The Gathering '97 -- Christine's Eye View
||The East Coast looked, to my born-and-bred Western eyes, extraordinarily
flat. Sure, Los Angeles is just a massive urban sprawl, but on most days
you can still see the surrounding mountains through the pall of fog. Not
so here. But my spirits flew as for the first time in my life I looked
upon another ocean.
Now, I'd managed to convince myself that the thing about New York drivers had to be exaggerated. I was about to be proven very wrong. The airport shuttle ride was scarier than the entire five and a half hour flight! Turn signals were all but unheard of, and the lane markers down the streets seemed to be purely decorative. I'd never before fully understood the term "double-parked." The pedestrians were as crazy/brave as the drivers, thinking nothing of charging across three lanes of traffic to get a taxi, and the city might as well have saved a few bucks and not bothered to put up the "Walk / Don't Walk" signals.
Here in Seattle, people hardly ever honk. Maybe, after spending better than half a minute sitting behind someone at a green light, a Seattlite will make an apologetic little "meep" sound just to politely urge the other along. Quite the contrary in New York, where people were leaning on the horn in seeming attempts to get the drivers ahead of them to go ahead and run the red light!
Amazingly, our shuttle neither witnessed nor experienced so much as a scratch or fender-bender, and on the way treated me to an extensive view of New York. The Lincoln Tunnel -- every time I read "The Stand" by Stephen King, Larry Underwood's trek through that dark tunnel gives me the shivers. Having now seen for myself just how freakin' long that tunnel is, and being able to imagine quite vividly what it would be like to be trying to make my way along that narrow walkway with nothing but a Bic lighter to guide my way, surrounded by the jam of cars with their bloated, dead passengers ... brrrrr!
New York itself impressed me as being grand, dirty, intimidating, scary, and immense. A lot of gorgeous buildings to admire! When, that is, I wasn't huddled whimpering and hiding my eyes in the back of the shuttle!
At last, we arrived safely at the Mayflower Hotel. I don't know what I was expecting, but this wasn't exactly it. Kind of small, old, fancy but at the same time a tad dingy. It was squarely across from Central Park. I dragged my suitcase inside and was almost immediately accosted by an energetic sprite of a lass who turned out to be none other than the great Merlin Missy (whose honorary plaque was one of the things weighing down my luggage; more on that later).
After being told we couldn't quite check into our room yet (it was at this time only nine or so in the morning), we went up to the Con Suite (room 209) and met Batya, Jordan, Laura, and a few other people, most of whom were in their jammies and all seemed to be operating on only slightly more sleep than I was.
Ah, conventions! I've been to several, mostly game ones, and some things are all the same. There is an instant cameraderie among a group of people who have all come together for the same reason. In this case, it was made even stronger because so many of us already knew each other via e-mail and chats and the like.
Of course, nobody looked like anybody expected them to, but I think we all got over that right quick enough. And now, thanks to the multitude of photos, them as was there will be seen by them as wasn't!
Official word was that Greg Weisman would be joining us later that afternoon, but that Keith David would not be. This latter bit of news crushed my tender spirit like a rosebud beneath a hobnailed boot, and I'm sure I wasn't alone!
The remainder of Saturday afternoon was spent meeting people, and helping out with the snack shopping and registration desk (for a first-time con, all things considered, I think the slight organizational snafus were handled remarkably well, and Mae Lee did not collapse from a nervous breakdown, which speaks well for her strength of character).
I also snoozed for a couple of hours. From our 12th floor window, we had a view of a slice of the park. "Volcano" was available on the pay-movie channel, which some of us joked would be a way we could boast that we'd at least seen Keith David!
Of course, I napped at exactly the wrong time, because I missed the world premiere of TGS' first story! This was most aggravating!
The dealer's room was in business, with a table of tempting treats (Gargoyles and other animated favorites). Jordan kept his button-maker clunking out fun sayings and favorite quotes. T-shirts were also on sale.
And the fan art was awe-inspiring and humbling. Finally, for those who didn't already know, Christi Hayden was demonstrated to be as good an artist as she is a writer, which is just so unfair! Aimee Major and Kanthara (who also both happen to be on the gorgeous side) had some truly wonderful paintings and drawings on display as well. And many other talented individuals also shared their skill and talent to the delight of all.
The first official event took place when we all got together for a game of "Manhattan Chairs," a Hollywood Squares kind of thing. Thanks to a communication gap enhanced by the fact that none of us knew what Greg looked like, nobody knew he had arrived and he didn't know he was supposed to be in the "center square." So they made me fill in, but luckily just before I had to answer my first question, Greg announced himself.
This, again, was a case of him not looking like any of us expected. I'm not sure exactly what I thought he should look like, but a youngish cutie with a more-than-passing resemblance to Val Kilmer was a most welcome surprise!
So, I was off the hook with that weird little game. Greg took his chair and the contestants were given a mix of Gargoyles and other trivia (our players -- A Fan and Kanthara). Poor Kanthara and Tara O'Shea at one point were blindfolded and had their hands put in bowls of salad dressing or tartar sauce or some other whitish goo and made to guess what it was.
Afterwards, Greg made a hasty escape and the rest of us got ready for our buffet reception event. By now, I had realized that I was not going to get used to my fame, infamy, notoriety, whatever you want to call it, any time soon! Having Missy (my pal, my pet, my sugarpuff, don't get mad but you did embarrass me!) introduce me as THE Christine Morgan, or having people want to take my picture ... I hadn't expected such celebrity, such ... yes, gushing is a good word! I was amazingly flattered but also more than a little shocked!
I had my revenge on Missy, though, when the time came to present her with her plaque, a tribute from her adoring Fan Club. All of this was organized very rapidly by Jay Sprenkle, who got several of us to write for a newsletter and made up the plaque and badges. (side note -- I volunteered to carry the plaque and had it sent to my workplace so I'd be sure to get it, all without consciously realizing that Jay's name was startlingly similar to an artist-activist-mad-bomber here in Seattle, and the arrival of this large box with his name on it caused my boss some consternation! When I heard of this, I was strongly tempted to kick out the sides of the box, scorch the edges, blacken my face with soot, and go knocking on her office door. "Debi ... where do we keep the staff injury forms?").
At any rate, the plaque was presented with all due ceremony, and excerpts from the newsletter were read, and all the while Missy went through about three dozen shades of red and purple. And yes, she did vow to gruesomely maul Jay, and yes, the entire thing was captured on video.
Some time after that, and I'm still not sure how this came about, I found myself and Missy and Tara in the middle of a re-enactment from "City of Stone." With two people (was it Constance and Batya?) sprawled at our feet to be Demona and MacBeth, we intoned the lines of the Weird Sisters: "We have written their stories. They are our responsibility. They are our children." This, too, was captured on video.
Eventually, I retired to bed while everyone else was still partying on or watching the Gargoyles marathon in the con suite. I slept like a dead thing for about ten hours and woke in time to go out to breakfast with Missy and two of our roomies, Amy and J.C. I was under orders from my East Coast boss (the same one worried about the mad bomber) to try a "real" bagel while I was there instead of the "round white breads" we have here. So I did, and yes, it was different, more chewy, but not such a transcendent breakfast experience that I'll never be satisfied with another bagel again.
We hastened back to the hotel for the walking tour. Thanks to a bit of confusion, there wound up being three tours that left at a spectrum of times between ten thirty and eleven. At any rate, the tour managed to be one of the best and worst parts. Best because it was splendid seeing Belvedere Castle and Cleopatra's Needle and a bunch of neat buildings (shot many a picture, I did!) but worst because I hadn't brought the right kind of shoes and walked my feet to tatters and pulled something in one leg that made me lurch about like Long John Silver for about four days.
At Belvedere Castle, we held another re-enactment, to the amusement and/or concern of the other tourists. It must have looked pretty strange, after all -- six people crouched frozen in fearsome garg poses, two women catfighting ("you fight like a rookie!"), and two guys standing there making remarks like "this is diverting," and "you don't know the half of it."
Finally, we made it back to the hotel and I went upstairs to wrap my abused footsies in cold wet towels for an hour or so. Then it was time for the highlight of the day, Greg's talk.
Saturday, he'd seemed a bit out of sorts and not all that tickled to be there, but Sunday he was much more -- if you'll pardon the expression -- animated. He showed us three video clips: the very first ever pitch for the show, a teaser which would in the fullness of time become a preview trailer on the Nightmare Before Christmas videotape, and a storyboard composite sort of thing about a hoped-for spinoff called "Bad Guys" (some former villains forced to work together for a good cause).
Greg also fed our fire and hunger with funny stories about how the show came to be, the many name changes Elisa had undergone (originally Morgan Reed -- dunno about the rest of you, but it sounded way too Batman for me!), the adventures in casting voice actors, how there came to be so many Trek veterans involved, and some of his ideas about what would have come next.
I think we worried him a little. When, during the promotional video, the Greg on the screen said things like "can no more stop protecting the castle ..." and we all came in strong with the rest of the line, or all the countless other ways we demonstrated our obsession, he kinda got a deer-in-the-headlights look for a while. Pleased, yes. Flattered, yes. But when Tara mentioned "following" actors and artists we liked, he looked at her like she was a stalker waiting to happen!
He also decided to have a little fun with us and at one point when he mentioned Keith David, glanced to the back of the room and said, "and here he is now." So with hearts in our throats and skin all a'tingle, we whirled as one and of course it _wasn't_ him, whereupon Greg was treated to many a howl of "don't _DO_ that!"
So, being a trickster himself, naturally he did it again, and this time nobody believed him ... and then in walked Keith David. We screamed as one and shot to our feet in a standing ovation. The Beatles couldn't have gotten a more enthusiastic welcome. And when Greg urged him to "say the line" and he purred: "my angel of the night," women were swooning out of their seats!
What a guy! Out of the goodness of his heart and the love for the show, he came when he wasn't supposed to! I still get misty just thinking of what a wonderful thing that was to do! When he spoke of how much the show and Goliath meant to him ... I'd been in the back of my mind half-dreading that he would see it as just a job ... flashbacks to that old Saturday Night Live skit where Shatner blasts the conventioneers for not having a life and tells them it was just a show ... oh, but not our beloved Mr. David!
We asked dozens of questions, ranging all over. About the show, the characters, the actors, other projects, and much more. Then, near the end, I raised my hand and first off asked why they hadn't given Keith David more lines in "Hercules" (he was Apollo). Such a waste of a great voice! When he mentioned having auditioned for Hades, I wasn't the only one in the room to breathe a wistful sigh. Not that James Woods didn't do a fabulous job ... but, well, I'm sure everybody understands. He promised, though, that he would be doing Apollo in the animated series coming next year. Can't wait!
My next question was, and I prefaced it by saying that I knew _I_ couldn't answer and I doubted if any of my fellow conventioneers could either, but I asked them to pinpoint their favorite Gargoyles moment. Mr. David replied by doing the "I've been denied everything -- even my REVENGE!!!" line from Awakenings, he raged it to the rafters and we screamed again ... (at this point, I should maybe mention that the room where this was going on was located just off the pricey hotel dining room, where some poor guy was trying to provide piano music to the playing customers, and we were carrying on like this!)
Greg had a harder time picking one definitive moment. He is a big Goliath-and-Elisa romantic, so most of the ones he chose had to do with that. Particularly the Hunter's Moon scene with Jason and Elisa, and Goliath on the balcony. Which is a scene that made me shriek and pound my sofa pillows into pulp the first time I saw it and indeed every time thereafter!
Eventually, Greg insisted that we wrap things up so that they could do their autograph signings and we could get ready for the Masquerade Ball (which was supposed to start at 7:30 and it was something like ten 'til seven when he finally got us to shut up!). So there instantly formed a big line for signings.
I had made two puffball Goliaths, and when my turn came, I presented them to our two guests of honor. Greg grinned, but at the same time there was a sort of wary look in his eye, I don't know, maybe he thought the puffballs were a bit too much. Keith David roared with laughter and seemed very pleased. (For the record, those of you who know me by reputation will be pleased to know that I did _not_ throw myself into his lap or ask him to sign any body parts!)
Well, after that, we all scurried to get ready for the ball. I chose to go as "generic medieval background figure" since I had a dress that would do. So I didn't have to do anything elaborate, while my roomies Missy and Tara wrestled with blue paint. Tara had to do only a foxhead, but Missy went as Demona and painted herself blue all over. I remember finding blue fingerprints on the elevator panel and knowing she had been there!
The ball was just amazing. The costumes were purely incredible! We had three Xanatoses and as many Foxes, half a dozen Owens (one with a stone hand), one Puck, one Preston Vogel, an Anastasia, two Sevariuses, Martin Hacker, Vinne (and Mr. C.), Lord Oberon, the Weird Sisters, Arthur Pendragon, Princess Katherine, Mary, two Elisas, a couple of Hunters, a few Fay, Cagney the cat, one of the "stoned" humans from City of Stone, and a goodly clan of gargoyles including the startlingly impressive Angela, Brooklyn, and Elisa-as-a-gargoyle.
Also, to my delight and embarrassment, Alison and her sister (or cousin, forgive me, I got a bit mixed up in the introductions) came as my own creations of Birdie Yale and Aiden Ferguson, in school girl uniforms and complete with Hecate's Wand!
Somehow, in between taking picture after picture, I found time to eat and have to say that the salmon was delicious, ironic as it is to travel thousands of miles to have Pacific Northwest salmon! And the cheesecake was simply scrumptious!
Also, and I didn't personally witness this but we all sure did hear about it, there was another bit of a re-enactment! Brooklyn (Lenny) went outside and did the famous "Yo, taxi!" This resulted in one scared cabbie and a rather pissed-off member of the hotel staff getting on our collective case, but oh! it was funny!
After they had cleaned up the aftermath of dinner, we got back together in the same room for some filksongs (many of which are purely brilliant or feindish or both; if you've not encountered them, I strongly recommend tracking them down!) and readings.
Missy and I -- by the way, she also chose to finally reveal that she and Nancy Brown are one and the same, two of our fave fanwriters for the price of one! -- decided that it was time to share our Goliath Chronicles rewrites.
Several months ago, when the show turned out to be a tad on the disappointing side, some of us writers decided to use the "official" plot synopses off the Buena Vista site to write our own versions of the episodes. Due to other commitments and concerns, only a few of us actually finished. She wrote "Broadway Goes to Hollywood: The Musical," and although she went on a frantic and exhaustive quest to get the thing printed out, she decided not to read it after all.
I, since I seem to be regarded as something of a romantic, wound up with "For It May Come True." I read it aloud to a group of around 15, and it was quite favorably received if I do say so myself! Even if we were interrupted at one point when Greg wandered back in, took one look at the people in costume, and practically fled!
He did come back again, and offered to show the video clips in the Con Suite for the benefit of those who had missed his presentation earlier. So we all crammed in to watch them again. Then we urged him to talk more about the show, had the costume contest awards, and watched some other music-videos that people had painstakingly put together, until finally Greg pleaded exhaustion.
That was Sunday. Monday morning, after Tara and Missy had to leave early (I never even saw Missy after she tried to get rid of the blue paint -- sure hope it came off!), I packed my bag and checked out, then hung around the Con Suite for a while. Which was fun even if I did have to sit through The New Olympians.
While we were there, Batya conducted an auction of some Gargoyles goodies donated by fellow conventioneers, and brought in a fairly obscene amount of cash! I myself paid fifteen bucks for a watch because I just had to have it, and Lady Grunella had to bid up to 75 smackers to get the Applause figurine and neat-o cardboard box with unfolding skyline scenes away from me!
We all ended up milling about the lobby (it'll be a miracle if the management welcomes us back) while people said their goodbyes and left. I came home with four rolls of film, sore feet, the punchiness that results from needing about twelve more hours of sleep before being able to function, and lots of terrific memories! I only wish that more people had been able to join us!
Maybe next year!
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