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RIPOSTES 2006-04 (Apr)

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Patrick writes...

Gathering Diary - Day 4
Saturday, August 7

I woke up at about quarter to nine, made myself presentable, and went on up to the con suite, where a collective decision was made to go with the buffet at the hotel restaurant so that we could hopefully get the day started on time. I had eggs, bacon, ham, pancakes and baked beans. I've never seen baked beans served in a breakfast buffet before, so maybe that's a Canadian thing. At any rate, it was food.

I spent the morning helping out where I was needed. The Radio Play needed more women to try out, so I watched the Art Show table for a while when Cindy was drafted to audition. When the Auction started, I did my best not to get sucked into it and instead got sent to watch the con suite, which was fine with me because I'd had more than my fill of Auction chaos in 2001. I relieved Kaylee so she could go watch the SCA weapons demonstration, and sat down to watch the last three episodes of "Awakenings" and then "Thrill of the Hunt" and "Temptation."

Surprisingly, there were very few fans in and out of the con suite. At most, there were five or six people total in the room at any one time while I was there. At one point, A Fan wandered, staring at his feet and complaining about being unable to find the hotel's shoe shine guy. Given that he was wearing sneakers, I found that moment insanely amusing.

Eventually, Kaylee returned to relieve me, so I headed back downstairs to see what was going on. I poked my head in the door of the room where the SCA demonstration was finishing up, but everyone was in leather armor and protective masks so I couldn't really tell who was who. Then I spotted Carol and Kathy sitting near the registration desk, so I wandered over there to say hi and find out if Carol had heard anything new about Keith's flight plans.

I must have wandered away for a moment to check on what was going on in the other rooms, because when I came back, Carol caught me and introduced me to David Grabias. I shook his hand and had said "Nice to meet you" before it even clicked in my head that he was with the video crew, and thus I was ambushed to come downstairs to the ballroom for about ten minutes and be interviewed about "Gargoyles." So there may be a sound bite of me on the DVD, who knows. I don't remember much of what I said in response to the questions they asked. But at the end as I was signing the release, I had one of those "it's a small world" moments with Howard Shack, the cameraman. He asked whereabouts in the Cleveland area I lived, and when I said Euclid he said that he'd lived in Euclid, and started naming off streets that I knew.

A Fan was next to be interviewed, so I scooted off to check in with Carol again. As near as she could tell, Keith had actually gotten on the plane this time, so it seemed like things would be set for us to pick him up at the airport around 6:00 pm. Next up, though, was the Radio Play, so I headed into the Auditorium to find a seat. This year's performance was "The Journey," with the scene order slightly revised by Greg to be closer to the way he originally wanted them. A number of people from con staff were on the cast this year, including Rob as Goliath and Cindy as Margot Yale ("Madame, they burned witches like you in the Middle Ages!"). The real scene-stealer, though, was Michael as Vinny. "Hey, can you believe it?"

After the Radio Play, Carol and I headed out together in the van to fetch Keith from the airport. His plane landed at 5:15 pm, so we were certain that even if it took 40 minutes to get through customs, we'd be able to have him in the van by no later than 6:15 pm, and get back to the hotel with plenty of time left to join everyone else at the banquet. When we arrived at the airport, however, the place was a madhouse. We came to find out later that about ten international flights had all landed around the same time as Keith's flight, and it ended up taking Keith almost two hours to get through customs.

I did my best to stand lookout, but the crowd was so thick it was impossible to get a clear view of the doors where people were exiting customs. Several times, Carol went to ask people who were walking out what time they had landed, because after the first hour of waiting, we were starting to wonder if we had missed Keith entirely. Finally, at about quarter past seven, Carol got a call on her cell phone from Keith's manager, relaying a message from Keith that he had just gotten out of customs and was waiting near the currency exchange booth. It took us several minutes just to make our way 50 feet through the crowd to find him.

Keith had a skycap in tow with a huge cart loaded up with luggage, so I left him and Carol and ran (literally) back out to the parking garage to bring the van around. At the curb, I helped the skycap load the bags, then turned around to discover both Carol and Keith had suddenly vanished. A moment later, they reappeared and it was off to the hotel, as fast as I dare drive with the voice of Goliath riding shotgun.

From the get-go, Keith was incredibly warm and personable, telling us about how much he enjoyed doing "Gargoyles" and saying "You know, I want to be like Goliath when I grow up." It was hard to keep my eyes on the road, in fact, with him sitting there next to me. He has such a powerful voice, it just makes you want to maintain eye contact. As we pulled up in front of the hotel, Keith commented that he was hungry, but it was quarter to eight at that point, and Carol and I honestly didn't know if there would still be any food left from the banquet.

I helped the bellhop unload Keith's bags, then hurried to park the van back in the garage while Carol showed Keith to the front desk to get checked in. When I got back up to the lobby, he had just gotten his room keys. I'm still not sure how, but somehow we convinced Keith to come downstairs and say hello to all the fans gathered at the banquet. I ran ahead, not even sure if they were still waiting, and the first staff person I spotted was Jen. I whispered to her that "the guest of honor is here" about two seconds before Keith and Carol walked in the door behind me, and the room erupted in cheers and applause.

Keith was shown to an empty seat at a table near the front where a shrimp cocktail appetizer was still waiting, and Cindy pulled me down into a similar empty seat near her. Apparently, Cindy and the others at that table had guarded our food for us, threatening to visit bodily harm upon any wait staff who dared attempt to remove it. So a big thank you to them, for keeping both me and Keith from starving. But I also have to extend major thanks to Carol, too, who didn't get a chance to eat at all, because she had to get in a cab and run straight back to the airport to meet Keith's family, who were arriving on later flights. I've already told Carol I'm going to buy her dinner at G2005, so here's me saying it for the record, too.

Greg returned to the room a few moments after Keith arrived, and Keith did Q&A as he ate, though it was tough for parts of the room to hear him over the loud music coming from the class reunion party next door. I didn't stick around for the entire Q&A, though, so I missed the part where Keith allegedly yelled "Someone shoot that horse!" when someone in the next room started singing a karaoke version of "My Way." Instead, I quickly finished my desert and hurried off with Laurean and Cindy to get into costume for the Masquerade.

I had spent an hour or two at a time on and off for the past six weeks working on my costume but I had yet to wear it, so I was rather anxious to see how the entire outfit looked when it all came together. I had previously costumed as Puck for the 1998 Gathering, but the old costume was in such poor shape that I was only able to save the leggings and the sash. Everything else, I remade, paying a bit more attention this time to detail. And overall, I think Puck 2.0 turned out to be pretty damn kick-ass.

Of course, there were a whole lot of kick-ass costumes this year, and many of them belonged to con staff. Karine had the perfect costume as pregnant Fox, Alan and Jen made a great couple as Macbeth and Gruoch, Kaylee looked fabulous as Princess Katharine, Cindy was steaming hot as Titania, Liz rocked as Yama, and Laurean was absolutely uber-cute as pageboy Tom. The fans had lots of wonderful costumes, too. And if someone can get me a transcript of the lyrics sung by our Best of Show winner, Loupy, I will be eternally grateful. It takes guts to filk to the tune of "Rubber Ducky."

One of the strangest things about the Masquerade this year… this was the first time I didn't get sweltering hot while wearing a wig. So finally the air conditioning being on overdrive in those meeting rooms paid off. At one point, I startled an old guy who was getting on the elevator, too. "Whoa, I thought you were Santa Claus!" was I think what he said, after I had explained there was a masquerade going on downstairs. One thing I learned, though. There's a reason why they call them riding boots and not walking boots. Owie. After about two hours and several trips back and forth to the con suite to fetch A/V supplies for Lord and Lady Macbeth, the Puck was quite glad to go change back into his human alter-ego. He did stick around long enough, though, to watch Queen Titania take the mic and sing "All That Jazz." Wow. To borrow a phrase from Jim Carrey, "Smokin!"

When I came back down to the ballroom after getting out of costume, there was more karaoke going on and I discovered that Carol had finally returned from the airport. In the end, all of Keith's family was finally accounted for, so everyone was happy. Then someone decided to play "Y.M.C.A." and everything went a little mad. We were using Jen's laptop to play the karaoke, but it couldn't display the lyrics from Liz's karaoke CDs. And unbelievably enough, no one knew any of the words to the song, so what we got was about two dozen people dancing and singing a rendition that went like this:

"Young man! Something, something, something.
I said, young man! Something, something, something.
I said, young man! Something, something, something.
Something, some… thing… some… thing… something.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A…"

It was a three-minutes that you really had to be there for to fully appreciate. "It's a little bit funny," though, because the last karaoke song of the evening ended up being mine. I found the Elton John tune "Your Song" one of Liz's CDs and decided to give it a try. It was the first time I've ever sung in front of people, but it was fun and my only regret is that Cindy wasn't there to hear me sing a song from "Moulin Rouge." So next year, Cins, we're doing the "Elephant Medley," okay? ;)

The rest of the night was spent in the con suite, talking about all those things that are most humorous while the brain is in a semi-conscious state. A small group of us stayed up with Greg until around 5:30 am, when it was time for him to go get packed up so he could leave. I'm sure he still thinks I was the walking dead when I drove him to the airport, but honestly, I hit my second wind sometime around 2:30 am as the live-action "Sailor Moon" thing that someone was playing on their computer was ending. So at 6:00 am on Sunday morning, I drove Greg to the airport, dropped him off, then came back to the hotel for about two hours of sleep before it was time to kick off the final day of the convention.

Greg responds...

And thanks for the ride too...!

Response recorded on April 21, 2006

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