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THE BUFFYVERSE [SEASONS 1-3] TOP FORTY

Yes, we're back with another look at the most memorable characters in the Buffyverse.

[For more information on what I'm doing here and why I'm doing this, I recommend an archive search using the word "Buffyverse". That'll show you the character countdowns for the first two seasons.]

Keep in mind, this is a subjective exercise that I've tried to make as objective as possible.

The following horserace takes the first three seasons into account. All three seasons. NOT just Season Three. However, it does not include the last four seasons of Buffy or any season of Angel.

First some honorable mentions from the third season (in reverse order of importance)...

*The Lunch Lady who tried to poison the entire student body.
*D'Hoffryn, the Demon who gave Anya her powers and refused to give them back when she lost them. This is cheating a bit. He may not have made that much of an impression if I didn't know he'd be more important later.
*Tucker Wells - The student who sent hellhounds to the Prom. This is WAY cheating. If I didn't know Tucker's brother Andrew would become important, I'm not sure I'd have remembered this guy much at all.
*Mr. Platt - A sympathetic guidance councelor killed by a Mr. Hyde like student. He just had a couple of great scenes with Buffy.
*The Shrouded Sorceror who helped Angel and Buffy con Faith and the Mayor into thinking Angel had lost his soul. Two memorable things. The way he'd exit a room backwards into darkness. And the fact that Giles had introduced him to his wife.
*Ms. Gwendolyn Post - The fallen watcher who cons everybody.
*Zackary Kralik - The serial killer turned vampire, that Buffy tricks into drinking holy water. A real fun sick puppy, played by the always interesting Jeff Kober.
*Balthazar - You may not remember the name, but I'm sure you'd remember the obese demon body sitting in a wine vat, with vamp slaves ladeling some liquid onto his skin. One of the best and most fun creatures they ever created. Funny too. "Unacceptable. Unacceptable." The Wallace Shawn of the Demon World.
*The First - Makes its first appearance this season, trying to turn Angel. Mostly uses Ms. Calendar's form.
*Sheila Rosenberg - Willow's mom. Wish we had seen more of her.
*Lily (alias Chanterelle alias Sister Sunshine alias Anne). The former Vamp-wannabe reappears in Buffy's life as a homeless girl. Buffy seems to set her on a more positive path... and I know that in Angel, the actress Julia Lee who plays Lily winds up playing a homeless advocate. I'm looking forward to seeing whether or not I can discern if she's playing the same character -- now with her act together.
*Quentin Travers - Head of the Watcher's Council has a neat first appearance.
*Mr. Miller - The one teacher at Sunnydale High who keeps making continuity appearances over and over across Buffy's Junior & Senior years. Has one fun scene in the Graduation 2-parter where he's leading the class in a game of Hangman: "They always go for the E."

And now the top 40...

#40 THE JUDGE (Previous Rank: 30)
Dropping ten slots from last season, the big blue smurf is still holding on to the top 40. Barely.

#39 NORMAN PFISTER THE WORM GUY (PR:29)
Also dropping 10 slots. But still a cool idea a year later.

#38 LUKE (Previous Ranks: 14 (1st Season), 27 (2nd Season))
Our first episodic villain is still pretty memorable, though this may be his last season in the rankings. He's fallen eleven slots from last season. 24 from the first. Of course, it's still impressive that actor Brian Thompson still has two characters (Luke & the Judge) in the top 40.

#37 HANK SUMMERS (PR:21, 25)
Hank's falling fast (12 slots this season alone), as the guy rapidly becomes a dead-beat dad -- due more to story space constraints than anything we would have gleaned from the times we've seen him in person. He goes from taking Buffy for an entire summer to not even showing up for her birthday. And his inattention is only going to get worse.

#36 DETECTIVE STEIN (PR:32)
Down only four slots, and I'm sure you're all asking, "Who?" But if you had just finished the third season, you'd know. This guy is a subplot that never quite came to life. He's an honest cop, who suspects Buffy's up to no good -- or at least that something no good is happening around her. He's interrogated (or tried to interrogate) her three times. After the deaths of Ted, Kendra and the Deputy Mayor. He interests me. But I don't think we'll be seeing him again.

#35 UNCLE ENYOS THE GYPSEY MAN (PR:21)
Still holding on in points from Season Two. But he's fallen 14 slots, and counting.

#34 JESSE (PR:13, 20)
Falling another 14 slots, Jesse, the forgotten sacrificial lamb of the pilot is still hanging on.

#33 SCOTT HOPE (First appearance)
Scott's the nice guy who tries to date Buffy on the rebound from Angel's "death" in Season Two -- and while she's trying to nurse Angel back to health in Season Three. He winds up dumping her because she's so angsty. Wish we had seen a bit of him at the end of the season, but he vanishes after Homecoming.

#32 DEPUTY MAYOR ALLAN FINCH (First appearance)
The Mayor's right hand man -- until he decides to betray the Mayor to Buffy. He goes to find her, and winds up getting accidentally killed by Faith. He then becomes a guilt trip for both slayers.

#31 WHISTLER (PR:18)
Falls 13 slots in the rankings. But still a memorable character. The guy who brought Angel back from the brink.

#30 KENDRA (PR:17)
The first supplemental slayer. Begins to pale now that we've met Faith.

#29 ETHAN RAYNE (PR:22)
Ethan falls seven slots despite another interesting appearance as a Band Candy distibutor.

#28 DEVON (PR:37)
The lead singer for Oz's band (Dingoes ate my baby), has multiple brief funny appearances. He's likely to fade after Oz leaves the show.

#27 AMY MADISON THE RAT (PR: 17, 23)
She's fallen four slots, but that's more a factor of so many more characters coming in. I even gave her partial credit when she appeared ONLY as a rat.

#26 PERCY WEST (First appearance)
Percy was the Basketball Player that Willow was forced to tutor. He tried to take advantage of her, but VampWillow put a stop to that. He makes a number of appearances afterward and joins the final battle against the Mayor. I keep watching that last episode, but I can't see if they show us his final fate.

#25 LARRY (PR:35)
Larry actually gains ten slots, as he continues to make appearances. He's memorable as one of the "White Hats" in the alternate universe that Anya creates for Cordy. He's also fun as the jock who comes out as gay and mistakenly tries to help Xander come out as well. He appears to die heroically fighting the Mayor, but I like Larry, and I'm hoping he was merely knocked unconscious.

#24 PRINCIPAL BOB FLUTIE (PR:9, 16)
Falling another 8 slots. But still with enough first season points to keep him a fond memory.

#23 DARLA (PR: 11, 15)
Also falls eight slots. Still a potent memory. And she'll make a comeback.

#22 ANYA/ANYANKA (First appearance)
Who knew? She was fairly disposable in her first appearance, and I'm convinced she was only brought back a second time, because Joss was fascinated with VampWillow. But Anya made a strong enough impression in her second appearance, to warrant a comeback for the Prom. She quickly becomes fascinating opposite Xander. She bolts from Sunnydale during the pilot. But I should have known she'd be back.

#21 WILLY THE SNITCH (PR:24)
Up three slots. Just fun to be around. He'll start to fade as actor Saverio Guerra became a regular on Becker...

#20 HARMONY KENDALL (PR: 18, 26)
Up six slots from last season (although still down two from season one), she just has a few memorable bitchy/ditzy/comic appearances. And a couple of really great lines. If you look carefully, you can in fact see her get bitten by a vamp during graduation.

#19 COLIN THE ANNOINTED ONE (PR:10, 14)
Fallen five slots and still coasting on big point totals from season one and the beginning of season two.

#18 MR. TRICK (First appearance)
A breath of fresh air who I was really sorry to see get staked by Faith.

#17 JONATHAN (PR:19)
Jonathan moves up two slots (in an increasingly tougher field) based on strong appearances as a near-suicide and as the guy who gives Buffy her School Protector award at the Prom. Hard not to love.

#16 THE MASTER (PR: 8, 13)
The Big Bad of Season One falls three slots, despite having a delicious appearance (where he gets to kill Buffy AGAIN) in the alternate universe episode.

#15 WESLEY WYNDAM-PRICE (First appearance)
It's amazing how this goofball got us to care about him more with every year. He may be the single character who grew the most over the course of the serieses. Maybe even more than Spike.

#14 MAYOR RICHARD WILKINS III (PR:40)
The Mayor barely leaps 26 slots -- which would be even more impressive if he had actually appeared in Season Two, instead of just getting some points there for interesting foreshadowing. He certainly lived up to the bill.

#13 JENNY CALENDER (PR:15, 11)
Jenny falls a couple slots (though she's still ahead of her season one ranking) despite appearing as The First.

#12 SPIKE (PR: 9)
Spike, who'll be making quite a comeback of course, falls three slots, despite a very fun appearance as a drunken lout who wants Dru back.

#11 DRUSILLA (PR: 8)
Dru still manages to just barely stay ahead of Spike, based on her Season Two point total.

#10 FAITH (First appearance)
Faith is number ten with a bullet (or at least a very fancy knife). It's a stunning accomplishment to see how she enters partway through this season and rises so far, so fast.

#9 PRINCIPAL SNYDER (PR: 12, 10)
Snyder continues his slow rise, up another slot. But after being eaten by the mayor, he's poised to begin a slow slide. Always thought that his death was great, but it did surprise me as I thought the Mayor was less of an ingrate than that.

#8 JOYCE SUMMERS (PR:7, 7)
Joyce drops down a slot from seventh place to make room for Oz.

#7 OZ (PR:12)
Oz leapfrogs five hard-earned slots. Has some nice werewolf moments too.

#6 ANGEL (PR:6,6)
The top six haven't changed. Angel just can't quite pull up even with Cordy. Of course, next season, his own show'll put him on the fast track. Maybe even for #2.

#5 CORDELIA CHASE (PR:5,5)
Got some real great moments this year.

#4 WILLOW ROSENBERG (PR:4,4)
Inching closer to Xander, but doesn't quite pull up even in points.

#3 XANDER HARRIS (PR:3,3)
Nuf said.

#2 RUPERT GILES (PR: 2,2)
I keep expecting Giles to slip relative to Xander & Willow, but in fact he extended his lead this season. Probably, because they so evenly split each other's screentime as Buffy's best buds.

#1 BUFFY ANNE SUMMERS (PR:1,1)

That's it for now. But here's my plan... I'm going to get the DVD's for Buffy Season Four AND Angel Season One. I'm going to watch the episodes (44 total) in AIRING ORDER. When I've gone through 22 episodes (the equivalent of one season), I'll be back with another update.

Hope this is at least mildly interesting. If not, well, then just skip it. Who's holding a gun to your head, anyway?


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25%

Nothing to sneeze at -- and with gratitude to those who have participated -- but right now, Todd tells me, we only have about 38 Gathering Journals posted at ASK GREG.

That's about 25%. I was hoping for at least FIFTY PERCENT cooperation. C'mon, guys. Put your keyboard where your mouth is!!

You only have until midnight on the 31st!!

Thanks


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THE GATHERING OF THE GARGOYLES 2004 JOURNAL - Sunday, August 8 (The Voyage Home)

So I showered and packed. Carol came knocking to say good-bye.

Then I headed down to the lobby.

Said good-bye to Zehra.

Then Patrick and I headed out.

I'd like to be able to tell GXB that our journey was something out of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, but the truth is it went incredibly smoothly and we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

Sorry, Greg. But you're still my best Gathering Travel story.

Anyway, Patrick & I shook hands on a great convention. And off I went.

I went through American Customs up in Montreal somehow. Then I had some Burger King.

Got on the plane. Slept finally. Missed the meal and the movie. Woke up. Read a bit. Landed. Was picked up VERY promptly by the driver, who seemed surprised to see me coming out so soon.

Got home to my family. Gave my family stuff. T-shirts, pins, Canadian coinage, sketches drawn by someone whose name escapes me at the moment.

Then I shaved off the beard for my newly ten-year-old daughter. Just as well. I'm growing too dependent on the beard anyway. But it seemed to make things official. The Gathering was Over.

EPILOGUE:

We had an extended family birthday dinner for Erin that night, which included my parents, my 94 year-old-grandmother, my sister, my brother and his wife and TWO kids, ages not-quite-two-years-old and not-quite-one-week. Plus of course, me, Beth and Benny.

The next day we drove down to San Diego for a little family vacation. We were staying with Gary & Jane Krisel. Gary was my boss during the Gargoyles years at Disney. He was a big contributor to the show's development. A big believer in the concept. And the guy who basically left me alone to run it. So tip of the hat to Gary. When I told him about the Gathering, he thought I was kidding at first. ("An entire convention dedicated to one cartoon?") I thought HE was kidding about me kidding him, because I'm POSITIVE that I invited him to G2001 in L.A.

Anyway, it was great to see him again.

We did the Theme Park rounds. A day at SeaWorld. A day at the Wild Animal Park. A day at Legoland. Then we headed home again, picking up Norman at the vets on the way.

Norman's wearing a cone/lampshade around his head. But he's doing well.

I finished "I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason". I really liked it and am looking forward to Cece's next adventure: "Nancy Drew Blue".

Then I read Walter Mosely's "Fear Itself". Which was also great.

Today, I saw an early cut of the DVD Documentary. David Grabias and his editor Amy did a terrific job. I'm not going to go into any specifics, because (a) it's not a final cut and (b) I don't want to spoil anything. But trust me it's very cool. And you all look great!

That's about it for now. See you when I get back from Vegas.

Oh, and one last time -- SPREAD THE WORD. GATHERING REPORTS/JOURNALS/DIARIES need to be posted here by AUGUST 31st. PLEASE!!!!


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THE GATHERING OF THE GARGOYLES 2004 JOURNAL - Saturday, August 7 (Nightpart III - The Long Goodbye)

With the costume & cosplay contests over, things started to relax. My assignments were over, and I could just kick back. Unfortunately, I was leaving the hotel at 6am the next morning. For the first time, I'd miss Closing Ceremonies, which was a huge bummer. I'd also miss spending any real time with Keith. But my daughter's TENTH birthday was Sunday the 8th. I had hoped to bring the whole family to the Gathering this year, but I just couldn't afford it, and I wasn't going to miss her birthday. In fact, Erin was very gracious about allowing me to fly home Sunday on her birthday instead of Saturday night. The trade-off was I agreed to shave off the beard when I got home. Benny likes it, but Erin doesn't. So it's gone now.

I promise though that next year, the whole family's coming to Las Vegas. In fact, we're leaving for Vegas the day after tomorrow. That's right, I'm so anxious to get back to the Gathering, I'm leaving an entire year early. (Or maybe, it's because my in-laws live in Vegas, and we're going to see them. I get confused sometimes.)

Anyway, we hung out downstairs for awhile. I had a number of nice chats... with Crazyman Marty Lund and his decidedly saner wife Lexy... with Kathy... with Ellen... with Carol... with Shaun... with Tony & Andrea...

Keith and his kids came back down for the Karaoke. Keith couldn't find a song he liked, so he just sang (wearing a baby no less). He truly is one of the coolest and smoothest individuals on the planet.

We've got some great singers in the fandom. Taylor sang the Love Boat theme AND better still "The Summer Winds". Cindy, Zehra & Jen all have amazing voices too. And that YMCA was a classic.

There is no way you're ever going to get me to sing. Never gonna happen. Have to maintain some dignity. But just because I'm a thrill-seeker, here is a brief list of songs I sometimes sing in my car...

Nat King Cole's "When I Grow To Old To Dream"
Joe Jackson's "The Other Me"
Joe Jackson's "Hometown"
Bruce Springsteen's "One Step Up"
Don McLean's "American Pie"

Karine dragged me onto the dance floor. After I made her promise not to go into labor, we did a couple of swing moves which was fun (especially when she eventually let me lead). I definitely think the Gatherings need more swing in general.

Around 2am-ish the downstairs party began to break up. I know I was saying good-bye all night. I was really on the fence about whether or not to stay up all night and take off at six, or try to go to bed and worse try to wake up at five.

Because, I was having too much fun, I opted (mostly by default) for staying up all night.

Karine, Jen, Zehra, Patrick, Tony, Andrea and I went up to the consuite to hang. Had an apple and some chips. Liz, Kelly, Karlyle & Chameleon Girl showed up for a bit, and Liz dropped off a very cool hand-drawn Angela conbadge for me. We watched a surreal live-action Sailor Moon. This is something my kids would go nuts for, so if anyone can copy this stuff to VHS, I'd be interested...

It was all very punchy and silly and cosy and fun. I made one of the most truly tasteless jokes I've EVER made in my life. It was semi-avian in nature.

I love all-nighters. And I loved spending time with these people.

Then finally at about 5:15 it was time to hit the showers. I said goodbye to Karine, Tony & Andrea at the Consuite. To Jen in front of my room.

Of course by this time, it was way past officially Sunday, so I'll finish my last Journal entry tomorrow...

NEXT: The Trip to the Airport: ¿Can Toman top Bishansky?


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THE GATHERING OF THE GARGOYLES 2004 - JOURNAL (Nightpart II - The Masquerade)

I had time to run upstairs once more. Talked to Beth. Norman, our basset had had his surgery and was doing fine. Though, unfortunately, he was now completely deaf. (Although, today, when the doorbell rang, Norman started barking just like old times. It was the first time I had heard him bark since the surgery. But I have no idea how he could possibly have known that there was someone at the door. Freaky, but cool.)

While I was upstairs, various members of Keith's family began to straggle in. His son Owen. His lovely wife Dionne, Dionne's niece (whose name escapes me, I'm afraid) and Keith & Dionne's daughters: Maelee and Ruby. Many of you know that Dionne and Keith's first date was his appearance at G1997. That's right. Those of you who saw Keith's surprise entrance might also have noticed a beautiful woman standing in the back watching him. That was Dionne. After he and I did our Q&A, I was so grateful, I treated the two of them to dinner. (How's that for slick? The guy didn't even buy dinner for his wife-to-be. ;)

I came back downstairs and joined Keith as we prepared to judge the Masquerade. Daniel, our hotel contact, was the third judge. His girlfriend Lucy also kinda participated, and we drafted Christine to help us keep everything straight.

Idiot that I am, I forgot to keep my notes, so I tried to recreate them from memory on a groggy Sunday. I apologize in advance for any errors or ommissions.

I will say that the costumes this year were truly amazing -- both in quality and QUANTITY. The last couple years, we've had plenty of the former, but were kinda shy on the latter, as fewer and fewer people seemed to be dressing up. But this year, I'm sure thanks to David Grabias and the DVD Crew, people really went to town. I was especially gratified to see so many canon characters. All the original characters are neat, but for me it's much more fun to see one of my "babies" brought to life.

BEST IN SHOW: Having said that, the runaway hit was an original Gargoyle named, I think, KORUL: the Gargoyle who was afraid of heights. He had an amazing costume, with detractable wings and sang a filk song to the tune of Rubber Ducky. Brilliant.

The awards for Canon Characters:
1st: Shari as Ekidna (bloody amazing)
2nd: Jade as La Belle Elisa (so cute)
3rd: John as the Renaissance Hunter (very cool)

The awards for non-canon:
1. Caille as Argenta (also with amazing wing action)
2. Somebody as Dancer
3. Space-Babie as Laurie Canmore

The Thom Adcox Memorial Award went to Revel as Dracon. Just for the attitude. But he refused to drop trow.

Cutest Couple: Alan & Jackie as Xanatos & Fox from "Eye of the Beholder"

Cutest Old Married Couple: Tony & Andrea as Dracon & Bad Elisa (I loved Jen's line that "Bad" means "Cleavage".)

The Gorelisa Award went to Laurean as Tom. (Staff weren't supposed to be eligible, but (a) it was a limited field of cross-dressers this year and (b) she was just so darn cute and funny.)

We gave a late-comer award to Lynati, who showed up at the very last second with a truly amazing Ophelia costume. Kicked ass.

Winner in the Junior Division was Becca as a terrific Bronx.

The Cosplay winners were Sapphire, Chameleon Girl and Ethan, doing a hilarious recitation (complete with props) of our opening Narration. Totally cracked me up.

There were other great costumes as well:
Elisagargoyle
Fox in her evening gown with the Eye of Odin from "Eye"
Thailog
A Quarryman

And the staff... with all they had to do, they still managed (almost to a man) to dress for the occassion. And they truly looked great.

Jen & Alan came as Gruouch & Macbeth
Patrick & Cindy came as Puck & Titania
Kaylee & Si came as Princess Katharine & Tom (and that kiss was great)
Rob was Lex Luthor (by default, I gather)
And of course Karine showed up as a Pregnant Fox from "Walkabout"...

And the DVD Crew got it all on tape... I am such a proud Papa.

NEXT: THE NIGHT IS YOUNG. (Well, actually, the night is fortyish, but every once in a while, the night has to behave as if it's still in college, you know?)


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GATHERING 2004 JOURNAL - Saturday, August 7 (Nightpart I)

After my interview with Emru, but before I headed upstairs, I finally had time to browse the wonderful art show. There were a lot of great pictures and some very funny action figures. Not enough smut for my taste, of course, but it's hard to top the Gargoyles fandom in the art department. I just love seeing your stuff every year.

But the one piece that really spoke to me was Andrea Zucconi's portrait of Elisa. I'm not sure if I can exactly put my finger on why, but I really found it stunning. I don't vote in the contest. I never seem to have the time and the sheer number of categories is a bit overwhelming, but I would have voted that Elisa painting as best in show. JMHO.

Anyway, at 6pm I came back downstairs for the banquet. By the time I got there most everyone was seated. Keith still hadn't arrived but was due within the hour. Becca Morgan drew a number out of a hat, and Karine sent me to sit at a table on the far right. I sat down next to Liz -- who then proceeded to kick me out. I hadn't heard it, but I guess Karine had mistakenly announced that Liz's table would get Keith. So Liz sent me away. I returned to Karine, who sent me back to Liz. I felt like a definite consolation prize right about then. (At best.) But considering that Keith didn't arrive until the Q&A, making it impossible for him to simply converse with his table mates, I still think Liz got the better deal. But you'd have to ask her.

Anyway, dinner was very enjoyable. I shared the table with the Zucconis and Liz and Kelly and Chameleon Girl and Taylor, I think. Karlyle, were you there? A couple other people too. I'm blanking out at the moment.

Kelly told us all of her obsession with Dr. Doom. (How obsessed is she? Well, let's just say I found myself getting jealous.)

The menu cards, printed up by our hotel contact Daniel were extremely cool, featuring a nice portrait of Goliath.

The Menu:
*Nordic shrimp cocktail with avocado sauce
*Mixed greens with walnut oil
*Stuffed pair of quails ith grape and Port sauce
*Potatoes and market fresh vegetables
*Seasonal fruit charlotte with strawberry coulis
or
*three chocolate Bavarian cake with rasberry coulis
*Coffee & tea

Truth is, I'm a man of simpler tastes. The shrimp and salad were great. But I'm not a big quail fan. Not a big poultry fan, honestly. I think of birds as hassle food. Too many bones. But everything tasted great, and as you all know I'll eat anything but lamb.

As the hour came and went without a sign of Keith, Patrick or Carol, Karine asked me if I could get Carol's cellphone number. It was up in my room. So I made a quick run upstairs.

I reentered only to hear an unmistakeable voice announce: "Ladies & Gentlemen, Greg Weisman". Keith had arrived in the couple minutes while I was gone. (And vengeance belonged to those that I had fooled in the past.)

Anyway, food was saved for Keith and Patrick. Though Carol had to go back to the airport to gather up Keith's family. Keith struggled to eat while I tried to moderate the Q&A. Unsurprisingly, there were a LOT more questions for him than me. And unsurprisingly, if you know him, he had a lot to say. A lot of wonderful stories to tell. I love that man. I tried to give him a bit of time to eat. But hey, he's his own worst enemy in that department. Thank God.

(I'll refrain from commenting about the caterwaulling from the next room.)

We finally brought the Q&A to an end to give people time to change into their costumes.

COMING SOON: The Masquerade!!!


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Still recruiting journals...

Todd informs me that 21 of you have posted Gathering Journals here at ASK GREG.

I'm very grateful to you guys, but that's less than 14% of this year's attendance, which frankly is kinda pathetic.

Please, PLEASE, take a few minutes to write up your journals and cut and paste them here. And if you've already done it, pressure those who haven't and or spread the word.

This isn't a whim. I need the numbers to show the PTB.

Thanks.


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THE GATHERING 2004 JOURNAL - Saturday, August 7 (Daypart)

Despite a wake-up call that I DO remember receiving, I WAY overslept on Saturday, barely managing to shower and get downstairs in time for our second set of Auditions at 10am. Jen was putting out some fire somewhere, so we got to a bit of a late start, but we still had plenty of time to fit everyone in.

As usual, we were using the original audition sides that the actual voice actors used to audition for Gargoyles. Demona, Hudson, Goliath, Elisa, Brooklyn, Lexington, Broadway and Xanatos were all written by Michael Reaves and edited by me. Angela was written a year or more later by me.

We got a good turnout, with plenty of women auditioning, including many staff members.

At 11:30, Jen and I went upstairs to my room to cast the piece. There was time for lunch, but neither of us bothered.

We posted the cast list at 12:30pm, but not who was playing what parts.

I had a mug-a-guest next. One or two intriguing questions got asked, and I think I answered one of them, but from what I've seen posted, some conclusions were then jumped too based on facts not in evidence.

Next up was the Radio Play Rehearsal. With a cast of 31, I was very pleased that every one showed up and more or less on time too. I passed out the parts and scripts and we just had time to run through each act once. My favorite bit there was when Jen as Fleance said: "If he gets past us again, you can KISS our paychecks goodbye." And Zehra as Elisa responds with: "Pucker up." I made a rude remark that got a big laugh. But honestly, aren't the possibilities intriguing?

Anyway, as many of you know, we performed "THE JOURNEY" in the auditorium. This version was re-edited for the Radio Play, but came closer to reflecting my original intentions for the script than the strangely edited version (with those awful Goliath voice overs -- which I did not write) that they used in Goliath Chronicles.

THE GATHERING PLAYERS (2004 Edition):
Goliath - Rob St. Martin
Elisa Maza - Zehra Fazal
Brooklyn - Dylan Blacquere
Broadway - Revel
Hudson - Alan Torvik
Lexington - François Ferland
Angela - Annie S.
David Xanatos - Rob Irwin
Owen Burnett - Seth Jackson
Bronx - Syrth
John Castaway - Erik Mambu
Vinnie Grigori - Michael McAdam
Banquo - Ethan Gilchrist
Fleance - Jen Anderson
Art - Alex "Carter" Garg
Billy's Mom - Laurean Broadbent
Travis Marshall - Lanny Fields
Margot Yale - Cindy Kinnard
Matt Bluestone - Eric "Gorebash" Tribou
Lennox Macduff - Chris Rogers
Maria Chavez - Natalie "Vashkoda" Quanquin"
Lois - Jade Griffin
Fox - Kaylle
Alex Xanatos - Liz Chesterman
Cagney - Mary "Stormy" Pletsch
Jogger - Isabelle Filiaircault
Quarryman #1 - Tony Zucconi
Quarryman #2 - David Brown
Quarryman #3 - Sarah McEvoy
Quarryman #4 - Taylor Hord
Announcer - Dan Blundon
Narrator - Greg Weisman

Everyone was just great. Dylan & Revel actually kind of did pretty good Brooklyn & Broadway impersonations. I also loved hearing Lex with a French accent and cast François for that intentionally.

I loved how Jen & Ethan played off each other. And I really loved how Chris & Cindy played off each other.

And Lanny, I believe, has been in all seven radio plays. An impressive record.

And real props to our four leads: Michael, Eric, Zehra & Rob, who were all terrific. Rob had a particularly difficult job subbing for a still MIA Keith David. And Eric was really brilliant. His final "Dream of Me" line gave me chills.

As usual, the DVD squad was around filming. It was hard for them to predict who was going to speak and to mic those people, but hopefully they got some useable footage.

I'd also like to thank everyone who auditioned and didn't get cast. It really is appreciated when you lend your support. And keep trying!!!

Immediately after the radio play, I signed some scripts. (Alan got lucky as his Hudson script was signed by Ed Asner, thanks to Carol snagging Ed's signature when she went to record him for the Opening Ceremonies welcoming tape.)

I was supposed to have a signing with Keith about then. But of course, Keith wasn't there yet. And there isn't much left for me to sign in the fandom. So I sat there for about 45 minutes, talking to Emru Townsend for his magazine FPS. Emru had interviewed Keith and I years ago over the phone. So this was something of a follow up interview. Emru (who by the way has an AMAZING voice) and I had never met in person, so it was great to see him finally. He and I just talked. I don't remember exactly what I said though I have the distinct impression that SOME of what I said about the animation industry should probably have been "Off the Record". But, hey, getting blacklisted at studios is nothing new to me. (Oh, well.)

Around 5:30pm, I went back upstairs to rest and change to a slightly nicer shirt before the banquet. I think I called Beth and the kids. And I almost dozed. But I stayed awake... for a LONG time.

STAY TUNED for (Nightpart)


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THE GATHERING OF THE GARGOYLES 2004 JOURNAL - Friday, August 6 (Bring on the Night)

After Opening Ceremonies, Karine wanted to make another effort to go to the Crepe place that we had missed the night before. I ran upstairs to drop off all my junk and to quickly call home.

Then we were off and walking into Old Montreal. This time I had a sweatshirt, which kept me comfortable. Our group included myself, Karine, Mark & Mark, Zehra, Kathy, Shaun, Laurean, Ian and... Gen? (Sorry, I just can't remember.) It was a great group. I heard all about Zehra's plans to translate a Japanese play into English and then direct and produce it at Wellesley. Wow. I also listened to Laurean & Zehra compare notes on Japan, and caught up a bit with Kathy.

Karine wanted to eat outside, because they have a beautiful multi-tiered patio, but that would have been a half-hour wait and by eating inside we could be seated right away. So we admired the patio and, well, sat. Inside.

Dinner was great. I had Crepes Florentine, and then a terrific dessert crepe with Vanilla Ice Cream. I was also seated between two lovely ladies, Karine & Zehra, all the lovlier because they were generous enough to let me taste their dessert crepes as well.

Of course, our waiter was very nice, but a tad dangerous. Dropping plates. Shattering dishes. Spoiling food and even dropping a knife in MY LAP!!! YIKES!

We had plenty of time to eat, but because of delays caused by the server's lack of grace, I found myself observing what's unfortunately become another Gathering tradition: Kathy and I RACING back from dinner to arrive late to my next scheduled event: in this case the Blue Mug in the packed con suite.

This was perhaps the least Blue Mug we've ever had. And I have to admit I missed spending some quality time in the gutter. Some of the lack of azure is probably directly attributable to the absense of a certain pants-challenged voice actor with the initials TA, but I think frankly a bigger reason was that everyone's curiousity about details of the DVD overwhelmed other topics. We did have a couple of smutty moments though. Christine still thinks she scares me. And she did manage to catch me with a question I hadn't given any thought to, but I'm harder to shock than that. (I know Keith had been looking forward to the Blue Mug, as well. And I'm sure he would have done well in Thom's place, but unfortunately, Keith STILL hadn't arrived. In fact, it had become clear that Keith was going to miss most of Saturday's activities as well.)

At around 2am, Karine used the excuse of my bathroom break to end the session. I headed back down to my room. Ate one of Maui's Godiva Chocolate bars. Called Beth, thanks to the time difference, and then went to bed around 2:30am, which was decidedly early for me.

NEXT UP: THE DAY THAT KEPT ON TICKING...


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THE GATHERING 2004 JOURNAL - Friday, August 6 (Opening Ceremonies)

I typed most of this up yesterday, but then a glitch ate it. So here we go again.

Now one of my LEAST favorite things to do is to recreate a lost document. It's much worse than composing something from scratch. You're always trying to reclaim the "magic" of whatever you wrote on your first pass. And it never quite works. So if the following is magic-free, you know why…

… I came to OPENING CEREMONIES loaded for bear, with 5 Video tapes, 2 Audio tapes and color xeroxes of a Buena Vista Home Entertainment PowerPoint Presentation.

Karine got the ball rolling, welcoming everyone to the con.

Jen got up and awarded the FAN GUEST OF HONOR award to GOREBASH. He can protest all he wants, but the guy deserves this award simply for inspiring the Gorelisa Award. (And, oh yeah, there's also Station 8 the Gargoyle Fiendsite and ASK GREG too.)

Chris Rogers came up to pitch G2005 in Las Vegas, which sounds really, really cool. I loved Laurean's new mascot. I know that there's a traditional naming of the mascot contest, but I loved the name "Blue-Eyes". So if no one wins, I'll be okay with that.

Cindy spoke, and Liz, and then the Ceremonies were hi-jacked by Abram & Maui and the Clan Olympics. The first event was goofy fun to watch. Eventually things settled back down, and shortly it was my turn to speak…

And, boy, did I have a lot to say this year. More than usual.

Carol Wagner had assembled a welcome tape recorded by various members of the show's cast & crew: myself, Keith David, Producer-Director Frank Paur, Board Artist Troy Adomitis, Board Artist Vic Cook, Development Art Director & Producer Bob Kline, Development Art Director Dave Schwartz, Actor Crispin Freeman (a past Gathering Guest) and of course Ed Asner, the wonderful voice of Hudson.

I played my little, "Ladies & Gentlemen, Keith David!" trick. And everyone looked, just as they had in 1997 at the first Gathering. It's cruel, I know. But I'd never do it if I thought that Keith wouldn't eventually show up. Which he did. Although not for another 26 hours or so, unfortunately.

I made a little sales pitch for a few of the con's events. The Blue Mug that night, for example. But especially for the Radio Play. I had need of a huge cast and needed more people (especially females) to audition. On top of that, I was nervous that if I did get a full cast, they would outnumber the audience, so I also made a plea for people to attend the show.

I gave my thanks to Karine and her extremely hard-working staff: Rob, Ian, Shaun, Cindy, Patrick, Jen, Kaylee, Laurean, Liz & Carol. I also thanked a few select people who I know helped out: Kelly, Kathy, Christine, Steph and Alan. I'm sure I fogot a bunch of people then and now, and for that I apologize.

I plugged both G2005 in Vegas again, as well as ASK GREG, Gorebash & Station 8, reminding people ONE MORE TIME to please post Gathering Journals at Ask Greg ASAP after the end of the con. (So, have you?) I also pointed out A Fan's map of attendees at the back of the room.

Then it was time for hand counts. How many Gathering Con Virgins? [A goodly amount.] How many had been to at least two Gatherings? At least Three? Four? Five? Six? Seven? ALL EIGHT? The number of the latter was very gratifying. [I'm forgetting a couple people, but I think they included A Fan, Karine, Noelle, Lanny, myself (if I count) and at least a couple of others.] These are the troops that should really inspire the rest of you.

I then held up the materials that Buena Vista had sent me. Of course, they were probably IMPOSSIBLE to see even from the front of the room. But they included a few remaining postcards promoting the DVD's release from the THOUSANDS that were distributed at the San Diego ComicCon earlier this summer. (I ended up giving these to Patrick to pass out to the hard-working staff.)

Also on hand was Buena Vista's 7-Point PowerPoint Presentation Slide Show, which I've transcribed here [with a few comments]:

1. GARGOYLES

2. "Visually Stunning and Dramatically Stirring, Gargoyles Defines Fantastic."
--Ray Stackhouse, TV Guide

3. A Mythical World
--An Animated Series About Ancient Creatures Who Come to Life at Night to Protect Manhattan from Evil
--10 Year Series Anniversary
--Voiced by Well-Known Talent from the Star Trek Franchise Including:
*Jonathan Frakes
*Michael Dorn
*Brent Spiner [who doesn't actually appear in the first season. whoops.]

4. A Loyal Fan Base
--Gargoyles Was the 23rd Most Requested Disney Title of Q2 '04 [certainly, we can do better than that, right?]
--Chat Rooms and Fan Websites Are Buzzing with News of the Upcoming DVD Release:
"OMG! I can't wait. 10 long years and finally my fave cartoon will be on DVD!" - SportyShorty, IMDB Fan Posting
--Annual "Gathering of the Gargoyles" Convention Attended by Thousands of Fans [If you add 'em all up, sure.]
--Gargoyles Airs Every Night on TOON DISNEY CHANNEL and Saturdays on ABC FAMILY

5. A Product Fans Are Clamoring For
--Two-Disc DVD Set
--Includes All 13 Episodes of the First Season of Gargoyles [uncut, I should add]
--Special 10th Anniversary Edition [as opposed to all those other editions, right?]
--Bonus Features:
*The Gathering of the Gargoyles [original documentary filmed at G2004]
*Original Show Pitch by Greg Weisman - Show Creator [previously available ONLY by attending the Gathering]
*Audio Commentary on Origanl Episodes 1-5 [Originally, I had been hoping for commentary on all 13 episodes. Budget constraints made that impossible, as Buena Vista truly has no idea how well this will sell. (We'll have to show them, won't we?) They came back to me saying they could only afford commentary on two episodes, suggesting either the first two episodes or the first episode and "Deadly Force". I went back to them, protesting that our pilot was five episodes and that it would just be weird not to at least have commentary on the whole thing. They discussed it and agreed. So we wound up with five episodes with commentary instead of two, more than doubling the budget. I then tried to convince them to do "Deadly Force," but they ignored me. Oh, well.]

6. On-Air Synergy Support
--Synergy Support from:
*TOON DISNEY CHANNEL
*ABC FAMILY

7. Pricing and Timing
--Perfectly Timed for Holiday Gift Giving and Gargoyles 10th Anniversary
--U.S.: Two-Disc DVD $29.99 SRP/$19.95 MAP
--CE: Two-Disc DVD $36.99
--NAAD: December 7 [THAT'S RIGHT!!!! THAT'S THE BIGGEST NEWS OF ALL. An official release date: DECEMBER 7th, 2004!!!!!!]

The point I was generally trying to make, is that this is really a make-or-break year for the fandom. The DVD is coming out. And you have yourselves to thank. Particularly those of you who have attended previous Gatherings. Disney took notice, and you're continued support gave me the wherewithal to push them. But now the ball is squarely in your court.

People are always asking me what they can do to get the show back in some way, shape or form. Now the answer is obvious. You want the show back? Prove it!!

Buy the DVD! You want the second season on DVD? Buy the first. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for friends, family and co-workers for Birthdays and Holidays.

More than that, SPREAD THE WORD!!!!! Even if everyone attending G2004 bought ten copies, that would only be a drop in the bucket. We need to reach out to fans who have drifted. To people who don't yet know about the fandom. To people who perhaps haven't even seen the show yet.

Disney has no idea how many units this thing is going to sell. Their downside is fairly protected, but the upside is potentially huge. FAMILY GUY sold so many DVDs that they're making new episodes. FIREFLY, a series that didn't last one season on television (despite its brilliance), sold so many DVDs that they're making a theatrical feature film. We would have to sell a ton of DVDs to match their success. But if we do, the sky's the limit.

You're my missionaries here. So support the fandom. Make ASK GREG a weekly stop… I'm going to try to coordinate efforts to boost DVD sales, so keep posted for news and updates:

www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/

Pre-Register to G2005 (or at the least purchase a fully-upgradable Supporting Membership).

Keep checking

www.gatheringofthegargoyles.com

[It's still the G2004 site for now, but it'll shortly turn over to feature info on G2005.]

Keep in mind that money that comes to the con EARLY is worth more than money that comes late. To afford multiple guests, the con needs funds earlier than later. That's why pre-registering is cheaper. Buy now, save money and the worst thing that happens is that you cannot attend and you've contributed a few bucks to the fandom you love.

[Keep in mind, I earn nothing from Gargoyles or the fandom - other than massive ego boosts. Nothing to sneeze at.]

But don't give up on attending G2005 either. You have a year to save up a Gathering fund. A year to arrange for roommates or pals for a road trip. Flights to Vegas are traditionally inexpensive from most locations. Again, bring in new newbies by showing them the show and addicting them. We want to break all attendance records.

Now, you may think I'm riffing here and have gotten off topic. But in fact, I said all this and more at Opening Ceremonies.

Right about then, I introduced the DVD Vid-Documentary Crew (David, Howard & Thierry). They were there to tape the entire convention. All the primo events. But they were also there to interview the fans about how Gargoyles changed their lives.

Then … finally… I got to what I like to call my own version of the Rocky Horror Gargoyles Show.

I showed the original Gargoyles Pitch Video.
The original Gargoyles Promo Video.
The original Gargoyles Presentation Video (narrated by Jonathan Frakes).
The original pitch for "The New Olympians" spin-off series.
The original pitch for "Gargoyles: The Dark Ages" prequel series.
The animatic/storyboard/leica reel for the "Bad Guys" spin-off.

That was followed by the Audio Tape of the never animated "The Last". This was a cross-over episode between Team Atlantis & Gargoyles featuring the voices of Marina Sirtis, Frank Welker, Sheena Easton, Cree Summer and others. As usual, the grunts of battle had different implications in a vacuum. And given the dirty minds of most of the attending, those implications are fairly self-evident.

And thus ended Opening Ceremonies. But Friday wasn't over. Stay tuned for more…


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ARGGHH

I just typed up half a ramble and it vanished.....


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THE GATHERING 2004 - Friday, August 6 (Part One)

And we're back...

Friday was an eventful day, so I'm breaking it down into two rambles.

I got my wake-up call, lingered for a few minutes, showered and shaved (or trimmed, I should say). Then I went upstairs for my big interview with David Grabias and the DVD guys (Howard the DP and Thierry on sound, I think). David asked me some questions, I'm sure looking for some great short pithy responses that would make nice sound bites for the DVD documentary.

Of course, I have many talents, but being short & pithy ain't one of them. My 45 minute interview lasted an hour and a half. At one point, David sent me back to my room to change shirts so that he could pretend that a little intro I was doing for the original Gargoyles pitch (which will also be on the DVD) was shot on a different day. The thing that interests me is that you'll be seeing me intro the thing at age 40 and then jump back to me at age 30 pitching. I think as an Easter Egg or something they should create a little mini-morph of me aging rapidly.

After that I brought Erin & Benny's art down to Cindy. We took a few minutes to figure out which piece went with which title card. But it was all fairly self-evident.

I saw Zehra at that point, I think. I was really glad she came back this year. Also saw Noelle somewhere in here and Lexy & Marty and others.

Next up was the Voice Acting Seminar. I brought the same old stuff to cover. Stuff I developed doing a Seminar for Telemarketers (waves at Sapphire), a.ka. that time I was truly doing the Devil's Handywork. I've used it for at least a couple years now, but I wasn't afraid of it getting old, because the plan was for Keith and I to do this seminar together. His take on the stuff (his take in general) would provide us with a unique experience. Problem was that Keith hadn't arrived on Thursday night as planned. His movie in Miami was rained out a couple days which caused a delay in his flight for said couple days.

So I'm doing this on my own. Which isn't a problem, per se, except that it's the same old stuff. But there were enough newbies to let me get away with it.

I began by reciting my meager qualifications as stage actor, stage director, voice actor and voice director. Then I broke out the scenes.

We started with the Demona audition side, which Jen read -- way too well. It was frustrating as my schpiel sort of depends on some amount of badness in order to allow me to riff on how to improve. She didn't really provide that. Damn her talent!!

Anyway, Seri got up and read Demona. And she did a good job, but I was able to force her to read the last line over and over in order to make a point about acting choices.

Then we did a few others scenes. The Tea Scene from MIA is one of my favorite acting lessons. The tag from Thrill of the Hunt. And the "Friend" scene from Awakening 1. It was all fun. The DVD crew came in and filmed a bit, which was a running theme throughout the con. It actually made everything feel fresher and more exciting.

I think I have a new reality series to pitch....

Anyway, next up was our first round of auditions. Of course, I had forgotten the audition forms in my room. So I searched for the elevator. BTW, the hotel was great, but the entire weekend I had some kind of weird trouble finding my bearings, i.e. the elevators and/or restrooms. I constantly found myself walking in circles.

Jen and I ran the auditions, like old times. I get to force people to bark like a dog or meow like a cat and when I remember to speak with either English or Scottish dialects. Every year is unpredictable. There have been years when almost no men audition and I have to drag Hudson off the street to play a part. This year, at the Friday audition, we have tons of men and only two women. It's panic time as this particular radio play has an IMMENSE cast of 31 (not counting me). And at minimum (even with some cross-gender casting) I feel I need at least seven women for clarity.

Throughout the day, Keith's flight keeps getting pushed back.

And people keep giving me stuff.

Maui gives me a box of Godiva chocolate bars. Not a box of chocolates, mind you, but a box of chocolate BARS.

Kathy feeds my Buffyverse obssession by giving me a Buffy Companion book.

Tony gives me his Annual Gathering CD. (Which I listened to on the way back from San Diego. It's great.)

Wingless gives me a Banana Splits CD. (Which I listened to on the way to San Diego. It's VERY Cool.)

Michael gives me his Demo CD. (Which I haven't listened to yet, but I will. But Michael, here's my question: I already know you're good. But are you planning a move to L.A.? What good is your CD if you're not here to audition if and when I get something (please God anything) to have you audition for?)

I got four cool con t-shirts and pins (which I had paid for) from the staff, as well as a staff t-shirt from Jen (which I did not pay for).

I got Subway from Alan, which I also paid for, cuz frankly Alan still intimidates me a bit. It must have something to do with how cosey I get with his wife.

I got my con badge and the VERY cool program that Si put together. It includes a picture of me with a pillow over my head. I'm told this is a great picture. I find it interesting that the best picture of me is one where my face is covered.

I got a G2005 Vegas t-shirt from Chris at some point.

I got a UPS package which contained stuff from the Buena Vista Home Entertainment folk for use at the Opening Ceremonies.

And best of all, I got BLACK ROSES from Christine. Which is cool. But cooler still, is the dedication, to me and Salli and I guess all of you. I have never had a book dedicated to me before. I can't tell you what that feels like. It really makes my day on a day that makes my year.

NEXT UP: OPENING CEREMONIES (the never-ending story)


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GATHERING 2004 JOURNAL - Thursday, August 5

Time to journal.

As usual, let me open with a few caveats, apologies, etc.

I'll try to be as complete as possible, but inevitably I may forget a few names or forget to include a few people or events. My apologies. Please don't feel slighted. The con for me is always a great time, but also a whirlwind of people. With few exceptions, I only manage a few minutes with everyone. Sometimes it takes me two or three years to really nail a name to a face. (The fact that many of you have multiple names doesn't help either.)

I'd also like to mention a few of the people I didn't see, people I hope to see next year. Former con-chairs like Jubes and Batya and especially Mae Lee. People who made an impression, like Spike and Vanessa and many, many others. I'd like to ask all of you who did attend and/or all of you who are reading this now to reach out to fans who have wandered. As many of you know (and as Friday's G-Journal will soon make clear) this is really a make-or-break year for the series. We need to re-energize, rejuvenate and REAWAKEN the fandom. Especially those who have drifted away. We need everyone!

Speaking of which, here's ANOTHER reminder to post your GATHERING JOURNALS here at ASK GREG. Cut & Paste. If necessary, enter them a con-day at a time as I'm doing. If you're reading this and you know of people who attended the convention who haven't yet posted their journal, get on their cases. I think we've got about a dozen so far. I appreciate them all, but that's NOT nearly enough. We had 200 people attend the con. If we can't get at least 100 journals here at ASK GREG, I'm going to be VERY disappointed.

Finally, as most of you know, my diaries tend to center around food. Basically, I love to eat, and it's something I really have a talent for. I love great food and horrible junk. And I'm often obssessive about the subject. Strangely, or perhaps not-so, my memories of this adventure do NOT revolve around food. In part, because I didn't get to eat as often as usual. Just not enough time. In part, because I had such a blast just spending time with all of you. Thanks.

ANYWAY, enough preamble. Let's get gathering.

The week before the Gathering had been extremely eventful. Good things and bad things were happening to my family, especially my siblings. For more info on both check out the very well-written websites of Robyn Weisman...
http://barbaricmysticalandbored.blogspot.com/
and/or Jon Weisman...
http://www.all-baseball.com/dodgerthoughts/

Over at my house, things were almost as crazy. We had taken out a loan to paint the exterior of our house. Right after we were financially committed to that endeavor, our upstairs bathroom cracked its shower pan, creating (ultimately) a hole in the ceiling of our entry hall. We have had to totally demolish that bathroom in order to repair it, which caused further damage to our bedroom, living room and powder room. Even our doorbell has stopped working.

Plus, I got a stye in my eye. For a couple of days, it was swollen up, and I thought: "YAY, MY DISFIGUREMENT CAN BE IMMORTALIZED FOREVER ON THE DVD!" Fortunately, it faded by Thursday and was all but gone by Friday.

Also, there was that ladder thing. How many Gargoyles-Creators does it take to screw in a light bulb? I was up on a ladder changing a ceiling bulb. I had the old bulb out and in hand, when the ladder (which is missing three out of four rubber feet) tipped me off. I landed on the hand holding the lightbulb, which <SHATTERED> on the brick floor. Blood and glass everywhere. The wounds, such as they were, turned out to be very superficial once they were cleaned off and the imbedded glass was tweezered out. I was wrapped in gauze for a night and my daughter took to calling me "Daddy Mummy" or "Dummy" for short. Smart kid. Anyway, by the next day, I was down to two band-aids. By Thursday, the puncture wounds were barely noticable.

More seriously, there's Norman, our ten-year-old Bassett Hound. Earlier this year, Norman was stricken with a life-threatening ear infection. We tried multiple courses of anti-biotics (including some human versions). Nothing worked. Finally we had to have his ear canal surgically removed. Then last month, the other ear got infected. It soon became clear that we were going to have to have his remaining ear canal removed, rendering him completely deaf. It was very upsetting to all of us, and I felt horrible that I was going to be out of town during the surgery. Of course, I had made a commitment, and to be honest I really didn't want to miss the Gathering.

And the fact was, I was already planning to miss a portion of it. My daughter's birthday is August 8th, 1994. I wasn't going to miss her tenth birthday, which meant I'd be leaving VERY early on Sunday morning in order to make it home in time for her birthday dinner. That meant that I was going to have to stuff all my G2004 fun into a few short days.

So, Thursday morning I got up at 7am, reminding myself that I couldn't use my own demolished bathroom. I showered in the kids' bathroom, and made my way downstairs. I had been vaguely Atkinsing for the last three weeks and had in fact lost about eleven pounds. But the diet was done for the duration. I had Cereal and banana.

I was picked up at the house at 9:30 am. The trip to the airport was uneventful. Got to LAX and got through all the various lines without incident. Then I bought a loaf of sourdough bread and ATE the entire thing. Also had a Three Musketeers bar and a bottled water. Obviously, I was craving carbs and sugar.

Aboard the plane, I began to read "I DREAMED I MARRIED PERRY MASON" by Susan Kandell. This is a very well-written murder mystery by a friend of ours. The protagonist is Cece Caruso, a biographer who stumbles onto two murders (one old, one new) while researching the life of Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason. I definitely recommend it.

On the plane, I had Tomato Juice and toyed with my meal: beef, biscuits, cole slaw, rice and a roll.

The movie was "Day After Tomorrow" and even though it was free, I couldn't bring myself to watch it. Though I did get curious about how it would end -- about what could possibly be considered a coda for it, so I ear-phoned up for the last ten minutes or so. Uggh.

The flight, like the whole trip, was easy. Customs in Montreal was a long line, but had the advantage of non-stop movement, which at least makes the wait FEEL more palatable.

Patrick, Jen & Rob were waiting for me. I was already in a good mood, but I immediately felt better. Now, the Gathering had really begun for me.

We had a completely uneventful ride to the Delta Centre-Ville (our G2004 Hotel). In the lobby, I saw Carol, Kathy & Kelly. Mandi, I think? Abram. A Fan. I checked in, and hit my room to do a VERY quick unpacking before meeting everyone in the consuite. I saw Becca right away, and asked where her parents were. Christine was standing just behind me and gave me a big hug.

The constaff had planned in advance to go to dinner as soon as I got in. There was some miscommunication, which I really regret, as some non-staffers were waiting to join us and the restaurant we were heading toward couldn't accomodate us all. Sad irony, we didn't even end up at that restaurant (as its kitchen was closed) and the place we did eat at had plenty of room. In the future, I'm gonna make an effort to be more inclusive at these things.

Not to rub it in, but those of us who did attend: Lanny, Derek, Michael, Karine, Cindy, Rob, Jen, Alan, Kaylee, Shawn, Patrick, Laurean, Liz, Carol and I had a great meal. We had taken a long walk to get to the crepe place that Karine wanted us all to enjoy. The weather was lovely but just a tad cool for a guy from California in a t-shirt. If I had just brought my sweatshirt along, it wouldn't have been a problem, but I was shivering by the time we sat down in our second-choice restaurant.

Which was great, by the way. Lobster Bisque, Fettucine Alfredo, Bread, bruschetta, a mussel and coke.

And great company. I enjoyed the walk back a bit more, even though I was still freezing. Karine offered to lend me her sweatshirt, but I'm still enough of a gentleman (just barely) to refrain from taking a pregnant woman's wrap.

Back at the hotel, I ran into Lynati, Mara, GXB, Alex, Eric, Hudson, Ethan, Maui, Kyt, Chris & Aaron. I hung out in the lobby with a few of them for a bit. But it was getting late, and I wanted to call Beth and the kids and talk to them before they went to bed.

So I headed up to my room. Called home. Then tried to sleep. Wound up watching TV until at least 3 or 4am, though that was only midnight or one my time. Then I finally went to sleep.

TO BE CONTINUED...


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A Plea and/or Reminder

I'm back in Los Angeles after an amazing trip to Montreal and a fun family half-week in San Diego.

My own Gathering Journal will be forthcoming in installments, as usual.

But in the meantime, I'd like to remind everyone who attended G2004 to please, PLEASE, take a few minutes and write up your experiences in as much detail as possible.

Were you on staff? Were you a dealer? Were you there for the whole weekend or just for a few hours? Whatever your situation, please write up a Gathering Journal and post it HERE at ASK GREG. It's great if you have your own website or livejournal and want to post it there or even in the S8 Comment Room, but please CUT & PASTE your journals and put them here as well. No links please. Cut & Paste.

For those of you who've already done this, thanks. For those of you who started but didn't quite make it through the weekend, please don't run out of steam. For those of you who haven't started, START. Trust me, your memory isn't going to improve with time.

We had about 200 people at the Gathering. I'm hoping to get at least 100 diaries/journals here at ASK GREG. AT LEAST. (Frankly, I'd be thrilled with 100% journaling.) Getting them all here allows me to direct the Disney/Buena Vista powers-that-be to this site as a single clearing house.

Guys, this is important. Prove that you are going to do what it takes in the coming year to support the show by taking this simple first step.

It will be very much appreciated at this end.


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GATHERING 2004

Okay, gang,

I'm going to be off-line for a while.

I leave early tomorrow morning (8-5-04) for Montreal and the Eighth Annual Gathering of the Gargoyles.

I come home on the 8th, but then the family is immediately going to San Diego for some SeaWorld/Legoland action.

So I won't be back at ASK GREG for over a week.

But when I come back, you can look forward (I would hope) to my ramblings about the Gathering.

PLEASE, PLEASE post your own Gathering Journals, Gathering Diaries, etc. as well.

Seriously, I'm using this as a tool with Disney. We have about 200 people attending the Gathering this year. I'd like to see at least 100 Gathering Diaries posted here at ASK GREG.

Thanks.

P.S. Remember, if you see me at the Gathering, don't hesitate to come up to me and say hello. Don't be shy. Please introduce or re-introduce yourselves. I know many, many of you, but I'm traditionally not great with names. Sometimes it takes me a couple gatherings to remember. For that I apologize, but please don't take offense. I really do want to meet all of you. See you soon.

Greg


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some REAL rambling...

Okay, this is not GREG SPEAKING FROM THE MOUNT...

This is just me thinking aloud. (Well, not really aloud. I'm sitting here typing.) I don't even know if I like these ideas. They're definitely not canon.

But the following notions occured to me today...

Gargoyles don't seem to have a native language. They acquire human language ... perhaps much the same way that they acquire names. Naming is clearly addictive. And language, in many ways, is just sophisticated naming.

Clearly gargoyles are just as intelligent as humans. Before humans developed tools, Gargoyles were at the top of the food chain. They may not have created/invented as much "stuff" as humans have, but they also had way fewer needs. Necessity being the mother of invention, they had less motivation for inventing sophisticated shelter, clothes, tools, etc. But that in and of itself isn't a comment on their brain-power.

So why no need for language and names?

When it comes to naming, gargoyles clearly felt that names were superfluous if not somewhat limiting, if not downright harmful to the spirit. Humans must define things. Gargoyles know that things just are.

We are friends. What other name do we require, etc.

It fits in with their animistic/monotheistic view of a higher power. A higher power that requires no name.

Does beg a question, though if you go back far enough.

Does the sky need a name? Does the river?

Elisa responds: "The river's called the Hudson."

But she could have responded: "The river's called a river."

Did the gargoyles have a language that they ABANDONED in favor of human words -- even if those human words were Atlantean (like the term "Gorlois", the true Atlantean etimology for "GARGOYLE")?

Or perhaps...

Gargoyles are so attuned to the earth. They have biological clocks that match the seasons. They have relationships that require no names, until those names have been imposed.

Is it possible, that gargoyles once... long ago... had mild psychic abilities that left them with no need to create language? It wasn't words that they intuited (or transmitted or read or whatever) but emotions, maybe images or sensations.

Maybe it was tied to magic. Not that Gargoyles are magical creatures, but if magic was free-flowing before the Will-O-The-Whisps evolved into the Children of Mab (or whomever) and somewhat confiscated that power for their own, perhaps that magic was just part of the Earth that gargoyles were so attuned to, and allowed for some psychic congress.

Or perhaps, it is a biological ability -- based on biio-elecricity and brainwaves -- that has faded with disuse. Perhaps the very language skills that Gargoyles learned from the human race dampened their psychic intuitiveness, much as Fox's natural magical abilities were stunted by her human upbringing.

Either way, it suggests that this ability could be latent.

I'm NOT saying that the gargs we know are psychic. They've all been fooled enough, even by the INTENSELY emotional Demona (who would theoretically be broadcasting as well as receiving) to bely that notion.

But I wonder if this isn't an interesting area of speculation.

If you see me at the Gathering THIS WEEKEND, it's a topic I'd be interested in discussing.


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REBORN!!

As I'm sure many of you have noticed, Gorebash has rebooted ASK GREG in a major way. It's still a work in progress, so feel free (politely) to offer your input to Gore.

But don't forget to thank him as well for his hard, hard work.

Thanks, Gore! It's very much appreciated.

Gregs


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Buffy Season Two Character Countdown

As noted yesterday, I'm as big a geek -- if not bigger -- than anyone in the room.

So now, for no particular reason, I've put together a countdown of the GREATEST BUFFYVERSE characters from Seasons One & Two.

I thought about doing Season Two separately, as if it stood alone, but that felt artificial. (Like the rest of this feels natural? Yeah, right.) Think of the Buffyverse as an eight year horse race. You're not sure which nag is going to go the distance... But cumulatively, you begin to discover things.

So here's the top 30 characters of the Buffyverse for Seasons One & Two combined. In reverse order...

#30 - The Judge. Medieval demon raised by Spike & Dru to burn the humanity out of, well, humans. Killed by a rocket launcher. (Previous Rank: Did not appear in first season.)

#29 - Mr. Norman Pfister, a.k.a. Worm Guy. One of the assassins hired by Spike to kill Buffy. Could transform his whole body into worms. Stomped by Xander & Cordy. (Previous Rank: Did not appear in first season.)

#28 - Dalton. A relatively brainy vampire flunky, who appeared in a couple of episodes working for Spike & Dru. Burned by the Judge. (Previous Rank: Did not appear in first season.)

#27 - Luke. Still a fairly memorable first opponent for Buffy even a year later. (PR: #14. Okay, he's memorable, but not that memorable, falling 13 rankings with no where to go but down.)

#26 - Harmony Kendall - Made another humorous appearance. (PR: Honorable Mention.)

#25 - Hank Summers. Still, if barely, a part of his daughter's life. (PR: Honorable Mention.)

#24 - Willy. The weasley guy who runs the demon-bar hangout and plays both sides of the fence. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#23 - Amy. Back as a full-fledged witch. (PR: Honorable Mention.)

#22 - Ethan Rayne. Giles old chaos-worshipping "friend". (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#21 - Uncle Enyos, a.k.a. Gypsy Man. Jenny Calendar's vengeance-seeking Gypsy uncle. Killed by Angel. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#20 - Jesse. (PR: #13. Drops seven rankings, and counting, as he's been totally forgotten.)

#19 - Jonathan (variously spelled Johnathan and Jonathon, a.k.a. Student and/or Hostage Kid and/or Freshman (which he later turns out not to be, unless he skips a couple grades by the time Buffy graduates). Jonathan with something like 6 appearances but VERY little screen time in each really makes an adorable impression, thus it's not surprising that he winds up playing an increasingly larger role with every year. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#18 - Whistler. The demon, played by the always interesting Max Perlich, who helped redeem Angel from the gutter. This guy interested me a LOT, but never (as I recall) returned. I always wondered if Doyle was a reworking of Whistler when they couldn't get Perlich to be a regular on Angel. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#17 - Kendra the Vampire Slayer. Came and went. But before you know how interesting Faith can be, she was very cool. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#16 - Principal Bob Flutie. (PR: #9. Drops 7 places and being still dead, likely to keep heading south.)

#15 - Darla. Appears in a wonderful flashback, where she sires Angel. (PR: #11. Only drops 4 ranks, and is likely to make a comeback, because death plays much more fast and loose with Darla than with Principal Flutie.)

#14 - The Annointed One. Spike just overwhelmed this guy (and then flambéd him). I suppose it was also a liability to have an eternally youthful child in an ongoing series. It won't take long before a growth spurt changes the kids looks significantly. (PR: #10. Another four rank drop and falling.)

#13 - The Master. Influence still being felt... (PR: #8. Down five rankings.)

#12 - Oz. Becomes Willow's guy after a slow burn. And gets to be a Werewolf to boot. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#11 - Jenny Calender, a.k.a. Janna the Gypsy spy. Becomes SO important that Angel has to snap her neck, breaking Giles heart -- and falling into a Buffy/Angel trap that is common to most TV dramas (except Gargoyles) which states that no relationship really has long term potential. (PR: #15. Actually moves up 4 rankings, while most are moving down.)

#10 - Principal Snyder. (PR: #12. Also moving up a bit.)

#9 - Spike, a.k.a. William the Bloody. Enters the list in the top ten.

#8 - Drusilla. This surprised me a bit. Would not have guessed that Dru would beat out Spike. But in their first season, she's actually a tad more important. His villainy culminates in hers. (Of course, both are overshadowed by Angelus) (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#7 - Joyce Summers. (PR: #7. Holding her spot.)

#6 - Angel, a.k.a. Angelus. Really starts to come into his own here, but missed a couple episodes and Cordy had a headstart from season one. (PR: #6)

#5 - Cordelia Chase. And Cordy also begins to truly come into her own in this season. Evolving out of her funny but one-note stereotype from Season One and beginning a relationship with Xander that I was sorry never got to be played again in Angel (even historically). (PR: #5)

#4 - Willow Rosenberg. Xander's headstart kept him ahead in a season where they had a much more neck-and-neck pointscore. (PR: #4)

#3 - Xander Harris. (PR: #3)

#2 - Rupert Giles. Still a bit surprised how he continues to rank above X&W. (PR: #2)

#1 - Buffy Summers. (PR: #1)

Honorable mention goes to the following (for making one or two memorable appearances):

Catherine . Okay, normally, I'm not going to honorably mention someone in consecutive seasons, but that great scene where Oz is watching the Cheerleading trophy follow him with his eyes, is priceless continuity.

Absalom. Vampire working for the Annointed One trying to raise the Master. The last champion of the Season One storyline. Buffy burns him.

Nurse Greenliegh. Eaten by fishboys. Probably gets extra juice because I like actress Conchatta Ferrell in just about anything.

Ted Buchanon - Psycho Robot Serial Killer. Lots of evil fun. Trashed by Buffy.

Devon - Dopey lead singer of Oz's band.

Inca Mummy Girl, a.k.a. Empada. Poor kid. She just fell apart on us.

Larry. School bully who turns out to be a sensitive gay guy.

Lyle Gorch - Cowboy vampire, barely smarter than his brother.

Chanterelle - Goofy vampire wannabe.

Detective Bob & Detective Stein - Each appeared twice. Bob was Snyder's cop. The one who helped Snyder cover up the macabre doings at the school. Stein was Buffy's vague nemesis. The one who questioned her about Ted's "death" and suspected her of Kendra's. Both are interesting and feel more important than they wind up being.

The Mayor. Doesn't appear at all. But Snyder's both scared of him and desperate to impress him.

And that's it. But Season Three just came in the mail today. It'll obviously take me some time to watch it. But eventually, I'll be continuing this pointless exercise...

Aren't you glad?


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Buffy Season One Character Countdown...

Yes, that's right, I'm as big a geek -- if not bigger -- than anyone in the room.

I bought the 1st and 2nd Seasons of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER on DVD. And I've been watching the episodes. Or studying them actually.

So now, for no particular reason, I've put together a countdown of the GREATEST BUFFYVERSE characters from Season One.

(WHY, you ask? Because it amuses me and appeals to my geeky mind. <Yeesh, what a dopey question.>)

Now, this is a truly subjective (if not pointless) exercise that I've tried to reduce to an objective task. I've awarded points per episode to each character based on a number of criteria. Then I totalled up the points for each character for the season. In case of a tie, I made a subjective call.

I tried NOT to make the point totals reflect what happened with characters in subsequent seasons. This is a countdown reflecting Season One only. Though I won't deny the fact that if a character reappeared later in the series, it probably meant that said character was memorable to the creators (and the viewers) in his or her original appearance(s). So I allowed some bias to filter in. But I tried to be strong.

Most of the results aren't particularly shocking, but a few things surprised me a bit.

Originally, I was just doing this for myself. But I figured, what the heck, might as well share my obssessive behaviour with you poor victims.

So here's the top 15 characters of the Buffyverse for Season One in reverse order...

#15 - Jenny Calender. In season one, she's merely the computer teacher/techno-pagan. But she already seems to have some interest in Giles.

#14 - Luke. The vampire who was the surrogate for the Master's "Harvest" during the 2-part pilot. An impressive first foe, who'd be topped many times over. But he set the bar well. He received the same point total as Jenny, and long-term she's MUCH more important, but in the first season, I think Luke's role was much more crucial.

#13 - Jesse. Jesse was Xander's best friend, who became a vampire in the pilot and was accidentally staked. Jesse would have been more important if anyone had EVER mentioned him again -- even in episode three. It strikes me as a very un-Joss like thing that Jesse completely faded from memory... INSTANTLY.

#12 - Principal Snyder. The new and harsh replacement principal makes an immediate impression.

#11 - Darla. The vampire who served the Master and was revealed as Angel's sire. Jealous, vulnerable, greedy and sweet all rolled into one. She was staked in her third appearance, but it's not surprising she came back both in flashbacks and in ANGEL.

#10 - The Annointed One. Also known as Colin and/or the Boy. This guy was built up to be VERY important in Season One, though he wound up not being important at all.

#9 - Principal Bob Flutie. The conflicted original principal of Sunnydale High. For obvious reasons, adjusted to be MOST sympathetic just before he was eaten by the quartet of Hyena-Avatars.

#8 - The Master. The main recurring villain for Season One. Staked at the end of the season, though his influence would continue into Season Two and beyond. (FYI, one of the DVD extras revealed that his real name was Heinrich Joseph Nest.)

#7 - Joyce Summers. Buffy's mom.

#6 - Angel. Made a pretty big impression in relatively few appearances. Obviously.

#5 - Cordelia Chase.

#4 - Willow Rosenberg.

#3 - Xander Harris. This surprised me. I would have thought that Willow and Xander would have been neck and neck -- impossible to declare as anything but a tie. But at least in Season One, Xander really got more screen time and a much bigger overall role in the series.

#2 - Rupert Giles. This surprised me a bit too, as I would have guessed that Xander & Willow would have both scored ahead of Giles. But nope. Not when you break it down.

#1 - Buffy Summers. Duh.

Honorable mention goes to the following (for making one or two memorable appearances):

Catherine & Amy, mother & daughter witches. Amy obviously will become more important, but Catherine's end, forever imprisoned in the cheerleading trophy, was too cool.

Dr. Gregory. Buffy's biology teacher. Made two appearances before being killed by the She-Mantis. Was the only teacher who believed in Buffy.

The She-Mantis. A fun villain.

Harmony Kendall. Only made two brief appearances, but she stood out enough as one of Cordelia's "Cordettes" that she would wind up being brought back again and again. A certain comic timing, probably.

Hank Summers. Buffy's dad.

Joy. The Senior Cheerleader.

Sid. The human trapped in the body of a ventriloquist's dummy.

That's it. I'll have Season Two shortly. I bet you can't wait.


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Announcement for August...

Hey gang,

Just wanted to let everyone know that Gorebash, Todd & I will be re-opening the Question Submission function for the month of August 2004.

Gore is working on revising the whole site. We're not 100% sure that the new version will be ready by then, but either way, you'll be able to submit questions and rambles from August 1st to August 31st.

I'm going to ask (and pray) that people NOT post frivolously. I'm still over two years behind on answering questions. Try and do your homework just a bit before posting a question. Check the Archives or at least the FAQ. Heck, it wouldn't hurt to pre-post your question at the Station 8 Comment Room. Give your fellow fans a chance to direct you to the answer, before you post it for me. Keep in mind that it will take me a LONG time to get to your questions, so if you can get them answered another way, it'll be MUCH FASTER for all concerned.

But with that caveat in mind, I'm very pleased to be reopening the site to you, if only for one month. In particular, I'm anxious to get as many GATHERING 2004 DIARIES as possible. Seriously, we have close to 200 people attending this year, and my goal is to get at least 100 diaries posted at ASK GREG as an historical record. So please, that's one kind of post that I'm really looking forward to. So don't hesitate.

Thanks,

Greg


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What else can I do?

"Sure," you say, "I'd love to come to the Gathering, but..."

There are always reasons, I suppose. Some good, some not so good, some very good.

I'd still like you to come. Even now. With less than a month left, I'd like to see you make the effort and show. It's a great year for it, what with the Disney folks there shooting footage for the DVD. Heck, don't we want them to see how strong our fanbase is?

The Gatherings have been the lifeblood of this fandom. Why are we getting DVDs this year. Because of the annual Gathering. Just that simple.

And, yes, I am talking to you. And you in the back there too, trying to sneak out.

But let's say you just CAN'T make it this year. This happened. Or that happened. You just can't. You ask me to understand, by saying, "What else can I do?"

Here are a few things...

1. Buy a supporting membership. It's much less expensive than a trip to Montreal. It helps support the convention. And you're entered for a free t-shirt.

2. Heck, just ORDER THE T-SHIRT. It's also much less expensive than the trip. And you get a T-shirt.

3. Order a pin or the Phoenix Gate Anthology.

4. At least go to the website and check these things out:

http://www.gatheringofthegargoyles.com/

5. Start planning now to attend G2005 in Las Vegas. Start saving. Show your true support for the series and the fandom.

Thanks.


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SPIDER-MAN 2 - SPOILERS

Took the kids to see Spider-Man 2 yesterday.

SPOILER WARNING

The murder of all those doctors seemed gratuitous to me. Trashing them, sure, but why did the arms (particularly at this early stage) feel the need to kill. I know, I know, self-defense. But in a movie like this, where otherwise I thought it was more-or-less okay to bring my kids, I thought it was really unnecessary.

The death of Otto's wife didn't bother me. Except that it became gratuitous as nothing at all was done with it. Her entire character became gratuitous. And I like Donna Murphy.

I've already talked about my whole Kirsten Dunst would make the perfect Gwen Stacy but is unconvincing as Mary Jane Watson thing. Nothing in this movie convinced me otherwise, despite the "Go get 'em, Tiger" line at the end. I guess you just have to get used to the idea that they've combined these two characters into one and chosen MJ's name.

Peter's objection to dating MJ, because it could put her at risk seems a little preposterous given how much risk she's been put in over these two movies even though they haven't been dating. I don't mind this, I just wish that someone, specifically MJ in their last scene together would have pointed that out.

The theme of this movie is "LET'S REVEAL MY SECRET IDENTITY TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE". At the end of the previous film, it was beyond clear that MJ had figured out that Peter was Spider-Man. This is somewhat successfully slid by in this film. But by the end of the second film, the list of people who have seen Spidey's face is nearly endless:

MJ
Doc Ock
Harry
The New Green Goblin
About thirty-seven people on the train

and let's face it, even Aunt May seemed to be strongly implying that she had figured it out.

A little bothered by the way some of Peter's late-arrivals were staged.

Did he really lose THAT much time delivering Pizza.

But more importantly, it seems clear that being Spider-Man aside, he just flat out didn't leave enough time to get to MJ's show in the first place. Face it, he lost his mo-ped but arrived in the bad-guys car. And it took less than a minute to capture them. And he was still late. This bugged me because he was blaming Spidey for screwing up his life, when clearly if he had left for the play in a timely fashion, he would have arrived on time (and missed the crime completely).

I didn't quite know what to make of the whole thing with the landlord's daughter. Kept expecting her to see Peter with MJ in the last scene and turn into a super-villain or something. She was sweet. Didn't catch the character's name, though it's a very similar character to the character that same actress plays on Joan of Arcadia.

Everyone seems wowed by Molina's performance and by Doc Ock, especially as compared to the last film's Green Goblin. I have no objections to either Molina or Doc, but I don't get the raves. Green Goblin's motivations made a lot more sense to me than Ock's. Sure the arm effects were cool. But the whole AI thing effecting his brain seemed forced. And frankly, a bit unnecessary.

From all of the above, I'm sure it must seem like I didn't like the movie. But in fact I did. I even liked how nearly everybody now knows Parker's secret. How did it help any of those people to not know?


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Gwen vs. Mary-Jane

Okay, I haven't seen the second Spider-Man movie yet, so this is mostly based on the first (and commercials for the second).

But am I the only guy out here who thinks Kirsten Dunst is a perfect Gwen Stacy?

I think she's wonderful in the first film. Bu I mean, aside from the hair color (which, from other movies, we know is artificial), her persona is totally Gwen. Yeah, yeah, she's an actress, but she's got nothing of that John Romita tigress that is Mary-Jane Watson.

She's Gwen Stacy.

Right?


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BIG NEWS ON THE DVD FRONT

HEY GUYS...

BIG NEWS. SO BIG I'M LOCKING DOWN MY CAPS.

AS MANY OF YOU KNOW, THE FIRST SEASON OF GARGOYLES IS BEING RELEASED THIS YEAR ON DVD TO COINCIDE WITH THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SERIES.

I'VE JUST BEEN INFORMED THAT DISNEY IS SENDING A VIDEO CREW TO THE GATHERING OF THE GARGOYLES, OUR ANNUAL CONVENTION, TO TAPE THE FANS, GUESTS, EVENTS, ETC. FOR THE EXTRAS SECTION OF THE DVD.

THAT MEANS IF YOU ATTEND THE CONVENTION THIS AUGUST 6-8 IN MONTREAL, YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO ACTUALLY BE ON THE DVD. LET THAT SINK IN FOR A SECOND.

IF YOU'RE ALREADY SIGNED UP, GREAT. BUT IF NOT -- WELL -- WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!!!!

CHECK OUT THE CON'S WEBSITE AT:

http://www.gatheringofthegargoyles.com/

DON'T MISS THIS GATHERING!!!!!!!!


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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SECOND & THIRD BASE?

The following RANT is somewhat ADULT. You've been warned.

There are two prime time television series that I'm fond of that I'm annoyed with for a very specific reason.

One is GILMORE GIRLS. The other is JOAN OF ARCADIA.

Last week, on Joan of Arcadia, 16-year-old Joan nearly decided to lose her virginity with Adam.

Last week on on Gilmore Girls, 19-year-old Rory lost her virginity with Dean.

In both cases, it's not the losing or not losing that bothers me.

It's just that in both cases, we've more or less been witness to these girls sexual awakening. And I've never gotten any indication that either girl has done anything beyond kissing, that neither guy has ever gotten past what we used to call first base.

One of my biggest pet peeves about television is that second & third base (including anything and everything in between kissing and sexual intercourse) do not exist. Oral sex? Doesn't exist. Touching and/or nudity without intercourse? Doesn't exist.

I don't need to see it. (Not that I'd object, but this isn't about me being a pervert for once.) But I would think that two shows as smartly-written as Gilmore & Joan should be able to find a way to suggest that such "intermediate steps" DO exist. I mean if they can talk about full-on intercourse, why can't they talk about things that are safer, younger, more exploratory, with FEWER consequences.

I feel it's TERRIBLY irresponsible to teach kids and teens that there's no way to express themselves sexually, once they've gotten past a kiss, except by going all the way. By hitting home runs, by scoring, so to speak.

Look, when I was a teen, there was a LONG, LONG gap between my first kiss and my first time engaging in sexual intercourse. There was a pretty substantial gap between my first kiss with the girl that I would end up losing my virginity to and the actual act of losing said virginity. In fact, in every relationship I ever had, up to and including my wife, kissing was a prelude to touching, etc., which was in turn a prelude to "making love"... assuming the relationship lasted that long.

The frustrating truth is that I really like both Gilmore Girls and Joan of Arcadia. I even really liked the episodes that are currently annoying me. But I'm still waiting for someone to brave the taboo and bring back second and third base.

PROPS TO "THE WONDER YEARS" for the only example of Second Base on a Prime Time series that I recall. But what was that -- ten years ago? Has there been no progress since?


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A Farewell to Joss...

Let me get this out of the way first:

I love the television work of Joss Whedon.

Love Buffy.

Love Angel.

Love Firefly. (I'm very much looking forward to Serenity too.)

I am stunned that after eight years (thirteen seasons worth of television) that I won't be able to get new episodes of a Joss Whedon series next year.

Yes, they claim they'll bring back Buffy or Angel or both in t.v. movies. But frankly, I don't want to get my hopes up too high.

This season of Angel was brilliant in episode after episode. The insane Slayer. The Angel muppet. The return of Cordelia. The return of Conner.

And last night's finale... was stunning.

---SPOILERS---

The really smart thing was what they left out -- ironically, mostly action. I mean face it, do we really need to SEE Gunn take out six vamps? Do we really need to see Illyria take out four demons in a car? Do we really need to see Spike take on a cult? (Well, actually it might have been fun to get a little more of this -- what with his Lone Wolf & Cub dilemma of fighting while holding a baby.)

Harmony was a bit weak, i.e. I don't mind that she betrayed Angel or that Angel knew she would, but how did she know anything to betray him with. And I've never understood the transition between the Lyndsey who left L.A. at the end of season two and the Lyndsey who came back midway through season five. Why was he suddenly Angel's enemy again? It was cool that Lorne shot him, but I have to admit I wasn't sure if it was justified. Didn't he deserve a chance at redemption? And what was the deal with Eve at the end?

But that's quibbling.

Wesley had a decent death. And an even better end. The Illyria stuff was all great.

And of course, the final final ending, with the four warriors against the horde and Angel's last line, "Personally, I'd like to
slay a dragon." was just brilliant.

This was, in my opinion, much superior to the Buffy series finale. Both had the problem of only having one hour to stuff a ton of content in. But again, Angel was much smarter about what it LEFT OUT. Buffy's finale just seemed VERY rushed to me. Anya's death barely registered, even with Xander. And did the First get any comeuppance at all?

And sure, I'll admit that the last couple seasons of Buffy suffered from a real one-step-forward-two-steps-back-then-the-SAME-step-forward syndrome.

But all these negatives are quibbling based largely on the superior quality of Joss' series in general.

How did this happen? (Not the great work. But the absense of it next year.)

Just a couple years ago, I was in Whedon heaven. Buffy. Angel. Firefly. And any minute the Buffy Animated Series (which I was SO dying to work on, but couldn't even get my foot in the door) and Ripper. How did five series (four set in the Buffyverse) drop down to zero in just 18 months?

Yes, thank god for Serenity, which is in production.

But whether he likes the grind or not, Joss was born for Series TV not one-shot movies.

I'm really going to miss him.

Guess it's time to buy the DVDs.


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Congratulations, Monique!

Went to a wedding today.

My good friend Monique Beatty married Tim Eldred.

Monique, as some of you may know, was my assistant and a script coordinator during the Gargoyles years. She was literally invaluable to me then, keeping my schedule (known then as "Greg's Nefarious Plan to Take Over the World") and keeping me on track. Among other things, she offered tremendous moral support. She's now a Line Producer at Nick. Tim is a story board and comic book artist.

They are both, great, great people. And I am so happy for them.

It was also nice to see Deirdra, Shan and Kevin at the wedding.


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Jumping sharks...

My brother e-mailed me this link:

http://www.jumptheshark.com/g/gargoyles.htm

so I decided to check it out for myself. Might do a couple rambles on the commentary there, but today let's just look at the vote tally as to when people think the series "Jumped the Shark" (i.e. started to suck)...

Network Switch (SYN to ABC) - 8 votes
Never Jumped - 7
The third season - 3
The Goliath Chronicles - 2
They found the Island of Gargoyles - 1
Time Slot (They moved it to the morning) - 1
Xanatos repents - 1
Gargoyle of the Week - 1
Thailog - 1

Of course, four of those categories are really one and the same. The "Network Switch (SYN to ABC)" and "Time Slot (They moved it to the morning)" was for "The third season", which was subtitled "The Goliath Chronicles". So if you add up those votes, you get a whopping (if any number out of 25 can be called whopping) 14 out of 25 votes for TGC as our shark jumping moment. Since I have to agree and since another 7 voters (bringing the total up to 21 out of 25) think that the show didn't jump at all, I'm feeling pretty good right about now.

So let me obssess about the remaining four votes.

I'll try to take them in chronological order...

One person thought we jumped the shark by introducing Thailog. I don't know what to say, except that I disagree. I think Thailog was a pretty cool addition to the series. A great villain and a complex character. I'd tend to think that the fanbase would agree.

(I know that at this time the submit function here at ASK GREG has been suspended, but I invite folks at the Station 8 Gargoyles comment room at:

http://s8.org/gargoyles/comment.php

to entertain this topic.)

Another viewer thought we jumped the shark when "They found the Island of Gargoyles", (i.e. Avalon, I assume). Hard to figure exactly what the person didn't like about this. Don't know if it's Avalon itself that bothered the viewer or the addition of more gargs, or Angela or the World Tour that followed. Maybe it got too fantasy. But again, I have no regrets on this score.

Our third rogue shark-sighter cites "Gargoyle of the Week" as our problem. I can only guess that this refers to the World Tour. Of course, we certainly never intro'd anything close to a gargoyle a week. We intro'd four new clans (Avalon, London, Ishimura & Mayan) over twenty-three episodes (which initially aired over something like a six month period). But maybe Gargoyle-A-Month is a more accurate criticism. Did we make a mistake saying that our sextet (plus Demona) weren't the only survivors of the gargoyle race? Maybe. It does remove some drama. But I liked adding hope into the equation for the gargoyle race. And I definitely liked how the World Tour (and not just the new clans, but especially the new clans) widened the scope of our tapestry/series. But many have disagreed.

Finally, our last shark-sighter cites "Xanatos repents". But I'm not sure that Xanatos ever really repented. He called a truce certainly, but not until the fourth to last scene of the last episode of the 2nd season. And I don't think anyone really thinks that we jumped the shark during "Hunter's Moon". So I'm going to be generous to myself and assume that it was how X was handled during TGC that this guy was voting for. (That may include my episode "The Journey", but I'll have to live with that and the notion that if people had been able to see where _I_ would have taken David in subsequent episodes, they might be less inclined to even think he repented, let alone that it caused the series to jump.)

Well, that was fun. I'll try to tackle the commentary tomorrow...


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Gary Sperling remembered...

I wrote this whole thing up yesterday, before I realized that the server (or whatever) was down... So I'll try to recreate it now. I hate recreating things that I write. You can take for granted it was much better written yesterday. *Anyway, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.*

So...

On Sunday, I went to the unveiling of Gary Sperling's grave marker. It's nearly impossible for me to believe that he's been gone an entire year.

The day, the weather, was very reminiscent of the day of his funeral, i.e. hot, hot, hot. Gary's family seems to be doing well, to have found some equilibrium. They miss him, but it's also clear that he is an ongoing and wonderful presence in their lives.

I still catch myself, have to remind myself that he's gone.

Spent some time with some old Disney buddies. We talked about Gary. Talked about Disney (then & now). It was really kind of great. But many of them I hadn't seen since his funeral, and it's a bit appalling that we haven't gotten together for a year, and that the only thing that brings us in contact is another bittersweet occasion.

I ask myself what I've done with this year. What Gary might have done with another year. I don't really feel like I've achieved much, have much to show for being on this planet for twelve months longer than my friend. Except for this: I got to spend that time with my kids. Not that I'm that spectacular a father, but I think my mere presence (fairly active presence) in their lives has to be a good thing. I'm guessing if Gary ever envied me anything (cuz that wasn't his nature at all), he'd envy me that. It's damn hard not to conclude therefore that I am one lucky sonovabitch.

And that conclusion, I think, is worth the price of admission right there. Another thing to thank Gary for, I guess.

Thanks.


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A recommendation...

FIREFLY THE SERIES ON DVD

I watched it over the last week, and it's so great. Most of you know, I'm a big Joss Whedon fan anyway. But seeing all 15 hours of Firefly in order was just great.

I despair for television when a series like that doesn't find an audience. It's easy to blame Fox for the haphazard way they aired the eps. No surprise, the series is MUCH stronger aired in order. But I watched it when it was on (missing only one episode) and even out of order, the series was so amazingly great.

Where was the audience?

The good news is that Joss is making "Serenity", a movie that picks up 6 months after the last episode of Firefly with all of the original cast.

I don't know how they justify making this movie, if they couldn't justify giving the series a chance, but I'm not complaining.

Still, I wonder: WHERE WAS THE AUDIENCE?


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Star Sighting &tc...

I just saw wecently wed Wesley & Willow walking arm-in-arm down Wittle Santa Monica Blvd. It was pretty cute...

Have I mentioned this before?:

I think one (though certainly not the only) visceral appeals of the E-Street Band is its archetypal relationship to Robin Hood & his Merry Men.

Bruce Springsteen = Robin Hood (complete with a "rob-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor" mentality)
Miami Steve Van Zandt = Will Scarlett
Max Weinberg = Friar Tuck
Patti Scialfa = Maid Marion

and of course

The Big Man, Clarence Clemons = Little John

I'm not sure which of the following is Alan a Dale...

Garry Tallent, Roy Bittan, Danny Federici or Nils Lofgren.

(The truth is Bruce/Robin is his own Alan, I guess.)

When it comes down to it, I don't know the names of enough Merry Men to make every parallel work. But I'm sure you can see the connections.

Discuss.


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Spalding & Paul

We lost two greats yesterday.

Actually, we lost Spalding Gray over a month ago, we just hadn't confirmed the loss until yesterday.

I was (and continue to be) a huge Spalding Gray fan. His acting was decent, fun. But his monologues were always brilliant. I remember once laughing so hard at "Gray's Anatomy" during the Indian Sweatlodge riff that I thought I was going to die of asphyxiation. Everyone should rent his seminal "Swimming to Cambodia". Everyone. Then move on to "Monster in a Box" or some of his other great filmed monologues. They're amazing. But nothing like seeing him live. He will be missed.

As will Paul Winfield, a truly amazing actor. I met him twice when he came in to perform the roll of blind novelist "Jeffrey MacClain Robbins" on GARGOYLES. It was a joy to watch Paul and Ed Asner play off each other. Winfield brought tremendous dignity and humanity to Robbins. And he helped us tell our tale of literacy without making it too preachy. I still remember fondly the following exchange when Hudson is amazed at how Robbins can find Macbeth's address in the phone book.

Hudson: Magic book.
Robbins: Aren't they all?

Simple, but mighty.

Spalding, man... Paul... You left us too soon.


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More rambles on Angel...

Well, I'm glad I chose to trust them Angel writers. I thought last night's episode of Angel, with the new Illyria/Fred was another extremely powerful and well done hour of television.

It was a nice variation on a theme in that Illyria ISN'T going to be the big villain for the season. She's now just another lost soul. An ancient demon who has to start over.

I do have a couple quibbles:

I wasn't fond of the artificial way they wrote Lorne out of the episode until the montage at the end. It just seemed like they felt they were too crowded to give his character any screen time.

It bothered me that no one could acknowledge that what was happening to Gun was an exact parallel to what happened to Wes when he stole Connor, because no one remembers Connor. That whole nobody-remembers-Connor thing still strikes me as only a step above the Bobby-Ewing-reappearing-in-the-shower/it-was-all-a-dream ploy on Dallas. But the Connor thing is more a fault of LAST season (which had its share of problems) as opposed to this season.

So I'm very optimistic that Angel will continue to be brilliant throughout its final year.


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Death of Fred - SPOILERS

Last night, I finally got around to watching last week's Death of Fred episode on Angel.

Very powerful, very powerful stuff.

And yet....

You see, I'm conflicted, because Angel's writers have certainly earned my trust this year with powerful episodes, including:

--The Death of Cordelia (one of the best hours of tv and endings that I've ever seen)
--The lunatic Slayer (another great, great ending)
--Angel's turned into a puppet

But I'm a little tired of the "One of our regulars goes bad" storylines. Hell, Smallville, which I don't watch because it sucks, seems (judging by their commercials) to do this every week.

And Buffy/Angel has had it's fair share of the same thing. Just last season they did evil Cordelia and the return of Angelus. (Plus there's Angelus' original appearance in Buffy Season 2, Dark Willow and various episodic evil versions of everyone from Xander to Anya.)

So I'm just not looking forward to seeing another evil version of one of their characters. Been there. Done that. If this is Angel's last season -- as it reportedly is, then I'd have liked to push a different way. Lyndsay and the Senior Partners, for example.

But on the other hand, how can I not trust Joss and the Angel writing staff. This season has been jam-packed with amazing episodes, and last night was no exception.

So I'll just cross my fingers, and in any case, try not to weep as the last of Joss' amazing series goes off the air.


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OSCAR HINDSIGHT

Back in January, I listed my choices for the Oscars -- hampered by how few movies I had seen. I made a point of saying that these were preferences, not predictions.

But just for fun, let's you and I revisit my choices and see how I did.

Again, keep in mind that I wouldn't allow myself to pick anything from a film I hadn't seen. And since I hadn't seen MOST of the nominated films, that left me with few choices in many categories.

PICTURE:
GW: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
WINNER: LOTR: ROTK
Comment: No-brainer. I'm 1 for 1.

ACTOR:
GW: Johnny Depp
WINNER: Sean Penn
Comment: Didn't see Mystic River. Have no doubt that Penn was probably great. But I still feel that the academy does not appreciate comedy and a win for either Depp or Murray would have been nice to see. I'm 1 for 2.

ACTRESS:
GW: Keisha Castle-Hughes
WINNER: Charlize Theron
Comment: Everyone tells me she was amazing, but I never saw Monster. In fact, Keisha was the only nominated performance I saw. This is no big surprise. I'm 1 for 3.

SUPPORTING ACTOR:
GW: Alec Baldwin
Winner: Tim Robbins.
Comment: I liked Robbins speech. Again, I didn't see his performance. I'm sure he was great. But I know Baldwin was great. I'm sinking here at 1 for 4.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
GW: No pick.
WINNER: Renée Zellweger
Comment: Didn't see ANY of the nominated performances. I'm 1 for 5.

DIRECTOR:
GW: Peter Jackson
WINNER: Peter Jackson.
Comment: I pretty much stuck with the ROTK horse and scored well, obviously. I'm 2 for 6.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
GW: Walsh, Boyens, Jackson
Winner: Ditto
Comment: I'm 3 for 7.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
GW: Coppola
Winner: Coppola
Comment: I'm 4 for 8. Batting 500 now after the acting awards decimated me.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
GW: no pick
Winner: The Barbarian Invasions
Comment: I'm 4 for 9.

ANIMATED FEATURE:
GW: Finding Nemo
Winner: Finding Nemo
Comment: I'm 5 for 10.

ART DIRECTION:
GW: ROTK
Winner: ROTK
Comment: I'm 6 for 11.

SOUND MIXING:
GW: ROTK
Winner: ROTK
Comment: I'm 7 for 12.

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
GW: Master & Commander
Winner: M&C
Comment: Hey I even won in a tech category where ROTK wasn't nominated. I'm 8 for 13.

SOUND EDITING:
GW: Pirates
Winner: M&C
Comment: Oh, well. I'm 8 for 14.

ORIGINAL SCORE:
GW: Shore
Winner: Shore
Comment: Duh. I'm 9 for 15.

ORIGINAL SONG:
GW: Into the West
Winner: Into the West
Comment: Okay, now I've heard all five songs. Sting's song seemed really great. But at the time I'd ONLY heard Into the West. I liked it, so I picked it and it won. I'm 10 for 16.

Documentary Feature:
GW: no pick
Winner: The Fog of War
Comment: I'm 10 for 17.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
GW: No pick.
Winner: Cherno0byl Heart.
Comment: I'm 10 for 18.

FILM EDITING:
GW: ROTK
WINNER: ROTK
Comment: I'm 11 for 19.

MAKEUP
GW: ROTK
WINNER: ROTK
COmment: I'm 12 for 20.

COSTUME:
GW: ROTK
WINNER: ROTK
COMMENT: I'm 13 for 21.

ANIMATED SHORT:
GW: no pick
winner: Harvie Krumpet
Comment: I wonder now if I did see that Ice Age short somewhere. Like on the DVD maybe? Doesn't matter. I know a lot of people were routing for Roy to win. Wonder what he would have said? High road or low road? Anyway, I'm 13 for 22.

LIVE ACTION SHORT:
GW: Two Soldiers
Winner: Two Soldiers
Comment: I think this was the single award that I had the most invested in. Turns out it was favored. I had no idea. It was the only short I had seen, but I went out of my way to see it because "Two Soldiers" by William Faulkner is my all-time favorite short story ever. The movie isn't quite as good as the story, but it definitely does it justice. I was so happy when it won. And I'm 14 for 23.

VISUAL EFFECTS:
GW: ROTK
WINNER: ROTK
Comment: Final tally: 15 for 24.

Eleven of those fifteen were the ROTK sweep. The other four were for Two Soldiers, Nemo, Translation's script and M&C's Cinematography.

Of the nine I missed, five were in categories I made no pick whatsoever, per my self-imposed rules. One of those five plus three other misses were in acting categories, where I hadn't seen the winning performances, so couldn't vote for them. That means that the only category where I feel I really "guessed" wrong was in Sound Editing where I went with Pirates over M&C.

Not too shabby.


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Wanna hear about my day?

Keep in mind I usually go to bed at about 2am. Last night/this morning was no exception. I had to set the alarm for 4:30am in order to get to the airport and get through security (which is ever-mutating and unpredictable) in time to catch my flight outa this burg.

Did I mention that today is Friday the 13th?

I'm not usually superstitious about Friday the 13ths, because my wife was born on a Friday the 13th, so I kinda consider it a lucky day for me.

But my flight was cancelled. Not delayed. Cancelled. Some equipment malfunction and no back-up plane to take it's place. The current plan is to try again tomorrow. Wish me luck.

So anyway, came home and we decided to go to the movies: "MIRACLE".

Many of you are too young, but many of you are old enough to remember the 1980 Winter Olympics and the "Miracle on Ice" U.S. victory over the unbeatable Soviet Union team. I was 16 and saw the game on ABC. My father had also only recently bought our first VCR, and we actually have the game on tape.

This movie brought back SO many memories. It is incredibly well-made, and Kurt Russell is amazing in it. The truly phenomenal thing about the film is that I knew exactly how it was going to end, but I was nevertheless on the edge of my seat the entire time. Not as seat-edgy as I was 24 years ago, of course, when I DIDN'T know the outcome, but still...

I recommend this film to anyone, whether or not they are interested in hockey.

Meanwhile, I have a headache and am, for obvious reasons, quite tired. So if I start to ramble, well...

Last week I had three celebrity sightings over a three day period.

Saw what's-his-name (I'm blanking out) the Quantum Leap guy who plays Jonathan Archer on Star Trek Enterprise at the Yellow Balloon, which is a kid's haircutting place. I was there with my two kids. He was there with his two sons. (Or at least I assume they were his sons.)

Later that afternoon, I saw Nancy Travis from "Becker". I was at a bowling alley with my two kids. She was at the alley with her son. (At least I assume it was her son. Maybe she traded kids with Archer for the day.)

Two days later, I saw Melissa "Laura Ingalls" Gilbert at Jamba Juice. She's currently the president of the Screen Actors Guild. She's about my age. She ordered a smoothie. The Jamba guy asked her what size, and I wanted to say "Give her a half-pint." But I figured she didn't need that joke from me. And it wasn't that funny anyway. My kids weren't there. Neither were hers or Archer's.

Disney. I probably shouldn't comment on this AT ALL.

I'm afraid I'm not one of the big Eisner-bashers. I worked for him during the Eisner/Katzenberg team-up years. And I'm not saying it was a piece of cake, but I had to pitch to the man once every six months, and I have no complaints about that era. He bought Gargoyles afterall. Course, I had to pitch it to him three times, but he still let us make the show. And for me personally, things got worse when Eisner STOPPED making the final decisions about which shows Disney TV Animation should make. Back then, when he gave the green light, other divisions either got on board or got out of the way. Now, all decisions are made by committee. I don't envy TVA's current execs and creative types. It's much harder to get a green light. And much harder to get a show made. The buck of course ultimately stops with Eisner -- even for this new way of operating, but people bitch about his micro-managing. And he never did that to us. But his complete removal from our process created a system which I think is arguably much worse.

In a war between Eisner and Roy Disney, it's hard not to want to side with the guy who literally carries the Disney name. But I have to admit that my Disney concerns are more parochial. The division I'm still (after all these years) most interested in is the TV Animation Division that (I like to think) I helped build with guys like Gary Krisel, Bruce Cranston, Jymn Magon, Tad Stones, Karl Geurs, Alan Zaslove, Tom Ruzicka, Michael Webster, etc. And frankly, I just don't know what Roy thinks of our old stuff. I know that back in the day, he WOULDN'T let us use characters like Mickey, Donald, Goofy, etc. He didn't think we could do them justice, I guess. He didn't stand in the way of a show like Gargoyles, but I never once heard an attaboy from him. And I did from Eisner.

Does that mean anything ten years later. Probably not. But it makes the whole sitch kinda gray and murky for me loyalty -wise.

But in a war between Eisner and Comcast? Well, I have no idea what would truly be best for the company, but it would be hard for me to see Disney lose it's independence and become merely a subsidiary of a larger conglomerate... and frankly aren't these conglomerates LARGE A DAMN NUFF ALREADY?

I don't have the answers to any of this.

Disney vs. Pixar. Or more accurately Eisner vs. Jobs. Again, hard not to want to side with Jobs, but I've been reading the Business sections on this, and Jobs seems to have made the deal impossible to make financially. Now the reason he may have done this may be because Eisner pissed him off beyond the ken, I have no idea, but there was no way anyone acting in Disney's fiduciary interest would give up 50% share of two Pixar movies in exchange for an on-going relationship with Pixar that would only have amounted to fixed Distribution fees. That just doesn't make financial sense to me as a Disney *but not a Pixar* stock holder.

I'm tired and murky. And you know what, I didn't see Brother Bear, but my kids liked it. And I LIKED TREASURE PLANET!!! Quite a bit, actually. So I wish people would stop knocking the movie. I think Disney botched the marketing on it and then sabotaged the thing by writing it off after one weekend before word-of-mouth even had a chance to help them off.

I'm bummed that Disney dismantled it's Tokyo Animation division. For personal reasons, that bums me out more than what they did in Florida and even to their Burbank Features staff. But it's all a bad sign.

Just depressing.

I'm not even coherent now, am I ?

I'll stop rambling and try to answer a couple questions.

See you next week ... unless the plane doesn't take off again tomorrow.


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Heading out of town...

I'll be out of town tomorrow and all next week.

No internet access while I'm gone, so I'll be back here at ASK GREG on 2/23/04.

Have a great Valentine's Day,

Greg


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LAST NIGHT'S CHAT

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in last night's chat.

Props especially go out to Mooncat for moderating and logging the thing.

To Matt for suggesting it (more-or-less) in the first place.

And for Gorebash for hosting it.

Finally, I'd like to send a personal shout out to "Beth Maza". I had forgotten that that was your screen name, and I'm afraid I was so busy answering questions that it didn't register when you came in the room. Of course, I remember you and your REAL name.

Beth Maza was the con-chair for the very first GATHERING in Manhattan in 1997. She almost single-handedly organized the convention and got me there (against all odds, I should add). We all owe her a huge debt of gratitude. Me most of all.

Next to Gorebash, no one besides Beth did more to bring me into the fandom at the beginning. Thanks. (And I hope you see this.)


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FEELING CHATTY...

Hey gang,

Just letting everybody know that I'll be stopping by the Station 8 Chat Room (http://s8.org/chat/gargs/) on Thursday, February 5th, 2004 from 4pm-6pm PST (that's 7-9pm Eastern).

Hope to see you all then.


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OSCAR NOMINATIONS

This is an interesting exercise for me. One which mostly demonstrates how few movies I get to see.

The Oscar Noms came out and are in today's paper. So I'm going to list my choices.

But here's the main rule. I can only choose from movies I've actually seen. The result is that there are entire categories (including at least one major category) that I can't vote in at all:

Supporting Actress
Foreign Language Film
Documentary Feature
Documentary Short
Animated Short

Of course, I reserve the right to make changes later if I see more movies. Also, these are NOT predictions. I'm not trying to guess who the Academy will chose. I'm simply stating my preferences...

PICTURE: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING
Haven't seen Mystic River or Seabiscuit. Didn't care for the tiresome Master & Commander. I enjoyed Lost in Translation, a movie which snuck up on everyone, but I don't think it was quite as good as everyone said. I'm sorry that The Cooler didn't get nominated, but in any case it's hard not to vote for LOTR: Return of the King over either Master or Translation. I think that both of the first two movies were better than the third, but as I've stated, this isn't a Return of the Jedi scenario. This is an amazing movie on every level. The bar was set incredibly high by Jackson's first two films. And he still made it over by any reckoning.

ACTRESS: Keisha Castle-Hughes, WHALE RIDER
Well, I haven't seen In America, 21 Grams, Monster or Something's Gotta Give. So Keisha was my only option. But that's okay. I wasn't too wild about the 2-D movie, but the kid was great. Doubt she'll win, but, hey, I'm routing for her.

ACTOR: Johnny Depp, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL
Haven't seen Mystic River, Cold Mountain or House of Sand and Fog. That leaves Depp in Pirates and Murray in Translation, both terrrific comic performances. I'm choosing Depp, the more obvioulsy comic turn, because (a) comedy is rarely rewarded by the Academy and like to break that barrier and (b) as good as Murray is, he's kinda playing himself. But this was a VERY tough choice for me.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Alec Baldwin, THE COOLER
Haven't seen 21 Grams, In America, Mystic River or the Last Samurai so all that leaves is Alec in Cooler. But even more than Keisha above, I'm thrilled to have Alec as my choice. I saw The Cooler this past Saturday and REALLY loved it. William H. Macy and Maria Bello are also brilliant in it, but I'm not at all surprised that Baldwin was nominated. He's a great actor.

DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson, RINGS: KING
Haven't seen Mystic River or City of God. Didn't care for Master & Commander. Liked Lost in Translation, but Jackson's efforts on Return of the King are stunning.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Walsh, Boyens, Jackson, LOTR: ROTK
Havent's seen American Splendor, City of God, Mystic River or Seabiscuit, leaving Rings my only option. But again, I like the screenplay so it's a fine choice. Looking forward to the extended version though.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Coppola, LOST IN TRANSLATION
Haven't seen Barbarian Invasions or Dirty Pretty Things or In America, which leaves me a choice between Lost and Finding Nemo. No contest. Nemo is a cute little movie, but it's far from being my favorite Pixar script. Translation is fascinating.

ART DIRECTION: Hennah, Lee, LOTR: ROTK
Haven't seen Girl with a Pearl Earing, Last Samurai or Seabiscuit. Which leaves me with a contest between LOTR and M&Commander. This was actually a tougher call. I didn't care much for M&C, but it looked damn good. But I think LOTR was a greater overall achievement.

ANIMATED FEATURE: FINDING NEMO.
Haven't seen Brother Bear or Triplets of Belleville. So that leaves Nemo only. Again, not a brilliant film, but it has some brilliant stuff in it, so I can vote this way with a vaguely clear conscious.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Boyd, MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD
Haven't seen City of God, Cold Mountain, Girl with a Pearl Earing or Seabiscuit, which leaves only M&C, which again looked great. So, fine.

SOUND MIXING: Boyes, Semanick, Hedges, Peek, LOTR: ROTK
Haven't seen Samurai or Seabiscuit, but it leaves three great choices, M&C, ROTK and Pirates. I'm gonna give the edge to ROTK. I seem to be sweeping with them. Can't help it. Note that Christopher Boyes is up for bother Pirates and Rings. That's pretty good odds, but an even bigger bummer, I'd imagine, if he loses.

SOUND EDITING: Boyes, Waters, PIRATES
Boyes is looking good for some award. Sound editing on Nemo, Pirates and M&C were probably all great. But I have a softer spot for the fun of Pirates. One of the few categories where I HAVE seen all of the nominees.

ORIGINAL SCORE: Shore, LOTR: ROTK
Haven't seen Big Fish, Cold Mountain or House of Sand & Fog, which leaves Howard Shore's brilliant ROTK work and Nemo, which was just okay.

ORIGINAL SONG: "Into the West", Walsh, Shore, Lennox, LOTR:ROTK
Well, I'm a big Annie Lennox fan to begin with, and the song was very moving to me, so this is an obvious choice. Throw in the fact that I haven't seen Mighty Wind, Cold Mountain, Cold Mountain or Triplets and it was also my only option. The good news is that so far, there hasn't been a category where I have declined to pick a winner because I only had one option. So far, even in categories with only one option, I've genuinely liked that one option.

COSTUME DESIGN: Dickson, Taylor, LOTR: ROTK
Haven't seen Girl with Pearl, Samurai or Seabiscuit, which again leaves M&C and LOTR. Went with LOTR for cause. Great costumes across the board.

FILM EDITING: Selkirk, LOTR: ROTK
Haven't seen City of God, Cold Mountain or Seabiscuit, leaving YET again M&C and LOTR. No brainer. Half the time in the M&C battle scenes I couldn't keep basic track of who was doing what.

MAKEUP: Taylor, King: LOTR:ROTK
Another of the categories where I have seen all the nominees. Pirates had great make-up, truly. And I came very close to giving this one to Pirates. But just that one Orc was so damn good, and he was just the tip of the iceberg. M&C is also in the running, but why?

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: "Two Soldiers"
I haven't seen the other four options, but I have seen Two Soldiers, based on a William Faulkner short story that just happens to be my all time favorite short story ever. I made a point of seeing this short and was not disappointed. It's really great.

VISUAL EFFECTS: Rygiel, Letteri, Cook, Funke, LOTR: ROTK
And the last of three categories where I've seen all the nominees. Any other year and Pirates (but not M&C) would have challenged for this award. But ROTK, right?

So what's the final tally...

11 for LOTR: ROTK, including picture, director, song, score, screenplay and a half-dozen tech and craft awards. I think that's a clean-sweep. And I'm not generally a sweepy kinda guy. But the true geek in me has been awakened by this trilogy.
2 for Pirates, including Depp's brilliant performanceand a tech award.
1 for WHALE RIDER's kid actress.
1 for THE COOLER's Alec Baldwin.
1 for LOST IN TRANSLATION's keen screenplay by Sofia Coppola.
1 for FINDING NEMO. Best animated feature, won perhaps by default, though I liked the movie.
1 for MASTER & COMMANDER for cinematography, another default win perhaps, though it certainly looked gorgeous.
1 for "Two Soldiers", a personal favorite that may be the award I'm most routing to be right about.

And then five categories where I couldn't vote at all.

That's it.

Bye.


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Stuff...

ASK GREG isn't exactly a BLOG. I'm not always sure what's appropriate to put here...

For example, I had a weird thought last night. It occured to me that I'm old enough (based on my sexual history) to have a 22-year-old child. (My actual kids are 9 and 6.) That freaked me out. But I'm not sure it's appropriate for this forum. Still -- I guess it doesn't hurt to be advocating protected sex over unprotected sex, right?

(I know that's gonna come back and bite me on the ass. I just know it.)

Saw RETURN OF THE KING. And I really, really liked it, although I didn't really, really like the first hour. Overall, I enjoyed the first two movies more, but don't get me wrong. I'm not comparing this to the awful Return of the Jedi, at all. I still loved it, and I can't wait to see the extended version.

I do wish there had been some mention of what the dwarves were up to. And some indication of where the elves went who fought at Helm's Deep. How come they didn't lend a hand in Gondor? Even a line of dialogue would have been helpful to me.

The movie that actually caught me by surprise was PETER PAN. I really liked it a lot. It's so melancholy and bittersweet. Peter looked terrific (and was about 50/50 on the acting). Some things may have been a bit on the head, but it's Neverland, not Subtletyland. Just to be clear, I'm not saying it's a better movie than LOTR, but I thought the reviews of Pan were way harsh.

HATED CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN. But there was one VERY FUNNY scene in it when the twins confessed. Otherwise, as a dad, I thought the message it sent was EXTREMELY dubious -- and extremely unrealistic.

Had a great vacation. Hope you all are having a happy new year.


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Random stuff...

Random ramblings before I go on vacation...

*I am DYING to see "LORD OF THE RINGS: Return of the King". I can't believe how much I want to see this movie. It has been ages since my geeky self has been this desperate. I literally can't remember the last time I so NEEDED to see a movie.

*I bought both extended DVDs for the first two films. (The first one, a year ago of course.) Honestly, what I really can't wait for is the Extended version of Return of the King, but since that's a year off, I'll settle for seeing the "short" version on the big screen. All I can say is that I hope to hell that there's a movie theater on Marco Island, and if so it damn well better be playing ROTK. (And that's right. I'm cussing! Oh, don't look so shocked.)

*I'd like to see a music video featuring Demona to Dido's
"White Flag".

*I'd like to see a music video from Goliath's POV -- but featuring Elisa -- of "Amazing". (I think that's the title. I'm not sure who the artist or band is.)

*I've seen an interview with Peter Jackson saying that originally -- a long time ago -- he wanted to make "The Hobbit" but found that the rights were a mess. He wanted to make "The Hobbit" to demonstrate that he could do "Lord of the Rings". But discovered that the rights to the latter were free and clear, so switched his ambitions to the LOTR, which he wanted to make as TWO films, as he felt he couldn't do justice to the story in one film. Thank God, he got to make three. And, yes, I'm desperately hoping that after "King Kong" (which I'll trust him on, since he's earned that trust, but if ever a movie did NOT require remaking...) he'll do "The Hobbit" as a prequel with the Ians and JR-D and Serkis.

*I can personally vouch for the rights to Hobbit being a mess. When I was a development exec at Disney -- and again, later, at DreamWorks -- we looked into acquiring the rights to do a new animated Hobbit Movie. The rights were hopelessly mired. I understand it isn't quite as bad now. But at the time, a huge number of people/groups had a claim (some more legitimate than others) to the thing. After looking into the situation, my boss wouldn't touch the thing with a ten foot pole.

*I'd really love to do a WWII Blackhawk movie someday.

*Last week, I saw a short film based on William Faulkner's short story, "Two Soldiers". This is my all time favorite short story EVER. I highly recommend it. HIGHLY. And the movie was pretty darn good too. The kid was amazing.

*Saw Clancy Brown again today at a recording session. He kicked ass, as usual. I'd love to tell you what he played, but I honestly don't know if it's confidential or not, and I don't want to get in trouble. Hopefully, I can talk about it soon. I'm not sure he remembered me though, which was a little depressing.

*Saw George Segal walking down the street in Beverly Hills. He didn't seem to remember me either. Of course, we've never met.

*Saw Diane Lane and Christopher Lambert tonight at my daughter's school "Winter Program". They're kid goes to the same school. I've never met them either, but I'd love to ask them what it was like working with Sir Laurence Olivier ("A Little Romance") and Sir Ralph Richardson ("Greystoke"). I wonder if it would bug them that the movies I'm MOST interested in are more or less the first one's each of them ever made.

*I realize I'm intentionally name-dropping. And I also realize it's kind of obnoxious. But, hey, I live in L.A. and I work in the biz, sort of. So I might as well go all out. I also met Steve Harris ("The Practice") and Ming Na ("e.r.") at the Recording session today. And I saw Rino Romano (Johnny Rico from "Roughnecks: Starship Troopers"). Rino, at least, remembered me, thank god.

*The funny thing about LOTR and my passion for the movies is that I'm not a massive Tolkien fan. I read the Hobbit and the Trilogy when I was in my early teens. And I liked them all right. But I wasn't rabid about it. And I could never get through the Silmarillion, though I tried at least three times. I reread the Hobbit to my kids about two years ago. And again, I liked it. But I TOTALLY LOVE THESE MOVIES. Totally obssessed!

*I ate way too much candy at the recording session today.

*It's been a long time since I really rambled on this site. It's been fun. Have a great holiday, guys.

Seeya soon,

Greg


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Happy Holidays...

Seasons Greetings everyone...

I'm heading out of town for awhile. I'll be back answering ASK GREG questions no later than January 5th.

Have a great holiday season.

Greg


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A TOUCH OF CANMORE IN THE NIGHT...

For those of you who missed the controversy over the following set of questions... You're lucky.

These questions waited a long time in the queue, but were deleted...

What follows is a bit difficult to read, so here's a primer.

<Lynati lists topics -- or perhaps they are old questions -- inside these carrots.>

[She then quotes ASK GREG inside brackets.]

Then she asks new numbered and lettered questions inside parens, e.g. 1a).

MY NEW RESPONSES FOLLOW IN ALL-CAPS.

From Lynati:

I'm in a Canmore mood this evening. Err, morning.

<Of Fiona's relationship to Robyn and her siblings, posted at two different times>

[Fiona is the twin sister of Jason, Robyn and Jon's grandfather. That is, she's their great aunt.]

DID YOU CUT AND PASTE THIS QUOTATION OR RETYPE IT YOURSELF? DID I REALLY MAKE THAT GLARING AN ERROR, SUBSTITUTING JASON FOR JACKSON.

[But I'm pretty sure that Jackson is Fiona's twin brother. That Jackson was the father of Aron who was the father of Charles
who was the father of Jason, Robyn & Jon. And I know Fiona's great-grandfather was Angus.]

This second list would make her their great-great-aunt. When you have a chance, will you look it up in your Canmore-bloodline list and clarify for us:

(1a)Is she Jackson's twin brother, or Aron's?

THE TWINS, JACKSON AND FIONA CANMORE WERE BORN IN 1888.

(1b)How many "great"'s properly belong in front of her name in relation to Robyn?

IN 1908, JACKSON'S SON ARON CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS AUNT.

IN 1936, ARON'S SON CHARLES CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS GREAT AUNT.

IN 1964, CHARLES' SON JASON CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS GREAT-GREAT AUNT.

IN 1966, CHARLES' DAUGHTER ROBYN CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS GREAT-GREAT AUNT.

IN 1972, CHARLES' SON JON CANMORE WAS BORN. FIONA WAS HIS GREAT-GREAT AUNT.

<At the time of 'Hunter's moon' were Jason, Jon and Robyn Canmore the only descendents of Canmore? Do they have any other family out there that they are unaware of?>

[There are probably a lot of Canmore descendants. They probably know some and don't know others, just like anyone. But they were the three who had carried on the tradition of the Hunter.]

(2a)Were Robyn and her siblings chosen to continue the Hunter tradition, or did they get a choice?

THEY WERE CHOSEN. AND THEY HAD A CHOICE IN THEORY, BUT GAUGE THAT RELATIVE TO WHAT YOU SAW IN "HUNTER'S MOON".

(2b)As they were trained by the "Canmore clan", does that mean that a large part of the family knows about "the Demon" and
the pledge to hunt her down, or is it kept a secret from anyone not pledged on the Hunter path?

IT DEPENDS ON HOW YOU DEFINE "CANMORE CLAN". IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT ANY AND ALL OF THE DESCENDANTS OF DUNCAN & CANMORE -- THAN NO, I DON'T THINK MOST STILL KNOW ABOUT DEMONA. BUT IF YOU'RE REFERRING TO THE BRANCH OF THE CLAN THAT RECREATED THE HUNTER TRADITION, THAN YES, MOST KNOW.

(2c)Were any of Robyn's cousins (and second cousins, etc.) offered the choice to become Hunters, and if not, did they receive similar training anyway?

I TEND TO THINK THAT THE MANTLE OF THE HUNTER FALLS ALONG A DIRECT LINE OF DESCENT AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.

(2d)Was Fiona Robyn, Jason, and Jon's primary teacher and trainer?

NO. BUT SHE PARTICIPATED.

[But I've charted so many Canmores that I get confused sometimes, and I don't have that chart with me. I can't remember for
sure. Ask me again later. ]

[She [Demona] was hunted (a) because she was the only one left (as far as they knew) and (b) because of a little mishap with
Canmore and one of his sons that I haven't told you about yet.]

(3a)Will you tell us about all of the Canmore's you have charted at 2002 (or whichever con is "next" by the time this post gets
through), including the above-mentioned "incident" that you have not previously told us about?

NOPE.

(3b)If not, will you tell us about most of them?

NAH.

Hmm...maybe you should just sell copies of the Canmore family list at the Gathering.

IT'S A THOUGHT.

<So what happened in Paris, 1920 that was so significant to the Atlantis and Gargoyles universes? >

[Come to G2002 and find out.]

<origination of the word "Gargoyle".>

[The etimology of the word gargoyle goes back a long way. It evolved at least in part from an Atlantean word. That's all I want
to say at this time. But hold tight. More will be revealed at the Gathering 2002 in Virginia Beach.]

<Who created the Praying Gargoyle? >
[If you come to G2002, you'll find out.]

<How powerful is its magic?>
[Potentially, very powerful.]

(4a)So, was the Praying Gargoyle created on Atlantis?

IT WAS CREATED BY ATLANTEANS -- BUT I'M NOT SURE IF IT WAS LITERALLY CREATED IN ATLANTIS.

(4b)Did the first gargoyles develop on Atlantis?

NO. GARGOYLES PREDATE ATLANTIS. AS DO HUMANS.

(4c) What did you have for lunch today?

NOTHING. TOO BUSY ANSWERING QUESTIONS.

(4d)In 1920, were Fiona Canmore and Demona fighting over the possession of the Praying gargoyle?

NOT REALLY, THOUGH IT PLAYED A ROLE IN THEIR CONFLICT.

(4e)If yes, and the Praying Gargoyle was hidden this year, was there any particular reason that Demona had to wait 60
years to reclaim it, or did she just figure it was too good a hiding place to leave the statue in until she needed it?

THE PRAYING GARGOYLE WAS DESTROYED IN 1920. IT TOOK 60 YEARS TO REGENERATE.

And, while I'm here...

(5a)...Does Demona really "know every remaining gargoyle" as she claims in "the reckoning", or was this just another one of her "I am right about everything (and therefore there can be no more gargoyles than I know of)" delusions?

IT SEEMS CLEAR TO ME THAT SHE DOESN'T KNOW EVERY REMAINING GARGOYLE, AS SHE CLEARLY DOESN'T KNOW ABOUT AVALON.

(5b)Which clans is she actually aware of at the time she makes that proclamation?

I'M NOT GOING TO TIE MY HANDS BY LISTING THEM AT THIS TIME.

(5c)As Angela learned about Demona's immortality in "Sanctuary", why was she crying after Demona's "death" in the reckoning?

IT'S ONE THING TO KNOW SOMETHING INTELLECTUALLY, IT'S ANOTHER TO TRULY ABSORB IT. ALSO, AS I'VE STATED MANY, MANY TIMES BEFORE, THE MANHATTAN CLAN KNOWS THE BASIC RULES REGARDING DEMONA AND MACBETH, BUT THEY ARE NOT AS SURE AS I AM THAT DEMONA CAN NEVER BE KILLED EXCEPT UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. THIS IS ALL NEW TO THEM.

(5d)Did Angela and Goliath honestly believe that Demona was permanently killed by the roller coster collapse/fire, even
knowing that Demona is only able to truly die at Macbeth's hands?

THEY JUST WEREN'T 100% SURE.

(5e) Was Angela not aware of that stipulation?

SEE ABOVE.

(5f)Since Goliath knew, did he deliberately keep the knowledge that Demona would survive from Angela?

SEE ABOVE.

(5g)Have I forgotten something that makes a flaw in my reasoning here?

ONLY THAT YOU ARE THINKING IN ABSOLUTES. MOST PEOPLE (AND GARGOYLES) GO THROUGH LIFE WITH SOME DOUBTS, INSECURITIES AND UNCERTAINTIES. EVEN IF THEY ARE TOLD SOMETHING, THERE'S ALWAYS ROOM TO QUESTION IT.

Yes, I plan to attend the Gathering in 2002.

The last question is, will you have read this post by then?

OBVIOUSLY, NOT. BUT AT LEAST I GOT TO IT BEFORE G2004.


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HAPPY THANKSGIVING...

Have a great holiday, everyone.

See you in December!


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TOP FIVE POLL

As many of you know, I stopped by the Station 8 Comment Room last week, asking the fans to list the top five reasons that they were drawn to the Gargoyles series. My post received 470 responses in one week: pretty good on short notice.

The responses can be viewed at http://s8.org/gargoyles/cmntarch2.php. They'll be on that site through this coming Sunday
(11/23/03), at which point the room clears.

I copied and pasted the entire room over to a Word Document and found it to be nearly three hundred pages long and full of very
gratifying bites about the series, but it's a lot to wade through, so I put the following statistics together. [Note: some people gave more than five reasons, and many reasons overlapped. I just tried to count everything. But this is far from scientific.]

"WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE REASONS THAT YOU ARE DRAWN TO THE GARGOYLES SERIES?"

Out of 470 Total Responses…

#1 - Characters.
An amazing 437 people cited the Characters and the series' complex characterization as one of their top five reasons for being drawn to the series. They discussed, often in great detail, how real and believable the characters seem, how detailed their backstories were, how major and minor characters grew, changed and evolved, and how complex they were, reflecting shades of grey. They liked the relationships/bonds/dynamics between the characters, as well. They even liked their names. 35 respondents specifically noted and appreciated the diversity of our cast (multi-racial and multi-species, and all of very different body types). 16 respondents noted our depiction of strong and non-stereotyped female characters. Another 35 respondents listed our villains as their favorites. Many individual characters were listed simply as examples, but many were also singled out by the fans, voted as one of their top five reasons for liking the show: Demona (39), Brooklyn (30), Xanatos (29), Goliath (23), Puck/Owen (22), Elisa (17), Lexington (13), Macbeth (9), Broadway (9), Bronx (7), Hudson (5), Thailog (5), Fox (4), the Mutates (4), The Pack (3), Oberon (3), the Tricksters (3), the Hunters (3), Angela (2), the Illuminati (2), Jackal & Hyena (1), Desdemona (1), Titania (1), the Clones (1), Una (1), Fang (1) and Matt (1).

#2 - Plot Development.
228 respondents listed the series' ongoing saga, its story arcs, as one of their top five reasons for liking the series. They liked its dynamism and twists. How stories built on past stories and presaged stories yet to come: the tapestry of events that created the Gargoyles Universe. In fact, 23 people specifically listed the "Gargoyles Universe" as one of their top five draws. 88 people specifically referred to Gargoyles' Continuity as being a plus. They liked, in essence, that the show had a memory - it made events more real and seemed to reward the fans for both sticking around and paying attention. It also encouraged them to watch episodes over and over to pick up tidbits that they might have missed on a first viewing. 18 also liked how actions had repercussions and consequences. 3 people praised the series' "epic scope". 6 talked about how it seemed to be filled with possibilities for yet more stories.

#3 - Literary, Mythological, Historical & Biblical References.
201 people loved the integration of various characters and concepts from myth, history, literature and the Bible. A whopping (and gratifying) 104 specifically mentioned all the various Shakespeare references and characters as being a plus. Many felt the show was educational, inspiring them to read Shakespeare's plays or study Scottish History, etc.

#4 - Animation.
199 people loved the series' animation. Many consider it the best or among the best that American television animation has ever produced. Many people compared it favorably with Japanese anime and Batman: The Animated Series. Two people specifically praised the pacing.

#5 - The Voice Cast.
158 people listed the voice cast and voice acting in their top fives. 38 people specifically mentioned that the presence of so many Star Trek actors in Gargoyles was a major initial draw. As with the characters, many individual actors were singled out by the fans in their lists: Keith David/Goliath (32), Jonathan Frakes/Xanatos (19), Marina Sirtis/Demona (15), Salli Richardson/Elisa (4), Michael Dorn/Coldstone (3), Edward Asner/Hudson (2), Jeff Bennett/Brooklyn (2), Jim Cummings/Dingo (1), Tim Curry/Sevarius (1), Thom Adcox-Hernandez/Lexington (1), Frank Welker/Bronx (1). Three of our international fans even praised the foreign dubs.

That takes care of the top five, but this'll fill out the top twenty:

#6 - Series Intelligence.
140 people specifically stated how much they appreciated how "smart" the series was. They liked that it was written on multiple levels so that it could be appreciated by kids as well as by teens and adults. That's one of the reasons why they're still watching it ten years later. They liked how Gargoyles respected its audience and its audience's intelligence.

#7 - Design.
122 people cited the show's design work and art style as part of their top five. They liked the looks of the individual gargoyles and the other characters as well, with 12 people actually praising how "sexy" the characters were. They liked the backgrounds and the overall look of the show. 12 people specifically gave credit to the series' color palette.

#8 - Writing.
76 people cited the series' writing for praise (this is in addition to those listed above who liked the characters, overall story arcs, literary references, etc.). They praised the writing's attention to detail, its substance, layers and intensity. 32 people praised how "believable" and "realistic" the show seemed, despite its fantasy premise. 28 specifically noted the mystery and intrigue, liking the risk-taking twists and turns that kept the audience coming back for more. 27 praised the show's humor and comedy (and one person even liked all the in-jokes). 24 specifically praised the dialogue. 11 praised the emotional depth. 5 praised its timeless quality. 3 praised its scary sequences.

#9 - Issues/Values/Themes.
71 respondents were impressed by Gargoyles ability to introduce real world issues and teach values without preaching. They cited episodes that dealt with gun safety, illiteracy, environmental concerns, etc. 24 people also specifically cited the shows pro-social themes, again noting how the show got its messages across without hitting the viewer over the head with them. Specific themes were even listed on occasion. 10 people hailed the idea of our using monsters as heroes and exploring the theme of "not judging a book by its cover." Four liked the show's theme of hope. Another four liked its theme of protection. One person listed "the fish out of water" theme. Another listed the theme of Family as being important.

#10 - Romance.
67 people responded to the romance in the show. In particular, the slow-boiling Beauty and the Beast relationship between Goliath and Elisa.

#11 - Core Concept.
65 people listed the core concept as one of their reasons. They liked the whole idea of medieval Gargoyles waking up in the modern world. They liked how fully realized the Gargoyles species was, from how they looked to how they acted, their history, culture and behavior. An additional 30 people specifically cited the series' "Originality".

#12 - Music.
62 respondents listed Carl Johnson's music score and opening theme as one of their top five reasons for liking the show. (Though one person was happy that there was no singing.) Many of the fans spontaneously requested that Disney release the music on CD. [Of course, many, many others noted that they would like to see the whole show on DVD.] 7 additional people listed "Sound" in general, including music and sound effects.

#13 - Multi-Genre storytelling.
62 individuals liked how the series elegantly combined multiple genres, including fantasy, science fiction, comic book action hero, comedy, drama, horror, etc. They liked how science went hand-in-hand with sorcery. They liked the use of magic and technology, time travel, robots, gods, monsters, etc.

#14 - Episodic Stories.
60 respondents praised the storytelling of individual episodes. How each was able to stand alone, while still fitting into the larger tapestry of the series' arcs. 17 people praised the stories from the Avalon World Tour set of episodes. Many individual episodes were also cited in the fans' lists: "Deadly Force" (9), "The Mirror" (6), "Temptation" (2), "Future Tense" (1), "M.I.A." (1), "Awakening" (1), "City of Stone" (1), "Hunter's Moon" (1), "The Edge" (1), "The Hound of Ulster" (1). One person specifically stated that he liked how not a single episode was filler.

#15 - Setting.
46 people cited the setting, usually the combination of medieval gargoyles in modern New York City. They liked how we depicted the city, how we got it right. Many people also enjoyed the flashbacks to medieval Scotland, and the World Tour episodes that took our cast to locations across the globe.

#16 - Atmosphere.
34 respondents praised the series' gothic atmosphere, running through the writing, design and animation.

#17 - Action.
30 people liked the action. The pure excitement - without being gratuitous.

#18 - The Fandom.
29 people noted that they were either drawn to the show or have remained with it at least in part because of the loyal fandom. An additional 20 found the show inspirational for their own creativity. Another 18 listed the show and its characters as "Aspirational" (although most didn't use that word). 14 more cited personal reasons for why the show was important to them. And it seems that we have many couples who met through the fandom, including multiple married couples who credit the series with bringing them together. 17 people were specifically impressed by the passion and dedication of the Gargoyles cast and crew and their participation in the fandom.

#19 - New for Disney.
28 people were impressed with the show simply for being something new and different for Disney.

#20 - Original Publicity.
11 people cited the series' original publicity for getting their attention and getting them to sit in front of their televisions in the first place. 5 more cited the old syndicated "Disney Afternoon".

That's pretty much it. There were a few other random and/or hard to qualify answers, but the above 20 reasons pretty much cover why the fans still love the series. I know all this sounds incredibly immodest coming from me, but all it takes is a quick skim of the fans' actual responses to see that I'm not exaggerating at all.

Thanks to everyone who participated...


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Art Carney (1918 - 2003)

Growing up and living most of one's life in Southern California makes having a number of so-called "Brushes with Greatness" inevitable.

Sunday, I saw Tony Shaloub in Larchmont Village, but since I had recently seen him at Los Angeles International Airport AND spoken with him at Logan International Airport, I refrained from accosting him again, lest he think I was stalking him or something.

And just yesterday, I rode up an elevator with Florence Henderson, who looks great, by the way.

So the fact that I once met Art Carney is, in and of itself, not particularly remarkable. But his passing seems an appropriate time to relate this story.

In the mid-seventies, I was in Junior High. I read a LOT. I had somewhat eclectic, and geek-leaning tastes, but most of what I read were mystery novels, especially mystery novels that were part of on-going series. One such series was Harry Kemelman's Rabbi David Small mysteries. (This is a series that I highly recommend. The more recent books aren't quite as strong, but the original seven are terrific.) Each book's title began with the day of the week. And the first mystery was called, "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late."

One day, I came home from school and found that my street was, as they say, "bustling with activity". An army of humans and trailers and equipment had descended on Queen Florence Lane. In the seventies, in the San Fernando Valley, this was still something of a rarity. But in any event, I was fascinated. They were filming a movie in and around the house directly across the street from ours.

Soon, I discovered that the movie was a telefilm called, "Lanigan's Rabbi". It was an adaptation of "Friday the Rabbi Slept Late." I'm not sure how I managed this, other than persistance and the chutzpah that comes with not knowing anything at all, but I kept telling people that I had read the book that the movie was based on. At some point someone grabbed me and introduced me to the director. I have no idea if he was humoring me or truly interested, but he asked me a number of questions about the original novel, claiming that he -- and that in fact NO ONE on the set -- had actually read the thing. There were, I was told, certain things in the script that weren't tracking for him. So I answered his questions and told him how the mystery played out in the book. He took it all in and seemed grateful for the insight.

In any case, he then did something fairly astounding. He let me hang out. That's it. But I was allowed to watch filming. I was allowed to get food from the catering truck. I was allowed to sit with the actors and talk with them. Now, this couldn't have gone on for very long. It's not like I was employed by the movie company or anything. I didn't follow the shoot to its next location. But they spent at least three or four days in the cul-de-sac where I lived. They gave me a copy of the shooting script, which I then had autographed by the movie's two leads.

One of those leads was Stuart Margolin, who's probably most famous for playing "Angel" on THE ROCKFORD FILES. "Lanigan's Rabbi" wound up spinning off into an on-going series, and for some reason Margolin didn't end up playing Rabbi Small in the series. But he was terrific in the movie. And he was an extremely nice guy, who didn't seem to mind chatting with a thirteen-year-old, who was hanging around the set.

But the part of Police Chief Lanigan was played by Art Carney. Now Art Carney is a certified genius. Emmy winner. Oscar winner. Of course his performance as "Ed Norton" in THE HONEYMOONERS is nothing short of brilliant. His on-screen teaming with Jackie Gleason, a match-made in sitcom heaven. Among other things, Ed Norton was the clear inspiration for any number of cartoon characters, ESPECIALLY "Barney Rubble". People often forget, however, what a wonderful dramatic actor Carney was. How he brought a touch of humanity to every role he played. Rod Serling knew this. Art is unforgettable as a drunken department store Santa in "The Night of the Meek" episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE. A part that Serling wrote especially for Carney. He is also truly wonderful in a number of movies: "Harry & Tonto" and "The Late Show", among others.

I knew almost none of this at the time. I didn't even know Ed Norton. In New York, the Honeymooners has probably NEVER been off the air, but Los Angeles was and is an I LOVE LUCY town. It would be nearly a decade before I would move to New York and learn to appreciate Ralph and Ed and Alice and Trixie.

What I knew at the time, all I knew at the time, was that this was a big time star -- in the middle of shooting a movie -- who spent time with me. Time by the catering truck. Time on the set. He explained how things worked. He explained why things were done the way they were done. He was just so damn nice -- nice enough that as ignorant as I was -- I didn't take it for granted. It impressed me even then.

A few days later, they were gone. Stuart, Art, all of them. The movie finished shooting in my neighborhood and moved on. Some time later, the movie went on the air. We didn't have a VCR back in those days, so I don't have a copy. I followed along on my shooting script and took note of all the little changes in it. It seemed to me (though I might have been seriously kidding myself) that the final version of the film leaned a bit closer to the original novel than the shooting script in my hand. I was certainly kidding myself when I took credit for that somewhat dubious conclusion. And without a doubt the coolest moment was watching Rabbi Small and Chief Lanigan (Stuart and Art, as I called them) walking down the hill of my street and turning a corner and suddenly being at the Rabbi's Temple. There was no temple around the corner from Queen Florence Lane, but the transition was so seamless, it seemed miraculous. A true bit of movie magic before I understood movie magic. Before I was even vaguely jaded.

I just now spent a half hour looking for that shooting script. I couldn't find it. I hope it turns up eventually. I'm sure I wouldn't have thrown it out, but there's a good chance it was in one of my boxes that was in my parents' basement, part of my past which was destroyed by a flood caused by the Northridge Earthquake. I hope not. I haven't thought about any of this in years, but now it's something I'd like to revisit in more detail.

I wrote about Bob Hope a couple of months ago, when he passed, and I suppose this is a very similar kind of tribute. Others will, I'm sure, write more important, more personal and more informed things about Art Carney in the next few days. But I wanted to add my bit.

Not just for the incredibly talented performer, a loss we should all feel, though not too intensely as he has achieved a meta-Xanatosian immortality through the many great performances we will always have to rewatch time and again. And not for the friend and/or family member, because he was none of these things to me, and I was none of these things to him.

But oddly, I wanted to write a tribute to the stranger. To the nice man, who was patient with a dopey know-it-all kid. He was warm and funny and made me feel welcome.

And for that I am truly grateful. Thanks, Chief.


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THE TOP FIVE REASONS YOU WERE DRAWN TO GARGOYLES

Yesterday, I made the following request at Station 8's Gargoyles Comment Room:

Hey everybody,

I really need some help. Without going into details about the why, I'd love to get the answer to the following question:

"WHAT ARE THE TOP FIVE REASONS THAT YOU ARE DRAWN TO THE GARGOYLES SERIES?"

We don't need fancy answers -- and of course there's no right or wrong answers -- so don't feel like you need to compose elegant
responses. Just RESPOND, please.

Also, please, spread the word around and have as many fans as possible stop by THIS WEEK and give their answer right here at the S8 Comment Room. It would be much appreciated. Very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Greg Weisman

The responses so far have been very gratifying. I'm particularly impressed with how many people have stopped by the Comment Room that usually don't.

But (with good reason) I'm greedy. I'd like to get even more people to stop by. So please SPREAD THE WORD. E-mail/telephone/snail mail anyone you know who was EVER a GARGOYLES fan and ask them to stop by the Comment room and post their own personal top fives. We really, really, really need something akin to 100% participation.

Here's the address:

http://s8.org/gargoyles/comment2.php

Thanks again,

Greg


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CHAT

I'll stop by the Station 8 CHAT ROOM this Friday, November 7th, 2003 at 4pm PST. (That's 7pm on the East Coast. The rest of you figure
out your own time zone.)

Please spread the word. (Nothing's more depressing than when the so-called "pro" stops by and there are no fans who want to chat.)
Maybe we can get a big crowd and hang for a bit.

Hope to see you there,

Greg


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Chapter XLIV: "GRIEF"

Time to ramble...

I watched "Grief" the other night with my wife Beth, my nine-year-old daughter Erin and my six-year-old son Benny.

This episode was directed by Kazuo Terada & Takamitsu Kawamura, story edited by Michael Reaves based on his story. The teleplay is by Michael and Brynne Chandler Reaves.

Though Brynne co-wrote the teleplay, this strikes me as a VERY Michael episode. I remember how excited he was to be using the Tanna Leaves and the Avatar, plus all those other references to Thoth, Osiris, Isis and Set. I think it was something he had wanted to do on a Batman episode, but it hadn't survived someone's interference (my memory is hazy). But these MUMMY trappings suited our purposes perfectly. The Tanna leaves even gave Hyena hay fever.

The one word title, as usual, was one of mine. I liked it because it had that double meaning, covering the Emir's grief over his son, and all the grief (trouble) that this was causing. I have a vague memory that Michael wasn't thrilled by the title, but, hey, I gave him his Tanna Leaves...

One of us had Wolf speak to the second meaning in the episode when he says he's tired of the Gargoyles giving the Pack grief. Just to give things a bit of clarity.

THE PACK

The new Coyote 3.0 surfaces, complete with a slightly new design and that now iconic Xanatos robot head (smashed in his last appearance) displayed on a video screen. (Goliath mentions seeing it, although in the ONLY scene where Goliath could have seen it, it's not visible. Arggh...)

The new Coyote design obeys Frank Paur's general rule of robots, which states that if you're not trying to fool anyone into thinking that the robot is actually a human being, then the design should clearly be inhuman enough so that you'd never think it could be a guy wearing an armored suit.

Coyote's an odd bird in many ways. So like Xanatos, but without his drive and with more of a vengeful nature. Programmed in, I believe, so that he doesn't let anyone or anything stand in the way of X's missions. He's got some fun lines ("Shoot first and ask questions later."), in particular his exchanges about the chain of command...

Coyote: "I'm not programmed to kill without orders.
Wolf: "I'm giving the order!"
Coyote: "You don't qualify."

or

Coyote: "Is that an order?"
Emir: "YES! Get rid of them!"
Coyote: "Cheerfully."

Hyena continues to be attracted to a Coyote that doesn't seem interested but also never closes the door on the possibility of hooking up with the cyborg. ("Wanna make sparks fly?" "Later, perhaps.") It's sick and twisted and hard to get your head around, but it sure is fun, culminating with her wonderful complaint to her brother after Jackal destroys Coyote: "Every time I meet a guy I like..." (I also like those buzzsaws on her arms.)

It's important to note that Dingo is already missing from the group. Clearly, during and after "Upgrade" he was rethinking his association with the other members. This doesn't bode well for the Pack as a unit. They're already talking about going their separate ways after the Emir's work is through and are only still together because they owe Xanatos for busting them out of jail. After this, Wolf will head to Scotland, answering the call of his ancestor Hakon. Jackal & Hyena will take a job with Cyberbiotics and head for Guatemala. Dingo will go to work for Fox in his native Australia. Coyote 4.0 will be rebuilt and head for Arizona with Xanatos.

So "Grief" is the Pack's swan song -- that is until a new Coyote forms the Ultra-Pack with Wolf, Jackal & Hyena and a new member... someday...

THE EMIR

To be perfectly honest, the Emir entered the Gargoyles Universe as a throwaway line of dialogue to indicate how powerful Xanatos was in "The Edge". If he could keep an Emir waiting, X must be a real bigshot. But Michael and I remembered the line, and used the Emir again as a semi-throwaway in "Double Jeopardy". But by that time, I think we might have already known we'd be seeing him on the World Tour. It's just an example of how the Tapestry seemed to be working for us. Creating opportunities that were so right, it almost seemed as if we were truly tapping into the Gargoyles Universe. How many of you were surprised to see the Emir actually appear?

The Emir was a very successful and poignant character (at least in my opinion). I give most of the credit for that to actor Tony Shaloub and Voice Director Jamie Thomason. Not to knock our wonderful designers and animators who brought that voice to life. But let's face it, he's just a guy in a robe. Now over the course of the ENTIRE production of Gargoyles, I would say that I only missed two voice sessions EVER. But one of them was this pick-up session with Tony. NOW, of course, everyone knows that Tony is an Emmy-winning brilliant actor of movies and television. I just love MONK. But back then, the only thing that Tony was really known for was the Italian immigrant cab driver on WINGS. Pretty cool in and of itself, of course. But having missed the session, I was unprepared for just how wonderful he was as the Emir. Everything from the grief-stricken sighs to the bursts of anger are just wonderful.

And while we're on the subject of voice, how about that other Tony, Tony Jay, as Anubis. He's delicious in three different personae -- as the neutral and imperious Anubis, as the crazed Jackal/Anubis and as the exhausted Emir/Anubis. That vocal effect we did of having both actors (Tony & Tony or Tony & Matt Frewer) read the Avatar lines and blending them together was a bit of accidental brilliance, in my opinion. I'm also glad that they do NOT quite synch up. It's better. The lines basically fit, but they ebb and flow around each other like the magical melding it's supposed to be. It was a bit of a bitch to mix, but I love it.

But I digress. The Emir's heartbroken love for his son is, I think, one of the cleanest and most purest emotions (unencumbered by too much fantasy) that we ever presented. Something very real. When the Emir first pulled out the photo of his son, Erin said "Who is that? Is that his son?" She immediately knew the photo had meaning. (Again, Tony's big sigh really helped.)

And at the end, we (along with Goliath) really hope that after gaining true understanding upon becoming Anubis' Avatar, he is now at rest with his son.

JACKAL

Jackal also truly comes into his own in this episode. I love how he flat out has a thing for jackals. How he admires the Anubis hieroglyph and Anubis himself, calling him "The original model". It's cool and creepy. We also truly get to see Jackal as a sociopath here. I think I've mentioned before that I view Hyena as a psychopath and Jackal as a sociopath, i.e. someone with enough sense to know he's got to do his evil within a schema that allows him to get away with it. But what happens when you free the sociopath from all restrictions. What happens when you give him (Matt & Tony, remember) the powers of Death itself? Well, you see what happens. People die. Lots of them, in theory.

Getting away with that was interesting. I think maybe in Adrienne Bello's mind, everything was set right. Or the fact that we see that Egyptian town age into a ruin didn't count because we weren't seeing ANY human beings die. But we had much more trouble getting those two skeletonized crocs past her than the implied death of an entire town. Misdirection. Or she was just being cool. Or both, i.e. she thought the misdirection was sufficient that she COULD be cool.

I love when Jackal/Anubis says: "Life and Death at my command. I LIKE it!" I also like that he's smart enough and sociopathic enough to co-opt the most dangerous guy in the room: The Emir. The Emir? you ask. Well, yes, it's the Emir who does in fact end up defeating him by rereading the scroll. And Jackal keeps the Emir in his place by holding out the hope to him that he will restore his son.

SPHINX

Seriously, how could we not go to Egypt on the World Tour. How could we skip visiting what Angela refers to as the World's Biggest Gargoyle. So we stuck a fictional temple inside it -- and then trashed it. I think dedicated archaeologists must hate our show, because we're constantly trashing these amazing hidden chambers of antiquity. Maybe I'm getting older or something, but I find myself wincing everytime Goliath and Wolf bust a sacarphogus during a fight, everytime a pillar cracks or the roof falls in. I'm just glad we didn't destroy the Sphinx itself.

Goliath's entrance into the temple isn't one of our most brilliant animated moments. For starters, when Coyote is touching the hieroglyphs, he seems to miss every one. Goliath than claims to be repeating the sequence, but it looks nothing like what Coyote did. Yet it works for both of them. Maybe getting into that temple isn't as hard as it looks.

I love how the power of death flows from Jackal/Anubis and then through the Sphinx's own eyes before striking out at Egypt at large. Almost makes the Sphinx seem to come to life in those shots.

And I do love that shot at the end where the gargs are in stone in front of the stone Sphinx.

ANUBIS

Love Wolf's reaction: "Shave my head and call me baldy." (Or something like that, all ramble quotations are approximate.)

The animation effects on this episode are all fantastic, particularly the lighting during tranformations (very reminiscent of "Shadows of the Past"). Gorgeous. Another reason for me to be bummed that Disney closed its Tokyo studio.

I like how Anubis has no real mouth. Certainly no synch to his dialogue. My kids both commented on it. It fascinated them. But I also think it puts him on another level. His speech is that of a god. He requires nothing as mundane as a mouth movement to get his meaning across. (That's why it's so disconcerting in "THE GATHERING, PART ONE" when his mouth opens to laugh. He seems above something as petty as laughter, non?)

And how about Tony Jay and those great lines of godlike neutrality: "I grant but one boon." "Death is always pointless. That is the point." "All are equal in death." "You would not like to see the Jackal God play favorites." Etc.

ACTION

All right, once again, let me acknowledge my screw up. I should have let Coyote shoot Elisa, Goliath, Bronx and Angela dead. And have nothing happen. At that moment in the ep, no one can die. Emir and Anubis are just covering that in dialogue. Instead, Elisa pulls off a fairly elegant move that allows them to escape. But how much cooler if the distraction were the mere fact that they survived the Pack's barage unscathed? I blew it.

Otherwise, there is some pretty cool action.

Coyote advises Elisa to take her best shot. She does and it's kinda cool. But less cool because she then comments on it.

Coyote's limp afterwards is a nice touch, I think.

RANDOM FLOTSAM

When Elisa and the gargs wake up in chains, Erin says: "They all wake up at the same time suddenly." Leave it to a nine-year-old to point out an obvious cheat.

Erin said, "Yuck, disgusting." when Jackal first transformed.

Benny: "He wants to be the strongest, I'm guessing."

Benny didn't quite get why the Gargs were turning old. (Designing a demonstably old Bronx was NOT easy, by the way.) Or for that matter why Hyena and Wolf turned into Cyber-baby and wolf-cub. (Though both kids thought they were cute.) So the exchanging of energies lacked a bit of clarity for our younger audience, perhaps. Still any excuse to give Keith David an opportunity to do a variation on a theme is fun. Like hearing Keith play Thailog, it was also cool to hear him play a very old Goliath. The guy's a maestro of his own voice.

I do remember arguing with Reaves about the Baby and puppy moment. I thought (a) that it was funny and (b) that it was necessary to illustrate Jackal/Anubis' power. Michael simply thought it was too silly in tone. Now, I'm very glad I held firm. I think it's a great moment. And a little in-context humor really helps any episode. (I also love Jackal's "Baby sister" line that prefaces the change.)

I think in hindsight, Goliath's explanation that the gargs aged at half-speed and Jackal didn't know it, is a cheat. They are visibly very old. Internally, they'd be no less old. It's not like Jackal was thinking, "Hmmm, if I age them fifty years that should be enough." He just kept aging them until they were old and feeble. It's also not like biologically a gargoyle's exterior ages faster than his or her interior.

Ironically, commenting on that was not necessary for the purpose of explaining the action. If there had been no explanation and Goliath had used sheer will power to drag himself up for one last feeble attack, I don't think anyone in the audience would have balked. Rather, I think that dialogue was put in by me to definitively establish the fact that Gargs age at half speed. Oh, well...

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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Chapter XLIII: "M.I.A"

Time to ramble...

Haven't done this in a while (over a year, actually), and I definitely feel rusty. Anyway, I watched "M.I.A." last night with my wife Beth, my nine-year-old daughter Erin and my six-year-old son Benny.

This episode was directed by Kazuo Terada, story edited by Gary Sperling and written by Robert Cohen.

The (semi) one word title, as usual, was one of mine. (As was the springboard, but more on that later.) It's appropriate both because of Griff's disappearance and because of the wartime setting. Although I don't know if they actually used the M.I.A. acronym as far back as WWII. I associate it with Vietnam. Does anyone else know?

Benny read the title and thought it said Mia. He has a friend named Mia, whose birthday party he had gone to earlier in the day. So the title required a bit of explaining.

INTO THE MYSTIC

This was one of my ideas that I really fell in love with. The idea that a magic shop never goes out of style. The idea that these gargoyles have been running this shop right in the midst of London's teeming humanity for a millenium. I just love the idea that you could stop by there in 1940 or 1996 or 1809 or 1776 or 1595 or whenever. Different gargoyles manning the store, of course. But the store itself largely remains the same. It's a place where Lennox Macduff and Will Shakespeare might have ended up after a night of carousing together.

My notion, which I've stated here before, is that the London Clan has an estate in the burbs, and that the shop helps fund them.

Responding to the guys line about the shopkeepers having "incredible" masks, Benny takes a good look at Una and says: "That's a unicorn. A real one."

And Erin: "Those aren't masks."

Of course, these kids have both seen the episode before. But it was so long ago and they were so young it's like they're seeing it for the first time.

LONDON

We get some gorgeous shots of London. So gorgeous that when the animation on PENDRAGON came back weeks later looking not so good, we reused some of the "M.I.A." footage for that ep.

[Of course the animation here was done by Walt Disney Television Animation Japan, GARG's Best studio. It still kills me that Disney has shut down that unit. They did SUCH great stuff.]

Elisa talks to the Cabbie. In my mind, this Cabbie appears during the 1940 sequence as a little boy, running downstairs and into a bomb shelter with his sister. It's not important, but that's how I saw it.

And we explain (include) another legend. That of Gremlins. Not Gremlins from the Spielbergian movie. But gremlins that caused damage to airplanes during the war. This was/is a very famous legend among pilots. Roald Dahl (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame) wrote a book about them, which Walt Disney himself optioned. Eisner once had us develop a tv series based on the idea. I handed it off to a couple of producers who COMPLETELY redeveloped the idea. They came up with a good show, but it was unrecognizable to Eisner. (It also had a toupee joke, which probably didn't go over well.) Anyway, he didn't buy it.

SOHO

Actual racists thugs. We didn't do much of that. We usually went with anti-gargoyle types, who were metaphors for racists. But here we actually go with the real thing.

Their attack is very reminiscent of Awakening 3.

I love Brigitte's work here. Angela sounds like a tough warrior one minute, like a naive innocent the next. All within her character.

And that shot of Bronx leaping down from the roof is just gorgeous.

Leo and Una come out and confront Goliath, whose confusion is a lot of fun.

They're all in conflict, but everyone can agree with Elisa to take the argument inside...

We go inside and see the portrait of Griff.

Benny makes a connection: "There's a statue of him on the airplane."

UNA

I love Una's line: "I know my merchandise."

Throughout this episode, I think she comes across a bit like a junior Demona. I don't know if I felt that way at the time. But we have a female garg with sorcerous powers in denial about her own feelings of guilt and rewriting history to blame Goliath for things that were really not his fault.

Una was in love with Griff. And still is. But in the interrum, in my mind, she mated with Leo. She LOVES Leo. But she never got over being IN LOVE WITH Griff.

AWKWARD MOMENTS

Two of them.

One is having Goliath black out and instead of using it as our act break, we just go to black, wait a beat and then come back. We had a much better act break coming up, so I guess I don't regret it, but I also don't like it much.

The other awkward moment is giving Goliath that voice over of his interior thoughts, where he states his plan to use the Gate to figure out what the hell happened in 1940. I'm sure I resisted doing that VO. But we just didn't have a better solution.

I do love Goliath's frustrated: "I don't know any Griff!" line.

G uses the gate and Benny asks "What did he just do?" Beth explains it to him, but it illustrates my point that it has been so long since the kids last saw an ep, that their memories of the show are very vague.

WWII

We meet Clive and Douglas Bader. I've stated this before, but Douglas Bader was a real person. A true war hero. Douglas Bader lost both his legs in a plane crash, and became a war hero and fighter ace AFTER he recovered and learned to walk on two artificial pins. He was a hero during the Battle of Britain. Later, he was shot down over enemy territory and put in a POW camp. He escaped twice but was recaptured both times. Years later, he was knighted.

I met him once. My father, Wally Weisman, is a real Spitfire afficionado, and Bader was one of his heroes. My dad eventually met Sir Douglas in London and at the RAF Museum outside London. When I was a kid, Sir Douglas and his wife came to Los Angeles and we all went to Disneyland together. He never used a wheelchair. Always just moved along with his hip-swinging walk. An amazing man.

So there was no way I wasn't going to pay tribute to him here (and indirectly to my father as well -- in my mind, this ep is dedicated to my dad). I gave Gary Sperling the Bader biography, "REACH FOR THE SKIES," knowing that it would be tough for him to incorporate much into the episode. But we tried to base the design of Bader on one of his photographs. And we made sure that his first and last name were both used in dialogue so that he could be indentified by those paying attention.

And most of all, we tried to show that these pilots were the true heroes. Sure, Goliath and Griff save them. But Bader saves the gargoyles too, and he's the one who takes out the most dangerous of the Nazi fighter pilots.

This was important to me. Influenced by both Dahl's Gremlins book and my father and Bader, I'd wanted to do a Battle of Britain story pretty much since the series' inception. It's even listed in the bible. This came out of the notion we once had that (while the other gargoyles may have been asleep for a thousand years) Goliath had been awake and alone for 1000 years.

Imagine, if you will, that scene in Awakening-2, when Goliath comes back and finds Hudson, Bronx and the Trio asleep. Instead of joining them, he watches over them for a millenium. (This was back when we had a more magical view of Garg biology.) I thought Goliath would have largely spent a thousand years brooding. But that during WWII he might have ventured forth to fight the Nazis, if for no other reason than to prevent the bombing of Wyvern.

We, obviously, didn't end up going that way, but the visual of Gargoyles fighting in the Battle of Britain stuck with me. (And man, is that visual brought to life here beautifully.)

But having decided to do that, I didn't want to give the gargs all the credit. Real men and women gave their lives during the Battle of Britain. I didn't want to undercut their contribution in order to make my fictional gargs look good. That just seemed like it would be both irresponsible and disrespectful. A betrayal of the very reasons why we were doing the ep in the first place.

GRIFF

Casting... we had used Neil Dickson to tremendous evil effect as Duncan and Canmore in City of Stone. Here he gets to play Errol Flynn. Neil is a Brit. As is Charles Shaugnessy who played Bader and Sara Douglas who played Una. (Leo/Gregg Berger, on the other hand, is a Yank.) And they all really brought life to their respective roles. I have to admit I was worried about whether Neil would be right for the role. I should no better, but Duncan especially was so memorable, I really had that fixed in my head. But Neil's voice just worked perfectly for Griff. I'm still sorry we didn't get to see more of Griff with King Arthur in the Pendragon spin-off.

Griff was conceived as a real swashbuckling hero. A Robin Hood of the 1940s. As opposed to our rough-hewn "Scottish stock", this was a good-old-fashioned patriotic English Hero to put up against the Nazis. His costume was influenced, I think by the Blackhawks. And his look was inspired by British Heraldry. He was the Griffin to Una's unicorn and Leo's lion, three of the most striking heraldic beasts. Again, going back to my earliest development of the series, I thought that adaptations of heraldic beasts might be the English version of gargoyles. So Griff has Eagle and Lion qualities. Feathered wings. A mohawk-like main. An eagle-like beak, but lionesque limbs.

I know that Greg Guler, Frank Paur and I went over and over Griff's model. We were never 100% satisfied with it. But it must work, as I've never any complaints from the fan. And I think Neil (and Jamie Thomason's voice direction) deserve much of the credit for that. Because even with the great Japanese animation, he still looks a bit too Foghorn Leghorn for my tastes.

TIMELOOPINESS

Goliath (after Griff saves his life): "It was supposed to work the other way."
Erin: "I think this is how it started in the first place."

So, hey, she got it!!

Benny even jumped ahead, figuring out: "So he can take Griff back forward in time."

So he got it too. Did you guys get it right from the beginning? That Goliath would take Griff "back forward" to the present to reunite him with Leo and Una?

I love the scene between Griff, Leo, Una and Goliath over tea in the shop. Everyone's motivations are so clear that I often use this scene when I do voice seminars.

Griff wants to sell everyone on going on the offensive.
Leo wants to sell everyone on sticking with defense.
Una is more subtle. She'll use any argument that will promote Griff's safety.
Goliath is trying to stay out of trouble.

But I love his line: "In my experience, human problems become Gargoyle problems." How true... (witness the cancellation of the show...)

And then later, Goliath AGAIN realizes a lesson that he and the audience would have to relearn again and again. Fate cannot be cheated. History cannot be changed.

And once again, we show our lack of imagination and/or our desire to stick with something once we find it works by using the line "Not where, when."

We can say "1940" but we were discouraged from referring to the present by an actual year -- so that reruns would still sound current. I'm surprised that Goliath got to use the phrase "the 1990s". How short-sighted of Disney to not think we'd still be airing these reruns in the 21st Century. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Griff almost gets hit by a car in the present and Goliath says "Let's not start that again." A mini-tribute to the English Vultures in "A Jungle Book".

At the very end, Elisa's confusion is fun: "Just explain it one more time." That probably came out of my fear that the audience might not get it. If Elisa didn't get it either, the audience wouldn't have to feel so bad about it.

DOGFIGHTS

Everything I could have asked for.

I have a VERY vague memory that we were discouraged from using Swastikas. I can't remember why or even if this is true.

But the skull-like pilot with the skull & crossbones on his plane certainly looks like a bad guy, doesn't he?

The planes themselves just look great. I found out later that Bader didn't fly Spitfires during the Battle of Britain. He flew Spitfires later, but flew Hurricanes during the Blitz. This fact drives me crazy.

But I love his line about the Gargoyles (which in my mind, he viewed as Gremlins): "They're real, and they're on our side!"

Benny noticed that they shot a hole through Goliath's wing. I had to reassure him that he'd be okay after getting some stone sleep.

Parachutes. No one dies in this episode. At least not in theory. Of course, we KNOW people died during the Blitz. But we couldn't show or even imply that.

THE WORLD TOUR

We end of course by creating new heroes out of old. Griff has returned. And Leo and Una have been reinvigorated. They take back their neighborhood.

Leo: "Or we'll make it our business." Leo's spent years worried only about business. Now he remembers what his business is supposed to be. The nation of shopkeepers is once again ready to defend the realm. So to speak.

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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As requested...

Todd sent the following to me in response to my request for a quick info fix...

Dear Greg,

I hope that you don't mind me e-mailing you directly about Roger Lancelyn Green, but I thought that this was the quickest way
of getting the information to you (given the length of the queue and the fact that I know that you don't dare read much of the
comment room because many of the people there post "creativity demons" there).

At any rate, you're correct about the spelling: it is Roger Lancelyn Green. The title of the book is "King Arthur and his Knights
of the Round Table".

Todd Jensen


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Proofreading/Apologia...

I just received the following e-mail from my brother:

Subject: proofreading
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 13:56:49 -0700
From: "Weisman, Jon"

Just my two cents, but I do feel you're a little strident about the proofreading. I'm completely sympathetic to the annoyance/frustration, but your discussion of your own errors undermines your argument. You misspelled a word in the very sentence about proofreading being good training. Then you say there's no point in identifying errors that you make, because you're dyslexic and because you make an effort. Who's to say that your reader isn't dyslexic or doesn't make an effort, either? All "Dan" did in his first sentence was leave out the word "have."

Personally, I think it's fine to ask your readers to proofread better, but I simply think you could be nicer about it. Since your replies do contain errors, good intentions or not, it just doesn't make sense to me to cop an attitude.

- Jon

Jon is, of course, correct. And so I apologize for my rant. In particular, I apologize to "dan" for taking my frustrations out on him.

My only defense is that all the lousy proofreading -- and there really is a lot of it -- creates a kind of cumulative frustration. I really do ignore it most of the time. I make fun of it (I hope in a good-hearted way with a smart-ass response) occassionally, and I only rarely blow a gasket. But that's not much of an excuse.

So let's all try to proofread a bit more, including me -- hell, especially me -- and I'll try to keep my temper.

Again, dan, sorry.


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 7th, 2003

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was spending his last night in Scotland at the Edinburgh Airport Hilton Hotel. This is his story:

I maybe got two hours sleep. I had called downstairs for a wake-up call, and they told me they didn't do wake-up calls and that I'd have to set the alarm in my room. I looked around and told them the only clock was the digital readout on the t.v. They said that the alarm was one of the television's functions. (This is progress, I suppose.) So I attempted to set the t.v. to wake me up. But I had little confidence in it or me, so I barely slept.

3:45am
Sure enough, the t.v. went off as scheduled. I showered (probably the best shower of the trip, if you're keeping track). Dressed and ate my last Loch Torridon apple and Hilton cookie.

4:45am
My dad and I took a shuttle to the airport. There we waited in line with a bunch of Rugby fans in kilts, all headed to Germany.

I went through security and was stopped. They had spotted the two hand-painted rocks in my duffle, which I had purchased on Skye. The lady was very nice as I unpacked them for her. I told her what they were before she saw them. She pointed out that rocks could be used as weapons and that I might have to put them in my checked luggage. I told her that I hadn't checked any luggage. She told me that I might have to check my duffle then. But when she saw the cute little cottages painted on the rocks, I could tell she felt that I was hardly likely to use them as a weapon. Still I would have obviously done whatever they felt was necessary. She showed the rocks to her superior, who waved them off. I put them back and wondered whether I'd have as much luck in Germany.

6am
Boarded the plane to Frankfurt. Biz class aisle seat. Tomato Juice, Eggs, "Bacon", mushroom, spinach, cheese, apple, grapefruit and mango slices. A croissant.

9:30am
Arrived in Frankfurt (having picked up another hour).

I said goodbye to my dad, who was going into Frankfurt for his day of meetings (which had been the financial justification for the whole trip). I don't think I've talked much about my dad here, but Scotland aside, I really just enjoyed spending all this time with him. We talked for hours and didn't come close to running out of topics until somewhere around day five or six, and even then we managed. It's nice when even the silences aren't awkward. We took pictures, which largely came out great despite the fact that on the first day in LAX he put all his film through the X-ray machine. (A tech genius he ain't.) We drove for hours and hours and hours and enjoyed every minute. We saw some gorgeous scenery and a few other interesting tidbits. We followed a couple of my obsesssions, had a bunch of great meals, listened to a terrific murder mystery and talked about that. Truly, though I'll try, I can't thank him enough for the trip and the camradery.

Anyway, after he had gone, I took a long walk to a different terminal. There I changed my remaining pounds to Euros and bought some snacks for later: Pringles, a Snickers, an Evian and some Peanut M&M's.

Then I went to McDonalds. I bought a Quarter-Pounder, which they called a "Hamburger Royal", fries and a FRIED apple pie. (In the States, they only have baked pies now. I hadn't had one of McDonald's fried pies in years and years.) Now on this trip I had eaten McDonalds three times in three different countries. Once at LAX, once in Edinburgh and now once in Frankfurt. I love McDonalds.

I then went through another security check (putting my burger and fries and pie through the x-ray machine). I was sure they were going to make me take out my rocks again, and it seemed to me like the guy on the machine studied the screen with extra attention. But they let the bag go through. Me on the other hand... They didn't have a metal detector for me to walk through. So I got thoroughly searched. Shoes off. Belt. Wallet. Watch. Tube of blistex. Coins of course. It was very touchy-feely too. I don't begrudge it of course, but that doesn't make it fun.

Grabbed up my stuff and went to the Biz Class Lounge, where I ate my Mickey D's with a free coke that they had there. Also ate a free cookie and my snickers.

I left the lounge to wait for my plane and finished Faulkner's "Sanctuary", which I had been nursing the entire trip.

Boarded the plane. I was in Biz Class near the very front (3H). (First class was upstairs.) Boy, that landing gear makes a lot of noise when you're right on top of it.

I started reading "Shakespeare's Kings", a non-fiction book which compares Shakespeare's treatment of the monarchs (from Edward III through Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI to Richard III) to the actual history. I got through Henry V on the flight. It was fascinating.

I also watched "Bruce Almighty", which was considerably less fascinating. (Largely shallow and annoying, but it killed some time.) There were other movies too, but I decided my book was much more interesting.

I think I slept for about an hour.

Ate Venison & Cheese, Tortelline, a chocolate bar, Berry Pudding, cake, tomato juice and a concotion called "Multi-Fruit Juice" which at first taste I hated and then decided I liked it so much I had glass after glass after glass. Water too, sparkling and still. (I like to keep hydrated). A couple of ham & cheese sandwiches and another apple. (Not all this at once.)

4pm (Los Angeles time)
We landed. Went through the long lines at Immigration and customs.

A car was waiting for me and took me home.

Reunited with Beth, Erin and Benny. Which was great. I gave Beth her sweater, which she loved -- and which she felt was the exact right size. So I was vindicated there. I'm not sure the kids new what to make of the two rocks with the cottages on them. But they like getting stuff, so they were happy too.

I ate my German-bought Pringles and M&Ms that night.

And so ends my Odyssey.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 6th, 2003

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was spending his last night at the posh Loch Torridon Country House Hotel and had gone to bed at 11:30pm. This is his story:

4am
Woke up. Went back to sleep.

Just before 7am, I woke again.

8am
We loaded up the car and had breakfast: Apple, Tomato AND Orange Juice. Corn AND Bran Flakes. Croissants w/Apricot Puree AND Strawberry Jam. A big AND morning.

We hit the road for the final leg of our trip, largely making good time, listening to Tup's mix tape again.

From the hotel and Annat we headed northeast on the A896 to Kinlochewe. There we turned southeast on the A832 through Achnasheen. Somewhere along here (I think overlooking Loch Luichart) we stopped at a "Passing Place" to take photos of one of the ubiquitous "Passing Place" signs. We maintained our south-easterly heading past Garve on the A835 and made our way past Tore and onto the A9.

We crossed the bridge that separated the Beauly Firth from the MORAY FIRTH. Seeing the word Moray was the first sign that we were in Macbeth territory. And generally, in Gargoyle territory.

We headed into Inverness. I ate one of the apples I had copped from the Loch Torridon hotel room. Someday, I'd like to spend some time there, but this wasn't going to be the day. We took a few minutes to walk down to a bridge across the River Ness (which leads eventually to Loch Ness). We walked up to Inverness Castle, but we didn't really have the time to do much more than take a quick glance around.

We soon were back on the road. We got caught here and there behind some slow drivers (who didn't pull over as the signs instructed), but generally we made good time. We passed a town called Killiecrankie. And I thought, "I know a lot of people who get Killiecrankie sometimes."

We passed BIRNAM WOOD too. And signs for Glamis Castle. Someday I want to come back for the full-on Macbeth tour of Scotland.

Then we drove into Perth, looking longily at the fast food places. But by this time, I was on a mission: STONEQUEST. Last time I was in Britain the Stone of Destiny was still in Westminster Abbey. I've been to the Abbey at least a half-dozen times over the years, but I didn't (back then) know the Stone's significance. I certainly didn't know it could talk like Frank Welker. So I never took any notice of it. Now, I really wanted to see it.

For those of you who don't know or don't remember, the Stone is theoretically "Jacob's Pillow". The stone that Jacob rested his head on the night he saw the ladder leading up to heaven for the angels to climb. The stone found it's way to Ireland and thence to Scotland, where Kenneth MacAlpin was crowned upon it as the first King of Scotland. After that, all the Scottish Kings, including Kenneth, Constantine, Maol Chalvim, Duncan, Macbeth, Luach and Canmore, were crowned upon the Stone of Destiny on Moot Hill in Scone. Later, the stone was taken to London by the English. And used to crown English/British monarchs. It was briefly stolen in the fifties, but returned to Westminster Abbey in time for Elizabeth II's coronation. (Although some believe that the real stone is still in hiding.) GARGOYLES, of course, posited that this was also the famous "Sword in the Stone" from which Arthur drew Excalibur. In the episode "Pendragon", we showed Arthur and Griff communicating with the Stone at Westminster. But in 1997, the English returned the Stone to Scotland. But not to Scone. Rather it was taken to Edinburgh, so that it could be kept with the Honors of Scotland and the Crown Jewels in Edinburgh Castle. So today, I was determined to drag my dad to Scone Palace to see Moot Hill and the replica Stone they kept there and then later to Edinburgh Castle to see the real thing.

So anyway, we got a little bit lost in Perth. But got directions to Scone Palace from a very nice tourist info lady on West Mill Street. We made our way to Old High Street, Atholl Street and Charlotte Street to the Perth Bridge. We crossed the River Tay and then headed north on A93 to the Palace.

Now Scone Palacce was definitely a place I would love to spend a half day exploring in and out. The Grounds were just lovely, and the Palace itself looked very cool with some cool things inside. And there's a maze! But we really didn't have time if we were going to get to Edinburgh Castle before it closed. So a few minutes later, I was standing on Moot Hill leaning over the faux Stone of Destiny in my Gargoyles sweatshirt (half-hoping someone would come up and make the connection). It was cool. We took some pictures and left.

Back on the A93 (south now) to the A90 to the M90. Down to exit 4, where we pulled off in Kelty. Now most of this trip was planned by my father's assistant Anita Kelty Nitta. So in tribute to her, we stopped at her ancestral home and took pictures near the "Welcome to Kelty/Drive safely" sign. Then it was back on the road until we took the Forth Bridge across the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh. We found, with amazingly little trouble, the Edinburgh Airport Hilton and checked in. Compared to the Classy, Cozy and Posh places we had been staying, the room at the Hilton seemed quite the unpleasant little box. But it did offer a pre-packaged shortbread cookie, which I was happy to eat. It was servicable. It would do.

We drove across the street and returned the Beetle. We walked back to the hotel and called a cab to take us to Edinburgh Castle.

This cab ride took a ridiculously long time and a very circuitous route only to run smack into a huge crowd emerging from the Rugby finals. Hundreds of people wearing shirts celebrating "The Famous Grouse" blocked our path. Our cab driver then explained that he had intentionally taken a circuitous route in order to avoid this very traffic... and that if the game had gotten out five minutes later, we'd have thought he was brilliant. As it is, we were stuck. It took forever to finally get us to the Castle.

Now, I've been to Edinburgh Castle twice before, so I've seen the sights. And yet I still wish we had more time, because it's truly worth exploring over and over. But we had arrived close to closing, and we still hadn't eaten anything since breakfast (cookies and apples aside), so time was short. We took a few pictures. Another couple shots by a cannon (a running photographic theme on the trip), a picture of me in my Garg Sweatshirt by a lion gargoyle that definitely reminded me of Leo. Then we headed in to see the actual Stone of Destiny. It was cool to see it. But no pictures allowed in there. And I waited to hear if it would talk to me, but I guess there were too many people around. No one commented on my sweatshirt either, but I was still very glad to have seen it.

We started walking down the Royal Mile, but we were sorta past sight-seeing and so we headed down to Princes Street to look for a nice non-touristy place to eat dinner. We passed the Train Station (with it's killer staircase) and Scott's Monument. But nothing presented itself dinner-wise. So we decided to eat dinner back at the hotel and had a VERY late lunch at McDonalds (1/4-Pounder, fries & coke).

We had passed a taxi stand earlier with literally a dozen taxis waiting in line. After McDonald's there were NONE there. But we found one a few minutes later and took it back to the Airport Hilton.

6:15pm
Dinner was Tortelline, Steak (which barely compared favorably to a Sizzler), fries, Mushrooms and an Apple/Blackberry Crumble, all of which might have been better if we hadn't just had McDonalds about a half hour earlier.

We were back in our rooms by 8pm. I talked briefly to Beth. I was tired, but I just couldn't go to sleep until after midnight.

TUNE IN TOMMOROW (or possibly Wednesday) for the conclusion of our adventure. *Here's a preview: "We don't do wake up calls" "The Trouble with Rocks" "Frankfurt, Germany" "McDonalds in three countries" "Shakespeare's Kings"*


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 5th, 2003

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was staying in the posh Loch Torridon Country House Hotel and had gone to bed after a dinner of Sea Trout at 10:30pm. This is his story:

3am
Woke up. Just flat out couldn't sleep.

3:30am
Called Beth, Erin & Benny. It was 7:30pm (the previous day) their time, so I finally got a chance to talk to the kids, who had just finished their first day back at school. (Erin in 4th grade, Benny in 1st.) After that, I tried the TV and reading. Finally slept again, on and off.

7:30am
Woke up, very tired. Showered. This shower was okay, but still not great. The nozzle was difficult to adjust.

8am
Breakfast at the Hotel. Orange & Tomato Juice. Toast, Cornflakes, Oatmeal Porridge with Brown Sugar & Cream.

9:15am
After taking a few pictures around the gorgeous and gorgeously situated hotel -- and once again putting up with the car alarm -- we were back on the road. This was the first day we weren't simultaneously en route to our next hotel. We were staying a second night in Annat at the Loch Torridon.

We drove from Annat to (the southern) Shieldaig to take a loop from Tornapress to Applecross to Fearnmore to Kenmore and back to Shieldag. That was the plan anyway. But we wound up making a wrong turn. We were still on the loop, but we wound up going in the opposite direction from our original intent. It wound up working out well, if not better. We passed by Kenmore and Fearnmore, driving the high coastal cliffs of the peninsula overlooking the Inner Sound and the Isles of Rona and Raasay. We stopped to take some pictures, and an older couple in a mobile home (coming from the opposite direction, as we had originally planned) pulled over beside us. The man got out and took one of the few pictures we got of the two of us together. He was incredibly nice, with great stories about his distant relatives in America. But the thing that struck me the most was his voice. He had great timber, and an even greater accent. A real Scottish brogue, but perfectly understandable. Very rich. (He was, incidentally, from just outside Edinburgh.) The voice director in me wanted to get him into a recording booth immediately. He warned us that the road ahead was steep quite steep with a number of sharp turns. He said had he known, he'd have never had taken his mobile home there. It didn't have the engine to carry the weight and there were moments when the wind felt like it was going to carry him over the side. He also recommended that we stop in Applecross for fresh baked bread. It sounded really appealing, but the truth was we had just had breakfast. I would like to go back though and have lunch there sometime.

The views on route to and coming out of Applecross were just spectacular. And he hadn't been kidding about the steep winding and very windy roads of the Bealach-na-Ba which rises to 2,053 feet with many hairpin turns. Bealach-na-Ba means "Pass of the Cattle" in Gaelic, and it is an old drover's trail for taking cattle to market. It was a little intimidating even in our little round Beetle. But man... gorgeous. Generally, on the whole trip we had extremely cooperative weather. And today was no exception. We never really got rained on. But the day was a touch misty over the ocean, and from an altitude standpoint, we were pretty high up. It might have been nice to really have a clear day to see forever, but still and all, I have nothing to complain about. And there's something right about the mist and the wind, the sharp, grey day. We stopped a couple times for more pictures.

We completed our loop, again passing Tornapress without ever actually seeing Tornapress. Passed Shieldaig again, stopped for gas and then returned briefly to the hotel. I had another apple in my room. Then we drove northeast on the A896 along Glen Torridon, passing as usual the ubiquitous sheep that move with impugnity around the country. I also spotted a raptor of some sort, almost literally hovering in one place in the strong wind. My dad commented that considering how many sheep were all around, there was surprisingly little lamb on the menus. I don't like lamb, but I tried to come up with some explanation. My favorite was that all the sheep we were passing were pets.

But we also considered the possibility that lamb on the plate ONLY comes from literal lambs, i.e. baby sheep. Maybe these sheep were all too old at this point.

Anyway, we drove along the Glen to Kinlochewe (a town I could never figure out how to pronounce). There we took the A832 north. It wound around the coast of Wester Ross passing near Loch Maree, the more northerly Shieldaig and Loch Gairloch. We passed through Charlestown, Gairloch and Poolewe. Drove along Loch Ewe to Aultbea and Laide. Drove around Gruinard Bay and crossed over to Little Loch Broom, before turning south through the stunning Dundonnell Forest.

We took the A835 north, planning to stop at Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach, but we passed the pull off before we could react. And since we were coming back the same way later, we decided to press on.

We stopped at Ullapool on Loch Broom. We had lunch at the Calley Inn. Tomato Soup and Mussels (again). The food was good. It started to rain a bit, while we were inside. (It had rained some nights, both while we slept or while we dined, and we had driven few small showers here and there along our route, but we had literally never been rained on. My dad never used his umbrella the whole trip.) Walking back through Ullapool, I put on my hat due to the very light rain, but it ended soon enough.

I stopped at a local knitting store that didn't look too touristy and bought Beth a sweater. (I should say, it was really amazing of her not to balk or squalk about this trip. It was not a great time for me to be going. She's a teacher, and she had to spend the week prepping her classrom for this week's start of school. The kids, on the other hand, were off until Thursday. My mom pitched in. But it was still a lot for Beth to cover.) Anyway, I picked out a wool sweater in colors I knew Beth would like. There was no medium available, so I chose a large, knowing that Beth liked loose-fitting clothes over tight. The saleslady, however, really tried to talk me into the small, saying that she thought the large was too big. I was pretty confident I was right, but she really started to make me paranoid about my choice. I stuck to my guns, and the woman surrendered reluctantly, telling me I could come back and exchange the sweater if Beth didn't like it. I thought that would be a nice trick. Though a tad expensive.

We had had some vague thoughts of heading further north, perhaps to Achiltibuie or even Lochinver. But it was already getting late, and we didn't want to push our luck. So we headed "home".

We backtracked to the Corrieschalloch Gorge and the Measach falls. The midges were out in force. Though we had been warned about them, they hadn't been a problem before now. So although I had bug repellant, I had left it at the hotel -- along with our other rolls of film. We got one picture of the Gorge from the swaying suspension bridge that spanned it. But that was it for the day, as the roll was used up. (This hadn't been an issue before, as every other day we were driving from one hotel to another, so we always had ALL of our stuff with us in the car. But today we were returning to the same hotel, so we had brought almost nothing with us.) Anyway, as with everything, the Gorge and falls were truly beautiful. But the back of my neck was getting eaten alive, so we beat a hasty retreat back to the car.

We headed south now, staying on the A835 past the Loch Glascarnoch Dam, the Black Water River and the Strathgrave Forest. Somewhere around here we finished "The Zebra-Striped Hearse". We had both enjoyed it immensely. Ed Asner's last scene as Colonel Blackwell had really been great.

We headed west on the A832 past Lochluichart, Achnasheen and Glenn Docherty, where we ran into a bit of construction on the one-lane road that caused some extremely minor delays. We rejoined the A896 at Kinlochewe and drove back through Glen Torridon to Loch Torridon, Annat and our hotel. I had another Shortbread cookie in my room.

Dinner brought Cheese souffle appetizers, like the little cheese crumpets in "The Great Mouse Detective". Another little teacup of soup, this time Mulagawtany. I ordered Mushroom Soup and Roast Beef with potatos and broccoli. Desert was Apple Pie and berries.

Later in my room, I returned a couple of business calls and talked for awhile with Duane Capizzi (my friend and the writing producer/story editor of such shows as "Men In Black" and "Jackie Chan"). He has a new series at Warner Brothers and was offering me some freelance scripts. I said yes. I don't know whether the project is confidential or not, so I won't say anymore about it at this point.

I talked to Beth and went to bed around 11:30pm.

TUNE IN MONDAY for more adventure. *Here's a preview: "The River Ness" "StoneQuest" "Birnam Wood" "The Famous Grouse" "McDonalds"*


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 4th, 2003

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was staying in the homey Greshornish House Hotel and had been summoned to dinner by bagpipes. He's about to begin his day on the Isle of Skye. This is his story:

6:15am
Wake up and lounge in bed. Got 6 & 1/2 hours sleep which is good for me.

Showered. Sort of. There really was no shower in my room. Just a bathtub with a hose that you could hold over your head. Seriously, how hard is it to install a hook or something so that you can open a bottle of shampoo and keep the water on you at the same time.

This is one of the two things that demonstrates America's ultimate ascendancy over the U.K. THE SHOWER. The U.K. has just (largely) not mastered the concept or the essential nature of a decent shower. Baths? Bah!! America is superior because it showers. I may be a Britophile (as opposed to a mere Anglophile), but I am not blind! The showerhead. The combination valve. These are not difficult high-tech concepts. Get with the program!!!!! *end of first rant*

8:30am
Breakfast at the Hotel. Toast w/butter, strawberry jam & honey, Cornflakes, Orange Juice, Scrambled eggs on toast and that darn vaguely-undercooked English Bacon. (I could easily label their bacon a third proof of American superiority, but I think that's more a matter of taste.)

My dad and I took pictures by the cannon, overlooking the Loch. We talked briefly to Claire from Guernsey, who has a VW Beetle at home. We were trying to figure out why the car alarm kept going off. She confirmed that it was overly sensitive, but that seemed an inadequate explanation. Overly sensitive to what? How does this thing work? It continues to go off randomly. Plus the radio is haunted and the air conditioner sucks too. And yet, we really like the car.

We hit the road, touring Skye.

We head back down A850 to A87. Head north at Portree to begin our loop of the coast of Skye's Trotternish Peninsula. We stopped multiple times to soak in the scenery and take pictures.

The Old Man of Storr is 49m pinnacle adrift from its parent cliff.

Kilt Rock is a cliffside formation that looks like the pleats of a kilt. Mealt Falls is stunning.

At Kilt Rock, I bought a couple of souvenirs for the kids. Rocks actually, handpainted to look like quaint Scottish cottages. The guy hand-painted Erin & Benny's names over the doors of the cottages. He was so sure-handed, I found it very impressive. He told me that I could now say I had bought my kids a cottage on Skye. I've been using variations on that line ever since.

We continued around the Trotternish to the ruins of Duntulm Castle. There's not much there. A few walls, a window. A cellar of some sort that's been gated off so that no one dies down there. But I love this kind of thing. Of course, the stunning cliffside location reminds me of Wyvern (or Tintagel) though this site isn't big enough to be a model for Wyvern, which in any case is theoretically on the mainland. But I just love climbing around these places.

We made our way back down the Peninsula, taking the B8036 back to the A850 to make a loop of the Waternish Peninsula. We passed Greshornish again, but our first stop was Dunvegan Castle. In contrast to Duntulm, this is no ruin. It's still inhabited by the Chiefs of the Clan Macleod. It was the single most touristy place we visited until the last day of our trip. It was also the most disappointing. Although it's location is unsurprisingly (at this point) stunning, the castle itself is unimpressive. The gardens are nice enough, and there was one truly bizarre tree that one could easily expect to see on an alien planet. But touring this kind of place just wasn't the point of this particular place.

We did get to see the Fairy Flag. There are a number of legends connected to the flag. Some say that it was a gift to the 4th clan chief from his Fairy wife. Others that a nurse who was supposed to be looking after a long ago heir, left the boy alone to attend a party. When she returned, he was wrapped in the fairy cloak. Science tells us that the silk was made in Rhodes or somewhere around there. So it may be a prize from a crusade or something. All things are true though.

We headed around Waternish on the A863. Got back on the A87 at Sligachan.

2:30pm
Back in Broadford, we stopped for lunch. The "chips" were good with salt and vinegar. And I had this amazing Peach Ice Cream Sundae for dessert. Plus a coke and some still (but not tap) water. But the hamburger....

The WORST HAMBURGER ever. We saw someone else enjoying one from a distance and both of us ordered burgers. But I had forgotten that the U.K. makes lousy hamburgers. When I was living in Oxford in 1984, the only place where you could get a decent burger (until the first McDonalds opened there right before I returned to the States) was a mini-chain called Bretts. There was a Bretts by the Train station and one just on the edge of town near where we lived at 65 High Street. I think us Yanks kept that latter Bretts in business. Even in London in those days, there were only two places besides American fast food chains like Burger King and McD's where you could get a good burger. One was Wolfs or Wolfies. The other was the Hard Rock Cafe.

Now you need to understand, I love hamburgers. And I'm not picky. I love everything from big thick restaurant burgers to crappy fast food burgers and everything in between. But what we were served in Broadford was inedible. I literally couldn't finish it. My dad says it's because they press the meat instead of grinding it. Maybe he's right.

But unlike the bacon, this can't possibly be a matter of taste. I'm now convinced that America is the world's lone super-power because we shower and know how to make a decent burger. *end of final rant*

Back on the road, we crossed over the bridge to the Mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh. We drove north-east up the coast of Loch Carron. And we got lost in Plockton. We missed a sign and found ourselves driving up a residential road that dead-ended. (Thank God. If it had been open-ended, we might never have figured out we were headed the wrong way.) We doubled-back and thought we got on the right road, only to find that this one literally dead-ended in a parking lot. We double-backed again, and finally admitted defeat, stopping at the train station. A very nice couple eating in the cafeteria set us back on course.

We took the A890 to the A896 past Lochcarron and Tornapress (though I never actually saw Tornapress). Another little bit of confusion was caused by the fact that there are two small villages named Shieldaig (one off Loch Torridon and one off Loch Gairloch). But we managed to find our way to Annat and our second-to-last hotel. This was the extremely POSH Loch Torridon Country House Hotel. If our first hotel (Castle Inverlochy) was classy, this one was Posh. Less elegant, friendlier, but WOW!

Again, my room and bathroom was huge. Their was a lovely Waterhouse print of Echo and Narcissus hanging over the bathtub. (You can see it at http://www.artmagick.com/paintings/painting1399.aspx) Echo just seems so lovely and forlorn. I really liked it.

And there was a separate shower, thank god. The grounds, which included a pasture for castle, looked over the Loch with the Moutains of Wester Ross rising abruptly above it. They had fresh apples and shortbread in the room, so I partook of both.

7pm
Dinner was formal, but no coat and tie required. I had sparkling water and a free appetizer: a little teacup of Pea Soup. I also had Potato Leak Vichyssoise. Then I took a chance and ordered the Sea Trout. As I've mentioned, I like trout, but I don't like other (non-shell) fish. I didn't know whether SEA trout would taste more like trout or more like fish. But I loved it. Trout rules. Sea or river or whatever. It came with potatos and green beans. Dessert was Apple Cider Sorbet w/a few berries.

10pm
Talked to Beth.

10:30pm
Went to bed. Just nothing on television, you see.

TUNE IN TOMORROW for more adventure. *Here's a preview: "Oatmeal Porridge" "Raining in Ullapool" "Midges in the Gorge" "Bealach-na-ba" "I want to get that guy in a recording studio."*


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 3rd, 2003

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was staying in the stunning Inverlochy Castle and forced to wear a coat and tie to dinner. Life is hard. He's about to begin his first full day in Scotland. This is his story:

I woke up to geese honking. Dozed a bit longer.

6:30am
Wake up call came in. I went to take a shower and like my father before me found that the darn thing was too complicated. Couldn't for the life of me strike a balance between frigid and scalding water.

8am
Room service brought me the breakfast I had ordered the night before. Scrambled eggs on toast. That English Bacon which really is more like ham and way undercooked for my tastes, despite the fact that I had asked for it "crisp". Wheat toast, a chocolate-chip croissant and a regular croissant. Corn flakes.

We hit the road... w/ a couple of problems.

1. While walking to the car, the sole of one of my great old hiking boots split away from the boot itself. I'm now clomping along, with every step. This is actually very upsetting to me. I've had these boots for twenty-five years and they fit like a glove. I've had them resouled once before. But the opportunity to have them fixed doesn't look like it's going to present itself here.

2. As we're driving away in the Bug, its car alarm goes off. Now, let's just consider the wisdom of putting a car alarm in a rental. Now let's consider the wisdom of not having any kind of owner's manual in a rental with a car alarm that seems to go off for no reason whatsoever. This becomes a daily problem for us. Usually in the mornings, but frankly anytime we turn off the engine, we run the risk of the car alarm going off again when we restart the car. And not just once, but usually two or three times. It takes us multiple trial and errors just to figure out how to turn the damn thing off. But we can never quite figure out why sometimes it goes off and sometimes it doesn't.

Our first stop is Neptune's Staircase. A series of locks on the Caledonian Canal. We watch a large boat traverse a couple of the locks. It's really kind of impressive. Cool, slow and impressive.

We leave Torlundy and drive back through Fort William on the A82, unaware that we're also driving through our best chance to fix or replace my boots. We head back along Loch Linnhe and catch a small ferry at Corran across the Loch.

From there it's the A861 past Strontian (the town that gave its name to the element Strontium). The roads now begin to take on a single lane character. That means that when a car's coming in the other direction, one of you needs to pull over. There are plenty of passing places, however, so it's never really a problem for us. But I do think that had we been travelliing in July or August, when there were more tourists about, it might have been a different story.

At Salen, we detour down the B8007 into the Ardnamurchan Penninsula. Our hope is to take this to the Point of Ardnamurchan, the westernmost point of mainland Scotland so that we can see the Egyptian lighthouse there. But we have a time constraint. We need to catch a 2:40pm ferry at Mallaig, and we want to get to Mallaig a bit early, so that we can see about repairing or replacing my boots. So we stop at Ardslignish, look around and take some pictures of the Inner Hebrides in the distance where the Loch turns into the Ocean. Then we turn around without making it to the lighthouse.

From Salen, we head north to Mallaig. We stop at a Tourist Info Center to get boot advise. They send us to the only store they can think of that might have boots. At this store, they literally only have one pair of boots, which are a size too small for me. We ask where else we might go, and the guy suggests Fort William. That's the exact wrong direction for us at this point, so I'm still clomping around. D'oh!

We grab some lunch. I have an amazing plate of Grilled Split jumbo prawns with Goat Cheese. And a coke. One of the best meals of the trip.

Then we board the Ferry to the Isle of Skye. While we're up on the deck, we hear a car alarm go off, and afraid that it's our car, we go to investigate. It's not our car, but it's a good thing we checked. My dad left the parking break off. Woops.

The Ferry ride to Skye takes about a half hour, and the view crossing the Sound is wonderful. (I'm gonna start to sound very redundant about the views. But it truly was gorgeous about 99.9% of the time.)

The ferry lands at Armadale. We try another store for boots there. It's another no go, but the lady recommends a store called Walker & Welles in Broadford, which is at least in a direction we're heading.

We head south a half-mile to stop in at Ardvasar, which is the traditional home of the Macintyre clan, the clan of my good friend Tuppence Macintyre. We stop by the hotel that I believe the Macintyre's used to run (for centuries). Then we head north again on the A851.

Tuppence had recommended another detour, an inland loop toward the northwest coast of the Sleat Penninsula in order to see Dunsgaith Castle. So we headed toward Tarskavaig. Took a right turn there and headed toward Tokavaig. The castle was supposed to be between Tokavaig and Ord. But we hit Ord without spotting either the castle or even a sign for the castle. We thought about turning around, but we had no real hope that we'd find it the second time, so we just kept going and reconnected back up to the 851.

I know it sounds like the day was full of abortive failures. No lighthouse. No castle. No boots. But we didn't really feel that way. We saw so much beautiful scenery. And we just were enjoying the trip.

By this time, we had finished Tup's mix tape. So I popped in the beginning of the KCRW unabridged production of Ross Macdonald's "Zebra-Striped Hearse". This is a Lew Archer novel, directed and starring Harris Yulin, who was great. It also featured Ed Asner as Colonel Blackwell. Plus Jennifer Tilly, Tyne Daly, Kathryn Lloyd, Jodi Thelen, Joey Pants, etc. I had read the book some time ago, and although I remembered the gist of it, it was great to hear. And my dad really enjoyed it too. It's a six cassette tape production, so it would last us nearly the entire trip.

At Broadford we found Walker & Welles. As promised, they had plenty of boots. I found a pair that fit very nicely right off the bat. (And they had many other options.) So I got 'em. Then I... I... I toss my great old boots in a dumpster that stinks of fish. They truly deserved better. I still feel guilty about it. I hope someone found them and salvaged them before they got too smelly.

Back on the road (the A87 now) we drove through Sligachan and headed north to Portree. Now this trip was almost entirely planned by my father's assistant Anita Kelty Nitta (with a few recommendations from Tuppence and Carol Wagner). Anita provided us with directions, and a map that highlit our route and had stickers for all the hotels. But the sticker for our next hotel was in the wrong place. Horrors! We'd have to figure this out for ourselves for once. Fortunately, finding the hotel wasn't a problem. We took the A850 past Skeabost, Flashader, Edinbane and Blackhill and found the Greshornish House Hotel off Loch Greshornish. Dad was given "The Clydesdale Room". I got "The Palomino Room". It's not quite Castle Inverlochy, but it is a big room with a lovely view of the Loch. The people are very nice, as is the short bread cookie.

After checking in, Dad & I went for a short walk. The Midges make their first appearance, but a wind is blowing and they don't bother us much.

We went back to our rooms briefly. I talked to Beth and left a message for the kids.

7:30pm
We head down to the lounge, but cigarette smokers drive us back upstairs until Campbell, the son of the owner, begins playing his bagpipes to summon us to dinner. It's fun. He's standing out by the old cannon in full regalia, playing. Campbell's a very nice, self-deprecating guy.

Dinner is Mussels, Venison, Potatos, Broccoli, Rolls, Chocolate Mousse.

After dinner, we meet some of our fellow guests (the non-smokers) in the Lounge. An older couple from Lincolnshire and a family from Guernsey.

I stayed up that night until 11:45pm watching "Sex and the City". Then went to sleep.

TUNE IN TOMORROW for more adventure. *Here's a preview: "The Old Man of Storr" "Duntulm Castle" "Two reasons why America is ascendant" "The Fairy Flag" "Posh"*


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 2nd, 2003

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2003

When last we left our intrepid hero (i.e. me), he was suffering through an airline trip from LAX to Heathrow Airport in Business Class. He had just changed his watch to match London Time. This is his story:

2am
I read the L.A. Times over a glass of Tomato Juice.

Dinner was soon served. Sourdough rolls & butter, Prociutto & Salmon appetizer (though I didn't eat the Salmon). Prociutto & Shrimp maincourse. There was also a Salad, but the dressing was Ginger, which I'm allergic to, so I skipped that too. Skipped the Rice and Broccoli also. Ate the tomatos. Dessert was Apple Pie with a glass of milk.

Sitting next to me, was a woman flying with her husband. Her daughter and grandson were also on the flight in the first row of coach. They were all on their way to explore London, Oxford, etc. The woman and her husband were both retired professors from UCSD. (He was physics; she was bio-physics.) They were all quite nice. For awhile, Alex, the grandson switched seats with her. He was pretty cool. And I'm not just saying that because both he and his mom were fans (or at least appreciators) of Gargoyles. Though, heck that didn't hurt. Seemed like another good omen. Alex was a bigtime STAR WARS fan, who was writing his own comic book.

Watched three movies on the flight.

IDENTITY - I had seen commercials for this and had predicted the big twist from the commercials. This movie had a great cast led by one of my favorite actors, John Cusack. Rebecca DeMornay was in it too. At first I asked myself if that was her, then I decided it wasn't. Then I found out it was. Weird.

THE ITALIAN JOB - I'd heard good things about this, and I guess it was okay, but I wasn't particularly impressed. Still, the Mini-Coopers were fun. And since the plan for our trip was for my dad and I to rent a Mini-Cooper in Edinburgh and tool around Scotland in it, it seemed to be another good omen that this was on. Best laid plans, as you'll soon see...

ROUTE 60 - A quirky little film that alternated between being annoying and fun. Still, I love allegory and you don't see much of it these days. So I'll thumbs up it.

I tried to sleep a few times, but basically couldn't.

I started reading "SANCTUARY" by William Faulkner. A brutal little pot-boiler that he wrote for the money, then initially couldn't get published because it was too, well, everything. Of course, being Faulkner, even his pot-boilers are high literature. A tough read.

Drank a lot of water.

Eventually, they served breakfast: Grapes, three types of melon (honeydew, cantalope, water), kiwi, croissants w/butter, Peach yoplait, Orange Juice.

We landed at Heathrow in London and had a considerable trip (both by bus and on foot) to change terminals for our connecting flight to Edinburgh.

While waiting, I had an Apple Juice that had the unique taste of the apple juice in the U.K. It's different than in the U.S. It reminded me immediately and viscerally of my semester in Oxford.

Boarded our flight to Scotland. Business class again, bulkhead seat. Don't like the bulkhead, but at least it was Biz.

Fortunately, I was able to sleep. Slept through most of the flight, which was only an hour. So I was still pretty tired.

We arrived in Edinburgh and went to the rental car desk to pick up our Mini-Cooper, which my father had special ordered in advance. It wasn't there. In fact, they had no car for us. Major screw up. My dad was furious, and I just felt bad for him.

But the good news was they had a Grey Volkswagon Beetle available for us. And since it wasn't a special order it cost CONSIDERABLY less. It wound up being a terrific car for us (with a few minor exceptions I'll get to later). So all was for the best. And when I told my kids about it, they got very excited. "Grey punch-buggy, no punch backs," they yelled!

We started our drive. My dad behind the wheel. Me navigating.

We passed through Stirling, the only other Scottish town (besides Edinburgh) that I had ever been to before. But we didn't stop. It was already late afternoon, and we had a ways to drive before we got to our hotel.

We entered the Trossachs area (home to Rob Roy), passing numerous Lochs.

We passed through Glen Coe. My dad is from Glenco, Illinois, and we tried to imagine how Scottish trappers might have seen Lake Michigan and felt like it was home.

We crossed Loch Leven and then drove up the coast of Loch Linnhe, passing through Fort William. The scenery was just gorgeous. And that's exactly why we came. This wasn't going to be a museum trip. With very few exceptions, we weren't here to see anything man-made. My dad's plan for the trip was to see Scotland's natural beauty. Since he was footing the bill, I wasn't complaining. But in truth, I wasn't complaining, cuz it was just terrific. Driving past Linnhe, God parted the clouds and put a spotlight of late afternoon sun on the water. I watched it intensely, half-expecting to see a Selkie or something emerge. No luck. But it was still very gorgeous.

My good friend (and Gargoyles researcher) Tuppence Macintyre had provided us with some travel tips and a mix-tape of Scottish music (modern and otherwise) and even a Robin Williams comedy routine. We played the tape on the way to our hotel. It was great. Only one problem. I couldn't figure out how to get the thing to eject. It literally took me two days to manage it. The stereo was very strange. Every once in a while, for no apparent reason, it would switch off the tape and start playing the radio instead. Other times, when we had it switched off, it would just turn itself on. We'd turn it off again, and it would turn on again. I have no explanation, beyond gremlins. The air-conditioner also sucked. The worst was... well, I'll hold off on that... but those three things were the only problems with the bug. Otherwise, we liked it. In fact, my dad liked it so much, he's considering getting one.

We passed many, many animals. You don't see a lot of sheep alongside the 405 or the 101, so it was kinda novel to us. The sheep in Scotland are nearly ubiquitous. We also saw cows and other "robust cattle", which look almost like Oxen or Yaks or something. We saw rams, swans, horses, geese, etc. No shetland ponies though.

As we got closer to our hotel, my dad, who's only been to Scotland once before, began to say how it was starting to look familiar. Then when we arrived at our hotel, he realized that he had been here before to this hotel. (Don't ask me how he didn't realize it before that moment. It's not surprising if you know him, but it's still goofy.) We were staying at Inverlochy Castle. An actual castle that had been remodeled into a hotel years before. It was, to say the least, an extremely classy joint. (One of the advantages of traveling with my dad is that he tends to go first class all the way.) Dad remembered it as the place where he had a fight with his shower. Being unable to work it, he had started yelling at it. (Now you guys can see where I inherited my limited technical abilities. My dad doesn't even have e-mail.)

My room was amazing. HUGE. With a bathroom bigger than most of the hotel rooms I've ever stayed in. I changed for dinner, as this place required a coat and tie in the dining room. I also left a quick voice mail for Beth to let her know we had arrived.

For Dinner I had sparkling water, mustard seed rolls w/butter, a Lobster cocktail, terrific Potato/Leek soup and Sea Breem with Mussels, shrimp and spinach. Now, the only non-shellfish I really like is trout. But I also don't like lamb which was the other option, so I tried the Sea Breem. Nope. But the mussels, shrimp and spinach were great. Dessert was an Apple tart served with apple puree and fresh pressed apple jus.

Back in the room, I called the kids and talked to them and my Mom, who was baby-sitting. I also called Beth again and talked to her. There was a toffee on my pillow. So, what the heck, I ate that too.

Finally, I went to bed...

TUNE IN TOMORROW for more adventure. *Here's a preview: "English Bacon..." "Neptune's Staircase..." "They deserved better..." "The Zebra-Striped Hearse..." "Campbell on bagpipes..."


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SCOTLAND TRIP: September 1st, 2003

Hey gang,

I'm back from Scotland. As some of you might know, my father (who without exageration has nearly a half-million frequent flyer miles from years and years of business travel) was going to Germany on business and decided to take advantage of the free trip to spend a week in Scotland. I offered to go with him (cuz I'm SO generous), and as my 40th birthday is coming up, he agreed to use some of his miles to take me along.

Thought you might like to hear about my trip. So I'll put together a little Scotland journal. Cover a day per day, that sort of thing. Mostly, I'll talk about what I ate.

And if you're not interested. Well. Then don't read it.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2003
Wasn't going to work, so I got up late (10am). Very slowly showered and shaved. Wasn't even bringing a razor on the trip, so this would be my last shave until today. (For those who haven't seen me since the con, I've shaved off the beard.)

The only problem was that I shaved with a "dead" razor and really cut up my face.

12pm - Walked into Larchmont Village to get a haircut. As an experiment -- and since I wouldn't be seeing anyone but my dad for a week, I got a complete buzzcut. #1 Plastic clippered the whole thing. I think I looked damaged. But Beth and the barber liked it. Though my kids did not. It's still VERY short and takes some definite getting used to.

I went home and packed my duffle bag. And the zipper ripped. Not a good omen. So I repacked in Beth's duffle. Packed my briefcase. Checked the internet briefly.

3pm - The car arrived. I said goodbye to my wife and kids and left.

3:30pm - Arrived at the airport. Checked in. Grabbed some food at McDonalds. Quarter-pounder with cheese, fries, Coke, bake apple pie. Started eating at the gate.

My dad met me there. He saw my haircut and liked it. I was able to upgrade to Business Class at the gate, which was a GOOD omen. Then he and I sat and talked.

5:30pm - We boarded. He was in First Class (payed by the German company he works for). I was in the last row of Biz. The seats are almost too high tech to figure out, but man biz-class rules. Had a glass of water and we took off.

Immediately, I reset my watch to Scottish time. Which means that's it for Monday.

Read about Tuesday tomorrow... (Here's a preview: "sourdough..." "Route 60..." "No punch backs..." "Inverlochy Castle...")


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SCOTLAND BOUND

Hey gang,

Just a quick note to let you know I won't be answering questions here next week. I'm off to Scotland with my dad. We're renting a car and driving along the west coast and the Isle of Skye.

I'll keep an eye out for Wyvern Hill.

And I'll be back in the office, answering questions on September 8th.

Take care,


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Addendum...

Sorrowful Jones! How could I forget to mention Sorrowful Jones?!

Those are probably my two favorite Bob Hope movies, "The Lemon-Drop Kid" and "Sorrowful Jones". Of course, as some of you know, I'm a sucker for a Damon Runyon story in general. Many members of my family were Damon Runyon characters.

Also, today my brother was kind enough to plug ASK GREG, so it's more than high-time that I return the favor.

If you like Baseball -- and especially if you like the Dodgers -- you might want to check out his website, where he writes a daily column about dealing with the emotional trauma, the highs and lows of being a baseball fan. I never miss a day.

Check out:

http://jonthoughts.blogspot.com/

(I wish I knew how to make the above an actual link. But you guys all know how to cut and paste.)


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BRUSH WITH GREATNESS

When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in Palm Springs. My brother and sister and I had been staying with them (without our parents), but it was time to head home to L.A.

We were flying. A short flight, a small plane. We got to preboard, because we were unaccompanied minors. One other guy got to pre-board. Bob Hope. Cuz, well... cuz he was Bob Hope.

My grandmother, Sue Weisman -- who is now a healthy 93 years old -- approached Mr. Hope and without hesitation asked him to watch over her three grandchildren during the flight. Keep in mind this was about three decades ago. Bob Hope was a HUGE star. I have no idea what he thought of the request, but he was very gracious and agreed.

The plane had two seats on either side of the aisle. So my younger siblings, Robyn and Jon, sat next to each other in the front row to the right of the aisle. I have no memory of who got the window seat and who got the aisle seat between them. But I know where I sat. I sat in the front row aisle seat across from them. (I was the oldest, so I was the one sitting alone.) Sitting next to me was Bob Hope. Now, this was a night time flight. And not crowded. I remember very clearly that I was kinda annoyed by the seating arrangements. I had flown before, but I had never flown at night and I was young enough to think I'd have a better look at the stars and the moon. So I had really, really wanted a window seat. I also can't imagine that Bob Hope's first choice would have been to sit next to a bunch of kids.

But we both made the best of it. I told him that I had actually seen him on tv twice the previous day. (Again, remember, he was a huge star then, so this was not unusual.) His golf tournament was during the day, and he had been on a Dean Martin Roast the previous night. He explained to me that the Roast had been recorded weeks before.

That's about all I remember. And I'm sure in the next few days you'll see and read a bunch of much more efficacious and worthwhile tributes to the man. There are a couple movies of his, "The Lemon-Drop Kid" in particular, that I truly cherish. And his work with the USO is unparalleled.

But I just thought I'd add this: He was a man that my grandmother could trust with her grandkids. And I think that's saying something.

Rest in peace, Bob.


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G2003 Journal (7/2 - 7/6)

WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 2003:

I got up to pack. My poor little duffle was really busting at the seams given how many books, t-shirts and videotapes I had picked up. But it held.

We had time to go into town for one last round of Tacos and Ice Cream.

Then we took our Cape Air flight to Boston.

Had a layover, so, well, of course, I ate again. Airport Whopper and an Orange. An actual orange.

Got on a flight to Los Angeles. The movie was "Chicago". We had been debating as to whether or not to take the kids to see this film, so we just let them watch. I liked it. So did they.

When it was over I started reading William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying". Great book.

We arrived home very late. Put the kids to bed. Then I started to read/skim about two weeks worth of newspapers.

Finally went to bed.

THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2003:

Went to my local bookstore and retreived our pre-ordered copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. We still hadn't finished rereading Goblet of Fire to the kids, so we wouldn't end up starting Phoenix for a bit. We've since started it. We just got through the Hearing. Good stuff. But man, this series has grown up some, huh?

We had vague plans to meet some old friends at Disneyland, but we were just to beat to face the traffic down to Anaheim. So I didn't see my friend Iris. Didn't see Bruce Cranston in New York. Or Paul Lacy. Or Dan Raspler. Or my NY cousins. But I didn't feel ripped off. I saw Lianne and Doug and I've made so many friends among the fandom, that my time was full.

FRIDAY, JULY 4, 2003:

Independence Day. We had two parties to go to. First the Ehrlich's, then the Resnicks. Ate a ton. I mean, a ton. Steak, multiple pies. And a lot more too. Saw some fireworks. Finished reading Faulkner.

SATURDAY, JULY 5, 2003:

I've now grown a bit obssessed with LXG. So I went out and bought a trade paperback, "Heroes & Monsters" at Golden Apple Comics (a place I used to go into weekly, but which I haven't entered in years) that annotated Alan Moore's series. Still haven't seen the movie.

Benny bought some English translation of some Anime cartoon. CardCaptors, I think. Erin bought an Archie digest. She's now addicted to Archie digests.

That night we had guests over for dinner. One Thom Adcox. Plus the wife and daughter of Josh Silver, Keith David's manager. This was a get together we had planned weeks ago, but Josh couldn't make it because he "had" to fly to London to spend time with Keith, who's there shooting Cody Banks 2.

It was a very nice evening. And great to see Thom again. I have got to see him more often. We walked into Larchmont Village for Baskin Robbins. I had a chocolate chip milkshake with bannannanna.

SUNDAY, JULY 6, 2003

Erin and Benny had a play date at our house with the two Sperling kids. I hadn't seen Carol yet, so I didn't have the card for them that you guys all made.

Their mom rejoined us and we all went to Sinbad. Which was truly mediocre, I thought.

One week later, I took the card and the Radio Play script over to them. They were VERY appreciative. Gary's son immediately sat down to read the script. And they liked all the pictures on the card. So you all did a nice thing. Thank you.

And, well, that's my summer vacation...


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G2003 Journal (7/1)

TUESDAY, JULY 1, 2003:

Woke up and like an addict went back to Krispy Kreme in Penn Station for three (or, okay, maybe four more donuts).

At 9am I met Carol, Greg Bishansky and Aaron out in front of the hotel for what would turn out to be "Mr. Bishansky's Wild Ride".

Greg had originally wanted to leave at 9:30. But I had an 11:35 flight out of LaGuardia to catch, and not wanting to take any chances, I insisted on 9:00 sharp.

Said goodbye to Carol and Aaron and wound up leaving about 9:10ish.

Greg had directions. He also had a car that was making a real odd noise, but he assured me it was driving fine. When it started stalling periodically, I got a bit nervous, but he was always able to start it right up again, so I hid my concerns.

We talked. Mostly, as I recall about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It was nice and I wasn't paying very close attention to where we were going. Until I happened to look up and notice we were at 8th and 24th. I couldn't figure out why he had taken us this far west and south. He apologized. Said the directions were confusing, but now he was on the right track. However when we passed the hotel again at 9:45, I figured I better start navigating.

To be fair, there were a number of street closures that kept screwing us up. And then came the accident, which was absolutely NOT Greg's fault. We were waiting at a red light, when a commercial van sideswiped Greg's car, clipping off his driver's side mirror. We pulled over. The van driver got out, but instead of coming to see us, he ran over to a bus and started yelling at the driver. It was kinda like cosplay. He clearly wanted us to think that somehow the accident was the bus driver's fault. But we were at a dead stop when he hit us, so even if he was cut off, there's no way that hitting us wasn't HIS fault. Period.

Anyway, while he yelled at the bus, which ignored him and drove off, I wrote down his license plate and the truck owner info for Greg. The guy then came over and threw a twenty at Greg, saying "Here's twenty to fix your mirror and besides this was NOT my fault."

Now, I was faced with a moral dilemma, that one could argue I failed at. Neither Greg nor I thought that $20 would fix his mirror. I should have advised him to get out of the car and exchange Drivers license and insurance info with the van driver. And absolutely NOT to accept the $20 as a payment. But Greg seemed willing to move on, and I was seriously concerned about how late it was getting. So I let Greg drive on. My bad.

Also my bad for using the expression my bad. Uggghhh.

I directed Greg to the Midtown Tunnel, asking if he knew how to get to the airport from there. He said yes. This would prove to be something of a little white lie.

We pull up to the toll booth just beyond the tunnel. Greg digs for the $4 to pay the toll and I yell, "STOP!" Too late. He rear ends the car in front of him. Okay, now this one was TOTALLY Greg's fault. I'd be more upset, but even then, I'm thinking, "Two accidents en route to the airport. This is so out there. It'll make a great story for ASK GREG."

Anyway, the victim pulls over while we pay our toll. I'm focused on him, and am only peripherally aware of Greg getting directions to LaGuardia from the Toll Booth Guy. In the back of my mind it occurs to me that Greg may not quite know what he's doing.

Fortunately, there was no damage to the victim's car. He drove off. We drove off. We then missed our exit (17) to change freeways for LaGuardia. The next exit was closed. The remaining glass in Greg's broken mirror was flapping around in the wind, so I finally asked him to just pull it off before it took out one of our jugulars.

We got off at exit 19 and turned around to head back. No U turn of course. So I made my second morally challenged call of the day and basically ordered Greg to make an illegal U. He did. We got back on the freeway.

As we approached exit 18 (Morris Street, I think), Greg was sure he knew how to get to LaGuardia from there. I asked him twice, as our exit was supposed to be 17. But he was sure. He got off. And almost immediately said, "I don't recognize anything." I said, "Greg, you're killing me here." But I think I was still half joking at that point.

We turned around and got back on the freeway to head for 17. Major traffic jam now. Greg says, "Lucky, you're flight doesn't leave until noon." I kinda blow a small gasket and remind him at leaves at 11:35. As it was now 10:35, I felt that we should be there already, given security lines and all.

We finally reach 17. He heads west. And again, immediately says he doesn't recognize anything. Without asking, he gets off the freeway again. This time when I say, "Greg, you're killing me here!" I'm really not joking at all. I'm pretty pissed off. (Of course, this time it turns out he was right. We were heading the exact wrong direction. So it was a very good thing that he got off.)

Greg was looking for someone to give us directions. The first guy he asked spoke no English, but the second guy actually gave us GREAT directions. Thank you, stranger.

We got back on the freeway, heading East. But by the time he dropped me off at the airport departure level it was 11:10. Let me just say that two hours to get to LaGuardia from Penn Station is not really making good time, especially considering we only hit two little bursts of traffic.

Anyway, he went to park in case, as now seemed likely, I missed my flight. I went inside. There was a huge line at U.S.Airways, so I approached one of those e-ticket check in machines, but it said you needed a frequent flyer card for that. So then I approached the guy manning the EMPTY first class line. I asked if he would help me, explaining that though I was not a first class passenger, my flight was leaving in twenty minutes and I didn't think I'd make it through the coach line in time.

His response: "Well, you got to wait in the line."

I have to admit, I was a little stunned that he wouldn't help me. I must have given him a look, cuz he said, or you can use the machines. I explained that I didn't have a FF card. He said any credit card would do.

I returned to the machine. I rechecked and it in fact said that I had to have a FF card. But I tried my credit card and it worked fine. Took a minute tops. So the whole thing about needing an FF card is just a trick basically to encourage people to get and/or use their FF cards. Stupid.

Luckily there was no line to speak of at security, and they didn't strip search me or anything, so soon I was running for my gate. It was 11:25 at this point. So it could really go either way. I arrived at the gate -- which was literally the last one in the terminal of course, only to discover that the flight was delayed forty minutes.

Here, I'm torn between happy and upset. After all, I was there against all odds. But mostly I'm just happy I didn't miss it. So I settle down. I call Greg and tell him to go home. All is well, no harm done. I call my father-in-law to let him know that my flight to Nantucket is delayed.

I know I ate again. Can't remember what though.

Got on the plane and arrived in Nantucket.

No one was waiting for me, but their house is so close, I figured they must be on their way and there was no point in calling. So a half hour later, I called, by which time they were -- just -- on their way to get me.

Still, I was there. Went back to the house, then went with my mother-in-law to spend some time with my kids on the beach. I was supposed to watch them and make sure they didn't drown. But I could tell I was drowsy, so I relinquished my responsibility to my mother-in-law and took a little nap.

For dinner that night my in-laws cooked up live New England Lobsters. So good. Then we went into town for some ice cream with the kids. I had a hot fudge sundae with chocolate chip ice cream.

We came back to the house. And pretty much all just went to bed. That was the first night on the entire trip that I went to bed before 1am.

THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES... OR AT LEAST THE VACATION DOES... TOMORROW!


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G2003 Journal (6/30)

MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2003:

Today, in the middle of my two week vacation was a work day -- or at least half of one.

I got up and headed back to Krispy Kreme for more donuts. Then I walked to midtown for my first meeting.

Then I had a meeting at MTV. Just what we call a Meet & Greet. Hi. Nice to meet you. Hope we get to work together some day. It was nice, and they're doing some interesting stuff. So I do hope I get to work with them someday. I talked to her (I'm not giving names on purpose) about the project that Vic and Greg and I have, but I didn't pitch it, as we're waiting to see if Warners wants to sign on and pitch it to MTV with us.

Then I had time to kill. I had passed Midtown Comics on my way to MTV, so I headed back there. I don't frequent comic book stores, much these days. Wound up quitting that world more or less cold turkey in 1996. But the commercials for "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" movie had intrigued me. When the "FROM HELL" movie came out, I didn't go see it, but I went into a bookstore and bought Alan Moore's graphic novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had been haunting bookstores for League, thinking that the movie would bring the GN into similar wide release. Hadn't been able to find it, so I finally broke down and entered a comic book store. Midtown Comics is a great looking store. I found LXG immediately, and then looked around. It's the same old thing for me. I'm out of the world and too far behind. If I started buying anything (on impulse that is) I'd have to buy EVERYTHING. So I stuck to my original purchase.

Then it was up to William Morris for my meeting with DAG Entertainment. Me and the DAG guys really hit it off. We spent a good chunk of time talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, how much we liked the series and how disappointed we were in the final episode. (My main gripe: too much to fit into one hour; it should have been a two-parter.) They talked about a project they had that they were interested in me working on. It sounded cool, and now that I'm back (two weeks later) it looks like I actually got a job thanks to the Gathering.

We talked so long, I realized I was going to be late for my next meeting. I called ahead and then took off rather abruptly.

Soon enough I arrived at Noodlesoup Productions to meet with the guys there. It was another really fun Meet & Greet. I hope to do some work someday with these guys too.

After that it was back to the hotel. I was supposed to meet up with my old friend Bruce Cranston, a former Disney boss of mine who now lives on the East. But his daughter was sick, so he had to cancel.

I decided to head for McDonalds. I ran into Mandi in the lobby, and she kept me company at McD's. It didn't seem to air-conditioned, so we took the food back to my room. I ate and then felt VERY sleepy. I didn't want to find myself sleeping through the play that night, so I kicked Mandi out to take a nap.

Only, I didn't fall asleep. Oh, well.

We now segue right into dinner. Dreamie, Carol, Patrick, Karlyle, Liz, Kelly and Montreal Rob all headed to P.J.Clark's, which was one of my haunts back when I lived in NYC. It was a place I always went to with my dad for burgers, whenever he came to town. And the last time I was there was probably in 1996, when I dragged Keith David and a few other folks there after a Gargoyles event (sort of a pre-Gathering) at a Gallery in Queens. Had a great burger.

But then Carol and Patrick and I had to hustle to attend Shakespeare in the Park. We raced uptown via subway, and then took a cab across the Park. We got out and ran to the Delacourt Theater. Fortunately, Carol had already picked up our tickets (a gift from Keith David and his manager Josh Silver).

The show was really terrific. Liev Shrieber was great as a conflicted Henry V. The rest of the cast, especially the Chorus, was also great. And I loved the production -- with the small exception of a gratuitous direct reference to Bush & Hussein. It was so unnecessary.

After the show, the three of us hung out. We walked around, past another one of my old apartment buildings, this one on Amsterdam near 76th. The neighborhood has changed so dramatically since I lived there my first summer in New York. Then I realized that it has been TWENTY YEARS, so I suppose it's entitled to change in that much time. But suddenly I felt old.

Back at the hotel, the three of us watched, uh, THE BLUES BROTHERS Movie or something on tv, while we killed off the last of the bottled water Carol had given me on Thursday and the last of the Peanut M&Ms that Kathy had given my on Sunday.

Then I kicked 'em out. I read some of LXG. Again it fit the theme of the rest of my reading this week. Mixing new fiction with old fiction, legends and history. Alan Moore, a writer I've long admired, seems interested in the same sorts of things I am. ALL THINGS ARE TRUE. Creating a grand tapestry of characters that can interact. But I was stunned at the breadth of his knowledge. For example, I was surprised to see that he had portrayed Captain Nemo as an Indian. I had read 20K Leagues and had not gotten that impression. Turns out, that in Mysterious Island, Verne establishes Nemo's ethnicity. And that's just the most obvious example. The research represented in this work is nothing short of MASSIVE. All I can say is... thank god I've got Kathy Pogge to do my research for me. I'm way too slow a reader to cover that much ground.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed the book. I haven't seen the movie yet, and some of the changes seem needless and less-than-helpful. Still, you can't ask for better Quatermain casting then Connery, so I'll keep an open mind.

TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR GREG & GREG'S HARROWING "ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK..."

It's the entry Bishansky's been dreading for the last two weeks...


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G2003 Journal (6/29)

SUNDAY, June 29, 2003:

Got up relatively late.

Made a couple more attempts to get into see the Othercon art, and still couldn't.

Went down into Penn Station to the Krispy Kreme store. Now, the thing is I've gotten Krispy Kreme's at a bunch of different places (Dodger Stadium, in particular). But I've never been to an actual Krispy Kreme store where I got their full line-up of donuts to choose from. I restrained myself and only bought and ate three. (And you wonder why I put on 11 pounds over a two week vacation.)

Speaking of sweet treats... PEANUT M&M'S. All weekend long, various different people walked up to me and kept handing me little bags of Peanut M&M's. I happen to really like Peanut M&M's so I was fine with the thing. But it started to get a little weird. Particularly when I left the judges table Saturday night with Vic and Thom to make our costuming picks, only to come back and find a huge pile of those little yellow bags on the table. (We gave them out as prizes for the costume/cosplay contest.) It's not like I minded, but I was pretty stumped as to who or what was behind it all. Eventually, Kathy Pogge revealed herself as the culprit. Seemed I had made one offhand comment at some point about how I was more of a peanut M&M guy than a regular M&M guy. And she ran with it. Hey, free food. I won't complain!

Anyway, after Krispy Kreme I headed up to Auction and Signing. Not many autographs to sign. I guess most people have my signature already. It was nice to see the materials for my Team Atlantis episode "THE LAST" (copies of my director's script, the Demona redesign, the audio-tape of the cast recording and the partial storyboard) all go for a whopping $740 to IRC GOLIATH.

But then it was time for Vic and I to take the elevator down for our last panel.

Speaking of elevators, it seemed odd at first that most of the elevators had t.v. sets playing CNN non-stop. Except that by the end of the weekend, if I got into one of the elevators that didn't, it really felt like something was missing. I'll never forget where I was when I learned that Katharine (note the spelling) Hepburn had died. In an elevator, watching CNN.

Anyway I finally got down to see the Othercon art. A bunch of people, Hudson in particular, watched me watch the art. Having an audience, while being an observer, was a little strange. I think they thought my head was supposed to explode or something. But I just thought it was pretty cool. I smiled and moved on. They all seemed very disappointed.

Next was the Team Atlantis panel. We showed the materials that Seth had just won in the auction and I played the tape of "THE LAST" which went over very well. I'm bummed that Disney never made the series and that episode, giving you guys another shot at seeing Demona on the screen. But I'm glad we at least got as far as recording the episode, so that I have a radio play to add to my opening ceremonies tapes every year. We also showed some clips from the new Atlantis DVD, featuring many garg voice actors, including Tom Wilson, Clancy Brown and Morgan Shepherd as a guy who thinks he's Odin.

Back upstairs for Closing Ceremonies, which is always bittersweet. I gave one last speech, trying to rouse the crowd to register for G2004. The new staff, by the way, is already in high gear. Montreal is going to be great. You don't want to miss it.

But I think my speech was just so-so. I remember the fire&brimstone thing I did in Florida to try and sell G2001 in L.A. I think I had the whole crowd on their feet that day. Sometimes you just can't recapture the magic.

But I'm amazed at how often you can. I think that's one of the many, many reasons why the Gathering is so fun for me every year. (Of course 72 hours of non-stop adulation might have something to do with it too.)

I said good-bye to some people. The auction restarted. No one had bid on my kids' painted ceramics. (Though they shared third place in the 3-D category.) So I tossed their pieces in with mine at the charity auction. I think Uriel picked them all up for about $40. I was grateful that someone wanted them. But this may not have been my most intelligent charitable contribution. It cost me $70 to make the things. Plus I had to give each kid $5 as their "profit". So next time, maybe I'll just hand the con $40 instead of trying to be so creative. They'll make more and I'll lose less. We also auctioned off a signed Atlantis poster, and scripts from "The Journey" and "The Reckoning". But I don't remember what they sold for.

Somewhere in here, I missed saying goodbye to Thom. So I said goodbye to Vic instead, even though he wasn't actually leaving NYC for another day.

Next up was our school field trip. There were 27 of us total, including myself, Kathy, Patrick, Kelly, Liz, Sean, Montreal Rob, Leo, BrooklynMagus, Mandi, Sarah, Erik, Dylan, Wingless, Seth, Ayami, Ethan, BiZZ and... and... well, more.

I was very concerned about someone getting lost, so I was constantly counting heads. A nightmare.

We stopped first at Ground Zero. I'd love to say I was blown away. But to be honest, I felt so distant from the place most of the time. I think it's too immense. And it looks too much (now) like a construction site. Plus so much is gone, I couldn't get my bearings. Couldn't picture what I remembered. It was so unreal, I guess. I think I was more effected by the effect it had on BrooklynMagus than the effect it had on me.

Back on the subway then, the 27 of headed for Coney Island. We arrived and split up, agreeing to meet back at 10pm to find out who wanted to stay and who wanted to go. I immediately knew I'd be wanting to go at 10pm. (I must really be getting old.) It just occured to me that I'd rather spend those hours hanging out and talking than spinning around on the kinds of rides I could go on at any county fair.

But Kathy and Patrick and Wingless and Seth and I tried to hit the things that really made Coney Island special, i.e. the original Nathans, the Cyclone and the AstroTower. Missed out on the Ferris Wheel, which I only realized after the fact was unique. We took a walk down the boardwalk and then met up with everyone. Miraculously, all 27 people showed up and all wanted to go. So we did.

Made our way back to the hotel. I did a final headcount and we scattered. A bunch of people joined me on my pancake hunt, but all I can say is "City that never sleeps, my foot!" Places were closed or closing right and left. We couldn't find a diner. We couldn't even find an ice cream parlor. Finally, we found an open ice cream place deep below Penn Station in the Labyrinth. Well, actually near the LIRR. After sheparding 27 people all night long, it seemed for a good long five minutes that we had lost Kathy somewhere underground. But she showed up with Popeye's chicken in hand. I was inclined to be cross until she offered to share. (I'm such a food whore.)

We all wanted to drop stuff off in our rooms and then hang out. So we agreed to meet in the Consuite in ten minutes. I was there, right outside the door, when Mandi came out. She needed a drug store and no one would go with her, so she and I went on a trek to a 24 hour pharmacy that made the Pancake hunt look like child's play. By the time I got back to the consuite, most of the people I had agreed to meet up with weren't there. Those present were quietly focused on some anime. Wasn't in the mood, so I headed off to bed. Not a big deal, but I do want everyone to know that I didn't blow you off on purpose.

TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR GREG'S FURTHER ADVENTURES IN THE CITY THAT SEEMS TO SLEEP A LITTLE...


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G2003 Journal (6/28)

SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2003:

Each day better than the last...

Again, I got up for a staff meeting, and I remember getting together outside the London room. But that's all I remember.

At 10am, Thom and Carol and I held another round of auditions with Emambu running the line, and auditioning.

At 11am, Thom and I helped Carol bring the Disney-loaned Gargoyles Development and Production artwork up to the Art room. I took another look at the art in the room. Some very cool stuff, particularly Niamgold's face cards. (But I really want her to finish the deck with a different canon character on every card. I mean we must have 52 characters easy, right?)

No bids on Erin and Benny's art. Uh oh.

Then Thom and Carol and I retreated to my room to cast the Radio Play, posting copies of the cast list at noon in multiple locations around the con.

I made several attempts to get into the Othercon art room, but kept finding the door locked.

At 12:30m I held a Starship Trooper/3x3 Eyes Q&A. I showed some DVD clips from both series, in particular featuring voice work by Gargoyles Voice Actors. Also showed some funny videos on 3x3. That Gap add still cracks me up.

But there weren't many questions for me on Troopers or 3x3. So we wound up just talking about whatever.

At 2pm, Vic and I held the Series Development Panel. This was nice. I showed the New Olympian, Gargoyles and Dark Ages pitches again. I also showed the Bad Guys reel again. And Vic and I showed the new show we're trying to sell now (with Greg Guler). It got a pretty good response. Hopefully, we'll sell it and be able to tell you about it soon.

At 3:30, the cast gathered for our radio play rehearsal. There wasn't enough time, because of various delays. But I could tell that they were quick studies.

At 5pm (or near enough to that, as we started late), we performed the Radio Play. This year as a tribute to Gary Sperling we performed his script of THE RECKONING.

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Gathering Players:

ANGELA - Jill "Leopard" Friedman
DEMONA - Batya "The Toon" Wittenberg
GOLIATH - Stephen Sobotka, Jr.
THAILOG - Carter Moore
BROOKLYN - Sarah the Great
MALIBU - Lanny Fields
TALON - William "Revel" Anson
FANG - Alex "Simon DelMonte" Wittenberg
ELISA - Vashkoda
DELILAH - Mandi Ohlin
HUDSON - Erik "Emambu" Mambu
BURBANK - Eric "Gorebash" Tribou
BROADWAY - Adam Leigh
HOLLYWOOD - Greg "GXB" Bishansky
CLAW - Seth Jackson
BRENTWOOD - Anthony "Archangel" Zucconi
LEXINGTON - Gabriel Guerrero
and Thom Adcox as DR. ANTON SEVARIUS

Everyone was great. Seth was really cast as an understudy in case someone didn't show, but I knew he would get a great laugh as Claw. And in fact he got TWO great laughs as Claw. One when he entered and one where he stood silently for his part.

Thom was fun as Sevarius. In the rehearsal, Thom and Carter did this very funny extended laughing sequence that cracked us all up. They did it again during the performance, but didn't sustain it as long. Oh, well.

But the show went great. Liz Chesterman also drew a big card up for Gary Sperling's kids, which everyone signed (and which Carol got to drag home for me). I'll give it to them next week and let you know their response. But thanks everyone who signed and special thanks to Liz and Carol.

At the Banquet, I sat with Lexy, GXB, Spacebabie and Revel and... ugh, I'm sorry, I can't remember. Pretty good food. I really liked the rice especially for some reason. I was quiet. It was a perfect example of how I'm really pretty shy in social situations. If someone had started asking me questions about Gargs or whatever, you couldn't have shut me up. But I'm lousy at small talk. Thank God, Revel was there to carry the conversation, or we would have been darn silent. (Of course, by this time everyone was tired and stuffing their faces too.)

We had a great Q&A with myself, Thom, Vic and Nichelle Nichols. Unsurprisingly, most of the questions were for her. (After all, you can get to me, Vic and Thom all the time.) And she was just great. Very gracious and warmly funny. We talked a bit about Mark of the Panther. My memories of it and hers. And she talked about Star Trek, her science fiction novels, her singing and a bunch of other stuff.

The Masquerade started at about 9:45, I think. Fewer costumes then previous years, but what their was was cherce.

Revel as Vinnie and Spacebabie as Hunter won cutest couple. (And picturing Vinnie hitting on Robyn Canmore, cracked me up.)

Cosplay prize went to Patrick as Anastasia and Karine as Fox. They were hilarious. Patrick also won the Gorelisa Memorial Award... for like the third time or something. We've got to get this guy some decent panty hose.

The Thom Adcox Memorial award went to Rob.
The Greg Guler Memorial award went to Nikki Owens.
Best Costume went to Kyt.

After the Masquerade, a few of us (me, Thom, Lanny, Patrick, Kathy and Carol) headed down to my old haunts in the West Village. The place was packed. We walked past my old apartment building. Then we went and had a second dinner at the Caliente Cab Company. Great Guac, man.

Afterwards we returned to the hotel. We all planned on going back to bed, but those of us on the 11th floor found ourselves talking in the hallway, too jazzed to go to sleep. So I invited the small group (me, Thom, Gabriel, Lanny and Kathy) into my room. We talked WAY into the night. Thom finally went to bed, I think around 3am. I think I kicked everyone out at 3:30. But I don't think I got to sleep until 4:30. It was like being in college again. Very neat...

TUNE IN TOMORROW AS GREG IS TRANSFORMED INTO THE AMAZING "DEN-MOTHER"...


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G2003 Journal (6/27

FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 2003:

So I remembered what I did after dinner the night before. And since technically it was after midnight, it's kinda okay that I'm putting it in this entry.

I read. I had finished two novels in Nantucket: THE DANTE CLUB and THE DAVINCI CODE. And I started a third, THE SINISTER PIG by Tony Hillerman. I finished that one late Thurs/early Fri.

Normally, I'm a big Hillerman fan, but I have to say this book was weak. No mystery, since he gives it away. Little suspense, since we know that our heroes have allies. Omniscient narrator, so it doesn't have the unique dual protagonist structure that makes his books so neat. Almost nothing of Navajo culture. And worst of all, Bernie was turned into a damsel in distress. YUCK.

Also, it didn't fit the pattern of my other reading for the vacation, i.e. that mix of fact, legend and fiction, which was one of the hallmarks of the first two books and of the Gargoyles series. ALL THINGS ARE TRUE.

Still, I so rarely get to read for pleasure, it was nice to put away three books.

Anyway, back to Friday...

I woke up at 8am, which wasn't easy. But I knew I wasn't going to get much sleep this weekend.

At 9, I was down in the consuite for the staff breakfast that didn't materialize because there were other more pressing things to do. I helped stuff and alphabetize envelopes instead.

After that, around 10:30am, Kathy and Carol and I went down to the hotel Lindy's for a WAY-overpriced meal that included fermented tomato juice. Kathy insisted on paying, which was very, very nice of her, if unneccesary.

Around 11:30, I stopped by the art room to drop off the ceramic figures that Erin, Benny and I had painted for the con. Mine was just on display -- but was destined for the charity auction on Sunday. It was a gargoyle that I dubbed (at the last minute) "No-Name". Erin had also done a gargoyle; she had painted glasses on it, so I named it "Four Eyes". Benny had done a fairy, which I named "Junebug" after one of the fairies in our back yard at home. The kids weren't donating their art to the charity auction. They wanted to get paid for theirs. More on this Sunday.

At 1:30pm I had a Mug-A-Guest up in the Skytop room. Answered a few questions in my long-winded fashion. It was fun.

Then at 2:30 I went downstairs to join Thom for a Voice Acting Seminar. This was fun. We answered questions, but we also workshopped a number of pieces including the Demona audition side, a Griff/Leo/Una/Goliath scene from MIA, a Lex/Tom/Mary/Brooklyn/Demona scene from Awakening One and a Lex/Goliath/Brooklyn/Broadway/Hudson scene from Thrill.

It was fun and we discovered two exceptional actresses, Jill & Rachael. Unfortunately, Rachael actually got a paying acting gig so she wouldn't be around for the Radio Play.

After that, at 4pm, Thom and Carol and I held the first round of auditions, with Archangel and I think Chyna acting as our volunteers, managing the line.

We had some really great people, but I couldn't help missing some of our missing long-standing Gathering Players: Jen, Jubes, Zehra, Zach Baker, Jordan Mann, etc.

Kathy brought Thom and I Nathans hot dogs from downstairs for lunch. So I think she paid for two of my meals that day. Uh. Thanks AGAIN!!

6:30 brought Opening Ceremonies. The G2003 staff intro'd themselves. And then the G2004 staff (led by Karine and Kelly) did the same. I'm already excited about the Montreal con. I hope all of you will be there.

Then it was my turn. I took hand counts of con virgins, 2nd timers, third timers, fourth timers, fifth timers, sixth timers and those absolutely HEROIC SEVENTH TIMERS. It was great to see people like Noel, Patrick, Karine and others raise their hands.

But it again made me think of those MIA that I missed. All those listed above and also Derek, Christine, Tim and Becca Morgan, Spike, Pogo and Aimee, Kenna, Steph, Cindy, etc. I'll admit it. I'm greedy. I want them all back!

I read letters from Greg Guler and Brigitte Bako, both announced guests that unfortunately had to pull out at the last minute. They said some nice stuff.

Then I did the Video Presentation AGAIN. Garg pitch. Garg promo. Garg presentation. Dark Ages Pitch. New Olympians Pitch. Bad Guys Reel. It was fun for the Virgins. Fun for the old hands. Fun for me. My resolution for next year is to stop apologizing for showing the same stuff over and over. If people don't want to see it they can leave the room.

After opening ceremonies, a group of us (me, Carol, Kathy, Patrick, Mandi and Vic) went to a restaurant called AMERICA, which was one of my favorite places to eat back when I lived in NYC. It was empty, which was weird, since back in the day, the place was always packed. The food was still great, so it just must be out of fashion. I had popcorn shrimp and pulled pork and tastes of a bunch of other stuff. As a table we shared like six deserts including apple pie, cheesecake, brownie alamode, and Death-By-Chocolate. Also, my college friend Doug joined us for dinner. I hadn't seen him in years, so it was great to catch up, especially at America, a place he and I used to go to with some frequency.

After Dinner, time was short so we hustled back to the hotel (sorry, Mandi). Thom and I held our "Blue Mug" which was a real blast. People try to shock me, but it isn't easy to do. I suppose by now, most of you have heard the big revelation of the night: that Lexington is Gay. I hadn't planned on revealing it, but a direct question was asked and so I gave a direct answer. We had an intelligent mature conversation about it -- spiked with lots of laughter. I was really sorry when the Security Guard broke us up around 2am, and in hindsight even sorrier that none of us took him up on the offer to check with the front desk for permission to continue.

Still it was late. I went to bed. But I was so juiced it took me another couple hours to crash.

TUNE IN TOMORROW AS OUR YOUNG MAESTRO GATHERS HIS PLAYERS...


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G2003 Journal (6/26)

THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 2003:

Having been on Nantucket for a few days already, you'd think I'd be on Eastern time. But nope, not me. I'd been going to bed ridiculously late -- even by my standards, and getting up, well, let's just say before noon (but not much before).

But today, to catch my plane I had to set the alarm for 5:30am.

I had a very eclectic breakfast: an egg yolk, bacon, a bananna, Apple Juice, a slice of turkey, Cranberry Jello and a Three Musketeers bar at the Nantucket Airport (the setting for the tv series "WINGS").

My flight was supposed to be a non-stop to La Guardia, but the flight number got changed and I wound up on a puddle-jumper that stopped in Hyannis before heading off to New York. This was not a problem for me, but caused panic with Mara and the Bishanskys who were waiting to pick me up in Queens. They had forgotten that I was coming from Nantucket, and assumed that I was on a flight from SoCal. But the now-non-existant flight number they were given didn't match with a California flight. And because of the stopover in Hyannis, I was getting in later than they expected. So they thought they missed me.

Of course, when I did get in I just sauntered off the plane and Alex recognized me, calling over to his mom and Mara. They were very apologetic. But since, I never knew there was a problem, I was fine.

En route to the hotel, Greg & Alex's mom told this story about the "Underwear Cowboy" who hangs out in Times Square. Just as she finished telling us about this guy, we drove past him. I would wind up seeing him again later in the trip.

We arrived at the Hotel Pennsylvania and checked in. Carol Wagner (guest coordinator extraordinaire) was waiting and handed me the huge quantity of stuff that I had more or less coerced her into taking to New York, so that I wouldn't have to. (Thanks, Carol, for everything.)

My room was nice. Not huge, but much larger than some people got. No room service though. (There ought to be a law.)

I then headed out to meet up with Lianne, my high school friend, who now lives in New York with her husband Chris and son Elijah. It was so hot, I decided to walk, since I had the time and I just figured the subway stations would be sauna-esque. It wasn't too bad walking through midtown, as the concrete canyons create a breeze. But the air just flattens out at Central Park South. And man those last few blocks into the sixties were torture.

Lianne and I met at Elijah's school, at Stephen S. Wise Temple, up near the Park. As a kid, I went to a Stephen S. Wise Temple in L.A. I wondered who this Wise guy was that he had temples named for him all across the country, but no one could answer me. No one being, Lianne and Elijah (age 4).

We went to a coffee shop to grab a late afternoon breakfast (bacon, eggs and potatos) then walked with Elijah through Central Park. We hung out at the water park, rode the carousel, strolled across the sheep's meadow, got ice cream, etc. Lianne and I got to catch up. It was great. I dropped them off at their midtown apartment and walked back down to the hotel.

I cooled off for a bit in my room, but by that time the staff had checked into the consuite, so I stopped by to say hello.

Then a bunch of us went to go wait for Thom Adcox and Vic & Hanna Cook out in front of the hotel. They were about a half-hour late, when Carol went inside to discover that they had arrived as planned but had been dropped off in the alley.

When we finally hooked up, we got everyone checked into their rooms and then took off for a late dinner at Monster Sushi.

We had at least three tables. Thom, Kathy Pogge, Carol, Spacebabie and Revel were at my table. Nearby were Sapphire, Liz, Dreamie, Winterwolf, Mara, Aaron, GXB, Ethan and Lynati. (I think that's everyone.) The food was great, and we traded acting stories. I learn more about Mr. Adcock-Hernandez everyday. I had no idea that Thom was a dancer.

I have absolutely no memory of what we did after dinner. None. It's even possible I just went to bed.

MORE TO COME AS OUR INTREPID MR. WEISMAN ENTERS THE GATHERING ZONE...


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G2003 Journal (6/20 - 6/25)

FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2003:

This was a last minute day of stuffing in work, mostly. But I did have a great lunch at the Airstream Diner with Thom Adcox, Jen and Alan Anderson, Lanny Fields and Derek. (Uh, I just realized I don't know Derek's last name.) Lunch was great, and most of us came back to my office after to talk. It was the perfect precursor to the Gathering. I knew I needed to kick them out and get some more work done -- and I did eventually -- but not until much later than I originally planned.

The only bummer was that Derek, Alan and Jen weren't coming to the Gathering this year. We gave them heck about it though.

Also, and this is VERY important, I had been dieting right up until the morning of the 20th (and had lost 9 lbs.). Diet was officially over until July 7th. Now I could Gather AND eat!!

Anyway, after work I headed home. Beth, Erin, Benny and I were picked up by the car service and taken to LAX. In the airport, we spotted Tony Shaloub, the actor who plays "Monk" and who was the voice of the Emir on Gargoyles. He did one days work for us about 8 years ago, so I didn't approach him, but I took it as a good omen. Especially when it turned out he was on our red-eye flight to Boston. (Although he was in First Class, and we were in coach.)

The movie was Daredevil, which I hadn't seen. There were a few things I liked about it -- and I'm always more generous to movies on a plane, since I'm so desperate. Not a great movie. But I didn't hate it.

SATURDAY, JUNE 21, 2003:

Saturday morning we arrived at Logan Airport in Boston to catch our connecting Cape Air flight to Nantucket. (I know, I know, you're all thinking: "But Greg, didn't you know the con was in New York?" Bear with me.) Tony Shaloub seemed to be following me. It occured to me that this former star of "Wings" which was set in Nantucket, might be going there. That would put him on our very small plane. At any rate, it seemed to be fate, so I reintroduced myself to him, and intro'd the two kids. He was very nice. But it turned out he was going on a different plane to Martha's Vineyard. Which seemed to me like a real blow to Wings fans. But what can you do?

So the four of us boarded our flight to Nantucket. And then we were there, picked up by Beth's parents, who live there most of the year.

We spent most of the day relaxing and/or sleeping. It was raining anyway and we were beat.

That night, on cable TV, I saw some bit of Awakening Parts 3 & 5. And took it as another good omen.

SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 2003:
Another relaxing day where we didn't do much. Though I did buy an apple pie that I would wind up eating single-handedly over the next two days.

Kathy Pogge sent me some research for a project I might be working on. Thanks, Kathy.

I started reading a book called THE DANTE CLUB. It was very good. Aside from including a lot of Dante/Inferno references, it mixed real people with fictional. Told a fictional story in a real setting, etc. This is stuff, which I'm sure you guys realize interests me a lot. It would become the theme for my reading this week. Anyway, a very good book. I recommend it.

On the other hand, that night I finally saw "Attack of the Clones" on cable. UGH. A movie that is entirely catharsis-free cannot be a good thing.

Question: What am I supposed to think the Tuskan Raiders did to Ma Skywalker? Just beat her up a lot? Gang-rape her? Awful.

And Owen wasn't a Skywalker in New Hope? I had no idea.

And doesn't Padma think that Anakin requires -- if not prosecution -- then at least therapy, after he kills Tuskan women and children?

And am I the only one who totally doesn't buy the Jedi rule against love? Where did THAT come from?

And why is the whole Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Siddius thing played like a mystery?

Plus the plot's a mess.

UGH.

MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2003:

With the start of the new week, Erin started a one-week Sailing Class and Benny started summer camp. They both had a lot of fun.

I finished Dante Club and started a new book, THE DAVINCI CODE. This one wasn't as well-written, but again dealt with a mix of real people and legendary figures, and secret societies. Mixing fact and fiction, as we tried to do in Gargoyles. Not as good a read, but fascinating subject matter.

We treated my in-laws to all-you-can-eat Spaghetti and meatballs.

We started a lighthouse puzzle that we still hadn't finished by the time our trip ended.

We had Hot Fudge sundaes in town.

That night on cable: more good omens:

--Brigitte Bako in "Mind of a Married Man".
--Tony Shaloub in a new episode of "Monk".
--And Keith David narrating "Comic Book Heroes - Unmasked" It was weird hearing him talk objectively about Spawn, as if he had nothing to do with it. But it was a pretty cool special.

TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2003:

With both kids in camp, Beth and I had time to wander through town. We got ice cream, and I got some Clam Chowder. I wanted to get the Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, but they don't do that on the island. I guess that's a San Francisco thing that hasn't reached the East yet. But it seemed like something someone could make some money on. One of you go get rich and thank me later.

We had dinner at home (baby back ribs and potato pancakes). I finished Da Vinci Code and watched The Bourne Identity, which was okay.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 2003:

Again, Beth and I had some nice time for ourselves for a walk through town. This time I got Soft Tacos and a Smoothie.

Dinner was Italian Sausages at home.

And the night's movie was "Lost & Delirious" which was pretty creepy.

TUNE IN TOMORROW AS GREG LEAVES NANTUCKET FOR MANHATTAN...


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GATHERING 2003 JOURNAL - Or how I spent my summer vacation...

Before I start, I just want to say...

1. I had a blast. Thank you, everyone for another phenomenal and memorable event in my life.

2. Now that the posting function here at ASK GREG has been re-awakened, I'd like to ask everyone who attended the Gathering to post their Gathering journals/diaries/logs here at ASK GREG. If you've got them posted elsewhere, please cut and paste them here. (Do not provide a link.) One, I'd like to read them eventually. And I even think it'll be kind of fun to be reading them months from now. I'll be nostalgic. Two, I think we should have a record here for con virgins and other newbies about just how much fun the Gathering can be. Thanks, in advance.

3. As I'm going through my journal, I'm flat out bound to forget some things and even some people. I apologize in advance. There are so many names and faces, it sometimes takes me a year or two to process people (just ask Spacebabie).

4. I'm not just going to post about the Gathering (i.e. about June 27-29th). My vacation started on June 20th and didn't end until yesterday, July 6th. So I'm going to post everything Gathering related that took place over that period. Hopefully in chunks.

5. I won't be answering any more questions until I get this done, but I'm hoping to have it done by the end of the week.

6. I'm also hoping to getting back to rambling about episodes -- about one ep a week, starting next week or the week after. That's the plan, anyway.

7. And again. Wow. Thank you all.


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BACK TO MANHATTAN

Okay gang,

There you go. A double dose of ASK GREG today, because tonight I am off to the East Coast. A family vacation first, before I head into Manhattan for the Seventh Annual Gathering of the Gargoyles. The G2003 staff has a kick-ass con planned for all of you this year.

Guests include myself, Thom "Lexington" Adcox, Nichelle "Uhura/Diane Maza" Nichols, storyboard artist and director Victor Cook and Paul Lacy, who helped me create GARGOYLES all those many years ago.

We have a display of ORIGINAL DEVELOPMENT AND PRODUCTION ART FROM THE GARGOYLES SERIES, lent to us by Disney.

We have a Radio Play, a sneak peak at new development from myself, Vic and Gargoyles' character designer Greg Guler. We have the audio tape of the Team Atlantis episode featuring Marina Sirtis as Demona. And all the standard Gathering good times we have every year.

I hope to see all of you there. For more info check out:

http://gathering.gargoyles-fans.org

And I'll be back here answering questions around July 7th.

Greg


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GARY SPERLING

Gary Sperling has passed away.

It wasn't a surprise. Though he never smoked a day in his life, he had lung cancer. Surgery to remove one of his lungs failed to halt the spread of the cancer, and a few minutes ago he passed away with his wife beside him.

Some of you may have met Gary at the 2001 Gathering in Los Angeles. I hope you did. I hope you got a chance to talk to him or at least listen to him. He was a phenomenally intelligent, reasonable and wonderful human being.

Gary was a lawyer by training, who gave up a lucrative career to do something he loved. Write. Specifically, he wrote cartoons. A lot of cartoons, mostly for Disney TV Animation. A very incomplete list of shows he worked on would include: Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Nightmare Ned, Hercules, Buzz Lightyear, Max Steel and Kim Possible. (And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.)

He was a terrific writer and story editor, and a great friend. His contributions to Gargoyles are hard to measure. He was truly a rock on that show. Someone I could always count on. Listing his Gargoyles credits will give you a partial idea of just how much your enjoyment of the series was based on Gary's work...

UPGRADE - Story Editor
PROTECTION - Story Editor & Writer
HERITAGE - Story Editor
KINGDOM - Story Editor
GOLEM - Story Editor & Writer
M.I.A. - Story Editor
THE NEW OLYMPIANS - Story Editor
BUSHIDO - Story Editor & Writer
THE GATHERING, PART TWO - Co-Story Editor & Co-Teleplay Writer
TURF - Story Editor
THE RECKONING - Co-Story Editor & Teleplay Writer

In addition, he helped develop BAD GUYS and was the writer on the BAD GUYS Story Reel which I show every year at the Gathering.

Among other things, Gary turned Brooklyn into a leader, turned Dingo into a good guy, created both the London and Ishimura Clans and set the stage for Broadway and Angela to fall in love. If any of those things helped to make you a fan, then he's the reason.

Gary leaves behind a wife and two young children. Plus many other friends and family members who will miss him tremendously.


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Gargoyles DVD

Hey gang -- Good news and bad news time.

I was contacted by John Hanna at Buena Vista Home Video (or whatever the division is called now).

The Gargoyles DVD is definitely ON. As some of you know, I had been concerned since I hadn't heard from John in a long time.

The "bad news" is that it has been moved back to 2004 release to coincide with the TENTH ANNIVERSARY of the series.

As bad news goes, that's sorta cool.


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ATTENTION FANS OF MATT BLUESTONE

Tom Wilson (the voice of Matt Bluestone) is currently recurring on the NBC series Ed, playing a widowered fireman and a potential love-interet for the Molly Hudson character, played by actress Leslie Boone, whom I've also worked with on 3x3 EYES. (Leslie is a very good friend of Thom "Lexington" Adcox.)

I've worked with Tom on most of the series where I had some control over casting, like MAX STEEL and TEAM ATLANTIS. He's one of my absolute favorite performers, and he and Leslie make a very cute couple. He's already been on two episodes. I don't know how long a run he'll get. But I hope he sticks around.


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Chapter XLII: "Sanctuary"

Time to ramble...

This episode was directed by Dennis Woodyard, written and story edited by Cary Bates.

The one word title, as usual, was one of mine. I thought initially that we'd be even more focused on the Cathedral. That we might play a Quasimodo character. Heck, if Disney's "Hunchback" movie was going to have living gargoyles bouncing around, then I could have a Quasimodo swinging from the bell-ropes.

But the story, thank goodness, rightly evolved into a family drama with Goliath, Elisa, Angela, Demona, Macbeth and Thailog (and Bronx) providing us with one very ODD family. Quasimodo went away in favor of Thailog.

And we had to work a bit to make sure the thematic idea of the heart as a Sanctuary worked its way into the picture. Thank God for that French minister, eh?

During the "Previously..." recap the following exchange was heard between my eight year old daughter Erin and my five year old son Ben, after Angela learns (in that scene from "Monsters") that Goliath is her biological father:

Benny: He IS her father. He laid the egg.
Erin: Girls lay eggs.
Benny: His wife laid the egg.

ROMANCE

Enter, for the third time or the first (or, depending on your point of view, maybe this one doesn't count either), Ms. Dominique Destine. She tells Mac, "We have all the time in the world..."

This for me (and I know for Bond expert Cary) was a very memorable line from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." And always a good sign that a relationship is going to come to a bad end.

Elisa tips her hand, which she can do cuz no one is awake, about how she really feels about Goliath here. "The most romantic city in the world and Goliath isn't awake to share it with me." (Or something like that, all quotations are approximate.) That's what she'd like to do, I'd wager. Soar over Paris with G. the way they soared over Manhattan in "Awakenings". Now had he been awake, do you think she would have made that request? Or would she in fact be distancing herself from him simply BECAUSE she had that impulse?

After her adventure on the Loch, it's nice to see Margot on a pleasant little stroll through Paris.

THE GARGOYLE WAY

Why is Goliath so resistant to parenting Angela? After all, though they're really more like younger brothers, he does his fair share of parenting the Trio.

He falls back on "The Gargoyle Way", but that's certainly inadequate, as Diane Maza will later point out. Yes, he's only one of her rookery fathers, but he's (a) the only one there and (b) the only one left alive except for the two souls trapped inside the AWOL Coldstone.

Ultimately, I think the answer is that Angela's sudden obssession with her "BIOLOGICAL" parentage makes him nervous because of the obvious extrapolation to what comes next. If she's obssessed with me as Daddy, then what happens when she learns who Mommy is?

And that's the key. He's divorced Demona. His wife who laid the egg. It took centuries and months, but after "Vows" he moved on. Now he sees Demona as a nemesis. A painful one to be sure, but a nemesis none the less. He's afraid of what the knowledge will do to Angela. He's afraid of what Demona will do with Angela, should Angela share that knowledge. And is he perhaps afraid of what -- under Demona's influence -- Angela might become?

THE CATHEDRAL

There's some nice animation in this episode -- but none of it is at Notre Dame. That sequence put us through fits in retakes and editing. Ugghh. It's still painful to look at.

But there's some nice stuff going on...

Demona says: "In here my love." to Goliath before she realizes its not Thailog. What did you all think of that line? At this point we had only seen one silhouetted monster from a distance. And since you knew Demona was in town, we intentionally tried to lead you to belive that she was the Monster at Notre Dame. Were you expecting Thailog? Or did you think that Demona was addressing G as 'my love'?

Goliath's arrival is a shock to her, so what did you think then?

Then Thailog's arrival is supposed to be a bigger shock to you guys. Was it?

I love hearing Thailog say: "My angel of the night."

Demona has a good line too: "Jealous and paranoid."

Later, we set up Nightstone Unlimited and their two "human" identities, Alexander Thailog and Dominique Destine.

At this point in production, we knew that Fox was going to have a baby but we had not named it yet. I couldn't think of a better first name for Thailog and later I couldn't think of a better first name for Alexander Xanatos. At first this bugged me. But I began to realize it made perfect sense. Xanatos had programmed his "first" son well. If X would pick Alexander, why wouldn't T have picked it as well. And there's something so symmetrical about both his kids being named Alexander.

TOURISTS

Elisa sits at a french cafe talking out loud to herself. Ugh. Very awkward. Obviously, we couldn't come up with a solution we liked better. I'm sure it occured to me to do it in voice over, but just chucking a V.O. sequence in the middle of an ep is very awkward too. Suddenly, the movie is POV Elisa, and we weren't doing that here. (Cf. "Revelations" and Matt's VO narration.)

I do like her last line though, coming as it did from a long time Superman scripter, Cary Bates: "This is a job... for the Gargoyles!"

THE WEDDING NIGHT

We had Macbeth use the Lennox Macbeth name instead of Lennox Macduff because we thought it would be too confusing to give him an entirely different name to any new viewers. And it makes sense that he has multiple aliases. But it still bugs me and I think in hindsight, I wish we had just been consistent.

Demona kicks Macbeth into unconsciousness, and Erin asks: "Why didn't she get hurt?"

And that's a very fair question. As usual with D&M's Corsican Brother connection, we tried very hard to be faithful to it, but it was very hard. And we wound up being a bit inconsistent. The best I can suggest is that when Demona knows she's going to hurt M and it isn't just on impulse, she can more or less steel herself against the magical feedback. It's still painful. But she doesn't show it as much.

The Gargoyles wake up and Elisa says: "Look alive, guys!" Well, they do now, don't they?

I love how Thailog slips Mac the gun and then later yells at Demona, "Didn't you search him?!" He's an evil genius that one. And passive-aggressive too.

Thailog's plan is brilliant, I think. So elegant. So simple. And if not for Elisa, so effective.

Mac's suicidal tendencies resurface. Demona's legendary temper gets the better of her common sense.

Thailog really comes into his own in this ep. Sure, Xanatos said he may have created a monster, but now Thailog has outsmarted X, D and M. Who the hell is left to outsmart?

And he has some great lines too:

"You and what clan?"

"Teamwork is so overrated."

"Aren't you spunky?'" (Another Lou Grant reference of course.)

To be fair, he couldn't immediately know that Angela was blood kin, but still doesn't his reaction to her give you the creeps? When X says Angela is lovely in "Cloud Fathers" I don't think anyone thought he was being salacious. But T? Yeah, baby.

Of course, Goliath finally gets the picture after this one. Up to this point, he was thinking Demona's the lost cause but maybe Thailog is salvagable. Now he knows better. At least about T anyway.

BATTLE

There's a lot of water in that water tower. It looks cool though. The animation here makes up for the Cathedral stuff.

I love Goliath's two-handed punch.

I love Demona's punch-drunken sway, as she makes her move to, as Mac says, "put us out of our misery..."

But I've always wondered why the background painters put multiple pictures of Elisa on the wall of Macbeth's chateau. Odd, that.

When I was young, I used to love MASH, particularly back in the Wayne Rogers days. (And, yes, Wayne is a friend of my dad's now. But they didn't know each other back then so I was unbiased.) But one thing that used to drive me nuts was the repetition of the following exchange:

<LOTS OF SHELLING IS ROCKING THE HOSPITAL. SUDDENLY, IT STOPS.>

Hawkeye: Do you hear that?
Someone else: Hear what?
Hawkeye: Silence! The shelling's stopped!

This was fine the first time they used it. By the twentieth time it got VERY old.

But we do a version of it here after Elisa shoots Demona ending the battle.

Why? When it used to drive me nuts? It's amazing what I'll pay tribute too.

KEITH meet MR. DAVID

I love playing Thailog against Goliath, because I love those Thailog/Goliath exchanges where Keith plays both roles. That's one of the main reasons we created Thailog. To enjoy listening to Keith go to town.

1st Epilogue:

Goliath: "She has done you a favor, Macbeth."

That line should be a bit of a shock when G first says it. But it makes a lot of sense after he explains. And I love the look that Goliath and Elisa share. They aren't even pretending they don't share those feelings. They just won't act on them.

And how about Goliath actually telling a joke: "Just make sure you get a good look at her at night." Word.

2nd Epilogue:

One of the things I like about our series is we didn't have to end each episode the same way.

This one ends rather darkly. Goliath won't acknowledge the obvious. He just broods. Angela turns to Elisa: "Elisa, I have to know." And Elisa confirms that Demona is Angela's mother, because it's ridiculous to either lie or to not confirm the obvious that Angela has already figured out. But she knows G didn't want A to know that. So everyone is left unhappy as we sail into the fog.

And Erin ends the episode saying: "I think Elisa should be her mother."

(Me, I've always seen them sharing a more sisterly relationship. But I thought Erin's idea was sweet, and certainly came out of the sexual tension between E&G.)

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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Sanctuary Outline Memo

In prep for my ramble on Sanctuary, here's my notes to Story Editor/Writer Cary Bates on his first outline for "Sanctuary"...

WEISMAN 2-13-95

Notes on "Sanctuary" Outline...

GENERAL
Cary, I'm going to resist the temptation of beating this all out for you. That's how I got so far behind before. And at this stage I doubt I could do it any faster or better than you. So I want you to do a second draft on this outline, addressing ALL of the notes below. I sympathize, in advance. This is a complicated story. But I know we (meaning mostly you) can make it work. Don't take too long. And feel free to call after you've read this. We may be able to work out some of the problems over the phone. Good luck and here goes:

"SANCTUARY"
How does the title fit? What is the theme of the story? Is it about feeling safe? Safe in the arms of someone you love? I like that notion, but we'd have to emphasize it a lot more.

And simultaneously, more of the action should be centered around Notre Dame Cathedral. Economically, we can't afford to design backgrounds for an entire city. So we should keep the action focused on a few locations, that climax at the gargoyle covered cathedral-"sanctuary".

Plus, we don't want newspapers to be generically talking about a "mysterious winged creature". We want them focused on the Creature haunting the Cathedral at night. Maybe they think it's someone posing as Quasimodo, or his spirit or maybe they even think it's a gargoyle come to life or something. Of course, it's really Thailog. (Not Demona, by the way.) He's been there since "Double Jeopardy". Arriving long before Demona and Macbeth arrived.

We need to involve Thailog more at the end. Make him part of the conflict. I think he would have upgraded a bit. Used some of that $20 million to armor himself for battle. Not necessarily robotic armor, but at least a chestplate. Maybe wrist and shin guards. Keep in mind, we want him to be more powerful than Goliath and more threatening than any other villain. We should probably arm him with some big high-tech bazooka/laser/cannon type-thing too.

And we don't have to break up Demona and Thailog at the end. We just need to know that Thailog doesn't really care for her.

Remember, Thailog's plan isn't to kill Demona and Macbeth for the sake of killing them. He wants what they have managed to acquire over the last nine hundred years. If he could add that to the fortune he's parlayed from the money he stole from Xanatos, he might be able to compete with Xanatos financially. He needs to have already merged Demona's holdings with his own. So that his corporation (and we should get a cool, evocative name for it) we'll inherit in the case of her demise. And he wants to inherit Macbeth's stuff too. So if Mac and Dierdre marry, and both die together, (which is the only way they can die) he'll get everything.

Now, I'm not pretending this is easy to accomplish. As I read the outline, I was wondering if we needed a maguffin or two to symbolize this wealth. Maybe Macbeth's Paris Mansion itself. But we managed to figure something out for "Outfoxed" that clearly and dynamically spelled out Halcyon and Fox's "financial conflict". We can do the same thing here. With the same clarity.

OTHER QUESTIONS
Does Macbeth plan on telling "Dierdre" the truth about himself?

Is this the first time since Gruoch that Macbeth has been in love? Since he's an immortal has he avoided close relationships, not wanting to outlive his lover? Or watch her grow old? Or has he been through this before? Maybe not often, but once or twice over the last nine hundred years. How did he handle it in the past? Is he doing something different now? Highlander questions, basically.

Is Macbeth afraid for Dierdre's life? Does he think Demona might try to harm Dierdre to get back at him?

Do Goliath, Elisa and Angela assume at first that Macbeth and human Demona are in cahoots and only realize/remember later that since M&D have no memory of anything between City of Stone and Avalon, that Macbeth might not know that this human woman is in fact Demona?

Do we have an opportunity, maybe when Goliath and Elisa are searching Paris for the villains, for them to be romanitcally affected by the City of Lights?

When it's over, instead of Macbeth simply remaining bitter and once again suicidal, could Goliath point out to him that life offers possibilities... that if Macbeth could fall in love with Demona, he could certainly fall in love with someone else? Someone nice who would make his long life worth living again, at least for a time.

SOME SPECIFICS
A bunch of things, (some of which Cary the Story Editor should have been able to catch from his reading of past scripts, tsk tsk). Some of these notes may be moot after a rewrite of the outline.

Beat 2) Goliath, Elisa and Angela know that Demona and Macbeth left Avalon unconcious and together. Wherever they landed it would also have to be together. (Of course, Goliath and Co. have been travelling for awhile. So there's no guarantee that Macbeth and Demona stayed together after landing wherever they landed. It's just a good bet.)

There's also no reason for Goliath to assume that Macbeth and Demona are involved with each other still. (After all, they hate each other.) Also no reason to assume that Macbeth would be hurt by the association. And though there's no love left between Demona and Goliath, Goliath has no reason to feel sympathy for Macbeth. The audience might. Some of them would know Mac's backstory from City of Stone and sympathyze, but Goliath doesn't know the whole story. And he's got no reason to think more of Macbeth than Demona. Ironically, it is Thailog, more evil than any of the others, who Goliath would have the most sympathy for. He sees Thailog as a victim of poor upbringing. He'd like to reform and rescue his "son".

On the other hand, by this time Goliath believes that they land everywhere for a purpose. If he sees Macbeth and/or Demona, it's not too big a leap for him to figure that whatever the purpose, it involves these villains.

Beat 4) Again, here we'd like the headlines to be more specific to the Cathedral.

Beat 5) Elisa would recognize the human Demona from "High Noon".

Beat 7) We are forcing the creation of a lot of different sets and backgrounds here. Also don't forget that Demona's transformations to gargoyle (and back) are painful. Also don't forget that Macbeth feels any pain that Demona feels and vice versa. Distance reduces the pain, but we've never been really specific about how much distance or what the reduction is. Does Macbeth, across town, feel a little of Demona's pain at transformation? If so, he could blame Demona, knowing as he does, that he feels her pain. All that would tell him is that Demona is in the vicinity. It wouldn't reveal that Demona is Dierdre, unless he saw her transform. On the other hand, Demona might be far enough away that Macbeth feels nothing. Or just a slight twinge of soreness, that he doesn't immediately connect with Demona. We can play it any of these ways, we just need to deal with this "Corsican Brother"-style pain-sharing. We can't ignore it.

Beat 10) We've got a lot of set-up with little action up to this point. Maybe we can streamline a bit. Also, it feels like Mac's hovercraft might be a little unwieldy for this sequence. Maybe he's on the flying equivalent of a jet-ski or something a bit more svelt.

But there's another big question. What is Macbeth's objective towards Demona at this point? He knows that the only way to rid himself of her is to die himself. He may have forgotten the lessons of City of Stone and Avalon, but I would think that his love for Dierdre would prevent him from wanting to die. Later we imply that he's chasing Demona in order to chase her out of town. But that's pretty goofy logic. "I haven't seen you in weeks. So I'm going to hunt you down, to make sure you stay out of my life."

Beat 11) We definitely want to do something with the Eiffel Tower. Maybe even stage a battle there in the first or second act. But the Tower is open to tourists at night. Does anyone see them hanging there? Or are we way into wee hours by this time?

Beat 13) Goliath can't steal this guys camcorder. He's not a thief. Even destroying it is pretty malicious for Goliath, who's never gone too far out of his way to hide from humans.

Beat 16) Gargoyles don't kiss. They stroke hair. And it's "Notre Dame" ("Our Lady"), not "Notre Damn" ("Our Damnation"?)

Beat 17) The Cathedral is a very temporary safe house for Thailog while some safer, new place is being built for him. (Or maybe that's part of what Thailog is after: Macbeth's Paris Mansion.) It is not abandoned. Thailog is safe their during the day, because he's like a needle in a gargoyle haystack. After dark, he can stay out of sight in the upper reaches, until the Cathedral closes for the night. But he can't have much of a set-up there. Computers? Paintings? I don't think so. Particularly when we've got reports of a creature climbing around the church at night. People might investigate. They wouldn't find Thailog. But what would they make of that computer?

Beat 18) Demona may have no desire to "see" Goliath, since she found Thailog. But she'd still want him dead. Plus she MUST be curious about this female gargoyle. She thinks she knows all the gargoyles that exist, and none of them are female. She'd have to know. (And for that matter, so would Thailog.)

Beat 19) Think about how silly it would look in live action, if a villain who looked like Thailog, whipped out a brush and in a few seconds added a necklace to a painting. It's equally silly looking in animation. Maybe moreso because it's so easy to do.

I don't understand the pre-nuptual agreement at all. Why does Macbeth feel he needs it? (And don't tell me his lawyers push him around.) Besides, the whole idea of it goes against what we want to have happen in the story. Thailog wants Mac and Demona to get married. And have Demona inherit so that he can inherit from her, when both Demona and Mac die. Or am I missing something? I don't think we want this to be about stealing money from a safe. That's small potatos for Thailog and Demona. Either we need to have some irreplaceable (possibly magical) maguffin in that safe, or we should be dealing with the whole ball of wax. The former would probably be easier, but I'd like to go for the latter ball of wax if we can.

Beat 20) Again, I don't buy Macbeth's logic for hunting down Demona.

Beat 21) Angela can't operate a camcorder. She's not Lex. (And as noted above, I don't see anyway for our guys to have this anyhow.) Plus she wouldn't recognize Thailog. Also it feels like a pretty big jump for Goliath to figure that Demona and Thailog are working together. Not an impossible jump, but a big one.

Also, I was unclear. Did Goliath have a chance to give instructions to Elisa or did he turn to stone before he had time?

Beat 23) Again, I don't believe Macbeth lets lawyers push him around. And I don't think we need this pre-nup agreement in the story.

Beat 24) I really don't like this camcorder. And I don't know why Elisa needs it here. Like if she followed Mac and Dem, returned to Goliath without visual proof he wouldn't believe her story?

Beat 25) "How can I prove my love to you?" "Give me the combination to your safe." Yeah, that wouldn't make me suspicious.
I'd almost rather play any scene like this where Macbeth is insisting on giving something to Dierdre, who protests that she doesn't want it. The more she protests that all she needs is his love, the more he wants to lavish on her. In this way, he is predictable, but he's not being fooled by "crocodile tears" into doing something that seems incredibly fishy.

Beat 26) Again, Elisa would recognize human Demona from "High Noon" the first time she saw her. But here I was entirely unclear. How does footage of Dierdre prove that she's Demona, when Elisa didn't recognize her in person?

And this bit about Dierdre being Demona's name...? Gargoyles didn't have names in the tenth century. Naming is a human convention. Goliath referred to Demona back then as his angel love, or his angel of the night. Do we want to change "Dierdre" to "Angel" or "Angelica" or "Angelique". I don't know if you still need this, since Elisa would recognize human Demona, but I suppose you could, as long as we wouldn't be confusing the audience with Angela.

Why wouldn't Goliath want Elisa along? And why would Elisa agree to stay behind?

And what is it that Angela's staring at? Footage of human Dierdre? This isn't going to help her make the connection between herself and Demona. Visual clues aren't really the answer at all, since she would have seen Demona in the Avalon 3-parter. She learned from Sevarius that Goliath was her biological father. Here she learns that Demona was Goliath's love all those years ago. She puts two and two together over the course of the episode. Figuring out the truth only after she's already come to regard Demona as evil. You won't have room here to deal with the ramifications of that discovery. You're just setting things up for another story.

Beat 27) Why does Macbeth want to capture Goliath and Angela if he wants to get Gargoyles out of his life for good?

Beat 28) Goliath is "spreading" lies? To who? I mean we know he's not. But who does Macbeth think he's spreading lies to, that makes him want to imprison Goliath to stop it?

Also Macbeth could NOT have heard about Thailog. He was under the Weird Sister's spell when Thailog made his only other appearance. Besides who would he have heard about him from?

Beat 32) Again, not at all happy about Thailog's magic paintbrush. Particularly since it proves nothing here. It's not a photograph. If Macbeth thinks Goliath might lie about Dierdre, why wouldn't he think that this is a further lie somehow accomplished by Goliath.

Beat 33) I'm glad Macbeth keeps his cook. That guy can make a mean omelette.

Beat 36) Again, don't forget that Macbeth and Demona feel each other's pain while fighting.

Beat 39) These are huge leaps for Angela to make. How does she know this about Thailog. Also does Thailog show up there, state what he states and then not get involved in the fight? Or is that a typo for Goliath? Maybe we should let the battle climax at the Cathedral. Thailog is there. Goliath tries to "save" his son from Demona's evil. (Goliath assumes this plan is Demona's, not Thailog's.) Thailog just laughs. Reveals he wants Mac and Demona to kill each other. And he'll kill Goliath to prevent him interferring. Or something like that.

Beat 41) Killing Demona would at least knock Macbeth out.

Beat 42) Again, doesn't Thailog want anything besides their deaths?

Beat 44) Goliath still needs to be in some discomfort vis-a-vis the biological mother and father thing. It's not the gargoyle way. Brynne is going to deal with this (she'll have the space to deal with it) in her Africa story. Let Elisa be the one who confirms Angela's suspicions.

Beat 45) Again, I think we're working against our own ends. Why does Thailog need Macbeth and Demona dead, if not for what he can gain by their deaths?

Beat 46) Again, I think we can let Demona and Thailog go off together. Also, we've spent the whole episode with Demona turning back and forth from human to gargoyle. Demona does not turn to stone -- ever.

Beat 47) Angela should not get any comfort from Goliath in this episode. You don't have the time to deal with it here. If she receives comfort, it would come from Elisa.

MOVING FORWARD
O.k. try another pass. I'd streamline, by opening with the skiff arriving in daylight. Elisa leaves the stone gargoyles on the skiff tied under a bridge and goes to explore Paris. A place she's never been. She probably calls home again. Maybe she tries her parents this time, and again gets an answering machine. To save money on a voice actor, the answering message can be one that Elisa recorded for her parents months ago. (My sister is on my parents' machine with a message she recorded two years ago.) Elisa's voice says something like: "My parents don't know how to work their answering machine, but if you leave a message for Peter or Diane Maza, there's a fifty-fifty chance they'll call you back"). You don't have to jump through hoops to get the message erased this time. Then she briefly wanders around Paris like a tourist until she spots Mac and "Dierdre" who she immediately recognizes as Demona. She doesn't know that Mac doesn't know it's Demona. She'd probably assume they're up to something bad together. And also guess that they're why she and Goliath, etc. have landed in Paris. She follows them at a safe distance, etc. She doesn't want to get spotted. Near nightfall, she might head back so that she can inform Goliath when he awakens. Or she might not want to lose Macbeth and Demona until after she's found their H.Q. Or maybe when Mac and Dierdre split up, Elisa follows Dierdre to see where she lands, then loses her among the tourists at the cathedral.

Anyway, that's somewhere to start.


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Chapter XXXXI: "Golem"

Time to Ramble...

This episode was directed by Frank Paur and was really based on an idea of his that pre-dated the introduction of Renard in "Outfoxed".

The episode was written and story edited by Gary Sperling. Gary selected this episode, because he felt he had an affinity for the subject matter and because his brother, a Rabbi, was able to advise him on things like the Hebrew, etc. (But I tell you, recording some of that Hebrew was a bitch.)

I love most of the backgrounds on this episode. Very striking and atmospheric.

RENARD & CO.

My eight-year-old daughter Erin spotted Renard, and immediately recognized him as "Fox's father." I think Robert Culp does a great job with Renard. And (futzing aside) with the Golem as well.

Vogel's back with no explanation or indication that he fell out of favor. I guess Goliath's speech to Renard at the end of "Outfoxed" carried real weight. I think it shows something in Renard that he's able to give Vogel a second chance.

And Renard's other compatriot is Brod. A new gangster of the new Eastern-European school. I can't remember if I already had plans to pit Brod against Dracon. But I liked the contrast between them. And I like how tough and fearless Brod is. And also how outside-the-box he is in his thinking. He'd rather have the hovercraft than a cash payment. He sees the advantage.

Goliath spots Renard (and vice versa). Renard isn't pleased, cuz he knows he's doing wrong and doesn't need a reminder that he used to lecture people on integrity.

Goliath IS pleased, initially, because he sees Renard as a potential ride home. Here, and for the last time until probably "Ill Met by Moonlight" and "Future Tense", the focus is still on GETTING HOME.

But for Renard, the focus is on living. ("Integrity is a luxury I can no longer afford.") Goliath is stunned. He calls Renard someone "I thought I knew."

There's some nice climbing here. Just visually, the way the gang climbs up the bridge. The way Angela and Bronx climb up the tower. The way Bronx later climbs down. I just think it's cool.

ELISA & MAX and GOLIATH & THE GOLEM

I also like Elisa and Max's little exchange at the beginning.

Max: What are you looking for?
Elisa: New York.

Max was consciously designed to parallel Elisa. And she at least, notices the connection. When she says "The Golem needs you as much as you need it." I think she's thinking about her relationship to Goliath. (It may be a touch arrogant, but it's accurate too.)

He's the human ally and advisor (sometimes guide) to a protector made of stone and clay. The parallels of Golem to Gargoyle are obvious, and the main reason why I felt we HAD to do this episode. (Probably the main reason why Frank suggested it in the first place.) I love how Keith read: "So this Golem is a protector." He likes the whole idea. It's almost sweet in a way.

Max is just less confident than Elisa ever was: "What if it doesn't like me?" I don't think Elisa ever worried about that, at least not after she learned that Goliath could talk.

Elisa actually has a bunch of fun lines here:

"Hit it, Bronx!"
"Don't worry. We're the Good Guys!"
"And you get used to the weirdness."

I like how the Renard/Golem turns the lamp-post into a pretzel. But on my tape, he smashes a car that was already smashed. Did that get corrected for later airings?

I also thought it was a nice touch when he knocked over Edgar Blosa's tombstone. I know that was an homage to some movie. Maybe an Ed Wood film? But now I'm blanking out?

POWER-DRUNK/POWER-SOBER

Renard as the Golem is corrupted rather rapidly (if shallowly) by his newfound power. That was the idea. That a man who had been trapped in the prison of his own body would get flat-out drunk on the freedom and strength that the Golem offered: "Instant respect. I could get used to this."

But like any high, one eventually comes down.

And Elisa is the first to start to sober him up. "You're enjoying this!" she yells. It stops him. Cuz he is. But cuz he's not so far gone that he shouldn't know better. He flees. Not because anyone has yet provided an adequate threat. He's really running from himself. But that translates to: let me just get out of here.

Renard actually says, "It's not my fault!" which of course was the one phrase that used to drive him crazy.

Goliath has a great comeback: "A weak body is no excuse for a corrupt spirit." That's classic Goliath, I think.

I love the close up shot of the Renard/Golem looking over his shoulder, weighing it all. Wondering what his alternative is beyond accepting his fate, i.e. his death by whatever disease was killing him.

And I love Goliath's next follow up too: "You've given up all you believe in... for a piece of clay."

I'm sure some people thought Renard's turn-around was too sudden. But between Elisa, Goliath and some well-chosen words from Max ("Can you live with yourself"), and Renard's basic decency, I have no problem accepting it when he finally says, "What have I become?"

THE FINAL BATTLE

Elisa really rocks in this episode I think. That may have been the thing I most noticed in this viewing. I don't think of this as one where she was particularly featured, but she really does great. I love her little "Hi there." close up moment before she decks the bad guy with a punch that comes right into camera and flashes red. (Of course, I doubt you could do that these days.)

I like all the stuff with Golem and the hovercraft.

I'm also reminded here of the end of "Awakening, Part Five" when Goliath is holding Xanatos and on the verge of dropping him to his death. Elisa and Hudson talk him out of it. And Max fulfills the same function for the Golem. And I love Max's line, which is traditional: "Love Justice and Do Mercy." So simple and eleoquent. So right.

In any case, I guess that makes Brod the Xanatos of Prague. Except clearly he didn't fare as well. The Golem's appearance must have convinced him to seek out new "Turf", if you know what I mean.

THE WORLD TOUR

Finally, Goliath has learned something about all Max's talk about destiny and making choices. He finally realizes that Avalon isn't simply messing with them. But that there is purpose and need and destiny. He could choose to skip it. He could hitch a ride with Renard back to Manhattan. But he won't run away. So instead he'll take the Skiff.

Now the World Tour can finally start in earnest. Sure, the audience still wonders when and if the quartet will ever get home. But I think the tenor of it changes now. Now there's an expectation. I think, had we not had to air so many damn reruns during the original run of the Tour in winter/spring of 1996, the audience would have been much more patient after this episode. Like Goliath, they would have understood.

Elisa makes the same choice. Although for her, it's less about quests and destiny than about abandoning her friends: "You guys would be lost without me." And again, kidding or not, there's a certain arrogance. But a lot of accuracy as well.

Anyway, that's my Ramble. Where's yours?


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BACK TO THE PILOT...

On 7-15-93, I sent our writer a memo, sending him from outline on the Gargoyles multi-part pilot (what would eventually be dubbed "Awakening") to script (with notes).

So now it's two months later. In the interrum, the writer turned in a script, but it had become clear that he wasn't locking into the vision of the show that Gary Krisel and I had. This isn't meant as a criticism of this writer. This show was so new to Disney it was hard to get the template across to people. Fortunately, the next writer we brought on hit a home-run. That writer was, of course, Michael Reaves. What follows is a LONG memo I sent him with the previous writer's script. Everything else should be fairly self-explanitory, though I've added the occassional note in [brackets].

To: Michael Reaves 9-19-93

From: Greg Weisman (818)-754-7436

Re: Notes for Gargoyles Script

cc: Paul Lacy, Jay Fukuto, Bruce Cranston.

Michael, here are our collated and copious notes on [the previous writer's] script. Some of them are probably obvious to you, so forgive me if I tend to go on and on. Enclosed with this memo is a copy of Eric's script on disk, hopefully formatted to suit your needs, and the original beat outline for the 10th century section that we gave to [the previous writer] in March to get him started. We thought reading the latter might give you a clearer idea of what we were aiming for. You'll notice that [the previous writer] compressed the events of 994 from three nights into two. This obviously saved him some space but limited his ability to set up characters, motivations, themes, logistics, etc. I'm only bringing this up to allow you the flexibility to do either. Also available but not included is the outline that he wrote, which we approved to script with five pages of notes. Just let me or Paul know if you want to see either document.

SOME GENERAL NOTES:
--Obviously, the dialogue needs improvement. Each character must have his or her own unique VOICE. Diction must be chosen carefully. We don't want Goliath to sound arch and artificial, but he shouldn't be spouting colloquialisms either. Plus everyone should only say things that make sense for them to say.

--Motivations which once seemed clear to us have been buried or lost entirely. We must make these clear and understandable.

--Goliath's arc in particular must be made clear. He begins as an optimist. He has a job to do and he does it well. He believes that humans have a lot to offer to gargoyles (like reading and writing, for example), and that gargoyles also have a lot to offer to humans. He puts up with the Queen [soon to be demoted to Princess, i.e. Princess Katharine] because whether she's grateful or bitchy is largely immaterial to the fact that he will be true to himself, i.e. a gargoyle who protects his home. When he is betrayed, he becomes embittered. He has learned to hate and mistrust humans...he begins to see the world in Demona's black and white terms. Gargoyles, good; humans, bad. It may be a mind-set that he almost has to struggle to maintain: it's against his better nature. But he's determined not to trust again. Elisa changes him. He rediscovers his optimism through her. And the realization that Demona participated in the betrayal cements it. The world has shades of gray again. It's a tough world, but worthy of effort.

--Themes are likewise buried or lost. In addition to Goliath's major arc, the most important theme is, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Even Goliath is prone to fall into the trap of appearances. We should emphasize it as much as possible. A secondary theme is the "man out of his time" idea. We should never forget how strange the twentieth century must seem to our gargoyles.

--Ideally, we'd like to have some lighter moments of humor, both to offset the tension and to throw it into relief. But that doesn't mean we need brainless sight-gags or goofy pseudo-Spider-Man quips.

--As we discussed, you may want to open the whole piece with a VERY brief twentieth century scene between Elisa and another cop, looking at the fallen debris (claw-marks included) and wondering what could have caused this.

--Also remember that Gargoyles can't fly. They can glide, and we will cheat this using updrafts and downdrafts to keep them in the air, but if they're on the ground they have to get some height (perhaps by clawing their way up a building). They absolutely CANNOT take off by running fast at ground level.

--Gargoyles normally have pupils, but when they are angry or fighting, their eyes glow solidly.

PAGE NOTES
PAGE 1
As we imagined it, the castle was built on top of a Gargoyle rookery. The rookery itself was a series of tunnels carved into a cliffside overlooking the sea. This gave the inhabitants (both Gargoyle and Human) protection on all sides but one. The scene between Brian and his mother was originally to take place within a hundred feet and in clear view of the castle gates as they struggled up the hill toward the castle on the promontory. They are probably serfs. It's doubtful they had a village to burn down. The castle would have been the center of the community. We're not even sure whether it's necessary for the marauders to have already attacked their farm. (How would they have survived that, anyway?) Brian's desire to stand and fight seems off point. The fight's gonna happen where it should happen, at the castle.

Incidentally, for reasons that escaped us, [the previous writer] changed the boy's name from ROBBY to BRIAN. It doesn't really matter, but for some reason, Brian seems like a more modern name. Robby may be no better, however, so feel free to use either name or come up with a new one. [Of course, Michael changed the name to Tom. So in "Three Brothers" I used the Robby name for the young Captain.]

PAGE 2
Cole is a very wordy marauder. Also his reasoning's a bit off. He's in no real hurry to catch the farmers. He's after bigger game: the castle. If he takes that, he'll get everyone's possessions including the farmers. He's on a steady march up the hill. [Cole, of course, became Hakon and the marauders became Vikings.]

PAGE 3
Waiting for dusk to obscure the archer's vision is o.k., but obviously, waiting for nightfall when they can't see anything makes even more sense.

We saw the Captain as anything but handsome. A burly gargoyle of a man, ugly even. A real career soldier. Not necessarily a native to the castle. Someone who would get as little respect from the queen as Goliath does. Someone who could identify more with the gargoyles than with the humans he works for.

PAGE 4
The conversation between the marauders is too on the head. Telegraphs TOO much. I think the point was supposed to be that even in 994, real gargoyles were fairly rare and many castles had adopted the practice of putting fake ones up to scare off the likes of Cole. Cole is taking a calculated risk in attacking a gargoyle covered castle at night. I did think it was a nice moment when Cole ordered his men on and then silently stared at the castle, before shrugging off his fears.

The captain should have his archers ready, but Cole's keeping his men out of range, waiting for nightfall.

At some point we may need to clarify why the marauders are attacking. The idea is monetary gain. Confiscate anything of value. Drag the people away in chains. Perhaps ransom the valuable ones. Sell the others as slaves.

PAGE 5
O.k., the gargoyle's transformation from stone to flesh is not a magical one. It's biological. No magical light. We've discussed that every sundown they turn back to flesh from the inside out and when all that's left is a thin layer of stone on top, it starts to crack, and they explode out of it. (This is like a snake shedding it's skin for a new one underneath.) It's also up for grabs whether we want to show the complete transformation here. It may be better saved for when they first wake up in the twentieth century. Your call.

PAGE 6
In this first battle, the Marauders never make it over the wall. The battle takes place in front of the castle, and maybe on the wall a bit.

Bronx does not panic and hide. Again, think of Hooch in Turner and Hooch. He's dangerous in a fight.

The "gargoyles-don't-have-names" stuff must seem totally incomprehensible to you from this script, but we actually do think it can work, so as we go through the script, I'll try and show you what we had in mind. One key thing to remember is that in the tenth century, gargoyles felt that naming something defined and limited that thing. Goliath was named by the humans, (and you'll notice that the humans chose the name of a monstrous biblical villain, which kinda indicates their opinion of gargoyles in general). If gargoyles do need to refer to each other, they do it based on the individual relationship. So on this page, Goliath would never refer to Hudson as "Old One", but might refer to him as "old friend".

PAGE 7
Goliath: "We'll take care of it, son. You get your mother to safety." All of a sudden I expect to see a big red S on his chest. No thanks.

Plus Brian (or Robby or whatever) drives me nuts. This kid is too precocious. We don't need to see him leaping into battle. And we need to remember, Gargoyles are scary to humans, even to humans that gargoyles protect. Brian may have a more open mind than his mother, but the mistrust may not fully go away until the end of the tenth century sequence. Brian isn't hero-struck by Goliath. He's intimidated. (Of course this whole scene may go, since the marauders aren't gonna make it over the wall, here.)

The trio are NOT kids. They are the human equivalent of 19 years old, which would easily make them warriors in their own right. Not necessarily mature, but old enough to fight and not whine.

"Earned your claws" is an odd expression. I don't think I like it, but I'm not sure.

PAGE 8
Like "Old One" for Hudson, "Beautiful One" in reference to Demona is just an awkward substitute name. If Goliath must refer to her, it would be by relationship...something like "my love".

And they do love each other, so we don't need any pseudo-"Moonlighting" sparring. She would certainly not refer to him as "Presumptuous One."

And we probably don't need any 20th century airplane jargon, like Double Barrel Roll, etc.

Bronx is NOT Scooby Doo. Dogs don't laugh.

Cole and Goliath's exchange is awkward and confusing. What does Cole want revenge for? Having been beaten?

PAGE 9
Goliath's line, "As we owe you ours every day, for protecting us during the daylight hours", is redundant.

We need to clarify the wizard's reaction to Goliath. To be fair to [the previous writer], the Wizard [soon to be dubbed 'the Magus'] is a character who's been giving us trouble from the beginning. We thought of him as a frightened and prejudiced old man. Perhaps, it might work better if he were envious, insecure and young. Turning the haughty, young queen (who is easily swayed by appearance) against the gargoyles. Whatever you think works best. Believe it or not, Bronx might actually be useful in this scene. If he trotted after his master into the throne room and did something funny and obnoxious, that bit of comic relief would then be ammunition for the wizard's opinion, and the queen's disgust.

PAGE 10
Likewise, we need to understand the Queen's attitude. She is young and immature. Prejudiced, insecure too, perhaps. Perhaps she feels the need to prove her own superiority and fool herself into believing she doesn't need the 'goyles. It's unlikely that she would value the ugly captain much more than the gargoyles. In our original beat outline, we had the queen suggesting that after this fight with the marauders is over the captain's services also might not be valued so highly. (Perhaps she tells him he'll be reporting to the wizard from now on?) This might also help motivate the captain's betrayal.

PAGE 11
Goliath's line "We are what we are." is right on target. It's not that he loves how the queen treats him. But he will be true to himself w/or without praise. However, the phrase "do our jobs" is wrong. It's not a job. It's who he is.

Again, I'm confused by this reference to Cole's revenge.

In the three night structure of the original beat outline, the captain's betrayal (and the logistics that made it possible were much clearer). You might want to refer to that March outline or at least rearrange scenes so that the logistics work. Meanwhile, the captain's suggestion should be to take ALL of the gargoyles and give the marauders a good scare.

PAGE 12
Goliath figures he can be plenty scary on his own. Why leave the castle unguarded? (Still he's aware that going off alone is somewhat dangerous. That's part of the reason he leaves Demona behind.)

We don't get the line about only her "understanding the full responsibility."

Page 13
I don't mind "smoothskin" too much, but I don't see any point in reducing that to "smoothie". I certainly would rather have them use the word "Humans" over "pink ones".

Broadway volunteers some very awkward expository information about naming. But I think the exchange with Brian could help illustrate the idea simply with a few changes. For example:

BRIAN
You don't have names? How do you tell each other apart?

LEXINGTON
(simply)
We look different.

BRIAN
But what do you CALL each other?

BROOKLYN
Friend.

In other words, they don't have clever explanations for why they don't have names. They have simple reasons for why they don't need them.

PAGE 14
So all these substitute names like "One that always looks good" is just the kind of thing gargoyles would never do.

It probably would take a little more prodding to get the trio to act like monsters.

PAGE 15
Growling is kinda feeble.

Also didn't Goliath leave with Hudson in the previous scene? And should he order them specifically into the rookery or just out of the courtyard? And again, beware playing the trio too young. Here they come off as little kids.

Hudson and Goliath CANNOT run along the ground and catch an updraft with their wings. They could jump off a cliffside though.

PAGE 16
"Little Gargs?" I don't know.

This whole conversation comes off as artificial and expository.

And Bronx should be with them. How else does he survive? Which means he should probably have been with them in the previous scene with Brian/Robby as well.

PAGE 20
It's a tough scene, but we need dialogue that won't make us cringe.

Are the trio and Bronx waiting in shadows, or are they just now emerging from the rookery?

PAGE 21
Hudson's attitude is wrong. He's a soldier, not a kindly old man.

We're not sure why Goliath ran down to the rookery, but we know the results of the trip don't work. If Cole found the eggs in the rookery and took them away, than he would have also found Bronx and the trio and destroyed them. The idea with the eggs was to plant that they existed in one scene in the pilot and not refer to them again. Than they'd be fodder for a future episode.

Hudson's line: "There is never a reason good enough..." is confusing in this context. We shouldn't be afraid to use silence when words aren't necessary.

At the bottom, the Queen's last line has now made her thoroughly irredeemable. (Even if Brian is a sappy kid.) Now that she's been humbled, we should begin to see her transformation. She's witnessed some horrible things. Now that it's too late this young woman is going through some changes that might someday make her a wise ruler.

PAGE 22
Again, we need to make sense of the wizard. He can't be so irrational towards Gargoyles that it's unbelievable.

PAGE 23
Brian makes my teeth hurt.

PAGE 24
Brooklyn is coming across as whiny again. There's no finesse to any of this dialogue.

And the choreography of this scene makes little sense either. Why is Cole only now dragging the Queen into his tent. Again, you may want to refer to our original March-dated beat outline. In that, Cole and the Captain have the Queen and Wizard (the most valuable captives) isolated in their tent from the beginning. Cole taunts the wizard here by tearing pages out of the magic book and burning them. Then when gargoyles attack, Cole and Captain flee tent and campsite, leaving wizard behind, again isolated, believing the queen will be killed. Goliath follows the villains. Queen will thus be witness to his heroism. Wizard can blame gargoyles for causing queen's death (not for killing her) before she returns with Goliath. Not the only way to go, but it might work. This doesn't.

PAGE 25
Hopefully, by this time the Captain's motivation will be clearer. He had no love for the queen. He thought he was doing the gargoyles a favor by having the humans dragged away, leaving the castle to them. But Goliath insisted on leaving the gargoyles at the castle, and though the captain believed he could protect them from Cole, he was wrong. Cole was taking no chances, purely as a practical matter.

PAGE 26
What exactly are we seeing in silhouette?

Again, the choreography and the wizard's reaction and accusations make no sense.

PAGE 27
The way the wizard phrases the spell renders the spell useless, because the gargoyles did not betray the castle. However, it's good that the emphasis of the spell is on putting the gargoyles to sleep (in which case they always turn to stone) rather then having him magically turn them to stone (which would confuse the whole issue of whether or not gargoyles turn to stone magically or biologically).

By this time we need to believe in the Queen's change of heart and redemption. Even the wizard should be well chastened. This whole thing is coming across as too pat.

PAGE 28
This needs to be a sad, almost poetic moment.

PAGE 30
Do we want to use lasers to cut through mortar? Is this planting the available technology so that it doesn't seem artificial if we use it later, or are we making something that should be special into something mundane?

PAGE 31
Maybe so it's less artificial, the rain should be coming down from the beginning of this scene.

Here, at least, the gargoyles should explode out of their old skin.

PAGE 32
Don't know why we're moving inside for half a scene that could be much more dramatic and effective in the rain.

Obviously we can't use the name Charles Xavier. And we probably shouldn't use Xavier either. We've discussed the name XANATOS here, but if you have a better idea that's fine.

We don't know about giving Xavier the book of magic. Seems to us that the book may be useful for future stories (like the eggs). Besides if he has this book, what would keep him from turning them back into stone at the end of the pilot when things don't work out.

PAGE 33
Again, we're not sure if we can do THE PACK justice in the pilot. They've got that interesting "American Gladiator" back story that we don't seem to have room to service here. Though thematically it does fit nicely. Maybe in a future episode. If we do use the Pack, they shouldn't have any Cybernetic implants. And they shouldn't have CY.O.T.I. either. These were all additions that I discussed with Eric for their second and third appearances. We should never take this sort of stuff for granted.

I like the HARD HATS idea too, but I wonder if even this is necessary. If the attack is done by black garbed, masked commandos it would still serve it's purpose.

The attack should come very soon after the gargoyles are awakened. And they should be totally at sea. Helicopters. Guns. They don't know what the hell is going on. Pack...Hard Hats...Commandos...they'd be running circles around these 'goyles. If the gargoyles defend the castle at all, it should be purely reflexive. Again, it's what they are. But Goliath is certainly in no mood to protect any human or human interests. Goliath should be more confused than the audience.

And we definitely don't need any mid-raid chats between Xavier and Fox. Not sure if the bad guys need to talk at all.

PAGE 34
Nor do we need any old bad vaudeville schtick from Hyena. I know she's crazy, but please...

And Dingo can be cast to have an Australian accent w/out resorting to cliched dialogue like "Mate" or "Gander at the Goodies".

Also don't know why Fox waited so long to "coordinate" the attack.

We've been spelling Elisa's name with one "s". Eric consistently used two. I only bring this up, because it changes the pronunciation to something that sounds less Hispanic: his eh-LISS-uh as opposed to our eh-LEE-sah.

Our preliminary designs have shown Elisa with long hair. And we never thought of her as a Rosie O'Donnell type. We're hoping she's something special but doubt that's the way to take her.

What are the reactions to what's going on above their heads? It's high enough up that they can't see any details. And it can't be such a civic disaster of falling stone that the whole city would be up in arms.

PAGE 36
How does Xavier know Goliath's name? Maybe this was supposed to be a mistake on Xavier's part, a clue that he knows more than he claims. But Xavier is not that sloppy.

PAGE 37
Before Lex identifies the helicopter as a flying ship, should one of the others think it was some kind of creature? A metal dragon or something?

PAGE 38
Although Goliath is too decent not to be somewhat grateful to the man who woke them up, we don't think he's making any deals with any humans at this point. He's protecting his own.

PAGE 39
Could Elisa see "lasers and heavy weapons fire" from the ground? And Batman may call Gotham his city, but we doubt that Elisa is so full of herself to call New York, "MY city".

And when does Elisa investigate? That night? The next day? Why does she wait 24 hours?

PAGE 40
We're uncomfortable with the notion of introducing our cop by having her perform an illegal search. Perhaps, instead of being stonewalled, she is called in to investigate the theft. (Xavier knows she'll get nowhere, because there was no theft.)

PAGE 41
Bronx would not shake like Jello. He'd probably be a fairly effective watchdog. (Which is not to say we couldn't use him surprising her to comic effect.)

They just rebuilt the castle; should the ledge be giving way?

PAGE 42
As we discussed, Goliath can grab the flagpole, but it should snap off in his hand. He's not BATMAN. He's way to weighty. Maybe he uses his claws to dig into the side of the building and eventually slow his descent.

We need to develop the relationship between Goliath and Elisa slowly. His saving her life does create some kind of trust...but doesn't make friendship automatic. So she wouldn't just "know" that he "was only... protecting the castle."

PAGE 43
And she can't just shrug off the fact that she's "talking... to a bunch... of gargoyles." When and how will she hear their story, learn about them.

There's something promising about their exchange at the bottom of the page. Perhaps if it were more like...

GOLIATH
And who decides what is... "wrong"?

ELISA
Well, over the years... the people decided.

GOLIATH
You mean the humans decided.

Or perhaps something which indicates the tension.

PAGE 44
His need to know more about this world...is this his decision or something she leads him towards? In general, this all seems to be happening too fast. She seems to know his desire to stay with the castle before he's expressed it. She seems to know about the day/stone stuff. Why does she even want to enlist him at this point?

PAGE 45
Even at this stage, we need some solemnity to their growing bond.

And we need to avoid modern phrases like "case list" that we can't assume Goliath would understand.

Hudson asks a good question. Goliath's answer seems non-responsive to it.

And Elisa seems like a real user in her aside at the bottom. Besides, how does she know he'd make a great addition. And why are they waiting until tomorrow night. The way he's devised the last few scenes, it seems the night is still young.

PAGE 46
Why enter mid-scene if you're just gonna have Xavier re-explain things?

PAGE 47
As noted above, characters here don't seem to have their own voice. Hard to believe that Xavier would use the expression "for crying out loud."

If we do use the Pack, this could be a good time to emphasize the theme of appearances being deceiving. Xavier could even use the fact that Goliath is sensitive to this theme to his advantage.

The lines re: the t.v. set are appropriate in the sense that the gargoyles should not take the modern world for granted. But they don't have to be stupid either. Perhaps the more savant-like Lex can express things in terms the others can understand. For example, television might be a living tapestry. And a living tapestry might appeal to Hudson.

Is the holographic projector necessary?

PAGE 49
Xavier's never nervous. Let him do the reasoning and the talking.

PAGE 50
Bronx has no real wings. He cannot glide.

All this dialogue is "voiceless" and dull.

Back to the name thing. This is more what we had in mind:

ELISA
What do I call you guys?

HUDSON
Goliath is the only one the humans named.

ELISA
What? You have to have names.

HUDSON
Does the sky need a name? Does the river?

ELISA
The river's called the Hudson.

HUDSON
(w/a heavy sigh of capitulation)
Fine. Then I too will be "the Hudson".

GOLIATH
Don't worry. You'll get used to it.

ELISA
Good thing we weren't facing east.

PAGE 51
Or something like that. Then the kids decide that if Hudson (the big traditionalist) is gonna have a name than they'll get names too. We don't need to see them find their names. We'll just reveal their choices later. Also we don't need to find a rationale for Bronx's name. The trio can just come back with it. (They probably just made their choices based on the sound of the words.)

As for the various exits... Hudson is happy to guard the castle. That's what gargoyles do. Maybe he's going to study the new world through the Living Tapestry/T.V. that he's discovered. Goliath wants to explore it first hand. Hudson tells Goliath to take the dog with him, probably as a way to make sure Goliath is careful and safe. (Again the dog is not a liability to it's master. But good to have around in a bad situation.) But Hudson would express his concern subtly.

HUDSON
Take the dog with you.

GOLIATH
Why?

HUDSON
He needs the exercise.

Goliath gets the message. As for the trio, just remember that they are not "youngsters" with a curfew. Goliath can express a stern warning without treating them like children.

PAGE 52
Remember, Brooklyn is the natural leader of the trio.

I doubt Elisa says "Sheesh!"

PAGE 53
Now this whole thing with the robbery seems horribly contrived. If I didn't know better, I'd think Elisa had rigged it just as Xavier rigged the Pack attacks. The whole thing doesn't work. Certainly no one would rob the same apartment twice on the same night.

PAGE 54
Elisa seems to wear an agenda on her sleeve at the bottom of this page. She's coming off as a worse slickster than Xavier.

PAGE 55
Goliath's: "Those days are over!" response is ridiculous, because those days never existed.

And dogs don't laugh.

PAGE 56
I'm sure we don't want the female Hyena doing Rodney Dangerfield. Or any other bad old jokes.

PAGE 57
I've missed how Elisa made it to her car. I thought they were herding her.

And her line about "checking the transmission" is exactly the kind of pseudo-Spider-Man quips that we can forever do without.

Do we care how the Pack found Goliath?

Since Fox is telling a fib (which Xavier probably fed to her) in order to get Goliath's dander up, then "riches" misses the point entirely. What does Goliath know or care about wealth? Perhaps Fox brags that the stolen information will give them power to crush anyone who stands in their way. As for her excuse for chasing Goliath down...(Since it is literally contrived)...she could say that she doesn't like to leave any potential enemies alive. She couldn't finish him the other night because he was surrounded by friends. But now she can pick off all of the gargoyles one at a time. That would send a chill down Goliath's spine.

Also, it occurs to me that if you do replace the Pack w/masked commando types, than we could actually have a masked Xavier delivering this speech to Goliath. Maybe Bronx recognizes Xavier, but not being Scooby Doo, there's no way for Bronx to get his message across.

PAGE 58
So many problems.
--Elisa comes off as an idiot, here.
--None of us buy Goliath's sudden "surge of superhuman strength".
--What's Bronx doing in this scene?
--No running take offs into the air allowed.
--Bronx can't fly, so he couldn't follow anyway.

Also, this might be an opportunity to explain that Gargoyles glide and don't fly. As they are trying to escape, Elisa would ask the natural question:

ELISA
Fly us out of here!

GOLIATH
I can't.

ELISA
What do you mean you can't?! What're the wings
for?!

Or something like that. Given his limitation they either have to stand and fight or he has to start to climb high enough to get some air.

PAGE 59
Does the crowd attack Goliath or ask the Pack for autographs? Again, can we service the Pack in this pilot with all the other things we have to accomplish?

PAGE 60
If we do use the Pack, then Elisa has NOT just remembered who they are. And we need to understand why she doesn't immediately call for back-up or warrants for their arrest.
And this is a missed opportunity to play up the theme of judging by appearances.

This is also an opportunity to explain that Gargoyles daytime hibernation allows them to heal and recharge. Shed their damaged skin for a new one the next night.

PAGES 61 - 63
It seems odd that we haven't really intercut between the trio and Goliath.

This scene is a mess as well.
--Again, we need "voices" for the trio.
--We shouldn't rush to give them colloquialisms either. Over time, they SHOULD pick them up more readily than Goliath or Hudson. But let's make it make sense.
--We don't need to see the namings at all, or find rationales for the chosen names.
--Brooklyn appropriating some sunglasses seems like it might be a fun little touch. But how he gets a leather jacket and t-shirt over his wings is a bit perplexing.

PAGE 64
Although I'm not necessarily in love with it, the "Pleestameetcha" bit is the closest we come to believing these guys are learning to adapt, as opposed to automatically adapting with ease.

Dancing Gargoyles are a bitch to animate. Or so I've been told.

PAGE 65
We'd like to avoid the whole perplexing issue of whether or not the gargoyles can read. I tend to think that except for Goliath, they can't. (As it is, we're stretching in having them able to even speak and understand modern English.) In fact, if we feel like actually doing some good at some point, then a literacy episode featuring our trio and Hudson might be honestly worthwhile, but until we're prepared to really deal with the issue, we'd like to avoid it.

PAGE 66
This cluebuster scene has come off more contrived than it had to be.

PAGE 67
Again, it's unclear why Elisa doesn't simply file charges.

Maybe Hudson starts to give a shadowed Goliath the same guff he's been giving the trio, until Goliath steps into the light and he sees that Goliath has been wounded.

Again, wealth is not the issue. But physical power might be.

PAGE 68
And this grudge thing makes no sense. The Pack has battled Goliath twice and have basically won both battles. The only explanation that makes any kind of sense is the notion that they don't take any chances with potential threats.

Goliath could be honestly perplexed as to what to do...and decide to sleep on it.

The reunion should be an amazing moment. We need to believe in their love.

Xavier should say that he took the liberty of choosing the name Angelica for her. It's a lie that will ring truer.

PAGE 69
Angelica's story is not convincing. The attack was during the day. All gargoyles that were found were destroyed. We know it's a lie but we need a better one. Maybe just before sunrise, she got worried about Goliath and left the castle to find him. [The truth is that at the last minute she didn't trust the Captain to protect the frozen gargoyles from Cole. So she took off and hid somewhere.]

Xavier's story is no more convincing. Maybe he saw her picture in an art book and purchased her for his collection, long before he found out about Goliath. Or something.

Dialogue needs work, and Bronx is misused again.

PAGE 70
This is how Bronx should be used. Like a dog.

Goliath's "You just watch me" line, again misses an authentic voice for the character. He should also not gain immediate comfort with everyone's new names.

It's probably all right that Brooklyn has picked up the word "cool" and its usage by this time. But Goliath should not respond with another colloquialism, "Excuse me?", like he's Wayne or Garth. Does he think the tower is too cold or Brooklyn is? Actually, this whole exchange might be better suited for Hudson or cut entirely. I just feel like I've seen it in a 1969 Bob Hope film.

PAGE 71
As for Bronx going with Hudson, we can play off my earlier suggestion. This time Goliath tells Hudson to take the dog with him, because now he's worried about his old friend and the dog might come in handy. But he wouldn't dare to embarrass Hudson either.

GOLIATH
Oh, and Hudson, take the dog. He needs exercise.

We don't know why Angelica and Goliath need a helicopter.

And Demona's little slip about "crime rates" is too goofy. No reason for her to say something like this unless she was trying to tip him off.

PAGE 72
Maybe I'm over-reacting to the word, "lumbering", but for some reason I keep picturing an old fashioned and impractical Spruce Goose. We need to make this cool.

We obviously don't want to animate TEN GUARDS simultaneously.

Also we need a sense that Xavier out-fitted each of the three teams with a precise plan and understanding of their mission. He's too smart to let them all wing it.

PAGE 73
Why wouldn't the trio glide to the top of the tower/skyscraper? Why GROUND yourself by starting at the bottom. And again, they should already have a plan, provided by Xavier.

We also need to believe that these things are well-guarded. If CYBERCORP went to the trouble of splitting this information between three separate disks in three separate locations, including one mobile location, than they're not just gonna leave each disk laying around. Again, a plan from Xavier would help short-cut CyberCorp's security. But we also need to see some things that only a gargoyle's unique talents could accomplish.

Also, should we intercut between these three assaults, as opposed to basically seeing them one at a time?

PAGE 76
Bronx is not Lassie. He's not smart enough to have plans whispered in his ear.

PAGE 78
Would a police dispatcher really report "gray monsters with wings" over the radio?

Should the gargoyles have tried to bring the airship down on purpose, or did that happen when things didn't go quite according to plan?

There's a lot of fainting and near fainting in this script.

PAGE 79
Are there any other cops around?

Is this an airplane crash/explosion or a blimp/airship taking a slow fall?

The exchange between Goliath, Elisa and Demona is very confused. Demona's "little detective" line is perhaps a clue that she knows more than she's letting on. But if it's so bitter, so soon, than it's too big a clue. Perhaps she just points out that Elisa doesn't know the story and they don't have time to tell her now. At any rate, Elisa and Goliath have not built the relationship to justify the "how could you" line at the bottom of the page. Of course, by now they should have. Even if we have a better line of dialogue to illustrate it.

PAGE 80
We probably don't need the triumphant scenelet at the top.

And we don't know why Xavier would raise the question of legality.

Remember, from Goliath's point of view, Elisa simply doesn't know the whole story. He thinks explaining will be easy.

PAGE 81
Any visible seething on Demona's part will give her away.

It's probably o.k. if we've revealed Xavier by this time, but his line is SO on the head.

PAGE 82
Why is Goliath being cryptic?

The issue of law into one's own hands is awkward coming from a woman who's been playing so fast and loose.

And when she says, "I thought we had a common bond..." Well, as the script stands now, we don't believe it. And we should.

PAGE 83
Does Goliath know NYC like a cabby. Can't stage this scene so that he doesn't have an off-screen opportunity to find out where he's going.

Did Goliath mention Elisa's name on or off camera? Or did Xavier just find it out on his own?

Page 84
Again we need to be somewhat careful that we don't assume that Gargoyles are totally up-to-date on modern terminology.

We also need to make sure that Xavier's plan up to this point is clearly spelled out. (Xavier wanted two things. The information on the disks and the gargoyles' unquestioning obedience. He tricked them into stealing the disks, something he couldn't do without their talents. The logistics of which should probably be explained here.)

{At this point, Xavier will know that he's obviously not going to be able to secure the gargoyles' loyal service. That's all right though. He has a back-up plan. The info on the disks allows him to create new-and-improved steel gargoyles. (Perhaps it contained a formula for a rocket fuel that would allow them to fly--something more believable than anti-gravity disks.) Now, he doesn't need the real gargoyles. He'd still like to have them. But if he can't, he'll destroy them so that they can't work against him.}

PAGE 85
Don't know why Demona waited so long to shriek?

Goliath can't swoop up to the top of the roof from the ground.

PAGE 86
This whole conversation seems non-responsive. Exposition's flying, but they're not talking to each other. Goliath should probably figure some of this out for himself.

PAGE 87
Goliath suddenly sees Xavier as the devil, it seems. It just doesn't seem justified.

Xavier is not a war-monger per se. Demona's reasoning may need to be more general. She recognizes that Xavier is the worst kind of human. If she helps him gain more power, she's helping humanity destroy itself. Plus he gives her cool weapons.

As to her name, we think she should say something mysterious like..."The humans named me Demona long ago." No explanations necessary.

Page 88
Xavier set up this test. If Goliath had passed, great. But what did Xavier think would happen if he failed. He probably should have supplied Demona w/some mega-cannon kinda thing to wipe Goliath out. Goliath should barely escape with his and Elisa's life. And when they do escape, either Xavier or at least his assistant Owen should be revealed there also. It's not like Xavier trusts Demona 100%.

PAGE 89
We'll leave the design of the robots to the designers, but I'm guessing that if we really want to contrast the robots with our gargoyles, than they should be shiny and chrome-like, as opposed to Giger-bio-mechanical.

Xavier doesn't plan on selling anything. This is a guy who's favorite word is " Acquire". Acquire power; acquire people...anything he sets his sights on. What he can get by legitimate purchase, he'll buy; it's easier. What he can't buy, he'll take by subterfuge or force. What he can't take, (i.e. our gargoyles and their obedience) he'll destroy. He has no desire to destroy humanity. Or even the system of commerce and government that's put him where he is.

PAGE 90
Elisa's apartment is the first place that the Pack would look at this point. And in any case, the landlord is not gonna just let the floor cave in. Elisa should try to lead the Pack (or whoever) on a wild goose chase. Perhaps into a sculpture garden full of art decco gargoyles and the like. This should be a tense scene where she clearly putting her life on the line to saves all of the Gargoyles. This doesn't seem like a moment for ineffective comedy.

PAGE 91
Xavier should not be too ruffled by the Pack's failure. If they had gotten them during the day it would have saved him some trouble. But he's not worried. He has the castle. He knows they won't risk another day without coming to take it back.

PAGE 92
Although Elisa's statement that everyone has some good in them is a fine message, it seems off-point.

Is Elisa going to participate in this fight or just watch it? Is Bronx (who can't glide or fly) staying with her for protection, or are the Gargoyles carrying both of them into battle.

Demona's line about designing her own armaments only works if it's supposed to be a clue to how long she's been awake in the modern world. Otherwise, it's easier if it's just a gift from Xavier.

PAGE 93
Finally, Lexington has found a voice. Unfortunately, it belongs to Mr. Spock.

Xavier wouldn't sink to the level of calling Goliath a moron.

And it's ridiculous for Goliath to say that he betrayed him more than any human. First off, it's not true. The captain's betrayal was far worse. And secondly, the whole point of this thing is that it doesn't matter whether you're a human or not.

Also, the Pack, (Hard Hats, Commandos, whatever), should all be participating in this finale, unless they've truly been dealt with in some way during the daytime chase scene.

PAGE 94
This is a very weak fight. Audience won't be able to know about internal gyroscopes, and nobody is gonna buy the screwdriver stuff.

PAGE 95
Xavier is coming off very weak, here. Can't happen.

PAGE 96
Elisa can throw a pair of binoculars farther than she can clearly see without them. I don't think so.

PAGE 97
In all this morass, we've lost track of what Elisa is busting Xavier for. What does she have evidence of that she can reveal without simultaneously revealing the gargoyles?

PAGE 98
Goliath: "This time the threat came from within." It isn't just this time.

Goliath's attempt at a joke is lousy. And what's worse is the "clean up this town" line. He's neither the sheriff nor Batman. That's not his mindset. He's a protector of innocents, not a pro-active crime fighter.

PAGE 99
This is not how we want to go out. Tell me about it.

Well, that's it. (That's enough surely.) Good Luck.


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Hudson's nearly renamed...

More old memos from the original development file...

At one point a Disney Executive came to me and asked me to rename Hudson as a personal favor. She had just had a son, whom she had named Hudson, and was concerned for reasons I can no longer clearly remember.

I wanted to be nice, but this was very problematic for us. Hudson's being named for the river was the way into the New York names for the whole clan. I couldn't see an easy way to make the change.

But in the spirit of being a team-player, we tried to give it a shot.

The following is a hand-written note in my files of possible names. The ones marked with an "x" were actually crossed out by me.

[Castle Logo] Walt Disney Television

Gregory David Weisman

FIRE - x
LONG - x
CONEY - x
SHERIDAN - x
COLUMBIA - x
HARLEM
ROCKEFELLER
MADISON - x
LAGUARDIA - x
SHEA - x
YANKEE - x
TRIBECA - x
SOHO
JERSEY
BATTERY - x
WASHINGTON - x
LINCOLN - x
VERRAZANO NARROWS - x
ROOSEVELT
EMPIRE - x
CHELSEA - x
GRAMMERCY - x
WALL ST. - x
BROAD ST. - x
BOWERY
NOHO - x
HOUSTON - x
BLEEKER - x

After jotting those down, I composed a memo for my boss to see if he wanted to make the change. He didn't have (or at any rate didn't use) e-mail back then. So traditionally, I would send the memo to myself. Print it out and then leave a hard copy with his assistant.

[4] From: Greg Weisman 9/13/93 12:44PM (616 bytes : 28 ln)

To: Greg Weisman, Paul Lacy
Subject: Hudson Names

------------------------------- Message Contents -----------------
Gary, here are some possible alternatives to the name Hudson:

Rockefeller
Roosevelt
Bowery
Harlem

SECOND CHOICES:
Madison
Soho
Jersey
LaGuardia
Shea
Yankee
Tribeca
Battery
Washington
Lincoln
Sheridan
Greenwich
Coney
Grammercy

He returned the same memo to me stamped from his office with the following little note:

RECEIVED BY
SEP 13 1993
GARY KRISEL'S OFFICE

Greg

WHY
1) Would "Hudson" pick his own name?
Keep this for the teens

GK

Having received that note, I then had to go into his office and remind him about the whole naming schema. The fact that we had names for the 'teens' and that the reason we were considering changing Hudson's name was because of the request of this one executive. Gary then considered all this and decided to stay the course. I apologized to the executive but told her we wouldn't be making a change. I felt bad -- a bit. But I also felt sure that we had chosen the correct names.


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Another design memo...

We got more designs from WDAJ. Here's our response back to them...

To: Motoyoshi Tokunaga 8-26-93

From: Greg Weisman 818-754-7436

Re: GARGOYLES DESIGN WORK

Dear Mr. Tokunaga,

This is in response to the designs sent in your fax dated August 21st. (We've looked over the originals you sent as well.) Although we have substantial notes, I want to emphasize that we're learning more with each submission. Things that did not occur to us initially are now becoming clearer. For reference purposes, I'm going to refer to the page numbers of the fax. In the future, you might want to number every drawing on every page for easier reference.

PAGE 3
Seeing the four Gargoyles together raised a number of interesting problems. Goliath seems to have lost some of the upper body bulk that made him so imposing. And Broadway seems to be on an equal level with Goliath. We need to make Goliath more special and unique. And although the trio of Brooklyn, Lexington and Broadway must each be unique from each other, we'd like to see the three of them as a natural grouping. As it stands now, Goliath, Broadway and Brooklyn all seem of a piece, with Lexington as the odd man out.

I might propose the following possible solutions:
--Let's give greater stature to Goliath relative to the other three, particularly Broadway.
--Let's make Goliath the only one of the four who tends to stand erect like a man. If Broadway and Brooklyn existed in a crouch as Lex does, we could cheat all three of them larger and still leave Goliath with greater stature.
--We already have two unique wing constructions (Goliath's and Lexington's), but we could stand to create a third type. Leaving either Brooklyn or Broadway as is, if we gave the other a third style of wing, then when we looked at the trio of younger gargoyles as a unit, each of them would have a unique wing-type and Lexington wouldn't seem like such the odd man out.
--If I haven't mentioned it before, we think of Goliath as being in his late twenties (in Gargoyle years). We think of the trio as being between 17 and 19 years old (in Gargoyle years). Keeping them youthful should also help in making them into a visible unit and still distinguish them from Goliath. Broadway, in particular is looking a bit too old.

PAGES 4 and 5
We'd like to make Goliath more imposing in size. Perhaps by slightly reducing the size of his head relative to his shoulders and chest. Bulking up his upper body.

We're also divided over here on the issue of the tail. Some of us feel it adds an inhuman element to help make Goliath cool and different. Others, just feel it's another thing that'll need to be animated.

Love the way the wings drape on page 5.

PAGE 6
One of Gary Krisel's concerns is that the face have depth. He doesn't want it to look like a mask connected to Goliath's thick neck. I'm not sure I see that problem in these drawings, but it's something to watch out for.

Another important point is Goliath's attitude and expression. He is highly intelligent. Noble. Gary was also concerned that some of the expressions here (and on page 4) made him look a bit like a thug.

A third concern is whether or not we might still have too much pencil mileage in the facial design to animate effectively.

PAGE 7
I love the top two head shots. Goliath looks terrific surprised. And I think the trick with the pupils vanishing in anger is very effective with all the characters. I also like Goliath amused in the lower right corner. But I'm not sure about the lower left shot. I'm not clear what emotion is being expressed. Something about the teeth and maybe the eyes is unappealing. I apologize for not being able to pin down my problem further. Maybe we should reserve his jagged teeth for extreme expressions? I don't know.

PAGE 8
Both poses, particularly the kneeling shot, are wonderful. In the first pose, however, I think we should be cheating his wing-span much, much larger.

Page 9
Great.

Page 10
I like his slimmer "teen" build, but perhaps Brooklyn should "stand" in more of a crouch. Not simply bad posture, but keeping at least three limbs on the ground.

PAGE 11
Again, Brooklyn needs to remain 18 or 19 years old. Particularly in the lower left and right corners he seems much older than that. We also probably need a greater range of expressions. Remember, he is the irrepressible leader of the trio. Out to find adventure. Are his horns too far apart? As opposed to being slicked back like his cool young hair, are the horns scooping up, giving him a more demonic look than necessary? Have we created a mouth that inhibits expression too much? You can see, we have more questions than answers, still.

PAGE 12
I think Lexington works as a basically horizontal character, but we don't want to make him too diminutive relative to the others...stretch him out in poses. Remember that his middle set of limbs function as arms as well as legs.

His wing design may be more complicated than necessary. We may not need the rib construction coming out of his back. For him, it may be enough that he has this wing like webbing between his two upper sets of limbs. Perhaps it's more elastic than draping.

Again, we need to keep him young. Lex is highly curious about the modern world around him. Everything interests him and fills him with wonder. He's more naive and innocent than the others. These qualities should help compensate for his slightly more demonic look.

PAGE 13
My favorite shot is the third from the left on the bottom row. And as usual, the angry glowing eye "battle" version works great. The upper right shot is cute. And I like the surprised version in the second from the left on the bottom row. But we're not getting the sense of wonder or excitement from him in the upper left and upper middle. And I don't really care for the sinister shot of him in the lower left corner. He's not angry or primed for battle (we know this cause his eyes aren't glowing), so I can't figure out what would give him that kind of nasty, almost hungry expression out of a battle context. Again, it may be that using jagged teeth outside of battle mode makes them too demonic. Another question: do his cheekbones need to be so prominent?

PAGES 14
Body-wise, Broadway looks pretty good outside of a context of scale with the others. We like his gut, his sumo-like quality. But like Brooklyn and Lex, he should be a croucher. Like the center on an American football team. And we may want to scale him down; he doesn't necessarily need to be that tall or broad relative to Goliath.

Our biggest concern is that he looks way too old. Mostly in the face, but when scaled with Goliath, as on page 3, in the body as well.

PAGE 15
Again, in all these shots, he looks too old. In some ways, he looks too much like Goliath. He should be a nineteen year old party animal. He just likes to have a great time. Always laughing. The only shot that really works for us here is glowing eyes shot in the lower left corner. In battle, it's appropriate to have the jaw distended and grotesque. In the others, we might try to give him more youth by making his head shape more horizontal than vertical. Less cheekbones, maybe. Rounder, perhaps? I'm not sure.

That's it for now. Looking forward to seeing your next pass.

Thanks. Greg.

cc: Bruce Cranston, Barbara Ferro, Eddy Houchins, Lenora Hume, Gary Krisel, Paul Lacy, Tom Ruzicka, Dave Schwartz.


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More correspondence with Tokyo...

Another old memo from my development files. It's pretty self-explanatory.

To: Motoyoshi Tokunaga 8-4-93

From: Greg Weisman 818-754-7436

Re: GARGOYLES DESIGN WORK

Dear Mr. Tokunaga,

Just a quick note to let you know we all looked at the Clayface episode of Batman that you sent us. We thought it was terrific. If you are confident you can animate to this level, I'm confident we have a great show in the works.

Greg.

cc: Bruce Cranston, Barbara Ferro, Lenora Hume, Gary Krisel, Paul Lacy, Tom Ruzicka, Dave Schwartz.


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Chapter XXXX: "Monsters"

Time to ramble...

I think this episode had a fun story written and edited by Cary Bates. And I know it had a great moody storyboard directed by Frank Paur. But it suffered from two major problems...

1. Repetitive elements. We had multiple story editors working on multiple episodes. I was overseeing all of them, but sometimes things did get away from me. "Monsters" has a number of elements in common with "Heritage" which had only just preceeded it in the line up. It makes "Monsters" seem a bit more tired than it really is, through no fault of Cary's. For example, we open with a Sea Monster. One of our female cast members is lost and nearly drowned. Goliath searches frantically. Etc. Even my five-year-old son Benny was convinced, "We just saw this one." It just felt very been there done that. My fault.

2. Very weak animation -- some of the weakest of the series -- removed much of the mystery and mood from the boards that Frank directed. I know we called tons of retakes on this ep, but there was a limit. Secrets were given away too early. What's a monster submarine and what's a monster is too easily discernable at the start. We were hoping for more silhouette's in that murky Loch. Throw in some really atrocious character moments (like when Angela wakes up in chains) and you've got an ep that's unimpressive at best.

And yet, there's much in this show that I really like.

It takes an important step toward evolving Angela's relationship with Goliath. Though G's not aware of it, Sevarius reveals to Angela that she is his biological daughter. Having grown up around her adoptive *HUMAN* parents, that notion of biological imperative must have seeped in. She already KNEW that Goliath was one of her ROOKERY parents. But this revelation ignites her curiousity and need. I find it interesting anyway. My eight-year-old daughter Erin was likewise fascinated with this aspect. She was anxious for Angela to tell Goliath about her discovery. Of course, Goliath knows in a 'shrug' sense. It's visually obvious to him. It just isn't programmed to be significant for him.

And if that weren't enough to make the ep worthwhile, we also get another wonderful over-the-top performance from Tim Curry as Dr. Anton Sevarius. He has a TON of great lines in this (all quotations approximate)...

"If it gets any more sacharine in there, I'll have to shove a finger down my throat."

"It must be awful to wake up in chains first thing in the morning."

"Thank heaven for little girls... and DNA markers."

"He's your very own flesh and stone."

"Enough to make my mind boggle..."

But there were other problems too. In my mind and Cary's Big Daddy and Nessie were mates (with little ones revealed at the end). But because of the name "Big Daddy" and because we were intentionally using the L.N.Monsters to parallel and comment on Goliath and Angela's father-daughter relationship, many people thought that Big Daddy was Nessie's dad. I'm not sure it matters too much. But (unintentional) confusion can't help.

ELISA

Elisa knows they haven't arrived in Manhattan because it's too quiet and because the water's too clean. Of course, Loch Ness is famous for having MURKY, MURKY water. Not that the water is "dirty" exactly, the way New York Harbor is. But it's hard to figure Elisa would think of the Loch as clean either. And I knew that. Don't know how that got by me.

But Elisa does have some fun lines here and there:

"I'm not really the adventuring type."
"It's a show... Themeparks do this five times a day."
(Yes, we weren't above giving a gentle knock to the parent company.)

(Of course, when Elisa said that last bit, Erin said, "I don't think so." Benny noticed the submarine was metal and thought it was a robot. It took him a while to get the notion that it was a ship or sub.)

LITTLE CONTINUITY TOUCHES

Elisa leaves a message on Matt's machine. But the tape is full. This was done for two reasons. Or three...
1. We felt that Elisa would and should attempt to contact someone.
2. We wanted to prolong the agony (at least in the audience's minds) as to what happened to our travelers from the point of view of those left behind.
3. We were in the middle of a tier, and couldn't guarantee (as we saw with "Kingdom" that the episode would air in order. We didn't want Elisa to successfully contact anyone, because it might screw up continuity.

Nice to see Brendan & Margot taking a little vacation on the Loch, huh?

Angela says to Nessie: "I bet you've never been this close to a real live gargoyle either." But of course Angela's wrong. One of the reasons that Nessie gets so friendly so fast with Angela is BECAUSE she recognizes her as a gargoyle and knows that gargoyles are friendly to the Monsters of the Loch.

Of course, this begs the question as to what the Loch Ness clan was doing throughout this little adventure. I don't have a grea answer -- YET -- but for now, I'm just going to fall back on the notion that they were aware that Nessie was missing, but didn't know the cause. (It is a big murky loch, after all.) And yes, I know that's a feeble explanation, but it will have to do until I figure out a better one.

The title "Monsters" is another one of my thematic one word titles. Angela hits the nail on the head when she calls Sevarius the only monster around here. It's central to the series theme. But again, maybe too obvious, contributing to the weakness of the episode.

We had some trouble with the animation of the scene where Bruno confronts Goliath and Elisa right after they escape the dungeon. It forced us to reuse Jeff Bennett's "All right." line twice in a row.

Speaking of Jeff, my wife Beth thought Bruno sounded very Jack Nicolson. I pointed out that when Bruno was created, way back in "Awakening" we asked Jeff to make him a young George C. Scott. Beth couldn't hear that at all.

Benny used to love Bruno. Not only does Bruno barely register with him now. He doesn't remember ever liking the character. Erin asked him if he remembered the Xanatos Goon Squad. He didn't respond.

Another weakness... Angela just holds her breath forever down there at the end.

And when Goliath does get there, her chains pop off too easily, begging the question why she couldn't free herself.

I know I keep talking about the ep's flaws. But like all the 66 chapters, I really am more fond of it than critical. I do love seeing Goliath launched as a living torpedo, for example. There are a bunch of little things that I like.

And heck, we killed off four more characters. Sevarius and Bruno survived. But I think we have to assume that the other four members of the Goon Squad are gone for good.

But it wasn't one of our best efforts, I'll have to admit.

Sorry 'bout that...

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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Another memo to Japan...

Here's a follow-up memo on the character designs to the one I just sent praising "Designer E". Mr. Tokunaga sent us a note asking for feedback on the other five designers who had made an attempt on the Trio and Goliath....

To: Motoyoshi Tokunaga 7-26-93

From: Greg Weisman 818-754-7436

Re: GARGOYLES DESIGN WORK

Dear Mr. Tokunaga,

Per your request, a quick note on Designs A-D and F, with a reminder that just because the designs didn't suit our purposes, doesn't mean they weren't worthwhile attempts.

Designer A has the action feel of the show, but to be honest, the designs on Goliath, Brooklyn and Lexington were too unappealing. Although the characters are monsters, they need to be heroic monsters. It's a tightrope we're walking, and this group didn't seem redeemable. Broadway was more appealing, but a little goofy looking, and he seemed to be scaled too large.

Designer B was too cartoony on Lexington, Broadway and even Brooklyn. We're looking for more of an action feel. Goliath, particularly in B-7 and B-8, seemed too human. Like a man wearing a mask. Not unique enough. B-10 was a nice pose, though.

Designer C was just too cartoony. And the trio of smaller gargoyles looked more like aliens from another planet than medieval stone creatures.

Designer D's Goliath was an interesting interpretation. D-1, D-2 and D-3 were all nice poses that gave us the feel we were looking for. But in D-3, Goliath seemed too reminiscient of the Beast from Disney's Beauty and the Beast; and we're already a bit too close to that concept for comfort. We don't want to emphasize the similarities further than necessary. And though it seems like a minor point, we all really didn't like his chicken feet. And again, the gargoyle trio seemed too cartoony.

Designer F obviously stuck the closest to our original designs. Even closer than Designer E, whose work we liked. They seem to be simplified tracings, without the wings. I'm not sure how to describe my response, but the magic just seemed to be out of the drawings. The characters seemed unappealing, unexpressive and flat. Everything that E wasn't.

The "GOLIATH SPECIAL by Hashimoto" didn't grab us. Again he seemed like a normal man, an older man, with pointy ears and big hair.

Hope all the above is helpful.

Greg.

cc: Bruce Cranston, Barbara Ferro, Lenora Hume, Gary Krisel, Paul Lacy, Tom Ruzicka, Dave Schwartz.


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Design work memo...

The following is a memo I sent to Walt Disney Japan. They sent us character designs (based on inspirational work by Greg Guler and Dave Schwartz) on Goliath, Lex, Broadway and Brooklyn by at least five different designers. (Maybe more, I can't remember.) We immediately liked designer E (Kazuyoshi Takeuchi) and he eventually became the lead character designer for the series' first season.

I know what follows may be a tad frustrating since it refers to art you can't see. But I thought you might be interested anyway.

To: Motoyoshi Tokunaga 7-21-93

From: Greg Weisman

Re: GARGOYLES DESIGN WORK

Dear Mr. Tokunaga,

We were very excited to receive the preliminary design work on the four major gargoyle characters. Designer "E" seemed to come the closest to capturing our vision of the series. His or her work impressed us, but begs the question whether or not you believe we could effectively animate designs that are this complex?

If the answer is yes, we'd like to see Designer "E" continue his development of the characters, focusing particularly on heads, faces and wing design. As a secondary concern, we might attempt line drawings, turnarounds and even some color.

Gary and Lenora have asked me to gather together a few notes, thoughts and suggestions for you. So here goes...

GOLIATH
E-1, E-3. A major concern for all of us is figuring out how the wings attach to the gargoyles' backs so that there is a real feeling of believable musculature. How does it look from the rear, for example, when we can't hide where they attach behind a shoulder blade?

E-3, E-4. When the wings are spread, and particularly when they are in flight, we probably want to cheat them larger, so they fill the screen except from an extreme distance. We really need to believe they are large enough to carry his weight.

E-3. We like the dramatic posing on all the shots. But in E-3, he looks satanic rather than heroic. Occasionally, we'd like to see a more classically heroic pose. We want to make sure that Goliath and the others don't look consistently demonic.

E-5. It's lovely how the wings are draped here.

E-2, E-5, E-6. This is a great start in terms of facial expressions. We'd like to see more of them...a greater range of expressions. Intelligent. Laughing. Pensive. Wry. Perplexed. Noble. Mildly amused. Etc.

Gary also has some concerns about the head's design. He wants to make sure that the head or face does not lose its "depth"; (meaning "depth" as a measurement like "width" or "height", not "depth" as a personality trait). I'm not sure I see this problem myself, but I might suggest keeping the ears back, the jawline long and the jaw square.

E-3, E-5. We want to make sure that the hair on his head has mass, but falls like hair, and doesn't look like a removable helmet. The key here might be in the way it is layered.

I've included some old designs done by one of our artists last year. They should give you some ideas on color, simplicity, etc. Don't feel bound by them. I've numbered them for discussion, Disney-1, Disney-2, etc.

In Disney-1, Gary felt very comfortable with the simplicity of the lines and design of the body. But he did not like the head, again feeling it did not have enough depth.

It's also important to set the balance between the animalistic and human in all of these characters. Some of the "Disney" drawings may be too human in the face. And there's a nice animalistic quality about some of the "E" drawings. But we need to be careful we're not losing Goliath's nobility either. We need to strike a balance.

Disney-1 gives an example of the classically heroic pose that we will need on occasion.

Disney-1 also serves to illustrate how we'd like the hair to fall.

Other questions raised by Disney-1, include whether or not Goliath looks broad enough in chest and shoulders?

Also, whether he should have Disney-1's high weight-lifter's belt around his stomach, or whether we should lower it to his waist as in Disney-4?

Disney-4 also illustrates a head shape that may have the depth that Gary's looking for.

Also, notice the arm hair in Disney-1. It's always been a bit problematic, a bit stiff. But we think it might add something in color. Helps break up the design a bit. But we're not sure if it's worth it. It might be something for all of you to experiment with.

Disney-5 helps illustrate how the length of Goliath's wings will constantly be cheated to suit the situation or pose. But they should always give the illusion that if they were spread out to full size, the wing-span would be fairly enormous.

BROOKLYN, LEXINGTON & BROADWAY
E-7, E-9, E-10. We have similar concerns for Brooklyn & Broadway, regarding wing construction, attachment and musculature.

E-8. Lexington's glider-wings in the down-shot seem to be coming out of his stomach and the bottoms of his arms. We prefer how it looks in the up-shot, where they are webbed between his back and the tops of his arms. I like how the wings are attached to both sets of arms, not just the upper arms as in our original designs. A big improvement.

E-7, E-8, E-9. As for faces, Gary is concerned about animating emotions and expressions when we don't have pupils in their eyes. We discussed the possibility that they normally have pupils, but that when they are in battle, their eyes glow solidly. Again we'd like to see a range of expressions. Particularly because it is so easy for the trio (Lexington especially) to look demonic, we'd like to see some softer, gentler expressions.

E-10. We're also interested in the trio's scale relative to Goliath. Goliath should still be the biggest of them by some visible amount.

Thanks again for all your efforts. Good luck on the next go 'round.

cc: Bruce Cranston, Barbara Ferro, Lenora Hume, Gary Krisel, Paul Lacy, Tom Ruzicka, Dave Schwartz.


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An old memo...

It's been awhile, but I'd like to try and continue to post old memos and such from my development file.

This is where we left off in July of 1993...

[2] From: Bruce Cranston 7/16/93 10:57AM (801 bytes: 10 ln)

To: Suzanne Prescott
cc: Greg Weisman, Paul Lacy, Adrienne Bello

Subject: CYBERCORP.

------------------------------- Message Contents -------------------------------

In our outline for the Gargoyle's pilot, we refer to a fictional robotics company named CYBERCORP. Adrienne suggested that I have you check that there's no real company by that name. They aren't bad guys or anything. The bad guys steal something from them. But I guess we should check. Does it cost money to check7

It isn't necessary to check it at this point, especially if the clearance fee is more than $100.00 or so.
Please just remember to do a check once we get the go-ahead to production.


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Chapter XXXIX: "Kingdom"

Time to get back to rambling...

Well, we've had our adventure in Avalon and made a couple stops on what I knew was going to be a long trip. Time to check in on the home front.

Only trouble is, as these things originally aired, this one actually didn't manage to get broadcast right here. It just wasn't ready in time, and we had enough trouble airing reruns without holding up episodes that were ready to go just because this one wasn't. And besides it was all part of Tier Four. So we couldn't justify waiting for it.

Still. Out of the 66 eps I was involved in, only two aired out of order. "The Price" aired too soon. "Kingdom" aired too late.

Hope it didn't screw too much with your sense of continuity.

Oh, by the way, Kingdom was

Directed by Bob Kline
Story Edited by Gary Sperling
Written By Marty Isenberg & Robert Skir

KINGDOM (BROOKLYN & TALON)

The title, I believe, was another one of my one word 'theme' titles. It refers, of course, to the newly established kingdom of the Labyrinth and who and how it will be ruled. Can any organization exist without leadership? Or will a power vacuum by nature be filled by something, positive or negative?

We have in this show two reluctant leaders. Brooklyn and Talon. Ironically, Talon seems to have no problem asserting himself to lead -- especially among the Gargoyles in the void of Brooklyn's unleadership. He wants the authoritiy of leadership without the responsiblilty that comes with actually having the title.

Brooklyn feels a burden of leadership that's two-fold. On the one hand, he feels like acknowledging his role as leader is a betrayal of Goliath. Like he's giving up on finding his older brother. On the other hand, he feels intimidated by trying to fill Goliath's shoes (assuming Goliath wore shoes).

He's specializing in 'avoidance' or as Kent Brockman would say, "Avoision".

"Why are you looking at me?"
"Perfect."
"Stop asking me that. I don't know."

Everyone else is actually working on the missing Goliath/Bronx/Elisa problem. Brooklyn isn't even doing that, because any action risks being misinterpreted as leadership.

HUDSON

So throughout, Hudson uses psychology to gently nudge Brooklyn into the right mental space.

Guess he'll go to the Labyrinth to ask Elisa's brother if he's seen her. Might see Maggie there....

Suddenly Brooklyn is volunteering. For the wrong reasons, of course, but Hudson has at least gotten him started. Moved him from active to passive.

CAGNEY

Is fun in this. Didn't want to leave the poor cat alone for months now, did we? I like how Broadway and Hudson care for him. How the cat reacts, sleeping on Hudson's head, when Hudson wakes up. How he reacts to Maggie the (other) Cat. How Hudson, quietly admits just how much he loves Bronx in Cagney's presence.

AL, CHAS and ?

I like these guys. They're well characterized in just a few little bits.

Al's the homeless guy that Fang harrasses. Chas and his buddy (who's name I didn't catch this time through -- though I know I have it written down at the office) are Fang's cronies.

Jeff Bennett (as Chas' buddy) is very funny describing their discovery to Fang.

There's a brief moment at the end, where it looks like Lex and BW might be smashing these two guys heads in with rocks. But we pull back and see they're really smashing the guns. I don't think we'd get away with even the tease of that in the current S&P atmosphere.

I wonder where they went after Talon chased them out. Can't help thinking they were naturals to join the Quarrymen.

And how's Al doing?

FANG & CLAW

I love Belushi as Fang. (He's got a great growl that's a sound effect, but it works great with Belushi's stuff.) My wife Beth thought Jim was too over the top. But I think he's hilarious.

He's got a bunch of great lines:

"...Flying bug zappers."
"Now wouldn't that be a crying shame."
"Open the door, Fang. Protect the weak, Fang."
"There's a new Sheriff in town."
"Ahhh, mannn...."
"Mutate humor."

Talon: "You and what army?"

Fang: "This army, pal. And you're our first prisoner of war." (Though technically Talon is the second, since Maggie's already trapped in the gun chamber.)

My nearly eight-year-old-daughter Erin asked, "Is he greedy or jealous?" Both, probably.

And he is bright enought to trick Talon.

And Claw is just a love. Charming in his silence. He really comes into his own in this ep, you know?

Incidentally, this year "Kingdom" made the fan's top ten favorite episodes, alongside such others as: "Hunter's Moon, Parts One, Two and Three," "The Mirror," "Future Tense," and others.

I was a bit surprised. Most of the other ten look a hell of a lot better than this one. It's a tribute to Brooklyn's popularity probably, but also, I think to Claw.

There's great fun throughout with that darn key card. Fang trying to bust into the gun chamber initially. Being so frustrated, and Claw just lowering the card in front of him.

"Give me that!" Fang says and grabs it.

Later, after Maggie's escaped, and Fang regains consciousness to find out what happened, Claw does his intentionally indecipherable pantomime schtick. And Fang simply repeats: "Give me that!"

MATT

The scene with Broadway and Matt is oddly animated. Looks briefly like it's from some other show. But there's something strangely cool about the animation, even though it's off.

MAGGIE

Erin said, "I like Maggie. She's very..." But she didn't complete the sentence. Even with prompting from both Beth and myself. She just liked her, I guess.

Maggie begs Claw to let her out. So that she can join the fight? No. So that she can get help. That's Maggie's version of bravery. And I'm not knocking it. Frankly, it's what we teach our kids. You don't teach them to enter dangerous situations. You teach them to go get help. Dial 911. Maggie will never be a warrior, though she has the power for it. It's just not who she is. Normally, that might bug me. But this was a show with so many strong warrior female types, that I liked having the variety.

But this episode doesn't happen to have any of those strong female types like Elisa or Angela or Fox or even Demona. Did it bother anyone that Maggie was the only woman depicted and that she never participated in battle?

Maggie does get to shine in an area that comes more natural to her. Acting. She figures out at the end what Brooklyn is up to, and then performs her heart out to keep Fang in the dark, as she releases Derek. Well, I've always said she came from Ohio to make it in NYC as an actress...

She and Talon are now even more firmly established as a couple. Even in Brooklyn's mind. Finally, he adjusts and moves on.

XANATOS & OWEN

Hey, how about that new security system, installed as a result of Thailog's 'kidnapping' in Double Jep. Doesn't it... SUCK??!!!!!

The cannons do WAY more damage to X's castle than to anyone or anything else. And I also felt like we had done this before at Mac's place in Lighthouse and the Price.

So this is just weak. A failure on our part to come up with something stronger, more original, etc. We needed some action around now. But I still wish we had cracked this better.

There are some fun moments, if not always for the right reasons...

There's a comedy WAY off-model Broadway riding the exploding cannon.

There's a couple gargs falling through X's ceiling.

And it leads into a fun scene...

Owen's stone fist use (though a great idea) is actually a touch feeble, but X is in rare form...

Xanatos: "Do I really need an excuse to have a good time in my own home?"

And Xanatos: "A man has to make a living."

And Xanatos again: "I wasn't aware I needed permission."

Of course, on my tape that effect is spoiled when he suddenly goes cross-eyed. I'm hoping that's a retake that got corrected after the first airing.

BROOKLYN

Finally, after the debacle at X's place (which winds up being less of a debacle since we never figured out an episode that would show how X would take advantage of the info he learned) and after Maggie's plea for help (Brook could never resist a damsel in distress), Brooklyn finally takes up the role of Leader. Reluctantly.

Brooklyn: "This has nothing to do with what I want."

Hud: "Is that an order then."
Brook: "Yeah, I guess it is." Then look at him right there. That's a hero, am I right?

And Erin says, "Funny. All the leaders have long hair."

Hmmmm....

And so Brooklyn can't avoid leadership...

"Yeah, try as I might."

And he and Talon shake hands, as both accept the roles destiny has thrusted upon them. It looks good on them.

And that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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3x3 Eyes TV Premiere

FYI

I've been told that at midnight tonight (Friday 7/12/02 -- or more accurately Saturday 'morning' 7/13) the English dub of the anime series 3x3 Eyes that I voice directed will be airing on Encore (a.k.a. the Action Channel).


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GATHERING 2002 RAMBLE: TUESDAY

Got to sleep a touch later. Went down to the lobby and turned in my key. Kess and Arno drove Kathy and I to the airport. (Thanks guys!)

We had some Burger King.

Had a bit of a wait for our flight.

Then we flew to Atlanta -- I think I slept most of the way -- where I said good-bye to Kathy.

Then I had a layover waiting for my L.A. flight.

Ate some more, of course. Jambalaya, I think. And a candy bar.

Got on the plane. The movie was "The Rookie". I'd already seen it, and though I liked it, I figured I didn't need to pay $5 to see it again, so I read mostly. Finished a Hillerman mystery and started reading a biography of Queen Henrietta.

Got to LAX. Got home. Hugged my wife and kids and distributed much booty.

A great trip!!!

Thanks, all of you!!!


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GATHERING 2003 RAMBLE: MONDAY

I was probably operating on about eight hours sleep for the whole con going into Busch Gardens, which may explain what comes later.

Anyway, we all met in the hotel lobby and divided up cars. I went with Kathy, Lanny and Derek and the four of us pretty much stuck together for the entire day, with many other people entering and exiting and meeting back up and dividing off, etc.

We got to the park, and Sara and Kelly Fay joined us for muffins (or an Apple Strudel in my case) before we headed to our first rides. Kathy and I rode the Loch Ness Monster.

Everyone but Kelly (who had a cold) rode the Pompeii thing. This had WAY too much actual fire and gasoline for my tastes. We all got a bit soaked. But on the next water ride, Kathy got absolutely drenched.

While she bought new clothes, I bought some souvenirs for the kids.

Mandy found us and we road some kind of autopiaesque thing.

It's all a bit of a blur, of course. But eventually we wound up meeting up with Denis, Jade, Abram, Sara B./Liz, Dreamie, Winterwolf, KWS and Tore for lunch at the barbecue place. I had some good babyback ribs and a lemonade. (The food of course, I remember clearly.)

Then we divided up again. Saw some eagles, birds, snakes, hawks.

Met up again, to see some Irish Dancing in a wonderfully air-conditioned theater. (I nearly dozed off waiting. Kinda wish I had, as the naplet might have helped me later.)

We went to see the wolves, which was neat. But also that was the one part of the day where we were just standing in the sun baking. I literally poured nearly an entire bottle of water over my head. And I was still frying. So we didn't wait for the actual wolf show.

Kathy and I rode the Big Bad Wolf Roller Coaster.

Jubes and Lanny and I rode some twirly thing.

I got a carmel apple at some point.

Etc.

DINNER. Italian. Pretty good food at this park. Eggplant parmesian. Breadsticks. Watermelon. Spaghetti with Meat sauce. All good. We listened to a brief Swing Band set. It was nice.

Kelly and Tore kept planning on leaving after just one more thing, but they wound up staying all night.

We all met up again to see the Cirque de Soleil-ish "Imaginique" show. I saw the beginning and the end. But I spent the middle fighting off a major doze. I shouldn't have fought. If I had just let myself go, I probably would have slept for five minutes and woke up to see the show. Instead I really have no memory of the middle of the show. And I understand it was stunning.

Oh, well.

Then came the embarrassing incident with the banana split in a waffle cone. The less said the better.

On our way out we saw a couple Clydesdales. I was blown away. I had never seen one in person before. I had no idea just how big they were. Nothing in the Bud commercials gives you an idea of the massive scale. Dinosaurs literally came to mind. Wow.

Finally we left the park. The day had been one long series of goodbyes. Jubes gave me a couple of Monsters, Inc. t-shirts for the kids, prizes for the junior art contest. (They loved them, btw. They really cleaned up this trip.)

Then the four of us returned to the hotel and I went upstairs and just crashed.


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GATHERING 2002 RAMBLE: Sunday

Dragged myself out of bed Sunday Morning for the Roughnecks/Starship Troopers Q&A. We got the VCR working, but not the DVD player, so I couldn't show any of the new "Homefront Arc" DVD (now available in stores) as planned. But I did show those funny, funky Troopers music videos. They're always good for a laugh or two.

The Troopers Q&A bled right into a Team Atlantis panel with Greg Guler and myself. Lots of explanation of what happened, what went wrong, etc. Funny AND Depressing, right?

Then that panel led right into a VOICE ACTING SEMINAR. I had some fun playing with the Demona audition side, but we read a scene from M.I.A. and I just couldn't seem to get my act or thoughts together. Maybe I was tired. I'll try to do better next time. (I think I missed Thom.)

Next came the Auction. Greg G. and I sat in the back occasionally autographing things while the auction went on. As usual the free-flowing bids astounded us both. All my Team Atlantis/Gargoyles materials sold to Carol & Zach for $300. The high bid was for one of Roy Sato's original drawings of Demona: $510, I think. Though the funniest bidding was Kaioto desperately paying something like $276 for Roy's Lex sketch for Lexy. (More on that later.)

I think I signed WAY less stuff this year than in any previous year. Obviously no one has anything left for me to sign. Some of the stuff I did sign made me feel guilty; it seemed to me I was clearly spoiling someone elses artwork with my scrawl.

Some poor fools even asked me to do one of my horrible sketches in their books.

I also got to talk to some people. Noel stopped by. Glad to hear you're feeling better. I got to talk to Karine and her beau Adam. (Siryn's beau is also an Adam. Is that like a new rule?) Karine drew a very fun sketch of me looking tired and besieged. I'll cop to the tired. But I was hardly besieged. (Karine and Sara Berkeley's drawings are now both on my daughter's bulletin board.)

My kids' art tied for first in the Junior Division, among stiff competition, I assure you.

Siryn purchased Erin's "Ocean Sirin" and Kelly C. bought Benny's "Erika". Half the money went to charity. Half went right into my kids' hot little hands when I got home on Tuesday. (Thanks Si. Thanks, Kelly. It meant a lot to them. As did those cool laminated nametags.)

After the auction, Greg Guler and Carol Wagner had to leave for the airport. So we all said goodbye. They both did great, don't you think?

Somewhere in there, I feel like I must have had some lunch, if for no other reason then I love eating. But I swear I can't remember where I ate or with whom. Might I actually have skipped a meal? Hmmmm.

Anyway, closing ceremonies. Greg and I had already decided to give the Thom Adcox Memorial Award to Kai. Sure his fiancée has one already, but we felt he deserved it for emptying his wallet for a Lexington drawing for his bride-to-be. Jubes and I were supposed to call Thom and run our choice by him before hand. But we forgot. So he can live with it.

Afterwards, a group of us (myself, Derek, Lanny, Mandy, Jen, Kyt, Kathy, Patrick, Karine and Adam) went to a restaurant called the Whaling Company for dinner. I had some great shrimp, clam chowder and trout and most of a phenomenal dessert. The most astounding thing may have been the way the restaurant volunteered to give EACH of us separate checks.

Next we drove in cars to Yorktown and hopped on a bus to get on a boat for a little river tour. I have to admit that by this time I was so so sleepy that I could barely keep my eyes open. Before I knew it we were getting off the boat and back on the bus to take a walking tour featuring ghost stories of Yorktown.

(Around here we met up with Sarah and her relatives. NOTE: there are a TON of Sara/Sarah/Zehras at this con, including Dreamie, Jubes, Liz, etc. I mean lots!!)

The ghost stories were mildly interesting, but the tour guide was really getting on my nerves by punctuating every tale with a very cheesy maniacal laugh that made everything she told us seem phony as hell.

There was a funny moment when she looked at Kyt (on a leash) and Jen and asked if we were part of a fraternity prank. Kathy said it was a family reunion, which was both funny and true enough.

Cooler than the stories were the deer and fireflys we saw. The latter really made me feel like I was in Pirates of the Carribean.

We skipped a last bus ride and walked back to our cars. Then drove back to the hotel.

We stopped by the Dead Dog Party at the Con Suite. But eventually a few of us (Zehra, Zach, Lanny, Derek, Kathy, myself, Jubes, Mandy, Jen & Patrick) ended up in Kathy & Mandy's room. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard. When Kathy asked Zach why he was blinking (meaning his pager -- but we all thought she meant his eyes) I couldn't even look at Zach (trying to analyze his own eye blinks) without falling out of my chair.

I've known Zach for years now. He's been to Gatherings and I've taught him in my Animation Writing Class -- twice! But I only really got to know him on this trip. He is a really funny guy.

I always get a second wind REALLY late at night, but I knew I'd be hurting in the morning, so when Lanny & Derek called it a night, I did the same. I'm not sure I was coherent enough to focus on saying a real goodbye to the people I wouldn't see the next day. Whoops? Sorry.

I collapsed, more or less, and went to sleep.

MORE TO COME...


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GATHERING 2002 RAMBLE: SATURDAY

[Already, my memory is blurring, so forgive me...]

I set my alarm Saturday Morning for 7:00am. Sometimes I turn over and wake up later. But I don't remember that. I remember turning off the alarm and getting up and the clock reading 8:00am. Like I was abducted by aliens for an hour or something.

Anyway, I got downstairs and Jen Anderson joined me for our second round of auditions. We had a lot of good people try out but unfortunately, this year's radio play had a very small cast.

Jen and I went up to my room to cast the show. This year we were doing an episode that I wrote for the now defunct Team Atlantis series. The biggest part was for Doctor Sweet, so we put that aside at first. Then nearly forgot to go back and cast it. I will say that Jen has great casting instincts. Better than mine I think. Anyway, between us, we wound up with a great group:

MILO THATCH - Gabriel
QUEEN KIDA - Siryn
DR. JOSHUA SWEET - Adam Leigh
MOLE - Zach Baker
VINNY - Lanny Fields
OBBY - Kythera
WHITMORE - Ed Ketcham
FIONA CANMORE - Zehra Q. Fazal
THE GORLOIS - Fern A. Wharton
FRENCH DOCTOR - Sara Hutchinson
MALE PEDESTRIAN - Erik Mambu
FEMALE PEDESTRIAN - Jen Anderson

We posted the cast list downstairs and then went next door to -- surprise, surprise -- a Pancake/Waffle House for lunch.

Came back and ran our rehearsal, which went fairly well. I never know how much direction to give. I feel vaguely incompetent, but we're all just in it for a good time, so I try not to sweat it too much. The rehearsal went smoothly and quickly, so we had a little time off. I went to my room to change and decompress for a bit.

Then it was back downstairs for the production. It went very well. Everyone was great, though I think special kudos should go to Adam for being a kick-ass Sweet. And too Lanny and Zach who made a seriously hilarious comedy team with their Vinny and Mole.

After the Radio Play had ended, I played the actual audio tape of the Team Atlantis Episode that I had voice directed, featuring the following cast...

MILO THATCH - James Taylor
QUEEN KIDA - Cree Summer
DR. JOSHUA SWEET - Phil Morris
MOLE - Corey Burton
VINNY - Don Novello
OBBY - Frank Welker
WHITMORE - John Mahoney
FIONA CANMORE - Sheena Easton
THE GORLOIS - Marina Sirtis
FRENCH DOCTOR - Frank Welker
PEDESTRIAN - Frank Welker

(Note: the reason I had two pedestrians instead of one in the Radio Play was so that I'd have both male and female understudies available. This goes back to Orlando, where one of the people I had cast didn't show up to the rehearsal or performance.)

Anyway, it was fun.

After that, I think Mandy, Jen, Patrick, Kathy and I went to McDonalds. I know I had a Quarter Pounder and an apple pie at some point that day.

Next came another Mug-A-Guest. I remember nothing. All a blur. Sorry.

Next came dinner. Greg Guler and I sat with JEB and Jack(?) and ate hot dogs, Mac & Cheese and another hamburger. I actually have a personal rule that I won't eat more than one hamburger a day. (Think about what kind of eater I am, that I require that rule.) And anyway, I broke the rule.

After eating, Greg G. and I did a Garg Q&A. Because of the two-tiered banquet space, I actually used a microphone for the first time in forever. Usually my voice carries. It was fun. Although I don't know if I covered anything new.

Banquet over, I retired to my room again. Called home. Relaxed. Then it was time for the costume ball. Greg and I exchanged name tags, so that I could come to the ball 'dressed' as Greg Guler, and he could come as Greg Weisman. (Unfortunately no one got the joke without us explaining it.)

The costume contest seemed shorter this year. Like fewer people entered. But there were some GREAT entries. Greg, Siryn and I were the judges.

Lynati's costume was just amazing!

Jen & Patrick won the Gorelisa Award for dressing as Xanatos and Fox respectively.

Aaron & Mara made fun of me and were rewarded for that.

Tony kissed me and got no prize. (Take note!)

Cutest Couple went to Kyt and Robb(?) who separately came as Puck and Owen. It just worked.

There were other cool costumes too.

After the contest, some people danced. Many asked me to dance, but I declined. Sorry. It's my natural introvertness taking over. (You guys don't see that, cuz I'm such a big mouth. Don't ask me to sing either though.)

I talked with a bunch of people. Demona May told me about a job offer she has. Lots of people stopped by to say hello.

Eventually, as usual, I happily found myself on one side of the room talking with a group of you all. It was nice and low-key, and is my favorite part of the con.

Later still, a few of us (me, Patrick, Kyt, Kathy, Zehra, Gabriel and Jen) headed up to Jen and Patrick's room for Pizza. We tried to freak out Zehra and Gabe with tales of Gatherings Past. Both of them were in last year's radio play, but I didn't really get to know them until this year. That usually happens. I'll meet someone, forget (sorry SpaceBabie), remeet, become acquainted. But there are so many people, it usually takes me two or three Gatherings to really get to know anyone. I'm not complaining. It makes every Gathering fun.

Anyway, finally, like close to fourish, I dragged myself back to my room. I even got to sleep eventually.


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GATHERING 2002 RAMBLE: FRIDAY

Well, I got a wake-up call from the hotel. Dragged myself out of bed (it was still pretty damn early in L.A.) I was brushing my teeth, when Kathy did her traditional WAKE-UP stop by to give me my badge.

After showering and clothing, I headed downstairs and scoped things out. Almost immediately I got some cool stuff. My G2002 t-shirt. An "I Surivived G2001" T-Shirt from that staff. A very cool drawing of Elisa as a little girl, sleeping with a plush Goliath, while kitten Cagney cuddles a plush Demona and plush Hudson, Bronx, Trio, Angela and Coldstone sit on a shelf. This was drawn by Sara Berkeley aka Liz, who gave it to me. It was nice to get to know Sara/Liz a bit. She did some great stuff in the art show. (As did many.) I just wished she had asked me if she could put the picture she gave me up in the show. I would have gladly said yes.

I also gave Erin and Benny's pictures to Kelly to put in the art show. She put cool name tags up for them. It all looked very official. I was sorry they didn't get to see it.

I had a Mug-A-Guest next. At first only one person had signed up for it, but we wound up with a decent room. Already, though I remember none of what was said. But I had fun.

Then a group of us snuck away to IHOP for lunch: Myself, Jen, Patrick, Kathy, Revel and Emambu. As usual I ate like a pig. I got the wrong kind of eggs, and so wound up getting two sets of eggs and bacon. Ate most of both too.

Came back to begin Auditions for the Radio Play. Jen Anderson was my casting associate, returning to the roll she held in '99 and '00. (Jordan Mann covered that duty in '98 and '01.) A bunch of great people auditioned. But this year's cast was very small. I knew we'd have to leave out quite a few good people for lack of parts.

With more auditions on Saturday though, we didn't have to make any decisions yet.

So next was a Q&A on the Disney Afternoon. I showed a clip from Talespin and a few clips from Bonkers. I used a dry-erase board to try and explain what we were trying to do when programming the Afternoon. Ran out of time before we got to too many actual Qs or As. My fault. I just really like the sound of my own voice. Sorry.

After that Q&A, I'm not sure what I did for the next hour. Can't remember. Might have relaxed in my room for a bit.

Then came Opening Ceremonies. Greg and I sat up front. Siryn intro'd everyone. Kelly read her cool fandom poem. GXB, Mara and Aaron pitched the G2003 con. Then, more or less, it was my turn.

I asked to see a show of hands of Con Virgins and was so stunned by the high percentage that I thought at first that the question had been misunderstood. It was also great to see how many returnees we had from one or more previous years. Including a handful that had been to every con (like me).

I was happy to have some good news to impart. The con has started to make an impression on Disney. Toon Disney donated boxes and boxes of shirts, sweatshirts and hats as free give-aways. I'm sure they were just sitting in a box somewhere, but they now know the con exists. We didn't solicit these shirts. They offered.

And the BIG news. Disney DVD is going to release at least one Gargoyle DVD in 2003. Not many more details yet. But it's a major step. With consistent good sales, I think it's fair to say that they will eventually release the entire series on DVD. And that could lead to other things as well. This is a huge piece of good news and a direct result of my having the cons to tell them about. I've said it before, but the Gatherings represent the best possible way to get Disney to take notice and bring the show back in some way, shape or form.

Anyway, after the announcements, I started my standard schpiel with the standard videos. I tossed in a rarely seen promo that's narrated by Jonathan Frakes. And I forgot to tell people not to audio or video tape the BAD GUYS reel. I hope everyone listened when I asked later to destroy any tapes including Bad Guys.

After Opening Ceremonies, Greg and I went to Patrick and Kathy's adult fiction panel. But we BOTH got the distinct impression that our presence was hampering conversation so we left.

We went up to the Con Suite where Lexy and Kai were throwing a little Chinese Food party to celebrate their coming nuptuals. Great food. And I had fun.

We left again to go back downstairs to sit in on a portion of Hudson and Chris' fandom panel. Most of it was tech stuff that went over my head. There was a discussion on plaigarism, so I stood up to say how easy it is to avoid plaigarism by simply giving credit where it was due, etc. Then Greg and I left, as things got more technical again.

We went back upstairs to the con suite.

Then eventually I headed back downstairs again for my LATE NIGHT MUG-A-GUEST. This was supposed to be for people 18 and over so we could have adult themed conversations. But I think only one vaguely adult topic was briefly raised. Anyway, we just had a nice time talking until we got booted out.

I vaguely recall heading back up to the con suite for a while. But eventually I made my way to bed. VERY LATE as usual and I had to get up even earlier the next morning. So we're talking little sleep...

MORE TO COME...


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GATHERING 2002 RAMBLE: THURSDAY

Well, I'm back.

Time to ramble on the Gathering.

Let me start by saying, that as usual: IT ROCKED!!! I had a blast and I'm so grateful to the amazing staff: Siryn, Carol, Jubes, KWSapphire, MAui, Abram, Kess, Jessie and Mr. Andy. You guys all did a fantastic job. You should be very proud of yourselves. God knows, I'm proud of you.

Second, let me apologize in advance. So much happens in these weekends that I'm bound to forget things and people and stuff. But I was very glad to see you all, old faces and new.

Anyway, Thursday.

I got to the airport and immediately got in this ridiculously long line to check in. (I had an e-ticket and couldn't go to the gate first.)

I spotted Greg Guler outside and thought he was checking a bag with the skycap. When he came in I waved him over and he looked at me and said, "Are you checking a bag?" I said no. He said, "Then why are you waiting in this line?" Turns out he hadn't checked a bag, but rather was checking in with the skycap. So I walked outside and did the same and we both were at our gate within ten minutes.

Oddly, my parents were at the very next gate waiting to board a plane to Utah. I had a vague notion that they were going on a trip, but I had no idea I'd see them at the airport. So Greg and my mom and dad and I talked until they had to board. Then I grabbed some breakfast croissants (cuz I like to eat) and Greg and I got on the plane to Atlanta.

We both had aisle seats on an interior row, with a young woman sitting between us who had a faux fur blindfold to facilitate sleeping. She also had perfect lipstick which she spent a lot of time applying -- and I don't usually notice that kind of thing.

Anyway, when the food came she said the desert tasted like Tanning Oil. I also thought it tasted really bad. But she seemed convinced that it actually tasted like Tanning Oil.

We arrived in Atlanta early, but thunderstorms delayed our flight to Newport News, Virginia. Kathy Pogge joined us in the Atlanta airport, and the three of us just sat around talking. I did a lot of just sitting around and talking on this trip -- it's always the funnest part.

Finally, the plane departed two hours late. We tried to reach people in Virginia to warn them, but no one we called answered their cellphones.

Kathy and I sat next to each other on the flight and were treated to a stunning lightning storm. We were flying between two cloud banks and the lightning that arced between them was really amazing. Almost scary, though the flight wasn't even turbulent, so I guess we weren't that close to the storm.

We arrived in Newport News, where Carol had been waiting forever for us. She was great. Special thanks to her for all she did in getting Greg and me there and making sure we were taken care of throughout. Things were so crazed I barely got to spend any time with her, but I'm very grateful.

Anyway, it was a navigational adventure finding our way to the hotel, but we arrived. Immediately saw a bunch of familiar faces, including Jen Anderson and Patrick Toman. I hadn't thought Jen was coming... That was supposed to be a big surprise, but I was more confused than surprised. But I was VERY glad to see her. The con wouldn't be as much fun without her.

We checked in and met back down in the lobby for a VERY late dinner at Denny's. There was Greg Guler, myself, Jen, Kythera, Patrick, Kathy, Siryn and Kelly Creighton. Service was slow, but the food hit the spot. And I was just giddy to be with everyone again.

We got back to the hotel and I tried to crash, although honestly, I was so excited, I don't think I went to sleep until 4amish.

MORE TO COME...


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LIGHTBULB CONTEST RESULTS

I'd like to thank everyone who entered (forgive me if I skip or mispell anyone):
Zach Baker
Vashkoda
Demoness
Greg Bishansky
Josh Wurzel
Goliath JD - Jack Donovan
Lord Sloth
Aris Katsaris
Blaise
DragonWolf
Guardian/Carole
matt
Airportman
Lady Mystic
Jim R.
Noel Leas
Lynati
Kelly L. Creighton/Kya White Sapphire
Amanda
Jimmy
Alex Katsaros
lefay_82
Patricia
Z
Kali Gargoyle
(the guppi)
Jon

First the honorable mentions:

matt writes...

how many gargoyles??? i asked Anubis, he said:

"the lightbulb has died, let it rest. ultraviolet or standard, 55 or 100 watt, all light bulb are equal in death. burning out is the ultimate fairness..."

Airportman writes...

How many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Gargoyles do not screw in lightbulbs, they ROAR!!!

Jim R. writes...

Fang: "Hey, Goliath, how many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb...?"
Goliath: "Silly mutate, lightbulbs are for humans."

Lynati writes...

(Fang voice:)"How many Gargoyles does it take to change a lightbulb?

...None! They don't have time to change lighbulbs! They are too busy out harassing innocent citizens who are just minding their own business and locking them up in drafty Frankenstein cells! With no TV! HEY! DON'T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME WHEN I'M YELLING AT YOU! ...ya creep..."

Patricia writes...

Fang: Hey, Goliath, how many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb...

Goliath: You mean the lightbulb died? We must have a Wind Ceremony for it. Come. (exits)

Fang: No, Goliath, wait! (signs) Man, he can't even take a joke!

Now, in second place...

DragonWolf writes...

How many Gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

"Six. One to screw in the lightbulb and five to berate themselves for not protecting the old one from burning out."

DragonWolf's prize for second place is highly speculative. Since the winning entry -- for obvious reasons -- could never actually be used in a script, I'm giving DragonWolf the honor of putting words in Fang's mouth should I ever get the opportunity (and assuming I don't find one I like better before then).

Congratulations!!

And finally, our winner!!!!

Aris Katsaris writes...

"How many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Greg responds: I'm home right now and the answer is in my office. Ask again later.

"How many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Greg responds: Your assumptions are incorrect.

"How many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Greg responds: I'm not that big in quantifying things. Lots, I guess.

"How many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightblub?"
Greg responds: What's a lightblub?

"How many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Greg responds: All things are true.

"How many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Greg responds: I wouldn't want to tie down my hands and the hands of the artists in this respect.

"How many gargoyles does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Greg responds: The world may never know. :-)

Yeah, yeah, I know it's at my expense. But it made me laugh. Aris, you da man.

I honestly don't know what you're prize is going to be yet. But e-mail me and we'll figure it out.

Thanks again everyone.

New contest coming soon.

(Which in Ask Greg terms means... someday.)


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Chapter XXXVIII: "Heritage"

Time to ramble...

This chapter was written by Adam Gilad. Story Edited by Gary Sperling, and directed by Frank Paur.

FAME

As I watch each episode with my family, I've got my journal open in front of me to take notes for these rambles. During the opening credits, my five-year-old son Benny said: "I like Gargoyles." I was very pleased, of course. Then he said, "Can you write down that?" So I did. And so I have.

SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT

Back on the skiff, and Elisa still hasn't QUITE gotten the idea. She still anticipates being back in Manhattan. Like visiting Scotland was an anamoly, but now surely Avalon will send them home. (What did you all think at the time?)

And boy, that girl likes her hot dogs. Make her one with everything, you know?

A.K.A. CECIL

Our Sea Monster attacks. It's a cool design, based on research that we did. (It happens to look a lot like a pre-historic whale I saw last night on a Discovery Channel special: "Walking with Pre-Historic Beasts".)

I wish we could have found a less generic name for the creature than "Sea Monster". Thunderbird is a cool name -- particularly since I have fond memories of the L.A. T-Birds from Roller Derby telecasts of my youth -- but our research never turned up another name for the Sea Monster.

Keep in mind that though we did research, we also had time constraints. We couldn't keep researching a topic indefinitely. Eventually, we'd have to use what we had and run with it in order for the story and script to be delivered on time.

But I know Gary and Adam did quite a bit of backgrounding for this story. The Sea Monster, Thunderbird, Raven and Grandmother all came from Haida stories -- though we conflated quite a bit, I think. We did always try to be as true as possible to the history and legends we were riffing on.

HEY, WEREN'T THERE FOUR OF YOU?

As the battle with the Sea Monster came to a close, my seven-year-old daughter Erin said: "What about Elisa? Where's Elisa?"

Five seconds later, Goliath surfaces and says pretty much the same thing, before fearing her drowned by shouting "ELISAAAAA!!" (Shades of things to come -- in Hunter's Moon III.)

TOTEM POLES

Speaking of research, the origin of the whole episode was the fact that Totem Poles caught my eye as being a particularly gargoylesque deal. Then we did some preliminary research and found that they weren't carved in anything that seemed to resemble a gargoyle tradition. They were 'carved to honor animal ancestors'. So rather than stretch (or abuse) the truth, we decided to let the characters (and audience) be lured off course by the poles, just as we had been.

Fake GARGOYLES, right here in North America.

In many ways, I think it could be argued that what takes place in this episode is handled or covered in other episodes to come. We have another episode with a 'sea monster'... a more famous sea monster in a certain loch... coming up rapidly in "Monsters". Also in that ep, one of our cast is lost and feared drowned after an early attack by that monster. And much of Nick/Natsilane's dilemma is also re-covered with a more-important recurring character (Peter Maza) in our other Native American-themed episode: "Cloud Fathers". We even do more with a volcano in "Ill Met by Moonlight". On some level I suppose I regret the duplication of efforts. I don't think we usually did this sort of thing.

But I don't regret the episode. I had plans for Raven. Plans for Queen Florence Island. Plans for Nick/Natsilane. I still think the ep has some cool stuff in it. And I think we NEEDED to cover Totem Poles. It was a natural.

HAR with a V. VAR with a D.

I went to a high school in North Hollywood, CA named "Harvard High School". Named after the University. (Some people have incorrectly stated I went to Harvard for college. But I went to Stanford for Undergrad and U.S.C. to get my Masters.)

I don't remember who's idea it was to have Nick be a graduate of Harvard. Might have been mine. Harvard of course is useful as a symbol.

I like Nick/Natsilane. He's got some nice attitude here and a nice shift. Maybe not the most impressive of our so-called "International Heroes". But very likable.

I give a lot of credit to the voice actor for bringing him to life. Gregg Rainwater was brought in by our Voice Director Jamie Thomason. Gregg was terrific. We used him again in Cloud Fathers, but I've used him many times since Gargoyles. I've even written parts with Gregg in mind. He was Jake Nez in Max Steel. And I cast him as Jake MacDonald in 3x3 Eyes. He always brings incredible humanity to a part, I think. Heroic, but real.

THAT'S NOT A CROW

It's a raven. Our second Trickster makes his first appearance. Of the four (Puck, Raven, Anansi and Coyote), Raven was the guy we gave the most evil bent to.

I like all the shape-shifting he does. (Though when he flees at the end, I wanted him to flee in his bird form, not his Raven-Goyle form.) I also like how he lies by using pieces of the Truth.

Raven-Goyle: "There is an evil sorceress named Grandmother. She summoned the monster that you fought."

When he said that, did you believe him?

Of course, Grandmother does have magic power and she did, in a way, summon the Sea Monster.

IT COULD BE WORSE. I ONCE LIVED ON 28TH STREET.

While doing our research, we encountered names of Islands off the Canadian coast like Queen Charlotte Island. So I named the fictional island we'd be using "Queen Florence Island."

Growing up in Woodland Hills, California, I lived on Queen Florence Lane, a street off Queen Victoria Road. Victoria and Florence were the daughters of Michael Curtiz, the director of such films as CASABLANCA. Curtiz, at one time, owned all the property in that area, so he named the two streets after his daughters.

OR so I once was told... by a ghost named Humphrey who tried to convince me that he was Humphrey Bogart, though you could tell by looking at him that he wasn't.

WHO EXACTLY IS THE SICK ONE HERE?

Elisa is so strong so much of the time, that it's kinda sexy to see her vulnerable and feverish.

Notice that Grandmother doesn't use Fairy magic to heal Elisa. She uses Haida medicine. Thus the rule of non-interference is bent not broken.

I like when Nick comes back in and the Fever's broken. And he says just don't tell me you cured her with tree bark.

When she says, "...and roots." His expression is priceless.

SEEING RED

I like the lighting in the Volcano scene.

Goliath is so glad to learn that other clans have survived, that he doesn't notice -- in fact defends -- the inconsistencies in Raven's story.

Angela, on the other hand is suspicious. This was done, in part, to further develop her character. She's naive about certain things. Having been raised by humans, she's not inclined to judge them harshly or fear their prejudices. But she's not stupid. Something doesn't smell right and she notices.

For once, Bronx though does not. I chalk this up to the high quantity of magic being tossed around on this dying island. Grandmother is not what she seems. Neither is Raven. Bronx is confused.

Anyway, Goliath speaks to Gargoyles protecting to explain away why "Raven's Clan" can both hate humans and protect them. You get the sense that he understands all too well. Like despite everything, there's a part of him -- a prejudiced part -- that hasn't forgiven the human race for what happened at Wyvern. (Also keep in mind, he was just at Wyvern again, rehashing all those old memories.)

Of course, once Goliath learns that Raven was pulling something, he's furious at the trickster. Playing on his hopes AND his prejudices, Raven has risked G's wrath.

At the end of this scene, the three silent gargs vanish magically.

Erin said: "What happened? What just happened?"
Benny said: "How did they just vanish?"

They know I know the answer. But I resist telling them. It's a touch cruel. What did you guys think?

YOU CAN TAKE THE GIRL OUT OF THE CITY...

Elisa is such a New Yorker. Everything is compared to that. "This sure isn't Central Park."

Anyway, Raven, then a bear, then Bronx and finally Angela and Goliath find Elisa. I love Goliath and Elisa's hug. It's so unselfconscious. They were so worried about each other that they forgot the usual distance that they maintain.

SUSPICIOUS MINDS

So who did you trust? When the gargs disappeared, that had to indicate that something was up with the Raven-goyle.

So when Goliath tells Elisa that Grandmother is a sorceress, particularly given that Grandmother saved Elisa's life, we all tend to think that G's been duped. Then we spot Grandmother turning into Thunderbird. What did you all think then?

Benny noticed "her ears" and suspected her even before she turned into T-Bird.

THAT'S GOTTA HOIT

A cool moment in the battle against T-Bird is when Goliath rakes the creature with his claws.

Then Angela spots the Illusion. And plays it cool with Raven.

I like Goliath's line to Grandmother: "We live. We do not thrive."

Grandmother than establishes that Raven is a Trickster and that they are both "Children of Oberon". Thus we establish that aspect of our series.

She states that they are forbidden from directly interfering in human affairs. Reinforcing what the Weird Sisters said a few episodes before.

Raven joins the party. The jigs up, but he revels in it. He's got a few decent lines too.

I like "It's so messy."

POOR HORATIO, ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID, NEVER A BRIDE

Elisa more-or-less quotes Shakespeare: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Natsilane, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

I've always loved that line.

Anyway, Goliath and Angela depart to fight Raven. They arrive first, but given the fact that Nick had to...
1. Have a final change of heart.
2. Change clothes.
3. Get up to the volcano without wings.

...He makes good time, don't you think?

Raven brings the totem beasts to life. This was always a bit weird. We introduce illusion gargs based on the totem beasts. But then when we bring the totem pole to actual life (or semblance) we have new designs for the woody creatures.

Does everyone see Goliath play dead for that bear?

Raven has a nice exit line here: "This place no longer amuses me."

Neither does this Ramble.


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Chapter XXXVII: "Shadows of the Past"

Time to ramble....

This chapter (episode) was brought to you by:

Director: Kazuo Terada
Story Editor: Michael Reaves
Story: Michael Reaves
Teleplay: Michael Reaves & Brynne Chandler Reaves

Plus the usual suspects, including Frank and me.

The title is one of Michael's. I had the impulse to shorten it to "Shadows", but I didn't.

THE WORLD TOUR

As the recap ended and Tom shouted out: "Avalon doesn't take you where you want to go. Avalon sends you where you need to be!" My seven-year-old daughter Erin said, "Uh, oh."

"Uh, oh," indeed.

And so we begin Tier Four in earnest. Our quartet of travelers weren't headed straight home. Of course you couldn't know at that time just how long they'd be gone. And frankly when we started writing, neither did we.

It wasn't just the quantity of episodes (23 counting the Avalon three-parter, Kingdom, Pendragon, The Green and Future Tense) that we'd spend before everyone was reunited in Gathering One. It was the reruns in between.

What was supposed to be a five week trip became a five month trip. And so, for many of the fans it became interminable.

Why all the reruns? Well, the schedule finally just caught up with us. When Gargoyles was picked up for a second season by Buena Vista, I was asked how many we could reasonably produce for the fall quarter (between September & December of 1995) without interruption.

I told them that we were prepared to do six more. That was all the scripts that had been ordered (Leader, Legion, Metamorphosis, Lighthouse, Beholder, Vows). But I said we could do 13. We had done 13 the first season with a ten month sliding schedule. Now we had just under twelve months so we could certainly do 13 again.

I was asked what's the most we could do. I said, well if we start right now we can do 18.

Not 52? They asked.

52? Are you nuts? (Well, I didn't say that exactly.) I said we'll never get 52 done for the fall quarter. We'll wind up with a lot of repeats. You (Buena Vista) will not be happy with all those repeats.

They were disappointed. So disappointed, that instead of ordering 18, they only ordered six. (If we can't have 52, then forget it. [Okay, they didn't exactly say that either, but that seemed like the basic attitude.])

So we get to work to do six. Two weeks pass. Buena Vista comes back and says. No, do 13.

We respond with, uh, okay. Of course we've lost two weeks, so it'll be a bit harder, but we can do it.

Two weeks pass. They come back and say, "No, do 18."

We grumble a bit, because now we've lost a month of prep time when we could have been building crews, etc. But okay, I said we could do 18. We'll manage.

Two weeks pass. They come back and say, "Do 52."

Now we balk. We warned you we couldn't do 52 in twelve months. Now you want us to do it in 10? It took us ten to do 13.

Do 52.

And so we did. We built multiple crews. Our staff increased exponentially. We expanded to four writing teams from one. We expanded from one pre-production team (in Japan -- waves at Roy) to three and a half (one in Japan) and two and a half here in L.A.

And we worked like little demons to bring you 52 for the fall quarter. But it was never going to happen.

We wound up doing pretty good. I don't have my old calendar in front of me, and I can't remember exactly how many we managed to air in the fall, but it was considerably more than the 18 that I thought we could do.

But it wasn't 52. And so we had reruns. And reruns. And reruns. And most of those reruns came in the middle of the World Tour. And thus... yes... it seemed to go on forever.

Whoops. Sorry.

Of course, other people didn't care for it for other reasons. They felt it got away from the series strengths of the gargs in Manhattan. Obviously, it left behind four of our characters, and I'll admit that I underestimated the trio's popularity a bit.

But I felt it was important. The World Tour gave our series breadth and hope. It expanded the Gargoyles Universe, added many new characters and in particular added at least four other clans of gargoyles.

And I think some of the stories really kicked ass.

So I apologize for nothing. NOTHING, do you hear me, nothing!!!!!!

Except for that outburst. Sorry about that outburst.

WYVERN, SCOTLAND

Anyway, our first stop was no place new. Goliath immediately recognizes the ocean cliffside as "home, my home."

Even before Hakon and the Captain start to drive him crazy, his dialogue is laced with nostalgia.

He's so into being back in Scotland, that when he climbs the hill, he doesn't even take Elisa with him. Elisa goes with Angela. Which is no big deal. But usually, G's more of a gentleman than that. Particularly with Elisa.

TIDBIT

Angela: "It was always summer on Avalon."

Just wanted to give a sense of things on the fair island. Seemed to fit the legends as well.

TOKYO, JAPAN

I can't say enough good things about the animation in this episode. It's just gorgeous. The work of Disney's studio in Tokyo. WOW! Production AND Pre-Production was done there. All sorts of little touches, like Elisa slipping briefly and regaining her footing. And GREAT, GREAT character animation. Great lighting as the characters enter the tunnels. STELLAR effects animation in the megalith chamber. Just wow gorgeous stuff.

And boy, did we fight over this episode. [Roy, I'd love to get your perspective on this.]

When we got the storyboard from Japan, Frank and I each found something that just drove us nuts.

For Frank, it was the Wyvern cliff. The castle was gone, of course, as Xanatos had taken it away. But the cliff seemed to otherwise remain in tact. Frank was adamant that a chunk of the cliff had clearly been taken away and was part of the Eyrie Building. You could see it on that design. So obviously, we needed a crater of sorts to exist back at Wyvern.

When Frank pointed it out to me, I agreed with him. It didn't bother me as much as it bothered him, but I agreed.

What bothered me was Elisa's parka. In the storyboard, Elisa was wearing a parka with a hood. Of course, she looked great in it. And it kept her warm and safe and dry. But there was of course, no way and no place where she could have acquired that parka. (The Avalon Eddie Bauer, maybe?) So I insisted the parka had to go.

Frank agreed with me after I pointed it out. It didn't bother him as much as it bothered me, but he agreed.

So we gave Japan both these notes. And to our surprise, they balked. They felt that the only changes we were allowed to make to their boards were S&P changes.

We couldn't believe it. Finally, they relented. But on the cliffside ONLY. They felt that was a fair compromise. Since that had been Frank's BIG note, he was appeased. But obviously, I was not. All sorts of people came to me asking me to back down.

But I wouldn't. And I can honestly say it was for you guys that I refused. I knew even then that OUR FANS paid attention. That we couldn't get away with Elisa suddenly having a warm coat from no where.

So I put my foot down, and Elisa stayed cold and wet.

And our Tokyo Studio had another reason to be annoyed with me.

I regret the tension, certainly. But I still think I did the right thing, so I apologize for NOTHING, DO YOU HEAR ME? NOTHING!!!!

Except for that outburst, I apologize for that outburst.

GASLIGHT

A great movie. A husband tries to convince his wife that she's going insane. It's now a staple of melodrama everywhere. And we used it too.

So the ghosts of Hakon and the Captain try to gaslight Goliath.

We tried to gaslight the audience a bit too. Tried to let them think for a bit that Goliath might just be losing it. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, maybe.

You can hear it in Goliath's voice. How he's lost in the past. Angela tells him that he did the right thing all those years ago by saving the Princess.

His only response: "Still, I wanted revenge." I love Keith David's reading of that line.

But we also wanted to play fair, so we dropped a hint: when Goliath hears Demona's voice, Bronx howls. He senses something. Always trust Bronx.

Bronx has a pretty important supporting role in this, btw.

THE AXE OF HAKON

When Goliath and friends first enter the caves, Goliath picks up an old Viking axe. Hakon's Axe. The one he uses in "Vendettas".

Should have been a mace by the way. Should have been the same mace you can see in the opening titles EVERY episode. The one that Hakon used to smash the gargoyles at Wyvern.

Shoulda been. My fault.

Okay, for that -- I apologize. I screwed up. Dang.

THE STREET PIZZA TRADITION

a.k.a.

A CLASSIC MICHAEL REAVES' ELISA LINE:

"This place is creepier than the morgue at midnight."

Michael was great at giving Elisa this tough contemporary feel without taking us out of the moment.

Another good one: "Old wounds bleed as bright as new ones sometimes."

GETTING TO KNOW ANGELA

When Goliath pretends that he's NOT freaking out and having hallucinations, Angela can tell he's lying.

I love Brigitte's read there. She sounds SO SHOCKED: "He's not telling the truth."

You can tell she was raised in a world where there was little cause for lying.

COOL CLIFFHANGER

Goliath attacking Elisa and Angela, thinking they are Hakon and the Captain.

Very dramatic. And again, we don't know yet, objectively that he isn't just going nuts.

What did you guys all think at this point? Did you suspect the truth?

Anyway, Bronx saves the day.

And Goliath runs off. He also has a nice stumble here. Again, parka aside, much amazing attention to detail and character in all this animation. Stunning.

STAR TREK INFLUENCE

No, I'm not talking about the voice cast.

Finally, we objectively reveal that Goliath is being influenced. We see two floating entities hovering over the scene. He doesn't see them, so they're not part of his dementia. Ergo (I don't have much opportunity to use the term ergo you know), ergo, they must be what is causing this.

Of course, they look like energy beings right out of Star Trek.

We also see Demona, Othello and Desdemona.

More of us playing fair. Sure they're identifiable. But of course, they (plus Iago) would be the souls LEAST likely to be haunting Wyvern and Goliath.

SALLI RICHARDSON

Yeah, Keith was the star. And we're always going on about Jeff's versatility. But we really were blessed with an amazing cast right down the line.

Salli does Elisa SO DARN WELL. It's the little things really.

Like when Angela explains about the fissure and how Goliath could die in it. Elisa says, "Swell." Just, "Swell." In one word, she says everything that needs to be said. It's hard. Try it sometime.

SPEAKING OF FISSURES

Bronx saves Goliath (temporarily) from falling by chomping down on his arm. Always thought that was cool. Would have liked to have drawn some blood, but we knew we'd never get away with that.

And the fissure itself is way cool. I love Goliath's fall.

And Elisa's determination, as she starts to climb down feet first. And I love the contrast, as Angela and Bronx, by virtue of their claws, climb down head first.

THE TURN

Some fans have felt, I know, that the Captain's change of heart at the end comes suddenly. That may be so. It's hard in a mere 22 minutes to achieve these arcs and turns. But as usual, we tried to drop subtle hints that he wasn't fully on board with Hakon.

Hakon is enjoying tormenting Goliath.

The Captain says: "Make an end to it." Hinting at his ambivalence. Torturing Goliath doesn't give him pleasure.

And while we're praising voice actors, how about a toast to the late Ed Gilbert, voice of the Captain of the Guard. Wonderful work here. Evil. Tortured. Redeemed.

Ed, wherever you are... THANKS!

THE FATAL FLAW IN YOUR PLAN

Demona. The Captain must have assumed that Demona died in the massacre. He and Hakon figured that her appearance would be the coup de grace. That Goliath's will would just dissolve when faced with her ghost.

They were almost right. But of course, G is no idiot. A bit slow sometimes, but not stupid. Demona's ghost shouldn't be here. Cuz the dame ain't dead.

[By the way, the idea to have her fist morph into a mace was mine. Just a little post-storyboard tidbit that I suggested amid bitching about the parka. They must have liked the idea because that wasn't one I insisted on, but they did it anyway. When push came to shove, everyone -- on both sides of the ocean -- was just VERY dedicated to making the show better.] [See. It's a mace because that's the weapon that we associate with the Massacre. Hakon's axe should have been a mace. How did I miss that?]

Anyway, Goliath figures out the truth and, hey, we've awakened the sleeping giant. He trashes the phony Demona. And we think he's going to smash all the others.

But something even more chilling happens. They all begin to dissolve around him. It still gives me the creeps. Very cool animation AND music and effects. (Props to the gang at Advantage Audio too.)

HOW

Or rather how come we don't have ghosts hanging around ALL the time. I didn't want this episode to open a spectral floodgate, where any character that was killed or had died in the past was available to haunt us.

So the Captain offers two possible explanations: Hate and Magic. Both present in ample supply. Plus Guilt. His guilt. Unfinished business.

THE DANCE

Again, very cool effects on the Megalith's here. But the idea emerges from an old (if not very original) idea I've had since I was a teen. The notion that Stone Dances, that Megalith Circles were like Medieval Mystic Dynamos. Circles of power. That build and generate.

Really came to life here.

I love Hakon's line: "I can feel it. I can feel again." I love that transition halfway through the line between where he can feel that the process is working and when he realizes the simple fact that he can feel things again.

But again, watch the Captain feel his own hand. You can see the ambivalence there. Particularly when Goliath becomes the Ghost and Hakon is beating on him. Cap doesn't participate in this.

And Goliath helps him remember what he has forgotten. The Captain doesn't HATE Goliath. His problem is that G's presence has reinforced his own guilt.

But here's an opportunity to redeem himself: "I can't let this happen again!"

He pushes Hakon back.

Hakon: "You've crossed the lines of power, you fool."

You can almost here the Ghostbusters say, "Don't cross the streams."

RESOLUTION

So Cap hated himself, not G.

G forgives. He forgave the Magus last episode. Now he forgives the Captain. Shows that he's a pretty decent guy.

You think if Hakon made an effort? Nah.

Anyway, I like G's line: "One enemy. And one friend."

And then a positively angelic Captain returns briefly to say goodbye and thanks. I also like the "shackles of hate and guilt" line. And the way he calls Goliath, "Old Friend".

Elisa thinks she's in for a long story.

G: "Centuries long."

And as the sun rises, and Elisa -- as usual -- leans against her stone beau for a nap....

Hakon: "Don't leave me here alone!! Not without anyone to hate!!"

Many people think I should have left him there forever. But evil doesn't rest in peace in my opinion. When left alone it tends to get out of control.

Besides I already had this fun idea. What if Wolf was Hakon's descendant?

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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Chapter XXXVI: "Avalon, Part Three"

Time to Ramble...

This third part of the tryptich, was designed to be a kick-ass battle. Lots of action, lots of excitement. All (or nearly all) the pipe had already been laid out. We had two of our toughest mortal villains (Demona and Macbeth) working with the mysterious and powerful Weird Sisters and the MEGA Archmage Plus, who possessed the power of Gate, Book and Eye. That seemed like some real competition for our good guys, who had wounded to protect.

It was time to go to war.

A few other soldiers:
Director: Dennis Woodyard
Story Editor: Brynne Chandler Reaves
Writer: Lydia C. Marano

As the main titles were playing and Keith was narrating, my seven-year-old daughter Erin mentioned that Goliath and Darth Vader both do voices for phone companies.

Erin also figured out that Angela and Gabriel were being stalked by Demona, before she actually came on screen.

JALAPEÑA

Goliath says it like a curse word when he realizes that A&G are being followed. That was how I wanted to use it. As I've mentioned before, the art staff eventually threatened a coup if I didn't drop it.

But if I ever get to do Gargoyles 2198, I'm bringing it back. That's a threat, not a promise.

Anyway, Goliath attempts to appeal to Demona and Macbeth's better natures. It starts to work, but it's too late. The Archmage has a good line: "They are my creatures now."

Then Bronx and Boudicca attack, saving our 'goyles. This was hinted at in Part Two. And clarified later when Angela comments on it. But it also was my way of serving notice that Bronx was no longer going to be the puppy-most-left-behind. The World Tour was his coming out party.

Anyway, the Archmage now changes his plan. Not because he doesn't want to take any chances, but really because his sensibilities have been offended. He has another good line: "If they are so eager to die..."

But it's really that balance I was trying to maintain between his newfound ultimate power and his original clichéd origins.

HUNTING HOLLOW HILLS

Elisa asks about the Sleeping King. The Magus says he's been sleeping in his Hollow Hill. More hints as to who the king was. (If the name Avalon wasn't hint enough.)

On the way, Elisa pumps Magus for information like he was in the interrogation room back home. She already guessed that he had a thing for Katharine. She wants the lowdown. It's really not her business. Call it a habit of her profession.

(There's an animation error on my tape, which I hope was corrected for later airings. When the Magus starts to narrate the flashback, both his and Elisa's mouth are moving, mouthing the same lines. Obviously, Elisa's animator misread the X-sheets and thought she was talking instead of the Magus.)

(Of course there's another semi-error which I've tried to explain away in the past. The lighting on the scene where Katharine and Tom play with the baby-gargs Angela, Gabe and Boudicca seems very daylight. I've always claimed that it was just a very bright moonlit night. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

This last flashback got my five year old son Benny talking. He asked "How did the gargoyles even get born?" And had to be reminded about the eggs from Part One (which we saw three weeks ago). "Oh, yeah," he said.

Then when we got to the Sleeping King, he compared that to a character that's on his radar: The sleeping MATA NUI from Bionicle.

The Magus uses magic, explaining that "magic is the lifeblood of Avalon." This seemed logical to me. That a practioner like the Magus could train himself to access that ambient magic -- but at a price.

My wife Beth was very impressed with Jeff Bennett's performance here. As a change of pace, Jeff was only playing one character -- as opposed to his usual fifty. But it was a truly heartbreaking performance, I think.

And I have to ask, given the Magus' first appearance in "Awakening, Part One", did you guys ever think that you could or would find that character this appealing, this sympathetic? I think that our ability to allow characters to grow and change was one of the hallmarks of our series. And I had the backbone of his change planned as early as "Awakening, Part Two": (1) his love for Katharine which is unequivocal and (2) his guilt over what he did to the gargoyles, which he never tries to dodge or make excuses for in any way.

The Leap of Faith. It does seem too Indiana Jones now. But obviously it must not have at the time. Either that or we were kidding ourselves. Still, I like Elisa here a lot.

The Platform lowers on cue and Elisa finally names the Sleeping King: "Arthur Pendragon, King of All Britain... You are needed." We wanted to keep it simple. That simple. I also wanted to begin establishing the name Pendragon. Everyone's heard of King Arthur. But you have to have had a bit of exposure to the legends to be familiar with the Pendragon name. I always thought it was cool. And I think that even then I had the notion of using it as the title for a spin-off.

Anyway, we get back to the Palace, and Elisa states a fact that I wonder if anyone had focused on before (regarding Demona and Macbeth): "You've never actually beaten either of them." Goliath agrees: "Simply foiled their plans or fought them to a stand still.

And then Arthur asks: "What's going on?" which I always thought was kind of funny. They're counting on him to help save the day. He doesn't even know the set up.

So while we get him up to speed, we cut to the Archmage who orders the Sisters to "Dispatch the Sleeping King." Erin smiles and says,, "What they don't know..." is that it's too late. But what I found interesting is that Erin actually did trail off. She knew that she didn't need to state what they didn't know. Cool.

DIVIDING THE TROOPS

True to Elisa's hopes (and my interpretation of the character of legend) Arthur in fact does immediately take charge.

He'll go with Elisa, Tom and Gabe to fight Demona & Macbeth.

Katharine, Bronx and Boudicca will guard the wounded 'eggs'. (Katharine has one of her bookend tough mom statements here: "They'll not harm my eggs again!")

Goliath and Angela will attack the Archmage.

And the Magus agrees to take on the Sisters.

Eventually -- after Art figures out that Demona feels Mac's pain and Demona establishes that she and Mac need to put distance between them to minimize the link -- things change a bit and Arthur faces Mac one-on-one, while Kathy, Bronx, Boudicca, Ophelia, Elisa, Tom and Gabe all team up to battle Demona -- who as always, may present the greatest threat of all, even when it's against her own interests.

All this seemed very appropriate to me. I like how the battle divides up. How the opponents match up. And you'll notice at the cliffhanger/commercial break that every one of our battles is going badly for the good guys. Macbeth seems to have the upper hand over Arthur. The Archmage has Goliath down. The Weird Sisters are clearly overpowering the Magus and even Demona is on the verge of wiping out all her opposition at the Palace.

KING ARTHUR PENDRAGON vs. MACBETH
We gave Arthur a mace, because I didn't want anyone to think that some random sword he was carrying might be Excalibur.

When Arthur says, "What manner of magic is this?" it made me wish we had just gone ahead and said "What sorcery is this?" like we usually did.

There's some fairly effective slo-mo animation in here. Slow motion in animation (when called for in scripts) usually makes me nervous. If not done well, it can just look like a poorly-timed, poorly-animated scene. But here it seems to work.

I like how the battle ends. Arthur takes the sword fragment, and for a second, it looks like he's going to skewer Mac. But instead he uses it to pin Mac to a tree. Setting him up for Arthur's punch into camera with his ringed fist. Disney S&P let us do that. ABC S&P didn't allow those kind of fist coming into camera shots on Goliath Chronicles. But I wasn't informed of the change in policy until after "The Journey" was animated.

PRINCESS KATHARINE, OPHELIA, BRONX, BOUDICCA, GABRIEL, THE GUARDIAN & ELISA MAZA vs. DEMONA

Ophelia gets another nice moment here, as even injured, she attempts to stop Demona.

Elisa again takes advantage of the fact that she knows that Demona's hatred for her is so extreme and irrational, that she'll literally drop her weapon for the chance to grapple with Elisa, the chance to tear her apart with her bare hands.

Of course, this is after Elisa demonstrates that she never carries enough ammo. After uselessly shooting at a beach and a hollow suit of armor, she's out of bullets by the time she gets a target of flesh and blood. Of course, we made Elisa a touch dopey in this department for S&P reasons. Elisa, being a NY cop, had to carry a gun. But short of doing an episode about gun violence like "Deadly Force" (which Toon Disney refuses to air these days), we couldn't actually let Elisa shoot anyone with her gun. So we found other uses and excuses.

But ultimately, it's Katharine who brings Demona down, looking quite intentionally like a medieval Ripley, saying the other bookend: "No one threatens my eggs."

THE MAGUS vs. PHOEBE, SELINE & LUNA: THE WEIRD SISTERS
Luna says to the Magus: "There is no future for you." That was a clue from the voice of fate. Anyone pick up on it?

I also like how all the Sisters say together: "You will suffer!" But of course, he's been suffering for decades. What he will soon be is free of all suffering...

I wanted to show here (among other things) that magic itself was neither good nor evil. Magic simply existed at the disposal of those with the power to wield it.

The Magus defeats the sisters and collapses onto Artie's platform. Erin asked quietly: "Did he die?" Benny looked for another way out: "He might have just lost his power."

GOLIATH & ANGELA vs. THE ARCHMAGE

Erin asked what the Archmage was planning for Goliath... and I had to answer something like "a painful death."

Goliath asks what I thought many of you might be asking: why doesn't the Magus just kill him. And David Warner answers as only he could: "Because I'm having too much fun."

We have all this Gate-Jumping. This was an afterthought. Because at one point I had thought of having our guys steal the gate back, I had forgotten to have the Archmage use the gate in the script. So at the board stage, I asked Dennis to put this in. We were very tight for time, but he obliged me. Ideally, I'd have liked to show them briefly in some other times, but I knew we just couldn't afford to design new layouts for two second shots. Even so, who knows where and when they went? Who knows how long they were gone? Sometimes their poses changed. But Goliath is like the Old Man of the Sea. He never lets go. And finally he takes the Eye away.

The Archmage is already in trouble, but how much he doesn't know for a few seconds. Then the power of the Grimorum destroys him from within. A nice creepy companion to him eating the book in Part Two.

And I love David's last line, the forlorn: "All my lovely magic..." Believe it or not, I had to fight a little to get that line in. Just a little. But still.

DEATH OF A HERO

The Magus' death stll moves me. His quiet desire for rest. Katharine's love for him. (Not romantic love, but love nonetheless.) K: "Oh, Magus, what have you done?"

The Magus still concerned that he owes a debt to Goliath and Goliath's forgiveness. The eyes closing and the star shooting overhead.

For S&P reasons, we decided not to make it absolute that he was dead. No one mentions death. Just rest. Sleep. And he is lying on the Sleeping King's platform by his own request.

And many fans, even adult fans, chose to believe he might still come back someday. Hey, more power to 'em, I guess.

But I felt/feel that would cheapen the moment. Cheapen the sacrifice. We sent our heroes into battle. And in battle, their are casualties. Some things are worth fighting for, but if we don't understand costs, then I want people to know that when something isn't worth fighting over, they shouldn't.

FAREWELLS

For various reasons, many of our voice actors in this episode recorded their lines separately. So we recorded each character saying goodbye to everyother character. Not knowing exactly what we would use. We, in my opinion, wound up using too much of these wild goodbyes. It's very awkward sounding to me now.

Gabe & Goliath establish why Gabe and his clan don't join Goliath in Manhattan and why Goliath doesn't bring his clan back to Avalon. Though both clans are born of the old Wyvern Clan, both have found new homes, which they will not abandon.

But Angela has a bit of Demona in her. The iconoclast, she wants more than normal clan life has to offer. She wants to see the world with Goliath. He proudly agrees. He wants one of his children with him. Gabriel and Angela say goodbye. He refers to her here as his rookery sister (not as his "Angel of the Night" or some other equivalent). This was done to make clear that they regarded each other as brother and sister, not mates. I basically wanted to leave her unattached for the Trio. Nevertheless, many fans still thought that they were a couple.

Art goes off on his own to be less conspicuous, and Goliath laughs a borderline Thailog laugh. He also plants pipe for Arthur's eventual stop in Manhattan.

Mac & Demona are freed from the spell, leaving them with no memory since they were first ensorcelled. There's an awkward bit of business here as the gargs who were guarding them move away, just so that Goliath can move in and push the skiff off. Flaw in the boarding that no one caught, I'm afraid.

The Sisters move off, having been forced off-camera to explain most everything.

Bronx & Boudicca part. Now that's a couple.

More pipe: Goliath swears that no one will ever use the eye or the Gate again. Famous last words.

Tom: "Elisa, I thought you understood. Avalon doesn't send you where you want to go! Avalon sends you where you need to be!"

Both Elisa and Erin said: What does that mean? at about the same time.

What did you think when you first heard that? We had officially launched the World Tour, but you didn't know it yet. What were you thinking?

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours...?


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Chapter XXXV: "Avalon, Part Two"

Time to Ramble...

"PART TWO"
Director: Dennis Woodyard
Writer: Lydia Marano
Story Editor: Brynne Chandler Reaves

I guess you guys were used to longer multi-parters from us, so you probably didn't think this was the last part when you saw Part Two come up after the title. I tried something different at the end though. Instead of writing "To be continued" I had them put down "To be concluded". It seemed (at least in my head) to increase tension to know that the next part would be the last.

I've been told by people that out of context, this episode is incomprehensible. I hope it's not quite that bad, but I will say that unlike the rest of our eps, I felt that multi-parter eps don't quite need to stand alone in the same way.

Still with all the time travel stuff, it's very complex. I remember Lydia having to come into my office after her first draft and needing me to diagram the time travel for her. The loop that the Archmage takes. I love it. But I guess it's not that easy to follow.

Anyway, this ep was designed to be the second part of a tryptich. This is the one where we focus on our villains and bring them all up to date, just as in part one, we focused on our heroes. All gearing to a MAJOR BATTLE coming in Part Three.

THE EGGS

Picking up where Part One left off, Elisa looks at Angela, Gabriel and Boudicca and says: "These are the eggs?" I love her tone there.

Guardian: "Sorry, I always call them that." It was a cheat to buy us, at least with some percentage of our audience, the shock value of expecting eggs and finding fully grown gargs and beasts instead. Still, I believe that a guy like Tom, dubbed "Guardian of the Eggs" would continue to use that term to refer to his kids, even after they are grown.

Goliath is initially shocked that the gargs have names. Angela says the standard human response: "How else would we tell each other apart?" This was done intentionally to both cover the issue of non-garg naming (which I still think is neat, but which is often a massive pain) and to indicate that these are gargs raised by humans.

BEACH FIGHT

So I'm in my office one day, after the script to "Avalon, Part Two" has gone final. And Supervising Producer Frank Paur and Producer/Director Dennis Woodyard come in. Frank hates the script. Dennis is calmer, but he seems to clearly agree with Frank, more or less.

I'm annoyed because it's VERY late in the game for them to be giving me these kind of notes. Things get heated between me and Frank.

I yell something like: "Well, what do you want me to do?!!!"

And he yells something like: "We need some action! Like a fight on the Beach with the Archmage!!"

And I start to object for about a second. Then I go, "Oh, yeah. A fight on the beach with the Archmage. That'd be cool. Would that fix it?"

"Uh. Yeah."

And that was it. Our fights were always like that. We always only wanted to make it better. He'd get worked up, but the solution wound up being simple and when push came to shove (we never actually pushed and shoved by the way) we agreed on nearly everything.

It was also good to have Dennis' calming influence. Frank and I would go momentarily nutty and Dennis would always maintain.

So anyway, after the fact we added the memorable fight on the beach. Now I can't imagine the episode without it. It forced us to trim down some the Archmages travels (cause we were already long) but it definitely improved the episode.

I think, not sure, but I think I wrote that fight because it came so late in the game. It's also possible, I might have taken it back to Brynne and/or Lydia to write. I really don't remember anymore.

Either way, there are some great lines:

Goliath: "Don't be too insulted!" I love how he goes nuts here. We really get a reminder of his warrior-ness.

Archmage: "Don't crow too loudly, after all, what have you accomplished: you beat up a beach." You beat up a beach. That's one of my favorite lines in the whole series.

Archmage: "At dawn you all will die. Get used to it!"

Tom: "Let's get out of here before the very air attacks us!"

The fight itself is pretty cool too. I like how Bronx and Boudicca immediately team up. I like the symbolic nature of the Archmage growing wings, turning to stone and then shattering. I think that was a board-artist's addition. I don't remember seeing that in the script. (And I'm too lazy to stand up and check right now.)

At the end of the fight, my five year old son Benny asked: "Why can't they glide to the castle?" I had to explain the flight rules.

ANGELA & GABRIEL

Elisa slides up to Goliath: "Angela sort of looks like Demona, except her coloring is different. Exactly whose daughter is she?" Again, I love Salli's reading here. That need to know. The jealousy. The feeling for Goliath -- who dodges the question by saying that all children belong to the clan.

But of course Elisa knows. Knows something that I believe never occured to her before. Sure, she knew that Goliath and Demona had been mates, lovers. But she didn't let her mind traverse to the next logical step. Parents. Together. Goliath and Demona.

And of course, the audience knows it too, I hope. It was never meant to be a secret to anyone but Angela who her biological parents are. These lines also served to point that out.

On the other hand, we didn't make a big deal of Gabe's bio-parentage. But I wanted it to be semi-clear that his folks were Othello and Desdemona (Coldstone and Coldfire). Anyone get that at first viewing?

REUNIONS

Everyone returns to Oberon's Palace. There are many injured and Gabe is apologetic. As Leader, he feels responsible. But there was 'never any need to hone our combat skills' before this.

Tom & Katharine are reunited. Elisa, the cop, picks up on the human dynamics, the relationships, immediately. She sees the Magus' reaction to their reunion.

I also really like the exchange between the Princess and Goliath.

K: "This is more than I could have hoped for."
G: "What you've done for the eggs is more than I could have dreamed of"

SLEEPING KING

We kept dropping hints. He's mentioned by the Magus, but the conversation moves quickly on.

Later, the Weird Sisters mentioned him. The Archmage is surprised to hear he's not a myth, causing Seline to say her famous: "All things are true." line. The Archmages promise to kill the king later.

And Elisa brings the guy up at the end. This policy was me trying to play fair and make his awakening in Part Three not seem artificial. But also not to allow the guy to distract from the matter at hand.

Of course, most of THIS crowd must have known the s-king was a ref to KING ARTHUR. Particularly when the Hollow Hill ref was thrown in too. But did anyone not know on first viewing?

LOOSE ENDS

This was an episode for tying up Loose Ends in a big way. Solving some mysteries.

Why did the Weird Sisters do what they did? (At least objectively.)

Why were Demona and Macbeth working together in "High Noon"? (Elisa: "They hate each other." Guardian: "I saw no sign of that.")

And how did the Archmage survive?

Tom unwittingly hints at the truth when he says that the Archmage seemed to be able to be in two places at once.

Now let's reveal...

WEIRD SISTERS

Wow! Did we get negative feedback from fans when we played the Sisters as villains here. Of course, I always had it in my head that the Sisters had three aspects. Grace, Vengeance and Fate. Sometimes one aspect is ascendent, but there is always a touch of all three in anything they do. But after the Sisters' Fateful appearances in "City of Stone", many fans rebelled at the notion that the objective reason they did all those things was for simple petty vengeance here in "Avalon". Oh, well.

[When Benny saw the Sisters for the first time, he said "Weird Sisters" with an interesting tone of awe. They're his favorites. But he didn't comment on them being bad guys here.]

The sisters have some nice lines...

L: "What is time to an immortal."
Phoebe: "This is true." (in ref to what cannot be broken can be bent).

ARCHMAGESES

Okay, this was just fun for me. In many ways the origin of much of this was the flat out talent of David Warner. He brought such life to the underwritten (and clichéd) part of the Archmage in "Long Way to Morning" that I just knew I'd have to bring him back. Many of the events of "Vows", "City of Stone", "High Noon" etc. were all geared toward bringing him back as a real THREAT!!

Yet with all this, I didn't want to forget the character's roots. We tried to set a balance between his clichés and his new power.

Think about it. The Archmage+ (as we called him in the script), had only been plussed for about a day. Still he's full of arrogance. His power hasn't raised him above that hybris nor above the thirst for vengeance nor above gloating or above impatience. That's his flaw, but also the fun, I think.

And of course, David. Wow.

Praise for Salli Richardson as Elisa. For Kath Soucie as Princess Katharine and all three Weird Sisters. For Frank Welker as Bronx and Boudicca.

But this Archmage stuff here is a tour de force, I think. David just went through, playing both characters. Both versions of himself. Keep in mind, he hadn't been privy to all that the writers had planned. He had come in for his small parts in both "Long Way" and "Vows". Now suddenly, he's this guy(s). Amazing.

"Do you know what to do?"
"I should. I watched you do it."

"Show some dignity."

"I could put you back where I found you."
"No, no." (I love that no, no. So tiny and fearful.)

"Not where. When."

"If you don't know, don't guess."

"The book must remain in play."

"Try to keep up."

"We're not doing her any favors."

"The rules that cannot be broken can surely be bent."

"Nine hundred and seventy-five YEARS??!!"

"I hadn't thought that far in advance."

"What am I supposed to do, eat it?!"

"Now I understand."

"As it did. As it must. As it always will!"

All great fun.

FLAWS

All these episodes were being produced simultaneously. All in various stages of production. So inconsistencies were bound to happen.

The Egg boats are messed up here. Demona's model in her flashback. Etc.

And storywise, what's the deal with Macbeth? I can see why the Archmage wants to include his former apprentice Demona in his plans. He felt betrayed by her, and is glad not to be doing her any favors by enslaving her.

But Macbeth?

Okay, it's not a true flaw. Macbeth is included because the 'plan of the Archmage' -- birthed whole from the timestream without the Archmage ever actually coming up with it independently (though he takes credit) -- included Macbeth.

It is the provence of Luna, not Seline, at work.

But still, I'd have liked to have been able to figure out some connection between the Archmage and Macbeth so that he wouldn't question the boy's inclusion. Thankfully, the Archmage+ is so arrogant, he takes credit and thus never questions. It occurs to me now, that I could have made a connection between Mac and his ancestors, all related to Katharine and Malcolm. Oh, well.

CAPTIONS

These became fun for me. Adding Captions indicating place and time is one of the very last steps in production. So I'm in there for the "On-Line" with Jeff Arthur, our post-production supervisor, and I'm just indulging...

Sure we start with...

"Scotland, 984 A.D."

But pretty soon we're at "YESTERDAY" and "SIX HOURS AGO" and "ONE MINUTE AGO" and finally "NOW".

It still makes me smile.

POWERING UP

So the Archmage gets the eye. Power. But he's still an idiot. He needs wisdom. He eats the book, which I always thought was really creepy and cool. Now he understands. Now we truly have two Archmage+es. But they can't coexist forever. Aside from how complicated that would be to choreograph, and aside from the fact that the timestream needs the younger of the two to fulfill his role....

They also couldn't coexist because both are too arrogant.

So we repeat the scene of departure to close the circle and tack on: "Finally. I thought he'd never leave."

BATTLE FLASHBACK

We get to see a new clan awake from stone. I hoped that was fun.

Ophelia appears (pre-injury). She looked way cool. For all those people who thought that Gabe and Angie were a couple, take a look at the way Gabe is holding Ophelia and looking at her after she's injured.

LAYING PIPE

In addition to the Sleeping King, we were also laying pipe for our whole fourth tier WORLD TOUR. Tom says: "Avalon dropped me in your laps." He credits Avalon with sending him to Goliath.

The Magus declares that he is without magic and useless. Katharine rebels at that: "Don't say it, and don't think it!" She loves him. Just not the way he wanted her to love him.

Bronx and Boudicca want to go with Goliath.

Elisa asks about the Sleeping King...

And Goliath, Angela and Gabriel take off on a stealth attack.

And we immediately see that the Archmage knows they're coming.

Uh oh.

As the Archmage says... "[We've layed all the damn pipe we could possibly need and more], Now the fun really begins!"

To be concluded...

And that's my ramble. Where's yours?



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