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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... ;)
I live in Ottawa. I would LOVE to go the Gathering at some point, but I can;t go because of the distance. I know the Gathering was held in Montreal, but I wasn't aware of that at the time. Will the Gathering be held in Ottawa or somewhere (Toronto would be good) anytime soon? I love Gargoyles and will like to interact with people who sare my intrest.
Gatherings are only planned -- at most -- 18 months in advance. G2009 is being held in Los Angeles. We don't yet know where 2010 will be, but if you want it in Ottawa, your best bet is to organize a group of fans there and put in a bid for the con. It's fans who organize each convention, usually local fans.
I have heard that season three of Spectacular Spider-Man is running trouble, and you might have to leave if season 3 dosen't start production. I'm starting to worry. Please tell me, on a scale of one to ten (ten being you're staying, one being you're leaving)ehat are the odds of you staying? I know season 3 will probably come at some point (I hope) but you and the crew aren't there, it won't be the same.
I can't give you numbers. They still haven't picked us up for Season Three, and today we had a farewell party for the majority of the crew (that is the majority that still remains -- many have already been laid off). This includes our character designer Sean "Cheeks" Galloway. After a few more weeks, we'll be down to myself, Vic Cook and our post-production team. We're hoping when we get a pick-up that we'll be able to bring the whole crew back more or less intact, but we already know that a few individuals on our staff already have new jobs and probably will not be coming back. Vic and I and our post-team are on until early January. One would hope we'd get the pick-up by then, but if it doesn't come soon I'll HAVE to look for a new job. Preferably a new job that will allow me to come back and do Spidey if/when (probably WHEN not if) it's picked up. But beggars can't be choosers, you know, and I have a mortgage to pay and kids, dogs and a cat to feed.
By the way, after losing all our pets over the last year, we have two new (not young but new) Basset Hounds, Murray and Hermione, and a new cat (Emmy).
This is just a quick note to thank Greg for coming to Minneapolis and CONvergence this past July 4 weekend. The Twin Cities is not a hotbed of animation production, so it was fabulous to have Greg travel here to talk about one of the best animated series I've ever seen, Gargoyles.
And thanks to all the Gargoyles fans who've kept the series alive. Now if Disney would only release the second disc of season 2. Hmmm...
Thanks, Britt. I had a great time at ConVergence. Really, next to the Gathering, it's my favorite convention.
While this isn't Gargoyles related, I did have a question about one of your other works. Today when I was researching the episode of "The Batman" titled "Artifacts", I was surprised to find out that you were the story writer. I checked some more and found that you actually worked on 7 episodes of "The Batman"; The Big Chill, The Rubber Face of Comedy Part 1, The Clayface of Tragedy Part 2, Meltdown, Strange Minds, The Everywhere Man, and Artifacts.
Coincidently, I've noticed that the episodes you worked on happy to be the higher ranking episodes for me in this show. Besides that, my question to you is how deeply interested / have you been in the Batman world? Did you read it a lot when you were a kid? Are you a big fan of Batman? Were these seven episodes just offered to you, or did you strive to get them?
I'm mostly curious, and look forward to your response.
I'm a huge Batman fan. As you may know, I also worked at DC Comics for years. And one of my personal favorite Captain Atom issues which I wrote for them, was a Batman-Captain Atom crossover.
I pursued writing work on The Batman, AND I was offered said work... first by story editor Duane Capizzi (for the first five episodes you list) and then by story editor Michael Jelenic (for the last two). All seven scripts were close collaborations.
I liked the show, and they seemed to like my work on it. Glad you liked it too.
Since Demona turns into a human by day, courtesy of Puck in "The Mirror" (awesome episode), would she still lay eggs like a normal gargoyle or have liveborn offspring? Would it depend on her form at the time? What she mated with?
Form at the time.
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!
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