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Karine "Kanthara" Charlebois writes...

Gathering Report

It has been a great con. Of course, I’m saying this as the con chair, so this might seem a little head-inflated to say, but with all the great comments and the thank yous me and my team have received, I can’t deny it. It has been a great con.

Patrick arrived on Wednesday the 4th, and I’d taken the week off starting that day to work on the con. When he got here, I’d ran errands, I’d been putting stuff together, making the special passes for the SCA people and one of our auctioneers, and finishing up my art for the con. We started putting the badges together, and had a dinner of burgers and corn on the cob with Adam. Laurean finished the programmes that evening, so Patrick and I headed out to Bureau en Gros to get them printed (good thing they were open 24 hours). The next morning was spent packing stuff up, and then we ran errands -- first we picked up the programmes, went to get spray paint for Patrick’s Puck boots, drove to pick up Rob and Cindy, swung by the airport to get Liz, Taylor and Laurean (and met Trishana there at the same time -- she took a taxi to the hotel from the airport) and we drove back home where we met up with Kaylee who had just gotten in.

The lot of us headed out for food -- Poutine was a must for many -- and then came back to my place to pack up the van. We fit as much stuff as we could in there, split the team between the van and Kaylee’s car, and drove to the hotel.We checked in to the con suite, met up with Shaun, and while everyone was unpacking the van and checking in to their rooms, and assembled con packets, Kaylee and I drove to my work place to pick up the office supplies I’d ordered, and then drove to pick up the Anthologies. When we made our way back to the hotel, we got help unpacking her car, and I called Jennifer to make sure they’d made it into the country this time (long story). When Kaylee’s car was emptied, we drove back to my place, picked up everything that was remaining (I packed then, I didn’t have time before) and then we drove back to the hotel. We left the art panel stuff in the van and made our way to the con suite. Carol, Jennifer and Alan were there, and we relaxed a bit as Jennifer, Carol and Patrick set out to get Greg at the airport. When they all came back, we realized that what we thought would be an intimate outing with friends to dinner had become a huge group, and sadly had to cut down the party to pretty much staff (and future staff) only.

We tried to have dinner at the Jardin Nelson, but were too late and their kitchen were closed, so we found another restaurant on the Place Jacques Cartier for dinner. I had a cream of vegetables followed by Mussels with leaks, and MAN that was good. Cindy and I both had the same thing and kept commenting to each other how good it was.

Back at the hotel later that night (Greg kept refusing to take my sweater and was protective of me because I’m pregnant ;)), we decided to convene in the con suite at 9AM, to go have breakfast and kick off the day.

Friday morning, we went for breakfast in a restaurant on McGill close to the hotel. Service was slow because there was only one person attending the whole restaurant, so we got back late from our breakfast meeting. People were gathered in the soon to be registration area, and we got things started as soon as we could. Apparently, one of our dealers had shown up, saw that we weren’t there, got the “I don’t know what you’re talking about” from the hotel, got angry and left, and they didn’t come back for the entire weekend. That’s too bad -- I was really looking forward to having them in our dealer room. Well, I can understand their frustration and the fact that we were half-an-hour late, but still... their loss.

Ian showed up. Registration got started, and while some were dealing with assembling the art panels (oh crap, we’re missing two elbow connections, here are the directions to Home Depot, Patrick), others were getting the rooms set up, and people started posting their art up. Someone grabbed me and said, “Karine, you should be hosting your panel now” and I was surprised at how fast noon came around! I ran downstairs to get the Perspective panel started. Small group, but they had good questions, and I hope I was clear in my explanations. I ended the panel early since everything had been adressed and no one had any more questions for me, and headed back up to the con suite to make sure everything was under control. I grabbed my art and headed down to the art stage to get my art set up. I barely had time to look at the art on the structure I had space on when I was told to hurry up and set up the VCR for Opening Ceremonies. I realized most that day that being Con Chair means everyone is running after you for answers about EVERYTHING. I zoomed back upstairs, got the VCR and the boom box with Shaun, tried to plug make the setup work, struggled with it until Rob replugged the wires properly and Patrick pressed the right button on the projector... and I went “d’oh.” as the thing started working. We let people in and started up Opening Ceremonies.

Opening Ceremonies are kind of a blur right now because my brain blanked as to what I had to say (I forgot my notes). I did announce that yes, I was indeed pregnant and answered the questions I’d been answering all day, so that people would know *grins*. We all got a turn at the podium, and Jennifer gave Gorebash the Fan Guest of Honour award, which he fully deserved. Liz started talking about the contests, and got “interrupted” by the Clan Olympics for their first event. That was hilarious, took a while to settle, but the we got the stage back. After we were done with all we had to say, after G2005 did their announcement, we passed the podium to Greg, and he did his routine which none of us will ever tire of. We saw the videos, heard the stories, and also heard all about the DVD and its release date of DECEMBER 7TH, 2004!!! (Mark your calendars!).

When that was done, we went out to Jardin Nelson again, this time being early enough to have the kitchens open. We had a wonderful meal, chatted a lot with each other (Geneviève had joined us for dinner, it was great to see her again) and then hurried back to the hotel for the Blue Mug-a-Guest. The consuite was PACKED when I got there (I had to make a deposit)and Greg was entertaining the crowd with stories and answering questions. Adam (the hubby) showed up and I was really happy to see him. We chatted with other people, and Greg commented that this was the tamest Blue Mug ever. I’ve had con virgins comment to me about how friendly this convention was and how much fun they had being with the fans. When Greg decided that his bladder was going to burst at 2 in the morning, I decided to kick everybody out, and sent them to bed. Adam stayed the night. *sigh* snuggly hubby.

Saturday, the alarm went off at 8 AM. I snoozed a couple of times to snuggle with Adam, but then Matthieu decided to give me a powerful kick in the bladder which got me out of bed faster that you can say, “I’ll be right back”. By five to nine, I had the consuite door open for the staff, and they all showed up with surprising punctuality. We opted to eat breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and headed out to our panels/registration/activities from there. I was being interviewed for the DVD at 10:30 that morning, but they ran a little late as they started with Chris Rogers; then I chatted with them, answered their questions, and showed them the t-shirts from all the previous years for the DVD extras. They filmed them all. When noon came around, I’d greeted some of my SCA people, and showed them the way to their demo room. I ran up to the consuite to get changes into my medieval dress, came back down for the SCA demo and the Auction, shared my time between both, took over for Siryn in the Auction when she had to go to the Radio Play rehearsal. Marc(<lj user=”sandman7”>) and <lj user=”baronscartop”> did a great job at the auction, and not only did they SELL everything, they sold it in record time. That was the smoothest, most effective auction we’ve every had in this con. (THANK YOU BOTH!!!) When that was done, I went back up to change back into regular clothes to attend the Radio Play: Greg showed us “The Journey” but in his own way. And it was fun. I really enjoyed it a lot.

When that was over, I went to get changed into a nice dress for the banquet. Carol and Patrick headed out to the airport to pick up Keith David. I invited people in, told them to leave a seat open at each table because Greg’s and Keith’s seats were raffled off. Well, food was served, and after the appetizer and salad, I visited each table to ask how everything was, and to let them know that the menus were keepsakes prepared by our enthusiastic hotel contact, Daniel Fortin. He was excited about the menus and had shown one to me earlier in the day, and I really appreciated that he did that. People were happy to hear that, and they were happy with the food too. Main course was served, and then desert, and still no news of Keith. We were getting worried, and finally Keith, Patrick and Carol showed up -- there had been like 8 landings in 15 minutes and thus Customs was bogged down for 2 hours. Their food was waiting for them and when they got in, we started the Q&A, and Keith was such a good sport about answering questions as he was eating! Keith David is absolutely loveable -- I can’t find any other word to explain it. He’s warm, friendly, huggy, kisses on the cheeks for me, I was overwhelmed by how much joy he emanates.

When food was done, people headed out to get dressed for the masquerade. I took advantage of the pregnant belly to dress up as Pregnant Fox from the episode “Walkabout”, and played the role of wrangler for the cosplayers; then I ran up to get Keith for him to judge the masquerade with Greg, Daniel Fortin, his partner, and Christine Morgan.

The masquerade was AMAZING. It was incredible to see so many costumes -- so many CANON costumes! Even the large majority of the staff was dressed up! It was a great show, and people were impressed. So was the DVD crew. When the masquerade was done, I turned on the boom bax at Mix 96 to at least get some music going as we tried to get the Karaoke working. We had a lot of people up on stage singing, despite our technical difficulties. I had to run out and attend to several things like the hotel rooms for Keith and paying off Greg’s room and and O_o when I got back to the room downstairs, there was a huge crowd on the dance floor preforming YMCA with lyrics going like, “Young man, something something something, I said, Young man, something something something” and EVERYONE was singing along, it was HILARIOUS! Later on, I slow-danced with Alan, and Greg made me boogie, with the twirls and the dips and everything. I had a wonderful time. When we had to leave the room at 2AM, a small group of us headed back to the con suite with Greg, and with no intention of sleeping before Greg had to leave. In the con suite, we laughed, joked, told stories of hilarious things among which was my bachelorette, basically all of us were drunk from lack of sleep. Greg finally decided that it was time to pack and take a shower before he left for his plane trip back home, so when everyone left, I cleaned up the room as much as I was able and then collapsed in bed for a big 2,5 hours.

The evil alarm clock woke me up at 8. Hiss. I snoozed. It rang again. I snoozed again. It rang again. I snarled, got up and took a shower. I opened the consuite door at 9 AM as usual. I was barely coherent as a small group of us convened, and a few of us went to get bagels and cream cheese at the Café Dépôt I usually have coffee at every weekday. (I work just a few blocks from the hotel). I got back to the hotel, and as Laurean started up the life drawing panel, I got Greg’s room finalized, and made the deposit on Keith’s room. Then I got my paper to get to the art panel and saw that Laurean had volunteered to pose since our model had slept in until I showed up... in any case, I got half-an-hour worth of life drawing that morning.

I got my Phoenix Gate Anthology signed, and then went out for lunch with Genn, Félix and Trishana. We went into the Place Bonaventure, and had chinese food. We chatted quickly and had good food, and then I ran back to the hotel to host my dynamic characters panel, which I think worked very well. I got picked up as a Scavenger hunt item by one of the clan olympics team, and it got them bonus points. Wheee! Then I went back in the art room to find that takedown had already happened, and I was incredibly impressed by that. Keith was doing his Mug-a-Guest and being the great public speaker he is, had a more than attentive audience hanging on his every word. I was told he wanted an Anthology, and would like it signed, so I went to all the artists and writers who were doing the book signing, and got them to sign the book for Keith. I gave that to him with a pin as a souvenir, and he was very flattered. Then I announced Closing Ceremonies. The DVD crew packed up, and headed home at that point. I’m sure they got tons of great footage -- I can’t wait to see what they do with it!

Closing Ceremonies were delayed by an hour, but they were concluded quickly enough, with announcing winners for Clan Olympics, the Art Show and the Video contest. G2005 did another speech, and then we started a line for autographs with Keith while G2005 was taking registrations in the back. Shaun wanted a picture of me with Keith, and that man wrapped me in his arms for the picture, making sure he gave a good fatherly rub on my tummy and talked to Matthieu, too. wow.

When all that was done, the staff was rushed upstairs for an emergency meeting, and we learned quickly that it was a pretext to get us all in the consuite for the surprise that had been layed out for us. Scott Rogoff (Abram Wintersmith) had prepared a display of Godiva Chocolates, mints and alcohol for the staff along with a very sweet thank you card that was just beautiful, and very appreciated. Ian had been sent to buy booze as well, and we were ready to start up our Dead Dog party. And party we did. woot. I will save party notes for some other post.

Anyways, I got to bed fairly early considering, and by 11:30 I was out like a light. Then Adam called and we chatted for a while,and then I fell asleep again. Alarm clock went off and I snoozed once, then fell asleep over its muisic until I woke with a start, thinking “I need to clean this room and empty it before 10AM!!!”

Thankfully, I had help.

We got the truck packed and people in the lobby were purchasing their La Ronde tickets from the concierge, at the low price of 28 dollars instead of 34 at the park. I purchased my ticket at the park, being the pregnant lady with the no rides pass.

Man, we didn’t last very long. We walked around the park, did some rides. Well, technically, I was allowed on the Grande Roue (ferris wheel), the minirail and the Spirale (a sightseeing ride up a tower at 312 feet off the ground), but not anything else, so I waited in line with friends, we chatted, had fun, and then I walked through and waited at the exit for them to do the ride. We went on two of the three ridesI was allowed on. I’ll talk more about La Ronde when I’m more coherent -- it’s getting late now.

Patrick, Laurean and me got the van from the hotel and headed back to my place, where Patrick dropped us off and we emptied the van; then we collapsed, and eventually sent Patrick on his way back to the hotel once rush hour trafic had died down. Laurean and I tried to nap, but our brains were in overdrive, so we pretty much got up later and cooked up some corn on the cob while waiting for Adam to bring us sushi. The three of us shared sushi and chatted, and then had an early night. We slept very well.

All in all... a great con, at least from what I’ve been told and from how much fun I have had, regardless of lack of sleep.Would I do it again, be con chair? Talk to me in a month... when I actually come down from the high. I’m tired, but I had a great time.

Greg responds...

I still marvel at all that you did while "in the family way". I was exhausted just watching you, Karine. It's truly gladdening to me that the con chair is still able to have fun, despite all the hard work.

It was a great con. I know it's nearly two years later, but give yourself another pat on the back!

Response recorded on February 23, 2006