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Gathering 2003 Journal
Friday, June 27
My day started at 4:00 am, so I could be at the Cleveland airport in time for my 7:30 am flight to New York - LaGuardia. After checking in and walking all the way to my gate at the far end of the terminal, I found out that the plane scheduled to fly us on to New York was the redeye from Los Angeles, and it was running 45 minutes late. This wasn't a big deal, I decided, considering that last year Jen Anderson and I had endured a delay of over three hours on our way to the Gathering in Virginia. And it gave me enough time to hike back to the main concourse to grab a breakfast sandwich from Burger King.
Boarding time ended up being right around 8:15 am. This was the first flight of the morning to New York, but the plane was barely half full so I had the entire row to myself. Being able to sprawl across three coach seats is pretty nice, even on a short flight. I used the hour on the plane to practice my lines for the cosplay skit that Karine and I were doing on Saturday night (more on that later). I was hoping to see New York City from the air as we approached, but I discovered I was sitting on the wrong side of the plane. Instead, I saw New Jersey (yippee). The landing was fun, though. Landing at LaGuardia airport is the closest you can come to landing on an aircraft carrier without joining the Navy. The plane comes in very low, and you can't see anything but water until about five seconds before touchdown. Then, once the wheels are on the ground, the pilot jams on the brakes as hard as he possible can because the runways aren't really long enough. Having made this same trip twice before for G97 and G98, I was ready for this little roller coaster ride, but it was interesting to watch the reactions of the passengers who had never experienced a landing like this before. They were easy to spot, as they were the ones who kept a white-knuckled death grip on the armrest and muttered under their breath about the pilot until we had parked at the gate.
Now fully awake and running on the coffee I had consumed on the plane, I hurried down to baggage claim, grabbed my luggage, and headed straight to the Ground Transportation desk to join the queue for the Super Shuttle. Less than half an hour later, I was in the van with seven other people, starting the long slow crawl into Manhattan. Traffic back-ups due to accidents and road construction made the 15 mile trip from the airport to the hotel take a little over an hour… almost as long as the 450 mile flight. The shuttle driver was determined, though, to get us to our destinations, even if it meant cutting off taxis right and left and driving up onto the sidewalk to squeeze past a road repair crew.
I wasn't sure at first that I had arrived at the hotel. Instead of the main entrance on Seventh Avenue, I was dropped off at the side entrance on 34th Street, so my first impression of the Hotel Pennsylvania was "this is it?" That changed about minute later, though, once I had managed to drag my luggage through the revolving door and walked down the hallway into the main lobby. The lobby was HUGE… bigger, even, than the Sheraton Universal's at Gathering 2001. Or maybe it just seemed that way because the ceiling was so high. At any rate… it was BIG. So I went to get in the line for the registration desk, before it could get any longer. I spotted a couple of people I knew while I was waiting, but I'm not sure they saw me. I also noticed the coffee shop just off the lobby, which was called "City Perk" and made me think of "Friends" until I realized the shop in that show was "Central Perk."
Finally, I got up to the desk and was able to check in, which surprised me because it was only 11:00 am and the normal check in time was 3:00 pm. They warned me, though, that the room might not be cleaned up yet. After checking in, I spotted a few of the G2003 staff coming down to set up registration, so I went over and grabbed my con badge. Then I headed off in search of a place to dump my bags, and on the way to the elevators I ran into Kellie Fay and Stephen Sobotka. A few quick hellos, then it was up to the ninth floor to find my room. The maid's cart was still in the hall, and a quick peek inside confirmed that it was still a mess from the previous guest, so I dragged my stuff back to the elevators and headed up one more floor to find the con suite.
In the con suite, I found Mara, Kathy, Batya and her husband Alex, and a bunch of other people who's names escape me now because of how hectic everything was with people coming and going and moving boxes and crawling over each other. In the back room, though, I finally found a spot to drop off my bags until my room was ready. A moment later, I was given my first little assignment of the weekend, when I was handed a power strip and a pair of scissors and told to go down to the lobby and give the people working registration a demo of how the label machine worked. This I did, then I headed back upstairs to scope out the convention rooms. On the way back up, I ran into Thom Adcox, who actually recognized me before I spotted him. I also caught my first glimpse of Greg Weisman… or at least the back of his head for a few seconds while the elevator made a stop.
Eventually, I ended up back at the con suite in search of water and a quick snack, and I sat and listened for a bit while Guandalug talked about lost luggage and the fanfic archive. After a while, though, I realized I needed more than snack food to keep me going, so I headed downstairs in search of lunch. There was a Roy Rogers on the same block as the hotel, so I grabbed a combo meal to go and came back to the hotel, where I somehow ended up in the Othercon room, where I met BiZZ and ArtGolem. Mara, Mooncat, and Princess Alexandria were there, as well, and we all sat for a while and had a nice little chat about naughty things. BiZZ also gifted me with a print of his Dominique picture. Those who have seen it will know… those who haven't… sorry, but this is a PG rated journal.
At 2:30 pm, it was time for the Voice Actor's Q&A, so I headed over to the London room where Thom was just finishing up his Mug a Guest. No one who was already there was getting up to leave, so I had to find a seat way in the back. Greg arrived a few minutes later, and while he and Thom waited for a few more people to find their way in, Kathy came in to talk to them about a few things related to events going on later that day (I'm guessing). She knelt down between their chairs and was talking in a low voice when Thom, totally out of the blue, stops nodding along and yells out "What? You're PREGNANT?" At which point, of course, everyone in the room just died laughing. Sorry, Kathy… it probably wasn't too funny from where you were standing… but it made my afternoon to see that Thom was getting off to an early start with the evil pranks.
Now there one thing about the way that London and Paris rooms were set up that I hadn't really considered on my way into the room that I quickly came to hate. It was flat-out impossible to come in late or leave early without causing a distraction because the only door into each room was right next to the table where the presenters were sitting. Had I realized this initially, I would've looked for a seat closer to the front, so as not to become the center of attention when the time came to sneak out and see if my room was finally ready. So Greg, if you read this… it wasn't that I was bored or wanted to be rude when I got up and left. Heaven knows I never get tired of hearing you and Thom talk.
So I headed back upstairs, and since my room was finally ready I retrieved my bags from the con suite and officially moved in for the weekend. The room had a mini-fridge, a nice TV (which I never even turned on until Tuesday morning), and in stark contrast to the hotel rooms at G97 and G98, the bathroom was large enough to turn around in. As I wondered how much longer I had until the History, Myths and Legends panel, though, I realized the room had no clock. Maybe the previous guest decided to keep a souvenir, because an alarm clock is a pretty standard hotel room amenity. So I put in a call to housekeeping to bring me a clock, and then I headed back out to see more of the con.
The rest of the afternoon flew by pretty quickly. I attended the History, Myths and Legends panel co-hosted by Kathy, Batya, Greg Bishansky, and Lynati. Then I helped rearrange the room for Opening Ceremonies and hooked up with the G2004 staff to work out the gameplan for the weekend and distribute raffle tickets. Opening Ceremonies went pretty smoothly. Karine and Sapphire spoke to get people psyched up about The Gathering 2004 in Montreal, and Greg Weisman read letters from Brigitte Bako and Greg Guler, who had conflicting commitments and weren't able to attend this year. Then Greg showed the tapes that those of us who have been to every Gathering so far (like me) have nearly memorized by now: the Gargoyles pitch, the Gargoyles promo, the Dark Ages and New Olympians pitches, and the Bad Guys tape.
After Opening Ceremonies, I joined Greg, Vic Cook, Kathy, Carol and Mandi for dinner at a restaurant called America. It was a long walk to get there (the first of many to come), but the food was great and the desserts were even better. A friend of Greg's from college joined us at the restaurant, and Carol managed to leave the hotel after the rest of us but make it there first by taking the subway. Heading back to the hotel afterwards, Greg was worried he'd be late for the Blue Mug-a-Guest, so he started jogging. This lead many of the rest of us to start jogging, too, providing for those of a psychological bent what I'm sure must be an interesting example of pack mentality (I guess that makes Greg the alpha, too).
So maybe it was the jogging, or maybe it was the fact that there was about 60 people crammed into the London Room… but it was just stifling hot during the Blue Mug-a-Guest. It started at 11:00 pm and lasted until past 1:30 am, when one of the hotel security guys stuck his head in the room and asked, "Are you still supposed to be in here?" Only it was in that tone that means "What the hell are all of you still doing in here?" The biggest revelation of the evening was when Greg confirmed that Lexington was gay and had the series continued he would have found a way to work it in. I don't recall much else in detail after about midnight, though, because by that time I was fading pretty fast. So while others headed to the con suite to continue the discussion, I decided to call it a night headed off to my room.
I took a quick shower and crawled into bed, noticing only then that I still did not have a clock in the room. Since I knew that the pitiful beeping of my travel clock would never wake me in time for my Saturday morning writer's panel now that I had been up for nearly 22 hours straight, I called the front desk to request a wake-up call. I also asked them to remind housekeeping to bring an alarm clock to my room. I wasn't anticipating speedy service at this point, so it was kind of surprising when 15 minutes later, just as I was about to enter the twilight zone, someone from housekeeping knocked at my door to deliver a clock. Happy, I plugged it in, set the alarm for 9:30 am, and settled in for seven solid hours of unconsciousness.
Saturday, June 28
My first full day in NYC started at a much more leisurely hour of 10:00 am, when I met up with Dylan, Ellen, and Allaine downstairs at City Perk to have a quick breakfast and discuss the fanfic panel were hosting that morning. Having only "known" everyone up until then from only e-mail, the fanfic archive, and the GargoylesX board, it was really nice to get a chance to sit down and chat and put voices and faces to the names.
Karine spotted me and stopped by our table for a moment to plan a time during the day to get together and rehearse our skit, and then all of us were off to our first panels of the day. Dylan, Ellen, Allaine and I hotest the "Showstoppers and Scene Stealers: Creating Memorable Characters" panel, which got a pretty good attendance considering it was in the dreaded first timeslot of the morning. Some of the people even seemed to be mostly awake… or at least as awake as the four of us were.
After that, I dashed up to the Art / Dealer's Room where I was supposed to rendezvous with Karine, but with all the noise and the constant flow of people, our earlier plan to rehearse our skit never really materialized. Instead, we collected registrations for Gathering 2004 and I took a moment to check out the display of development art that Disney had loaned for the weekend. It was all really cool stuff, and included a lot of character model sheets and background art, such as panoramic skylines of Manhattan and the eagle's eye view of Astroland at Coney Island from "The Reckoning." On one of the model sheets, I made a mental note of the early spelling of a certain geneticist's name as "Servarius" and filed it away as something to ask Greg about later.
Up next on my agenda was Greg Weisman and Vic Cook's seminar on "Writing for Animation and Series Development," mostly because I wanted to see the surprise presentation of the new project Greg, Vic, and Greg Guler were working on. I'm not sure if it's okay to mention specifics since they're still trying to sell it, so I'll just say that it looked like a really interesting concept, and I hope we'll see it on TV eventually.
Next, it was back downstairs again to host the "Am I Blue?" panel with Kathy, which seemed to go fairly well. We did a writing exercise near the end, but time was running out so we didn't get a chance to see if anyone wanted to read aloud what they had written.
The Radio Play was coming up next and I was supposed to video record it. So to save some time (or so I thought), while everyone was writing I excused myself and ran back to my room on the 9th floor to fetch my camcorder, then came back down to the London Room on the 6th floor. At ten minutes to five, we wrapped up the panel and I booked it back up to the ballroom on the 18th floor, figuring I'd only have a few minutes to get set up before the Radio Play began. Instead, I arrived to find the ballroom door locked, and stood there confused for a few minutes while Greg Bishsanky argued with the guy from hotel catering, who was saying he'd already cleared everything with Aaron and they needed 45 minutes to set the room up for dinner.
Whatever the miscommunication had been, though, it all worked out in the end. After about a half hour, they were able to let us back into the room to hold the Radio Play, although instead of the audience sitting in rows of chairs, they all had to sit at the tables. I set the camera up off to the side, where I could get the whole Radio Play cast into the shot at once. After that, I really didn't have to do much more than let the camera run… though it annoyed me that the hotel wait staff kept walking into the shot while setting out the water and the salt and pepper shakers.
This year's Radio Play was a performance of "The Reckoning" from the second season of Gargoyles. Greg talked a bit first about Gary Sperling, one of the writers on that episode of the show (as well as a number of others), who had just passed away recently from lung cancer, leaving behind a wife and two children. The convention staff had asked Liz to make a card for Gary's family, and it was out in the hall so that everyone could sign it later.
Then the Radio Play got underway. The funniest moment was when Seth, playing Claw, the mute tiger Mutate, stood up to say… nothing, and then sat back down. I also heard later that during rehearsal, Greg Weisman had some fun with Batya and Alex Wittenburg during their exchange of Demona and Fang's lines, "He's a fool, but he may be of some use." / "I can work with that." Reportedly, Greg zinged them with "I bet that's what you said at the wedding." Also of note this year… Thom Adcox's over the top performance as Anton Sevarius. Can you say "superfluous maniacal laughter" boys and girls? I knew you could.
Next up was the Banquet. A few people went to change and came back dressed up in nicer clothes, but I had only brought one change of clothes that were not jeans and a t-shirt, and I was saving those for Henry V in the park on Monday night. Nichelle Nichols arrived just as they had begun letting people back into the room. She passed within five feet of me, which makes that the closest I've ever been to a real live "Star Trek" celebrity. For the dinner itself, I ended up at a table with Karine, Sapphire, Dreamie, Winterwolf, Noel, BrooklynX, and a few others. The food was pretty good, but the desserts were excellent, especially the key lime pie. There was also an interesting conversation at our table about the foibles of the U.S. President and the Canadian Prime Minister. Then the Q&A started, with most of the questions going to Nichelle (surprise). After about fifteen minutes, though, Karine and I decided to duck out because we needed to get ready for the Masquerade.
I ran back to my room, grabbed my stuff, then went to Karine's room to change. Her roommate was there, talking on the phone the whole time as we got ready. I'd never met her before, but strangely enough she was completely unfazed when I stepped out of the bathroom wearing a dress. Karine did the makeup to transform us into Anastasia Renard and Fox Xanatos, and we attempted a quick run through of our cosplay skit. I kept stumbling over my lines, which started to freak me out because I'd been practicing them over and over again in my head the entire day. In the end, we decided just to do our best and improvise if we had to. I put my wig on, Karine grabbed the life-size doll she had dubbed "Spawn of Xanatos" that was playing baby Alexander, and we headed back to the ballroom to see if we were really running as late as the clock said we were.
After freaking out a woman on the 7th floor who came running after us thinking Karine was dangling a real live baby by the arm, we arrived back on the 18th to find the line was still forming and we still had time to run through our skit one more time before it was time to go in. We were placed near the end of the line, so unfortunately we didn't get to see what all the people who went before us did. I could hear lots of cheers and laughing, though, when Kythera went in dressed in her Orcus costume, dragged on a chain by Hudson.
Finally, it was our turn… and I guess our little "mother / daughter" skit went over quite well. People laughed and applauded… and in the end we won first place for cosplay. Greg told me just to stay up there, though, after we accepted our prize (bags of Peanut M&Ms) because I had also won the Gorelisa Memorial award again, which was presented this year by Gorebash himself. That's three times now I've won that one since its inception at G98. At the risk of becoming completely predictable, though, I think next year I'm going to have to change things up and dress as a male character. And that's not just because I think Greg's getting sick of seeing me in drag… or because a little later that evening I got hit on by a very nice guy wearing a rainbow bandana.
Getting the dance portion of the Masquerade Ball going didn't seem to be happening this year, so once Karine and I had claimed the free shirts that were our door prizes for attending the dinner, we headed back to her room to get out of costume. After all the makeup was off, I headed back to my room, changed, then returned to the ballroom to collect my camcorder. As I was packing my stuff up, Greg invited me to come along with him, Thom, Lanny, Kathy, and Carol to Greenwich Village. So after dumping my stuff back in my room, I hustled down to the lobby to meet up with them and off we went.
Thom and Lanny led the way. We took the subway (man does it get hot in those underground stations), then we spent some time walking around. The number of people on the sidewalk at Lexington Avenue was just ridiculous… so I can only imagine what it was going to be like the next morning for the Gay Pride parade. Greg showed us an apartment building he used to live in, and tried to point out his old window from the ground. While staring up into the darkness at the brick wall, I had a nice little Gathering flashback to the Jamestown ghost tour last year in Virginia… where we had all spent a good ten minutes starting at a brick wall in the dark looking for a cannonball lodged there from the Revolutionary War.
From the moment we came up from the subway, we had decided we were hungry (even though we had all eaten at the banquet a few hours before) so we went looking for food. We ended up at the Caliente Cab Company, a Mexican food place. We were all carded before the bouncer / maitre d' allowed us in. Except for Kathy. She had left her I.D. back at the hotel, so she was interrogated for a few minutes instead, until the guy was convinced she was as old as she said she was (we wouldn't have left you out there on the sidewalk, Kathy, honest). Once we got inside, though, we didn't even have drinks… so in essence we were carded for nachos and guacamole. The music was so loud in this place, it was hard to have much in the way of group conversation, but one thing I can clearly recall was a discussion of what "The Price is Right" was doing on the big screen TV at half past midnight. We finally decided it must have been a west coast feed.
After our second dinner, we walked the twenty blocks or so back to the hotel. And I'm pretty sure I called it a night once we got back, because I don't remember anything else except going to bed and waking up on Sunday morning.
Sunday, June 29
Gathering Day III: The Search for Dim Sum. I woke up early to join Karine, Dreamie, Winterwolf, and Sapphire (someone else was there, too, and I'm blanking now on who it was) for breakfast. I knew we were going for dim sum. I didn't know we'd be going all the way to Chinatown. It was another trip on the subway, lots of walking, some really fast eating, and then a frantic race to get back to the hotel by 11:00 am. Half the group went on ahead in a cab so they'd be back in time, and the rest of us took the subway back. On the walk back to the hotel, we spotted a pet store and stopped to spend a few minutes watching the birdies. Even so, we still made it back to the hotel in time for me to get back up to the 18th floor just as the auction was starting.
I'd just walked into the room when Greg spotted me and gave me an assignment. He asked if I could find out if the subway line we were taking to Coney Island later that evening ran near the World Trade Center memorial. So back to my room I went to boot up my laptop for the first time that weekend. I'd saved the PDF's of the subway maps and schedule to my hard drive… which turned out to be a good thing since I wasn't able to get a dial-up connection going. I didn't figure out until later that in NYC you have to dial "1" and the area code before every number, as if you're calling long distance.
Eventually, I determined that yes, that subway line did run near the WTC site, so I went back and relayed the information to Greg. Then I sat and watched the auction for a little while. A couple of times I was tempted to bid on things, except I only had about $75 in cash left on me by that point and I knew I had a big car repair bill waiting for me when I got home. So once that storyboard got up over $300, I got up and wandered over to the Art / Dealer's Room where I ended up purchasing cast photos of Keith David / Salli Richardson and Jonathan Frakes / Marina Sirtis. I also took one more look at the Art Show and bought lovely illustration of Angela in flight that was done by Karine.
For Closing Ceremonies, the G2004 group moved everything into the ballroom so we could continue taking pre-registrations. I ran downstairs to the ATM so I could get my pre-registration in, too, and then at closing ceremonies we had Greg draw the winning raffle tickets for the free memberships and banquet admission we gave away. I made a quick announcement at the end about where to meet up for Coney Island, and immediately after that I was shanghaied by G2003 staff to go up to the con suite and try to get Paypal working on the laptop I had loaned them. I'd forgotten how slow Windows 98 boots up… and how annoying AOL was. At last, though, one of the NYC natives clued me in on the dialing "1" first thing, so we were able to get an AOL connection. I stayed until just before 5:00 pm, and then it was time to head out for Coney Island.
I had printed up maps and directions for everyone ahead of time because I wasn't sure if everyone would stick together or not. What ended up happening, though, was Greg somehow morphed into everyone's dad, and it was like a big field trip. Greg took a head count every time we got on or off the subway. There were 27 of us.
We stopped first at the World Trade Center site. The map I had gotten hold of made it look like the subway station was a block or two away, so I wasn't quite prepared to come up the stairs and suddenly be right there, just twenty feet from the fence and the temporary memorial. I can't quite describe the feeling that came over me as I stared at that big hole in the ground. The closest I can come is likening it to the same sort of feeling I had many years ago when walking along the length of the Vietnam Memorial wall in Washington D.C., only multiplied many times over. It was just a very solemn sense of unquiet… so much so that it became hard to imagine that any time in the near future people would want to come back to work or shop at this same site.
I'm not sure how long we lingered there, but eventually the last few people found their way back to the group and we headed back down to the subway to continue our trek to Coney Island. The rest of the subway ride was pretty uneventful, and somehow despite the crowds we managed to keep the group together until we'd found the boardwalk entrance to Astroland. At that point, Greg proposed a plan that we all meet back up at 10:00 pm to see who wanted to stay and who wanted to go, and we split off into smaller groups. I tagged along with Greg and Kathy, and we meandered our way back through the crowd and back down the street to the original Nathan's restaurant. I got a hotdog, but made the mistake of ordering the "large" soda, which turned out to be nearly big enough to swim laps in.
A few minutes after we'd sat down in the courtyard area, we spotted Seth and Wingless and called them over to join us. We sat and ate and talked about the Gathering and ideas for G2004. Then we headed back to Astroland, where Greg, Seth, Kathy, and I rode the Cyclone. I got quite a rush out of it… but then I've always enjoyed a good roller coaster. Astroland itself, though, wasn't quite what I had expected. When I think of amusement parks, I picture the ones run by Six Flags and Disney, but Astroland was more like a carnival. It was crowded as hell, and they even charged a quarter to use the restroom. The only other thing I ended up riding was the observation tower thing where it takes you up and lets you see the area. After that, the five of us got away from the crowds and went for a walk down the boardwalk, which gave a nice opportunity to unwind from the busy weekend.
At 10:00 pm, we met back up with the rest of the gang as planned, and a pretty much unanimous decision was made to head back. So Greg took over as scoutmaster again, and we filed back to the subway station. While we waited for the train, we took a few group photos… so hopefully the people whose cameras were used will post them. The train ride back took a lot longer than the ride out, because the train kept coming to a dead stop for no apparent reason. Once we were back at the 34th Street station, Greg made his last headcount and then everyone was on his or her own for the last block back to the hotel. A bunch of us stuck with Greg, though, and began a futile search for pancakes at midnight in Manhattan. Unlike the rest of America, though, there aren't any Denny's or IHOP's in New York City… so our quest for late night munchies was nearly denied until we found the food court was still open in the lower level of Penn Station. Somehow it was decided the next best thing to pancakes was donuts, but we were cruelly denied again by Dunkin' Donuts not having anything left. So instead, we found an ice cream place and got waffle cones.
Melting ice cream in hand, we headed back to the hotel and a few of us made plans to meet back up in the con suite a short while later. I made a stop at my room, then headed down and found Kathy already there. The room was pretty full, and it was hot in there, too. People were watching Cowboy Beebop, so I sat down for a few minutes and checked it out. I think Kathy and I were both mostly waiting for Greg to arrive, but after a while it didn't seem like he was going to show up. She had just left and I was just getting ready to go when he stuck his head in the door. Most of the people who were still awake were fixated on the animé, though, so we both decided to call it a night.
Monday, June 30
The convention was over, but I still had one more full day left to spend in NYC. I started my morning by running downstairs to City Perk for a bagel and a bottle of Snapple, and I ran into Kathy and exchanged good-byes in case we didn't see each other again that day before she left for home (and we didn't). After my little breakfast, I stopped by the con suite to see if anyone was still alive, and collected the laptop and some items I had loaned them with the plan of boxing them up and shipping them back to myself. No one had any packing tape, though, so I scampered across the street to Penn Station and picked some up from the Staples right at the bottom of the escalators. Since they offered UPS shipping, I decided I'd just bring the package back there rather than walk two blocks to the post office, and back I went to the hotel.
Back in the 10th floor con suite again, Mara stopped by briefly and appointed me "keeper of the room keys" and recruited me to help with cleaning up and moving all the convention staff's remaining stuff up to her room on the 11th floor. Greg Bishansky, Cat and I managed to clean up all the leftover food that was literally everywhere in about half an hour, filling three huge trash bags. Tip for the con suite next year: plastic drop cloths. Or get a room that can be hosed down at the end. Sorry, guys… I love this fandom, really I do, but do we really have to make such a mess when we eat snack foods? Anyway… we got everything that was trash thrown away and everything else picked up and moved up to Mara's room by noon check-out time… which I'm sure made the hotel happy.
After that, I went back to my room to finish packing up that box, and found a message on the voice mail that Princess Alexandria had just left a few minutes earlier. She and Mooncat were looking for me, to see if I wanted to go do some sightseeing with BiZZ and the two of them. I did, so I called them back to see where they were, and hurried down to their room to discuss the plan. Online, we'd discussed checking out the "Museum of Sex" that was supposed to be just a few blocks away, but Mooncat had tried to call them and found their phone was disconnected. Deciding that wasn't a good sign, we instead settled on going to see Times Square and then just going from there. I got them to give me 20 minutes to go ship my package, then ran back to my room, back to Staples to do that, and returned to meet them in the lobby.
We walked up to Times Square, where we took some photos and explored a few of the souvenir shops and one big toy store that had life-size Lego models of Harry Potter and Hagrid in the window. Then we decided to walk up to Central Park and look for Belvedere Castle, the place where Elisa and Demona fought in "High Noon." It was a pretty good trek, but you could almost feel the air temperature drop once you went into the park. We followed the road that curved up through the east edge of the park, stopping three or four times to ask various park employees for directions, until eventually we came upon the back side of Belvedere Castle. I made sure to point out the "claw marks" in the stone, since I'd been there before on the walking tour that Batya had led after Gathering '97. Disappointingly, though, the Castle wasn't open, so we couldn't go inside and up top as I'd done then.
It was getting to mid-afternoon by that point, so we decided to start heading back. We exited on the Central Park West side, and found the subway line that took us right back to within a block of the hotel. Since we'd all skipped lunch, we then went looking for food. I got a corned beef Ruben sandwich that ended up being so big, half of it went back to the hotel with me to become a meal for Tuesday morning before I left for the airport. Mooncat insisted on treating everyone, too… so thanks, Mooncat. After we ate, we still had about a half hour left to hang out in Mooncat and Princess Alexandria's room before BiZZ had to leave for the airport. Mooncat gifted me with a really cool Demona / Dominique t-shirt and a print of her Elisa pic that had been inspired by the Madame Destine fic "Mistress of Dreams." Then it was time for BiZZ to be on his way, and time for me to go get ready for my second trip of the day to Central Park.
There was a big group for dinner, but it was just Greg, Carol, and I for "Henry V" at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It was sort of a race to get there by 7:30. We took the subway, then Greg flagged down a cab which took us across the park, and then we jumped out and jogged the rest of the way, which got us there just a few minutes before they started letting people file in. It turned out to be a really nice evening for outdoor theater, and the performance was very well done. The part of King Henry V was played by Liev Schreiber, who seemed familiar to me even though I still can quite place where I've seen him before. The one cast member I did recognize, though, was Bronson Pinchot, who played the part of Pistol, and did so sort as if he was playing Vinnie Barbarino playing Pistol. The play was performed using Shakespeare's original dialog, but with modern costuming and scenery. Overall, it was a very interesting staging.
After the play, Greg, Carol and I went off on another walk through another of Greg's old neighborhoods. It was a really nice area now, but he kept giving examples of how it had been a pretty scary area twenty years ago when he'd lived there. Finally, we headed back to the subway and returned to the hotel, where we ended up just sitting around in Greg's room for a while, eating peanut M&Ms and watching TV until Greg decided we should call it a night.
Tuesday, July 1
My last day in NYC was pretty much a nothing day. I slept until about 10:00 am, then got up and ran downstairs for a Snapple. Mooncat and Princess Alexandria spotted me, so I stopped to say good-bye since I'd be leaving soon. On my way back to my room, I stopped by Mara's room to say more good-byes and pick up the art she'd done for me that she'd been telling me all weekend to remind her to give to me before I left. Then I went back to my room, ate my leftover Ruben sandwich, and finished packing. I checked out around 11:00 am, then headed out front to catch a cab to LaGuardia. The trip back to the airport took maybe a half hour at most, so I was left with lots of time to nap before my 2:30 pm flight. The trip back to Cleveland was uneventful, and I was home in time for dinner.
And thus ended another Gathering adventure. Coming home at the end is always a little bittersweet, but I know I'll see many of my friends again next year in Montreal at The Gathering 2004. At least, I'd better see you all there! ;)
Oh... that's right. The pregnancy joke. How could I have forgotten...
I have such fond memories of that whole weekend. By the way, I wasn't blowing you guys off at the con suite on Sunday night. I was off on a quest with Mandolin to find a pharamacy. It took us much longer than we thought.
I also had a great time Monday night. We went to P.J. Clark's as I recall before the play.