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Shannon "Shan" Muir writes...

THE GATHERING 2005 JOURNAL -- Shannon "Shan" Muir


Los Angeles may only be an hour away from Las Vegas by plane, but I needed to make sure not to miss a thing. So, there it was, 4AM and I was packing up last minute things to go. Making sure I had all 16 copies of the ARIA KALSAN anthology that I had at least promised the publisher I'd try to sell and a situation which Winterwolf was gracious to help accomodate me with after my original arrangments fell through. (I would later learn by weighing it at the Southwest counter that the carryon with all those books weighed 25 pounds, a situation I will probably have to reconsider in the future. It was fine... except when I had to lift it in and out of the overhead bins ).

Generally speaking, the trip from apartment to LAX to the Southwest jet to the Las Vegas airport was very smooth. I napped the short flight which gave me just the kick I needed.

Baggage claim was a barrage of sights and sounds tempting you to go to this casino or that show, everything seeming larger than life. And you're trapped there as it takes forever to get your bags. Getting innundated and innundated and innundated... I felt like I was stuck in the middle of a movie set and hoping the director would pop his head out and yell "cut!". Which of course never happened.

After my other suitcase showed up, I went out to where it said the shuttles were but these were the limos. I was directed to where the Palace Station's shuttle should have been at Zero level (I had done some research on the web earlier for both the Palace Station and airport but even that didn't keep me from getting lost). Totally not figuring things out, I go back up a level and find a taxi to take me to Palace Station. What I do not know is that this will immediately wipe out most of my cash on hand, as I expect to be able to use a credit card in a taxi. (I mean, I do it in LA all the time, right?). Las Vegas -- at least the airport taxi services -- are CASH ONLY! Eek! This meant later having to get ATM money from the casino with a fortunately nominal fee attached for the amount I desired. But still. I like planning ahead and being prepared and already things weren't working out.

The upside is that I was way early, got in around 9:30. So I check one bag and take the little one that has the books with me through the casino as I try to figure out where the Gathering is. And then I begin to realize my next mistake. I forgot to ask my physician for Allegra, or even bother to pack my Flonase spray which might have helped (or gotten me busted at the checkpoint?). My sinuses go crazy when I am exposed to smoke for too long periods of time. Nevada, particulary the casinos, are smoking of course, but I have failed to take this into consideration. This mistake comes back to haunt me several times over the course of the Gathering.

I find the area, but no one is there yet, save several other dealers who like me are looking for Winterwolf. Finally we find someone whose face I clearly remember, but whose name I never caught, who is on staff in a security capacity and is kind enough to page Winterwolf down for us. I learn the dealers' room was not set up the night before as I had understood it would be and I agree to come back at 1PM.

I return to the bell desk, check my second bag, and then call my boyfriend back in LA to tell him I arrived just fine. Only during my conversation with him do I realize it is after 10:30AM and I have not even had breakfast. Which also means I'm several hours late on a medication I am supposed to take with breakfast. I regretfully end my call and go eat what actually amounts to an early lunch (the menu had just changed) at the Burger King. After this, I am able to get my room and decide to crash on the bed and nap until going back at 1PM to meet Winterwolf.

About an hour later, there's a knock on the door. I ignore it; I mean, no one's expecting to meet me here. A second knock. So I pull myself out of bed and look through the little hole. It's a bellhop with a tray full of food. I VERY cautiously open the door and say I didn't order room service. He gives a name I don't recognize, though clearly it isn't mine, and tells me it is a GIFT FROM THE MANAGEMENT. I shake my head at him, insisting I am not this person and this is not the right room. He shows me a card, it has that name AND this room number (which based on what I now know I bet was in Courtyard 6th floor, I was Tower 6th Floor). Again he insists this is for me.

Oh, what to do? A person with less integrity might have pretended to be this other person and lied. But I didn't. I absolutely insisted I could not accept something not intended for me and if he could doublecheck I thought it to be for the best, and that I was sorry I could not accept a gift CLEARLY NOT meant for me.

And, after that, having to make sure to tell myself that no, that was not a dream, I went back to sleep until 1PM. Then, putting the books in my MY INNER SUPERHERO bag this time (a personal brand I sell on CafePress to support the FLYING GLORY webcomic), I made my way back across to the casino and dropped off the books. After that came lunch at the buffet known as THE FEAST, since I knew I hoped to see Greg's 3PM pre-Opening ceremonies panel and go on to the Opening Ceremonies themselves.

After a late lunch following registration and a brief hello to Greg, I sat in on Greg's 3PM pre-Opening Ceremonies panel on Animation Writing. Debating on Demona didn't interest me particularly, and I am not a poker fan (though the fact the panel was apparently also tailored for Vegas basics might have been a help, but since I am not a casino or clubber type I had my doubts). Besides, even with my fledgling pro credits, Greg is always fun to hear and a refresher course never hurts. Though I was self-conscious when he pointed me out at one point for not loudly cheering over the mention of his first work on the JEM series.

After that came opening ceremonies, which were fun. I enjoyed the time that the actors who couldn't come put into video and audio greetings to the con -- this included audio greetings from Keith David and Kath Soucie, and video from Ed Asner, Jeff Bennett, Bill Faggerbake, Frank Paur, and Michael Reaves, among others. The gem of the night from this group was Keith David delivering in a complete Goliath voice: "I have been denied everything... even my convention!"

This was followed with a series of videos shown by Greg, some of which have been seen yearly and some of which are new. One was a GARGOYLES pitch that slightly predated the well known one now on the DVD, actually narrated by well known actor and Disney staple Jim Cummings. The other was the hard work of several fans who won a charity auction for the storyboard, voice track, and script to the TEAM ATLANTIS episode "The Last" which has GARGOYLES-related connections, and did their best to assemble the existing material to give a taste of what might have been.

At the end of Opening Ceremonies, I went back for a tiny snack-like dinner at Burger King because the midday feast left me rather filled. After that, given the events of the day, there wasn't anyone inviting me anywhere, and the fact it was too late to get a shuttle to the Strip plus the issue of affording taxi fare back and forth, I called it an early night. I certainly couldn't complain about my no-smoking room floor with working A/C given my apartment doesn't have any back in LA!

Actually, it is incorrect to say I called it an early night. I tried to but found I was too wound up. So after calling my boyfriend and telling him the events of the day, I went down to the Blue Mug A Guest with Greg and Thom, having heard it was no holds barred and didn't know what to expect. Met Chameleongirl there while we were waiting, plus talked to a few others. However, with the Blue Mug being tamer than my expectations, and the fact that due to a combination of a medical condition I have and the medication for it emphasizing I try to get adequate sleep or I can encounter difficulties, I finally really did go up and call it a night just after 11PM.


Saturday began with getting up bright and early for breakfast. Part of this had to do with the fact that I was on one of the first panels of the morning. I was satisfied with the idea of being early and even having a small turnout if people had been up late the night before, but I refused to be late to my own panel! Though unfortunately I was done with breakfast too early and had to figure out how to kill time until I could even get in the room to sit down and prep.

The 10:30AM panel I was on was "From Fan to Pro," showcasing people who began as fans of animation and used those energies to begin building professional careers. The panelists were myself as writer/animation production personnel, and artists Karine Charlebois and Kythera of Anvern (aka Kit). Though I'd emailed both of my fellow panelists they'd been too busy to respond so I didn't know until that morning for sure that they'd made it. Karine and I waited a few minutes while Kit went to grab some samples for people to look at when the discussion was over. We waited a while and since Kit wasn't back yet, we started giving introductions until Kit returned.

The panel attendance was small but highly interested, and I would like to believe that we were able to be of some help, especially after hearing from several people that they felt more motivated and energized afterwards to improve their own art and writing. It is my personal belief that if others don't benefit from my doing panels such as this, it's not worth my time or theirs. When one of my valued mentors passed away quickly and unexpectedly two years ago from lung cancer, and a little over a year ago someone else who was influential in my early career decided to take her own life, I have become almost hypersensitive about the power of "paying it forward," to borrow that phrase popularized by a motion picture. Without these people no longer in my life, I realized what these people had meant, not just as people but what they had taught me. Someday, sometime, death comes to us all, and I'd like to believe that I could in some tiny way make the world -- or at least a few people's personal worlds -- a better place. I admit it's been a few years since I've done a panel of any kind, there's so much demand at Comic-Con I haven't done a panel there since 2001 (same year I was at "From Fan to Pro" at Gathering 2001, BTW). So I'm out of practice and relish opportunities to improve. Like I said, it seemed to go all right.

Anyway, after that I stayed in the same salon room for the next two panels, both of which were Greg-driven. The first was Story Development and Production where he co-hosted with Dave Schwartz. I mainly attended to see what Dave, whom I had never met and wouldn't talk to until Sunday, brought to the party. As Greg pointed out himself at the panel, "and I know Shan knows this..." But there's always benefit of seeing even with people you have heard before if there's just one little nugget of something maybe you just didn't quite catch last time.

Then came Greg and Thom in the voice acting panel. Mainly I was just watching to see how this was the same and how it differed from what we had done in the UCLA extension class Greg co-taught which I was in several years ago. The early exercises were the same, I remember doing the Demona monologue he started out using as something we also used in our class. But the larger group exercises were new material to me. This was why, when I wasn't quite sure Greg had the 10 he needed for the last performance, only then did I speak up. I would have given that a shot if needed to make it happen (I wasn't) but I figure that those for whom this is their closest experience to some of "the biz" should get to have the fun first. Also, those who actually have a chance of auditioning for the radio play. Since I had a panel opposite the radio play rehearsals, this wasn't an option for me even if I wanted to try (I did in Gathering 2001 but wasn't chosen). But I enjoyed watching the others learn and interact. After that came a much needed lunch break.

I got lunch at Burger King (not wanting to risk being held up and not being able to get back to the Creature Comics and Slave Labor Graphics panel), which I think was a good move. Several other attendees who I saw several times but who never actually introduced themselves so I remember faces but not names (!) asked some questions and also sought some advice. Questions ranged from my position on INVADER ZIM's short lived second season to more general career advice.

Still had time to kill after lunch, so wandered and waited a little. No gaming for me to kill time, though I'm certaintly of age. Having student loan payments kick in, plus knowing I'd be out of a job in a few weeks, makes me really hesitant to spend money in general.

Soon the panel got underway. It featured Dan Vado, head of Slave Labor Graphics, plus Greg Weisman and Marty Lund (the fan who kept believing in the impossible until it was possible, something which resonates with me a lot personally). Dan showed and walked through the SLG/Disney pitch reel of all the properties they are partnering on (HAUNTED MANSION with Roman Dirge, hopefully launching in October, as well as TRON, WONDERLAND, and of course GARGOYLES). Couldn't say too much about the comic yet as the deal was just signed, but it was a good chance to get to know more about the company and the partnership making this possible.

After that came the Charity Poker Tournament, but as much as I like gaming (I own a PS2 though due to my health I have to watch my gameplay hours, I am a 2nd generation PBM gamer, have not played MAGIC THE GATHERING much but often win when I do for reasons I can't explain, and I am known to be fierce at Yatzee) serious card games are not my strong suit -- please pardon pun -- though it would seem to me similar skills of logic and strategy would be relevant.

In a way this was convenient because I had never been to Las Vegas before and it provided the perfect opportunity to at least do a whirlwind tour of The Strip. I knew I wouldn't get to see everything, but my friend Monique said the Bellagio and the Venetian were must sees. I did one better and also got a fairly extensive look at Paris Las Vegas, but that was in part because it was the route to and from the monorail station.

Since we (myself and a few other folks from the hotel) had just missed the 6PM shuttle to the strip, and again I'm trying to save money, I have to hang around for an hour for the 7PM one. I get a bottle of water at the gift shop and drink it outside to get used to being in the heat. Greg Weisman passes me not once but twice in this 40 minute period. Finally the shuttle arrives at 7 and I take a four hour trip about the strip, but don't see anyone from the Con. I make it back for a very late Subway sandwich dinner after 11PM.


This day began by sleeping in after the adventures of the evening before, getting up for a late brunch (knowing I won't eat again before the banquet), and then actually lying down in bed again. This was OK as none of the first panels were really up my alley, they were all art-focused. The main focus of my day is that I know I have to be up and alert for the Webcomics panel at 3PM, where I am scheduled to discuss the writing and business side of running FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY.

About 11:30 am I get out of bed for good, deciding that I will go to the Dan Vado Mug-a-Guest. Not until I looked at my literature getting home did I realize I was supposed to sign up for it, so technically I broke the rules here (sorry Con staff). But signup for the Blue Mug didn't seem to be required and I just went there, so I didn't know any better. Anyway, the chart says that the Mug a Guest is in the Con Suite, so I go there. Aaron in the Con Suite (at least, I'm fairly sure it was Aaron I saw that morning) says it is in the Event Suite at the other end of the hall, though this confuses me because the chart says Life Drawing is in there. So I go to the Event Suite just as the Dave Schwartz mug clears out and stake a seat to see Dan Vado. They sort things out and Life Drawing moves to the Con Suite.

In the end, there are only four of us in a very engaged conversation. After talking to Dan briefly because of our commonality of working with Jhonen Vasquez, I largely sit back and listen as others field many of the questions I would have. When it gets down toward the end, I finally do ask the several questions on my mind that haven't come up yet, but manage to twist them both so they don't come out quite right Luckily Dan figured out my meaning and compensated with the appropriate answer, emphasizing that while he wouldn't want people to buy comics that don't interest them, letting people know about the other titles coming out before GARGOYLES when you know these will interest folks and legitimately getting their long-term sales up (in other words, DO NOT go buy issues just to inflate the numbers) is definitely in our vested interest. Like there's a guy I work with who is totally into Roman Dirge like stuff, so I should tell him about HAUNTED MANSION to make sure he knows, though I suspect he does already never hurts to check. Stuff like that. Dan made a very good Mug-A-Guest and if he comes back to represent SLG at LA, consider seeing if he'll be available again. And I promise not to crash this time.

After that, I stayed around for Greg's panel on W.I.T.C.H., that it seems had a much higher interest than they were prepared for in that small conference room. When it turned out the VCR wasn't working, we all uprooted back over to the Con suite and took it over since it had a working VCR. Greg showed the original animatic pilot for W.I.T.C.H. that varies significantly in some ways from the first episode made, and told about how the show went through various producers as it found the direction Disney wanted. He hinted as some of Season 2, such as insisting Thom would be heard as "Sammy the Calculator" (and yes he really is a calculator), nothing deep and detailed was revealed yet. Season 2 can start no earlier than January 2006, but Disney could hold over until the Fall... not an uncommon practice these days.

After this, I went to the lobby for the restroom and to grab a bottled water before the Webcomics panel back up in the Event Suite on 3rd floor. With it being opposite Radio Play auditions, I wasn't expecting many people but that was fine with me.

With hardly any time to spare, I went back to the 3rd floor... and discover the door to the Event Suite is locked! My best guess here is that when we traded rooms for the W.I.T.C.H. panel someone closed the door behind them, or perhaps Housekeeping did (it was being braced open by keeping the security latch in a certain position).

One other person shows up at that moment looking for the Webcomics panel. We quickly race to the Con Suite down the hall hoping against hope there is a staff member there. No luck. (Suggestion to future Con Staffs: in a case like this where events are taking place some distance apart, there should be someone at least regularly available in each area, and in this case the Con Suite seemed the logical place to find such a person. I mean, what if there had been a major emergency?).

Now a quick decision must be made. Neither Eden nor Silver (my fellow panelists) have arrived yet. So myself or the other person I don't know needs to go down, through the casino, and up to the Event Salons to see if there are Con Staff there, with no guarantee we'll find anyone. I decide as a panelist it is *my* responsibility to go get the key, and ask the other interested person to hang tight and let people know the panel is indeed here and I'm coming back with the key. After all I gave up a shot at the Radio Play to do this panel, I'm not just giving up without a fight!

With that, I made a mad walking dash across the casino, fortunately I have a pretty wide stride so I don't have to be running through the casino. I walked up the escalator and employ the same fast walk up to the Registration table, where I requested (possibly bordering on demanded, it's hard to tell in hindsight): "I need someone on staff with keys to 3010, now" with 3010 being the room number of the Event Suite. To the Registration's table's credit, they find me Aaron VERY quickly and we make it back to get the door open. (Aaron, again, thank you!)

Silver and a few other interested people are in the hall outside the door when Aaron and I arrive, but no sign of Eden. Carol (whom I met when we both took Greg's class a few years ago, and is on Con staff) shows up and asks if we need anything more while Silver sets her art out on the conference table. I politely tell Carol that if she could track down Eden, as the panel was her idea, would be nice.

Silver and I wait a few more moments but no Eden, so we get started, and Eden does eventually find us (and Carol, thanks for checking one more time to make sure we had everything we needed). Since Silver launched off the panel, everything kind of winds up flowing under her. My normal style is usually starting off with intro, then a few structured questions to break the ice, then ask the audience for Q&A. In both cases at the Gathering the panels wound up being total Q&A with the audience, or at least that was the intended structure. We did not get a lot of questions at this panel which meant the three of us wound up talking more about ourselves and bouncing off one another with people listening. While I enjoyed what we did and do believe we were informative, I just felt like we weren't interacting enough with the audience. Whether they just didn't have the questions, or somehow we just weren't giving them the breathers they needed to ask the questions, I don't know. Part of it may be that our comics and approaches to artwork and story development are so diverse.

After the Webcomics panel came the Radio Play. Unfortunately I got pegged with a combination of heavy cigar smoke followed by the smell of cleaning products on the way to the Salons and this would create a nasty little headache combination I could not shake for hours.

The Radio Play was very interesting and I was very sorry I couldn't audition given the subject matter. I don't know how much we can legally share, so suffice it to say it was for an hour live-action show pilot Greg co-wrote that has more than a little roots in classical literature As a broadcasting/English/communications major, I couldn't help but appreciate this. Though I might have enjoyed it more without the headache, and there were some things that still weren't clear about character relationships and motivations afterwards, but overall it was enjoyable. I understand there's some fandom humor about Jennifer/"CrzyDemona" playing a more than flirtatious woman with attitude, as her lines definitely got the most response out of any, though many people did good acting jobs.

After that came the Banquet, where we wound up standing outside a while to get in and then it was unclear where to sit, apparently it was open seating and then open buffet. Each seat had a lit gargoyle (not Disney type, generic gargoyle) candle in front of it, and at one point before food was served we were asked to look under the candles and not spill the wax. Some people had little colored stars on the bottom of theirs which signify different things. The first one involved locating the gold stars to sit next to special guests.

So I look, expecting nothing. But it looks like there is something there, so I strain harder forgetting there are fairly low holes in my candle holder design and pour wax all over my finger After dealing with that, I try again. I have a little star on the bottom of my candle holder. It is green. There is one blue star at each table, these folks are told they get to keep the gargoyle table centerpieces.

Then we are informed green and silver stars wait until after dinner. Ack. The suspense must wait.

Dinner consists of salad, rice, veggies, and then a choice of eggplant parmesan, chicken, or roast sirloin. I take the roast sirloin because the chicken doesn't thrill me and I am not a fan of eggplant as a main course, though I will eat it. My table is fairly quiet throughout dinner (we weren't full to begin with) so there's not a lot of conversation to be had there. Not that I mind, my head and sinuses are still hurting up a storm from smoke and cleaner irritation so I don't feel like talking all that much. Toward the end of dinner someone (Marina I think?) ascertains that I'm from LA and I find out she's relatively nearby...

And then Chris Rogers cuts back in to announce about those little green and silver stars. First the green ones, which includes me. Chris announces there are only FOUR green stars, which I think made this the rarest item of the night. Turns out they have four vintage (eep? Do I dare say vintage?) Gargoyles puzzle cubes manufactured by Applause, still sealed. And one of them winds up in my little hands. The silver star folks, of which I think there were less than one per table but more than four, get customized pen and pencil sets commemorating G2005 which actually look very nice but in my case would only end up in a drawer as you don't usually find things like that in a Production Coordinator's cubicle (now if I get a promotion to Production Manager in my next job somewhere and actually get an office, that's aother story ).

This is where I am kind of glad there was no dinner based Q&A, because at this point I honestly feel like my head is going to explode. I don't do cosplay or masquerade, but I really did want to see the ceremony this time out because I didn't in Gathering 2001 Los Angeles. There aren't many people here that know me really well, but I seek out one of these people and just let them know where I'm going and how I feel, with my intent to be back down later if I can shake the stupid headache. As I later told this person, I just felt the need to be accountable to someone because if things had gone for the worse, being around a lot of people who don't know me really well, who would notice that I was missing? This is the biggest downside of coming to one of these things on your own.

I go upstairs, take both my normal prescription meds plus the last ibuprofen I have on hand, and lie down for an hour. This, probably in addition to finally getting my 2nd meal of the day, does the trick to where things are at least liveable.

So I come back to the area where it is to be held, but they are not ready to seat yet. One person (CKayote, who I actually spoke to before but wasn't introduced until this point, which is why I didn't remember until now) is thinking of doing some fanfic but is wrestling with issues, so I take him through some general pointers surrounding his issue. While I have no aversion to fanfiction per se, after all technically the stories that first got me noticed by the VOLTRON staff 20 (!!!!) years ago can be considered such as they weren't solicited premises, like Greg and other pros I know I generally steer clear of it simply because I never know if these shows might be revived and I be able to compete for a chance to actually write for them -- so I don't want to influence myself. That said, I know my chances are next to none with Gargoyles but it's still a general personal principle.

We get ready to watch the parade of costumes, after being one of the latecomers to the dessert table (which was saved until then) and being put under more than a little pressure to get out of the way and sit down so things could get started. Sorry. But with people swarming like vultures (others' words at the time, not mine though I can think of no laternate imagery) early on, I tend to wait until things calm down. I'm sitting at the table with Silver, Lizzo, and their Mom, and Silver became my guide to answering questions about cosplay, masquerade, and related things. Thank you, Silver, for filling in the gaps and for all your help throughout the Gathering.

I'm not even going to try and run down the Awards ceremony in detail because there was so mucht to take in. There were costume awards, the Clan Olympics awards, annoucing the winners of the celebrity poker tournament, and stuff like that. I'm sure others can handle this with the correct detail it deserves. After that, it all came to a close. I took a few minutes to at least introduce myself to Dave Schwartz, especially because his name seems to ring a bell from my time at Sony. I do learn we were at Sony at the same time in the middle to late 90s but on different projects.

I heard normally they do fun stuff afterwards, but I'm guessing with the Strip practically outside our door, that constituted the "fun stuff" and I'd already had my fill of that. So I found myself with nothing to do.

I considered wandering back to my room -- not like I couldn't have used it -- but then I realized how early it was and there had to be SOMETHING going on! So I went back. Which was good. I saw people talking in one room but there was activity in the smaller room, twopeople moving chairs. One was the fellow who helped me twice by locating Winterwolf and Aaron when I needed them (don't know name at all, sorry) and when he saw me coming I can't help but wonder if he questioned what I wanted this time from him. But that wasn't it at all. No, this time I poked my head in and asked three little words: "Can I help?"

It's amazing what absolute boredom can drive you do to, for the good mind you. With no idea what was going on, I found they needed chairs moved to set up for something. Though I can only lift one at a time, I just pitched right in and tried my best. I would then finally meet and talk to the other person in the room, whom I had just seen at the Ceremonies but never talked to before... Brother Abe. Apparently there was a game he normally would have done at the Clan Olympics but was unable to fit in this year, so he was adapting it for individual play to offer a group game alternative to those who weren't into the casinos. I believe the name was "Shot in the Dark," basically he set up cardboard targets on chairs people would then through little plastic balls with tentacles at to try and score points, all in a dimly lit room. I tried twice, scoring 75 points the first time but nothing the second time (more accurately, I had 10 points then hit the target again which takes those points back). By this point my arm was not happy with me, probably from lifting chairs, so I checked the other room. People were STILL talking! Greg was with a bunch of people at one table, and Dave at another.

I saw Carol with Dave so sat next to her, we caught up as I haven't seen her since the 2001 Gathering. Spoke to Dave a little more, though find my subject matter becoming more self-absorbed as I clearly am crossing the line into very tired. But I don't want to leave. This is important as people with seizure disorders (I don't technically have epilepsy but I have to follow a lot of the same rules, such as limited exposure to strobe lights, which REALLY limited what I could do in Vegas as the stage shows love those things) are supposed to get decent amounts of sleep to reduce their risks. So I stay a while longer, but finally at 1AM I have to sadly throw in the towel and try to go to bed.

But wouldn't you know it, something writing-related finally clicks with me after I get back to my room and I'm up writing notes... until 2AM. I know I'm going to be paying for this Monday morning. Oh wait, it *IS* Monday morning!


Monday I decided to go easy on myself. Other than wanting to hear Greg talk about Original Properties at noon, and needing to pick up the ARIA KALSAN books when the dealers' room closed at 1:30, there wasn't anything that was a must for the day.

Anyway, I slowly managed to pack up my room, do video checkout, have my bags checked at the bell desk, and grab breakfast at the buffet (where I am seated a couple of tables down from Greg X and two others I don't recognize, Greg X is hard to miss in the coat he wears). After that I sit down and watch the end of "Win Xanatos' Money" just to get a sense of how it is structured and people's enthusiasm towards it. I feel safe since I haven't read any of the fan fiction that I can more observe people's enthusiasm towards it, and how they structure the game. However, at one point Allaine starts going around calling on members of the audience, which leads to an awkward moment where I have to tell him I don't read the fanfic and would be guessing. I'm afraid I insulted him, but like I said before, I have my reasons not to though I certaintly won't stand in the way of others.

Greg's panel on original properties is interesting. Due to some time needed to get the A/V set back up, we first start out discussing some behind the scenes of the live-action pilot done as the radio play and the how and why of his being partnered with another writer, along with the true history that then inspired the pilot. With the A/V then set up, we switched over to watching two color animatics (or, leica reels if you prefer, though the only time I've ever heard that term is when Greg uses it -- like his calling "Main Model Pack" a "999 pack" which I never heard before Gathering 2005). Both are pitches for a similar genre of show, though distinctly different in plot, done with two different levels of detail. I understand one of them was shown at a New York Gathering before in a slightly different form (it's the one Greg and Vic Cook worked on), and the other was shown for the first time (which is development done in conjunction with a studio). There were a couple moments due to the nature of the properties I found myself breathing a sigh of relief because Kevin Paul Shaw Broden and I are personally developing similar work in this vein but there were aspects that appeared in these that we had rejected which means we are now less similar to these two. Also, our development by necessity can't target the same demographic so all is well there. That was my biggest worry and risk in sitting in on this is that I didn't know what Greg would show or talk about, but I did want to see if there was anything he'd share I didn't already know. There were definitely a few things I walked away with, so that was good.

After that, it was next door to the dealers' room to pick up the ARIA KALSAN books from Winterwolf. I knew they hadn't really sold, so I was expecting to pick them all back up. But when I came to the counter, one weas missing! Winterwolf let me know that they did end up selling one, which made me very happy (thanks JEB!) because it felt like a nice reward for wheeling those 25 pounds of books everywhere and lifting them up and down out of the overhead compartments. Partially, though, having them there justified the trip as a business expense for promotion as a freelance writer.

So, with all the books back in my MY INNER SUPERHERO bag and a tad heavy that way until I can get them back into the luggage, I seek out Greg Weisman just to say goodbye because I know he's got to be hanging around for the auctions and guest signing that are about to start. But for me, between trying to drastically clean out and rearrange my apartment, and knowing I'll be unemployed soon enough, spending more money is not what I ought to be doing.

From there I grab lunch at the Mexican restaurant in the Palace Station, which was OK but mainly I wanted something different since I'd either been at the Feast or Burger King (save the one stop at Subway) the whole time. At 3PM, myself and a couple of others who are heading home from the Con get on the FREE Airport Shuttle -- I'm relieved to not be paying for a taxi again after all! -- and get dropped off at the airport.

Now bear in mind, my flight actually was scheduled to leave at 7:50 PM. But I didn't want to get so tied up in the Closing Ceremonies that I didn't leave when I should, and I also wanted to allow time for dinner in the airport and stuff like that since Southwest doesn't do meals on their flights. However, being on the 3PM shuttle gets me there 30 MINUTES EARLY TO EVEN CHECK IN! Oops. Fortunately, they let me wait inside near the ticket counters and right to the minute of 4 hours before flight time I go check in.

It's not a bad 4 hours in the airport, mind you. I do casually find some dinner, spend some time listening to my iPod, even (since my Blackberry ran too low on power) buy a little Internet kiosk time to check my email even in my work box and find out what I've missed and let my bosses know what good a time I've had. No complaints. Even getting on the plane is easy, it all seems a breeze.

Until we're going down the runway and all of a sudden the plane stops. We're being told that there is hold for us leaving for LA with no estimated time of departure. Turns out there were lightning storms that were backing up traffic to LAX and so they held us on the tarmac for AN HOUR. We essentially left when we would have landed.

Despite it all got home shortly before midnight and worked my way to bed. After all, there was Production Coordinator work to go back to in the morning, and find out what day I was getting laid off from the show (August 19th). Now I'm busy wrapping things up and packing up the production offices, and putting out feelers on where to go next. Like we were talking about on the "From Fan to Pro" panel, things can be feast or famine in the animation business but you have to learn to be flexible and go with the flow. I just know I wouldn't give up being around animation for the world, as a fan or as a pro. And that includes things like Gathering 2005.

Shannon "Shan" Muir

Greg responds...

Farewell, my enemies!

Response recorded on December 07, 2006