where I'm going. I mentionned the hotel, and he said he was leaving in 5 minutes, gave me a price, then told me to just sit there. Surprised, I obliged. The price seemed reasonable, but I realized later that I was had. So I did not tip. It turned out to be a shared ride with two other people, and I thankfully got to the hotel before 6PM. When I walked into the lobby, I was greeted by Laurean and (her) Adam, and saw Kelly shortly after; we quickly went to our room which was tiny, leaving about 2 feet of space between the two double beds and the walls, maybe 3 feet at the front of the beds. A big commode with drawers was placed in front of the beds, but in the restricted space, if the drawers were opened, they touched the beds. It was THAT cramped. No way could we have fit 5 people in there! So in any case, I piled my stuff on top of other people's stuff, and got to work on my Kanthara picture to finish it. Then, we hurried out to Opening Ceremonies.
The G2004 staff was introduced as the opener to Opening Ceremonies. We all walked up on stage, and I stood behind the podium and started my pitch. "Who here has ever been to Montreal? What do you like about Montreal?" Someone at the back yelled out, "The Poutine!" After laughter and agreeing, I started talking about the Gathering being in Montreal, about the city, the hotel, the things to do in the city, and then I talked about the convention, the events, guests. I think I managed to make people drool with the banquet possibilities. People also responded positively to the prices, and the exchange rate, and the drinking age in Quebec (18!!!) and I think we managed to psyche people up for it. They loved the mascot, and after announcing the Name The Mascot contest, there was some joking around of calling him Rover or Fido or something like that. ;) Kelly addressed the English vs French issue with a really well chosen argument, that I'll retype here (loose quote): "When I went to Montreal, I expected to pick up some French while I was there. That didn't happen. As soon as people realized I was english, they switched over to English to speak to me." That seemed to reassure people, from what I could see.
When our pitch was done, we sat back down and the G2003 staff officially opened the festivities. Greg was next on the podium and told the good old stories we know and love and never get tired of hearing. There were also quite a few newbies in the group so that was great too.
After the Ceremonies, I went back to the room to get my artwork to post it in the art room, and realized on my way out that the room door did not lock. So I made a note to tell my roommates about it, but got distracted by the art posting thing and the lack of hooks. I still managed to get my art up decently. After that was done, a group of us slipped out to get some dinner, so we went to a nice sushi place close by. Let's see, there was Dreamie (Sara) and Winterwolf (Allan), Sapphire (Kelly), Karlyl (Trishana), Sara Berkeley (Liz), Cybernetic Nixie (Emilie) and Ganador, and myself. Nixie and Ganador sat at another table since we couldn't be 8 at ours. We had sushi, and sake, while Dreamie and Allan got some fried squid and noodles. Good food was had, pleasant times too. I informed the other girls with whom I share the room, Kelly, Liz and Emilie, of our predicament with the door, and they were shocked. We headed back to the hotel and verified that the door did indeed NOT lock, so Kelly went down to the lobby and made a complaint, and the guy she was talking to seemed clueless on how to help us. Kelly demanded another room, which we finally got. It did not have blankets or bedspreads, so housekeeping had to bring them to us. The misunderstanding that ensued had them bring only the blankets, and it took a half hour more to get the bedspreads. They were king sized, the beds were doubles. Lots of eye rolling ensued. No matter -- a blanket is a blanket, and we went to bed shortly after.
Saturday: We got up around 9AM, and went to get breakfast at the café inside the lobby of the hotel. On the way in, I noticed Patrick Toman, and I went to chat with him about pre-reg, and our cosplay skit. We compared schedules, and arranged our plans for the rest of the day. Then, I joined the girls inside to get breakfast. They don't toast bagels. :P It's called City Perk; I kept calling it Central Perk. Whatever. So once we are all equipped with coffee and food stuff, we climbed up to the 6th floor and went to the Paris room to give the drawing Q&A, only to find out that the Paris room was actually the Othercon Exhibition. So we talked to Greg B. about the room being locked, and he said he'll open the room for the class, but then we realized and reasonned that an art class open to all should not be in an 18 and over room, so the video room got given to us instead. As well as to the following events planned in the Paris room for the day.
By 11, Nikki, Liz and I were behind the table at the front of the room, and about 15 people were sitting there, waiting for us to start talking about our craft. Kyt wasn't there yet, and we figured that she was still sleeping, so we started without her. I took the lead and introduced the panel, forgetting to introduce us, but someone in the first row (never caught her name) asked us who we were, being new to the fandom. So we introduced ourselves and told people about what we did professionally, and I was a little sheepish about forgetting that -- the things you take for granted when you've done this art panel thing for 6 out of the 7 Gatherings :P Anyways, questions started coming in. I expected more art and drawing questions, but there were more questions about the process of art, and how you get started, and 3D animation. People were coming into the panel and sitting down, and we got more and more of an audience, which is a real boost for me. I was definitely talking a LOT. I hope I didn't step on any toes. Once I get started... But no one kicked me in the shins, and questions were adressed to everyone... I especially liked the question about preferred media, which we all answered one after the other. I think that's cool, because we like different things, so that shows to people that there is no Right or Wrong tool to draw nice pictures.
I was looking forward to seeing Matt, because I've known him online for the last three years and had not yet met him in person. And there are people that you meet online, and you get to know them by their words on a computer screen, and I can't explain why or how, but you end up becoming friends with them, and caring about them as much as if they were physically present friends. Of course, this impression can always be misleading, because I have met some online friends and found that in person, the friend was just not what they advertise online, or the spark you feel chatting with someone just isn't there when in person. So I was looking forward to finally meeting him, but at the same time afraid that we just wouldn't connect in person. So when he showed up at the panel, I recognised him immediately, waved at him to signal I'd recognized him and said hi happily. In that moment, that nervous smile and Hi he gave back, my fears were immediately tossed away.
Kyt showed up at the panel shortly after, and we continued replying to questions. I don't know how many times the lot of us said "Practice" as an answer to how to get good. Several times in a row, sometimes all at the same time. I mean, it's the obvious answer, but it can't be said enough.
This young woman was there with her very proud mother, and she told us about what she draws and such, not really asking a question, but still. And then she asked me if she could show me a picture she did. I was at a loss, but finally agreed, and she came over to show me. I looked at it, then showed it to everyone, and asked her if she wanted a crit (I think she didn't want one but was just wanting to show me her picture), she agreed, and so I gave her an honest, constructive crit that people around agreed with, and it started up a discussion on the anatomy of cloaked wings. All in all, it was turned into a teaching experience for all, and that was a good thing. (Yes, Matt, I'm considering applying for art or animation teaching jobs!)
So the panel was done a short while after. As people cleared out and Dreamie prepared for her costuming panel, I went over to Matt and greeted him with a hug. Matt knows how to hug, and it's a talent I find not many people have. Some people give half-hearted hugs, or stiffen and straighten back instead of leaning forward so you feel like you're hugging a metal rod. Matt gives good, warm, friendly hugs. :) After chatting a little, I asked him if he would join us, and we headed back to the art room to set up pre-registration for G2004. We took control of a desk and set up the mascot poster, and announced that pre-registration was open, and soon had people signing up for the next year's Gathering. Patrick Toman joined us, and we chatted, doodled, sold registration; Matt gave us his Knights of the Shroud ashcans in which he had done drawings for Sapph, Kyt and me. He made me a funny picture of Ellis and Neeve looking at me fencing and cracking a joke. Then, Matt showed his Malefic Malfoy comic on actual notecards (tiny!), and I told him how much the comic worked without the dialogue. We chatted more, drew more, sold more registration, and it was a lot of fun just sitting there and enjoying the company.
At 2, it was time to go to the cel making panel, so I went up to the room with Matt, Karlyl and Kyt, and got my supplies. We went back to the same room that was not Paris, and told the people there to sit around me as I plugged in the portable light desk into the wall. There was only a small group there, and really, making cels does not require much explanation, so I just gave the instructions on setup, mixed the paints and just started painting. Once in a while I'd give an explanation on something, but aside from that, I just painted. Other people stared, hypnotized, and some took out sketchbooks and drew at the same time. There was some chatting as well, so people weren't bored to tears by my just sitting there and painting. Once in a while I'd turn off the light and show the other side of the cell so the result was appreciated. I was almost finished with the cel when my time ran out, so I decided to finish the cell later when the paint was dry.
Kyt, Karlyl, Matt and I went to the room to drop off my cel stuff, but my card key didn't work, so we dropped off the cel stuff at the art show with the pre-reg people (Sapph was manning the station and got a LOT of pre-registrations -- she has convincing arguments, that one ;)). Then, the four of us went out to get food, and ended up at a place called Sbarro to have Pizza. I'm told this is a New York Pizza sin. I'm not a NewYorker. I don't know. I just enjoyed my pizza slice and my beer, and generally had a great time talking with Matt, Karlyl and Kyt. I can honestly say that this kind of thing is one of my favourite activities at the Gathering: hanging out with friends. We got to know Matt better, and it was just so much fun... and I'd like to point out that Matt has amazing blue eyes, and is quite handsome. I get the feeling he would deny this. ;)
When the Sbarro staff asked us if we wanted anything else, it was our cue to leave the restaurant. Kyt, Matt and I went back to my room, and we exchanged sketchbooks. And I sat there with Matt's sketchbook (I spied in it and looked at all his yummy pictures) trying to get an image down on the paper, but I felt I was just coming up with unsatisfying crap, so lots of erasing happened. I have to admit I was a little... intimidated? I felt that I had to draw something really nice for Matt because, well, he's such a great guy and such a great artist! He drew me a gorgeous picture of Roberta, with the pencil texture he put in the entire image, it's just amazing -- I'd even go so far as to say it's of frameable quality. It's that beautiful. Kyt also drew in my small book, but I ran out of time and didn't draw in hers :P so I'll just have to figure out a way to get to see her and draw for her in the not too distant future.
When the time to go to the banquet came along, Matt was going to leave, and I felt sad that he had to go. I didn't feel right about offering to pay for his banquet seat -- at some point, doing something like that can be considered an insult by some people, so I didn't know what to say, because I didn't want Matt to go yet. Then, Kelly decided that Matt was coming to the banquet. She didn't ask -- she just put her foot down and made that decision. That honestly impressed me. Kelly and Matt ran off to purchase a seat for him at the banquet (I offered to share the cost later on in the evening, which she accepted), and I finished getting ready. Kelly and I love to dress up fancy for the banquet, and it makes the event feel special when we do. Kelly had a sexy short sleveless dress, black, with vertical stripes that looked a little like tiger stripes. My outfit was the one I wore at my engagement party, a black pantsuit with spaghetti straps over the shoulders, and a sort of diaphanous black skirt around the body and down the back. Dreamie then showed up with that tiny black number, that made my motherly instincts go "Young lady, you're going to walk right back into you room and put on something decent!" because it was just THAT tiny. AAAAnyways, Kelly asked Matt to take a picture of the three of us, and we did the Charlie's Angels thing (I can't wait to see the pictures).
The banquet hall was... well, it wasn't very full. It was actually a bit disappointing to see all those empty tables. We did enjoy the food, which was buffet station style. There was a choice between roastbeef, chicken and salmon, with a side of carrots and veggies, and a choice between a ceasar salad or a house salad. The ceasar was already mixed with dressing and looked just nasty and soggy so I went for the other one. The deserts were a selection of pastries that looked just more yummy than the next, and from what I'm told, they were all very good. The coffee was also enjoyable. We chatted about the US president, about stuff I can't recall, and Shaun mentionned meeting David Wong in a convention a while back. The artist (and I use the term loosely) was asking about the Gathering, and made a griping comment about "why can't you people hold the Gathering in LA?" Oh sure, you want us to have OUR convention in YOUR area, hm? Before I continue ranting about David Wong, lemme just do the following exposition -- this man takes commissions from people at conventions and takes forever to draw the pictures. He screwed Kelly over, and she has a nice rant about him right here and has also used the image he made of Cindy's character Eden and sold prints of her, without Cindy's permission. So back to Shaun telling me about David Wong, who was asking about being a dealer at our convention, and the fact that he may see him at other conventions later: he wanted to know what to say to the artist when he ran into him at AX or ComicCon. My answer was simple: Tell him that we are not interested in dealing with him for our convention. Thanks, but no thanks. Shaun was smirking at that point, looking forward to relaying the message to the arrogant artist.
Nichelle Nichols, who played Elisa Maza's mother in Gargoyles and Uhura in Star Trek, was a guest this year (I missed the voice acting panels, but it was for a good cause ;)) and was asked questions at the banquet Q&A. She is a beautiful, beautiful woman. And her voice... it's just so smooth, and powerful... I love to listen to her talk. But, I also had to get ready for the masquerade, and Matt had to leave, so we all slipped out of the banquet hall and met up by the elevators.
I was sad that Matt was going -- his stay was too short! I was so happy to have finally met him in person, and to have spent a great day with him and friends, and I didn't want him to go, but I knew he had a train to catch. So I gave him a warm goodbye hug, and most everyone who was there did too... and then he had to go. :( Oh well, I'm sure we'll find an excuse to see each other again soon. ;)
Back in the room, I finished up the cel I'd done at the panel earlier in order to donate it to the auction, then started getting ready for the cosplay. Mara was kind enough to give me her blue eyeliner pencil so I could do my Fox makeup, and Patrick joined me shortly after with his own costume. Emilie was on the phone with a friend from the furry fandom. Patrick and I went into the bathroom to revise our lines, and I did his makeup; I did my own makeup and took the lifesize baby doll I'd brought as a prop, which during the course of the weekend had been dubbed "Spawn Of Xanatos".
We went upstairs and waited in line to make our entrance and do our cosplay skit. There were few costumed people this year, but what was there was pretty good. Kyt's Orcus costume was very cool -- kudos to hudson for the makeup job! Then, Patrick and I made our entrance -- me as Fox with baby Alex in my arms, and Patrick as Anastasia Renard, her mother(!). Our skit drew loud laughs, it was great! So much fun. After all the costumes were introduced, the guests withdrew to judge the contest. In the meantime, we didn't really know what to do. Dreamie tried to keep people interested by making the costumed people parade a little more, while some of us called out for music to get the party started and dance. well... that didn't happen. some music happened, but we didn't really get to dance. A little. Then the guests came back with the prizes, as well as the art show prizes, those were distributed (I'm just a bit miffed that staff got prizes -- I deliberately did not vote for staff members because I believed staff was not eligible for voting). So anyways, after the prizes were given, I expected the party to get going. You know, party? With, like, dancing and such? no?... err... well, eventually there was Rocky Horror Picture Show shown in that room and we were not interested. I wanted to go dance, dammit :P so Liz, Kelly and I went back to our room, got changed, did not take our purses but rather stuck the necessaries in our pockets, and the three of us walked out of the hotel, heading for a club we'd selected in a list the concierge showed us. It was a good, fun walk, where Liz and I sang Utena out loud, and we laughed and talked and generaly enjoyed our walk. We got to the China Rose club, barely waited in line, and got in; we passed security and got to the cash, where I asked how much the cover charge was.
25 frikkin' US dollars to get into a club for about an hour. While I was picking my jaw off the floor, Kelly leaned over to listen to the music, and asked, "Is this the type of music you play all evening?" The girl at the cash nodded, said "yes, pretty much". The three of us looked at each other and left.
We looked for another club to go to on the way back, but didn't find anythuing. I mentionned to Liz and Kelly that I'd rather find a place to go have a drink in rather than go back to the hotel and not have done anything. They both agreed, and we found a place a couple of blocks past the hotel. I ordered for all of us, calling a Melonball for Kelly, an Amaretto & Orange Juice for Liz and a Kamikaze for myself. We enjoyed our drinks and chatted for about an hour. We then went back to the hotel, and instead of going to bed because we had to get up early for Dim Sum the next morning, we stayed up with Nixie and drew in each other's sketchbook until 4AM and then some.
At some point we decided it was beyond time to go to bed, and checking the alarm clock again, I slipped under the covers and zonked out.
Sunday: We reluctantly left our beds at 8:39 (one snooze) knowing that people would be waiting for us in the lobby at 9:15 to go for Dim Sum. We got down there and were soon a full team: Kelly, Liz, Alan, Dreamie, Emilie, Patrick and me (was there anyone else? It's been a week, I think that's the gang). The lot of us went to take the subway, which surprised me because I expected the Dim Sum place to be within walking distance of the hotel. Then we waited for the train. And waited. And waited. We started getting worried because we had to be back in time to open pre-reg at the same time as the dealers room, at 11:00. The train finally showed up just when I was about to change my mind about going to Dim Sum.
When we got to Canal Street, we walked in search of the Dim Sum place Alan knew about. Kelly and I were a little on the panic side, thinking about our deadline and all, and we finally just found a place, any place that served the chinese breakfast. We scarfed down a selection of steamed delicacies, had very nice Jasmine tea, then Kelly, Dreamie and I grabbed a cab to get back to the hotel. We got there at 10 to, only to find that the room had already been opened by god knows who, when opening time was clearly stated as 11:00 AM.
I went to the room to get the money and raffle tickets, and *slaps forehead* I have to email the winner back, note to self! Anyways, Kelly and I sat down and continued taking pre-registration. Later on, Kelly went to Liz's computer colouring pannel, that I would have loved to attend, but duty called ;) I stayed at the pre-reg desk for the rest of the time before closing ceremonies. I drew a picture for Shaun, which Shaun decided to have printed at the back of his Staff t-shirt, which made us decide that we should all have such a shirt. Then I drew a commission for Brooklyn Magus. I was regularly asking if the cel I made the previous day had been auctionned off yet, because I wanted to know what it would go for. The auction was dragging on unbearingly long, so at one point the scheduled Atlantis Q&A got most people out of the auction, so that slowed the auction down even more, and they decided to report the rest of it to after Closing ceremonies.
I zipped off to the room to pack before Closing ceremonies started, so I missed most of the raffle draw. I got there just as they were getting to the prize of my art, and Liz's art, and the G04 Staff had relocated there, still taking pre-reg. I joined them, doodled something for Emilie while Karlyl and her were sharing my sketchbook, and kept looking at my watch to know how much time I had left before I had to leave.
Rob arrived, and insisted we take a picture together to prove we had actually seen each other in NYC. ;) A short short chat later, I had to hurry out, hugged my friends, waving big goodbyes, missing them already. I walked out of the hotel, and right there in front was a shuttle that was headed to the airport. I asked them if they had room for me, the driver cnsidered this for a second and said, "sure, get in".Woot, cheap, easy ride back.
I chatted with some of the people in the shuttle, then started doodling a picture of the G04 staff. I got to the airport 2 hours before takeoff, as I'd been advised, and found myself at the gate 5 minutes later. Finding this ridiculous, I turned around and went to have a late lunch/early dinner and a beer at the sportsbar before the security check, chatted with a couple of other Montrealers who were also waiting for their flight out while sipping beer and snacking on chicken wings, and continued working on the picture.
Flight home was uneventful. After the plane landed, however, there proved to be problems in attaching the bridge to the plane, so they had to back up the plane so we could descend by the plane stairs. Adam picked me up at the airport, all congested and sniffling, and we drove home.
It's all sort of like a mosaic. As various people fill in the events they were present for, you begin to get a full picture...
Gathering 2003 Journal
Friday, June 27
My day started at 4:00 am, so I could be at the Cleveland airport in time for my 7:30 am flight to New York - LaGuardia. After checking in and walking all the way to my gate at the far end of the terminal, I found out that the plane scheduled to fly us on to New York was the redeye from Los Angeles, and it was running 45 minutes late. This wasn't a big deal, I decided, considering that last year Jen Anderson and I had endured a delay of over three hours on our way to the Gathering in Virginia. And it gave me enough time to hike back to the main concourse to grab a breakfast sandwich from Burger King.
Boarding time ended up being right around 8:15 am. This was the first flight of the morning to New York, but the plane was barely half full so I had the entire row to myself. Being able to sprawl across three coach seats is pretty nice, even on a short flight. I used the hour on the plane to practice my lines for the cosplay skit that Karine and I were doing on Saturday night (more on that later). I was hoping to see New York City from the air as we approached, but I discovered I was sitting on the wrong side of the plane. Instead, I saw New Jersey (yippee). The landing was fun, though. Landing at LaGuardia airport is the closest you can come to landing on an aircraft carrier without joining the Navy. The plane comes in very low, and you can't see anything but water until about five seconds before touchdown. Then, once the wheels are on the ground, the pilot jams on the brakes as hard as he possible can because the runways aren't really long enough. Having made this same trip twice before for G97 and G98, I was ready for this little roller coaster ride, but it was interesting to watch the reactions of the passengers who had never experienced a landing like this before. They were easy to spot, as they were the ones who kept a white-knuckled death grip on the armrest and muttered under their breath about the pilot until we had parked at the gate.
Now fully awake and running on the coffee I had consumed on the plane, I hurried down to baggage claim, grabbed my luggage, and headed straight to the Ground Transportation desk to join the queue for the Super Shuttle. Less than half an hour later, I was in the van with seven other people, starting the long slow crawl into Manhattan. Traffic back-ups due to accidents and road construction made the 15 mile trip from the airport to the hotel take a little over an hour… almost as long as the 450 mile flight. The shuttle driver was determined, though, to get us to our destinations, even if it meant cutting off taxis right and left and driving up onto the sidewalk to squeeze past a road repair crew.
I wasn't sure at first that I had arrived at the hotel. Instead of the main entrance on Seventh Avenue, I was dropped off at the side entrance on 34th Street, so my first impression of the Hotel Pennsylvania was "this is it?" That changed about minute later, though, once I had managed to drag my luggage through the revolving door and walked down the hallway into the main lobby. The lobby was HUGE… bigger, even, than the Sheraton Universal's at Gathering 2001. Or maybe it just seemed that way because the ceiling was so high. At any rate… it was BIG. So I went to get in the line for the registration desk, before it could get any longer. I spotted a couple of people I knew while I was waiting, but I'm not sure they saw me. I also noticed the coffee shop just off the lobby, which was called "City Perk" and made me think of "Friends" until I realized the shop in that show was "Central Perk."
Finally, I got up to the desk and was able to check in, which surprised me because it was only 11:00 am and the normal check in time was 3:00 pm. They warned me, though, that the room might not be cleaned up yet. After checking in, I spotted a few of the G2003 staff coming down to set up registration, so I went over and grabbed my con badge. Then I headed off in search of a place to dump my bags, and on the way to the elevators I ran into Kellie Fay and Stephen Sobotka. A few quick hellos, then it was up to the ninth floor to find my room. The maid's cart was still in the hall, and a quick peek inside confirmed that it was still a mess from the previous guest, so I dragged my stuff back to the elevators and headed up one more floor to find the con suite.
In the con suite, I found Mara, Kathy, Batya and her husband Alex, and a bunch of other people who's names escape me now because of how hectic everything was with people coming and going and moving boxes and crawling over each other. In the back room, though, I finally found a spot to drop off my bags until my room was ready. A moment later, I was given my first little assignment of the weekend, when I was handed a power strip and a pair of scissors and told to go down to the lobby and give the people working registration a demo of how the label machine worked. This I did, then I headed back upstairs to scope out the convention rooms. On the way back up, I ran into Thom Adcox, who actually recognized me before I spotted him. I also caught my first glimpse of Greg Weisman… or at least the back of his head for a few seconds while the elevator made a stop.
Eventually, I ended up back at the con suite in search of water and a quick snack, and I sat and listened for a bit while Guandalug talked about lost luggage and the fanfic archive. After a while, though, I realized I needed more than snack food to keep me going, so I headed downstairs in search of lunch. There was a Roy Rogers on the same block as the hotel, so I grabbed a combo meal to go and came back to the hotel, where I somehow ended up in the Othercon room, where I met BiZZ and ArtGolem. Mara, Mooncat, and Princess Alexandria were there, as well, and we all sat for a while and had a nice little chat about naughty things. BiZZ also gifted me with a print of his Dominique picture. Those who have seen it will know… those who haven't… sorry, but this is a PG rated journal.
At 2:30 pm, it was time for the Voice Actor's Q&A, so I headed over to the London room where Thom was just finishing up his Mug a Guest. No one who was already there was getting up to leave, so I had to find a seat way in the back. Greg arrived a few minutes later, and while he and Thom waited for a few more people to find their way in, Kathy came in to talk to them about a few things related to events going on later that day (I'm guessing). She knelt down between their chairs and was talking in a low voice when Thom, totally out of the blue, stops nodding along and yells out "What? You're PREGNANT?" At which point, of course, everyone in the room just died laughing. Sorry, Kathy… it probably wasn't too funny from where you were standing… but it made my afternoon to see that Thom was getting off to an early start with the evil pranks.
Now there one thing about the way that London and Paris rooms were set up that I hadn't really considered on my way into the room that I quickly came to hate. It was flat-out impossible to come in late or leave early without causing a distraction because the only door into each room was right next to the table where the presenters were sitting. Had I realized this initially, I would've looked for a seat closer to the front, so as not to become the center of attention when the time came to sneak out and see if my room was finally ready. So Greg, if you read this… it wasn't that I was bored or wanted to be rude when I got up and left. Heaven knows I never get tired of hearing you and Thom talk.
So I headed back upstairs, and since my room was finally ready I retrieved my bags from the con suite and officially moved in for the weekend. The room had a mini-fridge, a nice TV (which I never even turned on until Tuesday morning), and in stark contrast to the hotel rooms at G97 and G98, the bathroom was large enough to turn around in. As I wondered how much longer I had until the History, Myths and Legends panel, though, I realized the room had no clock. Maybe the previous guest decided to keep a souvenir, because an alarm clock is a pretty standard hotel room amenity. So I put in a call to housekeeping to bring me a clock, and then I headed back out to see more of the con.
The rest of the afternoon flew by pretty quickly. I attended the History, Myths and Legends panel co-hosted by Kathy, Batya, Greg Bishansky, and Lynati. Then I helped rearrange the room for Opening Ceremonies and hooked up with the G2004 staff to work out the gameplan for the weekend and distribute raffle tickets. Opening Ceremonies went pretty smoothly. Karine and Sapphire spoke to get people psyched up about The Gathering 2004 in Montreal, and Greg Weisman read letters from Brigitte Bako and Greg Guler, who had conflicting commitments and weren't able to attend this year. Then Greg showed the tapes that those of us who have been to every Gathering so far (like me) have nearly memorized by now: the Gargoyles pitch, the Gargoyles promo, the Dark Ages and New Olympians pitches, and the Bad Guys tape.
After Opening Ceremonies, I joined Greg, Vic Cook, Kathy, Carol and Mandi for dinner at a restaurant called America. It was a long walk to get there (the first of many to come), but the food was great and the desserts were even better. A friend of Greg's from college joined us at the restaurant, and Carol managed to leave the hotel after the rest of us but make it there first by taking the subway. Heading back to the hotel afterwards, Greg was worried he'd be late for the Blue Mug-a-Guest, so he started jogging. This lead many of the rest of us to start jogging, too, providing for those of a psychological bent what I'm sure must be an interesting example of pack mentality (I guess that makes Greg the alpha, too).
So maybe it was the jogging, or maybe it was the fact that there was about 60 people crammed into the London Room… but it was just stifling hot during the Blue Mug-a-Guest. It started at 11:00 pm and lasted until past 1:30 am, when one of the hotel security guys stuck his head in the room and asked, "Are you still supposed to be in here?" Only it was in that tone that means "What the hell are all of you still doing in here?" The biggest revelation of the evening was when Greg confirmed that Lexington was gay and had the series continued he would have found a way to work it in. I don't recall much else in detail after about midnight, though, because by that time I was fading pretty fast. So while others headed to the con suite to continue the discussion, I decided to call it a night headed off to my room.
I took a quick shower and crawled into bed, noticing only then that I still did not have a clock in the room. Since I knew that the pitiful beeping of my travel clock would never wake me in time for my Saturday morning writer's panel now that I had been up for nearly 22 hours straight, I called the front desk to request a wake-up call. I also asked them to remind housekeeping to bring an alarm clock to my room. I wasn't anticipating speedy service at this point, so it was kind of surprising when 15 minutes later, just as I was about to enter the twilight zone, someone from housekeeping knocked at my door to deliver a clock. Happy, I plugged it in, set the alarm for 9:30 am, and settled in for seven solid hours of unconsciousness.
Saturday, June 28
My first full day in NYC started at a much more leisurely hour of 10:00 am, when I met up with Dylan, Ellen, and Allaine downstairs at City Perk to have a quick breakfast and discuss the fanfic panel were hosting that morning. Having only "known" everyone up until then from only e-mail, the fanfic archive, and the GargoylesX board, it was really nice to get a chance to sit down and chat and put voices and faces to the names.
Karine spotted me and stopped by our table for a moment to plan a time during the day to get together and rehearse our skit, and then all of us were off to our first panels of the day. Dylan, Ellen, Allaine and I hotest the "Showstoppers and Scene Stealers: Creating Memorable Characters" panel, which got a pretty good attendance considering it was in the dreaded first timeslot of the morning. Some of the people even seemed to be mostly awake… or at least as awake as the four of us were.
After that, I dashed up to the Art / Dealer's Room where I was supposed to rendezvous with Karine, but with all the noise and the constant flow of people, our earlier plan to rehearse our skit never really materialized. Instead, we collected registrations for Gathering 2004 and I took a moment to check out the display of development art that Disney had loaned for the weekend. It was all really cool stuff, and included a lot of character model sheets and background art, such as panoramic skylines of Manhattan and the eagle's eye view of Astroland at Coney Island from "The Reckoning." On one of the model sheets, I made a mental note of the early spelling of a certain geneticist's name as "Servarius" and filed it away as something to ask Greg about later.
Up next on my agenda was Greg Weisman and Vic Cook's seminar on "Writing for Animation and Series Development," mostly because I wanted to see the surprise presentation of the new project Greg, Vic, and Greg Guler were working on. I'm not sure if it's okay to mention specifics since they're still trying to sell it, so I'll just say that it looked like a really interesting concept, and I hope we'll see it on TV eventually.
Next, it was back downstairs again to host the "Am I Blue?" panel with Kathy, which seemed to go fairly well. We did a writing exercise near the end, but time was running out so we didn't get a chance to see if anyone wanted to read aloud what they had written.
The Radio Play was coming up next and I was supposed to video record it. So to save some time (or so I thought), while everyone was writing I excused myself and ran back to my room on the 9th floor to fetch my camcorder, then came back down to the London Room on the 6th floor. At ten minutes to five, we wrapped up the panel and I booked it back up to the ballroom on the 18th floor, figuring I'd only have a few minutes to get set up before the Radio Play began. Instead, I arrived to find the ballroom door locked, and stood there confused for a few minutes while Greg Bishsanky argued with the guy from hotel catering, who was saying he'd already cleared everything with Aaron and they needed 45 minutes to set the room up for dinner.
Whatever the miscommunication had been, though, it all worked out in the end. After about a half hour, they were able to let us back into the room to hold the Radio Play, although instead of the audience sitting in rows of chairs, they all had to sit at the tables. I set the camera up off to the side, where I could get the whole Radio Play cast into the shot at once. After that, I really didn't have to do much more than let the camera run… though it annoyed me that the hotel wait staff kept walking into the shot while setting out the water and the salt and pepper shakers.
This year's Radio Play was a performance of "The Reckoning" from the second season of Gargoyles. Greg talked a bit first about Gary Sperling, one of the writers on that episode of the show (as well as a number of others), who had just passed away recently from lung cancer, leaving behind a wife and two children. The convention staff had asked Liz to make a card for Gary's family, and it was out in the hall so that everyone could sign it later.
Then the Radio Play got underway. The funniest moment was when Seth, playing Claw, the mute tiger Mutate, stood up to say… nothing, and then sat back down. I also heard later that during rehearsal, Greg Weisman had some fun with Batya and Alex Wittenburg during their exchange of Demona and Fang's lines, "He's a fool, but he may be of some use." / "I can work with that." Reportedly, Greg zinged them with "I bet that's what you said at the wedding." Also of note this year… Thom Adcox's over the top performance as Anton Sevarius. Can you say "superfluous maniacal laughter" boys and girls? I knew you could.
Next up was the Banquet. A few people went to change and came back dressed up in nicer clothes, but I had only brought one change of clothes that were not jeans and a t-shirt, and I was saving those for Henry V in the park on Monday night. Nichelle Nichols arrived just as they had begun letting people back into the room. She passed within five feet of me, which makes that the closest I've ever been to a real live "Star Trek" celebrity. For the dinner itself, I ended up at a table with Karine, Sapphire, Dreamie, Winterwolf, Noel, BrooklynX, and a few others. The food was pretty good, but the desserts were excellent, especially the key lime pie. There was also an interesting conversation at our table about the foibles of the U.S. President and the Canadian Prime Minister. Then the Q&A started, with most of the questions going to Nichelle (surprise). After about fifteen minutes, though, Karine and I decided to duck out because we needed to get ready for the Masquerade.
I ran back to my room, grabbed my stuff, then went to Karine's room to change. Her roommate was there, talking on the phone the whole time as we got ready. I'd never met her before, but strangely enough she was completely unfazed when I stepped out of the bathroom wearing a dress. Karine did the makeup to transform us into Anastasia Renard and Fox Xanatos, and we attempted a quick run through of our cosplay skit. I kept stumbling over my lines, which started to freak me out because I'd been practicing them over and over again in my head the entire day. In the end, we decided just to do our best and improvise if we had to. I put my wig on, Karine grabbed the life-size doll she had dubbed "Spawn of Xanatos" that was playing baby Alexander, and we headed back to the ballroom to see if we were really running as late as the clock said we were.
After freaking out a woman on the 7th floor who came running after us thinking Karine was dangling a real live baby by the arm, we arrived back on the 18th to find the line was still forming and we still had time to run through our skit one more time before it was time to go in. We were placed near the end of the line, so unfortunately we didn't get to see what all the people who went before us did. I could hear lots of cheers and laughing, though, when Kythera went in dressed in her Orcus costume, dragged on a chain by Hudson.
Finally, it was our turn… and I guess our little "mother / daughter" skit went over quite well. People laughed and applauded… and in the end we won first place for cosplay. Greg told me just to stay up there, though, after we accepted our prize (bags of Peanut M&Ms) because I had also won the Gorelisa Memorial award again, which was presented this year by Gorebash himself. That's three times now I've won that one since its inception at G98. At the risk of becoming completely predictable, though, I think next year I'm going to have to change things up and dress as a male character. And that's not just because I think Greg's getting sick of seeing me in drag… or because a little later that evening I got hit on by a very nice guy wearing a rainbow bandana.
Getting the dance portion of the Masquerade Ball going didn't seem to be happening this year, so once Karine and I had claimed the free shirts that were our door prizes for attending the dinner, we headed back to her room to get out of costume. After all the makeup was off, I headed back to my room, changed, then returned to the ballroom to collect my camcorder. As I was packing my stuff up, Greg invited me to come along with him, Thom, Lanny, Kathy, and Carol to Greenwich Village. So after dumping my stuff back in my room, I hustled down to the lobby to meet up with them and off we went.
Thom and Lanny led the way. We took the subway (man does it get hot in those underground stations), then we spent some time walking around. The number of people on the sidewalk at Lexington Avenue was just ridiculous… so I can only imagine what it was going to be like the next morning for the Gay Pride parade. Greg showed us an apartment building he used to live in, and tried to point out his old window from the ground. While staring up into the darkness at the brick wall, I had a nice little Gathering flashback to the Jamestown ghost tour last year in Virginia… where we had all spent a good ten minutes starting at a brick wall in the dark looking for a cannonball lodged there from the Revolutionary War.
From the moment we came up from the subway, we had decided we were hungry (even though we had all eaten at the banquet a few hours before) so we went looking for food. We ended up at the Caliente Cab Company, a Mexican food place. We were all carded before the bouncer / maitre d' allowed us in. Except for Kathy. She had left her I.D. back at the hotel, so she was interrogated for a few minutes instead, until the guy was convinced she was as old as she said she was (we wouldn't have left you out there on the sidewalk, Kathy, honest). Once we got inside, though, we didn't even have drinks… so in essence we were carded for nachos and guacamole. The music was so loud in this place, it was hard to have much in the way of group conversation, but one thing I can clearly recall was a discussion of what "The Price is Right" was doing on the big screen TV at half past midnight. We finally decided it must have been a west coast feed.
After our second dinner, we walked the twenty blocks or so back to the hotel. And I'm pretty sure I called it a night once we got back, because I don't remember anything else except going to bed and waking up on Sunday morning.
Sunday, June 29
Gathering Day III: The Search for Dim Sum. I woke up early to join Karine, Dreamie, Winterwolf, and Sapphire (someone else was there, too, and I'm blanking now on who it was) for breakfast. I knew we were going for dim sum. I didn't know we'd be going all the way to Chinatown. It was another trip on the subway, lots of walking, some really fast eating, and then a frantic race to get back to the hotel by 11:00 am. Half the group went on ahead in a cab so they'd be back in time, and the rest of us took the subway back. On the walk back to the hotel, we spotted a pet store and stopped to spend a few minutes watching the birdies. Even so, we still made it back to the hotel in time for me to get back up to the 18th floor just as the auction was starting.
I'd just walked into the room when Greg spotted me and gave me an assignment. He asked if I could find out if the subway line we were taking to Coney Island later that evening ran near the World Trade Center memorial. So back to my room I went to boot up my laptop for the first time that weekend. I'd saved the PDF's of the subway maps and schedule to my hard drive… which turned out to be a good thing since I wasn't able to get a dial-up connection going. I didn't figure out until later that in NYC you have to dial "1" and the area code before every number, as if you're calling long distance.
Eventually, I determined that yes, that subway line did run near the WTC site, so I went back and relayed the information to Greg. Then I sat and watched the auction for a little while. A couple of times I was tempted to bid on things, except I only had about $75 in cash left on me by that point and I knew I had a big car repair bill waiting for me when I got home. So once that storyboard got up over $300, I got up and wandered over to the Art / Dealer's Room where I ended up purchasing cast photos of Keith David / Salli Richardson and Jonathan Frakes / Marina Sirtis. I also took one more look at the Art Show and bought lovely illustration of Angela in flight that was done by Karine.
For Closing Ceremonies, the G2004 group moved everything into the ballroom so we could continue taking pre-registrations. I ran downstairs to the ATM so I could get my pre-registration in, too, and then at closing ceremonies we had Greg draw the winning raffle tickets for the free memberships and banquet admission we gave away. I made a quick announcement at the end about where to meet up for Coney Island, and immediately after that I was shanghaied by G2003 staff to go up to the con suite and try to get Paypal working on the laptop I had loaned them. I'd forgotten how slow Windows 98 boots up… and how annoying AOL was. At last, though, one of the NYC natives clued me in on the dialing "1" first thing, so we were able to get an AOL connection. I stayed until just before 5:00 pm, and then it was time to head out for Coney Island.
I had printed up maps and directions for everyone ahead of time because I wasn't sure if everyone would stick together or not. What ended up happening, though, was Greg somehow morphed into everyone's dad, and it was like a big field trip. Greg took a head count every time we got on or off the subway. There were 27 of us.
We stopped first at the World Trade Center site. The map I had gotten hold of made it look like the subway station was a block or two away, so I wasn't quite prepared to come up the stairs and suddenly be right there, just twenty feet from the fence and the temporary memorial. I can't quite describe the feeling that came over me as I stared at that big hole in the ground. The closest I can come is likening it to the same sort of feeling I had many years ago when walking along the length of the Vietnam Memorial wall in Washington D.C., only multiplied many times over. It was just a very solemn sense of unquiet… so much so that it became hard to imagine that any time in the near future people would want to come back to work or shop at this same site.
I'm not sure how long we lingered there, but eventually the last few people found their way back to the group and we headed back down to the subway to continue our trek to Coney Island. The rest of the subway ride was pretty uneventful, and somehow despite the crowds we managed to keep the group together until we'd found the boardwalk entrance to Astroland. At that point, Greg proposed a plan that we all meet back up at 10:00 pm to see who wanted to stay and who wanted to go, and we split off into smaller groups. I tagged along with Greg and Kathy, and we meandered our way back through the crowd and back down the street to the original Nathan's restaurant. I got a hotdog, but made the mistake of ordering the "large" soda, which turned out to be nearly big enough to swim laps in.
A few minutes after we'd sat down in the courtyard area, we spotted Seth and Wingless and called them over to join us. We sat and ate and talked about the Gathering and ideas for G2004. Then we headed back to Astroland, where Greg, Seth, Kathy, and I rode the Cyclone. I got quite a rush out of it… but then I've always enjoyed a good roller coaster. Astroland itself, though, wasn't quite what I had expected. When I think of amusement parks, I picture the ones run by Six Flags and Disney, but Astroland was more like a carnival. It was crowded as hell, and they even charged a quarter to use the restroom. The only other thing I ended up riding was the observation tower thing where it takes you up and lets you see the area. After that, the five of us got away from the crowds and went for a walk down the boardwalk, which gave a nice opportunity to unwind from the busy weekend.
At 10:00 pm, we met back up with the rest of the gang as planned, and a pretty much unanimous decision was made to head back. So Greg took over as scoutmaster again, and we filed back to the subway station. While we waited for the train, we took a few group photos… so hopefully the people whose cameras were used will post them. The train ride back took a lot longer than the ride out, because the train kept coming to a dead stop for no apparent reason. Once we were back at the 34th Street station, Greg made his last headcount and then everyone was on his or her own for the last block back to the hotel. A bunch of us stuck with Greg, though, and began a futile search for pancakes at midnight in Manhattan. Unlike the rest of America, though, there aren't any Denny's or IHOP's in New York City… so our quest for late night munchies was nearly denied until we found the food court was still open in the lower level of Penn Station. Somehow it was decided the next best thing to pancakes was donuts, but we were cruelly denied again by Dunkin' Donuts not having anything left. So instead, we found an ice cream place and got waffle cones.
Melting ice cream in hand, we headed back to the hotel and a few of us made plans to meet back up in the con suite a short while later. I made a stop at my room, then headed down and found Kathy already there. The room was pretty full, and it was hot in there, too. People were watching Cowboy Beebop, so I sat down for a few minutes and checked it out. I think Kathy and I were both mostly waiting for Greg to arrive, but after a while it didn't seem like he was going to show up. She had just left and I was just getting ready to go when he stuck his head in the door. Most of the people who were still awake were fixated on the animé, though, so we both decided to call it a night.
Monday, June 30
The convention was over, but I still had one more full day left to spend in NYC. I started my morning by running downstairs to City Perk for a bagel and a bottle of Snapple, and I ran into Kathy and exchanged good-byes in case we didn't see each other again that day before she left for home (and we didn't). After my little breakfast, I stopped by the con suite to see if anyone was still alive, and collected the laptop and some items I had loaned them with the plan of boxing them up and shipping them back to myself. No one had any packing tape, though, so I scampered across the street to Penn Station and picked some up from the Staples right at the bottom of the escalators. Since they offered UPS shipping, I decided I'd just bring the package back there rather than walk two blocks to the post office, and back I went to the hotel.
Back in the 10th floor con suite again, Mara stopped by briefly and appointed me "keeper of the room keys" and recruited me to help with cleaning up and moving all the convention staff's remaining stuff up to her room on the 11th floor. Greg Bishansky, Cat and I managed to clean up all the leftover food that was literally everywhere in about half an hour, filling three huge trash bags. Tip for the con suite next year: plastic drop cloths. Or get a room that can be hosed down at the end. Sorry, guys… I love this fandom, really I do, but do we really have to make such a mess when we eat snack foods? Anyway… we got everything that was trash thrown away and everything else picked up and moved up to Mara's room by noon check-out time… which I'm sure made the hotel happy.
After that, I went back to my room to finish packing up that box, and found a message on the voice mail that Princess Alexandria had just left a few minutes earlier. She and Mooncat were looking for me, to see if I wanted to go do some sightseeing with BiZZ and the two of them. I did, so I called them back to see where they were, and hurried down to their room to discuss the plan. Online, we'd discussed checking out the "Museum of Sex" that was supposed to be just a few blocks away, but Mooncat had tried to call them and found their phone was disconnected. Deciding that wasn't a good sign, we instead settled on going to see Times Square and then just going from there. I got them to give me 20 minutes to go ship my package, then ran back to my room, back to Staples to do that, and returned to meet them in the lobby.
We walked up to Times Square, where we took some photos and explored a few of the souvenir shops and one big toy store that had life-size Lego models of Harry Potter and Hagrid in the window. Then we decided to walk up to Central Park and look for Belvedere Castle, the place where Elisa and Demona fought in "High Noon." It was a pretty good trek, but you could almost feel the air temperature drop once you went into the park. We followed the road that curved up through the east edge of the park, stopping three or four times to ask various park employees for directions, until eventually we came upon the back side of Belvedere Castle. I made sure to point out the "claw marks" in the stone, since I'd been there before on the walking tour that Batya had led after Gathering '97. Disappointingly, though, the Castle wasn't open, so we couldn't go inside and up top as I'd done then.
It was getting to mid-afternoon by that point, so we decided to start heading back. We exited on the Central Park West side, and found the subway line that took us right back to within a block of the hotel. Since we'd all skipped lunch, we then went looking for food. I got a corned beef Ruben sandwich that ended up being so big, half of it went back to the hotel with me to become a meal for Tuesday morning before I left for the airport. Mooncat insisted on treating everyone, too… so thanks, Mooncat. After we ate, we still had about a half hour left to hang out in Mooncat and Princess Alexandria's room before BiZZ had to leave for the airport. Mooncat gifted me with a really cool Demona / Dominique t-shirt and a print of her Elisa pic that had been inspired by the Madame Destine fic "Mistress of Dreams." Then it was time for BiZZ to be on his way, and time for me to go get ready for my second trip of the day to Central Park.
There was a big group for dinner, but it was just Greg, Carol, and I for "Henry V" at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It was sort of a race to get there by 7:30. We took the subway, then Greg flagged down a cab which took us across the park, and then we jumped out and jogged the rest of the way, which got us there just a few minutes before they started letting people file in. It turned out to be a really nice evening for outdoor theater, and the performance was very well done. The part of King Henry V was played by Liev Schreiber, who seemed familiar to me even though I still can quite place where I've seen him before. The one cast member I did recognize, though, was Bronson Pinchot, who played the part of Pistol, and did so sort as if he was playing Vinnie Barbarino playing Pistol. The play was performed using Shakespeare's original dialog, but with modern costuming and scenery. Overall, it was a very interesting staging.
After the play, Greg, Carol and I went off on another walk through another of Greg's old neighborhoods. It was a really nice area now, but he kept giving examples of how it had been a pretty scary area twenty years ago when he'd lived there. Finally, we headed back to the subway and returned to the hotel, where we ended up just sitting around in Greg's room for a while, eating peanut M&Ms and watching TV until Greg decided we should call it a night.
Tuesday, July 1
My last day in NYC was pretty much a nothing day. I slept until about 10:00 am, then got up and ran downstairs for a Snapple. Mooncat and Princess Alexandria spotted me, so I stopped to say good-bye since I'd be leaving soon. On my way back to my room, I stopped by Mara's room to say more good-byes and pick up the art she'd done for me that she'd been telling me all weekend to remind her to give to me before I left. Then I went back to my room, ate my leftover Ruben sandwich, and finished packing. I checked out around 11:00 am, then headed out front to catch a cab to LaGuardia. The trip back to the airport took maybe a half hour at most, so I was left with lots of time to nap before my 2:30 pm flight. The trip back to Cleveland was uneventful, and I was home in time for dinner.
And thus ended another Gathering adventure. Coming home at the end is always a little bittersweet, but I know I'll see many of my friends again next year in Montreal at The Gathering 2004. At least, I'd better see you all there! ;)
Oh... that's right. The pregnancy joke. How could I have forgotten...
I have such fond memories of that whole weekend. By the way, I wasn't blowing you guys off at the con suite on Sunday night. I was off on a quest with Mandolin to find a pharamacy. It took us much longer than we thought.
I also had a great time Monday night. We went to P.J. Clark's as I recall before the play.
Awakening to the sound of my alarm clock, I left home at about 10:30 and got to Union Station at 11:00 for a 12:05 train. Bored, I went window shopping for about 10 minutes before I got really bored, after which point I began to read the book that I brought for the train ride, Rogue Nation - an objective look at the development of American unilateralism and the origins of the divisions between the United States and the rest of the world (I highly recommend it). However, I ended up spending the ride talking about the state of Medicare, veterans' benefits, and Bush's chances of reelection with someone I met in the terminal. Needless to say, but that was the best train ride I have ever taken.
I got to Penn Station at about 3:50, a good 20 minutes late, and found my way to the hotel (I say "found" because I went out the wrong exit and had to circle the block to get to the hotel). Once I got there I checked in and immediately asked where I could find the accounting office - I wanted to once and for all finish the dispute between myself and the hotel regarding the $124.52 they stupidly took from me. After I went up to the 18th floor, where I was directed, and could not find the right office, or any office for that matter, I called the office.
They said that they would be happy to discuss the matter when I arrived at the hotel, and when I told them I had already arrived and was ready to talk when they were, there was a good pause over the phone, I was put on hold, and was told that the money was transferred to my account on Wednesday, and it was unlikely that the money would make it through the central bank and into my account before Monday (and it actually didn't show up until Tuesday), and so I found myself in the position of not eating for the duration of this my second Gathering.
That night I made it out of the hotel and to the Empire State Building, where I went up to the observation deck and had a very nice view. I tried the Skyride in the building, and while I was waiting a couple got it in their minds that I was a native New Yorker - I had to tell them otherwise; while I usually consider myself an actor with range, I can't pretend to be a New Yorker. The Skyride was none-too-impressive, but okay.
I got back to the hotel about 11:30 and went to bed.
I got a wake-up call about 5:00 so I could head down to Times Square in order to promote the Gathering on "Good Morning America." Unfortunately two things weren't working in my favor - 1) the line was huge, even though I got there at 6:00, and 2) I learned later that they were filming in some park or another, so standing in Times Square would have been worthless.
I went back to the hotel and back to bed. I woke up in time to go to registration, and after that went with a group to a Kosher (sorta) Deli, where I met "A Fan," who ended up being my roommate for the remainder of the Gathering.
I hurried back to the hotel where I attended the Thom Adcox mug-a-guest. Now, I had heard from other Gathering reports that Thom sounded exactly like Lex; but I thought that they meant "really close." So when Thom spoke, I was a little surprised. For the rest of the Gathering, every time I spoke with Thom I had to try not to superimpose an image of Lex.
I stuck around after that for the voice acting panel with both Thom and Greg, and after that auditioned for the Radio Play. Now last year I auditioned and got nothing, so I wasn't expecting to get a part - if anything.
After the auditions I set out to find Thom the Franciscan chapel I had seen on my earlier expedition into New York (Thom had said during his mug-a-guest session that he wanted a tattoo of St. Francis or something related, and if I could be the guy who found the chapel that Thom went to to get inspiration for a new tattoo to show off at the next Gathering, my contribution to the fandom would be complete - so I took the mission to be greatly important, even though I was never officially assigned to it). Unfortunately, as I grabbed my camera for the trip, I slammed my fingers in my closet door and had to cancel the trip in order to run to Penn Station and get bandages for my fingers. They remain sore as I write this.
I got back in time for the opening ceremonies where we learned the location of the next Gathering, saw Greg's videos (for many of us… again), and so on. From there I went to the games of skill and endurance, but because nobody could find any jalapenos, the event was cancelled, so I waited around for the blue mug-a-guest.
I personally wasn't too surprised by the revealing of Lex's sexual preference. The only memorable moment for me was when Greg "answered" my question about gargoyle ejaculate and sunrise. Now, I had expected one of three typical Greg responses - A) "Yes, I'll answer that." B) "I haven't really thought about that," or "Let me BS that." C) "I don't care (such was his answer to my question about gargoyles being circumcised - I really hadn't meant to ask so many penis-related questions, the other question being about who of the clan was 'packing the most heat [Goliath - could have been Brooklyn if the beak rumors were true, which is why I asked],' but oh well)," or "no, I won't answer that." Instead, after the laughter subsided and Greg got his head out of his hands he said, "You're just creepy." Now later he would qualify that to me by claiming that he meant to say that the question was creepy, but I definitely heard, "You're just creepy." To be called "creepy" by Greg is like a badge of honor.
[Section excluded - could be construed as submitting an original idea].
After our session was broken up at almost 2 AM, I went to bed.
I wasn't going to be deterred from my mission of finding Thom his Franciscan chapel, fingers wounded or not. I got up early and, because I had no clue where I had seen the place, I tried to retrace my steps from Thursday's sightseeing. I went from the hotel to Times Square to the Chrysler Building and back to the hotel twice, and unsuccessful both times. As I walked by the hotel, about to begin my trek all over again, I decided to start the trek over by going up 31st Street instead of 33rd, and lo-and-behold there was the chapel, no more than four minutes from the hotel. Having wasted 56 minutes chasing my tail, I went back to the hotel moderately embarrassed.
I found Thom and told him of my success and where he could find the chapel, and from that point on I will consider any tattoo he gets of or related to St. Francis a direct result of my efforts; and you can't take from me those things which I tell myself - truths, half-truths or total lies - they're all mine!
After that I went to the panel hosted by Dylan, Allaine, Ellen and Patrick. It was good for me to be a part of the discussion as I got to hear from four accomplished writers that the techniques I've employed so far in my writing seem to be similar to those that they have used. BTW - if any of you are tracking the events I attended throughout the Gathering, don't worry if you think you're seeing a strange pattern; I did end up spending pretty much all of my time in the London Suite.
In following that pattern, I attended Kathy's workshop, which was also great to attend. Although it's unlikely that I will anytime soon complete the work that I started in the workshop, I'll keep it in my list of projects.
After that panel I checked to see the list of those who were cast in the Radio Play, and there I was on the list. The downside was that I was going to miss the OtherCon panel on writing adult themes (not that I ever intend to write such themes, but it would have been good to sit in on anyway). So I headed to auditions and expected to get one of the clones (I had figured out from the audition sheet that we were doing "The Reckoning"), but I got Thailog. I was very, very excited. When I rehearsed my maniacal laugh, Thom kept coming in, and after rehearsals he insisted on joining in with me during the play, saying that it's what Sevarius would really do, and I wasn't about to stop Thom.
The play itself was good - I personally thought that I did marginally well (after I did my roar I lost my voice, and before that something had come up in my throat which threw off my voice) - but overall I had a lot of fun participating.
From there was the banquet, and I found myself sitting at Greg's table. The conversation was, well, scattered and not as lively as it could have been, but overall it was a good table to be at (I can't remember everybody I was sitting with… Revel and Spacebabie were there… I think).
The masquerade ball was fantastic - some great costumes there, Vinnie and the Owens standing out in my mind. I had expected more of a ball near the end, but I guess everybody just wanted to do their own thing at that point.
I skipped on the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and opted to join my illegal roommate A Fan in watching episodes of Gargoyles. We did that until about 1:30, after which point I went to bed.
I checked out at precisely 11:49:42 AM and had enough money left to make final bids on artwork (and won both bids). I stopped by the auction for a while, mostly to get Greg and Vic to sign my Radio Play script (Thom had signed it earlier).
I went down to the Atlantis Q&A long enough to hear the audio tape Greg played last year - the jokes and Gargoyles puns in it were no less humorous than the first time I had heard them. I headed over to Penn Station at about 1:40, and with my unreserved train ticket was able to get a spot on the 2:05 train headed back to DC - and it was almost 30 minutes late.
The train ride down was not nearly as good as the ride up. I was completely flanked by screaming or otherwise mischievous toddlers and children, and the PA system in my car was broken, letting out a piercing noise from the leg between New York to Newark. I got to read a little bit of my book, but the screaming coming from the kids made it impossible to concentrate.
The train pulled in to Washington at about 7:30 - a good two and a half hours later than scheduled, and my ride didn't show up for another 15 minutes after that. I arrived home at about 8:00 just in time to catch a Simpsons repeat and thus concluded my journey.
Sounds pretty good. One thing I will say about the creepy thing is that it makes you memorable...
My Gathering reports tend to be very detailed, in the sense that I take notes on what's been said in the seminars/panels. As it stands, the total for G2003 is 5452 words. What follows here is a slightly abridged version.
Day 1: Friday 6/27/03
It was a hot and muggy Friday afternoon when Sean (NoBrandHero) and I left my Bronx apartment to take the bus and 2 train down to Penn Station. Having mugged Victor Cook before, and been to enough cons that we felt we didn't need to mug Thom or Greg, we decided that the first 'must-see' event of the day would be the voice acting seminar at 2:30, so we took our time.
We had scoped out the hotel a few months prior when we were in the neighborhood, and had been a little worried, not having spotted any big convention rooms on the first floor. It turns out all the big suite rooms are on the upper levels, so during the convention we would constantly be going back and forth between the 6th, 10th and 18th floors.
Anyways, the registration desk was easy to find. I was embarrassed that Greg Bishansky recognized me before I did him (he just doesn't look the same without a trench coat). We flashed our badges to the elevator guard and decided to first check out the con suite. When we got there, they had huge bags of food, but no videos running, so we left soon after to go to the Voice Acting workshop. We got lost for a short while before finally finding the London Suite. We opened the door and were surprised to see that Thom was still talking with his Mug-a-Guest group. Unlike the groups from '01, Thom was speaking before a room of people instead of a small group seated at a table. We snuck in and caught the tail end of the discussion (something about Thom voicing an Irish rabbit). Sadly, we missed him flashing his new tattoo. When Greg Weisman walked in, there was some playful banter about whose Mug-a-Guest had been better, and then we all settled down to listen.
Greg passed out scripts from three different scenes in Gargoyles for fans to have a go at. I would have liked to volunteer, but as luck would have it, I'd been suffering from bad allergies all week long on my trip abroad, and was only just recovering. I would occasionally break into fits of coughing and had practically no voice. A girl volunteered, and Greg asked for her name. She told him "Jill", quickly adding--with only the smallest bit of hesitation--"but my online name is Leopard". At that moment, I was struck by how odd all us fans must seem to a normal person. Of course, Greg took it all in stride, having grown accustomed to this sort of thing over the years. I can only imagine how scary it must have been for him at the first convention!
After the workshop were the Radio Play tryouts. I was debating whether or not to bother, with my croaky voice, so I put off the decision until later and went to the "History, Myths and Legends" panel, which this time around was hosted by Greg B., Lynati, Batya and Kathy. Most of them looked exhausted, being on the con staff and having worked hard to make everything run smoothly. Every now and then, Kathy would lose track of what she was saying and stare at her water bottle and go, "ooo, shiny!"
The topic can be summed up as: "how not to repeat what everyone else has written about and still make it interesting". The examples they used were mostly fairy tales, and we enjoyed making comparisons between the original stories and the way they've been altered over time.
Afterwards, we saw that there were still people grouped around the door for the auditions. Despite my protests that I had no voice, Seth (IRC Goliath) and Lanny finally convinced me (at least this time I could blame my voice for not getting selected. I'd tried in '99 and '01 and didn't get picked). I'd read Hudson and Angela for the audition those times, so I picked Goliath this time (because he had the fewest lines). Greg and Thom told me to project more (as usual), and I somehow managed to almost sound normal. After I went, only a few others were left, and then the group filed out en masse to the opening ceremonies. I hovered around Greg for a moment, then lost my nerve and used the excuse to grab the pitcher off his desk and refill my water bottle. I find Greg nice and all, but also somewhat unnerving. You never know what he's thinking. He smiles when he's talking to a large audience, but when he's sitting there alone at a table, his eyes begin to narrow dangerously, like he's just waiting for some foolish fan to dare interrupt his musings and ask him a question.
Then again, maybe his eyes look that way because he's tired. Or maybe I'm just paranoid.
The Ceremonies began in the usual way, with introductions and the 'how many here have been to this many cons' poll. Then the 2004 group came up, promoting the next con (and doing a pretty good job of it. Kanthara made a lengthy description of their classy yet affordable menu, which I'm sure was only intended to promote their con, yet to me, also sounded like a jab at this year's banquet (which was sort of mean, considering we hadn't even tasted this year's banquet yet. Well, I wouldn't taste it anyway since I didn't sign up, but still...). Their mascot is a blue and white Bronx-like gargoyle beast (Quebec's colors), and the con is slated to run from August 6th-8th. They mentioned the usual pre-registration discount and some new package deals, as well as a raffle with prizes like a free banquet and registration.
Then Greg repeated his original Gargoyles pitch (which most con-goers are familiar with by now), plus his videos. He reminded us that Disney still appreciates the cons (pointing out that they lent to us a beautiful spread of production art this year). Afterwards, Sean and I followed Seth, Wingless and Gorebash back to their room and hung out for a while before we finally decided on getting pizza down the street. After much picture taking and mosquito swatting and nebulous discussions about webpage design, we decided to check out the OtherCon Mug-a-Guest. Thom was as shameless as ever, and the questions drifted to the expected topics. I kept falling asleep--not because it was boring, but because I was still on European time and was incredibly jetlagged. Lanny and Sean had fun poking me awake every five minutes. One big revelation: as some people have suspected, Greg plans for Lexington to be homosexual, but he hasn't yet figured out how it will be introduced. This explains why in "Turf", he gave up so easily on chasing Angela. His mate will not be someone we know from the show.
We finally left around 1:30 AM, and from what I hear, everyone was thrown out of the room soon after. After a long subway ride through the Bronx, we were home by 2:30 and quickly fell asleep.
Day 2: Saturday 6/28/03
I'm a little grateful I auditioned for the Radio Play the day before, as I didn't need to feel guilty over missing the morning auditions on Saturday. Unfortunately, sleeping in did mean that I would miss the TGS premiere of Season 4 Pendragon (which I had been looking forward to, but told myself the premiere would make it out on the web soon enough). The first panel we made it to, therefore, was the two o'clock "Writing for Animation and Series Development" workshop.
Greg and Vic headed the session. Paul Lacy was supposed to show up, but never did (it seemed from the schedule that he was only going to be at the con for this one seminar, which I thought was a little bizarre, but I guess might explain why he didn't bother coming. Greg did not look happy though, and I wonder what kind of hot water Paul's going to find himself in later). Anyways, they started by discussing Gargoyles, and the lessons they've discovered about the industry since then. As an example, Greg once more showed the videos for the spin-offs he tried to pitch: "Dark Ages" and "New Olympians". Originally, Greg Kline (Greg Weisman's boss) seemed ready to approve the spin-offs. Unfortunately, Kline was soon replaced with Dean Valentine, who decided Disney didn't need any more action cartoons. Dean was then replaced by Charles, who got replaced by David, who got replaced by Barry. Now Disney is back to wanting action cartoons. Greg and Vic showed us a video of the show they're trying to sell. I'm not sure I'm allowed to discuss it, so all I will say is that it has potential. On the surface, it looks much like the other cartoons Disney's released in the last few years. But there is an added plot element that you can immediately recognize as Greg's style, adding another layer of complexity to the story that promises a progressive storyline. Oh, and another thing I'll say is that Crispin Freeman voiced the main character in the pitch, which was really cool. ;)
After the workshop was the radio play rehearsal. I was excited that I could finally stick around and see what happened during one of these closed-door events. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention--I actually got cast as Elisa. It figures that the one time my voice goes bad, I get picked. Of course, I only had a line and a half, so I think Greg was taking pity on me. The doors were shut, and then the rest of the cast... well, they just stood around in little clusters and talked. I nudged Seth and asked what was going on, and being a veteran of many previous radio plays, he just shrugged and said this was the way it typically started.
Finally, Greg started calling out our names and directed us to certain seats. Hearing people's names called out and associating each name with a face actually allowed me to figure out who a lot of fans were (and I think some people finally figured out who I was). I must admit that the con badges were done well this year in that only your online name was printed, and in big letters. The only problem was that they dangled from a string, which meant they were more often than not hanging down at waist level where your eyes don't immediately drift to, and oftentimes that tags flipped over, making a discreet peek at the name of the person waving to you all but impossible. We picked up our scripts and discovered that we'd be acting out "The Reckoning". It was one of the episodes Greg Sperling worked on, and as Greg explained to us, this year's radio play was being dedicated to his memory. We could have also performed "Golem" or "Bushido" for that same reason, but since Lexington wasn't in either one and Thom would be acting in the play with us, Greg wanted to give him the option to do Lex. As it turned out, Thom wanted to play Sevarius instead. Which turned out for the best, I think, especially since Gabriel can do a pretty good Lex impersonation. In fact, I was very impressed with this year's cast. Batya "The Toon" Levin was amazing as Demona--I mean, her voice was just dripping with venom and cynicism. Stephen Sobotka stumbled a bit during the first read through, but the next time around and during the actual play, he was great as Goliath--he had the emotions down pat, with a nice, deep voice that I could easily picture was Goliath's. Alex Wittenberg cracked me up with his Fang impersonation. Emambu did a fairly good Scottish accent for Hudson, even if he refused to believe it. Sarah the Great was a great Brooklyn, successfully imitating his sarcastic style. I forget who did Thailog, but when he and Thom began chuckling maniacally at each other, I wanted to die laughing. All the others were great at their roles too, and I felt particularly sympathetic to the ones who voiced the clones, because more than half their lines were just growls and grunts, which really are hard to do (especially when Greg keeps telling you to project, even though you know you'll sound silly). And Seth deserves special mention for tolerating being cast as Claw (though he was also technically our one understudy). The audience did get a big kick out of seeing him play his part, though (which consisted of standing up as his action line was read by Greg, and then sitting right back down).
The Radio Play went smoothly, though as usual, there was a lot of waiting involved (this time, due to the kitchen staff wanting to take over the room to set up for the banquet, which followed right after). Not having signed up for the banquet, Sean and I went to a nice Malaysian restaurant on the upper west side, then took our time getting back, taking pictures along the way. We headed back to the banquet room for the masquerade. Nichelle Nichols had already left, but apparently she had indeed been there and expressed gratitude towards the fandom (she still charged $20 for her autograph, though....) The masquerade was fun, especially the Cosplay between Kanthara and Patrick (dressed as Fox and Anastasia Renard, respectively). As usual, there were several Owens and a garg or two. Revel was amazing as Vinnie, and we had a nice Gruoch and Robyn the Hunter, as well as escapees from The Matrix.
The awards ceremony was dedicated entirely to artwork, so I suppose no one entered the other contests this year, which is a real shame. Thom continued the yearly tradition of dropping his pants, before Dreamie awarded him with a belt and a padlock (there was mention of auctioning the key). Siryn was named the fan guest of honor, with loud applause from the audience (you deserve it, Si!). Before the dancing began, Sean and I escaped to take the express bus home. Sadly, I left my bag of leftovers on the table. Hopefully it made some poor custodian very happy.
Day 3: Sunday 6/29/03
The worst thing about the last day of the con was that everything started and ended early, forcing us out of bed when we really could have used several more hours of sleep (the downside to commuting to the con, I guess). We wanted to be there for the auction, since we had agreed to join a pool with Seth and others for the combined Team Atlantis: "The Last" script, tape and storyboards. The autograph signing was also supposed to happen concurrently, and I wanted to get my Radio Play script and calendar signed. Of course, I needed to get my calendar, first. I had been dodging in and out of the Dealer's Room/Art Room all weekend, wondering how I was going to go about getting one. I was supposed to get one for free, since my pic of Brooklyn on the subway actually made it into the calendar, but I hadn't received one with the rest of my con materials. It seemed a bit rude to just go up to the desk and demand one (and the con probably needed the money, and here I was, asking one for free). I was kind of hoping that Dreamie would act as an intermediary for me, since I know her from online and she was part of the staff, but whenever I saw her she had that same tired and dazed expression as the rest of the con staff.
I retreated back to the auction, which seemed to take forever. Seth was getting antsy, but we all clung to the hope that the more items auctioned first, the poorer the rest of the fans would be, and the less competition we'd have for the Team Atlantis combo. Finally it was Greg who prompted the sale of the package, since he had to take the stuff to the Team Atlantis Q&A downstairs. We watched the bids go up slowly, starting at close to $150 and rising by small increments. Initially we thought we could get away with it for $300, but somewhere along the way, the bid jumped to $500, then hovered around $650. "Going once...going twice...". Seth groaned when Kat and Aaron began offering more incentives to raise the bid. At last he was forced to announce a bid, drawing surprise from the audience. Maybe they had heard stories of him and were scared off...maybe they felt like being nice because he had explained to the room all the different kinds of Skybox Gargoyles cards in existence...or maybe they really had run out of money. Whatever the reason, Seth finally got it...for $750. Having chipped in the most for it, none of us would begrudge him the honor of keeping the originals. But first they would be used in the Q&A, so we followed Greg and Vic to the panel.
Greg began by telling us a bit of the history of the show, which Tadd Stones produced. Apparently, they had ten episodes ready to ship for animation ("The Kraken" was #6. "The Last" wasn't yet far enough along), and in the end, the execs picked three of these to turn into a made-for-video movie, adding a framing sequence between the episodes so that it all made sense (which was almost the equivalent to a fourth episode). The "movie" introduces a new character, the 'lava-whale' Obie, voiced by Frank Welker so that it sounds almost exactly like Bronx. Greg mentioned that originally there had been a pilot planned (which didn't get made) that shows how Atlantis is causing magical disturbances on the surface, and when Milo and Kida go up to investigate, the passage back gets blocked up, trapping them there. The goal of the characters throughout the series is finding a new way back down to Atlantis. The series would span twenty years (1920's-1940's), but thanks to their Atlantean crystals, none of the cast would age (but secondary characters like Andre's nephew would).
When the Q&A finished, I realized it was 'now or never', and rushed to the Art Room. I managed to convince the person manning the table that I was supposed to get one, and ran with it back to the banquet room. There, I got Greg and Vic Cook to sign it and my script (both remarked that they really liked my pic, which totally made my day). I found the courage at last to ask Greg a question Denis had asked that I pass on, and to ask a question of my own. There had been a discussion in the S8 CR about where and how the Gargoyles and Team Atlantis universes intersected because of "The Last". Greg confirmed that it would only be for that episode, and that the differences would have been more clear had the other episodes been made. For instance, they had their own version of the Loch Ness monster, and even Puck would make an appearance (but in a different guise, though this wouldn't necessarily distinguish the two universes, since the show takes place in the 1920-1940 era, when for all we know Puck could have decided to take that form). I asked Greg if he had tried to influence the way the other eps were written to try to keep the universe rules similar to Gargoyles, but Greg said absolutely not--it was Tadd's show.
I then signed up for G2004 since it was just $20, though there's a chance I'll be on the wards then and won't be able to go. I think I am fated to only make the odd-year cons.
The Gathering ended with Closing Ceremonies (well, there was also the Coney Island trip and the New York tour led by A Fan, but we didn't go). The exhausted staff thanked everyone, some announcements were made, and then Greg said a word or two. We then said our goodbyes, taking a final picture before exiting the hotel. We walked past several Wonder Women going up the elevators, which told us that however odd our little fandom might appear, the hotel staff had seen far, far more bizarre things.
We had a fun time, and it's great to see new material every year, both from the fans and the cast/staff. We are lucky to have such an amazing fandom, which is truly a reflection of the quality of the show. I hope our numbers keep growing, and that Disney continues to support us, and perhaps one day allow Greg to continue the "Gargoyles" story.
Great report Vash, but I have to respond to a few things...
*Can I just say that I have narrow eyes. My daughter has them too. It's genetic. I may zone out when I'm not "on". But I'm rarely thinking about how I'm going to pounce on the next fan that "disturbs" me. Truth is, I'm fairly shy. I have no fear of public speaking. But I'm lousy at small talk and intimate conversation isn't my strong suit unless or until I know the other person very well.
In general, however, I'd like all Gathering attendees to feel free to approach me to conversate. I may not be good at it, but I'm game, so TRY me!
*I can't remember why Paul didn't show. I'm sure I was disappointed, but Paul was never in trouble. (Gee, you must think I pull the wings off butterflies in my spare time.) Paul lives in NJ, so although he was welcome to come for as much of the con as he wanted, we thought that particular seminar made the most sense.
*Greg Kline. Greg Kline is a good guy. He's a free-lance writer and editor who's partnered with Tom Pugsley. But he wasn't my boss at Disney. That was Gary Krisel and/or Bruce Cranston.
*Tad Stones. One d there.
The Gathering 2003 - New York "Home at Last"
Okay, I've printed off all my receipts, figured out bus and subway stops, fitted three bags of peanut M&Ms and my clothes into my daypack and a variety of odd bits into my carry bag. Dang, no room for the book I'm reading: Saturn's Child. We'll, there is, but I'll probably finish the thing before I leave Knoxville and I don't want to carry deadweight.
Two hours in the airport with CNN travel news that won't stop. I wish I'd brought the book.
Knoxville to LaGuardia Airport. On the plane I saw the smoothest pick up ever and it was between two women (as opposed to the worst ever which was a desperate guy hitting on a girl in the Village, which was just pathetic.) Casual conversation led to career talk that segued to a job offer. The pair got off the plane in New York to have lunch and seal the deal. I was in awe. Anyway, the M60 bus to Astoria subway station. (Hint to NY transit folks: people coming from the airport stand a fair chance of being tourists, consequently, announcing bus and train stops would be considered helpful.) Got off at 34th and Herald Square and promptly got turned around. Took a pass around Macy's, figured out where I was and "Hello, Hotel Pennsylvania!"
Started to check in. Got in line anyway and decided to call Greg Bishansky to let him know I was there. They were getting pizza. Pizza suddenly sounded like a really good idea. Hooked up with the majority of the ConStaff and had lunch.
Back to the Registration Desk. Easy. Thank you, Hotels.com. Next stop luggage room to pick up the box of convention tee shirts. Nice guy at the luggage room said he'd have them delivered to my room. Cool. Wish I'd waited a little while longer and had them delivered to the ConSuite instead. Oh well, a little exercise never hurt anybody.
ConSuite: Busy. Very Busy. I folded teeshirts and later helped stuff registration packets. Mandolin, my roomie two year's running, finally arrived after a tedious train trip. We caught up a little bit and then it was back to the ConSuite for a meeting and Pep Rally Sushi Dinner. Good sushi. Monster Sushi. Great company. Too bad they split us up because the tables were smallish.
Back to the hotel and the last normal night's sleep of the weekend.
Meh, woke up to the sound of the alarm on my cell phone. Found out the shower is jet propelled. Out and dressed to see what needed doing. Walked to Kinko's with Winterwolf and made some copies. Walked back alone because he was doing last minute computer stuff. Staff meeting. Pulled the assignment of minding the Skytop Ballroom where most of the big events were. Fabu. Alan came back with the convention programs and we stuffed them into the packets. Greg Weisman, Carol and I went to breakfast since the rest of the ConStaff was happy with soda and Pop Tarts. We ended up at Lindy's, which was a mistake. Greg's tomato juice was fermented. We did see Lou Ferrigno. He was appearing at the convention across the street. I felt bad about breakfast since mine was the swing vote to stay so I picked up the tab.
At some point thereafter it was back to the Consuite. The Dreamer Clan had arrived to set up the hospitality portion of the convention. It was great to see Batya and Alex, Constance, A Fan, Kellie and others whose names regretfully escape. Unfortunately, the weekend is blurry in places (I blame the hotel ventilation system) and events that occurred in the same room have kind of bled into each other. However, I do remember that Hudson and several members of his security crew were there as well and they were instrumental in helping my pull off the "Peanut M & M" prank on Greg Weisman.
The what? Okay, so it was a dumb joke, but I make my own fun. One day on the Staff mailing list Greg remarked in response to an email that he was a "Peanut M&M kind of guy". Now who could leave a comment like that alone? Goaded by Patrick aka "Puck" Toman, who is responsible for creating all kinds of mischief and seldom gets his own hands dirty in the process, I decided to make sure that Greg would get as many packets of M&Ms over the course of the weekend as possible. Hence the 48 or so mini bags of candy in my carry on.
The short of it was: every time I was in the middle of a group of people I recruited more helpers. And over the course of the weekend Greg ended up with more little bags of M&M's.
Like I said, I make my own fun.
Gah, headache. I went to check on the ballroom because our first event of the day "Clan Wars" was supposed to take place there. The room was made up for a banquet! Water pitchers on every table, cups stacked neatly. I caught a quick flash of what the room would look like after the Nerf Battles had gotten done with it and had a fast consult with the head waiter. Fortunately, he was cool about it and the room was soon safe for the warriors to take the field.
Greg's Mug a Guest - Easy. And the first bag of M&Ms dropped.
Noel's panel - Couldn't swing an easel, but things worked out anyway. Good. I needed a lunch break and time to clear my head.
Good deeds seldom go unpunished. I bugged out of the hotel long enough to pick up lunch for Greg and Thom who were locked in back to back Voice Acting seminar and then Radio Play auditions. Thom mentioned how much he was jonesing for Nathan's hot dogs and there was a Nathan's on the corner. Pick up dogs and sodas, swing by London Suite should have been easy. Unfortunately, Thom makes his own fun too. He got me. Good. Too bad I was already sleep deprived and not on form. Why is it the best comebacks occur way too late to do any good?
Oh well. I had to panel to co-present with Lynati, Greg Bishansky, and Batya: History, Myths, and Legends. In hindsight this was probably a stellar example of why Convention Staffers shouldn't try to present content too. We actually had a program of discussion outlined, but with all the last minute rushing around, the prep kind of went out the window. Still, we had a good roundtable discussion and it seemed like people enjoyed themselves.
Panel over. Time to set up for Opening Ceremonies. Tables and chairs reset - check. Uh, where's the AV stuff? Second headache. Fortunately, easily resolved. Chris Rogers to the rescue!
For me, the Gatherings have become more and more like family reunions. Opening Ceremonies has become the part where people drag out the old movies and tell the old stories, but you don't groan because you've heard them for the 72nd time, instead they make you feel all warm and mushy, because you're back with people you care about. Kinda dumb, I know. But it's nice. Anyway, G2003 did their thing, thanking everyone for attending, G2004 plugged Montreal, and Greg played the pitch tapes and leica reel.
Out to dinner to a place called the American. Upscale diner food. Greg, his friend Doug, Vic Cook, Carol, Patrick and Mandi. We did appetizer and dessert roulette. Yummy.
Oh dang, Greg has to be back for a late night Mug a Guest. Time to take a late jog through Manhattan. Who'd a thunk Greg would be so fast when he put his mind to it?
The Mug was a stitch, though sitting all classroomy like with Greg and Thom behind a table was kind of odd. Late night Mugs thrive on familiarity and informality and it took a bit to get things rolling. But roll they did. Right into the gutter and out again. It lasted until after 2AM and would have gone later had the hotel staff not pulled the plug.
kip the shower, go for the bath. Oh look. The bath water is as dark as coffee, maybe a good Kenya roast. Run it for a bit, it gets down to a nice ice tea color. Oh well, you do what you have to do.
Staff Meeting - Hey wait a minute what do you mean you want me to chair the meeting? I haven't had coffee yet! Okay, ran down the action items and went to go check on the Ballroom. Why is it made up with tables all over again? Oh, Clan Wars Round II. Reset the room again. It went pretty quick but I still don't know how to set the AV stuff up. You'd think I'd learn to stare at the back of the speakers and video equipment, but no. Fortunately, Aaron was there to sort it out and I went to do my first solo workshop: Three Scenarios in Search of a Story.
It seemed like a good idea at the time I proposed it: let's make the Writing Track as much about writing as talking about writing. So of course, having put my foot in, I had to go up to my neck. I devised a writing exercise that sounded fun, at least on paper: here are three scenarios - write the opening sentence, an outline of the story that would go with and the final paragraph. My six attendees wrote up a storm. Now the kicker: all three events happened within the same story. Write the point where they intersect. There were groans from a few participants and then frantic scratching as pens and pencils raced along binder paper and note cards. At "Pencils down" we had time to hear several of the results. It was everything I could have hoped for. Everyone had a different take on events and there were some genuinely good stories in the process of being created. Best yet, the audience had fun doing the exercise.
Hey, I finally had time to sit down and watch a panel! At least most of one: Series Development. Animation and the industry that surrounds it has changed so much in such a short time. Actually, entertainment in general has. It boggles the mind that anything new makes it to the screen. I yanked Patrick out of the end of the panel because we still hadn't had time to do a final run through for the seminar we were co presenting: Am I Blue?
It should have been called "How Long Can Kathy Go Before She's Distracted by a Shiny Object?" I've never been a happy public speaker. It took me an extra quarter to graduate from college because while the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Cal Poly could get me out of Cereal Crops, he couldn't wave the university requirement for a speech class. Over the years, I've learned to put my nerves into my presentations. I move around, I clutch at a marker or chalk or other props like a lifeline, I grab audience comments and run with them, anything to keep things lively. Unfortunately, while that approach works to an extent as a solo presenter, it tends to leave co presenters scrambling. Sorry, Patrick. We're a great writing team, but we've got to work on stage presence. On the upside, the writing exercise we did at the end was a success. Yay us! And I got to talk for a bit with Ellen, Dylan and Mooncat among others for a bit.
Another bought of post presentation nerves. Good thing Thom wasn't around to see. I'd have never lived it down if he'd seen me bolting for the Ladies hand over my mouth.
Radio Play - The Reckoning. The performance was dedicated to Gary Sperling. A card for his two children was presented to the assembled fandom for sympathy and well wishes. Greg planned to present it after the Gathering to the Sperling family.
The Banquet - How hard can it be to seat tables with one special guest, a member of Constaff and fill the rest with fans? We'd come up with a scheme that made a certain degree of sense - except it didn't. So the tickets the fans were handed were void and a simple count off applied instead. Those immortal words: Keep it simple, stupid, were suddenly apropos.
Anyway, our very first Star Trek/Gargoyles guest Nichelle Nichols arrived. We "borrowed her" when we found out she was appearing at the convention at Madison Square Gardens. Actually, we found out she was appearing across the street, and Carol talked her management into letting her come over for dinner and a book signing. This was no small feat as Trek actors' management watch over their people and their interests like nervous hens. But a deal was struck and there she was sharing buffet salmon, chicken and roast beef plus that dessert bar with us!
(As a minor aside, if you see Carol at the next Gathering, go up to her say hello and thank you. This woman has done an incredible job year after year making sure our guests have a great time at the Gathering and she is a huge asset to our Convention Staffs and Fandom. This isn't meant to denigrate any other staffers past or future, it's a tremendous undertaking to host a convention and the individuals brave or foolhardy enough to do so deserve all of our thanks.)
After the meal the Q&A was open for business. No one wanted to be first so, I stuck my hand up to get things rolling. Fortunately, I'd read enough of Saturn's Child to get a feel for it and so I commented about the awesome amount of world building involved and that broke the ice. Eventually, the Q & A turned to Gargoyles and what it was like to voice and design art for "Mark of the Panther". It's still one of my favorite "world tour" episodes for the stunning artwork that accompanied the tale of Anansi.
I bought a copy of Saturna's Quest and had Ms. Nichols sign it. She's a lovely woman who's had an amazing life. When she gets her one-woman show mounted I hope she stops in Knoxville. Or Atlanta even. It'd be worth a couple of hundred miles drive to see her sing the blues.
The Masquerade - I watched. I talked to people. Lanny worked on the knots in my shoulder that had been plaguing me all weekend. I owe him and Goliath 116 a huge debt of gratitude for keeping me mostly pain free. When the judges left to make their determinations I dumped the last of a bag of M&Ms on the judges' table which led to Greg to ask the room at large "What is it with the M&Ms?"
(I eventually fessed up. And even if I hadn't I was caught on videotape.)
I bailed on the dance for a tour of the Village with Lanny, Patrick, Thom, Carol and Greg . Stupidly, I left my bag behind because we were going walking and I was tired of lugging it around. Unfortunately, my wallet was in my bag and I didn't know that walking included a subway ride and a late supper at Caliente Cab Company who almost didn't let me in because I had no I.D. I'm over 21, already! While I suppose I should take it as a compliment that people might think otherwise, it's still a pain in the arse. Lucky for me, Greg bailed me out and picked up the tab for the subway and supper. Thanks, Greg. :)
It was a fun night and the conversation both on the street and around the table was lively and it continued once we got back to the hotel into the wee hours.
Oh god. I totally overslept and I wanted to go watch the Munster Hurling Semi Finals. Sleeping until 12:30 meant I missed that and the morning staff meeting. Sorry guys.
Back to Nathan's for breakfast. Or would that be lunch? Either way, it was a hot dog.
Caught the tail end of the Team Atlantis Q & A. It's obvious listening to both Vic and Greg talk that it's a frustrating business trying to make entertainment these days and yet they keep plugging away at the system.
The snippet of Milo's Return they showed looked pretty good, engaging but with an edge. It's now on my list (getting longer all the time) of DVDs to buy.
The auction was in progress when I got to the ballroom. It suddenly occurred to me how to make it less of a tag on event and more of a feature attraction so I duly handed the idea off to the G2004 staff. They're a great bunch and next year already sounds like it's going to be a corker.
Closing Ceremonies. So long. Farewell. Auf Weidersehen. Goodbye. Thanks for coming and see you next year. I ponied up my $20.00 for early pre-reg.
Soon we were off to Coney Island with a detour to the 9-11 site. I have to say, I was extremely uncomfortable there. I have no connections to New York. I didn't know anybody who died that day. That wasn't it. The dead weren't at rest or maybe it was the living still at odds with the tragedy. Very unsettling. It's the only way I can describe it. I live across the street from a cemetery. As my husband likes to quip, "we live in a great location, the neighbors are quiet." And they are. When you walk the grounds it's peaceful. I didn't have that feeling in at the crash site. I was glad to get back on the subway.
Greg counted us off. Twenty-seven people - a group that big is bound to get separated. Everybody gets a map and a buddy.
Coney Island. Hey the beach! I miss the beach. Look Nathan's, the original. Can we have food? Nope. First it's to the gates of Astroland so we can figure out where and when we're going to meet back up. Ten? Cool. To be honest, I'm tired of this place already and it was my idea to come here. I've got to say that Patrick did a great job on organizing the trip. Thanks, Patrick! It's loud. It's bright. And it's totally polar opposite to what I'm in the mood for. Can't we ditch this scene and go find some jazz? Oh well, live in the moment. The group breaks up and Greg, Patrick and I head to Nathan's where we're met by Wingless and Seth. Chili dogs this time. I thrive on variety. We eat dinner and then go ride the Cyclone.
Well that was quick and somewhat painful. It was also the only ride I was up for. Except for the "bathroom ride". .25 and you too can be grossed out in a funhouse disguised as a public facility. The guys decide they need to try it too. They knew Greg must be a celebrity, because they charged him .30.
Yay! The boardwalk. This is better. Good conversation. Good friends. The glare of Astroland fades as we walk and enjoy the sound of the surf. Too soon it's ten and time to head back to the hotel.
People must have thought we were odd on the trip back. Greg kept counting us off like we were remedial first graders. But there was a huge round of applause as we disembarked the subway and all twenty seven were present and accounted for.
Wait. I thought this was New York. You know "the city that never sleeps?" So why can't we find a place to get breakfast at midnight? We end up getting ice cream at Penn Station and even that was settling after the quest for donuts was met with failure. Sure the place was open, but it was also sold out. Not fair. I want protein. There's a KFC one kiosk over and the ice cream line is a mile long. I figure I can get some chicken and be back before the last cone is dipped. Oops, wrong. Sorry, Dad. ;)
Consuite this time. Most of the staff is there. Many people are there. Cowboy Bebop: the Movie is playing. I'm interested, because I liked the series and missed the film when it zipped through the local theater, but I'm burning out fast. I eat some chicken fingers and drink my grapefruit juice and go to bed.
Another tea colored bath. Meh. At least the water is hot and the tub is comfy. I've talked Mandi into going to Chinatown with me but she's still sleeping so I went to go get some coffee and take care of check out. For some reason I'm in a really evil mood. Down doesn't quite cover it. I guess I'm feeling one of the darker shades of the blues, but I can't put my finger on why as I'm suddenly fighting not to sob into my latte.
Hello bootstraps. Pull!
Better. Must have been a stress reaction. Or maybe it's realizing that most of my closest friends I only get to see once a year and now that time has past. What did Batya say when we were talking about something similar yesterday? First come the happy tireds and then the monster ones? Not quite it, but close.
I get myself together just as A Fan, who's come to lead a walking tour enters the lobby and people I know start assembling in the lobby. We brace Fan for subway directions to Chinatown, and we're on our way.
Almost. We ran into Vic Cook and his daughter Hannah on their way out. When we tell him where we're headed he tells us to watch out for the great deals on DVDs.
A couple of wrong turns getting to the right subway station and then we're there. Almost. First we have to figure out where exactly we are in relationship to where we want to go. Okay, so I didn't think this trip all the way through. The morning passes quickly and I even find a useful addition for my reference library in a bookshop. No DVDs, but the bra ladies were out in force.
Lunchtime. We nearly ate Chinese, even waited in a really busy restaurant for a while, but it was getting late and eventually, I had to get back on the subway to head to the airport. We took a short detour into Little Italy and had wonderful tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella salad and pasta instead. Still, I had this goofy feeling that I was missing something important in Chinatown.
I have a screwy sense of precognition that kicks up (or in) every once in a while. Unfortunately, aside from getting a sense of BAD! Or Watch Out! Or Peanut Butter Pie! (That last one happened as I was writing this and it was just strange. Also a completely different story.) It seldom supplies specifics. But over the years I've learned to pay attention to it because more often than not, it's accurate. I asked Mandi if she wouldn't mind poking around a couple of more shops and we headed back in.
Trinkets, pretty clothes, nope, not what I'm looking for. It would help if I had a better idea but the notion is adamant with out providing any clues. Couldn't we just get one of those bubble teas? At least they're interesting looking. One last shop. Mandi finds a carved elephant that would make a perfect gift and she decides to buy it. The feeling starts to fade. Heh, maybe the psychic nudge wasn't meant for me after all.
Dang, look at the time. We break for the subway. Mandi gets off at the stop near the hotel and I keep going. It's back to Knoxville via La Guardia and Ronald Reagan (D.C) airports and for this year anyway, the Gathering is over.
That was great! I love reading these things. And I remember most of it!
But how did Thom "get" you? That I've forgotten.
Sorry I couldn't attend the Gathering, this year. you have asked in the Comment Room to post here the journals of the gathering. Of course, not having been there, I couldn't post any, but I though I could still help a bit by posting what follows.
to Disney Executives, hello.
While fellow Gargoyles fans will post their convention's logs and journal, I will say this:
I'm a Gargoyles fan from Brussels, Belgium. Due to personnal, real life issues, I wasn't able to attend the Gathering this year, to my chagrin.
I have, in the past, attended Gathering, in 1998 in NYC, in 2000 in Orlando, 2001 Los Angeles and 2002 in Williamsburg. Both because it allowed me to meet up with online friends, but also to support Gargoyles, which is for me one of the greatest animated show ever made and that is very special to me. It revealed to me my vocation of writing fiction, it broadened my mind, views and tastes, and it gave me the opportunity to meet with dozen, hundreds people, and many of them have become my friends.
Gargoyles was, IS, an extraordinary show, an amazing story of which many chapters are left to be told.
I don't know what else to add except thank you to you all for giving us fans such a great story, and I hope that, eventually, we will be able to discover new stories featuring the gargoyles.
Denis De Plaen,
Brussels, 12th July 2003
Thanks, Denis. Every little bit helps. I hope to see you in Vegas.