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Allaine writes...

Very long journal, I'm afraid.

Allaine's 2004 Gathering Journal

Day 1
Thursday, August 5, 2004

I left my house at around 10 AM for a 2 PM flight. When I got to the airport, I discovered two things. First, even though I was taking an international flight, my plane wasn't gated at US Airways International (Terminal A), but US Airways Express (Terminal F). Having been told already to park in Garage A, I had to drag all my luggage across the length of the airport.

A more infuriating discovery was that my flight had been cancelled. Since this was the second time my flight to Montreal had been cancelled in three days (the first time being Monday night, forcing me to scrap plans to catch a ride from the airport with Kathy and Alex Garg), I was understandably outraged. I was forced to take a flight that was leaving at 12:30, but I would be making a stop in Boston for ninety minutes. I didn't actually make it through Customs in Montreal until 6 PM. Fittingly enough, I needed two buses to get from the airport to the hotel, but that didn't happen until around 7 PM.

At least I wasn't poor Alexandria, who wasn't allowed to board her flight because she didn't bring the right birth certificate. Finding out she wouldn't be arriving until Friday was a further disappointment.

That being said, I was able to check into my room without incident, and the first people I found were my other two roommates. Chyna Rose was eating in the lobby restaurant when I found her, so I joined her for dinner. Later Seri Wavelength found us there once she arrived. We talked for a while, then went upstairs. I met Jade Griffin for the first time as she worked on her Demona doll, but she was the only other person I saw. Actually, that's not entirely true. Someone said they'd spotted Karine going to the 21st floor, so I went up there to see if the Con Suite was open yet. I did locate the Con Staff, but since they were quite busy discussing things I probably wasn't supposed to hear, I waved and crept back to my room. Since Alexandria was still at home, I got a bed all to myself while Chyna and Seri shared the other bed. I guess I should say here that our room was very nice. It wasn't enormous, but the beds left plenty of room for two, and the bathroom was spacious. I went to sleep around 11 PM

Day 2
Friday, August 6, 2004

The three of us didn't really leave our room until around ten in the morning. Although we were hungry, we decided to register first, since registration was about to begin. I saw many familiar faces for the first time when I got there - Ellen, Kathy, Spacebabie, and Whitbourne foremost among them. I also got to meet some first-timers, including Dylan's fiancée Stormy. We talked for a while, but since the registration was running late, I went to breakfast with Seri and Chyna. I had the buffet, which was delicious. In fact, I got the buffet the following two days as well, and ate so much that I never needed lunch. It's all about the budget, knowhutahmean?

After breakfast we registered, and I got my packet, including two copies of the Phoenix Gate anthology, one for me and one for Mooncat, who unfortunately couldn't come this year. They did a fabulous job on the Anthology, as it was my first time seeing the finished result from cover to cover. I would read all the stories, including my own, more than once over the next few days. Then I went to the Art Room, where I got to meet two people I'd been looking forward to meeting. I feel both have a significance for me as both a fanfic writer and reader. When I first started reading Gargoyles fanfics a couple years ago, I sought out Jennifer, aka CrzyDemona, and asked her where I could find good Demona fics. She referred me to Madame Destine, whose stories continue to be among my favorites to this day. Plus Jen has a hell of a reputation around the fandom, and even if our politics don't match, she strikes me as extremely smart about a lot of things. The second person was Christine Morgan. As a writer who dreams about being published some day, Christine is an obvious inspiration to me. I didn't buy any of her books, but I did grab one of the Demona T-shirts Jen was selling, as well as an official convention T-shirt for my younger brother.

At last the first panels began. I attended Spacebabie's General Round Robin, where we had the unenviable task of creating a story about how Demona and Macbeth's paths crossed while white-water rafting in the Grand Canyon. Most memorable, I think, was a running gag about "dinghies". I also brought out my tape recorder for the first time. I taped several panels throughout the day, both for my own memories and for Mooncat's benefit. Unfortunately, I managed to tape over the GRR panel a couple days later. Oops.

After the round robin, most people went to the Voice Acting Seminar. Keith David was not present, unfortunately. In fact he didn't arrive until Saturday night. But Greg did a very good job. Lucky Seri got to be critiqued on her reading of lines for the second year in a row. Later I also got to read lines for a scene as young Tom. There was also this interesting anecdote about Carol Channing in her bra . . .

At this point I went back to my room. Two seconds later I realized there were new bags in the room, so I hurried back down to registration and confirmed that my final roommate, Princess Alexandria, had indeed checked in. It took me a while to track her down, but we talked for a while until the Opening Ceremonies began. When I went downstairs, I did locate another person who I rarely email but love talking to, Mara Cordova, as well as a few other familiar names.

There I found myself on one of eight teams in the Clan Olympics. I hadn't been planning to devote any time to it, but I was roped in. I participated in two events that night, including a game where sixteen people fought for balls in a big container and ferried them back and forth across the room. I quickly figured out that I couldn't hold many balls at once, so I started searching for balls with lettering on them. One of the balls I found had "1-UP" written on it, like a video game icon. A fateful selection.

Afterwards I learned two things - we were in first place by two points, and the 1-up ball could be used to save one team from elimination. I could either save the eighth-place team, or hold onto the ball in case my team was in last place at some point. Since I didn't know the rules of the game, I didn't see the point of being the nice guy, so I held onto it. Later I discovered that apparently eliminated teams are allowed to make life difficult for the remaining teams. Oops again.

After Opening Ceremonies, which also featured a taped greeting from Ed "Hudson" Asner and my second time listening to the tape of the Gargoyles/Team Atlantis crossover, I stayed for the MGT3K panel hosted by Jade. When she found out I had a tape recorder, I lent it to her so she could tape the show and transcribe it later. (She still has that tape, in fact, and I need to make sure she has my address so she can mail it to me when she's done.) It was very funny, but I only stayed for about half an hour. Then I went out to dinner with Alexandria, Ellen, and Dylan at an Italian restaurant. I love the panels and everything, but it's especially moments like this that I come to the Gathering - being able to spend an hour or two alone with writers and readers and friends who I don't normally get to see, talking about things we normally only discuss via email.

We returned to the hotel by 10 PM, so I could rejoin my team for the second Olympics event, Shot in the Dark. We didn't do that great here and dropped to third. This introduced an element of anxiety in my team (which included my roommate Chyna Rose), and we decided to let yet another team burn. Now we had two teams that hated us. Unfortunately that event took over an hour to finish, so I didn't get ready for bed until almost midnight. This was my first night sharing a bed with Alexandria, but there was enough space in the bed that we didn't have to touch at all if we didn't want to, and everyone slept well.

Day 3
Saturday, August 7

My Olympics team needed me for Trivia Torture (I think they wanted me to be tortured), but I regretfully (ha ha) passed and went to the Thrill of the Chase panel. The hosts were Christine, Spacebabie, and Ellen. Ellen is a close friend of mine, so I would have gone no matter what the topic was. What we discussed were chase scenes, both in fics and in movies, since chase scenes are so often a part of films.

After that I took a break from the Gathering for a couple hours and went sightseeing in Old Montreal with Alexandria. We ended up shelling out $40 for a thirty-minute carriage ride that let us take in a lot more of the sights than if we'd walked. I was still beat when we got back in time for Really Hard Pictionary. I learned that my team had fallen into fifth place in the Trivia event, which meant we failed to use the 1-UP ball for a third time. So three teams were gone, all thanks to us. Although we were in last now, so I fail to see how we profited from it. Sure enough, the "spirits" conspired to make my Pictionary round more difficult. I had to draw without my glasses (I'm nearsighted, so that had absolutely no effect really), and only one team member (Michael) could guess. Plus I drew one of the harder packets. However, at the risk of sounding a bit immodest, I am a damn good Pictionary player, and I did manage to pull our team into a three-way tie for first before the last team passed us.

That led to a final bonus event where we had to pull colored balls from a bag. We found ourselves in a tie with Mara's team for last, but because of a tiebreaker we ended up in fourth. Since it was our last opportunity to use the 1-UP ball, and since I like Mara a lot, I immediately offered it to her team, but they told me to hang onto it. So my decision not to save them (which must have made a few people scratch their heads in disbelief) left four teams in the running. But we wouldn't find out who won until the Scavenger Hunt the following morning.

Next was the Radio Play, where the Actors read from The Journey, an episode I hadn't seen in a long time. The Actors did a very nice job, especially Stormy as Cagney (that was a very plaintive meow), the guy who played Vinnie, and the Macbeth-Yale eruption.

For the second straight year I passed on the Banquet, so instead Alexandria and I, after voting in the Video Contest, found ourselves having dinner out. We'd hoped to find one of the restaurants we saw in Old Montreal, but it's a funny place over there. Saturday night, and everything seems to be closed! After stumbling around for half an hour, we eventually settled on another Italian place in a completely opposite direction from where we first looked. It was called Guido Angelina, and all I can say is three things. The wait was brief, the portions were huge, and the food was excellent. What more can a guy ask for? Well, a good conversation partner, I guess, and Alexandria and I talked for a very long time about each other's stories. Admittedly, she was my roommate, but I probably spent more time with Alexandria than anyone else this year, and I loved every minute of it.

After we got back I decided to shower and shave before the Masquerade, only to have Seri return just as I was going to shower and announce that Keith had finally arrived and was answering questions downstairs. They were nice enough to wait for me to finish showering before leaving. I got to ask Keith a question about his fight scene from They Live, but the best part was the woman in the next banquet room shrieking Sinatra's "My Way" during karaoke, and Keith says, "Somebody shoot that horse!" Hee hee hee!

Then we had Masquerade. By now everyone knows about the incredible gargoyle costume someone wore (I never did get his name - Kurol?), and I shudder to think of how much time and effort it took to get the costume together. Besides him, the best costumes were Lynati as Ophelia (poor Lynati didn't make it until just as the judges were returning with the results - amazingly, this was the first time I even saw Lynati, who was so helpful before the 2003 Gathering), Cindy as Titania, and someone I didn't know as Ekidna - if it hadn't been for the other guy, I would have picked her as Best in Show, partly because she picked one of the lesser-known characters and did a great job with her reptilian look. I got plenty of pictures, because goodness knows, we had a LOT of costumes this year, and everyone looked great. The only snafu I was aware of - Seri's Pack Fox costume refused to stay in one piece, and she wasn't able to wear it. At least Chyna didn't have any trouble with her Elisa Maza costume.

(Karine made the sensible choice of playing Fox from Walkabout, since it turns out she's six months pregnant. I'm in awe that she was able to continue chairing this convention in her condition. She also had a very nice medieval costume on earlier in the day.)

Later that night I talked to Kathy for a while, and she assured me that I wasn't completely crazy for expecting Andrea to find out about Demona and her sister every time I began to read a Madame Destine story. _That's_ why evil looks so good. It's because she has it so bad :D

After that, I sang "An Innocent Man" by Billy Joel for karaoke. I had hoped to sing "The Bitch is Back", in honor of my favorite character, but the computer was being difficult and I had to choose from an abbreviated list. It's a song I've sung before, but it's not exactly dance music, and wisely people took the time to continue their conversations. Eventually I went back to my room, where Alexandria and I spoke to Mooncat for a while over the phone before the four of us went to bed.

Day 4
Sunday, August 8

Last day of the Gathering. This time last year, I was going to leave the Gathering as soon as closing ceremonies ended, so I counted the hours and got very depressed. This year my flight wasn't until Monday, so I was able to enjoy this day a little better. Which was a good thing, because I had an Adult Round Robin panel to moderate first thing in the morning. Although this did prevent me from joining my Olympics team for their last event.

Anyway, there were a lot of events going on Sunday morning, so my Adult RR panel had five guests - Alexandria, Ellen, Spacebabie, Alex Garg, and Denis Malkavien. For my first time attending an adult RR, I thought it went very well. Despite selecting names randomly, I couldn't have picked a better pairing than the one we got, Fox Xanatos and Gargoyle-Elisa. I still have to transcribe my tape from that panel, but it went VERY well, and everyone went twice. I also read what would have been my entry in the Reading Contest, had it not been cancelled. They seemed to like it.

After that, I went to the Art Room to do some voting, and discovered the Phoenix Gate Anthology signing was taking place, so I took my seat and signed a lot of copies, as well as getting my copy signed. Unfortunately Summer Jackel and CS Hayden weren't there, but I did get little stickers with their signatures on them. I also bought a lot of trading cards from the Morgans, and I put a bid on one of Cindy's drawings. And since Keith gave his Mug-a-Guest in that room, I had a great seat. I got to ask him another question, this time about his experience working on a sitcom called The Job. This was a definite improvement on the previous night, since Sunday's Mug was cozier, better lit, and it was easier to hear.

At that point there was nothing to do but attend Closing Ceremonies. The 2005 Gathering Committee really sold their Las Vegas convention, and I registered for it as soon as the Ceremonies were over. I also got Keith to sign Mooncat's Anthology for her. And I learned my Clan tied for third in the Olympics. Yay! I also had the winning bid for Cindy's picture of Cowboy Alexander riding Bronx and telling him to "Giddyap!"

Afterwards I had dinner with Ellen, Alexandria, Leo, Sadistic Cow, and Alex Garg in this deserted food court before rejoining Seri and Chyna and about thirty other people for Laser Tag. It was my first time playing as an adult, but I had a lot of fun (except for the twelve block walk) and got extremely sweaty. I selected "Get the other team to hate me" strategy, and I believe I succeeded quite well. By then most people vanished into their rooms, so I waited in my room for a while before I slipped into bed with Alexandria one last time and fell asleep.

Day 5
Monday, August 9

Not much to say. I woke up at 8 AM, had breakfast, said goodbye to my roommates, and took a taxi to the airport. I got very emotional a couple times, especially when I left a goodbye message on Seri's voicemail and almost lost it in the middle of an airport terminal, but I was able to keep control. The first couple days ARE a very sad time for me, however, because I won't see these people for another year, and 99.9% of the time, it's the only time I see my fellow fans. So I'd like to thank Ellen, Kathy, Dylan, Mara, Stormy, Spacebabie, and everyone else I spoke to at the Gathering this year. I do hope to talk to you all more via the Internet while we wait for the 2005 Gathering.

I had the best roommates this year, I couldn't have asked for anything more from them, so Alexandria, Seri, and Chyna - I trust we will all continue to be friends for some time to come.

Other than the cancellation of the Reading Contest, Karine and the Convention staff did a fabulous job this year, and I had an incredible time. I hope the Las Vegas crew will be able to match it.

And thanks to Greg and Keith for being there. It was a show unlike all others.

Sincerely, Allaine

Greg responds...

Gatherings are of course my favorite time of year too.

So, just to be clear, you never did use that 1UP ball, right?

Response recorded on April 17, 2006