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!