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The day of Thor:
Like last year, the Gathering is a family affair for me. My mom, sister, and two brothers all went to the con. ROAD TRIP!!!
My clan headed out at around 10:30, which was kinda surprising considering that usually when we say we're going to leave at a certain time, we leave 2 hours later, but this time we only left an hour late.
We knew we were on a tight budget from the get go. We could only stay at the hotel one night, but fortunately: I'm an Army Brat. We used to live near Chicago, and we were able to crash with an old friend. It was to her house we were headed.
Even though we were tight on money, we splurged at an Arby's on the trip down. Tris and Kathleen (or Phoenix-Talon as she prefers to call herself whenever she can find an excuse) slept part of the way, whilest my mom and I took turns driving. I expected the trip to take longer than it did, so did my mom. We arrived at Marty's (our friend)house after only about 4 hours, though the Yahoo map took us there through a lot of back-roads.
We got there and talked a little about the con with her, showed her my Grimorum Arcanorum Anthology from the '06 gathering, where I had a story as well. She'd set up the guest room for Kat and my mom, and the camper for me and my brothers. I tried to sleep in the camper, but the mosquitoes decided I was an all-you-can-eat-buffet and wanted to test the "all-you-can-eat" part.
I grabbed my pillow and the blanket I bought in Madagascar (hand-woven, high-quality, and very warm) and crashed on her couch. I couldn't get much sleep, so I spent most of the time watching TV, and thinking in full gargoyle-ish mode. I couldn't wait.
MORE TO COME:
The family that gathers together...
TUESDAY, JUNE 24TH.
Left the house with David A.K.A. VidTheKid at around noon. Got gas and then an oil change (also need to replace the air filter soon) at a local auto repair, followed by lunch. Then we finally hit the road. Arrived at Arlington Heights around 8 PM and checked into a La Quinta. Tried to call my cousin, who lives in Chicago, to make plans, but no go. She was going out of town for a friend of hers who was due to give birth within a day or so. Disappointing for me, but congrats to the new mother.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25TH
Bought some books at Border's and non-perishable food items (plus the new Futuama: Beast Of A Billion Backs) at Meijer's before
Did some basic exploration of downtown Chicago. VidTheKid tried to take me up to the 103rd floor of the Sears Tower, but I disappointed him (and myself) when my fear got control of me, and I just couldn't do it. Dammit. I HATE that I am afraid of heights. Oh, well, at least we saved $13. Just gotta think positive. Anyhow, when he'd gone up without me, I kept myself busy (and quickly grew bored) at the gift shop in the basement, trying (and failing) constantly to work up the willpower to go join him up there.
THURSDAY, JUNE 26TH.
Visited Woodfield Mall. Bought a 7 inch screen portable DVD player at Radio Shack for $69 (plus a $30 rebate) and some cheap (4 for $12) DVDs at FYE. Found 2 video games (but I only bought 1 to save $$$) that I'd been looking for at a GameStop. Had a pepperoni Pizza lunch at Sbarro's. Eventually, VidTheKid and I drove to O'Hare airport to pick up A Fan, and the three of us headed out. Stopped at this 50's styled diner (the atmosphere and the employees were 1950's-like. The customers weren't.) and then drove around trying to find the Orrington (I guess even full fledged roadgeeks like VidTheKid can get lost, even if he would say the contrary). Having already checked out of the La Quinta, of course, we let A Fan check in (we paid him for our share via a check later) before going to our room for a night of relaxation.
Went downstairs for a beer, and made the bad mistake of trying to say hello to some of the guests at what I didn't KNOW had been a private party, which I would hear some about later. Damn. *sighs* I can be an idiot sometimes. A friendly idiot, but still a little naive at times. Oh, well, just something to learn from, right?
End transmission. Cobra out.
NEXT: The Con, Day 1
Saying hi is fine. Don't sweat it.
Thursday - I had school so I had to get a ride home from Kerry Boyd so we could go ahead and start packing her car for the drive from GA to Chicago. Shortly after 11pm Vox Mortuum got home and we headed out for the 11+ hour drive to the con. Getting there was pretty uneventful.
Friday - We made it to the hotel shortly before noon so we were able to go ahead and check in and get set up in the dealer's room. We gave Karine her commission and she literally bounced over to get her. It was so cute. =D
Hung out in the dealer's room helping my girl and schmoozing. After a bit we were able to give the con mascot dolls that were made to the con-chair (doing so has become a bit of a tradition and our way of thanking them for all their hard work). The best part though was that we were able to give the other guests theirs. Seeing Greg Weisman, Keith David, and Thom Adcox squeeing over the dolls that my girl created made me very proud. It was wonderful seeing everyone loving her work so much.
Eventually Opening Ceremonies started. They showed the entries for the music video contest which made me want to do one or two of my own but aside from one idea which I'm not divulging yet, I don't know what I'm going to do. The three of us were starving so we slipped out during Greg's presentation of pitches and such because we'd seen them last year. Went out for dinner then staggered back to the room and pretty much just fell out.
To be continued when I'm a bit more awake.
Take your time. I'm always here.
Saturday: After only sleeping a few hours I woke up and was still feeling the effects of the 6 hour liquid heart attack drink. In fact I would say I was feeling more so. I rarely bolt of bed all hyper. I tried to ad some finishing touches on my presentation (which was sloppily thrown together a few days before). I auditioned for the Radio Play. The play is one of those things that sort of don't want to do, but when I sit and watch it I regret not participating. I love the auditioning part, I get a weird thrill out of it. Even though I've only done it a couple of times, all the material was super familiar, so I did Al Pacino reading Brooklyn. The guys laughed and I got a part. Thankfully not as big as last years. I went to Josh Silver's panel on careers in entertainment. He was a really cool dude to talk to and I hope he keeps coming to more Gatherings. I had lunch with Sarah and Aaron, and I got nervous that I would be late for my own panel on weapons. I changed into some more formal attire, grabbed my laptop and at the last minute realized there was no way to hook it up to the large flat screen monitors in the room. So I would load up an image and pass my laptop around. Overall I was very dissappointed with my panel. I didn't have any firearms or other weapons to show people, my material felt very dry. The room was full and noboby left, which was great, but the energy wasn't there. Jenn sounds interested in having me run the panel again next year. If I can make it to LA it'll be much better. Fourth time's a charm...right?
I was talking with Ed and Phil after my panel and suddenly it was time for the Radio Play. I had two smaller parts this time around. I won't get into details but I really think I bombed out on my first part. Sorry Greg. Sitting behind Keith and hearing him read Goliath was definitely my fan nerd freak out moment of the weekend. So was finally getting caught up on the comics and seeing Karine's amazing work.
After the Play I had dinner. A bunch of us went to this fancy steak joint with an over energetic waiter. Being the luckiest nerdy fanboy in the world, I got to sit with not only Thom, but Karine AND Keith! Okay brainfart time: sitting across from me, we talking about Japan and stuff. I'll remember your name as soon as I turn this computer off...
I ate a giant steak and tried to act like an adult and ordered a vodka martini. There was a tiny dead fly in it when it arrived so I asked Thom 'where's Pupert these days? Look he's in my glass!' I guess child celebrities always turn out like that.
By the time of the Blue Mug I was super tired but managed to show everyone that Navy ad on youtube that compares a Japanese recruiting video with one of Keith's. Then I fell into a small coma.
Sunday: Another great breakfast in the hotel's diner then I took in some amazing art and panels. I want to get Greg a military dress uniform and those blue curtains with the Pentagon logo behind him and he can sit there and go 'I'm not answering that...I have no information at this time...I'm not answering that...a wizard did it...'
I thought the Iron Artist competition sounded like fun, only to learn I would be subjected to horrible cruelties under Karine's menacing gaze. Macaroni art? TABERNAC!!
I was too disgusted with my entry and fled for safety afterwards, but I found out that I got honorable mention for use of boobs. At some point I got some comics off Karine and had her and Greg sign them.
Much like Saturday, it was suddenly the evening which meant the banquet and masquerade. I skipped lunch and really enjoyed the food. Karine's modern and Aaron's medevil Hunter costumes were phenomenal. I didn't know I would be attending this year until the Wednesday before the Con, so I didn't prepare any kind of costume. I never really care until I see everyone in their get ups having an awesome time. There's always next year.
Monday: I pretty much got up, ate, packed and ran around trying to make sure I said bye to everyone. Which sucks. I always hate this part of the Con. I had a long drive ahead of me and I wasn't looking forward to it. My car made me nervous when it failed to start after fueling up in Evanston. I stopped at my friend's place in MI again. If wrestling with a hyper black lab puppy doesn't improve your mood nothing will. My trip was again longer than I expected but it was worth it, I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Overall (Cons are listed first because I'm not ending on a sad note):
Cons: Not much one on one with Greg. Next year there better be an air hockey table because that's a reliable way to get his attention.
I can't remember everyone's names and I feel stupid.
I was dissappointed with my panel, and my performance in Greg's Play.
All that driving was horrendous.
Pros: Got to spend more time with Karine, Susan, Jennifer and got to know them a bit better. Meeting Josh and Keith again is always a pleasure. Oh yeah and that Thom guy is kinda cool I guess ;)
My panel was pretty full and everyone seemed (mostly) awake. Got to meet Phil who had some insights as a Navy Corpsmen. Nobody's complained about my panel...yet.
Susan ran a f***ing great Con. The hotel was beautiful, the area was great (lots of food choices, easy to find everything). Good job Susan!
Lots of first and second timers. You guys are all super. Vicky flew from the UK! That is so awesome. I hope you guys make it out to LA next year!
I'm always up for a little air hockey.
Honorable Mentions and Corrections- (otherwise known as things I forgot to put in my con journal.)
BrooklynX was also with us at Chilli's on Friday afternoon.
I had a nice conversation with guest Josh Silver at the Masquerade and I really wish I had spent a little more time talking with him. Maybe he'll come back as a guest soon.
There were some AWESOME first-time Gathering con goers. Arazia, Ranmaru, Jillian, VickyUK, and I think she was a walk-in so I don't have her name written down, but she had short brown hair and I wanna mention her too even though her name is escaping me. I hope they had a good time. I really liked them.
After I said goodbyes on Monday, we waited just outside for Aaron. Now, in order to escape what we call in my family 'Puerto Rican goodbyes' (The phenomena of saying goodbye to everyone, giving them a kiss and then getting caught up in conversation so you have to say goodbye AGAIn, and that repeating three or four times- so really you never actually LEAVE. The PR part is by virtue of BEING Puerto Rican, but what have you... I guess other cultures have those sort of goodbyes too.)
But I got a wonderfully warm hug goodbye from Keith (so many hugs this convention!) AND he sang a song for me. It was fitting and lovely- and while it's obvious that Keith can sing/talk powerfully- it's the delicateness of his singing voice that really drives home how TALENTED he is. T'was blissful.
Also, Keith needs to learn 'The Old Man of the Mountain'- which was a song Cab Calloway did for a Betty Boop cartoon in the 1930's. I was a little surprised he didn't know it- but there's always stuff to learn.
Was REALLY spoiled this year.
Chicks are always falling for guys with... talent!
Friday: Friday was great in that I spent large chunks of Thursday preparing for it. Had the car ready, had all my travel paperwork completed. I planned on grabbing food on the road but had to wait for laundry to finish...by 1230 I had reached escape velocity and was on my way to Chicago from Meaford Ontario, (google map it, it's bloody far).
I stopped in Battle Creek MI to have dinner with a good friend I haven't seen in awhile. That ended up eating almost two hours! Once back on the road I drank one of those supicious 6 hour energy shots. They work. I got to the hotel around 1130 or midnight and couldn't find my roomie. So I talked a guy at the front desk into giving me a pass card to the room. I showered and met up with Susan, Jenn, Karine, Thom, Greg, Mara and all the usual suspects in Susan's room who seemed to be running their own Blue Mug.
Gotta run, post more in a bit...
That's Flanker for ya. He's there. He's gone. Like the wind...
Thursday- We left for the airport around twelvish- our flight got minorly delayed and then we got delayed in the air A LOT. Luckily, we had not anticipated Chicago traffic so Lyn and Erik were delayed too- which means we met somewhere in the middle.
Tangeant: From above, Chicago looks like Broccoli. The trees are plentiful and round and the land is mostly green. Like broccoli. Las Vegas looks like a Borg cube at night, from above, because of the strict square configuration of its streetlights. San Antonio is a patch work of earth colors and construction. New York from above looks like... well, home. But Chicago is pleasantly vegatable-like.
We stopped off at an Ihop before reaching our hotel- which was about three blocks away from the con hotel. We were tired, we were frustrated by traffic. We slept muchly.
Friday- Got in before reg desk was open. There was the minimal 'ice breaker' awkwardness that always is just before reg opens. But it melted REALLY fast. I stole lots of food from the con suite. (Well, just two apples one orange and two waters- but a LOT of the tea, and the tea is going to be my best friend for a while now as I am home.)
Set up in the art show.Hung with Hecate, Jenbob and her boi (Why is it I blank on his name? I can see his face clearly in my mind- and they both give the best hugs.) No one else had entered in the Adult art section- which was to my benifit later on.
I did a quick sketch freebie for Patrick (I like drawing for Patrick as he likes a lot of the same subject matter I like) and mainly relaxed in there before Opening Ceremonies.
Met and spoke with the camera crew- who were very nice people. Went to Chilli's with Ckayote, Harvester of Eyes, Jillian, Kimberly, Mandolin and Carmine (Carmine is a serious flirt, btw) as well as the people I usually hang out with, Spacebabie, Revel, Erik, Lynati and Aaron. I had Chicken Crispers (my standard at Chilli's) and a Mango margarita. All was yummy.
(The irony being that in regular every day life I don't drink since there's no cause to socially, so I imbibe a touch more casually at the con.)
I was REALLY congested the WHOLE convention and I think it's because I had not smoked the whole time I was there. It's healthier, sure- but not being able to smell sorta makes the transitional period not a happy. Saw and spent time with DTaina and Leo and A Fan, and (Drat, what is your name! You had the gargoyle ragatone music last year) and Chyna Rose and.. and... DrAT! I need a better memory. It's like a sieve.
We had Opening Ceremonies and, to my delight, the podium was set up so that you could see the people's side view through the mirror behind them. Visual fun. More visual fun with the Gargoyles Music Videos (YAYE LYN, we love our present! Demona would SO be a Joan Jett fan)
After opening I went to dinner with Karine, Jennifer and Greg to discuss Blue Mug Productions- we had pad thai and crab ragoon and other delicious things. Our waiter was ultra nice. After that we had ice cream at Ben and Jerry's. I don't know WHAT most meetings are like that Greg said we were very productive. Maybe my standards are higher than reality? There are benefits to not living the 'we have meetings' lifestyle.
Soon I found myself hanging out in Susan's room with Gorebash, Patrick, Susan, Karine, Greg, GxB, Jen, Flanker, Thom, Sammy, Seth, Rebecca.. and? I think I got everyone there? It was fun. And many hours passed and I nearly ended up bunking with Karine and Jen and Rebecca because I didn't feel comfortable walking the street at night by myself. (I do in NY because that's *my* city and , perversely, it's safe to walk at night if you know where. This was a college town with some unsavory elements thrown in.) But I called my Aaron and he is a supportive wonderful gentleman who knows the cardinal rule about walking a lady home. So I waited downstairs and had polite conversation with a very drunk and angry young man.
Now, on principle I believe in hearing people out. So I sat politely and kept my eye on the security guard who kept walking OUT OF LINE OF SIGHT. Way to keep a girl safe, bro! But it was alright as he was soon distracted by his drunken friends (as it became obvious he was a guest of the hotel drunk and not some random drunk) And not only did Aaron show, Erik and Lynati did as well and we had some great conversation on the walk back. We went to bed, and slept quite nicely.
I got up around six, even though I was asleep around three or four. (I can sleep eight hours, but it is normally in two hour increments.) I went back to sleep. Eight o'clock. So I took a shower and got dressed and did make up. (Another 'con special occassion thing') I didn't audition for Radio Play for two reasons- one, I had panels directly in conflict with it and, two, more importantly, I was talking funny THE WHOLE con. Seriously. Do I sound like that? Lyn and I walked to the hotel, and I bought a dragon puppet at the art fair next door. I got in I social butterflied. (Or social multitasking, whatever you like to call it.) Spent time in the 'lobby' area, the con suite and art show. I caught the end of Karine's panel and then it was time for mine.
Really, it's just an excuse to draw naked people. But I had fun and I hope people learned something or found it interesting, or just took something away from it like the idea that beauty is where you see it. (I kinda ranted a little about curvy girls and their under-ratedness and I got good reaction from that. For it is true.) Then there was radio play.
What can you say about radio play? Other than, you should go see it if you have never? Everyone was really good and Jen called up a storm as she told the story of the Stone of Destiny as Shari. I wasn't surprised, magical convergence or whatever Macbeth calls it in 'Pendragon'. Not gonna spoil it for you. You shoulda been there or you were.
Then.. time passed. Did I show Greg art then? I did a LOT that weekend but the time is fuzzy to me. Eventually dispanded to eat at a pub and I had a delicious pot pie and I also tried clams on the half shell for the first time. Not as bad as I had feared- perhaps sushi makes you ready for anything. At the table was the usual cast of characters, and two or three first-years. I can see you clearly in my head, but the names are elluding me. But I mean you! Eventually there was Blue Mug-a-Guest.
It started not so Blue got Blue, not so Blue- etc. Always a good time.
Directly bed and then sleep.
I dressed up for Sunday, after having debated it with myself, but in retrospect I am glad I did. I'm not always blue jeans and t-shirts. Greg got it right away- but it is those early imprints that affect later preferences so much. Lynati and Kimberly and Greg did an awesome Biology and Culture panel, and I am still really impressed with Lynati's essay on gargoyle eye glow. I hung out more, did more commission work in the art room. I was going to do the Iron Artist competition but it involved a weakness that I cannot overcome- pasta.
I have clear memories of sucking at pasta art as a child and I was a little intimidated.
Saw the tail end of the auction, and then went back to our hotel room to change for the banquet. I wish more people had- it was a GORGEOUS room and I really think there should be some taking advantage of the elegance availible. We had the trivia contest and we were lucky to be sitting with (among other really nice folk) Matt from Station Eight. The competition was fierce, but our table won. Yaye!
We went down to Rebel and Spacebabie and GxB's room and hung out and we changed into our Masquerade costumes. Lynati and I were cat girls and Aaron was The Cheetah Pimp. (Cheetah print is a thing in our household. Love it.)
I have two complaints of that costume- I have a third degree jawline, which means my bottom teeth are slightly ahead of my top teeth. Which means with artifical fangs I can't close my mouth. Which means I can't pronounce words like 'physisists at Caltek' or 'Foggy Bottom'. Which means I am asked to, because I can't. (It's a 'The West Wing' reference.) On top of the congested, I varied from sounding stupid to sounding baby doll stupid. Actually, that's my only complaint, but I'm counting it twice.
We got a LOT of attention. A lot of positive attention. And, I hate to admit it, but I ate it up. And boy did we DANCE. I don't remember the last time I danced like that, if ever. The hip shaking, sure. But the full on dance steps? Must have been the cat girl costume. Very liberating. I danced with Lynati and Jenbob, and Karine, and Jen and Vox-I will take the time out to declare here and now, Vox is INCREDIBLE on the dance floor. She's a beautiful woman to begin with, very delicate features, and she just let's GO dancing. I was happy. I told her boyfriend Ethan so.
I even danced, a teensy, with Keith. Yaye. Most of the guys sat in a corner playing video games- but that didn't mean some weren't watching the huge amount of sheer female beauty on display on the dance floor.
Eventually, again, I found myself in Susan's room. To which I will say Ben Affleck > Matt Damon. Spent a very pleasant time with most of the group from Friday night- though numbers dwindled as the siren song of sleep called to them. A lotta love in that room.
Saturday: Caught the end of the fanfic panel, which had really good discussion, I felt, especially from Merlin Missy who I don't know if she knows if she is a THE in this fandom- but she is. So there. Then we announced, talked about, etc, at the Blue Mug Productions panel. I was smart and sat on Edmund's (the write) right. Well, mostly smart. I'm not usually that bratty though, honestly. I just work here.
Closing ceremonies was bittersweet as it always is for me, but we got through goodbyes like a bandaid- quick.
Thank you all for a wonderful time and for all the nifty ribbons I won. You can win ribbon too if you enter the art show. Come to the con! They spoil you there. (At least I felt spoilt.)
Erik, Lynati, Aaron and I, before we parted at the train station, went to the Field Museum and saw the Ghost and the Darkness- the infamous man-eating lions of Tsavo. They were beautiful and beneign and my heart went out to them. I don't see maliciousness in efficient predators. That's just nature. And I hear human is yummy.
We got home safe from a fast and uneventful flight.
Really- consider going to the Gathering next year and if you already know you can't afford to make it- start SAVING NOW for the next con after that! This is an experience that is worthwhile and even if you don't buy a coffee once a week that you normally would, you CAN afford it. You just have to commit to the idea and plan for it.
Now I sleep. Stay safe.
And the cake is a lie.
I like how you have a second Saturday after Sunday. I gotta try that.
Mr. Weisman, I am a journalist/reviewer for http://www.ComicMix.com and a big fan of your work. I will be attending the Gathering of the Gargoyles convention in Chicago and I wanted to ask if there would be anyway I could snag an interview with you for our readers. For your review, you can check out the kind of work we do at ComicMix.com and you can find previous interviews I've conducted at this link: http://alankistler.squarespace.com/journal/2007/11/20/alan-kistlers-interviews.html. My personal web-site is http://KistlerUniverse.com and my e-mail is KistlerAlan@gmail.com. Thank you in advance for your time.
Of course by now, the Gathering is passed-- but of course we did have that interview. Thanks!!
CON-ODYSSEY: GATHERING & CONvergence - Monday, July 7, 2009
12am - The Memorial Panel for those who have passed officially made the con a 5-day event. Chocolate Fish.
1am - A bunch of us hung out for hours. Chris, Ken, Lex, Tim, Windy and others.
5am - Back to the room.
5:30am - Sleep.
10:30am - Wake-up. Five hours. Not too bad for me.
11:30am - Packed up with some difficulty. All those extra t-shirts and the crochet'd Goliath made it tough to fit everything in. Lex and I headed to Axel and I had gumbo, an Onion Ring and an Axel burger.
4:20pm - My delayed flight finally took off.
6:20pm - Just barely made my connection to my L.A. flight.
9:30pm - Arrived at LAX.
10:00pm - Home.
And that's that. Finished just in time, because tomorrow I leave for Con-Odyssey II: San Diego ComicCon!! More when I return.
CON-ODYSSEY: GATHERING & CONvergence - Saturday, July 5, 2009
12am - Lex and I met up at COF2E2 and hung out chatting for hours, joined by James toward the end.
5am - I returned to my room and pretty much went right to sleep.
9:30am - Wake-up.
11am - I had a Buffy & Angel panel. Yeah, yeah, what am I doing on that panel? Just being a geeky fan.
2pm - Comic book panle w/Terry Beatty, Chris Jones, Mark Evanier, Marv Wolfman and Len Wein.
3:30pm - A panel on Continuity with Chris Jones and others.
4:30pm - Took a nap.
7:30pm - Dinner at Vantage with Lex. Coke, Bread, water, Tomato Soup, Edimame, Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans. Good food.
9:30pm - Comics as Movies Panel w/Terry.
11pm - Mature Comics Panel w/Hank, Damien and Eve. This was probably the one dud panel of the entire Con-odyssey. It should have been fun and raucous and raunchy like a blue mug. But we got off to a serious start and never quite found a rhythm, though Eve tried when she arrived. Felt strangely on the defensive -- for no particular reason. But I did pimp BlueMugProductions.com.
MORE TO COME...