A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Allaine's Gathering Journal
Wednesday, July 27
Compared to last year, coming to Las Vegas was uneventful. I boarded a 11 AM EST flight at Phila International Airport. It landed at 1:30 PM PST, which gave me just enough time to read Harry Turtledove's Settling Accounts in its entirety. I didn't make it to the hotel until 3 PM, though, because the shuttle I boarded stopped at three other hotels, including one downtown, before mine.
Princess Alexandria, Mooncat, and Summer Jackel were my roommates this year, but Summer wasn't due to arrive until Friday morning. When I got to the hotel, Alexandria had already checked in, and she met me at the front desk. Mooncat wasn't going to come for another couple hours, so we went to our room and I dropped off my bags. I gave Alexandria several chapters of a story I'd been working on as a surprise gift, and then we went to the Guadelajara Cafe, which normally was the Palace Station's Mexican restaurant. But this weekend they were renovating the 24-hour restaurant, so the Guadalajara had expanded hours and American items on the menu. We went for a snack, because Mooncat wanted us to have dinner with her once she arrived. That took place around 5:30. Needless to say, I was really happy to see both of them. We'd been planning the details for weeks.
The Palace Buffet was, I suppose, what one would expect for $6.99. A lot of choices, none of which were exactly superb. Still, it did the trick, I guess. Alex and I weren't that hungry, so we could pick and graze as much or as little as we liked. After that it was back to our room again. Mooncat had been told upon landing that her luggage was on another plane that wouldn't arrive until later, but that they would deliver her baggage to the hotel. Until then, she had the clothes on her back and not much else.
We eventually decided to visit a local miniature golf course Alex claimed to have seen from the freeway near the hotel. As we were walking out, we ran into Kathy Pogge and Mandolin, our first Gathering guests, and we talked for a while. We caught a taxicab, and proceeded on a laughable half-hour drive where our driver assured us he knew what a miniature golf course was. Alexandria kept trying to explain anyway. "You know, windmills," she said. I sat in the back and muttered, "He has no idea what she's talking about."
He didn't. He took us to a typical country club. The valet there told us that we were looking for a place called Skandia, which was on Industrial Blvd. He was half-right, as it turned out. We drove up and down Industrial but saw nothing. Eventually we went back to the hotel, threw thirty dollars at the driver for the fare, and went inside.
The bell desk informed us that we could walk to Skandia in fifteen minutes if we went out the back entrance. Someone, at last, who knew what they were talking about. We walked up Rancho Drive for a while and arrived at the mini golf course. We played eighteen holes of miniature golf without bothering to keep a detailed scorecard. Instead we just paid attention to who got the best score on each hole, and then whoever "won" the most holes would win. I think I won by three. At the end they had this 18th hole where you got a free game if you made a hole-in-one. Both Alexandria and I got holes-in-one, and we gave our passes to someone else.
By then we headed back to the hotel because it was dark outside. Mooncat's luggage hadn't arrived yet. Apparently the same company handles all the missing luggage and makes one big delivery run at night. The bell desk said they'd call us if it arrived by ten, but we assured them that we'd be up until midnight. Good call. They brought her luggage to our room at 10:30. Mooncat had been wondering what she was going to wear to bed, so that was good timing.
We crashed in our room, and watched some TV and some videos on Mooncat's laptop. I gave Mooncat a T-shirt, and she gave me a Kim Possible snow globe, some Batman: The Animated Series commissioned art, and two Kim Possible posters. We went to bed around midnight, as predicted.
Thursday, July 28
Since we had a whole day before the Gathering began, we decided we would hit the Strip today. We took the hotel shuttle to the Tropicana, and from there we checked out most of the major casino/hotels in the surrounding area. The heat was brutal, so we tried to stay indoors as much as possible. First we went to the MGM Grand and saw the lion habitat. From there we got a little turned around, and ended up at the Excalibur, which was cute. We checked out the shops, and I won a little telescoping lance when some woman failed to guess my birth month.
The best part was next - the Luxor. I love ancient Egyptian history and culture, so it instantly appealed to me. They did a really nice job with the place too. Golden sarcophagi, obelisks, realistic-looking walls, sphinxes, etc. We looked in a couple shops here, and I bought a small cat statuette. We also agreed we'd have to drag Summer back there, because there were plenty of statues with jackal motifs. Then we went upstairs and walked through the King Tut museum, which contained a recreation of the rooms of Tut's tomb. We were right in the heart of the Luxor pyramid. You could see all the rooms above us, and the elevators that moved diagonally. We tried to ride one, but they're key-operated. We got a snack before we left.
After that we went to Mandalay Bay, which was also very nice and very new. We basically strolled through the whole casino until we got the Shark Reef, which we decided to come back to if Summer was interested. The place looks gorgeous, but by then my feet just hurt. We ended up heading outside despite the heat and walking past the front of the Mandalay and the Luxor. There was a lot of really nice statuary out front, and I got plenty of pictures. Then we went back to the Tropicana and boarded a shuttle to the Fashion Show Mall. We walked around the mall for a while, then went outside to Treasure Island. We thought about staying around for the free Sirens show outside the TI, but ended up leaving instead. Probably a good thing, because it started to rain as we got on the Mall shuttle, and when we returned to the hotel it was pouring.
We had dinner at a place called the Broiler, which had large portions and was pretty nice. At some point I left Alexandria and Mooncat to their own devices and went to the Con Suite. Lynati and Aaron Wheeler were helping with a lot of the work for my game show panel Monday morning, and we still had a LOT to do, so we agreed I should come by that night before the Gathering began. As it happened, Lynati spent most of the night working on the registration packets, so I just sat in on a discussion with Greg Weisman and some other people, and we talked about things like comic books and "why the Batman Begins movie sucked". (And now Greg knows my name :D).
I think Ellen Stolfa dropped by our hotel room at one point, and we talked for a bit. Then I went to bed.
"I've been looking for you!"
GATHERING JOURNAL 2005
I was glad that this year's con was in Las Vegas. This city wouldn't normally be a destination for me; I'm not into the casino and show scene. And, like I kept telling my pals over the course of the weekend, I was getting into town about 40 years too late to do the one Vegas thing I really wanted to do - see the Rat Pack at the Sands. Nevertheless, the bottom line was that - other than this being the Gathering, which I'd attend no matter where it was held - this was an opportunity to go somewhere I'd never been before, and that's nothing but good.
The flight in was smooth and on time, and gave me the chance to get all my paperwork done in anticipation of the panels I'd be co-hosting. I collected my suitcase at the baggage claim and was out the door to find a taxi.
Before I left, numerous people had told me about how the dry heat of the desert felt much better than the humidity in Chicago, that I wouldn't notice the heat in Vegas as much, etc., etc. Bull. It's HOT in Las Vegas in the summer. Period. And I was roasting as I wrangled my suitcase through the taxi line. I nevertheless had to perk up and look my best, because along came Greg Weisman and Thom Adcox in that interminable taxi line, graciously offering to share their cab with me even after the trials and tribulations they'd been through that day. (It had taken the poor guys over twice as long to get there from Los Angeles than it had taken me to get there from Chicago.) One of the things I really wanted to do this weekend was to personally congratulate Greg on getting the opportunity to write more of his stories, and to tell him that, speaking as a writer myself, the news about the comic actually left me with a lump in my throat. The fact that I was able to do this right off the bat was an auspicious beginning to the weekend indeed.
After this pleasant chat with the Boss and Thom in the cab, I checked into the hotel and hauled myself up to my room. I got on the phone with Emambu to set up a breakfast meeting for the following morning, and with Allaine and Mooncat to find out which room they were in. I stopped by and chatted with them and Princess Alexandria for a little while, until I was fairly certain I'd fall over if I didn't get to bed pronto.
The following morning I met Emambu at the little restaurant at the foot of the stairs leading into the casino. The primary purpose of our meeting was to review our material for the "Writing that Flows" panel. However, I found Emambu so easy to talk to and such an interesting conversationalist that we stayed there until the restaurant manager threw us out at 20 after ten so that the staff could set up for lunch. We moved our conversation out to the lobby, where Allaine, Mooncat, and Princess Alexandria joined us. I finally decided it was high time I went and registered, so I was off in search of the meeting facilities.
Once registered, I found myself with a little free time before our panel, so I retired to my room, put my feet up, and listened to Frank Sinatra on my CD player. One of the best things about this weekend was that, since the events were extended over an extra day, I had extra half hours here and there just to sit back. It made a big difference. I might have been incoherent by the end of the convention, but I was still on my feet.
I was very gratified to see how many people showed up for the panel that Emambu and I hosted, that they all stayed till the end, and that many of them had comments and questions throughout and after the session. I say this because much of what Emambu and I discussed was the dry and boring nuts and bolts of technically clean writing - grammar, punctuation, usage, and all that stuff that makes for, as I call it, a frictionless read. Not very exciting, but so vitally important to good writing.
I had every intention of staying in the meeting room for Greg's Writing for Animation session - really and truly, and I'm sorry I missed it. But at the end of our panel, Shadowrunner (a.k.a. Julie) introduced herself to me. I've always liked her stories, had corresponded with her via e-mail, and had found out just a few days prior that she would be at this, her first Gathering. So we repaired to the hallway outside the meeting room, where we were joined by first Alex Garg and then Jackel (another on-line writer friend I was meeting face-to-face for the first time). Before we knew it, Greg's session was over. What was I saying to the guys in the cab the night before, about getting together with my writer pals and not being able to shut up?
From there I ducked into the dealers' room for long enough to pick up my copy of the Eye of Odin Anthology. It looks VERY spiffy. Christine and Tim outdid themselves on it this year, and I was sorry only that they weren't there so that I could have told them that in person.
I headed upstairs to take a breath or two and change clothes, then met Kathy in Jack's Pub downstairs to review our material for the following morning's panel on writing action scenes. I always enjoy chatting with Kathy; she has loads of great stories from the farm and from life in general for when we inevitably digress from the business at hand.
We both headed off to the opening ceremonies from there, where all present were suitably delighted at the advertising trailer for the next DVD release, and thoroughly agog at Vash's pseudo-Leica reel of The Last. Holy cow, what a tour-de-force of artistry and production that was. Hats off to Vash!
I met Mooncat, Allaine, Jackel, and Princess at Chin Chin's in New York, New York for dinner. (Good, but I can of course do better around Wentworth and Cermak for a fraction of the price. ;) ) The others were off to see Zumanity, but I returned to the hotel for the Blue Mug-a-Guest. I know by now that those sessions are always good for laughs, and this one was no exception. Like last year, however, the discussion tended to be unusually G-rated, since many of the questions had to do with the new comic series that was distracting us from coarser topics, just like the DVD release distracted us last year.
The following morning, I sat for a while in Starbuck's with coffee, a fruit drink, and a bagel and reviewed the material for that morning's panel with Revel and Kathy. I thought it turned out very well. Kathy and Revel were awesome, there was lively discussion and give-and-take throughout the session, and we covered a wide range of topics within (and outside of) the topic at hand. As with all of these panels, the time flew.
From there I went back to the dealers' room with every intention of scoping out all the artwork and NOT abandoning my coffee on Shara's table (my apologies, Shara!). However, I ran into Alex Garg and suggested we head over to the restaurant in the Stratosphere tower for lunch. He was game, so off we went. The food was good, the view was spectacular, and the conversation was delightful. And every so often we'd catch a glimpse above of the infernal roller coaster outside, atop the tower. We'd glance up at it, then look at each other, shake our heads, and say, "No, thank you."
The downside of this was that we returned way too late for Flanker's panel, so I took a few minutes to put my feet up before grabbing another cup of joe and heading to the Creature Comics/Slave Labor Graphics panel. It got me excited all over again about the release of the comic. Plus, before the panel, I snagged the chance to chat with Shara a little. She's amazing, a real go-getter.
After that, I decided to check off another item on my Vegas to-do list. Emambu and I went over to Rio for dinner at the Voo Doo Café. We loved it - great food, great atmosphere, great view. I'd recommend it anytime. After standing outside and talking non-stop for who-knows-how-long, we finally decided we should head back so that he'd have a fighting chance of catching the tail end of the celebrity poker tournament. Knowing that I had reached my own limitations for that day, I simply headed upstairs and crashed.
First up Sunday morning was the anthology signing in the dealers' room, which was fun because it was reminiscent of signing school yearbooks. From there I went to Dave Schwartz's storytelling panel. He was approaching the topic more from a graphic perspective than a writing perspective, of course, but I was very gratified to hear him giving us attendees several of the same story/plot construction tips that my panel mates and I have been giving other writers over the past couple of years. I also enjoyed his analysis of scenes from the movie "Mildred Pierce," as he pointed out one visual metaphor after another.
Then I was faced with another quandary - Greg's W.I.T.C.H. panel, or sustenance? I opted for the latter and headed down to the Oyster Bar for a bowl of chowder and some oysters on the half shell (which were quite good). I managed to catch the last few minutes of Greg's panel, at least, then returned to the consuite for Allaine's reading-aloud session. I was honored to help him out by reading parts of one of his excellent works, and tried to do it justice.
From there we headed down to the radio play, which, of course, was very well done. (The unanimous consensus in my writerly circle was that "Doc Shakespeare" would make a heck of a novel.) With a quick change of clothes afterward, I was off to the banquet. I enjoyed chatting with Leo, James Anatidae, CKayote, and the other gentlemen at the table, and the little gargoyle tea light holders at the place settings were a nice touch. Dancer stopped by and chatted a bit as well. Then it was upstairs to put my feet up for a bit (and convince myself that, no, I was NOT tired) before the masquerade. I joined Allaine, Mooncat, Jackel, Princess, Julie and Denis downstairs for the masquerade and cosplay. Too bad MC, Jacks, and PA ducked out to the pool before Allaine received his well-deserved award for having the best Eye of Odin story in the anthology. Go Al! At the conclusion of the awards ceremony, Allaine joined the girls at the pool, and I went down to the pub with Julie. She regaled me with fascinating and humorous stories until we were both too tired to be lucid, at which point we called it a night.
Monday morning I munched on the remnants of the previous two mornings' bagels and washed them down with a diet cola as I packed. I checked out, left my suitcase at the bell desk, and went upstairs with every intention of simply being a spectator for Allaine's fan fiction game. Somehow I got roped into being a participant, though, and thus spent the rest of the session alternately embarrassing myself with how little I knew about the work of my fellow fic writers (several of whom were present) and being amazed at the extent of Gside's knowledge of the subject. He won, of course. And a good time was had by all. I returned to the art room to check out Kythera's portfolios, then joined Al, Jacks, MC, Leo, PA, and Alex Garg downstairs for lunch in the Broiler.
We headed back upstairs for the live auction. Yay for Alex for getting that fabulous set of poker chips, but I just couldn't let him get those playing cards for so cheap, and I think Julie felt the same way. ;) I'll have to buy him a treat in L.A. to make up for bidding against him. But I'm sorry, Alex, that horrified look you shot me when you realized that my hand was up was well worth the price of admission.
We hung around for the cozy, low-key closing ceremonies. Then it was time for me to pre-register for next year and say my goodbyes. That took me a while, of course. And I was touched when the Boss opened his arms to me for a hug. Greg, you're a swell guy.
The trip home was smooth and uneventful. Two very sleepy boys (one big, one little) picked me up at O'Hare at midnight Chicago time, and now I'm back to reality.
In closing, my overall impression of Las Vegas was that it was hot, garish, and smoky, but lots of fun. Above all, though, the scenery was fabulous - the city is ringed by mountains, which are endlessly fascinating to this midwestern flatlander. And I found the natives to be extraordinarily friendly.
I would be horribly remiss if I didn't specifically thank Chris Rogers and the formidable con staff for all their hard work over the past year, and congratulate them on a terrific convention. And one last note: I didn't get the chance at the convention to do much more than to say a quick thank-you to Marty Lund for all his efforts on behalf of Greg's Gargoyles vision in particular and the Gargs fandom in general. But as far as I'm concerned, this guy - who is as low-key as he is deserving of praise - has demonstrated the ability to walk on water. Bravo, Marty, and thanks again.
You'll have to do better than that!
I tried to keep a running journal. As you'll see, that didn't pan out.
"I should have had cream cheese. It's 6:48 a.m. and I've just finished a very disappointing egg, ham and cheese bagel. My flight doesn't board for another 90-odd minutes, so for now I'm hanging out at the gate with a bunch of St. Louis-bound folks.
"Usually I'm up at 7 a.m. to be bound for work at 8, but this morning's 5 a.m. wake-up call didn't bother me.
"No, losing my camera bothered me (post scriptum: the camera was found in one of my shoes under my bed. *shrug*) - and my G'03 shirts, which went M.I.A. from the laundry thanks to unwanted (and, as I recall, expressly forbidden) laundry "assistance." Oh well.
"It's well past 70 outside with the humidity somewhere between "swimming pool" and "ocean." Fish could walk on land in this. I can't say I'm too eager to fly into a Las Vegas heat wave.
"8:05 - Jitters. I love flying, but for whatever reason I've been overcome with near-panic. Maybe it's the realization of how narrow my window is for connecting in Chicago, or that I can't get any movement in today's sudoku puzzle (which is a bad omen, let me tell you), but I'm nervous as all hell.
"Should be boarding in a few minutes. Will write when I land.
"10:12 Central - Yeah, it was a very narrow transfer window that damned-near closed on me. I arrived at the gate just 30 seconds before they called my ticket group. Close.
"I don't know what was up with the pre-flight jitters at D.C., but there's no sign of them now.
"This plane is, predictably, very energetic. There's music coming over the intercom, lively conversations about gambling, all anticipating fun times ahead.
"Will write when I land.
"12:04 Pacific - Touchdown.
"Ex post facto: Okay, I was bad about keeping a running journal, but I've got plenty in my memory to write a solid journal.
"Getting out of the airport was an ordeal - much glitz and glamour in the form of slot machines, casino advertisements, and a limo driver holding an 'Iglesias' sign causing people to stop in mid-walk - but I managed a shuttle to the hotel and arrived about an hour after touching down. I had missed the first panel I had wanted to attend, but Fate compensated for that as I ran into Thom in the lobby, where he recalled his travel nightmare.
"As I stood confused at the opening to the hotel's casino, Ellen ambushed me and led me through the chaos to her panel, co-hosted by Emambu. Though the subject material was familiar, it was a good panel - and it was nice to sit in something more roomier than a sardine can.
"After the panel and hanging out with Ellen, I encountered my roommates - Denis, Jenn/Rain, Paul/Akhetnu, and Kaylle - and was introduced to Julie/Shadow Runner, a fellow D.C. area resident (one of the few I've met directly through the fandom). Summer Jackel also made her appearance, and good conversation was had (though, I think, at the sacrifice of a panel she was headed for when I called her away).
"There were many other familiar faces that walked by during that time, but it would be diverting from the journal to name them all.
"My roommates and I poked around until opening ceremonies, and the new material (DVD-related) was good stuff. The well-wishes from the cast were probably the night's highlight.
"Upon that event's conclusion, the 'Four-Eyes Clan' - so-called despite my lack of glasses - headed down to Paris Las Vegas for that hotel's buffet. It was pricey, no question, but it was worth it. To have eaten the same in D.C. would have been prohibitive for the wallet.
"I hadn't been prepared for the expanse of the hotel, however, and so as we poked around the blistering of my feet began; not that I minded at the time, but now I'm thankful I have a desk job.
"We made a fashionably late (okay, really late) appearance at the "Blue Mug" event, but like last year's a lot of it was focused on the DVD and comic news (not that there weren't many attempts to turn it towards "blueness"). However, whatever was discussed there I cannot remember - my mind was three hours ahead into Saturday morning and I can't say I was making much of an effort to pay attention compared to my effort to stay awake.
"The event concluded, we picked up Roger as another roommate, brining the room total up to six, and we called it a night once the event concluded. I took the floor.
"I slept poorly that night - not so much due to the uncomforable nature of the floor as much as the cold of the air conditioner, the lack of a pillow, blanket and long-sleeved shirt. It didn't occur to me until about 5 a.m. that maybe if I moved out of the AC's path I wouldn't be so cold, but by then it was too late to salvage a good sleep."
Tired! I "woke up" around 7 a.m. and made my way downstairs to the Palace Cafe for breakfast. I missed that they were supposed to be closed, which would have kept me from heading there at all, but this morning they were open for a limited time in order to try out a new system. The best part of their trial run was that all meals were free. Free!
Wonder of wonders, a free meal at a con!
I ran into Flanker on my way out of the Cafe as he was on his way to breakfast with Sarah the Great. I informed him of the free meal available in the hotel, but it was too late - Cafe stopped service and closed up until Tuesday. So, since they were up and in search for a meal and I was in search of something to do, I joined them on a trip to the Strip for breakfast (well, their breakfast anyway).
We got back to the hotel and I headed over to Ellen, Kathy and Revel's panel on writing action sequences. It was good stuff - well done.
From there I went to the dealers' room to place bids on some art (of which I would lose two out of three) and the full set of Gargoyles comics at the silent auction.
While hanging around one of the dealer's tables, Ellen invited me out to lunch at the Stratosphere. How could I refuse?
We headed out, the cab driver gave Ellen free tickets to a show of some kind, and got in to the hotel. The restaurant required reservations, but we figured that with the main lunch hour behind us there would be room - certainly for just the two of us - and we were right.
Of all the times to not have a camera, that was the most painful. The view was *stunning* from up there.
Ellen and I had a good lunch, good conversation; it was a nice break from the con.
We had such a good time, though, that we missed Flanker's panel, which was unfortunate as people have given it rave reviews.
So I stalked around the dealers' room a bit more and checked on my bids. I found that I had been bested on one piece of artwork; and so, even though the fire alarm went off and con staff encouraged my evacuation, I one-upped my challenger. Dedication, folks - auctions are not for the light-hearted.
I had been thoroughly bested, however, on another piece of art and someone placed a fifth bid on the comics, sending them to the live auction on Monday.
Once the alarm was silenced, I hung out and waited for the evening's poker game. Fun times, people - though a disappointing turnout. The players were solid - Greg was wearing his "poker shirt" and boasted that he had just brushed up on Poker for Dummies, and Thom... Thom had a clever strategy of playing like he had no idea what he was doing.
Okay, Seth and I coached him once or twice (or thrice), and with our help he put up a good showing, at least up until he was coached to keep a hand with nothing going but a 50% chance for a flush before the flop - not by me, BTW - and from there it was downhill.
His death was when we thought he had landed three aces and encouraged him to stay in, only to have him bested by a full house.
The best part of the game wasn't so much coaching Thom as heckling Greg. So rarely does one have the excuse to send a jeer or two his way - mostly because he usually has a smart-ass response in the wings at all times - but tonight was a good excuse.
Mandi kept a log of quotes from the crowd and players that night, which I hope she'll get around to posting soon, my favorite being (of course) mine:
"Greg'll stay in - unless he's too scared."
*crowd jeers, Greg shoots me a "WTF, man?!" look... then folds. Crowd goes wild*
Chris won by engaging in a proxy war of attrition, pitting the other players against each other while slowly building his pot. After his victory, Greg called for an ice cream run - so 20-odd of us headed through the casino to storm the ice cream stand.
Before I had a chance to enjoy my rocky road, some old guy (and maybe slightly drunk) took me aside and told me how our con had drawn the wrath of local talk radio (though I'm not so sure he was talking about our gargoyles as much as... ... I don't know). I managed to break away before my ice cream melted away into nothingness, just in time for the crowd to discover the local arcade.
Thom and Archangel engaged in a motorcycle race (and, of course, seeing and hearing Thom on a motorcycle immediately invoked images of "Awakening" and Lex's ill-fated ride). I called winner. Thom won.
In our race, I was winning comfortably. Thom saw this and in a sheer act of underhandedness leaned over and pushed my motorcycle in an attempt to throw me off! He didn't succeed, but he did tap the brake in the process, causing me to slow down and miss the next checkpoint, thus running out of time.
He lapped me and won the race.
By this time Greg, et al., had appeared and poked around the various games. I had a few tokens to kill, so I stopped by a shooter to get rid of them before we all headed to the pool. Unfortunately, they made a quick exit.
One moment everyone was there, the next... nothing. You'd think I would have heard 20 people file out of a small room, but no.
So, de facto ditched, I hurried out of the room to intercept the group (which was being shown where the pool was, which was important to me because I had yet to go there) and found them as they entered the elevator bay.
Having missed the pool tour-
Me: "So, where's the pool?"
Greg: "It's... where that wet place was. Didn't you see it?"
Me: "No. Y'all ditched me in the arcade so I had to run find you, you jerks [read that light-hearted, mind you]."
Thom: [in a not-so-aside to Greg] "He's just mad because I pushed his motorcycle."
Of course, lost in the exchange was the fact that I still had *zero* idea where the pool was, and so I almost aborted going on the outing.
Also not having swim trunks was a very motivating factor.
However, I determined that, in the absence of swimsuits, there are shorts. Problem: I didn't have a room key.
So I headed back down to the lobby in the hopes that the gift shop carried trunks. It did. I grabbed the first pair off the rack, dropped $15 and waited for somebody to show up to guide me poolward.
Thom appeared. We headed out, others appeared with Greg, and so from the 40-odd from the poker match there were 10 of us at the pool/hot tub. We stayed through the pool's closing at midnight, and from there parted ways.
It wasn't long afterwards that I was asleep on my hotel room floor - well out of the AC's way this time.
Woke up not as early as the day before, having managed to get sleep out of the AC's path, and headed down to the hotel's buffet with Denis.
After breakfast I headed over to the Dealers' Room to get my Eye of Odin Anthology signed by the folks available - and there was happiness. In talking with Allaine and the other writers present, I had to admit that I had not brought anything for the "Reading Aloud" event later that afternoon, which Allaine was hosting, and so I was going to audition for Radio Play in the event I couldn't write anything that afternoon.
I got in the short line for the Radio Play final call and read as Demona; having succeeded in getting a slot in past years with Xanatos ('03 - Thailog) and Lexington ('04 - Art), I wanted yet another change of pace - and the lines were good.
Immediately following the auditions I grabbed a chair, sat in the hallway and began reconstructing my read aloud piece in the event I wasn't cast.
At 1:30 p.m., as promised, Greg and Jenn (CrzyDemona, not my roommate) posted the cast list, and I was on it.
Relieved (and disappointed), I put away my notebook and headed for the silent auction to check on bids. I had been crushed on two pieces of art I had bid for and let them go, leaving one, and put down bids on the previous night's poker chip set and playing cards. Then I chatted with Revel - also cast - as we waited for rehearsal to roll around.
This year's script was an original, non-"Gargoyles" production, so we were excited to take part. I died in the teaser, but it was fun all the same.
After rehearsal, Chris informed us that the silent auction was about to end and we had just a matter of minutes to place final bids. I entered the room and joined the hoard of people guarding their bids. I had been one-upped on both the cards and the chip set, so I placed the fifth bid on the cards, sending them to Monday's live auction, and the fourth bid on the chip set. Archangel placed the fifth bid on the chips (despite my empty threats to not), and so everything I wanted had to be had on Monday.
The play went well. I died, got some laughs, then enjoyed a back, front-row seat to the rest of the play like a good ghost. Good times, people.
I wasn't signed up for the banquet, so I joined Paul and Jenn (roommate) for another outing to the Paris hotel for crapes, which were to die for.
We rushed back to the hotel for the costumes/cos-play event, and there were some pretty decent ones this year, though fewer participants than last. Chatted with Ellen, Julie, Allaine, Mooncat, Summer, and Alexandria, finding out that the latter three had it in mind to go to the pool, as did I.
I ended up going to the wrong pool, however, and getting trapped in conversation. The woman with whom I was speaking, when I asked where the other pool was so I could go look for my friends, replied, "Oh, there are just three girls at that one. I don't think you want to talk to them."
I managed to escape after some time and, sure enough, the three girls mentioned were quite the three I wanted to find, and we stuck around the pool until midnight.
From there we went back to our rooms, and after a few hours of conversation with my roommates (sans Paul, who was chatting with folks at the banquet) went to bed.
I have to agree with the many folks who have said this before, but I'm grateful the con staff extended this year's Gathering into a fourth day. That made things far less hectic (at least from a con-goer's prospective) and, well, it's good to get a Monday off.
I headed on down to Allaine, Aaron and Lynati's (though absent) "Win Xanatos' Money - Fanfic Edition" event, though that was quite a mistake given my tired state. I had thought participation was going to be voluntary, but oh no! I walked in, Allaine handed me a sheet and said, "You have 15 minutes."
The "reading list" was around 500-700 fics (depending on whether authors' double handles were taken into account), with word lengths ranging from tiny to novella. From there, Allaine and Lynati pulled 21 true/false questions. Because I didn't know I would be participating, I read up on none of the fics before the convention.
So, staring at the 21 questions before me, I did plenty of guessing. Oh, how I guessed - and oh how I screwed up on a number of them.
G-Side, Ellen and Alexandria made it to the next round having gotten 14, 13 and 13 out of those 21 correct (it turned out I got 12 right), and so the pressure was off me. G-Side won, though Ellen and Alexandria were able to hold their own.
From there it was lunch with Allaine, Ellen, Alexandria, Mooncat, Summer and Leo (it feels like I'm forgetting somebody, and I mean no offense if I am) at a place in the casino. The food was quality, as was the conversation, which is a key element in eating out.
After lunch we headed over to the live auction, which was my big event for the day.
I designated many of the above-mentioned as my bidding proxies should something happen to me (and I was quick to set limits on what they could spend in such an event), as my stomach was acting up and I didn't know if I would have to make an exit. After that, I just waited for my items to come up.
The first item was the deck of cards from Saturday's poker game, the king of clubs signed by Thom. My bid going into the auction was the high bid - $21 - but, seeing my competition a few rows down, I jumped that to $24, prompting Allaine to lean over and ask, "Why did you outbid yourself?"
That must have been enough to ward off my competition, because he didn't offer anything higher. I was confident in my victory as Chris counted down. Until...
"$26!" someone shouted from behind me! Ellen, my proxy, betrayed me!
At some point in our back and forth she admitted she didn't want them, she just didn't want me to have them for cheap. I, on the other hand, did want them so I would have a complete charity poker set.
I ended up winning the war at $38. That's the most I have ever spent on cards. Ever. Greg and Archangel later signed the ace of spades and king of clubs respectively.
Later in the auction came the comic books. I didn't have the high bid at the silent auction, but whomever it was that had outbid me was no longer at the con, so I became next in line. There were some initial bidders, but I knocked them down - someone bid $80, I jumped to $100, and the room quieted down.
Once more I became confident in victory, until Dancer called out "$110!"
We went back and forth until she hit my ceiling of $150, and I thought all was lost. But Allaine came to the rescue and said he'd pitch in $10 if I moved to outbid her. I put down $160, and Dancer did not come back. I was two for two (and Allaine very much has my thanks).
The poker chip set came at the end of the auction, which Chris announced was valued at $300. My ceiling was $200. It was go time.
Archangel had the high bid of $90, and I quickly put down $100. Several others rose to challenge me, but each time I batted them away. However, as the bidding went on I came closer and closer to my ceiling. I put down $180 and nervously anticipated that somebody would put down $190, forcing me to my ceiling (which, after crossing it twice for the cards and comics, I was not going to cross again, even for a $100 bargain).
I waited... and waited... nothing happened. I won!
So, having put down a total of $378 for my various items, my bank account cried just a little bit; however, I was happy. And yeah, E&H crew, we's having some poker matches this year.
And that, essentially, was the end of the Gathering. Closing ceremonies followed the auction, and the sad goodbyes were had. Relative to last year's they were better because more people were around, but it was still disheartening.
Gave my well wishes to those leaving and headed on my own way.
My roommates and I headed over to the Strip for a bit of a walking tour. We started at the MGM Grand to see the lions, then made our way down the Strip to Caesar's Palace and the forum shops for dinner.
Holy hell is that place expansive. It never ended. Ever.
Dinner was at a Hollywood Planet with desert being gelato farther into the mall. My stomach began acting up again and I had to insist that the trip be cut short (well, shorter given the time we had already spent there), lest my body revolted.
We hurried down the Strip towards the Tropicana to catch the shuttle back to Palace Station, but we got there just in time to watch it drive away. So we hitched a cab back and pretty much did our own thing from there - namely packing.
Denis and I went to bed earlier than the others because of our early departure times (Denis needed to leave the hotel at 4:30 a.m., I at 9), and so ended Monday.
Got out of the hotel on time, seeing various folks heading out as well. Security didn't hassle me about the poker chips as I thought they would, and lugging that case through the airport and on/off planes was not fun at all, and surely got some people's eyebrows up.
The flight from Vegas to Chicago was very, very dull. Where on the plane in everybody was excited to get some action, everybody now was licking their wounds. While I'm sure many contemplated gambling losses, I very much realized just how much money I had spent at the auction; and with those expenses on top of the money I spend for other necessities, I might as well have gambled.
Chicago to Washington was a nicer leg - although the two-hour layover was not fun - as I and the person next to me engaged in small talk, but pulling into the gate was a most welcome experience.
Dad picked me up around 11 p.m., after some confusion about which level of the terminal I was on, and I was home by 11:20, in bed by midnight.
I woke up for work at 7 a.m., and I was sad.
Farewell, my enemies!
I actually kind of wanted to see Win Xanatos's money, but was getting kind of beat so we slept in. For the most part all I did till closing ceremonies was help supervise art room pick up and tear down. Make sure all the items were accounted for and watched Winterwolf do a tavern dance or something, was fun. Ran down stairs with Chris Rogers to get Thom to sign the poker chips, that case was heavy too.
Closing ceremonies was short and bitter sweet, as always. It's sad to see the con end but can't have fun all the time. Spent a while longer with the staff and Emambu cleaning up the dealers room, playing soccer with a yellow wal-mart smiley. The hotel staff really appreciated our efforts to help them clean. Apparently most groups just trash and run. It was nice to help them out since they had been very good to us at getting what we needed.
Most of our friends already know that Spacebabie and I are engaged and we were going to get hitched in Vegas, but after some careful consideration we settled for a simple improve mating ceremony in the Con suite at the dead dog party. It was good enough, though probably in the spring the real thing will happen, which will make our families more happy since they will be there.
The staff left for dinner and Spacie and I left to have our own dinner date in style, suit and dress. Now we settled on a Carabbas that was not too far away, more than walking distance. Unfortunately, I should have just taken the van. But we were on a date and I wanted to be driven. But this emphasized why I am a person that is very do it myself
Because I know it's done right. Damn rip off taxi cabs. At what point does Flamingo sound like Charleston.
The food was good, because I was not driving I also had a Cosmopolitan, I've had better, but the food was good. We were going to walk the strip a little when we got back but we had just missed the shuttle and needed to get up early anyhow. So missed some of the Vegas sites. We can go back someday and catch them.
Not a very exciting entry, Wake everyone up, get the money to Chris, who looked about as awake as us, and load the car and go. We had to make pretty good time getting back because need to get the car back to the rental place by 11am on Wednesday. Damn Dollar rental, hate them. Anyhow, we moved pretty fast, slightly less weighed than when we came and stopped a few times for food and breaks and gas. We drove on through the night.
Well, this should have been uneventful, but at about 5:30 am something ran across the road. I was half asleep in the back with Spacie and Aaron was driving, we were not far outside Decatur, Texas. Aaron swears it was a large raccoon, it looked to big to me, but I didn't get a good look before we were swerving and fish tailed, did a 360 and ended up in the grass with a flat tire. No major damage, but it did kind of ruin our schedule. But remember to always get insurance when renting a car, you never know what can happen.
I got the tire off and a cop stopped by to help. Amazing how many people can dial 911 even at that hour in the middle of no where. The part that slowed us down was having to wait till 7am for a tire place to open, since it was too far to keep going on the donut.
So we got it home, unloaded and got it to the rental people as soon as we could. Remember, Always top off the tank before returning, they charge like $5.00 a gallon if it's not full. I was able to get them to not charge the late fees due to the incident. But still had to pay for the gas. >_< $60 for a half tank. @*&^%!
After a nap and some showers we relaxed and Aaron and I played some Halo 2 and my mother brought KFC.
Slept in laaaaaate, and it was nice. We dropped off Spike's art at UPS and attempted to mail out the T-shirts to those that paid for theirs but left the ground bills at the house. Oops. But that's fine I took care of it, later. We had dinner at the Kobe Japanese Grill and sushi. Good food, very short wait and was nice to have a relaxing post con meal. After which we loaded Aaron's Buick Century back up, I put in the new K&N Air filter I bought him and they left for San Antonio.
Thanks once again for another great year and hope to see you in LA
Farewell, my enemies!
I had an early panel with Kathy and Ellen on action writing. I was a tiny bit late getting up so only grabbed a bagel and an apple juice in the Starbucks. To be honest I felt intimidated being on this particular panel. Where the Demona thing was a free for all, this had an out line and I was up front with two very accomplished writers. I kind of felt I had no right telling others how to do things with my very measly credentials.
Despite my personal feelings I tried to do my best and kept my mouth shut more. I think it went over well, there were good questions asked so I was pleased.
I believe I sat at the reg desk some more with Lynati, Nourcumi I believe? and IRC Goliath. There were probably others.
I next ran off for the Portfolio Reviews with David Schwartz. The man is very cool, was glad to have some time with him and have him look my stuff over. He gave some good points and was very constructive in his criticism.
I believe I went down stair and gambled a little more while I waited for auditions, with a quick stop by the Con Suite to see if they were playing the extra video time from last years con, they were not.
The radio play has become something now that I try my best to get in now, because I've now done it three times. It's a lot of fun and a bit of an ego boost every year that I make the cut. I've always been proud of my voice, and if had not done drawing would probably have pursued acting of voice acting. When I entered everyone was laughing, I guess I missed the joke but I can probably guess what it was about. I read Lexington this time and it was apparently good enough, though I stumbled at first, took a breath and got through it
I stuck my head in and caught the end of Flanker's martial arts panel. Flanker looked sharp in his Canadian Army uniform, but that was a different night. Anyhow the fire alarm went off, and we sloooowly started to make our way out since it did not seem like it was going to stop. Followed by shouts of, "Save the cash box!" and "Save the porn!" Thankfully it stopped before we could get the art room locked up.
After the false alarm was the Slave Labor Panel. Very promising things, we can all hope for the best and pimp it as best as possible along with season 2 DVD.
Ran to the buffet for dinner before going back to the main room to watch the charity poker. I never realized Greg W was such a good player. Have to watch those clean cut looking guys.
Took a small break after the game to go gamble some before Hudson's Rant. This is something that is really beyond description. There is just something entertaining about giving this man a microphone and letting him talk about what ever comes to mind.
After much fun and immaturity we went to bed.
Didn't have any reason to get up early so we stayed in our room a little longer. After which grabbed a bite to eat. I played a little Roulette and ran up the escalator on the wrong side to go back and get Lynati's soup and drink but didn't know where she went, forgot what room she was in. I believe I watched the art room some more with Emambu and others both Emambu and myself had to give up the duty to go to radio play rehearsals later that afternoon. I played the part of one Arthur Somes, a nerdy waiter or something in a sleepy California beach town in a romantic comedy series called Doc Shakespeare. The concept seems very interesting, maybe someday they will get it to sell if they have not stopped trying.
I played a little more down stairs one last time while Spacie got ready for Banquet. The food was excellent. Aaron looked damn sharp, as did Flanker and Lynati. Dreamie and Winterwolf had donned their pirate garb earlier and were cute together. No party is complete without pirates! Note of interest was that it was buffet style, I like this better because when we are served you don't get to customize your meal. I just like that better.
Our table was myself, Spacie, Mandi, Gside, Aaron, and Lynati. GregX bounced back and forth and Flanker came by for a chit chat before we had to go get our costumes ready.
Jackal, I actually came up with the idea a while ago, though it would be interesting to combine the dress suit from Her Brother's Keeper and post Upgrade Jackal. The bolo tie was the easiest part, though should have used a more fine brush when painting. The eye and ear cover was the last piece put together but I though the best part, I was proud of how well it held together. The gloves went through several stages. It was my mother, who works on costumes as a hobby, who came up with using the aluminum from cooking pans. I think it worked well, just a bit too fragile, the thumbs fell off early, but still worked well enough. I think if I were to try again I would use something more sturdy as a base. I know the suit was not the same color as HBK, but I really like that suit.
Won some art awards, was really proud of the second place for "Kill David" I really liked that piece. Eventually we got back to our room and some sleep.
THE GATHERING 2005 JOURNAL -- Shannon "Shan" Muir
(abbreviated from the GARGOYLES FANS CONVENTIONS ARCHIVES)
Los Angeles may only be an hour away from Las Vegas by plane, but I needed to make sure not to miss a thing. So, there it was, 4AM and I was packing up last minute things to go. Making sure I had all 16 copies of the ARIA KALSAN anthology that I had at least promised the publisher I'd try to sell and a situation which Winterwolf was gracious to help accomodate me with after my original arrangments fell through. (I would later learn by weighing it at the Southwest counter that the carryon with all those books weighed 25 pounds, a situation I will probably have to reconsider in the future. It was fine... except when I had to lift it in and out of the overhead bins ).
Generally speaking, the trip from apartment to LAX to the Southwest jet to the Las Vegas airport was very smooth. I napped the short flight which gave me just the kick I needed.
Baggage claim was a barrage of sights and sounds tempting you to go to this casino or that show, everything seeming larger than life. And you're trapped there as it takes forever to get your bags. Getting innundated and innundated and innundated... I felt like I was stuck in the middle of a movie set and hoping the director would pop his head out and yell "cut!". Which of course never happened.
After my other suitcase showed up, I went out to where it said the shuttles were but these were the limos. I was directed to where the Palace Station's shuttle should have been at Zero level (I had done some research on the web earlier for both the Palace Station and airport but even that didn't keep me from getting lost). Totally not figuring things out, I go back up a level and find a taxi to take me to Palace Station. What I do not know is that this will immediately wipe out most of my cash on hand, as I expect to be able to use a credit card in a taxi. (I mean, I do it in LA all the time, right?). Las Vegas -- at least the airport taxi services -- are CASH ONLY! Eek! This meant later having to get ATM money from the casino with a fortunately nominal fee attached for the amount I desired. But still. I like planning ahead and being prepared and already things weren't working out.
The upside is that I was way early, got in around 9:30. So I check one bag and take the little one that has the books with me through the casino as I try to figure out where the Gathering is. And then I begin to realize my next mistake. I forgot to ask my physician for Allegra, or even bother to pack my Flonase spray which might have helped (or gotten me busted at the checkpoint?). My sinuses go crazy when I am exposed to smoke for too long periods of time. Nevada, particulary the casinos, are smoking of course, but I have failed to take this into consideration. This mistake comes back to haunt me several times over the course of the Gathering.
I find the area, but no one is there yet, save several other dealers who like me are looking for Winterwolf. Finally we find someone whose face I clearly remember, but whose name I never caught, who is on staff in a security capacity and is kind enough to page Winterwolf down for us. I learn the dealers' room was not set up the night before as I had understood it would be and I agree to come back at 1PM.
I return to the bell desk, check my second bag, and then call my boyfriend back in LA to tell him I arrived just fine. Only during my conversation with him do I realize it is after 10:30AM and I have not even had breakfast. Which also means I'm several hours late on a medication I am supposed to take with breakfast. I regretfully end my call and go eat what actually amounts to an early lunch (the menu had just changed) at the Burger King. After this, I am able to get my room and decide to crash on the bed and nap until going back at 1PM to meet Winterwolf.
About an hour later, there's a knock on the door. I ignore it; I mean, no one's expecting to meet me here. A second knock. So I pull myself out of bed and look through the little hole. It's a bellhop with a tray full of food. I VERY cautiously open the door and say I didn't order room service. He gives a name I don't recognize, though clearly it isn't mine, and tells me it is a GIFT FROM THE MANAGEMENT. I shake my head at him, insisting I am not this person and this is not the right room. He shows me a card, it has that name AND this room number (which based on what I now know I bet was in Courtyard 6th floor, I was Tower 6th Floor). Again he insists this is for me.
Oh, what to do? A person with less integrity might have pretended to be this other person and lied. But I didn't. I absolutely insisted I could not accept something not intended for me and if he could doublecheck I thought it to be for the best, and that I was sorry I could not accept a gift CLEARLY NOT meant for me.
And, after that, having to make sure to tell myself that no, that was not a dream, I went back to sleep until 1PM. Then, putting the books in my MY INNER SUPERHERO bag this time (a personal brand I sell on CafePress to support the FLYING GLORY webcomic), I made my way back across to the casino and dropped off the books. After that came lunch at the buffet known as THE FEAST, since I knew I hoped to see Greg's 3PM pre-Opening ceremonies panel and go on to the Opening Ceremonies themselves.
After a late lunch following registration and a brief hello to Greg, I sat in on Greg's 3PM pre-Opening Ceremonies panel on Animation Writing. Debating on Demona didn't interest me particularly, and I am not a poker fan (though the fact the panel was apparently also tailored for Vegas basics might have been a help, but since I am not a casino or clubber type I had my doubts). Besides, even with my fledgling pro credits, Greg is always fun to hear and a refresher course never hurts. Though I was self-conscious when he pointed me out at one point for not loudly cheering over the mention of his first work on the JEM series.
After that came opening ceremonies, which were fun. I enjoyed the time that the actors who couldn't come put into video and audio greetings to the con -- this included audio greetings from Keith David and Kath Soucie, and video from Ed Asner, Jeff Bennett, Bill Faggerbake, Frank Paur, and Michael Reaves, among others. The gem of the night from this group was Keith David delivering in a complete Goliath voice: "I have been denied everything... even my convention!"
This was followed with a series of videos shown by Greg, some of which have been seen yearly and some of which are new. One was a GARGOYLES pitch that slightly predated the well known one now on the DVD, actually narrated by well known actor and Disney staple Jim Cummings. The other was the hard work of several fans who won a charity auction for the storyboard, voice track, and script to the TEAM ATLANTIS episode "The Last" which has GARGOYLES-related connections, and did their best to assemble the existing material to give a taste of what might have been.
At the end of Opening Ceremonies, I went back for a tiny snack-like dinner at Burger King because the midday feast left me rather filled. After that, given the events of the day, there wasn't anyone inviting me anywhere, and the fact it was too late to get a shuttle to the Strip plus the issue of affording taxi fare back and forth, I called it an early night. I certainly couldn't complain about my no-smoking room floor with working A/C given my apartment doesn't have any back in LA!
Actually, it is incorrect to say I called it an early night. I tried to but found I was too wound up. So after calling my boyfriend and telling him the events of the day, I went down to the Blue Mug A Guest with Greg and Thom, having heard it was no holds barred and didn't know what to expect. Met Chameleongirl there while we were waiting, plus talked to a few others. However, with the Blue Mug being tamer than my expectations, and the fact that due to a combination of a medical condition I have and the medication for it emphasizing I try to get adequate sleep or I can encounter difficulties, I finally really did go up and call it a night just after 11PM.
Saturday began with getting up bright and early for breakfast. Part of this had to do with the fact that I was on one of the first panels of the morning. I was satisfied with the idea of being early and even having a small turnout if people had been up late the night before, but I refused to be late to my own panel! Though unfortunately I was done with breakfast too early and had to figure out how to kill time until I could even get in the room to sit down and prep.
The 10:30AM panel I was on was "From Fan to Pro," showcasing people who began as fans of animation and used those energies to begin building professional careers. The panelists were myself as writer/animation production personnel, and artists Karine Charlebois and Kythera of Anvern (aka Kit). Though I'd emailed both of my fellow panelists they'd been too busy to respond so I didn't know until that morning for sure that they'd made it. Karine and I waited a few minutes while Kit went to grab some samples for people to look at when the discussion was over. We waited a while and since Kit wasn't back yet, we started giving introductions until Kit returned.
The panel attendance was small but highly interested, and I would like to believe that we were able to be of some help, especially after hearing from several people that they felt more motivated and energized afterwards to improve their own art and writing. It is my personal belief that if others don't benefit from my doing panels such as this, it's not worth my time or theirs. When one of my valued mentors passed away quickly and unexpectedly two years ago from lung cancer, and a little over a year ago someone else who was influential in my early career decided to take her own life, I have become almost hypersensitive about the power of "paying it forward," to borrow that phrase popularized by a motion picture. Without these people no longer in my life, I realized what these people had meant, not just as people but what they had taught me. Someday, sometime, death comes to us all, and I'd like to believe that I could in some tiny way make the world -- or at least a few people's personal worlds -- a better place. I admit it's been a few years since I've done a panel of any kind, there's so much demand at Comic-Con I haven't done a panel there since 2001 (same year I was at "From Fan to Pro" at Gathering 2001, BTW). So I'm out of practice and relish opportunities to improve. Like I said, it seemed to go all right.
Anyway, after that I stayed in the same salon room for the next two panels, both of which were Greg-driven. The first was Story Development and Production where he co-hosted with Dave Schwartz. I mainly attended to see what Dave, whom I had never met and wouldn't talk to until Sunday, brought to the party. As Greg pointed out himself at the panel, "and I know Shan knows this..." But there's always benefit of seeing even with people you have heard before if there's just one little nugget of something maybe you just didn't quite catch last time.
Then came Greg and Thom in the voice acting panel. Mainly I was just watching to see how this was the same and how it differed from what we had done in the UCLA extension class Greg co-taught which I was in several years ago. The early exercises were the same, I remember doing the Demona monologue he started out using as something we also used in our class. But the larger group exercises were new material to me. This was why, when I wasn't quite sure Greg had the 10 he needed for the last performance, only then did I speak up. I would have given that a shot if needed to make it happen (I wasn't) but I figure that those for whom this is their closest experience to some of "the biz" should get to have the fun first. Also, those who actually have a chance of auditioning for the radio play. Since I had a panel opposite the radio play rehearsals, this wasn't an option for me even if I wanted to try (I did in Gathering 2001 but wasn't chosen). But I enjoyed watching the others learn and interact. After that came a much needed lunch break.
I got lunch at Burger King (not wanting to risk being held up and not being able to get back to the Creature Comics and Slave Labor Graphics panel), which I think was a good move. Several other attendees who I saw several times but who never actually introduced themselves so I remember faces but not names (!) asked some questions and also sought some advice. Questions ranged from my position on INVADER ZIM's short lived second season to more general career advice.
Still had time to kill after lunch, so wandered and waited a little. No gaming for me to kill time, though I'm certaintly of age. Having student loan payments kick in, plus knowing I'd be out of a job in a few weeks, makes me really hesitant to spend money in general.
Soon the panel got underway. It featured Dan Vado, head of Slave Labor Graphics, plus Greg Weisman and Marty Lund (the fan who kept believing in the impossible until it was possible, something which resonates with me a lot personally). Dan showed and walked through the SLG/Disney pitch reel of all the properties they are partnering on (HAUNTED MANSION with Roman Dirge, hopefully launching in October, as well as TRON, WONDERLAND, and of course GARGOYLES). Couldn't say too much about the comic yet as the deal was just signed, but it was a good chance to get to know more about the company and the partnership making this possible.
After that came the Charity Poker Tournament, but as much as I like gaming (I own a PS2 though due to my health I have to watch my gameplay hours, I am a 2nd generation PBM gamer, have not played MAGIC THE GATHERING much but often win when I do for reasons I can't explain, and I am known to be fierce at Yatzee) serious card games are not my strong suit -- please pardon pun -- though it would seem to me similar skills of logic and strategy would be relevant.
In a way this was convenient because I had never been to Las Vegas before and it provided the perfect opportunity to at least do a whirlwind tour of The Strip. I knew I wouldn't get to see everything, but my friend Monique said the Bellagio and the Venetian were must sees. I did one better and also got a fairly extensive look at Paris Las Vegas, but that was in part because it was the route to and from the monorail station.
Since we (myself and a few other folks from the hotel) had just missed the 6PM shuttle to the strip, and again I'm trying to save money, I have to hang around for an hour for the 7PM one. I get a bottle of water at the gift shop and drink it outside to get used to being in the heat. Greg Weisman passes me not once but twice in this 40 minute period. Finally the shuttle arrives at 7 and I take a four hour trip about the strip, but don't see anyone from the Con. I make it back for a very late Subway sandwich dinner after 11PM.
This day began by sleeping in after the adventures of the evening before, getting up for a late brunch (knowing I won't eat again before the banquet), and then actually lying down in bed again. This was OK as none of the first panels were really up my alley, they were all art-focused. The main focus of my day is that I know I have to be up and alert for the Webcomics panel at 3PM, where I am scheduled to discuss the writing and business side of running FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY.
About 11:30 am I get out of bed for good, deciding that I will go to the Dan Vado Mug-a-Guest. Not until I looked at my literature getting home did I realize I was supposed to sign up for it, so technically I broke the rules here (sorry Con staff). But signup for the Blue Mug didn't seem to be required and I just went there, so I didn't know any better. Anyway, the chart says that the Mug a Guest is in the Con Suite, so I go there. Aaron in the Con Suite (at least, I'm fairly sure it was Aaron I saw that morning) says it is in the Event Suite at the other end of the hall, though this confuses me because the chart says Life Drawing is in there. So I go to the Event Suite just as the Dave Schwartz mug clears out and stake a seat to see Dan Vado. They sort things out and Life Drawing moves to the Con Suite.
In the end, there are only four of us in a very engaged conversation. After talking to Dan briefly because of our commonality of working with Jhonen Vasquez, I largely sit back and listen as others field many of the questions I would have. When it gets down toward the end, I finally do ask the several questions on my mind that haven't come up yet, but manage to twist them both so they don't come out quite right Luckily Dan figured out my meaning and compensated with the appropriate answer, emphasizing that while he wouldn't want people to buy comics that don't interest them, letting people know about the other titles coming out before GARGOYLES when you know these will interest folks and legitimately getting their long-term sales up (in other words, DO NOT go buy issues just to inflate the numbers) is definitely in our vested interest. Like there's a guy I work with who is totally into Roman Dirge like stuff, so I should tell him about HAUNTED MANSION to make sure he knows, though I suspect he does already never hurts to check. Stuff like that. Dan made a very good Mug-A-Guest and if he comes back to represent SLG at LA, consider seeing if he'll be available again. And I promise not to crash this time.
After that, I stayed around for Greg's panel on W.I.T.C.H., that it seems had a much higher interest than they were prepared for in that small conference room. When it turned out the VCR wasn't working, we all uprooted back over to the Con suite and took it over since it had a working VCR. Greg showed the original animatic pilot for W.I.T.C.H. that varies significantly in some ways from the first episode made, and told about how the show went through various producers as it found the direction Disney wanted. He hinted as some of Season 2, such as insisting Thom would be heard as "Sammy the Calculator" (and yes he really is a calculator), nothing deep and detailed was revealed yet. Season 2 can start no earlier than January 2006, but Disney could hold over until the Fall... not an uncommon practice these days.
After this, I went to the lobby for the restroom and to grab a bottled water before the Webcomics panel back up in the Event Suite on 3rd floor. With it being opposite Radio Play auditions, I wasn't expecting many people but that was fine with me.
With hardly any time to spare, I went back to the 3rd floor... and discover the door to the Event Suite is locked! My best guess here is that when we traded rooms for the W.I.T.C.H. panel someone closed the door behind them, or perhaps Housekeeping did (it was being braced open by keeping the security latch in a certain position).
One other person shows up at that moment looking for the Webcomics panel. We quickly race to the Con Suite down the hall hoping against hope there is a staff member there. No luck. (Suggestion to future Con Staffs: in a case like this where events are taking place some distance apart, there should be someone at least regularly available in each area, and in this case the Con Suite seemed the logical place to find such a person. I mean, what if there had been a major emergency?).
Now a quick decision must be made. Neither Eden nor Silver (my fellow panelists) have arrived yet. So myself or the other person I don't know needs to go down, through the casino, and up to the Event Salons to see if there are Con Staff there, with no guarantee we'll find anyone. I decide as a panelist it is *my* responsibility to go get the key, and ask the other interested person to hang tight and let people know the panel is indeed here and I'm coming back with the key. After all I gave up a shot at the Radio Play to do this panel, I'm not just giving up without a fight!
With that, I made a mad walking dash across the casino, fortunately I have a pretty wide stride so I don't have to be running through the casino. I walked up the escalator and employ the same fast walk up to the Registration table, where I requested (possibly bordering on demanded, it's hard to tell in hindsight): "I need someone on staff with keys to 3010, now" with 3010 being the room number of the Event Suite. To the Registration's table's credit, they find me Aaron VERY quickly and we make it back to get the door open. (Aaron, again, thank you!)
Silver and a few other interested people are in the hall outside the door when Aaron and I arrive, but no sign of Eden. Carol (whom I met when we both took Greg's class a few years ago, and is on Con staff) shows up and asks if we need anything more while Silver sets her art out on the conference table. I politely tell Carol that if she could track down Eden, as the panel was her idea, would be nice.
Silver and I wait a few more moments but no Eden, so we get started, and Eden does eventually find us (and Carol, thanks for checking one more time to make sure we had everything we needed). Since Silver launched off the panel, everything kind of winds up flowing under her. My normal style is usually starting off with intro, then a few structured questions to break the ice, then ask the audience for Q&A. In both cases at the Gathering the panels wound up being total Q&A with the audience, or at least that was the intended structure. We did not get a lot of questions at this panel which meant the three of us wound up talking more about ourselves and bouncing off one another with people listening. While I enjoyed what we did and do believe we were informative, I just felt like we weren't interacting enough with the audience. Whether they just didn't have the questions, or somehow we just weren't giving them the breathers they needed to ask the questions, I don't know. Part of it may be that our comics and approaches to artwork and story development are so diverse.
After the Webcomics panel came the Radio Play. Unfortunately I got pegged with a combination of heavy cigar smoke followed by the smell of cleaning products on the way to the Salons and this would create a nasty little headache combination I could not shake for hours.
The Radio Play was very interesting and I was very sorry I couldn't audition given the subject matter. I don't know how much we can legally share, so suffice it to say it was for an hour live-action show pilot Greg co-wrote that has more than a little roots in classical literature As a broadcasting/English/communications major, I couldn't help but appreciate this. Though I might have enjoyed it more without the headache, and there were some things that still weren't clear about character relationships and motivations afterwards, but overall it was enjoyable. I understand there's some fandom humor about Jennifer/"CrzyDemona" playing a more than flirtatious woman with attitude, as her lines definitely got the most response out of any, though many people did good acting jobs.
After that came the Banquet, where we wound up standing outside a while to get in and then it was unclear where to sit, apparently it was open seating and then open buffet. Each seat had a lit gargoyle (not Disney type, generic gargoyle) candle in front of it, and at one point before food was served we were asked to look under the candles and not spill the wax. Some people had little colored stars on the bottom of theirs which signify different things. The first one involved locating the gold stars to sit next to special guests.
So I look, expecting nothing. But it looks like there is something there, so I strain harder forgetting there are fairly low holes in my candle holder design and pour wax all over my finger After dealing with that, I try again. I have a little star on the bottom of my candle holder. It is green. There is one blue star at each table, these folks are told they get to keep the gargoyle table centerpieces.
Then we are informed green and silver stars wait until after dinner. Ack. The suspense must wait.
Dinner consists of salad, rice, veggies, and then a choice of eggplant parmesan, chicken, or roast sirloin. I take the roast sirloin because the chicken doesn't thrill me and I am not a fan of eggplant as a main course, though I will eat it. My table is fairly quiet throughout dinner (we weren't full to begin with) so there's not a lot of conversation to be had there. Not that I mind, my head and sinuses are still hurting up a storm from smoke and cleaner irritation so I don't feel like talking all that much. Toward the end of dinner someone (Marina I think?) ascertains that I'm from LA and I find out she's relatively nearby...
And then Chris Rogers cuts back in to announce about those little green and silver stars. First the green ones, which includes me. Chris announces there are only FOUR green stars, which I think made this the rarest item of the night. Turns out they have four vintage (eep? Do I dare say vintage?) Gargoyles puzzle cubes manufactured by Applause, still sealed. And one of them winds up in my little hands. The silver star folks, of which I think there were less than one per table but more than four, get customized pen and pencil sets commemorating G2005 which actually look very nice but in my case would only end up in a drawer as you don't usually find things like that in a Production Coordinator's cubicle (now if I get a promotion to Production Manager in my next job somewhere and actually get an office, that's aother story ).
This is where I am kind of glad there was no dinner based Q&A, because at this point I honestly feel like my head is going to explode. I don't do cosplay or masquerade, but I really did want to see the ceremony this time out because I didn't in Gathering 2001 Los Angeles. There aren't many people here that know me really well, but I seek out one of these people and just let them know where I'm going and how I feel, with my intent to be back down later if I can shake the stupid headache. As I later told this person, I just felt the need to be accountable to someone because if things had gone for the worse, being around a lot of people who don't know me really well, who would notice that I was missing? This is the biggest downside of coming to one of these things on your own.
I go upstairs, take both my normal prescription meds plus the last ibuprofen I have on hand, and lie down for an hour. This, probably in addition to finally getting my 2nd meal of the day, does the trick to where things are at least liveable.
So I come back to the area where it is to be held, but they are not ready to seat yet. One person (CKayote, who I actually spoke to before but wasn't introduced until this point, which is why I didn't remember until now) is thinking of doing some fanfic but is wrestling with issues, so I take him through some general pointers surrounding his issue. While I have no aversion to fanfiction per se, after all technically the stories that first got me noticed by the VOLTRON staff 20 (!!!!) years ago can be considered such as they weren't solicited premises, like Greg and other pros I know I generally steer clear of it simply because I never know if these shows might be revived and I be able to compete for a chance to actually write for them -- so I don't want to influence myself. That said, I know my chances are next to none with Gargoyles but it's still a general personal principle.
We get ready to watch the parade of costumes, after being one of the latecomers to the dessert table (which was saved until then) and being put under more than a little pressure to get out of the way and sit down so things could get started. Sorry. But with people swarming like vultures (others' words at the time, not mine though I can think of no laternate imagery) early on, I tend to wait until things calm down. I'm sitting at the table with Silver, Lizzo, and their Mom, and Silver became my guide to answering questions about cosplay, masquerade, and related things. Thank you, Silver, for filling in the gaps and for all your help throughout the Gathering.
I'm not even going to try and run down the Awards ceremony in detail because there was so mucht to take in. There were costume awards, the Clan Olympics awards, annoucing the winners of the celebrity poker tournament, and stuff like that. I'm sure others can handle this with the correct detail it deserves. After that, it all came to a close. I took a few minutes to at least introduce myself to Dave Schwartz, especially because his name seems to ring a bell from my time at Sony. I do learn we were at Sony at the same time in the middle to late 90s but on different projects.
I heard normally they do fun stuff afterwards, but I'm guessing with the Strip practically outside our door, that constituted the "fun stuff" and I'd already had my fill of that. So I found myself with nothing to do.
I considered wandering back to my room -- not like I couldn't have used it -- but then I realized how early it was and there had to be SOMETHING going on! So I went back. Which was good. I saw people talking in one room but there was activity in the smaller room, twopeople moving chairs. One was the fellow who helped me twice by locating Winterwolf and Aaron when I needed them (don't know name at all, sorry) and when he saw me coming I can't help but wonder if he questioned what I wanted this time from him. But that wasn't it at all. No, this time I poked my head in and asked three little words: "Can I help?"
It's amazing what absolute boredom can drive you do to, for the good mind you. With no idea what was going on, I found they needed chairs moved to set up for something. Though I can only lift one at a time, I just pitched right in and tried my best. I would then finally meet and talk to the other person in the room, whom I had just seen at the Ceremonies but never talked to before... Brother Abe. Apparently there was a game he normally would have done at the Clan Olympics but was unable to fit in this year, so he was adapting it for individual play to offer a group game alternative to those who weren't into the casinos. I believe the name was "Shot in the Dark," basically he set up cardboard targets on chairs people would then through little plastic balls with tentacles at to try and score points, all in a dimly lit room. I tried twice, scoring 75 points the first time but nothing the second time (more accurately, I had 10 points then hit the target again which takes those points back). By this point my arm was not happy with me, probably from lifting chairs, so I checked the other room. People were STILL talking! Greg was with a bunch of people at one table, and Dave at another.
I saw Carol with Dave so sat next to her, we caught up as I haven't seen her since the 2001 Gathering. Spoke to Dave a little more, though find my subject matter becoming more self-absorbed as I clearly am crossing the line into very tired. But I don't want to leave. This is important as people with seizure disorders (I don't technically have epilepsy but I have to follow a lot of the same rules, such as limited exposure to strobe lights, which REALLY limited what I could do in Vegas as the stage shows love those things) are supposed to get decent amounts of sleep to reduce their risks. So I stay a while longer, but finally at 1AM I have to sadly throw in the towel and try to go to bed.
But wouldn't you know it, something writing-related finally clicks with me after I get back to my room and I'm up writing notes... until 2AM. I know I'm going to be paying for this Monday morning. Oh wait, it *IS* Monday morning!
Monday I decided to go easy on myself. Other than wanting to hear Greg talk about Original Properties at noon, and needing to pick up the ARIA KALSAN books when the dealers' room closed at 1:30, there wasn't anything that was a must for the day.
Anyway, I slowly managed to pack up my room, do video checkout, have my bags checked at the bell desk, and grab breakfast at the buffet (where I am seated a couple of tables down from Greg X and two others I don't recognize, Greg X is hard to miss in the coat he wears). After that I sit down and watch the end of "Win Xanatos' Money" just to get a sense of how it is structured and people's enthusiasm towards it. I feel safe since I haven't read any of the fan fiction that I can more observe people's enthusiasm towards it, and how they structure the game. However, at one point Allaine starts going around calling on members of the audience, which leads to an awkward moment where I have to tell him I don't read the fanfic and would be guessing. I'm afraid I insulted him, but like I said before, I have my reasons not to though I certaintly won't stand in the way of others.
Greg's panel on original properties is interesting. Due to some time needed to get the A/V set back up, we first start out discussing some behind the scenes of the live-action pilot done as the radio play and the how and why of his being partnered with another writer, along with the true history that then inspired the pilot. With the A/V then set up, we switched over to watching two color animatics (or, leica reels if you prefer, though the only time I've ever heard that term is when Greg uses it -- like his calling "Main Model Pack" a "999 pack" which I never heard before Gathering 2005). Both are pitches for a similar genre of show, though distinctly different in plot, done with two different levels of detail. I understand one of them was shown at a New York Gathering before in a slightly different form (it's the one Greg and Vic Cook worked on), and the other was shown for the first time (which is development done in conjunction with a studio). There were a couple moments due to the nature of the properties I found myself breathing a sigh of relief because Kevin Paul Shaw Broden and I are personally developing similar work in this vein but there were aspects that appeared in these that we had rejected which means we are now less similar to these two. Also, our development by necessity can't target the same demographic so all is well there. That was my biggest worry and risk in sitting in on this is that I didn't know what Greg would show or talk about, but I did want to see if there was anything he'd share I didn't already know. There were definitely a few things I walked away with, so that was good.
After that, it was next door to the dealers' room to pick up the ARIA KALSAN books from Winterwolf. I knew they hadn't really sold, so I was expecting to pick them all back up. But when I came to the counter, one weas missing! Winterwolf let me know that they did end up selling one, which made me very happy (thanks JEB!) because it felt like a nice reward for wheeling those 25 pounds of books everywhere and lifting them up and down out of the overhead compartments. Partially, though, having them there justified the trip as a business expense for promotion as a freelance writer.
So, with all the books back in my MY INNER SUPERHERO bag and a tad heavy that way until I can get them back into the luggage, I seek out Greg Weisman just to say goodbye because I know he's got to be hanging around for the auctions and guest signing that are about to start. But for me, between trying to drastically clean out and rearrange my apartment, and knowing I'll be unemployed soon enough, spending more money is not what I ought to be doing.
From there I grab lunch at the Mexican restaurant in the Palace Station, which was OK but mainly I wanted something different since I'd either been at the Feast or Burger King (save the one stop at Subway) the whole time. At 3PM, myself and a couple of others who are heading home from the Con get on the FREE Airport Shuttle -- I'm relieved to not be paying for a taxi again after all! -- and get dropped off at the airport.
Now bear in mind, my flight actually was scheduled to leave at 7:50 PM. But I didn't want to get so tied up in the Closing Ceremonies that I didn't leave when I should, and I also wanted to allow time for dinner in the airport and stuff like that since Southwest doesn't do meals on their flights. However, being on the 3PM shuttle gets me there 30 MINUTES EARLY TO EVEN CHECK IN! Oops. Fortunately, they let me wait inside near the ticket counters and right to the minute of 4 hours before flight time I go check in.
It's not a bad 4 hours in the airport, mind you. I do casually find some dinner, spend some time listening to my iPod, even (since my Blackberry ran too low on power) buy a little Internet kiosk time to check my email even in my work box and find out what I've missed and let my bosses know what good a time I've had. No complaints. Even getting on the plane is easy, it all seems a breeze.
Until we're going down the runway and all of a sudden the plane stops. We're being told that there is hold for us leaving for LA with no estimated time of departure. Turns out there were lightning storms that were backing up traffic to LAX and so they held us on the tarmac for AN HOUR. We essentially left when we would have landed.
Despite it all got home shortly before midnight and worked my way to bed. After all, there was Production Coordinator work to go back to in the morning, and find out what day I was getting laid off from the show (August 19th). Now I'm busy wrapping things up and packing up the production offices, and putting out feelers on where to go next. Like we were talking about on the "From Fan to Pro" panel, things can be feast or famine in the animation business but you have to learn to be flexible and go with the flow. I just know I wouldn't give up being around animation for the world, as a fan or as a pro. And that includes things like Gathering 2005.
Shannon "Shan" Muir
Farewell, my enemies!
Journal Thingy... Part 4 - The Head Cold Edition
So, I missplaced my copy of the schedual, and I'm suffering from a horrible head cold. But, I'm finishing this, before I really forget everything.
Sunday, July 31st
So, I woke up early and went down to the Eye of Odin Anthology signing. It felt weird being on the other side of the table for an autograph signing, but I enjoyed it. That being said, a big shout out to Christine for editing it, and I'm sorry she wasn't present for the signing. She did a great job putting it all together. So, kudos.
After the signing, I think some of us got a little bit of food from Subways'. Chicken Teryaki sandwich with jalepenas is a good combo.
Greg Weisman showed up soon with his wife and kids Erin and Ben. Both the kids are showing an incredible amount of talent at their young ages, but considering their genetics, that is hardly surprising. I hope they keep it up.
Mostly hung around chatting with people, then went to this year's Radio Play. Really good, pilot episode for a series that Greg has yet to sell, but I hope he one day does, it was fun. Lots of nudity in the script ;)
After that, went back upstairs to shower and change for the banquet... this year I wore a suit and tie for the banquet, food was good, great company. Flanker was wearing his dress uniform, Aaron was also wearing a suit, and Lynati looked good in her dress and had this really cool looking necklace.
Afterwards, the wait between for the Masquerade, and no, I didn't pull anything together, I need to lose fifty pounds before I ever try it. I'm on a serious diet now, so, maybe next year. I doubt it though. But considering, I was already wearing a black suit and have a goatee and ponytail, I could have just entered as David Xanatos.
Costumes this year were great. Cindy was awesome as the Banshee, Revel rocked as Jackal, Greg's kids pulled Holly and Goliath together really well. It was all good.
After that, mostly hung out with people, watched Tony French Thom... to Andrea's delight I'm sure. Already it's Jen's LJ icon ;). Finally, I had to call it a night. It was 1am, and I was still on New York time (so, it felt closer to 4 am), and I wanted to get out of that suit.
Still, what a night. Great company, lots of fun ;)
Monday, August 1st
The last day. Went and had breakfast, hung out in the art room, then it was time for the auction, where I walked away with a Demona t-shirt. I really wanted a copy of Greg's script for Doc Shakespeare, but I was outbid. I just couldn't justify spending more than $150 on it, but I wanted it. Finally, it was time for Closing Ceremonies. Which is always, always bitter sweet.
The con may have been over, but not my fun. Had lunch with JEB at Subways, went upstairs to get ready, because a group of us were going to go see Penn and Teller at the Rio. Lots of fun, a limo was rented, and we went.
Penn and Teller was... I dunno, I expected more from a world famous Vegas show. It was okay, not great. But afterwards, we all went and got plastered till 1 am, then the limo picked us up... with complimentary champaign (yay, more alcohol!), and we came back and hung around the con suite for a bit.
Afterwards, time to call it a night. Aaron walked to my room with me, where we discussed the con, next year, and the fandom as a whole. Basically, fandom is the best extended family on the planet.
Said good night to Aaron and I crashed. Overall, a good day, but I was bummed for missing Revel and Spacie's ceremony.
Tuesday, August 2nd
Got up, and checked out. Was hoping to see Greg and say good bye to him, but he had already checked out. Aaron, Revel, Spacie and Lynati were already gone. Saw a few people, but everyone was gone or leaving. Then Jen, Cindy and a group of people showed up looking for breakfast... I really wanted to go, but my shuttle was leaving in a few minutes. But it was nice to have friendly faces around before I left.
So, I went to the airport, got on my plane, and came home.
And that was my summer vacation.
This year's con was great. I loved every moment of it. And I loved every moment I was in Las Vegas. I left quite a bit out, but Vegas was a terrific location, and a beautiful city. I love casinos. I hope to go back some time.
Big, big thanks to the con staff, they did great. I have no complaints about this year's con. None whatsoever... well, I'm still bummed Mara couldn't make it. But Chris, Kathy, Aaron, Lanny, Seth, Lynati, Abe, Hudson and everyone did a great job.
I'm sorry if I left out or forgot anyone, but right now I'm suffering from a horrible head cold.
Gathering 2006 cannot get here fast enough.
Farewell, my enemies!
Road trip 2005/Gathering Las Vegas
Also known as "I hate giant raccoons"
It was a great con, so to begin with I want to thank all the staff and guest, and everyone that could make it to make it a great con. Lynati and Aaron arrived from San Antonio on Tuesday July 26th for the beginning of the road trip. As many know Mara was unable to make it due to her brother's wedding, ironically, we were not sure if she would actually fit in the van after it was loaded down with personal and convention materials. Barely leaving enough room for four.
Our mode of transportation this year was a rental, good thing too, but I'll get to that later. A Dodge Grand Caravan. Now personally, I hate minivans, but I have to admit, it was a pretty sweet ride. Had lots of room that we needed, floor cargo places I called the Moonshinner bins, since they were hidden in the floor, but best of all was the dual CD and cassette deck with radio controls on the steering wheel.
Unfortunately we had to wait an hour, even though it had been reserved days in advanced to get the damn thing. I started to think Dollar had lost our vehicle. We left Wednesday afternoon and made decent time, not in any hurry since the rooms were not available till 3 pm on Thursday.
The trip to Vegas was without incident, long, and filled with conversation. We did stop at the Hoover Dam and snagged a few pictures, since we were not in a rush. The water was apparently at a record low with exposed rock that had not seen light since the dam had been built. Plus there was quite a bit of construction, they are building a bypass for the trucks so the can still get through but without going over the dam.
We were able to find the Hotel and arrived about 1pm local time.
After getting the van unloaded in the Con Suite I sat around tired and chatted with Emambu who had a flight that took him across country and back again. Driving may not seem like a particularly difficult thing to do physically, but it can be very wearing. I'd actually recommend planned over night stops if you can, or at least make an attempt at sleeping, but I don't sleep well in cars, never have, but I did get more this time than I did last year.
So, Spacie and I checked into our room and I took a nap till she came back to get me for dinner. Emambu, Spacie, and I ate at the Guadalajara, we had seen the sign that said the Café was closed for the weekend and made the mistake assumption that it was the feast buffet, which I apologize to those on staff I made panic. I was quite pleased with the food throughout the hotel, I honestly did not have one bad meal and the prices were reasonable.
After dinner we hung out in the con suite pretty much the rest of the evening, getting to hear about Greg Weisman's perilous flight and delay in Ontario, California. What I really like about Greg is how he really is not a celebrity, I mean he is important to us, but he is also one of us, a fan of things, just another guy. How we can sit and talk about movies and comics, have a fun and passionate review and discussion of things we like or dislike. Bed came soon after.
We were on the 7th floor, and given Las Vegas's higher altitude the sun rises much earlier than I am use to, like blinding through the window at 6:30 in the morning. Though the impromptu wake up was good because we discovered the alarm clock had been disabled due to a power outage earlier that evening. Glad I was not on a slot or video poker.
Yes, I did gamble a little, I thought it would have just been wrong to go to Las Vegas, the Mecca of gambling of the western world and not at least try my luck a little. I can understand how people can get addicted, when you are up it's like being high and when you are down you want to get up again. I always recommend gambling with someone who can tell you when to stop and you will listen to.
After breakfast at the Buffet and a little help at the registration desk I helped set up the art panels. Because of the very tall panels almost no one understood that Dreamie's idea was that two purchased panels were stacked atop one another. Even I didn't know at first. I got to share space with Liz(Sara Berkley), which I think was a bonus for me because her work was absolutely fabulous. One piece sold and got awards for two others. Plus Liz gave me compliments on the t-shirt which was appreciated and many loved the Kill David that I put a lot of time into, idea courtesy of Greg X Bishansky.
Spacie and I had a panel where we moderated the discussion of who is Demona and why. Honestly I had no game plan, as those who attended probably noticed, but I think everyone had a good time, I did some of my usual sarcasm and cracked jokes to keep the discussion fun so hope everyone had a good time.
I think we caught some dinner at some point after that and enjoyed Opening Ceremonies including the story board animated "The Last" and all the videos. One day, I would like to see the video with the Power of One music played with a stereo that has the kind of bass Greg always describes. Lots of good news came our way, including season 2 or half of it, and the comic as a sure thing. So things are looking up in the Gargoyles fandom, we've kept the faith now we just need to reintroduce those that forgot.
The Blue Mug a Guest was more blue this year, but that was my goal. Mwhaha! Not going to say what was asked, if you wanted to know you should have came. But if was fun. Again we love Greg and Thom because they are one of us.
To be continued
I've been looking for you!
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 4, and the Day After
August 1, 2005
Got up, got yet another cinnamon scone and headed for the con area, passing Thom Adcox en route. I sat outside the con area and ate, saying goodbye to A Fan and Mandolin as they passed by. I went to the room for the Creating Original Properties panel, but left before it started to go back to the Dealer's Room/Art Show. I bumped into Greg B. again, and bought the Aria Kalsan Anthology for the heck of it. Then, I went back to the panel.
At the Creating Original Properties, Greg covered a little of the same ground he'd covered in the Series Development and Production, but with an focus on the Development and Sale steps. First, he talked about Doc Shakespeare's real-world historical roots, and his attempt to sell it to Jonathan Frakes' production company. (Lesson one: 90% of what happens in this business is failing to sell things.) Greg and the others decided that Doc Shakespeare- which he described as Northern Exposure with a supernatural twist- was so "out there" of a concept that it'd do best with a pilot script. Unfortunately, even that didn't succeed.
Greg also showed two pitches for shows he was working on, one of which we saw before (in slightly different form) at the 2003 Gathering. I think both have potential. After that, the floor opened to questions:
- Using copyrighted material, such as music, is fine for pitches, which are never seen by the public, but not for broadcast (for obvious reasons).
- Greg and Michael Reaves wrote the first script treatment for the Gargoyles movie, but walked away from the project when the company owners started making too many changes.
- Animated series with adult characters are very hard to sell, because execs want to have characters they think kids can relate to- i.e. kids or teens. The exception is for "marquee characters" like Batman. This has to do more with the executives' personal comfort levels, rather than any actual aspects of the audience.
- Greg doesn't think much of focus tests. Focus testing is done, he believed, to soothe execs' worries more than anything else. An example- test audiences disliked Demona, resulting in requests to de-emphasize the character- but the execs missed the point that she was the villain, who isn't supposed to be liked! Another example- Kim Possible didn't get greenlighted until it passed three focus tests in different regions of the country.
- Selling shows internationally is difficult simply due to the expense of travel- particularly as pitches are usually done on spec.
During the panel, Thom stopped by to say goodbye to Greg, and the audience, with waves and hugs. After the panel, the lot of us went to the Dealer's Room. I looked over an additional set of production art, from "Avalon" and "Eye of the Storm." It was interesting to see such design misconceptions from "Eye" as a cyclops-Odin-bear and handcuffs on the stone Angela and Bronx. Following a brief chat with Garrett, I joined the crowd for the auction. Greg won an auction for his son uncontested (who was gonna bid against Greg?). I almost won the Xanatos Roadster- complete with business-suited Xanatos- that I had an incomplete version of, but I didn't realize I'd been outbid and lost it. (As the auction continued, Greg signed autographs- the line ended before the auction did.)
With the bidding finished, I made another pass of the Dealer's Room, and paged through the SLG sample comic. (I may have to get the Bill and Ted collections.) Returning to the auction area and waiting for Closing Ceremonies, I paged through Aria Kalsan, signed Dennis Woodyard's card (he was unable to attend for medical reasons) and made small talk. As the Closing proceeded, Chris Rogers announced his intention to bring a future Gathering back to Vegas. He and Greg Weisman plugged G2K6, and Greg thanked the con staff and we fans.
I wandered a bit, then had Subway dinner and hung out with Greg Bishansky, talking about Gargoyles, the fandom, past Gatherings, comic books and TV shows, etc. Around 7 p.m. he had to get ready for Penn and Teller, so I returned to the largely abandoned con suite. (Unsurprising since the con was officially over.) Only a fellow with a top hat and a guy who turned out to be Fusion Demon's dad were there. With nothing else to do, I settled down to wait for the night. I had an opportunity to go to Penn and Teller with the con staff, but I decided against it.
A few people came in, and we watched the playing of a curious game called Katamari Dynasty. Eventually, however, trudged off to bed, reading a bit more of Eye of Odin first.
August 2, 2005
Not really the Gathering anymore. After getting my last cinnamon scone, I went to see if the Con Suite was still open- it was closed and the sign was gone. I gambled and lost $10 (thus reminding me why I don't gamble). I checked out, waited for the shuttle (and read more Eye of Odin), and saw my last vestige of the con in a fellow passenger to the airport, Tiphini Three.
And thus was the Gathering over! I look forward to the L.A. con! (But next time, I'm going to factor in some more tourism.)
Farewell, my enemies!
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 3
July 31, 2005
I woke up in time for the Eye of Odin signing, but fell back asleep. Woke up again about two hours later and got myself a Starbucks chicken caesar salad (I figured after two days of scones and Burger King, I owed my stomach something a little healthier). Took the salad with me to the con area, where I registered for Gathering 2006 (I will get to Los Angeles), sat down and ate it, then wandered... before sitting next to the con registration table. Talked with Greg B. for a while about politics and other matters, before leaving to find the Webcomics panel. I couldn't find it- it'd moved to make way for banquet preparations- but fortunately Garrett was going there, so I followed him.
The Webcomics panel featured Shan (of Flying Glory and the Hounds of Glory), Silver (of Ravenwood) and Eden (of Naomi Lewis: Demon Hunter). They had a lot to say, albeit in a sort of disorganized fashion (which, I thought, worked well for the panel). First the gave an overview of webcomics in general. One particular point they made early is that webcomics require a lot of self-discipline (you have to be your own biggest fan, they noted) and that they don't tend to make a lot of money- although certain comics have tried ways to change that (paid access, etc.). In webcomics, it's also true that popularity does not mean your work will be seen as quality.
When making a webcomic, they advised that you make sure your art style matches your story style, and that you need to figure out what your target audience will be. You also need to really, really want to tell your story- you can't just make the webcomic to get attention. You should be absolutely immersed in your universe- if you can sprinkle your stories with the minutest of details, they really give your world a sense of depth. You should have an idea where your story's going, but don't give away all your secrets- and keep in mind that stories sometimes take on a life of their own. They recommended you make a journal, and just write down every idea for a scene, an action sequence, or dialogue that comes to mind. And if you even suspect your story might resemble something pre-existing, check it out to make sure- that way you can tweak your idea to avoid accidental copying.
There are several ways to host webcomics- services like Keenspace (which they advised should be avoided), on blogs, making your own site or using a friend's. You should have a good idea about your skill level, which will tell you how large your individual installments oughtta be and how often you should update- in general, though, more frequent updates should be smaller and less frequent updates larger. It's also good to have someone as an editor or sounding board, to give you different opinions on your work.
The webcomic panel ended, and so I satisfied my newfound love for cinnamon scones by buying yet another, before going to the Radio Play- Doc Shakespeare. Looks like it would have been a neat series, with all sorts of subtle and not-so-subtle Shakespearean and literary references, plus a touch of magic. Too bad it didn't get picked up. The actors all did a great job- very entertaining!
While most of the crowd scattered, Garrett, his friend Ed and I waited for the banquet to open up. A half hour of waiting ensued, during which I looked at parts of Garrett's cool RPG wiki, before they let us in.
I sat at a table with two groups- Echo and her parents or grandparents, and Tumiaus and her father. Tumiaus and Echo's relatives seemed slightly off in the setting, but we made nice small talk. As a nice touch, there was a tiny gargoyle candle at each of our places at the table. Our table might have jumped the gun a bit in getting food (I guess they were particularly hungry), but no one seemed to mind. The banquet was good- I had a scoop of caesar salad, a scoop of rice, some sort of beef and a dinner roll. (In retrospect, I suspect I should have gotten myself more. But oh well.) We found out, too late, that we had a gold star on one of our gargoylettes, indicating that we should have gotten a guest. Tumiaus' dad got a blue star, so Tumiaus got to keep the larger gargoyle statuette in the middle of the table.
Eventually, Echo and her family left so she could get dressed for the Masquerade. Tumiaus and her Dad stayed a while longer, before leaving as well (they had a plane to catch that evening). Strangely, there never was a Q & A- maybe because the guests sat among the attendees? Our table had some extra gargoylettes, so I handed them out to people as the lot of us left. As I headed out, I ran into Greg B., and we talked about the upcoming comic and pondered the implication of a third season as Greg Weisman intended. We were joined by Gside, then Darklord, before we all headed back to our rooms. I read the first two stories in Eye of Odin, then returned to see the Masquerade.
While waiting for the Masquerade, I wound up shorting myself on dessert again- I got one slice of cake, while it seemed everyone else got multiple. I guess I need to be greedier. A bit late, the parade of costumes began. Some of the more memorable ones included Shara as Future Tense Brooklyn; the Weisman kids as Ali (Erin) and Goliath (Benny); Eden as Banshee; Onyx (whose wings were at the cleaners, according to his sign), Revel as Jackal, Noel Leas as the Werefox, and Echo as Azure (with intricate wings!).
The winners were:
1st Prize Canon, Junior: Benny Weisman as Goliath
1st Prize Noncanon, Junior: Erin as Ali
1st Prize Cosplay, Junior: Fusion Demon as Fusion
1st Prize Canon: Eden as Banshee
2nd Prize Canon: Revel as Jackal
1st Prize Noncanon: Onyx as Onyx
2nd Prize Noncanon: Echo as Azure
1st Prize Cosplay: Noel as the Werefox
Honorable Mention Cosplay: Jade Griffin as Elisa as Belle (from "Eye of the Beholder") (for her "I'm outta here" after seeing the Werefox)
Cutest Couple: Tony Zucconi and Thom Adcox
Thom Adcox Memorial Award: Andrea Zucconi (so she won't hurt Thom!)
Gorelisa Award: Shara as Future Tense Brooklyn
Best in Show: Shara as Future Tense Brooklyn
After that, Brother Abe presented the awards for the Clan Olympics, and the results of the Poker Tourney were announced (Chris Rogers won $600 for the American Red Cross, with lesser amounts to the others' charities). They also gave a well-deserved special award to Carol Wagner for her years of work getting guests for the Gatherings. In the art show awards, Jade Griffin won the most in a variety of categories, with Kythera a close second. (Or at least it seemed that way.) The best in show was Sara Berkeley's extensive Gargoyles Zodiac; Kythera won the "Most Insane Detail" Award. Thom Adcox won a pair of shorts with "Lex Machine" on them- but they couldn't persuade him to put them on. The awards ended with the editor's choice in Eye of Odin- Allaine's "The Most Dangerous Game."
With the Masquerade finished and the awards given, some left for parts unknown. Others congregated in groups, including one table with Greg Weisman, Dave and (later) Thom. I stood on the sidelines, and had a lengthy chat with fellow old-school fan Blaqthourne (and Crimson Fury) about the earlier days of the fandom (as well as the fact that Mae Lee, who organized the first Gathering, almost came to G2K5), computers, old video games, and movie and TV soundtracks, among other topics. After that lengthy chat, I headed back to my room, read more Eye of Odin before going to sleep.
Farewell, my enemies!
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 2 (Part 3)
July 30, 2005 (continued)
After the comic book panel was finished, I got myself another Burger King dinner and gambled a little (and lost all of the little- seven dollars) before going to the con suite to hang out for a while. I chatted a bit with Kaelynn, but mostly watched the largest part of "My Brother's Keeper" followed by "Reawakening." After that, I headed back to the con area, and watched the Charity Poker Tourney. A few players were already out by the time I arrived. Marty lost shortly after I got there, and Thom did very well for a bit (despite his supposed inexperience) until he too went out. Adam followed a bit after, leaving the game between Eric "Gorebash" Tribou, Chris Rogers and Greg Weisman. Eric was the first to fall before Chris Rogers' formidable poker face, then finally Greg lost to him as well. Chris Rogers' charity won!
Greg led a bunch of us to the Ice Creamery in the casino, where we got, well, ice cream. (Chocolate chip, if you're wondering.) After that, Greg was out of ideas (food was his usual last resort), so we wandered into the arcade next door. Thom played the shooting game Namco Quick & Crash, and Greg played a rigorous game of Ms. Pac-Man. Thom took the lead after that, leading us (in theory) to the pool. Instead, we went into the Courtyards, past the pool, into the hotel lobby, and up the elevator, where everyone but Norcumi, Quindar and I (we'd all just sort of gone with the flow) left to get ready for the pool. The three of us joined up with Emambu, then went up to the con suite.
I stayed there for quite a while, as the crowd in there dwindled down to just Emambu and me. We chatted about The Gargoyles Saga (he was looking forward to Pendragon Season 4), journalism (he was taking some courses- I graduated last year with a journalism degree) and related topics. We had a few visitors in the meantime- A Fan (who left us pizza) and Brother Abe among them- but no one stayed for long. Marty arrived after a while, and engaged us in an interesting discussion on the marketing angle of the Gargoyles comic, plus some of how it came about.
When Marty first contacted Disney about the license, his contact didn't quite say no, but instead bluntly pointed out the difficulties involved. He would need, she said, a business plan (which he had) and a fairly large sum of money up front (which he didn't have) to acquire the license. It was the contact that talked to Greg Guler about the idea at a San Diego Comic-Con, and later referred Marty to SLG.
More people started flowing in at that point- first Mandolin, then Siryn and her friends, who'd just came back from hauling her to a bachelorette party. Most of them left after a bit, while a few more came in after Hudson's Rant (including Hudson himself). Kaelynn and Siryn played Super Smash Bros. Melee for a while, during which Dave Schwartz made a brief cameo, then left. After Siryn left, they put on Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. By this point, I was getting pretty tired, so after listening in on a theological discussion for a while, I headed to my room and my bed.
You'll have to do better than that!
(Just to be clear, I READ (and enjoy reading) all the conjournals, which -- as I've said before -- I asked to have posted here for the sake of the powers that be. The abbreviated responses are to save time, i.e. to help me get to the questions and catch up.)
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 2 (Part 2)
July 30, 2005 (continued)
After the Series Development and Production panel, I headed back to my room and lounged around for an hour or so, then headed to the Modern Martial Arts panel. An entertaining panel, featuring Flanker, Paul, Shara and Julie demonstrating various techniques. Flanker explained that there are two basic types of martial arts- striking, which focus on attack, and redirective, which focus on using the opponent's movements and momentum against them. He also noted that (in his opinion- and mine) that martial arts includes more than just the Asian fighting styles- it also includes western styles such as fencing.
After that brief introduction, Flanker and Paul sparred for us, Flanker using a freestyle sort of kung fu, and Paul using tae kwon do. Each got their share of strikes in, and fun doing it.
Flanker believed the best option for learning a martial art was to join a club or team, because they wanted you to get good and win them trophies. The other ends of the spectrum- quick and cheap, or expensive and high-end- were flawed, in his opinion. To him, it seemed, the main reason to learn martial arts was for self-defense- everything else was an extra at best or superfluous at worst. (Paul seemed to disagree, favoring practice movements like kata.) That said, Flanker didn't dismiss the value of other reasons- he just didn't feel that way himself.
We also received a demonstration of tae kwon do from Shara, and Flanker listed some interesting facts about fighting systems ranging from the Russian Special Forces' systema to the fast, brutal Israeli Special Forces' krav maga to the more traditional karate. He made an interesting statement- "professionals are predictable- amateurs are dangerous." (Referring to the fact that a professional in combat is patterned, while an amateur doesn't know when to pull back or control themselves.) Julie, a federal agent with the OSI, said her training focused on surviving a confrontation using escalation of force- you work your way up from minimal force to damaging to, if necessary, lethal. She also had an interesting piece of advice: the best deterrent against criminals could be an unloaded 12-gauge shotgun, as the intimidation factor was sufficient to scare off most bad guys.
After the panel ended, the con was interrupted briefly by a fire alarm (which turned out to have been pulled by some kid). We gathered up for the Gargoyles Comic and Creature Comics.com panel following that. While we waited, I chatted with Shan (who, unknown to me, was webcomic creator Shannon Muir) about iBooks (which, she informed me, was intended to bring comic-book properties to a wider, book-reading audience) and the state of the current comic industry in relation to different genres and manga.
The panel featured Greg Weisman, Slave Labor Graphic chief Dan Vado and Marty Lund. The facts given on the Gargoyles comic are as follows:
- It will be the third season as Greg Weisman would have done it, starting after "Hunter's Moon" Part III.
- The comic will be released bi-monthly, and each issue will be 32 pages in length. They hope the first issue will be released sometime during the first half of 2006. The license from Disney will last for three years, after which it's up for renewal.
- They didn't provide any teasers on artists. The only actual art that's been finished for Gargoyles- which was a late-comer to Slave Labor Graphics' Disney line- was the picture of Goliath and Elisa from the San Diego Comic-Con drawn by Greg Guler. Although SLG is accepting submissions, Dan Vado wasn't sure if they'll be open to hiring outside artists. Fan art might be featured on the letters page.
- The individual issues of the comic will be available through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble's Web site. (That goes for the other SLG Disney comics as well.) Disney will publish the collected editions of the comic.
- Greg isn't 100% sure that everything he revealed over the last several years will be part of the comic, but the bigger revelations will likely be kept- mainly so as not to cheat the fans.
- Greg admitted he's a little worried about the comic- after so long a wait (almost ten years), he hopes the final product doesn't disappoint! He also still has some surprises in store.
- The comic will be set in late 1996, but Greg doesn't plan to make this explicit in the comic itself (he doesn't want to discourage new readers).
- There will be an advertising budget. They hope to make sure there are plenty of ways for people to find out about the comic.
- They're not sure if they'll have access to material from the previous Marvel comic. Even if they did, Greg would need to look the material over to decide if he wants to include it- he recalled being less than thrilled by some elements. (I imagine the character of Venus was one of those elements.)
- The title will focus on the Gargoyles thread primarily, although it will touch on elements of the spin-offs (including Timedancer). The spin-offs may become comics of their own if Gargoyles is a good enough seller to justify it.
- Vinnie will be in the comic! (Quoth Greg: "It'd be like leaving me out!")
- Greg Weisman will be the only writer.
As for SLG's Disney line and Creature Comics.com:
- The very deal itself is a bit odd- Dan Vado said there's nothing in SLG's 20-year history to suggest they'd be a good venue for Disney comics (they're best known for stuff like Milk and Cheese or Johnny the Homicidal Maniac). However, Disney chose SLG because they thought they'd be able to snag the teen demographic. Although a final contract has yet to be signed, SLG signed a letter of intent prior to the San Diego Comic-Con (and Disney promptly promoted the SLG-Disney material at their booth). This basically means it's a done deal.
- Disney will have approval on all content in the line, but Disney is also aware that the comics are aimed at an older crowd than most of their stuff.
- The entire line will be full-color, except for Haunted Mansion.
- Haunted Mansion, due out in October, is based on the ride (not the movie), and the art will be done by Roman Dirge (artist for SLG title Lenore. It will tell the tales of the 999 ghosts that unlive within the mansion.
- Wonderland is basically Alice in Wonderland without Alice, taking place after the Disney movie. Dan Vado described it as akin to one piece of sample art- the Cheshire Cat looking all strung out. The art is by Sunny Lu (and I have no idea if that's spelled right), whose style looks rather similar to Tony DiTerlizzi of Spiderwick Chronicles and Planescape fame; according to Dan, the writer was so into Wonderland that his dad dug a hole in the backyard when he was a kid so he could wait for the White Rabbit!
- Tron, due out in January or February 2006, is one of the more demanded titles- apparently Tron has quite a fandom, which has basically been telling Dan that he'd better not screw it up. It's set six months after the film, but quickly goes to times before and during the film. SLG was the second company to get the license- the previous company's license fell through. (They planned a more superheroic direction for the title.) The writer for Tron has apparently been waiting 20 years to work on it. Two scripts have been written thus far.
- When asked about making a Team Atlantis comic, they didn't have plans to do one, but "The Last" (the aforementioned episode that's a pseudo-crossover with Gargoyles) might be done in comic form.
- SLG might be involved in the 2006 Gathering- possibly sending staff or such there.
- Creature Comics.com will work on other original properties, in addition to Gargoyles. Greg has one specific one in mind (which he didn't identify), but there are time issues involved in making it.
Dan Vado was contacted by Marty Lund- who'd been referred to SLG by their mutual contact at Disney- via e-mail. After learning about Gargoyles, he discovered that his kids and three employees were all big fans of the show- then he watched some episodes for himself on DVD. Dan wasn't surprised to discover there was a fandom- after all, even he, Dan Vado, had his single fan who visits him at cons! Dan chooses comics on whether they'll be good, not if they make money. (This is in part because he tried to do some titles for profit motives, and they failed.)
Towards the end of the panel, the topic veered to the comic-book industry. In Dan's opinion, the "meltdown" in the industry began in the late 1980s, and intensified as they focused more and more on the collectors' market. Only in the last few years has the shrinkage of the direct comic market began to reverse. Dan assessed that comics were starting to reach more into the mainstream thanks to manga and graphic novels- SLG comics are even sold in Hot Topic stores (which, I assume, means we'll see the Disney ones there too).
You'll have to do better than that!
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 2 (Part 1)
July 30, 2005
Got up, got another cinnamon scone, then headed for the art show again. While there, I bumped into Mandolin once more, before heading for the Series Development and Production Panel, featuring Greg Weisman and Dave Schwartz. A very interesting and informative panel!
As Greg and Dave put it, there are several stages through which one must go when creating an animated series:
1) Development. This involves getting together your core ideas- whether original or based on an existing property (in which case you often have to suffer interference from the property's owners)- and coming up with your characters and their basic designs, and at least a half-dozen basic story ideas. Put together, all these basic elements form a series bible.
2) Sale. Using the series bible as a base, you refine the elements, make them a little flashier and so forth, then create a pitch for the show to give to prospective producers. This is the hardest part of development, particularly since most of the work on the pitch has to be done "on spec" (that is, gained through favors or the promise of work if the pitch sells the show). Pitches used to involve a series of cards with production art, combined with a verbal presentation for the execs. Now, execs are far more demanding, and prefer to see DVD samples, short Flash films, focus tests and even entire pilot episodes! This is, basically, because execs are afraid of making a mistake- they don't trust their own judgment, and need to be sure that at least they can't be blamed for a show's failure. (The corollary is that if a show isn't a big hit from the get-go, the execs usually distance themselves from it. Greg added that some animation execs don't even like animation- they'd rather be in live-action (begging the question- why be an animation exec in the first place if you don't like it?).)
(Tidbits about Gargoyles : Artist Paul Felix designed several of the cards in the pitch from the DVD- specifically the Manhattan vista, the Scarab robot, and the (in)famous card with the kid holding the balloon and Goliath's shadow. Dave Schwartz quipped that making a pitch to the Disney execs was akin to going before the "High Tribunal of Krypton"- where failure got you exiled to the Phantom Zone. Changes to the final pitch for Gargoyles included reducing the cards from 42 to 28 and a few minor tweaks such as a little more humor and a little more of the Elisa-Goliath relationship. Dave said that others came to them to figure out their secret- which was simply having shorter pitches, with all their pitch cards oriented the same direction and using the same baseline color!)
3) Pre-production. Once (if) the show is sold, you start creating the background materials needed to make the show. This includes a "999 packet," which includes the artwork that'll be used in most episodes (i.e. the clock tower, Castle Wyvern and so forth), and (if not written prior) the series bible. The pilot episode is usually written now, and the regular voices are also chosen at this point; guest voices from later on are usually cast rather than audtioned. At this stage, it's also crucial to have an in-depth understanding of your characters, how they think, act, walk and talk, what distinctive physical and personality quirks they have.
The voice tracks are recorded first, then the storyboards are made based on them. In the storyboarding stage, it's best to assign different sections of the story to the artists best qualified to work on them- tragic parts for artists good at portraying emotion, action scenes for artists good at action, etc. (Once this stage is underway, the idea is to have the later episodes in the works as each episode is actually produced.)
(Tidbits about Gargoyles : It took three years to sell, and by the time the final designs were made at Disney Japan, the character concepts were already strongly fleshed out.)
4) Production. With all the preparation work done- voices, storyboards, and character designs- the episode is animated at the studio (often overseas).
5) Post-production. The animation comes back for review. At this point, time is scant, since an airdate has usually been selected, and missing an airdate can carry financial penalties. If an error is found in the animation, the pre-production staff needs to make sure it was the studio's mistake, rather than their own- if it can be interpreted as their mistake, they often have to live with the flawed footage. In such a case, not all is lost- clever editing of the footage can remove the worst errors. In the end, however, the finished episodes should be exactly 22 minutes in length. Then, the music is mixed in- often, the first few episodes are fully scored, with the soundtrack from those episodes edited into a music library used for later episodes. Finally, the episodes are screened by execs- at which point, you'd better hope they don't have any issues, because it's too late to fix anything major. (And don't expect compliments.)
(Tidbits about Gargoyles : "Pendragon" had about 3-4 seconds of footage cut, and replaced at the beginning with a pan shot of London from "M.I.A." The "Previously on Gargoyles sequences- often about 30 seconds in length- were created in part to allow up to 30 seconds of footage to be cut from the episode. A common animation annoyance prior to Gargoyles was that character wouldn't walk and talk at the same time- if they talked, they stopped moving. It took a while to deprogram the animators of that habit. Mark Perlman was the one who cleverly edited Carl Johnson's music for "Awakening" throughout the remainder of the series (although some new music was added later, I'm pretty sure).)
Following the overview, Greg and Dave fielded questions about the animation industry:
- Apparently Disney has closed nearly all of their overseas studios for a variety of reasons- Japan due to expense, London due to lacking quality. Disney Paris was assigned to feature animation, then closed; Disney Australia was assigned to the direct-to-video productions, and is apparently due to close down soon as well. (Boy, Disney is stupid.)
- Making a new animation studio would be difficult- not onlyu very expensive, but also requiring them to find a means of distribution.
- Studios now, more than ever before, are in the business of making maximum profit rather than making animated series. This is why so much animation now is imported from Japan and dubbed- it's much cheaper. (Been my theory for years- looks like I was right.) This also leads to the "bastardization" (as Dave put it) of existing properties- thus Cinderella II and so forth. (Dave wasn't sure how much longer that could continue.) Making pilots to show to studios is comparatively easy anymore, but selling them is much harder. The animation industry is better now than it was a few years ago, when studios were cutting back in a major kind of way, but still not as good as it was back in the mid-1990s.
- DVD technology had led to high interest in direct-to-video productions, which can also serve as pilots for series. Most 2-D animation is likely to be direct-to-video; unless a marquee character such as Batman is involved, or toys likely to be sold, studios are generally disinterested.
- Greg opined that internet piracy certainly doesn't help the animation industry.
- Dave opined that studios are less interested in 2-D animation overall- CGI is the "flavor of the month."
- Flash animation is popular for pitches, and is used on a few series, but no Flash-made series has become popular enough to gain attention for the medium.
- Serious American-made animation aimed at adults has generally failed (even Batman: The Animated Series failed in prime-time, disappointing Greg and others in the industry)- hence the disinterest by studios in making it. (Comedies like Family Guy or The Simpsons, they believed, were a different matter- a lot of humor comes from the voices themselves, and the animation is basically a gimmick.) Precisely why it failed is debatable.
I've been looking for you!
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 1
July 29, 2005
I woke up around 8 or 9 a.m. (Vegas time), but was too drained by either the annoyances of yesterday or jetlag to will myself out of bed until about 10. At around 3 a.m., the power had gone out- I wonder if anyone's schedule was thrown off? Fortunately, it was very easy for me to request a move to a non-smoking room- they told me to come back around 1 p.m. when my new room would be ready. In the meantime, I had a cinnamon scone from Starbucks for brunch. (I don't normally favor scones, but this was particularly tasty!)
My first goal was to find the registration table, which I did after some difficulty. Soon, in rapid succession, I met with three of my best fandom friends- Garrett "Dracandros" Baumgartner, A Fan and Greg Bishansky. I also encountered Kaelynn and Hudson. Garrett invited me to hit the Star Trek Experience with a group of his friends- while they gathered up to go, I sat in on the Con Virgin panel. They did a great overview, as well as explaining some unique circumstances of this Gathering- for example, wearing masks on the casino floor was forbidden, so they would have to request a security escort to take costumed people to the Masquerade! However, I had to leave the panel early to meet up with Garrett and company. While we waited for one last guy to join us, I paid Garrett my long-overdue share of the costs of my Web site (which includes JEB's Gargoyles Page and the Multiversal Omnipedia-Atlas).
The Star Trek Experience (my second visit- I'd last been there during my 2004 Vegas vacation) was fun- I think I liked Klingon Encounter better than Borg Invasion, and the museum was just as awesome as last time! (To an ex-Trek geek like me, anyway.) Garrett and his friends were fun to hang with, and we had a nice discussion about some of the more annoying aspects of Trek and its rival Star Wars outside of Quark's Bar. At the shop, I also snagged some pins (Voyager-era combadge, movie badge, and movie captain's insignia), as well as a VHS tape of "The Doomsday Machine"- one of my dad's favorite episodes.
After returning to Palace Station, we split up. I returned to my nice, clean-smelling non-smoking room, then got myself a nice, huge, disgustingly unhealthy Burger King dinner. Then, I headed up to the Dealer's Room. As in pretty much every Gathering of the last few years, the sale of actual, official Gargoyles merchandise has basically stopped- unsurprising, since the newest items (aside from the DVD) are eight years old at this point! Maybe with the new comic out, we'll see some new stuff, but I dunno. However, there were still some neat dealers, and I picked up the Eye of Odin fanfic anthology (fanthology?). I also walked over to admire the fine art in the nearby gallery, including great production art and storyboards from the series- the episodes "Eye of the Beholder," "Vows," "The Edge" and "Avalon" were all represented. All the fan art was great, including Lynati's terrific gargoyle wing anatomy drawings and Kythera's varied and detailed art (some of which was from the Monster Encyclopedia 1, a RPG monster book I'll have to seek out now!). Greg Weisman's kids were also good- certainly much better than I was at their age (or now, for that matter). I also chatted with Mandolin and Greg B., until the Opening Ceremonies were announced.
Following the summons, I was greeted by the people running the Gargoyles Fan Web Comic (I believe Lexy and one other), who ran a dice game that presented me with my only gaming success all weekend- I scored candy and two cool T-shirts promoting the comic. They also plugged their contest (write a brief story based around an image of Bronx), but although I thought about trying, I judged that I wouldn't be able to write anything catchy enough.
As we waited for the opening ceremonies, I was greeted by Jade Griffin (who initially thought I was Robert, due to my bushy dark hair and black T-shirt), and I looked over some of A Fan's original fiction on his palm-pilot-type thing. (I've got to get me one of those- they look so neat.)
Chris Rogers opened the con with some basic administrative stuff, then a great big thanks to Marty "Kaioto" Lund, who was designated the Fan Guest of Honor due to his efforts to get the Gargoyles comic made. Marty believed the fandom deserved credit for his accomplishment, and seemed a bit embarassed when we gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. We also got a brief pitch from the Gathering 2006 staff- I look forward to L.A.!
After Chris was finished, it was time for Greg Weisman! First, he played audio greetings from the unable-to-attend Kath Soucie and Keith David ("I've been denied everything... even my convention!"), as well as video greetings from Greg Weisman, Frank Paur, Michael Reaves, Jeff Bennett, Bill Fagerbakke, Thom Adcox (who acknowledged his present self being at the con), Brigitte Bako, and most surprisingly of all, Ed Asner! A real treat!
Regarding the Season 1 DVD, Greg informed us that the sales were good, but not great (although Disney wouldn't give him hard numbers), so it's important to spread the word about Season 2 Volume 1. As the reader has probably heard, the first Season 2 set will feature all of Season 2 up through "Kingdom" in a three-disc set, and will probably be released in December. Greg wasn't allowed to say much about special features, unfortunately.
Next, the traditional video session- with a twist. Instead of the pitch to syndicated stations made by Greg (included on the Season 1 DVD), we saw an earlier version of the same, narrated by veteran voice actor Jim Cummings, with earlier, more toony versions of the clan. A neat touch was how Cummings used a rough Scottish voice for the Dark Ages stuff, and switched to a contemporary American one for the present day.
Then, back to tradition, with the media promo ("It's better than Barney!") and sci-fi con promo ("the next generation of Disney animation"), then the reconstructed pitches for The New Olympians and Gargoyles: The Dark Ages. The Bad Guys leica reel was as entertaining as ever- I hope the comic will pick up that thread. Then, an unexpected bonus- Seth "IRC Goliath" Jackson introduced another "leica reel," made by Vashkoda, featuring the audio of "The Last" (the unfinished Gargoyles-related episode of Team Atlantis) meshed with the first act's storyboard, a bit of new art, Gargoyles music and sound clips- a most impressive result. Kudos to Vashkoda! (I wish Team Atlantis had been produced- Gargoyles aside, it looked right up my alley.)
With that ended, the crowd drifted apart. I chatted with Greg B. and Kaelynn again, then headed to my room for a bit. I headed back in time to catch the end of the MSTing of "Enter Macbeth." Afterwards, I accompanied A Fan to his room, where we watched Star Trek IV with the Okudas' text commentary. After that session of amiable watching and talking, I headed back to my room for sleep.
A warning: My journal is LONG this year.
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day -1
July 28, 2005
Going directly there from work, I managed to get through the security gate at BWI in record time. In fact, everything was bizarrely easy- the e-tickets went through fast, the people in line were nice and easygoing. (Note to self- flights on weekdays are a good idea.) Just sat down and read my Doctor Who anthology (Short Trips- ironic title, as it turned out) while I waited.
Then the flight itself- Baltimore to Pittsburgh. I don't think there are many things I find more exciting than takeoff. The rush of speed, the sharp climb as the landscape below shrinks, then floating above the clouds, looking down at the world through a drifting sea of mist and a landscape of white. (I was fortunate that there wasn't anyone sitting next to me- otherwise, I would have had a lovely view of the cabin.)
After arriving in Pittsburgh, I got myself dinner from a McDonald's that evidently didn't see much business around 7 p.m. A few passengers around me at the time looked like they might also be going to the Gathering, but I stopped short of humming the Gargoyles theme to see if anyone would perk up. (I didn't recall any of those faces being at the con, so it's just as well.) It's about this point that I began to realize I was technologically behind the curve- everyone had neat cell phones or laptops- I had a years-old cell phone model that couldn't do much more than play Tetris. (This point became more apparent as the long weekend went on.)
Unfortunately, when I arrived in Las Vegas about five or six hours later, things went sour. The flight from Pittsburgh to Vegas itself was fine, if very long- finished Short Trips and moved onto the sequel, More Short Trips. Las Vegas itself was a striking sight as we approached, a cluster of stars in a vast ocean of shadow. (Kind of interesting that "Sin City" should shine so bright from a distance.) But after that... I waited for an hour in the wrong baggage claim, and when I finally did figure this out, I wasn't able to find the last hotel shuttle of the evening before it left. So, I had to wait in line for a taxi. A very, very, long line- there were literally a hundred or more people there.
When I finally got to Palace Station (tipping the cabbie far too much, my dad said when I mentioned it later), I went to the employee's floor in the main building instead of my floor in the Courtyards. I eventually found my way to my room (after passing by the Con Suite on the third floor, but I was in no mood for socializing), which- counter to the request I'd made- was a smoking roon. However, by that point I was too tired to care, so I just went to bed.
I've been looking for you!
The short of it: The cons keep getting better. This was my 3rd.
I have to say, I'm a god at planning trips. I got three one way flights from Buffalo to Vegas, Vegas to Vancouver, Vancouver to Toronto. All I have to do is get to Sarah 'The Great's place in Buffalo and we fly in together. I also volunteered to host another panel on combat, this time discussing hand to hand. I got cheap flights, but paying for hotel and registration could be an issue. Looking the Gathering forums, I found a crazy offer. Some lady would pay my hotel and registration if I helped her run a booth promoting her website. Too good to be true, but I asked anyway. She wanted me to phone her. Hey, for a few bucks, why the hell not? Apparently she's serious. OK, whatever gets me to the gathering. She also mentioned she studied Tae Kwon Do and could bring some stuff to my panel, sweet!
I have never never ever had a problem crossing the US border. Apparently there must be a biker gang or terrorist cell called 'Gargoyles' because I was interrogated by US Customs for over an hour. I was really nervous. Eventually they let me go and Sarah's mom was mad that I was late for dinner. Sarah and I made it to the airport to find that our flights were delayed which could mess up our connecting flight. But, there were no major problems, other than the fact that we were supposed to rooming with Denis but had no way of getting ahold of him in Vegas. I ended up calling his cell from the hotel room phone. Ouch.
I was going to hit a rental range to fire some machine guns, but no one showed up. There was tepid interest in doing that or some airsoft later. No biggie. Registration was scary since Shara was supposed to take care of it, but they couldnt find my con badge and I couldnt find Shara. They found me one, but Shara didnt show up for awhile, I was a little tense. I finally met her and we set up her table. She had me running a dice game that basically amounted to me giving away free gargoyles t shirts and posters. It was fun, and an easy way to earn a hotel room and registration. I dont recall anything exciting happening friday night. I was just exhausted and went to bed.
My panel was to happen at 3pm, but I still got up early and helped out with Shara's table of free giveaway madness. It was cool and I kept meeting really people like Paul and Julie. Shara let me go check out the voice acting seminar, since I constantly miss it at prior cons. It was really interesting and Greg and Thom are really good and getting alot of information across in limited time. I had to grab my martial arts stuff and start strapping it on while they wrapped up their panel. Paul came in and had mentioned earlier that he had studied alot of Tae Kwon Do and Hwrang Do and was also a veteran of Iraq. I brought two sets of sparring gear so I loaned him one and figured I'd start my panel with a bang. Martial Arts is a pretty big topic to cover in an hour so I didnt bother preparing notes to read or anything dry like that (like my panel was last year). I asked to guys to open the doors and Paul and I fought while the seats filled. It was a really good match. He got a good kick on my face, and I knocked his glasses off his face. We put on a good show and I bowed and began talking about martial arts between heavy breaths and glasses of water. After I explained a little and talked about how to pick a school and things like that, Shara displayed her Tae Kwon Do uniform and performed a Kata. Next I invited Julie, a 12 year veteran of law enforcement to speak about street combat. She's a real life Elisa Maza and she totally made the panel something special, even to the more experienced guys like Paul and I. We wrapped up and I think the panel went really good, and much better than I thought it would. And I ended it just in time because the fire alarm went off. I tried to get some info about the comic coming out but I missed the main part of that presentation. I slept friday night so I decided to go out saturday. I turned down Maui's invitation to the Rainforest Cafe, a decision I would regret the rest of the con. A bunch of us broke off to see the strip and go see 'Charlie and Chocolate' Factory. Poor Noel was driving around in someone else's HUGE van at night in an unfamiliar city full of hostile drivers. Things were rough and I ended up breaking down and eating totally overpriced tiny pizza. We DID eventually get to the theater missing the first couple minutes of the movie, but it was still a good time.
Sunday I got up and had to kill some time. I had plans with some guys on the Somethingawful.com forums to meet up and go shooting in Boulder City. But I always wanted to audition. I knew I wouldnt be back in time for the Radio Play, but maybe that just made the audition less stressful. I read for Broadway, I think I did ok, since Greg seemed surprised when I said I couldnt be in the play. I apologized and left. My buddy picked up and we went to Boulder City. I wont bore everyone with details but it was much cheaper than renting and I had good time, and hurt my hand firing guns that are too damn big. I got back to the hotel around 5pm, and found out that I couldnt get a haircut for the banquet because the shop was closed. Darn it. I shaved off my goatee and started putting together my dress uniform. I decided to wear it because I didnt bring a costume this year and there's nothing wrong with a little attention whoring at the Gathering. Plus I look like solid gold in that thing. I was late and Sarah came to my room, she went out and got osme make up and wore a nice gown and looked totally fabulous. We got there late but it was cool since nothing had really started yet. The banquet was really awesome this year. There was a weird period between the banquet and the masquerade where I couldnt find anyone. Dark Lord talked to me for a few minutes before I had to remind him that I was Flanker and that I had shaved. Dark Lord is a special individual and I wont forget him anytime soon. Desert was served during the Masquerade which was cool since I wasnt in the masquerade and got some chocolate cake. Shara totally smoked everyone in her brooklyn costume as I knew she would when I first saw it. I cant believe it was her first con. The rest of sunday I just hung out with everyone and bought Thom a beer and generally had an aweosme time. Eventually the party broke up when Greg fell asleep in his chair.
MONDAY & TUESDAY
This part of the Con was crap. You start saying goodbye to everyone and it sucks. Sarah and I formed a band of die hard cling-ons(After we got free show and dinner for listening to a time share pitch). We started stalking Chris Rogers and ended up following him into some pretty awesome buffets. Chris is the Man. Almost a dozen of us hit the Adventure Dome on tuesday and roped in a family so we could get the group discount. We all a good time even though I was feeling a little sick. We met up with Chris again who got us through a massive line up for the Buffet at the Bellagio, because Chris is the Man. I had a killer time with Sarah the Great, Liz, CKayote, Hudson, Dancer, Chris, Aaron and if I got your name wrong or forgot you just smack me in LA.
Farewell, my enemies!
Hey Greg It's Doug
Just wanted to get my gathering journal in, sadly it is a short one as I was in vegas for more reasons than just the gathering, in fact as I mentioned in your mug a guest I literally threw some cloths in a bag, left hunters moon going on the VCR, and got on a plane. I had never really been out of south texas much so it was cool to be in a different place.
I waited for two hours to register then rushed right up to the suite to talk to the mighty Greg Wiseman. I was pleased to find that the atmosphere was quite nice and I was not nervouse, even though this was my first gathering. I feel that many of the questions I had on my mind kinda drive things for a while and I was happy that they got answered one way or another. By the way did you ever check out hunters moon, I could swear he almost touches her hair on the train. I was pleased to hear about the comic and your work on the Batman.
I stuck around in the Suite to talk to Thom, man that guy is awsome one of the coolest guys I have ever spoken with in my life. He was very open and honest about working in the profession of voice acting and I learned a great many things from him, And he is just hillarious and was very helpfull in answering any questions about the industry, lex or the show. I would also like to thank both you guys for your sigs. I have to be the only person to ask Greg Wiseman "Can i be a son-of-a-bitch and ask for your autograph." HAHA and Thom signed his Lexington as well.
I then went over to the Demona debate and thought it to be a little "Over Analyzing", and many of my opinions seemed to be overlooked or ignored and I dunno... I just kinda wasn't into it after that but I did stroll over to the dealers room and found a talented artist who runs creatures of the night and bought several pieces of her work just as she was closing up shop, she was happy to sell me them at a nice rate and I was down to 5 bucks after my anthology purchase, long story short after a few hours of the gathering, and the blue man group I was good. Hope to see everyone next year in LA
Journal Thingy... Part 3
First off, let me say that if I forgot anyone, or am putting things in the wrong order, I'm sorry. The past weekend is quickly becoming BlurrCon. Which is why I want to finish this sooner rather than later.
First off, on Thursday, I saw Andrea Zucconi, and a big shout out to her about that. I never really knew her at the previous cons, I knew of her, but she friended me on LJ shortly after G2004, and I friended her back, got to know her over LJ, so it was cool seeing her this year.
Also saw Siryn, who's getting married in a few weeks I think. Another call out to her, though now I think I need to at least send a gift ;)
Saturday, July 30th
I slept in today. Was not quite enough to get me off my jet lag, but it helped. Got up, showered and dressed and once more, I went in search of breakfast. I forget what I ate, but I did end up at the Series Development panel, but it's all a great big blurr. I recall enjoying it though.
I think I spent most of the day hanging out in the art room though, just chilling with people. I bought pre-registration for Gathering 2006... the full package. Hung out with everyone, it was all cool.
Eventually, we went to the Slave Labor panel, and got to hear more about the comic. Dan Vado seems like a cool guy, and the panel gave me hope, the comic looks to be in good hands indeed. Especially since he's going to leave Greg alone to write what ever he wants.
After this I went with Revel and Spacebabie to dinner, as well as another girl, and I forget her name, and I feel really bad about it. Food was okay, we talked politics and horrible job stories.
After that, it was time for the Celebrity Poker Tournament. I was at first calling it for Thom, he's an actor, he should be able to bluff, but he was out early. In the end, Chris won the game... game, poker is a sport... Greg came in second, followed by Gore. It was a fun watch.
Revel and I headed back into the casino, he won money this time, but I lost a bit. Was still ahead from where I started though.
After that, it was time for Hudson's Rant, always fun. Pick a random topic out of a hat. I'd reproduce some of it here, but this is the PG version of the journal.
Later on, the art chicks finally returned from throwing Siryn her bachelorette party. I pointed at her veil and made a joke about her and Adam eloping. But I followed them back up, and (contrary to popular jokes at the moment, I was not stalking them ;)) so I could give Jen an animation cel I purchased for her of Goliath and Demona from "Awakening: Part Four". I wanted to get it out of the way, because, given how hectic these cons are, I wasn't sure if I'd get a chance again. I'm happy to say she loved it.
Night ended in the con suite, chips, pizza, Super Smash Bros. Hung out for a while, before returning to my room to collapse.
You'll have to do better than that!
Journal Thingy... Part 2
Friday July, 19th
Woke up, showered and dressed and went downstairs in search of food, ran into Aaron in the casino and decided to help him out, ended up watching the con suite for about fifteen minutes, since it was unlocked with no one in there, and was soon relieved and went back down to the con, and assisted a little (very little) with art room set up, hung out, then spent about 90 minutes at the registration table with Chris, Seth and a few people, had some Burger King for lunch that Revel and Spacie got me.
It was about this time that Revel gave me the art piece I commissioned from him, which would go on to be a big hit at the con and won second place in the art show. For those who weren't there, here it is.
Ended up missing the Demona Debate, which I was interested in, but aw well, been involved in so many of those, I wasn't bothered about it. Spent a good chunk of the day in the Art Room, chilling with Aaron, Revel and anyone else that happened along.
Finally it was time for Opening Ceremonies. Chris welcomed us all to Vegas, Greg got up and showed his usual videos, and some new ones. He made his speech about what a big year it's been, what with the DVD coming out, and new DVDs and comics on the way. Finally, Opening Ceremonies concluded with Seth showing the new fan made leica reel of "The Last". Basically, for those who don't know, in the cancelled "Team Atlantis" series, Greg wrote an episode set in 1920, guest starring Demona who was being hunted by Fiona Canmore. The episode was scripted, voice recorded (Marina Sirtis reprised her role), and only partially story boarded before they cancelled the series. Those were auctioned off at Gathering 2003, and Vashkoda did a wonderdul job adapting the storyboards into an animatic, lining it up with the voice tape, adding music and sound effects and color... it was very nice. Now to see if we can possibly get it finished. Vash, if you read this, you did a great job.
So, after Opening Ceremonies, Revel and Spacie and I head into the casino. I was of course adamant against gambling, but then I got board and put down $100 at the Blackjack table. I did not know what I was doing, so we stay in for a couple of hours, I get the hang of it and I walk out with $138. That was fun.
Next up was Greg and Thom's Blue Mug-A-Guest. Fun as always, and this year it was actually blue. "Are Gargoyles pink inside?", Greg also talked some more about the comic, it was good times.
Finally, it's about 1 am and we decide to call it a night, and head down to the cafe for food, Greg shares some anecdotes about the business, Aaron and Emambu are talking about soda. I have a cheeseburger. Good times.
Then we call it a night for real.
To be continued.
Good times, indeed.
Gathering 2005 Part One
I couldn't sleep, there was just no possible way I would ever fall asleep. The shuttle was supposed to pick me up at 7 AM, and here I am, not being able to sleep. So, at 5:30 am and wide awake, I do what any one would do. I go to the diner to have breakfast. Thank gods for 24 hour diners. I order the Eggs Benedict and coffee and orange juice. Eggs good, coffee tasted like chalk though. So, I come back, right in the nick of time to catch my shuttle.
So, we take a drive, pick up two more people, one of whom is flying on the same exact flight that I am. Cute girl who I spend the remainder of the trip over to Vegas flirting with. Same shuttle, same place, hell our tickets had us sitting next to each other on the plane. I never caught her name, which kinda bums me out now, but not too much.
So, we soon arrive at John F. Kennedy airport. I hate JFK and greatly prefer LaGuardia. JFK is a very hard airport to find your way around without asking directions, and the place is HUGE! JFK is it's own enclosed city, it has it's own monorail and everything.
And now it's time for my rant on Airport Security... first of all, keep in mind, I'm not wearing my trench, I'm wearing a black suit jacket (not the same one I wore later at the banquet), and Security is all over me, everything except t-shirt and pants has to come off. THey pull me to the side to further frisk me, and my Zippo Lighter is pulled out of my checked luggage and confiscated... I was pissed. But, I get everything back, and I make it to the plane. Yeah, yeah, this is my first time on an airplane post 9/11.
The flight is long and uneventful. The in-flight movie is Sahara, but I'm not interested. I try to sleep a few times, I skip the meal, but I have this curse of not being able to sleep on airplanes. The last half hour of the flight is really nice, as we fly over the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam... hmm, somehow, you'd think the Hoover Dam would have a no-fly zone. Aw well.
We land in Las Vegas, and well, Sin City wastes no time, there are slot machines in the airport, as soon as you step off the plane. I go and grab my checked luggage, and head to grab a shuttle. Unfortunatly, we end up with a lousy shuttle. AC is broken, driver doesn't know where anything is. Eventually I spot the Palace Station from the window, and point it out, and so I get dropped off, and check in.
First of all, I drop off my stuff, and go get food. I treat myself to a cheese burger and fries from the Cafe (I forget it's name). I wonder back to my room, and try to watch some TV, nothing's on, and the hotel doesn't have Comedy Central, so I can't catch the Daily Show later in the evening. So, I order myself some hotel porn... the porn wasn't very good.
I check my e-mail, and find out that Dreamie and Winterwolf are in the hotel, so I call them, get their voice mail, and leave a message. It's late, so I roll over and go to sleep. I get a call back, and it's them, naturally I invite up to my room to hang out, I haven't seen them in two years. So, we chill and get caught up. I show them some crap on the internet... most prominently the American translation of the Chinese dub for "Revenge of the Sith"... which led to this year's in joke:
Do not want!... which was the Chinese translation of Darth Vader's now, infamous Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, first day, despite some problems ended on a high note... a high note that continue on for the entire duration of my stay.
Got up, showered and dressed and went downstairs for breakfast, wondered over to the Buffet and I spotted Chris Rogers, Hudson, Seth, Kathy, Zaius and Dancer, and they invited me over to sit. So, we ate, and again got caught up, battle plans were discussed for the con, and so on, we finished and left.
Soon enough, Aaron, Revel, Spacie and Lynati showed up, and we helped them unpack their van (they drove to Vegas, all the way from Houston, TX), and since Aaron and Lynati were on con staff (AGAIN! They're masochists ;)), they had a lot to bring. So, we do that, and a group of us head out to Target, and the Home Depot to get crap that's needed for the con. I wasn't on con staff, but I did so much volunteer work, at times it did feel like being on staff again. Not that I minded, I'm always glad to help out a Gathering where I can.
So, we take two cars, Aaron and I ride in the rented van and follow Chris, unfortunatly, he knows his way around and we don't, so we lose him for a bit, lefts and rights are confused, but eventually we all end up at Target and get this stuff done.
We bring it all back, and drop the panels off at what will be the art room. Then we chill for a while, and I'm blanking a bit, but eventually we go to see the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur, which is like "Medival Times", but a little better. Food was okay, and we get to sit in the evil section and root for Lord Mordred and his Dragon Knight. It was hokey, a little lame, but hey, still fun. BTW, some people rode in a bus, and a bunch of us crammed into Aaron's rental van, I got stuck in the trunk... and unfortunatly no pictures were taken. But, I got a seat in the back on the way back, still fun.
We came back to the hotel, where more people arrived in the lobby, including Jen, Cindy and Kythera. Great to see those three again. Jen greeted me with a hug, as did Cindy. We hung out in the lobby for a while, before the art chicks called it a night, and the rest of us went back up the Con Suite... at long last, Greg Weisman and Thom Adcox arrived from a ten and a half hour flight from Los Angeles (yes, ten and a half hours to get from LA to Vegas... you heard that right), we all hang out and chat for a while, Greg tells us about why he didn't like Batman Begins, and yeah, his critisisms are valid, and he's entitled to his opinion, but I still think the movie kicked ass.
Eventually we all call it a night, and hit the sack.
To be continued...
I just think you're starved for a decent Batman movie. ;)
As I told you, it's the high quality of Batman Begins that raises expectations that ultimately I think the movie fails to meet. So...
But I really liked Kelsey Grammer as the Beast. Seriously.
Con Journal - G2005 The Compressed Edition
I'm back. Home again just long enough to switch suitcases, do some laundry and water the plants. My Gathering went something like this...
Wednesday (If it's 4:00 a.m. it must be ORBITZ)
Thanks for the wake up call, Customer Service. But my flight isn't until 7:00 and I really (edited)ted to sleep until 5. Oh well. Grab the bag, feed the pets and away I went. One minor travel delay meant that instead of arriving in Vegas way before everyone else, I landed at the Las Vegas airport in time to shuttle over to the hotel with Mandi and Jenn my roommates. Yay for travel bungles that actually work out!
We arrived at the hotel after a short shuttle ride. And, as expected, there's a great big stack of boxes waiting for me. We check in, the nice men at the Bell Desk deliver all the convention stuff promptly and the three of us head downstairs to get some lunch and catch up.
Speaking of catching up. My biggest regret this very short weekend was the amount of catching up I didn't get to do. Bad timing, stuff to do, failing synaptic responses rendering me incapable of speech, all contributed to not nearly enough of what usually highlights my Gatherings - the chance to really sit down and talk to people about everything and nothing. But to Ellen, Seth, Lanny, Hudson, Greg B. and whoever I'm unintentionally blanking on that I did get to see this year - Thank you. And to Leo, a big hug and many thanks for the cd.
After lunch, there's convention stuff to do. Boxes to open, tee shirts to fold etc. We get the errands done and decide to see a show. Not a lot of same day tickets left, but we end up with tickets for "V" "THE ULTIMATE VARIETY SHOW" (second set of quotes are mine). Actually, it was pretty amazing. V is produced by the folks at Cirque d' Solei but isn't nearly as expensive (or sold out) it's a rotating group of performers and supposedly no two shows are exactly the same. We saw a singer with an incredible set of pipes, a drummer in a climbing harness who played a wall mounted kit, a really good juggler, a pair of Russian strongmen/acrobats/contortionists - sort of hard to put a label to, but it's the sort of thing that Cirque in all its incarnation is famous for. There was a pair of dancing illusionists and an impressionist who must have been raised on long hours of the "Gong Show" (you really had to be there, but the act was amazing in a trainwreck kind of way) and finally the host - a guy who told incredibly bad jokes ("When I first came to Vegas my luck was horrible. I lost everything, had to sell my clothes, my car. (beat) Boy was Avis (edited)ed.") He was also Mr. Memory telling the audience where they lived by their zip codes. Then after he'd interacted with more than a dozen people reeling their list of numbers and cities off one after the other.
And of course, there was audience participation. A guy got a group of men up on stage, put them into rubber masks and made them do horribly silly things to the delight of the audience. It was, all in all, a pretty good show.
After the show, there was dinner at Lombardi's an Italian restaurant and shopping in the Aladdin's faux foreign bazar. If it hadn't been for some bad news from home, it would have been a wonderfully relaxing evening. (Safe travels, Serena the cat, you are missed.)
Thursday (A bad dress rehersal means a great show)
Thursday the rest of the con staff gathered from all and sundry points. We had a TERRIFIC group this year and it was a joy to work with each and every one of my fellow staffers. Chris, Lanny, Lynati, Aaron, Mara, Seth, Winterwolf, Dreamie, Hudson, Carol and Abe, without which The Strip would have been a shadow of itself, you all ROCK. Thank you.
Any how, the usual pre-con chaos ensued. But, it was good, productive chaos and stuff got done. 'Course that doesn't mean it wasn't slightly nerve wracking. And then of course, there was Thom and Greg stuck in Ontario (California, not Canada) who missed out on Tournament of Kings, our pre-convention staff and guest dinner.
TOK was huge fun. Our block of tickets was in the DRAGON section, which means (for those who have never gone to one of these medieval themed dinner shows) we got to root for the bad guys. And you know, sometimes it's good to be bad. Sadly, the show was rigged and King Christopher the blandly handsome prevailed over Mordred and the Black Knight.
The group split up after that. Most of the attendees headed back to the hotel to either get the illusive "good night's sleep" or to do more last minute convention prep. I ended up in the wrong car (Chris's) and went for a tour of some of the sites of Vegas.
Bellagio, Luxor, New York, New York... I finally figured out what was throwing me about the Las Vegas hotels. All those famous places re-created, but the scale is off. And of course, they're all juxpositioned against one another in unlikely combinations. It's like being on a steroid enhanced version of the Universal Studios backlot. Cool, but weird.
Anyway, we saw the dancing fountains of Bellagio and the chocolate fountain, the indoor gardens and the fish tank behind the registration desk, missed the Sirens and Pirate battle, but did take in the Volcano erruption before heading back to the hotel.
That of course, began the dreaded search for my cell phone which began appropriately enough, in the Consuite. I was so hoping I'd left it on the table that despite the fact that Greg W. had finally arrived, I waited until I'd torn through everything on the conference table before saying a proper hello. (I'm sorry!)
Cell phones are leashes that tie you to... everyone really. But like every other user of the dread device, I've become dependent and not having it, especially during con weekend was a notion too awful to contemplate.
Never did find the blasted thing, despite retracing steps, reporting it missing in two hotels and the shuttle service. If anyone found a blue Nokia older model and is still hanging on to it - drop me a line, will you?
Anyway, Greg and the rest of the consuite contingent were talking comic books, graphic novels and the like. I stayed to listen for a while but soon it was time to call it a night (morning?) and we all went to bed.
Friday (Places people, it's SHOWTIME!)
Staff meeting, pre con last minute stuff to do and we still had registration running at five after 10:00. Yay team. Thing were off and running. The Dealers Hall and Art Show were assembled, staffed and stocked dispite a technical problem with the drill. There were blessed few problems with reg packet distributions and (eventually) we even got the bulk of the items for the silent auction out for display.
In the midst of much running around, I managed to get in a little shopping myself, acquiring a new cel of Goliath, a nice ensemble pencil sketch and a leather belt.
Good merchandise was had this year. Many thanks to Alan for coordinating the hall. And thank you - Van Eaton Gallery, Designs by Kate, Knightscross Leatherworks and all of our other participants for providing such spiffy stuff and such good company. (I spent several shifts behind the G2005 staff table selling tee shirts, anthologies and calendars and everyone was just terrific looking out for each other and generally keeping the atmosphere lively.)
(Oh! and there was AMAZING flourless chocolate cake and ice cream brought over from the Con Virgin 101 panel. Yum is an pale word choice.)
Eventually though, the Dealers Room and Registration closed for the day. We secured everything that needed securing and it was off to Opening Ceremonies!!
New dvds! New comics! New material from Greg! And to top it off - Thom Adcox's pants! What more could a couple of hundred eager fans (edited)t?
Dinner maybe. Which is where we were off to next. The seafood place was busy, but the Italian one wasn't. Plus we had coupons! Excellent food, good company, leftover eggplant parmesean for breakfast. It worked for me!
Sadly though, a tradition was broken. No frantic jog walk through a new city to make it in time for the Blue Mug. Thom got lost and was late even though it was just up the escalator and around a couple of corners, but that wasn't really quite the same.
The mug wasn't really "blue" this year. Maybe a light skyish color. Many people were really more interested in the impending comic and Greg tried hard not to scoop himself since that was the focal point of the Slave Labor/Creature Comics panel the following day.
After the Mug, it was time for pie! And after that, the group called it a night (morning).
Saturday (We're Swinging Now!)
Cold Eggplant might not be the breakfast of champions, but it did hit the spot. After which there was con stuff to do (silent auction set up) and then a panel to present.
Yep, a panel. With Ellen and Revel to keep things anchored, we talked about writing Action Scenes until we were kicked out of the room. It went great! The audience was engaged and interested and for the first time since I got roped into doing these things I felt completely at ease. Thank you Ellen for organizing my rambles into a coherent outline and Revel for providing really excellent talking points during the discussion.
Then there was cake! Scott (Brother Abe) bakes. Well. Very excellent chocolate goodness. And I never got the chance to thank him properly. Abe, if you're reading this. Mucho appreciado.
More con stuff. Registration table. Dealers room. Moved stuff that was stored in my room into the con suite during the radio play auditions. Fire alarm went off due to an over enthusistic cook. Everyone remembered the 3rd grade drills and exited the hotel through the stairwells in a quiet and orderly fashion, milling around the alley behind the hotel until we got an all clear. I was impressed.
The exact sequence of afternoon events after that is all kind of blurry. I do recall closing the Dealers Room for the Slave Labor/Creature Comics panel so that everyone could attend.
Got there a bit late. See above. But what I did hear was worth it. As usual grass roots participation is a must for project success. Spread the word.
After the panel I went back to the Dealers Hall to do cashier prep for the silent auction lots that sold Saturday and to explain the system to the rest of the crew.
I checked out of the hotel. Then Lanny and I went to dinner,talked about deep and profound things and generally made ourselves late to the poker tournament so I had no idea exactly what was happening during the game itself having not read the rules to Texas Hold'm. But everyone seemed like they were having a good time and the pot moved back and forth between Gore, Greg, Chris and even Thom. (I think Kai had busted by then) before Chris eventually took all.
Everyone trooped down the hall for ice cream. I said my goodbyes and I was airport bound.
Carol, everything was perfect. You dropped me off in exactly the right spot. I got through check in, slogged across the terminal, cleared security and arrived at my gate five minutes before they called my section number.
I wondered briefly what I was going to do on my way home. (I'd read my book and it was too cramped to knit properly). Two minutes after take off they killed the lights and I didn't wake up until we were in approach to Charlotte. Guess I was tired after all.
Sadly, the Charlotte airport doesn't have those comfy rocking chairs in the waiting area where you actually need them. Three cold, uncomfortable hours later, I was headed on my final leg home, and thus ended (for me anyway) the 2005 Gathering of the Gargoyles.
Love and many thanks to all,
That was a great read. Brings back memories.
Now that we've started 2005 conjournals, I want to extend a blanket apology in advance to all who posted them here.
Posting ConJournals here was and is very important vis-a-vis the powers that be. But in the interest of trying to catch up on ASK GREG, I'm going to keep my responses to a minimum, so that I can race through the year-and-a-half-old journals and get back to answering questions.
Thanks for understanding!
G2005 - Tuesday, August 2
8:30am. We hit the road back for Los Angeles. Reading Harry Potter most of the way. (Although we didn't actually finish the book until just last night.) We stopped for lunch at Tommy's (chilicheeseburger, chilidog, fries, coke)... and we were home again by 2pm. That's five and a half hours, including the hour-long lunch break. Half the time it took Thom and I to fly to Vegas. Oh, well.
After that, it was Unpack, Nap, Dinner. Beth made a great home-cooked meal of Meat, Corn, Mushrooms and Strawberries.
More Harry Potter. Did some actual work on W.I.T.C.H.
Then finally bed.
So ends my journal.
Please, everyone post your G2005 CONJOURNALS to ASK GREG by the end of August. I've asked Gorebash to shut down the ASK GREG Submit function at about midnight on August 31st. So before memories get even hazier, please take a few minutes to write up your experiences and cut and paste them here.
G2005 - Monday, August 1
11:30am. I went down to the art room to collect the kids' art that hadn't sold. (Some of it had!) Spent the entire day saying good-byes to various people as they took off.
12:00pm. Time for my final panel: Creating Original Properties. Talked about DOC SHAKESPEARE. Also showed the animatic "sizzle tapes" for MECHA-SAPIENS (which I developed with Vic Cook and Greg Guler) and KIDD/HERO (which I developed with DAG Entertainment and Vic Cook). Thom came in during the panel to say his goodbyes. Hopefully, he had an easier flight back to L.A. than the one that brought us here.
1:30pm. The auction began with a piece called "Bonanza" by Spike -- which depicted Hudson, Brooklyn, Lexington & Broadway as (respectively) Ben, Adam, Joe and Hoss Cartwright. Now the day before in the silent auction, my daughter had put in a bid on Liz's "Leo" piece and gotten it. And my son had bid $5 on Bonanza. All this was done with Beth's permission. We were willing to buy them each a five-dollar piece of art. But Benny noticed that someone had bid $10 after him on Bonanza. Without asking us, he bid $15. That someone then bid $20. And Benny bid $30!!!!! Thus sending the thing to the live auction on Monday. We were stunned. But he offered to pay in the money he made on his art, so I told him that if the bid didn't go beyond $30 in the live auction, I would get it for him.
So anyway, Bonanza came up for bid. I bid $30. And then... I made faces. Yeah, Spike, I'm truly sorry. No one was forbidden from bidding higher. (And the person who had bid against Benny had already left the con.) But I'm not sure anyone was willing to bid against me or my mock-scowl, so $30 is all you get.
The kids love all the artwork they got from Liz and from Spike and from Jade. Beth has framed or is framing it all. It all goes up on their now very crowded walls. Karine also drew me a picture that I am very fond of -- though I don't see us putting it up on the wall.
I did some signing during the auction. But I also wandered around a bit. Fusion Demon had lost her Doc Shakespeare script, and I found it and returned it. But I also found Thom's script -- which I guess he had given to her -- and didn't realize it wasn't up for grabs. So it got auctioned off for $150. Thom's pants went for big money too, I think.
3:00pm. Closing Ceremonies. Brief and to the point.
4:00pm. A group of us went to Quark's for dinner. Patrick, Tony, Andrea, Trishanna, Cindy, Kyt, Julie, Karine, Jen, Seth, Seth, Jade, Scott, Marina, Liz. I finally got that messy burger that I've been wanting since San Diego. Plus onion rings AND fries.
7:15pm. Then I took a taxi back to the hotel. Packed up.
8:15pm. Checked out of the hotel and waited outside. Saw that guy in the big Top Hat. I'm sorry, I'm blanking on your name, but we had a nice talk.
8:30pm. Beth, Erin and Benny picked me up and we drove to my in-laws, where we read chapter ten of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And I had a blueberry muffin, minestrone soup and juice. I was still pretty wired, even after the family went to bed.
3:00am. Went to bed myself.
I'll wrap up this ConJournal tomorrow...
G2005 - Sunday, July 31
10:00am. Erin, Benny & Beth arrived at the hotel. They had actually arrived in Vegas the day before, but they were staying at my in-laws house, so I hadn't seen them since Thursday morning. We got them checked in, badged up and showed them the art show. Hung up a couple more of Benny's pictures.
10:30am. Second Day of Auditions with Thom & Jen. Erin auditioned, and did great. We had a number of good people the second day too.
11:45am. Jen & Thom & I went back to Guadelajara's again for our casting lunch. I had a Roast Beef Dip, Fries and a Pepsi. We had some really tough casting choices to make. A lot of good people for only 16 roles and two understudies.
1:00pm. Jen & I posted cast lists at five different locations. I wasn't going to take any chances.
1:30pm. Had a panel next on W.I.T.C.H., the series that I'm working on now. The location got tossed around a bit, but we finally wound up in the ConSuite. I showed the animatic "Pilot" created by the series' first set of producers, who were pushed sideways a bit by Disney, who replaced them with a second set of producers, who were the showrunners for the first season. All four of those producers were then let go, and I did Season Four. I tell this story to show that it can happen to anyone in this business. God knows, it's happened to me. Anyway, it was a fun panel, but I felt very restricted as to what I could talk about. I don't think the entire first season has aired yet, and I didn't want to spoil anything for their stuff, let alone MY second season stuff, which won't begin airing until December at the earliest. But next year's WITCH panel at G2006, should really kick some ass. We'll have a bunch of writers and actors there. Anyway, I recommend checking out the show. We have some really fun stuff planned. It's one of the most fun shows I've EVER worked on.
3:00pm. We had our Radio Play Rehearsal. Everyone showed up, which meant our understudies didn't have much to do, but I hope they enjoyed the process at least. I had fun. It was a great group.
4:30pm. The Radio Play. Again, everyone showed up. This year we were doing an original live-action pilot called "DOC SHAKESPEARE", written by myself & Samuel Bernstein. *UNSOLD*.
Here's the cast list:
Susanna Shakespeare - Laurean Broadbent
Judith Shakespeare - Jen Anderson
Mike Santos - Erik Mambu
Jeff Wylie - Seth Jackson
Anita Santos - Kaylle
Luís Santos - Eric Tribou
Tess Derbyville - Sarah McEvoy
Hamnet Shakespeare - Erin Weisman
Aaron Moore - Adam Leigh
Lewis Santos - Echo Eberle
Arthur Soames - Revel
Ralph - Thom Adcox
Jonas Kent - Alex Garg
Doris - Lanny Fields
Mort - Bruce Lane
Nathan - Vani Shaw
Understudies - Tracy Prelog, Anthony Zucconi
Narrator - Greg Weisman
Everyone really did a great job. I was very pleased with the response.
5:30pm. The family and I went back to my hotel room, to hang out for a while.
6:00pm. Banquet. The four of us were told where to sit, but we were sitting alone and there was some confusion as to how or whether anyone else was supposed to be chosen to join us. Eventually, the Leonard Family (Susan, Robert, Chloe & Carly) joined us and so did GXB, though I think we were too dull for Greg, as he bailed on us at some point. It became a very family oriented discussion there. Erin won the big Gargoyle centerpiece, and Susan was very nice and gave Benny the Garg Puzzle Cube thing. Appreciated, but very unnnecessary. The food was great, I thought. Salad, veggies, rice, eggplant, meat, onions.
No Q&A -- which surprised me. I guess there's just not much left to ask me and Thom. Though I'd think everyone would have wanted a shot at Dave.
After dinner, we went upstairs again and the kids changed into their costumes. GREAT COSTUMES -- created of course by Eden. Last Halloween, Cindy made Benny a Goliath costume (which he reprised for the con) and Erin a Marilyn Monroe costume (which Cindy then added wings to, to transform it into a HOLLY costume, i.e. the mascot of G2001 & G2006).
After they were dressed, we went down to Lanny's room, where Benny got painted purple and Erin got a few make-up highlights. We hung out there awhile with Cindy, Abram, Jen, Karine, Lanny, etc.
9:00pm. Dave, Thom and myself judged the costume contest (after dessert - apple pie, Banana Cream Pie, Swan Puff, Pepsi). Some great costumes...
Erin's Holly won best non-canon character
Benny's Goliath won best canon character
Fusion Demon won best cosplay
Noel's Werefox (with an honorable mention to Jade's La Belle Elisa) won best cosplay.
Eden's sexy Banshee won 1st in canon.
Revel's great Jackal won 2nd in canon.
Onyx won in non-canon.
Tony & Thom won cutest couple.
Andrea won the Thom Adcox Memorial Award.
Shara as Future Tense Brooklyn won both the Gorelisa Award and Best in Show.
Beth, Erin & Benny left at that point to head back to my in-laws and call it a night.
We gave out the art awards too, but I didn't write all those down. I know that Liz's amazing Zodiac series won Best in Show, among others.
After that, I just hung out talking... which is of course one of my favorite things...
Who was there? Thom, Seth, Tony, Andrea, Carol, Dave, Marina, Flanker, Ahkento, Liz, Trishanna, Jen, etc. (I know I'm missing a ton of people. Sorry.)
Finally, we called it a night....
G2005 - Saturday, July 30
10:30am. Aborted Mug. I showed up. So did Carol. But no one else... :(
Oh, well. Gave me a chance to have breakfast with Carol and Dave Schwartz -- again at Guadelajara's. (Tomato juice, scrambled eggs, sausage, hash browns, pancakes.) I'm afraid I didn't really have the opportunity to sample many of the Palace's restaurant options. Didn't even make it to the Buffet. But I always love breakfast food.
12:00pm. Next up, Dave and I (Thom was a no-show) took on the Development and Production Panel, discussing the entire process of creating and producing an animated series from start to finish. That was fun. Just hanging with Dave is fun. He's a great guy. I hope a bunch of you got a chance to get to know him.
1:30pm. Voice Acting Panel with Thom. I think this went very well. I'm using the same materials I've been using for years, and I should probably get some new ones... but (a) it's hard to find the time and (b) these materials really do a great job at illustrating the basic (very basic) points that Thom and I want to emphasize in the panel. But people must be getting sick of them. Well, we'll see about next year. Anyway, we had some good readers. It was fun, and a nice preamble to...
3:00pm. Auditions. The first set. As is traditional, Thom and Jen and I handled auditions while Cat (Kat?) and ... and... ARGH... I'm blanking out on another name... worked the door. We got some very good people. We were to have more auditions the next day, but Day One gave me confidence that we'd be able to cast the show.
4:30pm. Next up was the SLAVE LABOR GRAPHICS, CREATURE COMICS.COM panel with myself, Dan Vado and Marty Lund. Dan showed his slide show, which included glimpses of all his upcoming Disney Licensced Books: TRON, HAUNTED MANSION, WONDERLAND and, of course, GARGOYLES. For that all we have to show is one gorgeous NEW piece of pro-art depicting Goliath and Elisa. Illustrated by CCC Art Director Greg Guler and colored by the folks at SLG, the piece really kicks some ass! We talked about the upcoming GARGOYLES comic. A lot is still up in the air, but we're all now fully committed to getting this book out in the first half of 2006 -- i.e. sometime between January and June. I know that's a pretty big window, but we'll keep you posted as we begin to nail things down.
Dan was very favorably impressed by the Garg fandom and plans to make SLG a BIG presence at next year's Gathering 2006 in Los Angeles.
6:00pm. We all wanted to grab some dinner, but the wait at Macaroni Grill was like FOREVER. And I had a poker tournament to play in at 7:30pm, and many of the girls were planning to take off to throw Laurean her bachelorette party. So we (me, Adam, Lexy, Tony, Andrea, Patrick, Anna, Si, Marty, Jen, Karine and Kyt) wound up eating at McDonalds (#2 meal and a peach pie).
Si, Lexy, Jen, Cindy, Kyt, Andrea, Trishana and Karine took off for the aforementioned party. And the MEN headed for the Poker Tourney.
7:30pm. Charity Poker Tournament. Competing were myself, Marty, Tony, Eric, Adam, Chris and Thom. All for great charities. (Mine was Daphneyland, a Basset Hound Rescue Organization in Acton, California -- where we got our two new dogs, Abraham and Sami.)
I had NEVER played Texas Hold'em before, but Kathy bought me a book: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Poker". It was somewhat helpful... though it did make me feel like: "If this is the Idiot's Guide, I need the Moron's Guide." But I did pretty well. We had a pro dealer named Matt. Heavy chips. Good times.
I busted Tony out first. That shocked him, I think. Marty then got killed by Thom, who went out next. I think I slammed him when he thought he had won with two aces in the hole, but I had something like three of a kind or two pair or a full house or something.
Adam then bit the dust, and it was down to myself, Gore and Chris. Chris had been playing slow and easy, letting us all take each other out. But by the time we were down to three, Gore was nearly busted, and I had a decent pot, but Chris had almost all the play money. It finally came down to one hand where both Gore and Chris went all in. I knew I could fold and stay in the game for longer, but I felt it would just be a game of attrition at that point. If Chris took Gore out, I wouldn't have the resources to fight him. So I gambled on a weak hand... and lost. (Though I did beat Gore, to come in second.)
Anyway, I did pretty well and had a great time. It was fun to play with other people's money. I'd do that again anytime!!
9:30pm. I led a HUGE crowd to the Station's Ice Cream Store. Don't remember all who were there, but I know it included myself, Thom, Tony, Lanny, Marina, Ryan, Patrick, Norcumi, Carol and Dave. I had a Banana Royale.
Then we stopped by the Arcade, but that doesn't really jazz me. I asked what else we could do. (I usually run out of ideas after food.) Someone suggested swimming... so we made our way to the pool.
10:00pm. Took a quick couple of dips in the main pool, but we mostly hung out in the jacuzzi: me, Lanny, Adam, Scott, Carter, Thom, Seth, Eric, Tony, Marty and Marina -- the one brave girl willing to hang with ten dopey guys. Marina, whom I remember as a KID from G1997 is a real sweetie. *But man does she make me feel old!*
12:00am. Called it a night, when the guard kicked us out of the pool.
2:30am. Turned out the lights and went to sleep.
More coming soon...