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GATHERING JOURNAL, PART ONE.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
This was probably the best Gathering I've been to so far. I missed seeing a couple of people at this one, but for the first time, I had someone to bring with me (who wasn't related to me): my girlfriend, Stephanie.
We woke up at 6:30, and actually left on time. The threat level at Richmond International was high, and I got randomly checked by security. And the plane seemed to leave in a hurry. Almost too quickly.
But the flight passed without incident, and we made the connecting flight without a problem. Only noteworthy incident was on the final approach to LAX, when we could see Mexico out the left side of the plane, and the United States out the right side. Also, my girlfriend and I sat next to a girl who was going to a World of Warcraft convention in Anaheim. Naturally, we told her all about where we were going.
Plane landed ahead of schedule, and from there, we had a fun walk to the baggage claim. Another pleasant surprise was that I did not expect it to be only 67 degrees when we stepped out of the airport. Of course, the string of good luck couldnât last.
We found a cab who took us to a Wachovia, so that Steph could make a withdrawal, and from there, we hit traffic as soon as we got on the parkway. I spent most of that ride reading the novel Iâd brought (Frank Herbertâs âChildren of Duneâ) so that Iâd be distracted from watching the meter. Trips can never seem to go without incident.
When we arrived at the hotel and were checking in, we bumped into several con staffers who were walking past the front desk. Said hi to Greg X, but unfortunately, he couldnât chat long, since we needed to get our stuff up to the room, and he was busy with staff duties.
Once up in the room, I grabbed a shower. And then Steph and I went hunting for sustenance, since they barely fed us anything on either flight, and the last real food I had was an egg sandwich that morning. We wound up at Saddle Ranch, one of the many overly tacky places that made up City Walk. The food was actually really good. I had the pan-seared Ahi tuna steak and a Newcastle Brown Ale.
After dinner, we walked down the hill to a liquor store that Steph saw on the cab ride over. The liquor store itself was misleading: looked ghetto on the outside, but inside they sold real champagne.
We bought some cheap liquor (I love how inexpensive it is out here) and trekked back up the hill to the hotel room. I made a note to myself not to make that hike for the rest of the weekend.
Once back in the hotel room, we cooled off, during which time Greg X showed up briefly before heading down to the staff dinner. But he left me his copy of the Bad Guys trade paperback to read, which had some nice surprises.
Hung out in the room after that, drank a few beers, and tried to find something on TV. Greg came back to the hotel room between 10 and 10:30, and we wound up hanging out and talking about the trade paperbacks and the fandom.
During this time, our fourth roommate, Karl, showed up. Steph was a good sport during all this, attempting to sleep while I continued to chat with the other roommates until we each nodded off a little after midnight.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Woke up around eight, and wanted to go downstairs for some continental breakfast. It was only after I got my food and sat down that I realized that itâs not complimentary. So a bowl of cornflakes, some cantaloupe, coffee, and a croissant wound up costing fifteen bucks. Good canteloupe, though.
Went back up to the room after eating to shower and shave before the registration table opened. After Steph had gotten ready, we went downstairs to the fourth floor to pick up our stuff. We mingled with a few con-goers, and I got the last sign-up spot for the Greg Weisman Mug-a-Guest.
Had some time to kill before the mug, so Steph and I looked over the convention schedule while chatting with Blaise (who I hadnât met before, but knew from Station 8) and a Fan. Fan kept trying to trade me stuff from past Gatherings.
Gregâs mug-a-guest was fun, even though we didnât deviate from talking about âGargoyles.â Although I did learn why the Cantina scene in "Star Wars" doesn't work. When the mug got out, I stopped in the Dealerâs Room to buy some Demona shirts (one for me, one for a friend) and a copy of the Bad Guys TPB. Had to wait a while for someone to bring a cashbox, but while we waited, me and other con-goers swapped retail job stories with Cindy Kinnard. She did a very good job keeping us entertained.
Eventually, I bought the goods and went upstairs to stash them in the room. After that, Steph and I went down to the lobby restaurant for some lunch. We wound up splitting a BBQ chicken pizza, which was very filling (we still had half left over when we were done). They also served rolls with a variety of spreads, one of which appeared to be pureed olives. Fantastic stuff.
After eating, I went up to Thom Adcoxâs panel. Thom still seemed to remember me, for some reason, pointing at me after the panel had started and saying, âHey, you!â As always, the panel itself was entertaining. I never get tired of listening to his anecdotes about the business. This year, he told a very interesting tale involving Ed Asner and a cup.
When the panel got out, I went up to the room to collect Steph, and then we went down to the ground floor for Opening Ceremonies. Which were delayed, so I killed time by chatting with Matt, Greg X, and Blaise about the comics.
Opening Ceremonies had a few bittersweet moments, including a very nice tribute to Gary Sperling, which was presented to his family. Also, Greg W showed all the Gargoyles promo reels because as he said, what the hell? It was the last Gathering. For some reason, the Ceremonies were shorter than they actually felt. After they got out, Steph and I went up to the room to change for dinner.
After we were both ready, we walked up to City Walk, and had a very nice sushi dinner at Wasabiâs. The food was good, but I was disappointed with the hot sake. Even after two rounds, I was barely buzzed. I must have had the wrong kind. Or maybe I should have gotten the large.
We also hit some stores on the way to Wasabiâs and back. We stopped in a comic store, where we were pleased to see that they were showing Gargoyles, S2 V1 on their TV (it was the episode âLeader of the Packâ). Steph checked the stores to see if they had any Deanna Troi figures (for the signing the next day), but sadly they didnât. We also stopped in Hot Topic, where I bought an 8-Bit Nintendo shirt, and Steph bought a GIR notebook.
Greg and our fifth roommate, John, were both in the room when we got back. Had a few more drinks while we hung out, chatted about science fiction shows, and watched stand-up on Comedy Central. Finally nodded off a little after midnight.
Wow, you have a good memory. No way in October I'd still be able to write in this much detail about August. But I'm glad you did!