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2008 Gathering of the Gargoyles
Gorebash's Con Journal
Friday, June 27, 2008
I arrived at O'Hare to find my luggage missing. So it goes. I hopped into a shuttle and headed for Evanston, Illinois where this year's con was being hosted. The ride was less than an hour and I spent the time staring out the window. It felt like you could graft the landscape onto areas around my home town and you'd never notice the difference.
The hotel is right in the middle of the city with lots of shops and restaurants within a couple blocks. I figured I could go about picking up some new clothes the following day. I checked in and ran up to registration on the ninth floor where I was greeted by many familiar faces. It was late in the day and opening ceremonies were about to begin. I killed some time hanging out around the registration desk and the dealer's room nearby before heading over to catch the official start of the con.
Opening ceremonies was the usual affair. We met this year's con staff (who, it cannot be said enough, did an amazing job) and heard about next year's con being held in Los Angeles. We watched the pitches for Gargoyles, Dark Ages, and New Olympians as well as the leica reel for Bad Guys. We also watched the latest version of "The Last", which had quite a bit of new material added since last year. Very cool. But before any of this, there was the Gargoyles music video contest. Unlike past years the videos were shown during opening ceremonies so we all got to watch them. The videos were great, although I was a bit disappointed by the focus on Demona/Goliath/Elisa. There's just so much depth to the show that I think it might force the video producers to focus on one or two characters only. I'll have to put my money where my mouth is and see what happens.
After the show a bunch of us grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant. I had a pizza which was apparently bathed in vinegar before being served. Later on a group of us retreated to Susan's suite (one of the organizers of the con) and laughed ourselves silly for a few hours over glasses of a maple liquor that I decided tasted like pancakes. A bit of physical violence, a dash of tomfoolery and a heaping spoonful of debauchery insued, however no one got their goop in anyone else's hair.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
The pancakes were still there when I awoke in the form of a pounding headache. So with breakfast already sorted out I made my way to the radio play auditions still wearing the clothes in which I'd arrived. The funk did not detract much from my audition as I was able to air things out a bit on a rather large balcony next to the audition room. From there I could see that a couple streets around the hotel had been blocked off with white tents lining the street. It turns out that there was a street fair going on right next to the hotel.
Once the audition was over I went out in search of clothing. A nearby Gap store looked to be my savoir. I then disocvered that this Gap store (and perhaps its sisters across the country) are unaware that there are people who weight over 100 pounds. Any attempt to wear these clothes in public would result in certain wardrobe malfunctions that might generate the same kind of visceral reactions as those from "Man Faye".
I asked the front desk about nearby department stores and was told to grab a cab and tell them to go to "Target on 2-E". At least that's what I heard. The cabbie seemed to know what I meant. At first. $25 worth of cab fare later I asked him to just pull into a Wal-Mart we were passing, at which point he expressed that there had been several Wal-Marts much closer to the hotel and wondered why I'd picked a store that was so far away. He waited while I made a mad dash to grab all the essentials including several flowery Hawaiian shirts that were on sale and in "over 100 pounds" sizes.
Back at the hotel and in fresh clothes (sporting that New Clothes Smell) I found a room where episodes of Gargoyles were being shown. I thought this a nice way to kill yet more time until the Radio Play rehearsals. There were a few others there as well eating away at various fast foods from nearby locations. This immediately reminded my stomach that I was hungry and it would not shut up until food was within its grasp. A half hour later I was back watching Gargoyles armed with an assortment of fried foods. My stomach commented on its preference of onion rings to fries and my inability to reflect this in my food order, but it was satiated.
A small stage with a big cast meant many in the radio play would have to hold two or more roles. I was an exception. I'd been cast in the role of Coldsteel and we would be performing issues seven, eight and nine of the comic book (even though issue nine has yet to hit the streets; a sneak peek!) in chronological order. I tried to do my best, although it seems the way I read the lines in my head (which were perfect readings) were the exact opposite of how I would read them aloud, which frustrated me to no end.
After a twenty minute break we assembled back outside the auditorium to perform in front of everyone. Keith David (voice of Goliath) and Thom Adcox (voice of Lexington) would reprise their roles. They were both introduced to thunderous applause and I immediately challenged myself to steal even greater applause for no reason whatsoever. It's amazing what you can accomplish by playing to the crowd.
As the radio play started, so did a very strong rain storm. The dimensions of this hotel, at over nine stories tall, could still be considered "squat". Even so I believe I felt the whole building sway back and forth as the wind pounded it with incredible force. The noise alone was so great we had to virtually yell our lines out at times. And as the play ended, so did the storm. This is the power of Greg Weisman's written word.
After the play I went outside on the balcony to get a first-hand view of the storm and was in for a bit of a shock. It turns tarp and canvas supported by light, aluminum frames make excellent sails. Unfortunately the tents along the streets were never told they were not sails. There were several fire trucks and ambulances and tents strewn across the streets of Evanston, Illinois. It was so bad that all of the local news stations made there way out to cover the destruction. Later that night there would be a large pile of bent and broken aluminum structures collected at the intersection of the roads the street fair was on.
That night I was in for a treat. I had conned my way into a trip out to a nearby steak house (http://www.petemillers.com) with several of the con staff and special guests. This was not an entirely inexpensive place to eat and while I was expecting that, the eighty bucks I had brought along would barely cover my end of the bill. I'd overheard one waitress explaining how the filets were the least flavorful of the cuts offered, however they were the cheapest and that's what I ordered. Three small filets, each topped with a different spice (horseradish, parmesean, and one other that I can't remember). These were, and I'm not joking, the three tastiest pieces of meat I have ever had in my life. The garlic mashed potatoes were like buttery silk draped over wisps of air.
The dinner conversation was what I now consider "normal for the con" and almost entirely unprintable, but I think everyone had a really good time. A friend of Susan's was there (I believe her name was Nicole, although it sounded far more exotic than that) who, I was told, needed help finding the hotel and would I help. The logic behind this choice wass very flawed. We got into her car, she asked which way, and I said whatever direction in which the car is pointed. Through sheer luck this turned out to be correct and about 100 yaerds later we were at the hotel. Certain it would take the others many seconds to walk this distance I suggested we grab a drink at the hotel bar and wait for them to arrive. We did. And they did, but we didn't notice and got to talking for a bit, until I reminded via text message that our lack of presence had generated some questions. So up to the ninth floor we went for the blue mug.
The con's special guests were there to take any and all questions about any and all things that might not otherwise be appropriate to ask in mixed company. It's hit or miss each year and this year seemed between both ends of the spectrum. After an hour or two a group of us left as we were all starting to feel the later effects of the evening's beverage consumption.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Dressed in another of my recently purchased loud and obnoxious Chicago flair I made for the dealer's room. It was becoming habit that whenever I had time to kill I would hang out in the dealer's room/registration desk area. Usually I'd wind up just pestering Rebekah who was managing the artchicks.org table. I took the time to browse the art gallery and fill out the voting slip that BrooklynX was pushing on people like a man with a handful of pamphlets on the Vegas strip. Tucked away in one corner were the works of Y2Hecate and one in particular caught my eye. It was of Fox done up as a sort of Japanese fox spirit (with fox ears and several tails). It was up for sale and I put in a bid of $25. The following day this piece of art would go home with me.
The registration desk was selling tickets to a raffle in which two cels from Gargoyles were put up as prizes. Twenty bucks got you thirty tickets and that's what I bought. One of the cels had been framed and the other was not. My kind of logic immediately identified all the problems there would be trying to carry this long, framed thing onto the airplane, so I dumped all my tickets into the decidedly non-framed cel.
It was about this time I was drafted. The Gathering auction would be held later that day and they needed some auctioneers. So Seth (IRC Goliath) and I were pulled into the fold. Seth taunted me with his ideas on how to extract bids from people at the expense of my dignity (which at this point had been worn down like a bar of soap so that all you're left with is a little sliver just before you finally decide it's not worth it and replace it with a new bar). Several others offered their support of Seth's ideas. I did not.
I took some time to head over to a nearby outdoor/wilderness store which sold, among other things, bags. Specifically luggage bags. I had bought all these clothes and I needed to bring them home in something. And like the Gap, where a plain white t-shirt will run you twelves bucks, this place was more expensive than I needed. However I was in no mood for another cab ride and settled upon a very simple backpack laced in tags that advertised this was an eco-friendly bag made of weeds and berries so that you could, in a pinch, simply eat the thing if you were hungry. Funny, that, as it'd be a more expensive meal than my previous night's dinner.
Back at the hotel I threw down a bid of three dollars on a Gargoyles clock that nobody had bid on. This too would go home with me. It was then time for the auction and we had a bit of a rough start as we worked out the logistics of what was up for auction and what was not. Anything with 1 or 2 bids from the silent auction went to the person who palced the bid (like my clock). Anything with none, three or more bids went into the auction. With that settled we began.
The auctions can be interesting affairs. Usually I'll see new stuff every year that I never knew existed. We had several hard-wired Kenner action figures, but it turns out they came in a couple varieties: American and international. The international figures have slightly different decals and the print on the packaging was different so that it could include Spanish and French versions of the text. Both versions, however, contained many brightly colored plastics. A point of value I made many times throughout the auction. A point of value many seemed to agree on as well.
Seth and I tried to make our best effort. I tried to be funny where I could. I tried to be desparate to the point of being funny where I could. I tried to be obnoxious and loud to the point of being funny where I could. It seemed to help a little bit. We sold every item up for auction, but a few are worth commenting on. First was a talking Goliath bank. These are hard to find and Keith David was going to have one. When he showed up the bidding began and quickly rose to over $150. In the end Keith won out and the bank is now his. There was also a set of four mugs with the faces of Brooklyn, Broadway, Lex and Bronx on them. Thom Adcox was after this set as he (I believe) lost his Lex mug. He eventually turned up and bidding on this item went to nearly $100. Thom eventually backed out and these went to someone else, although rumor has it a deal was struck for Thom to buy the Lex mug off the winner. Also up for auction was a complete set of the Gargoyles Applause figures which are really hard to find. Bidding for these nearly reached $300! But the big ticket piece for the evening, and the last to be auctioned off, was a framed lithograph signed by the artist and embossed with the Gargoyles logo. I had bid on a similar piece at the 2006 con except that had been just a print and it wasn't signed by the artist, nor did if have the logo embossment. This was something special and it went for a special price reaching $400!! All totalled we pulled in over a thousand dollars from the auction, all of which goes towards next year's con. After the auction we got ready for the evening banquet followed by the masquerade.
The banquet had a new feature this year in the form of a trivia contest. Tables were pitted against each other in Gargoyles trivia. My table hung in there pretty long, but eventually fell to a questiona bout Alexander Xanatos' job prior to the Space Spawn invasion. This is information you could only get from having read Ask Greg, which makes it all the more embarrasing that I didn't get it. The winning table received a bunch of prizes to divide among themselves including a bunch of nice looking Gargoyles calendars. The food itself was good, but nothing will ever be great after my trip to Pete Miller's.
After the food there was a break while the place was setup for the masquerade. A group of us went down to the hotel bar for a beer and a bit of Cubs/Sox action while we waited. The costumes were awesome. Karine had a sweet Robyn Canmore as the Hunter costume. Best in show went to a gargoyle tourist costume (complete with straw hat, Hawaiian shirt, and camera) and the Thom Adcox memorial award went to an Odin costume which included a bit of cosplay and a line about Lexington and Odin using his (Lex's) one eye. It was an appropriate award.
But while the judges worked out the awards I went back down for another beer and completely missed the raffle drawing. Upon my return, however, I was accosted by several people using words like "lucky", "rigged" and several vulgarities. It turns out that I'd actually won the cel I'd put my tickes in for. It's a scene from "Eye of the Beholder" where Goliath is fighting Fox in here werefox form with Elisa in the background holding her gun trying to get a shot. This was the very definition of awesome.
Then everyone started dancing. Some found a laptop with two controllers and a fighter game installed on it and a corner of the ballroom in which to play. Others found a guy who had just won a cel and thought he'd be better off dancing even if he was in disagreement with that particular evaluation. Who would, at one point, find himself grinding with a couple ladies in a fashion that may have resembled the beginnnings of a conga line to the daughters of one of said ladies, who immediately lined up behind their mother, along with their friends, and started to mimic what she was doing. And this cel-winning gentlemen, of high moral content, was quite certain, as the camera bulbs flashed away, that he would soon be in jail.
Late into the evening a group of us retreated back to Susan's room to finish off some spicy wines and continue from where we'd left off Friday.
Monday, June 30, 2008
The shuttle back would pick me up at about 12:30pm so I had just enough time to catch a panel on something called "Blue Mug Productions". It is to be an organization, led by a man named Edmund, which would endeavor to produce litterature and art high in quality as it is in depravity. Samples of which I was able to catch throughout the con, some of which were put on display at the panel. The one-eyed Edmund and his angels of the arts announced their works would soon be available online for a fair price to those that might wish a bit of distraction. We were shown the first few pages of the first issue of this online comic and, unlike Black Cat, the main character did get goop in her hair. So it goes.
Twelve-thirty arrived and so I departed wishing Edmund and his angels good luck.
This time my new bag, with my new clothes, made the trip without getting lost.
And it turns out my old bag, for one brief moment at 12:30pm on the very Monday, just as the Blue Mug Productions panel was in full swing, made a brief appearance at a baggage claim area in Syracuse, NY. I was left a message about this at my office and have since called them back only to find the bag has since gone missing again. Who knows where it will pop up next. China, perhaps?
Despite this, it was an awesome time that I wish could last a few weeks rather than a few days, but I'll take and enjoy every second that I get.
And no Gathering would be complete without the Gorebash!