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Gathering 2008 Journal - Day Two
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Woke up around 9ish, but lazed around until around 10. Surfed the Web for another hour before finally getting on my way. I headed up to the ninth floor to look for Dracandros and Ed, as well as to take a look around the other con rooms. Talked a bit with Greg B., looked at the dealer's room (a lot of T-shirts but not much else that appealed) and the con suite (honestly, not nearly casual enough for my tastes). After running into Dracandros and Ed, we took a walk through the art festival outside the hotel - some neat stuff on display, but a lot of it was too expensive (not to mention the difficulties involved in shipping it home). Did snag some tasty funnel cake, although the heavy dose of sugar (on top of a sugary breakfast) gave me a bit of a headache later.
I returned in time for the Combat and Weapons panel. Flanker, the fellow running this panel (a veteran of the Canadian Army who served in Afghanistan), wanted to use the conference room's TV screen, but it turned out the hotel charged for the cords to hook it to his laptop. So, he passed it around the audience instead. A fellow by the name of Phil was in the audience - when it was revealed he was with the U.S. Navy, Flanker encouraged some well-deserved applause. (We also learned a bit later Phil had served in Iraq.) Topics covered included:
- The difference between small and long arms, between other guns and carbines, between machine and submachine guns, and how some guns blur the lines between those distinctions.
- An explanation of how bullets work (interestingly, cops can use deadlier hollow-point ammunition, but soldiers can't).
- The mechanics of guns, including how automatic weapons work and how sniper rifles do, in fact, make noise.
- The tongue-in-cheek Rules of Gunfighting (i.e. #1 - Don't get in a gun fight).
- The problems with energy and electromagnetic weapons - primarily, that the high energy demands require heavy and immobile (or at least, impractical-to-move) power generation machinery.
- That under duress, people default to their training level - which, for many, is basically zero. This is why repetitive training is so useful.
- Non-lethal ammunition, such as rubber ball and beanbag rounds for shotguns.
- Weapon modification, such as sawed-off barrels (which spread the shot) and sawed-off stocks (more concealable, but more awkward to use).
- Which gun is the best gun (it's whichever is best for a given purpose and situation, and whichever caliber the gun's user is most comfortable with).
- Good gun research sites (Wikipedia isn't bad, and is particularly useful when you want to know what a character from a given organization in a given nation might use; word.guns.ru is also a very good and detailed resource).
- Experimental weapons such as flechette and gauss.
- The "bullpup" design, with the ammo and loading mechanism in the back of the gun (many weapons in Gargoyles resemble this design).
- The best ways to aim well (handguns are less accurate than rifles, and dual-wield anything is highly inaccurate).
- The best position for a holster (use your strong side, i.e. the same as your gun hand; a holster on the opposite side requires more motion to draw and use, although they are admittedly easier to conceal and more comfortable).
One fellow, who I will leave unidentified, asked an awful lot of the questions, making a not-so-favorable impression on the audience (he'd be regarded even more poorly following his behavior at other events).
I returned to my room to transcribe my panel notes, then went back to look at the silent auction items, placing a bid on a Steel Clan action figure. I also talked to Greg B. and looked at the art gallery. Returning to my room again (I was disinclined to hang out in the con suite), I killed some time before the Radio Play by reading the first two stories in the Items of Enchantment anthology.
The Radio Play was entertaining - an adaptation of Gargoyles issues 7-9 in chronological order. Greg Weisman was concerned that it came off poorly, but actually I thought it seemed to work rather well (excepting a rather unwieldly chunk of Shari monologuing). Apparently a rather substantial storm struck outside during it - the noise threatened to drown out some of the dialogue, and parts of the art festival suffered during it. Of course, I can't discuss any spoilers at this time...
Dinner was at Al's Italian Beef with Dracandros and Ed. Although I'd heard good things about the place, I found it good but not very exceptional. We followed dinner with a trip to Comix Revolution, which was an adequate store; picked up a few things. On the way back, we passed by a rather large group being led somewhere - dinner, I'm assuming - by Greg W. I told Dracandros and Ed I'd bring MUGEN down to their room to play, which I did after skimming my comic purchases. However, when I got there, I received no response to my knocking. Since there was also a "Do not disturb" sign on the door, I presumed they were either absent or busy, and left. (Turned out they simply hadn't heard me over the TV. Ah well.)
Trying to kill time before the Blue Mug, I took a trip to the ninth, and found everything closed up. Returning to my room, I read my newly acquired Invincible trade paperback, chatted with Jack, updated my convention notes, and surfed the Web. (Repeated opinion: A con suite open at this time would have been much appreciated.)
Finally, I headed to the Blue Mug. Greg was there first; Keith, then Thom, arrived later (they wanted to be a bit more tipsy before arriving). (Josh Silver also arrived with Keith.) Some notable revelations included:
- Greg has no idea of the what or where of Marvel's Gargoyles #12.
- "The Price" took the idea of a stone gargoyle replacing a sleeping gargoyle from a Disney Adventures strip.
- Greg said the Stone of Destiny wouldn't agree that it's a magical item.
- The Eyrie Building is so tall because Xanatos is looking for all sorts of immortality.
- Keith thinks Goliath simply isn't the sort to drink alcohol.
- Greg thinks gargoyles are less susceptible to the sort of chemical imbalances that lead to psychological disorders in humans, but that psychologically damaging traumas affect them the same way.
- In response to a question about Shari and Thailog's relationship: Keith opined that if he was in a hot tub playing chess with a willing woman by his side... more than his chess piece would be moving.
- Keith was asked about the famous fight scene between him and Roddy Piper in They Live - he confirmed that it was not a real beating, as rumored. He traced the origin of the rumor to an accidental real punch to Piper's face immediately following his reassuring Entertainment Tonight interviewers that the fight scenes were safe. (Keith also liked the South Park parody of the fight.)
- Greg said that if Gargoyles was parodied on Robot Chicken, he'd appreciate the recognition even if he didn't like the actual content of the parody.
- Broadway and Angela have not yet had sex at this point in the comic.
- Greg (jokingly?) sees The Spectacular Spider-Man as a show about sexual repression.
- Keith considers Goliath a fairly straightforward sort who wouldn't have any sexual festishes. Greg concurred.
- Writing the Stone of Destiny arc in the Gargoyles comic has been liberating for Greg - it helped free him from a TV mindset. He thinks Bad Guys has benefitted from this mindset-shift.
- Greg considers bushido (as seen in "Bushido") an example of gargoyles influencing human culture.
- Gargoyles are not attuned to human reproductive cycles.
- Greg has issues with how television has removed every "base" except for first and home in terms of sex. (In his younger years, he and some friends also calculated there were many more than four "bases" - he figured about 22.)
- We will see a bonding ceremony for Goliath and Elisa.
- Keith opined that although humans and gargoyles may be bound in some ways by their biology, they can learn new behavior - and that in some ways, Demona's behavior is becoming more humanlike.
- Gargoyles never really had a need to develop independent science and technology - by the time humans began to out-tech them, survival became a higher priority. However, Greg opined that gargoyles like Lexington and Amp may start to create their own innovations based on human technology. He also reminded of the Lexington-Xanatos Corporation.
- Greg doesn't see why gargoyles would develop issues with homosexuality. He also doesn't think there would be pressure for homosexual gargoyles to take a mate in low-population clans - if the situation was that desperate, a single additional egg would hardly matter anyway.
- The new Wyvern Clan will be a clan of gargoyles intentionally going back to the traditional gargoyle ways as a rejection of increasing cultural assimilation.
- The entire Manhattan Clan believed they were a species going extinct prior to the Avalon world tour. The revelation that they weren't the last was especially major for Hudson.
- Gargoyles did not have a hand in creating humans or the Children of Oberon.
- The idea that more humanoid gargoyles could have an evolutionary advantage was proposed - that is, looking more human might make humans slightly more reluctant to hate them. Greg seemed to think it was interesting, but he also pointed out it could work in reverse, so he didn't really agree with the premise.
- The fact that gargoyle beasts were more frightening to humans coud be a reason why there are fewer of them.
- Some gargoyles may have ruled over some humans at some point.
- Greg liked the analogy that learning mortal magic is like learning quantum physics - sure, anyone can learn it, but it'll be much harder or easier for certain people.
- Immigrant assimilation might be one of the metaphors in Gargoyles.
- There was no Demona-Macbeth romance in evidence in "City of Stone" IV.
- Greg doesn't know if female gargoyles are capable of laying unfertilized eggs.
- The first Magus was the first to combine the Eye of Odin, Grimorum Arcanorum and Phoenix Gate.
- Greg chose Manhattan for Gargoyles, rather than another city like Los Angeles (not a good gargoyle town, in Greg's opinion), because it provided the best contrast between modern and ancient. It also worked well, as an island as a protectorate was something Goliath could get his head around at that early stage. (Goliath is only now starting to widen his perspective even further.)
- Greg considers Demona one of his deeper creations, and thinks that Xanatos has defined a trope all his own.
- The original Gargoyles pitch used four different artists. Goliath's original design included jewelery, and Lex originally had four arms.
- Wolf's more wolfish transformation in "Upgrade" didn't get repeated because it spawned too many animation errors.
- Greg likes the idea of Thailog having a Xanatos-esque goatee, but he's reluctant to use it because it could weaken his stance against using fan original ideas, which could in turn be used against him at some point.
- Greg had about four or five more stories for the Avalon world tour, but it was cut short due to several factors, including frustration by one member of the crew (he said who, but I forget), the problem of not having the Trio appear for so long, and that mixing the arc with reruns was making it seem awfully over-long. Three of the "lost" stories included the Himalayas story (ultimately recycled in Gargoyles #6), a Korea story, and a China story.
- Greg comnmented that Goliath seems to be less of a fulcrum in the comic series than he was in the original animated series.
- The Avalon arc didn't sit so well with Thom, simply because Lexington wasn't in it and he wasn't getting paid! (Which caused some financial issues.)
- Greg was a bit put out that the toilets on the ninth floor made a sound like the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs when they flushed.
- Greg said Bruce Wayne was more of an inspiration for David Xanatos than Tony Stark, and that Lex Luthor wasn't at all (because Greg's Luthor is the Silver Age mad scientist, not the modern businessman).
- In Iron Man, Greg took issue with Tony Stark's choosing Burger King for his cheeseburger after returning from Afghanistan. He also thought Stane's motives were kinda weak. He also opined that Marvel should have held back the release of The Incredible Hulk until later in the year, as now there'll be a big gap until the next Marvel Studios movie.
One thing that was interesting to me is how often Keith David had his own opinions on how Goliath and gargoyles worked, sometimes in mild conflict with Greg Weisman's POV. One wonders how often an actor playing a role puts such levels of thought into the world of their characters.
After the Blue Mug, it was pretty much straight to bed for me.
Blue Mug's are always fun and eclectic -- even when they're not all that blue.
Gathering 2008 Journal - Day One
Friday, June 27, 2008
I started waking up around 7 am or so, but kept going back to sleep until I finally decided to officially wake up around 9ish. Then I loungted a bit, watched TV and added more to my con notes before getting out of bed for real around 10ish.
My first priority was more supplies from CVS - a crate of bottled water and a few Diet Pepsis. Dracandros left a message inviting me to go to the Taste of Chicago festival that day (the original idea having been for Monday after Closing Ceremonies). By the time I'd called him back, the plan had changed - instead, he wanted to go downtown and see the Sears Tower. I agreed, but went to go pick up my registration first (and briefly meeting with Merlin Missy, who I last recall meeting at my very first Gathering in 1998). I also chatted a bit with Harvester of Eyes (Rob) and King Cobra before going with Drac and Ed.
The three of us met with three more - Leo, Doppleganger, and dtaina (D. Taina) - and we set off, taking the L (Chicago's elevated train system) from Davis on the Purple Line to Chicago/State on the Red Line. Along the way, we chatted, and also met a fellow in a Zelda shirt who offered some tips (such as not obviously using maps, as it's a clear sign of being a tourist). Before Sears, however, we went for the slightly shorter John Hancock Center and its Observatory, taking in some sights along the way (such as the Chicago Water Tower, one of the few buildings in the area to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871). The view from Hancock was pretty nice, and I took far too many pics while we were up there. (It also bragged of having a hyper-fast elevator that moved upwards at 20 mph - made your ears pop.)
After Hancock, we took a trolley to the Sears Tower, but before we went there we decided to get a late lunch/dinner at Giordano's, a well-regarded Chicago pizza parlor. Delicious stuff, and surprisingly filling - we got two pizzas for six people, but the first one was more than enough! (The second pizza had mushrooms, so I wasn't too distressed.) Dracandros brought the leftovers with us, leading to some envious looks from people in the Sears! At the Tower, we watched a neat intro movie and then saw even more great views (and again, I took too many pics). However, time was running out before Opening Ceremonies, so we needed to leave after only a short visit.
(Observation from my time downtown - Chicago architects really, really like revolving doors. Think we had enough of those for a lifetime.)
Unfortunately, our return trip - taking the Purple Line express from Quincy (a neat station restored to a vintage state) back to Davis took about 50 minutes, so we all returned about an hour after Opening Ceremonies was supposed to start. I wasn't too troubled, as I've seen most of the material many times by now, so I took the time to return to my room and clean up, as well as typing up more notes about the downtown trip before I started forgetting things. By the time I headed there, it was after 6:30 pm.
I initially checked the ninth floor for the opening ceremonies, only to find a succession of dark and empty rooms, but a member of the hotel staff kindly pointed me to the second floor. I arrived just in time to see most of the Bad Guys leica reel. When Greg (Weisman) renewed his review of Gargoyles production and fandom history, he mentioned something I'd never heard of before - a "proto-Gathering" in 1996 at an animation art gallery in Queens, with Keith David and Greg in attendance. Greg wrapped up after that, only to realize at the last moment that he'd forgotten to show "The Last", the Gargoyles-linked episode of the cancelled Team Atlantis series. It's fortunate he remembered, as the episode - gradually being completed by fans - added a lot of new material, with many new scenes added or improved. Turning out rather nice, it is! (While it played, I believe Keith David returned from... somewhere.)
With ceremonies genuinely finished, I talked a bit with Dracandros and Ed, and said quick hellos to Jennifer "CrzyDemona" Anderson and Mandolin as they passed by. I talked of hanging with Drac and Ed later, and meant to go back in to the emptying Opening Ceremonies room, but instead I wandered into the business center looking for a trash can. While I was there (and looking at the oddball picture of floating men in hats), I figured it'd be better to follow up on the phone calls I received and silenced during the ceremonies, so I caught up with Jack and Randy. By the time I was finished, everyone was gone (except a group that was doing some camera work - later, I learned they were working on some sort of documentary). I did talk a little bit with A Fan, though.
With not many con-goers obviously around (a problem that repeated itself several times during this Gathering - a late-running con suite would have been much appreciated at several points), I went to the terrace to take some pics, only to have my camera start running low on power. So I made another supply run to CVS, noticing that they were setting up some sort of festival on the nearby streets. (On the way out, I believe I also walked by Josh Silver, but I'm not positive.) Returned to my room, and updated my notes again.
Later still, I was invited to dessert with Dracandros and Ed, and we ate at Cold Stone (after some trouble finding it). (I would expect a fair number of us Gathering-goers to stop at a place called Cold Stone, but I dunno if that was the case. Good stuff, though!) On the way back, they hit CVS and I parted ways again, checking out the ninth floor again and seeing some group up there (not sure if they were with the con, though). The terrace was locked, and although I figured out it could be opened, it seemed like a bad idea to go against the hotel's intentions - so no night-time pics. I gave the workout room a try with fairly ineffective results, and after a little more wandering (and running into Thom), I returned to my room for the night. Did a bit of web surfing, organized stuff for my card game (not that I got much mileage from it in the end), then went to sleep.
Didn't even get into Chicago this trip, myself. Glad you managed it.
Gathering 2008 Journal - Day Minus One
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Woke up around 9:30 am, after staying up too late preparing some stuff for the con (that, ironically, I barely used). Quickly got ready to go and made some last-minute checks, before my folks picked me up for the airport around 10:30. I asked them to take me to a sidetrip to Weis, so I could pick up a few last-minute items, and they helpfully got me a Wendy's lunch in the meantime.
After I got to BWI, things seemed to be moving smoothly, until I attempted to take my shaving kit on board as a carry-on - not thinking that would run afoul of the TSA's security limits on liquids and gels. So I had to go back, take the shaving kit in its carry-on bag and check it as luggage. (The clerk was kind enough not to make me pay the fee for a second bag, at least.)
Once I was through security (again), I purchased an overpriced pair of headphones (Weis didn't have those) and headed right for the gate. And waited. I tried the wireless, but it cost money. I tried to play a bit of Advance Wars Dual Strike, but couldn't get into it (and I also realized I'd left my DS power cable back at home; guess it's required to forget something on these trips). So I settled for reading.
The flight was pretty straightforward and uneventful, although I lamented my lack of a good view to the outside. Even so, I got a look at Chicago from the air - very wide, very flat, excepting downtown, which appeared as a clump of tall buildings near Lake Michigan. Arrival in O'Hare was pretty basic, too (did you know they don't have a Baggage Claim #13?). By coincidence, I wound up sharing the Airport Express van with Gside, and we mostly talked about video games and such (as well as playing a brief download-play game of Jump Ultimate Stars). After the driver stopped for gas, however, the three of us had a heavier conversation about the geopolitics of oil and various tangents from that issue.
After arrival at the Hotel Orrington, Gside and I parted ways. The room I got was fairly nice, although a bit smaller than I expected for the price tag. The safe was good to have (considering the rather heavy amount of electronics I had with me), but I wasn't happy that the only refrigerator was a locked wet bar fridge. And the free wireless I'd heard about actually only appeared on the 9th (conference) floor and the lobby, although a free ethernet line was provided in the room, so I couldn't really complain.
After getting comfy and lounging for a bit (I toyed with taking a nap, but I figured that'd be a waste), I took a stroll through the ninth floor (and admired the view from the terrace near the Hinman Auditorium), the second, and then the first, then I took a quick walk around the block to see what was nearby. Being unambitious, I snagged a Burger King dinner, and as I returned, I bumped into Greg Bishansky. I ate while we talked while he was waiting for the rest of the con staff and guests (who were stuck in Chicago traffic). Said hi to Leo, then Dracandros and Ed, who were headed to dinner themselves. They invited me to see The Incredible Hulk at a nearby theater - since I had already seen it, I was ambiguous in my response. Gside also came by talking about getting food, but I'd already eaten and Greg B. still had to wait; and shortly after that, the staff and guests arrived, so I went back to my room.
My next couple hours weren't too busy - I tested to see if I could still get the 9th-floor wireless from my 8th-floor room (nope), started up my notes for this very journal, and went to get some supplies from CVS (but I was limited by my assumption I couldn't use a fridge). Dracandros and Ed asked me again about Hulk, and I agreed, enjoying my second viewing (although I was a bit disappointed I didn't notice much new). On the way back, we briefly ran into King Cobra and vidthekid, then we went back to Dracandros and Ed's room, where Dracandros gifted me with two T-shirts. (Unfortunately, I had no reciprocal gift.)
I decided it was about time for me to turn in, but before I did, I followed on Dracandros's comment that the wet bar fridge could be used for non-wet bar drinks and retrieved the key from the front desk, briefly running into King Cobra again along the way. Got ready for bed, watched a bit of Scrubs, then slept.
"Settled for reading"... so sad... ;)
Now Saturday I didn't really want to wake up early but much to all of our surprise, be it that we were on the 8th floor or that the nice flat lake was to the East of us the Sun came through our window as like 6:30 in the morning and I mean like nuclear blast bright.
Slept a bit longer, but finally we managed to get up and get some food. She had spied a place called Einsteins Bagel on the map of food (Which by the way, is an awesome handout and should be used at future cons) I bought two bagels in case I wanted one later, one 4 cheese with cream chese and one poppy seed with peanut butter. when we got back to the con I gave my 4 cheese to Bishansky since he said he was hungry.
First panel I attended was the comic page layout. Came in a little late so hurried up and sat on the floor, I was pleased to see Karine having a good time and with such a full audience. There were some good questions and I stepped in and answered a few even if I was not suppse to ;P sorry I don't keep my mouth shut well at art panels, sometimes I feel like such a highjacker. I stayed and sat in on John "Flanker"'s panel on weapons and ballistics. It was esentially a run down of some of the most common types of weapons one might see in fics and where to get the information. After all a part of good story telling is accuracy.
It was about this time I had a few people inform me that I was in the Radio Play (YAY) I thought about going and getting a snack before the rehersal but somewhere along the lines I forgot, I believe I was giving an art critique to a first time Con atendee. Emambu came and got me, afterall I don't need Jen on my ass ; )
Rehersal was fun, I think it was the first time I've ever read for two characters, though many of us doubled up because of the extensive cast. We had a great turn out at the crowd was once again treated to Convention exclusive presentation, we get new material before anyone else. It was fun and I can't believe that during the actual presentation Greg Weisman stepped on one of my lines!
Dinner was Pizza at Dave's Italian Kitchen, once again Spacie, Gside and myself. We got two large, one chicago style one NY style and both were absolutly great. we brought the rest back to the room and hung out and talked till Blue Mug. I would have put the rest in the Fridge but I misstook the fridge for a safe since it had a lock on it. I only found that out later and it was STUFFED WITH BOOZE. I mean totally STUFFED!
The Blue Mug was fun, I got a few questions answered or at least got the idea out there that had been on my mind for a while. Though it's hard to say that I had more fun than Jen, Susan, and GregX who were all very, very drunk. Everytime I looked back at Jen, who was right behind me kept bursting out laughing and I have to say I enjoyed her playing with me ; )
People slowly began to tucker out, Greg's game with the Blue Mug is to see if he can out last us, it usually ends in a draw, this time a little after 1am.
Hey, if I wanna step on your line, I'll step! (Sorry.)
And it never ends in a draw. I can ALWAYS outlast you guys.
Gathering Journal 2008
[ Tuesday, June 24 ]
Before heading west to Chicago, Ed and I first ventured a few miles east to the outskirts of Columbus. We had to make a few last-minute purchases, grab some cash, and take care of some preventative auto maintainance. It was about late lunch time as we finally hit the road for the long run.
* West of Springfield, I-70 is only 2 lanes in each direction, all the way to Indianapolis. Rural I-65 between Indianapolis and the outskirts of Merrilville (Gary / southeast Chicago metro area) is completely rural in character, even moreso than western Ohio. Near the Kankakee River, the smell of manure permeates the air. It's hard to believe the center of this country's third-largest city is only sixty miles away.
* All Chicagoland freeways seem to have a 55-MPH speed limit, which everyone seems to ignore. The prevailing traffic speed (on an uncongested freeway) is 70 MPH, or 60 to 65 in construction zones with 45-MPH limits.
* Chicago's suburbs seem quite sparsely-developed, at least as seen from the Tri-State Tollway.
* The Chicago area has some interesting road signage habits. Sometimes it's hard to know ahead of time exactly what lane to be in. When it comes to lane closures, I definitely prefer the way ODOT does things.
Got to the La Quinta Inn on the northwest side. Best rate I could find besides a Super 8 with a ton of bad reviews. Nice pool, comfortable room, few TV channels.
[ Wednesday, June 25 ]
The continental breakfast reminded me of the Morrill Tower dining hall at OSU. There was no prepared food; the toast and waffles were do-it-yourself, plus fruit, cereal, coffee, juice, etcetera.
We drove to a Park & Ride on the Blue Line to get downtown for sightseeing. I-90 eastbound was really backed up starting around O'Hare, and it probably took us twenty minutes to go the last few miles to the Cumberland station. (Why does the CTA use the term "Kiss & Ride"? I found out later that this refers to commuters who are dropped off, such as by a spouse, to take the train, rather than parking their car there.) So the CTA trains ("The El", though much of the Blue Line is underground) are pretty cool.
We went to the Museum of Contemporary Art first (mid afternoon). There's a lot of interesting stuff there, and I didn't understand it all, but I quite enjoyed the visit. The sculpture exhibits were my favorite. I was expecting to pay admission, but there was nobody at the door selling tickets, so I donated $5 on the way out.
Next we made our way back to the Loop and the Sears Tower Skydeck. Ed couldn't put together the courage to go up, but hey, that saved us a $13 admission ticket. I'll show him the pictures I took later. I was surprised to see Meigs Field Airport was gone. (A Fan told me all about that Sunday night.)
A woman on the Skydeck told me I had to go see that big silver bean thing. It's not visible from there, but she told me where it is. Sort of. Ed and I left the Sears Tower, planning to walk to Millennium Park, home of that silver bean thing. We grabbed some Slurpees on the way. As we finished the Slurpees, we began to reconsider the walking plan. A short trip on the elevated Brown Line saved us several blocks.
So we got to Millenium Park, and walked towards where the woman told me the bean is. Then I spotted a map showing the bean (apparently titled "Cloud Gate") about a block and a half back the way we came. It's pretty cool though, despite the needless excess walking. Observation: Just about everything in Millennium Park has a corporate sponsor.
We entered the CTA system again at about sunset, and it was dark by the time we got back to the Cumberland Kiss 'n' Ride. Ed and I had bought 7-day unlimited visitor passes for $20 each. If we keep riding like we did today, we'll get our money's worth. But I don't think we'll have reason to ride. Still, we really got around today, and it'll be nice to have the option of free rides until we leave town.
A snack run to Meijer and a couple hours of the Discovery Channel rounds out the day.
[ Thursday, June 26 ]
We missed La Quinta's breakfast -- in the sense of being late. Speaking for myself, I didn't particularly miss it in the sense of feeling loss. So we had snack stuff (in my case, Graham crackers) for breakfast, packed up, and checked out.
Since we were planning to pick up A Fan at O'Hare, and he wasn't coming in for a while, Ed and I had some time to kill in the northwest suburbs. We hit Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. It very much reminded us of a couple of malls in Columbus -- very possibly the same architect -- but it's considerably larger, and with more of a quality I like to call "vertical intrigue". We spent a couple hours just walking around to see what all the stores were, though we did do some actual shopping.
Some may remember that piece of Shinsonic DVD player in the Con Suite last year. Ed and I had brought it from home. This year we packed light, so no DVD player. The new Futurama movie had come out Tuesday, and we'd bought it at Meijer the night before. So then we saw this cheap portable DVD player at Radio Shack, and it wasn't a hard decision for me to buy it. We then picked up a few bargain DVD titles at another store in the mall. Well, we still had time to kill, so we watched Futurama in the mall parking garage. Then we hung around the Oasis on the I-90 tollway before finally parking at the airport to pick up A Fan. Once he joined us, we could finally head for Evanston. Traffic was slow, and we stopped for food along the way, so it took a while. And then I couldn't remember exactly where the hotel was. Anyway, referring to some printed material we had with us quickly resolved that.
A Fan checked us in, and after unloading the car, I did some exploring of the Orrington and its vicinity. I got some ice cream at Ben & Jerry's and went back to the hotel. The three of us then watched Not Another Teen Movie, though since we didn't have the right cable to connect to the TV, we had to watch it on the tiny screen of the portable DVD player.
[ Friday, June 27 ]
I woke up early for registration, shopped for a couple of miscellaneous items, and had Burger King breakfast with A Fan. Then I pretty much took it easy around the hotel (taking a few pictures) until the Greg Mug, then Opening Ceremonies.
Having properly connected the portable DVD player to the hotel TV, we watched various movies until late. I should have gotten caught up with my con journal, but I was too tired. (Friday's events were recorded late Saturday night.)
[ Saturday, June 28 ]
Saturday we got up early again, though we didn't have to. We took our time getting ready for the day. The Comic Page Layout panel was interesting and quite informative. Plus, we got a minor, sketchy preview about an upcoming fight sequence, though I wouldn't call it a spoiler. It's like a movie trailer that shows you parts of an action sequence without explaining anything. It doesn't give away any plot points, but makes you want to see the movie -- or in this case, read the comic book -- when it comes out.
So then I attended the Keith David Mug-A-Guest. He's always great to listen to, though sometimes I didn't quite understand some of the acting nuances he talks about. Also, part of the time my mind was on a software tool I might create to help out with the Team Atlantis episode.
After that I took a break, as well as quite a few photos. The street vendor fair going on this weekend, and the high visibility and changing weather made for some interesting shots. Then I snacked in my room until time for the Radio Play.
At five, I headed up to the ninth floor for the Radio Play. Someone was directing the audience towards one entrance, and performers towards the other. Well, the doors to the auditorium were closed, so I thought I was earlier than most everyone else. Thinking I had time to kill (or maybe I was just distracted) I headed out onto the terrace, where there was already another con-goer. Within thirty seconds, it started pouring rain. Before we could get back in the door, there was a clap of thunder. As we were running back inside, neither of us slowed to close the door, so as we came back to take care of that, we found pea-size hail bouncing in the door! After a moment of thinking "wow, hail!", I said, "hey, let's throw it at people!" So then I picked up a few pieces and ran down the hallway, only finding one unsuspecting target -- and I missed. When I came back to reload, a few people were coming out of the auditorium. I said something like "hail fight!" and playfully tossed a few. Then I realized pretty much everyone was already seated for the Radio Play, and Greg was speaking, so I quieted down and found a seat.
The Radio Play was cool, as usual, though it briefly had to compete with the sound of heavy rain. Like last year, the Radio Play was an adaptation of a story from the Gargoyles comic, including an issue not yet released. And the idea of Keith David and Thom Adcox switching roles was quite amusing -- twice.
After the Radio Play, many people headed out to the terrace, as it had stopped raining. We could see a jumbled pile of metal framing heaped together in an intersection on the streets below, in the middle of the street fair. I grabbed my camera from the room, and then headed down to investigate. From the bits I overheard of fair participants giving interviews to the local news, the storm had created some kind of wind vortex -- like a mini tornado -- between the large buildings, which had picked up several street tents, removed their coverings, and mashed the frames together into that mangled pile. Something like six people were injured. I took a few photos of the scene and headed back to the hotel.
In the lobby, A Fan was putting together a group for dinner. After a bit of discussion regarding the type of restaurant we wanted, the group that left the hotel consisted of myself, Ed, A Fan, and four others. Through a few democratic votes, and a couple of blocks of walking, the seven of us found Dave's Italian Kitchen. Oddly, our waiter was Chinese. (OK, maybe not odd given the demographics of the area, but mildly amusing.)
I enjoyed my spaghetti. Another person in the group (I didn't catch her name) had broken glass in her food; that dish was not included on the bill. Ed took home some leftover garlic bread.
After a bit of relaxing in the hotel room, it was time for the Blue Mug. There were quite a few good questions and funny moments. After a couple hours, though, I had to leave, as I was getting tired and I had 3 days worth of con journal to write. At least I managed to catch up through Friday before turning in. Observation: I really hope I can read all this when it's time to type it up...
[ Sunday, June 29 ]
Sunday morning started with the Gargoyles & Bad Guys Comic panel. What sticks out most in my mind was discussion of possible other comics spinoffs. Between the early hour, and the multiple days I've procrastinated between then and the time I'm writing this, my memory's a bit foggy. But I do remember that Greg is quite anxious to tell a Dark Ages story, pending renewal of SLG's license for the franchise.
Next was the Biology & Culture panel. Of course a few of the usual topics were discussed: glowing eyes, stone sleep, the Wind Ceremony. I asked about navigation, and it would seem the canon-in-training report is that gargoyles can sense the Earth's magnetic field. I feel there's probably a bit more to it than that, though a magnetic sense would be a distinct (if incomplete) navigational advantage.
I had planned to attend the Spider-man panel too, but at that time I really didn't feel like sitting through a third consecutive panel. Besides, the new Spider-man series is of more interest to Ed than myself. It was at this time I realized I'd taken several photos of the view *from* the hotel, but none *of* the hotel. So I headed out to snap some shots, got one pic before coming back in to change my camera batteries, waited for housekeeping to finish cleaning the room, swapped the batteries, went back out, got caught in the rain, and finally got the last couple of "establishing shots" I wanted.
So then I took it easy for a while. Since I had nothing else to do, I journaled Saturday's events. Snacks and The Weather Channel filled up the gap before it was time to grab some autographs. When that was done, I sat in on a nice casual conversation group for a while, which also served to recruit for A Fan's annual Anti-Banquet.
So a group of about six of us, including a 2-person documentary crew, headed to a place called Giordano's, or something like that. They're apparently famous for "stuffed" pizza, where there's cheese between two layers of dough -- across the whole pizza, not just the dough. Ed and I ordered a medium (or was it a small?) pepperoni stuffed pizza with a lighter amount of sauce, because I prefer a more cheese-focused pizza and I know Chicago likes to really pour the sauce in.
A couple of folks in the Masquerade used our room to change into their costumes. The masquerade itself was interesting, but I didn't stay long. That room was cold, and I'm not much for dancing or mingling in large groups. On the way back to the room, I ran into Josh Silver, (I think that was him) who told me who the winners of the masquerade contest were. Back in the room, I called a friend of mine back home. While I was talking to him, A Fan and the costumed pair returned. A Fan pretended to be MovieFone's automated voice system for my friend, who found it quite humorous. I knew he'd fit in well with my Columbus friends. Anyway, he and I worked out the next day's travel arrangements while waiting for Ed to return from the Masquerade Dance. When he did, we pretty much all went to bed. (At least, I don't remember doing anything else.)
[ Monday, June 30 ]
In the wee hours of Monday morning, I had a dream that turned bad very quickly. Swarming bees combined with not being able to escape makes just about the worst dream I can possibly have. I woke up screaming. Of course, I woke up Ed and A Fan, too. I calmed down quickly, and we all got a couple more hours of sleep before getting up to pack.
Ed and I hadn't exactly been keeping our stuff neat for the last several days, so it took us a couple of hours to get our stuff packed and out of the room. Still, we got things taken care of in time for me to catch the last half hour of the Fanfiction panel. And then there was the Blue Mug Productions panel. Now that's an interesting project. And I kind of like the name, the in-reference which, if you don't know, you'll just assume it's something random or abstract.
Closing ceremonies were dominated by the art awards. (Karine and Mara practically stole the show in that department.) Personally, I think they should also do a few awards along the lines of "most distance traveled to attend the Gathering". I don't think I'd ever win that particular award, but I still think it would be fun. Anyway, the ceremonies ended without dragging on too long. It was time for Ed, A Fan, and me, to depart the Orrington in my noble '93 Beretta.
We made satisfactory time to O'Hare. A Fan, having packed for convenient air travel, took almost no time at all unloading his stuff from the car and then disappearing into the terminal. A quick wave "goodbye" and Ed and I were off again, though we didn't go too terribly far. At the first Oasis we encountered on the Tri-State Tollway, we stopped for some ice cream sandwiches and chicken nuggets. Also, I picked up a corny Captain Tollway coloring book. I'll show it to the family for some laughs before giving it to my niece and nephew to color.
We stopped again to eat and refuel in Lafayette, Indiana. Quite a distance later, Ed realized he'd left his hat behind at the restaurant. Without a second thought, I decided not to worry. The cost of the gas needed to go back for it would have been ten times the amount we paid for the hat in the first place. As it turns out, we didn't make a single stop between Lafayette and our home on the far far far west side of Columbus. I wasn't done driving, though; Mom and I rushed to Kroger to pick up some groceries before midnight, so I could get my gas discount for July.
I never did get any further use out of, nor find a buyer for, my CTA visitor pass.
[ Notes ]
The events of Sunday and Monday were recorded electronically, at home, a few days after the Gathering. Then the events of the previous Tuesday through Saturday were transcribed from the actual hand-written journal into that same electronic record, with some minor editing and revision. This is the contents of that electronic record, with some spelling corrections.
[ End ]
Annotated ConJournals. Sweet!
GATHERING 2008 JOURNAL, PART THREE
June 29, 2008
Greg Weisman said last night at the Blue Mug that the automated flushing in the urinals sounded like the Green Goblin's pumpkin bombs from the Spectacular Spider Man. It sort of sounds like it when the mechanism turns on, but I'm afraid I didn't really hear it.
Anyway, I got five hours of sleep, and then my body woke me up. Took a shower, and then made my morning trip to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee and a Boston Creme. When 10 AM rolled around, I went up to the Dealer's Room. It was bit sparse in there. As I was perusing Karine's art, Jennifer "Crzydemona" Anderson came over and gave me a hug, which was random, but very cool. I like surprises.
Shortly after that, the panel on the Gargs/Bad Guys comic started, which was a lot of fun, especially towards the end, when Greg started sounding like a fanboy. Not that I blame him. I imagine it must be pretty sweet to see ideas in print after a decade.
Back in the Dealer's Room, I bought Owen from Vox, because Owen had been neglected all weekend. I also discussed a possible costume idea for next year, which would require minimum effort, since I already look like Owen a little (with my hat off and my hair cut). After that, I photographed some people in the hallway playing a game that involved dice and rapidly switching papers back and forth. Weird. From there, I went to the Con Suite for a few SSM episodes, and then got cornered by Brooklyn X into voting for art. The category I invented was Best Not For Voting. Because, let's face it, I never learn.
After that, there was the Spectacular Spider Man panel, which was a lot of fun. Keith David told a pretty dirty joke for a panel that was open for all ages. I was a little tired after that, largely due to hunger, so I decided to hit the ground floor. I grabbed some chicken fries from Burger King, and managed to beat the rain. I ran into some kids on the way back to the hotel, who saw my con badge, and started asking questions. Sadly, I had no literature on hand, so I talked a little about the Gathering, told them about LA in 2009, and gave them the link to the website.
I then brought my food up to the Con Suite, where people had switched from SSM to Season Two of Gargs. After eating, I went to the auction, hoping to see some blood, but got something even better: The Seth and Gorebash show! Those two were very funny to watch. Gore even got me to bid on some Burger King toys with his description of both light and dark Goliath colors. The guy behind me (Leo's brother, I think) actually got the reference behind my con name. And Keith David got into not one, but two bidding wars!
Spent some time after the auction standing around for autographs. My mom had asked me for Keith David's autograph, so I got her that plus a few extra ones. I also had forgotten to bring my Gargs/Bad Guys comics with me, but Karine still had two copies of Gargs #5 for sale, so I bought one for her to sign.
I dropped the stuff off in the room, then made another trip to the ground to dispose of more trash. Keith David got in the elevator as we were going down, and he initially thought my badge said "Hawkmeister." So I wound up telling him a little bit about Blue Oyster Cult. Namely that my con name is designed to pay tribute to them, and that few people really appreciate them. And this was my favorite con moment.
I didn't have much time to prepare for the banquet, so I changed clothes (from something casual to more casual). The banquet was good: Chicken marsala, garlic mashed potatoes (a very nice surprise, especially since the menu said pasta), and cooked carrots. The trivia afterwards was also fun. Jen ran out of questions. Our table got stumped on a question I knew the answer to, but it was my fault. I was stretching across the table, banging on it to try and grab Taina's attention. I should have just stood up, but I suck at being loud. Ah, well. Still a fun time.
Masquerade was after that. Lots of great costumes this year, and I actually wrote them down. Taina's Shari costume was really good, as well as Patrick Fisher's tourist costume (took Best in Show, which was well-earned). There were two Hunter costumes, both of which rocked. I can't believe Karine actually found thigh holsters. Justin had a very amusing cosplay moment as Odin.
I mingled for a bit, even though the room was like a meat locker. Eventually, JEB set up his laptop and started running a program called Mugen, which is a street-fighting game emulator containing any character you could ever think of from anything. The first time I played was as Fat Albert. I fought Dragon Claw, and got owned. Then I tried playing as the Hard Hat from the Mega Man series, and got my ass handed to me by Batman. I fluctuated the rest of the night between gaming, and watching some musical numbers. I went back to the room between 12:30 and 1 AM, and found Leo and Taina watching a DVD of "Porky's." I was getting tired, so I jotted some stuff down, looked over a few of the pics, and then fell asleep with the movie still going.
June 30, 2008
Got up at around seven to say goodbye to Taina before she left for the airport. After that, I drifted in and out of sleep until nine, then threw on a shirt and went downstairs for my muffin and coffee fix, and then upstairs to pick up some art I'd bid on. After that, I went down to the Post Office to mail the art and autographed materials to my home address (I didn't trust sticking them in my suitcase).
I actually had some time to kill before the Blue Mug Productions panel, so I hung out outside the Dealer's Room. Me, Gore, Arno and some other person had been chatting about Station 8 for a while, and then a shady figure who looked like Greg Weisman, but was missing an eye, came up to the table. Then the panel started. The schedule was misleading, though. Greg Weisman never showed up. Instead, it was that strange figure in the eyepatch, whose name was Edmund Tsabard. It was still a good time. So many bad puns! I also put my name down for the mailing list.
Had time before Closing Ceremonies, so I went to the Dealer's Room for munchies, and also said goodbye to Mandi and Brooklyn X. Then Ceremonies started. It was fun watching the same people get up to accept awards (but they didn't have too many people enter the art show this year). Hopefully, Spike won't get upset by the NOT FOR VOTING Award. After that, people were mostly hanging out or trickling off, since they had flights to catch. Said goodbye to Bishansky as he was literally running out the door. Keith David also popped in at one point to wish us all well. Eventually, it was just a handful of us (ones I remember were Greg, Thom, Karine, Jen, Phil, Nikki, Seth, Patrick, and a few others). Had some amusing conversations, and watched Karine do some body art on a few people. Also, despite Jen's admonishing, I did write down "lemon party" for future reference. I've read Encyclopedia Dramatica's article on Rule 34. I can withstand anything. It was also fun listening to some "war stories" from people who are more seasoned con-goers than me.
Eventually, though, people began to migrate downstairs en masse. JEB and I wondered if the field trip to the Pier was still on, but it looked like a huge van was leaving for the airport with several con-goers. A few others, Carl and CKayote, departed on foot, and then the hotel began to feel empty, and the bittersweet "end of the Gathering" feeling began to take hold. Last con, I had to leave before Closing Ceremonies, so I never felt it. This year, not so lucky. I've heard others write about it, but I don't think I can describe it.
Anyway, JEB and I resolved to meet up later. I gave him my room number, and went upstairs to decompress. Opened the wine I bought, and had a glass while I updated my journal. There was nothing good on TV, so I went for a walk after that. I found a few music stores, including a more "underground" one where I picked up an old Yes vinyl (1974's "Relayer." Roger Dean's artwork on the old Yes albums was eff-ing gorgeous).
Took a catnap in the room after that, then JEB came downstairs and we searched for a place to eat. We decided on a pizza place not far from the hotel. It wasn't bad, but the crust left something to be desired. He and I had a good chat over dinner about the Gathering's history, how we discovered the Gargs fandom, and this year's hotel versus last year's. After dinner, I walked around the block and smoked a cigar (against my better judgment, I stopped off in the same cigar store today, after visiting the Post Office). Stopped off in the room again to rehydrate, and then walked down to Border's, where JEB and I hung out a little bit more and talked about Manga and Adult Swim with another patron. By then, it was dusk, and JEB said he needed to pack for his flight tomorrow. So I went back to my room, and actually showed up same time as Leo.
Nothing much to do for the rest of the evening except pack, drink some more wine (I offered to Leo, but he refused), and do some reading. Leo thought the cover of the Yes record I bought looked like something from a Monty Python movie. I also tortured Leo with a few things on Adult Swim before finally going to bed.
July 1, 2008
Leo left shortly after I got up, which was of course before my alarm went off. We said our goodbyes, then I jumped in the shower, and went down to Dunkin Donuts for my final breakfast there. I'm gonna miss that place. The guy even recognized me and said he'd see me tomorrow, so I had to tell him I was flying home in a few hours. So he thanked me for coming. Nice guy.
I scarfed my donuts, made a final check around the room to make sure nothing was left behind, and got rid of the mangos Leo tortured Taina with (don't ask) by tossing them into the alley from the ninth floor balcony. I did it rather quickly, due to the number of witnesses milling around down there. Then I checked out, and read in the lounge while waiting for the shuttle. The shuttle actually arrived a few minutes early. On the way to the airport, we passed a restaurant called "Bluestone's," but my camera was deep in my bag. The flight from O'Hare was also early. Made record time checking in, and was able to grab a root beer and some pizza on the way to the gate. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but... no. The flight departed and arrived smoothly, and it was on time. I claimed my bag after getting off the plane in Richmond, took the shuttle to the Economy Lot, and found my car. Only ran into traffic on the final road to my house. I stopped at the Dragon Inn for takeout, since I knew I'd be too tired to cook.
Arrived home, looked through the mail, scarfed some Lemon Chicken and a beer, uploaded pics and started to unpack. And thus concludes things. For now. If the Gods are willing, there will be another journal in 2009.
I should have put a header on the last entry. As you may have guessed, it was GATHERING 2008 JOURNAL, PART ONE. So here's:
GATHERING 2008 JOURNAL, PART 2.
June 27, 2008
Woke up surprisingly early, largely due to the fact that my stomach was growling. After I showered, I ran downstairs and out to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee and something frosted. Went back up to the room after getting breakfast, and watched Leo's DVD of "They Live" with the roomies. I don't think that Taina had ever seen the legendary sunglasses fight.
Shortly after 10 AM rolled around, I ran down to the ATM in the lobby, but aborted that mission when I saw the $2.50 surcharge. Taina and I then tried unsuccessfully to get an elevator, and wound up taking the stairs to the Ninth Floor. Then we started searching for the James Room, taking time to laugh at all the funny room names (she got a big kick out of "Noyes Room"). We picked up our registration packages, and then I mingled for a bit. Brooklyn X and I exchanged horror stories about our flights. It also turned out there was a fun map in the registration package, which showed a comic store nearby.
The roommates were planning to the city, but I had been to Chicago twice before. So I went down to search for the comic store, and actually managed to find it. The owner had the "Gargoyles" comic in with the children's comics, which I found amusing. I bought the one Gargs comic they had (#6), and also bought another graphic novel of the Lucifer series ("Wolf Beneath the Tree").
I attended the voice-acting panel after that, which had more of a seminar feel than it did last year. After that, I made my first trip to the Dealer's Room. I bought a T-Shirt with Crzydemona's "Evil Shouldn't Look This Good" picture, so I can now die a happy man. I looked at some of the other shirts (wound up buying another later on in the weekend), and checked out some of the crocheted Gargoyles characters that were for sale.
After that, I started talking with Bishansky, Aaron, and Mara after Mara noticed my GIR shirt. A large group of us eventually decided to go to Chilis: myself, Mandi, Brooklyn X, Revel, Aaron, Mara, Emambu, Kayote, a con virgin whose name escapes me, and two people making a documentary on the Gathering.
I was reminded why I don't go to Chilis very often. It's a great place, but there's too many things on the menu to choose from. I flipped through it back and forth about five times before deciding on mushroom jack fajitas. Tried to follow on the conversation, which mostly involved random movie and cartoon quotes. Mara mentioned something to the filmmakers called a "gar-gasm," but I didn't hear her explanation of it too clearly. After lunch, we stopped on the walk back to the hotel and started chatting about more stuff. Then the rain started to pick up.
I went back to the room to drop some stuff off, and then went down to the 2nd Floor for Opening Ceremonies. Got lost on the stairs. As I was going down, I met Gorebash and Karine coming up, who informed me the stairs were a dead-end. So we all went back to the third floor, where we managed to catch an elevator. Opening Ceremonies only ran for about two hours. And Greg Weisman didn't break anything this time. But he did almost forget the reel for "Atlantis: The Last." After they were over, I finally made my withdrawal from the CVS around the corner. I ran into Thom Adcox in the lobby on the way back, and he seemed to remember me, which was cool.
Met up with the roommates again after that. Taina told me about how she'd gotten her picture taken with Keith David. We hung out in the room for a bit and watched some "Samurai Jack" episodes. I tried unsuccessfully to find the Subway after that. I passed it yesterday while scoping out the neighborhood, but could not remember where it was (and it was listed on the map, but I was looking in the wrong spot). Made a few circles around the block while smoking my cigar, and then gave up. It was a nice night, but a little humid. They also appeared to be setting something up on Church Street.
I went back to the hotel room and wound up eating leftovers for dinner while we watched Leo's brother's DVD of "Heavy Metal." We mostly MSTed it, especially the last half-hour. I think they watched "Flesh Gordon" after that. I wasn't really interested, so I just read (and threw in the occasional smart-ass comment) until I nodded off.
June 28, 2008
Again, I awoke after six hours of sleep without even trying to. Went down to Dunkin Donuts again for coffee and a muffin, and chatted for a bit with a vendor. Turns out the thing they were setting up for last night was an art fair.
Taina was still in the shower when I got back, and Leo and Doppleganger were nowhere to be found. So I took Leo's DVD of "Total Recall" out and put in "Invader Zim." We watched the first episode of that (my roomies came back as it was warming up), and then we headed up to the 9th Floor. Vox told me that she was giving discounts if someone were to buy a "couple." So I bought Xanatos and Fox as gifts for my goddaughter and her brother. Then I checked out some artwork. Mara had a number of good ones up for bid. It was hard for me to bid on just one.
After that, I searched for the Fed Ex Kinko's and found out it no longer existed. So I scouted out where the Post Office was. Mission partially accomplished, I hiked up to the Con Suite. Initially, it was just Seth and Sammy in the Suite with Gargoyles: Season One going in the background. Had a nice chat with Seth about Spectacular Spider Man, and then a few more people wandered in. I ran downstairs twenty minutes before the 1:00PM panel on weapons was supposed to start, and entered the art fair to grab lunch. Decided on a grilled chicken skewer over lo mein noodles, then ran upstairs while snacking to catch the end of "Awakening."
After that, I went to the weapons panel, which was a lot of fun. I decided to stick around for Karine's panel on character perspectives and dimensions. I always like watching artists work, though it makes me jealous the way they make it look so easy. I just don't have the gift. But I'm gifted in other things. Like sarcasm.
After that, I went into the Dealer's Room, and had a fun chat with GregX about Venture Brothers. He's memorized more of the Monarch's dialogue than I have. Eventually, it moved out into the hallway, where we chatted with Matt until it was time for the Radio Play. This one surprised me, mostly because I agreed with Matt that I didn't think it could be formatted for Radio Play. Won't say anything more, other than I learned something unexpected.
During the Radio Play, we could hear a storm raging outside, but the room was windowless. After the play was over, I went out onto the balcony and saw that the Art Fair below had taken a good beating. So after a stop off in the room, I went down to ground level for some close-ups of the devastation. Saw some outhouses that got knocked down, as well as a huge pile of tent supports that were being stacked in an intersection.
Anyway, I went to the lounge next to the hotel after that to get my sushi fix. A little pricey, but I love sushi. After dinner, I saw Matt and his friend Ryan hanging around outside. I chatted with them for a bit, until they went off to dinner with another friend, so I went back to the room, where I found the roomies watching more "Samurai Jack." At one point, I went to the lobby to chuck some trash, and ran into another con-goer named Shadow Wing. I had an interesting discussion with him, but it got cut short since the ride he was waiting for arrived.
I went back up to the room, watched another Jack episode, and then decided to grab some ice cream from Ben and Jerry's before going upstairs to the Blue Mug a Guest. This year,I managed to stay up to the end, and boy was it fun. I saw an amusing Navy ad that I need to look for on Youtube. Also, the location where Keith David bought his cigar is a dark secret. He could tell me, but then he'd have to kill me. We also saw Thom do his impression of Goliath and Elisa having sex, and got Greg's more, um, honest opinions on a few plot points in the movie "Iron Man."
By the end of the Mug, I was a bit buzzed on Vault. After it broke up, GregX briefly told me about his dinner, and then I crammed into an elevator with Thom Adcox and about nine other attendees, and proceeded down to the room for rest.
To be concluded...
So is that the fourth trip to CVS...
June 25th, 2008
Woke up before my alarm. Funny how I never seem to be able to do that on weekdays. Got up, grabbed a shower, bowl of rice krispies, and some coffee. Made sure I'd packed everything, and then sat and visited with my grandparents for a bit, who'd come down from Maryland because my grandfather was having lumbar surgery. After that, I hit the road.
The flight at Richmond International was only delayed by about an hour, but it was okay. I had a good novel to read ("Count Zero," the second book in William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy). I got my first good omen when we boarded, and my window curtain refused to open. I got my second good sign when the captain announced they were delaying takeoff due to maintenance issues. The clincher occurred after we arrived at O'Hare. My seat was close to the cockpit, and I overheard the captain loudly remark that he was glad they were getting out of that jet and onto another. Whatever. I arrived with my organs intact.
I went to pick up the rental after I'd claimed my bag. The woman asked me if I wanted to upgrade from a PT Cruiser to a Mustang for only six bucks. Gee, that was a tough choice. Sadly, there was a lot of traffic on the road to De Kalb (I was spending Wednesday night with my aunt and uncle), so I couldn't really test the horsepower. The sound system was nice, though.
I had a nice visit with my aunt and uncle. It was fun trying to name a movie that Uncle Dave might have seen Keith David in (best I could do was "Crash." For some reason, "Platoon" never came into my mind). Also played some Star Wars: Battlefront on Xbox Live with my cousin (shot Ewoks with a sniper rifle. Yay!), and I received word that my grandfather made it through surgery. We ate a late dinner, but it was delicious. My aunt made rattatouille and spinach crepes with cous cous (and strawberry shortcake with ice cream for dessert). After that, I drank some wine while we watched my cousin's DVD of "Batman Begins." Went up to bed after that.
June 26, 2008
I rose, ate breakfast, and departed from my aunt and uncle's house at about 10ish. Turns out the Mustang isn't very fuel efficient. So I think the extra six bucks wasn't a fair trade, after all. I put gas in the rental, dropped it off, and after following the wrong signs at O'Hare for a bit, managed to find the shuttle service. The shuttle driver didn't seem to talk much, despite my efforts to start conversation. But I still gave him a tip when we got there.
I ran into Greg Bishansky in the lobby, and we were both checking in at the same time. As I dumped my bags in my room, he called and invited me to hang out for a bit before other con staff began arriving. So I went upstairs to his room. He and I had a nice chat (interrupted briefly when Leo arrived, and I went downstairs to give him a key) interspersed with viewings of various animated things as well as some clips from the Colbert Report.
After that, he needed to prepare for the arrival of the other staff, so I went downstairs, unpacked some essentials, took another minute to laugh at the ludicrous prices of the snacks available in the room, and then went down to CVS to buy more affordable provisions. I picked up some snacks and caffiene, and when I got back to the hotel, bumped into Bishansky and Leo in the lobby, so I stopped to chat. In the process, I was regaled with amusing tales from past cons.
I finally got my stuff up in the room after getting a call from my cousin, who's working at Northwestern for the summer, a block and a half from the hotel. After stashing the goods, I went back downstairs, where Greg was still waiting for the con staff, and chatted with him (mostly about the sorry state of our flights) until my cousin showed up. He and I then found a Panera's not far from the hotel, and got some sandwiches (I had a Bacon Turkey Bravo, not my usual).
We parted ways after we ate, since he had more RA meetings. I made a second trip to CVS (forgot to get bottled water the first trip), then hit a wine and cigar store, respectively. The proprietor of the latter, an elderly Indian man, simply said, "we close in five minutes. Find what you want fast."
Anyway, after that, I went back up to the room, and had a fun chat with Leo about movies and Robot Chicken. Then I realized I had no spoons with which to consume the pudding I bought. So I took another trip down to CVS. Doppleganger and DTaina arrived shortly after I got back. We tried for a while to hook up Taina's PS2 in order to watch DVDs. For some reason, the volume on the TV was a little weak. Figures. They charge through the nose for everything else, and the TV doesn't work. Still, swankier than the last hotel (which was not without its charm). We turned on the subtitles while we watched Leo's DVD of "Orgazmo," which was pretty funny. Then we all drifted off after that.
To be continued...
Sounds like a good start. Only three CVS trips...
My con journal. ^..^
After work, I packed up the last few things I needed and headed off to pick up Ethan from class. Some final preparations were in order while we waited for Vox to get home, and then we were off.
Vox drove through the night; I had the morning shift. We arrived at the hotel at about noonish, checked in and headed for the dealer's room to set up the small army of dolls. Those that were to be guest gifts were given out: Thom got a Lexington, Greg and Keith each got a Goliath, and the con-chair received the mascot dolls. Karine was so ecstatic to receive her Robyn Canmore (in her Bad Guys Hunter outfit) that I believe it never left her side the rest of the day. Paula, of Mystick Waboose, was also there with her very amusing t-shirts and lovely clothes. We had fun talking to her last year, and this year her company was just as good. ^..^
Spent the rest of the time before Opening Ceremonies working on fleshing out a sketch I'd brought with me, but that was put on hold as soon as the festivities began. I was surprised to see the number of new people there: it seemed like a third of the room had never been to a Gathering before. As usual, everything was entertaining, and we even got to see the music video entries this time. Unfortunately, we got so hungry we missed out on this year's showing of "The Last."
Wandered off to find some good food, and boy did we find it (good food seemed to be everywhere). That night it was the Celtic Knot, a very reasonably-priced restaurant with dishes based, naturally, in the British Isles. Vox had a very light salmon covered in pesto atop a bed of spinach, Ethan had something that was the equivalent of beef stew in a pastry, and I had marinated London broil with fingerling potatoes and broccoli. So tasty! After that we shuffled back to the room and promptly fell asleep.
I wasn't planning on doing the radio play this year, so my day was pretty easy. Hung out in the dealer's room, gabbed a bit, and inked the sketch. Round about lunchtime we decided to group up for food: took Paula and a couple of other people in search of reasonably priced sushi. Sashimi Sashimi had it, and it was fabulous. Best dragon roll I've ever had, and we had it again for lunch a time or two. ^..^
The radio play went well considering the reformatting that had to be done. I like the story better in nonlinear format, but that totally wouldn't have suited the play at all, and everybody did a great job on what Greg turned it into. ^..^ Dinner that night was fun. We followed a tantalizing smell to the FlatTop Grill, which is a place kind of like a Mongolian barbeque. All the raw ingredients and sauces are there to pile into bowls. If you want any extras (or have allergies), there are little plastic sticks you put into the bowl. Then they cook it on a giant hibachi grill, pour it all into a big red bowl, and bring it to you. And it was fabulous! They also had really good drinks. Their pomegranate lemonade was really tasty, and the pomegranate margarita was great, and we had a good laugh as the others partook of their signature beverage: the Horny Monkey. LOL Then it was on to the Blue Mug, which was hilarious and lasted until about 1am. After that we crawled back to the room for some rest.
Up and back out to the dealer's room. By the end of the day, my pic had a background and was fully colored (thanks to the borrowing of a laptop for reference). The bio & culture panel was good again this year; we got a pretty full explanation of the mechanisms behind the gargoyles' eyes lighting up, among other things. Ran out for lunch, and then it was time for the Iron Artist competition. Theme: the Ultrapack. Secret Ingredients: uncooked pasta and glue! I handed out some paper and let people borrow my colored pencils, and we got furiously to work. After an hour of grousing, requests to hand things over, giggling, and pasta-smashing, people in the hallway were "kidnapped" for voting purposes. I didn't win, but it was definitely a fun thing to participate in, and I'll try to whenever we have one.
Ethan and Vox got all pretty for the banquet and dance; I would have, but I'd forgotten to bring anything nice (and I'm not sure any of it fits properly anymore >..< ). The food was pretty good, and the dessert was very good. Note to self: fruit tarts are yummy. Thom and Gorebash were at our table, so we did pretty well on the trivia, but eventually we fell to a Gargoyles 2198 question. It was fun seeing the staff come up with so many extra questions, though. We all knew so much that they ran out. ;P
The Masquerade was definitely a treat, as I didn't get to go last year (we had to bug out in the middle of the banquet). Plenty of good costumes and a fun time. The dance was okay, but the music wasn't really inspiring me, so after a couple of times on the floor I just watched. Then I got an invite for Uno and snacks in Thom's room, so of course I went. ^..^ That was great fun. I won once, the snacks were good, and we got to laugh at the television (and show Thom some very unmentionable internet pictures LOL). More staying up till 1am, then crashing.
Ran things around to make sure checking out wouldn't be a problem, then hit the Blue Mug Productions panel. I have to say that this will be a very interesting endeavor, and I think the fandom's prurience will be happily satisfied. :P
Then we bundled into the car and I began driving. The way home was more eventful due to missing a turn around some construction and other things, but eventually Vox took over and got us home in one piece. Dropped the others off home and dragged myself to my house, where I promptly collapsed into bed.
All in all, a good con, though I'm glad driving isn't an option next year. That was exhausting. It took me until yesterday to recover. x..x I look forward to seeing everybody again next year, and maybe this time I'll actually be in the art show instead of just looking at it.
Participation is ALWAYS encouraged!
My Gathering 2008 Con Journal, the conclusion.
SUNDAY, JUNE 29TH
Woke up. Showered. Went to the comic book panel, hosted by Greg W. and Karine. A fun way to kill an hour. Didn't really get anything out of it, but it was pleasant.
Killed some time at the library.
Returned to the hotel a little while and headed upstairs for the 'Spectacular Spider-man' panel hosted by Greg w., Jennifer Anderson, and Thom Adcox. Asked Greg (no pun intended) a couple of questions ('Will Harry return in season 2?' 'Will we have Spiderman DVD season sets, like Gargoyles?') but mostly I just sat and listened. There will be DVD sets coming soon, but not as a season compilation. More like those 3 episodes per volume kind that I generally tend to associate with Anime. Not that Spiderman is anime, of course.
Though now I'm pondering what an anime version of Spiderman would be like. Damn you, overactive imagination!
Didn't stick around for the live auction, but I returned to the Bonbright Room at 3:30 for Autograph Signing (I'd figured there would have been a anthology signing session. Boy, was I dead wrong.) and did... nothing. Boredom the entire time. Only one person had asked for my autograph, and that was in line for Radio Play auditions. And it was more of a 'you're here and I have my anthology, so I might as well ask' thing then a 'Thanks for writing this submission! You rock and I want your John Hancock!'
Eh, no sense complaining.
Joined A Fan, Ranmaru, Azariel (sp?), VidTheKid, and those 2 girls with the camera (the ones filming a documentary about the con) for the 8th annual Anti-banquet at Giordano's. Pizza was delicious, but rich, so I got full fast. Halloweenking had come in and asked if he could join us, and we said sure, but apparently the waitress had seated him elsewhere. Oh, well. If I ever go to Chicago again, for whatever reason, I definitely need to eat at Giordano's again. That pizza was like heaven. Not too saucy, delicious pepperoni, and the crust was flaky in a exquisite crunchy sort of way. Big thumbs up to them. If they have Giordano's in L.A., (though I somehow doubt they do) Greg, you should definitely go there. Assuming you like pizza.
Rained heavily. Again. What was it with Illinois weather??
The 4 of us (minus Hal and the girls) went back to the Orrington. Ranmaru and Azariel changed into their costumes in our room, and we headed down to Masquerade.
The Masquerade. Lots of picture taking. Got one with Ranmaru and Azariel, just b/c I hadn't had any taken of me yet and I wanted at least one. Kudos to Flanker for playing Odin and to the guy (girl?) who played 'The Gargoyle Tourist'. Kind of looked it could've been Brooklyn's grandma or something. :P
Lot of dancing afterwards, though I'm not enthused in that activity, so I just watched a lot. Wandered around the room in boredom and hoping to mingle. Eventually got caught up in Jeb's 'Mugen' video game he had set up in one corner of the room. I played such characters as Piccolo from DBZ, Naruto from, well, Naruto, Sonic The Hedgehog, and even Fat Albert. A decent sized crowd remained constant, and everyone alternated between watching participating.
I eventually started having trouble keeping my eyes open, so I called it a night and sluggishly dragged my tired ass upstairs. Comfy bed, how I have missed you.
MONDAY, JUNE 30TH
The last day was here. Fast and bittersweet. Some things never change. At least I've made a few new friends. :)
On my way out of the hotel, Thom got on my elevator and we were so busy talking that I forgot to pay attention what floor I got off at, and I couldn't get back on. My response? 'Oh, s**t.'
After all that, my first panel of the day (because it snatched my curiosity) was the 'Blue Mug Productions' thing, at 11:30, in the Bonbright Room, (as I write this, I'm suddenly thinking of Clue, for some reason. :P) hosted by Greg W., Jen Anderson, Karine, and Mara Cordova. They showed off some artwork, gave some character descriptions for their first online comic, plugged their new website (www.BlueMugProductions), and answered some questions. Sounded intriguing, and I approve. Trouble is, I kept thinking to myself (God, I must sound so cheap) that due to finances and my not splurging too often, I'd probably just look at the free stuff.
Closing Ceremonies. What I wouldn't have given for the con to have gone a little slower. Like I said, bittersweet. Some plugging for next year's con (back in L.A. so I am definitely gonna be there!) and the usual handshakes. Saluted Thom.
And, with that, the con was over.
For another year.
VidTheKid and I, having decided to skip the Navy Pier trip (how did that go BTW?), left right afterwards, the three of us having already packed up and checked out. Dropped A Fan off at O'Hare and drove home, stopping once for gas in Indiana. Had lunch at a Steak N' Shake (another highly recommended restaurant, though service can be a bit slow, from experience) outside Lafayette. We were several miles down the freeway when I realized I'd left my hat there (Doh!), but we decided it wasn't worth it. Price of gas was/still is 3 times as much as I'd paid for that dumb cap.
Tried twice to watch 'Futurama' with commentary on the portable DVD player. The first time the car was moving so much that the disc was skipping. The second time we tried, VidTheKid couldn't hear the audio. We gave up.
We eventually hit 70-West and followed it onto state route 142, following it home. It was after 11:00 PM when we finally ended our journey.
Another year, another fun con.
Until G2009 in L.A., good luck.
I'll watch for Spiderman season 2.
Spider-Man, Season Two - coming in MARCH!
As for www.bluemugproductions.com ...
Don't assume it's going to be that expensive. Charter members will get a HUGE discount. So sign up for alerts at the website.