The Gathering 2001 -- 

Christine's Report 

       Our Gathering adventures really began long before the weekend arrived, as we were part of the Con Committee. Which is not, as some people would believe, a pat-on-the-back "aren't we cool?" sort of forum ... it's a year-long morass of stress, anxiety, and pressure that now, afterward, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. And Tim and I weren't even at the core of things. That unenviable honor goes to Jen, Patrick, and Kathy. 
       They were the ones worrying about the money, the guests, the hotel, all that good stuff. Tim just had the dealers to wrangle, and my job was relatively a cakewalk by comparison. Even allowing for the last-week fun-fest of getting the programs done, copied, stapled, folded, and then finding some typos and one major blunder -- the last half-dozen or so of the actual attendees wound up by accident in the "Supporting Members" list. Truly and terribly sorry about that, folks!
       Not that any of us really had it what I'd call easy. Kenna lived in the Video Room all weekend, ditto for Cindy in the Art Show. Jordan and Carol busted their heinies making sure the guests were seen to. Mitch helped out tons beforehand with all the legal stuff, making sure we were doing this right. Everyone really worked hard, and I think it showed. And let us not forget the real unsung hero of G2001 Jen's husband Alan, who built the art show panels, ran untold errands, and rode herd on a bunch of kids, all with a smile (or at least a look of strained determination) on his face. What a guy!
       Before I get down to cataloging the events and festivities, there are a few things I want to say. Firstly, to the Con Committee -- great job! It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty and lesser people would have resorted to physical violence. But in the end, we whomped together a con that surpassed all the previous ones and will be a hell of a hard act to follow (note to future Committees: I wouldn't mind being proved wrong on that one, best of luck to you all!).
       Secondly, to the guests - thank you for coming, for putting up with us, for seemingly having a grand time! The impression I got from one and all (of the Gargoyles bunch, at least) was that the show had been a standout moment in their careers, which makes me glad. I like knowing that something which means so very, very much to me and my dearest friends was not just another job for you.
       Thirdly, to Greg (who by now fits somewhere in a weird Twilight Zone of being Guest, Committee, and as always the most obsessive fan of us all) -- I meant what I said, after five years it still hasn't gotten old, hearing the presentation and seeing the videos. Over this time, I've come to admire you all the more for your creativity, your vision, and your passion.
       Fourthly, to the attendees -- it was great to see so many of you, to meet some for the first time in real life (like Josh, and Jannie, and Chris), and reacquaint with so many more (Leva, Alison, Ashlee and her mom, Anthony, dozens of others!).
       From what I've seen of other fandoms and cons in general, there seems to be one of the closest bonds among Gargoyles people. Not to mention the highest percentage of really kick-ass writers and artists. Once again, the one regret I have is that the weekend kept me so busy that it didn't allow for as much time just for sitting and chatting as I would have liked. 
       Fifthly, to the supporting members -- I wish you could have been there in more than spirit, but doing what you could for the con was a gesture above and beyond the call of duty, and it's deeply appreciated.
       Sixthly, to the sourpusses and nay-sayers who would have griped even if the banquet had cost ten bucks and been served without utensils off of Marina Sirtis' bare midriff -- I hope you got your money's worth, ya darn bunch of Grinches, and I feel sorry for you for not being able to understand what others do. But go on and gripe. If anger and bitterness is all someone's got, well, after a while, even that gets good to them.
       Seventh (and this is starting to feel weirdly like a speech), to the hotel staff -- catering crew, you were fantastic, especially tending to us at the staff breakfasts. We were assured of at least one hour on an island of serenity before the hectic bustle of the day began, and it also made sure that we all got at least one square meal. Thank you. For the housekeeping staff, well, Becca did find a hairbrush, an empty bottle, an airline ticket stub, and a plastic six-pack ring in our room that first day, so evidently deep-cleaning wasn't a priority despite the room charge. And you probably thought I was a kook for knotting the pillow and stacking towels under it, but that's because I must sleep with my head elevated and those squishy pillows did nothing for me. For the bellhop staff, apologies for not tipping your captain on the first day (when we were in a panic to get Registration set up), but that's still a pretty shabby excuse for the pretty shabby service we got whenever anyone from the con tried to get a cart. Raspberries.
       Eighth, to Becca's pals who spent so much time in the Dealers' Room playing with her -- weary parents love you! Arno, Siryn, Dubble, everyone, I owe you one! And to the kids, especially Erin and Benny Weisman and the Anderson brood, you're the best!
       Ninth (let's see if I can't make this an even ten), to my dad and his new wife Wendy -- I'm so pleased that the two of you came down to the big city to see part of my world, and I hope I'm right in assuming that you're both glad to see that at least someone in the family understands the quality of fandom that is found, in a different vein but the same bloodstream, in our re-enactments.
       Tenth, to my husband Tim and daughter Becca for supporting me and letting me drag them into this fandom to the extent that I have. This was my fifth convention and their third, which after hauling the whole family clear across the country several times just makes me all the less sympathetic to those who whine about not being able to afford it. Heck, we can't either, and yet we've done it. We might not be able to next year, probably won't in fact, but you'll never hear me blaming it on the con itself.
       I think that sums up the intro, except to say once again that it was an honor to be a part of the staff that worked so hard on this con. I share Patrick's vow that this'll be one bunch of people that don't vanish from the fandom once the Gathering's done (though I see some of those former con chairs creeping back now and then, which is good). Mua-ha-ha, you won't get rid of us that easily! 
       Least of all me ... I have the feeling that I'll always be around, one way or another, because this show and this fandom have had an impact on my life that can be rivaled by only two other factors -- gaming, and my family. Though my involvement might decrease now that it looks like my writing career is beginning to go places, I plan to write more fanfic, albeit at a much slower pace (I'm tied with actual episodes of the show now, including TGC, and have set my sights on an even hundred at least), and hope to be able to continue bringing you Avalon Mists as well as visiting the comment rooms. And someday, I want to be able to give something back to the fandom that has given me so much. I don't know what that might be, but I expect to be in love with Gargoyles, and the fandom, for many years to come.

Thursday, June 21 --
       It proves how dedicated we are when we pull Becca out of the last two days of school so we can go to a convention. I think it's a good enough reason, better than most, and luckily, so does she. 
       We were packed and ready to go when the Shuttle Express van pulled up and the driver found out that we were totally pushing the airline luggage limit. Two of the big suitcases were merchandise for our table in the Dealers' Room, and we also had a full box of Archmage of the Universe as one of our carry-ons. 
       And then, of course, the flight was overbooked and crammed to capacity. Ordering our tickets online had somehow gotten us split up, with one aisle, one window, and one across the way. But the girl in the middle seat was willing to trade, even eager because as it turned out, she and her friend had gotten split up too. Seems like the airlines should be able to organize things better than that.
       We arrived at Burbank to be greeted by Jen and Jamie Murray. Quite an ego-boost when the Con Chair and the Master of Ceremonies show up to help schlep luggage! Everything got piled into Jen's beast of a truck, and after a typical drive on the freeways, we reached the hotel. 
       I was surprised to see so many people there so early, but sure enough, there were some familiar faces milling about already, and I heard that some had even come the day before. We got checked in and hauled our stuff down to our room -- for some reason, we were in 138, down on the Terrace Level which looked out on the pool, while everyone else was on the upper floors.
       The hotel itself was very nice, though our room was nothing to write home about. But there was little time for relaxing poolside. We had program packets to put together!
       So the first order of business was to go up to 1701, the Con Suite, which had windows that only opened 5 inches to deter the clumsy, suicidal, or murderous (which was probably a god thing, all in all). From there, we could see down into the Jurassic Park ride at Universal studios; until then, I hadn't connected just how close we were.
       The next few hours were spent flirting with paper cuts. Our assembly line went thusly; Tim put the badges together and added ribbons where appropriate, I put the badges into the envelopes and the stickers on (making sure the names matched, and since I didn't hear otherwise, I guess I got it right) and added calendars for those who had pre-ordered. Then the envelopes went to Cindy, who put in a Citywalk flier and the pocket program. Last but not least, it was Kathy's job to stuff pre-bought t-shirts in.
       And then we had a mammoth pile of envelopes that we had to alphabetize and get into our limited supply of boxes. Becca was starved and we found out that chicken strips, fries, and a Sprite from room service went to the tune of 18 bucks, ouch! People wandered in and out all through this process, and there were kids everywhere.
       Eventually, the packets were done and it was time for dinner. We walked up to Citywalk, not at the time knowing about the handy little tram that circulated among the hotels, and met at what Becca calls "a beans and chips place." Greg and Carol were there, and let me see if I can recall around the table ... Kenna, Jen, Izobel, Crispin, Cindy, Stephanie, someone-whose-name-I-forget (sorry!), Tim, Becca, myself, Patrick, and Kathy. I think that was the bunch. But Becca was tired and fussy, so she and Tim left before food arrived.
       After eating, we returned to the hotel for a walk-through of the con areas. The registration desk was truly amazing, being a big marble and brass affair that looked like the concessions counter in an old-time movie house. It was also filled with boxes that would have been perfect for the packets, making Kathy and me exchange a wry look. We found where the Dealers' Room would be, the Studios, the Terraces, and the Performers' room that did double duty as the staff breakfast chamber and the video room.
       Thus ended Thursday ... not counting a saucy scandal that for the sake of those involved I won't go into here except to say I'm glad it worked out the way it did instead of the much, much worse scenarios that could have been.

Friday, June 22 --
       The day began with the staff breakfast, followed by a madcap rush to get everything down to the desk in time for registration to begin. All things considered (such as previous cons in which the badges were being tediously put together right then and there), it seemed to go very well. I say so because I wasn't told differently and didn't see it for myself, being in the Dealers' Room helping Tim set up and welcoming the other dealers. 
       The Red Cross van arrived to collect blood, but we were later to find out that I'm not the only member of this fandom with low blood pressure, and that plenty of people who wanted to volunteer were disqualified as ineligible for one reason or another. That's really a shame, so to those of you in good health, I urge you to go out and donate, and maybe save a life.
       In the Dealers' Room, we had quite a few tables with cool stuff for sale. Clockwise around the outer edge, from the doors, were cool cloaks/coats/hats, jewelry, art, cels and trading cards,, swords and weapons, sculptures and knickknacks, more art, and furs/horns/leather. In the middle was Tim's domain, where Sabledrake enterprises was proud to provide Gargoyles merchandise, and the works of Christine Morgan. We doubled up with Slash and his mom, who were selling CDs, aroma stuff, jewelry, and assorted goods. On the other side was the spot for the con merchandise (I do believe there are leftover t-shirts, calendars, and filk books still available), the space where G2002 was pre-selling memberships, a table for messages, and another for fliers.
       At the rear of the room, three tables were set aside for various functions -- gaming, a rookery area, and mug-a-guest. The rookery table, with its load of art supplies, was a big hit. So too was the Random Gargoyle Generator. Some of the random gargs were left behind, and I'll scan them for inclusion in the next Avalon Mists. For those of you who took yours with, feel free to scan them and send them my way!
       The gaming table saw its first action at noon, when I began my Elves in Black game with Warpmind and Draconis. We were pressed for time and I always go over when I try to run at a con, so we had to rush the ending because I had a panel to be on at 3 PM. 
       While the game was going on, so was the reading of the Writing Contest entries. A big thank you to Batya for volunteering to read the ones by those who couldn't make it or were shy about reading in front of everyone. We had some really fun and clever stories, poems, and essays, and the winning entries can be found online.
       My panel at 3:00 was Writing Successful Crossover Fiction, and I was on it with Tigris, Mara, and Gencie (Tigris and I, as well , were all wearing identical shoes, if anyone wants to make a weird conspiracy out of that, especially when It turns out Leva was wearing them too <g>). It went very well, though we never did wind up scheduling the infamous "other" panel at which we were supposed to address some of the questions that might have been inappropriate for that setting.
       Which means, I think, that we should set up a chat in the adult room specifically for the purpose of that Other Panel. Fridays after 8:30 Pacific time are best for me; anyone got any druthers?
       I took a tour through the Art Show next, and was once more reminded why I should really stick to what I do best ... these people are GOOD! Astonishingly so. I spied some familiar fanfic characters (remember, Lexy and Marisa, you promised to send me scans of the ones with Aiden! And while I'm on the general subject, Jade Griffen, I'll be looking forward to seeing that finished Becca-goyle! <g>). I was blown away by Kythera's ballpoint pen renderings as well as Stephanie's, Karine's, Aimee's, and basically all of them -- VERY impressive stuff. 
       The map (Niahmgold's ultimate Best of Show winner) was breathtaking. There were many cool items besides pics, from the painted miniatures to the stained glass to the stuffed Owen and Brooklyn dolls to the metal sculptures to the action figures ... have I mentioned what a damn talented bunch of artists we've got in this fandom? 
       The next big event that day was the arrival of Bill Faggerbakke, better late than never. We all lined up from outside the Dealers' Room to Terrace D and possibly beyond to get his autograph, with Lanny (hunkier than ever, btw) assigned to keep us all in line. Literally. When it was our turn to see Bill, Becca kept poking me and saying, "He doesn't sound like Broadway," so I suggested she ask him to 'do Broadway' for her. He asked her name, and then said, "Hello, Becca!" and she broke into a huge beaming grin. 
       It's odd, though ... you wouldn't think that a guy who is nearly seven feet tall would be able to slip away unnoticed, but that's just what happened at some point during Opening Ceremonies. Jen came over to me and asked if I'd seen him go, because sometime during the video portion of the show, he managed to sneak out. ::chuckle:: I was told it was because he had another appointment, so let's hope that was it and we didn't scare him off. Our record has been pretty good despite our worries.
       Opening Ceremonies finished off the evening with a bang. Many of the guests were in attendance, including Frank Paur (he does exist; like Todd Jensen, there had been some debate because they were the great heard-of-but-not-seen, but now Todd's been proven real too), Thom, and quite a few others. Jamie Murray, whose alter-ego Myhr was scheduled to make appearances later in the weekend, ran the show, singling out the con virgins, finding out who'd traveled the furthest -- if memory serves, the decision was a tie between Warpmind (Norway) and Siryn (Korea), despite the many Palm Pilots trying to work out the mileage -- and ribbons for those lunatics among us who had been to all five cons. I got one of those.
       A very special award was presented by Thom, who had something under his shirt he wanted us all to see, and it wasn't a new tattoo. That pretty much set the tone for Thom's entire convention experience; he kept showing us things from under his clothes. But this one was the first-ever Gathering Fan Guest of Honor trophy, given to Lexy for her unfailing efforts to support the con and encourage attendance in the face of adversity. She had no idea, and then we made her get up and make a speech which brought most of the staff and hopefully some of the audience nearly to tears. 
       Then it was time for Greg's presentation, which, as I've said, is still fun after all these years. He's warmed to it and to us quite a bit, very much one of the gang by now. In addition to the video bits, he also read a letter from Ed Asner, who was unable to attend because of hip replacement surgery (a giant get-well card for him was in the Art Show room to collect signatures). 
       Opening Ceremonies also included Siryn and Sara talking about G2002, which will be in Virginia Beach, Virginia (on the beach, as in, you could spit out the window and hit the ocean). Highlights of that one will include a talent show and a beach party, and more information will be forthcoming. 
       The only snag to the day was our increasing concern over the fate of Tim's sister Kathy. Her plan had been to drive down from San Jose and get to the hotel around 4:00. By 6:00, there was still no sign of her. We eventually found out that she had a good excuse. Kathy is a rocket scientist (she really is!) and had a luncheon meeting with a 4-star Air Force general that turned into a tour of the plant, and resulted in her not hitting the road until very late. But she made it, even if she did stagger in at 12:30 in the morning.

Saturday, June 23 --
       I woke up nervous this day, because my reading was scheduled for 10:00 AM and I was up against some pretty big-name panels. I had this terrible fear that no one would show, except for my father and his new wife, and that I'd first meet my stepmother as a loser in a big empty room. 
       As we arrived in the lobby on our way to the staff breakfast, I caught sight of a tall guy with long silver-white hair and a beard, just coming in with a blond, tan lady. Talk about timing! So we greeted my dad, met Wendy, and they went off to get coffee until programming got underway. They live in the high desert, out Highway 138 between Victorville and Pearblossom, for those of you who know the area, with a great view and water that has to be trucked in. 
       I'd borrowed a tape player from Kathy, who had brought it down just for that reason (because we couldn't have fit one more thing into our luggage) and set it up in Studio 1. One thing about the function rooms -- not only did the hotel provide water, but also pens by the boatload, notepads, and little bowls of candy. Very nice. 
       And then, wonder of wonders, people showed up! Including a good chunk of what I began calling my "international fan-club;" Denis, Warpmind, Duncan, and Guandalug were all present. From north of the border, Karine's fella Patrick wound up buying the book and closeting himself away from much of the con to just read; he would finish it late Monday night.
       I had an hour and a half all to myself, and believe me, a showoff such as myself thrives on that sort of thing. I talked about my fantasy novels, gave a quick rundown on the series to date, and then read a bit from the first chapter of Archmage of the Universe. 
       Then I shifted gears a bit and talked about the Trinity Bay books, my series of horror novels. Well, 'series' may be jumping the gun; the first one, Black Roses, will be out as an audio book in October, and hopefully the second, Gifted Children, will follow apace. I'd finished the recording of Black Roses in May and TimeFare had hustled to get a demo tape ready in time for the con. 
       The tape is 25 minutes and includes all of Chapter 7 plus an excerpt from elsewhere in the book to show off how weird the voice filter made me sound. Anyone wanting a free copy can send postage to Sabledrake Enterprises, P.O. Box 30751, Seattle WA 98103. I think Tim worked it out to a buck-seventy-five for the U.S. We'll pop one in the mail to you. It is still a little unnerving hearing myself on tape, but so far responses have been favorable.
       Next stop was the Dealers' Room again, to let Dad and Wendy look around. From our "Small World" file, the guy selling furs and stuff was a fellow re-enactor, a Buffalo Soldier, whom Dad knew from other events. Tim's sis was also there, and apparently all she had to do was walk in to utterly win Jamie Murray's heart ... by the time she started trying on velvet cloaks, he was lost. Saw Beth Weisman and the kids then, and Dad started trying to sell Beth on bringing the family to see their 'living history' shows. 
       Mitch and Aimee also passed through, toting Krispy Kremes -- these donuts are NOT overrated -- and leaving me with the weird realization that almost every time someone asked if anyone had seen one of them, the reply was "yeah, they just went for food." Now, given the way the two of them are, I have to wonder at that ... do they actually eat? Mitch remains a Ferrari (vroom!) and Aimee can safely get away with costumes that many women would never dare even try on in the privacy of a fallout shelter. But the donuts, that gave it away -- she wasn't eating them; she was feeding them to the rest of us. Aha, her scheme has been revealed! ; )
       During our visit to the Art Show, Wendy bought four or five of Demona May's pieces (and one was already framed and hanging up when we visited them the next week) and raved about everything. It turns out that her son is a gamer too, and she was relieved to find that Tim and I knew what Mark was talking about ; ) I look forward to meeting him at some future family get-together.
       After Dad and Wendy said goodbye -- which meant a trip to the pool because Aunt Kathy had taken Becca swimming -- and gone off to see Citywalk, I went to the panel on Writing and Research, which included Tuppence (such a cool name!) MacIntyre, Michael Reaves, Monique Beatty, and Lydia Marano. There were many questions about the magical and mythical elements of the show, and Michael Reaves made my day when he told how he'd one day, years later, realized that they must have used a spell from the Grimorum to let Goliath and company get over the language barrier. Because, of course, that's just what I'd used as an explanation in my fanfic, and it's neat to get that sort of around-the-corner validation. 
       Another fun bit was hearing how Michael threw in the Illuminati as a quick and easy explanation for why Matt Bluestone wouldn't be rattled by all the weirdness; he was then surprised to see it keep cropping up. But "grab it and run with it" is a great thing for a writer or a GM, as I well know, so I can relate to and appreciate what that's like.
       I really wanted to ask Lydia about the time travel thing, because every time it came up she would snarl and make some reference to how Greg basically finally stomped down his foot and said it was his universe so his rules applied. That time travel business never fails to amuse me because of the division between those who grasp it implicitly and those who insist it makes no sense. 
       With not much going on for a while, I meandered back to the Dealers' Room and saw Taliesin Jaffe and Jonathan Klein alone at their Mug-a-Guest table. Now, these are 3x3 Eyes guys and I know nothing about it, but I went over anyway and soon an anime fan (whose name escapes me!) came over and joined in, bailing me out before I could hopelessly expose my ignorance. And Taliesin, by the way, reminded me uncannily of author Don DeBrandt, whom I'd met at RadCon a couple of years ago.
       The Radio Play was scheduled for that night, auditions and rehearsals had been going on all day. But when the Dealers' Room closed, we Morgans headed out in search of food (waiting for Kathy the night before, we hadn't eaten until after 9:00 and were in no hurry to repeat being that starved and headachy). The Radio Play was the director's cut of Hunter's Moon, with unseen footage and all that good stuff, and from what I heard after, it was a tremendous hit.
       So we missed it, and went to Tony Roma's instead. When we got back, I was hailed by Leva and Tigris, and the plan was to discuss some of the Third Rainbow storylines. For those who haven't yet been exposed to this cool project, it is a shared-universe sort of thing that involves many of what used to be called the "First Ladies of Fanfic." Supposedly even me, though as many people know, I don't usually do well at that sort of thing and have mainly restricted my participation to some back stories and character input. 
       But if you're looking for a good fantasy read, once you've finished with my books <g>, check it out here on the Third Rainbow site. Lots of talented writers and artists have been in on it, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it someday be in print in one form or another.
       The discussion, to the sound of Slash's softly jamming guitar, took place in the lobby but was interrupted when a flock of EMTs came rushing in and scared the daylights out of us -- Noel was ailing, but thankfully she was back at the hotel and feeling better by morning. 
 That ended the evening for me and, worn out, I headed for bed. 

Sunday, June 24th --
       This was the big day, the really busy day, tons of events going on. I started off with a "From Fan to Professional" panel at 10:00, with Meredith, Shannon, Rahsaan, Aimee, and Karine, all of us talking about the effect fandom had on our various chosen careers and some do's and dont's (in my case, with the horrible story of my first book, lots of don'ts) for anyone wanting to take the step from fandom into actually trying to make a living at writing or art.
       Next up was the Series Production panel, which had the most guests of all. They were crowded in behind the tables, all across the front of the room and bending around a little to the side. Greg introduced them all, pointing out all the ones who'd married and reproduced during the course of the show, and when I raised my hand and asked to what he attributed this phenomenal matchmaking and fertility, he replied, "romantic concept." Poor Greg; there's a drawback with him getting to know us so well ... we get to know him so well and the awe starts to wear off in favor of sass, backtalk, and general teasing. 
       The panel was fascinating and really did shed light on how much hard work and creative input by so many different people went into the making of the show. So Greg can't take all the credit (and to his credit, he doesn't), though most of the rest did agree that it was his intensity and drive that kept them going, that inspired them to do their best to keep the show the wonderful creation it was.
       Perhaps the biggest event of the day was the voice actors panel. The room was packed, and up on the stage were, in order of seating, Neil Dickson, Cree Summer, Thom, Keith David, Jeff Bennett, Gregg Rainwater, Elisa Gabrielli, and Crispin Freeman. 
       Now, Jen has been after me for months to watch Slayers and wouldn't I think Crispin would be a good voice for Jericho and I had no idea what to say (except to remind her that I don't like anime, at which point she would usually make a face and throw things at me). And what little I'd heard in conversation hadn't particularly done anything for me. But when he started talking in his speaker's voice, I could hear a sort of low, potentially evil undertone that made me think, "yeah, okay, maybe she's got something there!" Plus, he really does do an astounding Broadway impression!
       But you know, it's one thing to have my reputation precede me among the fans ... I've brought that on myself and I expect that. It's something else altogether to ask the panel a perfectly innocent question -- "What would you have liked to see done differently in the show?" -- and have Keith David point his finger at me and growl, "You  know what I would have done differently!" I mean, okay, sure, I have a pretty good idea, yeah, but still! ; )
       To the delight of all, Keith repeated his performance from G1997 and did the "Even my revenge!" line, and gave us a Goliath-snarl by request. Jeff Bennett was also a hit, showing off his amazing range (impersonating both Thom and Bill too) and generally seeming to have a good time. Cree Summer was sick that day and dragged herself to the con, big applause to her for making that effort, and had to leave before the autograph signing. Neil Dickson, whoa-baby, I could have listened to that accent all day, and he was a hottie to look at, too!
       During the autograph signing, when the line stretched all the way to Citywalk (or so it seemed), I was able to complete the set and get Jeff's signature on a copy of a pic of the three of the Trio in the studio; when I gave it to him, he groaned, "oh, God!" like he would have rather snatched it away and torn it up. But he didn't, so that one gets framed and hung on the wall, signed by all three. I also got the chance to ask Keith how his puffball Goliath was holding up, and he grinned hugely. 
       Keith had brought his little boy, and we'd scrounged up a Goliath stamper and a hat from the Dealers' Room for him (though the last time I saw the hat, Keith was wearing it so I don't know if it will get to the kid). There then followed what was for me one of the most memorable moments of the con. In the Dealers' Room, Keith was prowling around looking at the items and Jen deputized me to make sure he didn't get mobbed -- since most everyone was still in the autograph line, it wasn't much of a problem. But then he got to the sword merchant, and began testing them out, swinging them around, and ... ::gasp:: quoting from Othello! Having seen it both in Ashland and on video, I can safely say that the guy in Ashland and Laurence Fishburne have got nothing on Keith David! Okay, so maybe I'm biased, so sue me.
       All the excitement was too much for me, and knowing that we'd be up late for the masquerade, I was able to persuade Becca to come back to the room and take a nap. Which had the probably-good side effect of making me miss the auction, though all that meant was that I had plenty of spending cash to commission pics from David Wong. I understand that the auction went amazingly well, with much money garnered for the Gathering fund and for charity. Myhr is always a crowd-pleaser, with thanks to Draconis for taking over after everyone's favorite cat-man's voice started to strain.
       We had a little trouble at dinner with Becca, who'd just woken and was cranky and thought all the food was 'gross,' but after a short break and my reminding her that there was cheesecake for dessert, we came back. And it turned out there was more than just cheesecake; there were creampuff swans, chocolate cake, and all sorts of other goodies besides.
       But we were on the wrong side of the room to witness the wacky hijinks between Thom and Crispin, so I'll leave that to other Gathering reports than mine. I did tell Thom, though, that his antics made my job of writing up a report each year much more challenging!
       During the meal, awards were given out for the art show and video and writing contests, as well as door prizes. Becca and Kathy both won, Becca gloating over a full box of trading cards and Kathy getting a cool book on mythology that I couldn't pry away from her. 
       Then it was time to go suit up for the masquerade. I came back up with two Elisa Mazas, a pint-sized Becca one and a very-grown-up Kathy one (in the hot ensemble from 'Protection.'). But then Becca had an attack of stage fright and changed her mind about participating in the actual contest, so we staked out a good spot behind the judges and watched (and took pictures, lots of pictures). 
       Okay, now, I've known for some time that Batya had a quirky sense of humor, but that Duck-Tales-gone-awry skit was just bent! I think it was the quacking of the Gargoyles theme song that was the final straw reducing us to hysteria.
       Mitch and Aimee as Milo and Kida from Atlantis were amazing, and I don't just mean Aimee's low-slung skirt, though that was pretty amazing in itself. Come to think of it, there were a lot of belly-buttons on display, what John Norman creepily referred to as "the slave belly" look. And when Kathy won the Best Cleavage award (and was introduced as Myhr's future wife), she did so against some rather severe competition. 
       Shall we mention Karine's legs and a succession of short hems that flirted with indecency? And Dreamie's post-holocaust outfit? And Jen as a sleek, velvet-gowned, strawberry-blond Fox? And Cindy as a perfect Titania? Oh, hell yeah! The hotel janitors probably needed a wet-vac to get the drool out of the carpet.
       I was beginning to feel like I did when looking at the art show entries -- it's a good thing I can write!
       Costumes, oh, the costumes! Oh, the gender-bending mayhem! I can't believe that Aaron shaved for his Fox getup, and hope Mara was able to remove that inked-on goatee. Heather was a great trenchcoated Broadway. Patrick reprised his Maria Chavez, stockings and all. Kythera and Morningstar's warrior-gargs were great, as was Xenexx's medieval hunter, and so many more that I can't remember until I get my film back!
       And no mention of the evening would be complete without telling how Dreamie and Winterwolf showed up to confiscate Thom's boxers, prompting that worthy to, as is sometimes said, "drop trou" for the enjoyment of all and sundry. He was later presented with his very own pair of Backstreet Boys underpants, which we'll probably be seeing at future Gatherings. (a suggestion for the next auction -- see if he'll donate a pair <g>). 
       While the judges were away, it was karaoke time. Jen, Jordan, Coyote, and others took to the mike for some rousing renditions of various tunes, while Myhr made kitty-eyes at Kathy. Greg hadn't realized until after he made Kathy blush with her award that she was Tim's sister. At least Kathy was well and repeatedly warned in advance of how these events usually went. 
       Then, wouldn't you know, Becca decided she wanted to play after all. Although it was too late, after she showed Greg her Elisa costume, he bounded back up on stage and announced her as the winner in the Junior category (and only entrant, but hey, who's counting?). He's such a dear! Becca posed for pics with her squirtgun and her badge, and Cindy and Meredith rustled up a prize of a stamp pad that worked almost too well as the state of our hotel room could attest.
       It was a great night, a long night. The rooftop garden ballroom at the top of the hotel offered a lovely view, especially once the sun went down so the haze wasn't as visible, and the lights of the city came up like a bouquet of stars. But the con wasn't over yet, with still half a day on the morrow, and so we toddled off to bed once more.

Monday, June 25th --
       I really wasn't expecting anyone to come to the RPG panel. It was opposite the Starship Troopers guest-fest, and I didn't think we'd measure up against that kind of competition. But, just as happened on Saturday morning, I was wrong. There must have been 20 people in there, with all sorts of good questions and fun gamer war stories.
       Because the Dealers' Room was closed (an unexpected thing sort of sprung on us when we got to the hotel on Thursday), Tim was able to be on the panel with me. Which was probably the first waking hour and a half we'd spent in each other's company since getting off the plane. With both of us being longtime gamers and him managing a store, I think we did a fairly decent job presenting our talk on gaming from various angles. 
       We got over to the Studios and I commissioned three pics from David Wong. The first two were elven women from my game/book world, a songstress named Kyra Ro'Sallin and Kai Tilanne, my Morvalan warrior-priestess. Neither buxom. David whined and fussed. So I thought, "okay, fine," and also signed him on to do one of Godiva, in all her glory. I can't wait to see them!
       All too soon, it was time for Closing Ceremonies. A surprising amount of people had stuck around well into this last day, so the room was probably half filled, and many of the guests were still there too. Best of all, the entire Con Committee was alive and relatively unscathed, grainy-eyed from lack of sleep, but basically in good shape. Not, mind you, that any of us are in a hurry to do this again. We'll happily pass the torch to next year's bunch, just with the admonishment not to drop it! ; )
       Tim hitched a ride with Patrick to take Jamie Murray to the airport and pick up our rental car, because our vacation wasn't even half done by that point. Oh, and while I normally have nothing but the highest regard for the great folks at Steve Jackson Games, what were you guys thinking to pass up the chance for a cover done by Jamie? Tim and I were saying to each other that should it fall to us to self-publish the print version of Black Roses, we should try to get him to do the cover and sweeten it by having Kathy model for it ... she could pass for Theresa Zane ... sure!
       The con, though, was done, and the survivors went off their separate ways while the staff staggered up to the con suite to collapse and decompress. Brynne Chandler, Russ Isler, and Greg hung out with some of us there for a while, but eventually they left and the boozing began.
       That sounds worse than it was ... there was a lot of eating, too. For the rest of Monday night, a die-hard bunch of folks sat around and watched anime (I got roped into that somehow, but finally rebelled and read, Swan Song by Robert McCammon, a fabulous end-of-the-world book) and munched and ate and passed around sketchbooks. 
       Who did we have up there? Let me cudgel my failing memory -- Jen, Kathy, Patrick, Kenna, me, Tim, our Kathy, Becca (who napped amid noise and chaos for three hours), Karine, Patrick, Kythera, Mooj, and appearances by Lanny, Hudson, Jen's family, Cindy, Meredith, Seth, and more that I will probably remember after I post this and go, "D'oh!" Which is an actual word now, apparently.
       Anyway, there was drinking, there was noshing, there was sketching (Jen -- finish that pic of my two boys!!! <g>), there was lap-sitting (though no lap-dancing that I saw), people falling asleep on each other, and lots of anime. Becca is now into Slayers, and Tim and his sis both want to see the rest of Shaman Princess Girl's School or whatever the heck it was. 
       During all that, we also experienced a rolling blackout that left the hotel with one elevator (presumably not the one that Karine and Patrick were trapped in for an hour or more doing who-knows-what), so there were a few adventuresome climbs up and down from the 17th floor, good exercise, as if we hadn't all been running around like mad for the past four days.
       But finally, when I'd finished my book and Patrick had finished my book and told me how great it was, bedtime was long overdue.

The rest of the trip --
       Tuesday morning found some folks still around in the lobby, so we said our goodbyes and could have sold a few more books if they hadn't all been packed away (Wingless -- e-mail me!). With Kathy in her black Mustang -- she's that pretty, and that smart and nice, and she also makes more money than Tim and I put together -- and us in our rental car, we drove to La Mirada to visit my mother. 
       Disneyland tickets are available at Disney stores for a discount, a meager one but every little bit helps. When we walked in, a cheery chipper gal approached me with a bright twinkly smile and asked who my favorite character was, just itching to direct me to all their Eeyore or whatever. So I looked her dead in the eye and said, "Goliath, from Gargoyles."
       Her smile flash-froze and her eyes glazed and she managed a weak little, "Oh," and that was it for her salesmanship.
       Wednesday was for Disneyland, and the lines weren't very bad at all. I'm still an ardent fan of Fast Pass, which really takes the trial out of waiting with a 6-year-old in the hot sun. We'd just been in November, but this time we got to many rides we'd missed last time -- Big Thunder Mountain, Tom Sawyer Island, the Storybook Canal (they should have a Castle Wyvern in there). Roger Rabbit was still closed and Becca was furious about that. 
       The Villains store is getting weak. Half of the shelves were devoted not to villains but to Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey. And still no Chernabog plushie. Rats!
       On Thursday, we drove into the high desert for a barbecue at Dad's place, and spent the night there. They loaded us down with costumes for the re-enactment on Saturday. Friday was spend in Rosamond, a town near where I grew up, visiting with my brother, his wife, and their kids (twins on the way, too!). Then, Saturday morning, we dressed in Civil War fashion and drove to Oceanside, where Tim joined Dad (Major Atkins)'s Confederate army and tried to storm Little Round Top.
       The re-enactment was a lot of fun. The cannons were loud, watching the battle was very neat, and Dad's right, it does make a difference to dress up. It's just like an SCA event except a few centuries later. The ones dressed up, even if they're not in the actual groups, feel much more a part of things than the onlookers in jeans and shorts.
       One problem with my outfit, though, was that I got sunburned on my forehead and along an unaccustomed central part in my hair, since I had to do it period style. I also got sunburned along the square neckline and the hem of the dress picked up a thousand stickerbushes, but we took a break in the middle of the day and escaped to our motel to cool in the pool and pick the weeds from my skirt before pinning it all back up. I'll post some of those too, why not.
       Sunday, we took a leisurely drive up the coast, through the pretentious artsy beach towns, and wound up back at Mom's for the night. Monday, it was back to the airport, and then an agonizingly long Shuttle Express ride home because of accidents along I-5. 
       But we made it, and except for one of Becca's hamsters being dead in its cage on the morning of the 4th, all was fine at home too. 
       So that was how the Morgans spent our summer vacation. We had a wonderful time at the con and after. I hope those of you who also went to the Gathering had an equally good time. Once again, a tremendous round of applause to the con staff, the volunteers, the guest wranglers, the dealers, the hotel, the guests, and most of all, to each and every one of you who've helped make this fandom what it is!

Christine Morgan
July 6th, 2001 

Previous Essays:
Gathering 97 / Gathering 98 / Gathering 99 / Gathering 2000
MageLore novels / Sabledrake Magazine / Christine's Gargoyles Page
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