The Gathering 2004
Wednesday and Thursday
Quindar and I headed up to Canada by car, thankfully without too many wacky hijinks ensuing from my mutual inability to drive OR navigate. Coming from the lovely and way too large state of Pennsylvania, we only got in around midnight through a single lane highway bordered by concrete barriers that looked like they'd been painted black by the same lunatic that put together the very strange road signs. (yes, I've already been told that they adhere to international sign standards whereas the U.S. doesn't - but I also swear the next time I go to Canada, I'm wearing a shirt that says "Sorry, I'm a stupid American" in several languages). While we were checking in, a group of gargy people were hanging out in the lobby looking strangely out of place. The hotel was outright beautiful - sadly enough, we didn't get any pictures of that - and my first impression was "swank.... how'd we get away holding a con here???"
Being tired, we headed back past the group of garg people - Greg included - to the ridiculously expensive parking garage, hauled luggage to the room, and returned to find people gone. :( Still, that meant at least some decent amount of sleep that night.
I had my first encounter with the row of elevators that faced the outside of the building and thus had a glass outer wall. I'm sure it was fairly amusing - door opens and innocent garg fans step inside, one wandering over to the fantastic view from the 21st floor, the other only going about halfway before the doors close, the elevator starts to practically freefall, and viewers find me plastered back against the door with appropriate "eeep!" sounds. Quindar seemed to enjoy the view the entire time, though. I will admit I really did like that they designed the hotel with the indoor pool viewable from those elevators, but trippyness aside, my fear of heights did not enjoy it enough to ever manage to comfortably stand next to the window. It did make for an interesting personal challenge throughout the con, though.
Found the registration desk and got a chance to talk with BrooklynX and Abe Wintersmith while signing in. Saw a few more gargoyles fans, and then we decided it was finally time to take a look around the city.
Well, actually it was more like a hunt for a place to exchange money, but this sounds better. The concierge gave us directions to I still don't know where, but it sure was pretty walking the few blocks looking for it. Aside from some gorgeous architecture, local interest was found mainly in the fact that one of the streets we were traveling was reserved for a movie shot later in the day. Sounds boring, until you realize that the city had pre-made signs for this purpose. Also, one of the trees growing from the protective grates had been removed, soil and all, and replaced with a mini-telephone pole. I guess just because.
I'm also silly enough to find it very amusing that there was a guy with a "Movie Surveillance" jacket watching over everything, mostly because I literally only know about 7 phrases of French, most of which I was mentally confusing with my 7 phrases of Spanish. Public education and the mandatory 3 months of assorted languages didn't help me much. I'll admit, as lovely as the location was, the French thing intimidated the heck out of me. There's just something about knowing that if I somehow get separated from known locations that it's even odds anyone would even be able to understand me. Due to nerves from that, I tended to make sure that every time someone spoke to us, I used specifically English phrases - it's a spiffy trick of all the waiters and service people have. Go up to helpless English speaking tourist, and a "Bonjour hello," and they take the cue of how you answer to speak whichever language.
We ended up wandering down into the subway system, a nifty little set of actual train and underground walkways. Beautifully kept up - though everything was pretty much monolingual, including a sign for either a movie or play about the life of Elvis (...) - and the walking part was intriguing. The thing that kept striking me about the city as a whole is they put a lot of work into making things aesthetically appealing, as compared to most of the US, where once you get past the Victorian period, architecture tends to be utility based. I mean, the subway system had sections that were clearly there mainly for art purposes. Pretty spiffy, all told.
After an interesting encounter with an overly helpful local and a map, we finally had lunch in a McDonalds in the underground area just by the hotel. - the first and only McDonalds I saw the entire time. We actually tried to go to the Subway (yes, the sandwich place - who says restaurants don't have a sense of humor?) first, but the person behind the counter just looked at us blankly as I gave my now standard introduction of "Hi, do you speak English?" Since we figured we could at least figure out how to order a large fry from a French only menu, we headed next door. Which was all well and good, but after getting food, I realized that I had neither been charged for nor gotten my drink. Rather than deal with the snarky mainly French speaking McDonald's person, I decided to wander back to the Subway. A different person was manning the counter, and he managed to speak - barely - some English. With a lot of gestures and many sheepish variants on "I'm sorry, can you repeat that?" I finally managed to get a bottle of Coke. Or, as he seemed to put it, "Cocola." Very nice guy, though, and I think I thanked him profusely enough about that.
Quindar and I somehow ended up finding ourselves randomly sitting next to Yggdrasil, so we had a spiffy chat over food about gargs, biology, politics, and a few of the con panels. Pity we didn't get a chance to pester him some more over the weekend. After watching lots of people in con paraphernalia brave McDonalds for food, we all headed to Opening Ceremonies. Lots of fun, and Greg seemed to be having a wonderful time - both with the good news about the first season coming out on DVD (December 7 is about a week after my birthday.... I know what I'll be getting from everyone I know!) and the Keith David gag. I also entertained myself by watching the DVD crew taping the documentary. It was amusing to watch the cameraman try to figure out what to film, and the expressions on all three of their faces when the crowd let loose with "It's better than Barney!" were absolutely priceless. They apparently didn't see it coming, even after Greg called OC the garg version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The other highlight was a tape of hellos and good wishes from assorted people who'd worked on Gargoyles but couldn't make it. I honestly can't recall everyone on there, but both Ed Asner and Crispin Freeman had wonderful and touching things to say. It's good to hear that everyone, fans to voice actors to producers, loved this show.
And Vegas.... wow. That is going to be... interesting. Chris Rogers certainly knows how to put together a presentation. I've been turning over the idea of the Gathering in Vegas since I heard about it, and at first I had very mixed feelings. With the realization that the DVD will have documentary of the con, and going out there into the world, well, that means a pretty hefty increase in attendance, no matter what. And Chris really seems to not only have that well in hand, but any other random ideas that seemed to have been thrown at him. He had a really terrific talk about con plans, and it looks like it will be really cool.
I'm looking forward to Vegas, actually.
I think after that, another foray for food, a bit of time in Mystery Garg Theater, and then we headed up to the con suite early to see if anyone was there. Due to that, we got to hang around, listen to people chat about random things and Leo's strange screen shots, not to mention we actually snagged some chairs. Blue Mug wasn't too blue, but it was really amazing, because it's 30 odd people crammed into a room, and basically hanging out with Greg. Totally different atmosphere from Greg being the guy standing up in front of the crowd and talking - much more relaxed, cozy, and overall just very fun. This of course went until the wee hours of the night, until Karine kicked us out.
Happy thoughts and good wishes to Liz Chesterman's friend, who was not only a con virgin but hadn't made his way through the whole series, and so left early due to getting some massive spoilers during the blue mug.
We slept in a bit, and wandered around the hotel looking for people to chat with. I think somewhere in here we spotted the DVD camera crew talking amongst themselves, and I nerved myself up to talk to them. I asked if they were still looking for stories, and there was an exchange of looks before the camera guy told me they already struck the set. The director, however, asked what it was. Given it was Quindar and myself standing there, I guess he suspected another "couples" story, so as always I enjoyed myself too much pulling out the classic of "I got cancer in '96, gargs helped see me through to remission, Make-A-Wish sent me to 2000, been coming back ever since." Then add in Quindar's quiet "we met in 2002, and been together ever since," and I think we kinda surprised them with that. There was another, different look, then the director told us to check for them around Masquerade time.
That done, and having carried out part of Greg's mission (go forth and spread the word of gargs, and talk to the camera crew!), we finally headed out to the radio play, and what an event!
The talent in this fandom never ceases to amaze me. The script was for The Journey, and it was incredible. Rob St. Martin made for an incredible Goliath, Zehra once again portrayed a spiffy Elisa, and Vinnie, Castaway, Macbeth and Margot Yale all shone as well. Heck, EVERYONE rocked. As an interesting side note, Greg mentioned at some point that the lovely line of Macbeth's - "Madame, they burned witches like you in the middle ages!" was actually an improvisation by John Rhys-Davis. So when I got home I checked the 2000 Journey script, and found that the original line was "Madam, you are the most narrow-minded--"... and one can only wonder what word would've followed. Margot's return shot of "Mister, you are living in a fantasy world!" still makes me giggle immensely.
We headed down to the banquet after that, but people were preparing the room itself, so we hung around outside with assorted people. Then the camera crew showed up and started taping mock convos between people, trying to get real, lifelike interaction to tell personal stories to people that... probably knew at least some of it anyway. We spotted them, and so bit the bullet again and went up once they were done.
Noel Leas and her friend (apologies, I know I've seen you before, but I never catch your name!) were randomly snagged to try to talk to us about our story. I had my usual case of stage fright, and so I have no idea what I said AT ALL, other than WAY too many ums and ahs in there. Sigh. Ah well. Did our duty, told our story, and could therefore just chat with the film crew a bit before they moved on to their next group. I'm afraid I also don't recall what anyone else said.
Meanwhile, the room had finally opened up to let us in. The banquet followed, and was really, truly stunning. Admittedly in several different senses of the word, but I had a lot of fun. I'm afraid I don't recall who all we sat with, other than BrooklynX and Lynati for the bits when she wasn't working on her costume. There was a one day con-goer, to her first Gathering with her father, who looked a little overwhelmed by the insanity, but incredibly proud when his daughter went and gave Greg a picture of a gargoyle she'd drawn. I think that really made her night, if not her con. If she sees this, apologies for not remembering her name, and hope to see her next year!
The other person at our table was a Canadian fan, whose name I also didn't catch. Eeek. Sorry! He was also incredibly nice, and not only put up with Quindar, BrooklynX, Lynati, and myself talking obsessively about the con, but he also humored me and answered Stupid American General Questions About Canada. One of the most interesting threads was actually about the con shirt design. To paraphrase, there's the grinning Mountie beaver - Canada - riding along top the symbol of Quebec, which is a silly looking dog. I totally forgot about Quebec talking about secession a few years back, but with that in mind, I can see why he commented that it'd be a cute shirt for a kid, but not something he felt comfortable wearing. ::facefault:: One of those interesting commentaries about how different cultures lead to misunderstandings.
The other major interesting bit to the meal actually involved the menus. Yes, the menus. The cover was a nice Delta logo, the inside had the expected menu, but the inside of the cover had a picture of Goliath (picture 8c in the S8 misc image archive), above the Garg logo. When first seeing them, I think everyone made awed noises, and then moved on. I'll admit I did a bit of a double take at the logo, because I could see the classic clawmarks in the name - marks from the logo with Goliath standing above the letters. I'll admit I thought it was odd that a) the con mascot wasn't used and b) the normal logo wasn't used, but I figured what the hey. They're still darn pretty. More on this later.
Keith David finally arrived near the end of the dinner, and it was fascinating to just listen to him - the content was interesting, but it was the rumble that's naturally in his voice that really is nifty. I'm also rather proud of the fact that when he left the room for a few minutes, I noticed the waiter clearing away dishes - including Keith's! I snagged the man and told him that at least Keith was still eating, so he put the dishes back - and when Keith returned a moment later, he double checked to see if his food was still there. Glad I could help with that before anything happened!
Let's see... all else I really recall of the Q&A was that Greg didn't answer many questions, but I at least got to ask him about his project with Vic Cook that we heard about last year. Stuck in the cogs of the machine is the quick answer, unfortunately. After the Q&A broke up, Quindar and I got recruited to help move tables and chairs. I finally got to meet Ian "Sir Rowan", whose art I've been watching (and drooling over) for a long time, and he seemed happy to know there's a fan of him out there. Unfortunately I was too caught up in table moving to remember to mention I'd been hitting his Elfwood site for far too long, and could only tell him that I'd really enjoyed the comic he, Kanthara, and friends worked on.
Due to chair rearrangement, we got good seats right up front behind the judges. Which was interesting, because soon after we sat down, the hotel guy who'd been running interference with the Godawful Karaoke (tm) next door sat down at the judge's table. He was pretty hyper, grinning and clearly having the time of his life, especially after A Fan came up (wearing a suit and a Delta name tag of Daniel) and asked if he wanted his glass filled with water. They had some nice banter going, but unfortunately all that I remember was Fan recommending the Hilton across the street. Basically, the hotel person was almost giddy and clearly having a blast. When Fan finally wandered off (to stand by the door and try to help guests there), the hotel guy finally turned around and just had a bit of a ramble/conversation with us. Turns out that Daniel was the hotel contact person, and had been interested in the con from the get go, which is somehow (I'll admit to not knowing entirely how) related to him becoming a judge for the Masquerade. But he was really enjoying things - the strangeness, the energy, the fun. Then he proceeded to get up and grab one of the spare menus for himself, after all he did with it. He sat back down, turned around, and proudly showed us how he wanted to do something spiffy and special for the menus, so he went online to the Disney site, and picked up the garg logo, but that was black and white, so a little boring - so he cropped that, and snagged the Goliath picture to put above it.
I love this man. He is so cool. Then, when Greg finally came in and sat down next to him, Daniel asked him to autograph the menu. Greg did so, and Daniel turned around and gave us the niftiest thumbs up, "this is great!!" expression.
You can find it here thanks to Quindar being quick with the camera. :) Daniel was not expecting that, so he just flopped over the table laughing, and went back to talking with Greg. We caught him later, and Quindar got a business card, so we will be sending on the memento. He was also kind enough to later pose for the camera with his menu: that one's also available here. :) It was also cool to have things from a non-fan's perspective as the people paraded by in costume, and Daniel would lean over and ask Greg if each of them was from the show or not. A little different type of attention for Greg!
The masquerade itself was awesome. The cosplayers themselves were stunning, the staff was clearly having fun (pregnant Kanthara as pregnant, Walkabout Fox was rather inspired), and the audience was highly dressed up and spiffy to boot! I have to make an offhand comment about why on earth did Cat as Hecate's Heccy (I think?) not join in??? Especially with the big battle-ax o' DOOOM? Also, there were several very nifty versions of the Eye of Odin running around, which really impressed me. Well, that and scared me, but right now I'm going with impressed. Beyond that, however, I'm still just too stunned to make much commentary. That, and I have no idea who people are in costume. ^_^; Sorry!
Single commentary: Ethan, Sapphire, and Chameleon Girl put on a hilarious and wonderful performance of the opening monologue that has to be seen to believed. Hit s8. S8.org is our FRIEND!
Once the judges adjourned to talk about costumes, the masquerade people were free to drift out into the hall and have their pictures taken, of which there were lots. The most memorable bit of that to me was the group photo after awards, when everyone in costume grouped together and let everyone take several dozen shots. And they vamped nicely for the cameras - including someone who was taking pictures with several cameras, clearly belonging to people IN the shot - until they declared they would be leaving in five... four... three... two... ONE! and just streamed out amongst the picture takers like some movie shot or something you'd see on camera. I have no idea if the DVD crew was still around for that. I hope they got it, but if not, it made for a fun moment anyways.
Quindar and I had finally managed to catch Lynati, and promised to kidnap her after the masquerade, and "hanging around for a few minutes for something." So we were right there as Emambu got up for karaoke, and did Lynati's filk of Blame Canada: Blame Gargoyles. Now, it's very strange to me to realize that when Emambu was doing his spiffy intro talk, Greg was busy chatting with someone, and utterly oblivious to the fact that someone was trying to get his attention. So Quindar went over, got his attention and told him he was wanted by people at the front of the room, and THEN Greg was noticing what was going on.
Blame Gargoyles, simply put, is stunning. In a very, very good way. All I really know what to say is, if you haven't seen it yet, go to s8.org and check the archives to see it. Thank you, Gore! You totally DO deserve the fan guest of honor award!
After this, Lynati went off to get less green (her Ophelia costume was amazing), then we all tromped back downstairs because Lynati had an art project to share. I'm still not entirely sure about the details, but she made several glass, wood backed friezes of the con mascot, and she wanted to give one to Greg. Since we found out during dinner that he'd be leaving very early the next morning, she wanted to catch him then.
We made it back to karaoke just in time to catch Keith David singing acapella - and my word, that was amazing! We just stood quietly in the back and listened, like everyone else... aside from Arno and whoever grabbed him for a dance. Heh. When that was done, Lynati snagged Greg and wowed him with her gift, which he really seemed to like.
Then we finally got to kidnap Lynati and talk until the wee hours of the morning.
So because of going until the wee hours of the morning, we decided to just get sleep. We slept late enough that we pretty much passed on the events, but were up and about to keep our appointment for dinner with BrooklynX, because both Quindar and I are finding to our amusement that the con is more a family reunion and a chance to get together and see people than about the panels - which is fun, no doubt about that, but the main thing is the people. It's strange how the fandom and the con become a strange but nifty mix like that. Anyway, we had a good meal and a nice chat, with a bit of ogling BrooklynX's cel and art collection. Lots of talk about gargs,, the DVD (of course!), and life. After unknowingly keeping the restaurant open a bit longer than they expected (in our defense, con time or no, they closed ridiculously early), we headed back to the hotel and went off to do our own things. Quindar and I ended up wandering around the hotel and finally trying to look at things - what we found was the Mezzanine level Muzak volume knob. No, seriously, we did. There's pictures of it, even. We considered playing with it, made jokes about how it was good that it hadn't been publicly advertised during the con itself, and then went off to write a note to Lynati. After all, the girl had gotten no more than 5 hours of sleep (I think rather less) because she had to be up for a biology panel, and it was late enough in the evening we figured it'd be good to make sure she knew how to contact us, considering she was visiting us at home post-con. So we wrote and dropped off the note, then wandered back down to the lobby - only to discover a very sleepy Lynati sitting and waiting for Aaron and Hudson to come back from laser tag.
Since talking helped keep her awake, we joined her and started chatting. We tried doing a few walks around the lobby itself, and while that didn't help her, we did pass Keith David coming out of an elevator, and he said hi. Then back to the chairs, and we talked. Mara and Emambu came down eventually to tell Lynati she had a note left under her door, then they sat down and we did this fun mixed convo that floated between all of us. Eventually, most of the laser tag people came back - but not the segment that had Aaron and Hudson, which had gone off for drinks and food. So we talked some more, as CKayote joined us, and maybe GregX, until the second group straggled back in. More talking, with Aaron (and GregX if he wasn't there before), and basically we were there until 3 am.
I love con time. It doesn't work like real time, but it's way cool. Things went until everyone was too tired to really hold conversation anymore, so everyone went to bed. The noon checkout time was not fun.
However, that meant by noon we were out of our room, stuff packed in the car, and saw us sitting with all the other non-park people who were waiting for the parkgoers to get back, so they could hit the road. It was an awesome group get together, with random people talking about anything and everything. Chris Rogers discussing next year's con, Kathy Pogge talking about the joys of con running, random American politics, and all sorts of other cool stuff I've unfortunately totally forgotten.
The part I keep forgetting to write down that WAS fascinating: at some point, while we were all hanging out, Keith David wandered by with drink in hand and at least one kid in tow, and he stopped to say hello to the group. That rather predictably led to him and his family being sat down for pictures of the group, before he wandered off, telling us that he was really looking forward to the Vegas con.
He. Is. Awesome. Unfortunately, I have no idea who the heck TOOK the photos! If they see this, or someone knows, could they please pass a copy of the picture my way? IĠd love to add it to the con photo album, with appropriate credit.
We stayed around as long as possible, just hanging out, until it was clear we had to hit the road. Then heading back across the border - the stop at the border itself was interesting in two ways. One, the mail in rebate for Canadian taxes was interestingly with a massive cut (20%?) for the company doing it, rather than getting total back at the border itself. Which is just evil. Two, the bored guy quizzing us to see if we were legitimate enough to get back into the states asked us some questions. Why we were in Canada - for a convention - and what was it about - the show gargoyles - and while he didn't seem any less bored or uncaring, he did comment that he remembered the show.
.... and Disney canceled this WHY?
Anyway, there were more crazy hijinks with my lack of navigation, but in the end, we made it safely to our destination. It was interesting to check into the hotel that night. I was doing my typical thing of advertising post-con with the 2003 shirt, and as I finished signing us in, the night clerk did a literal double take at my shirt. "Where'd you get that?" After a strange moment of not getting how weird the universe is, I jumped right in to my spiel about the con. He seemed impressed, and while he laughed politely at my talk of Vegas, he did in fact write down the date of DVD release....
I love this fandom. It always amazes me how almost anyone I talk to that ever saw Gargoyles, says something along the lines of "Oh yeah, I remember that! I loved that show!"
Great con. For those interested, pictures can be found HERE - pictures taken by Quindar, because my camera decided to die on me literally the day before the con.
My favorite picture of the lot: just hanging out
Here's to Vegas, and the DVD!
For contact, e-mail me at Norcumi@backtick.net
In the meantime, if you want more rantings, you can head back HERE. Thanks for reading!